Monthly Archives: September 2009

Some turret inspiration

I’ve been thinking about different ways to add a turret to the top of my truck. I thought one of the easiest ways might be to weld or otherwise attach the top of a barrel to the roof, which would provide both the walls of the turret and would have a nice waterproof screw off top. I think tonight I’ll go poke around home depot and see what fun stuff I can find. Caitlin says I’m just going to end up with a leaky roof but I think my vision for the truck has paid off so far and I have faith in my customization ideas!

Here’s a couple of trucks I’ve found online with a similar vibe (sources: 1, 2, 3/4):





A rambling entry about the last few days

I had some more blood taken today. Not as much as last time, because today’s test was a simple one, but it took a lot of poking to get it out. That’s unusual because I have overtly prominent veins, so being prodded for four or five seconds before the blood starts squirting into the tube rarely happens. The “good” news is that because of my constant pain level, were I not looking at what the phlebotomist was doing I wouldn’t have known since being pierced with a thin needle is below my pain threshhold and I actually can’t feel it at all. That’s my “cup half full” interpretation, ha.


I was at the doctors as well to get all my prescriptions set up so I’d be ready for our upcoming trip — we’re spending two weeks traveling in Costa Rica and Panama in October, exploring beaches, forests, volcanoes, and so on. We’re all (Nefarious especially) looking forward to it a lot.

I don’t really get recognized on the street much these days, in part because I have a tiny media profile in comparison to the past, and in part because I have long hair and a beard and look quite different than I did a couple years ago (sadly… I was so much more fit back then and not so fat). First, Nefarious and I popped into a Pizza Pizza out in the ‘burbs to grab a chocolate milk and a couple teens followed us in and said, “nice car!” about the zombiemobile. Then they looked me over, and said, “Were you at the zombie walk? Weren’t you the zombie being lead around by the little girls?”

“Yeah, that was me, and she was one of the little girls,” I said, gesturing at Nefarious. They told me they loved my costume and told me that they’d be going to the big zombie walk in October, with the girl going as a mad scientist and her raver buddies being zombies that she was experimenting on. I didn’t even know that ravers still existed. But it was a lot of fun for both Nefarious and I to be recognized.

Speaking of my truck, I’m thinking about welding a round turret into the roof — my neighbor is a welding artist and has offered to help — so someone can stand up through the roof (sort of like a much cooler sunroof) and shoot zombies in the brain in relative safety. I think it should look wild and will be a pretty simple mod. If I do it, I’ll do it very soon, because I’ve been asked to include the truck in one of the Nuit Blanche parades. It’s the renegade parade, and Nefarious is planning on throwing candy out the windows… Don’t miss Nuit Blanche if you’re in Toronto!


Anyway, recognition number two… We had a doctor’s appointment last night and the receptionist in the building (who didn’t know us because she works for different doctors), looked at me with her brain obviously scanning through its records, and was like, “Don’t I know you?” — “No, I don’t think so…” — “Aren’t you the guy that wrote ModBlog? (short pause) Shannon, right? And that must be Nefarious?” and then she said some very kind words. So that was very nice, because it really doesn’t happen that often.

Other than that, I almost bought a new car. Here’s a picture of it:


It’s a 1970 Iso Grifo, a really beautiful coupe designed by ex-Ferrari folks. If you follow the link, you’ll see that it sold for about $125k, which is far more than I want to spend on a car. However, I saw it advertised for $16,500, and, not immediately recognizing the car or knowing what it was worth, I opened a dialogue with the so-called “seller”. His English was poor, as he claimed to be a French speaker, and he told me that the car was located in a somewhat remote area of Quebec. He suggested that I pay for the car via an escrow service and that the car would be shipped to me, and he wouldn’t get the money until I inspected the car and approved the sale. Then I did a bit more research on the car and realized that it was radically underpriced. Radically. Then I noticed that his IP address was hopping from an AOL dialup in Virginia to a cable modem in Houston. He’d said he was travelling and thus could not meet me in person, but the IPs were still fishy. Then a bit more searching and I found the website (the one I linked) that he’d taken the pictures from, and knew for sure it was a scam.

Still, a well set up scam that could easily snare someone. The car is rare and hard to find good info on. The northern Quebec location eliminates the risk of someone asking to see the car in person. The Quebec thing also covers up the language barrier — I assume this was a Nigerian scammer like the one I interviewed ages ago. Judging by the warnings on Craigslist and elsewhere these types of scams are quite common, and I’m guessing that a lot of people get caught in them. Glad I didn’t. Of course I did report the scammer to everyone involved (I assume he’s using a botnet to send mail), and on a positive note I had fun looking at lots of pictures of Iso Grifos (and investigating him too).

Other than that I have been having crazy nightmares the past few days, I think because I’ve been doing a pile of programming work and it’s probably stimulating parts of my brain that I haven’t been using, so at night it’s doing all sorts of reordering or whatever it is that dreams purpose is. And now, off to get Nefarious from school… I think we’re going to stop by her old school and say hello to her old teachers and younger friends who are still there.

Hold Fast Sailing Documentary

I recently watched Moxie Marlinspike‘s sailing documentary Hold Fast (which you can download for free at that link or get the DVD if you prefer — here’s the trailer) about the adventures of the Anarchist Yacht Club on their rescued scrap boat Pestilence, and in it he recounts the story of the 1968 Sunday Time Golden Globe Race, the first solo circumnavigation. The race was full of “maniacs”, as he puts it (with a few other not-to-be-missed stories of sailors who are equal parts daring and crazy), and seven months in the leader by a significant margin was the French sailor — “sailing mystic” as Moxie puts it — Bernard Moitessier in his 39′ steel hulled ketch. A French armada of yachts was waiting for him at the English Channel to sail home with him from the finish line, and upon his return award him the Legion of Honor in France. He had no radio, so he had to slingshot messages in a film cannister to other boats for them to radio for him, and, shortly before winning the race, he sent the following:

My intention is to continue the voyage, still nonstop toward the Pacific Islands where there is plenty of sun and more peace than in Europe. Please do not think that I am trying to break a record. “Record” is a very stupid word at sea. I am continuing non-stop because I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul.

I find that statement incredibly moving and I tear up every time I hear it. He’d written in his log before sending the note, “leaving from Plymouth to return to Plymouth feels like leaving from nowhere to return to nowhere,” and later wrote,

I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth. A nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea.

Moxie’s documentary makes the point that because of fiberglass construction, and the fact that they keep making new boats rather than refurbishing old ones, there are thousands and thousands of perfectly good ship hulls lying in marinas and back yards, available for almost nothing — they bought the Pestilence for a thousand dollars — or even free. I remember when I was living in La Paz there were a number of abandoned boats free for the taking, some of them completely capable of ocean cruising with only the most basic repairs. Anyway, I highly recommend downloading the movie, whether you’re looking for inspiration in living your dream or whether you just enjoy living vicarious through those living theirs.


Because beards are awesome

So I’m at the park today, a beautiful little grotto full of old-growth weeping willows surrounding the playground, and there were some little kids — only about three feet away from me — whispering loudly and looking at me furtively, and I hear the word “beard”… So I say, “hey, are you talking about my beard?” to them, and the kid says, in apparent amazement, “you have a beard…”

Then he pauses, and a moment later says, “can I touch it?” — and I hear his mother giggling in the distance — as he begins reaching out his dirty from playing in the sandbox hands toward my face. “I guess so,” I say, “but your hands are really dirty so just for a second.” He wastes no time and completes the quest and touches it, and with a bizarre level of awe, tells me, “it’s so soft!”

And then he ran away and climbed a tree.


Back from Africa

First, following up a little on my previous much-commented-on post on healthcare, I wanted to recommend this Bill Moyers video in which he discusses the hypocrisy of Dick Armey and the phenomena of ultra-rich people tricking poor people to vote against their own best interest, and in the interest of the rich, through these campaigns of fear-mongering and disinformation.

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As is often the case, after the break are a great many bandwidth sucking images — sorry to my rural friends on dial-up — as well as an explanation for the image that I will start the day with.