25 mai 2016

We aten't dead. Yet.

The past year has been... let's settle for "interesting". Not necessarily leading to much activity, other than baking.
However, it was 2015. As everyone knows, a certain car was supposed to arrive on October 21st.
That called for some appropriate attire to go to the special showing of the Back to the Future trilogy at a local cinema.
Rather last minute, and low-budget. The dye for that old lab coat was the most expensive part.
The symbols on the shirt are different from the original, because:
a) I have too much time on my hands,
b) I am a hopeless geek
c) It was the 40th anniversary of the Rocky Horror Picture Show

So off to Google Translate I went, with the lyrics for the Time Warp. This probably reads like some of those famous user manuals, as I went for the symbols which would fit best. Shame on me, certainly, and I apologise to anyone who can read Chinese.

Earlier in the year I went to a small gathering of geeks which involved costuming too, so being the owner of a Roger Delgado Master costume, I decided to go as a Spoiler, adding a detail to said costume:

Not time travel (recurring theme, it seems), but close : Procrastination.
My old nemesis.
For "some time", embroidered bits and bobs had been waiting for a frame. And now it is done:

Others are still waiting to be made or framed:
Others have been planned.

And then there is a project for a costume, which seems to take a very, very long time, because so far it is too simple. 

And this concludes our bout of activity. Hopefully it will not take another year-and-a-bit for more.

7 avril 2015

Project Ghost-Grappling: Pictures, Year 2

After having dragged the first iteration of the gear for a weekend, all 8.5kg of it (roughly 19 pounds), it was decided that Something Lighter would be nice.

Back to the drawing board we went, and after some more ordering of parts, cursing and gluing (and very little in the manner of hammering in things that would have gone 'gloing'), the Mk2 was ready.
Based rougly on the same principles, with a few changes:

A more compact box,

Various elements organised inside, and best of all, none of it was made of solid oak this time. 

 The trap itself was a rather smaller model.

Captain's log - August 11th, 2014

After an unexpected call mid-July, informing him of a sudden opening on a pastry course, our hero* found himself tasked with defeating various administrations in order to update his status with them and hopefully obtain some money.
It is slightly winded and rather more panicked that he reached his destination, Rouen, on the Saturday before the start of the course, taking possession of a flat on the same day.

After two nights that did not lend themselves to restful sleep, First Contact was established on the Monday.
More paperwork, though most of it had been filled properly.
The students were sorted into groups. The lack of a Hat and ordinariness of the group names did put a slight damper on what could have been jolly good fun, and the lack of a feast was felt.
What really smarted was the contents of the timetables, which indicated that Tuesdays would start at 6am, in the lab, in uniform. (More on the uniform later.)
Fortunately this would be the only such ungodly day, and all students were granted weekends free of work.
(Though homework was strongly advised.)

After a mostly sleepless night, it was time to wake up, get dressed, go to school, get undressed, put on the uniform, and pretend to be fresh and rested, and Definitely Not One Of The Undead. On the bright side, most people were in the same sorry state. Most people, however, did not enjoy a panic attack. Interestingly, the symptoms were mostly the same as those of gastroenteritis, an old foe. (For the unacquainted: shivers, cold sweat, nausea, and dizziness.)
Thank Om for cold, steady surfaces to grip.  And thank pig-headedness for keeping panic at bay, on the basis that the course had been expensive enough, and none would be missed on the first day, thank you very much.
* *
After a basic presentation of the laboratories (no sign of green bubbly liquids, a real shame)  and processes, we were instructed on the way to make paper cornets, and sent on our merry way to pipe chocolate, the tale of "5 miles to school under the snow and upwards both ways" being that our tutor, as an apprentice, had to cover the workbench with  "Happy Birthday"s small enough to fit a cake, every single day. He recommended that we obtain some chocolate spread and practice at home.
We then graduated to the icing bag, and made pretend éclairs (or attempted to), with margarine. While a good exercise, it is also somewhat revolting.

The rest of the week passed without too much trouble, as the recipes were relatively easy, and included sablés (biscuits), flans and a fruit pie.
We learned some of the technical jargon, some tips and some Stuff You Should Not Do, but the most important lesson is that when you work in those labs for six-hour sessions with a 15 to 20 minutes pause in the middle, you are pretty much shattered by the time you are allowed to go home .

* *

Long story short, and no descriptions of The Works as this isn't a JRR Martin novel, it soon was December, Exams happened, and Exams were passed. No limbs had been lost. Not entirely. A diploma was obtained. There was much rejoicing in the land. And now back to our irregular scheduling.

*Yes, yes, we know.

3 octobre 2013

Feeding the Troops

Last weekend was the Euro Steam Con, a continentwide series of gatherings for like-minded people.

The French edition, in Paris, involved a picnic on the Saturday. Not living there, and with limited access to load-bearing minions at such short notice, the Ministry limited its offer to the public to a Large Bag, which would be filled with biscuits in order to offer as many calories as possible.
Considering how fast they disappeared, despite the doubts of people as to the biscuits really being free of charge or funny substances, people seem to have liked them.

We felt that variety would be better, and six different recipes were used, but the most challenging biscuits were, without a doubt, the product of the ProfessorsFoglio's imagination,
The Mechanicsburg Gingerbread Trilobites.
The gingerbread part was not too difficult, apart from finding Golden Syrup, which can be tricky in France. Once that was found, a slight hurdle remained. Making them into trilobites. Surprisingly, we could not locate a single cookie cutter in that shape. Off to the lab, then.
Step 1) Draw the pattern.
Step 2) Transfer said pattern onto a block of wood.
Step 3) Deeply engrave the lines, here by using a pyrography tool.
Step 4) Using some low melting point plastic, create the stamp itself by rolling the melted plastic onto the design, with as much pressure as possible.
Step 5) Wait for the plastic to cool down before adding the final touches (sanding, smoothing)
Step 6) Make a ring from the same plastic in the proper shape, so the biscuit will be the proper shape and ready to be stamped.

The gingerbread recipe was foundon the BBC website,
We only added a pinch of ground clove, and did not use any icing

Once ready and cool, roll the dough and get cutting and stamping.

This is the only known picture of the Gingerbread Trilobites before their disappearance.

29 juin 2013

From the Drawing Board - 1

"Please excuse the crudity of this model. I didn't have time to build it to scale or paint it."
Dr E.L. Brown.

28 juin 2013

Dubious Research, chapter 2

Tapping Belief.
Christianity appears to have been the most-followed religion on the planet for a long time.
As such, it should probably be our main focus. Once the process has been tested, we may extend it to also cover other religions, allowing access to more Belief.
In 1900, the main religions were:
  1. Christianity
  2. Hinduism
  3. Islam
  4. Buddhism

Belief is often expressed through prayer, a way to communicate with a higher being, or with the universe at large. Let us assume that a properly tuned antenna can receive part of this belief. A way to pick up a certain frequency.
Specially adapted tuning forks could be made to vibrate within the field of Belief.
Quartz crystals are piezo-electric, and generate electricity when under mechanical stress.
This electricity can then be stored in Leyden jars, to be released as bursts whenever required.

Imponderable Fluids

The method relies purely on the reaction of two different materials, one nitrous, the other carbon.
For convenience, we shall stay away from ammonia, and other liquid compounds.
Saltpetre (potassium nitrate) is a common substance, and can be found in powder form.
Graphite, the main component of pencil leads, is made of pure carbon.
To conduct the fluid, we shall use silk threads, as suggested in the patent.

This is where the work becomes interesting, as we cannot easily employ actual human spirit.
The hypothesis is that ghosts are an amalgam of these three elements (Belief, Aether & Spirit).
Our construct does not need to be sentient, it only needs to carry a positive charge.
It should also project the intent behind the intervention. Namely, getting rid of the ghost, and protecting people from it.
During the course of history, many elements have been given protective properties, and we are spoiled for choice. However, the smaller elements would be preferable for practical purposes.
We have chosen:
  • Amber: to drive away demons and protect against insanity. This last part may be quite useful.
  • Amethyst: helps hunters and protects against black magic and negativity.
  • Chalcedony: protecting against nightmares, demons, harmful spirits and mental disorders.
  • Coral: protecting against spells, black magic, and evil.
  • Emerald: enemy of all enchantments, will banish demons, returns negative spells to sender.
  • Garnet: protects from evil, wards off poison, lightning and plague
  • Jet: driving away demons, proof against possession, ward against the Evil Eye.
  • Pearls: driving away demons, protecting against evil
  • Peridot: expelling phantoms, ridding people of their follies.
  • Sapphire: against evil spirits and deceit

(More information can be found from many sources, but we found Gemlore, by Diane Morgan, both instructive and entertaining.)

The stream of combined energies shall be focused through a lens, allowing for a wide dispersion of thin line, depending on the number and size of the entities to be dealt with.

Some of said entities may not disperse, but may only be weakened. Those may need to be contained.

For this purpose, we have designed a trap, mostly based on The Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals by Johannes Trithemius, a 16th century text (or possibly older.)
To its basics were added several of the aforementioned stones, with the addition of a silver mirror under the crystal. Indeed, some cultures think that mirrors and photographs can trap souls. Since those have a common element in silver, it seemed a logical decision. As a power source, we used fulgurite, a stone created by the heat of thunderbolts striking the ground.
A lens was set in the top of the box, to direct to the spirit to the crystal.
As an additional layer of protection, the four sides of the box bear a St Benedict medal, known as the “Devil-chasing medal”, for it carries the Vade Retro Satana formula.
At the bottom of the box is engraved the Seal with which Solomon compelled spirits into a brass vessel.

For extra conductivity, all elements within those parts of the equipment are linked with a twist of three wires made of different metals: iron, copper and brass, all used in magnetic batteries such as Boyd's.