Random adapters 9/23/08

I’ve learned that trying to turn random facts into thoughtful essays is time consuming, and comes off pretensious when you read it a day later.

Never try to cut palm frans with a machette. That’s not from my experience, but the guy who told me seemed sincere and knowlegeable on the subject.

Hurricane Ike liberated thousads of cows across SE Texas, who are now in danger of being eaten by alligators.

Sarah Palin still isn’t talking to the press. CNN almost protests. [via Cynical C-Blog]

Finally, for the stagehands, an account of a practical use for that edison-XLR adapter you once madde as a joke. If you only connect the shield in the female XLR to the ground in the male edison (or the male stagepin) you have a last resort for closing an open ground loop in an uppity sound system.

The look on everybody’s face is worth it alone. And if it makes the humm go away – all the better.

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What suspends everything above our heads [9/22/08]

Today’s gig was going into a new church, and straightening out some lighting pipes that had been hung crookedly. Now, when we got into lifts and ladders and lifted the drop ceiling panels, we saw stupid things. But, you have to realize, these were hung several months ago, before there was a drop ceiling, or AC ducts, or even interior walls.

That meant a lot of guessing as to what would be level and/or straight, and they guessed wrong. It wasn’t crooked because the hardware was mounted improperly (although that didn’t help). It was crooked because the floor, the surface they must’ve measured from, was not level.

Correcting the height is no big deal, but there was one pipe we had to move, and to do that we needed to create a new place to hang it, where there was otherwise only AC duct. So we ordered some all-thread.

All-thread, to a certain but real extent, is what keeps western civilization – or at least its casula architecture – from falling down upon our heads. Look up in the ceiling in some large, public building,sometime. Anything heavier than you are is likely suspended by all-thread.

(It’s more properly called threaded rod, but everyone calls it all-thread.)

All thread is nothing more than a contnuously threaded metal rod, usually coming in 10′ lengths (in the US). Like a 10′ long bolt. That’s a bit too long for what we usually do, so we cut it. The trick is, cutting it almost always boogers the threads, so you can’t thread the nut – which defeats the purpose of getting all thread in the first place.

What I learned today is that you simply cannot make a clean cut through all-thread with a hand-held reciprocating saw. I’ve tried everything. Long ago I learned that carefully leveling and securing the rod before cutting it merely means it takes longer to booger the treads with the saw. And today, I dispelled (for myself at least) the myth that laboriously running to bolts to either side of the cut will help preserve the thread. It won’t. And your co-worker will merely sigh.

The only thing for it is to de-booger the threads with a metal file (the one on my Leatherman works great for this). Make sure you get this step done before you go in the ceiling. I can usually clean the thread enough to force a nut on within five minutes, even after my own hasty, sloppy saw cut.

Speaking of things held up with more faith than the skill involved probably merits, Cramer – yeah that Cramer – went on for the better part of his show about how you need to sell stocks and buy gold because the sky’s about to fall. You, in the late innings of a close game, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa will change pitchers for almost every different batter. So there are a lot of commercials. So I watch whichever cable news show isn’t running a commercial right at that moment, and tonight it was Cramer. And he said the same thing every time. If the bail-out doen’t pass, it will be Great Depression II. Buy gold before it gets to $1000/oz.

Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Lyon had two Cardinals in scoring position with no outs, and got a double play and a pop up to leave the inning with a 4-2 lead intact. Almost gives a man hope for the future.

Banking is like rigging. It’s gonna get fixed because it has to get fixed. The only questions are how long and how much.

Tomorrow, I’m getting up in the morning and going to work as if the paper economy is going to sort itself out, and walk under the ceiling as if the all-thread is rigged correctly. The Diamondbacks are back in the pennant race whether the banks seize up or not. So now its up to the lawyers and bankers to fix their mistakes.

September 12, 2008

My wife had a much better 9/11post.

So, I’m proofing the galleys for my book (did mention I have a book coming out? I do.) when a co-worker started explaining proof-reading codes to me. Now, I’m not the proof-reader. The author’s job here is to just make certain the words and facts line up as he/she understands them. In this case, I’m correcting some things in the text, but I’m mostly looking for map errors. Stop yawning, I’ll get to my point…

My friend insisted that the numeric code 30 meant the manuscript was finished. That 33 meant give it back to the author for more revision, and that 86 meant reject the manuscript entirely. She then insisted that this was the origin of the term “86’d”.

Of course I looked it up.

30 is definitely proof code for done – print it. I couldn’t find any reference to 33.

86 definitely came from somewhere else. Proofreaders may have used it, just like everybody else, but they didn’t invent it.

Two prominent theories about where the term came from.

1) It refers to section 86 of the Uniform Code of Mlitary Justice, which deals with desertion and AWOL. Possible, but the term seems to imply an involuntary expulsion from something, where AWOL is presumably voluntary on the part of the soldier.

2) It refers to the street adress of a NYC speakeasy (and accounts differ as to the details), and this was what they yelled when the cops were about to barge in.

I’m not sure I buy either origin story. We may come back to this.

Meanwhile, here’s a good source for common proof-reader’s symbols: http://webster.commnet.edu/writing/symbols.htm

The bony plates on the back of the Stegosaurus (a Jurassic era herbivore) had great blood vessels inside them, and may have turned bright red during stress (such as being attacked) as the plates filled with blood. A warning perhaps to Allosaurs, who still remain, in my mind, as the coolest of the predatory dinosaurs.

I know this because I’ve been babysitting Walking with Dinosaurs at the US Airway Center in Phoenix. They feature life-size animatronic dinosaurs walking around beneath a truly fantastic light show. The tickets are outrageous ($35+ in Phoenix) but worth it anyway. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to Jurassic Park.