Still deciding if I should

Ok, so here I am at my sister-in-law’s high school graduation, and I decided to take a little walk… Guess what I found 🙂

Exhibit A: football field full of ~300 people about to graduate.

Exhibit B: the industrial high-flow sprinkler controller for the field that somebody just happened to leave UNLOCKED


I’m sure you can put two and two together at this point. 🙂

It sure would make one hell of a final ceremony…

Best two dollars ever spent

Today I went to my local coffee shop before work to get some caffeine, and was stopped on the way in by one of the local homeless guys. I’ve seen him before, and he has asked me for some spare change before too, but today, he apparently decided to step up his game plan.

He started by catching me between the sidewalk and the door, and immediately started telling me his story of woe and why he needed some money. It went something along the lines of this.

He said he was traveling all across America to panhandle, trying to make $50. He was going from state to state panhandling. A traveling panhandler, this man was. He used the word “panhandle” more times than I had ever heard in my life. He said needed the $50 so he could open a bank account and get a lock box. He then reached into his pants pocket and produced an empty wallet, save for a California I.D. card… he didn’t say anything about it, but rather, he just kept fiddling with it between his fingers. When I looked down at it, it most definitely was not his I.D. card, but actually that of a man of a completely different ethnicity, and what looked like about 20 years age difference.
Why he pulled the card out I will never know… but he continued his story without taking a breath or letting me say a word.

He said he wasn’t able to get a lock-box yet because the poh-leece have his name on file, and he needed a tape worm removed.

Yes. You read that right. It made about as much sense to me as I bet it does to you. But I digress…

He reiterated the fact that he had family all across the United States and needed to go see them and was trying to make $50 today for traveling money and a lock box. He then finally got to the point and asked if I had anything I could spare. I simply told him I would see what I had after I went and got my coffee.

While getting my coffee, I was trying to digest everything he had told me, and I was even more dumbfounded than before, but I couldn’t help but just start laughing at nothing.

When I came out, I gave him $2 cash and told him to have a good one. He then proceeded on to his next client.

What he is planning on storing in that lock-box, and how he plans on getting that tape-worm removed, I hope to never find out, but one thing’s for sure… that was an amazing two dollars.

Finally, a blog

Well, I finally added a blog on the site. I’ve been looking for a place to keep random posts and publications online for a while, but could never really decide where to put it all. Looks like I’ll just be keeping everything on my project site. Sounds as good as any idea 🙂

The thing that really kicked me into creating the site was what will most likely be the subject of the next few blog posts: My new Google Cr-48 laptop 😀

I will be posting whatever I have to say about this new piece of hardware that people all across America are receiving as we speak.

….anyways. Ill see about styling the blog to make it match the rest of the website, but don’t be surprised if it stays looking like a default WordPress site for a while.


Schwippy Tree

Every year the Schwippy Christmass Tree is turned on and streamed to the world, allowing anyone who wants to the ability to turn the Christmas lights on or off. During the Christmas season, check it out at

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As of the 2011 season, the Schwippy Christmas Tree has been completely rebuilt, and no longer uses any of the technology explained in the following write-up. A new explanation will be written as soon as possible. In the mean time, you can subscribe to updates from the previous page to be notified when the new page is online.



The technology used to control the tree is actually quite lo-tech. I have been using nothing but X10technology. While a good relay/triac controller hooked up to the computer would be nice, you just cant beat the simplicity of X10.


lampmoduleEach different strand of Christmas lights has its own X10 lamp module and address, in this case G5, G6, and G7. There are 3 strands of lights per color. The lights are wired in series – one plugged into the end of the other – so all you see here is the head strand being plugged into each X10 module. X10 lamp modules were chosen over appliance modules so the lights would fade in and out instead of instantly turn on or off. It makes for a much more plesant scene. All the X10 modules are simply plugged into a power strip behind the tree out of sight.



The main controlling aspect of the entire system is the X10 computer interface module (Model CM11A). It is hooked up to a server running Ubuntu that is turned on all the time.



Since X10 is a power-line radio protocol, I dont have to have the equipment running in the same place, as long as they are on the same power grid (within a certain length, of course). The computer is in one room, while the tree is in a completely seperate room.

The computer sends a simple serial string to the CM11A module, which then translates the command into an X10 command and injects it onto the power grid for any receivers to capture. Unlike other X10 transmitters, the CM11A doesnt have to be locked down to one house code (The letter part of the code). Any house code and any unit code command can be sent from the computer.




Around 2002, I purchased a 1987 Chevy Caprice Classic, which I lovingly dubbed the Boat. Being a teenager, I decided that my boat would be a thousand times better if it had only been a convertible.


The following story is being recollected with help from an old forum thread about the same subject. It is simply being re-edited to match the formatting of this site.




boatsunroof2It all started one hot summer afternoon when I decided it was time to put in a sunroof. I wasn’t planning on doing this the right way or making it look good. I just wanted functionality. The car itself was on its last leg and was starting to get costly. I decided not to really worry about anything but having fun with it.

I grabbed a pencil, ruler, and some string. I drew a sunroof-shape on the sheet metal of the roof. Then I grabbed a Dremel and went at it. Unfortunately, the Dremel wasn’t really doing much other than wasting cutting discs. That’s when I decided to drive over to my uncle’s garage and borrowed an air grinder. Once I started using the air grinder, the hole was cut in a matter of minutes. The cut was pretty ragged and sharp, so I used a different disc on the grinder and deburred the cut.

By the way, pay no attention to the ugly rusted roof nor that not-so-awesome steering wheel cover. I honestly have no idea why I had that on there. Probably out of necessity.



Missing Door

There was only one problem. When I drove to my uncle’s house, I had a little problem backing up on his driveway. I had the driver’s side door opened while backing up. Yep. You guessed it. The door hit a gate post and pretty much snapped off.

boatmissingdoor3 boatmissingdoor2boatmissingdoor1

Back when I had the car, I was delivering pizza for a living. The next day when I went to work, my boss basically sent me home for the day and said I couldn’t deliver without a door – I have still yet to find that rule written anywhere, but whatever. So I drove over to my local Pick-A-Part and looked for another Chevy door that would fit. I got lucky and they had the exact same model car on the lot. Unfortunately, it was dark blue.

One hour and $40 later, I had a slightly used door in my trunk and I was driving home. I will say I did get a lot of strange glances while going down the freeway without a door. When I got back home, I spent the next hour getting the new door bolted and aligned onto the body perfectly. It was useable, but it sure was ugly.

Missing Roof

boatcutwindows1A week or so later, I got bored again one day and decided that the sunroof just wasn’t enough. The next logical step was to simply cut the entire roof off. I went to my uncle’s garage again (steering clear of the gate) and got out the air grinder. First, I cut off all the window holders/glass holders/whatever-you-want-to-call-thems from all the doors.


I now needed to get through the rear corner supports. I knew it wasn’t going to be fast or easy, but I tried to go at it anyways. After about an hour, the air grinder finally proved itself and got through the rest of the support. Unfortunately, it was starting to get dark, and I didn’t think I would have enough time to get the other side done that night. That’s when my uncle came out and suggested I use the Sawz-All. Why didn’t I think of that?


boatcutroof1 boatcutwindows2

boatcutwindows3I only cut the back off because I just wanted to finish for the night. The next day, I went to work on the front sections. I quickly cut through the thin sheet metal from the rest of the roof, but I left the side supports on. My seat belts were attached to these and that left me kind of stumped as to what to do about it.

After browsing around online and basically coming to my own conclusion that it would be legal (who knows if it really was), I just cut off sides and decided that a lap belt would suffice. The Sawz-All made quick work of the rest of the metal, and some deburring with the air grinder made it smooth enough to touch without slicing your hand open.
boatcutwindows4boatsidesupports1 boatafter1boatafter2boatafter3 boatafter4 boatafter5 boatafter6



What do you do when it rains?

Well, for one thing, I live in southern California and we don’t get THAT much rain, so it wasn’t a huge problem. When it did rain, I found out that as long as I drive over 25mph, the rain would never hit me. When it came time to park the car, I had a tarp in the back and I had hookup places on the front windshield and back by the trunk. The tarp would clip on perfectly and create a nice incline for the water to just run off the back.

Doesn’t that create a structural problem?

Yes! And I wouldn’t recommend ANYBODY do it unless you’re willing to put your life at risk. From the day I cut the roof off I could easily tell a difference in the sway of the car. It dipped and sagged a lot more than it used to. When I would go over bumps and things, the frame constantly bowed. To this day I’m still surprised the thing never snapped in half

Why didn’t you make a real convertible out of it?

Time, money, and general laziness. I didn’t want to put money into the car either. I had already dismissed it as a lost cause and just wanted to have fun with it. Making a true convertible out of it with a retractable roof doesn’t sound like fun to me. That sounds like work.

What happened to the car?

The car’s starter died one day. While trying to replace it, I found out that it was in an incredibly hard to reach spot and even the local shop guys said it would be a hard job since they would have to take a lot of other things out of the way to get to the starter. This happened right around the time I decided to move to Las Vegas. I knew that even if I put the investment into the car to get it back to running condition, it would most likely never survive the trip to Vegas. So I let it sit at my mother’s furniture store until one day some guy came in and offered to buy it for $200. As a starving kid moving to Las Vegas, $200 sounded better than a car that wouldn’t start, so I made the deal. The last I heard, the guy was parting it out. If I were given the choice today, there is no way in hell I would sell that car for $200. That car will always hold a special place in my heart.