Sometimes I stumble upon things that I find hard to believe. How about this one? I came across the obituary of a certain Günter Behnisch, in Germany a respected, well-known architect who died in 2010. His obituary, in ‘Spiegel Online‘ describes him as the man who gave post-war Germany a new face. New face? Really? Look at the photo above and then at this black and white pic. Notice anything? The tower on the architect’s model? The gun platform on the u-boat?
The more I Googled, the better it got. Coincidence? I don’t think so. If you are unconvinced, here are more:
Still not convinced? Perhaps it would help if I told you that before he became an architect, Günter Behnisch was a u-boat commander in WWII.
Herr Behnisch, it seems, had a sense of humour.
If you keep up with my blogs (and a surprising number of people do) then you will know that recently I fell into a pond. Once upon a time (though this is not a fairy story) someone said to me (about someone else) ‘He was stupid to do that. He was even more stupid to tell everyone about it’. Stupid, yes. Had I remembered that piece of advice then I would have slunk home, dripping wet, showered and changed – as one does in such circumstances. Trouble was that Pete, the farmer at Whitmuir Organics, just happened to be mulching his apple trees when I walked past on the way to my car. My secret was out. No point hiding it. Big man falls in pond. Welly boots full to brim….
My brother (who, it seems, is one of the nice people who read my blog), has taken my welfare to heart. This Christmas I unwrapped a long, well-wrapped and very flexible present that, hopefully, I shall never have to use because the pond-dipping platform on the aforesaid pond now has a safety cable around it that unbalanced folk like me can grab on to (photo here).
So, what does ‘food miles’ mean?
This is what it means: In my local supermarket I saw fruit and veg for sale –
Strawberries – Egypt
Blueberries – Chile
Raspberries – South Africa
Watercress – Portugal
Brocolli – Kenya
Peas – Guatemala
WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE DOING? Am I in a weird, alternative universe? Each single pea has travelled 5,300 miles!
Had I put this little lot into my wire basket I would have bought a small collection of fruit and veg that had travelled almost 27,000 miles –TWENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND MILES TO GET TO MY FRIDGE. That is more than the circumference of the earth.
What is more, they were flown here. Yes, I know what you are going to say, they didn’t come on their own, they flew in cargo planes along with their friends, other fruit and veg from far and wide, equally anxious to grace our tables. But so what? Just think about it… this HAS to be wrong!
Look at the labels, see where the food you eat REALLY comes from, not from your local supermarket but from thousands of miles away. Feel guilty for buying long-distance food, and if you can’t feel guilty for yourself then feel guilty for your children, or your children’s children. Because this idiocy cannot go on.
Peas that have travelled 5,300 miles? Must be a sick joke. Surely nobody, just nobody, would knowingly eat food that had travelled so far.
How do they do it? In the last fortnight two different people, 400 miles apart, have asked me to explain how oil and gas drillers drill curved holes. Like so many things, the explanation is simple. It’s getting it right that is difficult.
wedge is blue
The old way: Drill a vertical hole. When you want the drill to go off at an angle, set a wedge-shaped length of steel (a whipstock) at the bottom of the hole and lock it in place. Drill down again. The drill gets to the wedge. The wedge is thin at the top and thick at the bottom so the drill is forced to one side. Drill further. Do the same thing again, forcing the drill over a bit more. Do it again further down the hole until eventually the drill string (the rods or pipes) are drilling sideways along a particular bed of rock. Sounds simple? Just imagine them doing all this down a hole around 20cm diameter and 2000m deep – and getting everything set in the right direction.
The new way: Steer the actual drill bit in the direction you want it to go. Rather than rotate the whole length of drill pipe from the rig at the surface, use a mud motor (powered by the pressure of drilling mud that is used to flush out the drill cuttings and to support the drillhole) to turn the drill bit. It can be fixed at an angle so it goes the way you want it to go, see picture on the left. It’s self-explanatory. Almost.
There are other methods, but I’ve probably said enough. I’m imagining eyes glazing over….
More basic stuff on oil and gas well drilling here
No, not more Egyptian mummies, Ian Rankin’s latest novel. It is the second book in the series featuring Rankin’s new protagonist Malcolm Fox. Does Fox rank as high as Rebus? In police terms, yes – they are both DIs. In terms of readablity and unputdownableness (spellchecker eat your heart out) then also yes. Rankin has got it right. It must have been hard for him to drop Rebus but it was the right thing to do, he quit when he was on top. For a while I wondered if he would ever get into it again, it seemed to take him a while. Real writers just can’t stop. They get there in the end.
More Ian Rankin here