The Double-Eagle Dreadnoughts

Rounding out my latest shipbuilding streak is the Mighty Viskar, the second of the Nadezhda-class dreadnoughts to be launched.  In my previous post, I mentioned that there were differences between the Nadezhda itself and the other two ships of the class.  Below you can see a comparison:

Nadezhda and Viskar

Nadezhda is at the top, Mighty Viskar is at the bottom.  You’ll notice that the latter has a smaller central battery, but additional deck guns, as well as numerous guns mounted to the conning tower and rear platform.  This is, as I mentioned before, was a design change necessitated by the appearance of powerful military aircraft.  The eight 152mm cannons mounted on the deck are of the same type equipped to older armoured cruisers, and are quite effective against smaller warships.  Therefore, they were mounted in modified turrets that allow for greater elevation and make them useful as, you guessed it, anti-aircraft guns as well.  Both the deck guns and the battery-mounted guns below deck (all the same calibre, by the way) were effective against torpedo boats as well.  As for the guns mounted on the upper platforms, all were exclusively anti-aircraft 76.2mm cannons.  Both ships, of course, had provision to mount heavy machine guns for the same purpose, but those were useful only against aeroplanes.  The following pictures provide some better views of the ship and the positions of the smaller guns.

Mighty Viskar 1Mighty Viskar 2Mighty Viskar 3

The third and final Nadezhda-class dreadnought was Mighty Viskar‘s twin, Zavoyevatel’.  The former is named after the Rhûnnish Emperor Viskar Skharnov, although it isn’t known whether the first or third of that name, and the latter ship’s name means “conqueror,” and could either be homage to Empress Alexandra Skharnova or a brilliant bit of foreshadowing on the part of Stanislav Karamazov.

I was on a ROLL these past few days, but now I need a break.  I will eventually offer all of the ships I just made for sale in my Shapeways shop, but I want to finish adding details first.  You may have noticed that all of my model ships have a distinct lack of anchors, save for the Pallada-class protected cruiser, which is the only historical steamship I offer as of this writing.  I intend to fix that, and even go back to some of my older models and put those details in as soon as I figure out exactly how I want them to look.  I may also make some lifeboat packs so that anyone who actually cares to buy one of these things can add lifeboats to their heart’s content.


A Glimmer of Hope for a Faltering Navy

As I mentioned in my last post, the Alexandrian Imperial Fleet attempted to bring itself up to par with the rest of the continent by building a dreadnought battleship.  However, while Lord Admiral Stanislav Karamazov hastily ordered the construction of four Monarch-class dreadnoughts, he could not help but see flaws in the design, and immediately set upon improving it.  Besides the “needless” number of turrets, the Monarch-class had little to no provision for other weapons, making the ship extremely vulnerable to torpedo boats if not accompanied by an escort destroyer.  As a result, he decided that the new design must have permanently mounted guns of smaller calibres, capable of faster fire against smaller targets, just as the pre-dreadnought battleships did.  However, at 180 metres long, and displacing 25 000 tonnes, the Nadezhda-class was far larger than any pre-dreadnought.

Below: a Monarch-class dreadnought next to the Nadezhda

Monarch and Nadezhda

In addition to the size and the armament, Stanislav made a few other changes to the design as well, referring to the pre-dreadnoughts in many respects.  For instance, the presence of two masts made the use of signal flags far easier in the event that wireless communications were down.  A few new technologies were integrated into the design as well, such as rangefinders on each of the main turrets.  Another minor change was moving the rudder aft of all four screws, which solved a lot of problems.  Bulmutian ships were known to have one pair of screws before the rudder, one pair aft, and not have any problems because of it.  Then again, a lot of Bulmutian ships also had five-bladed propellers, among other things, at a time when no-one else did.

Thanks to the ship’s increased size and one fewer turret, there was a lot of room in the new design in increase the ship’s power.  This gave Stanislav a glimmer of hope, hence the name; Nadezhda (Надежда) is the Russian word for “hope.”  Naming the very first ship after the class, rather than the other way round, was an afterthought.  In any event, Nadezhda itself was unique, possessing the lower freeboard at the stern like the older Monarch-class, a characteristic that the other two Nadezhda-class dreadnoughts did not share.

Nadezhda 1Nadezhda 2

Above: two more views of the Nadezhda

Below: the Nadezhda in position for a broadside attack

Nadezhda broadside

During trials, Nadezhda attained a top speed of 24 knots, the same speed that the latest armoured cruisers were reported to be capable of.  However, as I mentioned in my previous post, around the same time that this ship was launched, the Karadenian flying galleon was also unleashed.  For this reason, the other two Nadezhda-class dreadnoughts were radically redesigned while still under construction, dispensing with the additional anti-ship weapons in favour of anti-aircraft weapons.  As much as shipbuilders wanted to build battleships that could defend themselves against all types of enemies, the harsh reality was that warships were becoming more and more specialised by necessity.  Gone were the days that battleships were superior in every way to frigates, which were superior in every way to sloops, etc.  To build a ship that could take out both dreadnoughts and torpedo boats was one thing, but to add airships to that mix was another.  Nonetheless, these ships served Alexandria well…


The Monarch of the Sea

I thought that song title appropriate, considering the topic of this post.  This is about the Monarch-class dreadnought of the Alexandrian Imperial Fleet.  This ship was developed in response to, and was essentially a copy of, the Sovereign-class sea dreadnought of Sondor (which I have not yet made of model of – the QAL Angnor that I’ve already shared is an Enforcer-class river dreadnought).  The Monarch-class was also the first dreadnought, or all-big-gun, turbine-powered warship, that the Alexandrian Empire developed.  This was a huge development for the nation, and the Admiralty saw it as a great step in catching up to the other Rossberan empires in terms of naval power.

Below: the Monarch-class dreadnought

Monarch dreadnought 1Monarch dreadnought 2Monarch dreadnought 3Monarch dreadnought close-up

Above: views of the bow, showing the large double-headed eagle that adorns all Alexandrian capital ships

Below: the guns in position for a broadside attackMonarch dreadnought 4

The ship is armed with ten 305mm cannons, and has provision to mount deck guns up to 100mm in calibre, but nothing is permanently installed.  It was this armament that caused concern with the Lord Admiral, Stanislav Karamazov, brother to Tsarina Belëna Karamazova II.  Having previously dispensed with torpedo nets on his ships, Stanislav was looking for any improvement to the Sondorian design that focused on speed.  He noted that, no matter the position of the target, no more than four of the five turrets could fire upon it.  Therefore, one turret could be removed, reducing the ship’s weight, thus improving speed.  So concerned was he with the already obsolete Sondorian design that he set to work designing the Monarch’s successor, the Nadezhda-class, while the four Monarchs were still under construction.

While the three Nadezhda-class dreadnoughts were being laid down, the Monarchs were undergoing their sea trials.  The 160-metre, 20 000-tonne ships were able to sustain speeds of up to 20 knots, and were thus able to keep up with the armoured cruisers and even the lighter protected cruisers in the Imperial Fleet.  For comparison, the preceding Delta-class pre-dreadnought battleships were only 140 metres long, displacing 18 000 tonnes, and could barely manage 18 knots.  This was indeed a leap forward, but as you probably know by this point, the slow burn of the naval arms race was eventually overlooked entirely, thanks to a certain magical levitation device developed in Karaden around the same that the Nadezhda itself was launched.  More on that in my next post.

Citadel at Sea

Ordinarily, I like to avoid spoiling my own story, but I’ve already done it with the demise of one minor character, so here we are once again.

Below are some pictures of my latest model: the Citadel-class battlecruiser.  It’s not available for sale yet, and I will probably add some more details, such as anchors, before it is.

Garthilde 1Garthilde 2Garthilde 1Garthilde 3

This 200-metre, 30 000-tonne ship is armed with a unique armament of twelve 250mm cannons and eight 300mm cannons.  What’s so unique about that?  Take a close look.  Maybe you can’t see it, but every one of these cannons can elevate to nearly vertical, for the express purpose of combating heavily armoured glossarian airships.  The reason for this development began long after the actual story begins, but I’m not sure how much of the following will make into the dialogue that takes place between Grand Duchess Rubina Karamazova and Regent Sigmond Erfindersson of Bulmut.

Though not the most technologically backward of the Nine Empires, Alexandria was widely known to not possess any particularly unique, much less potent weapons, especially when compared to the likes of Taressim and Bulmut.  Upon the development of the flying galleon by the Karadenians and the flying bireme by the Sondorians, all eyes shifted to them when it came to weapons technology, in spite of the fact that Karaden used notoriously outdated surface ship designs *cough cough Selsequenter cough cough,* and Sondor’s military, while as modern as anyone else’s, was mired in political strife at the highest level.  Alexandria, the fractured shadow of the once-mighty Rhûnnish Empire, was getting absolutely no attention until Operation Royal Twins, which is currently slated to take place at the end of the second book.  The use of two flying triremes, the largest and most powerful glossarian airships at the time, to subdue the Drachanian capital of Krivs and plunge the country into complete chaos from whence Alexandria could quickly annex it in fragments one after another, drew a lot of attention, and none of it good.

Up until that point, glossarian airships were built with strong, lightweight (compared to wood) steel frames, but little armour and light guns.  Compared to the galleon and bireme, neither of which outperformed an artillery division in terms of firepower, the trireme seemed like an invincible juggernaut, able to carry guns far too heavy to be fielded by conventional means.  Fearing the worst, the Bulmutian Admiralty ordered the construction of a dedicated anti-airship gun platform to defend key ports, and Regent Sigmond ordered that whatever guns be developed for said gun platform be supplied to the army as well.  What followed was the construction of the first Citadel-class battlecruiser, Garthilde (pronounced “gart-hild“).

While the guns and ammunition were developed to the point where their effectiveness against ship armour was proven, the flying triremes were known to have a top speed of at least 70 knots.  Therefore, special turret rings and high-speed rotary actuators had to be developed so that these obscenely large anti-aircraft guns could hit a moving target.  Tests of the complete turrets at the Mehan Proving Grounds were a resounding success, and the production models were sent to Garthilde‘s fitting out.  Trials were completed six months later, with the gunners practising on balloons towed by aeroplanes at 80 knots.

Six other Citadel-class battlecruisers were under construction at the shipyards in Arnturn when the Karamazov Conflict began.  Loyalist forces immediately laid siege to the port city, and four of the incomplete battlecruisers were damaged.  Garthilde was sent to the northeastern shores, however, to report on the situation in Skharnograd.  The entire loyalist fleet was busy attacking Arnturn, but the remaining two thirds of the Alexandrian fleet, including six of the seven operational dreadnoughts, were under control of the renegade Lord Admiral Stanislav Karamazov.  Skharnograd had exactly one warship in the Grand Delta Harbour, and it was hardly in seaworthy condition.  Although the city’s static defenses were impressive, they were hardly sufficient to hold off a full-scale assault from both land and sea, as the loyalists eventually discovered.  Garthilde, of course, vacated the area as soon as Stanislav’s fleet showed up, continuing to patrol the northern shores until an unidentified flying trireme approached from the north.  Garthilde opened fire, hitting the target five times but not causing any significant damage.  Her magazines were not stocked with armour-piercing ammunition, for the simple reason that no glossarian airship was known to have 150 mm of face-hardened nickel-chromium steel armour (known in our world as Krupp armour).  This one, however, not only shrugged off the attacks but also retaliated by launching two missiles, the first of which took out the bridge, and the second hit the starboard side just below the mizzenmast, blowing a hole clean through the hull.  The magazines exploded one by one, blowing holes in the hull every time.  Garthilde burned to the waterline overnight, and sank the following morning.

Seeing how easily a single airship was able to take out the Garthilde, Regent Sigmond cancelled the entire Citadel class, believing that aeroplanes and interceptor airships would be of far greater use against heavy airships than surface-based heavy cannons.  Though glossarian airships were expensive, they were not quite as expensive as surface ships whose displacement exceeded 20 000 tonnes.  Using only six levitators, the Bulmutian Hornet was a very inexpensive design, and also one of the fastest.  Aeroplanes were cheaper still, and they were proven to be remarkably effective against even dreadnoughts.  There was no reason that they couldn’t take out armoured airships, as well.

And yes, it was the Zaphnora that sank the Garthilde.

Of Web Comics and Silly Worms

This post is going to be rather different from my usual material.  I’m not tagging it with anything, mainly because it is somewhat embarrassing, but mindless regression into childhood is the only panacea that works for me after a particularly bad day (well, that and alcohol).  While perusing Shapeways amidst going through my models, adjusting prices and updating tags, I came across a model of Doctor Phage, a character in the web comic Awful Hospital.  I then spent the next few hours reading the entire series.  This gave me the idea to revive one of my own ridiculous characters, one which I invented as a very young child and I added to all of my absurd fan-fiction comics as a combination of both antagonist and comic relief.  Who was this character?  Now, imagine the voice of Doctor Weird as I say “gentlemen, BEHOLD!”

Tapeworm character

This is Parsi, a sarcastic yet sometimes aggressively polite tapeworm whose mailing address is the belly of a sperm whale, and yet he’s (in my childish fan-fiction) battled Goku and Vegeta in the belly of Majin Buu, taken over the body of an overly emotional teenage robot whose is name is not Marvin the Paranoid Android, eaten the brain of the cyber controller and subsequently taken over the entire cyber legion (I am, of course, referring to Doctor Who here) and even turned cheburashka’s friend, the crocodile, from a quiet, lonely individual into a mad killing machine.  Yes, I was exposed to media from multiple countries as a child, but it did nothing to change the fact that I had a morbid sense of humour.  For crying out loud, my favourite puppet show (if you could really call it a puppet show) was (and still is) Spitting Image, which provoked rolling hills of gut-busting laughter at the expense of nearly every British politician (and a few American ones, as well) in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The show even had a running gag involving Margaret Thatcher replacing John Major’s brain with a computer that constantly malfunctioned.  Hey, I’ve warned you several times before that I’m crazy, therefore it ought to make perfect sense that I watch crazy stuff.

Anyway, the point of all this was to announce that you can now purchase a little model of Parsi the tapeworm in my shop.  I’m even selling a 9-pack of additional body segments so that you can make him as long as you wish.  He’s like a necklace of pop beads with a head and tail.  I may eventually add another head to the shop as well, you know, one that looks like an actual tapeworm head, so that you could pose the worm on your desk and really freak people out.  Otherwise, let people just think he’s a cute snake, but keep him away from Fern and friends.  And Spongebob.  DEFINITELY keep him away from Spongebob, considering he has a friend who’s a whale.

Actually, I lied.  The real point of this post was to let my followers (who are, as of this writing, still in the single digits and, in all likelihood, not that interested) know that I’m still around

Fighting Vehicles of the Nine Empires, Part 4: the Dwarven Battlewagon

Most fantasy worlds are derivatives of John Tolkien’s work, in that the fantasy races are elves, dwarves, humans, goblins, etc.  I did away with all of that, save for the dwarves.  The elves aren’t excluded either, but they are long extinct by the time that The Nine Empires takes place.  Anyway, the dwarves of Varanganska are quite unlike the dwarves of Middle-Earth.  There are two main races of dwarves, the red dwarves and black dwarves.  The former reside on Rossbera and other continents, while the black dwarves remained on their home continent of Khandar and are not relevant until halfway through the series.  Therefore, unless I specify which race I am speaking of, when I use the term “dwarves,” I am referring to the red dwarves.

The Rossberan dwarves largely kept to themselves in their mountain kingdom, which had villages, cities, and castles built into the mountainside with mines going deep into the mountains themselves.  Trade was largely between different dwarven settlements, and there was little or no need to trade with the outside world, as they had a complex system of terrace farming and were thus able to produce their own food.  Dwarves also hunt mountain goats for food, wool, and leather.  Dwarven isolationism continued until Alexandra’s conquest, when she demanded that the dwarves join her growing empire or be taken by force.  King Hurtak told her that she would never be able to take the dwarven strongholds by force, and asserted that the dwarves would remain independent.  However, dwarven strongholds were designed to withstand relatively feeble attempts by the Western Slavs on land, and Northmen from the coast.  Though they possessed the advantage of high ground, they could not withstand the sheer destructive capabilities of Alexandra’s armies.  After one disastrous defeat, King Hurtak surrendered and later abdicated.

For five centuries, the dwarves contributed their knowledge of mining and craftsmanship to the Rhûnnish Empire, making it the dominant industrial power on Rossbera until its final days.  As I mentioned in my posts about the War of Rhûnnish Succession, the dwarves broke away after the empire split in two, and joined Bulmut to the west, supplying them with their trade secrets instead.  It is for this reason that Bulmut is the most technologically advanced of the nine empires of Rossbera (even though it’s not technically an empire).  During this time, the dwarves themselves became much more war-like in culture, as opposed to the tough yet peaceful craftspeople they one were.  They developed and perfected mechanised warfare, and though they did not make the majority of the Bulmutian army in number, they made up the most of its strength.  The backbone of that strength is the dwarven battlewagon, which evolved from an armoured, goat-drawn chariot to the contraption pictured below:

Battlewagons 1Battlewagons 2Battlewagons 3Battlewagons 4Battlewagons 5

Two main versions of this tank were produced: a steam-powered version and a kerosene-powered version.  Neither was better overall, as they had different roles.  The steam-powered version (which is sitting on the right of the kerosene version and has a boiler sticking out the back) was typically used in defensive roles in cities and fortified bases.  It was typically fitted with a fireless boiler, and thus did not produce huge amounts of noxious fumes.  In highly mechanised Bulmutian cities such as Tenlund, the capital, and Arnturn, the largest Rossberan port, every effort was made to reduce the number of devices which needed to burn fuel in order to operate.  They had steam stations as we have petrol stations in order to charge up steam-powered carriages, and, of course, battlewagons.  The steam-powered battlewagons were typically fitted with rubber tracks, as well, in order to minimise damage to the streets.  Meanwhile, the kerosene versions were used on campaigns and the open battlefield.  The kerosene version also has a large hitch at the rear, enabling it to fulfil the role of artillery tractor.

Both versions are armed with a 20mm cannon in the one-dwarf turret.  I say “one-dwarf” instead of “one-man” because female dwarves fought as well.  They weren’t a majority, but there was hardly a combat role that a female dwarf couldn’t fill.  Anyway, enough of that.  The hull gun is a 75mm howitzer.  Notice that there are two outcroppings in the hull, nestled among the road wheels and return rollers.  These allow a hull gunner on either side to shoot a rifle or machine gun at flanking enemies.  That brings the total crew up to five: the commander/turret gunner, hull gunner, two side gunners, and driver.  Granted, dwarves are small, but this vehicle is still really cramped.  Below is a picture of a dwarven battlewagon next to a BVS medium tank, which is the exact same size as a T-34 (which was also notoriously cramped):

Battlewagon and BVS

The dwarven battlewagon was remarkably modern for a vehicle produced at the same time as the Taressimian trench tank, with the engine and transmission both at the rear, and a torsion bar suspension for the road wheels.  Speaking of wheels, the dwarves loved to decorate their weapons, hence the Bulmutian crosses on the road wheels and the quatresacts on the return rollers.  A quatresact, by the way, is not a swastika; that’s just how this particular version turned out.  Normally, it looks like this:


The turret is made the shape of a regular octagon with the vertices pointing to the four cardinal directions, rather than the sides, as most octagonal tank turrets are made.  Not only does this conform to many dwarven motifs, but offers the advantage of increased armour deflection.

Overall, the dwarven battlewagon is a very effective fighting vehicle, especially in large numbers.  It remained competitive throughout the Great Rossberan War until the very end, when far more advanced designs began to appear on the battlefield and blow everything else away.



Update on the Alto Clef Coffee Mug

Right, so, I mentioned in my previous post on the subject that I have to validate porcelain models before I can sell them.  Well, that hasn’t been true since 2 August, 2016.  Funny, I thought that they had sent out an email with that update, but when I couldn’t immediately sell my mug after uploading it, I thought I might have imagined the whole thing, but then I found the actual email.  Weird, how the mind can play tricks like that.  The reason is that the automated checks for porcelain models take a really long time.  Anyway, I did order one, just because, but even though I haven’t gotten it yet, you can order it now, as well.  Here’s a link, and here’s a preview:

Telemann concerto mug 4

It’s not cheap, and if you have the money to spend on 3D-printed mugs (NONE of them are cheap), then Telemann’s concerto in G major for viola and string orchestra might be too mainstream for you.  So, if you’re a virtuoso and you’ve managed to pry yourself away from practise long enough to read this, let me know what your favourite show-off piece is, and I’ll put it on a mug like this one.


Fighting Vehicles of the Nine Empires, Part 3: Off-Road Armoured Trains

In part 2 of this series, I briefly mentioned the historical war wagon.  The Karadenians took the design in one direction, but the Arcadians took it in another, marrying it to both the steam train and the line of battle with an invention called the Locomotive Fort.

Armoured trains make formidable mobile fortresses, and can clear out an area quickly to safely deploy troops.  However, they are confined to the rail lines themselves.  Trenches take a long time to dig, and trench warfare is unsuitable for large, open areas where the fronts can move rapidly.  In order to block as large an area as possible, the Arcadians decided to build mobile fortresses based on armoured train cars.  The result was this:

Locomotive fort train closed

Six gunners with small arms can lie prone and shoot out of the upper gunports, while the sides of the cars open up to reveal larger guns (typically 12-pounders) or to rapidly deploy troops to the battlefield.  Deployed, the train looks like this:

Locomotive fort train open

The two middle “cars” are troop transports, and can comfortably carry two platoons each.  Note that none of these loco forts can be called cars in a railroad context for the simple reason that, although they are linked, they are all self-propelled.  If the need arises, the loco forts can disconnect and move on their own, such as if they need to beat a hasty retreat.  The Arcadian forces typically put more than four units in an off-road train in an effort to keep their forces together for as long as possible.  Depending on the circumstances, this could be a good tactic or a bad one.  Over long distances across level ground, it certainly kept troops fresh, and gave the Arcadian Army greater mobility than ever before.

Two more prominent variants were eventually introduced as well.  These were the tanker loco fort, which could carry kerosene for other vehicles accompanying the train, and the 12-inch self-propelled howitzer.

Although it was a huge target and not particularly well-armoured, especially compared to later land battleships, the locomotive fort was very popular with Arcadian soldiers.  There was plenty of room to work both above and below, operation was simple, and it was, overall, a fairly cushy assignment.  Since the loco forts could not traverse particularly difficult terrain, they stayed a fair distance from the heat of battle.  Once the train reached the deployment site, there might be susbtantial resistence, but after that, the crew largely sat around and waited while the infantry pushed on ahead.  Only evacuation missions were particularly dreaded, since anything could happen and one of the loco forts had a good chance of getting left behind.

Below are two views inside one of the open loco forts:

Locomotive fort train detailLocomotive fort inside

And a comparison to the other Rossberan tanks I’ve designed so far.  The one at the very bottom is the second variant of the Karadenian sand crab:

Locomotive fort comparison

This one will be available in my Shapeways shop soon.  I’ve decided to include removable panels with the 12-lb guns so that customers can configure the loco fort as either a gun battery or an APC.


The Alto Clef Coffee Mug

For those of you who play music, particularly the viola (as my mother and a few of my friends do), you might have noticed that there are tons of products out there for treble players, a few for bass players, and NONE for alto or tenor players.  Furthermore, such musicians seem particularly bitter because their clef is the prettiest.  If you’re not a musician or you haven’t the faintest clue what I’m talking about, just do a Google search for “alto clef” or “c-clef.”  Go ahead, do that now.  This isn’t a video that you have to pause.

Right, with that out of the way, I have a little story for you.  Over two years ago, I was approached by the owner of a shop called The Alto Clef on Etsy.  She was interested in a zipper pull that I designed, which can (and has) been put on instrument cases and quarter-zip jumpers.  However, at the time, I offered the item in only cast metals (brass, bronze, and silver – gold and platinum were not yet available).  She wanted stainless steel, which is cheaper, and is available in a variety of finishes.  I made the item available in stainless, as she requested, but did not expect her to be happy about it.  I generally stay away from 3D printed stainless steel because the process is not reliable for producing small details.  I was genuinely surprised that she was able to get them all printed with no issues.  I was happy as well, since I gained a returning customer.  Anyway, I reached out to her after her most recent order from me (five zipper pulls in matte black stainless), and gave her my alto clef mug idea.  She suggested the piece below:

Telemann Concerto

… as this is a beginner piece that nearly every violist plays.  Unfortunately, she can’t sell my mug in her shop because of a throttling new policy at Etsy that prevents her from selling anything not produced by a partner manufacturer – which Shapeways is not.  I don’t have an Etsy shop, so I don’t know the details, but that’s why I didn’t post a link, as I usually do.  The Alto Clef is moving to another platform.  I don’t know which one, but I asked the owner to let me know if and when she finds another option.  Hopefully, that gives me plenty of time to validate the model, because all porcelain products must be successfully printed by the designer before they can be sold, regardless of how well they meet the design guidelines.  Here’s a preview:

Telemann concerto mug 1Telemann concerto mug 2Telemann concerto mug 3

If this one works, then I’ll start making mugs with different pieces.  Now, obviously, the notes won’t be painted, which is the whole reason I would need a partnership in order to make this thing work.  Anyone can get a plain mug with a custom image glazed on it, but getting a custom embossed mug?  Only Shapeways can do that.  I even went so far as to make the handle vaguely shaped like the clef, and I can do a lot more than that.

Bloody Pussy

Warning: if any mention of hunting causes you to faint, do not scroll down.  For everyone else, check this out:


This is Twinkle Toes (Twinkie for short).  Doesn’t he look vicious, chowing down on his truly massive kill?  Actually, the title of this post has two meanings: he’s a cat, covered in blood, and he’s also a bloody coward, a scaredy-cat.  He’s afraid of everything, and his little sister swats him constantly for no reason, but he wasted no time sticking his face in the gut pile of a freshly-killed deer.  This deer, in fact:


Not the best picture, but I wasn’t there to tell my mother to rotate the phone, as I was busy getting the tractor.  I don’t know if you can see the bullet hole, but if you can, you might notice that it’s a little bit too far back.  The consequences?  Well, I know I hit at least one of the lungs, which is why the doe ran about 50 metres before collapsing to her knees in convulsions.  Unfortunately, I hit the bottom of the lung, where it overlaps the stomach, so this was also a gut-shot.  In fact, this is easily the worst shot I’ve ever made, and the first time I’ve had to shoot a deer a second time with a gun (I do it all the time with the crossbow: first through the spine to drop the animal, second through the heart), which I did through the neck.  That being said, I can’t complain about the results:


Omnomnom!  Tenderloins, always the first part of the deer I eat.  In fact, that’s the celebratory meal, which everyone who partook in the hunt shares as soon as the animal is hung up, before the skinning even begins.  In this case, it was lunch for my mother and I.

I’d like to drift a little off topic to say this: hunters make the best cooks.  The only magazine recipes I’ve found to be edible have all come from American Hunter.  Hmm, I wonder why?  Maybe it’s because those of us who hunt for the meat, rather that just trophies (I do both, by the way, and I will probably post something in the near future about my trophy head from last year, when I finally get around to cleaning and mounting it) don’t take too kindly to our food being ruined.  Lately, I’ve had quite a bit of time to experiment with different variations on a lovely marinade I discovered a few years ago.  As I come up with new recipes of my own, I might start posting them.

Right then, I’m done for now.  I’m not sure what the topic of my next post is going to be, as I have a few things in the works at the moment.