White on Black foamcore

Any design student will be intimately familiar with “foamcore board” or just “Foam core.” It’s a layer of plastic foam, usually slightly less than a quarter inch, sandwiched between two layers of slick paper.

It’s used for making 3D models; you cut it at an angle and fold.

Most foam core is white outside, white inside. They make black-on-black foam core. But what I really need at the moment is white-on-black foam core– black foam, white outside.

Eh yeah. I guess I’ll just take a Sharpie to the edges.


Gorillapod is so awesome; it’s like tentacles for your camera. Err, okay not a good image…

Their store has a cool feature: you can order the thing WITHOUT PACKAGING, so you don’t have to throw away plastic! I think that’s neat.

It’s cheaper too.

Maker Faire 2008

Maker Faire was very very popular this year. I spent about an hour in traffic, and another hour trying to get parking. Amazing! Resolved: next year, 1) take public transportation (it’s right next to Bay Meadows) and 2) I’m getting there when it opens!

Getting there was worth the wait though. The Neverwas crew was there with their 3-story mobile Victorian house, and this time the steampunk element was in force, including Steampunk Magazine. They had musical acts (Abney Park), a bar, and artifacts on display, like a monitor that looked like it was made out of brass (no power cords).

I did much better this year in that I did not generate more projects for myself; I only added tools to work on existing ones.

TechShop had a pavillion; I had a chance to attempt converting my vector file into a Janome “.jef” file– I brought my laptop with Illustrator along with a jump drive. No dice, however: the computer was severely overwhelmed by the file; I believe the pattern had way too many lines in it.

The Diet Coke / Mentos guys were there and put on a “concert.” There was a guy with a working replica of R2D2, which was awesome. There was an entire carnival with rides made from bicycle parts, all run off of human power.

The Long Now Foundation was there with their new bearing design, which they say will rotate only 30 times in 1000 years. The clock is now self-adjusting, using a “memory wire” and a ray of sunlight once a day.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the RepRap project uses goo that is biodegradable. I also had an interesting discussion with a lady from Wikipedia about why my articles are constantly being deleted.

More photos… there are a jillion on Flickr now as well.

Isopod story

One time we went surf fishing and caught some perch.

We took the fish home and cooked and ate it. When we were about to throw the heads and guts away, we looked at the garbage bag, and this little white isopod was sitting there, still alive, angry that we ate his home. He was living in the mouth of a perch.

Then Ben busted out his giant book of north american sealife and identified the exact species of isopod.

Wingnut 101: Why Global Warming Is A Lie

I’m realizing more and more that wingnuts denying Climate Change is actually related a lot more to a deep emotional need than anything rational.

Occasionally I’m still getting caught trying to convince Wingnuts that yes, climate change is happening and yes we should change our way of life to do something about it. I realize this convincing is likely never going to happen. I also don’t think getting into these discussions is in line with Right Speech, samma vaca.

But I think I have a better handle on the thinking now. Almost everybody knows at this point that there is no “debate” over whether global warming is happening.

The average person has no access to scientific papers– they are kept in college libraries or in research labs. So the papers may as well not exist; they are something people you don’t necessarily trust tell you about, like Bigfoot.

But there’s this Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which publishes papers now. One big official organization, with a report you can read online, with names of scientists right there on the paper. It’s no longer thousands and thousands of papers people you’ve never heard of have written, the names are RIGHT THERE. It’s endorsed by every nation on earth.

So the puzzling bit is: Wingnut thinks this is still a lie. In my opinion it would now be a very expensive lie… why would thousands of scientists conspire to lead everyone astray in this very particular way?

The way I felt when I realized the enormity of the climate change problem (the carbon component anyway) was something like this:

Two boys are playing in the yard. Just for fun, they throw rocks at a tree. They throw about a hundred rocks. When they run out of rocks, they walk to the tree to look at all the marks they made. One looks down, and sees a dead bird with a rock embedded in its skull. It is clear they have accidentally killed this bird, and they hear the peeping of the baby birds above in the tree. “We have to make this right,” one boy says. “We have to take care of the baby birds in the tree.” “No!” the other boy says defiantly. “That bird was dead when we got here. It probably died of natural causes.”

So, I had no idea we were changing the environment by driving, using plastic, and shipping pretty much everything. My bad. But I’m doing my best to stop doing those things, and to fix the problem, which unfortunately in our case is a bit more complicated than raising orphaned birds.

The way Wingnut sees the situation is a little different. It’s more like:

A tourist is walking on the sidewalk of a busy, dirty, city. He walks by a sleazy-looking gentleman in a slick suit, who reeks of alcohol. “HEY!” the suited man says, “you just stepped on my favorite hat! You owe me a hundred dollars!” The tourist looks behind him and sees a crushed hat behind him, which was clearly just thrown by the man in the suit. “You just threw that there,” the tourist protests. “Nah, nah,” the suited man says. “You are just a clueless tourist, you don’t know anything. You need to pay me now to walk on the street.”

In this second scenario, the people talking about climate change and global warming are running a kind of scam. Wingnut is being blamed for something he is wholly not responsible for, AND being victimized by someone, either “liberals,” “scientists,” or “the government.” This aggressive party is telling him something that is pretty outlandish and difficult to understand, but the motivation seems to be to take something unfairly from Wingnut. In the case where suited man is “the government,” this thing is tax money or “freedom.”

Another aggravating thing to me is:

  1. many of the Climate Change Deniers I talk to actually believe in the reality of the Greenhouse Effect, just not that carbon emissions are from people
  2. the math of climate change is not so difficult to comprehend

How? As a thought exercise, ask yourself:

  • How much carbon dioxide is generated on each car trip you make? How many people breathing? Answer: a lot. It’s a little fire in your car, ignited over and over. People suffocate from carbon dioxide in an enclosed space when there is an open flame all the time.
  • How many trips in the car do you make a day? A year? A WHOLE lot.
  • How many people are driving? A Whole Lot. Basically at least everyone who has a job that is not near where they sleep
  • How long has this been going on? At least fifty years! How many days is that? A WHOLE LOT.

So, multiply a lot by A WHOLE lot by A Whole Lot by A WHOLE LOT, and you get… goddamn that’s a lot.

Other obstacles are

  • “I don’t believe in the Greenhouse Effect” – I don’t have an answer for this one. You can verify part of the greenhouse effect at home, but I realized it is unlikely someone unmotivated would ever do this.
  • “all science is a lie” – uh
  • “The Bible doesn’t say to protect the environment” – go tell that to a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about. They believe that an omnipotent God is perfectly capable of creating the complex system that is our ecosystem, and that the earth was given to humans as a paradise to tend and care for. Then again, they also think we’re doomed and only God can fix the atmosphere. Bummer.

Fix WP-Amazon in WordPress 2.5

I upgraded WordPress to 2.5.1 recently. Suddenly my WP-Amazon plugin is broken! That is the thing I use to put Amazon links in my posts, and therefore like 90% of my pictures (mainly because I don’t have to host the pictures… kinda lazy huh). What happens is the little Amazon button doesn’t even show up in my Manage tab.

So I did some newsgroup spelunking and found how to fix it.

Let’s say your WordPress is at $WP-HOME

  1. go to
  2. copy everything there
  3. copy the wp-amazon.php to replace the one you have in
  4. make a directory “js” in that same directory
  5. copy files into that directory :
    • jquery.accordion.pack.js
    • jquery.dimensions.pack.js

    into $WP-HOME/wp-content/plugins/wp-amazon/js

  6. make another directory in that one $WP-HOME/wp-content/plugins/wp-amazon/js/jquery
  7. copy the “jquery.js” file from $WP-HOME/wp-includes/js/jquery/jquery.js into
  8. ?
  9. profit!

Holcombe Waller @ Cafe du Nord

Last night I went to see Holcombe Waller at Cafe du Nord. He was very good; I like his sound much much better than before on “Advertising Space.” I guess that was 10 years ago…

He was mostly solo; he was sitting on a chair alone on stage with his guitar, dressed in flannel with black-framed glasses and a beard, so it was kind of like the Eric Clapton MTV Unplugged.

Waller used his voice as a percussion instrument in this performance. His first song was this thing that I STILL can’t find on the damn albums; the only way I can think to describe it is as sort of a “Walking Song” by Meredith Monk which then transitions into a song that is like a more plaintive “Country Roads” by John Denver. Hopefully I can figure out what song that was, it had the word “Saskatchewan” in it.

UPDATE: it was a Buffy Saint-Marie cover called “Qu’appelle Valley, Saskatchewan.” Remember Buffy? From Sesame Street? Well I do. Anyway, Holcombe Waller’s version is on YouTube, I embedded it below. The version he performed was ever so slightly more mellow than this one.

One of the songs he did that was also really awesome was “Literally the End of the World.” That one is his.

His guitar work was very intricate. I actually bought everything he had there so now I have the complete Holcombe Waller collection. He needs to make more stuff to buy…

Opening for him were two groups also from Portland, OR, including Loch Lomond, who were quite good. Their instrument selection was pretty zany; at one point they used those corrugated tubes you swing over your head. I bought their albums too.

Holcombe Waller performing “Qu’appelle Valley, Saskatchewan”: