Sunday, February 19, 2012

Magnifying Glass and the Summer Sun

I suppose the year may have been something like 1987 (Putting me at around age 8) or there-bouts. My family used to go on what they called "The October Trip" to a camp ground in western MA called the Mohawk Trail. As you could imagine, it was called this because we'd go in October. Not exactly the most seasonable months for camping, but the place was definitely not crowded!

I remember a number of things about going on the October trip. I remember packing for it, my father had always insisted on buying cars with roof racks, a preference I think I've shared since then. He'd put a blue tarp over the car, throw all the gear, tent, pots and pans, food, clothes, etc on top, and wrap the tarp around it. Then he'd tie it to the car with all kinds of knots I never learned to make.

I did tie some stuff to the roof of a car a few years ago, and since I've vowed I will never do it again without real come-alongs. I lost a box spring on Rt. 24 just north of Fall River that day, and didn't find out until either or ten miles later. We went back that same way later that day, and it was smashed, and sitting in the grass in the median. We did not stop.
I remember that it was on one of these trips (to the Mohawk Trail, not to Fall River) when I realized the trip TO somewhere was always a lot longer than the trip home.

It was also on such a trip that my father took me aside while holding a tissue box. We walked about eight feet away from the picnic table, and he produced a magnifying glass from his pocket and showed me how to start a fire. This was the beginning of a brand new hobby.

From that point on, I'd spend as much time outside burning this or that as I would in my sandbox. I burnt ants, spiders, pill bugs, beetles, wood chips, paper plates, plastic bags... To this day, if I smell burning plastic, I'm immediately flashed back to my youth. Too bad it's toxic, cause it brings back some memories!

There was one time where I was melting a garbage bag that was on our front porch, and got in big trouble, because IN that garbage bag was a dead car battery... You know, you leave something in the yard of a nine year old equipped with a magnifying glass, you're asking for it to be melted / burnt, if you ask me...

I also found out that cheap walmart sandal's would catch on fire fast, and turn into a sort of burning, boiling plastic version of napalm.

I eventually started getting more creative with it. I posed my plastic captain America action figure in a cool pose, and tried to melt his leg and arm sockets in place, so he would stay that way. It didn't really work out, so all I really accomplished was destroying yet another thing.

I started burning my name into things, which turned out to also be a bad idea, because I couldn't deny that it was me burning things. "Who burnt your name into the tree out front?" "Ah... vandals?"

I got in trouble again when my cousin and I started a little tiny fire in the back hard on some dead grass. The second it caught, he stomped it out, and we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to do it again... Then at dinner, he told my mother about it, like it was awesome... "What??" she said. "Nothing!" I said... And he retold the story. /facepalm.

Fast-forward to 1994. We were on a trip to Jaffery New Hampshire, my aunt had rented a cottage, and my cousin and I were dragged away for the week. We spent the whole week playing Rummy 500 and having camp fires. We burnt all their wood, and started burning odds and ends we found in the garage... Paneling we pulled off the walls, boxes and what not.

Looking back, it's a miracle we survived that weekend, because we found a red "stick" in the garage that we thought might be dynamite. We both looked at it awestruck, wondering if it might be dynamite, and what it would be in their garage for. We agreed that we really needed to know if it was or wasn't dynamite, so like a couple of early Mensa candidates, we threw a chunk of it into the fire, and sat there watching... Turned out to only be a road flare, thank god...

Thinking back, I really don't know why that particular story had nothing to do with a magnifying glass, it would have been the perfect time / place...

Did you find fire fascinating as a kid? Were you ever schooled in the arts of of the magnifying glass lighter, or was I, like in so many others of my childhood activities, the only one?

The 21 Weirdest Beer and Liquor Laws |

The 21 Weirdest Beer and Liquor Laws |

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aliens: What If...

I've always been a big believer in extra-terrestrial life. I think it'd be arrogant to believe we are the only life out there among billions of solar systems. I've also always been a fan of science fiction, although I've never really liked the movies in which aliens come to earth to strip it of it's resources. That's our job!

In order to do something as monumental as achieving inter-galactic travel, I'm willing to bet it would require some serious team work. For a civilization to get to that point, every one of them would have to understand the value of life, cooporation, blahblahblah. I find it far more likely that if they come here at all, their intentions would be more along the lines of peace. Perhaps there's some inter-stellar counsil and we just might be the addition that they've been waiting for! What a blown opportunity it would be to land and kill everyone, you know?

I always liked the way they handled this in Star Trek, The Next Generation. Pre-Warp drive civilizations are left to their own devices figuring things out, and once they build the first warp drive vessle, they're greeted by Star Fleet. "Ok, now that you're out here, introductions are in order".

Movies love to make aliens the bad guys though, and I can understand that because it's unknown, it's easier to make it scary. But how do you think the aliens are going to react when they see some of these flicks?

Yeah, I'd be pissed too. I bet they have movies where they come down to earth and they all get stupider for having been exposed to our idiocy.

Crap. I just realized I forgot the sad one's ear... There. All fixed...

I think we'd be in trouble if they came tomorrow. Who would you want to be the person to make first contact? The president? Bill Gates? The Pope? (Hah! That'd be something...)

Imagine they land and it's the WORST case scenario... Who would be the WORST person on the planet to make first contact? Paris Hilton? Pee Wee Herman? The band Kiss?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Droid Self Signed SSL issue

I'm posting this here, because I keep needing it and can never remember where I saved it... It's nothing fun to read, just some tech info for me.

1. Set up corporate sync with your gmail account first using the following.... 
(Username) enter your gmail email
(Email) enter your gmail email
(server) enter

2. Accept and save the account.

3. open Settings ~ Accounts ~ and the account you just created.

4. Modify all of the account settings to reflect your actual corporate account.

5. Save....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A to Z 2012


So I'm doing the A to Z challenge again this year. I had a good time with it last year, and met several of you, so obviously it was worth it. I urge you to check it out, if you're unfamiliar with it. If you're familiar with it, I urge you to join!

I'm hoping to get as into it this year as I did last, and have even started thinking about blog posts for it. Trouble is, every time I think of something (I think is) worth blogging about, I file it away for some letter of the alphabet... so the next month or so might be a little slow around here for me.

In the mean time, I may toss up a favorite video clip or two or something just to keep in the habit... You know, "phone it in", as it were.

For now, just thought I'd say hello, I'm still alive, and I'll be back soonly.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Things I do for my Kids

I got up this morning early and hit the local Dunkin Donuts as a treat. I bought a pile of munchkins and returned. The kids were excited, as we don't often get donuts for breakfast. "Yipee!" they shouted.

I realized then, that a 2 year old and a 6 year old may not know exactly how to moderate themselves when eating delicious but not-very healthy foods such as donut holes. Well, ever the vigilant protector of my youths, I took it as my civic duty to make sure they didn't over eat these confections, by eating most of them myself.

Sure it wasn't the healthiest of decisions on my part, but I feel it was my duty and honor to make that sacrifice for my kids, that they may have healthier eating habits as they grow older.

While this was the first such decision I made consciously, I realized that I've been looking out for their well being in such a manner for a long time! Halloween, Christmas, even birthdays with all that artery-clogging cake and ice cream... Why, if it weren't for me, I bet these kids would have had at least 75% more junk food around them over the course of their lives so far! What a hero I am!

I shall continue my crusade, and take it even a step further, and stop eating vegetables, so that they may have ever more healthy foods available to them!

I've never felt so selfless.