Friday, January 29, 2010


It's a little cold today, ~25 degrees Fahrenheit, and on the Metro ride in I ended up walking behing someone who had apparently taken a bath in cologne. The first thing that popped into my head was "How is that even volatile under these conditions?", followed closely by "I'm really glad I won't be around that guy when he's in a warm building."

I think maybe I need to get out more and do some non-science things.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

that's the key 2

After the mild debacle the other morning, I wasn't too surprised to find yet another problem on the way home. Apparently the taillight doesn't come on when the run circuit is jumped, and nothing else. This little tidbit was conveyed to me by a nice motorist who took the time to tell me on my way home at night. I wish I had known that before dark, but at least there were no issues due to it.

I did a small bit of research, and found I just needed to jump four of the five wires in the starter. Conveniently two of those wires come from one being split after the ignition connector that I was jumping already, so I just needed to connect the two pairs at the junction connector. Instead of making two different wire jumpers, like the little piece of shit I was already using, I cut the Molex type connector off of the old broken ignition, soldered the ends together, and after some heat shrink I had my new key.

Which should last me until the weekend when I have time to actually work on the ignition switch. I even cut the tooth off of the connector so it doesn't lock in place, and I can remove it in only several minutes of dicking with it in the parking lot.

Pretty swank, huh?

If I'm not mistaken, I now have the key to a great number of motorcycles out there. Just proves to me how important it is to lock the bike down to something.

Monday, January 11, 2010

that's the key

My motorcycle was stolen this last summer, and miraculously found and returned two months later. I was going to write about the repair process, but after I started I figured no one would give a shit but me. However, today something funny happened related to all of that, so I'm going to share.

The thieves apparently kept the bike and rode it themselves, as opposed to stripping and selling it. To bypass the ignition, they simply removed it and wired in a standard style wall mount light switch from a house; inelegant, but effective. Motorcycles are expensive to repair, and parts from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) are often overpriced, and occasionally underquality, versus aftermarket parts. I did most of the repairs myself to save money, but I did have some parts ordered from Suzuki and put on by a good local shop. One of those parts was a new ignition.

The new ignition started to act up shortly after installing it and then it getting rained on a few times. I blew it off, since I had had the old ignition in the same configuration for several years with no problems. Now, after getting snowed on and not being used for most of a month it doesn't seem to work at all. Yesterday I thought I would be clever and put a switch on in a similar fashion to the thieves, but actually do a good job. I ran to Radio Shack, got some parts, and went home and cobbled something together. Preliminary tests were ok, and I left it for today's morning commute all based on this switch:

Now if it had worked fine, I would obviously not be writing this. It worked well for a while then died in a somewhat dramatic sputtering fashion while zipping along today. Luckily there was a bit of notice, so no big surprises came. I stopped (of course), and since it was ~30 degrees out, I wanted a quick fix to get on my way. A moment or two's poking and prodding confirmed that my switch installation job was probably shoddy, and I made the simplest shortcut I could with the parts at hand:

behold - my new key

Oddly, it occurs to me that this is probably about as secure as a real key, due to the ease with which one can roll off or hotwire a motorcycle anyway. Someone who recognized what was missing and what to do about it would not be slowed at all by the most complicated ignition system, however everyone else should be confused as shit by the current set up.

Friday, January 8, 2010

what kind of horseshit is this?

I was reading my ASAPs today and happened upon K. N. Houk and N. K. Garg talking about indoles. I've had a couple of projects about them, and I'm always interested to see what people have to say about installing things at the 4-position. It's a difficult position to access, and a lot of drugs and natural products are functionalized there. The first table dealt with just that:

They didn't label which isomer was preferred in the yield column, so I assumed that it was left number to left product, and right number to right product. It also makes sense since the C-5 substitutions are almost always preferred over the C-4. My eyes drifted to the "C-5 preferred" in the far right column before I had read what the column actually was. I was confused, since C-5 is generally preferred, and it seemed like every other case showed C-5 preference. Momentarily excited I thought that maybe all the other cases were C-4 specific, and this was the lone C-5 in a very poorly labeled table! I saw the superscript b , looked to the bottom of the table to see what it denoted, and wonder of wonders it says "Attack at C-5 is favored (see the SI)." That amount of unneeded and uninformative redundancy is among the stupidest things I've seen lately.

Nowhere else does it give any real information about the reactions, or what the table really means, however ti does say to look at the "SI" elsewhere. Two superscript references to the same thing. How efficient, and vacuous.

I got the "SI", which I assumed was the supporting information, and found the following jewel:

What the fuck is that? Why would you even do that? How hard would it have been to put it in anyways? Why wouldn't you just put the number for the reference right in table as opposed to the completely uninformative "b"? The reference is already mentioned in the paper and wouldn't have even needed any additional text.


edit: Forgot to put Garg's name in the initial link to spread the blame.