Plano Balloon Fest 2017

Last Sunday I got up early and drove up to the annual Plano Balloon festival. Being Sunday I was expecting there to be limited events. The morning schedule featured the balloon launch and a inbound contest. At dawn there was only one balloon on the field. This one was tethered to allow $25 vertical rides. At 7:30, more balloons arrived and started to inflate. By then the sun was already rising and the photo opportunities passing. Once those balloon left, they drew a big target on the ground. Balloons launched further to the south then attempted to hit as close to the box target without getting in it. Some of those balloons missed the field entirely. All in all, I need to remember to go on Saturday instead of Sunday if I want to get the full effect of a field of balloons. I have been to this festival 3 times now but never to the Saturday night activities. I’ll need to plan on going to the evening balloon glow next time.


This really goes under the heading, “did not really think this one through”. It all started simple enough. A co-worker is having a milestone birthday. Someone suggested filling cube with a bunch of balloons. It sounded like fun. I recruited a co-conspirator and made a plan. First question is how many balloon? If you assume that a typical 12″ balloon occupies a volume of one cubic foot and a typical cube is 8x8x5, then I would need 320 balloons to fill the space. Next step is to find some balloons. Target has bulk balloons but they only had assorted colors. Next stop was Party City with helium quality (read expensive) bulk balloons in a variety of colors. Given the milestone, black was chosen as appropriate. I decided that two bags of 72 would be sufficiently obnoxious. My plan was to inflate the balloons the night before but I was concerned that they would be all deflated by morning. I did one balloon test that was still full four days later. These are good balloons. The prospect of transporting that many filled balloons meant that I would be filling them in situ. Fortunately I have a little portable air compressor with an attachment for air mattresses. My timing showed it takes about a minute to fill one balloon. Additional time is needed to tie the balloon off. My co-conspirator took care of containment and tying balloons but abandoned me after the first hour. I had it down to about 75 seconds per balloon so that math worked out to 3 hours with the little compressor pumping away. At one point, the cleaning staff came by and just shook her head. It all paid off. When the victim came into work this morning he was properly surprised.

iTunes Movies Now in 4K

under $8

Back in the day I used to have a shelf full of VHS tapes. This shelf contained two copies of the original Star Wars Trilogy because… Star Wars. When widescreen VHS became a thing, I switched to it. When DVD came around, I had to buy Star Wars again. I ended up with a small room lined with VHS tapes on one side and DVDs on the other. Digital video came about at about the same time as Blu-ray. I skipped Blu-ray. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally bought a Blu-ray disc even though I had a Blu-ray player. At the time it was a pretty easy decision because I did not have a TV that could tell the difference.
Continue reading “iTunes Movies Now in 4K”


On the 99¢ rack in iTunes this week we have the March 2017 movie called Life. When I saw the trailers this spring I just knew it would be bad. Rotten Tomatoes™ amazingly gave it a 67% fresh rating. That gave me a little hope that they might be some redeeming quality to this Alien rip off. When I saw it in the rental bargain bin, I decided to give it a try. Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds lead a cast of 6 astronauts on board the International Space Station. The plot revolves around the first return sample from the surface of Mars. With a little bit of gloucose and a jolt of electricity, they wake the facehugger up. They then name it Calvin. Calvin then spends the rest of the movie killing off the cast, I mean crew.
Continue reading “Life”