Saturday, September 09, 2006

IMDB Plot Summary for
The Blood Diamond
Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) - a South African mercenary - and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) - a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon - who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields - has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.

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The movie begins with a white type face on black background. The screen showed three separate statements about the illegal diamond trade in Sierra Leone. The first scene is of the RUF rebel force wiping out Solomon’s village. It’s a very violent scene. His family escapes but he is taken captive by the RUF. Many of the captives get their hands cut off by machete. The strong are taken to diamond mines to work as slave labor under the RUF. The movie has many long violent scenes and shows the terror that is inflicted upon the people of Sierra Leone. It is graphic in its depiction of what happens to the native children as well. They are shown trained to become soldiers for the rebel forces and also shown with cut off hands and feet. The movie constantly links the desire for diamonds and the violence that is wreaked on these people. Jennifer Connelly’s character makes a direct statement that if women knew what took place to obtain the diamond for their engagement rings, they would not want them. DeBeers is given a veiled treatment but fingered ultimately as the driving force behind the harm that is done. The movie states that DeBeers (given a different name in the movie) creates false demand by buying up product to create a false shortage and drive prices higher. The movie also shows DeBeers as knowingly purchasing conflict diamonds, mixing them with safe diamonds, and sometimes holding them for a period until they cannot be tracked. The movie shows the smuggler’s ability to misrepresent his diamonds as coming from other countries and being able to give them a false clean history. It’s a very violent and emotionally charged movie. The entire plot and crux of the movie turns on the trade of conflict diamonds. At the very end of the movie the screen goes black again and a few statements again appear on the screen. They briefly describe the Kimberly process in one sentence but then add that it relies upon the industry’s self policing and the consumers’ awareness of the problem of conflict diamonds.
This movie is based on a documentary by the same name available on DVD at riceandpeas.com
I'm sure this movie is a strong Oscar contender. It's emotional, action packed, strong acting, and has a good plot and screenplay.
When it comes to a theater near you I suggest you go see it.
If you purchased a diamond from 1990 until 2000, you will question the life of the stone before it became yours.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

less oil


Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Renaissance Faire


We all had a great time at the fair, but wholly cow was it ever hot! Click on the links to see the video or just the one below and also go to my pictures to see the rest.

I couldn't believe how so many people would stay in their really heavy costumes even in the heat and remain so jovial. The big guys in their royal clothes, as a pirate, a pillaging Hun, a swashbuckler. The ladies in waiting, princesses, fairies, warriors. What a show!

Only two questions: 1) how did the women keep from falling out of their bustiers? 2) Do guys in kilts worry if its windy?


Saturday, July 15, 2006


Cool Tool


Here is an article stripped straight from another blog named very convieneintly Cool Tools. So read on and enjoy!


Vehicles
Topside Oil Changer
Easier way to change oil


I have had my oil changed by the dealer, a local mechanic and even those jiffy people. They've all done a good job, but I like changing my own oil. It's a bit of a meditative exercise and gives me a chance to see what's going on with my car. While I enjoy doing the oil change, my least favorite part of changing my oil is getting underneath the car, removing the drain plug and draining the oil. Dealing with the jack, stripping the drain plug every now and again, and spilling the used oil were nearly enough to stop me from changing my oil.

A friend of mine recently had his car serviced at a local dealership and he told me about a new machine that they used to drain the oil without jacking the car or removing the drain plug. The oil change technician inserted a probe into the dipstick tube and used a vacuum to drain the oil. This sounded very interesting and encouraged me to research more about this system and see if it was small enough to be used at home.

My research revealed that there were a number of these systems available for the do-it-yourselfer. After I compared features of the different brands, I settled on the Topsider. Originally designed for the boating market, the Topsider is all-metal. This feature was the one that seemed most important to me. The majority of other vacuum oil changers were made of plastic and I was concerned that the plastic would become brittle over time.

Changing the oil is really simple:

1. Make sure the engine is warm to make the oil flow easily
2. Place tube in dipstick tube
3. Close pinch valve on hose
4. Pump the canister 50 times to build vacuum
5. Release the pinch valve

It takes about 8 minutes for the oil to leave your engine. I usually use this time to remove the oil filter, open oil bottles, etc. Most dipsticks reach all the way to the bottom of the oil pan. I push the hose til I feel the bottom of the pan. When I first got it, I would open my drain plug after vacuuming and very little came out (a few drops) so I suspect the vacuum gets most of the oil out. It will pull sludge out as well up through the tube. The can holds 2 gallons of oil. Once the oil is out of your car you can remove the vacuum pump and suction tube and seal the container for transport to your recycling center.

I think the clincher for me was discovering that this was the technique that Mercedes was using in its dealerships (albeit using a commercial machine).

-- Kurt Wendelken
Topside Oil Changer
$45
Available from Amazon
Posted on July 12, 2006 at 05:00 AM | +del.icio.us +digg +reddit

Hand Made Watch

Here's a link to detailed instructions on how to craft a mechanical watch. I thought it was very intersting if you like wristwatches.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Do you have a hero?

Have you ever played the game where you ask someone if there is a person that they would like to meet? I guess its a little like the game where you are stuck on an island and you have to choose a person to live on it with. I think I have two people who I would like to meet. I don't think I'd like to be stuck on an island with either, but it would be very nice to pick their brains. I would like to meet Isaac Newton and Nikola Tesla. I've often thought that the world as we experience it is in large part due to the two of them.

It's difficult for me to find much that I do each day that hasn't been a touched by their scientific work. Oh, I'm not a scientist or anything close to that. It's just that their work facilitated the development of ANY technology that you are using day to day.

I was watching a show about Newton the other day and it talked about how he proved the elliptical orbit of the planets in our galaxy. He had done the math using calculus, but he had not yet presented it to the world (inventor of calculus). So, he had to use the conventional mathematics of the day, Euclidean geometry. This caused me to think about something else. If he was able to prove our orbit with geometry, its likely that someone else would have figured it out as well. A fellow scientist had already come up with the theory but did not have the mathematical skills to prove the theory. This is why Newton did the calculation. Maybe it would have taken several more years, but it would have been figured out. Again, Tesla patented the invention of the radio just prior to Marconi coming up with the same idea. It would have occured anyway.

Where I'm going here is that maybe the world we live in is likely to be as it is regardless of specific individuals. Like rows of sharks teeth, as one as lost there are three more there to take its place. Or here's another way to think about it. Have you ever driven home from work and when you arrived you couldn't remember a bit of the drive. You couldn't tell me what happened on the way or where you turned. You have no memory of it. While I realize you did experience it and you did make all the turns, its more of a metaphor of a process. You arrive at your destination unwittingly. Now if you arrived without really taking part in the process, what would happen if you didn't know the final destination? This is something I think about in life sometimes. Is the journey an unwitting process? Is there a known destination? Would it be recognized if/when the destination was arrived at? Another words, do you know if you are where you are supposed to be at any given time and how do you prove it?

I'm certain calculus won't be of any use here.

Here's a 5minute live vid from Radiohead (2003). Don't bother to view on dial-up. It will take forever to load. I'm not sure what the magnetism is with them but I've liked them since the early '90s album Pablo Honey. I still think the lead singer looks VERY strange. Some say he looks a little like Clay Aiken, the American Idol guy from a few seasons ago.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Only better is better.
Joy takes effort.
Love is created, not found.
Forgiveness is a choice.
Be a friend.
Be frivolous with kindness.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Nervous Energy

When I was a kid, maybe around 7 to 10 years old, I would wake sometimes early in the morning with nervous energy. I wasn't anxious or worried. I would wake at or before sunrise and just feel driven to get outside and do something. Sometimes I would act on that feeling and get dressed and quietly leave the house so I wouldn't wake anyone. I would usually go for a walk on these mornings. I like the way the sky looks just prior to the sun rising. Just after the sky lightens but before the sun is up the sky has beautiful colors. Its always very quiet right then. Its after the night but before the new day. Its very quiet except for the birds. Usually no one else is up.
Today was a day like that. I woke around 4am and had that feeling. I tried to go back to sleep but finally gave up about 20 after and decided to get on with my day. I pulled on some shorts, a t-shirt, baseball cap and slid on my running shoes. No exercise for me today, this is my first day off on a long deserved vacation for two weeks.
I felt like I had to leave right away so out the back door I went. What do you do at this time of the day? Breakfast, car detailing, grocery shopping, yard maintenance, tinker in garage? Yes, that's right, and all before 8am. I hope the gas powered weed trimmer didn't bother my neighbors too much. I live in the country so there's a good chance it wasn't heard.
I can't figure out what drives me out of bed and the house like that sometimes. I wonder if I should be looking for something. Possibly there is something I am supposed to recognize as I experience it. I'm not really sure, but I do enjoy those early morning skies.