06 December, 2009

Fragments of Toaster's Mind Blather 3

1) I am currently wearing a pair of suspenders. The straps keep slipping down my shoulder and have been all night. While the suspenders are very good at holding my pants up, this is really really annoying. While it is entirely possible that I'm wearing these wrong or missing some kind of special trick, I cannot help but hypothesize that I will not be able to wear suspenders until I acquire an impressive pot belly to frame with them. I think this is a shame, and not just because there exist pictures somewhere of me dancing at a string party in just suspenders and jeans, because these are some damn snazzy suspenders.

2) It is probably bad manners to debone your dinner in front of vegetarians. However, I tried to be a vegetarian for 3 years so I do know empirically that not eating meet does not result in the development of an obstreperous sense of moral and social superiority.

3) I have taken this joke, stretched it everywhichway, smashed it, lit it afire, microwaved it, fumigated it, irradiated and blended it, grown moss upon it and then titrated it with exotic aromatic hydrocarbons and bacon, but still I find it hilarious.

4) The hackerspace is differentiating. Like how embryonic stem cells gradually specialize as they grow out in new spatial/cytokine niches, there has recently been a major explosion of stuff. New parts, tools, and supplies have been appearing daily. This is excellent as it allows us to expand beyond the range of just soldering electronics boards together. However, it contains 2 problems: A) I can't find anything anymore. I spent 40min looking for a bag of assorted resistors I'd left there and never found them, and when I found the bag of capacitors they were sitting right in front of my face on a workbench instead of in the various boxes I was hunting through. Recently someone else mislocated their fancy wire strippers and we rediscovered somebody else's big box of phototransistors and LEDs. And B) plastic chassis are bulky. We have salvaged several old Super Nintendos, tape decks, VCRs, etc and stripped them for parts and used them to teach people about electronics (including me), but the plastic cases they come in take up a lot of space and aren't nearly so useful as I'd have imagined. I am mostly convinced that the solution to this is to build a MakerBot 3D printer and grind them up to use as printy goop.

5) Speaking of 3D printers, there are several web-based businesses that will laser-cut or 3D print stuff one-at-a-time for you because the initial investment for either piece of equipment remains high. Ponoko is good for laser-cut materials and Shapeways is good for 3D printed stuff. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I'm going to do with them, but once I do build something with them, I'll post pics.

6) I was empirically reminded tonight that it is a singularly bad strategy to play tetherball with your face.

7) I made for you a mix of music because I like blues and I like rock and roll and I especially like when they've been smashed together with a double bass.

8) There's going to be a real-life, real-time Scientists' Duel right soon where I am. I'm going up against a CMB grad student at a beer hall before a jury of my peers. Neither of us have seen the paper yet, and it's happening on Wednesday.

9) I am teaching a class in the hackerspace on quantum chemistry. I intend to discuss the VSEPR model of atomic structure through the magnety properties of the weak nuclear forces, talk about how it leads to the formation of covalent, hydrogen, and polar bonds and then tie the abstract of each of those into concrete biochemical examples. So far it looks like a dozen people may show up, which makes me somewhat nervous since my attempt to teach molecular biology a month ago quickly devolved into people asking very tangential questions that derailed the points I was trying to make. Apparently it was a bad idea to attempt to abstract the Central Dogma out past cellular anatomy. Retrospectively, I can see how that came across as nothing more than alphanumeric soup.

10) I started wearing contact lenses last summer and was amazed by the phenomenon of peripheral vision. I expected that, and it took about 3 months for me to stop habitually trying to adjust glasses that weren't there. I was not, however, expecting that the winter wind upon my eyes would induce intense watering from underneath my contacts. As it is rather inconvenient, I may have to invest in some clear goggles to keep the brunt of the wind off my eyes.

11) I have been trying, in vain, to digitally replicate the closely syncopated swing beat that appears in polka, Latin music, and blues. So far it doesn't seem that I can program it anywhere, although I have heard it done with MIDI inputs. In any event, I have realized that to make the music I hear in my head come out more effectively, I am going to need some sort of MIDI input into Reason instead of just using my keyboard and mouse pad. I would like to find some way to do this with Gak, as a squishy, oozy, sploppy interface (brightly colored, too!), but I won't be able to do this until I've gotten around to building myself an Atari Punk Circuit. In the meantime, I'm planning on routing a bunch of flex sensors through an ATMega and octocoupler to have a bendy interface. I may sew it into clothes to make a synth suit, depending on how durable I can engineer the copper foil in the flex sensors to be. However, I know myself and as such I know full well that I would be unable to resist pumping a fat fuzz bass through a synth suit most of the time.


Becca said...

Video the duel, YouTube! Must See!

Ambivalent Academic said...

Hey Toaster! Have you seen these analog robots??


I totally thought of your hackerspace when I ran across them. The page has a link to another website with video.

Good luck on the duel!

Anonymous said...

relating to 3D printers, how does a self-replicating 3d printer sound? admittedly, a fair amount of work, but also a lot of awesome!
the RepRap: http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome