Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lance in Iowa

LANCE ARMSTRONG will ride at least part of RAGBRAI this year. He wants to ride all of it, but is not sure if he can handle it. Yea, right. And if he wears one of his yellow jerseys, most people he passes will yell, "GO HAWKS!"

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I got third place..

There was a contest to design the next product that Apple should build. I submitted that they should make a car stereo. I have thought that for a while and then I read the link to the contest and submitted it. I got third, which is a whopping $50. I think that is at the apple store. Better go find out.


For those of you not up to speed with our roof deal, here is the short version. Hail 2 years ago. Most roofs on the block replace. Notable exception were the 2 on the end insured by State Farm. A month ago: more hail. The house across the street gets new roof this time out. So we call SF and they come out and say ours is fine. He says se have organic shingles and they are really only good for 10 to 15 years. He says they look really bad but that is just how they are. I asked him how long he thinks they will last. He says I probably have another 10 years in them. WTF? That does not add up. Meanwhile, the house just down the street is getting theirs replaced for a SECOND time and somehow our "magic shingles" don't get any damage. I call again. Second guy comes out. The first guy stays in the truck, but I know they have talked about it on the way over and I feel like his mind is made up as he got out of the truck. He is very nice and explains exactly why I am the one person that does not get a new roof.
So today I went in to talk to my agent who has been on vacation. I had planned on asking him how much it is going to cost when the kids start driving in a few months and then tell him he won't see any of that because we are probably leaving him. First thing he asks: How's the twins. :-) I told him they are in driver's ed. ($$$) He said there is one last thing we can do: call the supervisor. I told him that when this was over we would probably be looking for new insurance just on principal. I really like him and told him so, but this is just wrong.
Today she came over and the second guy was in the truck. That did not make me feel very good about things. I did not hear them knock as I was in the shop. Bentley started barking like a fool and looking up. So I go out. They are up already so I don't go up with them. I figured it is a done deal. She came down and said that between the damage of '04 and this last one, that there is a claim to be made. *WOOT*
That is a big load off of our minds. I swore that when this was done I was going to change companies. No matter how it came out. But after talking to agent Geoff, I am not so hell bent on it. I really wanted to get the second check and then tell them that we should not have had to fight this much to get what is coming to us.
We will see.
But I am glad that is done.

Toyota's trumpet playing robot.

It is cool. It is amazing. It just creeps me out.
Toyota's trumpet playing robot.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

KCRG made it on FARK

Had some weird clouds in Cedar Rapids. Here is the link.

Monday, June 26, 2006


HERE is a steam powered robot. Although it looks more like a steam powered R/C car, it is still pretty cool.
This woman is getting ready to do her 12th triathalon. Oh, did I mention she is 88 years old?
I watched Biker Buildoff on the Discovery Channel tonight. I was really impressed with a bike by Matt Hotch. His company is called Hotmatch (get it). That alone made me like the guy. So I googled him and checked out his website. Holy crap. Nice bikes. I really like his style. But check out the website. Whoever did that did an amazing job. The bike he did on the show was the V-Lux. It has air suspension and no rear disk on the huge back wheel that took 100 hours to machine. He hid the disk on the inboard sprocket on the tranny. Way cool. He hid all of the electronics inside the back half of the fuel tank. Very clean. That is exactly how I would have done it. All I need is some time, talent, money, creativity, and ambition. Other then that I am set.

Comcast tech sleeping on the couch

Here is the video of the famous Comcast tech sleeping on the guy's couch. In his defense, I think he was on hold with Comcast and I too usually take a nap when I get on hold with companies like that. But then again it is my couch.

Rubic's robot

Sunday, June 25, 2006

well I take it all back..

I was critical before because they did not mow the yard next to me. Today they tried. They came out right before it started raining and did about 20 sq ft. of yard before it started to pour on them. So they put the mower away until later tonight, when they TOOK THE MOWER OUT OF THE LIVING ROOM! I am not making this up.


Here is a mock-up of a car stereo Apple should build. It is on the site.
My neighbor Steve asked me what these funny bugs are that he has all over his house. I told him that Ranger Rick would know. I talked to Rick last night and before I got done describing the bug he told me it was an earwig. He said they are a really popular model this season.
On to more fun stuff...
Here is an iPod inspired car with slot loading nano dock. Or if you wanna play those old albums, you can get a turntable that uses a laser to read them. Only bad part is it costs more then the iPod car and WAY more then a guitar pick that lights up. Remember the first iPod ad on TV?

Most of you have seen this by now, but..

here is the clip about the blind GUY that climbed Mt. Everest.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

just thought this was cute

another reason to stop playing guitar.

This kid is amazing. He is blind and plays the guitar overhand. If you watch it make sure you get about 2/3 of the way through it. He tears it up toward the end.

Pointless but cool:

A USB light with a shade on it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Cats and dogs...

HERE is something you never thought you would see...


SCORE: Microsoft 37, Apple 4

Business Week's info 100

Quality TV

When white trash wife tells white trash husband that their baby is not his he is devistated. Oh, did I mention the baby is black?
I don't know if I should feel sorry for the guy or just be glad that he did not reproduce. VIDEO HERE

radio stuff

Went to Best Buy. Told them the Alpine is funky and they said I could have another one. BUT they don't have any. It will be a week before they get on in. At least it works and sounds really good. Just can't navigate through the 4,400 songs on my iPod or the 125 songs on each CD I have made. I was expecting Best Buy to give me a hard time about returning the deck, but they didn't. One of the big problems with the deck is that it does display the names of songs, but it takes like 10 seconds to read them. I can't jump to songs using the search by artist function because it does not work. The only thing that does work it the quick search which lists all of the songs and you can scroll through them with the dial. But when it takes 10 seconds to read the name that is kind of pointless. I tried the one at Best Buy and it does work like it should displaying the name instantly so you can scroll through stuff without stopping on each one and listening to see what it is.

Spot the Habitat for Humanity House

Back when Habitat for Humanity started to take over our neighborhood, Mary called the local director and asked if they were going to build any more on our block (three out of 12 houses are H4H) and let them know we would seek an injunction if so. She pointed out that it is killing the value of our home and we would not allow any more. He responded with the most STUPID reply saying that "while they are Muslums, they are nicer then some Christians I know"
I could not believe WHAT A MORON he was. This had nothing to do with race. This had to do with them killing the value of our biggest asset. If somebody broke in and stole $20,000 from his bank account, then I am sure he would want to get it back. We cant get ours back, we just wanted to make sure they did not take any more.
So they built their crappy little no garage house with walls that are too tall and not plumb. They did not even run the damn cable while they were framing it up so the cable company came out and drilled a bunch of holes in the side of the house and ran it in there. When they did come over and work on it, nobody would look at us and if they did they gave us this nasty look. I assume that the MORON that we spoke to told them that we are these evil racists.
When I talked to him in person I told him of my concerns. He said that even a smaller house (with not garage) would increase the property value more then an empty lot that is overgrown. I told him that I had mowed that lot for the last nine years and it was NEVER overgrown.
Anyhow this is just dandy. They mowed the front yard once this summer. I don't know WTF they were doing because they would start the mower, run it for 30 seconds to a min. and then shut it off. Wait a couple min. Start it and run it for 30 seconds... etc. They never did mow the back. So the back yard has not been mowed yet this summer. I would have mowed it at least twice and probably three times by now.
So we get the best of both. We get a CRAPPY little built wrong house with people that hate us because they have been told we are racists, and we get an overgrown yard that looks like hell.

Flaming Dell.

Reports of a Dell going up in flames. In other news: Dells suck.

New bikes for the kids..

Last week I was at U of Iowa Surplus because... well.. that is what I do. They sometimes bring in a bunch of bikes and sell them off cheap. They are bikes that were vandalized or abandoned. Or they were taken for being locked to a sign or a rail. They are usually not worth anything because people reclaim the decent ones. On this day there were a bunch of nice ones. I got one for Tim for $15 and one for Alex for $9. Tim's is just like brand new. Alex's is not in as good shape, but it is a really good Specialized frame with nice equipment. Probably a $300 bike new. Their old bikes were in good shape, but the hardware on them was crappy and the shifters and brakes were all messed up. I hated to throw them out since the frames and wheels/tires were like new, but the hardware for them would cost more then a new bike. The kids are really happy with them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I got to drive the driving simulator today. Holy cow. They take you out for a couple of runs and you get used to it. Your goal is to keep right at 65mph. through it. You are graded by that. You earn money for each second of the run you are at speed. I did well on the test runs. Almost perfect. Then the real deal. I am driving along and there is a curve that drops off to the left. The sign says 55 so I slow down. As I get into the curve I see that there is NO way this car will make it. It is front wheel drive so I am screwed. If I hit the breaks, I will just push harder, and I can't throttle through it like a good car. I ride it out and spin off. The next one a Hummer pulls out and tries to head-on with me. I just let off the gas and rode it out and missed him. I got back on the road okay. There were five testing runs in all. The last one kind of sucked. There was a van that came up from behind really fast. He passed me. He was in the left lane and the van looked like it was going to spin out of control so hit the breaks to clear room and leave me more options. He did not spin. Another van passed me and did the same thing. Turns out that is just a bit of a glitch in the software. I did not let off that time. He merged in front of me and as soon as he did a big box came out of the van. I think I missed the box, but again spun out in the ditch in doing so.
The test was to see if electronic stab. control helps people. They did not tell you if you had it or not until after. I did not have it as it turns out. That is good because that car handled really badly.
All in all it was just an amazing experience. The graphics were not as good as an Xbox, but because of all of the other things going on it seemed very real. When I missed the hummer and brought it to a stop I felt my heart racing. There was a lady in the back seat giving me instructions. When the run was done, she would say go ahead and stop it in the road and put it in park. I had a problem with that. Just stopping on the highway. I would always look behind me... then think.. oh, it is not real. So I guess that is a sign of how well it is all done.
You sit in a real car. The tires are off of it and there are hydrolic actuators on each hub to simulate road vibration and such. The screen goes all around you. All the guages work. That car has over 100,000 miles on it, but has never moved an inch. The whole thing moves around to simulate g's when you stop or turn.
They asked if I would be interested in doing it again, I said, "lets go". She said they like to wait about a year so that no one person is an expert on it and messes up the statistics. DAMN.
You get paid $25 for driving and up to $15 bonus depending on how many seconds you are at speed. I was about a buck short of the $40, and I don't think I hit anything so I was happy with that.
The only thing I would change about the whole deal: When you are driving your warm up runs, you are on the flat and just change lanes a couple of times so you really never get the feel of how the car handles in curves and the steering ratio. I wish I could have gotten a better feel for the vehicle before I did the panic situations.
All in all it was one of the coolest things I have done in a very long time. Even though they make you put the little test dummy sticker dots on your face so the cameras can track your facial movement. When I was leaving the were nice enough to tell me I still had one on my face :-)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I just got a call from the national driving simulator in North Liberty. They want me to come in tomorrow and drive. WOOT! I signed up for that about three years ago and gave up on it long ago. Should be fun. I mean ... it is a great chance for me to help with research.

Truck stereo is officially done... for now.

I got the Alpine in and hooked up. It sounds really good, but I am not using the amps in the deck so... The controls on that thing are so messed up. They are so illogical that you can't go through the menus without the book, and certainly not while driving. As of now, I can't get to the folders on my iPod. I can play songs, but that is just from the list. With over 4,000 songs on the pod, it is kind of hard to find what you want right now. The other dumb thing is that you can advance to the next song with a button on the front. That is fine, Once you do it takes about five seconds for the ID to come onto the screen. Ok, that is fine I guess. But if you hit the folders menu, then you can do a fast scroll through songs using the rotary knob. NICE! Except that as you advance it just says "track 257", "track 258" , etc. So you have to stop on each one and listen to see what it is. Kind of defeats the point of the rotary knob.
I am going to update the software on my iPod just in case that has anything to do with it.
I wasted an hour today trying to figure out how I wired the old stereo before the Alpine. When I turned this one on last night I got a HUGE amp pop through the speakers. So I took it all apart and realized that I ran the switched power to the HU and the amps off of the same source instead of using the external power out signal out of the HU. But I could NOT figure out what was going on with the wiring I did before. It did not make sense. Finally I found a splice that was hidden. I undid that and wired it like I should have in the first place. That is fixed now.

If you have not heard the kid playing Pachelbel's Canon in D on his guitar then you should check this out. Really nice tones, and the kid is really quick.
There is another kid playing the same thing but I like the first one better. But now I am being picky. I wish I could play like either one of them.

Darwin was wrong

This morning about 4:00 we heard a bunch of wild screaming. It was out neighbors. You see, we had a thunderstorm this morning. Lots of lightning. So natrually what you do when you are up at 4:00 and probably drunk as hell is go jump in the pool and scream like idiots for 2 hours in the lightning.
I was really tempted to just go throw the damn toaster in the pool and get it over with.

Hey, First post.
I am on vacation for 2 weeks. Was hoping to take on some big project, but seem to be piddling around with small stuff instead. I have been moving stuff around in the shop trying to get it laid out better. Also trying to make cabinets with doors on them so it just looks neater and also makes the place a lot lighter after they are painted white. Amazing how much difference that makes.
I got a new deck for my truck. Plays mp3 CD's and hooks into my iPod. I am hoping to get it hooked up tomorrow. It has enough power onboard to run the speakers, but I think I will just use the amps in the back since they are there and .. well .. it looks cooler. Plus I spent a LOT of time running all that wire so I am going to use them. I like the manual crossover too. I can reach it from my seat and it is just easier to adjust then the electronic ones.