Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Little Lathe Work - Turning Pens

I have been working with the lathe and we managed to turn out a few Christmas presents (stocking stuffers I think). This was our first attempt at turning pens on the lathe. The guts all come as part of a kit. You just have to provide the  "blank", for these the blanks were oak, maple and cocobolo. The oak and maple are hard to tell apart they both came from reclaimed barn wood. The maple has the tighter grain. The other four are all out of the cocobolo and there is quite a bit of variation in the color of the wood.

I learned quite a bit with this initial bunch and I'm looking forward to doing the next bunch. So many things to do so little time.

I think the only one I'm not happy with is the thin one, second from the left.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Game Design Thoughts - Map sizes

I continue to toy around with my 18CO design. Spurred on a bit by finding an almost complete copy of 18GM in the basement of the other house. Components aren't really an issue with this one but the rules were. Much like 1869 there were a number of fairly innovative concepts built into what we referred to as the Aurora Rules and there was no way I would be able to remember what they heck we had done from memory. It will take some time but I can now get those rules from the original printing back into a computer file.

Fair warning, I do consider the following to be copyrighted material.

I have been working with a gentleman to create a custom map that will be the background for the game itself, if it gets that far. What you see below is the current iteration of that map, definitely not the final version. What I have been struggling with is how big the board should actually be. I have come up with three iterations; the 12 hex, the 15 hex and the 19 hex versions. These "measurements" refer to the number of hexes in the east/west hex rows.

This is the 12 hex map. This map means that the tile count would be relatively low. Its about the size of the 1830 map from Avalon Hill. My feelings at the moment is that it fails to capture the vastness of the state and would create some fairly serious funnels in the routes which would keep the replay value relatively low.

This is the 15 hex map. It doesn't sound like a huge addition but from a tile count perspective its a pretty big change. Its going to fall into the mid-to upper side of board sizes but it really helps spread things out and increase the number of possible routes as well as the allowing more towns/cities to be represented.

This is the 19 hex map. It seems absolutely huge. The tile count is going to go way up and from a printing perspective is probably going to create issues. It really shows off the vastness of the state and provides a lot of route options.

At present I'm leaning towards the 15 hex map as the best size to work with. I'll probably make prints of all three just to get a feel for game play.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pirate Project - The disassembly continues Part 2

I have been pressed for time, typically really, and this particular de-construction is tedious. However, if I want things to go back together in any kind of reasonable fashion I must proceed a bit slower than I would like.

In my last session at this I separated the top (poop) deck from the quarterdeck. It took about 30 minutes of applying acetone, then prying or flexing the parts (rinse and repeat) until I was able to actually see some of the glue joints separate. There was a lot more glue here than there was along the edges.

In the end I was successful separating it into two sections. At this point I think I can begin to consider how things will need to come apart. Again the biggest issue I'm facing if that if I'm going to have the main deck come off so you can see the gun deck then the rigging and masts have to come away, intact, with it.

Here's what it looked like after I finally pried it all apart

All of the white discoloration you see are stress fractures in the plastic from bending it. Its thick enough that I'm not concerned with it at this point. A little more texturing and paint should cover it right up.

I'm going to leave the stairs attached. Its one of the better gluing jobs that I have run into so far and I don't think I can get them apart. It should work out just fine that way.

Here you are seeing the underside of the deck. You can see how much glue was used in the center section
Here I was just doing a test fit to make sure that this section still fitted correctly to the sides. Looking good so far.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Acquisitions - Pirate Project - A book!

The acquisition of reference material could well be one of my favorite aspects of any project and quite possibly the reason I never seem to finish anything. However, for this project I'm going to try and stop at two books of which the first one arrived over the weekend:
"The 44-Gun Frigate USS Constitution" by Karl Heinz Marquardt. 

Its really on obliquely related to the Pirate Ship project since the Sophie's Revenge comes from a much earlier sailing era. They both, however, use sails! Close enough! This is really a bit of a fun reference the Black Seas project but that's another tale to be told.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Pirate Project - Sophie's Revenge - The disassembly part 1

As is pretty normal for me I have been distracted by yet another project that is likely to never be finished but its the thought that counts! I have been thinking a lot about what to do with this massive kit, which means its likely going to be displayed in the main part of the house which will require more than a game level paint job and build. We have plenty of guests that would appreciate it as a ship but would not understand what gaming terrain means.

I know that Talon did the design concept and Chris Lewis was the sculptor I see a lot of the Black Pearl and Queen Anne's Revenge in this ship and I'll use one of those two for the rigging. Yes, rigging. I know that its likely to be in the way as a game piece but I like the thought that players would have to maneuver around all the components that you might find on a ship and that means ropes, lots of ropes. 

Based on what I have been researching I think I can get away without the running rigging and just go with the standing rigging, except for perhaps the on the mizzen mast. What I'm thinking is adding a lateen sail as part of the mizzen and I think a sail there wouldn't be in the way to much, or maybe do all three lateen sails. The key to all that though is that the decks have to come away as a single piece to keep the rigging intact. I'm not sure I can even pull that off at this point, but I'll give it a try.

To even get to that point I need to figure out how to disassemble the ship and rebuild it so that any interior detail can be seen and appreciated. With that in mind I worked up my nerve and took a knife, a sculpting tool and acetone to the quarter and poop deck structure. I'm was fairly certain that they used super glue to assemble this at the factory hence the acetone which would serve to soften the CA joint. So using a brush I started running beads of acetone into the joints and gently trying to pry it apart.

I managed to separate the deck from the bulwarks and I think I'm in business. I broke the deck in a couple of places in the slots but it wasn't awful and I'm going to leave those "breaks" in place it will help make sure everything fits back into the right place. I want to be able to remove the decks, including the mast, and leave the bulwark in place so that I can detail the cabins in this area. Still not quite sure where I'll be making those cut lines but now that its in a couple of pieces it will certainly be easier to figure out.

Painting will probably be an ongoing process rather than something done at the end of the project. Will just wing it as I move along.

Let's take a look at the damage I managed to do!

And this is where it starts. If you really take the time to examine this its made up of 7 or 8 pieces.

Under the gentle ministrations of a hobby knife, a sculpting tool and a lot of acetone. I managed to separate the deck from the bulwarks

You can see a couple of the rough edges on this side. I actually broke the plastic here instead of it neatly separating. I'm going to leave the broken pieces in place, it gives a nice reference to glue everything back to.

Here is a look at the underneath of the deck. The circular bit is were the magnets for the mizzen mast are located. I'll need to run some deck  beams across the "ceiling" to make sure the deck remains stiff and not flexible when I take the deck off (if I can pull that off). Techincally I think there should be another cabin underneath that top deck, but there isn't a door and I'm not sure I want to go to that much work.

You can see the edge of the deck that I broke off. I was more careful after this and did much better after this. Just below this is the point where I need to start cutting the deck and top edge of the bulwarks away. Although I'm having some second thoughts on this because of the way the rest of the ship goes together. I'll avoid rushing in with a knife at this point.

And a look at the inside of the stern. This is another spot where I broke a portion of the deck that fits into the slot.

When I start to reassemble this I'll glue the gun deck down to a base that should help keep everything aligned. But the afterdeck cabin sits on the main deck which is the biggest issue for adding the standing rigging, if I try and make the quarter and poop decks removable.

Monday, November 8, 2021

First run at Pen Turning

I had some time on Saturday so I cut pen blanks and glued in brass tubes for the 8 pen kits that we bought. I even had time to mount one up on the lathe and tried my hand at it. It still needs a little work followed by sanding and finishing but I'm pleased so far.

Sat down with the miter saw to cut blanks to size, the drill press to drill a hole through the blank (hopefully as close to center as possible) and then glued the brass tubes (with epoxy) into the blanks.

I mounted one set of blanks on the lathe and took my first real shot at turning a pen. The left side looks pretty good, the right side still needs some work. Once that's all done I'll sand it and apply a finish and then put the whole thing together.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Christmas Card 2021 - Blank is Carved

I have been slowly "whittling" away at the design over that past few weeks. I tried something new and did the initial transfer from original to blank with the laser engraver. I scanned my drawing brought it into a photo editor, flipped the image and then sent it to the laser engraver.

It took forever but it worked like a charm. The biggest drawback was the fine layer of black ash embedded into every line that the laser cut. Was kind of messy when I was carving everything out deep enough to print with. I'm ready to do a test print as soon as I have enough time to get messy with the inks!

This is a 5"x7" blank

Monday, November 1, 2021

Lani gets her wings

11 months old, straight from the rescue. What a happy girl she was.

Lani, or more properly Kahlani, left us on Thursday 10/28/2021, just six years old. She came to us from the Pyrescue group down in Peyton, Colorado (We don't have a single animal in this house that wasn't from a rescue). She was half Great Pyrenees and half Anatolian Shepherd so half working livestock guardian and half livestock herding dog, she definitely leaned towards the Pyrenees temperament.  There was some food aggression issues early on, bad enough my wife thought she might have to go back, but I recommended patience and discipline and that paid off in a big way. She was truly a wonderful dog we miss her so much.

She developed a soft cell carcinoma in her snout, that by the end would take up the whole right side, block her vision from that eye and close up that nasal passage so tightly that mucus drained from the tear duct on that side. We first noticed the bump in August of 2020 and thought it was a just a bee sting except it never went away, just got bigger. When we took her to the vet to check it out it came back as cancer and inoperable at that. It was already deep in the bone of her snout. We were, and are, devastated. It seemed like it took forever for tests and treatment options to come back.

In February we rejected radiation treatment, we didn't think she would survive five straight weeks of treatments requiring full anesthesia each time and then being told it would probably only give her six months at best (that would be August 2021 if you are counting). We decided to go holistic with a CBD treatment (which she hated since it was oral and apparently didn't not taste good) and a raw diet (which she loved). We would then periodically "debulk" the tumor, which meant removing any portion of the tumor that actually grew into her mouth, that was every 4-5 weeks or so. We could tell when it was time because she would start to chew them out and, of course, there would be blood everywhere. Nothing like coming out of the bedroom and finding your kitchen looking like a murder scene and your dog looking like she was an extra in a horror flick.

She was pretty happy and energetic up until the last 3-4 weeks. The vet constantly commented on what a fighter she was. Apparently the vet felt that she would lose Lani on the table each time she debulked the tumor. The vet found a second tumor during the last procedure, we knew it was getting close. She stayed "large and in charge" pretty much up through the last week and we started preparing to make the decision. 

On Thursday we went on short walk to the mailbox. The mailman was still there so we diverted down the street a bit to walk up behind the truck. She laid down at the entrance to the neighbor's driveway and refused to go any further, that would normally be attributed to typical Pyr stubbornness. Probably not this time though. The neighbor came out and I went and got the SUV and my wife. Between the three of us we managed to get her into the back of the SUV (she had lost about 30 pounds which still left her at 104 pounds). We drove the 150' back to the garage and helped her out. She walked in to the backyard pretty normally but wouldn't go inside. Not on heard of, it was a beautiful cool fall day here in Colorado, Daisy (a small black and tan weighing in at 40 pounds and was my wife's father's dog) and Phoebe (our other Pyr, weighing in at 115 pounds) were outside with her. I came out of the house, about 5 minutes, later to check on her and she had moved off out of sight. Phoebe came dashing out from behind a wall, she was definitely looking for me. I headed over and and Lani was lying in her favorite spot against the side of the garage. I sat kneeled with her, she pressed against me and passed away. Our big beautiful girl had decided it was time to go. Large and in charge till the end, her way, in her time and her place.

I find some comfort in this story that I found (I left out the beginning). 

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Getting up to her full size

Playing with Larry "The Cable Cat". That's Hobbes in the background. All of them have passed on now. Hobbes was somewhere between 12 and 14 years old and Larry was 15-16. Lani had only turned six in June of 2021.
Early days with Phoebe, definitely a "when is she going home look"
Getting larger and definitely in charge
A little jail time
A trip to the vet to figure out the bump on the nose. Thought is was a bee sting, we were so wrong.
One of our last pictures of her. Hard to see how large the tumor is at this point, in the end it would take up almost the whole right side of her snout and block the nasal passage. Phoebe watching over her big sister.

You came into my life one day
so happy and so smart
My constant companion 
Loyal and loving from the start
You brought such love and laughter
into our happy home
With you sitting by my side
I never felt alone
Now you have left me
it's almost more than I can bear
The house seems to empty
without you standing there
You no longer wait to greet me
as I walk through the door
You're not there to make me smile
to make me laugh anymore
Just for now I need time to mourn
my broken heart to mend
Though some might say
"its just a Dog"
I know I've lost a faithful friend
You were a great companion
so playful, loving and true
My heart will always wear
the paw prints left by you