Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I've got some blog posts that I'm working on, but I've got some work to do on them yet. I needed something that I could kind of slap out. Hey! I know. Blog stats! That should interest nobody at all but me. Well it's my blog, so suffer.

My all time most popular blog post was about making a homemade CD lens cleaner. I posted it in May of 2007 and month after month it keeps getting the most hits. I get that. It's something everyone in a technological society needs at some point.

The next few are less understandable.
Number two is my review of "Clash of the Titans". It's not a particularly good review. But the phrase "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" does appear a time or three.

Number three is my review of the book "Death Troopers". I assume it's because it's a Star Wars book and there are lots of fans. Plus, this one has a zombie overlap and people will want to know if it's good before they buy it. Maybe? I dunno.

Back in 2006 I used a DIY spray on insulation called "Tiger Foam". It was a disaster. I'm still scraping the hardened residue of the fluid that leaked out from the floor of my shower. It come in number 4 because it's the only product like it and people want to know whether to mess with it. Don't.

Fifth is my post from when I found the remains of the SciFi.com audio series "Seeing Ear Theater". It was a good radio series that remained buried on their website for years. After it went away I went looking for it elsewhere. The links are all defunct now. Still, see if you can find it somewhere. It's worth a listen.

6th - "How to write on a steamy mirror". I've considered redoing this but writing "The Game" on the mirror. I figure I'd get a ton of 4Chan people here.

7th - One I'm most proud of and is linked to most from other sites is my "Record player animation". I figured out how to do looping animations using a record player and a camera.

8th - How to make your own paving stones. Also proud of. Not so many links to it.

9th - "Papercraft Katamari". The Prince was redrawn from a low-res version on another site. The Katamari was my design. Yes, I have the ability to model dodecahedrons in my head well enough to draw them on a 2 dimensional surface.

10th - I'm not at all proud of my review of "Hoodwinked Too" and don't know why anyone reads it.

Popular keywords (all time):
1 - tiger foam review
2 - dougintology
3 - radiolab symmetry
4 - death troopers
5 - tiger foam reviews
6 - release the kraken
7 - scorpion candy
8 - far side cartoons (one post. ONE! Why does this get the hits?)
9 - homemade dvd lens cleaner
10 - katamari papercraft

Honorable mention to the post about the Solar Decathlon window slats.

Popular keywords (this month):
1 - scorpion candy
2 - star wars death troopers
3 - death troopers
4 - far side cartoons (WHY!?!)
5 - katamari papercraft
6 - dehumidifier solar decathlon
7 - homemade molds for bricks with cement
8 - pictures of writing on steamy mirrors
9 - release the kraken
10 - star wars wallpaper

Most hits are from American, Windows users, using Internet Explorer. After that German, Mac users on Firefox and British, Linux users on Chrome. In 10th place are South Korean, PlayStation Portable users using UniversalFeedParser. I also welcome the Swedish folk who got here using Netscape on a Wii.

StumbleUpon seems to be the most popular source for people to follow links from. But why they go to the archive site for June 2007 I don't know. That's followed by Yummy's blog at number 7 and blog.makezine.com at number 9. But, frankly, I think makezine stays so high because so many people came here when they reposted my record player trick.

Out of curiosity, what brought you here the first time?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kansas in December

You get a picture today. Deal with it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Links: January 27

Senator Dodd doesn't get it. SOPA is a horrible bill and the only way to get Congress to talk to concerned parties without massive payoffs is a massive blackout that makes sure the whole country knows and gets angry. [link]

You may have seen a trailer for the upcoming movie "Pirates!". The trailer has a scene where the pirate captain raids a ship that turns out to be full of lepers. Turns out several groups that represent lepers are complaining so the scene will be either changed or removed. Props to Aardman for not wanting to cause hard feelings, but shame on the lepers for not finding the humor in it. [link]

More Starbucks to begin selling wine and beer in southern California and Atlanta. Caffeine, alcohol, when do the tobacco sales start? [link]

I may need one of these bookshelves. [link]

This ad campaign needed a bit more thought. [link]

Game: Color - Test your color vision with this color matching game. I got and 8.9. I'm convinced I could do better. [link]

The Pirate Bay has named and will host plans for things that can be made using 3D printers. [link]

I have to assume the government's response to the SOPA blackouts was the raid on the Megaupload HQ. They hosted files that were too big for e-mail. I'm figuring that the raid and extradition of the owners was to point out that the point of SOPA/PIPA is to attack foreign data thieves. This article talks a bit about the raid and what Megaupload did. [link]
I have used Megaupload for both legal and non-legal purposes. Mostly to send the files for our books to proof readers and printers.

Anonymous struck out at RIAA, MPAA, Universal Music, and the Department of Justice in a response to SOPA. [link]

A country musician had a bird land on him during a concert. [link]
This has happened to me a couple of times. Minus the country music, of course.

Seriously nasty sea water in South Africa. [link]

Bad product knockoffs. [link]

Modular chocolates. [link]

I'm not sure what case motivated this decision, but the Supreme Court has decided that works in the public domain may have their copyright reinstated. [link]

Cats sing Christmas songs. Dogs sing movie theme songs.

Subway's product placement in "Hawaii 5-0" is even more blatant than the Prius and Vespa placements in "Bones".

Music video made in MSPaint.

Beavis and Butthead made real. [link]

Obama having some fun. [link]

You get a baby to cooperate for a picture by having the mother with it, just hidden. [link]

I'll have that, thanks.

The Puppet's Court. [link]

Whisky is lighter than water and it makes for a nifty bar trick. [link]

A 16 year old girl sailed around the world by herself. But Dutch authorities tried to stop her and she's afraid of returning home. [link]

Proper etiquette in recovering things from a burning house. [link]

A bat infestation under some roof tiles. Some more more like mice or spiders.

Right wing senior citizens had plans to save the Constitution by going on a killing spree at a Waffle House. [link]

Hideous cars that I love. [link]

What the inside of a SpaceX Dragon Capsule looks like. [link]

Vertical surface snowboarding. [link]

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adam and Eve as AI

I actually wrote a very similar post to this before, but it was five years ago so I don't feel so bad about repeating myself.

According to the Bible, in the beginning God made a bunch of stuff and then created man and woman. He turned them loose and told them to name things, take care of things, and generally be in charge. 

Jump forward however many years you think are appropriate and you have now. We're working on developing computers with an artificial intelligence. There is a question, however, as to what "intelligence" means. So far AIs tend to be restricted to single tasks. Winning chess games (straight up logic). Playing Jeopardy (context recognition, data sorting, selection of most likely answer). Controlling the behavior of the guards in video games. Things like that. None of which would be likely to survive long if released into the wild to fend for itself. Granted, most of us couldn't survive in the wild, but you get what I'm saying. They do what they do and nothing else.

To be fair, there are some tiny virtual cockroaches that do a bang up impression of actual cockroaches. They may actually be able to survive and multiply if they were given the ability to reproduce and released into the walls of a high school lunch room.

My point is that, while it has some remarkable data parsing skills, Watson is still a computer that is following a program. He can't ad lib. He can't get stage fright. He can't make his own decisions. He can't go against his programming. If you or I went on Jeopardy we could give it our best shot because we want the money. We could also start insulting Alex Trebek's mother or practicing our standup routine. Watson could only answer the questions to the best of it's ability, not decide to hook up with a cute little Lisa and run off to Spain. 

Even the AIs in Skyrim are disappointing compared to the AIs in the Thief games. If I put an arrow through someone in Skyrim they'll go looking for me and eventually decided they were hearing things. That arrow sticking out of his chest is a figment of his imagination. But in Thief they'll start investigating if they just hear your footsteps. If they find a corpse or there's an arrow sticking out of them they will never ever stop looking for you. They'll even get others to help.

I'll be impressed as hell when we have a robot that can do accounting or paint or be a dentist. But I don't think it'll be intelligent until it can decide to quit it's job as an accountant to go start it's own accounting firm. Or, better yet, when it can get fired from it's job for embezzling funds so he can spend it's out of warranty years surfing and scuba diving in Tahiti. 

This is where we get back to my original point and what I was on about five years ago. God had filled the planet will all kinds of animals with low level AIs. Grow, decompose dead material, eat, mate, attack, hide, etc. Nothing revolutionary. But God wanted something that he didn't have to pay attention to. Those neanderthals were doing alright, but they weren't going anywhere. They kept making the same tools over and over. Not much in the way of creativity. Whether he was working with a new model or a select pair or neanderthals doen't matter, but God introduced a computer worm (i.e. serpent). It tweaked Eve's programming a bit so she was able to ask "well, why shouldn't I eat the fruit? Because Gaaaawd told me not to? Screw that." And she defied given instructions ate the apple. 

That's the important part. The "defied given instructions" part. And it means that the serpent wasn't Satan or an agent thereof as our sunday school teachers told us (note that the Bible says no such thing). Yes, the first humans defied God's will, but it was God's will that we defy God's will. The whole bit with the forbidden fruit was a test to see if the given programming was intelligence or simply another machine following orders. It was a final beta test before final release outside of Eden.

Mind you, I don't believe a word of this. But, if someday I do find religion and it's roughly Biblically inspired this is what I'm gonna be believing. That's a whole lot of ifs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: Bjork

Turns out Bjork has a song called "Sod Off".

Here's the lyrics since I can't tell what the hell she's saying.

I know I've been tolerant 'til now
but here comes a warning,
there's a very clear line that I'm drawing
and if you cross it

Sod off

If you think I'll let you pull me down to
your third-class communication
and bulldoze over all my sensitivities
you've read me all wrong

Sod off

Things so far have been too perfect
this is the premiere
but oh, how many dress rehearsals
I've been through

Darling this is far too pure and perfect 
won't let you corrupt it
sod off
I won't let you ruin this

Sod off

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hot cake, pan cake, johnny cake

I've wondered for awhile if there was a difference between a hot cake and a pancake. You know, as in "they sold like hot cakes". But I never wondered at a time or place that was convenient to looking it up. Then, at the start of the cattle drive last September I got to try jonnycakes which made me wonder even more. There was clearly a difference between pancakes and jonnycakes as jonnycakes seem to be primary corn meal. Not bad, really, but certainly in need of more syrup than you'd need in pancakes.

Hot cakes refer to a thin batter fried on both sides on a griddle. This includes anything called battercake, flannel cake, flannel-cake, flapcake, flapjack, hotcake, pancake, or griddlecake.

Jonnycake (also johnnycake, johnny cake, journey cake, johnny bread, hoecake) refers to a fried gruel made of a mixture of corn meal, salt, and water or milk. Sweetening is optional, but strongly recommended.

Both are made with quick bread which is any bread made with a non-yeast leavening material.

Now you know, but I bet you wish you had those couple of minutes back.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Review: Underworld: Awakening

I don't know what trailer I saw, but I walked into this movie knowing only that it was yet another Underworld movie. Yummy loves these movies so there was no way we weren't going to see this. Not unless Kate Beckinsale started wearing glitter.

First of all, know that you don't need to have seen any of the previous three Underworld movies. I remember going into the third movie with only the vaguest recollection of what happened in the first two and I was pretty much lost. At a few points they gave us a quick reminders and I needed them. This fourth movie has a quick "previously on..." segment at the beginning of the movie, but it wasn't really necessary other than to establish the characters. That's because this starts a new story in the Underworld universe. 

You'll keep hearing two names. Selene is a bad ass warrior vampire who has protected her clan for thousands of years until they turned against her and she was forced to kill the leadership. Michael is the first vampire/werewolf hybrid and is Selene's love interest. His part in this movie is to be Selene's motivation. Pretty much everything else from the previous movies is not relevant.

That's because, after a brief action scene, we have Selene waking up after 12 years in stasis. The existence of vampires and werewolves is now well known in the world. Instead of a big revival of the church or the development of artificial blood, like in some movies, the discovery let to major military development and death squads. Werewolves are thought extinct. The hunt for vampires continues. But while the military and police have training and special vampire weapons they haven't faced anything like Selene. Among vampires she was always one of the best trained and most able. She's skilled in the used of the same weapons and force multipliers that the humans have. But, as the trailer shows, a scalpel is more than she needs. 

But if she's that good, then what kind of lame ass movie is this? That's the part that neither I nor the trailer are saying. There's something much stronger and there's a couple of somethings that keep drawing her back into the battle instead of just getting the hell out of Dodge.

So, what we have is an action movie that tries to duplicate the Matrix, but falls a bit short. Not a lot short, but it's not quite there. That's still a heck of a lot better than the typical action movie. It has vampires that are actually threatening and monsters that can smack the vampires around. 

I won't get it on DVD, but Yummy might. We'll be seeing the next movie in the sequence when it comes out. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Links: January 20

What makes Fins good racers and learning how to race on varied surfaces. A clip from "Top Gear".

A word from a former Guantánamo detainee. [link]

This species of giant tortoise may not be extinct, just hiding. [link]

So there's this new video game controller called "Avenger". It wasn't being delivered on time so one of the people who pre-ordered it wrote in to ask when it was gonna show up. The company doing publicity decided that the appropriate response would be complete jackassery. Then the guys at Penny Arcade stepped in and ruined someone's life. You can follow along here.
The guy did eventually say he was sorry. Alas, he was just sorry that he was a jackass to someone with the pull to ruin his life, not for being a jackass. [link]

Push the button. [link]

A video John Scalzi's daughter meeting a record for the first time. [link]

A guy telling the story about how he went to check out where his electronics are made and the factory conditions. [link]

Huh. Turns out Santorum won the Iowa Caucus. Too bad for him that nobody cares anymore. [link]

A planetarium for the bathtub. Project either up or down. [link]

Alien attack as seen by surfers. A guy has to have his priorities.

If the food wasn't unappealing enough, here's another reason not to eat at McDonalds. [link]

You think SOPA and PIPA won't be abused? These are the people who tried to make VCRs illegal. [link]

Fun fact: SOPA would have the power to take down Whitehouse.gov and the author's own website. [link]

Look! A SOPA circumvention plug-in for Firefox. [link]

The reaction of politicians to Wednesday's SOPA/PIPA protest. [link]

CW, the network that brought us "Smallville" with Green Arrow will have a new "Green Arrow" series that isn't related to the "Smallville" series. [link]

Ellen McClain, voice of GlaDOS, cold reading something at a convention.

Here someone tweeked her voice for the full effect. [link]

An actor who played a goblin in the Harry Potter movies was victim of a dwarf tossing attack. He may be wheelchair bound for life. [link]

Thieves spend 6 months tunneling into an ATM. [link]

Heavy metal Batman theme medley. 3:40 FTW!

Be sure to check out this guy's other stuff.

Zombies to go the Twilight route. The horror. the horror. [link]

Stools made with solidified ferromagnetic fluids. [link]

Sledding crow.

Wall-E made creepy.

Disney to do "Into the Woods". [link]

6. FUS RO DAH [link]

A dangerous way to level a building. [link]

Raytheon shows off their snazzy new police cars. [link]
I want my GPS to be able to tell me where that emergency vehicle siren is coming from. Do I need to get over or is the ambulance on a cross street? I can't tell.

This is a good idea. The preferred glassware at my house are Ball jars. But do I really want them to look like sippy cups? [link]

The birds and the bees in slow motion and time lapse HD. [link]

I saw some flakes the other day. Is that enough to make one of these snow forts? [link]

A video of 30 hornets take out 30,000 honey bees. [link]
Wait, are these the same damn bees that won't hesitate to come after me if I step in the wrong place? FIGHT BACK YOU LOSERS!
Watch the video lower down the page that has the narration.

Pictures of a comet hitting the sun. [link]

More nature films! Short clips in slow motion. [link]

How Stanley Kubrick created the model for modern movie distribution. [link]

How graffiti should be done. [link]
Actually, the guy who did picture 16 (between the bus stop and Burger King trash can) did do a couple of place in DC. A wall and a phone switch box.

Why Best Buy is slowly going out of business. [link]

John Lennon was a crazy cat laddie. [link]

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cat Tee Pee

Sorry this was late. It decided to post on January 19, 2011 instead of 2012. My bad.

- - -

I got Yummy a pretty good air filter for the third anniversary of our first date. The box with the air filter came in another box that just sort of sat around taking up space. But when she left me at her place a few weeks back I turned my attentions on it.

The box was 13 inches wide on the ends, 22 inches front and back with flaps on the top and bottom. I folded the front and back in half making four 11 inch segments. I marked a point (A) on each corner 6 inches above the flaps that were on the bottom of the box. The top flaps came off. From the top corners I made sure to mark (B) equal distances that left 1 inch in the middle of the 11 inch segments and 3 inches in the middle of the 13 inch segments. I drew lines connecting the points A to the points B. Those lines became the 6 corners that come down from the top. Luckily I remembered to leave flaps to overlap the neighboring cardboard. Then I cut away what I didn't want. Hot glue connected the flaps behind the neighboring sides. The bottom flaps were folded so they overlap.

The teepee was an immediate point of interest for the cats. They were torn between their love of cardboard and the need to snub anything made specifically for them.

Pinky enjoying Seamus' teepee.
Seamus walked into the teepee, turned around, stood there, and then left. He did that a few more times. And while I was in Kansas Yummy reported that he slept in there for an hour. So I'm declaring the teepee a success. Still, I think the cat wants a more comfortable floor for the hut.

p.s. - All that was written back in mid-November. Last weekend I cut up a carpet Yummy is getting rid of and put a more comfortable floor in the teepee. A few hours later I finally got to see Seamus spend a couple of hours sleeping in there.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Suck My Balls Wednesday: The blackout

Many sites on the internet have gone black today. Do you understand why? Do you understand why Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Wikipedia, and so many others are protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA)? Those bills wouldn't end the internet, but they would result in a change so significant that you wouldn't recognize it anymore. They would effectively get rid of user generated content without accomplishing their alleged goal of stopping software, music, and movie piracy.

Here's a primer on SOPA. [link]

Adam Savage from Mythbusters goes into it a bit deeper. [link]

More still. [link]

You might be thinking that these are big companies with lots of money for lawyers. That they don't have to worry. But these were small companies at one point. They and thousands of others wouldn't have survived under these proposed laws. Thousands of more companies won't have a chance to get off the ground if these bills pass.

If you're not in the United States, don't think this doesn't affect you. The internet is global and much of it runs out of here. We'll start blocking sites we don't approve of. So even those that just want to do business in America will have to change to adhere to these laws. This is America trying to dictate how the internet runs everywhere.

GoDaddy supported SOPA and their customers left by the thousands. [link] GoDaddy felt it and it hurt. 

So complain. If you can't complain to politicians in the United States complain to your own and tell them to complain. If you do business with companies in the United States stop and tell them why you've stopped. Make those who support this bill suffer. 

I've told lots of others to sod off. Not Congress. Congress can suck my balls.

Sign these petitions if you want them to suck your balls, too. [link 1] [link 2]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Adventure of Tintin

There was no way I wasn't gonna see this movie. Not with the list of names it has as writers, directors, and producers.

Steven Moffat was the writer early in development. He had to leave at some point because he was offered the job as Executive Producer for "Doctor Who". He had offers for several other movies that he turned down for the lower paying job with Doctor Who because it was Doctor Who. Getting to work on that was a dream come true. You should also check out the shows "Sherlock", "Coupling", and "Jekyll". He was the sole writer on those last two titles.

Edgar Wright and some guy I've never heard of took over when Moffat left. He first came to my attention as the director for "Spaced". He also directed and cowrote "Shawn of the Dead" and "Scott Pilgrim vs The World".

Peter Jackson started with some rather fantastic but horrific movies called "Meet the Feebles" and "Dead Alive". But you probably know him best for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, District 9, and the upcoming Hobbit movies.

Then there's the legendary Steven Spielberg. We could spend all day talking about his credits. But this movie is one he wanted to direct personally.

I know a little about Tintin, but not enough to speak to how well it sticks to the source material. It does try to keep some of the comedic background activity of the comic strips and comic books. I don't know how much action there was. Some people have complained that they feel the action in the movie is over the top. I have to point out that it was a comic strip and comic book first so there'd be as much of a caricature in terms of action as there is in the characters' faces. And Spielberg made sure that with everything going on in an action scene that you could still tell what was happening. No shaky camera, lens flares, or excessive chaos covering up poorly planned action. It moves fast, but you get to see it all unfold and can follow the action.

The movie begins with Tintin buying a model sailing ship for a pittance. Almost immediately people start offering him huge sums of money for the ship. Fortunately for the movie goer, they won't take no for an answer. It turns out that the ship is part of a puzzle that leads to a sunken ship full of treasure. This, of course, is a huge summation of the plot. The movie is about the hunt for the other ships so they can keep them out of the hands of the villain of the movie.

I loved the movie, I'll get it on DVD, and I'll be waiting eagerly for the sequel.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Links: January 13

Look like a brilliant programmer just by pounding keys. [link]

Pictures by a girl who snuck into a Russian rocket factory. [link]

How to make your own Doritos.

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article about a game pigs can play with people via an iPad.
Gandolf, my african grey parrot, has a switch on her cage that she uses to turn the radio on and off.
Oliver Queen, Yummy's green cheeked conure, plays Baby Balloons on her phone.
Prozac (Rosie), her other conure, attacks the cursor on her laptop.
Hobbes, my old cat, would search the ground for Mario whenever he fell down a hole on the TV.
Orangutans using iPads. [link]

Bearded dragon playing "Ant Crusher" on a phone.

But this is more of the owner playing with the cat than the cat playing with the computer.

Trivia. Some of it is even interesting. [link]

A cow escaped from a slaugherhouse. She fled to Sonic. [link]

picture: duck duck duck goose [link]

Select your singing hedgehog. [link]

A new beauty treatment - Fotoshop by Adobé. [link]

Electroshock: a cartoon (8 minutes). [link]

Why nobody ever talks about building a better cat trap.

TARDIS purse. [link]

On the hook for Star Trek 2 is Noel (Mickey) Clarke [link] and Benedict (Sherlock) Cumberbatch [link] as the unnamed villain.

"Literal Eclipse of the Heart" with Dr Who clips.

With original video. [link]

My new desktop wallpaper. [link]

Action figure technology has come so far since I was a kid. This Steve Jobs action figure is amazing looking. Mind you, in about two minutes those hands are gonna be hiding in the same place as that lightsaber you lost back in 1982. [link]

I'm thrilled that Santorum did so well in Iowa. A wackaloon like that doesn't have a chance in hell of winning. Enjoy these lovely displays of bigotry and ignorance from his own mouth. [link]

Can Montana's Supreme Court challenge the United States Supreme Court on the question of the personhood of corporations? They're gonna try. [link]

Orchestral version of "Still Alive (the theme to Portal)". [link]

Anti-whaling activists are now using drone technology to track Japanese whalers, most of whose work is illegal. [link]

I wasn't gonna mention the new crab named after David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff, because I thought that the nickname was their only appeal, but these pictures are rather impressive. [link]

10 pretty slick Christmas trees. That Lego tree must have some non-Lego supports. And I want a closer look at that plastic bottle tree. [link]

Superconductive maglev track.

This guy is drinking 42 litres of Diet Coke a week. Yummy's addiction isn't that bad, but not for a lack of trying. [link]

Fractals and music and it's a game and... I dunno. Have a look. Perhaps with some weed and a black light. [link]

Ok, now that you're already a bit stoned check out Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, and Weird Al performing "Come Together".

Ok, it's better in concept than in execution. So is this a cappella rendition of "Du Hast".

The movie adaptation of "World War Z" is gonna be a trilogy. I suddenly have a lot more faith that it'll be good. [link]

Some time back we saw these quad-rotor flying robots doing some impressive flying. Now they're working together to build a monument. [link]

If that's not Skynet enough for you, these guys have self healing computer chips. [link]

Hamster powered (and sized) sub.

If what I'm reading in this article is right you should be able to use a black light to help check for scorpions. If you try it out let me know how it works. [link]

12 ft model of Serenity used in the movie has been found. [link]

Depictions of snow in 100 different video games. [link]

Could automobile exhaust be making mid-week storms and tornadoes worse? It's a hypothesis worth considering. Add some research and it could become a theory. [link]

I've seen ladders turned into book shelves, but not like this. [link]

Use a hula hoop to make a carpet. [link]

An impressive massive king of hearts built in Minecraft. [link]

Only funny to people who have played Skyrim.

The canopy of a A-12 Avenger II stealth attack aircraft is on sale on Ebay. $620,238.00 as of last night when I looked. [link]

Katamari Christmas. [link]

Matt Smith and Gillian Anderson talking about their ComicCon experience on Graham Norton. I've seen the picture of Matt with all 11 doctor costumes. I love that he has that picture on his phone.

A much needed sign in any store. [link]

GoDaddy lost a lot of customers for supporting the SOPA. I know my friends were asking each other for another good option. [link]

Not familiar with SOPA? Read up. [link 1] [link 2]

I've carved up enough books that I can tell you THIS [link] is WORK!

RIAA claims they're not really downloading $9 million dollars of TV shows. "Someone's spoofing our IP addresses!" [link]

Smartphones make one more step toward Star Trek. [link]

A clip from the BBC4 show "So Wrong It's Right" where the guests bicker about the value of Twitter. [link]

I've got more, but I'm calling it good for this week.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kansas Cosmosphere

Cosmosphere lobby
There are three really big space museums. One is the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum here in Washington, D.C. Another is in Russia somewhere and is spelled with characters not on my keyboard. The third is the Kansas Cosmophere located in a remote backwater called Hutchinson. 

It had been a long time since I last went there. Last time it had been recently overhauled. Among the changes had been making the lobby to look like the picture above. Yes, the SR-71 Blackbird is real. No, the Space Shuttle is not. 

There's a number of shows to watch at the Cosmosphere. 
Instead of the obligatory IMAX theater they have an OmniMax theater. The difference is that the IMAX is big an flat while the OmniMax is a dome that wraps around so the movie fills your peripheral vision and enhances the sense of motion the movie causes. But, it shows the same movies as the IMAX theaters. 
The planetarium show was rather lacking. It was alright, but you've almost certainly seen better.
Robert Goddard's Lab, on the other hand, had a pretty good show. We've all seen those physics demonstrations with the super cooled liquid gasses and dry ice and foaming whatnots. That's what I was expecting and it's why I'd never bothered to go before. Instead the presenter talks about what problems Robert Goddard had when working on his rockets and the solutions he came up with and he does it while running a series of demonstrations to illustrate the problems and the solutions. The demonstrations include a number of things I haven't seen in other wizard's labs or physics shows. 

Then there's the display area, the actual museum part. They've redone it since I was there last. Before it was mostly a collection of exhibits with a few rooms dedicated to specific subjects. Now the walk through the museum tells a story. 

It starts with an actual V2 rocket from WWII. After all, if not for Hitler our space program wouldn't be nearly as developed as it is. This room tells about the scientists who developed the V2, the minions who died building them, and the madman who decided to make them instead of nuclear weapons. 

The next few rooms talk about the aftermath of the war. How the Americans and Soviets agreed to divy up the rocket tech but grabbed all they could anyway. About Werner Von Braun and Sergei Korolev, heads of the American and Soviet rocket programs both had to lie and manipulate their way along so that they could make space craft and satellites instead of weaponry. About the space race the direct conflicts between American and Soviet leaders.

After going through those exhibits I'd really like to see a pair of movies about the drive to space from the views of Von Braun and Korolev. Each gets a movie. In each movie there would be appearances and footage from the other movie and each movie would paint themselves as the good guys and the other side as the bad guys. I've always wanted to see a movie like that, showing both sides of a conflict as they saw it. This would make a great subject to do that with.

Anyway, around the time of the moon landing the story fragments a bit. Without the conflict with the Soviets it becomes about space programs and their artifacts. And their artifacts are pretty damn good. It was at the Cosmophere that they did the restoration of the Liberty Bell capsule after they recovered it from the ocean floor. What I was looking for (but didn't find) was the tire from a Space Shuttle that they used to have. They used to have the wear pattern marked to show what parts were lost during what part of touchdown. They really only get one use. 

And, as long as you're in Hutchinson, try to hit the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. Really, they need a better name for it. There's ongoing salt mining going on in that area. The active part of the mine is far from the museum, but you get to take the elevator down to the old part and spend sometime wandering around. They'll give you a hard hat and oxygen mask just in case. There's a train and an electric tram to take you around so you can see a bit more than you'd be willing to walk. Take the tram. You get to pick out a lump of unprocessed salt from a pile and take it home.

As they clear out space other things move in. The mine is used for storage for old TV and movie film and props. Some of them are on display.

If you go, be sure to get an appointment. People go down in groups and the groups are limited in number due to the limited size of the elevator. You wanna make sure you're not waiting for an opening. Also, you get a discount if you get tickets for both the salt mine and the Cosmophere.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Potatoes 2011 (success!)

I've been trying to get a potato barrel to work for several years now. I've grown a few very tiny potatoes, but nothing worthy of any respect. But while digging around in the barrel the other day I found two potatoes of respectable size. Whether they can be eaten is a subject for another time.

2 potatoes and a neighbor kid
I'm still recovering files (only 40,000+ processed so far) so I don't have the pictures of the barrel over the season. You have to hear me talk about it instead.

I started with actual seed potatoes from the Ace Hardware near Yummy's place. First time I'd seen them for sale. They were put in a barrel with a few inches of good dirt and dead vegetation under and over them. I worried at first that they'd just rot, but after a week or two I saw the plant peeking up.

In a previous attempt I'd let the plant grow up, fall over, and then bury it. I wanted runners that went around and around. That was wrong. This time, as they grew up, I kept burying them so they'd always just have the upper most leaves poking up. Amazingly, I had to add dirt twice a week.

Then I waited for the leaves to die off. That's how I'm supposed to know to harvest them. But they didn't die. July came and cooked the plants, but it just grew new leaves. In late October they finally died. I could have harvested them then, but Yummy saw something saying that leaving them in the ground makes the skins tougher and the potatoes better able to survive long periods on a shelf without rotting. And I had no good place to put the dirt. So I waited. Yes, until a warm day in early January. Don't judge me.

I think I can still improve things, but I'm pretty happy with this year's results.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Aluminum bottles

I've gotten a number of stories about these bottles from a number of sources. If you see some factual errors I'd like to be corrected.

I got these over Christmas when I was in Kansas. If you look south south west of Wichita you'll see a small town called Clearwater. At the intersection of the two main streets through town you'll find a burger joint called Walt's. That's where I got these aluminum bottles.

Walt's is a chain that currently boasts only three restaurant, each of which is very different from the others. So it's very likely that the one in Clearwater is the only one of the three that sells these. As far as the staff knew they were not only the only Walt's selling them, but the only place selling them at all. At least that's what the Coke sales rep implied. He said these bottles were exclusive to them. He must mean from the Wichita bottling plant.

My brother said one of the major beer companies (one of those that sell horse piss and call it beer. Budweiser or someone) had been doing them with limited success so they stopped. Now Coke is trying to make use of the machine.

They're new enough and rare enough right now that you can still flip the bottles on eBay for a profit. And you know where to get them cheap.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Movie Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

This is the second trailer for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." The first trailer showed a series of clip, a fraction of a second each, with words from the title thrown in. You had no idea what the movie was about. Since I'm one of the few people who haven't read anything in this series it was rather annoying.

The most important thing to know is that this movie is very, very rated R. Not rated X. Rated R with an R big enough that Stephen Hawking wrote his thesis on it. The book was brutal (I'm told) and they didn't pull back for the movie version. Nudity, yes, a fair amount of that. Probably more than you'd want to see in a movie you're watching with your parents. And then unblinking scenes of sexual abuse and rape. She does, however, get payback. Just not when you're expecting it if you're unfamiliar with the story.

The trailer I used above does a good job of telling what the movie is about without giving it all away. Our hero, a journalist of Woodward and Bernstein mentality, has just lost a case where he trusted the wrong informant. He needs to get away from things. Some millionaire hires him to investigate what happened to the relative who vanished back in the '60s. After some time he decides he needs some help and hires the girl who investigated him for the millionaire.

She's broken on many different levels. Socially she's rude and surly. She may have trouble knowing right from wrong, or she just might not care. It's hard to blame her as you learn more about how she grew up. But she has managed to turn her damage to her advantage. She's a pretty good hacker and a great investigator with as close as you can realistically get to a photographic memory. And god help you if she feels you've wronged her.

It was a great movie. I liked it a lot. Well, except for those excessively graphic bits. I will be seeing the next one and the original Swedish version. I'll probably get the audio book version, too. And that of the other books in the series. On DVD? Maybe. I'll see what mood I'm in when it comes out. But probably eventually.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Coming soon

Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east.
Almost back up. Until then ponder this question...

Is a common saying considered your catch phrase if it's always other people saying it around you?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Technical difficulties

My computer is having issues. It's called a Kernel Panic. Happens every time I start it. It's all "SHIT MOTHERFUCKER! DID YOU SEE THAT! HOLY MUPPET RAPING JESUS ON A POGO STICK! ETC. ETC. ETC. AND ON AND ON!!!" You'd think it'd calm down after a bit and get back to work, but no. That's why it's a Colonel Panic instead of a Private Panic. Still, you'd think it would know how to spell it's rank. Maybe the misspelling is part of the panic.

Anyway, until I can slap some sense into it you should expect continued not talkingness on my part.