Thursday, July 27, 2006


I've been to many cities in this our United States of America and I've fought injustice (vigilante style) in most of them but few tug at the heartstings like Austin. It's got that "je ne sais quoi" factor going for it. Ya never really think about why it's so good while you're there cause you're too busy feelin good about stuff. The city makes you have a good time like you have no other option. Tucked away amongst the interior is a major university which fuels the electric 6th street night life but trip over a crack in the asphalt and you'll find yourself squinting over the rolling hills of the greater Austin countryside. Take a ride or a drive and you'll be knee deep in gems such as Barton Springs, Hamilton Pool, and Lake Travis just when you think you've tired of the subdued yet beautiful colors of the river cut landscape. And did I mention the BBQ. We hit the Salt Lick every year and occasionally we have even had enough leg strength to haul our massive bellies out on the town afterwards.

I've been fortunate to share these experiences with such great people though. I'm sure I'm a tad more than a little partial to the town because of it. You can have a good time in most cities with the right people but it's a town like Austin that keeps ya comin back year after year. See ya next August A-Town.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Till we meet again my mysterious friend.

It was a sweltering day on the trail and the setting sun laid disorienting shadows upon the ground. A bead of sweat dropped upon my eye as I caught sight of motion up ahead. I approached the rock formation with hesitation. My curiosity was distracted slightly by a familiar feeling. "Fly away from this place" came the whisper from within. Logic forbade me from acting on my otherwise trusted instincts. An overactive imagination is a mark of childlike wonderment and should be held onto tightly. That thought rang with such force, I might as well have spoken it out loud. I brushed aside the tall grass to gaze about the battered face carved into the lifeless stone. What nature of body must the ground be hiding for you oh being of the wood? An age of his kind must have seen several of ours. It's expression bordered that of frustration and toil. Was the faint sign of life just moments ago a warning or a mistake? The trees rustled cautiously but I felt no wind. Suddenly the ground beneath my feet became slick and I lost footing. The hiking path cradled my forced retreat. The sky darkened and an eery mood set across the forrest. The clouds moved in as if on purpose. I knew I was being told to leave but by whom or what. Distant birds broke the silence with conspiring squawks. I turned but stood motionless. I had so many questions for you but knew the answers would not be easy to hear. I am but a steward of the land, forgive my intrusion. Till we meet again my mysterious friend.

And the search is over.

The battlesnake has lived a few places throughout his life. Mostly here and there and back again, but he hasn't quite found that little patch of the earth's crust to call home. "Where do I fit?" That is one of the more recurrent questions I've been asking myself lately. That interrogative is not easily answered however. There are many geographic, personal, professional, and psychological elements to consider before making such a decision. Maybe I'll try a little mind mapping in lieu of the usual pros/cons list. Looks like it's a better way of organizing one's thoughts into a more readily "felt" format.

But why go through the trouble when the answer to that which haunts my waking thoughts is so easily answered in Front Royal, Virginia. It's on a sign gosh darn it! Signs are to be respected and adhered to without question. When was the last time you failed to yield when staring down a metallic yellow triangle? Guys, ever walk into the ladies room cause the skirted stick figure didn't apply to you? Didn't think so.

Living there won't be so bad. The town does have more 7-11's per capita then any town in the cosmos. (I can't confirm that) And Shenandoah National Park is a stone's throw away. The Bomb will love that. Or maybe I'll move to Key West for the winter. Yeah man, screw signs!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

You can PIC your nose and you can PIC your friends but you can't PIC your friend's nose.

Problem: How do I drive a bunch of high current LED's and incandescent bulbs at variable intensities? And while I'm at it, drive a powerful dual brush 12V motor.

Answer: Slap a 16F870 PIC microcontroller on a perf board along with some 800 mA switching transistors and a high current optically coupled solid state relay. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

This board will one day fit into an arcade machine to control six groupings of various lights, one high current light display and a 12V motor (to rotate the arcade's monitor). I've programmed the PIC to put on quite the light display. Using a variable duty cycle PWM (pulse width modulated) signal, I can vary the brightness of each light grouping. This is helpful when fading in and out like a heartbeat. Stay tuned for the video