Category Archives: Uncategorized

NASA Ratchet Wrench

I’ve had a 3D printer of my own for a couple of years now, and have had one at work for about a year. I’ve been fascinated with the possibilities of it, and have gotten pretty good at being able to design and print my own objects. When the news hit about NASA using a 3D printer on the International Space Station to build a ratchet wrench, I knew I’d have to try it for myself. Continue reading NASA Ratchet Wrench

2009 Goals

I hesitate to call them resolutions, as there isn’t really anything earth shattering about them. However, I do think that these are realistic goals that need to be done this year.

  1. Lose 30 Pounds
    • I started on the Hacker’s Diet back in August, and have lost twenty pounds since then. I have noticed small changes in me, and I like that there is less of me to drag around.
    • While the last couple of months have had zero lost weight, I also haven’t gained any weight. Considering November started off with a two week visit from my mother-in-law and lots of banana bread, followed by Thanksgiving, my birthday and the holidays, I consider that a win.
    • So, keeping with the winning streak, I intend to lose another 30 pounds by the end of 2009.
  2. Get to work on time
    • I’ve gotten into a really bad habit of dragging myself to work almost whenever I feel like it. I have flex time, so as long as I put in eight hours it’s not a huge problem. However, I now have the reputation now of being a bit unreliable when it comes to showing up to work and keeping early morning appointments.
    • The traditional Boeing engineering schedule is 7:30am to 4pm with an unpaid half hour off for lunch. I’m not too keen on being in at 7:30am, but considering some of my co-workers had been here four hours by the time I got in today at 11am, I think there is room for improvement.
    • My lead is usually in at 9am, which strikes me as a much more sane time. Showing up to work either before or at the same time as him on a daily basis would go a long ways towards reforming my image as a night owl.
  3. Spend less time "wasting time" on the computer
    • I have a habit of getting lost on the Internet. It’s time spent in a daze, reading whatever is in front of my eyes. As one person on Wikipedia put it, it’s a library that never closes. I always find it fascinating and tend to learn a lot of marginally useful things, but I rarely produce anything useful from it. Even just sitting here on LiveJournal and writing down these goals is a useful exception to this behavior.
    • While I don’t think it would be healthy to stop all online exploration, it needs to be balanced with productive activities such as writing, programming or just plain unplugging and getting out of the house.
    • I think that spending more focused time on finishing some projects I have started will help, but there are drawbacks.
      • Organizing and then executing tends to be my biggest pitfall. I can waste lots of time organizing, or waste lots of time executing without organization. For example, if I just "spend time doing something" I won’t know where to start, or I’ll get frustrated quickly and stop.
      • I’ve tried to-do lists like Jott and Evernote, but they tend to be easily ignored.
      • I haven’t taken a close look at idea or mind-mapping, but it feels like it is in the wrong direction for me. Big picture stuff I tend to understand.
      • I need to get better at taking a task and breaking it into sub-tasks so that it doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming or grandiose.
    • If anyone has any suggestions on this, I’m all ears.
  4. Focus more on my health
    • Some of it I’d rather not go into on a public posting, but suffice to say it includes the above three goals (diet, a more regular routine and behavior modification / "mental health").
  5. Grow Food
    • As a kid, my mother and father went to a lot of trouble to make sure that my brother and I had plenty of fresh food on the table. Since there wasn’t much else in the way of entertainment out in the boondocks, I was usually dragged kicking and screaming into the garden to help.
    • Over time, I had gotten lazy with respect to food and nutrition and took a lot of things that I had back then for granted. As part of my diet, I took a good hard look at what I was ingesting and decided to quit eating crap.
    • Then the economy took a dump. In reading up on how people survived the Great Depression, the one overwhelming fact was that people were able to grow their own food. Even city dwellers found creative ways to have a garden, and were able to either eat what they grew or trade it for other goods.
    • So, I’m figuring out how to do this. The city of Seattle has a system of community gardens called P-Patches that are available for a minimum investment of time and money. Also, while my mom was out here for Christmas, I made one of her gifts to me teaching / reminding me how to grow plants. I’ve got a few herbs and a juniper that will become a bonsai tree. They seem to be dying already, but it’s a cheap start.
  6. Spread my money around a bit
    • Yes, that sounds bizarre in this economy but I can’t think of a better way to say it. This doesn’t mean that I intend to spend more money, but it does mean that I should spend my money on a more diverse group of… recipients?
    • For example, in the past I have used what I consider discretionary spending primarily on physical stuff; books, computer parts, tools, and other things. While this isn’t bad, I haven’t spent as much on ideas, causes or "free" software.
    • In the process of buying small apps for my iPhone, I realized that I have access to many more applications that could also use a few bucks here and there. It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to do, but it seems that it’s easier to ignore the ideas, causes and "free" software while focusing on buying stuff.
    • Before the end of 2008, I gave $30 to the Wikimedia Foundation. Not much, and certainly not much compared to how often I use it, but it was a start. Mozilla, Kiva, TortoiseSVN and The Nature Conservancy are on my short list as well.


Can someone explain to me why the "liberal-biased main stream media" has yet to snuff out Governor Palin and her irresponsible name calling? She has direct connections to the Alaskan Independence Party, a pro-violence extremist group with ties to Iran, yet she gets to parade around and attempt to smear Obama as "anti-American"?

The articles in Salon, the Toronto Star and Huffington Post should be enough to shame Presidential Barbie into silence on the issue, and yet she blathers on.

Privilege Meme

Yanked from


From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Indiana State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

(Like Mer, I also feel a need to add qualifiers, for example: dad went to the local community college for a semester before joining the Air Force; lots of teachers and veterinarians in the family, both of which are highly educated and a big deal in farm country, but no people physicians or professors; I went to a private high school due to a need-based scholarship that paid for most of it; the single family vacation that didn’t involve visiting relatives did involve a hotel… technically; and I’m not sure if having a phone in my room counts as “privilege” if I had to wire it up to the family line myself)

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home

9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in High School
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

Cuil, Part Deux

Seems I’m not the only one who didn’t believe the hype. Now that their servers are working again, I can actually attempt to use it. For comparison, I’ll try a simple, unique, single word search. Using my last name:

  1. Google: 13,500 hits
  2. Yahoo!: 29,300 hits
  3. MSN / Live Search: 7,450 hits
  4. Ask: 1,410 hits

Cuil? No such luck. Evidently my last name might be…

  • a typo. Please check your spelling.
  • your search includes a term that is very rare. Try to find a more common substitute.
  • too many search terms. Please try fewer terms.

Or I should try to think of different words to describe my search. How about “SAY MY NAME BITCH!“? Not only does it return results, it includes such relevant categories as “Number-one Singles in New Zealand” and links to sites such as Utterz – I always say my name is Tom. Its easier.

121,617,892,992 web pages, and no mention of me at all. Apparently I’m not as Cuil as I thought.


Let’s make a few assumptions about Cuil:

None of this changes the fact that their server farm is tits up.

Moral of the story: Brag if you want, but if the only search that doesn’t return “No results because of high load…” is a search for “google”, you will look dumb.