Dear Hephaestus: Can You Have a Look at my Carbs?

Riding home from Philly Emerging Tech yesterday (where I got to hear the CTO of the Obama campaign talk about their system, and where nerd hero Andy Hunt mentioned Nerd Merit Badges in his keynote, yay!), my sidecar rig started stumbling on acceleration. Dirty carbs? Water in the float bowls? Angry ghosts following me from Fort Mifflin? All three?

The problem got worse and worse, but it turned into the BEST BREAKDOWN EVER, as I was able to coast, spluttering and backfiring, with just enough momentum to roll down the service ramp into the underground volcano lair of Joe Litchko, master motorcycle mechanic and court magician at Main Line BMW. Joe was sitting up on his concrete dais, among his parts manuals, and he directed a friendly, bearded gaze at me as my bike died below his throne. Seriously, it’s like managing to collapse in the doorway of Hephaestus’ forge.

I’ve blogged about Joe before; last year, he was prepping an AWESOME Mercedes diesel for a round-the-world Great Race. Compare the picture of that car from last year with the beautiful, glossy, barn-burner below!

Joe Litchko's Volcano Lair

While I was waiting for Kate to come pick me up (thanks, Kate!) Joe showed me another project he had finished: a 1958 BMW Isetta, which is a single-piston microcar with one door that opens in the FRONT. The steering wheel is on a universal joint, so it swings out of the way:

Isetta swinging steering wheel

Joe put the 300cc Isetta together from 22 boxes of parts, each box containing multiple ziploc baggies, each bag containing a dented, rusty Isetta Molecule. Joe stripped all the parts, cleaned them, painted or powdercoated them, and assembled the whole car by squinting at parts microfiches. The car looks brand-spanking new. It’s super, SUPER awesome.

You can see some more pictures I took of the Isetta on Flickr. (have a look at the cloaca on the back.) What an awesome car! And what a lucky breakdown!

Dear Hephaestus: Can You Have a Look at my Carbs?

Meet the mustachioed, Danish father of room temperature.

This smilling, Danish scholar is professor Ole Fanger, whose 1970 book “Thermal Comfort” is the rock on which the whole edifice of modern HVAC is built:


Over on the coworkout blog, you can read more about:

  • The “Predicted Percentage of People Dissatisfied” (PPD) index,
  • The fct ratio, which takes into account the percentage of skin covered by clothing
  • The Sandex, which is an index that Randy and I are working on to measure the relative awesomeness of your local weather when compared to the weather in San Diego, CA.
  • The Sandex, automatically calculated from NOAA forecasts, will be used to answer the question: “Should we work outside tomorrow?”

Anyhow, if you’re interested in working outside this spring and summer — Fridays, generally, or whenever the Sandex tops 90%, then check out the coworkout blog, and follow @coworkout on Twitter!

Meet the mustachioed, Danish father of room temperature.