David Thompson


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November 16, 2007


Dutch Canuck

Re: Beards and Moustaches,

How very Prussian, circa 1914. That Jurgen Burkhardt fellow must be a lot of fun in crowded elevators...

What do women think of this kind of anachronistic human peacockery? Years ago I grew a beard while on a long business trip, and my wife refused to kiss me when I came home. I paid my barber to remove it the next day.


On the matter of the 14" Faber-Castell Novo-Biplex 2/83 N.

Well, well, well. I see where over at "The Slide Rule Universe" web site [1] they have an entry for my Faber-Castell Novo-Biplex 2/83 N model in their Faber-Castell page [2], which saves me the trouble of capturing images of mine, since when I tried scanning it the result was out of focus.

[1] http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/sruniverse.html
[2] http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/fc.html

Here are pictures of the slide rule along with it's leather belt-sheath and accessory scales [3], the other side with its included instruction manual [4], and the original Faber-Castell 2/83 catalogue pages [5&6]:

[3] http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/slide7/226-fc-2-83-n.jpg
[4] http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/slide7/226-fc-2-83-n-b.jpg
[5] http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/european-catalogs/170-fc-4.jpg
[6] http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/european-catalogs/170-fc-5.jpg

The Slide Rule Universe says, of the FC 2/83 N:

"One of the nicest plastic body rules ever made, with anodized adjustable aluminum end braces, duplex 5/4-line cursor, two color (red/black) scale markings, and trademark mint green stripe on primary scales (both sides), plus additional blue stripes on the A and B scales, and massive 2 1/4" wide body.

"This rule also has expanded W square root scales, for both the square root of x and 10x, and raised rubber bumpers to prevent cursor scraping, and to give the rule grip on a desktop. The rule also has finger-grip areas on the slide for better movement.

"Body is fully alignable at the aluminum endpieces. The rule was packaged in either a green plastic display case or a green leather case, with an accessory scale and manual.

"Rule is self documenting on right hand side for all scales. A very powerful and beautifully made log log rule, equal to the K+E 4181-3, Deci-lon and Post versalog 1460, if not far better. Has pythagorean scale (P), expanded square scales, folded scales and scale over-ranges.

"There are 30 scales and 11 cursor lines; on the front: T1, T2, K, A, DF, [ CF, B, CIF, CI, C, ] D, DI, S, ST, and P, and on the back: LL03, LL02, LL01, LL00, W2 [ W2', CI, L, C, W1', ] W1, LL0, LL1, LL2, and LL3."

Thirty-three years, and she still works like new. Apparently not all my youthful choices were wrong, at least I picked a good slide rule.

Which reminds me of Miss Gwendoline Lamour performing her lovely little fan dance to these "Smoke Ring" lyrics by K. D. Lang --

Where do they go, the smoke rings I blow, each night?
What do they do, those circles of blue and white?
Why do they seem to picture a dream above?
Why do they fade, my fantom parade, of love?

Puff, puff, puff, puff your cares away.
Puff, puff, puff, night and day.
Blow, blow them into air, silky little rings.
Blow, blow them everwhere, give your troubles wings.

Oh little smoke rings I love, please take me above, with you.

Take me with you.

-- Where'd I put my pipe? I mean, nice fans, eh? Time for a bowl of "Ach Laddie", my favourite tobacco. (Note that while this video is hardly shocking, it is adult content, and so may not be suitable for some contexts. Your office may vary ;-)

Miss Lamour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtae5BlUmgM

Related image:


Dutch Canuck

Hey Vitruvius:

Those are beauts! I don't have mine anymore, alas. Shortly before I graduated, HP released its first affordable programmable calculators, and the slide rule got chucked, silly me. I've kept the HP however, and it still works even though it's nearly 30 years old. As David's links on the LED watches show, it's pretty unusual for electronic gear to survive such a stretch and still be in working condition.

Now, these were not your standard engineering items, but here are some slide rules for the Dr. Strangelove on your Xmas list:


For a couple of years back in the 90s, I used this image as my computer's desktop picture. Got a few double-takes:



Indeed, Dutch Canuck, I have a working HP 45 and HP 67 - http://www.hpmuseum.org/67.jpg - on my desk. I purchased them in '74 and '76 (I got the 67 on the first day it was available in Canada, from, believe it or not, the Hudson's Bay Company, est. 1670).

The old HP, it can reasonably be argued, was my favourite company ever. By the mid '70s they had become the best providers of EE test and measurement equipment ever -- "The HP Way". I wrote to HP in '76 about a job, and they said finish your masters first, and by then I was running my own company, so that never quite worked out.

By the way, there's an interesting article on volvelles at the American Scientist magazine here - http://tinyurl.com/2arhgh - I've got a couple in some box in the basement somewhere, alas, there's no reasonable way I can find them to scan them in right now -- you should see the crap I've collected in my basement.

And then I've got my dad's pocket Pickett slide rule with leather case from when he was in Architecture at the U of Manitoba in the early '50s, which is extra nice, because, well, you know, it was dad's, and he's designed at least a couple basilicas and hospitals since then, so, you know, it carries some weight disproportionate to its size.

Dad always says ethics are the most important thing for your reputation -- and he's correct -- thank's for clueing me in, dad.


Oh and by the way, in '76 the 67 cost $670.
You tell that to kids today, they won't believe you.


And now we shall return to, as Dutch Canuck put it, "anachronistic human peacockery", to which I must say, I disagree. It is one of the sadder moments in my life when I reflect on the male disaster caused by King Camp Gillette and his invention of the safety razor.

I do not understand males who take the time to scrape their natural fur from their epidermis on a daily basis. Chicks don't like it? Well then, they should just learn to grow up. Sure, some of the waxed absurdities shown at the mustache championships are silly, but then championships tend to be like that.

But how 'bout this guy: http://tinyurl.com/yoyf88


Wait, here's a cleaned up image: http://tinyurl.com/3yvzpb
I printed it on some 25 pound cream stock.
I think I might frame it.
"Best drawing of a human being ever."


And there I was thinking that the slide rules would be overshadowed by the feats of Karate Monkey.


How 'bout Miss Sally Rand's fan dance at the 1934 Chicago World's Fair. And I'll admit, she's a better fan dancer than Miss Lamour, but the lyrics aren't near as good (there aren't any):


The Thin Man

Aah those HPs sure were expensive.

My own particular favourite (and my first calculator, in '76) was the mighty "Sinclair Scientific". It had a fixed mantissa and exponent display and used reverse polish notation to enter the calculation operators. So to multiply 6 and 9 you entered 6+9* and would get the result 5.4 01 (5.4 x10^1)

Best of all, I saved £5 (more than a days wages from my saturday job) by building it from a kit!

My recollection is that the kit form cost £14.99 and the pre-built model was £19.99

The chip was achingly slow. Asked to perform anything but the simplest calcualtions, the display would go blank for several seconds, but it was very cool in its white plastic case and was about a third of the size and weight of the average calculator at the time.

I wish I still had it.

wayne fontes

The karate monkey's a wimp. The trunk monkey would kick his ass.


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