31 July 2008

I thought about putting some paint on my Orc Warriors tonight but as usual I ran out of time before I actually got around to it. I probably won't do any more work on them until at least next week as tomorrow night we get paid and I get to redistribute that money among our bills. I've also got to get ready for another fun National Guard drill weekend. That means doing laundry and gathering my gear into some sort of central location. Friday I get to run errands and hopefully get to bed early so I can wake up early and not be a zombie all through drill weekend. This drill should be somewhat exciting as we get to throw live hand grenades.

I rarely make trades in my Fantasy sports leagues, but one of my teams was running away with the stolen bases category while lagging behind in home runs and RBIs. I traded Jimmy Rollins and Nick Markakis to another team in need of some steals for Vladimir Guerrero and Jhonny Peralta. So far the power numbers haven't really materialized for me but I take some solace in the fact that the players I traded away haven't exactly been hot either. I actually have a little chart set up to track whether the trade winds up being advantageous for me. I'm having a hard time getting excited for Fantasy Football season.

I'm still trying to decide what to do regarding my employment status. There are some military jobs open with good pay and benefits, but I don't think I'm qualified for most of them and I don't really understand the paperwork involved in applying for them. The most promising one would require me to spend a couple hundred dollars on a dress uniform just to apply. Then if I got the job we'd have to move five hours away and I'd need to attend at least four different military schools. On the civilian side nothing looks too promising. It's hard to find a job that pays decently at all when you've just got a high school diploma and a little experience in menial labor. I don't really know what to do and I'm paralyzed by uncertainty and sort of overwhelmed by the whole situation. I'm pretty inexperienced when it comes to functioning in the real world. Any progress I've been able to make has either been forced on me or fallen into my lap without much effort on my part. Sorry about the whiny post; I suppose I should put my self-loathing and complaints into a notebook or something rather than get all emo on the internet.

30 July 2008

I don't know if anyone besides me listens to the little music player on this blog's sidebar, so this post is probably mostly for my own benefit. Last week I went through and added a bunch of tracks from the late 90's; mostly rock/alternative songs that were popular on the radio when I was in high school. I think I added some Southern Rock as well.

This week I went even further into my past and added a bunch of country music from the late 80's/early 90's; mostly stuff that my dad had on CD and played frequently when I was younger. In 3rd and 4th grade I used to turn on my radio very quietly and stay up for several hours past my bedtime every night listening to the country music station. I think my favorite band at that time was Alabama, probably mostly because that was my best friend's favorite band. His favorite song was "Mountain Music," mine was "I'm In a Hurry," which was a pretty big hit at that time. I'd usually stay up until the radio station played that song and the end of the song would be my cue to turn off the radio and go to sleep.

29 July 2008

Well, I took my bike out into the streets today. It went fairly well. I did kill it at one stop light (starting out in third gear will do that) but the line of people in the cars behind me was either entertained or sympathetic to my situation (maybe because of all my sweet riding gear they thought I was a legitimate motorcyclist having legitimate mechanical problems, heh) and I was able to get onto a side street and collect my shattered ego enough to carry on and ride all the way to my place of employment and back home again. The only other real problem I had was leaving my turn signal on for a while. This bike is definitely heavier than the STAR course's bike; that takes some getting used to when I'm making turns. I can't just throw it over. And I'm kind of slow when moving out from a stop. I don't think the people behind me appreciate that much, but I'm still figuring out the throttle and clutch on this bike and don't really want to kill it or dump it over or rear-end the person in front of me because I'm eager to get up and go. Anyway, it was a pretty good experience for me. I never made it into the parking lot to practice my riding. I was feeling okay on the road so I just kept going.

28 July 2008

I passed my motorcycle training course without incident, so that's pretty good. We had one lady lose her bike in the dirt yesterday, which was pretty exciting for a few seconds. I was somewhat disappointed that none of the training involved speeds over 20 miles per hour, as the speed limits around here are 25-40 mph. Of course, if you've got a bunch of folks who are scared to get out of first gear, if they can even get there, it's probably a good idea not to have them riding quickly. Last night I went to start up my bike and give it a little test run, but the battery was too low to start. Early this morning I went and got a charger, and I rode it around the trailer park a little without dumping it on the speed bumps or losing it while trying to turn into the driveway. I definitely notice the extra 200 pounds that it has over the little dual-sport I rode for the STAR course. There's a middle-school parking lot across the street that is supposedly open in summers for people to practice riding. I'll probably take my bike over there and work on my skills some more, because girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.

I picked up the Festung Europa expansion for Flames of War, which covers the late-war army lists for the game. One thing that bothered me about the book was the pictures of games in progress. All of the figures were bunched together so much; it really had the "parking lot" look that is often referenced on the message boards. In one photo the tanks were literally parked front slope to front slope, duking it out. I'm not sure if it's a function of it being a company-level game or playing on too-small tables so you can fit a tournament into a small venue. Looking at the vehicle charts the firing ranges appear to allow for some amount of standoff distance. I don't have the main rulebook yet so I can't really speculate on how the game would work if you cut it down to smaller battles involving platoons with attachments rather than full companies.

26 July 2008

Not much to talk about tonight. There is a pretty exciting release from Games Workshop coming down the pipe. It's the starter set for the new edition of Warhammer 40k; Warhammer 40,000: Assault on Black Reach. It features a battle between Orks and Space Marines, which just so happen to be the 40k armies I plan on building. In addition to the much-loved tiny rulebook, the box contains two very good-sized forces for just $60. The Space Marines get a Captain, a Dreadnought, 10 Tactical Marines, and 5 Terminators. The Orks get a Warboss, 20 Ork Boyz, 5 Nobz, and 3 Deffkoptas. They are probably simpler sculpts with fewer customization option than the regiment boxes, but to buy those forces separately at retail you'd wind up paying $321. So with the rulebook and a great value on figures I may have to pick up one or two of the starter boxes.

I had my first motorcycle class tonight. Nothing too exciting; as it was all classroom instruction. One guy showed up half an hour late and didn't get to take the class, as they gave his spot to a walk-on who arrived on time. I was hoping for some sort of scuffle between him and the instructor, but he left without a battle royale. It's probably good that there wasn't a fight but it makes for an anticlimactic blog story.

25 July 2008

Tonight I painted a whopping two pairs of Orc pants. They look terrible, too. I was watching a movie instead of watching my brush. Oh well. Not much else to talk about. Tomorrow I start my motorcycle class, so hopefully that works out well.

24 July 2008

I very nearly got through painting all the Orcs' pants tonight. But I got hungry before I made it to the last two and decided to eat instead of paint. At least I'm making progress; and I think the unit will look pretty decent when it's done. I'm learning to paint these guys a little faster; mostly just shortcuts and skipping stuff that won't be noticeable with the naked eye at distances over 4 inches from the model. So hopefully in another week or so I'll be able to finish this unit. After that I may work on something a little different like a Boar Chariot or some Skaven. Who knows?

23 July 2008

I was going to do some painting tonight, but then I started playing Sid Meier's Pirates! and completely lost track of time. I know it's an old game without much in the way of real replay value but as I was moving stuff around this weekend I found the discs and loaded it back onto my computer; it's been downhill since then. It's really a rather addictive little game. So no painting tonight.

Not much else to discuss at the moment. I've been trying to recruit players for the final four spots in the TMP Fantasy Football League, but so far no one's signed up and the thread just fell off the front page of The Miniatures Page. The turnouts for the annual leagues have been getting smaller, sometimes I wonder if it's worth it to keep them going. There is a core group, though, that seems to have a good time.

22 July 2008

I've been working on 11 more Orc Boyz to fill out my Warboss' unit. The other eight figures in the unit were painted several months ago. So far I've just got the skin painted, which on the Orcs takes a lot of time. On Skaven it was just a basecoat and some ink and the skin was done, but on Orcs I have to paint three successive layers of green that follow the contours of the musculature.

Tonight I've been listening to the 40k Radio podcast while painting. Not surprisingly, this podcast focuses on the Warhammer 40k game. So far it's pretty decent. If you're into 40k and like listening to podcasts I'd recommend it.

I think it is somewhat odd that my first interest in wargaming was on the historical side of things (WWII to be exact), but I still haven't really started any historical projects. For reasons that I will touch on in my real-life rant below I doubt that I'll be starting any historical projects soon, rather focusing on painting what I've already got, which is a whole lot of Warhammer Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, Mordheim and Reaper CAV figures. I'd really like to get dug into a World War Two project, though, and build a force of all the slick new Warhammer 40k Space Ork models.

On the real-life front it's been a pretty stressful week. Over the last week there have been some big changes at my workplace. There were some shake-ups in the upper levels of the company and along with those changes and the pressures of the slow economy we've had some meetings about the company moving from an emphasis on quality and claims reduction to a new focus on cutting costs and hours. If that weren't bad enough, a couple days after that move was announced we had another meeting during which we were informed that someone higher in the food chain had realized that the company could save a lot of money if all the full-time dockworkers got bumped to part-time status and lost their benefits packages. I've already started getting fewer hours and now I stand to lose my medical coverage too, just before the baby gets here and we need it most. So I've been looking for another job without a lot of luck. Most of the full-time jobs I've looked at pay between 1/2 and 2/3 the wage I get currently and the benefits packages don't kick in until six months after hire. By that time the kid will be at least two months old. Anything that pays equal to or more than I make now requires a degree or some sort of specialized training. I may have to suck it up and try to find a full-time position wearing the military uniform. I'm not particularly fond of the army life, but personal preference takes a back seat to taking care of the family. I realize that there are people struggling everywhere but on an individual basis it is extremely frustrating. Things were going very well a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm scrambling to figure out how I'm going to feed my family and pay for this kid to get into the world. I also had to drop the classes I was going to take this fall because I will more than likely try to find a full-time job with benefits and stay on with my current company as a part-timer just so I can save money to go to school and get out of this menial labor crap. Sorry to bring real life into my hobby blog, but sometimes you've got to vent a little bit.

20 July 2008

I don't have much to talk about, but I can't sleep for some reason and I'm pretty tired of looking at my Fantasy Baseball rosters today. I've already made all the changes I can without imploding my teams, so there's no point in comparing stats yet again.

I didn't get any painting done today as Saturday is usually the day the wife and I run around and do all our errands together. Of course, running errands usually involves visiting one or two motorcycle shops to look at bikes. We saw a couple of cool vintage bikes today. That was pretty fun. And the wife asked me if I thought we'd let our kid get a little 50cc dirtbike when he gets older. I'm looking forward to taking my motorcycle class next weekend, as my bike is mostly just a fancy driveway ornament until then. I am still sticking to my stance that I won't ride it until then. One of the guys in my National Guard unit is a military motorcycle safety instructor and several of the other guys ride, and they all thought I had a good plan to wait until I had the course under my belt before riding a bike this big. Anyway, I'm looking forward to doing more than sitting on the bike in my driveway making vroom sounds.

Today I looked around at all the figures and books and magazines I've got stashed everywhere in the house and I think it's about time to go through and find everything; then get it organized again. I really don't even know what all I have anymore hobbywise, so that's probably a good sign that I need to reorganize. I'd like to make some progress on the Orcs I'm painting this week as well as get some form of primer on the rest of the 1000-point list. We'll see how it goes.

Also, on nights when I don't have a movie to watch I've been listening to podcasts. The one I've been listening to most is The D6 Generation, which seems to focus more on Warhammer/Warhammer 40k and the Privateer Press games. They do reference board games and a little bit of historical stuff, but not much. Another one I've listened to a couple of episodes of is Podhammer, which focuses entirely on Warhammer Fantasy. There are a couple of others I've been meaning to check out, but haven't got around to. We also discovered a new webcomic. It plays off the premise of the DM of the Rings webcomic, using screenshots from the Lord of the Rings movies to explore what would happen if someone tried to roleplay The Lord of the Rings with players who had never heard of Tolkien. This one is called Darths & Droids and is set in the Star Wars universe. It even comes up with a much better explanation for the existence of Jar Jar Binks than anything George Lucas could cobble together.

17 July 2008

Orc Warboss Finished

I finished up my Orc Warboss tonight. I think he turned out pretty well. I will be adding a shield to him at some point, but I haven't got that painted yet. Now I just have to find an agreeable way to prime my figures so I can paint the rest of my 1000-point army.

16 July 2008

Moving Along...

I've made some more progress on my Warboss, but I think it's about time to close up shop and head to bed. I still have some detail work to do, as well as making the metallics a little more interesting. I'm not sure what color to do the details in. I'm leaning toward red, as I've already got blue, white, and green prominently featured on the mini. I don't think that will make the figure too busy to look at, as the red will just cover the wrappings on the weapon and boots, as well as a wristband. I don't think the boots were meant to have fur on them but I was able to paint the bunched up cloth to convincingly mirror the wolf-head cloak. I guess that's about all for tonight.

I've been working very slowly on my Orc Warboss. His cloak is done, so I'll probably be moving on to various parts of his weapons and armor. In the background you can see some of my Savage Orcs. The darker ones were stained black in my gesso experiment. On the Warboss I decided to go with white fur on the cloak to bring out a good contrast with the skin. I want the Warboss to stand out from the rest of his unit.

15 July 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Today I worked on painting my Orc Warboss. So far I've just got the skin and part of his cloak done, but it's a start. I'd post a picture but there's really nothing to look at. Not much to report on other than that. I have to admit that I'm somewhat envious of the bloggers I see who are able to churn out a full unit of figures every weekend or two.

14 July 2008

Not much time for anything this weekend as I got to go play army for a couple of days. Due to a miscalculated distance on our run last month we got to take another PT test this month. Not really a big deal, but that 2-mile run certainly isn't getting any easier. I'm getting to an age where I will have to work out during the year just so I can pass the test.

One of our Privates fresh out of Basic Training was feeling some embarrassment and probably a bit of buyer's remorse after proudly showing off his new tattoo and then having it explained to him that he is a Cavalry Scout, not a Calvary Scout.

10 July 2008

So far the Liquitex gesso hasn't worked out too well. When I got home from work the Savage Orcs had pinholes all over the primer coat, and the faces were very obscured. I thought that the pinholes may have come from shaking the bottle too much and getting air bubbles in the gesso, and the gesso may have been spread a bit too thick on the faces. So I tried it again, making sure that there weren't any air bubbles in the gesso and taking more time to spread it out. It looked a little better, but there were still pinholes in the finish. And rather than pulling tight against the metal in some areas it tended to stretch out between the details like a webbing. I'll still have to try working with it, but so far I've had three batches of miniatures in the Simple Green. At least the gesso scrubs off a lot easier than primer. Not sure how it works on plastic figures. I may just have to relent and go back to the spraycan.

09 July 2008

The Gesso Experiment, Part 2

I found the local Liquitex Gesso distributor, so I went in and purchased a bottle of their black gesso. I've applied it to a couple of Savage Orcs and will check back later when I get home from work.

Attention Deficit Disorder

I've been clicking around to various hobby and wargaming blogs lately and I've found some comfort in reading that I am not the only one who flits aimlessly about from project to project, often accomplishing next-to-nothing on one project before moving on to the next. Of course this should come as no surprise to me, as I am the same way in the rest of my life.

I'm not sure how many of my readers ever visit my wife's blog, so I thought I'd summarize her recent post on the name of our kid. The short version is that we're going to name him Benjamin Grimm after a certain ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing; most well-known as the big orange rocky member of the Fantastic Four. I used to be a pretty big comic book fan. I still like comics, but I don't buy them anymore as the cover price is a bit much for 21 pages of story every month and the crossovers became a bit overwhelming a year or two ago. Anyway, the Fantastic Four is my favorite comic book team and the Thing is my favorite comic book hero. Benjamin Grimm also isn't so weird that the kid will have to be embarrassed about it later in life. In professional situations he'll be able to go by Benjamin G. or something that sounds fairly normal. You couldn't do that with a name like Norrin Radd or Oatu. It's also a good excuse for me to buy tons of licensed comic book merchandise. I guess we'll see how it goes.

07 July 2008

We didn't do much this weekend, a conscious decision on our part. We took the dogs to the river for a little while and Annie chased a stick in the water while Buddy sniffed the shoreline. On Saturday I washed and waxed my motorcycle. My youngest sister and her husband had a few fireworks for our niece to watch, so we did that with them.

My oldest sister and her husband stopped by to borrow something and I took the opportunity to force them to look at my motorcycle. I still haven't ridden it; I think I'll probably wait until the end of the month when I've taken my safety and riding course. It sucks to wait, but I already made the beginner mistake of buying a literbike instead of something reasonable in the 250-500cc range. I probably shouldn't make another one by jumping on the beast and trying to teach myself how to ride it.

Today we had church and gave Buddy a bath. He's had some eye and ear problems so we've been applying various ointments and attempting to get him feeling well. So far it's working quite well. His eyes haven't been nearly as goopy as they used to be and his ears don't seem to be hurting him anymore.

I tried out the gesso primer on the crews of my Snotling Pump Wagon and Goblin Spear Chukka. I'm not very impressed with it. It fills in too many details and anywhere that has recessed details has a good chance of forming big cracks as the gesso tightens around it. I could try thinning it some more, but that supposedly weakens the polymer bonds and makes it practically useless as primer. I'll have to do some more reading. I'll probably wind up dumping this lot of figures in some Simple Green and try to find another priming solution. At least I was smart enough to try it on a small sample of figures this time.

I may finally be done with World of Warcraft for good. It hasn't been much fun for a while now, although I still persisted in playing it out of habit. I thought maybe joining that guild would be a good way to spark myself into enjoying the game more but my odd hours and antisocial nature kept me from really interacting with any of them, and on the few occasions that I joined up with them to play I found myself frustrated and making excuses to log off. I'm just not a very social animal. Anyway, that's $15/month I can put toward my truck and motorcycle.

01 July 2008

I didn't get any work done on my Orcs and Goblins tonight, possibly because I didn't feel like watching a movie. I think I'll probably go to bed (relatively) early rather than work on any figures. I've been having trouble getting my Savage Orc Shaman to fit into the Savage Orc unit. It's a common problem I have with character models in my armies. My Skaven Warlord only fits in his unit of Stormvermin facing to the rear, and I had to trim the Army Standard Bearer's tail so he could rank up with the other Skaven. The character models in Warhammer just seem to take up a lot of space outside the confines of their bases. I'm thinking about removing the Skaven characters from their current bases and placing them on elevated terrain bases so they can be easily located and rank up properly. I may wind up doing the same with my Orc and Goblin characters.

I went to the DMV today expecting a long wait since I had several tasks to complete while there. Luckily I got there just before the noontime rush and only had to be there for about thirty minutes. By the time I left the place was standing-room only, so I was pretty lucky. After I got my license plate I had to wait to take the test for my Motorcycle Instruction Permit, and the guy next to me asked me what kind of bike I have. I was very happy to show him a picture of it on my phone. He told me about his Honda Shadow, which he apparently just got running after a year or two. It's interesting how your hobbies can spark conversations with people you'd never approach in day-to-day life. It's always interesting to see who approaches me when I wear my World of Warcraft t-shirt or carry a White Dwarf magazine around. I think tomorrow I may actually ride my bike around the trailer park a few times, depending on the weather. I picked up a motorcycle cover tonight, as the wind has been picking up and there are rumors of rainstorms. I wouldn't want my baby to get dirty and wet. The consensus seems to be that my wife is either very cool or very misled to let me buy a crotch rocket. I don't think I misled her all that much, so she must be a cool gal. Either that or the pregnancy hormones have altered her judgment. She did think that once I bought a bike I would shut up about motorcycles for a while, but my commentary has just become a little more focused while possibly increasing in quantity.

Here's another bike they had at the shop that is absolutely mean-looking. Try not to get goosebumps while watching the movie. There's another video on the BMW motorcycles site

I didn't wind up going to bed early, so I decided to add this video that one of the guys in my Guard unit showed us.