Storypost | 2009.04.20

Bird fruit eastern art

This past Friday I was honored with my first piece of original art. My old boss came over with his family for some steaks and wings, his wife brought along an awesome Japanese-style painting. (And I did in fact straighten the frame after taking the photo.)


This weekend involved a lengthy circuit of the county. Jes and I stopped by the animal shelter only to be disappointed by the overabundance of abandoned PB dogs (pit bulls) and purse dogs. I snagged some extra lumber for a weekend project, maybe Sunday during the f1, gp, and sbk events. Basically those beams will go up on the wall in the garage. The plywood will lay over them and be bolted on - rather than wood screwed - so that it's easy to remove and reattach. In this way, I can easily add and rearrange climbing grips that will go on the plywood.

I have to establish whether or not the plywood is appropriate for the job, and if this proves to not be the case it'll go over the exposed walls in the side room. The garage will accommodate a modest traversal section, which is a great first step. And apparently toproping is for noobs.

Coaxial cable audio adapter

Another stop was Fry's. Awhile back I rigged some coax-rca connections because my audio signal was encountering interference between the tv and amp. Those will now have clean connections and maybe later I'll do shielded wires for each of the speakers. That'll depend highly on a clean coax-bare wire connector.

Command and Conquer Red Alert barricading

Red Alert 3 was knocked down to a bargain price, so grabbed a copy.
Screenshot Command and Conquer Red Alert explosion

DIY surfboard rack

Today Jon picked up the Costco foamy I've been meaning to get. It'll be good for noobs and visitors.
Oh and the old patent app I worked on is finally listed.

Clippy Microsoft Assistant

Storypost | 2009.04.16

Pool illuminated night above

The pool light switch was backward. It broke the common so I was getting power to the light even with the switch open. That resolved, my sweet led bulb is working its magic at a whopping 2.75 watts, compared to the 500 watt incandescent I pulled out.

The long life of led is nice, considering the complexity of the fixture around it. The pure white color goes well with the bright white epoxy coating on the pool. And it's bright too, the above image is pretty close to how it looks, and it's currently directed at the wall. Hopefully tomorrow Jon will brave the cold to affix it, Rabot keeps getting entangled.

So as soon as we get a little more warm weather, there'll be parties that can go well into the evening at RFQ Memorial Pool.
Mother, Jon, Curt, and I braved the Settlers/Seafarers/Cities and Knights combination. The game duration was a mere two hours, though there was little seafaring. We only played to thirteen, which may have been a bit small on account of the extra terrain tiles. It was all made phenomenal by my Auntie Kathy's delicious chili.


Ian said he wanted to go riding then went back to bed.

[Crossing the I-8 CBP inspection point] Better hide Ty.

Screwmosas at Pizza Port in 45 minutes... be there or suffer my wrath.

I didn't realize crosswords haunted your dreams.

Someone's fishing for quotes to put on their blog... eat nards!

Storypost | 2009.04.12

Honda dirt bike Plaster City Southern California

Wednesday was Settlers night. There was great anticipation as we finally cracked open Cities and Knights. The expansion adds considerable complexity to the game, it's a little intimidating at the outset, but is great for playability. The development capabilities in the expansion add quite a few options up front, but they also change as progress is made. I am simultaneously excited for- and fearful of the inevitable Settlers/Seafarers/Cities stratorgy.

Settlers of Catan table beers wine game night

Connie won. I was a couple resources from a last-to-first comeback when I handed the dice to her. Jon was held at twelve of thirteen victory points for a few rounds when his dominance was (at last) recognized. Curt was not far from the finish either. On account of our newbiness to the expansion, the lack of a dominant force/quick winner, and some very 'contemplative' turns, it took five hours to resolve the victor of Catan. That meant 02:30 on a school night. It never really dragged, unlike Risk or Axis where you can finish a pint before your opponent has decided which three territories he'll invade.

I burned about a quarter of my amputated overhang that night. The wood was particularly poppy and there wasn't a shortage of embers on the wood floor. No housefires or burn marks on the highly laminated (not laminate) surface.
I stopped by Dixieline's home furnishings showroom because their kitchen and bath selection is pretty good. I was optimistic, Home Depot just doesn't have much variety and any store that specializes in such fixtures is overpriced and/or requires install. My original goal was to find a pedestal sink that would mesh well with the tight confines of the downstairs bathroom.

Unfortunately the only inspiring ones were ultra modern, and that would clash pretty badly. I took a liking to the Xylem Essence and Europa vanities because they were very slim and had no cabinets. I liked the Essence more and could even tolerate the countertop vessel, but doing a wall-mounted faucet did not appeal. I settled on the Europa with a one-piece white china top.

Joe sold it to me, he didn't mind discussing the options with me and wasn't pushy, but unsurprisingly all of his knowledge seemed to come from the catalog.

It wasn't until the invoice was printed that I was informed there was a $100 handling charge. Joe seemed to expect unpleasantness and meekly suggested that it was offset by their 25% then 20% discounts (which I intuitively know means 45% off list price!). Anyway, that bs was enough to deter me from returning but I was still okay with the bottom line and went ahead with the order. Joe told me it'd arrive within a week.

Then Thursday I (Jon) called and was informed the sink top was back ordered and they should have originally told me two or three weeks. I cancelled the order and was told there would be a restocking fee but they'd try to get it waived because my arrival date was wrong. I pointed out they couldn't well charge me a restocking fee on something not in stock and made the impression that I wasn't going to put up with any more bs. Joe called me later to confirm.

Unfortunately, for future projects this leaves me with Home Depot and the internet. The former has limited supply, the latter offers only jpgs to suggest the quality and consistency of the merchandise.

Small bathroom renovation vanity

I headed over Expo to see if they were still open; the place is in the final stages of Circuit Citying. Selection was pretty limited, but they had a few vanities not unlike the Xylem one for a pretty good price. The only tops available were black glass, which I decided against based on style. I did snag an independent sink drain (rather than the one that comes with the faucet) and after the install I'm very happy with it. It's easier to install, looks better, and is of better construction.

Garage entertainment center crt tv audio

The final pull from Expo was a sturdy shelf probably used for stocking small items. Now it's holding up Rob's big ol' crt tv and the sound system pilfered from Casa Morelos. No more bleeding clutch cables without some tunes or Futurama dvds.

Honda dirt bike Plaster City Southern California unloading truck ramp

Today we took Jon's xr to Plaster City way out on 8. Ty attended, so did Erik and Ian with their big Hondas. The barbecue was a challenge to secure, but very clutch for the grilling of sirloin burgers.

Honda dirt bike Plaster City Southern California hills

The terrain was a significant contrast to the previous excursion, tight trails were replaced with 360 degree mobility, packed dirt was replaced with sand.

Honda dirt bike Plaster City Southern California jump

We navigated terrain, ran a small oval course, hill climbed, and did some jumping.

Honda dirt bike Plaster City Southern California

thumbnail Dirt bike helmet goggles thumbnail Dirt bike Honda 600R motion blur thumbnail Plaster City dirt bike Honda 600R jump thumbnail Plaster City dirt biking
thumbnail Dirt bike Honda 600R wheelie

Honda dirt bike Plaster City Southern California climbing hill

Review | 2009.04.05

The Fast and the Furious Dom Vin Diesel Fort GT40
Fast and Furious (6.3)

Rides (7)

Rides has finally been done right. The featured machines hail from many countries, decades, and backgrounds. Caymans, Camaros, Skylines, new Mustangs, M3s; the list is extensive because no car survives more than a fraction of the film.

The minor details are important, there aren't any Civics racing rx7s or Jettas racing s2000s. The drug runners use a traditional Hummer where many movies would have opted for the commercial H2 or H3. The cartel kingpin rolls in a 'rambo lambo' escorted by 90s-era Suburbans in lieu of the Escalade or late mode Suburban option.

But because Toretto and O'Connor go through so many rides in 99 minutes, there's no single car that's meant to capture the affection of the characters and audience. The first movie let us cheer for the Ferrari-beating Supra and salivate over the mythical Charger. This movie treats cars only as a means to an end, which isn't a sentiment shared by an audience that will suffer horrible writing and acting to see some fine steel - CR

A variety of different style cars. Small ones, big ones, big ones with engine things sticking out of the top, big tires... Oh, a Subbie wrx - word to the Subarus! They picked a cute hatchback version in lieu of the sedan, but they did keep the classic Subbie blue color. I can't complain, a little cuteness goes a long way.

Lots of recognizable street cars - Honda s2000, Porsche Cayman, black Hummer getaway car, and I believe the fake boss man was driving in a Lincoln limosine. - CS

Authenticity (3)

There wasn't much criteria in the realm of authenticity for this movie - Does nitro-meth exist? Does only one person in LA use it? Would it leave a burn mark for CSI: Vin Diesel to find? The rest of the issues are more a matter of being sensible. The tunnel we can estimate to be a half mile based on the time it take fast and furious drivers to race a quarter mile. This sort of feat can and has been accomplished in human history - though usually near a town and rarely matching the width of a car. What I really revel in is that they escape the heat sensor by recruiting fast cars/drivers. But once in the tunnel... underground, they have to drive enven faster to escape being seen by a helicopter. - JR

Are you serious? This is a movie! No such thing as authenticity. - CS

The story and dialog are on par with the FF series and any other speed night movie. The action sequences take quite a few liberties with physics and human cognition, but few bits are visually unauthentic (increased frame rate, poor cg). - CR

Chicas (7)

The producer of the fast and the furiouses has obviously made his living off of flashing half naked girls on the screen, this movie was more of the same - but with a latin twist. Especially nice was that they limited the amount of guys in the background to really - as we say in MBA school - maximize the hotness. The female leads had small parts: Letty dies, Mia has become a shut-in, and Agent Trinh is clearly stuck on O'Connor's friends ladder (only females have a friends ladder). Toretto is still a musclebound hothead who is suddenly finding his softer side. This may make some girls gush, I'm really not sure. This softer side also interferes with our chances of seeing Gisele take her gear off. - JR

It seems, in the previous FFs, the extras all came from one place: import car shows. This applies equally to the flamboyant Civics and the girls straddling them. With any amount of scrutiny it could be determined that they came from a very unappealing reality. Not so with Fast and Furious, despite a prevailing skank level reaching somewhere in the stratosphere, the eye candy is such even when in focus. -CR

No comment on the chicas. The tall, skinny villain gal's eye candy came across as anorexic, however, Jordana Brewster brings up the flesh category. The non-femmes are dominated by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, despite the Dilbert attire. A little less shirt would have been nice, but after all said and done, the initial scenes with Han did bump the non-femmes up a notch. - CS

One Liners (6)

'20% angel, 80% devil.' One word about how Vinnie looked when he said that: hot. Oh wait, that belongs in the flesh category... - CS

'You looked under my hood?' 'Now you owe me a ten second car' 'When the gps calls...' Plenty of one liners, both sensical and not. - JR

There are a few cute ones, 'Sorry, car.' There are a few that make fun of Paul Walker, 'Still a buster.' 'Buster's a gearhead.' And there are a few that are meant to sound in touch with the street racer scene, 'Meth nitrous is for pussies.' While the movie isn't quotially vacant, it's hard to live up to the quotability of the original. - CR

Action Sequences (7): Cars were crashed, but no more than what the Tokyo Drift kid did single handedly. - JR

I would give it a ten, but since I didn't get an A and CR did, it gets a 9.5. Full-on balls of fires action with exploding cars and leaky nitrous- what more could the dentist ask? The murder mystery added a good twist and actually gave the movie a story, complemented by some good ol' fashioned beat-him-to-a-pulp action sequences.

The villain guy, however, could have been a little more villiany. He came across like a smug smurf that forgot to eat his Wheaties. More evil, more tyranny was needed. Even Evil Green Car Driver Guy wasn't as mad as he was supposed to be. Mad Max would beat him in madness any day. However, I must say, the Dukes of Hazzard Vin Diesel revenge style was definitely appropriate.
Overall, the action was quite throttling and deserves a nice high score. - CS

Star Power (8)

They brought back the original crew. Apparently the first movie had more star power than initially assessed, as Vin Diesel definitely made the movie. It would not have been the same without him. Paul Walker definitely added star power, but he would have taken the limelight had he not worn a Dilbert suit 50% of the time. - CS

One of the main draws of Fast and Furious is that it reunites the core of the original cast. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez haven't risen to glorious Hollywood stardom in the last eight years, but their careers haven't languished either. It's great to see a cameo by Han, the most amiable character in the series. Walker is only distractingly bad on occasion and the female leads do a good job of portraying unsympathetic characters. I glanced at a review beforehand, it spoke disparagingly of Diesel's acting, claiming he comes across as tired and effortless. I actually saw this as understandable anguish that peaks at an excellent scene that is pointlessly destroyed by O'Connor's spontaneous make up sex with Mia. - CR

Storypost | 2009.04.01

Renovation media room couch sectional sound system polished concrete floor

There are a few wires to dispose of, all in due time. The couch is a bit off the wall to center its occupants more and provide a space for the woofer. Um and I'm terrible at pillowing couches.

Polished concrete floor

I brought the tripods home from my office so I had a bit more snapping liberty.

Renovation small bathroom toilet polished concrete floor

Dixieline was closed today, grumble. Still, I put the head back.

Wifi router on surf rack

Surf board rack with wifi. Duh.
Truth in 24 (6)

Truth in 24 Audi LeMans LMP1 pit stop

Rides (7):

The speed night mainstay is a powerful road car that features a wealth of modifications such as blowers, bottles, death proof roll cages, and chaingun turrets. The LeMans circuit is a departure, for sure, but not one that dances off into the fairly land of f1 and the lot where cars - to paraphrase Ferdinand Porsche - should win a race and then fall to pieces. Nay, LeMans racers have to run strong for a contiguous day and have been a testbed for the development plenty of commecial technology.

Truth in 24 showcases the fastest and least recognizable of the series, the prototype class. These machines are purely designed for function and tend to be a crap shoot for aesthetics. I would have found myself salivating considerably more had they focused on the classes that consist of 430s, 911s, S7s, Corvettes and the like. But that experience may have been ruined every time a LMP breezed by on the outside of a hairpin.

So while there's little variety or focus on the cars you might actually see in the parking garage at your local hospital, they look good, sound good, and require no increased frame rate or cgi to knock your socks off.

Authenticity (10)

It's a documentary. You can't get a whole lot more authentic without jumping formats. Of course I'm accepting the characterization of Peugot as evil. But if they weren't evil they wouldn't have made their cars looks so evil.

Femmes (0)

I think I spotted a few in the crowd. For something created by nfl films and shown on espn, I actually expected a few umbrella girls.

One Liners (7)

The authenticity and female content aren't a surprise, but the prevalence of quotables was a shocker. None are so cornball to be as memorable as 'danger to manifold' or 'my hand gernade', but they're excellent within the context of the story. The lecherous lead engineer of the Audi powerplant has a few, such as the observation that his turbo diesel is quiet and sexy, in contrast to the 'normal' perception of sexy as involving screaming. Shudder.

Then there are a few - often through thick accents - that draw a chuckle while you're watching, such as, 'Drive home like grandma'. And then the prophetic, 'It always rains at LeMans'.

Action Sequences (7)

I'll start with the 3/10ths empty part of the glass: no martial arts, Mexican stands-off, or nos explosions. The 7/10ths is a tasty blend of Fine Driving, high speed camera clips, mishaps, and flying cars. The carnage is actually Tetrised into the storyline so it doesn't feel like a nascar commercial. And most importantly, the movie draws on so many sources of footage that the coverage of the track, cars, pits, is very complete. It doesn't hurt that you can watch some impressive shots and know it wasn't cooked up by a supercomputer cluster or remotely control car.

Star Power (6)

Paul Newman and Steve McQueen show up in a few homage clips, the rest are racers.

Storypost | 2009.04.01

Now that the downstairs floor is done, the floodgates have opened.
I didn't have hot water for a couple days. The pilot went out, it would relight with the manual override button pressed but would wink out as soon as it was released. The internet said the termocouple was the likely culprit, it shuts off the gas when the pilot is cold for obvious reasons. I was happy to hear Depot carried Honeywell universal thermocouples.

No dice.

I called a repairman. He walked out five minutes later with the burner working and an empty generic thermocouple package in the trash. Stuff you, Honeywell, and your unnecessarily long 'universal' thermocouple that produces signal below my valve's threshold.

My blurry faced friend dropped by with his kid.

A couple fun one liners:

For some reason I'm attracted to bikes.

I love it when you take hallucinogens and help me pick fruit.

Anticipation is high for: