Thursday, August 31, 2006

Unnamed "Dinosaur Plant"

A recent shopping spree at yielded the LED bulbs I mentioned about a week ago and what they call a "Dinosaur Plant". A serious internet search will eventually yield the proper latin name, but I don't plan to go through that again.

The product comes from Dunecraft. It adapted to a previous ice age by developing the ability to curl into a ball and blow away when the water dries up. It blows and rolls until it hits a new water source and then unfurls in about 3 hours.

The plant when it's dry.

The plant after 3 hours in the water.

This is mine after 5 hours in the water.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Book review: The Forge of God

I haven't read much Greg Bear. Most of the books of his that I've picked up just haven't sounded interesting. I finally picked up "The Forge of God".

It starts with the disappearance of Europa. Then new geologic formations show up which are just space craft in disguise. One kind of alien comes out of one and another kind of alien comes out of the other. One claims to bring great technology and the other claims he comes to save the planet from the other aliens. Then little mechanical spiders start showing up and taking over people... or networking them to better organize resistance. Two asteroids then hit the Earth. One of neutronium and one of anti-neutronium. They're on a slowly decaying orbit inside the Earth. Some of the people who have been nabbed by the spiders start gathering animals, books, and scientific records. The President gives up completely and tells people to just give up and wait to die.

Basically there's two batches of aliens fighting over Earth, or maybe just one alien messing with us, and the humans have no idea what's going on.

I'll put the conclusion in the Comments for those of you who want to see it.

I didn't really like this book. I don't know why. I didn't dislike it. It just sort of left me flat. What I look for in science fiction is a good story well told and some hard science. This didn't have much science. Some, but not much. What there was was good enough. The story was new but not told in a way that engaged me. It's not one of my highly recommended books.

Monday, August 28, 2006

And all the children dance!

Pardon me while I have an AOL moment.


They're installing the toilet now. They can't reinstall the old sink so I'll be getting a pedestal sink (~$40). They'll also put in a full length cabinet in the area where the bathtub just vacated so I'll still be able to keep my Draino and whatnot up there.
They weren't planning on putting in a shower door. They just expected me to use a shower curtain. But I've never seen a shower with a shower curtain unless it was a bathtub with a shower. After some heming and hawing and many tape measure sounds they think they can get a shower door to fit.
Plus paint AND screwing the vent back up AND reattaching that light AND installing a showerhead and showerknob. It shouldn't take more than two days of work as long as everything is there.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Movie review: Monster House

I went to see Monster House this weekend. I hadn't planned to until a friend of mine sent out this review.

"Monster House" ranks up with "Hoodwinked" and "Cars" as one of the best animated pictures I've seen this year. Technically, the care taken with lighting and texturing is lushly apparent. The character animation, from gross body movements to facial movement and their application not only to the lines spoken, but their inflection, is simply excellent. The story reeks of the hands of the movie's executive producers - Spielberg and Zemeckis - and in a good way. Though his name's not on the director's credit, this is the closest thing Spielberg's come to the sense of childlike wonder and danger he achieved in " E.T.", which may explain why Amblin optioned this script in the first place.

The story is classic Kid's Neighborhood Ghost Story. The old man in the creepy old house who yells at kids to keep off his lawn... has a secret. It's lightweight, and might be a little intense for small kids. Miranda hid in my lap during a couple of scenes, although at the climax, when the demonic house is marauding around the neighborhood trying to eat children, Lillian was gleefully cheering it on "Get em! Get em!"

I found the whole story to be simple, but very well executed. A few clunky parts don't detract from the breezy pace and delightfully realistic (for the premise) dialog from the movie's 11-year old (or so) protagonists. The relationships are deftly executed enough to be blindingly familiar to anyone who was in 6th grade at any point.

What I loved about this movie was its lack of concern for propriety and willingness to throw some seriously fearsome visuals into a kids' movie. With the amount of sharp dialog, double-entendres, strangely affecting humor and one seriously fascinating (and scary) house, I wonder if the Ghost of Jim Henson doesn't warrant a third Executive Producer credit.

I highly recommend this picture. It's not getting a lot of audience right now, though it deserves more (shades of "The Iron Giant"), and the number of "This movie is not appropriate!" comments I've read from whiny parents so far (who would probably have a coronary if they saw "The Dark Crystal") should only cement resolve to show some box-office love to this picture. It's not perfect, but it's a supremely superior example of the type of entertainment that Grandpa Pixar has ushered into the world.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Base hike

Life on base is interesting. I was just walking back to my office and cut through the courtyard behind the base hotel. It's where wounded soldiers and their families stay after they're out of the hospital but still have therapy and/or further surgery.

One guy in a wheelchair was driving a remote control boat around in the fish fountain. Several more were sitting in a breezeway smoking cigarettes and drinking beers. A wife sat off to the side. She wasn't doing anything but didn't seem comfortable going over with her husband. In front of the hotel two more wives were swapping tricks to make their husbands take their pills. That was just one pass by there.

During the day a stroll across base is a parade of cybernetic replacements. Legs mostly. Running, walking, pushing their own wheelchairs until they get tired and then riding back. For the arms you have to go into the hospital and look around the waiting room or ride in the elevators. One guy I talked to was there to get his arm replaced since the one he had was twice as heavy as his last arm, his real arm.

This is a strange place to be.

Friday, August 25, 2006

More toilet news

Ignore my previous post about the toilet. It was written with the best information at the time, but that wasn't the toilet I got. Sitting in my living room is a Rockton dual force bowl. The company is Sterling and Sterling is owned by Kohler. Thus the confusion.
The price has dropped in half to ~$450.

Alas, when I went home yesterday nothing had changed in the bathroom since the weekend before. All that was new was a box of commode. I'm telling myself that since the remainder of the work can be done in a day there's no reason for them to show up until everything is ready. It's what I'd do. Go work where you can do the most instead of hopping about town on little 30 minutes jobs. This is my new mantra and I have fashioned a crude shiv for anyone who dares harsh my buzz.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Man, daytime TV is crap. The guy across the hall got cable installed in his office a few months ago. If he were like most people in this building who have cable he'd leave it on CNN or Fox all day. No, he leaves it on NBC. So I get The Today Show blasting at me with such hard hitting journalism as "Americans now more polite than Brits". They spent at least 15 minutes on that subject. Even the real news shows keep their reports on actual news shorter than that. And you can tell who the target audience is. It's at-home mothers into organic this, herbal that, and all-natural the other.

And it'll get worse. Later he switches to Jerry Springer and the Springer wanna-bes. Yes, the show that shows us that the verbal skills of black women can only be expressed through yelling and an elaborate series of head snaps.

Look! Something other than me bitching!

Taken from the roof where I helped tear down those solar panels. That grain silo is ~3.5 miles away. The image (the one you get if you click on the image above) has been reduced to 25% of the original, but not cropped. I'm very happy with the zoom and auto-stabilization.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

LED lightbulbs

LED lightbulbs are now on clearance at

Various labs have been working on LED lightbulbs for years. But they've usually put out too much heat. They've finally got some that can go on the market. These aren't the only model, but they're one of the more affordable varieties. Another variety is hanging in the kitchen in the "Green House" display at The Building Museum here in DC.

I gave these out as Dougmas gifts last year. Your usual means of judging brightness doesn't really apply. But I'd say the Vivid Plus is roughly 20 Watts. They put off a blue cast. The Plus would make a good bathroom or hall light for staggering around in the middle of the night without getting blinded. Not as harsh as a nightlight, but brighter. I'll be using one as a back porch light.

They're supposed to last ~10 years and the Plus should cost ~$2.00 per year to run. Sure, they're expensive but think of it as encouraging development of a promising technology.

My Kiosk

Several months ago I sat in on a meeting between my new boss and some people from an area museum. They're preparing a small display on hand surgery that will open for a conference in September and then a larger one will open early next year. I suggested that I could develop a virtual hand surgery application to go along with it. I was inspired by "Operation Frog" that I played with on an Apple ][ back in grade school. But then I saw the Virtual Knee Surgery and had all kinds of plans. My work was slowed by having to do what I'm paid for. Instead of having 3 operations to choose from they only get one in this initial version. I'm hoping to add another by the next stage of the display.

Today I went over to the museum to look at the kiosk that they'll be using. It's a decent piece of hardware. Looks like it was made in someone's garage. The internal electronics are a Macintosh Quadra from 1991 and an Apple monitor of about the same age. They used to have several, but as they died they got hauled off. This one is dead but they never got around to removing it. Lucky me. As long as the monitor works I'm in good shape. I have a few extra G4s laying around my office. We'll loan them one and probably sign it over to the museum permanently.

I'm psyched. I not only get to have my program running in a museum, but I get to breath life back into the kiosk that will be showing it. The guy I'm working with is learning to develop this same sort of stuff so hopefully he'll get many years of use out of this thing.

Watch this space for the eventual arrival of my program.

Monday, August 21, 2006

House update

I swung by the house again this weekend. The bathroom walls and ceiling are fully assembled and plastered. The floor and shower are fully tiled. The shower needs a knob, shower head, and door.
Looks like once the reinstall the toilet and sink, slap up some paint, that'll be it.

For them. I've still got a lot of work.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Movie reviews

Snakes on a Plane
Pretty much exactly what the title suggests. The idea was to combine three common phobias - snakes, flying, and confined spaces - into one action/horror movie. It's better than all those airplane disaster movies of the 70's but not as scary as "Airplane" with Leslie Nielson (that movie still freaks me out). It opens with a variety of shots of Hawaii that lasts way too long. Then they start developing the back story. They get through that as fast as possible because we didn't come to see that. Then a whole bunch of snakes get loose on an airplane to try to kill a witness to a mob hit.
This was a fun movie. Don't think about the story too much. Don't try to analyze it. Just watch it and enjoy. There was more laughing in the theatre than screaming, but there were some wincing at the attacks. Go see this if you're looking for a good mindless action flick.

p.s. There's no mongoose.
p.p.s. They could have just cranked up the AC and knocked out the snakes, but nobody asked me.

The Illusionist
First, my apologies to my readers in Wichita and similar mid-west cities. You probably don't get to see this movie until it comes out on DVD. This is playing in independent theatres and you don't have any of those. Neener, neener.
This is "Thomas Crown Affair" in the 1800's. A peasant boy and a noble born girl meet and fall in love. The meet in secret for years until they're torn apart. He goes on to become a great magician while she becomes engaged to the emperor's heir. They meet again when she is volunteered to assist him with a trick. They start to see each other again behind the crown prince's back. He finds out and loses his temper. She turns up floating in the river with her throat slashed and her horse covered in blood. It's pretty obvious that the prince, who is known to be abusive and has killed before, is responsible. The magician becomes determined to prove the prince's guilt.
One reviewer called this what M. Night Shyamalan wished he could still do.

I'll probably get this one on DVD.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dr Who and friends

I'm a rabid Dr. Who fan. I was one of those kids you hear about getting freaked out by the opening credits and hiding behind the couch while Tom Baker fought giant robots. So you know I have to download the illegal episodes on-line hours after they air and then pick up the legal DVDs as soon as they hit the shelves. Due to my housing situation I'm still missing the last two episodes of season two and it's killing me.

I was listening to the DVD commentary and had to hop online to look up the status of the forthcoming "Torchwood" series. "Torchwood" is heavily referenced in season 2 and is the name of the spin-off starring Capt. Jack. It should start airing in October.

The Sarah Jane Smith character, also from the old giant robot/Tom Baker days, starred in the last spin-off attempt. I saw it. Rubbish. It was a good thing they killed it after episode one. But after her reappearance in season 2 they're giving her another chance with "Sarah Jane Investigates" which should start around New Years.

SciFi Channel will start airing season 2 in late september along with the new episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

And PBS will be showing "Casanova" this fall. It was essentially David Tennant's audition for the role of Dr. number 10. Some of you will recognize David from his recent role as Barty Crouch Junior in the latest Harry Potter movie. You can also hear him doing the voice of the caretaker in the Dr. Who webcast of "Scream of the Shalka". As long as you're there, go watch "Shada", too. It's one of Douglas Adams old episodes written for the Tom Baker days but played by Dr. #8.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Movie reviews

One of my co-workers has a huge video collection. Good stuff, bad stuff, all sorts of stuff. He helps justify it by loaning them out as much as possible. He brought me another stack tuesday.

Undead: This is a zombie flick with some aliens thrown in. It starts pretty standard with debris from space causing people to become undead brain eating machines that can only be stopped by destroying the brain. Then the clouds and burning rain come, the beams of light from the sky kidnapping bugs and people and cows, then the giant wall completely surrounding the city, then the glowing robed figures... and our heros keep trying desperately to get an airplane and escape over the wall.
The cover was familiar, but the title just doesn't stick with me. I'd seen this movie once before. It's a must see for the zombie movie fanatics, but I don't need to see this one again.

Wolf Creek: See story 132 (variant A) in "Every Plot Ever". A group of people go out in the middle of nowhere, get stranded, get help from a local bumpkin, the local bumpkin likes hacking them up, one escapes to tell the story.
This also uses character 59, the great animal hunter who has turned to hunting humans.
I don't get these movies. I love scary movies, but these aren't scary. These rely on images of people getting hurt to get a reaction.

The Hills Have Eyes(2006): See story 132 (variant B) in "Every Plot Ever". A group of people go out in the middle of nowhere on the advice of some local bumpkin, get stranded via sabotage, the local bumpkin (or friends) likes hacking them up, three escape to tell the story.
This has the bonus of twisted deformities on the villains to creep you out. Still not scary.
The most engaging character was a deformed kid who plays character 54, the standard good girl person among beast people who saves our heros and then dies so the heros don't feel obliged to save her.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Solar Decathlon

After yesterday's post I started wondering how the teams for the Solar Decathlon were coming along. For 2005 one school had a webcam so we could watch construction. I didn't know this until it was time to take everything apart so I missed most of the show. So I'm trying to get an earlier start this time.
The last time I looked the websites weren't even started. Now 19 of the 20 teams have sites, but only a few have posted their floorplans and sketches. And I'll present those to you here.

Cornell appears to be giving their home an exoskeleton. This gives several options for redesigning the outside by attaching or removing window shades or whatnot by season or mood. It provides easy access to the solar panels for maintenance. The panels could be repositioned to shade the roof or the deck. Air flows around the solar panels helping to keep them cool and running more efficiently. The solar panels shade the roof to keep the house cool.

Texas A&M seems to be using a modular design of a bunch of boxes with part attached as needed. They're putting plants on the roof to keep the house cool and make better use of the rainwater. There's also several small skylights to make the best use of natural light. The solar panels will shade the deck instead of being on the roof.

Kansas State is entered for the first time this year. I can't tell much from the image they provide. Looks like some recycled corrugated metal for shading the deck. Wooden slats over the windows to allow winter sun, but not summer. It's designed around the easy to transport mobile home model. Half of the building is for letting the sun in and half is for keeping it out.

University of Illinois has several picture of the plans they're considering here. They also seem interested in keeping the solar panels out of direct contact with the roof. They also seem to want to have sliding screens to put over the glass walls or remove at will.

MIT has an animated gif that you can see below. It moves too fast for me to make much sense of, but ... is that a sunken shower in an open air bathroom? No, that's a deck and maybe a hot tub? If so that shows confidence in their hot water production. Some windows have wooden slats outside while others have a pull down blind inside. And is that a pane of glass about a foot from the real window? The garage consists of a short wall about a car width from the house.
(note: when uploading this image the animation was lost. Follow the MIT link to see the original.

University of Maryland just has the one image. All I can see is that they put their wooden slats on hinges and that the solar panels are again up off the roof. They might be using them to channel rainwater somewhere.

I'm always pretty happy with what University of Missouri Rolla students come up with. The houses from 2002 and 2005 are being uses as on campus housing now.
They have a partially green roof and solar panels directly on the roof. Aside from that I can't tell much. You can see the floor plans here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Batman's Toilet

I'm a Solar Decathlon groupie. The Solar Decathlon is an event held every few years (Oct '02, Oct '05, and returning in Oct '07) where college students from all over the country, and a few places outside, build houses that function off of the grid. They have to fit within certain dimensions, but aside from that anything goes. Once the house is built it is shipped to Washington, DC and setup on the Mall for ~10 days. They're then judged on comfort, energy use, climate control, engineering and some other subjects. And when not being judged they're open for public tours. Plan now to be in DC for the Oct. 2007 show.

For my eventual rear deck I tried to get some lumber I saw used in one house, but it turned out to be a special material invented by the students and not yet on the market. Based on what I saw there I'm trying to use foam insulation to insulate my house. I'll be doing the floor of my second story over in bamboo and plan for one wall to be bamboo that I'll stain in a design.

I also saw this toilet in several houses.

It has two buttons for flushing. One for solids and one for liquids. After all, you don't need as much water for a midnight trip to the bathroom that you might need for a post-Thanksgiving overload. So that's what I told my contractor that I wanted if he found it necessary to dispose of the old toilet.

He called me yesterday and said that he got one from Kohler (I'm almost certain that's what he said) but it won't be delivered until next week. Sure, why not. It's already been two weeks more than expected. I've worked this patch of loop carpet into something almost as soft as cement. So what's another week?

I had to go out to Kohler's website to see what they have. Turns out they only have the one model of dual flush toilet and it goes for the low, low price of only $900. Even their cheap models are $450. Granted, I've never bought a toilet before so I'm not too sure what they generally go for, and Kohler is one of the bad mamma-jammas of the bathroom fixture world, but for $900 I feel it should also wipe my butt and thwart the Joker's latest evil scheme.

I better not ever have to jiggle the handle.

More of my pictures from the 2005 Solar Decathlon can be seen here thanks to Wayne "Danger" Stout.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hurricane season

Hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts until December 1. After the escalation of number and severity of these storms over the last few years I've been paying a bit more attention than I have in the past. There was a big deal made of the beginning of the current season back in the beginning of June, but so far there haven't been much in the way of hurricanes this year. A few tropical storms, sure, but nothing to get upset about. I'm not complaining mind you. Hurricanes drive up the price of plywood and sheetrock and I want mine as cheap as possible. Even so, I was beginning to wonder when all the hurricanes were gonna show up.
A quick Google search came up with some numbers, but I'm looking for a simple graphic that sums it all up. The people at NOAA had a tiny little thing on this page but it's kind of hard to make out. I went to download it and found that they named the image "small_hfreq.jpg". Well, what happens if I remove the word "small_"? I get a BIG image.

So according to this things start getting heated up right about... today!

p.s. Click on the image to see the readable version.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The 10 Bumperstickers

I haven't talked about Dougintology much. There was the posting about prayer a few months back and a mention of Towel Day, one of the few official holidays, but that's been it. It's time to expand.

Dougintology is a religion of one. It's based on the beliefs of a guy named Doug. It has a single believer, also named Doug. Only Doug can tell Doug what Doug believes. If the Pope decides that the color blue is an abomination before God all the Catholics have to change their wardrobe. But Doug will just hit the Salvation Army and stock up.

Just as the Bible worshiping faiths have their 10 Commandments Dougintology is trying to come up with 10 Bumperstickers. Partially as something to sell, but also to sum up in simple soundbite form some of the essential beliefs of The Lord Doug Almighty.

Here's what I've got nailed down in not particular order.
1) Make abortion unnecessary, not illegal.
2) Stupidity is the deadliest sin.
3) I'm wrong and so are you.
4) Science: It's about how, not who.

Here's a few others under consideration
5) Marriage: Not a government concern.
6) Science: God's toolbox.
7) Lilith was a REAL woman.
8) "Tradition" is another way of saying there's no good reason for something.
9) Sterility is a gift.
10) Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.

I'll try not to harp on them too much, but when I'm running low on ideas of what to post I'll lean back on these bumperstickers.

If you have any other suggestions I'm open to hearing them.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Death of a solar panel

Roughly 20 years ago Kansas gave tax credits for people who bought solar panels for their homes. I don't recall the exact requirements but most people who took advantage of it installed solar water heaters. My parents got some and my uncle got some. But age, and a hailstorm, have taken their toll on my uncle's house. Over the 4th of July Dad and I went over to help him take them down.

A recent hailstorm took out the two panels on the left.

We pulled a wheat truck around to the back of the house and built a quick and dirty deck on the top. It's easier to put them on the deck and then lower them down than to just lower them from the roof.
And those colors are natural. No photo retouching.

In the circle is where one of the hailstones hit. They were huge and they were jagged.

My uncle is gonna need his whole roof repaired. Some internal plumbing issues mean the panels will probably not be replaced.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Movie review: The Devil Wears Prada

This was supposed to be a review of the cult classic "Snakes on a Plane" but the movie listings were deceptive and it doesn't come out until thursday night. I went to see "The Devil Wears Prada" instead because while the theme is different the villain still gets killed by a mongoose.

If you've seen the trailers then you already know everything about this movie. Anne Hathaway goes to work at a major fashion magazine under the command of nightmare boss Meryl Streep.
For Meryl Streep's part they seem to have used the opportunity to try out the technology intended for next year's movie "Magneto" where they use computers to strip 30 years off of Sir Ian McKellen. That or lots of spackle.
Nobody from New York is going to believe me, but Anne Hathaway looked better before the makeover. Ok, there was that one dress that she wore to the party, but her hair, makeup, and clothing looked better before she was made "fashionable". Granted, they spent a lot of time, effort, and makeup to make sure she looked good before they made her "look good", but in life in general I prefer a t-shirt and jeans woman.

Oh, right, the movie. They drew this from page 62 of Sir Francis Jacob's 1639 book "Every Plot Ever", the sequel to his not terribly popular book "Every Character Ever". Someone from a midwestern backwater like Chicago or St Louis goes to New York thinking she can make it big in the newspaper biz. After getting turned down for dozens of jobs she applys for a job as the assistant to the Editor in Chief of a huge fashion magazine because after one year there she should be able to be a success in any magazine or newspaper. The boss is an abusive monster who hates her clothes and insists she work all hours of the day and night. She alienates her friends and boyfriend with her long hours. They say she's changed, but the movie only really shows that through her not being quite as critical of runway models as she used to be. Eventually she realizes she's becoming like her boss and quits to work for some small newspaper... after replacing her boss's driver with a mongoose.

The boss isn't as nasty as I expected. She was just movie boss nasty instead of real world boss nasty.
And at the end the boyfriend is moving to Boston for his dream job, basically tells her he wants her to go with, she all but agrees, and then she goes for her new job. So... I guess... she's not going? All this and she's still breaking up with him?

Good movie, but I won't get it on DVD.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

more fun with cameras

4th of July. Neighbor kid with sparkler. 30 second exposure (I think).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Stupid bird

Gandolf, my parrot, has gotten way too comfortable living in my office. She was pretty quiet for the first few weeks, but now she has no qualms about belting out a tune no matter how many stars the General walking up the hall has on his shoulder.

They've almost got the bathroom done. Any day now. Aaaaany day now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Movie Review: A Scanner Darkly

Sunday I went to see "A Scanner Darkly". You've seen the trailers for this. It's the one where it looks like they took a life action film and then went back and traced the characters. Sometimes you're convinced that's what they did and other times you're convinced they didn't because things aren't moving or rotating correctly.
It's another Phillip K. Dick story made movie form. You'll remember him for writing "Blade Runner", "Total Recall", "Minority Report", and "Paycheck" among others. I thought "Paycheck" would have made a better video game than movie, but there you are.

So, "A Scanner Darkly" stars Keanu Reeves playing an undercover drug agent. He wears a suit that is programmed with millions of facial features. So he can look like anyone. Around the office it just randomly shifts facial and physical features. Nifty technology, but he only wears it outside the office to give a speech to the Elk's Lodge or something like that.
I don't want to get too far into the plot. I'll just say that it includes a heavy dose of PK Dick's usual paranoia and a string of twists and new complications as the story goes along. Some you expect from 2 minutes in others you don't see coming at all.

I can think of two reasons to use the animation technique they did. First, it would be cheaper to create the effect of the shifting features on the suits if they just drew it. Second, by making an animation based as close to reality as they did it causes the viewer's perception to shift and drag you into an altered state of mind to allow you to sympathize more with the drug induced state of the characters.

I haven't decided if I'll but it yet, but I enjoyed the movie.

Monday, August 07, 2006

This is hypothetical, right?

So, you've sold your soul to Satan. In exchange you get enough money that number no longer matter , hot and cold running honeys (gender up to you), and enough power and influence to solve all the world's problems. You live to an obscene age and know you're going to die soon. You dig out your old summoning book and summon a succubus (or incubus). After a night of passion it eats your soul.

My questions to you:
1) How pissed off is Satan right now?
2) Did you really manage to cheat him? Sure, you got out of eternal torture but you've been eaten

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Movie Review: Barnyard

I went to see the movie "Barnyard" today. It's a digital animation that's supposed to look like it's Aardman Entertainment (Chicken Run and Wallace & Grommet) claymation.
The story and the dialog was pretty predicatable. The cow (a male cow, not a bull but a male cow) who is the leader of the farm animals gets killed while defending the farm from coyotes. His... not his son, but the male cow that he raised from a calf, is pretty much a goof off but he's the new farm leader. He has some problems breaking into the job, but he finally figures it out.
The father figure is named Ben and he gives the goof off all sorts of advice and just comes short of actually saying "With great power comes great responsibility". Instead of a radioactive spider you get a copy of "Charlotte's Web".
But the movie has it's points. The scene when all the farm animals are panicing as the farmer comes to see their party looks like it was inspired by an Unseen University (read some Terry Pratchett) staff meeting. The way they take revenge on a cow tipper was fun. And the soundtrack is good.

I won't be getting this on DVD, but your kids will love it and you'll be able to sit through it several times and even enjoy it the first few.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fun with cameras

I take enough pictures for work and for projects that I keep telling myself I'll finish some day that I decided to upgrade to a deluxe bad mamma-jamma of a camera when the last one got too puny to continue. One of the features that I like is the ability to adjust the shutter speed. I can leave it open for as long as a minute. This won't allow me to take the spinning stars pictures I see in astonomy magazines, but it'll work out fairly well for most other stuff.

Like this...

You can't get quality darkness in the city. You've gotta get out where neither McDonalds or Starbucks dare to roam. I set up the camera on the back of the pickup, turned on a flashlight and put my hand over the lens, walked out in front of the camera a short distance, and then moved around while uncovering the flashlight where it seemed right. The light spider over one of my faces is a firework going off in the distance.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

more foam

My new hose came in today. I'll say this for the people at TigerFoam, the staff is friendly, helpful, courteous, and really did what they could to help me out without risking getting ripped off. They dropped it in the mail monday afternoon and it was here wednesday lunchtime.
But this hose only worked a bit better than the last one. The hose to tank B, the foam tank, lost some content through that same gap but not much. It ran down the tank and stopped leaking. Tank A, the tank with the brown liquid, started by losing some content. I figured if I hurried I could make the best of it. So I sprayed like mad. When I turned around Tank A was covered in foam (see it comes out as foam and then settles into a brown liquid) and was spitting foam across the computer room onto the far wall.
There appears to be a reason the website says this stuff covers 600 sq/ft 1" deep. You can put up an inch deep layer then move on while that sets up. You have to put up 6 layers.
I'm gonna have the crew just finish the bathroom and then get some slow fill stuff to fill in the walls. I'll have to hire professionals to foam the rest of the back wall and the underside of the roof.

So I cleaned up the mess. I put down an old shower curtain so I could just pick up the pool of brown liquid and toss it out the second floor door. Good thing I planned to rip out the carpet in favor of bamboo flooring because that carpet is ruined.

To look at my hands you'd think I was a reject for the part of The Thing in The Fantastic Four.

By the power of Mentos, I command ye RISE!

You've probably seen the videos of Mentos and Diet Coke eruptions. Well I had to try it for the 4th of July. The trick is to get all 4 Mentos in before everything goes up in a column of froth. Mom used a funnel and got it to work. I tried a funnel and it didn't work. I also tried a tube. I wanted to try running a thread through the middle and dropping them in, but I was voted down.