The Big Think

November 23, 2005

Router 2.0

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 1:59 am

I may have busted my woodworking router tonight. I have a Dewalt 621 router in my router table. It was working fine the last time I used it (sometime last May before the summer heat hit). I went to use it tonight and it started acting really weird.

It started normally when I hit the router table’s ON switch, but as soon as I put it under load it shut down. I was using a sprial upcut bit to make a test groove in a piece of QS oak. I was taking a 3/8″ deep cut. I’ve taken this big of a cut before and the router always behaves okay. I backed off the depth and took only a 1/8″ or so cut. Same thing. Whenever I put the router under anything but the lightest load it shuts down. Weird.

If I reach under the table and jiggle the finger switch (with the table’s switch still ON), the router will spring to life again. I’m going to have to take the router apart, blow out the dust, and look at the switch. I might have to replace the switch altogether. If this doesn’t work I might be looking at another router. I like this one, but I really like my current router and would rather spend the money elsewhere (or not spend it at all, actually). Bummer.

A Bit of the Bard

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:45 am

Words to stir (sorry, can’t help it, it’s that soundtrack at work on me):

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Old Wineskins

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 1:37 am

According to this article a 340-year-old oak has been auctioned off for 37,700 Euros to a Bordeaux cooper (wine-barrel-maker). The wood is specially sought after by winemakers for the particular character and flavor they hope it will impart to the wine. As far as I know, the barrels can be reused, so as sad as it makes me to see a big tree like this felled (ironic considering that woodworking is a hobby), I’m glad that at least it will be appreciated and well used.

Salud, Treebeard.

Henry V

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 1:24 am

Currently listening to the soundtrack from Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V.

A Personal Timeout

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:58 am

Okay, here’s my idea. Each one of us should be able to have, consequence-free, 10 all-nighters per year. No next day sleepiness, no sick feelings, and no caffeine required.

There just so bloody much to read and learn and do that it makes me crazy sometimes that I have to sleep. Just ten times per year I’d like to be able to go 36 hours straight without this body needing to go unconscious. How inefficient!


Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 12:39 am

I haven’t ever used an RSS feed reader. Well, I did use one but only until the 30 day free status wore off, but because I’m cheap and I’m used to “open all in tabs”, I haven’t gone the RSS route. Thanks to Giles and Mark linking to free OS X software I discovered Vienna tonight. Wowsers. This is a seriously cool program. My only question is why some rss feeds (like Luxist) come through with links intact, but others (thebigthink, giles’ site, mark’s site) all loose any urls associated with links. In other words, if I say check out this link HERE, Vienna won’t see that HERE is a legitimate link, and will treat it like any other word. For some pages the links come across fine.

Another problem is that posts from thebigthink come across as summaries, while other web pages have the full posts and pictures. Is this something that needs to be changed at the RSS originating site?

Anyone know why?

Robert on the Move

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:04 am

Dangit, Robert and family are going to up and move away before we have a chance to see them. Have a good move, Durb. We’ll be up to see you sometime. You do have space, don’t you? :()

November 22, 2005

Star Finding

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 11:51 pm

Tonight Erin and I used the cool program Stellarium (thanks Giles!) to go star hunting. She took a few things out to the trash can and made the comment that she could see Orion and what she thought was Mars, so I fired up the program and we went out to the driveway. Now, we’re in light polluted suburbia, and there’s a streetlamp right across the street, but we did pick out several stars, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and a few Messier objects. It was really neat to look at the Powerbook’s screen, find a star, and then look at the sky and locate it. Then click on the star on and find out stuff about it. (distance, name, constellation, etc). Makes me want to find somewhere dark and go star hunting.

Space Cadet

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:06 am

This article just begs me to ask the question: are some people really dumb enough to fall for this, or just reality TV watchers/participants?

November 21, 2005

Shop Time!

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 11:52 pm

Oh yeah, shop day. Well, to each their own odd hobby.

Today I spent a few hours going through the 20bf of quartersawn red oak for Erin’s piano music bookshelf. I took about 45 minutes to plane the stuff down from 4/4″ to 3/4″. And yes, in woodworking wood is measured in “four quarters, five quarters” etc, and not “inch and three quarters”. Don’t ask me why. Must be some code to keep the uninitiated in the dark and make all the Tool Owning Elite feel special. Well, it works. 🙂

After everything was planed I laid the four pieces (each 10 feet by 8 inches) out and chalked in the rough outlines of each of the final pieces of the bookcase. On this project I’m allowing myself the luxury of not cutting the expensive wood efficiently. Instead, I’m laying the cuts out to take maximum advantage of the beautiful grain and rays of this most beautiful wood. It means more waste, but it also means that every piece will have perfect grain.

In making my board foot calculations, I tried to include 20% for wastage. Unfortunately, the one big piece that I had decided to use for the top has some grain imperfections on one end. I could use it, but the less-than-perfect grain would haunt me. So I’m going to save this $33 board for something else and go back to the lumberyard. It’s not really a $33 mistake since I’m going to eventually use it, but it’s a bit of a pain. Taught me to be more careful when I look for the good stuff.

Next time I get some shop time I’ll joint the edges and begin the careful process of cutting the pieces to final dimension. I’ll also cut the large pieces for the bookmatched side panels. Then I’ll start in on the joinery, plywood cuts, and eventually the top. I’m taking pictures as I go for a big write up here.

So nice to get back out there.

Don’t Steal from Homer

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:48 am

51-year-old carpenter gets smacked down by Home Depot after absent-mindedly “shoplifting” one of their cash register pencils. Duh.

HD later apologized, but seriously? A pencil?

Christmas Lights Spectacular

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:13 am

Okay, sorry about all the media files lately, but this is too good to pass up. (.wmv)

Tivo to iPod

Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 11:08 am

via WSJ:

Digital video recorder maker TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq:TIVO – news) is expected to announce a plan to allow its users to download any television program stored on their recorders to video iPods.

TiVo is making the move without Apple Computer Inc.’s (Nasdaq:AAPL – news) involvement, the paper said. Apple launched a new generation of its iPod digital music player that can play video on its 2.5-inch color screen.

So far, users of the device have only been able to download episodes of only five television series from Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE:DIS – news) ABC and Disney Channel units. Short films from Pixar Animation Studios Inc. (Nasdaq:PIXR – news) and music videos have also been available.

TiVo plans to begin testing software to enable video downloads to iPods from its digital video recorders within the next couple of weeks, the newspaper said. It said the company intends to make the software available to all TiVo users in the first quarter of 2006 for a one-time fee, most likely between $15 and $30.

The Journal said that using TiVo’s software to transfer a one-hour television program to an iPod could take more than two hours from the time users finish recording that program.

Steve Jobs on SNL

Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 1:38 am

Okay, this is a pretty funny SNL skit. (QT)

A Kick in the Ego

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:53 am

So I’m up in Waco today helping a group audition singers for the show in February. In two hours we went through a dozen different singers, trying out different soloists on different songs, various permutations of background singers, etc. We had a great time eating pizza, laughing and cracking jokes. I though “how great that I’m able to do something creative and fun around so many like-minded people… nothing’s really changed in the last 15 years.”

As I was leaving, one of the members walked me out and commented about how at ease they felt working with me. “We really feel comfortable around you, Jason. Kinda like you’re our dad.”


November 20, 2005

Long Day

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 12:49 am

Ah yes, off to Waco for another marathon day of meetings. Got a 13 hour day ahead of me. Deep breath. It’s all good, though, because this is the last big one this year, because I’m hopefully closing out a lot of work as of today, and because I genuinely enjoy these days, even though they’re pretty tiring and it’s a bit of a drag to drive home 90 miles at 1 in the morning.
Still, when I think about what I could be doing for a living, I’m grateful.

Run Boy, Run

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 12:02 am

Good video (qt)

November 19, 2005

Harry Potter

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 12:49 pm

I’ve posted a long comment on the new Harry Potter over at Katherine’s blog, so I won’t be redundant here. But I would like to point out another reason why theaters are losing money. When the movie ended and the credits stared to roll, the employees over at the Austin Tinseltown turned on the overhead florescent lights and immediately started to clean up the theater.

Now, I realize that Goblet of Fire is a popular movie, and I know that they’re trying to get the place ready for the next batch of viewers, but the movie is not over until the credits are done. Some viewers like to sit and watch the credits and “come down” from a movie by listening to the final soundtrack. What we don’t want is to be jarringly forced out of our suspension of disbelief by 5000 watts of overhead florescents and a high school kid with a bag of stinky garbage pushing past our legs.

They seemed a bit irritated when I asked them to please turn the light off until the movie was over. I was going to bring it up with the manager, but why bother? Between the 20 minutes of advertising and the two crying infants in the theater, it’s obvious that this is an industry that no longer values its customers.

Note to theaters: here’s a list of movies we want to see but will avoid the theaters because of stuff like this:

Wallace and Gromit
King Kong
Everything is Illuminated
March of the Penguins

We’re not avid moviegoers, but this list alone represents almost $100 of lost revenue for the theaters. Why go be subjected to the ads, the rude people, the high prices, and the turning-on-of-the-lights (GLAvin!) when we can wait a few months and rent the DVD’s for .99 at Albertsons? An oh yeah, we get extra features, commentaries, and the ability to pause the movie at home. Like Katherine, I really hope that the theater industry can fix what’s wrong with themselves, but until then it’ll take a rare movie indeed to get us to the theater.

November 17, 2005

New Project

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 11:39 pm

Erin needs a book case for her hundreds of piano music books. Naturally, I volunteered to make it. I’ve spent a few days designing the look, determining the dimensions, and making sketches. We had settled on a design and I drew one end of it out in full scale on a large piece of brown wrapping paper. I had to go in and change a few things as some design errors crept in (glad I did the full scale version first.
The book case will be an Arts and Crafts inspired piece (but without doors) roughly 30″ tall, 47″ wide, and 13″ deep. Made out of solid quartersawn oak. I’m going to use the new bandsaw to bookmatch panels for the floating-panel sides. Plus, I’m including a few A&C details like ebony/wenge square pegs. Should be very nice.

Can’t wait to work on it. We’re off to the lumberyard tomorrow (after Harry Potter).


Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 11:29 pm

The full story behind the seminal ad. Interesting fact:

“Apple spent more than $2.5 million to buy all 40 pages of advertising in a special 1984 election issue of Newsweek magazine. At the time, John Sculley remarked, “It’s unclear whether Apple has an advertising insert in Newsweek or whether Newsweek has an insert in an Apple brochure.”

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