Monthly Archives: January 2011

Slice of my living room

Nefarious has obtained a cold and got to stay home from school today to rest, and I’m hoping that I can keep from getting it too badly. Other than the obvious not-at-all-healthy genetic calcium issues, I’m extremely healthy and rarely get sick so I think I’ll be alright (on that note I just finished and vaguely recommend reading The Secrets Of People Who Never Get Sick which is a shallow but broad overview of mostly folk remedies). Gonna relax now and watch 127 Hours with Caitlin.

New skull-shaped soap molds

I made some new soap molds today, taking casts in silicone off some real and replica skulls I have here. I quickly cast some goat’s milk soap in them, scented with a mix of ylang-ylang, patchouli, frankincense, salvia sclarea (ie. clary, not the psychedelic drug), orange, and thyme (Caitlin’s favorite combination) and tinted with a tiny bit of black mica (other than the white one, which is just the soap base). These are the very first soaps cast from these molds and I haven’t taken any time to clean them up or correct imperfections. Here you go:

You can continue after the break for close up pictures of everything.


Adding mock-up wheels and forks to the raw trike frame

I wanted to start by recommending some reading to people who are interested in parenting styles: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. It’s funny because today when I was at Toys-R-Us picking up some Mechano (to build a mock up of the trike forks to test some ideas about optimizing the turning radius) there was a Chinese kid screaming their head off at their mom in the rudest do-what-I-command spoiled kid freakout I’ve ever seen, and the mother was completely passive and seemed to be pretending not to hear her, quite contrary to the aggressive parent described in the article. Anyway, the gist of the article is that Chinese parents are willing to tell their kids that they’d damn well better get an ‘A’, whereas Western kids should just “try and do their best”, and a Chinese mom can say “lose some weight fatty”, but a Western mom tiptoes around weight issues lest they cause a complex. Anyway, it’s worth a read.

Today I did a little more work on the trike, dropping in temporary rear wheels to figure out where the axle will lie, and also building a mock-up of the front forks. There will still be changes but at this point you can get a much better idea of the end product. You may be worrying about the rather extreme rake that I’ve got on the front end, and whether or not it’s going to be able to turn inside an acceptable radius. As I mentioned, that’s why I got the Mechano today, so I have the same concern. That said, this is no more extreme than what I’ve seen on the gorgeous trikes from Phoenix Trike Works (which were an inspiration in the design of my “electric wheelchair chopper”). That said, if you look carefully at theirs, the hinge and the forks are not parallel like they are on my mockup — the angle of the hinge is more “normal” than the extreme forks — and I’m certain that this engineering decision was made to allow the trike to be able to do a U-turn in a normal street. I suspect that I’ll end up doing the same on mine.

I want this vehicle to be street ready for spring, so I’m going to place the order for the fiberglass supplies shortly (I’d considered using more exotic materials, but since this is very much a learn-as-I-go project, I think it makes more sense to waste some cheap fiberglass tape than to destroy a roll of carbon fiber). I’ve been looking at all my options in the e-bike world for a driveline, mostly looking at various hub motors because they’re so space efficient, but I’ve got some limitations because I definitely need reverse, a feature that is pretty much never used on bicycles.

Somewhere in all this negative shit is a dollhouse

Disclaimer: Totally not proofread or spellchecked!

You know what, if you’re sick of hearing about death and doom, just look at the pictures and read the short paragraph before them. Otherwise, enjoy my rambling about today’s explosive-propelled prescription of “traditional American values”

I’m sure everyone knows by now of the assassination (or assassination attempt if she miraculously survives a point-blank bullet to the skull) of a Democrat congresswoman that happened earlier today. It doesn’t look like it’s a Tea Party nut-job acting directly on the “Don’t Retreat, Reload” or “Second Amendment Remedy” call to arms slogans of Sarah Palin et al (who I’m sure you know recently posted a map of the US with crosshairs on her list of “targets” including this woman) — crazy crap that only the far right could get away with (imagine if Muslims said such things) — but who knows, since some of his web postings make him seem like a odd combination of libertarian and far left kook. Either way, I think one can say with conviction that the violent rhetoric of the far right has come home to roost. It’s really no surprise that the constant references to militant revolution coming from mainstream politicians (I mean, this woman’s opponent held a rally in which his supporters could come and shoot an M16 with him), in some ways it’s surprising that it took this long for it to occur. The environment they’ve created make Jefferson’s famous “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants” quote seem like something rational and politically mainstream.

It will be interesting to watch it unfold over the next little while (especially with confirmation bias making everyone turn the shooter into their own personal enemy), and I’m sure it will be sickening to watch the way everyone tries to spin it. For the conspiracy minded, let me quote from the CIA assassination manual (“A Study Of Assassination”, distributed to their operatives in the 1953 Guatemala coup) that says in its section on choosing the right assassin,

“In lost assassination, the assassin must be a fanatic of some sort. Politics, religion, and revenge are about the only feasible motives. Since a fanatic is unstable psychologically, he must be handled with extreme care. He must not know the identities of the other members of the organization, for although it is intended that he die in the act, something may go wrong. While the Assassin of Trotsky has never revealed any significant information, it was unsound to depend on this when the act was planned.”

A lost assassination is one in which the assassin is intended to die, which seems to have been the case with today’s act since the killer posted videos and blog entries to this effect. And he definitely does seem like a fanatic, as some 2012 apocalypse nut combined with an pissed-off-at-the-world angsty university philosophy major that’s in way over his head intellectually, and is splitting with disillusionment as his youthful idealism shatters and he starts seeing our flawed world for the unfixable mess it is. The kind of guy that agrees with what God did with the flood — rebirth the world by carpet bombing — and isn’t old enough to have the wisdom to see what an asshole Genesis-era Yaweh was. However, for all I know it could also be as simple as Islamic bombers — suicidal people trying to find a way to kill themselves with “honor” and a spot in history (and the more I think about it, the more I believe that “suicide by police” is the most plausible primary explanation, although there are almost certainly many levels of meaning here). I don’t even want to think about the effect this could have on the US, given the overreaction and resultant death of liberty that we’ve seen after every wound the nation has suffered be it 9/11, Columbine, Waco, or whatever other excuse for abuse. America is already way too much of a scary and messed up place. I don’t envy the citizens that are trapped there. Gosh, can’t Americans just listen to Rodney King’s simplistic “can’t we all just get along” plea?

By the way, I’m sure that champion douchebag (which, independent of multiple scum-rape accusations, even after talking to him only very briefly I’m willing to bet on Julian Assange of Wikileaks being extremely happy that he’s out of the media spotlight. I’m sure as well that the right is beyond relief that the assassin isn’t a card-carrying tea partyer and that now they can twist this to their advantage — especially with crazy let’s-start-another-Civil-War quotes like what Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) said — after ridiculously claiming that Republicans in America are “behind enemy lines” no less — “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous … because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing.” And of course Jefferson didn’t mean like metaphorically. Just like jihad can mean internal spiritual struggle to some Muslims, and let’s blow up some Jews holy war to other Muslims, there’s revolution of ideas, and there’s bloody revolution, and invoking Jefferson to clarify what she’s saying makes it real clear that she’s talking about the latter.

The last thing America needs is another jihad pointing its way.

In more pleasant news, Nefarious and I took some scrap Styrofoam that was left here by a previous tenant and turned it into another dollhouse. The architectural design is totally hers, and we did the drawing of the plans and construction together (glue gun and razor knife — it was a quick job). If it’s not obvious, it’s a house shaped like an icecream cone. She got some kid dolls (think tween Barbies) for Christmas that are going to live in it. There’s more to do on it, but you get the idea.

We had quite the blizzard here today, finally getting a heavy load of snow, so when we went out I was able to indulge in the joy of doing sliding donuts in the parking lot of Home Depot (I had to pick up some parts for completing the trike frame). I’m very very much looking forward to this Wednesday though, as I’m headed to the doctor and am assuming they’ll be increasing my medication. Even though I feel like they’ve got me headed in the right direction, I’m still in a significant and constant drone of pain that’s starting to wear me down very badly. I’m trying very hard to play their game — I’m terrified that if I do what instinct tells me, to self-medicate in a desperate quest to find peace for even one small moment, that they’ll terminate me as a patient and I’ll have nothing — but I hope that they can understand how essential it is that they listen to my agony. What I think they have trouble understanding is that when they say to me, “rank your pain from 1 to 10″, and I tell them that it’s gone from an eight to a seven (or whatever) that it doesn’t mean shit… If the pain is constant and you don’t have a single moment ever where you’re not being tormented, that even a one will eventually bring you to the end of a rope. It might take longer, but the sad and desperate resolution is the same.

Why oh why couldn’t the assassin have made a helpful sociopolitical statement? At times when my pain has been unbearable and I’ve been filled with agony-fueled rage against the long line of doctors unwilling to help me I’ve fantasized about going on a suicidal shooting spree at my doctor’s office simply to attract media attention to the plight of those with chronic pain. The incredible cruelty of pain treatment guidelines is mind-boggling. I’ve never understood how the medical community can treat patients the way they do. I try not to think about it, because the injustice of it is heartbreaking. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Pretty much every pain patient I’ve ever talked to is driven to madness by how willing doctors are to watch us suffer. Given that there are simple cures for the majority of pain, it’s indescribably wrong that they’re not given just because there are people without pain that treat these medicines as narcotics instead. Maybe I should be more angry at the false moralizing politicians who pander to the “war on drugs”. Either way, the politicians win their election and addicts still get their drugs (while drug dealers make a fortune and junkies help our world decay as they turn to crime), and millions of pain patients keep on suffering atrocities.

When I was younger I may have gotten a sick pleasure from watching what a cultural catastrophe we’re evolving, but these days, especially with a young daughter who’s going to have to live with the consequences of our short-sightedness — not just on the above bullshit, but on global warming and overpopulation and all the other greed-driven mistakes we make — I end up filled with a nausea that no amount of Dramamine will ever subdue.

But yeah, the outside world descends into violent madness and my body painfully destroys itself from within, so I do my best to enjoy building dollhouses and drinking my coconut juice (that’s not some strange metaphor — I really love drinking coconut juice), and use those small joyful moments to help me smile for the camera one more time.

This entry is much like the one before it…

…Only the flavor has changed. I decided it might be easier to work on two paintings at once, so last night at midnight after Caitlin was in bed I snuck off into our front room where I could work without bothering anyone, and about two hours later I returned with the canvas all sketched out in pencil. I’m sure it’s obvious but that’s a portrait of martyr and S&M idol St. Sebastian.

I also took another one of those EL shirts and converted it into a music-responsive object for Nefarious’s room, this time heart shaped rather than a graphic equalizer sort of animation. For this one I sandwiched the active sheet between a couple pieces of plywood (here it is unpainted), and also built a wooden stand into it. Nefarious has it up next to her stereo.

Speaking of shirts, I was happy to get my order from ThinkGeek yesterday, which included my oldschool Dungeons&Dragons shirt (I have that very manual, from the late seventies boxed set sitting near me on the bookshelf), as well as an awesome Luxeed colourful lighted key keyboard (that picture shows all the keys lit up, but I have it set to “spark mode” which only ignites the key when you press it, so it looks very cool in the dark). The keyboard has a nice feel too, sort of a soft matte rubber.

Other than that I spent a few hours shaping the trike frame some more (soon it’s going to be time to start ordering the Kevlar or whatever composite tape I wrap it in, and then the various components for the driveline). I’ve switched to a blade now, but I did most of the work with my Dremel, and my hands are aching. It gives me some insight into the hell that many tattoo artists are burdened with from the heavy (in comparison to a pencil) vibrating machines destroying their hands. Today after school we went sledding so I’m actually rather sore overall. I’m sure I won’t, but I really need to try and take it easier because I’m grinding myself down faster than I should. Anyway… Hope everyone is well and has a good weekend.