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Meme It Up!

Figured I would jump on the bandwagon myself, though I also do not have a purse:

  • Pants Pockets/Belt:

    • wallet containing money and cards

    • Pilot V-Ball gel roller pen

    • GraphGear 0.7mm mechanical pencil

    • Zebra 0.5mm mechanical pencil

    • mechanical eraser

    • a pop tab

    • MTU ID on retractable belt clip

    • Gordon 9-LED flashlight

    • 3"x5" top spiral notebook

    • black Sharpie

    • red, green, blue, black dry-erase markers

    • sunglasses and case

    • 120GB iPod Classic and headphones

    • Gerber Suspension multitool

    • collapsable chopsticks

    • 1GB, 4GB, 8GB flash drives on ball chain

    • keys on retractable belt clip

    • kleenex pack

    • hand sanitizer

    • cell phone

    • water bottle

  • Backpack:

    • three-ring binder full of blank engineering paper

    • GIANT manufacturer bike catalog

    • laptop

    • laptop power cord

    • Targus four-port surge protector

    • Logitech VX Nano mouse

    • a few carabiners

    • 150' 550 cord in assorted lengths

    • black, blue, red, green Sharpies

    • blue, red dry-erase markers

    • pink, orange highlighters

    • drawing compass

    • navigational compass

    • protractor

    • 6" stainless ruler

    • TI-89

    • Casio scientific calculator

    • stapler

    • four floppy disks

    • art eraser

    • bluetooth dongle

    • four rechargeable AAA cells

    • kleenex pack

    • Band-Aids

    • jewelers' screwdriver set

    • needlenose pliers

    • standard pliers

    • multitool with flashlight

    • four-bit screwdriver set

    • ATDC giveaway flashlight

    • IFI SPIKE relay

    • 50' 20ga. wire

    • 20' 3mm silver/tin resin-core solder

    • 10' 4mm solder wick

    • umbrella

    • litre Nalgene bottle

    • Meterman multimeter

    • two 10x 'scope probes

    • eight multicolored alligator-clip test leads

    • USB-RS232 adapter

    • cell phone data cable

    • Autodesk bandanna

    • "ALLY: Straight, not Narrow" button.

    • Eagle rank pin (BSA)

    • Brotherhood rank pin (BSA-OA)

I had not realized how much I actually carry on a daily basis until now...maybe I should cut back. On the other hand..."Be Prepared", no?


March 18 2009, 19:53:52

yeah... about that..

yeah my list wasn't complete... the one I posted on Mary Peed's journal... I should make a complete list sometime..

And be prepared is how boyscouts and girlscouts get into trouble! But luckily we are prepared.

March 18 2009, 22:58:43

I try to both be prepared and pack rather light. I don't have a whole lot of pockets, and don't want to print stuff through my clothes, so I try to carry stuff that has the most utility in a small space. For instance, my leatherman was handy, but I found I used the main knife blade on it 95% of the times I pulled it out... so I replaced it with a single-blade folder I can flick open with one hand, and wear clipped to my waistband inside my pants without even noticing it's there, even when sitting down.

I'd get a smaller laptop bag if I found one I liked. Especially for my non-work laptop (Eee 901).

Info Dump

So, lots of stuff been going on. FIRST build season ended last night, with the robot in a more-or-less sort-of functional state. Our intake roller motors are apparently drawing around 45A when the battery drops to < 12VDC, which is an issue because they are Fisher-Price motors wired with either 10ga. or 12ga. wire to Victor speed controllers wired to 40A slow-blow thermal breakers. As such, we drain the battery from 13VDC to 10-11VDC within 15s of turning the rollers on, the breakers pop, voltage climbs back to 12VDC, and the cycle repeats as soon as the breaker closes. On the plus side, the camera is on the robot in a semi-permanent fashion, which bodes well for us once we get code for it. Autonomous routines have been discussed, and I am still waiting to hear back from US Digital on the encoder issue. On the bigger plus side, I can has life again.

I contacted my boss at Valentine, and was informed that he will be hiring me back this summer, which is pretty sweet. As such, though I attended the Career Fair, I did not need to focus on getting a job and was able to talk to a few companies for practice and to get a feel for options, and the consensus was, no one is hiring. Literally three-quarters of the companies there were actively telling people that they were accepting resumes, but not hiring on any level. Also, the swag was not very good either.

I have been taking an archery class during the first half of this semester, and it has been quite a lot of fun. I have discovered that, if I do not actually focus on aiming, posture, or position and essentially just speed-fire salvoes of eight consecutive arrows, I score 70 or higher on standard 40cm targets, where the innermost circle is the 10pt-ring. If I focus on aiming and getting a "correct" shot, I score an average of 50 for the same eight arrows. Conclusion? I need to trust my instincts more and let them do things for me. Incidentally, this has been serving me well in exams, especially in Institutions, where I pretty much wrote out my three essays in half an hour on varying economic discussions, and got a 97% on the exam.

A large amount of stuff I found in my room is going to be sold over the next week or so, as I am badly in need of money and I have no need for it. I have been taking pictures of all the items and will be putting together a webpage for the listing at my paid hosting as I am not allowed to use the MTU network or resources for commercial reasons.

I am currently thinking about ways to get my Sea Snark sailboat up here after spring break, but I am not coming up with any ways to do it reasonably. This is sad, because I really want to have some access to sailing, but the Sailing Club at MTU wants $100/sem dues, and I really do not have that kind of money.

Some happy news--I think I may have finally broken myself of the habit of nail-biting. I hope.

Some more interesting news--as soon as I have a deadline, I intend to sign up to perform a piece in the MTU Drag Show at the end of Pride Week. I have a few people helping me assemble an outfit, and it should be fun, and possibly generate some money as well. For those interested, I will be performing a song called "Forever Young", which is a song written by a British band called Alphaville, but the cover I will be lip-synching to is performed by a female vocalist, and is generally mistakingly attributed to the band Groove Coverage. However, I do not currently know who actually performed this cover, as the PR office for Groove Coverage denies that the group ever sang it.

Classes are going well, and various people around me are joining into happy couples. Now if only I could find someone, I would not have to celebrate Single's Awareness Day two weeks into every February...Oh, well, "Being single is not the same as being alone."

Ben, Krista, Rusty, and I finished watching the episodes of Eureka to date, and have started on Firefly, which Ben, Rusty, and I have seen, and Krista has seen one or two episodes of. It is an awesome little series, and it makes me mad at FOX every time I get to the end of the series and remember that FOX is responsible for killing what is quite possibly the most awesome science-fiction series ever created.

I need to repair my backpack, as one of the straps is pulling out of the lower corner to which it is attached.

I also am thinking about going through my personal possessions and removing, obscuring, or altering any and all logos I find--the theory is, I paid for (or had purchased for me) these items, and I do not want to be paying to advertise the shitty brand names that feel it necessary to slather their products with garish logos. I AM NOT A CONSUMER WHORE! Unless, of course, these companies deem it worthy to pay me to advertise their noble brands. Then, and only then, will I permit logos on my stuff. (Hey, sponsorship works for FIRST teams, why not a single person?)

I am pretty sure my plant has now recovered from its boarding and transport over break. It had a bit of a rough time coming back, because Marcus' car decided it was not going to go up the hill near McNair, so we walked our stuff from Lot 10 to McNair in -20C weather. It is once again a happy plant, and enjoying the new room layout quite a lot.

There have been a rash of people recently asking me why I still have such long hair. What? I like my hair. MINE. You no can has.

I tried to give blood when the drive was going on on campus, but I have apparently inherited my dad's excessively low blood pressure. Either that, or I was comatose that day.

I have gotten into a mindset where I see problems (testing arrows to see how straight their flight) and immediately start drafting up images and CAD drawings of mechanisms to solve them (string release on a sliding arm, C-clamp-like holder for box, rotating "fingers" to place arrow and set the nock), as well as code and likely test scenarios to run it all (pages of text, or sometimes LabVIEW code, floating in my mind like leaves on a river). It is kind of interesting. It may have something to do with FIRST, and may also have something to do with my ongoing projects to automate parts of my room and to help a guy build, from crap we found in his room, a rapid-fire NERF machine gun. It also probably stems from Firefly.

One reason I love the CSLC is presented in a case study, as follows:


Krista and Alicia's room


Krista, Rusty, Ben, Kenny, Matt, me


Ben: "You guys need a media streaming computer."


Krista: "Yeah, that would be cool."
Kenny: "I got keyboard and mouse."
Rusty: "I got mobo, GPU, and RAM."
me: "I got PSU, cables, and drives."
Matt: "I got extra 24" widescreen monitor."

30 Minutes Later

me: "OK, Ubuntu install is asking for a hostname, what do you think?"
Krista: "kokopeli, Native American trickster spirit."


Media computer built and installed from disparate components within half an hour of the decision to make it, pinned to a corkboard for want of a case (and to be more geekily awesome and open-air cooled).

This is why we love it here.

Digital Paranoia

There has been a large, widespread attack on SSH servers and Windows services across campus the last 12 days, which has claimed at least five known computers. LUG has been maintaining somewhere between 10,000 and 300,000 banned IP addresses under fail2ban's default 10-minute timeout over the last few days.

As a result of this, though it is coming primarily from the 205.* range (I.E., off-campus), IT services has been cracking down on people left and right in areas that have never been looked at before (MTU did not actively monitor traffic within Resnet up until a week or so ago), and as such, media streaming servers, public data stores, and other things that many people in the CSLC are accustomed to running are being targeted in a large way. Several have been taken down permanently already.

The long and short of this is that, while frondeur will be going back up this evening, I do not know whether it will stay up. Only time will tell.


So, according to various sources, we are supposed to be getting 18-25 inches of powder by 1900 this evening, with peak snowfall rates of 5 inches and hour at times. My enterprise is talking about canceling our meeting this evening because the kids are coming in from all over Houghton County, some from as far as Baraga.

In other news, frondeur should be back up this evening. After investigative surgery last night, it was determined that the cause of non-booting was the lack of power being given to the OS disk, which apparently does not run on the power of imagination. Of course, I do still need to set up firewall rules on vesta to pass data through to frondeur, but that should not be too big an issue.

In other other news, I think I picked up something from one of the high schoolers...felt crappy enough this morning to skip Formal Models, but am feeling much better now.

Life Is Good

I have to stay up tonight, because my sleep schedule has been wicked off (I lie awake in bed for hours, usually until 02:00 or so, only to naturally awaken at 0600 or so...), and I have found that an all-nighter is sufficient to reset my circadian rhythm such that regular sleep works again. Besides, a single night's missed sleep is not only tolerable but frequently seems to enhance my absorption of information.

The irregular sleep notwithstanding, life has been very good thus far this semester. My professors are personable, likable people who are good at their jobs, my classes are full of friends and acquaintances, I have devoted well over 90% of my fullest attention to the class (rather than other distractions which one can so easily find on a laptop that is ostensibly for taking notes) in every class, and my book bill has come in well under $300 for the first semester I can remember, from the Campus Bookstore no less!

Rusty made the mention after lunch yesterday that we (he and Krista and I) head over to the seventh floor of the EERC, where the main office for CECN is, to see if they were discarding anything. As it turns out, they were in fact doing just that, in great volume to boot. I ended up harvesting four PSUs, mostly 200-350W Antecs, four motherboards with PIVs and some DDR RAM, two ATi AGP cards with decent chipsets, and some assorted cables for my current rig and the PSUs. I fully intend to sell off most, if not all, of the working parts to help boost my bank account and more than recover the book money I just spent.

FIRST has been going well. I have a five-member programming team, though not all of them have shown up at the same meeting, and, despite the intricacies of the task that 857 has asked of us, I believe that we will deliver a solid base of code within a few weeks. To catch the reader up, the game this year is played with Delrin-coated wheels on a plastic surface specifically selected to have a ridiculously low coefficient of friction with the wheels (and, notably, only with the wheels--shoes have perfectly normal traction), to the extent that µS is but 0.04 and µK is 0.02. This means that, by some rough envelope calculations, the friction force available to a wheel on a 120# robot is roughly 1.2#...which works out to an extremely low maximum controllable acceleration (0.39m/s2). To this end, we have been asked, as well as learning LabVIEW and working with a brand-spanking-new (and AWESOME!) control system, to create an electronic traction control system (ETS), much like that found on many mid-range vehicles these days. After much discussion over the last few days with the programming team, we have determined that this is a feasible goal, especially with the addition of an additional control one of the other mentors came up with, affectionately dubbed the "Aaron Drive".

The Aaron Drive is composed of three to four 1.5" diameter PVC tubes, roughly 12-24" long, with a 1" stroke, 1.5" bore pneumatic piston in the bottom of each. Upon this piston's shaft rests an 8-10# mass, likely lead or steel. The operation of this system is rather simple in theory, and is shown graphically by a spreadsheet based on approximate numbers:

  1. One of the cylinders is extended by a blast of 60psi air, propelling the mass upwards several inches and creating an additional 110# of normal force (which is intimately related to friction as you may remember from physics) on the robot chassis for a brief instant. (ENHANCEMENT ONE)

  2. The mass enters freefall conditions, traveling upwards, and thus is no longer acting on the robot at all, thus causing a loss in normal force. (DEAD ZONE ONE)

  3. The mass hits apogee and begins to descend, accelerating due to gravity but not quite in a freefall due to sidewall friction, thus increasing normal force very slightly. (DEAD ZONE TWO)

  4. The mass hits the cylinder shaft, which has been vented on both sides, causing a (relatively) gradual conversion of kinetic energy into normal force. (ENHANCEMENT TWO)

  5. Other cylinders are fired to try to place Enhancements in the middle of Dead Zones, to bring an average increase in normal force, and thus an increase in control, however slight.

With the Aaron Drive, if it is legal, we would be able to give the ETS one more way to apply corrections to the robot's movements to more closely mimic the actual requested accelerations from the driver or autonomous code.

To summarize, life is good right now, and I hope to put last semester's mistakes firmly behind me and walk with my chin up and a lightness in my step, and get myself back on track.


So...found this interesting little program called Optar the other day. It is designed to print data--at a rate of 200kB per page--to paper in a manner easily recovered into the computer. I played with it a bit this evening, and here are the results:

Read more…


I was poking about the archives I have of old documents in search of an interpretation I did a while back of a song. Though I did not successfully locate this interpretation, I did find a few poetic gems hidden amongst my old schoolwork, which I thought I might share here.

I am, I said 2004-04-07

I am the wind in the sails of a boat
I am the boat itself.
I am the smell of a chicken on the grill
I am the smell of the charcoal.
I am the old canvas walls of the tents in the basement
I am the new nylon ones as well.
I am the Golden Oldies playing on the radios
I am the computer recording them.
I am the Lego towers built in the rooms
I am the robotic brain of the car running 'round them.
I am the backpacks full of homework and projects
I am the pencils sacrificed on the homework.
I am the multi-ethnic blood coursing through my veins
I am Italian, German, Indian, AMERICAN.
I am the electrical experiments in the room
I am the magnetism destroying analog recordings near the experiments.
I am a small house on a street in an annex of a city in which we didn't want to pay taxes
I am the memories of the house and its problems and successes.
I am a family, scattered 'cross the country
I am a family strong, loving despite distance.
I am a Meyer
And you have not heard the half of it," I said.

Spirit 2004-04-09

I, too, sing "America, America," droning a drowsy syncopated tune.
I sing of a city’s sights and sounds, her smells, her crowd, her throbbing force.
I sing of knowing rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
I sing of flinging my arms wide in some place of the sun, and of whirling and dancing until the oppressive day is done.
I sing of climbing on, reaching landings, and turning corners on life’s squalid stair.
I sing of the merely-human's denial of a spirit, no longer beast, but saint.
I sing of names and mug shots, a drunk's unplanned automotive murder.
I sing of a young black stereotyped male who scares passers-by chickenshit, just standing on the street, just looking as they pass by.
I sing of a history with bitter, twisted lies.
I sing of sorrow which pierces to the marrow, through the fat, and past the bone.
I sing of rising from oppression.
I sing of death: being pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back.
I sing of children, gleaning in fields they have not sown.
I also sing of children, wanting joy of undeep and unabiding things.
I sing "America, America," we continue to rise.
Enemies of US: Give up! Our spirit, our song is too powerful to be overcome!

Mirror 2004-05-04

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Which is the finest country of them all?
Is it US,
Who "keep the peace" without a fuss?

No, no, I think not.
You're in a war, with all of the problems that's got.
I see not one country on this planet, not one at all,
That can take the heat when the world falls.

Surely that cannot be true
After all, here we wave the red, white, and blue.
We act as a good nation should,
Keeping the peace, doing some good.

Good, what good?
I see death and destruction, no good at all.
As for the colors, they have now death's ugly pall.
A war that no one asked for, but one president...

Well, which do you say is the best of them all?

Revolution No. X 2004-05-11

Well, we still want a revolution, some of us at least.
We want to change the world,
But we're unsure of where to start.
Some still talk about destruction, some carry it out.
Some people think that they have that "real solution,"
But it's not realistic at all.
They still ask for contributions for minds that hate,
But they still have to wait.
Some are changing the Constitution.
Some still cry "INSTITUTION!"
Most don't make it with anyone anyhow anyway.
Chairman Mao is now
Replaced with Saddam Hussein.
Communists replaced with Islamic fanatical terrorists.
Our minds have yet to be freed,
But we're doing the best we can.
And it still is going to be all right.

Presented in order of creation, edits done only to change original formatting to HTML.

Small Animals!

So, the CSLC decided to go to the Copper Country Humane Society and volunteer our services in helping walk dogs, entertain cats, and other things which we ran out of time for.

  • An indication of just how many cats there were there, in the open-play area.
  • A funny little cat centered himself perfectly on his tower, eight feet off the floor.
  • A cat who decided that the washing stand was a good place to get water--would drink until water was shut off, resume drinking the instant the water continued.
  • Micah, one of the RAs of the CSLC, sleeping and being slept upon.
  • Steve apparently is a kitten magnet. There were more than two on him, but my cellphone was misbehaving and would not take a picture until several jumped down.
    So now I have had my reintroduction to small furry animals, so I am better prepared for my return home to our two cats.



November 19 2008, 05:25:03

You played with the wrong set of animals!

November 19 2008, 05:36:48 a really big picture. I did mention we walked dogs? I ended up with one that was too large for me to walk safely while taking pictures, so no pictures of that.

November 19 2008, 05:38:42

Blame mary's iphone. Its a husky mutt named Jake at CCHS that she was trying to get me to adopt.

Someone beat me to it :(

November 19 2008, 05:40:51

I remember hearing about Jake.

Oh, well.

November 20 2008, 01:23:44

Was his name Jonah?

November 20 2008, 18:40:42

No, Baxter. Someone else walked Jonah.

Happiness and Stuffs!

Well, it has been a long time since I felt this userpic was apropos to the post, but tonight it is. I am feeling pretty damned good about things right now. Not everything is working out, and a fair amount of stuff is going pretty shittily as of late, but I have transcended that for now and things are looking decent currently.

WHSA is looking for a new soundboard, as our current one is kind of broken for a number of reasons. We have a decent budget for it, and so I have offered my recommendations for an audio rack of equip, totaling around a grand or so. It is fun spending lots of someone else's money on shiny new toys to play with!

Speaking of which, we (the CSLC) just got a bunch of new stuff too. We bought a BenQ 720p projector, a GreyWolf II glass-bead-surface projection screen, and a Philips HD DVD player, which plays DivX-encoded AVI files from a flash drive and will upscale DVDs and AVIs to 720p or 1080p. Future purchase plans are in the works for a Logitech z5500 speaker system. Has been much fun so far, playing games and watching movies with friends in the kitchenette on the new stuff.

As to friends, well, Marcus got his Chrysler Snorunner up and running, and we went down to the Portage and rode it for a while on the old railroad grade. I am afraid I took a bit of a roll off it at some speed, but Marcus' helmet and plenty of winter clothing spared me from more than a bruised left elbow and inside right thigh. Much fun anyway, though.

We have snow, if the last paragraph did not give that away. Not much, but it is starting to look like Houghton again. Never quite feels right unless it is white. I intend to head over to Downwind and have them do some maintenance to my bike that I am not able to; namely, true up both of my wheels (or tell me there is no hope and I just need new wheels, at which point I may be thinking about a new bike. After all, the old girl has got well over 750 miles on her, and things are all falling apart in general) and possibly fix my rear brake's sticking (likely a cable issue).

Some discussion has arisen recently regarding next year's living situation. I cannot, in good conscience, continue paying well upwards of $3 000 a semester for room and board, when the same can be had for less than half that elsewhere. I have two options on the plate right now:

  1. Rent out Dark and Mary's old house with five or six friends, works out to roughly 200/mo, give or take, not including food.

  2. Became an RA for the CSLC, works out to free room and board, with some pay on top.

On the one hand, I really like the house idea for a number of reasons, and the RA position is far from sure and a fair amount of extra work. On the other hand, the RA position is considerably more lucrative, and I would enjoy it, though it does not seem as such some days right now. On the gripping hand, I really have no idea what I actually want to do. I have some time yet, anyway, so there is no real hurry for a while.

One last thing--I highly recommend Stephen King's The Green Mile (the book, not the movie, though I have heard the movie is good too).

Good night, my friends, and peace to you all.


November 13 2008, 16:21:49

Isn't Marcus moving out next semester? I think he's moving in with us.

November 13 2008, 20:07:32

That is his thought, but I cannot see how he thinks he is going to get out of the first-year housing contract.

Paranoia and Industrial Espionage

I have recently (yesterday) taken a project for work. It looks like it will be an interesting project, but that is all I can say about it. The reason that is all I can say is that I am under the mother of all NDAs, because the people my company is working with are crazy paranoid.

In order to work on this project, I have had to swear to maintain a secure working environment at all times, consisting of:

  • Either shutting down my laptop with a minimum 15-character BIOS password or locking it in Windows with a minimum 80-character password if I am not actively developing.

  • Locking my room at all times, when I am developing or when I am not in the room.

  • No one can be in the room at the same time as I am developing.

  • The directory where the files are must be encrypted using a passphrase with a minimum of 1024 bits of entropy (the English language has 1.0-1.5 bits of entropy per letter...)

  • The VoIP conferences I have had thus far to our partners on this and my own company regarding the project have been carried out by a custom app that encrypts the data stream with a 4096-bit encryption key.

  • The development computer cannot be, at any time while in the development OS, connected to any network of any kind, unless a special "firewall" is running which essentially asks our partners about the security of, from what I can tell, every packet.

  • Any files I not longer am using, be they source code, compiled files, or even little scratch notes must be shredded with a program from a very specific list of programs approved by our partners, minimum 7 passes, recommended 25, with at least four passes being random data, and the rest being zeroes.

  • Any paper documents I produce are expressly forbidden, but must be shredded with a specific list of shredders and then either incinerated or ground into pulp (my contact at our partners recommended using a blender or smoothie maker) and flushed.

  • Whiteboards have their own separate mention in the security document, which involves using paper towels and isopropyl alcohol to erase the board every five minutes, with the paper towels being required to be ground to pulp.

  • Wireless keyboards are banned for purposes of development and entering keys and passphrases.

  • DVI cables are banned for purposes of development.

  • I need to run a white-noise generator on my laptop to drown out any keystroke noise I make.

  • I had to generate a 4096-bit PGP key for my work email, and all messages regarding the project must be encrypted and signed. The key itself must be destroyed after this project is over.

  • Violations of this NDA carry a recommended $500,000 fine and a recommended 15-year jail term, and the NDA has a 75-year expiry date, no matter what happens to either of the two companies, unless the NDA is specifically lifted by our partners.

I am a little weirded out by all of this...I mean, I have been called paranoid before, but these people make me look like a little kid, trusting the nice stranger on the street with candy. I feel like I should be wearing a tin foil hat and winding a Faraday cage around my room. The security aspects of this project are taking significantly longer than the actual dev work, and I almost regret telling my boss I would help him with this, except that is by far the coolest project I have ever worked on.

In other news, I registered for (almost) all my courses for next semester last night. The one exception is Diff. Eq., which I want to take the half-semester course. However, Banweb refuses to allow me to take that unless I also take the half-semester Lin. Alg. course, for which I already have credit. This issue has already been sent to my advisor.


November 7 2008, 23:03:14

For the opposite end of the security spectrum today, I directed a copy of all the network traffic at the office I work at to my dev box so I could sniff it.