Toys in the Attic, I am Crazy

You know, I promised that I wouldn’t make any more posts like this, but after a conversation I had the other day, I must once again turn to the endless insanity of the internet in search of an answer.  So, I just finished making some changes to my T-10 model, and I’ve released it as the T-10M in my Shapeways shop.  Here are some pictures:

 

Now, whenever I release a new model for purchase, I post it to my public profile, usually with a cute message.  “Gentlemen, BEHOLD” is a running gag, even though I am well aware that a good number of my customers are female – and no, not just because I sell jewellry, I’ve had female customers buy tanks as well.  Why do I bring this up?  You may as well ask why I decided to use lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “The Trial” as the title of this post!

See, I have this bizarre wish – I’d like to own a tank.  Money is not the problem, really, though I imagine a T-10 goes for a lot more than a T-55, just because of the weight alone.  Rarity is another issue entirely, why else would a T-55, in running condition no less, go for $20K, when an M4 Sherman goes for several million?  The issue for me is that I don’t have a place to put one.  Furthermore, I have a bridge on either end of my road, each with a weight limit of 27 tonnes.  To make things even worse, every time I get comfortable enough with another person to mention this strange pipe dream of mine, they look at me as if I just slapped them in the face with a dead ferret.

Look, I have to know, why do people get upset when you tell them that you own, or would like to own, something that isn’t mainstream, particularly a weapon?  I know that it’s not a matter of necessity, since there are lots of things that people love to spend money on things that they don’t need!  Look, I live in a country that has been criticised from within and without about its gun laws, which are among the most lenient in the world (though not compared to a lot of Eastern European countries, but that’s a topic I will probably never get into on this blog), so why is it that people don’t bat an eye if I tell them that I own several guns, but the little cogs inside their head get jammed when I tell them that I also own swords?

On the subject of the tank, I usually ask “why do you have a two-seat convertible sports car taking up space in your garage when you have a family of four?  You want to talk pointless?  Let’s talk pointless.  What is the point of a 30-round magazine on a hunting rifle?  I was always taught ‘one shot, one kill,’ and until last year, that’s how it was, when I needed a second shot to deliver a mercy killing to a mortally-wounded deer.  Look, I understand the appeal of semi-automatic rifles, I really do.  I’ve used an AK-47 for target practise many times, and it’s fun.  However, I never understood the point of a rifle that is supposedly so accurate that you could shoot out the bottom of an empty shell casing at 500 metres without touching the sides.  Maybe the rifle really is that good, but unless you can hold yourself still as a statue long enough to take aim, all of your ballistic calculations are correct, and nothing interferes with all this, what is the bloody point?  Seriously, if you tell me “it doesn’t have to have a point,” then I can say the exact same thing about my tank.  I don’t need a good reason to own a tank, or any reason at all beyond “tanks are cool, and I want one.”

I’m not actually trying to justify my desire to own a tank (preferably a T-10M, but if someone dropped a KV-2 or IS-2 in my lap, I wouldn’t refuse either), I’m trying to figure out why some impractical things are acceptable to own, and others are not.  Money obviously isn’t the issue, since tanks, swords, and single-shot rifles (all things I like) are considerably cheaper than convertible sports cars and off-road vehicles (things that are apparently acceptable to wish for).  Seriously, is it just because I don’t understand people?  Would I even have to ask this question if I still lived in Russia?

 

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Not Your Mama’s Fried Chicken

So, when I decided to start the “how to salvage a ruined meal” series, I thought that I would have mishap after mishap in the kitchen and have to figure out how to turn said disasters into actual food.  Well, it turns out that I have far more of a “knack” for cooking than I expected, particularly when the subject is chicken.  Not to boast, but I have never once ruined a meal based on chicken.  However, that doesn’t mean that my chicken recipes don’t have room for improvement.

Now then, I don’t have access to my cook-book at the moment, so bear with me, as I am working entirely from memory right now.  I grew up on a recipe that my mother discovered who-knows-when called “chicken torcello.”  As you can probably guess by the name, this is an Italian dish.  Normally, this is a slow-cooked dish, but it can be fried as well.  I use the term “fried” very loosely here, since, to me, it simply means “cooked in a skillet.”  I am well aware of the fact that, in the United States, “fried” chicken usually means “deep fried,” or a variation thereof, but that doesn’t matter to me.  Right!  Enough tangents!  The basis for chicken torcello is the seasoning:

  • – 1/4 cup flour
  • – 2 teaspoons paprika
  • – 2 teaspoons dried basil leaf
  • – 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • – 1 teaspoon salt

It’s a good mixture, but I decided to create my own.  Here it is:

  • – 1 teaspoon paprika
  • – 1 teaspoon dried basil leaf
  • – 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • – 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • – 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, nutmeg)
  • – 1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Wait… what happened to the flour?  To hell with the flour!  Flour is merely an applicator for the seasonings, and I use something better – sour cream!

So, here’s what this has turned into, a dish that barely resembles chicken torcello at all.  Any one-pound package of chicken will work for this, though I prefer breast tenderloins because… you know what, I’ve rambled enough, here are the instructions:

Step 1: marinate chicken

After cutting up chicken into cubes, put into bowl with one tablespoon each of red wine vinegar, cooking wine (white or sherry), and soy sauce.  If it’s not enough to cover the meat, either add more liquid or put the chicken into a smaller bowl.  Let soak for 30 minutes minimum.

Step 2: start cooking the grain

You may as well have this going while you’re working on everything else.

Step 3: drain marinade bowl into skillet

Seriously, you want to save this stuff

Step 4: add seasoning mixture and 3 tablespoons (maybe – I never measure this part) of sour cream to the chicken.  Omit the garlic powder if you wish to proceed to step 5, otherwise, skip to step 6.  Mix by hand until uniformly coated.

Step 5: Sautee (forgive my misspelling, I’m missing my French dictionary) finely-chopped fresh garlic (as much as you want, seriously) in the marinade.  If you don’t have enough liquid, add some olive oil.

Step 6: put the coated chicken into the skillet:

IMG_0335\

Step 7: Flip after a few minutes, and it should look like this:

IMG_0336

Step 8: remove from heat.  If you time things just right, then your grains will be finished at the same time.  Put the grain, be it rice, pasta, or quinoa (as I used in this case) on a plate, and pour the contents of the skillet over it.  It should look like this:

IMG_0338

Step 9: share this with someone.  I’m serious.  This is too much food for one person.

Well, I hope you can follow that nonsense.  Feel free to ask me questions if you actually want to try this recipe out.  Who knows, I might make a video of this process.  This recipe is a winner, but I’m not running a cooking blog here.

 

An Experiment with Lighting and Water

Yes, you read that correctly, lighting and water.  This post has absolutely nothing to do with atmospheric electrical discharges.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was going to play around with some environment settings in a virtual diorama and, if I succeeded, I would let you know how it turned out.  My preliminary tests have been successful, and at a later date, I will continue adding to said diorama and try to make a scene out of it.  I will document the entire process and use it as a lesson in lighting for my CAD tutorial series on Steemit.  Don’t hold your breath, it’s going to be one of the more advanced lessons.  I think the best way to go about this tutorial series is to make some simple models, complex models, assemblies, and environments, in that order, and finish off with lighting tweaks to make everything look pretty and polished (or charred and muddy, since war is something of a theme with my models).

So, without further ado, this is the original image, which I shared in my previous post:

Zaphnora hiding 1

Ray tracing was on when I took this screenshot, but there were no water effects.  This is because I had the water base over-ridden as a shiny, opaque, dark blue-gray colour.  In Inventor 2011, this was the best I could do.  With Inventor 2019, however, more options are open.  As soon as I turned off the colour over-ride on the water base, I saw potential:

Icy sea 1

The green light is supposed to come from northern lights, and it is subject to a lot of change, mostly because a planet orbiting a blue star would probably not have green auroras.  That, however, does not matter for the purpose of this lighting experiment.  Inventor 2019 has a preset lighting condition called “dark sky,” which is nothing special, but it’s highly convenient for me, as I previously had to create said lighting from scratch every time I wanted to use it.  I kept the preset condition, then added a second light source:

Ice sea settings

Since the aurora is supposed to be directly overhead, for the most part, I gave the light a very high angle.  If I wanted to add a sunset, I’d give the light source a very low angle and a different colour.  Since it is possible to have four total lights in your environment, it is possible to create some very colourful sunsets, and I will probably experiment with it in the future.  Anyway, the sliders next to the circle with the cube inside control the angle of the light.  Brightness controls brightness, obviously, and ambience controls light pollution, effectively.  Right now, it looks quite low, but it’s not quite low enough, and this is what I mean:

Icy sea orthographic 1

This is an orthographic top view with ray tracing turned off.  This is the view I used to move the ships around so that I could get their positions just right for the scene in which they star.  The idea is that an observer on the stern of the Aeronautical Development‘s gondola could see two of the Mazovia‘s masts and the Zaphnora‘s volute peeking out from behind the iceberg.  In order to complete the scene as I’ve written it, the first thing I need to do is add more icebergs.

The angle of the light source relative to the illuminated objects relative to the observer has a huge effect on how the ambient light looks.  For instance, here is the exact same view with ray tracing turned back on:

Icy sea orthographic 2

Looks a bit better, but the decks of the Zaphnora and Mazovia are still awash in green light.  When I switch from orthographic to perspective, however, the problem partially disappears:

Icy sea top view

The use of the “dark sky” condition makes the water appear almost black on its own.  However, what was called “water” in Inventor 2011 isn’t called “ocean,” in Inventor 2019, but “indoor pool.”  As you can probably imagine, in order to create an ocean with daytime lighting, some other modifications are needed, such as the addition of a sea floor.  For instance, below is a demonstration of the addition of ray tracing and dark sky (with added green light), in that order, to a view of the Zaphnora sitting in the water:

Zaphnora no effectsZaphnora ray traceZaphnora dark sky

As you can see, the middle one looks a little too bright and nothing like the ocean blue.  Below, meanwhile, is a view of my river diorama, showing several Sondorian river warships steaming down a river while flanked by several tanks:

River default effects

As you can see, the river itself is largely dark green, much like the banks that make up the base of the assembly.  This river is a bit deep, in fact far too deep to make the shallow draughts of the river (are you sick of seeing the word “river” yet?) warships even necessary, but then, these ships are designed to travel up and down some very shallow tributaries as well.  Anyway, using a dark blue base as a sea floor ought to have a similar effect.  I will make another post on this when I come up with a better water base to display my surface ships.

Anyway, the first stage of this lighting experiment was a success (but then, failure is merely success rounded down, so take that as you will), and here is the result: I placed my “camera” exactly where Rubina Karamazova would have been standing on the Aeronautical Development, then used the “look” function on the navigation wheel:

Icy sea view 1Icy sea view 2Icy sea view 3

Cue the dramatic music as the chase begins.  If you’ve read my original post, you know what I’m talking about.

Fun With Ray Tracing

For those who don’t know, Autodesk Inventor has three basic levels of detail: shaded (and variants thereof), realistic, and ray tracing.  There are many other settings one can fiddle with to make the environment look as clear or as realistic as desired.  Now then, I have two computers, one of which runs Inventor 2011, and the other runs Inventor 2019.  Ray tracing is not available in my particular version of Inventor 2011, possibly because it’s the student version, but I had used it before.  I do, however, have access to ray tracing in my version of 2019, mainly because it’s the industrial version.  This allows me to add far greater detail to my virtual dioramas.  Below are some screenshots I took today.

Factory hangar view 3

This is a view of my airship factory hangar.  I’ve already featured this virtual diorama in a post where I ramble about production costs in wargaming.  Take a look at the pictures there, then fix your eyes back on the above picture, and you might be able to make out the airship inside the hangar.  In the lower left-hand corner, you can see a Gadfly Gun parked next to the transition section of the factory.

Factory hangar view 2

By staying in the same place and using the “look” function on the navigation wheel to change the view, you can now see the rail line that goes through the factory.  Parked on the other side of the rail line is a ShU (Shturmovaia Ustanovka) artillery tank, which is almost identical to the KV-2.  I should mention that it is always a good idea to turn off ray tracing when changing views, because it is very graphics-intensive and will slow down even high-performance machines like mine.  Once you have the view you want, switch it back on to get a nice picture.

Factory hangar view 1

Again, staying in the same spot, but looking up to see the massive spikes that flank either side of the main factory, as well as part of the onion dome.

Below is another diorama that I made, but have not shared until now.  It is essentially the setting for part of the story, though I need to adjust the positions of the ships a little bit.

Zaphnora hiding 1

You can just barely make out the Zaphnora behind the iceberg.  The Preussen is standing in for the fictional windjammer Mazovia, though they are essentially the same ship.  After playing around with water effects and seeing just how nice they look, I might end up creating a series of pictures from that particular chapter using this very file.  Since the northern lights feature prominently in that scene, I will also play around with some localised light sources and see if I can create that effect.  If I succeed, I will share that and show you exactly how I did it.

Next are some more views of the Hub, which I’ve modified since last showing:

Zaphnora at Hub top view

Inventor 2019 actually has a texture called “snow,” if you can believe that.  I was certainly thrilled, because I had to improvise in Inventor 2011, using “cast aluminium” and tweaking the light until it looked white, since the existing white textures were much too shiny.

Zaphnora at Hub

This view more clearly shows the bolt towers that I’ve added.

That’s all for now, I’m going to see if I can post this to Steemit without having to modify it too much.  Hyperlinks don’t work the same way there as they do here on WordPress.

 

Oh Shapeways, I Love You, But You Vex Me

Remember my alto clef coffee mug?  Well, you can’t have it anymore, or at least not until I find another porcelain or ceramic 3D printing vendor, seeing as Shapeways isn’t doing it anymore.  At least for now.  When I first started on the site, they offered several types of distinctly non-porcelain ceramic, but after problems with their vendor, since they outsourced the process, stopped offering ceramic.  After a year or two, they began offering porcelain, which they have now cancelled as well.  By the way, the mug was not the only item I offered in porcelain; there was an oil burner for aromatherapy as well, which inexplicably still shows up in my shop, but in stainless steel – a material I never offered it in.  Glitch?  Glitch.  Anyway, a few of my other products disappeared, so I had to go and find them and tweak the settings so that they showed up again.  Thankfully, only my decorative items and a couple of my steampunk airships in black high-definition acrylate (another material that seems to have gotten the axe) were affected.  My tanks and sailing ships were left alone, thankfully, since those are the products I sell regularly.  I have sold a few steamships (mildly surprising) and a few airships (shocking), but the tanks are my bread and butter, really.

Furthermore, I have to ask, why did Shapeways decide to change the names of every single material they offer?  Now I have to go through their material catalogue again just to figure out what’s what!  Seriously, I love this company, but sometimes the people working for it really irritate me.

The Red Eyes Are Shut

As I mentioned in my previous post, Veyra Blackwing, better known as Jenůfa Nószimål, learned how to shape-shift, then appeared before General Kazímir Skharnov and told him to gather a massive army and invade Minkut.  As Minkutian colonies were beginning to encroach upon Skharan territory (see below), the general did not need much convincing.  However, Nószimål’s motive was actually to satisfy a long-held grudge.

WIP Minkut Skhara

This grudge was far older than Veyra, and goes all the way back to the end of the Minkutian Bronze Age, approximately two thousand cycles before Veyra’s hatching (chuyinka are not “born,” in the mammalian sense, they hatch from eggs).

This is Cheya Redeye, the last chuyinka to rule Sing-Yat-San.  Sorry if the pictures are a bit small, but re-sizing them to both fit in line hasn’t worked for me.  Anyway, during Cheya’s time, the climate was changing for the worse, and the Kraichis Desert to the west was expanding.  The entire city was built around a lone mountain, and the royal palace was built at the very peak.  From the top of the central tower, which only the monarch and those he personally invited were ever allowed to access, one could see the sandstorms in the desert, something that no-one had ever seen before.  Cheya was quite worried, and decided that his empire needed to expand and seek out new resources if it was to survive.  Therefore, he launched a brutal military campaign to conquer the surrounding territories.  Unfortunately, his campaign made him almost as unpopular at home as it did abroad.  Festivities in Sing-Yat-San were always accompanied by fireworks, the key ingredient of which, black powder, was considered sacred in Minkutian culture.  Using it as a weapon was considered a sin.  Cheya, however, didn’t care, and unleashed his rockets against armies and cities alike.  Upon hearing dreadful tales of their use, however, many soldiers in Cheya’s own army flatly refused to light the fuses, and others even went so far as to sabotage the rockets so that the sacred black powder could never be used to harm anyone, and metal had to be used instead.  Knowing that no empire could withstand treason from within, Cheya decided to make examples of those soldiers who defied his orders, stuffing them (in one manner or another) with bombs that still worked, and blowing them up.  He was given the nickname “the Mad God,” as chuyinka were worshiped as gods all over Minkut at the time.

Cheya was ultimately successful, and after the bloodshed had finally concluded, he built a massive trade network all over his new empire.  Unfortunately, Sing-Yat-San was becoming hotter by the year, and since Chuyinka are not fond of warm climates, two important things happened: first, Cheya found himself alone.  No other chuyinka remained in the region, so he was unable to continue his line.  Second, he was too exhausted to launch another military campaign, move the capital north, and look for a mate in a more favourable climate.  Instead, he lazed about his palace and painted his talons.  However, his mind remained sharp, and his civil reforms were welcomed by noble and peasant alike.  Besides, the generations that endured his slaughter were all gone.

I know what you’re thinking: some descendant of a soldier that got gutted, stuffed with a bomb, sewn back up, and blown to smithereens decided to avenge his ancestor by slaying the Mad God.  Well, no.  What actually happened was that a mysterious green crystal somehow emerged from the ground in a far-off reach of the empire, and was discovered by another ambitious individual, one who fancied himself a sorcerer.  This crystal, which responded to sound by either glowing or levitating, simply begged to be studied.  “It must possess great power, power that simply eludes me,” the sorcerer mused.  Oh, it did, but it would not be until Urya Goldfeather and Tska Redleaf built the very first glossarion levitator for the Kardenian Empire some 3500 cycles later that said power would actually be harnessed.  Still, the green crystal was instrumental in keeping the Minkutian Empire together.

The sorcerer managed to get into Cheya’s good graces, and visited him on his deathbed.  Then, through a good bit of trickery, convinced everyone that he had trapped Cheya’s spirit within the crystal, and thus the line of sorcerers gained control of Minkut.  Cheya’s body was embalmed and put on display, along with the crystal, which would dance to the sorcerers’ chanting.  Since chuyinka always burn their dead, without exception, this display was seen as an affront to the power they once held over the land.  However, by this point, they had abandoned the entire southern half of the continent, and had no real power outside of Durkuz, so their revenge had to wait.  Bitter, bloodthirsty, and arrogant as they were, they never forgot.  Of course, they also wrote everything down.

This where some elements of my original version of Nószimål come in.  Valona was never happy about being stuck in semi-human form, and was always looking for an escape.  Veyra, meanwhile, began to have increasing regrets about binding her life to the Skharnovs, the greatest of which was having to go on for who-knows-how-long outliving her own children, which were no bigger than that tiny Skharnov girl at the time they met.  However, killing lots of lower life-forms was a tried-and-true stress reliever for chuyinka, so gathering a Skharan army and laying waste to Minkut seemed like the perfect rage outlet.  To make the long story short, but also because I plan on telling the long story at some point, Kazímir Skharnov broke through the gates of Sing-Yat-San, sacked the city, and burned the palace to the ground, Cheya’s mummified body very much included.  With that final stroke, all knowledge of the chuyinka disappeared from the south, just the way they wanted it.  If that seems confusing, don’t worry.  It should.

 

Entwining Lore and Myth

As I mentioned in a recent post, I had already built a fantasy world, then decided to abandon it entirely and start over.  That being said, I don’t want to completely erase my old stories, so many of them will live on as in-world mythology.

Since I still do not have access to my CAD software for a while, I figure that this would be a good time to discuss the lore behind my next model-related post: Fighting Vehicles of the Nine Empires, Part 5: the Jenůfa Nószimål Tank.  You’re probably wondering where that name comes from, and more importantly, how the bloody hell it’s pronounced.  Well, if, like me, you are an opera lover, than you ought to already know.  The best I can give you is “Ye-NOO-fah Naws-zim-AAL.”  Trust me, it works better in Cyrillic (Енуфа Носзимял), though that’s hardly the point.  Why would someone name a tank after her?  Well, the short version (the long version I will likely include in the post about the tank itself) is that she was the Grand Marshal of the Rhûnnish Empire – the ONLY Grand Marshal in the empire’s five-century history.  Not only did Nószimål help to found the empire to begin with, but she was commander of the entire military for the empire’s entire existence, answering only to the emperor.  She is also a character that I took directly from my old fantasy world, though her backstory has changed significantly.

Nószimål was originally supernatural, and to a degree, still is.  Most of her original story, however, I have decided to preserve strictly in the form of legends that surround her, thus giving her a reputation of being far more powerful than she actually was.  So that you see what I mean, I shall give you the TL;DR version of her original backstory, going all the way back to the beginning.

In my original fantasy world, life formed on its own, guided in certain directions only vaguely by a group of beings from a higher dimension with no capability of physically manifesting on the planet.  In order to better interact with this planetary experiment, they fashioned a number of immortal beings that were capable of perceiving the higher dimensions.  These beings were the nymphs, tasked with guiding the intelligent apes on the road to civilisation.  I’ll discuss these at length at a later date, since I have all this stuff already written down, I just have to sort through my mess of files and find it.  Anyway, the elder ice-nymph, Valona, was about as cold and uncaring as you might expect, and found the entire “help humanity” charge to be rather vexing.  One day, she got into an argument with a water nymph (I basically put my icy O.C. into the Dvořak opera Rusalka) who fell in love with a human.  See, said human had actually fallen in love with his own reflection (myth of Narcissus), but the poor nymph below thought that he was in love with her.  Valona, trying desperately to slap some reality back into the water nymph without losing her temper (as Valona had been known to torture water nymphs by freezing the river around them when they pissed her off), decided to demonstrate her points about the wickedness of humanity by shedding her true form and jumping into the body of a dead infant floating in the river (WHERE do you think the name “Jenůfa” comes in?!).  Valona reanimates the dead girl (a deviation from the Janáček opera; BTW, I’m not related to Leoš Janáček, it’s just a really common Moravian surname) and goes about trolling the human population of a nearby village to make her point.  Unfortunately, dead human infants are terrible vessels for containing the spirit of the winter’s herald, and Valona’s terrible power, the Strachzima (literally “dread winter”) escaped from her grasp and plunged the world into an ice age.  Meanwhile, the portion of her power that she actually held on to slowly transmogrified the dead human body into a 2,3-metre (7’6″) tall superhuman terror, with the strength of a hundred ordinary men.  Below is my most recent concept art for her, depicting her in armour (I have yet to make a helmet) and wielding a sword-breaker and great sword.  When I start making 3D versions of all my characters, I’ll have a much better version to show you:

WIP Jenufa 1

This is where the stories converge.  The above story, incidentally, I’ll preserve as one of the legends surrounding the Rhûnnish Grand Marshal.  However, Nószimål is still real, yet the ice-nymphs are relegated to mythology in my new fantasy world.  So what is she, if not an ice-nymph?  Well, the actual story goes back to the fall of Durkuz, when one of the Skharnovs was leading an army against the Feresteks, but was ambushed.  His forces were routed, and his young daughter fled deep into the forest.  She then ran into the Green-Eyed Raven, a terrifying creature of the night.  But the raven wasn’t interested in eating her, for there was much more at stake than a simple meal.

The Green-Eyed Raven was one of the nicknames given to the young Ëna (“yaw-na”) Blackwing, the only chuyinka ever known to have completely black hair and feathers.  When she came of age (well, not exactly, it’s a bit more complicated than that, I’ll explain later), she was told to choose her adult name.  Because of her long-established nickname, she chose the name “Veyra,” the Kiralessan (language I made up) word for “raven.”  Aside from her colour, she was a normal chuyinka, at least to the extent that chuyinka can be normal.  Looking down upon this tiny creature, however, one who worshiped the chuyinka as gods, yet taught to keep her distance, Veyra was a bit confused; food, after all, does not normally come this close of its own volition.  Veyra picked up the child and studied her for a bit, asking in a rasping whisper why she was here.  The girl burst into tears, blubbering and blathering about how her father and all his men had gotten ambushed and were being slaughtered as they spoke, because they tried to stop the Feresteks from waging a war against the gods themselves, and no-one could convince them that they could never possibly win, and then, and then…

“UNACCEPTABLE!”  Veyra roared, once she got the gist of the child’s panicked rambling.  It is unknown what manner of blood oath Veyra made with the young Skharnov girl, but the result was that her life became tied to the Skharnov line.  As long as there was a Skharnov alive, Veyra would live.  Since chuyinka do not age, and instead simply “switch off” after thirty years (which is roughly 198 Earth years, in case you’ve forgotten), this meant that Veyra ended up living far longer than a normal chuyinka.  Around the time that Kazímir Skharnov was born, Veyra had worked out shape-shifting, and the chuyinka began walking among the Skharans.  It was, by taking humanoid form and donning black armour, that Veyra Blackwing became Jenůfa Nószimål.  She later went on to advise Kazímir, telling him to begin his campaign against the Minkutian Empire.  The reasons for that are quite complex, and I will discuss that later.  Actually, I could discuss them right now.  Next post!

Did I Miss the Joke?

Way back in late November (start of rifle season in Pennsylvania), I posted some pictures of my cat chowing down on the gut pile of a deer I had shot that morning.  Since then, it has easily been my most popular post, with people still viewing it, while the posts about my usual subjects, which I put much more work into, go largely unnoticed.  The post in question has even been spammed with lots of nonsensical comments from Central American countries that I never approved (the comments, not the countries).

Look, I have to know, what is so damn appealing about this post?  Is the title misleading?  It’s a joke, of course, and I’ve even explained my bad punnage (a word my English teacher, Edward Altman, made up, not me) with the two different meanings I intended by the phrase “bloody pussy.”  I am, of course, aware of a third meaning, as I’m not a child.  However, seeing as I tagged the post with “cats,” and feature a picture of a cat covered in deer blood, I highly doubt that anyone who takes a casual glance at it would think that the post is, somehow, menstrual innuendo.

Now, the answer may be so obvious to you that you can’t even give me an explanation.  That being said, not only am I not normal, but my own social conventions are deeply rooted in Russia (a country I have never gotten views from) and not North America (where the vast majority of my piddly number of views come from).  I learned English largely from watching British television and reading British literature, hence my tendency to use British spelling and syntax (except where autocorrect manages to change things without me noticing).

Right, I’m done.  Now answer my question, internet!

A Point About Rhûn

The name “Rhun” is, I believe, Welsh in origin.  It’s the name of a person, not a place.  I bring this up because I use it as the name of a region, not just a country.  J. R. R. Tolkien also used the name for a country, adding a circumflex.  I’m not sure how diacritical marks work with copyright law, and if it’s an issue, I could change my spelling to “Rhůn,” or “Rhún,” both of which are much quicker on my keyboard (Czech layout, in case you’re wondering).  Anyway, the point is not whether or not I can use the name.  The point is regarding certain items in my Shapeways shop, some which are tagged “Rhun,” while many more are tagged “Nine Empires.”  Rhûn, as I have mentioned in my previous lore posts, is not one of the titular nine, but an ancestor to two of them, Alexandria and Drachania.  However, before I came up with the story of the Nine Empires, which takes place in an entire solar system of my own creation, I was working on a parallel Earth story, which took place in a world very much like our own, but with slightly different geography and vastly different history.  Rhûn was basically Russia, and the name, as I came up with it, was a translation of “Ržånnia” (Cyrillic, Ржӕнния или Ржянния) a name that I did not have a backstory for until starting work on the Nine Empires.  Then I remembered that “Ржянния” is awfully close to “ржанной,” the adjective of “рожь,” which means “rye.”  Perfect!  The Rhûnnish lands are, almost literally, “the lands of rye.”  This makes perfect sense, seeing as rye bread is much more popular throughout Eastern Europe than wheat bread.  Yet another reason that the easterlings are superior to westerners!  We have chewier, more healthful bread.  Anyway, I hope you found that tidbit mildly amusing.

As I have lamented in my recent Steemit post, I might not be able to make any more models for the next two or three weeks.  Therefore, I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity to resume blogging.  I may also be able to write a bit more, and work on some graphics, maybe put some more detail into my map, the like.  I would very much like to make the JN-1 and JN-2 models (I have the turret already made) at the very least, seeing as I already have the subject of the next Nine Empires post clearly in my mind –  fighting vehicles of the Nine Empires, part 5: the Jenůfa Nószimål Tank.  To give you something of a mental picture, it’s basically a cross between a KV-2 and A7V.  Can’t wait?  Of course you can, people visit my blog(s) and shop for historical models, not the crazy contraptions of my own imagination!  Then again… that doesn’t explain why I’ve sold so many damn chuyinka dreadnoughts.  Unless it’s because they look like the Invincible from Final Fantasy IX.  Hey, where do you think I get half my ideas?  Hell, the entire plot of book 5 is basically Queen Brahne vs. Princess Garnet vs. Stannis Baratheon!  I’ve spoiled too much already…

I’m on Steemit!

So, I got recommendations from a couple of different people to join Steemit.  I figured, “why not?”  So, I finally did a few days ago, but I didn’t get around to writing my first post until today.  Not my best work, but it seems like a good way to get some more attention for my work.  Steemit is still in beta, so it’s not the most user-friendly of platforms, at least not yet, and I have yet to really poke around and figure out everything that I can do.  Mainly, I took the time to post today simply because I’m taking a short break from working on tanks and sailing ships.

Right, well, that’s about all for now.  I have Roman warships to build.  Hail Caesar!