May 30, 2004

Are you on the "Standard American Diet"?

I read today in Linda Berry's Internal Cleansing that a person on the Standard American Diet holds eight meals of undigested food and waste material in the colon, while the person on the high fiber diet holds only three. Which one are you? No, don't tell me.

Posted by torque at 8:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2004

Organic Oatios, better than Cheerios

We've been getting Oatios at Andronicos since #1 started solids, and I'll have to admit, they were never my favorite. They used to be white and have really sharp edges to them. Strangely, #1 seemed to like it. All that has changed. They've set a new standard for micro-donut shaped oats cereal. The new Oatios taste great! Sonja says, "good, likeable texture". I would say that they taste even better than Cheerios - certainly better for you. It's made of organic whole oat flour, organic oat flour, organic brown rice flour, organic evaporated cane juice, organic oat bran, sea salt. Pretty reasonable.

Posted by torque at 9:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 28, 2004

Ahh, the tongue ring

Can you believe that in April 2004, Overture had 37814 searches for "tongue ring(s)"? That's really something.

Posted by torque at 5:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dremel Multipro

Amazon is the best place to buy a Dremel by far! I thought for sure that that I could get a good deal elsewhere. No, check Froogle. With free shipping, nothing even comes close. Sheesh, they even have a low price guarantee. Just be careful with the model numbers. I'm going for the Dremel 3956.

  1. Dremel 3956-02 Variable Speed MultiPro Super Kit With 77-Piece Accessory Kit - $71.24
  2. Dremel 3962-02 Variable-Speed MultiPro Tool Kit - $59.99
I'll also be getting some cup burs from Sante Fe Jewelers Supply.


Where not to get it: Newark InOne for a whopping $161.02. Oh man, these guys are pirates! You would have to have beyond a 50% discount with them to even get close to Amazon. What's up with that. Maybe you get two-for-one? They aren't the most expensive... or are they? I think $12999.00 is a typo.

Posted by torque at 1:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 26, 2004

Command GPS in Mercedes

I'm interested in who manufactures the Command GPS system for Mercedes Benz. Anybody know? I found a few links on installing the system, as well as a firmware update but virtually nothing approaching full details.

Posted by torque at 5:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 25, 2004

60K service

I need to get 60K service on my Toyota Camry. I did some sleuthing for authorized service centers close to Stanford, and found three that could give me a ride home. The confusion? Price. It isn't standard at all. At first I was just going to take it to Toyota of Palo Alto, where I got a quote of "about $1000". On a hunch, I called a couple other places and got quotes ranging from $299.99 to $444.99. Here's what I have so far:

service centeraddressphonedistnotes
Toyota Of Palo Alto690 San Antonio Rd
Palo Alto, CA
650.494.21003.0Eileen says it'll cost ~1000, can give ride to Stanford. I spoke to Val at the service department: $850.
Toyota 101525 E Bayshore Rd
Redwood City, CA
650.365.50006.3444.99, anytime this week (check if ride), spoke to Al, replace engine oil/filter, drain plug gasket, fuel conditioner... too much, platinum spark plugs, nuts and bolts, fuel tank. May need a flush. The will determine that if needed, $129.95. You don't need to replace the timing belt until 90K.
Toyota At Sunnyvale898 W El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA
408.245.66407.2299.99 basic, 699.99 premium (transmission/cooling flush), recommend timing belt replacement 349.99, platinum spark plugs 11.00 each, usually 10 miles will give ride.

Ok, I'm getting a bit concerned. Tustin Toyota in SoCal has a coupon for 60K service - $294.65 including one day car rental.

Posted by torque at 1:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tin and Zinc Whiskers

All lot of times when we deal with electronics we think that things will last forever, or at least several lifetimes. Of course, mechanical parts wear out, but electronics? Looking for information on electroplating this afternoon I landed on NASA's Tin and Zinc Whisker Photo Gallery. The gallery has a series of close up images on whiskers that form between capactitor plates and relays. Over time, these can cause shorts with serious implications (think Phoenix Missles and F-15 radar systems). Jay Brusse has a related article on zinc whiskers being "cited as the root cause of costly computer system failures". In addition, the zinc filaments, with diameters in the micrometers (thousandths of millimeters) when knocked off could be breathed in. These whiskers can grow as fast as 1 mm/year. Why zinc? Zinc plating is often used to protect against corrosion. Interesting, I bet that in some cases, whacking the electronics does make it work better because it knocks the filaments off. You can bet, though, that the trunk of the filament serves as a base for even faster growth next time, so that the electronics fails more and more until you give up and throw it out the window.

Posted by torque at 1:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2004

Waters & Kraus mesothelioma verdicts

A Google search afternoon for Waters & Kraus asbestos verdicts ended up at my site. Of course, they only show you the victories. Courtesy of John at VerdictSearch, here's what I found.

dateawardresultcase typecasecourtstatedescription
3/12/2004n/a Verdict-DefendantProducts Liability; Asbestos, Toxic Torts - AsbestosRobert Crowley and Ann Crowley v. Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc.Dallas County District Court, 95thTX Plaintiff Robert Crowley, 58, a former construction worker, learned that he had contracted mesothelioma in 2002. Crowley had worked in a variety of plants over his work life, including a Massechussets...
2/2/2004n/a Verdict-DefendantToxic Torts; Asbestos, Products Liability - AsbestosCharles Richard Keefe and Kathleen Keefe v. CertainTeed Corporation, Capco Pipe Company, Kaiser Gypsum, Bondex International, Inc., The Flintkote Company and Georgia-Pacific CorporationTarrant County District Court, 96thTX In 2001, plaintiff Charles Keefe learned that he had peritoneal mesothelioma. His father had worked at a variety of industrial and commercial sites where he was exposed to asbestos fibers between 193...
7/21/2003$7,500,000.00 SettlementToxic Torts; Asbestos Jo-Etta Richardson, individually and as personal representative of the estate of Austin Richardson, deceased, Aaron Austin Richardson, Danielle Richardson, a minor, and Bobby Sue Landry v. Du Pont, Carlock Gaskets, Georgia Pacific, Goodrich, KCG, and Texaco CorporationOrange County District Court, 128thTX Plaintiffs' decedent Austin Richardson, 50, worked in a variety of industrial plants as a welder and a shipfitter from the late 1960s and into the 1980s. During that time he was exposed to asbestos pr...
6/27/2003n/a Verdict-DefendantProducts Liability; Asbestos Jessie Clancy, Dana Clancy, Ismael DeLeon and Ray DeLeon v. Kelly Moore Paint Company and Sherwin Williams CompanyTarrant County District Court, 67thTX Plaintiffs Jesse Clancy, 62, a paint contractor, and Ismael DeLeon, 72, a retired drywaller, worked with paint products produced by Kelly Moore Paint Company of San Carlos, Calif. and Sherwin Williams...
4/14/2003n/a Verdict-DefendantProducts Liability; Asbestos Pamela Ward, individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Jimmy Ward, Deceased, Morgan Ward and Michael Ward v. BP Amoco Corporation, Garlock Sealing Technologies L.L.C.Montgomery County District Court, 9thTX The plaintiffs' decedent, Jimmy Ward, 53, was an employee of BP Amoco Corp. from 1968 to 1993. Until the late 1970s , he worked as a roustabout, performing a variety of jobs at Amoco-Old Ocean, a refi...
10/31/2002$2,749,130.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Product Liability, Products, Negligence, Malice, Punitive DamagesWade Freeman, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Jerry Freeman, Deceased; Kevin Freeman and Lynette Freeman v. Quigley Company, Inc., et al.Dallas County Court at Law No. 2 TX In August 2000, Jerry Freeman was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He died of the disease in April 2001, at the age of 62. His estate and three adult children, as plaintiffs, alleged that he had developed...
7/25/2002n/a Verdict-DefendantAsbestos; Wrongful Death, ProductsRobert Dalbec, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Margaret Dalbec, Deceased v. Kelly-Moore Paint Co., Inc.Hunt County District Court, 354thTX A lawsuit claiming that exposure to a joint compound caused a Duluth, Minn., housewife's mesothelioma has resulted in a defense verdict for manufacturer Kelly-Moore Paint Co. The estate of Margaret ...
6/13/2002n/a Verdict-DefendantAsbestos Thomas Love and Janet Love v. Kelly-Moore Paint Company Inc. Orange County District Court, 163rdTX An Orange County jury on June 13 found a paint manufacturer not liable for a dry waller''s mesothelioma. Thomas Love worked as a dry waller for 30 years. Love alleged that, in that time, he was exp...
6/11/2002$1,700,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffToxic Tort; Wrongful Death, MaliceLavell Moore, Individually and As Personal Representative of the Heirs and the Estate of Willie Moore, Deceased, and Lance Moore and Lanita Moore v. Brown & Root Inc. n/k/a Kellogg Brown & Root Inc.Angelina County District Court, 159thTX An Agelina County jury awarded $1.7 million to the family of a man who contracted mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos-containing products at a paper mill. However defense counsel contends tha...
6/10/2002$1,710,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Wrongful Death, Gross NegligenceLavelle Moore, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Willie Moore, Deceased v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc.Angelina County District Court, 217thTX For the fourth time in less than two years, Brown & Root was found grossly negligent in a death due to asbestos exposure. An Agelina County jury awarded $1.71 million to the family of a man who contra...
4/30/2002$5,550,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Wrongful Death, Negligence, Gross NegligencePatti Kilough, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Herrel Wayne Kilough, Deceased v. Brown & Root, Inc. n/k/a Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc.; Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. f/k/a Brown & Root, Inc.; Brown & Root I, Inc. n/k/a Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. and Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc.Harris County District Court, 127thTX After two weeks of trial, a Harris County jury returned a verdict against Brown & Root saying the company acted with conscious indifference to the rights, safety and welfare of its employees for faili...
1/29/2002n/a SettlementAsbestos; Products, MaliceJudy Radtke, individually and as representative of heirs of the estate of William Radtke, deceased v. Able Supply Co., et al.Travis County District Court, 126thTX The family and estate of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer after years of alleged asbestos exposure as a drywaller settled the last of their claims in Travis County against a manufacturer for ...
1/24/2002n/a SettlementAsbestos; Products, MaliceOlivia W. Greer, individually and as personal representative of the heirs and estate of Lewis R. Greer, deceased; Collen Joyce Long, individually; and Pamela Hooper, as personal representative of the heirs and estate of Elmer M. Long, deceased v. Able Supply Co., et al.Travis County District Court, 126thTX The families and estates of two men who died of lung cancer after years of alleged asbestos exposure in their drywalling work settled the last of their claims in a Travis County case on for an undiscl...
11/8/2001$3,022,500.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Products, Wrongful Death, SurvivalDorothy A. Lehmann, et al. v. Able Supply Co., et al.Milam County District Court, 20thTX A Milam County jury awarded more than $3 million for injuries that resulted from three men's exposure to asbestos. The trial was designated 26,342B and included four plaintiffs and one defendant. Th...
10/23/2001$2,819,320.00 SettlementProducts; Negligence, Gross Negligence, AsbestosMervyn Skinner and Rosalie Skinner vs. Burns International Services Corporation f/k/a Borg-Warner Corp., Georgia-Pacific Corp., and Honeywell International as successor-in-interest to BendixTravis County District Court, 353rdTX In December 1998, Mervyn Skinner was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos exposure. Skinner, who was 65 by the time of trial, worked part-time for Shearer...
10/15/2001n/a Verdict-DefendantAsbestos; Products, Wrongful Death, SurvivalJacqueline Cichocki, et al. v. Dana Corp., Dresser Industries, individually and as successor-in-interest to Harbison-Walker Refractories Co., and Owens-Illinois, Inc.El Paso County Court at Law No. 3 TX In the fall of 2000, Theodore Cichocki was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. He worked at Inland Steel in east Chicago for 40 years, from 1952 to 1992, and claimed tha...
8/30/2001$3,100,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Products Henry Plummer and Eula Plummer. v. ACandS, Inc. and GarlockDallas County District Court, 160thTX Plummer served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 through 1977 as a machinist mate aboard numerous vessels and submarines where he was exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. In 1999, he was diagnosed with pleu...
8/28/2001$5,250,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Products, Wrongful Death (Any WD Case), Survival, Negligence, Gross NegligenceImogene Harrison, Individually and as Representative of the Estate of Harvey Harrison, Debra Grimes, and Linda McClure v. ACandS, Inc.Travis County District Court, 98thTX The plaintiffs claimed decedent was exposed to asbestos while he worked as a maintenance mechanic for 26 years at Lubbock Power & Lighting Co. in Lubbock. He was diagnosed with fatal mesothelioma in S...
8/21/2001$11,100,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Malice, Punitive Damages, ProductsRobert Hutchison and Joyce Hutchison v. Combustion Engineering, Inc., and Owens Illinois Inc.Nolan County District Court, 32ndTX A Nolan County jury awarded a retired insulator-helper and his wife $11.1 million, including $6 million in punitive damages, for mesothelioma that he allegedly contracted as a result of exposure to as...
7/31/2001$6,102,222.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Toxic Tort, Products, NegligenceJoseph Breaux and Deane Breaux v. North American Refractories Company Dallas County District Court, 162ndTX Joseph Breaux worked as a pipe fitter and welder, and from 1966 until 1973, was exposed to asbestos insulation products at the Avondale Shipyard and on oil drilling platforms at industrial sites throu...
7/27/2001$725,000.00 Verdict-MixedToxic Tort; Asbestos, Wrongful Death (Any WD Case), Survival, Negligence, Punitive DamagesNancy Moore, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Robert Moore, Laura Aslin, Mary Harwell, Margo Knutson, Kristi Lee, Robert Lee Moore, Jr., Karen Lacewell, and Jeri Wood v. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation and Brown & Root, Inc.Morris County District Court, 76thTX Robert Moore worked at the Lonestar Ammunition plant in Lone Star, Texas from 1967 to 1969. He also worked at the Lonestar Steel facility from 1977 to 1985. While working at Lonestar Steel, Moore was ...
6/29/2001$1,000,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffAsbestos; Products, Negligence, Gross Negligence, Punitive DamagesBoyce Innerarity and Carole Innerarity v. ACandS, Inc., et al.Dallas County Court at Law No. 1 TX Boyce Innerarity and his wife, Carole, both retired and in their 70s, brought suit last year against a number of manufacturers of and companies using insulation containing asbestos. Innerarity had wor...
5/30/2001n/a Verdict-DefendantProduct Liability; Toxic Tort, Wrongful Death (Any WD Case), Gross Negligence, AsbestosDonald Gilbreath, as personal representative of the heirs of LoyPeteGilbreath, deceased, and Larkin Orsburn, as personal representative of the heirs of Jerry Dale Orsburn, deceased v. AK Steel Corporation, formerly known as Armco, Inc.Cooke County District Court, 235thTX The two men worked for more than 25 years using asbestos products to produce machined parts for the oil drilling industry. When they became ill and died, their estates pursued claims against their emp...
3/5/2001n/a Verdict-DefendantToxic Tort; Medical Malpractice - Wrongful Death Agripina Saenz as Personal Representative of the Estate of Rafael Saenz, Mike Jimenez and Elvia Jimenez v. Owens-Illinois, Inc., Kaiser Aluminum and North American Refractories CompanyNueces County District Court, 319thTX ...
1/1/2001$4,010,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffToxic Tort; Asbestos, Medical Malpractice - Wrongful Death, NegligenceShearon Shelton vs. Brown & Root Smitth County District Court, 241stTX ...
8/14/2000$5,425,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffToxic Tort; Negligence, Medical Malpractice - Wrongful DeathVickie Looman, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Robert Looman vs. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical CorporationGregg County District Court, 124thTX ...
3/27/2000n/a Verdict-DefendantToxic Tort; Asbestos Gwendolyn Grey Luce, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Robert Thomas Luce, Deceased vs. AC&S, Inc., et al.Milam County District Court, 20thTX ...
2/14/2000$19,300,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffToxic Tort; Gross Negligence, Wrongful DeathGlenda Durham, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Heirs and Estate of Robert Lee Durham, deceased, et al. vs. Able Supply, Inc., et al.Gregg County District Court, 124thTX ...
6/14/1999$340,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffToxic Tort Charlene Hardwick, Individually and As Representative of the Estate of John Dwight Hardwick and John Dwight Hardwick, Jr. vs. Owens-Illinois and Guard Line, Inc.Cass County District Court, 5thTX ...
5/24/1999n/a Verdict-DefendantToxic Tort; Asbestos, ProductsJessie Monroe Riggs vs. Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Grayson County District Court, 15thTX ...
1/25/1999$100,000.00 Verdict-PlaintiffToxic Tort; Negligence, Product LiabilityPhillip Bartlett vs. Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Orange County District Court, 163rdTX ...
Posted by torque at 2:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 23, 2004

Yoshino No. 1 - Food of the Gods

The Taipei Times has a nice piece this morning on Yoshino No. 1, a variety of rice that was grown exclusively in Taiwan for Japan's Emperor Hirohito about 70 years ago. Yoshino No. 1, said to be the best rice in the world, is extremely difficult to grow. Wind, rain and fertilizer all affect cultivation. Harvesting is critical, if it is too late, the taste changes and the rice is only fit for chicken feed.

Yoshino No. 1, unlike other rice varieties, is said to have an appealing smell and unique taste when it's properly prepared. It has a sweet flavor that stays on the palate even after a lot of chewing. Its grains are rounder and plumper than other varieties and are crystal clear, with a white, heart-shaped dot in the middle. Japanese growers claimed the shape of the dot was similar to the sun rising on the nation's white flag and thus cherished the rice even more.

Cultivation actually ceased in World War II, as the cost of production exceeded returns. It was not until 1969 that a Hakka farmer named Peng Yong-chuan reintroduced the seeds. Today six farmers, all mentees of Peng, know how to cultivate this rice. Peng had this facinating anecdote to share:

...when the rice was harvested, Japanese officials would pick a dozen or so local young Japanese girls to pick and package the rice. These young girls were required to take a bath and change into new clothes prior to performing their duties, as a token of their respect for the emperor. They would peel off the husks on the rice, by hand, one by one. No Taiwanese girls were chosen for the job, perhaps because of security concerns.

A traditional Japanese ceremony would be held to bless the rice and to plead for special blessings from the emperor. The handpicked 10kg or so of Yoshino No. 1 rice was then shipped from Hualien to its final destination -- the Emperor's Palace in Tokyo. Whatever was left over was then presented to the Japanese Colonial Governor's Palace in Taipei.

Now that is special rice. Where is rice grown in the United States? Mostly (80%) Arkansas, California and Louisiana. While the U.S.produces only 2% of the world's rice, it is a leading exporter, sending 40% to 60% of its crop overseas. To learn more, check out the USA Rice Federation.

Posted by torque at 6:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2004

Get myself sequenced?

How long before I can get my DNA sequenced? I'd like to carry a copy around in my wallet. At a party last night, one of the guests was remarking on a huge DNA sequencing project in Iceland. GuardianUnlimited has a special report on the privacy issues bubbling up. As you can imagine, it is quite controversial. The company running the show is deCODE genetics who some accuse has been unfairly profitting from the Icelanders generosity.

How does sequencing work anyway? I found this cool, though a bit dated, Flash tutorial on sequencing DNA at PBS. Hmm, looks complicated.

Posted by torque at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2004

Los Altos real estate

Los Altos is probably one of the best places to live in the Bay Area - if you can afford it. The Silicon Valley Real Estate Report has a nice blurb on Los Altos. Interestingly, amongst 10,611 residential units: 9,386 single-family homes, 346 attached homes and 876 multiples there are exactly 3 mobile homes. Downtown is quite charming and the schools first class. Los Altos Online has a lot more information, including a list of realtors. As an update to the previous post, according to a California Associaton of Realtors press release, "the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during the first quarter of 2004 were: Manhattan Beach, $1,292,0000; Los Altos, $1,257,360; Beverly Hills, $1,250,000; Malibu, $1,112,500; Burlingame, $1,100,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,090,000; Laguna Beach, $1,087,500; Calabasas, $1,050,000; San Marino, $990,000; Orinda, $963,500." Where's Palo Alto? Only $792,000. The full report, from Q1 2004, is available here. A comparison from Q1 2003 is also present. Most interesting? Los Gatos. The median sales price went from $669,000.00 to $927,000.00 (~39%).

Posted by torque at 3:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Alas, Palo Alto - #2

Palo Alto was trumped by La Jolla in the latest CNN/Money listing on the most expensive housing markets. For a 2,200-square-foot house with 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, a family room and a two-car garage, you can expect to pay $1,362,375 in La Jolla. Alternatively, you could save the extra dough for a BMW Z8, a Mercedes-Benz CL600, or a Porsche GT2, and live in Palo Alto for $1,179,000. For those who are less fortunate, there is always Beverly Hills for $1,097,250. Hmm... anyone know any good agents in Binghamton?

statecityavg sales price, 2003
CALa Jolla$1,362,375
CAPalo Alto$1,179,000
CABeverly Hills$1,097,250
CASan Francisco$971,750
CTNew Canaan$963,750
CANewport Beach$916,000
HIKailua Kona$906,250
CAManhattan Beach$904,500
CASan Mateo$883,500
CASanta Monica$812,875
CASanta Barbara$801,750
CAMonterey Peninsula$763,000
CALong Beach$740,375
CASan Rafael$710,667
CAOakland/ Montclair$705,317
CASanta Cruz$690,192
CAPalos Verdes$685,250
VAAlexandria City$675,000
CAWalnut Creek$657,000
CASan Jose$644,000
FLMiami/Coral Gables$588,000
NYQueens, (Bayside)$583,000
NYBriarcliff Manor$555,055
NJBasking Ridge$538,000
CAMission Viejo$530,225
NJPrinceton Junction$515,000
FLKey West$502,301
NYSuffolk County/North Shore, LI$490,600
MABarnstable/ Cape Cod$485,250
CASanta Rosa$480,712
VAMcLean/Fairfax County$471,500
PAPhiladelphia County/Center City Philadelphia$466,225
CAThousand Oaks$464,500
CARancho Bernardo$458,300
NYYorktown Heights$451,233
CASanta Clarita$440,500
CASan Diego$425,332
VAReston/Fairfax County$413,975
NMSanta Fe$407,875
NYStaten Island$396,500
PADoylestown/Bucks County$388,500
CAGrass Valley$352,875
MDBethesda/ Chevy Chase / Montgomery County$345,050
VALeesburg/Loudoun County$323,625
PAMontgomery County/Conshohocken$322,000
PADelaware County/Media$319,725
PAWestchester/Chester County$317,250
MNSt. Paul$311,000
CARiverside/ Ontario*$300,250
ILCarol Stream$298,875
MIAnn Arbor$296,800
NYOrange County$290,666
MDAnnapolis/ Anne Arundel County$289,650
MDColumbia/Howard County$289,275
MDMetro Baltimore$288,475
COHighlands Ranch$282,825
MIDetroit Metro$282,600
FLFt. Lauderdale/ Coral Springs$282,334
ILOrland Park$281,000
NJOcean County/Toms River$275,950
FLDaytona Beach$272,250
FLWest Palm Beach$268,300
NJAtlantic County/Abescon$266,333
VALake Ridge/Prince William County$264,450
VAManassas/Prince William County$264,450
FLBoca Raton$260,833
MDWestminster/Carroll County$258,793
CTLitchfield County/Torrington$258,625
FLPort Charlotte$253,487
PRPuerto Rico$251,500
MIAuburn Hills/Lake Orion$247,875
COFort Collins$247,093
MDBel Air/Harford County$245,750
MDEastern Shore$239,737
FLFt. Myers$235,625
NYRochester/ SE Suburbs$229,600
LANew Orleans$229,350
UTSalt Lake City$226,941
MITraverse City$224,833
NJCamden County/Cherry Hill$224,300
FLClearwater/St. Petersburg$223,625
KSOverland Park$223,414
WIFox Cities$221,825
MIGreater Lansing$219,825
MIPort Huron$217,975
MDHagerstown/ Washington County$212,521
MIMt. Pleasant$211,600
MNSt. Cloud$211,567
LAShreveport/Bossier City$207,500
MIFlint Metro/Grand Blanc$206,925
NJTurnersville/ Gloucester County$206,000
NVLas Vegas$204,975
MIMidland/ Saginaw/ Bay City$202,000
MDWaldorf/Charles County$199,624
OHGreater Cleveland$199,000
IADes Moines$196,600
MIGrand Rapids$195,415
MOSt Louis$193,466
MOKansas City$192,250
KYNorthern Kentucky/Florence$187,300
LABaton Rouge$187,125
TXSan Antonio$186,725
WIGreen Bay$186,475
TXBryan-College Station$186,000
NENorth Platte$185,666
VANorfolk/ Virginia Beach$183,300
IACedar Rapids$175,723
IDCoeur d' Alene$173,800
COColorado Springs$170,505
TXCorpus Christi$169,027
INSouth Bend$162,633
MIIndian River$162,000
SDSioux Falls$161,475
ARLittle Rock$161,125
SDRapid City$160,225
WIFond du lac$157,633
ARFort Smith$157,100
MNMoorhead/ Clay County$155,800
TXEl Paso$155,750
INFort Wayne$155,075
WIEau Claire$146,400
TXFort Worth$144,250
KSWichita/Sedgwick County$142,875
IASioux City$139,500
KSTopeka/Shawnee County$136,266
OKOklahoma City$132,670

Posted by torque at 2:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Overture keywords galore

I found a nice little snippet on keywords on Speechbot. Other big search terms, besides asbestos based keywords, are those on conference calling, and time and attendance software.

Here are some term count/bids from Overture:

termcountmax bid
personal injury lawyer9905100.00 (next 6.16)
florida personal injury lawyer219230.03
debt consolidation58411526.51
personal injury lawyer
time (and) attendance593616.06
time attendance software386615.51
miami personal injury lawyer167415.02 (next 6.16)
conference call4081714.71
conference call services335714.62
conference call service151714.40
web hosting php mysql2090312.02 (next 5.36)
angiosarcoma117710.88 (next 0.10)
refinance mortgage33486410.58
life insurance10771939.99
time attendance system11579.51
term life insurance662009.00
vinyl chloride10928.88
credit card debt500878.51
real estate los altos7467.00
patent lawyer21365.50
real estate woodside514.51
real estate palo alto7464.00
real estate menlo park2103.61
free conference call12883.50
ceramic machining1983.10
restaurant software47092.92
real estate atherton2242.47
real estate atherton2242.47

Posted by torque at 2:18 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


If you haven't yet, you should check out HP's SpeechBot. SpeechBot is "a search engine for audio & video content that is hosted and played from other websites." It uses speech recognition to generate the data files. Nice! So far 17517 hours of content have been indexed from a variety of stations and sources. Check it out. It's not perfect. But it isn't too bad.

Posted by torque at 9:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The top asbestos verdict - 2003

VerdictSearch has a facinating top 100 of 2003 from which I extracted my top asbestos verdict of 2003: $250,000,000 in Whittington v. U.S. Steel settled by Randall A. Bono, The Simmons Firm, East Alton, Ill.; Michael Brickman, Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, Charleston, S.C. has the scoop (4/10/2003).

The jury in Madison County, Ill., found that U.S. Steel Corp. failed to warn Roby Whittington, 70, of the risks it knew were associated with inhalation of asbestos fibers. The jury awarded $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages to Whittington, who suffers from mesothelioma, an incurable and invariably fatal cancer solely caused by asbestos inhalation.
Note that "all of the other defendants settled except for one trial winner." So the real number could be much larger.

The second largest case last year, also mentioned in the article, was Croteau v. Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc.. $47,136,325 was awarded in this case. The plantiff's attorney was Jerry Kristal, Weitz & Luxenberg, New York. In this case, Robert Croteau, 54, "alleged that his exposure to asbestos while employed at power plants owned and operated by Con Edison and Long Island Lighting Co. caused his mesothelioma." Weitz & Luxenberg have a short New York Times article on the case up on their site. In Brown v. Honeywell Corp. in 2002, Weitz & Luxenberg won $53.5 million for their client from the automotive brake manufacturer.

Posted by torque at 1:23 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

IMP and Sashimi

I found, quite by accident, a very nice article on IMP Foods (San Mateo, CA). As you might recall, I wrote about them a few weeks ago. Glenn Sakata is the GM at IMP Foods. According to Sakata, handling sushi- or sashimi-grade fish "requires manpower, expensive equipment, an efficient delivery system, discipline, knowledge, experience, dedication and beyond." Oooo.

IMP is a sister company of Japanese-owned seafood wholesaler International Marine Products in Los Angeles. It does $20 million in sales annually and is primary source for seafood for about 75 percent of the Bay Areas sushi bars including Ebisu in San Francisco, Kirala in Berkeley, Chaya in San Francisco, Seto Tempura in Sunnyvale and Akane in Los Altos. You can't buy directly from them, though you can purchase fish from them indirectly at Mitsuwa in San Jose, Nijiya in Mountain View, Suruki in San Mateo and Tokyo Fish in Berkeley.

Many companies say all sushi-grade fish is the same quality, but Sakata disagrees. When a fish arrives at IMP, a thermometer is used to check its temperature. For most fish, the temperature should register 37 degrees, just above freezing and below the level that promotes the growth of toxins and pathogens, Sakata says. The tail meat is cut to check color, and a long probe is stuck into the body to extract a cross-section to determine texture and fat content.
As Sonja had conjectured, indeed, there are different grades of sushi-grade fish. At IMP, seafood is either sushi-grade No. 1 (excellent) or sushi-grade No. 2 (good) and No. 2 is sent back to the supplier. (Wait a second, how does this work?)

This is a facinating piece, you'll just have to read the rest of it. There is a lot of good stuff. I'll close with something interesting though:

Diners and consumers should be aware that there are no state or federal regulations regarding what can be called sushi grade. That determination is made by individual seafood dealers based on subjective assessments of factors such as texture, fat content and color. As a result, fish that one dealer may label as sushi grade another might dismiss as sub-par.

With sushi-grade, you are dealing with both sensory and safety issues, says Michael Hernandez, chief of the seafood safety program for the food and drug branch of the California Department of Health Services. Its the smell, the color, the taste, as well as safety considerations with parasites and toxins.

With regard to food safety, California seafood processors and dealers are required to assess their product and develop plans to ensure the fish is safe to eat raw, using guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But because those plans are tailored to each dealer and are different for various types of fish, safety plans can vary widely.

For instance, FDA guidelines recommend that all fish to be eaten raw, other than tuna, first be frozen to kill parasites. But California regulations require freezing only if parasites are found. (Tuna is exempt because its not prone to parasites.)

In the United States, human parasitic infections from seafood are rare, according to the National Academy of Sciences. In California, incidents of illness from parasites, toxins or bacteria from raw fish also are uncommon, Hernandez says. Still, because few foods have zero risk, he adds, consumers who plan to eat raw seafood should patronize reputable seafood stores and restaurants that turn over seafood stock frequently.

Posted by torque at 12:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 20, 2004


I found VerdictSearch today. VerdictSearch claims nearly 100,000 verdicts and settlements. It's probably where I would look if I were looking for a lawyer for something very specialized, especially for something like Mesothelioma. They charge heavily, $129 per day. Some of their verdicts are posted on Texas Lawyer, though back articles are by subscription only. The most recent case was that of Crowley v. Kaiser Gypsum, No. 02-11183-D in the 95th District Court, Dallas County. It was a win for the defense. The defense attorney was Jennifer Judin, Dehay & Elliston, Dallas and the plaintiffs' attorney David C. Greenstone and Jeffrey B. Simon, Waters & Kraus, Dallas.

Posted by torque at 9:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mesothelioma and the law, an academic perspective

Deborah Hensler is a professor of law at Stanford University and co-author of a number of Rand studies on asbestos litigation. In a semi-recent article published June 2002 in the Texas Law Review, she states that "at least 500,000 asbestos workers and their family members have brought claims against one or more defendant corporations." That's a lot of people. Through 2000, U.S. insurers have paid more than $20 billion to resolve claims. Estimates of the final cost are as high as $200 billion.

The chart below shows the number of claims filed against five major companies. You can probably guess where we are now - four years later.

The problems in the U.S., though, are no match for those in the UK. The BBC recently reported that "more than 500,000 non-domestic premises currently contain some form of asbestos." 5,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases in the UK each year.

Posted by torque at 5:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

About Kaygetsu

If you've been following my blog, you've probably already heard about Kaygetsu, the Sakuma's latest culinary attraction. Kaygetsu means beautiful moon as well as September, when many think the moon is most beautiful. Two Kyoto-trained chefs, Katsuhiro Yamasaki and Shinichi Aoki, work magic in the kitchen. (The kaiseki style originated in Kyoto.) Toshio Sakuma continues to refine his 30+ year art at the sushi bar. The menu was spun together by these three as cuisine "that not only satisfies appetite, but also delights the mind and the spirit." They don't have a website yet, so hopefully this post will tide you over until you can get to Kaygetsu.

Here's the menu. Keiko notes that the dinner menu has changed slightly but is generally the same. If you have an update, please email me or post a comment.

Lunch menu
Sashimi Lunchassortment of fresh sashimi20
Kaygetsu Lunchprawn and vegetable tempura and fresh sashimi23
Chicken Teriyakishiitake mushrooms, asparagus, house-made teriyaki sauce15
Hamachi Teriyakiyellowtail, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, house-made teriyaki sauce15
Tempura Moriawaserice cracker-coated fried prawns, seasonal vegetables13
Yasai Tempuradeep fried seasonal vegetables11
Served with rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, and a side dish

Una Jusliced unagi with house-made sauce over steamed rice14
Chirashiassortment of fresh sashimi over sushi rice15
Tekka Donburislices of fresh tuna over sushi rice15
Sushi Lunchten pieces of your favorite nigiri sushi22
Served with miso soup, pickled vegetables, and a side dish.

Tempura Udonwhite wheat noodles with deep friend prawns and seasonal vegetables14
Yasai Tempura Udonwhite wheat noodles with deep fried seasonal vegetables12
Served with pickled vegeteables and a side dish. Served cold with condiments or as a hot soup.

Ice cream sampler7
House-made ice cream or sorbet3
Early Summer: Nine-course omakase menu75
Saki zuke (starter)sesame tofu with sea urchin, fresh octopus with vinegar flavored jelly
Suimono (clear broth)steamed minced scallop with white fish and shiitake, clear broth
Tsukuri (sashimi)assorted seasonal selection
Yakimono (grilled dish)grilled black cod, glazed with saikyo miso (white kyoto miso), yuzu flavor
Agemono (fried dish)tempura prawns, fried buckwheat noodle with seaweed wrapping
Taki awase (slow cooked dish)chilled tender abalone, root vegetable, kabocha squash and Japanese greens
Sake cha zukerice with clear fish broth, topped with grilled salmon, iura, seaweed, and wasabi
House-made yuzu sorbet
Seasonal Japanese dessertred bean in crystal clear mochi, strawberry/green tea sauce
Early Summer: Six Five-course omakase menu55 45
Saki zuke (starter)sesame tofu with sea urchin, fresh octopus with vinegar flavored jelly
Suimono (clear broth)steamed minced scallop with white fish and shiitake, clear broth
Tsukuri (sashimi)assorted seasonal selection
Agemono (fried dish)tempura prawns, fried buckwheat noodle with seaweed wrapping
Sake cha zukerice with clear fish broth, topped with grilled salmon, iura, seaweed, and wasabi
Seasonal Japanese desserthouse-made yuzu sorbet cherry blossom mochi

Kaygetsu Restaurant
325 Sharon Park Drive
Menlo Park, CA  94025

Lunch: Tuesday thru Friday, 11:30 am - 2:00 pm
Dinner: Tuesday thru Sunday, 5:30 pm - closing (last reservation at 8:30 pm)
No gratuities necessary. 16% service charge automatically added.


  • Gloria Hsu has a detailed review (5/9) on a number of items from the dinner á la carte menu (which I do not have here). Hmm, interesting, sashimi with gold flecks?
  • Jane Knoerle has a review (5/5) in the Almanac News. Here the nine-course omasake is listed at $75, and the five-course at $45. It's mainly on lunch and á la carte items.
  • Dave Eisen has a review (4/27) of the five-course omakase. "Everything was carefully prepared and beautifully presented. Subtle flavors, well-designed. Good fish."
  • Foodlover wrote up another (4/26) on the five-item set menu. This is probably the more updated version of the six-item set menu on this post. It looks as if the only difference is that the clear broth Suimono is no longer served and the yuzu sorbet replaced with a cherry blossom mochi. Also noted, the nine-course omakase is now ten dishes for $90. Someone get me an updated menu!

I am in no way shape or form affiliated with or endorsed by Kaygetsu. I do not guarantee this information, though it is correct to the best of my knowledge. If you have any updates, just comment! Finally, I haven't even been there yet, though I hope to be able to take Sweetie there one of these days.

Posted by torque at 3:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Macor distributors

A number of Macor distributors are online, though, annoyingly, Corning's website does not list the links. I compiled what I could - hope that it turns out to be useful to someone else out there. Note that Leed Plastics has been purchased by PlastiFab.

Accuratus Ceramics Corp.
14A Brass Castle Road
Washington, NJ 07882
PH: 908-689-0880
FAX: 908-689-8794
Larry Treusch (

Circle Fabrication, Inc. (website down)
P.O. Box 153
Holcomb, IL 61043-0153
PH: 800-291-4440
PH: 815-562-9620
FAX: 815-562-9622
Nancy Nichols (

Technical Products Inc.
P.O. Box 189
Hubertus, WI 53033
PH: 800-869-2008
PH: 262-335-3635
FAX: 262-335-3606
Gregg Gumness (

Astro Met, Inc.
9974 Springfield Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45215
PH: 513-772-1242
FAX: 513-772-9080
Frank Gorman (

PlastiFab, Inc./Leed Plastics Corp.
793 E Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021-2105
PH: 800-842-4593
PH: 909-596-1927
FAX: 909-596-3020
Karen Aguirre (

Morgan Advanced Ceramics, Inc.
Fairfield Site
26 Madison Road
Fairfield, NJ 07004
PH: 800-811-4942
PH: 973-227-8877
FAX: 973-227-7135
Kevin McAloon (

Ceramic Products, Inc.
P.O. Box 105
275 Hillside Avenue
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
PH: 800-887-3622 outside NJ
PH: 201-947-0336
FAX: 201-947-1773
Susan Marino (

San Jose Delta Inc.
482 Sapena Court
Santa Clara, CA 95054
PH: 408-727-1448
FAX: 408-727-6019
Rosemary Chavez (

Posted by torque at 3:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 19, 2004

Asbestos lawyer or mesothelioma lawyer

According to Overture , in April 2004 there were 2640 searches for "asbestos lawyer" and 6755 for "mesothelioma lawyer", 1249 for "mesothelioma lawyer california". Interestingly, none of the top hits really lead to a list of lawyers, although they seem like they should. Ideally there should be a list of lawyers along with how they were doing in terms of wins versus attempts. Whose gonna make this? Probably a good place to start is in California. The closest thing I found is the Asbestos News site - but this doesn't give you a list, it gives you a form to fill out to "contact a lawyer". Sneaky huh?

Posted by torque at 5:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Macor - machineable glass ceramic

Macor is a machineable glass ceramic produced by Corning. It has a DC volume resistivity at 25° C exceeding 1016 ohm-cm. That puts it in the same category as sapphire in terms of resistivity. It can be machined with ordinary metal tools and requires no firing after machining. There are only eight distributors in North America. Astro Met in Ohio has a price list posted online. It ain't cheap. 1/16" is probably the right thickness for my application. A 3"x3" block cost $51. The closest one to me is San Jose Delta.

Posted by torque at 5:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Unbelievable - Gmail swap

Someone actually went through the trouble of setting up an organized gmail swap. That's really something.

Posted by torque at 4:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


As you can see, the DCR-HC1000 isn't a camera, it is a camcorder. A 3 CCD camcorder. Robin Liss reported early last week on Sony Japan's release of the DCR-HC1000 at 176,000 yen, or approximately $1,554.50 as of about now. 3 CCD camcorders (and cameras for that matter) have three imaging sensors, one each for red, green and blue allowing for much richer, vibrant and accurate colors. Each imaging sensor on the DCR-HC1000 is a "1/4.7 in. 1070K pixel CCD, with 690K effective pixels for video". Incidentally, these are the same CCDs as the ones in the DCR-TRV950. Here's the brief press release.

Posted by torque at 12:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 18, 2004

Buying precious metals

My specifications: 0.050 in. wire/rod, 1 ft. in length.

metalsourcecodeprice ($)
gold (99.99%)SurepureAu-wire051-01202.60
palladium (99.9%)SurepurePd-wire051-01265.00
platinum (99.95%)SurepurePt-wire051-01443.60
platinum-iridium (90/10)SurepurePt-Ir-wire051-01442.80
silver (99.95%)SurepureAg-wire051-0140.00

I also found New England Precision Griding's Quick Wire Program, which specializes on medical devices. No pricing though. They have all sorts of crazy things. Probably not the right place for me.

Posted by torque at 5:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gmail ups ante!

Woo woo! What will Hotmail and Yahoo do now?

Ok, ok, it could be just a temporary bug. Though, Google is reputedly giving their own employees 1 TB.

It was just a temporary bug. Drats.

Posted by torque at 4:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 17, 2004

For the time already past is sufficient...

How should we live, in light of Christ's example? Today's reading from I Peter 4 is very practical, especially I Peter 4:1-5... "because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased to sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh for no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God." What would it look like, if I truly lived no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God?

We had dinner with one of my colleagues tonight. And, as more often than not, ended up talking about things we could do business-wise. "What can we do to make money," I asked. Why? At the core of it, to be honest, is that I want to be self-sufficient - of course, forgetting that God provides all in the end, our health, the air we breathe, the time that we have. God is the ultimate provider - this enables us to live for Him. If I am the ultimate provider, then I don't have time to live for Him, I have to live to provide so that the future can be secure, so that we can avoid "suffering", send the kids to good schools, eat healthy organic food, go to Kaygetsu every once in a while (ok, maybe once), and upgrade my digital camera. Self-sufficiency is one of the lusts of men, you might know it as "power", the power to control the future, the power to dictate my own terms of living. As long as my heart is pursuing this, how can I live for God? I cannot.

Posted by torque at 9:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Illegal with storage active

When debugging labview programs for the 6430, you might get stuck in with an "illegal with storage active" error. This happens when the device is expecting to store data but you are trying to give it commands that alter, for instance, the buffer size. I have to admit, when I first ran into this I just got frustrated and rebooted the machine. The asterix in the upper right hand corner tells use that it is in storage mode, hence the error. To get out of this, you need not turn the machine off. Just press LOCAL (to get out of remote operation) and then STORE and then EXIT. Whew.

Posted by torque at 12:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Time to buy NuPrep... again

I'm working too slow, already we have to get yet another shipment of NuPrep. In the past I have purchased NuPrep from Rochester Electro-Medical just based on price. Over the last month I've noticed that their e-commerce system is consistently down. That in combination with their disorienting website is really cause for concern (don't go there if you are epileptic). What's up with that? Anyway, now you can only buy by fax, which is just wierd and a pain. They could at least use Paypal. For a case of 12 tubes, they charge $73.00 ($6.08 ea.). $71.00 for three cases - thought that is a bit excessive. Prices are given without taxes and shipping and handling (which can be a big deal). UPS Ground is $9 for 1 case.

sourcesizeprice ($)price per unit ($)
Rochester Electro-Medical16.756.75
Rochester Electro-Medical1273.006.08
Rochester Electro-Medical36213.005.92

Sigh... I'll probably get yet another case. With shipping and handling it works out to $6.83 a tube. Still considerably cheaper than everywhere else. D.O. Weaver & Company makes both NuPrep and Ten20 Conductive paste.

Posted by torque at 12:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2004

Movable Type, Adsense and the commercial license

I started investigating Movable Type 3 this evening and had a chance to re-read some of the licensing agreements. As some of you might know, I started Adsense way after I started blogging, and I'm not sure why but it didn't really occur to me to check the agreement to make sure that I didn't need to be under a commercial license. I don't. At least for the new agreement. Here's the quote, from How You Can Use Movable Type.

“Non-Commercial Purposes” means use of the Software by an individual for publishing on a personal blog site on a single sever that does not directly or indirectly support any commercial efforts. Use of the Software for any purpose by any non-individual entity, including but not limited to any commercial entity, corporation, non-profit organization, educational institution, governmental body or group, is not permitted under this Agreement. Affiliate or associate fees that are earned by a personal blog site and are payable to a single individual and that are earned through activities incidental to the main purpose of the site are permitted under the Non-Commercial Purposes of this Agreement.
Hmm, so if I start a mesothelioma blog solely to earn Adsense fees, that would probably count as a commercial endeavor. But if I keep blogging for fun and adventure, it'll probably be ok.

Posted by torque at 11:02 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

May 15, 2004

Running to be the President

It says in Article II, Section I, that

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.
which means I won't be eligible to be the President until 2012, though that doesn't mean I can't run. What does it take to run president anyhow? Scholastic (Scholastic?) has a step-by-step guide. Here's a facinating article on what not to do in preparation for becoming president - don't be a sitting member of Congress. I think one should probably be governor first.

Posted by torque at 9:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Meeting Keiko

What an amazing coincidence. A few days after my post on Kaygetsu, Sonja actually ran into Keiko at the Stanford Shopping Center. They chatted for a bit after which Keiko offered my wife a card and invited her to visit.

Posted by torque at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2004

Making images from labview charts

I had a hard time figuring out how to generate an image from a chart in Labview. The supplied help pages were seemingly helpful, but difficult to decipher once you really try to read it. So, my pain, your gain, here's a tutorial.

Let's start with an arbitrary waveform, say sine.

  1. Open a new vi and right click on the block diagram. Choose Input and then Simulate Signal. Accept the default.
  2. Right-click at the Sine output terminal and then select Create followed by Graph Indicator. You'll generate the graph icon.
  3. Right-click the graph, and then select Create followed by Reference. This is the key.
  4. Right-click on the reference, and select Create, then Method, then Get Image. You'll generate a box labeled "WFGraph". Note that it isn't connected to anything.
  5. Connect the WaveformGraph to the upper-left hand corner of WFGraph.
  6. Connect the Error Out of Simulate Signal with the Error In of WFGraph. This is needed so that the image is generated after the sine is made, not before.
  7. Right-click on blank area and select All Functions, Graphics & Sound, Graphics Formats, and then your choice of graphic formats to write in. I prefer PNG myself. (Yes, it took a while to find these...)


  8. Finally, hook up the image data terminals together, and you should be ready to go. Here's what the finished diagram should look like:


Run it and you should be able to save something that looks like this:


Beautiful, no? Size is dictated by the front panel size.

Posted by torque at 4:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Blogger error 550 - permission denied

Since Blogger was relaunched, I've noticed that I've been unable to create new blogs. I finally figured it out today. It has to do with archiving. When publishing a new blog, archiving is turned on by default. However, no matter what the setting is on your root directory, it'll give you a funky error, which looks like:

550 2004_05_01_: Permission denied on file:2004_05_01_
I think it has to do with not being able to access the 2004/05/ directory, which of course, with a new blog, does not yet exist. I'm not sure why it couldn't just create the directory. A simple hack is to turn off archiving, which I did... that'll allow your blogs to post.

To fix the archiving, after creating your blog, go to Settings then Archiving. Fill out the Archive Path, URL and filename, making sure to create any directories as necessary. Select an Archive Frequency and then Republish. It should work now.

Posted by torque at 11:12 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

May 13, 2004

Secondhand mesothelioma - a verdict

The Saint-Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Tuesday that the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a $5 million judgement on secondhand mesothelioma. Stephanie Foster died at age 43 from mesothelioma resulting from exposure while a toddler in California 40 years ago. Her father, Robert Foster, worked as a machinist on missiles at Aerojet and unknowingly exposed her to asbestos dust on his work clothes coming home.

Verdicts for secondary asbestos exposure are "becoming more and more common," said Ted Gianaris, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. "In our office, we have been representing some young women with the disease, and they are almost always the daughters of tradesmen, mechanics or laborers."

The $5 million judgement consisted of $3 million for wrongful death, $2 million for pre-death pain and suffering, and $119,000 for lost wages and medical expenses. How much do you think Gianaris' firm was paid? Ted Gianaris works for the Simmons Firm, which handles nothing but asbestos cases.

"We currently have about 1,400 cases," Bono said, "and we are not the biggest asbestos firm. But we are the biggest firm when it comes to mesothelioma."
An article on the original judgement can be found at - from the looks of it Aerojet made some pretty big mistakes. The article (12/2002) also gives some statistics on number of cases:
The Foster case was one of about 300,000 asbestos-related cases now before state and federal courts, experts say. And that number is expected to grow at a rate of more than 50,000 new cases a year as people who fear they were exposed to cancer-causing asbestos -- in many cases decades ago -- but may not even become aware of the health risks.

Posted by torque at 12:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2004

Google going banner?

I got this in the mail today:


Google is very pleased to introduce a new feature to your AdSense account.
Image ads

Now, in addition to text ads, you can choose to show highly-targeted image ads on your web pages. Unlike traditional banner ads, Google's image ads are contextually targeted to the content of your page, providing your users with a high impact, high value advertisement - and providing you with the opportunity to earn more revenue.

For the full details about image ads, please read our What's New page at

How to contact us

If you have questions or comments about this new feature, or about the AdSense program in general, please email us at One of our specialists will be happy to help.


The Google Team


Posted by torque at 11:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blogger templates

The new blogger templates are very nice. I have a couple favorites, but I think it won't be long before everyone starts using the same nice templates. So, where else to go? Fortunately, folks have been hard at work on this front, here are a few links I found.

Blogspot has a variety of fun templates updated each day. A lot of them are animated in moderately tasteful ways. I'd look here first.

Martijn runs, as in "No Initial Public Offering", and, as a photographer-webguy, has put up some visually appealing templates. My favorite one is the Easter Island one.

For you spider-fans, check out Sony Pictures' Spidey-templates. That's smart marketing.

Point of Focus has some fun nature-related ones, though I'm not as keen of the color scheme. Templates are linkware however and there are terms and conditions.

Posted by torque at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google blog

How about that, Google has an official blog now! The first post was at 11:40 AM on Monday. Nothing really juicy yet though. CNET has the scoop.

"Google Blog" attempts to capture the casual feel of a typical Web log. "We're going to post stuff here, regular bloggy things," writes Evan Williams, Pyra's founder and now Google's Blogger program manager. "What Larry had for breakfast. What Sergey thinks of that Hellboy movie. Which Dawson's Creek character reminds us most of Eric."

Posted by torque at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2004

Acquisition update

The source-acquisition system seems to be working properly now. Sometimes the response from :FORM:ELEMents? is slow, so it is important to make sure that GPIB Read does not timeout, which was what was happening. Unfortunately, labview is less than helpful in these instances, providing only a "generic file I/O error". Also, uploading the waveform is slow, since I do it in blocks of 25, communicating with GPIB each time. This can be optimized substantially, though will not affect actually acquisition. The best I was able to achieve was about 1.9 ms. Only two things really make this worse, voltage autoranging (in the case of a current source) and auto-zero. Voltage autoranging makes the timing very erratic, on average it is about 2.7 ms, but can go up as much as 26 ms when the machine is thinking. Auto-zero is not so bad in terms of stability but will add a little more than 2.5 ms to the measurement.

To summarize:

scenarioδt (ms)
all off, just volts, SREal1.857
all off, all functions,SREal1.901
all off, all functions, ASCII1.901
auto filter on (1/5%), rest off, all functions, SREal1.901
repeat filter on (1), rest off, all functions, SREal1.901
median filter on (0) rest off, all functions, SREal1.901
current autoranging on, rest off, all functions, SREal1.901
voltage autoranging on, rest off, all functions, SREal2.724
autozero on, rest off, all functions, SREal4.422

You can pick up the raw data here.

Posted by torque at 3:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

From tab-delimited to HTML table

Stephen Travis' tab-delimited file converter is inspirationally clean and useful. It allows you to take a tab-delimited string of text and convert it into an HTML table. The underlying code is quite straight-forward and nothing magical - but still, thumbs up for making a clean interface. Now what I really need is an MT-plugin that does this. Oh, and also missing is a preview, which can be done with Javascript and a CSS div rewrite.

Posted by torque at 2:35 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Who is Nachum Kedar?

Wired's Super Organics article had a single paragraph in the introduction on Israeli tomato grandmaster Nachum Kedar.

But the quest for a longer-lasting tomato didn't end there. As the Flavr Savr was stumbling (Monsanto eventually abandoned it), Israeli scientist Nachum Kedar was quietly bringing a natural version to market. By crossbreeding beefsteak tomatoes, Kedar had arrived at a savory, high-yield fruit that would ripen on the vine and remain firm in transit. He found a marketing partner, which licensed the tomato and flooded the US market without any PR problems. The vine-ripened hybrid, now grown and sold worldwide under several brand names, owes its existence to Kedar's knowledge of the tomato genome. He didn't use genetic engineering. His fruit emerged from a process that's both more sophisticated and far less controversial.
Based on how it was written, I expected the rest of the article to give more information, but his name never shows up again. Who is Nachum Kedar?

His website at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem sheds a bit more light. Nachum Kedar, a.k.a. Mr. Tomato, was born in 1920 in Vienna, Austria. Receiving his Ph.D. at Hebrew University in 1958, he continued to lecture there, becoming Associate Professor in 1969, Professor in 1976, and Emeritus in 1988. Ruth Ebenstein, in 1991 [1], described him as "an affable, balding, bright-eyed man... the mastermind of a whole generation of new tomato breeds that stay firm and fresh up to four times as long as the standard fruit." Kedar's obsession with tomatoes was inspired in 1974, after watching a Thai farmer pick his tomatoes green. "The fruit had no taste or smell, but the man said ripe fruit would be quickly ruined in the heat and humidity," remarked Kedar, "That's when I knew we had a real problem." He did not have to wait long. Shortly thereafter, in response to a failed kibbutz attempt to grow tomatoes in the Negev, the Jewish Agency offered Kedar an opportunity to solve the problem. Three years later, after tasting thousands of tomatoes injected with hundreds of combinations of genes, Kedar's four-person research team hit their stride. Over the next decade, the team produced over 400 different varieties of tomatoes were designed, six or seven each year going into the market. The most popular? The DeVine Ripe tomato. Grown in California and Mexico, the DeVine tomato allows farmers to harvest their crop at the vine ripe stage, with no compromise in storage life, thus accomplishing Kedar's original goal [2].

I was able to locate more information on his tomato project at Yissum, the company in charge of technology transfer for Hebrew University under B-1075: Breeding Tomatoes Rich in Vitamins.

Plants with prominent genetic variability, but with no commercial use, are being grown at the faculty's farm. These plants have tomatoes with high vitamin content. To select the desired qualities of these "primitive" tomatoes, classical breeding and molecular biology methods will be employed to result in commercial tomato plants that will produce natural tomatoes with high vitamin content.
His colloborator is Professor Haim Rabinowitch with whom he also worked on long shelf life tomatoes. According to their research blurb,
Israeli tomatoes can now be exported to Europe by ship at a $500 saving per ton over air freight. Furthermore, sale of the fruit or the tomato seeds are at present bringing in more royalty to the Hebrew University than all other commercialized University discoveries combined. Currently, about 40% of European greenhouse acreage, about 70% of tomato production in Morocco and more than 50% of the Mexican tomato acreage is occupied by Faculty of Agriculture cultivars. The value of tomato seed exports is estimated to more than $50 million, annually.

In 1983, Kedar received the National Food Processors Association award (U.S.) for his work on the effect of food-ripening mutant genes. In 1986, he was awarded the Israel's Kaplan Prize for innovative contribution to the economy.

[1] R. Ebenstein, "Just call him Mr. Tomato," Jerusalem Report, pp. 14, Aug 8. 1991.
[2] L. Samin, "Turning thoughts into food," Jerusalem Post, pp. 14, Nov 8. 2002.

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Going retro with Vodka

Pete Wells has a facinating article in Food & Wine this month on vodka going retro. He gives a nice overview on how vodka is made, with a focus on the transition from pot stills (think bathubs, Chicago gangsters and going blind) to Aeneas Coffey's columnar still. The column strips out all the flavor, nasty or nice, leaving, as the U.S. government defines, "a neutral spirit... without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color." The trend these days is to return to pot stills, or pot-column hybrids in order to put the taste back into vodka. Absolut's Level is example from a major company. Of course, once there is taste, is it really still vodka?

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Automation v0.5

The sine generator works now! Special thanks to Dale Cigoy at Keithley for insisting that I could get down to a couple milliseconds per measurement. I'll post more information and the relevant files tomorrow morning, since some sorting needs to be done on the dependencies. For long waveforms (>100 points), I was running out of GPIB buffer, so I ended up rewriting the source generator to send batches of 25 points directly to the 6430, rather than building a huge command to send all at once. With basically everything optimized, sourcing current and measuring just voltage, I was able to achieve 1.8793 ms per measurement on average. This value seemed pretty stable, though, since I don't have an oscilloscope on hand, it is hard to tell whether this is the real value or if some measurements are faster than others. The timestamp resolution is around 1.9 ms.

For the following table, current, amplitude 1 μA, was sourced sinusoidally and 2500 points sent to the 6430.

scenarioavg time per measurement (ms)
everything off, measuring just voltage1.879
everything off, measuring all functions1.921

Alas when I tried to change the auto-zero I got a buffer read error. I'm not sure why.

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May 10, 2004

Blogger relaunches!

If it gets any cooler, I'm going to have to dump MoveableType. Check out Biz Stone's "The Great Blogger Relaunch". My favorite? Beautiful, CSS-based templates. Commenting. Conditional tags (just like MT!). Email blogging. It boggles my mind that Blogger is owned by Google.

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Header error in Filter

I kept getting the annoying buzz error (Error -113, Undefined header) this morning when using Keithley 6430 Filter I finally isolated the problem. The third box down, when false, should have :Sens:Med Off; not :Sens:Aver:Med Off;. When true, it should be :Sens:MED:Rank %d;State On; instead of :Sens:Aver:MED:Rank %d;State On;. It still doesn't improve acquisition times, but at least you can get the error to stop. For more information on configuring the median filter go to 17-61 of the manual.

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MIT Club of Northern California hosts RFID panel

Thanks Christine, for sending me the link. Tomorrow MIT CLub of Northern California will be hosting an RFID panel 7:00 PM at Cooley Godward, LLP (Palo Alto, CA). Tickets are $15 pre-registration and $20 at the door. Note that the Register Now button appears to not be functioning at the moment.

Expected panelists:
Blair LaCorte, EVP, Corporate Development and Strategy, Savi Technology
Anurag Mendhekar, CEO, Blue Vector Systems
Jon Chorley, Senior Director, Oracle Inventory & WMS, Oracle Corporation
Raymond Blanchard, President & CEO, Truth Software. Former Business Development Director, Auto-ID Solutions, BSG Manufacturing, SAP

Peter Winer, CEO, Big Chief Partners, Inc.

Bios are available at the event description. Contact for more information.

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May 9, 2004

Why mesothelioma?

I mentioned in an earlier post that mesothelioma-related keywords were up in the $90s in cost per click (CPC). A recent article in New York Lawyer explains exactly why. "Because there is nothing more valuable than one mesothelioma patient," explains Chris Hahn, executive director of the non-profit Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Santa Barbara, CA). Typical awards in a mesothelioma case is $1 million, with attorneys receiving 40%. A study by think tank Rand Corp. claims that the mean award for cases going to trial is $6 million. Given that fact, and that patients go "on the Web within three or four days of diagnosis", $90 suddenly does not seem like so much for a good lead.

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Pros get digital prints at Costco

I had photos from our PowerShot S300 printed at Costco this morning as a gift to Sonja for Mother's Day. I'm happy to report that the results were quite pleasing. I dropped a CD off at around 11 and picked up the prints at around 2. They had quoted me 5 PM which I negotiated to 3. The charge? 19 cents a piece.

Here's the skinny on the setup. Digital prints at Costco Mountain View (Costco #143) are made using a Noritsu QSS-3101 on Fuji Crystal Archive Paper. The machine is calibrated daily and profiles uploaded to Dry Creek Photo. Costco will print your images as is. That means that if you do not Photoshop your photos, you may get some prints that aren't as pleasing. It also means, however, that if you do Photoshop your photos, you'll get exactly what you want. How? Profiling. Profiling means that someone, Dry Creek Photo, has gone through the trouble of measuring the color output and producing a Photoshop profile so that what you edit will be what you print. That's why the pros use Costco. It is as good as any other place. Here's a relevant thread from

blog^2 has a great post comparing online photo processors, but even more importantly, a related comment from James:

"If you use a custom ICC color profile to pre-process your photos before taking them to Costco, you'll find that the results are the best you'll get for non-pro lab processing. Go to, use Photoshop or Qimage to convert your photos from sRGB to the custom ICC profile for the Costco where you live. Reprint your best 5 photographs at the Costco by you with the best equipment(latest model numbers on Noritsu or Fuji Frontier equipment) using the process detailed at the drycreek website. For the $1.00 you spend on 5 4x6 prints, your jaw will drop at how accurate the colors are especially when you compare them to the amateur ofoto prints. I've used ofoto and shutterfly, along with imagestation and several other online services, but they don't compare since none of them provide ICC color profiles for their machines."

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Costco digital prints

I've gotten 4x6 digital prints at Costco (Mountain View, CA) several times over the past few months have had pretty satisfactory results. I haven't compared them head-to-head with pro photo shops - and was hoping someone online had done so. I've yet to find a review like that. I did find, however, an interesting article by a pro who gets his prints done at Costco. Note that this is the store, not the online service, which probably outsources to the same gig that Ofoto, etc. use. The gist of his article is that despite what people say about how you get what you pay for, Costco's equipment, paper and color calibration appear to be top grade. I'm gonna get some done today, and will report on exactly what they are using.

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May 8, 2004


Update: Got menu.

Ahhh, sad news. It was the end of an era - and we totally missed it. Toshi's Sushiya, sweetie's favorite sushiya, closed as of Sunday, February 15, 2004. Koma Restaurant has opened in its place with a similar sushi menu with some extra items. The good news is that Toshi and Keiko Sakuma are still in the business, this time in Sharon Heights Shopping Center, off of Sand Hill Road. Kaygetsu offers high-end kaiseki-ryori - think nine-course omikase (chef's choice). The Almanac has a recent review.

The Sakuma's sent out a letter announcing the grand opening.


Thank you all for waiting. Our grand opening day is set for Saturday,
April 17th.

For those of you who didn't receive previous e-mail, Kaygetsu will be
very different from Toshi's. We want to concentrate on traditional
Japanese food; so our sushi bar is small with only six seats. Sushi is
mostly served at the sushi bar. We offer ala carte and course menu
(traditional Japanese) at tables. We have 5 course menu for $45, and
nine course menu for $70. There will be 16% service charge instead of
tips. This is done in order to compensate all employees, both front
and back, on equal basis.

We're open Tuesday through Friday for lunch, 11:30 to 2 p.m.; for
dinner Tuesday though Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to closing (last seating at
8:30 p.m.). Please allow 45 minutes to 1 hour for lunch and about 2
hours for dinner. We're located at Sharon Heights Shopping Center, 325
Sharon Park Drive, off Sand Hill Road, at the left corner of the
shopping center near Shell station. For reservations, please call
(650) 234-1084, 11:00 to 2:30, or after 5:00 p.m. Thank you for your
patience; and we hope to see you soon.

Keiko and Toshio Sakuma
Kaygetsu Restaurant

Thanks Amalia for posting it. You can jump to the whole thread by clicking here. Be sure to check out Al Eisner's synopsis of the menu, as well as Dave Eisen's visit. His comment on leaving hungry is a bit distressing - but then he only got the five-course meal. It's probably more authentic this way.

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Sushi - where does it come from?

Sushi-grade fish in the Bay Area, as well as many other parts of the country, comes from IMP Foods, Inc. Their motto is "directly from the Sea and as fresh as possible". Join them for the "Win Win"! (Is that Japanese for something tasty?)

Check it out, wasabi! (Which reminds me of a great joke, what did sushi A say to sushi B?)

Yes, they sell fertile eggs. Sonja says, "Why don't you try sitting on them?" Hmmm, intriguing.

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Party at TGI's Sushi

I love Sonja! She is the bestest mom in the world. We celebrated Mother's Day at TGI's Sushi this evening. As #1's eyes were glued to the television, and over #2's occasional yelps, sweetie and I devoured a Jackson roll, a salmon-skin roll, a spider roll, the hamachi with green onions, and a saba shioyaki. Mmmm.

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Milk Pail - organic?

After realizing that neither Andronico's nor Mollie Stones were truly (or even close to being) organic, I had been meaning to return to Milk Pail Market, which I visited several years back while living off of Rengstorff. TheMilk Pail, being a "European market", gave me the impression that fruits and vegetables there would be organic. Also, we had also recently chatted with a Bulgarian neighbor over dinner who was adamant about how fruits and vegetables from American grocery stores were tasteless, and how she only bought organic... from the Milk Pail.

Not having had apples for smoothies for about a week, I was itching to buy a big bag of organic Red Delicious to incorporate into our smoothies. Guess what, not one organic label in the house. Milk Pail Market is not organic, nor does it claim to be. Interestingly, if you look at the fruit stickers (as I often do) you will see exactly the same stickers as in Safeway. The only difference is a price mark up of about 50-100%.

So, if you are fanatical about really being organic, look for the stickers. If it is organic, it will have the organic seal. Another way to tell? The fruit sticker will have a 5-digit number starting with 9.

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May 6, 2004

Orkut growth rate

Sometime tomorrow, Orkut will hit 300,000 members. By my calculations, it is growing slightly better than linearly at about 4000 members a day. As a reference, LinkedIn has around 500,000 members. Friendster spokeswoman Lisa Kopp claims 7.5 million users as of 4/23/04, 6.25 million as of 4/8/04 (this must not be quite right - that's 83,000 per day!!).

At last, someone more obsessed than I am. I can finally rest. Check out Anthony Hempell's Orkut at Eleven Weeks.

Posted by torque at 11:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

System commands vi

When using Keithley 6430 System as a sub-vi, remember to select a system function, otherwise you may not be doing what you think you are doing. Earlier, I mentioned that switching autozero to disable was not making a difference. That was because I did not select the correct system function "Autozero Control". When I finally did that, the time between data points dropped to 1.9 ms. Woo hoo, >500 Hz. A lot of the included vi's are tricky in this way. Just because you send a value into the vi doesn't mean that it will get set. You really need to open up the vi and take a look at what it is doing.

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What kind of cheese are you?

swiss.gifSonja will laugh - full of holes! What are you? This link found at elephantsoap. I am swiss cheese. I am pale yellow, nutty-flavored cheese with large holes. I am indifferent to the world around me. I am dreamy and often lost in my thoughts.

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Super organics - mmmm

This month Wired has a facinating article on Super Organics - genetically engineered, not genetically modified. With all the hoopla on avoiding genetically modified food, this may take the day. Essentially, this is selective breeding - but powered by knowledge of plant genome and use of fluorescent dye. You breed making sure that the offspring takes exactly the right genes.

Along with a nice overview of the technology, the article also has a fair (though brief) review of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In some cases, GMOs have fulfilled their promise. They've allowed US farmers to be more productive without as much topical pesticide and fertilizer. Our grocery stores are stuffed with cheaply produced food - up to 70 percent of all packaged goods contain GM ingredients, mainly corn and soybean. GM has worked even better with inedible crops. Take cotton. Bugs love it, which is why Southern folk music is full of tunes about the boll weevil. This means huge doses of pesticides. The world's largest cotton producer, China, used to track the human body count during spraying season. Then in 1996, Monsanto introduced BT cotton - a GMO that employs a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to make a powerful pesticide in the plant. BT cotton cuts pesticide spraying in half; the farmers survive.


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A "borrowed" cow

cow.gifI "borrowed" a cow from the ACLU. I hope nobody minds.

Posted by torque at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 5, 2004

RFID Academy

For a mere $5,000, you can attend Alien Technologies' RFID Academy where you'll get "years of RFID packed into two days". Included in the course is a choice of either a 915MHz Passive Development Kit and Circular Polarized Antenna OR a 2450MHz Long Range Battery Tag w/Temperature Data Logging Option. Woo woo! Sessions begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m., continental breakfast, snacks and buffet lunch provided. Alien is located in Morgan Hill, CA, 25 miles southeast of San Jose. I wonder if they offer student discounts.

Posted by torque at 10:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sine source generator

It took some time to sort out how to route data in labview, but I finally finished the first version of my source generator for the Keithely 6430. The key? Convert from dynamic data. Unfortunately, the waveform tool that comes with labview does not have a control for specifying the number of points in the waveform. This is done using the vi control panel. Feel free to download, use and abuse Keithley 6430 Sine as you see fit. For one does not have the Sine preset (waveform input) use Keithley 6430 Source Just make sure there aren't more than 2500 points.


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El Camino Youth Symphony Ice Cream Smorgasbord

Enoch writes "all-you-can-eat ice cream and performance event to benefit music education programs" this Saturday at 6:15 p.m. Location?

Cubberley Center Auditorium
4000 Middlefield Road at San Antonio
Palo Alto
Cost? $10. Besides the ice cream, there will be the Chamber Players, Camerata, Flute Ensembles, Galbraith Honor Strings and the El Camino Wind Orchestra featuring Camerata soloist Vien Nguyen on violin. Call 650.327.2611 or check the El Camino Youth Symphony website for more information.

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Obsessive writing - the midnight disease

At lunch today, Peter introduced us to Alice Flaherty's The Midnight Disease : The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain. Flaherty explores obsessive writing. hypergraphia, from a neurological perspective. Excerpts here. As you might have expected, Ken and I were immediately facinated and interested in how we too could get this wonderful disease.

The Harvard Gazette has a nice profile on Ms. Flaherty and her book.

How about helping the brain along with some sort of electric stimulation, finding the best brain patterns to excite the muse and feeding them into the brain from outside? It's been done, although accidentally. Flaherty describes one of her patients, a well-educated 37-year-old woman who had wires surgically implanted in her frontal lobes to control the tics of Tourette's syndrome. At certain current settings, the woman reported increased creativity and productivity in both her professional and personal activities. Her boss asked her what they had put in her head, and how he could get one.
In Telling a tale with too many words, Chantal Martineau credits psychiatrist Elim Kraepelin of indentifying temporal lobe epilepsy with which hypergraphia is most commonly associated. Innterestingly,
Fyodor Dostoyevsky was probably a temporal lobe epileptic, as was Vincent van Gogh, who at his peak produced a canvas every 36 hours, writing his brother Theo up to three evocatively detailed six-page letters daily.
NPR interviewed Ms. Flaherty on Morning Edition (Real | Windows Media). The term "midnight disease" came from Edgar Allan Poe.

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Banana juice, banana peels and L-DOPA

How about that, did you know that the banana peel contains L-DOPA (dihydroxyphenylalanaine)? 100 mg per 100 gm of peel. This from the banana juice man, Dr. Surendranathan. L-DOPA is used to treat diseases of the nervous system such as Parkinson's disease.

Posted by torque at 10:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Time to buy MSO?

It may be time to start tracking Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO). CNN today reported that Martha Stewart's bid for a new trial has been rejected. Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, in her 23-page decision, said that the allegations that a juror concealed a previous arrest on charges of assault are "extremely unfortunate," but do not justify granting a new trial. Another appeal on juror misconduct is in process. I think MSO will survive, but I don't think it'll go anywhere until all this stuff is settled.

Posted by torque at 9:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 4, 2004

Mother's day is coming up!

Are you ready? Mother's Day is coming up, any good ideas? Sonja bluntly told me that she was going to get a salad bowl and not to get anything for her... hmmm, but how do the adwords look? For a $20 max CPC, the traffic estimator gave me:

Traffic Estimator *
Keyword Clicks /
Cost /
mother's day 700.0 $3.03 $2,116.27 1.1
mothers day 710.0 $2.46 $1,744.68 1.1
mothers day gift 60.0 $4.57 $273.90 1.1
Overall 1,470.0 $2.82 $4,134.84 1.1

Flowers are expensive. Cards may not make it in time. Hmmm...

Posted by torque at 10:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

How much sleep should a 2 year old get?

The American Academy of Pediatrics in their book on sleep cites 10-13 hours for toddlers.

Toddlers sleep about 10 to 13 hours out of the 24. However, children at the toddler stage are curious and contrary by nature. Once they can climb out of their cribs or beds, they may also be convinced that there's a party going on somewhere in the house and want to join in the fun. Many parents go through a difficult phase of trying to keep their toddler in bed, especially around the time he switches to a regular bed. The best way to deal with this exasperating phase is to respond calmly to reasonable requests (such as for a drink of water), let your toddler see that nothing special is going on, and return him gently but firmly to bed each time he pops out.

Posted by torque at 10:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mesothelioma and Adwords

According to UPI, Mesothelioma law firms are putting up as much as $90 per click for Adwords placement. That's really nuts. Come to think of it, I've heard a lot of commercials on the radio for this recently as well. Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer, which, apparently has become quite a profitable field for lawyers. We can probably expect things to get worse before they get better, especially in NYC, as the dust from Ground Zero is likely to increase workers' risk of getting this cancer.

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Microsoft patents apple

Microsoft patents apple - a Burchinal Red Delicious, to be precise. U.S. plant patent 14,757.

Posted by torque at 1:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

E-Data sues Getty Images and Corbis

E-Data is suing two major media distributors for "for distributing digital content via the Internet and loading it onto some other material or device for reproduction". Yikes.

The company alleges Getty and Corbis infringed on its patents by electronically transferring stock photos and images to customers at a remote location, where the material was purchased and reproduced. E-Data's patent covers the downloading and recording of data, including photos, text and video, from a computer onto a tangible object--a tape, a CD, even a sheet of paper.
You can snag a copy of the infamous patent here.

Actually, it is more like a downdate... now I know why this sounds so familiar. There was a big hubbub in 96-98 which included lawsuits, letters, etc. Read this decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones:

"In an obvious attempt to expand the scope of its patent beyond that which was intended, plaintiff implausibly asserts that its patent covers certain uses of the Internet and World Wide Web, and applies to certain CD-ROM applications," wrote Judge Jones in her decision. "It is abundantly clear to the court, however, that the [patent does] not support plaintiff's broad interpretation."

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An overview of sweeteners

The Scotsman reported today on a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found that use of high fructose corn syrup coincided with a steep rise in weight problems in the US. Gee... is that surprising? Along with that report is a quick overview of the different man-made sweeteners out there, including aspartame.

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May 3, 2004

Scalp impedance measurements

I made some measurements today using my cap - the results were not clear. Single-pin impedances ranged from 15 to 40 to 140 MΩ. I don't really have a clean setup yet, but at least the labview software seems to be working right. Measurements were made at DC using the Keithley 6430. AC measurements at 10-20 Hz will probably be more appropriate. I used a current source 1e-7 A. The limitation on acquisition (voltage/current) appears to be a little less than 4.8 ms per reading. That gives us about 14 points per cycle, which should be ok.

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Disney's Tower of Terror opens

Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opens this Wednesday. Located in Disney's California Adventure, the ride is essentially a 13-story free-fall with a twist. The elevators will "rush up and down faster than they would in free fall and change direction without warning". According to Reuters, the ride cost $75 million. If you aren't into surprises, you can hit the spoilers at See I didn't even post a picture.

Posted by torque at 4:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Patent filing fees

Patently Obvious reported the new patent filing fees under consideration. The basic filing fee will go up from $770 to $1000 ($300 filing, $500 search, $200 examination). The issue fee well go up from $1330 to $1400. Small entities will have a 50% discount.

Posted by torque at 1:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Download patents from espacenet

Should you ever need to look up patent numbers in batch or download patents (the images that is), use patents | oncloud8. Abstract lookups are completely free, and come with links to espacenet. Copies of stiched patent images (in PDF) are $0.88. Why stiched? Because espacenet (as well as the USPTO) only allow printing/saving one page at a time. Check it out.

Posted by torque at 12:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

System speeds

The 6430 instruction manual gives information about system speeds on page A-5. With Auto zero off, autorange off, filter off, display off, source auto clear off, and binary reading format, at 0.01 NPLC the specs give a reading rate of 2080 rdg/second for "Measure", but only 930 for "Source/Measure Pass/Fail Test".

You can disable autozero using Keithley 6430 System (where you can also do a lot of not so useful things, like changing the beeper frequency). The actually remote command is :SYSTEem:AZERo OFF. It is ON at default.

Every A/D conversion (reading) is calculated from a series of zero, reference, and signal measurements. With auto zero enabled, all three of these measurements are performed for each reading to achieve rated accuracy. With auto-zero disabled, zero and reference are not measured. This increases measurement speed, but zero drift will eventually corrupt accuracy. With auto zero disabled, periodically change measurement speed.
Temperature changes across components within the instrument can cause the reference and zero values for the A/D converter to drift due to thermo-electric effects. Auto zero acts to negate the effects of drift in order to maintain measurement accuracy over time. Without auto zero enabled, measurements can drift and become erroneous.
So, use with caution. More about AZERo in 17-92. More notes, from 17-93,
Auto zero should be disabled with the :SYST:AZER OFF command for maximum source memory sweep speed; otherwise, the cache is of little use. With auto zero enabled, new A/D reference and zero values are taken for every reading and saved into the cache, slowing down sweep operation. However, with auto zero disabled, measurements may drift and become erroneous. To minimize drift when using NPLC caching with auto zero disabled, periodically send :SYST:AZER ONCE to force an immediate auto zero update.

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Soda fountain Diet Coke

The Hindu Business Line reported a couple days ago on a Miami longshoreman, Bartimous Berry (what a name), filing a lawsuit against Coca-Cola C. for selling a different version of Diet Coke at the soda fountains than that used in cans and bottles. The difference? Soda fountain Diet Coke contains a mixture of saccharin and aspartame which Coca-Cola claims is necessary to stabilize fountain syrup before adding carbonated water. The lawsuit alleges that Coca-Cola did so to increase profitability as saccharin is cheaper than aspartame. According to the San Mateo County Times,

Coca-Cola spokesman Dan Schafer said saccharin is used for "product quality reasons" not "money reasons." He said aspartame loses its sweetness faster in a fountain drink than in a canned or bottled soda.
Bartimous Berry appears to be a lawsuit machine. According to (9/11/2001), Berry also sued Kmart Corporation after checking out Kmart's "Dare to Compare" advertising campaign which compared prices between Kmart and Target. Apparently some advertised price comparisons were inaccurate. Berry was seeking class action status for the suit. Note that prior to this, Target Corp. already sued Kmart regarding the exact same issue. Sounds like Berry is riding on the coattails. Who is this guy?

Posted by torque at 8:04 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

May 1, 2004

A new month... a new filter

Today we switched again, this time from the Pur faucet filter to the Brita pitcher filter. Prior to the Pur we were using the Brita faucet filter, which, in our opinion, worked quite well except for one major design flaw. The threads connecting the filter to the faucet were made of very soft plastic. In evitably, these threads would fail and the whole filter would randomly fall, crashing into plates and glasses. I had the faucent mount replaced three times before finally switching to Pur. Faucet filters are convenient for getting water, but somehow they always seem to get in the way when washing dishes - this ends up damaging threads, and then causing accidents.

For you Brita pitcher users, replacement filters are 3 for $17.99 at Amazon or $5.99 ea., $43.30 for 10 at Costco ($39.99 + 8.25% sales tax). So, buy it at Costco. For you Pur faucet filter users, this will be my last price update. Replacement filters (Ultimate) are available at Costco for $32.46 ($29.99 + 8.25% sales tax), including a faucet mount, at Amazon for $29.88 not including faucet mount. You decide.

Someday, when we have our own place, I would like to install a reverse osmosis system. More about those another day.


Posted by torque at 7:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack