Monday, December 21, 2015

Links for whenever

Bloody Simpsons opening

Why we don't let the kids drive

Spock tribute song

Blue Origin's successful rocket landing

The perfect Republican speech. [link]

Words that should have died. [link]

A Star Wars love story - Green Leader [link]

Some people just need Darwin to smite them. [link]

100 fantastic photos made without Photoshop. [link]

Injured elephants turn to people for help. [link]

Hateful Eight filmed in native 70 mm. Why you should see it. 

Room temperature diamond manufacturing. [link]

Astronaut and cartoonist have a chat. [link]

Smartphone add on can diagnose malaria. [link]

A scan of Pluto's surface. [link]

Everybody Hates Ted Cruz. [link]

The biggest known planetary ring system. [link]


The invention and death of privacy. [link]

Brilliant room model. [link]

Scientists who discovered gluten sensitivity change their minds. [link]

How Claire McCaskill won her election by funding Todd Akin. [link]

Friday, December 11, 2015


I recently ordered some duckweed for a couple of projects for family and neighbor kids. Step one is breeding it. I knew I'd need more than my own eye to be able to tell me how fast it's growing. So I took pictures. Here's a bit more than 24 hours of growth.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Friday Links: October/November

Toy Story refilmed with real toys.

$1 of drug treatment equals way more in enforcement and control. [link]
These are Canadian numbers, but I'd have to guess that America's numbers are similar.

Game: Mosaic Box - collect pieces of a song and then assemble it to make famous musical pieces. [link]

How to find out where your microwave heats. [link]

Obama's real economic record. [link]

Homeless man had his dog stolen by animal activists.

Homeless man's dog returned to him. [link]

Guinea pig bridge. (turn down volume)

SG1 reunion panel. [link]

Benny Netanyahoo blames the Holocaust on Muslims. Germany corrects him. [link]

Mortgage derives from the French for "death pledge". [link]

The Y2K bug did do something bad. [link]

Guns and Roses marionette in the subway.

Hillary e-mails prove Bush and Blair planned Iraq war. Thanks for exposing that Republicans! [link]

The clips on bread bags mean something. [link]

Watch the video - Tesla battery tech for the house. [link]

When you speed up a recording everyone becomes the Chipmunks. What happens when you slow the Chipmunks down? [link]

People have stripes, too. [link]

Super efficient lettuce farm. [link]

Photos of molecules. [link]

Failed islands make for successful coral. [link]

A prison with an open door model. [link]

Negatives found in Antarctica successfully developed. [link]

George RR Martin's house. [link]

That car from the Fallout games had a real world basis. [link]

The day the U-Boat washed up in Hastings. [link]

Talking with North Koreans. [link]

Will Barbie spy for you? Or for the government? [link]

Historical texts find no evidence of Jesus. [link]

Big badda-boom. [link]

DEA chief denies science. "Drugs are bad, m'kay." [link]

The Petticoat Rebellion - or that time women took office. [link]

Serotonin comes from your guts. [link]

Air Force dumped bodies of soldiers in a landfill. [link]

Mice sing, too. [link]

Who has a 3D printer?! [link]

Cats at the G20. [link]

It's harder to buy a barrel of oil than you might think. [link]

Paper e. coli. [link]

The budget camera rigs of The Evil Dead. [link]

It sucks to be Vigo the Carpathian or to be around him. [link]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This is Halloween, this is Halloween

This was my makeup for Halloween 2015.
I made a plaster cast of my face, filled it with foam created by mixing Gorilla Glue and water. I used a high heat hot glue gun and white hot glue to make the teeth on some glass, popped them off and trimmed them to shape. Used pink hot glue on the face to hold the teeth in place and to make sure they'd fit my face. Spirit gum held them on. Black sclera lenses on my eyes to make them black.

Bonus: the teeth on my eyes chewed when my real mouth did. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pre Halloween

A neighbor had me do her makeup for a party.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Movie Review: The Martian

Movie Review: The Martian

The movie version of The Martian came out last night. How did it come out so soon after the book? Apparently the movie and book deals were both struck within four days of each other. The movie was great. Yeah, some stuff was cut. Some stuff is almost always cut when they adapt a whole book to fit a movie sized spot. But some stuff is added. In the case of this movie they added some fantastic shots of Mars. We've had so many landers and rovers and satellites land there that they can do some super realistic shots of the landscape and the weather patterns. And it's gorgeous.

Let me tell you what they cut without giving away spoilers. Many of the problems and disasters. Most of the math is gone. Much of the botany and biology. Much of the chemistry. Not all of it. Some of it, one could argue, wasn't cut, but assumes the viewer isn't an idiot and knows what he's doing. Some of the chemistry is explained, but the movie doesn't tell where the catalyst was scavenged from. People who've read the book will know why Mark Watney is wearing a helmet indoors in one particular scene. It's not to protect his head.

You know how the Lord of the Rings movies were long, but on DVD they're even longer for all the fans to get the scenes they want? Most fans of the book want to add another hour to the movie just so the film makers can take the time to get into the details the book did.

The movie is hard science fiction. The only thing that is technically wrong is the weather. Mars does have storms that rage at 300+ MPH, but the air is so thin that you won't feel more push than you would in a breeze on Earth. The author knew that and twisted that fact anyway to tell a good story. He said that thanks to him the country is learning that fact about Mars and he's totally happy with that.

If you liked watching MacGyver then you'll love The Martian. Both tell about very smart people doing brilliant things with limited resources and with a good dose of action thrown in.

I'll absolutely get this on DVD. I may go and see it in theaters one more time.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Friday links - I got nothing

I got nothing this week.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Links

What if there was a black hole in your pocket?

Gamal Abdel Nasser on the Muslim Brotherhood

An Alaskan village about to wash away. [link]

A bike riding robot.

Ferrofluid art. [link]

Where punctuation came from. [link]

Friday, September 04, 2015

Friday Links

The saga of the dead raccoon. Be sure to click "next". 12 pictures in all. [link]

Visual comedy the Edgar Wright way.

John Oliver cited by US Court of Appeals. [link]

Imagine someone so isolated that they don't know what a dog or a bear looks like. That guy found out that his guard dogs were killing all his chickens for a reason. [link]

C-17s fly like geese. [link]

Consumer Reports calls the Tesla the best car they've ever driven. [link]
And conservatives have fits. [link]

3D printing prosthetic arms. [link]

Thank you for your help. Why are we screaming at each other?

The pitch (to the studio or to us?) for the new Muppet show.

How 3M invented the force field. [link]

After about 2 minutes I totally lost the thread. A short film done in early 60's British gay slang. [link]

One of the top runners for President: Deez Nuts. [link]
Only the neighbor kids joking on my front porch give me any idea about this joke.

Pics from Banksy's Dismaland. [link]

The music video is more interesting than the music.

108 year old message in a bottle found. [link]

Midcentury modern hotel. [link]

1982 DC Comics style guide. [link]

When civilization collapses, what one fact is it most important survives? [link]

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Short film collection

Stealing Time

I'm You, Dickhead

Time Trap

The Last Human in the Milky Way

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Friday Links: 28 August

Baltimore area Batman dies in car wreck. []
I regret that I never saw him on area roads.

18 CEOs called out by Bernie Sanders for economic sabotage. [link]

Conservatives opposed to misogyny? Since when? [link]

Why CG sucks... or doesn't.

Bulldog loves his box.

Cheap synthetic muscle. [link]

Mortal Combat in the back yard.

Beer that's heliumated instead of carbonated.

Game: MineCaves - A MineCraft styled game where you find the gems and keys in the dungeon. [link]

Zorro: Beyond the Thunderdome. [link]

GTA5 plugin gives you better camera control to make your own movies. [link]

JRR Tolkien's latest book. [link]
Three movie deal coming soon.

Another article calling anti-choice groups a bunch of liars. [link]

Bears playing in a pool.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Friday Links delayed

The farmers' market on Thursday screws up Friday Links. Yeah, yeah, that's my excuse.
Place your bets on how long it takes to become Monday Links or I drop the blog entirely.

Toronto is smog free. Shutting down the coal power plants is one of the big reasons. [link]

Counter-script for dealing with telemarketers. [link]

What happens when cyclists obey the traffic laws. [link]
I don't mind stop signs meaning yield for cyclists so long as I'm not getting charged with vehicular homicide when they get hit when blasting in front of me.

Flying Human Torch.

They haven't release the light that runs 2 hours on a lift of the weight, so this will have to do. [link]

75 year old nurse commits suicide, because she knows growing old sucks. [link]

A natural quiet preserve. [link]

Making 2000 year old bread.

I used to love this dead mall.

The Nickleback of the GOP. [link]

Abandoned Japanese fishing village. [link]

Game: Error Prone - drive in a circle better than the automated cars. [link]

Popularity of swearwords across America. [link]

I made one of these for the farmers' market. [link]

Kitchen haunted by a baby ducky. [link]

The Food Babe makes up some bullshit about beer ingredients. [link]
Beer makers set things straight. [link]


How to build a Mossarium. [link]

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Links: July 31

Guys who are abusive to women online really ARE losers. [link]

There are superhumans... of a sort. [link]

Adam Savage wires up his Captain's Chair. [link]

WOOHOO! Washington DC is the worst bang for your buck. What's $100 worth in your area? [link]

Before Adam Sandler there was a good version of "Pixels".

Marion-Kay seasoning 99-X is the Colonel's secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. [link]

Once again, Fox News is confused by the Moon. [link]

The smartphone for the audiophile in your life. [link]

More of the Old Testament/Torah shown to be false. [link]

Did I post these modern grotesques? Have some modern grotesques. [link]
note: it's only a gargoyle if it spits water. 

Pretty sure this isn't canon.

Rocking out on homemade banjos.

A monitor made of thread.

Who has fired Trump? [link]

Luxury animal quarantine. [link]

University of Michigan built a small town just to test self driving cars. [link]

What most non-Planned Parenthood pregnancy counselling places are really like. [link]

It's not pool, it's loop. [link]

It's like a clean room, but for noise. [link]

Lion hunting is WAY easy. [link]

A haka is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.

How to build a great bicycling city. [link]

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Links: July 24

How to cheat sleep. [link]

Why some people are "evil". [link]

Actual 3D, interactive holograms.

A Confederation of lies. [link]

... and I can't even blame it on the Japanese.

Lego Doctor Who trailer. [link]

Shop smart, shop S-Mart. [link]

The return of Bloom County... again. [link]

Most terrifying Joker ever.

This is how Star Wars is done.

19 September

Block God from your kids' computer. [link]

Chinese visitors to SW United States 2500 years ago? [link]

How to give mosquitoes a good population check. [link]

Fog flow.

Which political party is better for the economy? I mean, setting aside the fact that one in particular routinely boasts lower unemployment, lower deficits, and all that. Whose policies are better? [link]

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Links

Messages from BEYOND THE STARS! Or, more likely, from the actual stars. [link]

Mouse vs Scorpion: FIGHT! [link]

Judges told the Kansas Governor that he's required to fund the schools. So now he's trying to get rid of judges. [link]

Rich Californians ask what's the point in being rich if we can't use all the water we want? [link]

Shortest commercial flight. [link]

Delirium deaths: coincidence that 100% of cases are of people in police custody? [link]

The man who decides what goes on beer labels. ALL beer labels. [link]

Another history of Boko Haram. [link]

A history of musicians telling politicians to stop using their music. [link]

See through trucks. [link]

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Links

Laptop issues continue, but here's something.

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

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

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

Source of weird radio station found. [link]

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

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

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

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

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

Clips from the DARPA Robot Challenge narrated by WWE announcers.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Westport Market - opening day report

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

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

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

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

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

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

I learned screen printing and made shirts.

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

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

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

The first two tables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Please stand by

We are currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The police were involved

This weekend I called in my first homicide.

Got your attention with that, didn't I?

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

What did you do yesterday?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Link: May 29

One link. This game that ate my time.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book review: The Martian

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Links: May 22

Titanium spheres of life from space. [link]

Opening titles to a non-existent Black Widow movie.

A song in memory of Jim Henson.

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

I need to make some of these. [link]

Camels came from Canada. [link]

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

You haven't been sufficiently horrified today.

Australia's plague of spiders. [link]

3D printed zoetrope. [link]

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

3D painting. [link]

Cars as ammunition. [link]

Rats help each other out of danger. [link]

An extremely well trained dog. [link]

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Links: May 15

NASA says their EM Drive will work in space. [link]
I don't know how big this drive is, but, in theory, we get not only interstellar relativistic propulsion, but atmospheric shuttlecraft as well. 

HEY! HITLER! We're in your bathtub using your soaps! [link]

The five and a half year old who gave birth. [link]

Captain America had different to-do lists when Winter Soldier was show in different countries. [link]
Click the photo to see alternate lists. 

An article ripping into Texas idiocy. [link]

The largest single cell organism. [link]

The war on rats. [link]

The sound of fear. [link]

The Muppets are coming back!

I'm not sure who's more excited, me or Gandolf. She's been Bork Bork Borking all day.

The books all white men own. [link]
Ok, the list starts out pretty weak, but gets better. I have several of these that I haven't read, a few that I have, some where I've seen the movie, a couple where I may have downloaded the e-book from, one or two that I started and couldn't finish, because bleh.

Anodizing a Titanium Over-Denture Bar

Turning the horrible, burning death of ants into art.

It's still a bad time to be in Baltimore. [link]

A 3D map of the nearest 100,000 stars. [link]
A couple of familiar names you'll see... Barnard's Star was mentioned in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Vega is where Jodi Foster ended up in Contact.

What went wrong in Age of Ultron. [link]
More importantly, a paragraph explaining everything that made the "Puny god." moment of The Avengers so awesome. 

Music video done with pins and string. Watch the backdrop degrade.

Seriously, though, Gandolf will be upset if the new show doesn't have the Swedish Chef.

Friday, May 08, 2015

No linky

Either my allergies or my allergy meds have pretty much eliminated my ability to read more than a few words at a time. So you get no links. But here's a conversation I recently had.

I was sitting on my front porch reading when the neighborhood drunk came over.

Drunk: Hey, Pr'fess'r. Whadda ya teech, again? 
Me: Huh? I'm not a teacher.
Drunk: Sure. Yur a pr'fess'r. Whatt'r you a pr'fess'r 'f, any-way?
Me: I'm not a professor. You just call me that because you see me out here reading or working on my laptop all the time. 

This was followed by an hour and a half of him talking about venomous animals, how he's 10 times smarter than me, and how he could kill me any time if he wanted to. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Movie Review: Avengers - Age of Ultron

Have you read the James Bond novel "The Spy Who Loved Me"? You may have seen the James Bond movie that shared the title. The title and the presence of 007 are the only things that the two stories have in common. In fact, in the book Bond doesn't show up until 2/3 of the way through.

Avengers - Age of Ultron does much the same thing.

It was originally a massive Marvel Universe crossover event. You should be able to get the bound graphic novel version from your local comic book store. Then you'll be able to see how little it has to do with the movie. Some departure was inevitable. The main driving characters in the comic aren't even currently properties controlled by Marvel Studios. But the core theme was sound. Nope, the whole thing got thrown out.

And that's not a bad thing.

When I saw the trailers for the movie I saw very little connection between the two stories. And I was becoming concerned. A sequel to one of the biggest movies of all time is already on shaky ground. Then to significantly rejigger an existing story? Nah, fuck it. We'll just keep the title and pitch the rest.

The important thing isn't the title. The important thing is the phrase "Written and Directed by Joss Whedon". Have faith and Whedon will deliver.

Cartoonist Howard Tayler convinced me to set aside my worries when he wrote "I'm not going to convince you to see, or not see, Age of Ultron. I'm not going to spoil anything for you either. I'm just giving you three bullets: • I have a new favorite movie for 2015" I trust Howard. Howard and I have similar tastes. So I took his word for it.

The Ultron story is tweeked a bit (read: a lot). He was originally created by Hank Pym whose first movie doesn't come out until next month. I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that this is the 4th movie where Tony Stark is primarily responsible for the thing he has to fight.

Having already seen the first Avengers movie is recommended. As is Guardians of Galaxy, to a lesser degree. As far as I can tell, nobody knows Coulson is alive... except the people we know do know. In fact, from what we see here Coulson and team are missing out on a whole hell of a lot. Who knew Hydra was that well set up?!

There's lots of battles, so I do want to talk about them a bit. In my review of The Avengers I talked about how the Battle of New York moved smoothly and you could pretty well tell what was going on in the battle. They kept that up pretty well in this movie. The opening battle has a few fast pans, but mostly you can follow things. I think this was done in part to contrast with the first battle with Ultron. A fast eye can still follow, but everything is sped up relative to the earlier battle to show how much bigger the threat he poses really is.

This movie was great. Really. Lots of quality banter, some new heroes and developments, more of what we loved from before, call backs, foreshadowing, lots of action, and a good story. OK, there's a slow spot in the middle, but we need time to decompress before going back into the thick of it.

I will be buying this on DVD.

Also, I'm totally going to see Star Wars with my parents in December.

Monday, May 04, 2015

TV show review: The Almighty Johnsons

I don't know why I hadn't heard about this show earlier. The first I knew about it was when I was in Kansas late last year and heard season 3 was starting. And it sounded brilliant!

Long ago the Norse gods, best known these days for their connection to The Avengers, came down from Asgard and inhabited the bodies of a bunch of worshipers in Midgard (Earth). Whenever someone in those families turns 21 BOOM they're inhabited by a god. It's not a possession. More symbiotic. That person gets that god's considerably lessened powers and becomes trapped in that god's recurring story. Some gods will always be irresistibly drawn to each other no matter what. They will excel in careers related to their god's specialty.

Our story begins when the youngest of the Johnson brothers turns 21. His brothers take him out in the woods, strip him naked, hand him a sword, and let him get struck by lightning. The family oracle and their remarkably young looking grandpa declares Axl Johnson to be the new embodiment of Odin.

The thing about Odin is that if he dies then all of his relatives on Earth will die no matter how remote. On the other hand, if he can find Frigg, his destined wife, then all the gods will get their full powers back.

The show ran for three seasons before getting cancelled. And why it got cancelled is something of a mystery. It's the first show from New Zealand that got picked up in the United States without being completely remade. Luckily, the series had a satisfactory ending.

I marathoned the series on Netflix streaming, doing 3-6 episodes almost every night. Often because they'd end the episode in such a way that would leave me yelling "DAMMIT! Now I have to watch the NEXT episode!" When I knew I should have gone to bed two hours before.

One of the brothers you may recognize from his time spent as one of the good looking dwarves in the Hobbit movies. This explains his on-again/off-again beard, many dwarf and short jokes, and even a reference to the shire.

You don't see me talk about shows in my blog a lot. I'm mentioning this only because I thought it was brilliant and I really think you should get the DVDs or stream it on Netflix. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Friday Links: May 1

Health benefits of whiskey are better than red wine. [link]

New temple to Thor dedicated. [link]

The incident that led to the interring of Japanese-Americans during WWII. [link]

Novelists talk about their symbolism or lack thereof. [link]

The first woman who ran for President. [link]

Pavlov's second round of dogs were eaten by the researchers during the Siege of Leningrad. [link]

A parroty of the song Wrecking Ball.

Weird Al guest edits Mad Magazine. [link]

The melting ice in Lake Michigan has left the water clear enough to see shipwrecks on the bottom. [link]

Audi creates artificial hydrocarbons (diesel fuel). [link]

The impossible bicycle.

The value of using soldiers when doing an archaeological dig on a battlefield. [link]

How white skin evolved. [link]

Arcology cutaways. [link]

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Screen printing

Screen printing is one of those fields where instructions are woefully incomplete. You need to screw up a few things to figure out what you're not being told.

Here's the project.

I'd done some screen printing in college, but it turns out there were a few things the teacher did for us that I didn't know about. Which is a problem when you're learning so you can teach others.

Here's a quick summary of how screen printing works. You've got a screen. And you print through it.

More detail? The screen is held taut in a frame. You apply a light sensitive material over the screen and leave it in the dark to dry. You take the design you want on your shirt and print it on a transparency. You know, what your teacher used to use on the overhead projector. Then you put the transparency on the screen and place it all under a bright UV light. The light makes anything not shaded by the ink on the transparency harden. Then you wash off anything that was under the ink. After the screen dries you put in on a shirt where you want it, put colored ink on the screen and put it over the opening with a squeegee. Remove the screen and repeat with as many shirts as you want. Let them dry and use an iron to fix the ink better.

The first thing I didn't know was that the bottle of photosensitive goop isn't automatically photosensitive. You have to add a second bottle and shake it all up. The only thing the instructions said was a single mention of both bottles.

The second thing involved cleaning the screens. Instructions said treat the hardened goop with a chemical and spray it with hot water while scrubbing with a brush. They don't say that the water should be sprayed with a pressure washer.

The third thing was how long to expose the screen to the light. There is a chart that depends on the bulb, the reflector, and a variety of other factors. Exposure can run from only 5 minutes to 45 minutes. 5-8 minutes kinda did the job, but the goop still washed away a bit and pulled away from the screen in places. 45 minutes did the job, but made the girl at the art store look at me in horror. So... 15 minutes next time?
Also, the light says it only lasts 3 hours. So, 1 down. I might need a dark room timer.

Still, I think I've about got one color shirts. Now to try 2 and 3 color shirts.

p.s. - I showed the group 5 colors of shirts. The 4 shown above and one in bright, neon, electric lime. Guess which one they picked.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore riots

I'm OK! Despite the chaos here in Baltimore over the last few days it hasn't touched me.

You may have heard about the guy whose back was broken by Baltimore police. He was enough of a troublemaker that the police knew him. He saw the police and ran. The police gave chase based solely on the fact that he was known, in a bad neighborhood, and was running. They searched him and found an illegal switchblade. They put him in irons and threw him in a police van. Between the time when he went in the van and when he came out his spine was severed. He died a few days later.

Some think that his back was broken when cops stepped on his back, but cellphone footage showed him getting into the van under his own power.

Saturday the protests started up the street from me at Camden Yards, home of the Orioles and only a mile and a half (2.4 km) from me. The peaceful protests turned violent, but didn't get out of control. There was more on Sunday. Monday was the funeral for the man who was injured in police custody. His family asked for people to stop protesting for the day and pick it up again on Tuesday. Instead a message went out on social media calling for congregation after school at Mondawmin Mall, a known rough area, and then moving toward downtown in a "purge". This is thought to be a reference to the movie "The Purge" where everything is legal for one day.

A neighbor was sent home around 3:00 from her job at a university near Mondawmin. Her and all the students and workers. When I flipped on the news I saw live footage of a line of riot cops facing a loose crowd of high school students who kept milling about and throwing stuff at the cops. Suddenly, the cops surged forward as one and cleared the street. The wall moved up the street driving the crowd and being fed by more cops coming from around the state. Cops were hit and sent to the hospital. People were arrested. Then cars started getting destroyed and set on fire. A 7-11 was swarmed and looted. Then a CVS. But they mostly stayed away from homes. Partially because the police seemed to be more concerned with protecting residences than businesses. Then cops arrested some people watching from their own yards just watching the chaos go past.

As the wall of cops passed, you saw one woman come out and start sweeping up the rocks and debris from the road.

There were three major points of violent action at the beginning. They migrated, split, moved. I watched a group of about 18 walk across a baseball field looking like something from a zombie flick. They tried to break into a RiteAid, but the glass wouldn't break. They continued on down a street that would have eventually taken them to Camden Yard. But the news turned back to the big mob. The CVS was eventually set on fire as the wall of cops finally reached there. People were hanging around down near the waterfront waiting for the mob to arrive so they could join in the looting. I don't think the mob ever got there.

People were playing basketball in the street in front of my house.

Many universities shut down. The mall and surrounding businesses did the same. Most of the businesses along the downtown waterfront area did, too. But the Orioles game that night wasn't cancelled until 30 minutes before game time. Some people were already in their seats when they were told to go home. Knowing that this was going to be a target for the rioters, they should have shut down earlier than they did. The police were already there using the stadium as a staging area and launching point because they knew that place was going to be a target.

With all the police pushing out, Mondawmin Mall still got looted.

I talked to one of the neighbor kids. He said his cousin was part of the group that looted the 7-11. She (the cousin) said all she got was a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Which tells you something about the motivations. Some people were angry about their life and lack of chances in life. This bit of police brutality was just the straw that broke the camel's back. For some it was an excuse to break things and steal stuff. Probably more of this than the first group. Then there were the people who just wanted to be involved. They wanted to be able to say they were there, in the middle of it. Years from now they'll tell their kids they were part of the 2015 Baltimore Riots. It was fun. They were part of something.

After dark, after the National Guard showed up, we lost track of crowd movements. Many people went home. The ones out for fun went to get supper. But fires continued breaking out all over town. The closest they got to me (that I heard about) was 2.5 miles (4 km) away at Lexington Market (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson shopped here). The Bloods and Crips came out saying that the story that they were plotting to kill cops was totally untrue and that they were out trying to stop the looting.

So, yeah! Exciting! But I was in the clear.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Links: April 24

Game: Interlocked - disconnect the oddly shaped blocks from each other. [link]

First look at this picture. [picture]
Now watch the picture while listening to any of these songs. [song 1] [song 2] [song 3]
And, of course, Yakkity Sax.

This comic story about a clockwork chess player is done and available online. [link]

The elevator in the new World Trade Center shows a time lapse video of the development of New York City's skyline as it goes up. [link]

Fun with sentences. [link]

Gluten: the facts. [link]

Mom livetweets her son's abstinence sex-ed class. [link]

That's not how Arthur C Clarke saw things. [link]

Dubai's Mall of the World plans. [link]

Body of missing man shows up. The thing is, his family confessed to cutting him up and feeding him to the dogs. [link]

Bank of America is dicks. [story 1] [story 2]

Netflix's market value exceeds CBS. [link]

Johnny Cash Machines. [link]

Footage from a new camera outside the ISS. [link]

China's nail houses. [link]

The troubled history of the Ant Man movie. [link]
I'll see it, but I already wish Edgar hadn't left. He's what gave me faith that it wouldn't be a waste of time.

Photos to show how vast space is. [link]

Cheese was invented due to an environmental crisis. [link]

Astronomers against automatic lawnmowers. [link]

Victorian Swiss Army gadget for women. [link]

How Facebook's free internet is actually a really bad thing. [link]

DaVinci's resume. [link]

This explains why there's so much police outreach in Baltimore. They're compensating. [link]

The prevalence of Eenie Meenie Miney Moe. [link]

Kermit found in Costa Rica. [link]

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Links: April 17

Options for opting out. You can opt out of getting phone books! [link]

The concrete in Hoover Dam is still curing. [link]

A baboon that worked at as railroad signalman. [link]

AT&T asks why a town would want 1Gbps internet when they already provide perfectly good 6Mbps. [link]
AT&T isn't very bright.

America gives up on abstinence programs in Africa. [link]

Man becomes a Chinese celebrity by having his phone stolen. [link]

Dancing droplets. I don't understand, but I like it.

There's now a "dot sucks" domain. It may be just a way to extort money from companies. [link]

Free Range Parenting - same parents as before, second time the kids were taken. [link]

Veterinary services for the pets of homeless people. [link]

Yea and nay have actual meaning separate from yes and no. [link]

What happens to your phone if Apple or Google goes out of business? And what if your phone is what makes your arm work? [link]

I heard about the ISSpresso machine on the radio. I accurately guessed what it looks like. [link]

Loch Ness soup ladle. [link]

Blackwater guards sentenced for killing of unarmed Iraqi citizens. [link]

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: Galileo's Dream

I'm a fan of author Kim Stanley Robinson, but I'm also the first to admit that he can be verbose. He can spend a ridiculous amount of space writing in accurate detail about something of almost no interest to anyone. But that just means that his subject is incredibly well researched and that he's extremely knowledgable about the subject at hand. And I say all this to let you know that I found almost none of "Galileo's Dream" uninteresting. Long, yes. But not dull.

If you've read or listened to "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (not watched. The movie is a different beast entirely) then you know that it is essentially a Lincoln biography with vampires used to explain events in his life and actions he's taken. "Galileo's Dream" is a similar take on the life of Galileo Galilei. Only, instead of vampires our hero gets periodically transported to the moons of Jupiter around 3500 AD, give or take. So, most of the book is straight biography. But around far flung Jupiter conflicting factions feud about whether to explore the oceans under the ice of Europa. Galileo is brought forward in time to help advise them on the proper course of action, but mostly acts as an observer. Inevitably, he learns of his own fate and endeavors to avoid being burned at the stake.

As so often happens in Robinson's books, the action picks up 100 pages from the end. That's when Galileo's trial finally starts. And somehow he manages to succeed in saving himself. Then he learns of multiple timelines. While he may not have burned, another Galileo did. And how would history have been different if that Pope had been free to embrace Galileo's writings instead of hamstrung by politics? If the Catholic church hadn't martyred Galileo or even took science into itself?

It was a good book and I'm glad I read it, but you must be prepared to read a book that is mostly an unchanged biography of Galileo with a bit of self reflection thrown in for good measure.

Monday, April 13, 2015


On Friday Netflix released season 1 of Daredevil. For those of you who don't know the character, Daredevil is a blind superhero whose day job is defense attorney Matt Murdock. So you have two major openings for story telling: bad guy ass kicker and courtroom drama.

Being the first episode, they have to catch the audience's attention and cram a lot into an hour to do so. So it opens with a quick origin story before the opening credits. He loses his vision in the same chemical spill that spawn the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (not mentioned in the show). The question remaining whether the chemicals gave him super hearing or if we're still going with just learning to use hearing better because he's blind. The next scene explains tangentially that he learned to fight because his father's a boxer. Not that he uses many boxing moves. Then we need an action sequence to grab the audience's attention. So our masked hero busts up a kidnapping for a sex slave ring. Then we see Matt and his friend Foggy getting the offices for their brand new law firm. They're getting a place cheap, because the neighborhood is rebuilding from the damage done in The Avengers. Rather than have a few episodes setting up the formula for the show their first case walks them into organized crime. But the show does focus primarily on the legal aspect of his life. For the little we see Daredevil he's not scanning the room from a single ping like Ben Affleck. And while he is a great fighter, he's still human. He does take out 4 thugs early on, but the professional hit man proves to be a struggle that he clearly takes it's toll. This makes Daredevil less like Batman and more like the strictly human detective/vigilantes that dominated the comic books before super powers became the norm.

The show ends with a montage showing first all the people Murdock was unable to save for the one cute girl that he managed to rescue and then the extent of the empire that he has to face.

All in all, I think we have a winner here. Daredevil is a more effective TV series than movie franchise. I don't think it'll reach the level of appreciation I have for Gotham or The Flash, but I think I'll like it.

Episode 2 is starting now with Daredevil starting off unconscious in a dumpster. I'm really liking him as merely a human with fighting skills.

Marvel has to get Spiderman back. Spidey is a total crossover whore and this show takes place in his primary stomping grounds.

Note: Marvel Studios got the rights Daredevil back after whichever studio had them let the rights lapse when they couldn't summon the support to make another bad movie.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Links: April 10

Comcast's lies force a guy to sell his house. [link]

Trial by combat may still be legal. [link]

UPS repairs your Toshiba crap. [link]

Plants can "hear" running water. [link]

Short story about a woman who runs a battlemech. [link]

Richard Thompson and Bill Watterson have a chat. [link 1] [link 2]

Great. Now I will never turn on the lights in my rental place. [link]

Milled out ice cubes. [link]

Space sounds [link]

The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service's guide to mixing drinks. [link]
Yeah, I dunno either.

Hadron collider powers back on. [link]

More Star Wars legacy vs BluRay comparison. [link]

A plane passing through a cloud.

So little inspiration to read the rest of these articles.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Friday Links: April 3

An amazingly detailed papercraft Millenium Falcon. [link]
No plans available. Sorry.

How Moonquakes differ from Earthquakes. [link]

The history of the MGM lion. [link]

Christian pulls the Black Like Me trick but "turns gay" for a year in a Christian community. [link]
And then has to leave the area for lying to both his church community and the gay community.

Online April Fools joke list. [link]

How did they miss's annual product punking? [link]

Half Life 2 set to Cotton Eyed Joe.

Was one of the guys with a head crab dancing?

Game: GoogleFeud - Family Feud with Google results. [link]

Movie cliches. [link]

Thomas Edison's list of questions shows that he wouldn't hire you. [link]

A realistic super villain plot. [link]

Pornographic cyrillic alphabet book to fight Soviet illiteracy. [link]
Really? You needed me to say "NSFW"? I already said "pornographic".

Tortoise chases off camera men who interrupt it's mating.

Apparently American politicians blow cold air, not hot, and it makes a difference. [link]

What happens if a nuke goes off over New York City? [link]

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Links: March 27

A TV production of Casino Royale.

How to deal with a anti-gay bill. [link]

Wild baboons kidnap puppies. For protection or for pets? [link]

Sea lion pups wandering San Francisco. [link]

Oil rich Norway dumped all it's Walmart stock for being unethical. [link]

The entomology of "You're toast". [link]

Man thrown in prison for 5 days without food or water before being "discovered". [link]

The Tetris song has lyrics.

The most relaxing song in the world. [link]

Student suspended for not possessing marijuana. [link]

What causes old folks smell? [link]

Man released after 3 years without a trial. [link]

Army prostitution ring. [link]

Surfing on icebergs. [link]

How Neanderthals may have sounded.

Motorized ice sled/boat.

Tech degrees earn you more than arts degrees. [link]

What you'd find all the way to the center of the Earth. [link]
(not to scale)

Movie pitch for Leviathan. [link]

Shut Up and Dance to movie clips.

Even the official patent shows that toilet paper goes OVER. [link]
unless you have cats or children

Friendly owl lands on heads. [link]

Internet Explorer finally gets the axe. [link]

The White House edited CIA report that justified the Bush invasion of Iraq is now declassified. [link]
The White House edits tended to be to adjectives. "Unlikely" to "highly likely" sort of changes.

Street legal JetSki.

The cost savings of switching from cable to streaming video. [link]

How the brain changes as you learn physics. [link]

Download a free copy of Pixar's RenderMan software. [link]

A privately made and owned geyser. [link]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Minecraft project

Awhile back I started building a giant sphere while playing Minecraft on my home computer. I never finished it and the computer died. I recently started playing on a server that's home to mostly Imgur users and started again. But this time I decided to go to the next step. I built the sun. Then I started moving on to the other planets.

Click to enlarge

The sun consists of two glass hemispheres. The lower half is 100 blocks wide, the top is 96 blocks wide leaving space for a 98 block ball of lava. Many servers don't allow you to pour out buckets of lava. They're too dangerous to work with. However, if you put the bucket of lava in a dispenser it can produce the same effect, just with more effort. So I set up dispensers on top of the sun and kept moving them around as needed. Due to the nature of the sphere and how lava behaves I was able to cover most of it with just 4 buckets. The rest was very dangerous work.

You can see Mercury peeking out from around the sun. Then Venus, Earth, and Mars. The picture is taken from what's done of Jupiter.

I tried to be fairly accurate with Earth. Africa looks pretty good from here. But the design was done by trying to manually convert 2D pictures to a 3D surface. There's flaws. And the parts we're most familiar with are all near the top where we can't see them.

Mars has polar caps. Everything else is made from Netherrack, which is reddish, but not very reflective. So at night it goes dark and would be invisible if not for the fact that it still blocks out stars. This picture was taken at sunset, so you can see Mars going black already.

Jupiter is being developed with colored bands and storms. I have some ideas on how to make the moons move. I figure I'll build a glass ring, put mine cart tracks on the glass, and release 4 carts driven by occasional powered tracks.

Saturn will have the hexagon, but I'll move it to the south pole, instead of the north.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Links: March 20

The spring equinox is today at 6:45 PM EDT. That's when the Sun passes over the Equator.

Game: Suspense II - solve puzzles by shifting back and forth in time. [link]

Short story: A Funeral on Mars. [link]

Comic book characters discuss serious issues. [link]

Baby bats in blankets. [link]

cartoon: I got a phone call from my college rapist. [link]

You've heard about the really deep hole the Soviets dug. Maybe in conjunction with talk about voices heard deep in the well. Here's the real story. [link]

A Return of the Jedi alien spoke Kikuyu, a Kenyan language. [link]

People can learn to control their iris so they can focus better underwater. [link]

A book about the possibility of becoming Batman. [link]

Using sound waves to make things fly.

100 year old notebook found in Antarctic ice. [link]

The case for asteroid mining. [link]

Using gravitational lensing to see supernova reruns. [link]

Herpes is more common than you may think. [link]

Maggie Thatcher's government was covering up a pedophile ring. [link]

Finishing Minecraft in under 12 minutes.

Among the things brought to the New World by Columbus... earthworms. [link]

WellDeserved: A Marketplace for Privilege.

Wait, is that sarcasm?

Nifty stone walls. [link]

The phrase "climate change" banned from official use in Florida. [link]

Your fridge may be spamming you. [link]

A man who shipped himself from London to Sidney. [link]

12 highlights from the Ferguson report. [link]

February's CO2 levels match those of 23 million years ago. [link]

What various states are doing price checks on. [link]

Robert Downey Jr helps deliver a prosthetic arm to a kid.

The crates even say Stark Industries on them.

The first pictures from a new island. [link]

Icebergs washing up in New England. [link]

Lava devouring Coke cans. [link]
Be sure to watch the Lava devouring a Monster Energy Drink video that follows.

Cattle rustling. [link]

Powdered. Alcohol. I can't see how this plan could possibly go wrong. [link]