Enter, If You Dare

Hello there!  You’ve stumbled onto (or into) my blog.  I have some fascinating things to share, but if you don’t find yourself a fan of history, bizarre steampunk fantasies, wargaming, or controversial opinions, turn back now.  My view of history is based on sources from multiple perspectives, my fiction writing is dark and convoluted, and my opinions tend to be expressed with ludicrous amounts of sarcasm.  You have been warned.

The Chaotic Summoners

The chaotic summoners are a mysterious cabal of intellectuals who operate primarily on the Rossberan continent. To fully understand the motives of their actions and the reason behind their name, one must first understand the history behind them.

It was in direct response to Rossberan imperialism that new societal ideas began to emerge in academia. The major coastal powers had expanded inland, gobbling up smaller, poorer, landlocked nations. The only exception was the Martial State of Taressim, which started out as a landlocked nation and moved outward. Once there were no small nations left to absorb, the nine major powers of the continent would find themselves bordering on each other. Expansion of any major power would result in war with another major power. While there were plenty of individuals willing to try this, anyone paying the slightest amount of attention to the international situation knew that the cost of such a war would be enormous. The age of imperialism, therefore, had to come to an end for the sake of peace. What would replace it, however, would be hotly debated.

Two major powers already existed on Rossbera that did not follow the imperial model: the Republic of Breace and the Democratic League of Kantossa. The former was a constitutional republic that broke away from the Arcadian Empire during one of its regular periods of internal strife, when the imperials were far too busy fighting each other to be able to do anything about a separatist movement. The latter, far older, was a mercantilist oligarchy, created as a direct result of a major power vacuum in the wake of Skhara’s collapse. Without the warrior elite, the merchant class took over the remaining city-states on Rossbera’s northeast fingers, forming a powerful trade coalition. However, the exact function of these two unusual countries remained a mystery to outsiders, most of whom considered such organisational structures to be far too risky to replicate. Furthermore, both Breace and Kantossa had expanded their borders through various means, engaging in their own forms of imperialism at the whims of a few power-hungry individuals. Therefore, when pondering what sort of political system should replace the imperial hegemony, scholars all over Rossbera flatly rejected the Breacian and Kantossi models.

The new system, however it was to be implemented, was meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution, eliminating existing class structures. Technically, the Breacian model fit this, as did many smaller nations that no longer existed. However, the Breacian government’s lassez-faire capitalist economy created a great deal of social mobility. There was no entrenched class structure, as any citizen could move up the societal ladder with relative ease, but there were still recognisable socio-economic classes. Granted, the only reason that Breace had recognisable classes was because it was a wealthy and populated nation compared to the likes of Arland or Eisenword, which had become part of Sondor and Taressim respectively. Peret Nokal, a professor of economics in Sondor, thought that he had all the answers. “When it comes to what will benefit the poor,” he said, “it is the lifestyle of the poor that must serve as the model, not the lifestyle of the rich.” Nokal, who later became famous as the “father of social collectivism,” was born in Arland around the time that it was conquered by the Sondorian Empire. “When a poor lavkin has extra money, he spends it,” Nokal observed, “whereas when a rich votrel has extra money, he saves it. This is wrong.” Nokal’s proclamations rang true with fellow “progressive” academics at the time, but not with the people he claimed to champion. Nokal despised the very concept of aspiration, believing that desiring a better lot in life was greedy. For him, there was no greater sin than overcoming adversity – an “original sin” that all members of the bourgeoisie had to repent for. He was eventually murdered in his office by one of his own students, who, ironically, came from a very poor background and gained entrance to university by means of a merit scholarship. Nevertheless, the damage was done, the seeds were sewn for a major paradigm shift.

Collectivism wasn’t a new idea by any stretch. In fact, the term had previously been used by staunch imperialists to brow-beat malcontents in recently-conquered territories, smearing self-described “proud nationalists” and “patriots” with terms such as “insular,” “tribalistic,” and “individualist.” “National collectivism” was one of the many propaganda terms used to bring the recently-subdued populations to heel. This step toward unity was a springboard that launched the social collectivist movement, with the social collectivists getting the national collectivists on board by proclaiming that they were all working toward the same goal, it was simply that national collectivism didn’t go far enough. Through a combination of philosophical wordplay and the passage of time, the abstract social collectivism replaced the concrete national collectivism among the progressive propagandists. Eventually, imperialists abandoned the term “collectivism” altogether.

Social collectivism eventually overtook academia, though it remained confined to the so-called “scholar class” for as long as imperial expansion continued. It wasn’t until the buffer zone between Sondor and Taressim was small enough to cross in a day’s walk that anyone outside of the universities began to take seriously the idea that imperialism had to end, one way or another, and even then, there were far too many old military men who wanted to try out their new toys in a war between empires. Still, tensions were rising not only between the classes, but within them as well. A generation had passed since Nokal’s death, and students from aristocratic backgrounds found themselves in conflict with their professors if they didn’t toe the line of ending imperialism. It was not uncommon practise for students to be asked where their allegiance lay: with their “greedy, imperialist families,” or with the common good. In response to the schools losing tremendous amounts of money from such scandals, there were two basic responses. In Sondor and Alexandria, for example, the schools were nationalised, funded directly by imperial coffers, while collectivists were removed from their positions. In Arcadia, noble families hired professors as private tutors, so that their children would never even step foot in a university. Armen Draess, a noble himself as well as a professor, ended up taking up the role of tutor to Prince Linnus Rodilos, while Crown Prince Vaemus took it upon himself to purge the most prestigious Arcadian institutions of collectivist subversives. Yet, while governments were busy cracking down on what was being taught in their schools, the scholar class was no stranger to purges of its own.

As was to be expected with this paradigm shift, a new generation of intellectual dissenters would soon arise. Rather than a reactionary resurgence of imperialists, however, the new movement was anarchist in nature. The anarchists’ philosophies varied wildly; some merely discontent at the fact that the collectivists were much more conformist in their ways of thinking than the older academics ever were; others felt that the ideology itself was flawed. Whatever the case, just as the collectivists were the edgy rebels a generation ago, meeting in secret to discuss ideas that stuffy “imperial conformist” intellectuals disapproved of, the anarchists found themselves biting their tongues and meeting with like-minded people in secret. The main problem was the lack of like-minded people to begin with. The anarchists all came from highly varied disciplines, and all that they really had in common was a disdain for collectivist thinking. Still, they managed to find each other, sometimes travelling from one end of the continent to the other to meet.

One thing that many anarchists had in common was a fascination with the occult. This alone was enough for mainstream intellectuals to dismiss them as “backward, superstitious country-folk with no place at a university,” (never mind that many aristocrats also found the subject fascinating) exposing a severe flaw in the philosophy of the so-called “champions of the poor.” Thus, the meetings of anarchists frequently resembled book club meetings, albeit about some rather strange and frequently disturbing literature. Those who possessed copies of extremely rare (usually from being banned) books, such as The Eight-Fold Path, the closest thing that anarchists had to a holy book, and Secrets of the Imperial House of Skharnov ended up becoming celebrities within these anarchist circles. Being academically purged became a badge of honour among the anarchists. Those who were purged and blacklisted were sometimes actively sought out by the nobility, who were at odds with the academic institutions. Principled anarchists usually refused whatever offer that they received, but when they were left with nothing and had to mooch off their friends, that’s when they were most likely to meet yet another benefactor.

Chuyinka, being creatures of chaos, solitary and hyper-individualist, are anarchists without exception. To them, anyone intelligent and free-thinking enough to go against both the imperials and the social collectivists was worth meeting. Initial meetings of chuyinka and anarchists were somewhat tense. This was entirely understandable, as chuyinka who willingly involved themselves in mammalian society were usually involved in the arms trade. A disdain for war and conquest was something that the anarchists and social collectivists actually had in common, so for either group to ally itself with a bunch of imperialist arms dealers made no sense, at least until the chuyinka revealed their true motives. How, precisely, a secretive race of duplicitous shape-shifters that wholeheartedly admitted to regularly committing treason managed to convince a group of disenfranchised academics that they were at all trustworthy is a mystery, but an alliance was nonetheless formed. The chuyinka then provided the anarchist intellectuals with a task: to actively seek out like-minded individuals at all levels of society and “recruit” them, for lack of a better word, to the anarchist cause. In turn, they would be provided with everything that they needed for their studies, occult or otherwise, and would be free to experiment in any manner that they desired, no matter how… questionable.

Using their extensive knowledge of the occult, the chaotic summoners were able to craft complex coded messages to broadcast their ideas, usually via newspaper, to potential anarchists who might be hiding in the general population. The subversive messages reached far and wide, even planting the seeds of defection in the minds of military officers, inspiring them to abandon their duties to their nations and form chaos war bands. Of course, the anarchists weren’t the only ones doing this, as the collectivists had been doing similar things for far longer. Each faction had its advantages and disadvantages, and those tended to vary depending on the culture that each group was trying to bend to its will. The chaotic summoners were far fewer in number, and they tended not to be so dependent on their group, which could work either against them or in their favour depending on the circumstances. They also had an easy way out if they ever got caught by the authorities: the star of chaos. The star of chaos, crossed with a ladder, was a common symbol for the various arms dealers all over Rossbera. While common people had no idea what it meant, police usually interpreted it as a sign of impunity. Anyone who wore the symbol was always of a far higher status than they appeared, and not only did imperial authorities always order their release, but the arresting officer was usually found dismembered in a ritualistic manner a few days later. Police learned very quickly to avoid anyone bearing the symbol, and so the chaotic summoners were free to practise their subversive activities in peace, whereas the collectivists were rounded up and imprisoned regularly. As they grew in number, however, the anarchists became increasingly violent and, by extension, visible.

The greatest strength of the collectivists was their ability to purify their groups into thinking as one; the greatest strength of chaos was its ability to infiltrate without being infiltrated in turn. Powers that knew of a chaos presence would frequently kill large portions of their populations just to get rid of one summoner or tiny chaos cult – which they usually missed anyway. The greatest weakness of the collectivists was their prioritisation of conformity over loyalty, let alone ability; the greatest weakness of chaos was that its followers had a nasty tendency to take terror tactics way too far. Widespread purges are off-putting enough; wearing the skin of one’s enemies, even more so.

By the time that all of Rossbera was engulfed in full-scale war, chaos had a fully-fledged army, and the chaotic summoners themselves were operating on Khandar as well. Black dwarf lords acted as recruiters, not only leading their own clans in service to the chuyinka, but also fighting other clans, demonstrating the power of chaos and bringing those clans into the fold by force. Crystal witches, meanwhile, druorns cast out from the mech-cities for techno-heresy, also became chaotic summoners, though they did little in the way of recruiting and focused more on studying neticine, again to the benefit of the chuyinka. There was one notable individual recruited into the service of the chuyinka by a crystal witch, a sartorius guard and secret techno-heretic named Antaria, but that’s a story for another time.

Two Interesting Books

This is not an opinion piece, though I put it in that section because it really doesn’t belong anywhere else. I suppose I should add another section for “literature” or “book reviews,” specifically, if I end up making more posts like this. With that out of the way, let’s get to the books!

The books in question were both published this year: How Innovation Works, by Matt Ridley, and The Innovation Delusion, by Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell. I found out about them in the book review section of the AAAS publication Science, the 9 October issue, volume 370, issue № 6513, page 178. I haven’t read them yet, and I have no idea when I’ll get round to doing so, but I will add them to my reading list, simply because they present two different viewpoints about a critical modern issue, one for which I don’t have a solution, but is still at the forefront of my mind, given what I do.

While I could end this post right here, there is more to the story of why I find this particular subject so fascinating, and there are questions I hope to have answered in the books themselves. To begin, I shared a post written by Jacob Tothe on LinkedIn a while ago, and the comments I find are just as valuable as the body text of the article itself. Although the original discussion was about all the luxuries that we, in modern society, enjoy on a daily basis that were beyond the imagination a century ago, the comments are a discussion of how that very process of innovation has been impeded over the decades, and how the innovators themselves are, sometimes, their own worst enemies. The short explanation is that some inventors guard their inventions jealously, thus preventing others from building upon the original invention and further improving the technology. Of course, the story seldom ends there, because when one inventor doesn’t play nice, others will follow. Likewise, spectators take sides, particularly if the invention is one of great interest. If the invention is relatively mundane or its value under-appreciated, however, then such a story ends up consigned to the dustbin of history.

Moving from the litigious side of the innovation conflict to the social side, there is a passage from the book review that really piqued my interest. The following block is taken directly from the review article:

In their opinion, strategies to boost innovation, such as emphasizing STEM education – which, they argue, often advance “the interests of universities and corporations” rather than those of students – have led us to a misplaced focus on innovation for innovation’s sake. Moreover, this misguided emphasis ignores what matters most in a thriving society: maintenance.

Vinsel and Russell (“them” from the excerpt) are portrayed as rather cynical in the review article, and “sick of hearing what’s good for Silicon Valley,” which is one of the reasons I’d love to read what they have to say. However, I’m far more interested in their attitude toward STEM education, because, while I can see the case for it being far more beneficial for corporations than for students, the benefit to universities is much more tenuous. If they had said “technical colleges,” rather than “universities,” I wouldn’t have such a quibble (maybe they do, I haven’t read the book yet). What has me most interested, of course, is not what Vinsel and Russell have to say about the approach to STEM education, but on STEM itself, because I hold the position that STEM greatly benefits the individuals who have such educations, not just “society at large,” regardless of what “society” actually means to you. I have, after all, encountered people who believe that liberals arts colleges should remain “pure,” and free of any sort of technical education, never mind that the oft-denegrated “trade schools” are inappropriate environments to teach high-level science, advanced mathematics, or the highly specialised computer skills required for modern engineering, especially at the graduate level (and this is coming from someone who not only has a bachelor’s degree from a trade school, but is also entirely self-taught with numerous other skills).

I don’t expect to fully agree with one book or the other, rather, I expect to find valuable information and valid points in both. Perhaps if you, dear reader, have read either of these books, you can give me greater insight than the review that drew my attention to them in the first place.

Another Project Done

Yesterday, I finished building my new shooting gallery, and I have to say, it came out quite well – for being the product of someone with literally no experience in construction, working completely alone. Then again, I suppose I have YouTube channels such as Primitive Technology and Mr. Chickadee to thank. Either that, or growing up in a house that was perpetually under construction, and simply being around the stuff a lot. Still, I’m a machinist, not a carpenter (and it shows).

This was a much quicker project than the tractor canopy, taking only four days instead of eight. To be fair, however, when working on this one, I generally spent more time per day working on it, and I had far fewer delays.

The first day I spent working on a preliminary design, which I changed just before beginning construction (though I hinted I would do that in the design video). That was back in March, and I only just now got round to building it. To be fair, this is not warm-weather work, at least not for a walking toaster like me (before anyone decides to remark on the obvious, I’ve been a cold-weather cat since LONG before I stopped cutting my hair).

Design video: https://www.bitchute.com/video/evfRJVvuLzC1/

I got the lumber in the evening, so it sat overnight before I did anything, and therefore I don’t count that as a day. The second day (when I finally pulled the lumber out of the truck) was the day that I cut up the pieces and drilled all the pilot holes where they were needed. This wasn’t really an all-day process, though it did get briefly interrupted by rain.

Basic woodworking: https://www.bitchute.com/video/AQ4Bw3jx2RsN/

The next day was the painting day. This was an all-day process, even though I tried to make it as efficient as possible by putting all the structural members next to each other on a pair of metal saw-horses, one piece of OSB on top of the main posts (which didn’t get painted), and the other piece of OSB on top of a plastic tractor cart (not shown in the video). OSB is quite paint-thirsty, and as such, takes a long time to dry. Everything was finished just as the dew began to settle, and then I began compiling and editing the footage that I already had. This was a time-consuming process, since my main desktop is running Windows 7, and even though I have OBS (Open Broadcast Software, not to be confused with OSB, which stands for Oriented Strand Board), I don’t know what its editing capabilities are, much less how to use them. I use OBS strictly for screen recording when I’m making CAD tutorials. My secondary desktop runs Windows 10, but that’s in Maryland, so I’m stuck using my potato laptop, which also has Windows 10 (in case you haven’t caught on, I like using the built-in video editor that Windows 10 has – it doesn’t do everything I want, but it’s good enough for now). I did as much editing as I cared to do before calling it a night and posting my progress report to Hive.

Painting: https://www.bitchute.com/video/1bTC1PaAfm3J/

The fourth and final day was assembly day. I didn’t start until right after lunch, mainly because I woke up late. Full disclosure, Hero Forge 2.0 had just been released, so I was goofing off “painting” my virtual miniatures until quite late the previous night. I’ve mentioned Hero Forge before on this blog, and I regularly share my creations on Hive. From now on, however, all the Hero Forge creations that I share will be in FULL COLOUR! Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I spent an hour digging holes for the main posts, the first two of which gave me trouble, as I had to break up and pry out lots of rocks in order to get the desired 24 inch (61 centimetre) depth. If there is a god, the he must reward persistence, because the third and final hole gave me no trouble at all; I was able to dig in completely using only the post-hole digger, which is an exceedingly rare occurrence in the ground where I live. With the hard part out of the way, the posts went in, and the assembly proceeded from there with little trouble. I had to wiggle the posts a bit to get everything to fit together toward the end (measure twice, cut once, beat into place), as expected, but it wasn’t all that hard.

Final assembly: https://www.bitchute.com/video/bLYeDVD1MrTU/

I would have had this posted sooner, but the final video required an unprecedented SIX attempts (WTF BitChute?!) before it would finally finish processing (this is after upload). Much as I intended to document the process of adjusting the scope on my crossbow, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’ve had enough with sitting about, doing nothing, waiting for video files to process, especially since it eats up so much time. I think I’ll wait to upload more videos until after BitChute releases its desktop application, which, supposedly, will make the upload and processing much more reliable.

Hive Trouble is Over

Given the strange nature of what was going on, I didn’t expect this problem to be solved so quickly. Luckily, I was able to dig up my old laptop and log in to Hive. I had a draft saved, which I opened with the intent of clearing all the text and posting it to the “Ask the Hive” community to see if there was a solution. The first time I did so, I wasn’t able to post it, for reasons I go into below, so I tried again a few days later, and it worked! Now I have my answer. I’m writing this post just in case anyone else has a similar problem. The solution, as it turns out, is a rather simple one. What follows is my question to the Hive and the answers I received.

I have a strange problem, perhaps someone can help me out. On the first of the month, I powered up 10 HIVE, but then was immediately kicked off the site. What appeared on my screen was a Cloudflare 502 “bad gateway” error message, telling me that the problem was Hive itself. My connection was fine (supposedly), and Cloudflare was working (supposedly).

However, this problem seems to be limited to my desktop computer, which is what I was using at the time. I was able to access Hive on other devices, but I couldn’t post anything for a few days afterward. If I tried to post using my potato laptop (which I am now using to type this post), I got another error message as soon as I clicked “post”: “obsolete form of transaction detected, please update your wallet.” As it turns out, my wallet was frozen, and I couldn’t redeem rewards.

This problem fixed itself a few days later, and I am now able to access my Hive wallet and redeem rewards, even on my desktop – but I still can’t access my blog on my desktop, as I still get the 502 error message specifying that the problem is Hive, regardless of which browser I use. For the record, I have restarted my computer, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

Oddly enough, this is a problem unique to Hive on that machine, as I can still access PeakD – but I can’t log in to PeakD, as Hivesigner doesn’t like any of my keys, for some reason. Does anyone know how I can fix this? I’d rather not have to be stuck using my laptop to post to Hive.

I’ve made a gripe about this already on my WordPress blog (link under the “resources” tab on my website), and I contacted @jacobtothe via Diaspora about the issue, but I haven’t gotten a response. If I can’t fix it, then I’m abandoning Hive permanently, and the stuff that I post here will henceforth be distributed between WordPress, SubscribeStar, and Diaspora (links to my pages are scattered about my website and WordPress blog under the “resources” and “about” tabs).

Bryan Imhoff:

Wish I had a more definitive answer for you… but I don’t! I know that some of the intermittent errors you experienced, like the “obsolete transaction” error were a temporary glitch due to some changes associated with the HardFork taking place over the next few days.

Are you able to access hive.blog at all on your desktop? For example can you see your settings options but not any blog content? If that’s the case then you might try switching the node/API endpoint in the advanced settings.

If the entire page is throwing an error which I assume is the case, it almost seems like it would have to be browser related? Have you tried clearing your browser cache/cookies etc? Those may not be “cleansed” by a restart of the computer itself.

I am primarily a PeakD user myself, but hive.blog seems to be fine on my end. When it comes to Hivesigner I think the most common error some users make is trying to put in their public key and not their private key, so perhaps double check that for your troubles there. Overall I mainly use the Hive Keychain plugin whenever possible instead of Hivesigner. It’s always seemed smoother and more user friendly for me, so it would be another option to look at if you want to get up and running on PeakD or other Hive based sites in general.

Lastly, if you have a self hosted WordPress blog are you aware of the Steempress plugin? As far as I know it hasn’t been renamed yet… but it’s a plugin that did make the changeover from Steem to Hive earlier this year. It allows you to post to Hive direct from your WordPress blog, integrate Hive comments on your wordpress blog if you choose, etc. Well worth the look if you haven’t seen it before.

Me:

Thanks for all the info. I had no idea about the Steempress plugin, will definitely check it out.

I cleared the cache and cookies in my main browser, and that solved the problem. I really should learn to try that sooner when I have problems, rather than trying everything else first.

Jacob Tothe:

Sorry about not responding on diaspora. I’m not on very often. I have no idea why there might be issues.

Me:

I figured, judging by your posting history, that I might be waiting for a response for a while. Anyway, the problem has been solved. I feel like a blithering fool for not clearing my cache and cookies first thing, but whatever.

Well, if anyone else has this problem, now you know: clear cache, clear cookies, clear login info, log back in, and that should restore access.

Trouble in the Hive

I’ve had problems with blockchain social media networks before. Hard Fork 20 took away my ability to post on Steemit because I didn’t have enough resource credit, and I wasn’t able to post again until the problem with the website itself was fixed. Then there were the downvote bots, which appeared several times over the years in waves. Finally, there was the censorship of other creators, mostly having to do with an offshoot called Hive. Even mentioning the word “Hive” will get your posts blocked on Steemit, and the problems didn’t end there. Most, but not all, of the creators that I follow switched to Hive, so there wasn’t a big loss once I switched as well.

Hive was a bit frustrating at first, because until the servers were fully operational, I couldn’t post photos from my DSLR camera, because the files were too big. That was a problem for only a few days, however, and Hive hasn’t given me any more problems – until now.

Yesterday, I encountered something easily as bad as HF20. As soon as I “powered up,” which is, for simplicity’s sake, the process of converting one type of cryptocurrency to another (nothing out of the ordinary for crypto users), I was frozen out of the website. I have managed to determine that this is a problem with my account, not the website as a whole, but I have no way of knowing if this is unique to me. Every regular creator that I follow can still post, apparently, but I can’t do anything. Depending on which computer I’m on, I can’t even access the website. I sent a message via Diaspora to a friend of mine who is also on the blockchain, and hopefully he knows what this is about. Until he gets back to me, however, all I can do is continue to check back every few hours to see if my access has been restored. As of this post, it’s been more than 24 hours, so this isn’t some temporary glitch.

Assuming that this problem I encountered is similar in nature to HF20 in some capacity, then I won’t return to Hive for a few months. I’ll go from red fish to dead fish, as it were. It’s a shame, because I was finally starting to get decent engagement, and I had quite a few things lined up for the rest of the year. Therefore, my progress reports on my various projects will be shared on SubscribeStar from now on, as well as here on WordPress. Since virtually no-one follows me cross-platform, I expect this message to fall on deaf ears.

With the complaints out of the way, it’s time for another project update, so you know what to expect in the next few months.

№ 1: vacuum forming. I finally have the details of the process worked out, there’s just one snag – my press is considerably bigger than my oven. I chose a membrane press, which allows me to form any size sheet of plastic, instead of limiting myself to whatever size the press itself is (which can be rather wasteful, depending on how small the product is). So, instead of the press having an integral heating element, I put the frame holding the sheet of plastic to be formed into an oven – yes, I’m doing this in my kitchen. I actually have a toaster oven in my 3D print shop, where I normally keep the press, but that’s way too small for the project I’m currently working on now. I figured my regular oven would suffice, but that’s not quite big enough, either. The frame fits, but not with clamps on the ends. The shorter members of the rectangular frame are also about twice as long as the distance I can get away with not supporting, so those ends need to be clamped. Furthermore, there are small cavities in my mould that keep air pockets in them, so I need to put some air channels in. Then I’ll get to see just how thin the plastic gets in those areas. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll have a project that isn’t quite so difficult, and I’ll be able to share a demonstration.

№ 2: shooting gallery. I have it drawn up, I know exactly how I want to proceed, I just need to get the lumber – which I can’t at the moment because stupid reasons. Hopefully, that will be something that I can share in the next two or three weeks. After that, there will be more shooting videos, both bow and gun, on my BitChute channel. It’s a pity that I can’t post to Hive, because I have a few people on a shooting community called “The Pew” who are interested in the gallery itself. Oh well, if anyone currently reading this is subscribed to The Pew on Hive and is interested in how I build my shooting gallery, my BitChute channel isn’t hard to find.

№ 3: machine shop. Assuming that I fix the issues with my vacuum forming process before I can get the lumber for the shooting gallery, I’ll probably have time to begin restoring my machine tools. They are still in working order, as I found out when I got my first machining job in years, but they need to be cleaned up – a lot. There’s not much else to say, for now.

№ 4: foundry. I recently ordered the gas-fired crucible furnace and burn-out kiln for metal casting. They are scheduled for delivery 2-4 weeks from now, but I doubt I will get round to using them right away, what with that coinciding with hunting season. Once I have the time, however, I’ll start running some tests with metal casting. I’ll start with something fairly low-temperature, such as aluminium, and then I’ll move on to brass, bronze, iron, and, if I can get decent amounts of it, gold.

There are other projects that I’ve listed in earlier posts that still haven’t been finished, and I haven’t abandoned them either, I’m just taking some proverbial irons out of the metaphorical fire until I know I’m actually going to do something with them. For those of you who have been following me for a while, you already know which projects I’ve actually completed. Little by little, my operation is expanding.

One Project Down…

…and who knows how many more to go.  I finally completed my tractor canopy project a few days ago, and today, I uploaded the third and final video to BitChute.  I shared photos from each stage of the construction on Hive, so feel free to check those out and see what notes I had to make for this project.  The whole process, from design to finish, took eight days, though it was spread out over the course of a year, owing to more interruptions than I care to count.  Still, this project shouldn’t have even taken eight days, since I had other setbacks that kept me from working from morning till night on the project, such as running out of shielding gas, getting frustrated with my extremely unforgiving touch-start TIG machine (which isn’t a real TIG machine, it’s a SMAW machine that can do GTAW), and not having the slightest clue what I wanted to use for the actual canopy part for the longest time.

Now, for those of you wondering why I didn’t just buy a canopy, there are two reasons: first, they are not cheap, second (and this is more important), I need a canopy that doesn’t stick up from the roll-bar at all, otherwise I’d have to remove it before parking the tractor.  As it is, if the garage door drops down while I’m in the process of backing out, the roll-bar will tear off the bottom of the door – and yes, I did learn this the hard way.  I don’t think I ever mentioned that before.  Regardless, I started off with a little announcement about this project, before sharing any documentation of the actual work.

Intro: https://hive.blog/diy/@steampunkkaja/my-next-project

On Day 1, I made some quick sketches of what this thing was supposed to look like: https://hive.blog/diy/@steampunkkaja/diy-tractor-canopy-day-1

Tractor Canopy Part 1

On Day 2, I went through the actual design process in Autodesk Inventor: https://www.bitchute.com/video/9DmV1NG3KC6m/

On Day 3, I cut, deburred, and laid out the square tube stock for welding.  I would have started welding as well, but I had no gas: https://hive.blog/diy/@steampunkkaja/diy-tractor-canopy-day-3

Days 4 and 5 were combined into a single post, because reasons, but you get to see some nice weld beads – at least, as nice as I can get with my cheap equipment and sub-standard skills: https://hive.blog/diy/@steampunkkaja/diy-tractor-canopy-days-4-and-5

Tractor Canopy Part 2

On Day 6, I posted photos of the final assembly and uploaded the metalworking video to BitChute.  This was also my most popular post by far, and was the sign I was looking for as to which direction I should take my blog: https://hive.blog/bitchute/@steampunkkaja/diy-tractor-canopy-day-6

Shooting Range Ep 1

Two-and-a-half months later, I showed off the frame in place in a video that I shot at my dilapidated shooting range.  This is relevant, because one of things I use this tractor for is mowing that field.  I didn’t have time that particular year, so you’ll see how bad it gets: https://www.bitchute.com/video/ejYq7JkROhf2/

Kaja's Shooting Range Ep 2-1

Four months after that, I re-visited the shooting range to take some measurements of the area where I wish to re-build the shooting gallery.  I plan to build something much more substantial than I ever had before, this way I can practise traditional archery and pistol shooting along with rifle and crossbow shooting.  There were a few small trees in the way, but I managed to get what I need and draw something up: https://www.bitchute.com/video/evfRJVvuLzC1/

I still continued to post pictures of models, both physical and virtual, for the next year, before I finally got round to resuming the tractor canopy project.  Granted, I had other metalworking projects in the mean time, but didn’t bother to document them, because reasons (mostly client confidentiality).  On day 7, eleven months after day 6, I cleaned up the frame, prepped it for painting, then primed and painted it: https://hive.blog/diy/@steampunkkaja/diy-tractor-canopy-day-7

Tractor Canopy Part 3

After leaving the painted frame to dry overnight, I finally finished it on day 8, capping off the open ends of the tubes, fitting the frame to the roll-bar, and fitting the canopy (a vinyl tablecloth) to the frame with hook-and-loop (“Velcro”) fasteners and brass grommets.  This was a rather involved process, and while I tried to cut down the video as much as I could, it’s still an hour long.  At least it’s finally done: https://www.bitchute.com/video/A8RPsV6hkDUe/

The next day, I mowed the field where the shooting range is located.  The sun was rather unpleasant, but that vinyl tablecloth blocked roughly 90% of the light, so I’m happy with it.  I had worried that I might need a liner, and I can still add one if I so choose.  The day after mowing, I cleaned up the area round the old shooting gallery, removing the small trees and cleaning up the area enough so that I have room to work.  Since digging holes is strenuous work, especially in Pennsylvania soil (better known as solid rock), I’m going to save that for a cool day – so, at least a month from now.  The process of bringing my shooting gallery vision to life will be the second part of the second episode in that series, and after that, the fun begins!

Ika Maruyaki (Panfried Squid with Home Made Teriyaki Sauce)

After once having this dish at a restaurant, I decided that I’d try making it myself (once I discovered I could get squid at the local fish market). I had to improvise, seeing as I didn’t have all the ingredients to make the marinade, but the results were decent. I chose the low-heat option for cooking the squid, and it took 30 minutes before it was tender enough to eat. The only complaint that I had was that the marinade was a bit strong when it was fully thickened, so I need to dilute it with something mild next time.

flofoodventure

Pan Fry Squids

Introduction:

Squids can be panfried quickly to tender perfection.

First method:

Cook squid fast over high heat

Second method:

Slow cooked squid to achieve tenderness
Anything between results will cause the squid to be chewy.

First experience tasting “Ika Maruyaki” at Mount Fuji

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Ingredients:

Two large Squid (Sotong) cleaned and give a few cuts on the flesh without having to cut through.

Home Prepared Teriyaki Sauce:

Half cup of Superior Light Soya Sauce

Quarter cup of water

1 tablespoon Sherry Cooking Wine

2 teaspoon of Gula Melaka or raw sugar

2 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon Mirin

Combine all the ingredients into a non stick sauce pan over medium heat until sugar dissolved.

For glazing, add one tablespoon of cornflour and one tablespoon water.

Simmer until thickened.

Note:

You can adjust the sauce combination to your own likeness.

Method for cooking the Squids

View original post 82 more words

Fictional Phylogeny, Part 2: the Origins of Dragons

Originally, I was going to save this until I had finally illustrated all of the dragons and proto-dragons that I had dreamt up and put them all into a nice cladogram.  However, given the strangely high popularity of Part 1, I decided that it best not to leave my readers hanging.  Perhaps, some time in the near future, I shall finally get round to finishing my illustrations and be able to share my first complete cladogram for the phylogeny of my fictional world.

I have previously shared these on Hive, and will include additions as I make them, even if it’s just a single illustration.  You can see the fragments that contributed to this post here, here, and here.

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The crown, or origin, of all Varanganskan dragons is a six-legged arboreal dinosaur called Epihexapodosaurus, a name which means “more than [just] a six-legged lizard.”  Environmental changes, specifically widespread flooding in prehistoric jungles, drove many animals up into the trees.  Dinosaurs, which are defined primarily by their hips, were adapted to high-speed bipedal running on the ground, but “reverted,” for lack of a better word, to a shape that superficially resembles a six-legged lizard (actually, aside from snakes, all Varanganskan lizards alive at the time of The Nine Empires have six legs).

Epihexapodosaurus spread far and wide, and while some of the areas it moved to remained the same, some dried out, and the animals adapted to a more terrestrial lifestyle, as their ancient ancestors had.  Their legs thus became more adapted to running, but the changes that had built up resulted in a different body shape from earlier dinosaurs.  So began the lineage of “dog-lizards,” owing to their body plan and lifestyle reminiscent of canids.

Dog-lizard graphic tree.PNG

Each of the dots, or nodes, on this cladogram is arranged in the order it appeared chronologically.  Furthermore, nodes are arranged with basal forms placed lower than more derived specimens.  Therefore, the dog-lizards, being the most basal descendants of Epihexapodosaurus, are the bottom branch.  You may notice that some of these are brown and furry – this is because these dog-lizards lived in colder climates, and thus their fibrous proto-feathers grew into thick coats.  One of these dog-lizards is so stocky for the purpose of preserving body heat that it resembled a bear, but made from a dinosaur.  This one is called Arctosaurus, which literally means “bear-lizard.”  At the same time in much warmer climates lived a dog-lizard with a long, slender body, and with rows of spines instead of fluff.  Its head crest also reminded me of Spyro the dragon when I finished it, so I called this one Spyrocyonosaurus, literally “Spyro the dog-lizard.”  Descended from it are the earliest and most primitive of viviparous dinosaurs, and thus the first true dragons, the great serpents.

Megaserpentes 1.PNG

Megaserpentes (a name I’m sure I don’t need to translate) was the first true dragon, and its descendants did one of two things: either they kept the same body shape and went back up into the trees, or they traded in their legs for flippers and adapted to an aquatic lifestyle.  The aquatic (later marine) lineage is the only one to survive to the modern day, as I mentioned before, and while the extant specimens don’t have limbs at all, they all started out like this:

Thalassaserpentes 1.PNG

Going off on a brief tangent, the more derived lineage of dog-lizards specialised their front pair of limbs into brachiodonts, which are structures that I mentioned before in my post about dire toads (Batrachosuchus), and then again when I described the quasi-mammal Plesiotherium, also called a burrowing walrus.  I did this mainly for fun, and also because I wanted an excuse to make something that looked like a tyranid:

Tyrannobrachiodontosaurus 1.PNG

Dog-lizards had just barely begun to differentiate themselves between the lineage that would become dragons and the lineage that developed brachiodonts before, back in the jungles where Epihexapodosaurus had first emerged, some interesting things were going on with actual lizards as well.  One lineage, for no discernable reason, shortened its body and lost a pair of legs before adopting an arboreal lifestyle, and sometime thereafter, adapted the forward of its two pairs of remaining legs into wings.  Other lizards had evolved the means to glide before (in the real world as well as in my fictional one, there’s even one such lizard alive today), but none had ever done so in a manner that could lead to powered flight.  Thus began the lineage of wyverns, which drove competition with arboreal dinosaurs, which copied them and improved upon the design.

Dragon cladogram 5.PNG

Dinosaurs were endothermic (warm-blooded), and their higher metabolism than ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals, such as lizards, made them much more suited to powered flight.  Initially, these flying dinosaurs were not that impressive, and started out gliding, just as lizards did before them.  The differences between the wing structures is more easily seen below in a close-up of the sequence.

Almost dragons.PNG

As they became more specialised for powered flight, the row of dorsal spines separated into two patches: one on the head, which eventually became a head crest, and one on the tail, which eventually became a tail fin.  Both of these acted as rudders on the more specialised descendants, including the first true flying dragon.

Almost dragon.PNG

These two different lineages evolved differently based on their flying style.  Though these two illustrations are fairly similar, you can already see noticeable differences between Tetradactylopteryx on the left and Pseudodactylopteryx on the right.  The names, incidentally, refer to a four-fingered wing and a “false-fingered wing,” respectively, as the dragon wing is supported by a spine protruding from the elbow as well as all four fingers.  The wings themselves are also shaped differently, as longer, thinner wings are more suited to gliding than to flapping.  Tetradactylopteryx, as you may have noticed on the cladogram, isn’t a true dragon, and doesn’t have all of the necessary adaptations for powered flight that true flying dragons do.  However, these flying dinosaurs grew to be far larger than any actual dragon, and the discovery of a partial skeleton of a descendant, Gigantopteryx, a somewhat pterosaur-like flying dinosaur the size of a Lancaster bomber, led to the myth of the cloud-jumper, a giant dragon that the sky gods rode.  However, while the mythical cloud-jumper may be depicted in artwork as simply an exceptionally large dragon, and it may have have feathered wings, the Gigantoperyx specimen that inspired the story had a toothless beak – something that no true dragon has.  To be fair, however, the myth originated long before anyone found a specimen with an intact head.

Gigantopteryx

Meanwhile, true flying dragons didn’t get particularly big, and their wings ended up being distinctly different for two reasons.  First, larger species of flying dinosaurs retained a functioning thumb claw, which they used as an anchor.  Smaller animals didn’t need to do this, and in dragons, the first step was to lengthen the thumb and connect it to the first finger with a membrane, thus creating a leading-edge flap.  This ultimately led to the thumb becoming the same length as the other fingers, creating a five-fingered wing additionally supported by the elbow spine.  The crown of this lineage is Acanthopteryx, or “spiny wing.”

Dragon wings.PNG

The wings became shorter and wider over time, as one would expect for fliers that relied more on flapping than on gliding.  Furthermore, true dragons and large flying dinosaurs occupied different environments and fulfilled different roles, with dragons typically remaining in forested areas and hunting in the trees (which is how they wiped out the wyverns).  Gigantopteryx and others like it, meanwhile, hunted in open areas, including the open ocean, keeping their nests in cliffs (for reasons that ought to be obvious).

The next part of this series will discuss the third and final branch of the dragon cladogram, which leads to both feathered dragons and birds.  Think of it this way: if birds are dinosaurs, doesn’t it make more sense that the dragons we typically see in fiction would also be dinosaurs, rather than lizards?

 

The Growing 3D Print Hobby

During my senior year of college, my rapid prototyping professor said that he expected, within a few years, that fused deposition modelling (FDM) printers would become as common as inkjet printers were back then (2012), and every college dorm room would have one.  I think it’s safe to say that he was correct, judging by how much information is out on the internet.  However, I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the return of stereolithography (SLA), the original 3D printing process, via its modern, high-efficiency incarnation, low-force SLA, or LFS.

I have watched 3D printing communities grow online over the years since I first got into the hobby.  To give you an overly brief history of my experience, I received a Makerbot Replicator as a graduation present back in 2012, and I printed very few models with it, some that I had designed myself, and others that I found on Thingiverse, before I discovered its limitations.  I had heard of Shapeways from my professor, but didn’t finally get around to opening an online shop there until 2013.  From a combination of requests, new materials added to their library over the years, and dreaming up new ideas on my own, I now have over 600 different models uploaded, and over 300 different products available for sale.  Most of these items are wargaming miniatures, but there are also some jewellery items and other odds and ends.  A few years ago, Shapeways announced their partnership with Hero Forge, a website for designing custom wargaming figurines (as opposed to vehicles and ships, which are my speciality).  Last year, I joined Wargaming 3D, a file-sharing website similar to Thingiverse, but for wargaming miniatures specifically.  My models dominate the 6mm collection there.  I also purchased my own LFS printer and launched my own website, which is nothing more than an online catalogue for my miniature tanks, but I have plans to expand it to include all of my miniatures.  I no longer have the Replicator.  This year, I joined the 3D printing community on Hive, which is quickly expanding as well, and I would urge anyone who enjoys this hobby to get on Hive and join that community.  Likewise, if you use 3D printing primarily for making wargaming miniatures, subscribe to Tangible Day here on WordPress for painting tips.  Finally, the most recent thing I did was to at last start playing around in Hero Forge, and I’ve gone nuts.  As of this writing, I have 56 different designs in my collection.

Hive print community

This is a screenshot of the 3D printing community on Hive, which I took immediately after posting the results of my first miniature batch with grey resin.  I had used grey resin only once before to make a wine bottle drip collar, one of two “everyday objects” that I’ve printed and shared on Hive, the other being a hair dryer comb attachment.  I will be posting the results of other experiments to this community on Hive, so that I can share printing tips with others.  Granted, most of the community members are FDM users, and the information I have to offer is considerably more niche.  However, just like FDM printers a few years ago, LFS printers are coming down in price.  I still have my heart set on getting a selective laser sintering (SLS) machine eventually, and while there are many small-scale options available, none of them are affordable.  There is some speculation that SLS will never become mainstream the way that FDM has, but every article I’ve read explaining why sounds just like IBM when they explained why there is a world market for “about three computers.”  They said the same thing about laser printers, by the way, and they are quickly eclipsing inkjet printers in popularity.  Besides, no-one saw SLA becoming mainstream via LFS, yet I was kicking myself when I saw the price of the Anycubic Photon S compared to the machine that I got (I made myself feel better when I reminded myself that I got the Form 3 so that I could print castable wax and make my own metal jewellery).  On a slight tangent, as I’ve been into both miniature modelling and precision machining since I was a kid, I’ve been getting the Micro-Mark catalogue in the mail for nearly fifteen years.  I remember my eyes bugging out when they started listing FDM printers, and I almost screamed when I saw the Anycubic listed there as well.  Granted, Micro-Mark still supplies a niche market, but the fact that 3D printing went from an obscure curiosity mentioned once a year in periodicals at best (I first learned about 3D printing, specifically SLA, from a children’s magasine called Explore, which is long out of print and not to be confused with the Canadian adventure publication of the same name), to having affordable desktop machines listed in mail-order catalogues just within my lifetime is impressive indeed.  The only technology that has moved faster has been social media, and that’s not nearly as interesting (unless you’re a synth like Zuckerborg and you want to gather as much data about the human race as possible).

All joking aside, I see the rise of 3D printing itself, and the diversification of processes that ordinary people have access to, as a great way to move toward proliferating self-sufficiency and sustainability.  I’d still like to see a lot more, and my personal goal is to diversify my own capabilities and provide instructional materials along the way, which is the main reason that I’m starting to post more than just pictures of 3D printed models themselves.  My latest BitChute video, for instance, shows the relatively simple process of cleaning out the Formlabs wash unit.  Future videos will show mould-making and casting.  But enough of me talking about what I do (bloody hell, I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “I” this many times in a single article before).  What do you think?  If you were never interested in 3D printing before, are you now?  If you thought 3D printing was all about plastic filament, are you surprised that another process is affordable enough for hobbyists?  Are you interested in discovering new things that you can do with this technology?  If you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions, then come join more of us on Hive.  If the blockchain network confuses you, fear not – the Hive Pope is there to help, as are we all.

 

Organising Shop Inventory and Expanding Capabilities

As my inventory of wargaming miniatures keeps expanding, I find that I can no longer store them all in my little tackle box that I also keep my modelling tools in.  From now on, therefore, I’ll be keeping only single samples of each variant that I have, and all of my other inventory will be in a shelf drawer organiser.  I dug this out of a dusty corner in my machine shop, cleaned it off, and started filling it with my miniature inventory.

DSC_0030

As you can see, I’ve already started labelling it.  I may end up consolidating some of the inventory.  As it is, I’m keeping multiple variants of both the KV-1 and KV-2 in the same drawer, mostly because they are easy to tell apart at a glance.  Something like the IS-3 and IS-3M, on the other hand, not so much.  These drawers also have enough room to fit ships in…

DSC_0031

…as you can see.  I started putting these things into storage as I was running another print job, sitting in my usual spot:

DSC_0028

As I clean up models and put them into inventory, I’ll simply open up a drawer and put them out of the way.  When I’m all done, the little cart gets moved to the side, like so:

DSC_0026

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That little black box with the orange label, by the way, is a paint shaker.  I use it for more than just paint, though I should be using it a lot more for its intended purpose in the near future.

And now for something completely different: I’m getting a vacuum forming press!  Though I may end up using for packaging, among other things, I originally ordered it because of an unrelated job that I’m working on for a client (again, you know who you are).  This will be one more manufacturing process that I can add to my custom work page, and with any luck (i.e. with my client’s permission), I’ll be able to share the process of setting it up and using it with the special forms I designed for that job.  Otherwise, I’ll have to dream up something else to use as a demonstration.  Either way, if this sort of thing interests you, please subscribe to my BitChute channel, since I’ll have many more 3d printing and DIY videos in the near future, along with some more metalworking.