Inventions – The Sausage Turner

If you cook sausages in the oven the problem is to ensure even cooking given that one side of the sausage will be exposed to heat from the baking tray whilst the other surfaces are heated solely by the oven.

We have all had to rescue sausages which were charred at the bottom due to the uneven cooking process or had to try and remove sausages stuck to the baking tray, which usually involves leaving large amounts of sausage behind.

One answer is to regularly turn the sausages but who has time to do that?

Instead I propose using an automatic sausage turner.

This is a small spit into which each sausage is inserted. At each end of the metal skewer holding the sausage, supported at the extremes by simple A-frame mountings, there is a metal fan. This fan is painted dark on one side, light on the other and made up of bimetallic strips, this means that as the metal heats the fan turns and as the fan turns so does the skewer. This means that the sausage rotates automatically. It also means that the fat released by the sausage drains away from the cooking banger.

The skewer can be replaced by prongs for larger or odd shaped sausages.

 

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Bringing dragons into the enterprise

I am currently playing Ni No Kuni and enjoying the excellent art work and well written script.

One of the grimmest neologisms of recent times is “gamification”. The concept that adding elements for gaming into, usually drudge, work will make us happier and more productive.

So we have seen attempts to combine role playing games with housework so you gain points for mopping the floor. For me this seems a bizarre hybrid of grinding and drudge work.

But playing Ni No Kuni I am reminded of something games do very well, guide the user through a world upskilling the player as they go. You start with a simple stick and seamlessly you are guided to a point where you are flying a dragon, commanding a ship, crafting items and performing magic.

Compare this with the grey, grim world of Enterprise IT with “Press F1 for help” that seldom ever helps, “wizards” that are never going to open the pod bay doors, and training courses that vanish from memory the instant one leaves the room.

Why can’t we replace that with the organic learning we find in Ni No Kuni?

In the beginning

After a pleasant lunch – scallopine alla limone, if you are interested – I popped into the Wallace Collection.

I find the Watteau’s to be painful but the corners of the House are full of odd and wonderful curios, as well as a perfect Rembrandt.

As I wandered around the House my eye was caught by the paintings of animals – mostly dogs, some horses, and one lone cat on a tapestry. I found myself wondering, “Which animal was painted first? The dog or the cat?”

Did we first paint the hunter’s companion or the deity? Man’s best friend or the enemy of mice?

Rover or Tiddles?

A machine for poets

Musing on Oulipo I propose the following attack on poetry –

TITAN! to whose immortal eyes
The sufferings of mort lity,
Seen in their s d re lity,
Were not s things th t gods despise;
Wh t w s thy pity’s recompense?
sil nt suff ring, nd int ns ;
Th ro k, th vultur , nd th h in,
ll th t th proud n f l o p in,
T ony t y o not s ow,
T suffo t n s ns o wo ,
W sp ks ut n ts lon l n ss,
n t n s lous l st t s y
S ou v st n r, nor w s
Unt ts vo s o ss.

Hello World – An epic poem in 4500 stanzas

Hello new followers, lured here by the power of poetry.

I fear I may disappoint you as I do not post that many poems. For obvious reasons 🙂

Like most people my first real encounter with poetry was at school. The classics seemed shrouded in an impermeable patina of age and respectability.  They felt like punishment, not illumination.

But there were some poems that were different – the syllabus included an Ogden Nash poem, e.e. cummings, Randall Jarrell.

These poems were chewable, they filled the mouth and challenged the mind.

Then I discovered Mayakovsky and everything changed. Poetry was no longer an abstract concept, locked on the page, it was an active engagement with the world.

Alphaville introduced me to Paul Eluard. A girlfriend to Martin Espada. Chance to Fernando Pessoa. My past to Yeats and Heaney. Through Mayakovsky to Akhmatova to Mandelstam.

Random browsing of Penguin classics brought me Li Bao and Tu Fu. Random reading of NYRB and LRB brought me Weldon Kees and Amy Clampitt.

Poetry went from being something trapped behind a glaze of worthiness to being something core, an essential thing.

That is the thing about poetry. It sneaks up on you, taking no prisoners.

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A Modest Transport Proposal

(Inspired by the great Daedalus)

This morning’s rapid bus journey in to work provided further confirmation of what we observed during London 2012. The bulk of traffic congestion on London streets is caused by delivery lorries and the school run.

Children need to get to school, shops need to get deliveries so it is not feasible to simply ban these activities. And whilst we may be able to shift some deliveries out of daytime hours, this would not be possible for all and definitely not possible for the school run. 

So the fundamental challenge is to get both deliveries and children off of the streets during rush hour.

Perhaps the answer lies in a visionary initiative of the past? Pneumatic tube technology is still widely used in shops to transfer the contents of tills to the safe and to send purchases to pick up points.

So why not implement an underground pneumatic transfer system for school children and freight?

Because of their small body mass, children can withstand quite high accelerations and decelerations, and their small body size also makes it easier for them to fit into compact spaces. 

It should therefore be possible to use the same capsules for both children and relatively non-fragile deliveries.

So we build a hub and spoke system with spokes within easy reach of houses, shops and schools. Each day children assemble at their nearest spoke and are sent at high speed to the local hub, they are there transferred to their school spoke and sent on.

Goods are delivered either straight to the hub or from factory/dock spokes.

Speeds of 90kmph should be perfectly feasible meaning that the trip to school should take a matter of 10 minutes or so.

There are obviously some downsides – capsules are unlikely to hold more than 1 child at a time which will make copying homework more difficult, but children are adaptable and simply putting the brightest children in the capsules first and having them leave a copy of their homework inside should address that.Image

Horsesoft Dobbin 2013

You sell horses. You have made a lot of money over the years selling horses. Pretty much every business in the world and every household owns one of your horses. You bring out a new breed of horses every 3-4 years. Sometimes these new breeds of horses are failures but in the main people replace their old horses with your new breeds.

Your only rivals in the transportation market are a bicycle company whose products have traditionally been expensive, and a whole range of people offering rideable llamas for free, but these llamas have a history of being ugly, high maintenance and frankly – they spit.

But in recent years the bicycles have become cheaper and faster and every time you go to a conference pretty much everyone there now has a bicycle rather than a horse, indeed most of them have traded in their horses for the new world of portable, folding bicycles.

The llamas are less ugly, more pliant and spit a lot less frequently these days too.

It is time for your regular release of a new horse breed.

In order to maximise your market you decide in the following approach for Horsesoft Dobbin 2013:

  • You increase the cost of actually buying a horse significantly.
  • You introduce a new arrangement where people can hire a horse for a year but that horse can only be used by one person. At the end of the year the horse is taken away.
  • The horse is a horse, it does come with a new ribbon in its mane but that’s it.

 

As an MEA (Master of Equine Administration) student, do you think that the sum total of people buying and renting Horsesoft Dobbin 2013 will be higher or lower than previous breeds of horses?