The Legend of the Stuffy Box

Stuffy BoxFor my twelfth birthday several years ago, my Grandpa Ross (who was a scout with the 30th troop in Hamilton) gave me a small box full of many little treasures. When I opened the box I found inside a rolled up ‘scroll’ bound by a birthday ribbon tied in a bow. The Scroll

You could tell it was (supposed to look) old because of the (tea bag) stains and marks all over it ;) I opened up the scroll and inside I read the following:

The Legend Of The ‘Stuffy Box’

What is a ‘Stuffy Box?,’ more common folk might ask … it is the beginning of a long journey.

Every twelve year old boy should have a stuffy box.

What is the origin of the stuffy box? Well, it is a modern day legend, and let me tell you that legends are very difficult to begin. In fact, this may be the only labelled stuffy box known to mankind, so you are at the beginning, Dorian!

The term stuffy box comes from your Great Grandpa Lloyd. When your Grandpa, Ross, was a boy, he enjoyed rummaging through his Dad’s little boxes that could be found in our shed. They could contain almost anything …. Screws, bolts, springs, washers, pieces of electric cord, broken pieces of plastic from a curtain rod, or whatever.

The great thing about Great Grandpa Lloyd is that he had a lot of stuffy boxes … you could find several in the shed, a couple in his personal desk, some near his easel and paint, easily one in the washroom, and on and on it goes. He is the true founder of the stuffy box movement.

You are now ready to begin your stuffy box journey. Dorian. Do so with honour and pride!

There are things about a stuffy box you should know. First, it can never be made of new material. It must always come from a pre-existing purpose. In your case, this stuffy box was a pre-existing wine box. The lid had to be reversed and many coats of Varathane were applied by your Grandma. Special wood letters were applied to make ownership unmistakable.

Second, the wise care of a stuffy box includes having one place to keep it where it never moves.

Third, it’s preferred if it gets scuffed and chaffed a bit. You want it to look rough and rustic. It’s a working man’s treasure box … in it you can keep anything you want … a favourite screw driver, coins, stamps, nuts and bolts, candy, a pocket knife, whatever. Odd stuff.

It’s not really a secret box … that is the stuff of another legend. It is more a place to put stuff when you don’t know where to put stuff.

Every few years it’s a good idea to add another stuffy box to your collection. It doesn’t have to look the same, or even be labeled … it just needs to be a good container for stuff. Make the year ahead be full of good stuff, Dorian. Collect good stuff. Do good stuff.

Love,

Grandpa Ross.

I have shared this letter with you so that you can begin your own stuffy box journey.  Please ‘Do so, with honour and pride!’

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Hawker Fury

FuryWith two forward firing 7.7 mm machine guns and a top speed of 333 km/h, the Hawker Fury packed a punch for anyone that got in its way.

This fast biplane interceptor fighter was created in 1927, and was used throughout the interwar years until larger more powerful monoplane fighters started appearing on the scene.  One of these monoplane fighters, the Hawker Hurricane, was based on the Fury, but with a more powerful engine, enclosed cockpit, retractable landing gear, and many more modifications.

The Hawker Fury was manned by one pilot, and was the first British fighter capable of surpassing 200 mph (322 km/h). The sleek strait lines of its fuselage make it look fast even if it’s not flying.  Despite the performance of this airplane, it never received a production contract and only a total of 275 were made.  Nevertheless, the Fury was an important step towards providing the Allies with one of their most effective fighters during WWII, the Hawker Hurricane.

For further reading check out these sites:

Aviation History

Military Factory

Here are some watercolour paintings – from the pilot’s view – of strafing a train on the ground.  The spray of white dots are machine gun bullets.  A good pilot will first take out the engine, and then the rest are easy because the train stops moving.  These paintings where inspired after I watched some real gun-camera footage from the cameras in the wings of WWII fighters.Air to Ground Attack

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Here is another picture of the 1/72 scale Hawker Fury model I recently finished assembling.

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Avro Lancaster

Lanc Painting.jpgThe Avro Lancaster was the best night heavy bomber in WWII, and is the most famous of the RAF (Royal Air Force) heavy bombers.  It was born after the twin engine Manchester proved a failure because of the inadequacy of its Rolls-Royce Vulture engines. The designs for the Manchester were changed; two more engines were added, the wingspan was increased (first from 80 ft to 90 ft, and then to 102 ft), as well as several other modifications.  Thus, the Lancaster was created, with the first one flying in January of 1941.

Lancasters continued to be modified throughout the war, and many versions were made, each with a few small differences. You may have heard, for example, of the famous ‘Dambusters’ who used modified Lancasters to skip ‘bouncing bombs’ into dams in Germany.  After the war they were also modified for many civilian and experimental jobs as well.

I’m going to describe the Avro Lancaster Mk. I.  Although other versions had slight changes made, this is the basic design of the Lancasters:

The Avro Lancaster Mk. I had eight 7.7-mm machine guns, and a crew of seven. It had two guns in the nose turret, two in the dorsal (upper) turret, and four in the tail turret. The Mk. II had a couple more machine guns in a ventral (lower) turret, but this was not implemented in the majority of the ‘Lancs’, and so did not prevent hundreds of airmen’s lives from being lost to upward firing enemy night-fighters.  The Mk. I could carry a maximum of 8,165 kg (18,000 lb) of bomb load, sometimes including a 1800 kg (4000 lb) – or even larger as the war progressed – ‘Cookie’ bomb as well as many more smaller explosives. This impressive bomb-load capacity was almost equal to the American B-29 Superfortress, even though the Lancaster is a much smaller plane.  It was 21.18 m (69.5 ft) long, and had a wingspan of 31.09 m (102 ft).  It could fly as fast as 394 km/h (245 mph) at sea level, and had a range of up to 3589 km (2230 miles) or slightly less with a full bomb load.  It had an operational ceiling of 6706 m (22,000 ft).

Lancasters were the main force behind the night bombing runs over Europe during WWII, serving with the RAF, RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force), as well as other commonwealth air forces.  They flew over 156,000 bombing sorties and saw service throughout, and well after the war.  In all, Lancasters dropped 618,378 tonnes (that’s over 628,000,000 kilograms!) of bombs on Europe, destroying huge portions of land.

Sadly, almost half of the 7,377 Lancasters ever built were lost in action or accidents. Now only two specimens remain airworthy; one is based in Great Britain and the other in Canada.

Below are some pictures of the Lancaster scale model that I recently finished assembling.

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Here are a few more sites where you can read a little more about the Lancaster:

Aviation History

World War II Database

Bomber Command Museum

 

Bottles in the Atlantic

In 2013 my family drove all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada, to visit extended family. We stayed at a cottage on a small lake called Lake Deception, near Shelburne, NS.

After launching canoes on the lake, we found that although the surface appears quite flat, there are many hidden rocks barely beneath the surface. We figured this could have been the reason behind the name Deception.

I found an empty glass bottle (the kind used for rootbeer, soda, or beer) that one of the previous renters chucked from the deck behind the cottage. It instantly gave me the idea to write a message, roll it up inside, and toss it into the lake, in the hopes that someone from one of the 10 or so other cottages along the lake would find it.

When my Uncle Ed heard of my plans, he took the idea to a whole new level, by suggesting I throw it in the ocean instead. He also gave me the idea of doing more than one bottle, so as to increase the chances of someone finding it, and even went out of his way to help me photocopy the note (which included my name and address and a request for the finder to write). I left all the ten notes with Ed. He told me that he had a friend at a liquor store, where he might be able to get some bottles.

Later that day while I was at a beach with my family, Ed pulled up in his mini-van and called me over to it.

He gave me a box of ten shinny, brand new, freshly sealed beer bottles. Inside each bottle was one of the notes, tightly rolled up and fastened with an elastic band. On each bottle was a crisp white cap with a red octopus that had a bottle instead of a head.

I put the bottles in our van, and later we drove as far towards the open sea as roads would allow, than walked for a bit on a path, ‘till we got to some rocks where you could see the frothing Atlantic Ocean right below.

My cousins, siblings, and I took turns lobbing the bottles off the cliff like hand-grenades, and watched as they bobbed gently up and down, moving slowly out to sea.

Uncle Ed had told me that it would take several months before the bottle caps would rust through, so if they had not been beached before then, they where goners.

After arriving home from NS (Nova Scotia), I wondered, is someone actually going to find one of these on a beach somewhere?  If so, how far away might they be?

A couple weeks later I got a letter in the mail from NS. Since it wasn’t from Uncle Ed or his family, I wondered who it was. I opened it up, and inside found a letter from someone who had found one of the bottles while walking on a beach on Cape Sable Island, NS. This is not very far from Shelburne, but it was still exciting news.

Two or three days later I received another letter, from another island nearby called the Cape. The two people found their respective bottles two days apart from each other!

I replied to both letters, and wrote to Ed to tell him the good news. I even continued to correspond with one of the people for some time, although the other person never replied a second time.

Sometimes I wonder what happened during the journey of those bottles, and what befell the other eight bottles which I never heard from again. Still, I deem it quite a success, and am very grateful to Ed, without whom I would not have been able to carry out such a great experiment.

Airplane Mural

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7853.If you’re looking for a great way to brighten up your bedroom (or any room for that matter) here’s an idea: Paint a mural! That’s what I did, and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

I chose to paint a WWII airplane called the P-51 Mustang. I started by using a projector to project the image on the wall. Then I used a pencil to trace the outline and all the main features. After that I started working on painting it, using just regular craft paint. I had fun playing around with light reflection, shading, textures, and colours.

Once done the main airplane, I continued to fill in the background with some smaller planes. For these smaller planes, I printed pictures out, cut out the outline of the plane, and traced it on the wall. I then finished with paint.

You could try painting anything that holds your interest. I hope this inspires you to get working on some art.

Note: some of the smaller planes you see in the top picture are actually models hanging from the ceiling.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

This year for the holidays in December, our family decided to go on a road-trip adventure. We decided to go to Alabama, USA. While our backyard was covered in snow, we thought it would be great to head somewhere a little warmer for the holidays.

We rented a place in Gulf Shores, which is south of Mobile, AL, and is on the Gulf of Mexico. The cottage we rented was only a five minute walk from the beach. I was interested to note that all the structures in the area were on stilts (beams). This is to preserve the building an case of a flood.

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We had a great time at the beach nearby. The sand was a different texture than that of freshwater lake sands. I’m guessing this is because of the salt in the seawater.

I had fun on a skim-board, which is a thin wooden board that you throw down into very shallow water and jump onto. It’s fun because you just glide barely above the sand on a thin layer of water. Beach stores sell them.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7860.Two of my brothers also made this mosaic out of seashells.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7858.We noticed a bunch of little holes in the sand all over the beach, and when I dug one of them up, I found a tiny land crab!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7859.The waves were very high and powerful and we had to be careful of the undertow, which is a current that pulls against incoming waves underneath the surface, and can pull you right under.

One day we met up with some friends at the Explorium in Mobile. The Explorium is a big science centre with lots of neat stuff to look at and do. Another day we went on a boat tour of Mobile Harbor where we saw navy ships, a container ship getting unloaded, and a WWII ship which is now a museum.  Our friend Dan – who inspects ships – explained all about each of the ships we saw.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7862.We stayed in Alabama just less than a week. We had a great time, and because we went on the off-season, there was hardly anyone else on the beach. Next time you’re looking for your next travel destination, I recommend looking into Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s a great place to visit.DCIM100GOPROGOPR7809.

Rescue the Captors

IMG_7331The book, Rescue the Captors, is an amazing autobiography by a 28 year old bush pilot who flies dangerous mission flights in Columbia.  It is a true story, written from within a Marxist guerrilla camp, of how a young pilot named Russell is captured by soldiers who mistake him for the son of a wealthy American, but he is actually just from a small missionary family.

Here is a section, describing his kidnappers:

Unknown to those on the outside, Russell had sized up the situation and decided that most of his captors where really captives – of a negative, violent mentality inconsistent with even their own ideals.  He decided that instead of viewing his kidnapping as a terrible disaster, he would look at it as an opportunity to Rescue the Captors.

Rescue the Captors is a powerful story; filled with interesting discussions, adventure, and high-flying fun, including gunfights, fighter plane battles, and drug-busting adventures!  This book is not your average missionary story, and is a great read for anyone, young or old.

It has the perfect mix of adventure, history, politics, and much more, all woven into one spectacular story.  When Russell is captured, he decides not to just sit and mope, but instead uses it as an opportunity to share the good news of God’s love to his captors.  It is really quite a fascinating story, and I recommend it to each and every one of you.

Here is a small section to give you a taste of the book, from an early scene where the main character is trying to escape:

About twenty yards away, he threw his German assault rifle to his shoulder.  With a terrible look of hatred on his face, he pulled the trigger.  His gun went “click.”  It had misfired.  Quickly raising my revolver I sighted for his chest and pulled the trigger.  The hammer fell on an empty cartridge – I was out of bullets!  Giovani, seeing my gun, hit the dirt, falling behind a tree.  I could hear him trying to chamber a new round, but he seemed to be having trouble with his gun.  I frantically tried to break the nylon cord, dragging Manuel a few yards in the process.  I threw myself down on the ground, behind the only cover I could find – a clump of banana trees.  The rope was tight around my right arm and neck, choking me.  I clawed frantically in my pocket hoping to find more cartridges and reload my revolver.  I new the bananas wouldn’t stop the bullets the guerrillas would soon be shooting at me.

As I lay there, literally at the end of my rope, I wondered what it would feel like to die.  It appeared to me that my life would end in just a few seconds.  I was powerless to do anything about it, so I lowered my head and waited for the end to come…

 

It really inspired me to realize that the circumstances that seem so terrible to us, can really be made into opportunities to share God’s love.