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A thunderstorm in Minneapolis delayed me and my plane. We sat on the tarmac for an extra hour and a half until the lightning died down enough for us to dis-embark. As a result I made it to the Canadian North terminal a bare 10 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave. But the stewardesses, pilots, and plane were already gone. Apparently they'd left early. So I back-tracked to the Calgary airport and tried to get a rental car and room at my regular hotel. When I called my boss to tell him I wouldn't be getting in today and I'd be over-nighting in Calgary, he wished me luck in finding a room. I wasn't aware that this week is "Stampede Week" here in Calgary. It's some super-big Western/rodeo thing that heralds the beginning of summer for Canadians. I managed to find a room, at double the normal rate. I couldn't get a car though, because I had no driver's license. A friendly Afghani girl showed up with the hotel shuttle to give me a ride. Aside from having to walk to the nearest mall to get a few essentials, I didn't mind this inconvenient disturbance to my schedule. This unexpected delay in civilization was pleasant. I did some shopping, ate real food for my last supper, enjoyed my last bath for the next few weeks, and finished reading my book.
I caught an early flight this morning, with one snafu. I'd brought up some tools and cosplay materials, so that I could get some cosplay stuff done while I'm up here. It seems that KOSP has implemented more traveling restrictions; no tools are permitted on site. I wouldn't be allowed on the plane. It didn't matter that the tools were in my CHECKED luggage. I had no idea where the nearest post office was, so mailing the tools back home wasn't possible either. All I could do was throw them away. Those security officers are just lucky I didn't bring up my Dremel like I'd planned. I would've cut them if they had tried to take my baby away.

Unrelated smiley P.S. )
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Almost by accident, I discovered that Autocad is capable of producing "3-D" images. That was a great help. Designing the 2-d profile of the Catbus had been relatively straightforward, but fleshing it out in the third axis had been beyond my ability to visualize. Autocad's 3-D rendering allowed me to visualize the interior better and defuse some conflicts and trouble spots. The only variable remaining is how wide to make the bus. I didn't have the cross-section with me while I was doing the 3-d rendering, so I estimated 24" as a minimum for the cage width. It will be wider than that, of course. At this point I have enough data (and confidence in the design) to start fabricating the bus.

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With the dissolution of the low option, I was able to further flesh out the buggy configuration. There are a lot of variables that can influence the ultimate design, such as how tall will/should the bus be, what sitting angle would be comfortable yet give me the best view, what seat height would give me the optimal power & traction, how long can the wheel base be, etc.
I came upon the idea of running a strut from the hollow fork up to the roof, and then down to the main chassis, similar to a go-cart’s roll cage. That’ll take a lot of moment off of the main seat-to-fork (lower) strut. In order to give me some extra headroom, the returning/downward part of the overhead strut will be split into two pipes that pass over my shoulders. That’ll lend some lateral stability to the overhead strut and rotational axis of the fork. I spent (wasted) a lot of time figuring out the optimal angle of the fork, only to find out that I couldn’t finalize the angle until I had a better idea of the sitting angle and seat height. Those can only come from physical testing.
Although the overhead strut will reduce the stress on the lower strut, I still worry that the lower strut will have to be bulky to carry that load, and that means that possibly it’ll be so overbuilt that it will be too wide for me to straddle and comfortably pedal around. At about 8” wide, that’s way too big to get between my legs in the confines of the Catbus. Therefore I may have to use metal tubing instead of pvc, to slim down the lower strut. I hadn’t planned on including metal in this build, but if I only use it sparingly, it shouldn’t involve too much difficulty. The transitions will include some complications I’m assuming, but hopefully they won’t be show-stoppers. If lateral stability proves to be lacking on the fork/lower strut, I could add lateral stabilizing pvc struts to the main lower strut. Though it would be hard to find a location for them that wouldn’t interfere with pedaling.
The build won’t start till January at the earliest, but soon I need to get/fabricate a seat so that I can test the configurations and get the necessary info mentioned above. I could get a lot of designing done in the meantime if I had that.
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Today I was drafting the different big wheel orientations, the high and low options, as I came to call them. It just now occurred to me that the low option will not work. The big wheel is able to rotate about the fork in the low option, which is more or less parallel to the ground. That means that the big wheel will always tip left or right to reach equilibrium; it will not balance standing up. Not unless I put training wheels on it or a vertical fork to prevent rotation. Adding a vertical fork to the low option is pointless, considering that the high option has it’s own vertical fork. So basically, although I would’ve gained structural strength in the low option, I would’ve been creating a new problem of perpetual imbalance. That means high option is the only configuration that will work. One caveat: I could still use the low option (without a second fork) if I anchored the horizontal fork so that it couldn’t rotate. But then I’d have to find some other way to steer the bus.
It looks like the high option is the path of least resistance. Other options are technically possible, but are more complex. Now I can focus on this one configuration and begin moving forward on it.
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Or in this case, cosplay to housewares.
With it raining pretty much all week in Dallas, I'm back in Austin for the week (and probably this weekend). I've got enough hours that I don't have to go in to the office to work so I'm staying at home and keeping myself busy with all sorts of little projects. Organizing stuff, throwing out cosplay stuff that won't be re-used (Pyramid Head and Hrist, for example). I re-purposed the material I'd bought for the Wybie cosplay and the hoops from the Catbus to build some cat-curtains (curtains that allow the cat to look out the window but prevents people from looking in). I am starting to consider throwing away the Catbus entirely. I know I've sunk a few hundred dollars into it, but I wouldn't be able to continue working on it until next year at the earliest and there would be no guarantee we would have enough room to store a cosplay that big. I started Catbus two apartments ago, when I had a lot more space to commit to it. It seems that Catbus has outgrown it's home and as much as I dislike it, I may have to cut my losses now, rather than try to see it through.
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I got my fur swatches in yesterday. Didn’t quite get what I wanted. The short fur was the right color, but felt like astroturf. The long fur was stroke-ably soft, but way too blonde. I was disappointed. If I’m going to spend $200 - $400 on fur, then it better be exactly what I want. Yeah, those fur swatches were just another cannonball fired at an already sinking ship. I’ve decided I won’t be going to AX. I know I have a bad track record of giving up when the pressure starts building, but in this situation, not going to AX is apparently the prudent thing to do.
So yeah . . . I’ll be dismantling Catbus (hopefully for the last time). Now that he’s got his limbs and appendages attached, he’s outgrown my apartment. Even with my furniture moved out of the way, he barely fits in the living room. I’ll be taking him to Star’s house and reassembling him there; she’s got a backyard where he has room to run around. I’ll have to build a "cathouse" (or would it be a cat-garage?) to keep him clean and dry. Once I’m done with that I’ll switch my focus to that AX commission I’ve been neglecting. Heh. If I can’t go to AX in person, I’ll go in prop-form, like a ghost! Hmph.
getting too big for my cosplay britches )
With AX off the schedule, I suppose it’s time to start planning for the fall season. Hmph. I hadn’t expected my summer con season to be over already. Oh well. I mean yeah, there’s always Otakon, which I’ve been to twice before. Otakon’s an impressive con and I’ve got a small base of friends out there, but it seems a little late in the game to be making plans for that con. (Plus, Baltimore is hot as balls.)
Yeah, I think I’ll just enjoy the fact that I’m no longer in "Cosplay Red Alert" mode and take my time working on my costumes for the fall (now that I finally have weekends again). I won’t make the same mistake of listing my con & costume schedule, for now it’s just a list of what I _might_ be working on (_besides_ Catbus!) between now and September.(P.S. They’re listed from most likely to least likely.)
potential cosplay list )
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I wish I had a summer vacation too. Ugh, it's so tough going to work. Both in the morning and when I have to go back after lunch, I'm thinking, "Do I REALLY have to go back?" It's not that the work is hard, it's just that I have nothing to do besides try to stay awake and at least _look_ busy. They need to give me another assignment already; this limbo status is getting old quick.

(Note to self:) Don't eat chili dogs for lunch unless you have an extra clean shirt.
:(

I'm invited to a cosplay wedding! Wooo! Normally I rank weddings as much fun as funerals and dentist visits, but a COSPLAY wedding? Now that's different. That's cool! I wonder if I'd ever be nerdy/brave enough to do a cosplay wedding. Ha ha ha. That'd be hilarious. I'm already planning on attending my sister's wedding in an ape suit, but that's different. Oh, but the wedding is the weekend before AX. I know I'm going to be super busy that weekend. . . . Hmm. We'll just have to see how things go.

I got my room situation for AX ironed out. The hotel might be charging me a $200 cancellation fee, which would suck, but at least I know where I'll be sleeping now. I get to room with cool Texan cosplayers! Woo!

And because I HAVE TO stay focused on the Catbus (but don't want to spam my own LJ with constant chatter about it), I'm going to be including daily updates about it. These updates won't interest you guys; I just have to use every opportunity I can to remind myself and stay focused.

Catbus status: 6-7-07 )

Pfft.

May. 25th, 2007 05:00 pm
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That's it. *bonk* I should've checked earlier.
After spending these last three days burning through foam and polystyrene to make the Bus's legs, I'd been thinking, "Gee, these legs are using up a lot more material than I expected." Only now did it occur to me to check if I really had enough fur to cover it all. It turns out that each leg (there are 8) needs about 1 yard of material and I've only got 9 square yards of fur. . . . I hadn't included the legs when I estimated how much fur I would need.
*facepalm*
I've got enough fur to cover the legs OR the bus, but not both. And fur is the one thing that I can't buy here in Austin.
*sigh*
So that's the end of that. Maybe I'll spend one day of A-kon to hit up the fabric warehouses up there. Shoot. I just wish I'd realized this before I pumped about $300 into this costume over the past few days.
. . .
Oh well. Time for a back-up plan.
I suppose I'll fix up GIR for A-kon. Pyramid Head's in good shape, but I'm tired of him and Sechs needs too much work. So it'll just be Slade and GIR for A-kon.

Crap.
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To be honest, I was ready to give up on Catbus. With this 80-hour/week work schedule, that cosplay project has lain virtually untouched since January. It's still at the point where it looks like some wooden siege engine. People who've visited my apartment can attest to that; it definitely doesn't look like a cat or a bus yet. A-kon (the con it was supposed to debut at) is barely a week away.
But in this eleventh hour, it seems there might be a chance. I just found out I have a six-day break starting today.
. . . six days . . .
Can it be done? In six days?
. . .
I usually hate rushing a cosplay project because you can screw up and not catch it until you're a mile down the road. But I have managed to turn out some decent cosplays/props under duress. After all, GIR, my only other mascot, was made in 4 weekends. Catbus is bigger and more complex, but all the hard stuff has been made already.
. . . Yeah, I'm going for it. I had to run this proposition past Star. Not to ask permission, but to see if she'd be able to tolerate this sacrifice of personal time we'd both be making. This would've been the first weekend we've ever had off together (i.e. we could actually go on a REAL date for once), so I'm asking her to throw away one tasty apple.
She agreed. She is the more responsible one of us and with her own cosplay deadline coming up, she was able to leave that apple on the branch. I'll have to make it up to her.

So as soon as I drop off my paperwork at work, I'm going down to the upholstery store for the foam I need and then for the next 130 hours, it's all about Catbus. I pray I have enough fur for him; we'll soon find out, I guess.
And if you see me on the interwebs, yell at me! I'm not supposed to be there. Especially if you catch me on AIM. That stuff is serious cosplay kryptonite.

With that, I bid the real world "adieu" for a week! Wish me luck!
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Oh crap! I just realized, A-kon's barely one month away! Aggggh! Crap crap crap crap! [expletive expletive expletive]
I haven't done anything! Damn you, Job #1001-3571, you suck! I haven't been able to touch my cosplays since Ikki-con, dammit! Argh! Stupid 80-hour workweeks! Grawr!

Okay, I'm calm now. Well, not really, but I've got it under control. Okay. I know my cosplay plans have been dropping like flies since this job started, but I WILL FINISH CATBUS IN TIME FOR A-KON. No ifs, ands, or buts. I have to finish it or else I can't ever show my face to my cosplay buddies again. I have to do this!
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Yeah, I know I said this weekend would be a cosplay supernova, but that didn't happen. I just realized that for each day of this four-day weekend, I spent some time with some ACDF people, somewhere, doing something. I'm not saying ACDF put my cosplay on ice, but . . . yeah, I am. Ha ha. No worries, it was a great way to recharge my batteries.
I spent one evening (about six hours) finalizing the design of the Catbus' legs. I probably could've done it in a fraction of the time by calling my sister (the veterinarian) and asking for some tips, but it would've been awkward to bring up in the conversation.
"Hey Clarisa. How ya doing? . . . I'm okay. How's it going with that guy you like? . . . Oh really? That sounds terrible. Hey, you wouldn't happen to know the proportions of a cat's tibia and femur, would ya? . . . Hello?"
Even without professional help, I got the design to where I liked it. Both the model and prototype worked nicely, so I spent my last few hours of freedom tonight shaping the Catbus' bones. I'm glad this hurdle is melting away so easily. He might even be ready for another roadtest in a week or two, depending on work. Which is good since A-kon is rushing up towards us pretty damn fast.

Dude . . . don't touch my lumbars. )
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Ah, what a productive day. From 9 am to 8 pm, it was non-stop work on the Catbus today (except for a couple trips to Home Depot). It's probably some sort of sin to be smitten with a costume/cosplay/cos-whatisthecatbustechnically?, but I am. Most likely it's just the engineer in me getting his rocks off by building this mechanical creature. Heh heh. It's now looking like this isn't such an impossible project after all. If only my bosses understood the definition of "four-day weekend," I'd be able to get even more done. Oh well.

unintelligible mechanical progress pic )
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Today's Cosplay Lesson:

A man's reach need not extend beyond his penis.



Nekobus rambling (mostly to myself) )
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work cut )

So it seems all the veteran cosplayers out there in the internet ether already have their cosplay/con plans ready to go. Normally I don't announce my costume/con plans until shortly before the con, so I can back out if I have to without disappointing anyone. (Not that anyone really cares what I do, but I prefer not to renege on my commitments if at all possible.) This time I thought I'd go ahead and commit, list my cons and costumes. Maybe this list will keep me on track and accountable. So let's see . . .

Ikkicon (February, Austin) - debut Slade (Teen Titans)
Anime Matsuri (April, Houston) - debut Tongpu (Cowboy Bebop)
A-kon (June, Dallas) - debut Nekobus (My Neighbor Totoro)*
Anime Expo (July, Anaheim) - debut Tagmec & Vivoantes (AquaKnights)
Dragon*con OR AnimeFest (September, ???)
Oni-con (October, Houston)

Not as many cons as I did in 2006, but the way they're spread out, maybe I won't lose my mind. And if those first four costumes don't wipe me out, I may summon enough strength for a late-season cosplay. The only old costume that might be recycled for next year would be GIR and _maybe_ Sechs, if a Gunnm gathering seems possible.

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