The Big Think

September 13, 2009

Tribute

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 6:23 pm

Monster M.J. Arrangement:

September 10, 2009

Start of a New Decade

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:54 am

Today I am 40.

Today my blog is 6.

Wait… what’s that again? Forty? That’s funny, I don’t feel any different.

They say forty is supposed to be a giant transition- a huge number fraught with Significance and Mid-Life Crisis. That mortality slaps you in the face and makes you finally Wise Up and Get Serious. Some even claim that it’s something to shamefully hide as you try and convince those around you that somehow entropy doesn’t apply to you. BAH! I say. I’m forty. FORTY! And you know what? It’s a year better than thirty nine. I always thought thirty nine had a penultimate, timid sound to it, as if it was somehow ashamed to be so closely associated with, you know,that number. I, for one, am happy to see it go with its pansy milquetoast attitude. Begone, 39! I have no use for ye! For I am possessed of THE FORTY!

Forty has some authority to it. Some muscle. Forty says “I’ve been around the block and have seen a few things, so don’t think you can put anything over on me, chum”. Forty looks you square in the eye and doesn’t take any nonsense. Forty says that childhood is indeed truly over, but doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to… because you’re forty. It says the best is yet to come (you have to listen carefully, though, to hear it- many people miss it). How old am I?

I’m FORTY! And darn proud of it. Thanks for asking! I’m actually fairly excited about taking on the next decade. It’s usually a little intimidating to look into a new year and wonder what’s going to happen (I’m not a big fan of January 1st sometimes), but for some reason the next ten years seems exciting to me. I feel like one of those floppy-skinned puppies that is finally filling out all that extra fur and those giant feet. I also feel like I have enough confidence in what I believe to not wonder if someone is going to laugh at me. Of course, keeping an open mind is important, and I feel like I’m pretty good at that, but I’m also stubborn enough to know what I think is important and when to stand firm on those things. It’s a good feeling.

I can so clearly remember a decade ago, turning 30 and feeling like 40 was such a long way away. It’s crazy how quickly the last 10 years have gone, and I have no doubt that the next 10 will seem even faster. That’s what everyone ahead of me on the Great Timeline says, and I’m determined to keep it in mind and savor every minute of the next 3,650 days. To that end, I’m considering some 10 year goals. I have a few things in mind but need to think a bit more about them. Nothing astonishing or anything if you know me, I’m sure.

But that’s the future. This is a time to look back on the last year. Here’s a list of significant events from the Milquetoast Year:

•The big event- Last October 4th Erin’s father, Harmon, passed away. Obviously this has had a tremendous impact on both of us. It’s not something that ever really heals, and the past year has been an ongoing process of coming to terms with the loss. We had amazing support from many friends and family members and we can’t thank everyone enough for it. It’s not a good memory, but it is a milestone, and it’s been a defining event for both of us. He is missed.

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•Worked on a real live movie- In July I was able to participate in the production of Paradise Recovered. I was a one man sound department for this low budget feature film. We shot for a very hot week in Austin and two much cooler weeks in Indiana. A cast of about a dozen and a crew of not many more. It was 20 days of back breaking, sweaty, sleep-deprived work, full of all the inevitable conflicts and creative head-butting that happens on a movie set, but overall it was a fantastic experience and I’d do again. I even got a nice writeup for being the “silent sound man”. (Don’t worry, Andie, I can keep my mouth shut)

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•Finally got a new truck- about a month ago I made the plunge and bought a new 2009 Toyota Tacoma. It’s a thing of beauty, it is. This is partially due to the fact that it’s the sexiest truck on the road (that’s an objective assessment there), and also due to the fact that I came from a 17 year old busted up wreck of a truck with no air conditioner, suspicious brakes, and a suspension system that wobbled as it rattled down the road. The old Chevy was a dependable beast (in spite of its age), but the new ride has options on the options and even gets better gas mileage. What a huge change! I still can’t quite believe that we own it. Sometimes (and this is just between us) I’ll go out in the garage, take a look at it and, well, just spontaneously take it for a drive. For fun.

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•Built an entertainment center- which may not sound like a big deal, but believe me, it was a ton of work. After almost 200 hours over 9 months, we now have a solid wood quartersawn red oak Art’s and Craft’s style entertainment center standing proudly in our living room. It was a labor of love as I tried to put every bit of patience and skill in my limited experience into it. It has divided light doors, ebony inlays, and some rather clever center of gravity and wood expansion engineering (which you’ll never see, but I know those details are there). I still have to design and build the stained glass window for the lower middle section, so I guess it’s not “done” yet, but I’m rather proud of it:

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•Partied- on New Year’s eve we were invited to a black tie party at a friend’s ranch. They’re building a chapel on the property and wanted to christen the unfinished building with a big New Year’s shindig. So we put on our formal duds and drove way out to the country. The highlight of the evening was when the host (a policeman) asked for all the men with guns (mostly fellow cops) to take a group picture. The result was a truly funny photo of seven tuxedoed gents all packin’ heat. Even the episcopal priest in attendance got into the act with not one, but TWO pieces (a pistol and a shotgun)! Erin’s comment: “gee, normally I don’t really like guns, but I feel rather… protected…. right now”. Yeah baby: Don’t mess with Texas!

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•Traveled- a few months ago Erin and I took an epic road trip of almost 3000 miles. From Austin to Nashville to Cincinnati to Omaha and back. We cut out the Colorado loop due to me having to come back to work on the movie, but it was still a great two weeks (except for the rather tragic timing of being at Erin’s best friend’s house the day their sweet dog Sadie passed away). Erin and I love traveling together, love road trips, and love long vacations. Score on all three fronts!

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•Saw Shakespeare in the park- I can’t believe I’ve never done it before, but I finally got to see a production of Shakespeare in the Park. While we were in Omaha Erin and I went with her friend Anne and to watch a great performance of Macbeth. It reminded me how much I enjoy the mental gymnastics of listening to Shakespeare. We sat on blankets in the park and devoured cheese, wine, and grapes, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. An added bonus was that Anne had invited her professor friend along who specializes in… Shakespeare! Lots of fun to sit and watch the play while listening to a running commentary from an expert.

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•Picked raspberries off the vine- it’s been years since I did this, but while at Anne’s parent’s house in Nebraska City I got to pick and eat raspberries straight off the vine until my teeth turned blue. What a treat.

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•Propped- this year I was able to continue my prop building by constructing a 12 foot tall grocery bag, 8′ long working grocery scale, and a giant set of produce sprinklers. It was a long two days of work but worth it to see the props on the stage. I love building props since it gives me another creative outlet, lets me work on Sing from a different perspective, and gets me out of the studio into the shop. Plus it’s hilarious to watch my neighbor’s faces as they drive by and see these gigantic props take shape in our driveway. Bonus: I’ll be working on many more props this year. Can’t wait!

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•Built some small stuff, too- I continued building small Hirst Blocks castles and buildings from blocks I cast myself. These are usually multi-week projects since you have to cast the individual blocks and plaster pieces a few at a time (You can see my stash in the background of the picture below). Then it’s a laborious process to glue them together with hobby glue, then paint, weather, and detail the pieces, not to mention basing them and applying scenery. Why do this? Because it’s creative, relaxing, and fun. Do I need a better reason?

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•Learned stained glass cutting- while I was building the entertainment center I decided I needed to put in a stained glass panel (alas, still uncompleted). I did a lot of reading online and bought some basic tools and glass and spent a few days actually making some stained glass pieces. It was a great experience working in a new medium and something that was tremendously fun. Another Maker skill!

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•Spent another year with my incredible, compassionate, kind, and all around wonderful wife. I don’t say it often enough, sweetie, but your presence in my life is life itself. I love you.

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So do I feel forty? Well, if “feeling forty” means feeling like a big kid who is married to his best friend, getting to go to “work” every day and work on stuff I love, and getting to build things I find fun and rewarding, then yes, I guess I do.

Forty.

Fantastic.

September 9, 2009

Must Read

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 3:05 pm

David Goldhill on meaningful health care reform. Get comfortable, because it’s a long read, but it’s also really important in light of what is going on in our government. Please take the time to give it a read. It’s really good stuff.

Thanks to barry for the link.

Chalk the Vote

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:48 am

“A nonprofit group is seeking permission to write every word of the healthcare bill on the Capitol steps.

The effort is intended to draw attention to the fact that lawmakers are moving legislation they haven’t actually read. And what better way to draw attention than with bright chalk more associated with games of hopscotch than legislation?

“We’re really trying to make a point, and the point is that nobody reads these bills, including the very people who vote on them, which is ridiculous,” said Yaverbaum. “Until you read the document, you can’t really debate the document, but that’s what we all do, we all debate sound bites.”

Yaverbaum said the group has not taken a position on the substance of healthcare reform.”

full story here.

I love the fact that they’re not taking a position on the legislation. Kind of hard to argue in favor of our representatives voting on a bill they haven’t read, huh?

September 8, 2009

Teach them to Budget

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:11 am

Well, good:

“What we are being hit by isn’t a tropical storm that will come and go, with sunshine soon to follow. It’s much more likely that we’re facing a near permanent reduction in state tax revenues that will require us to reduce the size and scope of our state governments. And the time to prepare for this new reality is already at hand.”

Job Security

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 6:39 am

It used to be that government jobs paid less but the benefits were very cushy. This was the trade off a person made when they decided to serve the public good. This has changed pretty dramatically since the government began raiding the public cookie jar. Now you can get the cushy benefits and a dramatically bigger salary, and all you have to do is sacrifice for the public good!

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So is are government workers worth $30,000 more than private industry workers?

September 7, 2009

From the Department of “I’ve Got Mine…”

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:24 am

Apparently, Capitalism is evil now. Except for, you know, that 200 year history of pulling people out of economic backwardness and social unrest.

I guess if you’re a multi-millionaire like Michael Moore you can afford to advocate dismantling the system that set you up for life.

“Moore even features priests who say capitalism is anti-Christian by failing to protect the poor.”

Which just goes to show the power of selective editing and the ease of finding religious types who don’t understand Christianity.

Michael Moore is a grandstanding idiot who just wants to make waves to stay in the public eye.

September 6, 2009

What’s the Statute of Limitations on Stupid?

Filed under: Disclosure,Friends,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 12:42 pm

And now it can be told.

The night was May 2nd, 1988, and my freshman year roommate Jay called me up and said “it’s raining, let’s go!”. Jay Conder, Robert Durbin (my then-current roommate), and I had hatched a daring plan a few weeks prior to raft under the Baylor campus the next time Waco Creek flooded.

If you walk onto the BU campus and go to the bear pit, you’ll find a stinky drainage ditch running through campus. It’s really nice when it has running water, but most of the time it’s a green and scummy runoff channel that smells strongly of rotten garbage and bear offal (did I mention the bear pits is right next to it?). When it really rains, however, it turns into somewhat of a torrent as it winds its way through (and over) its low concrete channels.

Jay, Robert and I had seen it flooding after one rainstorm and got to thinking what it would be like to shoot those rapids in a rubber raft. So one day Jay went out and bought a cheap rubber inflatable swimming pool raft from Wal-Mart and stored it in his Penland dorm where he was an R.A. We didn’t have any paddles so we collected a couple of frisbees and a racquet ball racquet with the cover still on to maneuver the boat around. We figured this would be enough.

One final bit of preparation we did was to reconnoiter the creek when it was (mostly) dry. If you know the campus, you’ll know that the creek disappears into some underground drainage tunnels just downstream from the bear pits. We didn’t know how far they went or even where they came out, so on our explorations we walked into the tunnels a few hundred feet. When it got almost too dark to see, the tunnel took an abrupt ninety degree turn and headed off to parts unknown. Not having brought flashlights, Jay and I turned around and figured that we’d seen enough.

So on May 2nd a giant rainstorm came through and Jay called me and Robert up with the irresistible offer of a midnight raft trip (from what I recall it was more like 2am). We met Jay over on 8th street by the bridge in the pouring rain and he and I found a relatively calm spot to toss the boat in, followed by our ersatz “paddles”, then dive into the raft ourselves before it could be swept away. We were off!

The first few hundred feet went relatively well as we got accustomed to our new ride, but it was at this point that I realized a few things. First, we hadn’t bothered to name our craft, and setting out in an unnamed virgin vessel onto stormy seas must surely be some kind of bad sailor’s omen. The second thing I remember realizing as we were tossed downstream in what was essentially a flash flood, was that neither of us had even brought life jackets. I was relieved to remember, though, that I was a college sophomore, and therefore invincible. Problem solved!

As we rounded the bend we could see through the lightning flashes the entrance to the underground tunnels just ahead. At this point it got very quiet in the boat and I remember only then thinking “maybe this wasn’t such a good idea”. But it was far too late and Jay and I shot into the tunnel, holding onto our frisbees and racquet for dear life.

Upon entering the tunnel things went almost pitch black. We were only able to see when a particularly large lightning flash came in from the entrance behind us. The water churned crazily and Jay and I pretty much gave up on any semblance of steering the boat and just held onto the sides and tried to get as low as possible to avoid taking a swim. Not that it mattered much since the rapids had gotten even larger once we entered the tunnel. We were taking on water at a fairly rapid clip. Too bad we had forgotten to bring one of those plastic Baylor stadium cups. It would have made a great bailing bucket.

At this point we must have reached the 90 degree bend in the tunnel because the small square of lightning flashes from the entrance abruptly cut off. I think we both realized that we should have walked the whole tunnel when it was dry because we didn’t know where it dumped out, and (most importantly), we had no idea if there was a fence or gate or other “strainer” that would block the passage of our raft. Uh oh. We were also being turned around crazily in the blackness. I remember scraping my knuckles on the wall and thinking “wait a second… we’re going backwards!”. One of the walls must have punctured the side of the raft because Jay and I both heard a noisy hissing and felt the raft going limp underneath us. All we could do was hang on for dear life and pray that the trip would end before our raft gave out and we were plunged- life jacketless- into the smelly water

A few minutes later we saw a speck of light up ahead and realized that we must be nearing the end. We had made another 90 degree turn and could see the lightning flashes up ahead. But we had one more surprise in store for us. The drainage ditch, which had traversed about 3/4 of a mile under the Baylor campus, ended about six feet above the Brazos River. It wasn’t a Niagra Falls moment or anything, but six feet isn’t nothing when you’re in a leaking rubber Wal-Mart raft with only frisbees and a racquet ball racquet (and your crazy ex roommate) for company. When we reached the exit we were unceremoniously dumped from the end of the drainage ditch and pitched into the river, where Robert waited with a rope to pull us to shore, soaking wet, smelly, and half terrified, but feeling like we had just climbed Everest.

After high-fiving Robert and congratulating each other on cheating death, we examined the raft and discovered that what had sounded like a life-threatening leak in the tunnel actually wasn’t that bad, and we could easily stay ahead of the leak by simply blowing into the valve every few minutes. So with that realization, Robert said “I want a turn! LET’S DO IT AGAIN!” and we jumped in Robert’s car, drove back up to 8th street, and I stood on the shore while Robert and Jay started the whole crazy trip over. I never considered going again because, after all, it would be a stupid thing to do in a leaking raft.

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Jay Conder, Robert Durbin, Jason Young
May 2nd, 1988

September 5, 2009

David Walker

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:04 pm

“Washington is totally out of touch and out of control,” he sighs. “There is political courage there, but there is far more political careerism and people dodging real solutions.” He identifies entrenched incumbency as a real obstacle to change. “Members of Congress ensure they have gerrymandered seats where they pick the voters rather than the voters picking them and then they pass out money to special interests who then make sure they have so much money that no one can easily challenge them,” he laments. He believes gerrymandering should be curbed and term limits imposed if for no other reason than to inject some new blood into the system. On campaign finance, he supports a narrow constitutional amendment that would bar congressional candidates from accepting contributions from people who can’t vote for them: “If people can’t vote in a district not their own, should we allow them to spend unlimited money on behalf of someone across the country?”

A good article in the WSJ. We need more of this kind of talk in public right now.

September 4, 2009

Boneyard

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 7:53 pm

The Mojave Desert’s Airplane Graveyard

From the “Good For the Goose” dept

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:04 pm

A Doctor’s Plan for Legal Industry Reform

I like it!

An Organization Without Judgment or Decency

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:00 pm

Have they no decency?

No, they don’t.

Timing

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 11:16 am

Amazing ad for Johnnie Walker Whiskey. Shot on the REDONE, by the way.

It’s all about the timing.

A short interview with the director. Yes, it’s all one continuous take. One of the longest in film history.

Now That’s Nifty: Stairs that are More Cool than You

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:53 am

Now That’s Nifty: Stairs that are More Cool than You: “”

September 3, 2009

Blue Flame

Filed under: Mad Science,Technology — jasony @ 11:04 pm

The 1000mph rocket car.

Resistance is….

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 10:15 pm

…. actually pretty easy. For now.

Behold the iBorg.

Quoth

Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 1:36 pm

Our lives are nothing without the relationships that compose us and that composition is a forever changing work of art. No matter what masks we might wear to cover certain things up, try to conceal, or turn us into a conga dancing fool that kisses cops…in the end, the only thing that matters are the relationships. And that isn’t worth throwing away for anything.

R.B.

September 2, 2009

Driven

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 3:56 pm

The Bugatti Veyron is probably the very best car that will ever be produced (and I say that with some forethought). What’s it like to drive one? This.

Happy Birthday!

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 1:44 pm

A shout out to my dad, who is celebrating his birthday today. Happy Birthday, Dad!

September 1, 2009

The Real Flying Dutchman

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 7:39 pm

19 year old Jesse van Kuijk builds a giant human powered aircraft and takes to the sky.

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