The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Recon of the Wed Evening Farmer's Market

As a response to the growth of other markets around the area (e.g., Zingerman's Thursdays at the Roadhouse, the Ypsi market, etc.,) the Kerrytown Market is experimenting with a Wednesday afternoon opening, in addition to its Wednesday and Saturday hours. We took a run by, just to see who was there on day one, and the answer was not all that many people, vending or buying. I have the sense that it may turn into more of a dining event than a retail one, although the market management wants a mix. Anyway, a couple of shots of people I did and didn't expect to be there.

The omnipresent Pilar's Tamales

The unexpected Silvio's Pizza

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

L Brooks Patterson writhes again

Can you believe this guy?

Too much time on my hands?

A traction trebuchet is not the giant, dead-horse-flinging, counterbalance-powered siege engine you frequently see pictured. It's smaller and powered by humans hauling on ropes to whip a stone up and out of a sling. I saw a reproduction in action at a Medieval Congress years ago, and recently said, "I bet I could build a scale model of one of them." Judge for yourselves.

This is from the Maciejowski Bible, a 13th century source with lots of first-time-seen illustrations, including this somewhat obscure image of a traction trebuchet in action.

This is my 10-second sketch of what I thought I could quickly build with bass wood and left-over 25mm wargaming figures.

And this is the outcome. As built, it wouldn't work, or at least very well. The sling is too short and the boom is probably too short, as well. It would probably fall over forward, since it's insufficiently braced fore and aft. Plus three guys is a slim crew. But it was amusing to build. For extra credit, how was I able to work wine bottle foil into this piece?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lamest insult of the week

I was a bit cranky with the young man in his pickup truck. He'd come into the small, L-shaped parking lot at the west side of Kerrytown the wrong way, the clearly-marked wrong way, and was sitting waiting for a space to open up. This is one thing on a non-market day, but there were four other cars who'd been driven in the right way, also waiting.

So I walked over to him, pointed out the error of his ways, and asked him to "Back it out." He grudgingly complied, but stopped behind my car, rolled down his window, and shouted, "You must be a jerk!" No doubt, son, no doubt. Been studying it for years.

You go, Angela Merkel!

Bowing to what should have been the laughably obvious for decades, Germany says, "No more nukes." Wonder how long that'll last?

Commercial fission power is one of those horrible binds that we seem to get ourselves into. Day to day, it's greener than coal -- you don't see smoke and smog and slag heaps and decapitated mountains as evidence of it. But most of our plants were designed with the climatic and geological knowledge of 50 years ago, and it's turning out to have been all wrong. And if you can think of a way to solve the spent fuel problem, technically and pollitically, you're smarter than everybody else who's been trying. (Germany already has a 2.3 billion Euro tax on spent fuel rods, so if you're thinking, "raise taxes" as a solution, it's been tried. And of course it'd be easy to raise taxes, over here, wouldn't it?)

I said all this in a letter to some publication, back in the mid-seventies -- that nuclear power was not a viable long term option. A fairly well-thought-of expert (and I have no idea who, at this remove of time,) said he "... didn't agree with my analysis." Guess he disagrees with me and Germany now, too.

Of course this leaves a lot of other countries banking on nukes for electricity. According to Wikipedia, the top ten are:
  • France
  • Slovakia
  • Belgium
  • Ukraine
  • Armenia
  • Hungary
  • Switzerland
  • Slovenia and Croatia
  • Sweden
  • Bulgaria
We're 18th, in terms of our total electrical energy produced by fission, right after Romania, but we still have the most operating commercial reactors, 104, with 9 planned and 22 proposed. I wonder what those numbers will look like in, say, 24 months, when (I hope) the full scope of Fukushima I will be known. But on the other hand: carbon emissions are "worst ever."
What's a man to do?