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Mon, Apr. 27th, 2015, 12:18 am
A Week of Gentle Plodding... Or is it Plotting?

Another slow week. I took Saturday off to do a day trip to Penguicon, which also meant that I couldn't stay up Friday night until 4am -- seeing as I was getting up at 5:30. (grin) In addition to an Office Hours day on Thursday, Tuesday was a short "work day" as we went out to dinner and then to the Last Days in Vietnam event (DW) (LJ).

As far as the current writing effort, I also had to work my way through editing another tough section -- a couple of To Be Written Later bits, which Now Had To Be Written. And the addition of another section which required me to readjust the ordering/time of two events in order to make things work out right. This is why you have to read through carefully and see what is what.

At Penguicon I was also able to talk about some aspects of my YA novel project -- things are still going in a direction which seems realistic from both a writing/selling point of view and a story which seems to interest people.

We shall see...

New Researches: Þjóðvegur 1 or Hringvegur around the perimeter of Iceland -- 1337 km. Speed limit 90 kph. In Iceland, 9-1-1 is 1-1-2. Keflavíkurflugvöllur or Reykjavík-Keflavík Airport (KEF). It's 10,000 foot long, 200 foot wide runways were Space Shuttle rated. Range Rover Discovery. Maître d'hôtel. In 1769 Christian VII of Denmark invited the Hungarian astronomer Miksa Hell (Maximilian Hell) to Vardø. He observed the transit of Venus, and his calculations gave the most precise calculation of the Earth–Sun distance to that date (approx. 151 million kilometres). Spent much of his reign (1766-1808) being ruled by others. Queen Christian VII was the sister of England's George III. (You remember him...) She was married at 15, divorced, died at 23. French irregular verb conjugations. Miyamoto Musashi 宮本 武蔵 (c. 1584 – 13 June 1645) was a famous Japanese swordsman, believed to have been one of the most skilled swordsmen in history. He founded the Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu, or Nito Ryu style of swordsmanship and wrote Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings) a classic work on strategy, tactics, and philosophy. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Bronies. Perhaps 10 million in U.S. The Knights Templar wore a white surcoat with a red cross and a white mantle also with a red cross. Saint Thorfinn of Hamar (died 1285).

Book 1 Page Edits (Pass 1)

The Lost Kingdom Project YA Trilogy Version 1.10 (04-27-15 Mo, 1273 pages)

Book 1 Part A (103,757 words, starts page 44) / Part B (69,156 words, starts page 379)

Not a huge increase in the numbers, but forward progress nonetheless.


Dr. Phil
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Sat, Apr. 25th, 2015, 11:58 am
How You Know You're At Penguicon

Arrive. Get badge. Hit restroom.

Two guys arrive. One in stall next to me. They're still continuing their conversation.

"Really tough when your whole planet is destroyed."

"Yeah. But when Freiza and Cell are killed..."

And you know what they're talking about. (grin)

These. Are. My. People.

Dr. Phil

*** The reference is to Dragonball Z, in case you needed a translation. Currently being rerun on Cartoon Network Saturday nights at 2400 ET as DBZ Kai...

Thu, Apr. 23rd, 2015, 03:10 pm
Another Adventure to Penguicon!

After a year, another year passes...

Last year about this time, I posted about a possible day trip to Penguicon (DW) (LJ).

Since I did the Proof of Concept last year and just went to East Lansing for MIAAPT the other weekend, then I think another Saturday day trip to Penguicon 2015 is in order. This would be Penguicon 13 by my accounting, which falls on 24-26 April 2015.

Last year I was out the door at 0610 hours and made it to Penguicon by 0919. Left by about 1730 hours. That's a good day and a fine lunch.
What is Penguicon?

Penguicon is a three-day event where we all learn from each other (as well as from our Guests of Honor) about hacking, building sci-fi universes, soldering, painting miniatures, gaming, coding, music, incredible costumes, and more.

Our two pillars are Science Fiction and Open Source, but we cover as many diverse nerdy interests as possible. We have a consuite with free soda, coffee, munchies and other real food, which makes it easier on your budget. You can find all kinds of original artwork and non-commodity crafts in our enormous Maker Market.

Over 1,300 nerds, geeks, and fans attend Penguicon every year to celebrate and share in what we all love. We are an all-volunteer, not-for-profit convention which brings together every kind of geek – software developers, moviemakers, authors and their fans, hackers, foodies – for a weekend of sharing in panels, workshops, and parties.
You can see all my posts and photos about Penguicon here (DW). (LJ)

I have to remember to pack my copy of Flex, because Ferrett Steinmetz said he'd be signing copies at Penguicon. And THIS year, I have a cell phone which does text messages, so I'll text Al Bogdan and see if he's around. And maybe, just maybe, someone will be able to join me for lunch in the hotel restaurant at the Westin in Southfield MI, maybe at 1300 hours? (I haven't spent a lot of time checking the Programming schedule yet.)

See ya!

Dr. Phil
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Thu, Apr. 23rd, 2015, 02:13 pm
No, Really -- The Comments

One thing you learn on the Internet, is that you wade into the Comments section of any kind of a post at your own peril. In other words, DON'T READ THE COMMENTS.

There are exceptions, of course, particularly if you have hip waders on or if a topic is interesting or you really want to gauge how people feel.

And then there's this.

John Scalzi yesterday posted about his day in a wheelchair:
As most of you probably remember, when I was in Australia I tore a calf muscle and spent several days on crutches and have since been using a cane to get about. The good news is that everything’s healing as it should — at this point I’m keeping the cane around as a precautionary measure — so as far as Adventures in Temporary Disability go, this has been likely a best-case scenario.

That said, I did have one relatively brief moment where I got the smallest of glimpses of what I suspect mobility-impared (sic) people go through on a regular basis. It happened when I was traveling back from Australia to the US, and I, in an overabundance of caution, asked for (and got) wheelchair assistance to get around the two airports I was going to be in: Melbourne and Los Angeles.
Here's where the comments come in:

Even if you don't like John Scalzi, they are worth reading. They're not oh-poor-John or raving atta-boys. They are mainly tales from people who are handicapped in so many other ways, both short term, long term and about people they've known. "Handicapped", like so many other things in life, isn't a One-Size-Fits-All business.

Right now, I am dependent on canes and a walker to get around. I can stand and even take a step or so of a few inches if I have to, but between the nerves in my lower left leg (or lack thereof), the AFO brace and the wrapped wound healing on my heel, I need that much assistance to get around. And since I have been staying off my foot as much as possible these last few months, my endurance is way down and I cannot, nor should I, stand for very long.

Last year at Detcon1 we rented a wheelchair, which turned out to be a good call. WisCon last year and ConFusion this year I just used the walker.

It's Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Phil on Friday outside Program Ops just before my reading. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Al Bogdan (All Rights Reserved)

In my case, I was actually lucky. I first got the compressed nerve in my left leg, which meant I couldn't feel it and had limited control, three years before I got the heel wound. I was using one cane to get around for two years and a handicapped parking hangtag for most of one year before I was hospitalized. It was in the hospital that I was pushed around in a wheelchair for the first time ever in my life. My rehab experience and life getting out were both helped by experience with these previous limitations.

I haven't flown since I first got the compressed nerve, which is now, what, five years ago? Listening to other people's stories however, have suggested to me that should I fly in the future -- (1) there is no way that I am going to ship my walker, (2) I will take canes, (3) avail myself of airport wheelchair use and (4) try to arrange for wheelchair or walker use at my destination.

But I won't stay home forever.

I am passing on this year's WorldCon in Spokane -- and was planning to from the start -- because I am trying to keep off the foot this year, don't want to fly and the expense. There is a good chance I'll go to the 2016 WorldCon because it's in Kansas City, which isn't all that far to drive. In theory. And we are hoping against hope that Helsinki wins their bid for the 2017 WorldCon, Wednesday 9 August to Sunday 13 August, 2017, because we've been to Helsinki, Finland, and really want to have an excuse to go back.

So we're saving our money.

But we're also planning how to navigate.

Maybe we'll do an Atlantic crossing by sea on the way over. Alas, Cunard's scheduling ends with January 2017, so we don't know if the Queen Mary 2 is available. (grin) I suppose we have to fly home in any event, since the next week is the Big One -- the longest Total Solar Eclipse in North American For A Long Time.

Anyway, whether you have mobility issues or not, I'd recommend you check out the comments to the Scalzi piece above.

Dr. Phil
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Wed, Apr. 22nd, 2015, 04:22 pm
New Grand Rapids - Chicago Amtrak Schedule

The GRPress says on MLive today that Amtrak is releasing a new schedule for the Grand Rapids-Chicago Pere Marquette passenger train (PDF).

Effective Monday 4 May 2015:
New schedule:
• Depart Grand Rapids at 6 a.m., arrive in Chicago at 9:11 a.m.
• Depart Chicago at 6:30 p.m., arrive in Grand Rapids at 11:39 p.m.

Old schedule:
• Depart Grand Rapids at 7:40 a.m., arrive in Chicago at 10:47 a.m.
• Depart Chicago at 4:55 p.m., arrive in Grand Rapids at 9:58 p.m.
The changes allow for nine hours on a Chicago day trip, instead of six hours currently -- I once did a Chicago day trip to a computer show at McCormick Place. Of more interest is that it will add "eight to 10 crew jobs based in Grand Rapids' new Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station, the company says". I wonder if they might be combined with discussions previously of adding a second round trip? They're running around 103,000 passengers a year currently.

Of course, this makes the Holland stops earlier in the morning and later in the evening, as well. Let's just hope this schedule gets honored better by CSX than the old one.

Effective 5/4/2015 Mon

Dr. Phil
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Wed, Apr. 22nd, 2015, 12:29 pm

Next week is the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the evacuation of Americans and some South Vietnamese, which was the true effective end of the Vietnam War. And next week PBS will be showing a documentary Last Days in Vietnam. Tonight there will be a public screening and a panel discussion at Celebration South cinema, but last night there was a special invitation screening at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in downtown Grand Rapids.

©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The auditorium seats 250 and was not full. But the audience was one of the more mixed ones we've seen at special events. A large number of Vietnam vets were in attendance -- they were asked to stand -- as well as an equal number of Vietnamese evacuees. The setting was particularly appropriate, as not only was Ford president when Saigon fell, but through his Grand Rapids connections many of the first South Vietnamese refugees came here, and the iconic staircase from atop the U.S. embassy in Saigon is located in the museum. The Vietnamese community in Grand Rapids numbers over 10,000.

Last Days in Vietnam is two hours, of which we were shown the first hour. There is amazing footage, including the unscheduled arrival of Huey helicopters at the USS Kirk (DE-1087/FF-1087). What we saw was subtitled -- either in Vietnamese or English, depending on the speaker.

Panel discussion moderated by WGVU's Jennifer Moss, and L to R: Red Cavaney, Hung Vu, Phillip D. Nguyen. Lighting in the auditorium was very dim, there are no enlargements available.
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Red served three tours of duty in Vietnam as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1965-69. Worked river interdiction duty. Currently President of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. Hung was a 2nd lieutenant in the South Vietnamese Air Force, nominally flying the A-37 (A-37B?) -- but at the war's end they had no fuel and no ammunition. His family spent four years in a reeducation camp before coming to the U.S. as part of a Humanitarian Order in 1990. Phillip serves as the President of Vietnamese-American Communities of West Michigan and grew up in Hue, watching army officers take Jeeps filled with their families and drive them into the sea, rather than get taken by the NVA.

As people were leaving, I was struck by the two flags on the left of the stage -- of course the South Vietnamese flag has been supplanted in the now unified Vietnam.
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Vietnam had a significant impact on my life, but indirectly. In the small upstate New York town I grew up in during the 60s, going off to volunteer in Vietnam was something one did. Canadian TV kept showing a different picture than the American news. Still, I was shocked in 1968 when we moved to White Plains, near New York City, and found my classmates were strongly against American involvement in Southeast Asia. My 9th grade Geometry teacher changed last names in the middle of the year -- Mrs. Miller became Mrs. Rothenberg -- and we found out her first husband had come home from Vietnam in an aluminum box. Somehow it never occurred to us that teachers had lives... And I didn't graduate high school until 1976, and my class was the first who were not required to register for the draft -- and the first to be exempted when Selective Service registration was reinstated some years later -- so I never served.

Last Days in Vietnam will be shown on Tuesday 28 April 2015 on PBS' American Experiences.

Highly Recommended

Dr. Phil
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Mon, Apr. 20th, 2015, 09:35 pm
Game Nights! Times Two

Game Night Saturday 21 March 2015

Yeah, I'm behind a couple of blog posts, so I have TWO Game Nights at the Morgans to cover.

The big game was Pandemic, which was being setup here. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

A cooperative game, lots of fun. But I think we did three rounds of it -- and everybody died each time. Oh well, that's life. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Afterward we played a couple of much lighter games -- an old card game based on commodities trading. And a delightfully silly card game called Nanook, where you do bridge-like betting on how good a hunter/fisherman you are. Probably violates cultural approbation and all, but then we also play Cards Against Humanity, so... there's that. I ended up ending most of the rounds by saying "No." Except once. Remarkably, I picked right most of the time. (evil-grin) It was an interesting strategy.

Game Night Saturday 18 April 2015

We've been buying Mexican Coke (DW) (LJ) for Game Nights at the Shell station at I-96 Exit 16. I've not had Coke at home since I was hospitalized. This green bottle was Coca-Cola's new Coke life (the capital part of the L is silent), which was a mix of cane sugar and stevia -- 60 calories per 8 oz., versus 100 calories for 8 ounces with high fructose corn syrup. Flavor? Adequate. The little bottles were stuck in the freezer to chill -- and they tended toward a superchilled slushie. (grin) ---- And the game we're playing? Everyone is at the big table playing Eldritch Horror. Sort of a Lovecraftian version of Pandemic. Yes, your health points are the little red hearts and sanity points are the little blue brains on the right. Brains. BRAINSSSS. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Our host Ed. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Looks like we're having a seriously good move here! (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Our hostess Mary got up and started taking pictures, too. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Mary Morgan (All Rights Reserved)

And there's Mary! (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

It's Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Phil and everyone, with Mary behind the camera. You can see we're playing dueling cameras. -- Foreground is Kyle on the right and Kyle's elevated broken ankle in a cast on the left. I am not that flexible, and I'll take a walker or canes over crutches. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Mary Morgan (All Rights Reserved)

The 1st and 2nd Place finishers. Yeah, this isn't the same game. We put several hours into Eldritch Horrors and we weren't winning the cooperative game. So the gang split into two. This table played Lords of Watersmeet. I had one real chance at the end, betting on being able to finish one big payoff quest and was one move away from getting it done. I probably couldn't win, but I might've been second. Oh well, still I came in 4th out of five. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

A most excellent five and a half hours. Also garlic dip, onion dip, garlic cheese bread and everything flavored bagel chip crisps. No worry about vampires in this crowd!

Dr. Phil
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Mon, Apr. 20th, 2015, 03:53 pm
77 / 200

So Channel 3 said on Friday that West Michigan hit 77°F for the first time in two hundred days. Lovely Spring weather. Mrs. Dr. Phil kept on saying it was summer, but she'd been in a meeting where the sun was broiling the room, so she's biased. Saturday was almost as warm -- lovely day for one last meat up with Momcat and Joe at what he called "The Bug Bunny" -- Grand Coney in Allendale. Then off to a game night.

Sunday still got up to 69-72°F, but by late afternoon it was all steady rain and cooling off. It's 4pm Monday and been gray and raining on and off all day. It's gotten all the way up to 46°F so far.

Definitely Spring, it's greening up. Our little bed of a couple of daffodils shows nice healthy green stands of leaves, but no hint of flowers yet. There are some daffodils about a mile from us and the peepers are still raising a ruckus at night so... Spring. The forsythia bush has one branch with bright yello flowers, hopefully the rest of it will be coming. We think that one branch gets more sun from a gap in the trees. (grin) It's gonna be a cooler week, though.

Speaking of Spring, I guess it's Finals Week at Western -- since I'm not teaching, I'm just not in touch with the calendar. But I did have an office run on Wednesday -- gorgeous day and topped out at 69-72°F.

But as I was leaving, I spotted an unusual sight -- a class being held outdoors of Everett Tower and Rood Hall. Huh. A mobile white board and a music stand as a lectern. And it was a Math class. Man, usually the outdoor classes are social sciences or literature. But no, they're dealing with polar coordinates. And mostly the students are taking notes or crap. Not even texting...

Naturally it's a young guy. Usually you can't bribe or badger the fogies to do an outdoor class. Physics is Phun enough, we don't need to go outdoors. Not unless we're pushing Suburbans around or launching water rockets. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Inset from a second frame. In the time I stooped the walker, got out the Nikon D100 and took a coupke of shots, he made a couple of jokes. Sine of zero is zero. Anything times zero is...? Come on, the zero multiplication tables are going to be on the Final...
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Took another shot from the Blazer, showing the class spread out. There's one guy leaning back on both hands. Yeah, he's taking notes. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Dr. Phil
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Mon, Apr. 20th, 2015, 12:26 am
Detours and Dead Ends Along The Way

The last week had been very productive, but not particularly for either word or page counts. Finished taxes, had one night out for the Mythbusters and another for the monthly Game Night -- all important things to do. Dinners in and out.

Also, I spent a little time this week on a detour over in Book 2 which was pretty important. Even while editing, I can't quite stop the spigot of ideas, so sometimes one needs to put something down or realize you now understand how something is going to work. As I've said before, writing is not a linear process with me.

Other detours come up during the editing. Continuity checks, foreshadowing details -- what and when do the characters know things, or even when they appear.

Dead ends, on the other hand, represents things you come up with which either are inappropriate for the current work or unnecessary (or even impossible). The creative mind comes up with things which you might have to file away as stuff the author needs to know about. As wonderful a tapestry we weave, just don't need to put it all on the page for the reader.

Book 1 Part B Pass 1 continues to be a sticky wicket -- but I am almost through the difficult section from page 411 to 440 or 450 probably now. It continues to fascinate me how many things I think I have written, only to find markers or the odd line of dialogue followed by a buncha blank lines. Fill Me In Later. Oh. Well, duh, later is now, I guess.

Hard, too, to continue to write for and flesh out a character who you already know is not going to survive the next thirty pages... What, you're dying to know the story I'm writing? Well, here's this week's "hints" based on:

New Researches: Top 10 Fastest Sedans In The World. (The winner? An American... The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat with a 707 hp V8 and tops out at 204 mph, even with four doors.) Large stretches of the German Autobahn network do not feature any speed limit except a recommended 130 km/h (81 mph). 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG - V12 biturbo engine 621 hp - electronically limited top speed of 300 kph (186 mph). 1998 BMW 850Ci – M73 V12 engine 322 hp - electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h). Gillardeau oysters, since 1898 from Bourcefranc-le-Chapus near La Rochelle and the Île d'Oléron in western France.

Yeah, this week heavily used existing notes and expanding the existing story.

Book 1 Page Edits (Pass 1)

The Lost Kingdom Project YA Trilogy Version 1.10 (04-20-15 Mo, 1253 pages)

Book 1 Part A (103,757 words, starts page 44) / Part B (63,588 words, starts page 379)

Since I've already blown the 80,000 word limit for Book 1 Part A and Part B is heading towards 70,000 words, I upped the total for Book 1 from 160,000 to 180,000 words. Annoying, but necessary for now.

So, a short entry from me this week, but I really want to get back to writing. Someone needs a glass of water and some aspirin for their hangover... (What? You think it's me? Whoa -- I don't drink.)

Dr. Phil
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Fri, Apr. 17th, 2015, 12:30 am
Meet The Mythbusters

Thursday night we were treated to Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, aka The Mythbusters, as the Mythbusters Jamie & Adam Unleashed tour played at DeVos Performance Hall in downtown Grand Rapids MI. But what's this subhead about this being the Jamie Farewell Tour? ***

We've found lovely seats at DeVos -- Loge level Left, seats C21-20. These are two single row seats right above the stage. We've used them before and I knew there was an open space in front of the first seat. Perfect for stowing the walker, though Mrs. Dr. Phil had to run it down a small flight of stairs -- this was the first time we've been to DeVos since my 2013 hospitalization.

I chose not to bring one of the big Nikon DSLRs, which is a shame. Previously, I used my second Sony digital camera, but it's packed away somewhere, so I used Wendy's Canon PowerShot A550. I don't like the camera, but was able to get some adequate shots. Despite what it says on the tour website, they allowed photos -- they just didn't want flash. Alas, every time the Canon timed out and shut off, I had to disable the flash. Again. I think it might have gone off twice. There were many other flashes, though. Stupid Canon.

Entrance -- Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. Beret included. My God, they're just like on TV! (grin). (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

A little banter. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Aw... Adam at 12. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Four young men from the audience of similar height form a weave -- and then their chairs removed. Yes, all the volunteers had waiver forms. They had waiver forms all over the main floor. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Two kids to be be videoed with the high speed Phantom camera at around 1000 fps... making fart noises. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Jamie doing a Q&A with the audience. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Paintballs hurt -- unless you wear a suit of armor... (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

... even against Jamie's 800 round/minute four barreled paint-machine-gun. Note the barrier in front of the audience. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

A well deserved bow. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

What a fun evening!

Of course, last year there was Discovery Channel's inept decision to let the Mythbusters B-Team go (DW) (LJ). But... we were given six new episodes back in January 2015 by Jamie and Adam -- and they said there are eight more in the can to be aired this summer.

And remember, don't try this at home.

Dr. Phil

*** It's just the tour -- apparently Jamie doesn't sleep well on the tour bus. On Twitter:
Adam Savage ‏@donttrythis Mar 4
It's true! @jamienotweet is retiring from the tour at the end of 2015. Our spring dates here:
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