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My Flatware Is Better Than Yours April 29, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Art.
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The title is a bold claim I know, but…BEHOLD!

Just admit it, you WANT this.

Note that this stainless steel flatware, not silverware. I’m not comparing this to your silverware handed down from your great-great-great-great-great-grandma that was made by Paul Revere hisself. Just so we’re clear on that.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Clap Your Hands April 28, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Music.
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A fun video and a neat song.

Double shot:  this one is great too.

In a just world Sia is the superstar and Gaga is the sideshow.

A Nart Project April 24, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Art.
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Behold The White Tree of Gondor

Really just the gesso tree of North Las Vegas

A while back I came across an article on some website where there is a guy who finds old dead trees in the desert that are still standing and he paints them in really bright colors. They look really cool and I wish I could find the article but nothing is turning up. Anyway, as it just so happens I have a bonsai tree that succumbed to a spider mite infestation last year and it’s been sitting around on my porch for the last few months. I thought maybe it might be good for a model to draw from & whatnot but that article gave me another idea.

I don’t know what paint that guy used (probably exterior house paint), but this situation is a bit different because of the scale. Originally I thought of using acrylic paint as it’s very opaque. But…it’s necessarily kinda thick. A lot of the finer branches on a bonsai are very thin and probably would get a bit globby. Sure you can thin acrylics with water but you sacrifice opacity and that wouldn’t look very good. I thought I would have to strip out the small stuff and just go with the major structures, but then I had a major idea this morning; I can pre-paint the tree with thin washes of gesso first! Gesso, for you non-nartists is a white base substance that we prime surfaces to paint on. It’s usually as thick as acrylic paint but you can thin it out with water. I did so and started painting the bonsai with it on Saturday. What you see above is with two coats done with a small brush. What does this get me? It means that I can use watercolors instead and that opens up some wonderful things.

This particular species has a papery bark that has an “iffy” relationship with the tree itself. It’s kinda crackly and easily peel able. It was like that even before it died and has only increases those characteristics post-demise. Still, it’s an interesting characteristic and I want to try and preserve it as much as possible. The thin gesso does this beautifully. It binds the remaining bark to the tree and strengthens it too while leaving the essential structure intact. It will need at least one more coat, probably two.

After spending about 3.5 hours  of hand painting two coats on the tree and getting near the thick Pain In The Ass cluster at the top I remembered that I had a perfectly good airbrush that would have made a quick, thorough work out of doing this at a fraction of the time. Mmmm, but the quick & easy aren’t always the best ways and after a few moments of reflection I understood that the manual painting of gesso required me to really learn and understand how fluids move on complicated surfaces and structures of this tree and it was valuable practice for the final paint job. I went ahead and finished it off by hand last night. Also, this four hours of an intense scrutiny of a tree’s structure from all angles. That’s actually pretty useful exercise all by itself. That said, I still plan to finish of the gesso application with the airbrush today.

***Udate***

Airbrush done and it probably isn’t going to get any whiter than this. The next stage is going to be tricky and involves plaster. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it either.

Happy Easter everyone!

Birthday Swag And Other Things April 22, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Home, Yorling.
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Some of my purchases are just coming in over these last few days.  Let’s check them out.

First up, stainless steel tumblers from Napa Style:

For some of you those might look somewhat familiar as I previously purchased the copper versions last fall. There was a bit of a problem with these though. A guy from Napa Style called before they arrived & said that some were defective. Sure enough they weren’t quite flat on the bottom and wobbled so I returned them. This is the second set. They’re still not quite perfectly flat but they’re better than the previous ones. I’ll just keep these. My new flatware was on backorder but got shipped today so I look forward to getting that. They kinda match these tumblers.

Next up – One titanium spork to rule them all, one titanium spork to find them. One titanium spork to bring them all and in awesomeness bind them:

Spork of +5 to Awesomeness

It’s considerably bigger than the ones you can get over at Think Geek and prettier too. You can find these bad boys over at American Kami. Once you buy your spork make sure to drool over the knives the guy makes too.

Finally, there’s this:

More Leathery Goodness

Yes, it’s another piece of Saddleback Leather and this time it’s one of their backpacks. It’s another one of those slightly irregular Dave’s Deals that they put up from time to time at a discount. No, I don’t really have a use for it at the moment but…shrug. It’s just as wonderful as all their other stuff with pocketses everywhere inside & out.

As for Other Matters – I won’t shut down the blog after all. It seems there’s enough of you willing to put up with the abuse of irregular and infrequent posts of questionable quality and content for me to continue abusing you in such a manner. Thanks! The Motorcycle – no movement on this. A couple weeks ago I managed to completely jack the shit out of my back to the point where I had to take time off of work because of the pain. I had a long weekend last week where I just took it very easy and it’s a lot better now. It’s not quite 100% but I’m certainly well on the mend. No I don’t know what happened, I just woke up last Saturday morning in pain and it just kept getting worse. Welcome to year 41 I guess.

I got some other stuff and recommendations for y’all tomorrow. See you later!

Hanging My Hats Up April 13, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Home.
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I bought a nifty selection of nice hats from various places (Head n’ Home being one) over the years, but I didn’t have a place to properly display them. My little house doesn’t have many places that would be good for the typical hall tree type hat rack and and those niches are already filled. I do have one space that is good for a horizontal rack but it was one of the rare situations where The Internets failed to offer up a good product for my need. Oh there’s plenty of stuff for baseball caps and the like but my collection is of the more wide-brim variety and nobody seems to design for that much anymore.

I mentioned this to my Dad a couple months ago and he offered to make me one. I drew up the basic design of a peg & shelf system that I had in mind with the basic dimensions derived from the hats and Dad modified a bit from that plan. He picked out some alder wood pieces, we decided what would be made from what and he got to work.

Aside from the pegs which I turned on his lathe he crafted, assembled and finished the whole thing. This weekend we installed it on the wall above my bedroom TV stand. It’s screwed directly into the studs of the wall with some brass screws and it looks fabulous.

This post topic presents a too-perfect segue into the next topic to pass up:  I’m hanging up this blog hat soon as well. As my 3 or 4 readers are well aware, my posts are few and far between these days and don’t really have that much in content anyway. I’m not sure at this point if it’s just going to be an extended hiatus, or a permanent bow-out. I’m leaning toward the latter. I still have a few posts before the final “Thanks & Goodbye” but I wanted to give y’all a heads-up about what is coming down the road in a bit.

Don’t Go Anywhere With It April 11, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Politics.
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Somebody at the keyboard of American Express’ Twitter account posted this today:

American Express is Expressly Pro-Abortion.

It was quickly deleted but alas, that ol’ Memory Hole doesn’t work as well as it used to. I’ve had an American Express blue card for years. I won’t be for much longer.

***UPDATE***

From American Express: “It appears our Twitter account was hacked – the Planned Parenthood tweet was not from Amex. We have re-secured our account.”

I looked into this myself. The original tweet was done via something called a “Tweet Button”. There are a bunch of twitter applications out there and they put their own little stamp on them. Mine are often from Tweetdeck and they say so. I looked into what a Tweet Button was and it is something that any website can put on their site so people can directly tweet a link to an article presented there. In this case it was an article from iVillage. The content of that tweet wasn’t created by AmEx, but it WAS done from someone logged into their twitter account. In all probability it was done by accident by someone in their social media team who thought she was logged into her own account while she was surfing around and wanted to share with her friends. Or perhaps one of them wanted to know how that worked and hit the button without realizing what it would do.

So that’s my verdict – an employee accident and certainly not a declaration of American Express’ official corporate position on an extremely polarizing social issue.

Buying A Motorcycle April 9, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Science & Technology, Yorling.
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Get Your Motor Runnin’

In about a week or so I turn 41 and I’ve decided to get myself something nice this year. Back in the early 90’s I had a Honda Rebel and it was really fun to ride. Oh it was in terrible shape and laid down a couple times judging by the dent in the gas can and the fact that the rear turn signal lights were scraped off. That last fact I hadn’t noticed for at least a couple months. But I was poor and it was only $500. I eventually got rid of it after realizing that repairs were costing me more than the bike was worth but still I recall it fondly. The funny thing about that particular model was that it generally resembled a Harley-Davidson Lowrider and it fooled people from time to time. Once while I was getting gas a kid nearby suddenly exclaimed “Woah! Nice bike!” Then he looked a little closer and his lip curled into a sneer and said, “Oh, it’s Honda” and turned away. Ah, screw you kid.

Anyway. I didn’t know much about motorcycles then and I still don’t know much about them now, but that don’t make no nevermind. I can also afford something a bit nicer than that one certainly. The question now is, which one? The last week or so I’ve been talking to a couple guys at work who have owned bikes in the past and one of whom just recently bought a brand new Harley-Davidson trike and he made a few suggestions. One thing he warned me off of was any kind of chopper with the big extension on the front wheel. He said that they’re often uncomfortable to ride and somewhat more difficult to control. One suggestion he had was to look into Honda Shadows. I looked. And I liked. Check a couple out:


This here is the Shadow Spirit. Nice eh? Below is it’s sibling the Shadow Aero:

There are a couple more variants in the shadow line but I don’t like the looks as much. The engine size on these things is 745 cc. Currently my price range is four to five grand and I can just pay that outright without needing to finance anything. And it just turns out that there are quite a few of these in the general area with fairly low miles for that price range. Cool! Of course…five grand would make a pretty nice down payment on something a bit nicer though wouldn’t it? Hell, brand new these things are at the seven grand base price. Honda makes a few others in the Cruiser category that look pretty nice too. This is more the style I’m interested in. I’m not going to go off-road with a bike and I’m not interested in the crotch-rocket types either.

Of course, when looking at motorcycles one inevitably starts looking at the Harleys. I’m resistant to them for a couple reasons: first is the expense, second is the reliability (not a good reputation frankly), thirdly is the sound – they are just too freaking loud. Still, I went and prowled around their website for a while yesterday and I was surprised at the prices as a lot of them aren’t really all that expensive. And if I finance with 5k down for three years I can get one of these with monthly payments around $326:


Folks, meet the Harley Davidson Wide Glide. Wide Glide, meet The Folks. Hmm. This is actually do-able people. Of course with a Harley you’re buying into a whole culture / lifestyle thing that goes with it. I’m not entirely certain if that’s a net positive or negative. Any motorcycle comes with that to some degree sure, but H-D is definitely more so. So. Decisions, decisions.

It Is Snowing Here April 9, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Strange & Unusual.
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In April. In Las Vegas. This is nuts. Thanks Global Warming!