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How Damage Control Became my New Normal

Posted by Tony Padegimas on December 30, 2015

So last I posted, I waxed optimistic about how the damage control phase of my life might be over, and I might be able to actually make forward progress with my life in general and creative projects in particular.

Then my Father-in-law died (from long standing illness) and my Mother-in-law moved into our house literally the next day. This was not a contingency we had seriously prepared for. It just happened. There is all manner of ranting and whining that could follow that revelation, but that is not what I keep this blog for. The relevant information is that I have been forced back into damage control, at least in regards to the day-to-day functioning of my home and family.

Conversely, things are actually starting to look up at work. We have made dramatic improvements to our infrastructure, and I am starting to take on a role that involves more than doing the same thing I’ve done for twenty years.

Rhino Staging, where I serve as Technical Director, values their privacy (in what we refer to internally as the Doctrine of Pointless Secrecy), but I think can safely release a few details:

  • Our new warehouse (easily 3x the size of our old rented facility) and our new office space (easily twice the size as the old) are now finally at the same address for the first time in ten years: 125 W Julie Ave in Tempe
  • I spent a week in Middleton, Wisconsin learning how to install ETC Prodigy and Vortek motorized rigging systems and
  • I am the guy who organizes training for Rhino Tempe – at least by default.
  • I am also the Warehouse Manager of this big new thing – at least until I can train ,my replacement. I don’t mind running a warehouse, but it’s my third stint in that role – so it fails the “something I can’t do in my sleep” test.

The warehouse move is in progress – I’ll note later what we learn from that.

Meanwhile, the Christmas tree is still up, so a few notes on gifts:

  • If you make the mead in February, it will be well over its’ bottle shock by Christmas.
  • Relatedly, drinkers are easier to shop for than non-drinkers.
  • Buy gifts for your kids first. The other adults in your life will cope.
  • Seriously, outside of the very poor, most American adults have more crap than they need or can store anyways. Get them something consumable or expendable, or replace something that’s broken. Shiny new things are for the kids.

My new year’s resolution is for this to be less autobiographical and more informational, but it is a personal blog, so some context is in order on occasion. My other is to try and keep these under 500 words, so in our space remaining:

Ranker’s collection of Weird and Funny Toilets – because its been a while since we’ve visited one of our recurring topics. Completely devoid of location or other relevant details, and likely NSFW.

An excellent guide to Tumblr, posted here because it’s too true just to link to once of FB (or Tumblr for that matter).

And finally, this year’s 11 reasons for hope.

Now you know.

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The Moments of my Balls in the Air

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 22, 2015

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”


My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.


and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:


Now You Know.

Posted in 5 Star Hikes: Sedona & Flagstaff, Hiking, Jack the Giant Killer, Rigging and stagecraft, RPG Rules | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The lead is beneath the mead

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 17, 2015

This is the second day in a row here in Phoenix where the high temperature did not exceed 100 deg F. The worst is finally over, and I think I can start thinking in terms of progress rather than damage control.

So there’s some good news in my life:

I finally bottled last year’s mead.

24 bottles of mead on the ... oh never mind.

24 bottles of mead on the … oh never mind.

If you can’t read it, I call the batch “Haboob” – the Arabic term for a dust storm that has somehow replaced the previous term for dust storm in these parts, which was “dust storm”.

Mead made be better for us than we thought, according to this article from Modern Notion.

And I have signed an honest-to-God book deal for a work of fiction. The Beanstalk and Beyond was accepted by New Link Publishers, and imprint Mystic Publishing.  The terms were fairly low-ball, but they’re fairly new at this, as am I. So I have added a page just for that project, and cleaned up this website because we’re back to being an author’s site now.

Yeah – I buried the lead beneath the mead. Before you chide me, I do no have an editorial deadline yet, much less a release date. I’ll start pushing heavy when I have something to push.

Now you know.

Posted in Freelance Writing announcements, Jack the Giant Killer, Making things | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Check out Fantastical History

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 11, 2015

My other blog where fact meets nonsense:



Ranker lists 37 bizarre toilets from around the world so that I don’t have to


Taken from the article in Deep Sea News

Turns out baby squids struggle with “cute”.

Now you know.

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The Ghosts of History

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 10, 2015

Source: The Ghosts of History

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The Story of my Stroke

Posted by Tony Padegimas on July 3, 2015

I had a stroke, and that has been of interest to a wide variety of parties, so I am recording the essential facts behind that ordeal here in the purely selfish hope of not having to repeat the story a dozen times or more.

Around the end of May, I began to have a persistent, low-grade fever.  It had no other accompanying symptoms other than the fever itself: sweats, chills, loss of energy, but no coughing or congestion. Since I had endured a similar ailment a few months earlier, and beat it after 5-6 days, I soldiered through it for two weeks, hoping I could once again beat it on my own.  I have long been concerned about the growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, which has been attributed to overuse of antibiotics, and I did not wish to be part of that dynamic if I didn’t have ro.

That approach was in error, as shall be detailed shortly.

By week three I had had enough, but I could not arrange an appointment with my primary care physician for yet another week. This is mostly due to not having a primary care physician, and new patients go` to the back of the line.

My wife, meanwhile called my cardiologist (I have a congenital heart murmur – so I have  cardiologist), and they told her I should go to the ER or urgent care and get checked out in case this infection was in my heart.  So off we went to urgent care. This would be Tuesday, June 16. When we get there, however, I was not running a fever. (It has always been intermittent.) So the PA just shrugged, wrote a report that read essentially “could not duplicate problem”, took my $75, and sent us on our way. Immediately after my wife called her primary care doctor to get an appointment for me, but none could be had until June 24.

We bought a thermometer. Every once in a while I’d take my temp. Half the time it would be normal and half the time it would be around a hundred or so. Meanwhile, with work slow for the first time since January, I laid low.

On Tuesday the 23rd I woke up with back pain. This is not unusual, I have had intermittent back problems for years. We now know it’s arthritis. On that day it did not keep me from doing anything, I just walked slowly and carefully. I only mention it because it informs later events.

Wednesday, June 24 I finally make I to Dr. Hawks (the primary care doc), who takes me at my word about my phasing fever, and summarily prescribes a round of  Azithromycin. I did not mention my back, because on that morning it seemed improved over the day before.

Driving home that morning, almost certainly running a fever, I noticed a lack of responsiveness in my left hand. I assumed it was related to my back problem (fever), and was cursing myself for not bringing up my back to Doc Hawks.

We now know this was the stroke. The most common type of stroke, and the one that will dominate your typical stroke web page is a ischemic stroke, the result of plaque build-up in the brain’s blood vessels. That is not the sort of stroke I suffered.

I suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel in the brain leaks for reasons. In my case the culprit was rogue bacteria having misadventures in my bloodstream. The result was some bleeding in the upper right quadrant of my brain which controls specifically operations of my left hand, and the ability to inventory theatrical equipment in hostile environments (seriously, they showed me on a chart).

I didn’t know any of this at the time, of course. I knew something was weird with my hand, and that I probably should not be driving the car I was driving anyway. I made it home anyway, parking the car in the driveway at a 30 degree angle. My son came home a few hours later and informed me that I was done driving for the day.

Stroke, as a causal agent, had yet to occur to any of us yet.

That afternoon my back seized up to the point where I could barely walk. My wife got us a hotel room with a Jacuzzi, which I never used because I was unable at that point to make the journey on foot.  After a painful night, we went to a nearby FastMed, where:

·        They noticed I was running a fever, but backed off of that when I told them my primary had already put me on antibiotics.

·        Thought it strange that my left hand was unresponsive, and did not think it was related to my back at all.

·        Gave me an injection of muscle relaxants.

·        Then my wife noticed my eye was drooping, and the PA put all the pieces together.

An hour later I was admitted to Banner Desert (the closest ER) as a stroke victim.

The underlying condition turned out to be endocarditis, a bacterial infection in my heart. Some part of this had broken off, found its way up into my brain, and caused some bleeding.  This, in turn, degraded the functionality of my left hand, and permanently damaged my ability to do inventory in warehouses that lack temperature control.  I haven’t tested the latter, but I’m pretty confident that this is totally true.

It is Thursday, July 2nd, and I was discharged a few hours ago. I won’t detail my eight days as a guest of Banner Mesa. The highlights include: A full MRI of my head, and a full MRI of my waist and pelvis; regular infusions of antibiotics via IV; 2-3 blood draws per day; a transesophageal echo-cardiogram – which is not as  much fun as it sounds; and yesterday afternoon,  a PICC  line which is a long-term IV inserted into a large artery in my arm, with a tube running nearly to my heart. That’s not as fun as it sounds either.

I learned a few things worth mentioning:

·        If they put the word “stroke” on your chart, you fly through admissions like a carnival ride.

·        My back problems are actually arthritis. It’s that simple.

·        I really do have an anxiety issue with needle sticks that is disproportionate to the actual physical discomfort.

·        Percocet gives me apnea, but the arthritis just melts away.

·        Eight days in a hospital gown will really make you appreciate clothes.

·        Banner’s wifi is an unfunny joke.

·        There exists a DVD of tropical fish antics set to classical music. Banner’s in-house cable dedicates a channel to repeating this DVD, and it will put you right out, no matter how anxious you think you are. Every hotel should have this. (My wife later bought this DVD.)

·        My wife is relentlessly awesome, and was literally by my side for 90% of the ordeal.

The PICC line is so I can continue the IV antibiotic regime at home (which I am doing literally as I write this). I get to do this twice a day at 12 hour intervals [ 8am and 8pm]. It is expected that this will continue for at least six weeks. Assuming nothing else becomes infected.

This means that I am on limited duty as long as this thing is in my arm. It also means I have an appointment with my antibiotics every 12 hours that I absolutely have to keep.

It also means that I am not realistically going on any significant vacation this summer.  So it goes. The blood has largely dissipated from my brain, and I have full function of my left hand again. The thought of counting rigging hardware still makes me dizzy and nauseous, however.

As these things go, I have been very fortunate, not only from the good progress of my recovery, but also, and more importantly, from the unquestioning support of my friends, family and employers. Deep gratitude to one and all.

That’s what happened with my stroke.

Now you know.


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Octopus + Coconut

Posted by Tony Padegimas on June 12, 2015

Longtime followers of this blog might remember that we chronicle the antics of our flexible friends the octopi from time to time.

This is one of those times:


The octopus is apparently using the coconut shell as some sort of portable shelter. Draw your own conclusions.

Posted in Natural History | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Placeholder with links

Posted by Tony Padegimas on December 19, 2014

And not all for this blog either..

For Are We Lost Yet:

Walnut Canyon designations proposals from AZ Daily Sun

Exploring Venus via Blimp


More later.

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Because it is hard…

Posted by Tony Padegimas on November 21, 2014

We have decided to learn Blender not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Also, it is free, and established past the point where it will not suddenly vanish.

It is not, however, well documented. We’ll dump sone links in that regard in a moment.

The hard part of 3D printing does not seem to be the printing. That can be an annoying technical challenge, but I am a technician by trade, so undeterred by that. The hard part – the value-added part – is turning an idea into a useful digital file. There are many applications that can do this, but we have chosen Blender because it is free hard.

Anyhoo – here’s where that process is starting:


That site warns:

Blender is not the kind of software you can launch into and grope about until you find your way. It’s not like exploring an unfamiliar city. It’s more like flying a spaceship. If you hop into the pilot’s seat without knowing the fundamentals, you’ll be lucky to ever get off the ground, and it’d take a miracle for you to reach your destination safely.

Okay then.




I’ll update on this subject once I’ve plowed through this.


Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

3D printing research link dump

Posted by Tony Padegimas on November 18, 2014

I’m looking into getting a 3D printer for reasons, and this is the link dump for that research. Not constructed for public consumption, but you are welcome to come in (in the same way that my storage room is not fit for company, but if you want to poke around while I have it open…)

Today we’re looking at software requirements.


A very basic FAQ site.


and their list of software.

Makerbot’s flowchart:



Wikipedia – because I’m not being graded for this assignment:



Now for some shopping around:


So 2-3 grand for the top name brand models.

Wirde on how SLA beats FFF except when you want to actually buy the thing:


Same model FFF (filament layering) on left. SLA on right.

So let me explain real quick. There are two basic consumer-level 3D printing technology approaches. One is the FFF approach which adds layers of melted filament – essentially a highly precise glue gun. This is fast and cheap but with real limits on the resolution. This is waht most of the consumer level printers use.

The other approach is laser or even photemetric reduction of resin, where lasers, or even specific light melts a volume of resin. This is more expensive, both for the printers and the resin but the results are far superior.


An example of a good laser/resin printer:


(this is a kit – remember, off-the-shelf does not exist yet.)

A review of a highly rated FFF printer for similar money:



So if I’m willing to learn Blender, I can do what I want for $2k,  or  $2.5 k comfortably.

Now you know.

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