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01 June 2010 @ 08:35 pm
World Steam Expo

It was fun and it was different and it wasn’t really an SF con. First the pluses:

1) The costumes were fantastic. The attention to detail, make-up, creativity and just plain good workmanship made the average costume equal to masquerade winning costumes at SF regionals.
2) Everybody was in costume all the time. Well maybe not everyone but at least 90% of the membership was wearing at least a hat and goggles. And this wasn’t just a Saturday night thing – it was 24/7. The net effect was that when you saw someone wearing 21st century clothing that person really looked out of place.
3) The dealers room was full of neat things (unless you were looking for books) at great prices and, like the attendees, it looked good.
4) The Mad Science Fair was fun. When Guy talked me into coming I was wondering what we would do for two hours but by the end I wished we could have gone on for another hour. The people coming by were interested, fun and I even ran into a proto techie.
5) The people were a lot younger and brought me back to the days when I discovered fandom. Different group of people.

But that’s not to say there weren’t some minuses:

1) No con suite. Bad not just because there was no food but there was no place to hang around and meet people.
2) No parties. All right, there were one or two but they weren’t advertised and either were closed or they sure gave that impression.
3) Good programming but rather… shall we say focused. Steam Punk is all about costuming and, not surprisingly, a Steam Punk convention is all about costuming.
4) Expensive. A bit on the high side for a regional and the dealers tables were also on the high side. But to be fair, many participants received free rooms as well as free memberships something normally reserved for GOHs.
5) Not many GT members. There were perhaps 20 people that I knew at the con including Phil and Guy. That forced me to meet new people which was good but I missed the usual crowd.

On the whole I had a good time though three days was a little long for me.

Kevin – you should have gone. These weren’t just people wearing good looking cloths these were good looking people wearing good looking cloths. You would have had a field day…
24 May 2010 @ 11:22 am
I was really saddened to hear about George this morning. Though a lot of us are reaching that point where the warranty has expired I had no idea he had health problems. Perhaps he didn’t either.

George was always a person that went his own way. He was the only person I know that built and lived in a geodesic dome. He never wavered from his advocacy of Ham radio and could live out of his car for months. That did lead to a rather stuffed car at times but like any good techie he could do wonders with duct tape. We hadn’t seen much of him since he went to Florida but George was very active in GT during the early years. He could wield the pen as well as the soldering iron and went about doing what his muse directed.

Yes George went his own way, I just didn’t expect him to go quite so soon.

24 April 2010 @ 03:53 pm

The good news is that polygraph is gone – the bad news is that the tank didn’t sell. I was also able to find homes for the anesthesia machines (even though one of them was my house) and an oscilloscope followed me home. The problem with the tank is that its just too heavy so I have to charge something like $120 for it and so far I haven’t found a buyer. It would make a great bathtub though…

In other news I’m finally getting to work on the giant gears again. I will try to work with 2” Styrofoam and see if I can get something done for Steam Expo. If that doesn’t work maybe I’ll build a raygun using a condenser – I sure have enough of them now!
15 April 2010 @ 11:37 pm
I just read a study which found that popularity on social sites is determined by how often one posts not what one says. Since I actually have a few minute while my distillation run finishes I thought I’d try to raise my popularity a bit…

At work they are cleaning out a building that used to be a psychology lab and my boss is slowly, painfully realizing that a $2500 1960s polygraph isn’t worth 2500 dollars in 2010. So… does any one want it? You have to pick it up but otherwise it’s free. You might also want to look at the autopsy table and 100 gallon stainless steel tank. The latter can be had for the price of the SS.

Yes, I’m sorely tempted but my recent glassware addiction has used up all my spare space!
08 March 2010 @ 04:50 pm
Captain Al’s recent loss of ABE has really set me to thinking about the things we create and how long they (and we) last. Perhaps Al is an extreme example since he spent so much of his life working on his robot and having it explode at the bottom of the Pacific is certainly a dramatic end. But there are many lesser examples.

Recently, as part of a cleanup at work, I had cause to scrap apparatus that I had built as a graduate student. The experience was strangely depressing. At the time I was building it I was 40 years younger, a grad student with all the focus and intensity of the characters in “Real Genius”. I could see that I put a lot of extra work into the device not just to be sure that it worked but because I cared about the way it looked. All the wires in the wiring harness were parallel and evenly spaced. The nuts were all rotated so that they aligned perfectly. I mean, it looked good but it was now my job to put it in the dumpster. It had served its purpose and had helped get my degree. Others had used it after me so it had had a good life but… nobody had ever taken the case off, nobody had seen the perfect 90 degree bends in the wire or the shiny solder joints (not too much nor too little solder). I don’t know if it bothered me more that I was being forced to dispose of my past or that my past was being disposed of. We don’t live forever and what we create doesn’t either but destroying what you build is a little like being forced to dig your own grave.

Most make a big distinction between people and things. After every disaster you will inevitably see someone on TV saying, “I lost everything but that’s ok, things can be replaced.” True, things can be replaced but what people are not as willing to admit is that so can people. How difficult that is depends on the investment that you put into either. The time and emotional investment needed to raise a child is enormous but the investment in the creation of things can also be huge. And it’s not only an investment of time and money. Artist are said to put their souls into their creations but they are not alone. Anyone who creates, who bends metal and plastic to his will puts a little bit of himself in his work. My grandmother used to make lace by hand – a process that fascinated me when I was five years old. She would say (in Italian), “I make something beautiful for you so that you will think of me when you see it.” I think that we all hope to “make something beautiful” so that we will be remembered. And so some things posses the souls of those that create them. It is appropriate to morn them when they are no more.
17 August 2009 @ 10:32 pm
It seems I've grown more hateful in my old age. I used to love
thunderstorms but now they aren't any fun at all since I can't stop
thinking about all the problems they might cause me. Last week one storm
took out the entire phone system at one of our schools. That's $2500 that I
no longer have for computers. Then today the power at our main office was
knocked out for three hours. The only good thing was that the phones were
out too so nobody could call me and believe me on a Monday there were a lot
of people that wanted to call me. Oh, add Mondays to my hate list. Actually
I gauge the week by when Monday ends - on a really bad one that would be
Friday afternoon…
28 July 2009 @ 06:03 pm
There never is enough time. Before going on vacation there was no time since I was trying to get ready for being gone for a week. During the vacation there were too many fun things to do. Even while driving the new iPhone competed with radio, scenery and conversation. Now that I'm back I've had to catch up with all the things I didn't do last week. And dealing with complains. Lot of unhappy people out there,

But it was a fun Berserker marred only by my lack of hydrogen. Funny, the one thing I planned for in advance was the one thing that didn’t work out. Well, I’m ready for next year since we made up an aluminum keel and six 8’ bags for the new and improved Hidenbag.

My other project, the dam, is going great. Every year I add more stone and every year the spring rains wash away less material. What’s interesting is that more and more vegetation is growing as the water gets deeper. I think that I’ve gone from 2” to almost three feet with the flood gate (large rock) closed. Many thanks to all the people who have helped me haul rocks over the years! Next year I have to put in some kind of water wheel…

This was Nora’s first Berserker and she had a great time – except, perhaps, for the close encounter with the snake (make that the large snake). We were very lucky that the wind kept the bugs down so that we made an extensive exploration of the land that I own uphill from the Sands. The surprise was that the blueberries were ripe. The fact that they were delicious wasn’t as surprising but I had forgotten how much better they were then store bought. One weird thing was that the next day the berries that we hadn’t snarfed down seemed to have more of a reddish color then when we picked them.

It was a lot fun. But now I have to pay and the currency is time.
27 April 2009 @ 05:48 pm
I’ve been recommending SF books to my good friend Nora for the past six months and have done fairly well so far. I also introduced her to D&D at the same time but it turns out she still has some problems with role playing. We’ll, not with role-playing itself but figuring out how her character should act. It turns out that she had never read any fantasy before I had her read “Color of Magic” (which she liked) so now she is asking what book she can read to get a better feel for how her character should be acting in the game. She is playing a female cleric and I can’t think of a book that is a classical quest novel with a female cleric lead! I know there has to be something out there – anybody got any ideas?
13 April 2009 @ 10:31 pm
Hmm… it says 13 weeks since the last post. How time flies when you’re having fun and, for the most part I have been having fun. I’m spending a lot of time with Nora which many of you met at Ishercon and am busy trying to indoctrinate her. Currently I have her reading the Flying Sorcerer and watching B5. We are near the start of the third season and I can’t get over how good that show is. It doesn’t have the polished effects of modern movies but I don’t think anyone has done space opera better (including ST and SW). Oh Alice, Nora loved Bridge of Birds but there was a little beverage incident so I would be in the market for another copy…

This week we are going to have another rocket launch at one of our charter schools. It will be hard to top last year when we had perfect weather and great media coverage. Every rocket flew and was recovered (almost always intact) but I will be surprised if we are as lucky this year. For one thing the wind has been non-stop which is great for wind farms but bad if you trying to recover rockets. We are also allowing the student who went through the program last year to build bigger rockets. One group is building two stage flying discs and the other is building “D” engine powered rockets. If there wind doesn’t let up the latter may well end up in the nearby airport…

Flowers are cautiously coming out of the ground and blooming so I’m sure spring just around the corner. It’s still chilly in the mornings though and the trees aren’t taking any chances. My neighbor is lobbying heavily for me to do something with the curb lawn but I think it’s just cool to see the neat flowers bloom. Don’t really know what they are but they are small and mostly purple. Then there are clumps of tulips all over the place which will probably wait a week or two before blooming. Maybe there will be order in the fall but now it’s every bulb for himself.

Now I must return to the gear project.
12 January 2009 @ 01:31 pm
A new year and a new post. I promised a number of people on LJ that I would
do better this year and it is an easy promise to make in January. We'll see
if I can keep posting and reading come September…

The big news of the weekend was the snowfall. We went from almost no snow
on Thursday to 14 inches on the ground on Sunday. It was great! I got 3.5
hours of recreational shoveling in and now have a snow pile in the back
yard over 9 feet high. What's even better is that there is even more snow on the way
tonight so I will have enough for a really good snow fort. The plan is to
build it on Saturday and it might be my largest yet.

Growing up in south Florida, where snow was something that you sprayed on
you window from a can, I would dream of making snowball and building forts.
Now I finally have the chance and yes, it is as much fun as I had dreamed. Did I mention I hated Florida?

I have a cam pointed at the fort at


It's down at the moment but I'll have it running tonight.

Fun, fun, fun…
Current Mood: happyhappy