Hard Tweets Explained: Rectifier

I’m not much of a lunch person. I bring soup pretty much every day. My wife really likes to make soup, and I like to eat soup, so that works out well. But every Thursday, a group of us head out to Thai or Indian. Both restaurants are less than a five minute walk. And the service is quick.

As it happens, a few of the usual crowd were out or tied up with client meetings, so it was going to be just three of us last Thursday. And the other two had decided to go for sushi for a change. At first, I was excited. I texted my wife “Sushi today!” But then I figured out that the place they were going was really far away, and I didn’t want to leave the office that long. So I bailed out and ate a bagel I found in the kitchen instead.

So Friday came along, and my wife texted me after work: “stopping for sushi.” She is on a gluten free diet, and while she loves sushi, that diet limits her options (regular soy sauce has gluten, and it contaminates everything). So I have to conclude she was stopping for my benefit, which is just so incredibly sweet. I’m a very lucky man.

The scary part is you can't even see what's behind what you can see.

The scary part is you can’t even see what’s behind what you can see.

So as I’m anticipating the arrival of my dream girl with the raw fish, I went to the bar to evaluate my cocktail options. The most obvious choice, sake, is not something I stock. It occurred to me that I should rectify that situation. I really like sake. That gave rise to the tweet, which I’ll probably get around to explaining eventually.

But sake wasn’t an option so my focus shifted to plums. Plum wine is another Japanese restaurant staple, and while I don’t stock that either, I do have plum liqueur. So I made my usual Ketel One vodka martini, heavy on the vermouth, and added a splash of plum liqueur. It was a little sweet, so I added a bit of sparkling water to lighten it up.

The sushi was great. And I mean that in both senses of the word great: both delicious and excessive in quantity.

It turns out the place had a pretty good gluten free selection, so there were plenty of rolls for my wife (she’s not a raw-fish-eater). For me, in addition to the usual fish suspects suspects, she got otoro. I was unfamiliar with this; although it’s a staple in Japan, it is fairly rare here in the USA. Otoro (or O-toro, or ootoro, or just toro) is a particular cut of the blue fin tuna which is quite different from the regular dark red “sushi tuna” you have probably had. It’s pink. It looks like spam. To my occidental palate, it takes exactly like the regular tuna sushi. It has no texture at all. It simply disappears when you put it in your mouth. It’s ridiculously expensive. Bottom line: don’t bother.

Diamonds of Diodes are a girl's best friend, because they keep her phone at 100%

Diamonds of Diodes are a girl’s actual best friend, because they keep her phone at 100%

So back to the tweet. I thought, “I need to rectify that.” A rectifier is an electronic gadget that turns AC power into DC power. It’s an important part of the “wall wart” you plug in to charge your phone. There are a bunch of ways to build a rectifier, but my favorite (being a person who has favorites of such things) is to put four diodes into a diamond configuration. You put the AC into the top and bottom, and pull the DC out of the left and right. You may recall that AC current goes plus/minus/plus/minus. I explained this a while ago, so I won’t cover that again. (You can use inductive reasoning to figure out what that coil is on the left side of that circuit diagram.)

A diode is a little silicon doodad that only lets power go through it one way. So when there is + coming in on the top and – on the bottom, the plus goes out the right and the – goes out the left. And when it switches so + is on the bottom and – on the top, then the + still goes out the right and the – still goes out the left. (Technically, the + is going in, not out, since these are electrons moving around.)

Anyway, you aren’t going to build one of these, so I’m sure you don’t care how it works, but it does work, and it’s one way to build a rectifier.

Homework: plumb the depths of your basement in search of diodes so you can rectify your next sushi craving (but skip the Otoro).

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