Black and White Walls
Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
So much of our lives are spent worrying about the future, over things which we have no control, over people who have their own minds and their own actions. You need to stop as often as possible and gather up all the small wonders in your life and let the smells bring back memories and the sunbeams warm your nap. You need to carry your loved ones in your pocket and always take a lot of pictures.

My life and the life of my family has changed over the years - it changed recently to something nearly unheard of. Through it all I was always able to walk up these stairs and see these faces and remember what it's liked to love and be loved, what it's like to know you have a home no matter where you live and no matter what happens there are people who care about you and want you to be happy.

So it is on this Thanksgiving Eve that I think about the things in my life that really matter and for which I truly grateful. It's been a unique year punctuated by world crisis, American hope and individual struggle. As the end of each year approaches, the mantra always becomes, "Next year will be better." But don't forget the good parts of the year, the good parts of your life. Don't forget that time you found $5 in your old jacket when you needed some gas until pay day. Don't forget that convenience store clerk who always rounds up your change. Don't forget the new friends you made while completing a task you didn't want to do in the beginning.

It's easy to forget the Good Samaritans, the generous, the caring, the nice. It's easy to remember the mean, the cold and the nefarious. All the talk from the neighborhood gossip to the political theater rarely bring up the joyful and kind nature that humans posses. So take this Thanksgiving, give thanks to something new. Parents, we know you're thankful for your kids, be thankful for their teachers and daycare workers. People with jobs, be thankful not that you have a job, but that your boss and his boss and his boss, in this climate, are still paying you and hopefully being decent people. Don't be thankful for the food you're about to eat, be thankful to the people who grew that food, shipped it, packaged it and run the stores from which you bought it.

Mankind needs to stop every once in a while and look at the pictures in its hallway and remember how it got where it is now. We're a violent, warring people by instinct. But if we stop and show others that we're thankful to be included in this world, maybe they'll stop and be thankful for us too.

Happy Thanksgiving.


TVZ Reviews: Fringe

The FBI running an operation against a dock warehouse. A freight truck appears (and looks to be steaming or covered in dust) and the FBI jump it, pull the drivers out and open the back to see a bunch of stuffed pandas. The head agent, Agent Loeb reports to Broyles saying they made a switch. Loeb shows Broyles a file on a Joseph Smith. During the debriefing, the Loeb starts convulsing and is taken to the hospital. The ER team takes paddles to him them opens him up. His heart starts beating normally as they crack and spread and the ER doctors all freeze stupefied as we see inside the chest cavity to what appears to be a toothed, gray growth around the heart.

For the rest, visit www.televisionzombies.com


Like A Kid Again

Nebulon Ranger
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
...only with bigger toys.

For the last few months I've been pulling my old LEGO from the garage, dusting them off (literally, with a toothbrush) and doing all manner of playing, building, sorting, dismantling and generally messing up my room. I finally broke down all the Star Wars sets and had them sorted in a moderately convenient fashion. No sooner did I finish putting the last single 1x1 rounded plate into its bin did I start building a model I've been wanting to do for years. In fact, I'd begun even before all the bits were sorted completely - I'd find pieces I thought I could use and set them aside for later, I'd pull out all the browns I had because I knew it was an uncommon color.

The ship I wanted to build was seen in a Dark Horse Comic series called Tales of the Jedi. It was one of the better Star Wars stories and sadly one of the ones not to get much interest outside of the comic. There was no giant media push, no associated video game or novel or cartoon. My guess is because it was dark, deep and decidedly not cute. I owned the books for a long time but after a few times moving I decided to thin out what few comics I had and thus they were sold to a local shop. Figuring I could use the internet to find images of the ship, these are the two I was able to find.

I thought I had a long road ahead of me. The comic image is decent enough but is full of "comic detail;" the quick pen strokes that fudge the construction bits. (Not their fault.) And the schematic, while useful, had nothing indicating scale and only had the front and left side. I was really concerned my take on this ship wouldn't be as true to the design as I'd have liked and I really wanted to make my first MOC (my own creation) a success. So I was really lucky when I finally stumbled on to this. It was a godsend. I couldn't believe I'd found someone who'd made a model of this and shot it from so many angles. Finding this really energized me and while the shots weren't very detailed, they were good enough to give me an idea of how this needed to be built. (A good example, from the schematics, can YOU tell there are six engines? I couldn't.)

With the project revitalized, I set about getting it built. I realize now I should have taken some progress shots, but what are you gonna do. The next step was to determine size. I wanted to make it minifig scale (for the layperson - minifigs are the LEGO figures) but there were only the Wookieepedia references to length and weight. Given a minifig is 1.5" and a normal human is roughly 1.7m, you can get a basic 1inch=1meter ratio. Meaning this sucker was going to be two and a half feet long and that big ass wing was going to be almost four feet.

I wasn't going to have enough brown.

So I made do with a lot of light and dark gray and did a lot of internal construction with other colors. I started like I do every ship I've ever built by building around the pilot. I was trying to keep it simple, knowing I could always go back and add any greebles I'd want later. (Greebles - small bit of detailing to break up the surface and add visual interest.) But the more I built, the bigger it got and soon I was outside the realm of manageable model to giant UCS (ultimate collector series) sized model. And it was getting unwieldy - the wing itself was so heavy that I had to work on ways to reinforce it to keep it from just separating and falling off. If I were to do it all over, I'd build a different frame first, something that had all it's support based off that huge friggin wing. As it is, I'm fairly certain while the ship sits up on a shelf in the library that it's going to come crashing down and I'm going to lose a ton of parts. (I should move that tonight.)

So I finished this weekend and it came in at roughly 18" long, 36" tall and weighing about 4.5lbs. I'm very proud of it but I'm a little worried that I don't have anywhere to go after this. It's a big model and an obscure ship that (as far as I can tell) no one has built out of LEGO before. What's left to do? More of the same ships over and over again? I have a few ideas for things to build so I'll leave this bad boy together for a while then it'll be time to tear it all apart and start something new.

So this brings up two things I wanted to mention in closing. One, if you find any garage sales or online deals with LEGO sets, please let me know. I still plan on trying to get all the Star Wars sets as well as some older space sets, but now it's more for parts than to have a collection. I might get a few in boxes to hang on to. And two, if you have or know where to find cheap (see: free) storage bins, drop me a line. I still have half of my sets to break down but I'm out of bins and most of the parts are in Ziploc bags.

So, that's what I've been doing lately. You?


Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

No I don't plan on blowing up anything with gunpowder, but apparently there's enough emotion in a phone center to blow the doors off. Ms. A volunteered at the Travis County Obama election HQ to make phone calls to get out the vote. Here's her story.

* * *

Last night was one of the most perfect nights I've ever seen. I spent the entire day at the Obama Austin Headquarters downtown volunteering. I called Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada and Alaska. I made over 800 phone calls (on my cell phone) reminding people to vote and telling them where their polling place was. They brought food and drinks and snacks in all day long. I met Lucy Baines Johnson after she spoke to the crowd giving words of encouragement. I shook her hand after she handed out water to those of us that needed to wet our lips a little and right before she got on the phones herself. She said that helping with Obama's campaign was the equivalent of working on her dad's campaign. She said she couldn't think of a better thing to do with her time yesterday. I couldn't think of a better thing to do with mine either. There were about 250 of us there at that time.

I drank over 7 bottles of water. My lips were still chapped and my voice was hoarse.

I had to recharge my phone three times yesterday. 800 phone calls is a lot! Thank goodness for free long distance.

Old people in Pennsylvania can be exceptionally mean. Let me tell you, MEAN. I was cussed out by a 97 year old woman named Estelle. Not even kidding.

At five thirty, Ben picked me up, we grabbed a quick beer downtown and watched the first few returns come in. Then we sped home and I grabbed a quick shower and went back downtown. I got back to the headquarters at 7:30 and got back on the phones, calling Nevada. They were MUCH nicer. I called Nevada until five minutes before their polls closed and then moved on to Alaska, interrupting the calls only to scream and cry when they announced Ohio. The roof nearly came off when Ohio was announced.

There was about 150 of us there when Nevada's polls closed and they announced Ohio.

After I finished about 100 calls to Alaska, I sat on one of the couches and drank a beer (paid for by the Obama campaign) and ate some peanut butter crackers. I'd been keeping to myself mostly, not much time to socialize when there is change to be made. I sat on the couch next to a woman for about five minutes, talking idly about the campaign and some of the reporters on cnn. Then they announced it.

And the roof did come off.

You could hear the screaming for miles.

You could hear the screaming coming from the streets. You could hear cheers from downtown.

I jumped into the air, landing about 10 feet in front of where i'd been standing. When i landed, I was crying. We yelled, cried, screamed and jumped into the air for what seemed like forever. I can still hear it echo. I've never felt such electricity in a room before and never experienced spontaneous contagious emotion.
I turned around and the woman I'd been sitting next to was standing very still, looking very calm with tears streaming down her face as well. We hugged each other and just let go this world of emotions. I'm convinced that if we hadn't been holding on to each other we'd have both been in the floor.

I found out later her name was Jennifer.

After things called down a little, and i'd had another cigarette and beer, I went back to the phones. There is always more work to be done.

I walked back up to the front and made my way to the big screen in time to watch McCain's concession speech. There were no more chairs so I knelt in the floor, the big screen in front of me, behind it, an open door and the view of the Capitol building. I hugged my knees and cried some more. I've never been more proud, if ever proud at all, to be an American. The man sitting in the chair next to me put his hand on my back and said very softly, "its over now. We did it. We don't have to worry about it anymore."

There were close to 200 people in the building when McCain spoke.

I realized that if McCain was giving his concession then Obama would be speaking soon. I packed up as fast as I could and drove 80 mph up I-35 to Pflugerville.

I made it home last night in time to watch Obama take the stage with his family. I woke Rowan up and brought her downstairs to watch it with me. I sat in the floor in front of Miia and next to Rowan and let the tears stream down my face as I watched history walk out of fiction, onto the stage of the American Presidency.

And there is more work to be done. Here we go!