Friday, May 28, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
It rained hard last night; annoying as I wanted to climb today and couldn't, but at least it cleared the air a bit and the hayfever lessens a little. This morning as the puddles receded a scum of green was everywhere - a fine paste of sodden pollen.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Is good design always in part as much luck as judgement? When the Black Diamond Hotwire karabiner was released to the global climbing community I wonder if BD had any idea just how good a krab they had made? For any non-climbers who have been interested enough to read this far, until the Hotwire was released in, I think, 1995 all karabiners used a metal bar with a spring inside for the opening gate. Often now called ‘solid gates’ (as opposed to ‘wire gates’ like the Hotwires), the original design was more complicated and heavier. BD in using the wiregate design found that they could actually make the karabiners stronger – the few grammes saved by the gate design could be transferred to other parts of the karabiner body meaning a burlier design was possible at a relatively low weight – strong and light being the holy grail for climbing equipment designers. Wiregates also resist freezing better and don’t suffer from gate-flutter (which is too geeky to explain to anyone who doesn’t know what it is, but – in short - it ain’t cool).
Now I think every manufacturer that makes karabiners offers wire gate version – many just adding a wire-gate to a previous solid gate design. But the Hotwire was designed from the ground up as a wire-gate and has been unchanged for 15 years because the design was pretty close to perfect from the start. Other manufacturers now have wire gate krabs that are as good, but often after going through various less successful models to get to that point. But the Hotwire was not only the first ever wiregate krab sold to climbers, but for a long time arguably the best. Sadly, this year Black Diamond has removed the Hotwire from its range – but 15 years is a pretty good run for an item of climbing equipment. But happily they are replacing it with the new Hotwire (hurrah!) – they look great but have a pretty big legacy to live up to.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Still on a cement theme, last weeks episode of This American Life had a remarkable interview with one of the tunnel owners who runs a business smuggling things into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. He noted that building materials still make up a lot of the produce going into Gaza after the war a year and a bit a go, but bizarrely now they are smuggling a lot of guns out of Gaza and into Egypt where they command a higher price. Supposedly the Hamas government in Gaza has banned the public carrying of weapons, plus there are so many stockpiled in the strip, there are now plenty of spares to be sold off to Egyptian crooks.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Monday, May 03, 2010
A gang of youths managed physically to prevent fire officers from extinguishing an open fire in Näsinkallio Park. They also interfered with fire hoses being used to tackle the blaze started by the youths. The fire brigade was forced to leave the scene after the gang attacked rescue vehicles with bottles. Police were called in to restore order.This happens regularly in rougher parts of the UK where any uniformed service represents the state and therefore a target of anger for some, but I haven't heard of it happening here before. I happened to be talking to a Finnish firefighter last week who is currently doing policy work. He was telling me about how the first responders on the scene of the Sello shooting in Espoo just after Christmas last year were firefighter, but they then had to leave the scene because they don't carry body armour in their fire engines and when the police got there they didn't want people in the shopping centre without vests on. Clearly firefighter don't expect violence against them as one of the risk they have to deal with. The paramedics do have vests in their ambulances and went in with armed police escorting them but only after some time had elapsed and unfortunately all the victims had died - although this is not to suggest that any could have been saved by paramedics getting to them quicker.
Like firefighters everywhere I'm sure the crew that turned up in Tampere weren't by any means softies, which makes you think the violence they faced was probably more than the YLE story's wording suggests.
On a vaguely connected note; whilst celebrating Vappu in a club last Friday night - a bit of a hipster/hippy kind of place full of harmless, friendly student types, I noticed the bouncer - who whilst kinda beefy and having that don't-mess air about him otherwise fitted in with the clientèle - was wearing a stab vest under his t-shirt. Is this now standard for Helsinki doormen?