Archive for June 2008

Off to Vermont!

I’m off for a week to go see family. I’ll land in New Jersey and then we’ll be wisked off to Vermont. I haven’t been there in… geez… years. But I’m confident that the place will be relatively unchanged and comforting.

Crash Plan, Good Online Backup?

I heard on Security Now about Crash Plan. It looks like it might be an excellent online backup tool. I had been fiddling with the idea of using BoxBackup (local mention). But it was too much of a bother to set up (and limited to <2 GB files).

Right now I use Mozy and I’m very happy with it. I needed it a few days ago when AVG Antivirus thought it would delete some files it thought were viruses. One of them was an .mbox file of a mailing list I ran several years ago that did indeed have a virus. The trouble is, it DELETED the file instead of putting it in the virus vault or the “Recycle bin”. It would have been GONE forever, fuckers.

And if you want to get Mozy, I will split the referral fee I get from them if you follow these instructions.

That said, Crash Plan looks very interesting. The demo shows a very pretty interface. You can backup files to your friends’ computers securely (so there’s no ongoing monthly payments). The $60 Pro version allows versioning. When my subscription is coming up, I’ll seriously think about using it. I know that if I had a total crash, I’d be grumbling at the time it takes to download the 90+ GB I have on the Mozy servers. They have a $30/DVD plan where you can burn copies of your data. That’d be quicker but still a bother. If the files were on a relative’s computer, I’d have them mail it to me.

Hmm, and with a linux install, maybe I could put my Dreamhost disk space to good use.

A Work of Art That Can Probably Kill You [grin!]

5-works-of-art-that-can-probably-kill-you-_-crackedcom-thumbCracked Magazine did a piece called
5 Works of Art That Can Probably Kill You
By Robert Brockway

I’m proud and jumping-up-and-down happy to be part of a group and project that could read like that! W00t!

Below is the Serpent Mother portion of the article. If you click on the image to the right, you’ll see an image of the entire article. It’s funny and oh-so endearing!

Go read the whole article

You can right-click-view this strip-looking screen capture of the original page




The Serpent Mother

The Serpent Mother is an interactive sculpture, originally designed by The Lotus Girls for the Burning Man Festival which, for those of you who don’t know it, is essentially a bunch of filthy hippies getting burnt off of their asses, stripping naked, and then welding monstrous devices out of scrap metal in order to dance around them. Kind of like combining a Phish concert with the A-Team, if that helps.

The Serpent Mother is 168 feet long, 20 feet high, includes 41 separate flamethrowers, and a hydraulic head and jaw. The sculpture is fully interactive. All flamethrowers and crushing jaws are controlled by the audience that, up until this point, has mostly been made up of ‘shroomed out hippies who would sooner eat a steak than harm a fellow human being. It is now, however, attempting to go on a tour which promises to look a whole lot like the biblical apocalypse.

The artist claims:
From the website: “There has never been a sculpture like the Serpent Mother. The warmth of her fire and her circular design create an experience in which over 1000 people come together–drawn in by her embrace … She prompts her audience not only to interact with the art, but also with one another. Wherever she exists, she creates new communities … The Serpent Mother challenges the traditional art perspective by creating an interactive experience which is the opposite of passive viewing. Unlike an unapproachable painting in a prestigious museum which invites only an intellectual admiration, the Serpent Mother invites viewers to physically engage in her art.”

Our explanation:
The above explanation could be considered fairly accurate. It’s just that it ends that last sentence a tad bit early. It really should read “the Serpent Mother invites viewers to physically engage in her art, by lighting them on fire and devouring them, so that they might be consumed amongst the ravaged steel of her burning guts.”

The audience control over The Serpent Mother extends not only to the flamethrowers that run along her spine, but also to the hydraulics of the head and jaws–all fully operational. They also control the blue flame jets that burn from her teeth, as well as the directed bursts of steam she shoots from her nostrils. Watching this video of The Serpent Mother in action should make you more fully aware of the size and scale of the thing.

local version:

It is truly, awe-inspiringly massive. Also, it will serve as incontrovertible proof that the devil exists, as only he could finally combine three of the greatest fears of man throughout time–fire, giant snakes, and deadly robots–into one enormous monstrosity. Word is that the artists, in an attempt to more completely expose your darkest, most secret fears, are currently upgrading The Serpent Mother to make it shoot thousands of poisonous spiders that tell everybody about your impotence and how you cried that one time while watching The Little Mermaid.

Danger level:
The real danger of The Serpent Mother comes from its audience participation. As the video makes clear, there are no safety measures around it. Anybody can and does crowd around. It can be walked in, crawled through and climbed on with nobody there to warn you when the flamethrowers kick on. Who would be stupid enough to climb on it? Well, drugged out hippies for one.

For two, its head is mobile–controlled by a joystick in the audience. This joystick also works the jaws, flaming teeth, and jets of burning steam that we mentioned earlier. Thus far it has only been controlled by peace loving flower children, but we remind you once again that it’s going on tour and if there’s anything that Bruce Willis has taught us, it’s that organized terrorist cells are waiting literally everywhere to take over anything that could be used as a weapon.

The fact that you made it a snake–Jesus, you might as well just send a fucking handwritten invitation to Cobra Commander. And, you know, good luck handling C.O.B.R.A with your crack team of barefoot vegetarians, Burning Man.

Learn about some other things that you wouldn’t expect to burn your eyebrows off until it’s too late with Mr. Brockaway’s rundown of The 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational ’80s Songs. Then go read Dan O’Brien spew vitriol in the general direction of Hannah Montana.

You can find a whole site full of Robert Brockway’s writing at

Valentina Ristorante

Last night Charlotte and I went to Valentina Ristorante in Bernal Heights. It was just terrific.

How to Fix My Squeaky Brakes

Update 3-25-09: I found an even better solution. It’s the back brakes that are always squeaking. So when I pull out in the morning, at the first stop I pull up on my emergency brake. That cleans the crap off the brakes in a few seconds and I’m good to go for a day of driving!

A while back I paid a dealer to “fix” my brakes because they were squeaking when I drive at low speed and put the brakes on. I would pull up to an intersection and SQEEEEEEEEK to a stop. Having the dealership work on my car did not work out too well. I paid $400 and I got… pretty much nothing for it.

Here is how to fix your squeaky brakes: just get your brakes very hot. That will clear the glazing off of them. Every now and then I have done this and my brakes stop squeaking. One way is to drive down the highway at about 50 miles an hour while holding your foot on the brakes pretty hard for 2/10s of a mile. After a riding like this for a short bit I notice that the brakes feel a little different and I am done. After they cool off, they feel the same only they don’t squeak anymore. just yesterday, I held the brakes on for two full blocks while driving through the Mission. No more squeaks.

Many brakes (including mine) rust very quickly. In the morning my brakes squeak the first time I come to a halt. Then they are good all day.


Farting out of Context


[Joseph] Pujol became the first flatulence musician. It was a skill that eventually made him the most well-known and highest paid entertainer in all of France.