Steel Soldier

My other "car guy" craziness from the last year is this 1990 AM General M998 HMMWV.  No offense to the H2 and H3 owners out there but I made this offhand comment one day: "You know, if I was going to own a Hummer, I think I'd want to own, you know: A Real Hummer."

The seed of a thought was planted and watered with enough whiskey and dark beer and one day, this is what emerged.  A good friend paved the way and started collecting veteran vehicles from military decommissioned auctions.  It is truly amazing what you can buy.   A 105mm tow-behind field artillery piece?  Sure, no problem, they have them. Disabling the firing capability and scarce ammunition-availability equates to "Okey-Dokey" legal status.  

Getting the hummer road-legal was a bit of a challenge, even being spoon-fed the path through the bureaucratic woods by the same friend who'd been through it.

At the end of the day and after ALOT of work crawling around the engine compartment, I have to say that this M998 HMMWV (H1) Humvee is one of the funnest things I've ever driven.     It makes me wish I had more time, tools and (did I mention time?) to tinker with it.  I've been stuck between the mindset of "keep it original" and "go-nuts and customize the crap out of it."  

Sadly, I think between my two impractical / range limited vehicle choices, our crowded driveway and cramped schedule I'll end up parting with one of these two vehicles in the coming months.  Being a grown-up sucks doesn't it? :)

 

Top Down

I'm a closet car guy.  I really like cars.. Not just shiny ones, either.   Whether a Rusty pick up on blocks and half-concealed with overgrowth or a sweet, show-ready, freshly waxed Porsche GT3 I see around town with the vanity tag: "NOWIFE".  I really like cars.

(and I love my wife) :)

There's interesting and subtle art in the curves of car bodies and the oxidizing decay of metal over time.   The stories and the history from the car culture Americana of the 50's through the street racing rice-rocket tuners: it's all super fascinating and interesting.   The art is there, the history and the people.  Car people are typically cool to be around.  Especially the sorts that load up and sit around in lawn chairs at car shows.  

Something about a functional garage too....  The mixture of smells from gear oil, GoJo and transmission fluid and the sounds of impact wrenches and the distinctive (clank clank) sound of a breaker bar hitting a concrete floor.     Like Starbucks ambiance for the motor-head soul.

This.. leads me to owning two super impractical vehicles.     This one, a high-ish mileage R171 Mercedes-Benz AMG55 and a 1990 AM General Military HMMWV in a Vietnam-era Camo paint scheme.    On the plus side of things:

Neither vehicle is particularly expensive in used-car form.  Choosing a car for a commute is a little like the select-a-car screen from the Cruisin' USA Arcade game.   The convertible has a snappy 5.4l V8, that will go 0-62 in 4.9 seconds with 200MPH on the speedometer, stiff suspension and a throaty exhaust that sounds like the offspring of an American-made muscle car and a Euro-Drift  tuner.  The HMMWV has a 6.2l Detroit Diesel engine pushing a beastly 5200lbs.  It rides on 37" MT Military on/off road tires, offers 4WD, and 0-65MPH in about three days, which is also the top speed.  It is built for ruggedness, can be forded and is super-simple to work on.

On the down side of things, neither vehicle is particularly suited for Long Range trips with cargo.   The Benz burns premium fuel, uses nearly 9 quarts of the most expensive oil possible.    Neither vehicle make me a particular great steward of the environment in terms of fuel economy.
I also, generally like to fold in and out of the public without being noticed like a hermit-ninja.  It turns out that ostentatious vehicles increase the difficulty of this task... considerably. :)

At any rate... that's my car-stuff ramblings for now.   I ran before a gathering of photographers to the Fairhope Pier and snapped this photo.  Adventures were had but more on that another time...

Find a car show near you and go listen to the rumble of a V8, flutter of a Turbo, whistle of a Supercharger or the purr of a tuned European exhaust system and tell me it isn't infectious..

Pinball Photography

Pinball! That's random, right?     One of my favorite hobbies, especially in the winter months is pinball and arcade game restoration & play.    The eclectic, "HEY GIVE ME YOUR QUARTERS!" designs and lighting from the 70's,80's & 90's make for neat photography, in my opinion.    

Here are some recent photography from pinball of machines that I've worked on, restored or had the good fortune to play at friends' homes.  Hope you enjoy! :)

Floating Some Ideas

I count myself pretty fortunate that these days I don't have to spend hardly any time at all in business meetings.    

As a contractor, I learned that's the benefit of being an unknown quantity in a large organization or a known quantity in a small one.   Either you stay under the meeting radar or the company is agile enough to only meet when necessary, free of the tension of spans-and-layers of organization hierarchy.

That hasn't always been the case though.  There have been days where I had to reserve time on the work calendar as OOO (out of the office) in order to actually just get some real honest-to-goodness, this-is-what-you-pay-me-for, work done.

The distractedness of living in what I lovingly call "meeting hell", led me to generate these mental games of sorts, to keep my spirits up and my mind occupied.

One of them was: 

The Business Lexicon - Bullshit Jargon Virtual Drinking Game

You know those tick marks people mark on walls when they are stuck in medieval prisons?  Four vertical lines and a diagonal grouped in fives...  

Good. You will need that skill..

It's a simple game, here's how you play it.  On your meeting notepad, simply make a tick mark on the sheet somewhere every time someone utters a cringeworthy Dilbert-esque empty-speak piece of B.S. Jargon.   One tick mark for every:

Synergy
Circle Back
Put a Pin it It
Informatics
Mindshare
Reconceptualize
..any word mashup built from inappropriate 'e'-prefixes, like e-tailers

You get it.  It's a little subjective, like Scrabble.

Then, on another part of your notes, make a tick mark every time someone uses some sort of inside-baseball business jargon in a clear and effective way to convey the idea.

At the end of the meeting, count your tick marks.  Treat each B.S. Jargon tick mark like it was a shot of tequila (or rum or whatever you like).   Treat the other like a shot of expresso.  Do the over under and see how your caffeine or alcohol intake would have impacted your health..

Roughly 14 shots of tequila / vodka / appropriately strong rum can bring your BAC to .4%, in a 150lb human. This is considered potentially fatal, though realistically your body would activate it's "What the hell are you doing?" defensive measures and you'd have to work at actually keeping that quantity of booze down.

On the other end of the spectrum, it can take up to about 100-150 shots of expresso before the grim reaper comes looking for your vibrating body.   

A side-effect (feature) of this little game is that when you have your inevitable "meeting-with-the-Bobs", ala Office Space and someone asks you about meeting effectiveness, you have a glanceable metric (shot) for a proper performance analysis (shot) concerning the cost-to-labor benefit (shot) of...err..hrmm.. ZZZzzzzzzZzzzZ

*drool*

Anthropomorphism

I've been working on a military vehicle restore, bringing a military M998 HMMWV over for civilian purposes.   A gratifying sort of troubleshooting and work that differs from my normal gig, working with my hands on something mechanical.

When I picked up my unit from the yard, there were hundreds  upon hundreds of decommissioned and derelict military vehicles on the lot.   A few of them showed a ton of personality and character.

"Hey there, little guy"

I stepped out to our shed to grab some sand toys for the family and as I reached for the handle I noticed this fella hanging around. I started talking to him (yeah I'm weird):

"Hey there little guy, I don't think my wife would have been super happy to reach for the handle and grab a hand-full of squishy-cold frog, you might want to find somewhere else to camp out."

It was almost like he looked at me and shrugged or smirked and as I opened the shed, got the sand-toys and left, he never moved. As if to say, "nah man, I'm good - this is my spot" or maybe channeling Cheech: "Cool man..... it's all copacetic.."

This was taken with my iPhone, which I find myself turning to increasingly more for photography....

More on that soon..

Kylo Ren plays Pinball

Kylo Ren stopped by during a recent block-party and outdoor movie night to play Star Wars Pinball in our basement arcade / gameroom.

The 501st is an awesome group of guys and gals that promote Star Wars fun and capture the imagination of kids of all ages.  They often attend events (cons, charity events, baseball games, moving premiers - you name it).    If you are at an event and see someone with a dead-on accurate costume of a Star Wars character or a working full-size Droid milling about, odds are they are a member of the 501st.   

more information here:   www.501st.com

Simple Magic

It isn't every day that my wife and I get to collaborate on a project.   When my sister in Indiana and her (now) husband asked if we could help to arrange a simple beach wedding for them, we were all too happy to accommodate. 

I sourced and built the archway and Dina came up with the idea for the flameless candles to fashion an approach to the archway.  

I build things and Dina made them look pretty.   :)

With only four of us, a friend handling photography and a wedding officiant, the bride and groom were happy with their simple sunset ceremony on the Gulf. 

Reflection Rider (4k)

Reflection Rider  (4k Short)

About a Mile from my front porch, headed North sits a fish camp at the base of a bridge on Alabama State Highway 225.  The bridge crosses a waterway that spills into the southeast portion of Bay Minette Basin and into Bay Minette, itself.  

(Bay Minette: the bay, not Bay Minette: the oddly named and illegally-established county seat of Baldwin County.) 

As you stand at the launch: to your left, the delta sprawls in front of a distant Mobile skyline.  In front of you, the waterway stretches into the distance with a few piers and hunting camps along the east side.  To the right sits a pier and a houseboat with tons of southern character.   The property is smattered with outbuildings with tin-roofs and varied construction methods and the parking area was heavily washed out from a recent heavy-rainstorm.

As I opened the SUV and unloaded a small drone, the sound of a creaking screen door as 91-year old Leslie Buzbee comes out to investigate my presence, as he often does.  It is that strange moment where the kind-eyed property owner sizes me up to determine what my business is here around sunset.  

His confusion is only expanded when I approach, as I always do, clutching a $5 bill and a friendly wave to offer to pay a launch fee.   He puzzles over my shoulder as he looks at my dated white SUV (without a boat) and I maintain my best harmless smile as I struggle with the etiquette of showing unannounced at someone's home (that is also a business, of sorts).  

I explain that I'm here for pictures and he waves off my $5 offering, as he always does.   I've learned to be careful with my choice of words in these situations.   "I'm here for a shoot." may be understood by most people in the context and presence of photography equipment but sometimes the word "shoot" can put a man like this on his guard. 

On this day, Mr. Buzbee is puppy-sitting his son's dog, Popeye; who at that very moment was particularly interested in the small white plastic drone on the ground near the waterfront.    I'm aware that his son, as they say in these parts: "had a run-in with the law", a few years back but I keep the conversation in the safe topics like Popeye's playful meanderings, the weather & fishing.  

Most of the time Leslie Buzbee isn't very talkative but sometimes you may get him to share stories of the time he was hired to 'wrangle alligators' during the filming of Friday the 13th VII up the road at Byrnes Lake landing.

As I flew the drone, Mr. Buzbee kept a watchful eye from his porch.  I walked over to show him the Drone's view from the iPad.   He looked at the screen and seemed to get it though he didn't say much as he watched the iPad screen and the changing view from the drone which was hovering about 100 feet high and 1,000 feet away.  A few minutes into the flight Popeye began to wander too close to the nearby road and he enlisted my help to corral the wayward pup back into his house.  

As I laid down the controller of the still-in-flight drone to coax Popeye away from the road, I believe Mr. Buzbee's curiosity towards my flying camera apparatus returned but at this point, the sunset (and my battery-life) had concluded.  

This video was the result of this outing.

Regatta al Sol

Had a great time shooting the Regatta al Sol with the awesome folks from Good Grit Magazine today.  Between the epic hospitality of the boat owner/captain (Pictured top left) and the wonderful facilities of the Pensacola Yacht Club, it was a very cool shoot.  Always nice to work with talented and fun folks :)

This is actually just a screen grab from one of today's videos.   Plenty of beautiful boats and talented sailers!