This Month
March 30, 2004 04:47 AM

Man, I keep forgetting what a pain in the ass thie webernet stuff is.

See the pretty new stuff? See? SEE? Almost there...

March 29, 2004 01:55 AM

I think that I let the sponge proof a bit too long - like, twelve hours too long. All the bubbly little critters must have spent their load before I got to 'em. At first we didn't have flour, then we went to lunch, then to Home Depot, then I got a crippling migrane, and we went home without flour, and then I started on the woodworking while Bernie went to the store, and I finally started in on the actual bread-making many hours late. So, the bread is a bit, uh, dense. But it tastes pretty good - it's just the texture that's all wrong. Well, now I know - next time, for sure.

March 28, 2004 09:09 PM

Another revelation: While discussing where we would meet when the zombie attack comes, a local Wal-Mart quickly rose to the top of the list. There's food, there's guns and ammunition, there's all sorts of improvisational supplies, and the entrances could be barricaded securely fairly easily. It's got a good flat roof for a helicopter landing or for a secondary fall-back area, lots of room inside in case people get on each other's nerves, and there'll probably be generators and vehicles in the eventuality that things go from dead to worse. Then we realized what Sam Walton's big plan was - we know that they intend to build a superstore every three miles, all the way across the country, but it's not to increase profits. Oh, no, Sam knew of the impending zombie holocaust, and he wanted to be sure that there would be a safe haven for every American, no matter where they were. Genius!

Back in present day, I just finished gluing and screwing the top slats on our new cedar table, and I've got to say, it looks pretty good for the first big project to come out of the little shop. I was afraid that some of the cuts were going to be off, but the new circular saw and belt sander made everything go pretty smoothly - those little suckers are magic make-the-wood-disappear machines. (It feels pretty good to have built a table without using any HTML.) It rained today, and it's a bit damp out, so if it clears up tomorrow, I'll put the sealer on, and we'll be good to go. I think the next big project is building a raised bed for Bernie's vegetable garden, and then some more outdoors furniture to go around the fire pit in the back yard.

There's also some sourdough bread rising on the stove - I've had some starter sitting in the refrigerator for a month or so now, and it's about time it gets used. One of Bernie's main complaints about Texas (in that it's not like San Francisco) is that it's hard to find good sourdough. I think she's just being picky about it - one of the good markets nearby has some pretty killer breads - but we'll see if this home-made stuff does her any good.


Man, I woke up this morning feeling like crap again. Sharp pain in the bladder area, feeling woozy and nauseous. Not as bad as last time it happened a few months ago, but didn't go away as fast, either. I thought it was food poisoning before, but I think it might just be a stomach bug or something - although, I have been looking around, and I hear tell that cedar allergies can sometimes affect peoples' stomachs, and it was around this time last year that I got some pretty bad gastric distress, too. Wah wah.

It's been warming up and getting nicer out, which means hanging out in the yard more often, instead of being holed up in the computer room all day. I actually got back into the little workshop I set up last year, and busted about halfway through this little cedar end table - it's a pretty simple plan, but it's a good start. I reckon I can cut the slats for the top and finish it up tomorrow, and then, benches.

Went to see the new Dawn of the Dead movie with Dave and Mel tonight, and it was a lot better that I had expected it would be. Only a few stupid things, the biggest of which is: does this take place in some bizarro alternate universe where nobody has ever seen a damn zombie movie before? "I think it's the bites." Yeah, no shit, Marie Curie. I think my next screenplay project is going to be one where zombies attack an Amish community, because at least then there'll be a good reason for nobody to know that you have to shoot them in the goddamn head. Plus, once they figure it out, the Amish KICK ASS!

March 27, 2004 02:05 PM
March 26, 2004 04:05 PM

I finally got around to upgrading my MovableType install to 2.661, so... let's see if everything is working here.


Well, we're going to see our evil genius accountant tomorrow, for tax stuff. We reckon that there's all sorts of new and exciting things we have to figure out with the house and everything, so it's going to be a team event up there in North Austin, at 9am in the morning o'clock. I'm not sure that really works for me - my natural sleep time is from about 4am-noon when I'm left to my own devices, and I have been pretty devised lately. Well, I told Bernie that she could make the appointment for whenever was good for her, so, I reckon I get what I deserve. Fortunately, I imagine that this meeting will mostly about her, since my income last year was in the mid-four-digit range, and she's been busting ass at a sweet contracting job pretty much full time - we just need to figure out who gets what part of which responsibility for house stuff, however that works out best for us.

Me, I've been trying to make a ding in the work situation for myself here. I'm starting to sign up hosting accounts, and it looks like I might get a new handful soon, so that'll cover half of my monthly DSL bill, at least. (If you're in Austin, and you want a cheap, local web host, give me a holler.) I've also got a couple of warm leads from schmoozing around (which I hate doing) at SXSW this year, and a friend of mine says that they may soon have some webernet-type stuff to throw my way, too, so, if things go well, maybe I'll be able to cover my half of the mortgage this year. Other than paying work, I've built a few little scripty-type things, and I'm starting to get a bit of steam behind a overhaul, which should look good for prospective clients. There's also my sooper seekrit game project that's slowly coming along, and I'm looking to start writing some more, see if that leads anywhere. Plus, making more progress on the house and yard, and chipping away at little woodworking projects, banjo practice, and a million other little things that peck at me from the periphery. Peck, peck, peck.

March 23, 2004 08:03 PM

If you've been paying attention lately, you will have undoubtedly come across the latest villainous scheme by the UN-lead, one-world global elite: they are tracking our money by putting RFID tags in them. How was this determined? Well, someone set off an alarm at a truck stop, and they assumed that it was the thousand dollars in cash that did it. So, what did they do? Well, what would anyone do? That's right - they ran home, and put a big stack of twenty-dollar bills in the microwave. And, as one would expect, they got all burnt up. So, obviously, it was the RFID tags exploding, and not the metallic ink, or the little ID strip, or, you know, the hot paper.

Wait, paper doesn't burn when you put it in a microwave, right? I mean, we heat up stuff in paper boxes and in paper plates and paper towels all the time, and it's never burst into flame! Well, yeah, but hang on. Microwaves work by agitating the water molecules in the stuff we're heating up, and even dry paper has a little bit of water in it. Usually, it's just a thin piece, though, so the small amount of heat generated dissipates pretty quickly, and there's no evidence of the reaction. If you put a big stack of paper in there, however, there's a lot more to heat up, and the pieces in the middle are pretty well insulated, and don't have anywhere to throw off. Thus, they start to brown, smolder, and eventually, catch fire.

Even though this is pretty basic science, there are still people who prefer the tinfoil hat theory. Now, I'm as suspicious of the government as anyone - probably more than your average citizen - but if there's one thing I hate more than a totalitarian shadow regime attempting to keep track of their herd, it's dumbasses who use bad science to spread their stupid theories to people who aren't willing or able to think for themselves. So, as a public service, I conducted an experiment - at great risk to myself and my kitchen - to settle the matter once and for all.

Stack of newly minted twenties

I don't have the good fortune to have an expendable stack of twenty dollar bills just lying around, so I did the next best thing. I took a few sheets of 20-weight all-purpose copy paper, and minted myself a fresh grand. They aren't the exact same size as standard-issue bills, but they should serve well enough for our purposes. Just to make things clear, I noted the denomination of each bill on the front of each slip of paper. I don't think that I'm violating any federal laws here, but if I am, well, this wasn't me - I just found these on the street, in an unmarked paper bag.

As you can see, these doubles are in nearly pristine state - there are no watermarks, hairline strips, and certainly no RFID tags. I'm not sure how flammable the Sharpie ink is, but I think I'm willing to live with that level of uncertainty. You will also note that they are relatively dry, so there should be no excess liquid to heat up and cause an unexpected super-heated steam jet to turn the radiation chamber into a deadly inferno of death. Just paper and the modern wonder of the microwave! Onward!

Microwave prepared, the experiment is a go!

So, there's a stack of fifty imitation twenty-dollar bills sitting in the middle of the rotating platform in the middle of the oven. I set the timer for three minutes, and let it go. For the first minute and a half or so, there wasn't a whole lot of action. Was I wrong? Did science abandon me? Was I going to have to pull the plug, break out the blowtorch, and fabricate some evidence? Wait - what's that smell?

Around two minutes, there was a distinct smoky odor emanating from the microwave. I didn't see any visible change, but I knew that something was afoot. I continued to snap photos of the spinning stack of bills, waiting for vindication. There! The edges were turning brown - which meant that the middle was probably already pretty well along the path to On-Fire City. Also, wisps of smoke were beginning to escape through the cracks of the door. It's entirely possible that I'd wind up with a bit more burninating that I'd counted on, but I just opened a few windows, and decided to tough out the full three minutes - for SCIENCE!

Just as Bernie came into the kitchen to ask what that smell was, the timer went off, I turned the hood fan to "high", and opened the microwave to survey the damage.

All burninated up.  Success!

Yep, those look pretty charred, all right. Looks like the experiment was a success - the stack of funny money started heating up and burning from the inside out, as expected. Actually, it was a bit more successful that I had anticipated - when I brought the smoking results out into the fresh air, they started smoking even more, and it looked like there were some glowing bits in there. I decided that it was time to take this show on the road, and moved the operation out to the front porch.

The smoking gun

There was a bit of a breeze, and the situation quickly began to escalate.

The.... burning gun?

I grabbed the top bill from the stack, tossed the rest into the chimnea, and let nature take its fiery course. When I went back in to clean up and air the kitchen out a bit, I noticed that there was a small rectangular smudge of brownish residue on the glass platter in the microwave. It was a bit sticky, but came off pretty easily. If you've ever done any reduction experiments, where you heat up a piece of wood enough to break it down, but not enough to catch it on fire, you know what I'm talking about.

So, what have we learned from this little adventure? Well, the obvious - don't believe everything you read on the Internet. Including this. If you don't buy it, grab some scissors, go to the kitchen, and try it out yourself. Or, you know, buy a high school science textbook, and learn a thing or two. But hey, burning things is fun, and setting stuff on fire is a big part of science. Another big part of science is telling people what big dumbasses they are when they start saying dumbass stuff. So get out there, and start preaching the good news - for SCIENCE!

This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.

(Examine the full gory details on xhibition. Ignore the squirrel. It is not part of the experiment.)

March 14, 2004 02:14 AM

Man, good first day of SXSW.

Unfortunately, I'm too full, too tired, and too lazy to tell you about it. But hey, better than the last month or so, huh?

March 09, 2004 05:05 PM

God Hates Shrimp