Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Summer That Wasn't

So, it's September.

The mornings are getting colder, the coffee's tasting better, and my morning bus is crammed with school kids (Red River College students mostly).

With only three weeks left until Autumn, the question I'm hearing from everyone is "Where did Summer go?"

Summer's gone, kids. Dead and buried. Lament not the untimely passing of the season (in other words, quit your fuckin' whining!).

In addition to the near-constant whining, I'm getting sick of people playing "Armchair Meteorologist". We have an unseasonably cool, wet summer and all of a sudden everyone's a climate change expert. Please.

Let us embrace the coming of Autumn.

Speaking of summer being over, I thought I'd take a bit to reflect on my time away from the blogosphere. All things considered, I had a pretty productive summer despite my financial problems (no mad money = no mad science).

To recap:

Microwave Gun: My fascination with directed-energy weapons (yes, it's supposed to be hyphenated) came to a head when I discovered plans for a cheap microwave gun (aka maser). Of course, these "plans" didn't include any sort of safety precautions for the user, and failed to take into consideration that the gun's target might actually be moving. So, I started tweaking the design (on paper, CSIS, on paper) and came up with a vastly improved design that could be built rather inexpensively (comparatively speaking) using a 10000 watt commercial microwave oven available on eBay.

Unfortunately, my secret weapon was not to be. Funny thing about microwaves... they reflect off of metal. In order to penetrate metal (and further increase the destructive power of my "North End WMD") I'd need to combine the microwave energy with charged particles (say, hydrogen), which is a bit beyond my capabilities at present. So, as it stands, I'd have one heck of an anti-personnel weapon, but it'd be essentially useless against anything else... The project withered on the vine.

Shortwave Radio: I ordered a new radio, a Redsun RP2100, and have been having a blast listening to a number of stations my little Kchibo KK-9803 can't pick up (such as Radio Damascus), or picks up weakly (such as Deutsche Welle). The sound from the RP2100 is phenomenal, and can literally fill a room... and a neighbourhood, much to my neighbours' chagrin. Then again, I imagine they're getting used to such things by now. I can't tell you how many weird looks I get while listening to Radio Havana Cuba or Radio Damascus as I do my yardwork...

I also picked up a couple of add-ons for the RP2100 - a SSB (single side band) decoder, which lets me listen in to Ham traffic (et cetera) , and a DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) adapter, which lets me listen to digital shortwave broadcasts. Fun fun fun. Gotta do something when you have no internet at home. Been taking my smaller SW radio (the aforementioned Kchibo KK-9803) with me a lot (when I'm out for a walk, sitting around at The Forks, etc) too. What can I say, I'm hooked!

Computers: Believe it or not, I took a break from computers in general. Instead, I opted to spend the few nice (and some of the not-so-nice) days we had outdoors, fishing, chasing women, or walking around the park. Of course, I needed something to do on the rainy & miserable days, so I spent a little bit of time resurrecting Cinq, my Sun Ultra 5 workstation that had previously died a death that can only be described as "spectacularily horrible". Removed what was left of the PSU, replaced with one that was salvaged from a (blarg) Windows PC, and threw in a new hard drive. Runs like a champ.

Women: Spent a bit of time chasing women. Caught a couple. Threw 'em back.

Speakeasy: No work was done on the Speakeasy. No money for tools or materials. Work is slated to begin in the spring when I will have money.

Alcohol: Surprisingly, I took a break from my usual experimentations in this regard (and mixed drinks in general). I did try a few new beers, but nothing that'll make it into regular rotation. Ended up sticking with my usual Gulden Draak, Guinness, Erdinger, and/or Paulaner.

Career: Was asked to contribute to no less than three fledgling magazines! Not mentioning names (yet) as nothing's been finalized, but if all goes well, I'll be a published writer again. Not quitting the day job just yet, though...

It's been a busy month-and-a-half. Summer has come and gone, and I'm looking forward to a great Autumn. I'm looking forward to blogging semi-regularily as well.

Incidentally, there may be a surprise coming in the next couple of months... but we'll deal with that when the time comes :)