February 28, 2007

Who said it?

So, I'm at symphony the other night. Nobody really wanted to be there, but we were all being good little children and attending our extracurricular activity so as to not incur the wrath of an angry band director the next day. So -- we played. And played and played and played. With about 20 minutes left in rehearsal, we were about all played out, but diligently kept at it. As we sat there during a quick instructional note from our director, we were treated to a small lecture about qualifcations and good director-ing. The symphony's wind director (Mr. Howard) mentioned that the symphony's string director (Mr. Hartman) was like a mentor to him. Mr. Hartman laughed and immediately shot back with "Yeah, if you add the letters T-O-R to the front of it." He laughed, but we just sat there. Suddenly, little lightbulbs slowly flickered to life above peoples' heads. You could practically hear peoples' brains go "T and then O and then R plus mentor. . . T-O-R-mentor. . . tormenter!" After everybody understood the joke enough to decide that it was simply not funny, everybody in the symphony just groaned. Audible groans, like when sheep run into fences. Someone spoke up, "Mr. Hartman, I expected better from you!", to which Mr. Hartman replied "Look, it wasn't good, but at least it was quick!"

This was the moment for Truman (trumpet) and Bekah (clarinet) to shine and bask in the glory of comedic genius. "Look, it wasn't good, but at least it was quick!" spurred the instant reponse THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID! , echoing throughout the auditorium.

We all knew it was coming, Hartman had set himself up about as perfectly as possible, it was just a matter of waiting for someone to drop the bomb. Everybody just burst out laughing and the entire wind section was crippled for a good 3 minutes. Priceless, truly priceless. . .

February 27, 2007

ESP Game

Here's an hour long video that I recommend because it is QUITE interesting. Maybe not watch the whole thing because it's so long, but watch through the ESP game.

Now. . . go play the ESP Game.

When the picture pops up, just start typing words that have to do with the picture, as long as they aren't "Taboo Words." When your guess matches your partner's guess, you get points. The goal is to get as many points as possible. SO ADDICTIVE! Plus, the whole point of this game, is that the words you agree on are used to label the pictures on Flicker.com and Google images to make searching for images more accurate. SO FUN! go play now. . .

The Oscars: An Insider's Viewpoint

As you may or may not know, I have a "special business relationship" with Don LaFontaine. Ever since I got in contact with him, I've been receiving newsletters from him, all of which are quite the good read, but not exactly blog material. His most recent one, however, was very interesting and I thought y'all might enjoy it. He was an anouncer at the Oscars the other night and wrote about his experience. I've copied his newsletter into this post, enjoy!

First - to all of you who sent me those very complimentary notes after the show - thank you. I hope you understand that I can't send you all individual notes, but perhaps this will do...

Okay - here's the story of the Oscars:

We had all-day rehearsals (from 8AM to 11PM) on Thursday and Saturday, and Oscar day started at 9AM, to clean up a few elements and to do a complete run- through of the show from 11 to about 2:00.

Biggest pre-show highlight: Tom Cruise arriving to rehearse on Saturday, carrying his exquisite baby daughter, Suri. She is a very well-behaved child, who never made a sound throughout the entire process, and seemed perfectly at ease with all the attention she and Dad were getting. Tom was, as usual, gracious and accommodating - taking time to talk to everybody and smiling all the while. A genuinely nice man.

The rehearsal process was tedious. A lot of stop and go while camera positions and set changes were worked out. Plus, there were long pauses while waiting for the arrival of the presenters. Yes - all but a very few of the stars actually came in on Saturday to walk through their presentation sequence. And all of them were gracious and patient - at least as far as I could see.

Saturday night we had a complete dress rehearsal, using stand-in actors in place of the presenters and recipients. It took about four and a half hours to run the show. In bed by 1AM - and up again at 6 to make it back to the Kodak on Show Day.

Another complete rehearsal - this one as close to time as we could make it - from 11AM to about 2. Then a short break to clean up, get made up and dress for the show.

Gina Tuttle and I were situated at an elevated desk in the wings, just off Stage Right (Audience left) behind the round Oscar Trophy Case. Our script girl, Tina was to our left, ready to handle any changes and to give us our pages of "Walk-ups" - single sheets which contain a brief statement to be read as the winners approach the stage. Every nominee is covered, of course - because we don't know who's going to get the Oscar until they open the envelope.

At 5:30 Pacific time, we went on the air - and it was basically a well-controlled train wreck from there on. To our immediate left was a long red-carpeted aisle, that led out to the backstage space that held the Green Room, a beautifully appointed holding area where the presenters waited to go on. The aisle was illuminated by banks of light for camera, and packed with photographers, friends and family of presenters and nominees, the Oscar girls (the beauties who handed the statuettes to the winners) Densy, the main talent coordinator, and various other stage hands and production people. The noise level was considerable. This was the atmosphere in which Gina and I worked.

When it came time to announce, we opened our microphone and waited for a cue from either the Director, Louis Horwitz, or his assistant, Jim Tanker. While we were announcing, we could hear the constant babble of instructions from the Director's in our headsets, calling for camera changes, set adjustments, etc. It took a great deal of concentration to work with that going on in our ears.

Meanwhile, the parade past our desk was constant. Virtually every performer, presenter and winner walked by at one time or another. During the evening we became a hang-out spot for folks like, Will Farrell, Jack Black and John C, Reilly - John Travolta and Queen Latifah, (Gina held her purse) Reese Witherspoon (Adorable), Leo DiCaprio and VP Al Gore (A very nice man who complimented me on my GEICO spot) George Clooney (who tried to kiss Gina while she was announcing. Much to her credit, she made it without a bobble) The glorious Nicole Kidman and the damn-near as beautiful Hugh Jackman, Tom Hanks and Helen Mirren (another purse to hold)... You get the idea. Near the end of the show, I looked up and saw Steven Spielberg. Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and recent winner Martin Scorsese all standing not two feet away, and all grinning like school kids.

At one point in the program, Ellen Degeneres and I were scheduled to do a little comedy bit on camera. It was to follow the special Oscar presentation to to Ennio Morricone. That segment seemed to go on forever, with Mr. Morricone droning something is Italian, and Clint Eastwood translating. The atmosphere was solemn, almost funereal, and Ellen thought that it was would be inappropriate to do a comedy bit after it (I felt that's just what the show needed at the time!) But she decided to bag the bit, and got up and left, literally ten seconds before we were to go on. That explains the silent cut to commercial after the Morricone presentation. It was a shame. I would have loved to do it. And my family, gathered around the television at home were looking forward to it.

But that's show biz.

The broadcast was, at least in the estimation of those who worked on it, and who knew how incredibly complex it is, a real winner. Everybody was very pleased with how smoothly it went, considering.

Gina and I were invited to the Governors Ball on top of the Renaissance Hotel after the show, but I knew the lines for credentials and the multiple encounters with Security to get there was going to be a nightmare, so I passed. After all - I had already seen virtually every celebrity walk past me not three feet away, and one of them Anika Noni Rose from Dreamgirls (She's the one who hit that incredibly high note at the end of their production number) was actually living in my house (She's like another daughter to me) - so I just packed up and went home, had a drink and passed out - until 5AM when I had to get up and drive to a post production house in Hollywood to add some narration to a 90 minute version of the show that is released to multiple countries, and which was edited during the night.

And that's how it went at the Oscars. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and unforgettable. I don't know if I will be invited back next year, but you'd better believe that I will be there with bells on if I am.

Don LaFontaine

February 26, 2007


I saw this little clip on a compilation of stupid people videos and it had me in hysterics! I totally expect to get hit in the face with remote control cars when I ride my bike.

Another adventure I plan on having at MIT. . . and one I don't

Ever see a video on the internet and think "That'd be so much fun! But, sadly, I don't have teh technology or the resources to do it. I guess I'll just watch other people do it, *sigh*"

Well, after seeing the following video, I began to think that, but then realized that MIT has to have at least one robotic arm, and how hard could it be to get a racing harness? I'm doing this ladies and gents.

However, the following is something I will never do. This is what happens when people make their own technology and think it'd be a GRAND OLD TIME! Never. Never ever would I do this.

So that's what, 0 to 80 in a quarter second? In my humble opinion, she died. Others disagree, but I have a hard time picturing her brain NOT being crushed into the back of her skull and turning into a gelatenous pool of goo. Plus, even if she did live, can we imagine what would have happened if one of the bungee cords had snapped? Ow.

February 24, 2007

Star Wars Nerd!!!

There's a difference between geeks and nerds. The main one that comes to mind is that geeks have friends that aren't geeks or nerds, whereas nerds only have friends that are nerds.

You know you're a nerd if your car looks like:

Look Ma! A Beaver!

This just in from Reuters:

Beaver returns to New York City after 200 years

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A beaver has been spotted in New York City for the first time in more than 200 years, marking the return of an animal once vital to the city's economy and then nearly hunted to extinction.

Biologists with the Wildlife Conservation Society in recent days have photographed a North American beaver they named "Jose" in the Bronx River, a once-filthy waterway that runs through the Bronx Zoo and has since been cleaned up.

"There has not been a sighting of a beaver lodge or a beaver in New York City for over 200 years. It sounds fantastic, but one of the messages that comes out of this is if you give wildlife a chance it will come back," said John Calvelli, a spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the Bronx Zoo.

The Bronx was once synonymous with urban decay and by the 1970s the Bronx River was used as a dumping ground that was virtually choked off with refuse.

But residents and the city government began to clean it up, an effort aided by $14.6 million (7.4 million pounds) in federal funding secured since 2000 by U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano of the Bronx.

Biologists named the beaver Jose in Serrano's honour, Calvelli said on Friday.
Beaver pelts drove the economy of the former New Amsterdam, when New York City was a Dutch trading post full of trappers. The animal appears on the city seal, which in turn appears on the city flag.

Records show the Dutch purchased 7,246 beaver pelts in 1626 and that by 1671 the renamed New York of British rule traded more than 80,000 pelts a year, Calvelli said.

By 1800, beavers were no longer seen east of the Mississippi River and they were nearly extinct by 1930. Today the species has recovered so much that it has returned to its traditional range, Calvelli said.

February 23, 2007

All City Music Sample

Tomorrow is the All City Concert at North Salem High School at 7:00 pm. It's definitely worth a visit! Even though you'll have to sit through the orchestra and choir, the band will make it all worth it! Want a little sample of what we're closing the concert with?! Here it is:


How amazingly cool is that?!?!?! It's so fast, I love it! Anyway, that's what we're playing and you should come listen. It's called "Danse Diabolique." See you tomorrow!

I import my gum, don't you?

Here's a nice, heartwarming story for you!

The summer between 7th grade and 8th grade I travelled to Italy for a school-sponsored trip. We were there for eleven days, and although the Colosseum, Capri, and Venice were all great, there was one thing that made it absolutely amazing. The bubble gum.

I found a delicious brand of bubblegum in Italy the first day and chewed it over and over again for the entire trip. It was soft, pink, and blew the biggest bubbles ever! I went back to the USA expecting to just go to the store and start buying this brand of gum, but alas, they didn't sell it in the US.

I have been without my treasured gum since 2002. This year, a friend of mine has an Italian exchange student. We were chatting and I happened to mention this gum, but I couldn't remember the brand name. But she says "Oh I know exactly what type of gum you're talking about! Big Babol!" And I practically screamed "THAT'S IT!!!"

"I'll just call my parents and have them mail you some!"

That was 2 weeks ago. Guess what I got yesterday!!!!!!

There it is in all of its bubbly glory! Big Babol bubble gum! The best bubble gum in the world, literally. Here are some more shots of it:

Back Side

Front of a 3 pack

Back of a 3 pack

They sent four 3 packs, which is 50 pieces of gum! I was so happy, you have no idea. I finally have my gum back, w00t! Thank you so much Sara! I'm going to go chew gum now. . . .

February 20, 2007


I've had a couple of people notice that I went about 2 weeks without posting and then all of a sudden a backlog of posts just flooded my blog. Although your guesses as to why this happened were good and reasonable, here is the true story of what happened.

I got behind in blogging.
I felt guilty.
I spent 3 hours one night uploading pictures and typing.
I published a bunch of posts and changed the dates on them to make it appear that they'd been there the whole time.
Aren't I sneaky?!

February 19, 2007

My Mad Inventor Skills

The program that we use in CAD is Autodesk Inventor. I, personally, am very fond of it. I'm more partial to SolidWorks, but Inventor is still great. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that I constructed a Nintendo DS in Inventor last year and I want to share it with you! Here it is:


I was wandering the interwebs when I found a checklist that diagnoses senioritis. I decided to see if it really was as bad as I thought it was. . . it was. Here are the signs to look for (I've bolded the ones that actually apply to me (they honestly apply to me)):


... you check your facebook more than three times a day and don't start your homework till 10 pm...or 12 am...or don't even do it at all.

...you would fight for a cure for Senioritis...if you just weren't so lazy.

..."I'll do it before I graduate" becomes "I'll do it the night before I graduate".

...you actually find yourself doing a math problem to figure out how low of a grade you can get on your finals and still pass a class.

...you think to yourself "Why am I still here?" more than four times a day, quite possibly up to three times a period.

...you have just gotten into your top college and are sooo ready to celebrate it.

...you can tell someone the recap of every tv show on every channel from any given night of the week.

...you figure as long as you get a decent grade in your classes there's no sense in doing extra credit or work.

...you're often seen in the hallway with marks on your face from falling asleep on your desk. Again.

...you don't even waste energy arguing with the people you disagree with anymore since you're gonna be leaving soon anyway.

...you find yourself trying to talk all your teachers into blowing off class and watching a movie instead.

...you have memorized every poster, painting, and decoration in each of your classroom's walls.

...you think senior priviledges of sleeping in means sleeping in...the entire day.

...your schedule is so easy it's not even funny.

...you will make up any excuse to do anything slightly fun and off the wall just to make the day a little more interesting.

...you suddenly feel like boycotting, protesting on, and flat out bitching about every single rule and regulation at school.

...someone says to you,"It's Wednesday night, why are you out???" and you say "Because I'm a Senior, thats why!"

It's sad really, but so many of those made me say "HEY! That's me!!!" and there are people that read this blog that can vouch for that. Hey guys, these are true, aren't they?

February 16, 2007


Sorry to my readers that don’t go to my school and aren’t in band, this post won’t make sense to you, but I was asked to blog about this and so I will.

Ever seen Lewis Norfleet?
Ever seen Tony Wilson from the football team?

Wanna know what their offspring would look like?

Creepy, huh?


I read in a book the other day that inhaling helium would raise the pitch of a clarinet. Well, this just needed to be tried! I took a balloon from work and brought it to school. After school I went into the band room and a crowd gathered around. I set up my clarinet and readied the balloon. I got a baseline pitch on my clarinet, I was in tune. The consensus among the group was either that the helium would do nothing or that it may raise the pitch a couple of cents.

I cut the end of the Mylar balloon and inhaled deeply. I then played a concert Bb. At first, no change, but then to our amazement the pitch glissed up at least an octave! Cue uproar of laughter! It was the funniest thing ever, nobody expected it! The helium TOTALLY effects the pitch of a clarinet! We did it again with the same results and more laughter. The notes starts normal, but then smears up an octave! Amazing. If you have a clarinet and can get helium, do this experiment, it is absolutely a blast.

February 14, 2007

MIT Card

I got a card in the mail the other day from MIT! They sent me a REALLY geeky valentines card. . . Awwwww. I love this school. Here are pics of the card:



February 13, 2007


Perfect attendance is one of my proudest achievements. I have never missed a day of school, ever. Not even in Kindergarten. Perfect attendance, however, is also sometimes one of my least favorite things in the entire world. I went to bed on Sunday not feeling very well. I was sick to my stomach and exhausted from work. That night, I barely slept. I was feverish, sick to my stomach, and constantly suppressing the urge to throw up. I ended up having to soak a towel with cold water and just lay it over my face. I got about an hour or two of sleep, total. The rest was rolling, groaning, and general discomfort.

Then it was time to get up and go to school! Since I was already up essentially, I got up really early, about 5:00. I took a shower and realized about 20 seconds into my shower that I really had to throw up. So I did. Gross. BUT! I did feel a lot better, even though the experience was overall quite unpleasant. After my shower I stumbled into some clothes and downstairs. I’m absolutely freezing, so I’m wearing a thick fleece and trying to survive. I drank a cup of orange juice and ate a banana because it just seems like those are the types of foods you’re supposed to eat when you’re sick. Then I took my temp. 101.5ºF. School was going to SUCK! I left the house early so that I could go to the store and buy Pepto-Bismal in an attempt to keep my stomach subdued. I went to the counter to pay and the lady looked at me and said “You don’t look healthy.” No, really? I went into my wallet to get money to pay for the Pepto, and of course, the smallest bill I had was a hundred. Lovely. So, at 6:00 in the morning, I spent a $100 bill on a $5 bottle of Pepto, and pretty much wiped out the cashier’s startup. School was going to SUCK!I drove to school and went inside. I sat down at the table in the commons and collapsed. Fever and upset stomach. Gross. I then went to first period, CAD, where I went to the back of the class and tried to sleep on the cold concrete floor. Not comfortable, but it didn’t involve moving, so it was nice.

Next period wasn’t quite as nice. Band. I sat there with my clarinet in my lap trying not to throw up the whole time. No playing, just absolute concentration and absolute misery. Next was lunch, where I took my temperature again. 102ºF. Lovely. By the way, all this is made better by the fact that I had to go to work after school until 7:30 for DeFib training.

Next period was my online class, so I took a nap the whole period. I fell asleep using my backpack as a pillow, but when I woke up I realized I’d fallen asleep with the side of my face on a zipper. My face hurt. Lovely.

Next period was CAD again, and more napping, but I was too uncomfortable to sleep very long and ended up just laying on the counter in the back of the class groaning. Eventually, with about thirty minutes left in the day the teacher came up to me and said “Michael, go home.” “Ok.”

So, I got to work. I walked into the room where the training was and my boss looked at me. “Go home.” “Ok”

So, I got home at 2:30 pm. I went immediately to bed and fell asleep.

I woke up at 5:45 the next morning. 15:15 minutes of sleep. It was wonderful. I don’t feel great today, but my fever is better and tums are keeping my stomach under control. My advice to anybody without perfect attendance is to avoid school at all costs if you have a fever. My advice to people with perfect attendance? Buck up, it sucks but it’s something you’ve gotta do if you want to keep the streak.

February 10, 2007

Anything Goes

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time to blog about our school musical, “Anything Goes.” I’m a member of the pit orchestra, playing alto sax and clarinet. We’ve had the music for about a month but only had, I believe, 5 practices before our first dress rehearsal. Let’s talk about dem dress rehearsals a sec, shall we? The pit orchestra is back stage and hidden from the audience, so all rehearsals seem like performances and vice versa.

The rehearsals started on Monday of last week. The first was at 5:00 and lasted until 10:00. 5 hours, a really looooong five hours. The next was Tuesday, from 6:00 to 10:00. 4 hours, a looooong four hours. Wednesday. . . wow Wednesday. On Wednesday there was an All City rehearsal at 3:30 that lasted until 5:00. Then there was musical rehearsal across town at 5:45. . . that lasted until 10:00. 6 and a half hours of practice. . . .a FREAKING LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG SIX HOURS! But, the 6 hours had an interesting ending! Anything Goes is set on a cruise ship and at one point one of the characters yells “All ashore a’goin’ ashore!” Connor (tenor sax) and I (alto sax) felt that that scene needed the ship to blow its horn in warning, but there was no ship horn! Well, guess what a low Bb sounds like on a saxophone? Fog Horn! Plus, when the tenor and alto both play a low Bb, it sounds a fourth and sounds exactly like a fog horn/ship’s horn! We asked the play director after the last dress rehearsal and she said “Sure, go for it!”

Then Thursday, opening night! We were all dressed in black and excited! Overall the performance went very well for the pit orchestra. The actors had some technical difficulties, but it all went decently. One of my favorite parts was definitely when they yelled “All ashore!” and we belted out the fog horn. Not one actor knew it was coming and everybody backstage whipped their heads around in shock, lot’s of “wtf?” looks, but it was great. The performance went pretty well.

Highlights from other performances include

- our drummer/band director using a rimshot as a shotgun sound effect and scaring the actors backstage so badly that they screamed.

- the pit orchestra memorizing everybody’s lines and performing brilliant monologues backstage and acting out scenes

- Jake, our trombone player, melting his pencil to his stand light. . .twice.

- Realizing that my space heater acted like a dimmer for all the music stand lights and dimming everybody’s lights a bunch.

- Our line! The band actually had a line in the play. It was towards the end, here’s how it goes. Somebody on stage loses their dog, and somebody else comes on stage having found the dog. Dialogue on stage: “Where did you find him?!” “The swimming pool” “What was he doing in the swimming pool?” Band: “THE DOGPADDLE!!!!!!!” It was great, we screamed it as loud as we could. We were happy.

- There’s a wedding scene and so when the piano is playing the wedding music, the whole orchestra stood up and saluted. Remember, the audience can’t see us, so we were just doing it to be stupid. It was fun though!

The play continued throughout its duration and in the end, it all turned out really nicely. It devoured our time, but I think it was worth it, we had a good time. It was a hilarious play, so that helped. Here are some pictures of us having a good time:

Kevin, with a trombone mute in a flugelhorn

Our drummer/band director going crazy!

Conner, our seductive tenor sax player

Aw, three happy pit peoples

Jake busting out some trombone

Jake found a plunger!

Truman, messing with his hair of course

Kevin got bored and climbed into the catwalk stair cage

February 08, 2007


I have remembered a legendary Snively family story that I haven’t blogged yet! I was very excited! Here we go with the exciting tale of The Binders!!!

It was an average day. School just let out and I was about to go home. My dad pulled up and I hopped into the car. “Hi dad!” “Hi son. Son, I might have made a mistake.”

This is when little alarm bells go off inside my head. My dad makes mistakes all the time, but he never actually calls them mistakes. When he uses the word “mistake”, it’s time to start listening.

“Um, what’d you do dad?”
“Well, I was on eBay, and I found something.”
“Did you buy it dad?”
“How much was it (thinking it was probably ridiculously expensive)?”
“Well that’s not so bad! What’d you buy?”
“Some binders.”
“Wait. . . why’d you buy binders on eBay?”
“Well, they were government surplus and they were cheap so I bought them and went and picked them up today.”
“How many did you buy?”
“A bunch.”
“(Realizing that I was getting closer to the mistake part of my dad’s experience) How much is a bunch dad?”
“Well. . .”
“Well. . .”
“Dad, how many binders are in our house right now?”
“700 pounds”
“Well, it was a good price!”
“A palette”
“Oh my god, you’re kidding, right? You bought 700 pounds of binders?”

We’re home by this time and have started down the driveway. As we reach the bottom I see the “mistake”

“Oh lord dad, what have you done?”

In the back of his truck is not just a palette of binders, but a HEAPING palette of binders. Overflowing. Binders that, if laid end to end, would encircle the globe. There were a LOT of binders.

“So, son, your job today. . .”
“Is to. . .”
“No dad, I won’t do it.”
“Unload and sort all the binders”
“NO! You bought them, you do it!”
“Nope, it’s your responsibility.”
“I hate you dad.”
“I love you too son.”

I spent the next six hours of my life sorting 700 pounds of three ring binders by ring size, putting them into boxes, and carting the boxes of binders to our basement. It was dark by the time I’d finished.

This was in 7th grade. Guess what’s still in our basement. We still have about 5 boxes of binders left, about 50 binders total. Most binders were either given away (about a hundred had this fate), used for school projects, trashed, or used for some other purpose. We still have no idea what to do with the rest.

So that’s my binder story. Exciting, isn’t it? Remember, next time you buy government surplus, be careful of how much you buy. You may get a deal that really is too good and too true.

February 07, 2007


I’m taking an engineering class this year and of course, I’m lovin’ it (McDonald’s pun totally intended). So far we’ve made mousetrap powered catapult cars and little wooden bridges, not to mention a lot of animations and computer models. Now we’re on to our latest and greatest project, the legendary Wooden Toy Project! Basically, our teacher showed us all a book full of the most complicated looking little wooden toys ever and said “Draft. Animate. Build. Pass.” So. . . . that was that! We all dug around in the little book to find toys to build. There were different strategies people employed when choosing. Some went with the “I’m going to pick the easiest one in there and get done in a week” method. Me? Nope. Some went with the “I’ll build one that somebody else is building so that we can help each other” method. Me? Nope. Some went with the “I don’t really care, just give me one” method. Me? Nope. Some went with the “Let’s find the most complicated little puzzle in the book with the most curves that will be impossible to constrain on the computer and even more impossible to build and has the least satisfying result!” method. Me? You betcha! *Sigh*

I chose a wooden lock/key/tumbler toy. I began by drafting it in AutoDesk Inventor (computer program) and then assembling it all into a pretty 3D model. Then I had to actually tell the computer the physics behind how the pieces moved and clicked around so that you could actually turn the key on the computer and the deadbolt piece would move. I’ve never had to do anything more frustrating in my life. Ever.

The computers in our CAD lab are beefy and are very good. I’ve never been able to crash one. That being said, I crashed my computer 13 times trying to constrain those pieces together so that they’d move. It was hell, and towards the end I actually started slamming my keyboard against the desk and contemplating strangling myself with the mouse cord. In the end I gave up, switched programs to AutoDesk Viz, and made an animation. SO MUCH EASIER! When I get a chance I’ll upload the animation I made.

After that was the building stage. Not a lot to talk about here. I spent about 2 weeks with a band saw and a belt sander getting the pieces right. I’d have to say that the hardest piece was the bit that slides when you turn the key. The one in the final toy is the 4th one I made. The other 3 had. . . issues. I was anticipating that the building stage would take about 5 weeks, but to my surprise and a brilliant stroke of luck, I was able to cut it down to 2. The stroke of luck came when it came time to cut a notch in the sliding piece such that when the key turned CW, it would slide, and when turned CCW, it would slide back. I was expecting to have to cut multiple notches on multiple sliding pieces until I got it just right, but it turned out that the rough notch I cut the very first time worked perfectly! YAY! After that I just cut out the tumbler (easy), sanded everything so that it’d be nice and pretty, assembled it, and mounted it to a base with dowels. Ta-Da! One lock and key wooden toy! It’s surprisingly fun to just turn the key back and forth and watch the sliding piece move in and out.

It may not look like much, but a lot of work went into this thing and I’m very proud of it. I’ve never really made something small and mechanical out of wood by myself, most of my wood experience is large scale construction and I work with my dad. This little guy is kinda my own baby. I’m quite fond of it.

February 06, 2007

Calculus Story That Actually Involved Calculus

Yes, believe it or not, some calculus actually occurs in my calculus class, I just never mention it. Today I’ve decided to mention it! Here’s what happened.

We were reviewing for a test that was coming up, specifically we were reviewing how to find the surface area of curves revolved around a certain axis. We were all settled on which curve we were going to use, but had to decide which axis to use. The following dialogue occurred:

Which axis should we revolve the curve around John?

Um. (Doesn’t really have a preference) How about the X-axis?

Class (realizing that the x-axis requires much more work):

X-axis it is!

John (realizing his mistake):
Um, Y-axis. I meant Y-axis.

Teacher (questioning whether John decided to switch because of peer pressure or because he understood why the Y-axis was the better choice):

John (being very witty, smart, and loving a good ol’ play on words):
Exactly! Y!


*Doesn’t get it*

I apologize, it’s kinda hard to convey the humor of the situation over the internet, but a quick explanation is that when the teacher asked “Why?”, John just pretended she said “Y”. See? Funny! No? Sorry, it was funny in class, so there!

This'd be a fun test!

Gracias Kevin for the tip, this was blogworthy.

Behold! The seven deadly sins and how they are interrelated! Check each one, line by line, I promise that they all make sense! Oh happy day.

Second, it's that time again! Nearly 2,000 hits to my blog. Who will be number 2,000??? Lots of comments and lots of visits will give you a better shot at being number 2,000. Good luck to all!

February 03, 2007

Leaning tower of code

Here's a quick and entertaining picture for those of you who understand HTML. For those of you who don't, typing those I-bracket things makes anything between them Italicized.

February 02, 2007

Harry Potter Seven, Spoiler!

Check the new press release here!

Here's the secret though, I know what happens. I have an uncle who works for Scholastic and is one of the guys that puts the book jackets on the books. Needless to say, he's had a lot of time to read the jackets. . . or at least he would have had time, if they had needed him. What?! No jackets?!

No. No jackets. In fact, the last Harry Potter book isn't even a book. It's a pamphlet! Here's what it says:

"It was all a dream. Harry Potter woke up, laughed, and then climbed out of his waterbed and went downstairs to his good Catholic family who all know that wizards don't exist."

On the last page of the pamphlet it says "Get off my back you anti-Harry Potter extremists! -JK"