Thursday, May 21, 2009

MOVIE: RockNRolla (2008)

Guy Richie wrote and directed two of my favorite movies: Snatch & Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He recently wrote and directed RocknRolla, a movie about real estate scams, modern white street hustlers, the Russian mafia, and a waifish, back-stabbing, smoking hot accountant.

Guy Richie movies all have a very common formula. There's a cranky, old, mafia-type guy. Young, street-smart hustler guys. Big guns. A scrappy brawler. Usually an animal or two. Lot's of clever turns of phrase combined with creative use of profanity. And a plot that intertwines between several groups of characters who ultimately have a glorious confrontation in the end. RockNRolla follows that formula to the letter. Anyone who enjoys the Guy Richie equation will undoubtedly enjoy this movie.

I totally loved it. Great acting from everyone involved. Very good (though not original) writing. Awesome direction and pacing. Lots of quotable material. Laughs everywhere. Much enjoyment resulted.

I'd recommend it for a date flick. Not something for the kids. But waaay worth a rental.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BVE Awards Ceremony 2009

Meg & Liam their school awards ceremony today.

Meg received the award for the top reader in her class as well as an award for "Memory Marvel." Because she never forgets anything.

Liam received the award for 2nd place reader in his class as well as the "Inquisitive Thinker" award. Because he asks good questions and seeks good answer.

They got their mother's mental facilities. Thankfully.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gym Again

Back and biceps. Then an hour of yoga. Washed down with thirty minutes on the treadmill. Cruising home in an endorphin-rich haze of pure clarity. My mind clear. My heart clear. A few moments of peace between the usual clouds of chaos.

So much effort to obtain something as simple as being calm and apathetic.

I just pray it lasts until tomorrow. Give me that much.

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Blood

The other day, Liam drew first blood. He was stalking the front yard with his BB gun when he spotted a bluejay in an oak tree. His first shot took tore through a wing. The bluejay fluttered to the ground, its limb and feathers flapping in odd spasms.

Liam fired again. Headshot. The bluejay's skull is about the size of a grape, yet Liam bounced a round off the bird's temple. And it stopped moving.

Liam walked next to it. Stood over the fallen thing. He says it looked up at him with its slow grey eyes. He says it was scared. And in that moment he thought to himself, "Why did I shoot the innocent bird? It is one of God's creatures..."

And then the tears. Followed by a long confession of regret. And more tears.

I put on some gloves and checked out the bluejay. The headshot didn't actually go into the skull. It bounced off.

The bird was just stunned.

Liam stopped crying. 

I put it in some bushes.

The next day, it was gone.

Liam's hunting squirrels now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This Olde House - Ceilings & Stumps

After I scraped down the "popcorn" ceiling, the next step is to make the surface as smooth as possible. I'm not good at it. So I outsource that part of the adventure to Troy. He walked around the dining room and the living room on stilts, scraping loose stuff and smoothing it out with drywall mud. It took him maybe two hours. It would have taken me two days. Next weekend, he paints it. And we mark it: DONE!

Late in the afternoon, Meg went to sing at a retirement home with the choir and I spent an hour with an axe and the Fubar doing my version of "stump busting." Liam lent a hand, too. And we busting up about half a dozen or ten small stumps and roots that cause trouble (and bent cowls) for the riding mower. Hopefully our time and efforts were worth it. Looking forward to a smoother mow next week!

Drive Home

Helped a friend with a big project, today. Two hours over. Eight hours on site. Two hours back. An hour on the phone following up. Numbingly long day. And I see more of them in the future.

On the drive home, I pass this strange vehicle. It looks like some kind of short bus. Cartoon kids in the windows. Big plastic lights. Hulking fenders. And it ambles along demanding everyone's attention. As I cruise past, I see the sign on the side. It is an ice cream truck.

How could any kid NOT love it?

Friday, May 15, 2009


Long Day at the office followed by a longer night. Couldn't workout because of all the traffic in my skull. Had to pick up the paint and primer for tomorrow. Had to hammer out a dent in the lawn mower cowl (which was blocking the blades from spinning.) Scraped my hands and sweated through a nice shirt in the process. And washed it down with some Mexican food and a cranberry margarita.

Tomorrow will be even longer, but we carved out a few minutes to remember Liam's emergency surgery from this day last year. Thankfully, we've gotten all of that behind us. And tomorrow is a new day for all of us.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

MOVIE: Star Trek (2009)

Short version: Very good movie, with only a few exceptions. Would make a great date flick even for non-Trek fans.

Long version: What was good? The acting did a fine job of honoring the spirit of the original characters. The effects were spectacular (though with a $150M budget even Tic Tac Toe could be made into a visual masterpiece.) Interesting story, especially with the character development. Fairly good pacing. Lots of laughs. Just enough violence. Some un-needed monsters. And a lovely green girl.

What was bad? Time travel is a cheap tool used to compensate for a lack of creativity. Were it not for the good points listed above, I would have loathed the movie for using such a gimmick.

Overall, I certainly recommend Star Trek and Liam loved it so much he wasnts to see it again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

April Is The Cruelest Month

Uncle Ron reminded me that I haven't posted anything in a month. Aside from catching up on my sleep and spending, spending more time with the family, and getting back into the gym, I don't have any excuses or complaints. In fact, things have improved on many fronts: Liam's stomach is no longer a major issue, my sleeping has improved (slightly,) Cindy's moods are better, and Meg is just as glorious and beautiful as ever.

Otherwise, too many projects. Too few Jons.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Where's Geo

If you're the President of an umpity billion dollar resort, you should think twice before having a life-sized picture of yourself within reach of me.

Oh, all the naughty adventures I could create with this.

However, Geo's the President. And I'm a lowly Digital Cat Herder. He out ranks me quite a bit. Plus he is usually pacing around with a hammerand a skillsaw.

I don't want to have to pick which hand I wish to keep. So I leave the photo where I find it. And save the carnage for another day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pool Days

Cindy and the kids went with me to the gym. I hit shoulders and legs. They hit the pool. Liam is swimming like a fish. Much better than I ever did at his age. And Meg is finally starting to find her own groove.

After my workout, I swam with them, too. Summer is coming. And hopefully we have a lot of pool days ahead of us.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pre-Mother's Day

My mother decided to get everyone together TODAY for a Mother's Day meal, with my Grand Mother, her sisters, their sons, and me. We went to Logan's Steak House. Pretty meh. Decent burger. Good rolls. But weak service.

Anyway, unpictured is my Aunt Nell, her son Gus, and his wife Donna. Click the picture to enlarge. Starting on the left is my father, my mother (with the beer mug!) my Grandmother, her son (Earl), Cousin Bobby, and my Aunt Mert (Bobby's Mom, Grandma's sister.) And then me.

I bought Mom a manicure and a pedicure. She likes it when some little asian lady takes care of her extremities. So she has a new gift card. Go, Mom. Go!

Beetle Build - Chargers

The Beetle has two different power systems. The one with 13 x 12v lead acid batteries (for the motor) is affectionately known as the High Voltage System. The lone 12v battery (for the lights and radio and such) is dubbed the Low Voltage System. Each one has a different charging system.

We physically installed the charger for the High Voltage System (top picture) a while back, but didn't wire it into the lines until today. It is a big, heavy, expensive charger. You could anchor a boat with it. And it will completely charge all 13 batteries in eight hours, or less.

The Low Voltage System is much smaller and doesn't require much of a charger (second picture.) I bought one off Amazon and we installed in just a couple of minutes. Even though it barely weighs a pound, it should charge the battery in an hour, or less.

Both chargers tested clean and all the batteries are topped off. 

So, with the exception of the various gauges and monitoring system, we've finished the electrical portion of the adventure and we're down to making it street legal.