Archive for the ‘Geek’ category

Old Rotoscope Self Portrait

February 8, 2016

brian_rotoscopeFacebook just told me that I posted this picture of myself 9 years ago. I did this when I was a 2nd or 3rd year grad student because I’d heard about rotoscoping, and wondered how it was done. The most striking thing to me about this notification from Facebook was that I’ve had an account for over 9 years!

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Centrifugal Ice Cycles

March 19, 2013

In addition to being a potentially good name for a geeky band or album, centrifugal ice cycles exist, and I discovered them on our Corolla yesterday! Check em out (click the photo for a closer look):

P1090513

I rushed to take the picture right after we got home, but the radial ice cycles lasted all day long!

Kick Spindle

January 2, 2012

Later this month I’m teaching a two week introduction to spinning course. Here is one of the spinning tools I’ve built recently, a kick spindle.

As a starting point for my design I read this post by Layne Brosius, a.k.a. AFrayedKnotter. My kick spindle is pretty similar to hers. There are two major differences. The first is that I used a 1″ thick piece of poplar with feet, as you can see in the pictures. The weight of the flywheel (a furniture bun foot from Lowe’s) seems to give the device sufficient inertia both to spin for a while and to not slide across the floor during use.  I’ve only used the kick spindle on carpeting and outdoor cement, but I think if I put some rubber feet on the bottom it would stay in place on wood or tile, too.

The second significant change I made is in the bearing design. Most kick spindles I’ve seen use roller bearings, like you’d find in a roller skate. That would make the spindle turn longer between kicks, but nice bearings are expensive (especially if I’m looking to build ten of these in a class), and I don’t really mind kicking in a rhythm, since I’m used to treadling on a wheel anyway. Instead of a $4 skate bearing, I came up with something that costs a dime, namely an actual dime:

I drilled into the base at a 45° angle with a ¾” spade bit then super glued a dime onto the floor of the angled hole. I put a divot in the dime with a 1/16″ metal bit.

In the divot rests the sharpened metal point of the spindle. To point the spindle end, I nailed a small finishing nail into the center of the 1/2″ dowel that I used for the spindle (I used 1/2″ dowel because I have a 1/2″ in drill bit but not a 3/8″ one. If I had the 3/8″ bit, I’d probably go with the 3/8″ dowel).  Next I sharpened the end of the spindle by cutting away excess wood with a knife. This leaves the small nail head sticking out the end like a pencil lead. I sharpened the head with a file:

The photo doesn’t really do justice to the sharpness of the tip. (but yes, that is a dvd of Flash Dance behind my hand. I’m a spinning maniac, maniac, and I’m spinning like I’ve never done before…) The spindle will go through twelve to twenty rotations per kick:

I spun a few ounces of wool from rolags in a hotel room while watching Elf over thanksgiving weekend.  The kick spindle works pretty well.It fits in car much more easily than a spinning wheel–with a convertible car seat in the back of my Corolla, there’s no way my Saxony wheel would fit anywhere in the car anymore. It’s fairly lightweight, but heavy enough to stay in place. It isn’t as portable as a drop spindle, but the winding on procedure is a bit more efficient. Also I’m still not very good at long draws on a drop spindle, but it’s easy to spin short or long draw on the kick spindle. The kick spindle can  accommodate a very large cop of yarn, So I can spin more yarn before winding balls for plying. Winding directly off the kick spindle is also very easy.  Total cost for the whole thing was about $12. If you wanted something a bit more aesthetic, you could use a plaque with a routed edge for the base and stain the whole thing.

Owen Dance

September 28, 2011

I often take many photos in rapid succession. When reviewing them later, I have this habit of repeatedly toggling two or three photos back and forth if the result looks funny. Sometimes I do it until my eyes tear up. Here is an example set to music. Hopefully Owen will forgive me…some day.

Aurora

September 28, 2011

The first two shots are about a minute apart.  They’re 60 second exposures (it takes another 60 seconds to empty the buffer onto the card). If you download them and toggle back and forth you can get an idea of the movement of the auroral structures over time. You can also see the big dipper moving.

We’re having a Klingon.

April 18, 2011

I first became aware of online “What will our baby look like?” services when I was in college, about a decade ago. I played with them once or twice, usually using a something like picture of myself and a tiger, or two unlikely celebrities, e.g., Kelsey Grammar, and Dennis Rodman. Most of those turn-of-the-century online services were really pretty crude. If I took two face photos, and layered them in Photoshop or Gimp with 50% opacity in the top layer, I’d get pretty similar results to what most baby-morphers were offering circa 2001. Well, they’ve made some improvements. There are fewer distracting artifacts, like extra ghost ears, blurry eye borders, or baby goatees.

I was, however, quite surprised at how badly a modern baby-morphing service performed this evening when I used two iSight photos of Beth and myself to generate a composite baby image. It turns out we’re having a Klingon:

I’m guessing the auto-skin-tone-detect feature was confused because Beth was back lit in the photo above. I can’t explain how makemebabies.com decided to include a saggital crest on our digital baby’s skull, nor why the baby has sharpened teeth…

With a little finagling the baby image maker managed to yield some more reasonable results as well. Here’s an animated tour of the reasonable and unreasonable Sullivan baby faces:

ETA: As per Beth’s recommendation below, I wanted to let everyone know that other than the Klingon baby, all the non-Caucasian looking babies were the result of my checking the “very dark” or “Asian” box on the final page of the baby generator. The Klingon, however, resulted from the “auto-detect skin tone” option. Also, my recommended mental soundtrack for the baby morph video collage is the theme song from Growing Pains.

Cabled Coozie

June 6, 2010

I just racked a batch of amber ale last week, and pitched yeast on five gallons of peach cider this week. All this home brewing inspired me when I was trying to decide on something quick to knit. This knit beer coozie fit the bill perfectly. I think most knitters could finish one of these while watching a longish movie. I might make a six pack of these in different colors. They can be like those wine glass markers, but these will also keep drinks cold.

I have to say, I had always thought that cozies of all sorts were stupid, and that I would never knit one. Why would I want a fitted, knitted covering for my tea pot or my toaster? Well, I still think toaster cozies are an utterly stupid waste of time and fiber, and possibly also a potential fire hazard, but we drink a lot of tea, and a tea cozy really does keep the pot of tea hot for a much longer time. Keeping beer cold is at least as noble a pursuit as keeping tea hot. Additionally, the word “coozie”, is infinitely funnier and more tacky sounding than the lame word, “cozy.”

Hopefully I’ll get a couple thermometers and see exactly how much longer a beer stays cold inside a cabled, merino wool beer coozie. If so, I’ll definitely post the results. Maybe I’ll compare with a standard foam coozie as well.

The pattern is King’s Cozy by Karrie Weaver. The yarn is some worsted weight Paton’s Classic Merino, leftover from my “Ben” sweater, which is also similarly cabled and therefore matches the coozie too well for the two to ever be seen together.


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