Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Links

Laptop issues continue, but here's something.

Cartoon documentary about Washington's medical marijuana. [link]

The instrumentation that's been picked for the Europa probe. [link]

That time NBC funded a breach of the Berlin Wall. [link]

Source of weird radio station found. [link]

Robot dog/cheetah/horse can now jump. And operate off the leash.

Real Viking helmet found. It's short on horns. [link]

I mentioned the iron snail before. Here's more. [link]

I want these cats as strays in my neighborhood. [link]

The Wizard of Oz with They Might Be Giants as the soundtrack.

Clips from the DARPA Robot Challenge narrated by WWE announcers.

100 year old chalkboard discovered. It proves Oklahoma didn't know how to do math back then, either. [link]

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Westport Market - opening day report

Friday Links continues it's hiatus due to computer issues.

I've been quiet for a long time. This is partially because I've been so busy. I bought yet another house, work strange hours, rescue fallen birds, refilling the Little Library on the front of my house, have had nice weather to sit and read on the front porch in, have been spending time with various tabletop gaming groups, and I've been helping to start a farmers' market in my neighborhood. As well as the usual mowing and spraying for poison ivy when there's time.

My neighbor, let's call her Dee, is an organizer. And I sometimes wonder if she know how ghetto the neighborhood is. She decided we need a farmers' market. I didn't really think it would do well. There's not enough money in the neighborhood and there's not enough of the food conscious sorts who really care about where their food comes from. And there's not enough people to make it worth it for the vendors. I thought.

Still, I knew I could be wrong, I want to improve the neighborhood, so I jumped in.

I ended up, as I often do, being a major doer. I'm not a caller. I'm not their PR person. But I'll make sure that things get done.

I created the postcard, with Dee helping refine the design, that someone else mailed to everyone in the neighborhood. The postcard featured a picture of blackberries taken on my cousin's farm in Oregon... to pitch a local food event in Maryland.

I learned screen printing and made shirts.

A few prototypes. The color they picked with bright, electric, neon, lime.
I made 5 signs to put up around the neighborhood. One permanent one on the site, one outside Dee's house by the light rail, and a couple that can easily move. Then a dozen small signs that go up the day of to give directions to the market and to parking. The big ones showed me how good I'm getting with a paint brush. The little ones showed me how bad I am with spray paint.

I attended a lot of meetings, some which Dee was supposed to attend but got held up at work.

I rebuilt two picnic tables in the park where they were rotting or vandalized in an ownership dispute and painted three.

The first two tables

I mowed the park... twice. My new electric lawn mower only does about 1/3 of an acre with a charge. It took two trips.

I helped plant a sunflower forest to help advertise the market. I'm not sure exactly how the sunflowers do that. It'll be quite a site from the light rail train as it passes, but doesn't do anything for the market.

I went to an existing market and tried to sell those vendors on coming to ours.

I designed a lighting system to go with a emissions free generator we wanted. I mean I had every watt accounted for.

I brought Gandolf to socialize and have pictures taken with people. [instagram] [facebook]

I picked up the generator and got trash and official Baltimore recycling bins for us to use.

I wasn't really involved in the press releases. Or harassing vendors to come.

The first market was last night. 5:30 to 8:00. We had five food vendors and four "other"s.

One guy was selling bags of food. You weren't sure what you were getting, but it was a mix of vegetables. He sold out and plans to be back week after week, now.

The next was from a community garden the next neighborhood over. They've changed management since we started planning and are only doing the opening weekend.

The next was from a garden of only 1/4 acre. And he has a ton of hula hoops that he brought for people to play with. He'll be back on weeks when inventory allows.

Then there was some people with a respectable farm. They had similar anticipations for the farm to mine, but sales were good enough from their two tents that they plan to come back with more food.

Then there was the egg guy. He got held up, but he had plenty of eggs for sale. This was his second farmers' market of the day. He'll be back.

Then there were the others. First there was a representative of Retrofit Baltimore. They help people in low income areas find affordable ways to make their homes more energy efficient. They'll be along once a month.

Some people from the University of Maryland Agriculture Department were talking to people about gardening.

A woman talking about the hazards of a plan to ship oil through Baltimore in fragile train cars that are known to explode was there. Her group also helped with the initial park cleanup back in April.

And a woman who makes her own veggie juice was selling there.  She says she'll be back, too.

This doesn't even mention the news crews or the politicians who showed up. State Delegate Brooke Lierman comes out to all our events. Enough that she knows my face.

We had a good turnout. A raffle helped keep people around for awhile. The hula hoops and Gandolf helped.

Then we tore everything down and shoved it all in Annapolis Bog. Then we'll do it again next Thursday, and every Thursday after that until mid-October.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Please stand by

We are currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The police were involved

This weekend I called in my first homicide.

Got your attention with that, didn't I?

So, I'm sitting out front trying to organize stencils to make signs for our upcoming farmers market while dealing with a swarm of neighbor children when I heard a rapid "bang bang bang bang bang bang". One of the kids jokes that someone just got shot. I analyzed the timing and determined that was too fast for a car backfiring. "I think you're right. Stay there." I said, and got up, moving towards the corner. As I reached my corner I saw two guys running like a bat out of hell away from where the sound originated. Definitely a shooting. Round the corner. What can I see? Phone out. 911 ready. Is there a body? Yes. Crap. I hit dial. "All circuits are busy. Please hold." I held for several minutes before anyone picked up. "Shooting. Annapolis Rd and Kent St. Someone down. Race unknown, ID unknown, condition unknown." Cops showed up shortly after. Word is the guy had a pulse when they arrived but I saw them doing compressions when they put him in the ambulance. Word is also that he's a homeless guy. But his mother was there. She lives too far away to have gotten there that fast. They're suspicious characters. After the crowd cleared I mentioned to some officers that I saw runners and which direction they headed. Then I hung around for more than an hour so the homicide detective could question me. They took me downtown but I couldn't tell them much. My focus was on making sure help was called for the shooting victim.

What did you do yesterday?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Link: May 29

One link. This game that ate my time.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book review: The Martian

I finished reading "The Martian" Friday night. It's put the forthcoming movie (Thanksgiving 2015) at the top of my list of anticipated movies. Yeah, more than Star Wars episode 7.

I had no choice but to read this book. None. While walking through the bookstore my attention would be drawn to this book over and over, visit after visit. I wanted to read it right off, but it was only in hard cover and I didn't want to read it $25 worth. I finally got it when I built up a pile of gift cards. Then it sat while I read all these other books that I really wanted to read. I should have just coughed up the cash. It's totally worth it.

The story is near-future, hard-science fiction. NASA is running a series of manned Mars missions. During the third mission a particularly bad sand storm comes up and the crew has to leave before their rocket blows over. One person gets left behind, assumed dead, when the storm stabs him with a broken off antenna and blows him out of sight of everyone else. When he finally comes to he has to figure out how to expand his 400 days of food into enough to last until the fourth mission arrives in four years on a different part of the planet.

The story gets into the chemistry of breaking down the toxic rocket fuel into components that can be combined back into water and breathable air, the reclaiming of Martian soil for farming, and how much food can actually be grown with the resources at hand. He has to adapt the rover for long trips to scavenge parts from old Mars missions, real ones. And it gets into what's going on back on Earth and on the craft that left without him and their efforts to help him once they see activity on Mars.

A desperate survival and rescue story is always good, but a large part of what makes this book so enjoyable is the writing style. When on Mars the story is told via the mission logs. More of a diary or blog, really. He has no pretense of formal, technical writing for NASA. He's writing as much to amuse himself as to document things for history or for technicians. On Earth the story is told more like a normal book, but you get people bantering more.

The movie will have to cut some of the more interesting parts of the story because they just won't work on screen. So be sure to read the book as well.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Links: May 22

Titanium spheres of life from space. [link]

Opening titles to a non-existent Black Widow movie.

A song in memory of Jim Henson.

Trailer for The Overnight, a movie written and directed by someone my lackey went to film school with.

I need to make some of these. [link]

Camels came from Canada. [link]

A quick history of Industrial Light and Magic from the people who were there. [link]

You haven't been sufficiently horrified today.

Australia's plague of spiders. [link]

3D printed zoetrope. [link]

In disaster relief, the media is another problem. [link]

3D painting. [link]

Cars as ammunition. [link]

Rats help each other out of danger. [link]

An extremely well trained dog. [link]