What Have We Learned?

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An Irish Link Dump

Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 28, 2016

For  book research and an ongoing quest for  wakeful drunkenness, I researched some Irish things over the past few months, and collect my learning for you here.

History Ireland has a good summary of how beloved old St Patrick was quite likely a crank who is preserved in history because he wrote stuff down.

Patrick—to his fellow bishops, probably in Ireland, who would have seen his activity at close quarters—had gone completely ‘off message’ with his unique vision of himself as the apocalyptic preacher. Yet by answering these anonymous level-headed pastors, the real founders of Irish Christianity, Patrick became the only one who left a name and any account of evangelising in Ireland!



Which, according to The Guardian leads naturally to Irish Coffee:


Wide awake, I kept looking into this.

Christopher Null in Drinkhacker answers What’s the best whiskey for Irish Coffee?

Good question. I sampled all the Irish I had on hand in coffee and it was a tossup between the standard bottlings of Bushmills and Jameson. The only Irish that didn’t work well was Black Bush, which just didn’t play right with the bitterness of the coffee.



Finally, Jim Slaughter of ineedcoffee claims to make the Best Irish Coffee in the World.



For myself, I replaced sugar with honey – as I often do, and was melting in the microwave when I had an realization: coffee, especially fresh coffee, is hot enough to do the job. This worked well enough for me. I use heavy whipping cream when I have it – if not whole milk.

Oh – and honey is bee puke.


Last harps.

In Beanstalk and Beyond, there is, of course, a magic Harp. I fancied I might find something in folklore from which to draw inspiration – or at least some accurate technical detail.

There was something called the Harp of Dahgda, but that wasn’t quite right.


The harp of our story may be inspired by this artifact though.


For some actual facts, I relied upon Harp.com and The Harp Foundation, whose site plays such soothing music that you might pass out no matter how much coffee, Irish or otherwise, you might have had.



Now you know.


Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, Fantastical History, Jack the Giant Killer, Random facts | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Marketing ME! ME! ME!

Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 26, 2016


Actually, I’m not going to market myself here – this very post. This is about marketing in general. And marketing via Blogs in particular.

OK, it is about me, and tonight’s Big, Stupid Question: do I need all these silly blogs that I rarely update anyway? If you care about those blogs, I’ll list them at the end, but first, what other people think – because that’s really kinda the point of the internet.

Julie Neidlinger of the The Coschedule Blog has this advice:

Multiple blogs, in the right circumstances, are a powerful tool that can energize your writing and your blogging success. But multiple blogs, in the wrong circumstances, are devastating to your blogging efforts.

CoscheduleBlog basically exists to sell an app, but they have put an admirable amount of thought into the content.



Darren Rowse of Problogger makes me feel like a nose-picking amatuer with his talk of diversification strategies and workflow optimization.

While you do need to be careful of spreading yourself too thinly (more on this below) multiple blogs has been very beneficial for me and have been one of the main reasons for my own growth of income over the past three years.


Blog Tyrant is more blunt:

Well, to me it seems like the most successful bloggers are ones that focus in on a very specific niche and approach that niche in a way that is really distinctive. {emphasis his}


Blog Tyrant is secretive about his identity – except that he’s not. But it takes four clicks and counting to get to it, and I can’t be bothered. If you want your name cited, use a by-line.

Elegant Themes lists their favorite WordPress management apps.


It’s old (2014) and I don’t use any of these, but I might. So there it is.


5 years ago, Jennifer Mattern was where I’d like to be five years from now. AllIndieWriters is one of several sites she runs (ran? UPDATE: she still has a lot of them).

It sounds like a lot, but when you’re highly organized you can make it work in the long run.



Of more general interest:

Entrepreneur  reposted a good infographic  on optimizing social media:


And Digital World reposted another good infograpic  on the psychology of color.



For my reference as much as anyone else’s – these are my blogs that currently exist:

This one.

Are We Lost Yet


A blog about hiking and writing hiking guides, focusing on the Arizona hikes I have written about in my guidebooks and elsewhere.

Curious Continuity


This is the support blog/website for Curious Continuity, which covers the time travel, time travel fiction, and how the past and the future inform each other.

Fantastical History


Fantastical History covers the intersection of history and myth, and how this informs popular fiction and role-playing games (including my own).

Go Action Fun Time


Not a blog, but a wki-style draft of rules and background material for the RPG of the same name. Probably going to get it’s own WP blog eventually.

Notes from the Meeting


My masthead blog on Tumblr.

Also includes echo blogs of

The 64


A blog about my WIP of the same title.



Now you know.

Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, writing biz | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Tony Padegimas on April 5, 2016

So at long last, I took and passed my long threatened ETCP theatrical rigging certification.

My score was 126 out of 150. Passing was 104. It was all graded on some weird sliding weight scale that I was going to write about – but I don’t care now. I passed. Rejoice and settle wagers accordingly.

All of those standardized tests I took in school turned out to be of some value. (That’s right millennials, standardized testing is not a curse aimed specifically at your generation.) Over 165 questions (of which only 150 are graded – but they’ll never say which) I got to use every one of those sneaky little strategies I learned in grade school.

But what really, really helps, and there is no avoiding this, is knowing what you are doing. Here experience in installing as well as operating systems in multiple venues was invaluable.

Also, I studied.

These were indeed the textbooks I relied on – in order of value:

  • Stage Rigging Handbook (3rd Edition) by Jay O. Glerum. This is THE textbook for operating fly system as an adult who gets paid for it.
  • Rigging Math Made Simple by Delbert L Hall. The link is to the 3rd edition, but the copy I have is the second edition.
  • Entertainment Rigging by Harry Donovan. This is more aimed at arena rigging, but the approach to working load limits is more detailed.

There were a LOT of questions about components of counterweight rigging systems and their use – as one would expect. There were also a LOT of questions about Working Load Limit, as related to Ultimate Breaking Strength and how to calculate one from the other. It is further crucial to understand what resultant force is and how to calculate it.

If in doubt, the weak part in the system is the cable clips. Somebody writing questions had a grudge against cable clips.

Other useful tidbits from my notes:

A useful,  basic math tutorial we found while researching the electrician side:


I like this advice in particular:

When working with any mathematical calculation, don’t just blindly do the calculation and assume it’s correct. When you perform a mathematical calculation, you need to know if the answer is greater than or less than the values given in the problem. Always do a “reality check” to be certain that your answer isn’t nonsense. Even the best of us make mistakes at times, so always examine your answer to make sure it makes sense!


A good, concise (if dry) guide to wire rope and things attached to it:


Breaking strength

The measured force required to actually break the thing. This can only be properly measured by testing, eg applying force until it actually breaks, and writing that number down.

The best source for this information is the manufacturer.   Manufacturers of actual rigging equipment will test a large sample of their items to determine a breaking strength (which is most cases is really a bell curve; the number given is in the center of that curve), and provide that number to the customers – somehow.

That number is the basis for all the other load limit calculations, and why we prefer – nay insist upon – manufactured gear with known breaking strengths to rig with.


Breaking strength is an average for most components, and only applies to new equipment. You must assume used equipment to have a lower BS and downgrade accordingly.


Working Load Limit is the fraction of the known breaking strength used in determining how much we will say the equipment is rated for. We then treat that like it’s a real limit and not a number that we derived from a much higher number that is actually an average of measured results. The specific point of a professional rigger is that WLL’s are rational and enforced.

When riggers say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, they are not speaking metaphorically. That is the literal truth with rigging systems: the lowest WLL of any component (which could literally be chain) in a system determines the WLLL for that entire system.

and one more:

Fleet angle

In a perfect world, all of the lift lines would run true from their head-block and across the loft blocks in a perfect, straight line. The difference between that and what is actually installed is called the fleet angle. It is measured from the center of the sheeves.

The maximum allowable fleet angle for theatrical rigging is 1.5 d.

Fleet angle can be determined by finding the Tangent of the offset distance divided by the distance between shivs. (Be sure to use the same units of measure). [Glerum 102]

As a quick gauge, an offset/distance ration of 1:40 or greater is going to pass. An offset of 1:30 or less is going to fail. Between 30 and 40, you’ll have to do the math.

For those who got this far, I admire your dedication. Do the work – that’s what we learned.

Posted in Rigging and stagecraft | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fifty Facts about here

Posted by Tony Padegimas on February 20, 2016

A You Tube Video:



Now we know.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Deeply Nerdy Things, Natural History, Random facts | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Ghosts of History

Posted by Tony Padegimas on September 10, 2015

Source: The Ghosts of History

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »


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