Friday, April 28, 2006

Maker Faire part 1

Well another week gone by... It's been a bit hectic to get back into my normal "grove" after my brief weekend vacation to CA to go to the Maker Faire. Work has been busy (which is good). Last night I had my weekly painting class, which I almost did not go to! Due to the fact that I woke up late and I rushed out the door and forgot my brushes! Doh! I didn't have time to stop home before class to pick them up, but I knew I had some really cheapy brushes in my bag (made from pony hair of all things). Well, I decided to go anyway, and to see what I could paint with my cheap brushes. As usual, I'm glad I went. It was an interesting class in that the teacher set up a still-life of glass bottles and water. It was challenging but I enjoyed it. The one brush I chose was horrible (might better be used to spread peanut butter!), but I thought 'hmmm, I'm in an art class... I wonder what the odds are that someone forgot a brush?' So I looked around the sink, and sure enough, found a brush. Not the best, but way better than the one I had. So I dove in. It turned out pretty good, but I still have a lot to learn about technique, and how to "see" a still life.

I'll start my Maker Faire post here too... From the beginning :)
I wasn't sure what to expect with this fair. I had it in my mind that it would be small, and that we would probably see the entire show in about an hour maybe two. I also think that Make Magazine did a poor job telling it's readers exactly what would be at the fair. I wish there had been an online map, and a listing of who would be where and at what times. But since this was the first ever maker fair, I will cut them some slack. We pulled up... (I should clarify that by "we" I mean myself, my sister, brother, and nephew) at about 10:05am on Saturday morning. We left a tad late, but made good time on getting there. There was a line of maybe 100 people waiting to get in. We made a mental note where we were parked (next to the Toyota, and one row over from the big yellow school bus). We got in line and were slowly pushing forward. The first thing I saw was a giant (10 feet?) diameter 8-ball floating about 30 feet off the ground. As we were waiting someone made an announcement that if you already had tickets you could skip to a new line, well, about 60% of the line started to shift. We made good time and were in the gates in less than 5 minutes. We approached the main hall, and saw that there were some three wheeled electric cars out front, and one guy zipping around on a "scooter" like device that looked like a small version of a Segway. We entered the hall, and were greeted by a bunch of Oreilly books, and a bunch of T-shirts on sale. (I thought this was a bad sign, as it would set the tone for the rest of the day - I was wrong!). We then moved into the hall, and I was amazed at how big it was, and how many tables there were. The first thing that caught my eye were the tables of robots from Parallax, and then my eyes noticed the LARGE White metal Giraffe robot! As I was looking at the robots (and one guy was doing a small demo that the remote control for the robot on the table was "tilt sensitive" as you tilted the board forward, the robot would move forward, tilt it left, and the robot would turn left. Very cool). Then I heard some techno-electronica music coming from the giraffe... It was starting up, and awkwardly 'walking' forward towards us, with a man dressed in a giraffe T-shirt riding on top of the 'machine'. It was something that was both cool and comical at the same time. He slowed the machine to a stop and started giving a talk about his machine to a bunch of people who were gathered in a semi-circle. The gentleman appeared nervous and perhaps this was the first time he gave this speech in front of a group like this. (My sister brought up the fact that we may have been lucky to hear the first speech rather than the speech towards the end of the day which may have been much shorter). He talked about his machine, what inspired it, a few techincal details that went over my head, and his original reason for building this machine was to show at the Burning Man event. (That explained a lot actually ;) From this point, I knew I was going to have a great day!
I'll stop here, as this is a LONG post (for me anyway) and that perhaps I should stretch this out over a few posts.

One more thing quickly not related to the Maker Faire... I went to my "geek meeting" tonight, my Apple User Group meeting that is, and we had a really great presentation on using your Mac to create a home theatre or media center. The gentleman who gave the presentation was very good and knew a lot on getting all this stuff to work. At one point during the presentation when I was in awe of all the technology (and money) that he has put into this setup, it struck me that I still use a simple VHS machine which costs about $100, and about $1 per video tape ;) Still it was interesting to see this, and it shows a glimpse of what's ahead for computers and that they will eventually make their way into the living room rather than a machine usually stuck in the corner.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Maker Faire creation

I still want to blog more about this event, but have yet to find the time to sit down and spend a few minutes. In the meantime, here is a little creation I made at the faire with the help of my Sis, Bro, and Nephew! I call him - Skeeter! (The robot, not my Nephew ;)
(This was made in a section of the faire that had a bunch of tables set up with tools, hot glue guns, drills, etc... and around the perimeter were boxes of "stuff" that you could make things with. The buzz in the room was great for all the creativity going on, and the colors, and noises, etc... This was perhaps my favorite feature of the Maker Faire.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm Back...

I'm back from my adventure to the Maker Faire! What in incredible trip that was! I'm so glad I made the trek! Things are going to be a little hectic for me until I can catch up on missed days, but trust me, I will be posting more about all the cool, nerdy, geeky, sub-culture, creative items I saw there!
In the meantime, there is a LARGE group of MAKERS who are posting their photos onto Flickr using the tag:

and some videos are being posted on youtube at:

What an event!

A Special Thanks (ThAnKs) to JDE for helping to make this trip both possible and even more enjoyable!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Out of Town

Just a quick post to say that I'll be out of town over the next few days. I'm going to CA to go to the first ever (hopefully first "annual"?) Maker Faire. I don't know what to expect, but it looks like it's going to be a blast. I plan on taking a lot of photos, and I'll either post them here, or I'll post them to my Flickr account.
What's that? You haven't heard of the Maker Faire? Then read more at the official site...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter 2

Well, I just finished dying my own eggs via the instructable that I posted about last night. (and I already ate them for breakfast as well!). They turned out pretty cool and colorful. The only thing I would change about the instructions is to cook them for 10-12 minutes... 7-8 is just a little too low. (Though they were fine for eating). FYI> Did you know that when you eat a hard boiled egg and you peel it open and see that "greenish" color around the yolk? That means you over cooked them. It's a chemical reaction that causes the sulfur to separate from the yolk, and can give the egg a bitter taste. I like the 10-12 minute cooking time, then cooling them by running cold water into the hot water to stop the cooking. Oh, and the 10-12 time is after the water has been brought to a boil... Then lower the eggs carefully into the hot water, then start the timer. I also changed one other thing from the instructable, in that I didn't use a rubber band to secure the cloth, but rather I used cotton string. And, I could taste a very slight onion flavor on the egg white. But I just added some salt and pepper and the onion taste was gone.
Anyway, more than you ever wanted to know about cooking an egg.
Enjoy the photos and Happy Easter again.

Happy Easter

Just wanted to say Happy Easter to everyone.

For a bit of pagan-ish celebration check out this cool easter egg instructable.

And totally not related (well, I could make a relation between Jesus and the Pyramids, but that's a blog for another time). Check out this news item I just read on MSNBC... a new Pyramid has been discovered and is about to undergo an acheological dig! Cool!

And to bring it back around the Easter, It looks like I've agreed to take part in a bit of a challenge (starting tomorrow) to read the Bible in 90 days. I know my difficulty in reading that big book in the past, so I hope I'll be able to keep up. Check out Blanket in the Grove's blog to read more...

Friday, April 14, 2006


It's FRIDAY! Well as I write this, Friday is almost over, but you know what I mean.
It's been a hectic week. I'm glad it's over. And next week I'll have a short week as I'm taking a mini-vacation starting Thursday. I'm headed cross country to see family, and to participate (well as an observer I guess) in the First ever Maker Faire. Held in San Mateo, CA on Sat and Sunday (I'll just be attending Saturday). I can't wait for this. It's going to be a total geek fest so I should fit right in. I know the San Francisco area has had about 40 days and 40 nights of rain, so I hope this weekend will see some sunshine. (I think some of the events will be inside). If you want to read more about this Make Faire, check out this link:

After a crazy Thursday at work, I had my art class. When I was leaving the office I joked with my co-worker that my painting will be harsh black streaks and scribbles and possibly a curse word or two thrown in for good measure. But I got to class early, ate an apple for dinner, and had time to just sit and chill in the art room (very peaceful). When class started, the teacher brought in some new items for a still life, so I decided I was going to go slow on this painting, concentrate on not using too much water, and take my time. About 2 hours later (it felt like 14 minutes) class was over, and I had not thought about anything except painting carrots, green peppers, potatoes, a glass of water and a few bottles. I had planned on finishing the painting at next weeks class, then it hit me, I won't be there, because I'll be about 30,000 feet in the air headed to CA. Doh. So I may try to finish the painting from memory - or I may just leave it unfinished since I like it. Not sure yet.

ok, and on a political ending here, I stumbled upon this 4 min video clip on about how New Hampshire is standing up to the Fed Gov. (good for them!). I had not heard of this before, so this was news to me... The Fed Gov is creating "incentives" (translation = giving out money to states who comply) to create a federal standard for drivers licenses. Your personal biometric data will be stored on there along with your past driving history, points, accidents, etc... And it will all be machine readable so that any authority figure (or business you choose to do business with (banks, etc)) will be able to swipe your Federal ID, and then store all of your info in their systems. This just stinks. I know I will fight it as long as possible too, but I'm sure I'll cave in - the same way I caved in to getting a photo ID so I could get on a plane. Anyway, check out the clip, and take notice as to what's at stake here. Man, do I have to read the book 1984!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hitting the fan...

Have you ever heard that 'bad things' happen in threes? I have. I've come to expect it... but today, I think I've lost count, and I think the rule of 3's is bogus... bad things happen all the time - It's called Life I guess. Well, after some last minute changes, and adjustments I got my Letter (or I should say packet of info) ready for the IRS. I sent it off yesterday (hey, I wonder if a blog post would count as proof of it being sent? :) I must have double checked that packet of info about 30 times before sealing the envelope, yet I STILL have a fear that something was left out, or a typo, or a mistake. I know I'm being paranoid, but I can't help it. I also have no idea when to expect a response... 10 days? a month? how long will I have to wait to hopefully get the good news that the mistake has been corrected, and that I'm clear. ugh.
On Sunday, I found out a friend of my dad's (and a friend of mine) went to the hospital. She was afraid that she had a heart attack. She didn't feel right and had pains in her chest and back, so rather than take a chance she went to the hospital to get checked out. So far all tests are coming back negative (which is good). I just called as I was writing this... She's home from the hospital, and all seems well. She has to go back again tomorrow for another stress test, but everything appears to be fine. Hooray - good news today.
I found out my family members just got notice that they must vacate their apartment! It was the sort of thing that has always been expected because it was something that kept getting pushed back. They've been there for over 2 years now? and I think it was only supposed to be for a year. So, it just came as a bit of shock. They wish to stay in the same neighborhood, but she sent me a craigslisting of local apartment prices... holy shnikes! Rent seems to start around $1200 and up! Crikes! I think they are doing well enough that they think they can swing it, but even so. So big upheaval on that front, and until they can find a place to settle it will be on all our minds. (They always find cool places to habitat, so I'm not too worried for them ;)
Then the icing on the cake this morning... With all this IRS stuff, I woke up early this morning and did a little straighting up (emphasis on "little"). I started to organize my tax papers for this year to put away, when I was looking at the forms I got from my client... Turns out, I don't have the copy that I'm supposed to! The one marked "for reciepient". I DO have the one that was supposed to be filed with the state! The secretary is on vacation so I can't ask her, and chances are she won't remember anyway. So I have to HOPE now, that she sent the wrong copy into the state (probably not a big deal), But I HOPE she didn't send in another duplicate to the IRS! And in two years, I'll be right back in the same boat I'm in now. UGH! I kick myself, because I should have checked this when she first gave me the papers back in Jan. I just saw the two copies, and assumed they were correct. Never again.
Well, as I finish up this rant (sorry my dear readers - had to get it out)... I realize that's three! Ok, so maybe the rule of 3's does apply. (See, I am confused, I re-read my post and that's 4!)

Well, In : 8 days : 00 hours : 11 min : 35 sec : I'll be getting on a plane to take a mini vacation to CA!!! Can't wait to just relax (and hopefully soak up that nice CA weather - they've had about 60 days of rain lately!). Regardless - rain or shine - I'm going to relax and enjoy my visit. :)

Oh by the way... a "normal blog post" from me...
You must look at this sculpture!
I found the link today, and there are some photos on the washington post website that are incredible. I don't know the permanance of the link, so I will also post a link to the google images... incredible. My fav is the boy crouched down. (note: artistic nudity, may not be work safe). Oh... I suppose I should give him credit... his name is Ron Mueck.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Just found this cool design (interior) blog. I loved the shots where the guy was using casts from trees on the wall/ceiling... That's cool!

ceiling guy link

I'm still trying to put the final touches on the IRS junk. I hope to tie up the loose ends tonight, and mail off the letter tomorrow. I hope that by being thorough I'll avoid this stretching out to multiple letters back and forth. It should be an "open and shut" solution (i hope).
I'll post on the details later.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin

I saw a pretty good movie last night. Called, Lucky Number Slevin (imdb)- staring a lot of big names (which usually is not a good sign). Josh Hartnett was the lead character, Bruce Willis was a some-what minor character (important to the story, but not a lot of screentime). Other big names were Sir Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, Lucy Liu (is she a big name? I supose) and Stanley Tucci. I started off liking this movie, then it started to loose me, but to it's credit it pulled me back in towards the end. One thing that was unique about it was a nod to the 70's style, at first it started to annoy me, then I tried to figure out what the movie maker was trying to say, then I just realized it was just a "style" and I then enjoyed it. The most noticeable of this was the "groovy" wallpaper in all of the buildings and hallways. I don't think the big twist was that much of a shock, In fact, it was pretty obvious, but I found myself forgetting the twist, so that when it reappeared I was a bit surprised. Kinda sneaky but I liked it. I will point out a very minute detail that really stuck out to me (for some odd reason). I don't know if this was just a coincidence, but I think it was deliberate... During the opening sequence, Bruce Willis' character is sitting in a wheel chair, and there was one scene where he was sort of slouched and desheveled... I noticed that one side of his collar was tucked into his sweater (or jacket) and the other side was out (which added to the mussy look). Later on, Josh's character was sitting on a bed, and I happened to notice the exact same collar situation, which didn't quite fit because he was fashionably dressed. So... if this was a coincidence, then I am looking too deep... If it was intentional by either the director or the wardrobe, then Kudos for this small "hint" that these two characters are connected.
Another movie in the action adventure genre that I have liked this year. A bit surprising, but I hope Hollywood may have finally stumbled onto the correct formula for an action movie... Action + Story + Good acting = Good Movie! Not that difficult is it? :)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rube Goldberg

I don't know who Rube Goldberg is... hold on... looking it up... Shame on me, I should have heard of this guy before! I'm glad I just looked him up. Check out Wikipedia's entry if you don't know who he is either.
Anyway, I just found this video on youtube (via digg), that is sure to bring a smile between your chin and nostrils. I could watch this for hours.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Well, I went to the photography group last night. It was good. Not a very large group (11 people including myself), but it was a comfortable size. We met at a local library that was recently refurbished and I was impressed. It was the first library that I went into that looked like it wasn't built in the 70's. We didn't have an official room to meet in, but instead went to the far back corner out of the way. No one really bothered us, and I assume we didn't bother them. On a side note here, I think that's a million dollar idea for a company to start up room rentals for meetings. Not the big business ones, I know they have those, but for small groups of 10-20 people. I bet there would be a market for that. But I digress...
Thanks to J and Lady A for suggesting photo number 2... Turns out I won 3rd place. (maybe that was an unwritten rule that they vote for the new guy's photo to get him to come back a second time ;) I learned a lot (maybe a bit too much as some of it started to get confusing). We talked about the aperture, and DOF (Depth of Field).
I found out about this group on a website called I had tried this group one time before to find a chess group but it was a bust. I guess it depends on the people joining if it is successful or not. It's a cool website, and a great idea.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Off the wall post...

OK, while surfing the web today, I found this little blurb about a newly designed urinal that is built into the side of a sink. The photo (left) was placed next to a standard sized toilet photo, and when I first saw it the scale made the photo on the left look very small. Then it hit me... Why are men's urinals so large? Are we really that bad at aiming? It seems to me a much smaller urinal would save so much water and cleaning time. Who was the designer of the original urinal that said it had to be 2.5' tall by about 2' wide? I know... a strange topic to blog about.
For those wondering where I come up with these, they mostly originate withe
PS> I'm not that crazy over the urinal in a sink design pictured left. Something about washing your hands next to a urinal that's skeevy.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spider close-up

I think I got my first ever GOOD close-up out of my digital camera this weekend. I was loading my dishwasher Sunday morning, and turned to do something, went to put another dish in, and saw a little spider trapped in a water droplet on the inside door of the dishwasher. Poor little guy, I thought. So I picked him up with the corner of a paper towel, (which absorbed the water drop) and I thought he'd scurry off, but he just sat there. So I looked at him up close and saw how he had these cool stripes and thought, 'hmm, I wonder if I could get a picture of this guy?' So I got my camera out, got my mini-tripod out (I think this is where I've always gone wrong in the past, I always move the camera no matter how steady I thought I held it, which leads to a blurry photo). I even went and got my Mag Flashlight and put a tissue over it, to create a light diffuser, turned the macro zoom feature on, and the flash off, and proceeded to get a couple good photos. I think if you click on the photo you'll get to see it in a larger window. He was only about 3/8" big and that texture he's sitting on is a paper towel so you can see the scale. (needless to say, when I put all my camera stuff away, I came back, and the little guy was gone.)

On another note: Last night I went to a new group meeting. It was... shall we say unique. I have a link on the side here to one of my favorite magazine/website called Make Magazine. It's hard to describe, but in a nutshell it's about people who make things. Simple things like crafts (such as knitting - not that knitting is "simple" but you know what I mean), to a guy who built his own monorail train in his backyard, and everything in-between. Well, Last night was the second meeting of a local Make group. I am really glad that I went. It was corny, and stupid, geeky... but a lot of fun, so who cares about the corny and stupid parts. It's really hard to describe, but I'll try. It's very informal, as it's brand new and we're all not sure what we're doing. The beginning was open to anyone who was building a project could get up and talk/show their project... these consisted of: A guy who was developing his own software program to help him make paper origami spheres, a guy who made is own extension cords, an Architect who drove down from NYC (not sure what his project was), A woman who was torn about taking apart an old doll from the 1960's to figure out how the spring mechanism worked, A woman who worked making props and animatronics, and a few others that I can't recall right now. Then we were split into groups of 4-5 each, and given a tool box of typical tools, hammer, screwdriver, etc, and a bag of "parts", then we were told to build an object to travel from point A to point B. Whoever got their vehicle to travel furthest was the winner. The main pieces we had to work with were; a rat trap, a large balloon, 4 CD's (wheels), some washers, rubberbands, and of course duct tape. Ours looked cool, but when it came time to "go" it didn't. It just sat there. But that's not really the point. The winning team, after making some last minute adjustments had the best distance of about 10 feet. It was a strange night but I met some interesting people, and had fun.
On another note... We had our meeting in the basement club of an American Ukrainian group that had a bar in it, with a few of the locals there. There was a wedding there prior to our arrival, so maybe these guys were stragglers from the wedding? This one guy standing at the bar was about 65, white mussed up hair, wearing a white undershirt, with a white sweatshirt on top that was loose fitting and had the sleeves cut off (reminded me of an old 80's fashion). As I was standing at the bar waiting for a beer, one of the guys from our group tapped my shoulder and point to the waistline of this guy... he had a large belt clip with a hatchet hanging from his belt! Needless to say, I got my beer and made sure to keep this guy in my peripheral vision the rest of the night ;) - Like I said, a strange night. :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

This Just In...

It was announced today that George Bush will be running for a third term. In a surprise to most people, it turns out that President Bush has passed some secret laws under the Homeland Patriot Security Act that allows him to stay in power as long as America is under attack by terrorists. "I was put here by the people, and those people need protection from all the evildoers in the world. I will not give up my position as leader of this great country due to some archaicy law" Said President Bush today in an announcement from the local DC Starbucks. All of the Republican's are celebrating from 10am until 12midnight today at the local "Young Republican's Club" in Hoboken, NJ.
News Source: Rueters