31 August 2008

A few exciting things this week, I suppose. I think I must be the only one who reads Beckett Massive Online Gamer and sends in the survey every issue because a couple days ago another prize from them arrived in the mail, this time containing an entire booster box of the WoW Trading Card Game. So my wife and I got to bust open 24 packs of the Servants of the Betrayer set. It's too bad actually trying to keep up with and play the WoW TCG would cost so much money. I'm trying to stay away from collectible games as the sales model is designed entirely to suck players' wallets dry with a new and essential release every three or four months. Our two loot cards, redeemable for items inside the computer game, were both Papa Hummel's Pet Biscuits, which cause pets to grow when you feed the biscuits to them. I was hoping for a rocket mount, which would almost be enough to get me playing the computer game again, but we didn't get lucky enough to pull it.

The new issue of White Dwarf has a couple of free figures packed with it; a Space Marine Terminator and an Ork Nob. I think the starter set releases on September 6th, so it's only a few days away now. I stopped in to get the magazine on Tuesday, which happens to be game night at Hobbytown. There were three or four guys there playing Warhammer 40k.

25 August 2008

Not much to post about tonight. I guess the new job is going well. The pace of office work is sort of a shock to me, as there are lots of gaps between tasks and it feels a bit cheap inventing things to do to fill those gaps. My other jobs have all been the sort where you rush until the work is done and then you go home. I'll probably be trying to learn some of the other people's jobs a little bit so I can help them out when I run out of work.

I haven't had much time for anything gaming-related. I've been trying to get used to the new schedule; and my wife and I have been cleaning out the shed so we can shuffle stuff from the house to the shed and cut back on the piles of junk we've got everywhere. We've put it off for about two years now, but it's getting a bit ridiculous. So far we've sorted out quite a bit of stuff and consolidated several cartons of books onto a bookshelf we found on Craigslist. It's amazing the junk that follows a person around. I also am going to make an attempt at getting the yard looking a bit better. Tomorrow I get to pick up some weed barrier and maybe some wood chips. I'll probably talk to the folks at Zamzow's and see if they have anything that can help our front lawn. The back yard doesn't matter quite as much as you can't see it from the road, but I may try to get something started there. It'll probably take a year or two for it to be more than random patches of weeds, but you don't get anywhere unless you start. It'll be easier to keep up on stuff like that with a daytime schedule, as running the lawnmower in the middle of the night is frowned on around here. The trailer-park managers have been driving by on their golf cart and scowling at us a lot, so maybe doing a bit of upkeep in the yard will build a little bit of credit with them. I was riding my motorcycle out of the trailer park the other day and the manager stopped his golf cart on the road specifically to glare at me until several seconds after I went past him; perhaps he was trying to ensure I didn't exceed the posted 13 mph speed limit?

We've started in on our birthday/Christmas presents for each other early this year so we can make sure to have enough to get each other something. I got Madden 09 for my PS2, probably the other half of my gift will be the Warhammer 40k: Assault on Black Reach set. The Warhammer 40k set should be discounted a fair bit from the MSRP and I've also been saving a $5 off coupon in anticipation of its release. I think my wife wants a serger (some kind of sewing gadget) but she has been noncommittal about it the last couple of days so we'll see if that's what she ends up getting. We've decided not to try surprising each other as it makes more sense to get things we actually want rather than taking a gamble on a guess. When you have a focused sort of hobby it's difficult for people to really guess exactly what you want; ask for miniatures and you're likely to get a bunch of well-meant gifts of figures in scales or armies that you don't play. I think it's the same with any hobby, whether it's a niche hobby like wargaming or something more mainstream like golf.

23 August 2008

I started my new job this week; so far it's been okay. I'm getting the hang of the work and hopefully not screwing it up too much. I got into the office fantasy football league that drafts tomorrow. I'm not sure how hardcore all of the people in the league are, so that makes things interesting. One good thing about the new job is that about half of the people I work with are people I've worked with on the National Guard side of things, so it's a little less awkward socially than just leaping into a new group of people. Probably the worst part of the job is making phone calls. I have a pathological hatred of the telephone; I'd almost rather do anything than make a phone call. But I've been able to make the necessary calls and even deal with some very irate people. And in other job-related news; this morning I rode my motorcycle to work, which is the first time I've had the bike out on the interstate. It was a bit anti-climactic, as things weren't nearly as crazy as I thought they'd be. I also got to wear my awesome reflective vest with the removable Velcro ID badge pocket. And I got a tank bag to carry my base pass and various small items in. And I stuck a bunch of reflective tape on my backpack. So in theory I'm at least a little bit more visible out on the highway.

I think I posted a while ago about getting a miscast jeep in my Flames of War Tank Destroyer Platoon. Today I got an envelope in the mail containing a blister pack of three jeeps, so Battlefront's US contact certainly gets a thumbs-up in the customer service department. This jeep pack has some nice little bits, like optional soft-tops for the jeeps or machine guns that can be mounted on the vehicles. I'm pretty happy about that.

And here's a scary story that happened to us yesterday. I got home from work about ten minutes before my wife. When I opened the door I was greeted by the sight of a rather lagre pile of dog poo on the floor. Then I looked around the living room and saw that it was all over; on the floor, on the couches, and trailing into the kitchen. There was more in the back corner of the kitchen. Our Labrador was staying close to me, but our Bassett Hound still hadn't come out to greet me. I called him a few times and he slowly came out of the back room with his head down. I sent the dogs outside and called my wife to warn her before she got home. The poo trailed off down the hall and into the computer room, where there was a big deposit under my desk. Worst of all, Buddy had stood on top of my pants and left a big load directly on top of them and then run across a bunch of baby clothes, leaving a trail of ooze all over them. It took us 1 1/2 hours and a couple bottles of cleaning products to get it all mopped up, plus several loads of laundry and we'll probably have to rent some sort of high-powered cleaning machine to really get it all. I have no idea how that dog could produce so much waste. I think the main reason for the explosion was that he gets very worked up whenever our routine changes. The first time we really left him in the house without kenneling him, he climbed on our bed and peed on my wife's pillow. At the vet's office he climbed on my lap and peed on me. When we moved the furniture around he peed on the floor. When he was a very little puppy I went into the bathroom for a few minutes and when I came back out a few minutes later he had left a dookie on the floor and run back and forth through it, covering the entire hallway with nasty little footprints. And when I didn't emerge from the bedroom in the late morning or early afternoon he must have panicked and run around the house letting his bodily functions go. I think he's over it now. Supposedly having a pet adds seven years to a person's life expectancy, but I think owning Buddy is exactly the opposite. Still, he's my dog and I can't really fault him. We should have anticipated that he would be stressed out by my absence and brought his kennel back in from the shed for a few days while he got used to the idea of me being gone in the daytime.

16 August 2008

I planned on posting something tonight but got caught up in watching clips of TV shows on Youtube and forgot what I wanted to blog about. So I'll probably just go to bed.

15 August 2008

The U.S. finally got gold and silver medals in gymnastics last night, and the finish of the Women's All-Around event actually had some tension to it. It seemed like the judges were being overly biased and giving extra points to the Chinese team (and really I think one of the Russians should have taken the bronze over the Chinese gymnast) that the other teams weren't getting. It was to the point that the commentators actually started discussing that maybe some gymnasts were getting a little help from the judges, as the judges were ignoring very obvious mistakes that the Chinese made while really nitpicking the other teams. I'm not talking about little errors in form and whatnot, but balance checks and stumbles that even an uneducated oaf like myself could see. But the Americans turned in a couple of very good rotations at the end and came out with the gold and silver medals. One of the best things about the women's competition was that there wasn't all of the trash-talking that the men (especially the American men) were doing. The competitors all shook hands and hugged after routines, and kept up a friendly banter throughout the event. It appeared that they had genuine excitement after a good routine and felt genuinely sorry when someone had a bad routine, no matter which country the other person represented. A little sportsmanship goes a long way.

13 August 2008

I did a little more painting on my Orcs tonight. Not much, as I kept getting drawn into the TV rather than focusing on the painting. No really exciting stuff from the Olympics coverage. The US Men's Swimming team got some more gold medals. I think the Women's Swimming team got a couple of medals. The Women's Gymnastics team had a chance to take the team gold from China and they blew it in spectacular fashion. I need to keep better notes of what colors I use when painting as there are a few areas on these Orcs that I have no idea what I did on the first batch.

12 August 2008

I did a little bit of work on my Orcs tonight; just starting on painting their weapons. I probably could have finished the weapons but I lost interest and set the figures aside while I watched some more Olympic coverage.

It looks like I'm going to take the job out at the military base. It will be at the lower pay rate, so I'll be taking a $0.62 per hour pay cut, but I'll be getting ten to twelve more hours per week and that should result in me pulling in about $600 extra per month. My current job will also keep me on part-time status with another 10-15 hours a week, so we should be able to save up some money for the arrival of the baby. I'm a bit nervous about changing jobs; my wife can attest to the fact that I don't take changes to my routine very well, but this should wind up being a good move for us.

Part of tonight's Olympic coverage was the Men's Team Gymnastics finals. The US took the Bronze medal which was apparently a lot better than they were expected to do. I didn't find the competition to be very exciting and the US team seemed a little bit cocky for how outmatched they were by the Chinese and Japanese teams. All of their soundbites made me less interested in seeing them do well. And what is with volleyball teams group-hugging each other after every point? It seems a little excessive to be hugging each other up to 25 times per set. The winning team for any match will have to hug each other a minimum of 75 times; more if they are beaten on one or two sets. It wastes time and it's annoying to watch. Swimming has become my favorite Olympic sport by a long shot at the moment. There seems to be more action than in the other sports that have been getting airtime recently. It doesn't hurt that the Americans are pulling in quite a few medals in the water.

Hobbytown has a copy of the upcoming Warhammer 40k: Assault on Black Reach starter set in the display case with all of the components laid out for looking at. There is definitely a lot of stuff on the sprues, and I'm pretty pumped up to hopefully snag one of the boxes.

11 August 2008

Crushing the Rodent Revolution

I caught another mouse this morning. He ate all the peanut butter off the first trap, but the second trap got him. I haven't heard any more mouse sounds, so hopefully he was the last one. I'll be setting more traps out just in case, though. Wouldn't want them to rise up and get out of hand because I got complacent.
I wasn't really planning on watching any of the Olympics, but today I got sucked in by the swimming events, especially the much-talked-about rivalry between the US and French teams in the Men's 400m relay. All of the videos of the race on Youtube are pretty fuzzy and jumpy, but it is definitely a race that you have to see. Here's a link to a site where you can watch the video in full quality. The French were heavily favored to win, and had done some trash-talking in the media beforehand. They led for most of the last lap, but Jason Lezak of the US team exploded at the end for a world-record split time and a gold medal for the Americans. They also broke the world record for the event by nearly four seconds.

I also did some planning for a couple of fairly even Flames of War forces. I don't have a copy of the rules yet, so I don't know how much special rules and gameplay affect things, but it seems like the German army gets a lot less kit for the points compared to the Americans. I planned out a Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie and an Armored Rifle Company each with some support elements. Both lists came out to around 975 points, but the Americans got a 4-vehicle Platoon of Shermans and a Tank Destroyer section while the Germans could only afford a 3-vehicle section of Panver IV H tanks once the minimum requirements for the Panzergrenadier company were met. It looks to be a moderately expensive project, so I'll probably collect the units piecemeal over the next several months while working on other projects.

Hobbytown has started a weekly game night up again and if this new job works out I may actually be able to go get some games in with my Skaven and hopefully in the not-to-distant future with my Orcs and Goblins.

I wish there weren't so many interesting projects to think about. My Skaven still aren't properly finished, I've barely started on Orcs and Goblins, I've got a grand total of five Space Marines painted, the Orks have all these new models as well as the awesome deal that is the new 40k starter set, and I've got the WWII bug again with locally available figures in shiny little boxes. That doesn't even take into account back-burner projects like the three full Mordheim warbands I have figures for, a couple handfuls of Foundry pirates, a whole passel of Lord of the Rings stuff I have or want to have, and unfinished forces for Reaper's Warlord and CAV systems. I don't have the money or time for even a quarter of that stuff.

09 August 2008

I am quite certain that automotive engineers hate people. I imagine them to be something like Wally from Dilbert; they are not inclined to do any work and on the rare occasion that they are actually forced to design something they maliciously draw up the plan so that theoretically the part can be changed out with standard tools, as long as the person changing the part has the ability to bend their left arm into several acute angles and hold a flashlight with their right hand while craning their neck up and to the right and squinting one eye. That is the situation I found myself in while changing the oxygen sensor on my truck. I actually found myself in that position several times this week, first to verify that I was in fact ordering the right part, another to get the connector disconnected, once with a wrench that wouldn't quite fit in the little space provided for movement, then with a special socket adapter that allowed me to ratchet the part off with tiny half-inch movements with several breaks to reposition the socket one more hex-face. But the part is changed and we saved a bunch of money, so I guess that's good.

I may have a new job lined up on the local military base. The details aren't all ironed out yet. If it is at the lower pay rate I'll be taking a fifty-cent per hour pay cut but hopefully it will be a full-time job and the extra ten or twelve hours a week will make up for that. If it's at a higher pay rate then I'll be getting a fifty-cent raise as well as the hour differential. I'm not sure on the status of medical benefits or if I'll be able to continue working as a part-timer at my current job.

And in the realm of trailer-park drama, my sisters and brother-in-law have apparently got a feud going on with the guy who lives behind them. A few days ago he started a fire in his back yard and left it unattended. My sister saw the fire and called the trailer-park managers who went to the house and knocked on the door, but the guy wasn't home. So my sister took her garden hose and put the fire out. Today the guy saw my brother-in-law and started yelling at him over the fence for not minding his own business about the fire. They had an argument and didn't really reach any resolution. The guy maintains that he has the right to have illegal fires within ten feet of several highly-flammable trailers. Later on my brother-in-law came over to borrow our lawnmower and his neighbor just happened to be doing yard work in my neighbor's back yard. The guy kept calling out stuff like, "Hey! You don't like me, do you? That's okay, I've been not liked before," and, "I'm a nice guy once you get to know me."

And on a completely random note, today I though to myself, "Wasn't there a band in the 90s with a guy whose only job was to dance?" Indeed there was. It was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Ben Carr is listed as "manager, dancer, and Bosstone." Also, after I wrote in one of those "tell us about yourself by answering fifty questions" e-mails that The Beatles are tremendously overrated a friend from my missionary days forwarded me a link to an article that goes into the subject in more depth than I ever could. It's a pretty good read, especially if it happens to confirm long-rooted feeling that you've never really been able to put into words.

Flames of War M10 3" GMC Tank-Destroyer Platoon Product Review

I made a purchase from Hobbytown's Flames of War display. I picked up a Tank Destroyer Platoon box set, which doesn't at all fit into the Eastern Front games I plan on building forces for. I just can't resist the allure of American WWII vehicles. Some people can't get enough German kit but I'm a sucker for U.S. gear. So I'll probably wind up trying to build opposing forces for Germany and America; I'm trying to decide whether they'll be mechanized infantry or footsloggers. I can pick up various attachments (such as an M10 Tank-Destroyer Platoon) for them to keep things interesting. One thing I like about Battlefront's packaging scheme is the ready-made units. You can buy one box or blister and have all the vehicles, soldiers, and guns you need to fill out the unit. You can also buy individual vehicles and infantry groups. One thing that attracted me to the set I chose was that I got three AFVs, a couple of jeeps, and a couple fire teams worth of infantry as well as crew for each of the vehicles.

The vehicle sculpts seem a little fuzzy and there are some big globs that I'll have to carve off, mostly on the bottom where the tracks and wheels glue on. There is plenty of stowage sculpted on, as well as a sprue of accessories like sandbag armor for the front slopes of the M10s. One gripe I have is the way the metal accessories are attached to their sprues with huge tags running the length. On the jeep windshields, for example, the sprue attaches to one full side of the windshield, meaning I'll have to clip it carefully and file the whole thing down. The same goes for the machine guns and stowage. The M20 armored car has a ring mount for the machine gun that is going to be bear to mount as it doesn't match up with the attachment points. I imagine my fingers and that part will spend a little time glued together before it's all done with. I don't see any problems with the crew and infantry figures although the jeep crew figures are attached to a sprue with the same large tags as the machine guns and windshields.

I like the variety of the sculpts. The jeeps are both a little bit different. The stowage in the back is slightly different and one of them has the windshield folded down with some gear tied across it. Looking closely at this jeep just now I noticed that a section of the windshield broke off at some point and wound up stuck to the hood. I don't know what Battlefront's policy on replacing miscast figures is; I guess this is a chance to find out. The extra stowage sprue for the Tank Destroyers is nice. Aside from the ring mount on the armored car the parts appear to fit well.

Overall I'm satisfied with the product. Hopefully I can get the jeep replaced or fix it myself. It should be fun to put the kits together with their stowage and accessories. I like the full-unit-in-a-box packaging, especially when you can get a unit with a nice mix of vehicles and infantry. I haven't worked with resin figures before, so I'm not sure what to use for glue. I'm sure I can search on TMP and figure it out rather quickly. The resin seems to give them a little more heft than plastic, but not as much as metal. I also don't have any paint for the figures, a situation I'll have to remedy at some point.

08 August 2008

I caught one mouse this morning but signs point to multiple mice lurking in the shadows. I've set out several more mousetraps, so I should have more results soon.
There is another rodent in our house; I have set no fewer than nine traps in hope of exterminating him.

07 August 2008

Today I went down to the DMV and got my motorcycle endorsement. So now I can ride home from work at night legally, which is always a good thing. The guy who processed my paperwork at the DMV did everything in such a slow and deliberate manner that I think he does it on purpose to annoy customers. The little half-smirk he had on his face lends my theory some credence. There was a customer there who kept trying to jump the line. When you go into the DMV you take a number and they call up the numbers in order, so it's generally pretty obvious when it's your turn. She jumped up every time a number was called and went to the open counter only to get sent back when the real number-holder got there. It was pretty entertaining to watch. I'm having more fun riding the bike now that I have a few days out on the public streets. I still get nervous because people really don't see motorcycles. There's an intersection on the way to work with a Yield sign that most idiots treat as a merge sign, rolling straight through into the lane without looking left. They couldn't see me in my truck, and with the bike it's ten times worse. Every couple days I have to swing wide left and gas it a little to avoid getting creamed. Still working on riding one-handed so I can shake my fist or make rude gestures. I manage to do the motorcyclist wave when passing oncoming bikes, but I think shaking my fist might cause the bike to become unstable. And speaking of driving/riding like a moron, here's a little video out of Australia that is pretty hilarious.

My big fantasy baseball trade (I traded away Jimmy Rollins and Nick Markakis for Jhonny Peralta and Vladimir Guerrero) has started working out the way I envisioned. The players I got have had a smoking couple of days, so I'm up on the trade by 7 runs, 3 home runs, 5 RBIs. The guy I traded with has only got one or two stolen bases out of the players I gave him and batting averages are extremely close for both sides. I am worried that giving him Nick Markakis could have been a bad move as he's been pretty hot, but I didn't really have any other outfielders that he would bite on. I think the trend will continue and hopefully the changes I made to my pitching rotation will pay off and put me back in contention in that league. My head-to-head teams are slowly dropping in the standings, as my teams started out very hot and have cooled down since the All-Star break. I should still make the playoffs, but it's going to be a tough post-season for me.

As for Fantasy Football I somehow managed to schedule my first draft for drill weekend and so the software auto-drafted my team. Mot of my picks turned out pretty well, but my receiving corps is pretty weak. My running backs aren't exactly the ones that I would've chosen either, mostly due to durability issues. I'm looking at a starting lineup of:

QB - Tom Brady
WR - Torry Holt
WR - Marvin Harrison
WR - Chris Chambers
RB - Frank Gore
RB - Brandon Jacobs
TE - Jason Witten
K - Stephen Gostkowski
DEF - Minnesota Vikings

It's a decent team with top-ranked players at the QB, TE, K, and DEF spots but the potential for injury and/or struggles at the WR and RB spots mean I'll probably be playing the waivers a lot to keep the team competitive. I suppose that's about enough about Fantasy Sports for now.

On the miniature wargaming front I am still doing a lot more thinking about projects and making very little progress toward actually completing any of them. There are so many different armies and warbands that I'd like to plan/purchase/prep/paint but when the time comes to actually get started I find that I have very little motivation. I saw some photos today on the Grimsby Wargaming blog of a game featuring hundreds (if not over 1000) figures on the table. The historical period doesn't interest me much but the idea of massed lead and plastic (plastic may be considered heresy among the Grimsby group but I tend to prefer plastic figures) is quite titillating to those of the wargamer persuasion, although it is a rare gamer who actually has a large force painted for any of his periods and genres of interest.

05 August 2008

Our air conditioner stopped working on Saturday night while I was away playing army. We had a very warm house on Sunday; it was so warm that on Sunday night we slept in the back of my truck in the driveway as the house was much warmer than the outside air. I've still got our old mattress in the bed of my truck, so we were more comfortable than we could have been. Today the service dude came over and fixed it. Apparently the flux capacitor melted down, preventing the air conditioner from going back in time to the Ice Age to collect cold air to pump into the ducting. At least it wasn't something catastrophic.

Tomorrow I get to fix my truck. My engine light came on, so I bought a Diagnostic Code Scanner to see if I could generate a fault code and fix it myself. Turns out I've got a slow oxygen sensor, which is at least a fairly easy fix. The auto shops want $200-400 for the job, but I think with a wrench and a $70 part I can get it done on my own. Then I get to have my emissions tested; I don't anticipate any problems with that as long as replacing the oxygen sensor solves my engine light problem.

The motorcycle is still fun, and it's been nice to ride for a week on just a couple gallons of gas.

My little sisters turn 20 today. I hope all of their dreams come true.

01 August 2008

An Exciting Development

Last night I remembered that it's the end of the month, and that means it's time to go pick up the new White Dwarf. The first thing I noticed was that the local Hobbytown was in the process of reorganizing the store. The second thing I observed was a shiny new rack full of Flames of War books and figures. One of the employees was trying to do some inventory work in that particular part of the store as well as decide on the final layout of the shelving in that area, but I had a quick look at what was available. As per their usual practice, the minis were discounted somewhat from retail price. There were a lot of German and American figures, a little bit of British stuff, and no Russian figures that I could see (Boo! Hiss!).