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.

Random Thoughts, Collection 9: Love is the Root of All Conflict

If you wish to avoid conflict, never attempt to damage, defraud, defame, debunk, or deprive a person of that which they hold most dear. Sadly, when two individuals have inherently conflicting desires, conflict is inevitable.

Before I get into this, I must explain what I mean by “love.” The Ancient Greeks had several words for love, specifically, eros, agapé, filia, and sturgé. It is the first of these to which I am referring, partly because it is that which I am most familiar. In addition to being the best known, with the god Eros named for it, the Greek predecessor of Cupid, it is one of only two I have actually experienced (the other being sturgé), and I have dealt with it a great deal more than the other. To lay my proverbial cards on the table (something I always try to do as early as possible, to clear away any misconceptions), I have never been “in love,” unless you count the metaphorical one-way street colloquially known as the “crush.” I have been on both sides of plenty of those, to the point where I can definitely say that I adhere to the female stereotype of “women lust after what they cannot get and hate what’s offered on a plate.” This, by the way, is one of the many contributing factors to an untreated mental illness that I suffer from called gender dysphoria, but that’s a rant for another time.

Eros is not simply a romantic infatuation, it is a powerful obsession, not necessarily directed toward another person. One can be obsessed with an object (men and their cars, for instance), or an idea. A narcissist, for instance, is obsessed with one’s own image, if not in the literal sense as Narcissus was in the old myth, then in the abstract sense, as those who have a habit of moral grand-standing (“virtue signalling” in the modern vernacular). It is this obsession that explains the apparent paradox that narcissists have very high opinions of themselves, yet appear so insecure; it is not that they are thin-skinned, per se, but compulsively defensive. For the same reason one should not insult someone’s lover, one should not insult a narcissist if one wishes to avoid conflict.

There are many common obsessions that are well-documented, and they produce easily observable activity in the brain. Studies have repeatedly shown that the same areas of the brain are active when an individual is consuming drugs, engaging in sexual intercourse, having a spiritual experience, or seeing their content go viral on social media. In every single case, this positive feedback is a large influx of dopamine. Deprive any individual of their favourite substance, sexual partner, religion, or social media account, and the result will be the same – the tell-tale symptoms of withdrawal. The same is true of those who are in love with an idea, i.e. ideologues.

You may have seen me use the phrase “ideological method” in the past. The ideological method is a system of apologetics designed to support an idea that cannot stand on its own merit; it is, in essence, the opposite of the scientific method. At a time when the greatest opponent to science was Christianity, these apologetics were known as the “creationist method,” though the same exact types of fallacious arguments can be used to support nearly any ideology that comes into conflict with science. Calling such apologetics “creationist” is to ignore every conflict between ideology and science other than creationism versus the Theory of Evolution. All ideologues do exactly as creationists do: they start with a conclusion, then look for evidence that supports it, twisting, dismissing, or outright ignoring any data that is inconvenient to their idea. This is the logical fallacy known as cherry-picking, or as I like to call it, “painting bulls-eyes around arrows.” Though it may be the bedrock of the ideological method, it is not the only logical fallacy that the ideological method uses; all of them are employed at one stage of debate or another, usually ending with ad hominem fallacies and even attacks, as a quote commonly attributed to Socrates goes, “when the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

It is quite common for ideologues to be narcissists, as narcissists are usually obsessed with always being right. To use the scientific method is to accept the possibility that you may be wrong, and may have to change your mind; your own idea may prove to be inferior to someone else’s. To use the ideological method, on the other hand, is to never have to admit to any failings, and to trivialise or simply ignore any mistakes. I would posit that narcissists only ever admit to the tiniest of mistakes for the purpose of feigning humility. The self-flagellation, both literal and metaphorical, that religious zealots frequently engage in, is the reason that religion is sometimes said to be “arrogance masquerading as humility.” To this, I say “there is no greater hypocrisy than to gloat about being humble.” I have, believe it or not, met someone who once boasted to me that he was “very talented and humble.” Such praise, of course, doesn’t work unless it comes from someone else.

On rare occasion, ideologues will find themselves faced with overwhelming evidence that their ideology is completely wrong. This frequently occurs after many attempts to defend it, as failure is virtually inevitable. Like a pair of lovers who keep trying to make their relationship work, despite overwhelming evidence that they are completely incompatible (usually this is a one-way street, rather than a mutual effort), a crisis occurs, and the feeling of infatuation transmogrifies into animosity with remarkable speed. The best ideological example I can think of is the crisis experienced by nearly every YouTube atheist. I have noticed that, with only one or two exceptions, atheist YouTubers were all religious at one point, and the more religious they were in the past, the more anti-religious they are at present, with the two most extreme being a former Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness. In other words, while they may have abandoned their religion, they have not abandoned their religious thinking. Sadly, it is because such vitriolic YouTube personalities are the public face of atheism that many Christians see atheism as a religion itself. It is also for this very reason that I tend to get along with Christians far better than with my fellow atheists; it is a similar sentiment to the reason I mentioned in a previous post about getting along better with conservatives than with fellow “liberals,” most of whom aren’t actually liberal.

It is, perhaps, a roundabout way of returning to the topic of people as the objects of obsession, rather than ideas, but I should mention that one need not experience a romantic attraction toward an individual in order to see that person as “perfect” in one sense or another. Ideologues, quite frequently, consider the founder of their ideology to be infallible. For the religious zealot, that individual is a prophet and/or a deity. For the secular ideologue, that individual is usually the philosopher credited with creating the movement that the ideologue in question is part of. Yet, this worship of another person is not limited to someone in a perceived state of superiority to the individual afflicted with the obsession. Child worship, after all, is a rather similar form of obsession. Once again, there is a great overlap with narcissism in such cases, as narcissistic parents consider their children to be just as infallible as they are (flawed offspring means a flawed progenitor, after all), and their parenting methods to be perfect. This, unfortunately, requires total compliance on the part of the children, as any child who does not act exactly as the narcissistic parent desires cannot be perfect. Children are thus reduced to dolls, playthings for the amusement of the parents, rather than independent individuals to be nurtured into discovering their own character and lot in life. To the parent, the child’s only value is that of pleasing and validating the parent; the child’s true happiness is of no concern, though it can be used as an emotional cudgel to brow-beat children who are defiant in any way. Children who are raised in such an abusive manner usually end up emotionally stunted.

About two weeks has passed since I wrote everything up to this point. Since that time, I have actually shared a portion of this writing on Hive, and begun a rather deep dive into this topic. What I have learned thus far has been rather interesting, yet now I find myself having to come up for air and returning to my usual work, as it were. I have finished all the components for the airship Iron Rose, and have assembled an early version, representing the original configuration of the ship. I intend to assemble the modern configuration, as it appears at the time of The Nine Empires, in a video similar to the construction video of the Zaphnora that I made a year and a fortnight ago. I had that all ready to go last night, but my recording anxiety got hold of me, as usual, and rather than recording it at about 21:00 and then going to bed, probably about an hour later, I found myself staying up until 2:00 working on translating one of my old articles about steampunk airships into Russian, a task made rather tedious by a number of different factors (and I’m not even done yet). So, why bring this up in an article about narcissism? Well, I may find my endeavour to make the video in question delayed indefinitely, given that, when one lives with a narcissist, taking care of their vacuous needs must be a priority for a tranquil existence, however soul-crushing that tranquility may be. I wish I didn’t, considering that my work-in-progress was rather well-liked, and I’ve already left the Hive hanging for long enough.

Regarding what I have learned, on the other hand, it is important to return to the subject of the ideologue and the notion that an idea can be infallible. I must clarify that, in this context, the term “ideologue” has a much more specific meaning here than usual. Not all who employ the ideological method are ideologues. Most, in fact, have been deceived into believing and defending a bad idea for one reason or another; these are the midwits, narcissistic individuals with an I.Q. somewhere between 110 and 125 (mine is 155, if anyone is curious) who seem to think that they know everything, and yet have no ideas of their own. Midwits are the well-behaved, straight-A students (not that I’m denigrating academic excellence, I had a 4.0 GPA in college) that are able to memorise and regurgitate all the “correct” answers. For those of us who were home-schooled for academic reasons, we like to call such teacher-pleasers “pleasantly gifted.” Midwits are those who can be duped into not only believing a dumb idea, but also into performing admittedly impressive mental gymnastics to defend it. True ideologues, on the other hand, are the ones who propagate and, sometimes, even invent the bad idea to begin with, in either case because they stand to benefit in some way from it. Everything that I have said throughout this article definitely applies to true ideologues, though much of it applies to midwits as well. To reiterate, not all who use the ideological method are ideologues, just as not all who use the scientific method are scientists.

At some point in the near future, I’m going to resume writing opinion pieces. However, in the interest of keeping both my word and the sanctity of this particular blog, I’m going to start yet another blog and post my opinion pieces there. My tactics, however, are going to be vastly different, as I’m no longer interested in trying to appear neutral in the name of persuading other people to calm their tits and examine a nuanced position. I’m doing it already, but my new tactic will be to lay on thick sarcasm in the hope of making all the ideologues and midwits alike look as foolish as possible. At this point, I no longer care about winning hearts and minds, because a narcissist’s heart belongs only to themself. If “peace was never an option,” as the midwits who defend the current Great Authoritarian Grift (GAG) like to say, then unrestricted verbal evisceration shall commence, and perhaps some will find my cathartic criticism to be entertaining.

I find myself at a loss as to how I should conclude this. I have been mulling this idea over in my head for a few days now. Were it not a month ago (as I’m writing the original portion of the article, not necessarily publishing it), I could have made it a “melancholy Valentine’s Day musing.” Then again, my nonexistent love life, which I find myself lamenting with frustratingly increasing frequency (poll: should Kaja sign up for online dating?), is not what inspired this article in the first place. Seriously, I don’t want to have such feelings; for those of us who don’t want children, there is no logical reason to desire a romantic relationship. On the other hand, I’m extremely lonely, and I want a life other than constantly bouncing back and forth between my parents and taking care of them forever, which is my only other option, seeing as they’ve succeeded in cultivating a co-dependent relationship, such that I remain financially shackled. Perhaps, if I enjoyed taking care of them, I wouldn’t mind, but my adoptive mother is a textbook example of an abusive parent (to a lesser extent, an abusive spouse as well), so her company is simply loads of fun, and there is nothing I enjoy more than being her personal chef, landscaper, and pull-string toy, all while listening to her piss and moan about how she’s been oh-so-put-upon since childhood for the millionth time. There is nothing more pathetic than a bitch who can’t move on.

No, I wasn’t drunk when I wrote any of this.

The Order of the Iron Rose

Continuing the conversation that began aboard the airship Zaphnora, Rubina Karamazova segues into discussing secret societies.

“What can you tell me about the Order of the Iron Rose?” Rubina asked smugly, perhaps hoping to find something that Kveta didn’t know. “Permit me to answer your question with another question,” Kveta seemed entirely nonplussed, “what do you already know about the order?” “There was a short entry in a book titled The Incomplete History of Secret Societies, along with one about your own organisiation. It’s supposedly named after the famous airship, but it’s also been around for centuries. I think the airship is a red herring.”

“The Iron Rose is no red herring,” Kveta replied, “it is, in fact, their headquarters. As you know, the airship was built 66 cycles, or ten full years ago, but the order is far older than that. Prior to calling themselves the Stalwart Order of the Iron Rose, its members called themselves Sentinels of the Sacred Relics.” Rubina’s eyes widened. “Judging by the expression on your face,” Kveta continued, “I imagine you can guess what their purpose was.” “They carry knowledge of the lost relics of the Rhûnnish Empire…” Rubina turned and stared off in the distance. “They do not,” Kveta snapped, “they carry the relics themselves. When the Rhûnnish Empire fell, Fëdor Karamazov and Nikolai Votavko both chose to dissolve the Imperial Inquisition, rather than preserve the remnants of the organisation that still existed within their territories. Shortly thereafter, the remaining inquisitors and the relics disappeared simultaneously.” “You think that the Sentinels were the former inquisitors?” Rubina inquired, rather enthusiastically. “I do, given the suspicious timing. However, that’s not really pertinent to the current whereabouts of the relics. That is where the Iron Rose comes in. The order used to be one of the best-kept secrets on Rossbera, until imperial expansion began. There are reliquaries all over the continent, outside of the Rhûnnish lands. I know the precise location of one of them, and I know the vague location of a few others. I know that there were a few located in what is now Taressim, but since the Taressimians are not exactly keen on sharing their activities with the outside world, I have no way of knowing if they’ve raided any reliquaries, much less if they’ve recovered anything. Sondor, on the other hand, is considerably more open about such notable events. Around the time that I hatched, the Sondorian government raided one of the order’s reliquaries, but found nothing of value.” “Perhaps the Sondorians simply didn’t want to return the relic, and kept it for themselves,” Rubina interrupted. “That would have been a diplomatic disaster, though I can see why you might think that,” Kveta continued, “no, I think the order maintains the old reliquaries as divisive distractions, hoping that unfounded accusations of relic-hoarding will fly from Skharnograd and, until your mother conquered it, Krivs as well, thus keeping the Rhûnnish lands isolated. It is part of a three-century-old international conspiracy that is finally starting to unravel.” “The Iron Rose isn’t just the headquarters then,” Rubina at last realised, “it’s their flying reliquary! They would have better off calling themselves the Bloody Magpies, the thieving bastards!”

Rubina knew of what conspiracy Kveta spoke of. Efforts were made by powerful families all over Rossbera to prevent the Rhûnnish Empire from ever rising again after it split in two. Up until the Tsarina made a bold move by attacking Krivs and sending the Votavko family into exile, that conspiracy succeeded. Still, the Rhûnnish people remained divided. It would take a great symbolic gesture, such as the return of the lost relics, to give them hope of a bright future and finally fight together against the outside powers that sought to interfere. What Rubina never knew was how deep this conspiracy ran, to include former Rhûnnish inquisitors, or why they would betray their own country.

“All grand plans eventually fail,” Kveta posited, “by which I mean that Rhûnnish re-unification was, more or less, inevitable. The question was simply a matter of who presided over that process to ensure a smooth transition, which is precisely why I chose you, Rubina.” “Thank you, Kveta. I just have one question: why is the rest of Rossbera so hell-bent on making sure that Rhûn never rises again?” “It’s actually quite simple,” Kveta explained, “fear makes people do terrible things, and powerful families all over Rossbera lived in fear of the Rhûnnish Empire. Every empire has a life cycle, and that cycle is usually complete after three centuries, with the final stage being one of decadence, degeneracy, and decay. The Rhûnnish Empire lasted for five centuries, with no noticeable decline, much less an end, in sight. It simply kept rising, conquering more and more territory, never losing ground. Those royal families who relinquished their crowns and submitted to the rule of the Skharnovs found themselves embroiled in notoriously vicious Rhûnnish politics, unable to simply sit back, as the Skharnovs would regularly purge members of the nobility that they thought had grown too complacent. As such, they kept that stage of decadence at bay for five centuries, and the empire only grew more powerful, terrifying every other sovereign on the continent. When the Skharnovs finally died off and Jenůfa Nószimål disappeared, all the other rival powers saw a moment of weakness and descended upon the Rhûnnish Empire like a flock of vultures. Now, we find ourselves in the exact same situation, only in reverse. Should the Rhûnnish Empire re-unite under your rule, then you could re-shape the empire as a bastion of peace, rather than a military juggernaut. There is another faction that seeks to re-unite all the Rhûnnish lands as well, but if they manage to seize power, then all of Rossbera would burn.” “The communists,” Rubina replied with a sense of dread.

When Kaia Blackwing informed Adya Redmane about the previous conversation, several chapters later in the same book, Adya’s reply was a rather cynical “and she bought that?!”

“She knows you’re trying to start a war, why would she swallow than line?” “Oh, that’s easy,” Kaia explained, “she knows that I’m no friend to the communists, in fact, they hate my kind a lot more than they hate hers.” “Explaaaaaaiiin!” “Social collectivists, communists very much included, think entirely in terms of power dynamics. There are two types of power players: conquerors and dynastic heirs. I am the former, Rubina is the latter. Furthermore, you may have noticed that communists in particular love to whinge about ‘capitalist pigs’ all the time, which is a label one could definitely apply to me, but not to Rubina, seeing as she inherited all her wealth and doesn’t own any ‘means of production,’ another term they like to throw around a lot.” “Soooooo,” Adya posited, “you managed to win over the new Tsarina with a verbose example of a ‘common enemy unites even the oldest of foes’ adage. So then, do you plan to hand over the Iron Rose on a silver platter as well?” “I may not have to.” Adya raised an eyebrow as Kaia continued. “Alya Goldfeather approached me when I was last at the Tower of the Eyes, asking if he could borrow the Zaphnora for that very task. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that he couldn’t. Not only was my ship in no fit state at the time, but a black trireme would be overkill for going after a dirigible, even one that large. If either he or the Tsarina pushes the issue, however, I’ll send the White Spider after the Iron Rose.” “How poetic, the spider and the rose. It would be even better if we had the spider defend the rose and eating a bird.” “Well, Rubina thinks that the members of the order would have been better off calling themselves the Bloody Magpies, so you may be on to something there.”

Alya Goldfeather is a character that I came up with very recently, and neither he nor the Iron Rose are mentioned anywhere in my outline. As it is, there are many changes that I need to make to my outline to include new plot threads. Speaking of which, I don’t normally make outlines before writing a story (or anything else for that matter), but this story is such a massive undertaking that the outline alone is 40 pages long and contains almost 24 000 words. What follows is a conversation between Kaia and Alya, and I have no idea where it will show up, but I suspect that it will be later in the same book as the previous conversations.

“Of what interest to you is the Iron Rose, anyway?” Kaia knew that Alya had no desire to involve himself with Alexandrian politics, so what possible reason would he have to seize such an airship, knowing what was on it? “There are certain items,” Alya began, “that may prove of great use to my work.” Kaia raised an eyebrow. “The inquisitors had eyes everywhere,” Alya continued, “and some of the relics currently in the order’s possession were stolen from from Rin Baigal itself. As you can probably imagine, these were items containing neticine, and mentioned in Veyra’s notes from researching the great green crystal. Some of these items, such as the gamma star, I can replicate myself, but others are not documented sufficiently for me to be able to manufacture my own. Recovering them is of paramount importance to me. By the way, would you like to know what those strange protrusions on the Iron Rose are?” “Docking arms,” Kaia replied. “How did you know?” “A report from the White Spider,” Kaia explained, “indicated a smaller airship docking with the Iron Rose as the spider retreated.” “Retreated,” Alya jeered, “I thought you said that a gunboat would be enough to handle any dirigible…” “No need to gloat, Alya, I never once claimed to be infallible.” “So then,” Alya continued a bit more sheepishly, “will you let me…” Kaia cut him off. “You are still not borrowing the Zaphnora! Still, you may not have to.” Kaia pulled a piece of paper from a basket on her desk – a telegram she had received earlier that day. “It seems that you have caught the attention of a kindred spirit – another Goldfeather, Urya, inventor of the glossarion levitator – who has decided to re-fit the Pherazmil for the express purpose of towing a less-than-cooperative vessel and to send it here.” Kaia handed the telegram to Alya. “If I may ask,” Kaia continued while Alya was reading, “what else do you know about the Iron Rose?” “The docking arms,” Alya explained, “are for mid-air docking of smaller airships belonging to the order, as you know, of which there are five: the White Rose, Yellow Rose, Red Rose, Blue Rose, and Black Rose. They act as supply ships, bringing food, replacement crew members, fuel, and even airship parts. The order has perfected this mid-air supply system to the point where the Iron Rose may never have to land again. In exchange, each chapter uses its airship to transport individual relics back to its temple to pursue its own rituals. Also, the Iron Rose is actually a carrack, not a dirigible.” “And how, pray tell, did you discover all this?” “I may have infiltrated one of their chapters…” “So that’s why you borrowed my anthology of hermetic philosophy. Just be careful that you aren’t exposed before this little operation of yours,” Kaia warned. “Whatever do you mean?” “If the order practises either blood magic or sex magic, well…” Alya raised an eyebrow. “I think you know where I’m going with this.” “Neither blood magic nor sex magic are real, Kaia.” “The mammals don’t know that. You should see what sort of nonsense they call ‘occult.'”

The Iron Rose will eventually make an appearance, but while I have a vague idea of what the airship is meant to look like, I haven’t made any sketches yet, much less have I started on the model. Perhaps, depending on when I get to it and how complicated it is, the rendering and/or assembly process will show up in a BitChute video.

I Make Jewellery!

It’s official, I can now make jewellery. After some experiments with investment casting in tin, I moved on to bronze, just to see what it’s like. While the results of the first casting run in bronze could have been better, I know exactly what I need to do for future runs to improve metal flow and get better castings. If you are curious about the technical details of this process, keep reading. Much of this article repeats what I had written in my introductory foundry post, but there are proper conclusions this time.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/TSdaoUilhdQE/

My original intent was to make a video showing off the process of making some miniature pewter chalices, but the first few casting runs in lead-free crown pewter (an alloy which is mostly tin) were disasters. The first time, I made the mistake of using pure plaster for the mould, since plaster is cheap and easy to find. I’ve seen the effects of heat on plaster, so I expected there to be cracks running through the mould; I didn’t expect the plaster to crack to the point of having molten metal going straight through and getting all over the place. Cleaning that up was something of a chore. As I have since been informed, a 1:1:1 mix of plaster, diatomaceous earth, and water is best for diy investment mixtures. After my disastrous first experiment (no injuries, luckily), I decided to wait until getting a delivery of Ransom & Randolph Plasticast before proceeding with the next experiment.

The first run using proper investment didn’t turn out so well, but at least it provided some valuable information. To begin, you know how you can trap air inside a cup if you plunge it upside-down into any liquid? Well, given the orientation of the chalices on my part tree, that was, more or less, unavoidable.

I attempted to alleviate this problem by tilting and rotating the part tree as I lowered it into the liquid investment, but to no avail; I failed to release the trapped air bubbles, as I discovered after pulling the casting out.

There were also lots of little beads all over the surface of the castings, indicating smaller bubbles throughout the liquid investment, creating voids in the mould. This was easily fixed by increasing the de-gassing time from one minute to eight (giving me a full minute to pour the liquid investment into the flask). However, that wasn’t the only fix that needed to be made. You may have noticed that the tiny cups weren’t the only items I attempted to cast; the fifth item, and first on the part tree, is a pattern for a zipper pull that I designed many years ago, and I had two printed at Shapeways, one cast in sterling silver, and the other printed directly in aluminium via SLS. When I attempted to make a third (I’d like to have one for every quarter-zip jumper that I own) myself, however, it acted like a slag trap, and the main body looked absolutely horrid.

Therefore, I made it a point for future part trees to always have a slag trap directly below the pouring cone, though I already had another part tree made, and I didn’t feel like taking it apart. For the next casting run, in which I attempted to make another cup along with a mushroom that I found on Thingiverse back when I was still a novice playing around with FDM printers. This is when I made another critical error, purely out of laxity (fancy synonym for laziness). My kiln is non-programmable, so in order to properly ramp up the temperature in accordance with the burnout schedule for Formlabs castable wax resin, I have to babysit the kiln for hours at a time, increasing the temperature by 40 degrees every ten minutes for the first ramp, then by 36 degrees every ten minutes for the second ramp. When I tried to make the mushroom, I said “screw this,” set the kiln to 700 degrees, left it for two hours, then came back, increased the temperature to 1350 (all these temperatures are in Farenheit, by the way, since that’s the scale used on my kiln), and left it for another two hours before turning it down to 300, and making sure to hold it for about an hour after I saw that the internal temperature had, indeed, reached 300 degrees. As I had feared, the mould had cracked, though not as severely as the pure plaster mould (which I ramped properly, for the record), and I got flash on my castings.

Flash is perfectly normal for moulds with seams, such as two-piece sand moulds or steel dies. However, this isn’t supposed to occur with investment casting. Furthermore, the mushroom came out in two pieces, one of which was an unrecognisable lump with much of it missing. Right then, the burnout cycle is definitely not a corner I can afford to cut! It was some time before I could make another mould then, since I needed to two two-hour periods free in order to manually ramp the kiln. When I finally did, I chose a far better design for the part tree, incorporating a slag trap, as I had printed a batch of five.

I didn’t intend for the cups to tilt, that’s just what ended up happening, thanks to my not-so-steady hands, which I’m trying to fix by practising miniature painting. Regardless, this time, the casting came out quite well; the slag trap worked exactly as intended, and the main sprue below was quite clean.

There is still room for improvement, as I noticed a few beads, indicative of voids in the mould. There were also some voids in the cups themselves, though I suspect that’s simply because the walls are so thin, and tin does some weird things anyway. Perhaps, one day, I’ll perfect this process to the point where I could make miniature chalices that are worthy of selling as dollhouse accessories on Etsy. In the mean time, the result of this particular casting run was satisfactory, so I moved on to bronze. I used an earlier part tree that was lacking a slag trap, so there were some problems with the casting, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I know exactly how to fix the problems that I had.

I ended up having to bend the branches of this part tree in order to fit it into the flask, as you can see in the video. One of the rings did not fully form, and what I pulled from the quenching bucket the morning after casting indicated to me that the sprue became blocked in the middle of the pour, so that particular mould cavity didn’t fill completely. No matter, I managed to get two halfway decent rings out of this casting run. The next time I do this, who knows when, I’ll try a better part tree design with a wider variety of shapes and sizes. If I can get some stones, I’ll be able to complete the two rings that I have now, though finishing the setting is going to be much tougher with bronze than with gold, since the latter is quite soft, but the former is tougher than mild steel. In the mean time, I need ideas; there isn’t a lot of demand for alto clefs and stars of chaos, after all. Perhaps it’s time to revive the Cooperative Artisan’s Guild, as I’ve seen some rather impressive jewellery designs that have never been brought to life. I could fix that; after all, I can do this:

Let me know what you think – especially you, Corinne, if you read this. I hope you find both this post and my video to be informative.

Social Conservatism Defined and in Context

This is not an opinion piece, but as with my last post in that category, I have nowhere else to put it for now. This is merely a set of observations that I have made, and hopefully will serve as a long-overdue explanation of what I mean when I say something along the lines of “I am fiscally conservative, but I am by no means socially conservative.” Incidentally, if the title of this article sounds at all familiar, that is because there exists a book titled Defining Conservatism, which has been disavowed by its own author, and if you are familiar with it, please forget about it for a moment, because it is much narrower in scope than the article you are about to read.

Social conservatism exists at two levels: at the individual level, and at the societal level. Let us first examine what it means to be a socially conservative individual. A social conservative is one who adheres to long-standing social traditions, conforming to social norms as dictated by some authority, rather than one’s peers. It is a common practise of socially conservative parents to tell their children not to give in to peer pressure. Social conservatism at the individual level is entirely about conformity and nothing else. How social conservatism appears varies wildly according to the culture that one examines; a socially conservative Arab, for instance, looks and acts very differently from a socially conservative American.

A socially conservative society has far less innocuous ramifications, though that may not become clear until I define social liberalism for the sake of contrast. A socially conservative society is one in which traditional social norms are enforced, by legal means or otherwise, and social non-conformists are treated as pariahs. In order to maintain a reasonably comfortable existence in such a society, individuals who would not otherwise choose to be socially conservative must wear the trappings of conservatism. To reiterate, social conservatism is entirely about conformity and nothing else.

A social liberal is not the opposite of a social conservative, at least not at the individual level. A social liberal is someone who accepts non-conformists, even if that person chooses to conform to social norms themself. Paradoxically, it is therefore possible to be a social liberal and a social conservative at the same time. A socially liberal society, by extension, is one that does not enforce social norms. In such societies, non-conformists are considerably more visible, as they have most of the same opportunities open to them as conformists. In a socially liberal society, conformists and non-conformists accept each other for their personal choices. However, should new social norms, as dictated by peer pressure, cause conflict between the conformists and non-conformists, the result may be either a reactionary movement by social conservatives, a rise of social degeneracy, or both.

Social degeneracy is social conservatism flipped upside down. A socially degenerate individual is one who rejects conformity for no reason other than spite. A socially degenerate society is one in which those who conform to old social norms are the outcasts, while only non-conformists are accepted. Social degeneracy at the societal level is the first stage of a paradigm shift, as old traditions are eventually replaced with new ones, and subsequent generations end up becoming social conservatives within the context of the new social paradigm. Cultural paradigm shifts like this are not inherently good or bad, only individual behaviours can be evaluated as such. Individuals who support the cultural paradigm shift are called progressives, and it is not uncommon for them to see social conservatives as being an “obstacle to progress.” To put this into simpler terms, progressives are not liberals; social liberals accept the existence of social conservatives, whereas progressives do not.

In the context of most western nations, a social conservative, according to 20th century social norms, is a Christian, a nationalist, and a heterosexual who dresses in only in the prescribed fashion and practises traditional gender roles. For the first half of the century, western society was conservative, as both American and European countries had strong cultural pressure to conform. Beginning in the late 1950s in Europe and the late 1960s in America, society began to become much more liberal in nature. Eschewing the unofficial dress codes became much more acceptable, and society at large started to care less what people looked like. Though there were still plenty of people who adhered to old social traditions, it was entirely a matter of personal choice, rather than a societal ultimatum to conform or live as an outcast. What we are seeing now, however, is that individuals who adhere to the 20th century socially conservative ideal are being dismissed as “backward,” regardless of whether or not those individuals accept non-conformists or not. Whether or not a paradigm shift is actually occurring remains to be seen, as this divisive attitude is not universal among social non-conformists.

Most of my audience, at least on this blog, is in the United States, and is therefore probably aware that the country is not culturally monolithic. Whether the predominant culture is conservative, liberal, or degenerate depends on where you look. Some states are largely conservative, some are liberal, while social degeneracy is limited to a few major cities. To an extent, this cultural division is reflected in every western nation, though perhaps not to the same degree. Furthermore, depending on what cultural norms already exist, what appears to be “conservative,” or “degenerate” will vary, and this may result in two cultures being incompatible (e.g. fundamentalist Muslims in England and France), and I won’t go into this any further, as I’m trying to remain as neutral as possible in this particular article.

To conclude, I shall revisit the paradox of the socially conservative social liberal. Any individual who accepts non-conformity within society is a social liberal. Any individual who does not themselves deviate from social norms is a social conservative. I am the former, but I am not the latter. Anyone who has ever met me knows that, as it is rather apparent from my fashion sense alone. While I don’t choose to adhere to socially conservative norms, I have no issue with those who do, and therefore I’m no progressive. Curiously, I tend to get along much better with social conservatives, as most social non-conformists that I’ve met are progressives, rather than liberals.

Miniature Foundry

Well, it took long enough, but my miniature foundry is finally up and running. What this means is that I am finally able to turn digital models into metal objects using a combination of 3D printing and investment casting.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/FiGKl0VjXzoR/

There are means to fabricate metal objects via 3D printing directly, such as my personal favourite process, selective laser sintering (SLS). However, metal 3D printing equipment is a bit beyond my budget at the moment, so I’m using a much more conventional process, which is to print patterns in castable wax resin and make moulds from them. As I’m typing this, I’m taking a break from working on these moulds to make my monthly updates. I’m working on three more videos that document the entire process of printing, mould preparation, and casting. Complete post-processing of the metal castings will also be included in the event that I like the way the castings come out. For those of you who enjoy seeing this type of work, I recommend that you follow me on Hive if you haven’t already. I have shared some more extensive documentation of the setup process and first casting runs there. To make a long story short, however, I have made some wax part trees and tested out one of them using tin.

This first casting run didn’t come out the way I would have liked, as I failed to free the trapped air bubbles inside the cups, despite my efforts. There were also plenty of little bubbles left in the mould itself, which means that the investment wasn’t thoroughly de-gassed. Next run, I’ll leave it in my improvised vacuum chamber (a bucket attached to a pump) for longer, and see what happens. Below is an example of the casting quality that I’m currently getting.

Bear in mind that this cup, cast in lead-free crown pewter, is only 12,7 millimetres in diameter (0,5 inch) at the rim, and 18,3 millimetres tall. I have printed several models of varying complexity in castable wax resin, and I’ll use the simplest of them (such as a mushroom that I found on Thingiverse many years ago) to test and perfect my process before moving on to higher temperature casting. Currently, there is a part tree of three rings prepared, which I intend to cast in bronze:

These rings are all the same size, which I don’t know off the top of my head because my ring size chart is in my machinist’s toolbox. These are pinky rings for me, incidentally. On a somewhat humourous side note, I turned a fake wedding band out of 316L stainless steel, using the lathe in my home shop, and wore it when I was in college – I was there to study, not date, because I’m boring.

Currently, the scale I’m able to work with is quite small. The cups, for instance, should have been horizontally opposed, but there was simply no room in the flask for that, hence the orientation that I actually used. I can’t use a bigger flask, because the burnout kiln I have is tiny (and non-programmable). However, I can melt up to 4 kilograms (8 pounds, 13 ounces) of bronze in my crucible furnace, which can make some rather substantially-sized objects – such as components for model steam engines. Oh, the possibilities!

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 liberal 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 Studio, 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.