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2016/12/23

The EM Drive

NASA has recently admitted that the EM drive (electromagnetic drive) seems to be working, even though they don’t fully understand how. In fact no one really knows why, not the inventor nor the people that built it. Normally you can’t make forward motion without expelling something backwards, yet using only electric microwaves that’s exactly what the EM drive is doing. No gas, no explosions, no wind nor gravity, just a strange creation of force.

An interesting point is that gravity actually does this all the time. We don’t know how it works, it doesn’t need to expel anything backwards, but we’re so used to it we don’t question it. The EM drive is producing a similar effect, but as a new manmade invention people are not ready to accept it as fact like we do with gravity.

The race is on to see who can build an efficient and powerful EM drive, with the hopes of whizzing around the planets in a lightweight spaceship no longer burdened down by thousands of gallons of rocket fuel. Maybe this will lead to unlocking the secrets of gravity as well, and I can finally get my hands on a hover board!

From Postman

2016/12/20

Cold sky, hot coffee

We’ve entered the season for snowfall sightings, and feel good motorcycle rides. Huh!!? I’m often asked. Why would you ride your bike in such cold weather? It never really crossed my mind as strange, but to be honest it is quite cold.

Even when it’s cold though everyone still goes out to ski and snowboard though right. In fact it’s a great time to buy some fancy winter wear and experience the cold that isn’t always there. It’s the same with motorcycles. Everyone rides them for different kinds of fun…

Still countering the cold is a given.

Try on a wind breaker, try out a grip heater.

In the end it’s that can of hot coffee at the end that wraps it all together.

Riding under the cold sky for no real reason, past those outcroppings, through that nature, to sit on that bench. Warming your hands before opening the can with a pshh, and taking small sips. “Well it’s cold out, time to go home,” and cut through the cold winded kilometers to home.

From Pumping both wheels

2016/12/12

Stollen

Isn't food just wonderful.

An update from me who finds happiness in delicious food.

It’s already the season for Christmas. It’s always fun to see the illumination and the festivities in the city.

Every year when this season rolls around I find myself baking stollen. Stollen is a dessert bread from Germany with dried fruits mixed into the dough, and sugar spread over the surface. They are made with a massive amount of butter, making them a high calorie dessert. I wonder why high calorie desserts are so tasty.

Stollen last longer than most breads and are usually eaten starting a month before Christmas Eve, little by little as you look forward to a fun Christmas. I however do not have that kind of patience and usually end up eating them within a few days.

It’ll be Christmas soon! Why not get in the mood for Christmas by enjoying a delicious stollen.

From Creampuff Fingers

2016/12/01

Mini-cars and die-casting Part 1. A narrow and deep world

It was 28 years ago, around when we moved out of the Showa period into the Heisei period. In my case I had just graduated with an associates degree, didn’t have anywhere to go, and haphazardly ended up here at our company Akiba Die Casting where I was quickly put in charge of a big customer. For someone who sticks to their routine like me if was an adventure like experience. Though this customer was located in Gotanda (Tokyo), I was visiting their offices every Friday. For the beginner that I was back then it was surprising to be accepted so kindly by them and was taught a great deal in both technology and sales. Even now, though grateful, I have trouble sleeping whenever I go near Gotanda, but in a good way, hehe.

Now during that time there was a serious boom, a very bubbly period going on, and there were no weeks where we didn’t need drinks on a Friday night. Still, without fail I found my eyes locked on a certain shop’s sign on the way from Chidoriashi to Gotanda, despite having already passed their hours of operation. The sign read “Minicar Shop, Kojima” Having collected mini-cars since I was in elementary school it wasn’t the neon signs of the pubs that caught my attention as much as the block lettered signs of such shops.

It sounds like I’m making a big deal of nothing right. Back then though there may have been smaller hobby shops in Gunma-prefecture, but there certainly weren’t any specialty “mini-car” shops. Even if there had been a shop in Gunma back then it would have been a category far too unknown to the locales. I remember being impressed at how a shop could sell itself (or to be honest, that it could stay alive) solely on such a category as “Mini-car shop.”

Because of that I ended up visiting Mini-car shop Kojima every week, after business was over and before a round of drinks. The shop wasn’t that big but all of the cars seemed like I was seeing them for the first time, almost like gems. I’d look them over as we’d talk about the famous comics of the times, the knowledge of both father and son in regards to comics and mini-cars were truly inspirational sources of information for me back then.

Times have changed. Now it’s the year 2016. I only have a chance to visit Gotanda 2 or 3 times a year and for different reasons now. With Kojima having moved to West Ooi I rarely have a chance to stop by. Still I continue my collecting bit by bit (I’m unable to stop, being the proper explanation) with a collection large enough to draw cold glares from my family. Nowadays I can get a new mini-car into my hands with a computer or cell phone in no time. It’s convenient, but a bit lonely.

One day I was browsing an auction site when I spotted an old book of a series from my mini-car days. It was from Noboru Nakajima’s “Japan’s mini-cars”. The series is filled with Japan’s mini-car history. In other words, Japan’s zinc die casting history. This time I was able to get my hands on of the books. The book points out that in 1976 there was a period robust in the satisfaction of minicar collectors thanks to the arrival of Kado, Reen, and Rubicon... I have a couple of cars from Kado but who is this Reen and Rubicon?? Written in the book is “In June of 1976, ‘Rubicon’ first sold in Tokyo at the Kojima Toy Shop. Crafted by Keizou Kojima.” Wha? Hold on. After researching it “Kojima’s Toy Shop” was the Mini-car Shop Kojima I had visited for years! After almost 30 years to find such information feels like a role in some dramatic story. Such an important person fighting a war to change what was seen by most as just a child’s toy went totally unnoticed by me for all these years making me realize just how little I really know about the world of mini-cars. From then on I held a strong desire to get my hands on one of these “Rubicon” from Kojima’s shop who I loved so much.

However, finding something from 1976, 40 years ago, is not that easy. To make it worse very few of the cars were ever actually produced. Fellow collectors show off online, but shops actually selling them do not exist. None on any internet auctions. But I would not give up. I tried harder than I do even at work. I am blood type A, I can never decide what I want at restaurants, I end up going with what everyone else is ordering, but I would not go with defeat when it comes to minicars. Searching through all available data I found one for sale in Hiroshima prefecture, and got my hands around this “Rubicon” in May.

On the box it says RUBICON KOJIMA, the make being a Renault 4CV, the color a thin blue gray. The scale is the same all over the world, 1/43. The interior and the glass were left out, but the detail is glorious, a great example of the minicars of old (the weight is quite light, perhaps only my car is missing the interior and glass). Produced using white metal cast, with a rubber die, a centrifugal casting method. The material is an alloy of mostly tin, lead, and antimony. Different from die-casting the die cost is much lower, and can still produce fine details. It is however quite soft and gets dents and bends in it quite easily. The roof of mine has dipped a little which makes imagining a story easier (adds a nice flavor).

Well then, the car itself, Renault 4CV debuted in 1946 as a commoners car after the war and was a hit being produced through until 1961. In Japan Hino Automobiles procured a license and sold the Hino Renault making it a common site in cities at the time. The Rubicon Renault 4CV was produced and sold in 1976 making is a nostalgic purchase for salary men back then. The smart selection of Mr. Kojima makes my heart open up for him that much more.

With the Rubicon resting in my hand I think back to the times I’ve shared with Mr. Kojima and hope to have a chance to speak with him again soon.

The brand RUBICON is the name of a river in Italy. When Julius Caesar crossed this river to take over Rome heading towards Pompey spawning the phrase, Cross the Rubicon, meaning to make a tough decision. The title makes me feel the thought Mr. Kojima must have put into this car. It may not be related but when Caesar crossed the river it is said that he said “The die is now cast.” I may be reaching, but it seems to fit nicely with die casting and white metal casting. And it’s not just my daydreaming, this is said to be one of the founding words of die casting. Dice, or die, sounds a lot like the die, or mold, which is used in die casting. In other words a six-sided mold. Then casting or filling up makes die cast a pretty reaching word, or so I always thought, but the phrase from Caesar seems to fit just right. Die is cast more or less means you can only go forward from here, there is no return, just as the act of die casting finds. Making a tough decision and then only being able to move forward. It’s a fitting story of the life of a die caster. Once you push the manufacture button, there is no going back, the rest is left up to the heavens... such a meaning might be built it.

From ancient Rome to modern day, a narrow and deep world.

Rubicon Kojima Renault 4CV, size 1/43 Made in Japan using antimony

Alongside other Renaults

The car in the front right is DeAGOSTINI Renault 4CV Made in China. The picture looks good but the roof has tons of flow defects (hehe).

The car in the front back is Soldes, Alpine Renault A310 Made in France. I don’t know how many there are in Japan, but the car was made famous in the animation series Evangelion.

In the back left is a Tomy Dandy, Alpine Renault A442 Made in Japan. The real car won the 24 heures du Mans, 24 hour race in 1978.

These three are all 1/43 model zinc die cast cars.

From Lotus Fanatic

2016/11/11

Japan Diecast Meeting/Exhibition

2016 Japan Diecast Meeting/Exhibition Thursday, November 24th - Saturday, the 26th

Lately I had a firsthand experience where you think you’re paying attention but you miss the obvious. It happened while I was watching a baseball match, from game one for the first time in a long time. (The first match of the Japan series in which Ootani Shohei the pitcher/fielder was put in)

About an hour after the match started I got a Line message from one of my diecast buddies of none other than the baseball match I was watching. I though “Ah! This game is getting a lot of attention after all,” but it wasn’t the game he was pointing out, it was the advertisement for “diecast” in the background.

At first I felt like I’d been beaten by a rival company, but quickly turned that into appreciation for spreading the word “diecast,” which a lot of people still aren’t aware of, and for bringing up my line of work during prime-time.

Already two years have passed since the 2014 Japan Diecast Meeting as we prepare for this year’s Meeting/Exhibition at the Pacifico Yokohama.

Last time the Japan Diecasting Association’s booth was titled “From 1917,” the year diecasting is said to have been introduced into Japan, and had an array of diecast products from decades past that offered a priceless look back at the history of manufacturing.

This year they are titling it “To The Future,” and so I’m looking forward to getting to see some of the products still on the horizon.

There are of course diecast manufacturers at the meeting/exhibition, and those involved with diecasting machines and the facilities that operate around them, but also researchers, one-site improvement examples, and other interesting types of displays.

Of course fun for those of us involved in diecasting, but also an eye-opening experience for people unfamiliar with diecasting that shouldn’t be missed. (Entry is free)

From Jyoushin Electric Railside Resident

2016/11/07

Slowly fading consciousness

Calming down after lunch on a day off. I lay on a bed as my consciousness began to slowly fade.

It started with me thinking, “this is different than usual,” as my lower lip started going numb. After that my body started aching as the passing of time slowed down extremely. Bit by bit my consciousness faded away. Still, “I’m safe should something happen here,” I remember telling myself.

When I came to there were several people around my bed including a doctor. I had been unconscious for a short period it seems.

The blood donors room, I visit several times a year.

This time I had come to donate blood components but...

Blood component donating only removes certain parts of your blood, returning the rest to your body so not many people are affected by it, yet that was the start of this strange experience for me. Apparently around 1 in 100 people experience something like this so I was simply told “don’t be bothered by it and please come again.”

I felt that I was in great health, but perhaps there are problems I am not aware of. Perhaps my image of my health and reality are slowly growing farther apart as I continue to age.

Three months later, I donated 400ml blood without any problems. Furthermore, a few months later I tried donating blood components again and came through with no problems.

You get to try a variety of drinks for free and there are lots of comics laid out, so I like to think of it as a bit of a rest at a comic café.

For healthy individuals, by all means pay a visit. You get your blood tested regularly for free, which is certainly beneficial to you, and you may be saving someone else’s life, which is pretty awesome don’t you think. This month at Akiba Die Casting, the blood donors bus will be stopping by.

From No.258

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