The Place For All Things Fran
Bookmark this page and check back every day for something new!
Welcome to my new daily update page!  What does this mean?   This is the place where I will post things of interest, stuff about corsetry, science, the purely entertaining, my side projects both past and present, and any other thing that I feel like sharing.  Enjoy!

October 31, 2012
The New Normal

As the world economic situation settles into the realization that for most of us the new normal will be a more modest standard of living than we are used to, the world climate also continues to give us new harsh realities.  For the past 25 years the arctic ice has been steadily receding, reducing the salinity of the Atlantic Ocean and changing ocean currents, steadily raising the sea level, and adding to global temperatures as the reflectivity of the arctic decreases.  Storms like Sandy may be more common from now on, as the climate is undeniably getting warmer.  People the world over accept this reality - with the exception of the United States, where many choose to debunk the notion of Global Warming as a purely political issue.  As a scientist who keeps meteorology as a hobby, I can say there is a reasonable probability that superstorms like Sandy will not be so rare from here on out as we would hope they will be.  One thing that is for sure is that we in the US could not afford anything like this storm to happen every year, or even every 20 years.  The cost of repairs and the damage from this storm is at this point incalculable, but it is certainly in the many billions of dollars, and even worse than that a lot of people died. 
So, how much does dramatically reducing CO2 emissions really cost us all???

Postulating a High CO2 Earth -
North America in 3003, by Chris Wayan

October 30, 2012
Fran's Favorite Toy In History:
(Oct. 2012)
Mr. Wizard's Experiments In Electronics
In 1977 I had a wish list, and on top of that list was a box that was gathering dust on the shelves of Allen's Variety Store that had my attention all summer.  It was far out of the price range of my measly 50¢ a week allowance, but on Christmas of that year it ended up under the tree.   This toy was better than cool.....  It was so awesome that it would actually determine the course of much of my life.  This toy made me into a scientist!

October 29, 2012
The World of Tomorrow..... Today!

In this historic film, the Westinghouse Corporation saves the American way of life from the forces of evil communism at the 1939 World's Fair.  Super cool Fair footage ahead!  In retrospect you could see this film as depicting the America that never was dreaming of a tomorrow that would never come.  Many Americans today think that this is the way things really were back then, but is that true?   Looking at the more fervid political arguments of today and comparing to this great depression recovery era film, I ask: Has this country really changed that much, or is everything old new again??

From my collection - 
This tiny button was given to those who visited the General Motors Futurama at the 1939 World's Fair. 

October 28, 2012
Another cool project in the works is a converter for Soviet Vacuum Fluorescent Displays like this one on my bench:

 These larger USSR made displays use a lower filament voltage (+1.5VDC) and higher grid voltage (+25VDC) than most VFD's you would find, which makes using common 12V VFD clock drivers impossible.  I will have to make up an array of 30V PNP transistors for a step up display driver stage.  A lot of work for a clock, but hey -  ain't they perdy??!

October 27, 2012
As election day approaches here in the US we Americans are divided, not only politically, but between those that actually participate in the electoral process and those who do not, which are many.  The United States often shows low voter turn out, and there are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the Electoral College, because in the US a citizen can cast a vote for a presidential candidate, but they cannot actually elect them.  Depending on the state in which you live your individual vote may be a fraction of the value of one single vote in another state, or several times the value.  It is a crazy system that sometimes means (as it did in 2000) that a Presidential candidate can win the popular vote, but lose the election. 

So get out and vote - or don't bother to vote - because only you can make a difference - and your vote doesn't really count.  The system needs to be changed, but what elected official would ever act against a system that brought them into power?  Thank you, Electoral College, whomever you anonymous unaccountable people are.   Welcome to America$$$!  Now get out and vote.  Just because.

Here are two different views:


October 26, 2012

October 25, 2012
Professional Goofball -
Do not attempt at home.

October 24, 2012
This is my award from Guitar One magazine for my Cream Puff design in 2003.  This was an effects pedal that I took from initial concept to the first completed production units in just 20 days.  The Brooklyn Frantone Factory worked miracles back then.  Many of my dealers said that they would never sell a pink pedal made for girls, but the Cream Puff became my biggest seller of that year.  So there.

October 23, 2012
You can make a radio!
This is a 'foxhole radio' that I made years ago for an R. Lee Ermey challenge in 2003 to show that in fact you can make a radio receiver from common stuff - that is, so long as you have a crystal earset lying around.  The razor should be blued for greatest diode effect but they do not make blued razors anymore, so I substituted a modern hardened steel blade.  The graphite pencil point acts as the anode and you move it around the the razor to find the point of contact where the diode is detecting the best.  You tune the circuit by adjusting a wire which you tie to earth ground to contact on the coil, where the insulation has been shaved away - presumably by the razor before you put it in your now fully functional radio!

When I worked at an AM radio station in my 20's the bathroom was almost right under the broadcast antenna tower, so I made a similar modern tuned detector with a tiny speaker that I hung on the wall in there, and it played the station out loud 24/7 with no electricity.  Just the power of the rectified radio waves - which was at a strength of about 10 volts per cubic foot in the bathroom - and a good earth ground on the cold water pipe.  There is also the story of the oven in a trailer park that played country music near another radio transmitter I worked at that was local legend..... and true!  Tuned resonance at work.

October 22, 2012

October 21, 2012
I am busy sewing so no time for a post today.
What? You want what?
For 10 straight hours?
Well, alright.... but you guys are HARD CORE!


October 20, 2012
Here is a little video of the side project I have been working on for a few days in my lab - it is the breadboarded test of my universal 4-bit high voltage control system for Nixie displays.  All of the different parts of this system will become critical parts of a variety of controllers, for clocks, calculators, and who knows what else I will build down the road.  Plus I find it to be very pretty, and really cool to watch.  Who thought that counting up to 9 could be so much fun??  ONE nixie tube... TWO nixie tubes... Aaa Aaa Aaa! 

My prototype for my universal 4-bit Nixie display driver in its first two parts, showing the clock and buffer, BCD up/down counter, 4 bit bus, 0-9 counting bus, the high voltage transistor switching stages, the high voltage DC supply, and Nixie displays.  All this just drives one digit. 

October 19, 2012
I have an article posted about my Saturn V IU board, and as remarkable as the IU was with all of its innovative autonomy, the mother of all modern computing devices was much smaller.  The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was about the size of a briefcase, and it represented the utterly impossible.  It was a computer that was conceptualized at the start to be made from components that did not yet exist, and to do tasks that no computer had ever done, and the lives of Astronauts would be on the line.  The highest stakes ever played in electronics brought about the AGC, but it was almost asking too much too soon to even become a reality.  Here is a great documentary in three parts about the AGC from a series that I highly recommend.  One thing that they do leave out in the documentary (sorry to be a spoiler) is the development of the DSKY - the revolutionary display/keyboard that acted as the interface for Astronauts to program and read the AGC. 

Oh - and check out the site of the guy that went and built his own AGC from scratch!  Yes, it works!

October 18, 2012
Pppssshh!  Stupid science with your dumb stupid big dumb science face.


October 17, 2012
Here is the amazing story of discovery from the medial case of an unfortunate young woman who got an infection from an amoeba that was infected by a virus that was infected by another virus that had a cold, of sorts.  Yes, as it turns out even a virus can get the flu..  and clean your contact lenses as directed.

Jumping DNA rides aboard a virus, which targets a giant virus, which infects an amoeba, which infected a woman’s eye

October 16, 2012
One lump for me.... and one lump for me worms.  Doooooo!

October 15, 2012
There is an ethereal philosophy to the inter-connectedness of all things, which when you delve into the realm of physics becomes not so ethereal after all.  The invisible forces that cause absolutely everything are in fact just essential connected parts of the whole; a part of every component of our universe both vast and minute, and all bleeding together in a cauldron of forces, excitations, and fields.  That is our world - and ourselves - in a nutshell!

Listen to
The Fransworld Internet Radio Program
for the week of October 14, 2012.

This week I discuss the idea of weight control with a corset, I elaborate on my recent article about tightlacing and young people, and I talk about the story they had about corsets on the ABC Program 20/20 last Friday.

October 14, 2012
- Felix Baumgartner's jump live -
He Did It!  Highest Freefall ever, fastest freefall ever,
and the highest human balloon flight.  Way to go Felix!

October 13, 2012
Sunday morning at 8am EST will be Felix Baumgartner's next attempt at the world freefall record, and I will have the video here live!

October 12, 2012
Today's song is Jackie by Scott Walker (of the famous Walker Brothers) recorded in 1967.  What would you be?  Me too.


October 11, 2012
Earlier this week It's Okay To Be Smart's Joe Hanson was interviewed for Fact or Fictional about the plausibility of the film Armageddon.  In the film, NASA is portrayed as an organization incapable of detecting a Texas sized asteroid only days away from hitting the Earth.  While that is unrealistically inept, before Armageddon there was an even less favorable fictitious portrayal of NASA's competence, where even Gilligan (Bob Denver) could end up lost in space on the NASA dime.

"I said LUNCH not LAUNCH!!!!"

October 10, 2012
Yesterday's last minute abort of Felix Baumgartner's attempt at breaking the world free fall record was a bit of a disappointment, with no new date yet announced for the next try.  It is cool that Colonel Joe Kittinger is part of this daring team, as he was the first man to free fall from the edge of space at 102,800 ft. in 1960.

October 9, 2012
According to the Guinness Book of World Records the BBC show Top Gear is now the most viewed factual show (as Jeremy Clarkson would say:) In the World!

But did you know about Clarkson Island?????

October 8, 2012
There are two machines that have been running continuously for the past 35 years without any human maintenance, and as amazing as that might be in itself, these two machines have spent those years in deep space.  Voyager 1 and 2 are still operational, and scientists at JPL still communicate with both spacecraft.  Voyager 1 is the fastest moving man made object, and both it and Voyager 2 are now at the very edge of our solar system, traveling through a completely unexplored area known as the Heliosheath, where the solar winds from our sun stop, and the final barrier to the Bow Shock, where the particles of interstellar space meet our Sun's influence.  Both of these spacecraft will soon leave our solar system forever, and the plutonium that powers both spacecraft could provide enough power for them to stay in contact with Earth through 2025.  It is a good thing that machines have no feelings, because I have often wondered how lonely it would be all the way out there in interstellar space.  One thing I do know is that it is severely friggin cold!

October 7, 2012
It is a beautiful blue world inhabited by an intelligent civilization.

October 6, 2012
Here is my Frantone Model A tube amp in action, and also showing the real time bias meter on the side which displays the peak current of each 300B output tube, and the 6HU6 VU meters which indicate total volume output of each channel out in front on the amp itself.  I am playing my original pressing vinyl copy of the classic Thomas Dolby LP The Golden Age Of Wireless.  More on the amp here -

The Fransworld Internet Radio Program
For the week of October 1, 2012
In this installment of the Fransworld Internet Radio Program I discuss some of the challenges of photographing corsets and of keeping my website current, and I also talk about website ranking and making a website compatible with Google and other search engines. Lastly I elaborate on the recent article I posted about the culture of off-the-rack corsets and the problems that they cause. Go Bespoke! And thanks for listening!

October 5, 2012
The Three Little Pigs may have had some ideas about building materials, but today Top Gear's James May is going to build his house out of something that even the Big Bad Wolf would have to pause and ponder before trying any kind of huffing.

October 4, 2012


October 3, 2012
This week's video from Minute Physics is about something we all have seen, but posing a question about it that people rarely ask.  The universe is full of stars and galaxies - so why is it so friggin dark out there?   I already know the answer - but this video does an excellent job of explaining why space is so dark....  as seen with the human eye anyway.

October 2, 2012
If you follow my daily updates you know a lot about the Octopus, how it is a master at camouflage and that it sports the biggest brain in the invertebrate world - but they are also very clever thieves, as these videos dramatically illustrate:

October 1, 2012
Master impressionist Stevie Riks shows you how to do Paul McCartney! Okay-alright!  Dooooooo!


To view previous posts go to the
Fransworld Daily Updates Archive

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