Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spending money to money....wait what?

Times is tough. Money is tight. So we're looking at ways to make our pathetic pieces of green paper go farther.

The first was changing our health insurance. Apparently the arrival of the new year is the signal for our insurer to tack on another $100 a month to our insurance bill. This we just can't take. It's gotten to the point of absurdity. But I don't want to have no insurance at all, so we make our deal with the devil. We lower our premiums by accepting more upfront costs. A LOT more. On the up side, when you tell doctors or hospitals you are paying cash, the bill is often lower. The plan is to save the insurance for the really bad stuff.

Car insurance will be next.

Then there's the phone. The local phone lines are so decrepit that we loose 50 - 80% of our service when is rains heavily here. I can't get cell signal in our home (being underground and all) and I don't want to try a call-repeater or change our number (which is tied to our business). The answer? Ooma. Ooma is a VOIP system, like Vonage. But unlike vonage, you buy the hardware once and that's it. Voice quality is also supposedly better. It looks like a pretty sweet system. I bought the base unit and one satalite unit. But I need to get a router working in my office to hook it up to. I also need to test the system with my wonky internet provider. But if it all works, I will be able to change over my landline to Ooma (something Vonage can't do here yet) and start saving an ASSLOAD of money. I'll let you know how it's working in a few days.

The WORKS!!!!!!!

Swiss watch found in 400-year-old tomb

Archeologists in China are baffled after finding a tiny Swiss watch in a 400-year-old tomb.

The tiny Swiss watch found in a 400-year-old tomb /Quirky China News

The watch ring was discovered as archeologists were making a documentary with two journalists from Shangsi town.

"When we tried to remove the soil wrapped around the coffin, a piece of rock suddenly dropped off and hit the ground with a metallic sound,? said Jiang Yanyu, former curator of the Guangxi Autonomous Region Museum.

"We picked up the object, and found it was a ring. After removing the covering soil and examining it further, we were shocked to see it was a watch."

The time was stopped at 10:06am, and on the back was engraved the word "Swiss", reports the People's Daily.

Local experts say they are confused as they believe the tomb had been undisturbed since it was created during the Ming dynasty 400 years ago.

They have suspended the dig and are waiting for experts to arrive from Beijing and help them unravel the mystery.

Keen - Pics of shuttle Endeavor

great set of pics documenting all the steps involved in a typical shuttle mission. Very keen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bread and Circuses

I've just heard that Rome intends to bring back the Gladiatorial games at the Colosseum (or more correctly at the Flavian Amphitheater) next year. Sure, they will be watered down. But still. Gladiator combat IN THE COLOSSEUM! If the Romans were smart they would contract with the UFC and turn this into a money making machine for the city.

I would truly dig getting to fight here even if it's a demo or with non-lethal weapons. To stand where so many stood before you, being cheered by the crazed citizens of a bloodthirsty expansionist empire. Of wait, we have that already with Monday night football. And for real violence catch a Manchester United game in Spain.

As an aside, there are some Christian fundies that I'd love to toss in for authenticity purposes...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whale Wars

If you've not heard of this show I urge you to seek it out. It's pretty cool. The 7 part show follows the Sea Sheppard's as they attempt to locate and disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica. In short, the Japanese can hunt down and perform "research" on a limited number of whales every year and then sell off the 'specimens' for a whacking profit. There are laws protecting the whales, but there is a grey area that no country seems willing to deal with. Unlike Greenpeace, the Sea Shepperd's believe in direct action/confrontation. Take a look at this trailer. You have to admit, it looks pretty badass.

But watching this group of seasoned veterans and mostly young volunteers is a little painful. They SO remind me of the kids I met down in New Orleans in the 9th ward. These were people who were driven. They were 100% dedicated. They were willing to risk life and limb for what they believe in. But they are also terribly unprepared for the task. Most of the volunteers have almost no training and as a result their very lives are at serious risk as they ply the Antarctic. Several people are injured as a result of stupid mistakes. Simple safety procedures are not followed resulting in near disaster.

They are also media whores. Which is important because they want to bring attention to their cause. They actually have two people board a Japanese ship, and then tell the press that they have been 'kidnapped'. They throw stink bombs and deploy prop fouler lines. All in the name of their cause. Which they are very dedicated to. They aren't taking pictures or writing letters. They are taking the fight to the enemy. They are brave and they are foolish and I hope they make a difference.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An attack on the President

I haven't checked the tv to see how this is playing out, but today a journalist threw his shoes at Bush.

At first this might sound simply strange. Something for the "Wacky but true" section of the newspapers. But it is far more meaningful than that. The reporter was an Iraqi, and throwing a shoe at someone is really a VERY big sign of disrespect. You have to hate someone to throw your shoes at them.

Remember when the statue of Saddam was pulled down? Go back and look at the tape of it, you'll see Iraqi man beating the head of the statue with their shoes. Now Bush is getting the same treatment.   Heckava job Bush.

Doing something like this takes balls of fucking steel. Would YOU make any kind of aggressive move toward the President of the United States? The guy who basically destroyed your country? Hell no! But this guy did.

Bush did his best to spin this as "Freedom of Speech" though I doubt the journalist in question will be heard from much again, at least in a professional sense. Sure, adults and especially journalists should show more maturity and professionalism that this. Despite everything that Bush has done over the past 8 years we still treat him with civility. Reporters still dutufully write down his words and repeat them knowing full well most of them are either empty or at worst lies. So how angry did this guy have to be to actuall lash out the way he did?

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Those who know me know that I am a great lover...of pie. I am partial to Cherry Crumb but I am by no means limited to cherry. Apple, Boston Cream, Raspberry, Rhubarb even banana cream. My taste buds are open to all and I reject nothing out of hand.

But cake? Well cake is a different matter. I love cake, make no mistake. But I am a bit finicky. I prefer yellow cake with a chocolate butter cream frosting. None of the "Double-death by chocolate with extra slabs of chocolate wedged in it" nonsense. Cakes with the density of peat moss. When such items are wheeled around on the desert tray I trun up my nose. My philosphy is simple: Keep it light and moist.


There are the so-called "Art" cakes. Cakes that aren't created to be eaten so much as to be admired for their artistic beauty. I confess to a fondness for these wonders. I admire the skill of these bakers in the same way I admire ice sculpture. The technical challenges of working in a suger or water based media are many.

But there are only so many great artists in the world. For every Keneth Branagh there is a Keanu Reeves. For every 'Gladiator' there is 'Dungeon Siege: In the name of the King'. So I present to you: Cake Wrecks. A wonderful compendium of awfullness. Enjoy.


I want to see this film. I MUST see this film. Zombie Nazi's? Squeeee!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A sad confession

I visited some friends in Michigan two weeks ago and came away shaken. Their place, despite having two big dogs, was spotless. It was organized. And while I've always been a bit of a pack rat, I wouldn't say my place is a pig sty.

But it is.

The main part of our house isn't too bad at all. Rossana keeps it pretty neat and clean. But my office? My fortress of solitude whose condition I am solely responsible for? It is, in a word, awful. So I've spent the past week cleaning up. Really cleaning. Throwing out old magazines and paperwork. Cleaning off my desk. Dusting. Filing things.

It's not sexy or exciting work. It does not involve travel to exotic lands or dangerous characters, but it was long overdue. I must admit that a few times I got distracted by looking at art or stories or ideas I was playing with 20 years ago or so. But here was planty of crap too. And it had to go. It's a process I recommend. Cathartic and yet meditative.

Then I looked around the house and I realized that we just hadn't had time during the season to do much more that keep up with the mess generated by our work/lives. Try to keep on top or it. Put stuff away, send off packages, sweep up a little. But in truth the place hadn't been thoroughly cleaned since June.

Since Rossana was having a client over for a past life regression I helped really clean up today. But after a good vacuuming the carpet still looked...unvacuumed. Being a man I new that the only answer was a tool. But I'm tired of renting the rug cleaner from the hardware store. The whole miserable process sucks. Instead, we went on the internets and did some research. In the end we bought a run cleaner at Walmart. In this craptastic economy we've tried to keen a lid on unneeded expenses. But this purchase was am absolute necessity. We called it an x-mas gift for the house.

I ran it over what appeared to be the mostly clean and freshly vacuumed living room carpet. It was not clean. Not by a long shot. The machine extracted buckets of pure evil. I was so excited by the results that I gleefully cleaned most of the carpets in the house. (I am sure the novelty of this task will soon wear off) I swear I will never go a year between carpet cleanings again. Hell maybe I'll do it once a month. You could eat off our carpet now. It's exciting, in a mundane and domestic kind of way.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hobbity Goodness

Stumbled across this by sheer chance. If I'm ever in New Zealand I'll be sure to stop by this theme motel. (Click on Hobbit theme motel on left)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Street with a View

Have you ever wanted to know exactly when the google streetview guys were coming so you could be outside in a yetti costume juggling flaming hams? Sure you have. And so did some clever monkeys in Pittsburgh who worked with google to stage a kind of 360 degree art scene.

It's pretty cool. It includes a marching band, mad scientists, an escape from a window and even two Dagorhir fighters with boffer weapons. Wow.

Go check it out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I weep for our future.

So, are you smarter than your average Elected Official? Go ahead and take this 33 question test.

The average for elected officials (which was slightly worse than the general populace) was 44 percent. Worse? Wow.

I did 77%. Post your score in the comments.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hunkering down

Winter is upon us. And while living in an underground house provides some protection against the cold, we're not completely immune to the weather. Even with a sweater is can be a little chilly here unless we crank up the heaters. But our electric bills seem to skyrocket this time of year so we're doing something about it. We've bought two insulating drapes to put over the large windows in our living room. We close them at night to keep the heat in. We've also did the old plastic insulation over the kitchen door and used weather striping to keep out drafts.

I don't know if it will help keep the bills down, but it's something. When the house was built there were no energy efficient windows to speak of. I wonder how much replacing them would cost. Probably and arm and a leg. And another leg.

And a pinky.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A clever Man

One night, 22 years ago, Leonard Bernstein showed up at Harvard in a cape and said that if 15 students and 2 bottles of Scotch were present, he would speak.

He did, and you should read it.

It will take a little time, but it's fascinating and oddly prescient.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ooooooo Shiny..

I will willingly admit that I am a trekker. Despite Voyager and even Enterprise. So when I saw these items I got excited. Wall socket plate covers. Sweet, and pretty cheap over at

Monday, November 10, 2008

The not fun part...

This was what I did the day after the election. The tiny Wellington Obama for Ohio office needed to be cleaned out and I found myself scraping this window for 2 hours on an unseasonably warm day.

It was in short, actual work. Something I try to avoid whenever I can.

It was, I suppose a kind of... allegory? A symbol of what's to come. For all the effort to get a new President, when the election is over, the REAL work begins.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Steampunk Con in California

Rossana and I flew out to San Jose to check out the Steampunk scene and see if it's a viable business avenue. We brought along Brass goggles, tshirts and some props but no corsets.

This was a first year con at a small boutique hotel. The hotel was modern, which didn't help the atmosphere but it was comfy. Our room was right on the main floor and no more than a stones throw from the dealers room. You have no idea the schlepping we normally do at a show. It was a joy to get dressed, step out our room door and sit down for breakfast, then walk a few steps and open shop. Heaven.

The con itself was well run and fairly well attended. The thing i loved was how different it felt. Lots of very different and creative costumes. The dealers room was actually interesting to walk through. The people we fun to chat with.

The big event was to have been the inaugural flight on board Americas first passenger Zeppelin in 70 years. Alas, when we arrived the weather was drizzling and the flights were canceled. It was a real bummer.

While there we ate at an Afghan restaurant and it was a delight. The food was amazing and I would encourage you to try it if the opportunity presents itself.

I greatly enjoyed the event. We made enough in sales to pay for the trip and got a lot of cool ideas. They've move the date next year so I don't know if we'll be able to make it. But with luck the East coast will come up with a steampunk con by then.

Here are some pics for you to check out.

A short moment of gloating...

A gentleman would accept the victory of Barack Obama with a quiet pride and humility.

Thankfully I am an American and am thus allowed to be an ass on occasion.

Please understand that I have never been a gloater. Never. My parents raised me well, with a respect for other peoples feelings. Gloating does not come easy to me.

But when you consider the sea of bullshit that we've had to wade through this past year, it seems only fair that a little bit of gloating be allowed. I have no wish to gloat over friends of mine who may be conservative. Most of my conservative friends fall under the 'small government/ socially liberal' heading. And that's fine.

I'm talking about gloating over the smug pundits and talking heads. The Rush Limbaughs, Karl Rove's, Sean Hannity's and Michelle Malkins. The gibbering assholes and self satisfied pricks who declared Obama simply could not win. The ones who just made shit up and went on endlessly about his lack of qualifications even while puting Sarah Palin up as VP with a straight face. The dicks who found deep connections between Obama and Willian Ayers while just skipping over the part where America gave Saddam Hussein chemical weapons technology. The ones who screamed Obama was a Socialist and a secret muslim and was unfit to hold the office because he didn't wear a fucking flag pin.

They never stopped gushing about the great war hero who was in fact a shitty Naval Academy student, a drinker, a womanizer, a gambler and a piss poor pilot who after returning from Vietnam cheated on and then dumped his wife in exhange for a rodeo beauty queen heiress.

Then he went into politics and spent the past few years kissing the ass of George Bush and towing the party line. THIS was the Republican maverick (tm) who at 72 would with an idiot sidekick save our nation? The fact that he came anywhere near the number of votes he did is a testament to how stupid a lot of Americans are.

And yet the kid who grew up raised by a single working mother and his grandmother, overcame the stigma of mixed race, studied hard, advanced himself, went to Harvard on scholarships, led the Law Review and rather than going into private practice worked in the poor communities until running for the Senate. THIS guy was the goddamned anti-christ!

I've read some stories recently that indicate Palin might have been even dumber (or at least less prepared) than stated by the kool aid drinking advisers stated she was. If you read through the comments threads you will often see this:

"It's over now, why don't we just move on?"

No. We do not just fucking move on. That's the kind of stupid thinking that keeps us from learning from our mistakes. Sure we'd feel better just to not think about the past eight years of bullshit, but we wouldn't learn anything. Remember the saying "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Yeah. That's why I am all to happy to continue disecting the rotting corpse of the Bush administration.

And I suppose that's why I feel okay doing a little gloating. Not a lot. There's actually work to be done. But a little.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Brisk baby...

As seven pm rolled around yesterday I started to feel that familiar knot in my stomach. I'd felt it four years ago too. It was much worse then, when I stayed up till 4 am watching the election results, feeling literally sick. Things were looking better yesterday, but that knot of anxiety was unavoidable.

Rossana and I finished another day of canvasing for our little hometown Obama office. The first day the power steering cut out on the minivan making the experience a lot like wrestling a schooner in rough seas. Yesterday was much easier. Drove out to Lagrange twice to deliver voter information. Then we went home.

By seven thirty I had to do something other than stare at the online election tickers. I went out to the shop and started cleaning up. They I started organizing paint cans. I checked the clock. 10pm. Things should be happening. But when I came inside I forgot that the shop clock wasn't yet adjusted for daylight savings yet. It was only nine.


Watched some non-election tv and had some pie. When Ohio went for Obama I called my brother in Texas.

"We didn't fuck it up this year!" I yelled to hoots on the other end, then tuned in to the Daily Show special, occasionally flipping back to CNN.

Then, in a flash, it was over. John Stewart called for Obama. Rossana looked stunned, I suppose I was too. I flipped over to CNN just to make sure it wasn't a joke.

It wasn't.

It was then that I began to take off my clothes. When I got to my socks my wife raised her eyebrows. "What are you doing?"

"I promised that if Obama won I'd run a victory lap around the pond naked" I grabed a flashlight and put my shoes on.

"You did?"


"It's pretty cold out there." she remarked.

"I am sure I will be quite aware of that very shortly."

"Don't bother the deer".

And off I went.

We did it.

Ohio did not f#ck it up this time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Facial Experiment

A few weeks ago I decided to try a new look. With the upcoming Steampunk Convention I wanted to try a more old style beard. So for the first time in god knows how long I shaved part of my chin.

The results weren't bad, but I didn't like the overall effect. But before I started to grow it all back I took a few pics for posterity. What do you think?

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Looking at the source...

It's been interesting to hear McCain and Palin go after Obama for his 'association' with Bill Ayers. There seems to be a constant back and forth about how much Obama associated with  "terrorist" Ayers.

The answer seems to be that he had very little to do with Ayers. Not that this fact will stop the more excitable members of the conservative base from frothing about the 'sekrit muzlim and his terrist buddies'.

But who is Bill Ayers? It's off to wikipedia! Go there now and learn.

While the accuracy and neutrality of wikipedia  is sometimes called into question I learned a lot about this fascinating man that I didn't previously know (and that isn't even mentioned in the media).

What  strikes me is that Ayers has always had, and still has a strong drive to provide quality education. He is a teacher. In the 60's he was motivated by his conscience to  do something about the Vietnam War. Part of that action was planting bombs.  His girlfriend was killed in a bomb making accident.  He considered himself a "little c communist" but insisted that he wasn't a terrorist: 

. "The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States."

I'm not sure I would give him a total pass on the terrorism charge. Bombs cause fear, even when they don't specifically target people directly. The IRA would plant bombs and then call the police so they could clear and area, but they are generally agreed to be a terrorist group.  What Ayers did was take his struggle to stop an illegal, unjust and brutal war too far. He did some stupid shit.  Pundits and spinmiesters today are 'quoting' Ayers saying "wishes he could have bombed more" though it seems pretty clear that what he actually said was that 'we' (meaning all Americans) could have done more to try and stop the Vietnam War. 

Like many people in the world Ayers has contrasting elements. He is not a caricature. I urge you to do a little reading on the matter. As always there are layers. Things are not quite black and white. 

What seems pretty clear is that Obama is no protege' of Ayers. They aren't pals. They share no political agenda. But if we're going to start judging people by the company they keep, I would look at the people a certain 72 year old politician pals around with; starting with a guy who lied to get the war he wanted, allowed prisoners to be tortured in secret prisons, engaged in warrantless wiretaps, attempted to suspend habeus corpus,  presided over the biggest increase in government and the worst financial disaster on the past 70 years. 

THAT'S the kind of guy you should be distancing yourself from. Too bad he was your president.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A bit of fun...

My mum just emailed this to me. Enjoy.

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote, mountainous pasture in Montana when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a cloud of dust towards him.
The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and a YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, 'If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?'

Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Sure, why not?'

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Singular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location, which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.

Within seconds, he receives an e-mail on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with e-mail on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP Laser Jet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.'
'That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says Bud.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amusedly as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then Bud says to the young man, 'Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'

'You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government,' says Bud.

'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'

'No guessing required,' answered the cowboy. 'You showed up here, even though nobody called you. You want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. Then you tried to show me how much smarter you are than me. And you don't know a darn thing about cows...this is a herd of sheep.

'Now give me back my dog.'

They eat their own...

If you've never heard of the late William F. Buckley you should poke around the internets or youtube to see examples of the mans writing and style. He was a noted conservative and if there's one thing you can say about the man it's that he was intelligent, very well spoken and had a great style. He had a rapier wit. I am not a devotee of his, nor do I think I would agree with him on many points but you have to admit its sometimes fun to see him work. Listen to him and you realize that todays talking heads and GOP surrogates are like a pack of howler monkeys.

His son Christopher, who also has a great deal of style, hell the man wears a fedora, has written a column for the National Review (a conservative magazine founded by his father) for some time but when he stated on his personal blog that he was going to vote for Obama his 'friends' turned on him like school of pihranna. Apparently his views were much sought after, until he made a choice that went against conservative dogma. He offered his resignation, which was quickly accepted. Quoting Ronal Reagan he said "I didn't leave the Republican party, it left me."

The last few weeks have seen lots of Republicans trying to distance themselves from McCain ( or rather George Bush). I don't blame them. Their party is being shot in the foot over and over by McCain. The biggest wound being the choice of Sarah Palin. Many undecided and a number of moderate Republicans are going over to Obama.

This is leaving an increasingly vocal and slightly unhinged group of die hards. The people who still insist the GWB is doing a heckava job. These people just cannot admin that their party and their president could be wrong. EVER.

Me? I've learned that it's wise to know when you are wrong. To be able to admint a mistake and to learn from it. These people? Not so much.

How do you say Trekker in German?

Found this neat video on youtube of a german Sci-Fi convention. I am impressed. Awesome costumes, lots of energy and lots of Jaggermeister. 

I don;t know if this is a typical con over there, but it looks like a lot of fun.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's time...

After sitting back and watching as little men from little parties bark at each other I have decided that I cannot STAND anymore.

Therefore I have decided to throw my hat into the political arena. And by hat I mean a grenade.

President? BAH!! Steven Pack does not want your puny presidency! Steve Pack will be your


Think I'm mad?? Possibly. But click the link above to see how I am already spreading my message.

Things will be different under my all powerful administration. Very different.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Big One

You may remember there was a bit of a kerfuffle about warrantless wiretapping a while back. Essentially, the government said that they needed to be able to intercept terrorist communications and to do that they needed the help of the phone companies. The phone companies agreed, without FISA court approval and eventually Congress gave them immunity for this breach of the law and public trust.


But it was all okay, because we weren't really monitoring all those phone calls. We weren't listening in to people private communications. We were going to look at the HUGE number of calls made to and from the US from "Bad Guy" countries and once we had SOMETHING we would listen in. 

This, strange as it seems, makes a kind of sense. Filter the raw data. Apply some logic to it. And you might just get lucky and track down the bad guys. And George Bush could have actually pushed this through with America firmly behind it if had been A) Smart and B) Honest.  But he isn't and he wasn't. Like everything else he did he tried to cover it up with lies and BS. 

And there's the fact that unchecked surveilance powers is ALWAYS abused. Period. It doesn't matter what the law says or what your mandate or mission profile states. If you give people the power to listen into phone calls, they will. And they did

Now the denials begin. And again, some low-level NSA flunkies will get the axe. No one at the top had ANY IDEA this was being done. "We follow the law". Which we've heard before, haven't we?

Supposedly the program did help prevent some IED attacks, which is what it was supposed to do. But how much time was wasted listening to phone sex and monitoring Red Cross workers? I wonder how much dirt was collected on various political and military leaders? 

If you're not furious, you're not paying attention.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fear not citizen!

Remember, if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. Sure we placed 53 peaceful anti-death and anti-war protestors on a TERRORIST WATCH LIST, but that doesn't mean we did anything wrong, does it?

My head - It hurts

I used to think that John McCain was just not the right person for the job of President. A lot of pundits seem to agree that he isn't the principled reformer that he once was when he ran for the job last time.

But then I read the Rolling Stone story about him and now I just think he's another incompetent asshole who has somehow failed UP over and over again. Like Bush, but actually worse in some ways.

How can this be??? How do we allow such mediocrity rise to positions of power and authority?  Why are we even considering this man for the Presidency?

I will grant that there are two sides to any story. You can look at a mans actions and see them in different ways. At one point the article takes McCain to task for some of his actions while a POW. I will not pass judgement on a person who is being tortured and just wants the torture to stop. 

But in every other aspect of his life McCain showed himself to be a self-centered asshole. No dicipline, no aptetude, no real skills, always in the shadow of his father. A womaniser, a drinker, a gambler and a lousy pilot. I'll go easy on a guy for drinking and gambling to a degree if he has something else going for him, some skill or ability, but McCain doesn't. He cheated on and then dumped his wife after he got back from Vietnam (she wasn't pretty anymore after a bad car accident). He married a rodeo princes heiress (Hey, she was pretty and loaded) and then continued to be an asshole. It's like the experience of being a POW had zero effect of his bad habits. 

And then he went into politics.

Now you could say that this view of McCain is tainted by the people telling the stories about him but time after time McCain HIMSELF talks about what a douche he was/is. His own biography contains accounts of his ineptitude, failings and lack of qualifications. This guy graduated 4th from the bottom of his class. Any advancement he got was as a result of strings being pulled by his father. This is a fact and not a smear or conjecture.

This guy wasn't good enough to be a pilot, let alone a top gun. Any other person with his record would have been washed out. And yet people, even his opponents are careful to NEVER treat him with disrespect. He is a hero. A valiant warrior. His experiences make him qualified to lead the nation is wars. Really? How?

If you were, say Colin Powell, that might be true. Or even Norman Schwarzkopf.

But how does being a bad pilot who crashed three planes before getting shot down make you a great military leader?

Being a POW might make you think twice about mistreating prisoners, but he's compromised on that point so what else has he got? 

I'm sorry. I've gone beyond disagreeing with his policies. Now I just don't like this man. Every day the market drops I recall that he was one of the Keating Five. He's a rich fuck who hobnobbed with other rich fucks for the purpose of making those rich fucks richer by creating financial houses of cards. Awesome. 

How is this man the shining example of 'Family Values' to the socially conservative set? Why is praise heaped upon him?  In the last decade he may have worked on some good legislation. So did a lot of other Senators. It's their job. But in that he's also been a failure. He has one of the lowest attendance record of ANY Senator.

I will concede that Obama has a short track record. But that's better than a long BAD record. Obama being a christian has be concerned. McCain strikes me as not giving much of a crap about god except when it gets him votes. But Palin? She's a believer, and what's worse, she's a stupid believer. She drinks all the cool-aid. 

I've already talked about how he is officially old and a cancer survivor. 

I'm just so sick of the stupid. Can we just try doing it different? Can we try using smart people in Government? They might fail. They might fail badly. It's not like Obama is inheriting a prosperous and peaceful country. He might not be able to fix what has become so badly broken. 

But I'm willing to give him a chance.   How about you?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hollywood comes to the Ren Faire

Below are a couple of pics of filming at the Michigan Faire. It's been a pretty big thing there. Lots of the local playtrons signed up to be extras. They did a lot of background shots around the fair including one at my friend Alex's & Elizabeths booth. I happened to be visiting when a second unit rolled up with a camera and filmed us "Opening" the shop and "Closing" the shot like we would at the begining and end of the day. Although I don't work at their shop I quickly put on one of their hats and took the part of 'Mike Schumacher, a long time rennie with a drinking problem and a heart of gold, a traveling hat salesman who calls no place his home and who has left a string of broken hearts behind him on the open road.'

Actually I just moved some hats and will likely end up with a lot of other 'B-roll' shots on the cutting room floor.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dead man walkin'

I'm going to vote for Obama. There are a number of reasons for this and it's possible that you might disagree with them. That's cool.

That leaves McCain or any independent candidate you care to throw away your vote on in some kind of 'protest'.

You might like his policies, or maybe you just dislike him less than Obama. Fine.

But there's very good reason you may want to reconsider that vote for McCain. And it unfortunately has to do with him being a 71 year old cancer survivor. I suppose I am in fact being ageist. I don't want to be. I personally want to be VERY active and mentally sharp when I am Mr. McCains age and beyond. And it appears that John McCain is fairly sharp most of the time.

But most of the time is not what I want from a 72 year old President. I don't want his health to be 'passable'. If you are 71 and are running for president you better be sharp as a tack and able to go up stairs without getting winded. I would prefer it if you can wrestle a bear and recite the Treaty of Tripoli (google it) but I'll take moderately good shape.

A few days ago during the debate I noticed McCain exhibiting a minor facial tick during the debate. It didn't seem too serious but I wondered about it, especially after the many small mistakes he's made in interviews and seeming contradictions from things he's said only a few days earlier. A lot of the liberal blogs rail about him being a 71 year old cancer survivor, but that cancer was melanoma. A skin cancer. He's had several lesions removed, only the last was of any concern. I felt that perhaps they were being a bit alarmist about his health.

But the fact is that McCain only let a handful of reporters LOOK at his 1200 page medical report. They weren't allowed to make copies or take notes.

And then I learned that melonoma is one of the really fucking serious cancers. It can spread almost anywhere in the body and do it agressively. And unlike breast cancer, where the chance of recourance goes down ofter x years, the chances for recourance with melonoma increase.

Several doctors are commenting over at Americablog about this and other things they have seen recently and while a video diagnosis cannot yield any concrete evidence these doctors are VERY concerned and would advise ANY patient they saw exhibiting these symptoms to get to a hospital for a full work up including CT scan for a possible mini-stroke.

I wouldn't fly on an airplane with a pilot 10 years post melanoma who had not been followed/staged/ examined because he might seize and the FAA wouldn't let him fly as far as I know.

Would you?

I am actually concerned now for this guys health. Let's set aside that fact that Sarah Palin is in NO WAY qualified to be President. That's another issue. If McCain gets into the White House he will have access to the best doctors anywhere. But the fact is there is still no CURE for cancer, and treatment is painful and debilitating.

I'm voting for the 47 year old.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I like em big...

So the're a GIANT BALLISTA for sale on ebay

I could link to the story about how this was built for the discovery chanel for education blah blah baaaaaah. I think what we need to do is focus on the fact that there is a

Yes, it's in England.
Yes, it's 'As is' and will need alittle work.
Yes it's $35,000

But ASIDE from all that its the perfect gift.
For me.

Update: Oh look, here's a wee little one for only $10,00 here in the US.

I'm off to check my couch cushions  for change.

p.s. Make sure you check out the questions to buyer section on the UK site. Hilarious.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What the...?

On a completely different note, SPACEBALLS was quite possibly the worst goddamn movie ever. I have a highly developed sense of humor. I find mirth in both high and low forms of comedy. I appreciate the folksy wit of A Prarie Home Companion AND a good hit to the groin  (someone else's groin of course).

So when I say SPACEBALLS was the biggest turd of a movie I have ever seen I am not exagurating. Rossana walked out of it. I wanted those 90 minutes of life back with interrest. 

So what does Hollywood do? They make an animated series out of it. 

Wow. It just boggles the mind. I watched the trailer, just in case it had some kind of redeaming quality. But no. It's still a turd. An animated turd. I won't even link to it. 

Really Hollywood, this is the best you can do? I hate you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We're okay (and hope you are too)

This was by far the crappiest weekend by far.

I drove up to Michigan on Friday. Rain. Saturday? Tons of rain. The Michigan Ren site quickly flooded. Why? Because instead of using rock or pea gravel or ANYTHING sensible they use MULCH to somehow fix the flooding. It's a running joke there. It's like "More cowbell". They just keep dropping more mulch. And what does mulch do? It helps retain moisture for garden plants. It is NOT designed to effectively move water.

As a result the ground becomes a soggy mess. It always does when it rains but this was the worst time by far. The drains get clogged with mulch. Streets become almost impassable and everyone is miserable.

The rain was apparently part of the hurricane Ike weather system. And while Sunday dawned with no rain, the remanants of IKE itself were moving East from Chicago. I could see it moving in on my phone, a solid wall of smite.

And yet we stayed open. There were only about 1000 people through the gate, everybody else had some common sense. Then the rain started. And it just kept getting heavier. Our booth isn't one of the highest point of the show, but we do sit on a slight rise which keeps us from flooding, but an hour into the rain the water was running up to the edge of our booth on one side. Merchants were digging drainage trenches and creating impromptu levies. When I went out to grab some food, the kid behind the counter was standing in about 4 inches of water. That seems safe as all hell.

At 3pm or so they finally closed the show. I packed up and went to my car, which was parked on high ground. But it didn't matter where you parked, everything was super saturated. Every inch of ground. I helped push 5 cars out of the mud. I don't want to sound mean, but some of these people just don't know how to drive in mud. They would just gun the engine and dig thenselves into a hole, shoving mud under their car and into their wheel wells. By the time I got to my car I was soaked and encrusted with mud. The Honda performed very well and I got out of the lot without getting stuck. Many others weren't so lucky. There were three tow trucks on site and I wonder if the festival was covering the costs of helping people out. I doubt it. I went to the campground and changed into some dry clothes and basically passed out for a while. But the rains increased and so did the winds. I didn't want to risk being in a tent if some tree gave way so I headed for home.

And I was the LUCKY one.

On sunday 40-60 mph winds hit the Ohio show. It took out trees on the site, knocked over porta johns and actually tore the front of a booth off. Then the power went out. They waited almost an hour to decide to close the show. I got a call with this news and recommended they stay put, but its was pretty miserable there and they wanted to go home. Lindsey and Jesse went to Columbus for dinner and Rossana went straight toward home. But power was out all along I-71 and she discovered well into the trip she almost out of gas. Several phone calls back and forth. I reached Lindsey and made sure she had gas. I told her she might have to get a gas can and bring fuel to Rossana, but then I couldn't reach Rossana and I didn't know where she was on I-71. Then a message, she was forging ahead. Then I couldn't reach her phone at all. Cell phone communication was pretty useless and only added to my stress level. Rossana pressed on and made it to a gas station on fumes.

Friends on site say our booths are still standing but were put under a lot of stress. We need to go out and check them out and make some repairs. One Rennie camper and car was crushed by a tree, killing their dog.

I guess all the rain went North and all the wind were South. In any case it sucked donkey balls all around. Bag End is okay. Some damage to trees and a lot of debris but nothing serious. I hope everybody out there is okay and safe. I grabbed two pics and a little vid.

Here's a short vid. There's a red brick path next to our booth that makes it passable, everyplace else on site is mulch over a foot deep.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Immature but gratifying...

On my way to the Michigan show last weekend I was re-routed by road construction. It's a minor aggravation but what can you do but grumble and move on.

As I cruised along at a sluggish (for Michigan) 80 mph into Detroit I noticed a few motorcycle cops.

Hmmmm. 'Must be an accident somewhere, I hope rubberneckers don't slow everything to a crawl.'

Then I saw two more, then a highway patrol car. Then another. What gives? Then I noticed that there were NO cars on the other side of the road. I looked up ahead and saw a LOT of flashing lights approaching.

And then it hit me. McCain was doing a campaign stop in Detroit. This MUST be his motorcade.

Well, it's unlikely that I'll ever meet the man. I'd love to debate policy, both foreign and domestic for hours on end, but I only had a few moments to think of how to communicate my position vis a vis his party and politics.

So I did what came naturally to any Ugly American. I pulled into the left lane, rolled down my window, leaned on the horn and gave the entire motorcade the finger.

I understand that this was childish. It was a base and low form of expression. But I don't care. It felt good. I was speaking truth to power, as the expression goes. And it's just possible that Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin were looking out the window of the "Straight Talk Express(tm)" at that moment, marveling at the post-apocalyptic grandeur that is West Detroit, and there I was.

Giving them the Finger.

Of course, the finger is a bit like a sawed off shotgun. I'm sure it hit some of the cops, the Secret Service guys and of course some of the media. I'm sorry about that. They didn't deserve it. Well, maybe some of the press guys, who haven't been able to ask Palin one damn thing so far and seem content to just go with it. But I'm sure they knew that my outburst wasn't meant for them.

I went on my merry way with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Monday, September 08, 2008

City of Ember

Every one in a while I hear about a film that is waaaaay below the Radar. Sometimes its a small foreign film or something the studios won't promote like "The Fall".  

I just saw the trailer for City of Ember and I like what I see so far:

Extra Awesome

These guys have some shirts that I have truly fallen in love with. Wearscience!

Friday, September 05, 2008

We am smart...or IS we???

So I lost my wallet at GenCOn, and by 'lost' I mean it was swept up in my wife's corset. We found it later, but not before tearing apart the hotel room and cancelling several credit cards. Fun.

So what happens to my friend Griffin at DragonCon? He looses his wallet. I got a text message from Lindsey informing me of this. I suggested she check her corset for it. She replied that, as she was working for Griffin, she wasn't wearing a corset (gasp!). I suggested she check Griffins corset.

Ha ha, funny joke.

So where did his wallet turn up? In the wash. In his Utilikilt. The one he was wearing when he lost it.  Alas, he'd done the whole 'Cancel my life' thing already. Bummer.  At least he got his wallet back.

 It's been a strange season so far. Just wierd all around. Ohio Ren is like a fortress. I.D. and parking pass inspections, drug dogs (I am not joking) Parker gone... 

At Michigan I have seen three other shops carrying busked corsets. None of them are really very good, but I feel like everybody is just looking to get a piece of me there. 

Following the news is making me physically jittery. I have to stop reading the blogs. If McCain wins I will have honestly lost my faith in my fellow countryman to know the difference between a smart and dumb. I saw Guliani openly mock Obama for being a community organizer. WTF? You know what? Martin Luthor King was a community organizer you smug fuck. It's one of the hardest, most thankless and worst paying (if at all ) jobs in our country. Thanks for shitting on them.

i gotta get some sleep now..

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Very cool...The Beatles

On my last drive up to the Michigan Ren I listened to NPR's All Songs Considered podcast which had an interview with the son of legendary Beatles manager George Martin. He and his father had been contacted to do a score for a Cirque du Soleil show called 'Love'.

The project involved remixing a number of classic Beatles tunes and results were so cool I bought the CD on Amazon. (It's not available on iTunes yet) I must admit, I like what they've done. A lot of new and rich textures are brought out. Through subtle changes and segues I heard things I had never heard before. No new shitty vocals by Madonna or that type of nonsense. No new instrumentals or techno backbeatsd. It's all the Beatles. And it's good.

Is it just me or has the world gone mad?

John McCain just chose Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, to be his VP running mate.

I did a wikipedia search and while she seems to be a decent person and a good governor so far, I don't think she is really the person for the job. Do you? About 3 months ago I opined to my wife that the perfect running mate for McCain was Condalezza Rice. She is smart, has a crapload of experience. She is Black AND a woman. While I hate the moron she works for, she doesn't seem to be innept at her job. And with Hillary out of the race, it would present a real chance to reach out to minorities and women. It would be a bold, gutsy move.

But the Republicans just couldn't do it. They couldn't push their party THAT far. A woman VP? Maybe. A Black VP? Hmmmm. But a Black woman VP? Oh Hell no.

So with all the other qualified women to choose from, why did they choose a woman who he met once for 15 min? Why did he choose someone with SO LITTLE experience? Sure, there have been other VP's who didn't have a massive amount of experience, but Palin's resume is almost empty.

Check out the last few VP's experience:

Dick Cheney: US Rep '79; Sec of Defense under Bush I
Al Gore: US Rep '77; US Senate '85
Dan Quayle: US Rep '77; US Senate '81
George HW Bush: US Rep '67; Ambassador to the UN '71; chairman of RNC; envoy to China; director of CIA
Walter Mondale: organized HHH's US Senate campaign in '48; US Senate, '65
Nelson Rockefeller: Gov of NY... for nearly 15 years

So what is the defence of this action? What is the comeback? Well, Obama has no real experience and he's running for the Big Chair.

Ok, lets compare the life experience of the two (via a comment at

- Studied at Occidental College, Los Angeles.
- Graduate of Columbia (B.A., Political Science exp International Relations)
- Graduate Harvard Law School (J.D., magna cum laude).
- President, Harvard Law Review.
- Professor, Constitutional Law, University of Chicago Law School.

- One semester at Hawaii Pacific College
- Graduate, BS in "Communications/Journalism" at University of Idaho. (One of those degrees for people who can't handle math, science, law, physics, medicine or computers).

Well, I'd say they're about even in education, wouldn't you?

Another important measure of experience is LEADERSHIP.

- Director, Developing Communities Project, Chicago, 1985-88. (Huge success story).
- This success led to: Consultant, Gamaliel Foundation.
- Editor, Harvard Law Review.
- Director, Project Vote.
- Professor, Constitutional Law, University of Chicago Law School.
- Member, Board of Directors, Woods Fund, Chicago.
- Member, Board of Directors, Joyce Foundation.
- Member, Board of Directors, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Member, Board of Directors, Center for Neighborhood Technology
- Member, Board of Directors, Lugenia Burns Hope Center
- Senator, Illinois State Senate (3 terms)
- Chairman, Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee
- Senator, United States Senate
- Candidate, US President

- Sports Reporter, KTUU Anchorage
- Member, Alaska Independence Party
- Councilmember, Wasilla Alaska
- Mayor, Wasilla City
- Governor, Alaska (~18 mos)

Oh, yeah. It's a dead heat in LEADERSHIP.

Finally, there's LIFE EXPERIENCE. It's hard to define and pin down. But a person's life experience is often a good indicator of their worldliness and sagacity. Let's compare!

Born of mixed race parentage, son of a black Kenyan and a white Kansan. Endured parents' divorce, the family moved to Jakarta when he was 6. Moved to Hawaii to live with grandparents when he was 10. Excelled in school and experimented with soft drugs and alcohol. Became a reasonably talented basketball player. Moved to LA for college. Good grades got him to Columbia and Harvard. Traveled to Europe, Africa and Asia. Has now traveled extensively around the world. Married Michelle Robinson 1992. Two kids, girls. Authored two bestselling books, "Dreams of my Father" and "Audacity of Hope". Though not raised in a religious home, became an observant Christian. Has spoken about race relations and his personal experiences with eloquence and forthrightness.

Born in Sandpoint Idaho to white-bread middle-American parents. Moved to Alaska when an infant. Grew up in a religious Pentecostal household and remained observant. Went moose hunting with her father. A reasonably talented basketball player, she was known as "Barracuda" and led prayers before games. Won Miss Wasilla beauty pageant and placed second for Miss Alaska. Eloped with husband Todd Palin at 24. The couple have 5 kids, one of them an infant. In 2007, had her first ever trip overseas to visit Alaska National Guard troops in Kuwait and Germany. Claims to have visited Canada once. Has run a marathon and has a pilot's license.

This is the person who is a 72 year old heartbeat away from the presidency? Now, the President has a lot of people who help make the show run. There are layers and layers of agencies and experts that advise and prevent the POTUS from doing stupid and rash things. But that didn't stop Bush now, did it?

But if anyone tries to bring up the fact that Palin isn't the person for the job, fingers are pointed and cries of "Sexist!" arise. 'It's insulting to women!'.


It doesn't matter that she's a woman at all with regard to her lack of experience.

Then there's the personal stuff. Obama won't go after it. But I'm not Obama, or anyone official. I'm just some guy with a blog. (aka 'An asshole with an opinion').

Palin gave birth 4 months ago to a child with Down Syndrome. That's a huge responsibility above and beyond the standard baby thing. Even with Dad helping out, how much time does the VP job give you to address the needs of such a child? Running the country is the most stressfull job around. It takes a lot of life out of those who hold the job. Look at Both Bush and Clinton before and after this job. They eat right, exercise and have the best healthcare of any American and the job still sucks out a lot of life.

Her 17 year old daughter is 5 months pregnant. She now has to pretend to be thrilled with this situation. Very few parents are thrilled to learn their 17 year old is pregnant. If only her kid had been given some better information, maybe access to contraception. But condoms are bad, aren't they? And waiting till marriage to have sex works so well, except when it doesn't. Luckily her parents have enough money to help their daughter out. Others might not be so lucky since she slashed funding for a transition house for teen mothers. Their family unit seems strong. Cool. Of course, if her daughter had been raped or the victim of incest or just not ready to be a parent Mrs. Palin believes she shouldn't have the right to get an abortion.

Yes, these things happen. Even to conservative, Christian families. Actually it happens to them more often. The difference here is that they feel they need to tell me about how they are the ones with 'values'. They are more 'moral'. Gays? They shouldn't get the right to marry. But I better not point out the hypocrisy of their unwed pregnant daughter. Their daughter will apparently 'do the right thing and get married". But what if that isn't the right thing? I know I wasn't ready to be a parent at 18. I can only imagine the pressure they are putting on the kid who fathered this child. Does that seem like the 'right thing?'.

These people believe they should be allowed to set government policy based on their 'family values' and their creepy holy book.

I know, Obama is a faithhead too. I support him despite his religion, not because of it.

I'm having a hard time believing the McCain team is this stupid. It's an obvious attempt to grab some disaffected Clinton supporters. They'll be sure to ignore Palins pro-life stance just to get a woman into the White House. They'll ignore her lack of experience completely. They'll ignore the fact that McCain wants to overturn Roe v Wade, put their sons and daughters through a few more wars and another trillion of debt.

Or they won't. Broads are funny that way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That's a tough one...

The McCain camp is seriously asking Americans to answer the question "Are you better off now than 8 years ago?".

If I had the political hack who came up with that question in front of me, I'd punch him in the throat. What the hell kind of question is that? It's a bullshit one is what it is. I heard this one the other day and I stopped to actually consider it, and for a monet, I was suprised at the answer.

For myself, I might have to say "Yes, my life is better in some ways than 8 years ago".

  • I have a home.
  • I own my own business and it is profitable.
  • I own a vehicle that isn't at constant risk of falling apart.
By those criteria, I should be happy to vote for McCain. Because my life is better now, isn't it? Of course, none of those things came to me as a result of George Bush's policies. If I am better off in some ways today it's because of hard work, perseverance, a great wife and a crapload of luck. And my business? I can only imagine how much better I'd be doing if the economy wasn't in the shitter. Seriously. I don't sell food or medicine, I sell a luxury item. You don't need my product to live, like say, gasoline. The question being asked completely ignores that fact that people struggle and work hard to better themselves and their lives. It ignores things that have nothing to do with who is president. It is a complete bullshit question.

And yet they get away with asking it. Look how the question is crafted. "Are YOU better off?".
It's almost clever. And it might work on some people. Dumb people, sure, but it might work. Joe Blow might just look at his life and say 'Hey, I have a wife and a kid now, I got a promotion and we live in a nice new house. Things ARE better for me now. I should vote to keep the status quo!".

The tactic might have worked if things weren't so monumentally fucked up now. Because even though I and others might be doing okay, most Americans aren't. I haven't had my job shipped overseas. I don't have a kid fighting in a pointless war. I can still afford gas and food. Does that mean my overall life is better?

But I can't really ask "Could my life be significantly better if someone else had been President for 8 years?" That's just wild speculation, isn't it? But if I may, hell yes I think my life would be much better, and so would the lives of many other people. Yes, it's hypothetical, but I don't think I'd lose much money of that bet.

The real question to ask (and the one the Republicans sure as hell aren't asking) is:

"Do you think the country is better off than 8 years ago?" I bet I know the answer to that question.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Some friend of a guy who does the Shortpacked comic strip got married and I have to admit, it's a pretty sweet looking invite.

Tough to top? Sure. But very geeky. Apparently the wedding was costume mandatory. My kind of people.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To sleep, perchance to dream...

It's over, the month from Hell. Great Lakes, to Pennsic, to Great Lakes for teardown, home for 1 day and then off to Indianapolis for a week. Very tired.

This was a roller coaster ride. Pennsic was great, but it was camping for two weeks and for the first time, it was work. Sure, helping run Hell Nite and other events was like work, but my livelihood didn't depend on it. When we got back to Great lakes it rained the last weekend. And when we packed up? There just wasn't enough room for everything to go home. We have to go pick some of it up tomorrow.

We dropped off stock to Michigan Ren without incident, but we arrived at GenCon with a LOT of stuff supposedly "in the mail" to us. Most of it arrived. Then, my wallet went missing. We tore apart the room, which was the ONLY place it could be before I reluctantly called the credit card companies and bank to report the loss. It then proceeded to turn up 12 hours later in my wife's corset. When we got back home I learned that my bank did'nt cancel the most important check card. Swell job guys.

GenCon was a big hit sales-wise. We carried the new brass goggles, some steampunk airship academy t-shirts I designed, and some nifty gothic clothing from a company called Eternal Love. In fact, things went so well we were literally tripping over each other in our cramped space. I have bit the bullet and decided that next year we will get a double space. It's a big expense, but I think it will help us get seen.

Michigan did outstanding its opening day, and then went into the toilet the second. Weird.

And then there's the big news. Great Lakes is being shifted back one week next year. This means it will overlap the opening of Michigan AND GenCon. This is being done because the owner of Great Lakes isn't making much money on the 4th of July weekend. People are off doing family things. So he's decided to screw EVERYONE. There was no warning about this. Rossana only noticed it because she actually reads contracts and other documents. I am furious. I've been with this show for over 12 years but I am willing to just walk away if they do this. Screw them. My only major headache is that I JUST bought a fucking booth that I spend a good chunk of time cleaning up and painting. I think I can sell it but it would have been better if I had started that process during the season for exposure.

Pennsic could easily replace Great Lakes and I'd get 4 weeks of my life back. I don't want to give up Great Lakes, but I simply will NOT take their bullshit. It would be damn near impossible to have decent stock and staff for three events.


I'm glad to be home. I spent a few hours trying to put away all my tools and clean up my shop a little. Everything is a mess. My office, the garage, my shop even the yard still has traces of the party left over here and there.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Pennsic is in full swing now after a slow start. Sales are starting to
pick up and the weather today was awesome. So why am I worried? About
50 corsets are missing in transit from California. Also, some my
fabric sources have dried up this year.(thanks china)

Rossana and Lindsey are back in Ohio for the weekend leaving me
unsupervised. This means that I am free to stay in the booth for 11
hours or so, head back to camp, drink a glass of mead, and pass out.

I am a party animal.

Friday, July 25, 2008


If you've ever worked in print or graphic arts, this may be the funniest thing you will see all month. And if you haven' uh...won't

Thursday, July 24, 2008

At the starting gate...

Tomorrow is thew last day we'll be home for a while. After tomorrow we leave the cats in the care of our sitters and head off to work Great Lakes AND Pennsic. I am apprehensive about doing Pennsic as a merchant. In the 20+ years I have been going it has always been my vacation. I started going when I was 16. I've never missed one. Eventually working in medieval clothing became by job and I still went. Due to overlapping schedules the last few years I have had to leave Pennsic to go and do a Ren Faire. And now? I leave a show, to go do a 2 week show. When I get back from that I'll run up to Michigan to drop off stuff for a show and then go do a show.


We did this last year and it somehow all worked out. Except that last year Pennsic was still my vacation.

I'm feeling bad because I won't be able to hang out in my home camp of Pentwyvern as much. It's changed a lot over the years, but I still consider it home. It is an old and comfortable pair of shoes. But working the show means I can't help as much with set up or other camp activities.

On the other hand I helped build our camps shower trailer, ran a chair making day at the house, helped design and build our awesome siege tower and helped create and run Hell Nite, our massive and very fun camp party.

I should feel fine about taking time off from camp stuff. But I don't. Then there's the fact that Pennsic last year was BRUTALLY hot. We are still in a war and the economy is in the shitter. I hear rumors about a 17% drop in attendance. Gas is $4 a gallon. People are stuggling just to get to the event. Will they buy?

Deep breath.

On the up side, I will still be at Pennsic. This is where my friends are. It is still one of the coolest events around, and I have attended my fair share of events now. If you're at war and have a few minutes, feel free to stop by ther booth. I promise I won't try to sell you anything. (Although I can't promise you won't buy anything).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Freakin' EPIC

I learned to day that the following piece of AWESOME weaponry is now available. What could make this thing more cool? Putting it to use in an all out office war. This is one of the few things we didn't do back when I was working for 'the man', but I wish we had.

Have a look.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I'm voting for THIS GUY

No, not that one...

This guy.

And I'm not really voting for him, I'm sending him $10. But if if I could vote for him, I would.

A little of thisa... a little of thata

Not a whole lot to report at the moment. I downloaded the new iphone 2.0 firmware and some apps. My iphone is now more useful. Not as useful as my brothers NEW 3G iphone, but useful. I'll just have to live with my limitations.

The big purchase was a new laptop. I have agonized over this for about a year ever since my Sotec's dvd drive died. Boot times were around 8 minutes. It was old, it was slow, but it was light. The new hotness? A Gateway. It's very fast. But it's got Vista. There are really very few things I see as an improvement with Vista. Really. It's kind of pretty, but it's also a bit awkward usability wise. I'll keep it around and try to figure it out.

It's got good battery life. I watched a movie that I rented from a very cool machine called Red Box at the Geneva grocery store. The cool things? Only $1 a night and it's basically a robot. I rented Batman: Gotham Knight and was a little underwhelmed with the movie.

The Great Lakes Faire enters its third weekend and we're looking at rain again. Joy. Then I have a week to prep for Pennsic. Will I be ready? Unlikely.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Geeks at Home

I present to you a collection of geeks, fanboys and nerds dressed in their native attire and in their home settings. This is a series of very cool photos of our kind (or my kind if you are not a nerd and/or fanboy).

There is a strange juxtaposition of seeing a sith lord in a living room with collectible dolls. On the other hand, it shows that a lot of us are just normal people who live in normal places.

I am in no way ashamed of my nerdness. I never have been. Whether it was strolling through the mall in mediaval garb, attending a swanky fundraiser in my trek uniform or going to the moviesdressed as a pirate and/or vampire.

How drab, how dull to live out ones life wearing the uniform our society and culture has stated is 'proper' and 'right'.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Catching my breath

The Bag End bash went of pretty damn well. Well, except for the torrential rainstorm that hit mid way through the day while we tried to play frisbee hack. But the weather soon cleared up and we were able to hack frisbees as well as enjoy the fireworks.

I want to thank everyone for coming over and bringing such great food. It was great to see some friends that I haven't seen in quite a while.

Just before the party my Dad came for his annual visit. This was canceled last year when he broke his neck in an accident. I am happy to report that he again rode him Honda PC800 down from Boston without too much trouble. Grimm was also in town building a trailer for Pennsic and even Ander came by to work on a camp chair.

No rest for the wicked though. It was off to Columbus for Origins Gaming convention (during which Wellington got a metric ASSLOAD of rain. Our house was fine but there are signs of the storm all around.

Back at home we only had a short rest before heading out to Geneva to prepare for the Great Lakes Medieval Faire. It was a frenzied 2 days of painting, cleaning, planting and more. Our new booth now has a proper changing room, a real storage area and a fresh coat of paint. All in all, it looks remarkably the same. This was a rather disappointing realization, but everything behind the scenes is in much better shape now.

The show opens this weekend and there a lot of activity on the site. Apparently Larry, the owner of the show bought out a lot of equipment from the now defunct Geuoga Lake amusement park. There was even a rumor he was building a roller coaster (Thanks god that wasn't true.) We didn't have time to look around, maybe tomorrow when we start setting up and primping the booth.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another reason I love Germany...

Rossana bought a cheap pair of sunglasses in Germany and at some point near the end of the trip they went AWOL. We just assumed we'd left them on the bus or at a cafe. It turns out we had left them at the house of a friend we visited there.

So what does he do? He mails them back to us in the US! Not content with bubble plastic he also bought a case for them just to make sure they arrived safe and sound along with a CD of images he took in Egypt a few years ago where we met him. Germany (and those that reside within its borders) rock.

Albert, you're the man!

Sunday, June 08, 2008


A while back I tossed around the idea of putting up my own Steampunk themed store. Eventually I bought the URL I didn't do much with it as I was too busy and I didn't have enough products to fill it. My partner Thomas makes some great brass goggles but that was about it. This week I finally stopped dragging my feet and started developing the site. I've been working on several products and getting them into the store might be the push I need to complete them.

Well, this morning what do I see on but a pic of Thomas' sweetie at a very cool Steampunk event in London called White Mischief adorned with these selfsame brass goggles and a link to the almost non-existent site.


I hit the keyboard and did what I could to get all the assorted steampunk items we've been working on onto the site.

Feel free to go and take a look. The look of the site is minimalistic, this is not so much an artistic choice and a necessity due to a lack of time. I'll go back and start gussying it up this week.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Bitter much?

I like to think that I am open minded. I enjoy discussing just about any subject and have friends on both sides of the political spectrum (although most are more likely Democrats or libertarians).

So on a whim I went to both the Democrat and Republican websites. If you have a moment, you should visit them for yourself.

The Democrat site features a happy and smiling Barack Obama, with links to joining the campaign and get email newsletters. There's news, policy links etc.

Now go check the RNC website. Oddly, it doesn't currently have ONE picture of John McCain. Maybe this is because he isn't the 'official' nominee yet. I would understand that. The are however at least SEVEN pictures of Obama. Each one is as unflattering as they can use (without resorting to darkening his skin like O.J. Simpson or putting a kafiyya on his head in photoshop). Each picture is accompanied my snide jabs, accusations, innuendo and claims of democratic party disunity.

While the Dem site lists news articles about the democratic party, Obama and links to getting involved (with some links to McCain policies and history) the RNC site is ALL about what's wrong with Obama. Not the democrats, JUST Obama. He flip flops, he knows a guy who did something illegal, his promise to limit lobbyist money has loopholes, he has bad judgment. There's even a counter showing how long its been since Obama went to Iraq. Because if he went to Iraq, everything would be better. Right? There's also a link to find and contact local talk radio stations so that you can spread the word to other fearful whites about the scary black man who will rape your women and OHNOEZZ HEEZ A MUZLIM!!!

Wow. The whole site is just plain bitter.

It's not just the content of the site, as a web developer the RNC seems to be going out of their way to make the site super serious. Deep red indicating danger. Want information? You must register with the site. While the Dem site has a subtle 'Contribute' button the RNC demands "Help elect a Republican President and congress. Support the RNC! DONATE TODAY!". Do it now!! The liberal hordes are at the gate to take our guns and institute communism!

This is the first time I have visited either site this year. I'm curious to see how they both evolve during the election season. So far McCain isn't winning any awards for originality by copying Obama's slogan. And with his record of voting pretty consistently with Bush it will be hard to declare himself a maverick or a reformer.

For extra credit I also visited the Libertarian site. It's simpler, but I like their slogan "The Party of Principle" and the Green party. It's very - green.

Am I crazy here? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


The date for the Bag End Bash has been set! June 21st starting at around noon or so. I have sent out evites, but my email list may be out of date. If you know me and didn't get an evite you are still very much invited. I am not sending out physical invitations this year. It's just too expensive. I am hoping that this won't affect attendance.

We are planning on setting up the archery range as well as playing Frisbee hack. I might set up a croquet pitch as well. We will supply basic meats and drinks, please bring supplemental food, side dishes and maybe a dessert (cough*pie*cough) . I hope to have the custard machine again thanks to Lindsey.

It's possible that there will be a rack of corsets (some of them made with our amazing new exclusive materials) set up in the garage, but the would merely be a coincidence.

Want to fish? Sure thing. We may even have the remote control Pirate ships available. Want to slack off? Try the hammock.

Need crash space? Contact us ASAP. In house room is usually limited though tent space is plentiful.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I've been hacked.

And to be honest, I am honored that some kid in Saudi Arabia thought enough of my site to deface it. While doing some clean up on the site I went to take a look at some OLD pics I took in Italy a few years back and found this.

I don't know how they got in and it doesn't appear that they have done any other damage. The page is safe to view, I've checked all the HTML. As a precaution I'll be changing some passwords etc.

Is it something in the water?

As of today it appears that the primaries are over. Obama has apparently won. Which makes the actions of Hillary and her supporters all the more unfathomable. I mean, have you heard some of the crazy shit some of her supporters are saying?

Please don't think that I hate Sen. Clinton. I do not. She seems to be a competent Senator and genuinely seeks to do all she can to help America. My initial nervousness at the Democrats two main contenders being a woman and a black was more than overcome by my pride that we in fact did such a thing and that they were both worthy of the chance. I don't believe we'll be seeing a woman or a black presidential candidate coming out of the Republican party any century soon.

And so the fight was on. And as the end drew nigh something very weird happened. When Michigan and Florida were punished for breaking the rules and holding early primaries her people flipped out. And when Clinton didn't get all the delegates from a state where Obama's name wasn't on the ballot and she agree'd not to count, she and her supporters somehow came to believe that a vast DNC conspiracy was afoot. People were being disenfranchised, theri VOTE wasn't being counted. And EVERY VOTE was somehow crucial to the survival of America.

This wasn't Obama's fault.
It wasn't the DNC's fault.

The state Democratic committee's did this. It's their fault. There are rules. You were TOLD the consequences of breaking the rules. You did it anyways. And when the Rules committee decided to seat their delegates but punnish them for breaking the rules, you would have thought that we were sicking dogs and firehoses on Hillary's supporters. Some actually compared the act to slavery.

She started repeating, at every opportunity, that she was getting the most votes. Of course, you had to jump through a lot of hoops to get her numbers, but that doesn't matter because that isn't how the primaries work. It isn't a straight popularity contest. Then the Hillary supporters turned on the media. But the media has been responsible for keeping the appearence of a real race alive for months when it was clear to most that Hillary wasn't going to win. They fought to keep the race alive for the sake of ratings.

Then came the charges of sexism. Sexism? Then it became about her 'electability'.

And when the end came did she concede graciously and make the case for party unity? No. And her most ardent supporters started screaming about fighting all the way to Denver and even voting for McCain rather than Obama.

Why would you do that? What good would that serve? How would that support the agenda and ideals espoused by Ms Clinton?

And the hate coming off these people, you can almost see it. They HATE Obama, for a multitude of reasons that sound only slightly more crazy than the 'He's a Muslim who hates America because he doesn't wear a pin' stories. They are furious because they believe we will loose the general election, all because the DNC and Howard Dean have somehow calluded to shove Obama down the Democratic parties throat. But what about all the superdelegates? Were they merely puppets? And the elections where he won? He must have some support. But to hear these people talk those people are mindless sheep and Obama some kind of cult leader who will kill us all.

I understand being devoted to a candidate, but this is getting ugly. There was a time when people talked about the 'Dream Ticket' of Obama and Clinton. And on the surface it sounds like a great idea for unifying the party. But now? Not so much. I don't think it would work.

Am I biased? Maybe. But it seems to me that Barrak has consistently taken the high road during this process. Even tonight during his speach, where Cinton gave him two lines and then talked about herself and her agenda. Barrak praised her in the highest terms and did not seem to take any jabs at her at all, instead calling for unity. Clintons speech sounded like a campaign speech. In places she took swipes at Obama, although these were couched politely and in general terms. And despite loosing the primary, she said she'd hold off on deciding what to do. What to do? Do what any 1st grader would do. Shake hands with the winner and learn from your mistakes. Work towards winning for the good of everyone, not just YOUR personal cheering section. Hillary is working towards being the new Ralph Nader here. A good person who blows it for everyone just so they can prove a point.