Monday, March 28, 2005

Tamiya REPSOL Honda RC211V

Originally uploaded by IvyMike.
Yet another model from 2003.

I ordered this model on a whim; it was my second Tamiya kit, and the first one where I did any painting at all. (And I want to point out that I painted the orange and blue areas by hand, with a brush, and without any sanding.)

Originally uploaded by IvyMike.

I was just as pleased as Punch with my results, even though Tamiya should probably get most of the credit.

Hanging in a chow line: Good Times!

From an idea I had a while ago:
I just went to the post office; it's a Saturday, and it's noon, and I thought it would be really crowded. It was nearly empty. (In fact, they have installed a new "self-shipping" ATM-style thing that I was going to use, but there was a line for it. There was not a line to talk to a human at the normal window. Rise of the machines, I guess.)

In any case, I want an application that I call "
Good Times". It lets you enter an activity ("going to the post office"), a time and a date, optional weather conditions. It then lets you rate, on a scale of 1 to 5, how crowded the activity was. After you do this a few times, it starts to suggest "Good times" to you: "laundry is usually smooth sailing on Saturdays at 2pm" and also bad times: "Post office is almost always crowded between 12 and 2"

My brother replied, "Your Good Times is a lot more useful if a lot of people in your area did it, and all synchronized up to the same database." We saw two obvious problems with this "Social Good Times": if it works too well, the "Good Times" might no longer be any good, and the whole system would need to do something to prevent bogus data entry.

He also pointed out that the revenue stream for "Social Good Times" comes from selling the demographic information that it's collecting. ("single men age 35-50 like to shop at your store on Sunday evenings").

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Recipe idea: Chocolate Chip Potato Chip Cookies

I heard an interesting idea for a recipe today: Chocolate Chip Potato Chip Cookies. The idea is to take the Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and replace the nuts with an equivalent amount of Ruffles potato chips. It would probably be a good idea to add less salt, too.

I'll try this next weekend. I'm hoping it turns out better than the Peanut Butter and Bacon Sandwich. (Don't get me wrong: the PB&B wasn't terrible. But it wasn't anything special, either.)

Tamiya Subaru Impreza WRC '99

Subaru Impreza WRC '99
Originally uploaded by IvyMike.
Just testing Flickr + Blogger photo posting. This is a 1:24 scale Tamiya "Subaru Impreza WRC '99" kit that I assembled late in 2003.

This is the first model I did any serious spray-painting on; I highly recommend the "Micro-Mesh Craft Kit for Model Makers and Hobbyists" from Micro-Surface. It includes a variety of grades of sanding pads, all the way up to 12000 grit, which I used to resurface the plastic windshield to optical clarity.

"Pictures of Pennies"

Pennies as a structural building block: Pictures of Pennies

Friday, March 25, 2005

Grilling, part 1: Use charcoal.

About a year ago, I convinced my friends Anthony and Lidia that they needed to buy a grill. But as a good friend, I wouldn't let them buy just any grill: I maintained that they absolutely must buy a charcoal grill.

Why not propane (C3H3) or natural gas (mostly methane, CH4)? They're convenient, but in my opinion, they result in inferior results. The combustion of propane and natural gas is very, very wet. The equation for the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels in air is surprisingly complicated, but here are VERY rough formulas for the combustion of natural gas and propane.

CH4 + 2O2 = 2H20 + CO2 (and a small amount of CO and H2)
C3H8 + 5O2 = 4H20 + 3CO2 (and a small amount of CO and H2)

See the large number of water molecules over there on the right? One pound of methane burning results in 2.25 pounds of water; one pound of propane results in 1.64 pounds of water.
All that water makes it difficult to get a really nice, crispy exterior on your food.

Still don't believe it? If you want to see this in action, boil a giant pot of cool water on a gas stove; notice the condensation that forms on the bottom of the pot when the water is still cool. You'll also have difficulty getting food really crisp in a gas oven. (The ideal stove has gas burners and an electric oven.)

The combustion of charcoal is even harder to characterize, since the chemical composition of charcoal depends on the particular type wood and the temperature and atmosphere it was burned in. The web page I linked to uses a simplified "C7H4O" as the formula for charcoal; I'm going with that. The important feature of charcoal is that the carbon-to-hydrogen ratio is much better, which results in a lot less water forming during combustion:

C7H4O + 8O2 = 2H2O + 7CO2 (and some CO and H2)

Much better: each pound of charcoal results in only 0.35 pounds of water. That's more like it.

If you want the best results from your grill, with the best crisping action, choose charcoal.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

CSI, Elegia, MORE

I was watching tonight's CSI episode (the Wil Wheaton one), and about halfway through, there was a montage of the CSIs doing labwork. The background music for the montage was a haunting instrumental song that I knew...from somewhere. Unfortunately, I couldn't place it, and without any lyrics, I didn't know how to use google to find the song. There are a few CSI Music forums on the net, but none have caught up to the current episode.

I don't do this often, but I decided this was worth it: I went into a jedi-like trance. When I emerged, I had the answer. The song was from an animated short I had watched about a year ago, called "MORE". The move led me to the song, which is "Elegia" by New Order. As it turns out, it was also in the movie Pretty In Pink, although it's not on the soundtrack.

Watch the short and listen to the song for yourself.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Insane RC Helicopter Videos

Videos of Alan Szabo Jr. making an RC helicopter break every law of physics. At least, that's how it looks to me. Upside-down flight, backflips, frontflips, rolls, stalls, things I don't even have words for.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The cleanliness of my apartment is a frail thing

I was sick a week ago, and this weekend, I was gone all day Saturday. Somehow the consequence of those two events is that my apartment is a frenzy of clutter.

And while I fully intend to clean up tomorrow night after work, experience shows that the best I can hope for is steady-state during the week.