Slackline adventure begins

Slacklining! I’d never done it before, so I decided to dive in head first. Figuratively, and possibly literally.

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What I’ve built is a “primitive” slackline which is made entirely from climbing webbing, two rappel rings, and four carabiners (ignore the extra carabiners and accessory cord in my photo above, those are for a different project). No ratchets or any specialized gear that I couldn’t repurpose for other climbing activities. The system is a really simple/clever friction lock that’s easy to set up, pull huge tension onto, and simple to break down with one tug of the line. This one can go for a 50′ run and cost $75 from REI.


Excellent resource I used for setting it up is this guide from NWslackline. Adam’s also got a great video on it here.

My primary goal is to walk on the slackline with great élan and ease. Secondary goal: try to do calisthenics and balance tricks on is, such as the following elbow lever and dubious L-sit.

Lockpick case

Yesterday I got annoyed with all of my lock picks being clumped together in a few different cases and sort of hard to find. So, I’m sewing part of the arm of an old leather jacket into a lock pick tool roll.

Happily, the leather is thin enough to work pretty easily on the sewing machine.

Sudden New Hobby Alert: Making animated GIFs

My friend Adam Iscove (who’s an excellent singer/songwriter/bass player) played a show out in Hollywood recently and he designed a great set of on-stage visuals by editing together tons of animated GIFs. So I had GIFs on the brain.

Then he blew my mind by sending me a GIF in a Facebook message. I had no idea.


So, now I’m going to make looping animated GIFs for fun! Kind of like quick sketching for computer graphics. The last time I created GIFs it was, like, 1995 and I was working at IBM’s interactive media lab.

Technical details: this is a triangulated polygonal plane mesh being deformed by a travelling sine wave and rendered in a hardware buffer with motion blur and five render passes per frame to create the overlapping line effect.

Sugar/Honey Smacks

Earlier today I had cause to proclaim the following to the world:


This led me to wonder about the name switch from the Sugar Smacks of my youth:

  • 1953-1990s the name was Sugar Smacks
  • early 1990’s until 2004 the name was simply Smacks
  • 2004 to present the name has been Honey Smacks
  • future name: Gluten Smacks?

Thinking about this lead me to go eat another bowl of it,which then lead me to research the box art and mascots of the Smacks cereal line over the years. Go pour a bowl of Smacks and enjoy.

It all began with illustrations of real world Ringling Brother’s clowns.

1953-1956 Cliffy the Clown

1953-1956 Clown Paul Jung


Next came an animated seal. Go check out the animated ads, they’re wonderful.

1957-1960 Smaxey the Seal

1957-1960 Smaxey the Seal

In came the Hanna-Barbera horse sheriff, Quick Draw McGraw.

1961-1965 Quick Draw McGraw

1961-1965 Quick Draw McGraw


The Smacking’ Brothers loved roughhousing and sugar.

1966 - 1969 Smackin' Brothers

1966 – 1969 Smackin’ Brothers


The Indian Chief was the next mascot/spokesman, for a very short period of time.

1970-1972 Indian Chief

1970-1972 Indian Chief


Dig’em Frog came in in the seventies, went out briefly, and then came back.

1972-1985 Dig'em Frog

1972-1985 Dig’em Frog


The very short-lived Wally the Bear, just here to remind us of the switch to Honey?

1986-1987 Wally the Bear

1986-1987 Wally the Bear


Dig’em Frog came back for good.

1990's Dig'em Frog

1990’s Dig’em Frog

And, of course, since we can’t have nice things, the modern version has been tarted up with so much gratuitous photoshop airbrushery that… sigh.

current Dig'em Frog

current Dig’em Frog

Can’t we just go back to clowns?


another Cliffy the Clown

another Clown


and another

and another


Cord Wrapping Method of the Gods

Oh how total is the pain and suffering of coiling a long extension cord for storage, only to have it twist and snag and tangle upon uncoiling for later use. I have a 100′ long power cord that I often dread using for this reason.

Please, then, understand my utter joy and excitement upon learning this superior method as taught by Dirt Farmer Jay.

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Thanks, Dirt Farmer Jay!