Category Archives: Features

International Derby

On Friday night Connecticut’s daughters of the derby revolution came together at the CT Sports Center to face up against their first international opponent: Montreal’s New Skids on the Block. Unlike their most recent bouts, which have focused on CT’s secondary team the Yankee Brutals, this match-up would require the furious skating skills of CT’s elite: The Stepford Sabotage. With their matching pink and green uniforms, the Connecticut girls presented themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Roller Derby Introduction Lap

The Stepford Sabotage!

Let’s take at look at the line up for the home team

      Luciana Pulverotti 110R (Captain)
      Eleanor Bruisevelt 33 (Assistant Captain)
      Black Cherry C-4
      Chelsea Grin 777
      C. Mya Rage 86’d
      Doomcake 13
      Ether Bunny 2KO
      Girl Fawkes 5NOV
      Milla Lowlife 40oz.
      Miz ConsepJen 7
      Murphy’s OUTLAW 15
      Parker Poison 3
      Pearl Jammer GO
      Pepper Grind-Her 10
      Revengela 1-2-3-4
      Violet Riot 911

Montreal’s The New Skids on the Block, dressed in black, had driven for 8 hours for a weekend of derby. Their match with CT was the first of three, the second on Saturday against Washington DC, the last against New York’s Suburbia.

      Cheese Grater 289
      No Holds Bard 2X4
      Lyn-dah Kicks 75
      Beater Pan-Tease 1976
      Trash N’ Smash 118
      Romeo 222
      Wrath Poutine 30
      Georgia W. Tush 40
      Lady J 88
      Rae Volver 39
      Smack Daddy 3X
      Bone Machine 1111
      Izzy Skellington 182
      Jess Bandit 8
      Iron Wench 516
      Lil Mama 12
      Ewan Wotarmy 7734
      Beals on Wheels 89
      Karla Shnikov AK47
      Nameless Whorror 202

The Crowds at Derby

Standing Room Only

After introductions, the girls skated up to their starting positions. The first jam saw Chelsea Grin facing Iron Wench at the jammer line. The girls stood posed for speed, but at the first whistle the pace proceeded at an unusually slow clip. It appeared that Montreal was purposefully limiting the speed of the pack to give their fastest jammer the greatest opportunity to pull points.

The unexpected strategy seemed to catch the girls in green off guard. Iron Wench quickly sped through the pack getting lead jammer status and circled through the pack twice scoring nine points for her team before Chelsea could recover from an early hit by Canadian Nameless Whorror.

Eleanor Bruisevelt faced Ewan Wotarmy next and pulled in eight points for the Sabotage after Ewan found herself sent to the penalty box for cutting the track.

Lead Jammer Eleanor

Eleanor is declared lead jammer

Stepford’s momentum was a bit erratic at the start. In part, their drive seemed to falter each time Iron Wench had the star on her helmet. Iron Wench followed her nine point first jam with fifteen points in her second and thirteen more in her fourth. Black Cherry and Pearl each stole lead jamming status from Iron Wench once during the first half (Pearl off a beautiful whip by Miz ConsepJen,) but Iron Wench still pulled in 49 points in the first half. Forty Nine Points!

Iron Wench in action

Jammer Iron Wench dodging Pepper's powerful block

At half time the score was 78 to 40 with the New Skids on the Block in the lead. The girls from Montreal were proficiently keeping our jammers away from the lead jammer position. In the first half, the New Skids were awarded lead jamming status for 11 jams compared to just 8 for the Stepford.

The crowd had not given up on the hometown girls as they returned for the second half to fight back against the visitors. Eleanor brought some life to Connecticut after she returned from a penalty with a vengeance to outskate Ewan Wotarmy 14 to 10 in the fourth jam.

Eleanor Celebrates!

Eleanor Bruisevelt celebrates her successful jam!

Next up, Milla LowLife maintained Stepford’s momentum against Georgia W. Tush. She sprinted off the starting line holding hard along the inside of the track. Her speed let her sneak through the pack to quickly secure lead jamming status. She followed with two more laps, scoring eight unopposed points for Stepford.

The New Skids on the Block, however, were not to be outperformed. Iron Wench and Ewan Wotarmy followed with seven and six point jams respectively. The Connecticut blockers did their best to limit the damage, but the points continued to accumulate for Montreal.

The packs were playing especially hard in this bout. Collectively between the two teams, this bout saw 69 trips to the penalty box. All of the girls were taking a serious beating on the track. Their ability to keep skating hard after such jarring blows stands as testimony to their hard training.

Black Cherry

Black Cherry on a crash course with Smack Daddy

As the final jam came to a close, the score showed the visitors ahead 151 to 93. This was a brutal bout that showcased the passion these women have for their sport.


      Lead Scorers:
       The New Skids on the Block
            Iron Wench 77pts (9 leads in 13 jams)
            Ewan Wotarmy 32pts (5 leads in 7 jams)
            Georgia W. Tush 19pts (5 leads in 9 jams)

       The Stepford Sabotage
             Milla LowLife 39pts (5 leads in 9 jams)
             Eleanor Bruisevelt 34pts (2 lead in 9 jams)
             Black Cherry 13pts (3 lead in 5 jams)

      Penalty Queens:
       The New Skids on the Block
             Ewan Wotarmy: 6 Trips
       The Stepford Sabotage
             Chelsea Grin: 6 Trips

            Iron Wench
            Luciana Pulverotti


Luciana and Iron Wench pose with their MVP metals

Special thanks to all those who help make these bouts a truly entertaining experience. Special kudos to the organizers, the refs, and the CT Roller Derby sponsors. If you’d like to learn more about roller derby I encourage you to visit the CTRG website located here.

Beef Bourguignon

Oh Sunday, I decided to spend some time in the kitchen. I recently received the latest edition of my Everyday Foods subscription and inside it had a recipe for a very hearty looking Beef Bourguignon. After my black belt pre-test on Saturday, I thought I might need some extra protein, so this seemed like an appropriate choice.

This recipe called for a dutch oven (or cocotte), so I went ahead and picked one up at Target. Mine is a 6 QT Lodge cast iron enamel coated beauty.

Dutch Oven
I love red.

The dish itself was heavy. It had mushrooms, carrots, 3 lbs beef, bacon, garlic, onions, tomato paste, flour, wine, and chicken broth. It cooked for nearly 3 hours and came out epic. (Similar recipe here)

Served with a side of mashed potatoes, it was the perfect meal for a Sunday feast.

Beef Bourgiugnon

I strongly recommend the recipe, the magazine, and the pot.

Brutals vs. Bullies

After months of waiting the day finally came on Saturday for the 2010 CT Roller Derby season opener. To cheer on the Roller Girls may have been their largest crowd yet. With 15 minutes to game time the long line for entry curved its way around the Connecticut Sports Center. Inside, derby enthusiasts squeezed together to try and find enough room to watch the action. Action they wanted, action they got. On Saturday the fourteen Connecticut skaters that make up the Yankee Brutals faced tough opposition: the Backyard Bullies from Westchester County.

Let’s take a closer look at the teams. First the Hometown Heroes.

Yankee Brutals

Babe Vigoda #56
Paula G. ImNaughty #NC-17
Anita Chainsaw #992
Cali Ripskin #DV8
Crash Corpse #6ft
Dee Nasty #921
Guns N’ Bruises #2012
Girl Fawkes #5Nov
I. Harley Knew’em #81
Jean Mutation #X2
Murphy’s Outlaw #15
Pam Terror #9
Pepper Grind-her #10
Rinko Starr #64

This was Pepper Grind-her’s first bout since her return to derby and it was great to see Fawkes on skates again after her injury in Pittsburgh last year. Welcome back Pepper and Fawkes!

The visiting team, the Backyard Bullies, was founded in 2007 by former CTRG Slim Fast and Suffah Kate. The team’s close proximity means a lot of crowd support and perhaps the making for a great rivalry.

The Backyard Bullies

Anya Nerves #3.14
Auntie Climax #39
Crash Sprawldisplat #810
Hot Ta’ Wally #451
J.Knee Bones #77
Kickin McNuggins #6
Lil eve L #DV8
Milkstud Piglet #2%
Rita Wayward #86
Robin Graves #R1P
Sasha B. Otch #417
Satan’s Cheerleader #667
Slash Borden #40
Smashing Pumpkin #1979

This bout had strong potential. Both teams are somewhat young and fairly evenly matched. At 7pm Hitman Hank welcomed the crowd and the action got underway.

Things started quickly for the Backyard Bullies, who captured the first two lead jamming statuses. Connecticut seemed a bit disorganized at the onset and after Jean Mutation had an unfortunate introduction to the penalty box early on, Slash Borden capitalized and gained a strong 10 point lead in the second jam. Her blockers were holding Anita Chainsaw back with brutal efficiency. Rinko Starr had slightly better luck gaining the first lead jammer status for the girls in blue off of a beautiful block by Girl Fawkes that sent Backyard Bully Rita Wayward to the ground.

The girls were fighting hard for control of the jams. Dee Nasty and Sasha B. Otch raced it out in the fourth jam, Sasha forcing an early conclusion to Dee’s control of the track. Hot Ta’ Wally began her night with four more unanswered points for the Backyard Bullies.

Things were looking grim for the Yankee Brutals.

It was only the 6th jam of the bout as Pam Terror rolled up to the jamming line, but I couldn’t help but fear that if Pam couldn’t pull in a few points that the rest of the bout might be difficult to watch. Shame on me for doubting the competitive drive of the home town girls. Pam’s skates ignited and she circled twice before having to end the drive. Co-Captain Paula G. ImNaughty kept up the momentum tying the score at 14 as Westchester’s Lil Eve L struggled to recover from the aggressive shoulders of the Yankee Brutal’s defense.

As the first half progressed, Suburbia showed greater group solidarity. Few jammers slipped through the wall of the well organized heavy hitting New Yorkers, though their tactics were also sending more of their team to the penalty box. The point gap grew. Suburbia secured a healthy lead. As the girls skated off to rest up during intermission, the score was 67 to 25. Could Connecticut pull it together in the second half?

It’s always enjoyable when the derby organizers find an entertaining show for intermission. What’s certain is that when it happens, it’ll be anything but a typical intermission. This month we met CT Combat, a martial arts group based out of Oakville, CT. Two students demonstrated basic fighting techniques with their instructor. The combat demonstration was followed by a rollerskate roll-off with the crowd competing to win a giant chocolate roller skate!

Does that need repeating? A giant chocolate roller skate. Awesome!

When the girls returned to their benches, the crowd was ready for more action. Pam Terror started the second half with the star on her helmet pulling 7 points away from New York. Cali Ripskin, who has been skating less than a year, came up next and kept things going for Connecticut with nine more points. The jams of this second half were far more even. But their new spirit wasn’t enough to break the healthy lead that New York had built up in the first half. Halfway through the second period the score stood at 63 to 100 when Murphy’s Outlaw began her run as Jammer. The opposing jammer, Sasha B. Otch found herself on the way to the penalty box early in the jam along with two of the New York blockers.

Murphy Outlaw had an amazing opportunity!!! The Connecticut team had a full skating team on the track while Suburbia only had two blockers to slow the tide. The Connecticut blockers rolled to a virtual stop letting Murphy work her magic. 17 points later the Connecticut crowd was screaming in support. 20 points separated the teams. Pam Terror did her part next by dropping that lead from 20 to 16. Sadly for the hometown fans, that would be the end of the comeback. Sasha B. Otch finished the bout with an aggressive final jam taking the final lead jamming status and ending the bout by dramatically tapping her hips. The end score was 89 for the Yankee Brutals and 113 for the Backyard Bullies.

It was a great night for both teams and their fans. This was one of the most riveting roller derby bout’s I’ve seen. The roller girls were skating hard and both teams showed great strength in adapting to their opponent’s strategies.

Top Scorers!
Backyard Bullies: Slash Borden #40 with 26 points
Yankee Brutals: Pam Terror #9 with 35 points

Interestingly, by my notes the Yankee Brutals actually claimed more lead jamming positions than their rivals (17 for CT vs NY’s 16). The ability of the Backyard Bullies to capitalize on there fewer opportunities and not sacrifice any points while they controlled the track overcame their more regular appearances in the penalty box. Milkstud and Sasha both had 5 trips to the box! Hot Ta’ Wally and Auntie Climax were right behind them with 4 trips each. Meanwhile CT’s biggest offenders were Murphy’s Outlaw and I Harley Knew’em who both only had 3 trips out.

The next time we’ll be seeing the skaters, CTRG’s Stepford Sabotage will be taking on Montreal’s New Skids on the Block on Friday March 5th. If you’re looking for more information, head over to the Connecticut Roller Girl’s website here.

Great job to all the skaters!!

A Screaming Child

Let’s find out how loud it would be if all the toddlers in China, localized to a single point, started screaming in unison.

China population: 1.3 billion
The age of toddling is roughly defined as 12-24 months
China Population, 0-4 years in age = 120 million
Assuming roughly equal distribution amongst that age bracket, that’s about 30 million toddlers.
According to this site, babies crying can reach about 115 decibels. Gah. that’s loud.

Now, let’s look at decibels.
While you can’t just add decibels together, you can use this handy equation:

10 * log((10^(a / 10)) + (10^(b / 10)))

Where (a) and (b) are two decibels that you are adding. To expand this to 30 million crying toddlers it’s best to use a program. I started with excel using a simple loop:


Sub Pop()

Dim i, limit As Integer
Dim multiplier As String

i = Cells(4, 5).Value
limit = Cells(3, 5).Value

multiplier = Cells(6, 4).Value
Cells(5, 2) = multiplier
i = (i + 1)
Cells(4, 7) = i

Loop Until i = (limit + 1)

End Sub

This macro loops through the equation substituting in the current sound level and adding one baby at a time until we reach the limit set by the user. Ideally, the culmination of 30 million babies.

The problem here is that I’m not a very efficient programmer and this program runs excel’s memory dry after a mere 25,000 babies. After four times through the program, I was getting decibel levels of about 165 for 100,000 screaming toddlers. But, since we need 30 million, and I didn’t want to have to click through the program twelve hundred times, I had to call in the big guns. Enter Ryan Schenk.

Ryan Schenk took my code and re-implemented it as a ruby program. Take a look here:

unless (NUM_BABIES = ARGV.first.to_i) > 0
abort(“You need to tell me how many babies are crying\n” +
“\nruby cry_baby.rb 1234 # Where 1234 is the number of babies”)

current_decibel_level = 0.0

NUM_BABIES.times do
current_decibel_level = 10.0 * Math.log10( (10.0 ** (current_decibel_level/10.0)) + (10.0 ** (SINGLE_CRY_VOLUME/10.0)))

puts current_decibel_level

He has 8 cpus on his computer so he can run 8 of these scripts in parallel, each computing the volume of 30m/8 babies. Ryan deems this the most efficient way to do it, one process per cpu core.


189.771212549937 db


Let’s compare our result with other sounds (source 1, source 2)


You’ll note that all the toddlers in China, operating as a singularity, screaming in unison is almost as loud as a Saturn rocket.


Fun side notes:
This analysis looks at pure decibels and as such acts as a very rough estimation. If somehow the babies were screaming in different phases there would be the possibility that the babies crying would cancel each other out resulting in zero sound.

Hmm. this makes me wonder if you could build a speaker to read the sound wave of a crying baby and immediately respond with the inverse wave canceling out the cry.

We could call it Dr. ShutUp.


This Christmas I got a present that feeds my unhealthy obsession of pineapple. It’s a pineapple slicer.

Amazon has a nice little photograph sequence here which shows the process.

Sure enough, it works just as described!



Thanks for the great gift Mom and Dad!


Can you even fathom the awesomeness of Ryan Schenk’s latest mobile?


This mobile features Charles Bronson wakestyle kiteboarding over an angry ocean. Underwater is a shark with a laser beam attached to its head, fighting a t-rex in snorkeling gear. Placing money on the fight is a barracuda incarnation of Tom Waits, to the backbeat of a mermaid playing Kerry King from Slayer’s flying-v guitar through a stack of Marshalls.

Let’s look at each part in extreme depth.

Charles Bronson Kiteboarding


Ryan Schenk reports:

I made several revisions of Charles Bronson to get him structurally sound enough to support himself from the arms. This is the first revision, which didn’t make it into the finished mobile, but looks pretty good.

You can see his wake boots and his Slingshot Fuel in the background.

The final Chuck Bronson was made out of 4 sheets of cardstock laminated into a curved shape by using a mold inside a vacuum bag.


Appreciate Bronson’s incredible bravado.

The Mermaid


You can feel the crushing crunch of this mermaid’s distortion. Appreciate the guitar, expertly made to mimic the flying-v guitar designed by Kerry King from Slayer.

The Mermaid with her stack of Marshall amps.


My heart is warmed by the thought of underwater distortion.

Laser Head Shark


Simple. Elegant. A shark with a laser attached to his head.

The Barracuda


This raspy voiced barracuda comes equipped with top hat, cigarette, and a stack of money clutched tightly in its confident fin.

Snorkeling T-Rex.


If you thought it was safe to enter the waters, you were wrong. Perhaps the most renowned predator of all times might be lurking beneath the waves in full snorkeling regalia. Be wary.

Great job Ryan Schenk.

Persian Santa

With a few exceptions, I’ve been carving my mom Santas as Christmas gifts for the past few years. You might remember Kung Fu Santa and Climbing Santa from years past. This year, inspired by a beautiful artistic camel owned by a coworker, I decided to carve a Persian Santa with an accompanying camel.

With the aid of new recently acquired carving equipment, this years work went a bit more smoothly than years past. Enjoy!

Step 1:
Find some wood and draw the front view of your santa.


Step 2: The rough cut. I don’t have a bandsaw, which would have made this eternally easy, but I do have a chop saw which was a good start and dramatically reduced the carving time.


Step 3:
With the front view cut, I drew a side view and trimmed whatever I could with the chop saw. Admittedly, any tool would have been better, but ya work with what ya got.


Step 4:
With the general shape already taken care of, it’s not a lot of work to get in there to start rounding corners.


Step 5: Having the general shape of the Santa complete, I started in on the camel. Conveniently, the shape of the camel allowed me to use a jigsaw instead of the chop saw.


Step 6: I have a new carving tool which obliterates wood. While awesomely carvrific, it’s also brutal. I held the wood with a clamp just in case the tool took off on me. I didn’t really feel like loosing any fingers. The legs were trimmed down using this monster new tool.


Step 7: Here’s the camel after rounding.


Step 8: One of the best methods for detailing on wood is a burning tool. I have a burner which pumps current through a sharp tip. By digging the tip into the wood you can quickly burn away very specific patterns. Here I’ve drawn the area that I want to burn.


Step 9: Here’s the first pass with the burning tool. You’ll note I also added some creases in the Santa’s elbow.


Step 10: I love the look of burned wood, but if all carvings were left with the burned look, then collectively they’d look stupid. It’s always tough to start painting after the burning, but you gotta do it.

I start with a white primer coat. My camel would be blue with red and gold highlights. Check it out:


Step 11: Paint the Santa. same theme here, white primer with gold blue and red coverings.


Step 12: After painting, I applied an antiquing coat. It’s kinda like dirt paint. It makes things look older and accents the shadows on your piece. Here is the final result of the Santa and his camel on my mom’s fireplace mantel next to a few other Santas.


Merry Christmas Mom!!

Malchish Kibalchish

Last year at this time, Jess in Ukraine intercepted a bunch of prints from their path to the trash after her Ukrainian school decided to get rid of them. She was kind enough to give me one as a gift during my visit. I chose the one below because of its awesome color and the amazing artistry in the chains and lighting.


I knew it was about the youth army, but could only speculate as to the true story behind the prints. UNTIL NOW. This morning I got an e-mail. Jess in Ukraine was talking to her language teacher and got the whole story behind her collection of salvaged prints!

Here we go:

Malchish Kibalchish was a little Soviet boy like any other. He worked at home with his family. He took joy in his play and worked steadfast through his chores. One day a man on a white horse came into town. He announced that he was forming a people’s army to help defeat the German Army. Malchish Kibalchish watched as the town gathered together its fathers, uncles, and elder brothers and sent them off with the man on the white horse.

The seasons wore on and the day came when the man on the white horse returned to Malchish’s village. The man was visibly tired and worn but held his head high. His horse’s tired gait betrayed the struggles on the front line.

His torn clothes hanging wearily from his shoulders, the man announced that they were doing well but needed more support. He asked for the help of the able elder men of the town. Malchish watched as the man on the white horse led his village’s able grandfathers and seniors off to war.

With much of his family off at war, Malchish Kibalchish had taken on a greater role at the household. His hopes of seeing his family’s quick return faded when he saw the man return one more time to his village. Now without a horse, the man struggled to walk forward. He brought news of near victory, but pleaded for more help.

Malchish Kibalchish stepped up proudly “Come on young boys. We have been helping everyone at home the whole time our fathers, uncles and grandfathers went off to fight and now it is our time.”

Malchish and the young privateers headed off with the man and began their fight on the lines. The Fascists were falling under the renewed spirit of the Soviet army.

This is where his arch enemy comes in. Jess remembered his name as Malchish Spalchish. He was a fat and spoiled son of a fascist. The fascists tell Spalchish that they will give him barrels of candy and soda if he will tell them where Kibalchish has his headquarters.

Spalchish accepts his role as traitor and readily tells them. The Fascists find and capture Kibalchish. They chain him up and torture him, demanding the secrets of the Red Army. Malchish remains stoic in his refusal to speak.

The Germans kill him.

There is a monument and a ship named after Malchish Kibalchish. All of the Young Pioneers go to his monument when they are officially sworn in to salute Malchish Kibalchish, the most loyal and bravest Young Pioneer.


I’ll try and get photos of some of the other prints that Jess got her hands on so that we can see more pictures from the story. Special thanks to Jess for the new information!