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’.

Distillation: Inspiration for Blogification

So, I’ve come across quite a few strange devices in my incessant, insomniac internet inspections, but these ones are real humdingers. Specifically, humdingers in that the description of what they do is not nearly as interesting as what they actually do.

These gizmos I came across are called “distillation and purification systems,” which sounds awesome, because, yes, please, distill me some booze. And I guess purify it, too, so it tastes better, or whatever. Whaddaya got? Whiskey? Vodka? Scotch? Gin? Doesn’t matter, pour me a glass!

Anywho, it turns out these devices are used to remove solvents from water. Not sure what kind of solvents, exactly, because once I realized they weren’t meant for bootlegging hooch, I skedaddled. Curse you and your deceptive wording! And curse your deceptive wording for not really being all that deceptive because it actually is an accurate description of what the product does! So, really, curse the English language for having words that mean more than one thing! And, ultimately, curse the word “distillation” in particular, because it really does mean the same thing in both cases, but one way of interpreting it is way more fun!

And while we’re at it, curse the internet in general—thief of time and sleep! Just kidding, internet. I love you.

Aren’t They All, Technically?

So, as you may know from reading this stupid little blog (Hi Grandma! Hey Paulie, you dink.), I often determine that things I find on the interwebs are Weirdohead not because of the product itself, but simply because of the name. Last night’s insomniac excursion yielded another of these finds.

A company by the name of Troy Technologies (who are not based in Troy, Michigan, luckily for them) sells what they call “travel wheelchairs.” Which is all well and good, they seem like pretty dang nice wheelchairs, really. But my quibble (or maybe “my question” is more accurate) is this: aren’t all wheelchairs travel wheelchairs, technically? I mean, if you didn’t want to travel in one, wouldn’t you just get a regular chair?

Upon closer inspection, it appears as though these travel wheelchairs are specifically designed for long-distance travel, and are made to fold up for easy storage on airplanes and such. So I guess it makes more sense when you put it that way. But still, it seems a lot like saying a car is a “travel car”–of course it travels, that’s the point!

Ah, the stupid things you think of when you’ve been awake for almost three days straight…

Helium Harry, the 400-Lbs. Gorilla

So, don’t get me wrong. Drug and alcohol abuse are certainly no laughing matter(s?). And kudos to folks who admit they have problems and go into recovery programs. Better to kill your addiction before your addiction kills you. Now, having said that…

I stumbled upon a web page about helium recovery, and the first thing I thought of was someone who got addicted to breathing helium so they could talk with a squeaky voice nonstop. “Paul, this is an intervention. Your helium abuse has gotten out of hand, and, though we love your hilarious Meatwad quotes, it’s ruining all our lives.”

For once, I did a little more research into the subject, and it turns out that the we’re pretty close to running into worldwide helium shortage. Ridiculous though it may sound, I assure you that last sentence is not a joke. We are actually running out of helium. This may not seem like a big deal on the surface, but apparently helium is not used just for birthday balloons. Turns out it’s pretty important for a ton of different scientific processes.

So, ultimately, the “helium recovery” devices this website was shucking are to help people capture the helium they use in…whatever kind of tests they’re doing so it can be reused.

I feel like helium recycling is the kind of environmental cause that could really benefit from a lovable mascot like Smokey Bear. Maybe “Helium Harry,” the 400-pound gorilla with a high-pitched voice and a funny t-shirt. Just as a jumping off point. We’ll workshop it.

Customized, Schmustomized

So, I’ve found at least three metric craptons of random stuff on the interwebs since I started this blog. (Not that anyone has really noticed; I’m pretty sure me and my grandma are the only two people who read it. And maybe my cousin Paul, but he doesn’t count ’cause he’s a doofus.) And, in discovering all these random, Weirdohead things, I’ve noticed that many of them are “customizable.” You can get customized sneakers, customized belts, customized windbreak fences, customized wiring harnesses…Heck, I once found a company called Pneumadyne that will build a customized air manifold for you. If you were to need such a thing for some reason.

But the big question is, why? Why are so many products nowadays customizable? Whatever happened to making do with what you’ve got? Not to sound like an old, crusty, get-the-hell-off-my-lawn type, but I definitely remember a time when, if you needed something specific, and you couldn’t find exactly what you were looking for, you’d just buy the closest thing you could find and just make that SH work.

Maybe that’s part of the problem with ‘Merica today. Everybody wants every last little thing to be just exactly perfectly specifically precisely the way they want it. Nobody just buckles down and makes do anymore. Everything’s too easy-peasy and perfect and custom made to people’s stupid little hipster dipSH whims.

We need to start taking a cue from Dr. Seuss, folks: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

And how about another cue from Tim Gunn: “Make it work.”

Ridiculous Specificity Will Get You…Somewhere?

So, I realize that there are tools specific to every job, no matter what it may be. And, of course, some jobs require more specialized tools than others. But holy frijoles, sometimes the level of specialization in these tools can be straight up ridiculous.

I have found quite a few examples of this in my insomniac internet investigations, but this particular item not only takes the cake, it eats the whole thing in one sitting and doesn’t share with the other kids in class. Check it out:

Who DOESN'T need a brush like this?

Who DOESN’T need a brush like this?

That, dear reader, is a 3/8” diameter body, goat hair fill, 0.063” orifice, male thread, high-pressure flow through brush. FIFTEEN words used just for the name of that bad boy. I would maybe—maybe—expect that level of specificity when calling out a piece of medical equipment, or perhaps some kind of high tech electronic component, but a brush? How over the top precise does a brush need to be, for any purpose?

For what purpose does one use this very, very specific brush? One half elephant, one half rhino: ‘ell if I know. But I will venture a guess and say vacuuming a model railroad. That strikes me as the kind of activity where a dude could get super wrapped up in having every last little detail just right, and as such would require a brush that has fifteen words in its name. Not because it has fifteen words in its name, but because it just has to be that very, very specific type of brush. Model railroad dudes are finicky like that. Probably.