Daily Archives: August 6, 2013

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Hi Readers. Thanks for coming by.

Perzig’s first book jumped out at me a week-or-so ago out of a box I was packing.  Demanded I go through it yet another time this lifetime.  Which is never a job of work I take lightly.

Decided as I study on it I’d discuss it with the cats when I come to particularly studious parts.  If it seems appropriate I might share some of those discussions with you along the way.  For instance, last night he and his son, along with another couple have progressed to a camp site.  The son’s troubling him a fair amount, but Phaedrus, shadow figure of his past insanity is also peeking into the corners of his mind.

Hydrox:  What does he mean when he says, “Ghosts come back when a person hasn’t been properly buried?  Is he talking about, say, the ghost of all those chickens I keep seeing around here sometimes?”

Me:  Maybe he’s talking about that, partly.  Those chickens aren’t necessarily dead, so far as we know.  And I definitely think that’s a piece of what he’s talking about.  People lost to our lives, but without closure.  But there’s also Mehitabel.  She stayed on permanent mouse patrol all these years.  Never was properly buried.

Hydrox:  Mehitabel?  I’ve just about gotten so I don’t see her anymore.  Thanks goodness.

Niaid:  Wish you hadn’t brought her up.  Gives me the willies.

Me:  The longer we live the more ghosts we tend to accumulate, all those not-properly buried ones who passed through our lives.

Tabby:  Any chance we could bury Shiva?

Me:  You figure she’s gotten around to burying you?

Old Jules

The Rube Goldbergism Field

non electromagnet

Hi readers.  Thanks for the visit.

Every five-year-old knows you can create an electromagnetic field by wrapping a copper coil around a soft-iron rod and introducing a current.  But along about my 67th-or-so tip around the sun I began wondering what would happen if you wrapped a copper rod with a soft-iron wire and introduced a permanent magnet to the wire.  Surely, I figured, it would create a field of some sort, not necessarily an electric one, but something.

I tripped around the web trying to find out what people have found it does, didn’t find anything.  Asked my more smart-alec friends, and they only shrugged.

Finally I decided if I want to know, I’d have to try it hands-on.

The front part of the rod is as described.  The back part with the larger coil is iron, more likely steel wire with an anodized copper coating.  Figured to try it both ways, the anamagnetic coating on the copper coated wire allowing it to simulate ‘insulation’ between the wraps of wire.

Well, friends and neighbors, I don’t know what all that damned thing does.  Though I’m getting some fair indications of a couple of unlikely things it seems to do.  Along with it seeming to attract one-hell-of-a-lot of a particular kind of bug.

But their ain’t any point for me to make any claims about it one way or the t’other.  Some of you already know so much you’d already know it doesn’t do what it seems to.  And others wouldn’t, but would know it doesn’t put any food on the table.

So instead of me telling you what I think it does, I’m going to suggest if you’re interested you give it a try.  And listen really carefully with your eyes, ears, and complete attention to what goes on around you when you do it.

Meanwhile, this damned thing’s going with me, where ever I might go for a while.  Hasn’t entirely satisfied me I know everything I want to know about it.

Old Jules

Farnham’s Freehold, by Robert A. Heinlein 1964

Hi readers.  Here’s another one of those old early-days RAH tomes to give you some smiles, some anachronisms to feel smug about, and a couple of truly interesting things to think about.

The first part of the book is all the usual suspects, family with a bomb shelter before the bombs fall, etc.  If you haven’t read a thousand others, might as well get it done  with this one, I reckons.

But then the bombs hit, one of them dead-center.  Spang blows Farnham and his family into sometime a longish while in the future, same spot.  Then the fun starts.

The big powers destroyed themselves and most of the other non-ethnic places full of advanced white people.  So when Farnham and his white family come up for air it isn’t long before they’re discovered by the meek who inherited the earth.  Africans, mainly, in this area.  A sort of do-it-yourself African empire sitting atop the ruins of the US.

Sure, some white people survived.  Most have been adopted as slaves in a manner similar to the way the Ottomans treated captured Europeans during an earlier time.  Bred the good ones for physical and mental traits, castrated the others and put them to work.  Kept a lot of females for breeding stock, too.

So once they’re captured, Farnham and his family are forced to adapt themselves to a lifestyle most white people have spent a lot more generations becoming unaccustomed to than was good for them.  Farnham’s wife lucks into being the paramour of one of the black rulers, and being a 20th Century mom, wants her son with her.  But him being a male, her being part of the harem, he’s got to be castrated first.  Which gives her pause, but only momentarily.

And so on.

Lots of laughs in this book.  A truly fun read.

Old Jules

Being doomed ain’t all that bad

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

A guy I usually stop and have a cup of coffee with when I’m in Kerrville was exchanging pontifications with me lately.  Seemed everything we could think of to talk about led to a similar ‘where’, and that where didn’t invite any street dances.  At least unless a person could rotate it on the axis enough to recognize all the ‘wheres’ are the same place as they always were.

Problem was we kept switching around looking at things too collectively.  Individually he and the other old codgers who hang around there talking with him, including me, aren’t doing too badly.  Some of us have health issues, and all of us are a lot nearer death [by appearances] than we were ten years, or ten minutes ago.  Same as everyone else, though an argument might be made we’re nearer than them.

Nearer, by appearances, only.  Those people driving by out there on the pavement all are operating under the illusion they’re going to live as long as us, which one-hell-of-a-lot of them won’t.  They’ll get terminal illness, car smashups, all manner of unexpected ways to exit the vehicle while some of us old guys are still stopping by visiting one another.

And by far the greatest likelihood is that we ain’t all, including the ones driving by, ain’t going to all die the same week, the same day, even the same decade.  Which is the difference between individual, and collective doomsday.

But when you come right down to it, what-the-hell is the difference?  If we all pick the same day to die we’ll each still have had our day in the sun.  Same as we would have otherwise. 

Thinking about this during the times I’m not in the company of other people it seems to me there’s a lot more emphasis put on the collective side of things than contributes to uppidyness at an individual level.  If I happened to care a lot whether and when I die, I can see how the prospect of all sorts of risk-taking might seem something to be avoided.  Might be able to influence one-way-or-another [though not nearly as much as I might imagine] whether I kicked sooner, or later.

But looking around me and seeing all manner of cumulonimbus signs of doom coming up on the horizon and concluding it’s worse than just my own personal demise, that it’s something humanity ought to avoid, just doesn’t make any sense at all.  It requires the assumption that there’s something better after I’m dead, about lots of human beings running around watching television, driving to the grocery store, playing games on the computer, and having romances.

Fact is if they all die the same week as I do the great bulk of them will have been spared a lot of pain and worry, and looking around me I’m not certain the happiness and satisfaction they might have experienced is enough to offset it for most of them.  At least not enough to be worth interrupting the happiness and satisfaction of now on an individual level to devote thought to it.

One of the things comes up in those conversations is what a shame it was we waited so long to figure out we could have been living right back then, instead of waiting around to do it.  We’d have gotten a lot more living done, on the one hand.  And on the other, if doomsday had come along and interfered, we’d have still gotten something for our money.

Old Jules

The basic idea’s sound enough

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by.

shaker drywasher

Most of you probably won’t find this of interest, but possibly Eddie and Keith might.  Keith saw earlier efforts directed to a similar end back during the early 1990s, and I described something similar to Eddie last December.

The idea here’s to have a portable enough contraption to be light and easy to manage through some walking distance, fast enough in the assembly, unstable enough to allow a lot of shaking.  The whirlygig on the weedwhopper needs to be out of balance enough to provide the vibration.  But the bearing will be side loaded, so it might self destruct before enough use to justify it.

The next frame will be an aluminum golf-caddy on wheels, which is capable of being as unstable as the chair frames.  That would also allow it to be rolled instead of carried where it’s to be used.

There’s going to have to be a grizzly up ahead of the platform/table, which might cause too much weight for this method to allow enough shaking of the table/riffles to do the job.  Might also need a counter-balance at the bottom to keep an angle on the table, which will also need to be tested.

I don’t know how much adjusting will be needed on the table to keep things moving, but slowly enough so’s it doesn’t move too fast.  Also don’t know how much classifying would be needed ahead of the thing, how large the material could be for it to work.

You can see the two front legs on the frame are off the ground.  That’s so it can be rocked forward, both to provide instability, and to allow adjustment of the table angle.  Naturally it has to have a bottom surface on the riffle/table.

But the whole thing as the huge advantage, provided it works, of not throwing up a mile-high cloud of dust.  I doubt it will move as much material as a store-bought portable drywasher, but it lacks a lot of the disadvantages, and it is an inexpensive alternative.

Might be worth trying, anyway.

Old Jules