Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Monday, October 28th, 2013

It’s a good thing the colors are soothing. I like working with this software, but it’s a lot of work.


Part of a 1-bit full adder on chip. I’m thinking of printing a full-page view of one of these. The complexity and colors are curiously compelling.

(There’s an error in there, actually.)

Nature wins again

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

My apartment complex could be described as slightly worn, and so it not as pleasing to the eye as it could be.  My apartment number was evidently painted over during the last maintenance period, and has been restored to contrast with the door by the scientific application of a marker.  This level of art was at the back of my mind recently while I was painting pieces of a table on the walk outside my door, feeling slightly proud of my attempts to make *something* look better.

Then I looked over at the crack between the brick face of the building and the walk:

“That’s really pretty,” thought I, realizing that these flowers are essentially a weed that is flourishing in a small gap in the pavement.  (That’s the brick wall at the back of the picture).  Nature wins again.  My painting won’t result in anything that pretty.

When I went to pick up the dried items later, I looked again:

With the afternoon shadow upon them, the flowers closed up.  So… not only do they look better than my work, they adapt to the sun over the course of a few hours.  All this from a 1/4″ gap in the cement.
Nature, and humility, win again.

Fluffy Bookshelf Trim

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I salvaged a set of shelves that were located in an institution’s hallway for some years.  There was a mysterious film on the kickplate at the front bottom of the shelves.  It took me a while to figure out what it was.


I scraped about a handful of the stuff off a three foot length of panel.  It had been in the hall for long enough to build up a nice coating of floor wax from the side of the orbital buffer.

I’ve always vaguely understood what was meant by marketing copy that describes car wax as “fluffy”, but I don’t think that this is what they meant.

Packaging – Filter Paper Edition

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009


From an era when commercial artists may have worked more cheaply, we have this salvaged box of filter paper.  I didn’t think that I needed filter paper, but then I noticed the box.

This impressive seal must have been worth many thousands of sales.  After seeing this, how could you purchase a lesser brand?  The pinstriping and font choices alone guarantee the respectability and reliability of the product.  From the sober “Chemically Prepared Paper” banner at the top to the little fleur-de-lis at the bottom, the thought that went into the design is evident.  Lesser companies might not expend this effort on the label, it seems to say, but we at W. & R. Baltson consider *all* aspects of our product.  The orange stripe that looks like a ribbon is in fact a paper ribbon that ensures that your fine purchase has not been tampered with by postal workers intrigued by your box of paper.

(I am pleased to note that the company is still more or less in business, though now a division of GE Healthcare.)


Bicycle refurbishment Saturday

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Not green overspray.

Not green overspray.

Today I rode my bicycle for the first time in perhaps 9 years.  Thinking on it, this is a long time.  The topology of my town discourages riding by those who are not particularly dedicated, it is true, but nine years is entirely too long a time to neglect my bicycle.  My old bike has been returning to the earth for quite a while, quietly chained to a rack outside my apartment.  “How long is ‘quite a while’?”, you may ask:


Lichen on the handgrips

Perhaps that doesn’t look too bad.

Tires rust?

Tires rust?

This is the first time I’ve ever dealt with rusty tires.

I have been reading the website of Coco’s Variety, which is much more genteel than the name might imply in the absence of context, and was inspired to fix up my old bike.  Therefore, I spent the afternoon working, stopping the aging process, replacing some parts, and carrying on the never-ending fight against entropy in the form of rust.  Most of the cables still work, but surface rust abounded, including inside the rims.  Once again, I am glad to have purchased some phosphoric acid spray:

An heroic pose

An heroic pose, looking steelily at the sun.

This stuff turns rust into iron phosphate, which is black, hard, and, importantly, inert.  It makes a good base for paint, though I haven’t gotten to the paint stage yet.  Between the conversion compound and a handy brass brush, my bike is now fractionally lighter.

Working on a bicycle was odd in comparison to working on the car; while rust is present in the usual places, the rubber parts were (excepting the tires) in very good shape, and there is very little plastic to worry about.  The heat of an engine degrades these parts much more quickly than a bicycle does.  Even rusty parts came, well, apart, with minimal effort, and bits and pieces are cheap for cheap bikes such as my own.  Between the sunlight, obvious minute-by-minute progress, and small mechanical operations, my afternoon passed quickly and pleasantly.

What with rust removal, cleaning gunk out of the sprockets, adjusting the derailleurs (had to look that one up), and replacing the tires and tubes, I reacquainted myself with the bike.  I’ve had it for a long time, and I found myself wondering how many miles that the old tires had borne my weight over.  I saw the side reflectors, the old registration sticker for campus use, the bracket for holding the lock (used ~ twice), the minor trim damage I caused just after getting the bike, and several denizens.  I’m not sure what this little guy even is:

Hello there!

Hello there!

Looks like a spiky caterpillar, but has 6 legs.  I deposited him in the nearby woods.


The bike is nowhere near pristine, and in fact currently owes much to the “rat rod” sense of aesthetics.  Fortunately, one of the nice things about black pieces of equipment is that a quick shot of rattlecan paint results in a nice, (relatively) matching finish.

I took it out for a ride after getting the new tires on, and found I had forgotten how easy it is to go fast on a bicycle; I read somewhere that it is the most mechanically efficient of human conveyances.  There are surely many many millions of people who depend on them.

My bike is heavy, and old enough to use nuts to hold on the wheels rather than cam locks.  It has plastic brake handles that flex alarmingly, and needs a new shifter cable.  But it is my old bike, and works again, and tracks true enough, and can bear my weight once more.

I made sure to ride through a puddle on my way back home.