April 15, 2008

Flickr + Creative Commons

Senses Bar, Toronto

It's interesting what happens when you license your photos using a Creative Commons license. I'm just an amateur photographer - a dilettante, really - that doesn't even have quality gear. But I know what I like, visually, and try to capture it. I don't expect to make any money; just to try to capture images in time and space that I like. Anyway, I upload pretty much all of my photos to my Flickr account under a Creative Commons license. So far, I have had a few photos included in Schmap guides and one in some sort of pamphlet about Halliburton and the U.S.'s unhealthy dependence on foreign oil.

The photo above has gotten used a couple of times. Testament to the power of alcohol, I guess. Most recently it was used in this micro story. Check it out.

March 14, 2008

DJ furniture, iteration two

with final panel in place

I finally got around to building version two of my DJ table. As you can see here, on the listener side it has two rows of integrated shelving for CDs (and Nintendo DS games) and two rows of shelving for DVDs. The solid panel hides the power and speaker cables; the inverse side (not pictured here, but feel free to click the photo to see other angles at Flickr.com) has record shelving and rack shelving. The top panel is held up by copper tubing. The whole thing is mounted on six casters for easier repositioning. I made a few mistakes, but overall I'm pleased with the way it turned out.

October 23, 2007

autumn leaves

Kettle Moraine State Forest

December 25, 2006

R.I.P. James Brown

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, passed away this morning. Merry Christmas; you will be missed.

November 10, 2006

another photo Schmap'd

shortly before the blown save

Another one of my photos has been included into an electronic travel guide produced by Schmap, but this time it's for Houston. (The last three were from Chicago.) They've chosen a picture I took from the third base side of Minute Maid Park during the 9th inning of a Dodgers-Astros game earlier this year. Just prior to this picture, Kenny Lofton hit a triple off of Brad Lidge, who went on to blow the save.

May 24, 2006



Apparently three of my photos on Flickr.com have been selected for inclusion in a new electronic guide to Chicago being compiled by a company called Schmap. They are apparently going through photos on Flickr for CC-licensed photos looking for items to include in their travel guides.

The travel guides themselves are interesting (from what I gather - they're still not Mac compatible) as while they are freely downloadable, they do not actually operate online. Clicking on the photos presented in the guides will apparently take you to the appropriate photo page in Flickr.com, but each guide is apparently downloaded in its entirety to your hard drive. On the one hand, this makes sense - you can use it regardless of whether you have an internet connection or not, so long as your laptop has power. On the other hand, wireless internet connections are becoming nearly ubiquitous in major American cities. I can see this being most useful if you were traveling abroad to areas with less connectivity.

April 24, 2006

science of an internet meme

Apparently someone rediscovered the fact that when you drop candy into soda, you can get a geyser effect, and it's been making the rounds on the internet (see this video or this video). It was even featured on NPR.

People are billing it as an "explosion" but it's really not. Wikipedia claims that it's a result of adding gum arabic and lowering surface tension of the soda, but that doesn't wash with me - lots of sodas already have gum arabic, and the amount you're adding is going to be minimal (and in solid form). In fact, if anything, since gum arabic is a mixture of carbohydrates and proteins, I would actually expect that it would increase surface tension slightly. What's probably going on is that by dropping candies (Mentos, in this case - I used Nerds when I was a kid) into a bottle of fresh soda, you suddenly and dramatically increase the number of potential nucleation points for the carbon dioxide in solution to come out of solution as bubbles. Those bubbles of gas take up more space than dissolved gas would (example: when divers get "the bends") causing the liquid to be ejected forcefully from the neck of the bottle.

January 13, 2006

best spammer name yet

Ungainliness D. Hobo.

Seriously, I received a spam with that name as the sender today. I think it could be a great stage name for the lead singer of a grunge band.

October 25, 2005

who is Lamar Cole?

The other day, my friends over at criticalbeatdowns.com emailed me because they were entering their first stages of dealing with comment spam, and I had previously been forced to deal with this problem. I solved it by installing MT-Blacklist by Jay Allen (which kicked much ass) but since upgrading to MovableType 3.2, have just been relying on the stock install which has had much of the functionality of MT-Blacklist rolled in.

Coincidentally, at about this time I got my first comment from a "Lamar Cole." I junked it; it made it past the spam filter but seemed to be a complete non-sequitur to the topic of the post so I assumed it was spam. However, it didn't have any real characteristics of comment spam besides the non-sequitur text - i.e., no links to porn or poker sites. Just recently I got another one, with the same text. Again, no other characteristics of spam. This raised my curiosity a bit - a quick Google search turns up thousands of comments by Lamar Cole. Almost all of these bear short messages about love - the two that were sent to this site said "Love is a path to the heart that knows its own way."

So the big question is who is Lamar Cole, and why is he posting these messages on random entries on random blogs across the web? There appears to be no overt spamminess - no links to raise Google PageRank, no trying to get linkbacks to a central site. The only commercial connection appears to be that some of the comments have this text - "Love is two people sipping Coca-Cola from the same straw on a warm sunny day." There even appears to be a potential working email address (I haven't tried it yet, but it's lcolej@yahoo.com). Is it just someone who is trying to spread some goodwill and cheesy sentiment across the big, bad web, or is there some weird level of calculation behind all of this that I don't grok? I'm not so curious as to try to track down this person, but if anyone else has any information, I'd be interested in hearing it...

September 14, 2005

read the note

REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war.
Unbelievably, this photo is for real. It's Dubya writing a note during a U.N. Security Council session. He looks pretty bored. Click the photo - it'll take you to the Reuters website. The caption reads:
REUTERS/Rick Wilking U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war.

August 7, 2005

listen up, lend me your ear, stop and stare

Overheard in New York is always a good read, but something must have been in the water here last week. I was practically in tears reading these four entries. Houston has its own version, but apparently nothing funny or shocking is ever said in Chicago, LA, Philly, or Boston. Or perhaps it is, but the masses of Pod People are too tuned out to hear it.

April 22, 2005

search engine hits

I've been running the stats on my site using Analog for some time now, but I don't always check the reports out very carefully. However, one thing jumped out at me when I went through the stats this week. Analog has a report where it shows which search engine queries were used to access the site, and it turns out that I'm apparently the #1 hit on Google when you search for "archaic units." Go figure.

April 8, 2005

bumper cars

my rear bumper, crushed
On Monday I was rear-ended by a Ford F-150 pickup truck in the U-turn lane at Fannin and 610. Even though he probably wasn't going any more than 10 miles per hour, the F-150 is in such a completely different weight class than my Accord that some significant damage occurred. The bumper assembly, as you can see, is pretty thrashed and the right tail light is broken. What you can't see is that the trunk was pushed in and up a bit. The most tragic thing is that I'm going to have to completely redo the bumper sticker. I didn't even realize this until it was pointed out to me yesterday by my friend Ryan (who is back on leave from Iraq). That bumper sticker took 21 regular KTRU bumper stickers to construct, and it was probably the most recognizable thing about the car - people I barely know recognize my car because of that sticker. In any case, no one was hurt, and the other guy's insurance is picking up the tab of the repairs. We actually both had the same insurance company (Progressive) and I have been tremendously impressed with their level of customer service. I originally went with them because they gave me the cheapest quote of all the policies I looked at, but I'll probably stick with them because of their service. Apparently in some of the major metropolitan areas in the nation they have a new service called the "concierge-level service" which is free of charge. Essentially, because my car was still drivable, I simply brought it in to one of their drop off points, and then an agent and I walked around the car and identified the damaged areas, they pulled a rental car around for inspection, I signed some papers, traded keys and was ready to go. They contract with local repair shops and guarantee the work, so there was really no reason to try to find my own body shop, get an estimate, take it to another place, get another estimate, negotiate with the insurance, etc. They even gave me a pager to receive text messages pertaining to my car, and they'll call me when it's ready. No out-of-pocket expense for the rental, completely no-hassle. If you're in the market for auto insurance, you might consider them if you live in an area where they offer this service - it's kind of unreal. Anyway, I'm going to have to make a new bumper sticker. Any suggestions for what it should say? I probably won't reconstruct the "not everybody understands house music" sticker, but I probably will stick with a music themed saying. The other sticker said "rappin forty" which was a reference that almost no one here got.

December 7, 2004

redesign pending

This site is about to get a makeover, so I apologize in advance if things look wonky or links break. I'm going to try to clean up the design (looks too cluttered to me) and also install a couple of new features. There is the possibility that I might be migrating away from Movable Type to WordPress. I'll also probably start experimenting with some other measures which will hopefully allow me to bring back comments - prior to disabling comments I was getting hit pretty hard with comment spam for porn sites (almost 300 or so per day). Because I had links disabled in the comments, I wasn't contributing to increasing their google rankings, but it _was_ annoying. Supposedly there are some new plug-ins available designed to eliminate comment spam...

July 26, 2004

more dj furniture

Marc's DJ setup

For some reason, I still show up on the first page of Google results for the search on dj furniture, largely because of this page. Just recently, Marc sent me a picture of his setup which he built after seeing my page. Here's what he had to say:

Thanks for the inspiration and advice, wanted to show you how the booth came out. Took me two weeks and $200 in supplies, but well worth it. Rubber-band suspension system was a bitch...

June 22, 2004

it's all about the hamiltons

A better choice for the new ten dollar bill. 70725_m.jpg

June 17, 2004

impressions of Toronto

A short photo essay by me.

Continue reading "impressions of Toronto" »

June 16, 2004

back in Texas

six records I bought in Toronto I was up in Toronto (yes, Canada) for the weekend because a couple of good friends got married. Toronto is a beautiful city in the summer; I highly recommend it. It was nice to see all these old friends, catch up with their lives, and make some new friends. The wedding itself was well-planned and beautiful; a condensation of a four-day traditional Pakistani wedding into two days, plus a few Vietnamese touches in there as well. In the downtime I drank a lot of beer, dug through some crates (Toronto is a digger's goldmine, no doubt) and generally just enjoyed the sunny and cool weather. I'm definitely going to make a point of returning to Toronto once I have a real job and a lot of disposable income - the soul and funk records in the shops there are unreal. Of course, those shops know what they have, so you'll pay out the nose, but it'll be worth it...

May 21, 2004

stupid jokes

I just came across this joke. It's so bad, and yet so good. My favorite pair of bad jokes are knock-knock jokes:
*Knock, knock.* Who's there? *Interrupting cow.* Interruptin-- *Moo.* *Knock knock.* Who's there? *Greek interrupting cow.* Greek interrup--- *Mu.*
Post more bad jokes in the comments, if you've got some.

May 13, 2004

2046: the future, or a seedy hotel room?

Leung Chiu-Wai in 2046 Gah! A sequel to Wong Kar-Wai's _In The Mood For Love_ is showing at Cannes. Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Faye Wong... Plus Maggie Cheung is in another movie called Clean as well. Must... go... to France... Zhang Ziyi in 2046 Faye Wong in 2046 In other Asian-influenced futuristic love stories, Robot Stories, a film directed by Greg Pak, will be hitting Houston at the end of May. It'll be playing at the Angelika, and it looks to be the first movie I've seen in the theater since Lost in Translation.

May 2, 2004

have it your way

I have to share this site, because it's left me alternately laughing my ass off and scared to sleep for the past couple days. I particularly enjoyed the results of instructing the chicken to make me a mayonnaise sandwich and to take his garter off. But don't get on his bad side, or that evil eye will give you nightmares! Trust me, just check the site.

April 21, 2004

let a playa play

In 2002, freshman running back Maurice Clarett helped Ohio State's football team win the NCAA title. Now, he (gasp!) wants to utilize his skills to earn a living as a professional football player. For some reason, the NFL has a problem with this, and under the guise of protecting Clarett, they have denied him entry into the NFL draft. The reason? He is only two years out of high school. As ridiculous as this stance seems to be, on Monday a federal appeals court stayed a lower court decision which had allowed Clarett to enter the draft.

Continue reading "let a playa play" »

March 15, 2004

layout 2.5 fixed?

I think I've isolated and fixed all the HTML and CSS problems with this page. If you're viewing this and the layout looks messed up, please post something in the comments letting me know what browser and operating system combination you're using. So far I've tested in Safari, IE 5.2, and Camino on Mac OS X and IE 6.0 on Windows 2000 and XP. I know of one issue with IE5 on Mac OS X, but it's a problem with no known solution (to my knowledge). +I've also confirmed the layout works on IE 5.5 on Windows 2000, and thanks to Triet, I know it should also look good in Mozilla on a PC. (added 18 March 2004, 5pm)+ Here's a link to a screenshot of what the layout _should_ look like.

February 25, 2004

truth in advertising

picture of Fun Dip candy. The Valentine's variety has messages printed on the candy stick. One of them says Hi Sugar.

January 16, 2004

random amusements

Here are a couple of random amusements: * Hey Ya, Charlie Brown (a disturbing video for the Outkast song) * My DJ (an amusing short story) * P-Unit (what Princeton kids with too much time on their hands end up creating) I am not responsible for any brain damage you may suffer from following these links.

November 10, 2003

metrorail, pt. 3

Yeesh, I should at least post these pictures, even if I don't bother writing about them. Anyway, MetroRail is going to be nice. Ride it. One dolla, one dolla, one dolla, getcha alla da way downtown...

Continue reading "metrorail, pt. 3" »

November 6, 2003

beer me, or quit wine-ing

There's a short thread over at MeFi talking about beers with unusual names. They've already hit some of my faves - Theakston's Old Peculier, Delirium Tremens, La Fin du Monde - but they missed Maudite ("the damned one") and most of the New Belgium Brewing Company's beers. And they're not even discussing wines with weird names, most of which are usually zinfandels. Or at least Californian. Cardinal Zin, Captain Zin, the Seven Deadly Zins, Chateau La Paws Cote du Bone Roan... Try the Bonny Doon Vineyard for a couple of other wines with weird names.

November 1, 2003

metrorail, pt. 2

I got an email the other day inviting members of the public to come out and inspect the MetroRail train at the Hermann Park station (Fannin and Sunset). The train was supposed to be there from 2pm to 5pm, so after a morning soccer practice, a shower, and a leisurely lunch, I set out with my digital camera and walked down to the park to check out the train.

It was a beautiful day, if a bit hot and humid. It had to be in the eighties today, and it's November!

Hermann Park/Rice University MetroRail station I took a picture of the station as I got nearer. As you can see, there is no train here, but there are a fair number of people waiting around for it. It's about 2:40pm. This doesn't bode well.

Some official type person said that the train was delayed because they drastically underestimated how many people would be interested in checking out the train, so it was still down at the transit center where they were showing it earlier. She handed me some brochures (I got lots of stuff today - maps, safety guides, the Metro transit plan, a squeezy foam replica train, and an activity book for kids) and said that the train would be on its way shortly. In the meantime, I decided to look around the stop and take some pictures.

Continue reading "metrorail, pt. 2" »

October 30, 2003

hella fresh

Mark Pilgrim has a new redesign of the front page of dive into mark. It's very, very cool...


So Houston Metro is finally testing the trains up in my neighborhood. Apparently they've been testing them down by the Astrodome for a few weeks now. I heard the first one go by my apartment building on Monday evening (it's pretty quiet, but they've had automobiles with sirens running alongside right now, probably because drivers aren't used to seeing trains on the street in Houston) but didn't see one of the trains until last night. The stations aren't completed yet, but they're getting close. I went out over the last couple of nights and took some pictures, and last night I finally managed to see and get a few blurry photos of one of the trains. Looks pretty cool. I'm excited to see light rail come to Houston.

Continue reading "metrorail" »

October 24, 2003

meaty goodness

Tech diva and poster girl Xeni Jardin posted a short list of links over at the collaborative blog Boing Boing. My fave is Eat Bunny. She also posted a link to Meat Shake, which is the fake website that Ugly Duckling put up to advert their latest album out on Emperor Norton. UD always puts out some fun hip-hop - less cursing, more upbeat, generally more fun than most groups. Check them out...

August 23, 2003

gradewrecker 3.4.1

The other procrastination tool I've been using is Nethack. I finally ascended a monk the other day. It makes only the second win in six years of playing this game. I think I used eleven wishes, genocided thirty-two types of monsters, wished for two artifacts (the Eye of the Aethiopica and the Orb of Fate), was vegetarian, weaponless, and never changed form. And of course, the correct altar was the last one I chose, so I killed Death twice, Pestilence once, and Famine once. Mostly I relied on the priests to summon hordes of insects to surround me and keep away the Riders while I slogged my way to the altars. Two character classes down, only eleven to go... at this rate I should ascend all the classes by the time I'm sixty.

August 20, 2003

ways to procrastinate

I've found lots of ways to procrastinate. I am getting work done, but slowly. Anyway, here are some very cool things you should check out:


  • Jen Wang's fine Disney/manga hybrid tale, Strings of Fate is set against a backdrop of Chinese mythology come to life. Very well drawn, and quite a good story as well...
  • John Allison's amazing comic, Scary Go Round is consistently hilarious and has some very bizarre story arcs. Check it out now, and don't let the Krakkagar get you!
  • R. Steven's comic, Diesel Sweeties is one of the original pixellated wonders of the world.
  • Vera Brosgol's comic, Return To Sender has a tremendously cool premise. I won't spoil it for you here.
  • Also good, but behind the Modern Tales wall, are Paradigm Shift (set in Chicago!), Oddjobs (also set in Chicago!), Vicious Souvenirs, and Outside the Box. Most have free samples, so you can go to the Modern Tales website and check them out.

I am also cooking a lot. I am not cleaning enough (you can barely see any horizontal surfaces in my apartment) but the kitchen is clean (usually) and I like spending time in there. Recent test recipes:

  • shiitake-parmesan risotto (it's freaking $16/pound for Parmeggiano Reggiano)
  • pan-seared sea scallops
  • pan-seared tuna steak with balsamic honey glaze

I am still trying to perfect the art of the dumpling. Mine are pretty good, but I feel that I am missing something...

June 25, 2003


I do have some as a result of soccer, but really I only mention raspberries because I've been smelling them all day. This is a result of having a raspberry lambic spilled on my shoe last night at the Gingerman, which is the second time that a Gingerman employee has spilled beer on me. I think they're out to get me, but at least they're spilling good beer on me and not something crappy.

April 11, 2003

bringing home the bacon

Sometime this afternoon, I'll be heading off to the butcher. I'm literally going to be bringing home the bacon. Tonight, my friends and I will attempt to cross yet another culinary boundary by making...

Wait for it...

chicken-fried bacon.

I imagine I'm going to need to get a reasonably thick cut piece, which isn't something you can find in your average grocery store. I also imagine I'm going to need to get my arteries scraped after eating it. This should be interesting...

March 28, 2003

random musings

I can't believe that people expected this war to be a cakewalk. I'm still standing by my statement that it will be over soon, but apparently my idea of soon is different from what everyone else thought. I figured it would be two or three months. In the context of war, that's really fucking fast. Granted, I think we're going to have a large number of troops over there for a decade or so, but the actual fighting will probably be over by the end of June.

About the only good thing to come of this so far is the mounting political backlash against the neo-con hawks that are currently in power here in the US. So far it amounts to growing evidence that Cheney and Rumsfeld are idiots. If they wanted this war so badly, they should have let the Pentagon generals decide how to fight it instead of second guessing them and relying on the non-existent Iraqi uprising. The so-called Powell Doctrine (the one about war, not foreign affairs) appears to be correct again. Which in a sense, has been true back to the days of Sun-Tzu. Rumsfeld's plan for this war has gone against all logic as dictated by ages of military history, and the brass at the Pentagon has said so from the beginning. Makes you wonder why anyone is listening to him still.

I'm still having problems with CoreAudio. I have one more thing to attempt, and then I'm downgrading my software. In the meantime, here's the mp3 of the last show. My favorite part is the second hour - electro and old-school. The mixing kind of blew, but the tunes kick ass.

I think Texas (or Houston, at least) has an off-by-3-months problem. The mayflies came out in February, and the junebugs are here in March.

March 20, 2003

war and more

So I guess we're at war. Sort of. It's not officially a war until Congress says so, I believe. Anyway, I hope the troops come back safe. I don't think this war makes much sense - there are good reasons for it, and good reasons against it, but no clear explanation of why we're in it against popular opinion, and why popular opinion is against this war. I think popular opinion could actually have been for this war if diplomatic efforts had been handled properly. But instead, we got the bad cop/bad cop duo of Rumsfeld and Cheney ruining any efforts at diplomacy by Powell. And the puppethead president Bush. Sheesh.

At least one good thing is going to Iraq. Optimus Prime.

I know I there are some issues with CoreAudio still. I'm hammering them out. If nothing eventually works, I guess I'm going to be forced to downgrade my software... mp3s from the last couple of shows:

March 17, 2003

archaic units

I was reading this article on obesity and found this link to calculate some ratio that indicates whether or not you're overweight (personally, I think most people know whether or not they're overweight).

The units are in fucking stones. Who in the hell weighs themselves using stones? Should I be measuring my height in cubits? Granted, they have a metric version, but still...


February 5, 2003

miss elaine-y

Soul Fire Records. Get Funk. Live Longer.

Conspiracy theories about electronic voting machines - for the record, I agree with them, but I'm not sure that violations have already occured. Although I suppose it wouldn't surprise me.

Apparently people will do anything to make money.

More nuclear brinksmanship.

Ali Davis of True Porn Clerk Stories fame has written an article in Salon about outsourcing rejection.