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  • Where, Oh Where, Has Duke Engines Gone?

    Posted on May 30th, 2016 admin No comments
     The mystery of the vanishing engine!

    Duke Engines in New Zealand. Google them, you’ll find material on their unique five-cylinder axial engine…from back in 2011 or so.  it was said that this engine was lighter, more compact, and more powerful than an equivalent standard engine.  Touted as ideal for aircraft, motor cycles, outboard engines and the like, the motor attracted a great deal of attention.

    The Duke Engine – Version 3

    Duke Engine V3 in test stand

    Apparently a  well-funded company with solid investors and shareholders, Duke had working prototypes independently tested in the UK and USA.  Yet, neither their web site nor their facebook page has anything later than March, 2013. As far as the Internet is concerned, they’ve vanished.

    A check with the NZ Companies branch shows that they’ve filed regular updates and annual reports since their incorporation in 2001; their latest filing was July 28, 2015 — so they’re still around…maybe. NZ white and yellow pages don’t have a listing for them under the name Duke Engines. A reverse search for the phone number on their home page leads to Helensville, Warkworth, Hibiscus Coast, Great Barrier Island rather than to the registered corporate address in Auckland.

    Strange. I wonder if they found some military applications and were sworn to secrecy? :)

    This article suggests that they simply ran out of money.

    In the end, it turned out to be not such a mystery after all. I emailed the company and received a reply confirming that they are out of funds and looking for an investor to help them go into production.

    If you have a spare $6M, they’d love to hear from you.

  • USA West Square Dance Convention

    Posted on July 28th, 2015 admin No comments

    Yahoo!   Got my calling assignments:

    August 13-15 – USA West Convention, Helena MT  – Calling

    • Thursday:  10:50am (MS)
    • Friday:  2:40pm (MS),   8:30pm (MS)
    • Saturday:  11:10am (MS),  MC_2pm (MS)

    I’m quite excited about this, because I was invited to call here.   And our recent caller school has boosted my confidence somewhat.

  • LucidBrake

    Posted on July 4th, 2015 admin No comments

    LucidBrake is a highly-visible stop light for cyclists, recently named by FreezeHD as one of the top five “must have” cycling innovations.

    I bought V1 from the first campaign, and was impressed enough that I want to sell the improved Version 2. Improvements include stronger battery clips, improved battery life,  a better cover, additional flash cycles, and a more positive shut-off system.  To get yours, go to (Look in the top left corner to buy one!)

    Mount it on your bike (or trike), backpack, or helmet.  Keep it in the RV and  when you are ready to switch to two wheels just pop it on using the special fastening system.

    Everyone who sees it is impressed, as it really catches the attention (and lets motorists know where you are!). It has four flashing patterns –you select which one you want by however you mount the light– a “slow down” mode, and a “stop” mode.

    Mount it, and it turns on when you move.  Remove it from its mount, lay if flat, and it turns itself off (I usually pop a battery out just to be sure).

    At $75 USD plus shipping, it costs somewhat more than your Walmart bike tail light — but how much is your life and safety worth?logo

  • Alex Chen – Central Park South Center Drive

    Posted on June 30th, 2015 admin No comments

    An Alex Chen lithograph, “Central Park South Center Drive” — mine, and mine alone!  (well, except for a couple thousand other copies…)

    20150617_105244We’re just back from a Baltic Cruise on Royal Princess.  In one of the ship’s contests, I won a $100 certificate for an art auction.  I hadn’t gone to any of these on previous cruises, so this was an incentive to see what it was about.

    I sat with our tour organizers, Larry and Linda Isenor, who had attended the auctions on other cruises and had purchased several works.   At this auction, pictures were selling for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  Not for me!  I wanted to give Larry and Linda my certificate and leave, but they assured me that there would be more reasonable items later.

    Near the end, some unreserved items (no preset minimum bid) came up, and I bid my $100 for “Central Park South Center Drive” by Alexander Chen, a numbered and signed lithograph, matted and framed.  In the end, I got it for $135 less my certificate, which I thought seemed to be a good deal.  I also paid $35 USD for an appraisal, which will be mailed to me later.


    CP Center Drive by Alex Chen, acrylic, 2012

    The work was a “Take Off”, meaning as is/where is.   It would have cost $90 as baggage on the plane, so I removed the  big, heavy, beat-up black frame and discarded it and the glass.  The matted print, wrapped in cardboard, survived the trip home as cabin baggage!

    Now that I’m home, I looked up Chen, the “master of hyper-realism”.   A poster version of the print is worth $35 USD, while the numbered and signed prints run about $135.  Matted and framed, it might be worth around $300.  I’ll have to pay about $100 to have it re-framed.  Was I burned?  Or did I get a good piece of art for a good price?

    My Copy - 1926/2250

    My Copy – 1926/2250

  • Student hits bus driver in head, school spokesman wants driver fired.

    Posted on June 1st, 2015 admin No comments

    “A fed-up school bus driver hits the brakes and opens the door.  He tosses a backpack outside, then orders a 13-year-old boy off the bus, forcing him to walk home.”  So begins a report by 660 News dated 1 Jun 2015.  A 10-block walk home.  Big deal.

    It’s a tempest in a local teapot, but it kind of illustrates what’s going wrong in our education system.  I just watched the video of the kid punching and kicking another student then clouting the school bus driver in the head with a hockey bag. The incident was widely reported by local media.  Watch the video taken by the driver’s dash-cam turned inwards.

    Attacking the driver in such a fashion endangers the entire ridership of the bus. Granted there may be some issues with not delivering a students to his stop, but MO the driver’s action of ejecting the student(s)–which he appears to have done with firmness but without violence–was both fair and reasonable and provided immediate consequences.

    I also think that Edmonton Catholic Schools spokesperson Lori Nagi is way off the mark.  “The driver could have called 911″, she says.  Sure, involve already over-worked police staff in a minor matter. “He could have pulled over and waited for things to settle down.”  Sure, stop the bus and wait, and make everybody else on the bus late.  I don’t think so.

    The miscreant(s) involved were removed promptly and everybody else, I assume, got home safely and on time.  The driver appears to me to have acted for the greatest good of the greatest number of students.

    “The bottom line for our district is that safety of all students comes before anything else,” Nagy is quoted as saying.  Wow, letting students attack the driver of a moving school bus really ensures the safety of the other students.  But instead of demanding that the vicious little creepoid be charged with assault and suspended indefinitely, she wants the bus driver fired.   Yup, coddle the criminal, punish the victim.

    Her attitude of defending and supporting the juvenile delinquents and blaming the bus driver seems likely to encourage future misbehaviour because the little $@!#$s know that they can get away with it. To such students, a one-week suspension is not a punishment but a holiday.

    The bus driver was right and Nagy is wrong. Riding the school bus is a privilege, not a right.  Let ‘em walk until they smarten up.

  • The Mystery of Giles Early

    Posted on January 15th, 2015 admin 3 comments

    Giles Early or Earley lived with the Gray family for at least eight years.

    He first appears with the family in Norton, Kansas, on the 1875 state census, where he is listed as J. Earley, 7 (born c. 1868), Male, White.  According to this census, Early was born in Minnesota and came to Kansas from that state, so he did not come with the Grays from Illinois.

    He’s still there in 1880, age 10 or 11 (born c. 1869 or 1870) listed as Early Giles with Gray Nathan, Gray Sarah, Gray Alice, and Gray Addie.    He is shown on that census as born in Illinois, his father born in Ohio and his mother in Pennsylvania, same as Alice and Addie.  The earlier census is probably more accurate about his place of birth.

    He is mentioned in family letters  – “I don’t know where Giles went, he is as lazy as ever.” (Ella to JK, 13 Jan 1883; he would have been around 14).  Two years later, he’s gone.  He is not with the Grays on the 1885 state census, and I can’t find him elsewhere, nor can I find a death record.  Who was he and why was he raised by the Grays?

    Thomas Albert Gray recalls that a man named Early worked for the family in Millet, another clue that perhaps the families are related in some way.

  • 1910 Nostalgia

    Posted on December 19th, 2014 admin No comments

    Got another one of those emails filled with “statistics” of dubious value.   With accurate information from reputable sources so readily available online, it always amazes me that people will make up — and believe, and forward — shit like this.


    1910 Ford

    read all the statistics under the photo.

    This has only been 104 years ago…Amazing!!!

    1910 Ford

    Show this to your friends, children and/or grandchildren! 

    The year is 1910, over one hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes!


    Here are some statistics for the Year 1910:

    (applies to the USA)

    These “stats” are designed to make you nod and say, “Wow, I didn’t know that!”.   But DO you know that?  Are the “facts” that come in an anonymous, unsourced email accurate?


    The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.    Google “US Life expectancy 1910″ for the surprising answer.

    Fuel for this car was sold in drug stores only.  [False].  “The first public gasoline servers were simply called filling stations. They were just curbside hand pumps, and they began appearing in 1907…. The gas station started taking shape around 1910.  By 1920 it was well-defined. It was a small building with gas pumps in front. But it also offered supplies — tires, batteries, and oil. It offered simple services — lube jobs and tire patching.”

    Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.   Depends on what you mean by “bathtub”, I guess.  Up to the early 1950s, people bathed in a large copper or galvanized steel tub.  It was still a bathtub!

    Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.  Could be.

    There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved black porn roads.  False, and ridiculously so, but look it up yourself.   In 1910 alone, Henry Ford built and sold almost 20,000 cars! gives the total number of vehicles on US roads in 1910.  People who write these emails got no brains and do no research.  You got brains, so do a little research, find out how many miles of roads were paved (and be careful how you define “paved”: does it include macadam, brick, cobbles, etc.?) in 1910.

    The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.  I think whoever wrote hentai porn this reworked an email about 1850.

    The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower !   [True!]   If you google “world’s tallest building 1910″ you’ll get a different answer — but the Eiffel Tower is not considered a building.   Do you know what is the tallest structure in the world today?

    The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour. 

    Check the wages and prices here:  Or for some really detailed data, try

    The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.  At $0.22 hr,  that’s a not lot of hours each week (about 18 hours a week for fifty weeks gives $200 annually, in a time when the average work week was 45 hours).  The math doesn’t work — try it!  A lot of part-time work and unemployment?  Other sources disagree with these figures.

    A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,

    A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year,

    And a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

    More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME.     Perhaps many women would prefer to have a home birth rather than a hospital birth (and potential exposure to superbugs) — but are they given much choice?  I wonder what the infant survival rate was in 1910, compared to 2014, and the cost of a birth in 1910 vs 2014.

    Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!

    Instead, they attended so-called medical schools,

    Many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as ‘substandard.’   Yeah, the history of mobile porn modern medicine is a fascinating topic!

    Sugar cost four cents a pound.

    Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

    Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

    Check those prices — are they accurate?  The figures are readily available online.

    Then compare prices with the average hourly wage.  How long did a man have to work in 1910 at $0.22/hr to buy a dozen eggs and a pound of coffee? About an hour and twenty minutes.   With coffee at $10 a pound and eggs at $2 a dozen (in my corner of Alberta, anyway) a minimum-wage employee– US average 7.25/hr as of Jan 1, 2014–works about 1 hour and forty minutes. .  If anything we’ve lost ground.

    BTW, The average income is skewed upwards by all the millionaires and billionaires, then and now; the median income or modal income are more accurate measures.

    Most women only washed their hair once a month, [not sure how you'd prove THAT!] and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

    There was no such thing as under arm deodorant or tooth paste.   Google “toothpaste invented” or celebrity porn “invention of toothpaste”  and find out the truth about toothpaste in seconds!  Do the same for underarm deodorant.

    Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into the country for any reason.   [False?  True?]  The immigration act of 1910 introduced a measure by which all immigrants to Canada would have to possess at least $25 upon landing as a way of proving to government officials that they weren’t destitute.   Do we have similar provisions today, to prevent destitute immigrants from becoming “a burden on society” and sucking up resources best devoted to Canadian citizens?

    The five leading causes of death were:

    1. Pneumonia and influenza

    2, Tuberculosis

    3. Diarrhea

    4. Heart disease

    5. Stroke

    Probably true.  The influenza epidemic of 1911 apparently killed more people than died in WW1.  Check it out for yourself.

    The American flag had 45 stars.  Could be.

    The population of Las Vegas Nevada was only 30! False

    A search of the 1910 census for Las Vegas NV gives 3,333 residents in the census district (I didn’t bother to check municipal figures).  Demographia gives the population as 2000 in 1910.  Las Vegas was incorporated as a city in 1911, with a vote of 168 for and 57 against (total 225).  Either number is a far cry from the 30 given in the email.

    Crossword puzzles [false], canned beer [true], and iced tea [false] hadn’t been invented yet.   The first crosswords appeared in England during the 19th century, says this site. The first beer was available in cans beginning in 1935.[2]  “Seen as a novelty at first, during the 1870s [iced tea] became quite widespread. Not only did recipes appear in print, but iced tea was offered on hotel menus, and was on sale at railroad stations. Its popularity rapidly increased after Richard Blechynden introduced it at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.” ~ Wikipedia

    There was no Mother’s Day (sort of false, sort of true; the first was in Virginia in 1908 but it didn’t receive national recognition until 1914) or Father’s Day (likewise, also started in Virginia in 1908 and celebrated in various places until 1910, but only went national in the 1930s)

    Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write [false] and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

    This is easy to check by census data, which recorded the self-reported ability to read or write.  According to the NAAL, the 1910 illiteracy rate of persons over 14 was 7.7%.  That is roughly 8 of a hundred (2 out of 10 would be 20 out of a hundred) at a time when a person of 14 was expected to do a day’s work as an adult.  In 1910 a “good” education was Grade 6 to 8 and higher education was frequently unavailable or unaffordable,  so the number graduating from high school may not be relevant.

    Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.  Oddly enough, this may be true.  My genealogical work shows that  in the 1800s most farm families of any substance had a house servant and one or more “hired hands” as farm helpers.  Not sure about 1910.

    There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A. !   [false]

    I’ve seen similar nostalgically low figures in other emails–we want to believe that times were gentler then.  Sorry! Not so.  Several Internet sources  report a homicide rate in 1910 of 4.6 per 100,000. (Google “1910 homicide rate”). The U.S. census of 1910 reported a U.S. population of 92,228,496. Simple arithmetic reveals a homicide number of 4,242 for that year.

    (yes, people have changed) 

    Oh, maybe not.  Gossip still abounds, and people still regard the past with rose-colored glasses – but today people gleefully spread falsehoods to all their friends with the click of a Forward button!

    I guess people just want to believe that “things were better then” and are too lazy to seek the facts.   So I’ve done some of this for you.  Enjoy.

    Hey — before you forward this to everybody, why not check out one more of the “facts” in the list?


  • Football and Square Dancing

    Posted on October 25th, 2014 admin No comments

    Last Tuesday was the first lesson in our new square dance group at Devon, Alberta.  I’d rented a Bose L1 Compact to play with, and this was a good opportunity to test it out.

    To my surprise, when I turned down the music and was greeting the dancers, I could hear what sounded like a football game coming over the L1.    It was faint, and people could hear my voice fine, but they could also hear the radio.   We ignored it for the first part of the lesson, because when the music was playing, we couldn’t hear it much.

    During the lesson, I noticed that when I shut the mic off, the radio sound quit.  Aha!  At the first break, I changed to a shorter mic cord.  No more game in the background.

    I later asked the guy at Long & McQuade, where I had rented the Bose, and he said that it sometimes happened.  Could have been coming from the power in the building, and plugging into a different receptacle might have helped; could have been a cross-wired mic cord, and I could check the connections (did that when I got home, all okay); but changing the cord showed that the first cord was just the right length to be an antenna and pull in the radio signal.

    Would never have dreamed that could happen — but at least I had a spare cord and was able to fix the issue quickly and still look fairly professional.



  • Mixer

    Posted on October 5th, 2014 admin No comments

    Multimix8USBFX, $150 with free shipping from Axe Music

    Mixer arrived, Alesis Multimix8USBFX from Axe Music in Edmonton, $150 with free shipping.   Good deal.   Having fun playing with all the settings.  A bit disappointed in the effects, which are more limited than I expected: many of the settings sound identical.   Maybe they’ll be better with the Bose?

  • Event on Facebook

    Posted on September 27th, 2014 admin No comments

    I added an event on Facebook.  First time!

    Took me a while to find it on my page.   I’ll make it easy:  Go HERE


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