Older blog entries for The Swirling Brain (starting at number 113)

More of my rolling ball sculptures have been selling on ebay. I'm about $300 or $400 short of funding my vacation this year with RBSs and selling stuff in my garage on ebay. So for the most part I don't have to go into debt to go on vacation.

I had one person ask to commission a $1125 RBS but then only wanted to pay $500 for it. Usually when someone wants to commission an RBS they start pulling stupid negotiation goofiness on me like that to where I just about don't want to do commissioning of RBSs anymore. What's funny is how they email me and go on and on about how many millions I'll make and how they have it all figured out and then want to cut the price by more than half. I've seen it so many times I can sort of see it coming and I have a hard time trusing people when it comes to commissioning something. So my best bet is to just make them and list them on ebay. That way I pretty much don't have some nut bossing me and goofing me around. It's just I make them and they buy them or not. I like that way of doing things and so I'll probably turn down commissioning of RBSs. Unless someone can make it worth my while, it's just not worth it to me (does that sentence make sense?).

So far we're still going to First Baptist in Garland. We like it a lot and will probably join there. I keep hearing stuff through the grapevine about my old church and it doesn't sound good. It's sort of sad but we're glad we left when we did. It's never going to change and so the best bet is just to go somewhere where it's better.

We're all excited about going to Disneyland in California. My daughter Bethany is becoming a cute little actress and wants to see Hollywood. We'll also see California Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood. We'll probably also go to Long beach and up the Pacific Coast Highway to Redondo Beach and Santa Monica Beach, etc. We decided to fly instead of drive. I like that better because we'll have more time and we won't be worn out when we get there. We'll be staying at the Castle Inn. It's supposed to look like a castle on the outside and the inside will have suits of armor, shields and swords on the walls all sort of Medieval decked out. It's right across from Disney they say so hopefully we can just walk to the park.

Over a month and a half ago we put our boy and girl hedgehogs together hoping they would mate. Well, it's been enough time now and no babies so I guess it didn't happen. Boo hoo. Anyway, we may try it again after January. Natalie had already come up with names and was bouncing around saying we were going to have babies and on and on. Oh well. Spike, the boy hedgehog, was sweet with me the night before last. He climbed all over me and then got tired and just laid beside my leg as I watched TV. They're sort of like Grumpy and Happy all at the same time type of little pets. My mom said she would keep them while we were on vacation. I think she secretly likes them too. She always wants to see them when they come over.

So far my job is holding out. The product that I was doing tech support for is for the most part dead. We're still supporting it but it isn't going anywhere. We've been moved over to another project or two and that's been fun and I'm really getting into it. We got notice that the customer liked what we did and signed us up for another year! A few other customers have also purchased more. That's always good. Some things are sort of looking up and others down but it looks like we have a future at least now. I was worried for a while there that the company was just about to go under and now it looks like we still have a little lease on life. Good timing too with the way the economy is going.

Yea, two of my rolling ball sculptures I listed I sold on ebay! The popsicle stick RBS didn't sell for much. I didn't expect it to. However it was just about 1 or 2 inches too big which made shipping cost about $10 more than expected so I lost even more money on it. I made about $20 on something that took me weeks to produce. shrug. The Christmas ornament didn't sell at all. Perhaps it's too early yet. The copper one sold for $75.99! The shipping will be more than I put and the copper is really expensive right now, so there again I probably made about $50 on it. It's not a fortune but at least it's something.

There's basically two kinds of people that look at an RBS: those that get it and those that don't. My boss came into my office and saw the sculpture and said "that looks like coat hangers" and didn't even care to pick up a marble and try it. A guy at one of the robot meetings saw one of my sculptures and said, "that's just ground wire" and was making fun of it and snearing at it. Then there's the other type that look at the sculptures and says stuff like, "that's so cool, how did you do that?" or "that's so awesome, can I do it?" or "I want one!" It's like you either get it or you don't. My boss asked me how much to make him one. I told him I sold it on ebay for $75 and he said that's about $70 more than he wanted to pay for it. Like wow, did he really think I sold them for $5 or is it that he's my boss and expects me to make him one for next to nothing. Shrug.

Anyway, I'm hoping to fund my vacation by selling these things and so far I've made near $100 toward my vacation. So now just about 30 or 40 more like that and I'll have enough. ugg. So you see, I probably can't fund the entire vacation with them but if it pays for a few souvenirs or extra dinners on my vacation fund that will be nice.

We went to Wylie First Baptist Church last Sunday. We really liked it. It's a really large church and their services are like a rock concert. It was quite a production. We actually liked it quite a lot. It was very flashy, the preaching was solid and the singing was good. A very worshipful experience in spite of the production.

We went to South Garland Baptist Church the previous Sunday. The sanctuary had an old people smell but it was a pretty good service also. We were quite impressed. It's a medium sized church and the people seem sincere.

We went to Northeast church. It was an independent church. It was very laid back with everyone wearing shorts and t-shirts and jeans. You could tell the visitors (like us) because they were dressed nicer than everyone else. The service was worshipful and generic. There were lots of kids/teens there - way more than I expected. They must have a great teen ministry. However the preaching got into baptism and works for salvation and losing your salvation which I believe to be incorrect theology so we won't be going back.

Anyway, the church hopping experience is new to us since we've been at Golden Meadows for so many years. We like not having any responsibility right now. It's a little liberating.

25 Sep 2008 (updated 25 Sep 2008 at 20:36 UTC) »

Well, I've posted three rolling ball sculptures on ebay. I'm hoping to fund my vacation by selling some sculptures online.

I watched all of the Firefly episodes online. Man, I wish they had more of those. They're so cool.

I resigned my music ministry from Golden Meadows Baptist Church. Now we're church hopping. My buddy Tim McGough has taken over where I left off. This is a really big step for us but something we felt led to do.

Still paying down my debt on Prosper. We're probably going to sell the remaining clothes we bought on Liquidation.com Perhaps that will help us finance our vacation as well.

Our garage door opener went bad so I had the joy of buying a new Genie for $150 and putting it up myself. Probably someone who knows what they're doing could put it up in an instance. For me it took half of a Saturday and a few hours on a Tuesday. Yea, it's working now! My wife is so happy and that's all that matters!

We're hoping to drive from Garland, TX to Los Angeles, California for vacation. We'll probably go during the Christmas holidays. I'm thinking we'll stop at Carlsbad Caverns, NM, and perhaps Roswell. We'll go to the Grand Canyon and drive thru Las Vegas. Then we'll go to Disneyland and California Adventure. Then we'll go to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. We'll probably see Long Beach and Santa Monica beach. We might try to go to Universal Studios and Knotts Berry Farms. And whatever else we can fit in. I really don't want to drive but my wife like's the idea and the kids sort of do to. My oldest daughter is getting her driver's permit and she was all into it. That'll work if we drive our car but if we rent, I don't think that will work out. I've already hit up all of the free travel guide sites for ideas. Anyway, here's hoping we can scrounge up some cash to go on vacation by then.

I talked with a friend about the movie Primer (that I spoke about in previous blog entry). He has a really cool timeline chart that covers the movie pretty well. If your a geek at all, you'll love the movie! That movie is so cool on so many levels. I first of all liked the part of the machine functionality discovery. That was cool in itself. Then when he showed his friend at the storage facility their other selves, that was cool too. Then it was cool figuring out what all they could do with duplicate lives. And then it was cool to just figure out where it could go from there and then how to stop it. That's a cool swirling brain movie if ever I saw one. One of the best lines from the movie was "I'm starving, I haven't eaten since later this afternoon". My brain is still swirling on this movie!

I saw Wall-E and The Dark Knight. I loved Wall-E. The Dark Knight I didn't like. I guess I'm strange because it seems everyone I talked to loved it. To me it was just a character sketch type movie. You learn intimately the psychology about the Joker and some about Bat Man and some about Two Face. There were some explosions and action blah blah. There were a few relation ship things. Basically it was a chick flick slash horror flick slash plot twist movie with explosions. There was no real hero and all the villains you had to feel sorry for so there were no real hard villains. The movie was super long at 3 hours. The movie didn't know what it was in my opinion. I guess there was a lot of eye candy and good acting but it was a bad situation movie where it all just got worse and ended where it was bad. It was like a Shakespeare tragedy type movie. The good guys did bad things and the bad guys did good things. It was a backward movie. I could have done without seeing it. I did like the graphics on Two Face as gory as they were, they were cooly done. I guess that makes me morbid. The rest of the movie was so-so to me. I guess it made my brain swirl (as you can tell by my long review) but it just made it swirl backwards.

I saw Dr. Horrible's sing-a-long Blog. It's hilarious. It starts out slow but it gets better. It's cheesy and cool all at the same time.

I got to make a web program for Roger. That was fun. Of course between my lack of quality time and my other goofy projects, it seems I couldn't ever get to working on it. Anyway, it's working now, so it's back in his court on any changes that need to be made. Hope he likes it.

I worked on a popsicle stick rolling ball sculpture. I listed it on etsy. historically, popsicle stick rbs's don't sell well so I don't expect to sell it but it worth a shot.

So I've had netflix watch instantly for a while now. I really love it. The latest flick I saw was really a swirling brain movie called Primer. It's about a couple of guys who build this contraption that they can't tell anyone about and what they do with it. It will really swirl your brain. I really enjoyed it. The other movies I've seen (not necessarily instant watch) include Underworld and its sequel. Of course Kate Bechinsale makes the movies so the next one without her will probably be a dud. These two are cool in that they involve vampires and warewolves and high tech. They have UV bullets and liquid silver bullets to kill each other. The really cool thing was the little hockey puck bombs they had that sprayed a gas mist and then do a sort of spark plug thing and go boom. A lot of violence and many quarts of blood later you have a sort of swirling brain movie. I saw Crossworlds too. It has a cool swirling premise but it's just B movie fun.

My daughter Natalie and I have been baking bread. She made a few loafs shaped like hedgehogs with red cinnamin eyes and spiky backs. She made a loaf that was made by braiding three strings of dough. They all turned out pretty good. She's having so much fun and I'm enjoying doing stuff with my daughter even if it is baking bread. We are using recipies for the bread machine. We basically just put in the ingredients and put it on the dough setting and then an hour later once the dough is ready we play with it then let it rise a little then bake it. It's cheap fun really.

Well, my medicine co-pays have gotten up to about $300 a month now. It's quite a bummer and really sucking down my finances. This is not including the co-pays we already pay for Bethany for her CF drugs which are quite expensive (Insurance pays over $5000 a month on her drugs!). We try to keep track of all our co-pay receipts and then we get some of the money back when we turn in our IRS forms. Still, it's a real bummer.

I have six 3D VBS songs made so far. They are looking pretty good. I'm hoping to have 9 or 10 made by Aug 4th when VBS starts. They are made where you have to wear the red/blue anaglyph glasses to see the 3D. I think the kids will have fun with it! It seems that the rest of the VBS won't be in 3D because it seems no one else really has the vision to do it. One friend there seems to have the vision and is doing some work getting T-Shirts made and fliers made but the rest seem could not care less about it. I'm really hoping that this year the 3D VBS will be a reality. Here's me still holding out hope.

My one year anniversary just came around at work (July 2nd) without much fanfare nor raise in sight but at least I still have a job. I still really love working there. I get to do tech support, program, test, you name it. There's quite a varity of work there. I'm trying to get a security clearance there so perhaps if it goes through I will have more job security. I've had the gov guys talk to me some and they've been interviewing my neighbors already! Anyway, here's hoping on that too. I haven't gotten to travel much since we haven't made many sales. The civilian side software isn't selling but the gov side is. I'm hoping my clearance will help to move me to the dark side so I'll have some sticking power. Our big civilian customer still hasn't committed yet. When/if they do, it will be a big deal and everyone will be happy. We have made some advances on the software and it looks pretty good if we can just release it soon, that will help our position quite a bit. We are testing it and testing it trying to make sure it's quality. So far it's looking pretty good but it still has a way to go before it can be released.

Prosper is still a cool way to borrow money. So far I've paid my load down about $1000. Only about 2-1/3 years to go on my loan. The children's clothes we bought hasn't been selling well. We're probably going to try to offload them on liquidation.com and try to get some of our money back. Here's hoping on that too. It seems we always lose so we'll probably get less than we paid for it. But, we need to cut our losses and at least hope we'll get some money back.

The catchfly seeds have sprouted but I haven't kept up on watering them regularly so they are not big at all yet.

It's been a while since I poasted last. I guess I should post again.

I had been using blockbuster.com for doing dvds through the mail and now I've switched to netflix.com. Why? Because you can watch movies instantly online. So, I've been watching lots of older dr. who shows instantly. The quality is pretty good, as good as a vcr or better so I can't complain too much. Most of the movies start within less than 15 seconds! Not too many really good movies nor many recently released movies are available online but there are a few and there's always plenty of b-movie sci-fi goodness that I can choke down. The fun starts at $8.99 a month for unlimited streaming and 1 or 2 dvd movies out a month (can't remember) but you can go higher! I think I chose the $16.99 a month plan for 3 dvd movies out and unlimited streaming. You have to use IE for their DRM (blech) but I'm enjoying it. So far I've watched many Dr. Who shows, Silent Running, Organism, 2 Hellboy animated shows, a few religious shows, Nova documentaries, and a bunch of other stuff. My wife usually hogs the tv in the living room so it's like I can sit in my man-cave and watch what I want to watch. Very cool. I had a few dvds delivered which were MST3K dvds. They were mildly funny. I remember them being funnier but I guess it's funnier with the company you watch them with. When you are buy yourself you forget to laugh out loud so you don't remember it being funny. I've seen Girl in the Golden boots, Spider Invasion, and Godzilla vs. Megalon. None of them were that great. My wife reminded me of a movie like that called Adventure of the Dinosaurs but it wasn't MST3K instead it was when the USA channel had Captain USA doing something similar as MST3K. He made it funny.

I got to go to Hollywood in May. I got to see Hollywood blvd with the walk of stars sidewalk, Chinese Grummand Theatre and all the freaks there. I saw the Hollywood mountain sign thingy. I also went to Rodondo beach and saw a bunch of surfers. I went to ?Encino? and ate at McDonalds (whoohoo). I wanted to see Disneyland but missed it. I got turned around and ended up in downtown Los Angeles. They have these really cool trees near LA that have bright lavendar color blossoms. It's like looking at a bright purple tree where the UV just glimmers purple off and almost blinds you with purple! In downtown LA they have a park with like 30 of those trees. I don't know what they're names are but they are spectacular to see. I've never seen trees like that anywhere but in and around the LA area. I took pictures but the pictures don't do them justice - I guess the camera can't pick up the UV flare they have. You just have to see them to believe them. I saw a lot of signs on the telephone poles wanting to legalize marijuanna and I went through a lot of crummy neighborhoods as well as very nice neighborhoods. There was very much contrast in that area. LAX airport was a lot different than I remember it. it has grown and it was under a lot of construction. Most of the people were very nice and friendly that I met.

I'm working on my 3d song videos for our 3D vbs we'll be having this year at church. I have 3 and a half videos made so far. They look pretty good if I say so myself. I'm excited to see how well they go and how well the kids like them.

I still love my job. I'm coming up on working here about a year at the beginning of July.

18 Apr 2008 (updated 18 Apr 2008 at 22:03 UTC) »

I had my 43rd birthday on April 12th. For my birthday I got a pair of New Balance shoes, a pair of Levis, a pair of Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut bars, a pair of Trolli worms bags. My wife wanted to do something special like the Wolf Lodge thing we did for her only not so depressing. However she couldn't think of anything good. She suggested going to Mideval times restaurant but I didn't want to pay around $200 just for a dinner show. She suggested going to PuttPutt and doing the Super Saturday special. However when she called to check on it, they weren't doing it anymore and they weren't even called PuttPutt anymore. So we went to Mr. Gattis for lunch and Panda Express for dinner. Mr. Gattis was my first job ever so it was sort of nostalgic. After leaving Panda we went into Game Crazy which was next door. They had a used old Xbox system cheap and lots of Xbox games cheap. Of course, our family is video game deprived so these older Xbox games are great for us. So we got an Xbox, 2 Dance mats, 4 games controllers, and like 15 games for around $150. We've been playing xbox games ever since. We're addicted to Burnout race car game. It's fun nudging the bots and even human competitors into oncoming traffic. Even my wife is getting into it! Ah the fun! For my birthday the family went to see a movie, "Horton Hears a Who". It was cute and very kid friendly unlike the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch movies were. Of course I had to yell at my oldest daughter at least once and apologize. So, my birthday this year didn't stink too bad.

I got some 280,000 mcd white LEDs. Yep 280k! I've played with them. I'm not sure they really are 28 candle power but they are pretty bright. They apparently have 3 led chips inside of one package as when you shine it on the wall it looks like 3 bright spots like war of the worlds aliens. I'm hoping to put them to use in my front doorway at my house as it's really a dark walk.

I've mentioned Prosper before and people have given me referrals. Thanks! So far nothing has panned out for me as far as the referrals go but it's interesting to see that people are looking at it. I'm down to $5700 owed left on my $6500 loan so that's like 22% paid. The loan is cool, but the clothes I bought with it are not selling so that's not cool. It turns out that ebay has raised their Final Value Fees (FVF) too. They're cheaper to list up front but they take like 9% for a FVF. That's really expensive so I'm not liking selling on ebay anymore. This is forcing me to check out other auction and selling sites. I think I'll look into Amazon and Bidz to see what it takes to sell there. I don't know if Yahoo is still going well but I may check them out too.

My mom and dad are into rocks! They want to make ?Cabishawns? I just think of it as rock jewelry. They may try to suck me into it which is fine. I thought it might be cool to go round with them to the arts & crafts shows selling the jewelry. That seems to be a popular thing to sell at shows like that. I may try to make some too to try to sell. I've been looking at the Art Clay Sterling Silver Clay but it's exensive stuff and probably not practical if we're trying to make money at it.

I got 4 packets of 5000 catchfly seeds on ebay. Catchfly plants are supposed to be pretty hot pink flower plants. I hope so. Anyway 4 packets of 5000 is 20k seeds! I put some around the big tree in my front yard, some in front of my bushes and some in a flower bed to the left of my house. I'm hoping it will look nice.

Shrinky Dink Gears

I found some ShrinkyDinks paper that can be run through an inkjet printer. I thought it looked like great fun, so I bought some on ebay. It took a while to arrive so I ran down to Hobby Lobby and picked up a couple of packs of it too. The two packs of it at Hobby Lobby were cheaper than one pack of it on ebay!

I then wrote some code in Postscript to draw gears on paper. I downloaded ghostscript and gsview so that I could code and view postscript on my computer screen instead of doing lots of printouts to test outputs. I was able to make a function to draw gears of a calculated size based on the tooth number and size. On each gear I put a number for the number of teeth each has to help me not have to count all the teeth each time.

I found out the hard way that the shrinky dink paper is not 8.5x11 inches but rather 8x10 inches and of course I printed on the wrong corner and wasted a sheet. So I adjusted my placement and all worked ok for the next sheet. grr.

I made the lines at 50% gray because when they shrink they get darker and if I start out at 100% black it doesn't dry and the lines smear.

Here's what my postscript gears output looks like:

Notice the output is all crammed in the upper left hand corner because this image is with 8.5x11 inch regular paper but the shrinky dink paper is really 8x10 inch size. You probably can't tell it from the picture but the lines are 50% gray.

I then carefully cut out the gears to just the outside of the black lines (so you still see the lines). I punched the center hole with a leather belt punch I had laying around. A regular paper hole punch is too big for my purposes. Them I put the cut out gears in my toaster oven at 300 degrees. It's fun watching them shrink! The small ones with teeth sizes of 12 or less work great and shrink with no problems. The bigger ones like 24 or 32 teeth came out egg shaped. I figured out that it was because it was sticking to the foil so I sprayed the foil with cooking spray and the next one came out round.

The gears always come out bowl shaped so I got a cassette case of all things and pushed them flat while they were still hot and malleable out of the oven. On one gear I smashed it too hard and it sort of squished out like squishing a marshmallow and ruined it. So I must be careful to flatten but not flatten too hard!

The process makes hard plastic gears about 1/16 inch thick. Thought about stacking three gears and gluing together for the pinion gear to make them match up to the bigger gear easier.

Here's some sample gears I created:

I then got a couple of push pins and put the gears on the wall for my test. I was able to spin the gears very well.

Here's an example of the gears on the wall with push pins:

You can kind of get an idea of the size with the push pins for your reference and from the 8.5x11 inch paper picture above to see how far they shrink. They shrink about 50%.

I hope to try making a pendulum clock if it is possible.

I hope you enjoyed this fun info. Try the buffet, we'll be here all week. Come again!

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I borrowed money on Prosper to buy a clothes lot to sell on ebay. Prosper is like the ebay of loans. So far the clothes hasn't been selling. :'-(

Both of my cars broke down. :-( On my truck, the starter went out along with a few other things. I was unable to get the starter off! It was nearly impossible so I just gave up on it. It has 210k miles anyway so it's no big loss. On my Buick, we were on our way to the Great Wolf lodge and the engine got hot and blew the head gasket again. It was up there in miles too so it's pretty much not worth fixing. So we have two dead cars sitting in front of my house right now. We'll probably donate them or sell them to someone who might want a couple of dead cars to fix up.

So, my dad had pitty on me and gave me his White '97 Buick Rivera. It's nice but old. We then got about $3k from our tax money back and $2k from my mother-in-law and bought a Red 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee from ViewPoint Bank from their auto auctions they have. It seems to be in pretty good condition with an 81 point inspection. We test drove it and it seems like the the engine and trans is OK so we bought it for $4.5k. We scoured a lot of car websites and lots and this jeep seems to be the best we could do. We love it!

Some of the car buying experiences have been eye opening. We went to Kia used sales and a Kia Rio 2005 was $14k to $16k. We then went to Kia new sales and found Kia Rio 2007 from $14k to $16k. Something seems inherently wrong about that. shrug. Anyway we asked about the advertised no payments until next year and they had no clue what we were talking about. We went home and right away saw the commercial that talked about it. Didn't want a Rio anyway.

We went to Trophy Nissan. We'll never go back there. We drove in and they herded us to park. They asked if it was our trade. I said no and so they herded us inside where other people in glass cubes with bulging eyes gave us looks like "save yourselves now - run away!" We sat in a glass cube for about 2 hours then they came and told us we had one car we could look at. It was a really ragged out old red chevy colbalt. Inside it was a smokers car complete with cig burns in the seats and a headliner that was coming down and stains on about everything. We drove it and they quoted us $17k. I told them not to waste my time and they said that it wouldn't be anywhere near that price. So they wanted us to give them $20 and said they would "run the numbers." They came back and told us it would be about $17k. I told them it was over and that they have wasted our time and our day and that I wanted my $20 back and that I was leaving. They wouldn't give me my $20 back! So I went up to their glass room and knocked on the door. They opened it and I said I'm leaving I want my $20 back. It probably took a good 20 minutes of doing that to get my $20 back. As I was leaving they yelled to me how about payments of $189 a month? Not even close. Why would I pay $17k for a 3 or 4 year old car and $189 payments a month? That doesn't make sense! I could buy a new car for that. I really hope other people aren't agreeing to deals like that!!! I hear that other people say that if you do bring your trade that they take your keys so that they can value the trade and then don't give you your car back like they did my $20. Man that experience was totally insane! They wasted my day! I'll never go back. Then, they called me back in a day or two and didn't have any better offer or apology. Sheesh! Steer clear of that insanity!

So anyway, now I have the joys of cleaning my new to me used cars and getting all the minor stuff fixed up so that they'll be in good shape to drive.

At work, they haven't had me travel in a while. I really wonder if this company will stay in business much longer. Our lead programmer left which makes me lose more confidence. They have me doing testing and some minor programming. I'm really glad because I really need to be having a computer career and not a tech support career. So, here's hoping.

Our church voted to have VBS in 3D this year! Yea! So hopefully it might actually happen. Now there's a lot of work ahead of me.

My mother-in-law got married. We filmed her wedding but I haven't edited the wedding video yet.

I tried to make a slightly bigger stirling engine but I didn't have much time and in the time I worked on it I couldn't get it to work. :-( It's hard doing stuff without quality time.

With our DVR I've been recording science shows and watching them late at night. I love my DVR.

Trying to get my Zoysia grass to grow again this year. Some of it from last year has come back but there's still lots of dirt patches. So I bought some more seed and am watering a lot. Hopefully, my grass will start coming around this year. Here's hoping.

I found some 280k mcd LEDs on ebay. No joke, it says 280,000mcd. I couldn't believe it. So I bought some. they should come in soon and I'll play with them.

I bought some black tire paint on ebay. Black tire paint is of course different than just armor all. It was a little expensive. It's hard to find, I'm not sure why. I painted my tires on the white car. It looks good! It's not glossy, it just makes the tires look like new tires again instead of old and gray. Cool.

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I still love my roomba vacuum. My wife loves it too and she's been telling all her friends and family about how much she loves it! Wow! I thought I'd have to be the one to extol the greatness of this device but she's totally sold on it. We joke about when dividing up the house cleaning work that, "I'll do the vacumming!" I highly recommend it!

We now have two albino hedgehogs at our house. I bought the first one (a male) and my daughter bought the second one (a female). We've been going pet crazy and buying pet stuff for them. My daughters are so happy. The only thing, is they mostly sleep during the day so they don't really do anything until about 10pm at night. That's about when the kids have to go to bed so they don't get to play with them much. They are interesting and cute and we wake them up and play with them anyway. Last night we put about 1/2" of water in the bathtub and let the girl romp around in it. She seems to like playing in the water for a little while then she gets board and wants out.

The hedgehogs love mealworms and they're about $4 at the pet store for about 35 large ones. I found on ebay a mealworm farm kit for $10 that's supposed to supply endless mealworms for next to nothing so I took the plunge. Mealworms are really the larval stage of the darkling beatle. So the process goes that the mealworms grow to the pupae state then to the beatle state, they lay gobs of eggs then die and the eggs hatch as the cycle goes. You put some bran or oat flakes in the bottom of a tub with a apple or potato slice every so often and that's about all there is to it. My wife's already wanting me to count all the worms to make sure non get out. Yeah right. I've been joking that I will be keeping the farm under her side of the bed.

So anyway, this pet stuff is what mostly has been keeping my attention lately.

I saw that RobotsAustralia was going to Pololu.com for some of his supplies and body plastic. I checked it out and what really took my notice was the laser acrylic cutting he was using. That seems very useful. Looks like a $50 minimum, tho, but could be cool for lots of exact, intricate, or many parts that need to reproduce exactly.

My truck broke down. I think it's the starter. I went to a few auto parts places and no one had it. My wife went to a place near her work, and they didn't have it either. I finally found one but wow, I didn't think it should have been such a problem to get a starter for a GMC pickup. I thought that was strange.

Our washing machine broke down. I've been trying to figure out the best one to get that will last the longest and be the most efficient. After talking with a bunch of people we decided to go with a front loader model. Uses less water & less electricity, the clothes come out dryer so the dryer machine doesn't have to dry as much saving electricity there too. The clothes are supposed to produce less lint since side loaders are supposed to be easier on your clothes, so your clothes last longer. Since it uses less water, we're hoping we won't have as many plumbing troubles as we've had in the past with clogs and slow draining. So it's more expensive but we're hoping that all those positives will make it worth while. I'll probably break down in a week! :-)

I still have a job but I'm wondering how long this company will hold on. Actually, the company has a military side that is doing well but our civilian side is doing poorly. We've had another layoff and this time it really hit close to home. I'm hoping they will move us to the military side or my time here doesn't seem to have a future. It's the best I have for now but I have my feelers out. There doesn't seem to be a lot of jobs out there so I'll probably go down with the ship. That's adding a lot of stress.

I'm wanting to work on stirling engines again. At work, me and another guy watched a bunch of youtube videos about them and I just keep getting the bug to play with them. It seems like they would make great little electric generators. Anyway, they are still on the back of my mind even though I don't seem to have time for them.

I'm still hoping that we can do the 3d vbs. I'll probably do a presentation of what I have come up with at our February church business meeting. I'm still hopeful it will work out. I've got a lot to do.

My mother in law got married. We filmed her wedding and I have to edit her wedding video. It's just another thing on the plate but I want to do it. I had a person call our house last night asking if we'd do their wedding video. Alas we turned them down and told them we are not doing it anymore because there's just no money in it. I really enjoyed doing wedding videos but it seemed we were making less than minimum wage so what's the point. Plus every once in a while there was always some weirdo bride-zilla bad apple that reared their ugly heads that really made you think it wasn't worth it. I'm glad I told the lady no, but I still have those fond memories and wish it could have worked out because most times I really enjoyed it.

I keep wanting to make electronic or robotic stuff but I just don't seem to have the time for it. Plus, after it has been a few weeks or months, all my good stuff seems to have been cleaned out of existence. It takes me so much time to locate it all again that by the time I have everything I need again (parts, pic burner, breadboard, etc) I no longer have the time for it again. It's like at one time I was wanting to build another grandfater clock rolling ball sculpture. I had the 6 foot frame built and the starting of the clock parts. I had the cpu board, electronics and even the software with multitasking and rf remote controller and i2c networking all all working. But then, life got in the way. Now it's just seems about impossible to get back to as everything has been moved around and I'm not sure where everything is anymore. Distractions are a killer of projects!

Some days I feel so smart and on the bleeding edge and other days I feel stupid and worthless. Is that normal? I may not impress anyone else, but some days I manage to do things that impress myself so I guess that's good enough.

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