REMARKS 12/31/04 - 11/10/06

Last modified: Sunday, November 12, 2006 8:39 AM

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11/10/06- HUH??? WTF??? AN UPDATE???
Sorry... This is more of a "wassup" than a boner-fried update. I haven't worked on any artsy crafty-type projects in quite a while, but I thought item #1 might be of interest if you periodically visit this website (for whatever reason).

JIMBOBWAN.COM LIVES!  
In name, at least. EV1 is getting out of the dialup ISP biz, and marching its loyal customers off to PeoplePC. I don't use them for that anymore, and only stayed there because they offered 300MB of user webspace. So for the last year or so, I've been paying $10/month just so you could check my website to verify that there have been no new updates. (Hey, you're welcome!) Anyway, to save the site from a future where its URL might include the dorky-sounding "PeoplePC", I've blown some more money to move it to EV1's web hosting service, where the domain name works like a real domain name, instead of being forwarded to ISP user webspace. I guess I'll have to spend some more bucks to renew my highly-desirable jimbobwan.com domain name, which expires in a few months...

What does this mean? To put it in terms thet even slack-jawed simple-minded yokels kin unnerstand (as GWB is fond of saying): The "http://users2.ev1.net/~jimbobwan" URL will stop working once the plug gets pulled. If the main page says "jimbobwan.com" at the top, you're at the new web host. If it says "users2.ev1...yadda, yadda, yadda", you're at the old, doomed one. As long as I don't do any updates (a safe bet, huh?), the sites will remain (more-or-less) identical until users2ev1yaddayaddayadda goes tits up.

The new web hosting thing potentially offers more interactivity to visitors, like uploadable pic galleries, anonymous ftp, form mail, etc., which I may or may not use. It depends on whether I want to make website maintenance a bigger part of my life.

YEAH, SO WASSUP?  
Continuing in my proud tradition of pointless time & money squandering, in the past few months I've been doing some manly things, hinted at in those pics of gunz & beer on the site's front page. There are some new perpetual childhood things, as well. All this is to distract me from the big anxiety-inducing decision which looms on the horizon-- Denver or Austin? I think I'm more of a grasshopper than an ant, but don't get me started on that one... It's more fun to talk about the distractions.

GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, BULLETS DO
Guns are kewl, shooting's gratifying, and gun shows are interesting. Folks get all worked up about "sporting use" and the coincidence that people-killing bullets come from guns which are held by people who are supported by Terra Firma which is held in orbit around Sol by gravitational forces, etc., etc. Skip through all that intervening junk and by my reckoning, it's pretty clear that The Awlmighty is at the end of the chain. The fact is, it's a great collector's and tinkerer's hobby, and lost in the national debate is our basic right to collect and tinker with anything we damn well please, including black-colored things that look really mean. That said, it's friggin' expensive! I'm not talking about the guns and their fancy accessory doo-dads, like drum mags, holosights and scopes (which are expensive, but one-time purchases): I'm talking about the ammo. A 5.56 round makes a loud, satisfying KER-PLOWIE sound, but after a number of trips to the range, I started hearing a distracting $KA-CHING$ sound. I can live with that though, because in collector mode, ammo just wears out the gun.

HOMEBREW BEER: IT'S MORE LEGAL THAN HOMEGROWN POT
Yep, it takes way longer to make 5 gallons of beer than it takes to drink it, and you don't save much by making your own. I can drive to a brewpub and buy 5 gallons of ready-to-drink handcrafted pale ale for not much more, and I won't have to wait 5-6 weeks. But hey, there's something to be said about the pride of brewership, and the exotic aroma of dem hops is reminiscent of old college daze! At the Great American Beer Festival we didn't taste any IPAs that put ours to shame (that I could tell, in my hoppy-happy state). But you sure can't beat the local grocery store for the convenience of Full Sail Pale Ale by the sixpack.

SLOT CAR ZEN
When I'm in a transcendental mood, it's gratifying to speed little cars around the track, pushing at the edge of traction (and often going over the edge). Despite what an uninitiated adult might think, running cars around in circles isn't just for kids. It requires concentration to know when & where you should drop throttle (but not too much or too quickly) and ease up. Even if you drive the same course, lap after lap, you're sure to have a concentration lapse sooner or later, as you push for faster times. Then you get to put your modeling skills to use, fixing what you've broken. See how spiritually perfect the cycle is? Thankfully, I've eased up on my slot car spending, which is quite an accomplishment: Acquiring cars can easily become an expensive addiction, and there are waaay too many temptations in the material world. Fortunately, I'm hooked on Chaparrals. There weren't that many different models, so there's not much out there that I don't already have or want. Dammit. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

RADIO CONTROLLED BANK SIPHONS
That old hobby rears its expensive head, once again... (Nevermind my electric Cessna that almost flew, over fifteen years ago.) It started innocently enough: My wife was in Chicos, so I went next door to Brookstone and bought a cheapie radio-controlled submarine, about 1.5" long. (If you've got an aquarium, you've gotta get one so you can interact with your fishies instead of just feeding and watching them; Elephant Noses & Baby Whales sniff at it like cats sniff each other's butts.)

So while looking on the Internet for other micro RC subs, I ran across the Picco/Picoo Z, a sub micro-sized styrofoam IRC helicopter, with a micro-sized price tag. Wheeeeee, what a blast! It's virtually indestructable and doesn't destroy furniture when it crashes! Unfortunately, crashes are awfully common (usually behind some piece of something that's a pain in the ass to get to) since it doesn't offer much in the way of control (throttle, sometimes kinda right & sometimes kinda left). After a while, I wanted something more controllable, so I bought a beginner's coaxial helicopter, the Blade CX (thankfully, the salesdude talked me out of getting a manly collective pitch RC helicopter).

What a blast! Over two weeks I've slowed down on the broken blade/parts tally (which nickel and dime you to death) as I've learned how to make it go where I want it to go (usually). I prefer to spend money on fun stuff like light kits and onboard video instead of on replacements for broken parts.

Although it's considered a small indoors copter, flights in my cluttered livingroom are a white-knuckle experience. There's not much open space for take offs and landings, low ceiling with ceiling fan, many elevation changes (that create complex turbulence patterns), and it wants to get sucked into walls. The rotor wash scatters papers that aren't weighted down. Unlike the PicooZ, the Blade CX can do some damage/get damaged when things go awry. Naturally, it's great fun to fly there.

My proudest moment so far has been flying outdoors at night, guided solely by the nav lights, with the bird so far away and high up that I couldn't hear it. Now that was scary! The second night's flight didn't turn out quite as well because of a slight breeze... (check out the tape holding the shattered canopy together) Let me just say with RC helicopters, the stakes are pretty high, given the kind of damage that can be done with a split-second pilot's error, mechanical failure, or the whimsical forces of nature.

Despite that, and despite scary tales of the steep learning curve, I'm mulling over the purchase of a collective pitch RC helicopter. From what I understand, just learning to hover without going broke is a badge of honor.

For those with broadband, the video clips below might claim minutes of your life that you won't get back. These were taken with ST Labs' 5-in-1 eDVR gizmo. It's like a USB memory stick with 128MB memory (good for about 4 minutes of video), a rechargeable battery, and audio/video sensor. It weighs around 22 grams (but you can Dremel off a few grams of the plastic casing).

Garage Flight, Helicopter's View  6MB download, ~2 minute flight, .wmv format
After 2 weeks, I'd generally learned how to avoid flying into things. The pace is kind of frantic since you can't really go very far or fly very high in a garage with an 8-foot ceiling and stuff hanging down from it.
Garage Flight, Human with Onboard Video View  7.7MB download, ~3 minute flight, .wmv format
How to operate a camera and a helicopter at the same time. Since the eDVR 5-in-1 doesn't have a zoom, the next best thing is a flyby. It's not something you'd want to do in public, because a USB stick nailed to your forehead looks so dorky.
Outdoors Flight, Helicopter's View  5MB download, ~2 minute flight, .wmv format
I was really anxious to try it outdoors. Although it looks very calm, it only takes a light breeze to make an indoors copter fight for its life outdoors. Trees want to grab it. The breeze wants to steal it from you. The camera's extra weight claims a lot of the motors' oooomph and it can be a fight to reel it in.
Outdoors Night Flight, HWOVV  2MB download, ~1.5 minute flight, .wmv format
Oooooooo... a UFO! The camera's not as sensitive as the human eye, so I could actually see more than the video shows (trees, houses, street). However, once I was up there, I realized that I'd forgotten to wear glasses, so I was a little unnerved when the dots of light became fuzzy dots of light, and I wasn't exactly sure of the clearance between the tree silhouettes.

While waiting for the LiPo batteries to charge (the biggest downside, I think-- they take a long time), I decided to dust off my ancient (mid- 90's) RC cars, wondering if they and the old NiCads would even work. Hey! 20 minutes later and my RC10 was cruising down the street in the drizzle, skidding, launching over curbs and bashing into them. After the concentration required to fly my twitchy copter in the confines of my garage, it felt a lot freer and almost too easy. I've seen that they have much nicer RC cars nowadays, at smaller sizes with better batteries and longer run times, but I don't want to look too closely, lest I get hooked on another money-gobbling hobby.

 

YEAH, SO WASSNOTUP?  
I haven't felt like making dolls lately, not even ones with extremely large breasts. Maybe it's because I've already got more than any sane person could possibly want? Maybe it's because it requires more time and effort than my attention span can handle? Maybe I needed to do something different? My dollmaking projects usually require a lot of advance planning, and depend on a heavy dose of inspiration to get started and through the long dull parts. I don't make them to play with (it would be kinda stupid to go through all that effort just so you could blast 'em with a pellet gun, or blow 'em up with firecrackers). So instead, the "play" part takes place in the imagination, and in the handcrafting, where I get to play with designs, tools, and materials. But after the project's done, the play value diminishes, and the doll becomes another one of those collector's dustketchers.

I don't have anything against collector's dustketchers; actually, it's hard for me to keep that compulsion in check, especially when it comes to niche stuff like the 12" Ultraman dolls. (I'm as lazy as the next guy, and I'd rather someone else make it.) It's just too easy to click an "order" button. Even though dustketchers don't do anything, I enjoy the buzz of unboxing a new (undusty) arrival, checking it out and seeing how it fits in with the rest of the collection. I try to remind myself that the gratification doesn't last very long and that I don't have the room, but I'm good at ignoring myself when I see something that I really want. It's a sad irony that you inevitably run out of room and suffer beneath the weight of all those indulgences.

Lately, I've been attracted to hobbies that have a performance angle instead of a modeling focus. The RTR hobbies usually require fairly short periods of maintenance to install, modify, or fix things. There's not much point in spending lots of time on the modeling & beauty aspect since that can get totally trashed in the blink of an eye, especially with RC helicopters: A taped-up and patched RC model doesn't make much of a display piece. That's not to say that performance hobbies don't trigger collecting or modeling impulses: Once you've bashed some rough & tumble playtime out of your first "workhorse", it's probably natural for some folks to start thinking about their second, and third, and so on. After a while, depending on your pocketbook, you may christen some as "shelf queens"-- toys that look too pretty or that you've worked on too hard to risk damaging. That's the modeler/collector impulse. If you're just learning to fly, it's probably a good idea to rein in that impulse.

Performance toys with a risk factor (like RC helicopters and planes) can really get the adrenaline pumping. All during the learning curve for a beginner's RC helicopter, there's a risk of breaking something. Even though you're cautious at the beginning, it's easy to slam into walls, the ceiling, the floor... yourself. As you get better, you get cockier and more daring, so the risk of loss doesn't go away. Anytime you send an expensive toy high up yonder, there's a chance that it may escape from you, wind up in a tree, or in pieces on the concrete. That's a sobering pressure, although not in the league of dangerous sports like skydiving, mountain climbing, or race car driving. I prefer to let my pocketbook suffer the punishment for my screwups.

This all is probably just another phase, but from reading my next entry below, it seems like I've tolerated being in a rut for a long time. It really shouldn't take you years to figure out something like that. But anyway, for your patience, here are some new photos of those old dustketchers. They haven't moved in a long, long time, and if I've done versions of these photos before, I apologize. (Please note that these photos show the most recent accumulation of dust.)





12/2004 - YEARLY ROUNDUP

(I don't think I ever posted this, but it's pretty clear why I didn't bother. It's funny to see how in two years, things really haven't changed that much at all. Someday, when I'm desperate for humiliating entertainment, I'll have to browse this website!

Nawwwww...--11/03/06)

Oh boy! Christmas is coming, so what kewl 1/6th scale stuff should I pester Santa for?

Howzabout a pulse arc welder?

As far as I'm concerned, it's been a pretty undistinguished year for sixthscale-buying, and only a few kewl new things actually triggered my compulsion to buy. That's reflective of my own evolution as a consumer and customizer, but there's also an undeniable tidal retreat of the hobby, gauged by the output of the manufacturers-- they aren't putting out as much, probably because we aren't buying as much. That's okay by me, since buying stuff for the joys of ownership doesn't bring me long-lasting happiness or fulfillment. Buying stuff which I can use to make stuff gives me much more bang-for-the-buck. It's a variation on the saying about giving an Eskimo a stick of dynamite instead of a fish stick.


I should also acknowledge that for visitors to my website, this has probably been an undistinguished year for Jimbobwan projects. The multi-month hiatus didn't help, and the project commentary has been awfully uninspired. Forgive me. I've been doing this schtick for years now-- it's gotten harder to write with enthusiasm about things that I've done so many times before. Heck, the (lack of) Guestbook feedback hasn't been particularly motivating either (whine, whine). The signs seem to say that this thing has run its course. However, as tempting as it would be to indulge in the drama of a Grand Closing, that's wouldn't be very honest-- the upkeep on this place is cheep, and I'll continue to make stuff (even if it's just crummy and boring junk) . I'll undoubtedly document some of it here. So much for going out with grace and dignity...

The year hasn't been that bad. The nadir was probably that black demon thing with a dong, but the other stuff kept me interested and fills the shelf space nicely. My favorites are Nadja (which has produced bunches of hits from Google Images) and the last one, "Marolena", which wears the most ambitious armour I've made to date. I was disappointed when I realized that I wouldn't be able to meet my target of 12 projects, but once sanity returned, I asked "why?".

Anyway, Happy Nude Year.

Jimbobwan, 12/31/04


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