Monday, October 31, 2005

Found photos

I find this really fascinating. The owner of this site buys old cameras and develops the film on them. Neat... and kind of creepy at the same time. Imagine if someone came across random photos of you a few decades later.

Party balloons?

I don't know where to get these balloons, but I want one!!!! (it would sure spice up the drive to the airport)

Pack the bags!

Well folks, the tickets have been reserved so it's official! I'm going to Australia and Singapore. (and not paying a dime for it) Next Thursday it's off to Australia, and then almost two weeks later I'll be heading to Singapore until early December.

Of course I'll be working, and I'd be crazy to spend all my free time blogging, so I have no idea if I'll actually do any blogging. (I'm not even sure if I can get a 50 to 60 Hz adapter suitable for my laptop.) Until then, I'll try to work in as much blogging as I can. And I'll try to get plenty of photos to post after I'm back.

Coffee anyone?

It's monday morning, which means it's time for the coffee prayer
(I stole this, but I don't remember from where)

Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake in green pastures:
It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
It restoreth my buzz:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
I will fear no Equal (tm):
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me.
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of Juan Valdez:
Thou annointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over.
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life: and
I will dwell in the House of Maxwell for ever.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Slip, Skip, & Tripp: Attorneys at Law

I just did a little mental check of what some of my friends are doing. Yi is off at law school, I seem to recall Erin working on law school apps, and I just noted that Megan finished her law school applications. So I think it's time for me to post a little law related humor (a small thank-you for the engineer jokes and the plethora of viola jokes Megan has sent me)

It may be a little low brow but here it is anyway.


10. Have you looked through his briefs?
9. He is one hard judge!
8. Counselor, let's do it in chambers.
7. Her attorney withdrew at the last minute.
6. Is it a penal offense?
5. Better leave the handcuffs on.
4. For $200 an hour, she better be good!
3. Can you get him to drop his suit?
2. The judge gave her the stiffest one he could.
1. Think you can get me off?

Food for thought

I stole the idea from somewhere, but had some fun with this to put it together.

Einstein's theory of relatives.

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

He who limps is still walking.
-Stanislaw J Lec

Good news, bad news

This trip is almost over so here's a quick recap.

Bad news: My rental car was lousy. Alignment was off, it was white (looks like a refrigerator) with road grime all over the place and scratches. The alignment was off too.
Good news: The folks at enterprise were VERY accomodating and took it back because of the alignment. They gave me a free upgrade to a Chevy Classic, one of my preferred rental cars. (I still wish they rented out more Fords, but that's coming from a man who has a blue oval tatooed on both cheeks)

Bad news: My flight is delayed for mechanical reasons so I'm stuck in Columbus for now.
Good news: The Columbus terminal has FREE WIFI!! Hence, I'm able to write this.

Bad news: The plant didn't have enough people on day shift to handle all the work I needed to do so I had to come in on night shift.
Good news: Since I worked a double shift I've got in over 40 hours this week (plus sympathy points) so it looks like I will only make a cameo appearance in the office before I head home for a good homemade meal (heck, maybe a beer too.)

All in all, not a bad trip. See everyone back in Chicagoland or Champaign!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Going home

"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they'll try to get them fixed before we arrive. Thank you and remember, nobody loves you or your money more that Southwest Airlines"

Well, it happened. I finished my work here. So unless I get a call before 7AM telling me something broke, then I'm headed home. Talk about a satisfied feeling!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quick update

It now appears that I'm working the night shift, after working over half of the day shift. It's a shame there's not more skilled labor out there or that union regulations create such restrictions on our work patterns (and I'm not anti-union by any means.) But that's not the way things are so I'm chugging coffee and driving back to the plant.

The weird thing...I love my job and these incidental little things! Am I addicted?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

St.Crispin's Day

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

-From Henry V by W Shakespeare

On the road

I'll be gone until Friday (or later) No promises about posting until then.

Remember folks, don't park in the bad part of the airport.

And right after I got new rims too ;-)

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'd laugh but it's too true.

What do you call a county that lacks a modern telecommunications system? "Technologically backward"

What do you call a county that lacks a fully integrated banking system?"Economically underdeveloped."

What do you call a country that lacks a well-connected public transportation system? "United States of America"

I am off to Dayton again tomorrow, but I am stunned by the fact that, unless I travel during the day, I have to pay over $800 bucks for a ticket!!! So I'm going during the day, but not to Dayton. Those flights are still about $600 bucks or sold out. So I'm flying to Columbus, getting a rental car and burning rubber to Dayton. Does anyone else find it funny that this trip will likely take as long as just plain driving there from Chicago?

Happy Monday folks

Well, I've got my Monday attitude turned up high, so there better not be any problems at work today. I really don't have the patients for it.

Got any smart remarks?!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

Every man is proud of what he does well; and no man is proud of what he does not do well. With the former, his heart is in his work; and he will do twice as much of it with less fatigue. The latter performs a little imperfectly, looks at it in disgust, turns from it, and imagines himself exceedingly tired. The little he has done, comes to nothing, for want of finishing."
-Abraham Lincoln

Keeping it real

I get this feeling all the time.

The Traveling Engineer

An "expert" is someone from out of town carrying a clipboard. That's an expression I've used from time to time, but didn't always appreciate. I've always known that if you carried a clipboard or stack of papers and dressed appropriatly it was possible to pass as someone "official" and fool most people into thinking you're someone you're not. In fact I have been mistaken for teaching assistants or even professors when I didn't intend to give that impression.

What I've just begun to appreciate, though, is how willing many people are to follow the direction of someone they've never met before.

Last week I traveled to a manufacturing facility where I've never been before. I've never met anyone there (though I've talked with a few on the phone) so they really had no idea what to expect. So I walked in, boss by my side, and started meeting people. I disappeared for half a day studying product samples and working with my boss. Afterwards we presented our findings to the plant staff.

Here's where it gets interesting. My boss gave me the go-ahead to change the equipment and then went back to studying samples, barely checking in on me. So I went out to the shop and the factory floor and started directing changes. Nobody questioned me. Not the workers on the floor, not the managers and technicians, not the guys in the shop who had 30 more years experience. They all wanted to learn from what I was doing and followed my lead without question.

My boss hardly interfered, even though he still wasn't positive that my analysis of the situation was completely correct. That changed later on when results started coming back. He approached me and (while giving me a good natured punch in the ribs) said he thought I had been right in my analysis. (He had gone out on a limb to support me.)

So we finished up our work together and packed up to go. Then the plant staff asked me to come back next week and work on another piece of equipment. Just two weeks before they hadn't "had the time" to do this work, and yet they wanted me to start in on it as soon as I could get back (regardless of whether or not my boss was along)

So it looks like it really is true...carry a clipboard and (with a little confidence) you can be the expert from out of town. Which is a good thing, because I like the folks at the factory and I'm glad they're having me back to work with them again.

Now if you'll pardon me, I have to re-pack my suitcase.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The difference...

There are four engineers traveling in a car: a mechanical engineer, a chemical engineer, an electrical engineer and a computer engineer. The car breaks down.

"Sounds to me as if the pistons have seized. We'll have to strip down the engine before we can get the car working again" says the mechanical engineer.

"Well, it sounded to me as if the fuel might be contaminated. I think we should purge the fuel system" says the chemical engineer.

"I thought it might be a timing problem or maybe a faulty plug lead" says the electrical engineer.

They all turn to the computer engineer who has said nothing and ask: "Well, what do you think ?"

"Ummm - I think we should close the windows, get out of the car and then get back in and open the windows again".

Old hobbies

I really haven't done much model railroading lately and I'm really beginning to miss it. (You can tell because I start staring off into space when I hear a whistle or air horn.) But I think that's going to change after this week. The photo gallery over at Peter's Rail Pages really has me fired up to start working again. His attention to detail and realistic citiscapes are pretty incredible. Go have a look!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Home again

Well folks, I've made the drive back from Dayton. More posts to follow (in the morning, not tonight) Among them, tales from the road, experiences of a traveling engineer, and possibly a review of the Pontiac G6 (the rental car on my trip)

Until then, it's time to rest a bit. Driving takes a lot out of a person (especially when I managed to hit rush hour in two cities.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Up with the sun, gone with the wind...

With a few hours notice, I'm off to Ohio for the rest of the week. Little to no posting is expected.

Apparently there isn't much air traffic from here to Dayton because the flights are mostly small and very costly. So guess who's driving!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

Strict gun control is an absolute necessity. Without it you just can't hit what you're aiming at.

Timing is everything

I've been saying for a couple of years now that Champaign-Urbana was prime territory for an up-scale microbrewery. Only problem is, it looks like these two beat me to the punch. Who knows though, there's always a market for good beer somewhere. Maybe there will still be a stainless steel plumber's nightmare in my future. One way or the other, I can appreciate a good beer no matter who makes it.

*Hat tip to Ben for the article.

Gadget go-kart

I really want one of these! (pop-up warning) How often do you find a car that folds up and fits in the trunk of another car?

Good morning!

G'morning folks! I'm back in a good mood and (it would appear) good health, so here's a double shot of caffinated humor to start the day.

A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said, "You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee." The husband said, "You are in charge of the cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee." Wife replies, "No you should do it, and besides it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee." Husband replies, " I can't believe that, show me." So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and shows him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says... "Hebrews"

Monday, October 17, 2005

Highway Humor

I don't know what to say about this...I just want to know how it happened.

One more thing...

As a follow up to yesterday's post on privacy, maybe I should point out that the printed medium isn't exactly untraceable either. Lots of printers are now using a system that marks each document with the time of printing and the printer serial number. It's nearly invisible to the naked eye, but even so, it's not impossible to trace or decipher.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Privacy? Don't make me laugh.

A long time ago I ceased to be surprised by the number of tricks that can be used to gather information about people over the net. For instance, this page has a hit counter on it. It doesn't display anything, it just lets me know how many people view my page. But there's more. It also tracks the IP addresses of everyone who visits the page. Each IP address can be traced to an ISP and, in most cases, a particular city or area. As an example. This came from the folks at Statcounter who host some hit tracking software.

(net address blurred for anonymity sake)

It may look like just a little bit of information, but where the hits are coming from (and when) can give you a really neat profile of the kind of people looking at your page. And there's more

You can also figure out the type of operating system and browser a person is using to view your page. Don't believe me?

Go here. There's a simple script to tell what kind of browser you're using.

Instant messaging systems can be dissected in similar ways too. AIM has a neat little blocking feature that let's you hide from specific users. But places like this let you get around that to see if the person is really online or not.

Of course none of this is perfect. Most software can't really compensate for proxy servers. The proxy is kind of a neat service really. It's like calling a buddy in some other city and asking him to download a webpage and send it to you. The website never has to know about it.

And the AIM check trick doesn't work perfectly either. I've enabled a little feature that hides you from all users not on your buddy list. I checked myself (while I was online) and this is what I got.
So it doesn't work all the time. But I'm sure there are other tricks.

So what's a fellow to do? Well, for the most part, don't worry about it. IP addresses can't easily be linked to a name, so your exact surfing habits can't be linked to you in most cases. And as far as personal information out for spyware and don't post anything online you wouldn't want people to read about. In my case this means running scans of my computer and not mentioning my company's name online. In your case maybe other measures are called for.

Regardless, there's probably no need to worry, just be aware that everyone gives up a tiny bit of privacy by being online.


"If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway."

I'm not sure who said it first, but I stole it from Anna's profile.

There's a difference

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Now THAT's fun!

I was browing threw old hack a day pages and found an interesting link to the PEST project. I'm really not too crazy about pellet guns, butI have to say, this is probably as close to a machine gun as I would ever get, and it looks like it would be really fun!

Essentially, this thing uses an electric motor to spin pellets around inside of a small circular chamber. As they reach the outer edge of the chamber they come up to the top speed and are ejected at an impressive velocity. And since there's no chemical propellant, and no cartridge, it's possible to get very rapid fire without ejectinc casings and without it being legally declared a firearm! Can you imagine the fun this type of thing would be with airsoft pellets?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Good news and bad

First the good news. I am still gainfully employed and it appears that my job is indeed safe.

The bad news, several of my coworkers have been laid off.

I am glad that I haven't been given the ax, but at the same time I can't help but feel a little guilty. There are people who were laid off that had much more experience than myself, and there were people who I had begun to care for. Guess I'm lucky to be low on the totem pole because it makes me a small target.

That's all the news for tonight. No blogging until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wood you believe it?

Once in a while I see something that just makes me do a double take. This time it's Livio De Marchi. Look at the galleries on his website and you'll see some really incredible carvings. There's too much to describe, but here's a teaser.

Full sized wooden wooden car... that floats!

*Hat tip to Mavromatic

The HOT toy this Christmas

Does anyone remember the "Robosapien" toys that were supposed to be a really hot item last year? Well this could be even hotter! The always ingenous (and probably bored) community of hackers out there has found a way to turn the robosapien into a potential weapon, fourth of july display, and a REALLY fun toy that would surely be banned for safety reasons.

That's right, somebody has figured out a way to add a flamethrower to that lovable animatyronic toy. Now you can launch destructive raids on any room in your house while still having fun.

I love it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tea anyone?

I really can't envision any practical use for this, but I have been wrong before. Apparently a "Wallace and Grommet" inspired invention now allows you to turn on a tea kettle by sending an SMS message!

I really think this might be better off applied to other gadgets or appliances, but who knows, this could be a hot seller.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
- Samuel Johnson
Good morning everyone!!

Happy Columbus day everyone. Some of you might have the day off...most of you don't. I don't have the day off, so let me just send my best wishes to everyone who does.

Safety Award 6

Last, but not least - What do you do when your forklift can't reach high enough?

I spotted at least 7 OSHA violations without even trying.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Safety Award 5

Almost the end of the series...

What can this guy be thinking!!!???

I guess it's cheaper than getting a bucket truck.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

Tell me, Mr Hoover, what are your interests?
Madam, I am an Engineer
Really? I took you for a gentleman.

- Herbert Hoover

I guess it was supposed to be a compliment but still...

Safety Award 4

When doing target practice, please insure that your backstop is sufficient and your target is properly secured.

I guess in some placecs, soldiers are cheaper than 2x4s.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Hope nobody minds the changes to the sidebar. I've been using this as my start page so the weather window is handy for me. Of course the profile thing is mostly a lark. I've been trying not to post a lot of personal details here, but since I've already posted pictures of myself, and folks have been using my real name in the comments, I guess it doesn't matter.

Safety Award 3

Today's award goes to this guy, who is standing properly on his ladder. Unfortunatly this is the wrong ladder in the wrong place.

Water+Aluminum ladder+ electric drill


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kim The Gun Guy speaks

Non-gun-geeks might as well skip this post

Over at the Nation of Riflemen daily rant, there's a post that I've been anticipating for quite a while. The range report for the Mech-Tech-CCU has finally been posted.

Now to explain why this is so important...A long time back I bought into the concept of "companion guns." Basically, any long-gun/handgun pairing which would allow you to share ammunition between firearms, thus making it possible to carry a rifle and a handgun without having to double up on the ammunition you're carrying.

For quite some I'm I've toyed with the idea of getting an M1911 style handgun, but, as many a marksman has said, a handgun is what you use when you don't have time to get your rifle. So if I get an M1911, then I'd want to get a rifle to compliment it. Sadly, Marlin is no longer making their Camp Carbine, so the best rifle using M1911 magazines isn't available at any reasonable price.

Here is where the CCU comes in.

The unit by itself is not a firearm (it can't fire a bullet) but if you combine it with the lower half of a M1911, then you have a complete firearm which takes M1911 magazines and gives you the basic benefits of a long-gun. Take the receiver out of the CCU, put the M1911 barrel and slide back on, and you have a functional handgun.

With the stopping power of a 45acp and the accuracy of a rifle barrel together you end up with the best of both worlds.

Sounds like it's time for me to start saving up my pennies! (and plenty of them)

Safety Award 2

Continuing yesterday's theme, another safety reminder.

Never leave a load unsecured in the back of your truck.

At least he had good brakes.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Today's safety award

The proper use of ladders: what not to do.

Quote of the unspecified temporal interval

"One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license."

- P. J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

How far out is THIS?

I thought the X prize was ambitions, but THIS? I guess it could happen, but I can't see it being nearly as much of a hit as Nascar. It would be kind of cool though.

Ah school days

Visiting everyone back at the University of Illinois reminded me exactly why I was so glad to graduate. Mainly, HOMEWORK!! Sadly a student's work is never really done, even after class there's plenty of work to be done, whereas I now have free time (to do stuff like this) after I'm out of the office.

The other thing I don't miss was going to math class. I was never a natural at it like some people but I did alright so long as I didn't get frustrated.

OK, so I never did this, but I would have liked to hand in work like this on some occasions.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Firearms quote

From Matt at IOT (Illini On Target)

My military rifles, each summed up in one word:
Enfield No.4 Mk.I - Elegant
Mauser Karabiner 98k - German
Mosin-Nagant M91/30 - OUCH

Sunday, October 02, 2005

When small blessings add up

I don't say it often enough, but my friends are really awesome!

Thanks to all of you I had a wonderful weekend.

Susan, Jill, Mike, and Megan for being such great company

Joe, for dropping everything to see me

Erin and Jess for always being there

Anna, for showing me how much fun it is to hang out (literally) in a tree and talk all afternoon

And of course, Eva and Steve for always looking out for me

(Hope I didn't forget anyone)

You guys rock my world!!!