Thursday, July 31, 2014

We Need This in the U.S.

Ford Australia makes what is essentially a Mustang truck:
Link here.

Now think about this.  A pickup to take on camping/biking road trips, to haul crap, to do all of those things everybody needs to get done but doesn't need a full-on off-road machine with which to do them.  This car/truck thing – a "ute" the Australians call it – is about the most practical thing going, doubly so if you're only going to have one vehicle.

In the span from 1957-79, Ford made a series of these hybrid beasts and they were quite popular at the time.  From 1960-65 Ford made the Falcon Ranchero, essentially on the same platform as the early Mustangs.  Mechanically, it'd probably be easy to transform the 2011-14 Mustang platform into a ute, but I doubt we'll be seeing anything like this anytime soon.  I suspect the market's not there, and there may be some Federal car/truck fleet mileage snags.

One of these days I may consider some custom work on the '12 Mustang to achieve this lofty goal.  But no time soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

WW1 + 100 years

Today marks the generally recognized start date plus 100 years.  Here's the obligatory Wikipeda link.
Here's the crazy thing: looking through this morning's web editions from major news outlets, apart from a brief story about WW1-related music at NPR there were no mentions of this anniversary.  Have we forgotten?  No.  Has the mainstream press forgotten?  It appears so!

Do not forget history.  There is usually a heavy associated cost.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reebok Bacon? Really?

No, it's real bacon made from pigs, not some weird antelope byproduct.  It's just being marketed by the athletic shoe company for their paleo/crossfit crowd, as discussed in this article.
This isn't the rhebok you're hungry for.
Put down the spork.  Move along.

Look, I'm all for bacon, think the paleo diet sounds like a good idea (and would do it too if PB&J was on the menu), and have no quarrel with the crossfit people.  But Reebok – the shoe company – selling bacon makes no sense whatsoever when Hormel sells perfectly good bags of the stuff pre-cooked and by the pound.  The shoe/meat marketing angle is just kind of weird.

Next thing we'll probably find out that tobacco is good for you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mystery Theremin I.D.'d

The mystery theremins in those two posts from last week (1 and 2) seem to be semi-custom builds by George Pavlov, as briefly described in this mention at Theremin World.
Absolutely beautiful, both in construction and sound.  However, considering that in an extremely rare appearance on ebay one sold last December for approximately $5200, I'll go back to practicing on my kit-built Etherwave.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Beach of Dragons, Beach of Legos

Or what happens when a containerful of plastic toys falls into the ocean circa 1997.  Full write-up at the BBC.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

45 Years Ago Today

If you're fuzzy on Apollo 11's place in history, go brush up at Wikipedia.

Here, have a Sprite

Photographed over New Mexico, found over at Space Weather.
Summary about sprites from the Wikipedia article:

Sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, orcumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground.
Sprites appear as luminous reddish-orange flashes. They often occur in clusters within the altitude range 50–90 km (31–56 mi) above the Earth's surface. Sporadic visual reports of sprites go back at least to 1886, but they were first photographed on July 6, 1989 by scientists from the University of Minnesota and have subsequently been captured in video recordings many thousands of times.
Sprites are sometimes inaccurately called upper-atmospheric lightning. However, sprites are cold plasma phenomena that lack the hot channel temperatures of tropospheric lightning, so they are more akin tofluorescent tube discharges than to lightning discharges.
Happy thunderstorm season!  Think I'll take a ride on the beach now, before the current crop of storms move onshore.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finally... Pleased to Meet Me

Finally picked up a copy of the Replacement's "Pleased to Meet Me."  Why so long?  When it was first released in 1987, I was dead broke.  Between that and the mediocre reviews, hell, I just went back to the lab and got stuff done.

So... what do I think in this retro-review?  It's OK, but not great.  "Alex Chilton" and "Skyway" are good, "The Ledge" sounds like something we'd all be listening to in 1995, so calling it ahead of its time fits, but only in retrospect.  "Can't Hardly Wait" is worthwhile.  The rest.. almost works.  I've heard worse filler tracks.  The door-and-walking-out sounds at the end of the original album are apropos: it's the sound of the band checking out.  After this, the Replacements' next two (and final) albums are little more than Paul Westerberg with backing from some members of his former band.

Now for the good parts: the bonus tracks on the Rhino re-release are what this album should have been!  Masterfully played, irreverent, raucous, and funfunfun!  "Route 66," "Bundle Up," "Tossin' N' Turnin'" – these songs have life and breath.  The main part of the album shows what happens when suits get their clamps on innovators in the throws of burning out – i.e.: meh.

I'm glad I didn't buy it in 1987.  I didn't really have the money, and the disc didn't have the bonus tracks.  From the vantage point 27 years in the future though, I am glad to finally give this album a complete listen.

p.s.: Just went back to their first album and listened to "Kick Your Door Down."  That's the reason to listen to the Replacements in the first place.  If you've never heard them, start at the start.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Best Theremin Video on the Net


Starts with woo-woo noises, launches into demo/humor, motors through a circuit diagram, and finishes with a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria.

That's a really nice Theremin, wish I could identify the model.  Good effects processing too.  Nothing over-blown, but a good complement to the instrument.

Gonna go practice now.  My eventual goal: to competently play Free Bird.

Just About Wri^H^H^H Right

From over at PhD Comics.  I'd better get on to work now.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

R.I.P. Tommy Ramone

Last of the original line-up.  Second from Left.
Article/tributes over at the BBC.
They much influenced what I aspire to in programming: fast, blunt, direct, accessible, understandable, efficient, and above all effective.  If you haven't already, give them a listen and see if it won't make you better at what you do.  Maybe not traditional role models, but they were an inspiration nonetheless.

Friday, July 11, 2014

OK, there's the "California Special" Mustang

But now, there's the Mississippi Edition:
Oh man, Ford needs to get production on these things going.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy

In every organization there are two kinds of people: those committed to the mission of the organization, and those committed to the organization itself. While the mission-committed people pursue the mission, the organization-committed people take over the organization. Then the mission-committed people tend to become discouraged and leave.

This bitter truth bears repeating every so often.

Here is the original, at the author's web site.

Your Very Own Viking Ship

But first a little mood music.

Now to the main event: order here.

Running at $25–450k, they're not cheap, but nothing worthwhile ever is.  Glad to see that they can be fitted with satcoms, VHF, and GPS, which would be perfect for locating, then coordinating attacks on small coastal villages.

I'd use one for mullet fishing.  Even the alligators would get the hell out of the way of that thing.

Natural Pools

As seen over at YouTube.
Looks cool.  I wonder how much hassle it would be to keep one balanced in the summer heat around here?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Planning on fixing up a certain upstairs soon, found some ideas here.