The amazing world of 3D, plus some other random stuff.

Remember playing with your Viewmaster when you were a kid? I had a red one, and I loved that thing. You'd drop in one of the circular slides, and the pictures inside would come to life in glorious, full-color 3D. Scooby Doo, Gumby and Pokey, Batman and Robin...I had a ton of them.

At the time, I had no idea how they worked, but when I was old enough to understand it, I was fascinated that your brain was capable of creating a 3D image from a couple of pictures shot at a slightly different angle.

Turns out there was even a bunch of cameras in the 50's and 60's that could do this. The Realist was probably the most popular one. You'd send your film off in the mail, and they'd send you back your 3D slides.

My wife and I have a wedding anniversary coming up, and since she's impatient, she gave me my present early. She bought me this antique stereoscope, the precursor to the venerable Viewmaster.

Some of the old cards that came with it are pretty cool, and for almost a century, it was the way people who couldn't afford to travel experienced the world. I liked the old shots, but I really wanted to take my own personal pictures. (No, not that kind, although I'm really surprised that Viewmaster porn never became popular back before the internet.)

Here's my first one, taken using the decidedly low-tech "cha-cha method." You lean your weight on one foot, take the picture, then you lean your weight on the other foot (while still looking through the viewfinder and keeping it as steady as possible), and take the same picture again. Slap them together in photoshop and print them out. It works like a charm.

You can even view them just by crossing your eyes until the two pictures overlap and form a third picture in the middle. Here's a shot I took of our back yard (click on it for a bigger version):

I am still fascinated by this, even after all this time. I don't know why. I can't wait to take some more of these sort of shots on our camping trips next month. In my search for some sort of slider bar for my tripod, I found out that Fuji is making a digital camera that takes these automatically. I also stumbled on a company that makes a lens you can put on your SLR, I'm seriously thinking about buying one. The benefit to both of these is that you can shoot moving objects since both shots are taken at the same exact instant.

On a completely unrelated subject, this google ad was served up on my site today, and it caught my eye:

I clicked on it, because it intrigued me. Here's what I got:

It makes sense to me now, but honest to god, before I clicked on it, I was wondering why anyone would have so much spaghetti that they needed some sort of tank to store it in.

Also, I'll bet this was a highly contested debate:

"Hi everyone, and welcome. I'll be your moderator for today's debate. One my left is a group of surfers who support legalizing marijuana, and on my right is ... absolutely no one. Surf's up!"

And lastly, what the hell is up with this cover, Rolling Stone?

I opened my mailbox this morning and almost puked. I've never seen the show, but apparently they are very messy eaters.


Let's Make a New Everybody Else Record.

A while back I picked up this great power pop CD by a band called Everybody Else and was blown away. Energetic, upbeat, make-you-want-to-dance-in-your-kitchen infectious grooves that really get to the center of what -- to me, at least -- this kind of music is all about. Even when they're singing about mortality and lost love, they make you feel happy about it.

Power pop is my guilty pleasure, mostly because it's a lot of fun to play drums to, but I enjoy a wide range of other music, too. It all depends on my mood. The ability of music to make me happy, make me angry, make me sad...that emotional musical roller coaster is something that I can always count on. If I'm feeling a little down, I can put on some music that will change that. It works in reverse too -- sometimes I might want to dip down into the darkness a bit even though I know it's not in my own best interests, and the perfectly chosen album or song can do that as well.

With this particular band, there is a song on their debut CD called "Button For Punishment" that I thought was brilliant. The studio version is very sparse and hauntingly beautiful; basically just a guitar and a voice -- but tonight when I went looking, I found a version that was even more sparse. Seriously, if I could do this, I would never leave my...um, tree.

Here's what I'm talking about:

I decided to go see if they had anything else available, and I found out that they're an indie band now -- their old label went belly up and it's been a few years since their first release.

I also found out that they've been raising money to record their next CD using something called kickstarter.com. Kickstarter is a site that allows people to set up different projects to be funded by the public at large. If the project sponsor meets their money-raising goals, the project gets the go ahead as "fully funded." These guys need help finishing up their first indie release. There's only four days left on their project, so check it out if you get a chance. Call it the frustrated musician in me. I like to see people make a living doing something they're passionate about -- and extremely good at.

So many friends and acquaintances came so close to making it big, only to be screwed over by either bad luck, their own record label or the music industry in general, that this method of raising money to fund recordings makes perfect sense to me. I think it's a fine way to change the music industry landscape, and allow the artists to actually benefit from the money their fans spend on their music.

I think it'll cut down on piracy too, since the fans will feel that the cash they shell out for a CD is going to the band members instead of into the pockets of some fat, old record company executive who doesn't give a rat's ass about a band unless they have a mega-hit single right out of the gate. Nobody at the label hears a single? Well, you had your shot. Forget about anything even remotely approaching artist development. Consider yourself dropped.

Maybe you don't like power pop music as much as I do, and that's OK. Maybe you just hate the manufactured bullshit you see cranked out of the American Idol machine and its ilk -- and the idea of supporting independent music appeals to you. That motive works for me. Either way, just take a few seconds to check out their link here.

I gave them a donation for purely selfish reasons. I dig their music, and want them to continue making it. I know, I know, there's a ton of places where my money could be better spent, and a dozen charities come to mind, but I refuse to feel guilty for indulging the musical monkey on my back. I don't know about you, but I can only give so much to wounded vets, abused animals and the united way before I want to stop worrying about the fucking world for a few minutes and just ... I don't know... maybe find myself a rock and roll band that needs a helping hand, as the old song goes.

It can't hurt, right?


Stupidity cuts like a knife.

If you remember my post from a bit ago about the bullshit with which the esteemed Cyrus Vance Jr. is trying to prop up his career, you know that I carry a small pocket knife, and I have for many, many years. It's a Spyderco, and it has a clip and a thumb hole so you can open it with one hand. Because you can open it with one hand, and because it locks open, a cop in a bad mood could, using this new ruling, confiscate it at best, and haul me away in cuffs at worst.

So I decided I would go to the Spyderco web site and see what else they had to offer. There was a button that said "Legal in NY" so I clicked it. Turns out, they were having a fantastic sale on a particular non-clip, non-locking knife and touted it as legal in the UK, even.

It was a really nice looking knife and *very* cheap. These knives usually start at around $50 and go up from there. So I was very happy to see this incredibly low price. So happy, in fact, that I immediately placed an order for two of them. You can never have too many, right?

They arrived yesterday, and I wanted to share some pictures with you. Here's a shot of the packaging. Very simple, yet elegant. You can see the brushed stainless steel body, the "spyder" logo and the thumb hole for one-handed opening:

Here's a picture of the knife with the blade opened:

It's razor sharp, and that's no exaggeration. I was able to shave the hair off my arm with it. The spring has a nice amount of resistance to it, so even though it doesn't lock, it turns out it's not a problem.

I would say that in almost all respects, it's a very well made and attractive knife, and exactly what I wanted. I do have one slight problem with it, however, and it's really my own fault.

The problem I have is this:

In my defense, nowhere on their website does it say that this particular model is manufactured for leprechauns.

Whoa. My hands are HUGE.

On the bright side, I've learned something from this experience. One, just because it's called a "thumb hole" doesn't mean it's an actual hole for your actual thumb, unless you are a tiny mythical being with proportionally tiny mythical thumbs. Two, determining relative scale and reading the fine-print can be important, and might save you money. And three, apparently size does matter.

My wife is such a liar.


That's some good Tequila. Lets go to my place.

I would like to go back to the topic of badly named products for just a moment. I've been seeing the commercial below pretty much non-stop recently and I think it's just a really bad name for a supposed top-shelf liquor product:

The first and most obvious connotation is that this Tequila would make me horny. Whether it would make me more or less horny than say, Patron, I don't know. If I didn't have a dirty mind, perhaps Hornitos would sound more like the name of a kid's snack. Maybe some kind of Dorito-branded corn chip in the shape of a horn, like Bugles, only with more added Mexican flavor.

But then I figured that since I don't speak Spanish, maybe a Hornito was something I've never heard of that was tasty and smooth. So I looked it up.

While I was correct in that it was something I've never heard of, I was incorrect in the assumption that it would be something tasty and smooth, because a Hornito is "a small, beehive-shaped mound built up from clots of molten lava ejected from an underlying volcanic tube," and that is decidedly not smooth nor tasty in any way.

There's a place in Chile called Hornitos, but that looks pretty dusty and unappealing. Although I think if I lived there, I'd be hitting some sort of liquor pretty hard.

Then there's this ghost town.

So I am mystified. If anyone has an idea of why the hell they would name a premium tequila this, please let me know. Until then, I will continue to hate this commercial on your behalf.


My next recurring nightmare.

My friend Vidna took this picture last weekend:

When he sent me the pic, his only comment was, "What are those things sticking out of the front of his face? Guns?" He's totally right. Tell me that doesn't look like something that should be running around on Tatooine.

Or maybe destroying Tokyo:

Look at those claws. Those freakin' eyes. That has to be the ugliest bug ever. It was completely empty, and light as onion skin. Vidna had no idea what it was either, so I told him to send me the picture and I'd find out. I figured it was the skin left by the nymph stage of... well... something, but I had no idea what.

I know there's a few smarty-pantses out there who already know what it is, but I'll admit I had to google it. I started googling "clawed insect" and "crab claws on bug" and I was coming up empty. Then I googled "empty shell of bug with claws" or something close to that, and got a hit. Turns out it's a cicada nymph exoskeleton. Jesus. Just look at it. Could that thing get any uglier?

So I did some reading, and apparently being a cicada means you live a pretty shitty life. First, you're so ugly that you stay underground for 17 years sucking juice out of a root. That's like the bug equivalent of being unemployed and sitting in a crappy apartment with no TV, eating ramen noodles all day. For 17 years.

Then, you finally get up the nerve to come to the surface. You look around and see the butterflies flitting by, and think to yourself...soon.....soon I will be beautiful and free like them! You grab onto a tree and strain at your exoskeleton, and you hear it crack -- and you feel the cool, summer night air rush in. You finally emerge triumphant, ready to be all you can be, and ....

you look like this.

I guess as long as you stay away from mirrors, it's all good. Besides, the females look just like you so you know you've got a decent shot at getting lucky. You have to set the bar pretty low to be a loser cicada. So you suck it up, do your best impersonation of Brian Johnson singing a high C over and over, then you mate, and then you die.

17 years down the crapper so you can honk your vuvuzela for a few days and have sex with something that's as ugly as you are.

And if that's not bad enough, there's this final indignity.

What I want to know is, how does it leave everything behind in such perfect condition? Right down to the antennae and the legs. I wish I could get undressed like that every night. I'd never had to iron another shirt as long as I lived.