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Archive for the ‘Life intervenes’ Category

For the last two years the focus of pretty well everything I’d been doing has been April the 19th 2018: Exam Day for my Occupational Therapists qualification.

Suddenly Exam Day has come and gone, and I have a couple of shiny new certificates, a sense of anticlimax, and huge pile of revision notes. It’s quite a shock to realise just how much I’d been focusing on this for the last eighteen months or so. It’s also a shock not to have to keep going through these every time I have five minutes to spare:

Those revision notes were extremely important until last week, and now they’re just so much notepaper. I’ve even used a couple for model making experiments.

Anyway, I’ve got a bit of time off, but I’m using a lot of it to get ready for starting work with an organisation helping people with Psychological and addiction issues. I expect that this will leave me pretty tired for the first few weeks, so until things have calmed down a bit and I’m in a routine I’ll leave the ‘serious’ model railways, and work on a stack of simpler projects based around tabletop games and other creative things I’m trying to do with my boys.

I’ll still be posting once a week, but it may look a bit different for a while…

 

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Here’s an idea I’ve been working on for a while but apparently forgot to blog about.

Regular readers will know that I have a habit of making model trains that most people would regard as decidedly obese. This is fine until I then try and run them on tiny layouts with stupidly tight curves, whereupon all kinds of problems ensue. On the current model this has reached the point I can’t pretend it isn’t happening any more so I have to make some changes.

After several minutes of applying the remaining spare brain cell to the problem, two possibilities emerged. The easiest would be to recast the model as an industrial scene, with little locomotives and short wagons. This had a certain appeal, but frankly there are loads of people making these already and doing it with far more skill than I ever hope to have.

Plan ‘B’ would be to downscale. Halve the scale and you have twice the apparent space, well, sort of. If I use the same track and build to British TT scale (1:101.6) for example, the current track would work out at about three foot gauge or metre gauge given my usual optimistic approach to these things. This means I can make a largeish type model without the huge overhangs and ensuing tendency of rolling stock to wallop buildings, scenery and other trains.

While I’m at it, I decided to try making a loco with some of the features of the large diesel, like sloping sides and other frivolous additions that were giving me trouble, on the basis that if I can make them this small I should be able to achieve them in a larger scale.

We shall see where it leads over the next weeks.

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Second set of exams finished. Most of last week was spent revising so not much got done on the model making front, so instead here’s the figure Youngest Son was painting in the previous entry.

There will probably be more of these as figure painting is one way to keep Youngest away from his smart phone. We’re also getting other ideas that don’t immediately relate to model railways, but which we’re having some fun with…

The next set of exams is in about three weeks and I’m on ‘study leave’ until then. Naturally I’ll have to take breaks though, so I suspect some model making will take place. Now and again.

 

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New Year 2018

We have a friend who is an artist, a proper artist who actually knows what he’s doing and earns money and everything. Every year he sends us and a lot of other people a postcard with an ink drawing on it as a new year card, and every year I told myself I’d try and do the same and promptly forgot about it.

This year I finally got myself into gear and drew a sketch of the Wolfstor in Esslingen am Neckar, then inked the lines over several lunch breaks, and possibly in the occasional dull lecture.

Click here to find the mistakes.

Last week we were given notice of about four modular tests, so I’m model making has slowed dramatically while I get on with revising. Still, at least I managed to make a drawing this year. Maybe I’ll remember to make the 2019 sketch before the year changes…

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Even though I’m back in Germany and sitting at my workbench, things are slowing down because of the joy of sending out CV’s to possible employers ready for next April when I finish my course (hooray) but then have to decide what to do with my shiny new qualification.

In theory I have lots of choice because I’m trained to work with people with disabilities and without, but also people with Pscychological Psychological illness and addictions, or in general education in a tech college or a training centre. The reality is that there are dozens of places out there that I could apply to, but only a few actually want anyone, and there’s no central clearing house so I’m having to search very carefully which takes ages. At the moment I’m putting a pin in a map somewhere that looks nice (Personal criteria being “is it outside of the city?” and “Does it have a railway station (Preferably with trains coming more than once a month)” and then searching for “Protected workshop” or “Integration workshop”, or something to do with education.

I’m not complaining as this is kind of a nice situation to be in: I can look for a pleasant place to live and for a job I enjoy, but it takes ages and it is nerve racking because my CV is rather long and rather unusual so people will either love it or chuck it in the bin, and there isn’t a lot I can do to change this. My solution is to say make it the way I want it to look on the possibly rather cocky basis that if they don’t like it, I wouldn’t be happy working for them anyway.

I seem to have collected certificates like model makers collect unmade kits, so I now have a good ten pages worth and that’s with the British ones reduced to A5 size and two a page: when I went to school they seemed to give us a certificate for every subject, which confuses German employers used to see one from your school, and ask why on earth I have a certificate from the ‘Northern examining board’ and also the ‘Southern examining board’. They brighten up when they see ‘Oxford and Cambridge’ but are inevitably disappointed when I explain. On the other hand the carpentry apprenticeship has to be accredited by the state and for some reason I need a separate one from the carpenters guild, and there are four for my machine operators licence alone which seems a bit excessive. But in Germany, I have a Certificate, therefore I am, so I’m not leaving any out.

My German is fluent but not perfect so I need to get it checked, which takes longer and much goodwill from kind friends, and there there are references…

Anyway, the goal is twenty packages, which isn’t cheap but it means I can say I tried, all going off to various places near and far in the hope of landing somewhere where someone wants an Occupational Therapist or carpentry trainer, refugee tutor, theatre coach or museum interpreter. The last one is a long shot I know but here’s a really nice open air museum up in the hills where they demonstrate traditional crafts like carpentry and woodturning.

Ah, for a working day wearing a smock, and making chair legs in a traditional barn…

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So, Middle Son has decided he’s into fingerboards, and wanted to buy a skateboard ramp to use his with.  It looked very expensive for a tacky bit of plastic that would travel thousands of miles on a ship towards its destiny as landfill so I suggested we make one, and to my surprise he was excited at the prospect.

So this week I made a prototype to see if such a thing is possible using card, which he is very excited about:

So there you are. far from being a pointless activity for nerds with no use in the real world, Model making can be helpful in the family, and also Very Cool, apparently.

Any one else have any examples?

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or: Further attempts to get my boys away from a computer….

I was looking through some videos on making walls for my buildings -I’ve never seen any reason not to get ideas from other modelmaking hobbies for use on the railway- and came across this one showing how to make stonework on wargaming boards. Now I’m wondering if this could be a way to get the boys interested in creative building.

At the moment they’re a bit daunted by the scope of model railways: the Eldest Son is interested in stuff like painting and weathering, but finds the whole creative building from scratch a bit overpowering, especially with electrical challenges added. The other two are strategists but could probably get interested in the creative side if the have an idea of what they are doing.

All three love playing strategy games online, and are variously interested in military things, steampunk and anime. Being boys this partly comes with the territory.

For obvious reasons, in a British/Japanese family in Germany, it seems a bit tasteless to do either of the World Wars, so I’ve cut a deal that we could try Napoleonic or Steampunk, or some kind of self-made scenario like Bavaria attacking Württemberg, or possibly something involving orcs.

I have done some wargaming in the past, and my idea was to try skirmish style wargaming using 28mm figures (so I can use them and any scenic materials for 1:55 scale railways if they lose interest) on small boards like the ones suggested towards the end of the video above. This way there’s painting and weathering but not too much, and we can quickly have strategy for the two more interested in gaming.

Now, where do we start? there seem to be books of rules and all kinds of opportunities to spend money. We’ll decline most of these as we can build them, but I’m guessing some people here know what the essentials are, or at least know the right questions to work it out.

Any thoughts welcome…

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