Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Let Me Tell You About My Day

So, its 10:25 pm Arizona time on Thursday night. I haven't talked about the vacation at all so far, but I am breaking radio silence to kvetch a little. It's 1:27 am Friday in Pittsburgh. If all had gone as planned I would be in my bed at home, having arrived at Greater Pitt round about 4:00 pm Thursday afternoon.

Needless to say, thats not how it worked out.

We arrived at the airport (OGG) in Maui at something like 8:30 pm Wednesday evening for a flight that was to depart just before 11 pm. The passengers were at the airport, the plane was at the airport, but due to a brush fire between Ma'alena and Lahina the flight crew was not able to get to the airport. So, we sat.

They told us they would hold out hope until 2 am Maui time before canceling our flight. The scheduling depended entirely upon when the road opened and when the flight crew could get to the airport. The road opened this morning around 9 am Maui time. We finally departed Maui at something close to 12:30 pm Thursday - just about time to be missing our connection in Phoenix.

They'd told us before we left that the airline would rebook all of us while the plane was in the air and that we would get new connecting flights upon our arrival in AZ. That didn't happen. Luckily we happened to call the 800 number just prior to leaving Hawaii, and at the moment it looks like we're good to go - not to Pittsburgh, but to Charlotte and then to Pittsburgh, arriving just before 9 am on Friday. That's 17 hours late, and I think we may have done much better than many other people on our flight.

Of course there is the question of our bags...

Still, before we went to the airport what seems like ages ago we started our day with leftover anniversary cake, and then snorkeling at the condo - where we got to swim with a very nice green sea turtle. Then because the fire had everything jammed up we went to the movies and saw Ocean's 13 and then had dinner at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. So even now - taken as an aggregate very long day, it's still probably above average on the whole.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Monday, June 18, 2007

David Posts Spam

I don't know why people that send a joke or 12 every day don't just start their own blog. Seems to be so much less an intrusive way to spread mindless jokes and pictures around the tubes.

But every now and then you get something nice...

The Final Exam

At [a large American] University , there were four sophomores taking Chemistry and all of them had an 'A' so far. These four friends were so confident, that the weekend before finals they decided to visit some friends and have a big party.

They had a great time, but after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Duke until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final then, they decided that after the final they would explain to their professor why they missed it.

They said that they visited friends but on the way back they had a flat tire. As a result, they missed the final.

The professor agreed they could make up the final the next day. The guys were excited and relieved They studied that night for the exam. The Professor placed them in separate rooms and gave them a test booklet.

They quickly answered the first problem, worth 5 points. Cool, they thought!

Each one in a separate room, thinking this was going to be easy, they turned the page.

On the second page was written....

For 95 points: Which tire?________________

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day. Killer Bee

On the occasion of this Father's Day I thought I would share a memory. I don't know why this is the one I've picked.

When I was 12 my family took a California trip. My mother, sister, and I flew to LA and my father and a friend drove the car out so we could do the whole trip with our own transportation. We did Disneyland, Universal, then went North to San Francisco and Sequoia, then South to San Diego. My mother and sister flew home from there. Dad and I drove. We started with a high school student government conference in Tuscon and then over four weeks did the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Gunnison, Continental Divide, Boulder, the US Air Force Academy, Fort Laramie, and the Strategic Air Command among other places.

One of the "other places" was a park called Natural Bridges. Arches was just too far out of the way, but we had the opportunity to see this kind of red rock formation so we took it. I don't know how much national park experience you have, but while all the scenery is impressive you have to get used to a few things. First, the top of the park is really quite a way from the park proper. I gather now at many of the parks this is actually as far as you are allowed to take your own car. At the time we were there this wasn't the case. So you get there, but really its still a while until you get there.

Secondly, at most of the parks - Grand Canyon and maybe Bryce as notable exceptions - you really don't get to see what the park is there for from the car. It's pretty and all, but really to see the sights you have to hike.

As you can tell from the list above, our pace didn't allow for much hiking. We spent a half day here, a half day there and then move on. Also, at the time, while I was a spry 12 year old my father really hadn't caught the work out bug yet and all things being equal was probably still in a long recovery from prior bypass surgery. Still we tried to get off the road, and at each park we looked for short excursions from parking overlooks.

All of the interesting formations at Natural Bridges are well off the road, but there was one you could at least see with only a short walk. In this particular case, that short walk almost killed us both.

At various places along any of these walks you would discover little information stations. At the time this consisted of a little wooden box you would open up and get a small flyer showing information about the area you were in. We'd parked the reliable Toyota Corolla wagon at the overlook and hiked what was probably only about a quarter mile to the end of the short trail to the viewing point. When we got to the end I excitedly opened up the info box and discovered not a pile of paper but something else entirely.

An angry bee.

I guess the bee had flown into the box the last time it was open and become trapped. Totally unlike a genie trapped in a bottle or a lion with a thorn in its paw this bee offered neither wishes or a lifetime friend ship. This bee was pissed, and it was going to take it out on us.

Naturally I take off like a shot back down the trail. Illinois public schools required PE every day and a quarter mile spring to me was achievable. Less so for my father. There is however a principle difference between Northern Illinois and Southern Utah, well several differences but the one I mean to speak to here would be altitude.

You know, there's a reason athletes train at altitude. We noticed it too when the ultimate team I played with in Vegas would play at tourney's in LA. If you practice at altitude and then play closer to sea level you get a freebie of better endurance. For the men of the Boevers family, running for their lives from an angry bee the reverse was true. Living closer to sea level and then exerting yourself at higher altitude just brings you that much closer to death.

Which is why two men found themselves back at the parking area bent over and gasping for air yelling at each other "Is it gone?"

Damn angry bee. But, I guess that which doesn't actually kill you makes you stronger - and closer.

Happy Father's Day Dad.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Really Cool Shadowplay

the new shelton wet/dry

I might actually try to do something like this. Maybe.

Jellicles Can and Jellicles Do

News from the "Real World": "Playbill News: 'London's Daily Mail reports that Lloyd Webber's new kitten Otto has managed to destroy the music he has penned for the upcoming sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The six-month-old cat somehow climbed into the frame of Lloyd Webber's digital Clavinova piano, which features a built-in computer.'"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Yard Art

My folks have about 1000 bird feeders in their yard. They also have a mariachi band, which even though the house next door is for sale for an unGODly amount of money, must be pushing down property values.

Still, they say the apple does not fall far from the tree and I guess I am no exception. Today I completed the project that was featured in a couple of previous posts.

Here it is:

It is a wonder to me what some time off, nice computer hardware, wildly over powered CAD software, and a fairly expensive CNC machine can add up to. This is one of the two projects I have really wanted to do since we first got the table last year.

If you haven't been following, I ordered a toy skeleton kit online and then I scanned the pieces into the computer. After I did that I wondered for a little bit why I just didn't scan the instructions, which would have been much easier to trace. But who knows, maybe that image doesn't match the pieces exactly. I ported the image into AutoCAD and blew up a kit that was roughly 21 inches to 96 inches (96/21 makes for about 4.5 times the original size). I picked 96 because that would fit on a single sheet of plywood. In hind site I think maybe this budget restriction was an unfortunate stipulation on my part.

So then we have several hours of tracing in the computer. The CNC program wants to see closed polylines for each tool path. I think there was about six hours in this stage total. It might have been a little less, and had I been doing it for work it would have gone even faster.

It's at this point that I start to notice some things about the kit. There are some features of the pieces that appear to sort of depend on the scale of the piece. While drafting I notice that a few of the notches don't appear to be right on the centerline of the piece and things like that. In the small size it probably doesn't show much of an error when assembled. Blown up? Well at this point I am committed, so all I can do is cross my fingers. It does lead me to wonder if there are other things that depend on the scale or the material to work properly. A small annoying voice in my head begins to ask me if I think it will drop under it's own weight.

With everything drafted I go shopping for material. In another somewhat ill researched decision I decide to go with pressure treated ply so I don't have to paint. Season and weather and the like mean the 23/32 pressure treated ply is actually more like 0.8" More for your money you say? I say my slots are 0.750" Press fit is nice though.

The router BLAZES through the stuff. 66 minutes to cut the whole sheet in two passes and I imagine I probably could have doubled the feed rate. But when you only have one bit you tend to be a little more conservative.

Assembly went fairly well. Here again we discover a few economies of scale we lose when doing a larger version. A couple of things that really don't want to be square, one or two things that probably don't want to be flat, but overall a very smooth process. I barely used any glue, only stapled two joints, and only broke one piece which was easily mended.

Assembly complete, I load up the truck and try to make the drive home without wrecking my creation. On the way I have thoughts in my head of selling the piece to someone that sees it in the bed of the truck and never even getting it home. Briefly I contemplate what a good price point would be and what URL would be good for a sales website. One woman does shout at me while we're stopped at a red light: "Did you make that? Neat!"

Home with no disasters, I unload and try to find the best spot compositionwise. I think it looks pretty good.
So, spread the word. I think I am taking orders. I have the trike drafting and debugged. I know I can also do a Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, and a Spinosaurus. Those will just mean more drafting. I've also seen a pterodactyl, which might look cool hanging from a tree - but I don't have that kit. I've also thought about how it might be possible to work a child's desk into one of these, which I think might more justify the required price tag. Also I wouldn't mind trying to do one out of clear acrylic, but that would require some kind of commission and there are some flexi/bendy advantages from the plywood I would lose.

Anyway, seems to be a success, and not at all a bad way to spend a day.

GTZ Update

I haven't been writing a lot. I guess I really am on vacation. Speaking of, anyone want to guest blog while I am on my actual vacation? Send me an email and I'll hook you up.

The GTZ project continues apace. As of today I have two clean inboxes and only six messages left in the "todo" box. I've got my eye on them. I don't think they will finish out the week, meaning this TGIF will also be TGIGTZ!


If you are playing along at home, I have had to create two helper folders to make this really go. The first one is "followup." This is stuff that I guess would previously have been in my "deeptodo" folder; things I don't have to answer anytime soon, but that also don't really want to get filed where I won't see them. Historically I would just let this stuff accumulate in the to do folder for months and then clear it out at a binge. I think a seperate folder for this isn't cheating.

The other new folder is "reference." This is for other flotsam that used to clutter my inbox and todo box. I've created this folder for messages that don't go anywhere in my filing, don't need answers, and cannot be lost under any circumstances. What's that you say? Shipping notifications, travel confirmations, reservation confirmations; all things that are ephemeral, they only matter until the event passes and can then be deleted but they still might be around for up to a month.

Perhaps I should have called these folders "flotsam & jetsam." With the reference stuff being flotsam, as it is floating at the surface, current and the followup stuff being jetsam, sinking beneath the surface. That works as an organizational tool AND would have made a much better title for this post.

Proof? No Fair!

Welcome to the Campaign for America's Future: "For anyone interested in where the American public really stands on the big issues that distinguish progressives from conservatives -- including the issues at the forefront of today’s political debates -- “The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America Is a Myth” offers hard facts and analysis based on decades of data from some of the nation’s most respected and nonpartisan public opinion researchers. This is the evidence that political leaders have a mandate to pursue bold, progressive policies."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just Wrong

Boing Boing: President's office says FOIA request will take 200 years!: "'The White House 'anti-drug' office told me today that it would take 200 years(!) for them to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request I recently filed.'"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

If They Made It: Vise Grips and C-Wrench

Toolmonger » Blog Archive » Adjustable Wrench + Locking Pliers = Stanley’s MaxGrip: "Take a standard 10″ adjustable wrench and cross it with a set of locking pliers, and you’ve got Stanley’s new product: the MaxGrip locking adjustable wrench. As you might imagine, the locking portion of the tool provides a bit of extra force to help keep the jaws attached to the fastener."

Really, how many C-Wrenches does one person need? I just bought this thing:

Do I need another one too?


Dvorak Uncensored » Would Electing Giuliani Be Like Electing A Smarter Version Of Bush?: "Rudy giuliani is a true American hero, and we know this because he does all the things we expect of heroes these days — like make $16 million a year, and lobby for Hugo Chávez and Rupert Murdoch, and promote wars without ever having served in the military, and hire a lawyer to call his second wife a “stuck pig,” and organize absurd, grandstanding pogroms against minor foreign artists, and generally drift through life being a shameless opportunist with an outsize ego who doesn’t even bother to conceal the fact that he’s had a hard-on for the presidency since he was in diapers."

So Much for That Arguement

Dvorak Uncensored » New academic studies prove the death penalty deters crime!: "What gets little notice, however, is a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument — whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer."

Lou Dobbs for President?

Think Progress » Blitzer Promised Not To ‘Utter’ The Words ‘Paris Hilton,’ Then Devoted Whole Segment To Her: "On Friday, CNN referenced Paris Hilton at least 135 times. Lou Dobbs was the only other anchor who refused to mention Hilton. As TVNewser notes, “He read an e-mail from a viewer who wrote, ‘Please do not give that woman air time on your show.’ He responded: ‘I assure you, your reference to her is the only mention of her name on this broadcast.’”"

Two Down

One to go...

Monday, June 11, 2007

90-1 (or Comma-Space-Delete-End)

chromosome, churlish, circumlocution, circumnavigate, deciduous, deleterious, diffident, enervate, enfranchise, epiphany, equinox, euro, evanescent, expurgate, facetious, fatuous, feckless, fiduciary, filibuster, gamete, gauche, gerrymander, hegemony, hemoglobin, homogeneous, hubris, hypotenuse, impeach, incognito, incontrovertible, inculcate, infrastructure, interpolate, irony, jejune, kinetic, kowtow, laissez faire, lexicon, loquacious, lugubrious, metamorphosis, mitosis, moiety, nanotechnology, nihilism, nomenclature, nonsectarian, notarize, obsequious, oligarchy, omnipotent, orthography, oxidize, parabola, paradigm, parameter, pecuniary, photosynthesis, plagiarize, plasma, polymer, precipitous, quasar, quotidian, recapitulate, reciprocal, reparation, respiration, sanguine, soliloquy, subjugate, suffragist, supercilious, tautology, taxonomy, tectonic, tempestuous, thermodynamics, totalitarian, unctuous, usurp, vacuous, vehement, vortex, winnow, wrought, xenophobe, yeoman, ziggurat

Glad that's over.

Well, How Do You Like That?

Dvorak Uncensored » Scholars Rethinking the Koran in Original Linguistic Context — One Professor Thrown Out of Window Already: "When the Koran was composed, Arabic did not exist as a written language"

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Public Service

So tonight I am watching the Tony's and something catches my eye that I feel like I really need to talk about by way of a small (but personally satisfying) public service. Which is I guess another way of saying I need to complain about something that matters to me but will have absoluely no impact on the lives of anyone else in the universe.

But thats the whole reason to have a blog, yes?

There was a musical number from Curtains performed fairly early in the show. Something fairly uplifting and theatrically self referential. I believe it celebrated being a "show person." It featured a unit that bugs me every time I see it.
Probably this isn't exactly what it looked like, but it's close. What we're looking at is the prototypical stage fly batten with some rope and sandbags. Really I think what this is in the minds of designers and directors is sort of "backstage texture."

I've seen this unit on many different occasions. I am fairly certain I have fabricated and installed this unit on more than two occasions. But as a theatre technician I have a problem with it. The problem is this: a batten, even a backstage batten in a theatre with no set, would never look like this. I guess there might be a batten with some random sandbags hanging on it. The stage left bag in the sketch above is at least plausible. But the stage right sandbag and the interestingly festooned rope just really make no sense. There are many things that get stored on battens. Usually sandbags aren't one of them, and random swags of rope are far from the top of the list.

Curiously, many of the things that do store on battens wouldn't evoke the correct mood or to a non-technician would just look stupid. Strip lights, which often store on battens would just look like more lighting instruments. With the design aesthetic we're used to an audience might not register that as scenery at all. A ladder, something which also often gets stored in the air, would just look weird to a lay person.

So this is a strange situation. The rope and sandbag, while totally wrong, appears to work well. I wonder how many other work environments designers would choose to depict in a way that would ring true to laypeople but come off totally fake to experts.

The public service? World, that's not what "backstage" looks like. But I think my chances of never running into this unit again are fairly slim. How's it go? If it ain't broke (to most people), don't fix it.

Hope I Never Get Old

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Paris Hilton ordered back to jail - The Superficial - "Some witnesses say they saw a rainbow above the courtroom. And others say they saw a giant man in the clouds with a white beard nodding his head approvingly. And me? Well I saw Judge Michael Sauer grow to be twelve feet tall, with muscles the size of tree trunks. And when he smiled, little cartoon hearts appeared above my head and there was a strange tingling sensation in my pants."

Friday, June 08, 2007


I am giving up the word thing after 90. Perhaps someone else I read will take up the cause. We could swap every ten... Ok, I am saying it again, I still don't understand why gas is so expensive... The crew head list goes up tomorrow. And then the weeping can begin... I watched Studio 60 and not the NBA Finals. I wonder what happened... Having five cats is a lot of trips to the vet... The other night I tried and failed again to set up utorrent. I think it hates my router... I wonder if I do Val's porch if I can use it as an excuse to buy a power miter box... Its just too early for Presidential debates, even if it does provide a nice distraction for the mess the current President has us into (messes)... Do you think the people that are hammering the immigration story have legals to clean their house, watch their kids, and cut their grass... I didn't go to the office today. That's one day in a row... Comcast, the devil, the end... Be sure, very sure that whatever you are doing for work or on your own that you take pictures...I thought maybe Scooter Libby would be out before Paris Hilton. He didn't even manage to get in yet... Is there something wrong with the phrase "legitimate faith?" I think maybe there is... Will the internet be the end of porn? The porn people think so. How odd... I wonder these days if there is such a place to go and such a job to get that really allows one to work their way through college... Today I stared at a math problem for the better part of an hour before I found the error, just addition, multiplication, and division. It's been such a very long time since seventh grade... Izzy is in a blogging competition about personal traditions. Maybe I should enter. I wonder what my traditions are... Sometimes you get a parking space in SqHill that's so good it just makes it a shame to leave... This weekend they are closing the tunnel in between work and home. I could have sworn I told the realtor "no bridges, no tunnels" when we started looking at this place... 0-0-31 yesterday, 0-1-33 today; I am going backward...

Ninety One

chi·can·er·y (sh-kn-r, ch-)

n. pl. chi·can·er·ies
1. Deception by trickery or sophistry.
2. A trick; a subterfuge.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Getting to Zero

I think I might make it. I've been in serious inbox denial for several days now, but today I got my head above water, did a big purge, and really, I think I might get to zero before I go on vacation. They say not to use your inbox as a to do list, so email generally collects in a folder called "to do" if there's something I can't get to that day or just don't want to forget. Since school ended I have been a real bad email manager and, well, my box was a little overgrown. It got the weed whacker treatment today though, and at the end of the day we had zero in each inbox and 31 in the "to do" box.

This is only possible because with the exception of a virtual blizzard of shipping confirmations the email has really slowed down to a crawl over the last couple of days.

I swear, you order seven or eight items from that company, four or five of which turn out to be from third party vendors and all of a sudden you get six different shipments, each with its very own three or four emails. After you check out it shoud say "Do you want spam with that? Spam, spam, spam, spam, LOVELY SPAM! Wonderful spam..."

But I digress.

Each of the last three days I'd been able to knock of that days messages in a matter of minutes. On each occasion bringing me back to that stubborn group of emails I had been studiously ignoring - some for months. The oldest email of the group is an address update for my family address webpage from back in January. To me that feels old, but I get the feeling that there are many people out there with positively petrified email messages.

I cheated a little bit to clear the inboxes. I've never been a fan of Outlook's flagging feature, but today, the stuff that had been low priority inbox messages got flagged and then put in the To Do folder. That way I can have a nice clean, bare box and still not delete through email bankruptcy.

Of course, it doesn't look like the flags mapped from one computer to the other. Foiled again!

So, if things stay at the pace they're at, if I stay focussed, and if I don't order anything else from Amazon, is there really anything that could stop me from getting to zero in say a week? That would be SO COOL.

I don't know what I would do with no email. Let's find out.

Are We Bored of this Yet? 92

bowd·ler·ize (bdl-rz, boud-)

tr.v. bowd·ler·ized, bowd·ler·iz·ing, bowd·ler·iz·es
1. To expurgate (a book, for example) prudishly.
2. To modify, as by shortening or simplifying or by skewing the content in a certain manner.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Million Miles to the Sun

bel·li·cose (bl-ks)

Warlike in manner or temperament; pugnacious. See Synonyms at belligerent.


I am now a recognized ETCP Rigging Trainer. Who'd-a-thunk it? I wonder if this will lead to people from outside the school taking my class for renewal credits. Really I wonder if this means I ought to get off my butt and do some workshops.

Who am I kidding, I just like having the recognition.

This Might Be Harder Than I Thought

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'm Thinking About

It's not ellipses, just some things I am thinking about:

  1. I have all these bookmarks to shopping sites, I wonder if anyone else would like them.
  2. Could LeBron James finally be a real heir to Micheal Jordan?
  3. People in publishing are wondering how they will make up for Harry Potter. I think maybe the last book is just the very beginning of their money making.
  4. Should I bother with Bit-Torrent? Tivo? Just read a book?
  5. I think Berak, Hilary, and the others are teasing us.
  6. How come nobody defends illegal immigrant workers in the media like they defend Wal-Mart? Isn't the impact similar?
  7. How much money would Pittsburgh need for the bus to be free?
  8. I really, passionately hate Comcast. Why do I keep using them?
  9. When you do a project, you should take pictures. When you do a home improvement project, you should take before and after pictures.
Maybe it would be better as ellipses.


be·lie (b-l)

tr.v. be·lied, be·ly·ing, be·lies
1. To picture falsely; misrepresent: "He spoke roughly in order to belie his air of gentility" James Joyce.
2. To show to be false: Their laughter belied their outward grief.
3. To be counter to; contradict: At first glance, life at the boarding school seemed to belie all the bad things I had heard about it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Link of the Day

At some point I will really have to go through the "Link of the Day" posts and put them in the menu on the side bar. I have been a delinquent blogger I guess.

Friday I was driving around killing the day and this story was on Fresh Air. It's quite good, a tribute to various tributes to Sargent Pepper's. Give it a listen:

The link of the day.


aus·pi·cious (ô-spshs)

1. Attended by favorable circumstances; propitious: an auspicious time to ask for a raise in salary. See Synonyms at favorable.
2. Marked by success; prosperous.

Don't do This

Life After Death by PowerPoint

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an·te·bel·lum (nt-blm)

Belonging to the period before a war, especially the American Civil War.