maker, tools, equipment, process


Lately I've been doing projects around the house. I converted an old desk into a media cabinet, and am now rewiring the cables in the basement to hide them, make them more functional etc. On the back of that old desk sits a four-port ethernet switch, looking a tad incongruous. Just lately I added a Netgear wireless access point in the basement, connected via ethernet through that switch, to provide wifi coverage in the living room above. (Configuring this was more work than it should have been, but of course there were multiple problems in setup that had to be dealt with one at a time before bink! occurred.)

As soon as I bought the WAP at Fry's, numerous old routers, WAPs, and ethernet switches began appearing for a few dollars each at the thrift stores. I resisted the temptation, except for one WAP I bought for $4.80 to get its external antennas. Same store sold me a long (perhaps 100 feet) Cat 6 cable with connectors, for $4. Silicon valley Goodwills and Savers and Salvation Armies are different.

I also picked up a Denon CD changer for a friend, after a discussion we had about how 1998 CD hardware is probably more reliable than 2014. Haven't bought any more subwoofers lately, though I think I'll have a corner of the basement where I can put a third one in, once the desk and cables are settled.

I needed an equipment box to hide two small amplifier power supplies (for the UHF and FM preamps up on the antennas on the pole outside), so I found an old silverware box (sans silverware) and have it mounted flat on the back wall. I'm leaving the velvet interior lining, but I'll have to paint the outside to make it blend into the wall; fortunately for my sense of ethics, the exterior finish is in damaged enough condition that it won't hurt my sense of what is right to do that. Bone white, not apple green, if you were asking.
maker, tools, equipment, process

Our Little Extravagant Trip

We spent Oct 12-30 on an expedition to historic and archaeological sites in the Eastern Mediterranean, by air through CDG to Rome; cruise on Voyages to Antiquity to Sicily, Athens, Greek Isles, and Turkey; and flight home also through CDG.

We missed a strike by airline workers in Europe on the way in (called off at the last minute) and TSA shootings at LAX on our return (we went through two days before). And the trip itself was wonderful. K and I posted occasional photos to FB, but I have about 5000 of them to look through.

We're still sleeping funny hours.
maker, tools, equipment, process


Friday we went to a book reading at the relocated Modern Times Bookstore: Barb Jensen, for her book on working class culture. Barb opened the reading with a couple of songs with Karen, with whom she was in a musical group back in Minneapolis two decades ago. It was great.

Saturday it rained, unusual for San Jose this early into Autumn (aka the Rainy Season, usu. Oct-March). I bought three books at the Santa Clara Friends of the Library sale, and then did historical research on the architect who designed our house. An hour into the research, the link to the newspaper database for San Jose began throwing connection errors; time to quit. But I had definitely determined that Wesley W. Hastings had been designing numerous houses, of all kinds and sizes, for his father's construction company (say, 1903-9), before he went off with Baker and formed an independent architectural firm as Hastings and Baker. Our house in 1909-10; maybe some day we'll find other information about it.

Sunday was devoted to throwing things out, putting things on a new bookshelf, and eating and drinking with guests.
maker, tools, equipment, process

The Grand Duke!

Unpaid testimonial.

Last night we saw the local Lyric Theatre production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Grand Duke," G&S's last collaboration and a show rarely performed.

It was great! The music was sprightly, the orchestra was very good, the singing were excellent, the costumes were fabulous, and the dancing was well planned and executed. The lyrics were just plain hilarious: Parenthetical comments about orthography in rhyming quatrains; songs with laments in Greek (for the stage full of Athenians dancing in attitudes).

All these years I had heard the show was not first-rate G&S; that it was tired, stodgy, just the old war horses going through the motions. Not true! Not even remotely true. Imagine, rather, G&S deciding that this was their one last chance to write a "G&S" -- and who to do it better?

It was witty; it was grand. All the parts are written for actors playing actors, and all the songs are sung by lyricists with voices. If you've never seen "The Grand Duke" (and that includes almost all of us), you must see it. And even if you have seen it, you should see this one. There are three more performances. Go.

Unpaid testimonial.
maker, tools, equipment, process


We went to a memorial event for Hugh Daniel in Pacifica, CA, the town where he was living most recently. Of course, Hugh was a citizen of many communities, so there are other memorials coming up or already happened, in other places.

The part I had the most trouble with was saying goodbye to him on the beach.

Inside the community center, his friends gathered and talked and remembered him, and he was present in so many ways I could almost hear him with my ears. Hugh had a lot of friends.
maker, tools, equipment, process

Buy your seedlings tomorrow at the Spring Garden Market

Quoted from K:

The Master Gardeners annual Spring Garden Market is taking place this Saturday, 4/13, at History San Jose, 9-2 (arrive early for the best selection). Thousands of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and flowers await you, plus dozens garden vendors, educational talks, and more. More details at:

Come celebrate spring with us!

Karen Schaffer, Master Gardener Santa Clara County
maker, tools, equipment, process

When Worlds Collide

I follow the eBook piracy wars, as sometimes eBook distribution sites allow uploads and sometimes enthusiastic fans post books still in copyright for free distribution to other fans. This is sometimes known as piracy and sometimes as copyright infringement.

Something called The Ultimate EBook Library ( is under attack for hosting lots and lots of copyrighted material. See for a discussion of this, if you care. Teubl has a Facebook page, which links to ... a short YouTube video by Nina Paley, with vocal by Connie Champagne and music arranged by Nik Phelps. The title of the YouTube video is "Copying Is Not Theft - Official Version" which begs the question of unofficial versions. Hey, it's lots of fun to watch, whether you believe it or not.

I never expected to write about Nik Phelps and eBook piracy in the same sentence. Check out the Facebook page for him and Nancy:

I did check Teubl and verified that they aren't carrying any of the books published by Hidden Knowledge. I'm not sure if I'm happy about that, or worried that we're just not in demand.

Our next ebook will be an art book with a title something like "Forty Paintings in Paper Fiber" featuring work by Pat Gentenaar-Torley.
maker, tools, equipment, process

A 1907 View of the Future of Electricity

I've put a six-page article "The Age of Electric Servants" online at

Originally published in THE WORLD'S WORK for July, 1907, it does NOT discuss robots, but does mention solutions to the labor problem. Many interesting early approaches to electric power and motion.

Feel free to use it in your Steampunk work; tell you friends about it; &etc.
maker, tools, equipment, process

Home Alone

vgqn is in Minnesota and I'm trying to catch up on odd jobs and still have some fun. I've been doing better at the fun than the jobs, which is probably a good thing in the global overview.

I've done a preliminary version of the next e-book, which will be a collection of images of the pigmented constructed paper paintings of Pat Gentenaar-Torley; I'll send it off to her for review tomorrow. If you g00g1e her name you'll see some of her work. We met at Allen and Donya's solstice party last Saturday.

I've also added fifty or sixty more magazine cover images to the site.

I attempted to dub a program off my ATT DVR, but the DVD recorder refused, saying it was copyrighted material. This is brain-dead nonsense, and I'd join the EFF if I weren't already a long-time member. Probably there is a cure for this involving a computer, digital data, and some particular software I don't have. I actually went so far as to make a *videotape*, but the sound cut in and out and I discarded it. More activity will follow.

Last night was spent with friends at dinner, and then the Lyric Theater production of "The Gondliers," providing fun food, fun conversation, and a very silly but wonderfully produced show. We all kept running into people we knew, but the biggest surprise was to meet in the audience a well-known out-of-town skiffy writer whose daughter was in the production.

Tonight was burgers next door. There was some uncertainty on neighbors' part about exactly what meat the burgers were made of, but they passed inspection. I plucked a large zucchini from our front-yard garden, sliced it and seasoned it and grilled it. Wine pairings: some nice leftover Pinot Noir, a Red blend of some kind, and the 2006 Renwood Old Vine Zin that I brought over.

Besides garden maintenance (an hour spent trimming the geraniums by the house; watering; other cleanup), I've been spending an hour a day digging up the Artifact. Now if this were Britain, and the Time Team were here, we'd be claiming it as a Celtic stone storage cylinder base. Possibly its from an old watering trough ca. 1885-1900, from the days when the Race Track's stables lived on this particular piece of land; possibly it's an old garden water feature, as the San Jose archaeologist seemed to think; possibly it's an alien landing spot. Things that are certain: It's about 14 feet in diameter; it's full of broken concrete rubble and cut and shaped pieces of granite; it's about a foot under the current surface of the earth; and some previous owner knocked parts of it in and left them there under a thin layer of dirt. If it's feasible, I'll dig the whole thing up; if not, I'll re-bury it once I've abstracted the granite pieces.

We had a vague hope of going to Readercon, but have now transferred that loyalty to a music festival. Visitors have been coming by! I'd write more but I've run out of
maker, tools, equipment, process

New Book Out

The Hidden Knowledge ePub reprint of the 1922 Sears Roebuck Catalog of Electrical Goods and Radio Apparatus is out! This is the first new book we've done in quite a while.

Available from Apple as an iBook (search for the isbn 9781595000057) and Amazon (search for ASIN B007UP59Y0) for $2.99.

This was an experiment: Can I do a book of images, all with lots of fine little bits of detail, and format it within some reasonable constraints of file size and readability? Answer: Yes, but a lot of tricky photoshop work was required. On the iPad, in particular, you can enlarge all the images and see the little teeny tiny bits. Thank you, O people who helped us debug it; it now works great.

The final product file size is slightly over 8 MB, which among other things means Amazon deducts $1.18 from the amount they pay me for every copy sold (their download fee, paid by the publisher rather than the purchaser). One cannot get rich this way.

Apple has a different cost model. So also do Barnes & Noble and a couple of other places where it will be for sale shortly.

The next Hidden Knowledge book will be mostly text.