Does everybody know what time it is?

Tool Time!

In the course of working on our proton packs I got to learn a few new skills and I thought I’d do a little write-up on some of it. I’ll try to explain what all these tools are useful for in case they’re new to you.

Dixon Reach Marker– This is probably my favorite new tool that I’ve found in a long time. I found out about them when Adam Savage used a similar marker in one of his Tested videos. The one he used was Pica brand but I came across the Dixon brand which I was able to buy at my local Lowe’s for a little over $3. As you can see from the picture this marker has a long thin metal shaft housing the felt tip marker. It’s great for poking down through drilled holes to mark whatever you happen to be attaching something to. Before finding this marker I’d use nails to poke down through the hole and try to make a little scratch to mark the placement. The marker is much quicker and less frustrating. They make them in pencil versions also!

Irwin Countersink Bits– These are for cutting out a cone-shaped recess over a pre-drilled hole. The head of the screw sits down in the cone so that it’s flush with the surface of the wood or whatever you happen to be drilling into. I never really felt like anything I’ve worked on called for countersunk screws so I never bought any bits for it. Then when we were working on the proton pack we realized the v-hook had dimples on the back and would need to be countersunk so it could sit flush against the thrower. I love excuses to buy new tools so we picked up this Irwin set at Lowe’s and soon had a perfectly flush v-hook. Now that I’ve used them I want to countersink all the screws.

General Automatic Center Punch– I can’t say exactly how I came across this but I wish I’d found it years ago. It puts little divots into the material so that your drill bit has a place to catch onto instead of skittering around. It was especially helpful when I had to drill into curved surfaces like the booster tube on the proton pack. I marked where the booster frame needed to be mounted with my handy Dixon marker then I used the center punch to make a little divot in the PVC and I was able to drill without any difficulty. That being said, I do have a tough time triggering the mechanism. It can be adjusted to use more or less force but even on the wimpiest setting I struggled a bit. I think it’s because of the way it has to be held. You have to hold it in a clinched fist and press down. There are other brands that have a bulb or a large flattened area on the end so you can press down with your palm, utilizing a more natural downward force. I think those would probably work better especially if you’re doing a lot of punching. I could try using something like Apoxie Sculpt to make a bulb for the end of mine.

Irwin Hanson Tap Set– Tapping tools are used for cutting threads into drilled holes so screws or bolts can be inserted. Tapping was another thing I just never had a reason to do before working on the proton packs. I was a little intimidated because it seemed like something that’d be easy to mess up but it’s actually really simple. Just go slow and if it feels like it’s getting caught, back it up a little then slowly try again. We had to thread several parts because there was just no other way to attach them so I got lots of practice. Now I can confidently declare “I’d tap that!”.

I Sing the Song of Evernote

I’ve been using Evernote for a few months now and holy crap it makes staying organized so much easier. I started out using it for my sewing patterns. I realized the need for an indexing system after several incidents of bringing home my new patterns only to discover I already purchased some of them the last time they were on sale (99 cent patterns, yo). I like to refer to these as my “patterns so nice I bought ’em twice”. In some cases thrice. So yeah, that was a problem.

My solution was to make an index on my site so I’d have a list along with a photo of all my patterns. I actually did document a bunch of my patterns which, as of this writing, you can still access under my Other heading. I have them organized by type such as: pants, skirts, swimsuits, etc. So some patterns are listed more than once if they have different articles of clothing in the same pattern. I also made note of which box I had them stored in, the pattern company and whether they were for men, women or children. This was just as tedious as it sounds like it’d be. I had to photograph the front and back of each pattern, take them into photoshop and combine them into one image, upload them all and post them to my index. It got tiresome pretty quickly and I never completed it.

I revisited the problem later and laid out what I wanted in my solution:

  1. Ability to search for keywords and pattern numbers
  2. Accessibility from my phone
  3. Large, clear pictures of pattern envelope so I can get yardages

So with my requirements in mind I started Googling how other people manage their pattern hoards. Enter Evernote. I read several reviews and it sounded like what I was looking for but best of all, it was free. I downloaded it and got busy testing it. I uploaded a few patterns and started working out a system. Each pattern company has its own Notebook and each pattern is a single Note. I use the pattern number(s) for the title being sure to include any alternate pattern numbers they may have. For example, the patterns out on displays will have a different number than the ones in the pattern drawer even though it’s the same pattern. Also, some patterns have been re-released under new numbers so I try to account for all that.

Evernote also lets you tag Notes. I tag my patterns for their intended wearers: men, women, children and pets along with more specific tags like design elements or franchise names (GoT, Star Wars etc.). The documentation can be time-consuming but now when I want to pull a pattern with a bubble skirt or look over all my Lord of The Rings patterns I can do it quickly on my computer. It beats spending 20 minutes pawing through a bunch of boxes looking at each pattern until I find the one I want. I also moved my patterns to clear drawers separated by company to compliment the new indexing system. Now since I know exactly what pattern number I’m looking for and what drawer it’ll be in, all I have to do is thumb through until I find the number. Two minutes, tops.

Of course, I still don’t have them all uploaded. When I buy new patterns I make sure to document them before putting them away. When patterns are current the company usually has lots of large, clear images of the pattern envelope and sample garments so it’s just a matter of pasting them in and tagging them. Older patterns can be a chore. Quality images may not be available online so I have to take them myself. Even that isn’t too bad because I can take them with my phone in the Evernote app directly in their Note.

Now for the irksome bits. As you can see in my screenshot, the snippet view panel on the left shows a thumbnail of an image in each Note. You may have noticed that one of the thumbnails is of the back of the envelope instead of the front like the rest. This is because Evernote won’t let you designate a thumbnail image for each Note. Instead, the program selects the largest image and automatically uses that for the thumbnail. So far I haven’t found any way to override this. To try to circumvent it I look for the largest images I can find of the front of the envelope and I crop the image of the back of the envelope via the annotate feature. That brings me to another gripe. Sometimes when I’m using the annotate feature to crop an image it’ll ignore my selection and crop everything except a tiny square in the upper left corner. It works perfectly on some images then it decides to butcher others. They’re all .jpg files so I’m not sure what causes it but it refuses to properly crop certain images no matter how many times I try. Weird.

Lastly, and this isn’t really a complaint but something you want to be aware of, there is a monthly upload limit. I started out with the free version and because I was uploading a lot of large images I hit the 60MB limit pretty quickly. The Premium version is $7.99/month and you get 10GB of monthly uploads. I’ve never managed to hit the limit since I’ve had the Premium version.

Also costuming-related, I have Notes for costumes I plan to make. Evernote can clip from the internet so if I come across a good tutorial or a piece of information about a particular costume I can just put it in Evernote instead of bookmarking it on my browser and eventually forgetting it ever existed. Then when I get ready to make a costume I can just pull up all the research I’ve done and have it in one place. Convenience ftw!

In conclusion, if you’re like me and you make poor life choices such as having a staggering amount of sewing patterns, Evernote will be your best friend.


I’m being extremely productive. Yep.

I Am A: True Neutral Human Ranger (4th Level)

Ability Scores:







True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter’s dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger’s Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Where I’ve been

Holy bat spam, Batman! I had over 500 spam comments waiting for me when I logged in. I don’t understand what that’s supposed to accomplish, it’s not like I’m going to approve them or click on them. It does waste my time though so if that’s the goal then, congratulations, mission accomplished.

Other than deleting massive amounts of spam I’ve been keeping pretty busy. I’m doing some freelance graphic design for a series of archeological papers, sewing a pirate shirt and coat and I’m getting ready for a huge yard sale. I decided to put all my mix and match bookcases in the yard sale and do lazy built-ins instead. I bought tracks that run nearly from ceiling to floor so I can fill the entire wall with books. It will be glorious to behold. I have my tracks in place and I’ve already finished two shelves. I’ll have to go back to Lowe’s for more supplies before I can continue. I’m painting them the same color as the walls to help with the “built-in” appearance so it takes a little time. I got impatient at one point and used my blow dryer to speed the paint drying process along on the brackets. I’ll post a picture once they’re done.

We’ve ordered more plaster bandages to give the alginate headcast one last shot. If it doesn’t work out this time I’m going to go with Body Double Silicone for the next try. It’ll be expensive but hopefully easier for Ken to use since it can be applied in layers unlike the alginate. Fingers crossed for the alginate!

Craft room fix

I spent nearly the entire day rearranging my craft room. I think it was worth it. Now there’s a big open space in the middle with nothing but the table I do my cutting and such on. It’s a 72″ buffet table that I’ve used for years. Today I added casters to it. Now I can roll it where I need it and I have the added benefit of it being a little taller. Crouching over it to cut pattern pieces should be a little less painful now.

I also added about 15 more patterns to the pattern index. I’ve almost finished 3 boxes now. Yay!