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Official Birthday Friending Frenzy

I have decided to have a friending frenzy for my birthday today! If you would, kindly, pass this along to your lists and invite people over here to introduce themselves and chat. I'm all about meeting new people, and what better day to do it than on your birthday?

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Please play this .wav file:

While looking at this picture of my wife:

You now have a good idea of what 90% of our relationship consists of.


Cooking geeks, behold!

So, this weekend I decided that I wanted to try my hand at a home-baked loaf of bread. We got some flour and yeast and, already having the other two ingredients on hand – water and salt – forged ahead with my plan.  Many thanks to my friend Dave who, as a professional cook, had some sage advice about making bread.  He gave me a really simple recipe to try, and I did so.  The bread, while EXTREMELY crusty (too much steam in the initial stage), was also extremely tasty.  I had sort of forgotten how much I really like super-fresh homemade bread.  Also, I really liked making it.

I saved half of the dough from this batch in the fridge to bake later, which I did last night, and which also turned out remarkably tasty.  I still have some of that bread left tonight, so, instead of making a freash batch of dough tonight, I am in stead trying my hand at (Dun dun DUUUNNN!!!) a preferment.  This is where you mix up some flour, water, and a little yeast ahead of time and let it fizzle and bubble and soak together.  The intention is to give your bread a more complex flavor and a somewhat longer shelf life, though I’m not sure how this latter is achieved.

Instrumental in my learning even this much were the lessons over at The Fresh Loaf, which I intend to read more of and experiment with unashamedly in the kitchen

So, tomorrow I will mix up another batch of dough and bake some more bread.  This time, my intention is to use about 1/3 whole wheat flour, and to add a little molasses to enhance the flavor of the whole wheat.  I put the whole wheat flour in the preferment, thinking that if any flavors were going to be enhanced it should be that of the flour with more flavor.  Make sense?  I’m totally excited!

In other cooking and homesy news, since it is going to be super cold tonight (well, cold for Florida) I brought my outside plants indoors, including the earthbox.  The last time it froze, while we were in Mexico in January, almost all of my tomato plants died and the larger of my basil plants was mortally wounded and died just this past week.  Having a box full of dirt in a house full of cats presents an unexpected challenge.  There is now dirt all over the floor and a severely chastised cat under the table in the living room.  I’ve moved my fragile basil plants to a higher place where I hope they’ll be less attractive to inquisitive cat feet.  Compounding matters somewhat I can’t seem to locate our broom and so the dirt remains on the floor.

The rest of the night is for studying math and watching the wife play Dante’s Inferno.  And maybe checking on my preferment somewhat obsessively.

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. You can comment here or there.

Nixie Tubes!

Okay, I think everyone who has ever seen them will agree that nixie tubes are really cool looking.  Up until now they have been difficult to work with – when you can find them – due to their high voltage power needs.  The lovely folks at ArduiNIX.com have solved that problem for anyone interested in making something with nixies.  Their new product, the ArduiNIX Arduino shield, makes using up to eight nixie tubes as easy as programming an Arduino microcontroller.

ArduiNIX Srduino shield

ArduiNIX Arduino shield

The shield fits over the stock Arduino, takes signals from the microcontroller, and drives the nixie tubes with its own on-board high-voltage power supply.  I can’t wait to figure out a way to use this in some kind of project!  Maybe a repeater for a multimeter display or just an all-purpose numerical display that takes input from a computer – temperature, caller ID… endless possibilities!

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. Please leave any comments there.

Customer service FAIL

I am looking for a fairly specific relay for a project I’m working on. Unable to find it using the typical search channels on various electronics distributor’s sites, I have resorted to emailing the technical assistance people at several of the companies and asked for help. The first showed me pretty much exactly what I needed, but at $80 a piece, when I need around ten. The other, I sent a part number to and asked of there was anything similar to this part that came closer to my characteristics. I got an email back suggesting the part I had included in the email to start with. Not a, “Why don’t you just use this anyway?” suggestion, but a “Here’s what you were looking for,” response. I emailed back to ask of there was anything similar to the part number they sent me (which I originally sent them anyway) and got a QUOTE back from the company FOR THE SAME PART NUMBER. Suffice to say that I am less than impressed. I hate that I might have to get this part anyway, because it’s the closest I’m coming to finding what I need…

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. You can comment here or there.

A cry for help

I have a very good friend in the Washington DC area who is having a very hard time with recent unemployment. She is a charming and intelligent person, in the way of most of my friends, and her specialty is in the financial come and go of business accounts payable and receivable, and the sort of things that move money about and about which I know very little. She needs a job in this field.

Please contact me in any of your favorite methods and I will gladly pass her resume along to you. Please pass this along. Cry it to the hills and help get my friend a job. Thank you.

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. You can comment here or there.

Calling all creative designer types!

I’ve had renewed interest in getting an electronics project going again, and I need some design help. I’m making a pocket watch that displays the time in binary using LEDs, and I’m looking for someone to help me design the watch face. Let me know if you have any interest in this project, and we can discuss details. Just an up-front full disclosure detail here: I don’t have any ability to pay you for these services at this time, but I will entertain other options.

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. You can comment here or there.

How ADD informs my life decisions

I have ADD, that’s no great mystery or secret, especially to anyone who knows me. I was diagnosed in fourth grade and ended up in a special ed class with my friend Erin, who also had ADD, for a few hoirs a day. You can probably imagine that this didn’t sit too well with me. Anyway…

Over the years I have alternately dealt and struggled with my ADD with varying levels of success, and before you go off saying there’s no such thing as adult ADD, let me I’ve you my take on it. When kids have ADD it’s quite apparent, but as they grow up, like me, they develop coping mechanisms that make it seem like their ADD has gone away. It’s all still there, you can trust me on that. Is this post starting to sound a little scattered? That’s because I’ve been out of Ritalin for almost two weeks now, but that’s just illustrative of my point.

Back to the subject of the post, I’ve been thinking about my pattern of work of the course of the last twenty years, give or take, and I realized something. If I have a job where I’m doing something new every day, or learning something every day, I’m happy. If my job involves repetitive, non-engaging work like call centers or clearing trouble queues I will become bored and restless as soon as I have finished learning how to do the job. This is one of the problems I am having with my current job – I’ve learned everything I can about the stuff that comes into the shop on a daily basis, and it’s getting boring. I just do not understand how anyone can do the same mindless work day in and day out and not have it drive them crazy. Like, I feel like I am somehow wired up differently from them, and I feel kind of bad that I can’t turn my brain off and just shuffle papers all day. It singles me out, at least in my own mind, just like being the kid in the special ed classroom did way back in the beyond.

How does this inform my life choices? Well, for one I find I’m always happier if I have a problem to solve or something to figure out and fix, so I have been aiming for jobs that are a little more in the repair-oriented field. As far as degrees go, an EE, CpE or even a CS degree will put me in a position to know how things work, and to be able to fix them, or even build them from scratch. When it comes time to graduate, you can guess what sort of job I’ll be looking for, if I haven’t started my own business doing bespoke gadgets by then.

That’s the secret to keeping me happy: mentally engaging problems to solve and a variety of different things to do.

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. You can comment here or there.


Want, wanty want want.

Seeed Studio DSO-Nano Palmtop O-scope

Seeed Studio DSO-Nano Palmtop O-scope

It’s a POCKET-SIZED oscilloscope.  It’s minimally-featured, but it’s the size of an iPod.  Also, it’s projected to retail for $89.  If you love me…

God, I want this so hard. Want.

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. You can comment here or there.

The Men Who Stare At Goats

So, I saw this book at Barnes and Noble, I think it was about four years ago.  I wanted it, but was poor and begged off, thinking I’d get it later, cheaper on the internet or something.  I never did.  Now, watching Mythbusters, I see a commercial for a movie based on this book, and I think I really want to see this movie more than I want to see Where The Wild Things Are, or any of the other awesome movies coming out.

The book is by Jon Ronson and is basically about the so-called “psychic warrior” experiments the CIA ran back in the day.  Remote viewing, etc.  Really interesting stuff, at least to a conspiracy buff like me.  The title refers to an experiment in which the participants stared at farm animals, attempting to basically kill them with their minds.

I think I might have to hit the bookstore tomorrow and pick up this book and read the hell out of it.  I think I shall.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve not been paid anything by anyone to pimp this project.  Yet.  If you have money for me for this, I’m sure you will be able to find me.  Please.

Originally published at Tinker, tinker. You can comment here or there.