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August 2019



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Odd Lots

  • Movers are coming imminently to reassemble my lower level, so I will be mostly out of touch for the rest of today.
  • If you've never had an account with Verizon in the past, don't get one now. Verizon sold a huge number (over a million!) of expired debt accounts to a debt collection agency called AFNI, which has been attempting to collect on some of them, even when the debt has long since passed over the horizon of the statute of limitations. Some of these debts were long since paid off, some were mistakes, and some may possibly be complete inventions. Verizon's action was legal; AFNI's may not be. Still, Verizon started it, and I'm encouraging people not to do business with them.
  • Here's an aurora prediction site I'd not seen before. We're a little too far south to get much from the current outbursts, but having seen some of the 2005 auroras here (if barely) I'm certainly watching that red line. (Thanks to Jamie Hanrahan for the link.)
  • From the Words-I-Didn't-Know-Until-Yesterday Department: A tuya is a volcanic landform created by a smallish volcanic eruption that occurs under a kilometer-class ice sheet, as from our most recent ice age.
  • Roy Tellason wrote to tell me about his tube data sheet page, which has more scanned data sheets (all PDFs; typically under 1 MB) in one place than I've ever seen, with no ads nor any fussing (registration, etc.) required to access them.
  • Rich Rostrom sent a wonderful link to a collection of photos and drawings of the Hindenburg, including its passenger areas, which included (egad) a smoking room! Originally (it was later expanded a little) the airship could carry only 50 passengers, tops. Those must have been expensive tickets...
  • I was starting to get this message almost fifteen years ago: Heart disease is about inflammation. It's not about meat or fat. Inflammation comes from smoking, chemicals of various sorts, infections, and (most commonly) sugars and vegetable oils. No inflammation, no heart disease. (Thanks to Mike Bentley for the link.)
  • I'm shopping for vacuum tube intercoms, and found that someone on eBay has listed the Talk-A-Phone set that my parents bought (they were made in Chicago then) and used as a baby monitor after my sister was born. I'd really prefer one of the mid-60s tube-based carrier-current models. All the majors had them. (Carol wants a better way to reach me when I'm in my office than yelling down the stairs...)
  • The beautiful 1920s Des Plaines Theater has reopened after some major restoration, and is now slotting upscale live acts rather than movies. It's literally around the corner from our Chicago-area condo, and I'm itching to find an event as an excuse to go in and look around.
  • If you're afraid of spiders, don't go to Australia for awhile. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Dinosaur fossils don't get a whole lot better than this.
  • While doing my semiregular scan for pirated copies of my books, I happened across something fascinating on alt.binaries.e-book.technical: a scan of the original service manual for the Nazi V-1 flying bomb. I don't know how to create an NZB that points directly to the file, but the item was posted on 10/25/2011. Search for "Gerate-handbuch FZG-76". A dieselpunk pulse-jet is what it was, and now you can see what was inside it. (Being able to read German is a plus, but the photos are very good.)
  • A wonderful photo collection of vintage ice-cream trucks. We saw the Good Humor trucks regularly on our street in the 50s and early 60s. The driver rang bells by pulling on a string. He did not play obscure hymns or creepy recorded voices saying "Helllo!"
  • How's your scene? (I had to look it up to see what a "scene" was in this context.) My "scene" is not listed, but you can see what the chap thinks of steampunk. And if you want a timeline, it's here. (Alas, it starts in...2000. Do you feel mondo-creaky old looking at this? I do.)


Re: Expensive Tickets

Yes, very. A one-way ticket cost $400 in 1930s money - over $1,500 today. Now, it was worth that, for two reasons: One, the experience was a gas (it pulled a gun on me, what could I do) and Two, this was the fastest trans-Atlantic transit available, though that was already changing, of course.

It was also the safest passenger aircraft flying, though obviously that's not the public perception today - when it did fail, it faw down go BOOM. Nonetheless, as I think I mentioned to you earlier, while “The War of the Worlds” was a live radio broadcast, the Herbert Morrison broadcast was NOT; he was simply covering a routine event, the latest arrival of a passenger vessel that had made this trip all the last year and on into this one. It was time-filler, a dictaphone recording that might not even be used… until suddenly the disc detoured into the National Archives.

What few realize also is that there WAS a Hindenburg II, which was quite simply the highest-tech airship in the world for decades to come, incorporating design improvements everywhere… but it was not allowed to leave the Reich, and Goering - who hated Zeppelins, reputedly for personal reasons involving his own girth - finally ordered it grounded and dismantled.

p.s. The smoking room was kept at slight overpressure to keep stray hydrogen out, and passengers were absolutely forbidden to possess lighters or matches. This was Teutonic overkill - hydrogen leaks upward, and the keel of the ship where was the passenger section was literally the last place it would build up. But, better safe than sorry - why the LZ-129 had Diesel engines.