Pets

One of our two cats, Poppy, has an inner-ear infection (suspected) and is breaking our hearts by being unsteady.

Wouldn’t want to live in a world without pets – but when they’re ill the stress levels just go through the roof.

Making a lathe bench – part 1

The lathe needs a bench. I can’t keep it on the main bench in the shed, it’ll need it’s own stand. At some point, I may want to think about making it mobile, but for now I just want something stable so I can actually use the lathe before I go back to work next week. I’m desperate to have a shot at turning a bowl on it!

I’ve built / made a few things now, some of them I just made up as I went along (bird table), but some things I want a better idea of what I’m doing before I start. That includes the garden steps I built and an elevated planter for my mother-in-law. It also includes this lathe bench.

3d plans showing a raised planterI have used Sketchup Free for the various projects I wanted to plan and it works out great! It’s not easy, but it isn’t terrible and it really helps. What it doesn’t do is help visualise how big something will be (the planter turned out massive), but that’s also my achiles heal anyway (cooking too much food, building things too big, buying too much decorating stuff, etc.)

Here’s the plan for the lathe stand.

3d plans for a lathe stand

Imagine that diagonal brace in the middle being mirrored on the other side (I couldn’t be bothered to draw it). The different colours are for different sizes of lumber, 14cm, 9cm or 6cm wide (all 3.8cm thick). Hopefully that’ll be strong enough to hold the 85kg weight of the Record Power CL2, and keep it stable. We’ll see (it’s going to be sitting on a shed floor with a lot of bounce, which isn’t going to help!)

Wish me luck.

So I bought a lathe!

Well, this is actually my second lathe. My first one was the Parkside lathe from Lidl, which I bought probably two or three weeks ago. I’ve used it (the Parkside one) to turn two pieces of wood (other than some very quick tests).  I made a bowl out of sycamore and a cup / goblet / thing out of apple wood (from a tree we cut down in our garden).

Plain wooden bowl on a black backgroundI had read bad things about the Parkside lathe, but I really wanted to give turning a go, and as they re-appeared in the middle of Lidl I purchased one in a moment of weakness.

Super easy to set up, made mostly of plastic and aluminium, the lathe sits nicely on a bench. But it’s flimsy. The spindle wiggles, the tool rest doesn’t lock fully, the tailstock actually lifts up from the lathe ‘bed’ (I use that term loosely) if you apply it hard enough to keep your piece in place.

But, it does allow you to turn wood, even someone like me who’s never turned anything his life. I made the bowl and the other thing (chalice?) and it was only mildly frustrating and painful. But, by the time I’d finished the second piece, the lathe was even flimsier. The wobble on the spindle was worse, the tool rest is chipped and dented and no longer locks, and the tail stock is as useful as a piece of wet fish. It was clear I was doing stuff it was never intended to be useful for (which begs the question, what was it intended to be used for).

Anyway, I’d been watching Facebook market place for months for various second hand DIY items (more blog posts coming about all that stuff I suspect) and yesterday I spotted a bargain. A Record Power CL2 lathe, for a really good price, not too far away and in good working order. I collected it today.

Turned wooden gobletFuck me it’s heavy. I mean, it didn’t look that big in the Facebook marketplace photo. But it’s heavy. The two metal bars which form the bed are heavy. The motor and spindle are very heavy. I really should not have been lifting that onto the bench on my own. It came with loads of accessories including an unused four jaw chuck, which I’m super excited about.

Now I just need to build a stand for it (it can’t stay on the bench, it’s too high for one thing), and then enlist the help of someone to move it (not making that mistake again).

I am excited to give it a whirl – the two things I’ve made were hard, but I don’t know if that was technique, the lathe or the tools (or all three). It can’t be the lathe next time I make something, so we’ll hopefully see if it’s tools, technique or both!

So, what happened?

In November 2019 I wrote a blog post, saying it had been two years since I last wrote a blog post. In it, I described everything that had been going on. You can read it here, but it’s not exactly a happy post. There was a lot of shit going on at the time, and that was before Covid hit.

It’s now been over 3 years since I last blogged seriously (I wrote a couple of posts over the time between that one and now, a few about Covid) and plenty has happened.

A key part of that being my diagnosis of depression. I know, I hid it really well.

I don’t really understand why I didn’t blog the shit out of the pandemic, but instead I bought a shed load of old D&D stuff on eBay. We also started sorting out the house a little bit, said farewell to Fizz (our cat) and hello to Pippa and Poppy (our new second hand cats).

I also started doing a lot of DIY, I’d previously been terrified of making things worse or fucking up the house or destroying a wall, but it turns out a lot of that was depression, and once the anti-depressants kicked in, I found I was able to worry less about that and get on and do things. That’s an ongoing process since there was *so much* that needed doing, and there still is.

But, I’m keen that I get back to blogging, even for no other reason than it gives me another minor creative outlet and keeps my brain busy.

Here we go then, another attempt at running a blog.

Weird

One the things I don’t quite understand, is how Covid didn’t result in me writing shit loads of blog posts. It should have really, but instead, it absolutely killed the remains of my blogging.

Which is odd.

Yes, it’s back.

Turns out I still want to blog. So it’s back. I’ve managed to import all the old content, but,

  • Links are probably broken
  • I haven’t got (and won’t be using) all the plugins so you may see weird [text] in square brackets that would have previously triggered plugins, which no longer will (like pull-quotes, article lists, etc.)
  • The import only partially worked, so tag counts and other things are off, I dunno if I’ll be able to fix them.
  • I’ll be working on the look soon (re-doing icons, headers, etc.) but am not going to customise anything in the theme directly, or use a custom theme, because it just requires too much energy to maintain.
  • Oh, and I’m never, ever turning comments back on.

I did think about fully exploiting https://www.eightbittony.co.uk but I just like the Perception Is Truth name, and I don’t want to give it up. So for now, they’ll both exist.

Dinosaurs in Dungeons & Dragons

Scan of the Tyranosauraus Rex stat block from the Expert Rules, BECMI edition of D&D

I don’t like dinosaurs in my Dungeons & Dragons and despite them being there from the very start, I know I’m not the only one (I checked). 

However, the time has arrived in our 5th edition D&D game when one of the casters has the Polymorph spell, has reached level 8 and so wants to polymorph themselves in to the most powerful beast the spell supports.  At the time of writing this post, that beast is the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  There are two other CR8 official beasts but one is a whale and the other (from an adventure, not a core rulebook) is a giant crab.  So the Rex it is.

Luckily for me, it turns out my polymorphing player also doesn’t like the idea of dinosaurs in D&D.  Before I’d broached the subject, he asked if we could do something so that during a fight he’s not declaring that he’ll be turning himself in to a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

As a result of this unexpected good news, I’m reskinning; so in a spark of unoriginality I’m branding all dinosaurs Tyrant reptiles and then adding descriptions or monikers to them.  My player is also working up a different physical description to go with the renamed Rex.  Maybe, when announced in-game, some players will think doesn’t he just mean the Tyrannosaurus Rex and why isn’t he using that name.  That’s fine, for me and my polymorphing player at least, it matters.

I don’t want to just dump all the dinosaurs; for a start, I’d have to find a CR8 beast to make sure the Polymorph spell doesn’t lose potency, but also if the characters ever go to Chult or any adventures set there, I don’t want to be replacing huge swathes of beasts.  The alternative I’ve chosen, thinking of new Tyrant names for them, isn’t going to be that hard.

There are other posts online (Reddit for example) with many of these suggestions, and a lot of folk saying “why bother, dinosaurs are fine in D&D“?  As I thought about it last night there are really two aspects that have irritated me since I started playing (in the 80’s).  Firstly, the names are anachronistic as far as I’m concerned.  They’re too scientific, too tied in my head to the Victorians who invented them, and I just can’t separate that out.  Secondly, when I was young, I read about the ‘real world’ which had dinosaurs, or I read fantasy books, which had dragons and magic.  I didn’t (I’m sure there are some) read any books or watch any shockingly bad TV which had magic and dinosaurs, and so I’m not able to easily assimilate the idea that dinosaurs exist in a fantasy setting.  It’s daft, and there’s no good reason for it ultimately, but in my head-canon, Dinosaurs are real, and Dragons are fantasy and D&D is a game of fantasy.

So anyway, here’s a bunch of unoriginal names for core 5th edition dinosaurs based on calling them Tyrant reptiles.  Apologies if this unintentionally rips off anyone else’s ideas.

DinosaurTyrant reptile name(s)
AllosaurusSharptooth (Tyrant)
AnkylosaurusWhiptail (Tyrant), Tyrant Juggernaut
BrontosaurusTyrant Behemoth
DeinonychusSickletalon Tyrant, Fastclaw (Tyrant), Shredder (Tyrant)
DimetrodonSpineback (Tyrant)
HadrosaurusBeaked Tyrant, Duck-billed Tyrant, Crested Tyrant.
PlesiosaurusDeep Tyrant, Tyrant of the Deep, Sawtooth (Tyrant)
PteranodonCrestwing (Tyrant)
QuetzalcoatlusSkywing (Tyrant)
StegosaurusPlateback (Tyrant)
TriceratopsRhino-tyrant, Trihorn (Tyrant), Triple-Horn (Tyrant)
TyrannosaurusTyrant Sovereign, Tyrant Alpha, Apex Tyrant, or just Tyrant.
VelociraptorTyrant Hunter

I’m not overly fond of ‘Beaked Tyrant’ (and some of the others are a bit weak) but I may come back and change that one (or more) later.  It’s a start.

Edit: All good ideas are inevitably re-inventing the wheel, and someone pointed out to me today this Eberron sourcebook on the DMs Guild which does pretty much exactly what I’ve done here but has a set of different entries.

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/248087/The-Korranberg-Chronicle-Threat-Dispatch

Hole in the Wall

From this (rotten, been there years and been getting worse, had it ‘repaired’ twice so far).

To this (done it myself, over two weeks, bit by bit, don’t care about how messy it looks as long as it keeps the rain out).

Regrets …

I often joke that regret is one of the four pillars of my life, but I don’t really dwell much on past decisions once I’m over the ‘angry at myself’ period.  I do regret not spending more time in my 20’s being more hands on with stuff, decorating, DIY, repairs, etc.  It’s a confidence thing mostly, but it prevents me doing even small jobs around the house, and as a result, the house slowly rots.

One of the things they don’t teach you at school is how to find reliable craftsmen.  We paid a guy last year to repair some rotten wood, he did 2/3rds of the job and never came back (used the weather as an excuse, but then just stopped responding to us).  Turns out, he only did 1/3rd of the job and I’ve been repairing the mess he left for the past two weeks (good weather, so taking my time sealing up the hole with multiple layers which I’m allowing to dry in-between).

So we’ll once again be on the lookup for a ‘handyman’ who can do lots of little jobs, because there’s loads of stuff which needs fixing once the Covid19 shit is over, and unless we win the lottery we can’t afford to get the whole house done in one go.  Typical example of Samuel Vimes’ ‘Boots’ Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness.