ouch, an essay with no less than 18 citations:
me and eric had a great day kiting at the beach on saturday. eric got beat a bit before me so he kindly took some photos. here’s the basics for those unfamiliar.
this is the setup at linda mar beach in Pacifica, a couple miles south of san francisco. this is called “messy” because there’s lots of whitewater and few clean waves. the wind is blowing on-shore which is safe because if i drop the kite in the water i’ll end up on the beach pretty fast, but it also means i’m facing the beach and can’t see the waves coming at me. since it’s messy the waves are all over and unpredictable, so i’m constantly checking over my shoulder to make sure i don’t get clobbered. the kite lines are 30m long, there’s four of them attached to the corners of the kite which lets me steer it and change the amount of power. compared to a sailboat, the kiteboard is really fast and maneuverable, but it can only go a few degrees into the wind so mostly you just go back and forth perpendicular to the wind. the board is strapped to my feet, it’s about 5 feet long. because of the combination of poor upwind ability of the board, messiness and on-shore wind, we could only sail on the “inside” of the breakzone, otherwise we’d normally sail to the “outside” as well, beyond the breaking waves where life is a bit calmer.
back in boston this would be ‘big’ surf, but out here it’s pretty small.
this is one of the fun parts! if you zoom up a wave face and move the kite properly, you can fly! you just hang off the kite like a parachute, and it lets you down really gently.Â the other fun part is that i can ride way more waves than the surfers because i just zip to the right spot easily instead of paddling. (to surf a wave you must position yourself very precisely on the wave, it takes a lot of skill to do this on a surfboard)
can’t beat an ocean sunset!
“i need a blanket that thermoregulates, so both me and my girl are comfortable”
“this is only a problem because you desire women of a significantly different temperature than yourself”
sunday morning our old MITERS (aka: nerd club-house) friends tim and dave were visiting from out of town. by about noon all of us had that empty aching feeling in our bellies, and repeated inspections of the fridge and surrounding area turned up nary a crumb! what’s a bunch of poor^H^H^H^H, hungry emeryville lads to do in these most desperate times? off to the bread factory! we used to feel lucky that there was a great bread factory just 3 blocks away. that was when we only knew about the pay service center up front. then we discovered the free service area out back! we must truly consider ourselves blessed. mountains of free, fresh bread! it is moments like these that i think god is truly looking down upon us all.
(tim says: this makes it sound like they’re losing business due to unlocked dumpsters - in fact, their bread is amazing so we not only tell everyone so, we give them free samples to prove it!Â just like free software, the dumpster is great grass-roots advertising)
What do brilliant roboticists take notes on? BANANA PEELS
(click to enlarge)
the biodegradable land mine:
version 1: after it’s in the ground for 10 years, it degrades
version 2: it degrades into nutrients for the soil
version 3: it also has seeds in it so if it explodes, it scatters seeds all about
version 4: the seeds germinate in the body of killed farmer
i’ve bumped into thee
your life -
i stepped out of place
you made a stand
we share this space
all is quiet
lying calmly in the snow
i look up
my breath is slow
blue sky above
searing pain below
here you’ll stay
in the flow
i slide away
(daphna says: “it looks like you are writing angsty 13-year-old poetry!”. in fact, i was writing about hitting a tree while snowboarding - isn’t it obvious? i couldn’t possibly take myself so seriously as an angsty 13-year-old. pehaps it is the mark of good poetry that the reader sees in it a reflection of themselves?)
roomba + baby + knife. strap baby to roomba. strap knife to baby. build 2 kits and start vacuuming. roomba roulette!
“inspired” by these other really bad ideas:
hamster fighting machine and roomba frogger - this last one executed by my friend limor, although i must point out - bad form! keep sick humor out of real world, not so funny there when jimmy loses eye! maybe try second life?
i rather like our instructables logo, so i was about to go and order a bunch of t-shirts, slapping the logo right across the chest. luckily, fantasy intervened and in a moment of fancying ourselves as busty women we discovered some unintended consequences! now what do i do? go ahead with a racy logo for the collaborative happy fun-ness that is instructables?Â giving a whole new meaning to “step by step collaboration”?
on saturday I went over to Zeum to help saul with a Howtoons session. Zeum is an art & technology museum for kids in san francisco. Here’s the scene as i walked up the sidewalk to the museum. In front they have a really nice restored carousel, it’s exactly 100 years old and fully operational. up the path you’ll notice - hey, its saul’s dune buggy! wonder if they’ll ticket that? anyway this is the first howtoons session i’ve done since we were at MIT, and also the first one with “real” kids, as opposed to kids of MIT professors. we were invited to zeum by our friend Binka, a fellow media lab grad who is now a program manager at the museum. last month i was out of town but i heard saul helped 20 kids build a room-size 3D gantry using string and eye-bolts in the walls. the idea is that you can stand in one place, and just by pulling on 2 different strings you can move a hook anywhere in the room and pick stuff up.Â i picture 20 inspired kids screwing eyebolts into their bedroom walls.Â or their warehouses in emeryville!Â anyway this week we started with the hippo harmonizer, which is always a crowd pleaser. these howtoons events always remind me of the extreme segregation of kids in our society - since starting college i’ve had no interaction with kids whatsoever except occasionally seeing them in stores. you don’t see them at work, at home - it’s kind of like they don’t exist. then you have your own, and all of a sudden you are never free of kids again? we finished up the hippo harmonizer, and then went on to the simple electric motor, which is a much harder project although it is really neat. here’s saul helping a couple of kids with their motors:
(all the kids signed release forms since we were videoing the whole thing)
while we were making the hippo harmonizers i figured out a way to make myself a ring out of a nickel - just in time since my mood ring has completely disintegrated.Â after the howtoons, Binka kindly showed us around zeum, it’s a really cool place! by far the funkiest kids museum i have been to (as compared to “straight laced”). i was really impressed by their exhibits too, very modern and sophisticated with far better use of computers than any other museum i’ve seen.
after the tour, binka scored us some tickets to the carousel! it was all that we imagined and more. here’s me and my friend jim:
and the most joy-per-megabyte, a video: cavorting carousel
my friend emma recommended once to measure my day by the number of ridiculous things i did.Â thanks emma!
laser cutter follies, my latest instructable
I posted an article today over on the Squid Labs blog:
a few days ago we were kindly invited to a party at a food invention firm.Â they had a large display of the dozens of branded food products they had developed, it was amusing to see some of the older ones that never quite hit it big.Â the catering was top-notch as you might expect.Â of course, the reason we went was to learn more about how foods are developed!Â they are a bit like experimental chemists although they don’t need an NMR or to check their results.Â there were many cabinets of interesting ingredients like the one shown above (click for full size) - the three rows are: “cheese flavorings”, “beef flavorings / masking agents” and “chicken flavorings”.Â the ceo was kind enough to show us their machinery as well, which included things like a 5-foot high tilt-head mixer.Â here’s a fun one, it’s a “dual extruder”, which we think means it can make a never-ending corn-dog.
Warning signs on industrial machines are kind of cute:
we also heard a rumor that McDonalds wanted to put a shrimp salad on their menu, but there weren’t enough shrimp in the world to do it.Â i’m skeptical.Â mcdonalds claims about 30,000 restaurants.Â surely there are far more than 30k non-mcdonalds serving shrimp meals?Â but i’ll let the rumor fly since i prefer not to extinct the shrimp, plus the bycatch on shrimp trawling is one of the worst of any seafood.
earlier this week, three scientists huddle about an experiment at the lab…
if you work with highly trained scientists like i do, you are i’m sure quite familiar with their penchant for endless discourse in pursuit of Fact and Truth.Â enter into any debate with them and you will sooner or later emerge weary and confused, questioning not only the premise you started with but also perhaps your given name and favorite color.Â every so often, two scientists will come to a disagreement between each other.Â in the wild this is uncommon since scientists are few and far between, and unless their disciplines are similar they will defer to the one with the best knowledge of the subject matter.Â when the scientists are of the same discipline, typically they end up agreeing with each other sooner or later.Â so it is rare that a disagreement between scientists occurs where the expected outcome is interminable discourse.Â however, here at the lab we have a high concentration of scientists with similar disciplines and as a result we occasionally witness a phenomenon so unique and so startling it is little known in the outside world.Â what happens is this:Â after a few relatively short periods of discourse on a topic, the two conflicting scientists quickly realize that no consensus will be reached.Â they furthermore conclude that the other scientist - being like themself - will never be convinced using the discourse method.Â and just as quickly the two scientists both conclude that to avoid a stalemate, new tactics must be employed.Â thus it was that in the early afternoon of tuesday last week i heard some scuffling just outside my cubicle and turned to see… DOCTOR FIGHT!Â PhD MIT was grappling on the carpet with PhD Stanford!Â below, mit seems to have the upper hand.Â you’ll find out who won when the research report comes out in a few months…
i was reminded of a simple calculation i did a while back on fuel efficiency for different modes of transport:
- travel from boston to san francisco
- car at 20mpg with 4 people in it: 80mpg per person
- full airbus A320: 32 gallons fuel per passenger, for 80mpg per person
- full greyhound bus: about 300mpg per person
of course, the flight is much faster than a car so you do it much more often.
today was progress day. in the morning a well-known businessman turned progressive activist visited the lab. he was here to talk about a couple things, but not blinky bike wheels. then he saw the bike wheels! and bought 50. not what i was expecting when i woke up this morning. i’ve been thinking for a while about how to use the blinky bike wheels to promote bike activism and other progressive causes, so this is helpful.
thinking about reusable containers in retail. does anyone know what happened to san fran’s proposed plastic bag tax? also it seems like nobody even notices that costco doesn’t have shopping bags at the checkout. none. never have. they keep a pile of used cardboard boxes by the checkout if you need to carry small items. this is good.
emeryville: i went to the “general plan steering comittee” meeting. far more interesting than previous city meetings. most of the meeting was Q&A with a panel of the 5 largest developers in the city. as someone who previously knew little about the workings of city development, i learned a lot of interesting things.
- the major contention in city development is that land prices (currently around $100 per sq. ft. of dirt) are driven by the return rate on the highest-return type of use, which happens to be condos. this results in a community problem because retail is not profitable at those land prices, yet condo desirability is related to having nearby retail. who wants to build the unprofitable retail space? the developers and city work together to make sure each development keeps things in balance - the larger proposed developments are all required to be mixed-use i think.
- hazmats: the water table in emeryville is 3 feet below ground level, and is filled with hazmats (our very own superfund site is just 10 blocks down the street!). as a result there is almost no subterranean development (such as parking) because normally you pump leaking groundwater into the sewer. if it’s filled with hazmats you can’t do that - disposal of hazmat-filled water is pricey.
- burning man: the huge emery bay retail complex just installed a major sculpture from this year’s burning man. it’s a nice piece although it seems out of place in the current location.
- feminist taking-back?: during the meeting one of the panel members - a woman - used the phrase “shot my load” in a completely casual way.