Friday, February 05, 2010

oh well

It's seems obvious that I no longer blog. I've found twitter to me a much lower effort way of tossing my musings out there into the ether. There are lots of other ways to see me on the web. My personal website is My youtube ukulele videos now have almost 20,000 views. I twitter, though I have slacked off of that just like many of those I follow. I'm also on facebook. I think that's enough and a blog just isn't necessary.

The one thing I don't have now is a way to share photos with family and friends. I really should get on that, after the dozens of more important pressing things I have to do...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ewan's Own Rocket

Ewan built his own rocket with just a little help from Dad. He launched it on a beautiful clear still morning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Adventures in Quicktime

Quicktime is an odd program. It has immense capcbilities but it costs $29 for the pro version. The problem is that it is very badly documented, and the user interface is minimal. I bought it so I could do some simple video editing. I've been learning about the things that can be done with it. To give you an idea, iTunes - it's just a skin for quicktime. iMovie - just a skin for quicktime. Final Cut is also built on quicktime. It reminds me of learning Unix back in the late '80's, "Manual!? there ain't no manual son. You just gotta know."

Well I struggled with quicktime quite a bit trying to get this video done. Eventually I enlisted the help of a quicktime guru friend to get those first two layers and the mask working, after that it was easy. QT makes it really easy to sync audio to video. You can take it apart and put it back together. The closeups on the fretboard are actually from a different take. After having such hell with masks I decided to take a different route for the funky background on the closeup shots. I actually exported those frames to a series of image files, and wrote a marco that made my beige looking walls disapear so the psychedelic background could show through. It was not very different from rotoscoping, and it was done frame by frame. I happy with the results.

The song is Pink Floyd's very first single, Arnold Layne. I just love the odd harmonies and the way it goes all over the fretboard. One of these days I'm gonna have to learn Interstellar Overdrive.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My first music video

Last night my friend Stephen returned to his radio program "The Haciena with Boy Howdy" but this time on He played my cover of REM's Gardening at Night. I was inspired and made a video and posted it on youtube. It's my first youtube video. Hopefully many will follow.

When I went to upload onto youtube, I had to sign up. I was sad to discover that my normal login name of ukemike was taken. So was Ukemike, Uk3Mik3, Ukem1ke, and a few others. So I am ukemike1.

There's a lot of work that goes into making even a passable video. I did a little intro bit, which I may refine. Next time I'll add an outro or credits. The video took 9 takes before I got the acceptable one. There are still two minor slips in this one but I decided that sleep was more critical than perfection. It's funny to me that I am more likely to mess up recording a song than I am performing it live in front of a crowd.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cheapest Gas in Town

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fuel Economy

A few weeks ago my hood latch broke. I wired it down with a wire hanger. I think it was probably pretty safe up to 80mph, but until it was fixed yesterday I tried to keep under 60mph. This did wonders for my average fuel economy. I've tracked the mileage I get ever since I bought this car. Until recently I usually got 27mpg. With the broken latch I got 29-30mpg consistently. I also noticed that it made my commute less stressfull. It's fixed now and I'm trying to continue with my new driving habits.

Cheapest Gas in Town ($4.169 is premium)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Infrared Me and Ewan

We got this picture taken at maker faire with a Flir T200 Infrared Camera.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Maker Faire

----> click on the picture to see a short animation <----

Ewan and I went to Maker Faire yesterday. I asked Ewan what he liked the most. He said, "Everything!"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It works

More than a year ago I bought an Epiphone Mandobird. It's a 4 string electric mandolin modeled on the famed Gibson Thunderbird Guitar. Of course I play the Uke not the Mandolin. So I tuned it to GCEA, but the intonation was off because the some of the strings were the wrong gauge for that tuning. So on and off for the last year I've fiddling around making an electric ukulele out of an electric mandolin using guitar strings. No wonder I was having trouble. In the process I've learned a lot about setting up an electric instrument. I have a bit of refining to do since I get some fret buzz when I really wail on it, but for the most part I have a fully operational electric solid body ukulele that looks like a Firebird. I call it my UkeBird.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The 5th Aniversary of our National Shame

Well it's been five years now since our ship of state, sails full of hot air and lies, blew into Iraq. In early 2003 before the invasion Pat Buchanan, a man with whom I don't often agree, wrote;
"With our MacArthur Regency in Baghdad, Pax Americana will reach apogee. But then the tide recedes, for the one endeavour at which Islamic people excel is expelling imperial powers by terror or guerrilla war. They drove the Brits out of Palestine and Aden, the French out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out of Lebanon. We have started up the road to empire and over the next hill we will meet those who went before. The only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history."
Now here we sit 5 years later having directly spent at least 3,992 American lives, a half a trillion dollars, between 89,000 and a million Iraqi lives, and our nation's moral authority with nothing but a bloody mess and a ruined economy to show for it.

I could go on but Robert Fiske said it with so much more authority and historical perspective than I could. "The only lesson we ever learn is that we never learn"

I'm gonna go to the fridge and pop open a beer and drink a toast to the lying criminals who dragged us into this foul mess. George, Dick, Donny, Colin, Condi, Paul, John, Scooter, Ari, Tony, and lets not forget the Turd Blossom, here's spit in yer eye!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Space Disaster

Corte Madera - The Benefield Aeronautics and Space Administration (BASA) suffered a tragic setback today as its second manned space flight was lost. Two astronauts were aboard the ill fated flight of the Payloader. All hands are presumed dead after an exhaustive search of the crash zone.

The flight launched at 08:13:21 on Sunday March 16, 2008. BASA astronauts Joker and Rastaman were on board. The boost phase of the flight proceeded without trouble, and the parachute charge ignited at approximately 08:13:25. The final photograph of the flight shows that the parachute had successfully deployed by 08:13:36 but that unexpected high altitude winds had caught the rocket and carried it far down range. BASA search efforts were unsuccessful and called off later that day. BASA officials made a brief prepared statement but did not take any questions. "This was a tragic loss. Our hearts go out to the families of these brave astronauts."

Astronaut Ice Cold who was on board the maiden, and only successful, flight of the Payloader said, "BASA is staffed entirely by a weirdo and a four-year-old. They should be grounded. They were reckless and they should have known that conditions were unsafe for flight. Joker and Rastaman are probably still alive, but these low budget crooks stopped searching after only 20 minutes!" BASA officials had no response to the accusation.

Following the ill-fated flight, BASA launched the Big Bertha and the Googlie Eyes. The Big Bertha's parachute failed to fully deploy and the rocket was damged when it landed on top of a nearby modular school building. The upper section of the Googlie Eyes got caught in the top of a tree. The Big Bertha and the Googlie Eyes were both successfully recovered. The Big Bertha was damaged but may be repairable. Both the Googlie Eyes and Big Bertha are expected to fly again.

(upper and lower sections of the Googlie Eyes during return to Earth)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mt. Tam at sunset

Last night.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

New Paintings by Ewan

Three new paintings by Ewan. The most fun is his painting of the flood.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

No rain all day.

Ewan and I went into town today. The water level was way down, though it was still much higher than we are used to. To illustrate just how terribly high it was last night watch this:

(a much nicer version of the video can been seen here)

It didn't rain here all day. Unless there is a deluge tomorrow I think we are out of the woods.

Spared the Worst?

Ewan and I are gonna go into town and have breakfast at Bubba's, assuming they are open. It should be interesting to see.

Looks like we got to see the peak last night. Which means that the worst that happened downtown was water coming out of the man holes.

Rain is in the forecast for this afternoon, Sunday, Monday, and maybe Tuesday. Stay tuned.

The rain stopped

The water level is going down. It's almost below 'critical flood level.' G'nite.

Creek level

Friday, January 25, 2008

Flood Photos

At about 8:30 Ewan and I piled into the car and went for a drive to check out the the creek. We drove towards downtown and were able to park in the Creek Park parking lot. Lots of other people were there to see the spectacle. We were all being disaster tourists. It was really astonishing to see. At the north end of Creek Park the creek comes out from under a "bridge" that has some restaurants and shops. It was as high as the bottom of that bridge, which means it was probably choking the flow so it might have been overflowing it's banks just up stream of there. I don't know, downtown is closed and evacuated. I took some pictures with my new camera. It was pretty hard with the low light and an umbrella in one hand. Some of them turned out okay.

This photo shows the water coming out from the underpass at the North end of Creek Park. There are stairs under the water right at the bottom of the frame. Ewan and I often walk down those stairs to throw rocks into the creek. The water here is at about 13 feet. Critical flood level is 11.14 feet.

(Nikon D40, focal length 31mm, F4.5, 0.62sec, iso 1600, handheld
ps: cropped and unsharp mask)

This photo is looking North at the bridge that crosses from Creek Park to San Anselmo Ave by Michael Feldman's Gallery.

(Nikon D40, Focal length 18mm, F3.5, 1/2sec, iso 1600, handheld,
ps: unsharp mask)

Click on either photo to see full size.


The flood alarm just sounded. San Anselmo Creek has hit flood stage. I hope the shop owners are prepared.

Downtown Evacuated

Interesting Visits to my websites

I use this really neat service called to help me interpret all of the data logs I get from visitors to my website. Most of the visits to are people who are looking for the songs/chords I have posted there, though I am always surprised at how many visits I get from people googling my name. I get a fair number of short visits to this blog from people who googled for "train animation" or "model train bart." I know that my site isn't what those people are looking for. Sorry.

It's fun to peruse the statistics and see if I can figure who is visiting me. (If you think this is a little big brotherish you should realize that all websites can gather data about visitors) Of course I usually can't tell exactly who is visiting my websites, just where their ISP is located. Some of my family and friends, I recognize their ISP name. Some times I get hits from Wasatch Meats. I know who that is. But more often than not I can't even guess.

I used to have a link to my email address so visitors could leave me a message but not anymore. Spammers use programs called "spiders" to "crawl" the web looking for things like someone@website.bla. They then "harvest" the email addresses and that email gets buried in mail. At one point I was getting over 200 spams a day in the email I had listed on my site.

I am currently working on making a comment form for Of course this is a stretch for me and my mid 90's era html skills so it might be a while. Of course people can comment easily by clicking at the bottom of any post on this blog.

In the mean time I have added another email link on my homepage. I created a special email just for the purpose so my main email won't get flooded with spam.

Anyway I'm dying to know who from the BLM in Aurora, CA and who from Moab, UT visited my site this week.

Friday, January 04, 2008


It's been calm for a while. The creek was down by a few feet when I took Ewan to see it at about 4:30. The bridge re-opened at 2:30pm. 101 re-opened at 11:30. No flooding in downtown San Anselmo. There is supposed to me more rain on Sunday.

More rain news

The CHP closed the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge at 8:30am because a truck overturned. The bridge will be closed both directions until at least 10PM! Highway 101 is closed at the 580 interchange because "debris from an interchange under construction blew onto the freeway, the California Highway Patrol said." That'll be closed until about 5pm because they can't start cleanup until the wind slows. The local bus system shut down entirely because of the freeway closure and apparent flooding in San Rafael. The only good form of transport right now is feet. Well feet wearing rubber boots. Luckily it is supposed to stop raining at about 4pm. Stay tuned.

San Anselmo

The downtown shops seem to be as prepared as they are gonna be. Lots of them are closed. Lots have their inventory cleared out. The creek is really high but it has a way to go before it spills it's banks.

My camera is not working well at all. The sensor seems to be going dark. Sure it's cloudy but it's the middle of the day and I was using 1/2 second exposures just to get an image! I'm bummed. My phone takes better photos now. I wish I had a work camera here.

It's like swimming out there. I had all my goretex ski gear, my sorels, and my hat so I stayed toasty and dry. I'm gonna have lunch and go back out.

At the weather station on Red Hill, it's rained 2.47" today and 1.77" yesterday. That makes for 4.24" since it started raining at about noon yesterday.

My phone doesn't have a signal right now.

How High's the Water Papa?

You know it's 6 feet high and risin'

Local weather conditions can be checked here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Ascent of Red Hill

I climbed Red Hill today. It was my first ascent without injury. I bought some crampons and it made is so much easier.