Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

July 5th, 2009:

Odd Lots

* From the Words I Didn’t Know Until Yesterday Department: “Forcemeat” is meat ground sufficiently fine to make it cohere with a fat base, and mixed with spices and sometimes other ingredients before incorporating in pat├ęs, stuffings, and sausages.
* The Weather Channel is running saturation-level advertising for a “3D chalk” product from Crayola, which is apparently a selection of very bright, almost day-glow colors of sidewalk chalk, plus a pair of 3-D glasses with which to view your sidewalk artwork. Done correctly, the warmer colors seem to float above the sidewalk a little. It’s almost impossible to think of this product and not flash on the sequence in Disney’s Mary Poppins in which the gang jumps into Bert’s sidewalk chalk drawing.
* The venerable Alfred Morgan borrowed some of the circuits found in his boys’ books on electronics. I found the phono oscillator circuit from The Boys’ Second Book of Radio and Electronics in a 1943 Meissner data book, and now Peter Putnam sent me a link to a 1955 article in Popular Science showing something very close to the diabolical Geiger counter circuit that I tried and failed to build (out of the same book) in 1964.
* There are fake high-capacity USB thumb drives going around. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.) Nobody’s making 128 GB thumb drives yet (though they will eventually) so don’t fall for it.
* Also from Frank comes a link to an interview with Eric Lerner, the man who claims to have developed a new kind of fusion reactor he calls “focus fusion.” I’m not enough of a particle physicist to know whether this is a scam or not (though it sure smells like one) and I hope that my readers who are particle physicists can tell me whether the physics is as dicey as the business plan.
* Our long, long sunspot drought may be coming to an end. Spot 1024 is the largest seen yet of the new Cycle 24, and the largest sunspot seen in almost a year. I guess I better start shielding the fire alarm sensor wires, so I can get on 10 meters!