Sunday, December 21, 2008

Boze Cube Speakers

We are setting up the home theater in the parlor this week. Think I will take the opportunity to repair the cube speakers, the mechanical connection between the cubes have broken.

Not having any luck with the Bose site. Unable to find anything remotely helpful on their site, especially the customer support pages. :(

I like the sound from this speaker system but the physical configuration is sub par.

My situation is not unique. Many people have had their cubes separate after a cat pushed them off a self onto the floor. The fix was actually easier than this guy said.

Speakers are now fixed but I discovered that one of the tweeters was damaged (from a fall?) so now we have an excuse to get a new/better center channel for the home theater.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is the language used by type setters to represent actual content (since the 1500s). It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC. Although it does not have meaning it is not "random" text.

I use it to build test data when the content content is important. In fact, true content gets in the way because people tend to read it when they should be looking at it.

More information and tools for generating it at

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
It is used by two of my favorite applications; iWeb and GenerateData.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Science inspires weight loss plan

The Scientific American podcast 60-Second Science, Cash Rewards Help Dieters, recently had an article that has inspired me to commit to my own weight loss plan.

Rewards for maintaining a healthy weight.

I may only play video games on days when one or more of the following criteria are met.
  • I maintain my weight from the previous day
  • I weigh less then the previous day
  • I do a cardio workout before play
Rules of game play:
  • Tai Chi practiced
  • Karate katas preformed
  • No food or drink during play (avoid mindless consumption)
  • Pause game when Sharon comes into the room and says the magic word
  • Look at Sharon when the game is paused and she is talking to me
  • Disengage at least once an hour
  • Payment of $10US for every pound of weight reduction is my only source of new games (gifts don't count)
At Sharon's discretion, the above guidelines may be waved for sickness and holidays.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Spy Who Came for Christmas

This week I am listening to the new novel by one of my favorite authors, David Morrell. The Spy Who Came for Christmas (2008) is a contemporary action book set on Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

My favorite part of the book (Part 3) is the retelling of the birth of our Loud as interpreted by historians familiar with how spies may have used disinformation, psychological profiling and cultural influences in attempts to manipulate Pilot in order to destabilize the country (so that Persia could invade Israel).

(The hero uses neuro-linguistic programming to gain the trust of the family in crisis, grounds for further research.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jack Palms Shirt on

Last spring I think it was, I ordered a Jack Palms shirt with part of the quote from Raymond Chandler's essay The Simple Art of Murder (1944) printed on the back. Pictured is me wearing the shirt at Lake Tahoe North Shore, a hard man for hard times.

Font of the shirt is done in the style of Jack Daniel's whiskey. It reads,

Jack Palms

On the back of the shirt is the Chandler quote, the same quote I used for my dojo brochure,

Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself necessarily mean, [who is neither tarnished nor afraid.]

People ask about the Chandler quote and I tell them the Jack Palms story.

This picture is also posted on Seth Harwood's website in the User Images section.

Subscribe to Jack Wakes Up and get down with the action. Or if you don't listen to book tapes, read the hardcopy (first edition sold out, to be republished May 2009).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Infected Ancestor

Just finished listening to my second Scott Sigler book. Very good writer in the science horror action genre.

Ancestor is a very engaging action book dealing with the ramifications of engineering new animals from the world mammal DNA database in order to raise farm "animals" for human organ transplants.

Infected is almost as engaging but it was quite a tough book to read because the horrible/painful things the character are put through.

Sigler was one of the first authors to podcast their own works. You can download his books from his sight of PodioBooks, free. I learned about Sigler from Seth Harwood, my favorite podcasting author.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vacuum is working again

We needed a new battery for our Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. It is so nice to have it back in service again. I spend an hour sitting with it on Saturday afternoon practicing my doumbek and whistles in the music room. The floor is so nice and clean now. :)

They have a new model that is super cool, I recommend you get one for your home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mountain Mandarin Festival

We went to the Mountain Mandarin Festival for the first time this year. Basically it's a street fair at the Placer County Fairgrounds just down the street.

No animals admitted but the S.P.C.A. had some you could take home if you wanted to adopt one or two.

We met Glenn Schussman, a quilter. He does nice free hand quilting. I liked him and think I'll use him to do the quilting on my next project. 916-487-1443 in Carmichael,

We met the authors/editors Ric & Jody Hornor of The Golden History Books in their booth and bought The Golden Corridor. These books are well organized writings from the 1800s, illustrated with remastered photographs and sidebars from local paper, letters and journal entries of the time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Long Goodbye

I'm watching the Robert Altman film The Long Goodbye this week.

"I have two friends in this world. One is a cat. The other is a murderer."

The first 11 minutes is dominated by an orange tabby, much like Dean, and his insistence on his food, no substitutes.

The Long Goodbye was Morris this Cat's first finicky role.

The Governator has an uncredited scene where he takes his pants off.

The film is based on the the Raymond Chandler book OSN. Doesn't follow the book verbatim and has a different ending. Atlman insisted on keeping the screenwriter's ending by writing it into his director's contract.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Bond film builds on the previous movie

I took PTO on Friday to see the new James Bond film, Quantum Solace (2008). Good movie if you are into Bond and know the character. I'm not sure if you would completely enjoy it if you are not a James Bond fan (it is not dumbed down for the general audience).

As soon as we got home I put Casino Royal (2006) in the old DVD player and watched it again (5th or 6th time). It is so cool how they brought forward characters and themes from Casino Royal into Quantum Solace.

I recommend you rewatch Casino Royal before going to catch Quantum Solace in the theater, not required.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


After (during) the Caswell Concert we decided that we really did need to go to Lark Camp in 2009. To that end, I ordered a doumbek for the belly dancing music class.

It is a large (sombati size) aluminum Alexandria (best maker in Egypt) doumbek with bright blue hot paint and six tuning bolts. This hand drum is 19.5 inches x 12.5 inches which gives it a much larger playing surface, about 10 inches, than most doumbeks. The Mylar head is not effected by temperature and humidity like fish or mammal skin heads so it will sound just as good in the redwoods as the living room.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Savvy Web Tester's Tool Kit

My notes from the Erik Petersen presentation at Starwest 2008. Petersen presentation was an inspiration, both his technique and content. He used mind mapping software instead of PowerPoint. So a very scattered talk about dozens of unrelated tools was organized and cohesive. Bottom line, you have to get out there and try lots of stuff and keep the gems. Recommended getting into Portable Applications. Tool you keep on your thumb drive that don't require installation to run. There is a version of Firefox you can use that allows you to travel with all your bookmarks and cookies and when you leave the PC your surf history and cookies go with you, no evidence that you were surfing is left behind.
  • FLV Player
  • VUE---from Tufts University, the really really cool software used to give the presentation
  • wink---animate
  • pstart---launcher/organizer
  • psPad---editor with file types. Able to do an date inteligent global change.
  • winAudit
  • Double Finder
  • TCP/UDP endpoirnt viewer
  • Chrome Googles' brower
  • Cam Studio Recorder
  • Printscreen---Lightscreen
  • TimeSnapper---screen shot with playback, "Here is how I reproduced the failure, watch the movie."
  • xampp
  • Firefox Portable Apps
  • Firefox Profiles used at start up for different modes of browser usage.
  • Peterson's site that should have the Starwest 2008 notes for this presentation posted in November.
  • Firebug
  • Virtual Magnifier Glass
  • Selenium IDE---capture replay
  • MindMapping
  • Better Software, November 2008 article (TBD)
  • Freemind
  • Mindjet, MindManger--with Microsoft Project interface
  • iMindMap
  • mindmappingsoftwareblog
  • Generatedata :-) :-) :-) After seeing this I dropped all the requirements for BPX 4.0 to produce stochastic test data, we can buy this utility and be done.
  • WWILF---What Was I Looking For?
  • Versioned backup
  • fiddler---tamper with the data intended for Internet Explorer. Peterson did a little demo of fiddler and hosed his machine inadvertently, it really causes havoc when you muck up the input stream to the web server ;-) WARNING, this tool is considered a "hacker's tool", you may be prosecuted for owning it some day.

Music from Starwest 2008

Partial notes from: The Savvy Web Tester's Tool Kit, Erik Petersen

Very cool. I liked the video clips presented before the talk was scheduled to begin. He talked about guitars and music while showing YouTube videos.

Tools of one trade applied to a different domain result in surprising insights and beauty.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Koo-koo-katchoo, Mrs. Palin

Tribute to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, with apologies to Simon & Garfunkel.

Performed by Caswell & Carnahan
Lyrics by David Hakim
Additional lyrics by Jarion Monroe, Chris Caswell & Danny Carnahan
Produced by Taco Jones
Edited with grace by Livermoron

Todo List

I have been using techniques I learned at work (Achieving Your Highest Priorities) to keep my inbox empty. Palpable reduction in stress, sense of loss when I check for email and find nothing in the inbox.

Just heard about this web app that aids in maintaining your Todo List, cross platform; Gootodo, a paid service :(.

Learned about it listening to the interview with the author of Bit Literacy, Mark Hurst, on podcast #1 at Precision Change. Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload by Mark Hurst.

Does anybody know of a way to move email into iCal on the Mac?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Scott Phillips, books to read

Author Scott Phillips has three novels and several short stories all with characters from the same family. Set in Wichita Kansas at various points it time (40's, 1952, 1989).

Harold Ramis made a film noir based on the first novel, Ice Harvest (2005). Sharon and I both enjoyed it. I heard about the movie on the Clute and Edwards podcast, Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir.

Recently C&E brought Phillips back to talk about his books in their other podcast Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed. After listening to the interview yesterday I decided to read his books. Turns out Scott Phillips admires Charles Williford as much as I do.

The Auburn Public Library as access to all three of these books so I am going to get the books to read, in hard copy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bodhran article

There is a two page magazine article about the bodhran in The Living Tradition, Issue 80, pages 62-63.

The Bodhran, from the makers point of view, by Sharon Armstrong.

Sharon talked with Albert Alfonso and Seamus O'Kane. Among other this it describes how bodhran playing has changed over the last 30 years, what I call 21st Century Bodhran.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two Trains Running

I just finish Two Trains Running by Andrew Vachss. Enjoyed it, he is still a good writer. I've read almost all of the Burke series and while I get completely engrossed in the Burke characters the subject matter is way to ugly to blindly recommend Vachss's books to just anybody. However, Two Trains Running is more like The Sopranos circa 1959 and not as likely to creep/freak you out.

I flagged this entry as "politics" because the back story is about what goes on in local politics and how elections as influenced. The political subject matter reminded me of some of the Ross Thomas novels.

On the book's website there is a suggested reading list. Joe R. Lansdale, The Bottoms; Pete Dexter, Train; James Ellroy, L.A. Confidential; T.C. Boyle, World's End; Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; Michael Patrick McDonald, All Souls; Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest.

I've read the Ellroy and Hammett books and liked them quite a bit. Guess I'll have to read the others as well. If you have experience with any of this please leave a comment.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wall hanging quilt idea

The previous blog entry sent me out into the www, a mind expanding experience to be sure. My creative synapses started working and I came up with an idea for a quilt. Perfect squares of nine patches alternating with neutral "white" squares, like a checkered table cloth.

Elderly Web Surfers Benefit Brains

Marvin the Martian This is from one of the podcasts I normally listen to. (Grammar Girl says it is OK to end a sentence with a preposition, maroon.)
Senior citizens across the world love keeping their brains busy with crossword puzzles, sudoku or word jumbles. These brain-teasers actually help keep neurons firing clearly and quickly. Now a new study has a prescription for the Internet age. According to a paper to be released in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, surfing the web can improve brain function in older adults.

Neuroscientists at U.C.L.A. scanned the brains of two dozen 55- to 74-year-old volunteers as they both read and searched the web. Both activities sent blood rushing to the areas of the brain that control memory and language. However, when using the internet, brain regions that deal with complex reasoning and decision-making also lit up. And the effect was more pronounced the more Internet savvy the surfer was: older adults with more Internet experience under their belts got twice the brain benefit of web rookies when going online. The researchers say their study points to ways of designing software that can keep older folks’ brains brisk. Just what you needed, grandma and grandpa ROTFLOLing.

—Adam Hinterthuer

60-Second Science is a daily podcast of Scientific American.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Great Radio, KFJC

My favorite radio station in the whole wide world is KFJC in Los Altos Hills, California. They are having their annual fund raising drive now. Unlike public radio an most other listener supported broadcast organizations KFJC is more fun to listen to during the fund raising times than the rest of the year. Entertaining commercial and swell parting gifts. I listen at work and at home via the web, KFJC 89.7 FM in silicon valley.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No one's as Irish as Barack O'Bama

"No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses, they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and hopes, the loves and hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement; it is a dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude."
—James Connolly, 1907

AuburnHouseConcerts Blog

I started a new blog for the Auburn House Concerts site (AHC).
This is where we will announce upcoming concerts, post informal concert reports, and let you know about the publication of AHC videos. At the bottom of the blog page is an applet that shows all the house concert videos we have posted on YouTube.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Towel Guy

We were at the KVMR Celtic Festival this weekend. The Towel Guy was there dancing beside the stage as usual.

Cathy Ryan even commented on him. After a rousing jig set she looked over at him and said, Grass Valley aerobics, I love it...Grand.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Actions reflect Commitment

The Get-It-Done Guy podcast referenced David Allen, Getting Things Done. I found this podcast that I haven't listened to yet.

Your actions illustrate your commitments.
What are your priorities in life? Your todo list says otherwise. :(

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle

I just discovered Fordham University's Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle on YouTube. The blog is written by Ryan Duns a Jesuit in Detroit. I love his sound and joy.

He takes on A Cat's Meow, a complex whistle tune by Joanie Madden. I want to study this tutorial to stretch my whistle skills. Dots and such at

His YouTube profile has the class videos arranges in order.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

SmartAC Installed

PG&E installed the SmartAC device this week.

Login to program your SmartAC thermostat or to opt out for the day. Or call 1-866-908-4916.

Honda Civic Hybrid - 4 months

Went in for the second oil change. The gas mileage continues to improve. I am now getting 47 MPG on my commute. From Dixon to Roseville last week it was 52 MPG.

The new license plate has been picked up and installed.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Jaya Carl for President

After hearing what the Republicans did this morning it pushed me over the edge, I am going to do it.
Be Good, Do Good. Jaya Carl for President in 2008

Channel 3 News story about my candid disease (click).

Please take a moment to consider a better world, then make it so.

At your feet, jaya

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Mistakes in Tango

Here is a clip from Scent of a Woman.

"No mistakes in the Tango (Donna), not like life. Simple, that's what makes the Tango so great. You make a mistake, get all tangled up, just Tango on."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mary and the Solder

The second Legacy video, enjoy.

More information at the website.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joby GorillaPod

Sharon bought a Joby GorellaPod camera tripod this week to facilitate taking videos at the house concerts.

She used it to film a couple of tunes tonight, worked great.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Kill Set

The first of two Legacy videos is now on YouTube.

More information at the website.

We'll to the Woods no more

The second Notorious video is now available on YouTube.

More information on the website.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Namesake Music

Sharon brought home a nice space music CD from yoga. I like it, rich trancy textures. Turns out the composer/musician is Jaya. The CD is Wheel of God.

Poking around on the net to find out some information on this Jaya I discovered a band from Amsterdam, Jaya The Cat. Check out this "jaya-like" video.

Mistake: "When I say I love you well I must've been drunk...When I exercise my devils you're the first one gone." The first music I heard of their was on their website, was rockin Reggae.

Michelangelo's David goes home

After a two year visit to the United States, Michelangelo's David has returned to Italy .

Click on the image to see for yourself how the decadent west has corrupted young David.

The tour's sponsors thank you for supporting the arts.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Serving Rock-Hard Ice Cream

Here is a Kitchen Tip from ATK.

Taken fresh from the freezer, pint-sized containers of premium ice cream are often too hard to scoop. We solved this problem by slicing the ice cream right in the carton. Place the container on its side and cut off slices right through the cardboard with a serrated or an electric knife. Just peel the cardboard off the sides of the ice cream disk and serve. The lid will sit flush up against the ice cream left in the container for easy storage.

Serve with Hot Fudge Sauce.

Hot Fudge Sauce

My favorite hot fudge sauce is the receipe my mother has. I won't blog that at this time but will share this American's Test Kitchen version (yet to be tested). Maybe I'll do it for Session at the end of the month.

ATK found that combining cocoa powder, Dutch-processed for the richest color, and semisweet chocolate produced the fudgiest flavor. Makes about 2 cups
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup water
Pinch table salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Microwave chocolate, whisking often, until melted and smooth, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk in cocoa until dissolved.
2. Meanwhile, simmer corn syrup, sugar, cream, water, and salt in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 4 minutes.
3. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Cool mixture slightly, about 2 minutes, before whisking in melted chocolate until smooth. Serve warm.

The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Reheat in a small saucepan over low heat or microwave, stirring often, until warm and smooth, 1 to 3 minutes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Notorious Video

I've been spending a lot of time creating music videos from the materials collected at the last two house concerts. This is the first one published on YouTube. Two more Notorious videos then a couple of Legacy will follow.

New diet is working!

Yesterday I renounced Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It just isn't rich enough. Beside, I find it a bit to sweet for my tastes. (I don't eat sweets you know.)

It's Häagen Das or nothing at all from now on.

My coach has recommended that I work on portion control. So the new diet will consist of controlling my portions at dinner. I'm going to take all that I want "the first time" and never go back for a second or third portion.

So far it is working wonderfully. I feel good, lighter and self confident again.

I intend to develop self discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Feet Across the Universe

From time to time at work I download beautiful images from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive. Check out this find, a short film about the inhabitants of earth.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

After a very busy and entertaining July (Notorious and Legacy) Sharon and I decided to jump all the way into to house concert pool and build a website.

I've moved all the pages from to the new site an left jump pages behind to teleport people to the new domain.

Please bookmark the site and tell you friends about it. Performers, room and board are part of the venue's offerings.

Note that we have a .org domain name because this whole operation is a charitable endeavor to promote music in our community.

Brine Shrimp Research

My last two years at San Francisco State University included working for Dr. Sarane Bowen. She was using brine shrimp to do genetics research. Sarane taught me that if you apply the techniques from one disciple to another disciple you often gain new incites. We were using mouse genetics techniques on Artemia (brine shrimp).

After my graduation she was kind enough to include me as an author on paper that reported our research findings. I have the original hard copy journal in my library. It is now also available in PDF format from the publisher, The Crustacean Society.

Ecological Isolation in Artemia: Population Differences in Tolerance of Anion Concentrations, by Sarane T. Bowen, Emil A. Fogarino, Kenneth N. Hitchner, Gayle L. Dana, Victor H. S. Chow, Martin R. Buoncristiani and Jaya R. Carl. Journal of Crustacean Biology, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Feb., 1985), pp. 106-129 (article consists of 24 pages)
Check out the abstract if you like. Then we can talk about the meaning of "species". And maybe I'll even tell you about the hopeful monster it was rumored we were searching for.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Matrix Party

A couple of years ago, 2005, Sharon and I hosted a Matrix party where we showed the entire Matrix.

This included the three feature length films, the Animatrix and footage from the video game. We/Sharon also provided Matrix theme food timed to the viewing experience.

Check out the Matrix webpage I composed for the party announcement.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Vacation 2008

It is 5:01 PM PST, my summer vacation just started. We are planning going to the session in Davis tonight, hiking Thursday morning, potluck session in Grass Valley Thursday night, Kungfu Panda IMAX early Friday morning followed by museums in Sacramento. Saturday the Qigong / Tai Chi class moves to the park down the street then back to Sactown for Argentine Tango class. At some point I want to clean the gutters.

The rest of the time I'll be working on making the CDs of both the Legacy and Notorious house concerts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


When I grill up a pack of sausage on the weekend they seem to shrink in the refrigerator. Sharon cuts them up and puts it in my oatmeal for breakfast so I don't really see the shriveled weenies.

I read this in an email today from a local BBQ restaurant, "you can run some cool water over the sausage to bring the temp down and help prevent shrinkage." We'll try it this weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Eye treatment changes

TheraTears is a product line that addresses my eye anomaly.
I have been washing my eye lids with baby shampoo for thirty years. Therapy has changed and we are now recommending using something like SteriLid to cleans and disinfect the lid.
For the next couple of weeks I do a daily 8 minute hot damp compress followed by eye lid massage and expression. Massage with SteriLid twice a day. Orally TheraTears twice a day. The plan is to clean up the oil production and get everything flowing. Once that is achieved the hot compress therapy three or four time a week for life.
It turns out the dry eyes is what causes the discomfort and blindness when driving. Got to ask the ophthalmologist about eye drops as first aid.
My new doctor (David Norcott, O.D.) is at the Auburn EyeCare Associates. Meibomitis is the name of the dis-ease of my lids, meibomian glands. The warm compresses are helping. When it gets really bad keratitis is also seen. We are working on opening up the gland ducts and getting the oil to flow naturally.


1) Sterilid use two times a day for five days. Continue with daily treatment.
2) Warm compress for eight to ten minutes followed by massage of the upper and lower lids (20 second massage).
3) Two capsules of TheraTears Omaga-3.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Free Enterprise

free enterprise I check out Free Enterprise (1998) from the library this weekend. We watched it a few years ago but I think I enjoyed it more today. If you watch more than 50 films a year put this romantic comedy on your NetFlix.

I use to be one of these guys before I got married. Robert has the same Pioneer system I have (but my screen is bigger and I do have a subwoofer ladies ;). The way they know and quote films is so jaya.

After you have seen the move you can watch the music video (spoiler) No Tears for Caesar. This site's copy of the video has a much better sound quality than the YouTube version.

Love Long And Party

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Honda Civic Hybrid - 2 months

I've been driving my new Civic for two months. Took her in for the first oil change today, 8022 miles (oil life @ 15%).

The average millage to date is 44 MPG. This is up from about 42 MPG when she was brand new. The current tank is running at 45 MPG. Why is it improving?

  1. She's getting broken in and runs easier?
  2. I am learning to drive in a manner that improves the millage.
  3. The motor oil is breaking down, getting thinner so she is running easier?
We'll see if the average MPG drops after this oil change.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Baumbach Wines

Sharon and I took a hike around town today. We stopped in to Depoe Bay for coffee and a toasted bagel. We window shopped and talked. It's nice to be retired.

We swung by Baumbach Winey on the way home to see/taste what they have to offer. Neal Baumbach is the wine maker and gave us a taste of what he has made. We choose the 2004 Charbono and 2007 Simillon. We'll share it with our friends at the next session.

We stopped and talked to several neighbors. Introduced ourselves and told them about our House Concerts in July. Every single person we talked to had some Celtic music interest/connection. :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

U.S.S. Scorpion story revelled

The USS Scorpion was s U.S. Navy nuclear submarine stationed in my home town of Norfolk. On Memorial Day 1968 she failed to return to port after a NATO tour in the Med.

Lost at sea.

Thirty years later her story has changed as the Cold War cooled, unrelated threads came together, old solders told their stories (that were classified TOP SECRET in their day) and the Internet provided a mechanism for dozens of individual to connect and share their knowledge so that the pieces of the puzzle can now be assembled.

Ed Offley's book Scorpion Down tells the full story. I just finished listening to the book tape this week. The perfect book to read after The Hunt for Red October.

Well researched, Offley is a journalist, over a 30 year period. The first few chapters are engaging and he sets you up by telling the story chronologically, you learn what about the ship, the events leading up to her disappearance from the official Navy documents and news paper article published in 1968.

Subsequent chapters lay out the background in more detail. The submariners culture is described and we learn how the Navy operated in the later part of the 20th century. I found the middle of the book boring but all the information needs to be in the record. Mr. Offley collected a lot of stuff and there are many threads that need to be understood before you can appreciate how well they fit together. They fit together, I don't think this is conspiracy theory stuff here. [20 years ago the Scorpion disappearance was a conspiracy theory. Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean that no one is out to get you.]

The final chapters are quit exciting. I couldn't believe the plot twists and turns that came to light decades after the incident.

Everything you know is wrong!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Phoenix Lander Arrives at Mars

Back in the late 1980's I worked on the space station Freedom on-board network software. We always wondered why NASA didn't produce an cool illustrations of what there were building. Hollywood was making movies that looked great and we got nothing about the real world of space. It seemed to me that they were not doing a very effective job of marketing the space program to the public.

Check out this animated illustration of the Phoenix Lander Arrives at Mars. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fast Food Lesser Guild and Higher Fiber

So your on the road and want to eat. Fast food is not what you should have but what you want and what you buy.

Here are some links to the health ratings to help you choose wisely.

This is the list of not unhealthy choices to consider.

Carl's Jr.
Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Diet Coke

Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich
Diet Coke

Burger King
Spicy Chicken Crisp Sandwich (no mayo)
Diet Coke

Jack in the Box
Chicken Fajita Pita OR Chicken Sandwich (no bacon)
Diet Coke

Taco Del Mar
2 fish tacos OR Almost Jumbo Burrito, any kind
Diet Coke

2 fish Tacos--- no beans or rice
Diet Coke

Tender Roast Sandwich or Toasted Wrap with Tender Roast Filet
Diet Coke

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Iron Man

Just saw the Iron Man film this afternoon.

I've never read any of the Marvel comics and knew nothing of the story. Didn't hinder my enjoyment of the film. Robert Downing Jr. was superb as the brilliant rich science geek playboy.

Put this on your movie list even if you only see a few movies a year in the theater. Not lame at all. Gwenyth Paltrow (Virginia "Pepper" Potts) is easy on the eyes and her character is quite competent and intelligent.

The Hunt for Red October

This week I listened to the 1984 unabridged book by Tom Clancy The Hunt for Red October, a great ride.

It has been years since I saw the film so I don't remember very much about it. If I recall correctly is takes a while for the film to reveal what the crew of the Red October are up to. In the book we know the motivations of captain Marko Ramius from the first page. The suspense is figuring out how he is going to do it and will he get away with it.

Very engaging book. I understand that a lot of the naval trade craft was removed in the abridged versions, I found it interesting and informative. If your a geek stay away from abridged copies.

I swear the voice the reader used for Ramius was Russian with a Scottish accent (Sean Connery played the role in the film).

Next we we'll watch the film.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Grilled Sausages with Onions

Cook's Illustrated picture This month's issue of Cook's Illustrated (No. 93) has a couple of articles on grilling. Since Sharon came home with 2.5 pounds, 11 links, of New York pork jalapeño sausage yesterday I decided to make the Gas-Grilled Sausages with Peppers and Onions this weekend.

Chicken Thighs Grilled chicken thighs To warm the grill up first I cooked up a batch of chicken thighs. Brine the chicken in a hand full of Morton's Kosher salt and half gallon of water, in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Rinse with tap water and trim the fat and loose skin. This reduces the flare ups and charred bits. Dry the chicken. Put on a low sodium rub if you like or just use cayenne and fresh black pepper (the salt is already in the chicken). On a hot grill cook skin side down until there are good grill marks, 2 minutes. Turn over and repeat. Reduce heat to medium and cook each side 5 to 8 minutes until done. One of the articles suggested covering the chicken with loose aluminum foil to cook until almost done after the initial searing. The finish on high heat 2 minutes per side adding BBQ sauce or glaze if you like that sort of thing.

Sausages and Onions Ready for the grill Start the onions in the microwave to get them partially cooked. In addition to the salt, black pepper and thyme I added a cap of hickory smoke. Put somewhat softened onions in a grill pan, cover with the raw sausage and quartered red bell peppers (we forgot the peppers today). Seal the disposable aluminum pan with aluminum foil and place on the grill, medium high, for 15 minutes (sausages turned pale when they cooked).Grilled sausages and caramelized onions

Grilled/browned the sausages and pepper with the pan pushed off to one side (still cooking the onions in their own juice and the rendered sausage fat). When the sausage is browned remove them and finish grilling the peppers. Cover the grill again and continue cooking the onions with an occasional stir until the liquid evaporates and the onions begin to brown, 5 to 10 additional minutes. It took me 35 minutes total on the grill.Dean checking the recipt

Friday, May 30, 2008

What is a book anymore?

Google has scanned in tons of books. There seems to be many pages available of the books. I don't know what is involved to see the complete book.

The Open Content Alliance has a lot of stuff. These are the people with the Wayback Machine. Their collection has a web search interface. In due time all the works of mankind will be archived here. In addition to scanned books there are also audio and video file in the library. I found Anton Chekhov, Madam Bovary and Don Quixote radio shows for download.

Microsoft is halting their project to make book available electronically.

What is this all about?

Where to find the library(s)? I find it interesting that it is easy to find the web articles about the library scanning project but the URLs for the content is never referenced in the articles.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lakeview Connector Trail

We hiked the east end of the Lakeview Connector Trial today. It is rated easy to moderate and we concur, no noticeable climbs and well maintained.

We parked at the trailhead, yes there is a big dip to bottom out the Mini! We hiked in as far as the Lake Clementine Access Trail.

The entire trail is lined with poison oak so watch your step and clean up properly upon arrival home. It's also very popular with bike riders. We had to stand off the trail often to let them ride by.

About 3/4 of a mile in there is a micro-climate change that comes with a panorama view.

We stopped and watched three turkey vultures with bald red heads that were sitting in a tree .

Click here to look at the satellite view of the area. The trail guide PDF is available as well, Lakeview Connector Trial.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Look, you can't believe your ears

All of our senses work in concert to enable the brain and intellect to experience the world. One of my pet peeves is seeing a performer make a face communicating their dissatisfaction with their performance. I thought it was just fine but their self disgust spoils it for me.
Hey man, acknowledging a sour note doesn't excuse it it makes it louder. Sorry, I hope you don't mined my mispelings.

The Scientific American Podcast 60-Second Psych, May 12th was about a study of the McGurk effect first published in Nature, 1976.

The McGurk effect is demonstrate with the use of this video clip. Please view the clip now before reading the rest of this entry.

What did you hear him say?

Now close your eyes and listen to the clip again.

What did he actually say?

Everything you know is wrong.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


SmartAC Last month we bought a hybrid car, today we signed up for the PG&E SmartAC Program.

When it gets hot causing electricity demand to spike PG&E may send a radio signal to our air conditioning unit and tell it to operate in SmartAC mode, cooling half the normal time. Most days we will not notice the energy saving mode but in the event that we just have to have more power there is a website to override SmartAC for the day.

The plan is to use the technology on weekdays before 6 p.m. for a maximum of six hours a day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ludlum's Covert-ONE

I'm listing to The Paris Option, one of the Robert Ludlum Covert-ONE books. Again, Dr. Smith works with his childhood friend Marty to solve mysterys but his Aspergers Syndrome complicates things.

Last year I listened to The Hades Factor and thoroughly enjoyed it. In researching this blog entry I see that not everyone loved the books as it was a derivative of Tom Clancy's Op-Center series. Can you say, "more of a good thing?"

I am looking forward to the other Covert-ONE books. They do more to shorten my commute then most books and podcasts.

Covert-One series Written by other authors, supposedly based on unpublished material by Robert Ludlum.

The Hades Factor (by Gayle Lynds) (2000), The Cassandra Compact (by Phillip Shelby) (2001), The Paris Option (by Gayle Lynds) (2002), The Altman Code (by Gayle Lynds) (2003), The Lazarus Vendetta (by Patrick Larkin) (2004), The Moscow Vector (by Patrick Larkin) (2005), The Arctic Event (by James H. Cobb) (2007)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

AM and PM

Also, there are at least two acceptable ways to write a.m. and p.m., which are abbreviations for ante meridiem and post meridiem. Ante meridiem is Latin for "before noon" and post meridiem is Latin for "after noon." Note that it is meridieM, with an m, not meridiaN, with an n.

You can write a.m. and p.m. as lowercase letters with periods after them or as small capitals without periods. Either way, there should be a space between the time and the a.m. or p.m. that follows. Although small capitals used to be preferred, it's now more common to see lowercase letters followed by periods (a.m. and p.m.). I suspect this is because it’s so hard to make small caps on a computer.

This is quoted from my favorite podcast, Grammar Girl.

Monday, May 5, 2008

tempted to buy some unnecessary thing

...when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money. -------------------

The Whistle

by Benjamin Franklin, 1779

I AM charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the mean time, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles. For to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My, brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, He pays indeed, said I, too much for his whistle.

If I knew a miser, who gave up every, kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, said I, you pay too much for your whistle.

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken man, said I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, Alas! say I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.

When I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an ill- natured brute of a husband, What a pity, say I, that she should pay so much for a whistle.

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.

Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.

The End

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

PCR Song

Bio-Rad Laboratories, my employer, produced a video to launch a new instrument back in January. Check out this moving video only a molecular biologist could love.

Kary Mullis, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1993, invented the basic method of performing polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR amplifies DNA without the need for living organism. The technique is used for cloning genes, DNA finger printing, paternity testing, et cetera.

There is even a "making of" video.

How do you say that in Irish Gaelic?

There is a lovely plaque that has a Gaelic phrase on it. The sentiment is "There's No Place Like Home", although the litteral translation means "There's no fire like your own fire"...

Nil Aon Tintéan Mar Do Tintéan Fein

Here is a 17 page booklet that will help you figure out how to pronounce the and many other quaint phrases.

Learn Irish vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation with TeachMe! Irish software. If you have used this or have any recommendation please leave a comment.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Honda Civic Hybrid 2008

My jury duty on Monday consisted of being available in the afternoon for selection in the shaken baby case. When they said "not today, check back this evening" I took the opportunity to do down and buy a new car.

This is a picture of my 2008 Civic Hybrid in galaxy gray metallic with ivory interior (no elephants were harmed in the manufacture of the interior.)

Next on my todo list is to put on the "I'd rather be doing Danzan Ryu Jujitsu" licence plate frame. I also need to make the decision on the vanity plate and place the order.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

“Crap, that’s history, dude!”

Danica Patrick won her first IndyCar race in Japan.
“I looked like a chick, like a baby woman!” Patrick, 26, laughed in a phone interview with USA TODAY after returning to the United States.

She won’t apologize for the tears.

“I didn’t expect to get emotional, but that’s what was lying underneath and how much blood, sweat, and tears has gone into getting that first win out of the way,” she said. “I was embarrassed with all the photographers there and took the helmet off to cover my face. Then I said, ‘Screw it, this is how I feel, and this is what sports are all about.’

“Crap, that’s history, dude!”

Danica Patrick gives self, IRL a big boost with historic win

Friday, April 18, 2008

How to save your skin


Hi Ceallaigh,

I can't account for the strange localized loose spot in the middle of the drum except to suppose that before the lanolin was put on, that part was already the most supple from natural grease from your hand and the lanolin just pushed it over the edge.

However, whatever the cause I suggest you put some warm water in your bath and immerse your drum head in it for an hour or two, agitating the surface of the skin occasionally to get rid of any treatment that might have over conditioned it. You must then remove it, towel it dry and allow it to dry naturally (not over a radiator). It may take a few days to dry completely and you will probably find that it is now too tight and you have to start again with any treatment (lanolin or hoof oil or whatever) but this method has rescued a couple of my drums in the past.

Alan Ellicott N Wales UK

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blu-ray means I win a PS3

The Blu-ray format has won the high definition video competition. This means that the Sony PlayStation 3 with its Blu-Ray player is the component of choice.

Here is my wish list (use this links to order, I get a kick back):

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hands Only CPR

Yesterday I recertified in CPR and AED as part of the medical emergency response team (MERT) at work. Among other things we discussed and practiced the new "Hands Only CPR" that the American Heart Association published a few weeks ago.

Bottom line, they are dead so you can't hurt them but there's still a chance that chest compressions done immediately will give the paramedics an opportunity to save their life.

I wonder why I keep calling it "no hands CPR"?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A lion is not a house cat

These guys reared this lion from a baby in England but the authorities would not allow them to keep it once it reached maturity. They were forced to give it up. :(

They took it to Africa and placed it in a wildlife sanctuary to live free and die. About a year later they went to see their old pet. They were told she would not remember them and that approaching it would be dangerous.

Choosing not to heed the warning the brothers trekked into the preserve to find their now fully grown adult lion. This amateur film captured the "reunion". Even though there is no sound, poor picture quality and shot by someone with no camera experience, the intensity of the encounter is still apparent.

You will not find this on YouTube, so if you're not up to it don't play this movie.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Importing Old VHS Tapes Using a DV Camcorder

If you own a digital camcorder, but still have some older VHS (or other format) tapes, you can bring that footage into iMovie to edit or even just to store digitally. Connect your VCR to your camcorder and record the contents of the VHS tape to the DV tape. Then, you can import your footage into iMovie normally. (Or, use an analog-to-digital converter between the VCR and your Mac.)

Need to find the old tapes and borrow a digital camcorder one of these days.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vanity vanity thy name is jaya

The web has changed the way people shop. The way we shop now is to daydream on the internet and imagine what it would be like. You can customize a new car and design the government issued automobile license plate. Here are the vanity plates that I am considering (all are currently available in California). Please comment with your opinions and recommendation for my new Honda Civic.

Please comment with your opinions and recommendations.