Progress – of a Sort

4 April 2009

Been working on-and-off (mostly off) on the Pegasus Hobbies ‘Area 51 UFO’.  Up until tonight this consisted of spraying primer (duplicolor Black) and basecoat (Duplicor Metalflake Silver) whenever the weather warmed up enough I could use the garage.  This evening I finally got some time to test-fit lights.


I wanted to try out a  Lochtech LED Driver – he’d sent me a few samples.  Turns out you can’t hook the one that’s rated for 1.5V – 12V input directly into a 9V battery ….. it started smoking.  I disconnected it … and managed to accidentally power the LED string straight from the battery.  POW – shot the top of a bright white clear across the room – one of the more spectacular LED failures in my checkered history with the devices.


Went to Radio Shack and picked up a 2x AA battery holder.  That worked much better …. well, it lit the LEDs without fireworks, anyway.  I then taped the four bright whites in place near the top of the upper dome, pointing down. 


Previously, I’d built a little structure from beads and wire on top of a clear plastic disposable picni plate – just something to fill up the interior of the model.  The LEDs illminate it just like I wanted – I was pleasantly surprised.  Then I press-fit the green plastic parts in the openings and tried again.  I’m happy with it.


The green parts are pretty cloudy.  I tried dipping them in Future (as I would for any other clear parts) but — oddly enough — Future will not stick.  It fisheyes and puddles. This despite several cleanings with progressively stronger agents.  I may have to fall back on old-fashioned polishing with Novus and a T-shirt.


Despite the setbacks, it feels good to actually work on a model.  I’ve been working 12-14 hour days and there just hasn’t been time – and probably won’t be again, come Monday.


>Sigh< And Wonderfest is barely a month away.


Getting Religion

23 January 2009

Of all the things that cheese me off I think the bit where people suddenly ‘get religion’ regarding a certain issue is what spins me up most.  Makes me want to scream at the TV (or radio, if I’m in the car).

Perfect example: Illinois politics.  Seems I can’t tune in to any media outlet without hearing some Illinois GOP mouthpiece pontificating about “pay to play” politics.  Funny how that wasn’t an issue until a Democrat was elected governor.  Seems the anti-corruption warriors never want to talk about their opposition to the last governor … you know, Republican George Ryan, the guy who is in the federal pen in Marion for …. aw, ya know – the public corruption thing.


Another example:  the bloviating being done by Republicans in Washington over the “economic stimulus”.  They sure were not against government spreading cash around with a fire hose back when it was to pay for their war and all the well-connected contractors that followed the troops into Iraq.  But now – now they pontificate about mortgaging our children’s future’.

 In either case, their credibility would be greater if they’d actually taken the position they have now back when their party was in power.

And speaking of religion, here’s a news flash:  President Obama (damn, feels good to say that) is president of all America, including the people who don’t describe themselves as Christian.  Which is a non-trivial percentage of the population – and no doubt the reason he mentioned Jews, Muslims, Hindus and non-believers in his inaugural address.  He was elected to be President of these United States – not our pastor.  The sooner that point is understood, the sooner the foolishness can stop.

The New Nigel

25 December 2008

So …. Santa brought me an iRobot Dirt Dog today and it has to be the coolest gift I’ve gotten in my adult life.


It’s loud, especially on the wood floors.  It wanders aimlessly and bumps into things.  It gets tangled up in rug tassels.  So of course we named it after our late, lamented cat – he did the same things.  This Nigel, however, sweeps up loose crud on the floor instead of adding to the mess (man, could that cat shed.  I swear I could knit a new cat from what fell off him every week).


Tonight I set RoboNigel loose in the StarshipModeler stock room and shut the door.  Forty minutes later, he announced the demise of  every last dust rhino with a cheerful beeping.


I have no idea how rugged he is, or how long he’ll last, but for now — I’m quite impressed.  And I’ve wasted far too much time watching him work, when I could be boxing up these Prometheus kits….


I can’t help but ponder whether to modify him to look like a scutter or a DRD … though I guess I can’t do anything more than paint or he won’t be able to get under the shelves.

Thank God.

4 November 2008

It really feels like a weight just dropped from my back.  A huge weight.

Listening to McCain’s concession, I could only think that if he had run his campaign like that, he could have won.  And I’d have been almost as happy as I am now.

A Surfeit of Patriotism

30 October 2008

All I can say is …. wow.

(left in it’s original 1072 size so anyone interested can make it their desktop)

 I was about 2 miles from the main gate of Great Lakes (aka Great Mistakes) Naval Base when I snapped that …. but I’m pretty sure there was no window sticker indicating someone authorized on base.

 Kinda puts the whole “flag pin on the lapel” thing in perspective, doesn’t it.

Wake Up Call

18 September 2008

On Sunday morning at about 4am, I woke up with numbness and weakness all down my left side.  I’ve been a bit stressed out (when have I not been?) and I thought it was just my body rebelling against too much work and too little sleep, or maybe too much caffeine the day before.  But by 5am it was worse and I did something I have never done before:  woke Linda up and asked her to take me to the ER.

Once there, they determined my blood pressure was through the roof and gave me “60cc’s of something-or-other, Stat!” in order to bring it down.  After two days of tests (including an MRI and something called a TEE, where they stick a probe down your throat to do an ultrasound of your heart) they determined I had experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA.  A TIA is a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. 

TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn’t get the blood it needs. The symptoms occur rapidly and last a relatively short time. Most TIAs last less than five minutes. The average is about a minute. Unlike stroke, when a TIA is over, there’s no injury to the brain. They can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke, and are important predictors of major strokes. In about half the cases, the stroke occurs within one year of the TIA.

So …. I’m back home now, on baby aspirin (to reduce the chances of those clots forming) and blood pressure meds, probably for the rest of my life.  Still recovering from the after-effects of anesthesia – they had to knock me out to do the MRI because I’m insanely claustrophobic and again for the TEE, because the first time they tried with the “twilight sleep” they gave me the max dose and I was still fighting the docs as they tried to stick that tube down my throat.  Turns out I have an unusually high resistance to anesthesia…. who knew.  Not looking forward to seeing the bill from all this — they had to knock me out for the MRI as well because I’m insanely claustrophobic and that MRI machine was bringing uncomfortable memories of the Quigley at OCS — and who knows what the insurance will choose to cover.

Anyway, with the right meds, changes to my life, some luck and the grace of God, this will be just a wake-up call and not an omen. 

But it has pretty much freaked me out.

CNN Gets One Right ….

9 August 2008
Hear me out. 
After reading this piece of absolute horsespit.  I’ll wait.
Two of the more salient bits:

CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who served as a White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, said Democrats could have been hurt if Edwards had clinched the Democratic nomination.

“He put the Democratic Party in real jeopardy,” he said. “If he had been the nominee of the party now, and this thing had blown up … it would have — it would have ruined the Democrats’ chances of taking back the White House.”

And then there is this “gem”:

Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said Friday that Edwards’ infidelity may affect both parties’ images. “The questions are going to be asked, does this hurt Republicans or Democrats, or the political impact. And the truth is that it’s going to hurt everybody, because right now, in an uncertain world, we’re looking to see who we can trust to lead the country, and this lessens, I think, faith in political leadership in general,” he said Friday.

 And you know what?  I think both these guys are correct in their assessments.  After all, for the past decade we’ve seen that politicians can wipe their asses with the Constitution without fear of ever being held accountable, but let their crank escape from their trousers with anyone not their spouse and it’s all over.

Piss away tens of thousands of lives (ours and theirs) and billions of dollars, make a mockery of our laws and the ideals of our Founders, and we’re OK with it.  But God help you if you shag someone to whom you ain’t married to.  That causes us to lose faith in institutions and parties.

That, after all, jest ain’t right.