Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Project - Chain Mail

In 1 month, I am going to a LARP (Live-Action Role-Playing) event. For the event, I would like some mail armor (aka chain mail) to wear as armor. I am planning on 2 pieces, a haubergeon and a coif. A haubergeon goes over your torso and down past your waist to your mid-thigh and a coif goes over your head and neck.

Mail armor is created by taking small metal rings and linking them together. It is very flexible and not as heavy as wearing metal plate armor. During its use in the middle ages, it proved very effective against slashing (swords) and piercing (spears and arrows) weapons.

The process I am going to use was not really what was used then. The reason for that is because my method is a little easier, the armor doesn't need to deflect real weapons, and the materials are cheaper.

The first step is getting rings. Back in the day (before the web), I had a friend who made some mail for his SCA activities. He sought out old door springs which he would then cut to make rings. Another method is to take a heavy gauge wire and wrap it around a dowel and then cut that into rings. However, ringlord.com does all of the winding and cutting for me.

Today I received my box of rings. They are galvanized steel and number around 5500.

I am not doing this in a vacuum. My daughter has already done a bit of linking and is getting me started.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What can I say? I am inconsistent. You should see my personal journal. Every entry starts with "It's been a while since I last wrote...."
I have posted some things on facebook that were probably more blog-worthy. I have not been silent.

So, why start now? A colleague said "You should totally write a blog." So, I have been thinking on that. I am not sure how to proceed. Should I write stuff here? Make an anonymous blog? The problem is that I have so many topics to cover. This blog is personal and more meant for friends and family and not public consumption. Who cares about my band experiences, right?

But this one exists, so here it is.

Recap: 2012 sucked. That's just the truth of it. In June of 2012 my street was on the national news. Exciting, right? There was a big fire. It burned my neighborhood. Neighbors had houses burnt to the foundation. Nothing left but ashes and twisted steel. We were evacuated for 8 days. For at least 2 of those, we didn't know if we would have a house to return to. We came back to a war zone.

I have typical male attitudes. I was in control. I was dad. I took care of business.

But it affected me deeply. Way more than I realized. I lost a lot of of that secure feeling. My brain had a lot of new possibilities to process. I dreamed of disasters. I didn't know how my family was doing that day. I didn't know how they would be doing in the future. How was my youngest going to feel about going to school when one of her best friends didn't have a house in the district anymore? What happens if the next time I am at work when the evacuation notice comes out.

It took its toll. My productivity at work went down. 2 months later I was fired. Are those 2 facts that directly related, no. But they are related.

Getting fired was hard to take. Not getting a new job quickly was harder. I fell into true depression. Depression is a funny thing in that it is hard to know you are there, it is absurd to have others tell you that you are there, and you have no desire to fix it.

I read a good blog post describing it. Hyperboleandahalf-depression part two (Warning! Contains adult language)

Her words help describe the process and the reality. I was not that bad, but I was there. It's that "nothing". It was hard to be happy about anything. Nothing interested me.

In November I was offered a job. A good job.

Begin: 2013
It's been a rough start. I was in a hole that you can't just pop out of. There are biological things going on. Also, I had some health issues. The pain meds sent me back down into the pit. However, with those I could see the cause. By that time, I knew what was going on.

Step 1 - Get a job -- Check
Step 2 - Switch meds -- Check
Step 3 - Get healthy -- .... let me get back to you on that.... :)

Actually working on that last one and it helps a lot.

So, here I am. Coming out of it. I have things I look forward to now. 2013 has a lot of promise. Just saying that is a good thing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pioneer Trek

This past week I participated in a church activity known as a Pioneer Trek. It is where we gather the youth, dress in pioneer clothes, and pull handcarts on the Wyoming prairie. It gives our youth (and those adults who go along) a chance to get in touch with the early members of our church and some of the things they went through.

It was great! I had a lot of fun.

Here is a picture of me with my Pioneer gear on complete with a mid-nineteenth century beard (yes, it is real and yes it is natural).

We take the youth and divide them into families. Each family has a Ma and a Pa and 6-7 children. My wife and I were a Ma and Pa (I was a Pa...).

The family was issued a handcart and we pulled it on trails with our belongings in it. Our job was to help the kids get the most out of the whole experience and make sure they were where they needed to be.

My wife and I enjoy working with the youth. I don't know if it makes me feel young or they are just a ton of fun. Once again, I was impressed at just how amazing these kids are. I realize they were on their best behavior, but they were all helpful and happy. Everyone pitched in to get things done and I think we all had a good time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

InstallShield and MsiGetProperty

For a long time I have had a problem with MsiGetProperty in that sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't. I posted about it on the InstallShield forums and got this great piece of information:

MSI properties set during the pre-file transfer events (OnBegin, OnFirstUIBefore, etc.) or set during immediate custom actions will lose their values in post-file transfer events (OnFirstUIAfter, OnEnd, etc.). This is an unintended side-effect due to how InstallScript MSI projects are implemented.

The basic reason for this is the InstallScript engine acts as an external UI handler for the MSI package being installed. In order to interact with Windows Installer, the InstallScript engine opens an installation session through the MsiOpenPackage API. All properties set during pre-file transfer events are backed by this installer session. Just before file-transfer is started, this installer session needs to be closed, otherwise, Windows Installer would be unable to read the MSI package and the install would fail. A consequence of closing the session is any properties set during that session are essentially lost. Properties that are Directory table entries, such as INSTALLDIR, are reinitialized after file-transfer by running the Windows Installer costing actions.

If you need to maintain property values between pre and post file transfer events in InstallScript, global variables should be used in addition to or instead of MSI properties. Properties set during custom actions in the execute sequence would need to be written to a file or registry entries on the machine as there is no way to pass global variables from InstallScript custom actions to InstallScript events.
Josh Stechnij - Software Engineer - Acresso Software: InstallShield Team

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Model Railroad

I have decided to separate my model railroad blogs into a separate blog called Doorland & Western Railway. This is a big project and I want it self contained and uninterrupted by my other ramblings.

When I started this blog I figured I could just ramble about work, family, and play. However, I see the folly in that. Some folks only want to see specific topics and the posts here are too eclectic. I will probably separate the work stuff as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

DCC for My Model Railroad

A couple of weeks ago (maybe 3) I got my DCC system. It's made by NCE and is their base radio system (PH Pro 5 Radio). I got it barely used and got a great deal on it. I also got an additional throttle.

First off, it's great. It has so much potential.

I got off to an interesting start. The problem with DCC is that you can't really run a train on it unless the locomotive has a decoder board installed. My locos did not have them. I knew about this, so the day before I was to receive my system, I took my locos to the train store to get decoders for them. The week before I had even ordered a decoder (with sound!). Two of my locos are old. 12 years or so. Back then DCC was out but not so common. There was a possibility that my locos would pull too much current for a decoder. So, I needed them tested and checked out before they got installed. The folks at the store took my three locos after I described what I wanted for each and then found out that they wouldn't be ready for at least a week. Ouch.

The next day, my wonderful new DCC system arrived. I got it all plugged in and ready to go. Wow, it looked cool. And that was it. That was all I could do. I could just look at it. I read through the manual. I guessed how awesome it would be and I waited.

As it turns out, decoder installation isn't completely easy. The guy installing ran into difficulties. At the sight of my obvious disappointment (which involved some whining), he offered to loan me some of his locos in the interim. So I borrowed two.
They were a pair of Atlas Master series locos. One had sound and one didn't. The sound was very cool. I played with that for a bit. The locomotive seemed to have hardly been used.

I would like to take a moment to point out that it ran very smooth. This was my first hands-on experience with a not cheap locomotive. It ran so quietly! I am not going to settle for less any more. When I got my locos back, it just drove that point home. The cheaper locos grind and they take a bit of throttle just to get started.

So, now I have it. A full 5-amp DCC system with two locos and a medium-sized oval... Total overkill, but I hope to remedy that in the not-to-distant future.

BTW, one loco is still in the shop. An old Atlas switcher. Probably the best loco I own (which has never really been used since I got it. Long story for later). However, it doesn't fit an HO decoder and so we need to find an N decoder that can handle HO current.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

Here it is, Easter Eve, and I am on the computer...

All the festivities are over with and everyone is in bed. We had fun with our eggs, and I thought I would show what I can accomplish with a total lack of artistic ability (but with plenty of enthusiasm).

This is the Santa Fe Super Chief modeled in Egg... I am not sure the scale. But notice the accurate War Bonnet paint scheme and authentic looking Vista Dome car.

I thought the F7A #31A was particularly well done.

There you have it. I really pushed my skills to limit this time. And yes, I have had trains on my mind a lot lately. Everyone around me is about sick of it, so I had to enlarge my audience.

Happy Easter!