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  • iMac G4 Track Lighting

    2021 - 08.16

    The incredibly talented Wayne Fritzemeyer (who previously built the MacPro bench also found HERE) just installed my new track lighting made from 5 iMac G4 shells. They are movable, dimable, and adjustable. Take a look below and click on the images for larger versions. Thanks for the new lights, Wayne!

    Strain From Another State

    2021 - 08.10

    Watch and listen to this incredible song that Jacob wrote and Bree illustrated called “Strain From Another State”. It’s based on the classic Schoolhouse Rock song, but written specifically for Vicki’s 52nd birthday. Vocalist: Michaela Karr, mixing/recording: Jackson Johnson. Click the image below to watch. The lyrics are hilarious, so I listed them below so you can sing along!

    Most of the people that you know,
    In some of the places you can go
    You can inhale and then blow
    Go smoke some weed

    Now weed’s a special kind of drug
    It’s like it gives your brain a hug
    That’s why it’s in this song we sing
    Cause weed is a very helpful thing

    Ohhhh, I got a strain, got a strain from another state
    The prices compared to home were really great
    Especially with a legal high
    I feel better alread…eye
    Cause I got a strain, got a strain from another state

    Most of the people that you know (like your friends and family)
    In some of the places you can go (which should be legal federally)
    You can inhale and then blow (try and make some little O’s)
    Go smoke some weed… go smoke some weed

    Ohhhhh, what if pot was available down the street
    Instead of you needing to travel for a week
    You could smoke a hashy bone
    In the comfort of your home
    If Mary Jane was available down the street

    A lot of people in this world (like those in pain or suffering)
    If you’re a boy, NB, or girl (or whatever, we don’t assume)
    Can take nugs of drugs and twirl (dance around, who cares)
    And smoke some weed… go smoke some weed

    Ohhhh… I got some very bad pain Tourettes
    I tried some pills but it’s not better yet (I tried more than a couple)
    My friend gave me a big ol joint
    So I could get to the point
    But sometimes I still get the pain tourettes

    What if you could buy it here (instead of 700 miles away)
    You could hold it near and dear (like an increasingly chubby black cat)
    Stick a cig behind your ear (you’d look pretty cool I bet)
    Go smoke some weed… go smoke some weed

    Ohhhh… I got a dime bag from the dispensary
    I shared it with my jewish family
    I got the munchies had some ice cream
    And went to sleep and had a dream
    That weed was legalized in this country

    What if you could burn some hash (it’d probably smell kinda bad)
    And finally get off your ass (only to go buy more)
    You shouldn’t drive or you might crash (let us go for you)
    Go smoke some weed

    Now weed’s a special kind of drug
    It’s like it gives your brain a hug
    That’s why it’s in the song we sing
    Cause weed is a very special thing

    Jacob’s Senior Project “Internalize” and Demo Reel

    2021 - 07.22

    Jacob’s amazing student film project Internalize is finally up on youtube after doing the festival circuit. Click the image below to watch.

    You can also check out Jacob’s demo reel here, which shows some of the types of projects he has worked on. Click the image below to watch.

    The Emperor’s New Kit…taking the Aerodrums for a spin with Limelight by Rush

    2021 - 07.01

    Fulfilling a lifelong dream of having other people hear the sounds in my head while I airdrum…these are Aerodrums. The software (which came out in 2015) uses a PlayStation 3 camera with an LED light ring, special reflective tips for the sticks, and pads for your feet. It is truly amazing how well this actually works. The camera translates the light reflected from the sticks into drum sounds with a degree of sensitivity and accuracy that I can only describe as black magic.

    Take a look at the video below to see how well this invisible kit works. Video by Jacob Katz

    Bree’s Olathe East Graduation 2021

    2021 - 05.20

    Click the image below to watch a video of Bree’s high school accomplishments. Way to go Bree!

    Bree’s Freehand Mandala on my Effects Cymbal

    2021 - 04.06

    Bree got ahold of one of my cymbals and decided to draw all over it. I guess I’m just stuck with this now. Please people, keep your artistic kids away from sharpies and musical equipment. Actually, I’ve been wanting her to do this for a while, and I can’t believe she was able to draw this freehand on my cymbal. I love how it looks, and would be totally happy to have all my cymbals look like this. Do you think drummers would pay to have their own mandalas applied to their cymbals? Thanks Bree!

    I sprayed the cymbal with a clear coat protection spray just to hopefully get a little more life out of the design. It will be interesting to see how it wears over time…I’ll update this post in a few months to see how the design looks.

    (18+) TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BARELY LEGAL by Jacob Katz

    2021 - 04.04

    Jacob created a hilarious video for Bree’s 18th birthday. Please enjoy (18+) TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BARELY LEGAL. Click the image below.

    Apple Airports and Mac Minis: LED Lights

    2021 - 03.27

    12 Apple Airports, 4 Mac Minis, all hollowed out and fitted with LED light pucks. I’ve been thinking about creating something like this for many many years, as I watched the pile of old, broken airports, and end of life Mac Minis grow. Well I finally got around to getting it built, and I’m pretty happy with the result.

    After making sure all the airports and minis were completely hollowed out…I started to think about how I wanted to mount them. I figured I could do 3 groupings so I only had 3 things to hang rather than 16. The small airports are all screwed into long strips of wood and then mounted together.

    The Mac Minis and the larger airports are glued to a piece of wood. I then placed the LED puck lights in each case, and wired them together.

    The LED lights were purchased on Amazon at this link:

    Then it was just a matter of hanging it all on the wall. Be sure to check out the video below (CLICK THE IMAGE) to see the LED lights in all their glory.

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    Happy 18th Birthday Bree!

    2021 - 03.21

    Well Bree went and did it. She grew up. March 20th is her 18 birthday, so we made a few things to celebrate. Steve Klein and I built a lightbox out of foam core and led lights, filled with notes from her friends and family. Take a look at it below…CLICK EACH IMAGE BELOW TO SEE A LARGER VERSION AND THE VIDEO

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    Happy 18th Bree Bree!

    Bree’s Senior Pictures 2020

    2020 - 11.02

    Here’s some of Bree’s favorite senior pictures. Thanks to AMY & CHASE at Rye Studios for the amazing shots. Click any image for a larger version, and click HERE to see the entire set.

    Enjoy!

    Apple iDrums! Custom Built Tiny Kit from Apple Parts

    2020 - 05.14

    Check out another quarantine project I created. The Apple iDrums! A little drum kit (modeled after my own) built completely out of old Apple computer parts.

    You’re probably saying to yourself, “but can you play Tom Sawyer by Rush on it?” Well, no…I can’t, but Stickman can!

    Click the image below to watch him rock out.

    Say Hello to M8 and Rivvit!

    2020 - 05.08

    During quarantine, I decided to build a couple of friends out of old end-of-life Apple computer equipment. I built one called M8 since he is built from iMac model M8535 parts. His sidekick, Rivvit is also built from old equipment including Airport base stations, broken hard drive pieces and speakers. I used lots of magnets on M8’s head so we can adjust his eyes and eyebrows to give him a little personality. Plus I made a few different mouths that also connect with magnets.

    I started a comic called “The Quarantine Adventures of M8 and Rivvit” to document their adventures. Click the arrows in the top left of each image to go to other pages. Take a look, and check back here for more episodes.

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    Custom Made Hang/Tank Drum

    2020 - 01.21

    I saw some posts online of people playing a metal circular drum called a hang or tank drum. It sounds like the kind of music that you would hear during a massage or yoga class. Very ethereal and calming. So I looked online to see where to get one, and found a guy on Etsy that custom makes them. So I connected with Boris from Slovenia, and ordered a drum. I saw that some people online that had ordered from Boris had some custom images on the top of the drum. So I had Bree draw me the cool mandala below: (click any of the images below to open up a fullscreen version)

    Boris took that image, flipped it 4 times to make a circle, and cleaned it up a bit:

    Then he applied it to the raw metal drum, and acid etched it into the metal. I wish I had more pictures of this process!

    After that Boris carved out the drum to a 12 note G scale, and colored it a gorgeous blue/purple combo, and sent it on it’s 3 week trip to Kansas.

    Click the image below to get an idea of what the drum sounds like. This is using soft mallets. It sounds completely different if you use the wooden mallets that came with it, the tips of your fingers or your thumbs. As you play it, you quickly discover that you can’t really make it sound bad…play slowly and deliberately, or fast with lots of rhythm…and it still sounds cool.

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    If you’re interested in getting one made, click the link below for Boris’s etsy shop. Tell him Gary says hi. They run between $100-$300 and about $50 shipping from Slovenia. There are a ton of drum makers online, and just about every drum I’ve seen is made a little differently and looks completely different. The price varies based on how many notes, size, and what materials the drum is made from.

    Click here for Boris’s Custom Tank drums on Etsy

    Bree now a National Honor Society member

    2019 - 11.14

    Congrats to Bree for becoming a member of the Olathe East National Honor Society on November 13, 2019. Way to go Bree, we’re all proud of you!

    Internalize: Jacob’s Senior Student Film at MSU

    2019 - 11.08

    Jacob is working on his senior project; a student film called Internalize, at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.

    A surrealist short film depicting a downward progression of mental health. Step into the void.

    The film currently has a release date of May 2020. Right now he is trying to raise money for the production, and has an IndieGogo campaign going. Please take a look at the campaign at the link below, or click the logo above, for more detailed information and to contribute:

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/internalize–2#/

    Audio Found From Bertha & Dave’s 50th

    2018 - 08.27

    While going through my mom’s stuff, I found this old cassette tape of her parent’s (my grandparents) 50th wedding anniversary party. I transferred it and put it up on YouTube. Click below to listen…obviously the quality isn’t great, but it’s been quite a while since I heard my grandfather give a speech, so I think it’s worth it.

    My Mom

    2018 - 08.02

    On Tuesday, July 31st 2018, my Mom passed away after a long struggle with cancer. She was 81 years old, and still very much lucid, funny and active with her kids, grandkids and friends. In fact, one day before she passed away she was out having lunch with friends, enjoying life and having fun. My mom had a very close group of girlfriends that go all the back to high school called the “Top of the Hill” gang, and she would meet them very often for brunch and chitchat. It always made me laugh that my mom never had an email address (and would never even discuss having one), and someone from the group would always have to physically call her on the telephone to let her know when and where the next brunch would be, even though they all arranged it over email or facebook.

    The main theme of my moms life would definitely be music. She taught herself to play the piano at age 2, and continued playing and composing music up until her death. Mom could play by ear, meaning if she heard a song once, she could usually play it on the piano immediately and effortlessly. It was an amazing talent, and something that always impressed me. Her life was filled with musical performances, compositions, bands, education, and especially singing old songs with the elderly at the Heritage Center at the JCC. Here she is doing something she has done thousands of times; playing background music for an event.

    Click the image below to watch:

    She taught a class for kids called Fun With Music for many years at the Beth Shalom nursery school, played piano in the Zimrah orchestra with my dad on drums. Her musical compositions are incredibly vast. Mom wrote and performed an original song at our prenuptial dinner while Vicki sang. She worked so hard on this performance and was so proud to be able to perform it for everyone at the dinner. Listen below:

    You Made Me Laugh:

    She wrote an original song for each of my kids when they were born as a very special birthday present. She wrote out the music and lyrics and framed it for each child. Click the images for larger versions, and you can listen to her playing the songs below:


    Jacob’s Lullabye

    Vicki singing Jacob’s Lullaby


    Brianna’s Lullabye

    Mom got together with Cantor David Barash and created a CD of original jewish music specifically for kids called “Big Jewish Songs For Little Jewish Kids”. At the time she created this, it wasn’t as easy to publish things on the internet. But now it’s much easier, so her music may be available on Amazon or somewhere soon. I’m going to go through all her stuff (that she meticulously curated and wrote out) and see if maybe a music catalog or cd could be available for sale.

    In 1991, my mom partnered with her nephew Bryan Azorsky to create a musical video for kids called “Red Riding Hood’s Adventure”. She wrote and arranged original music aimed at kids ages 1-6. The video was created for VHS only, but I did manage to digitize a version you can watch below.

    Every year my mom would have the family Hanukkah party at her house as well as Passover. Each year Leslie and Mom would make tons of homemade potato latkes. For years we thought her recipe was some secret recipe passed down through the generations. A few years ago my mom admitted that the recipe was from the back of the blender box. Here’s a video from the wonderful Brianna’s Cooking Show series on YouTube with the complete “secret” latke recipe.

    My mom also loved animals and always had a dog that she was extremely close with. It started with Blackie when she was a child, then we had Missy, a Dalmation we got when I was in grade school. Then Sadie, Charlie and finally Sarge. Mom hand painted a portrait of each dog, and was still working on Sarge.

    Sarge really helped my mom be able to live at home, giving her a friend to take care of and be with her in these last few years. He was always excited to see her when she got home, and she looked forward to his kisses and attention. Towards the end, poor Sarge needed insulin injections twice a day, and was completely blind and incontinent, but that didn’t matter to her at all. Sarge was really the reason she didn’t want to move into Village Shalom (she wouldn’t have been able to take him with her). She couldn’t stand the thought living without him, and thankfully she didn’t have to.

    My mom was widely known in the community as the person that played the piano for the “old folks” in the Heritage Center at the JCC. She had this job for over 25 years, and always joked that she was the youngest person there. She would come in for a few hours a week, and play old songs that the elderly people remembered from their childhood or from old musicals. She believed very strongly in the power of music to help heal and enrich the lives of older people, and we talked a lot about music and memory, especially when my father was going through Alzheimers. She educated many people from nursery school through old age on the power and importance of music.

    Throughout my life, music was the language mom and I spoke. While I was getting into computers in junior high school, she had no interest at all until I showed her how the computer could help in creating and performing music. She would let me record her so I could digitally mix, layer and alter the music, and she was always amazed by the technology, even if she didn’t understand it, and had no interest at all in learning how it worked. When I started taking drum lessons at age 7, she was the one I would practice with, playing my dad’s old classic drum kit to Beatle songs so I could learn to follow along. She took me to every lesson, every band practice, every performance. She never tired of playing, discussing or listening to music. She came to many of my current band’s gigs and always had suggestions of new songs we could learn.

    Here’s a video of mom doing the same thing with Jacob and a great Billy Joel tune. Click the picture to play.

    Here are a just a few images I pulled out of my photo library that I think really showed my mom in her element.

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    360 Degree Panoramas

    2018 - 06.05

    Here are some very cool panoramic images taken a few years back that I converted to run on current HTML. Click each one to open a separate window, then drag to rotate and scroll to zoom in and out.

    Rooftop at Steve Klein Design, 4th and Delaware, Kansas City

    Another rooftop at Steve Klein Design, 4th and Delaware, Kansas City

    And yet another rooftop at Steve Klein Design, 4th and Delaware, Kansas City

    And one last rooftop at Steve Klein Design, 4th and Delaware, Kansas City

    Fishing With My Dad

    Fishing lodge early in the morning

    Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary One, Louisburg, Kansas

    Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary Two, Louisburg, Kansas

    Black Magic Woman from Sukkot Fest 2017

    2017 - 10.10

    Click the image below to watch my band, Conviction, play one of our favorite songs, Black Magic Woman at the Congregation B’nai Jehudah Sukkot Festival on October 8, 2017.

    Check me out on Apple World Today!

    2017 - 07.12

    My buddy Steven Sande of Apple World Today did a write up of all the strange things I’ve done with Apple computers, phones, and peripherals. You can find all this stuff individually on this blog, but it’s cool to have it all in one place. Check it out here:

    Let Mommy Buy Weed

    2017 - 07.09

    When our family was in Colorado for vacation a few years back, Vicki and I were going to go to some dispensaries to try the local (and legal) herb. Bree was not happy about this at all, since she has grown up being told that marijuana is illegal, and bad for you. She really didn’t want Vicki to go, even though it has been proven to help with chronic pain, something Vicki has been dealing with for years. The next day, Jacob came out of his room with an amazing poem, called Let Mommy Buy Weed. He found every term for marijuana that he could find, and rhymed it into an incredible poem where a young boy explains to his sister the benefits of weed, and how it can help people with chronic pain. The poem was so amazing that I knew it needed to be turned into a book. Fast forward about 2 years, and the book is complete! I had a buddy of mine who is an incredible artist illustrate the poem for us, in the style of a children’s book, and now it’s available for purchase on Amazon!

    Here’s a few pages from the book. And remember, you can purchase your own copy HERE.

    Conviction In The Studio

    2017 - 07.07

    My band Conviction recently spent some time in the studio putting the finishing touches on 4 original songs and we think they sound great! Listen to samples below, and watch this space for links when the songs go live on iTunes. We’re also looking into streaming services like Pandora and Spotify. Special thanks to Lynn at LA Audio for recording, editing and mixing our stuff and making us sound so amazing.

    Click the image below to watch our video for Finding My Way, created by Jacob Katz of Nerdboy Productions.

    Check out the band website at convictiontheband.com for more info and links to full performances, samples and pictures.

    Listen to samples below, and look for these songs on iTunes and streaming services soon!

    Finding My Way (studio version by Steve Rosenberg)

    Baruch Hashem (studio version by Steve Greenberg)

    Nothing In This World Is Free (studio version by Steve Greenberg)

    Better Than You Know (studio version by Steve Rosenberg)

     

    Spinners From Old Hard Drives

    2017 - 05.14

    If you know me, or read this blog, you know that I have a lot of old computer parts. Some would say I have too many. Those people are idiots. I saw on the internet that you can buy these spinners that you hold in your hand and spin to keep from being bored, to improve focus, whatever. I figured it would be easy to build some of these out of old Macintosh computer hard drives in my garage. I googled it, and of course, I wasn’t the first person to think of doing this. But I had a ton of old hard drives that needed their data wiped, so I decided to build some spinners, killing any data (and some time) in the process.

    Here’s a few examples of a 2, 3 and 4 piece spinner. These are made completely out of old Macintosh computer hard drives, some super glue, and some leather for the base. No instructions are really needed for this project. Just take apart an old hard drive and start glueing stuff together.

    Do they have a purpose other than to keep fidgety hands busy? No, but they are fun to spin, completely silent, and keep me from tapping on my desk and annoying everyone around me.

    Watch below to see the spinners in action…click the image if the animation doesn’t automatically loop.

    Conviction Plays Menorah Medical Center

    2017 - 04.25

    Here’s my band, Conviction, at the Menorah Medical Center staff party on April 20, 2017. Click image below.

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    Neil deGrasse Tyson on Science In America

    2017 - 04.25

    Please watch this. He is 100% correct. Click below.

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    Lamp Made From Discarded Compact Discs

    2017 - 03.14

    Is anyone out there old enough to remember getting America Online sign-up discs in the mail almost every day? Well…I held on to as many of them as I could, thinking someday I would make something interesting out of them. So here is a lamp that I created a few years ago before I started this blog, so I didn’t think of keeping images of the build itself. It was a pretty simple project. I found a strong circular piece of metal a little smaller than a CD, and drilled 4 holes through it. This was used as a template for the holes and then secured to the top of the lamp once finished. Then I built a wooden frame that would hold a single compact disc in place securely so I could place the metal piece on it and get the holes drilled in exactly the same place on each disc. This was important or the finished lamp wouldn’t look like a nice clean stack of discs. After drilling 4 holes through roughly 250 compact disks…I secured them to a base using 4 long metal screws to keep them from moving, and tightened them down as much as possible. Then it was just a matter of choosing the LED lights. I used the same type of strip lights that you can find at IKEA or online for around $20, the same model that I used for the keyboard lamp posted here.

    Below are pictures of the lamp off, on, and animating.

    Blues and Cousins

    2016 - 11.24

    Tuesday night I did another open mic at Llewelyn’s. This time I was joined by my cousin Deanna (Deannie) and her husband Steve from LA. We’ve both been involved with music for a long time, but never got the opportunity to play together. The great Jerry Fehr is on guitar. Check out 4 songs below.

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    Deanna Hurst-Levine, husband Steve, and Gary at Llewellyn’s open mic night

    Ain’t No Sunshine (click below)
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    I Heard It Through The Grapevine (click below)
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    Chain Of Fools (click below)
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    Crazy Love (click below)
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    Halloween 2016: Pointe Shoes and MSU Bear

    2016 - 10.28

    I love carving pumpkins on Halloween! This year I made a pair of ballet pointe shoes for Bree, and the Missouri State University bear for Jacob. I also made a pumpkin eating a pumpkin, because…why not? Images below…click a picture for a larger version.

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    And just like humans…time is not our friend…

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    Apple Wireless Keyboard Lamp

    2016 - 10.20

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    I noticed the other day that I had accumulated quite a few broken Apple wireless keyboards. I removed all the electronics from them and turned them into a pretty cool looking lamp. Look below for the detailed instructions.

    First, get ahold of 4 broken (or working and willing to be sacrificed) Apple wireless keyboards, and remove the batteries. I used the smaller model, only because I had so many of them. I’d love to make a lamp out of the extended keyboard, but I only have one broken one so far.

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    Start by turning the keyboard over and stick a small regular screwdriver in the corner of the keyboard like in the picture below.

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    Slowly start peeling back the white plastic piece, while being very careful to keep the silver aluminum piece straight. You don’t want the silver part to bend, only the plastic piece with the Apple logo on it.

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    If you are having a hard time, use a hair dryer on hot as you peel the plastic piece back. The hair dryer heats up the adhesive and makes it much easier to remove. Once the white plastic piece is removed, start removing the silver part that holds the keys.

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    The keys come off easily with a little tug, be sure and save them. You can add magnets to them and spell stuff on a refrigerator, or spell out your name, or many other crafts.

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    Now you should have just the silver aluminum keyboard frame.

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    I used some pieces of plastic film that I had from taking apart lcd monitors and glued them to each of the keyboard pieces. This gives the lamp a cloudy, fuzzy look, so the LED lights cause a glow from within. You can use any type of plastic sheeting you can find, or even just use cellophane or cloudy paper.

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    I took 4 of these frames, and glued them together and then to a small piece of wood to hold them steady. I drilled a small hole in this base so the wire from the led lights can fit through. Next I cut a big piece of PVC tubing to fit inside the square structure. The lights I used are a long LED strip of colored lights controlled by a remote. You can find these extremely cheaply online; look at amazon.com, IKEA.com or banggood.com.

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    Take the light strip and attach it to the base of the PVC tube, and circle around the tube until you reach the top, covering the PVC evenly all the way up.

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    For the top cover, I used a cool piece that I found in an old half-sphere iMac. I put a few tiny magnets on the top of the lamp to hold this piece still. It gives a really neat shadow on the ceiling.

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    And that’s basically all there is to it! Click below for a quick video showing the lamp in action.

    I’ve turned some other old macs into lamps as well, such as an original Mac Mini below. It needs no instructions however, just hollow the thing out, and add some lighting.

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    Watch Conviction’s Gig at The Art Factory

    2016 - 08.08

    Click the picture below to watch my band, Conviction, play to a packed house at The Art Factory. The videos were compiled by Jacob using multiple cameras and audio sources into one excellent musical experience!

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    Bree is on Pointe

    2016 - 06.03

    On June 2, 2016 Bree got fitted for her first pair of pointe shoes, and it was quite a production. A bunch of girls from her dance class met at a dance shop up north and got professionally fitted. It took about an hour to get the correct fit and have the shoes sewn to Bree’s exact foot shape and size. Look below for images and clips of the process. Congrats Bree!

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    point one

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    Jacob’s HBHA Graduation 2016

    2016 - 05.17

    Monday evening, May 16th Jacob became a high school graduate. He gave an epic and surprising speech that you can watch below…

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    Bree’s Bat Mitzvah 2016

    2016 - 05.17

    On Saturday morning, May 14 2016, Bree became a Bat Mitzvah. She did an amazing job with our cousin/rabbis Steve and Larry Karol leading the service. It was a very special and meaningful event with friends and family making all the food and treats, and our buddy Steve Klein hosting the party at the Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary in Louisburg. Below are some pictures from the busy weekend, and a few videos that I made for the event.

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    Black Magic Woman DrumCam

    2016 - 04.18

    My band, Conviction, played a great gig to a packed house at The Art Factory April 10, 2016. Here’s a sample, Black Magic Woman by Santana. I mounted my iPhone above and behind the drums to get a first person perspective. Stick around until the end of the song for an extended drum solo with a couple of homages to Neil Peart’s solos from Exit Stage Left. Watch the video full screen to get the full effect.

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    Vicki’s Journal from Jacob’s First Year, Feb-Nov 1998

    2016 - 03.13

    Vicki kept a journal of all the stuff Jacob was doing during his first year. She started February 26, 1998 and continued until Jacob’s first birthday on November 20, 1998. Here it is in PDF form. Use the arrows at the top of the journal to turn the page. If it’s not working, try grabbing the file itself here.

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    Latest Open Mic videos

    2016 - 02.10

    Here’s a few more open mic songs from Llewelyn’s. To watch my growing list of open mic videos from around Kansas City, click here for the youtube playlist.

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    Kitchen Remodel before and after

    2016 - 02.07

    Move the slider below left and right to see our before and after kitchen upgrade. Thanks to Wayne Fritzemeyer and Jill Grace of Creative Remodeling for their hard work! Click the images below the slider to see full screen versions.

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    before

    after

    CES 2016 in Las Vegas

    2016 - 01.11

    This year I flew to a rainy Los Angeles to meet up with my buddy/cousin Dustin of Mac M.D. LA. We then drove to Las Vegas for the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. After 3 days at the show, we had walked 20 miles of convention space and parking lots, and we still didn’t see probably 1/3 of the show. We saw everything from drones, fake “hoverboards”, wearable health monitors, virtual reality headsets, 170,000+ geeks who apparently don’t shower, televisions as thin as 3 credit cards, too many iPhone cases, drug sniffing dogs, and way more than 2 brains could handle. But luckily we also had great food, went bowling, played some mean craps, and basically hung out. Take a look at the video below to get a glimpse of our CES 2016 experience.

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    Click below to see more of the incredible 4k drone footage from Las Vegas. This is a HUGE file, so be sure you have a decent internet connection, and play it full screen at the highest quality you can.

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    More Bree Dance Performances 2015

    2015 - 12.14

    Bree has been performing a lot with the Legacy Dance Company. Click below to watch her perform 4 numbers to a packed house at Union Station. Click the bottom right of the video to view full screen.

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    And here she is performing with Legacy Dance Company and the Metropolitan Strings Orchestra.

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    Bree dances at Crown Center

    2015 - 10.26

    Watch Bree perform 4 dance numbers with the Legacy Dance Company during a halloween show at Crown Center.

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    Buttered Pecan Ice Cream (without an ice-cream maker)

    2015 - 09.23

    I recently found a recipe for ice cream that doesn’t require an ice-cream maker, uses only a few ingredients, and is incredibly tasty and smooth. My favorite way to customize this recipe is to add fresh buttered pecans. The end result is amazing and the whole process is really quick. Here’s what you’ll need:

    4 cups pecan halves

    pecans

    1 tablespoon salt

    salt

    1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons)

    butter

    2 cups heavy whipping cream

    cream

    1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

    sweetcon milk

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    vanilla

    First, combine the melted butter and salt, and add it to the pecans. Stir to fully coat the pecans.

    mix butter with pecans

    Then pour the pecans out in a single layer on a cookie sheet with a silpat or cooking spray so they don’t stick. Bake them at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until they start to brown.

    cooked pecans

    After a few minutes of cooling, cut or break about 3/4 of them in half. In my opinion, this seems to be the perfect size for the ice cream. Take the remaining 1/4 of the pecans and store them in an airtight container. Add these to your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, salads and just about anything else. I usually just eat them plain.

    Now it’s time to make the ice cream. In a large bowl combine the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, and 1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk. Also add 1 tsp of vanilla. Mix everything together with a small electric hand mixer, or stir briskly with a spatula.

    mix mix

    You’ll want to mix for 5-7 minutes, until the mixture gets whipped up with air and has the consistency of…well…whipped cream. You’ll know you’ve whipped it enough when you can stand a straw up in the mixture, or when the spoon marks don’t disappear. Now add the pecans and stir everything up really well.

    add pecans to cream

    The pecans should be suspended in the ice cream, not floating on top or sinking down to the bottom. Stir until you feel the pecans have been evenly distributed. Now pour the mixture into a large container. Cover the container and put it in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

    pour

    When it’s firm you won’t believe how smooth and creamy it is. This basic ice cream mix of whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla makes an incredible base for other ice cream flavors. Try it with fruit, cinnamon, candies etc. Enjoy!

    ice cream

    Retro: Jacob Reads His Favorite Books 2000

    2015 - 09.08

    In honor of Jacob’s upcoming 18th birthday in November 2015, I wanted to remind him of his humble roots. I found these audio files I made in 2000 of him reading me some of his favorite stories mixed with pictures of the book; The Very Noisy Night and The Big Wide Mouthed Frog. Jacob taught himself to read when he was 2, and he would read anything he could get his hands on. We originally thought he was just memorizing the stories, but we tested that theory. We would hand him a book and he would open it to a random page and start reading. He would follow along with his finger and correct himself if he missed a word. He would correct us if we were reading to him and tried to skip a page. It was creepy and cool to watch, so I knew I had to record it, and put it here on the blog for posterity. Click below to listen to Jacob read his favorite stories in his adorable little 2 year old voice.

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    Breckenridge Trip 2015

    2015 - 08.17

    Our vacation this year was again in Breckenridge, Colorado. We zip lined, rafted, rode a mountain roller coaster and alpine slide. Watch the video below to see more of our trip.

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    The iPhone Business Card Case

    2015 - 07.18

    So what do you do with an old out of warranty iPhone 4S? Well, you could sell it to one of the online services like Gazelle, but they only offered me $15 for it. You could use it as an iPod, but it only has about 13 gig of storage, and that wouldn’t even hold half of my iTunes library. Or better yet, you could upcycle it into something new. I realized that the iPhone 4S is just slightly larger than a business card, so I decided to make a case to hold my cards. My goal was to make the case indistinguishable from a working iPhone, even if someone was to hold it in their hands and examine it. I didn’t want any glue or hinges showing from the outside, and all the buttons and screws should be in place. Of course, you could also use this to hide credit cards, money, keys or anything else small that you want to protect from prying eyes…

    Here’s the steps I took to create a unique Apple business card case.

    Step 1: First, get your hands on an old iPhone and remove the 2 tiny screws on both sides of the charging port at the bottom. Then you can easily slide the screen off. Keep the screws as you’ll want to glue them back in place once you’re finished. Once it’s opened, go ahead and remove everything you can from the inside. The largest piece you’ll find is the battery. Keep pulling parts out until you’ve got everything removed. Don’t remove the buttons, charging port or sim card, as you’ll want them intact when the case is completed.

    cardcase1

    Step 2: Once everything is removed, it’s time to use the greatest tool known to man; the Dremel. Use the Dremel to flatten and smooth out the inside of the case, removing any screws and pieces of the frame that you couldn’t remove in step 1. Test the case to be sure it will hold your business cards or valuables, and keep smoothing out the frame until you’ve got the space you need.

    cardcase2

    Step 3: Glue some strong circular magnets to the case at the locations marked below. Use a strong glue like Gorilla or Super glue. This takes some trial and error depending on the size of the magnets you use. I found that glueing 2 magnets to opposite corners of the case, and 1 magnet to opposite corners of the cover worked perfectly. The goal is for the cover to snap closed without any space showing. You want it to look like a regular working iPhone with no hints to what’s inside.

    cardcase3

    Step 4: I went ahead and added a bent paper clip to the case to keep the business cards from falling out. I decided to do this after noticing 2 screw holes at the top of the case that perfectly hold a paper clip securely in place. A little super glue and some bending should be all you need.

    cardcase4

    Add that’s it! Check out the video below to see the completed case. Mine holds about 6 business cards, but my cards are pretty thick. It will hold about 10 if your cards are thinner.

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    Open Mic Nights (updated frequently)

    2015 - 06.25

    I recently discovered the local open mic scene thanks to my buddy and bandmate Steve Greenberg. Open mic nights are where a band lets anyone come up and play with them for a few songs. It’s an absolute blast, as you never know what you are going to play, or who your are going to play with. We’ve seen many guitarists, bassists, drummers and harmonica players, but also a few trombones, saxophones and even a guy playing a saw. So we’ve started to head out to various venues during the week. A previous post talked about the Levee, where we played along with our band member, Vic. Tuesday night Steve and I checked out another bar in south KC called Llywelyn’s. Click below for images and videos of Steve playing a very bluesy harmonica, and me playing drums along with some very talented strangers. Keep this page bookmarked, I’ll be adding new videos here as we get them! The newest videos will be at the top of the post. Here’s a link to the OPEN MIC PLAYLIST ON YOUTUBE where you can easily watch or listen to all the open mic videos that I post.

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    Brianna’s Dance Recital 2015

    2015 - 05.24

    Brianna performed onstage with the Legacy dance academy at the Lied Center in Lawrence, Kansas. This was her 5th time onstage with Legacy and she’s been taking dance lessons from various places around town since she was two. Take a look at the pictures below (click each pic for a larger version) and watch Bree perform her 2 dances by clicking the video link at the bottom.

    bree dance 3 2015bree dance 4 2015bree dance 2015bree dance 2 2015jayhawk 2015

    Conviction Gigs

    2015 - 05.14

    con logo

    My band, Conviction, played a couple of interesting gigs this month. We played at the Overland Park Regional Medical Center for their Stroke Fundraiser. A few of us also went to The Levee in Westport for their open mic night with the Brandon Miller Band.

    Click the pictures below to watch us play. Click the Conviction logo above to go to the band website.

    Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.01.55 AM

    levee2

    Apple ][+ Signed by Woz!

    2015 - 03.04

    As many of you know, I tend to keep old Apple products around our house way past their usefulness. I’ve turned old machines into cases for new machines, G5s and Mac Pros into shelves and benches, hard drives and Airport cases into candy dishes, broken circuit boards into pads of paper, picture frames, coasters and even stranger things if you dig deep enough into this blog. But this time, I wanted to do something very different. I wanted to take an old iconic and personally very meaningful computer and get it signed by the creator. I started looking online to see what would be involved in trying to get Steve Wozniak to autograph my old original Apple ][+ and Apple ][e computers. I knew from the many interviews I’ve read by Woz that he loves his fans, and is usually very accommodating when asked to do things like this. After all, he did give away the original schematics for the Apple I for free to the members of the Homebrew Computer Club before Steve Jobs floated the idea of staring a company.

    After some searching I came across signedbywoz.com. This site offers the service of having Woz sign any item you want (at his discretion I imagine) for a set fee. To say Steve Wozniak is an incredibly busy guy is a huge understatement. He travels and gives lectures constantly, invests in interesting startups, plays Segway Polo, did a stint on Dancing With the Stars (I didn’t watch…I just couldn’t…), and is even looking into moving to Australia. Everyone seems to want a piece of him, and that feeling grew even more intense after his original partner, Steve Jobs passed away in 2011.

    So in early December 2014 I sent off the covers and nervously waited, hoping the postal service didn’t choose this particular package to lose track of. A few back and forth emails with his assistant followed and then, just a few weeks ago, I finally received the case covers signed by the man himself, with an included note of authenticity attached. It felt so strange and surreal to know that my Apple ][ that started me down the path of computer consulting and Apple fandom almost 40 years ago was actually in the hands of the person that invented it and started the personal computer revolution.

    Here’s me proudly holding my original Apple ][+ signed by the one and only Steve Wozniak. I sent the Apple ][e case to my cousin Dustin, owner of Mac MD Los Angeles. This is one obsolete computer that I will only be recycling into cherished wall art, hanging happily above my Powermac G5 bench. Thanks, Woz!

     

     

    woz on the wall

    Conviction Band Blog is now LIVE

    2015 - 02.10

    Check out the blog I created for my band, Conviction. We are a 5 piece band featuring vocals, guitars, bass, percussion and harmonica. Lately we’ve been having a blast playing covers of songs such as 867-5309/Jenny, Behind The Wall of Sleep, I Don’t Wanna Be, some Tom Petty stuff and many others. Click the image below to check out the blog, and book us for an event!

    conviction blog screenshot

    Halloween 2014: Rush, Polygons & Keyblades

    2015 - 01.14

    This year I decided to go as myself for Halloween. No, I wasn’t just being lazy and choosing not to wear a costume, I actually created a mask of…me.

     

    I found a printable paper craft mask on the cool website Thingiverse (click here to download). After printing out the files on good thick paper and assembling it, you have a very generic looking low polygon mask. I then got some flesh colored paint, some wire for the glasses and hundreds of black, white and gray dots later, I have me. This is my go to look when using FaceTime.

    Here’s Jacob being “me” While sitting at my computer. I think my spellcheck is broken…
    My pumpkin this year was a simple and classic Rush logo from their first album.
    Broken drumsticks were added for effect.

    Jacob and I created a very lifelike Keyblade from the great Playstation 2 game Kingdom Hearts 2. We bought a wig and transformed it to look like the games’ main character Sora. Here’s a comparison, I think we did pretty well!

     

    The Upcycled Mac Pro Bench

    2015 - 01.14

    Apple's aluminum Powermac G5 / Mac Pro case is definitely a thing of beauty. The case alone can be found on eBay for as much as $200, proving that people still find this case intriguing even with all the guts removed. Apple used this same basic case design from June 23, 2003 all the way until October 22, 2013 when they introduced the new trashcan shaped Mac Pro. That's over 10 years of the same basic case design. I've used a few of them in the past as stacking cabinets to store cables, extra hard drives and other assorted tech. But after seeing this creation by Klaus Geiger on a German website, I knew I had to have one of my own.

    So I mentioned this strange project to our amazing contractors Wayne and Jill who had just finished completely remodeling our kitchen. I provided the gutted Mac Pro cases and they took care of getting some seriously gorgeous wood pieces and expertly crafted and assembled the bench.

    Wayne used 3 types of wood to create this masterpiece: African mahogany, Wenge and Padouk. He chose these specific wood types based on the natural color of the wood (absolutely no stain was used) and the cool grain detail of the pieces.

    After picking out the wood, Wayne cut and glued the pieces together, sandwiching the reddish Wenge and purple Padouk between the lighter African Mahogany. After letting the glue set, he took the piece downtown to use a special wood planer to get the piece completely smooth and the right thickness. Then he used a very specific router bit to get the edges to exactly match the tops of the Mac Pros.

    Next Jill applied many clear coats of sealant to the piece to bring out the natural colors of the wood and protect it. They then screwed the piece to the cases from the inside so absolutely no hardware is visible from the outside.

    The amazing results can be seen in the pictures below. After delivery, I installed a long strip of LED lights inside the units to illuminate them from the inside. I also used some old memory foam, plywood and an old comforter to create a soft spongy backrest to lean against while sitting on the bench.

    This unit is definitely one of a kind, so I had Wayne and Jill sign the underside of the piece for posterity.

    Do you have old Apple tech that is simply too gorgeous to throw away? Upcycle it into something new…take a look at some of the other projects on this blog (use the links on the right) to see how I created some interesting projects including iPad and MacBookPro cases, Halloween costumes, shelves and more.

    Thanks to Wayne and Jill for their hard work and expert woodworking skills!

     

    Amazing Brown Sugar Bacon Jerky

    2014 - 10.03

    Yes, you read that correctly. Brown sugar bacon jerky. If you’re a fan of bacon, then this is an amazing snack you should try. All you’ll need is some thick cut peppered bacon, tons of brown sugar, an oven and a food dehydrator. You can definitely skip the dehydrating part, but then the bacon will be much less firm and chewy, and it won’t last as long in storage. This recipe is very easy, but does take a long time (6 hours of baking/drying time) due to the very low cooking temperature and drying in the dehydrator.

    First, get yourself some good thick cut bacon. Turkey bacon works just as well. We like the nitrate-free peppered bacon at Trader Joes. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s cut pretty thick and seasoned well.

    Get a large cookie sheet, preferable with sides so nothing spills or drips into your oven. Cover the pan with a thin coat of brown sugar. Cut each strip of bacon in half, and then coat both sides with the brown sugar. While you’re getting your hands messy with sugar and bacon, pre-heat the oven to 225 degrees.

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    Cover another cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with Pam or some other non-stick spray, and place the brown sugar coated bacon strips on it, being careful to not overlap them. Bree had way too much fun doing this part.

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    Once the bacon is coated and ready, bake it in the oven for 1.5 hours at 225 degrees. Then flip the bacon strips over, and cook them for another 1.5 hours.

    image

    After the 3 hours in the oven, the bacon will have an amazing dark brown color and it will smell incredible. Transfer the strips (that you haven’t already eaten) to a food dehydrator, pat them with a paper towel to remove some moisture and dry them at the highest setting for about 3 more hours.

    image

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    Check the bacon every hour or so, and flip them over while patting them with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible.

    When you’re done, you should have crisp, firm and delicious candied bacon. You can store the bacon in ziplock bags in the refridgerator for up to a week, but trust me…they won’t last that long. Eat them plain, try them in a BLT or crumble them up in a salad. Ooh…I think I’m drooling…

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    Summer Trip to Breckenridge, CO 2014

    2014 - 08.24

    We spent the first week of August in Idaho Springs and Breckenridge, CO. Our cousins Dustin and Danielle Tiep (of MacMD Los Angeles) joined us for the last half of the trip. We had a great time…take a look at the video below to see some of the fun stuff we did.

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    The MakerBot 3D Printer is amazing

    2014 - 02.07

    maker

    macmd 3d loop

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    Leslie Katz…in FRONT of the camera!

    2013 - 12.17

    Leslie went and got herself photographed and quoted by ESPN’s website the other day. Very non-typical Leslie. Read it here:

    http://frontrow.espn.go.com/2013/12/monday-night-football-replay-team-always-at-the-ready/

    Monday Night Football - November 18, 2013

    Click pictures for larger versions

    Monday Night Football - December 9, 2013

    Brianna’s Cooking Show Episode 7: Latkes

    2013 - 12.09

    Brianna is back with a special holiday cooking show. In this episode, Brianna, Aunt Leslie, and Grandma Barbara make latkes for Hanukkah using an old family recipe. These latkes can even be made gluten free. Take a look, and be sure to watch the outtakes at the end.

    Special thanks to Jacob Katz and the HBHA Tech Club for the use of their equipment, direction, and editing expertise.
    (http://www.rampagewired.com)

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    Jacob’s Seriously Amazing Animation

    2013 - 08.24

    My boy Jacob just finished his first animation, it’s our Minecraft animated family singing to Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are.

    I asked Jacob a few months ago to help me animate a few lines of the song for a video present to Vicki. He took the idea and ran with it, creating the whole family, a stage, and a working drum set in Maya and then animated them to the entire song. Check out the modeling, lip-syncing, lighting, and camera work Jacob did! He learned a ton making this video, and has some pretty grandiose ideas on what to animate next.

    A behind-the-scenes video will be posted shortly. Be sure and subscribe to Jacob’s YouTube channel to get notified when he posts new videos.

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    Brianna’s Cooking Show Episode 6: Cinnamon Rolls!

    2013 - 08.07

    After a long hiatus, Brianna is back with a new episode of her world famous cooking show web series.

    This time, she tackles Vicki’s “secret” cinnamon roll recipe. Filmed and edited by brother Jacob. Click here to see some of Jacob’s other projects.

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    Brianna’s Dance Recital 2013

    2013 - 05.26

    Brianna got to show off her ballet skills at the Lied Center in Lawrence, Kansas once again. This was her 4th time on stage (the performance is every 2 years). Click on the pictures for larger versions, and be sure and watch the movie below.

    Brianna ballet 2013

    Brianna ballet 2013

    Brianna ballet 2013

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    Merchandising Myself

    2013 - 04.12

    A lot my clients tell me that many of their problems disappear the second I get close to their computers. That got me thinking…what if I had a little version of myself that I could sell them, that would sit by their computer all the time and keep problems away? Other than the obvious silliness of the idea, I found a few apps that could help me create a virtual bobble head, and even a printable paper craft of my likeness.

    The first app is called Bobbleshop, and lets you create an animated bobble head with tons of different details, and lets you tweak the look with different eyes, ears, and other face details. I’d love to have a real version of this on the dashboard of my car. Click the image for a larger version.

    Gary bobblehead

    The next app lets you create and print out a custom paper craft of your avatar. You then cut out the model, fold and glue it together. It’s called PaperChibi. Before I printed out the paper me and a paper version of my car, I used my remedial Photoshop skills to add some details such as the MACMD license plate and the tiny iPhone. Click the image for a larger version.

    Gary papercraft

    Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to monetize my avatars, and there will be a little personal MACMD on everyone’s desk, while I sit home and count my millions…

    Jacob and Friends Rock Out at Winterims

    2013 - 03.13

    Check out the jazz band class that Jacob took during winterims at HBHA. Winterims are a week of fun “camp like” classes that the students can pick from. These happen every year for upper schoolers, the first week after winter break. This year they offered a jazz band class, so we loaded up the drum kit, and Jacob got to play with a few of his friends. He also taught his own class on 3D Modeling.

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    My Happy Place (updated)

    2013 - 01.31

    Here’s a panoramic view of my happy place, behind the drum kit in my office/ theater/ mancave/ game room. Created from 15+ photos using an app called Photosynth, then cleaned up in Photoshop.

    katz kit

    CLICK THE IMAGE FOR THE FULL VERSION

    Halloween 2012: Gaping Wounds, Pumpkins and Seeds

    2012 - 10.30

    This Halloween I created a nasty looking wound using my iPad, an old costume and an app called Digital Dudz.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FINISHED COSTUME

    I also carved a couple Futurama themed pumpkins; Bender and Nibbler (click to enlarge):

    When you carve a pumpkin, don’t toss the seeds! They are high in Vitamin E and Zinc. Here’s a simple recipe to roast them:

    1. Separate the seeds from the pumpkin guts. Put them in a colander.

    2. Wash them under warm water and try to get the guts off. Measure (cups) how many clean seeds you have.

    3. Put them into a small pot with a few cups of water. Add 1 Tablespoon of salt for each 1/2 cup of seeds.

    4. Bring the water to a boil and let the seeds simmer in the salt water for 10 minutes.

    5. While the water is boiling set the oven to 300 degrees and melt 1 Tablespoon of butter for each cup of seeds, in a bowl. Add a little garlic powder or pepper.

    6. After 10 minutes drain the seeds and add them to the melted butter and stir well.

    7. Pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking sheet and spread it out.

    8. Add the salted and buttered seeds to the pan, and spread them out into a single layer.

    9. Sprinkle a little salt on the seeds and put them on the top shelf in the oven.

    10. After about 15 minutes, stir the seeds around, spread them out into a single layer again, and add a little more salt.

    11. Bake the seeds for another 15 minutes, and stir them around again. Bake for another few (5-10) minutes, keep an eye on them as they burn easily, and take them out as they begin to brown.

    12. Let them cool, and enjoy!

    Funnies

    2012 - 09.20
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    Me and My Mini, by Steve Duffendack

    2012 - 09.09

    Here’s an awesome drawing of me and my Mini Cooper done by the amazing Steve Duffendack. Please click the image for a large version. Thanks Steve!

    Danielle and Dustin’s Wedding 9/2/2012

    2012 - 09.08

    We recently attended the wedding of my cousin Dustin Tiep in Los Angeles, CA. Dustin owns Mac M.D. LA (www.macmdla.com). My sister Leslie hooked us up with first class tickets (thanks, Les!) so we arrived ready to have fun. We had an incredible time in California. We had amazing Thai food with Vicki’s cousin Rhonda, walked around Glenwood, and basically just relaxed.

    The wedding was very emotional, beautiful and fun. We really enjoyed meeting everyone, especially Dustin’s groomsmen, and cousins we didn’t know or hadn’t seen in years.

    Below is a compilation of images and a video of the event. Click any image for a much larger version. Play the video full screen with music cranked for the full effect! Thanks so much for inviting us, guys!

    Vicki posed by the waterfall at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. We’ll be married for 20 years in November. She looks so cute, so I had to brag for a minute.

    Married for approximately 30 seconds, Danielle and Dustin pause for a kiss under a textbook perfect sun flare!

    Me. Dustin. Open bar. Enough said.

    Adorable Zachary cooling off beautiful bride, Danielle.

    This is my shoe immediately after the wedding. It literally fell apart in huge chunks. I was leaving a trail of what looked like playground rubber from the elevator to the room. Vicki was laughing so hard she wasn’t making any noise. Now, I’m not saying what caused the destruction of perfectly good 20 year old, 40 dollar shoes (or was it 40 year old, 20 dollar shoes…?) but I think we might be able to blame the hora. I should’ve worn the white flip flops the girls were wearing…

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    Click the video above to play. High quality, full screen recommended

    Chicago Trip 2012

    2012 - 08.08

    We took a summer vacation to Chicago this year, and instead of driving or flying, we chose to take the Amtrak train. It was a lot of fun being able to walk around the train and visit the observation deck and snack cars. The ride was about 8 hours, but went really quickly.

    We had a great time visiting the aquarium, planetarium and Museum of Science and Industry. We also got a chance to visit some old friends, take the architectural boat tour and eat at Ed Debevec’s (known for their great food and incredibly RUDE servers).

    The museum was probably the best part of the trip. We could have easily spent another day or two playing with the hands-on exhibits, flight simulators and science demos.

    Below is a quick 2 minute mashup movie of our trip. Hit play and enjoy!

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    Random Pictures

    2012 - 06.08

    Here’s a few images that I wanted to share. Click on any image for a larger version. Enjoy!

    Making Hard Cider (Updated!)

    2012 - 04.10

    So, we’ve made beer, and mead. What else can we ferment? How about apple cider?

    A quick web search brought up a ton of very simple recipes for “hard” or alcohic apple cider. The Louisburg Cider Mill, about 20 minutes south of Kansas City, has been pressing apples into cider since 1977. I picked up 5 gallons of their fresh cider (and a few cider doughnuts). I also grabbed 2 packets of Lalvin 71b-1122 dry wine yeast at a beer/wine supply store. These were only 85 cents each.

    We poured the 5 gallons of cider into our large pot that we use for beer. Then we simmered the mixture over medium heat for 45 minutes. This kills the natural wild yeast and bacteria that is present in the cider. You don’t want the cider to boil, or pectins can form which change the flavor of the cider and make it cloudy.

    While heating the cider, we added 2 pounds of brown sugar. This boosts the sugar content of the mixture which leads to greater alcohol production.

    After 45 minutes, we poured the mixture into our large primary fermentation bucket. Before adding or “pitching” the yeast, the cider needs to cool down to room temperature. We put the bucket into our sink with cold water and ice to help speed the process along.

    Once the cider reached room temperature, we pitched the yeast and sealed the bucket up. Now it sits downstairs (next to the mead) in a dark cool corner of our basement for 3 weeks to ferment.

    I’ll update this post when we bottle it…

    —————-UPDATE—————–


    The cider has been bottled, tasted and tasted again! According to our calculations (I was a psych major, YOU do the math…) there is about 8.7% alcohol. We put the cider into beer bottles with their own caps, and a few larger bottles with corks and screw tops. The bottles were stored in my custom PVC tubing cabinet along with the mead we made a few months back.

    The cider is definitely strong, but isn’t as sweet at it will be in a few weeks or months. We added some brown sugar to the mix before bottling to give the yeast a little more sugar to chew on. Once the bottle is sealed the yeast will give off a little more carbon dioxide and alcohol, carbonating the cider and upping the alcohol content a little more. We’re thrilled with the taste, and we’re looking forward to the cider sweetening with age. In August, Louisburg Cider Mill will be mashing up fresh cider and you can bring your own bucket to fill. This is supposedly the BEST type of cider to use as it is completely fresh without any preservatives or other yeast killing ingredients. We’ll be making another batch then, stay tuned!

    —————————— UPDATE 12/4/12 —————————–

    Since the Mayans predicted the end of the world on the 21st, I thought it would be a good time to make another batch of hard cider. No one wants to face the end of the world sober. This time, we took the recommendations of the commenters below, and followed this recipe from a local brewing supply store:

    http://www.bacchus-barleycorn.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=98

    There are many differences in this batch from the last one. We stayed with the 2 pounds of brown sugar and didn’t bother heating the cider to kill off any impurities since the cider was already pasteurized. We also added a few ingredients such as pectic enzyme powder, acid blend, wine tannin, and yeast energizer. I’ll update this post as the cider ferments, and we’ll see if this batch is as good as the last one.

    Puppy Love – Brianna in 435 South Magazine

    2012 - 03.01

    Brianna learned about the horrors of puppy mills at school. She was so upset about the treatment of these animals that she created a “Stop Puppy Mills” petition and has been getting pages and pages of signatures. She even got Mayor Sly James to sign it when he was visiting the school. In the March 2012 issue of 435 South Magazine is an article about her campaign. Read the article here or click the image below for a larger version:

    http://www.435southmag.com/March-2012/Puppy-Love/

    Making Mead

    2012 - 02.13

    I’ve always wanted to make mead, a wine like beverage made from fermented honey. So the other night I got the ingredients together (basically just water, honey and yeast) and made a gallon. It will take at least 6 months of fermentation before it will be drinkable, and probably a year or so before it will be really tasty.

    Mead pre-dates beer and can be traced back 20,000 to 40,000 years. It’s a very simple process: you clean and sanitize everything, just like when you brew beer. You add 3 pounds of honey to about a gallon of water, and then add some mead yeast and activation powder. Then you shake it up, pop in the fermentation lock, and wait a month. Then you transfer the mead to a gallon jug and let it sit for at least 6 months (12-24 months preferred).


    Of course while we made the mead, we had to drink some too. So I got two different brands to taste. It tastes like a VERY sweet wine, and is quite delicious. I’ll update this post when we rack and bottle the mead in a few weeks. Since it takes so long, we’re going to make 2 more batches so this summer we’ll have a steady flow of good libations. Perhaps a chocolate or cherry mead next?

    •••••••••••••••• UPDATE ••••••••••••••••

    We finally bottled the mead, and now we wait. For at least a year. Here’s some shots of the bottling process. You’ve got to be sure everything that touches the mead is clean and sanitized, so we cleaned out the bottles, spoons, and hoses with One Step powder dissolved in warm water. Click any image for a larger version.

    Then we put the plastic bucket up on the table and syphoned out the mead into bottles down on the ground.

    This is the stuff you don’t want to drink. It’s the remains of the yeast that settles on the bottom during fermentation.

    I built a storage rack for beer about 15 years ago out of wood and pvc tubing. It keeps the beer/mead/cider stationary while the carbonation builds up until it’s ready to drink. A piece of canvas covers up the pvc tubing to keep the bottles out of the sunlight. Shhhhhh! We’re sleeping…see you in a year.

    Our Family Trip to Orlando, Florida

    2012 - 01.23

    Vicki, Jacob, Brianna and I just got back from a week in Orlando. We went to Disney World, Universal Studios, City Walk and Old Town. It was a great trip, and we took WAY too much media of the sights. I’ve managed to condense the trip into an easily digestible 4 minute movie so everyone can see just the best bits of our trip.
    YouTube Preview Image

    Here are a few things we learned on our vacation:

    1. Buy the Meal Pass. It’s totally worth it. You pay up front but can eat as much as you want from certain restaurants.

    2. The Fast Pass is also worth it to go ahead of most people in line. Since it was January, the lines were pretty tame, but it was still nice to save a lot of time waiting, and made us feel superior to everyone we got to pass in line.

    3. Universal Studios cookies are awesome. With our Meal Pass we managed to horde quite a few of them. I think we left Orlando with about 11 cookies in my carry on. I think the TSA thought I was a chocolate chip smuggler.

    4. Large crowds of people can be scary. Especially when everyone is crowding in front of the castle to watch a fireworks show.

    5. Universal Studios is way more fun than Disney World. If you have to choose one, choose Universal. The Harry Potter and Simpsons rides were way better than anything at Disney.

    6. The water rides are cold. Very cold. Especially in January. And it will take you all day to dry off. By the time you’re finally dry, Bree will talk you into riding it again.

    I also used a great program on my iPhone called DMD Panorama to take some quick 360 degree panoramic shots of Old Town and City Walk. Click on the images for larger versions.

    My Dad

    2012 - 01.06

    Arthur Stanley Katz
    October 8, 1937 – December 27, 2011

    A few days ago I lost my father to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 74. He was diagnosed just 2 years ago, and very quickly started to disappear in front of our eyes. My father taught me many things in my lifetime; how to sail, waterski, fly fish. He taught me how to play poker and backgammon. He showed me how to take good photographs and we even built a darkroom together to develop our own film. He taught me that if I was honest with him, he’d always have my back.

    [Click any image for a larger version]

    He joined me on Boy Scout overnights, scout camp and became an honorary warrior in the tribe of Mic-O-Say. We shared a lifelong love of the drums and jazz music. He taught me about the business world and how to take care of clients. He came up with the business plan for my company on a napkin at dinner. He was also directly responsible for starting my career in computers.

    It was Hanukkah 1979 and I really wanted an Atari video game system. I was getting quite bored with the old video game system, Pong. He decided that it would be better for me, and “build more character” if we got a home computer instead of a game system. I was disappointed (for some reason) but went to ComputerLand with him to purchase it. We looked at the Apple II+ system and it was way out of our price range. We started to walk out, and the owner called my dad aside. “Special”, he said. “Today only” and handed him a folded up piece of paper with a price on it. I never found out what the magic price was, but the next thing I knew we were opening up the back of the station wagon and loading in some huge boxes. We brought home an Apple II+, booted up the startup disk and installed the one game that came with the computer, Space Quarks. Actually, I installed the game while my dad attempted to read the manual. I got seriously bitten by the computer bug that night. We learned every thing there was to know about that computer. Over the next few years we really bonded over the technology, and discussed at length where we each saw the computer industry going. (Turns out he was mostly right…)

    In 1983 my father was doing some consulting work with a company called Personal Computer Center in Ranch Mart Shopping Center. He decided to ask the owner if there were any openings at the store. Summer was coming up, and he wanted me to get a job so I didnt just sit around the house all day playing adventure games on the Apple and writing little AppleSoft basic programs to create my D&D characters.

    The job that was available was Janitor. So he came home and told me that he got me a job at a computer store…as the janitor. Then he smiled the Art smile. My dad loved things that “built character”, especially in me. I took the job, and it became very clear early on that I knew much more about computers than I did about toilets (still true today). Turns out I knew more about computers than the sales people, so after about a year I was offered a job as a Sales Consultant. It was at Personal Computer Center that I met the people that later started MacSource, a Macintosh computer specialty store where I worked as a support technician and met a cute little sales girl named Vicki Singer who has been my wife for over 19 years. It’s strange to think how that path may not have existed if we got the Atari.

    If you think of a person’s personality as a series of water faucets all flowing in different colors, Alzheimer’s starts to turn those faucets off, slowly, one by one. I could see my father change with the disease, as his faucets began to turn off.

    He became unable to operate a computer or cellphone. He would have “empty spaces” as we called them, in conversations. He would begin to tell a story, and end up losing the point and ending the story in silence. This was one of the most difficult parts of his disease for me, as my father and I used to spend hours talking about computers, marketing, business, gadgets, fishing, everything. If you brought up the fact that his stories were trailing off he would get angry and deny that it was happening. During a fishing trip with me a few years ago, he finally admitted that it was happening, but not very often, and there was nothing to worry about. So I didn’t push, and just tried to keep the conversation going as best as I could. We cooked dinner in our cabin, drank some beer that I made, and had a toast to catching fish.

    My dad really seemed to change after he was hospitalized a few years ago. This was before his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. They pumped some sort of disgusting dark fluid out of him that was the result of some blockage in his system. When he came out of this procedure, he was never really the same. The family would come to visit him in the hospital, but he would think we were all there for a meeting. Whenever we would all be there, he made us sit down and answer questions much like the focus groups he used to run for years. It was upsetting but also…hilarious. He wanted someone to take notes or schedule follow up meetings, and would get very upset if we reminded him why we were really there. After he got home, his personality seemed different, and he really started to lose the ability to operate his computer or phone. He would go days without checking his email. Voicemails would stack up. He would print out entire webpages or articles (in color) and drive them over to my house, rather than just email me the link. Of course, he did love driving…

    On top of all this, my dad was in the process of writing a book on branding. His opus. He had been working all his life in marketing, consulting and advertising and knew quite a lot about the branding process. My dad saw a correlation between emotions that brands elicit, and how buyers react to those emotions. He used the term “emotives”.

    He started to write this book before the disease really took hold, and it kept him busy even after he had trouble editing or researching information. As the disease progressed, he started to really struggle with the book. He would spend days and days editing something that had already been edited. He would meet with The University of Kansas who was very interested in turning the book into a course, but he was unable to actually do the work. Our conversations changed from talking about many different things, to talking only about the book; who I should send it to, who I should get help from, who we should meet with, what we should change or add. If I ever brought up the disease or his symptoms, he would get very angry and tell me that it’s not a problem. During this time, we would see him as often as possible, talk about the book, go to lunch, but mostly leave him to work on this project that he was so invested in. Soon it became very apparent to everyone but my dad, that this book and/or course was not going to happen. The book was a mess, edited to death, confusing and unclear. Plus, the information was dated and irrelevant in today’s marketplace. We continued to support his “working” on it, by helping whenever we could. His weekly visits to KU in Lawrence (about a 30 minute highway drive from KC) were worrying the family to death, as he would be driving alone to and from these meetings without a cell phone. After every meeting he would tell me that it went well, that things were happening and that the project was moving forward. I finally went behind his back and talked to one of the people in Lawrence that he would meet with. He told me that my father would show up at his office unannounced, and that he would spend the “meeting” shuffling papers around of websites he had printed, letters he had sent, spam email about marketing leads, etc. The people at KU were very nice and let him do his thing, but the course was not going to happen and they just didn’t know how to tell him, because they liked him so much. The thought of him driving to Lawrence every week alone was a huge source of stress for me. I began to lose weight and sleep, and couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen to my dad if he got lost or forgot which side of the road to drive on. We knew we had to take the car away, but he said if he couldn’t drive we “might as well kill him”.

    The problem eventually took care of itself, thankfully without anyone getting hurt. Dad was supposed to deliver dinner to a friend one night and Salli hadn’t heard from him in hours. He never had his cellphone on him, or couldn’t figure out how to use it when he did bring it. Finally a family friend called me and said that a daycare way out south had called them after going through his wallet for identification. He didn’t know who he was or why he was there. We drove out to the daycare to find my dad sitting happily by the front desk, eating a cookie and talking to some police officers. He said “Hi Gary” when I walked in, but couldn’t tell me why he was there. He would just kind of smile and laugh and change the subject. On the way home I explained to him that it’s not safe for him to be driving, but he had already forgotten the incident. There were a few times when he would ask if someone stole his car, or where it was, but he mainly just accepted it, or forgot all about it. One night Salli awoke to find that Dad wasn’t in bed. He apparently decided to take a walk. We had the police and everyone looking for him for a few hours. Eventually he was found a few blocks away sitting on someone’s doorstep unharmed but confused, tired and cold.

    The decline from there was very fast. He became more and more incontinent. His speech became just a few words and phrases. He couldn’t walk by himself. But you could see in his eyes that he wanted to contribute to the conversation. He would still get a huge smile on his face and laugh whenever he looked at his grandkids.

    When I’d shake his hand he would hold mine really tight and laugh. He’d wear two different shoes. Two watches. He’d “read” the paper, mumbling words from the headlines. He’d look at pictures over and over and put them into groups…reordering them into different piles, stacking them, straightening them. Towards the end it was very much like watching a young child discovering the items around them. Eventually he was no longer able to do anything but close his eyes and we knew the end was near. Everyone got their time to say goodbye, and he passed away peacefully in his sleep. Thank you, Dad, for all you did for us. We love you, and we’ll miss you.

    [please feel free to leave a comment or thought about Art below.]

    New Family Pictures

    2011 - 12.26

    Thank you Rye for taking such great shots of me and my family!
    (theryestudio.com
     
    Click on each picture for a larger version.  
     

     

    Happy New Year 2012!

    2011 - 12.26

    It’s tough to find the time to pose for family pictures, but we did our best this year.  Happy new year to everyone!

     
     

    Pumpkins 2011

    2011 - 10.31

    This year I carved an Evil Monkey for Jacob and Winnie the Pooh for Bree. Click the images for larger versions.

    Brianna went as “Miss D. Meaner”. Jacob reached the age where dressing up and walking in the cold isn’t as fun as it used to be.

    20111103-123722.jpg

    20111103-123739.jpg

    The by product of pumpkin carving is of course, roasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!

    Homemade Granola Power Bars

    2011 - 10.27

    I’ve been making these granola power bars for a few months and eating them for breakfast and when I miss lunch. They are fantastic and very filling.

    Watch as Brianna walks you through how to make them yourself. Filmed and edited by big brother Jacob.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Homemade Percussion: Chimes and Temple Blocks

    2011 - 10.04

    Jacob and I purchased a new drum set a few weeks ago. I had been using my Dad’s old classic “Buddy Rich” style set since I was 7, and my Dad got it when he was around 13. It served us both very well, and now resides back at my Mom’s house. The new set is a nice black Ludwig with dual bass pedals, Zildjian cymbals, and more toms. I wanted to add some other percussion pieces to it, and I was also looking for a reason to use some power tools…so I built a set of homemade wind chimes and temple blocks. Store bought temple blocks like the kind I made go for about $260 and good chimes for about $100. I spent about $175 on the materials for both and had a few fun weekends with my friend Steve.

    Here are the chimes and temple blocks mounted on the new set. Click any image for a larger version. Read on to see how I made them:

    Let’s start with the chimes. You can make great chimes out of many different kinds of material. I chose copper because it was inexpensive and very easy to cut with a Dremel. You can buy long pieces of the tubing at any hardware store, and you’ll find many other types of material in the same section. Different material will make very different sounding chimes. Cut the copper to size with your power tool of choice, and drill a small hole about 1/4 inch from the top of each piece.

    Get a piece of wood to mount the copper. You can use just about anything, I read about a guy who used a simple paint stirrer from the hardware store. I used a small piece of oak because it’s very strong and has a nice wood grain look to it. Drill holes every 1/2 inch or so, for each piece of copper that you are using. Tie each piece of copper to the wood using fishing line. It helps to put something like a drumstick or another small piece of wood between the chimes and the wood to get the right spacing.

    That’s it! I added a wooden handle on top to hold the chimes, and also put some stain on the wood to bring out the grain. Click the play button below to hear Jacob demo how they sound:

    To make the temple blocks, I first did some research on the kind I wanted to make. I found a set of handmade blocks and used them as my guide.

    Basically, the blocks are rectangular boxes with the front and back open, mounted to a piece of wood. There is also a small slit in the side that gives the blocks their distinctive sound and tone. Decide the dimensions of the blocks you want to use, and get to cutting.


    The blocks will need to be mounted to the piece of wood, so you need to drill two holes in the bottom of each block. I used large hex screws to secure the blocks to the wood. Drill these holes and insert the two screws, then glue the wood together with a strong glue such as Gorilla Wood Glue.


    Once the wooden box is glued together with the screws inserted, clamp everything down tightly and let it dry for a few hours.

    You should now have 5 different sized boxes, each with two large screws coming out of the back.

    Once the glue is dry, cut a slit in the front of each block, no more than half way through the length of the block. This slit is what gives the blocks their great sound, and is also responsible for the tone (high or low) of the sound. The smaller the slit, the higher the sound. You’ll want to experiment a little with the depth of this slit to get the sound tuned to your liking.

    Now it’s time to sand and stain the blocks. A power sander comes in very handy for this and I used a basic clear urethane to bring out the wood grain. Mount the blocks to a long thin piece of strong wood using the screws and wing nuts.

    To mount this massive thing to your drumset, you’ll need a decent mounting rig. I used a Rhythm Tech Quad percussion mount for under $29.00 to mount to an existing cymbal stand. Press play on the movies below to hear how they sound:

    The Newest Apple in our House

    2011 - 08.11

    I was always bummed that I never got to own an Apple Newton. Well, thanks to cousin Dustin Tiep (of Mac MD LA) those days are over.

    I am now the proud owner of an original working Newton MessagePad. I’ll configure it to get my email as soon as I find something called a “mo-dum”.

    (thanks Dustin!)

    Happy Birthday Vicki! August 9, 2011

    2011 - 08.08

    Click the image for a much larger version

    Art the Little Drummer Boy

    2011 - 07.18

    Click the images for larger versions of Art then and now.

    1944

    2011

    More Computers, Less Hair

    2011 - 07.17

    Click for larger versions

    1980

    2011

    Old us, new us

    2011 - 07.02

    Here’s a picture of me and my sister Leslie from 1968 and recreated in 2011.

    The iPad Concert Theater

    2011 - 06.05

    Well, it was bound to happen. I got inspired to destroy another perfectly good shoebox after watching some Rush concert footage the other day. I found a box that happened to be the perfect size for an iPad, and a few days later, the iPad Concert Theater was born.

    It started with an oversized shoebox.

    Then a few Google searches for images of people at concerts; waiting in line, cheering, sitting in their seats, etc. I added a few Rush logos here and there, and printed the images out. (click the images for larger versions)


    Then I glued the images to the inside and outside of the shoebox, and covered the images with Mod Podge, a glue/sealer that dries clear and protects the pictures from fingerprints or scratches. The cheering crowds were attached with string to the insides of the box so they could move and jiggle side to side creating the live concert effect.


    Check out the youtube video below to see how it all came together. The kits are available at www.personalmovietheater.com.

    Cool 360 Degree Panoramic Images

    2011 - 05.29

    I’ve made a few panoramas of some of my favorite places. A 360 degree panoramic image is made up of many single pictures blended together to get a full view of a location. They are extremely easy to make and can be created with just your cellphone. Just stand still and take a picture, then turn a little in one direction and overlap something from the first picture. Keep spinning in a circle and taking pictures until you are back to where you started. There are many panoramic applications that will then stitch together your multiple images into one single 360 degree image. Click the links below and wait a few seconds for the 360 degree views to load, then click and drag your way around the scene:


    Fishing at the White River Resort in Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Click to view Panoramic One
    Click to view Panoramic Two
    Click to view Panoramic Three


    The rooftop view at Steve Klein Design in Kansas City, Missouri
    Click to view Panoramic One
    Click to view Panoramic Two
    Click to view Panoramic Three
    Click to view Panoramic Four


    Big Cats at the Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary in Louisburg, Kansas
    Click to view Panoramic One
    Click to view Panoramic Two


    A sleepy Sunday morning at the Circle S Ranch near Lawrence, Kansas
    Click to view Panoramic

    Macintosh Tips and Tricks Book Available on iTunes

    2011 - 05.08

    My buddy Roman Zavrel from the Czech Republic website www.letemsvetemapplem.eu has translated his book on Macintosh Tips and Tricks for 10.6 to English, and it’s now available in the iBookstore.

    Take a look here:

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/101-tips-tricks-for-mac-os/id407302036?mt=11

    Way to go Roman! Keep up the great work!

    The Recycled iBook iPad Sleeve

    2011 - 04.16

    Another one of a kind project using an end-of-life iBook.

    My son and I gutted the machine, and took out everything we could leaving the empty shell. Using a Dremel I removed any part of the inside that was sharp or took up space. I then glued some soft fuzzy material inside to cradle the iPad and secured the two sides of the iBook together.

    I used some strong magnets and a small strap of leather to keep the iPad in the sleeve.

    Take a look at the video below to watch the magic happen!

    An iPad Case from 1945? How To Make Your Own

    2011 - 04.05

    Apple’s iPads are incredible, beautiful, and a joy to use. They aren’t cheap however, and the investment is worth protecting. You definitely should have a smart cover or case to keep the iPad from getting scratched or cracked. I decided to use some wood and a pair of old shorts to create a black distressed case to protect and tote it. I used a 3/8 inch thick piece of wood, an old pair of shorts with the fuzzy inside (like Wilson gym shorts or sweats), some 3/8 inch square wooden rods from a craft store, brass screws, a piece of leather from a luggage tag, a large gold brad, some strong round magnets, wood glue (gorilla glue), and black wood stain.

    I wanted to create something that looked old and weathered, like an official Apple carrying case circa 1945. Here’s the process:

    Get a sheet of thin 3/8 inch wood from the hardware store. This large piece (enough to make about 4 cases) was under $5.00. Cut 2 pieces about an inch larger than the size of the iPad. Cut a small half-circle out of the top of both pieces. This is where you’ll grab the iPad to pull it out of the case.

    Cut up your shorts or sweats into 2 pieces the same size as the 2 pieces of wood.

    Be sure your iPad will fit snuggly between the square rods without sliding side to side. Using the wood glue, attach a piece of the shorts to the wood, and cut the square rods to fit 3 sides of the wood. Clamp down the 3 rods tightly and let them dry. Build the other piece of wood the same way, but before glueing down the soft material, drill a hole and insert the gold brad through the leather and the wood.

    This will keep the leather strap in position without the risk of it popping off. Once you bend the brad, glue the soft material over it, like the first piece. Position them together and make sure your iPad fits snuggly between them, encased in the soft material. You may need to add a small piece of wood on all 3 sides to get the proper spacing. The iPad should slide in and fit snuggly but not too tightly.

    Cut the luggage tag to about 4 inches. Take one of the small magnets and glue it on the other end of the leather. Fold the end over the magnet and glue it down tightly. The magnet should be covered by the leather on both sides.

    Put the 2 pieces of wood together and fold the leather piece over. Mark where the magnet touches the wood on the other side. This is where you’ll need to glue another magnet so the leather piece can keep the iPad from slipping out of the case. I used a dremel to drill a little into the wood so the magnet would rest flush.

    Once you are sure that the spacing is correct, glue the 2 pieces of wood together with the wood glue and clamp them down. Once dry, add the small brass screws around the box on both sides. Sand all the edges so it is completely smooth all around the box.

    I had an old back cover from a titanium G4 powerbook laying around so I used it to spray the Apple logo onto one of the sides of the wood. I sprayed it with a clear acrylic sealer from a craft store. This was to keep the wood under the logo from staining black and made it show through in a very cool and distressed looking way.

    Now it’s time to stain. Using a black wood stain, rub all the visible wood being very careful around the opening where the iPad slips in. The Apple logo should resist the stain and show through. Once the stain is dry, I sprayed the whole box with the acrylic sealer to protect the wood and give it a nice matte finish.

    And that’s how you protect your $600 investment with about $20 worth of materials. Please let me know if you make your own, I’d love to see other DIY cases!

    Bart Mitzvah Success

    2010 - 12.17

    Jacob pulled off a flawless performance at his Bar Mitzvah last weekend. Here’s some pictures from his party; Simpsons themed of course. Vicki and Heather made amazing Simpsons cookies and giant donut cakes, the kids played Rock Band on a massive screen and rolled around in a huge hamster ball. Outside a portable arcade truck had 3 big screens with video games inside. Thank you to everyone that helped make it an amazing weekend!

    (Click on the video at the bottom of the list to hear a sample of the fun.)

    Click each picture for a larger version.






    Our 2010 Fishing Trip!

    2010 - 12.05

    Art, Salli, Vicki and Gary spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Mountain Home, Arkansas for a quick fishing trip. The girls stayed back at the cabin while Art and Gary fished with their guide Presley. The boys caught over 30 fish and everyone had a great time! Click on a picture for a larger version.







    Great commercial

    2010 - 11.21

    Creating new little Rush fans. I’ve done my part.

    Pumpkins!

    2010 - 10.25

    I love October. Driving with the top down, apple cider, costumes and carving pumpkins. This year Jacob is a zombie doctor. Or a zombie patient, or something. Bree is a 50’s Diner Girl. Our latest pumpkins, Alfred E. Newman and Glee, plus some from the past are below. Click each image for a larger version.








    New school pics 2010

    2010 - 09.15

    Click each picture for larger versions.

    The $15,000 Apple Bookshelf

    2010 - 08.22

    Have some old Powermac G4 and G5 computers laying around with failing parts? Gut them, stack them and use them for straightening up your cluttered office. The computers are held together with 12 strong paper clamps, then secured with zip ties to a piece of plywood on the bottom and some eyelet screws in the wall at the top. Dead computers can still be useful for holding your cds, dvds, books and extra cables. Plus, as long as they stay secured to the wall, they’ll never crash.

    Brianna’s Cooking Show episode 3 : Pancakes

    2010 - 08.13

    In the 3rd episode of Brianna’s Cooking Show, we learn how to make yummy pancakes. Filmed by brother Jacob.

    New 101 Macintosh 10.6 Tips book released in Czech Republic

    2010 - 08.08

    My buddy from the other side of the world, Roman Zavřel, just released a Macintosh 101 Tips book for free on his website. The book is written in Czech but may be translated to English if he gets a good response. Take a look at his site at www.letemsvetemapplem.eu and grab the PDF of the book here.

    Roman has featured many of my projects on his site (here, here and here), so it’s my turn to feature him. If your Czech is a little rusty, don’t forget about Google translate.

    Roman, who is also a professional basketball player, may be playing in Tunisia next season. Good luck, Roman, I hope the book and hoops work out for you!

    The Tragic Death of a Perfectly Good Mocha

    2010 - 07.20

    A few years ago, I was heading downtown for an appointment. I stopped and grabbed a 20oz mocha from a coffee shop on the way. When I got downtown, I noticed I was about 20 minutes early for the appointment. I called the receptionist from the front door and got buzzed into the building. I figured I would spend a few minutes in the restroom and catch up on some “reading” on my phone. I entered the cleanest stall, set the mocha down on the toilet paper dispenser and continued with my business. I started playing backgammon on my phone and didn’t notice that the mocha was very slowly inching towards the edge of the dispenser it was sitting on. There must have been some small vibration in the building causing the bathroom stall to shake every so slightly. I think you see where this is going.

    After about 10 minutes, the law of gravity took effect, and the mocha fell off it’s perch landing face down, top off, directly into my underwear which was of course, around my ankles. My response was pure and utter horror as I watched my underwear, socks and jeans soak up the coffee and form a growing puddle of steaming brown liquid on the floor. I was speechless as the puddle grew and seeped into the other stalls. For some crazy reason, the floor drain was over by the sinks, so the puddle didn’t move, it just stared back at me as if to say “so now what are you gonna do?” I regained whatever composure you can when your entire bottom half is full of hot chocolate and caffiene, and got dressed. The idea of cleaning up the massive puddle was way too much for my brain to handle, so I grabbed a huge handful of paper towels and got out of there quickly, the way you walk away from a store display that you just knocked over.

    I waddled out to the parking lot and sloshed into my car. I tried soaking up the coffee with the towels but it seemed to do no good. Twenty ounces is a lot more coffee than it looks like when you’re wearing it. I noticed that I still had about 5 minutes before my appointment, so I called up my client. When he answered I made up a story about how I was going to need to reschedule as I was having some car trouble. He mentioned that the receptionist had already told him I was in the building and he wanted to know what was reallly going on. I had to come clean and explain to him that I decided to wear my coffee that morning rather than drink it. After he finished laughing, he mentioned that he saw the disaster in the bathroom and was relieved to know it was only coffee, and that he wouldn’t have to call the hazardous materials team.

    I drove home soggy, brown, and sadly missing the morning buzz for which the mocha was originally intended. I quickly showered, changed and came back downtown for the appointment. When I finally got into my client’s office, he offered me some coffee with a large smile on his face. I hope the building’s janitor found as much humor in this story as we did.

    Poop Soup

    2010 - 07.20

    When my son Jacob was a baby, he loved taking baths in our big hot tub. I’d get in there with him, and we’d play with Winnie the Pooh toys while he sat in a little tub chair. Jacob’s favorite thing to do was chant “bubbles, bubbles, bubbles!” over and over again until I turned on the tub jets. First we’d spill a little shampoo into the water and when the jets would come on, the tub would quickly fill with a massive layer of bubbles. He’d giggle hysterically, and Vicki and I would crack up as well.

    One night, I was in the tub with Jacob, and Vicki was outside the tub helping me wash him. He started his bubble chant, and I obeyed. Right after the bubbles started growing Jacob got a strange look on his face. His eyes squinted and his mouth pulled tight around the edges. Time seemed to slow down as it does when you watch a terrifying event unfold. This was his poop face, and this was NOT the time or place for the poop face. Turns out…it was his diarrhea face.

    I watched horrified as a huge cloud formed beneath my son. It was like watching the Space Shuttle lift off, only brown. As it started floating up, I sadly realized what was about to happen. The evil cloud hit the tub intake jets and our calm nighttime bath became a massive cafe’ latte with extra foam. The entire tub was filled with doodie in a matter of seconds, covering Jacob and myself in a thick layer. I was so stunned, I couldn’t speak. Apparently neither could Vicki, as she was laughing too hard to make a sound. I immediately grabbed Jacob and handed him to her. I jumped out of the tub, literally, and into the shower. I turned the water on, not even caring what the temperature was. I started frantically scrubbing and crying “eww…ewww…ewwwww” over and over.

    We got Jacob cleaned up, and into bed with Vicki. I went to work on the tub. Once the poop soup was drained, the tub looked like a week old coffee filter, but sadly didn’t smell like one. I choked back gag reflexes as I cleaned it all out. As I was disinfecting, I laughed to myself thinking about how quickly a bath can go wrong.

    When the hazmat team declared the bathroom safe, I got in bed with Vicki and Jacob. Jacob was asleep in Vicki’s arms as she fed him. Apparently destroying a bathroom in 3 seconds is a tough job. Cleaning up after the destruction is also tough, so I fell asleep as well.

    A few hours later we were gently awoken by Jacob projectile vomiting his dinner all over Vicki. Just Vicki. Not a drop on me. She grabbed him and headed to the shower while I said something helpful like “nngh okay, i’m up…what the…ewwww” and changed the sheets, but that’s another story…

    Heywood and the Stolen Computer

    2010 - 07.07

    A few months ago a client of mine had a break in. The thieves stole his 1 year old iMac and various other items. After they talked to the police, they called me. They told me that the computer was taken but that they didn’t take the little box that was under it. Luckily for them, the “little box under the computer” was the backup of all their data, going back many months. I told them not to worry about their files, and that everything was stored on the backup drive. The next day I remembered that I had installed LogMeIn on the stolen machine and could remotely access the computer if it was online. I checked, and noticed it was online right then.

    I immediately tensed up once I realized I could control the computer without the thief realizing it. The tenseness eased up a bit, and turned into excitement. This was going to be fun. As long as he stayed online, I could find his IP address which the police could use to trace his location. The thief was on Craigslist looking for new guitars. He didn’t want to spend very much money. My guess is he didn’t want to spend ANY money. I grabbed a screenshot. I decided to name this guy Heywood. As in Heywood Jalookatmynewcomputer. I don’t know why, he just seemed like a Heywood. Once the mouse stopped moving for a minute or so, I figured he walked away from the computer, so I checked his IP address. I grabbed another screenshot. Then I got an amazing idea; I could open up Photobooth which displays what the built in camera of the computer sees. I held my breath and launched the program. Boom, there’s Heywood. Heywood Jatakemypicture. Thank you very much, don’t mind if I do. I took a screenshot. I took another 3 screenshots accidentally because my fingers were shaking. Heywood liked seeing himself on the big computer monitor and smiled. Stupid Heywood. I also liked seeing Heywood on the monitor. I took another screenshot. I could see his face, his big tattoo, and his apartment. I took some more screenshots. Then I noticed two things: Heywood hadn’t made his bed that day, and I was seriously about to pee myself. Heywood finally figured out how to close the Photobooth app and I disconnected immediately.

    I took a deep breath, and smiled knowing I was more than likely intellectually superior to Heywood. I waitied a few hours then checked again to see if he was online, but he wasn’t and had probably turned the computer off. I wondered if he figured out I was connected and got freaked out, or if I got away clean. I called the detective assigned to the case and told him I had pictures of this schmuck and his IP address. I emailed the pics and info to him. I figured it was a done deal, and Heywood was not going to get a new guitar any time soon. The detective said it could take up to 2 weeks to trace the IP address to a physical address because they had to get a warrant before they could call the internet service provider. I asked if all the stuff we had on this dude was sufficient to get the address right away, because in 2 weeks this machine was going to be wiped clean and probably out of the city. He said we’d have to wait for a warrant, thanked me and said he’d get back to me if they found anything.

    The next day I checked for Heywood and he was online again. Today Mr. Jalookatmynewcomputer was renting a car for a friend. I took another screenshot. I got the name of the person picking up the car (let’s call her Cruella), her phone number and address. I called the detective and forwarded the screenshot to him. He told me that they knew Cruella, and would look into it. He asked if I had any other information and I told him that I was currently watching Heywood surf Craigslist again. I was feeling quite proud of myself at this point. I heard the detective yell to some people “hey, he’s on Craigslist right now!” I’m picturing a room full of people with screens everywhere tracking my main man Heywood as he looks for CARS LOCAL UNDER $5000. My mind is going crazy. Minority Report. Hackers. War Games. Do you want to play a game, Heywood? They thanked me once again and told me they would get back to me.

    I didn’t hear anything for a few days and Heywood hadn’t been online. I called the detective again, and he said that they went to the rental car place that day, but Cruella didn’t show and no one rented a car with the name from the screenshot. He asked me if I had found anything new. I hadn’t, but assured him I would keep checking and grab what I could. Later that day, (armed with my newly dubbed Junior Detective status) I found Heywood online again. This time Einstein was entering his email address at vh1.com. Perfect. I took a screenshot. I had a HUGE smile on my face. I got on Hotmail and plugged his email address in the search box. Bingo. I’ve got his full name. Of course it wasn’t “Heywood”, but I didn’t care, because he’d always be Heywood to me. Heywood Jalookatmyemail. I called the detective and gave him what I thought was the last piece of the puzzle. He said that they still hadn’t heard back from the judge on a search warrant. I asked (in kind of an annoyed voice, I’m sure) why they couldn’t just do something based on my small but growing mountain of evidence? I’ve seen way too many TV shows where the bad guys get busted with MUCH less evidence than my bud Heywood. He told me they will do what they can, but it could take a while. My excitement had turned to frustration.

    A few days later, the detective called me. They had gotten the warrant and got a physical address for the IP. I’m thinking “cue the theme music, here we go”. They had gone out to the location, but apparently it was an old man who lived alone (not Heywood), and they didn’t find anything on the premises. I asked him if they noticed if the guy had a wireless network. He said yes, he did. I explained to him that our perp was probably on the wireless network from a few houses away. He said that they couldn’t do a search of the area without another warrant and that he’d get back to me if they found out anything, but he had a stack of similar cases that he was working on at the moment and not to expect much. Awesome. Meanwhile, Heywood had completely disappeared from the internet, most likely because he formatted the computer and sold it. Nicely played, Heywood. Heywood Jalookatmenow.

    I’ve got Heywood’s IP address, email address, picture and Cruella’s name, phone number and address, and we can’t seem to get him arrested. As of this writing, Heywood still hasn’t been convicted. The detective was able to bring him in for questioning, but Heywood said he was working on the computer for someone he didn’t know and had no idea it was stolen. Right. The detective knew he was lying, but apparently could not prove that Heywood knew the computer was stolen or had stolen it himself, even with all the information we had. He told me that Heywood had been moved up on his “watch list”. Right now Heywood is probably playing a nice new guitar on his unmade bed. But there is a happy ending. My client got a brand new computer with the insurance money, and all of their data was successfully recovered.

    And Heywood, if you’re reading this, expect a WHOLE LOT of email very soon.

    Create your own “transparent” iPhone lock screen

    2010 - 06.24

    Here’s a simple and free way to create a very cool effect on your iPhone’s lock or home screen. It makes your phone look somewhat transparent while holding it in your hand.

    Simply hold your phone in your hand of choice as you normally do when using it. Then take a picture of your hand in that same position with the iPhone’s camera.


    Go to your Preferences and choose that picture as your lock screen and/or wallpaper and scale it until it matches your hand behind the phone.

    That’s it, you’re done! Now go show off your “transparent” phone to all your friends.


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