Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spore Creature Creator

I've been getting into the new Spore Creature Creator recently. I'm excited to see how the full game is when it comes out in about 6 weeks. Spore is designed by the Will Wright, who also designed "Sim City" - one of my favorite games

Anyhow, my nephew and I worked on this scorpion together today (and Dad suggested we make it black because he saw a scorpion on TV today that was black). We didn't know much about scorpions so I did a google image search to refine things a bit, especially to help get the posture and leg positioning right. Anyhow, here's what our scorpion creature looks like.

And while you're at it, check out this more "fun" creature just made with the Spore creature creator. Here's the the description:
"Born with his powerful supply of dilithium crystals, this little fellow explores strange new worlds, seeks out new life and new civilizations, and boldly goes where no man has gone before."

.. but you gotta click to see him.

Here's some of the other creatures I've been working on.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell on UFOs

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell on UFOs. I think the interviewer does a poor job of extracting specifics during the interview on British radio, but nonetheless another piece info for consideration.

19 tomatoes

19 tomatoes - it sounds like a drama - a secret stash with each tomato having it's own tale to tell, but no - they're all just normal vegetables that'll end up in my belly.

I went out and pulled 19 tomatoes off of our 2 Roma tomato plants this morning. We've been grabbing 2 or 3 at a time for a while now, but this is the first really big batch to be ready. I love slicing the Romas in half, salting the sides a bit and eating them that way. There are lots others out there that are just a day or two away also. It's about to the point where I really don't have to worry about running out.

We also have 1 cherry tomato growing, but it seems to want to come "in" later than the Romas. There are lots of green ones one it, but they're not ripening much - no reds one on it right now. I've had a handful of ripe cherry tomatoes so far this year, but the plant is just slower to develop.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Black Holes and Gravity

Interesting. I hadn't thought of this perspective regarding the same mass of a star and black hole, the small size of black holes allows for stronger gravity to be felt at very close distances.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Star Wars

This video has been watched over 8.2 million times on YouTube. It's a 3 year old's movie review of Star Wars.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Volume level and compression in recordings

I was listening to CDs the other day as I spent most of the day building a solar oven (more on the solar oven later).

I probably listened to 8 CDs or so, and I happened to notice the difference in volume levels and compression present in recent recordings vs. older recording. In particular I was rocking out to Abba - yes it can be done - and the dynamics in the music were considerably wider than that present in today's music.

Even the "quiet" parts of today's tunes have an overall loudness far in excess of even the loudest choruses in music from 20-30 years ago. The net result is that most of today's music starts out almost clipping (in the red) and stays there for almost the entire album. I actually like the big loud compressed sound of today's music in doses, but over the course of an album it's fatiguing on the ears. The choruses can't get louder than the verses - everything starts of as loud as it can possibly be.

It reminded me a little bit of what Stevie Ray Vaughan meant in a comment about how he tried too hard to have a big show - wanted to blow everybody's socks off.... He couldn't do it. To make the music work he had to just let it come to him nice and easy. He couldn't rush the blues for it to work. In a similar way it's like today's music is trying too hard to impress me from the get go - hitting me in the face from the first measure and keep hitting until the album's over 45 minutes later.

When you get a chance put in some old CDs - stuff like Steve Miller, Abba, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison - and mix in with some newer stuff. You'll probably easily hear what I'm talking about. The older mixes have more room to breath. The newer mixes just come at you hard the entire time - even when they're trying to be quiet they're still amazingly loud.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Skyscrapers Dubai

Look at this impressive photo of Dubai taken from what will be the tallest building in the world. (hat tip to the Agitator).

I'm not sure if it's a real photo or artists interpretation (Not sure if the new skyscraper being built is that tall yet, but still - very cool photo.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just keep quiet

NYTimes: In China, those whose children die in school collapses during the earthquake call for an investigation. Some are arrested.

Nobody knows the grounds for his arrest, but many people have the same idea. Mr. Zhang said, “It may be because the schools collapsed, and so many children died.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boone Pickens Plan

Check out this energy plan by Boone Pickens. It's nice and even somewhat inspiring to see someone from the energy community coming forward with some productive alternatives other than "drill more oil."

Essentially he's saying to take the 22% of natural gas that currently goes to electric generation and replace it with wind power. Then move the natural gas to fuel vehicles. Here's a 4 minute video.

Here's a web page version of the business case.


As part of my efforts to lose as much money in the market as quickly as possible I posted another stunning success with my recent purchase of PRXI - Premier exhibitions. In less than 2 months I successfully lost just over 24% in this holding. To lock in my losses I made my sell today.

Who said markets were efficient? This academic exercise being tested in my portfolio is living proof of market inefficiency. Everything I buy is able to go down in value.

Happy investing to all. Next time I want to buy a stock I'm going to punch myself in the gut to remind myself of what I'm getting myself into. :-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Marcus Aurelius

I haven't posted a Marcus Aurelius quotation in a while.

More from Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations", Gregory Hayes' translation:

6.42 All of us are working on the same project. Some consciously, with understanding; some without knowing it…. Some of us work in one way, and some in others. And those who complain and try to obstruct and thwart things – they help as much as anyone. The world needs them all.
6.43 Does the sun try to do the rain’s work?

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emporer from 161-180 A.D. Read more from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Alright. I'm a nerd, but I went to see Pixar's new movie "WALL-E" the other day and I've gotta say it's one of the better movies I've seen.

That I wanted to go see the movie says something, because I "never" go to the movies voluntarily, but I'd seen a Wall-E trailer and something about it said this was a special kind of movie.

I can't put my finger on what made the story work so well, but I'm hard pressed to recall any movie where the main character's word count can be tallied on your fingers. Sci-Fi stories often can create a fresh perspective and that's part of the magic, but I think it's rare that a character's actions define almost everything that he is. Wall-E can't explain himself, so his actions have to do all of his talking, and in his actions we see our better selves. Perhaps the lack of dialogue allows us more freedom to interpret in our own way.

But underneath the story of a lonely robot, there's a deeper story of loss that resonates. I think a key observation that we see on multiple levels is that once something special is lost, no matter how hard we try we might not be able to get it back.

Bottom line. Go see this if you haven't. It'll make you a whole lot happy. It'll make you a little bit sad. It'll make you think a little bit too.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hookworms and Allergies

This is gross, but this study seems to indicate the hookworm infections seem to reduce allergic symptoms like asthma.

The idea is that allergies are a result of an immune system that is over-reactive, and something produced by the parasites helps suppress the immune response. As a side effect of the immune system attacking the worms less stridently, it also responds less to other allergens that make our eyes water, nose run, and airways contract.

The idea here is to try and figure out how the worms reduce the immune response, but many people say just give them a few worms and see no adverse effects. It's still seems gross though...