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August 2019

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Odd Lots

  • I was wrong about Diesel engines being easy to make, as I suggested in my entry for March 5, 2012. Fuel injection, as it turns out, is a bitch. You're trying to divide oil into a multitude of very small droplets of (reasonably) consistent size. Gasoline carburetion, by comparison, is a snap. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht, an automotive engineer, for the reminder.)
  • I suspect it's easier to produce wood gas (AKA "producer gas") at a small scale than gasoline. In a future where large-scale oil refiners are no more, a Dieselpunk society could power internal combustion engines with wood gas. This has been done a lot around the world, especially during WWII when oil supply channels were disrupted.
  • This has little or nothing to do with the Holy Roman Empire, but if you're a map freak, boy--budget a day for it. Wow.
  • This looks like a good book, especially if you're finding it hard to keep track of genre mutation within SFF. Will order and report after reading. (Thanks to Trudy Seabrook for pointing it out.)
  • We found one of these in a drawer in my late grandfather's workbench after my grandmother died in 1965 and we had to sell their house. I never knew what it was until it made the A-head story on the front page of yesterday's Wall Street Journal , in an article about...olympic sheep shearing. My grandfather lived a quiet life in a modest house on a tiny lot on Chicago's north side. There wasn't a sheep for miles. (I hope he didn't use it to cut my father's hair.)
  • I've noted some confusion about this: "Retina display" is not an Apple trademark, but a technical term: a display with such high resolution that the eye can't make out individual pixels at typical reading distance. Here's a good explanation of the whole retina display concept. The new iPad certainly qualifies, but it wasn't the first. Asus' Tranformer Prime was there some time ago. Retina-quality displays are made by several vendors, and will eventually appear in other high-end tablets.
  • The Lytro camera has been mentioned in a lot of places, but here's the first in-depth description I've seen. A camera that allows you to fiddle with the focus after the shot is taken is FM, if you know what I mean. I ditch about a third of my digital photos (mostly taken in bad light) for focus problems. It's an awkward form factor, but if it's the first of it's kind, I'll assume the next one will fit the hand a little better.
  • The mad scientist in me cried out when I saw this. I need a castle. I need a kite. I need a monster.

Comments

(Anonymous)

Sheep Shears

Yep, that's what they are.

My grandfather (a ex-farmer) used his to edge trim his grass. I inherited them the same way you did. I tried using them a few times for fine-tuning grass edging. That was quite a while ago.

Great for building your forearm muscles (after the cramps finally go away)...

Dave
Re: 'Producer gas'

The question becomes, of course, how the high temperature for gasification is achieved. If you burn wood to heat wood, you're going to run out of trees awful quick. If it's anything else, the question of 'why bother' enters the picture, i.e. why not just use what you're burning instead.

Ideally, the Pharaoh of America could order the planting of huge pine farms (which we already have, for paper & such) and the construction of massive solar power towers (or the cheaper passive greenhouse variant) and combine the two to produce wood gas on a national scale. This would, of course, have the advantage of pulling CO2 out of the air instead of adding more to it!

I think the other big issue with diesel is the piston tolerances. You need much higher compression.
Absolutely. But once done well, they're done for awhile. Diesel fuel injection is, well, *twitchy.*
If you know an underground comix collector, ask if they have "Moondog". The artist, George Metzger, has a real thing for steam. The setting, which is used in a few other of his works besides the four numbers of Moondog, is a sort of bucolic hippie post-Apocalypse countryside with mouthwatering steam engine transport. (The mise-en-scène may not be to your taste, but the machines are worth checking out.)
Hey, if he tells a good story, he can use any mise-en-scene he wants. I'll ask my brother-in-law Bill Roper, who is the only comics collector that I know--and he has cubic yards of them.