• Warning: It's the end of the year, so I'm in full Grinch mode.
    Sometimes, it's a good thing they don't make them like they use to:
    [youtube 1_ptUrQOMPs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_ptUrQOMPs youtube]

    • pj134

      Yeah, because X-Frames were a great idea in general.

  • Number_Six

    When I was a kid (this was around 1974 or 1975) I had a tiny pocket Philips transistor radio that my grandma gave me. It received every band you could think of and would often pick up radio programs from other continents. It lasted well into the 1980s before it got tossed out with a box of "junk" by my mother.

    • OA5599

      If you were receiving programs from other continents in the mid-70's, the radio probably tuned in shortwave bands. You can still get those today, sometimes for less than $30.

      Better yet, though, today you can stream audio to your smartphone from places too far away from you to be reached by a broadcast signal.

      • Number_Six

        I know…but it was the texture of the case and the longevity of the device that really captured my imagination.

  • The Professor

    Corded power tools. Damn near every power hand tool is cordless these days, with no option of buying a version with a cord. Cordless is handy, yes, but the batteries die and have to be replaced. You're doing a job and both of your batteries are dead from use, so you have to stop everything while they recharge. Makers of a great cordless tool go under, and suddenly the batteries cost 3 times what they used to, or you can't buy them at all. I do like most of the cordless tools, don't get me wrong, but it would be nice to be able to get one that you could just plug in and go when you don't want to f**k around with batteries.

    • OA5599

      Also, battery technology advances faster than drilling holes in things technology does. My first cordless drill probably still would work if I had a way to charge it, but when the charger took a dump, the replacement cost was nearly as much as the then-current model with more power and two fresh (and incompatible with the old drill) batteries. One of those batteries eventually wouldn't charge, and then the other one finally went, too. So my second cordless drill is also unusable. I was going to buy a new battery, but when I went to the store to shop for a new one, the power packs for my drill were no longer comaptible with any model they sold.

      I could have bought a replacement battery, but it was more expensive than a new consumer-grade drill with two fresh batteries. I bought the cheap one to finish the job I was doing, figuring I could give it to my kid later and buy something more heavy-duty when all the cordless tools go on sale around Christmas. That reminds me…

      • Alff

        It annoys me that it works this way but what are you gonna do? I buy myself a new cordless drill every second or third Black Friday for this reason.

      • The Professor

        I run into the same problem too, and it really pisses me off. It's a lousy reason for discarding a perfectly good tool, especially if it's one I really like.

    • FЯeeMan

      Um… Most quality power tools come in corded and cordless models. I've got a nice Dewalt 7.5" circular saw, and a 1/2" Craftsman drill with the dangly thing hanging out the back. I've also got two sets of Dewalt 18V cordless tools. I've been told that the new Li-On batteries they're selling will even fit and work in the older tools not specifically designed for them. Of course, replacement batteries are the same price as a decent corded tool. That's what in-laws and Christmas lists are for!

  • P161911

    As I have mentioned before, refrigerators. Between my parents, myself, my wife, and a couple of rental houses, we have probably had 10 refrigerators in the last 10 years. The only one that I sure hasn't had to be repaired in less than 5 years of use is the 1950s vintage International Harvester in my basement (that was in my grandmother's basement before that). It weighs about twice what a normal fridge does and probably uses 3 times the electricity, but I know it hasn't needed any repair in the almost 40 years that I have been around.

    I also mentioned earlier that I have been scrapping some window A/C units. The ones from 40 years or so ago probably weighed 3 times what the 15 year old one did.

    • discontinuuity

      It's probably because all the old ones used freon and iron-block piston compressors with iron cylinder rings, whereas the new ones use R-134A or something less likely to harm the environment, as well as wankel-type compressors with aluminum blocks and plastic seals. At least that's my guess; I don't know too much about refrigeration tech.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    <img src="http://telstarlogistics.typepad.com/.a/6a00d834543b6069e20120a81234c8970b-pi"&gt; 5MB IBM disk array being loaded from a PAA flight with a fork lift.

    • The Professor

      Ooooh! One of the new compact models!

  • The Professor

    That's an excellent idea. I could use about 4 different models right now.

  • They don't make rose colOred glasses like they used to …

    <img src="http://pics.blameitonthevoices.com/032009/small_chicken%20sunglasses.jpg"&gt;

  • PrawoJazdy

    You all probably expected this from me or maybe not.

    Roller coasters. Back in the golden age it was a lift hill and a motor driving a chain. They rarely went down for mechanical. A chain might break or get caught up and it was fixed quickly. The brakes were pneumatic calipers on a back up tank in case of power failure.

    Today, everything is magnets (LIMS) launches, hydraulic launches, lift cables and magnetic brakes. They go down mechanical every time and it can take weeks to get the parts in from Switzerland.

    In my day we went up the hill and back down and we liked it. Rides were longer then too. None of this straight line launch crap for a 30 second ride. Kids these days and their 120 mph launches.

    • skitter

      Counterpoint: Millennium Force.
      If you're willing to call that the pinnacle, I'm more inclined to agree with you.
      Even though the Dragster and the Wicked Twister are both awesome.

      • PrawoJazdy

        Millennium Force is one I'm talking about specifically. It was down for almost 2 straight weeks this year, 2 last year and almost didn't open in time for Coastermania in '09 after being down for a week.

        Intamin is just terrible at keeping their rides running consistently. Hell, they couldn't get a simple log flume running on time. B&M however, every opening has been on time and consistent. I would say Raptor has the best reputation for running in the park.

    • Number_Six

      I was gutted when I discovered the Great Canadian Minebuster had been replaced at Canada's Wonderland by some kind of shiny steel monstrosity.

      • PrawoJazdy

        What?! It was torn down? Man… I loved that ride.

        If it was torn down for Behemoth, that's not a bad thing. B&M roller coasters are the finest in the business. I have not been on it, but there are several copies around the continent that I have been on and they are fantastic. CW is getting Leviathan for 2012. I will be there opening day for Canada's first 300' coaster. I am excited.

  • jeepjeff

    You'd probably get better packaging and heat characteristics if you built them as switching power supplies instead of linear transformers. You can get 60-80W output at 20V in something the size of a cordless drill battery without too much trouble (think laptop external power bricks, the one for the laptop I'm typing this on is 1"x1.25"x5" and is rated for 3.25A at 20V, or 65W). It's entirely do-able, well-understood engineering at this point.

    EDIT: Also, it's a great idea. I just wonder what the market is like.

    • The Professor

      Your amperage number sounded low, so I just went and checked some of my cordless drills to see what they draw. And you're right on the money, a little high in fact. I'd like to see a switching transformer as a battery replacement, especially if the brick could be in the shape of the battery. That way you could retain the balance of the tool and not have another brick to trip over.

  • Houses.

    My house was built in 1941. Now it's 70 years old, and it's still just as solid as ever. Sure, it needs some work, and there are cracks in the plaster from settling. I've replaced the plumbing and wiring. But the overall structure is sound.

    My parent's house was built in 1971 as part of the SoCal housing boom. They couldn't build houses fast enough, and cut corners. If you slam the bedroom doors, the house shakes. You slam one of my doors and the house doesn't notice it. It's pretty amazing to realize this difference.

    • Alff

      Amen. The newest house I've owned was built in 1957. Not nearly as well built as the 1930's true stone cottage we had before that (framed with oak 2x4s that measured 2" by 4" and milled on site with native timber!) but waay better than the 15 to 20 year old subdivision homes most of our friends live in. The cedar shingle siding is as solid as the day it was installed. Only In the last two years have I had to replace half the windows and one tiny section of rotted trim – the rest of the 50+ year old Andersens are rock solid and may outlast me. Meanwhile, the open grain pine used in the windows, trim and siding of our friends' places have seen a ton of rework. I blame the selective breeding practices of the lumber industry that encourage rapid growth at the expense of nearly everything else.

      • The Professor

        I'll agree that there can be lots of great workmanship in some of the older houses. I've lived in many that were very well made back in their day. But older house have their own problems. Wiring is a problem in nearly all of them unless it has already been replaced (at a steep cost, naturally). The older houses aren't insulated nearly well enough, and have lots of drafts and heat leaks, and single pane windows. That all adds up to higher heating and cooling costs. Then there is the aging of the underpinnings and the foundation, which decay over time. And suppose you have a place with some lovely lathe and plaster walls, and one gets damaged. Can you find someone, somewhere, that still knows how to do lathe and plaster? And can you afford him? There are lots of gotchas in older homes.
        I'll grant you that modern homes aren't as solidly built as some older homes, but they do have their advantages too. And yes, the lack of craftmanship in modern construction drives me nuts.

        • Alff

          While all you say is true, it depends upon one's expectations. Our wiring was a mess, with generations of hamfisted DIYers adding to the problems. Since I planned to gut the place anyway, that became a minor consideration. As for windows, internal storm windows and insulated glass has now been available for nearly 60 years. If you're lucky, as we were, they are at least as good as what you can buy today.

          • The Professor

            If you don't mind the challenges and like doing your own work (and that you know what the hell you're doing, of course), owning an old home can be quite satisfying. At least, that's what the people I know that do that sort of thing say. Of course some of them also say that they know the hidden secrets of the stump fungus too. It's a big world.
            It sounds like you went into your house knowing what to expect and having plans to overhaul the problem areas. You should have a very nice place when you're done.

          • 98horn

            My last house was an all-stone 1920's home built in South Texas. Just as solid as a block of granite. Unfortunately, the sewer line from the house to the street was TERRA-COTTA. Found that one out the hard (smelly) way. PCB is a definite improvement.

    • texlenin

      Completely agree. I worked with my dad every summer
      from the time I was 7 till I was 19, hanging bloody f****n
      sheetrock. He worked for Fox & Jacobs for 21 years, and also
      did indy work.
      We spent one summer doing half the city of The Colony,Tx-
      rows of slabs with stub-outs poking up, trucks dropping off
      pre-fab everything. A crew of 23 Hispanics show up, and a
      house frame appears in a day(or less). Same thing with
      roofers, masons,etc. A house in about a week.
      I asked him how sturdy this all was, and after laughing, he
      started pointing out all the cheaps and corner-cutting. He
      also showed me how to do it right the next year, when we
      built a house for a friend of his.
      I don't think there's a house in The Colony that hasn't had
      some work done (or redone) at least once.
      Screw that noise- when I build my Compound,
      it'll be with rammed earth.

  • Deartháir

    My last house was built around 1905.

    It collapsed two years ago.

    • Perhaps it's time to start looking for another place to live.

      • skitter

        Maybe this year Ninja Santa will bring Deartháir a new home.

      • Alff

        Now, now. People who drive glass cars…

        • Legally the 'glass one is a motorcycle.

    • pj134

      You ever feel like our comments are all just elaborate setups so he always has an awesome one liner?

      I think he knocked your house down.

      • The Professor

        You're just now noticing? Next, he'll be after you to write something.

        • pj134

          I was saying Senõr Harrell is the one liner…er.

          Is he making people write stuff too?

          • The Professor

            Whoops, wrong comment thread. Those damned arrows are too hard to line up.
            Naw, Doc Harrell won't make you write anything unless you're in one of his classes.

    • The Professor

      Serves you right for living in such an old house. Old houses are supposed to fall down. They're old.

      • Alff

        Age is only part of the story. You seem to be chugging right along.

        • The Professor

          That's true. I'm not a house, either.

  • domino_vitali

    vinyl records. i'm a vinyl dj that frequently plays nostalgia tracks and new music alike. i think there's something magic in playing the same song, in the same way that people remember it, from a vinyl record that was produced, mixed, mastered, and pressed by people who know how good music should sound. not a CD encoded, improperly equalized, cheap-sound-card-processed abomination of a classic song.

    the quality of cars isn't what it used to be either. don't even get me started on that…

    • domino_vitali

      i should mention that vinyl records fall into the category of "they don't make 'em like they used to", except for the small number of people still pressing vinyl with love and care. Archer Pressing here in Detroit is one of them. there's still vinyl being pressed these days, but not anywhere near the scale of the motown, classic rock, or disco eras.

      • pj134

        The 180 gram ones pearl jam gets pressed are lovely.

      • PrawoJazdy

        +1 for Detroit being based.

    • domino_vitali

      i almost forgot to mention cover art and artist credits on vinyl records. album cover art was revolutionized by the 12" album format, and i never realized how much until the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh had a wonderful exhibit of thousands of album covers. who among us (of a certain age) haven't stared at beautiful cover art while enjoying the music of the album at the same time? new digital "albums" also lack the artist credits and other information that make the listening experience complete, in my opinion. of course, i usually listen to music with multiple artists. does new music have multiple artists on a song? or just some whore with no talent and overly processed vocals and lots of soulless computer-generated music?

      • The Professor

        Oh my, do I sense an axe needing to be ground?

        • domino_vitali

          sorry, the last bit of that comment was fueled by bitterness and good beer. i'll try to behave.

    • RahRahRecords

      In case my handle didn't give it away, I too love vinyl records. I've made it a point in the last few years to ONLY buy music on vinyl if I can. I love the fact that most of the music I like gets released on vinyl (sometimes only on vinyl). I think its awesome that the newest cutting lathe most new records are mastered on was made 30 odd years ago and the press the record was pressed on is about the same age. There are no new modernized machines in the vinyl pressing industry. The parts for the old machines aren't even made anymore. The people who have kept vinyl alive all this time are heroes. to me anyway.

    • tonyola

      I've been a pro musician and composer for a long time and spent ungodly amounts of money on vinyl in the '70s and '80s. I don't have any more vinyl and I don't miss it one damn bit. No more surface noise from poor pressings, no more fragility, no more compression due to the limitations of the media. As for the analog vs. digital sound argument, I'll only say that people hear what they want to hear. I love having a huge dream music collection (1,800+ albums worth) entirely in portable digital form with three complete 100% bit-accurate backups. I relish being able to take my collection with me wherever I go on a small USB drive and not having to worry about losing a single song. If something happens to the drive, I have backups elsewhere. I love being able to plug that collection in any number of playback devices. I enjoy being able to set up any playlist I want with unlimited random access. As for cover art, you can probably download it from the web these days.

      Back to vinyl? For me, not a snowball's chance in hell. Rule digitalia!

      • But… but generations of geology instructors have likened mineral striations to the grooves on a record:

        <img src="http://facweb.bhc.edu/academics/science/harwoodr/geol101/Labs/Minerals/Images/min06b.jpg&quot; width="300">

        Even these days most of the students still know what we're talking about. For now.

        • The Professor

          I'm tempted to make a horrible pun about "The True Rock Sound", but I won't. Alff should be along shortly though…

          • My sediments exactly…

          • texlenin

            It's a Heavy Sound

      • The Professor

        I'm with you, I don't miss vinyl at all. Audiophiles spout lots of nonsense about hearing this and that, but I've never been able to hear what they're talking about, even on their super high-end audio systems. And this was back when I could still hear things softer than an explosion.

      • texlenin

        Didja hear that the Japanese are making the laser
        turntable again? Now you could have the best of
        both worlds….

        • tonyola

          I don't see how vinyl can be called the best of even one world.

          • texlenin

            I concede. I like the convenience of DDD, and realize
            that is the way the world is turning, but I'm an anachronism.
            You worked with it, I just rack it
            Rule Digitalia!

      • navelboxaren

        I will take digital more seriously once truly high quality downloads are commonly available, there is no reason for downloads to be stuck with CD-quality 16bit/44.1kHz. Most of digital downloads are not even that, why should i pay nearly the same for a 320kbits MP3 as i do for a CD? The digital copy costs nothing to manufacture, package or distribute.

        That being said i can listen to anyhting that does not have clearly audible compression artifacts, i have nothing against just plugging my Grados to my phone and searching youtube for a decent quality song if nothing else is available.

        • tonyola

          I can't really tell any difference between mp3s that are encoded at 192+ kbit and a standard CD. Plus I'm still largely passing up the inherent noise in vinyl.

          • navelboxaren

            Compressed music generally sounds flatter to me, not on computer speakers but with my Grado SR325i headphones for example. Obviously there's a lot of ways to compress music, and for listening on a mobile device or in the car it's fine.

          • tonyola

            If you've convinced yourself that compressed music is "flatter", whatever that is, then that's what you hear and I couldn't tell you otherwise. Listening is extremely subjective.

          • navelboxaren

            I mean lower dynamic range. When compressing to a lossy format some information must disappear, how much and if and how that is noticeable differs a lot. I still do most of my listening from CDs i ripped to my pc and it is indeed more practical than vinyls. It would be even more practical if i could download DRM-free 96/24 albums complete with covers from the web.

            I have no facts with which i could prove that a vinyl record is somehow better than a properly mastered digital recording, i also prefer brunettes and redheads to blondes but i have no fact to base that opinion on either 😉

    • navelboxaren

      I prefer vinyl records simply because of their feel, the artwork, the "ritual" of cleaning and set-up. Just seeing the record go around. It just feels more natural. Also i can't skip over a song with a remote so i tend to listen to the whole album. I actually listen to the album insted of just hearing it, if that makes sense.

      As for sound quality, i can't say it's better than a properly mastered CD(or SACD) but i just prefer the sound of vinyls. That might be a moot point now with many new vinyls that use the CD as a master, with no dynamic range to speak of. That's not a problem with the medium, it's jut as big of a problem on vinyls as it is on your iTunes downloads. Short story about the loudness war below.
      http://media.npr.org/assets/music/news/2009/12/po

      • tonyola

        Though I listen entirely to digital media, I still tend to listen to entire albums.

        • navelboxaren

          This makes me feel old but i like to sit down in my recliner in a dark room with my eyes closed, having a glass of Talisker or a bottle of some red wine and put a record on. The only thing missing is a pipe to smoke 😉

          I have nothing against digital music per se, i have about 400 CDs and i am currently ripping them to WAV(backup) and Apple lossless files to listen to on my HTPC. I would skip the Apple lossless but iTunes does not support FLAC, and i've yet to find a program that works better for me. Used Foobar2000 for years and still do occasionally, but iTunes is smoother and looks better with album covers.

          This video is not about any particular medium or compression, but still worth a watch. This is the reason i buy the original CDs instead of the "Digitally Re-Mastered" newer releses.

          [youtube TqQX3htzhSY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqQX3htzhSY youtube]

  • tiberiusẅisë

    Rock stars.

    <img src="http://www.sleazeroxx.com/rip/bonscott2.jpg&quot; width="400">

    • pj134

      Chad Kroeger doesn't do it for you?

      Seriously though, Scott Weiland is one of, if not the best frontman ever.

      • tiberiusẅisë

        While I'm firmly in the "Ignore" camp when it comes to Nickelback, no. No he doesn't.

        Scott Weiland, while awesome, has been around since 1986 so he is clearly from the since broken mold. If he would only have common decency to die choking on his own vomit…

        • pj134

          That is a valid point. I can't think of a single decent front man from the 2000's. Although, System of a Down didn't really hit until the early 2000's.

          Eh… music largely sucked during my teens.

          At least I picked up my tool tickets this morning.

  • The Professor

    You talk to rocks long enough, and you'll develop strange habits too.

    • My favorites include botryoidal, metamict, and oolitic.

      http://webmineral.com/help/Habits.shtml

      I'm not so sure about their description of "unknown" though.

      • The Professor

        I'd never heard of crystalline mineral becoming amorphous due to radiation. I guess if you blasted it with hard enough radiation that it would knock it apart. Never really thought about it much.
        Yes, they are rather vague about "unknown", aren't they?

        • Happens all the time with zircon. It's also one of the mechanisms responsible for smoky quartz.

          • The Professor

            I'll be damned. Well, it's good to learn new things, usually. Sometimes it hurts a lot.

  • PrawoJazdy

    Steel Force at Dorney. That is an Arrow. I did an obit on here for Ron Toomer the guy that designed that ride. It's a similar version of his legacy, Magnum at Cedar Point. Arrow made quality rides, although Magnums 3rd hill had to be re-profiled because it was beating on the trains.

    Intamin made Kingda Ka. One of 2 rides that were mistakes and will probably never be built again. Top Thrill Dragster is the other. Dragster had never been tested properly before being built and as a result, it's first two years were plagued with problems. Another Intamin disaster.

    Their rides are overly complicated and as a result, fixing them can involve hours of programming and checking brake cables. There are so many brakes that when they stop raising and lowering properly, checking them is like looking for that burnt out bulb on a strand of 100 x-mas lights.

    • pj134

      I'm not specifically into roller coasters, but after some research, the one I have enjoyed the most, El Toro, was intamin. I'm not trying to say anything specifically, just that they can do it right sometimes in my eyes.

      • PrawoJazdy

        Oh they certainly can, as much as Millennium Force is down, it's still in my top 5 favorite, actually a few Intamin's make my list. It's just that they are down so damn much, it makes you wonder why Cedar Point stuck with them for 6 rides.

        El Toro is really great. It's secret is that it's a pre-fabricated wooden coaster, and the pre-fabricated rides are always smooth and awesome.

        So you're near Dorney or closer to Jersey? Next time I'm out there, we should meet up for some rides. Mrs. Jazdy and I do plan on coming out there this year.

        • pj134

          I'm in the middle of bucks county, pa, so about 30 minutes south of dorney, an hour or so west of six flags and a couple hours east of Hershey. Really, I'm in a good spot if I wanted to get into roller coasters, I think.

          • PrawoJazdy

            I'd agree with that statement. The only other place to live that would be similar is the center of Ohio. You'd be about 3 hours from several parks.

  • The Professor

    Yeah, they're pretty good, I'm just too cheap to buy them. I've found that I can get away with using a softer pad with stearated sandpaper, and using an inertia sander for the finer grits. For the stuff we do, there's lots of ways to skin a cat, so to speak.

  • <img src="http://i.imgur.com/ZiTZO.jpg&quot; alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" />

    • RahRahRecords

      HAHAHAHA! awesome.

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