February 2017

...with a grain of salt

Numerous poorly-sourced stories are making the claim that Team Hillary blames Obama for her loss.

While this is plausible, it not only ignores the toxic effect Obama support has had on other candidates in the past, but if embraced by her supporters has absolutely terrible optics:

She couldn't do it without a man.

Not the message you want your “feminist icons” to be sending, I think…

Good news, bad news...

When I bought my house, there was a Nob Hill grocery 3/4-mile in one direction, and a Home Depot 3/4-mile the other direction. Both are gone; I haven’t kept track of how many different Mexican groceries replaced the Nob Hill, but there isn’t a lot that can take over for a Home Depot, so it took a few years for Walmart to move in.

Home Depot had moved about three miles down the road to a new shopping center that must have involved some juicy graft, since it added massive traffic to a main road while replacing a 45-mph corner with a 15-mph corner that causes so many accidents that they add new safety features almost every year. A few more years and I figure there will be a series of pop-up barriers designed to force drivers to walk their cars through.

Anyway, the empty lettuce field across the street from the Walmart is going to be a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center sometime in the next six months. It’ll probably go up pretty quickly once the rain stops, because, y’know, building supplies. It’s a great location, at a major intersection with no accident-prone turns, and very convenient for me, being 3/4-mile down the road.

Oh, wait. The road that’s been getting backed up quite a bit since they didn’t widen it when all the houses were built 15 years ago, or when the elementary school was built in the middle of a lettuce field, or when all those kids grew up and got cars.

So it was nice to see them slip the road-widening plans into the Lowe’s article. The shopping center will come first and make things worse, of course, but some time after that they’ll add more lanes all the way from there to the Mexican grocery, past my house.

Oh, wait. They’re going to widen the main road by my house in both directions. I guess I’ll be going out the back way to Main St for a while.

Have ya heard of Amazon?

I was browsing through a book on woodworking projects at the store (this one, in fact, apparently available for free to Kindle owners with Prime), and ran across the following paragraph in the tool recommendations:

Choosing a biscuit joiner is going to be limited by what's available at your home center--- most stores will have one or two brands at most. If you're ambitious, you can find a couple more to choose from at a local Sears.

This book was published in 2012. All the diagrams were done in Sketchup. It has its own web site for supplementary material. In the back it lists the URLs of 20 online suppliers, most of whom carry a wider variety of tools than “your home center” or “a local Sears” (if those still exist…). Now, admittedly Amazon’s biscuit joiner category is a bit confusing, given that it somehow includes soil compactors, cabinet legs, Super Mario Brothers magnets, jointers, electrical cover plates, and a CD by Vagon Chicano, but I’m pretty sure most tool-users were aware that Amazon had good prices and selection back in 2012, and the suppliers they did mention in the back included Woodcraft and Rockler, who have been known to sell a tool or two.

Basically, this is a “column compilation” book, and the part on selecting and using tools obviously didn’t get any editing love when they updated it. Hopefully the editor of the brand-new 2016 edition has replaced this and other dusty 20th Century artifacts.

[and, no, I’m not in the market for a biscuit joiner at the moment; it just happened to catch my eye]

Cheesecake: wrench

After last night’s Cheesecake Factory bombing in Pasadena, it seems necessary to fight back with factory cheesecake, or as close as I could get at Gelbooru, wrench wenches!

(and it looks like the as-yet-uncaught perpetrator was either the most inept terrorist of the year or a typical hipster)


Mahjongg girls in 3D

I’d prefer the version played in the AsoIku OVA, but life isn’t fair…

Saki live movie


Dear Cuisinart,

It was great that you had the well-publicized recall notice for your food-processor blades, and it’s nice that you sent me email to let me know you haven’t forgotten about sending out the replacements (and subtly hinting that you had to make way more than you’d expected to…), but the PDF cookbook linked to the email as “a token of our gratitude and appreciation of your ongoing patience” is bullshit.

You say, and I quote, “We put this book together exclusively for those consumers impacted by the recall.” A recall for food-processor blades.

Most of the recipes require one or more of your Electric Fondue Pot, Griddler, Grill and Griddle, Blender with Travel Cup, Hand Blender, Automatic Bread Maker, Multicooker, Spiralizer, Steamer, Waffle Maker, Hand Mixer, or Fruit Scoop™ Frozen Dessert Maker. Oh, and some of them include ingredients that can be prepared in a food processor.

As tokens go, I’m not impressed.

Real-world time travel

For a long time, it’s been said that the Left lives as if it’s still 1968, when civil rights and environmental protection were still in the future, not forty-plus years in the past.

Then Trump got elected, and suddenly it was 1934. Or, for Californians, 1860.

Now, with their masked “agitators” leading riots, and “celebrities” calling for violent revolution and the murder of King Donald, they’ve set the clock all the way back to 1789.

What will be their next stop on the Wayback Machine?

If you're a tech writer...

…looking for part-time work, Carbide3D wants you. The documentation for their CNC machines and accessories is in rather desperate need of some lovin’, and they know it.

Going somewhere?

Amazon Prime Reading has free Kindle editions of what looks to be the entire Lonely Planet series of travel books, current editions.

When the bikini comes off...

I felt a bit sorry for Nanami Matsumoto (松本菜奈実) when I first saw her pictures, because while she’s cute with the right styling, it was very clear that the only reason she had a modeling career was her absurdly large breasts (plausibly claimed to measure a 100cm I-cup), and it wasn’t going to last long. Also, back pain. Three DVDs later, and sure enough, the party is over and a different party has started: her next release is porn , subtitled Ultra-Megaton-Level Loli Big Boobs.

(link NSFW, but with clothed selfies where she’s prettier than in most of her bikini photo shoots; clearly the photographers and editors rarely cared how her face looked)

Note that this is not hypocritical moral condemnation on my part, or an assumption that she’s being victimized by the patriarchy and has no agency in her career choices. I just dislike Japanese porn, and the fact that there no longer seems to be any middle ground between “covers naughty bits” and “roughly gang banged on camera”. As an enthusiastic consumer of products featuring attractive Japanese women, I’d like to see naughty bits and smiles, not domination and tears.

Tool Tips

While the circular saw is a perfectly reasonable rainy-day indoor tool, the random orbit sander is not. Not unless you want to use fine sawdust to locate all the cobwebs in the garage, and convert the “do not close on objects” sensor on the garage door into a “do not close” sensor. My crystal ball suggests that I should put off the rest of the sanding until Saturday morning, when the back yard will be less soggy.

I Can Haz Maths?


A Loooong Four Years...

Y’know, if it weren’t for all the assault and arson, the Left constantly losing their shit over Trump would be adorable.

"Now that Donald Trump is president and approximately half the country lives in a state of heightened terror, the idea of Captain America being a Nazi and infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. will be, for many, simply dispiriting, unsettling, and too close to home to be fun. It’s demoralizing."

"Grandma, what big ears you have..."


You get him used...

“Any fool can get into college. Only a select few can say the same about Amanda Jones Edward Snowden.”

Upskirt: The Game!

It started out innocently. Well, relatively so, anyway. I was looking for a clean copy of the 80s J-pop song “Sailor Fuku o Nugasanaide!” (for reasons that will become obvious if I ever get around to it), and while there are plenty of videos on Youtube, most of them either have terrible audio quality or an announcer talking over part of the song, or both. And none of the versions on US iTunes are useful.

So I ended up on Amazon Japan, where I found a recent CD collection from Onyanko Club that includes the song. But that wasn’t all that turned up in a search for “セーラー服を脱がさないで”…

Upskirt: the game

It’s a concentration game based on memorizing the color of schoolgirl panties. Pick up a girl, look up her skirt, and try to remember which other girl had the same panties. The partial box cover shows it was released by Bandai in 1987, the year that Onyanko Club disbanded, so it may not have sold well. I’ll have to look for it next time I’m at a flea market in Japan, but I insist that I’d only buy it to find out if the figures were hand-painted, because Japan. :-)

Of course, there were a number of adult videos in the search results as well, and for this young lady (NSFW), losing her sailor suit is the least of her problems.

Cheesecake: red hair

Nothing says Valentine like red hair. A fair number with glasses, too, and in the immortal words of Gracie Law, “Oh, that’s an extra to these people. It’s like leather bucket seats, it’s double the price.”

According to a scientific survey of Gelbooru, anime redheads have trouble keeping their clothes on and their orifices unexplored, which may explain some of their personality quirks. I added a few new negative keywords to cut down on the amount of this stuff I had to skip over. Also, fandoms may come and go, but apparently Ranma is eternal.

[Takanashi sisters come first, because Interviews with Monster Girls is awesome]


Dear Dodge,

For your 2017 vehicles, it seems you have renamed Jazz Blue to Contusion Blue. This does not inspire confidence in your safety features, even if it is a nice-looking color.

Spillover Country

The next time someone argues that low-population rural states shouldn’t count as much as densely-populated (ahem) ones, ask if the ~200,000 people evacuated from below the Oroville Dam have been well-represented in Sacramento.

Of course, if they’re the kind of bigot who uses the phrase “voted against their interests” (and yes, everything north of Sacramento is a “red county”), this may not make much of a dent in their worldview, but maybe it will shut them up for a few minutes.

"Wind, blow!"

Soon after I bought my house in Salinas, I had a large, heavy potted plant go flying, because it was near a window, and it can get kind of windy down here. Since all that wind also gives it the cleanest air in California, I generally don’t mind.

Last night and this morning were something that hasn’t happened in the 16 years I’ve lived here. Gusts up to 60 MPH, taking down trees all over the county (including a large one at the end of my street, which admittedly was only planted a few months ago), and since today was trash day in my neighborhood, sending garbage and recyclables everywhere.

Waze estimated at least a 100-minute delay on every feasible route to my office, and when in the afternoon it thought things had cleared up on a back road, it turned out no one had told them about the latest downed tree.

No flooding in my area, at least, but I did lose an 8-foot section of wooden fence that apparently vibrated apart, and my patio umbrella will be the star item in the next visit by Junk King. Its 30-pound base was dragged ten feet before it reached the gravel and fell over, snapping the supports.

Cheesecake: umbrella

In honor of my storm-destroyed patio umbrella…


It's such a great idea...

…that it’s been on the market for at least 10 years.

A few weeks back, Jabrwok mentioned in the comments that he was thinking of making a doweling/loose-tenon jig based on this video. I just watched it (perhaps his most annoyingly-presented video since he rebranded himself), and immediately recognized it as the Rockler Doweling Jig. $20 and better-constructed; wonder why he didn’t mention it…

Parametric Takadai design

There are three basic methods for acquiring a takadai: buy, build, or kludge. They’re sufficiently uncommon that the only US retailer has an 18-month waiting list, and the two widely-available construction plans (Owen and Franklin) are for small, portable units. I have both plans, and I don’t like either one. Why not?

"The opening between the lower rails was designed so that a braider with a shoulder width of approximately 15.50 inches is able to work without leaning forward or pulling in the elbows, so that back strain is minimized." --- Carol Franklin

Franklin’s design puts the space between the rails at 18 inches, Owen’s at a bit over 16. My ribcage is 18 inches wide, so using one of these designs as-is would be like flying coach in the middle seat between two football players. It’s not gonna fly.

The two “standard” sizes available in Japan have roughly 22 and 28-inch openings, but they’re designed with a built-in kneeling platform, not a comfortable position for most Westerners. They’re also pretty darn big, with the largest one measuring 110x100cm (43.3x39.4 inches).

I don’t want to spend $650 and wait a year and a half for what is admittedly a piece of fine furniture, but I also don’t want to fly coach, so it’s time to design my own. I learned a lot from the kludged-together Bakadai, and since I can’t use the Owen/Franklin plans directly, I’m free to question every detail of construction. I’m working in OpenSCAD to make the numbers easy to tweak, and my current design (pictured above) is here.


Welcome to Earth!

Too self-aware to be real, most likely, but still fun:

Protest karma


Time or Money?

When you start thinking that 60-grit sandpaper isn’t coarse enough, maybe that hand plane wasn’t such a bargain after all.

Seriously, I can understand not factory-polishing the sole until it’s mirror-bright, but when you don’t even machine it to be vaguely flat near the mouth, I think you’ve cut costs just a bit too much.

[Update: after more than half an hour (plus cooling time) on the belt sander with an 80-grit belt, it’s almost completely flat. Unfortunately, the last of the deep factory-supplied scratches are just in front of the mouth, so it needs a little more work. So, yeah, cheap planes are no bargain; the Chinese manufacturer put a brushed finish on the sole to hide their poor machining.

Also, while I’m on the subject, Spyderco’s ceramic bench stones aren’t even close to flat. I bought them a long time ago and was never really satisfied with the results, but I’d just assumed that they shipped in decent condition. Nope; I pulled them out while I was working on the plane, checked for daylight with my engineer’s square, and started lapping them on a DMT Extra-Coarse diamond stone. It takes a lot of work to clean them up.]

Dear Amazon,

W. T. F? And I do mean F.

I want to stress that this recommendation is not based on any previous purchases made by or for me. I didn’t even know Amazon US sold those.

(NSFW screenshot after the jump)


Après le déluge, nous

California drought map, one year ago:

This week:


Cheesecake Champloo 2

I thought “amazon” would be a good keyword to try, but it’s 70% Wonder Woman, 20% One Piece, 4% Dragon’s Crown, and 80% porn. So it’s time for another trip through the leftovers folder.


Tentative Takadai design

Between crude sketches, OpenSCAD, and playing with scrap wood, I think I’ve nailed down (so to speak…) the way I’m going to connect my parametric Takadai together.

  1. Instead of connecting the inner and outer arms (gedan/jōdan) with a small arm attached to the legs at one point, I'm using wedges cut from a 1x6. This is actually the "traditional" method in Japan.
  2. To stabilize it front-to-back, I used 1x6 stretchers a few inches above the ground. I can't put them at the top like table aprons, because the bobbins would constantly bang into them.
  3. To stabilize it side to side, I replaced the rear crossbar with a 1x6, which means the rear "wedges" are part of a solid board attached to both legs.
  4. That makes the biggest, most visible change possible: the torii and makitori-bō are now firmly attached to the frame by 1x6s. They can stand up to any amount of weighted bobbins, and the finished braid collects in an easy-to-reach location.
  5. Even better, that provides a perfect spot for the ratchet and pawl, replacing the chopstick brake on the makitori-bō.
  6. That rear 1x6 also made it possible to lower the hyojun-bō so that it doesn't sit on top of the gedan like an afterthought, and completely eliminate the sword pads. With a 1x6 back there, I can just cut out pads on each side and round them off.

Next up, building a tabletop version with 5/8-inch square dowels and 0.5x3-inch hobby boards. To keep it compact, it will only support 4 small koma on each arm; that’s enough for quite a few types of braid.

For simplicity, the tabletop Chibidai will be held together by wood screws, but for the full-sized unit I’ve got a bag of cross dowels from McMaster-Carr. I’ll use the Nomad to CNC-carve my comb-style koma and the ratchet.

[Update: I made the OpenSCAD script dump the cut list; obviously I’ll be rounding off a bit…]

8x hardwood balusters, 1.25x1.25:
4x legs, 26 inches
2x gedan, 27.8523 inches, mizo starts at 7.70228 inches
2x jodan, 32.0706 inches, mizo starts at 9.67062 inches
7x hardwood boards, 0.75x5.5:
1x back board with wedge cuts, 34.75 inches
2x stretchers, 25.3523 inches (gedan - 2x baluster)
2x torii/makitori supports, 11.5 inches
2x front wedges, 7 inches
2x 1-inch dowels, 8 inches
1x 0.5-inch dowel, 22 inches
22x koma, 3.5 inches
1x gravity ratchet with pawl

"It's not a cloud..."

“​…it’s just someone else’s computer.”

In case you were wondering where my site’s been all morning, Amazon S3 flaked out all over the US, and I host all the images and a few key bits of Javascript there.

I’ve moved the Javascript temporarily, so at least the page loads, but pictures won’t show up until S3 is back online.

[Update: it’s back for read access, so my pictures are online again, but apparently they’re still working on the write functionality, which must be painful for the many services that rely on S3. I don’t need writes unless I’m uploading new pictures, so I’m good. Amusingly, one key item that was broken all morning was Amazon’s service status page. Because it’s hosted on S3. Someone had to make some manual edits just to provide basic info about the problem.]

Gevalia vs Starbucks

My preferred form of coffee is best described as “liquid pie”. That is, a sweet hot creamy beverage with a mild coffee flavor. Gevalia’s Mocha Latte k-cup with “froth packets” is perfect for this, once I’ve added two Mini-Moos and two or three Splendas. When I stir it all together before hitting the go-button on the Keurig, it looks and smells exactly like cupcake batter.

Suddenly, Safeway stopped carrying this. Coincidentally, Starbucks (which has a mini-store in every Safeway around here), has recently released their own direct competitor.

Since it was there and the Gevalia wasn’t, I tried it. Despite having twice as much sugar and twice as many calories, it wasn’t sweet, or creamy. In fact, it tasted exactly like cheap, gritty dark chocolate powder mixed with burned coffee. Which it is.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”