Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brave Sir Robin

(From Monty Python's Holy Grail)

Bravely bold Sir Robin
Rode forth from Camelot.
He was not afraid to die,
Oh brave Sir Robin.
He was not at all afraid
To be killed in nasty ways.
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin.

He was not in the least bit scared
To be mashed into a pulp.
Or to have his eyes gouged out,
And his elbows broken.
To have his kneecaps split
And his body burned away,
And his limbs all hacked and mangled
Brave Sir Robin.

His head smashed in
And his heart cut out
And his liver removed
And his bowls unplugged
And his nostrils raped
And his bottom burnt off
And his pen--

"That's... that's enough music for now lads,
*** there's dirty work afoot*** ???."

Brave Sir Robin ran away.
Bravely ran away away.
("I didn't!")
When danger reared it's ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
("I didn't!")
And gallantly he chickened out.

****Bravely**** taking ("I never did!") to his feet,
He beat a very brave retreat.
("all lies!")
Bravest of the braaaave, Sir Robin!
("I never!")

Friday, November 20, 2009

Meat Suit

"Now to go find some seasonings and a nice warm barbecue..."

It just doesn't get any better than that. Mmmm, MEAT suit. That's the perfect thing to wear to the mall during the busy holiday shopping season. Bring forth the MEAT!!!!

Update 11/21/09 - Okay, I guess there's more meat-wear out there, like tie-fillets and bacon shoes:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My Brother's New Valves

Update 9/18/2009 - My brother's surgery went well. He's off the heart/lung machine and his heart is beating on its own, and he's breathing on his own now too. I finally got to see him this morning, and all things considered, he's looking great! He's a little drugged up right now, but he seemed to recognize me, and even joked around a little bit. The doctors were a little concerned about some bleeding, but that seems to have lessened enough that it doesn't look like he needs to go back into surgery. With all that we've heard thus far, everything is apparently looking good.


Last month, I heard some frustrating news: my youngest brother is having to go into have open heart surgery, to replace a couple of leaky valves. This is the second such operation he's had, and the third time he's had his chest opened. It just doesn't seem fair! At least he seems to be taking it well, and is determined to get through this. His surgery is in a couple of weeks, and I'll be flying there to visit him while he recovers.

This is essentially what he's having done:

The aorta will be cut away, and replaced with one of these:

Note that the aorta isn't simply a tube, but rather a tube with a valve on one end, and a couple of coronary artery attachments. I can't imagine how they swap this tube in, and get everything hooked up, but I guess this type of surgery has been around for a long time.

While they are in there, they'll also be replacing his mitral valve with one of these:

He actually already has one of these mitral valves from 6-7 years ago, but they are going to replace it, because it is leaking. Dang. Hopefully this is the last one of those he has to replace! In case you don't know where the mitral valve is in the heart, here it is in relation to everything else:

Anyway, I'm hoping he gets through this, and has a speedy recovery, so he can get back to "normal" life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WPF Screensaver Template

I was searching for a way to add a line over the top of my toggle button in WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), and came across this nugget. Apparently you can download the provided VS2008 template, and create a WPF based screensaver! With all the cool things built into WPF/Silverlight, I imagine this could be very useful. I'm thinking something with lots of Mountain Dew cans, and maybe my mug floating around the screen...

I haven't tried the template yet, but I definitely downloaded the screensaver example given there. Oooooooo purple. Actually, if you look at it, it's a crappy screensaver: constantly bright in the middle, dark on the edges, but it is cool. I've heard that monitors don't really need screensavers anymore, so maybe it doesn't matter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Parking FAIL

Last Sunday, while I was on the phone with my boss, and rapidly writing new software, there was a crashing sound from somewhere outside. Shortly afterwards, my oldest daughter came running into the house, and said there was a car in our front lawn. Indeed there was:

We all go outside to see what is going on. There's already a bunch of neighbors running towards the car from all different directions, and in the car is a dazed looking woman. At first I thought she was unconscious, but I think was just in shock. She then gets out her cell phone (or was it out the whole time?), and starts talking to someone in an asian-sounding language (definitely not Japanese, but outside of that, I couldn't tell you).

I'm still trying to understand HOW this car ended up mangled in my lawn, when I realize this car is from the neighbors across the street. I look across the street and see this:

Okay, now I'm even more confused. It appears the garage door on their house is completely mangled (much like the car), so it's fairly obvious who hit who. Now I'm just wondering how the whole thing played out. Since the only real witness to the accident was in shock, and speaking a language I didn't understand, I'm left with simple speculation. Here's what I think happened:

The car was sitting in the driveway. This woman, and 3 passengers (we found this out later from some teenagers who were down the street when it happened - the passengers ditched the car after the crash) got into the car. The driver started the car, and put it into drive instead of reverse, and stepped on the gas. After slamming into the garage, she panicked, threw it in reverse, and put the pedal to the metal. The car shot out into the street, spun around once (again, the teenagers told us this part, but who knows), and landed in our yard, backwards.

The police arrived, along with an ambulance and a fire engine. The firemen cleared the car (no fire - no imminent explosion), the paramedics carted the woman off, and about an hour later a tow truck got the car, and everything returned to normal.

I never heard any more about the woman's condition, but she seemed to be okay except for a bloody nose, and a little headache. I did ask one of the neighbors from that house about her later that evening, but they didn't know anything yet either. I hope she's all right.

Now, here's what amazes me: neither of our cars, parked in the driveway DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from their driveway, were hit. The car parked in front of our neighbors house, on the street, was not hit. The grass was not uprooted, and near as I can tell, the sprinklers were undamaged. Where normally there are kids in the street, there were none (except the teenagers way down the other end of the street), and I was not mowing the lawn, like I would have been had my boss not called!

Not sure who was responsible for all that luck, but thank you!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

XM Radio is In the Car!!

Since I got my new car, which has an XM radio in it, I've been listening to a lot of cool new hard rock. One of my favorite stations is one called Octane. They play a lot of new hard rock, and some old stuff. I keep hearing new hard rock songs I've never heard before, but I just LOVE. Some of the bands that are new to me that I'm really digging:
  • Godsmack
  • Drowning Pool
  • Sevendust
  • Slipknot (Psychosocial!!!)
  • Disturbed (Perfect Insanity!!)
Just awesome. Of course, sometimes they get on a playlist of grunge crap, and I have to switch. Since XM and Sirius are now one company, I also get Hair Nation, which is a station that plays 80's hair band rock! Man, I had forgotten about:
  • Krokus
  • Firehouse
  • Dokken
  • Tesla
  • Skid Row
  • Twisted Sister
  • Cinderella
  • Mötley Crüe
  • Ratt
  • Poison
  • KiLLeR DWaRfS (WTF?)
Sweeeeet!! Then there's Liquid Metal which mostly plays Death Metal, but every so often, they switch around and play a specific genre, or even a specific band. The month of April, it was ALL Metallica ALL THE TIME!! That was friggen awesome, and I got to hear stuff I've never heard before. I wish they'd do a run with Megadeth, but that would just be too perfect.

There are other stations I'll listen to on occasion. When I'm in a certain mood, I'll switch over to the 40's station, and swing with the big bands. When the kids are in the car, I'm listening to The 80s station. I don't care what you say, that was my era of music, and there's just a lot of stuff I like there. Yay, Cyndi Lauper is on!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pool Bird

Last weekend, our pool got warm enough to swim in, for the first time this year. Actually, it was just a bit cold at 67 degrees F, but after few hours of heating it was reasonable. As we were going through a short heat wave (in the 100s for a few days), it was the perfect time to go swimming, and get a not so healthy sunburn on our necks and backs! (oh yeah, sunscreen....)

Our pool, which was installed last year, is a new experience for us in many ways. Of course, there's the swimming, the diving, the breath holding contests, etc. This spring, however, we're discovering that it is also an attraction to the local wildlife.

A month or so ago, one of my daughter's found a ladybug nest on the side of one of the faux rocks. We got to see ladybugs in all stages of development, from cocoons, to yellow backed bugs, to red bugs, to red bugs with black spots. Very fun to watch!

However, we had no idea what was in store for us last weekend, as we all donned swimming gear, and took our first plunges into the water. Initially, it was just swimming pool mayhem, as we tried out all the things we learned last year, and discovered that there are some muscles that have been in disuse for far too long. I decided to turn on the waterfall, and sit under the grotto for awhile. I wasn't there for 30 seconds, before I turned around and saw what appeared to be a large paper wasp nest. The red arrow shows where I found it on our pool:

I immediately got the kids out of the pool, and asked my wife (who was not swimming at the time), to go fetch a bucket, a trowel, and some wasp poison. Looking closer at the nest, I realized that it wasn't a wasp nest at all, but a birds nest. Indeed, there didn't seem to be any wasps around, and the top appeared to be the only opening:

It appears that the architect of this nest used some of the blue fibers from an old trampoline cover we had last year (pre-pool), along with an assortment of twigs, and whatever the heck that stuff is that glues the nest to the rock.

It occurred to me that if this nest was in use, there was probably a very worried bird around somewhere, so I started scanning the yard. Sure enough, there was a single bird that was flying from the fence, to the rocks, to the other fence, and back again:

(yeah, I know - crappy video). My first thought on seeing the bird was, "What the heck kind of bird is that?" We went into the house, and dug out our copy of A Guide to Field Identification of BIRDS of North America, and started flipping through the pages. We realized fairly quickly that we had no clue where to start in the book, and needed a picture of this bird to help us make the identification:

We still weren't having much luck identifying the bird using the book, so that's when I decided to hit the internet. I immediately came across a website called, which allows you to search for a bird by entering characteristics.

Each time you enter a new characteristic (bill length, bird size, wing shape, etc), the list of bird possibilities shortens. Once I got this list down to about 10 different birds, I had to step through each one until I found a picture and description that fit our mama bird. Apparently, this bird is called a Black Phoebe. The description even reads "Preferred habitats include shady areas near water, streams, ponds, and lakes..." which certainly fits our bird!

Since last weekend, we've managed to put a mirror up to the nest (without touching the nest, of course), and verify that there are three little eggs in there. Yesterday (Saturday), I'm fairly certain that I heard OTHER bird voices coming from the nest, and mama bird has been EXTREMELY busy tending the nest. I wonder how long until the baby birds come out? I hope they don't fall in the pool!

At least it wasn't a Coin Bird!!

Update 4/28/2009: Found this while trying to figure out how long until the birds are hatched. Looks like it might only be a week or two before the babies take flight, and then the birds may lay another set of eggs! Cool!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photoshopped Sound?

A friend of mine turned me onto the, to look at what this guy has done in his sound processing experiments.

Using a product called Photosounder, he turns normal recorded sounds into bitmap images, and then tweaks them in Photoshop. He then re-loads the image in Photosounder, and saves them back as a digital sound file. The results are very interesting, to say the least! The picture shown here is a piano riff run through Photoshop's "Liquefy" filter. The photo is cool, and the sound is ... um ... liquidy?

Check out these links:

Original blog entry

Other examples of photoshopped sounds

The blog itself is a wealth of cool articles, especially for those of you that have ever played with a real synthesizer (oh, and for those of you that actually own your own music studios - you know who you are!) Most articles are equipped with an mp3 link that plays the sound being discussed, so its a very sensory experience I think you will enjoy.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Windows 7 Beta

Holy Crap, Windows 7 is coming out? I'm still using WinXP, does that mean I'll never have to use Vista? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Honestly, as much as I've heard about Vista, I'd rather not ever use it, so it's definitely fine by me, assuming Windows 7 is an improvement. Still, I'll probably hold out with Windows XP as long as I possibly can. The day the games I play "require" a new operating system, is the day I'll switch, and not a day before.

The thing is, I love Windows XP. It was the first time I switched to a new operating system, and found everything working, and happy. I can find stuff where it's *supposed* to be, and it's even pretty quick doing stuff. The only time it's ever crashed on me is when I've done something crazy, and probably deserved some pain. Heck, it's even treated me better than Mac-OSX did when it first came out. Anyone who will tell you that Mac's don't crash, is full of it.

Okay, so I guess I'd better see what Windows 7 (what, no clever catch-phrase?) is all about. Click the link above if you want to join me, and I'll meet you there.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Yews the Fours, Lewk!

Wow, if this really works, that could satisfy one of my "Bucket List" items. Seriously, I can't tell you how many times I spent as a kid trying to move objects with my mind. I always felt like it should be possible, and yet was never successful. I also spent a lot of time with those ESP cards trying to read circles and wavy lines from the mind of my next door neighbor.

This toy apparently uses EEG signals from your brain to modify the airflow beneath a ping pong ball in a tube. If you get it just right, the ball moves up. If you get it wrong, a high voltage surge of electricity punishes you, and you go unconscious. At least I think that happens.

Anyway, the boy in the picture seems to think that his brainwaves shoot out his hand, which is pretty funny. That said, I probably would also use hand gestures to give the appearance of "The Force", because that's just too cool! Look out Obi-Wan and Yoda, here I come!