The Nerd News Hub

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A friend of mine started a website for all things nerdy/geeky.  I’m one of the contributors to the site and have posted a few reviews/articles up.   I’ll be posting semi-regularly.

Here are the articles I’ve written so far as Crystal Ash:


 Spoiler Free Review of Solanin






Why Comic Fans Should Care about the Tony Awards This Year




Looking Back on the First Graphic Novel – Eisner’s Contract with God



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I have a couple projects on the back burner which require the construction of miniature sets and props.  The projects are a stop motion short film and a series of still photography using miniatures.  The big obstical to moving from planning to production has been the daunting prospect of time required to carve out sets and props by hand.   Added to that, I’m not overly confident about my ability to wood carve the objects I need to the quality that I’m envisioning.

Looking for a better and faster solution than doing this all by hand, I’ve discovered a couple digital wood working products which might provide the solution I’m looking for.  They have hefty price tags, but it’s doable with the right number of months putting aside some savings for the undertaking.

Of course even with one of these tools, I’ll have to dedicate time for design and file formatting/importing through the software system.  I don’t mind that so much if the finished quality can be predictably high.   I’m not afraid of putting in time.  I’m more concerned with sinking a lot of time into something with an outcome of poor or substandard quality which causes me to ditch the whole thing altogether.

I have a sort of addiction to tools which has developed over the past couple of years.  I’m not crazy about it.  It’s not like I keep multiple sets of the same tool, but I do like having them on hand to accomplish what I need to without calling in a professional (if at all possible).  I’ve been buying them one at a time, as projects come up, but I’m trying to pull myself back from large purchases unless there is a long-term definitive need for them.

Stiiiiiiill weighing whether or not a digital wood carver qualifies.

Bees Knees

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When I was a kid, I was afraid of bees.  Aside from the odd sting from playing outside and getting one caught in my sandal, they seemed to follow me at picnics or outdoor gatherings which collect the kind of sugary drinks they find irresistible.  They never really came after me to attack, just followed me around and landed on me, infringing on my personal bubble.

In little kid fashion, I’d throw up my hands and run away from them, shrieking.  At one of my father’s work picnics, I kicked up so much commotion running in circles to escape them, that he yelled at me to stand still, confident that my panic was what was egging them on.  I obeyed, standing in sullen stillness with my fists clenched at my sides.  One by one, honeybees landed on my arms and legs as I stood there whimpering, watching them crawl nonchalantly along my bare skin.  My dad just blinked, watching for a few minutes, then finally said, “Okay.  You can do what you need to to get away from them.”

In that moment of trembling fearful stillness, I remember a small spark of awe at having such scary things touching me, but not hurting me.  I hadn’t been stung.  Since then I’ve had a growing fascination with honeybees.  Sometimes I daydream about keeping a little farm of bees and sheep when I retire someday.

With the recent plight of the honeybee, local ordinances are beginning to relax their restrictions on backyard beekeeping.  I’m seriously considering taking up the hobby here in a couple years.

I’m still not keen to be stung.   I wouldn’t call it fear, so much as a very very healthy respect for their stingers.  So I, of course, want to make sure that if I do go down this path that I have the kind of equipment and setup to minimize an antagonistic relationship between me and the fuzz balls.  To this end I’ve been researching the equipment and the best breed of bees for my region, as well as what I can do to keep them mite-free so my hive doesn’t collapse.

I found the breed called Indiana Leg Chewer, which has been developed to be resistant to the mites and can survive the winters of my region without stress.  The equipment looks pretty basic.  It doesn’t seem to have changed much in hundreds of years.  I’m reticent on the idea of breaking the hive open to retrieve the honey.  I’ll end up killing some bees in the process and even with protection, there’s a good chance I’ll get stung.

So I considered keeping a hive, but never opening it to collect honey.  Just minimize the stress on both of us.   Then again, that sort of takes some of the fun from keeping bees in the first place, doesn’t it?

Then I saw an IndieGoGo campaign on a new hive system.  Now this I can do.

This system looks ideal for my level of interest.  It’s probably still a few years out before I try keeping a hive, but it’s good to know that there’s a system out there which fits my needs when I do.

Begin again

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Early in 2000 I had this website.  It was the first domain I’d ever registered and I spent many hours playing with it.  Having had no web building experience, the domain was sometimes my blog, sometimes an experimental project.  I built it again and again.  It was the laboratory through which I taught myself the few things I know about websites.    I loved the domain name because I have a rather cluttered mind, full of the floating detritus of thoughts and ideas.   As most college kids do, I fancied myself a tinkerer with grand thoughts and a grander future.  The sheer variety of my interests were my proof that I had a vibrant mind meant for bigger things.

As it tends to do, time went by and sometime in the mid-2000’s I accidentally let the registration lapse when I became distracted by a new job and Grad School.  By the time I realized my error, someone else had registered the site.  I kicked myself, but life went on.

The domain appeared to be someone else’s blog for about a year, but soon he too let it lapse.   Then it sat in one of those domain farms for many years with a premium price tag on it.  When I saw that, I did what any sane person would do.  I wrote off the domain as lost forever.  I still loved the domain name, feeling it conveys the still-cluttered mind full of varied interests which I never seemed to outgrow.  The only thing I did seem to outgrow was any grandiose notion of what having a messy mind meant about me as a person. It simply means I have a cluttered way in the same way I have a cluttered office and a cluttered living room.

I’ve built a couple other websites since I lost this domain.  They are designed with particular projects or particular career goals in mind.  None of them lend themselves to the type of blog which I used to keep.  A blog of thoughts and observations, moments of excitement, which I made as an undergraduate student 15 years ago.  A couple days ago I began toying with the idea of starting such a blog again.  This time with the addition of creating updates on the variety of projects that, as an adult, I now have the resources to indulge.  A blog with no other purpose than to amuse myself.

I began trying various domain names to register, but none of them really fit the kind of purpose I had in mind.  None of them felt right.  My thoughts turned to my old, early 2000’s blog on  That felt right.  On a whim I checked the registration availability again.  To my sheer delight I found that it was available and was back to being the sane price of any normal website registration.  I registered it immediately last night.

There was a sense of reclaiming a little bit of my youth when I set up the email address I had used as a kid barely out of my teens.   Now the blog is up and here we are.

On this patch of digital earth from my past, here’s to the future.