Sunday, January 31, 2016

Topophilia... Sounds strange, feels about right.

I'm hitting the books this weekend, so no documents or sketches tonight. One quote from a book:

"Tuan coined the term topophilia, which is the love of the land and the title of one of geography’s best-selling books." Urban Geography, Kaplan, p. 12

All of my little doodles and plans shows that I have "topophilia". It's interesting to learn new terms and words for things you have already experienced but didn't have a name for. Cool.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Map Inspiration at the Burchfield Penney

I found the greatest art installation at the Burchfield Penney. It is a giant iron book, engraved with images and maps.

Click the images to enlarge.






Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Heart of the City, A Hearth

The heart of any city is the first home, a place around the hearth. I wish I could call this idea a five minute map, but it took me far longer.



This is a neolithic like structure. Starting in the approximate center is the hearth, edged by two ironwood tripods for cooking and swinging spit. Just to the north is the ladder that provides access and egress for smoke from the hearth. Unshown is the roof, which is a flat square platform mounted on 4 posts. From the crossbeams out, the roof is tilted down to provide a channel for the smoke and heat. Sometimes a woven reed curtain is hung from the ceiling to direct the path of smoke.

On the southern and eastern walls are two large tunnels in which the inhabitants use bone tools to mine flint, very much like the builders of Stonehenge. The Pueblo homes that this structure is also based on had special vents to allow the fire to allow air in. In this case, the tunnels are connected to other natural spaces to provide draw for the fire. In front of each tunnel is a low wing wall, colored with black, indigo and red patterns typical to this tribe.

Along the western wall is a large deck for sleeping. It is about 12 inches from the floor and is sloped into the center of the room like the beds at Fort Niagara. This allows people awoken by threats to stand up quickly without the effects of syncope. Although four bedrolls are shown, perhaps as many as a 8-10 people could sleep comfortably, family style.

On the north wall is a nook for cooking supplies and the niche doubles as an altar for the tribe's parton gods and goddesses. Due to the nature of the structure, all valuables in the niche are in plain sight.

The walls are coated in a concoction of chalk and mud to make a brighter living space.

Scale: One Square equals 2.5 feet. The total structure is 40 feet across and 60 feet below ground.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Blue Earth Remembered

I had high hopes for Blue Earth Remembered by Alastair Reynolds. This book is atypical for Reynolds normal interplanetary, interstellar romps. It is based in Africa and revolves around Geoffrey Akinya, desire to be free of his family's business ventures and intrigues. It is not to be so, a death in the family puts a blot on the family name and Geoffrey is off to the moon to clean up and prevent further damage to the clan. 

Geoffrey is in a race against time to prevent is grandmother's secrets from coming to light after her death. 

This novel is refreshing, breaking many of the science fiction tropes that are so common today. Africa is the hotbed of politics, power and science. Family politics puts the crunch on Geoffrey's dreams of studying elephants on Earth. From a very humble start, this novel kicks into high gear the interstellar journeys and technological implications that Alastair Reynolds is known for and thrives on. 

The Martian by Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Year: 2014
Pages: 384
Rating: ★★★★★

This review is a reworking of a 2016 post. 

This is a gripping novel about biologist and astronaut Mark Watney surviving Mars after an accident leaves him alone and stranded. Watney must overcome challenge after challenge, none of which seem contrived to hold on until... What?

No one back home knows Watney is alive, there is no rescue coming. He has supplies for a 50+ day mission for six, machinery that isn't designed to last more than 30 days and no hope. Watney has to make his own way, with only his know-how and the equipment left behind.

Watney comes to us via logs and down to Mars first person narratives, which are heart pounding, humorous and chilling by turns. No hands are waved on this techno-thriller, the story is pack full of details and observations that could right from NASA. No surprise here, Andy Weir is a lifelong programmer for a national laboratory and space enthusiast.  

This was a very interesting read as the premise was to build an engrossing story through the lens of engineering, failure and success. It is very much like the works of Robert Forward however Watney's character is in the driver's seat of the feats of engineering and not the math or the physics. All of the characters live and breathe in the novel where problem solving and engineering are a significant feature and purpose, but not the only one. There is a perfect tagline spoken by the hero: "Let's science the shit out of this", which is very apt.    

Pick up a copy today; Audible, Kindle or Watch on Amazon Prime. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.


2021 update: I have the the hardcopy book and after me and the kids read it, we went to the movies to see it and downloaded the Audible version. In doing that, I realized Andy Weir has a second book names Artemis, which is also excellent. I would expect that one to show up in my Appendix N series soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Spaceship Study

Here are some draft ideas for a spaceship, perhaps a snub fighter. I will ink this one at some point but the design idea was fun verse realistic.

The initial design was rather slight.


A few details that I wanted to look at where the cockpit and shielding for the crew. The movable panels came from details of the drooping nose on the Concorde.


I decided to make the ship beefer. Those rounded rectangles are fuel tanks, not engines. Although parts are rounded, this ship is not aerodynamic. 


Each square is about a meter, so the ship stands 8 meters high. It is loaded out with 14 missiles, a centerline minigun and two large wing tip pods. There are 4 retractable radiators, the items with the 2x3 grids on them.


I hope to revisit this design again with ink, smoother lines and better proportions. This ship would be good in several rule sets like Traveller or Star Frontiers.

Doodles again

A few years ago, I was asked to come up with a new design for a logo. Here is a page from the brainstorming process.



Five Minute Map - Medieval Town 2

This is a second five minute map of a medieval town. It is incomplete, but ready for roads and trails. The old mill to the north west was a last minute thought.



I am not sure what happened to the 5 Minute Map community, but it has been strangely silent for weeks. Time to kick mapping into high gear.


Five Minute Map - Coastal Town

I ran out of steam on this map. In the top corner is a lighthouse, dock and quays. The middle portion is the shipping community itself with large warehouses.

I wonder what is to the south?

click to enlarge
Posted to Five Minute Maps on G+.

Five Minute Map - Medieval Town 1

I have been doing a lot of research on buildings and structures, predominantly focusing on churches and castles. As a result I have a number of sketches and maps.

This map is a basic plan for a small town. Being a 5 minute map, it is rough and incomplete.

Click to enlarge




Sunday, January 10, 2016

Some things children should not hear.

This could be a post over on TheseOldGames.com, but I really thought it could be better addressed here on unpwnd.

Last year, Santa brought use a PlayStation 4. And kicked off my children's adventures in social media and online living. We started slow, a PSN screen name and email address. This year they have moved up to Kindle Fires and Amazon accounts.

I have done my best to teach them what is and is not acceptable online and all three of my kids have done pretty well.

I have not faired so well because I broke the rules. My PSN account name is my real name, which seems innocuous. Until you plug in headphones. Then I hear also sorts of things about my mom, about my game skills, and a slams against everything and anything you could think of. It seems rather personal because it's my name being called out.

I am pretty resilient, but sometimes my head lifts from the pillow and think: "My god, do I suck that bad?" And being resilient, I can laugh it off.

Children can't laugh abuse off and they really shouldn't have to do so. Good parents set their children up in ways that are safe, exciting and bold. Make sure you know what could happen and make sure you are involved enough to help them through difficult times. Don't let them get owned.

In closing, I'll leave it to one of the better gamers there is: Wil Wheaton.



*There are ways to change a PSN account name, but you need to call Sony. Chat does not cut it. To get a new name is non-trivial and annoying which is why I haven't done so. That and it serves as a reminder not to be stupid.

The Research Game - Stave Churches

In my prior post, I began work on a building I could not identify. It turns out that this structure is a stave church from 11-1200 A.D.

I wasn't able to identify it specifically, nor was I able to place it the category of stave church. For some reason, I picture stave churches as having gracefully sloping walls and roofs, like so:

So, I am off to do some research. I have to say my dad, Philip J. Viverito, instilled a quest for knowledge in me. Using the internet, I was able to found some remarkable resources for this project in rather short order. I cannot image how my dad did it back in the 1970's and 80's with only books to work from.

One of the more impressive items I found was a short video filmed in 2000 at Uvdal Stave Church, Nore and Uvdal, Norway.

Not only is the church beautiful, the video itself is excellent. The film was put together by Erik Meyn, and the music was composed and performed by Ulf Meyn. The original publisher was Numedalsnett AS.

Although there is no speaking, this is a wonderful educational resource.

Back into Scale Models

It has been a very long time since I have worked on a model. My dad gave me a couple of his older buildings and I intend to fix them as they haven't held up with children and age. I started with some photos to get an idea of how to start.

Edit - This building is a stave church, which is different from my expectations. I picture stave churches as having graceful sloped components. Now I am off to research more on the topic. Please see my next post.

Front view
(click image to enlarge)
Rear view(click image to enlarge)
Side view(click image to enlarge)

Looking at the damage, I wanted to make a copy first. I took some measurements and sketched out a plan.

Front view
(click image to enlarge)
Side view(click image to enlarge)




I am using I intended to work with balsa wood, but bass wood was the only type available. It is much harder. So using the drawings above, I cut my lengths of wood for the frame and matched them up to the sketch.

Front view
(click image to enlarge)
Side view(click image to enlarge)

And the first problem presented itself. I had measure, sketched, and measured again. The beams are 1/4 inch. I purchased 5/16 inch dowels. That is close, but no cigar.

Since I have a scanner, I quickly ran copies and corrected the sketches.

Front view
(click image to enlarge)
Side view(click image to enlarge)

What I decided was to extend the beams inwards and upwards. Now I have an idea of where to go. 

Tomorrow, I will make a base and start gluing. Look for more updates shortly. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Highlight Reel - It's Baymax Cake

My wife's birthday was a mess. She worked the day before, I had to rush ship her gift and I forgot to order the cake in time for her party. For the gift, I ordered a Baymax hoodie, "How to Fist Bump" from Redbubble.



I found one baker who was game for a simply decorated cake on the day of the party. Just Say Cheesecake on Sheridan Drive, Amherst, NY saved my butt and produced the best cake ever.


The kids all shrieked: "It's BAYMAX CAKE!"

Friday, January 1, 2016

Dramascape at Drivethru RPG

Dramascape is a group of arts and writers producing high quality maps and adventures for use with a variety of gaming systems. Dramascape's most recent offering is Fantasy 6 x 6 Tiles available at Drivethru RPG for the unheard of price of whatever you want. The suggested price is $1.99, which is a great deal on a quality set of tiles.

You can use the pay what you want model to give it a product a try and purchase it later. One of the advantages of using DriveThru RPG is their automatic system to deliver a product as a gift.


After going to checkout, all you need to do is enter your payment information and add the recipient's email address and DriveThru takes care of the rest. What a great way to share the gift of game.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The boys and I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens again.

This time we saw it at AMC.

Nice place, comfy seats. I haven't been to an AMC theater since high school. They are really great. You sit in assigned seats, but you get a choice of location and every seat is a recliner. It made all 2 hours and 19 minutes perfect.