Monthly Archives: February 2011

Action Figure Work

I know I’ve been kind of AWOL, so really this is just an “I’m still alive” post… I’ve been with doctors more than I’d like on subjects that I’d rather not be talking about (I don’t mean here, I mean to said medical professionals) and leaving the hospital with difficulty being able to hold onto the hope that anything useful is going on. They wanted me to consider talking to a therapist but to be honest, being forced to talk about how it feels to have an extremely painful and physically debilitating disease that has no cure or treatment makes me feel like crap for the next week so I prefer not to do it. Anyway, if I want to have some therapeutic release of what I’m feeling, I’m much more inclined to do it here than in some social worker stranger’s office… but all in all, I’d rather keep any sadness walled off and buried away. Talking about it only pushes it to the foreground, and since it can’t be changed and is an immutable reality, occasionally feeling down about it is a completely normal response that I don’t feel I need to confront.

Tomorrow I’m at the hospital to potentially get physical therapy started, although for now I’m expecting it to go nowhere. The reason for my pessimism is my exercise has to balance on a fine line as too much damages the muscle and accelerates the myopathy, and too little causes atrophy. Thus I need to find someone with specific understanding and given the rarity of this condition I’m not getting my hopes up. I mean, I do hope that I am surprised because it turns out well, but I’ve spent too much time having my hopes dashed to put myself through that again. I am hoping though that at least it may get me one step closer to someone who can help.

Even though I’ve had very little time to work, I have found a few moments to work on my first action figure or poseable toy in which the limbs and head are movable. I have run out of clay though so I have to pick some up before I go any farther, so I don’t have anything terribly interesting to show yet. I also picked up a dozen ultra-cheap 8gb USB drives that I’m going to re-skin with new cases of my own design.

In the good news department Caitlin got me a supercool pair of Guns’n'Roses underwear.


After school Nefarious and I prepped six petri dishes — two each — with nutrient agar and then when it had set we all seeded one with bacteria from our mouths, and the other with bacteria from our armpits. Over the next week we will see what horrible things develop. It’s funny, when I bought the science supplies online, many of the stores selling such thing were paradoxically filled with Christian gear… I suppose that’s a reflection on who does homeschooling in the USA.

You may have already seen it on Caitlin’s blog, but I wanted to share the awesome Valentine’s present that she made me alongside other neat stuff she’s made recently — it’s an 8-bit picture of me! I love it. We’ve got it up as a wall hanging right now (8 bit quilts are the coolest).

Today I spent the morning at the hospital, and I’ll be doing the same tomorrow. It was a difficult day because I haven’t been feeling well — I think in part because every time a step is taken to control the pain and I feel a little better that I get more active, damage my musculature in the process, and then spend a week or two feeling awful as my body struggles to repair the damage — and I hate having to talk about it all in detail when it’s so unpleasant. Definitely some positive things though — I have a referral process for a doctor who’s supposed to be the city’s muscle myopathy wizard which will be very nice if it pans out, and I finally got my permanent “handicapped” parking permit and am now a government-confirmed cripple I guess. This will be nice both because my legs need it, and selfishly because of the convenience in ease of finding a parking spot it offers.

I’m still waiting to get into some sort of qualified physical therapy program though, which is something I really need, because I hate being stuck on this tightrope of choosing muscle atrophy from lack of exercise, or two much exercise destroying the muscle in a way it can’t heal from. In the short term I’ve been considering dropping my weight significantly simply so my legs don’t have as much mass to move (I’m reading The 4-Hour Body right now which has got me thinking on the subject).

Other than that, not much, as you may have guessed from my lack of blogging. I haven’t been able to stand for long — which stops me, for example, from painting — and am ashamed to say that I’ve spent much of the time just resting. I have things I want to work on, but it’s been my experience that if I try and paint or create, the quality of my work suffers greatly because I end up channeling the way I’m feeling into it — and a sort of tired out apathy is not the most profound thing to steep artwork in… Tomorrow after school we’re heading to Sculpture Supply Canada to pick up an order I made a while ago and maybe tempt myself with other goodies. I’m out of silicone and have quite a few things that need casting.

Nefarious and I picked up some square doweling that’s perfect for making doll furniture. I made a chair, and she made a really nice matching table. In addition to making the clothing that the doll in the picture is wearing, she also sewed a really awesome handbag (building on the stitching they teach in Casa — Montessori kindergarten — I imagine). I do like that Caitlin and I are building such an effective DIY-ethic foundation for Nefarious. Because both her parents (her mother having MS) have serious health problems, I worry that she’s going to have to face some very difficult times at a younger age than is fair, so I really want to make sure she has the tools to stand on her feet through anything.

On that medical unpleasantness, I’d asked the doctors about having her genetically tested to see if she has the same disease as me (it is usually, although not always, hereditary), but I’ve been told that is strongly recommended against (a la Huntington’s). Because it’s a condition with no real treatment and no cure, the medical ethics stance is that it doesn’t do a child any good to have that spectre hanging over them, and they also feel that it’s a decision that each patient has to make for themselves (and that only an adult can understand the consequences of the testing). But every single time we go for a walk and Nefarious complains that her legs her, a little tremor of dread shudders through me. I understand why they don’t test children, but it sure would lighten my load to know conclusively that I have not passed this on.

Anyway… I’m enjoying the new season of Survivor, as I have every one since the first, but I’m not enjoying blogging and feel like I’m just going through the motions… I know it’s not very compelling stuff here. This weekend Nefarious is going to visit her grandmother, so maybe Caitlin and I will find some exciting last minute excitement. Just go to the airport and pick somewhere? Tomorrow my pain medication increases, so fingers crossed that lifts me out of this slump.

Boring Weekend Report

Not much of interest to blog about today… Nefarious and I headed out to the bookstore today to get some new stuff to read, having just finished Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Gifts, which started out as a sort of dark coming-of-age story of a boy in a medeival backwater community where people have generally dark and destructive supernatural powers, and him coming to terms with his own, but has a few surprising plot twists at the end that gave us a lot to think about. As well as getting Nefarious a couple more graphic novels — right now she’s reading an adaptation of the Jungle Book — I grabbed Tunnels by Gordon and Williams, and The Cabinet of Wonders (The Kronos Chronicles) which we started tonight. On the radio there was a show (I suspect a paid advertisement) that was talking about diamonds, hosted by some diamond wholesaler. He was talking about what a good investment diamonds are, specifically coloured diamonds. His claim was that diamonds are one of the best long term investments a person can make and that any diamond you bought should be expected to climb dramatically in value. Holy deception! Given that the technology of making artificial diamonds is getting better and better, and it’s pretty safe to assume that it won’t be long before “fake” diamonds are indestinguishable from the “real” thing, and that making the artificial ones will get cheaper and cheaper. After that, the only thing about a diamond that has value is the paper trail of where it was found, and I can’t imagine that scam will last for long. So to me it seems like diamonds one of the worst ways to invest your money. It’s not like diamonds are a precious metal like gold — they’re just a particular arrangement of carbon molecules, and carbon is far from valuable. I wonder how many people will foolishly invest in the $100,000+ stones he was peddling that will, soon enough, be worth no more than any other common pebble.

I didn’t end up working on my paint shelf but I did do a little sculpting. This is the new light switch faceplate, for a double switch, that I’m working on. Below that is “Tippy Pig”, which is Nefarious’s creation that I touched up for her after she sculpted it.

He is of course called “Tippy Pig” because his head is so large that he tends to tip forward onto his face. I gave him a bigger belly to offset his forward CG, but Nefarious got mad at me for messing with her character too much and made me grind his potbelly off again. The only thing that sucks is that it’s so incredibly hot in this studio that the clay can be a little difficult to work with because of how soft it gets.

We also did lots of helicopter flying this weekend.

Not sure what my plans are this week, although two days are committed to hospital visits. I think I may add another appointment though to get my knees xrayed because it feels to me like they’re getting worse quickly, and I don’t have any reason to have joint failure so I’m confused. While I’m whining, it’s getting to be not so fun to do carving with my Dremel, because if I do it for too long, I lose the use of my hand for a couple days as the muscles heal. Wah wah wah.

Allen’s Fingernail Bed Tattoo, Fresh and Healed

With Allen Falkner’s permission, following up on my own fingernail bed tattoo, here are a pair of photos of his similar torment tattoo done late last year both fresh and healed (tattooed by Mike Tidwell). It held surprisingly well, far better than I was predicting, although his advice is to put it in very solidly because some ink was lost… So now I’m thinking that before the nail grows over it I’ll definitely go back to Shane and ask him to hit it a second time to get it as solid as possible.

So, I’m quite thrilled that this is possible and wasn’t just recreational torture!

Friday Sillyness: 666 Fingernail Bed Tattoo

As you know, a while back I slammed my finger in the door of the Mustang (and a ’73 Mach I Mustang has a hell of a heavy door) and for a long time it was black. A few days ago the nail finally fell off and I found myself with only about a half-length nail (click here to see it close-up). Years ago I posted a picture of a fingernail bed tattoo on ModBlog, and more recently Rob posted a picture of Allen Falkner tattooing his. I’m not actually sure if either of these held, but I figured I ought to take the opportunity and try and tattoo mine as well, so today Shane Faulkner of King of Fools did just that.

I used EMLA cream to try and numb the tissue, and while it didn’t completely work, I’m suspecting it helped take the edge off. Either way, it hurt way less than I expected it would. To be honest, wiping it hurt more than the needle, which felt more “strange” than painful. That said, my endorphin response was going nuts from the anticipation of torture. It only took a few seconds so even with more pain I’m sure I would have survived. For aftercare I’ve sprayed it with spray-on bandage (ie. a thin layer of superglue) which I’m hoping will protect it. Still, the safe betting money is on it not surviving.

As a thank-you present I made Shane a skull bowl, casting it in white resin and then filling it with a blood-colored second layer of plastic. I’m waiting for some silicone to come in the mail, but when it finally arrives I’m going to make a really perfect bowl mold. I have a kiln on my dream list and if I do ever get one I’m going to make a series of them out of ceramic. I really need to find someone here in Toronto that wants to manage my online store for me. I’m just so awful at doing reliable fulfillment and then end up feeling horribly guilty for taking so long to send people their stuff.

I probably have to make a new mold from that skull (it’s a teenage Asian girl by the way) anyway, because last night I did an experiment casting in expanding foam and things didn’t go exactly as planned, as you can see — but at least I had the sense to wear gloves this time and not get it all over my skin:

I had high hopes for the material, a self-skinning foam, because I thought I could use it to build the bucket seat for my trike. However, it’s a hard foam, sort of like spray insulation, rather than a soft upholstery or “Nerf” type foam, so it’s not that useful for me. I actually can’t think of anything useful to do with it. I suppose I can use it as filler to stiffen otherwise hollow objects, but I can’t even think of anything that would need that. It does cast quite nicely though, so who knows. Even though that picture above makes it look like a total mess, it still came out alright as you can see below.

My main weekend project is building a shelf for my paints. I’m probably going to make it so it spins, sort of like a small-footprint vertical magazine rack or something. The goal is to have something where all the different paints are easily accessible so I don’t litter the floor with dozens of jars of pain when I’m working on something. But now I’ve got to do a little house cleaning as things have got more than a bit out of hand and I’m risking becoming a murder victim because of it.

PS. I almost forgot the highlight of my day, meeting a baby that was happily amazed at my beard, reaching out to touch it with the most wonderful grin of curiosity. I will spend much time smiling as I remember that moment. You can never go wrong with happy babies.