brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell



It's ugly!

I'm spending some time in Truckee, CA with some of my old college chums, and currently we are getting hammered by rain and wind gusting to 60mph. I-80 is reportedly going to be closed due to landslides for the next two days at least, and the furnace in the place we are staying is out because water from flooding has filled the crawlspace and the furnace is now in standing water.


We are running the gas fireplace full bore, and the temperature is holding a lovely 58 degrees, but the temperature is supposed to drop down to something like 23 tonight. Still, we aren't going anywhere anytime fast, so I think hot coffee and the like will be the order of the day, as well as lots of sweaters.

Filed under: My Diary No Comments

Notes from the Technology Underground

William Gurstelle, author of a couple of my favorite books, Backyard Ballistics and The Art of the Catapult, has a new book, Adventures from the Technology Underground and a blog, Notes from the Technology Underground. I ordered the new book via Amazon, and the blog is now in my Daily Read list.


WordPress 2.0 Released

It appears that version 2.0 of WordPress is available for download. I'll try to give a head's up when I'll upgrade.

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Christmas Dessert: Apple Tart Tatin with Homemade Puff Pastry

After a delicious supper of prime rib, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus, what could top it off? Well, I gave Emeril's Apple Tart Tatin with Homemade Puff Pastry. I made it with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, and Fuji apples, but it turned out real good. Give it a try.

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Using FFMPEG to make PSP video

I spent a little while trying to figure this out, apparently the -r argument is significant:

ffmpeg -i superman_the_mechanical_monsters.mpeg \
    -title "Superman: The Mechanical Monsters" \ 
     -s 320x240 -b 512 -ar 24000 -ab 64 -r 29.970030 -f psp M4V12345.MP4

The -title seemed fubarred, but the rest seems to work. I'll refine this more later.

Filenames apparently need to be of the form M4VXXXXX.MP4, where the X's are digits.

Filed under: General, My Projects 1 Comment

Nice view of Saturn Rings

Saturn, Dec 22, 2005

Check out the
the spiffy view of Saturn's rings and their shadows taken from Cassini

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Merry Christmas 2005!

To all the readers of my little experiment in self-therapy, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Filed under: General, News No Comments

A Visit From Saint Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore

A Visit From Saint Nick

A seasonal Gutenberg Gem: A Visit From Saint Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore. Enjoy the classic with illustrations.


Time for Christmas Pasta…

Christmas Pasta Shapes from Costplus

For tonight's dinner plan, I'm doing the same thing that I did last year, a variation of Rachel Ray's Christmas Pasta recipe. I find her base recipe simply has too much meat in it, mine will be more like a amatriciana sauce, with onions and red pepper flake, seasoned with some sweet and some spicy italian sausages. Of course, we do have to use the classic Christmas Pasta shapes that we got from Cost Plus. Yum!


Dave Slusher leads to “Geek Christmas Carol”

Checking in on Dave Slusher's blog, I found that he was a voice in something called Geek Christmas Carol, which I find you can download from Friends In Tech. Neat. Also, perusing the comments there, I found that someone else had done much the same thing: Podcast Pickle had produced A Podcast Christmas Carol. Check them both out for the holiday.


Moon to Occult Spica

Sadly, it won't be visible here in California, but for much of the United States, Christmas morning will feature a rare occultation of Spica by the moon. Thanks to Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Blog for pointing out the rare event which, well, sadly won't be seen from here.

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Use Google Earth to Track Santa

He's hopping around the Middle East as I type this. Google Earth is pretty cool for a free download too, so check it out.

Ho ho ho.


DIY Laser Engraved Toast

Jesus is Toast!

Over the last few years, I've seen a number of eBay auctions for religious figures which appear spontaneously in grilled bread items. It seems to me that the budding young entrepaneur could make a killing with the right laser engraving equipment. Courtesy of the Make Blog.



You know what's more useless than those tapes and DVDs of a fire burning in the fireplace? How 'bout the same thing, but formatted for your video iPod. Courtesy of those fine gents at WGN.


R.I.P. Brainwagon Radio

Well, I wish my experiment in podcasting was going out with a bang instead of a whimper, but for now, I'm closing the saga that was Brainwagon Radio. It may return in some retooled form in the future: I'm thinking that to really revitalize my interest in doing podcasts I need to find an appropriate cohost and develop a better setup. For now, the 98 episodes stand as an attempt to utilize a new media before I even understood what it was, what I should use it for, or who my audience was. Perhaps when I have a personal answer to one of those questions, I'll be back to try it again.

Until then, I hope that I didn't bore you all, and that you drop in and read my blog, which I will continue to keep. I also hope that at least a couple of you were inspired to reach out to others who reside in the Long Tail and create your own podcasts.

It really has been a blast.