New Blog on Engineering Supplies, Ideas
December 29, 2005
Rob Powell sent us a note that EngineerSupply has launched a new blog. The blog is a mix of personal perspectives and useful insights about some of the engineering tools and supplies you can find on their website.
The Value of Hard Work and On the Job Training
"Trained to work or work to train" is a nice little item on how the author (presumably Powell, though he goes unnamed on the blog) developed his work ethic. He tells two short stories about encounters in his early work experiences that still influence his work habits today.
Both incidents ("You Can Talk, Just Dont Stop Working" and "Never Let Me See Your Hands In Your Pockets") revolve around negative feedback from supervisors in his first days on a new job. I wonder if young people today (outside of military training) still have the opportunities learn the lasting lessons that come from a good chewing out.
If you ever have occasion to need a blueprint (or you’re just curious about how they’re produced), don’t miss the lengthy tutorial on how to make a blueprint. According to the author (Powell?), "blueline prints are very impressive since they are blue and show off your work nicely." He writes that some shops don't like large format copiers that only output black and white, adding "I have seen many shops that have both machines, a blueline, and a large format copier and use either depending on the desired results."
Long Machine Life, Low Cost Per Copy
The diazo process that creates a blueprint is inherently simple. The copiers have few complicated parts, are inexpensive to maintain, and can easily function for 20 years with little down time. According to the story, diazo-coated papers and associated supplies are competitive with plain paper. The aqueous ammonia developer is also said to be low in cost and environmentally safe, and in most cases there are no per-copy charges with diazo copiers.
In Praise of Ammonia
The author waxes enthusiastically about the blueprint’s amoniai developer:
"It is a basic building-block substance, which is crucial to life on our planet. It is composed of only two elements - nitrogen and hydrogen. Ammonia is produced by all animals, including humans, as a natural product of the metabolic process. Each person generates about 550 grams per year. According to one source, 500 families release more ammonia each year than 20,000 diazo copying machines. Ammonia is a natural product that poses no long term health hazard when used properly and is no threat to the environment. Ammonia helps reduce acid rain; it is not one of the substances responsible for the greenhouse effect; it is not a known carcinogen; and, aqueous ammonia solution is not flammable. Ammonia is recycled by rain and soil in a process known as the "Nitrogen Cycle". Accumulation in surface water, soil, or in the atmosphere does not occur. This naturally regenerating cycle is vital to our ecology and life as we know it on this planet."
One Important Item Missing
The EngineerSupply blog doesn’t appear to have comments and trackbacks enabled. That may be a limitation of the Blogger platform they have used, or perhaps it simply reflects the increasing nuisance of blog spam. The lack of author identity seems odd because the posts actually have a lot of personality to them. As can be seen in the posts referenced above, the author naturally lets his personal perspective shine through; for many who are new to the art, this is the hardest part of blogging. To have that authentic blog feel, all EngineeringSupply blog needs to do is sign their articles.
Help Solve the Mystery of the Sliding Rocks of Bonnie Claire Playa
December 18, 2005
Enviro-Tech Services in Martinez, CA is looking for donors who can help supply weather station equipment to solve the mystery of how rocks slide across a dry lake bed.
Enviro-Tech is a distributor and renter of environmental products including water, air and soil monitoring/sampling equipment. A customer, Eric Garcia, is researching the sliding rocks of Bonnie Claire Playa in Nevada. Eric needs the weather station equipment to complete his thesis on this phenomenon.
Bonnie Claire is among the few dry lake beds in the southwest Basin & Range, where rocks, ranging from a few ounces to 150-pound boulders, have slid as far as 300 feet across the flat surface. Eric has a theory about how, short of an unlikely 180 mph wind storm, these rocks could slide across the lake bed.