Saturday, February 18, 2012

Learning Google Sketch Up

For the past 24 hours I've been using Google Sketch Up, a 3D modeling program, to build and arrange my living room. As a result I now have a sandbox to play with furniture layouts in the apartment. See the current layout, and several layouts I'm considering below.
 New Layouts:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Carspotting: The McLaren MP4-12C

I'm not a huge car-nut, but I do love seeing exotic sports cars and knowing at least something about them. The shapes and lines that exist only in the upper tiers of the automotive world are something that I appreciate immensely. So, today, as Bunny & I took a walk in the marina & pacific heights area of San Francisco, I was delighted to happen upon this McLaren MP4-12C, one of the nicest supercars to be released in the last few years (in my opinion at least).

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Projects

I'm starting some new projects this month, so I thought I'd just post them up here as a baseline.
First up is a model. Bunny bought me my Diamond Select Star Trek Enterprise 1701-D which is fantastic and about as detailed as I could hope for. Recently I was looking at models of the enterprise that people had built, and was astonished by what people can create; Anyway, my curiosity led to tracking down model kits and I found this:
It's a 1:1400 scale (18" built) model kit, molded in clear styrene plastic. The clear plastic is so that after it's built, painted, etc., the model can be lit accurately, but I have a different idea. Since I already have a highly detailed version, this one is going to be built as an "x-ray" enterprise. It's going to be lit from within, but not painted. My process is going to be using lots of clear LEDs and very thin wire. When the lights are turned off, it should still be fairly "crystalized", but flip the power switch, and it will glow brightly with at least a dozen light sources. I'm still sourcing the electronics for it, and should start building in the next couple weeks.

Next up is a slightly less involved hobby, but something that's probably going to become a part of my daily routine for a long time. About 5 years ago I made it a point to carry a pen with me every day. I started with a Fisher Space Pen, which was great but I also managed to drop it all the time since it was so small. Next up was my beloved Montblanc Starwalker fineliner. What a fantastic pen. It's spoiled me to basically any ballpoint, rollerball, or fineliner pen, EVER.

But, all of this has basically led to the realization that I actually have an involved interest in my writing instrument. Now, the Montblanc is absolutely the best pen I've ever used, but from the time I was a teenager visiting my grandparents, I always was fascinated by the Sensa pens sold at a kiosk in Charlotte Douglass International Airport. These pens had this squishy "plasmium" grip that basically molds to your fingers as you hold it. It's currently in my desk at work, but I'll put up a photo of my modest little pen collection in a follow-up.

So I've had lots of experience with what most people think of when they think about pens - something with a tip and ink that writes on paper. Last year, I started investigating a type of pen that was always something foreign to me - fountain pens. I had a set of calligraphy pens when I was little, but I didn't understand how to use them and what was so special about them. But then I found out that Pilot makes a disposable fountain pen called the Varsity. I bought a pack and found them to be extremely comfortable to write with. There are some significant differences writing with a fountain pen to a "traditional" pen (ironic that the fountain pen came first); most notably, the nib has to be oriented in a specific directly. In my research it's actually interesting that me, a lefty, since the way I hold a pen "pushes" against the paper, while a righty drags a pen from left to right. Fountain pens have a sharper tip than ballpoints, so left-handed people notice a tendency to tear paper as they write, not that I've experienced this.

To make my very long story short, I noticed a particular pen last weekend at the store Flax on Market Street, and looked it up online. The Lamy Safari is generally regarded as a "beginner" fountain pen, it also holds a reputation of being very sturdy and a good day-to-day pen. Without further ado, here is my new Safari with an extra-fine nib. It's glossy white plastic and fairly light, but feels great in my hand and writes so much better than the Varsity pen I've been using recently. But with all of the reading I've been doing, it's going to be hard not to experiment with other pens, inks, and nibs.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Next Level

Star Trek: The Next Generation is going high-def! On Tuesday I received the Star Trek TNG blu-ray sample release with 3 remastered episodes from the series. I actually haven't watched all three yet, but the first episode (the series pilot "Encounter at Farpoint") was nothing short of spectacular. I can't believe how night-and-day the picture quality is to the DVDs that I've fallen in love with over the years. It makes me so anxious for the day they start releasing entire seasons! Even the menu looks really great on this release: