Month: December 2007

TMI #113

Wow, this is comparatively tame but here goes. Some of the TMI’s just take too much effort for me to answer so I don’t bother. But this one is fairly easy to do so here goes.

1. Are you and early shopper or a late shopper?

Late, not so late that I’m running around on Saturnalia eve trying to find a gift. But my shopping is very simple anyhow so I can get away with that.

2. What is your favorite cartoon (current or passed)?

Currently my favorite is Non Sequitur. The humor that Wiley includes in that strip is just too good. Past includes Calvin & Hobbes and Bloom County.

3. On a scale of 1-10, how competent are you on home repair projects?

I’m a 10. Plumbing, electrical, painting/patching are things at which I’m very good. Even car repair. I’m not afraid to take things apart, I think that’s what makes me good at these things. I’ve fixed leaky faucets, soldered in copper piping, put in PVC drain pipes, wired up rooms, etc. I credit having worked in a hardware store (NHD) for six years with encouraging me to learn about all those things.

4. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

The tree. I haven’t had a live tree in lots of years but decorating the fake is so much fun. And the lights, I love the lights. I don’t like them all monochrome, no they have to be spectroscopic in color.

5. Describe your favorite kiss? Do you give it or receive it?

Oh that has to be the time Keyron started kissing me very softly, lips, neck, the whole nine. I won’t say what that lead to but you can use your imagination.

Bonus (as in optional):What is the best holiday gift you have ever gotten? Best you’ve given?

That’s easy. I was 14 years old and got my first computer, a TRS-80 Model I, Level I. Been hooked ever since. Friends had Apple II’s, OSI Challenger IIP’s, Commodore PET, and TI-99/4a machines.

Best gift I’ve ever given, that’s this year, a 1.5kt diamond ring. And no, it’s not mined diamond but man made. And it isn’t cubic zirconium, it’s real diamond. Put it this way, a 1.5kt mined diamond ring would cost me $5K or so. Got this one for $900 and most of the is the cost of the gold in the ring.

Megachurch shooting details

We’re seeing more details filtering out about the shooter at the two church sites in Colorado. Turns out Matthew Murray was a home schooled and deeply religious person.

We now know he was kicked out of Youth With a Mission, but why was he kicked out? I’ll be very interested to see that published.

All I can say is that I feel religion is a pox upon humanity. Isn’t it always the case the the ultra-religious are the ones who bounce off the wall and come back killing people?

It’s funny, I left a comment on a YouTube video about racism. Someone else mentioned hating because of religion but I’m going to take an argument that some religious have used against gay people and turn it back at them.

I don’t consider myself racist. I know that black people have darker skin because of genetic sequence changes due to environment.Or that Asians have different eyes because at one point there was a genetic advantage to not having the fold of skin.

But I reserve my scorn for religion and the religious. You choose a religion, or it’s chosen for you by your parents in the case of Catholicism. As such it deserves no respect from me.

In other words what I’m trying to say here is keep your religion to yourself, though I’d ultimately like to see the world freed from religious tyranny.

Why? Why? Why did I have to be the Cookie Monster?

You Are Cookie Monster

Misunderstood as a primal monster, you’re a true hedonist with a huge sweet tooth.

You are usually feeling: Hungry. Cookies are preferred, but you’ll eat anything if cookies aren’t around.

You are famous for: Your slightly crazy eyes and usual way of speaking

How you life your life: In the moment. “Me want COOKIE!”

Actually I understand the hedonist with a sweet tooth part. That’s me. I want the best and I’m willing to pay to get it. But what I’ve often found is the best can be had for relatively little money. That’s the good part.

As for living life in the moment, that sort of fits but I am ambitious so that sort of negates that.

Getting the lead out

A few weeks ago I was at Providence Geeks and I noticed that when we were working with solder, a few of the guys were hyper paranoid about lead exposure.

The other day it hit me, some of those people live in areas served by the Providence Water Supply Board. In essence they supply all the water to the entire urban ring around Providence with the exception of Pawtucket. I know that Providence, Johnston, North Providence and Cranston use the PWSB. They also wholesale water to Lincoln, Smithfield, East Providence, Warwick and Bristol. In essence the entire populated area of the state.

If they do, there’s an awful lot of lead piping in the system. So much so that PWSB has been engaged in a massive project to strip out lead feeders to homes and replace them with PVC. For an additional fee they’ll bring the connection right up to the house. For now they stop at the curb.

Anyhow the lead exposure from that is probably significantly higher than from soldering with rosin core solder.

Not that precautions shouldn’t be taken, I’m just adding a little perspective to the mix.

The Golden Compass upsets the Catholics Again

Seems that the Reverend Giacomo Capoverdi doesn’t like the use of the word “magisterium” to represent the evil in the movie The Golden Compass. Thus far critics have panned the movie and I believe they’re actually correct. But this letter from the good Reverend appeared in the Providence Journal today.

Giacomo Capoverdi: Another anti-Catholic film

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 9, 2007

Surprise, surprise! Hollywood has done it again. An anti-God, anti-Catholic film is about to hit the big screen just in time for one of the most sacred holy days for Christians, the celebration of the birth of Christ.

The movie, The Golden Compass, directed by Chris Weitz and released by New Line Cinema, has hit theaters. The film is based on Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials. In this film the good guys are witches and the bad guys are an evil group of people in power, called The Magisterium. There is no other definition for the word Magisterium than the teaching authority and hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

I would argue that if a script for a movie were presented to Hollywood that had as its villains an evil ruling class called The Homosexuals or The Feminists it would be branded homophobic, a hate crime or sexist, and never see the light of day. Yet, when Catholics are targeted and maliciously portrayed, Hollywood applauds and calls it artistic, enlightening and inspiring. What’s wrong with this picture?


Who is targeting Catholics? I love how he had to drag homosexuals and feminists into his argument as counterpoints. The funny thing is I seem to remember seeing this exact same letter in other newspapers.

I wonder, do the priests in the Catholic church have something better to do? Look at Rev. John Codega. He’s the guy that got up at the Marriage Equality hearing last year and stated that marriage must be protected. When pressed to explain what it needed to be protected from Codega couldn’t expand on his argument.

So Capoverdi is pulling the same thing. Just repeat the same thing over and over again until it becomes the truth. Hmm, is that how Christianity got started?

Tool Time

I finally decided now that I’m head first enough into the electronics hobby to get a circuit board vise. Picked up a Panavise 308 vacuum base and a 315 Circuit Board Vise. This is what it looks like with a board clamped in and ready to rock.

To the left you see the two new pairs of needle nose pliers I picked up. Grand total for the entire haul was $45 from A&J Distributors. My old needle nose pliers are hopelessly out of alignment so I thought for $10 or so I’d pick up two new ones.

Also got some more hookup wire from Sparkfun. Turns out I’m pretty much using almost all of mine among three solderless breadboards. The Arduino and Bare Bones Board really sparked my interest in electronics again. Having the intelligence for projects pretty much pre-built helps a lot.

I think the thing that really drew me towards the Arduino and its clones is that there’s a local community there to help. Don’t get me wrong, the Make Board looks awesome but it is nearly five times the price of the Arduino or seven times the price of the Bare Bones Board. This meant that because of the higher cost there’s a smaller community using the Make platform.

Don’t get me wrong, someday I’ll pickup a Make board since it has a load of IO ports on it. No, not Captain Io, or Io the moon of Jupiter, but Input/Output.

I have so many ideas for projects though. One of the things I need to build is some way for the doorbell to be portable. The more I think about that the more I think and RF based doorbell would be nice, but a really nice one would be to ring the phones. I just so happen to have a ring generator laying around and it’d be perfect for this project.

The way I see it I’d have to first put the phone line into a hold state, then seize the pair and shoot a ring patter down the line at 90VAC 20Hz with a unique cadence. It’d be a little rude to callers so I’d probably do a music on hold type of arrangement.

And so goes feature creep.

So when I got home with my new tools, my phone rings. It’s Anthony at A&J Distributors. Seems they overcharged me by a significant amount so he credited me the difference on my card. In most places if they made a mistake in their favor you’d probably never know.

That’s why I love doing business with the folks at A&J Distributors. I’ve never had an occasion where I’ve stopped into the store and they didn’t have what I was looking for and this latest incident just cements in my mind that I’ll always do business with them so long as I’m in Rhode Island. Come to think of it, I’ve been doing business with them for pretty much as long as I’ve had my amateur radio license, and I was licensed in 1992 so that makes it fifteen years now, and if all goes well I’ll be doing business with them for another thirty or so years.

Desoldering Fun and more!

To begin with forgive me for just linking the photos, they’re rather high-resolution and don’t display properly on this site.

So I finally got up the gumption to de-solder the header pins I’d inadvertently soldered onto the wrong side of my Bare Bones Board (An Arduino Clone).

Here we have a bit more than half the pins removed from the board:

The correct side of the board (That from which the headers shall project once I get the new headers.) is a bit scorched but the headers will cover that nicely.

Alas all pins have been removed:
All Gone

And this is the aftermath:
The pins

I’m having lots of fun sharpening up my soldering skills. I do need to be some new needle nosed pliers, and a local electronics store has the suction mount base and board holding clamp for short money so I’ll head by there tomorrow. They’ve also got inexpensive soldering stations and my old soldering iron has seen some better times so I think I’ll get one of those too.

But this isn’t an all electronics post. Keyron finally bought me something I’d been asking for, a woolen winter cap with ear flaps. With those and a scarf there are roughly two inches of exposed skin in the freezing cold. The long underwear is next.
Me and my ear flaps

Can’t wait to go down south for Saturnalia/Christmas either. Get to stay with Keyron’s family. I don’t foresee any problems since his family stayed here with us back in May when Keyron graduated from college. I got along with all of them so I don’t think we’ll have any issues.

Now playing: Jamie Foxx – Wish U Were Here
via FoxyTunes

The Bush Administration won’t stop beating the Iran drum

Found this Yahoo News article. In essence, it says that while Iran stopped developing nukes in 2003, they’re still generating enriched uranium.

This could have very much to do with the type of nuclear reactors they’re using. And btw, what you run in nuclear reactors of any kind is enriched and separated U235. It seems that U235 is much more fissile than natural U238. And if you compose your fuel rods of mostly U235 with some U238 you’ll get one byproduct from the U238 being bombarded with neutrons, Plutonium 239 (Pu239). Got the info here.

For more on how a nuclear reactor works click here.

Ok, enough on the physics and how stuff works. The Bush administration is essentially employing the FUD factor on this one. Any country that has any nuclear reactors has Pu239 and that can either be re-run in the reactor, or used for nuclear weapons.

So why aren’t we going after Egypt? Oh I know, there isn’t much oil in Egypt. Well, at least we’re told there isn’t.