atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4994: Adventure!

So, I'm at work, and I'm finishing up the last call of the night, when my phone begins ringing.

It's set not to ring, because I work in a call center where ringing cell phones are absolutely verboten. As in, "keep your phone in your pocket on silent and all is well. But if it's found in your desk and turned on, you're fired."

My phone is on "silent" and it's in my coat pocket, yet all of a sudden it starts up with Mrs. Fungus' ringtone, and so there I was trying to end the call I was on gracefully while wadding my coat up around the phone (still in its pocket) so as to muffle the ringtone.

I don't think anyone else heard it, anyway.

The thing is, my employer has an emergency line for people to call employees at, so they don't have to have their phones on. Mrs. Fungus has that number, and she called it...and no one answered. What a big fuckin' help that is. And that's why she called me; she had an emergency.

You see, her office had their Christmas party this evening, and on her way home from it she made a wrong turn and ended up in a trench.

On such-and-such road they're redoing the whole thing, and right now there's a lane, a trench that's right down to gravel, and another lane.

Once off the call--it was my last call of the day--I punched out and hit the can, calling Mrs. Fungus once I was off the production floor. She explained to me what had happened, and since her GPS knew what road she was on and which intersection she was near, I knew my GPS would be able to get me into the ballpark. I booked out of there and hit the road.

It wasn't a long drive--not more than twenty minutes--but it took an eternity, but eventually I got there. There, at the intersection, there was a car with its hazard flashers on, so I put mine on and pulled off to the side of the road, then got out and crossed the lane to the car. The car had its right wheels off the pavement, hanging loosely off about an 18" high ledge, and I had no idea how I was going to get that thing out without a tow truck. Well, first step is to talk to my wife.

The first thing I noticed was that the license plate was wrong, and then I realized that the car was also the wrong kind; and once I was on the other side of the trench I got a look at the driver.

"You're not my wife," I said, to the closed window, and then headed back to the Jeep, looking around. There was another set of hazard flashers going a bit further down the road; that had to be Mrs. Fungus, I reasoned, and waited for a gap in traffic.

Sure enough it was her, and there was a convenient road I could pull into, so I parked there with my hazards on and went to Mrs. Fungus' car.

I greeted her, then had a gander at the situation. At the intersection behind us, she'd turned into the wrong lane, and when she realized her mistake she naturally tried to move into the right one, not realizing that there wasn't any pavement between her and the other lane. She ended up dropping off that ledge and into the gravel, driving as far as she could, and then stopping, because her car is too low to the ground to drive over the ramp without the front end getting ripped to shreds. She wisely did not try.

I'm betting something similar happened to the other lady. The barricades in that intersection were for shit, and it's really foggy tonight, so it's not all that surprising that if you're unfamiliar with the terrain and making a turn you might get confused and go the wrong way.

Anyway--I had no tools with me, no tow strap, nothing, and what I needed to do was find a way to make a ramp the car could surmount. I looked around for stones or something, figuring that at the very worst I could just pile dirt up, but while scanning the area I saw a pile of scrap wood across the road. I looked it over and found two 2x10s of about the same length; I grabbed them, made sure there were no nails in them, and jammed one in front of each front tire. I had Mrs. Fungus get back, then got into the car and carefully eased it up the makeshift ramps. In seconds I had the car back on the road.

Put the lumber back where I found it, then had Mrs. Fungus pull her car around in front of the Jeep, still patiently waiting on the side road; a quick inspection with my little keychain light (the only one I had) showed nothing dripping or hanging, and in fact everything looked hunky dory--no obvious damage at all but for some scuffs on the tire sidewalls.

She followed me home, and we stopped at Ihop for food.

Tomorrow I'm going to have to have a good look under the car to make absolutely sure that nothing's been damaged. That was quite a drop. Mrs. Fungus reported nothing unusual about the way the car drove on the way home, though, so that's good.

Dodged a bullet there, let me tell you. If the first one I'd stopped at had been Mrs. Fungus there's no way I could have gotten the car out of there with what came to hand. We would have ended up calling a tow truck, because just dragging the car off that ledge would damage something, maybe badly.

In fact, on the way home I figured out a way to do it if I had a floor jack to hand; I could have used the car's jack to lift up the front end, so the bottom of the wheel was above the edge of the pavement, then get the floor jack under it and pull the wheel onto pavement. Do the same for the rear end; presto, back on the road. Done right, the car's jack would lean against the pavement edge and you could then lower the wheel onto pavement without breaking anything. But of course my floor jack--and everything else I'd need to do that save for the car's own jack--were fifty miles away. (I do not make a habit of carrying my floor jack with me. It's too big, and why?)

Anyway, we were able to get the car out of the trench without damaging it and without calling a tow truck--and without me having to work myself to death--so I'm calling this one a win.

Impressed the hell out of my wife, too.

* * *

The important part here is that 35,000 feet is above about 90% of the atmosphere. Getting a rocket that high up and moving about 500 MPH before lighting the fuse goes a surprisingly long way towards getting a payload into space. Down here on the surface you expend a lot of energy pushing through the thick air.

That's why piggybacking a rocket on a high-flying plane has been a staple of experimental rocketry since we've been doing it.

* * *

ANd speaking of rocketry, Yeah.
The RS-25 was also – and better – known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine. It’s an incredibly complex, fabulously expensive engine, because it tries to squeeze every last erg of performance from the hydrogen and oxygen propellants, and because it’s a man-rated engine that *cannot* be allowed to self-disassemble, and because it’s reusable.

Except… the new RS-25s will be tossed away with each SLS flight. Every time the rocket goes up, four RS-25s will be dumped into the drink.

Seems just a little bit of a waste.
But then again, it's NASA; why should they care about wasting money?

Incidentally there's a link in that article about the H-1 rocket engine which, it turned out, was reusable entirely by accident.
In order to establish an approximate cost factor, a log was kept of the procedures, reconditioning manhours, materials, and an itemized list of replaced engine parts. The cost to recover and recondition the H- 1 engine was approximately 5 per cent of the cost of a new one.
That is the way to cheap access to space, right there. NASA is entirely uninterested in anything of the sort.

* * *

Technology is going to eliminate distribution center jobs, as well as fast food jobs. Robots do not tire. They do not get sick. They most certainly do not unionize.

* * *

Guns, in the wake of the islamic terror attack in San Bernardino.

Larry Correia, as usual, talks sense.
California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. California has what is known as May Issue concealed carry, which means that it is up to the local sheriff who is allowed to get a concealed weapons permit, which in all the blue counties means that concealed weapons permits are only issued to rich folks who donate lots of money to politicians, or body guards for movie stars.

California has an assault weapons ban. The terrorists didn’t care. California has high capacity magazine bans. The terrorists didn’t care. They’ve got all sorts of ridiculous rules with registries, approval lists, mandatory locks, safety tests, bullet buttons, and other forms of voodoo completely unintelligible to red state America, but the terrorists still didn’t care.

Of course they don’t. Because when you are planning to go out and commit a couple hundred felonies, including murder, you don’t give a damn about gun control laws. And they love Gun Free Zone signs, because that means before the cops can get there, they’re going to get several uninterrupted minutes of carnage footage on their Go-Pro to upload to ISIS propaganda websites.
Let's say that again, nice and loud, for our anti-freedom "friends" who want to ban all guns: The terrorists don't care about the law.

And as Steven Den Beste notes the leftists are finally admitting that banning guns is what they want.

* * *

Anyway, after a day of manning the phones and rescuing damsels in distress, I'm tired. Time for something fun.
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