A silly pun about lichen

The strange taste of memories; lichen comics; Week 13 of 2021

Funny stuff:

A strange thing happened. I ate a Walmart fudge brownie, then some peanuts and drank some coffee. It tasted exactly like a memory of waiting for a table at Smitty’s with my grandparents. The yellow wavy glass, the vinyl bench, the smell of my grandmother’s perfume, the sound of silverware, the juice glasses with the distinctive bulgy profile… it all came back. It was clear in my mind to a crazy degree. It only worked once, though. No matter how many brownies I ate.

Unrelated: I’ve been doing some macro photography. I saw this weird moss and lichen on the top of a post. The vibrant red color is very interesting. I would love to know what the pigment is. The red nodules were about 2 mm in diameter. What a fun lens. It made me think of an old comic, A Softer World. So, I tried to make some things inspired by their style.

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Week 8 2021: Pilgrimage to the Temple of Power

My wife and I took a drive up to the Temple of Power. It was pretty cool, and pretty much deserted. It’s a sculpture made from salvaged electrical equipment at the Gorge powerhouse. We saw an eagle fly over us while we were wandering around. It was pretty cold, but very pretty. In retrospect, I wish I’d captured video so I could do a vlog.

I saw that Netflix is Adapting the ‘Redwall’ Books Into Movies, TV Series. I liked those books as a kid. They got repetitive after a while, but I still remember parts of Mossflower very fondly. I read them at a point in my life when I didn’t want to like anything the other kids liked (I was a hipster before it was cool, bruh), but Redwall won me over. Wholesome good fun. I hope the new series takes the material seriously.

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Iron Battery 2.0 has been published in HardwareX

I’m happy to announce that Iron Battery 2.0 has been accepted for publication in HardwareX, the peer reviewed journal for Open Source Hardware. Back in 2017, and with the help of some generous crowd funders, we set out to make a radically inexpensive and nontoxic battery. We made a lot of progress.

Here’s the Announcement Video for Iron Battery 2.0!

We took inspiration from the Edison cell iron electrode (invented more than 100 years ago). When iron oxidizes, it gives up electrons. In the Edison cell, those electrons are taken up by nickel. That transfer of electrons is what gives the usable electricity we want. To reverse the reaction and charge the battery, electrons are sucked out of the nickel and back into iron. But nickel is relatively expensive, and the Edison cell uses a concentrated and caustic alkaline electrolyte.

Back in 2017, we replaced the nickel with ferric iron and neutralized the electrolyte. This really hurts the energy density and performance of the battery. The energy was there, it just couldn’t discharge fast enough to give useful power. The plan was to use it for stationary applications, but it was still under-powered. It would take days to get all the energy out of Iron Battery 1.0. But it worked well enough to show that the idea was valid.

This low-power problem is called high internal resistance. So, the next step was to try to decrease the internal resistance. So, if we could reduce the distance the electrons had to travel, we should make a better battery. To help get the electrons close to the ferric iron, we added a lot of carbon black (a conductive carbon powder used in conductive inks). That’s how we made Iron Battery 2.0. It is a significant improvement in power, up to usable levels.

A single Iron Battery 2.0 cell can now deliver enough power to light up an LED (albeit with a little voltage booster circuit called a “Joule thief,” which has a great pun for a name). This is getting closer to practical level where this chemistry could store solar or wind energy on a larger scale.

The previous build video (Iron Battery 1.5) goes through the construction and the main recipe. The very detailed build instructions (including a list of all the materials and where to get them) are now available in the new publication.

Dark Crystal Landscapes and Sex Ed for Mantises: Week 3 2021

The scene is from my walk this last week. The landscape looks odd in this season. It looks a little like something from The Dark Crystal. It’s a strange collection this week.

Oh, sweet summer hatchling. You’re not going to like this, Tommy Mantis. Probably. I mean, I don’t know what you’re into.

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I am the Houdini of spilling on myself. Week 1 2021

Random Anecdote

I was making coffee and pouring water into the coffee maker, and somehow the water sluiced across the top of the Mr. Coffee and right into my left sleeve. For a second I thought I had just made it vanish. “Poof! Not in the coffeemaker, not on the floor, nothing up my sleeve… oh, wait, yes. It is up your sleeve, there, Gandalf.” I then poured water out of my hoodie onto the floor, and had to towel it up.

This made me realize that I have this implicit idea that it must be really cool to be a comedian. Making people laugh and making people think seem like good things. Spreading a little joy is a great way to make a living. And – best of all – comedians get to tell themselves jokes and make themselves laugh. Who knows their sense of humor better than them, right? Well, no. Making yourself laugh is actually really rare, and comedians are mostly a pretty unhappy bunch, so let’s maybe not imagine them standing around talking in funny voices to themselves for their own amusement.

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