Square Space Ships and Tuna and Bacon Sandwich; Failure

I am a recovering engineer and sometimes the absurdness of writers and artist (I write and muddle art) get to me. You’ll have to forgive me.

There’s a new book out by a writer I read. On the cover of the book is a space ship that has square parts. It’s not going to happen. And it’s not going to happen for the same reasons that there are not any square airships. With that statement, any writer that reads this blog is going to have a square airship on his next cover, and that cover will be unique. So send him to this blog. I need the readers.

The reasons there are no square airships are the same reasons there are no square children’s balloons. The reason is air pressure. You want the balloon to be as light as possible and cheap. The gas inside the balloon has to push against the material of the balloon to counter air pressure. Standard air pressure is 14.7 pounds per square inch or 101.325 kiloPascals.

That much pressure spread over a square foot (rough estimate of the surface of the balloon) or one third of a square meter would require a thick material for the balloon for it to maintain a square shape. Thick strong material would make the balloon heavy. A heavy balloon will not go as high or as fast, it may sink to the ground it would be so heavy. That’s not what the child wants. Even if you add thin reinforcing threads inside the balloon to give it a square shape you still have added weight and cost.

If your space ship is hauling something from one star to another, then the lighter your space ship is the less fuel you have to use and the more your profit is. If your space ship is a war ship then the lighter your ship is the more weapons you can carry. If you try to build a battleship with thick armor then the ship will use a lot of fuel. The enemy will just send in the light very fast ships (think torpedo boats or the space opera equivalent of torpedo carrying airplanes) that would either directly attack the battleship or make it run. If the ship runs it will need fuel soon. Then the enemy will stage an attack on the ship while it’s refueling.

I know, I know in space opera the guns never need reloading and the ships never run out of fuel. (unless they need a plot device)

One one ever thinks that it would take all the resources of ten to twenty planets to build one Deathstar. That’s people, food, raw material, almost everything from 20 planets (strip them bare) to build one Deathstar. Stripping planets bare of life and resources is enough to cause a rebellion.

Think about the star ship Enterprise. It has its engines sticking out on long poles. If the engines can accelerate the ship to light speed in seconds wouldn’t the engines break off. If the material of the poles or supports is super strong then why can’t they make super good insulating material so the engines don’t need to be suck out on long supports? The reaction and momentum would be terrible. Try to figure out the center of rotation (center of mass) of the ship. You would have to vector the thrust down to get the ship to fly straight. That’s wasted thrust and wasted fuel. And if one engine fails the ship would go around its center of mass (go in circles at light speed, very small circles).

And the bumps. Look at all the useless bumps on the Deathstar or an Imperial cruiser. I’ve worked on warships. There’s not a bump on the ship unless it has a reason. Each bump adds cost, big cost, the bumps add drag. The bumps do look nice, but if they’re not needed they shouldn’t be there. Each bump cost fuel and slows the ship down. It’s even worst for a space ship. And square corners, those corners make great radar reflectors. Radar reflectors make you a great target.

Windows, why ate there windows on a space ship? They are a weak spots. On a war ship you don’t have a window unless you have to.

To see where you are going you would have sensors (radar or sonar). It would be in front to see where you are going. Some air planes have a radar in the rear looking back to see if someone is coming up from behind. The radar is more important than a window with a pretty view, and radar or sonar can see a lot farther than a human eye can see.

What would a deep-space space ship look like. It would look like a submarine with a lump in the middle. Everything would be in line with the engines to keep the ship from going in circles. That’s physic, not visual. The bump in the middle would be for spin to simulate gravity. If you have artificial gravity of one Gee, that means the ship has the mass of one earth size planet to push through space. That’s going to take a lot of fuel and fuel is not free. Why not just use the earth for a space ship? (It’s been done)

The front of a submarine is where they mount the sonar. To the side sonar are the torpedo tubes. The hull is the shape it is to take the outside pressure. A space ship would be the same shape to take the inside pressure.

It’s efficiency and fuel cost.

Recipe is below add.

The Daemon Boat: The Education of a Steampunk Spy by [Voltage, Professor Hyram]


Tuna Fish and Bacon sandwich

I feel there are two types of cooks that publish recipes. The ones that copy someone else’s recipes and changes it a little and calls it their own. Then there are the ones that try new things and generate a recipe no one else has every done.

When you do that you often fail. And a tuna fish and bacon sandwich is a failure.

Adding tomato, onion, lettuce, and olives helped, but it would be an acquired taste at best. Like a peanut butter and banana sandwich. No a Tuna Fish and Bacon sandwich is like a PBBP sandwich (that’s peanut butter and bell pepper sandwich) just doesn’t work. With time I will try a peanut and watercress sandwich, or a peanut and celery sandwich. Making a new recipe is not easy and can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Stay strong, write on and when experimenting keep the antacid tablets handy.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Value and a Tuna Fish Sandwich

I recently watched a YouTube video of a guy talking about a HackRF one radio. I use the HackRF radio. I have a lot of trouble with the software that I need to use with the radio and am always looking for help in using the radio.

This guy irked me. He complained that he could not afford a HF radio (a radio that could receive and transmit in the frequency range of 3 to 30 mega Hertz). Now a HF radio he was talking about could cost between four thousand to twelve thousand dollars, new. But, that is not what upset me. Behind him was test equipment, new looking, and expensive looking test equipment. Some of that test equipment looked like it would cost four thousand dollars apiece. The work shop he was filming in did not look like a commercial shop. It looked like a personnel home shop.

Now a HackRF one cost about three hundred dollars. That’s a lot less than four thousand dollars. Still, he could have gotten a used radio that would have given him a lot of good service for a lot less than four thousand dollars. Could he have gotten a HF radio for three hundred dollars. Maybe. It might have been an older radio, a radio that still used tubes. The radio would have worked. When someone hears you on the air how are they going to know you are using a used radio? Or that the radio is 1970s technology.

A used radio would not have the fancy display of a HackRF one, but it would have a much higher power output. A higher power output would mean the ability to talk to more radio stations.

It reminds me of a writer in the past that asked for a copy of my screen writing software. She had a new looking iPhone, an iPad, and was wearing two hundred dollar shoes. I turned her down.

On the other hand I’m not that cold hearted. Recently I offered an old laptop of mine to a fellow writer who’s computer died. He turned me down and waited for a couple of weeks until he could save enough money to buy his own laptop to replace the one his daughter damaged.

This guy is going places, even while supporting a family, a broken down car and working a lot of hours. He writes a lot, even if it’s just with a pencil and paper.

So get out there and write. Even if writing is like the lottery, there might be something it the saying the more you write the more chances you have of getting your book or screenplay bought, and that is winning.

Recipe is below add.

Think about buying my book;

Tuna Fish Sandwich

A good reasonably healthy lunch


1 can tuna
1 bottle Thousand Island dressing (you're not going to use the whole bottle, but have you tried buying two tablespoons of dressing?)
A dab or two of butter
2 slices of bread or a roll

Butter knife
Mixing Bowls
Medium skillet
pancake turner
Mixing spoon or tablespoon


Place relish and Tuna in bowl.

Add dressing, mix well.

Toast bread or roll (sliced in half first) in skillet. Butter one side of bread or roll first if desired.

Cover one side of one piece of bread (buttered side is best) with tuna mix. Add lettuce. Cover with second slice of bread.


It’s cheaper that the sandwich shop and taste better.

Stay strong, write on, and remember you don’t need the greatest of tools to do great work.

Professor Hyram Voltage

RollBot and Valentine’s Day Cookies

I recently stumbled across an article about a toilet paper company that was displaying at CES in Las Vegas. Now why would Charmin be at the Consumer Electronics Show? Toilet paper is very not electronic.

They were show casing RollBot, a robot that would bring you a roll of toilet paper. It’s smart phone controlled. If they are smart it would be connected to the Internet and would order replacement rolls if you run low.

How would this impact Steampunk? Well back in the day a saloon or pub would have a man standing at the entrance to the restroom holding towels for the patron to wipe their hands after using the facilities.

A steam powered mechanical man could do that. But could the machine wash and dry the towels, and if it did would it get rusty? Could the mechanical man be programmed to clean the restroom every couple of hours? Would patrons get upset if the mechanical man came in to clean if they were using the facilities?

On the plus side you would not have to worry about a mechanical man getting free drinks from the bar tender. The mechanical man would always be sober. Would the mechanical man cost less to feed in coal than what the human would cost? You would never have to worry about the mechanical man goofing off. Would you have to worry about the mechanical man getting into the bar’s kerosene lamp supply and getting drunk on the fuel?

A robot to fetch a roll of toilet paper is not much of an idea. A robot vacuum cleaner could be modified to do that. Now if the toilet paper robot could clean the commode then you have something I would buy. If it could also vacuum the floors that would be a plus. That would take it from a novelty to something really useful.

Recipe is below add.

Think about buying my book;

Valentine Day Cookies

Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (226g)
1 cup sugar (200g)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract²
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (315g)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Sugar Cookie Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (375g)
3-4 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
red food coloring

Heart shaped cookie cutter
2 Mixing Bowls
Gallon plastic bag
measuring spoons
Rolling pin
Mixer or mixing spoon
Spatula or spreading knife

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

In mixing bowl combine butter and sugar. Beat until creamy (in electric mixer will save a lot of effort). Creamy means there is air blended in and the mix will change color. See Goggle or Youtube about Creaming Butter. It very important for the texture of the cookies.
Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until completely combined.
Line a separate, medium-sized bowl, with a gallon plastic bag. Into bag add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Close top of bag and shake until flour mixture is well combined.
While mixing wet ingredients gradually add dry ingredients until completely combined.
Cover work area (part of table top) with a piece of plastic wrap.
Dump out half of the dough onto the wrap, be careful the dough will be sticky.
Cover with more wrap and mold into a disk. Repeat with remaining cookie dough in another piece of plastic wrap.
Place dough in refrigerator. Chill for at least 2-3 hours.
15 minutes before dough has finished chilling, preheat oven to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Cover part of table top with plastic wrap. Dust wrap with flour. Dump dough onto plastic wrap covered floured table top. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll out until about 1/8 inch thick. If you want thicker and softer cookies roll dough out until only 1/4 inch thick. As you’re rolling out dough add flour to top and bottom of dough to prevent sticking.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Then transfer shapes to parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake on 350F (175C) for 9-10 minutes. Don’t let edges get to brown, just lightly golden brown.
Cool cookies completely on cookie sheet before removing.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

In small bowl combine sugar, 2 Tablespoons of milk, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. If frosting is too thick, add more milk, about a teaspoon at a time. You want frosting to hold it’s shape and not run, but it should be pipeable. If frosting is to thin add powdered sugar.

Add red food coloring
Coat top of cookies with frosting.
Let frosting harden before serving.
You can store cookies in a sealed bag at room temperature.

New Years Eve Celebrations in the 1890s and New Year’s Day recipes

In all the science fiction I’ve read I can remember only one story that mentioned a new years eve party. The story called it a year end day party, but that’s a different blog post.
If you’re looking for a story idea for your steampunk book then mention a new years eve party. No one else has. Better yet make it a central part of the story. The world is going to be destroyed by the villain at midnight new years eve. Or at least he’ll blow up the city, town, castle, laboratory, or airship.
Does the lack of steampunk stories mentioning new years eve parties mean that there weren’t any parties. No, there were New Year Eve’s parties in the 1890s, but they were different. In the 1890s family were bigger and a more important part of life. Children were a source of income for the family. There are many real life stories of boys who had to drop out of school and work to support the family when the father died.
Children were also the retirement plan for many. You supported the children as they grew up, they supported you when you could no longer work. Many families had grand parents living with them and they helped in any way they could.

Being a single woman in the 1890s was a drag. If you had money and went to a party you had to have a chaperone. The host would not let you in if you did not. An unmarried lady without a chaperone would bring shame on the host if he let such a woman in.
Married women and men wore black clothes, it was being much easier to see than a ring on a finger under a glove, and if they were of German heritage they wore a frown. Only unmarried children could wear colored clothing. Bright colored clothing was becoming common as modern production and dyes came into use. Remember flour sacks were printed in bright patterns to entice women to buy their flour because the manufacturers knew that the women made clothes out of the sacks.
Rich people did have parties. They had people to take care of the children. The parties were small. By today’s standards they were tiny. Mostly a dance. Of course there was drinking, but there was also chaperones and gossip to keep the drinking from getting out of hand.
The common people had to work the next day. Remember they worked six days a week. The rich did not get rich by giving the workers days off. Besides it was tradition.
There were no big party in times square until 1903 and they did not drop the ball until 1907.
A farmer had it even rougher. The cows have to be milked seven days a week. The animals have to be feed, morning and evening seven days a week. Wood had to be chopped or food could not be cooked. Water had to be hauled. The evening entertainment would often be reading from the bible or news paper, the family playing musical interments. There was no TV, radio, or iPods.
There was loneliness. Heart breaking loneliness.
The above are all reason your heroine would want to break the cycle work and loneliness. The chance to make the world a better place could drive many different types to step over the bounds of society.
Where are the stories of the mechanical farm hand? The self driving plow? These things, even if they were simpler than what we have now could make life so much better than it was.
I saw an early horse drawn mechanical planter. A framer or boy would sit on this seat, inches away form the ground. He would place a seedling in the mechanical planter. This was very high tech. Each part on the planter had a number molded/cast into it. If a part broke you could mail or telegraph the maker and he would send the part out. Sometimes by rider on horse back. Planting could not wait. It might not be over night express, but have you ever seen a story where parts where gotten to the person who needed it in a hurry. They did not have warehouses all over the country to hold parts (it would be considered a waste of money). But the manufacturers knew that if they got the repair part to the farmer in time the word would get around and they would sell more equipment. Put something like that in your story.

Recipes Black Eyed Peas and Corn Bread
I don’t know where the tradition for having Black Eyed Peas and Corn Bread on New Years day came from, but mother was from Oklahoma and Dad was from Texas.

Corn bread
1 egg
1/3 cup of milk
1 box of mix

Read and follow directions on box. Bake and enjoy. It’s good with a little butter. I like the plain mix. The stuff with honey in it is OK for every once and a while, but the plain stuff is a great way to start the new year.

Black Eyed Peas
1 can of black eyed peas

Open can and dump in pot. Heat and eat.
It’s good and it’s close to magic.

Stay strong, write on. And you don’t have to make all traditions from scratch.
Professor Hyram Voltage