Friday, May 29, 2009

Get the rust out

I was reading the MAKE: blog today and found this tidbit of helpful shop lore in the links to the Instructables site. I'm passing it along to anyone who might have OOPSed their way into having items covered in rust, due to unfortunate mental meanderings.

Here's the introduction to the effort:
This is a relatively simple, safe and cheap way to remove light or heavy rust from any ferrous object. I used this process to restore an old wood plane that I bought for $1 (it looked totally un-usable because of the rust). As opposed to grinding, heavy wire brushing and acid bath processes, this method removes none of the original steel and is not noisy or caustic.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Influential people painting with links

Three Chinese artists compiled their list of dozens of influential folks and created the linked painting. What is remarkable about the technology is that you can double click on each portrait for a Wikipedia article about the person.

This could keep you occupied for some period of time......up to you!

Enjoy .... click on the link below . . . (sent by a California ham buddy)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fairytale - 2009 Eurovision song contest winner

It is quite likely that you also failed to note the contest. Here is the video snippet of the contest where the winner performed his winning piece. (Be sure to click on HQ for better video if you have the bandwidth.)

Sad to say, the performance is almost covered up by the video credits for the whole affair. But it is an exciting performance. If I were one of the dancers, I could really say, "Oh, my aching back!"


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Surreal Saturday Entertainment

A friend sent the link to this completely surreal piece of video music a few minutes ago. I was boggled. My imagination buckles to its knees when faced by the idea of the Red Army Choir singing "Sweet Home Alabama" with a farcical rock band with fake hair from Leningrad!

But, on a less surreal note and a dollop of sweetness, there is this very nice worldwide sampling of folks working on a good rendition of Bob Marley's song, "One Love".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Game Isn't Over

The road never ends and there's one more ball in the game! You can keep telling yourself both these stories, but neither one is true. But, as of today, there is just ONE manufacturer left making pinball machines. Maybe that doesn't affect you, but to some, it is time to run out in the street, placard in hand, proclaiming, "The End is Near!"

This article tells of that last pinball maker from the NY Times reporter's point of view. By the end of the article, you still aren't sure if the reporter "gets" the game or not.

Oh, for the days of three games of five balls each for a quarter! When all the bumpers and flippers on every machine worked because there was someone around who knew how to fix and tweak the machines if they stumbled. When the store owners didn't hike up the screws in the back of the machine until the ball makes a bee line for the exit chute. When a friend and I played all afternoon on a quarter. Or when we each took a flipper and knew the game and each other's minds so well that we won games playing only one flipper apiece.

But, there ARE determined individuals out there who, working with similarly motivated friends, keep the torch lit and the ball rolling.


Beyond the pail with the Berrymans

Sometimes, there's a bucket you have to carry with you to hold all the laughter you can't get out at the moment. This duo is BEYOND THE PAIL (in several meanings/spellings). I'm sure they would agree. (grin) I think humor is one of their mainstays, but lo-o-o-ong Wisconsin winter days with nothing to do but write lyrics and music must add, measurably, to their repertoire. I found some YouTube tidbits for your perusal in order to see if their line of humor matches yours. I'm fairly sure it will, as they are all over the compass, humor-wise.

Here's Double Yodel, which is the Berrymans' unique look at this venerable singing technique.

Here's Mr. and Mrs. Noah, a story of compromises of a married couple in an unusual situation.

Here's Why Am I Painting the Living Room?, an absurdist essay.

If you enjoyed these and want more, well, I can't think of any way to assuage that need other than to drop you into their own Web music sales site, though this blog post is NOT a sales pitch.


O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships

I've read quite a few "what it is" articles on the subject event. This piece, the second on the page, is just about the best of recent attempts to describe the event. Check it out...and the event, too. Since we live so far away, I've been missing the event, which is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.

This year, for the first time, we who really can't make it there will be able to aim our data fire hoses at and soak up the event...LIVE! Again, that will be May 16 from noon to 5 Central Daylight Time. Some photos of last year's event are here.

If you live in or around Austin, grab your sunscreen, hat, folding chair or blanket, some money (It IS a fund-raiser, after all!) and head for the corner of 5th and Neches streets at Brush Square Park. Support the museum by purchasing food and drink, a fun tee shirt. There are usually several means of showing your support available.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Robot bartenders and liquor organs

The wonderful Make blog contains this piece about robot bartenders:

And separately:

"Gallegher Plus"

(May 31, 2004)

From the November 1943 issue of ASTOUNDING, this is one of the five 'Gallegher' stories by Henry Kuttner. (Although they were first published under the Lewis Padgett name, his wife C.L. Moore has said she had nothing to do with writing these stories; a bit unusual, as the two usually collaborated on most of what they wrote.)

These tales are very clever and well constructed, with a surreal sense of humour. I personally found them more amusing than hysterically funny, but of course we all have different ideas on what's hilarious or not. The basic premise is that a young man named Galloway Gallegher drinks pretty much nonstop. When completely sotted, his subconscious comes to the surface and takes over but, instead of being a monstrous Mr Hyde, this Gallegher Plus is an inventive supergenius who cobbles together astounding devices from materials at hand.

The next morning, crawling about poisoned by his hangover, the regular Gallegher is faced with a bizarre invention he has no memory of constructing and which he has to deal with. Since our hero has absolutely no technical knowledge, he is completely lost when faced with this unlikely gizmos. One such invention is the recurring sidekick in the series, a narcissistic robot called Joe. (Joe by the way is a delight, obsessed with his own mechanical beauty and filled with withering remarks about we repulsive meat creatures. "I'll get you a robe. Your ungainly body offends my aesthetic feelings," he informs his creator, fresh from the shower.

In this particular tale, Gallegher is suffering his usual morning hangover as he realizes that most of his backyard was vanished, the soil apparently vaporized by a goofy looking contraption he must have worked up the night before. Giving the matter some urgency, Gallegher finds he has promised to come up with inventions requested by three different people, all of whom advanced him large sums of money he no longer has. Faced with summonses to appear in court and harassing messages from his clients, Gallegher has to muddle through the situation and solve all his
problems at once.

What makes the stories funny is that the dayime Gallegher (who is usually partly sober) has no memory of what the soused Gallegher Plus was up to. He has to go about his business as if he knows what's going on, making him something like a detective trying to solve his own mystery. In this particular case, after much turmoil and tense moments, he finds out the answers to the demands from all three clients are right in front of him. And he also learns why the gizmo plays "St. James Infirmary" while it's functioning....

The story seems to be set in some indeterminate near future – there are references to things like taxiplanes and dashboard teledirectories, as well as a man being hard to reach because he's away on Callisto – but it's not really necessary. Except for a few inessential details, we might as well be in 1943 Manhattan from the way everyone talks and acts. A man in a derby playing pinball in a saloon.... that's really not a futuristic image.

What gives the Gallegher stories a slightly bizarro atmosphere is the nonjudgmental attitude of the characters (and the narrator) toward our hero's alcohol habit. For at least the past ten or fifteen years that I've noticed, popular entertainment has really been dead set against drinking and smoking. Watching the Thin Man movies from the 1930s (where Nick and Nora seldom put down their glasses) or reading detective stories from the 1940s (where Mike Shayne seems to function better with brandy than with any sleep), I'm amazed to recall that until fairly recently, getting drunk was considered fairly amusing. (Remember that guy on the Jackie Gleason show who sang a beautiful song while plastered?)

Gallegher carries this to an extreme, even for that more tolerant period. It`s not like he's cold hard sober most of the time and just becomes Gallegher Plus after two martinis. No, this boy is hitting the sauce constantly. He has set up a "liquor organ" by his couch which dispenses various combinations of booze through a tube. At one point, he goes with a shady character on an alphabetical barcrawl ("You start with A – absinthe – and then work along, brandy, Cointreau, daiquiri, egg flip..."). They have to fudge a bit here and there, and must start all over after realizing they skipped 'N'. Egads, I can only imagine synthetic livers are inexpensive and readily available in this era.

Aside from being an ingenious puzzle story, in which the hero has to figure out what his other self did, while pretending to be on top of things, "Gallegher Plus" is filled with amusing little touches. The vain robot Joe says he will allow people to watch him dance if they wish, but at the same time he has no problem with the idea of breaking a few heads ("I like blood. It`s a primary color.") Four Gallegher stories by Henry Kuttner appeared in ASTOUNDING in 1943, with a fifth in 1948. They were collected in an anthology with the puzzling title ROBOTS HAVE NO TAILS. Now, if someone would only gather his Hogben stories about the superpowered hillbillies into one book...

Above quote excerpted from this page.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stretching the title: News of Klingon opera

I was boggled by hearing folks working on (among other things) Klingon opera this afternoon & George Thorogood music in Klingon. It was on All Things Considered. It stretches the title quite a bit. They are the Klingon Terran Research Ensemble!

Finding ever more obscure vacation sites

Just in case you need a really arcane place to vacation to rise to the top in the ever-increasing push to go somewhere nobody in your office has ever been? Well, this story tells of a place that is pretty unique. Good voyage and write when you get back. I want to hear your story.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Posting about a bit of beard ephemera

The title of this post is

Poets Ranked by Beard Weight

and it really gets into the subject. Some folks are put off by beards and others are attracted. I've seldom discussed the subject with someone with no opinion on them. In a lot of ways, they are like a temporary tattoo, in that they certainly mark a portion of your (male) anatomy in a way that you can make your own, but they are removable to be redone another day. If you at all interested, the pursuit of hirsute is but a click away.

Comments? (link is to "a journey round my skull" blog)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bending plastic for fun and use

I ran across this interesting how-to video today. Having a pile of scrap Lexan, my ears perked up. Making covers for keyers and other projects interests me, as well as short stands to support a ham radio transceiver while leaving room for a Morse paddle or notepad beneath it. Now, I just have to find an old hair dryer and some plaster of Paris to try it out.

More technical information on the material can be found at