Bouncing from project to project,

Bouncing from project to project, I’m trying to figure out how a time traveler could derive standards of time, distance, and mass accurate enough that common physics and engineering formulas (G = 9.8m/s2, for example) would be accurate and reproducible.

I like the idea of publishing the exact length of Cheops’ sarcophagus, so a time traveler could use that to derive a meter, but I’m sure there’s a simpler way.

Bouncing from project to project,

I’ve been trying to get

I’ve been trying to get the Retropod store up by Memorial Day weekend, so that I’ll at least have finished one recent project. I wanted to make a nice gasket to hold an iPod in half-inch neoprene. Measuring and cutting with an Xacto knife leaves a wandering, haggled cut. After Googling on “neoprene gaskets” for a while I discovered that what I probably wanted was a “steel rule die”, which is basically a knife edge mounted on a piece of plywood.

I found a place in West Chester that makes dies, so I sent them an Adobe Illustrator file of the shape I wanted and, a couple of days later, picked up the die. Man, that was fun — like printing out a thing.

The next challenge was to get the neoprene to actually cut. It’s very squishy, and it takes a LOT of force to get the knife blade to pierce the neoprene all the way around. I tried jacking the car up onto a plywood, die, and neoprene sandwich, but that worked only intermittently — one corner would cut, the pressure would be relieved, and the rest would only be lightly scored.

After futzing around for a while, I discovered that all I had to do was kind of push the top plywood-and-neoprene layer down with my thumbs, working around the die in a circle. So, less industrial, but better results. Now I’m working on putting up the store page!

I’ve been trying to get

Sooner or later, everybody you blog about reads the post.

Sooner or later, everybody you Blog about reads the post. It’s because of Google, of course — everybody does a search on their own name and their friends’s names occasionally. Here’s a list of various people that have contacted me after finding various bits of this site:


  • The owner of the first-ever Mozzarepa truck in NYC.

  • Various former girlfriends of Kieran Downes find his M4K pictures online and want to know how they can get back in touch. Ditto for college buddies of Gerard Viau.

  • A childhood friend contacted me when I named him in an early post as my junior-high-school smut-mag connection. Since that dubious honor was googling higher than his online resume, I took it down in a hurry.

  • I heard from the friend of a young, Midwestern chamber-of-commerce member whose online profile I had stumbled across in my search for the Defend Brooklyn T-shirt. Since I posted the story, she had become a police officer in Detroit. This spring, she and her partner were shot and killed while sitting at an intersection. I removed the mention.

  • My friend Rommel Kott Cuellar, he of the Mexican Forklift Story, who became a SWAT team member in the state of Tamaulipas and recently apprehended an FBI 10 most wanted felon. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to mind the description I gave him. Did I mention I once talked him out of buying a tiger?

  • Some toad-biting indie-film promoter wrote me with some veiled threats: “I am concerned over similarities between your concept and ours.” R-i-i-i-ght, as if there wasn’t plenty of prior art on this concept. Frankly, I think it’s sour grapes because I registered my domain name a year before him, so I didn’t have to use the definite article. Nyaaah!

  • Motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, who borrowed the Ultimate Water Gun, took it to Singapore, then had his personal assistants threaten to sue me when I mentioned the fact on my site. I’ve been trying to negotiate an UWG loan to a heavy-metal band in Philadelphia, in return for recording a song caled “Anthony Robbins Can Bite my Crank.” Which I’ll post, naturally.

  • I heard from the “real” inventor of the Super Soaker, who was carrying on a bitter and vengeful feud with the cabal of scientists, corporate bastards, and Venusian telepaths that screwed him out of the fruits of his work.

  • This weekend, I was contacted by a person who had been deeply affected by the work of Red Cross volunteer coordinator John McGee. John was the one who organized the Red Cross’ efforts to work with the thousands of New Yorkers who showed up at 66th and 7th on September 11th, offering to do something — anything — to help. I spend a couple of days helping out, mostly making copies, telling people where the blood centers were (remember the big urge to give blood?), and attending Red Cross training sessions that John led. He was funny, organized, down-to-earth, and made a big difference. I realized pretty soon that we weren’t helping John, really: it was the other way around, and he was ministering to us by helping us feel like we were doing something. Plus, I came away with some good, real-world tips. For example, Red Cross shelters can’t accept donations of prepared food, since they have to follow the same health code restrictions as restaurants. It’s a big challenge for shelter operators to politely turn away plates of brownies, apple pies, ham roasts, and casseroles prepared by people who just want to help. John’s solution? Keep a fire company handy — “those guys will eat anything and everything.”

    John passed away at the end of 2001, and he’s sorely missed.

Sooner or later, everybody you blog about reads the post.

Dr. Kott Kicks Ass and Takes Names

For those of you who remember The Mexican Forklift Story, Part One that I posted last year, or those that I’ve told the Missionary Man story to, you might remember hearing about my Mexican friend Rommel. Who I just heard from for the first time in 12 years: now he’s a leader of a SWAT team in Mexico, and instead of a nitrous-injected Mercury Tracer, he drives a 2002 Crown Vic Police Interceptor. Here’s what he’s been up to lately. Nice collar, Dr. Kott!

Rommel sent me some pictures of himself in a tactical vest, bristling with explosives and weaponry, gripping a distinctly nonplussed FBI Top Ten fugitive by the elbow. Which, in a rare display of restraint, I’m not going to post here.

Dr. Kott Kicks Ass and Takes Names

Kate, Lydia, and I went

Kate, Lydia, and I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday. I was tricked out like a German tourist with fore-and-aft backpacks; Lydia in front in the baby bjorn, and diapers, wipes, and an umbrella behind. Ever since high school, I’ve imagined myself wearing a baby backpack exactly like Bill and Ted, after they go away for a year of intensive rock-and-roll lessons in the time machine, marry the princesses, and have babies, returning in time to change the world by playing “God gave Rock and Roll to you.”

Well, now that I look at those photos, I’m not sure that I want to dress exactly like Ted did.

Kate has some pictures of her plunder on her blog, as well as a link to a Bingo card web-app thingy I made with stuff we spotted at the festival.

Kate, Lydia, and I went