June 08, 2007

Steevil's Funhouse

Noted skipper, famed NASA scientist, and frequent commentor Steevil sends along some items of interest this morning.

First up, words of wisdom:

Among learning experiences I've had lately:

1. If your car breaks down on a road called a 'parkway,' and you have to wait for a while, you should check yourself for ticks (I found 2).

2. Driving a small open car past a high security prison (I've never seen so much razor wire in one place in my life) gives you an oddly anxious feeling.

3. Hi-tech rope is not only difficult to cut, but turns out to be beyond what my soldering gun with a flat blade can handle. The particular high tech rope on my boat is mostly low tech Dacron, but with Vectran (and no, I had not known it was also the name of a programming language) fibers reinforcing it. Luckily, it can be cut with a serrated blade, and a butane torch is hot enough to clean up the ends.

I would think #2 wouldn't be nearly so anxiety-inducing if the small open car in question was not in the habit of occasionally shedding pushrods. As for #3, liquid crystal rope IS pretty darned cool, but I was even more impressed by the entry for Fortran. Not being a computer guy, the only thing I know about Fortran is that it is named Fortran and it's a computer program of some sort. Interesting reading. No, it really is!

Anyway, I suggested to Steevil that he should keep a battle axe on the poop deck for those times he needs to cut his Vectran off. TO WHICH, he adds this:

For normal (Nylon or Dacron) rope, a "sheep's foot" blade, designed to be pounded on with a wooden mallet (or piece of 2x4) cuts cleanly. For this other stuff, I have to hack at it (come to think of it, I think I've read of people using hacksaws to cut hi-tech rope).

Vectran's pretty good stuff. It doesn't have the heat sensitivity of some other things (hence the difficulty of cutting it with a hot blade). Kevlar has lots of disadvantages--doesn't like turning around small radii, doesn't like heat [Steve later wrote to note this isn't one of the drawbacks. Ed.], is pretty good at cutting itself. Spectra (made by Honeywell) can permanently stretch (creep) if it's loaded up to a reasonable fraction of its breaking strength. Splicing any of them is a pain, and their aren't many knots that work with them.

But aside from those things...

AND IN OTHER EXCITING THINGS, Steevil sends along a link to this handy gadget. Obviously, a market need being met. One does wonder if there will be a companion device with sayings from your mother about sitting up straight, and asking why you're not married yet, and why you never come to visit (not that it's any of her business, since you've got your own life and can't be expected to drop everything just to come see about an old woman who's probably going to die any day now anyway).

Posted by Terry Oglesby at June 8, 2007 09:27 AM

shoulda said, "small, open, unreliable car."

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at June 8, 2007 09:47 AM

Also shoulda said that I learned FORTRAN IV in college (c. 1969) and have used it (and newer versions) ever since. In the last 15 yrs, haven't actually written any FORTRAN code, but have trouble shot various problems in ancient FORTRAN programs here. We've got programs that go back 40 years, and have been ported from IBM mainframes to UNIX boxes.

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at June 8, 2007 09:54 AM

I wonder what all that means...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 8, 2007 10:00 AM