Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Construction Equipment Fantasy Camp" is a reality

[...] an enterprising construction contractor in Germany has come up with a money-making scheme for putting his idle machinery to use on weekends - by turning his bulldozer lot into a theme park where boys of all ages can come and make that childhood dream come true.

I swear I had this idea years ago. I'm putting the word out to my German-speaking contacts (Kendra, that means you) to find out any information they can on this, or maybe an official website.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


If you look back in my blog, you can see photos of my broken computer a few weeks ago. After a lengthy test of my nearly non-existent patience, everything is back and appears to be in working order.

I watched the documentary "Genghis Blues" a few months ago, during which I wrote a note to myself to remember the name "Subutai". The movie described him as a military genius who was Genghis Khan's most trusted general. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the name, but when the installer asked me for the name of the new computer, I knew I had my answer.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


We gave my father a Garmin Forerunner 201 as a gift. He mowed the lawn while wearing it. Posted by Hello

From the satellite map, it looks like he mowed the roof, but he assures me he did not.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Learn to swim.

Picture of the recent california earthquake cluster. Posted by Hello To this non-native Californian, it seems like we've had quite a few earthquakes recently, although the USGS tells me it's nothing to worry about.

When an earthquake hits, I usually load the site and bounce on "reload page" for the minute or two it takes before the site updates. I think the website could probably generate earthquake maps without a single seismograph just by correlating a spike of incoming browser ip addresses to geographic location and compensating for population density and time of day. (A small quake in a large town in the middle of the afternoon might generate more hits than a larger quake out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.)

Now that I think about it, I guess what I'm suggesting is somewhat similar to "Community Internet Intensity Maps" (generated from data volunteered by website visitors); still, it would be interesting to analyze the website traffic logs after a significant quake. Maybe I can request the logs under the FOIA.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Faith in chaos

Last week, Slashdot posted an article about math on The Simpsons and Futurama. A user comment linked to this pdf document containing a copy of the fax from the Simpsons writers asking for the 40,000th digit of Pi from NASA (page 4), which I thought was pretty cool.

That same pdf document also mentioned the Chudnovsky method for computing Pi. I remember reading this article about the Chudnovsky brothers in my dentist's office in 1992. The article describes the brothers as a pair of modern day mad scientists, computing digits of Pi on a homebrew supercomputer in their apartment. (The brothers must have partially inspired the character Max Cohen in the movie "Pi").

What have the Chudnovsky brothers been doing since 1992? The New Yorker has the scoop: they helped create an thread-level digital photograph of The Unicorn Tapestries. There were over 200 CDs of raw data, and the threads twisted and moved as the individual sections were photographed, making stitching the photos together a difficult task. (The article mentions Albrecht Durer'’s engraving “Melencolia I”, which I thought was cool enough for a link.)

According to the article, the brothers are now working with IBM on a supercomputer codenamed "C64." I can't seem to find any information on the C64 online, although that's because I gave up trying to sort out the "Commodore 64 emulator for IBM Compatable computer" bogus hits.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Agony and defeat: My new computer.

Closeup of the Zalman CPU heatsink.
Originally uploaded by IvyMike.
I decided to build a new computer. It looks cool, and I have photos to prove it.

But the computer does not work. I spent most of Saturday at a friend's house, testing components and swapping things in and out. We concluded that the problem is a bad motherboard.

I may be in a bad mood for a while.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Sleater-Kinney's new album has a song on it called "Jumpers" that's almost certainly was inspired by an article of the same name in The New Yorker. The article by Tad Friend is subtitled, "The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge", and it chronicles the history of Golden Gate Bridge suicides in riveting detail.

Friend asks the question, "why no suicide barrier?"; it turns out that polls show most people are against a barrier. He examines several possible reasons for this, and maybe even hints at what I think is the real answer, but never really states it: People don't want a suicide barrier because somewhere in the back of their mind, they don't want to lose that option.

Update: Maybe that's too bold of a statement, and it probably needs more explanation unless I want it misinterpreted. First of all, if you haven't read the article, the author summarizes several of the commonly given objections to a barrier (ugly, expensive, not useful) but gives evidence that dismisses all of those reasons. I'm left feeling there's another reason.

What I'm suggesting is: If you had a hypothetical condition that was fatal, and resulted in increasing agony until you finally and brutally passed away, would you choose to kill yourself? Even people who respond "no" still want think of this as a choice that they would make, not as something that would be forced upon them.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sleater-Kinney at the Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood, CA

S-K, Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood, CA
Originally uploaded by IvyMike.
Rock! I said it before, and I'll say it again:Sleater-Kinney is the best rock-and-roll band out there today, bar none.

I wish I could wax poetic about the show here, but I don't have the music-critic mojo to do it justice. But here's a review of Sleater-Kinney's latest album that I like. Maybe you could pretend I wrote that article.

Cover song spoiler. Hells yeah.