Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quantum entanglement: ghost imaging

Via Futurismic: "Ghost-imaging" is creating a picture of an object using light that never interacted with the object, but which is pared to light that did through quantum entanglement. This image here seems to have been taken with a camera aimed not at the toy solder, but at the light source shining light on the toy solder.

The next step will be the loadstone resonators from The Dark Materials trilogy. Oh, and THIS:
Dr. Deacon said he believes ghost-imaging may enable a satellite to be equipped with a detector that would be coupled with a second camera that would take images of the sun. That combination of technologies could generate ghost images of the Earth's surface, even if there are obstructing atmospheric conditions.

Doctor Huh?

Sooo...we were talking about accents tonight. I thought this was pretty funny...okay, only sorta funny, but especially funny for any fans of the David Tennant version of Doctor Who and Catherine Tate.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Panic Attack!

Tipped off to this by a friend who lives in the Hollywood Sector. Says this lil' indie dude from Uruguay is blowing up in Hollywood because of this. Sorta like a proto District Nine scenario, I guess. Anyway i thought it was cute, despite the trite soundtrack.

It's a smidge too clean.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

MMO's again

Found this...thought some of us could relate to it.

A Lego Insect Collection-Can we get even more fragile?

Dragonfly 01
Originally uploaded by pupipupi

Lego user pupipupi built a set of these amazing insects, right down to the boxes that hold them. Inspiring and beautiful.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy winter solstice!

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, on the Winter Solstice, 2009.
I was at Stonehenge again for the solstice. There were way less people than in the summer.

There was a druid called King Arthur there. Some other druids were facing each way and chanting 'let there be peace in the east', 'let there be peace in the west', and so on when the sun came up.

Did it get more peaceful at all in Hawaii around 8:08 GMT this morning*?

*That's 21 December 2009, 10:08PM Hawaii time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Vermicomposting Part 2: The System

The system is fairly simple. I use a very specific system, and it's not the cheapest solution available, but it does illustrate the workings of this process very well, so we'll use it as a sample case, to drive home the primary points.

I'm using a Can-O-Worms, from Waikiki Worm, but many DIY options will work, once you understand the principles. I've even heard of people using single coffee cans with a hole punched in the base. I'll go over the process with my system, though, to help show you the basics.

The base (A) rests on the ground, in the shade. When you start, You fill the first bucket (B) with some kind of neutral fiber bedding (mine came with a block of coconut husk which, when soaked with water, serves as a decent place for the worms to live), and nest it into the base. You provide food for the works to eat; vegetable waste and the like. You sprinkle it over the top, and add your worms. Cover the top with shredded newspaper. Wet the whole thing. The lid (E) fits into the first bucket. Cover the system and go live your life.

(The worms eat the food. They also eat the bedding. They will eat it and poop it out and eat their poop and poop that out and so on until their poop looks a lot like mud. This is not a coincidence. Mud is made of tiny rocks and water, but it is also made of organic material produced by decomposers like worms. You are facilitating the economic conversion of a natural process, harnessed and directed for personal gain. You are, in essence, a pimp.)

As you generate more vegetable waste from the eating of vegetables, you add more of said waste to the first bucket, under the shredded newspaper. The newspaper gives the worms something to crawl through to get to the food. The worms will also eat the newspaper. The worms will eat just about anything you put in the bucket. They will even (get this) eat human hair from haircuts. My wife cuts my hair, and the first time she cut my hair while we had worms, I tried to put all my cut hair into the bucket. My wife stopped me, for fear of giving the worms a taste for human tissues. Worms get a raw deal. This is the kind of prejudice you will be dealing with, should you decide to keep your own worms.

Eventually, your first bucket will fill with food. The worms will have broken some of it down, but it will still look like food. "Gross," you will say. It should be noted at this point, that if you stick to vegetable matter, your system will not smell bad. It should actually smell kind of pleasant, like a forest floor, or some equally nice metaphor. When your first bucket is full, you scrape up the top layer of vegetable waste and newspaper and place it into an empty bucket. (C), let's say. You lay that on top of the first bucket (B), and continue as if nothing had happened.

Here is what is happening here: The buckets all have little holes in them (H). These holes are just large enough so that worms can pass through them. The worms will crawl up from bucket (B) to bucket (C), and eat the food there. They will also crawl back down to bucket (B) and eat the partially digested food there--and I cannot be sure of this, but it seems they will also move to the lower levels to breed. I often see little baby worms in the lower levels. These baby worms also eat the partially digested food, and further digest it. All worms move throughout the system, breaking down new food, and really breaking down older food in a process called... I have no idea what this process is called.

We're a couple of months in, at this point. All the while, you've been feeding the worms with waste from your kitchen (as you create it), and watering the worms every couple of days. The water trickles through the system, and keeps everything moist and happy. This water drains out of the system I have via a spigot (F) that empties into a regular bucket (G). This water, in later stages of this process, is nitrogen-rich and valuable to plants, which I will discuss in subsequent chapters.

At some point, your top bucket will fill up with food, too. Then, you add your final bucket (D), in the same manner you added bucket (C). Go ahead and inefficiently eat vegetables and fill that up too. Months more later now. You've filled up (D). What do you do?

You harvest vermicastings, that's what. With the help of friends, lift up the top layers (Buckets (C), (D); and lid (E)). Remove bucket (B), and place it on top of bucket (D). You will notice this: That the worms, while you were living, working, making love, plotting revenge, etc. have converted all of the original bedding and food into something that that looks a lot like mud. This "mud", as you naively call it, is the most nitrogen-rich soil additive your small mind can conceive of. "Gardeners' Gold", they call it. Can you imagine how amazing it must be for them to call it that?!? Anyway, put the lid to the side and wait. Go inside, and play Little Big Planet, or something.

I'm planning a chapter on worm behavior, but here's a spoiler: Worms hate the light. When confronted with light, a worm will move in the other direction. So your first bucket, bucket (B), exposed to all that light, should be clear of worms in an hour or so. Give it a stir every so often; they'll migrate down to bucket (D) in short order.

So now bucket (B) is filled with only worm castings. Again, Gardeners' Gold. At this point, kick yourself for not having a garden. Better yet, go back in time and make sure that you had a garden. This stuff is great for placing at the roots of plants to help them grow. If your plants are already planted, you can sprinkle it around their base, and let it filter down. I've maintained an herb garden for nearly a year now, and never fertilized it with anything not from my worms.

So yes, I've avoided using those little $0.69 cent sticks you can buy in gardening stores. And I've avoided throwing maybe a hundred pounds of kitchen waste down the garbage disposal, so the waste-water treatment facilities don't have to deal with it. Or the fish don't have to eat it. I'm fully aware of the horse-shittery surrounding this practice. Maybe it's good for the world, and maybe it's not. How the hell should I know? If we hit Peak Oil, and this is a skill I have, how does this help me prepare for the coming apocalypse? How does this differ from the completely useless practice of keeping birds? I don't fucking know. You know what grows well with all these worm castings and all this worm tea? Mint. You know how many recipes I generally make that involve mint? Two. And one of them's a Mojito. So yeah. Do I enjoy this? I sure do. Am I saving the world? No idea. It's fun, though. It's like keeping birds, a little. I mean, it's easy to get delusional about the importance of what I'm doing here. But will I ever achieve a carbon offset remotely equal to the cost of the plastic in my plastic worm buckets? Who knows? Actually, that's measurable. The question is, do I dare do the calculation?

So anyway, when you've emptied bucket (B) of castings, you leave it up there, at the top. You scrape off the top layer of bucket (D); the food and the newspaper, and cover the system again. The harvesting should happen every three months or so, but it will vary with the amount of vegetable waste from your kitchen, and other factors, I'm sure. To be continued!

HP computers are racist

"This is just so wrong if it is true"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Review (1/7)

It's ten minutes long, part 1 of 7, and one of the best things, evar.



Part 2 is better.


How does Augmented Reality Change the Story?

Last I checked, we all exist in narratives defined by limited information. With all the knowledge available to us, does the relevant become lost in a fog of data? Do we still live in stories?

World of Warcraft and Project Management

Wondering what you nerds think of this article comparing World of Warcraft raids to real-life Project Management. Is there more here than just the obvious?
If you face a major project or several major projects, chances are you can’t crush them before they overwhelm you. Instead, you gather your team at work, grab a seat at the conference room table with your laptop, and you burn down each project one at a time. Trying to tackle all of them would be as much of a wipe as a Warcraft raid trying to tackle all the bad guys at once.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Prisencolinen Sinainciusol [What English Sounds like to Foreigners]

This crazy song was written by Adriano Celantano in 1972 to show English-speakers what they sound like to un-comprehending foreigners. If you kind of zone out and let your mind go, you might actually mistake it for English. That’s because the song is composed of English phonemes (the sounds that make up our language) that have been jumbled up into jibberish.

There's that Shazam iPhone app that can recognize music, and it actually got this: Prisencolinen Sinainciusol by Adriano Celentano.


A friend of mine in the blogosphere is putting together a roundtable from the websites that cover geekdom to gather opinions on Avatar. Do any of you Pieces of Things bloggers have opinions about it that you'd be willing to share?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hitler's Brain, the Thread

The article itself is sort of anticlimactic, describing the events that took place to remove Hitler and his entourage's remains from history so that they couldn't become a place of worship by future fascists. That's kind of interesting, but what I found enjoyable was the thread that followed. Hope you do too.


Lifted from io9, as one would imagine.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Insurance companies paying facebook gamers virtual $$$ to oppose reform bill

Forgive me my moment of self righteous indignation or if you've already heard about it, but I just read this and it made me vomit all over my computer. Everything is well described in this article, here:

In a game like Mafia Wars, you can get in-game currency in a number of different ways. One of them is by accepting offers from third-parties.

It's this third method that an anti-reform group called "Get Health Reform Right" is using to pay gamers virtual currency for their support.

Instead of asking the gamers to try a product the way Netflix would, "Get Health Reform Right" requires gamers to take a survey, which, upon completion, automatically sends the following email to their Congressional Rep:

"I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have."

So congressmen and women are getting swamped with these letters from facebook gamers. This would be fine in and of itself, except that they are sent by people who just want a new gun for a video game and have absolutely no interest in or knowledge about healthcare reform, and are not actually working with any grassroots organization (hence, "astroturfing"). Who they are working with, knowingly or not, are all the organizations associated with insurance companies (see the list in the article).

It's one crazy, terrifying future to think that insurance companies are gearing up to change healthcare forever with their facebook gamer army.

The True Dangers of Pokémon

Congratulations, stupid!

Vermicomposting Part 1: Overview

I keep worms. They live in a series of stacked buckets outside my kitchen door. These buckets are specially designed to allow air, water, worms, and other substances and creatures to move throughout the system. It keeps out rats, dogs, cats, cows, and other large animals. The worms eat primarily plant waste--vegetable scraps from the kitchen. They also eat newspaper. The point of this is three-fold:

  1. to keep the amount of garbage I throw away to a minimum

  2. to generate nutrient-rich castings and casting-liquid to feed and water my garden

  3. to add a certain sense of false authority and smug self-importance when I speak about environmental issues.

So far, so good.

We started with the bucket-thing, called "Can-o-Worms" and procured from the Waikiki Worm Company. While we had a gift certificate for a starter pound of worms, we instead used worms from my sister's worm operation. She had been keeping hers for some time, and had a surplus.

I have been keeping worms for about 7 months, and I think I'm pretty into it. Here are some pictures.


The system is very simple. You feed the worms vegetable scraps (carrot tops, apple and lettuce cores, and so on). The worms eat it. They poop it out. They eat their poop. They poop that out. They eat it some more, and poop it out again. It is really, really gross.

In future posts, I will detail feeding, harvesting castings, worm behaviors, and other neat stuff. I will try to mention poop every time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12:44 am videos

Hope you are all having a good weekend. Here's a few things from the internets. ^_^

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Little Red (via @andevers)

By Ciara, via A. N. Devers.

Seaweed fresh from a Honolulu canal

A Honolulu-style seaweed harvest?
This clip is one of the most incredible things I've seen on the local news. Unfortunately KHON failed to ask the ogo collector for comment and give him a chance to respond, but otherwise this is an amazing story.

(Also, a next-day follow-up.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Star Trek Online

I'm guessing some of you might be interested in this...or maybe even this -> 'oH ghaH QaQ jaj DaqjaH! I'm pretty sure I know what I'll be doing on Feb 2nd...

Monday, December 7, 2009

The TV Show!

At the risk of attracting more Japanese spammers, here's a little gem spit up by the internet today:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Star Trek lip-sync (for lack of a better term.)

Because we need more star trek related mashup humor, I saw this on Twitter after (my pal and yours) Adam Savage tweeted it. Apparently it's blowing up the interwaves, so I figured I should jump on that bandwagon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Freelancing sucks sometimes

I just finished a ten-year freelancing stint last year.
This funny thing reminds me of it.
So does this one.

Origami and its "real-life" applications

Since we are being infected by Japanese sex robots, I figured I'd try to find some sort of counterbalance. Superstar artist Corinne Kamiya posted this on facebook. I thought I'd re-post it here. It has a funny sort of parallel resonance to how the Europeans found ukiyo-e in their packing crates in the nineteenth century and went crazy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I am going to NYC

Hey, I'm going to be in NYC this week and next! Any requests for things to check out/post about?