Science Awesomeness

Kids at a Lebanon, Ohio Christian school participate in launching a ballon-cam into the upper atmosphere.

Very nice that the kids get to participate in a bit of exploration like this.

This isn’t the first of these that we’ve seen — in fact, there have been many of them in the past few years alone.

It’s curious, though, that with as many amateur balloon-camera launchings as we’ve seen recently, it appears that nobody has done anything to correct or limit the platform spin.

So, here’s an idea for the next team that tackles one of these: add a pair of small mechanical gyros with their axes parallel to earth and at right angles to each other to limit yaw/pitch and spin. That should limit and possibly completely eliminate the spin of the camera platform without introducing much vibration or too much additional weight.

Still — it’s science, and it’s awesome.

Think First, Then Speak

An old one:

The usher noticed a man stretched across three seats in a movie theatre, he walked over and whispered, “I’m sorry, sir, but you’re allowed only a single seat.” The man moaned, but did not budge.  “Sir,” the usher said more loudly, “if you don’t move, I’ll have to call a manager.”  The man moaned again but stayed where he was. The usher left, and returned with the manager, who, after several more attempts at dislodging the fellow, called the police.

The cop took a look at the reclining man and said, “All right, son, what’s your name?”

“Samuel,” he mumbled.

“And where’re you from, Sam?”

“The balcony.”

In all things in life: stop, think, observe, plan.

Mmm… Beer…

I haven’t done any home-brewing in about a decade. I’ve forgotten how much I enjoyed it. It’s a good thing that I started again.

Currently, I’ve two different batches fermenting in my office.

One is a complete brew — an Irish Stout, my favorite — that I assembled in my garage from a kit my loverly wife gave me last Christmas. As it’s been fermenting in my office for the last few days, the aroma has been absolutely mouth-watering.

The other is a very inexpensive consumer-level kit that I picked up last night. It’s not so much a “brew” as it is more of a simple home fermentation. The primary brewing is done at the factory, then the buyer just needs to mix the sugar and extract, add the yeast, then wait. In this case, it’s a Pale Ale. Now, as a rule, I don’t like ales, but we’ll see how this one goes.

The primary differences between the two is that the former requires much more time to get into the fermenter. From sanitation to pitching the yeast takes about four or five hours. It’s a much more technical in the process and makes a bigger batch (five gallons!)

The latter is a quick process — about 30 minutes or so from sanitation to pitch. It makes about two gallons of beer.

In both cases, after the yeast is pitched, it takes one to two weeks for primary fermentation to complete before anything can be bottled. Then after bottling, another two weeks before a finished product will be ready.

One thing’s for sure: I’m going to need a bunch more bottles. I only have about 24 bottles now. The larger kit will make about 54 bottles and the smaller one about 24. So I’ll have to hit the home brew store and see if I can pick up a few cases.


Words you never want to hear a mechanic say — even if you’re the mechanic: cracked block.  If it were just a blown head gasket (or even a cracked head) I could deal with it easily. Pull the head, clean, put on a new gasket, done. $40 in parts*. And it takes just a few hours on a V8. Could even be done on the side of a road with just a few tools.

Cracked block, though — that sucks. Especially when the block is a 350ci V8.

Well, I was planning on putting a replacement motor in The Beast at some point — but now was not the “some point” that I had in mind. I was thinking more like “summer of 2012”.

Guess I’ll be looking for a super-cheap runabout.

* Okay, okay — it’s slightly more money and time if it’s a head, not including the time to put in valves & such.