March 31st, 2010

Odd Lots

  • I've been thin on Contra entries this month for a number of reasons, mostly because I've been putting the bulk of my creative energy into finishing "Drumlin Wheel." Nailed the first draft (after nine years!) about an hour ago. Originally scoped out at about 11,000 words (like "Drumlin Boiler") it ended up at 14,500. As always, when something major emerges from my subconscious I tend to hate it for a couple of weeks, after which I can fix what's wrong and like it again. More on this at some point.
  • While in Hawaii recently, we heard whale songs through a hydrophone that the tour boat crew had tossed into the water, and I immediately wanted one of my own. (We hope not to wait another five years to go back to Hawaii.) Here's an article on how to make your own hydrophone, which is nothing more than a waterproof mic on a (long) cable.
  • I finished reading Fat and Cholesterol Are Good For You by Dr. Uffe Ravnskov shortly after we got back from Hawaii, and was about to write a review when I realized that Tom Naughton had already done it--and written just about what I would have.
  • Somebody put a window in the side of one cylinder of a 4-stroke engine, and took a slow-mo video of the action inside the cylinder during actual operation. An amazing thing, even though some frames are missing from the exhaust stroke.
  • Oh, I've seen sillier things than this...but not recently.
  • And finally, CNN reminded me that the original Xerox copier, model 914, was fifty years old yesterday. The article is marginal and doesn't even include a color photo of the gadget, of which I repaired many many many between 1974 and 1977. There's a better photo of the Brown Beast here, along with numerous other Xerox goodies.