General Ramblings comments edit

General Operator Certification for Public Display of
Fireworks I noticed a couple of envelopes from the Office of Homeland Security came in the mail today, which could mean only one thing: my pyrotechnician license finally arrived.

After a few years of working on shows for Western Display Fireworks (usually with Greg running the show), Jenn and I both took the pyro certification test, completed the prerequisites, and applied for our Oregon state pyro licenses. It took a while (notice the issue date is 8/4 but I just got it in the mail today), but it’s finally here.

Technically, that means we can legally buy professional fireworks and run our own show. Of course, there’s a heck of a lot more to it than just declaring you want to “have a show,” and I’m really not ready to take on that responsibility, so I don’t think that’ll be happening. But we’re could, and isn’t that what matters? (I think we’ll stick to working with Western. Heh.)

General Ramblings comments edit

Serenity In my excitement for the upcoming Firefly movie, Serenity, I’ve signed up with their fan club deal so I can get the inside scoop on some of the stuff they have going on.

Part of that is sort of a link/referral program. I can get five “credits” per click per link, to a maximum of 300 total “credits” per day, which I can use to, like, get a t-shirt or something.

So, help me get a t-shirt, and learn about a cool movie while you’re doing it. Click the following links a bajillion times a day and rack me up some points. It doesn’t cost you anything and you don’t have to buy anything - just click ‘em. I promise I’ll be your best friend.

costumes comments edit

My Wonka jacket from Redballs arrived yesterday in size 2XL and it fits perfectly, so that part of the costume is now nailed down. I’ll take it in to the dry cleaners tonight to get it cleaned and pressed (it arrived folded in a box, so it’s got creases from that; it just needs to be freshened up a bit). If you’re in the market, check Redballs out - they really rock, and the service is awesome. Any question, just email ‘em and they will totally hook you up. Just note that the sizes, at least in the Wonka coat, run a little small - I normally fit nicely into an XL, but the 2XL is what I wear in the Wonka, and it’s still just ever so slightly tight in the shoulders (not enough to worry about, but I thought I’d mention it).

That gets that part of the costume out of the way. I also verified that my suit pants still fit (yay!), so the pants are taken care of. That leaves the vest, which I’ve been looking at the pattern for and will probably commence work on tonight. Once that’s done, I’ll have it all taken care of.

This is going to be so cool.

UPDATE 10/02/05: The costume came out well. Here are the details.

General Ramblings comments edit

I noticed that the movie Serenity was coming out, and I had previously heard how good the show Firefly was (before it was cancelled), so when I saw Amazon was having a half-off sale on Joss Whedon DVDs, I picked up a copy.

Damn, it’s good.

That said, I can totally see why folks didn’t take to it. It’s a little… eclectic. When I heard people describe it as a “Western in space” I didn’t think it was so literal. I mean, they’ll ride horses then hop into their ship… or they’ll haul cattle in the spaceship… or they’ll pull a train heist on a mag-lev train using their ship… It’s very much, very literally, a “Western in space.”

But it’s so good. You really get to know and like the characters, which is something sorely missing from many television shows nowadays. And the eclectic nature of the show is itself a draw factor for me, though I can see that it would be more of a turn-off to the standard boob-tube-watching population.

Plus, Tim Minear worked on it, and he (as well as Joss Whedon) always seems to work on shows that I get to love then promptly get cancelled. There are only two redeeming factors - first, I get to watch the show nonstop without commercials; second, they’re coming out with a movie just in time.

If you get a chance, check it out. It’s like finding buried treasure.

costumes comments edit

I finished up my Wonka walking stick for my Halloween costume so I thought I’d put out some instructions on how I did it. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Parts (along with where I got them and my original cost): Cambria Gun Metal Paragon Finials (Bed Bath & Beyond)

  • Set of 2, $15 White spray paint and spray primer (Fred Meyer) - $7 Harvel Clear PVC 3/4” Schedule 80 Pipe (
  • $22.99 + $11.79 shipping Invacare 1” Cane Tips, Product #INV408504 (
  • $1.54 + $7.95 shipping Rainbow sprinkles, about half a pound (Winco Foods) - $0.75 Silica gel packets (Found 2 sitting around the house; look in shoe boxes, purses, bags, medicine bottles…) - Free Shoe Goo (Fred Meyer) - $3.95

First take the finials out of the package. You get two, you’ll only need one.

Cambria Gun Metal Paragon

You’ll need to paint white swirling stripes on one of the finials. This is the hardest part of the whole project. I made a swirl template and measured out an even number of swirls, masked it off, primered it, painted it, and lacquered it. It took me several evenings to get it done, so don’t expect you’ll have it in an afternoon.

Note that the finial ball unscrews from the finial connector. You’ll need to disconnect the finial you’re painting from its connector.

Before and after image of the

The screw that normally connects the finial to the curtain rod comes off the finial connector. Remove it, but leave the screw that connects the finial ball to the connector.

Now it’s time to cut the PVC pipe. To measure how long it needs to be, stand up and let your hands rest at your sides with a slight bend at your elbows, then have a friend measure from your wrist to the floor. That’s how long the total length of the walking stick should be. Subtract 3.5” from that for the height of the finial and that’s how long the PVC needs to be.

The PVC pipe fits inside the finial connector where the curtain rod would usually go, though there’s a tiny bit of room to spare around the edge. That’s okay. Use Shoe Goo to connect the clear PVC pipe to the finial connector. Don’t use too much or it gets all over, plus a lot will go up inside the tube and it won’t dry. That’s actually very problematic because if it doesn’t dry, you’ll never be able to turn the walking stick upright. I ruined a whole section of pipe by not realizing the Shoe Goo was too thick (and, thus, not realizing it wasn’t dry) and turning it over. A few hours later I came in to see a stream of Shoe Goo running down the inside of the tube and had to start over.

Let that dry with the finial connector at the floor and the pipe pointed upwards (the walking stick being inverted) for as long as you can. I left mine for three days. A day in or so, I took the screw that connects the finial ball to the connector and pushed it slowly into the tube through the connector just a short distance to stir around in any still-wet Shoe Goo in there (and there was some). I poked the screw through the dry layer of Shoe Goo to get air to the wet portion, then returned the screw to its original position. The point is, make absolutely sure the Shoe Goo is dry.

You may find it troublesome to have the screw poking out of the finial attachment and resting on the ground. Take a Dixie cup and poke a small hole in the center of the bottom, then put the screw through that. It makes it so the Dixie cup is sitting on the ground and the screw isn’t oddly positioned.

Attaching the finial connector to the PVC

Once that’s dry, you can trim any excess Shoe Goo from around the finial connector with a knife and then connect your finished, painted finial ball to the walking stick.

Attaching the painted finial to the finial

Now for the really easy part. Get the rainbow sprinkles and your silica gel packets out.

You see I have like two pounds of rainbow sprinkles there. You don’t need that much. I didn’t bother doing the math or anything, but about half a pound should do you.

Rainbow sprinkles and silica gel

Using a funnel, fill the cane up with rainbow sprinkles. Fill it all the way to the very end, leaving only about a millimeter or two of space. It should look like you don’t have enough room for the silica gel packets. Push them in the end of the cane, compressing the rainbow sprinkles. This tight fit will make it so the cane doesn’t rattle when you move it - you don’t want any extra space at all for the rainbow sprinkles to jiggle around in.

Now, pull one of the cane tips out of the box…

One-inch cane

…and push it onto the end of the cane. It will be a pretty snug fit (the cane tips fit 1” canes and the outside diameter of the pipe is 1.05”), but it will go on nicely and won’t come off.

That’s it! You’re done!

The finished Wonka walking

I’ve seen a couple of links out there to more authentic looking walking sticks. Unfortunately, I had already invested the money in materials before I saw these, and I’m not sure how much they cost. Pending on your resources, you could probably make this version pretty cheaply.

You’ll note that both Schedule 40 and Schedule 80 clear PVC pipe exists. The difference is the wall thickness. The Schedule 40 pipe walls aren’t as thick as Schedule 80. While the 40 is cheaper, the 80 offers more stability, which I felt was key for use in a walking stick. The above stick is done with Schedule 80 pipe. If you choose to try and save money using Schedule 40 pipe, this should all still work, you’ll just need some more rainbow sprinkles because the inside of the pipe will have a larger volume.

UPDATE 10/02/05: The whole Wonka costume I made came out well. Here are the details.