Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NASA: Xena is bigger than Pluto, Quaoar and Sedna

Quaoar?  Sedna? We already knew about Pluto, once regarded as the ninth planet in our Solar System.  But Pluto was demoted from planet to "object" not long ago, and placed in the club of other Kuiper Belt Objects.

It's not easy to remember that Quaoar and Sedna are Kuiper Belt cousins to such objects as 2003 EL61, an ovoid planetoid with a name like a vacuum tube, let alone pronounce their names.  I'm struggling with Quaoar and am sure that I sprained my tongue. I imagine Quaoar might be more popular in some country such as Saudi Arabia, since they are already near Qatar, which is also unpronounceable in Massachusetts. 

Kuiper, I think, is supposed to sound like "wiper" with a K, but maybe not.

Say it like this:  Qwaaaaooooorrrrrrrr !  Sedna is easy, but weird.  Xena, of course, is the Warrior Princess.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Free Online Dictionary proves that you get what you pay for

The Free Online Dictionary and a couple of other online references are attempting to establish that the word "whose" may correctly be used as a possessive form of "that", arguing that writing "of which" sounds stilted, and so the more idiomatic "whose" sounds better.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Videosphere, Transmitters and Racks

Here is a shot of a JVC Videosphere from 1970 hanging from the ceiling of my ham shack.  JVC, Sony and many other Japanese electronics manufacturers responded to the 1969 moon landing motifs - known as "Apollo Style" - with rounded, helmet shaped radios and TVs. Lots of other products of the early 70s echoed the rounded corners, truncated pyramids and strut motifs found on the Lunar Module.

You can just see two 1976 bicentennial candlestick telephones.  The one on the left is a genuine Western Electric telephone, its identity given away by the enlarged base needed to house the then obligatory telephone inductors, and the one on the right is actually a transistor radio.

Two 19" rack cabinets holding various things including a Johnson Valiant 100W AM transmitter, SP600 reciever, James Millen scope, Tektronix mainframe scope, audio processing equipment and power supplies. To the left is an ersatz Collins 30S-1, build from scratch by superb homebrewer Ken W1RIL.  Better than any Collins, this clone easily puts out 2500 Watts of RF, if told to do so.

The Z-stool is original and not a repro.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My good freind Mike Weiner just sent me an excellent book entitled "HARMONOGRAPH A VISUAL GUIDE TO THE MATHEMATICS OF MUSIC".

Among the many fascinating topics, author Anthony Ashton  devotes pages to our celebrated Ernst Chladni, as well as Lissajous, a nice description of The Kaleidophone, a new-to-me visual map of Equal Temperament.  The book is done up as a small pamphlet of about 50 pages and published by Wooden Books Ltd., London.

Links about Chladni here.

Lafayette PA-42 Crystal Microphone

Finally, here is the famous, revered, much-coveted Lafayette PA-42 "Crystal Mike" as indicated in the delicately embossed styrene grille surface.  This incredibly colorful and exciting microphone was produced in Japan in the early 60s, and sold by Lafayette.  The PA-42 has two wonderful cloisonne emblems that seem to balance the amazingly rich plastic metallic color of the face perfectly.  The rear of this mint-condition treasure is made of injection-molded styrene in an interesting and unusual flesh color, a portion of which can be seen peeking from the top looking like a little earlobe, but it's actually the front of a long, Mohawk fin that streamlines the bullet shape of the body .  The casual and imprecise, fine details of this microphone are all the more discernible due to its completely unmarked and intact surface finish, which is apparently exactly as it looked in 1962 at the Lafayette store.

Probably the all-time favorite microphone in my extensive collection, made all the more desirable with the Lafayette emblem and brand, known to me as a mark of the highest quality in low-cost communications gear.

In our present age of dressed-down product design, where nearly all the cars are strangled into safe blacks, silvers and maroons, and every microphone save one or two is a colorless black or silver, the PA-42 remains amazingly free.

Click on the image for a close-up.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Blogger is all screwed up

Blogger, the google-owned blog service that we use here, has changed.

It's all screwed up though.  There are new features that prevent a lot of the less obtrusive linking we used to do.

Edd Kalehoff - A composer you know.

Ever watch "The Price is Right"?  OK, how about "Monday Night Football"?  Or perhaps you only tune into PBS and watch "The Nightly Business Report".

Here's Edd on the Moog, composing the latest theme for The Price is Right.

These and other great, iconic themes of the late 20th Century are from the incredibly accomplished production house of Edd Kalehoff LINK