Personal Histories

I have been reading the New Yorker magazine for about as long as I can remember. I like the cartoons and I read the movie reviews every week, but my favorite are the Personal Histories. I’m not sure what the criteria is for these. Sometimes the writers are famous, sometimes they aren’t. They don’t seem to occur with any regularity, and I sometimes miss them. In fact I see a bunch I hadn’t noticed during the pandemic. In fact, on the web site I see there are two slightly different categories, one subtitled “Essays and Memoirs” (under “culture” in the URL), even thought they all seem to be essays and memoirs. You may need a subscription to read these.

Personal History

Personal History (Essay and Memoirs)

Astor Place Riot

I might have taken more interest in history if this sort of thing was taught is schools. I had never heard of the Astor Place Riot. From Wiki:

The riot resulted in the largest number of civilian casualties due to military action in the United States since the American Revolutionary War, and led to increased police militarization (for example, riot control training and larger, heavier batons). Its ostensible genesis was a dispute between Edwin Forrest, one of the best-known American actors of that time, and William Charles Macready, a similarly notable English actor, which largely revolved around which of them was better than the other at acting the major roles of Shakespeare.

Mower Batteries

Was away for a while and have been busy with other things and haven’t had time to wrap up the electric mower project. Just went to give it a quick test drive, since I hadn’t tested the brake switch that shuts off the motor. Good news is that it works, the bad news is one of my two batteries is dead, or at least pining for the fjiords. Was able to drive around on 12V, but slowly.

The battery was old and was the original starter battery for the mower when it ran on gas. I bought a second just like it to get up to 24V, but it wasn’t really ideal for the job. I’m thinking of options, including some nice new lithium batteries. They are expensive (relatively) but my next project was to play around with some solar panels and battery storage, something that could be useful here in Texas. I have heard of talk of people using their electric car batteries as home storage, so why not use a riding mower? Ok, maybe just to power my shed.

Fracking in Texas

I was looking for info on fracking in Texas. There have been large numbers of bankruptcies for years and my understanding is that the whole endeavor never made money, but consumed hundreds of billions of dollars in investment. Still looking for that data (although a count of bankruptcies is easy to find).

Ran across this really good article from the New Yorker from 2018 that is worth a read. A bit dated but it seems to spell out the end for the fracking boom and perhaps oil and gas in Texas. My favorite quote (and there were a few good ones):

“Societies that depend on natural resources tend to have certain inherent problems. The limited concentration of wealth—whether from oil, coal, diamonds, or bauxite—often leads to corruption and authoritarianism. Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Louisiana are primary examples.”

The Dark Bounty of Texas Oil

Threads and Nuts

I bought a quarter inch aluminum plate and mounted it to the blade unit using some muffler clamps (they were exactly the right size). This should let me mount the blade unit at an angle. I was able to re-use these hook shaped bolts. The distance from maximum to minimum height looks good with maybe 3″ – 4″ maximum height, which is about what the old mower had. All I needed was some nuts to fasten the bolts to the plate. Had some that were the right size, but the threads were wrong. They weren’t metric so not sure what the issue was. I see there are different thread sizes and this was obviously more threads per inch than my standard bolts. I ordered some on Amazon, but somehow ordered 5/8″, which is way too big. I would say I meant 5/16″ but it really seems to be 1/4″ (4/16″). Will have to wait for another Amazon cycle. Will probably order some conduit to secure and protect the wires and then that should be it for version 1.0