Pan Rainbows

February 29th, 2008 § 4 comments § permalink

After the nerd-fest of the disintegrating windmill, I thought I’d posit this question to any and all passers by to see if they know the answer:

While doing the dishes this evening Alex noticed some discoloration on the cooking surface of her stainless-steel frying pan. The discoloration was a mottled, rainbow-colored pattern, almost as if there was some film on top of the metal that was acting as a prism. I had a quick look around Google and found that it was usually caused by overheating the pan, and can be removed with lemon juice. A quick squirt of store-bought juice did the trick.

The question is: what’s the discoloration actually caused by? Is it some sort of buildup on the surface of the metal, and if so–what? Is it the metal itself releasign some sort of chemical due to prolonged contact with excessive heat? Is it residue from food that was cooked onto it? Is it a chemical reaction from overheated food? I can’t find a good answer anywhere.

Apparently, citric acid and fructose are enough to permanently remove whatever it is.

Maceo Parker: “Roots and Grooves”

February 29th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

I discovered Maceo Parker my freshman year of college, and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since. His appearance at Celebrate Brooklyn in 2006 was undoubtedly the most enjoyable concert I’ve ever attended. Should he come back to New York in the future, I’d be prepared to shell out almost any asking price for a ticket. I’ve purchased all his most recent recordings, too, so I was thrilled to find out that he’d released a new record, “Roots and Grooves“, a two-disk set featuring the WDR Big Band (Westdeutscher Rundfunk/West German Radio). As soon as I listened to a single iTunes 30-second preview, I knew I’d be plunking down fifteen bucks for the whole thing.

The first disc, “Tribute to Ray Charles”, features eight Charles numbers, performed impeccably by Parker and WDRBB. Somehow, his gravelly voice, normally confined to celebratory shouts and yelps at live shows (“Shucks!, Good God!”), fits the covers perfectly. I particularly enjoyed “Busted” and “Hit the Road Jack”.

The second disc, subtitled “Back to Funk”, is where it gets going. Rather than record a stack of new tunes, Parker reaches back into the vault for a fistful of hits to re-record with the help of the WDR band and current band members Dennis Chambers (drums) and Rodney “Skeet” Curtis (bass). The pair are fantastic together, and the rhythm section is incredibly tight. Between intricate licks by Chambers and grimy slap-bass by Curtis, my head started snapping and I was grinning like an idiot instantaneously.

I was especially delighted to find a big-band enhanced, well-recorded version of The JB’s classic “Pass the Peas”, which I first came across on “Life on Planet Groove” several years ago. The song, and its performance on that record, is fantastic, but the sound quality is abysmal, sorely lacking in bass and with treble so crispy it’s hard to listen to. Where the first version fails, this one succeeds.

Look, just go and buy the record. It’s the filthiest, funkiest album I’ve heard in ages.

Maceo Parker’s Website
iTunes link for good measure

Wind Turbine

February 27th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

I ran across this video this morning on Engadget, and I find it fascinating. This particular windmill happens to be in Denmark. Apparently, the manufacturer, Vestas (which is a Danish company), is now the target of an investigation by the Danish government. According to this article, wind turbines made by Vestas have collapsed elsewhere recently, too.

I wonder how this happens? Perhaps it’s a brake failure, though the speed of the blades suggests that the drive shaft is disconnected from the generator, though I have no idea if that’s possible.

Update: This post has generated the most commentary from my friends and family of anything I’ve put here in some time:

My dad says:

Interesting. Looks to be a good breeze blowing. [I believe the] control system for these things is supposed to feather the blades as a function of generator speed (and so wind speed) so that the generator speed stays within design limits. When they don’t then the generator runs way too fast. If it goes on for too long the generator’s bearings will seize – and the result is predictable!

And my friend John says:

…apparently the pitch control motor failed
so they could not adjust pitch the prop in order to adjust the speed.
I am sure the generator tripping did not help as it was likely out of
frequency tolerance as then [the] mechanical load would have also

And my mum delivered the goods with maybe the most relevant:

  That could have been embarrassing!

Growing up without ASBOs [Edited]

February 16th, 2008 § Comments Off § permalink

Until recently there was a post here where I tried to provide a personal postscript to an academic paper I wrote in early 2007 based on some stories I read in the press about some people I grew up with.

I received some email which pointed out that the post was at least partially based on a misreading of one or more articles and appeared to present some of my own distant memories of people and places of at least fifteen years ago as incontrovertible fact. Upon re-reading what I wrote here in 2008 and considering it a bit further, I thought that was a bit unfair, so I decided to take down the post to avoid further confusion.

Additionally, I’m not naming names here to avoid this post showing up in Google results and such for the same queries as before.

Comments, etc. are closed here, but I welcome email at any time.

Excuse me, sir, but where did you get those boots?

February 10th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

While in Australia, I received as a Christmas present from my mum a fine pair of R.M. Williams boots. They’re the “Comfort Craftsman” model, in brown. Without a doubt, I’d say they are the finest pair of footwear I’ve ever owned. I wear them a couple of times a week, at minimum, and they’re always incredibly comfortable.

Australian work boots like these are sort of unique-looking. They’re made from one large piece of leather, just stitched once up the back. They have elastic sides and pull tabs at the top.  You’ve probably seen them before.

I’m constantly amazed how much attention they garner, in very strange places. I was on the 6 train last week, heading home after work, listening to This American Life’s weekly podcast, and generally zoning out. A guy sitting on the seat next to where I was standing tapped me on the shoulder. Seeing I was wearing earphones he pointed to my feet, then gave me a thumbs-up and wink. I noticed he was wearing gray suede brogues. I would have thought his own shoes were far more worthy of attention than mine.

Later in the week, on the elevator at work, I was going up to my desk from the ground floor, when a guy whom I had never spoken with before exclaimed (in a crowded elevator, no less)

“Whoa man, those are nice shoes! Where did you get those?”

“Australia, actually.”

“Damn, those are nice. Are they boots or shoes? [he bends down to take a closer look] Boots. Let me see those better.” Awkwardly, I pulled my trouser leg up an inch or two to oblige. He exclaims once or twice more, then he got off the elevator. I haven’t heard from him since.