Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Great Resource!

Hey! Wanted to check in to report a website I've stumbled upon that I'd like to share with the followers here.

Great for you if you are job hunting, searching or are struggling in your current career!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

About Brian Fleming

Brian Fleming is the author of Poked and Prodded, Protect Whom? and multiple short stories. His writing reflects the complexities of human nature and motivations.

Brian Fleming lives a comfortable life in the midwest. With an interest in English, science, math, music and art, Brian's novels reflect a variety of character occupations and social controversies.

He's always interested in hearing feedback from readers and fellow writers. 

Please e-mail him at flemwriter@gmail.com.

Brian Fleming's Published Works:

Debut Fiction Novel Published!

Protect Whom?

Adam Sharpe must lead his team to unravel a string of gruesome murders in Bensen, a quant farming community in Colorado. The residents of Bensen, led by their charismatic mayor Aaron Schwimmer, attempt to close the case without FBI intervention. The Bensenites’ determination to catch the local serial killer they’ve dubbed “The Midnight Murderer” devolves into a deadly witch-hunt. Sharpe and his BAU team must step in to reinstate law and order. Unfortunately, the reveal of marital infidelity and the unraveling of Sharpe’s sanity threaten to both derail the Bensen investigation and Sharpe’s personal life.

When Brian Fleming, an introverted husband and high school English teacher with chest pains, goes to his family doctor, he unknowingly begins a long, embarrassing, and painful medical journey. After recovery, the tables are turned. Brian's wife and high school sweetheart, Nina Fleming, requires life-altering surgery, forcing Brian to work through his narcissism and self-deprecation to find pride in his family and himself.

In Poked and Prodded- A Medical Memoir, Brian battles with pain, fevers, introversion, and doubt through self-deprecating humor. He tries desperately to get the answer to the age old question, "What's wrong with me, Doc?" Through test after test, Brian comes closer to finding his answer. Throughout his ordeal, his faithful wife, Nina is by his side as cheerleader, therapist, and soul mate. Upon recovery, Brian is required to try his hand at being a supportive spouse as Nina goes under the knife. At times, Brian is successful. At times he's not. But by the end of Poked and Prodded- A Medical Memoir, Brian achieves perfection, at least, in his eyes.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

In the Footsteps of the Greats...

Here it is! My performance of "First Date". Thank you Cary Trivanovich for the inspiration!

In the following scene, Jack, a nervous teenager, will go on his first date to the movie theaters.
-Background music is from DCI Blast.

Thus completes my August goal (giving a mime performance for an national audience). You, my viewers are making this goal a reality.

Thank you.

Let me know what you think of the performance!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Mime Time

In the last week, I've made some serious tweaks to my osage orange wood bow, all for the better. Now my bow's handle is made from hemp cord wrapped in duct tape. Yup, duct tape. Not only does the tape offer more protection against splitting at the handle, but it's also more comfortable to hold than the cordage. Another change I made was I replaced the braided bow string with one strand of retractable dog leash. The dog leash cord is amazing stuff. Not only does it have a considerably higher breaking point than the cord I was using, but it also more comfortable for my shooting fingers, less blisters is good news!

But now, it is time to move on. Time to begin my mime training. Remember, there was a point in 7th grade where I wanted to become a professional mime. This passion for miming was inspired by one man: Cary Trivanovich. Holy crap. This guy was amazing. As soon as I got home, I tried copying some of his moves. I attempted to walk my invisible dog, I tried to walk in place, I even braved falling to the floor in slow motion. I was going to be a mime, gosh darn-it. I convinced my parents that night to buy a few mime technique books from Amazon.

In a few days, I got the books and continued my adolescent training. But, like all of these life passions I'm redoing, my passion for miming fizzled out within a few short weeks. The mime books were put on a bookshelf, never to be looked at again. The miming techniques forgotten...

Until today. Starting today, I'm bringing back out my mime persona for one final performance. One last performance to bring closure to my miming attempt.

You may be asking, "Why miming? Aren't mimes those people with white painted faces who always get picked on in music and film?" My answer to you is that miming as an art form exists in every form of public performance. Miming, in its essence, is telling a story only through the use of body movements and facial expressions. With that definition, basically every public performance uses elements of miming. And, if you were wondering, no, I'm not going to paint my face white. No need. The mimes I will be emulating don't have painted faces.

The mimes I will be studying are both inspirations, each in their own unique way.
Mime number one: Charlie Chaplin
 Arguably the first famous mime, Charlie Chaplin created and subsequently revolutionized what it meant to be a silent performer. With his quirky body movements and facial expressions, Charlie Chaplin commanded the rapt attention of his audiences, young and old. Haven't seen Charlie in action? You're in luck! I've posted one of his funniest movies below:

Mime number two: Cary Trivanovich
 The mime who inspired me. Cary now does public performances at schools all over the United States, inspiring students, just as he inspired me more than ten years ago. Check him out!

And so the miming training begins again!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July Goal Reached, Life Lessons Learned

I did it! I shot a bulls-eye from 15 yards away, using my homemade osage orange archery bow, but more than this, I have learned a few valuable life lessons.

However, before I get into what I learned, let me show you the process of shooting that wonderful bulls-eye. First, I had to repair my broken bow. To be perfectly honest, when my bow broke a few days ago, I was ready to throw in the towel. I couldn't see a way around the two pieces of fractured osage orange wood staves staring back up at me. Fortunately, my new archery colleague and friend, Guy, wasn't ready to let me give up so easily. He wrote me a long e-mail (which I posted in the last post). This e-mail gave me the motivation and encouragement I needed to get myself up, wipe off my bruised ego, and get going again.

So yesterday, I set a challenging goal. Not only was I going to fix my bow, I was also going to shoot my bulls-eye. Some people have asked me, "Why the rush to shoot your bulls-eye? After all, aren't there two more weeks left in July?" And to these people I reply, "I have to reach my goal early this month because my job as an English teacher will be starting back up in a month. I have to start rededicating my time to teaching preparations." Maybe once I retire in 40 years or so, I can dedicate four wonderful weeks to days of peaceful archery shooting...

But back to yesterday. To fix my bow, I had to address two major problems; the first being the stiffness of my bow limbs. To give the bow more flexibility (which it needed in order to prevent my bow cord from snapping), I whittled out both bow limbs more. This took about an hour, but when I was finished, I was pleased with the results. Second hurdle to fix: attaching the two separate bow limbs together. Previously, I had tried using a whole syringe full of Gorilla Glue epoxy. And while this epoxy had added strength, the smell of it had been difficult to deal with. Because of this, I decided to just use my extra bow string to wrap the two bow limbs together. This is all my bow needed. After wrapping the bow into one complete unit, it was finished. I added my braided bow string and was ready to begin my July challenge.

In my backyard, I measured out 15 yards from my back fence and set up my target. At first, my target was the large cardboard box all of my archery supplies had come in from Amazon. My bulls-eye was the tape in between the large "U" on the right and the fine print on the left. I walked to my firing location and cocked my first arrow. The bow string snapped. Quickly, I reattached the string. I pulled the bow to full draw length, my fingers touching my chin. When, whap! The string snapped again, causing me to basically punch myself in the cheek. Oww. It was beginning to look like I would never get a shot off. Rubbing my cheek, I had an idea. I decided to restring the bow, but very loosely. Most of the time, archers loosely string a bow only during a process called tillering, in which they measure and check the curvature of their bow. Very unconventional of me to string my completed bow so loosely.

Slowly, carefully, I shot my first arrow of the day. It flew a whooping five yards before skiddering across the dead grass. I picked the arrow up and tried again. And again. And again. The arrow shot 5 yards, 6 yards, 7 yards, less than half of the distance to my target. But with each shot, I grew more and more confident in my bow. I began aiming higher and higher, pulling back further and further on the bow string each time. 11 yards. 14 yards. 16 yards. 15 yards. Finally, I was consistently within a yard of my target. And, after a particularly well-aimed shot, I struck the target. I nearly cried with joy. Just hitting my target, after the hours and hours put into this bow, was amazing. I considered stopping my challenge there and just declare hitting the cardboard anywhere as a bulls-eye. But, I knew doing this would just be a diservice to myself.

So, I kept shooting. Slowly, blisters began forming on my right hand, specifically on my index finger and middle finger. The fingers that had the dual job of pulling back the bow string while keeping the arrow notched on the string. Eventually, these blisters popped. My fingers were on fire, every time I pulled back that bow string. But I kept going. Eventually, the pain became numbness. With my numb fingers, I kept shooting, slowly improving on my accuracy. About this time, I decided to remove the cardboard and shoot directly into the dog cage where the bulls-eye had been. I decided this would be a more rewarding bulls-eye to shoot into.
As the second hour of shooting crept by, I started believing I wouldn't be able to reach my goal. It was getting harder and harder for me to pull back on the bow string with my numb fingers. My arms were getting more sunburned with every minute. My time was running out. I'll be honest, it was at this point I started closing my eyes right after releasing a shot. I couldn't bare to see the arrow miss the target anymore. One shot landed very close to the front of the cage. I got excited. If I just aim a bit higher...I raised my bow, aiming just an inch higher. I loosed my arrow and shut my eyes tight. A split-second later, I heard a wonderful sound. The sound of rattling metal. I opened my eyes and was dumbfounded. Perfect bulls-eye. Amazing. Wonderful. Beautiful. The arrow had shot dead bulls-eye, six squares from the left, right, and top of the cage. Exactly where my previous bulls-eye had been. I probably stared at this arrow for a full five minutes before I snapped this picture. I can't do justice to the overwhelming feeling of relief that continued to flood over me. I had done it. I could stop shooting now. I packed up my bow, arrow, and target cage, went inside, and crashed on my couch, completely drained.

And so ends my July goal. Complete. This is not to say that I will stop shooting. Indeed, I plan to loose a few arrows today. But, there won't be the insane monomaniac drive to nail a bulls-eye in order to feel success. Which brings my train-of-thought around to the life lessons I learned yesterday. I hope they make sense when I type them here, as they were so clear in my mind as I loosed shot after shot.

Life lesson #1: Using inadequate tools and knowledge will never lead to consistant success. Sure, I shot a bulls-eye yesterday, but I'm not fooling myself. I will probably never be able to repeat that success, ever, with the bow and arrow I am using now. My bulls-eye was just as much of a fluke as it was precision and power. If I repeated that same shot, with the same aim and power, I would bet money I could never get a bulls-eye again. This may sound pessimistic, but it is the truth. My homemade bow works, but just barely. It does the job, but not very well. And what it lacks in precision, I have to make up with repetition, repetition, repetition. This truth, that inadequate tools and knowledge lead to inadequate success holds true in other areas of life. Without the right equipment in cooking, welding, auto mechanics, fishing, sports, etc., true success is barely attainable. If it is attained, pure luck played a hand in it. This realization changes my outlook on life. It explains one reason why I never had success in my childhood pursuits. I never used the correct tools, I never had enough knowledge, to bring the success that so evaded me.

Life lesson #2: Success is determined by effort, not goals. I finally understand why some of my students beam with pride when get a C minus on their math test. They worked dang hard for this grade, probably more hard than the student who consistently earns A pluses on his math tests. For them, a C minus feels so amazing. The work that went into that grade makes everything worth it. Success is determined by effort. I would rather have a student feel good about their work than a student who got an A without even trying. I can relate through my archery. I will never be able to compete with professional archers. Indeed, I have a few friends here in Nebraska who go archery hunting. I haven't shown my bow to them. Compared to their $500 dollar hunting compound bows, my loose stringed longbow is a joke. But, the amazing feeling of pride, relief, and pure excitement they feel when they take down a huge buck from 40 yards away I can now relate to, for I felt the same when I nailed my bulls-eye from only 15 yards away. This explains why people not as good in a hobby, sport, activity, job, or performance keep playing, working, building, and performing, even if they are not the best. Their goals, their successes are different. Yes, the goals are on a lower caliber, but they work just as hard to achieve them.

Does this make sense to you? Do you agree with my life lessons? I'd love to hear what you have to say about success and dedication. What are your goals in your work, hobbies, or your life in general? If you don't have any goals, create some and share them below in a comment to this post.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Comprehensive Guide to Bow Making

Here it is folks, Guy Taylor, the man behind Greenman Archery has provided me an excellent, comprehensive guide to bow making. He has generously allowed me to post his advice to me here. Happy reading! 

"Tim Baker is a leader in the art of wood bowyery (is that a word?). Way back not that many years ago when everyone was using compounds and only a few people were using fiberglass laminated traditional bows, Tim was beginning to learn how to make wood bows.

Wood bows used to be all there were. Then fiberglass came along and it changed the archery world. But now a lot of people like you and I are becoming interested in the wood bow again. Forward, into the past!

Tim Baker is one of the principal authors of the Traditional Bowyers Bible series of books. One of the things he really loves to do is to introduce new people into making their own wood bows. To do this he likes to use an easily available piece of wood: a red oak board from Home Depot, or Lowe's. He's written a couple sheets on how to make the bow. Here are links to them:

I am including both of these links in the chance that there may be slight differences that could help explain some point or another.The most important thing for making this bow is to get a good board. Follow Tim's instructions for choosing a board with the right grain. If the grain isn't good, the bow stands a very low chance for success.

Second most important is good tiller. Tiller is getting the two limbs to bend evenly along their length and evenly to one another.

Your trimming plane will work for making this bow but it will take a while longer due to the small amounts of wood that it will remove with each pass. If you can get ahold of a spoke shave you may find it more useful. I've seen Tim make a bow in 30 minutes using a spoke shave on a red oak board. He's a professional, don't try to go that fast yourself. Take your time. It's easy to take wood off but it's develish difficult to put it back on.

The osage billets you got could probably have made a good bow but they would have been for someone far more advanced than where you are at now. They should have been glued together with a Z-splice and appropriate glue. This older thread on PaleoPlanet shows the complete process. He began with billets just like you did: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/15498

Reading that thread you'll also see how he chases the back of the bow so there is one single growth ring along the whole back from one end to the other. This is absolutely critical with osage orange, if it's not done the bow is guaranteed to fail. I'm guessing here but I think you may not have known about that. No shame in not knowing, you are starting in a virtual bowmaking knowledge vaccum.

If you go through with this red oak bow you'll eventually need a bowstring so you can begin bending the limbs and ultimately shoot the bow. Let me know when you need it and I'll be happy to make one and send it to you. I'll make one with a loop on one end and a bowyer's knot on the other. Using the bowyer's knot allows you to adjust the length of the string as the bow progresses and then use the string for everyday use when the bow is finished".  

Thanks again, Guy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Broken Bow = Unsure Future

Quick Warning- This will be a short blog post.

I have the unfortunate job of typing here that my archery bow, only three days old, died today. Here is a picture of the bow in its broken state. *Cue funeral music

Mr. Archery Bow only got off one great shot before meeting its end. After having continued troubles with its main cord, the bow re-split into its two separate wood parts. It is very unlikely that I'll be able to salvage these wood parts for another archery bow.

So, I'm looking at a solid brick wall right now. A serious impasse. I don't know how I will achieve my goal for this month of shooting a bulls-eye from 15 yards.

I'd love some suggestions for what I should do at this point. Here are the requirements:

Goal: Shoot an arrow into a target's bulls-eye from 15 yards away.
Supplies: Two 35" osage orange wood planks
Money: Very little, I spend most of my money set aside for this project on the supplies needed to build this bow

How can I reach my archery goal?

Three Day Free Sale- Poked and Prodded

Hey everyone! It's been a few days, but in this time I have been entertaining lots of different family members. I haven't had too much time to shoot off very many practice arrows. So my goal of hitting a bulls-eye from 15 yards away has been put on hold momentarily.

However, in other news, my medical memoir, Poked and Prodded, is entering a special marketing discount starting on Saturday. For Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, you'll be able to download Poked and Prodded for your Kindle or any other electronic reader (including your computer), for free! That's right, for free! I'm very excited about this (if you can't already tell).

If you don't know anything about my book, here is its official blurb:
Poked and Prodded- A Humorous Medical Memoir

When Brian Fleming, an introverted husband and high school English teacher with chest pains, goes to his family doctor, he unknowingly begins a long, embarrassing, and painful medical journey. After recovery, the tables are turned. Brian's wife and high school sweetheart, Nina Fleming, requires life-altering surgery, forcing Brian to work through his narcissism and self-deprecation to find pride in his family and himself.
In Poked and Prodded- A Humorous Medical Memoir, Brian battles with pain, fevers, introversion, and doubt through self-deprecating humor. He tries desperately to get the answer to the age old question, "What's wrong with me, Doc?" Through test after test, Brian comes closer to finding his answer. Throughout his ordeal, his faithful wife, Nina is by his side as cheerleader, therapist, and soul mate. Upon recovery, Brian is required to try his hand at being a supportive spouse as Nina goes under the knife. At times, Brian is successful. At times he's not. But by the end of Poked and Prodded- A Medical Memoir, Brian achieves perfection, at least, in his eyes.

Try it out, there's nothing to lose! =]

Just use the following Amazon link to download your copy today! Poked and Prodded

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Amazon Orders, Whittling 2.0, Advanced Woodworking Techniques, and a Finished Bow

First off, a shout-out to Amazon.com. Living in the mid-west puts me at a significant disadvantage as far as hobby supplies are concerned. Living in a town of 20,000 limits my archery shopping options. Amazon has been a life saver. Through Amazon, I have been able to pick up all of the necessary supplies to build my own archery bow.

Oh, how is the process coming along? I'm finished, finished with making my own osage orange archery bow. Take a look:

My bow stands at an impressive 60 inches. The handle of the bow is wrapped in cord and held together with gorilla glue- epoxy.

I started with two separate 35 inch osage orange wood staves. At first, I just whittled away at the wood staves with a simple kitchen knife. It wasn't easy.

Check it out. To the right is a picture of the wood that resulted from over two hours of repetitive, finger numbing whittling. For two hours work, this isn't a lot of progress. So, in order to finish my bow in time and without developing carpal tunnel syndrome, I had to develop a faster, more effective system for cutting the wood.

After some thought, I figured it out. In our backyard is a beautiful deck. I decided to use this deck to my advantage. Using car tie down straps and ratchets, I held my osage orange wood stave in place. With my trusty, durable, freakin' sharp, kitchen knife, I began slicing into the wood. This wouldn't have been possible without a hammer to drive the knife down. I'm not going to lie, this was a challenging process; but, after only 30 minutes, I had my second 35" osage orange bow stave cut down to size. 30 minutes! It took over six hours to reach this same point with the traditional whittling process.

I've learned a lesson through this. When possible, use a more advanced technique to complete a process. It may take a little more time up front to set up the process, but you will save time in the long run. Think about this in your own life. What hobbies, crafts, or projects are you knee deep in right now? Is there any way you could be more efficient? Any time-saving techniques you could employ? Try it out! I hope it saves you time and energy!

Tomorrow, I will be taking better pictures of my bow, as well as take my first real shots from it. I already have my arrow all set up for the practice shooting. I've attached a cord to my arrow. When I shoot my arrow, I am hopeful that the attached string will keep the arrow in a safe distance. Because safety is of number one importance to me in archery.

Safety was driven home in my mind from my very first shot from a bow. I remember, very clearly, being told, "archery can be just as dangerous as shooting a gun." It's true. Tomorrow, I will be shooting a thin, metal-tipped hard piece of wood at a rapid speed toward a tiny target. With the power of the bow, my arrow becomes dangerous. I don't want to put anyone or anything in danger of getting hurt. So, the string attached to the arrow (which I have already tested) will act as a safety tether for my arrow. With this safety system in place, I feel confident enough to begin practicing tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Life Lesson Through Woodworking

I've been thinking a lot about my whittling/woodworking experience yesterday. Though I'm probably only about halfway through whittling out my archery bow, I've grown to love the process of whittling. There is something strangely cathartic about striking a piece of wood with a sharp knife, over and over again, taking off one tiny sliver of wood at a time. I'm learning a life lesson from this process. If you don't mind, I'd like a second of your time to explain my epiphany here.
My light bulb realization-
Mastery takes hard work, painstakingly slow, often painful, hard work. To be good at anything, to accomplish anything of value takes pain, time and dedication. This may sound simple enough, but truly think about it. I'll use myself as an example. All of my life, I've tried to avoid confrontations; but not just with people, with activities as well. This explains why I never reach my goals in my hobbies. As soon as the going gets too hard, I quit and switch over to something easier; choosing short term pleasure over long term gain. Explains why I've struggled at becoming a successful author. I'm always such in a rush to publish something, the quality and quantity of my published works suffer.

Poked and Prodded- A Humorous Medical Memoir
Sure, I've had moderate success with my only fully finished book- Poked and Prodded, but that is only after I took the time with it to do the necessary revisions, rewrites, and edits which brought the story to the standards it should have been at when I first published it. Now, after putting in the difficult work I should have put into it before publishing, Poked and Prodded is a book I am proud to promote and sell. But from start to its finished state took over three months, not including the time it took to write it! Mastery takes hard work. A type of hard work that takes slow precision and dedication to the craft. A type of hard work that has never come naturally to me.

Starting today, I'm going to switch my focus. Instead of driving for short term goals and rewards, I will be shooting for longer lasting, harder to achieve, long term goals and rewards. This is not to say I am going to stop my year long challenge. I will continue reaching my monthly goals. However, I will not take the easy, fast routes to achieve these goals. I will work through the pain and work through the seemingly impossible hard work to achieve my goals. This may mean that some of my goals I will not be able to reach, but I am okay with that, because I will have proven something much more valuable to living a successful life. Mastery is more important than short term rewards.

Mastery is painful. Mastery is hard. Mastery is not easy. Mastery causes problems. Mastery seems impossible, at times. But mastery is worth all of this. When you see your finished product exceed your wildest expectations in the marketplace, when you achieve the highest prize in your field, when you know your best work is shown, seen, and shared by others, the feeling of utter jubilation and pride you experience is unmatched by any short term reward.

So shoot for mastery. Endure the pain. Push on. And one day, you will look back and decide:

it was all worth it.
Life Through Our Eyes

-And so, in the spirit of pursuing the long term, I will be removing the first part of Life Through Our Eyes from Amazon on Monday. I know now that it will be better to wait to reveal Life Through Our Eyes until I am completely finished writing, editing, revising, and rewriting it to perfection. I don't know when this will be, but I know that when Life Through Our Eyes is published again, I will be proud of it.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making My Bow and A Three Day Free Sale!

I had a few hours of free time today. What did I decide to do? First, I've published the first installment of Life Through Our Eyes
Life Through Our Eyes
Starting tomorrow, Friday, you can download the first 33 pages of Life Through Our Eyes for Free!
Please, try it out. There's nothing to lose. Well, except for the one hour you will spend reading the first few chapters. I won't be able to refund you that hour, unless someone invents time travel by then. Hey, it's possible.

Second, I started work creating my bow. Unfortunately, I haven't received the wood plater I ordered from Amazon yet, so I had to improvise. Today, I worked on whittling down the osage orange wood stave using a kitchen knife. Let me pause here to say I know whittling out an archery bow with a kitchen knife is unconventional. But I was excited to get started today, even if that meant being unconventional. But don't worry, I was safe.

Wood whittling rule #1: Always cut away from your body. Always. Always. Always. Whittling is a type of cutting that uses a substantial force, and slips are common. That's why you must always cut away from your body and your hands. A single slip could lead to a bad cut or worse. So unless you don't mind potentially cutting off your fingers, cut away from your body. 

Want to see how far I got on my bow today? Mind you, I whittled tirelessly for about five hours straight and this is what I have to show for it:

Ta-da! Yea, okay, it's not that impressive. Especially considering this picture makes my half-whittled bow look like a skinny toothpick. 

I can't wait for my wood planer to come in.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Brief Writing Digression

I've had fun in the last two days telling people about my upcoming experiment to build my own archery bow. Unfortunately, I can't start that process until everything I have ordered from Amazon and Ebay come in. To my best estimation, all of my supplies should come in by Wednesday of next week. What am I going to this week then?

I've finished my robotics project.
I'm waiting to start the archery project.
Time to write.

This week, I'll have three full days, starting tomorrow, to write to my heart's content. Woo!
Now, I do want to pause my passion for this upcoming writing project to confront some previous words I've posted on this blog. Earlier this month, I said I wasn't going to write anymore this summer for money. Well, I'm going to bend this rule slightly. I have a Y.A. novel bouncing around my mind that just needs to be written. If I can get it done in time, in these next three days, I will be posting it on the Amazon Kindle store.

I'll give you a sneak peak at the cover of my yet-to-be-written Y.A. novel:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Resources for Archery Bow Making

In my research, I've stumbled across many great resources. I'd like to share them here:
*Ordered from general information to specific instructions
http://www.vintageprojects.com/archery-plans.html- Cool vintage blueprints for bow making
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Bow-and-Arrow- A simple description, but clear, nevertheless
http://www.ehow.com/how_4910235_make-archery-bows.html?ref=Track2&utm_source=ask- Another simple guide
http://www.3riversarchery.com/selfbows.asp-Much more in-depth and specific instructions
http://web.mac.com/paleotool/Paleotool/Bow_Making.html- building a bow with osage orange wood
http://www.buildyourownbow.com/splitting-an-osage-log-into-bow-staves/- explains how to cut and shape osage orange wood

Additional Resources:
http://www.vintageprojects.com/archery/Flatbow-plans.pdf- Vintage self-bow plans
http://www.3riversarchery.com/Primitives+Primitive+Bows+%26+Kits++Hickory+Flatbow+Self+Bow+Kit_c13_s189_p0_i7051_product.html- A whole self-bow kit for purchase

I'd like to now add PaleoPlanet.net, thanks to Mr. Taylor! Additionally, he suggests the books: The Bent Stick and volumes I and IV of The Traditional Bowyers Bible.

Making My Own Archery Bow

In the last post, I discussed the various types of archery bows. In this summarization, I explained that I would probably either be buying a longbow or a junior bow. Well...
I didn't do either.

I'm not going to buy a longbow.
I'm not going to buy a junior bow.

What I am going to do is build my own archery bow. Yup, true story. Building my own bow offers two great advantages. First, my bow will be a one-of-a-kind work of art. And second, I will be saving hundreds of dollars.

My only experience with archery  was my one month interest during my 6th grade year. My only experience with woodworking is...never. This should be interesting. In order to create an archery bow, I will have to shape a long piece of wood, string a bow string, and notch the bow correctly to launch arrows accurately, consistently, and reliably. Easy...right?

First I have to buy a wood stave. Which is a precut, straight wood plank perfect for making an archery bow with. Search on Ebay...place bid...watch nervously...buy wood stave. With this process complete, I will be receiving two 35" osage orange wood staves.
Next, I must purchase all of the other required elements for a bow and arrow set. This includes a wood planer, hemp cord, Gorilla Glue, and a single arrow. Why such a weird assortment of products? Allow me to explain. The wood planer is crucial to shape my plank of osage orange wood. The hemp cord? Will act as my bow string. Hemp cord is an excellent choice for a bow string because it has a very high breaking point (48lbs.) and is comparatively cheap. The Gorilla Glue? Essential for keeping the bow string on the bow, especially when fully drawn. But, what's with the single arrow? Well, as it turns out, arrows are so expensive!

Let me reiterate that, just in case you skipped over the last sentence. Arrows are so expensive! I thought the bow would blow my budget, but as it turns out, arrows are equally capable of breaking the bank. Crazy. So bear that in mind if you are looking to start getting into archery. Bows are expensive. Arrows are expensive. Archery, in general, is expensive. Simple as that.

*What other hobbies do you enjoy that are expensive? What is the most costly part of your hobby? How much money do you think you have spent on your passions so far?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Finding the Right Bow

July goal- Shoot a bull's-eye consistently with an arrow from 15 yards away.

I know, I know, it's still June. Why am I already starting on my July goal? In order to begin working on this goal at the start of July, I have to get my hands on an archery bow before July starts. This is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

Turns out that like electronics, archery is an expensive hobby. Money, money, money. Why can I be interested in hobbies that doen't cost much? Maybe I should get into cleaning or mastering video games. Surely those hobbies would be less expensive in the long run. But, I'm not interested in those. I'm passionate about archery. Passionate about accomplishing my childhood goals in archery, to be specific  Allow me to explain the three main types of bows:

First, there is the longbow. This is the most traditional shape for a bow. The first records of these large bows dates back over 10,000 years, but the first record of the name "longbow" was first used to refer specifically to the English style of longbow. These bows range from four feet long to over six feet long! Longbows are still used to this day in competitions, fishing events, and historical reenactments.

This is probably the bow I will be purchasing. The longbow is generally a cheaper type of bow because of its basic design. Bows only get more complicated from here...

Next, there is the recurve bow. The recurve bow is a spin off the longbow design. The "recurve" element refers to the recurve of the bow limbs at its extremities. This recurve allows for the bow to be smaller, while still being allowed to deliver the same, or more, power than the traditional longbow.

Due to its compact size, the recurve bow is more popular in America than the long bow. Off course, there is one more type of bow that wins out in popularity.

This bow is the compound bow. A compound bow uses a system of pulleys and counterweights to achieve impressive strength and accuracy. With its impressive capabilities, the compound bow is the most widely used bow in America for hunting large game. Indeed, a whole industry is centered around bowhunting with compound bows. Naturally though, with this bow technology comes a steep price-tag.

I have researched for two days now, trying to find a bow in my price range. As I am on a one year quest, with my goals changing every 30 days, I can't afford to spend a chunk of change on a truly great bow. I'll leave that to the olympic archers and successful bowhunters. Instead, I am pursuing two purchase routes. First, I am asking my local community of North Platte if anyone is willing to sell me their cheap bow. So far, I have gotten one response. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will work out! Otherwise, I will be forced to go with my second route: purchasing a junior bow from Amazon.

Wait, what is a junior bow you say? A junior bow is a type of archery bow which can be effectively used using less power. Generally, junior bows are less accurate than professional bows, but they do come with a huge plus: junior bows are in my budget. So, this month, I may be going back to my 6th grade archery roots by buying a junior bow to achieve my goal with.  Stayed tuned..I should have a final decision made by tomorrow!

*What are your opinions? Should I buy a used bow or go with a junior bow? I'd love your advice!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Meet Frankenbot!

Let me tell you a story. Once, in a time not too long ago, a scientist by the name of Frankenstein decided to create life. He worked tirelessly on this creation, day and night, rain and shine. Throughout the process he pondered the ethics of his project, but he plowed on. Before too long, Frankenstein finished. His creation was complete. A hideous beast, with bits and pieces of flesh, organs, and bones from other deceased creatures. Before Frankenstein could see if his creation actually took on life, he ran, screaming "I created a monster!"

The monster rose off the table. It looked around. It examined its hands and feet, arms and legs, but it detested what it saw. With a surge of inherent rage, the monster leapt off the construction table, on  the hunt for one man: Frankenstein. He would continue this chase throughout every continent on the globe. Ultimately, the monster caught Frankenstein in the arctic. But, here is where the story ends differently than the cherished horror classic. Frankenstein got away from the monster...to this day, the monster continues to chase after Frankenstein, destroying everything in his path. Year after year of this eternal chase, the monster grew smarter and smarter. He learned to adapt and change to blend into his surroundings to better reach his human prey.
Meet Frankenbot

Today, the monster has completely transformed himself. The monster has taken on Frankenstein's name as his own. And now, Frankenstein searches the globe as...a robot...searching for his infamous creator. Even as a robot though, Frankenstein leaves destruction in his wake.

And so, robots in the 20lb class of the Critter Crunch competition, be terrified, be very terrified. Frankenstein will be there, destroying anything that gets in his way. The tale continues on...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Remote Control Car Conversion

As per the Critter Crunch rules, my remote control robot has to operate on at least two frequencies. This means that I have to be able to control the robot on two different remote control channels. The reason for this is to prevent me from accidentally controlling some one else's robot and vice versa.
That would be bad.

HRC160240 Hitec Optic 5 2.4 Channel 2.4 GHz RadioSo, I had to figure out how I was going to create a robot that I could control on two separate channels. This was a problem. A remote control system that operates on more than one channel can cost upwards of $100. Not good. I'm not comfortable with spending that much for only one part of the car. With twelve different life pursuits to accomplish success in, I have to be as thrifty as possible. Therefore, I had to improvise. What can you do when you don't have money to buy a multi channel controller? Buy two separate remote controlled cars, who operate on two different frequencies, then blend them together into one battle robot.

On this train of thought, I entered Wal-Mart today. Fortunately, it was my lucky day. Wal-Mart was running a special on a large remote control ATV:
I picked up two of them, one operating on one frequency, and one on another. Once I got home, I took them out of their respective packaging. It would have been great to use them as is, but the Critter Crunch rules specifically state that the battle robot must fit into a 12" by 12" by 12" cube. I had to make these r/c ATVs smaller. So I did:
First, I removed the ATV driver. Then, after some measurements, I realized I'd have to remove some more. I took my cutters to the frame again. The end result is above on the right. At this size, one of the ATVs stood at a mere three inches tall. Perfect, because now I will be able to move onto phase 2:
Combining the two r/c crafts into one awesome battle robot.
To be continued...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Robot's Name is...

So, I have decided to create a name for the robot that is both fearsome and pays tribute to my dad. Without his help on this robot, I would still be looking at a pile of electronics and a metal strainer, not knowing how to start. My dad made this robot a reality. Thank you, Dad.

In honor of his help, I have decided to name the robot:
The Warden.
The Warden will destroy any opposition...
The Warden will clear the field of all rebellion...
The Warden will dominate.
A perfect name to drive fear into the competitors' hearts and honor my dad's help (with Warden being a play on my dad's name, Edward).

The Warden-
Be afraid...
Be very afraid...

With work now complete on The Warden, I've moved my attention to the next robot that needs to be built. This robot will be remote controlled (the opposite of The Warden) and will compete in the 20lb. class. More information to come!

*Hey, I want to know about your goals. What have you been working on lately? Have you been successful? Has it been difficult? Easy? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

It is Finished!

Behold! The Fleming's 2lb. Boe-bot battle robot is complete! Check it out:

The robot still needs a name though. What should we call it?