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  • Archive for the ‘amusement’ Category

    The Viaduct at Mine Creek – Chapter One


    2011 - 10.26

    I love it when I can make a post using the “Moment of Genesis” tag. That in itself is a tiny triumph. I think this one qualifies:

    In the mail a couple weeks ago I recieved all the little bits of plastic I’ll need to construct an HO-scale replica of the steel viaduct at Mine Creek. This is a giant trestle along the Milwaukee Road mainline in the Snoqualmie Valley of Washington state, and indeed my replica will be GIANT as well.  Check out the whole setup below, with the locos and some inspiring artwork seen in the background:

    Someday I dream of being ‘that-guy’ with the huge attic empire of a sprawling model railroad. To help that dream come true, I plan on building smaller dioramas or set-pieces which will someday become the focal points of a large sized train layout. This huge bridge will most definitely be one of these!

    I will probably still need to pick up a few more minor pieces to model the top deck, the railing, and the catenary posts (those parts that hold up the overhead wire), but the major pieces are all here now, which is very exciting. Micro Engineering, the company who manufacturers these bridge kits, is one of the best companies out there. When this bridge is done, it will be spectacular indeed! Also, it will probably be a very non-trivial endeavor to build it! These are advanced-level kits, not intended for the faint-of-heart. Oh boy.

    Anyway, it will probably be a while before I actually break all this open, airbrush it, cut it from the sprues and then build it. There’s a house move in the near future and all this stuff is a can of worms to be respected. But still, it’s here, and I see the potential in it. This thing is gonna be AWESOME.

    To be continued…………..

    Just THE BEST animated .gif ever, that is all.


    2011 - 09.21

    In 1987 Compuserve introduced the .gif format so that it could someday culminate in the perfect storm of kickassery that you now witness below.  At the time of its inception, it was never dreamed that the format would someday achieve this level of incredibleness. Now that it has reached its zenith with this image, heretoforth animated gifs shall ever be in a state of decline, never quite living up to the golden standard achieved here.

    Finding The Meaning: Why Are We All Here?


    2011 - 09.20

    aka Awesome Search Terms That Crack Me UP.

    I check the stats pretty regularly on this blog and one thing that is an eternal source of fascination and amusement are the search terms that bring people around. If a website is a wide open door, it’s pretty neat to listen in on the reasons why new people came through it. I’ll divide the terms into two groups, with a few comments inserted here and there.

    group one

    “Kindred Spirits”:
    mind blowing things to think about
    vastness of the universe
    infinity written out -just as futile as trying to write out a googolplex?
    girls brain waves voyager -We all know who this is referring to!
    how small we are compared to other things
    van gogh yourself -I want to do this too!
    be-positive-spelled-out-in-colorful-refrigerator-magnets -this one made me smile. And sort of bummed out a little bit that I don’t have the right picture to reward whomever came through trying to find this. Tell you what, let’s fix that right now:

    and group two

    “You Came Here Looking For WHAT?”:
    selective choices among low-brow tastes -AWESOME. I wanna be like the bargain basement headquarters for this!  Matter of fact, new tag, starting now.
    changing dimensions green man -green man? Like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia “green man”?
    99% of snapple facts are fake I hope you’re right
    “space porn” -ok I get that.
    disco speaker building
    fuji obey -a testament to the seductive power of the X100?
    message in a bottle in the sewer -I was with you until that last part
    oinking a goomba -I really do AND DON’T want to know what this means. Maybe I should not be encouraging people looking for this to come here.
    like raspberries but thinner and longer You ate what?
    james brown seti -what a mashup! HAH!
    why not to scream around cicadas -WTF, seriously.
    what is this

    This second group has made me laugh out loud on several occasions, while the first makes me smile in a different way.  Keep on comin’ you kooky kids!  I check the results every day and it always raises an eyebrow.  Love it!

     

    Something I like to do for fun…


    2011 - 09.10

    … is play along with my favorite bands.  In this case, it’s a recording of Soulive from Bear Creek in 2010.  I actually jam out to this little 2 minute segment a LOT.  I call this activity “home run derby” where I just kinda try to hit it as hard as I can, so to speak.  It’s an okay session of HRD here, although I know for certain I can top this.  I might delete this video and replace it with a cooler one in a few weeks.  Maybe, maybe not.  Anyway, here’s a 2 minute jamout!

    coming off of my recent string of awful youtube-centric videos, this could be considered the third entry in the series. This time the genre is “check out me screwing around on some musical instrument!” This one is actually semi-cool. I think I might record more of these in the future.

    Filmed with the Canon nifty fifty f/1.8 at 1.8! Should have backed up the focal point just a touch. Next time.

    Really Lame Videos: Unboxing and Vintage Fan Objectification


    2011 - 09.07

    First, a disclaimer: none of these videos are, at face value, funny or really all that entertaining. You could file these under “because we have nothing better to do”… which is exactly where it starts to get funny and/or entertaining. In any case, I’m setting the bar low here.

    I thought I’d try my hand at two video genres that I’ve never attempted before this weekend. The first is known as an unboxing, a raging trend that occupies some position in the zeitgeist between planking and twittering. The concept is pretty simple: you get something exciting in the mail, and then you film yourself spending as much time as possible opening it up and glorifying the contents, with the goal of arousing intolerable jealousy for whomever is watching. It helps if you have a very new or sought-after commodity to do this with. In my case I’m using the Vinyl soundtrack album for the previously reviewed iPad game “Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP”. You might say I’m delving into a sub-genre of unboxing because the item in question is something relatively obscure and nerdy. There will be a very specific subset of people who will think this is ultra-badass, and the vast majority of people will just not care, possibly at all. While this limits the potential audience, it also increases the chances of success for your ultimate goal in an unboxing video; illiciting an unbridled, disgraceful “That should SO be ME!” from the viewer. Without further adeiu:

    The second video descends even deeper into the obscure sub-genres of youtube loser-ism, which is partly what makes it so fascinating. I’m not sure what you’d call it, but let’s go with “vintage fan collection show-off videos”. Believe it or not, there are some established protocols for videos like this. Observe the example video:

    The formal rules are as follows:

    1. Have a rare, old fan that you scored from either eBay or a junk heap somewhere. Show nothing in the video except this fan, with the exception of other fans.
    2. Since this video is intended for fan collectors, and no other members of society, you must specify the fan maker, your estimate of when it was built (I failed!), and show the sticker on the bottom with the serial number, as if anyone, anywhere could possibly decipher some meaning from that.
    3. About halfway through the video you need to do something clumsy like accidentally drop your prized fan, and then drop some choice expletives so that the video is not suitable for work, children, or the sensitive of constitution.
    4. You should sound like you turned on the video camera with zero remote idea of what you were about to say, and also make some reference to living at your parents house. Try to sound bored, like you’ve been doing nothing of interest for the previous 6 hours before you started this recording.
    5. When it comes time to end the video, you need to say that it’s because you’re about to run out of videotape.

    Riding In An Ultralight Seaplane — WOW!


    2011 - 09.01

    So there we were, chillin on the SS Advanced Manoeuvres, drinking High Lifes and getting down with some funky jams, when off on the horizon this weird plane appears. I say to my buddies, Q: “is that a seaplane?” A: “why yes, it appears that it is.” The mystery plane comes in for a closer approach and yep, it’s a bright red seaplane with yella pontoons. Awesome! Then he comes in for yet another pass, this time REALLY close. After buzzing the boat, we watch this guy circle around the lake and ask “is he about to land that thing?” Spoiler alert: yes.

    We’re anchored in a shallow part of the lake where most pleasurecraft tend to congregate due to the nice sandy lakebottom, along with maybe 5 or 6 other boats. The red seaplane touches down not too far away and pulls up alongside another vessel not far from ours. After debating it for a little while, we decide to go over and talk to the guy.

    His name is Donny and we chat it up for maybe a good 10-20 minutes or so. He says the plane runs off of normal gasoline just like you’d get in any gas station, and tells a story about how he flew it all the way home from Florida once. That’s sort of extreme, considering that it probably qualifies as an ultralight aircraft, and I doubt the top speed is really all that fast. After a while, I can’t resist asking any longer; “so uhh… what would it take to get you to take me for a little spin on this baby? I can toss some gas money your way and I’ve got a sweet camera that can capture a video for youtube.”

    Answer: yeah sure, go grab your camera. I could always use some extra gas money.

    My buddy Cody rolls his eyes in some combination of astonishment and admonishment; “John… I can’t believe you.” All I can say is “aww man!”

    So I hustle back to home base and retrieve the gear, hop on this seaplane and shoot this video (be sure to hit the 1080p HD!:)

    Aww man is RIGHT.

    Earlier this year I flew in a single engine Cessna and it was definitely way cooler than a commercial jet. Being able to see forward really changes the experience. Single engine planes are really a whole different world compared to airline travel. Flying in this ultralight seaplane was like the next level of coolness beyond that–you can easily look down on either side of you. For someone afraid of heights, this thing would probably be terrifying. Me, I do have somewhat of a fear of heights, but when I’m strapped in tight, as on an amusement ride, it doesn’t bother me. The whole thing was over before I knew it, finishing with an exceedingly smooth landing. I thought that touching down on the lake would feel rough, but no, it was actually softer than a large jet landing.

    So yeah. That was really something else. I wasn’t paying too much attention to where the camera was pointed; pretty much just gawking at the world below and trying to take it all in. Donny and I both had headsets on, so we could chat while we were up there. Right after we took off, he’s like, “hey, do you mind if I put on some reggae while we fly?” And I was all, “oh man, this is the life.”

    A day to remember.

    Back Down South Again


    2011 - 08.23

    After about a week and a half of vacation in Wisconsin, I’m back in the Lone Star State again. It’s friggin hot here.

    I’ve got an overabundance of photos, videos, music, stories, etc to talk about, so we’ll get to all that soon. There may be a bit of a lull while I dig through it all and sort out the A-Sides from the B-Sides.

    Old schoolin! – The NAD 6130 Cassette Deck


    2011 - 07.17

    So a few months back I bought a turntable and now I’ve technologically regressed even deeper–Cassette tapes!

    Okay, okay, there’s an explanation for this. I’ve been really digging on the finds I’ve been picking up in the local $0.97 record bins (seriously, 97 cents!) and accordingly looking for a way to share them with some fellow funk and soul addict friends of mine. My buddy Bill has recently acquired a boat. I’ll be heading back home to Wisconsin for a week in mid-August and we’re gonna go out for a day on the lake. I asked him, what kind of musical playback formats does your nautical stereo accept? The answer – cassette tapes, dogg.

    Jeez, cassette, wow. I’m not sure I remember the last time I used a cassette tape, or recorded one. I think it’s been since like junior high. Well over a decade, whatever it was. So I needed to dig up a cassette recording device to bring along some hot jams I excavated from dusty 1970s vinyl obscurity. Enter craigslist! Some dude was unloading this NAD 6130 tape recorder which belonged to his father-in-law who recently passed on. Like a lot of good transactions on CL, the vibe I got from him was pretty much, ‘whatever man, I don’t care what this is, just get it out of here’. That’s the attitude I’m looking for! Twenty bucks, yeah that sounds cool.


    Kind of a funny thing about reading up on the Dolby NRs; I learned that there are a lot of variations in cassette tape technology! There’s Dolby A and B types of noise reduction, and then there’s Dolby C, which actually sounds WORSE if you play it back on a deck that doesn’t support Dolby C. There’s different types of cassettes too, metal ones, ferric oxide ones, Type II, etc. Whoa. This is all way more complicated than I expected. Fortunately, thanks to it’s utter obsolecence, I was able to pick up a Cadillac of a cassette recorder that should handle all of the above for dirt cheap!  Yay antiquated technology!  Check out the green reel to reel style cassette loaded in :D

    You ate what?


    2011 - 07.15

    Proudly presenting, for the berry connoisseur who has tried them all: tayberries.

    Wait, what?

    Yes, that’s right,

    They’re very similar to raspberries, with a few subtle but important differences:

    -they’re not hollow inside.

    -the shape is a bit longer and skinnier

    -the flavor is similar to a raspberry, but more tart or sour maybe (but not in a bad way), and also a bit stronger.  Their taste is a bit more potent, although not dramatically so.

    For comparison, here is a bunch of raspberries (left) next to the tayberries (right).

    Basically it’s like a raspberry variant, which still has the seeds that get stuck in your teeth, but a bit more of an exotic twist in the taste.  I’d never once seen these in the grocery store before this weekend, and I will say that if I ever see them again, there’s a 100% chance that I’ll be buying more.  I loves me some berries, and these are a treat!  Interestingly, if you let the berries ripen in the fridge for a few days, they turn even darker and the flavor gets less piquant, also changing character a bit, with a hint of what tastes like grape in the over-ripe berry.  Wierd!

    And awesome!

    Analogue Fetishism, Stage One: GO TEAM VINYL


    2011 - 05.29

    So a couple weeks ago, I acquired something I’ve wanted for years, and have been waiting a long time to purchase: a turntable! It’s a Pro-Ject Debut III USB. This puppy is decidedly unassuming in appearance, but instead has got all the pizzaz where it counts: fidelity.

    There’s something great about playing records. Maybe it’s the nostalgia associated with the format that you used to play on your parents stereo as a little kid. Or the enjoyment of physically moving your music around, touching it, and having to place the tone arm on the vinyl, instead of clicking a mouse, or pressing a button. Vinyl is the most tactile medium of music playback, moreso even than it’s analog brethren the cassette tape. For these reasons I think it has an emotional appeal to it that makes other mediums seem… sterile by comparison.

    There’s something intellectually appealing about it as well; the waveforms reproduced by the speakers essentially come from a physical drawing on the record. There’s no sampling rate, there’s no digital to analog converter trying to smooth out a bar-graph of 1’s and 0’s to reproduce the original signal. Sure, you could make a successful arguement that with the sampling rates of common digital formats, the difference is imperceptible between a signal that is pure analog versus a signal that has been converted from A to D to A again. But still. It’s neat to know that the song you’re hearing is (at least for analog-recorded source material) EXACTLY the original waves.

    Another intellectual appeal to the format is that it requires your interaction. You can’t set up an eight-hour long playlist and then go do something else while the music plays. Often when an LP reaches the end of a side, I remember my friend Craig Bauman yelling from the kitchen to the partiers in the living room “GO TEAM VINYL!” to express his displeasure that no one had jumped up to flip the record yet.

    Vinyl also makes it tedious to skip tracks, or to jump around on an album. You put on a record, and you listen to it straight through. In this way it forces you to check out songs that might not have grabbed you on the first or even tenth listen. I’ve had an interesting experience with this idea on Orgone’s double LP “Killion Vaults” which I listened to for months in mp3 format, before this turntable arrived and I was able to play the vinyl copy. Now that I am forced to listen to the tracks in the intended order without skipping any, there’s totally several cuts that I had skipped over before that are starting to grow on me now!

    Last, vinyl is hip because it has its own sound. The tone-arm, the cartridge, the different masterings of vinyl recordings versus their compact disc brethren… all these things impart a unique flavor that isn’t present in the digital-only version.

    Reviews of records are forthcoming…..