Monday, July 28, 2008

Worst Alcoholic Beverage Ever

So, I admit that I'm no expert on this subject; my drink experiences so far have been largely limited to things that didn't taste terrible by design. However, I'm here to tell you that "Tilt", an energy drink and malt beverage is the worst thing I've ever consumed. The lingering taste of vomit and cheap booze that this drink leaves is it's sole claim to fame. It is a lurid green color, the dyes persistent enough to turn your tounge green. Worse still, a can isn't enough to get you properly drunk: after practically chugging all 16 oz. in desperation, I'm still sober enough to write this blog post, and I'm a lightweight. I'm going to go back to my White Russians, Tokyo Iced Teas and Liquid Cocaine: at least they get me drunk, and I don't want to kill myself after drinking them.

--
Robert Alverson

m*lambda=d*sine(theta)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight

I enjoyed "Batman Begins" a great deal when it came out, and was impressed by what it brought to a franchise littered with horribly campy takes.  As such, I had high expectations for the sequel, but as the hype built up I became worried that the movie would fail to deliver on the expectations. Clearly I was in error, as The Dark Knight does not disappoint.

Like Batman Begins, The Dark Knight is in fact, dark.  It is a poignant tragedy, brilliantly acted, and downright awesome.  As many have said, Heath Ledger's performance is incredibly disturbing, and in many ways the Joker outperforms Batman in this film.  The pacing is fast, and I think it could have been taken down a notch to allow for some lulls in intensity.  The action sequences are actiony, the drama is dramatic, and between the two there isn't much time to catch your breath.  Overall it was an excellent and enjoyable film, and I highly recommend it.
--
Robert Alverson

m*lambda=d*sine(theta)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Abandoned Buildings

I have a bit of a thing for abandoned buildings.  I feel that its a good practical knowledge interest, because A. There are a fair number of them about, and B. it's useful to know how fast buildings deteriorate.  (They also play into my "what-went-wrong?" hobby.)

I got this article on "16 Abandoned & Decaying Hotels" in my feed and was particularly struck by the Aptera Beach Resort.  There is little information available online about its demise, but this blog post suggests that the damage is due to being partially demolished at some point.  It's rather interesting, as generally you don't have partially demolished buildings, as it costs money to demolish a building.  By the time that a person or company is ready to abandon a property, it is generally because they don't have the money to develop or maintain it.

I think it's pretty neat that the rebar is still tying the chunks of concrete together; a rough demonstration of how composite materials work at a macroscopic level.

--
Robert Alverson

m*lambda=d*sine(theta)

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Bike! (for real this time)

So, I have a new bike, it works super well and I love it.  Road tyres are awesome.  There is a UC strike all this week, so the normal shuttles and whatnot will not be running.  That means I'll be riding up a 800 foot elevation gain each morning.

--
Robert Alverson

m*lambda=d*sine(theta)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Delicious Data

"From your 75 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 6,806 items, starred 4 items, shared 131 items, and emailed 0 items."

On average, I process 226 discrete items per day in my feed. That's pretty cool.  The most items read in one day was 556.  About half of my daily intake is skimming the BBC and NYT international feeds, about a quarter is distributed among various small blogs, and the rest is taken by a few major blogs, such as Make and Lifehacker. 

--
Robert Alverson

m*lambda=d*sine(theta)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wanted

I saw "Wanted" over the weekend.  I thought it was pretty good for what it was (B action movie), but it was way more over the top than I had expected.  As Aaron noted, there were brains all over a wall within the first 5 minutes, and that remained a staple of the rest of the movie.  I think that it delivers pretty well on the premise of this xkcd: action movies need more action.  This one has plenty of action, blood everywhere, Angelina Jolie being somewhat attractive, and guns.  Now, all that comes at a pretty steep price: this thing is cliched like none other.  Not in the "haHA, external references" way either, but in the agonizing, sadly funny, "did they seriously just say that line?" way.  It's pretty terrible, and renders some otherwise climatic moments very silly.

If you enjoy action films, its worth seeing.  I wouldn't pay money for it though.

--
Robert Alverson

m*lambda=d*sine(theta)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Bikes

I've been trawling Craigslist for the past few weeks looking for a new bike. My current one is rapidly approaching a state where riding it becomes a liability on par with playing handball in the street. Currently the most functional parts of it are the wheels and the pedals, those being the parts that I've replaced from stock. (Although, the front tire is a 26x2.5, which is wide as all creation, and doesn't fit in the bus bike racks very well. The back is 26x1.5-2, so my bike looks a little dumb.) The cassette worries me, as it seems to be off-center, the front derailer blows something fierce, and almost everything attached to the handlebars is lose, as are the handlebars themselves (makes the handling a little sloppy). Scary, eh?

The damnedest thing about it is that I still love riding my bike, at least on the infrequent occasions that I can muster up the courage to do so. I can still bounce over to the bus stop in a matter of minutes, still bomb hills, and have a pretty ok cruising speed. So I've decided that I really do want a new bike, preferably not a terrible generic mtn bike, and preferably something suited to the riding I actually do, which is generally road riding.

Right now, building up my own new bike seems to be a reasonable option. I'll be able to keep my existing pedals, wheels, and seat. The rest of the bike is pretty trashed, and I dislike the frame as it's a little short for my gangly frame. I essentially need a new group and frame.

Baring that, the quick way to go is ordering a new bike. After doing some extensive comparison shopping in bike in my price range, I have a list of possibilities.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2008/bike_path/7000_series/7000/
I like this one the most overall, might replace stem and seatpost with solid components.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2008/mountain_hardtail/820/820/
Toss some 1.5-2 slicks on it and it would be pretty fun. Shock for when I do dumb things.
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/motobecane_elite.htm
Cheap as can be, and not a totally terrible bike.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2008/urban/sport_urban/su10/
No reviews? Nice lines, seems reasonable. The SU 2.0 is also an option, good reviews.


SS

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2008/urban/soho/sohos/
This thing just looks sick. Way out of the price range, but, lordy.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/messenger.htm
This one is in the price range. Sadly, I feel that SC is a little too hilly for a SS.

Also need a new helmet. But thats the comparatively easy part.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Old Bike

As some of you will recall, I picked up a free bike to fix up a few weeks ago. Since then, I've realized that this bike is incredibly French. It is so incredibly French that parts aren't commonly available, and haven't been since the late 70's. This means availability will only get worse as the bike ages, and since I want this to be a pretty straightforward ride, that's an issue. I'm not willing to pay for an expensive wheelset, given the rate of wheel thefts around here. More importantly, new parts machined for old bikes are pretty expensive. So, I'm looking at selling the vintage bike, and buying a new bike, hopefully for less than ~$400. (broke college student, etc.) I figure if i could keep a ~$100 bike (+$100 in components over the years, not including tubes.) running for some 10 years or so, I'll be able to get quite a bit of use out of something w/o plastic components.

***Update***

The old bike is now on CL. http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/739994390.html