Archive for December, 2005

UBC Botanical Garden’s Photo Of The Day

Friday, December 30th, 2005
Wet Lantana Blossom

UBC Botanical Garden’s Photo of the Day site selected selected this photo as the photo of the day for 12/29/2005.

Cool! Thank you!

Cyclone: Before & After Cleaning

Thursday, December 29th, 2005
Before Cleaning
After Cleaning

Tonight, I finished off cleaning the lower left quadrant of the playfield. My hands are sore from all the scrubbing.

Pictured on the left is the area around the flipper prior to the cleaning. On the right is the same area after a thorough cleaning.

Quite a difference. Next up is the upper left portion of the playfield. This includes the ferris wheel and a lot of hidden lamps that have been burned out for ages.

Daniel Jalkut commented It’s amazing how dirty something sealed in glass can get! I guess most of that grime is probably originated from within the machine itself?

Flipper Mechanism

A lot of the dirt is sourced from the machine itself. If you look at the high resolution original of the image at left, you can see just how grimy that (originally) white piece of plastic has become.
Read the rest of this entry »

Happiness is a Box of Screws

Thursday, December 29th, 2005
Box Of Screws

When I was growing up, we had a neighbor who was quite mechanically inclined. If he didn’t have a lawnmower disassembled and strewn across his shop, then his car hood was up and the engine was in parts.

He had a most impressive coffee can — one of the really large ones — that was completely full of random screws, nuts, bolts, washers, and other random fasteners. And he used it often. At the time, I couldn’t understand how taking something apart and putting it back together with no modification beyond cleaning might require additional fasteners.

Box Of Screws 2

In the intervening 25 years, I have reassembled my share of computers, mowers, pinball machines, and other random bits of hardware. It always seems that some random screw is either lost, missing, or simply needs to be replaced.

Whereas my neighbor collected his fasteners over 50+ years of collecting parts wherever he might find them, I took a short cut. I bought 4 scoops ($2) of random fasteners from Weird Stuff. And I have already used a half dozen parts in the 4 hours of pinball maintenance I did today.

I think I’ll get more. Can’t have enough random fasteners.

And the photos make for some really nice desktop images.

I have already used a half dozen of these to replace various random stripped, destroyed, or lost screws from the Cyclone.

Cyclone Cleaning Part One

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005
Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 2.jpg

I put in an order for a set of rubber rings for the Cyclone pinball machine with Bay Area Amusements. As it turns out, their warehouse is less than 2 miles from my house and, as such, I scheduled a pick up instead of paying for shipping. I also ordered a playfield cleaner because, as will be shown in some of the following pictures, the machine is in desperate need of a real cleaning.

I’m really enjoying working on the machine in my workshop. Previously, I have maintained machines in poorly lit areas or in skank-hole bars smoky bars with blaring music and lots of drinks. Having plenty of light and a controlled environment is a welcome change. Though, in truth, I certainly miss maintaining the Creature in the Village Idiot in NYC.

When tearing into a machine for the purposes of restoration, you first focus on getting the machine to boot, making it work to the point where you can put a ball in play and something remotely sensible happens, repair anything obviously broken and then cleaning it up and bringing it as close to perfection as you can.

Lower Left Playfield Cleaning First Edition 1.jpg

For the Cyclone, it already boots and can “play” a game in that the ball can be put into play and the flippers do something. So, I’m up to the repair and clean up phase.
Read the rest of this entry »

Janis & Christmas

Sunday, December 25th, 2005
Janis Getting Into Christmas

On Christmas, if Janis doesn’t get a gift while everyone else is opening their presents, she will make herself as flat as possible (“pancake puppy mode”) and sigh loudly and regularly. Now we make sure that she is given a gift near the beginning of the whole present event. This year, we got her a bunch of toys and snacks and put them all in a really big Scooby Doo gift bag.

Janis Getting Into Christmas

As you can see, Janis quite literally got into her gift while exploring everything she received.

Janis Getting Into Christmas

All in all, she seems quite please with her gifts. Beyond that breath freshening bone, she also received a bunch of tennis balls, a couple of frisbees (at 10 years and way overweight, she still goes airborne for a frisbee), and some chew toys.

10 Years (Best Dinner Ever)

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

Christine and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this evening. 10 very intense and chaotic years; ups, downs, sideways and inside out. Couldn’t imagine a better person to spend it with.

Via, I scored a reservation at Manresa.

We opted for the Tasting Menu paired with appropriate wines. Given the quality of the restaurant and the head chef, we figured that leaving ourselves at the whim of the restaurant was the way to go.

And, boy, was it ever!

The meal started with a six or eight course “muse” menu. Little dishes that were designed to “wake” the taste buds. It started with an olive paste cookie and red pepper jelly followed by a series of intensely different and flavorful light dishes. Lots of emphasis on foams and foie-gras. My favorite was likely a cube shaped pastry containing warm liquified foie-gras.
Read the rest of this entry »

Janis Joplin

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005
Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin wishes everyone a most excellent holiday and a happy new year. She will be 10 years old on January 2nd.

Best Dog Ever.

Microsoft Word Ate A Bit Of My Soul

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

I’m expanding the Design Rants to include crappy software design.

First up? Microsoft Word.

Now, it may come as a surprise that I actually like Word. Or, at least, I did like word way back on my Mac Plus in 1986 or so. And I find Word 2004 to be a tolerable enough word processor once you turn off enough features.

Almost. I still can’t fathom how a piece of software can consume more CPU cycles when hidden then when its windows are simply shoved to the back. That, at least, seems to be mostly fixed. Or maybe it is because I turned off the live word count feature which seems to recount words perpetually, even when the app is hidden.

No. That isn’t what motivated this particular post.
Read the rest of this entry »

More fun with light.

Monday, December 12th, 2005
LED Reflection

Ben Holt and I did a bit of late night playing with my camera. I liked this picture. The reflection is off of the platter of a hard dive.

RIP: Richard Pryor (1940 – 2005)

Saturday, December 10th, 2005

Richard Pryor passed away at his home in California sometime last night.

That is sad. Not only an incredible comic, Richard paved the way for many an up and coming comedian in the 70s and 80s.

He will be missed.

Which reminds me, I really need to order a copy of Harlem Nights. Brilliant flick. Hilarious, well written, and a magnificent cast.