04 July 2020

Fireworks safety video


Via Neatorama.

The Arctic is warming REALLY fast


"... already this year, fires in the spring arrived earlier and with more ferocity, government officials have said. In the territory where Deyev lives, fires were three times as large this April as the year before. And the hot, dry summer lies ahead... 
“We always expected the Arctic to change faster than the rest of the globe,” said Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “But I don’t think anyone expected the changes to happen as fast as we are seeing them happen.”.. The temperatures occurring in the High Arctic during the past 15 years were not predicted to occur for 70 more years... 
Neither Dallas nor Houston has hit 100 degrees yet this year, but in one of the coldest regions of the world, Siberia’s “Pole of Cold,” the mercury climbed to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) on June 20. 
Scientists have long maintained that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But in reality, the region is now warming at nearly three times the global average. Data from NASA shows that since 1970, the Arctic has warmed by an average of 5.3 degrees (2.94 Celsius), compared with the global average of 1.71 degrees (0.95 Celsius) during the same period. Scientists refer to the phenomenon as “Arctic amplification."
The melting of snow and ice earlier in the spring exposes darker land surfaces and ocean waters. This switches these areas from being net reflectors of incoming solar radiation to heat absorbers, which further increases land and sea temperatures."
More grim reality at The Washington Post.

Thomas Jefferson's sixth great-grandson


Some relevant comments at DamnThat'sInteresting.  More about Shannon LaNier and the creation of the portrait at Smithsonian (with interesting video), via BoingBoing.

Counterfeit mint marks


This is the most interesting thing I've read all week.  I started collecting coins when I was a kid, though the hobby has been inactive for decades.  Mint marks are crucial in determining the value of a coin, and most collectors realize that they can be altered by abrading them off, or by adding extra metal (typically crudely done).  Yesterday the Madison Coin Club circulated an article from CoinWeek explaining that mint marks can be added from the inside of the coin.
This curious alteration, known as an embossed mintmark, began turning up in the late 1970s and early ‘80s on coins bearing thick edges and on which any mintmark would typically be found near the rim. Buffalo Nickels certainly fit that bill. So, too, do Morgan Dollars...

What’s an embossed mintmark? It’s a mintmark that has pushed up from inside the coin – that’s the embossing process. But how’s something like this done? By drilling a tiny hole through the edge of the coin under the place where the mintmark will be situated on the coin. To emboss the mintmark, a device resembling needle-nosed pliers is used; on the inside of one jaw is the mintmark, and on the inside of the other is padding to prevent scratches and other damage on the surface receiving the embossed mintmark. With the mintmark-side of the pliers in the drilled-out hole, pressure is then applied on the pliers and the mintmark is embossed onto the coin from within. The access hole on the edge of the coin is then filled with a material such as lead and sanded or sculpted to resemble the surrounding authentic edge...

A miscreant who endeavors in such fraud must have a lot of patience – and access to dental tools – to emboss bogus mintmarks. But it’s been done… countless times. How many embossed mintmarks are out there is anybody’s guess. But these phonies are prevalent enough on the marketplace that collectors need to be wary.
Image from the source (I added the arrow pointing to the "S" mint mark).

Remember to clean your clothes dryer vent - updated


It's not sufficient to clean the lint trap screen on your appliance.  We did that for 15 years, but still found the efficiency of the dryer decreasing, so we called in the services of a professional.  The first thing he did was remove the contorted connector (above) that ran between the dryer and the wall conduit.  The previous owner of the house had done this because the dryer vent outlet and the wall site were not in line horizontally or vertically.   This segment was not occluded with lint, but it's inefficient and prone to collecting debris.

The replacement (not shown) is a short "transition vent" that runs diagonally; it will need to be detached in order to move the dryer out to clean the floor etc, but it's less likely to become plugged with lint.


The next step was to clean inside the dryer by removing the front panel. 


I've highlighted with a red oval the problem he usually finds - an accumulation of dust and (in our case) cat hair.   When home clothes dryers catch fire, THIS is the where the combustible material is typically located.  And most importantly, this material is NOT derived from the clothes in the dryer - it gets sucked into the cabinet from the floor of the room.

Think about it.  The dryer is going to heat and spin and blow air out its vent.  To do that, it has to pull air in from somewhere.  Not from outdoors, where the air might be subzero, but from behind itself and from the floor of the room.  Even if you're careful about cleaning, over the years dust and debris will accumulate.


The next step was cleaning the conduit between the utility room and the outdoors.  In our case, that conduit ran up the inside of the wall between the utility room and the garage, then horizontally between a crawlspace and the roof of the garage, then exited high on the outside wall.

Too high for me to access.  I don't have a ladder that long, and if I did, I wouldn't go up except at gunpoint.  He went up and removed the louvers that covered the vent.  The louvers were twisted and didn't move freely.  This happens because the exiting air is hot enough to warp the plastic slats of the louver (this risk is present on clothes-dryer vents, but not on ones for room-temp air such as bathroom vents).  He reached in and dropped down to me a handful of what he found inside:


That's typical clothes lint - the stuff that works its way through the trap in the dryer.

The next step was to clean the entire conduit - probably 30-40 feet in length.  On the internet I had read reports of homeowners claiming success in cleaning such vents by adapting the output of a leaf blower to the indoor end and blowing the ducts out.  He explained that it's seldom that simple.  The lint that exits sometimes carries some moisture and especially at bends or joins in the tubing it can accumulate in a consistency not unlike papier-mâché.

What professionals use (I didn't take a photo) is the air-duct equivalent of a Roto-Rooter for water drains.   It's a flexible "snake" with brushes that rotate as it traverses the ducts.  And as it goes through, vacuum is applied from the inside to suck out the material that is coating the duct.


Finally, he replaced the louver with an animal-exclusion cage (it lifts up for cleaning if lint accumulates).  Our exit site did not contain a bird's nest or any evidence of animal invasion.  Birds do sometimes nest in these sites if they are open (he had recently serviced the vents at an apartment complex where a dozen of the 30-40 vents had bird nests in them).  Chipmunks and other small rodents will nest in these locations if the outlet is low on the wall.  Bats are not a problem because they do not tolerate the heat.

We couldn't be happier with the result.  The first load we ran dried in probably half the time that similar loads required in the past, so there will be a saving in electricity plus much less wear and tear on tumbling clothes, plus eliminating one potential risk for a house fire.

Finally, a shout-out to the crew:


They were highly efficient and totally professional.  Their offices are on Odana Road in Madison, Wisconsin.

Addendum:  There is a relevant current article on "Dryer Duct Safety" in Reuben Saltzman's incomparable home inspection blog.

Reposted from 2017 to add this incredible GIF ("Renters demand a new dryer since this one "isn't working well"").

Hum along with "The Liberty Bell"



Don't know the tune?  Of course you do.  Every Brit and most Americans have heard it a hundred times here.

03 July 2020

"Put on a Happy Face" parody



In the past I've buried Randy Rainbow's parodies in the "Trump clumps," but now with the gloves off I'll go ahead and offer this one in a full post.

For those new to these videos, there are dozens more here.

Addendum:
Washington — After long resisting wearing a mask in public, President Trump said Wednesday he thinks it makes him look like the Lone Ranger - and he likes it.
Someone doesn't realize that the Lone Ranger's mask covered his eyes, not his nose and mouth.  Moron.

Bette Midler agrees:

02 July 2020

Hotels (including Hyatt, Trump) don't change sheets or clean rooms



I've always thought this was the case, and have see several anecdotal reports from people leaving or finding things between sheets - but it's better to see the faults professionally documented.

And you know the public blaming will go to the poor staff, whitewashing the roles of management and ownership.  I'm sure this has been going on for decades.

An example of a protest that goes way too far

"Protesters apparently outraged by the killing of a popular singer in Ethiopia stopped traffic on Interstate 94 in St. Paul [Minnesota] during Wednesday evening’s rush hour. 
One protester told KSTP-TV they are telling the U.S. government to stop letting fake leaders run Ethiopia after the killing of singer Hachalu Hundessa. 
State Patrol spokesman Lt. Gordon Shank said after 8 p.m. the protesters had left the freeway, and no arrests have been made."

$1 BILLION amphetamine drug bust


Those bins are full of the pills, which were produced by ISIS and seized in Italy.  Video at CNN shows the train of those carts, which weighed 15 U.S. tons.

Supposedly a coincidence


Discussed at BoingBoingI haven't found confirmation that this shirt is being marketed by the Trump campaign itself.  Several readers have confirmed that this shirt is being sold at the official Donald Trump campaign website.

"Museum glass" illustrated


The discussion thread focuses on the problems when this glass is used for doors.

01 July 2020

Coronavirus testing problems ahead


As reported in The Atlantic:
The United States is once again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, an ominous development that would deny the country a crucial tool to understand its pandemic in real time.

The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. While the country’s laboratories have added tremendous capacity in the past few months—the U.S. now tests about 550,000 people each day, a fivefold increase from early April—demand for viral tests is again outpacing supply.

If demand continues to accelerate and shortages are not resolved, then turnaround times for test results will rise, tests will effectively be rationed, and the number of infections that are never counted in official statistics will grow. Any plan to contain the virus will depend on fast and accurate testing, which can identify newly infectious people before they set off new outbreaks. Without it, the U.S. is in the dark.

The delays have already started. Yesterday, Quest Diagnostics, one of the country’s largest medical-testing companies, said that its systems were overwhelmed and that it would now be able to deliver COVID-19 test results in one day only for hospitalized patients, patients facing emergency surgery, and symptomatic health-care workers. Everyone else now must wait three to five days for a test result...
More at the link.

Mass die-off of elephants in Botswana


As reported in The Guardian:
More than 350 elephants have died in northern Botswana in a mysterious mass die-off described by scientists as a “conservation disaster”. 
A cluster of elephant deaths was first reported in the Okavango Delta in early May, with 169 individuals dead by the end of the month. By mid June, the number had more than doubled, with 70% of the deaths clustered around waterholes... 
The Botswana government has not yet tested samples so there is no information on what is causing the deaths or whether they could pose a risk to human health. The two main possibilities are poisoning or an unknown pathogen. Anthrax – initially considered the most likely cause – has been ruled out.
More at the link.

Shame on her


Via facepalm.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...