Kate and I went



Kate and I went to Denver over the weekend for a family wedding. It was a glorious break from East Coast weather, and Hertz even had a convertible available. On the flight out, we got to meet the Amazing Bond-o Flight Attendant™ (pictured above).



We visited Rick and Mary, for whom Kate used to work at Pastime Software. When I met Kate, she was in charge of support for Past Perfect, Pastime’s hugely popular museum software product. They have a business model to die for: Rick is the tech guy — he has a background in telecommunications, and is a self-taught programmer — and Mary, with a background in museums, knows all the business processes. They work from their house, and charge small historical societies pennies on the dollar for complex DBA work. I remember my jaw dropping the first time I saw Kate writing complex merge/purge scripts in FoxPro — she was scrubbing the data for a West Coast indian nation, and she wasn’t charging the price of a small European sports car to do it.


The next day, we drove up into the mountains for the wedding, which was beautiful. The weather was dry, cool, and breezy, which is the most welcome alternative imaginable to Eastern seaboard humidity (I heard from my dad that English diplomatic staff used to get hazardous duty pay added to their paychecks because of the heat and humidity in Washington, DC.)


Afterwards, we met up with our friend Will Ronco. Will is trying to win enough triathalons this summer to get certified as a professional. He sometimes trains with Iron Man competitors, whom he describes as “passionately devoted to medium intensity.” Apparently, the Iron Man atheletes will pick an unexciting pace, then stick to it for hours and hours and hours. And they eat only healthy food, and watch only mild, unstimulating programs on the television. Will doesn’t like this devotion to medium, and proved it the next day when he blew away the competition and won a triathalon in Greeley the next day by, like, two minutes. [pictures of another race]


Kate, Will, Kate’s parents, and I all drove up to Estes Park to see more mountains and maybe some elk. Which we did, and smelled them, too, incidentally. Smelled like, um… elk. Finally, the next morning, we stumbled across a Model Boat Regatta in the artifical pond outside the hotel. There was a six-foot tanker, fully radio-controlled, all metal, and a tugboat with a working thruster that swiveled 360 degrees to give power in any direction (pictured on the right), and a WORKING SUBMARINE THAT SUBMERGED [more pictures]


So, all in all, I would rate this weekend as: pretty freaking great.

Kate and I went

The Accidental Exhibitor


The Accidental Exhibitor

For once, the weather was nice this weekend. Well, all except for the torrential downpour that washed away the West Chester Business Improvement District’s “On the roof” party at the top of the High Street parking garage. The garage’s roof was nicely landscaped, with big piles of mulch that (unfortunately) washed straight into the drains, clogging them and making a knee-deep pool around the sushi bar. Kate and I went home and watched TV.


Sunday, I went to a car, motorcycle, and helicopter show at the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester. When I arrived, I was waved onto the airstrip exhibitor area by the staff. So my black, greasy BMW is now an accidental show bike.



See the slideshow!

The Accidental Exhibitor

British Action Adventure Marionette Theatre,

British Action Adventure Marionette Theatre, and the sartorial choices it inspires



I was first introduced to the Thunderbirds by a six year old British boy in Newfoundland. He and his mother were visiting Peter Blodgett, legendary jazz banjo player, ex-RISD teacher, and noted crank, in Peter’s house at the top of Cape Nedwick in Trinity harbor (local pronunciation: “da nuddick”.) Peter’s the one who gave me the highly hip gold metal-flake helmet that’s currently in use on the Ultimate Water Gun. Anyway, the boy had a steel lunch box covered with pictures of steely-jawed marionettes wearing fast-food hats and beauty-queen sashes. They all were piloting blocky rescue craft out of an anglophile art director’s wet dream, and the effect was only enhanced by the young boy’s commentary on the show: (imagine a thick, thick, London accent in a piping declarative): “Thunderbird One goes into sp—y—ce, doesn’t it!”


Okay, so the sixties show was Highly Cool, and the lesson hasn’t been lost on twenty-first century show producers, who seem to be attempting to resurrect it, Power Rangers-style. Viz. the Burger King promotion advertised on their official site. Despite the Haim Saban effect, though, the show retains plenty of cachet. Kate tells me that Christies just sold some Thunderbirds marionettes for one bazillion dollars recently.



So here’s the reason I’m mentioning this: in a search for seventies-style Hepco and Becker panniers on the internet, I stumble across Davida Helmets, who make scooter-style “pudding basin” helmets and sixties-style “Jet” helmets that are clearly what the Thunderbirds would wear into sp—y—ce. I think that clique rules might forbid me from wearing a Brit-bike head kit (Jet helmet, Spanish octopus goggles) on a German bike, but, damn it, this is too good to pass up.


Check out the Davida Jets


I’m gonna see if I can drag Kieran and Jeremy to check out the helmets on east 56th street today. I suspect that the Jet will make my 7 5/8″ XXL head look like a ripe, round melon. But there’s always the James Bond option.

British Action Adventure Marionette Theatre,

Next project: attaching a “Mr.

Next project: attaching a “Mr. Fusion” and a flux capacitor.

A BMW Airhead is the bike that you’d want to ride on some sort of time machine journey into the past, because there’s nothing on the bike that can’t be fixed (instead of replaced.) Everything on the bike is electric, not electronic, and even the diode board could probably be fixed with some kind of rare Aztec crystal that you’d have to rescue the high priest’s daughter to get. (Um, there’s a reason I haven’t been submitting my dreams to Genevieve for interpretation: they’re pretty easy to figure out.)



This weekend, I fixed the odometer on my bike. The numbers had been acting bizarre; four miles out of the previous owner’s driveway, and my 51,000-mile Airhead had turned into a 91,000-mile beater. Another minute down the highway, and I was the proud owner of a factory-original showpiece with only 1,000 original miles on it. This kind of wild fluctuation in the value of the bike is exhausting, however, so I decided to do something about it. Plus, the trip-meter was also broken, making the fuel range a matter of voodoo, not subtraction.


Members of the Airheads list sent me some detailed stories and instructions about how they fixed the same problem on their bikes, so armed with their messages plus my 800-page Clymer manual, I unbolted the instrument cluster and opened it up. No green etched electronics inside: just black Prussian plastic and blue Prussian bayonet lamps. Sure enough, the main drive gear (arrowed) had come loose on the shaft, failing to turn the numbers and also allowing them to separate, choosing whatever figure they felt like at the time. I pulled the shaft out, roughened it with a pair of Vise grips, reset all the numbers to zero, and tapped the gear back on.Voila, it worked!


And I still had time to put the instrument cluster back on the bike and drive away before the horde of feathered Inca warriors crested the hill.

Next project: attaching a “Mr.