somewhat daily mutterings

/Creations/Photography Bees-ness

I was sitting in the garden the other day. The bees were very busy, and the light was just right, so I had to take a couple of shots of them doing their business.

Both shots were handheld, taken in slanted, late-afternoon sunlight with my Canon G3. I didn't do a lot of processing on the photos, just a little tweaking of sharpness and contrast in iPhoto.

Posted: Sat May 28 17:29:44 -0700 2005

/Toys Ready to Rumble

I just added an SVS PB12-ISD Subwoofer to my home theater, and what a difference! After I did some "tuning", we watched The Day After Tomorrow (goofy movie, but what a bass soundtrack!), and we were amazed. Even MB, who is not really very impressed by the home theater commented "Wow Hun, your home theater is really rocking!".

The sub is located behind the couch, where it can act as a bass "shaker". That was my intention, anyway, but the Velodyne never really did any shaking. The SVS, however, had the cushions vibrating in an almost startling manner, and most of the energy was directed at the section that we were not sitting on.

Dorm fridge-sized SVS PS12-ISD really delivers!

The SVS is a 12" downward firing, rear-ported design, and is a relative behemoth, compared to my old Velodyne VA-810XII (8" active, 10" passive) sub. The box it came in was marked as weighing 88lbs, and it felt like every bit of that. I slid it downstairs on an old towel -- there was really no way to carry it. The SVS really dwarfs my Velodyne in both size and output. In volume, the old Velodyne was around 3,395in2, whereas the SVS is around 7560in2 -- about double.

The construction quality of the sub is way beyond that of the Velodyne. Though the Velodyne was a "low-end" unit, I believe we still paid about $600 for it back in '97 or so. The SVS sells for that now, and just blows the Velodyne away.

From what I've experienced so far the SVS is a great addition to my home theater equipment lineup, and I can recommend SVS subs with no hesitation whatsoever.

Posted: Sat May 28 16:04:27 -0700 2005

/Books Freakonomics, by Levitt and Dubner

I just finished this book, and having just started reading it today at lunch, it's safe to say that I could not put it down. Long story short, it's a critique of "conventional thinking" on a variety of topics. The critique is from the point-of-view of an economist's analysis of available data.

Topics are as varied as "what are the real causes of the decline of crime in the 90's", to "what impact does the 'obsessive' parent's attention to tiny details of a child's life really have to do with future performance". The answers the authors derive are often surprising and always interesting.

One of the points that the authors put forth is how people are drawn to the "truths" that support their preconceptions and emotions, rather than looking deeper into the actual facts (much less accepting them when presented).

Take gun control, for instance. Liberal parents may not want their child to visit a gun owner's home due to safety issues, but feel perfectly fine letting their child visit a home with a pool. This, despite the fact that children die orders of magnitude more often in pool accidents than in gun accidents. However, no matter how you argue the facts, these parents won't feel right about the gun owner's home. (By the way, I'm pretty socially liberal, and don't own a gun, but I'm also not in favor of gun control).

The evidence given in this book for our preference toward "the truths we like" helps support, in my mind, what I've always felt intuitively: people choose the channels of information that best suit what they want to hear, and call the rest biased.

Posted: Sun May 22 19:24:26 -0700 2005

/Travels Horse Country Photo Album Published

My Mother and I did a bit of driving around in Fayette County while I was in KY a couple of weeks ago. We also went to Keeneland Race Track to take in the scenery. Visit the photo album for more.

Ugly Fayette County scenery [ more ]

Posted: Wed May 18 20:49:21 -0700 2005

/Miscellany Goodbye Old Friend

We did one of the hardest things imaginable today. We called the vet and had her come to the house to put Jake to sleep. He'd had a very hard night during which nobody slept much. He was coughing and very restless all night, and was obviously not feeling well this morning. At lunch, when MB let him out, he could barely walk, and couldn't get back up from squatting to do his business. MB had to towel-walk him back into the house. We knew the time was coming, and most likely this year, but we never expected to make the decision this soon. I guess that's the way it always is. The whole process with the vet was calm and peaceful - we knew we'd made the right decision.

Jacob Von Dun, 1990 - 2005

I'm not sure how to eulogize this regal, beautiful dog. I guess I'll just list off some remembrances:

  • The ad in the paper that led us to Jake 13 1/2 years ago described him as "gentle, beautiful, obedient". All so very true.
  • He was hit by a car when he was around three. He finished his walk. MB spent the night on the dining room floor beside him while he shivered in pain.
  • I took to using a tennis racket to launch balls for him in the early days, because otherwise I would wear my throwing arm out trying to wear him out.
  • He could fetch the paper. When he felt like it.
  • In his old age, he could suddenly look ten years younger when there was pizza in the room.
  • He went on a walk, albeit short, yesterday.
  • He could bang the hell out of our footboard when chasing rabbits in his sleep. Even though he lost strength in his rear end as he aged, the volume was impressive.
  • He went sailing with us once. This was a mistake. One hundred pounds of hound in a small sailboat cockpit is a recipe for sailing disaster. We then spent the night on the boat, and none of us got any sleep. I can still remember sleeplessly looking up into the cockpit from belowdecks and seeing the silhouette of his head turning about in reaction to the myriad night sounds and smells on the lake.
  • He had the warmest, softest ears ever.
  • In his youth he would chase birds. Birds flying high in the air.
  • He had little trouble scaling the 6ft. fence of our first house. Then he'd sit on the front walk and wait for us to come home.
  • During a Christmas season years ago he sprang our gate and took his friend "Beau", whom we were dog sitting, for a walk. We tracked them down by following the trail of overturned lawn nativity figures.
  • He could swim like a fish.
  • He mixed it up with a skunk and lost. Twice. We lost, too.
  • He was quite the ear flapper. He'd use ear flapping to get our attention, especially when we were sleeping. Over the years, he developed a stripe across his head from so much ear-flapping.
  • He was one hell of a hiker.
  • He was never affectionate, but he was always nearby. Always.
Man, we're going to miss him.

Posted: Mon May 16 22:39:44 -0700 2005

/Cycling TOSRV 2005 Ride Report

Wet again.

Yes, in spite of all the sunny-weather predictions that had my hopes way up for a rain-free TOSRV, we had rain the first 60 or so miles of day one. It was a trick -- Saturday dawned dry and cool, but by the time we hoofed it over to McDonalds for a pre-ride fat pill, it was drizzling. The now-accurate weather reports indicated rain in, and southeast of, Columbus. This was just great, because that's exactly the direction in which we'd be riding. Oh well, it wouldn't be TOSRV without the rain (except for last year's, which I missed -- it had perfect weather).

Steve and I dropped our gear at the "McKinley" truck, and we pedaled off into a light drizzle, which really wasn't so bad. However, as we got further from town, the rain got worse, and to add more to the merriment I broke a spoke on my front wheel. No, not the one I just replaced before packing my bike to mail it out to KY, but a different one, on the other side (I got it replaced in Circleville, and it's still holding).

It rained steadily, with temperatures varying between 45 and 50 degrees, until we got to Chillicothe and got off our bikes. Then, of course, it stopped ... until we got back on our bikes. I guess it was about 10 miles outside of Chilli that the rain finally stopped and the sun peeked out just a bit. I never took off my arm warmers though.

The rest of the ride was basically uneventful. We rode in this and that paceline, and fought a headwind most of the time. I wore myself out a bit in the rollers, which is not unusual for me (I can't help attacking them).

Sunday was a different story: foggy and cool, leading to a beautiful day offering a light tailwind. On most TOSRVs we seem to end up in a great paceline to Waverly on Sunday. This year, I was just beginning to wonder whether we'd find one when I looked behind me to see that a good-sized one had formed on my wheel. Then, the guy behind me started singing an ode to my Colnago, which was oddly entertaining (but mostly just odd). We passed another paceline, which apparently hooked onto the end of ours. When we pulled into Waverly I looked back and saw that the paceline had possibly 25-30 riders in it. I rule :-).

The rest of Sunday was pretty much a grind. We didn't get in many good pacelines after Waverly, although we had a good stint with a couple other riders between Chilli and Circleville. The day was heating up, and I wasn't feeling very good at this point (just slightly nauseous) but Steve was riding strong, and took a very good pull getting us into Circleville.

The last 25 miles or so were the usual for me -- a blur of discomfort puncuated by small pleasures like fresh cold water at an informal stop 10 miles out. My feet were fried, my ass was grass, and my shoulders were very stiff, but Steve and I sprinted the last block of the ride like we'd just started.

Looking forward to next year...

Posted: Fri May 13 09:49:40 -0700 2005

/Meta Comments Now Supported

I've always wanted to add a commenting feature to my weblog (a custom hack that I call gemcast), but I've been too lazy to get around to it. That, and I just have an aversion to letting strangers write to my webserver's hard disk.

A hot tip from Vivian's site led me to HaloScan's commenting service. This allowed me to set up a commenting feature for my weblog in about five minutes. Really. Comment away, dear reader (the singular is quite appropriate).

Posted: Fri May 13 09:10:58 -0700 2005

/Meta Traffic Increase

My traffic has increased a lot over the last couple of months. It seems to be mainly due to all the content about my home theater I've posted over the last month or so.

Last September's spike was due to my posting SpringViz on the site and announcing it on the Spring Framework mailing list. I believe the Home Theater content will prove be a longer-term traffic-generator.

Posted: Sun May 01 20:15:47 -0700 2005

Thanks for visiting! Send comments to Mike Thomas.