Well, Color Me Anodized

This one ties in my last post, if you care to read that one. I actually wrote this one first, but then “misplaced” it on my laptop for a while, somehow. Anyway…

So, you know those little carabiner clips? Like the one you probably have on your key chain? The ones that rock climbers use to clip to their rope and such? You know how you can find them in all kinds of crazy colors? Have you ever wondered, “Gosh, how do they make this metal pink?” (Or green or blue or whatever.) I always assumed is was just something that was added after the fact, like some kind of fancy paint or something. Well, we all know what assumption does*.

Turns out that “fancy paint or something” is actually infused into the metal itself. (Also, just for the record, those colorful carabiners are made of aluminum, for the most part.) How does the coloring get inside the aluminum, you ask? Through a process called “anodizing”. I don’t 100% understand how it works, but it’s something to do with putting the completed aluminum object is a special solution and adding electricity.

How that does what it does, I have no idea—everything I know about it, which admittedly is not much, I learned from a website offering aluminum anodizing services that I randomly came upon a few weeks ago. Hooray for the rare occasion when I happen upon information that can actually answer a legit question I previously had in my noodle.

And hooray for anodizing, I guess…

* It makes an @$$ out of you and umption.

Sorcery vs. Science?

So, I’m no engineer. That much is obvious. But I do know a little bit about how physics and mechanical devices work, so I was more than a little perplexed by my latest Weirdohead discovery.

Right angle gear boxes do not seem like they’re physically possible. Gears just don’t work that way, do they? I mean, obviously they do, because such a thing exists, but it seems to contradict everything I know about gears. Although, admittedly, that’s not a heck of a lot.

But still, how do these abominations of science and logic work? Clearly, there’s some sort of sorcery going on here, yes? Or, you know some sort of really well thought-out design. One of the two. I, preferring amused ignorance over scientific understanding (because it’s much, much easier), choose to believe it’s sorcery.

And, until somebody brings me one of these fancy right angle gear box thingers, cuts it open, and shows me exactly how it works, I am going to stick with sorcery. Because you know what you can do with your stinkin’ logic and book learnin’?!?

Go to college. Get an engineering degree. Build yourself a homemade right angle gear box as a thesis project. Then bring it here and explain how it works. THAT’S what you can do with your stinkin’ logic and book learnin’.

Human Lawyer > Internet Robot Lawyer

So, I know I keep harping on this, but, really, this is one of the most bizarre “services” I’ve ever seen offered on the interwebs…

Imagine, if you will, that you’re not only unfortunate enough to live in Michigan (Go Bears!) but that you also have done something stupid and lost your driver’s license. Is the internet really the best place to look for help in getting it back?

I know that the ol’ World Wide Web has basically taken the need for any actual human interaction right out of the equation of modern life—and, believe me, no one appreciates that more than me, because everyone in the world is, in a nutshell, awful—but online legal help, really?

“Dang, dude. I just lost my driver’s license. Better hit up teh Googz and see if any one can help me get that schwa unrevoked.” Has anyone ever thought that was a good idea? I’m pretty sure lawyers are best dealt with mano a mano.

From the miniscule amount of research I was willing to do on this subject (which mostly involved reading the info on the website I stumbled upon), I did discover that Michigan has some of the toughest traffic laws in the country. And that Michigan license restoration is not a walk in the park (you have to go before some sort of fancy-pants committee and all that jibber-jabber). But come on, man. Get yourself a lawyer the old fashioned way.*

* It should be noted that I really have no idea what “the old fashioned way” of getting a lawyer actually is. I do, however, know that it doesn’t involve the intronets.

“Aged” Like 21+ Or…?

If you’re like me, you’re a chronic insomniac who writes a dopey blog that maybe four people in the whole world have ever read. Or, if you’re like me in a different way, you enjoy a nice adult beverage every now and again (and again, and again, and again, etc.).

I don’t discriminate when it comes to choosin’ my boozin’—I enjoy beer, wine, and spirits in equal measure. (Not literally in equal measure, though. That would be one horrendous mixed drink.) And, while I do have at least a modicum of good taste, I am by no means an alcohol snob.

In my incessant internet investigation, I came across a guide to aging wine. (It’s kind of huge. Scroll down for the rest of my Weirdohead rant.)

http://www.winery-sage.com/ca/images/infographic_red.png

Now, I understand that, in general, the longer wine has been “maturing,” the better it will be when you finally uncork it. But buying a bottle of wine and just stashing it away for X-number of years seems like rather a silly practice to me. In my experience, the best place to age wine is in my belly.

If I want to drink something that’s been sitting around for fifteen years, I’ll buy a bottle of Scotch instead. With Scotch, the distiller does the waiting for you and sells the booze when it’s already aged to perfection. Why wait around for you alcohol to get better when you can buy stuff that’s at its best right stinkin’ now? Though I literally have nothing better to do most of the time, I still have better things to do than sit around and wait to get my drink on.

Half Spacer, Half Coupling, Half Bear

So, technology, right? It rarely ceases to amaze, or at least befuddle. Particularly when two devices that seem to be totally different, even opposite, are combined into a single gizmo. For example: the “spacer coupling.”

If one needs to insert a spacer into a system, it’s usually there to provide space between components (hence the clever name), and that’s about it. If one’s adding a coupling, it’s usually designed solely to couple two components (again with the clever naming conventions). A spacer coupling seems to be counterintuitive to the function of both individual devices—if you need space between components, connecting them seems like it would only exacerbate that need; if you need to connect two components, why would you want extra space between them?

Granted, I’m no mechanic, and I’m certainly no engineer, so the genius of this device could simply be lost on me. But it seems to me that if, for example, my pants are too tight (and in need of a “spacer”), connecting them somehow (via a pants “coupler”) would not help in the slightest.

It could be, however, that this hybrid device harnesses the best qualities of its component parts (in this case, the “spacer” and the “coupling”) with none of those parts’ inherent weaknesses, much like the fabled ManBearPig.

Bready, Set, Go!

Someone who cares waaaay too much about the freshness of his or her baked goods has deciphered a “code” in the colors of bread bag twist ties (available here if you’re equally nutty or want to play along at home). According to this bread enthusiast/nutburger, bakeries use a different color twist tie for each day of the week that bread is baked (Monday = blue twist ties, Tuesday = green, etc.) By memorizing this code, one can always be sure to get the freshest possible bread from the grocery store.

While the “code” may be a real thing—and, again, according to several sources, it is—it’s pretty pointless to spend one’s time scouring the bakery rack at Ralph’s to find the most recently baked loaf of whole wheat. Bread never really stays on the shelves for long enough for it to be an issue, and, in fact, the color coded bread bag twist tie scheme was concocted to make it easier for those stocking the shelves to find the older loaves so that they can be removed.

Grocery stores don’t want to sell stale bread to their customers anymore than customers want to buy it, so that does make sense. But shuffling through fifteen loaves to find a loaf that’s at most a day fresher than the others is a huge waste of time. Clowns like this are why I hate going to the grocery store: just grab a loaf and the get the fudge out of my way!

“Psst! Hey, Guy. Wanna Buy A China Tour?”

A little while back, some friends and I took a trip to New York City. On this little jaunt of ours, we partook of all the “usual suspects” of NYC tourism—the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, etc. We also encountered a few of the city’s famous (infamous?) street vendors, selling all manner of “quality” “name brand” goods.

Of course, at least 99% of our purchases were knock offs or fakes, something we knew full well at the time of purchase. How could one possibly get a brand new pair of Oakley sunglasses for ten bucks? Because they’re actually “Oakly” sunglasses, that’s how. But hey, close enough for us!

All in all, our quintet returned home with a good number of these somewhat questionable items. In the months since our trip, we’ve taken to calling them our “Oakleys from New York” or our “Dooney & Bourke from New York,” and the “from New York” suffix has become our gang’s slang term for anything of dubious origin or quality. As in, “Dang, Hank, I didn’t know we were ordering [REDACTED]’s from New York. That pizza was nasty!”

Accordingly, any time I see the phrase “from New York” now, I automatically assume that, whatever it is, it’s going to be at least moderately wonky. So, when I stumbled upon a website advertising “China Tours from New York,” I instantly pictured one of those NYC street peddlers we patronized. “Hey guy,” he says, nodding almost imperceptibly at me, “you wanna buy a China tour? Brand new. Good stuff. Cheap.”

I did look into it a little further, though, and from what I can tell, these cats seem totally legit.