I came up with a new design for the piano bench – you can check it out here. The basic plan is to use two of the nice big pieces of birdseye maple from the original design in a new way, while keeping it simple enough that I can finish the bench in a reasonable amount of time. T-minus a little more than two months ’til the graduate school application is due.

I’m actually kind of glad I have a frisbee game tomorrow evening during the presidential debate. I know if I were home that I’d watch, but I’d get really angry and probably throw things at the TV, and that’d not be good.

posted September 29, 2004 – 1:46 pm

Craft Day yesterday was a great success – the weather was just right for spending the afternoon outside painting, constructing, drawing and woodworking.

This morning, I came across this chip that seems to be exactly what I need to get the robot arm up and running again. I knew such a IC must have existed, but the only things I could find to control motors and keep track of the encoder positions were complete add-on boards that were hundreds of dollars apiece.

It’s gonna be a busy fall, project-wise – I want to finally finish the piano bench, and I’m also putting together a portfolio for an application to graduate school. The robot arm may just have to wait…

posted September 27, 2004 – 6:14 am

Last night, Rif, Anna, Danielle and I checked out the new Indian restaurant in Harvard Square, Tamarind Bay. It definitely breaks out of the typical Indian restaurant mold, and ought to be pretty successful.

It took over the location from Casa Mexico, and they’ve really squeezed about as many tables into the basement space as possible. In fact, our tables were separated by a pole, though there was no “obstructed view” discount. After we navigated to our seats, there was plenty of room.

A quick look at the menu lets you know pretty quickly this isn’t your ordinary curry house. They claim (and we believed them) each dish is cooked to order, rather than in large batches. Anna’s stewed black lentils were almost chocolatey, like an Indian mole sauce. My fish-of-the-day coconut curry was delicate and flavorful, and Danielle’s “raw banana dumplings” were tasty, though we couldn’t really discern any banana flavor. Rif’s vegetarian dish was a little spicier than we liked, but good none the less.

The service was hit-or-miss – they brought our check without offering dessert, and when we inquired after the banana pancakes, we were told they were out. However, all the food arrived at the same time, my beer was cold, and overall they were quite nice.

The prices are pretty reasonable – entrees run $10-$20. Though it might be more expensive than your neighborhood Indian take-out place, this isn’t your neighborhood Indian take-out place. Recommended for when you’re in the mood for really good, different Indian food.

posted September 26, 2004 – 10:12 am

Awesomest Matrix spoof ever.

posted September 24, 2004 – 11:22 am

Last night we went out to Chez Henri for Matt’s birthday (happy birthday, Matt!). Boy is that place great! The bartender mixes drinks perfectly, and the food is always top-notch.

Full from dinner, I somehow managed to get myself over to Medford for a late-night (under-the-lights) frisbee game – it was probably good to work off all those calories as quickly as possible. It was a busy week, exercise-wise, but I have a few days off as I’m not playing frisbee this weekend. I am, however, having craft day on Sunday.

posted September 24, 2004 – 6:55 am

I finally had a chance to scan in the prints from the medium format pictures from Ithaca. Check ’em out here.

posted September 21, 2004 – 7:33 pm

It’s about time for John Kerry to do something. I’m not sure it counts, or if it’s enough, but he made a stellar speech about Iraq at NYU recently – check it out here.

The hype about Kerry right after he won the nomination was that he was no Al Gore. Unfortunately, it seems to not quite be true – his personality really hasn’t shown through in the past few months, and his campaign hasn’t taken any sort of offensive position in the race. Analysts of all sorts have said in recent weeks that unless Kerry does something (instead of just reacting to Bush and the media), it doesn’t look good. So what are you waiting for, man?

posted September 20, 2004 – 12:15 pm

It was a bit of a wild weekend, as Sectionals was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, the remnants of hurricane George (or was it Ivan?) passed through the area on Saturday, too late for the tournament to be pushed back. So we played about 30 minutes of frisbee in 55 degree pounding rain with 20 mile per hour winds! About when I was ready to call it quits on my own, the tournament directors called things off and I took a big fat nap for the rest of the day.

We – Lovefly9, a team pieced together from bits of Love Child, Blackfly and Tidal 9 – played four and a half games yesterday, and other teams are going back to play more next weekend. Since we were in it for fun (rather than trying to go on to regionals) and most of the team is going to Clambake next weekend, we’re not gonna finish sectionals.

The weather lately (Saturday excluded) has been absolutely perfect – I even broke out the leather jacket I bought in Italy. If you’re in New England, hope you’ve been enjoying your month of fall.

posted September 20, 2004 – 11:23 am

Yesterday’s trip to the Apple store was a success, and I’m now happily running the GIMP at home.

posted September 17, 2004 – 8:17 am

I’m off to the mall (ick!) at lunchtime to pick up the latest version of Mac OS X (Panther). I’d really like to be running the GIMP at home, and my options are as follows:

  • continue running OS X version 10.2 and spend about 6 hours compiling and installing X11 and an old version of GIMP (1.2 instead of 2.0)
  • spend $100 on OS X 10.3 and get pre-compiled versions of X11 and the GIMP
  • wait ’til January for Mac OS X Tiger to come out
  • buy a full version of Photoshop for my current OS (at $600, not a pleasant prospect)

Since I’ll use GIMP for a bunch of stuff this fall (photo editting & portfolio stuff), seems like spending $130 to get the latest version of everything running without a headache makes the most sense.

The hardest part of the trip is gonna be resisting the urge to buy the pretty toys they have at the Apple Store.

posted September 16, 2004 – 8:48 am

Nature published (online, at least) the responses of Bush and Kerry to 15 science-related questions. While I was hoping for some interesting answers, those posted just reinforce the fact that the Bush campaign has its head in the sand and the Kerry campaign gives the boring answer without really taking a hard position on any particular issue. It’s gonna be a damn close election, I think.

Speaking of close elections, the Tuesday Democratic primary for the Massachusetts State Representative in Somerville/Medford came down to about 120 votes! I’m glad Sciortino won – he ran on a platform of equal rights (among other things), in contrast to Ciampa, who voted in favor of a Massachusetts constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage.

posted September 16, 2004 – 5:51 am

I took the 120 negatives from Ithaca to Cameras, Inc. last night, and also picked up a used light table. The light table is the perfect size for looking at a whole archival sheet full of slides, and the color is much better than holding a slide up in front of either a white portion of the computer monitor or a light bulb. Once I get my loupe from B&H;, I’ll be all set.

As a side note, I did some shopping for the light table and loupe at Hunt’s Photo in Melrose and found them to be completely un-helpful. They lacked any real knowledge about the items they tried to sell me, were seriously overpriced, and the customer service was severely lacking. Guess I know where I won’t be going again…

The Ithaca pictures should be back on Friday.

posted September 15, 2004 – 12:16 pm

I really enjoyed this fascinating article from the Times about a psychology experiment performed on the subway. That’s my kind of science…

I also got a kick out of this (well annotated) collection of bad high school senior portraits. Good stuff.

Finally, here’s one of the best of the pictures I took recently in Ithaca – check it out. Still haven’t gotten the medium format pictures printed or scanned any better, but I will soon.

posted September 14, 2004 – 6:36 am

I managed to avoid visiting Electoral-vote.com for almost a week after hearing about it from Rif. Unfortunately, I’m now addicted, and will probably lose sleep on a nightly basis worrying about who’s gonna win.

We had a great time camping this weekend at Beartown State Forest in Western Mass. Although we managed to get a campsite without one, reservations are recommended – especially nice looking are sites number 8, 10, 11 and 12. Surprisingly absent out there, however, was much in the way of wildlife. We saw no big birds and no mammals bigger than chipmunks.

posted September 13, 2004 – 10:59 am

Good news: the light leak in the Rolleiflex is completely gone! Apparently, the detective work paid off and it was exactly as I suspected (the second red window on the bottom of the camera). The pictures from Ithaca look spectacular!

Zona did a great job with the development, and the four hour turnaround time is much better than the five days the place in Davis Square takes. It’s tempting to find a local darkroom where I could make my own prints from the negatives, but I think that’s more than I want to get into right now.

Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get prints made (Zona wanted another three days to do that, and I was impatient), and my negative scanner doesn’t scan medium format negatives, so the only images I have are from putting the negatives on a flatbed scanner. Gross as they are, you can see them here, and at least get a sense that they’re better than before.

[ A note to the nice band I took pictures of at the Ithaca Farmers Market: I’ll probably get some prints made eventually. If you want copies, drop me an email with a mailing address. And the scanned in version above really doesn’t do the pictures that include you justice – they look great! ]

posted September 9, 2004 – 6:47 am

From the man who brought you Defective Yeti, a new website was recently born: Tricks of the Trade. Matthew Baldwin collects tips from all sorts of people and posts them to the website, a la his article at The Morning News.

You can check out the trick I sent in, posted today (September 7, 2004) under the category “Engineer”, here.

posted September 7, 2004 – 11:30 am

It was a whirlwind weekend of weddings, among other things. Both my cousin Rebekah and college housemate Amanda were married on Sunday afternoon (at about the same time, not to each other, about 300 miles apart). I spent the better part of the weekend in Ithaca, swimming under waterfalls, visiting the Farmers Market, and touring lower Cayuga Lake.

I took a bunch of pictures at the market (and elsewhere along the way) with the old camera – those photos should be up here in a few days. I’m hopeful the light leak issue has been solved.

On Sunday, I made my way back to Boston for wedding numero deux, and en route discovered a great restaurant in West Stockbridge, MA called The Village Oven.

It’s likely to be a busy frisbee week as both Fall Hat League and Fall Club League start up. I haven’t exercised enough lately, so I’m pretty excited.

posted September 7, 2004 – 6:32 am

I have a new theory on the light leak in the Rolleiflex. And it goes. A little something. Like this:

There are two small, red windows on the camera for viewing frame numbers. One is for 120 size film, and is positioned in such a way that any light entering through the window falls directly on the paper backing of the film. I don’t believe this window is causing the light leaks (see some examples here). The other window is for B2 film (6x9cm) – a format I’m not using – and could be causing the leaks.

Because of the window position in the camera, light that leaked in through this second, “B2” window would actually fall on the frame after the currently loaded frame. So if I’m shooting frame number 6, the light leak is already fogging up frame number 7. This explains why I saw a light leak mark on the negative beyond frame number 12 (the last usable frame).

I’ve blocked up the second, “B2” window and will take a roll of film this weekend.

On a related note, Zona Photo Labs finally got a website. They did a beautiful, quick job with both sets of slides I’ve had them develop, and they have a reputation as the place to go in Cambridge/Somerville. Instead of the local Cameras, Inc. (which is slow to develop 120 film ’cause they send it out), I’m gonna try Zona when I shoot the next roll with the Rolleiflex.

posted September 2, 2004 – 8:32 am

Matt updated his website recently to add a (very funny) summary of emails he’s received in response to his text-only Where’s Waldo page. Check it out here.

Matt and I discovered that not only did the Thirsty Scholar recently raise its prices, the food quality took a nose dive since we’d eaten there last. Too bad, really – it was one of the last bars with cheap, decent food. Cue the “back in my day” comments… now.

posted September 1, 2004 – 8:50 am
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