Archive for the ‘Odd Explanations’ Category

Goats and Money

September 23, 2008

[Nothing’s more fun than starting off with a bunch of disclaimers, right?]

[The following does not address the US and global credit-crunch/mortgage-backed-securities-meltdown/Three-Hundred-Billion-Card-Monte-Scheme that is ongoing even as I post; not because I don’t understand it (I don’t, but I’ve never let that stop me yet); but because I can think of nothing more outrageous or nonsensical to say about it than what is already being reported as hard fact in the New York Times.]

[Nor does the following, which is purely hypothetical, bear any relation to anyone’s real financial status and/or dealings. Unless, by purest coincidence, it does, because I know nothing about said statuses and dealings and wouldn’t be able to tell.]

[The same goes for livestock values.]

Delores Loves Hydrangeas

Delores Loves Hydrangeas


Okay, so –

My friend Alfie works in the greater Washington area, owns her own home, and does not particularly care for hydrangeas. 

Let’s say that her house is worth some number of items for potential barter, say, 2500 goats (unneutered yearling milking nannies in good health; for further details, see fine print). Since Alfie & Mr. Alfie had saved and traded carefully for several years, they had 500 goats to buy the house with, and they were able to borrow the other 2000 goats from the Bank Of Seat Pleasant (at a fixed interest rate of 200 goats per annum). Thus Alfie’s house payments are 20 goats per month, at which rate she will have paid off the mortgage sometime after all the present goats have gone to goatie heaven. 

So what does the Bank of Seat Pleasant do with a bunch of goats?

Rafts, Ping-Pong Balls, and Radio Waves

September 9, 2008
[First off, I’m not a signal transmission engineer. I’m a mechanical engineer who knows a lot about metals and corrosion, a little about electrical stuff, and not so much about this (IMHO, unbelievably complex and arcane) signal transmission stuff.
My thanks to all of you in advance for not asking the myriad questions about the physics of signal transmission that I couldn’t  answer to save my life.]   
Waves rolling in

Waves Rolling In


(This is a truly wild and ridiculously oversimplified analogy, but it might be of some help to someone somewhere.)

A broadcast wave (radio, TV, etc) is really two sets of waves: the carrier wave, which is the one you tune your radio to (e.g. 91.5 MHz), and the audio wave, which is at a much higher frequency. 

You might be able to imagine it as something like if you guys were all on the beach, and I were out on a raft too far from shore for you to be able to hear me, but I wanted to tell you elephant jokes. If I had a bucket of red ping-pong balls on the raft, and a bucket of white ones, I could translate my elephant jokes into binary code and place a series of ping-pong balls on the passing waves, using red for one and white for zero (somehow also making sure that they would arrive in their proper sequence). If someone there on the beach with you (let’s call him “Bill”) could then translate them back from binary to English, you’d all get to hear why elephants wear red tennies. :) 

find out why, and read on