Archive for May 2003


I recently heard, “Islamic democracy is an oxymoron.” That doesn’t sound too far off the mark. How might that effect our presence in Iraq? Comments?

Last night I went out with Adam Segal and his wife Kim. On a whim they came down from Boston for a trip to NYC. I was the first one they thought of calling :-). We slipped into a fondue restaurant/bar around 29th & 3rd… soaked in some music, cheese, and good conversation. Then went down to the Lower East Side to see The Porno Jim Show. Got a slice of real NYC pizza (which was much better than the crappy pizza I had at Sunny’s in Hackettstown last week), chatted some more and called it a night. Friday evening traffic made it take 3 hrs to get into the city, which confounded the start of our evening. Although I despise cell phones, I might have to get one for situations such as that one.

Pay phone service is becoming very sparse… because there’s no money in it for phone companies anymore. I had trouble finding a pay phone at the Holland Tunnel entrance in NJ: I stopped at two gas stations. I found 6 pay phones distributed all over the first station… all of them used a private pay-phone company that wouldn’t accept my phone card. The next station had 3 pay phones with the same issue as the first station. The next station had 2 Verizon phones… only 1 worked, but that was enough. It took my card and I made my call. Then when I got in the city, I was a little lost (turns out, I went to 143 West 30th but I should have gone to 143 EAST 30th…). I looked for a phone and the first 3 payphones I tried didn’t have a dial-tone! The days of pay-phones seem numbered. So, what’s the minimum cell phone service I can get?….

I’ve started my summer school in full. A statistics course and Educational Psychology. Summer school is intense!

Course Title Hours Meets Location Professor Notes
284 A
EDUC PSYCH 3.00 Days: MTR ( 05-27-2003 To 06-26-2003 )

Time: 6:00 PM – 8:40 PM

151 A
STATISTICS 3.00 Days: T R ( 05-27-2003 To 08-07-2003 )
Time: 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

That’s 4 hrs, 40 min of class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yup, I’m back in school…

Oh, by the way, I’m now using my sister’s monitor. It’s a 14″ Multiscan 100ES… smaller than my old monitor (which is now sadly partially blocking the entrance to my bedroom) but it’s clear…. Anyone want a sick monitor?


I’m chasing my shadow again with my teaching stuff…

I started the summer session at WCCC yesterday. Educational Psychology and Biology. I figured that Ed Psych would be a good primer for the real thing and … heck, I’ve never had a college level biology class so I should round myself out. The Bio immediately lost my interest… Kingdoms, flagellums and endoplasmic reticulum*... boring! And the teacher seemed “moderate”. So I think I’m going to switch to Statistics… another something that I’ve never taken. Since I just aced College Algebra without too much panic, I know I can do well in it and it feels more relevant than amebas (But then that’s just me. Everyone has to pick their route in life…).

The teacher in the Educational Psych class, Mrs. Black knows her stuff. In one class I got an excellent feel. I’m worried that it’ll be a hard class, especially since it’s 2hrs and 40 minutes, 3 days a week for 5 weeks! Intense! Remember, I -need- an “A” or I won’t qualify to get into nuffum in the fall. She told me that CCM has a brand spanking new Alternate Route teaching program that I might be able to get into. So I scrambled and made some calls today…. and left messages on two answering machines. So here I sit, waiting for a call-back.

* Hey, how come “reticulum” doesn’t spell-check in FrontPage? It’s in -my- everyday vocabulary!

Flying page

I’ve added a Flying page to the site. It’s bare bones right now but I’ll be adding pix and stuff. Heck, I should have a photo of the Zagi right here… it’s on my camera upstairs in my lah-bore-a-tory, but It’s late.

What I Did on Memorial Day

My airplane is pretty. It is an electric airplane. I fly it in the air. I went to the flying field on Memorial Day. I flyed it there real good. ;-)

I had a very nice flying experience today due to a combination of improvements:

– I used careful throttle management and was very happy to find that I got about 15 minutes in the air. Previously, I got about 5 minutes in the air mostly WOT. I have seen several reports of people that get “10 minutes WOT” with a 1700 mah battery… Those claims sound dubious (at least from my experience). And it seems to be the case that since my battery was draining slower, it also offered up more juice before giving out. As proof, when I went out last week, I got 5 minutes of flight time and then my peak charger put 800 mah back in. Today, it put 1,500 mah back in during recharge!

Twice I had a problem where I launched at full throttle, went about 5 seconds and then the engine cut out. I still had elevon control. Apparently, the battery voltage dipped and tricked the ESC into thinking the battery was almost dead. :-( After another start, I was ok. I guess the think to do is just keep off the full throttle until the battery is warmed up… or maybe pre-warm it on the ground.

– I fiddled with the CG, not to much effect. Though I’m going to put some more velcro in the tray so I can move the battery around more.

– Last night I reironed the Oracover. It had gotten crinkled up after some crashes. I think it helped with the aerodynamics. I’ve also got an issue with… ok, I’ll just come out and say it… when I first ironed it on, I didn’t take the protective film off. It stuck kinda-well, so I left it. It’s still on. Of course I’ll redo it eventually.

– I got in some inverted flight! Woo hoo! Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite maintain altitude, even by pushing all the way forward on the stick and all the way forward on the trim. I started at around 200 feet, was inverted at 175 feet and then started losing maybe 10 feet per second down to 100 feet, where I peeled out. I’ll keep at it though.

– As Yoda always said, “Control! You must learn control!” Improving my stick control is improving my flying. Of course, I still crashed 3 times… But that’s ok, I just brushed away the grass and mud, plugged the battery back in and zooOOM!

As for control surfaces… It always seemed to me that the horns were placed too close to the center of the plane. If they were moved out to the middle of the wing, the far end of the elevon wouldn’t have nearly as much of a chance to flutter or strain. Net result: more responsive flight. That’s my thought anyway. I haven’t seen any photos of such a configuration though. Thoughts?

– I learned a valuable lesson about near-stall speed flying and elevon airplanes. It had to happen to me twice before I sat the plane down in the grass, put my fluid dynamics hat on, played with the controls and thought about it for a while. The lesson is this: If you’re flying very slowly and pull a hard turn… lets call it a hard right turn, the right wing now has it’s elevon pointed up in the air like a flag. At stall speed, that wing isn’t going to bank and turn the plane. Instead the elevon will act as an AIR-BRAKE, slowing that wing down and sending the plane into a really cool though horribly tragic spin. What does the airplane doctor say about that? “Don’t do that!” “But Doctor, sometimes I find myself in that predicament when flying fairly low and then making a turning error.. Like for example turning away from the wind too quickly.” The doctor just repeats, “Don’t do that.” And I bow my head and agree.

– Could someone else put their stock zagi on a postal scale and crank it up to test how much thrust their motor is generating at full throttle? As I said before, mine comes in at 12 oz and the Zagi site shows 16 oz. Which is more normal? Of course, this number isn’t a totally accurate representation for flying because the prop might be stalling when there is no airspeed (in the test environment) but in the wild, when the plane is flying at 25 mph, the prop wouldn’t be stalling.

Cliff writes
>>How are you charging your battery? it should be at 2 amps max
>I’ve been charging at 2C to 2.5C, 3.4-4.25 amps. I’ve done that about 12 time

Hmm, I just reread the Zagi manual…. ”

Oop. My bad! But I so often hear about charging nicads at 2-3C…. ugh. I suppose slow charge time is part of the penalty for these batteries having such a good weight to energy density ratio. I’ll be good to my batteries from now on.
– The heavy aired misty day worked to my benefit. The wind was light and there was no one else there. If there’s glow planes on the field, it’s a bad idea to just walk into the middle of the field for the fun of having the plane fly by 5 feet away!


Now I’m coming around to the Zagi way… I’ll probably be getting another battery pack and a brushless motor soon. Cliff has been good to me from the beginning so I’ll likely get it from him. :-)

226 hits in 76 visits from July 17, 2003 to Aug 31, 2003.

Matrix Reloaded

I saw The Matrix Reloaded on Wednesday. If you didn’t get enough of the Matrix from the first movie, then this movie is for you…. really. Same stunts, same fights, same sets (same red chair), same look, same feel. Sure, it adds to the storyline, but not nearly enough for it to be worth it. It disappointed me in a similar way that the the new Heineken/Matrix sellout/commercial does.

Now, if you had figured out how to hack your favorite video game, change your stats, kill the bots with a hack, see through objects, violate the physics of the game, hit the reset button when you’re losing, etc… you wouldn’t concern yourself with all the mundane things that apparently concerned Neo. I had been really looking forward to seeing Neo hack the system, oh well.

I loved going to the movies with Tara and Ross. And I liked exercising my philosophy muscle on a big-screen event. But Matrix Reloaded gets a disappointed thumbs-down from me.

More Comments: Several of the effects were obviously completely CGI. There were a couple jitters in the film that looked like editing mistakes; maybe the theater’s copy of the film had been damaged? The tractor-trailer fight was cool, but Morpheus bent the laws of physics so much that I was beginning to think that nothing could unseat him. If you lived 2000 meters underground, I’d think that oxygen might be an expensive commodity and you wouldn’t try to light an area the size of Madison Square Garden with torches.

Well, at least they’ll have to build a a new set for their hovercraft because the Nebuchadnezzar got blowed up in TMR.

Enough about that.

Maura Cosplay Boston Globe

Back in April, my friend Maura was on the cover of the Boston Globe’s Calendar section :-). They had a big spread on the cosplay con in Boston.