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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back to California and Busy as Usual

Saturday I finally flew back to California. Hawaii was a good time, but I was looking forward to going back to a state where I wasn't the only one with somewhere to be. I can't tell you how great it felt to get on the freeway and drive more than 45 miles per hour. I ended up taking a circuitous route all over the place just so I could enjoy going fast for a while before going back to the boat and passing out.

Sunday morning I met up with Rose and her friend Jane for breakfast. Then it was time to put in what few hours I would be able to put in for the Sea Scouts annual fundraiser. When I got there I found that they'd shrink-wrapped Rose's truck while she was at breakfast:

Oddly she blamed me for this.

Shortly after I showed up, I was stationed out at the main gate to collect parking fees. Within the first couple of hours that I was there, some of the scouts decided to dress up my car too:

The day ended pretty late and everyone headed off in their various directions. It turns out Rose was house-sitting for a friend. So, since I was already blamed for it, I decided I might as well experience the joy of shrink-wrapping Rose's truck:
Late June 002

The end result made me happy. You can tell I did it because the plastic wrap was as much as two inches thick in places. Awesome:
Late June 001

Monday was blistering hot and I was miserable trying to get anything done in the workshop. Instead I ended up running around all over the place shopping for tools and whatnot. On the way back from Santa Rosa, I ended up driving by the first sizeable brush fires I've seen this year:
Brush Fires No word on whether or not there was arson involved. Gotta love California summers.

After all of that, it was time to swing by and check on the progress of Matt's tank project:
Matt's Tank 4 More on that in a separate post.

Tuesday and Wednesday were actually cool enough to make progress in the workshop again. With the heat, I was mostly just trying to figure out how to make castings of my various parts before the resin set. This was more than a bit of a challenge.

Wednesday I finally got my carving machine up and running again and did some carving on a piece of teak for a customer down at the marina. Between my time in Hawaii and delays in procuring parts, it's almost two months since I said I'd deliver this piece. Finally having it knocked out was a great relief.

Then I went ahead and started another project that's been waiting in the "needs to be carved" queue. Ten minutes into work, the machine quit again. A bit of troubleshooting revealed that the problem is most likely a dead power converter.*

Since my frustration with Lopez** was starting to mount, I took a break from stopped fighting the laws of physics and decided to do some grinding work instead. It turns out there was a lot of dust involved:

If you look closely, you can see that I've got good reason for the respirator:
Randomness 001

When I got sick of the grinding, I got a good start on version four of the MARPAT digital desert paintjob on the helmet for my sister:
Desert Digital Phase 3 It still needs one more darker shade of brown and then it's time to paint all the black details and whatnot. I'm pretty happy with it so far.

So that's what's been keeping me busy. Apart from some quality time spent brushing out the stickers and burrs matted into the dogs' coats.

Stay tuned, more interesting posts to come...

*Time to head down to Toshi Station again and pick up some more of those.

Friday, June 25, 2010


This is a British Royal Air Force Tornado G4 fighter jet. It costs something like $30million and is capable of speeds in excess of 1,400 miles per hour:

This is a close-up of the cockpit:

The RAF looks like it must be fun.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Amazing Things from the Internet: Toilet Snorkel

I was looking for some source images for a photoshop project yesterday and was amazed when Google Image Search dug up this winner:

A little bit of investigation revealed that this illustration was taken from the U.S. patent for the "toilet snorkel." Not a joke. You see, in high-rise building fires, many would-be survivors end up dying from smoke inhalation. The inventor envisioned this handy device as a way for trapped apartment dwellers to get to a source of relatively fresh air that would enable them to survive long enough for rescuers to extricate them. I have my doubts about the breathability of sewer gasses, but I guess it beats the noxious fumes from the burning of modern synthetic construction materials and furnishings.

Strolling the East End of the Island

At the behest of more than one friend, I drove out to the town of Kailua on the East end of Oahu in search of a restaurant called "Buzz's Steakhouse." It wasn't too difficult to find, but I'll admit that I was none too impressed with the exterior of the place. It turns out that I'd arrived fully half an hour before they opened for dinner, so I was invited to sit at the bar and drink my way though the wait.

When I finally got around to the dinner portion of the evening, Buzz did not disappoint:

I was given a respectable table too:

Having finished dinner (and the rummiest mai tais I've ever had), I found myself a bit too inebriated to comfortably drive back to the hotel. Fortunately, there was a nice, empty beach right across the street:
Wandering Oahu 002

At first I figured it was merely the weather that had kept everyone else from crowding out there with me. Then I spotted the first of several of these signs:
Wandering Oahu 003

I'm not sure exactly what the area was contaminated with, but close scrutiny found no shortage of little bits of plastic scattered all over below the high water mark:
Wandering Oahu 012

Even if it meant I was likely to find an early grave from heavy metal poisoning or asbestos exposure, I was glad to have the place mostly to myself:
Wandering Oahu 029

As I ambled along, I did end up crossing paths with a very few other people. There was also a kite surfing class that was packing in their gear as I walked by. So mostly, this was my view:
Wandering Oahu 030

Here's me enjoying solitude and quiet reflection:
Wandering Oahu 027

Among other things, I contemplated the scattered remnants of sand castles left behind by earlier visitors to the same beach. While I pondered I noticed that while many amateur sculptors had made sand castles, nobody had bothered to provide their sandy royalty with sand thrones. So I made one:
Sand Throne

Hopefully there will be more of these in the future.*

*This picture was altered significantly in photoshop.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Before I Leave Brush My Teeth With a Bottle of Synthahol

Yesterday I stumbled across this music video for Kesha's "Tik Tok":

It's been a while since I've watched any of the original Star Trek, but I'm amazed I don't remember all of the drinking that was apparently involved. I enjoyed the show as a kid, but I must have missed all of the non-stop disco action that was always going on.

Of course, if you're willing to spend the time looking around, you can find video clips of the Enterprise crew doing just about anything. Especially if you're willing to explore Leonard Nimoy's musical career:

Still, when it comes to musical Trek it's hard to find anything more ridiculous and compelling as William Shatner's interpretation of "Rocket Man:"

SCUBA Diving Off of Waikiki

The first order of business upon arriving in Hawaii was to book myself on a dive trip through an outfit called Dive Oahu. Sadly, that trip was cancelled for some reason. The shop was able to reschedule me for a trip the following weekend though, so I did at least get to go out diving once while I was here.

It was a gorgeous day when I woke up and headed down to the harbor where they apparently keep all of the tourist-centric boat operations:
Tourist Boat Harbor

When I showed up there was nobody around from the dive shop. This is odd when you consider the fact that I myself was only about fifteen minutes early. A few minutes later, a bus pulled up and unloaded a couple dozen sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines from the nearby bases. It turns out the company has a shuttle service that pics customers up at their hotels and whatnot and today is the day that the new students are all going out on their open water checkout dives. So it was looking like it would be a crowded boat.

As I watched them milling around, a man wearing a Dive Oahu t-shirt stopped to talk to me. He said that I was the last person that they were waiting for. Further, he explained that there were two boats going out; one loaded with students and the other with just four divers aboard. I was one of the four. Awesome!

With the staff dealing with the crowd, it took a few minutes to get all situated with all of the gear I would be using for the dive. Since most of my own personal gear is better suited for diving the cold, murky water of Northern California, I left behind everything but my dive mask. It turns out that this would be the first time I was diving in a short wetsuit. Since it's also been a couple of years since the last time I got to go diving, this meant I had no idea how much weight I was going to need to make me neutrally buoyant. Fortunately, the staff managed to size me up perfectly and it was time to head out.

Once aboard the boat, it was a short run out to the first dive site. It was a nice day and the sea was fairly calm:
scuba diving oahu 010

scuba diving oahu 007

After the divemaster picked up the mooring, it was only a matter of minutes before I was fully rigged and jumping off the stern of the boat. Right away I was amazed at how natural and familiar everything was. I'll admit that I was a bit leery about diving for the first time in years, but it turns out I had no reason at all to be concerned. After a moment of checking through all of my gear to make sure everything was working, I dumped the air out of my vest and started my slow descent. Looking down, I was surprised to see that I could already make out the shipwreck on the ocean floor over a hundred feet below:
scuba diving oahu 076

I enjoy wreck diving. There's a ghostly quality to a shipwreck that fascinates me. Here's a school of fish I followed around while tooling around along the main deck:
scuba diving oahu 030
View from inside the pilothouse:
scuba diving oahu 059

Along the way, a couple of divers from another boat went inside the wreck:
scuba diving oahu 027

This meant that there were suddenly bubbles coming up out of all sorts of vents and breaches in the deck:
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scuba diving oahu 038

scuba diving oahu 045
As I made my way forward, I caught sight of this turtle looming over the bow railing:

scuba diving oahu 047

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I followed him for a bit before he headed away:
scuba diving oahu 051

At that point I slipped over the side and descended all the way to the sea floor next to the ship's bow:
scuba diving oahu 043

scuba diving oahu 052

The bottom was white sand, stark and empty. This is when the divemaster pointed to my depth guage, letting me know that I was at a depth of 120 feet and needed to come up before I gassed myself.* Oops.

I was also sucking down air pretty fast. I was more than a bit excited and taking pictures means working a little harder to hold yourself steady, so I ended up burning through my tank faster than I'd've liked. With two-thirds of my air gone, it was time to get in line and head for the surface:
scuba diving oahu 062

Back on the surface, we headed off to our second dive site. Along the way, we passed all sorts of folks doing touristy boat stuff:
scuba diving oahu 086
Once we'd arrived at the second site, the divemaster set the hook and and all we had to do was follow the line down to the anchor:
scuba diving oahu 113

The second dive site turned out to be the discharge end of a disused storm drain. It was a shallower dive with all sorts of interesting coral formations.

While I was submerged, I managed to take a few self portraits:
Oahu Diving Shawn

Since I was only using a low-end rental camera, I had to rely on the ambient light for my pictures. This meant that the bulk of the colors were washed out by the light-filtering effects of the seawater. I tried a couple of shots witht he flash, but it lit up the little bits floating in the water column and obscured the subjects:
scuba diving oahu 142

Without the flash, these same fish looked like they were just black and white. I tried obscuring the flash a bit by blocking it with my finger, but the floaties were still to bright:
scuba diving oahu 141

Still, even without a useful flash, I managed a few decent shots:
scuba diving oahu 161

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scuba diving oahu 109

Somewhere along the way, I spotted these two tiny little fish having a territorial dispute:
scuba diving oahu 209
I also followed this little guy around for a while:
Oahu Pufferfish
I know it makes me an asshole, but every time I see a pufferfish in the wild I try to frighten them into inflating themselves. It never seems to work and this jerk was no exception. I take comfort though, knowing that he'll likely end up as a lamp:
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet 1

Even the best things must come to an end. Back on the surface, all that was left to do was strip out of my gear, towel off, and smile contentedly all the way back to the beach.
scuba diving oahu 092
Once ashore I finally noticed that I'd managed to bump my ankle on something somewhere along the way:
Coral Scratch
Hopefully I'll get a chance to make at least one more dive trip while I'm in town.

*The deeper you go, the faster nitrogen builds up in your body. The more nitrogen you build up, the longer you have to decompress before you can surface and return to normal atmospheric pressure without suffering decompression sickness, also known as "the bends."