Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trebuchet


A year or so ago, a friend of ours took us out into his backyard to set off bottle rockets. He had built a launcher and then used 2 liter bottles as projectiles. We pumped up the pressure, pointed the rocket upward, and pulled the firing cord. The moment the first one launched I was in love. I believe I squealed and pleaded to do it again. I might have clapped in happiness too. Since then I've become fascinated with launching things. And my new favorite idea about launching things is a trebuchet. I want to build one.


A trebuchet is a form of catapult, a siege weapon designed to launch heavy objects at a significant distance with much force. What's not to love? The trebuchet uses a counterweight to send objects flying. So not only do you have the thrill of watching things fly but you add heavy weights to make the contraption even more dangerous. I have to imagine that full sized trebuchets injured more people in their operation than just with the projectiles they threw. But it doesn't matter, I'm going to build one. Although ours will probably only launch water balloons.


But in the meantime, Jeff and I decided to start small. We bought a ready-to-assemble trebuchet at Gen Con this weekend. We assembled it tonight and I have done little else but launch the balls that come with it, along with some dice, across the room towards our table. Currently it has a range of only a couple feet (think 6 to 8) but I think with some adjustment to the firing pin, I should be able to get much farther. The box says it could fire up to 25 feet away. It just takes some practice. Now to play with it and hopefully get some slow motion video of it working. I'm still going to build a big one, but in the meantime the little one makes me squeal with happiness. I'm such a geek.

video

Friday, August 9, 2013

How to Sabotage Yourself...in one easy step

I'm beginning to think that my brain hates me. Or perhaps that I'm just my own worst enemy. Thinking, and particularly overthinking, has been the bane of my existence. I've done more to sabotage me than anyone could ever do. The moment I decide on something, there is a tiny voice in the back of my mind that starts to ask questions like, "do you really think that's a good idea", or "do you even know how to do that", or even "why do you think anyone would be interested in that". 

This has affected my social interactions, my writing, my work life, and recently my blogging. I spend so much time thinking about doing something, and whether it's a good idea, that I do nothing. I sit paralyzed, listening to the voices in my head tear down my ideas. A decent story idea suddenly seems hackneyed. Then completely cliche. And then the voice likes to tell me that I'll never have any original ideas. That I'm not a good writer, friend, person. It's a horrible type of paralysis.  

After years of this I understand why so many writers and painters were alcoholics. They are drowning out those little voices. They are keeping them busy. I haven't gone that route yet, don't worry. I've found music instead. If I can listen to music (as I'm doing now) I can keep that little voice busy listening to lyrics while I type away. Of course this doesn't work well for social interactions but I'm working on that. 

I've read hundreds of self-help articles on how to get rid of these voices, or at least how to quiet them. They've suggested meditation, self-hypnosis, segmentation, even the music treatment I use. I've used free writing, self encouragement, and even mantras. One day I will learn a perfect solution to tune them out. Until then I have to do as Nike suggests and "just do it". Just do what you want to do and let time determine if something is good or not. More often then not, a bit of time and distance, makes things look clearer. 

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they're deciding, make even more art." --Andy Warhol