Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thoreau's Crazy Train

The fanning method of mining.
Many days have been spent on the back-breaking labor of digging the underground railway. While the activity itself is entirely uninteresting, affording me a liberal week of neglecting my journal (for what is there to update? Pontificating upon the blisters of my hands? The unchanging scenery of a one-meter-by-two-meter corridor in stone?), there are in fact a few aspects and discoveries I would like to record here for my own benefit.

Mind you, this is intensely boring work. To create a railway, I carve out just enough room to run a minecart down, plus headroom for myself. This has been a trial-and-error process: I stand two meters tall in this realm, and when I sit in the minecart, I still require two meters height and one meter in width. This is the barest necessity for a gangway. While digging this out, of course, it is advantageous to start "fanning", that is, mining large side passages as far as I may reach in all directions, at intervals of two meters, to advance my odds of finding mineral deposits. While this triples my work time, it is essential for personal development and acquisition of resources, so for the present time I see no alternate route about this.

I have died in the construction of the rails, when I expended two meters of track down a one-meter-high excavation, then rode into it at full speed. Took my fool head off; I woke up on Bartram Island and had to make a new boat to sail up to the villagers' cabin all over again. Additionally, this necessitated another couple of weeks at monster slaying and earning experience at uncovering minerals and smelting ores. Highly tedious work, even for one who likes to muse and wonder at the details.

And even though it won't kill me, I've learned not to get out of a minecart in a corridor two meters in height, as it affords me a wicked crack on the skull. One more meter of clearance is required, so now I'm tunneling one meter's width and three meters' height, in addition to fanning out at five meters' depth and a total of nine meters' height in a hemi-circle, and I estimate I will continue this process for at least two kilometers.

Fascinating, no?

Redstone: glowing, embedded, and mined.
Now, it is important to explain two mineral features, one of which I have referenced prior to this but neglected to expound upon to anyone's satisfaction, the other of which is a new phenomenon that defines this surreal world a little further. Firstly, I have mentioned redstone a few times, firstly in the construction of the compass, which goes into the manufacture of a map. What I know about redstone is this: it is a mineral found in the deepest levels of the earth. When you touch it where it is embedded, it glows like a dim torch, which can be useful. When you mine it, it crumbles to a powder, but this may be employed to carry an electrical current (I know not how), and it is useful for devices like the compass and a powered rail, which is like a regular length of track but accelerates those vehicles which pass over it. In this manner, it is possible to send an unmanned minecart out across great distances, or even a cart which contains a chest laden with treasures.

A length of powered rail.
This was my first intention. to mine all useful resources and ship them back to Bartram Island. This is an impractical method, as the powered rail also requires gold in its construction, and this is quite uncommon to find. It is possible to set up two minecarts, the lead containing a chest (or a passenger) and the rear housing another furnace: fed with coal, the furnace cart will propel itself and anything before it, but only providing there are no obstacles on the track, and only for the duration at which coal burns. A block of coal, made by compressing nine lumps of coal, will burn longer than nine individual lumps of coal, which is a bonus, but in smelting nothing beats a bucketful of lava. I have not yet experimented to determine whether a bucket's worth of lava will propel a minecart even further, but it stands to reason. This remains to be seen, once I have successfully established my kilometers of track.

Bedrock: the lowest possible point.
The second mineral feature to this world is what I call "bedrock", as it appears to be the unyielding foundation to this world. It lies somewhere around fifty meters below sea level, and it is absolutely impenetrable. Working at it with a diamond pick-ax (the best of all pick-axes) avails naught; it only exhausts the body and worries the pick-ax, not to mention providing time for the underworldly beasties to hear, locate, and sneak up behind you. Which they will.

There is nothing to be done with bedrock. It is simply the layer at which one stops digging, beyond which one can go no further. This compels me to wonder where there is a similar limit to the firmament. If there is, that means there is a measurable limit between the bottom of the world and the heavens, while the world itself knows no such limit in any lateral direction. When I think of this too hard I have to close my eyes; my head shudders and I draw a sharp breath. This is too mind-bending, to realize one exists in a realm which is shaped, essentially, like a flap-jack, except with no limit to the edges. I can't conceive what possible use this might be, nor how it could possibly have come into being.

Thoreau is strangely enamored of this.
Back to mining. There is no quick way about it, not in my precise and measured method, but there are two materials—dirt and gravel—which may not be mined but must be dug at with a spade, and this is even more tedious work and the spade, regardless of whether it is made of steel, wears out rapidly, to my annoyance. Therefore I have one very rough, violent, but eminently effective shortcut: dynamite.

When it passes that I encounter an Explodicon, provided it does not sneak up behind me and blow me up, I must attack it swiftly. With a good steel sword I can take it down in three strikes, adding power to my blows with a running leap. With an enchanted diamond sword, my word! the poor beast falls quickly, and I nearly feel an unfairness in the melee (until I count the number of times these miserable horrors have blown me up). Among its remains, however, is left a measure of gunpowder. It is my theory that the Explodicon somehow produces this, converting whatever it eats into a nearly smokeless black powder of considerable potency. When I pack this down with sand, it forms a quite intimidating block of dynamite, which is good for excavating (roughly) a block of solid stone, three meters cubed. Yet when applied to dirt or gravel, it destroys considerably more, satisfyingly more.


That's about all I have for now, except I would like to show you, dear reader, what it looks like to ride the rails through three hundred meters of stone, at an altitude of about ten meters above the bottom of the world. Pardon the graininess of these images, as I entirely lack the technology to reproduce a kinematoscope, a zoopraxiscope, or anything like this.

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