Sunday, December 31, 2006

Down-Home New Year's Blessings and a Recipe

Just got back from the store on a basic TP and kitty litter run. Whilst there I realized I needed to grab some black-eyed peas. If I call my mother tommorrow, she will undoubtably question me as to whether or not I ate my New Years Day black-eyed peas. But I'm not really complaining, the older I get, the more I think the crowder peas are more important the day after than the bubbly the night before. Funny how age turns a fiery punk rocker into a bewildered Fiddler on the Roof. (TRADITION! Tradition!)
Anyhow, so I'm scouring Top food for cow peas, and I can't find them anywhere. None with the dry beans and split peas. Hmmm... I saunter over to the bulk foods. None with the lucite mini-silos of lentils and garbonzos. Hmmm... wait! There is the futuristic micro-grainery where the split-peas live... with nothing but dust and and three lonely peas at the bottom. Dang it! I go back to the ready bagged beans, and looking closer, locate the slot where they should live, one or two stray peas on the shelf. I end up grabbing two of the last cans of Bush's black-eyed peas with bacon, and returning my smoked hog's necks to the meat freezer.
It's strange, whenever I've mentioned the country (most folks think Southern, but I picked up from Grandma and Mom, Kansas girls both) custom of eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day to insure a prosperous and lucky year, most folks out here in the NW, look at me like I'm talking about sacrificing a virgin to the harvest gods. I guess there's some country folk out here after-all, probably hiding their red-necks under long hair. Country-folk being the one caste in the US it is PC to mock and disdain, even more than Muslims.
So, with out further ado, I give you the Dragon's own Honky-Tonk Mama Approved Black-Eyed Peas Recipe.

2 pounds black-eyed peas
2 bay leaves
10 cups of water
1 pound smoked hog necks
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Cavendar's Greek Seasoning
1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole Seasoning
1 pinch cumin
1 pinch Garam Masala
1 pinch paprika

1. Before you go out New Year's Eve, or before you go to bed if you not a partier, pour the peas into a bowl and cover with water, adding a little extra to account for swelling.

2. When you wake up in the morning, and are making that morning cuppa or scaring up the hang-over cure of your choice, pour 10 cups of water into a big ol' pot and put on high heat. When the water starts to boil, throw in yer hog necks. A lot folks like to use ham hocks, bacon, and or cubed ham for this part. I am partial to smoked hog necks, they've got more better meat on 'em for your dollar, and lend the same smoky taste as hocks. Another good traditional is, of course the bone from your Christmas ham, and whatever scrizzlin's of ham might still be hanging around. I definitely prefer something with a bone, as the gelatin helps give the sauce some body, but to each his own. If you are using meat without a bone, or trying the Dragon's totally PC Vegan and Kosher variation skip ahead to step 4.

3. If you are using something with a bone, you'll wanna reduce your heat to a simmer, and throw in the bay leaves and salt. Then walk away for an hour.

4. If you are doing the boneless or meatless version, heat up a skillet (iron, of course) to medium and grease it with bacon grease (if you are using bacon, just chop it up and start cooking it, add the other ingredients once you've got a little grease in the pan)... OK, OK, you can use whatever oil you like, if you're opposed to bacon grease, but you don't know what you're missing. While waiting for the pan to warm, and then the oil, mince your garlic and onion. Once the oils warm (oh about 1 tablespoon of whatever should be fine, you just wanna coat the skillet), add your garlic, onion, and the rest of your spices. If you are using cubed ham, add it at this point. If you are trying the Vegan Kosher version, use dark sesame oil, and 3 or 4 good sized strips of Kombu seaweed. That should give you a nice rich, smoky flavor. Stir this and watch it, it shouldn't take to long for the meat to brown and the onions to start to turn translucent. You don't wanna fry any of these ingredients, just give them a chance to mingle flavors a little.

5. If you are using boned meat, nows the time to pull meat off the bones and toss 'em to yer hound. Keep an eye on that skillet, while you're doing this, and be ready to stir it and'or pull it off the heat, as the need arises.

6. Once you got no bones in your pot, and the contents of your skillet are ready, (this will also be the time when anybody else in the house will begin asking you when it will be done, as you will have filled your home with a heavenly aroma) add the black-eyed peas and skillet contents to your big pot. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, cover, and tell the slavering maniacs trying to storm your kitchen, that it will be an hour to an hour and a half until it's done. That should give you plenty of time to nurse your hangover, watch a couple episodes of Firefly, and make your cornbread. Check it every once and while, and stir, and season as you see fit. I usually find it advisable to hold off on adding anymore hot or peppery spices, letting people season their individual portions. If for some reason you forgot to soak your peas overnight, well it's gonna be more like 3 to 4 hours of cooking.

7. When the peas are tender, serve it up with some cornbread, some greens (Kale is nice), and maybe some mac and cheese. After that you should be well over the hang-over and loaded up with enough luck to take the year's first bracing scooter ride.

Happy New Year everybody!

DIY Light Tent for Studio Photography

Here's a great afternoon project for crafting a studio lighting environment for photographing small three dimensional objects. Perfect for that cash-strapped beginning photographer who needs to do some product shots. (Or the small business person, who's doing promotion on their own.)
If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend money if you can do it yourself and yield the same results. One day I was at my local photography store I saw one of these “Pop-Up” light tents. It consisted of a collapsible white fabric box with a hole in the front and 3 lights - used for photographing small objects in photographic studios. ...
I was going to purchase it until I saw the $100 price tag. No way I am going to spend $100 on some fabric and 3 lights when the material costs far less. So I set off and built one of these light tents and it did not come out bad at all.

Resource for Designing Airbrushing Ventilation Systems

Resource for Designing Airbrushing Ventilation Systems

Ventilation for airbush artists is a serious concern that is usually overlooked, or given a last minute solution like combining a fan with an open window. But waking up with technicolor sneezes after a long day of airbrushing, can really help to open your eyes to the necessity of adequate ventilation. Unfortunately, there aren't that many readymade solutions for airbrush artists who are working on even moderately sized two-dimensional art. The ones that are out there generally cost more than all the other components of an airbrush studio. (Hmmm... that may explain why good ventilation systems are frequently overlooked.)
That's why I've featured so many posts on building your own ventilation system or spray booth:

Cool DIY Painting-Booth
DIY Airbrush-Booth
DIY Spraybooth.html
DIY Spraybooth Part II

This site sells the individual components for dust collection systems for wood-working shops. More importantly for the DIY airbrush artist, they have a really nice tutorial on designing these systems for your shop, and will even email you more indepth PDFs on this, if you get on their mailing list.
Now kids, keep in mind this is a resource for repurposing. Do your research, and figure out what will most efficiently, safely, and frugally meet your purposes. As a very important example, venting atomized solvents past electrical components not designed for such, is a REALLY BAD idea. If you are venting rattle cans, or automotive paint, you need to do a lot more research. (As does your humble Dragon.)

Till later... Paint On!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bye Saddam

Take a Swig of Alf has the greatest post on the lateness of Mr. Hussein. The web is swamped with stories on his execution. Here's something (NSFW) a little lighter:

Why is it that when I choose to cope with the insanity in the world, I turn to silliness for solace?Let's remember our only fond moments with Saddam.


DIY Steampunk, Ratbike Belt

Here's another sweet little instructable, making a belt out of old bike parts. I'm not really a bike-punk, though those hardcore DIY bike-hacking kids do really inspire me.

Here's another take on the same idea.

so i was sitting around today waiting for a meeting to start and after sweeping the floor in the shop and reading a book about defensive cycling i decided my pants were too loose and i needed a belt...and that one needed to be made i went around the shop looking for things to use for a belt and with some insight from other people we came up with what seems to be a damned good belt.

So whether you are an elegant top-hat and tails Steampunk, or a greasy, crusty and patched Bikepunk, here's a sweet little project to add some custom bling to your wardrobe.

DIY UV Photography

DIY UV Photography

Nice how-to on making a UV filter for pocket digital cameras, using a bottle cap and a black-light bulb. Also check out the previous instructable on making a macro lens using a bottle cap and scrounged lenses. Who says photography has to be an expensive hobby?

For years I've wanted to mess around with UV photography. Unfortunately, all the websites on DIY UV seem to assume an infinite amount of money and access to specialized equipment on my part. There are two things that I don't like, when someone tells me I HAVE to spend a lot of money (quartz lenses starting at $3000) or that i need specialized equipment (Wratten 18A filters, not cheap either). So I set out to do it my way, and here's my $5 solution to UV wavelength photography.

via MAKE blog

Friday, December 29, 2006

study: Sky as Janus

study: Sky as Janus

I got a really nice handmade, leather bound sketchbook from my mom for the holidays. Wanted this to be a kind of raising of the bar, a sketchbook which would inspire me, and into which I would scribble serious stuff, not inane doodles.
So, of course, the first entry into said book needed to have a certain significance.

"You don't know how paralysing that is, that stare of a blank canvas, which says to the painter: you can't do a thing. ... Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of 'you can't' once and for all." -Van Gogh to Theo, October 1884

I've had this cool digital photo of Sky for a couple of years now. Originally, it was part of an Evergreen Photo-Land Interns' show, but I've always wanted it to be the basis for a painting.
I figured this image, at this time of year, was an appropriate starting image for the sketchbook, and was one that was interesting enough to keep me engaged in the rendering process.

Punk rock fabric stenciling, and some thoughts on artist's business models

Had an interesting dream last night, in which I painted an interesting grafito. First time in years, that I've dreamed about a simple graphic which I was able to accurately record upon waking. While it would be superstitious to attach to much significance to these occurances, I generally wake up feeling energized and creative when it happens.

I was discussing this with Sky, just a bit a go, and showing him some other simple graphics I have been working on. I have been thinking about designs which would work well as Cafe Press items, but the conversation with Sky caused me to realize that I oughtta try screenprinting them myself. Or at least producing some by hand for more local, impromptu sales.

Anyway, so all this had me looking back through my previous DIY posts, and through an older post on cheap and easy screenprinting, found this post on DIY silkscreening, which is probably how I will approach some of my latest graphic designs. I end up browsing over craftgrrl for other cheap, punk rock visual techniques and came across this discussion about achieving greater control and results from the use of freezer paper stencils. This was a hack that was entirely new to me.

Basically you trace the stencil on plastic or wax coated freezer paper, and lightly iron all the edges. Then you dab fabric paint through the stencil. Certainly a one time stencil, but I can think of times in which it be cool to do a one-off piece this way. For airbrushing textiles, and perhaps even other suraces, this could be a really could be a really cool inexpensive friskett or masking film. And really up until now, I hadn't heard of any real satisfactory masking materials for say airbrushing t-shirts. Most pros just use low-tack spray adhesive on stencil board, or hand shields, both solutions which are more suited to cranked out production designs, instead of one of a kind works of art.

Personally, I think a production model based on publishing might be the most satisfying, cost-effective, and profit-generating. This would consist of one orginal work, a very small edition of hand-painted shirts, a limited run of hand-printed shirts, and then an open run of mass-produced shirts. Seems like a pretty good low start-up cost, business model for a visual artist. The concept of doing prints of the piece on t-shirts has a nice WPA-era populist-era vibe to it. 'Cause almost everybody likes a really cool t-shirt.

Anyway, I picked up a 100' by 18" roll of one sided plastic coated freezer paper for about $6. Nothing compared to normal airbrush frisket, which really isn't suitable for most textile projects and frequently costs ten times as much. I should be mucking about with it in the next few days. If anyone out there has experience, tips, or links related to this process, I'd love to see some comments on this. I'm especially curious if anyone has tried this on leather or primed artist's canvas.

Lightbulb from an Alternate Universe

Technofetishistic artist extrodinaire Datamancer has new images up of some of his projects. The Bugbulb shown above is my favorite.

The bodies of the fireflies are each made from a resistor. The heads are single beads from one of those beaded bank-pen style chains. The abdomens are obviously small amber LEDs. The wings are black cardboard which I edged with yellow paint, and the translucent wings are made from slivers of car window tint. The small white spacers are hard drive jumpers. A small toggle switch in the base turns the LEDs on or off.

Cautious Good News for Vintage Scooterists

File under Christmas Miracle

Well, it looks like the big news that I missed over the break is that Indian Scooter Manufacturer LML will be getting back into the scooter game. They quit production of the model that Genuine badged the Stella in 49 states back in March of this year do to funding and labor problems. The solid details on this are few, with most of the links pointing to two articles from Indian financial news sites.
What does seem certain, is that LML will initially only be producing NV models (rebadged as Stella, Bella, and Star for foreign export) and this production will just be for esport markets. This model, aside from a few updates is a P150 clone. Where as a few years ago, the P series, and clones from Indian manufacturers who had continued production after ending licensing agreements with Piaggio, dominated the market for manual transmission and/or 2-stroke scoots, in 2007 it seemed like we were hearing the death rattle of the breed. Bajaj, who made a 4-stroke manual scooter based on the P150, ceased manufacture of the Cheetak. LML ran into the aforementioned financial troubles, and looked for a while to be out of business for good. And while I haven't seen an official statement, the word on the street is that Piaggio is gonna put the last hold out of the P lineage, the PX150, to bed due to upcoming EU emission standards.

RK Srivastav, a director with LML, said: “We will begin production of the 150 NV scooter as well as of the APE 3-wheeler that was earlier being manufactured under a collaboration with Piaggio. Initially, 10,000 units of the NV will be made every month and sold in overseas markets. We have no plans to service the domestic market initially”.
He said the engine of the old NV would be upgraded; the company already has “sufficient” export orders for this model and would refrain from manufacturing bikes at present. -From the DNAIndia article (link2)

Interesting observations, they will be producing APEs as well, and the NV engine will see some upgrades. Hmmmm....

link 1

Coverage on The Scooter Scoop
and on 2StrokeBuzz

The Woz, Agent of Discordia

The Woz, Agent of Discordia

I don't want to give out too many details, but Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, has a great story about a run-in with the Secret Service in Las Vegas. Definitely a worthy read for all you geeky-pranksters out there.

I had one favorite fake ID that I'd used for almost every airplane flight, domestic and international, that I'd taken for many years. It says "Laser Safety Officer" and has a photo of me with an eyepatch. It also says "Department of Defiance" in an arc, in a font that looks like "Department of Defense" to the casual glance.
As I opened my wallet, I considered whether I should risk using this fake ID on the Secret Service. It probably amounted to a real crime. I had my driver's license as well. But you only live once and only a few of us even get a chance like this once in our lives. So I handed him the fake ID. He noted and returned it. The Secret Service took an ID that said "Laser Safety Officer" with a photo of myself wearing an eyepatch.
You can begin to see why many people don't believe this story when I tell it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Home again, home again... Jiggedy!

Jes and I are safely back on the left coast, after a most pleasant holiday in New England, full of family, fun, humor, warmth, good food and good times. Thanks to everyone for their hospitality, and thanks to Eamon and Sky for looking after our kitty.

More posts to come soon...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Vespa Fishing

Vespa Fishing

Yes, "I'm getting a scooter because of high gas prices" seems to be THE scooterist story of 2006. For some reason local papers and tv news shows love these stories, I guess they think it highlights the desperation oil prices have induced in this country. Of course, we old school scooterists are sick of the stories now, though we do welcome the noobs to the fold, and hope they find that scoots are so fun, they are worth riding regardless of fuel costs.
But here is a new angle on this played theme... Jose over at Lunnis: El blog de los amantes de la luna has purchased a Vespa, to beat the high cost of fishing. Or rather, getting to the fish.

From now on, I will only carry the essentials–fishing rod, fly box,perhaps a sleeping bag–and wear all my necessary clothing, including waders,vest,wading boots and possibly a change of underwear. Everything else stays home!
I know this sounds drastic, but if I am to continue my passion for fishing –this may be the only way to make it affordable to do so.
I also know that the visual image of a rugged outdoorsman on the back of a Mo-ped is not exactly the vision Madison Avenue would like to sell to Orvis or Jeep Cherokee and is more akin to the image of Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber”–but I don’t care!!
Look out Deschutes River Steelhead… we’re LEAN, MEAN, and riding WHINY MACHINES…

I think it interesting how this move is causing Jose to spare down his fishing equipment. Reminds me of Steve over at Scooter in the Sticks experiences with photography.
Jose, I hope you discover new joys in fishing, by trimming down to the essentials, and most especially, I hope you discover the joys that scooter riding provides as well. Oh, and take the MSF class if you haven't already.

Micheal Garvey stranded in P-town

Micheal Garvey Stranded in P-Town.

What is it with Mikus Garvey, that he is so mediagenic? Of course out of the thousands of people stranded in Portland, because of blizzards in Colorado, a local station picks the Dragon's resident wine expert, Micheal Garvey, to interview. I guess the camera loves a gangster.

If you are an Evergreen Alum from the years of 2000 to 2004, with any connection to the Hippie Mafia, Red Beard Gang, or Friends of Jon Corey, you might wanna, check this out. If not, then move along, there's nothing to see here.

For those of you Pacific NW Celtic Mafiosos who care, the Dragon's resident Portland Reporter, Sparky, reports that he is "pretty damn sure" that Mike is currently in Chicago. I guess Garvus's world reknowned gift of Blarney has paid off, yet again.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Steampunk Moleskins

Steampunk Moleskins

Jake, over at Steampunk Workshop has made a slew of these gorgeous moleskins with etched brass plates on the front covers. I've been tempted to link to his DIY brass etching instructions in the past, which are most notably displayed in the creation of a Steampunk Stratocaster. Well, I guess now I have...

Seriously, these are awesome, and I for one, can't wait to see what other projects roll out of the workshop in the future.

Final 'Harry Potter' Title Announced

Final 'Harry Potter' Title Announced

...and it looks like it will be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Still no release date set, however.

No publication date or other details were offered. Rowling is still working on the book, she explained on her Web site in an entry posted early Thursday.
'I'm now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more,' she wrote. 'I don't think anyone who has not been in a similar situation can possibly know how this feels: I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don't want, to finish this book (don't worry, I will.)'

I just finished the other books about a month ago, and can't wait to see how the series turns out.

E-bikes in China

E-bikes in China

Just found this interesting post on how big electric bicycles are becoming in China. Some interesting observations to be found here.

It’s kind of like when you sit down on the sidewalk in summertime and start staring at the ground, first you see one ant… then a couple more… then you realize the whole ground is swarming with bugs. That’s how electric bikes are in China. Once I started noticing them, I noticed that they’re everywhere and the numbers are growing fast. In 2000, 330,000 were sold in all of China. By 2005, they were selling 10 million a year.Being a graduate student researcher, it’s my job to ask questions that will keep me in school a little while longer (joke^_^), so I starting inquiring into WHY this is such a big phenomenon in China, while in the rest of the developed world, the car is the mode of choice. Well the first obvious reason is that these bikes and the fuel they consumer are dirt cheap. You can buy one for the price of an average cell phone here ($100-$250 USD), and to charge the battery for a month's worth of commuting (3-40 km/day) is a whopping $1.25. Another big reason is that cities have started banning gas powered scooters and motorcycles in some city centers to reduce air pollution. Ebikes came in to fill the void. Another reason is the strong history of bicycle use in China. China has an estimated 450 million bicycles, and most people (besides the extremely poor) have at some point in there life used a bike to go to work or school.

NBC posts Heroes episodes online.

NBC posts Heroes episodes online.

I've been wanting to watch this, but since we only have our TV hooked up to a DVD player, I haven't had a chance yet. NBC definitely seems to be one media company, who gets the potential of the net. Too bad I won't have time to watch these for a while...

Glowing Hair Gel

Glowing Hair Gel

Got a punkelf on your holiday list? This is the perfect stocking stuffer. I mean WOW!

A patented process takes ordinary hair color and makes it extraordinary, by adding self-illuminating glow! Voltage does not rely on UV, neon or black lights to create glow. Instead, it produces its own light! Tiny, microscopic particles in the gel come together in the mixing process to produce a bright colorful glow that can be seen in partial light and in the dark for at least 6-8 hours (technically, this incredible effect lasts more than 24 hours at a diminishing glow). The glow is bright enough to even use in lieu of a flashlight to go through a campground at night! The best thing is, while Voltage is classified as a "temporary hair color" it does not actually color the hair cuticle. It "coats" the hair with color. The gel is the delivery medium for the luminescence (glow). This means it is safe for color-treated or bleached hair when used as directed. In the case of colors blue and green, the gel is colorless both in the mixing container and on the hair under normal lighting conditions. Yellow and orange colors do show some color hues in the mixing container but when applied to hair in a lighted room the color mostly disappears because the concentration on the hair is lower. When lighting is reduced to about half-light or darker, all four colors show up brightly.

Via Neatorama

BioDiesel Blog

BioDiesel Blog

Those helpful urban hippies over at TreeHugger (who just implemented a redesign) turned me on to this blog from PropelBioDiesel, a Pacific NW biodiesel company.

Our mission is to provide the most accurate, up to date and practical information to biodiesel drivers. We drive biodiesel, our friends drive biodiesel, and our customers drive biodiesel. That's a lot of biodiesel feedback! Awake at the Wheel is the forum for us to publish this information.

Any Venture Capitalists out there wanna front an attempt to build a geared, diesel, metal bodied scooter? Seriously, folks it's an idea who's time has come, and I'm gonna be so pissed when somebody gets rich off of it in ten years... (not really, I'd just like to see it happen)

Wine Gift Guide

Wine Gift Guide

I did another post recently on inexpensive quality wines, and when I came across this I thought I'd update it. Again a couple of Columbia Valley wines made the top of the list. I'm gonna be keeping an eye out for the Ex Libris, with all my book-pirate buddies, I bet it would be a big hit. I'm just surprised I haven't come across it before.

Here is a list of a few reds that will impress the most distraught holiday hosts. They have three things in common in order to qualify: great presentation value (bonus points for heavy glass); great taste that is way above their actual price; and under $20 retail.

Ex Libris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State. $15. find this wineBottle: heavy! Cabernet: classy! I really have no idea why this wine is priced so low (I found some for $13)--perhaps it is the Washington State discount? Whatever it is, seize it now and give in abundance. I have a half a case already. Fans of the Da Vinci code will especially like this wine because of the label.

Via Lifehacker

Just got this in my email from Vectrix, and figured I'd share with any of you electric obsessed Honky-Tonking scooterists out there.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nice Long Rider Review of the Piaggio MP3

Nice Long Rider Review of the Piaggio MP3

Jes over at Modern Vespa recently got to put the MP3 through it's paces in hilly San Francisco, and has posted a very detailed review over there. Best "article" on this bike I've seen. If you are at all following this scoot, it's worth a read.

Oh, and for you eye-candy junkies, there are some good photos, too.

Vectrix Licenses Rights to Build EV Version of Piaggio MP3

Vectrix Licenses Rights to Build EV Version of Piaggio MP3

Not a lot details, besides what you can surmise from the title, but this is still exciting news.

via 2StrokeBuzz

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stormy Weather and Winter Chores

Some crazy windstorms swept through the South Puget Sound area last week and left Jes and I without electricity for three days, and without internet for four days. (Yes, four days without a net fix is an eternity for your humble dragon.)
My apologies for the lack of posts. During my forced abstinance from the computer, I helped our landlord clear out the trees that got blown down, as well as a few that looked like they had the potential to become widow makers. Got some firewood put back for next year. And I read Neuromancer by oil lamp. I swear that book gets better every time I read it.

Let me catch up with what's been happening out there in cyberspace, and I'll have some new posts up for y'all in a jiffy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Leafy Sea Dragon

And now a picture of one of the Dragon's favorite relatives, the Leaf Sea Dragon. I have often wondered of the synchronicity by which this most psychedelic of creatures, happens to have the initials LSD. Posted for no reason, besides these are so freakin' cool!
Sea Dragons are arguably the most spectacular and mysterious of all ocean fish. Though close relatives of sea horses, sea dragons have larger bodies and leaf-like appendages which enable them to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds. Sea dragons feed on larval fishes and amphipods, such as and small shrimp-like crustaceans called mysids ("sea lice"), sucking up their prey in their small mouths. Many of these amphipods feed on the red algae that thrives in the shade of the kelp forests where the sea dragons live.

Cyberpunk Wagon

Cyberpunk Wagon

I think I've ranted before about how prior to the 20th century, individual transportation was a horse, group or work transportation was a wagon or coach. Somehow we got this disconnect beginning in the 20th century where every individual feels entitled, ever obligated to be hauled around like an emperor in a carriage with a full team of horses.

This picture definitely brings that observation to mind. I don't know what else to say, expect quote William Gibson (or was it Bruce Sterling?) - "The Street will find it's own uses for technology."


Thanks to the Make blog

The Craft of Painting

The Craft of Painting

Interesting essay on the quixotic quest of some artists to follow in the steps of the old masters. Probably boring if you don't paint. Quite interesting if you do, and are obsessed with the quality of your craftsmanship. I think his evaluation of acrylic gesso as a primer for oil based paints maybe a little overarching (I'll have to do some reading on the latest research), but otherwise, an extremely lucid assessment.

Whereas there are a great many artists who feel that the secret to the Old Masters' brilliance lies, at least in part, in employing the same materials they used, I feel this line of thinking overlooks a very important fact: the Old Masters used the best materials that were available to them in their time, in the interest of preserving their works as far into the future as possible. We would be operating more in the spirit of the Old Masters by using the best materials available to us, today, than by insisting on using what we believe was being used three hundred years ago. A great deal has been written about what the Old Masters supposedly used, and how they used it, yet most of it was essentially guesswork, speculation, conclusions drawn based on too little evidence, given greater credence than is warranted by virtue of its having been published in print. Furthermore, recent discoveries from conservation scientists, analyzing paint samples from Old Master paintings being restored, have proved much of the speculation of the past 150 years to have been in error. No doubt this is alarming news to so many artists who have invested a great deal of time and trouble in creating works following what they thought were sound practices, read in old books purporting to contain the "lost secrets of the Old Masters." I have no doubt I will encounter much resistance to the information I bring to light here, as I often do in my teaching, private conversations and correspondence with other artists who have fallen in love with the way they painted and the things they painted with for so many years. To them, and for them, I am sorry, but the truth is better acknowledged than ignored. There are consequences to consider.

Vespa fonts

Vespa fonts

John Rana over at Who Rides a Vespa has links for a couple of fonts based on those used for Vespa badges. Just the thing for designing that next Rally poster.

Hit the link above to find the download.

Lovely Hobbyist-Built Stirling Engines

The site is in Dutch, so I'm posting this mainly as Steampunk eyecandy. An attempt at Babelfish translation, didn't produce much in the way of useable information. I guess I need to do more research on stirling engines...

What all the hip indigenous peoples are riding

What all the hip indigenous peoples are riding

Phillipine Vespa fan site Who Rides a Vespa posted a short article on these last month. It seems these wooden scoots are made by Ifuego tribesmen in the Phillipines. At first, with a typical Western's arrogance, I thought this was a cargo-cult like artifact. But John Rana at Who Rides a Vespa says:

It is said that the wooden scooter used to be an integral mode of transport of our Ifugao brothers in the earlier days; but in this age of motorized transport, it is now solely used and cutom-made for the unique race within the 12-day event called Imbayah festival.

Ah yes, the joys of a scooter rally!

A cursory Google search didn't turn up much besides what you'll find by clicking the title link.

Video Revew of Piaggio MP3

Video Revew of Piaggio MP3

Putting the MP3 through the paces on London streets, and on the raceway.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another reason to love Washington state

Another reason to love Washington state

A NY Times article praising the quiet virtues of Wahington Merlots. I have a couple of friends who work in the wine industry, and when we gather these insiders frequently bring Yakima and Columbia Valley sqeezings with them. Since my group of friends are mostly mid-20's to early 30's professionals just starting out, and starving artists/writers we generally are trying to get maximum bang for our buck. One winery both of the pros seem to favor is Sagelands. They craft some right tasty Merlots and Cabs in the $10 to $15 range (frenquently less, if you watch the sales.) Of course those are the prices we pay in state. Your mileage may vary, but in my experience these wines easily hold their own against wines from other regions costing twice as much. I am no wine expert by any means, but I would readily recommend you try these sometime with pasta or a peppered pork tenderloin (roast portabella for you veggies and vegans.) You may just find you agree with me, that these are wines priced for everyday drinking, that you would be ashamed to take to a small dinner party.

If you try 'em, or have other tips on inexpensive wines with high value taste, let me know in the comments...



An online open directory, ala Wikipedia, for Comics.

Comic histories are insanely complex and convoluted, moreso than any other popular entertainment medium. Realize then that the guidelines we've set here are merely an attempt to provide some standard conventions for an industry that has none. Characters often have multiple personas, timelines, allegiances, agendas and god knows what else. Remember, half of the major characters from DC and Marvel have literally come back from the dead a couple times. We KNOW these rules won't cover every scenario out there, so please, if you think there's something we can do to improve the system, let us know. Just please be patient with us, we've tried to make Comic Vine both intuitive, yet flexible enough to cover the chaos of comics.
Trust based user-submission
Comic Vine uses a unique system for content submission that involves heavy moderation for new or anonymous users and gradually opens up more options to the individual user as they continue to submit quality data to the site. Most users can gain live edit access (where submission show up on the site immediately) within a week or two of submitting approved content. Until that time submissions go through a moderation queue that is monitored by the staff, or most likely, volunteer moderators from the community. We try to get to new submissions within 24 hours. You will receive a private message once your submission has been approved or rejected and a history of your submissions can be accessed at anytime from within your profile.

Steampunk Bike

Steampunk Bike

Check out that headlamp! This is easily the coolest thing I've seen this week. And the creator went out in style, riding one of the sweetest custom vehicles of all time, without hurting it or anybody else...

The Boston Daily Globe reported the tragic events that followed:
“The machine was cutting out a lively pace on the back stretch when the men seated near the training quarters noticed the bicycle was unsteady,” the paper said. “The forward wheel wobbled, and then suddenly, the cycle was deflected from its course and plunged off the track into the sand, throwing the rider and overturning.
“All rushed to the assistance of the inventor, who lay motionless beneath his wheel, but as soon as they touched him they perceived that life was extinct,” the paper added. “Dr. Welcott was summoned and after an examination gave the opinion that Mr. Roper was dead before the machine left the track.”
It was later determined that a heart attack killed Roper, who left behind a legacy of steam motorcycles that dated back nearly three decades. His first, on display at the Smithsonian Institution, was built in 1869, nearly 20 years before Gottlieb Daimler created the first internal-combustion motorcycle. About 10 other steam-powered vehicles followed, culminating in this machine, now owned by Robert Boudeman of Richland, Michigan, and on display at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame museum.
In this final design, Roper’s engine consisted of a small boiler over a coal firebox that was good for about 7 miles on each stoking. As the inventor liked to say, “It would climb any hill and outrun any horse.”


And you thought Spooks didn't have a sense of humor

And you thought Spooks didn't have a sense of humor

Apparently, this is the logo of Russia's Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie (GRU), or Main Intelligence Directorate. Holy Espionage, Batman!

It can also be seen here.


Lucien Freud in New York

Lucien Freud in New York

Lucien Freud, one of my favorite living artists, currently has a gallery show in NYC. Jes and I are going to Connecticutt for the holidays, but as the show ends on the 20th, I doubt I'll get a chance to see it. Pity.

Mr. Freud, who turns 84 today, seems relatively hunkered down and housebound. In a sense the reality of figurative painting itself has always been Mr. Freud’s primary subject. Sexuality, while not absent, is certainly not on display, much less acted out. His best paintings make palpable the claustrophobia of the studio and its harsh light, the dead weight of the people posing and their inscrutable thoughts or blank minds, and the continuous effort on the painter’s part to get things right.
The main influence has always seemed to be Cézanne. Although painted in a heavier hand, the faceted surfaces of Mr. Freud’s bodies have a similar built-up point by point articulation. As in Cézanne, the planes of the floor or the wall heave forward unexpectedly; the coverlet on a bed can form into landscapes. The struggle for resolution can be especially agitated around the faces of Mr. Freud’s female nudes, which are sometimes so overworked they seem almost battered. This may be why his portraits of men are often his strongest works.

If you are so lucky as to be in NYC now, and enjoy contemporary figurative realism, you should check this out.

Graphic Novels for Libraries

Graphic Novels for Libraries

This is an interesting post in a local Ontario libraries blog about dealing with graphic novels in the stacks.
Back in college, when I spent Summers and holidays in Seattle, my local branch library had an awesome graphic novel selection. (They were also the branch nearest Fantagraphics... I wonder if there was any connection?) After doing class reading all year, being able to discover gems like The Golum's Mighty Swing, A Contract with God, and Kings in Disguise, really helped to keep me sane.
Even if you have no connection with library science besides the card in your wallet, this is worth checking out, if you are at interested in sequential art.

Many graphic novels are geared for young adults and as such, contain themes that are much more mature than typical comic books. Parents are becoming concerned that children may be attracted to the format and read books that have too adult a theme for them. Blankets by Craig Thompson and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel have set off the first challenge in the library's history. Both books deal with mature themes of turbulent childhoods, strict religious upbringings, and homosexuality. The books contain pictures of a naked couple, albeit in cartoon form.Parents are mostly concerned with the illustrations and that they may be accessible to children. Louise Mills, a Marshall resident, asks, "Does this community want our public library to continue to use tax dollars to purchase pornography?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

DIY SLR Flash Diffuser from a Cigarette Box

You've probably guessed that your humble dragon is something of a shutterbug. Unfortunately, being the nocturnal lizard that I am poses some difficulties with my photographic pursuits. I hate flashes. I prefer candid shots, the kind where the subjects have forgotten there is a camera present. That's kind of hard to do if your camera has to imitate a phosphorous grenade to get anything out of the scene. And even if you are willing to give up the element of surprise, there is always the chance that you are gonna trigger flashbacks in a PTSD'd combat veteran in the vicinity. (Seriously, I've seen it happen.)

On top of all that, in-camera flashes invariably wash out a scene, and leave your subjects looking like those life sized cardboard cutouts you sometimes see at video-stores. No drama, no mystery there.

Just a handy little trick to keep in mind. Oh and I tried it on my non-SLR compact digital, and it works pretty good, though a little more awkardly than in the camera featured in the instructable.

via StreetTech


Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's 300 going to be a movie. I'm pretty excited about this, more than I was for Sin City. For me the beauty of the Sin City comics is how a film noir aesthetic is translated into ink and paper. Sure it was fascinating and impressive to see how faithfully it was turned into film, but it just wasn't the same. Have you ever seen pictures where people are posed to recreate famous paintings? That's what it reminded me of. Every media has it's own peculiarities, I think it is a mistake to try to slavishly recreate works from one media into another.
Anyway, the trailer for 300 really got me pumped. I don't know why these kinds of stories strike such a deep cord with me. I guess it is that, as Borges says, "only lost causes are of any interest to a gentleman." If like me, you enjoy grim tales of the last stands of noble warriors, you should check out the Battle of Thermopylae, which the basis for 300. It makes the Alamo sound like a tea party.

RAW blogs!

Robert Anton Wilson has a blog!!!

No hyperbole I can come up with can express my joy that this old rabble rouser is still with us, and is now spewing his random thoughts into cyberspace.

Wavy Gravy once asked a Zen Roshi, "What happens after death?"
The Roshi replied, "I don't know."
Wavy protested, "But you're a Zen Master!"
"Yes," the Roshi admitted, "but I'm not a dead Zen Master."

Thanks go out to Klintron at Technoccult for the heads up

DIY Pinhole-Matchbox-Spy Camera

DIY Pinhole-Matchbox-Spy Camera

If you are interested in some old school film photography, with that oh so hip retro vibe that many achieve using pin-hole cameras or toy cameras such as a Holga, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

Here's my latest contraption which uses 35mm film to provide square images of 24 x 24mm. Using this size means that you can get up to 50 exposures on a standard roll of 36 exposure film. Now that's what I call economy!
The image edges suffer from distortion that gives a "Diana" quality to the pictures. In fact, the images look very "toy camera" like indeed, except that the pinhole allows some really good close ups due to the DOF of the pinhole.
It's also costs pretty much nothing to build - certainly a lot cheaper than a $100 Diana off ebay!
So far I've only run a single roll of colour film through it, which I then developed in B&W chemicals,so the results are a bit odd but they did prove it worked. I'll be posting additional photos (colour too!) onto my flickr site,
check it out .

The instructions are pretty clear, and points that might be troublesome to a novice are discussed in the comments. Really, why buy a disposable camera and add to the landfill, when you could make one of these (and have some fun in the process) and save just a little from the landfill?

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's all one thing

It's all one thing

Just discovered this great blog, and was really grooving on it when my brain says to me, "Me, where do we know Will Shetterly from?" Finally me and the brain determined (with a little help from google and wikipedia) that Will wrote some in the Borderlands series (an early influence on this here Punkelf.)

Anyway, Will has provided me with two good quotes to illustrate what I was trying to say about, religion and politics earlier. The first is his subtitle quote from Thomas Paine:
"My country is the world and my religion is to do good."

And the second is from Will himself, presumably in reaction to the aforementioned Atheists call to arms that seems to be everywhere these days:
"it reminds me that I don't much like people who insist that my private beliefs about the universe should be the same as theirs. Then I remind myself that they do this out of insecurity, so I cut them slack. By definition, the difference between atheists and agnostics is that agnostics are comfortable with uncertainty. Some people will quibble about the original meanings of "agnostic" and "atheist." To them I say, speak to me in Old English or accept that our language changes. Whether I'm an atheist or an agnostic or a theist really has more to do with you than with me. I think I'm a pantheist or a panentheist, but mostly I think the answer to "why are we here?" is "to make 'here' better." "

And on a side note Will also seems to be trying to kick-start a new Winter Holiday, that kind of makes me think of Kwanza for everybody, World Week. I remember when my Mother first discovered Kwanza when I was teen, we both thought it was pretty cool, and the main thing that prevented us from adopting its observation, was that while our melanin can be quite dark, it is only in spots. Now there is a week long winter holiday everyone, regardless of religion, creed or colot. Even us speckled people. cool.

Dharma Punx

Dharma Punx

The Dragon makes a concerted effort not to talk too much about Politics or Religion here. OK, yeah, so I fail at that, particularly concerning Politics. I've started a lot of posts on these topics that end up in the virtual recycling bin. For some as of yet not verbalized reason, I really feel, that barring a few very justified exceptions, this just ain't the place for it. For example, the Blogosphere has been all abuzz lately with the Richard Dawkins Atheistic Jihad. I've been very tempted to comment on this. But, ultimately have felt that nothing I might say would really be HEARD. It's one of those questions about which people mostly have their minds made up. And I'm not interested in changing anybody's deeply held beliefs.
This is one of those exceptions.
Or maybe not.
Because there is a level to which Buddhism is a philosophy, more than a religion. I almost said, more than it is a faith, but there are ways in which it can function as that, without getting entangled in the tar-rabbit which is the theist vs. atheist debate. But that is an essay for another time.
I read Noah Levine's Dharma Punx three years ago, and it left an indelible mark on me. Sky had given me an ARC (advance review copy, for those of you not in the book business) for the winter holidays. Now I won't lie to you. I don't think Noah Levine is a literary genius. But that is not the appeal of this book. It is more like the "Reader's Write" section of the Sun. It's a brutally honest, raw, frequently painfully so, account of one young man's coming into to adulthood. As a friend of mine once said about a totally different story, it is an "anti-John Hughes coming of age story."
If you are between the ages of 30 and 40, and were in the Punk scene as an adolescent, you will find people you know in here. You may find yourself in these pages. If you are of another generation, or another sub-culture, I think you will still find much here that is deeply affecting. Noah pulls no punches in describing the limitations and obstacles within himself, which he has struggled with over the years. Sometimes his story was physically painful for me, as I saw him growing and working through immature attitudes and perspectives which I still wrestle with.
Ultimately that is why I think Buddhism can be seen as a non-religion. Much of it merely consists of cognitive tools for increasing one's awareness and understanding of one's self. And this can be practiced in conjuction with a theistic faith, or with an atheist's desire for cold rationality.

Lego Vespa

Not a lot of info here, but what is there to know? It's a Vespa P200e, but in Lego form.
Somethings are cool in their own right you know...
See it from all angles.

Steampunk drinking games

Click the link, on the page that appears, click on the corporate logo, and you will be taken to a strange brass geared themed game. Steampunk and Belgian beer, does life get any better than this?
(Note to Eamon and Kegan, sorry gents, I've been waiting awhile for a chance to use this picture.) To everyone else, aren't these the two most dapper gentlemen you've seen in a hundred years?

Hyperland; 1990 Douglas Adams Documentary on the Intarwebs

Hyperland; 1990 Douglas Adams Documentary on the Intarwebs

This is pretty cool, Hyperland, a BBC show from 1990, predicts that "linear television" is going to be done away with. Especially interesting from a historical perspective, as this was produced and aired way before (four or five years being like a geological epoch in computer time) the mid-90's Internet craze began. Indeed the word "internet" is never used in the production. I mean come on they titled the the thing Hyperland, which I bet was Douglas Adams's term, as he wrote the program. Mr. Adams personal software agent, Tom, is played by Tom Baker, the quintessential Dr. Who.
This interesting little film sent me on a Wikipedia orgy, as you might be able to tell from all the links above. Fitting I suppose.

In this one-hour documentary produced by the BBC in 1990, Douglas falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about future time when he may be allowed to play a more active role in the information he chooses to digest. A software agent, Tom (played by Tom Baker), guides Douglas around a multimedia information landscape, examining (then) cuttting-edge research by the SF Multimedia Lab and NASA Ames research center, and encountering hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson. Looking back now, it's interesting to see how much he got right and how much he didn't: these days, no one's heard of the SF Multimedia Lab, and his super-high-tech portrayal of VR in 2005 could be outdone by a modern PC with a 3D card. However, these are just minor niggles when you consider how much more popular the technologies in question have become than anyone could have predicted - for while Douglas was creating Hyperland, a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web... -From the Douglas Adams website page on Hyperland.

My Little Cthulhu

My Little Cthulhu

Isn't he kewt? Soon to be gracing the cubicles of geeks worldwide.
I wonder how big this is gonna be, might look cool velcroed to the front fender of a scoot.

via Neatorama

Filmic Steampunk fodder

Ok so this 2001 remake of a 1960 Haunted House feature, is not the greatest horror film ever made. And I'm not even in the habit posting about horror films that often. So why am I commenting on it?

Well, if you troll the reviews available online, you will find a lot of critics agree with me that the true star of this film is the house. One reviewer described it as I.M. Pei meets Leonardo DaVinci, and that ain't far off. Glass and steel walls, (with latin incantations etched into the glass) that shift and move like the sliding panels in traditional Japanese architecture, all powered by a visible system of brass gears... Lot's of cool inspiration for steampunk images. Or even if you just have an appreciation for fantasy architecture, it's worth checking out.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Comic Space: My space for comics creators, and comics geeks

Comic Space: My space for comics

Just came across this on Warren Ellis's blog. Sounds pretty cool. Feel free to look me up.

More Scooter Greetings

Ok, so I'm searching for some Vespa images for a project, and posting the cool but irrelevant stuff here. I'm sure somebody out there is searching for something to put on a scooter themed Christmas card. If so, here you go, no need to thank me.

Great Resource of Vespa Calendar Art

Great Resource of Vespa Calendar Art
The French Vespa Club des Savoie has a great collection of old Vespa Calendar images online, pretty decent resolution scans, even. Most of this is cheesecake, pin-up style art, which is a natural concluscion for an ad director to take, I guess. I mean sexy curves are already there when your dealing with Vespas, no need to deny it. Some of the classic 50's Vargas-style airbrush paintings are particularly alluring to the dragon... because well I like Vespas and airbrushing.
Some of these ads are photographs, such as the eternal class act Gary Cooper, seen above. I chose Mr. Cooper for this post, well cause the Dragon is a sophisticated customer. The John Wayne image I've featured can be found here, as well as Angie Dickinson, Joan Collins, Ursula Andress, Jayne Mansfield, and Raquel Welch... Mmmm Raquel Welch... You know I was never the same after watching her dance in a fur bikini on the Muppet Show when I was 5... Ah, but that's a story for another time.

The scooter blues

The scooter blues

Finally a local newspaper scooter story that's not all about high gas prices, with cut and paste factoids, and mistakenly attributing the creation (instead of popularization) of scooters with Piaggio. This one is definitely penned by a scooterist, the experiences elucidated, and self-deprecating humor prove that.

I wish I knew why Harley riders stare straight through me when I'm coming down the street on my scooter from the opposite direction.
Sadly, I'm beginning to suspect American motorcyclists of subscribing to a caste system in which Harley-Davidsons occupy the top tier, followed by the Euro-touro blends, the bullet bikes, dirt bikes, and finally, the dung of motorized two-wheeled transportation, the scooter.
I own a scooter. Americans are buying and riding more gas-saving scooters. Do we have to organize our own rally just to get a little respect?
It may be that a manifesto tooled into leather and nailed to a dealership door could make our case for a new age on the streets. Not everyone who chooses to ride a scooter is a wimp; clearly, not everyone who rides a Harley is a rugged individual. I've seen the ladies with blue hair driving their two-wheeled Buicks, and believe me, it takes guts to scoot around on our public roads with only 49 ccs under our seats.
I'm proud of my comrades for staying alert, being cautious and sucking up less gasoline. It's time the big bikes realized they're representing the Hummers and SUVs of the motorcycle world. ...

Being ignored as a bipedal without pedals only makes matters worse. The scooter rider already feels invisible at the traffic light, but here's the most embarrassing part. I've arrived at intersections early in the morning when no traffic is forthcoming, especially from side streets. I pull up to the crosswalk where the weight-sensitive traffic signal should get some sense of my presence, but nothing happens. The light stays red for me, green for the rest of humanity. I could sit a full five minutes wrapped in my invisibility cloak, waiting for the signal to change, waiting for another vehicle to pull up. Once, I even put my scooter up on its center stand and jogged over to push the pedestrian crosswalk button.
Lately, I've taken to simply looking both ways for traffic and scooting across the intersection regardless of what the light tells me to do. Hey, what I'm doing amounts to a blatant disregard for authority - just like any good Harley rider.

Crazy Japanese Customized Maxi-Scoot

Crazy Japanese Customized Maxi-Scoot

From this:
To this:

Alert the Media! That young woman has just stolen Flash Gordon's scooter!

I did a post on what turns out to be a commissioned bike based off of this original back in May. If you follow the title link, you'll find the beginning of a quite long web-article on the process that was undertaken to produce this lovely Space-Age scooter. That link is to the Google translation, which is spotty at best, but there are lots of photos. Obviously this is a much larger project than most of us will be undertaking anytime soon, but it is still quite an inspiration.

Santa Sighting

I don't wanna go stomping on anyone's closely held personal beliefs about Saint Nick, (see below post) but c'mon. Everyone knows Father Christmas is a scooterist, with a predisposition for classic Italian 2-strokes. Amazing what you can fit onto a rear rack when ya gotta!

Biker's 'Twas the Night before Christmas

Biker's 'Twas the Night before Christmas

Found this on some random dude named Ben's myspace blog. It's definitely from a biker, not scooterist perspective... but cute nonetheless. Here's a taste:

I couldn't help staring as he shifted the tranny,
but I had to go in -- I was freezing my fanny.
When down through the chimney he fell with a crash,
and out of the woodstove he came dragging his stash.

With a twinkling eye he passed out the loot,
a new jacket for her and some parts for my scoot.
He patted her cheek and then shook my hand,
spun on his heel and up the stovepipe he ran.

From up on the roof came a great peel of thunder,
as that mighty V-twin tore the silence asunder.
As he roared into the night, he waved and he cried,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good ride."

Diesel Mopeds?

Diesel Mopeds?

A blogger named Eric Rucker has this thread on his site, speculating on the creation of an open-source design for an 18cc diesel engine for motorizing bicycles that would provide 200-400 miles per gallon and could possibly be run off of vegetable oil. The thread is getting a little stale, but as the comment below shows, has some definite upsides, were it to be worked out. Most of the commentary and links here are too technical me, not being an engine... um, engineer, but I'd sure like to encourage anyone who has the skills for this type of thing to take a look.

- As to the potential market, it could be huge. I can see the millions of peasants and lowly paid city dwellers around the world with mild to temperate weather, who make minimum wage and who must commute long distances by human pedaling bykes or worst, in public buses, with fares eating deeply into their meager salaries and taking a lot of commuting time. For these people, a very high mpg, high torque at low rpm (less wear, safer speeds) micro diesel, purchaseable thru low interest micro-credits, could make a huge difference in quality of life (more time for family or own micro businesses (micro-taxis, small cargo deliveries, etc), with increased safety (flywheel solid state generator for lights/radio). I for one, would just enjoy puttering along on leasurely drives at 200-300 mpg- And then there is the possibility of using bio-diesels. Oh boy. Just love the thought of it. Anonymous commentor

Friday, December 08, 2006

Firefly reborn as MMORPG; Browncoats riot in celebration

Firefly reborn as MMORPG; Browncoats riot in celebration

And you thought Star Wars Galaxies was cool...

Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.
Now that's shiny.
Multiverse, maker of a free MMO-creation platform, plans to announce Friday morning that it's struck a deal with Fox Licensing to turn the show into an MMORPG in the fashion of Star Wars Galaxies or Eve Online.
The "Browncoats," as Firefly's most devoted fans are known, have been campaigning to bring the show back almost since the moment it was canceled in late 2002. Now they'll get their wish, albeit in a new form.
"We see virtual worlds as an extraordinarily promising new entertainment medium," said Adam Kline, Fox Licensing's vice president of media enterprises in an e-mail. "We believe Multiverse can deliver an experience that will remain true to the original series, while enabling a whole new level of personal involvement for fans."
Canceled in the United States after only 11 episodes, Firefly has become the Star Trek of 21st-century sci-fi fandom: a show that seemed to remake the genre even as it stayed faithful to the conventions of "hard" science fiction, like engine room problems and menacing hordes lurking on the edge of known space.
What made the show special was the wry, often self-deprecating humor of its characters, from the captain with the checkered past to the unwittingly sexy engineer, the dull hunk of a mercenary with a girl's name, and the mysterious young woman passenger with special gifts.

Special gifts? gee, are they talking about River or Inara?

It ain't a second season, but my Browncoat brethern and sistern, this is some right shiny news.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nice restored PAV trailer

Nice restored PAV trailer

This was listed recently on the ScooterBBS. These are without a doubt the nicest, coolest trailers for your vintage scoot. All the Dragon's capital is tied up in holiday plans right now, or I'd be jumping on it, and posting this pic to brag about it. My loss is some other lucky scooterist's gain, though. Click the link for more details, and contact info on the seller.
Dang! I'm sad I can't jump on this, I bet my compressor would fit on/in this puppy, for those commando mural sessions... oh well.

Swordcane : The Official Web Site of Burger Knives

Swordcane : The Official Web Site of Burger Knives

Why would anyone need a real sword cane? Because they are freakin' cool! That's why!
If you agree with me, or you are one of those sickos who just likes to drool over classy, well made blades, you owe it to yourself to check this site out.
They have four different models ranging from $380 to $780, and sound like the real deal, not some "wall-hanger" show off piece. Shown at left and described below is the Mark IV, their top-of-the-line model.

UNIQUE QUALITIES : Strong, lightweight, our canes contain a beautifully hand ground and polished steel blade snugly fitted into a tapered reinforced composite shaft available in matt black carbon or carbon weave. All models feature a positive locking mechanism with release button. All our sword canes are designed and hand built from the ground up to be functional every day weight bearing walking canes.
DIMENSIONS : The standard length of our canes is 920 mm (36") this can be altered to customer specifications at no extra cost. Weight approx. 300 grams (10oz). Blade length of all models 440 mm (17.5"). Shaft diameter, tapered 22 mm - 16 mm (7/8" - 5/8") all components are 303 stainless steel.

Happy Birthday, Boston Jon

Yesterday would have been my friend Jon's 25th birthday. You are missed, buddy.

Beautiful Handmade Books and Satchels

Beautiful Handmade Books

A while back I was searching for a really high quality sketchbook. After over twenty-five years of drawing and sketching on everything from butchers paper to $5 a sheet Japanese gampi, I felt I had reached a point where I deserved a quality sketchbook. In the past, the more expensive the sketchbook, the more intimidating it was to me. If the book itself was already a work of art, I was afraid I would ruin it, were I to make a mistake. Finally I have reached a point where, a really quality book is a challenge. It's a slap in the face, a dare to fill it with the kind of drawings it deserves. The trouble is, that kind of book is hard to find. There are a few bookmakers out there making gorgeous books, but frequently they are hard to find, and when you do, you must commission the book you want. More people will use an expensive handmade book as a journal, diary, or guest book, so most of them are lined. And when you find ones that are unlined, frequently the paper is not suitable for the variety of media, and working techniques, which I would be inclined to subject them to.
Another aspect of my finickiness on the subject, is that I have made books, I have known some amazing bookbinders in my time. My tastes in this realm are educated and sophisticated. The problem being that now that I can afford, and feel confident in my ability to use, the kind of book I'd always wanted, I was unable to find them... until I found this site.

Ummmm.... Yummy, yummy exposed stitch binding. Ok, maybe I can't afford them right now, but these are definitely worth saving up for. Or if you have the budget, and have a really hard to buy for individual on your gift list this year.

Also take a peek at these satchels. Again these are pricey, but they look worth it. I go through a book bag or messenger bag every year or two. At $30 to $100 a pop it would take too long for one of these babies to pay for itself. And that would be before I passed it onto my first grandchild to go to college. Now that's what I can a man-purse! Wear it with your Utili-kilt, and dare someone to call you a sissy.

Cyclope Single wheel trailer for two wheelers

Cyclope Single wheel trailer for two wheelers

Canadian manufacturer has these stylish looking single wheel motorcycle trailers for $1400 to $1600 CDN. Beware, their site is one of those wacky flash dependant numbers, though. Couldn't figure out how to order one, perhaps they are only available from dealers in Canada? Still they are really pretty and retro, and would look awesome painted to match your favorite vintage scoot.

Got Wood?

Tons of Wooden Computer Stuff

EcoGeek ran a story back in May on wooden computing. Some of the things mentioned, like the case mod pictured on the left, are custom one-up jobbies. And of course some are available commercially. The previously mentioned mahogany set, is featured. Another interesting set is one made of bamboo, which is of course a far more sustainable resource than hardwoods.
Many of the items mentioned are only available from overseas, but the pictures are certainly worth perusing if you are contemplating building your own wooden or steampunk system. The Russian cpu case is particularly gorgeous.

Less Expensive USB Keyboard and Mouse

Real Wood Keyboard and Optical Mouse Set (USB)

Amazon's got this set up for $28. It looks like the keys are plastic. But for that price, I think I could just pop them off, spray with some brass spray paint and remark them with some rub on letters. Jes's computer is starting to need a new keyboard and mouse anyway... maybe it's time to begin gathering the smaller, less expensive components for my Steampunk dream pc...

Hannspree's Wood 10" LCD Television

Hannspree's Wood 10" LCD Television

In the vein of ready-made steampunk PC components, or as is the case here, components that beg for just some minor tweaking to be integrated into your Neo-Victorian computational station, the dragon offers up this cute little number. It's a LCD TV, not a pc display proper, so it would take a little tweaking to plug into your system. but if you are like the Dragon, and insist on having a smaller secondary monitor for your photoshop palettes, so that your working image can dominate your primary display, this could be just the thing.
Plus it is just the cutest wittle thang...

High-End Wood Computer Peripherals

High-End Wood Computer Peripherals

So you want that stylish Steampunk wooden PC look, but have more money than time/woodworking skills? Well WoodContour has the solution for you. I've linked to their sale page, but you are still going to have to cough up some serious coin for these babies. The above complete set, available in mahogany or purple heart runs $1800! For some reason it is cheaper to buy the components seperately, PS2 mouse is $50, wireless mouse is $150, keyboard (used) is $400, 17" LCD display is $400. I'm guessing the complete set comes with a new keyboard and that is considerably pricier than the used one. Still $450 for a nice wooden cased LCD and mouse isn't too bad, you could pay that if you weren't doing much comparison shopping, anyway. And it could be just the thing to finish off your Electro-Automated Binary-Data Computational Engine, or whatever wacky title you've come up for Steampunk project.
These are also available in Stone, if you are going for that Fred Flintsone NeoLithic Punk vibe.

Punk Photographer: DIY tripod

Punk Photographer: Pocket Tripod
instructables : Pocket Tripod
The Dragon has been lusting over the Gorillapod, mini-tripod with flexible legs meant to wrap around just about anything for sometime now. I seem to prefer shooting in low-light scenarios, and despise flashes. I actually like the strange effects that digital photo-sensors produce in low-light situations with long exposures. But the effects I like come from the movement of the subjects, not of the camera, and most tripods are too bulky for my purposes, i.e. won't fit in my shoulderbag.

This contraption is pretty cool though. Ugly as sin, but if you're punk enough that won't matter, and might even be a selling point... Plus, you can't beat the price. Could be just the thing for a photography major, you could save that extra money for something necessary like film or beer. Although, thinking about it, $20 is that much for a tripod. I quess being 35 now, I feel like I've earned the right to pick and choose my punk-rock affectations... "What a drag it is getting old..."

step 1Get Supplies
you need 4 things:3 Stiff pieces of wire, 10+ inches long (old coat hangers, copper house wiring); a 1/4" bolt that fits camera mounts, there pretty common; electrical tape; pliers

via LifeHacker

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More info on the coming L series from CMSI

More info on the coming L series from CMSI

Steve over at TheScooterScoop, has the skinny on the new Lambretta wannabe that CMSI has in the works. A lot of people have been poo-pooing these, but it's looking pretty hot to me.

Unfortunately we don't have the tech specs and details on it's release, but from the images and discussions we had in the booth it seems that CMSI isn't in it just for the business, but also the passion. The design and aesthetics are in fact closely derived from the last models Innocent, binding together this classic look with an updated, more ecologically friendly power plant that is now readily available. It's the same motor that found on the Vespa GTS.

The Hot Toddies, "Motorscooter"

Illnoise over at 2StrokeBuzz has a link up to these ladies' page due to the catchy pop-stylings on the song "Motorscooter." Kind of an early sixties pop vibe. I predict it will be running through my head as I shift gears this winter...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Build Your Own Virtual Motorcycle Company - The Kneeslider

Build Your Own Virtual Motorcycle Company - The Kneeslider

The Kneeslider has a very interesting article up on Virtual Manufacturing. Very interesting... I think this is still a little ways off, for something as indepth as vehicles, though I guess it is basically what Cafepress is doing if you look at it right.
Maybe it's time for me to polish up those designs for a camper trailer for two-wheelers...

In the United States and elsewhere, manufacturing jobs are heading overseas, factories large and small can no longer compete selling the one thing they sell, but if they can re-purpose some of their machines and rent out the capacity along with their skilled operators, maybe you can build that motorcycle and your neighbor can build that car and the guy down the street can start a furniture company, kinda makes you think doesn’t it? Rent every piece you need from initial design and engineering to manufacturing to warehousing to shipping, … a virtual company manufacturing and selling physical products.