Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006, Hello 2007

Well today was a very rainy day so not much was done outside. I was out shopping and I saw the sun come out late in the day which means possible rainbow.

While driving about 10 minutes later I started seeing a vertical line in the eastern sky with a color spectrum. It was not much of an arc since the water in the atmosphere must have been raining in that small section of sky.

So long 2006 may things get better in 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Gift

My nephew was given a Slinky as a gift. It is a great fun for being a toy that is over 60 years old. It is still made in Hollidaysburg, PA. MIT has highlighted the inventor at this website.

The company has a website at :

We enjoyed trying to get it going down the stairs.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Ahhh, Christmas is here at last. The weather in Louisville is cold (30-40s F) with a chance of snow later today which might end up being rain.

A few things I try to do each Christmas besides spend a lot of time with family and attend religious services is read the story "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. I have a book with 4 of his stories published by Gramercy Press in 1982. I keep the ribbon on page 531 to mark where the Christmas Carol begins. Surprisingly, it is a somewhat short story ending on page 585.

I also try to watch a version of Christmas Carol on DVD. There are three that I have: Scrooge from 1951 starring Alastair Sim, A Christmas Carol from 1984 starring George C. Scott, and A Christmas Carol from 1999 starring Patrick Stewart.

We also try to watch Bill Murray in Scrooged who has some great lines in the comedy adaptation.

I also try to watch It's A Wonderful Life.

I wish everyone a happy Christmas and a safe new year. As Tiny Tim says at the end, "God Bless Us, Every One!"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

USB Gadgets

Reading the Pursuits section of the Wall Street Journal for December 23, page P2 showed some USB gadgets. Three items were profiled and of those I have a version of one: USB Microscope QX5. I have the one developed by Intel when they were making educational toys. It is a great product even if it is packaged like a toy. I have posted some microscope pictures taken with it on earlier blog posts.

The gadget that caught me eye though was the USB missile launcher from It reminds me of a Hawk anti-aircraft missile battery used by the military. Apparently, you can use the computer to aim the battery and fire it. I guess if someone enters your work area, you can unleash a foam missile barrage to drive them off.

I went to the Think Geek website and they also have the USB rocket launcher which has larger range than the missle launcher and the laser guided missile launcher to help improve targeting accuracy. What an arms race they have going!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Painting Journalist

Today's Courier Journal had an interesting article about an Louisville artist, Ashley Cecil. She goes to community events and takes pictures or a sketch pad. After recording the event, she paints it and then sells it. When she sells it, she donates part of money to an organization (e.g. paints a scene from Habitat for Humanity (HFH) event and then donates money to HFH).

Check our her website which explains this much better.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Emergency Supplies for Car Revisited

Today's Louisville Courier-Journal showed an article about how to prepare your car for winter driving. They included an article about checking your car's anti-freeze levels and quality, the oil levels, keep the gasoline in the tank above 50% capacity to avoid freezing, air pressure and tread condtion, battery condition, and inspect the belts.

They recommend the following for storing in your vehicle:
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Warm clothing
  • Small can of waterproof matches
  • high calorie food
  • fully charged cell phone
  • shovel
  • container of sand or cat litter
  • booster cables
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • water container
  • tow rope
  • first aid kit
  • tool kit
I like the idea of tow cable and the sleeping bag. I sometimes carry my sleeping bag. I would add an emergency radio. The radio I have seen in the past is from Grundig or Elan (might have those names spelled wrong). The radio has a dynamo that you crank to charge it up. It has an LED light which saves battery energy and a cell phone charger port which can be really handy.

I am wondering if there is a product that people in the car in Oregon could have used to help air searchers see their vehicle better. Maybe a flashing LED or strobe that can be powered from a solar charger. I looked on the web and there seems to be some products out there using electronics that stand out. Maybe cars should carry an emergency dynamo for charging cell phones and batteries.

Small airplanes carry some sort of beacon device that goes off when they crash or something like this. Maybe cars can have this too. Of course, cars can with the Onstar system and maybe this a reason to get such a system that goes off when the car is in an accident or stranded.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Web Links

I will use this post to archive some web links from a notebook computer I use.

This blog entry lists some interesting medical software sites:

This site has some computer security links:

This site has a variety of different circuit designs:

This site is the ultimate boot CD

Links to explore about the NBC show Heroes

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Supplies to Carry in Vehicle

After the unfortunate events that befell that family in the Oregon wilderness, I thought about items that should be carried in the vehicle to help with emergency situations.

I try to carry 1 or 2 flashlights in the car. Usually, a D cell or AA cell Maglite. Other things I have:
  • poncho
  • pen
  • tire gauge
  • manual air pump
  • philips screwdriver
  • expired cell phone with charger (still works with 911 calls)
  • fire extinguisher
  • first aid kit
  • quarters and other change
  • phone book
  • sometimes a floor jack that can lift 2.25 tons
  • small shovel if chance of snow
  • 5 gallon bucket of sand in case of snow (more buckets for weight)
  • blankets in case of snow
  • bottled water (at least 3 bottles if snow)
  • saline for contacts
  • window reflector to keep sun out in summer when parked
  • Powerbars
  • canned tuna or fruit & can opener
  • sometimes in the winter, a candle in a sealed jar
  • thermometer to check vent air temperature

I think the things I use most are the air pump and tire gauge. I try to keep the tire pressure correct for better gas mileage and tire wear. I have helped a number of people with tire issues because of it.

The one thing I might add is an empty gasoline container. A couple of tools to add would be a cresent wrench and some adjustable pliers.