Monthly Archives: September 2010

Lots of shading

We’re casually watching the documentary Babies, and during a birthing scene Nefarious makes the same mistake as many expectant fathers looking at an ultrasound thanks to the umbilical cord — she bursts out in amazement, “oh my god, did you see how giant that little boy’s wiener is!?!?!

Earlier today we did some shading on my leg half-sleeve, filling in the Nazi zombie borrowed from Dead Snow. Nefarious was very skittish about using the tattoo machine, mostly because she was worried about hurting me (empathic worries have preemptively stopped the careers of a few talented artists who tried dipping their toes into tattooing, making her far from the first to back off), so she found other ways to be entertained as Shane worked on me. I wasn’t going to post the fresh photo because fresh photos never give the piece proper credit — it was weird, because I didn’t bleed at all during the five or so solid hours of tattooing, which was odd, although I did turn quite red — but what the hey. I can’t wait to do some more in two weeks, but man oh man, do my painkillers ever make tattooing worse. I suspect this is because they’ve damaged the way my body releases endorphins, and simply because of being hyper-sensitive to breakthrough pain.

But still, it’s worth it.

Carving Projects: Manholes and Tablewares

This is long, and I have many better things to do tonight than prufe reed.

Because it took me some time to get the video rendered and uploaded (after I gave up on brutally slow Quicktime Pro, this free video conversion tool saved the day), this is being posted a day late, so let me interject a story from today at the pool. While Nefarious was doing her swimming test (since she’s under age, she has to prove that she can swim lengths and tread water before being allowed in the deep end) I got a phone call from a friend, and after a minute the life guard says to me, “You can’t have that phone here. Electronic devices are not allowed around the pool.”

This is the first time I’ve ever heard this rule, so I asked her why, and she replied that “cell phones interfere with things and that can be dangerous.”

“What do they interfere with? I don’t understand,” I ask her.

Again vaguely, she says, “we’ve had a lot of problems in the past with them, so they’re banned.”

“Could you give me an example of a problem that the phones cause?”

And then she says defensively, and I kid you not, with a straight face emphasizing her belief in what she was saying, “If you were to drop your cell phone in the water you could electrocute everyone swimming here.

I couldn’t stop myself from laughing openly at her and told her that she was lying, and as I walked away she yelled that if I didn’t believe her I could go into the office and they’d show me the rule on paper. I called her bluff and did just that, since the office was a non-inconvenient ten feet away, and all the other lifeguards looked to see which of their coworkers had sent me in. I don’t know if she’s the chubby outcast of the group, but they very invalidated her authority and told me that she was an idiot and just to ignore her, and that I could use my phone all I wanted as long as I wasn’t taking photos of other people’s kids. The reason behind all this ineptitude is a long entry of its own.

Oh and don’t worry about this exchange having jinxed Nefarious’s test — the lifeguard barely even watched her, and at the end, just said to her “Ok, get out of the pool”, and nothing else. I just took Nefarious into the office and told the lifeguards that we were there to get her green deep-end bracelet. That said, we bumped into a friend of hers that is not yet able to pass the test, so they spent most of their time playing in the shallow end (about three feet deep, maybe a tiny bit more in areas).

* * *

I’m going to begin by telling you what I’ve been working on lately.

First of all, as I mentioned before (and I know I still owe you a diagram), Nefarious designed a set of cutlery for each of the four Houses of Hogwarts, and I started by creating the Slytherin salad fork and spoon, with a snake wrapped around the fork, and a skull on the handle of the spoon. They were carved out of 3/4″ oak (making the skull a little “flat”) based on her drawings, and then the back and all the detailing was done by hand using a Dremel. After the pieces were sanded — and yes, I admit that I gave up before really finishing this perfectly and that it’s really primitive — I rubbed them with olive oil (and no other finishing agents of any kind, since these need to be food safe). It was amazing how much the oil brought out the color and darkened the wood, to say nothing of the feel of the wood. Given that this is the first spoon and fork that I’ve ever carved in my life, I’m pleased with the outcome.

[For more detail click: manhole covers fork and spoon]

Next I had the idea to make some hot plates (or whatever the mats that you put under hot pans on the table are called) that looked like scaled down versions of manhole covers, with a special eye to the artistic Japanese manhole covers. I made one “normal” cover, which I finished in an iron oxide and dry brushed with silver, as well as three Japanese inspired ones in various finishes. One was done in the same silver-tinged iron oxide, but with “highlights” painted in some of the design, almost like a stained glass window. Another was completely painted, colorfully, with silver (“liquid mirror” paint) borders, and the last was stained cappuccino rather than painted, with the highlights done with olive oil and a tiny amount of translucent white — essentially natural wood. It was all done very roughly, because these were just feelers to decide whether it was worth pursuing. I’ve seen enough that I’m inclined to go ahead and make some nicer ones (with the new bit, which will quadruple the resolution, which is an incomparable improvement), which I promise will look much better. Because 2D pictures don’t really do 3D work justice, here’s a video of the projects, with me rambling for far too long (with stuffed nose if it’s not obvious) about them. Another idea would be to do album covers.

And yeah, it really needs a de-S’er… Yikes!

Like I said, rambling for far too long, but at least it’s HD. With a stuffed nose to boot. But I do really, really like making things and have so, so many things that I am dying to try out… and every time I see my Arduino, I remember so, so many things that I still want to spend more time on.

Other than that, it’s been a difficult couple of days. I felt surprisingly OK when we did our day-long walk through the CNE (admittedly a mix of morphine and the pleasure of being out at the fair go a long way from keeping your mind off physical pain), but it takes my body an awfully long time to repair itself from the damage that this did, so I’ve been rather incapacitated with the never-ending pain and weakness and regular trips to hide in the bathroom, not for my guts (or onward), but to re-guard my emotions so I can keep most of how difficult this is from my young park and pool companion. Caitlin has offered to take me wheelchair shopping. Anyway, I did have some highlights eating a delicious raspberry cake that Caitlin made, but today is the first day that I’ve started to feel mostly functional again [edit: speaking a bit too soon, judging by my current immobility], but yesterday I still made it to the park and saw something that struck me as odd — what looked like a four or five year old boy, nude, as his diaper had just been removed, eagerly breastfeeding. The woman had a Angelina Jolie-like coven of multi-racial children that seemed to be her family, so I’m not sure what the story there was…

Weird stuff, but who am I to judge. I told someone today about it (another parent that I bumped into at the park, so we talked a little) and they were really cold in their response, so I’m not sure whether they were aggressive pro-breast feeding people and they thought I was criticizing them, or if they were just upset that I’d bring up what they might think is awkward to talk about to a relative stranger.

Nefarious drew me this wonderful picture, and I put it next to my computer.

That it was in part an attempted bribe in no way diminishes its sweetness.

She says “tell everyone I drew that when I was really little!”, because she thinks it’s not her best work, but I love it and it makes me very happy.

School starts again in a few days. It’s going to be weird after a full summer of Nefarious being home with us for the vast majority of that time. I wonder if I’ll have more time to indulge these sorts of projects, or if I’ll just use it to sleep… I’m ashamed to admit that my track record indicates the latter.

* * *

Oh, and thank God for five days of rain and thundershowers on the forecast! I really hope they’re good ones, because it’s been horribly hot here. I blame the out of control ambient temperature for having, with much billowing smoke, melted the flexi-cable (connecting the engine to the bits) on my router. I wasn’t doing anything abnormal that should have caused it to melt like this, so I’m assuming that the high temperatures contributed to pushing this sheath past what it was designed to handle.