Vinyl Records Are Magic!

recordplayerWAY back in December 2009, in a post titled Nostalgia: Vinyl Records Edition, I wrote about a trip with my son to a local eatery, an eatery known as much for their Russian dumplings as they are for the record player and vast vinyl record collection they have in the main seating area, available for use by customers.

In that post, and in a subsequent follow-up titled Vinyl Update, a year later, I described how my son, 12-13 years old at the time, discovered the joy — dare I say magic? — of vinyl records at that restaurant, and then at home, when I purchased a used turntable and dusted off my collection of 200 or so LPs.

Well, it seems I’m not alone in finding vinyl record technology to be magical.

Casey Chan, over at, in a post yesterday on this subject, wrote:

I don’t care that I supposedly understand how vinyl records work because I still totally think they’re the work of at least some low level sorcery. Trapping sound and music and voices? Come on!

Sorcery indeed! I mean, just look at this GIF footage of a record player’s stylus traveling through the groove in a vinyl record, as seen through an electron microscope:


What the what?! That makes music come out of a speaker, filled with instruments and voices, melodies and rhythms?

That’s some crazy magic!

Casey also includes a 9+ minute video that explains how the footage was shot and how vinyl record technology works, you can watch it if you want, but I chose not to, agreeing with Gizmodo reader JoshMC in the comments section:

Don’t anyone try and explain it, it’s all magic to me. Dark sorcery? Yeah…

Stuff We Need: Affordable Electric Vehicles, Revisited

EVBack in July 2010, I wrote about electric vehicles (EV), making the claim that EVs will have to be much more affordable and charging stations more numerous and convenient in order for the desperately needed transition away from oil-burning cars to happen at any significant level.

A year later, I added that the other key factor for widespread adoption of EVs is range — how far an EV can be driven before the battery needs to be recharged — pointing out that the range offered by the vast majority of cars at that time was grossly insufficient in order to lure folks away from their gas guzzlers. (The range of the example I linked to offered a pathetic 62 miles, not even enough to get me to Seattle, 90-miles away, a place I drive to fairly regularly.)

This post today might have qualified for my Celebrating Eco-Progress series if I wasn’t such a cheapskate.

I’ll explain.

Introducing, via, the Chevy Bolt concept car, offering a decent range of 200 miles, and a projected sticker price of, gulp, $30,000:


Now, in 2014, the average price of a car sold in the U.S. was $31,252, so many would argue that $30,000 IS affordable, especially since it comes with a big federal tax credit. But I’m 50-years old, I’ve never purchased a new car in my life, and I will NEVER cough up $30,000, or more accurately go $30,000 in debt, for a new car…

Oh, alright!

I admit, a $30k EV with a range of 200 miles WILL get more people out of their fossil fuel mobiles, and that alone is cause to celebrate.


I just need to wait an buy a used one.

Testing Tumblr

tumblr-iconWell, it’s pretty clear by now that this Tumblr thing isn’t going away anytime soon, so I’ve bitten the bullet and I’ve set up a mirror blog there. makes it super easy, with their Publicize tool, which I’ve already been using, such that every time I post something here it’s automagically posted on Facebook and Twitter as well. Now, everything will also be posted to the new Tumblr account I created.

The only bummer about the process, I discovered that there was already a Tumblr blog called Fish & Bicycles, and so I had to name my tumblr I don’t know which of us came first, because, maddeningly, I can’t seem to find any way to determine when was started. Oh well.

Honestly, I have no idea how to use Tumblr otherwise, and I don’t see myself doing much with it other than having it act as an additional venue for the blogging I do here.

One cool thing, though, this is what my archive page looks after having retroactively published some of my more recent posts there (be sure to click to enlarge!):


Tweet of the Day: @Rainn Wilson

By now, jokes about auto-correct could seem passé, but don’t tell that to the folks at

Anyway, this one from Rainn Wilson today still cracked me up. LOL!

Tweet of the Day: #TheLazarusFrog


gastricbroodingfrogOk, so this is freaky on several different levels:

  1. That there was ever actually such a thing as a “gastric-brooding frog,” a formerly extinct species that incubated their eggs in their stomachs and gave birth through their mouths. Holy crap!
  2. That scientists have brought these formerly extinct frogs back to life.
  3. That, regardless of how disgusting their method of reproduction is, the tiny baby frog in the mommy frog’s mouth in the photo here is actually kinda cute.

Fascinating to think about the implications of this development, the ethics behind bringing back extinct species, whether or not this is a dangerous slippery slope on the way towards scary CGI action-adventure movies, or worse, the real thing.

Is That An Ice Pack In Your Underwear, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

snowballsMale infertility is a serious issue, accounting for 40% of all infertility cases.

So, you might think that it’s rather insensitive of me, via the title of this post, to joke about the new fertility-enhancement-through-refrigeration underwear by Procreativity.

But, when you consider that the folks at Procreativity have actually branded their product with the name Snowballs, you can see that they have already beaten me to the punch.

Via Mashable:

Snowballs creator Joshua Shoemake had trouble in the “fertility factory” with his wife. Too many appointments and too much money spent were taking its toll. A friend going through a similar situation was told to put some ice down below, since elevated scrotal temperature can be a major cause of infertility.

After icing for a year, Shoemake’s friend became father to a baby girl. Inspired by the idea, the two believed they could find a way to “hack fertility.”…

The specially designed underwear include SnowWedges for cooling. The wedges mold to the body and use a freezable, non-toxic gel to maintain a comfortable temperature for 30 minutes.

I think that their preemptive use of humor in naming the underwear Snowballs and the video below is brilliant marketing, recognizing that, people being people, jokes would be predictable.

And, while I shiver at the thought of ice in my underwear, having had personal experience with procreation and the incredible joy of being a parent, I can’t help hope that this product can make that experience possible for more men who want it.

Bellingham’s Coal Train Blues: China, Please Hurry Up!

Coal_TrainIt’s been over a year since I last wrote about the ongoing battle over coal happening here in the Pacific Northwest, where efforts are underway to build multiple shipping terminals to send millions of tons of coal to China, with one of the terminals proposed here, at a site just north of my Bellingham, Washington home.

Ironically, and perhaps fortuitously for us here in Bellingham (via

China Drives Record Solar Growth Becoming Biggest Market

The $77 billion solar-energy industry is forecast to expand the most since 2011, as China becomes the biggest market for the first time and drives annual global installations to a record…

China, after building scores of factories that helped cut panel prices 20 percent in the past year, is poised to become the biggest consumer of the devices after doubling its 2013 target for new projects in January…

China, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is forecast to unseat Germany as the largest solar market in 2013… Projects have multiplied as the nation provides financial support to its solar companies in a bid to diversify the coal-dependent energy industry.

The Chinese government expects 10 gigawatts of new solar projects in 2013, more than double its previous target and three times last year’s expansion.

Tripling their solar implementation in one year! THAT is good news, whether your hometown is threatened by coal or not.

The latest on the proposed shipping terminal: The backers of the project, SSA Marine and Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad, will have to conduct a thorough study of environmental impacts, resulting in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that they will have to submit to the local, state, and federal government agencies (aka Co-Lead agencies) overseeing the project. The Co-Lead agencies will study the EIS and either approve or reject the building of the terminal. The scoping of the EIS — identifying exactly what impacts must be studied and reported on — was recently conducted, via a series of statewide public hearings and an open comment period. 124,000 comments were submitted.

It’s unclear how long it will take for the government agencies to review all of the comments and to announce the scope of the EIS, but it is estimated that the EIS will likely take two or more years to complete.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if China’s rush to liberate itself from its coal dependency resulted in a severe enough decline in demand that the building of the shipping terminal would ultimately be cost-ineffective?

One can hope, can’t one?