Troubling Window Sticker

Yesterday I was walking into the local Wal-Mart. One truck had a sticker on the back “I belong to the Invisible Empire”. I looked up what that was–it’s the Klan.

I know the Ku Klux Klan has been active in my county in the not too distant past. One of their Grand Dragon’s used to live here. About 20 years ago or so, some kids found a bunch of Klan white hoods and cloaks in a barn.

I guess if you don’t look for the bad, you won’t know it’s around until it’s too late.

I haven’t seen one lately, but when the South Carolina took down their confederate flag, a few people up here made a point of having one flying from the back of their pick-ups–in northeast Indiana.

I even saw one on the motorcycle of someone who came to do some roadside assistance a few months ago. (Yes, roadside assistance on a motorcycle which was unique.) (I didn’t think to report it to the insurance company which would have been proper.)

Arduino fun

an X-ray of my Arduino board

an X-ray of my Arduino board

Last night I started playing with my Arduino that I bought a long time ago. I’m programming it on my second laptop. That system is running Windows XP and off the network so I’m using a good bit of sneaker-net with it.

I installed a few things – Perl, Eclipse, the Arduino suite, the current version of Java, Visual Studio re-distribution kits. Although Java gave a warning, the only thing that refused to install was the Atmel studio. I’m doing Cygwin now…. I don’t know what to do without grep and find…

I also installed “shycis” which is a program that draws a little ripple around the cursor when you click. I like the visual feedback

I don’t really like the laptop. It’s old and the fan is noisy. The benefit is that it was free and I’ve got another desk to set it up on so my hardware mess on the desk doesn’t clutter up the software mess on the other desks.

So, my first program was pretty simple. Flash the Arduino LED at a increasing and decreasing pace. It’s pretty cute. Blinky lights are always nice to see–getting immediate, physical feedback for the code is a little intoxicating. It’s a couple levels beyond regular software development on the “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” scale.

I’m comfortable using wire wrap for semi-permanent prototypes, but also am looking for PCB manufacturers. Four that I know about: Cheap PCB Prototype Manufacturer in China Dirt Cheap Dirty Boards Dangerous Prototypes OSH Park

I don’t have experience with any of these yet so I don’t know which are best.

If you’re interested… here I am on Hackaday

I’ve got one project I’m actively pursuing… The Mars Distance Calculator. Don’t have a good name for it. It’s supposed to keep a dynamic display of how far Mars is from your current location, updated as rapidly as the system can calculate it.

Original image: arduino-placement. By westfw [Image license ]

Recovery Words: Self-Castigation

Self-castigation: attacking oneself with severe criticism, reproof and punishment.

Before recovery, this can be a way of life. The shame of letting your family down again. The regret of losing a job by acting out at work. Everything is your fault and you can’t get out of it.

It seems that the people around you are not as hard on you as you are to myself. You see all the lies and secrets and know how badly you’ve really been doing. The family is ready to forgive you and your friends just hope you’ll get better. You’re out on your own in your own head and that makes it all worse.

After a while, the self-castigation can become as bad as the effects of the substances or not having them when you need them. If you’re so bad that you can’t even control it when you want to, your shame and guilt don’t have an answer. One conclusion is that punishment and criticism are the responses that make sense.

Once this attitude has taken hold, it takes a long time for it to go away. When you make a small mistake, it reminds you of past big ones. You get support from your friends and you’re glad they’re in your corner. It’s almost as if you have a resentment against yourself and can’t let it go.

It was a big relief when this attitude isn’t your first way to respond to your own mistakes. You talk to people who understand you and believe them when they say you’re doing well and that they are glad to see you or hear from you.

When you’re alone, it’s hard to find a balance, but with friends and people who care giving you support, you can get closer to self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance: To be contented with, appreciate and respect oneself.

Finding a piece of history

I was looking at the shelves next to my stereo tonight. Unexpectedly, I found a Mini Disc with some music on it. Of course, I don’t have a mini disc player so I can’t listen it.

Here is a picture. The disc was a promo sent out by Rolling Stone magazine. The copyright on the disc says 1994 so that’s been hiding on the shelf for 21 years without me realizing it! Online resources say that it was released on June 30, 1994. [For example Soul Asylum]

The outside looks like a 1/2 size floppy disc. The disc inside looks like a CD–silver and reflective.

I see people selling it on ebay in the $5 – $10 range.

Pictures of Rolling Stone Mini Disc

The Icosahedron

I’ve been planning to build a tensegrity icosahedron all summer. I’ve got all of the parts prepared and started putting it together today. Here are a couple of work-in-progress photos.

I build one small one several years ago out of thin wire and wooden sticks. This time I’m making something more permanent and bigger with steel pipes and wire ropes.

partially assembled sculpture

Icosahedron I

partially assembled icosahedron

Icosahedron II

Partially assembled Icosahedron

Icosahedron III

The third image is after I discovered that I have the cables tangled up. I’m having to disconnect them three at a time and then make each triangle not cross each other. This last one has 2 of 8 triangles corrected. I’ll make more progress tomorrow.

You can find more pictures: