Archive for February, 2018

A Ship’s Oven

I know it has been forever since I last shared a blog with my fans.  We did visit Vegas with friends and family and there were lots of items that I could have written about but as they say “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”

We came home and recovered but I since then we both have developed colds.  This is going rampant in the community.

Lying around all day feeling pathetic.  One day Pat did not even get out of her PJs but lay on the couch watching Olympics with the fire on and mostly napping.  I am no better (although I did put clothes on)  Absolutely no desire to do anything.  The very thought of going down to the shop to work on the model as versus lying on the couch reading books seemed ridiculous.

I mean what is the whole point of making a model of a ship that was destroyed more than 300 years ago? It seems pointless (this is the cloudy cold mind process)  Why not just lay there hoping for a better life or death.

But I dragged myself down and took on a special project.  The Brodie Stove for the model.  Now this is an interesting component.

When you realize that these warships had anywhere from 200 to 800 crew how did they feed them?

In 1750 a guy named Brodie developed an Iron stove that fit between the decks in the forecastle of Royal Navy vessels.  It was innovative and every warship for the next 150 years had a variation.  It had kettles and little ovens and a series of spits on the front for roasting the salt beef or pork.  Basically an oven with compartments that made soup and boiled water and had an open hearth.  In the exhaust chimney was a fan driven by the rising heat that turned a gear that ran through a pulley and another pulley to turn the spit of the roasting pig.  Freeing up the cooks to work on other things.

Anyway I have added a Brodie stove in all the British warships I have built in the last 20 years (Andra and Kelly you can peek in through the fore gunports of your models and see it)  I grant you that this is a detail that no one will ever see, but like treenails, it is my style.

So sick as I was I went down and worked on the Brodie stove for the frigate I am building and I think I did a good job.  Apparently even with a cold, there is a purpose in life.  Maybe I will live on.



As I have mentioned, I am taking a course on Cosmology (the study of the Universe) at North Island College.

Now I took lots of physics classes in my life starting in high school and on into University.  I am an Engineer.  And I kind of thought I had a handle on this whole package.  Gravity, photons, neutrons and galaxies but I am finding out that I knew very little.

So there we have a class of about 24 seniors (70 percent women) taking a class where the professor is introducing us to concepts that would make Sheldon on the TV program sweat.

( I may exaggerate a bit).

But Joel tells it in such an interesting manner that we are all fascinated.  It is only the second class but he is showing us things that I never knew before, or did not question.

You would think looking around our group that half would drop out but everyone is hanging on and talking about his classes.  Lots of questions flowing back and forth.

Did you know that light is made of particles called photons that have mass?  That is why light can be bent by gravity and explains why infra red light stopped at your skin turns into heat.

Did you know how we can determine the makeup of the molecular elements of a sun 100 million light years away.  How do you know that a galaxy is heading towards us or away and how do you determine its speed?  And the big question that we are waiting for is where did the Big Bang originate.  We already know it occurred 13.9 billion years ago, but where?  And what was there before?

This may sound like a special class for nerds but it shows that a good teacher can keep everyone interested.  He even makes Newton’s law of gravity understandable (well acceptable anyway)

Love it.

Tooth Fairy

I am sitting in the basement working on the model.  I have a TV going on in the upper left corner.  Lots of CSI programs and baseball in the summer but Olympics now.

I can work away at laying an interior plank on the hull and look up occasionally as I hand-clamp the piece for a minute or so and look up at the TV.

There is a repeating ad from Pizza Hut showing the Tooth Fairy (pretty nice looking female fairy in blue) struggling over whether she should replace a tooth under the pillow with a $5 bill, or save it to buy a pizza.  The fairy makes the choice to go to Pizza Hut and leaves the tooth.

Okay, suspend belief, but when did a lost tooth become $5?   When I was a kid at best I got a nickle (granted Blaine was a little kid and whined a lot so he would get a dime) but that was the going rate from the tooth fairy.

Our kids were growing up and were spewing out teeth all the time and the tooth fairy brought them a quarter.  I thought at the time it was ridiculous inflation, but that was the times.

If it was $5 per tooth from the fairy when we were kids, I would have knocked out all my little brother’s teeth and split the proceeds with him.

I have three great nephews Oliver, Noah and Charles that will in the next few years come into the teeth rewards.

When next I see them I will offer to pre-purchase their baby teeth, because this is an investment that far exceeds the rate on savings bonds.  I just have to distract Ryan and Corrie during the negotiations.


As many of you know, Pat and I are taking classes to develop our knowledge.  For instance I am taking a course at North Island University on Cosmology the study of the Universe.  Pat is taking a course on solving cryptic crosswords. And this is is getting crazy because every time she is not washing my underwear and socks and clothing, she is working at crazy crosswords.

Granted this is from a guy that goes into the basement and makes little tiny wooden nails to fix planks on ship models from 1790.   So OK

Today Pat went off for a course on how to make sandwiches.  I mean how complicated can this be?  Two pieces of bread, a bit of butter on each and put stuff inside.  I have been doing this for 65 years.  Now Pat has always told me that I do not butter to the edge,  but lets face it the sandwich tastes the same.

This course was how to make the fancy sandwiches that you get served at the expensive High Tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.  Apparently an involved process with absolutely no peanut butter.

Pat is enthused and looking forward to presenting these gems at a future family event.

Old Magazines in a Doctor’s office

Yesterday I drove Pat to our doctor’s clinic to have a minor procedure.  I sat in the reception area, waiting as we were going shopping later.

Now I should have followed the lessons I learned when James and I would go to the hospital (for his many incidents) in the past…. bring a book.

I remember in Calgary in 1987 when we were living in Calgary and James fell from a shelf in the garage bringing down camping equipment and obviously broke his arm in many places. By happen chance Pat and I were talking to a neighbor in the garage and we saw him fall.  Obvious when James stood up that his arm had a zig zag pattern.

James looked at it and I looked at it and I said “well I guess we have to go to the hospital”.  Meantime the neighbor was freaking out looking at the injury.

Both James and I went into the house to pick up a book each because we knew this was going to take a long time.

Drove to the Rocky View hospital emergency and it did take forever.  I think part of the delay was because James and I were sitting in the waiting room with his arm broken in 4 places but both of us reading books so the nurses picked people screaming about inflamed zits before calling James in.

He was there for a week and I had to bring him many more books.    In any event I should have learned this lesson and brought a book while I awaited Pat at the clinic.  But I thought the inventory of magazines in the waiting room would suffice.

I went through the pile of magazines and there was not much.  Health gurus and flower arrangements and decorating.  Not even an old Readers digest.  Then I found a Canadian Geographic.

Sat there reading it with all the articles and it was interesting but it finally started to occur to me that they seemed a little dated.  Talking about future events.

I looked back to the spine on the magazine.  Canadian Geographic from July 1998.  Every comic that tells stories about old magazines in the doctor’s office came back to me.

As Pat reminded me afterwords,  I should have learned my lesson from many years ago and brought a book.  I will do that in the future.

My Cosmology Class

When I retired I thought I would go back to school and take classes.  I always liked school.  But life got in the way.

However in the last few years Pat and I have signed up for the local Elder College classes at the local University (VINU).  These courses are on a wide variety of subjects and taught by either interested amateurs or retired professors.  A typical course is 8 sessions each 2 1/2 hours but with no tests or marks just learning.

Last term I took a class on the Solar system by a retired science Professor named Joel.  Now he would have been the teacher that you would love to have when in University.  Interesting, enthusiastic and filled with the joy of teaching.  How could be a dull physics class on the planets turned out to be fascinating.

This term I am taking his course on Cosmology which is the study of the Universe.  Yahdda Yahdda you think you know, Big Bang… galaxies and telescopes.  I thought I knew this stuff but from the first class he is taking us (24 seniors) on a mind experience.

First of all is the size.  If you take the orbit of our Earth around the sun (roughly circular) it is 300 million km in diameter.  If you shrink that orbit down to the size of a head of a pin than the Milky Way Galaxy is the size of Canada.  It holds 200 billion stars and is just a normal galaxy.  At best on Earth with the naked eye we can only see 4000 stars.

There are estimated over a billion galaxies, some bigger and some smaller.  Most of them moving away from us but some coming towards us.  Okay so it is big.

Then there is the speed of light.  We all know that it is about 1 billion km per hour.  Pretty fast.  But here is what makes your brain hurt.

Light coming from galaxies that are travelling away from us at near light speed the light arrives here at 1 billion km per hour.  Those galaxies that are coming towards us at high speed the light arrives at 1 billion km per hour.  The wave frequency changes but not the speed.

Okay let us think of this in our normal life.  You are sitting on a cart and a Blue Jay pitcher throws a fast ball at 100 mph at your chest.  Fortunately you are on a cart that takes you away at 50 mph so you know you will get hit at 50 mph by the ball and it will hurt but okay.  Now pretend you are on the same cart heading towards him and now the impact is 150 mph and you may not live.

But not with the speed of light.

Weird.  And this was just the first class in what Joel promises to be mind blowing.

Exciting times… well relatively…. get it ????

My Next Model Themis

I have not written much about the model that I have been working on for the last year.  It is a Royal Navy Frigate from 1790.

Now you may think that I have done this before.  My Amazon Class 32 gun is the HMS Juno (which is the one I keep in the great room) is a frigate from this period.  Then I made the larger 38 gun HMS Diana which rests in the living room of Kelly and Dave.

Last year I discovered a new author of 4 books about the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic wars.  Turns out the author Sean Russel lives here in the Comox valley.  Good books.

So I decided to make a model of the fictional frigate Themis he used in the series.  The author learned about my project and has kept in contact sending me details on the Pallas frigates (an obscure class from the 1780s) that he used for the books.  It is a fictional ship but I have tried to follow the dimensions but using the plans that I have from previous models.

I have done this before.  The 74 gun Sutherland that I built for my brother-in-law is based on a fictional ship in the Hornblower series.

Themis is apparently the goddess of divine law, normally shown with a set of scales judging fairness.  Not sure how I am going to carve her for the figurehead.

Anyway Sean Russel is coming over this weekend to see the progress on the model.

I am progressing.  The first picture is the main deck framing.  Now this is a detail that will never be seen.  In kit models this is replicated with a sheet of plywood.  After all it is covered by deck planking.  I also include a picture of the gratings and the capstan.  I am getting really good at this detail.

And a picture of Themis.  Any advice on how I can do these scales when they are about 3 mm high??