Sunday, January 27, 2008

Game Table Works!

The boys and I gave our new game table a test drive:

Two Team training ground

Two Team training ground

I was really pleased with how much room we had for everything plus snacks and drinks. The Heroscape board here is 54" X 24"!

Here is the full report.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Line Theory

My friends and I from Williams, back in the day, thought up and developed over time what we called Line Theory. It became clear to us that there had to be unseen lines throughout the world. Lines that had considerable control over our everyday decisions.

I believe it started when we would go out for lunch to a restaurant that was not near work. We noticed that the clientele was measurably more attractive than the patrons of the restaurants near work. Over time it was clear that we were crossing some form of line. Crossing into a land where the attractive people were.

I will have to be honest the people were I worked were not that attractive. Sorry guys. Once in a while we would hire someone that was attractive. Most of them would not stay long, sadly. They would suddenly find a better job somewhere else soon after starting with us. It is clear to me now that it was the lines at work. Attractive people were not aloud to stay on our side of the line for too long.

Over time, as we developed the theory, we decided that there had to be more than one line. To the trained eye we could discern a couple jumps in attractiveness as we drove away from work and therefore there had to be more than one line. At this point I began to envision the lines like elevations on a topography map.

Was Williams at the center? I don't think so. There were one or two attractive people that stayed at Williams for extended periods. I think this proves that we were not at the center. Thank God.

The BIG question never fully answered was: How much did the "lines" affect and enable us getting and keeping the jobs we had at Williams? We may never know.

So now I have to ask you: Which side of the line do you live on?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Time flys even if you are not having fun.

This is scaring me more and more every day. Sometimes it is hard not to be overwhelmed by what I have left to do in life and how little time there is left to do it. For me there are two major areas of concern.

First, my kids are growing up so fast. I know that sounds cliché but it is amazingly true. They literally change in appearance overnight. What scares me most is I feel I have so much to teach them and obviously an ever decreasing amount of time to do it in. Unfortunately this forces me to prioritize the topics of learning. Focusing on what I would call the basics. I want them to be hard working, honest, men of high character. At the same time I want them to be healthy which includes learning how to be healthy. Intermixed with all this teaching I know it’s important to have fun and build fun memories. So this has been parenting to me. Find a balance between fun and tutelage. All the while I want to teach them any vocation I can like programming and game design. When can I fit these in?

Second, I have a huge list of things I want to do before I die. It would be nice to do some sooner than later. I want to do all the normal things that would be on most people’s list. I want to go to Hawaii, see the Grand Canyon, see Mount Rushmore, See Washington DC, Go to other countries like Britain, Australia, and China. There are many more.

What is funny, almost cruel, is that as I become older my vision and understanding of the world increases. So does my desire and need to see and experience more of it. Ironically I have less time to do it in.

One day on IRC I was chatting with my friends about the phases of life and how they break nicely into 20 year periods:

  1. In my first 20 years I seemed to have plenty of time but no money. When you are a kid and a teen you have no money, no real job, and often lots of time to play.
  2. In my second 20 years I had plenty of money but no time. You are starting your career and therefore working hard so you have no time like you used to have. Also you are getting a real paycheck and for the first time you have real money.
  3. Now I am starting my 3rd 20 year period. I have no time and no money. I have a real job but now I have two young kids. Which is great but they consume lots of time and money.
  4. What will my next 20 year period bring? I imagine I will have time again. The kids scene will calm down allot and eventually no job I hope. We are not very good savers so I imagine I will not have any money. So this 4th stage seems like the first one.

The last time I went to the DMV to renew my driver’s license an interesting thing happened. I had just turned 40 and therefore was only at the beginning of my current mid-life crisis. These days the DMV is not so bad they have it all down pretty slick. Soon I was in the waiting area. In the center of the front row of 4 rows of 20 chairs. I was alone waiting for them to call my name.

When this very old but spry man came to the waiting area and sat down right next to me. Not near me. In the next seat. He could have sat anywhere the area was EMPTY. So I thought clearly he wants to talk and we exchanged some pleasantries. Then I asked him “How old are you?” He was 80 years old.

Wow I thought. Here I am pissing about how old I am and he is twice as old. So I asked him: “Which was better your first 40 years or your second?” After a couple of seconds he said “My second?” This cheered me up.

Since then I have ask this question of several older people. The answer was always the second half. Will I be able to do some of the things on my list? Probably, I hope. Again it’s a matter of prioritization.

So I implore you. Carpe Diam!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Game Table Overlay

When I designed the work bench I had always thought about making some sort of addition that I could add to it to make it a game table. Then I was further inspired when I saw my friends blog where he and his friend made a similar table.

So I have had this in the works for some time but it had to go behind some other projects. But its finlay finished and now we have a 3' x 6' work bench that can also be a 6' x 4 ' gaming table:

Game Table Overlay

The green is felt cloth.

Game Table Overlay

We bought the stools at Target.

Game Table Overlay

The pictures do not show the really bad parts of this project. During this project I learned allot about staining which I had never done before. Also I learned more about selecting wood. One of the sides bows a bit. When I selected the wood I didn't think it would be a problem but after I put it together one corner is not the best if you look at it the wrong way.

Thanks to Anna helping with the covering the table with felt. We first covered it with 1/2" batting then felt to give it a nice poker table feel. We decided it was too springy for games that were not cards so she took the felt off, removed the batting, and reattached the felt.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Anna knocks one out! (two actually)

Soon after I started working on my sub-trunk Anna started working on some Corn-hole boards:

Corn-Hole Boards

We had the wood sitting around for a long time and now she had a great work bench to work on so she decided to make two sets of this game. One for friends of ours (pictured above). I think at least one of them graduated from Iowa.

She did an amazing job. They latch together and have a handle for easy carying. There is a cord to easily measure the correct distance to place them. She made the 8 bags filling them with corn.

The second set has been put on the back burner for now but will be ours so stay tuned.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Two things I had never seen before

In the summer of 2006 I saw two things I had never seen before. I was running late for work so I am guessing it was about 10am.

When I got to the on-ramp of the east bound I-290 freeway I saw it but it was too late. Something I had seen many times before; stop-and-go traffic. Maybe it wont be too bad I hoped. Either way there was no turning back. Trying to make the best of it I slowly merged off the on-ramp and slowly made my way through the walls of thick traffic to the far left lane where I am most comfortable.

It didn't look like I was going to get lucky. The traffic would stay stopped for seconds at a time and then only move forward a few feet. That's when I noticed the first thing I had never seen before. The traffic on the other side of the freeway was gone. Not sparse, gone! Had it been gone the whole time I was in left lane? I think it had. There were NO CARS as far as I could see. None. Zero. Zip. I foolishly looked backwards, somehow there must be cars back there. Of course there were not.

I think it was the stark contrast of a full parking lot on one side of the freeway and NOTHING on the other that makes this such a strong memory for me. A few times I have been out on the road driving late at night and for moments there would be no one around until finally you would go over a hill or come around a curve and there would be another car. But this was not like that. It was minutes and there was three lanes of NOTHING.

Then I saw the second thing in one day that I had never seen before. Our side of the slow moving parking lot was slowly making its way through a shallow curve. When we were about half way through the curve I saw what was stopping the traffic on the other side. About one third of a mile down a helicopter was landing in the middle of the west-bound freeway.

I remember the whole thing in slow motion like it was yesterday. As my focus widened there were a couple firetrucks behind the helicopter, a couple of police cars, and several firemen standing about waiting for it to land. As soon as it was good and on the ground two men carrying a third strapped to a stretcher came from stage right and slid the stretcher on to the helicopter. Another fireman had been holding a hatch open for them. All the while the blades of the helicopter were still spinning causing everyone there to walk hunched over.

About now I was almost next to them. The fireman that was holding open the hatch closed it and then patted it hard a couple times and started to back straight back still hunched over. The helicopter engine started to whine and the spinning blades sped up lifting the craft off the ground. Straight up at first then up at an angle.

Our side of 290 was quickly breaking up now. The traffic was returning to normal. I was getting past the rubber-necking zone which of course was the only cause for the traffic on our side. The other side was backed up, stopped, as far as I could see. Even when I got back to 70 mph I was still passing stopped cars on the other side. I was just glad it wasn't me.

Since then I sometimes have wondered who it was that was evacuated like that. Where they important? More important than me? How bad were they? and did they live? I guess I will never know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Amazing Sullivans

Soon after I built the Work Bench I started working on a sub-trunk:


I had the plans for years hoping someday I would get to build it and do the trick.

Anna made the curtain while the Boys and I started practicing right away. Soon Anna joined in with our practicing and in November we performed "Metamorphosis" in front of over 200 people at a cub scout pack meeting.

Metamorphosis is my all time favorite illusion. I first learned about it from learning about Harry Houdini. I thought he was the inventor of the illusion but he was not.

Here is the result of the practicing:

It was a big hit by all present.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Work bench

A while back I designed and built this work bench:
Work Bench

Work Bench

Work Bench

It is 3' x 6' and just the right height to be handy in junction with the small table saw I have.

I am really proud of this bench. It was my first project of any scale with wood and it turned out really good and useful. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to glue the various pieces together. Not being glued has not really caused a problem but I think in the long run it will.