October 2006

6 Oct 2006 [link to here]
triangle man

Back in June, I hung out for a while with my friend Olivier, who also does devil stick. One day we went to the park with Olivier's video camera and recorded some of our favorite tricks with both devil sticks and my devil's triangle. Olivier edited clips together, and Steve noodled around on the piano for us. Many tweaks later, our video is available for public viewing. Enjoy!

7 Oct 2006 [link to here]

I recently had the rare pleasure of introducing some friends of mine to each other. I didn't get to witness it first-hand, but instead got to read about their fun times together in their three illustrated blogs. Does anyone else want to visit friends of mine? I've got 'em all over, so don't be shy.

9 Oct 2006 [link to here]
jack of hearts

About a month ago, the tape player in my car stopped working. It worked for 12 years, so I can't be too upset, but its failure presents a problem for me since I can't stand most of what's played on the radio.

It's been years since I listened to a tape, and a headphone-jack-to-cassette adapter took up permanent residence in my car's tape deck long ago. Taken as a whole, the player and adapter is a silly device. It conducts an electrical signal from the contacts in my music player's headphone jack to some wires leading to the amplifier, but along the way it gets turned into two fluctuating magnetic fields, then back into current on wires. Meanwhile, lots of little gears, wheels, and belts turn without any real purpose.

It's one of these gears that broke. It's really not necessary, but the tape player has an inflexible world view and I couldn't convince it to soldier on without that gear.

So I did what any self respecting hacker would do. I tore out the tape player and replaced it with some wire and a switch. Now my car plugs directly into a headphone jack.

15 Oct 2006 [link to here]
political license

I think we should treat legislators like drivers. If I violate the driving laws, I get points, and if I get too many, I lose my license. I think if a law gets struck down by the courts as being unconstitutional, all the legislators who voted for it should get a point. If someone gets too many points, they get booted out and be prohibited from holding public office again.

It takes time and money to get rid of the broken laws, and in the meantime, a lot of damage can be done, so I don't think it's asking so much to demand that lawmakers not repeatedly stick us with laws that fail this basic test. They're supposed to be professionals, and we've entrusted them with a tremendous amount of power. If they massively screw up several times in this easy to measure way, they've demonstrated incompetence and should be fired.

It's not enough just to let them be accountable to voters, because they don't care about most voters, only the ones in their district. Voters of a single region can keep electing someone who passes illegal laws that are good for them and bad for everyone else. It would be nice if checks and balances also came with some accountability.

26 Oct 2006 [link to here]
four wheels

It occurred to me that I have one vehicle with four wheels, two with two wheels and four with one wheel. Maybe I should buy a roller skate.

28 Oct 2006 [link to here]
fun with lasers

Back when I said that globalls were the coolest thing ever, I was lying. They were the coolest thing ever for about 24 hours, until my green laser pointer arrived, but I thought they deserved some time in their own limelight.

Meanwhile, the laser pointer has survived more than two months as the coolest thing ever. Let no one tell you a laser isn't a toy. It's so much brighter than red laser pointers that it fulfills all the promises they failed to deliver. I can see the dot on the ground at noon in the desert, I can see the beam in water and in air, and usually I can illuminate anything I can see.

Many seemingly ordinary objects turn out to have fascinating reflective or refractive properties. The laser itself is interesting, but it's also a magic wand that casts Reveal Interestingness on all sorts of other things around me.

The most bizarre effect I've seen is with a piece of rose quartz. As long as I hold the laser and quartz still, the quartz appears to dissolve into static, like a TV screen with no signal (only green), and it doesn't look three-dimensional anymore. As soon as I turn the crystal or move the laser, the features of the crystal jump back into focus and it just looks like an internally illuminated rock, pretty, but ordinary. When I stop moving them, the features all get washed away in the static again. I have vague theories, but I don't really know what's going on.