Friday, April 27, 2007

Instrumented prayer rugs

I was talking with a friend yesterday and casually dropped the idea of creating prayer rugs with a GPS receiver woven into them, so that the owner would always know what direction to orient themselves toward Mecca. Maybe there could be an electroluminescent strip of yarn around the edge that would light up in the proper direction.

I could see this as being useful for the pious Moslem traveler, and of course for someone who was in Earth orbit and wanted to be faithful to the precept of salah.

Inside the Blue Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque,
originally uploaded by Darren Bryant.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Matthew La Porte

My sense of surprise at the events at Virginia Tech seemed to be on a one-way track upward. First at the news of a campus shooting, at a place where I had former collaborators back when I was a scientist. Then the news that there had been two shootings on the same day. Then at the news that one of the victims was from here in Bergen County a very long way from home. Then finally that that 20 year old victim was in fact from the very town in which I live.

I talked to my wife, who said that she recollected the family name from back in the time when she was running for local office six years ago. The chain of connection stopped there, though, for we did not actually know them personally.

There's a sign up at the local garden center in support of the family. I am hoping the borough puts together some kind of memorial service for the victims soon though.

Now I don't own any firearms myself (even though I once used to belong to a rod and gun club in upstate NY), so I was not aware of how easy it was to obtain high-capacity clips for a pistol these days. I expect there will help revivify the push to bring back the Federal assault weapon ban.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It's the humidity

The record-setting storm over this last weekend was seriously annoying, with the cold, the driving rain, the streets closed due to flooding, the fifteen-hour long power outage, the portable electric generator which seized up and died, and currently, the lack of Internet access. So, no pictures just now, as I post from The Gym.

My one take-away idea is to go live in a place that has disasters (since every place has disasters) which are just not as damp. I am ready for a dry earthquake or a stretch of drought or something, just to break up the monotony.

Update: Last night they took the power down for about ten minutes and apparently switched over to a new feed which provides a full 120VAC instead of the 110 volts that my DSL modem did not appreciate. So we are back in the 21st century, with pictures.

  • We got just an inch or two of water in the cellar, rather than the many feet in the next town, so I cannot rant about this too much.

  • I will, however, complain bitterly about the design of my little Shop-Vac® that I used to suck the 13 gallons of water up from the floor. It takes only about 30 seconds to fill it to capacity, requiring one to separate the top half from the bottom half

    … which is inconveniently right where the hose slips in. Or out, as you can see here. I think they should have put a little clip there so that the user would not have to keep sliding the thing back in every time the thing had to be emptied.

  • Sitting on the basement steps, I wet myself. (I did change before going out to work.)

Saturday, April 07, 2007


View full Dogwood blossoms
View full Grain
View full Skulls
Via dumpr

Friday, April 06, 2007

Electromagnetic wear

So I grant you that one can buy bras and pants, shoes, neckties, and shorts. (The magnetic "chi-belt" just confuses me.) What about

  • Magnetic teddies, cummerbunds, or corsets (for therapeutic use)

  • 60-cycle gloves and mittens

  • Electrostatic earrings which would naturally stand away from one's face, an a Van de Graaf fashion.

  • RF-emitting wristbands, Wonder Woman-style

  • A superconducting neck pendant might just barely be feasible, assuming one has a supply of liquid nitrogen for the dewar.

  • Tesla coil cufflinks

At least somebody has reportedly developed a laser monocle which I imagine to look a bit like this:
Locutus of Borg