03 March 2018

The Torture Chamber

I have, after two years, finally talked myself into putting Relic into the washing machine instead of bathing him by hand in the bathtub. 

I was very much still concerned that the machine would literally chew him up, but after the cycle was done I went over all the seams closely and found that he had weathered the washing with no issues. 

After turning him back right side out I placed him on the rack to dry as usual. I do not recommend hanging a fursuit on a hanger to dry. The weight of the water that still needs to be taken care of can really be murder on the seams, especially those that are hand sewn. On top of that fur has a tendency to stretch a certain amount as well, you could find your suit a touch longer than was, so honestly if you have a rack of some sort (we have a large heavy wire frame dog kennel that works great) use it to lay it out flat to dry.

I have heard others say that you should brush several times as the suit dries, I wait until it is dry and tend to the brushing then and have never seen any difference between doing it either way.

Once dry and brushed out he's ready for a spray of suit deodorant and to get rolled up and put into the case for storage until the next event.

As for a rack to dry it on, if you are not as lucky as I to have the large kennel, I also have made myself a drying rack that I can place over my bathtub for the purpose of drying. Available at any Lowes or HomeDepot you can get two sections of wire shelving and have them cut to length to fit over the length of your tub. 

27 February 2018

Remake On The Move

Progress is being made at a slow pace. In an attempt to avert any mistakes due to my push to finish things I have throttled back my normal pace and things have been much better for it as my finished Foot-Paws can attest.  

Finally getting the inside carved out and fitted and have built up the courage to cut out the eyes and separate the jaw. 

Suspension system is now in place and is adjustable with elastic holding things snug. Keeping straps removable for purposes of replacement and cleaning when needed.

Blanks are made from perforated plastic sheets made by Darice available at most craft stores. I purchased mine at Joann Fabrics.  I prefer this over the foamies as a blank because it is just a bit more rigid allows for more visibility and more airflow. 

Most people use a 1-3/4 inch hole but I prefer the 2 inch, a more wide-eyed look I suppose. I purchased a 2 inch punch from the craft store to do this and it gives a very even & clean cut.

Preparing the buckram ahead of time with the proper color spray-paint is a good idea so it is dry when you need it. I tend to keep an ample supply all ready pre-painted on hand for repairs when needed.

Cutting out circles so that they over-lap the back of the holes in the blanks by 1/8th of an inch for gluing. 

Blackening the pupil is a matter of using a black sharpie and in my case a Quarter to trace around. Always keep in mind that the Black part of the buckram is always easier to see through than the colored part so a larger pupil is not a bad thing.  This especially holds true in lighting situations like street lights and work lights which are very bright and relatively low shining at you. 

Eyelids add a bit of detail that softens the look a little.  These are nothing more than a semi-circular wedge of Foamie cut in a larger arc than what the eye opening is so that when glued in place the leading edge is out over the white eye blank.

Many people choose to glue the lids onto the eye blank itself but I choose to glue them to the base. I like to be able to pop the eyes in and out quickly if I need to replace one for any reason. 

19 February 2018

An Evening with the Ottawa Furries

Had a great time at the Merivale Bowling Centre in Napean with my Furry Friends in Canada.

photo by Laura Smith

It was not the style of bowling I was used to, but was super fun none the less and I actually did well enough on the second game hitting a 138! 

photo & video by Eponiaswill

Hanging out for an evening with new friends was a great mental boost. 

03 February 2018

Fur Bowling

The BlcakRifurs had a great time at the Seaway Lanes last weekend.  It was the first time I had ever bowled while in my fursuit and I actually did better with it on than I did after I took it off !

I wish foot paws were compatible with bowling, those bowling shoes do as fursuit absolutely no justice. :P

It was also the first time that I was able to try out the Bowling Paw that I had made last year and it worked very well. It certainly added to the visual effect of Relic actually picking up the ball with his paw.   I am now ready for Bowling in Napean on the 17th for Glow Bowling! 

Photo Credits for this post go to

Linda Morrison

Thank You Linda 

23 January 2018

DAKboard Update

There are some really neat features available to use with the DAKboard service. I now have connected my Google Photos account to allow DAKboard to make use of my own photos for the background images. You can use other on-line photo accounts as well but since my phone uploads photos directly to Google it makes perfect sense. 

I now have a true Furry calendar. :P

21 January 2018

My Pi Wall Clock / Calendar / Weather / Photo Frame

I just finished setting up one of my Pi-2’s that was sitting unused as a Smart Wall Display that utilizes DAKboard to turn your Pi into a Wall Clock/Weatherstation/Event Calendar/ Photo Frame.

I made use of a small 7” LCD monitor connected to my Pi but you can choose to use most any monitor you would like as long as it uses HDMI.

I still need to tidy up the wires but it is all together and in place where I want it.

Any calendar event I add on my phone now shows up on my wall display as well.

Some requirements to make this function;

A Raspberry Pi (of course) and your choice of HDMI monitor, SD card for OS (8GB or larger is recommended)
Peripherals for use with the Pi, ie. Wireless dongle or Ethernet cable if you choose to hardwire to the router, usb wired or wireless keyboard and mouse (mainly just for setup purposes). HDMI cable (length depending on your placement of the Pi in relation to the monitor).

Raspian OS  installed on the SD card for your Pi

I followed the tutorial here https://dakboard.com/blog/diy-wall-display/  for the most part. There are some options they would have you do that I did not do for my aplication.  You must create an account with DAKboard don’t worry it’s free (although some really neat features are only available with the Premium account). Once you have created an account with DAKboard you can set it up to use what ever calendar service you make use of and also set up the weather service you would like to use for your area, and set up access to your online photo accounts such as flickr or google photos. Once your setup is complete under the “account” tab you can find a private link to your DAKboard which is used during the browser setup on the Pi (bookmark).

The points I used from the tutorial are :

1- sudo apt-get install unclutter (this will remove the mouse cursor from the display after a few seconds of inactivity)
2- sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt install -y rpi-chromium-mods
(these steps ensure all software is up to date and what you need is installed).

I tried the next step from terminal but for some reason it would not recognize the file so I simply navigated to the proper folder using the file browser and chose to edit using the text editor. 
First open the File Browser then from the menu choose “Show Hidden Files” then navigate to .config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart   and open with text editor.  Replace the existing text with the following :

@xset s off
@xset -dpms
@xset s noblank
@chromium-browser --noerrdialogs --incognito --kiosk

I opted to leave out the  “--incognito” string as I found it quirky when accessing the “https” address that the site offers, you may have better luck with that, but it seemed buggy to me.

The highlighted line above is the one from your DAKboard account page on their website that I mentioned above.

Once the file is saved reboot and the Pi will start with your DAKboard displayed in full screen. 

20 January 2018

An Alternate Look

I have actually wanted to do this from the start but until now did not want to spend the extra $$'s on it. I have purchased a Precast Foam head base from DreamVisionCreations  and have now finally started the process of carving it out and fitting it to my face. 

The trimming process is by no means finished yet, I have only just started. I have transferred Relics markings to the face / head using pencil. 

I understand that with the foam base most people use elastic to "hinge" the jaw and I expect to do that as well but I am also looking at the possibility of using an actual plastic hinge. Whether or not I use springs or elastic on the movement will be determined in some trials. 

I am taking foam out at a slower pace now I would rather avoid taking too much off the first time than to have to glue some back in later, although I am sure that will happen for the final fit anyway. 

I want to be sure to make room for my two 5VDC cooling blowers, which so far it appears they will have room for residence in the temple areas on each side and possibly vent out through the ears? (or possibly just behind them) if dimensions work out that well.  My current blower setup uses a usb cord from the fan to my power pack I wear around my neck, it is a pain at times to get the cord fed down through my suit to plug it in. If I can retain a space for the pack in the head it will simplify taking the head piece off and on greatly. The cheek areas are a target area for that at this point. 

14 January 2018

Cellular Service on the Cheap

Can you get a years worth of Cellular Service for $50?

So, at this point I have an Unlocked GSM Dual SIM Cell Phone that I purchased on Amazon for about $60 and I have purchased two SIM cards for use in it.  

The first one is FreedomPop which cost $.01 and using the basic service (200 minutes talk, 500 texts, and 200MB data) is Free each month, but you must make sure you down-grade before the end of the first month as they give you the unlimited service free for the first month… otherwise your Credit card will be billed for the unlimited plan each month. I have seen others claims that FreedomPop works in Canada as well but there is no confirmation on the FreedomPop website as to that claim. This may be true if you are connected to WiFi as it will choose WiFi to make calls if it is available. I question if the data amount will be enough but I can add more, this will be one of the factors in being able to keep the service under or at $50 / month. 

The second SIM I purchased was Speeek.net which is a Roaming SIM that can be used pretty much world-wide. The SIM cost ~ $30 and is good for life as long as you use the service at least once every year your number will remain the same. It is a pay as you need it service and after the activation and shipping my remaining balance is a little over $22 it is easy to add money from the online website but they only accept PayPal at this time. This need will also determine my ability to remain at or under the $50 mark I have set for this experiment.

The two SIMs work fine in my location and each website claims they should pretty much anywhere in the US,  Speeek connected to Rogers Wireless Canada with no issues. HOWEVER, FreedomPop requires the use of their own app (which you need to download from the Google Play Store) to connect to their service, this app is what pushes everything to WiFi if and when it is available and it does not play well with Speeek.net service because Speeek is dependent solely on cellular service. So once across the border into Canada or before leaving the house to solve the issue I must deactivate the FP SIM and also disable the FP app in the settings, it is not that big a deal. 

All this being said, the phone now has two phone numbers depending on the service actually in use. So others trying to contact me must understand they need to use the appropriate number for the area I will be in.

Over the next few months I should be able to get a good idea if my goal is attainable or not. I will be making several trips to Canada during that time and will have plenty of opportunity to make use of these services.

13 January 2018

Moms & Dads

Looking back over my childhood and young adult years, I have found a respect that obviously comes with age about the impact that my friends and their parents had on me as I was growing up. I could never have thanked them all enough for their support had I realized then the impact they all had on my life. The community I grew up in was small and close-knit, we all knew each other in ways more than just meeting in the passing. I did not have just my own Mother and Father as parents… all of my friends parents were my Moms and Dads as well. I grieve with my friends each time I hear of the loss of any of my Fowler Moms or Dads passing, the community I knew as a child is fading away and it saddens me even though I know it is inevitable. 

Rest In Peace Connie Losey

07 January 2018

Frugal Cellular Experiment

Looking back on my use of cell phones over the years, I had always counted on Tracfone and its being the most affordable option on the market with the features I needed. My ONLY available option for "High speed" internet at my home is Verizon DSL that being said anyone familiar with the rules knows that in order to have Verizon DSL you must have a landline "home" phone... because of this there was / is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I was /am going to pay the price they want for a contracted cell phone... from any carrier regardless of if there is bloody free this and free that! The cost is too high considering what I have to pay for all ready for the same thing at home! OK! The rant is over... 

Now the one thing about tracfone, and quite honestly all US based prepaid cell services DO NOT TELL YOU, is that they will not cover usage in Canada... Matter of fact, the phones that these companies use are not even capable of being used in Canada or most any other country at all PERIOD! These companies use a technology called CDMA whilst (low and behold) the rest of the civilized world widely supports the use of a technology called GSM. Now that I am making more frequent trips into Canada for Meets and Conventions I find a specific need to be in contact with my family at home while I am away and Tracfone will no longer meet my requirements. To put it simply, if you have any need to travel out of country and need cellular service, Tracfone or many of the other prepaid services may not be the best choice on the market today... and here is the catch... at least from the standpoint of purchasing one of their phones. There is a way now at least to make it possible for you to be able to BYOP or BYOD (bring your own phone / bring your own device) offered by most prepaid services by purchasing an access SIM card from them to use in your own phone. 

Now there is yet a couple more needs for it to work. As I mentioned above the rest of the world relies heavily on GSM technology so obviously you need a GSM phone and NOT one that is CDMA the second requirement is that your GSM phone must be "Unlocked".  Recent legislation in the states has mandated that all cell phones have the capability of being “unlocked” and yes this does include Tracfone as well although due to the difference in technology used I don’t truly see the point anyone would bother. A “Locked phone binds the use of the phone to one SIM (or Service) only and will not allow any other SIM access.  In most cases to have your phone unlocked simply requires a phone call to your provider to have them give you an “Unlock code”. 

Costs of unlocked phones range widely and there are good and bad out there. Chances are you can find one that is GSM and Unlocked within a price range that you are willing to pay.  A quick search on Amazon will get you familiar with the names that are out there and will give you reviews of models available.  Since the whole idea of getting a GSM phone is for the ability to stay connected while traveling I will add in a feature that is very handy (not required) A phone capable of dual SIM cards. This is simple way to avoid having to power off your phone and pulling the cover off every time you need to change SIM cards to access your second service for other countries. For me traveling to and from Canada regularly this feature saves quite a bit of time because all I have to do is tell the phone which SIM to use rather than physically changing the SIM every time I cross the border.

Now that I have an “Unlocked” Dual SIM smart phone I have been looking much deeper into the actual service providers that are available and the many packages they offer. Needless to say there are too many to even consider choosing the “best” one and that would be likely to change from country to country anyway.  I was at first looking solely at carriers for Canada and quite honestly the cellular providers over there are very confusing at best and a bit steeper in price than anything here in the states. I had some friends that live in Canada offer some suggestions and some were reasonable candidates, 7-11 speakout was a feasible contender for me but what I was trying to avoid was getting strapped into anything requiring a monthly purchase to keep the number (SIM) active and that is a hard requirement to fill. Another search on Amazon actually turned up a service called Speeek.net which is a roaming sim

Up to 87% cheaper roaming
No contract, no monthly payment
Excellent signal in over 190 countries
US phone number on your SIM card
3 in 1 SIM (Nano, Micro, Standard)

as long as the service is used at least once every 12 months the number stays active and remains the same.  Rates other countries vary but for me using the phone while in Canada the rates are as follows:

Outgoing Call per minute 1.03 $
Received Call per minute 0.08 $
Sent Text per message         0.39 $
Received Text per message FREE
Data cost per MB          0.23 $

I know the outgoing is a bit steep, but in all honesty the reason for having the service is for my family to have a way to reach me and at 8 cents a minute received it is a good deal! If I was to call out it would be a specific conversation anyway and would only be a few minutes… totally worth it.

Finding this deal prompted me to look deeper at my own “Domestic” cell phone usage as I mentioned earlier I have a home land line… 80% of my calls are through that line I don’t rely heavily on my cell phone and 90% of my online use is with my PC at home as well so my data usage is low on my cell as well. 

As I plan on keeping my existing tracfone for a bit longer yet I am going to do an experiment on the new one by connecting with Freedom-pop. I have a sneaking suspicion that I can make use of the totally free monthly service with 200 minutes (I know this will work), 500 texts (again no issue there), 200mb data (this might be a bit short)  all in all I think this will work for me even if I need to buy more data from time to time I think it will out-save tracfone that I currently use.

All said and done I an estimating that my dollars spent each year using these two new sims on my unlocked gsm smart phone may run me about $40 to $50 (that's for the full year) !  My experiment will tell the story after I use it set up this way for a few months but the outlook is looking very frugal indeed.