Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Koss Pro4aa Stereophones

Call me crazy, but I like big cans,the full sized units that completely cover your ears.  The one
drawback to full sized headphones is that while wearing them you look like you are:
A: Landing Airplanes in 1965
B: An escapee from the Language Learning Lab.
C: A Ham radio enthusiast

I say, if your gonna look like a tool, then go all the way, go ahead, embrace your inner Radar,
own it, turn it up to "11" and take it straight past geek and don't stop until you get past
hip-tard.  The old school Koss Pro4aa will take you there in style.  What style?  Who the hell
knows, but who cares !  You won't be able to hear them snicker anyway with these clamped to
your skull and cranked up.  And for good sound, nothing compares to a good quality pair of over
the ear headphones and that is precisely the point.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Venetian Wells

If you have been to Venice, you have probably noticed the often intricately carved well heads in the center of nearly every campo.  Since Venice is very nearly under the salt water which fills its canals, it would seem unlikely that a simple well could provide potable water.  As it happens, they are not wells at all, they are cisterns which collect and filter rainwater.  Basically, the Venetians excavated the plaza to a depth of around 10 feet in the form of an funnel.  The hole was then lined with clay.  The well was situated at the deepest part of the clay funnel and constructed out of porous bricks without mortar.  The area inside the funnel and around the well was then filled with sand and covered with brick or stone.  Rainwater would flow off the roofs of the city's buildings into storm drains in the plaza where it would flow through the sand (filtering it) and fill the clay cistern.  Clean water could then be brought up through the well mouth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ariel Atom

The Ariel Atom is a handbuilt car designed by Coventry University (U.K.) student Nik Smart in
1996.  The most striking aspect of the Atom is the absence of bodywork and the large tubes of
the Exoskeleton chassis.  Now on it's third model iteration, the Ariel is also made in the U.S. by
TMI in Virginia.  Just as in the Lotus 7/Caterham, the design leverages it's light weight to humble
cars with twice the horsepower and cost.  With a 300hp supercharged Honda engine, the Atom
will scoot to sixty mph in under 3 seconds and handily beat a fast motorcycle on Top Gears test 
track.  Hell, Jay Leno owns one of these, that should be all the endorsement you need.  I highly
recommend the Top Gear review, if for nothing else then because of what the Atom does to 
Jeremy Clarkson's turkey neck. Top Gear Ariel Atom Review

Alternate Starship Enterprise Models

As part of the runup to the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie, they distributed 30 models of the
movies Enterprise to various designers, trekkies etc.  The one below which is my personal fav is
by Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo.  You can check out the whole lot here Enterprise Gallery

Monday, April 13, 2009

Folding Kayaks

I had always thought that folding boats were a bad idea given the punishment the ocean can
dish out.  You may or may not have seen ads for these in boating magazines, they were 
always in the back with the kit boats and other craft of dubious provenance and safety.
As I have come to learn however, the genuinely useful things in boating magazines are not the
shiny, gel coated and carpeted, mass production boats, but the weird stuff in the back.  Okay,
the fact that they had dubious sounding names like "Folbot" certainly didn't help.  In any case,
my first impression was flat out wrong, in fact a Klepper folding kayak was singlehanded across
the Atlantic in 1953.  I certainly had no idea that the folding kayak is used by many special forces
units for stealthy infiltration of enemy positions (presumably because they fold up into a large
duffle bag and are easy to get in and out of submarine hatches.  As it turns out, Folbot kayaks
were used somewhat famously by the SAS during WWII.  Go Figure.

Major Manufacturers include Nautiraid(pictured), Folboat and Klepper

Platt Monfort's Geodesic Airolite Boats

Platt Monfort, a chemical engineer, inventor and boat enthusiast developed the Geodesic 
Airolite skin on frame construction technique for buiding strong, lightweight small boats.
Intended to be built at home, hundreds of his canoes, prams and rowboats have been
contructed by novice builders all over the world.  The design consists of a lightweight
wood lattice (much like traditional kayaks) reinforced by diagonal strips of Kevlar and
covered with aerospace quality shrink-wrapped Dacron.  A 16 foot canoe when built 
with this technique weights approx 32 lbs. and can carry 400lbs.  To put this into some
context, very expensive Carbon Fiber or Kevlar canoes are slightly heavier and a fiberglass 
or poly canoe of similar size is roughly twice as heavy.  Although Monfort passed in 
2005, his designs are still for sale and still quite popular, check out the complete design
catalogue at the web site:  Geodesic Airolite Boats

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