Expert in a Dying Field

I watched this music video after a recommendation by John Voorhees on MacStories Unwind. This is a great little song; it hit a nerve. The video has a great bunch of prop gags: I had no idea there were that many Teac Reel-to-Reel Tape Decks and old film Hasselblad cameras in all of NZ! The band has been popular in (at least) NZ and the US; I see they performed on CBS Saturday Morning earlier this year.

When I was in school, my Circuits and Systems Professor spent a day talking about analog computers. He told us why at the end of class: he had spent a semester as an undergraduate “programming” analog circuits to solve differential equations: injecting voltages and currents (often oscillating) and measuring a the “solution” voltage elsewhere in the circuit. It was great to witness someone passionate about a field I’d never ever heard about before. Professionally solving equations with analog electrons has definitely died, but it’s pretty cool to see The Analog Thing arise in the 21st Century. I get a kick out of the marketing-speak on that webpage; those people definitely march to the tune of a different drummer. Is that Professor still around? Does he know about this renaissance of analog computing? I hope so.

While I passed the course, I never came close to completely understanding those circuits. OTOH, I did realize at years later the analogue of mechanical impedance. Oliver Heaviside’s impedance is probably the best way to model our posture, movement, and ability to do work. There are a few people (like MIT’s Neville Hogan) that talk about impedance in human structure, but the idea has never really caught on. I’m drafting a Wolfram Notebook to discuss moving-with-impedance; I may mention it here when I publish. Maybe @ant_pruitt will be interested; maybe he’s already thought about this. :slight_smile:

What other dying (or never-living) fields do we love?

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Maybe this one is a bit premature, but car maintenance is a very zen thing for me. I find great comfort in getting my hands really deep into the complicated machinery of an ICE, being able to tell how it’s running by feel or sound, and then that feeling of accomplishment once finished after an afternoon of sweat and sometimes a bit of blood. For better or worse, that’s not something which is possible with EVs.

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I dig doing things with my hands. . . sometimes. . . but now-a-days it’s done because I refused to pay so much when I can do it myself.

But far as what I really love, it’s what most people (here) don’t care about or understand. I love watching old football games and trying to read the defensive coverage as I’m scouting them. I don’t think this field is dying. It’s getting more and more analytical now that coaches can have data points.

I do feel like people my age or younger that will take the time to repair their 15yr old dryer or change their car’s oil is dying out. I’ve mentioned a few times on air that it’s great that the youth is getting into art, coding and other careers, but we still need plumbers and someone that knows how to install a light switch. It’s definitely changing in the car industry, but as Sam Abulsamid mentioned in Club TWiT, those folks are not called mechanics anymore. They’re car “technicians.”


RE: doing your own repairs. I have a confession to make and this is quite embarrassing. My Dad taught me how to change my own oil (and timing chains and thermostats and mufflers). We’d use these ramps he made. Out of wood. Used to scare the crap out of me trying to get the car up on those. They were 50% higher than those crappy ones you get at car parts place.

Last week I was at the dealer getting the oil changed on my truck. Service gal (yes, “gal” go ahead call me sexist or old) came out and said the two batteries (diesel) are almost dead. Last time they had mentioned something about that. In two weeks I’m going to be in the middle of nowhere about 50 miles from the Canadian border. Last thing I need is my truck not starting. So I told them to go ahead and replace them. Sure, I could have gone to Farm & Fleet and gotten my own batteries…whatever.

A little while later service gal comes out and tells me it’s taking a little longer 'cause the cable connector is so corroded the tech can’t get it off. :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: They put something on it to try to get it loosened up. The clamp ended up breaking, they had to order one. Closest one was in Iowa. Would be here first thing in the morning. I asked “why not just replace the whole cable?” It’s $900!!!

Back to doing things yourself. Checking the batteries for corrosion was one of things my Dad taught me to do when I changed my own oil. If he were here today and knew what my negligence had cost me…he’d kick my butt around the block. Guess what I’ll be checking on a more regular basis? I will not, however, go back to changing my own oil. The tech’s are trained to find issues before they become big problems. I’m not. The $79.99 (diesel) every few months is worth it to me.
Here’s the vehicle:


Yeah I don’t change oil on my own anymore. The hassle of properly transporting/disposing the old oil became inconvenient.

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One of my pet peeves are some of the Kickstarter health widgets: solutions desperately in search of a problem. The Upright Go 2 Widget pitch claims, “Your poor posture isn’t your fault.” But, in an age where we’re supposed to “follow the science”, they fail to provide any science supporting that notion. Poor posture is typically caused by poor muscle tone of groups of abdominal and back muscles, and a general lack of rotational/spiraling strength in our torso and extremities. These geometry-detecting widgets may deal with superficial symptoms, but they will never comprehensively address those problems. Braces/straps won’t do the job, either: they’re just providing shaping tensions that the body can automatically provide with proper conditioning and awareness.

Is addressing our posture sans widgets a dying field? Maybe. I think my major annoyance is the Big Widget’s marketing-claim that, “it’s not [my] fault”. IMHO, it is entirely my fault if I—an otherwise-healthy individual—walk around with poor posture.

My husband found this song and band several months ago. He enjoyed the song because of all the props in it, many of which he has! They have some other pretty good songs too. We still own VCRs and a Laser Disc Player. We mainly use them to convert to digital now but… We also are into miniature steam trains so have to manufacture parts on our own.