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.

vs comments edit

For, well, quite a long time, I’ve noticed that Visual Studio .NET 2003 locks up hard when I try to pin/unpin the toolbox window. I chalked it up to some odd interaction between add-ins I was running.

Stu sent me over this article, though, and it turns out this is a known issue from .NET Framework 1.1 SP1.

According to the article, it’s not the toolbox locking up, it’s the Server Explorer (even if it’s not showing). The solution? Dock the Server Explorer on a different side of the Visual Studio window than the toolbox.

I did it and I can now pin/unpin the toolbox with no issues whatsoever. YMMV.

General Ramblings comments edit

The concept of the automatic content censor (a la Net Nanny or CYBERsitter) is, for people with kids or conservative attitudes, an intriguing one. It’s like “anti-spam” for the web.

The thing is, they only mostly work, sort of the way spam filters only mostly work. That’s actually a real problem because with spam, you don’t have a choice - it floods into your email inbox without your asking for it; with web sites, you have the choice of visiting a site or not visiting it. Nobody’s forcing you to visit that donkey porn site, you should just know better.

Again, for folks with kids, people like the idea of automated policing. I’d like to think education would be a better solution, but I’m not the parent of your kids.

What’s got me incensed about this today is reading over at Raymond Chen’s site, it seems that there’s an Australian Internet cafe that is probably using this software and it’s blocking access to his site. I’m not sure what reading about programming matters does against the sensitivities of a child, but some automated content censor has deemed it inappropriate. I’m sure I’ve probably been censored too (though I admit I’ve had my moments language-wise, so it’d be more understandable, if annoying).

While I’m not a fan of the whole content censor thing, I’d wager over-censoring is a far greater sin than under-censoring. Oh, well. Do what you gotta do, people.

downloads, vs, coderush comments edit

UPDATE: CR_SortLines has found a new home with the DXCore Community Plugins project. Head over there to get the latest and read more!

Just like I use the “Join Lines” function a lot, I also sort lines a lot in text editing. That’s another feature Visual Studio didn’t have that I wanted - the ability to sort lines.

CR_SortLines adds a command (“Sort Lines”) that you can bind to a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+F9 is what I use) and will sort lines in the code editor.

CR_SortLines in

Installation is as easy as copying a DLL into a folder and adding the keyboard shortcut. The included readme.txt outlines installation, usage, and workarounds for known issues.

Requires DXCore 1.1.40 or later (DXCore is a FREE download from Developer Express - go get it!). UPDATE: CR_SortLines has found a new home with the DXCore Community Plugins project. Head over there to get the latest and read more!

Version History: First release.