Art, Cars, Cows, and Robots

As I stepped out of the Deep Ellum Subway where I ate lunch today, I saw a wondrously strange vehicle drive past. It was a Chrysler covertible covered in bovine-themed mosaic tile, with a giant, longhorn and barbed wire hood ornament thing, and driven by a beautiful girl. We briefly made eye contact as she passed. As she drove away, I noticed the words “Cow Goddess” emblazoned on the back of the cow car. Moo.

Seeing an unexpected art car reminded me that I recently posted a few photos from the 2006 ARTFEST event in Addison and the 2006 Deep Ellum Arts Festival.

Are robots art? I think so. The 2006 Tanner Robot Show was held recently and I shot a few photos there too (if you want more, Tanner’s posted some official photos of the event). I’m particularly fond of Ron’s pink bunny-laden robot, though Frank’s Zombarbie also stands out.

I’m still enjoying my Fuji S5200. While I miss some of the flexibility and image quality of my good ol’ Canon T90 film camera, I don’t miss the cost of film processing.

Memorial for a Fresnel Lens

I better write down the exciting events of my Memorial day weekend before I forget and they’re lost for eternity.

We started out Saturday by going to a high school graduation party for Kara, our niece, which was being held at my sister’s house. This was a home school type graduation thing so she was lucky enough to avoid the boring and pretentious caps-n-gown thing that most of us had to endure. Quite a few relatives that I haven’t seen in some time showed up for the event. Much greeting and exchanging of addresses, email, and business cards ensued. And while that was going on, a pile of Kara’s friends showed up dragging along assorted computer hardware for a LAN party that was simultaneously going on in some other part of the house. I popped in briefly to observe but it seemed to be primarily Windows stuff and there was much gnashing of teeth over crashing computers and problems getting them connected (well, duh). I imagine most of them will shortly arrive at college to be shown the light by Linux users and turn from their dark ways.

That evening, I got drafted into doing a lot of house-cleaning jobs by Susan in preparation for our own event, planned for Sunday. They say that men detect the presence of dirt and clutter when it accumulates to the extent that common activities are prevented (e.g., dirty dishes prevent access to the kitchen or trash blocks the front door). Women on the other hand, it is said, are so sensitive to the rays emitted by dirt that they can detect individual dirt molecules located in remote rooms of the house. These things are true. Though I can add that, over time, prolonged exposure to women seems to create an increased sensitivity in men’s cleaning senses as well.

On Sunday afternoon, we hosted a small Memorial Day event for a few relatives including my brother, a sister, her husband, and the associated niece and nephew. Susan had prepared most of the food but cooking of the meat took place on our dilapidated outdoor grill. (note that this was not a barbecue – no barbecue sauce was involved. Grilling and barbecuing are two different, often mutually exclusive, things – sorry, a pet peeve of mine.) Anyway, knowing that kids love to set things on fire, I enlisted their help with the grill. And, afterwards, I brought out my 12″ fresnel lens to impress them with how easily sunlight could be used to cause small flammable objects to burst into flames. I attempted to explain how the flat fresnel lens worked while the kids performed empirical tests on the fire-resistance of a variety of common backyard objects including wood, dry leaves, and lawn funiture. Eventually, I tossed some chickens and hot dogs (for the kids) on the grill and managed a final product that was neither raw nor charred. A good time was had by all.

Monday, we had planned to go to the Dallas Artfest. We showed up in Fair Park all prepared and discovered a lot of workers disassembling empty tents. Hmmm… got the dates wrong, it ended Sunday! Oh well, we needed a day off.

Vortimax and Elkmar

I’ve got a weblog/portal project coming up and have been looking at what’s out there as far as software. Nothing seems to be available that does everything I want. Slash doesn’t appear to be very configurable – every site I look at that uses it looks exactly like slashdot. Slash also requires the use of MySQL while I’d prefer to use only free software like PostgreSQL for this project. Scoop looks much easier to use and modify and, while it also requires MySQL, it appears to use DBI so it should be possible to adapt it to PostgreSQL without too much trouble. Both Scoop and Slash use Perl which is good. Squishdot, being Python-based, is right out. There’s also mod_virgule, which has a number of advantages such as being written in C, having a cool trust metric system and XML support but it also lacks a few features I want. I’ve had a mod_virgule test system running for a while and I’ll probably set up scoop this week for comparison. Being Perl-based, it may be faster to hack a trust metric and PostgreSQL support into Scoop. Hmmm…

Sunday, Susan and I spent the afternoon at the Dallas Artfest 2000. It was not as interesting as previous years but it was still worthwhile. Lots of strange art and music.

I’ve been pondering Irish names lately. Erin is going to be having her second boy soon and wants a good Irish name for him. I think they’re leaning toward Rory at the moment. I’ve suggested a couple of nice ones like Vortimax and Elkmar but I think they’re more in the market for a name like Kevin or Colin. Turlough is a good one too (it always makes me think of the Fifth Doctor’s rather unpredictable companion).