Monday, December 31, 2007

I am old

Warning! Geek Speak ahead

So I'm playing a Half-Life Mod called Insurgency online with some pretty cool people. An Aussie, a German some froggers and some Amuricans. Great. We kick the snot out of the enemy team and do a little victory dance. Cool. The game at this point should load up another map and we should continue to crush our enemies. But the game seems to just stall. It doesn't crash. But we're all sitting there waiting. We have voice chat and begin to wonder what's up with the server.

"Da suhrvur, eet must have locked up I zink" said the German.

"They're probably running some shitty P2" chimes in some kid who sounds like he's 9.

"No," I say "It's a it's a 486 with an add on math co-processor".

There is a moment of silence.

'What ze 'el is a math co-processor?" asks the Frenchman.

"I'm sorry to admit I do" said another American.

"That's because you sir, are 39 years old I'll bet. You are I are ancient ones here. We walked the earth on 640k of ram and got our pron over 14.4 modems from BBS's. We wrote our own autoexec.bat files to load our CD-Rom and sound drivers in to HIMEM. And none of you young bastards know what the hell I'm talking about do you?".

There was much laughing.

Then the next map loaded and we prepared to crush the other team.

"That was great mate" said the Brit. "But really, what's a math co-processor?"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hot priest on priest action...

No, not THAT kind. It seems that there's a new Ultimate Fighting Organization forming right in the Holy Land. Several different Christian faiths share responsibility for maintaining the Church where Jesus was supposedly born. When some Greek Orthadox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceiling after the X-mas day mass, the Armenians claimed the ladders encroached on their part of the church.

The result? Holy land Iron Cage match.

To let you know how stupid this conflict was 20 Palestinian police came in to stop the fight.

The Palestinians were the calm voice of reason. Awesome.

Go read the article, there are even pics! So, whose side do you think Jesus would fight on?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy swag day!

Yes, I got some very practical gifts. A winter Tilly hat and some thick socks. I got some books (which I always love). But I have to admit that my two favorite gifts were given to me by my sweetie. One was the Firefly ships papers I blogged about a few days ago. They're lovelier that I could have imagined. The other is a simply massive and completely impractical lock made in India I believe. It takes two keys to open. It's huge! I have NO use for it, but I love it dearly. I am already thinking about how to decorate it with brass and other gunge.

So, what neat swag did you get?

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Ho-ho-horror

This has to be one of the best claymation parodies ever. It combines Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and Apocalypse Now. Really. It is a warped bit of genius.

On a side note- Back in Jr. High this film was some kind of fixation for me. I remember my friends and I had a tape recording of it and we could recite most of the movie from memory.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Greatest Nativity Play EVAR!

No really. It's painful AND it's funny.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sweet find...

A week ago or so I visited the local Army/Navy surplus store in Oberlin. I'm looking for bits and bobs for a Steampunk costume and military surplus is sometimes a great resource. I found a cool looking map case for about $12 and a small canvas pouch for $2 that used to be used to carry hand grenades. As I was checking out I felt my Souk Sense tingle. My souk sense is like Peter Parkers Spidey sense but more practical. I don't need to know if Doc Oc is behind me, but I do need to know when something cool is nearby and for sale. That thing was a flintlock pistol sitting on a hook on the wall behind the register.

I casually asked the salesman about it and he said it wasn't real (well Duh) and some guy had traded it in or something. I asked to see it and tried to keep my composure as I checked it over. It wasn't real, but it was a very good reproduction. Made in Spain. Better than the mass produced items available at any ren fair. I had owned a nicer version a few years ago that I picked up in a trade and regrettably sold it at a Pirate event to make sure we broke even. I got $300 for it. This one wasn't near as nice but it was close. Real flint holder, solid barel, mechanism in good shape. I asked if he'd sell it.

"How much you offering?" he asked.

Tough call that, but as he knew nothing of its worth and I had nothing to loose I said "20 bucks".

"Sold" Sweet.

This picture was taken before I did any work on it. I completely disassembled it, sanded the barrel, cleaned up the firing mechanism, ground down the trigger to a smooth finish, polished the brass and treated the wood. Aside from a missing screw (which I replaced) and a cracked ramrod (invisible) it's in top form and looks great.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Achingly Beautiful

In addition to my love of paper ephemera, I have a deep love of old books and journals. So, of course any place that stockpiles them, any place that lavishly displays thousands of tomes in soaring cathedral like locals is enough to send my salivary glands into overdive. I present to you a wonderful collection of libraries I will some day have sex in around the world. Wait...what? Forget the sex part. I meant visit, libraries i will visit someday.

Courtesy of Curious Expeditions


Anyone who knows me knows that I have a certain...weakness... for props and specifically paper ephemera. Maps, documents, old foreign money, deeds. Now some clever monkeys have created some awesome looking props and documents from Firefly.

There are blueprints that look just gorgeous. And the best? A set of official ships papers that are too cool to be believed. We never saw these in the show, just the leather case they were carried in, but these guys have done some awesome work in creating what should have been seen. Alas, they are $120 which is more than I can spend right now. They also look to be creating some other great looking props. If you are a Battlestar Galactica fan (and who in their right mind isn't) you might like to check out their tongue in cheek "How to spot a Cylon poster" for only $20.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Horay for Democracy!

Do they love us yet? No? Maybe we need to beat them harder.

Honestly. Is that what we've have become? Is this the America you are proud of? I want my country safe. But this is not making America safe, its destroying it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


That's the only way to descibe this show. I'd like to blame poor managment or low attendance. But I can't. The event is well run and well attended. The sad truth is that anime fans don't have a lot of money. At least not enough for our product.

Its been a learning experience, to be sure. I used to think that trekkers wore a lot of body shape innapropriate stuff. I was wrong. But there a great deal of creativity in how they attempt to mimic their favorite manga. And anime seems to truly embrace a wider social and racial cross section. That being said there are a lot of guys dressed as chicks. If you're thinking of attending an event, just be ready for a sausage fest in schoolgirl outfits.

Althouth we had nothing to celebrate I insisted we take a cab to times square. It would be a shame not to see such a NY landmark. It's quite a feast for the eyes. Almost seizure inducing. We grabbed a couple of tasty slices and watched the Hari Krishnas dance. (I swear to the gods a guy dressed like Batman was dancing and singing right along with them. Keen).

For a panniced moment I thought my phone was lifted but it turns out I only forgot it at the convention center. I doubt tomorrow will be better but hope springs eternal. If anything I now know that Anime shows are not for us.

Friday, December 07, 2007


We're in New York City at the Anime Expo. I had thought the show was in January for some reason and was flip flopping on whether I wanted to attend. When I checked the website I learned that it was essentially 2 days away. On a lark I contacted the dealers coordinator and due to a last minute cancellation we had a space if we wanted it. 24 hours later we were packed and on the road. This show is a big unknown. Table space ain't cheap and there's another (cheap) corset company here.

But we had to get out, get away. Get busy. I've been in a slump and doing a show forces you into action. It forces you to deal with problems and solve them. So we're in New York, waiting for a shuttle bus to get us to the event site (we're actually in Jersey). Its late. The dealers are starting to get twitchy. We open in a little over an hour. Driving over is not an option. This city and its drivers make every attempt to remove you from the gene pool. Plus the cost to park are like a hot poker up the but. Unpleasant to say the least.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A pretty shitty day...

We lost our cat Ray yesterday. He was struck by a car. Rossana had been worried about him because he wasn't at the door for breakfast. But I told he was fine. He sometimes comes late.

But I was wrong.

I recovered him and placed him in a cardboard box. I didn't want Rossana to have to do that, but I had to hand him over to her for burial because I had an emergency with a client. She buried him near the barn and hauled a large stone over to top it. She buried him with some food and a toy mouse and she placed a small statue of the Egyptian god Bastet next to the grave.

Ray could be a pain in the ass sometimes. For the longest time he didn't know how to purr or play. He could shred your hand without even realizing what he was doing. He didn't get along with Little One and attacked her several times. But in the end he was a good cat. He found his purr and learned to play. And he was totally affectionate. A total lap whore.

I am trying not to think about it because this stuff just wrecks me. Rossana is really torn up.

The day was topped off with a clients web site being attacked by hackers and knocked offline for 8 hours or so. It was a mad dash to recover the site, change all the passwords, find out what information had been compromised, and emailing the findings to the client.

Halfway through the day I took Rossana out. We worked collecting some fieldstone we'd been offered by our friend Grimm. It was cold/wet work but it kept our minds off Ray. By the time we were done and grabbed a meal the temperature had plummeted. Icy rain started to fall. We drove home with a van overloaded with loose stone on the most slippery roads I have driven in quite a while. We nearly slid right off the road several times. It rained today, but it was much warmer. My stomach started to unknot a little.

All and all a pretty shitty couple of days.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Walk it off son...

First, I want to state for the record that my version of the following events is the true one. The other person you may here this story from will say that it either A) Didn't happen B) Was a freak and completely unexpected accident or C) That I somehow put him up to it. These are all LIES.

My friend and sometimes co-conspirator Grimm returned to Ohio to get the very last of his stuff and finish some work on the house he is selling. As this work involved chainsaws I volunteered. Dangerous tools? I'm in! And to be truthful, there is nothing more manly than cutting up trees with a chainsaw. I have a small Craftsman chainsaw that never got to see much action down on the Gulf Coast after Katrina so I enjoy and chance to fire it up.

Things started out well. We hacked up a fallen willow tree. Well, I hacked while Grimm fought with a dull blade and a lot of thorn bushes. We eventually finished the willow and moved on to the main event. An upright but dead oak on the edge of his pond. It was a real eye sore and distracted from the nice view. So down it had to go. Alas, getting to it involved fighting our way through 20 feet of solid thorn bushes. These evil fuckers are the most spiteful plants on Earth and will actively attack you.

We finally cleared a path and prepared for cutting but Grimm insisted that a large side branch had to be cut off it first. He went off to sharpen his chain and I got the ladder. I leaned the ladder against the tree and scurried up to examine the branch and felt a strange sense of Deja Vu. I had taken down a branch like this when I first moved to Bag End and I knew that its shape and size would make it do what mine had done, namely try to kill the person on the ladder. I had been lucky. The branch I cut back then missed the ladder beneath me but only by inches. I came down and related my story of evil branches and then clearly and without ANY ambiguity told him that I believed this branch would try to take him out.

This of course, did not deter Grimm, who laughs in an unsettling way in the face of danger and common sense advice. He climbed up, began to cut and just as predicted, the partially cut branch swung back around and came right at the ladder. I will admit to flinching out of the way. I may have uttered an expletive. Then I saw that Grimm and the ladder had been knocked completely off the tree with some force. In fact the impact had swung the ladder around and Grimm hung onto it like a tick. I grabbed at the side of the ladder but only managed to have it smash my forearm and shin and knock me back. It hung upright for a moment, completely unsupported before slowly falling back towards the ice covered pond. Grimm I think realized that he had to lower his altitude or risk full submersion. He dropped down from the top of the ladder. Luckily a large mass of thorn bushes lessened his impact with the ground.

There were a few moment of "Holy Shit!" before he got up and got his bearings. The chainsaw had left his hands and was fully in the pond. He fished it out and I helped him back onto dry land. He came out remarkably well for such an amazing stunt. His hands were chewed up a bit and a few bumps and bruises. It could have been far worse.

I waiting a good 30 seconds before issuing my first "I f-ing TOLD you this would happen!", which he apparently didn't hear. I have repeated this statement several times but like a White House press secretary he denies it ever happened.

After we finished we headed back to Bag End. Grimm managed to redeem himself by changing the U-joint to his van in the shop. A task that involved hammers, a propane torch and a lot of hitting. After all my ribbing he was kind enough to help me with some new parts I bought for the Shopsmith.

My only regret about the day was that I didn't have a video camera at that crucial moment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

War is a swell racket..

I know we don't need any more cynicism in this world. The past 5 years are enough to make anyone a bit disillusioned . But I just found this great quote about war. The amazing thing is the source. A Major General in the Marines. It's an older quote, and yet it is even more meaningful today than ever.

"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

For my first trick...

With the addition of a table saw last year and now the Shopsmith, space has gotten a little tight in the shop. I am hoping to get some retractable casters for the shopsmith so I can roll it out of the way. But that still leaves all the accessories, each of which takes up room and are currently stored in a 'lean it against something else and hope I don't break it' kind of way.

The answer? Build a table. Now I know this thing ain't purty. It's made from the crappiest scrap wood I could find lying around, but it does the job. The table has sets of holes where each of the tools posts slide in keeping them off the ground and easy to get to. It's held together with deck screws, the star pattern kind rather than philips heads and I must say that it was like discovering fire. They are 286% better than using philips, which now seem like crude bits of bone.

I also changed the power switch on the shopsmith. Shopsmith actually has a bunch of cool videos on their site showing you how to do just these kinds of things. Yes I know that swapping out a toggle switch isn't exactly sequencing the human genome but it does involve putting your hand directly into the motor housing, a place hands aren't supposed to go. I managed to scape up my bear size paws pretty good in the process, adding to my sense of accomplishment. After all, it's not a successful shop project unless there's blood involved.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The most amazing thing you've ever seen...

People throw that term around a lot. But i think I can safely say that the following link will take you to a story about a place so amazing, made in secret by people with such passion, that you will agree with my statement that it is the most amazing thing ever. I don't know if it's possible to visit this place, but I am damn well going to try.

I give you, The Temples of Damanhur

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Who are we?

I found this short film to be the most poignant thing I have watched in quite a while. If only we would embrace its simple truths, things would be a lot less messed up on this little blue planet.

Tool Pron...

Most women and many of those I call "tool impotent" may wish to click away to another site. This posting is about the sexy little number I brought home the other day, and man, can she deliver.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was browsing the toolmonger blog. They have a regular feature called "hot or not" where they ask if a specific tool is worth getting or lives up to its hype. The subject of this hot or not was the Shopsmith Mark V. This is a multi-function tool that first appeared in the 1050's and it's still in production today with almost no changes in funtion or design. The basic model is a table saw, a lathe, a horizontal borer, a drill press and disk sander. BUT, you can add ALL manner of accessories making it a true all in one tool. There was a great deal of debate on whether this was a tool worth investing in, since a new one (base model) is about $2500 and accessories can range from $2-400 bucks each.

Since I don't have a large barrel of money sitting around it seemed a moot point to consider its "hotness". But then I started checking ebay and craigslist. Sure enough, you can find used ones for a LOT less money. Often, they have accessories included. I found mine on ebay. It was bought at an estate sale and the owner was looking to make a quick buck on turnaround. I got it for $600! But wait, it gets more tasty. Included with the base unit was a Jig saw, a band saw (and blades), a joiner, router bits and a sander. Holy crap! All that stuff new would around $4500!!

My friend Ed drove with me out to Pittsburgh to get it and haul it home, a task that took the better part of a day (thanks Ed). I've spent the past 2 days cleaning, aligning and testing it out. So far everything works. The genius of the design is that it's A) Built like a tank and B) It has only one motor and IT is built like a tank. The power switch is a little flaky and the motors variable speed control feels a little off. Luckily parts and service are still available for it to this day. My unit was likely built between 1968 and 1978 and almost any new part or accessory I get today will work on it and there are a LOT of parts for sale on ebay.

I don't have the manual or the woodworking books that came with the unit originally, I may get these from the company. It was also missing the sanding disk, but that's it. Even without the manuals the design is so good that you can figure most things out yourself. I am beyond geeked about this thing. What should I build fist?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just got back from a wake...

But this was a fun one. My friend Duffy has a rare form of Anemia and wasn't expected to live much beyond 21. Well she's in her late 30's now and to celebrate another year thumbing her nose at the Grim Reaper she has a great party/wake. I guess her thinking is, why wait until you're dead to have a great party?

This year's theme was Harry Potter. I was surprised at the number of people who came in costume bearing wands, household ties and other props. Duffy and Jesse came as member sof house Sparklypoo. Go look it up, it's kind of funny of you know anything about fanboyism.

Ed as Hagrid (or maybe just a filthy hippie)

Me as Professor Catwhacker (potions) and Professor Fifi La rue (Defense against the Fark Arts by kicking it in the balls and then breaking its nose)

Holly and Myron. I love the idea of Harry Potter entering the workforce and swapping out his wand for an extending pointer with a bottle opener.

Cat as the flying instructor (forget the name at the moment) This was a great costume.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Someone comes to town, someone leaves town...

I've been in a pretty up mood of late. My brothers wedding was great and I am very happy for him. I've been helping a friend work on his place and putting my shop back in order which is a kind of Zen meditation. I'm not selling, not pushing anything. I'm enjoying the long Fall weather. But yesterday I got the news that I was hoping I wouldn't get. John Parker, the Glassblower at the Ohio Ren fair, passed away.

There's really no way to describe what a unique and cool guy this was. He was more active and full of life in his 70's than many people one third his age. His place was the heart of the show. There was always something going on there. He hosted potlucks, had music night, let people try out the pipe, had a million funny stories and genuinely loved life. He took shit from no one, especially the owner of the show.

And of course, he was a great artist. I am really gonna miss him.

Here's a pic I found of Parker in a rare moment of non tie-dyedness

Friday, November 09, 2007

I present to you..

Mr. and Mrs. Holiday! That's the new name and I rather like it. It will take a while to get used to. Goodman has been just Goodman for so long that he has entered the one-name celebrity circle, like Cher or Bono.

The wedding went off without any real hitches. There was a part in the ceremony where the parents stood and gave their blessings but in all the excitement leading up to the event kelly and Good forgot to actually tell the parents this. Luckily they had a pro at the wheel (cough me cough) and we smoothly got the parents to give their hearty blessings without missing a beat. The ceremony even had a small part for Hanah, Kellys daughter, who seems to dig Goodman and the feeling is mutual. I will have pics soon from family as I took none of my own. It was a very fun wedding. The laser tag contest to determine the best man was a blast. I am proud to say that I took second place. All those days I spent playing Photon in my youth were not wasted.

The pizza place/arcade/go cart/laser tag place was pretty cool and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously. Sometimes adults don't play enough. I got Rossana to play a samurai sword fighting game that uses a virtual sword you really swing and she rocked on it.

After the ceremony I signed the marriage certificate. As I had registered with the Universal Life Church so that my job as minister would be legit, I took great and wicked delight as listing my title as "The Right Revered Steven Pack". You may feel free to address me by this title when you see me, but I insist you say it correctly, loudly and with a slight southern accent.

I also hope to post a copy of the wedding program which is one of the funniest reads I have had in a while.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Big Day...

Arrived in Austin late but without incident. The parents made it, friends and family gathering for the big day. But today was pretty relaxed. We slept in, then took a walk down to the trendy 6th street. The weather is mild and the city is pretty damn cool. It also has a sense of humor about itself with restaurants that proclaim "Free straw with every beverage" and "It's only binge drinking if you stop".

There's a new Alamo Drafthouse theater that just opened not far away. It's a kick ass concept. Show cool movies AND take out every other row of seats and put in a bench like table and serve food. Brilliant. I wish we had something like this back in Cleveland.

My luggage was not lost (hurrah) and the wedding ceremony has been tweaked and finalized. In the last update I learned my brothers new last name. (He's simply been "Goodman" for about 15 years or so) At about 4pm today my Brother and his wife will be Mr and Mrs....

Nah, I won't spoil it.

Besides, I wouldn't put it past my brother to put out incorrect details to throw off the press. Tune in later for all the fun details.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Busy little ants

I have alluded to several projects that I have been working on over the past few weeks. Well here are a few pics. The big one was fixing, or rather building a roof at our Ohio Ren Fair booth. When we got the place, we knew its was little better than a tar paper shack. There's no polite way to say it. It was not built well. This was made worse by adding an extension off one side. At some point the previous owner must have planned to build a roof over the back quarter of the building but this project never happened. There were only a few bare rafters which we have thrown tarps over to keep the worst of the leaking at bay. Our booth is so ghetto that no rennie will work on it. That says something. So I made a call to someone who knows no fear. His name is Cowboy and with his abundant help we managed to build two complete roofs in two days. I wish I had more pics but we were pretty damn busy.

Here's what we had to work with. Three rafters, uneven floor, useless rolled roofing material. The one good thing is that the booth is made from rough sawn Red Oak.

Action shot. The extra fun part was that the stairs leading up to this roof are completely rotted and totally unsafe. But there was no time to work on them. We just kept praying we wouldn't drop straight through and break a leg.

By midnight Friday we had gotten this far. You can't see it here, but we built another complete roof near the front of the booth. A week later I finished the flashing, used a crapload of silicone, closing off the open area and finally put something on the back wall which was exposed studs. I'm pretty confident that this will stop the leaking.

The other project has been helping my friend Grimm fix up his house so that he can sell it. His wife is already in North Carolina at her new job. So he's basically on his own for most of this HUGE project. I am amazed at how much he's gotten done but it's the last 10% that can just drag on. I'm proud to say that I helped rebuild a deck, install a drywall ceiling & texture it as well as move a lot of heavy materials. Oh yeah, and I helped burn a lot of things that made me feel fairly guilty. I mean my hippie gene was just disgusted with myself. At some point a whole lawnmower was consigned to the flames.

It's close to completion now. Some painting, trimwork and a lot of yard work. I'm glad to lend a hand but it's a bittersweet project. Once it's done the house goes on the market and Grimm will be free to join his sweetie permanently. I'll miss him and his wife. They're a great couple. I've learned a LOT from Grimm on all manner of subjects and his IS my closest neighbor.

So, anyone looking for a place in the country? It's got land, a pond, a barn and has had a LOT of high quality renovation done on it. I'm talking an amazing marble tile bathroom, radiant floor heating, new carpet, kitchen, the works. Sure it's in Amish country, but you can shoot off guns out there and no one will mind. Interested? Drop me a line.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Mornings

This video clearly illustrates the morning routine of our "pet" known as The Great Cat of Reh (or "Ray" for short). Thanks to Grisette for sending me this!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Rossana and I took her Dad to the Crawford Auto & Aviation museum today. If you live anywhere near Cleveland you really should visit it. It's part of the Western Reserve Historical Society near University Circle so there's lots to see and do.

The visit took a lot out of us. Although there were a few sparks of interest here and there, it was overshadowed by the constant moaning about his hearing, the place he lives, phone solicitors and the general aging process. I have been listening to these same complaints for about 10 years now. Despite relatively good health he refuses to DO anything. It frustrates Rossana no end.

On a positive note, we saw a great car built in the early 1900's. I forget the name but it's one of those massive Deusenburg types. Wood spoked wheels, no windscreen, seat belts or power steering. Apparently one of the Museums directors took it to a public function and took it on the shoreway. He was pulled over for speeding, clocked at 91 miles per hour!!!! I cannot conceive of taking a 100+ year old car on a public highway and doing over 90. Hell, I don't do 90+ in MY car! And remember, no seat belts ands no windscreen. Amazingly, the cops let him go with a warning.

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 26, 2007

We all loose...

I made no post on Sept. 11 this year. For me it was too horrible to wallow in the sadness and depression of recalling that day. But so much of our lives today is impacted by that day. So much about our country was twisted... So that we almost don't recognize it any more.

In the days after 9/11 a terrible mistake was make. I'm not talking about foreign policy or the start of the war drums. No. A simple mistake was made by a pilot who forgot a radio in his hotel room. Later, a hotel employee "found" the radio in another room. A room where an Egyptian man was staying.

And this is where things went very wrong. This is where men in good faith did something that changed America. The FBI believed they had a 9/11 conspirator. He denied the radio was his, but of course, a terrorist would do that. Never mind that the radio doesn't fit into any terrorism scenario. These were the first few days right after the attack and no one knew how it had been planned or executed. All the FBI agent knew is that an Egyptian national had a radio used by pilots. This was all the proof he needed. But when the Egyptian wouldn't give him what he wanted he threatened to sick the Egyptian Security forces on his family back home.

These guys wouldn't simply make life unpleasant, they would very likely torture those who they suspected might be associated with terrorists. Let me be clear. He didn't threaten the Egyptian with torture, this is before we started sending people to secret CIA facilities where we only used the most human and White House sanctioned torture. He told the man the Egyptians would get his family, and Egypt (A country I love and hope to visit again some day) does not fuck around with terror suspects. Like Israel and Syria they can and will do all the things the Geneva convention forbids. Beating the feet with steel rods, electrical shocks to the genitals, drilling into flesh or worse.

The man was in a catch 22. Confess to something he did not do and his life would be over, but his family might be safe, or insist is his innocence and risk his families torture. He confesses. The radio is his. "Where did you get it?" asks the FBI agent. But the man can't tell his because it wasn't his. He makes up several stories, which only makes him look more guilty.

Then the real owner of the radio showed up. There was no plot. There was no evidence. There was no terrorist. The man was released.

This was the first misstep. But it would be followed by many more. In our zeal to find and punish those we felt were responsible we threw out the investigation play book and started cutting corners. Taking shortcuts to get justice. The War or Terror looks like and episode of "24" where he will break our own laws, ignore treaties, even torture in pursuit of the 'enemy'.

A lot of people talk tough about fighting terrorism. They take that anguish from 9/11 and channel it into a focussed beam of hate and grim determination to do "whatever it takes" to stop it from ever happening again. Give these people a gun and tell them that "that guy over there is a terrorist" and they might well shoot the guy themselves.

"So we made a mistake with this Egyptian guy, it was all sorted out, no harm no foul" you say.

But if the owner of the radio had not come back for it the Egyptian would very likely have been sent to Gitmo , or worse. We would have put an innocent guy and likely his family as well, into the meat grinder we have created and we would have destroyed them.

Only a short time ago almost half the detainees at Gitmo were released. We simply didn't have ANY evidence they were Al Qaida. "Horay! The system works!". But we had imprisoned them in closet sized cells there for YEARS. If they didn't hate America before, they sure as hell do now.

Look, I want to stop terrorist plots just like everyone else. I just don't want to destroy the country I love to do it. I want us to THINK before we act. Political candidates these days are trying to make themselves out as "Men of Action". You know what, we have those guys. They're called Marines. What I want are thinking men. Because action without thought is folly. And when we act like animals we all loose.

What's your opinion?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hitting the Big Red Button

When not tying women up in corsets I do website development. It has its ups and downs. Last month I caught someone trying to hack a clients website. It wasn't a clever attack. But it puts you into full on combat mode. It gets you going 900 miles an hour. Because things happen very quickly online. A lot of damage can be done in a very short time and it can take a LONG time to fix it.

An hour ago I sat down to check my email and noticed that godaddy said I changed a domain name server for a client. I've been offline all day. Alarm bells start going off. No other domain names seem to have been touched, but that might just mean that someone is right in the middle of fucking with my life and the livelihood of my clients.

I fire up my godaddy admin. If they made a change, they might have my password. Change it. I bring up an online chat with my webhosts. Do they know who this new nameserver is? Have they changed hosting providers? No. That's bad. That leaves the client making changes but he doesn't have access. Is he pissed off? Did he contact godaddy directly? I fire up Outlook and get ready to bite the bullet. Once I contact him and let him know there's a problem, it will likely make him nervous. I look like a moron and at best he looses confidence in me.

Then I take a closer look at the email. The domain name is CLOSE but isn't exact. It's the plural version of my clients site. I check godaddy. I never registered that name. A quick whois check shows someone I don't know and he got the name years ago.

I sit back and think. Then I close the email I was going to write to the client. Godaddy fucked up. This email was supposed to go to someone else. How did that happen? Isn't this process automated? I call godaddy just to double check and they have me forward them the email. They say everything is fine.

There is no crisis. No one is messing with anything. I take my hand off the Big Red Button and take a deep breath. Technology. Ain't is grand?

My nerdiness is showing...

The History channel is playing the Young Indiana Jones Adventures, a show I really liked back when it first came out. The show follows a 9 year old and a teenage version of Indy in his adventures around the globe. The ones with the younger Indy I never really liked as much, the child actor isn't that good and the pacing of the shows is bad. I do give them points for actually filming on location. The Moroccan episode is pretty good but an Egyptian segment left me scratching my head. In it, the young Indy and his tutor are left high and dry by their camel driver when they decide to climb one of the small Pyramids on the Giza plateau. Aside from the unlikeliness of a guide abandoning the balance of his pay, there are NO other tourists in the area??? By the time they get down the sun is setting. A young T.E. Lawrence arrives on a bike and they decide to make a camp for the night using camel dung for fuel.

But having been to the Giza plateau I know that its actually a very short walk from the Pyramids to the edge of Cairo. In fact, we could see the Pyramids from our hotel room at the Mena house Hotel (which was a hotel at the turn of the century as well). They could have walked a few hundred yards, sat down for tea and gotten a cab. Hardly an epic journey.

I know they had to raise the tension but I hate when basic facts are messed with. I won't even go into the Egyptology parts where they meet up with Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings. They show a man blasting the area with dynamite, which I don't believe Carter ever did since the area is unstable limestone, (although the Italian Egyptologist Caviglia did use Dynamite on one of the pyramids).

I know, I know. It's just a show. But it bugs me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Off to Spain! or maybe not...

For months I've been thinking that we are going to go to Spain this Winter or early Spring if money is available. It's a country that I heard some wonderful things about and I literally promised a dying man I would visit it some day. But finding a tour company with an itinerary we like has not worked out so well. I don't care about discos, or modern cities or shoe shopping. I know there is a lot to see there, it's just been hard to find a company that focuses on it. So today we're in Oberlin and on a whim we go into AAA to see if they can help. In short, nothing they showed us was super amazing. But as I was leafing through the Winter tour brochure of Europe my eye fell on a Danube River cruise. And unlike the Spain tours, this one promises to be dripping with Medieval castles, markets, monasteries and palaces.

Germany knows what appeals to it's visitors and is all too happy to oblige them. The travel is by boat so only one unpacking. More time to see and do.

Of course, doing Spain by ourselves is a real option. Get our own car. It's left hand drive (we've driven in the UK but it's always nice to be in ones comfort zone when driving public roads with crazy people). We could set our own itinerary, see some really obscure sites. On the other hand we're talking Germany and Austria here and that means pastries. And I like pastries.

Timing is the other concern. The German tour is in December, a time of the year when Rossana and I both get itchy. It's weird. We don't like Xmas here, but we're thinking about visiting Germany at the same time of year. Maybe their Xmas doesn't feel like an loud consumer buybuybuy whorefest.

It's time to go, man. Go go go.

The world is vast and beautiful and while it looks great on TV, you can't experience it that way.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Super Awesome

If you are a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and who amongst us isn't?) You will be delighted to know that the guys behind this great show are back at it. sells downloadable audio tracks that you can play along with your favorite new DVD movie release. Of course, newer movies tend to not such as much as the gems on MST3K but not by much. At $3 -$4 it's a cheap way to liven up your next movie night.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday morning chuckle

Wow, another weekend working in an oven at O-Ren. Checking the calender I see that it is FUCKING OCTOBER. What the hell gives? We should be shoveling snow out of the front of our booth by now. At least this weekend we kicked mighty ass. Any way, for your Monday morning pleasure I give you the List of the 9 Most Manly Names.

One name not on the list is Magnus Pyke. Don't recognize the name? It the old scientist looking guy who appears in Thomas Dolby's "She blinded me with science". He just happens to have been an actual scientist. That's pretty freakin' cool.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Sure, it's the 21st century and I don't have a !@#$% flying car. I can deal with it. I'm not happy, but I can handle it. What does that leave? Talking computers, moon base, giant walking robots. There are still a lot of cool things I was promised that haven't materialized yet.

But wait, what is this? A super hi tech material thats soft and flexible but when exposed to sudden shock instantly becomes rock hard? Sweeeeeeeet The material d30 (which even sounds like a D&DE armor class) works a little like corn starch in water. Expose it to shock, and some molecular/structural/magic transformation happens turning the rubber-like material solid. Very very cool.

So my question is, could it work for SCA combat? Better yet, when can I get underwear made out of this?

More video of one chick hitting another in the kneecap with a shovel here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Strange on many levels...

I kid you not. Here is a link to a flickr photo set of the annual Furries vs. Trekkers bowling match.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Better than Disneyland

I've been camped out as it were at ORF (Ohio Ren Fair) this week as we have two mandatory kids days. These are about as fun as a root canal. Add to this that is ALWAYS rains these two days and that my booth leaks... Well what can I say?
Last weekend here was tolerable, but pretty freakin hot. I hoped to put the two off days to good use but building a new sales desk but the temp shot into the 90's and I had to get into some AC. We did get some shoping done and had movie night at the booth.(more about that later).
Meanwhile in Michigan my understaffed crew pulled in two FAT sales days. They even managed to sell the $1200 leather Demonatrix outfit for CASH. I drive back up there tomorrow to finish up the show.
It's been odd being back at ORF. While the site is not as well laid out as other shows (and the food is the worst of any show) the place has got some charm. We have a nice chapel, a pond, the coolest pirate ship stage, a great glass blower and some of the trees planted years ago are now looking like real trees instead of shrubs. ORF also has the feel of an actual town in that we can stay in our booths. There's thursday night music jams and Monday morning breakfasts over at Parkers shop. I'll often just walk the grounds at night for the pleasure of it. Ohio has its charms I guess.

Friday, September 21, 2007

No fatties or ugly chicks...

I present to you a story from across the pond where a woman was denied access to a club because her crutches (which she needs to walk) could be used as "Offensive Weapons". She seems a bit miffed and has contacted several disability advocates. She can't understand why the club didn't use some common sense. After all, as the article points out, any unfixed object can be used as a weapon. Purses don't seem to be searched there so you could bring in a whacking big knife or a tactical nuke if you were so inclined.

So how could this have happened? I'll tell you how. Go read the article. Or, if you're in a hurry just take a peek at the woman in question. Still not sure why she wasn't given access? I suspect that the doorman was simply weeding out fatties and ugly chicks and she didn't make the cut. I suspect if she had looked like this, she'd have walked right in. But we can't have imperfect people at our pleasuredomes. Go check out any TV show that shows a club scene. CSI Miami, Burn notice, anything. Ever see a normal looking person? Hell no. Ugly people should go to dark, seedy bars (unless that bar is Coyote Ugly, in which case you can just stay at home).

On the up side, if she gets a good lawyer, she could buy a nice new car with the settlement from the lawsuit. Awesome.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Love....exciting and new.....

I had the very good fortune to meet and fall madly in love with Rossana when I was a younger man. But there was a time when I was single (a period we call "The dark times"). I can't claim that I had any special skill at "picking up chicks". I was devastatingly charming (lucky) and somehow managed to meet several nice people who I dated for a while through the theater or the medieval groups I belonged to. But I understand full well how hard it can be to meet people. And it can be even harder if you're looking for that special someone who not only thought Lord of the Rings was the best. film. evar. but who can speak a smattering of Elven and can order G'ack in Klingoneese.

In short, it can be hard to meet a fellow geek.

Geeks are becoming much more mainstreak these days. Being a gamer or a Treker no longer means you will remain a virgin. Far from it. But weeding through dense jungle of online dating strikes me as a daunting task. That why I think that is such a neat idea. An online dating site for geeks, fan-boys and fan-girls. If you're single, or know a geek that is, you might want to check them out. I'm not getting any kickback or anything. I just saw the site being pimped over at PvPonline and thought I'd pass it on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Super cool tool system

If anyone happens to win the lottery in the next few months, I would be quite happy to receive one of these as a present. The Mobile-Shop looks pretty damn sweet (even if the website looks like poo). All modular with tons of storage and wheels. It even comes complete with tools, screws, nuts bolts, tape, everything. The weird thing is that it doesn't seem to have storage for many power tools. A storage unit for a cordless drill and circular saw would be nice, as they are what you use 90% of the time during construction projects.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

About Me...

A lot of people want to know "Who is Steve Pack?" Well I'll tell you.

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Gentleman's Duel

I have been looking for this ever since I heard about it several months ago. Check it out quickly, at it likely won't be up for long:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fracking whiner...

That would be me of course. I've barely moved in two days. I flip between cold and short bursts of fever where I sweat profusely. All the while generating huge amounts of lung butter and snot. The drugs seem to do nothing. I am getting very little done.

And then I remember my friend Patrick, who is undergoing Chemo and another friend who suffered a fucking stroke a week or so ago.

So at this point I will shut my damn pie hole about how bad I have it. I don't have it bad at all. I have a frackin cold.

My only worry now is getting stock and whether I'll be well enough to work this weekend. In my eighteen or so years doing this I haven't missed many work days. We can't afford to. The last time was food poisoning at the SCA event Gulf Wars. That took me out for two whole days and had me at half capacity the rest of the time. On the other hand I don't want to make my minions (or customers) sick. I have to go to Michigan, there's no avoiding that. But if I'm not better I might just hand the show off to them and keep resting.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Really Freakin tired...

The labor day weekend was, from a business perspective, ass-kickingly good. I think we broke our record up in Michigan. Ohio was slower, but was hampered by limited stock. Every one of my minions worked their asses off and it showed. I simply could not have done this by myself. Period.

The down side was that for whatever reason, I simply didn't sleep well at all. And by Monday I was dragging something fierce. I couldn't keep up. My throat was raw and my eyes hurt. Then I started getting call from Lindsey. Corsets were coming in with popped stays, corsets only a year old and gently worn. I had two customers with complaints up in Michigan. The cherry on this crap sandwich was a report that one corset came back because it had NO stays at all on one side. They hadn't popped out, they'd just not been inserted to begin with! Statistically, this is a really small number of corsets compared to what I sell every year, but I like to think I'm selling quality and durability.

I had to call Thomas, who was down at DragonCon (grr) and let him know that quality control needs to be reviewed. Seriously. I know it's not his direct fault, but he's the one I can talk to so he get to hear me bitch.

Oh, and the scratchy throat has now apparently blossomed into a cold. Joy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I just discovered that one of my clients websites has been hacked. Needless to say, I am most displeased. How did this happen? Pretty simple. The client had a pretty easy to guess user name and password. Do YOU change your passwords regularly? Are they a combination of letters and numbers? Do you use the same user name and password on lots of sites? I bet a lot of you do.

Luckily the damage was minimal. They tried to redirect paypal payments to a disposable email account. A pretty unsophisticated hack. I immediately changed the user name and password to something much harder to guess, then I password protected the admin page itself with a different password. I then changed the FTP password. Then I tracked down the little bastards I.P. range. He's somewhere in Brazil most likely so I can't just drive to his place and mess with him personally.
My clients are my friends. And I don't like people fucking with my friends.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Did I mention the tornado?

When we left for Michigan on Friday we were running late. It always happens. You forget stuff, the phone rings the cats need to be fed. Whatever. We weren't worried because we set up the tent at Camp Jellystone near the Michigan Ren last week and all we were going to do at the site was drop off more stock.

As a result of leaving late we caught the Detroit traffic and by the time we'd gotten past it we ran into the "Thunderstorms" that had said we would experience. What this turned out to be was a blotting out of the sun and a wall of water that slowed us to a crawl for a half hour. This was actually a good thing. When we arrived at the campground it appeared that a tornado might have strolled right on through. Power was out and trees were knocked down everywhere. Several camping trailers had been hit by falling trees and half the tents in the little rennie camp area had been destroyed or knocked down or flooded. Honestly, it looked a lot like Biloxi again. We rolled in just as people were coming out of hiding to check on things. Luckily, no one was hurt, which is amazing as several people rode out the storm IN their tents. Our tent was hit by several branches which bent one support and tore a small hole in the rain fly. But we were still standing and dry.

People at the camp wasted no time. Chainsaws appeared and limbs were dragged into huge piles. Everyone chipped in. Within an hour our area was relatively tree-free. I was also a filthy mess. I offered our tent to anyone who needed crash space and we spent the night with our friends Monkey and Diane near Detroit. Power was still out at the camp on Saturday night but we stayed there anyway.

I took a few pics with my phone camera but they just don't do the damage justice.

The fair opened despite the weather, having suffered no great damage from what I saw. And we proceeded to have one KICK ASS weekend in sales. The vibe at the shop was great and the team worked very well together, including a new minion named Michele.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

God I love the British

Not physically, of course. Their teeth scare me. But their sense of humor is just great and I enjoy fast paced work like this:

And if you like that, head over to for more of the same.

Pics from GenCon

Sadly, I didn't get to take very many. Too busy working. But I did grab a few and here they are.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The New addition to the family...

And here it is. Our new booth at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire. Obtaining it was an adventure fraught with stress and worry but in the end we got a good deal and a good booth.

Monday, August 20, 2007


We finished the three week marathon that was Great Lakes, Pennsic and GenCon. It was brutal at times but we made it and I am glad we did all three events. So what was my reward when I arrived home? A mysterious water leak in my house.

There is a trench or pipe that runs under the floors of the house. It's basically an air duct for the air conditioner on the roof. When I fired up the AC today to cool down the muggy house I heard a strange gurgling. It seemed to come from everywhere but we quickly narrowed it down to the pipe in the floor. It was completely filled with water. I tried sucking the water out with my shop vac but after thirty trips outside to dump the water I was making no headway. I went to the hardware store and rented a sump pump, but it was the kind you sit in a large flooded area, it didn't fit in the pipe. Back to the hardware store. This time we got a pump used for draining pools. We hooked it up and an hour later we'd emptied more of the water, but not all of it. I stopped and waited a few hours and the pipe has partially refilled. Of course this process made a huge mess in the kitchen where we were working.

I have no freaking clue where the water is coming from. We spent gobs of money to prevent just this sort of thing. There is a fucking rubber sheet covering the ENTIRE roof. The best we can figure is that the huge amount of rainfall has caused water to build up and leak through some small gap in our defenses. And water will just keep moving until it finds a way out. Maybe the water is from the side yard, maybe the roof, maybe a drainage line from the garage is broken. I have no easy way to know or find out. This is the pain in the ass of non-standard home construction. We are constantly trying to figure out how the place was built, why they did things the way they did, and how they fucked it up.

With the rain (hopefully) over I'm hoping the water leak will stop. If it doesn't then there's some kind of water line leak, which would be so bad as to be unimaginable. So far I don't believe this to be the case as running water lines make noise and I don't hear anything yet. What a great treat to come home to.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Let the feast of a thousand geeks begin!

Day Two of GenCon. The biggest gaming con anywhere. How's it going? well, its not the feeding frenzy I was hoping for. But its still pretty good. I had dreams of screaming corset groupies grabbing fr any corset they could get their grubby hands on, clambering for any product we could throw at them. The money would pile up on the floor in heaps. After the show, I would make snow angels in it.

Alas, it has not gone quite that way. I'm still not complaining as sales are strong. The event site is MASSIVE. Lots to see. Many shiny objects to distract. I bought another swords, because, well...I have a problem and can't say no. I tried to cover myself by handing it to Rossana and saying I got it for her (it did fit her hand well) but she could see right through me.

Not a lot of pictures yet, but tomorrow is the day of the costume contest. I have my camera at the ready. There is a pc gaming section demoing Crysis, which looks very cool. No other cool clothing vendors that I've seen so far.

Last night the wifi went out in the motel. A call to the front desk informed us that it was a problem with AT&T. Apparently they were having trouble keeping up with 60,000 geeks trying to such down gigabytes of porn on free wifi connections. Go figure.

The city of Indianapolis is creeping me out. It's clean, well laid out, has friendly and courteous drivers and good signage. What the hell is wrong with these people?

Gotta sleep now. The big day is tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Back home from Pennsic and the last two weekends of the great Lakes Fair. So much, soooo much. No time!

The short form:

  • Pennsic: A never ending flume ride through an oven.
  • Great lakes: I was nearly decapitated by a porta john.
  • Pennsic: Great Party
  • Great Lakes: We bought a booth!
  • Home: I get a mysterious scar on my forehead (really)
A quick stop at the the house and now we dash off to set up Michigan and do Gen-Con. Could life get busier? Yes, I may be merchanting at Pennsic next year. Holy Crap.

I'll post details when time allows. Stay cool out there.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Greatest prank ever

I appreciate a clever prank and this one gets top marks for creativity in my book.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The good news!

My Dad saw the doctor today and got the go ahead to start weaning himself off the neck brace! It appears that he's healing nicely and will likely be in good enough shape to take a planned trip to Germany this September. He sounded great on the phone, lots of energy and even talked about getting a replacement truck for his business.

Cool Beans.

Death Kittah

I have only three words for you: Grim Reaper Cat

This story is so strange it even weirds ME out a little.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Not bad...

Sometimes cruising YouTube yields interesting results. Here is a gentleman who seems to have built how own Bag End (complete with a *twitch* round door)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In hindsite...

I have read on the internets that Daniel Radcliffe (He who is Harry Potter) will turn 18 this month and when he does, he will obtain control of $40 million dollars.

Wow. I was, you know, going to get him a card...or something but uh...

Anyway. I can only hope that Mr. Radcliff will have wise and helpful hands to guide him away from the kinds of temptations $40 MILLION can buy. I am tempted to look back at my life and wonder what I might have done with $40 million when I was 18 and am forced to conclude that I would have no freakin clue. I would likely have saved some of it, but there would be some pretty large purchases that I would be regretting about now.

Like the full sized millenium falcon in my back yard, or the Hoth Base (complete with Imperial walkers) I built in Norway. Or perhaps the strip club with a Star Trek theme. The possibilities are endless.

What would you regret having bought or done with if you'd been given $40 million on your 18th birthday? And if you say "I would have invested it all in a broad range of well managed blah blah blah: you're LYING.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

These are the times...

You may have heard me state at some point that I enjoy what I do. And most of the time that is true. I like what I do, I like to travel, I like Conventions and I like the people I meet at them.

Most of the time.

But the fact is, many of these events are run by volunteers or some other semi-organized entity. What I and my fellow merchants like to call Dumb Monkeys.

Dumb Monkeys are a threat to who I am and what I do. Why? Because they are DUMB. This is not to say that they are evil, they often have the best of intentions, but that doesn't help me when they fuck up a convention, and by extension, fuck over ME.

Let me explain. There are hundreds of cons, gatherings, tournaments and ren-faires held a year. We can't afford to attend them all. We can't risk spending a chunk of change to drive to Oregon only to find out that only 200 people are showing up and there are no guests and the hotel is a cesspool. So we screen every event we hear about. First, we visit the website. If the website sucks, we don't do the event. If it's an okay website that never gets updated? We don't do the event. Then we email them a question. Don't get a reply? We don't go. We talk to our fellow merchants and swap info. We search flickr for pictures of the event. Are there crowds in the picture? How does the site look? Is the vendor fee super low? That's a warning sign of a bad event. The process of finding good events is slow, tedious and very very time consuming.

I know it isn't easy setting up and running an event, but its a shitload easier than it used to be. But despite email and collaborative tools and years of experience and numerous resources some people still cock it up. There are a number of ways to kill and event. Poor planning, no advertising, spending too much or too little on guests, too narrow a focus, lack of staff, no financial backing etc etc.

And then there's the worst kind of fuck up. The management break up.

We did PyrateCon a while back and it was an okay event. It could be better but the guys running it had a lot of heart and put a lot of work into the event. Plus its PIRATES in NEW ORLEANS. I mean, they didn't have to twist my arm, I was keen to go again. Things seemed even better when we negotiated an exclusive deal to be the only vendor selling corsets at the event. I sent in my money and marked my calendar.

Then the shit hit the fan. Someone took over the PyrateCon Website. Accusations are made that the previous staff ran the event poorly. New Managament were now running things. Except they don't seem to know who I am. I hit google. Now there's another website claiming to be the REAL PyrateCOn, the others are thieves and frauds! Litigation is under way!

And just like that, this event is fucked. There is no way to fix it. Say one side does sue the other (not much chance because these people aren't running a for profit company or if they are they usually operate on very thin profit margins) most of their money will be eaten up by lawyers. Say they don't sue but fight it out online and in blogs and on myspace pages. Guess what, it hurts both events. Neither one flourishes. And again, I'm fucked.

I'm being told I have to contact the old management to resolve my "payment issues". Yes, I did make out the check to a specific person (i.e. Joe Blpw/PyrateCon) which in hindsight was a mistake. But these new guys are claiming they're pyratecon so I'm going to put their feet to the flame. I doubt the old management team has the money to refund to me (they're suing, remember?) The best I can hope for is a credit towards the new event and I'm not holding out too much hope of that.

Dumb Monkeys.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I was poking around youtube when I came across this. If you understand this bit, congratulations, you are a full blooded geek.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Aaaaaand we're off!

The first weekend of the official summer season went off pretty well. It wasn't easy, but we managed to run two shows at once. Origins in Columbus and Great Lakes Medieval Fair in Geneva. Although it was four days straight I was glad to be at Origins. It was indoors and that has advantages. Sunday was brutally hot in Geneva.

I am amazed at how smoothly things actually went considering when we showed up to Origins they had NO IDEA who we were. Apparently there was a cock up. I'm not going to point any fingers or assign blame. Lets just say that some guy, who may or may not have a blog did not get the vendor fee and application to the right people. This guy is obviously an idiot but please cut him some slack, he fills in like 20 of these a year and each one is for an event 6-10 months away.

Anyhoo, things didn't look good because, well, these guys hadn't been paid and didn't know to expect us (or say, assign us a booth space). This is when a great guy named Matt Ragsdale stepped up and saved our asses. He got us in, got us a space and didn't ask for a damn red cent. He trusted us when we said we'd sent in the money. He took us at our word. That's a rarity for an event like this. This ain't no local Sci-Fi con. This is an gaming industry event second only to Gen-Con.

I met Matt at Marcon a few years ago and I have to say that the guy is tops in my book. Needless to say, I'm doing next years paperwork NOW and sending it registered mail this time.

Oh, and we saw Transformers on Thursday and it ROCKED!

Monday, July 02, 2007


Some people have waaaaay too much time on their hands. And for this I am very glad.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bigus Dickus

It seems that the Roman legionnaires are getting a bit unruly.

Y'know, this is why the Senate forbid the armies of Rome within the city. Once Julius Ceasar had his troops cross the Rubicon, it was bound to happen ...

Or am I using waaaaaaay obscure references here?

Before and After

I went back and found some of the earliest pics I took of the house and compared them with how things look now. Wow. Pretty drastic changes! All all this is three years. I think we're done with big changes for now. Please dear god, please let us be done...

Here's a more static gallery of Before and After if flash ain't your thing

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I managed to get a relatively cheap flight to Boston at 8:30 this morning. The plane left at 9:45. I don't know how I made it but I'm glad I did. It's a 12 hour drive, and while I like driving, it would have eaten up too much time.

It's been just over a year since I last saw my Dad but upon arriving at his Chelmsford home my first impression is that he looked better than the last time I'd seen him. Yes, he's in a neck brace, but it's not as scary as I thought it would be. He's got lots of energy, no scars or bruises. His color is great and apparently he lost a little weight in the hospital. Damn.

His mobility is impaired. The collar bugs him, as it would anyone. He's taking Ambien to help him sleep and it seems to be working. Over the last two years my sleep cycle has kinds sucked and I'm wondering if it might help me.

We talked a lot, which he (and I) love to do, had a great meal and watched his ginormous projection TV. I've managed to make myself useful by getting his printer to talk to his computer again. His DVD-Rom is not working, but that should be a quick fix.

It's hard to relax after so many weeks of busting ass on the house. I need to shop for some jeans. I managed to destroy three pairs doing house stuff. I also wiped out two of my most comfy tshirts but I have lots of those.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ta Da!!!!!!

The party went pretty damn well. Good weather, maybe too good. A bit warm for all. Many huddled under the new roof chowing down on the amazing amount of food that was available. We got a lot of compliments about the new roof and stucco.

As always, there wasn't enough time to sit and talk with anyone at any length. And there were a lot of people. I got to try a friends new bow, very nice. Alas, I didn't have a string for the crossbow I got on ebay. Frisbee hack had a few new twists this year, and once again, no one cut their own head off. I had hoped to have fighting radio controlled Pirate ships but only one was ready. Maybe next year.

The record for longest distance travelled to attend was 1160 miles by Ms Aleta who narrowly beat out my long time friend Jim Taber who came 1158 miles. I need to find some friends in the UK. That was this can be "An International Party".

The fireworks.... well, what can be said. We got a lot of them. Maybe too many. This was supplemented by my friend Travis. As always, safety was the watchword. (Stop snickering) Last years theme was "The Polish Space program" this year? "Here, hold my beer".

So loud and so large was the display, that we actually had a neighbor complain about it. Luckily I have 'people' to handle such annoying persons. He threatened to call the police . We calmly informed him that it was only 9:30 at night and that we had a licenced, trained pyrotechnition on hand and that the show would be over soon. Some of those statements were actually true.

What was really cool was the clean up crews that picked up the trash and helped clean up the fireworks debris.Very cool. It made Sunday's clean up much easier. People were also very generous with donations to help defray the cost of the fireworks. Thanks guys.

If anyone has any pics (As I once again too none) please email them to me. I'll throw up a gallery for them.

If you missed the party, it sucks to be you. You missed a great shindig. If you didn't get an invite, I apologize. I try to exclude no one. Send me your email and snail mail address for next year.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Its go time

The party is almost here. We're down to the last few projects. I am very glad of this, because I feel like I have been in a perpetual state of filthy for the past 30+ days. Seriously. I have been covered in some kind of filth, paint, stain, mud, mortar or glue for over a month. I have destroyed two pairs of pants and three shirts. Rossana has worked even harder than I have and Lindsey has helped out with all kinds of no fun projects.

The end results though, are pretty impressive. I won't post any pics until after the party. It should be big. Today I hit the fireworks store and again I was UNSUPERVISED. I went way overboard this time. Really. This show will be amazing, but I'm going to need to put out a donation jar to try and recoup the large chunk of change I dropped on this fantasia. I have no ability to say No to things that go boom.

It will be great to see my friends. Sometimes this is the one time a year I get to see some of these people. After the party I'm going to visit my Dad up in Boston. Then it's back to work. Great Lakes Medieval Faire opens soon.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A waste of air...

I am going to spend a moment to talk about Paris Hilton. That's right. Paris Hilton. I didn't want to. But I am forced by events to comment on this walking bag of uselessness.

I was happily minding my own business, checking CNN to see the news of the day. There's lots going on in the world and I was hoping for some updates. How's the G8 summit going? Will the shuttle launch on time? Is Alberto Gonzales out of a job yet? But I couldn't get any information about these news items because Paris Fucking Hilton was there in all her file footage glory. I waited, but that sack of antlers wouldn't go away. Why not? I actually tuned in my brain for a moment.

It seems that Paris was going to jail. Why? Well apparently she was busted for DUI. She got probation, a fine and had to take a class. Then she got caught driving on a suspended license. They she was pulled over for doing 70 in a 35 zone while STILL suspended.

So a judge said,"You going to jail" and sentenced her to 45 days in the pokey. According to her loyal friends and fans, this was akin to sending her to Gitmo. She showed up, spent four days in jail, and was released, supposedly for "medical reasons" and would apparently serve the rest of her 45 days under house arrest.

I'd like to take a moment to clarify some things. First. It's very likely she would only spend 23 days in jail. The jails are very crowded in California and they was to save space for the violent offenders. Two. For anyone worried she was being raped or at risk of being shived. She wasn't. She was in a segregated section reserved for celebrities, police, politicians or anyone else is likely to be hassled while serving time.

By now you're saying "What the fuck?" and rightly so. The judge wasn't very pleased either and had her hauled back to court this morning. After that, she was thrown back in the pokey for the full 45 days.

I will admit that at this point, I'm hooked. I want to know what happens next to Paris Hilton. You've won, mass media. I can't help it. What should have been a simple life lesson about why we shouldn't drink and drive, and drive... and drive... has turned into a fiasco.

There is some confusion about who has authority with regards to early prisoner release. It may be that the sheriff has a certain amount of discretion in these cases. But the judge had specifically stated that she wouldn't be getting off with a suspended sentence, or house arrest. The prosecutor asked the judge if maybe the sheriff was in contempt of court. That's pretty serious. The prosecutors office fielded hundreds of angry calls and emails about this bullshit, and rightly so.

Luckily the judges order seems to be the final word. She's in jail and will remain there. She was apparently in tears and they took her from the courtroom saying "It's not fair!" and calling for her "Mommy".

I would like to point out that I have no problem with the segregated accommodations she got. And I am not so cold that I would insist a sick person remain imprisoned without medical attention. If she's sick, get her a doctor. If she's unhappy, well that's just too fucking bad. Jail isn't Disneyland.

And crying and screaming for her mom? This woman is 26 years old. Show some fortitude. You'll live. Consider growing up.

I am curious to know exactly how this situation went from routine to fucked up so fast.

It's easy at this point to swing right into a rant about what a stupid, spoiled rich slut she is. But I will refrain. It's wrong to hang your morals on someone else. Yes, she recorded herself having sex and then marketed it herself. Where some would se an opportunistic slut, others would see a market savvy entrepreneur. Maybe her parents have a more European view about sex. Fair enough. And her drug use? Same thing. Neither of my parents has berated me upon learning that I tried marijuana. Of course, that's all I have tried. Paris Hilton parents must be VERY European to be cool with cocaine, heroin or bulimia.

And it's certainly not a requirement that you do something useful with your life and the millions you get just for existing. It's weird. Paris stands there and is a beloved celebutante. Bill Gates has given away BILLIONS for charitable causes and is still viewed as the Antichrist.

So your life consists of a TV show that repeatedly shows you to be vapid, shallow and stupid. You are paid to be pretty. You incessantly party. You take drugs and engage in videotaped sex. You use racist terms a lot when you think people aren't watching.


It's your life. But once you get behind the wheel of a car drunk, you've crossed a line. And when you ignore the rules and reality in general, you cross another line. So when you get sent to jail for breaking the law, you really have no reason to complain. You had your chance. You blew it. Sorry you got dicked around for a day, but oh well. Lot's of people get dicked around by the legal system every day. Some people spend years in jail on false evidence. Shit happens. You'll get over it kid.

This won't stop the circus of course. There are high priced attorneys to be hired, tearful interviews with her parents, lawsuits to be filed, scandalous tabloids to be printed. Protests, online petitions and a swarm of media gnats buzzing around every aspect of this case like flies around shit.

In all of this I really can't but wonder about the parents. I know parents love their children, even their fucked up ones. They often love and support them, even when they do stupid, illegal and morally questionable things. But at some point you have to realise you've fucked up. Yes, she may be genetically defective. But you raised her and so the finger points mostly to you. Maybe shielding her from the world isn't the answer guys. Maybe she needs to learn her lesson. It doesn't mean you don't love her. It just mean you won't be her enablers.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Although I do not have the hefty chunk of Krugerands they want for these, I am nevertheless covetous of them. Maybe someday when I crack the secret of turning lead into gold I shall buy all three. Until then, I shall be content with watching this cracking good commercial:

Saturday, June 02, 2007


This is pretty impressive. Super detailed doll house scale model of Bag End. Sweet. The pictures are pretty big and there are a lot of them, low bandwidth visitors beware. Go check it out!

Curse or statistical fluke?

Is my annual family get together cursed? Looking back ober the last three years. The first year I wasn't feeling well. When my wife finally talked me into seeing the doctor it turned out I had strep throat AND walking pneumonia. Last year, Rossana popped her knee out while gardening. This year? My Dad has an accident (although is wasn't here, he WAS scheduled to be here in a few days).

I'm starting to see a pattern here...

Friday, June 01, 2007

And now the bad news...

The message on my voicemail was from my Dad. He was scheduled to drive his bike down from Boston next week for an annual visit. But his voice was off and he said he wasn't going to make it.

When I called he told me he'd been in a car accident. He's flipped his truck four times and was in the hospital with 2 fractures in his C2 vertebrae. I waited for the other shoe to drop.

"I'm okay. I can move my hands and feet alright. It looks like I'll be in a neck brace for about three months."

While it's never good to hear your parent has been in an accident, at least he wasn't paralysed or crippled. He's in pain but refuses the powerful stuff. He's lost some feeling in his scalp and his face hurts from the airbag. No one else was hurt in the accident. The truck was, needless to say, totalled.

He loved that truck.

Not knowing what to do I went to the store and bought a 'Get Well' card and a box of cookies. I eat when I'm stressed sometimes. I kinda flipped out a little in the car outside the supermarket put pulled it together. I went home and stared cleaning my desk (another thing I do when I get freaked out). I'm glad he's alright. Even at 39 I'm not ready to deal with the mortality of my parents.


My brother Goodman just got engaged! I'm geeked! And it looks like the wedding will be in November. I am really happy for him. It looks like we'll be visiting Austin again. It's a great city. I wonder if I'll get a chance to visit the Alamo Drafthouse again?

Oh, and she's wiccan. Sweet.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A quick poll

THE coolest car

I am not a car person. To me, a car serves a function, and form is something I usually don't care about. There are exceptions of course. The Delorean (time machine or otherwise) The spinner from Blade Runner, the Mach 5 and a few others. Sure.

But in general most cars, modern or classic, fail to get my heart running. I can apprciate them, but not crave them. This is not the case with Bugatti's Veyron. Watch this video and see for yourself.

I am well aware that the way they shot this sequence is half of what makes it so cool. This is a car show for gods sake! Yet it has the visuals of a movie. Outstanding.