Posts tagged ‘plate’

Rulebook Specs for Home Plate are Impossible

By Chad Upton | Editor

The earliest known reference to “baseball” comes from a 1744 British publication called, “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book” by John Newbery. At the time, the field was triangular and used poles instead of bases. This game was brought to America sometime before 1791, when the first American reference is found in a town bylaw for Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Of course, the game has changed a lot since then. The infield is has gome from triangular to “diamond” (square) shaped. Home base was originally a round metal plate, which is why it is often called “home plate.” Home plate became a square shape in the 1870s, making it jus t like the rest of the bases.

The rear point of home plate sat at the intersection of the baselines from first and third bases. Although this point never changed, in the year 1900, home plated went from four sides to five.

The front of the base was squared in relation to the pitcher. This was done to make it easier for the pitcher to see the left and right edges of the base. When the base was a square, there was only a small point on each side, which was difficult to see and could easily be covered with dirt. Having a long edge rather than a small point also makes it easier for the umpire to see if the ball passes over the base and make an appropriate call.

The official Major League Baseball rulebook specifies the dimensions for home plate. They say it should be a 12 inch square with two corners filled in so one edge (facing the pitcher) is 17 inches. It also specifies that the two sides should be 8.5 inches. That sounds good on paper, but that is an impossible shape to create — according to Pythagorean theorem. If the 12 inch sides are supposed to be at a right angle to each other, then the hypotenuse would be 17 inches according to the rulebook. Mathematically, the hypotenuse would have to be 16.9 inches.

Some would say it’s a small difference, but it’s actually a large difference in modern day manufacturing tolerances. Either way, the point stands: nobody can create a home plate with the exact specifications set in the rulebook.

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Sources: MLB.com, wikipedia (baseballhome plate), MAA

Photo: JC Derr (cc / graphics overlaid)

May 9, 2011 at 2:00 am 16 comments

License Plates and Headlights Increase Visibility to Traffic Radar

I did a previous post about how speed enforcement radar works.

There are two primary types, laser and tradition (Doppler) radar. Even if you have a radar detector, laser is the most difficult type of radar to avoid getting caught by. Laser radar gives officers a near instant reading on your speed, so you don’t have time to slow down before they get a reading on you.

Your best defense is reducing or even preventing the laser beam from bouncing back to the radar gun. The front license plate and your headlights are the most reflective thing on the front of most vehicles. If you’re not required to have a front plate in your area, get rid of it.

The next best thing is laser jamming, although it’s not legal in all places. But, if it is allowed in your area then you can buy laser jamming or scrambling units which prevent the radar gun from receiving a usable laser reading.

If laser jammers are not allowed, you have some other options. You can get plate covers and headlight treatments to help reduce the amount of laser light that is reflected back to the radar gun.

Reflectors on the back of your car are also an ideal reflector for Laser radar guns. For safety and legal requirements in some areas, you should probably keep these reflectors on your car.

I hope that some these tips will help you avoid some speeding tickets.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Source: Wikipedia Laser Lidar

June 15, 2010 at 1:37 am 7 comments

You Can Stop Your Microwave From Rotating

My friend Neil is pretty healthy, he lived for a few years with no microwave at all. It forced him to eat fresh food, a healthy alternative to frozen foods that are made for the microwave. That said, the microwave can also be your best friend.

It’s great for heating water, making rice and one of my favorites: bacon (use a bacon tray to do it well). I remember the first microwave we got, I think it was 1986. That thing changed out lives. No longer did we have to wait 4 minutes for popcorn on the stove, we could do it in the microwave in 3.5 minutes. It was a magical device.

Some microwaves rotate inside, which is great — that heats food more evenly. Although, it’s not great when a large dish doesn’t fit on the turntable, it sounds like tennis shoes in the dryer.

That’s why they put the turntable on/off button on the microwave. I discovered this about two years ago and everyone I’ve told since has been completely surprised.

Don’t forget my other microwave secret, you can use foil in the microwave.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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May 27, 2010 at 5:00 am 4 comments

Why U-Hauls Have Arizona License Plates

Most U-Haul vehicles have Arizona license plates. Here’s a typical example.

The following picture was taken in the Toronto area, the information on the side is about Newfoundland and the license plate is, of course, from Arizona.

That might seem unusual, but most U-Hauls in Canada actually have Arizona plates too. The fact is, all corporate owned U-Haul rental vehicles in the lower 48 States and Canada have Arizona license plates. That’s right, Alaska and Hawaii don’t have Arizona plates, but all of Canada does. There are actually a few good reasons for this.

When I first noticed this trend, I assumed that U-Haul got a sweetheart deal in Arizona. It turns out their head office is in Phoenix, so it seems reasonable that they would register vehicles there. They also get a really sweet deal there, but this deal is not exclusive to U-Haul, it’s good for anyone with a billing address in Arizona. (more…)

April 8, 2010 at 11:19 pm 12 comments

Why Restaurant Food Stays Hot on Your Plate

Here’s a good secret for Thanksgiving dinner or the next meal you cook. I learned this during a cooking class from the experts:

Never serve hot food on a cold plate!

warm platesHave you ever sat on a bench when it’s cold outside? Your butt gets cold almost instantly! The same thing happens to your really hot food when you put it on a (comparatively) cold plate.

When you’re at a restaurant, what does the server say whenever they bring your food? “Watch this plate, it’s extremely hot.” They’re not trying to burn you, they just want your food to stay hot while you eat it.

Even buffets respect the warm plate. You know the hole at the end of the buffet that the plates magically rise from (see photo)? That’s not there for ergonomics, that’s a plate warmer.

So, if you’re not doing it already, here is a list of ways to get your plates warm.

  1. Buy a plate warmer ($35 and up).
  2. Many ovens have a warming drawer underneath.  No, that isn’t a cookie-sheet graveyard.
  3. Set your cook-top on low heat and lay the plates on top.
  4. Rinse the plates in really hot water, then dry them.
  5. Some dishwashers have a plate warmer function, otherwise run the rinse cycle on high heat with a heated dry cycle.
  6. Put them in the microwave for a short time.

I should also say that the opposite is true, don’t serve cold food on hot plates.  For example, when you go to a buffet and they have hot bowls for your “hard” ice cream.

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

Disclaimer: some dishes may not be suitable for some of these methods.  Check with the manufacturer to be sure.

Photo Credit: LexnGer (flickr/creative commons/attribution)

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November 25, 2009 at 11:59 pm 6 comments


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