Thursday, January 09, 2020

One Toe, Two Toes, Three Toes, Broke


As I posted on Facebook on New Years Eve:  I may have the worlds first Scattergories injury (tho others want to claim it as a hockey injury, but really its a much less unique accident while walking while staring at a cell phone injury).


So at 7:30-8ish PM on New Years Eve I was lying down in the guest room of my in-laws house up in Ontario Canada.  I was relaxing and watching a recorded NHL game: Rangers vs my beloved Maple Leafs.  It was close to the end of the second period when my wife texted me from the first floor living room saying the rest of the family was about to start playing Scattergories (one of those word based party games).

Since I had a few minutes to go in the period I decided to watch the rest as I went down stairs.   I got to the 3rd last step when suddenly my feet kicked out from underneath me, my phone went flying, my butt went thumpy thumpy, and I slid down the rest of the stairs to the bottom step.  At which time I took stock of the situation. Most of me felt surprisngly fine, but my right foot hurt.  I slipped off my sock and saw that my middle toe was no longer facing the same direction as the rest of the toes.

To top it off sometime between my foot slipping and me arriving ungracefully at the bottom the Rangers scored on the Leafs.  Literal insult to injury.

So shortly after I got to my feet, my wife drove me to the emergency room of the local hospital.  X-rays confirmed that I indeed had two broken toes. (My first bone break ever - I am so proud) One had a simple crack, the other misshapen one was broken clean in half.  The doctor straightened the middle one, taped me up, and sent me on my way.  He did suggest that I go see an orthopedic surgeon to look at the middle toe.

So we went back to my in-laws house.  The annoying thing was that the emergency room didn't have any orthopedic boots in stock, nor crutches (very small town), so I had to use my hiking boots as a supporting boot.  The next day was New Years Day so I couldn't buy a boot, but fortunately I was able to borrow crutches from my wife's cousin.   So armed with mobility we headed off to complete our plans for New Years Day, which was visiting a photographer friend who wanted to get some portraits of me for his series of beard portraits,

The next day, Thursday, we drive home the 12.5 hours back from Canada.  Once home I booked an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for Monday, and ordered an orthopedic boot off Amazon.  I was soon back in a hobbling but mobile state for the weekend.

The emergency room gave me my x-rays on CD-ROM, so a family doctor friend offered to drop by the house on Friday to take a look at my x-rays for a second opinion.  Once I downloaded a viewer for the images I quickly realized that I actually had a third broken toe.  So the 2nd and 4th toe had cracks, and the third was a clean break.

The orthopedic surgeon looked at my foot on Monday and his first comment was "Yep, you broke 4 toes."   Its a well documented myth that vaccines cause autism, but apparently every time I see a new doctor I break another toe!  After closer examination it was determined that the 4th "break" was likely an old injury, or an x-ray smudge.

Never been more relieved to only have 3 broken toes!

So surgery was booked for Wednesday (yesterday). 

For surgery prep I was basically told to keep my foot elevated at all times, to reduce swelling.  This basically means I spent a couple days lying on the couch and lying in bed.  Before this I was able to go downstairs to my studio basement and get some creativity in.  Staying still has been a challenge.

So the surgery was pretty simple, and pretty unremarkable as things go. I left the house at 9:30, and returned at 2:30.  I was under general anesthetic for about an hour. 

The surgery was to have a pin inserted into my middle toe to keep it stable to give the bone a change to heal cleanly.  However it also means I am basically not allowed to put any weight on my right foot,  and keep it elevated as much as humanly possible.

Annoyingly I am actually less mobile that I was before the surgery.  This is actually mentally very hard to deal with. Previously I could get into my studio and be creative, and do things.  Now I am stuck upstairs, and really limited to the bed or the couch. 

I  described it to my wife as it feels like the exact opposite of depression.  When I was having depression episodes I had all the desire to go do things, my flesh was willing, but I couldn't get up the mental energy to actually get off the couch to go do it. 

Now I want to go do things,  and I have all the mental energy and desire to go do them, but my flesh is keeping me on the couch.

The one benefit of having depression is that I am more aware of how things affect my mood, so I can deal with the mental stresses much better than I otherwise would have - yay for emotional intelligence!

So for now I am taking a couple days off work while I am on post-op pain meds.  Then I will be working from home for at least a week.  I have a follow up appointment next Wednesday to see how I am doing, and whether the doctor will allow me to go to work, or at least go downstairs to my studio.

Until then, its bed rest for me!

And thus ends the story of my 3 broken toes.


Saturday, December 07, 2019

3D Busts

So lately I have been getting into painting models.  These are the results of my current projects, which are busts of science fiction characters.  These are the finished products:

 These busts start out as models printed on the 3D Printers in the Makerspace at work.  It takes about 20 to 24 hours to print a full bust, which are 6-8 inches tall.
 The colour of the plastic changes, as you can see, Thanos' plastic being being black, and Batman's being the odd (for him) shade of white.

Fortunately these models came out of the printer without needing much cleanup, so I was able to jump straight to the paint stage.

All of the busts are painted with spray paint.  I started with laying down a layer of primer, then the appropriate colours for the character.   I wanted to go with a metallic look, so I primarily used metallic paint.

Once I had the base coat down, I masked off the model using the appropriately named masking tape.  I wanted to give the impression of a coloured metal, not a painted figure. However there isn't a shade of metallic paint in the shade I wanted (at least in the store I was in) so I lightly dusted the figures with normal colour paint, which allows the metallic finishes to still shine through.

This shot is pre-painted.

This is how it looked with the paint applied.
 Finally the magical reveal when the masking tape is removed.

The finished product.

The following shots are the finished model of Batman.  I used fleckstone paint for the base.
 I wanted an aged weathered look for the Stormtrooper helmet.
 Thanos was trickier to do. The armour is simple gold paint.  However the face was trickier.  When picking out the spray paint in the store, I tried to match his skin colour with images on my phone.  I (and my wife, who was helping with the colour choice) thought grape would be the closest fit.

Turns out grape coloured paint makes him look like, not shockingly, a grape.  To lessen the effect I dusted on some peach colour, and finally a light dusting of metallic paint to get a skin tone that more closely matches the character.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

3D Printed Skull

While I love toy photography, one of the frustrating things about it is finding props and other things that are at the proper scale for my action figures. Recently I have discovered that I, along with a maker space I have access to via my employer, have the ability to create some of my own props.

One of my recent projects is a skull.  I have often wanted a good looking scaled skull, so I decided to make one.

This is the finished result.

The skull started out life as a long filament of 1.75mm grey plastic.    I printed it off on the magical machine that is the 3D printer in the maker space.  Despite being pretty small (1/6 scale), it took 2.5 hours to print, so its handy I can do it at work between meetings, and while waiting for code to compile.
 3D printers, at least the ones I have access to, work by laying down a thin layer of hot plastic, then once its done the first layer it shifts up a smidge and starts on the next layer, slowly building up the model. It is your basic future tech in the present.  We never got our promised jet packs and flying cars, but we got machines that can print objects out of nothing.  I think we got the better end of the deal.

When a model has holes and overhangs, the 3D printer will automatically add brims and supports, and infills, to ensure the plastic doesn't distort while it cools.   This is why the print above looks so funny - it is full of supports.

So the next step is to remove those supports.  Took about 15 minutes to remove them all, and then sand down some rough spots.  The "cleaned up" model looked like this.
 At this point I had a mini human skull, but it was an unrealistic and unphotogenic grey plastic colour.  Its off to the paints!

I started by spray painting on some primer (which, ironically, made the model even more grey).  I then covered the entire skull in a bone-white-ish colour using acrylic paint and a brush.
The painted skill is at least the right colour, but its still lacks character, so I used a series of black and brown paint washes to age up the skull, until I got it to look the way envisioned.
Isn't it amazing what a bit of plastic and paint can produce?

My skull is complete.  Now I just need an idea for a photo to use it in.  If you have ideas, let me know in the comments below.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Scavenger Hunt Round 26: Welcome To Oz

These are my entries for the 26th round of the Scavenger Hunt.  It was a bit of an unusual round as I won the last time, and therefore was a judge this round. This means I wasn't eligible for the competition this time around (conflicts of interest and all).  However I was still able to have work in the reveal albums, which is the best part anyway.

These are the images I came up with:

Courage

What else are teddy bears for than to defend us from monsters while we sleep?  Thanks to my daughter for modeling as the sleeping child.
Coward
One of two shots taken at Moses Cone on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thanks to @harri.hawk for lending me the Jason figure.
Curtain

A lover watching his love shower, or a creepy stalker.  You decide! (for the record I was going for the lover bit)
Home

There ain't no place like home (and by home I mean sewer). I made the sewer grate on the Glowforge at work.
Monkey

Hit-Monkey is a little known Marvel character.  I decided to go back in time to Round 23 to resurrect my comic book cover theme for this one.
Rainbow

Even tough guys have a tender side.
Road

The second shot to come from Moses Cone.  I built the road out of LEGO.  Really fun to make and shoot.
Selective Colour

The tricky thing about words like this is that the picture can be anything. So I decided to find the most interesting action figure I hadn't shot yet and make that my Selective Colour.  This is the awesome samurai themed line of figures from Bandai.
 Sepia

Again, the image could be anything, so its hard to narrow down ideas.  I decided to shoot one of my first figures I got as an adult, Optimus Prime, but have never shot, and put him in an interesting scene. The Very Large Array, often used for SETI also makes a good background for the transformers, who are trying to get back to their home planet.
Wizard

This may be slightly autobiographical.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Swiss Chronicles: Trümmelbach falls

During my recent Swiss adventures I visted Trümmelbach falls. These falls are unique due being located inside a mountain.  

 There is actually a series of falls, all inside a mountain and accessible via tunnels and stairs built both on the outside and inside of the mountain.

Trümmelbach falls is located in the valley of Lauterbrunnen.  Since Lauterbrunnen was J R R Tolkiens inspiration for Rivendell, it would not surprise me if these falls served as the inspiration for the Mines of Moria (tho I have no reason to believe this is true - it just reminded me of Moria).

See what I mean?

The power of the falls is quite intense.  Each one would be a tourist draw in and of itself. 10 in a row is quite spectacular.  You can sense the power in the falling water, and I visited at a pretty dry time of year where glacier runoff (the source of the falls) was not at peak.

I could also envision Gollum crawling over these rocks.

Some of the stairs were quite long.  This one is at least 2 storeys worth of stairs, all at once.

This is the pool at the top of the falls (at least at the top of the tunnel system). It is a long way back from here.
So that is Trümmelbach falls.  If you are every in the region, this is a must-stop destination.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The Swiss Chronicles: Lauterbrunnen

Go back in time 10 weeks with your minds eye when I was talking to my co-worker Joel about our upcoming trip to Switzerland, and imagine the look on my face when he mentioned that there is a valley that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien to create Rivendell, the valley of the elves.

Do you have that mental picture of my face?

If it was complete joy, you know me well.  Congratulations! (if you thought otherwise, we have some bonding to do).

During that trip to Switzerland, just a few shorts days ago, I went to that valley. Yep, I visited Rivendell (tho the locals call it Lauterbrunnen).
Lauterbrunnen is a valley in the Alps known for its waterfalls, and one of the highest peaks in Europe.  Some of these waterfalls allow one to climb up behind them.  At least one is actually contained inside a mountain (but thats next post, this is about the outside stuff).
One of the first things we did (we, cause there was 4 of us) was climb up a steep hill, through a tunnel, and walk behind the waterfall.  If you look up and then down in this post you will see the start and ending point of this adventure.
 One of the things I love about wandering thru Swiss countrysides is that there are cows everywhere.  They all (mostly) have bells around their necks (so farmers can locate em on the mountainside) and often paths go right by their fields.   It gives the whole country a folksy "down on the farm" feel.
 Since it is October, and the climate is quite cool - high in the low 60s - I was quite surprised to see that there were a lot of flowers in full bloom in the valley. 

 This cow became my friend.  I call her Ermine The Devine Bovine.
 Since I knew I was going to visit Rivendell, I brought along a Gandalf action figure.  I took this shot while crossing a creek:
My creative muse complete, we went to the place where the waterfall falls inside the mountain (yeah, I know, next post!) then kept moving down the valley.

We then took a cable car up the mountain to a nice town at its peak, where the views were spectacular.
 I particularly enjoyed how the peaks caused the clouds to form interesting and unique shapes that one doesn't see a lot of in my home country.
 We finished off our day of hiking with a nice beer on a patio overlooking some of the most spectacular mountains I have ever seen.
After this we took a train back to Zurich.  Another awesome adventure in the books.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The Swiss Chronicles: Feelin' The Bern

Disclaimer:  This post has nothing to do with US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, nor his (I presume) crazy relative, Colonel Sanders.

During the past few weeks I have been in Switzerland for work.  During the week I was based in Zurich, but during the weekend I was free to wander and roam. 

I have been to Switzerland a couple times now, and had explored around Zurich a fair bit, so this time I decided to cast my net a little farther away and check out the city of Bern.

This is the view that greeted me when I got off the train.

Bern is an old looking city.  Partly because (and you may find this shocking), it is old. However some old cities modernize over time, while Bern has maintained its old timey charms, with lots of old architecture, statues, and Stormtroopers.
 So I spent the morning walking the ancient streets, and looking around at the swiss-y things.  Naturally, being an avid and experienced photographer, I didn't take many pictures, but this view inspired me.  I bet you can guess why.
 I did have a goal for this trip, which was to see the Barengraben... which is where the Bernists graben the baren (naturally).

So the official animal of Bern is the noble bear.  Since the days of yore (not sure when, but many moons ago... like a large number of moons... a bakers dozen of a bakers dozen at least) they have kept bears (the baren) in a pit (the graben) at the edge of town. 

So I made my way that direction, got to the pit, and saw... nothing.  No baren.  The graben was barren of baren.

Disappointment set in, and I looked about in vain.  Was I too late?  Did the bears go to bear heaven?  I was full of questions, but no answers. However there was a river, so I went to sit beside it and contemplate the situation.
 The river held no answers, so I left to ask a hamburger. 

But before I did I went back to the graben to find it remained bare of bears.  So I went to chew on a cow.

As I chewed I did some research and learned that (of course) the bears hibernate in winter, and often went to sleep for the season in October or November.  This being October, it was possible the bears were simply napping.

However when I was done chewing, I went back to the graben and found, much to my delight, that the bears were graben'd! 
 Yay!

I stayed to watch the baren for a while, then started my way back up the historic streets to the train station to go back to the hotel.  I remembered to take a photo this time.  It looked like this.

I kept on going, when suddenly I got run over by climate change.

More specifically, a march to (I presume, I don't speak swiss German), encourage reform to help stop climate change.

It turns out Bern is the nations capitol, so the good earth lovin' Swiss folk descended on the city to encourage the leadership to stop being capitalist ass-hats and do something to help the earth, instead of their own wallets, for a change.

I joined in and marched for a bit, cause it seems worth it to have a place to live that isn't melted.

After a bit, when my feet threatened to disown me from all the walking, I finally headed to the train station and went back to Zurich.

Thus ended my trip to Bern.