Archive for October, 2010

Jesse Kelly’s Plan: Test Your Own Food

October 25, 2010

Arizona House candidate Republican Jesse Kelly thinks we should each test our food for foodborne illnesses like salmonella. Considering that about 1800 people were sickened by the latest outbreak from a company that hasn’t been following regulations, clearly no regulations will fix things.

Lets consider where this is going: no corporate responsibility for what they put in, or don’t keep out, of our food. It seems many of these candidates stressing personal responsibility are also implying we should not have corporate responsibility because it gets in the way of making a profit. But who will by your products after you make everyone sick? Oh, that’s right, the short term profit will be great enough to not care what happens next.

I’m imagining signs on every grocery store that claim the store and its suppliers are not responsible if you get sick from eating anything they sell you, no matter how well the food is prepared. Signs that claim serious illness or death are possible results, and tell you not to even think about returning a bad product unless you can be an expert witness in court on why the product is bad.

Anyone want to start a business making salmonella tests for home use? Don’t worry, it’ll be a corporation so we won’t be responsible when the tests don’t work all the time.

Fun at Brickcon

October 4, 2010
The Space theme table at Brickcon

The Space theme table at Brickcon

I enjoyed myself this year at Brickcon in Seattle. There were many wonderful Lego models, toys, and minifigures, as well as great people. I attended with my brother, who let me stay at his place and who’s wife picked me up at the airport. Thanks!

I took a total of 1508 pictures using a few different lighting techniques. That doesn’t count what I deleted on the spot because I knew the offending picture was bad. It took several hours to convert them all (finished while I wrote the rest this post) to JPEG format to more quickly review them. I’ll post the good images to Flickr over the next several weeks. I’ll leave most of the discussion of the items at the show for the pictures. I used a remote trigger with my flash along with a small softbox, although during the public exhibition I more often had the flash on the camera. It was during those times when I was asked by a few people if I was the official Brickcon photographer.

I got stuck several times around the space-themed displays while taking pictures mostly because I liked the classic space Lego sets best when I was a kid. While the flimsy guard rails were being put up around the tables before the exhibition was opened to the public on Saturday, I was on the outside of the tables (where the public was supposed to be) taking pictures, but I was very close and using my macro lens. After taking a few pictures, I looked around and realized that I was within guard rails that weren’t there when I started taking the pictures.

Professor Waverly's hallway

Professor Whateverly’s hallway

Then I started taking pictures from the inside, where the exhibitors are usually sittings, and talked to several of the builders. One of them, Ley Ward (Professor Whateverly on Flickr) built the second highest, and the second or third tallest, structure in the exhibit hall. It included several vertical hallways with a hexagonal shape. He saw me taking pictures of a couple small detached hallway sections it, so he brought down one of the hallways so that I could take some pictures down their interior length.

On Friday night, the nearby Lego store had a sale that allowed Brickcon registered attendees to purchase items with damaged boxes for half off. They have a drawing to determine who gets to pick an item and when that is done in such a way that no one knows the exact ordering until briefly before the picking of Lego sets begins. I went first for the first round and last on the second. It was a great way to pick up a Mindstorms kit and other assorted items. I managed to fit everything, including a Power Miners set I won in one of the many drawings at the convention, into my baggage. I have since been surprised by how well the motors that come with Mindstorms NXT 2.0 can double as phallic symbols.

My brother let me use his parts to make an entry for the wacky racer competition. In fact, he insisted I build one. I gave it four wheels, larger ones in back, and a horse riding near the back of the vehicle. The horse had a steering wheel in front of it, a lever to one side, and a carrot and a cup on the other side. It wore an armored head dress with a whip attached that was pointed to a minifigure. The figure was one of the knights with a very worried face, but without a weapon. It was holding onto a cart-pulling piece that placed it in front of the vehicle and above the ground. My vehicle didn’t get very far, but I thought it was funny.

My brother entered several wacky racers; the one that did the best was a single wheel with a minifigure that looks a bit like the Stig tied to the wheel. It was the first to hit the wall on the other side of the ramp. But it did too well and bounced backwards from the wall causing it to lose to another that didn’t bounce back as much.

On the way home, I met up with the guy who made a large and impressive Mechagodzilla model complete with many moving parts. He was waiting on a different flight out of Seattle. My first flight took me to Detroit, but I thought it might stop short because two people had medical trouble that was noticed one hour before the flight’s arrival. It seems that one woman was far too short on sugar; I knew there was a good reason for me to drink Mountain Dew. The event made me wonder how quickly a flight can be diverted and what criteria is used to determine when to land somewhere other than the intended destination.

I had three to four hours in the Detroit airport before my next flight. At first, I thought that at least I got a flight in the same terminal, not that I needed it, but then realized the terminal had around sixty gates and I had to travel more than half of it. On the way, I found that it is a very attractive and interesting looking airport. I used my layover time to get out my camera and take some pictures. The Detroit airport doesn’t have free internet access like the Seattle one does, or at least doesn’t bother to mention it, so it was good to have something else to do other than try to nap.

False Steps

The Space Race as it might have been

You Control The Action!

High Frontier

the space colony simulation game

Simple Climate

Straightforwardly explaining climate change, so you can read, react and then get on with your life.