Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Magic Window

Other than Nefarious’s birthday party (the one with her school friends, not the family one that we had on her actual birthday), I’m not sure what else the weekend contains. Nefarious wants me to take her to see Furry Vengeance, a movie in which comical animals (as live-action “actors”) beat up on Brendan Frasier to stop a building development — she’s been dying to see it since seeing the trailer, but I think I’ll wait until a weekday. Going after school is actually much nicer because the theatre isn’t over-flowing. I think I’m more inclined to go eat ice cream at the park, maybe bring my Kindle along and read for a while.

Anyway, animation time. As always, this was made in the free/open-source/shareware simple 2D animation tool Pencil (also using this tool for video to image series, and this tool for image sequence to video conversions, both free again). Music is by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones (Those Memories of You, which adds a layer of unintended but not unappreciated sentimentality).

Oh, moderators…

As you may remember, I have sort of a love/hate relationship with BoingBoing, that’s currently more on the “hate” end of the spectrum since they booted me off for saying negative things about the Muslim treatment of women in regards to the “beautiful cultural ritual” of forcing them to cover up. Anyway, there’s a funny conversation going on about Rob Cockerham’s Costco prank to see who’s got a bigger stick up their butt, the staff of BoingBoing or the forum commentors thereof. You may be surprised to hear that today it’s the commentors that seem to be winning.

Anyway, it’s been my observation that BoingBoing is far more guilty of disturbing Big Brother-esque editing and deleting comments in order to push their agenda, abusing their power (and the trust that the public still has for them, even if it declines daily) to manipulate perceived reality (which is ironic given their claimed plotics) — and that ignores the whole issue of “publicly shaming” those they disagree with by “disemvowelling” their posts — than the various organizations that they accuse of committing similar Internet Age sins. Holy glass houses! Anyway, as I pressed reload on this page to look at new comments, I was also watching comments appear and disappear as the moderators abused their power. This has happened too many times to mention, which is not just a sad comment on my Internet addiction, but also on Catholic-clergy-style falls from grace. Some day I really need to get around to writing a bot that monitors BoingBoing for this sort of thing and put together an animation of said abuse… it really would be quite a hilarious way of showing their betrayal of their readers.

Update: The entry ended up having its comment form removed, blocking further free conversation from happening, so in this case they decided to quash conversation completely.

351 Mach 1 (Early) Birthday Greetings

I can not wait to surprise her in an hour or so with a present that I’ve been dying to reveal! If anyone calls and spoils the surprise I am so murdering them, and big-time fingers crossed that she likes it and doesn’t get mad at me for going overboard… But I really love her madly and want to get her something grand that both suits her and shows her I think the whole exciting world of her!


(Edit: This gift is a long time coming!)

Comedic Kicks

So I’m asking Caitlin how she made the sauce in today’s supper (a Greek-ish oven pan sort of half way between lasagna, and backed mac’n'cheese), and she says, “butter, flour, cheese,” and then a small but bold voice at the end of the table eagerly asks…

“You picked flowers today?”

Then some snickering.

Then later I mention that the mother of a friend of Nefarious’s was a Unitarian minister and they were telling me about a friend of theirs is going to be Canada’s first major-denomination ordained transsexual minister, and Nefarious, as if she’s been waiting to say it for weeks, pipes up…

“A minister at the Ministry of Magic?”

And more snickering.

As you can see, punny interjections are her latest joke discovery, which is appropriate, because last time we had Chinese delivery her fortune cookie told her that everyone enjoyed her sense of humor… and that’s definitely true. Luckily I have a guilty pleasure for silly kids jokes. Also in that department of her brain, I think that explains this arrangement of her Barbie dolls that I stumbled upon tonight, which were all set up like this in the hope that they would embarrass me.


Other than that, one of the electronics projects that we built today was a tone generator where the frequency was determined by how well a current was conducted, the better the transmission the lower the pitch. When the current moved through my body, it was very high pitched and constantly changing, whining and sirening through space-war type sounds. Through Nefarious’s body on the other hand, the pitch was a perfectly consistent low hum that she could barely change if she tried. I don’t know if this was due to my size or my skin conductivity due to thickness or dryness, or what, but it was quite amazing how different we were… I think some time I want to rebuild this project and try it out on a wider range of people. I know that my muscles don’t transmit electrical signals properly, but I assume that side-effect has no effect on this circuit.

Tomorrow — I’m 99% sure anyway — I finally pick my Saab Sonnet III up from having its clutch replaced. While it was apart (and it was totally in pieces, with the super-cute diminutive engine out and the front clip removed) there were also some minor performance upgrades made to the car, so I’m quite looking forward to having it back and seeing how it drives! As nice as it has been to be puttering about in a super-efficient and inexpensive borrowed station wagon, I don’t have the same joy driving it as I do a car where I feel like there’s a personality that I can relate to.

Happy days

When I was young I totally loved the 300-in-1 type kits from Radio Shack (and what I’m going to say here is not unique), where they came with a pile of resistors and lights and transistors and capacitors and cables that could be attached together in various configurations to make lots of mini-projects, with the intention of not just amusing but also teaching a hands-on understanding of why circuits are put together the way they are. When I think back to my best toys, these are high on the list, and I still enjoy hardware tinkering and if you’re a regular reader you know I dabble with things like microcontrollers from time to time, and I know that I’m tapping into the same excitement as I had as a kid.

I was really happy to get Nefarious a 300-in-1 kit of the same sort for her birthday, made by “Snap Circuits” who have a horrible website but a wonderful product (as does their parent company, which has even more of each). The parts are clearly labeled and instead of being held together with springs and wire, breadboards, or solder, they all conveniently go together via snaps like on a cowboy’s shirt! In addition to the basics, the kit we got also comes with a few ICs for things like sound effects, which I suppose these days (unlike the seventies) is a part of the “basics”. I was so incredibly overjoyed that this seems to have been her favorite present and we spent an hour or so putting together projects (she did most of the work, not wanting to let me be much more than an assistant in the excitement), so I guess it’s as much fun for her as I remember it being for me.


But anyway, it’s incredibly easy to use, seems to be pretty good quality, has simple to follow instructions that do a clear job of teaching the beginning of electrical engineering. I really have to whole-heartedly recommend this as a gift for kids seven or eight and older — and for kids willing to play with “nerdy” things, I don’t see why this couldn’t be a good present for much older “kids” as well. It’s really a lot of fun. I am 100% sure that this is something I’ll be getting for other kids as well when the opportunity presents itself, and I will probably even sneak some time for myself to fiddle with it solo.

We also went out to see the new Oceans documentary, but half way through she wasn’t in a documentary mood, so, birthday girl getting her wish, we went out and played games in the arcade while Caitlin got to enjoy the end of the movie, which I’m a bit jealous of because the footage I did see was both amazing and touching (my favorite creature being the totally undramatic manatee I think), and we left right after a heart-breaking scene during which murderous birds killed 999 out of a thousand baby sea turtles as they scuttled from their hatching sand hole to the relative safety of the ocean.

Later on, a very heavy chocolate fudge birthday cake (although I swear the “colorflame” photo on TG is faked, because the candle flames looked pretty much normal) that stuffed us all thoroughly, which we ate after watching my favorite modern fairytale, Edward Scissorhands, and I was very happy to see that Nefarious enjoyed it as well. Of course I’ve left out most of the day but I think it was a pretty good day.


In my last post a rude anonymous comment was left (I don’t moderate those, but MKultra*, you were sloppy in your attempt to hide your identity, and it’s sad that you do not have the strength of character to stand behind your words) asking me why my daughter has the name “Nefarious”. I think I’ve answered that question before, but I don’t mind answering it again. First of all, for day-to-day use, she goes by “Ari”, and I expect that when Rachel and I get a chance we’ll take the formal step of adding that to her ID so that she can use it legally. So if in the future she feels uncomfortable about having an unusual name, that decision is hers, so please don’t worry that she has been burdened. I took more than my fair share of teasing for the name “Shannon”, which when I was a kid, was seen as exclusively a girl’s name, so it was highly amusing to those who wanted to torment me. That said, I was always grateful to have what I thought was a special name and I never regretted it and I hope she doesn’t either.

* If you want to keep on being a coward, which might be right for you, try the Tor Browser Bundle. Then you really will be able to say whatever you want without me being able to figure it out!

The deal Rachel and I had was that she got to choose the first name and I got to choose the second (I chose “Freedom”). Rachel somehow got “Nefarious” in her head because it felt impressive to her, and she thought that it would be something that would be epicly sung with trumpet fanfare as she entered the room — the name felt grandiose to her, and that’s what made her chose it. I supported her decision because when I started reading about the word, it turns out that its traditional meaning is something akin to “unafraid to challenge god” — so when people think it means “wicked”, it’s meant in the sense of a pure sense of freedom, and the challenging of authority a la the debate as to whether Lucifer is the real “good guy” and Yahweh is the evil oppressor. So yeah, the name appealed to me on a philosophical level, and summed up the bravery and sense of self determination I hope Ari has (and she knows this meaning as well, and I think it’s a good thing when someone understands why they have the name they do — I know it meant a lot to me as a child), and I supported Rachel’s choice of name.

How my daughter chooses to have people refer to her, and how she thinks of herself, is her choice, and something where she has a wide range of options from the mundane to the unique. But I don’t regret the decision, and as she’s grown into her name — into her names — I feel confident that it was the right decision and I don’t think that Rachel or I have anything to apologize for.