The Big Think

February 28, 2006

BLAST!

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 6:44 pm

My old computer speakers went kaput a few months ago and I spent some time choosing a new set of Altec Lansing speakers. These little things sound great with their separate subwoofer.

I have some really nice speakers as my main audio monitors for work, but the little ones suffice when I want to just listen to MP3’s or quicktime movies, or hear the bleaps and blurts that the computer makes.

But when I cleaned off my desk tonight I accidentally dragged the top section of the desk over the main audio cable, completely stripping the insulation off and thoroughly messing up the wires. I know from my limited experience that I probably won’t be able to repair it since it’s a shielded cable and getting it all back right is a pain. Suckage.

Tagged Again

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 2:27 am

I tried to feel all with-it and derisive of taggers, but I think this is fun. So there.
And yes, Katherine, I’ll do it. I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve been gone a few weeks.

What Were You Doing 10 Years Ago?

Pretty much what I’m doing now (Sing et. al.), except that I was also working five nights a week as a jazz pianist at a black-tie club, getting my pilot’s license, and getting commercial comp/arranging and audio tech degrees. And I was also surreptitiously buying a ring for my sweetie.

What Were You Doing 1 Year Ago?

Exactly what I am doing now. Blogging and coming down off of another show. Oh, and I was building my first commission.

Five Snacks You Enjoy

1. M&M’s
2. Girl Scout Samoa cookies
3. fresh baked bread
4. smoothies
5. hot earl grey (tea is a snack!)
(note, under Adkin’s abuse, #5 with no sugar is the only one I can have. sigh)

Five Songs To Which You Know All The Lyrics

Since I do music for a living I consider this a work-related question and I refuse to answer it.
These things are supposed to be fun! Besides, in my line of work, knowing the lyrics just means you’ve listened to the song too much… do you really want to know all the lyrics to a bad song? Neither do I, but I do.

Five Things You Would Do If You Were A Millionaire

1. Invest to keep it that way
2. Buy a new car that isn’t about to break, explode, or otherwise die
3. disappear with Erin for six months
4. pay off a friend’s medical expenses
5. get an unlisted phone number

Five Things You Like Doing

1. Reading
2. Traveling (wouldn’t know it)
3. shop time!
4. backpacking/camping
5. learning new things and skills

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again

1. My cool Korean tailored tux… the most comfortable suit I’ve ever owned.
2. That obnoxious yellow T-shirt I wore in elementary school. I didn’t understand what it meant or why everyone thought it was funny.
3. pajamas with footies… mostly because they don’t make them in my size
4. a cup… who invented those things?!?
5. Katherine’s underwire bra (wait… that said “never wear again“)

Five Favourite Toys
(a moment to note the British spelling of “favourite”. Most excellent. I vote we adopt it here)

1. Table Saw
2. Band Saw
3. Router Table
4. Jointer
5. Planer
see a pattern here? Odd that my PS2 isn’t on the list. Priorities, I guess.

Who are my 5 victims?
1. That guy who looked at me funny.
2. That other guy who laughed at my shoes
3. That sneaky dude with the wad of cash
4. That salesman who came to my door once too often.
5 (soon). Our gardener when he finds the bodies.

Wait…oh, sorry that meant “who are the people I’ll tag”. I get it. Sorry friends, no tagging from here. Kat, I’ll let it die (ha) with me.

Making Waves

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 1:24 am

The single best description of the quantum dual slit experiment I’ve ever seen, courtesy google video. While the movie it comes from is the worst kind of scientific trash, this little video is a fantastic (and completely accurate) explanation of this mysterious and mind-bending aspect of the quantum world. Don’t miss this!

Dr. Evil

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 12:25 am

How about a cool hidden passage or room in your house? Your own starter evil lair.

G’Kar

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 12:22 am

Just learned that Andreas Katsulas died last week. Ah! Now I’m sad.

useful noise!

Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 12:22 am

OS X only

February 27, 2006

Benefit of Being Out of Touch for Two Weeks

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:53 am

When Katherine sarcastically asks this question, I can honestly say… really? Sans TV or Internet for 14 days… you miss a lot. And it’s funny to see how ephemeral and passing so much of this stuff is when two weeks later what was a ginormous scandal turns out to be last fortnight’s news. Yawn.

February 26, 2006

And the Winner Is!…..

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 4:31 pm

I’m back from the show! Two weeks, hours of rehearsals, and five shows (4.5 hours long each) and it’s finally over. The end result: five of the six people’s choice awards went to my groups (including Best Music), and seven of the eight winners who will go on to perform at Pigskin Review in November were my arrangements! I’ve never had that high of a representation in Pigskin and I’m very, very pleased with the results. My acts placed second through eighth. It was an extremely close race this year. Going in to the second weekend the top four acts were separated by less than one point and the top twelve by less than five points so you’ve really got to hand it to the group that placed first (KOT). Nice job, guys!

There were so many great moments this year, including when the first act was announced for Pigskin. Sing Alliance made it to the next show- something that hasn’t happened for almost 10 years. I’m very proud of them and the rest of the competing organizations were extremely happy for them as well. That was great to see. The ferris wheel was actually sabotaged on five separate occasions. Someone got into the unlocked prop room and snipped the lights that had been attached to the rim of the wheel. The prop room, stupidly, remained unlocked even after it kept happening. But the group that owned the prop didn’t let the vandals stop them. They kept coming in to repair the lights every day and kept working hard on their act. They were rewarded with second place. I personally think that they deserved first but I’m admittedly biased!

Lots of laundry to do and sleep to catch up on, then some well-deserved time in the shop. Plus, I’m back to blogging!

By the way, one of my favorite things about being gone for so long is that I get to come back and do lots of reading on one of my favorite blogs.

February 10, 2006

Prop Revealed-Ahh, the wonderful things you can do in a shop

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 7:02 pm

As some of you may know, I spent a good amount of time recently building a rather large prop for the show that I arrange. I can now reveal that the prop was a big ferris wheel. It ended up as an 8′ diameter wheel on a large base. Overall height was just shy of 9′. I know because there was less than 1/2″ of clearance under my 9′ garage ceiling. I took a few pictures during construction and wanted to share them with you.

Here I am using a custom made trammel with holes for a pencil to mark out the arc:
IMG_4876.jpg

Cutting the arcs with my new jigsaw (awesome tool)
IMG_4881.jpg

The sides fastened together with the first set of 1/2″ dowels. It was pretty floppy at this point but I added 3/4″ dowels spaced in the gaps and that firmed it up quite a bit.
IMG_4882.jpg

Here I am installing the spokes. I had to fabricate square plywood pockets to fit each of the bigger dowels in.

IMG_4884.jpg

Here I am finishing up the spokes of the wheel. You can see the middle hub. It’s glued and screwed together to within an inch of its life. The main axel is a 3/4″ x 24″ iron pipe. The pipe goes through a piece of PVC that I epoxied into the center hub.

IMG_4885.jpg

Here is the finished ferris wheel with center ribs, 16 cars, and base assembly.The base is 1/2″ ply on top of 3/4″ ply. The side bracing struts and main axle pivot are bolted and glued everywhere I could think of. It’s solid as a rock. The wheel turns incredibly smoothly (by hand) and is almost perfectly balanced. The 16 cars are tied on by hand with almost 200 individual knots. The client painted it bright red and will install battery powered lights around the rim. The entire prop weighs in at 100+ lbs. I’ve got D handles built into the base for moving it (you remove the wheel and carry it by the axle and move the base separately).

IMG_4886.jpg

Proud builder. I spent about 30 hours working on this project and had a total blast. Good thing the client brought the big Uhaul.
IMG_4900.jpg

February 8, 2006

Shadows on the Moon

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 11:50 am

Here is an interesting article about the shadows that the Apollo astronauts encountered on the moon. No Katherine, not that kind.

February 7, 2006

Real H20

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 12:01 pm

We’ve finally arrived at reality in CG created water. And sharks. Oh my, the sharks.

February 6, 2006

Sorry

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:21 pm

This gives me hope.

February 4, 2006

Tagged!

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 1:39 am

Alrighty, then. It’s about time! I’ve been tagged.

Four places I’ve lived:
Pleasanton, California
Plano, Texas
Pflugerville, Texas
Waco, Tx
(four p’s and a w)

Four jobs I’ve had:
Ice cream scooper for Baskin Robbins
Professional whitewater rafting/wilderness guide
Black-Tie club pianistSelf Employed arranger/composer

Four movies I can watch over and over

My tolerance for repeating books or movies has gone down significantly, but the movies I pull out most often are probably:

Anything Pixar
Lord of the Rings (three movies but I’ll count them as one)
Gattaca
Henry V (just because I’m feeling pretentious)

Four contemporary authors that I read everything they publish

David Brin
Orson Scott Card
Asimov (okay, he’s not exactly contemporary, but still a classic)
Richard Preston

Four current TV shows I love:

Since we dumped our TV 9 months ago I haven’t watched much, but I still love:

Norm!
Fraser (Erin’s working through the 4th season DVD set I got her for Christmas)
Babylon 5
Stargate (sensing a sci fi theme here?)

Four places I’ve visited/vacationed:

Seattle/Vancouver/Victoria (honeymoon)
Williamsburg, VA
Washington DC
Buena Vista, CO

Four of my favorite dishes:

king ranch casserole
Tacos!
my homemade chicken soup
grilled salmon with couscous that Erin makes

Four sites I visit daily:
LileksKatherine’sdiggMakezineFour places I would rather be right now:

flying
camping
in my shop
travelling

Who do I tag?

Hmmm… Katherine already tagged me and I can’t tag Patrick since she tagged him already. How about we see if Barry, Sean, Giles, or Robert respond?

February 3, 2006

The Big Prop, She Is Done

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 12:39 am

It’s finished! It was initially too tall to stand up in my garage (9′ ceiling). I had to lop off a couple inches on one part in order to get it to fit. Tis a beautiful thing. I’ll just keep teasing you for another week until I post pictures. The group is coming down tomorrow to pick it up and they’re bringing a large U-haul truck.

The worst part of today was when I was dragging a tall piece across the floor and inadvertently caught the wires hanging from the garage door opener. Ripped them right out of the back of the unit. I had to spend a frustrating 90 minutes trying to figure out how to rewire the thing (a job that was made harder by the fact that I didn’t have a manual and the original installer didn’t follow the correct wire color coding sequence! Grr… Anyway, the thing works now and the wires are mounted in a much better place.

I spent about 9 hours finishing up the prop today. I don’t know how much time I have in it total, but it’s probably about 30 hours. I’ve had a blast making it. I’ve looked forward each morning to long stretches of time in the shop and go to bed each night with my brain going full tilt trying to solve some problem or other in the design. This project has been an exercise in solving one problem right after the other and has definitely stretched me. Erin came home today and saw it fully assembled and just said “I can’t believe you made that!”. Made me smile.

February 2, 2006

War News

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:39 am

Fact and Fiction about the war in Iraq. Some good stuff here that is generally not reported in the media. Told by a reporter who just spent a significant amount of time in Iraq.
What concerns me the most about this post is the following statement:

Defanging the Middle East is a vast undertaking. But again, wars have never been easy or antiseptic. Even after the hostilities of World War II were over, the U.S. occupied Japan for seven years of stabilization and reconstruction, and West Germany for four years (the first year, the Germans nearly starved).

And a guerilla war like we face in Iraq generally requires even more stamina. Eliminating a terror insurgency has historically taken a decade or two. It’s like eradicating smallpox; you must squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, and show great patience.

I wonder what happens at the next change of civilian leadership here in the States. If the next administration is wont to pull out of Iraq, will the resulting power vacuum engender the kind of terrorist leadership that we’re slowly ridding Iraq of now? I hope not, lest all those 2000+ solders’ deaths be in vain. And what of Iran?

The author also has some revealing statistics describing how very badly our national media has failed to accurately report the war:

One media critic (Arthur Chrenkoff) did a content analysis of a typical day (January 21, 2005), and counted this breakout of freshly published stories on Iraq:

• 1,992 covering terrorist attacks
• 887 essays alleging prisoner abuse by the British
• 289 about American casualties or civilian deaths in Iraq
• 27 mentions of oil pipeline sabotage
• 761 reports on public statements of terrorists
• 357 on U.S. anti-war protestors
• 121 speculations on a possible American pullout
• 118 articles about strains with European nations
• 217 stories worrying over the validity of the upcoming January 30 Iraqi election
• 216 tales of hostages in Iraq
• 123 quoting Vice President Cheney saying he had underestimated reconstruction needs
• 2,642 items on a Senate grilling of Condoleezza Rice over Iraq policy

Balanced against these negative stories, Chrenkoff ’s computer search found a grand total of 96 comparatively positive reports related to Iraq:

• 16 reports on successful operations against insurgents
• 7 hopeful stories about Iraqi elections
• 73 describing the return of missing Iraqi antiquities

Tendentious reporting is clouding understanding and spawning inaccuracies. In January 2005, for instance, the New York Times editorial board had become convinced that civil war was just around the corner in Iraq and suggested “it’s time to talk about postponing [Iraq’s first] elections.” Less than two weeks later came the popular outpouring that inspired observers around the globe. Snookered yet again by over-gloomy reporting, the Times insisted on October 7 that Iraqis were “going through the motions of democracy only as long as their side wins.” Just days after, the minority Sunnis announced they were joining the political process, and turned out in force to vote on the constitution, and then in Iraq’s historic parliamentary election.

Many other establishment media organs have been equally out of line. When Iraq’s unprecedented new constitution was ratified by 79 percent of voters (in a turnout heavier than any American election), the Washington Post buried that story on page 13, and put this downbeat headline on it: “Sunnis Failed to Defeat Iraq Constitution: Arab Minority Came Close.” The four top headlines on the front page of the Post that same day: “Military Has Lost 2,000 in Iraq,” “The Toll: 2,000,” “Bigger, Stronger, Homemade Bombs Now to Blame for Half of U.S. Deaths,” and “Bush Aides Brace for Charges.”

February 1, 2006

Prop

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 11:59 pm

More prop work today. It’s been great to have the charts done and get some really good time in the shop. I spent about 10 hours on it today and I’m having a blast. The thing is huge and complicated, but it’s turning out beautifully. Unfortunately, I opened the garage door to make a run to Home Depot and it knocked the thing over and onto the table saw. The good news is that it’s built so solidly (using dozens of bolts, washers, and laminated wood parts) that only one part broke. It’s easily repaired.

I made many small duplicate parts for the thing today with my pneumatic nailer. I love that tool. Best money spent on a tool, no question.

I’ll post a picture when I leave for the show (on the 11th). I figure by then if any student sees the blog they’ll know already anyway. Not that many students read this.

*update* Checking the logs it seems someone from Baylor.edu does indeed check in here. I wonder who it is? Maybe I’ll have Erin post the entry once the show is underway.

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