Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The BrainPort


I've always found this electrical stimulation of the brain to simulate other senses very interesting. This product seems to be the first one aimed at the consumer market.

The basic premise is, for example, to let blind or visually impaired people "see" (to a limited extent):
  • Aquire visual data from camera(s) (perhaps stereo vision, though I don't know if they're that far along yet.)
  • Decode this visual data into a form the brian can understand as electrical current (this takes a great deal of research, which has been going on since the early 1900's.)
  • Stimulate another sense with the visual data (in this case, they use the sense of touch, on your tongue, since the resistance is lower there).
Ofcourse, they can use this device to augment other senses (for example, an accelerometer can be used for people with impaired inner ears.) Video game applications too I bet (well, someday, the device starts at $10K.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chillin' in the backyard

Me and Dani chilled in the backyard yesterday, even though it was kinda hot. Made Daiquiris and pina coladas (the Bacardi frozen canned kind, just add ice, rum, and blend, very convenient, very tasty), listened to some Floyd and Aerosmith. We were the only ones crazy enough to be outside, apparently, as none of the other neighbours were :)

Got the hose out to play with the dogs, and discovered a small hole in the hose. It made a damn nice refreshing spray, and positioned correctly, would sway with the wind and get you misted only 1/3 of the time, perhaps, very refreshing :) It's funny how the things that can be a problem (hole in hose) can sometimes lead to interesting solutions ;)

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I was chatting with the graduate secretary on the picnic tables in front of Essex Hall this lunch break. We chatted about books, vacations, etc, and a quite eloborate discussion on beer.

Talking about beer for like a half hour makes me want a beer REAL BAD RIGHT NOW. Plus it's fairly nice out (just a bit to humid.)

Really diggin' music! and the Alphabet of Manliness

I've been listening to full albums lately, rather than just a couple tracks here and there. Been listening to a lot of Floyd (kinda got hooked on vacation.) I'm trying to actually pay attention to the lyrics too, which I never really did before. There's some damn disturbing lyrics :)

Anyway, I've read a bit of this book so far, and it's pretty good (if you like Maddox's sense of humor). It's his book entitled "The Alphabet of Manliess" (torrent link).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Rice Lake '06- Plank Road

Well, this year we (me, Dani, Jenn, Steph, James, Jay, and Erin) went to Plank Road Cottages on Rice Lake.

What can I say.. the place was very.. rustic. It had that feel that it was made in the 1800's (which indeed it was).

It was hard to adjust to doing practically nothing for the first day or so. :) We had music grooving on one side of the cabin, and the other side attached by a very large screened porch, was the otherside playing "The Doors". Steph was quite obsessed with them . :) I brought the projector for movies at night (which we ended up using a white wall instead of the projector screen the owners were nice enough to let us use.)

The "Pontoon Boat" was fun. It was basically a large box, heh, wasn't quite what I was expecting :) It was nice because we just used lawn chairs and could all sit comfortably!

Some of the little things that added up:
- We played Shout About TV and Shout About Music. We switched teams a lot, and us guys even managed to win one!
-Erin's room was seperated by me and Dani's by a thick sheet of plywood, which Dani even took a picture over!
- We named Jay "Lohan". This comes from the fact that Jay is always a Drama Queen (like "Diaries of a Teenage Drama Queen" that Linsey Lohan plays in). He does liven up the party, though :)
- I got the name "Castanza". I'm not cheap overall, but I can be thrifty minded sometimes. When a $6 batch of Beef Jerky rang into the register at A&P, I'm like "Take that back!".
- We were convinced the place must have been built by James' dad, perhaps with help from my dad, thus it was named "SLANTY". The entire place was way, way, crooked ;) I honestly wonder if they purposely built it that crooked... perhaps they were drunk and had bad levels.
- We all hung out on the Cabin 7 side of the screened in porch, because the other side it felt if enough of us jumped, we'd fall through into the water.
- The toilets needed instructions!
- We made a Pirate Flag out of garbage bags and paper towels!
-We watched The Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" after some of us ate a good bunch of "special" brownies. The mood of the song matched the mood of the movie in most parts, and there were like dozens of perfect matchups (such as the creepy dialog in the background of Floyd's CD.)
- We watched a few movies throughout the week: Return to Oz, The Craft, Ice Age 2, the Jacket.
- We played quite a bit of Poker, and even a game of Mexican Poker (that never seemed to end! :) )
- A cute group of ducks (mother and babies) was always floating around the docks nearby our cabin.
- Steph and Jenn did quite a bit of knitting!
- Erin discovered a table she could use in her corner spot by the middle of the week. She managed to beat 60 pts in Wario Ware Touched, too.
- me, James and Jay got into an "Old school" game mode early in the week: The Legend of Zelda a Link to the Past, Chrono Trigger, oh my!
- Jay was really into his Trigun anime by the end of the week.
- We went to Boston Pizza on Friday night for my B-day!
- :( We got bad news on Monday: Dani's hamster died (my dad didn't put the lid to the aquarium on correctly, and one of the cats probably got at him..)) Dani pulled through it well though!

By the Gazeebo
-The first few nights we didn't see many starts because of the cloudcover, but on Thursday we layed on the docks and viewed the stars/moon a bit.
-I took Jay's notion and bought a pack of Colts Cigars. Very pleasant to smoke, especially at night.
- Jay jumped out of the docks into water by the Gazeebo, then bitched all next day that his legs were cut by seaweed.
- The last night we kind of scared off the Fisherman that were fishing by the Gazeebo. I think maybe in subsequent years (thinking about going to the Wiarton area sometime) I'll try fishing. Now that I think of it, good excuse to just enjoy some beer/cigar/etc and scenery with a chance of catching dinner.

On the Boat
- Chillin' in the middle of the lake, playing the Music game, where you had to think of an artist/band that started with the last letter of the previously guessed artist. You always seem to end up with N's, R's, E's, and S's. We also played a Movie variation.
- We accidentally travelled over the sunken railroad tracks, even though on the map it's marked with a big "X", meaning don't go there! We then got seaweed caught on the motor, which we managed to get off by putting the motor in reverse for a short time.
- I held my feet out of the boat when Jay was captaining the boat. Got him wet more than I did myself!
- We thought we saw a bottle in the lake (perhaps with a message in it?), but it turned out to just be a log floating.
- We tried to catch a bird... unsuccessfully.
- The owners liked our Pirate flag so much, that they took it off when we returned the boat, and put it on the door of cabin 7. They told us they actually had a real pirate flag in the basement, too boot!
- Jay got the girls drenched in when driving through some big waves on our way back to the cabin.

Making Our Mark
-One of the neat things about this place was previous tenants etched there names into various places in the walls. We added to the tradition and all added our names nearby the places we sat most often during the week. :)

All in all, we had a great time, despite some annoyances!

The girls by the Gazeebo.

Steph's chillin'.
Don't steal my rufflles! Betcha can't eat just one (errr... wrong chips)!
Guys by the Gazeebo. Notice I always have my beer mug in hand.. hmmmn.

Me and Dani chillin' in our room.
Ahh.... Beer.
Jenn has the Tina Turner hair going on here.
The owners liked our Pirate flag so much they hung it up on our front door the last day :)
We all carved our names into the place. There was some carvings as far back as '57.
Hrmm, this sign is a first for me.
I got a little excited about going on the boat, and was buggin' Dani and Erin a lot. I got this message. :)
The screened in area we spent a lot of time in.
The Pirate Pontoon!
The lonely beer by the gazeebo...
Toilets need instructions!
I rather enjoyed the Colts. I don't feel left out when smoking anymore!
Star Gazin'.
Nice view by the dock at night
Now docking!


Our landmark, the small lighthouse.
Chillin' on the boat.