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Archive for category Oddities

Houses Are Trouble: Electrical Service Division

The ancient utility pole on the north side of our property fell over a few hours after a thunderstorm rolled through:

Fallen Utility Pole - end view
Fallen Utility Pole – end view

Fortunately, the wire clamps were upward and it just lay there without sparks or excitement. It feeds the vacant house out back, so restoring power wasn’t urgent.

Unfortunately, the lines neatly bisected Mary’s garden:

Fallen Utility Pole - garden view
Fallen Utility Pole – garden view

The utility crew arrived a few hours later, disconnected the triplex at the fallen pole, rolled it up, secured it to the source pole out front, and promised a different crew would replace the pole in a while:

Central Hudson truck - 2019-06-27
Central Hudson truck – 2019-06-27

We agreed restoring service to other folks who needed it should take priority.

Mary’s been ducking the various cable TV / phone / FiOS cables ever since.

The pole has been God’s own toothpick for quite some time, as shown by this picture from 2001:

CHGE pole - rear - top
CHGE pole – rear – top

Fortunately for us, its pole tag hadn’t fallen off in all those years:

CHGE Pole Tag - mid-north
CHGE Pole Tag – mid-north

That little tag may save us ten large during this exquisite little inconvenience …

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MPCNC: Calculating Spring Rates

Calculate the spring rates for the drag knife, diamond engraver, and collet pen holders by measuring the downforce every 0.5 mm (or so):

LM12UU Collet Pen Holder - spring rate test
LM12UU Collet Pen Holder – spring rate test

Then plotting the data points and eyeballing a straight-line curve fit:

MPCNC - Drag Knife Holder - spring constant
MPCNC – Drag Knife Holder – spring constant

Doing it on hard mode definitely has a certain old-school charm. The graph highlights mis-measured data and similar problems, because, if you don’t see a pretty nearly straight line, something’s gone awry.

But we live in the future, so there’s an easier way:

Droid48 - Spring Rate - Linear Fit coefficients
Droid48 – Spring Rate – Linear Fit coefficients

Well, OK, it’s the future as of the early 1990s, when HP introduced its HP 48 calculators. I’m using the Droid48 emulator on my ancient Google Pixel: living in the past, right here in the future.

Start by firing up the STAT library (cyan arrow, then the 5 key), selecting Fit Data … from the dropdown list, then selecting the Linear Fit model:

Droid48 - Spring Rate - Linear Fit screen
Droid48 – Spring Rate – Linear Fit screen

Then tap EDIT and enter the data in a tiny spreadsheet:

Droid48 - Spring Rate - Linear Fit data
Droid48 – Spring Rate – Linear Fit data

My default “engineering mode” numeric display format doesn’t show well on the tiny screen. Tapping the WID→ key helps a bit, but shorter numbers would be better.

With the data entered, set an X value and tap the PRED key to get the corresponding Y value:

Droid48 - Spring Rate - Linear Fit prediction
Droid48 – Spring Rate – Linear Fit prediction

Tapping the OK button puts the line’s coefficients on the stack, as shown in the first picture. Write ’em on a strip of tape, stick to the top of the holder, and it’s all good:

LM12UU Collet Pen Holder - test plot - overview
LM12UU Collet Pen Holder – test plot – overview

Works for me, anyhow.

HP still has the HP 48g manuals online. The (unofficial) HP Museum has a page on the HP 48S. More than you want to know about the 48 series.

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Monthly Image: And Then There Were Two

The turkey hen who once had nine chicks, then seven, now has only two:

Turkey Hen with two chicks
Turkey Hen with two chicks

We haven’t seen the fox since it nailed the previous chick, but it may be responsible for taking a chick a day, every day, for a week.

We wonder if she misses the rest of her brood as much as we do …

Taken through two layers of 1950s window glass, zoomed all the way in, with a phone camera.

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Chipmunk Shelter

This chipmunk has been hanging out near the collection of yard & garden tools on the patio:

Chipmunk near patio shelter
Chipmunk near patio shelter

When threats appear, the critter vanishes into the clutter and waits until we go elsewhere. It’s almost as good as the roof gutter pipe!

Those stripes remain surprisingly visible in the shadows between stacks of clay pots, though, if you know where to look.

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Arlington Fire Department Practice Session

The normal Vassar Farm exit was blocked by Arlington Fire District equipment, but the scene was calm and nobody objected when I asked to ride through:

Fire Department Practice - Hose Engine
Fire Department Practice – Hose Engine

They were practicing hose deployment and structure entry in a soon-to-be-demolished building:

Fire Department Practice - Theatrical Smoke
Fire Department Practice – Theatrical Smoke

That’s theatrical smoke, not a real fire; the folks off the right of the picture told me it’s impossible to burn down old structures for practice nowadays, what with all the environmental regulations.

The Tower Truck obviously has more reach than they’ll need for the second floor:

Fire Department Practice - Ladder Truck
Fire Department Practice – Ladder Truck

A few days later, we spotted Fairview Fire District folks scoping out the house.

We think this might be Vassar’s way of contributing back to the various emergency departments, as the College is mostly tax-exempt.

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Runtime Error!

Spotted high on the wall of the local USPS office:

Windows Runtime Error - VLC - monitor
Windows Runtime Error – VLC – monitor

A closer look:

Windows Runtime Error - VLC
Windows Runtime Error – VLC

Huh.

The USPS uses VLC. Who knew?

I darken their doorway so infrequently I have no idea what’s normally displayed up there. Surely it shows advertisements for USPS products, which begs the question: why VLC?

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Security Theater: Combination Lock Division

When dialing the proper combination becomes too troublesome:

Security Theater - Combination Snap Hook
Security Theater – Combination Snap Hook

At a quick glance, though, it looks secure!

Security theater isn’t harmless, not that we have any say in the matter.

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