Daily Archives: February 10, 2017

So What’s Your Bacon Number?

And No, it’s not how many strips you had for breakfast.

Well, the frack stuff is mostly gone and the coil tubing stuff is mostly here. But there are still a few dribbles and drabs of both wandering in and out.

Luckily for me, but unluckily for Art, my daytime counterpart, the big stuff can only be moved on Texas roads during daylight hours. Or at least from one half hour before sunrise until one half hour after sunset.

Which means Art got the brunt of the traffic while my night should be relatively calm.

I mentioned a while back that I was trying to come up with a better gate vehicle sensor. Although our Mighty Mules normally work great, they’re still at the mercy of any RF interference, like we’re seeing at this gate.

Day in and day out, the most reliable system seems to be the old-fashion gas station bells with the rubber hoses, exactly why our previous gate guard company, Gate Guard Services, still uses them.

But with that reliability, comes some problems. Like hundreds of feet of fairly expensive rubber hose. At least if you want the ends out far enough to give you ample warning of an incoming or exiting vehicle so you can…you know…wake up. 

So I decided to combine the best of both the purely mechanical and purely electronic systems.

So I still will use a length of rubber hose as the actual vehicle sensor laying across the road. But instead of running hose all the way back to the bell, I will connect the hose to a mechanical pressure switch.

Available in various pressure sensitivities and costing $20-30, they will momentarily close a switch contact when a vehicle runs over the hose. This way I can just run wires back to the control box.

I can buy a 1000 ft. spool of twisted pair wire for about $50, giving me as much as 500 ft. of warning in either direction, just pulling out as much as I need, and then winding it back on the spool when I’m done at that gate.

And even the control box is simple.  A small plastic box, a wall wart 12v power supply and a couple of buzzer or chime modules with different tones to let you differentiate between ins and outs.  Kind of like the doorbell modules where the front door one goes “Ding Dong” and the rear door goes “Dong”.

If you wanted to get a little fancy, for a few dollars each you can buy those record and playback modules that come in the greeting cards that let you record your own message. Then you could have one saying, “Vehicle Coming In” and the other saying “Vehicle Coming Out”.

So it’s something I’ll be trying out on our next gates later this year.

So what is your Bacon number?

A couple of days ago I was reading an article about the “Six Degrees of Separation” concept. First put forward in the late 1920’s, it says that any two people on earth can be connected by only five other people in between.

And computer simulations done in the 1970’s seem to show that you only need three degrees of separation to connect any two people in the US.

Just to clarify, a ‘degree of separation’ is one person to another. So if I know one person, that’s one degree. And if they know another person, I’m two degrees from that second person. And so on.

There’s even been a couple of games invented that use this idea, the most famous being “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Which is where your Bacon Number comes from.

The idea is to connect the actor Kevin Bacon to any other actor in as few degrees as possible, but only by using movies they were in.

For example, Kevin Bacon to Elvis Presley. This is an easy one.

Elvis Presley was in Change of Habit with Edward Asner.

Edward Asner was in JFK with Kevin Bacon.

So with Kevin Bacon always having a Bacon Number of 0, that means that Edward Asner has a BN of 1 and Elvis has a BN of 2.

And strangely enough if you want to add in plays (the movies of their day), you can give John Wilkes Booth (yes that one!) a Bacon Number of 5, or even a 4

JWB was in an 1863 production of Macbeth with Louisa Lane Drew.

Louisa Lane Drew was in a 1896 production of “The Rivals” with her grandson Lionel Barrymore.

Lionel Barrymore was in “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stuart.

Jimmy Stuart was in “Airport ‘77” with Jack Lemmon.

Jack Lemmon was in “JFK” with Kevin Bacon.

But someone else brought JWB’s Bacon Number down to a 4 with this shortcut.

Lionel Barrymore was in “Right Cross” with Kenneth Tobey.

Kenneth Tobey was in “Hero At Large” with Kevin Bacon.

But another game takes this to a more personal note, with someone picking a famous person from history, and then the rest try to link themselves to that person with the smallest Bacon Number, still using that concept.

For example, Jan and our son Chris, (not sure about our daughter Brandi) met Michael Jackson in Montgomery, AL when he came to the TV station where I worked in the mid 70’s. He was appearing in town and came by the station to do a promo.

So Jan has a BN of 1 to Michael Jackson, and oddly enough, a BN of 3 to Elvis Presley through Lisa Marie Presley.

For me, I was thinking more historical, and was surprised to find that I have a BN of 3 to Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin.

When I was 9 or 10 I met, shook hands with, and talked to Eleanor Roosevelt when she was on a book tour in Nashville, TN in the late 50’s. So that gives me this.

From me to Eleanor Roosevelt to FDR to Churchill and Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945. So a BN of 3.

Unfortunately Eleanor did not go to Yalta, otherwise it would have been BN of 2.

But I was astounded to find that I had a BN of 2 to Adolf Hitler from two different directions.

In the mid-60’s my father was working for Boeing on the Apollo project in Huntsville, AL. Boeing had a big party for the employees and my father took me along. When I found out that Werner Von Braun was there, I went and introduced myself in the stumbling German that I was taking at the time. (Hey, at least I didn’t call him a jelly donut like JFK called Berlin)

And since von Braun knew Hitler, that gives this.

Me to Werner von Braun to Adolf Hitler. So a BN of 2.

As for the other path, I mentioned a few days ago that I worked as a Broadcast Engineer at a black radio station (oh the stories I could tell) in Birmingham, AL in the early 70’s, and so got to meet Jesse Owens, the famous Olympic athlete who embarrassed the German athletes at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Contrary to popular ‘knowledge’, Hitler did shake Owen’s hand, because the Olympic Committee demanded it, but Hitler did refuse to ‘congratulate’ him.

Me to Jesse Owens to Adolf Hitler. So a BN of 2 there also.

Now that you’ve heard my Bacon Number stories, let’s throw it out to our blog readers.

What’s your shortest BN to a famous person?

Thought for the Day:

Why is it that it takes three men to make a conspiracy, but only one woman?