hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jan. 27th, 2012 09:12 am)
When my grandparents were children, centuries of war in Europe culminated in the "War To End All Wars." Less than a decade before my parents were born, the Second World War ended when the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, killing thousands of civilians and poisoning the land for millennia to come. When I was growing up, the US and Russia were locked in a Cold War that threatened to destroy all life on Earth when the slightest misstep upset the delicate balance between the "super powers."

A few years before my oldest niece was born, the US, Russia, the European Union, and Japan came together in an unprecedented show of cooperation to build the International Space Station.

It still amazes me, for so many reasons. The bitter enemies of the past three generations (and more) working together to build something in the space above us all dedicated to peaceful cooperation and scientific research and advancement. It's the largest manmade structure in space, and if you know where and when to look you can see it fly through the night sky, bright as a star, with your naked eye.

Just stop for a minute and think about all that. It's awe-inspiring.

On to politics:

The ISS is the size a football field, took nearly 13 years to complete (begun in 1998, the last module was added just last year), houses a regular crew of 6, orbits Earth at less than 400km, and requires food and other supplies to be shipped up every few months.

Newt Gingrich wants to build a colony on the Moon in less than 8 years, housing thousands of people, without international help. The Moon's orbit is closer to 400,000km above us. A thousand times further than the ISS.That makes it far more difficult and far more expensive to send anything there (whether it be construction modules, people, or supplies).

Also, Gingrich wants it to be a purely American colony. Forget the huge step forward in peaceful international relations and scientific cooperation. Forget that we agreed that Antarctica (never mind the Moon) should be beyond the claims and petty rivalries of any country. We're going to make the Moon part of America. Screw everyone else, we're America and we're awesome and we're going to do it ourselves and claim the entire Moon as ours.

Think about that.

Okay, politics over. Here's NASA's page about the ISS. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

It's got all sorts of stuff. Live video from the station, videos of cool and important things that happened on the station, scientific research, an animation of how the station was assembled, and much more.
The Nantucket Gazette was a newspaper that existed in the 19th century. This year, someone decided to start it up again. Sort of. It's a free paper with one edition per year. The middle is the usual stuff you'd find in a free paper in tourist season: maps and an events calendar. The first and last few pages, however, are clippings from the original paper. Ads, silly columns, news stories, and other random things the current publishers thought would be interesting.

Someone offered a reward for any part of the piano lost at sea during a recent shipwreck. The paper advises, with great sagacity, a cure for cholera which, if you follow the instructions gives you... plain chicken broth. There's notice of people going around as living traveling exhibits - albinos from Europe touring the US and Native Americans touring Europe. Someone wants to sell a four year old cow "of the finest recommendations." Others are looking for an apprentice or a boy to work in the house. A listing of numbers from Paris claims there were 22,612 births, 8,976 of which were illegitimate. There's the story of a man in Berlin who died of starvation, was estranged from his brother (his only family) because he wouldn't pay for postage to mail him a letter, spent his evenings begging on the street... and was found to have 20,000 crown coins under his floorboards.

The one I found most interesting, however, is this:


The Washington Papers contain a discussion of the Drawing Rooms at the President's house. It appears that Mrs. Munroe has adopted a new arrangement in this business. Mrs. Madison was in the habit of returning all requests of visits of her company. With the great increase to the population of the city Mrs. Munroe cannot follow in the example of her predecessor. She has, therefore, very properly caused it to be announced that she cannot return calls made upon her.

The following arrangements have been arranged at the President's House:

Mrs. Munroe is at home in the morning to receive all those calls the Ladies of the District or strangers.

The President receives, the Head of Departments and Members of Congress &c. at all hours of the day, and strangers and citizens between one and two.

In these receptions there will be no display of unnecessary ceremony or etiquette but everything to prove that the attentions of their fellow citizens are grateful to their feelings and unostentatiously desired.

Nantucket December 27th 1817

So anyone could just wander over to the White House at the appointed time and drop in to chat with the President or First Lady. No formality. Just tell the President what's on your mind, have a little talk in the Drawing Room, and wander off about your day.

This a mere 5 years after the War of 1812 (not to be confused with Napoleon's invasion of Russia, in commemoration of which the cannon-blasting 1812 Overture was written), wherein (in 1814) the British sacked Washington, DC and torched everything, including the White House and the Capitol Building.

Hard to imagine, especially if you've ever waited in line and gone through security for a tour of the public areas of the modern White House.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jun. 16th, 2011 03:09 am)
So, here's an odd one...

Every year, New York City rounds up hundreds of geese in the name of airline safety. They're humanely killed and then disposed of. People have been saying that, hey, as long as you're going to kill them, you might as well use them to feed people. There was a similar push a few towns over from us, where the annual influx of migrating geese is considered a major nuisance. In both places, the response was more or less the same: safety issues. The geese are wild, not farm-raised, and individually certifying that each one is safe for human consumption is kind of a problem. This year, however, it seems NYC has come up with a solution.

The solution? Drive them to Pennsylvania, where, apparently, they actually do have an established system to do it. Why can PA do it, and not NY or NJ? I don't know. Overcaution? Bureaucracy? Laziness? Or is it that PA is just more relaxed when it comes to food safety? Well, whatever the case, the birds will go into the stomachs of PA's hungry, and not the engines of NY's airplanes. And the federal government will take care of the interstate transport, since that's apparently covered under the city's contract with the Department of Agriculture. So, provided no one picks up any major diseases, parasites, or what have you... everyone's happy. Except the vegetarians and animal rights activists.

As long as I'm writing, a couple of other quick, random links plucked from my Twitter stream:

Darth Vader has a really inflated ego.

Hoverbike! The comparison to the Star Wars speeder bikes seems rather thin, and, really, it looks like an oversized version of one of those remote-controlled drones (I'm pretty sure at some point there was a two-rotor version of this thing), and I doubt I'd ever ride one, but still... Cool!

Also, linked off that article: That "jetpack" (really more of an odd one-person helicopter) sort of works outdoors now. (The demo version last year had to be kept inside the hangar because even a light breeze made it dangerously uncontrollable.)
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2011 02:00 am)
New vlog entry! (Hopefully, after all the issues I had today with cameras and multiple video format conversions, it's actually watchable. Sorry about the lighting. And the camera positioning. Best I could manage at the time, and there are things going on with the family this week so I didn't want to fuss around too much.)

Video under the cut )
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Oct. 31st, 2009 03:10 am)
As long as I'm posting about plastic for sale:

Lightsaber chopsticks.

An elegant utensil for a more civilized age. Available in Yoda, Vader, and Luke from a number of online retailers (including, say, this one).

Darth Vader Helmet Alarm Clock.

Boing Boing says, "I find your lack of consciousness disturbing." My thought was that the snooze button is an invitation to the Dark Side* if I ever saw one.

*Literally and figuratively, come to that...

The clock is way overpriced, takes up too much room, and doesn't seem to have many functions, but it looks so dang cool. The chopsticks... are oddly tempting.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Apr. 13th, 2009 01:02 pm)
So, I was in the Soulless American Monolith's Club (coined that acronym on the way home), innocently looking for a frickin huge jug of hand soap to refill the various dispensers around the house when I happened to look up and see this1:

(Click for larger image.)

And I was all like DUDE!!2

And so I went over and checked the price. 10 bucks. At which I was all like DUUUUUUUDE!3

Turns out they also make a TIE fighter and the Milennium Falcon. All 3D.

Oh, and the spool? A (simplified) lightsaber hilt.

Of course, I also have this pirate ship from the same company:

And I still haven't actually flown it. Haven't flown a kite in several years, truth to tell.

But someday I shall. And that day shall rock.

In the meantime, I have an awesome 3D X-Wing kite!

1Kid not included. And not hanging from the rafters. I mean, even WalMart isn't that evil...

2Except I think I actually said "whoa," but never mind that.

3Except I think I actually said, "Okay, yeah. I'm getting it." But again... not the point.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Mar. 31st, 2009 12:33 am)
Dreamwidth update:

New post has more info about beta launch, account info, etc.

There's also more info on the mailing list, starting with this message.

Also... I need a new username. pgwfolc was good back when I was an active FoLC and so were the vast majority of my friends. Now it just seems more like a head-scratcher.

I could go with HatMan, I guess. Or MadHatter. Don't feel like using zennerd or calm_smile. Any suggestions on something better? Or a way to come up with something better?
hatman: More Glitter!! (glitter)
( Mar. 28th, 2009 01:03 am)
[livejournal.com profile] stellar_dust pointed out a spiffy new journal site in progress. Made by former LJ people. I plan to sign up for the beta test which starts April 30.


Stellar_dust's post

Main Dreamwidth page

DW changes from LJ

Beta test announcement and info

[livejournal.com profile] dreamwidth (LJ community)

A lot of nice features, and I just love the idea of (theoretically, hopefully, etc.) better management.

Am now subscribed to half of their mailing lists, and even the way they handle that seems cool. For each list, I filled out a webform to get on and got a confirmation email. That gave me three different ways to confirm that I wanted to be on the list (and it wasn't just a case of some jerk adding my address without telling me). List archives are publicly available on the site (so you can see what you're getting into before you sign up), and I have the option to only get daily digests. Oh, and I can log in to the list's page on the site to change my listed name, address, and a whole host of options, some of which I never would have even thought of. I never realized mailing list maintenance could be so shiny and spiffy. I mean, heck, the available options and controls are better than what I've seen from MIT. (Yes, recently. Am still on one mailing list through there.)

[livejournal.com profile] stellar_dust mentioned that they are/were working on a way to allow cross-platform flists. Tricky when you're dealing with locked posts, but we'll see what they come up with. That'd be most important for me. No sense migrating to a new service if you guys don't come along, you know?

ETA: One of the (two) owners noticed our discussion of the above (thanks to the magic of referer logs - the things that tell site owners where people clicked from to get to their site) and responded. Just now. As in, less than an hour after said discussion. To tell me that she wants that feature as much as anyway, and they've got the general outline of how to do it. Won't be functional for the beta test, but will (fingers crossed) be up and ready when the site goes live. Color me very impressed.

ETA AGAIN! This post has more and better information.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Feb. 16th, 2009 06:48 am)
Signed up today with Kiva. It's a microlending site. People in third world countries need money to start businesses and improve their lives. You, via Kiva (which works through carefully chosen local banks and lenders around the world), can provide that money by making $25 loans. (Using PayPal.)

You look through the listings of who needs what, choose the ones you want, and lend them money. In time, they pay it back.

It's not charity, because you get repaid. But it can make a big difference in their lives. And you don't make any money off it yourself. (The local lenders charge interest - they have to cover their costs and make some money, after all. But Kiva screens out the ones who charge rates that they feel are out of hand. And they are considering ways to allow users to get some interest, as well.)

When you do get repaid (and though there is some risk of default, 99.70% have so far been repaid), you can take the money back or relend it to someone else.

There are also teams. Just for fun and socializing and such. I've joined up with a dozen of them. LJ/Fandom, FSM, Jews, MIT, Colbert... I'll spare you the full list. But some of you may be interested to know that there are teams for Browncoats, X-Philes, NaNoWriMo, and Homeschoolers, among others. There are over 4000 teams for schools and places and ideas and families and just about anything you can name. And if you can't find it, you can start it yourself.

It's pretty cool. A way to touch lives and help change the world. $25 at a time.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jan. 12th, 2008 04:57 pm)
Ordered a video watch.

Took them a week to process the order, but I suppose that's not too bad.

The whole thing seems slightly sketchy, for a whole variety of reasons, but I'm hoping it'll be worthwhile.

I paid ~$70 for the watch, and $15 for shipping. Not bad, all told, for something like that.

Today's shipping notice says that, for customs purposes, they put a declared value of $16 USD because that's the local street value. Which means that, according to them, I paid over 4 times what it's actually worth.

So... yay for less taxes. Boo for more sketchiness. And boo for suddenly feeling chumpy.

Oh well. Still getting the spluftiest watch I've ever seen. Assuming it actually does what it says on the box, anyway. We shall see.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Dec. 26th, 2007 01:08 am)
This is freaky. And awesome. And many other things. At that price, I may just have to get one. And they have bulk discounts! Hmm... but what would I do with the others...?


1. I'm wondering about the site. I found it off of Cnet, and they do have VeriSign and stuff. And they seem to have a good number of happy customers and businesses that use them. So they should be okay in that sense.

But they're based in China. Which means shipping isn't cheap. And they say the recipient is responsible for any import taxes the government chooses to impose (which is what I've found with other packages I've sent overseas). So it's not as cheap as it looks.

And - this part is kind of sketchy/worrisome - they have notices all over the place that you must not, under any circumstances, try to update the firmware on anything they sell. Doing so voids the warranty.

2. There are a lot more options than I first realized. They have 21 of them. And I found another site with a selection of 17. A few other sites, too. Plus some offered on Amazon and stuff. One of the ones on the second site lists amongst its features "firmware upgradable." (Now I'm wondering about the others.)

3. Right now, this one is looking the coolest. Still reasonably priced. Still 4GB (which seems excessive, really, but I suppose if you want to start putting movies and stuff on it...). And it has an FM radio. And recording features (microphone or radio). And you can change the time display. And the USB cable tucks in to the watchband. And it comes in pretty colors. The other site has it too, but they want nearly twice as much. Slightly better shipping price, but not nearly enough to make the difference.

4. One thing which is even freakier (and which I am not planning to get) is the one that also works as a touchscreen cell phone. It's like a wristwatch iPhone. (Except that it only does SMS, not email and internet.)

I don't know. It's not like I really need one or anything. Or that I could really see myself wanting to squint at a little 1.5 (or, in some cases, 1.8) inch screen. But it would be (pardon the term) handy to have. As a storage device. As an MP3 player. As a radio. As a nifty little gadget. And maybe, from time to time, as a video player. Oh, and, of course, as a watch. (I've worn a calculator/data watch since 7th grade, but nowadays I use my cell phone for that stuff.) At this price (probably about $90 by the time you're done with shipping and taxes), it's hard to resist.

Well, I'll think about it for a week or so. Not going to place any orders until I get home.

But... anyone else interested? Base price and shipping are slightly lower per unit if you order a few at a time. And mailing within the US (and probably Canada) shouldn't be too expensive...
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jul. 21st, 2007 12:42 am)
Getting up early (for me) tomorrow so we can go to a wedding reception of sorts. A college friend of my sister's (who became a family friend) had her wedding in Italy a little while back. Now they're having a party for all the friends and family who couldn't make it that far. Sis gets to go to both.

It's at their place in CT. We'll go through NY, pick up sis, and head on over. A three-state trip.

Trick of it is that, despite being a wedding party, it's also a pool party. They said casual dress, but I expect everyone will be in dressy casual, hovering near the pool. Because people are stupid. And because "wedding reception" takes priority over "backyard pool party" when it comes to picking clothes. Still, we'll be bringing bathing suits to change into.

The other thing is that they can't possibly provide towels for all those guests, so they specifically said in the invitation to bring our own. I packed ours just now.

So, to recap:

1. We're driving through parts of three different states.
2. We're picking up passengers on the way.
3. We're bringing our own towels.
4. We will be making sure to know where those towels are throughout the party.

Conclusion: We are hoopy froods.

And if you don't know what that means... Shame on you!

Click here to learn, or just to play. )
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jul. 9th, 2007 07:15 pm)
Thanks for the comments last post. Sorry I haven't responded individually, but they are appreciated.

Today's test seems to indicate that it's not the heart, after all. But now we have no idea what's going on with the lungs. So... more testing. But at least it's a good sign, mostly. Whatever it is, it's probably more easily treatable than the heart condition we thought he had.

And he's been better lately. Coughing less, less fragile. Still not nearly 100%, but better than he was. Hopefully, he'll continue to improve.

Meantime, shortly before all this started, we switched him over to a new food: Pet Promise. Came across an ad while going through the click2donate sites (I start off with Global Warming and click my way through. I do The Hunger Site family, too). Checked it out, seemed worth a try. Stuff costs twice as much as his old Pedigree stuff, but man... he absolutely loves it. And it seems to be clearing up his long-standing digestive issues, too. So at least he's had some good stuff happen this past week.

(And yes, we asked the vet if switching foods, even gradually, could have done it, and he said no.)

So... we'll see what the bloodwork says. And just keep treating him carefully. Hopefully, he'll continue to improve.

Anyway, just wanted to update you guys. Thanks again for the support. :)
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jun. 5th, 2007 04:10 am)
So I was IMing with [livejournal.com profile] beansideirae and the concepts "Grandfather" and "Silly putty" happened to sort of come up on one line.

I put them together, wondered what the grandfather of silly putty was, and came up with...


Which drove her nuts because she had no idea what I was talking about and was afraid to click on the links I pulled up. Finally, I relented and explained, but not before turning up a few YouTube videos about it.

First of all, this one is pretty basic. It explains (without any sound) how you can make ooblek and some of what you can do with it.

Then this kid explains it with less information and more cuteness.

These guys... I don't know what language they're speaking (Silly Putty Val Clar whatever her name is says it's Spanish, which I don't speak, and certainly not at that speed)... they have some fun with it.

Oh, and you can do weird stuff to it with soundwaves. (WARNING: lower or mute your speakers)

All sorts of stuff. There are more vids linked from those. Several of which are basically, "So, hey... I saw this YouTube vid about this stuff, so I thought I'd play around with it and make my own. And then post a video of it to YouTube to inspre five more copycats. Because I'm cool like that."

Anyway... it's cool. And maybe, with my nephew staying over, we'll make some tomorrow.

Even if not, come on. It's fun to say.