Category Archives: Geek

Papercraft: A Cheap, Addicting Hobby

I recently stumbled across an amazing hobby called papercraft.  Apparently this has been around since the early 20th century and I am told that a form of paper modeling was popular among kids during World War II because paper was one of the few things not heavily regulated.  The internet has given papercraft wings in the new age because templates are easily uploaded, shared, and printed.  The complexity of paper models on the internet range from a simple 3D cube to a scale model of the starship Enterprise.

Cool beans, right?

Cardstock paper, a printer, scissors, a precision knive, and glue.  That’s all you need to make papercraft toys.  You simply download the template and start cutting.  It’s hella easy and hella fun.

My son starts homeschool this week.  I am so proud of my wife for taking on the responsibility of teaching our kid during the day.  With over 26 weeks in the curriculum (ABC Jesus Loves Me), we start this week with the letter A.

Shari found a papercraft alphabet that is perfect for teaching kids the alphabet.


Due to the cutting nature of these projects, I don’t recommend letting your kids in on the fun unless they are older and understand how to handle sharp objects.  There are simpler projects out there that only require scissors and are more suited for the younger crowd.


You don’t have to be perfect, but it helps to cut a semi-straight line.  This is a skill I don’t come by naturally.

By the way, ‘A’ is always for Astronaut.


When all is said and done, you should end up with a handsome looking figurine.  I hope it makes my son’s lesson a little bit more fun.

A word of caution: even though it’s made of cardstock and put together with the indefatigable Elmer’s Glue, it should be handled with care.  My 2 year old took a Storm Trooper figurine I made and turned it into a paper ball.  I guess as a toy, it works on multiple levels.

Papercraft rocks!

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35mm Amusement – 2nd Roll

I went ahead an did the Facebook/Flickr thing with all of the pictures I took on the Nikon FE, but I reserved these three for the blog.

Texas occasionally has spats of good weather during the winter and we like to take those opportunities to step outside for some fresh air.  On this particular day at the beginning of the year, we used the power of the sun to dry our wet laundry.  The light had a really interesting quality to it and I knew I had a few shots left on the Nikon, so I took them.

Even though the pictures didn’t come out the way I saw them in my mind’s eye, I am pleased with how they look.  Of course, I am always pleased with how my wife looks… always.

The results were totally unexpected.  First, the film is expired, so there is no telling exactly what has happened to the emulsion.  Second, I’m still getting used to the light meter, and the shots aren’t exposed correctly.  Third, I think that there is a possibility of some light leaks on the back of the camera due to some rotted out light seals.  Looks like I’m going to have to get those fixed.

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35mm Amusement – 1st Roll

I am slow.  So slow that I am just now starting to catch up with all of the media I generated during the Christmas holiday.  I was recently inspired to pick up my sister’s old Nikon FE 35mm SLR and shoot a few rolls of film.  I loved getting back to the basics of photography.  My wife and I both have nice digital SLRs with snappy auto-focus, auto white balance, super accurate digital light meters, and many other bells and whistles that take all of the thinking out of the exposure.

Taking a picture without that high-speed processing power makes you really think about what you’re shooting, what kind of light you’re shooting in, and whether or not you really need a picture of it.  Especially when you realize that you only have 24 exposures per roll.  Add to that the increasing price of film developing and you start to get nervous every time you press that shutter release.  I think it’s that nervous excitement that I crave, hoping that the picture turns out exactly the way you see it in your head.  Film photography has become a novelty rather than a standard (at least I think it’s novel).  I love the “film look”, and I can’t wait to shoot some more with that camera.

Pictures taken with a Nikon FE, Nikkor 50mm 1.8

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Fort Worth Train Show

Please enjoy this video of our trip to the Fort Worth Model Train Show. It was a Saturday morning, I grabbed the paper and started reading through a few articles when I stumbled across this event happening that weekend. I said, “I know what we’re doing today!” and we hopped in the car and went. Those are the best kinds of trips. Not planned, not expected, but greatly enjoyed.

You’ll notice in this video that when Caleb is playing with the “Thomas and Friends” train set, he is making motor sounds with his lips. He must have done that for at least 30 minutes straight while he ran around the table and played with the other kids. This is one of those qualities that Shari designates as “all boy”.

Grandparents take note, the “Thomas and Friends” train track was the most fun he has had in a long time and I plan on building him a table for the Oval track we bought him that day. Expansion sets are welcome.

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Car Troubles

This past week has been a nightmare for our family car.  We call it “The Benz.”  It’s actually just a 2001 Ford Focus.  It’s black, beautiful, and majestic.  Sometimes it breaks down.

All of our problems started with a violent shake when cruising down the highway, which turned into a stuttering engine at stoplights, and then the engine would only reluctantly start some of the time.  Only after the car began to show rebellious behavior did I decide to take it to the shop.  I probably should have taken it sooner.

One professional diagnosis later and I was staring at a $1,000.00 quote.  Seriously.  That’s almost 1/4 of what we paid for that hunk of junk.

Forgive me, “The Benz.” I only say that out of frustration.

They also told me I needed a fresh set of tires, which wasn’t included in the quote.  At this point in time, we just don’t have that kind of money.  What does a broke engineer do in a pickle?  He fixes it himself!  So I went to the shop, fired it up (after a few tries) and drove it home.

Haynes Manual

A Haynes manual is an invaluable tool for the average car owner.  The Haynes manual holds information on how to diagnose, maintain, and replace every single part on your car.  Need to change your oil? Look at the first chapter.  Need to replace a head gasket?  It’s there too.  Need to know the torque on a specific bolt?  There are tables for that.  I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement, but I own a Haynes manual for both of our vehicles and I won’t even hesitate to get one for our next vehicle.  Even if you don’t plan to do a complete engine overhaul, it will give you a leg up on automotive jargon and troubleshooting.

In the end, I spent an entire Saturday getting parts and tools and replacing the shocks on “The Benz”.  Now she’s ridin’ high and no more vibration.  In total, I spent about $400.  I didn’t do all of the work they suggested (replace the front struts and do a front end alignment) and I did all of the labor myself.  I also include the new tools in that total.

Maybe next time we’ll talk about the day my truck wouldn’t start and I towed it.  And when we got it to the shop it started right up.  And I still had to pay for the tow.  And I still have to pay to replace the fuel pump.

Or maybe we’ll never talk about it again.

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