Monthly Archives: December 2009

New Headphones…


At work, I’ve been using a set of Sony noise cancelling headphones that I got about 10 years ago. The ear pads deteriorated a while ago, and after finding out that Sony was happy to send me a replacement set of ear pads for $20 each, I decided that I’d go for a whole new set of headphones. I spent some time reading reviews from various online sources – both and were quite useful.

The chief competitors are Sennheiser, AKG, and Grado. Back when I was younger Sennheiser was the headphone to have, but though I own a set of Sennheisers to use at the gym, I’ve only been moderately impressed.

The reviews on the Grados suggest that they are the best choice if you listen to rock, and since that’s my music of choice, I decided to go with the Grado SR225i, which my wife was nice enough to pick up for me as a present.

I spent a bit of time last night listening to some of the music that I know well and that is well mastered, and the verdict is clear. I’ve never heard these songs sound so good.

“Wish you were here” has a nice and simple guitar line. What I’ve never noticed before was that there is a slight amount of vibrato on the notes at an end. Little details like that kept showing up – I guess I’d describe it as “depth”. And the bass is also very nice.

On the downside, the phones have a vintage look to them, and are really designed for controlled adult use – I wouldn’t be carrying these around much. They also come with the traditional 1/4” plug rather than a 1/8″ one, so you need an adapter for many uses. They’re more than a bit pricey, at $200. And they make your other headphones sound really poor.

Highly recommended.

I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus

I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didn’t see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep

It just doesn’t make sense. There’s no reason for daddy to be wearing a Santa costume. Even if he was picking up a few $$$ on the side at the department store, why wear the costume at home? The kid is asleep. It think it’s mommy’s idea – “he’s asleep now – go put on your Santa costume and you can find out whether I’ve been naughty or nice?”

Then, I saw mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
if daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.

Someday you’re going to realize what that “tickle” really was, and I hope you have enough money for the therapy.

Gunnerson Lights 2009

The lights got started before Thanksgiving this year – while waiting for a turkey to smoke – but a few weeks of sub-freezing temperatures stalled things because 15 degrees is just too cold to be outside putting up lights.

I had hoped to build something new for this year, but didn’t get started early enough, so the display is mostly the same as last years. I did two upgrades to the tree lights from last year.


The animation which had worked fine in inside temperatures didn’t work at freezing temps. The processor runs a bit slower at those temps, and it was just enough different to mess up some of the timing loops. That was a simple change.

The second change was to deal with the lack of light. The 2008 version used 7 watt colored lights inside of colored bulbs, and not only was there not enough light, the amount of light differed depending on the color. The 2009 version uses 25 watt and 40 watt lights, so it puts out a bunch more light (about 400 watts total instead of about 100 watts), and the animation works correctly.

I also had to fix ring of fire, which had taken on about a TBSP of water into the circuitry, which made it unhappy. After about 3 hours of troubleshooting showed me that the decoupling capacitor had shorted due to the moisture and was causing a whole bunch of problems.


So, you’ll need to be content with the write-up from last year, which has a few pictures. I did do a few new pictures. Here’s a picture of the old tree lights:


and here’s the new version (sorry that there’s no snow…)


Full gallery here.