Sarah Palin is the only woman who can make Tony Romo WIN a playoff.

calendar   Saturday - May 23, 2020

Ingenious But Morbid

“Pandemically Perfect”

Cardboard Box Company In Columbia Designs Fold Out Instant Hospital Bed

Fold It The Other Way And It Becomes A Coffin


Worried his country’s health system might at some point be over-taxed, Rodolfo Gomez, whose company ABC Displays usually produces marketing material, designed the cardboard bed-coffins.

“We saw what was happening in Ecuador, that people were taking dead family members out onto the streets...what’s happening also is that funeral services are collapsing with the pandemic,” said Gomez, 44. “So we started to develop a bed that could be converted into a coffin.”

The beds have metal railings, wheels with brakes and can be inclined up and down. They can support up to 150 kg. (330 lbs.). He said the biodegradable bed-coffins cost between $92 and $132.

Gomez hopes their low cost will mean local and provincial governments can outfit rural or under-funded hospitals cheaply. Converting them to coffins if a patient dies will also reduce possible contamination, he said.

Company manager Rodolfo Gómez said he was inspired to find a way to help after watching events unfold recently in nearby Ecuador.

Families in the coastal city of Guayaquil waited with dead loved ones in their homes for days last month as COVID-19 cases surged. Many could not find or were unable to afford a wood coffin, using donated cardboard ones instead.

“Poor families don’t have a way of paying for a coffin,” Gómez said.
At least one doctor was skeptical of how sturdy a cardboard bed might be. He also warned that any corpses should first be placed in a sealed bag before being put in a cardboard coffin to avoid potentially spreading the disease.

The plastic bag might be Ok for a funeral viewing, but after that ... cardboard burns quite well. Cremation is probably the best solution here.

The metal handles are probably the most expensive part of this creation. They work as bed rails, and also as coffin handles. Taking a really harsh and low-cost view, they could probably be cleaned and reused on the next bed-box.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/23/2020 at 08:56 AM   
Filed Under: • InternationalMedicalNeat Inventionspandemic and epidemic diseases •  
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calendar   Friday - February 06, 2015

The Flying Robo-Jeep

AirMule Gets Closer To Approval

70 years ago, the idea of a little flying vehicle that could get in and out of the most inhospitable areas was just science fiction. 60 years ago the “flying jeep” idea was tried, but ... ahem ... never got off the ground. Until about a decade ago, when the IDF realized it needed some kind of go-anywhere helicopter vehicle about the size of a pickup truck. Much R&D later, coupled with the latest advances in drones, and ta-da. Awesome. The future is now.


It’s a helicopter that mated with a hovercraft. It’s a swing wing ducted rotor lifting body aircraft with no wings and all the rotors inside. It’s an ambulance drone. It’s a small package delivery system that can drop off 1000lb of gear at a go. It hovers. It flies at 70mph 3 miles up in the sky. It’s for real. And a good chunk of it is already FAA approved.

Flying tactical robots also are taking off in new directions. Urban Aeronautics, an Israeli company, is developing a compact, unmanned single-engine vertical take-off and landing aircraft with internal rotors called the AirMule. The features mean it can fly into obstructed areas, such as jungles or urban environments, and land on steep hillsides without concerns about rotor obstruction. As military operations move away from open-desert battlefields to more congested locations, maneuverability will become increasingly important.

AirMule can evacuate two casualties or reconfigure for other payloads. The vehicle can carry loads of 1,000 pounds or more, making it unique in its field. “There’s nothing that’s the size of a Humvee and can take off vertically with a 1,000-pound load,” said Rafi Yoeli, president and chief executive officer of Urban Aeronautics.

Making these capabilities a practical reality has been a long road. Research on the concept began about 12 years ago. In December 2013, the first fully autonomous flight took place, and a full-fledged mission demonstration is slated for some time next year.


The AirMule ... is an unmanned flying car UAS designed by Rafi Yoeli and build by Tactical Robotics LTD., a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics LTD. in Yavne, Israel. It will be used in search and rescue operations where it would be too dangerous or inaccessible for a helicopter, such as evacuating people from the upper stories of burning buildings, or delivering and extracting police and soldiers while very close to structures, narrow streets, and or through holes into confined spaces.
After the 2006 Lebanon War, the IDF realized that it needed a special vehicle that could fly unmanned behind enemy lines in order to rescue its wounded. While the helicopter is the best evacuation vehicle, it requires an area clear of trees or electricity columns in order to land without obstructing the rotor. Chances of it safely leaving a fire-heavy zone are small as it attracts all sorts of weapons fire. The advantages of a ducted fan propelled unmanned air vehicle are that it could offer the same capabilities as helicopters, but without the serious operating limitations. It could navigate in and out of creeks, city streets, next to big buildings, compact alleyways and refugee camp warrens, while the shielded rotor blades make the “Air Mule” tougher than a regular helicopter. Being unmanned, the “Air Mule” could enter situations too risky for regular helicopters. It could deliver supplies or cargo, evacuate up to two casualties from the battlefield and transferring them to a field deployed hospital for medical treatment. Some missions may require to be conducted up to hundreds of kilometers from forward operating bases (FOB) and medical care facilities with the only medical support available on scene being unit medics or fellow soldiers. The war reports have shown that moving an individual only a few hundred yards can take an hour or more.

As of 2012 and into 2014, according to NATO STO TR-HFM-184 report, the “Air Mule” remains the only available design that meets NATO and IDF requirement for an unmanned MEDEVAC and CASEVAC vehicle.

Urban Aeronautics Ltd. has patented its design as Fancraft. The Fancraft technologies are supported by 37 registered (granted) patents and 12 additional are in the process.


The AirMule is a compact, unmanned, single engine, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft capable of evacuating two casualties or lifting significant payloads into urban or mountainous terrain. It is part of a new family of internal rotor (ducted fan) aircraft known as Fancraft™.

Urban Aeronautics is the world leader in the design of VTOL utility aircraft. These aircraft are capable of operating safely in a vast, new and significant range of missions in confined areas. This is possible via the exclusive reliance on internally mounted lift rotors.

Urban Aeronautics has taken the lead in the development of the AirMule. Flying autonomously or controlled remotely without on-board crew, the AirMule can carry a useful load of 500 kilograms and fly under the radar to land within a minimal space of 40m2 without a runway. It is designed to meet stringent US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manned helicopter safety standards, fulfilling all airworthiness requirements for future implementation as a safe transporter of casualties from the disaster area.

Dr. Rafi Yoeli, president and chief executive officer of Urban Aeronautics, said: “Responsiveness, reliability and, above all, safety are the key requirements we have when selecting tools and components for our UAS craft. Green Hills Software has a proven track record of providing operating systems, middleware and development tools that meet these standards and so we had no hesitation in working with them.”


What’s more, the thing isn’t even very loud. Ducting the prop blades and keeping the fans internal and behind guidance vanes keeps the noise down to the 87dB range. All that fanwork also results in a minimized heat signature. The AirMule is naturally stealthy as a side effect. Plus it’s small, and made from carbon fiber, for an even lesser radar signature. Nifty. Stick a cockpit on them and they might make a great personal urban vehicle. Aside from the $2.5 million price tag.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/06/2015 at 11:09 AM   
Filed Under: • High TechIsraelNeat Inventionsplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Friday - May 17, 2013

An invention that does work

The Welch’s Easy Squeeze bottle cap.

I’m not sure when it hit the market, but here is a new picture I just took. It’s from a jam jar we’ve had around here for several months.


Welch’s has these tops on their plastic squeeze bottles of “Natural” “spread”. Not quite as chunky as preserves, more fruit filled than jam or jelly. You don’t need a knife to dig the stuff out and spread it around. Upend the bottle and give it a gentle squeeze, and the perfect amount of product is dispensed. 3 passes covers a slice of bread, and you’re halfway to making a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Enough spread for great taste, but not so much that it drips out the sides. And perfectly even distribution. The cap stays pretty clean, not getting loaded up with dried up jam too quickly.

Neat idea. I’m at least partially confident that I’m the first blogger to focus on the cap, although others have favorably reviewed the product before.

So I’m marking my calendar to see how long it takes the UK Mail Online to steal my post.

Just a little tongue in cheek reminder that the Great Professional Media has become a lot like the blogosphere that has become a lot like it. Bloggers borrow from each other left and right, but the nicer ones always link back. It’s not called the Samizdat Network for nothing. But it’s that kind of borrowing that has the Old Media types all uppity. Those copy cat bloggers in pajamas! Yet obviously, they do it too.

For purposes of full disclosure, I am currently fully dressed and sitting at the computer in my own library. I’m not sure if I even own a pair of pajamas any more, and blogging from my mother’s basement would be a cold and damp affair. Plus spiders. Ewwww!!!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/17/2013 at 11:32 AM   
Filed Under: • Media-BiasNeat Inventions •  
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calendar   Tuesday - December 04, 2012

Stove Lust

Oh hell yeah, I wants me one of these!


Looks like some kind of cast iron dual turbo V8 Wankel engine ... but it’s a wood stove. Dem crazy Canadians, eh, what will dey tink of next?

This modern Canadian wood burning stove is as innovative as it is beautiful. The best part of this indoor combustion chamber is the piping system. During operation, the air heats up very rapidly. Obeying the laws of physics, this hot air rises and flows out of the pipes on the top. Cold air is drawn in from the bottom, is heated up as well and follows this continuous cycle. As a result of this constant circulation, the warm air is distributed quickly and evenly throughout the room.

Bullerjan hot air furnaces have been around for about 30 years now with a loyal following in North America and mainland Europe.

They were first devised by Canadian Lumberjacks in the snowy Rocky Mountains for heating the log cabin quickly. They wanted the warmth to be evenly distributed.


The stove is available in any number of sizes, from 4 pipes to at least 12. They also make it wrapped in soap stone, which will radiate heat for hours and hours after the fire has burned down.

The only problem is, this “Canadian” stove “designed by lumberjacks” isn’t available for sale in either Canada or the USA. It’s made in Germany, and that’s where it’s sold. A bit of marketing hyper perhaps? Or just not being bothered to go through the endless EPA red tape to get a product approved for import? Who knows? I don’t know whether it runs on logs or on pellets either. All I can say is it looks awesome.

Too bad they didn’t put in the part that any REAL lumberjacks would have welding on first thing - a flat iron plate across the top to use as a stove or as a warming plate. Where to put the big enamel coffee pot, eh Pierre?


Latest designer version uses flat pipes that also form the walls of the combustion chamber. Better heat transfer probably, and less of a NASCAR look, but probably won’t last as long.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/04/2012 at 04:53 PM   
Filed Under: • Neat Inventions •  
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calendar   Saturday - December 17, 2011

Up In The Air, Junior Birdmen

Today is the 107th Anniversary of Powered Flight

Q: If it takes 2 wrongs to make a right, what does it take 2 rights to make?
A: An airplane.


Orville making history

On December 14, 1903, they felt ready for their first attempt at powered flight. With the help of men from the nearby government life-saving station, the Wrights moved the Flyer and its launching rail to the incline of a nearby sand dune, Big Kill Devil Hill, intending to make a gravity-assisted takeoff. The brothers tossed a coin to decide who would get the first chance at piloting and Wilbur won. The airplane left the rail, but Wilbur pulled up too sharply, stalled, and came down in about three seconds with minor damage.

Repairs after the abortive first flight took three days. When they were ready again on December 17, the wind was averaging more than 20 mph, so the brothers laid the launching rail on level ground, pointed into the wind, near their camp. This time the wind, instead of an inclined launch, helped provide the necessary airspeed for takeoff. Because Wilbur already had the first chance, Orville took his turn at the controls. His first flight lasted 12 seconds for a total distance of 120 ft (36.5 m) – shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 707, as noted by observers in the 2003 commemoration of the first flight.[3]

Taking turns, the Wrights made four brief, low-altitude flights that day. The flight paths were all essentially straight; turns were not attempted. [ which just goes to show that two Wrights can’t make a left ] Each flight ended in a bumpy and unintended “landing”. The last flight, by Wilbur, was 852 feet (260 m) in 59 seconds, much longer than each of the three previous flights of 120, 175 and 200 feet. The landing broke the front elevator supports, which the Wrights hoped to repair for a possible four-mile (6 km) flight to Kitty Hawk village. Soon after, a heavy gust picked up the Flyer and tumbled it end over end, damaging it beyond any hope of quick repair. It was never flown again.

Pity that today’s anniversary isn’t also the anniversary of the government’s recognition of that triumph. That took until 1942, because of some favoritism in the old Old Boys Network ...

The Smithsonian Institution, and primarily its then-secretary Charles Walcott, refused to give credit to the Wright Brothers for the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft. Instead, they honored the former Smithsonian Secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley, whose 1903 tests of his own Aerodrome on the Potomac were not successful. Walcott was a friend of Langley and wanted to see Langley’s place in aviation history restored. In 1914, Glenn Curtiss flew a heavily modified Aerodrome from Keuka Lake, N.Y., providing the Smithsonian a basis for its claim that the aircraft was the first powered, heavier than air flying machine “capable” of manned flight. Due to the legal patent battles then taking place, recognition of the ‘first’ aircraft became a political as well as an academic issue.

In 1925, Orville attempted to persuade the Smithsonian to recognize his and Wilbur’s accomplishment by offering to send the Flyer to the Science Museum in London. This action did not have its intended effect, and the Flyer went on display in the London museum in 1928. During World War II, it was moved to an underground vault 100 miles (160 km) from London where Britain’s other treasures were kept safe from the conflict.

In 1942 the Smithsonian Institution, under a new secretary, Charles Abbot (Walcott had died in 1927), published a list of the Curtiss modifications to the Aerodrome and a retraction of its long-held claims for the craft. The next year, Orville, after exchanging several letters with Abbott, agreed to return the Flyer to the United States.

The Wright brothers hailed from Dayton Ohio, so my guess is that Christopher is at the parade today. Dayton does have an annual Wright brothers parade, don’t they Chris?


Please note that the Wrights were the first to actually fly a manned, self-propelled, sustained, heavier than air vehicle that they could (at least in theory) control. Other folks had been gadding about in other vehicles that managed short hops, bounces, or fairly long glides for about 78 years before them, in various things with wings on that didn’t meet the full definition; “powered flight” had been around since 1783, with the Montgolfier brothers and there hot air balloons. 1783 was also a great year for brandy, right Brenda?

Oh, and of course jizzlam claims credit 1100 years earlier, because back in the year 800 or something some loonie muzzie got tarred and feathered, then leaped off a tall building, managing a sustained but uncontrolled flight. Straight down.

Here’s a neat video of a modern copy of the Wright Flyer showing that it can still get the job done:

It was not until 1908 that Louis Blériot figured out that the control surfaces really belonged on the back end of an airplane. The Wrights and several others of the early era (Curtis etc) put the elevators in front.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/17/2011 at 04:30 PM   
Filed Under: • HeroesHistoryNeat Inventionsplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Tuesday - October 18, 2011

Unpaid Product Endorsement

Oh happy day, the mailman delivered our stuff. My wife bought a Kindle, one of the cheaper models, and she’s been antsy for a week waiting for it to be delivered, checking it’s progress several times online. It’s here, so I’d better get busy and reactivate the wireless router before she gets home.

I’ve written before about the Keurig coffee machine we picked up for free. It’s very convenient, but the little coffee pills it uses - called K-cups - can only be considered inexpensive if you usually buy your coffee at Starbuck’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. Lucky for us that her sister works for an office supply company, so we’ve been able to get the K-cups in bulk at a better price than you’ll find at Staples or Walmart. But they still aren’t close to cheap, so shortly after I revived the “broken” Keurig machine she bought one of those My K-Cup devices. This lets you put your own coffee in a washable holder, and gets the price down to pennies a cup where it ought to be. The $15 they charge you for a couple little bits of plastic and some steel mesh quickly pay for themselves, and you’re in the black in less than a month. The problem with the device is that it can’t brew a large strong cup of coffee. Maybe that’s my problem, because most folks don’t drink coffee strong enough to be NASA grade rocket fuel. I do. Ever since we took a trip to St. Kitts more than a decade ago, I’ve been hooked on the Caribe brand coffee. It’s a Caribbean style espresso, which means it’s damn strong regular coffee but pretty weak and lightly roasted as far as real espresso is concerned. It’s also the cheapest coffee available in the stores, which pleases my inner Scotsman.

The Keurig machine that came to us is one of the deluxe models, and it produces 3 cup sizes of coffee. Too small, small, and one standard mugful. While the “extra bold” real k-cups can produce a robust “small” cup (the Newman’s brand tastes the best), none of them can produce a rich mug’s worth. Nor can the My K-cup, no matter how much Caribe I pack into it. I looked into getting a French Press coffee pot, but while those things will make the most flavorful cup of Joe, they’re kind of a mess to use and the glass ones are very fragile. And they require you to buy your coffee as whole beans and grind your own. I’m not a coffee snob, nor a coffee junkie, so that’s too much effort for me. Just give me a way to make my morning cups nice and strong. Better yet, give me a method that’s repeatable and reliable that I can handle before the brain cells start firing.

A bit more online research showed me another DIY k-cup replacement gizmo called the Solofill. $15 online plus $5 shipping, or buy 2 and the shipping is free. Or visit your local Bed Bath and Beyond and get them for $12.99 plus tax. I ordered a pair online, and they came today. Open the box, give the thing a quick wash and a rinse, load it up and let it brew. Unlike the My K-cup, the Solofill fits in the regular K-cup holder on the machine. Filled up with Caribe it takes nearly twice as long to brew a mug as a commercial k-cup does, and the output flow tends to be a little bit splashy. So just lift your cup up and hold it close until the brew is half done. After that it flowed smoothly.

It took just one mug to convince me that the Solofill is a superior product. I filled it up to the Max line, dropped it in the machine and pressed the “giant travel mug” button. And it gave me a 12oz mug full of really strong coffee. Strong enough so that I’m almost buzzing here at 4:30 in the afternoon. It uses less coffee than a My K-cup and the coffee comes out far stronger. What’s not to love? Oh, and the pissy part (which may have been caused by either the thing being brand new or by my filling it to the brim with espresso) can be easily cured, because the Solofill gizmo fits neatly into the My K-cup holder (don’t use the lid) and gives things enough room so that the output flows nice and smooth. I am a happy camper. A happy speeding camper.


The Solofill in red, and the parts of the My K-cup device


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/18/2011 at 02:54 PM   
Filed Under: • Daily LifeNeat Inventions •  
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calendar   Sunday - October 09, 2011

Steve Jobs, R.I.P.

I’m sure most of you are aware that Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away October 5th. He was 56. Scary. I’m 51. All of my computers, except the first one, have been Macs. I also now have an iPad, and several flavors of iPods floating around. (no, don’t have an iPhone.) Mr. Jobs, and all of the people at Apple, make great products. And I buy them, voluntarily, because they are great products. No need for the government to dictate what computer I should own. (Oh yes, my first computer was a Commodore 64. I couldn’t afford an Apple 2e. That Commodore lasted me over a decade.)

Here is Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. I found it interesting in that he attributes part of the success of the Mac to the fact that he dropped out of college. Sort of. Let him tell the story.


Posted by Christopher   United States  on 10/09/2011 at 06:23 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and CyberspaceHigh TechNeat Inventions •  
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calendar   Tuesday - December 28, 2010

unveiled, a 1-000-core-chip- will-make-desktop-machines-20-times-faster

Some headlines from the papers today and this one should interest the more tech savvy among you. Although all of us will always welcome faster PCs, isn’t there more to it?  Your ISP for example. I read that some are faster then others. 
What I can’t figure out at the moment is, if you have say EARTHLINK (ELNK) but AT&T owns the line being used, what might make ELNK any faster then AT&T?
And if there’s something they are using to make them faster, then why wouldn’t the ISP who owns the line have the same technology?
But the biggest wow thing I’m trying to understand is ... 1,000 cores?  OK, in less then a thousand words, what’s a core when we’re speaking of computers?
Can’t mean the same as the word implies, does it? But a thousand of em?  See?  I’m always awed by stuff I hardly understand.  Some ppl understand things instinctively, while the rest of us mortals must plod and scratch our heads and try harder. And feel not too bright. Sort of like a flickering light or maybe no light at all.

Scientists unveil chip which could make desktop computers 20 times faster

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:01 AM on 28th December 2010


Scientists have created an ultra-fast computer chip which is 20 times faster than current desktop computers.

Modern PCs have a processor with two, four or sometimes 16 cores to carry out tasks.

But the central processing unit (CPU) developed by the researchers effectively had 1,000 cores on a single chip.

The developments could usher in a new age of high-speed computing in the next few years for home users frustrated with slow-running systems.

The chip was able to process around five gigabytes of data per second in testing - making it approximately 20 times faster than modern computers.

The team was led by Dr Wim Vanderbauwhede, of the University of Glasgow, and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

The research scientists were able to make the processor faster by giving each core a certain amount of dedicated memory.

Dr Vanderbauwhede said: ‘This is very early proof-of-concept work where we’re trying to demonstrate a convenient way to program FPGAs so that their potential to provide very fast processing power could be used much more widely in future computing and electronics.

‘While many existing technologies currently make use of FPGAs, including plasma and LCD televisions and computer network routers, their use in standard desk-top computers is limited.


I wasn’t going to post as much of that story above as I did, but as Drew can tell ya, I tend to get quite wrapped up in things I’m not intended by nature to get wound up in. Thing is, I really love that stuff. It’s kind of like being in love with an unfaithful mistress.  Not that I have any experience with that either.

The other headline I thought I’d bring to our attention is:

The Big Thaw begins: Relief for Britons as Arctic air is replaced by balmy 12C breezes… but you’ve not seen the last of the snow

· December set to be coldest ever - a degree colder than previous record

· Fears ‘quick melt’ could lead to flooding in parts of the country

Not too bad today altho very misty and gray.  And cold. No, not a bad day at all when I think of humid summers and no air cond.


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/28/2010 at 06:48 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesNeat InventionsUKUSA •  
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calendar   Thursday - November 05, 2009

It really does exist!

Bun-Vac 6000 based on actual machine

This post may be almost meaningless to those who aren’t Wallace & Gromit fans. Wallace and his dog Gromit star in a series of adorable and funny claymation films. Wallace is this wacky inventor (and cheese lover) who builds devices that always go wrong, and Gromit is his wise and cynical dog who winds up saving the day, often at great peril to himself. Alas, W&G have gone the way of CGI. Their home studio, Aardman Animations, burned down a while back, and I think I’ve heard they were bought out, or at least majorly funded, by one of the big digital animation studios like Pixar. If you’ve never seen one of their films you’re missing out. They’re not just for kids. W&G creator Nick Park also did the Serta mattress commercials with the numbered sheep.

Anyway ... Wallace invented a giant vacuum cleaner called the Bun-Vac 6000 for sucking rabbits out of their holes and into a holding area for later remote release. It was the funniest thing. I laughed so hard watching Curse of the Were-Rabbit, especially the panicked bunnies frantically holding on to their holes as they were being sucked up.

image image

But who knew this device was not only for real, but has been in operation for almost two decades? Ok, the real one doesn’t suck up rabbits. Not yet. It sucks up prairie dogs. By the hundreds. And is making the inventors/operators Dave Honaker and Gay Balfour a tidy pile of cash. Prairie dogs are quite a nuisance out West, and their towns can have thousands of the little rodents. But for $150/hr Dog-Gone Prairie Dog Control of Cortez CO can get rid of hundreds of the pests in a day, without any worries about any stray bullets flying around from the traditional hunting solution.

DENVER—Like a doctor feeling for a pulse, Dave Honaker lays his hands on the wide, plastic hose. It begins to vibrate as pebbles and dirt rush through. It shudders a bit, then is still.

Honaker smiles. The furry body of a prairie dog, still in its subterranean hole, is plugging the end of the hose. It’s only a matter of time now.

“You can feel when he’s fighting back,” Honaker yells over the roar of the powerful suction. “He’s got a good hold, and then he loses it.” Just then, the hose jolts, and with a rumbling whoosh, the rodent shoots up the hose. “One!” Honaker mouths, his eyes gleaming with excitement. A moment later, another whoosh. “Two!” “It’s like playing the violin,” Honaker says modestly. “After five years, you get a little better.” Honaker is a master of the latest in rodent-control technology—the prairie dog vacuum.

Aptly named Dog-Gone, it was invented by Honaker’s partner, Gay Balfour, who literally dreamed up this Rube Goldberg-like contraption. It came to him one night five years ago in his Cortez, Colo., home. Balfour first needed a truck. On the way home, he stopped by his local sewer district office and was astonished to learn a truck used for cleaning out sewer lines and manholes was for sale. It was yellow. Next, he went to the industrial supply store and there, hanging on the wall, were four-inch hoses. They were green. “I don’t know what you believe in,” Balfour said, “but I believe it’s supposed to happen that way.”

He modified the truck, attached the hose and, within three days, was back at the Indian reservation sucking up prairie dogs. At 300 mph, the critters hurtled through a four-inch plastic hose. Like cannonballs, they shot out the end into a big tank on the back of the truck, first slamming into a wall of thick foam rubber, then toppling onto a foam and dirt-covered floor. It all made for a wild ride for the squirrel-like rodents. And, for the most part, they fared well—a little dazed and confused at first, but scampering around almost immediately. In the first 45 minutes, Balfour caught 23 prairie dogs. The tribe was so impressed, it gave him a $6,000 contract. He caught 1,000 prairie dogs. Balfour was in business. Since then, he and Honaker have been traveling to prairie dog towns across the Southwest. Balfour drives the yellow truck, and Honaker tows an old trailer they live in at job sites. Depending on the job, they either relocate, exterminate or sell the prairie dogs for pets or meat.

“We kind of like these guys ... We’re animal lovers,” Dave explains.

It’s a matter of responsible ecology, Gay says.

On a good day, Dave and Gay can suck hundreds of the 3-pound rodents out of their burrows.

Gay and Dave try to find private landowners willing to give the dogs new homes in places far from cities or ranches. Many are sold as food for endangered eagles, hawks and ferrets.

The truck stays busy spring and summer, but can only capture a few thousand prairie dogs in a given year. Countless other dogs are still in the way of ranchers, farmers and developers, and suffice to say, they don’t all get a free ride on a yellow truck out of prairie dog town.


I guess they really are pesky little suckers after all!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/05/2009 at 12:54 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffNeat Inventions •  
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calendar   Monday - July 13, 2009

Pushing the Limits

Shoe blogging.

It’s what I almost never do. Ever.

But I will write about good engineering. About how form following function sometimes allows for beautiful and simple design; the art of purity. This is not one of those times.

These shoes do not qualify as art in any way, shape, or form. They are remarkably ugly ... and they are just as remarkably effective. This is technology pushed to the edge, where the complex becomes simple because all the rules and the preconceived notions have been done away with. A futuristic design that could have been created 5000 years ago.

However, The Manolo, the ultimate and original shoe blogger, lover of form over function sometimes to the point of unwearability, would never label these things Super Fantastic. He would need a new phrase that was as antithetical to that concept as possible. Ultra Hideux!

“Uglier than a bucket of vomit”

And yet these may be the best running shoes ever made. They weigh almost nothing. They are more toe gloves than shoes. Foot condoms. They let you run as if you were barefoot, which is best for your body. Yet they give you better traction than barefoot, and protect you against rough ground, gravel, and little sharp things in the street.

Vibram FiveFingers are little more than flexible plastic soles with just enough cloth to hold them snugly on your feet. They have little individual pockets for each toe, making the FiveFingers into a sort of foot glove. The resulting footwear feel less like shoes and more like tougher, more invulnerable versions of your feet.

Traction is incredibly good, due to the grippy material, the separation of the toes, and the addition of siping, or tiny zigzag cuts etched into the soles that expand into little treads as the sole flexes.

The VFFs are also surprisingly comfortable. Each toe is snuggled inside its own little pocket, which is not only cozy, it also gives your feet a surprising amount of feedback about the ground you’re standing on. Your toes, freed from their typical leather prisons, act like a tiny topography sensor array.

Running in FiveFingers is much like running barefoot, except without the mincing “Ow-ow-ow!” moments as you hit a patch of gravel or sun-baked asphalt. You have to use the same stride (and the same, probably atrophied, calf and arch muscles) as you do when running with naked feet. The end result is good: By forcing me into a more efficient stride, the VFFs helped subtract nearly a minute from my admittedly slow per-mile pace. Also, a growing body of research suggests that minimal or no footwear will result in fewer running injuries. But it takes some getting used to if you’ve never run barefoot before. Start with very short runs, and work up gradually.

They cost about $75. Maybe Michelle Obama could start wearing these and make a new fashion trend? Rebrand them as Gorilla Toes, or Cling-Ons, since they give such a great grip. And who better to push Cling-Ons than the Worfette?

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/13/2009 at 11:53 AM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffNeat Inventions •  
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calendar   Monday - May 18, 2009


I guess some have seen this. Is that correct?
I just got it from an old friend who knows how crazy I can get over stuff like this.
Wow .. I’d love to fly in that thing but I’m not so sure I’d like it as a car.  Of course, MY idea of a car is a candy apple red Caddy.  A Vet, Hudson Hornet, Hollywood coup. 1937 Cord 2Dr. Convt., I better quit here cuz my list is endless.

I saw something like this around 1949 or so. Maybe 1950.  Saw it in an old newsreel.  I miss those. The voice of Dwight Weist. Not sure of the spelling and not even sure if he was the one who presented the story back then. But it’s a name I remember from the old movietone newsreel days in theaters.


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 05/18/2009 at 04:25 PM   
Filed Under: • MiscellaneousNeat Inventionsplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Saturday - September 27, 2008

Smart Tools

This is pure nerd-vana to a tool junkie. The very best kind of tool porn. This really is a quantum leap forward in power saw technology. It’s the “intelligent” table saw that knows when it’s cutting wood, and when it’s cutting your fingers off. And when the latter happens, the blade stops and retracts in an instant. I’ve known too many carpenters and butchers in my time who could go by the nickname “Stubby” because they all lose a few fingers eventually. Right now this saw costs about 3 times what other saws cost ... but this is how the future ought to be.

SawStop, the World’s Safest Table Saw

SawStop’s 10” cabinet saw and 10” contractor saw were developed from the ground up with a particular focus on safety and quality. They feature a revolutionary safety system that stops and retracts the blade (within 5 milliseconds) upon accidental contact, drastically reducing the severity of user injury. The safety system provides invisible protection (doesn’t interfere with your work), is always “on” and performs continuous self tests. The saws also includes a European style riving knife (secured via a quick-change mount) that helps minimize kick-back.


How does it do it? The saw blade is slightly electrified, and has a monitoring circuit. When your hand touches the blade the voltage drops, and that triggers the safety mechanism. That blows a fuse which lets a spring loaded aluminum block slam against the running saw blade. The blade and the motor are mounted on a pivot, so when the block smacks into them not only is the blade stopped dead in its tracks, the whole affair snaps out of the way. So the blade instantly stops and hides under the table. Impressive!

Found over at Hog On Ice. The SawStop is an industrial grade tool, and is priced accordingly. Prices run between $2800 to $3400


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/27/2008 at 02:45 PM   
Filed Under: • Neat InventionsScience-Technology •  
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calendar   Tuesday - July 01, 2008

Super Fantastic, but expensive

"Ladies, are you eager to wear those stunning but complex eyeshadow styles the models have in all the fashion magazines, but you don’t have the time or the skill to apply them? And you can’t afford a personal make-up assistant? Well then, this product is just for you.”

Gosh, I love new inventions, whether they pan out or not. Here’s one that could really be a winner if the price came down a bit…

New product: Press-On Eyeshadow!


It’s such a great idea that two companies came out with it simultaneously, one in the US, one in Australia. I’ll give the land down under props for a better name; what ColorOn in the US calls Instant Eye Shadow (boring but accurate), Majic Beauty in Oz names Eye Majic (ooh, sexy). Either way, what you get is a bit of bandage material with the eye shadow already attached. Then you just stick it on your eyelid, give it a press - or a wiggle if you want to be inventive - and pull it off. Ta da! Your eyes look hot, and you’ve just saved ... how much time? Plus they have lots of patterns, including leopard spots for you nascent cougars, and even camouflage for you redneck gals!

Sure guys, we’re going to smirk at this one. But the next time you’re cooling your heels in the car, waiting, and waiting, and waiting ... because she said she’d be ready in “just a second” ... you just might be tempted to give these links a visit.

The US product costs $3 a go, the Aussie one $2 a go. I wonder if the next generation product will also include the mascara?

This post brought to you by the ever watchful, ever surfing Rancino, who found the reference over at Springwise. How he got there I haven’t a clue, but thanks!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/01/2008 at 12:10 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffNeat Inventions •  
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calendar   Monday - April 28, 2008

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … what the heck is that thing?

It weighs only 30 pounds and can be fully weaponized for assault and rescue. It has a 6-foot jet-wing that is steered with handheld rotary controls connected to its rudder. And it can hide more than 100 pounds of combat gear in a built-in compartment.image
The Gryphon attack glider, designed to penetrate combat zones at 135 miles per hour, could revolutionize the art of parachuting.

Its helmet has a heads-up display and provides on-board oxygen for the jump. To land, a soldier separates the wing from his pack and releases his parachute to slow his descent. The wing remains attached to the soldier by a cord and lands before him.

Currently, planes and pilots are put at risk because soldiers need to jump close to combat areas. Typical high altitude, high-opening, or HAHO, jumps from around 27,000 feet allow soldiers to travel only about 30 miles after exiting the aircraft.

The Gryphon could increase that range fourfold, creating an attack corridor of nearly 125 miles. Unaffected by headwinds or crosswinds because of its favorable lift-to-drag ratio, the glider would allow elite units to reach targets with increased speed, precision and stealth.

The Gryphon’s built-in oxygen supply system allows soldiers to jump from up to 30,000 feet. And with temperatures at that altitude sometimes reaching minus 64 degrees Fahrenheit, every second counts. Even in upwind conditions, the Gryphon could reduce HAHO jump duration to a third, from an average of 45 minutes to just 15, vastly reducing the risk of exposure to extreme cold.

The Gryphon’s designers, SPELCO GbR, are even planning to affix a relatively cheap and small turbo jet, which is used for unmanned military drones. Harnessing that jet, the glider would allow soldiers to jump lower, maintain altitude and travel farther than is currently possible.

image I’m not totally sold on this one. If it can fly you 125 miles instead of the 30 miles you can get from a parasail, doesn’t that mean you’re falling a lot slower? And if you’re falling a lot slower, how does that make it possible to get down quicker out of the upper atmosphere where the temperature is deathly cold? Maybe they meant that you could do a power dive straight down, and then pull up and glide those same 30 miles but from a much lower altitude.

And while the Spec Ops guys will all want to try it, after the initial thrill wears off won’t this wing-thing be just another heavy bulky item they’ve got to hump around?

I like the idea of sticking a little jet engine on it, though that will add even more weight. I wonder if it would give you enough power to take off from the ground that way, or if this gizmo is going to wind up being called the Pteradactyl because it only flies after being dropped a long long way?

thanks for the link Rancino!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2008 at 07:49 PM   
Filed Under: • MilitaryNeat Inventions •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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