starship rendezvous

When I was a wee little one, I went to a Catholic school near DC. In third grade, a kid named Miguel joined our class. His father was in the Venezuelan military and was stationed in DC, doing who-the-fuck-knows-what. Miguel and I became friends with a strong interest in the then brand-new Star Trek: The Next Generation television show, as well as those little plastic bricks I seem to have on my brain so often.

We built these big starships on Lego baseplates – nothing original, nothing super fantastic, ships made more real by our imaginations then by any pretense at skill with those bricks. Shoddy construction, color clashes, and non-uniformed crew never stopped us from acting out our own Star Trek adventures every weekend.

I have to admit that I was on the not-so-imaginative side, then. While he named his “crew” after people he knew, I just stole the crew from TNG – I, of course, was the Captain, but my crew consisted of Riker, Data, Geordi, Worf, Yar, Crusher & Troi. Miguel refused to allow me to name my ship “Enterprise”, so I think I called it the “Rendezvous” because it was the coolest name I could think of.

This is probably why I’m such a Lego geek today. Regardless, when I first discovered that there was an internet community of adult fans of Lego, my first desire was to see big, massive starships — not built on open baseplates, with no hulls, roofs, or engines — but honest expressions of what big Lego ships cruising through space might look like!

The first Lego starship I ever saw was Mark Sandlin’s Mirthandir.

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I drooled looking at those pictures. I mean, wow! Yeah, okay, the color scheme is a little odd, but this was the biggest Lego spaceship I’d at that point ever seen (and I think this was the first big Lego spaceship ever made). The detail completely amazed me — every time I look at that ship, the exterior and interior photos, I always see something new. Mirthandir was, however, a simplified expression of a ship – bridge, engine, weapons. No mess, no crew quarters. An idea, more than an actual realized completion. At first it satisfied my hunger, but then it didn’t even feed it.

Dammit, I wanted more!

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^ More!

Boy did I find it. Kyle Keppler’s Myase seemed huge in comparisson, taking its basic design from Mirthandir, and expanding. Not only did the ship have a larger crew, but also bunks, mess, and toilets!
Even if Myase took the “bigger” mantra with a good side dish of “bulky” (I’d be damn proud to build something that good lookin’), there was something about these first two ships I found that said, “we’re just the tip of the iceburg.”

After discovering Myase, I happened upon the work of Dan Jassim, now known unofficially in the AFOL community as the undisputed king of the Starship. Care to guess why?

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Dan’s first ships were big, and impressive, but I didn’t care for the use of baseplates, which, I have to admit, seemed sort of like cheating — after all, I built ships on baseplates! (I mean, nowhere near that cool, don’t get me wrong) but I think I always had, in the back of my head, the notion that big lego spaceships just don’t get built with baseplates!

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Jon Palmer had some big … something … going on, but truthfully, I could never quite figure it out. It sort of reminded me of a story concept I once read, I think David Gerrold, about a starship run on a caste system – one group lived in the engineering section of the ship — dark, cramped, these subhumans toiled so that the “upper” caste — in the ship’s brightly lit, well maintained recreation suites — could live like royalty. Anyway, Palmer’s Bardiel sort of suggested the same sort of ship to me, although I’m not quite sure why … (some sections of it had an organic feel?)

Other Totally Excellent Big Lego Ships:
(Each image is a link – click on the link for more pictures!)

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yamato20.JPGbiggie.jpgexplor.JPGbastard.jpgghoul.jpgfinished2.jpgshuttle.jpg03.jpgdragonstar-1b.jpg

But of all these ships, all are quite literally eclipsed by the mammoth scale of Adrian Drake’s Tribunal:

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Now THAT’S an awesome bit of work, there. And, I’d wager, only the first of the “giganta-humongous” Lego ships currently being designed in the whacked out head of some big kid …

(Like me!!!!)

Hitler = Michael? Idiot.

Well, it happened.

In comments, an individual opposed to Terri Schiavo’s method of death wrote, “By the way: Death by starvation has been considered a war crime since WWII. Starvation was, after all, the “law” of Hitler.

Wow. It’s true – people are stupid.

Hitler wouldn’t have waited through nine years of court outcoms to starve someone to death. Terri Schiavo’s case has had more than its fair share of the neccessary legal mechanizations (NINE YEARS WORTH!) to determine that Michael Schiavo was in the right when he said that Terri would not have wanted to kept alive on a feeding tube, and therefore that pulling the feeding tube is consistant with what she would want.

(I know, it’s a pain to actually consider what Terri would want – remember, her parents admitted that even if she’d told them, “I would not want to live like this”, they testified – in court – that they wouldn’t have respected her wishes).

Sure, I think we’d all prefer a doc start a morphine drip and end it quickly – quick death is always preferable to a slow death. On the other hand, Terri’s been dying for fifteen years – what’s a few more days to that?

But considering Terri’s brain has deteriorated into mush, she can’t feel pain. So while starvation is probably pretty painful for a conscious person, there is a great deal of medical evidence that it isn’t painful for a person in Terri’s condition.

Comparing Terri Schiavo’s situation to the Holocaust is a fucking shameful travesty. Hitler never went through the courts to execute people, and he certainly wouldn’t have spent nine years in courts trying to do it — do you even study history? Because honestly, your brain seems pretty fucking dead to me.

Here’s another gem:

I think, after all the dust has settled, that this whole case concerning Terri Schindler-Schiavo will be one of an immoral husband, hiring a greedy amoral lawyer to petition a lazy amoral judge to murder a defenseless woman.

You are, of course, wrong.

A) Michael Schiavo dedicated six years of his life to trying to help Terri recover, including enrolling in medical school. You call him immoral – why? Because he decided to pull the plug? Tom Delay didn’t wait six years to decide that his father wasn’t going to make it — doesn’t that make Tom Delay immoral?

B) In other words, you’re just being an ass for being an ass’s sake. That’s okay. I don’t mind. (Kind of, I do).

C) Well, first you should probably read some facts about the case — are you aware that more than one judge has reviewed the case? Further, are you aware that Judge Greer is not the “liberal activist” judge you probably assume he is, but rather is a conservative and a religious man? Of course, what Judge Greer understands is that it is his job to rule by this pesky little thing called the “law.” Read up on that, then come back. :)

Oh, swing over to Lee’s Right Thinking from the Left Coast and read his latest post. I’m just going to quote from him:

Now, I’m more than willing to stipulate that there is probably nothing more to this story than what it appears. However, I have a question for those of you who are more than willing to believe every possible theory about Michael Schiavo. If the story reported that he had sold the list of his supporters to a direct mail company, would you be as forgiving towards him as you are to the Schindlers?

The Schindlers can do no evil, even though they don’t give a hoot about Terri’s wishes. I said it before, I’ll say it again – they don’t give a shit about their daughter. They’d just as soon stuff her and stick her in the living room. It’s sad, but it’s time they stop thinking about themselves, and start thinking about her.

(If you so desire, and at Jaded’s request that I quote the whole piece — I’m a nice guy like that — go here, scroll down to the comments section and read his/her whole bit. It’s just as nonsensical as all of his/her comments.)

i hate me and this is why i hate me

I kept telling myself, “You aren’t going to do this. Dude, you are up to your fucking neck in debt, don’t fucking do this.”

But then the nice big man put some papers down to me, and I signed my name once or twice, and I, uh, yeah.

I don’t really know what came over me. I was drooling over this rockin’ Jeep Sunday while driving up to Scranton. And Gary and I had been talking about Jeeps for the last two weeks – he’s pissed, bought the Unlimited (stretch Wrangler) close to a year ago, it was automatic only, then. Now its got a manual tranny, so he’s a little pissed. He was all, “You should buy a 6-cyl. Brand new, hooked up, 20k.” And I was all, “Oh, they’re twenty-five starting, easy.”

But, no, Gary – of course – has a buddy, same dude he bought the Unlimited from. The guy happened to stop in Tuesday. So I made some inquiries — “Not going to do it yet,” I told him repeatedly. “Not until November, earliest.” But he was eager, and nice, and a Jeep fan, and asked me questions – remember I did my credit score? “No problem,” he tells me. “Easy financing. You got two grand for a deposit?”

Sure, in savings. Um. Right, so I don’t have a savings account anymore? Well, I do, but my balance is like five bucks … after the cashier’s check for the downpayment and all.

You getting where I’m going with this?

I just bought an ’05 Jeep Wrangler, 6-speed, CD, fuck man, SILVER!!!!!! I mean, at once I’m all DUDE! and MORON! and DUDE! and MORON! I’m leaning more towards the moron side. I just spent two hours driving the fucking thing all over the place, and of course it was like damn thirty bucks to fill the tank back up. Oh, and plus? I fucking called out of work — at the last moment — to drive up to Bel Air (not even knowing if Gary’s pal was working) to see, hmm, maybe I can drive home with a Wrangler?

My payment is $327.85 a month. Thank GOD I don’t have my first payment due until mid May. Which is like the only fucking good news going on here … looks like I’m going back to working all day, every day … who needs down time, right? Right?

I feel fucking horrible. Plus, I have to get a ride back up to Bel Air to get my Celica. Because, see, I didn’t sell the car … HAH! I bought the Jeep as a SUNDAY DRIVER. To rarely drive. I spent twenty grand on a car I’m going to drive ONCE A FUCKING WEEK. I mean, who am I kidding, I’m going to drive it more than that, I’m just not going to use it for work, what with gas being fucking outrageous.

Oh, yeah, plus Andy? My insurance agent/former co-worker? Fuck man. I mean, its not a huge increase – not as much as I feared but daaaamn I am just fucked.

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there woulda been more pictures but i didnt change the batteries after i got back from Scranton and I didn’t charge em either fuck i love that Jeep!

Is it possible to return cars? Because I heard their value like dropped 99% the second you drive them off the lot. I am in serious effin’ need of a debt consolidation loan. Or a bullet to the brain. Or someone to just step in and stop me from making these stupid fucking decisions!

(Oh! Oh! Plus? Dating someone – yeah, I know, I’m surprised too – and called her, and she was all, “where are you?” and I was all, “Uh, work?” and she believed me. If I’d told her I was buying a Jeep she woulda kicked my ass from Lauraville!!! eeep!!!!)

(Want a laugh? I once thought buying the first two seasons of the Dukes of Hazzard on DVD was a bad decision. Wake up, Jeff: that was $53 on credit card. Easy to pay off, if you just fucking concentrate once in an effin’ blue moon. TWENTY-K on a car when you’re already a shitload in debt? just double it, sure, smart plan, ass!)

Why am I such a fuck up?

(Tomorrow, I’m taking the top down and the doors off…aaaargh)

(anyone want to steal a jeep??? please????)

i guess every penny counts?

If you ever want to see Gary get pissed off enough that he’s willing to put his fist through freshly installed drywall, the best plan is to call, order 50 plus pizzas, then call back, tell him some shitty corporate shop has a better price, and cancel the order.

The six-hundred dollar order. With a ten percent tip.

The funny thing is, you’d think MCI would be flush with cash, given that they just accepted a buyout from Verizon to the tune of damn-close to seven billion smackers.

In any case, thankfully Robin does not need to come back next Sunday to do more drywall patching. Methinks he woulda been miffed.

stuff her

At work today, topic of conversation turned to Terri Schiavo – Zap made a great point regarding her parents. “Why don’t they just stuff her and put her on display in their living room?”

And why not? I mean, since it doesn’t seem like they actually give a shit about what’s best for her, and it isn’t like she’s holding conversations with them on a regular basis. Besides, this way they can get some money for their suffering.

they never would have respected her wishes

Newsweek had an interesting piece on Terri Schiavo this week.

In the early years of her condition, Michael and the Schindlers got along harmoniously, even living together in a house on the Gulf Coast for a while. They ensured that Terri received all variety of therapies, including physical, occupational and recreational. When those didn’t work, Michael flew her out to California, where a doctor implanted platinum electrodes into her brain as part of an experimental procedure that ultimately failed. Back in Florida, Michael enlisted family members to record audiotapes of their voices, which he played for Terri on a Walkman. He was fastidious about Terri’s appearance, spraying her with Picasso perfume and outfitting her in stirrup pants and matching tops from The Limited. At one Florida nursing home, he was so demanding that administrators sought a restraining order against him. But Gloria Centonze, who worked there at the time (and by coincidence later married into the family of Michael’s future girlfriend), recalls a frequent comment among the nurses: “He may be a bastard, but if I was sick like that, I wish he was my husband.” To better care for Terri, Michael even enrolled in nursing school.

They got along? No kidding …

After that, the relationship became steadily more toxic. Michael had begun to resign himself to the prospect that Terri would never improve, according to his court testimony. When she developed a urinary-tract infection in 1994, Michael followed a doctor’s recommendation not to treat it, and entered a “do not resuscitate” order (which he later rescinded after the nursing home and the Schindlers protested). The parents responded with one of many legal attempts—all of them unsuccessful—to remove Michael as Terri’s guardian, accusing him of abuse, neglect and adultery (he had moved in with a girlfriend and eventually had two babies with her). More than a few observers have questioned the timing of Michael’s change of heart, coming so soon after the malpractice award. But Michael has repeatedly insisted that after years of fruitless efforts to revive Terri, he had simply given up hope.

He had good reason to, according to most medical experts. After so many years in a persistent vegetative state, says James Bernat, a Dartmouth neurologist, the chance of recovery is “so close to zero, you might as well call it zero.” Schindler supporters often point to videos posted online that seem to show Terri tracking the movement of a balloon and responding to her parents’ prodding. “But these are random reflex movements,” says William Winslade, a bioethicist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. “It’s uncanny how the eyes blink and seem to move and follow sounds, but they’re not.” The Schindlers also repeatedly sought permission to try alternative therapies like dilating the blood vessels to pump more blood and oxygen to the brain. Yet that would have been pointless, argues Ronald Cranford, a neurologist who examined Terri in 2002. “Increase the blood flow to dead tissue, and what do you get?” he says. “Dead tissue.”

And then this, on the “what were her wishes?”:

One of the Schindlers’ witnesses, Terri’s childhood friend Diane Meyer, claimed that the topic of life support once came up in a conversation they had about the case of Karen Ann Quinlan, whose feeding tube was removed in 1985. “How did they know she would want this?” Terri allegedly asked Meyer. “How did they know she wouldn’t want to go on?” Testifying for his brother Michael, Scott Schiavo recounted an exchange he had with Terri after seeing Michael’s grandmother hooked up to a ventilator. As Scott recalls it today, “I can still see Terri looking right into my eyes and saying, ‘Not me. No way. I would not want to live like that’.”

There was one bit that really made me sit up and say “You’re fucking kidding me!”:

In a 2000 trial, the Schindlers “made what a court-appointed guardian for Terri deemed ‘horrific’ and ‘gruesome’ comments – that the family would never remove Terri’s feeding tube even if she had asked them to, and that even if she developed gangrene, the family would amputate her limbs to keep her alive.”

What a bunch of selfish little fucks. I know I said earlier I had sympathy for them – nope, not anymore. They don’t give fuck one about what Terri wants, or what would be best for Terri – they want what is best for them. Apparently, both sides have asked for an autopsy – I wonder, when its done, and when they have conclusive scientific proof that she would never recover, would they then say, “We should have let her go in peace?” Of course not. They want a brain dead woman whose hand they can hold, because the alternative would never under any circumstance be acceptable. They want to avoid the pain of their daughter’s death, no matter what it does to their daughter. For all intents and purposes, she’s gone, she’s a breathing corpse and has been for fifteen years. It’s sad, it’s tragic, but she’s gone, and they need to stop running from their pain.

i was right

I was right! Lee is back!

It’s not the religious beliefs that scare me, it’s the organized political machine that cares less about my rights as an American than it does promoting a political ideology based upon those religious beliefs. If this makes me hostile to religion then so be it.

I despise extremists. I knew that voting for Bush was voting for evangelical conservatives, but I was okay with that. Living where I live I would hear people talking about how dangerous the Christian right was. “You’re crazy,” I’d say. “When I lived in Texas I knew a ton of devoutly religious people, and they were some of the finest folks you’ll ever want to meet. You’ve got them all wrong.” Well, maybe it was me that was wrong. Because as it stands now, I don’t see the religious right giving a good goddamn about my beliefs. It was, “Thanks for the vote, asshole! Now, stay out of our way!”

Sorry, folks, I’m not going to do that. If I think you’re an asshole I’m going to call you on it, whether you’re on the right or on the left. The doors to the blog will be open for business again tomorrow morning. Come in if you like, stick around as much as you choose. And if you don’t like what I write here, fuck off. Because if you’re tuning in for your daily affirmation of your conservative Republican beliefs you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m done being a Republican. They’re just as big a bunch of corrupt, big-government whores as the Democrats ever were. The distinction here, of course, is that the Democrats never claimed to be a small-government, individual rights, federalist party. The GOP has abandoned me, and I’ve never felt better about it.

Voila. The fracturing of the Republican Party continues.

He Quits

Right Thinking at the Left Coast’s Lee quits blogging, in part because of Schiavo … or, to be more accurate, the firestorm of opinion dividing the religious right from the conservatives and the republicans from each other.

I can’t handle spending all day arguing with people whose opinions I used to respect. It’s quite obvious that there is no room in the conservative movement for someone like me. I’ve blogged in suport of the rights of the religious in America countless times, and over the past few weeks I’ve seen just how much respect those very same religious people have for me, my opinions, and the rule of law.

Fuck all of you.

Good journey, Lee. But you’ll be back.