Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Links: November 28

First photo from Philae. [link]

The "sound" of the comet Philae landed on. [link]

Friendly deer with donut on its antler.

Inside the Siberian holes. [link]

Guy who appears as his own twin in his yearbook. [link]

Odor safe litterbox. [link]

Great celebrity letters to fans. [link]

Dramatic photos from WWI. [link]

Even if a fetus qualifies as a living human the woman's rights should still prevail over those of the fetus. [link]

A melting building. [link]

When Beijing runs clean. [link]

The invention of sliced bread. [link]

Play with fluids on your computer. [link]

Cut out flip books. [link]

An honest description of A Prairie Home Companion. [link]

What it's like living in space. [link]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gandolf feeds the dog

You've probably seen a video or two of a parrot feeding dog from the counter. Well, I got an in person demonstration.

My parents have a small, fluffy dog named Hannah. To make sure they don't accidentally double feed the dog they put pre-measured amounts of food in small bowls. If the bowl is empty then someone already fed the dog.

As Gandolf was exploring the kitchen in their new house she found the tiny bowls of dog food. She started taking out the food, one piece at a time, and dropping it on the floor. Naturally, the ecstatic dog ran around gobbling up whatever she could grab. I laughed, Mom laughed, Dad laughed, and then Gandolf got bored. Enough of this "one piece at a time" crap. She grabbed the side of the tiny bowl and picked it up. She was going to dump the whole thing over the edge if Mom hadn't yelled.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Excuses. Justifications. Preoccupations.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Links: November 14

Slow week. Sorry.

What kind of lemur are you? [link]

Pictures of a planetary system being formed. [link]

We had an earthquake the other day. Here's where you look to find recent earthquakes in your area. [link]

Google AI discovers the cat and how to pick them out in video. [link]

Hatebeak - heavy metal with a parrot lead singer. [link]

I used to have a copy of this historic Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer book. [link]

You only hear about the child molesting priests who are protected by the Vatican. You never hear about the 400 that Pope Palpatine actually defrocked. [link]

Ted Cruz - a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast Co. [link]

The Amazing Randi [link]

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Old drill press

This is not an terribly interesting piece of machinery outside of it's age. It's a drill press. At this point we're guessing about it's age, but other similar models by the Buffalo Forge Company make me think it was made in the 30's. Probably older.  

Some modifications have been made. The wooden disc on top was added on by persons unknown (Great Grandpa?) so that it could use the motor you see hanging on the side of the shelf. The motor is probably from the 40's. The switch is from the 19-teens. The whole thing would still work if the wiring hadn't finally given up. The drill bits are stored in the plank that the drill is hanging off of.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rotary hoe

This piece of farm machinery hasn't been used in my life. I used to think it was a soil aerator similar to what left little dirt dog turds all over the school grounds. But, as you can see in the second picture, the teeth aren't hollow, so it wouldn't work like that.

This is actually called a rotary hoe. I've heard some people use the same term for a rototiller, but they're different machines serving different purposes. Rototillers dig much deeper and are used before planting.

When you plant crops the seeds usually end up two or three inches in the ground. The weeds, however, start growing right at the surface. The teeth of the rotary hoe just barely get into the soil. As you blast through the field with this behind your tractor it just destroys the first half inch or inch of soil and tears up the weeds while leaving your crops wondering what the fuck just happened, but otherwise fine.

Another use is for dry spells. After a long bout of no rain, the wind will kick up and start blowing away your soil. There's several ways to deal with that1. This solution is to pull the rotary hoe across the wind (i.e. if the wind comes from the north you drive east/west) and turn over the soil to bring some moisture to the surface. Then skip 2-3 rows and do it again until the whole field is covered with stripes. Not only will the moist stripes not blow away, but they'll catch much of the dust before it takes to the air.

When I was a kid, we used a springtooth for that. Maybe we'll get to that piece of machinery later. These days the farm is mostly no-till so the fields generally don't get bare enough to blow away.

You'll notice the four flat spots above the whirling teeth. You can throw weight on them if you want the teeth to sink further into the ground.

1 Another solution for preventing soil from blowing include planting wind rows. That's rows of trees similar to the one in the background of the first picture. 
These days we see a lot of people planting turnips so their leaves will protect the ground as the soybeans get ready to take off.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Friday Links: November 7

Robotic elephant tram. [link]

Rapper 2 Chainz sampled Tom Lehrer.

Queen Elizabeth refuses to sit in the Iron Throne. [link]

Injured bird gets feather transplant. [link]


The flying car becomes reality. [link]

Big, ancient, stone circles in Jordan. [link]

The 10 most important changes in the last 1000 years. [link]

Stars and creators of a popular Iraq comedy show fear for their lives. [link]

Playing with gravity in the world's biggest vacuum chamber.

Heating oven that burns a whole tree. [link]

How dignity in death laws work. [link]

The guy who painted children with really big eyes... didn't. [link]

Reflections off the seas of Titan. [link]

NYC rat census map. [link]

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Portable hay barn

To me, this roof was a slide to play on as a kid. Before that, it was a portable hay barn. But even my dad doesn't remember it being used. What we know is that it was transported to whatever field or pasture you needed it in. You'd turn a crank to lift it in the air. If you're protecting a pile you'd just leave it there. If you had a stack of hay bales you could set the roof on top of them.

As the roof breaks down, we're discovering the trailer that was used to transport the roof. The fact that it's still there tells me that when the roof was put out there it was not meant to be a permanent situation. With some new wood it might still be a nice if rarely used trailer.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Hay rake

This is a hay rake.

After cutting the alfalfa, someone comes along with this and collects it all into piles. The piles are then thrown on to a hay wagon by someone with a pitchfork. With a full load, the hay wagon pulls up beside the barn where a hatch has opened up. A track runs along the top of the barn. A large claw, similar to what you'd see grabbing stuffed animals in the claw machine at the arcade, would come along the track, out the hatch, drop down to grab the alfalfa off the hay wagon, hoist it back up, go back inside, and drop it in a pile. Later, the alfalfa would be fed to the horses and cows. Alfalfa is different from hay in that it needed more protecting from the elements. Thus, the need to get that stuff inside.

But, back to the hay rake.
Operating it was a two man job. One person would drive the tractor pulling the hay rake and another would perch on that seat in the middle of the rake to raise and lower the teeth. In the pictures above the teeth are raised. Below, you can see a foot rest and the lever being held down by a hook. Push it down and to the side to release it. When the lever comes up, the tips of the teeth drop down on the ground to collect whatever loose material you come across. Push the lever back down to drop the load, then drop the teeth again to keep going and make more piles.

So it's a two man job just to make piles of alfalfa. You've got two or three more collecting your piles, and probably more at the barn controlling the horses that run the big hook on a track that I mentioned before.

Have I mentioned I love my desk job?