Wednesday, October 31, 2007

$10.9 Million for the Good Guys

I can't embed the video but it's worth watching.

A federal jury in Baltimore, MD awarded $10.9 million to the family of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. They found that the "protest" by the Westboro Baptist Church wasn't protected speech.

The members of Westboro Baptist Church have the right to their beliefs. They have the right to meet and to discuss them. As Lance Corporal Snyder's father says, they even have the right to express them in public places - in front of courthouses, public parks or streets - yes, even outside the U.S. Naval Academy as they did this week. I really do not believe that funerals are the sort of public venues where they should be able to express their views. I'm glad the jury feels that way as well. This will be appealed, of course and I hope they lose on appeal.

I'm not going to post any links to WBC. They're easy enough to find. I am going to throw in a plug for the Patriot Guard who have been attempting to shield military families from the vitriol of WBC actions at funerals across the nation - with permission of the family. They do this through strictly legal and non-violent means. More recently, they have added Honor Missions to deceased veterans and law enforcement personnel.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Enter the Samurai

This is what has kept me busy all week. The helmet (kabuto) took the bulk of the time with the body armor (Do) a strong second. Lots of duct tape and foam-core poster board went into the armor. It's still missing important pieces for authenticity -- waist, leg, and throat armor to start -- we'll be working on those later. He's really pleased with his wins for scariest and most original in his age group at 2 different contests.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Been a little busy

Armor is as finished as it's going to get. Pictures will be ready by Sunday - 2 costume contests in the meantime and his dad will be there with the camera.

My son is very excited. I'm really pleased with the way it's turned out. We'll be adding to it on an ongoing basis until it's really completed, but it will do for now. Next project, find the local Society for Creative Anachronism because he wants to learn much more about the making of armor, SCA style. And I didn't even tell him that they get together on Sundays to practice archery.

We did learn some things. You can do pretty amazing things with tinfoil and duct tape.

We also learned that it's a really bad idea to put on your gauntlet (forearm armor), which is made in one piece(not at all like authentics Samurai forearm armor), and slide it up over your bicep. Since it was made of posterboard and duct tape, scissors solved that problem. THEN I realized it probably would have come off the way it went on - with his hand straight up over his head. Not planning to test the theory, though. It takes a good 20 minutes to make a new one and I'm running out of patience. Lots of duct tape left, though.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pictures coming soon

Samurai armor is definitely the most challenging project we've attempted in a while. The helmet is nearly finished and the armor is coming along nicely.

We followed the directions on the Clan Yama Kaminari "How to make armor" page using foam core poster board covered with Duct tape instead of the plastic barrel they recommend. It's easier to cut than the plastic and he'll outgrow it too soon to make it worth going through all that. Also, he doesn't plan to go out and pound on people with sticks while wearing this. They only wear headgear and hand and foot protection when they pound on each other with sticks in his karate class.

Unlike the barrels, foam core poster board isn't flexible, so I cut part way through at 1.5 inch intervals on the side panels before applying black duct tape. This allows the armor to bend in order to fit. Instead of taking the time to lace the panels together, we used red duct tape for the hinges. We will be lacing the upper pieces to the front and back as well as the shoulder straps. Torso armor (Do) should be completed by tomorrow evening. Helmet (Kabuto) shortly afterwards. If we have time, we'll add additional pieces as we have time. Armor should be completed in time for next year's Renaissance festival (or an SCA event if we can find one nearby sooner).

Friday, October 19, 2007

shirt.woot derby #13 - Halloween

Shameless pimp here. My friend has a shirt in the derby and will probably enter more. If you've ever bought anything on Woot or shirt.woot or wine.woot you can vote.

Shirt has been axed twice for technical reasons. Rats. It had moved up to #33 before getting cut this time. They reject many outstanding designs because they'd be too hard to print. This is one of them.

There are lots more choices in the derby, though. You can see the rest of the entries in the derby and vote. There is some really clever stuff there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Halloween is coming!

My youngest son has designed his own costumes since he was 5 years old. My job is to help implement them. This gets more challenging every year. Considering that his first (prize-winning) costume was a hammerhead shark, that's saying a lot.

This year I may need to swap him off to someone from the Society for Creative Anachronism as he wants to be a Samurai Warrior. With armor. So far, we've figured out how to build the helmet - recycling the Clone Trooper helmet from a few years ago as a base. He's hoping it will look a little like this one:

which we found on the projects page of Clan Yama Kaminari. He wants the whole shebang, so this is going to turn into a long-term project.

Ideas and helpful hints found here

We won't be using the face guard and our helmet started its life as a green military-style helmet which I spray-painted white for use as a clone trooper. It will change color again in this incarnation. He wants it black this time. My plan is to cover it with wedges of black Duct tape so it has a more authentic appearance than simply spray-painting would provide. Also, this makes it possible to construct the remaining part of the helmet in a manner which will match the top. Pictures to be posted as we make progress.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I ran into my oncologist today

It's been nearly 2 years since I last saw him and 3 since he discharged me as a patient. I totally blanked on his name. I can't keep my kids straight, so that's nothing unusual. He, however, has a phenomenal memory - even asking if I still worked in the same place (not the hospital where I bumped into him). By name. Amazing.

I need to write a note thanking him for all that he did for me. I provided him with very little excitement in the way of complications of care, but - as with virtually all cancer patients -- more than a little complexity in my need for support.

He and his partners were always upbeat when it was appropriate. One of the partners would periodically pop into the waiting room with a brief comedy routine (always different). Another, who had never seen me, hunted down a test report that came in while he was on vacation.

What I remember above all else is that he wasn't afraid to use the "C" word.

No, not that one. At my first visit to his office, he told me that he thought it very likely that treatment would lead to a cure. Not a word I expected to hear from him for years, if at all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Since you asked me to......

Hat tip to Fat Doctor who asked (not just) me to pass this monitor cleaner along.

First, put down your cup and swallow.

Then click here.

That one seems to have exceeded their bandiwidth, so you might want to try this one.

Friday, October 05, 2007

"Uncle George is dead. Go see him!"

Taking small children to funerals is always chancy. When the funeral is in another state, you don't always have options, though.

It was 22 years ago in the middle of winter when Uncle George went to meet his Maker. He'd always been a practical joker and insisted on being buried in his favorite red bow tie. His sons and son-in-law had all acquired red bow ties of their own for the occasion.

Having no nearby relatives with whom to leave them, we took our 2 and 4 year old sons with us to the funeral. We joined the family at the pre-service viewing and when the boys got fidgety, I left my husband with his cousins and took them outside. My oldest began greeting the guests with a cheery, "Uncle George is dead. Go see him!"

Uncle George's sons thought it was hysterical, but when one of the other attendees paled in response to the greeting, I thought it might be wiser to take the kids to the nearest McHappy place until closer to time for the service.

At the reception afterwards, they ran and played with Uncle George's grandchildren and visited with the rest of the relatives having a delightful time. When my oldest returned to preschool a few days later, I told his teacher that he'd been to a funeral, but he thought the whole thing had been a big party.

Today we attended the funeral of one of his sons. No red bow ties this time, and there were more than a few tears shed. Overall, though, the tone was one of joy for the deceased, much as Uncle George's funeral had been.

The pastor who preached the funeral sermon spoke of his sorrow for the widow who would be without her husband of 53 years and his sorrow for the friends and family who would also miss him - but of his overwhelming joy for his very dear friend. His joy is based in the promise of the Resurrection - in his belief, shared by most of those present, of a glorious eternity bought for us by the death and resurrection of our Savior.

We will miss our friend and cousin, but we live in the hope of seeing him again one day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

But it Itches!

Poor kid. If he looked sick, I'd have taken him to the doctor. His only symptom was rash that, over the course of a week, spread from his chest to his back, shoulders, and then started to creep down his legs. Tiny bumps (papules) bright pink initially but fading so that you couldn't see them well at all any more. He knew they were there, though.

And they itched. Not that I wasn't sympathetic, but he only seemed to itch at bedtime. So we tried benadryl -- at least he could sleep. He probably itched the rest of the day, but he was too busy to complain. He's always doing something.

Besides, I figured self-limiting, probably viral. Not much point in going to the doctor for that. But it wasn't my rash and he insisted. So we went.

Funny thing is I was only wrong on one point. The pediatrician called it exanthem (aka exanthum) -- IOW, itchy rash, probably viral in origin. He did do a throat culture to rule out Strep, but he thought that was unlikely. Solution, atarax to help control the itching until it goes away in a few more days.

The culture was negative. He's still bumpy and itchy, but at least he believes someone cares. Maybe not his mother, but at least his pediatrician does.