Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Minor addition to last post...

Trying to remember how to draw better... hence the lack of exciting craft posts. (The weather is too nice to code- that's a winter sport) Am super psyched for the Wacom Inkling pen...

I forgot! I had taken pictures at the start of the month of my one cucumber and never posted them... I cut up and ate a portion (though sadly not the whole thing) of this poor little cucumber after it showed no sign of change for several days... There was almost a seed inside it... almost... very tough little bugger... it did *not* give me a tummy ache, luckly

Also, not everything from my garden was a complete failure. The peas did quite fine and the basil was actually used several times in cooking.

I would also like to note that we are now in the awesome period of San Francisco. Remember- if you ever wish to visit, only do so in the spring or fall. This last weekend was icky, but during the week the days have been absolutely fabulous. Here's the Adam lounging on our sweet deck chair. Note the awesome vintage parasal he's using to protect himself from the sun- his mother got that for me last Christmas- haven't had a chance to use it yet, but will find one soon!

Monday, September 26, 2011

General bland update

Too many projects all plodding along at the same time, with nothing finishing... Also, distracted with work and life and travel. All good things.

In the good news, progress was made at last weekend's very pleasant craft day. Settlers of Catan quilt base is finished binding. Most the hex titles are done. Now for the tedious task for snap sewing... the results so far are very promising!

Played Starcraft 2 this last weekend. Placed into Gold league with Vince and Adam, which is pleasing. Instantly turned around and started making a zergling plush... having never finished the hydralisk one of course. Am taking good photo-documentation notes however, and making progress. Am about... halfway done? Am "skinning" it currently... will post pictures next week. Main take away from that project though: Dude! Coins make perfect weights!!

I was hoping to finish it in one weekend, but was distracted by Adam and his continuing quest to make our front room awesome. Previous weekends it was shuffling around furniture and rotating shelves. This weekend it was hooking up the record player and sound system.

Was also distracted by going to see the movie Drive. A touch too graphically violent for my tastes. Adam and I both agreed we couldn't quite tell... what the director was trying to say with the film. Why was it made? The first half was pretty great though. No complaints about anything (acting, dialog, cinematography, music)... just... why? Best thing from it though? The soundtrack! Purchased from Amazon for $8, which seems very reasonable. Suggested tracks : Nightcall, Tick of the Clock, Wrong Floor, and After the Chase.

In closing, sad, news... the garden experiment is coming to an end. Lessons have been learned. Notes have been taken. I haven't given up entirely- there's still the catnip and the plants in the front room, and a couple tomatoe plans outside. I hope to put out some snow peas, but that's probably it. Next year- no lettuce! More pruning! More climbing! Watering.... still confuses me. To wrap up the garden experiment, may I present the tiny rewards I have reaped...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Warrior Dash : 2011

There is this thing called The Warrior Dash. It's this event that travels around the nation- part obstacle corse, part race, part party. This year my mother, her friend, a friend of her friend, and I all "ran" it. They ran, I sadly wound up walking most of it. I highly recommend it. [registration for this year's Northern California event is still open as of this blog post!]


It's not unique and I can't actually claim that any of the obstacles were overly hard. It was a tough running course (very hilly) but that depends very much on your site. Despite the publicity photos, there seemed to be a lot of "normal" people there (as opposed to the ripped abs and hotties pictured). This made me happy and is a major factor in my encouragement for others to attend. It's as hard as you want it to be. No one is judging you, and everyone there had a great attitude- runners and staff alike.

Awesome Man
Anything you wear is fine, be it simple running cloths, a half-assed costume, or all out. I found myself having a particularly splended time because I chose to run in a nice dress. My mother jokingly suggested "Mad Women" as a theme and I distorted that into "I want to dress like Betty Drapper!". Recieved several complements while running and it turns out the dress was semi practical-- not nearly as much though as the gloves. Biking gloves are the secret sause, let me tell you.

If you go to the site, it'll tell you all the obstacles. My summary of only a couple in short is:

  • Climbing over beat-up cars is exhilarating. I wish there had been rows and rows more.
  • The spring-boards were perfectly safe but *felt* thrilling and dangerous. I highly approve. I got giddy just thinking about how video-game like it felt to jump around on them.
  • The deadman's drop was dangerous. I did not like this (and only this) obstacle. I didn't need to see the person with the broken ankle to know it was a bad idea. Dropping isn't something you can do carefully, it was hard to "scale" this obstacle's challenge, which was bad.
  • The over-hurtle walls and under-barbwire segments was simple but very pleasing.
  • For some reason my mother was most challenged by the firemans' poles (a bit too far out for her to easily grab). They phased me not a bit, which is interesting. Everyone has their special weakness... what will yours be??

  • In the end, we all had a great time. Next year my mother and I want to go back with my sisters. I recommend it. It's a bit pricey (~$65?), but it was a well run event and only once a year. Definately go early (10:30 wave) on the first day though.

    More photos of the event at my Flickr site.


    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Coding... just not recreationally...

    Things at work have been pretty fun lately. Normally our client is in Flash but we're poking at some web stuff. And by we, I mean me.

    Mostly I've been trying to work out some new visuals to display energy savings information. So graphs. The product people come up with the actual design ideas, but I've got to make the picture into an interactive page. I was pointed towards the awesome D3 graphing library by Adam but it's not compatible with IE before version 9, which we can't accept. Too bad, because D3 looks great.

    Instead I've been poking at the Raphaël graphics library. It's really easy to work in and I recommend looking at it. The internet has come a long, long way since I last poked at it back in high school.

    The neatest thing of it all is poking at graphics. Like, graphic stuff independent of whatever language you're in. In one of the rare cases of me actually finding something I don't know the name of, I started looking into some circle packing algorithms. While there is a JavaScript libray called moocirclepack, I think I'll pre-compute the packing on the server if we decide to use the visual.

    Am currently looking into fitting a nice curve to some data points, which has me reading up on Bézier curves. The program people just started talking to a User Experience? Interaction? contractor today so hopefully they'll have even more interesting requests for me to implement.

    Over dinner tonight, both Adam and I agreed Javascript is a pretty sweet language. It's the nicest untyped one I've experienced so far... it's so damn easy to work in!

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Portal 2 : Frankenturret replica round 3 (4?)

    Pre-mature posting, yes, but I wanted to get something out this week at least...

    May I present the (almost) finished round 3 of the Portal 2 Frankenturret! (It's more done then it looks- I have all the corners and edging cast and ready to go)

    Despite one minor hiccup, I'm extremely happier with this one. Itterating on a project can lead to better results! Who knew!

    Some quick facts about this puppy (a more in-depth post when I finish it off):
  • Better / newer cast pieces. Remember to sand. And sand some more. At all stages. And then dremel the sucker after you cast it. And then sand some more.
  • That's a sawed off tick-tack case for the body there. Always knew those suckers would be useful!!
  • The neck and leg joints/extensions are parts from my forever-useful ripped up type-writer (it was dead when I got it! and electric! and I would never think of harming my working non-electric one). That sucker is just a parts heaven. Not only is the metal/pivots from there, the springs at the end of everything are from there too.
  • Hot glue will look tacky. Doesn't matter how hard you try to be neat about it. Tacky. But what else can I use!?!
  • Tool dip & solder & thought-out electronics are not tacky. Yeah.

    Working on it Monday was really invigorating. Makes me want to do a couple more projects in the same vein. There's just something about it... I think it's a mix of how wonderful Portal 2 is as a game and how simple the designs are. They do a fantastic job of humanizing these little robots. Or, at least... animalizing them? There was a YouTube comment that- dare I confess- I liked which pointed out that the Frankenturret is basically like a pet hermit crab.

    It's not just me who's head-over-heals for these puppies... There are a number of (more) awesome projects out there then just mine. A couple links :
  • The much linked to papercraft one. I've not given it a go yet (paper's not really my medium) but I will at some point...
  • Not all replicas need to be very detailed to still be cute. I'm thinking of making a plush version based on this guy's clay model (already received approval to do so)
  • The number of people who humanize the turrets in fan art is kinda' surprising. Also, the fan art in general can be kinda' awesome.
  • This little future over-lord is pretty sweet, even if he is the original turret model
  • One could even adopt a frankenturret style of fashion

  • In closing, here's a video of me fidgeting with the work so far... I don't think you realize how fun flicking those little spring-legs is!
  • Saturday, September 3, 2011


    I went to Las Vegas with Adam! It was my first trip there and I enjoyed it very much. It was very facinating but I don't think I've a strong desire or urge to go back soon. The artificialness of it all is the initial delight and final detraction.

    Our stay was at the Wynn. We had a lovely room with a lovely view. The picture has been misplaced... The casino below was also one of my favorites.


    For the record, I only played slots. I put in a total of $11 and got out a total of $23 (all from a single win). Adam played Black Jack and while he came out down overall, he made it back by volentering to be bumped on our return Southwest flight.

    The first night we went to see Ka. It was fantastic, but that doesn't mean much because I'm a Cirque de Soleil major fan. It appeared less athletic then other shows I've seen, but it made it up with amazing set. Not just the rotating platform, which was boggling, but the whole arena and all props were great.

    The Spanish Knight

    The second night Adam caved to my irrational wishes to go see the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur hotel/casino. We were seated in the "Spain" section which was thankfully populated by a handful of other way-to-old-for-this individuals. Our knight was a friendly individual who welcomed our over-enthusiastic cheering.

    While rediculously over-priced, the food throught the trip was very enjoyable. One of the highlights was the red velvet pancakes on the last day. They had cream cheese frosting! Totally unhealthy, like eating cake, no doubt about it. Fun.


    In the end, it was fun. Too expensive though, swamped with people, and very artificial. It was also insanely hot, which was so startling new it wasn't even bad. Great time, only need one go at it though. Am looking forward to some future Hawaii date. That's more my speed.

    [* not taken in Hawaii. Random bird just outside Treasure Island casino]