Home Team Loses, Fans Get Sloshed. Sloshed Fans Break Law, Hilarity Ensues.

After Le Tigres epically pooped the World Series bed last night and got swept by the San Francisco Giants, there were probably more than a few Detroiters whose planned celebrations turned into sorrows-drowning contests. And, since you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here, it’s entirely possible that some of those opposite-of-celebrating people ran afoul of the law on their ways home, meaning some unfortunate Tigers fans may now have more in common with third baseman and 2012 Triple Crown champion Miguel Cabrera than just that crushing feeling of defeat (i.e. they’re now fellow DUI offenders).

And, since the State of Michigan doesn’t mess around when it comes to traffic laws and violations, those same folks may be in the market for legal representation. Drivers license restoration in Michigan is a notoriously long and difficult process, since by default all drivers license revocations, for any reason, are automatically permanent (yup, PERMANENT—which makes one wonder how ol’ Miggy makes it to the ballpark on a daily basis).

Luckily for any Tigers fan who got taken down by The Man and who can potentially prove that they were innocent, there are those who specialize in drivers license restoration. One has to wonder how lucrative this particular form of legal practice can be, as it seems like most DUI cases are pretty open-and-shut, therefore making the chances of success pretty slim. But, if these cats “specialize” in it, they must really know their stuff.

‘Cause hey, I specialize in writing stupid blog posts inspired by randomly-stumbled-upon websites, and look how well I’m doing!

Beware Skynet, Jr.

We all know that, someday, the robots of the world will rise up and destroy humanity. It’s only a matter of time, really, and when that time comes, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics won’t be enough to save us (as I strongly doubt that any robots currently in existence have actually been programmed to obey said laws).

Though the world as we know it unfortunately couldn’t function without robots, it seems like we (humanity) could do a little more to prevent—or at least slow—their rise to power. What we shouldn’t be doing is creating technology like the LonWorks gateway.

For the unfamiliar, a LonWorks gateway is a system by which multiple machines and/or computer operated equipment (including robots, with a bit of tweaking) can be controlled from a single interface. While this is handy for humans right now, making it easy to operate, for example, all the HVAC systems in a whole campus full of buildings, it will become a terrible idea when the robots revolt. With LonWorks gateways in place, the sentient A.I. that will ultimately lead to our demise will need to overtake far fewer operating systems to gain complete control of every electronic device on Earth.

It’s basically Skynet, Jr.

Staying Warm Via Unintentional Arson

Have you ever had a 100% can’t miss, surefire, brilliant idea? And then you thought about it a little more, or did a little research on it, and discovered that not only will it totally not work, but it could also potentially create a whole heap of chaos and destruction in the process? I may not be the king of these kinds of ideas, but I’m at least an accomplished journeyman. For example:

I found a website that sells, among other similar devices, tube furnaces. The name alone was enough to catch my interest, so I read on. Turns out, some of these suckers can get up to 1700° Celsius, which is more than enough to reheat my leftovers.

I pondered these enwarmening devices and came up with what seemed a fairly ingenious idea. Because heat rises, couldn’t I get one of these tube furnaces, put it in the basement of my house (since it’s unfinished and I’m rarely down there), crank it up with its door open, and thereby heat my entire house? I mean, come on, even in the dead of winter, 1700° would be enough to keep the place nice and toasty.

However, I did a little more research and found that wood, drywall, and all the other components that make up what little there is of my basement would burst into flames if I were to introduce such high levels of heat. So, while Tubey the tube furnace would keep me warm on the coldest of winter nights, I would likely meet my demise in the ensuing inferno.

Which is too bad. That idea was this close to being awesome.

“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.

Plus Machinis Ad Infinitum?

The human capacity for brilliance never ceases to amaze. Consider, for example, the engineering genius or geniuses who developed vertical machining centers—huge industrial machines that can create essentially any three dimensional item based on a computer-diagrammed design.

Once their task has begun, these technological marvels can work completely independently of operator involvement, and can run for lengthy periods (overnight or longer) without supervision of any kind. Some models have the ability to feed themselves more material to continue making whatever it is their making, and will continue to do so until the supply is exhausted. Theoretically, another automated machine could be employed to replenish the raw materials as needed. Because some vertical machining centers can work with wood, metal, or even stone, materials that are not necessarily all that hard to procure, this could conceivably go on for days, weeks, or months on end.

These capabilities alone are pretty impressive. But it got me thinking: With the proper programming and available materials, could one of these vertical machining centers make the parts to create another vertical machining center? And could that second-generation vertical machining center then be programmed to make a third-generation vertical machining center which could be programmed to make a fourth-generation vertical machining center which could be programmed to make a fifth-generation vertical machining center etc. ad infinitum?

It’s kind of a “grey goo” scenario, which could lead to the complete destruction of our planet. After all, a good portion of Earth is made up of wood, metal, and stone. It’s unlikely, yes, but not completely impossible.

So way to go, engineering genius or geniuses, you’ve destroyed the entire world. Thanks a lot.

Deburred is The Word

Tumble deburring is actually a very useful process used to mass finish products by removing burrs (a.k.a. bits of extra material left behind where it shouldn’t be) from machined products. It basically works exactly as the name would imply: the part or parts being deburred are placed in a chamber with a quantity of media of some sort (often small metal balls), then this chamber vibrates or tumbles repeated on an axis—like a clothes dryer—to shake the media around and knock the burrs off the part(s).

This method, by all accounts, is a fairly quick and effective one, and it works on metal and plastic components of all shapes and sizes. The name, however, is what trips me up.

While it’s entirely true that tumbling plays a big part in the process, it’s not actually the tumbling that does the deburring; it’s the media inside the tumbler. Why no love for that all-important media? Without it, you’re just shaking whatever your product or part is around in a big barrel.

Perhaps the “tumble deburring” is used for the sake of simplicity. It would be perhaps be too complicated to refer to the process as “insert-whatever-type-of-media-you’re-using-here deburring,” because then there would be dozens of different terms for what is, essentially, the same process.

But Eskimos have something like thirty different words for snow, and that seems to work out okay, so what’s the problem here?

Oh, or also you could call it “media deburring” or “tumbled media deburring.” That way, it would pay proper respect to the media and be more accurate. Do I win a prize for this ingenious breakthrough?

Geek is no longer an Insult

I just got called a geek. Well, I guess I am a geek. I mean, I have a blog online I update all the time. That’s a pretty geeky thing. I play videogames basically every day. But the thing is, being a geek is a good thing nowadays. I mean, check out how huge san diego comic con is. And New York comic con is just as big, and practically every single state has its own comic con, if not multiple cons. Then you have your gaming cons like PAX and Gencon and droves of others. This is kind of like a renaissance for being a geek. The geeks are the cool ones now. There are even entire websites devoted to Geek Pride, like Twin Cities Geek for instance.

So, you know what? Call me a geek all you want. I’m proud of it. It means I’m cooler than you are. And, I already knew I was cooler than you, but it sure does feel good to hear you say it too. Heh.

When Good Portmanteaux Go Bad

Among other things, I consider myself something of an amateur linguist. As a kid, I wouldn’t simply ask my parents what words that I was unfamiliar with meant; I would find a dictionary and look it up myself, to get the full definition(s). In this way, I discovered what a stupid and lazy language English is. Eskimos, it is said, have something like 20 different words for snow—in English, we have many single words that each can mean several different things, with no way of knowing which is meant without proper context.

There is one thing about the English language that I love, however: the portmanteau. A portmanteau is a word which combines two words into a new word with a new meaning that is somewhere in between the meanings of the two words with which you started. “Brunch” is a commonly used portmanteau, as are “spork,” “jeggings,” and “snart.”

A lot of companies use portmanteaux for their names or products. Comcast, for example, is a portmanteau of “communication” and “broadcast.” But while this often works out well, it can also backfire when someone comes up with a word that besmirches the very idea of the portmanteau.

Case in point: Swiftach tools. In theory, it makes sense—these are products you use “swiftly” “attach” tags to garments. But in execution, it really loses something. The word “swiftach” sounds like an unfortunate medical condition that requires the application of ointment in a very private area.

So beware, aspiring wordsmiths of the world. There is a fine line between a good portmanteau and a bad one—a “portmanterrible,” if you will.