Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book Review: Turn Coat

Last week I finished reading the latest book by Jim Butcher, "Turn Coat". It's the most recent in the Harry Dresden series. You can read my initial review of the series here.

Harry seems to do very little private detectiving these days. He still has the skills, but most of the work he does isn't paying work. The book starts with Morgan, the man who has spent most of Harry's adult life hounding Harry for crimes he didn't commit and looking for an excuse to execute him, coming to Harry's door bloody, wounded and looking for protection. Morgan has been accused of a murder with the only evidence being that after going missing for a short time he was found over the body holding the murder weapon and a bunch of money appearing in a bank account in his name. What basis is that for a case?

If Harry is found to be sheltering Morgan then the lives of he and his apprentice are over. Even so, Harry starts an investigation to find the real killer. Almost immediately he gets attacked by a horrible flying monster called a skinwalker, seeks refuge with some werewolves, and gets one of them killed and another hospitalized. His case takes him along dangerous paths through fairy realms, the night clubs of a breed of vampire to which his incubus/vampire brother belongs, the legal offices of said vampire people (where the skinwalker attacks again), facing mindless summoned demon things with mouths in their hands, to an island where he bonds with the island's spirit in order to help with the pending fight involving the wizard high council, the white vampires, some werewolves, more mindless demon things, and the skinwalker, and finally Morgan's trial in which dozens of wizards die, the guilty party is revealed, and a long chase scene occurs.

The Dresden Files books are different than the TV show inspired by the books. I think the books are better. It's like how any movie based on a series is over the top compared to what they can do in an hour. The books are more like movie versions of the TV show.

You can jump straight to "Turn Coat" but I wouldn't recommend it. I'd read the rest of the series first.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Movie Review: Year One

It's already been out for several weeks, but it took Yummy and I this long to go see "Year One". I typically bow out of Jack Black movies, King Kong being the obvious exception. It's not because of him. It's just the kinds of movies he does. I don't get into the sophomoric humor comedies. "Year One" has a lot of the gross sophomoric humor but mostly does it well.

Don't think that the poop and dick jokes are all the movie has going for it. It's a buddy movie about two caveman losers who are tossed out of their tribe and go wandering. They walk through a number of Old Testament stories and get involved. They see Cain kill Abel, they stop Abraham from killing his son, they get involved with the wrong end of Roman slave trading, and end up in the city of Sodom trying to rescue their old tribe.

I probably won't get it on DVD, but I'd be willing to see it again.

I want to applaud the people in the theater who lashed out rather ferociously at the woman who dared to talk during the movie. She got smacked down hard, fast, and loudly, just as it should be.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Links: June 26

Shower heads that you'll never own. [link]

Itemized list of things left on the moon by the Apollo 11 mission. [link]

Nice shed/garden studio made from old fence and/or shipping palettes. [link]

Teenie drill. [link]

Final images from the Japanese lunar probe before it plowed into the surface or the moon. [link]
Yes, the crash was deliberate.

This happens in Antarctica, Kansas, and, apparently, Idaho. [link]

Some articles stay open on my computer for weeks before I actually get to reading them. This is one of those. I'm glad I kept it.
It's a well written and amusing transcript of a speech about neuropsychiatry. The first part talks about some behavior disorders caused by physical defects/damage to the brain. The second part talks about how similar disorders have helped develop our major religions without saying things like "Jesus was a nutter". [link]

Not sure what he's talking about? Here's some examples. You can't think the Phelps family is anything close to sane.

I'd hope this mother had something wrong with her. [link]

The previous speaker needs to read "The Nine Billion Names of God" again. You can do so by following this link. Relax, it's short.[link]

A scene from a 1933 disaster movie.

After Transformers and GI Joe come the rest of the cartoons we watched as kids.

If you loved "Shawn of the Dead" you'll probably also like "Zombieland". [link]

WHY didn't they make these!?! [link]

This guy is not the Zodiac Killer. [link]

A 3 part report on Scientology. [link]

A papercraft printing press. [link]

I buy everything that near future science fiction Robert J. Sawyer writes. I suggest starting with "Calculating God". His newest book is called "WWW:Wake". Here you can read his thinking behind the book and read or listen to the first chapter. [link]
Yes, it's already sitting in my living room waiting to be read.

Some uses for that now obsolete cathode ray television. [link]

The space crash race. Sure, the Japanese crashed on the moon's surface first, but America can do it bigger! [link]

Video of the launch.

Picture of the far side of the moon taken by that rocket. [link]

Game: Use Boxmen. It's a Lemmings knockoff. [link]

TED has some of the best speakers. This one is a former Moonie talking about how cult members think.

Using stepper motors as musical instruments.

Rejected Transformers. [link]

John Hodgman speaks at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner and grills the President on his geek creds.
The answer is a) Shai-hulud b) thumpers and c) water of life

Adam's first wife, Lilith. A more complete history than I've seen before. [link]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Paper sculpture

I've been poking at this site.
It's the site for a guy who calls himself a mathematical sculptor.

At the bottom of the page are predrawn cards to cut out. I put together the first sculpture.

Then I fed it to Gandolf.

It can be done with standard printer paper. I did. But you'll have to get about 1/3 done before it starts holding it's own structure.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Short summer days

The Summer Solstice started Sunday. This is the third day. Tomorrow the days will start getting shorter. Oddly enough, the days will not start getting cooler. There are two analogies to explain this.

The world's axis is at a 23.5° angle. The Summer and Winter Solstices mark the extremes in it's tilt. Now, think of the swinging back and forth of the axis as the turning of the knob on the oven. At one extreme is off and at the other is... oh, say 300°F. Clearly, if the knob stayed at one extreme or the other dinner would either freeze or bake. But it takes some time for the oven to heat and cool. So the temperature has only reached 200°F or so when the knob starts coming back from 300°F. They might meet again around 230°F or so before they start cooling off. In this same manner we're usually only breaking the 90°s around here at this point in June and 100°+ in early August.

I usually hear this heating beyond the longest day referred to as Thermal Inertia. But Thermal Inertia usually refers to the second analogy. Take a metal strip and put a torch on the end you're not holding. That end will heat up. After a minute turn off the torch. Where the torch was will start to cool. However, the midpoint of the metal strip will continue to heat up as the heat moves up toward your hand. We're at the midpoint and continue to get warmer after the heat gets turned down.

Personally, I think the first example applies more than the second.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Papercraft Katamari

Yummy needed a Katamari to go with the Prince. For this I had to venture into papercraft design as well as construction. I was really quite delighted at how it turned out. Alas, by her birthday the Katamari had taken some damage. I managed to take out most of the dents, but some things couldn't be fixed. A new one had to be made. I consulted Yummy on the colors and some minor alterations were made.Both versions had bumps that you could poke at and they'd spring back. Not part of the original design, but a feature that I absolutely love.

You can download the file from http://www.savefile.com/files/2135357.

It's designed for Tabloid sized (11"x17") paper, but should would as long as both pages scale equally. Assemble the page with the red connectors first. The all green page goes around the other. If you don't glue the two pages together the bumps should be pushable.

I think it's self evident how it goes together, but I built it. Let me know if you have questions.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Links: June 19

New element to be added to periodic table. [link]

Some time back this guy posed some questions to the people behind WhoIsYourCreator.com. Their answers were unhelpful at best and outright lies at worst. He spent a year and a half in self-paced research, got a good education in evolution while also seeing American Christian organization's bald faced lies on the subject. In the end he left the faith completely. Here is his e-mail conversation with Who Is Your Creator staff. [link]

Awesome sofa (that's mostly sarcasm but not all) [link]

Neurobiology study of zombies. [link]

Airplane repo-man. You could make a good movie about this guy. [link]

36 pending sci-fi movies. [link]
50 "essential" sci-fi movies. (I've seen 41 of the 50+ listed) [link]

I'm very dubious about this, but it's cool if it works.

Multiflash system for making line art from photos. [theory link] [technical link]

Author hit by bad economy is offering a book online for donations. [link]

Worst. Cars. Ever. [link]

I'd never heard of Mr. Deity before, then got 3 links on the same day when he started season 3. Watch one of his videos. [link]

A rather good debate between Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens about the central idea of Hitchen's book "God is not Great". Hitchens bases his arguments around religious belief while Sharpton insists that just means religion is not great but what about the God that wasn't created by man? Really a good debate between two people who respect each other. It runs an hour and a half including the Q&A. It took me a couple of weeks to find the time to watch it, but I was glad I did.

Not my kind of art, but I know of at least one reader who will like it so it makes the list. [link]

2 Kings 2:23-24 - Elisha and the She-Bears
[Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.
Maybe you couldn't sic bears on people who picked on you as a kid, but you can make cookies that commemorate those who can. [link]

A mobile room. [link]

Game: The Budget Invasion. [link]

Movie news:
Indiana Jones 5 under development. Not much else to say. [link] Of course, Indy 4 spent decades under development.
Christopher Lee gets knighted. [link]
Whole Deadpool movie under development. Might not suck. [link]

Sept 11 hero dog cloned. [link] [photo]

Rather terrifying magnet. [link]

Damn fool religious people. [link]
Look, you're not supposed to turn on a light because flipping a switch is "work". Motion sensors aren't a sin. However, opening the door to go in the hall is if you worked the doorknob yourself.

Rap translation.

Flaming gas hole. [link]

Miss Pendershamp fired first! [link]

How to shrink a quarter. [link] Be sure to watch the video.

Barney Frank attempting to move the choice about medical marijuana to the states. [link]

The house in the movie "Up" is called a nail house. There are many of them in the world. Here are 6. [link]

How to make a tabletop Tesla coil. [link]

New Weird Al video, "Craigslist".

Libraries that own. [link]

Genesis revisited.

A mount to help you take pictures that can be joined into a panoramic view. [link]

Game: Polygonal Fury [link]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Papercraft Prince

Yummy has developed something of an addiction to the video games "Katamari Damacy" and "We Love Katamari". So, for her birthday last month I made a papercraft Prince and a papercraft Katamari.

The Prince looks rather like this.

If you want the plans you may get the PDF at http://www.savefile.com/files/2131888.

There's not much in the way of instructions, but it's pretty straight forward.

This is not an original design. I found someone else's plan and redrew it so it looked better. The original was all pixelated and icky.

On Monday you'll get the Katamari.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gaming with Gandolf

From Dec. 2005:

I picked up Star Wars: Battlefront the other day. The original, not the new one. So there I am trying to take back Lando's malt liquor factory from the Empire. Parrot's on my shoulder keeping her feet warm. She's been quiet for awhile just watching the flickering images since the rest of the lights are out. A pack of wookies goes running in front of me in hot pursuit of some villain or other. She turns to me and tells me "It's all about the Wookies."

I'm on the Wookee homeworld (don't ask me to spell it) and my character gets blown all to bits. Gandolf's response? "It'll grow back."

April 2006:

I'm playing "Mercenaries" and I took a job from Allied forces to find the entrance to some North Korean tunnels and mark them so they can perform an air strike on them. As long as I can stay clear of the blast it's an easy assignment.
So I kill a few guards at a road block, get just in view, aim the pointer at it and make the call. Three jets fly over and drop bombs. BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM. A big fireball and the tunnel entrance is gone. Gandolf looks over at me from the window she's been hanging out by and says in a deep, slow voice like one might expect from a couple farmers leaning on a fence chewing straw and discussing the weather, "Yyyyeah. That'd fuck it up."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Review: Thank You For Smoking

Some weeks back the author Christopher Buckley was at Politics and Prose talking about and signing his new book. Christopher is the son of the conservative columnist William F Buckley who passed away in February of last year. His mother had died the year before. Buckley's latest book talks about his parents and losing both of them so close together. He read exerpts from his book and, to keep himself from crying it seemed, frequently departed from the text to expound on humorous family stories. These are the kinds of the stories that everyone in the family knows and has heard a million times before, but are funnier when told to new people. His daughter, the cutie in the background, clearly knew all his stories and started smiling long before the punchline.

It was nice to hear that William F. Buckley, often credited with being key to building the conservative political culture of the 80's and early 90's, was ashamed of what had become of the Republican party in the last 10-15 years. It was nice to hear that he had made close friends with old political rivals. I enjoyed hearing that Dick Cheney asked to speak at his funeral and was turned down.

You can watch him talk about his book on Book TV at http://www.booktv.org/watch.aspx?ProgramId=FV-10165.

But that wasn't why I went. No, I went because of the book and movie "Thank You For Smoking". When his kids were still very young Buckley was making breakfast with some news show on. There was a smoking debate going on and this woman from the tobacco lobby was just denying everything and demanding to see the data. Buckley thought she was great. Not her position. Just the person who could stand there and claim that black was white, up was down, and that golf clothes were the height of fashion. So he wrote a book about that type of character.

In both the book and movie we follow Nick Naylor as he goes about his life trying to convince the country that smoking isn't a health risk and that they don't target children. He hangs out with friends from the gun and alcohol lobbies, he goes on talk shows to verbally duel with people from Health and Human Services, and tries to pay off old and sickly former spokesmen. He also gets kidnapped by people who try to kill him with nicotine patches.

There are differences between the movie and the book. In the movie he spends more time with his son so he has a way to vocalize his philosophy of life. In the book there's a story of his boss and his secretary trying to frame him so the secretary can take his job. The book ends with him doing some jail time and coming out a reformed man. The movie ends with him walking away from the tobacco lobby and starting his own firm to consult with execs from similarly suspect industries and teach them how to muddy the waters enough so people can't tell what's truth and what isn't.

I like the movie better. It gives a better view of the mind of Nick Naylor. He's like a super hero whose power is talking out of his ass. It's hilarious. The book tells a very similar story. It's only somewhat amusing, but it's still a good book.

Anyway, I got both the book and the DVD signed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Movie Review: Angels and Demons

Yeah, I'm late. I'm sleepy.

We saw "Angels and Demons" this weekend. Last weekend we rented "The DaVinci Code" so Yummy would be caught up. We've both listened to both books, but as movies and books tend to depart from the original during conversion she felt the need to be current. Of course, this wasn't actually necessary. Tom Hanks' character aside, there's no real connection between the two.

So, there's "The DaVinci Code" and there's "Angels and Demons". "The DaVinci Code" made for a better book than "Angels and Demons", but "A&D" made for a better movie. See, "DaVinci" isn't what you'd call action packed. The appeal of the story is in the detective work, the puzzle solving, and the history lesson. The tricky part is sorting out fact from fiction since so much of what they cover was real. But, there's not much in the way of action. Just kind of a background pursuit that rarely makes it to the screen.

"Angels and Demons" has some detective work but is more about the action. Lots of following the clues and then getting to the next site just as time is running out. Not as interesting to read, but much more interesting to watch.

The basic storyline is that the Pope is dead and the 4 leading contenders to replace him have been kidnapped. One will be killed each hour and on the 5th hour some anti-matter will explode and wipe out Vatican City.

Saw it, won't buy it, going back to sleep now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Links: June 12

A photo blog about decaying parts of cities. [link]

A photo and video blog about launching large homemade rockets. [link]

MSNBC report about the FBI failing to prosecute anti-choice terrorists.

When taking pictures of mythological creatures be sure to focus. Like this guy. [link]

Old jews telling jokes. [link]

The DC area subway system is being extended out to the Dulles airport. They hit some secret government wires while digging. [link]

Back in September of '07 a friend of mine sent me these links. I just now got around to watching them. It's an episode of the old Tom Snyder show from 1979. His guests are Durk Pearson and Jerry Pournelle. I don't know Durk Pearson, but Jerry Pournelle cowrites with Larry Niven, one of my favorite authors. They talk about lots of stuff. The first part is mostly their ideas on longevity treatments and can be skipped. In the second and third parts they talk about LCD and plasma TVs, Pournelle talks about his computer and predicts the internet, and they talk about where they think computers will be by 1989.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Carl Sagan's old show, "Cosmos", is available on Hulu.com. I recommend the whole series. Shown below is episode 8 in which he illustrates how things would look when traveling at significant fractions of the speed of light, some plans for different kinds of interstellar ship, and time dilation effects. And he does it in a clear and understandable way. That's why this series can still sell DVDs and draw viewers almost 30 years after it first aired.

Game: Mad Gab - in this game they've taken a common name or saying and written it in completely different words that sound similar. You have to guess what the original phrase was. [link]

David Tennant (and Daniel Craig) shaped ice treats. [link]

Pointless machine. [link]

Bloody Looney Toons art. [link]

35 spiffy tip jars. [link]

Fuck My Life - a place to read about things that go wrong in other people's lives. You can post, too. [link]

Go to YouTube and search for "Is It a Good Idea to Microwave This?"

A thread about what birds would do with arms. [link]

Death Star BBQ. [link]

Since the new birdy likes to chew things I held on to this link. Yummy got the material. We're gonna make some buttons for it to chew. [link]

David Tennant look-alike gets a TARDIS coffin. [link]

Laptop powered microwave. [link]

You probably heard that the Japanese sent a satellite to get some high res moon footage and then crash. Here's related links.
A couple of Japanese videos of the Moon. [link]
Pictures of the crash as seen from Earth. [link]
No, we didn't ask the moon's permission. [link]

Send corrupted files for your homework. [link]

Game: Roly-Poly Cannon 2 - fire exploding cannon balls through holes to kill evil smiley faces. [link]

Great coffee commercial [link]

101 versions of Stairway to Heaven [link]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review: Chocky

I'm slowly pulling my library into order. It's big enough that I have to break it into sections - reference, science, cartoons, autographed, general fiction, and unread. Yeah, that's right, I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to stuff I have yet to read but totally plan to.

The book "Chocky" by John Wyndham had been sitting in the unread pile for a long time. Probably on the order of years.

I wasn't familiar with the work of John Wyndham. Turns out he's the same guy who wrote "The Day of the Triffids" and "Midwich Cuckoos" which has twice been made into movies called "Village of the Damned".

The book is told from the perspective of a middle aged man. Skipping all the back story... His son has what appears to be an imaginary friend. Being science fiction we know there's more to it than just that. The friend is really a being named Chocky. It can transport it's mind from it's home galaxy to other planets and visit young and open minds. This is done partially as a way to try to find habitable planets to colonize in an effort to escape their own dying star and partially to help coax certain members of the civilizations they contact to develop some of the advanced technology of Chocky's people. Specifically, they feel that a civilization needs to be able to draw off of the infinite background energy of the universe.

Most of this we don't learn until late in the book. The bulk of the story talks about the problems that the kid has. He keeps asking his teachers advanced questions prompted by conversations with Chocky. He learns to paint and swim with Chocky's help. After an emergency swim lesson that he needed to keep his sister from drowning the press got ahold of him and started writing stories about guardian angels. That's when Chocky figured out how far over the line he'd gone with his guidance of the kid. He had to pretend to leave so the kid would think Chocky was gone. This way when someone kidnaps the kid and pumps him for information about Chocky and their technology the kid really thinks Chocky is gone.

It was also made into a mini-series in England back in the 80's. Spielberg picked up the film rights sometime late last year.

I'm not calling this book a great work of literature, but it does make me want to pick up a few other of Wyndham's books.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I'm not bothering to write today because I'm going to Ft. Dietrick to give our new offices a critical eye and talk shop with their techs.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Movie Review: UP

Pixar departed from their usual fare with the movie "UP". Over the years we've grown used to them doing comedy. Yeah, OK, "The Incredibles" was more of superhero/comedy and "Wall-E" was a sci-fi/comedy. Well, "UP" is a sad/comedy.

Not two minutes into the movie and you can already see that it's building up to an obvious ploy to get the viewers to cry. Very few characters in this movie have a happy back story. With some of the cheap tricks they use to play with the viewers' emotions I'd say they're trying to get an Academy Award.

What we have in this story is an old man who is losing everything. His wife is dead. Some people are trying to take his house. He's old. Rather than get sent to a retirement home he decides to fulfill a promise he made to his late wife and take the house to a remote wilderness that their mutual hero once explored. He does this by attaching a zillion balloons to the house and flying it there.

Naturally, things go wrong. A scout was on his porch when he took off. They hit a storm. They land somewhere close, but not right. A large bird adopts them. Talking dogs chase them. Strange people try to kill them.

Really, all that needs to be said is that it's a Pixar movie. Pixar doesn't make bad movies.

Along those lines I should also mention that Disney is doing another hand drawn cartoon. A few years back Disney completely dismantled their old hand animation department. They saw that the digitally animated movies of Pixar, Dreamworks, and others were doing well while their own stuff tended to be pretty awful. They made the assumption that the important thing was the animation technique and that the story was secondary (or less). They made "Chicken Little" which wasn't bad, but it sure as hell wasn't good. Realizing that they could no longer compete in their core business, cartoons, Disney paid Pixar to take over their animation division. Right off the bat Pixar brought back the hand animation department.

A trailer before "UP" shows that Disney is releasing The Princes and the Frog. Looks like they're trying to get back into what proved to be a winner for Disney in the past. In the past they've remade classic fairy tales such as Snow White, Cinderella, Pinocchio, and the like. Now they're doing The Frog Prince.

I enjoyed "UP" but I will not be getting it on DVD. It's good, but I don't collect sad movies.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Movie Review: Land of the Lost

I am not a fan of Will Farrell. I liked "Stranger Than Fiction" and one online bit that used his George Bush character but that's it. Normally I don't even like his George Bush character. Of course, I'm being completely unfair. I've not seen many of his movies. They look uniformly retarded. It's not Will Farrell but the movies that he acts in.

That said, I was looking forward to Land of the Lost. Not because I was a fan of the original. I watched the original. I think I must have liked it. Don't remember much about it. No, the trailers just looked good.

And this was a movie that delivered exactly what the trailers said it would. It was silly and funny but not uproariously so. What the movie is is fun. You see the movie with some friends and talk through most of it. There's just something about the movie that encourages talking in the theater. This was illustrated by at least three groups of people scattered about the theater.

If you haven't seen the trailers then let me tell you what to expect. Will Farrell is brilliant scientist who comes off as a complete idiot. His theories are nonsense and everyone laughs at him. But eventually, after his career has fallen to middle school science teacher, someone who believes his theories and coaxes him to finish his machine. They go looking for a tachyon source to use and get tossed to another world where dinosaurs live with lizard people, monkey people, and assorted buildings, vehicles, and monuments from all over Earth's history.

Will Farrell finds out that dinosaurs aren't as stupid as he's always been told, don't eat the local plant life, and that people in tunics can't be trusted.

I enjoyed the movie and am glad I saw it. I won't be getting it on DVD, but I think that's the best way to watch it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Links: June 5

Nine years were spent on an investigation into accusations of child abuse by the priests in Catholic Church run schools for Ireland's castaway children. A 2,600 page report detailed widespread child labor violations, beatings, and rape. This has been going on long enough that many of the violators have long since died. The church admits to the crimes but simply moved the priests to new jobs and doesn't release their names. Many of the victims are getting old and have been pushing to have the names of these priests revealed.
In this video, one of the victims lambasts a politician who organized cover-up of priest names.

And here scum of the Earth, Bill Donohue, flatly denies that anything happened. [link]

The administration of Florida Atlantic University intends to sell off two subs owned by their Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. They don't have replacement subs. They don't have replacement vessels or plan to get some. The potential buyers haven't the resources to properly use the vessels. There is a petition to get them to cancel the sale. You can read more on the site. [link]

From The Onion: "Oh, No! It's Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run!" by Matthew Barnes. [link]

Awesome cakes based on childrens' books. [link]

I grew up near Wichita. I remember when the city spent a summer gripped by an anti-choice group called "Operation Rescue". Their tactics made them pariahs and turned many people away from their cause and none to the cause. The clinic they protested was run by a Dr. Tiller. Dr. Tiller had been repeatedly shot, his home and office vandalized, and he needed a body guard. He was assassinated by a religious terrorist (if the assassin was any non-Christian faith everyone else would use that term, too) while in church last weekend.
Someone put up a list of pro-choice charities you might want to contribute to. [link]

What's the guy from "Flight of the Navigator" doing now? [link]

Dr Who fans, a "10 Doctors" storyline has wrapped up after a couple of years. You can read the whole thing after the link. It's very well done. It's not much more than pencil art but you can easily hear the actual actors reading the dialog. [link]

Part 1 of a pretty sweet computer case mod. It's explained in a good deal of detail. Pictures and video available. [link]

Zombies vs Plants video game trailer.

...and some game play.

50 years of space monkeys. [link]

Early drafts of Star Wars. [link]

Sulfur mining pics. [link]

Laser company invents puke ray. [link]

Just as they're being phased out they find how to make incandescent bulbs brighter. [link]

With all the news about GM's bankruptcy and bailout it's worth taking a moment to remember what they once were. All I really remember of them is the last decade or two. The years when they refused to make cars that people actually wanted. This article tells a bit about what they once were and why there's some nostalgia for them. [link]

An app to show what areas will be flooded with different levels of sea rise. [link]

A slick fix for my teeny kitchen. [link]
I'd want something like #15 in the photo gallery.

Something to let you draw directions to somewhere or figure how far you walked. [link]
This one shows where I marched a friend around DC.

Make your bike an electric bike. [link]
I had a previous model in this line. It worked pretty well 9 years ago and is probably better now. It doesn't eat away your tires like some other kits do.

What will you reincarnate as? [link]
I'll be a parrot.

Old story. The Tuttle, OK website goes down and a politician who thinks he's a computer expert blames the makers of the operating system for hacking their site. These are the e-mails exchanged. [link]

Biblical marriage as explained by America's Best Christian.

Lego art. [link]

Henson's 11.

Han Solo P.I.

Brian Blessed to play Odin in the upcoming Thor movie based on the Marvel Comics character. I'm gonna go see the movie just to see that. [link]

How to seduce an uninterested friend. [link]

Toy Story 3 teaser. [link]

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Teeny birdy

Yummy had a birthday last Friday. For her birthday I got her a little birdy.

See, we'd gone out to a PetSmart some weeks back so she could meet the conures. Gandolf is a good bird, but she won't snuggle with you, let you scratch her beak, or sit on Yummy's shoulders for long. Conures are smaller and lighter so they'll climb all over you and sit on Yummy's shoulder. They're very snuggly and loving creatures.

One conure in particular was extra friendly and Yummy fell in love. I offered to get it several times but she always said it was too expensive. So last Thursday I went to buy it and leave it there.

I tell Yummy that she can't dawdle on the way over after work. I tell her we need to pick up her gift before they close. I do this to drive her nuts. I do this so she'll spend the whole day getting keyed up and excited.

We drive there in her car but with me giving directions. We pull in to the parking log of the mini-mall and she still hasn't guessed. We walk in the door and she stops.

"You either got me the blind fishie or something way too expensive."
"It's that second one."

So she went into the bird room to wait with the birdie while I hunted down the manager.

Now, her father doesn't like animals in his house. He grudgingly accepts her kitty. So the teeny bird has to stay at my place and keep Gandolf company. This isn't actually a picture of our two birdies. Someone else has these same to breeds and posted it online for me to steal.

The question we put to you is what we should name it.
Originally she saw that it's head is kind of square and named it Herman Munster which became Herman Meunster Cheese.
I suggested naming it Archimedes after Merlin's owl.
At the moment I've been calling it Fweep.
One in the pet store was Sandra Day O'Conure. Yummy suggested we name ours Sarah Conure after the woman from the Terminator movies.

We're asking for other suggestions.

p.s. - Last night we also tossed around Lil' Thracknar the Destroyer.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Some years ago I played a game of Battleship via e-mail. It resulted in some interesting commentary. Highlights provided below. The board was 13x13 so there are some unusual shots being called.

Best of Radio chatter from the Battle of Wrongway

M13 (there's a call you don't see often)
- *dodges away* HaHa! I counter your M12 with... C12!

Ack! All crew to Forward decks!

You have a talent for giving deckhands the heebie jeebies.

*alarms sounding, as a few sailors profess their love for each other* Abort! Abort!

"Hey, Bob. That musta been the biggest damn dolphin I ever seen."

A tuna fleet in the area make out well with the massive fish kill, but the navy just laughs at your puny guidance system.

"Anybody ever wonder what the advantage of having a gigantic hole every fifty feet of the boat is?"

"What? Oh yeah! BOOOOM!"
"Alas! We sink!"
"My poor leather shoes! Ruined!"
"Think they're buying it?"
- Bah! A child of five could see through your scheming!.. Now where can I find one at this time of day..

"HEY! Stop splashing you jerks!"

"Oh no! Look, Captain. Sharks!"
"Never mind."

"Ha! You missed! .. Hrm.. You seem to have taken a small piece of my ear.. touche'

"Bad news, Captain. The enemy seems to have a child of 5."
Hit and sink

"Sir, we found this floating in the water. We're not sure what it is."
"Well, have Johnson take it below and beat on it with a hammer."

"Sir, we are being fired upon."
"And I'll deal with that just as soon as we figure out who stole the strawberries."

"They've fired their captain at us sir!"
"Well then we better respond likewise - no damnit let me go!"

"You have to give them credit, they certainly give us plenty of time to abandon ship after they first hit us."

"Clear sailing from here, right Skipper?"
"Aye Gilligan, now just - Holy shit incoming!!"

The ship, long since abandoned, decommissioned, and left to collect coral, gets hit.

"Don't you think we should consider moving the fleet sir? They've been bombarding the same 7 mile area for the past 14 rounds."
"You just don't know anything about naval battles.. do you? Now Fire on J5."
"What? Sir that isn't a real location"
"*sighs* I suppose you want my orders in nautical notation too?"

"Evil Empire to aid in decommissioning naval ships." Now that's what I call spin control!

"Sir.. Our spies report the ship has been taken out"
"Wait.. If we have spies, why are we firing at random?"
"God damnit Johnson, just SHUT UP."

"Good news, they just sank another ship!"
"Great! Get a no bid contract for 50 more battleships from my brother's potato chip and pewter miniatures factory."

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
So.... I missed?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Solar Decathlon - Archives

After the 2007 Solar Decathlon I dumped my digital camera and posted the best stuff. I've provided links back to those posts.

Discussion of home renovations with emphasis on the dual flush toilet. [link]

Discussion of induction stoves and the models available. I'm getting one when I redo my kitchen. [link]

Exterior shots of the houses from the 2007 show. LOTS of exterior shots. [link]

Aerogel. Created by NASA for insulating the Martian Pathfinder and for collecting comet particles. Now available for your home. [link]

Barn wood usage in some of the homes. [link]

Making your exposed utilities look good. [link]

A sweet outdoor plant rack and watering system. [link]

Hydroponics. [link]

Green wall were popular that year. [link]

One last thing about plants. [link]

Some interesting drains. [link]

Pictures of different kinds of window slats and why you want some. [link]

Interesting points in the winner's house. [link]

Monday, June 01, 2009

Movie Review: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

If you liked the first "Night at the Museum" movie you'll like this one.

Ben Stiller managed to move on from his job at the museum when his business took off. One evening he goes back to visit and finds most of the artifacts getting packed up and sent into storage under the Smithsonian museums. According to the movie, all the museums are connected by several layers of interconnected tunnels. Much of the footage is in the actual Smithsonian museums but there's a lot done in made up sections.

Not long after that Ben gets a call from one of the Pewter figures saying they're under attack. So, naturally, he has to save them. An ancient Egyptian almost-Pharaoh wants the tablet that animates everyone so he can raise his army of supernatural beings and take over the world.

Action is spread around several of the museums and see figures that have joined the action from museums that they don't visit.

I liked the movie, but I won't get it on DVD. Mind you, I didn't get the first one on DVD either.