Appendix A
Detailed Explanations for Dead Volkers

This appendix lists the detailed explanations for Dead Volkers that would have otherwise cluttered up the footnotes.

A.1 The Acceleration of Gravity

This idea came from one Ken Smith, a programmer/analyst with the University at Buffalo’s Computer Science department. Some time ago in a Usenet news posting, he suggested taking Macintosh computers, dropping them from a tall building and measuring the time it takes for them to fall. To perform the experiment using the scientific method, it will be necessary to repeat the experiment several times from the same place and from different places and heights. Proper experimentation will probably consume all the Volkers that exist.

A.2 Anti-Stealth Devices

Only recently did I learn that aircraft like the F–117 “stealth fighter” actually do have to have widgets and dongles hanging off them when operating in civilian airspace. Except in actual training or wartime, the aircraft must be observable on radar. One wonders if a cut-up Volker can be used to keep the radar cross section larger than a swallow.1

A.3 Babylon 5

Babylon 5 is a television series created for Warner Bros. Domestic Television by J. Michael Straczynski. Vorlons are a race which, according to the series, must breathe an ammonia and methane mixture. Vorlon pets would need some kind of sealed environment, which a dead Volker could provide, before they can be brought into other parts of the station.

A.4 George Bailey’s Information Terminal

According to the film It’s a Wonderful Life, the house that George and Mary Bailey moved in to had minimal furnishings. The chicken was roasting on the fireplace, being turned by a 78 RPM record player. It would make sense to reason that a dead Volker in a broken-down house would be consistent with a remake of the film, or if the film were originally made today in a more contemporary setting.

A.5 Christmas Tree Stands

Dead Volkers make good water containers when sealed. So why not use the CRT opening to set a tree in so the needles won’t fall off early. What better way is there to show how much one cares for their family than to recycle a Volker in such a thoughtful way? Figure A.1 shows how to use a Volker as a Christmas tree stand.


Figure A.1: Christmas Tree Stand Using a Dead Volker

A.6 Curing Tanks

Manufacturing plastic resins like polyvinyl chloride requires a curing tank so that the vinyl chloride may be polymerized by combining into long chains. Using a dead Volker as a tank would be good for small test batches. These Volkers can be sent to Niagara Falls and companies like Union Carbide can use them for testing.

A.7 Foodarackacycle

One of the gadgets that was seen on the ’60s television series The Jetsons was an object called a foodarackacycle. This device replicated food for the family. Considering that George Jetson was not able to get that raise as often as he would have liked from Mr. Spacely, the family may have had to settle for an older model, where a Volker cabinet would have worked quite nicely.

A.8 Generic Terminals

This idea came out after looking around in grocery stores at generic foods. This was popular as a result of the success with generic drugs shortly before. By about 1975, stores were stocking generic foods: no trade or service marks, no multicolor printing or anything else that makes a product cost more.

The specific use of black Helvetica Bold letters, all lower case, on a yellow background came from the type of generic grocery items that a former Buffalo area grocery store chain known as Bells2 stocked. Such packaging might look like what is seen in Figure A.2.


Figure A.2: Generic Volker Packaging

One of my friends from that era thought about seeing other items packaged in generic packaging: guns, bullets, artillery rounds, etc.; then I thought about labeling a Volker as a generic terminal.

A.9 Grunge Rock Groups

“Grunge” rock groups such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains were in mind when I came up with this one. The idea occurred to me while listening to a Pearl Jam CD one night between band sets while I was in a state of glorious inebriation while thinking of a potential romantic interest which doesn’t matter anyway. If this section doesn’t make much sense, it was written while drunk and my handwriting wasn’t that great anyway. Hooray for typewriters, computer terminals, and word processors.

A.10 High-Tech Terminals for Fundamentalists

I feel that the use is a bit racist, so this is going to need some explanation. The thought of a terminal used by someone or a group of people who beats themselves with chains was the inspiration for this use [14].

A.11 The M31 Scale Artillery Trainer

The M31 is a scale model artillery trainer system that shoots its rounds roughly 1/10 the distance of regular rounds. It is usually used when training a fire direction center (FDC) which performs cannon gunnery functions such as determining how to aim the cannon. This training is done mostly for the benefit of the FDC [44, Appendix A].

A.12 Marijuana Bong

Back when I was assigned to South Korea in 1983, the first Saturday I was assigned to the Sixth Battalion, 37th Field Artillery (6/37 FA), our Headquarters Battery underwent a Health and Welfare inspection where the commander uses his authority to inspect personal living areas.

The point here is that during the inspection, a search was made in one of the barracks buildings through common areas. My section chief, with a silly grin on his face, carried around a makeshift marijuana bong made from a Mountain Dew soda can and a resussitation tube from an M17A1 pritective mask. The sight was so funny to us that it stuck in my mind, trying to figure out how to make a Volker be used as a marijuana bong.

A.13 Micro-Mutts

The expression “micro-mutt” was one that I came up with when I was assigned to South Korea in 1983. Whenever I would take a walk through the community during the day, I would see all these little dogs yapping away, scrounging for whatever food they could find. I suspected that there were only small dogs left as those dogs got bigger, they were being, uh, ... butchered for cooking.

A.14 NCO Justice

Having unruly students or fraternity pledges (§A.17) march around with a dead Volker and pronouncing loudly, “Volkers eat shit!” in a campus dormitory hallway or fraternity house may be similar to a sergeant making a private perform NCO justice for a minor infraction. Such examples of NCO justice would be:

A.15 Picture Cube

One of the authors of [23], Michael T. Mecca, had garbage picked this picture cube with pictures still stuck inside it. One of the pictures was a snapshot of a dog with a banana sticker on it. The picture looked so darned silly that Mr. Mecca added it to his collection of bizzare pictures. Its memory was strong enough for me to use a Volker to display such a thing.

A.16 Picture Frame

[5] suggested that children may get embarassed about children’s pictures being hung on refrigerators. Dead Volkers seem to make such good frames because children don’t want to see the pictures, and they probably don’t want to see the frames, either.

A.17 Pledge Items

Since the first organizations of their type on college and university campuses, fraternities and other Greek organizations have come up with gags to pull on prospective fraternity members. Bricks are often used because they can represent the foundation of a fraternity. These pledges may have to carry some easily pilferable and heavy item around with them at all times while engaged in on- and some off-campus activities. Punishment for transgression would involve some kind of hazing-related activity. This may be similar to the military habit of always carrying one’s assigned weapon when in the field with its (more severe and lawful) consequences, such as the kind documented in §A.14.

As Volkers are heavy, they are an ideal choice to pick on pledges with. Make ’em stick one of those in their bookbags and their backs will never feel the same again. Better yet, have the pledge take a Volker in the shower and it probably do a world of good to the Volker. It might actually work after this treatment.

A.18 Retarded Bombs

A retarded bomb has special fins which slow down the bomb’s descent so the aircraft can scoot away without damage to it. Of course, the Volker gets destroyed in the process, but who cares as long as we’re having fun and delivering maximum ordnance on the target?3

A.19 RFD Mailbox Bases

Farmers in many rural western New York counties have traditionally set up their mailboxes along the road by putting the mailbox on top of a post and inserting the post inside a milk container packed with rocks. This may have been done so that snowplows would simply knock over the mailbox instead of breaking the post when it was fixed into the ground. My father’s mailbox was constructed in the same way, but the post was set inside a blacktop sealant container filled with concrete, as the container was something he happened to have on hand at the time. Despite these precautions, whenever the plow came along to plow out at the end of the dead-end road and knocked over the mailbox, some mounting nails used to secure the mailbox to the post would always loosen. My return from school would usually entail my trying to reset the mailbox on the post.

Figure A.3 shows a potential way of constructing a mailbox with a dead Volker. Of course, if a plow hit the Volker, more than likely the plow blade would be damaged!


Figure A.3: RFD Mailbox Base Using a Dead Volker

A.20 SAC Brownies

At the time this was originally written, SAC brownies are these brownies made by Food Service at University at Buffalo.

Somehow, Rivina picked up the idea of calling them SAC brownies, probably because they were sold in the Student Activities Center (SAC) at one point, as was the pizza (§A.21). SAC brownies were also available in the vending machines as well. Actually, the brownies were quite good, but the joke was to use them for brick replacements in building construction.

Using a Volker as an oven was chosen because the heat isn’t all that high from a CRT heater, anyway. This probably explains the use of one as a crock pot in section 2.2.

As far as displaying SAC brownies, only stale brownies may be displayed. This includes most of them (about 99.5%), but this is part of the joke.

A.21 SAC Pizza

Referred to as crusty, dry, gummy and/or rotten depending on the state and mood of the pizza warmer, SAC Pizza was the type of pizza served in the Student Activities Center at University at Buffalo up until about 1991 or so when the building was expanded. The problem with the pizza was that it was cooked in a convection oven rather than a true pizza oven. Then the pizza was left to sit around for a while in a pizza warmer with the rotating tray holders, like the kind used to display pizza in convenience stores or similar places.

Personally, I didn’t find the pizza to be that bad, unless it was sitting around for a while in the pizza warmer. I believe this explains the use for a dead Volker such as a pizza warmer as documented in sections 2.1 and 2.2.

SAC pizza was something to definitely be avoided when one was feeling nauseous. All people have to do is think of the fictitious TV soap opera As The Stomach Turns and they are ready to do the big sacrifice to the Great Porcelain God some time after consumption.

A.22 Stringer Blocks For Wood

My father, Rex Anderson, had cast concrete wood stringer blocks to hold 8 foot long wood lengths in so that firewood could be stacked on them. Volkers seem to be hardy enough so that stringers can be put in them. Figure A.4 shows how to use a Volker as a stringer. Use a hammer or mallet to pound the notch in the case. If that fails, due to the ruggedness of the case, or the hammer breaks, use a hydraulic ram to make a notch. If the hydraulic ram breaks, well, use the bent cylinder for some useful item. Maybe there will be a demand for a document called Still More Uses For Bent Hydraulic Cylinders (And Other Things) in the future.


Figure A.4: Using a Dead Volker as a Wood Stringer

A.23 Swell Boxes

A swell box is a container with variable shutters on one side in which organ pipes are installed so that the loudness of the pipes in the box can be regulated with a foot pedal on the organ console just above the pedal keyboard. Since some of the smaller pipes would fit inside Volkers, the aluminum case would provide interesting tonal qualities and the CRT opening can house the shutters. Several Volkers can make up a swell division for a modern instrument.

A.24 TelePrompTer Display

Some Volkers may have broken caps lock keys, so the display of all capital letters may imply that shouting is intended. Somewhere, [4] suggested that Bill Clinton shouted a lot when reading the TelePrompTer. The television character generator types do use upper case.

It is currently tradition on computer BBSs and information services to remind new users that entering messages in all capital letters would mean that shouting was implied. More experienced users would tell these new people not to shout by using mixed case. In some cases, these new users may be using such antiquated equipment, such as Volkers or the even more outdated ADM–3A, that all they could do was shout.

A.25 Thrust Reversers

Thrust reversers, in this context, are bucket-shaped objects which are inserted by hydraulic jackscrews into the jet exhaust. These buckets deflect the airflow sufficiently to cause a reverse thrust component, suitable for slowing down a jet landing on a runway. Without the reversers, jets may need to use parachutes or longer runways, preventing commercial jets from using many airports in the U. S.

The shape of the Volker allows their use for thrust reversers for jet engines as shown in figure A.5.


Not drawn to any realistic scale.

Figure A.5: Using a Volker as a Thrust Reverser

Some shaping of the Volker will be necessary, as will some heatproofing of the metal. With advances in engine technology, jet exhaust gets hotter than ever, and Volkers’ cases will melt or burn unless precautions are taken. Even a Volker has its particular vulnerabilities.

A.26 Turbofan blow-in doors

From studying pictures of aircraft designed in the early to mid 1960s, engine manufacturers designed the turbofan engine to provide additional thrust by having a large turbine fan in the front (or rear) of the engine. Air would blow around the engine core, providing additional thrust. Early designs had systems that opened special doors in between the front edge of the engine nacelle and the fan. These doors opened inward, and the resulting Venturi effect drew in additional air, providing a greater mass flow (the mass of air flowing through the engine per unit time) and increasing thrust.

Figure A.6 shows how such a door might be used. To use a Volker here, it would be necessary to flatten or cut up the case first. A diamond tipped circular saw should work.


Not drawn to any realistic scale.

Figure A.6: Blow-in Doors on a Turbofan Engine

A.27 The University Bomber

The University Bomber was a character who would send letter bombs to professors and other professional staff at computer science departments at various universities. Somwhow, a dead Volker may be such a container for a bomb.

Discussions about this character would come up from time to time, especially being sensitive to things like the vulnerability of computer science departments at universities anywhere. Those of us thinking about this were wondering what could posess someone to do such an act.


VASI is used on visual and non-precision instrument runways at airports to tell a pilot if the approach slope of the landing aircraft is correct. A correct slope picture puts a red light above a white light when viewed from a typical approach path. If the approach is too low, there are two red lights; too high, there are two white lights [27, pp. 110 and 137]. The Volker case, however, could be the “ambiguous” T–VASI (Visual Glidepath Lighting System [24, p. xiv]) system [24, p. 309] as well, which seems to be more fitting for the Volker. Figures A.7 and A.8 show possible layout patterns for Volkers along runways.

Presumably, the Volkers can be used for other marking lighting for airports such as the flasher boxes for the Simplified Short-Approach Landing System with Flashers (SSALSF), Automated Landing System with Sequenced Flashers, Category I (ALSF–1) or Category II (ALSF–2). Also, it can be used for the red light housing for the Simplified Short Approach Landing System with Red Light (SSALSR); or, use for the green Runway End Indicator Lights (REIL).


Source for marking information: [45]

Overrun stopways and displaced thresholds are deleted for clarity.

Figure A.7: Potential VASI Layout With a Volker on a Non-precision Instrument Runway


Source for marking information: [45]

Overrun stopways and displaced thresholds are deleted for clarity.

Figure A.8: Potential VASI Layout With a Volker on a Visual Runway

A.29 Weapons Discharge Point

Military and police station armories may have a barrel or other structure filled with sand or other material for all weapons to be cleared in. This is done by pointing the weapon into the barrel and clearing the weapon to insure that no rounds are chambered. If one is fired accidentaly, it is fired into the discharge point. Volkers are ideal for this sort of thing.

A.30 Wonder Terminals For the Blind

This terminal must have the sorts of features that cause the terminal to be overpriced as a way to rip off the blind. It has to be something done by a shady equipment manufacturer or dealer so that the Volker doesn’t function at all and it is important that the blind person has been taken advantage of [16], revised [21].

A.31 Other Uses for Dead Volkers Where Functionality Is Not Required

This section is to reference all the uses for dead Volkers where functionality is not required. Examples may include cactus waterers, pet rock feeders, etc.