Teaching Soldering at the Public Library Association Conference, Denver April 8, 2016

Using Sparkfun Weevil Eye kits (my go-to kit) I taught 10 people the basics of soldering during PLA. While most had no experience with soldering, a few had soldered in the past and were able to pick it up again. Everybody did a great job (all the kits worked!) and I was able to meet some cool folks from other libraries around the country.

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MV5BODg5NDM1MDI4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzg0MzQxNzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Creed is the 7th offering in the Rocky film series. Sylvester Stallone reprises his role of prize-fighter Rocky Balboa.

The story concerns Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (played by Michael B. Jordan), the son of Balboa’s former nemesis/friend Apollo Creed (who died in the ring in Rocky IV.) Taking after his father, Johnson is a talented but self-trained fighter. After losing an impromptu bout in an LA gym, Johnson leaves to search out Rock Balboa, his father’s at-first nemesis and then training partner.

Balboa is reluctant to take on a protege, but relents after seeing that Johnson will let nothing stop him from achieving his goals; Balboa sees a lot of Apollo Creed in his son.

Through hard work and pure luck, Johnson gets a shot at the light heavyweight title held by Irish pugilist “Pretty” Ricky Conlan.

If all this sounds sort of familiar, Creed is a retelling of the first Rocky movie. Fans of the series won’t care due to the wonderful, heartfelt performances from Stallone and Jordan. The boxing matches are thrilling without being unnecessarily brutal.

Fans of the Rocky series will love this movie.

Skip it if boxing movie violence is a turn off.

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Another Day of Soldering at the Library

Another fun-filled morning of soldering at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library.

Today, 8 participants successfully completed the Sparkfun Weevil Eye kit. It is a great starter kit for beginners on which to learn the basics of soldering. As always each participant used the trusty Hakko FX888D temperature controlled soldering station.

First I gave a short lecture on the basics of soldering, which covered equipment, safety and soldering technique which was followed by the participants completing their Sparkfun kits.

This class was a follow up to a previous class. The first one was so popular that it filled up quickly. Soon after the wait list filled up. So another class was in order.


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Movies Worth a Look: She’s Funny That Way

MV5BODEyMjYzMjY5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjYyODQyNjE@._V1_UY268_CR0,0,182,268_AL_She’s Funny That Way is the first theatrical release from director Peter Bogdonovich in nearly 13 years; his previous film, The Cat’s Meow, was released in 2001. While She’s Funny That Way is not a perfect film, it does have its moments and is very funny in spots. It is a welcome return for Peter Bogdonovich.

The story line  of She’s Funny That Way concerns a love triangle between Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson), a Broadway director, Isabella Paterson (British actress Imogen Poots), a call girl-turned-actress and Delta Simmons (Kathryn Hahn), a Broadway star and Albertson’s wife.

Arnold has the habit of using the services of call girls and then giving them large sum of money to pursue their dreams. This habit is used to comic effect in the movie as several women approach Arnold to thank him for his generous, life-changing gift.

Of course, Isabella turns up on the set to audition for a part in a show directed by Albertson. And much to his chagrin, she is perfect for the part. Hilarity ensues as Arnold tries to keep his trysts with call girls a secret from his wife.

The movie is an homage to the screwball comedies of the 1940s and 1950s. At times it evokes vintage Woody Allen (in a good way.) The writing is sharp and doesn’t depend on unnecessary profanity or gross-out gags to generate humor; the comedy arises from the situations themselves.  Jennifer Aniston is particularly funny as an extremely unsupportive therapist.

One small criticism is Imogen Poots’ atrocious New York accent. She sounds almost as if she’s Eastern European trying to do a caricature of a New York accent. It becomes grating at times.

Look for many well-known actors in small, supporting roles.

Worth a look if you like screwball comedies.

Skip it if wacky comedies aren’t your thing.


Soldering Day at the Library

Today I taught a soldering class at the library. Using Hakko soldering stations to put together a Sparkfun Weevil Eye kit, the class learned the basics of electronics soldering by building a printed circuit board (PCB) kit. They were a good group of people and quick learners. Everybody’s kit worked the first time! A fun time was had by all.















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Breaker Morant

81RW8yyHS5L._SY606_Breaker Morant is the story of three Australian soldiers serving in the British army during the Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the 20th Century.

Acting under orders from British army command, Lieutenant Harry “Breaker” Morant (played by British actor Edward Woodward), Lieutenant Peter Handcock (played by veteran Aussie actor Bryan Brown) and Lieutenant George Ramsdale Witton (played by Lewis Fitz-Gerald) track down and execute  Boer guerrillas. The Boer War was one of the he first wars where uniformed soldiers (British) fought against civilian-clad guerrillas;  the rules of warfare were changing rapidly.

As the war wound down and the British command was looking for scapegoats to appease the opposition.  Morant, Handcock and Witton were court-martialed for war crimes by the very same British army command, who were responsible for issuing the orders in the first place. In order to obtain a quick and easy conviction, the British command stacked the deck against Morant and his comrades: the court appointed a lawyer for the three only a day before the trial who specialized in “land conveyancing and wills” not criminal defense. The court dismissed much of the testimony given for the defense as irrelevant and therefore inadmissible.

The defense hinged on that they were “only following orders.” Four and a half decades later, many of the defeated Nazis would use the same defense.

Breaker Morant is an compelling look into the changing nature of warfare in the 20th Century. The guerrilla conflict of the Boer War was a harbinger of what warfare was to become.

As a bonus, MDE’s copy is a new release from the Criterion Collection

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Breaker Morant

Worth a look if you like legal thrillers or movies about the military.

Skip it if courtroom dramas leave you cold.

  • Steve



Cerebral Movies: Predestination

predestinationPredestination is a modern-day adaption of Robert Heinlein’s short story “All You Zombies.”  The story revolves around a character played by Ethan Hawke named The Barkeep. It seems he is a Temporal Agent whose job it is to travel through time to prevent atrocities before they happen. He never seems to be able to catch one elusive criminal who always seems to be able to set off a bomb which ends up killing thousands.

One night in the past, The Barkeep strikes up a conversation with a character who looks like a man, but is named The Unmarried Mother (played by Sarah Snook.) She tells him the fantastic, almost unbelievable story of her life.

As the fantastic story unfolds, The Barkeep finds his fate inexorably intertwined with that of the Unmarried Mother. The truth emerges and builds to a horrifying conclusion.

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Worth a look if you like heady, time-travel stories.

Skip it if you don’t like science fiction.

– Steve