To wisconsin

Mmm steakery. I’m going to see char this week. Now i’m in pittsburgh.

edit: whoops, I messed up my settings and the image didn’t get uploaded. Pretend you’re looking at an airport terminal restaurant called “The Steakery.” It was the first thing I saw coming off the jetway.


If you watch fluffy ‘making-of’ pieces on tv or dvds, you get the impression that most of the time in production is spent saying ‘action’ and ‘cut’. But the reality is much more boring than the puff pieces imply. Most me the time is spent waiting for things, like the lighting or the sound, or the actors. From my perspective, i’d say 66 percent of the time is waiting, 33 percent of the time is doing actual work. This isn’t to say we’re a bunch of lazy bastards. The director certainly works all the time. But given the number me things that need to be coordinated and checked, moving faster would cause more problems than it would solve


On a shoot today. It is very very cold and windy. But, i got donuts and donuts are delicious. My fingers are nearly too cold to text

mythtv upgrades

There are certain aspects of my mythtv PVR system I’ve been unhappy with. They are:

  • Low hum on all recordings. “hoommmmmmmmmmmmmmm”
  • Bad video output — the display flickers and you can see pulsating waves

Hums are usually a sign of an Audio Ground Loop. If two electronic components are at slightly different potentials, usually because they are plugged in to different sockets, an audio cable will actually create a complete circuit. A small amount of charge flows between the two components, and you hear a hum out of your speakers. Radio Shack makes a cheap doohickey called a Ground Loop Isolator that solves the problem.

Unfortunately whenever I tried using the Ground Loop Isolator, I would hear a different, even more annoying squeal. So for a while I lived with the hum. Today, after some experimentation, I discovered the the squeal occurs because the onboard sound jacks are close to the monitor plug. If I disconnected the monitor cable, the squeal would change! So I bought a 24$ sound card on clearance, positioned it far away from all the other jacks, and now there are no annoying noises coming out of the speakers.

As for the video problems, my PC->TV converter was the cheapest possible model. The next version up from the same company solved all the problems. The one I have now is a Grandtec (like my old one) but it has a little remote, supports more resolutions, and outputs to component as well as svideo. It seems scan converters is one place where it does no good to get the cheapest option (unlike 24$ sound cards).

Taco Kitty

When Char and I first got Sigmund, I ran around like a giddy parent telling everyone about our new little guy. One of my coworkers at MIT also has a cat or two, and so of course
we gabbed about utterly inane cute things cats do. She mentioned that she had an old cat bed that her current cats don’t use, and she said I could have it. I accepted, and we added it to the pile of things we hoped Sigmund would use. You can see it in this old entry. Sigmund did lie in it if you plopped him there, but he didn’t really go there on his own. We tended to put it in places he was going anyway to increase the chance that he’d learn to like the bed.

Char discovered that if you lift the bed up by the sides, Sigmund doesn’t move at all, and you can carry him whereever you want. Because of his weight, the sides fold up, and it looks like you have made a giant Sigmund taco. So char dubbed the bed The Taco.

As the months went by, Sigmund basically stopped using the bed. Like the hub, he just stopped using it after a while. But that’s how cats (and I assume children) are — you get them stuff and hope
they like it. Sometimes you hit (fishing poles!) and sometimes you miss (hub). I had chalked up the cat bed to one of those misses, perhaps because he didn’t like going for rides,
although I still left it around for the heck of it.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I caught Sigmund daintly testing out the cat bed last week. He put a paw or two inside, and then moved the rest of his (now fat) butt into the bed. He was still standing up in it, which looked pretty silly. After a minute or two of standing, checking for whatever cats check for, he gave it his approval. He plopped down, and napped.

Now he can be found in the bed from time to time, looking around or sleeping. This is of course terminally cute, and requiring of a photograph.

taco kitty