Saturday, 08 July 2006

Remember that guy who decided last year to start with one red paperclip and trade it up for a house?

Well guess what?

He succeeded.

Kyle MacDonald will soon be moving into a house in the small town of Kipling in Saskatchewan.

The two-storey house in Kipling was built in the 1920s and has undergone renovations in recent years. Roach admits some touchups and yard work are needed before turning the keys over to MacDonald, and a work party is scheduled for Saturday, July 8 to do just that. He is hoping residents will jump on the bandwagon and that there will be lots of help that day, in preparation for welcoming Kyle and Dom to Kipling.

Here is the progression of trades (with a link to the details of each item):

one red paperclip fishpen.JPG knobt.JPG  coleman.JPG  generator.JPG one instant party skidoo2 yahk2 Cintas  Cube Truck1995 one recording contract phoenix one afternoon with Alice Cooper one KISS snow globe one movie role one house

Tenacity and a blog. Wow.

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Saturday, 08 July 2006 14:03:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I'm feeling rather thoughtful and somewhat random today. I even cleaned the island counter in my kitchen. Well, sort of. How's that for unusual? It's nice to have a "down" day, for sure.

So anyhow, this morning I took this Jung personality type test online after surfing around on Portland craigslist for random stuff and finding a not-where-you'd expect link to the test on there somewhere (no idea where, craigslist is this infinitely random web of always changing complex stuff where one can always go to see how much more screwed up than oneself people really are). I took the profile test for kicks, and basically just because I like those sorts of things. They make me think. I ended up classified as type INFJ, which it seems is pretty much spot on when I read the description. I don't especially like everything about the fact that it's right on the mark, but hey - what can ya do? Heh.


Then I took the short version of another online profiler that assesses your entrepreneurial business type. the results of that were also interesting. I'm fascinated with the questions these profile systems use, especially the whole group of them in combination. Depending of how the answers pattern out, I can see how one could accurately draw certain conclusions. Not sure how accurate these are in reality (they sure seem to hit the mark), but they are fun to run though nonetheless. It makes me think.


Hmmm, always interesting to see what the robots think of you, eh?

So that got me thinking about something else that always seems to be on my mind: What do I want to be when I grow up? Sure I'm 39 and turning bald and grey (prematurely by the way, I really don't feel this old). But there's a part of me that wants to do things that matter - to somehow change the world, if you will. So, I have to indulge that part of me from time to time, if for no other reason then just to stay happy and sane. To make me think.

Earlier this week we did a big ol' fireworks display for the Clatskanie (Oregon) Heritage Days on July 4th, which was a lot of fun and quite successful. One of my friends from the pyro crew - Brad - brought along a friend of his who had not worked a fireworks show. Jake is his name and he works for a non-profit called Action Without Borders, and they have this interesting and cool web site at that is basically a clearing house for, well, non-profits and idealists. Check it out, it's cool. It makes me think.

Anyhow, I enjoy what I do today because there are parts of it that "matter," and that drives me to do more. There are many other things I'd like to do someday - other things that might in some way change the world, or something like that. But I'll leave the descriptions of those things for another time.

Ask yourself this: How can you change the world? What will you do? What makes you think?

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Saturday, 08 July 2006 11:33:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 06 July 2006

Just when you thought you'd seen it all, well - you'll just have to check this one out for yourself (from

Straight from the Portland Bureau of Ridiculousness...

A Northeast Portland man is suing basketball superstar Michael Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight for a combined $832 million. Allen Heckard filed the suit himself, June 29th in Washington County Court. Heckard says he’s been mistaken as Michael Jordan nearly every day over the past 15 years and he’s tired of it.

“I'm constantly being accused of looking like Michael and it makes it very uncomfortable for me,” said Heckard.

Heckard is suing Jordan for defamation and permanent injury and emotional pain and suffering. He’s suing Knight for defamation and permanent injury for promoting Jordan and making him one of the most recognized men in the world.

Uhhh... Yeah, right. You can read the whole story here. And roll your eyes like me. Rolling eyes is so much fun. What an idiot.

My favorite quote from the story:

Some might wonder how he decided to sue Knight and Jordan for $416-million each. "Well, you figure with my age and you multiply that times seven and ah, then I turn around and ah I figure that's what it all boils down to."

Wow. Scary thing is he might get a few bucks tossed at him to go away. Or if we're lucky he'll lose hard and get stuck with the defendants' attorney's fees. You think he considered that possibility?

What an idiot. Sorry, but there are times when you just have to come out and say it.

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Thursday, 06 July 2006 22:41:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 05 July 2006

Today was a good day - more so than most. I realized this a few minutes ago as I stood in my freshly-mowed front lawn and surveyed my work.

First of all, the fact that the sun was still out and I was actually standing in my front yard (heck, the fact that I was even on my own property at 6pm on a weekday) was a minor miracle. Between extensive travel and the time spent at work catching up on all the stuff I miss while traveling, time spent at home has been very little. So a better-looking lawn and the fact that it's still plenty light out as I type this are both great things.

On top of that, an old friend from back when I lived in New Mexico - John Turner - called me today out of the blue. Seems he'd been searching for "Redneck Yard of the Week" and found my blog. Hmmm, interesting psychological questions about that search come to mind, heh. But anyhow, JT's one of my all-time favorite people and it was great to hear from him after a few years of disconnect and to catch up on the phone. People ask me why I put my cell phone number on this blog - now you know. JT mentored me (whether he knew it or not) and was a big factor in convincing me back in '98 and '99 to leave law enforcement and move into computers and technology. Mostly he helped me get past the risk/fear part and into the take-action part. Plus he believed I could do it and make it work when I was not so sure. He was also there for me during some very difficult times, and I will always appreciate that. He's an awesome dude and all around good people, and it's great to be back in touch.

Finally, I had a day where my schedule at work wasn't meeting after meeting after meeting. I am realizing more and more just how much endless meetings rob from your soul. So it was very nice to be able to sit still and catch up with the people I work with and to close a few loops.

And to top it all off, I am at home and done with yard work in time to catch a full hour of South Park on Comedy Central. The dogs were shocked to see me and to get a chance to play around, and the crazy cat is trying to get me to play fetch (what a weirdo). Ahhhh, the life!

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Wednesday, 05 July 2006 18:03:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Lighting the showUpdate: Both Rich and Travis have posted blog entries about our fireworks show, check 'em out.

Once mortars (the tubes that the shells are launched out of) are installed (which takes a while and represents the bulk of the manual labor that goes into a show), it's time to load the shells. This is the last fireworks show post until I can get some video or images of the show itself from others, since during the display I have to watch the line crew and supervise for safety and light some shells myself - no time for taking pictures, so I rely on others.

(Update: Crew-member Erik Dake shot the picture at left, which shows us from a distance lighting off the shells that are launching into the night sky. Note that it's a long exposure - so you're seeing several shots worth of flame and lit up smoke. It gives you an inkling of an idea of what it's like, though.)

After installing the mortars, the remainder of the afternoon was spent loading the show, doing some walk-through training to show how we light the shells, lots of redundant safety training all afternoon, and finally getting some dinner before blowing the whole thing up. Several new crew members that were here for their first show had the chance to light the show and experience the smoke and noise. There's really nothing quite like it.

The show was terrific (lots of extended cheers from the crowd, which is pretty much the only real litmus test) and the crew did a great job from beginning to end. Here are some pictures of the crew members setting up and loading shells in the evening, in preparation for the show. Note that we spend about 6-7 hours setting up a show that took 22 minutes to completely destroy. It was worth it.

Here's the pics...

Travis (who got his pyrotechnician license from the state recently - congrats!) loads some of the mortars that will be used to fire the finale:

Travis loads the finale shells

Rich and Desann - first-timers - load a five-inch shell:

Loading more shells

The "other" Scoble (Alex, that is, also a first-timer) loading five-inch shells:

Alex loading

Jake (another first-timer, lots of those today) loads more shells:

Drop a shell

The crew loads the line:

Loading the line

Dave loading another mortar:

Dave drops a shell in

Jake, Jenn (also recently got her pyro license!), Brad and Erik (both repeat offenders) loading mortars with shells:

Crew loading

Thanks to a great crew for putting on a great show. I'll be glad to work with any and all of these people again.

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Wednesday, 05 July 2006 00:22:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 04 July 2006

Thank goodness for The Crew. Having plenty of people around to help makes all the difference in the world. This year I can actually man a shovel (before my back surgery I was mostly just giving directions, which always feels stupid). We've run througfh some initial safety talks and talked about how the whole process works. After we ge everything installed and ready we'll do some training. But much to do before then.

Setting up is a lot of work, but hey it's worth it when you hear the crowd cheer at the end of the show. Besides, where alse can you blow up several thousand dollars worth of high explosives legally in someone's neighborhood and have everyone love you for it?

A mortar is a tube that basically acts as a cannon - the sheel is loaded into the bottom of the tube and the lift charge sends it out of the tube into the sky. It's, well, pretty exciting when it happens.

But before you can shoot them off you have to install the mortars, in our case in the ground. That means people, shovels and hopefully a good breeze. We're lucky today - not hot and a breeze to make it bearable. Last year was sweltering hot.

Everyone installs mortars - 4 and 5 inchers:

Installing Mortars

Back-filling the trench (which was dug by a back-hoe):

Installing more mortars

Lots and lots of tubes - hundreds of 'em:

Lots of tubes

More to come later...

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Tuesday, 04 July 2006 14:19:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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