dxmachina: (curse you)
We finally got some real winter weather over the last two weekends, mixing snow and sleet and gale force winds at various times and in various combinations. And just to rub it in, both yesterday and today the sun popped out to give a taste of spring, but only once it was too late in the day to get a ride in. Sigh.

---
There was one good weekend for riding a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn't take advantage because I was up in Boston for Boskone. Boskone was sort of up and down. I was able to find an reasonably interesting panel to attend most hours there, so that was good, but I didn't take a lot of notes, so I guess I didn't find much of it noteworthy. Still, there was a good panel on writing genius characters which included an observation by Charlie Stross that writing is a somewhat like doing stop-motion animation in it takes about an hour to write three minutes worth of reading material*. There were some other good panels and talks, including one by Guy Consolmagno, who works at the Vatican Observatory, on astronomers through the centuries who had the right data, but then leapt to totally wrong conclusions. Poor Schiaparelli did it on three separate occasions**.

* Or considerably longer if'n you're me.

** The most famous of these was his drawings showing the
canali on Mars, which Consolmagno attributed to the tendency of the human mind to apply an unsharp mask to blurry objects.

Anyway, I enjoyed myself there, and had a couple of great meals at Tennesee's BBQ in Braintree, so not a bad weekend.

---
The good news for the week is that it looks like I won't be going to Brazil after all, which is fine by me. This may yet change, because it has already changed several times a few times over the last few weeks, and we are now on victim designated traveler #3, but at present I am considered too indispensable on my current project to go anywhere but my office for the next month or so. Meanwhile, one of our other technical people is making arrangements for the awe-inspiring robust vaccination regimen required for the trip***. So it goes.

*** Which, like the whole visa situation, was not even thought about by the higher ups until designated traveler #2 happened to mention the trip to a friend, who, in turn, then mentioned the bit about all the needles...
dxmachina: (Chemistry02)
I made a couple of important* discoveries this weekend in my research into truffle making which show the value of both the scientific method and serendipity in the pursuit of knowledge.

* To me, anyway....

Science and Serendipity... )
 
dxmachina: (Books 04)
Spent a long weekend in Burlington, MA, riding my bike, eating terrific barbeque, and attending Readercon 21. The weather was really muggy, but otherwise I had a pretty good time. I drove up Friday morning, so I missed Thursday night's session, which looked like it had some interesting stuff. Anyway....

---
Friday Sessions... )


---
Saturday Sessions... )


---
Sunday Sessions... )

---
Other... )

 

Boskone 47

Feb. 20th, 2010 10:50 am
dxmachina: (Spaceman Spiff)
How I spent last weekend...

Friday Panels )

---
Saturday Panels )

---
Sunday Panels )

---
Odds and Ends )

These were most of the panels I attended. There were a couple of others I went to mostly as time fillers, and even those I found engaging, although not enough to write about them.
dxmachina: (Books 04)
Reading is fun-damental; writing about it is harder...

---
When you look into the abyss, it's not supposed to wave back. )

Now to work on the rest of the list...
dxmachina: (Bike)
Hot... Hazy... Humid... I spent most of the weekend inside with the a/c. I did venture out for a couple of rides, though. Yesterday's ride was miserable. I had no energy, and it showed in my time. It was my worst average mph since early June. Dunno why I felt so burnt. I hadn't ridden since Wednesday. Shrug.

Today it was even hotter. I rode the three-speed today. The odd thing was that I felt much stronger. My speed was almost what it was yesterday, despite riding the slower bike.

---
I used to be able to ride no-handed when I was younger, even to the point of being able to steer the bike just by shifting my weight. I don't remember when I stopped being able to do it, but in the last couple of decades, whenever I tried it I never felt comfortable doing it for more than a few seconds at a time. It was downright scary how unstable the bike felt, if you want to know the truth. Very frustrating, because I remembered it as being easy. I sort of chalked it up to weighing a lot more than I did back in the day, which would move the center of mass of the bike-DX system somewhat higher from the ground, destabilizing the whole thing. Either that, or I had forgotten how to ride a bike. Well, no-handed, anyway.

Caution - Mathiness behind the cut... )
 

Boskone 46

Feb. 18th, 2009 04:33 pm
dxmachina: (Marvin01)
I often complain about not being able to find enough decent panels to attend, or that there are too many scheduled concurrently when I'm at a con, but this year's Boskone was just right. There was something to pique my interest pretty much every session, and I rarely had to choose between two equally appealing panels. The con was held in a different section of the hotel this year, and it seemed a much better arrangement. All the panel sessions were on the same floor, and while the con suite area was downstairs, it was huge.

---
Saturday... )

---
Sunday )

---
So that was it. I took a last walk through the hucksters area, then headed for home. Learned some science stuff and some writing stuff, and enjoyed myself quite a bit this year.
dxmachina: (Chemistry02)
Previously on The Trouble with Truffles, things went swimmingly. Thus enabled, I decided to try some more experiments this time out. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? *

* I say this after reading an article about amateur scientists who are experimenting with genetic manipulation in their basement laboratories. At least the worst I ever did with my chemistry set was clear the house out with hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas). I wasn't trying to make no frankenbugs. **

** By coincidence, Bloom County is rerunning the set of strips wherein Oliver's dad gives him a chemistry set and hilarity ensues.



Anyway, back to the truffles. I tried three new flavors, maple, butterscotch, and caramel, using my usual recipe.

Lab notebook... )


Want!

Dec. 18th, 2007 04:32 pm
dxmachina: (Marvin01)
This would make one helluva UPS...

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

(Emphasis mine. Previously noted in the b.org tech thread. Void where prohibited...)
dxmachina: (Hobbes)
Two very funny stories for a Monday morning.

First up, Ken Levine's greatest home run call (with a tip of the hat to Jon at Dodger Thoughts for pointing it out).

Second, Chad Orzel's absolutely hysterical Bunnies Made of Cheese.
dxmachina: (Calvin)
Scientists create cloak of partial invisibility, i.e., an invisibility cloak that doesn't work very well. Actually, it sounds pretty neat.

---
Scientists in Russia have synthesized element 118 by crashing calcium atoms into californium. The reaction produced a little element 116, as well. No word on whether they sighted the Island of Stability yet.

More about this here, and Chad Orzel has some discussion in his blog. I discussed some of the Island of Stability stuff here.

---
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;


The Macarthur Foundation is expected to award a grant that will be used to create a MMORPG based on the works of William Shakespeare.

---
One of the greatest catches you'll ever see...

This one ain't bad, either.
 
dxmachina: (Adios)
The Daily Kos is running the text of Pluto's concession speech.

Dick Cheney has issued a statement:

"Pluto's demotion today is a victory for the terra-ists."


(Thanks to Linkmeister for the link.)

DFA'd

Aug. 24th, 2006 01:50 pm
dxmachina: (Marvin01)
News item: Pluto Designated for Assignment

Pluto: You wanted to see me, Skip?

Skip: C'mon in and shut the door...

Skip: This is the toughest job a manager has to do. But the organization has decided to make a change. You've been designated for assignment.

Pluto: Skip, I know I'm in a slump but I can turn it around. A couple of comets drop in, and I'm back in the groove!

Skip: I put in a word for you with the organization--told 'em I thought you'd make a fine moon someday.

Pluto: I've only been on the team since 1930. I'd have liked to at least have finished my first orbit.

Skip: There might be an opening at Alpha Centauri next year...

---
Fun Pluto trivia: In the seventy some-odd years since it was discovered, Pluto's only made it about a third of the way around the solar system.
dxmachina: (Marvin01)
Watched the jets again a little while ago. It's a little better day for it. High overcast, but not raining (yet), with a nice breeze. It was incredibly muggy early this morning, but a line of thundershowers came through around 8:30 that knocked it back a little. It's actually quite pleasant out there now. Weather.com is forecasting thundershowers every day from now until July. Somehow we seem to have gotten Florida's August weather pattern.

---
Finished a reread of Poul Anderson's Mirkheim, the novel that closes out his Polesotechnic League stories. Man, I remember this book as being a whole lot better than it was this time around. Although maybe that's because the whole idea behind the planet Mirkheim is so incredibly cool. Well, if you're me, anyway. )

That's Mirkheim, the macguffin of an otherwise pretty boring book. And if you've read this, you don't need to read the book.
dxmachina: (Pitching)
Gray, rainy day. What this day needs is a little science humor:

Two Scientists Walk In, One Walks Out...

Meanwhile, I keep running across kerfuffles where I really didn't expect them, like one about Jered Weaver's college baseball career over versus Mark Prior's mentioned over at Baseball Analysts. Sabermetrician Smackdown! It's not that kerfuffles are rare among sports fans. I mean, just sit in the bleachers at Fenway (or Shea) some time. It's just that the sabermetrics crowd usually reserve their bile for the mundanes, not their own. Even the world of high energy physics is not immune to petty squabbling, as Chad Orzel notes in his blog. Sure, some of the kerfuffles over physics theory are legendary, but kerfuffles over trackback access? Bozhe moi!

---
Speaking about kerfuffles, the subject of many of them, Hee-Seop Choi, belted a 3 run bomb for Korea as they beat Team USA like a rented mule last night, 7-3. There has been no more polarizing player amongst the Dodger faithful than Hee-Seop. He's a big, likable lug with great power, and (possibly) a good batting eye, even though he strikes out a lot. You want to root for him. The sabermetricians look at his slugging percentage, all the walks he draws, and his low salary, and talk about what a great value he is for the numbers he puts up. Mundanes point out that he's hella streaky, which means yes, he can carry a team for days, but he will often suck for weeks at a time. Sabermetricians argue that the streakiness averages out over the course of a season, while mundanes say they'd rather have him hit single homers in three close games than three homers in a single blowout. The mundanes also suggest that the walks may be the result, not of a good batting eye, but because he's just not very aggressive at the plate, letting a lot of pitches go by whether they're balls or strikes. They also point out that the streakiness is likely due to some huge holes in his swing.

Unfortunately for Choi, his decision to play for his country may have eliminated any shot he had at still being a Dodger come opening day. Big home run aside, he hasn't hit well in the tournament, and even the Koreans don't want him playing defense at first. If he'd stayed in camp, he might have had a good shot with a good spring, but right now he's basically a stranger to the men whose opinions count the most, Grittle and Neddy, and will continue to be so as Korea keeps going deeper into the tournament. Meanwhile, top prospect James Loney is having a great spring backing up Nomah. Loney has hit well, and is reportedly a brilliant defensive player, all of which makes Choi expendable. Here's hoping Neddy can get someone decent in trade for him.

---
I took a stroll by the bulb bed this morning, and it's ringed with crocuses.
 
dxmachina: (Calvin)
No new major disasters today, other than that I forgot to grab my book this morning. Actually, that's not quite true. I went into the back room, grabbed the book off the nightstand, put it on the kitchen counter while I picked up my satchel and lunch bag, and then walked out the door without it. Which meant I got to spend lunch time in my truck listening to people talk football on WFAN while reading capsule reviews of restaurants in and around Boston because all I had was a free paper to look at. At least I remembered my lunch.

No baseball tonight, so Fox is showing reruns. I flipped back and forth between NCIS (new) and Bones (rerun). The Bones episode was the one with the stupidest terrorist in the world, the one who thought dioxin would make a nifty weapon of mass destruction, even after all the news stories about how undeadly it was when the President of the Ukraine was poisoned with the second highest dose of dioxin ever recorded (he did become severely ill, but survived). Also, it turns out that dioxin is a liquid that's easy to produce in liter quantities using chlorine and melted plastic. No, it's not. Trust me. It's actually a crystalline solid, which Bones should know if she's so smart. It's a shame. I like Boreanez, Deschanel, and most of the other actors, but the writing is just execrable.

NCIS was better. I'm starting to like the Mossad agent who is replacing Kate. Oddly enough, she reminds me a bit of Nilly, especially her quip tonight that she's good at jigsaw puzzles.

In news for the easily confused, I picked up this month's issues of Cook's Illustrated and Consumer Reports when I was at the market the other night. In an odd coincidence, both magazines rated stand mixers this month. What's even odder is that their results, at least with regards to KitchenAid mixers, came out exactly opposite. CR had the KA Classic rated number one, while CI had it next to last, and gave it a "not recommended." Makes you wonder if either bunch knows what they're doing. I was thinking of dropping them both a note, but I'd already sent an e-mail to CI about their totally incorrect illustration of a Vise-Grip, so I figured I'll let someone else raise the question.
dxmachina: (Dandelions)
Inventor denies using dead cats for fuel.

I don't see why there was so much outcry, even if he was using dead cats. I mean, they'd already be dead, right? I could see it if he was actually stuffing live cats into the gas tank (put a tiger in your tank...), but the claim was that he was using ex-cats. Also, if you can use dead cats, it means you could use any sort of dead animal.

Soylent diesel is people!

And will no one speak for the toads?

"It’s an alternative fuel that is friendly for the environment. But it’s complete nonsense to suggest dead cats. I’ve never used cats and would never think of that. At most the odd toad may have jumped in."
 

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