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Another Successful Launch

September 18, 2009

ScrantonSpace

While home to visit the family a week ago the Scranton Space Program convened for another launch. The last time we were together we launched three rockets each with pretty different designs. One burned in half upon launching, one had bits of its fins break off, and one went into the sky never to be seen again.

That last one kinda bothered me. It had two engines in it and it was the first time I got both engines to ignited. Of course since it was lost to the woods I didn’t know that both engines went off  until I got my film (yes film!) developed. This time I hoped it would be different. I whipped together a dual engine rocket in a day and a half. I also converted another one to use some D engines I had laying around. They weren’t pretty but they’d work….I hoped.

They actually did launch pretty well. We seemed to have trouble keeping nose cones attached but we didn’t lose a single rocket! The double engines went off and were recovered. Check out the photos:

Check out the rest of the photos and some videos here.

Blast Off

August 9, 2009

Launch Pad Close Up This past Easter I got to launch a few model rockets with my niece and nephews. It was a pretty interesting launch for a couple of reasons. First of all I was trying some new designs and materials for the rockets themselves. The other difference this time was I set up my holga right next to the launch pad in an attempt to get some cool pics. Since I have a cable release for it and I didn’t really care if the rocket burned a hole through it I figured my holga was the perfect camera for the job.

The picture to the left is the only one that came out. I took about 4 or 5 shots total. The other ones were either blown out or my timing was off and the rocket was already out of frame. I’m pretty sure that this shot was actually taken by my niece or one of my nephews. I’m really glad this one actually came out good. This rocket had two engines in to. I shot off like a bat outta hell and was gone. It was a fairly cloudy day and once it got high enough the rocket vanished from sight and was never seen again.

Now THAT’S a Motherfucking Party!

August 7, 2009

Several months ago while I was in my hometown for a little vacation I did a photo shoot with some friends. This photo shoot. Explaining it doesn’t seem to help. I tried that a few times and the looks I received in return were even more befuddled. Long story short: I used to work in a warehouse where we had a lot of time on our hands to come up with weird ideas. The cool thing about it is that the series  got a lot of views when I posted them on Flickr. Well a lot for me anyway. And yes I’m one of those people who constantly check their stats. What can I say, I like to know that somebody is looking at my work. It was during one of these regular ego checks that I noticed this photo:

was linked to by an outside website. I clicked on the link and was kinda floored. Somebody randomly found one of my goofy photos and felt it was goofy enough to include. Well whoever you are, I’m honored. I also gotta say I’m interested that, that photos was chosen. First of all it is one of my favorites from the series (although I will confess I have a lot of favorites from that series) but also I always felt the duck looked a little sad in it. Like he regretted whatever it was he just did. To think that’s the one they picked as a sexy ducky bedroom party.

So I’m a Little ADD

July 13, 2009

So I haven’t been writing much lately. Quite frankly it’s hard. Coming up with new, witty things important to geeks to write about. But I’ve got this blog and I’m paying over $8.00 a year for the domain name ( DAMN YOU GODADDY.COM) so I might as well post something. So here’s something. About a week ago Amy and I were going to go see Trixie Little perform out on Coney Island. While killing time before the show Amy saw some theater makeup I had laying around. This was the

result:

You can check out the rest here. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out. Response from those I know has been pretty positive. The blood looks pretty fake but the bruise looks real (which it wasn’t). According to Amy she had to take it down from her Facebook because to many people thought it was real.

Bad Marathon

October 1, 2008

To those who want to check out Breaking Bad, AMC is running a marathon of the award winning show. The meth madness begins tonight at 8:00 on ABC. The one problem with this is that Pushing Daisies second season begins tonight at 8 as well. Both shows are great so if you have Tivo or DVR now would be the time to use it.

Geeks Get Their Due

September 25, 2008

Chemistry is the study of change and this past sunday there was a change at the Emmy’s: a really deserving actor got recognition. Brian Cranston won Best Actor in a dramatic series for his portrayal Of Walter White on Breaking Bad. I’ve been a fan of Cranston since Malcolm in the Middle and am a huge fan of Breaking Bad. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Bad is the story of high school chemistry teacher Walter White who after discovering he has lung cancer uses his chemistry skills to create/deal meth in order to pay for his treatment and make sure his family is provided for. The show is pretty dark, surprisingly funny, refreshingly honest and incredibly brave. Despite the fact that John Hamm deserves an Emmy just as much I feel justified in Cranston getting it since Bad was robbed of a full season due to the writers strike and needs to get some attention.

Also want to give a well deserved pat on the back to Tiny Fey and the 30 Rock crew who won pretty much every category in which they were nominated. Tina Fey is completely brilliant on that show and it’s been a long time since something that well written has been on tv. I think it’s funny that there was all this attention around Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and 30 Rock which was just that other behind the scenes show is the one that is still around. Alec Baldwin is amazing as well and I can’t wait for the new season to begin in October.

Alec Baldwin’s award winning performance

And Finally congrats to Barry Sonnenfeld of Pushing Daisies for nabbing Best Director for a Comedy for the episode “Pie-lette.” Daisies (which was just released on dvd last week) is sweeter than honey for the homeless (it’s a joke from the show). Lee Pace and Kristin Chenoweth (who looked pleased as punch when Sonnenfeld won) unfortunately didn’t win their respective categories but I’m sure they’ll have plenty more opportunities. If you haven’t seen Pushing Daisies yet definitely check it out. It does require that you can tolerate a certain amount of whimsy, but if you can it’s awesome.

The season 1 promo for those who missed it

Th tv season has begun people. Grab some popcorn, set your Tivos, and check your local listings.

Bill Nye Environ-Guy

September 8, 2008

“When we do stuff, stuff happens.” That’s the basis of Stuff Happens, the new show from Bill Nye (the Science Guy, not the actor). So far I’ve seen two episodes of the show and I’m not too impressed. In fact, I’m a little disappointed since  I was super excited when I first saw the ads for it. It’s be far too long since his completely awesome show Bill Nye the Science Guy went off the air and since then, I haven’t seen a science show that lights my Bunsen burner quite like Nye’s did. Aside from my loving memory of the show, YouTube, and Bill Nye stalker articles, I rarely even see references to it. I mean even Beckman’s World is on in reruns and it isn’t nearly as awesome.

But I digress. My excitement for the new show began to wane when I realized Stuff Happens was on Planet Green, the environmental channel. I know our planet is important but I have never been able to get into conservation/environmentalism. I do my part. I reduce, reuse and recycle. I turn off lights when I leave a room. I cut up six pack containers. I turn off the water while brushing me teeth. Hell, I even sold my car. But I just don’t go for the full-on Begley Jr. Nothing’s been able to turn me around. Not Al Gore, not the joint efforts of John Ritter and Max Casella, and so far not Bill Nye.

The problem I have with his show is that seemingly everything I do is causing the end of the world. In the first episode of Stuff Happens, I learned that eating cheap bacon is causing the depletion of the anchovy population and thereby destroying penguins. The answer to all of these problems is to, of course, buy organic. You’d think the show was made by Whole Foods.

“..This exciting half-hour series engages the viewer with astonishing information, easy-to-follow science, lighthearted demonstrations, expert interviews and connective story-telling to amplify growing problems in the environment and important solutions we can all take to make things better. With trademark good humor, Bill Nye helps viewers get a grip on big topics and presents positive, upbeat solutions to the critical problems facing us all…”

The information is far from astonishing. I’ve been told the world was going to end any minute (and that we’re about to convert to metric) since I was a kid. Neither have happened yet. Plus I already know buying organic is better. Because of that, I feel like this is all old news and I’m not learning anything. Hecl I was more moved to be environmental after watching Batman battle it out with Ra’s Al Ghul on the beloved Batman: The Animated Series.

"Stop pigs from eating me!"

"Stop pigs from eating me!"

The one technique for saving the world (specifically the anchovies I mentioned earlier) I did think was more interesting was to eat more anchovies. You see they are in danger because they are a good, cheap food source for pigs. Pigs love them and will eat them as much as they can, which means farmers buy a lot of anchovies to get pigs fatter quicker. But if humans eat more anchovies, the price will go up and theoretically pig farmers will stop buying them. But even this solution has it’s problems. First of all anchovies are the universal symbol for something most people are repulsed by. Secondly if humans start to love them so much they’ll still get over farmed. Just for a pig that can talk.

So it seems Bill Nye’s return to television is quite as triumphant as I had hoped. I wonder what Beckman is up to…..

Attn: Animation Geeks!

August 26, 2008

Last night I discovered that Ovation TV is doing a 5 day salute to animation (Aug 25 – 29).  Last night they showed Triplets of Belleville and Chuck Amuck: The Movie.

I had seen Triplets before but this was my first time seeing Chuck Amuck. It was from 1991 but looked much older. A great look into the world of animation legend, Chuck Jones it also gave a good look into the art of 2D animation as well. It was kinda sweet to see a gentle older woman clean up drawings of the Road Runner. 

Tonight Tokyo Godfathers is showing followed by Wallace and Gromit Go Hollywood.

Check your local listings.

Living the Dream: Librarians

July 23, 2008

 Today we present you the first in what we hope will be an ongoing series of articles about geek dream jobs and those who are living the dream. Today, M. Flynn reports on what it’s like to be a librarian.

 

“Really? You’re a librarian?”

I get that all the time, and I don’t know whether to they want me sign autographs, be offended or act relieved. I don’t often use the word “librarian” myself and usually opt for “I work in a library.”  That’s a much less loaded statement. It’s easier that way.

Still, the second it “clicks” and they realize I am indeed a foot soldier of the Dewey Decimal system, the confessions usually start. Some need to apologize for hating their high school librarians or for pocketing that picture or Shaun Cassidy ripped quietly from the library’s latest Tiger Beat during the summer of ‘78. Some embarrassedly admit they never would have made it through Chemistry or British Lit without the help of their local librarian, and a few whisper quietly with a solemn look as if sharing a great shame: “I always loved the library.” Of course they love the library. What’s not to love?

I’ve been an academic librarian worked in an academic library for nearly 9 years and there are definitely a few things to love about the place and the job:

1. It’s hard to look dumb in the library. Everywhere you go, you are surrounded by shelves of weighty tomes and tables littered with clicking laptops, scribbling researchers and serious, focused readers. If that doesn’t make everyone in the building look gifted, I don’t know what does.

2. You have some of the most interesting conversations. One person wanted information on buying mosquitos (You can. If you have the right cage, you can buy as many larvae and hatch to your hearts content.). Another was looking for a place to purchase the chemicals needed to create the smell of vitamins. (You can purchase the smell in 5 gallon increments.)  Another needed to get 7mg of dry adhesive into every 1.5 inch square on a ream of paper. (We figured it out, but I still get dizzy if I think about it too much.)

3. You overhear some of the most interesting conversations. Let’s face it, even the most furtive whispers echo reverberate on the quiet floors, so if you don’t want the world to know it is your “third speeding ticket in as many days and your father is going to kill you”, Don’t say it. Don’t even whisper it.  Let’s just say that there are many, many things, I wish I didn’t know and leave it at that.

4. You don’t have to spend a lot on your attire to outdo the stereotypes. Keeping up with the Joneses is hard. Keeping up with society’s perception of librarians is easy.

5. You’ll never be bored. In one day, you can read “Don’t’ Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” to a 5-year-old, research bus safety statistics at the Department of Transportation website, help a woman pick out a mystery to read on her next bus trip, and spend 20 minutes helping a man find a “bus port”—a task made immeasurable easier when you realize it isn’t a “bus port” he’s looking for, it’s a “USB port.”

6. You get paid to read, think and play. Sure you may have to read a few things you don’t like. For example, that book you had to read to support the Public Health class–Ebola, Culture and Politics: The Anthropology of an Emerging Disease—was a downer, especially the chapter on “Facing Death and Stigmatization,”but you learned some great statistics for the next cocktail party you attend.

 

Sure, setting up your first LAMP server to test some open source application can be daunting, and identifying scholarly research on the effects of steroids for the tenth time can be hard, but take heart: you’ll look good doing it your better-than-your-average-librarian clothes, surrounded by a century of wisdom in one of the smartest buildings in town. What’s not to love?

I’m a librarian…really.  

M. Flynn

Geek: A history

July 14, 2008

When dreaming up this site, the ThisIsForGeeks team keep asking of various things, “Is that geeky?” In order to determine this we realized that defining what geeks are is important. As a guide in discovering what it means to be a geek I offer you, our reader, this fantastic article by geek corespondent Will J. Munro.

Geek History

Will J. Munro

Geek:

1. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp. one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.

2. a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)

3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken


While searching for information on the history of geeks I discovered the above definitions and thought “Well, that about sums it up.”

Take your pick.

Geeks many be greasy, awkward and hygienically challenged but they’re

One of us! One of us!

One of us! One of us!

quite useful at assisting the rest of us with issues of technology or mathematics. Geeks may be self-identified and use the moniker as a gesture to deflect criticism for what may be a particularly odd personal obsession, like, say, dungeons and dragons. Or geeks may the classic carny variety who literally–or figuratively–bite the heads off live chickens. Of this category, the former type have certainly been pushed to the brink of extinction by a general decline of American carnival culture and by enlightened attitudes about animal rights, the latter, however, still enjoy a healthy existence while attaining seven-figure scores on violent computer games or maintaining collections of Nazi military ephemera.

Geeks are brainiacs, geeks are savants and geeks are psychos.  And sometimes they’re a combination of all three.

And whatever they are, geeks are hot property these days. The word “Geek” pops up a lot in the media: there are computer geeks, gardening geeks and cooking geeks. Any “expert” or “enthusiast” with a strong interest in a particular subject may also be a “geek”. Geeky-looking characters abound from the tidy, efficient Verizon Guy to the bespectacled Harry Potter whose charm and broad skill set has rocketed him into the stratosphere of geekhood.

Geeky hobbies are also popular. There has been a huge resurgence in knitting and other handicrafts. Comic books–long the bastion of geeks and other school-age outcasts–have grown in collectibility

and value.  And, of course, there is a huge array of commercially available electronic gadgets that provide games, snap pictures, take videos and make irritating noises for the entertainment of those who prefer interaction with machines over that with other humans.

But like pornography, geekhood is hard to define–you just ‘kinda have to see it to recognize it. Which begs the question, where did the concept of geekhood come from? And is there such a thing as “geek history?”

The word itself may be traced to a term in use 500 years ago that described “a fool, dupe, or simpleton.”

The earliest citation referring to a carnival-freak geek is from the early part of the 20th century. But the geek as an archetype representing a talented and possibly attractive social misfit seems a far more recent development.

In his 2000 book Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet out of Idaho, Jon Katz describes

Vote Pedro

Vote Pedro

the Internet as the geek’s primary catalyst for escape from social stigma into visible and respectable geek communities. Since the mid 1990’s the talented-but-awkward filmmakers Todd Solondz and Harmony Korine have introduced a variety of peculiar, socially unpopular but sympathetic characters that have become cult icons.  Jared Hess’ Napoleon Dynamite was hailed by one critic as “an epic, magisterially observed pastiche on all-American geekhood…” and has been the subject of at least one scholarly paper on Asperger’s Syndrome.

And geeks today are also…kind of sexy.

Type the term “Sexy Geek” into a Google image search and among the 2,700 hits you’ll receive are images of nerdy, overripe school girls,

Kari Byron. Sexy geek from Mythbusters

Kari Byron. Sexy geek from Mythbusters.

tattooed lesbian librarians and mustachioed bloggers who cook and ride motorcycles. In contrast, a search for “Sexy Jock” returns a measly 111 hits of boring soft gay porn.

In this particular example of culture war, it appears that geeks are the winners.

Yet, ironically, geeks are also distinguished by their deviation from conventional forms of beauty and style. Stereotyped geeks wear glasses. They’re shy and may have bad posture. They exhibit a general lack of style and suave. They may be clumsy or ungainly. But, as the saying goes, beauty is the sum of imperfections: it seems that “geek-chic” may be a reaction to pop culture’s dispiriting emphasis on aggressive attention-seeking and unnatural physical beauty.

For example: there isn’t much room in Hip-Hop for quiet, polite guys in sweater vests. America’s Next Top Model will not likely be wearing a corduroy skirt and toting a knitting bag. But you also don’t see geeks getting arrested on Cops. Geeks don’t get freakish boob jobs; they aren’t “babydaddies”; they don’t do meth; they don’t drive Hummers. The American entertainment industry has unleashed a flood of culturally toxic sludge that has mutated mainstream society into an ungodly parade of volatile, oversexed, nitwits who equate “being watched” with “being successful”.

In this midst of this chaos, geeks are distinguished by their calm hobbies, their modest wardrobes and their sensible life choices. Geek-chic seems related to a larger social trend that eschews popular culture’s destructive elements for simpler, more thoughtful and “authentic” lifestyles. The DYI movement is pretty geeky as is brown-bagging, thrift shopping, apartment sharing and biking. Geeks don’t carry guns, they carry Altoids. Geeks are culturally green.

Geeks are also distinguished by degrees of self-confidence and self-possession that further separate them from other marginalized social groups. In her study of “nerd” girls, language scholar Mary Bucholtz challenges previous studies that described nerds as “failed burnouts and inadequate jocks”. Bucholtz instead describes a community of high school girls who actively reject the various “forms of coolness” that define their less assertive peers. In short, nerdhood seems to be a chosen lifestyle.

Corn Nuts!

Corn Nuts!

If one were to define a geek as a “nerd with a purpose” then geeks, too,  are self-aware and self-defining. In the film Heathers, the character of Jason “D.J.” Dean seems to fit the classic Dangerous Geek stereotype: a brilliant, wounded social outcast skilled in both psychology and technology. If he’d been a merely quirky or intelligent nerd, D.J. would never have had the courage to make a move on a popular girl like Veronica Sawyer let alone seduce her away from her clique of mean girls. But D.J.’s edge enabled him to win Veronica and facilitate discovery of her own latent geekhood. D.J.’s charisma was his defining power and the defining skill of his geekhood.

So it seems that “geeks”, as we define them today, are a recent concept rooted in technological development and social rebellion. Emerging from the same roots as other outcasts, geeks are set apart by their dismissal of the herd mentality their specific talents and their uncanny ability to draw admirers. As the market for geek skills expands and popular standards of beauty and success grow ever more extreme, geekhood may be a new touchstone for sensible living as well as raw survival.

References:

Hope Levin and Steven Schlozman. “Napoleon Dynamite: Asperger’s Syndrome or Geek NOS?” Academic Psychiatry, 2006; 30: 430-435.

Bucholtz, Mary. “Why be normal?”: Language and Identity in practices in a community of nerd girls”. Language in Society, 28 203-223.