Are You Sure It’s Not A Factory?

Let me start off by saying that, by and large, batteries are a good thing. It seems like everything we use on a regular basis these days uses some kind of battery. And, since they don’t grow on trees yet (c’mon science!), these batteries have to be made by someone—or, some company, to be more correct.

Apparently, one of the companies that batteries come from is the likely-incorrectly-named House of Batteries. I say it’s probably named incorrectly because, one would assume, batteries are made in a factory, rather than a house.

Now, you may be thinking, “What about the similarly-named International House of Pancakes, which is also not a house but a restaurant? Does that pass muster?” Well, at the very least your average house does have a kitchen and some places to sit, which is the basic premise of a restaurant. Not many actual houses have the equipment necessary to build batteries from scratch.

I have a similar beef with the term “house of cards,” because, no matter how well you build that mother, it’s not actually a house. Where are the doors, the windows, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the bathroom? Oh yeah, a house of cards doesn’t have any of those things because it, too, is not a house. It’s an interestingly but inefficiently organized stack.

I Think I’d Know Anodized When I See One

We’re all familiar with aluminum. It’s the light, yet quite strong (in proportion to said weight) metal that’s used to create containers for soda and, more importantly, beer. It’s really kind of an interesting material, in that it’s flimsy enough for one to easily crush an empty soda or beer can on one’s head (though this is not recommended), yet sturdy enough to contain the high amounts of pressure placed on it by the soda or beer itself before the can is opened.

Rumor has it there’s a process available that can make aluminum harder and stronger than normal, called anodizing. Anodized aluminum can be, depending on the anodizing process used (apparently there are many variations), made into “one of the hardest substances known to man, second only to diamond.” However, even if the aluminum is incredibly hard, wouldn’t it still be light and flimsy underneath the anodized exterior?

Also, if you need a material that hard, wouldn’t you just use a material other than aluminum to begin with? Wouldn’t, I don’t know, steel or something like that make more sense, as it would not need to be anodized to make it extra hard? Or, if for whatever reason the item in question has to be made of aluminum, couldn’t you just make it a little thicker to compensate for it’s flimsiness? And did I really just write a Weirdohead post using the word “flimsy” three times in as many paragraphs? No—now it’s in there FOUR times. Aaargh!

What In the Heck is A Specialty Metal?

There are plenty of items that can be found on the internet that can qualify as “specialty.” One can find specialty coffee, order a specialty pizza, find business that peddle specialty books—you can even order yourself a pair specialty shoes just for rock climbing.

But what in the blue heck is a specialty metal?

I actually came across a company online—we’ll call them Magellan Metals, because that’s what they’re actually called—that sells and distributes nothing but “specialty metals.” This struck me as both bizarre and intriguing, kind of like a drunk clown.

Rather than looking into it further, however, which would have been easy since I had already found a website that would likely explain it, I chose to remain blissfully ignorant and merely speculate instead.

Is adamantium a specialty metal? You know, the stuff that Wolverine from X-Men has covering his skeleton. How about kryptonite? From Superman. I think that might actually be a mineral—I’ve always seen it portrayed as more of a rock-like substance than a metallic one.

Or is specialty metal more like a suit of armor? That’s definitely metal, and definitely a specialty item, so that would make sense. What about the Lombardi Trophy? The trophy that every Super Bowl champion gets—that’s clearly made of metal, and you can’t just go pick ‘em up in bulk at Costco.

Hmm… specialty metals. The possibilities are practically limitless when you choose to NOT find out what it really means.

Super Powered Carbonation?

If you thought brushing your teeth with baking soda was a weird way to clean stuff, get a load of this: So-called “ultrasonic cleaning” uses high frequency vibrations to essentially create carbonation in cleaning solution. One then places whatever item one needs cleaned into said solution and the thousands or millions of bubbles rub up against it and pop, scrubbing away any dirt and what have you from the surface of the item.

It calls to mind the time I tried to clean my toilet with a can of Coke. I had heard that if you just pour in the soda and leave it overnight, the carbonation and such will clear away the nastiness that has built up. What actually happened is that, if anything, my toilet was dirtier than before I poured in the Coke, and I had wasted a tasty beverage. Stupid urban legends. Where were you on that one, TV’s Mythbusters?

Apparently, in “the biz,” the bubbles involved are called “cavities,” and their growth is called “cavitation.” This does not really fit what most people probably think of when they hear the word “cavities,” but as long as there’s no visits to the dentist involved, I’m okay with a people getting a little loose with the language.

See how I brought it back around to tooth care? DENTAL HYGIENE IS IMPORTANT, DAMMIT!

Don’t Spray Your Thermal on Me, Pal!

In my incessant, insomniac internet inspection, I discovered a company called ASB Industries that offers something called “thermal spray coatings.” Looking into it further, I determined that thermal spray coating is kind of like spray painting on steroids, and it could totally kill you dead.

Apparently, thermal spray coating uses super heated plasma jets (yes, plasma jets—how cool is that? Even if you don’t know what it is, it still sounds rad) to melt any number of materials—like aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, nickel, etc.—and then blast the molten droplets onto another surface.

Surely it’s all very scientific, but it also sounds very, very dangerous (and don’t call me Shirley).

One little slip up on the job and you’ve covered ol’ Pete in a half inch thick layer of rapidly cooling molybdenum (can’t believe that’s an actual word). Then the shop foreman comes over, calls a few people knuckleheads, tells Pete to stop screwing around and get back to work (even though he’s deader than Viserys Targaryen, and died in much the same fashion), and you’re filling out incident paperwork for the rest of the week.

There are probably a number of useful, um, uses for thermal spray coatings, but it seems to me that the potential hazards involved would perhaps outweigh said usefulness.

Probably Not What Ol’ Leo Had in Mind

Sometimes, a website must be deemed Weirdohead not because of the products they sell, but simply because of the name of the site. Case in point: DaVinci Technologies.

Clicking through their site, it seems that they actually peddle some fairly interesting products—vinyl laminate for window signs, vehicle wrap to add crazy ads or graphics to cars, etc. However, interesting and useful though these products may be, they really don’t fit the mold of the company’s namesake, Leonardo DaVinci.

Granted, these are all products used for visual displays, and Leonardo is probably most famous for his paintings, so there is a bit of a connection there. However, almost everything the original DaVinci produced is a confirmed masterpiece. Every visual display I’ve ever seen that uses products like DaVinci Technologies’ has been, well, considerably less than a masterpiece.

That’s not to say that no one could create a great work of art on printable vinyl or any of their other products. But the day someone manages to make a printed window display that’s as brilliant as the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper is the day I eat my hat. (Luckily, I have a hat made of beef jerky for just such an occasion.)

Although…it doesn’t actually mention the name “Leonardo” anywhere on the site. Maybe they meant Steve DaVinci.

O, Kalamazoo!

There’s no denying that drunk drivers are incredibly stupid. Who else but a complete idiot would take the controls of a one ton-plus piece of machinery— which can go very, very fast, mind you— after getting sauced?

But, it seems there are people even dumber than drunk drivers: people who go drunk driving in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I know that these people exist, because there’s random website out there that advertises legal help specifically for Kalamazooan drunk drivers.

“Why is drunk driving in Kalamazoo, Michigan, any stupider than drunk driving anywhere else” you ask? Have you ever been to Kalamazoo? I have. It’s not a real great town to drive in under any circumstances. Why anyone would want to get drunk and then drive around in Kalamazoo (or, even worse, get drunk and then drive to Kalamazoo) is beyond me. I hate to say this, residents of Kalamazoo, but the best thing to do in your town is leave it.

Also, from what I’ve heard, Michigan has extremely tough drunk driving laws. Every state should. Good on you, Michigan.

“How tough are Michigan’s drunk driving laws?” you ask. I think I read somewhere that your first offense gets you huge fines and a revoked driver’s license. For a second offense, they cut off your right foot so you can’t drive any more.

They Say Flexible Shaft Coupling is A Bad Mother—Shut Your Mouth!

For the unfamiliar, a “coupling” or “shaft coupling” is a device used to connect two shafts for the purpose of transmitting power from one to the other (which then usually turns/powers something else). By necessity—and the laws of physics—the two shafts being joined must be very, very close to perfectly in line for the process to work.

But, then Dr. Karl Gustav von Flexible Shaft Coupling (possibly not the guy’s actual name—I’m too lazy to look it up) invented the flexible shaft coupling, which allows for some misalignment between the two joined shafts. Which is all well and good, except for one thing:

If you can’t build your device(s) so that the two shafts line up correctly from the word “go,” you might not be that good of a mechanical engineer. And if you’re not that good of an engineer, I don’t really want you designing anything that involves this much mechanical power, because if you can’t get that essential part right, what else did you fudge in your design?

It seems to me (as an expert, of course) that flexible shaft couplings just invite shoddy work. If you know you don’t have to get all your drive shaft angles to line up just right, you probably won’t put forth the effort to make sure they do. From there, it’s a slippery slope that leads to something exploding and somebody losing an eye (or worse).

So thanks a lot, Karl. You’ve made the world a more dangerous place.

Travel the World! Well, Not the WHOLE World

As people who live on Planet Earth, we literally have an entire world to explore. And, travel is a lot of fun, if you do it the right way. With those thoughts in mind, I ask: Why would you want to take a tour of China?

Sure, China does have a good amount of history, and, from photos I’ve seen, some pretty decent scenery. So do plenty of other countries, however, and those ones don’t require a 13 or so hour flight, aren’t polluted to high heaven, and aren’t run by an oppressive Communist government. But, someone out there in Internet Land is advertising special tours of China that will let you enjoy all those great things and more.

“What about the Great Wall?” you may ask. “It’s thousands of years old and so mammoth that it can be seen from space. Isn’t that cool?” No, it isn’t. I’ve seen walls, lots of them—not sure how a really big one is going to be all that impressive. Also, I’m not sure how this malarkey got started, but you can’t see the Great Wall of China from space. Sorry. And, yes, it is thousands of years old, but that alone does not make it interesting. The pyramids of Egypt are thousands of years older, and are far more noteworthy for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I don’t have four very, very similar things holding up the roof of my house.

But, by all means, have fun spending over half a day on a plane, breathing toxic fumes, and not being able to access Google on your smartphone.

Dang It, Bobby! I Told You to Clean Your Cleanroom!

Latest Weirdohead discovery: cleanrooms. Apparently, they’re special chambers in scientific laboratories and manufacturing facilities where everything is specially “super sterilized” to keep whatever the people inside are working on extra, extra, extra clean.

Now, in a manufacturing setting, I can see how you’d need some way to keep stuff cleaner than the general industrial mess around you. But in a scientific laboratory, shouldn’t you really be keeping all your stuff super clean anyway? What kind of lazy slob scientists need a special room to keep the Cheetos dust off their experiments.

And, equally bizarre, there’s seemingly an entire industry dedicate to creating specialty cleanroom garments. Do you really need specially, extra clean clothes to go into your extra clean room? Can’t you just be sure to wash whatever you’re going to be wearing before you go in. Get some extra strength Tide or something and you’re good to go.

Perhaps worst of all, from what I found, these cleanrooms aren’t designed for anything particularly interesting. They’re mostly used for manufacturing medical equipment and other boring, run of the mill items. I was hoping that most people would at least be doing something cool in a cleanroom, like dissecting an alien like that scene toward the end of E.T.