gvdub: (Default)
We're in Santa Fe this week visiting my brother. We had a nice long weekend doing stuff with him and his wife (museums, galleries, a couple of good food places, hanging out and getting caught up), but they're both back to work and we've got a couple of days to amuse ourselves before we head back to L.A., so today we decided to drive up to Los Alamos.

Being New Mexico, there's some pretty spectacular scenery along the way, and seeing red sandstone buttes in sunshine silhouetted against a distant thunderstorm with visible rain sheets was quite the classic postcard moment. The climb up to the plateau where Los Alamos sits is pretty spectacular itself, and I was playing in my mind scenes of Oppenheimer, Teller, Feynman, et al making that same trek on unimproved roads during the war years as we were driving up with a 600 foot drop just a couple feet to our right.

We stopped into the Bradbury Science Museum, named after Norris Bradbury, who was the post-war director of the labs. Part of the exhibit there is actual size replicas of Fat Man and LIttle Boy displayed next to replicas of modern warheads. To realize that I could have fit the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in the back of a pickup truck (admittedly a little of it would have been hanging out the back) was a little chilling. Seeing the modern warhead that could fit in the back seat of a sedan was even more so. The museum was, overall, PR spin for the lab, which was pretty much what I expected (what else would it be?), but still a worthwhile visit because of some excellent science content.

But the high point was a visit to Los Alamos Sales Company, better known as "The Black Hole" blackholesurplus.com/, which sells electronic and other surplus mostly generated by the lab. Want a mechanical calculator that was actually used in the Manhattan Project? They got 'em. Want' some outdated radionic test equipment? They got it. I picked up an electronic instrument chassis box for a project I'm working on, so my espresso will soon be made with the assistance of some Los Alamos surplus. Atomic Coffee, indeed!

gvdub: (Default)
It is, in fact, only a test of the Dreamwidth cross-posting marching and chowder society (and do they eat the chowder while they're marching? Wouldn't that get messy?). Stay tuned. Film at 11, although who knows of what.
gvdub: Arrarex Caravel Manual Espresso Machine (espresso)
Got the machine from Italy, delivered pretty quickly. the Flickr stream is here. Not quite as Streamline Moderne as my other machine, but it pulls a real nice shot.
gvdub: Arrarex Caravel Manual Espresso Machine (espresso)
Okay, the vintage Italian espresso machine thing seems to have taken hold.
You know the drill )
gvdub: (Default)
Thought you might be interested in this auction on Ebay. It's still got a week to go.
gvdub: Arrarex Caravel Manual Espresso Machine (espresso)
Short ristretto shot of Monday roasted Mokha/Sumatra blend.
gvdub: (Default)
Soon, she will be mine

... )

gvdub: (Default)
The Saturday morning series looks to be even better...

behind cut to avoid spoilers )
gvdub: (politics)
For those of you who don't live in the L.A. area, we're having a fairly big election tomorrow (didn't elections used to just be in November, on Election Day, instead of scattered willy-nilly through the year?). At stake are the mayoralty, city attorney, a number of council seats, community college board, and a raft of stupid propositions and other crap all bought and paid for by the usual suspects.

Even if I hadn't been following the news, I'd know because local politicians have discovered the internet and, even more importantly, the charms of spamming.

The most egregious example is an email I received from a candidate for city attorney who wants to remind me that he's not in the thrall of the 'downtown political machine' but a prosecutor who will vigorously pursue all the people that can be gathered together under the code words that are used to signify 'brown'. To top it off, the subject line of this spam is 'Public Safety Message'. I suppose that's to make sure that people read it, 'cause the dam might have broken or something and the city figured that sending out email was the best way to announce it in order to avoid panic. This idiot's name, btw, is Michael Amerian (just like 'American, only without that pesky 'c', 'cause you know there's one of them in 'Communist', isn't there?). Hmmm, I wonder who I'm gonna vote for tomorrow? I suspect I know who it's not going to be.
gvdub: Arrarex Caravel Manual Espresso Machine (coffee)
Okay, so I’ll cop to roasting my own coffee. Mostly because the stuff you get from the market is old – in some cases, really old – and with coffee, freshness makes such a huge difference. Not to mention that most of the stuff you get from specialty coffee shops still isn’t that fresh, and the style seems to be towards over-roasting (hey folks, real espresso isn’t burnt black and oily so that all you taste is carbon. Unless, of course, you’re a big chain trying to disguise the taste of less than premium coffee beans), and over charging. Premium greens are a couple bucks a pound at most in the quantities that big chains buy, roasting doesn’t cost them that much, and then they charge you $15/lb because they put a mermaid on the front of the bag. Greens cost me about $4-5/lb on average. The occasional, really special lot that would be well over $20/lb in the fancy coffee store might run as much as $7/lb from the greens supplier I most often buy from. I’d say that roasting coffee has actually saved me money over the long run, as well as getting me much better quality coffee than I’d have otherwise.

“More )
gvdub: (politics)
Recently, a number of friends have sent me links to online petitions for one thing or another. When I realized I was getting unreasonably annoyed at this, I had to give it some thought because these are, after all, friends for whom I care. Here are the conclusions I've come to.

1. Online petitions are worth exactly as much as the paper they're printed on – in other words, nothing. They cannot offer proof of anything. Anybody could collect hundreds of thousands of email addresses (znc I can point you at a number of places that will sell you exactly that) and paste them on a petition. 'Signing' an online petition might make you feel good, or as if you've taken action, but it doesn't really accomplish anything.

2. That list of email addresses can be harvested and sold to spammers. I wouldn't be surprised if a number of circulating petitions are being used for exactly that. What do we really know about the people who are behind any given online petition, anyway?

3. Signing a petition makes many people feel as if they've been let off the hook. They've done their bit now, and don't have to worry about it anymore. This leads to complacency and a sense of powerlessness and frustration when the outcome of that particular issue isn't what the signee desires.

There's a lot more that I could extrapolate, but those are my initial thoughts.

I'm a big believer in social activism, individual initiative, and community involvement. But I think that you need to get your hands dirty. Care about an issue? Do some research to make sure that you've got all the facts and that particular rock is someplace you're comfortable standing on, then get out there and work for it. That's how stuff gets done. Knock on doors. Talk to people. Try to help them see things from the same angle you're looking from. Show up at that council meeting/school board/senate hearing/environmental impact study/what have you yourself, get up, and be a goad. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, whatever they're afflicted with or comfortable about. Question your own motives. Make doubly sure that you really mean what you think you mean. Listen to the other approaches to the problem. I mean, really listen. Try to put yourself in their shoes, the same way you would hope they put themselves in yours. If somebody gets stuck somewhere in the process, offer them a hand to pull them out, no matter where they sit in relation to you. Life's too short to not bear our common humanity in mind at all times. Everybody wants the same stuff, and if we play our cards right, we can all come out of this okay, although 'okay' may not necessarily be what we thought it was going to be.

Or at least, that's what I believe.
gvdub: (show)
If you are at all a fan of nightclub culture/cabaret/solo jazz vocalist-pianist stuff, you know who she is and know that it's a loss. Blossom Dearie was a great performer and interpreter of the Great American Songbook (as it's called), performing songs by Porter, Gershwin, Berlin, Comden & Green, Arlen, Dorothy Fields, and the like, as well as some pretty solid bebop and more straight ahead jazz. A true original.
gvdub: (Default)
There's a fairly stupid discussion over on Slashdot about the current straits of the SF magazines (go here if you want to read it). Now, as you should be able to guess from my presence here, on Facebook, MySpace, and multiple other sites, I'm pretty comfortable with the online world, and I do believe that it is, for better or worse, where many things are heading. But we're a long way yet from publications being able to exist solely on the web and pay writers, editors, etc. anything other than token sums. Ad-driven isn't going to do it (I don't know any web-savvy folks who don't use ad-blockers on their browsers and if it comes to a war between advertisers and coders who don't want to have ads get in their way on the web, my money's on the coders), so the suggestion made over there that sticking Google ads on your blog will make a not-yet-established writer rich doesn't quite hold water. Neither do many of the other "well, it's so obvious" suggestions that are made over there. It was surprising to me how few of the posters even seemed aware that Asimov's, Analog, and F&SF are all available as non-DRM files by subscription, and have been for most of a decade.

The little geek fantasyland that many Slashdot folks live in must be a lovely place. Too bad it doesn't really exist.
gvdub: (Default)
Brian May (Queen) - PhD in Astrophysics
Phil Alvin (The Blasters) - PhD in Mathematics
Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) - PhD in Evolutionary Biology
Sterling Morrison (Velvet Underground) - PhD in Medieval Literature

I'm feeling distinctly undereducated here. There's gotta be more. Who?
gvdub: (Default)
ganked from one of my musician friends on Facebook

What does your music library say about you? )

I'm not tagging anybody in particular, but go ahead, go for it. You know who you are.
gvdub: (Default)
I just used the word 'synergy' in body copy without a twinge of conscience. Does this mean I need an intervention? Am I succumbing to the dark side?
gvdub: (politics)
and one I'm sure that the wingnuts on the right will be all over:

"I'm a leftie, get used to it."

Of course, he was referring to his dominant handedness as he signed his first Presidential proclamation, but I'm sure some people will delight in taking it out of context.
gvdub: (neuroscience)
from the website of Cosmos magazine:

"The formula for gunpowder was likely discovered in the 8th century, although it wasn't until the 13th century that it was first used in canons"


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