Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

Serendipity, or, The Troubles That Come With Age

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Marion and I went cross-country skiing in Frisco last Sunday. It was a beautiful day, but the skiing was a hell of a workout. The temperature was in the upper 30s, and it had been snowing all day. Because of the snow and overcast, it was hard to see the tracks in the groomed trails. I had trouble seeing them at times, depending on the light, and Marion found them by following behind me. Because of the snowing and the relatively warm temperature, the snow was “slow.”

Even going down the steepest parts of the Frisco Bay loop, I had very little glide and no carry. On the steepest downslope near the end of the trail, I couldn’t even coast to the bottom, and Marion was able to shuffle down slowly with her skis pointing straight downhill.

It took us roughly two hours to go around the trail once, which is about twice what it normally takes. As I said, a hell of a workout.

The serendipity comes in because I decided Sunday morning that I was going to need a backpack, so that I would have somewhere to put any layers I removed while skiing. It wasn’t a problem Sunday, but I’ve ended up wearing just a t-shirt above the waist more than once while skiing. The backpack I grabbed is one I’ve used for exercising while walking, and had 20 pounds of weights in it. When I removed the weights, I noticed something else in it as well. It was the 18-55mm lens for my Canon camera, which I’ve been looking for for almost a year. That just goes to show how diligent I am about getting my exercise, I suppose.

In any case, I’ve been looking for it for a long time, because I backed a Kickstarter project over a year ago for the Pulse camera controller from Alpine Labs, and I received it last May or so. Since the only lens I could find was the 70-200mm zoom lens that was on the camera, I really didn’t do anything much with the Pulse until this week.

Today, I tried taking a time-lapse sequence of photos. It worked, but stopped early, and I need to determine why (I have a few ideas). However, I did get over 150 RAW photos of the foothills in Golden that I need to figure out how to stitch into a movie. It wasn’t the best weather for anything that looked impressive, but it was good enough for a first try. I’ll be trying more soon.

Got a new toy

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

It’s a calculator app for my iPhone/iPad. It looks to be about half-way between a regular calculator and a spreadsheet, and ought to be fun to play with.

Costly commemoratives

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

The Martin Guitar Company is celebrating a couple of milestones, and has produced commemorative guitars to note them. First, it is the 50th anniversary of the D-35 model, and they’re producing a limited run (100 total guitars) of a Brazilian 50th Anniversary Edition. Each one costs about $7000.

If that’s insufficiently exclusive for you, they’ve also made a one-of-a-kind Model D-100 Deluxe to mark one million guitars made. Only $115,000.

Both of them are out of my range – I’d have trouble saving my pennies to get the D-35, and the D-100 is worth more than half of what my house is worth. I won’t even say, “If you’d like to buy me one of them …” because they’d be wasted on me – I’m not really a guitar guy. However, if you wanted to get me something from this page

A nice day

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Spent a few hours volunteering mid-day, helping pass out food packages. Worked in the kitchen preparing dinner this afternoon – beef rib roast, roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and chestnuts), Yorkshire pudding, and shallot gravy. It was a special dinner for my daughter, whose birthday is coming up. She also picked up her combination birthday/Christmas present: the Designer’s Edition of Ogre, which I backed on Kickstarter.

I don’t game, but she does, and she loved her present. She knew it was coming – it was supposed to be her present last year, but it took longer than expected to get everything nailed down for the release. Worth it, though. It’s an impressive package.

Cooking is great. It’s a wonderful excuse …

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

for playing with knives and fire.

I have a button that says that. I do enjoy cooking and baking, but the toys can get awfully pricey. I don’t have really good knives, but I do have reasonable ones, and I do try to keep them sharp and take care of them – I own an assortment of sharpening stones from 200 to 6000 grit, as well as two or three books on sharpening and use of knives and other edged implements.

I ran across a mention of Japanese Binchotan charcoal the other day and got curious, so I searched on the web. Most of the sites I found were merely descriptive, but I did find one that sold a few varieties of it. It also sells a number of Japanese-made knives. I believe that this one one is the most expensive knife they sell. Note that they charge 50% more for left-handed versions.

It’s a bit rich for my tastes. I can’t justify a $300 knife to myself, let alone something like that. I also don’t have need for such a specialized knife. That being said, I can dream, can’t I?

Miscellany 23

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

My posting has been sporadic for some time, so it’s time to dump the accumulated links.

The Younger Generation

Not all is lost, as shown by this Google science fair winner.

Fun/Funny Stuff

Personally, I don’t think synchronized swimming should be part of the Olympics, but I recognize that some people enjoy watching it. With that in mind, I’d like to present the Russian synchronized swimming team.

I had no idea that lab techs had such fun on the job.

I have a lot of problems with President Obama, but I’m amazed and horrified to learn that he’s covering up jump-gate technology to Mars.

British boy’s comics are not doing well. I used to read a number of them when I was a young boy in England, and for years I kept my copy of the 1962 Eagle Annual, but I think I lost it years ago.

So, this guy in the Netherlands had his FaceBook page hacked by his younger brother. He got revenge.

There’s a song to teach you how to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Want to be a financial backer for a horror film? Here’s your chance. There’s even a pun in the title.

Here’s another Kickstarter project (music this time), but I must say that this one seems a little “off” to me.

Some people have interesting jobs.

Sometimes, a product will garner all sorts of interesting reviews. The “Bic Crystal for Her” pen is one such.

These pens, however, need no amusing review comments. Probably safe from borrowing, too.

Max thinks our society is doomed. I don’t disagree, but I do see the need.

I may have to spend some time at the Museum of Unnatural History.

This is a cruel joke.

Science project genius!

Learning Japanese? Mangajin was a good resource.

I’m not into baseball, but this is a fascinating story.

Cats don’t seem reliable enough for the CIA to use them in surveillance. That appears to have been borne out.

There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people.

There are, however, ludicrous weapons.

Some logo designers need to be supervised.

Science and Technology

A dynamic periodic table of elements is a fun toy.

How to make an abacus in an Altoids tin.

A Chinese noodle-slicing robot. Fun, useful, and fascinating to watch.

A hoverbike? I’d love one, but I’d have loved it more when I was younger.

How the Navy taught people about computers in 1962.

Graphene is a fascinating material. It appears that molybdenum disulfide is similarly attractive, and is more useful in certain areas.

Wind energy is not a good deal.

Renewable energy in general is not a good deal.

Printing images at 100000 dpi.

MPEG-H is the new compression standard for video.

Two mammoth skeletons have been found on an Iowa farm.

It appears that fathers (or, more specifically, older fathers) contribute significantly to autism and schizophrenia.

Convergence in inheritance.

Science toys you can make with your kids.

Telepresence with iPads.

Celebrities often get science wrong. Someone has decided to do something about it.

Pickled brains.

This is a fascinating graph on technology adoption rates.

I’ve backed a few projects on Kickstarter so far. Not any of the most successful ones, though, although I did consider backing the Pebble watch.

Harvard scientists have encoded a 53000-word book in DNA. Evolutionary literature?

Underwater living is becoming possible.

The fraternal organization of chimpanzees. No evidence of funny hats, though.

I’m a touch typist. I also have (and occasionally use) Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is a speech recognition input method. Soon, we may be able to dispense with that, also.

I’ve long been interested in 3d displays. I still have a pair of Haitex X-Specs tucked away in my garage. I’m concerned about the durability of this one, however.

Could this have been the source of the stories of Atlantis or Noah’s ark?

I’d be interested in seeing this lecture on safes and safecracking.

I’m absolutely amazed by the size of fairy wasps.

I gave serious consideration to placing this discussion of women’s breasts and a general theory of ogling in the “Fun Stuff” section.

I was aware that we shared most of our DNA with chimpanzees. I was not aware that most of the differences are on the Y chromosome.

I used to have a t-shirt that said, “Montserrat: Land of Beautiful Women and Mountain Chicken. I had not known that Mountain Chicken is a breed of frog, though … I thought it was a nickname.

I’m going to have to watch this film.

This is a neat (and heart-warming) use of 3D printing technology.

Something tells me that this guy isn’t impressed with Windows 8.

Matt Ridley isn’t too fearful of a looming apocalypse.

A lost species has been brought back to life.

And, wood pulp is finding new use as a high-tech material.

Politics and Society

Don’t expect much in this section. This is already a long post, and this section could make it much longer. I don’t see the need to do that, particularly since anyone following politics on the internet has probably seen much of this already.

So, about those nonexistent Iraqi WMD

Do you know how much you’re paying in taxes? Some myths and misconceptions about tax rates are addressed here. Meanwhile, taxes are about to go up. The Democrats have no plan, and the White House says that the only plan out there doesn’t balance the budget fast enough for them?

Larger cuts than are currently proposed can’t balance the budget. The necessary cuts would be incredibly massive, such that nobody would propose them, and nobody else would accept them.

Then again, the Senate hasn’t passed a budget since April 29, 2009. The federal budget hasn’t been balanced at all since 1969.

Taxs aren’t the only thing going up; energy prices are, also.

Media bias is evidenced in many ways. In many ways. Many. Ways. Many. Many. (I feel like I should add “Tekel, Upharsin” here, which is probably more apropos than I originally thought.)

I guess this shows who Obama considers important.

What might we expect if Obama is reelected?

What could possibly go wrong with government control of your personal networking equipment?

What could possibly go wrong with the DOJ preferentially hiring dwarves, schizophrenics, and the intellectually disabled? That’s not the only problem with federal hiring/appointments. Not by a long shot.

Interesting discussion on the gender orientation of television shows.

Those “lice-infested, dirty murderers” … like me?

Another failure of zero-tolerance. The kid gets some geek cred for the claim, “my name is a weapon,” though.

What happened after guns were banned in Australia?

Everyone Knows It’s Windy

Monday, March 26th, 2012

It’s been a windy day in the area, today. The forecast called for gusts up to 55mph, and I have no doubt that that speed was reached. I’m still hearing occasional gusty winds now, around 9pm. There’s a building being constructed in the lot next to the building I work in, and tremendous amounts of dust were being picked up this afternoon; it was actually limiting visibility.

I went out at lunch to see if I could fly my kite – I’ve got a Skynasaur F-36 sport kite that I haven’t flown in more than a decade. The winds were so strong that the string almost cut my fingers, and one of the two lines snapped before the kite was up 30 feet. I decided that I’d been given a sign that kite flying was not in the cards for today.

I’ll have to try again on a day when the wind isn’t quite so strong. I’ll also have to learn how to adjust the harness on the kite; I’m not sure that it’s set up properly, because it tried to head upwind past my head the moment it got into the air.

Miscellany 18

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Just some things that have been hanging around.

This is a useful site for learning to play the ukulele. If you want to start from the beginning, here’s the first post. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have an easy way to access the archives.

Tired of people who don’t know how to spell or which homophone to use? Here’s a potential solution.

Want a guess as to how long you’ll live? This site tells me I can expect about another 27 years.

Can spiraling help you run faster? I don’t have the knees to run for exercise anymore (and I’m still coming back from my broken ankle, besides), but this sounds interesting.

Sometimes, science fiction can be eerily prophetic. A couple more by Heinlein that they could have mentioned are his prediction of the waterbed in Stranger in a Strange Land (which was actually referenced as prior art to invalidate a patent application), and his prediction in the story Waldo that telephone answering machines would be used to screen incoming calls.

I’m not terribly familiar with it yet, but I’m becoming quite taken with the music of Flanders and Swann. It’s certainly more interesting than this concert.

Scientist trading cards. The people behind these also pulled off a neat guerilla art prank.

Oh, wow, man! The colors!

I can’t believe it! (via Theo Spark – the site is possibly NSFW, YMMV)

The rarely-seen arborial moose. Must have been trying to visit Rocky.

And, to finish up, a list of the ten deadliest toys of all time. I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices, particularly with the “of all time” qualifier, but it’s probably a pretty good starting point for the years since about 1950.

Miscellany 15

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Got some good stuff today, some of which I’ve been holding onto for a week or so. A little video-heavy, too.

First, one of those quintessential Japanese culture things: a cute girl with cat ears. These, however, are controlled by brain waves. It’s everywhere now, but I found it at The Presurfer.

When Marion and I were vacationing in Ecuador, we saw this volcano off in the distance. We saw a column of steam and ash, but nothing like this, although we did hear an occasional booming in the distance. It doesn’t really look like the same mountain in my photos, but that could just be the vantage point from which we saw it.

Volcano in Ecuador

I’ve known some vicious cats in my time, but I would never have expected that I’d need to be medevac’d after a knife fight with one.

Whisky by the shot. Via Cool Material.

A remake of When Harry Met Sally? Looks like it has promise. Via Bad Example.

When Harry Met Sally 2 with Billy Crystal & Helen Mirren from Billy Crystal

Bad Example also had this one, which is pretty fun.

I missed Star Wars Day last week. Whether you did as well or not, you may enjoy these retro Star Wars propaganda posters.

If you prefer Star Trek to Star Wars, you may appreciate hearing that a German television station gave the Maquis credit for taking out Osama Bin Laden.

I want one of these when they’re available.

Want a big photo of the sky?

A town with a population of 1? Sounds sorta familiar.

Almost hit the goal

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Interested in 3-D modeling and rendering? There’s a deal going on.