a dusty lunch

i love halloween!
Not a bad weekend. Spent a lot of time working on tombstones (I’ll post some pictures eventually). The hot tub arrived at Steve & Ragan’s place, so I pitched in a little to help erect the gazebo that sits around it. No work on the backyard this weekend, as I was occupied by other projects. I did, however, finally find a suitable strobe light for the Halloween display. And I stole some large pieces of cardboard, which Steve’s gazebo roof was shipped in, to make a lifesize knife-wielding man cutout. The cutout gets reinforced with some wood and painted black, and the strobe light goes behind it – the effect should be pretty creepy. Speaking of Halloween, the invite for the Halloween party went out today… watch the blog for full details of the celebration.

In a musical roundup, there’s a sweet article about DCfC over at the Onion’s AV Club (conservatives: beware the Dan Savage column). Also, I found a really interesting Radiohead-related item. Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement fame) and his band, the Jicks, opened for Radiohead on some of their North American gigs recently. Malkmus is known for keeping a tour diary when he’s out on the road, and it’s a really interesting read for a Radiohead fan. I just thought it was totally cool to hear someone who I consider to be super musically talented talk it up about someone they consider to be super musically talented. Also on a musical-slash-Range-Rover note, Ben and Anthony took the Disco out 4x4ing again this Saturday and, true-to-form, Ben has already whipped up a nice video montage of the outing, with one of the best cuts from the new Snow Patrol album as the soundtrack. That about does it for the music roundup. Oh, I forgot to mention my Steve/music story. Steve is often stuck riding in my truck and being subjected to indie-immersion. One of his favorite comments in reference to any singer with that telltale indie-falsetto voice, is: “I bet this guy got beat up a lot in high school.” That cracks me up, and it’s probably true too…

I got a story for ya. Today, I was happily enjoying a thrifty lunch of leftovers at Steve’s house. We were just finishing up with the eats, and watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air – when my cellphone rang. “What’s up Anthony?” “Dude, we got stuck.” Yeah… so let me debrief y’all. The 4×4 video from that I linked above was taken by Ben on Sunday. He and Ant headed out to the local 4×4 park and put the Disco through the paces. Apparently, they were pretty rough on it (as evidenced by the video), and they actually broke off some of the plastic on the undercarriage. So, today at lunch they headed back out to the 4×4 park to retrieve the broken pieces. After the successful reconnaissance mission, they decided to get a lil’ 4-wheelin’ in before returning to work. Seems that they managed to high-center the truck, and had no hopes of escape. So, they called me. Steve drove me to work, where I got Ben’s keys from his desk and drove his Ranger out to the rescue. We hooked up the Rover’s winch to the Ranger, and you can see the rest below:

Hooking up the rover winch to Ben’s Ranger.

High-centered! Anthony using the winch remote to power free.

It took some wheel spinning, but eventually he got traction.

Climb for the sun Rover! You’re almost free!.

More Ranger-to-Rover resuscitation.

Anthony disconnects the winch, the Rover is free.

1st person view of the drive off the slope.
Free at last! Rover thanks Ranger and we head back to work.

Well, it was an exciting lunch at least. I did miss a meeting, and get a little dusty – but I still count it better than sitting in my cube for those 30min. With the Rover, you never know what’s going to happen.

Dave out.

kiling ants

if i'd'a known it was gonna be this kinda party...
I wouldn’t say Sharaun and I are big partiers (is that a word?), but we enjoy hanging out with friends and having a good time. Yesterday I had an itchin’ for some kind of social gathering. So I crafted up an e-mail and sent it to the regular crew. Surprisingly enough, everyone on the invite list showed up. So the night began with two cases of Beerman’s Lincoln Lager, four 2lbs tri-tips, and some tasty appetizers (courtesy Sweet Grass Dairy). All indicators pointed towards an impending good time.

The evening went well, with the food turning out mighty tasty. We managed to polish off all the meat (and by the wee-hours, the last of the beer too). At some point during the night, it was suggested that I break out the fog machine and black light, to give the Halloween setup some “burn-in” testing. Who knew a fog machine could be so much fun? Our buddy (and close neighbor) Dan showed up near the tail end of the party. He had been working on constructing a covered deck in his backyard, and was returning some tools he’d borrowed. For some reason, he also brought along a level that was laser-equipped. The completely coincidental pairing of the fog and the laserbeam ended up producing a cool visible laser-line akin to Mission Impossible or something. Anyway, we played “fog-laser limbo,” “how high can you jump over the fog-laser?,” and “optics fun with fog-laser reflection.” That last game required that we bust out some mirrors to reflect the laserbeam around the room, we’ll get back to that later. Here are some pictures of the foggy good time (as always, you can click each pic for a larger version):

late night fog-and-laser play.
ben uses a blank cd to bend the laser in the fog.

After a successful evening, Ben took off in my truck on his way home. Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from him telling me he had been locked out of his own house. So, Ben made the drive back and crashed on my couch. Sometime as the sun came up, Ben awoke to the smell of burning wood. Seems that the cosmetic mirror we had out during the laser-fun was left on the dining room table, and as the sun rose, it hit it in the exact right place at the exact right angle to burn a moving line in our table as the sun rose in the sky. Seeing and smelling the smoke, Ben thoughtfully moved the mirror. Below are some pix of the char that demands sanding and refinishing, as well as some general “aftermath” or “morning after” snaps. Enjoy:

what are the odds?
a closeup of the fiery results.

50+ beers ready for the garbage
midway through the cleanup process.

OK, that’s enough blogging for the weekend. I’m of to make some tombstones. Peace.

terminal nerds

i chose trash, because this entry is mostly garbage collection to close the week
Well, I got a couple projects that are coming to a close. The Cast of Characters page is nearly done, with some rearranging, some new pictures, and more text, it’s right about ready to be published. I’m holding out for a couple more pictures and then I’ll pull the trigger and upload it. Also, Anthony and I nearly finished the FCG last night (with some help from Ben). While at Ant’s working on the ghost, I somehow (in the course of one weeknight, mind you) managed to: douse my cellphone in beer (I pulled the tap myself while holding the phone underneath… what?), pop myself in the stomach with a wire coathanger (I checked, it left a mark), and have so little fuel in my truck that I wasn’t able to start it until I coasted off Anthony’s sloped driveway and into the flat street. Anyway, we got the entire motor-assembly done (the marionette part), and I built the armature for the ghost itself. Now it’s up to my artistic side to craft up a nice apparition to fill out the armature. I say the project will be completed over the weekend.

Melissa didn’t get home until like midnight last night, and then went back in this morning at like 5:30am. Oh, for those who don’t know, Melissa is living with us while she awaits the availability of her new apartment here in California. Actually, I guess today is her last day, which means I no longer live with two women.. which is so awesome… I think I am crying a little bit right now. Either way, I’m glad my job doesn’t require that much from me. I’m all for working, but only as a means to an end. When I win the lottery, I’m done with the 9-5 scene.

In other news, I modified the ASP script for the comments page, so that the comments are now sorted from the top down (new comments added under the last ones). It now has the more familiar comment look of sites like Slashdot and Fark, since the whole “first comment at the bottom” thing was irking me. I know you probably don’t care, but I love projects… remember?! Speaking of Fark, I lifted this link from them for the blog, because I got such a kick out of it. I never even knew there was such a thing as “LARPing,” but let me be the first to say… “that looks kinda cool.” Oh no, I mean… what terminal nerds… yeah… yup.

OK, time to get ready for the weekend. I got a nice one planned. Some possible 4x4ing again, helping Steve and Ragan erect a sweet gazebo over their new spa, and fashioning some tombstones out of foam insulation sheeting. See ya on Monday.


well... some people collect 'em...
I think I’m an obsessive collector. I tend to latch onto something, and try to collect the hell out of it. Sitting back and taking a real look at it, I can remember it starting way back in gradeschool. When Garbage Pail Kids initially came out, I collected them in earnest. Before that it was Star Wars or He Man figures. In 4th and 5th grade the musical monster within me had been awoken, and I would hunt through record stores to find any Depeche Mode cassettes I could get my hands on. Progressing on to middle school, I met Kyle, and my eyes were opened to real music. I dove headlong into the Beatles (and classic rock in general). It wasn’t long before I had several hundred cassette tapes. The “rarer” and more obscure the band or recorded material, the more I wanted to own it. The obsession only increased in high school when I found out there were such a thing as Beatles “bootlegs.” The idea of owning unreleased recordings, of being among that elite few that have 40 minutes of Paul rehearsing Blackbird, had incredible appeal to me. So, throughout high school I dropped gobs of cash on illicit Beatles recordings, Radiohead “imports,” scarce Prodigy cd-5’s released only in Luxembourg, etc. The music phase of my collectaholism lasted all the way into college, and even trailed me out to California. I continued to trade cd’s online and amass an impressive (and quite relevant, IMO) collection.

The only problem with collecting music is that it was taking massive amounts of my time. I had to burn cd’s, go to the post office all the time, organize the new stuff I was getting, scan artwork, print artwork, not to mention actually find time to listen to the new junk I was getting. Eventually, the time it took to orchestrate trades just got to be too much for me, and I slowly let the habit taper. I crafted a “stock” e-mail which politely declined any new trades, and I pretty much pulled out of the Beatles bootleg “scene” altogether. I still have several unopened mailers full of cd’s sitting on my desk from the last few trades I did do, and several stacks of jewel-case-housed cd’s that are begging to have their artwork printed and be filed. I just lost the drive somewhere along the way. I mean, if a spectacular trade comes along – I might still jump at it (the last one I did was for nearly the entire Woodstock festival on something like 20 cd’s – the real Woodstock, 1969), but for the most part I’m done with trading in bulk.

As the music trading ebbed, I subconsciously moved onto obsessing over other things I could collect. Most of the time, I don’t even realize I’m “collecting” things, I just start amassing things – and for some reason get interested in all these variations, which inevitably leads to me wanting all kinds of something. After music/Beatles it was pipes, I scoured Ebay for estate pipes, buying them, cleaning and restoring them, and then smoking them. I even started collecting different types of pipe tobacco to smoke in the pipes I was collecting.

The phases come and go. He Man, M.U.S.C.L.E., cassettes, cd’s, pipes, etc. Now I’m back around to Garbage Pail Kids again, which is a collision of my collecting fetish and my get-back-my-childhood fetish (the latter of those two being a blog topic all of it’s own). Even the Pac Man project was tainted with my collect-’em-all mentality. I had to have every original game, which meant thousands. My Halloween thing? Just another way to collect and horde cool stuff. I dream of the day I can own every episode of the Andy Griffith Show on DVD. I started collecting the “History of Middle Earth” books that Tolkien Jr. published posthumously for his dad, just to gather very scrap of his writing. My PC at home contains every original NES, Genesis, SNES, and N64 ROM, and the emulators to play ’em. (Yeah, the video game industry outpaced my “gaming” skillz right around N64 and the intro of fighting/1st person shooters. If you have to use more than about 3 buttons and a D-pad, I’m out. Don’t ever ask me to “strafe.”)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand… I suppose the whole collecting thing goes deeper than just straight-up collecting. My theory is that it fulfills a two-pronged need. Prong one being more about elitism, notoriety, renown, etc. “Dave has the coolest music collection!” “Have you seen it, it’s insane!” “Tell us about your Garbage Pail Kid collection Dave!” “Where did you ever get so many pipes?” “This Pac Man machine is so awesome, does it have Galaxian?! It does?! Oh man, this is so rad.” Prong two being about my need to always have a “project.” Hence the Pac Man machine, the Halloween setup, the blog… Something I can work on, perpetually if I’m lucky.

Lately I’ve noticed my collecting has kind of changed shades. I get the feeling that it’s becoming less about concrete objects and more about “remembering” stuff. Probably because, for some unknown reason, my memory is crap most of the time. So I write stuff down, I take pictures, I make webpages, I keep journals. I collect stuff that’s in my head; collect it into words and pictures and stories, and document it all so I don’t forget it one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be good for a laugh because you heard I’m driving to some gas station 30mi away to get the last new Garbage Pail Kid I need to complete series 18b… but I’m just saying…

Dave out.

binary log

every two weeks?!
Arnold freakin’ won. OK, that’s all I’m gonna talk about politics, I swear. Last night, Anthony and I started working on the flying crank ghost for my Halloween display. We got stuck when I didn’t have a large enough drill bit to make a hole for the motor shaft. We figured we can work on it tonight and get it close to done. Then I have some tombstones and a graveyard fence to make, and I am well on the way. I have the fog machine and black light, and would also like to get a strobe light and possibly another black light as well. So, the plan is coming together. I was getting worried, as Halloween is fast approaching and I’ve been concentrating on the backyard lately. I think the haunt will still go down without a hitch.

When I first started keeping this blog, I was not really sure what “blog” even meant. I mean, I knew that what I was doing – keeping an online “journal” – was called a “blog.” My guess was that it was short for “binary log.” Only a few days later did I realize how stupid that was, when it hit me that it must obviously be a shortened form of “weblog.” So anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is to kinda setup a joke.

The other night we were over at Anthony’s house, the same night I got hit by the Barleywine truck actually, and Ben, Ant, and I were huddled around his granite-topped bar. I brought up the fact that I had mistakenly thought that “blog” was short for “binary log,” and got a good laugh. “I mean, why would I think it was ‘binary log,'” I said, “There’s nothing ‘binary’ about it, it’s not even in binary.” (Get ready, here’s the joke). To which Ben replied, “Maybe in the physical layer, maybe that’s what you were thinking.” Oh man, let me tell you, TCP/IP protocol jokes go over well with a group of buzzin’ nerds.

I don’t expect the non-engineers to get the joke, I just thought I’d demonstrate to the general public how foreign computer-humor is. Speaking of blogs: they are super popular lately, with people using them to do basically what I do (i.e. nothing), and respectable news and sports sites adding daily blog features to enhance content. Even Google plans to start keeping a seperate search index for blogs, kinda like they do now for “news.”

The “cast of characters” page is a stone’s throw away from completion. I need to add a few more bios, and I’m done. I took the approach that I’m not going to have an entry for every single person, only the ones that get mentioned a lot. It was easier for me. Basically, if I couldn’t think of a paragraph or two to write about you… ya didn’t make it.

Wanna read a super-long, but also super-interesting, article? Check this one out, I really enjoyed it. Note: Don’t be fooled by the seemingly political-agenda tinged intro, it only serves as exposition – the article isn’t about that at all.

how’s shit?

step away from the Duplos Lex
Back at ya with another blog. How’s shit? Good? Nice to hear, me too. I started keeping a text file on my desktop, called “blog_ideas.txt,” where I can scribble down things that I think might be interesting or funny to put on the blog.

Somehow, I got to thinking about Legos the other day. Legos were the ubiquitous toy when I was a kid, my brother and I had piles of ’em. We had the normal primary-color ones, mixed with the Lunar Moonbase grey and black ones, mixed with the brown Pirate Ship ones. All kids had Legos, kids whom God had forsaken had Duplos, and some who had been double cursed had those damn generic ones that didn’t fit Legos or Duplos. These kids had to play with their generic “interconnecting block toys” all alone in the corner, building things like “walls” and “floors” with their flea-market-grade junk. Duplos were to Legos as Go Bots were to Transformers. Funnily enough, in doing a search for Duplos – I found out that Lego actually makes them. I wonder if it’s always been that way?

Anyway, my brother and I used to have these competitions where the idea was to build the ultimate indestructible Lego vehicle. In the beginning, the designs were simple car-like vehicles. As the contest progressed, our vehicle engineering processes changed – and the designs slowly evolved into something like Lego-bricks with wheels. As a rule, you had to leave a hollow spot in the center for a driver. Other than that, we’d build these three-deep Lego squares, making sure to never align the block seams. We’d stand on the dang things to make sure the blocks were ready to withstand their impending beating. Once our cubes-on-wheels were finished, we’d roll them at each other across the kitchen floor, where they would collide head-on somewhere in the middle. Whoever’s vehicle could withstand the most beatings won. If it got boring, we’d simply drop them directly on the ground from increasing heights until they gave way, or maybe throw them into a wall. Man, Legos were awesome.

I’ve really been into the Shins latest album lately. It’s got such a 60’s feel to it, with some tracks sounding almost like some crazy Forever Changes era Love and Odessey & Oracle era Zombies mix. Basically, it’s a really great album. Winamp at work has been stuck on repeat with a tracklist consisting of that Shins album, and the new Snow Patrol. Both albums have really grown on me of late. If you get the chance, check ’em both out.

Here’s a list of all the “last meals” Texas’ death row inmates have requested before their executions. Fried Chicken seems to be extremely popular, and there are some surprises in there too – like the guy who wanted “1 bag of assorted Jolly Ranchers.” What a strange thing to keep a running record of on the internet.

OK, I can delete “indestructible Lego cars” and “death row meals” from the “blog_ideas.txt” file. That leaves “binary log, physical layer” and “movie computers.” Yeah, you’ll just have to wait and see…

Oh yeah, and check it out (two in one day):

Justice Department files notice it will appeal judge's ruling that set back its case against alleged 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Details soon.Appeals court rules national "do-not-call" registry can be implemented while court considers whether it violates telemarketers' free speech. Details soon.