Alt. Transportation 4

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Now this is a transportation post that my mother could support.

Apparently, back in Europe during WWII, gasoline was scarce. Duh. What I didn’t know, however, was how they made up for that fact. Internal combustion engines are wonderful in that they don’t much care what you put through them, just as long as they explode at the right time and don’t gum up the valves. The Europeans exploited this by using gasification generators (pictured) to run their cars on hydrogen-based syngas. The technology is carbon-neutral, time-tested, and still available today!

The chemistry is fairly simple. Woodchips (or sawdust, or peanut shells, or really any other organic compounds) are burned in an oxygen-deprived environment, which doesn’t allow the hydrogen gas to be bonded with oxygen, creating the usual H2O byproduct of combustion. The hydrogen gas is then routed to the cylinders through the car’s fuel delivery system, and voila! It runs. I should mention, however, that this wouldn’t work on a Diesel engine, since those use pressure-ignition, rather than spark.

Instructables has a wonderful rundown of how to install this in a car and make it run, with this accompanying video of the generator in action:

I believe the correct term to use here is “do want.”

Now, while this isn’t technically steam-powered, I can’t help but see this being used to create some wonderful steampunk vehicles.

What I really envision, however, is fitting one of these bad-boys onto the back of a Delorean. Flux-Capacitor or no, it would be badass. And carbon neutral, to boot.

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The future is cold. Air cold.

To the music!

Whether or not Britney has a future is another story, but she sounds good in this first track.

The “Futuresounds of London” apparently decided to immediately date themselves with their name, but they’re brought into the 21st century for this second track. Not my style, though.

“The Futureheads” probably didn’t sound as good before they were mashed with 50 Cent in tonight’s final track.

Not Alt. Media 2

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This is an even less alternative project than the last video I posted. This is the video I produced (with Kristen Thometz) for SPJ (the Society of Professional Journalists). They’re giving Fran Spielman, the City Hall reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times the Lisagor Journalism Award, which is essentially an award for lifetime achievement.

It was incredible making this video, as I got to shadow Fran for a day, as well as attend a press conference with the mayor, where I signed in on the media sheet, and was filming alongside the local TV stations. My camera, as much as I like it, felt very small next to those huge broadcast-bazookas.

I also got to interview the editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times for this, as you’ll see in the video. So now he knows my name, and hopefully will be impressed with the outcome of the project.

The coolest part of this, though, is that this video will be shown publicly at the awards ceremony on Friday, downtown. It’s going to follow a piece produced by ABC7 Chicago, and the audience will include real, important people from the Chicago mass-media community. This could open doors.

Anyway, here’s the final product. Since it’s so late, I’m not going to post any music today. Hopefully this will be interesting enough.

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Let me know what you think! I still have a day to make any last-minute changes.

To the Point… Illism

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I’ve always been a fan of Makita tools. My dad always used them when I was growing up, and still does today. I remember fondly the Christmas when he passed the old power drill on to me, complete with a leather tool belt and a set of pliers that I use to this day. It’s a wonderful tool.

I’ve never really thought of the company outside of its practicality, however. I like the trademark blue color, but as far as I’ve been concerned, Milwaukee tools still has the edge as far as cool logos go. Makita’s is nicely 60’s, but Milwaukee has an even more delightfully retro 20’s look to it.

Not content to sit in Milwaukee’s graphic-design shadow, Makita has recently created this incredible advertisement (via BoingBoing):

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To emphasize their drills’ incredible precision, they drilled over 20,000 holes in a wall, creating a pointillist rendition of one of their drills. Whether or not it’s an effective demonstration of the drills’ ability (they seem to be using some a Black & Decker or something in that third thumbnail), it’s a great idea. And a cool art installation, besides!

So, if you’re in the market for a drill, I’ll give you my old spiel from my hardware-store days: If you want “made in America” street cred and legendary quality, buy Milwaukee. If you want a tool that will last a lifetime, buy Makita. If you want to go a bit cheaper, buy a DeWalt. If you’re a hopeless cheapskate, Black & Decker is on isle 2.

As a short follow-up to last night’s post, I found a more detailed explanation of the gallery opening here. The author admits to sounding a bit like an advert, but I think he’s just as smitten with the bike as I am. Harley-Davidson also created a youth-oriented blog about their Dark Custom line, here. It’s a total marketing ploy, and there’s absolutely no journalistic integrity in anything that’s on the site, but that’s a given. Besides, it’s kind of neat.

To the music!

If men with accents speaking low makes you uncomfortable, avoid this first track.

If you’re not into Rick James either, then skip this second track, too.

But everyone loves MGMT, so make sure to listen to tonight’s final track.

Alt. Transportation 3

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My internet wasn’t working last night. It was a catastrophe. Not only could I not check my Facebook, but I couldn’t update this site. Luckily, I’m only operating on ResNet’s terms for another two weeks.

In my continuing infatuation with motorcycles, I’ve been looking at all different varieties. This isn’t as much for potential ownership as pure appreciation and curiosity. If I got one, it would probably be something dreadfully efficient and practical, if not beauteous, which is exacly the opposite of this motorcycle:

The motorcycle aside, I love the commercial. While the average age for a Harley buyer is somewhere north of 50, this commercial imagines a town entirely filled with beautiful 20-something hipsters with a penchant for retro/rat-rod culture. And, of course, Iron 883s. I can’t say I blame them– I’d love to live there! Though with a town economy apparently centered on mechanics and pool halls, I’d have to brush up on both skills considerably.

The marketing ploy seems to be working somewhat, though. As Motorcycle magazine points out:

Harley’s blacked-out and matte-finished “Dark Custom” line has proven to be attractive to younger buyers, appealing in both style and price. H-D sold 29,000 bikes to people under the age of 35 in 2008, and the Dark Custom line holds particular interest for the younger demographic. Sales of DCs were up 24% in ’08, aided by the addition of the bobber-like Cross Bones.

Like I said, it worked like a charm on me, too. If I had that kind of money, I’d probably blow it on this. Even if it’s huge, heavy, low-tech, and uncomfortable for someone as tall as I am. There’s just something about Harleys that is spellbinding. I read somewhere that almost everyone who starts out on a Harley never buys anything else, and I don’t doubt it.

I’m equally attracted to the retro look though, which Triumph has been working on, as well. From the fork gaiters to the slammed suspension to the black, powder-coated… everything, the bike is dripping with rat-rod style. But what does that say about the current situation with rat-rodding, as it is?

Have you had your fill of virtually everything under the sun being called “old school” (or old skool, oldschool and oldskool; take your pick)? I know I have. What was once a genuine urban turn of phrase suddenly finds its way into everyday language, and its trendy tone is spewed casually from grade schoolers to grannies. Thanks for nothing, mindless advertising agencies!

Now that you know how I feel about that, let me share a great piece of slogan: “An iron fist in a soft-bellied world…”

…The Iron 883 not only advances the Dark Custom line, it also reflects a trend toward bobbing in the bike culture that’s now moving into the mainstream. Makes us wonder if at that point it’s still rebellious?

Again, Motorcycle seems divided on the point. Still, the Iron 883 was released at a gallery that was featuring artwork by Shepard Fairey, among others. It seems perfectly appropriate– Fairey, like the style that this motorcycle represents, started out on the far side of alternative, and has now become (to some extent, at least) a part of mainstream culture.

Regardless, I still think they’re both ridiculously cool.

Speaking of retro, Dr. Dre is BACK in this first track.

According to this second track, so is disco.

Elvis Costello is kind of retro, right? Whatever. This final track sounds awesome either way.

Bonus Reading

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First of all, I have to apologize somewhat for the little game I included in yesterday’s post. I thought it was really cool to be able to embed a Java game (getting around WordPress’ weird embedding rules), but didn’t realize that there was no way to disable the sound. So, I’m trying to figure out how to mute it, but if I don’t, I may just remove that part of the post. As much as I like the song, I’d hate to have it playing every day for the next week and a half (because you all check up on this constantly, right?).

Anyway, I would be remiss if I were to give the impression that everything I find here is only the result of my own creativity or web-surfing ability. The blogosphere provides most of the links that I come across, and though I generally try to share the source link, that’s usually not the original form I saw the content in.

There are, however, some people that are completely creative with their posts, and Nigel Tomm is one of them. He somehow stumbled across this site a couple of months ago and left a comment, so I checked his site out. It’s incredible! Here’s an excerpt of one of his poems:

My Blah Story (Ultra Short Black Rectangles Remix)

Blah me. Blame you.
Blah blah. About you. You blame me. Blah you.

I blah as you or blah by blah,
You know. You blah. You blah it out of blah.
Blah blah. Blah blah.

Blah blah, a blah,
Blah in blah.
Discovers blah and circles
Into blah. ‘My eyes,’ I blah.

Here’s a short fictional piece:

Elephants in the Living Rooms (Abstract Flash Fiction Series)

abstract short story flash fiction

You get the point. Check it all out– he’s got some great videos, and his artwork is a wonderful example of modern culture-jamming.

I’m not terribly familiar with DJ Moule, but they really hit the mark with this first track!

And instead of two additional tracks, here’s a ridiculously long one.

Patternal

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As you may have noticed, now that my class requirement for relevance has passed, my posts may go in increasingly odd directions. Mostly pertaining to art, and the like.

I promise to only showcase the coolest stuff I find, though, such as this pattern set at Wish You Were Here:

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They’re absolutely stunning. I think my favorites are the ski-lift one and the sailboat one (in the header photo), but this last one reminds me of a wonderful Flash game I found, via Andkon:

My knowledge of Japanese is really quite poor, so I can never tell if I do well, but whatever!

On to the music.

I can’t decide how I feel about this first track… It sounds pretty good, but I’m always sensitive to how The Beatles are used.

There’s no question about how much I like this second track, though. Multiple samples! Always appreciated!

This final track is just as good, even if it’s only an A vs. B mix.

Mish Mash

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First of all, I want to explain the image above. It comes from the Honda World site when you type in a URL that doesn’t exist. But instead of a simple text explanation, they give you this wonderful sprite! I can’t tell if he’s bowing or sadly hanging his head, but I appreciate it either way. Good ol’Honda. Just another reason why I love ya.

Secondly, I want to share this video:

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As soon as it was finished, I could only sit in stunned silence as I realized how much I loved it. It’s like Fantasia on an acid trip. But with Kanye West at the end. Totally weird. Watch it again, just for kicks.

Think that wasn’t weird enough? Neither does he:

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Enough of that. Some music, instead.

Usually the Jackson 5 are the basis for some really incredible mashups. This first track isn’t like the rest, but it is charactaristically well-made. I made the mistake of listening to it with the volume on high, and realized that’s the only way to do it.

There’s more pop (both sample-wise and stylistically) in this second track, which is an excellent iteration of an “A vs. B PLUS” mashup (my own distinction).

I’ve been listening to Dan Deacon’s new album Bromst for a couple weeks now, and I was overjoyed to find that one of the songs was used in a mashup! And even more excited to hear that the vocal track it was mashed with is called “Stanky Leg!” Apparently “Stanky Leg” has been receiving some pretty negative reviews, but I think the result, tonight’s final track, is wonderful. It’s great too, since the Dan Deacon side gives you enough indie cred to make up for the vocals.

Enjoy! And I promise to get back to my ordinary updating schedule. Don’cha worry.