Archive for category Oddities

Alkaline Battery Packaging

Apparently, we’ve burned enough cargo aircraft and killed enough people to require careful attention to detail in battery packages:

Amazon alkaline AAA packaging
Amazon alkaline AAA packaging

These “Ships from and sold by Amazon” alkaline AA cells arrived by UPS. They now fall under reasonable requirements to prevent shorting and damage, although the cardboard box wasn’t sturdy enough to prevent them from breaking free laterally.

One might quibble about the “Health & Personal Care Item” description, but, yeah, better battery packaging seems like a good idea.



A quartet of defunct 64 KB EEPROMs (*) emerged from a box of microscope doodads, so I stuck ’em under the stereo zoom scope for final pictures.

The oldest one, an MCM68764, came from Motorola with a 8313 date code. The next three, all TMS2764JL-25, came from TI with date codes in 84 and 85, so they have slightly different layouts.


This one is rotated 90° counterclockwise:


The hideous compression artifacts come from the original Pixel 3a images, because they’re (digitally) zoomed in all the way, plus bonus optical distortion from the quartz windows. The chips definitely look better in person, although the (optical) magnification isn’t nearly enough to show the tiniest details.

(*) Uh, they’re just EPROMs. It’s been so long since I’ve typed it that the extra “E” just stuttered right out. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it … at least I got the image names right!


Car vs. Pole: That Ain't Gonna Buff Right Out

Spotted at the corner gas station, where they collect wrecks before harvesting their organs:

Car vs Pole
Car vs Pole

As far as we can tell, the car clipped the pole off at the base, whereupon it smashed down across the roof, leaving the trunk unscathed. The lack of blood on the airbag suggests the driver lived to tell the tale, although we’ll never know the rest of the story.

A collection of random stuff tossed on the back seat included a license plate bent into a surprisingly gentle curve.

Obligatory: And Sudden Death reference.


Bird Feeder Icing

After a day of snow + sleet + ice, followed by overnight cooling, the bird feeder looked like this:

2019-12-19 - Ice on bird feeder - Day 0
2019-12-19 – Ice on bird feeder – Day 0

The ice generally doesn’t bond across the top, so the sheets slide off separately to the front and back. This time, they stayed together and began sliding off to the side.

The next two days were unusually cold and the glacier stopped sliding:

2019-12-21 - Ice on bird feeder - Day 2
2019-12-21 – Ice on bird feeder – Day 2

The temperature warmed enough during the day to let the glacier resume sliding, whereupon it fell and shattered on the patio.

No birds or squirrels were injured during this incident.

Leave a comment

Beware the Unit of Measure

While looking for something else, I stumbled across this Amazon offer (clicky for more dots):

Hammermill Truckload Paper
Hammermill Truckload Paper

Yeah, a trailer load a’ paper. Word.

Long ago, in a universe far away, my buddy Mark One mis-read a unit of measure and ended up with a trailer load a’ Tektronix Thermal Paper. It carried a silver-based emulsion requiring constant refrigeration, so he stashed about a pallet of paper canisters under every raised floor on the IBM Poughkeepsie campus. Even though the raised floor acreage has dropped dramatically, some of it may be there to this very day.


Merry Christmas

Moonrise, as seen through the pines in our yard:

Pixel 3a Night Vision - moonrise
Pixel 3a Night Vision – moonrise

The Pixel 3a produces exceedingly useful low-light images, mostly by having Google’s software compensate for its tiny lens and minimal light-capture area, with the downside of turning a peaceful night scene into harsh daylight.

Take the rest of the day off, OK?


Praying Mantis Ootheca

Several of this year’s praying mantises set up shop in the decorative grasses bracketing the front door:

Praying Mantis - brown wing covers - in grass
Praying Mantis – brown wing covers – in grass

We found their egg masses, formally called ootheca, attached to the stems in mid-October:

Praying Mantis egg mass A
Praying Mantis egg mass A

They feel like rigid urethane foam and seem eminently protective:

Praying Mantis egg mass B
Praying Mantis egg mass B

We’ll cut around the masses when it’s time to clear out the dead grass next spring. I was tempted to bring one inside, but dealing with a gazillion tiny mantises in a few months would be daunting.

1 Comment