Teen Bot (reading the personalized license plate in front of us): wordman?
Evyl Robot Michael: Worst. Superhero. Ever.
ERM: “So, what’s your super power?”
ERM: “GRAMMAR!!! I KNOW WHEN TO USE ‘WHO’ OR ‘WHOM’!!!”
ERM: “Yeah, lame.”
Teen Bot (reading the personalized license plate in front of us): wordman?
Evyl Robot Michael: Worst. Superhero. Ever.
ERM: “So, what’s your super power?”
ERM: “GRAMMAR!!! I KNOW WHEN TO USE ‘WHO’ OR ‘WHOM’!!!”
ERM: “Yeah, lame.”
First off, let me say that the reason I allowed you to continue to flirt with my wife while I was standing right there is that a) I was not in the least threatened by your antics and b) she seemed to have the situation well under control herself. I have my myriad reasons for marrying a capable woman, and this is just one of many examples. Allow me to give you some tips on wooing women in the future, that you may one day have an opportunity to pass on your genetic code, as I already have.
1) If you have to inform someone of how “smooth” and “dead sexy” you are, it’s probably not true. It’s kind of like when a man describes himself as “a good Christian” or when a woman is wearing pants that read “bootylicious” across the seat. If it must be asserted rather than observed, you’ve likely already lost your audience.
2) I won this woman’s heart and made her my wife when you were like nine. Our marriage is old enough to drive. You are closer to our son’s age than you are ours. In case you hadn’t noticed by the way we hung around together, neither of us is exactly “looking,” and we keep each other fairly *ahem* satisfied. It’s obvious to everyone else, even if you didn’t catch it, so be more observant in the future.
3) If you are going to prance around shirtless and announce how “dead sexy” you know you are, you might consider hitting the gym once in a while. If you can’t afford a gym membership, hit up the local GoodWill and pick up a doorway chin-up bar and also do a few crunches. You probably didn’t notice that my abs are clearly visible through my shirt, and I see no need to go without it. It’s okay to not have as much muscular definition, or to have a soft spot here or there, but don’t be in abject denial about it.
4) When you approach a lady and proceed to lay out your “smooth moves,” starting the conversation by describing how you are “working on” another young lady and that you have “stolen” her from your “best friend” is probably a deal-killer straight out of the gate. Your approach was so amusing that we both wanted to see where you were going with this, from the perspective of sheer, morbid curiosity.
5) When you want to win someone’s affection, either platonic or otherwise, it’s best to keep the talk about yourself to a minimum. In fact, you might be better off just letting the other person do the talking and respond when appropriate. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
5) It would not be difficult for me to end you with my bare hands. The next husband you come across might not think your display was so humorous, and may not practice as much patience and restraint. If not for your chances of getting a date, then for your chances of seeing old age, do yourself a favor and leave wives alone.
6) Some people can handle flirting and alcohol. You are clearly not among those. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. If you want to get anywhere in the future, choose either flirting or alcohol. You probably don’t realize this, but booze does not make you more attractive nor charming.
7) At the risk of sounding conceited even if she were closer to your age and single, my wife is way out of your league. She said so to me in those words when we were laughing at your expense later at home. Failing my advice on developing your communication skills, drinking habits, and fitness, it might not be a bad idea for you to lower your standards or find girls with low self esteem.
So, as a man who has been happily married to a loving wife for sixteen* years, I leave you with these seven nuggets of wisdom. May they serve you well as you go out into the world. I wish you peace and prosperity, and great success in your future humility.
*Oops! Edited to correct the years of matrimony. It’s been long enough it’s easy to lose count!
Since we’re half way through September and this is the first I’ve mentioned it, it’s probably clear and obvious that I didn’t get into hard participation this year. Suffice it to say that I have been wearing my kilt, and telling curious bystanders about the campaign, but I didn’t sign up for a donation team this year. Please don’t think for one minute that I’m not supporting this cause. On the contrary, my son has family history of prostate cancer on both sides, and I want this thing fixed before he’s old enough to worry about it. Take a minute and watch this video that he and I made, discussing KTKC:
Those wooden roller coasters are bumpy! Yes, we are on a roller coaster in that video, and yes, I was wearing my 5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt. Some of the teams this year are pretty special friends of mine. I was going to post recommendations on whose team to donate through, but it’s ultimately all going to the same great cause, and all of these guys are working hard toward it. So, get kilted, get checked, and make your donations here.
In past years, our son has kind of lost his mind over summer breaks between school years, and the ensuing fall has been quite a struggle. So, in the last few years, I’ve assigned him projects to complete, not to fill up his break or keep him busy, but to keep the brain active. Two years ago, I had him write a research paper on the Soviet Union. Last summer, he read The Diary of Anne Frank and worked on video editing and digital music composition. This has successfully eased him into the last few school years, so I think we’ll keep doing this until graduation. This year’s project is to learn to design video games and Android development, with the end goal of publishing a downloadable game on Google Play. This assignment came with the disclaimer that I didn’t really know how much work that would entail, and if it turned out to be an unreasonable goal, we would reevaluate and revise if necessary.
This week Teen Bot is taking a video game design class. It’s a workshop offered to local area youth for four days this week for seven hours a day. Yesterday morning, I got up, took him to the grocery store to pack him a lunch, and dropped him off at the community center. I was quite excited for him, and admittedly a little nervous to entrust him to strangers. It’s odd how we as parents do that. I know full well that he’ll soon be an autonomous adult, but I still can’t help but be a little protective. I returned to pick him up in the afternoon, and he was excited to tell me about his day. He used some kind of game design program to make two video games, one of which includes three levels of play. Of course, I’m looking forward to hearing about today’s experiences this afternoon.
As we made our way home, he asked me, “did you see that phone back there?”
“No I didn’t,” I responded, “what and where?”
“There was a smart phone lying in the street right back there,” he said.
Imagining some deprecated piece of junk phone roadkill, I humored him, “do you want me to turn around and go back for it?”
“Yeah, I do,” he said.
So, I turned the truck around, and he pointed out the device in question, lying in the street as he said. As we passed it, it appeared to be intact. I turned around again and instructed him, “I’ll pull up, and you can reach out the door and pick it up.” When he retrieved the phone, we could see that it was an AT&T HTC in a sturdy case with a screen protector. This was clearly someone’s baby, not their beater. I don’t know the HTC models very well, but from the lack of wear, I would say that it was not very old. I figured once we got to the house, I’d try to figure out who it belonged to and reunite it with its owner.
When we got back to the house, Teen Bot began to gather the phone up with his lunch bag and other stuff. I stopped him and said, “why don’t you let me take care of that phone?” I took it back to my desk to try to figure out what to do with it. I thought maybe I’d browse the contacts and see if I could get in touch with a family member of the owner. When I hit the power button, it brought up a lock screen asking for a password. Great. A quick Google search gave a few suggestions on how to hack past the lock out, using a PC and Android exploits. Red flag. I pulled the case off of it to see if there was a serial number or other identifying marking in the battery compartment. Not being familiar with HTC products, it was not immediately clear how to open the battery cover. I put the case back on the phone, wondering what to do next.
And then it rang. The caller ID came up as just a number, evidently not in the contact list. I answered the phone in my friendliest, warmest tone, but there was no reply. “Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you, if you can hear me.” But, there was nothing on the other end: no voice, no background noise, just dead silence. A few minutes later, it rang once more. This time the caller ID read “mamma.” I attempted to answer it again in the same fashion as before, with the same results. When the phone disconnected, mamma began to call it incessantly. When I tried to answer it, I still got nothing. I tried to call the local AT&T store, but I wound up in automated-message, on-hold hell, with the classic, flat, female voice informing me that all customer service representatives were currently helping other customers. There were options that she suggested, but I missed them over the cacophony of mamma calling. “Teen Bot,” I said, “let’s take this phone down to the AT&T store and let them deal with it.”
As we drove the two miles, give or take, to the store, mamma continued to ring the phone, evidently as often as was possible to connect, go to voice mail, disconnect; lather, rinse, repeat. Arriving at the store, I expected them to be very busy after my failed phone call, but they were not. As I came through the door, a sales girl, Suzie or something, diligently approached me, no doubt hoping to score SPIFFs for selling me a new iPhone 5.1sx or Galaxy S23 along with a phat new contract. Before she could say anything, I presented the HTC to her, saying, “I found this laying in the street in my neighborhood, and somebody is going to want it back. Can you make that happen? It rang a couple times, and I tried to answer it, but…” Before I could finish, mamma cut me off as the phone rang yet again.
The sales girl answered it, saying, “this is Suzie at AT&T.” *pause* “I work at the AT&T store on Blank Street.” *pause* “Yes, your phone was just turned in.” *pause* “Blank street.” *pause* “Well it’s here now, and you can come pick it up.”
I lipped “thank you” to her and left. Perhaps this will earn me some Karma points. I have to wonder what the story was on the other side. There weren’t any street rash marks on the phone or case. I can understand that stuff gets dropped by accident, but people are usually more careful with The Expensive New Toy, not that I’m being judgmental toward them. I wonder if they thought their phone had been stolen somehow, and the strange male voice coming from my end was the perpetrator of the crime. I hope not. Rather, I’d like to think that they were thankful to the anonymous stranger who went out of his way to protect their lost valuable property, and see that it was returned in a timely fashion. At the very least, I hope it made for a good story they can tell.
Standing in the kitchen:
Those quail eggs are so good. They’re like the eggs of bacon.
I’m not providing the links here for the sole reason that it seems that anywhere I click on the internet people are going on and on about “privilege.” It’s apparently the new, hip point of contention to talk about lately. The context in which I’ve seen it used insinuates that being a pale-faced male puts me at an inherent social advantage over all non-pale-faced, and/or non-male individuals. This stance automatically assumes that there is universal sexism and racism ruling our society that overwhelms all other forms of discrimination, in every meaning of the term.
When I was young, we lived in a not-so-nice part of town. My friend, Reefer, would bicycle to my house with his Crown Royal bag full of marbles and we’d play in the driveway. My dad ran off a hooker getting high on spray paint on the sidewalk in front of our house more than once. Sirens were ubiquitous and the rowdy bar down the street provided the white noise to my sleep. One time, some guy driving a school bus stole the push mower out of our back yard. It wasn’t even a nice lawn mower. At my school, either the Latinos or the black kids had the whites outnumbered at least three to one. The term ‘minority’ didn’t make any sense to me until we moved the summer before I attended second grade. I’m not about to claim that I didn’t get special treatment back then. I was a good kid, but my teachers kind of babied me. Whether that was because I was sweet-natured and well behaved, or whether it was because I was shorter than the other students and looked like Opie Taylor, I have no way to say at this point.
Jennifer and I once ran a youth hot-rodding/performance tuning group at church. We modified and tuned cars for performance with the kids, and talked to them about personal character and God. It was a pretty special time. While we were working on an engine swap in a Civic, one of the boys called from under the car, “turn it to the left to loosen it, right?” One of the kid’s fathers tried to donate a Porche 944 Turbo to the group, but complications kept that from being finalized. Since this was a decently affluent part of town none of these kids were from extremely bad backgrounds, but we had a pretty good spread of upbringing. A couple of them lived in trailers and would not be seeing the halls of higher education without hard work and scholarships on their part, and others had dads with spare Porches that they wanted to donate to the cause. I can think of two particular guys in the group that became pretty good friends that could not have been from much more different upbringings in life, but on Saturday morning, with wrenches in hand, they were equals, and they were buddies. Both of these young men were white. It should be of no great surprise that one of them is a Representative in the Oklahoma House, and is running for the U.S. Senate. He was set up for success from the day he was born. I’m not saying that the other one has no chance as such accomplishments in life, nor am I saying that Mike hasn’t worked hard for what he’s done. I might not agree on every point in Mike’s political stance, but I’m proud of both of those guys.
It is a true, unmitigated fact that some individuals start in a better position to succeed than other people. I know that I had a better start in life than my young friend Reefer. To that end, I’ve known a lot of people that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth that caused me the ache of jealousy. To claim that race is the sole contributing factor to an inherent life advantage is unadulterated, petty racism. Anyone who claims that boys are set up for greater success than girls have evidently never been in, nor even heard of a classroom; and that’s only one example to illustrate the fallacy of their sexist stance. If you believe that being a white male grants privilege over anything else in life, tell that to Sasha and Malia Obama. Those girls will get whatever education and career they ever want, and they’ll have an armed detail for the rest of their life. Now, that’s privilege. Indeed, “check your privilege” is a loser’s excuse. What the assertion boils down to is, “the only reason you’re successful is that you were born into it and I’m not good enough to seize the American Dream and make a better life for myself now.” I would be personally horrified to make such a statement. First of all, never compare yourself against anyone else. They didn’t steal the success that should have rightfully been yours. Secondly, if you’re jealous of a guy like Herman Cain because he’s such a successful businessman, instead of tearing the other guy down, tell yourself, “I haven’t made my first million yet.” Incidentally, I’m still personally in the process of making my first million.
Yesterday, after getting soaked in the rain and eating hamburgers with Jennifer’s parents, we settled down with Teen Bot and were enjoying some video games. The doorbell rang and I saw my neighbor from down the street in the monitor that feeds from the camera on the front door. He took a drag from his cigarette and immediately rushed toward the gate into my back yard. When I got to the door, I opened it to find multiple neighbors from all down the block walking in my front yard. Needless to say, I was a little confused. As I stepped through the door, the smell of wood smoke filled my nose. The man who lives across the street from me, let’s call him Joe, asked me, “is your house on fire?”
“No,” I said, “I didn’t smell it until I came out just now.”
“Well it’s coming from somewhere,” Joe said as I came out into the yard.
Just then, the other neighbor came back into my front yard with his cigarette, laughing, “it’s somebody’s grill. They’re across the fence trying to get some grilling in between the rain.”
In my confusion, I probably looked aggressive. In the rush, I failed to pull on a cover garment, and my M&P45 was in full view. Joe raised his hands toward me, and with big eyes he said, “I am SO sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“No,” I smiled and shook my head, “I appreciate you Joe. Thank you for looking out for me. That’s what neighbors are supposed to do.” I’d like to think that I’d do the same thing if the roles were reversed. I don’t know if he saw my gun or what, but he did seem alarmed there for just a moment.
Because of the topic on hand, I should mention that Joe is black. His recent bride is also black. Their kids are the best on the block, well-behaved, respectful, and confident. I’ve caught Joe when he didn’t know I was watching, gently giving them words of reproach or advice. They’re good people and a great family. His next door neighbors are another black family. She is the daughter of my next door neighbor. They were also in my yard, investigating the source of the mysterious smoke. On the other side, our neighbor is Native American. Frankly, I like my black and indian neighbors more than many of my white neighbors (but the one with the cigarette is a good guy too). I would hate to think that any of them resented me because I’m a white male, with “privilege,” in the same way that it would be quite bigoted of me to look down on them for their ethnicity. I like them for who they are and feel like they deserve no less opportunity than is granted by the privilege and benefit of living in this, the very Land of Opportunity.
The phrase “check your privilege” is insulting to all of us, all races and gender, and it should be an affront to any who ever hear it spoken. It’s a tool the talking heads and race-baiters use to fan the coals of the race war they want so badly. I don’t have time for people who give up on themselves so easily because they think their pigmentation has them locked into some kind of caste. That may be the way other societies work, but not this one. It’s an excuse to hate white males. It’s a way to give up and claim that everyone else is racist, although it is incredibly racist in and of itself. It claims that it’s impossible for me to have four out of eight adjacent neighbors that are very much not white. It’s a lie, and an ugly one at that. It’s a suggestion that when I do finally make my first million, I’ll have done it on the backs of minorities and not by my own talents, skills, and hard work; and that demeans us all, male and female, of all races. Check my privilege? No, check your attitude, friend.
*edited for grammatical and spelling errors 5/28
**and then again for the President’s daughter’s name.
As we’ve said before, we spent part of last Saturday at Super! BitCon, a show put on by our local chapter of Retro Gamer’s Society. Jennifer already posted about some of the costumes we saw wandering around the event. I’d like to focus on three of the younger ones, two brothers and their sister. Of course, the contest winner and show stopper was little Ash.
He was standing right next to me while I was inspecting wares on a vendor table. I didn’t even notice him until Jennifer pointed him out. They did a fantastic job on his costume. I had to say to him and his dad, “well done, sirs!” And, his brother…
The gaming icon himself, “Jumpman” Mario. Obviously, his costume was also well-executed. And then, there was their sister.
I was drawing a blank. She excitedly proclaimed, “I’m a *unintelligible*” She actually said it twice, and I felt really bad for not understanding that last word.
Then her dad said, “are you familiar with the game ‘Cheetahmen’?”
I laughed out loud, “of course, she’s a Cheetahman!” Then I said to her, “are you going to jump twice and glitch out and float in the air?”
“Yesssss!” her dad said.
If you, gentle reader, aren’t fully with me here, the following video will shed some light on the subject, although take it with NSFW and foul language warnings:
Again I say, well done.
Several years ago, my phone rang. I saw on the caller ID that it was my friend Wilhelm.
I answered the call, “hi Wilhelm. What are you doing?”
“Hi Evyl,” he responded, “I’m not doing much of anything. What are you up to?”
“Well, I’m killing off some brain cells,” I confessed.
“Oh yeah?” Wilhelm was intrigued, “how’s that?”
Wilhelm laughed, “Oh, you really are killing brain cells!”
Just as monks of yore are reputed to have self-flagellated, sometimes I enjoy watching a truly bad movie. However, I do not own a copy of Avatar. That’s over the line for me and I don’t have the patience to watch that much compressed bad movie for that kind of duration. It takes so much alcohol for me to endure that film that I’m going to start calling it The Last Bender. Movies based on video games are a pretty easy mark for bad content searches, with rare exception. A young friend of ours recently exposed his wisdom and said in conversation, “I’d rather watch Resident Evil movies than play the games.” Outside of the Umbrella Corp., we get the likes of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. The only line I remember from either of those films is when Johnny Cage says, “I’m in a hostile environment. I’m totally unprepared. And I’m surrounded by a bunch of guys who probably want to kick my ass… it’s like being back in high school.” Most of the time, video games make for terrible movies. Scrape the bottom of that ugly barrel, and you have Super Mario Bros.
***Spoiler alert! If you have spent the last two decades unaware of this movie, and you still plan to watch it, you might want to go take care of that before you read the rest of this. Or you know, skip the middle man and take my word for it that there are better things that you can do with 104 minutes of your life. In that case, read on.
As I may have recently mentioned, Teen Bot has gotten more into video games over the last several years, thus Jennifer and I have recently gotten more into video games. Last week or so, we came to the realization that he had not yet seen the steaming pile of a film that is Super Mario Bros. So last night, we looked it up on YouTube and gave it a watch. I had long forgotten exactly how bad this movie is. For years, when it would come up in conversation mentioned as a bad movie, I would come to its defense and proclaim, “it’s not that bad.” No, Evyl. It is actually that bad and then some. This film stands as a monument to the fact that you can start with a good cast, expensive special effects, and good intentions, and still wind up with a crappy film. I’m reminded once more of The Last Bender. The biggest problem with it is that it has almost nothing in common with the Nintendo games. It’s as though the writers took advice from Wayne’s World just a year or so earlier, when Noah Vanderhoff proclaims that kids don’t know anything and that they are easy to manipulate out of their money with crappy entertainment. I paraphrase of course, as I can’t find the actual quote with a quick internet search… *Squirrel!*
Throughout our viewing of SMB, I kept saying things like, “hey Teen Bot, in the games, did you ever notice how much Bowser looks like Dennis Hopper?”
And Jennifer would correct me, “King Koopa.”
“To-may-to, to-mah-to,” I would respond, “same guy.”
I reflected, “Daisy in this movie was a whole lot cuter when I was younger.”
“She is pretty cute,” Jennifer noted.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “but she was really cute the first time I saw this movie.”
Teen Bot simply laughed at his dorky parents.
“Hey Teen Bot,” remember in the games how the goombas were giant reptilian humanoids and not waddling mushrooms?”
“Hey Teen Bot, remember when you drive an electric car through a grungy underground city in the games?”
Teen Bot responded, “well, I guess it’s kind of like Mario Kart.”
“Yes, except completely not,” I said.
“Hey Teen Bot, remember in the SMB games when you had to recover a meter fragment from some scary chick in red latex at a club so Bowser couldn’t take over our world with it?
“King Koopa,” Jennifer said.
“Same guy,” I defended.
“Hey Teen Bot, remember all these weird people in the games?”
“Hey Teen Bot, remember in the games when Bowser was shooting a gun at you and you had to defend against it?”
“King Koopa,” Jennifer corrected.
“Hey Teen Bot, remember in the game when you shot Bowser with the Devo Gun and he transformed from a human to a t-Rex and then into Odo from Deep Space Nine and colapsed into green sewage on the ground?”
Jennifer corrected me, “King Koopa.”
“Actually,” I said, “I think he’s the President in this one.”
And yes, the Devo Gun was a pretty important plot device in the film. Evidently there wasn’t enough cannon material from the established game series to make a whole movie around, so they had to invent stuff like reptilian humanoids and the Devo Gun, which wasn’t fractionally as cool as a Dubstep Gun. But then, what is?
When we got to the scene where Daisy is imprisoned in the tower, and the cute little bipedal dinosaur wanders out from behind the furniture, chained with a metal collar, Teen Bot said, “what is that supposed to be?”
“I’ll give you a hint,” I quipped, “in the game you might ride him around and make him eat goombas and stuff.”
“Oh, it’s Yoshi?” he said.
“Yeah, but they might have gotten the scale a little off,” I replied.
Throughout the duration of the film, neither Mario nor Luigi stomp on a single turtle or mushroom. They do not collect any 1-ups or fireflowers or leaves or capes. Neither of them dons a frog suit or a tanooki suit. Not once do they pull a flag down a flagpole nor do they enter any castles. They don’t collect cards or throw turnips at the bad guys. There is a character named Toad, but he’s a minor character that gets turned into one of Koopa’s minions who goes rogue to help our ‘heroes’ escape. They may as well have named him Earl for as much continuity as they bothered with. I mean, he doesn’t even wear a ridiculous poofy hat!
“Hey Teen Bot, remember that random woman in the game who steals the meteor fragment so she can merge the worlds on her own?”
Indeed, this movie would have been marginally better if they had made it as a stand-alone story and not affiliated it with Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Granted, that would not have saved it as a film or made it anything that it is not already, but of many flaws, its most glaring is the fact that it is supposed to be a SMB story. IMDb gives it a marginally higher rating than Spice World, but I’d highly recommend the latter over the former if you are after some brain rotting entertainment. It is no small wonder that we haven’t seen The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, or Metroid on the big screen or any other major title video games for that matter. SMB was the nail in the coffin for any such enterprises. Nintendo and Sega respectively, as well as many other game programmers heeded this film as a clear warning of the worst case scenario and said, “Oooooh no. We’re not going to let you do that to any (more) of our beloved core characters.” And for some reason, writing this post makes me want to grow my hair long, put on a flannel shirt and Doc Martens, and listen to some Nirvana or Cranberries while drinking Crystal Pepsi.
Haphazardly throwing meat on fire will get the job done, but properly rubbing it and painstakingly monitoring temperatures produces better results. I think we proved this with pork ribs, beef brisket, and even squirrel.
It’s always a good time for recreational archery, and a worn out archery target is not at all useless. Please see below.
You know the party has warmed up when the swords come out.
It’s awful fun to hack up a used up archery target with a Scottish claymore.
Sitting by the smoker all day is simultaneously relaxing and exhausting.
No matter how well organized you think you are, you will forget something. Targets, tripods, the other camera, revolvers…
Shooting is a depreciable skill, and I personally am not putting in nearly enough trigger time lately.
Rifles should always outnumber people 2:1 in any civilized gathering. A higher concentration of them is even better.
With many thousands of dollars worth of hardware laying about, sometimes it’s the $4 vinyl decal that steals the show.
Trophies make good targets.
Pulling out a life sized mannequin and placing her downrange will excite a line of shooters the same way the ice cream truck does kids in the park.
And then, a half pound of Tannerite will blow her into more pieces than you can count.
If you want someone to try your gun, seize the opportunity to shove it into their hand along with ammo at the first opportunity.
There’s no better way to wear yourself into exhaustion than a day at the range.
A windy night will do remarkable things to a 40-foot tarp left out.
There’s a lot of fun to be had even on the clean up day.
Often, a $200 rifle is just as much fun as a $2,000 rifle, even when each of them was fully worth the respective purchase price. You’ll probably want at least one of each.
Make sure you have enough charged batteries for all the cameras you might want to run.
You can in fact have too many tripods. This is a relieving, good problem to have.
A home made long bow with a ~40-lb draw weight will launch an arrow at over 100fps and least 100-yards, although the arrow is nearly impossible to track with a camera.
A pound of Tannerite will reduce 120 eggs to a fine layer of goo and tiny shell fragments faster than you can say, “Woah!” Pics and stuff forthcoming.
Overall lessons from the weekend:
When the event is over, you can simultaneously be relieved to get back to normal life and saddened that it couldn’t last longer.
The third weekend in March is a less than ideal calendar date for an event like this.
Sporting clays apparently reproduce. As long as we keep hosting this event, I’m confident I’ll never have to buy another box of the things. Then again, it’s hard to have too many.
There’s no way to accurately guess how much food will be needed in advance, but we got pretty close this time.
I should already know by now, but a gray tarp would be better to photograph and take video on than a blue one.
As wonderful as it is to see the friends who came, and as grateful as you can be for their attendance, there’s always room to miss the ones who couldn’t make it.
Last night I walked into the bathroom in my socks, which promptly became soaked with water. Uh oh. When I turned on the light, I saw that there was a pretty large puddle on the floor next to the pet waterer. The cord that goes to the pump was draped at such an angle that the water had dripped down it to the floor which had amassed the offending pool. Immediately I knew that this was a Teen Bot error, and decided to turn it into a teachable moment. I called Teen Bot to the bathroom and drew his attention to the cord.
“This is why it is important to make sure that the cord doesn’t touch the floor,” I explained. As we spoke, it became clear that he didn’t have an understanding of surface tension. Hoo boy. So, after we took care of the water in the bathroom, I took him back to the kitchen and drew a glass of water, narrating what I was doing along the way. I ground some pepper onto the surface of the water until the surface was well speckled with ground pepper and asked him if he understood what was going on there.
“The pepper is floating because it’s lighter than the water,” he said. As I started shaking my head he corrected himself, “well, I mean it’s less dense than the water.”
“Nope,” I corrected, “the pepper is actually more dense than the water, but it wants to be dry and the water has surface tension that is holding it up. Now, if we take some detergent…” I grabbed the bottle of Dawn and continued, “we can’t feed detergent to the cats, which would simplify the waterer situation, but check this out.” When I dropped a little squeeze of Dawn into the peppered water. The pepper predictably retreated from the drop point and continued to sink to the bottom of the glass.
“Woah,” said Teen Bot.
I smiled at him, “Yes. The detergent breaks the surface tension and the pepper sinks. This is why science is cool and fun. You can learn how the world works in little ways like this. I love that stuff, surface tension, venturi effect…”
Teen Bot stared blankly.
“You don’t know what the venturi effect is?” I asked incredulously. Out came the same glass, rinsed and refilled. I took a drinking straw and cut two small pieces out of it. “Hold this glass for me please.” I held the longer straw segment in the water and positioned the shorter piece at the top of it, pointed at Teen Bot. I blew through the straw and the ensuing spray of water hit his shirt. He laughed hysterically. “Now see,” I said, “when you’re out to pizza with your friends, you can use that trick to spray Coke all over them and make them mad at you. Can you tell me why that works that way?”
“No,” he admitted.
“Bernoulli’s Principle? No? An airplane’s wing is flat on the bottom and rounded on top. The air on top of the wing is moving faster, so it creates a low-pressure zone and the higher pressure air under the wing lifts the plane?”
“Oh right,” Teen Bot said, “I just forgot the name of it.”
I continued, “the venturi effect works pretty much the same way. The air coming out of the straw makes a low pressure zone that sucks the water up the straw and into the airstream.”
“Oooooooohhhhhh,” Teen Bot said, bells ringing.
I know, technically nothing sucks. The low pressure zone simply gives the atmospherically pressurized water somewhere to go. I swear, I knew all of this stuff before high school. What in the world are they teaching kids in school anymore? In all fairness, it was likely taught and he simply wasn’t paying attention. I’m confident that it was memorable enough that he’ll be a little more careful with the pump cord though. And, it was a fun father/son moment as well.