Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Oven Pride

I hate household chores at the best of times and one of my least favourite is cleaning the oven. That particular chore has just got even more annoying because of the brand name of the cleaner that was for sale in the Co-op.



In this photo you can also just about see my Joy Division oven gloves (I've got Joy Division oven gloves).

The magic of human memory and the way that a song can get stuck in your head means that now, cleaning the oven has a terribly annoying 80s soundtrack running around in my own head.


Richard "That's what my heart yearns for now" B

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Greener Light Harpoon Gun

The human consciousness is a tricky beast. It makes you feel like you're in charge the whole time whereas in fact most of the time it's making up excuses after the fact. "Why did you put your foot under that?" "I sort of thought I could stop it breaking after I dropped it." (it was fragile china or a heavy television). "How was the drive?" "Errm, I don't really remember getting here". Our picture of ourselves is made up of stories, most of them heavily embellished, but just sometimes you can find yourself doing something or getting somewhere and you can't make up a story for why you're there. "Why did I just come upstairs? I think I wanted to get something, never mind I'll go back down".

I've had a lot of time on my hands and I've been watching a lot of videos on YouTube. If you watch one video on a topic, the stupid algorithm will assume that it's your new obsession and recommend nothing else. I've been down myriad convoluted rabbit holes of information, and even though I have no interest in firearms I've so enjoyed the knowledge and enthusiasm of a couple of American gun-nuts that I've watched a lot of their videos. During a serious review of a collectable light harpoon gun (Yes the one used in "Jaws") the presenter managed to make me laugh with a fairly subtle "Jaws" reference.

"The manual contains no information about boat sizing"


I sent it to my friend, who also laughed, but then he asked me "Why were you watching a review of a harpoon gun?" and I couldn't really answer. I mean I remember enjoying a gun video on that particular channel, and I know that I've been watching several of them to pass the time, but how did I end up watching that first one? No Idea. It might have been something to do with military history? Some of the aeroplane videos I watch talk about their guns, maybe that was it? It probably didn't follow from motorcycle reviews or track day footage.

Richard "This was no boating accident" B

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Curiosity Killed the Cat

One of my colleagues works with artificial intelligence and machine learning. One of the time-series datasets that we've got access to, and that he'd like to make predictions from is about leisure centre bookings. He's been doubly screwed by the corona virus, not only is he locked up at home, but his data has an unexpected cliff edge in it, and all the predictions are meaningless.

My mum's cat did even worse. My mum rescued it from a neglectful junkie at the beginning of 2019 and it has blossomed from a scrawny terrified creature into a well fed, friendly and bossy companion. When all the traffic died down it started crossing the road and exploring the neighbourhood. Last week, on its way home it was hit by a car and killed. I buried it in the garden last week. Digging a hole big and deep enough to give a cat a dignified burial is surprisingly tiring, but it's also very compelling. You can't stop if the hole isn't wide enough for the cardboard box/ coffin, and you daren't stop until it's deep enough that you're absolutely sure that your old friend won't get dug up and eaten by vermin.

When I was in my late teens or early 20s I dug the grave for my favourite cat, and we planted a bay tree in his honour. This latest cat was granted a grave site surprisingly close to the Willy-cat memorial bay tree. I do hope that they aren't fighting over territory in the afterlife.

Richard "sexton" B

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Under Pressure

As I now ride a tiny little lightweight bike with cheap little tyres I was persuaded that I could and should change my own tyres at home. I spent £10.80 on tyre levers, gave it a try and failed.

Yet again my crappy arbour press came in handy, this time as a bead breaker. "I am become useful, the destroyer of seals."


I levered the old tyre off without any problems.


I put the new tyre on without any problems.


I couldn't get enough airflow to seat the beads with my footpump.


The machine at he garage did no better.


I turned another wheel into an receiver, pumped it up to 60psi by foot and connected it to my wheel. Still no luck.


I turned the pressure vessel of my week sprayer into a similar contraption and failed again.


Eventually I had to ask for help, and completely negated the point of the whole exercise.

I could just go and buy a little compressor, but I don't think it would help. You need a huge receiver and high flow rate couplings and hoses. The helpful man at National Tyres said that their compressors are set to 200psi and blow down a hose as thick as your finger.

My spite filled research led me to another technique for mounting a tyre: A small explosion. People are successfully mounting tyres in an emergency by setting light to a ring of brake cleaner or cold-start sprayed into the rim.

Even by my standards this is a bit dangerous and a bit rough. I have been researching nice safe butane explosions and I've built both a butane deliver system and a piezo igniter that will fit through an automotive valve stem.

Here it is successful test of using it to open a shoe box.