Thursday, June 29, 2006

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the slogan of the complacent, the
arrogant, or the scared. It's an excuse for inaction, a call to
non-arms. It's a mind-set that assumes (or hopes) that today's realities
will continue tomorrow in a tidy, linear and predictable fashion. Pure

General Colin Powell

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We are making our final approach

I think I'll just get off here.

Once again, it's time to go back to the airport!

Monday, June 26, 2006

This weekend's strangest story

I'm going to post this story without much commentary. Just think what it would have been like if that thing actually managed to ring the doorbell!

On Penny Creek Drive in Bluffton, South Carolina, there was a knock, knock, but it was no joke. In a matter of moments, amateur photographer Richard Holinski ripped off the pictures that tell the story. A wayward 6-foot alligator was seemingly trying to ring the doorbell at a neighbor's home.

Why did the gator go for the front door? Neighbors suspect the smell of chicken teriyaki grilling in the backyard.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Where's the ignition switch?

There was once a time when a car only needed a steering wheel, pedals, maybe a gear shift and an ignition switch. Even today with the addition of air conditioning, power locks, power windows, and audio systems, you really shouldn't need much more than a couple dozen extra buttons and knobs. So why in the world would someone need this many gauges and buttons?!!

found via makezine

Friday, June 23, 2006

Let me stell you a tory

If you've never heard of spoonerisms then it's really time to do some catching up!

A spoonerism is basically a play on words where you switch letters or little bits of words for humerous effect. Imagine for a moment the confusion it would create if you balked into a war and orderd a bamburger and a heer!

Many people have created entire stories filled with spoonerisms. Of course they have their greatest effect in spoken word, but you can find plenty of hillarious stories over at Goonerisms Spalore where they've been meducating the asses since 1997 (oops, I said a wordy dird!)

Take, for example, the story of Rindecella. She was the gretty pirl who lived with her mugly other and sad blisters. There's even a wonderful MP3 of this story so you can get the full effect.

Go take a look. I'm sure you'll find fomething sunny.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Home, Home on the...

I don't find it odd that someone thought of this, but I'm a little surprised someone with an old oven actually took the time to set it up.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Homemade air conditioner!

Back when Bo and I started rooming together at U of I we had no air conditioner. So what do you think 2 engineering types do when it's the first week of class and you're sweating to death in a cramped dorm room? You build your own air conditioner! That's why I like this little contraption.

Apparently the cooler is full of ice water. The copper coil is submurged in the water and an aquarium pump is used to pump water through a circuit from the coil in the cooler to the coil strapped onto the fan.

Bo and I had a similar system, but since I came up with part of the design I naturally think it's a little better than this one. Rather than using a 2 heat exchanger system (one in the cooler and one on the fan) we simply pumped ice water from the cooler to a heat exchanger. Even better, I managed to get an old radiator to use as a heat exchanger. This had the advantage of having much more surface area than a simple copper coil. It was large enough to cover two small fans rather than one.

I suspect that the device in the picture would only create a cool breeze, while the radiator system actually cooled the room fairly well. Of course it did come at a cost. Bo and I had to fill the cooler with ice every 30 minutes or so. At least the ice in the dorm was free.

In the end, it turns out that the best part of the air conditioner system was the attention. Our room was a small time tourist attraction for a while, and even a couple semesters later I had a guy ask me "Did you know there were two dudes in Allen Hall who built their own air conditioner?"

Monday, June 19, 2006


Sudoku puzzles have become pretty popular. I see people working them in airports, on plains, and in waiting rooms. There are pocket sized puzzlebooks, online sites, even handheld electronic sudoku games. You can use these puzzles to sharpen your mind every spare moment of every day, especially since THIS product became availible.

That's right, you can work sudoku puzzles in the bathroom! I'm going to skip obvious pun about the quality of the puzzles. (I don't need to be crude just for the sake of a bad pun.)

The puzles look pretty simple. Which is good, because I'd hate to spend 10 or 20 minutes just to get a square of toilet paper. Best of all, if you get frustrated with a puzzle you get the idea.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How appropriate!

I just found out that there really is a duct tape festival (not just the one invented for the 'red-green show.') Even better, it's held on Father's day weekend. Nothing says happy Father's Day like duct tape!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Everyone is a critic

It's time for a little dose of culture

One of Britain's most prestigious art galleries put a block of slate on display, topped by a small piece of wood, in the mistaken belief it was a work of art. . . But the slate was actually a plinth -- a slab on which a pedestal is placed -- and the stick was designed to prop up a sculpture. The sculpture itself -- of a human head -- was nowhere to be seen.
What I want to know is, will the artist still get credit even though he didn't originally intend to display just the hardware? Either way, I don't think is the way to get a head in the art world.

Seriously though, what does this say about contemporary art and audiences? I would think that a piece of stone and a stick might have made people think they were missing something. Maybe?

Anyhow, I'm off to prepare my latest piece of art for its unveiling. I call it Easel.

Small town America

Brought to you courtesy Brucetown VA

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More railfanning

I wasn't expecting to have another railfanning post so soon after the last one, but I'm back in Virginia which means I've had a few chances to get photos from the shortline near the place where I'm working. In fact, I had just pulled into the parking lot when I noticed this coming down the tracks.

There's nothing too special about that shot. Nice, but not too unusual. Hold on though, what's that behind the lead locomotive

Looks like a home-built locomotive from the Winchester and Western. If I'm not mistaken this locomotive is actually a slug. (For the uninitiated, at low speeds, the diesel engine in a typical locomotive can generate much more electricity than it's motors can actually use, so locomotives that frequently operate at low speeds are often coupled with units that have powered trucks and no diesel engine)

This picture was taken the next day.

The neat thing is that they have apparently added a cab with controls to the slug, so they don't have to deal with the usual problem of having an obstructed view. From this view it looks a little bit like a normal locomotive, but it still has a lot more character than your average EMD unit.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

William Shakespeare

I don't care if it sounds sappy. It's still a good rule.

But I just got here!

It looks like I'm headed to the airport again. As the expression goes, "There's no rest for the wicked, and the righteous need none."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Things that end up where they shouldn't - 3

Just a little closer, little closer... eh, good enough.

Railfan delight

I've been in the Champaign=Urbana area this weekend for the wedding of two very dear friends of mine. As a matter of courtesy I won't be posting any of their wedding pictures online, but I did get a few other pictures while I was in town.

Being a groomsman, I didn't have to spend too much time getting ready for the ceremony. Unlike the bridesmaids it only takes 2 minutes to do my hair and 10 minutes to dress, so I spent a little time walking and driving around town.

While I was just south of town I was driving along the highway next to the Illinois Central tracks when I saw something unusual up ahead. At first I could only make out the headlamps of a slow moving train, but as I got closer I noticed some thick clouds of smoke drifting out over the road. At first I thought it was a locomotive with a bad turbo throwing up smoke, but as I got closer it became clear that the smoke was not coming from the top of the locomotive.

I pulled over into a field road and quickly snapped these pictures as the train went by.

That is a Loram rail grinder. The Loram company has several of these that travel around the country servicing various stretches of track. The basic idea is that a series of grinding wheels re-shape the profile on the top of the rail to it's original dimensions. This is important because only a small portion of the rail is supposed to make contact with the wheels on locomotives and cars.

Apparently this section of track gets some kind of work every year or so. I remember spotting a rail grinder on a siding about a year ago and the year before that, new rail was laid in many places the year before. It isn't particularly surprising as this is one of the main lines out of Chicago to the South, so it gets plenty of traffic.

But enough discussion, I'm going to go back and look at those flying sparks again!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Things that end up where they shouldn't 2

I'll be away this weekend , so I doubt I'll be posting, In the meanwhile, here's another in the series of things, that shouldn't have happened the way they did.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Government lessons!

Some of these are in my own personal quote file, but I think the rest need to be put in the file too.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress....
But then I repeat myself. - Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. - Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. - George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man ....which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. - G Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. - James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. - Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. - P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. - Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. - Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. - Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! - P.J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. - Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you! - Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. - Mark Twain (1866)

Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it. - Unknown

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. - Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. - Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. - Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. - Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

There is no distinctly native American criminal Congress. - Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. - Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. - Thomas Jefferson

Blatantly stolen from Mr. Completely and The Attic Downstairs; both excellent blogs.

Don't mess with Karma

Whether or not you believe in karma, chances are you can appreciate it when people get their comeuppance. I find it particularly satisfying whenever this involves an arrest for criminal activity.

For instance, take the story of the would be bicycle thief who was chased down by a papergirl. Aside from being arrested, he will now be known as the guy who couldn't get away from the girl that delivered the morning paper. Good news really does travel fast.

Of course there is no law against corny jokes, though they could make people want to hurt you.

Speaking of getting hurt, a little warning to people who think they can make an easy buck by snatching purses. Be careful who you pick on. You never know who is going to fight back.

And best of all, our last newsmaker really should find something a little quieter to do. Not only did he lose his shirt (his would be victim ripped it off) but he got hit by two (not one; TWO!) cars before being picked up by the police.

It just goes to show that true justice does not involve the police.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Right tool for the job?

Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time, like the unfortunate soul who managed to run a car off of this pier.

But what happens when the wood be hero of the story does something that...well, let's say he should have known better.

Hmm, now this is more of a problem. Having had one mix up, apparently people tried to fix things by calling in the crane they should have used in the first place.

The car was out of the water in no time, but what's this? They're trying to rescue the crane that fell into the drink earlier.

Any chance of quitting while you're ahead?

I guess not. Now how are they going to explain this?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

Inanimate objects are classified scientifically into three major categories - those that don't work, those that break down, and those that get lost

Russell Baker

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Just what I needed

It appears I've salvaged all that I can from my burnt out harddrive.

When I got home I started getting boot failures and unusual clicking/grinding noises, so I finally bit the bullet and bought a new tower. I tried to salvage data from the old harddrives only to find out that the secondary HD (not my boot drive) was the one that wasn't working properly. I was able to run it long enough to copy the essential data, but now it refuses to let me read any files at all.

So what do you do with a dead drive?

I'm not sure if there's any practical usage, but this one looks fun. Meet the HD Grinder!!

World's worst, alarm clocks

I'm currently fighting the effects of the time change from Singapore to central US (11 or 13 hours depending on how you figure it) so I figured this would be a good time to dig up the list of worlds worst alarm clocks.

My personal favorites are numbers 3 and 4: the blowfly and the drill sergeant.

Supposedly this thing will start flying around and making noise until you shut it off, making it virtually impossible to sleep. I don't know how well it would fly, but I suspect something like this would also drive a cat crazy first thing in the morning. This may require an experiment.

When you need motivation in the morning I can think of few things as effective as a bugle in the ear and a raspy voice shouting commands. I could definitly use this thing until my body settles in here.

Mr. Completely

I noticed a bump in my hit counter stats this week so I started checking on where the visits were coming from. Apparently Mr. Completely, who I added to the blogroll not long ago, noticed the site and gave me a free plug.

One good turn deserves another, so be sure to visit his site too. He has plenty of interesting posts, especially if you're interested in firearms!

Thanks for the hits and the kind words!