More Heralds of the LED Revolution

01/05/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Toys, Thoughts, Science

One of these days, I want to get a projector. It seemed like such a lost cause to go looking for one, though, not just because of the space around here, but because I thought something else would be coming over the horizon soon.

I thought LEDs would be coming soon. It's been a tough road to get affordable white LEDs, and many of the consumer grade ones are a little too blue to be a good white, but I thought it was coming. I remember, but cannot find, a good 20+ pages long forum thread somewhere with people trying to hack together an LED-based projector with clusters of white LEDs, mini-LCD screens and lenses. I don't know how close to success they came, but they were all agog with the possibility of putting it all in a wooden case, something impossible to do with the ultra-high pressure lamps of today.

Well, it's a bit of a rough entry, but a few companies have finally bit the bullet and come out with LED projectors - as almost "handheld" (not by design, but they nearly fit in your hand) mini-projectors.

Toshiba is announcing one, and Mitsubishi has one.

It's only a matter of time before these become bigger and better.

I'm interested to see where the LED revolution will lead next.

 

Horizon Meats

01/01/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Stores

Link: http://horizonmeats.ca/

The traditional butcher shop is a pretty hard thing to find these days.

Actually, we were mostly on the hunt for strange meats to take to our friend Adam's mostly-traditional "stones" meal for new years (cooking on slabs of rock heated with an element). Started just doing a search for ostrich on the 'net, and tripped across the web site of a butcher's shop.

It's north on 27th Street from 32nd Avenue N, and it's on the right hand side. Not a spot you would typically just trip across from driving around :)

They have quite an amazing selection there, really, from mango chipotle chicken sausage to ground everything to elk, deer, alligator, and even yak New York steaks. We wished we had a deep freeze; there were a number of fill-your-deep-freeze type of deals. We settled on a yak roast and ostrich sausage.

The ostrich sausage was delicious. The yak roast, which we cut into strips, was magnificent... and lean. Our cleaver cut through it like butter. It's actually apparently a yak/cow cross called "dzo", and Alberta-grown.

They finally solved a mystery for us at the shop, too. Dena had moose a long time ago, the product of a hunting trip, and loved it. We have been looking in stores ever since. We would have looked forever. Butcher shops in Alberta can only sell inspected, farm/ranch raised meat, and not the products of hunting trips. So we have yak farms, deer farms and even elk farms... but no moose farms, so no moose :)

 

Julio's Barrio

12/28/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Restaurants

Link: http://www.juliosbarrio.com/

We don't have a lot of Mexican restaurants in Calgary - if you don't count Taco Bell, anyhow. Salt 'n' Pepper and the Tecate Grill... there may be a few more. Julio's Barrio is a Mexican restaurant that is in the old location of Red Robin's in Kensington.

It's a pretty restaurant. A lot of Aztec-themed painting and a few cacti around. The seating is... varied. There are some comfy seats and tables, but the majority of the seats are high, hard-to-move, slightly tippy seats. Those would be the worst part of the experience, really.

You get served some tortillas and salsa before the meal. The salsa is interesting - it tingles with heat on direct contact with your mouth, and nowhere else (you can almost draw a map of heat in your mouth if you try). They have virgin margueritas in numerous flavours (I don't drink, so I loves the mock-tails) - from strawberry and lime to peach, strawberry-banana and piña colada. One little bizarre thing they do that amused me: they have three colours of maraschino cherries with slightly different flavours.

It took a long time for the meal to arrive, but I can chalk that up to chefs on holiday. The meal tasted excellent, and was, judging by ours stomachs, larger than they appeared. The quesadillas tasted good, but they were softer than many, and thus a little hard to cut without making a mess. They came with refried beans, Mexican rice and corn salad (pretty good). Dena had the quesadilla, I had Julio's Platter - both nice. The menu is good, but fairly limited in variety. Interestingly, they will substitute veggie ground round for meat in many dishes.

Tasty, all in all. I'd recommend it if not for the seating.

 

NeXXTech 130-in-1 Electronics Lab

12/27/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Toys

Link: http://www.thesourcecc.com/estore/Product.aspx?language=en-CA&catalog=Online&category=Educational+Toys&product=2808003

My wonderful wife got me one of these for Christmas, and I've already been playing with it. I've done 5 of the 130 projects so far - most of them are not that hard - and have been finding it rather interesting, though I obviously have not learned electronics in this short a time yet.

I am positive that I appreciate this a lot more now than I would have at eight years old, because I can look beyond the fun of the projects itself :)

Full story »

 

The Wind and the John

12/27/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions

Totally distracted thought, but I've noticed that the toilet bowl water sloshes around a fair bit whenever it's windy outside.

What I haven't been able to figure out is whether that has to do with what the wind does to air pressure inside the house, what it does to air pressure or water pressure in the sewers, or whether it's from the wind rocking the house around... or a combination of any of the above.

Anyone else notice this?

 

911 Math Emergency

12/21/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Hoots

My coworker Debbie and I share a student at our online school-- a young man who is travelling internationally right now and recently landed in India after months in Germany. I teach him Chemistry 30, and Debbie teaches him Pure Math 30.

I recently faxed him his last hardcopy test-- successfully!-- to a chosen test proctor/professor at an Indian university.

Debbie tried to fax him a test today, and was not successful...

Full story »

 

Desperate Recipe # 1

12/21/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Cooking

Sometimes, it's just really tough to pull a meal off in short order, and there's weird stuff in the fridge. I'm an experimenter, though, and sometimes, they turn out to taste pretty good. So here's a recipe invented last night. If you actually try it out, you're crazy:

Ingredients:

  • A bunch of that light and dark green bean and carrot mix from Costco
  • A can of tuna
  • Frozen shredded nacho cheese
  • Sauces: ketchup, catalina/california dressing, thousand island dressing and Frank's Red Hot sauce

Start heating the oven to 350. Spread the green bean and carrot mix in an enamel or other baking dish fairly thinly. Crumble the can of tuna on top, except for the metal parts of the can. Squirt some of the sauces around on top of it. Scatter a decent but not too thick layer of frozen cheese on top.

Throw it in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, switch the oven to broil and cook until some of the cheese on top is starting to crust up.

Serve.

Perhaps this will become a series of "what I did when our fridge was empty", perhaps not :)

 

Paley In A Test Tube: Video

12/21/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Science

It's a bit nerdy, but here is a page that contains an excellent video of a presentation Ken Miller did regarding Intelligent Design and 'irreducible complexity'. It's a really well-done presentation. I wish science classes had been nearly that much fun :)

UPDATE: Ken Miller was to debate an opponent (Dembski, I believe) at Case Western Reserve University, but the opponent was a no-show. Nevertheless, it was a pretty darned fine presentation and Q&A session. Ken Miller is my new hero :) Link...

 

Judgment In Dover Is In!

12/20/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Ethics, Religion, Science

Link: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/051220_kitzmiller_342.pdf

Judge Jones put a lot of thought and effort into this. The judgment, found here, is a staggering (to me) 139 pages long, yet it is easy to read, thorough, and utterly definitive: the Dover School Board was religiously motivated, and violated the Establishment Clause and Pennsylvania's own constitution, which had an even earlier clause to the same purpose.

Full story »

 

Helping Microsoft Debug

12/20/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Programming

There was something that happened in a security patch Microsoft put out that was wrecking our clip art objects that we store in databases. Since more and more people were applying the patch, we were understandably worried.

It was, albeit harrowing at first, pretty interesting to actually help track down what the patch was doing and why it was failing this one particular circumstance.

Full story »

 

Mirrormask

12/19/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Movies

Link: http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/mirrormask.html

Dena and I own most of the set of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, and I'm a tremendous fan of the old Henson movies Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, so we were terribly intrigued at the thought of a new movie with a Neil Gaiman story and the Henson crew producing.

So we went to see it at the Uptown, where it is currently playing at noon on weekends (it should be playing at the big theaters, dagnabbit - then again, we've seen the Uptown play movies before the big theaters pick it up as well - I think that's what happened with Triplets of Belleville.)

What a freaking treat the movie turned out to be!

It follows a girl whose parents are trying to keep their circus afloat, and she's utterly bone-tired of it. Something profound happens (I really can't spoil it here - it's interestingly done) which puts things in jeopardy. Late at night, in an interesting and somewhat horrible scene, she enters a dreamland... of sorts.

The dreamland is fantastic. It's somewhat steeped in sepia tone, and it has a strange old-time movie quality to it. I don't know quite what to compare this style or fantasy world to. The characters are great (the cast is surprisingly small - many people are listed with multiple characters), the mythology, in typical Neil Gaiman style, is interesting, self-consistent, and gives us very human motivations even in the fantastic.

My jaw dropped and I blinked intensely a number of times in the movie. It was just so... different, on top of being a really good story. Things like needing nets in various places of the library and how to fend off very human-faced, menacing cats. I mean, it works, but what the hell? :)

Fired up our imaginations for hours later, too. The twists and periodic urgency in the plot were magnificently done. Took a lot of Christmas shopping to calm me down after that.

I highly recommend it, especially if you've ever enjoyed well-written escapist movies like Time Bandits or Labyrinth. This is definitely going into my collection when it comes out on DVD.

 

Dealing with an insecure coworker...

12/13/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Ramblings

You know, not long ago I would have thought it utterly likely that this would have been a rant. But no.

Full story »

 

Weighing In On Intelligent Design On The Radio

12/13/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Religion, Science

I was reading an interesting news article summarizing the life and times of Mirecki, the professor at the center of a firestorm in Kansas where he was to teach a class talking about mythologies including Intelligent Design, had to drop the course and resign his post as head of Religious Studies after someone published some of his postings on an atheist Yahoo group, and then got beaten by two men tailing him when he stepped out of his car wondering if someone was coming to tell him he had something wrong with his car.

In the comments section is an invitation by Justin Beck of RadioProject.org to send comments re: Intelligent Design for use in a syndicated radio show. Following is the call for thoughts, reproduced without permission:

Full story »

 

Won Something Small

12/12/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A]

If you keep entering contests, you're bound to win something else :)

Ritchie - I’m writing to tell you that you won yesterday’s quip contest. Congratulations! You are a funny guy.

You should be receiving a free Quip It! game and two magnetic Quip It! frames for your photos- one for you and one for a friend. Please continue to enter your quips at www.quipitgame.com and remember to send the link to your friends, co-workers and family, as well. Whoever has the most winning quips by the end of the promotion wins a trip for two to see Conan O’Brien in New York.
Again, thanks for your participation!

Team Quip It!

ERIK WIRSING | BRAND MANAGER

Dang it, though, I won it for what I thought was my weakest quip :)

UPDATE: Three days later and the game actually just arrived at the door. Holy crap :)

 

Finding Botanical Gardens

12/11/05 | by Nimble | Categories: Attractions, Gardening

Link: http://www.bgci.org.uk/

Just a quickie link here to a page that lets you track down most botanical gardens worldwide. I was trying to track down some botanical gardens for my parents (currently in Qatar) to visit, and was a little surprised that Qatar had no such things - at least not public ones :)

It's a pretty good database of them. They've got our Calgary Zoo ones, the Entebbe gardens in Uganda that I was surprised to read about a while ago, and numerous other ones. So if you're looking for some gardens in your travels, stop by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International site first!

 

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