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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Documentary Ever

I went to the movies this evening. Movies plural, yes.

This was my reward for taking a day off work to not have fun.

Well, some fun. Took Mo to her neurology appointment, and on some level that's hanging with my kid. There were a lot of people in the waiting room and she did a lot of loud singing to cope, so it's not like a trip to Ren Fest or something. Costs as much, it's just not as much fun.

Mo did have fun with my camera. I took pictures of her, which she demanded regularly, to try and keep her anxieties under control. Then she wanted to take pictures, and right when the doctor walked in she pointed the camera at him.

Gotta love a pediatric neurologist who instinctively sticks his tongue out for a picture.

The other thing that made my inner child cry out for compensation was getting my car tags renewed. I fucked up and forgot again, and once they're overdue the online option quits working. I realized after I got there that I didn't have a current proof of insurance and had to drive over to my insurance agent's office to get a fresh printout of that.

The agent tried to sell me life insurance. Sort of. I was going through underwriting for a big term policy six years ago when I went into cardiac arrest mowing Mom's lawn. The good news is I survived with far fewer complications than I had any right to expect. The bad news is having a heart attack before you're 40 is Kryptonite to life insurance underwriters. It's not that it makes the premium go crazy, they just won't write the policy.

And it's not like I could handle much in the way of premiums these days, but I decided to humor him. At least I'd know if it was a thing I could theoretically buy.

Nope. Nothing doing.

Then back at the DMV, it's the end of the month. Meaning a wait. A huge wait.

I was number C330. And they were calling on C700's.

But they mix it up. They'd call 700s for awhile, then 500s. Then 400s, then 700s again, then 800s.

No way to tell where you stand. The system must have been inspired by that other great state institution, the lottery. Everyone loses, but you get them to participate anyway.

After all that, and filling a couple of prescriptions for Mo which ended up being more expensive than I anticipated, I got the message that the massage therapist I'm addicted to couldn't keep my appointment this evening. I could still go and get 'adjusted' by my chiropractor but the massage therapist would be a person who does more harm than good. Like the person who tickles you by hovering, insisting 'I'm not touching you,' this therapist is gentle to the point of being counterproductive. Even if the insurance pays for it, it's not worth my time to be present on the table.

So I went to the movies instead. Chuck Palahniuk's Choke was showing, and I was psyched. Probably my second favorite of his novels, second only to Survivor, I'd thought for years that I'd adore a movie based on the novel. And I enjoyed it, but not as much as I'd hoped.

I think the problem is I'm far too intimately familiar with the novel. I've read it a couple of times and listened to the audiobook read by the author a half dozen times, minimum. And as usual, there were things changed for the movie that shouldn't have been, and scenes that should have been included that weren't. Unlike Fight Club, where Jim Uhls actually improved the story writing the adaptation, this reverted to the rule of thumb that the book is always better. It's a good movie, but read the novel.

So anyway, I did something I don't normally do: I snuck in to a film. By snuck in, I had a ticket. The ticket was for Choke at 5:45. I bought a soda, too, which I got the 'free' refill on. Then I went in to the new Cohen Bros. film, Burn After Reading.

This was the movie I needed to see. The brothers Coen did a great job adapting No Country for Old Men, but in terms of their original material, stuff they co-write, this is a masterpiece. It's on a par with Fargo.

And while they don't claim, as in Fargo, that this is a true story, it really is. This is how wars start. For that matter, the top CIA man in the film looks an awful lot like Secretary Paulson...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ren Fest

Party Like it's 1499 from Chixulub on Vimeo.

I almost gave Ren Fest a miss this year, but the day was too nice and a little folding money from a couple of birthday cards was calling out for olden times. Or pseudo-olden times anyway.

This eccentric performance was Mo at the Pirate Plunge. I don't know what the pose was, but she did it a bunch of times, including while the guy was trying to hook her up. Then, as soon as she was hooked up, she said 'Whoah!' and dove on her face. He was 'Is she okay?' And I said, yeah, she's just squirrelly from waiting around to be flung.

It's a long wait, too. They could set up a second Pirate Plunge right next to it, have eight people going at a time and they'd still probably have a line. I'd go, too, if they'd add more bungees to go past that pesky 200lb weight limit.

I asked what was in the hookah, but it was only tobacco. If you're going to do that to your lungs, it ought to be opium. Grass at the very least.

Once again, both girls refused to ride an elephant with their Dad. Go figure. But Mo did ask to ride a camel, and seemed to enjoy it.

I made the same mistake I made last year of going the same weekend as the NASCAR races at the Kansas Speedway. There were signs warning of heavy traffic at 6:00, so even though we were exhausted at 6:00, we stayed the final hour to avoid the worst of the mayhem. By which time Mo was a few clicks past whiny.

God Bless Gridlock

Today the U.S. House of Representatives did something so unusual it scared Wall Street into a 700 point drop in the Dow.

It said 'no' to a bad idea.

The mortgage crisis is no doubt real. I'm one of the sub-prime borrowers in question, if you gotta know. I've managed to hold it together but I don't know for how long. And I know first hand of people who borrowed more improbably than I.

But fixing the mortgage crisis does not mean giving god-like powers to the most ambitious Wall Street asshead to ever pretend to serve the public.

The Bush Administration has a long track record of making dire predictions about what the failure to approve their bold initiatives would mean. The result is the Patriot Act, illegal wiretaps, water-boarding at Gitmo, the Iraq war, and so on.

Did they create the mess? Well, easy lending on mortgages dates back at least to Clinton, and I can remember Alan Greenspan justifying low interest rates on the basis that real estate was the only thing holding our economy up after 9/11.

So this catastrophe is a true bipartisan effort. Since probably 97% of you won't vote Libertarian even though the Republocrats and Depublicans created the whole problem, I leave it to you to pretend that the status-quo parties have anything that looks like a solution.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Don't Know Much About What I Like...

I've been thinking of doing some oil painting lately. Abstract expressionist things.

But the canvas and paints, I fear expenses. I need another expensive hobby like I need more bad news from Wall Street.

So anyway, working in a print shop, I got to wondering how printer's inks compared to oil paints. They're both based on grease. So I got a press operator to give me a teaspoon or so of PMS877 Silver, Pantone Violet, Pantone Warm Red and Opaque White to play with. Then I bought some cheap fluorescent poster board at Stuff-Mart.

Basically I made a mess on one sheet, then mashed the two together. Then made more mess and did more mashing. I'm not 100% thrilled with the result, but it was fun.

But is it art?

Pattonsburg Launch

Drove out for the KCAR launch at Pattonsburg. I've heard raves about this field as one you just about can't loose a rocket at. There's more trees in sight than I'd have expected given the raves, but it is a big-ass field. We also had very little in the way of winds.

Pattonsburg Flights 092708 from Chixulub on Vimeo.

It also has the advantage of being a potential high power site. We only had a NOTAM called in today, but the potential for an FAA waiver to fly truly big birds is there. I thought there was going to be a waiver, and that a member was going to be doing his Level I attempt with a PML Miranda, so I threw the girls in the car and we headed there. It's 120 miles each way, further than I'd normally consider driving for a launch. But between the hype about the field and the desire to see what an H or I motor sounds like in person, I couldn't resist.

The hottest motor that flew while I was there was actually an F. That's nothing to sneeze at, it's a lot of motor. Basically hobby 'model rocket' motors run A through G, the F and G motors (and sometimes the E's) being referred to as 'mid-power.' But mid-power is as unrestricted as sport rocket motors except you're supposed to be 18 to buy them.

Starting with H you get into the world of certifications and FAA waivers. Each letter, you're basically talking a doubling of impulse, so a J motor is roughly twice as potent as an I. Because it's an exponential deal, you get into some pretty serious motors when you start advancing into the alphabet.

And you get more expensive, which is why I don't fly high power. I might do a Level I attempt sometime, but the flights get pricey fast. a G-80 motor, the most powerful before you're into HPR territory, runs about $25 for a single use. Get into Level III and you can pop $350 or more just for the fuel grains to reload a motor.

Whereas I can launch a C motor for closer to two bucks.

Packed a picnic lunch, which the girls ate. Mo ate all the carrots, actually a pound bag, and Em ate some cheese and ignored her sandwich.

And Mo had fun unravelling crepe streamer. I use this for recovery wadding; it's cheap, flame resistant and biodegradable. But Mo just lives to unspool it. Cheap, like I say. When she ran through the eight rolls I brought, she was ready to leave.

As we were packing up, Em pointed out a spider on the car. She'd pointed one out on the range box, and there was another I'd found in a box of motors and killed by reflex. I'm an arachnophobe, true and simple.

But this spider on my car, I decided not to kill. I said to myself, I'm in his home, not the other way around. So I decided to try and photograph him. And right after I clicked this shot, as I prepared to take another he jumped onto my camera lens and I screamed like a girl and jumped out of my skin.

On the way back, I tried to take the girls to the Jesse James Farm/Museum. But it was closed an hour before we go there. Ah well.