My plan for today to take some photographs of my completed Hemlock Ring Blanket. The sun did not fully cooperate by hiding behind clouds all day. Holding up some poster board paper as a low cost reflector helped intensify what light was available. I have not looked at the resulting pictures yet, so I may still need to try again on a sunnier day.

Sammy has been extremely helpful with this project. Today he was kind enough assist in measuring the final width by laying on the blanket. Looks like the estimate of 2.5 cats was spot on.

Temperatures in Austin have stayed on the cool side the past couple days. I decided to leave my Hemlock Ring Blanket pinned down for another day of drying just to be sure. It might be a bit of overkill, but I would rather error on the side of caution since this is my first attempt at blocking. Doubly so due to this being my first lace project too. Sammy helped out again by keeping a close watch for any problems.

Everything I have read about lace knitting indicated the item will not look like much until after blocking. This certainly seems to be holding true for me. There were some lacy features visible yesterday afternoon, but the blanket looked more like a wrinkly bundle of yarn most of the time. All of the holes in the pattern really opened up with the tension of pinning it down.

A few areas are still puckering up a little. I saw someone selling modified instructions to help the entire blanket lie flatter, so this was something I was expecting to see. It certainly does not take away too much from the overall blanket. This should be a great looking accessory for my living room when it is finished.

The knitting on my Hemlock Ring Blanket was completed several weeks ago. The next step is to wash and block it. I decided to purchase interconnecting rubber floor mats as a blocking surface. That way I can adjust to whatever future projects I attempt. The number of mats required would depend on my blanket’s final dimensions, so I laid it out to get some measurements. Sammy was kind enough to offer his assistance. Right now the blanket is 1.75 cats wide. I estimated it would end up around 2.5 cats wide after blocking. Everything fit well on a 3×3 grid of mats. Hopefully it will be finished drying in a day or two even with our recently lower temperatures.

I was rather disappointed at missing my chance to visit Kreuz Market while in Lockhart a couple weeks ago. Last week a plan was formulated to rectify this unfortunate situation. I would undertake another road trip on Saturday afternoon ensuring Kreuz would be open for business. Delicious, delicious business! The plan was pure simplicity.

As with most plans, it did not hold up through execution. In fact the plan was altered far before Saturday even arrived. Fortunately the alterations only enhanced the plan’s enjoyment potential.

Additional barbecue explorers joined the swelling ranks as word of my epic quest spread through the land. Eight adventurers in total embarked from Austin last Saturday. Our destination was Black’s Barbecue. While this establishment was not included in Texas Monthly’s Top 5 BBQ restaurants, it was deemed a more palatable initiation into barbecue adventures. They provide plates, utensils, and even (gasp!) sauce.

We hoped the onion skull was not a portent of things to come.

I partook of their jalapeno cheese sausage once again. Unfortunately the leap of faith did not result in a greater reward. My slices of brisket were quite good, but several of my fellow travelers received extremely dry selections. It appeared to be luck of the draw as to which section of meat was sliced.

A clock tower stood above the surrounding buildings as we left Black’s. A unanimous decision led our intrepid group on a side quest to discover where they originated. We quickly arrived at the Caldwell County Courthouse a couple blocks south. My friend Bic showed off his new boots for a picture.

Another educational nugget was gleaned when I spotted Smitty’s Market one block further south. This establishment was ranked second by Texas Monthly. It is housed in the original location of Kreuz Market before a family feud resulted in two competing locations. One brother took the Kreuz Market name a few blocks north while the other brother retained the business location. Surely this will be a future trip’s destination.

My descriptions of Kreuz’s addictive jalapeno cheese sausage intrigued my friend Bic. He expressed a desire to purchase some of their cold sausages to try later in the week. I fully backed his plan and purchased a case of sausage for myself. Hopefully this will quell the necessity of another trip in the near future.

Having said that, my travel mates all expressed a desire to traverse the distance back to Lockhart to try Kreuz Market for themselves. Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter in our barbecue adventures.

A couple of my friends were married last weekend. Their families are from Houston, so that is where they decided to hold the wedding. It was a lot of fun seeing all of the people we used to work with at Edge of Reality. In some ways that seems so long ago, but there are also times I am shocked to realize that was over a year ago now.

Johnny tried to plan the date so as to avoid the UT vs. OU game. Alas they chose this year to break a 76-year-streak of not playing past the second week in October. On the plus side, it gave Johnny inspiration for the groom’s cake design. 🙂

The ceremony was on the north-west side of Houston. Most of my experience has been driving to the south side of town. This time I decided to drive down highway 290 despite the long stretches of undivided road. It was a much straighter trip and provided some different scenery. As you can see here, this provided a chance to “take a little trip down memory lane”.

On the way back to Austin, I drove along side of Bastrop State Park on my way to eat lunch in Lockhart. It was a beautiful trip in the “Lost Pine’s” shadow. I learned later this is isolated area of loblolly pine trees which normally do not grow this far west. I am planning on heading back sometime to walk see more of the park.

Lockhart is the “Barbecue Capitol of Texas”, so there were some options for lunch. I headed over to Black’s Barbecue since they are open on Sunday. The brisket was pretty good, but the jalapeno and cheese sausage did not taste like jalapeno or cheese. My original plan was to eat lunch at Kruez Market on Saturday since their jalapeno and cheese sausage is extremely addictive. Unfortunately I was running to far behind schedule.

Some friends were inspired by my trip to the “Barbeque Capitol of Texas”>Barbeque Capitol of Texas. They all want to head down tomorrow to try some of the food. I think we are going to try Black’s Barbeque this time due to their large variety of side dishes. Plus they offer utensils and bbq sauce.


My mother has decided I no longer eat dinner. Having recently watched Julie and Julia, I figured it might be simpler to post photos of what I cook rather than explain it all the time. Besides it sounded like something fun to try. I’m not sure how many different types of shots I will be able to attempt. Hopefully I can figure out a few Iron Chef type images. Here is a picture a frittata I made last week. So far I have been able to keep up the daily log.

HDR photography is a technique I have been interested in experimenting with for a while. That was especially so after seeing some of Trey Ratcliff’s photos. Luckily Trey includes quite a bit of information about the process on his website. HDR photos can sometimes look too “hyper-real” for my personal taste, but they still seem really cool.

It turns out the software Trey uses, Photomatix, offers a free trial version. All of the features are fully functional. The free version just embeds the Photomatix name in the resulting image. This is my first attempt at using it. On the left side is a photo I would normally take. The HDR version I created is on the right. I think it turned out pretty good for my initial try.

Trey just ran a PhotoWalk in Austin. Unfortunately I learned about it too late to attend. Hopefully I will be available for his next one. It looks like everyone had a great time from the pictures and stories they posted.


Finally made it to an Austin Aztex game! One of thier games was broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel a few weeks ago, but this was my first live game. Austin played a rather physical game. We received all of the yellow cards! There was even a big “fight” in the goal after an Austin player knocked over Montreal’s goalie.

Anyway, there is an album of photos from the game. I don’t think I will be putting any sports photographers out of work soon, but they seemed to turn out OK for my first attempt. They are playing another home game in a couple weeks. We are going to try organizing a bigger group for then.


Obviously I enjoy taking pictures. Another of my hobbies is building paper models. It seemed natural to merge these two interests, so I attempted to construct a Dirkon pinhole camera. It is a design which was originally printed in a 1979 Czechoslovakian children’s science magazine. The intention was to explain how photography works. Someone still had a copy of that magazine and posted scanned copies on the internet. The instructions recommend using Foma 21° DIN film, but standard 35mm canisters fit perfectly.

The first Dirkon I built did not produce any pictures. My guess is the paper I used for construction was too thin. This time I added a layer of black cardstock to help keep out the light. It also made the camera much sturdier.

This time some pictures actually turned out OK! It was quite a different experience compared to the digital cameras I typically use. There is no instant preview or even a shutter click. Exposing a photo is accomplished by sliding a piece of paper over the pinhole. Overall I am very happy. In fact, I may try designing and building some new pinhole cameras in the future.


Our washing machine was starting to show its age. The timing mechanism would not always advance on its own, and it began making some weird noises during spin cycles. A quick look through the Sunday ads showed a good appliance sale at Lowe’s. We headed over and purchased a Bosch washer and dryer. Terri really wanted a larger capacity washer, so the new dryer was chosen to match. The washer is a new front loading, high efficiency model. It certainly uses less detergent. I will have to keep an eye on our electricity bill to see how it is effected


There are a few rocketry related projects I have been interested in trying which require an electric motor. A large lathe for shaping foam is at the top of the list followed by a body tube rotator for sanding. I figured the motors in our old washer and dryer should be up to the task. They can spin a load full of jeans, so a chunk of foam should be no problem.

I disassembled the dryer yesterday. The blower for pulling moist air and lint out looked promising for another project I would like to try, a small air tunnel. It may not move enough air to provide realistic drag data on rocket designs, but I figured I would not know until I try. Anyway, if you are interested in see what is inside of a dryer, head over to the album.