None! Just links, and feelings about how weekends as a parent are *so* drastically different than I'd imagined.
The most clicked link from last week's issue (~21% of opens) was Habitat 67, an iconic apartment complex in Montreal. On The Prepared's Members' Slack this week, an exciting thread about ways to ship high value electronic equipment (~$400k for a ~half a cubic meter shipment). If you're curious what Pelican cases, chartered semi trucks, and track-and-field starter pistols have in common, join us today :)
Also! We're starting our next book in the Members' reading group: The Innovation Delusion, which has been referenced in this newsletter twice before and is, based on the introduction, quite relevant to our collective interests.
Planning & Strategy.
- An overview of Foxconn’s renegotiated deal with Wisconsin. “Voters were clearly unhappy with the initial Foxconn deal and they made it known at the ballot box, leading to a very much scaled-back version that puts them at way less risk, on paper. But they still aren’t going to reap much in the way of economic benefits, plus have already lost what they’ve sunk into helping Foxconn get to this point.”
- Neri Oxman is starting a new lab in NYC “that will be used for a novel research and design practice which seeks to foster systemic changes in the built environment by radically realigning methods of design and production with the natural world.”
- If you’re promoting something in a typically male-dominated industry on Facebook, your ads will tend *not* to be served to women unless you specifically target them - something Facebook will then charge you a higher price for.
Making & Manufacturing.
- I’m looking for a powder coater who can do bicycle (read: high) quality work on a steel frame that’s about 2 m long. Must have in-house sandblasting and the ability to turn a project around in under 2 weeks; get in touch here.
- A very rad concept for soft robots made of long, flexible plastic tubes that, when filled with air, telescope out into hard-to-reach areas. This came through the Members’ Slack after a whole thread on inflatable stuff: First Air Giants’ huge, playful creatures; then Festo’s tentacled AirJelly; then an AliExpress store full of large and totally eclectic inflatable toys, sculptures, and structures.
- A good, simple explainer on wire wrapping, an alternative to soldering that quickly creates durable, reliable, and lead-free electrical connections.
- A quick video on how split-flap displays work.
- A good blog post on shop-made cauls, which are just 2x4s that are cambered and then used with clamps during woodworking glue-up.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- A very high quality time lapse aerial video of an 89.8 m long (roughly ⅓ the size of old Panamax) cargo vessel being torn down for scrap.
- Tesla Model 3s apparently have no mechanical fallback mechanism for opening the rear doors during a power failure.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A pretty rad visualization showing how the USPS expanded westward and, as the author argues in the accompanying book, “made the nineteenth century American West.” I also highly recommend scrolling through Gossamer Network, the companion website built around the same data; it had never occurred to me that visualizations of historical post office openings (and closings) would tell such clear stories.
- A pretty good video tour of a cold start of a 300 MW natural gas “peaker” power plant in Finland. Peakers are smaller power plants that are usually left idle and then started quickly (under 15 minutes without anyone physically present, in the case of this plant) to respond to short-term grid demand; they typically burn natural gas and have efficiencies between 30 and 42%. Note the “leftover heat” coming out of the exhaust at around 6:36: that’s thermal energy being lost into the atmosphere, something that you yourself can witness by biking past your local peaker plant on a hot summer afternoon. Of course, the fossil fuel-burning power plants that provide the US’ baseline power mostly use a combined cycle and therefore have efficiencies between 50 and 60% - still nothing to write home about, but IMO worth turning your lights off for during the 90-500 hours per year when peaker plants are typically on.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- Some interesting data on common misperceptions about how to reduce individual greenhouse gas emissions. A rather shocking number of respondents believe that recycling produces a meaningful reduction in carbon footprint (it doesn’t); many people aim to convert internal combustion engines with electric vehicles when the real benefits come from not owning a car at all; people tend to underrate the emissions in air travel and fail to consider how much CO2 can be attributed to having a lot of kids and owning pets. Also: “According to research, going to a plant-based diet makes more of a difference to your carbon footprint than eating local, but the public guess this is the other way around.” Related, a rather discouraging 2019 ProPublica piece on forestry preservation carbon offsets: “If the world were graded on the historic reliability of carbon offsets, the result would be a solid F.”
- An in-depth investigation into MLB’s efforts to, um, “performance engineer” baseballs made by Rawlings, which MLB partially owns. There’s some pretty great materials, process, and supply chain reverse engineering in this story, but I especially liked Rawlings’ production date notation system: Each baseball’s date of manufacture is printed inside the leather shell, but Rawlings obscures the date by mapping [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0] onto [B,L,A,C,K,H,O,R,S,E].
- Lant is preserved urine, and it has more than zero historical uses.
- Turbo Encapsulator, a parodic video describing a fictional, over-the-top engineered object.