Category Archives: Entertainment

My "Daughter's" Project

My youngest daughter (I have two) is in the 10th grade in high school. Her history class is studying the French Revolution right now and, during the Thanksgiving break she decided she wanted to build a scale model guillotine for extra credit. She, of course, enlisted my help. It never even occurred to me that I could probably find something online that would suffice and, in fact, I just looked and found a couple of places I could have purchased a kit. Here’s a really simple one. Here’s another.

As it turned out, I think I jumped at the opportunity to re-arrange our ridiculously stuffed garage, so I could get to my woodworking bench and use all the tools I’ve purchased or was given over the years and haven’t used for nearly a decade. Amazingly enough, they all worked despite some rust and corrosion.

I took some pictures as I was going along, and finished it yesterday so she could bring it to school today. This afternoon, I came across the original note her teacher gave her with the “rules”, e.g. it must work, it can’t have a sharp blade, and it isn’t due until Friday . . . grrrrr. Frankly, I became a wee tad obsessed with pulling this off and I’m glad it’s done and gone. I was having a hard time doing anything else, even though there were periods of time in between gluing and when I needed to build up my confidence that I could pull something off. Sometimes it mostly involved my remembering how to do something.

I made the whole thing out of a plank of 3/4″ thick Pine and a hobby piece of 1/4″ Oak. Since most of the table called for 3/4″ square pieces, I had to use an old table saw designed for onsite carpentry. It belonged to a friend of mine and, even though it’s been in my garage for at least 17 or 18 years, it still belongs to him. I just get to use it. Some of the cuts I had to make concerned by fingertips greatly, but they all managed to survive.

At any rate, here are some photos.

Here, the guillotine is mostly finished and assembled. You can see I was making a set of stairs, which I hadn’t planned on doing, but my daughter insisted was necessary.
I made the blade out of plastic, so it’s incapable of cutting, the spacer out of some Oak I had to purchase to get the 1/4″ thickness I needed for a few pieces, and I made the counterweight out of a piece of 2×4 that’s probably been sitting in our garage for the last two decades.
If you compare the stairs to what I started with and have depicted in the first photo, above, you’ll note I ultimately ended with four steps. I think it was because I realized I’d made them too tall to begin with and had to scale them down. The steps and the table/platform are made of Oak and here the whole thing has been treated with Watco Danish oil.
Getting the blade to actually drop was a bit of a challenge because cutting the channels on the two uprights so the blade assembly would be able to slide smoothly up and drop fairly quickly down was challenging, and they weren’t quite as smooth as I would have liked them to be. Nevertheless, I got it done after a bit of trial and error.
We have a little squeeze toy I picked up at a conference a long time ago from Hitachi. It’s a Sumo wrestler and, unfortunately, his head has managed to depart his body, though we keep him around (why, I don’t know). My wife thought he fit rather nicely with the device, so here ’tis. Next photo is from the other side.
That’s All, Folks.

A Forgotten Limerick

Faux Snooze

Looking through some of my old writings, many of which have never been published (some because they’ve never been finished,) I came across this limerick. It’s dated December 3, 2013.

Fox newscasts, so chock full of hate
Render truth an impervious gate
They so often dissemble
We can’t help but tremble
With hope they will soon meet their fate


Simple, Stupid, & Punny

I’m glad we decided to purchase Photoshop. I’ve been playing with it and sometimes I even get a little serious, spending some time learning how to use a tool I’m unfamiliar with. This wasn’t one of those times, though being able to select a small part of one photo and layering onto another requires a bit of patience and a reasonably steady hand. The latter I find difficult at times, as I have inherited essential (or familial) tremors from my mother, and there are times when I have a great deal of difficulty pointing and clicking in the right place. When I was back at Rocketdyne (2015 – 2017) there were times when I couldn’t easily log onto my computer in the morning because me hands were shaking so bad. At any rate, this here should be clear to anyone who knows a little Russian history and something about hand tools.

If you’ve seen one Russian, you’ve seen ’em all

PS – I’m not posting this for any reason other than I created it, it’s been shared on FB and Twitter, and I just want to have it somewhere that doesn’t disappear essentially forever. There’s nothing special about it, other than that it marks another bit of practice I had using Photoshop.


Was Binky a Unicorn?

Being the unabashed patriot that I am, I refuse to take anything about our country so seriously as to not be capable of mocking it, especially when it’s so richly deserved. I’ve been holding on to this specific cartoon of his for at least 25 years, as it (somewhat) mirrors my attitude toward reciting the pledge. As a member of one of my local Rotary Clubs for over four years, I recited the pledge quite frequently, at the beginning of each weekly meeting. My Democratic Club recites the pledge at the beginning of every monthly meeting. I no longer speak those words

I am only willing to pledge my allegiance to the human race; not to a particular nationality that I happen to be a part of though, to be clear, if we are attacked I will do everything in my power to defend my friends, my family, and my fellow citizens. I consider myself a patriot, but not a jingoistic one and I prefer we move toward seeing—and dealing with—the world as if we are all fellow citizens of this one planet. The only home we currently have, and most likely the only one we’ll have for centuries to come.

The original I’ve been holding on to all these years

Note there is no date on the cartoon above. I was guessing it was sometime in the 90s that I cut this out and saved it (I just scanned it, after all these years.) I decided to search a little and see what else I could find, including a copy of the original in a Google image search. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this version, below. I found another one that looked slightly different, but it was severely cropped and difficult to figure out.

Iteration numero dos

OK – So I found another one, also dated, which is two years younger than the one above. Of the two above, I have no idea which one was published first, but I’m going to suspect it was the first one I put up there. This was around the time I had started working at Rockwell International’s Rocketdyne Division and I needed to keep myself grounded in what I consider to be reality, meaning I didn’t want to fall into the mental trap of supporting what my government does blindly. I’ve always questioned authority, but working at Rocketdyne was a whole new experience for me. Prior to that job, I had always worked in small—very small—business, most of them employing no more than four or five people.

This is how it looked when I found it—stretched out

Somewhere, and I have no idea where that somewhere might be, there is a cartoon where one of the characters begins the pledge saying “I play the legions.” I remember this very clearly, but I don’t for the life of me remember where I encountered it. Having posted this, perhaps I will conduct a thorough search to see if I can find it. I’m not holding out much hope, but one never knows.

PS – In searching for a little more info, I came across an interesting column from 1988 in the Orlando Sentinel, entitled “‘I LED THE PIGEONS TO THE FLAG . . . ‘ BACK TO SCHOOL AND A GARBLED PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE,” which has some pretty interesting tidbits that kids have thrown into their recitation, though in their case it’s quite unwittingly. Matt was taking liberties wittingly, I’m sure.


Cherry Choppers?

Who’da thunk it?

Give ’em hell, George. I heard his call sign was “Oak Mouth” or “Fir Face” or “Cherry Choppers.” Something like that. Nobody knows (except for Mango Mussolini) how courageous and valiant he was at the Battle of Covfefe, during the Bowling Green episode. Given how anachronistic the whole affair turned out to be, it’s no surprise he was awarded both the Air Force Combat Action Medal, and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. Our Air Force wouldn’t be the same without his stellar service.


Doggone It!

I was a Wiener Clerk at the Wiener Factory back in the early 70s. “We may be contumacious, but we’re never revocatory.” “Tell us how long you want us to hold the onions.” The owner wrote every bit of graffiti in there . . . and the moderately risque stuff in the toilets out back. I think my favorite dog was the coleslaw and cheese, though a good old fashioned kraut dog still hits the spot when I’ma cravin’.

I worked there throughout my first year of law school, 1973 to 1974. It was a decent job at the time. The owner, whose first name—Gene—is all I remember, was a former English teacher and stockbroker. He was a bright, somewhat tortured guy, but he treated his employees with respect, which is frequently not the case.

We used Gulden’s mustard, which we thinned just a bit with pickle juice, adding a significant bit of extra flavor. I often wonder if anyone actually noticed. I think the hot dogs were Vienna’s natural casing wieners, and we got the knackwurst and one other type of sausage from a small sausage maker in Burbank. Alpine sounds about right. We used fresh egg buns, which we steamed before serving so they were nice and soft. We also sold a shitload of German potato salad. I don’t think we had fries, but I just don’t remember.

Flooky’s made a damned good hot dog as well, and I was sorely disappointed a couple of months ago when I was returning to Simi after an appointment at the W.H. Kaiser Med Center. I was planning on having a Flooky’s hot dog (or two) only to find out they had gutted the place. I don’t know if there’s a Flooky’s left in the SFV.

I still crave a good hot dog probably a lot more frequently than is healthy for me, but I was raised on the damn things. I love a good, kosher, natural casing wiener with gulden’s mustard and a hearty sauerkraut on top of that. I also love mustard, relish, and onions, as well as mustard, chili, cheese, and onions. Hell! I’ve been known to slice one lengthwise and eat it between two pieces of rye bread with some mustard. It’s just a mini bologna, after all.


Dimple or . . . ?

I wore a suit and tie for many years. I’m not super vain, but I do like to present a sharp image when called upon to do so, and one of the most important things is how you dress. Many years ago I read a book by John T. Molloy, called “Dress For Success.” If memory serves, one of the most important items in any man’s wardrobe is his tie. The tie must be silk, it must be of a certain pattern and color (though there are numerous styles considered acceptable), and it should have a well-tied knot with a dimple which, believe it or not, takes a bit of practice to execute well. Below is an example of a well-tied (looks like) four-in-hand knot. Actually, it’s so symmetrical, it looks a bit like a Windsor knot, but I’m pretty sure it would be thicker if it were.

The Perfect Dimple

Another thing I learned from Molloy’s book, again if memory serves (I read it right after it was published, in 1976 – the year I graduated Law School), is that young men wear their collars too tight and old men wear them too loose. Then there are men who can’t admit how old they are and who hang on to images of their self that may enhance their self-esteem, but which make them look a bit ridiculous. In the below case we have such a man. Note how he has no dimple in his tie, but his collar is too small for him, creating a classic, oblivious man’s neck dimple (or neck vagina, depending on how uptight you might be).

The Perfect Neck Vagina

I’m not entire certain what this says about a man, but I have my ideas. You, of course, are quite free to develop your own opinion of what this says about any man, let alone this particularly egregious example.


Did Someone Say Newsletter?

I suppose you could say newsletters are in my blood. My father was the radioman aboard the USS William H. Webb during the second World War and one of his duties was to publish a newsletter for the crew. I remember looking through and reading his saved copies of each edition as I was growing up. I may even have some of them in a box in the garage somewhere, though I doubt they have held up all that well. They were printed on some pretty flimsy paper to begin with. I don’t think archival was part of their thought process.

Over the years I’ve done my share of newsletters, ranging from merely creating a SoCal edition of The War Bulleting, a publication out of Berkeley, California, that documented what was happening in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and the activities we were engaging in to protest our nation’s involvement, to a newsletter I created for my local golf course that garnered me lots of free range balls and rounds on the course, sometimes with a pro who couldn’t help but give me some instruction during the course of a round.

So . . . a series of events have convinced me it’s time to go through all my papers—and I have a ton of ’em—and organize, scan, and recycle as many of them as I can, memorializing what I find here on my blog. I also intend on gathering some of it into book form and see if anyone cares to read it.

Here’s the only saved edition I have of a newsletter I put together for the Student Bar Association of the University of San Fernando Valley College of Law. I’m a bit miffed to discover I didn’t put a date on the damned thing, so I can’t be sure if I published it in 1974 or 1975. Now that I think about it, I believe I was the 2nd year, full-time representative to the Student Bar, so that would have been ’75 . . . a mere 44 years ago.

Note the simplicity. There was no computer involved in any aspect of this publication, as PCs did not exist at the time. I’m pretty sure the headlines were stick-on letters I had to apply one at a time, and the copy was all done on a typewriter, though it may have been an IBM Correcting Selectric, because I was working as a secretary/clerk in a small law office in Beverly Hills at the time.

I’m surprised the paper held up as well as it has over all these years. It’s yellowed a bit, but it was still reasonably malleable; not brittle and parchment-like, as I suspect my father’s newsletter would be if I could find them. Then again, they’d be around 75 years old now.

I have also found a bunch of newsletters I created for Rocketdyne, as well as menus and promotional items I designed over the years, when I wasn’t working at Rocketdyne. I’ve also found some strange things I created as jokes during my tenure at what we called “The Rock.” I intend on sharing all of them.


A Photoshop Fever Dream

I can’t take credit for this concept, but I can take credit for executing it in my ongoing quest to get better and better at Photoshop. I think I saw something like this on Twitter and I wasn’t happy with how it had been done, so I thought I would take a crack at it myself.

This is only two layers, but it took a bit of work to get Air Force One selected cleanly enough to delete everything else that was in the picture with it. That’s what takes the most patience at this point; selecting what stays and what gets removed when layering a series of photos.

Frankly, I wouldn’t wish this on the crew or staff along for the trip, but if Trump was on it alone, this represents one of many scenarios I’d love to see. A massive aneurysm is another. My favorite, however, will be arrest, trial, conviction, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and imprisonment. That would be ideal.


He Found a Clam!

I don’t make it a habit to post much from Twitter or Facebook here, but I couldn’t resist sharing this one. Our dog, Angel, paws her tennis balls while holding a rope or another ball in her mouth, but she’s nowhere near as animated as this bad boy.


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