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Bravo November » Universe-Flavored Pudding

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In case of emergency…

Posted in Geeking Out, Uncategorized, Universe-Flavored Pudding on
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May 3rd, 2006
From: Train Man!0xDEADBEEF

As a proud cattle member of the commuting public here in South Florida, I ride Tri-Rail sometimes. And, like any other trains, Tri-Rail passenger cars have various features onboard designed to ensure safe evacuation of passengers and crew in the event of an accident. Now, some of these features make perfect sense.

You have the typical fire extinguishers, emergency exit windows, exit doors between cars, and door release mechanisms… only, Tri-Rail’s taken things a little bit further in potentially nonsensical ways.

Here’s the first bit of utter nonsense one will find aboard the trains…


This isn’t uncommon at all aboard trains; I think the emergency brake is probably required by some ancient and outdated federal regulation somewhere. My only concern is… why the heck did they put it there? I bet more than once, someone’s lost their balance on that little set of steps and snagged the brake handle on the way down. On some of the older UTDC-made coaches, I also remember there being brake handles like that simply dangling from the ceiling at the ends. Nice.

The only reason I can see for having those handles, anyway, is to allow someone to stop the train if the motorman somehow manages to fall asleep or otherwise become incapacitated at the controls, AND manages to fall on the safety pedal that keeps the brakes from being automatically set anyway. Modern signalling systems would also stop the train automatically if needed. So yeah… if anyone can tell me otherwise, go ahead, but for now, I’m going to declare them obsolete.

But that’s not the least of the weirdness. Here’s the little gem that stood out in particular:



This is a little strip of plastic above a window, seperate from the mechanism on the same window that allows it to be removed from the side of the train as an emergency exit. What it does, nobody knows. It’s right in a place where it’s sure to be accidentally used as a handle by someone who’s lost their balance while getting out of the seats below, though. My guess is it’s nothing more severe than a trigger for an alarm bell, but the warning on it seems a little too harsh for that. “Penalty for misuse: Fine or imprisonment”.

Nevermind the fact that it does not state which sort of emergency it’s to be used in… I think it really makes about this much sense:


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Shiny button fun.

Posted in Uncategorized, Universe-Flavored Pudding on
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November 25th, 2005

And now, a silly portrait of the engineer at home.

The button at the waist of one of my pairs of pants broke in the dryer. It was roughly a 5/8″ plastic button, kind of thick. Measuring it and the buttonhole with calipers showed 5/8″ to be about the right size.

Searching fabric stores for WEEKS never revealed that size of button to even remotely come close to being correct. The next size up would not fit through the provided buttonhole; 5/8″ would slip out, and anything smaller would do as before, but even worse. Yes, I could have modified the buttonhole, but I’m somewhat slightly lazy and ALWAYS in search of a crazier solution.

I was tempted to try machining a replacement from some scrap plastic before I came across these snap-on “bachelor buttons” in the sewing cabinet. They look a lot like a metal and plastic version of the metal buttons usually found on the waistbands of jeans. The back is a stud with an arrow-shaped end, which is driven into a hole in the plastic stem of the button (which has a metal decorative front on it).

The instructions on the package said to press the stud through the fabric first. Well then… let’s see. About 3/16″ of overlapped cotton twill just refused to be penetrated by any of the large upholstery needles I could find, and certainly not by the arrow tip of the backing stud!

I finally found the answer at my workbench, in the probes on the test leads hooked up to my Fluke 8520A benchtop digital multimeter of DOOM. I had previously cursed these things for being excessively sharp after some accidental pokes. Needless to say, they went right through the fabric.

However, the moment I pulled the multimeter probe tip out, the holes in the layers of fabric conveniently no longer lined up.

I managed to get the stud to follow the probe out of the hole after poking it from the other side, and went to stick it into the back of the button. Oops. The hole there was about half the area of the widest dimension of the arrow shaped bit of the stud. I realize the whole thing stays in place by means of physically jamming into the plastic, but isn’t that a bit excessive? There was no way in heck I was going to get this into place without some implements of destruction. The package, upon referring to it, said to use a mallet. Conveniently nearby was a 16 oz. California Framer hammer.

… With one rather LIGHT tap, the stud went into the hole in the button, bottomed out, shattered the plastic of the button, pierced through the decorative metal front, and ended up in the wood below. Yes, I had just NAILED MY PANTS TO THE WORKBENCH.

After prying all that loose, I tried again with another button from the package, pressing it into place with pliers, and it worked.

So here’s my overall procedure:

Measure once with calipers. Attempt replacement three times. Substitute strange replacement part. Stab twice. Completely, utterly, yet recoverably bollix everything once. Complete quite sucessful repair with inappropriate tools.

I think I have a GREAT new insight into my life based on this…


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X-Men Candy Sticks!

Posted in Imagery, Uncategorized, Universe-Flavored Pudding on
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November 13th, 2005

Tonight myself and some of the people from my sinister anime overlord agency were over at Dave & Buster’s, and were playing various games on their ‘Million Dollar Midway’. (The i, d, w, and a were missing from ‘Midway’, so it just said ‘Million Dollar M Y’. I wish I’d brought my camera.)

There are basically two areas to the ‘Midway’ - normal games, and ‘redemption’ games, the ones that award tickets or other prizes as a result of skillful play. I had an old card from a Power Combo that had about 2 credits left on it (where most of the games want 2.2… or 2.5… or such.) Along the line I found a crane machine full of candy, which claimed that it would NEVER leave you without a prize after playing! In fact, if it failed to grab a prize, it would add another credit and let you try again! Wow, I would have my sugar NO MATTER WHAT!

And lo and behold, I got a pack of Sweet Tarts, and these… very curious… “X-Men Candy Sticks”.

(The box was originally in quite pristine condition, until it spent some time being transported in one of the pockets of those which I refer to as my ninja pants. Yeah, maybe ninjas don’t wear these specifically, but they’re the most comfortable and wonderful black cargo pants I’ve ever owned and I would certainly wear them if I was a ninja. Moving right along…)


Yes… the sticks themselves look like something purchased right off the street in Opa-Locka.

Well then.

If this is what crack is like, I am sorely disappointed. It was quite tasteless, and barely even sweet. Remember kids, don’t even bother with crack. Le sigh. Here are the apparent ingredients of CRACK, should you be curious:


Remember to tell the cops you got the secret ingredient list off the INTERNET!!!



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