31 December 2009

Today You Are a Man

I think I remember the conversation correctly, but a few years ago I was walking around my parents' farm with my grandpa and he said something like, "You know, you're not really a man in this family until you have a big pile of wood." I think he was referring to wood intended for building, but I suppose it could apply to any large pile of cut up tree parts. Today I got my pile of wood. Actually, by the time the guys with the trailer full of wood got here it was the middle of the night. We had ordered one cord of firewood, but they showed up with two in case anyone else responded to their ad while they were getting our wood. We decided to take the second cord. The trailer wouldn't quite get back to the gate in our backyard, so they had to dump it in the driveway. I spent some time moving a lot of it into the backyard, but gave up well after midnight with only about half of it done. Tomorrow I will move the rest. Tonight as I moved the wood, I got caught in some sort of Chaos pocket in which the size of the pile in the driveway increased and the size of the pile in the back yard shrunk in proportion to the pain in my back. At least I again have the tools I need to feed my love of the flame. I run downstairs about thirty times a night to check on the fire and poke at it knowingly with a stick, prodding the coals to ideal spots and generally hen-pecking the flames to death. Next month we will probably be able to purchase a more modern wood stove with a bit more heating capacity and some mechanism to cut down on the smoke. They make some pretty neat stoves.

Not much else to report. When I got home from work today my wife had found my new Christmas slippers and taken control of them. I suspect that we will have to get her a pair or I will only get intermittent visitations with them.

I'm sure there is plenty more to write about, but I think it is high time I get to bed. There is plenty of work to do tomorrow.

30 December 2009


I am feeling the need to write some lists. Good thing I have plenty of notebooks and legal pads.

29 December 2009

House Heating and How to Host a Dungeon

I have a habit of thinking of many topics to post about but never really getting around to posting anything. By the time I sit down to write it's all gone out of my head. I suppose a notebook or digital note-taking device would help me to keep track of myself, but usually the notes wind up being misplaced or are not close at hand when an idea strikes.

We are currently trying to decide whether to replace our furnace and air conditioning system. The furnace is something like 31 years old and the outside unit was replaced 11 years ago. Assuming our power bill goes down quite a bit after the replacement it won't really cost us any more to get the new system. Another thing we may do whether the furnace gets replaced or not is get the wood stove serviced/replaced. It's got a crack in it and the air intake doesn't work properly. It's also very shallow, so I have a hard time building my little wood and paper framework that gets things going. The attractive thing about keeping the stove going is that once it gets going the furnace doesn't come on much at all. And we can get enough wood for the winter delivered to our house for much less than I thought, considering the amount of time and labor it takes to cut, split, and stack it. Not particularly exciting blog fare, but wood stoves and furnaces are what's on my mind.

A friend came over today to paint figures and hang out. I think I painted the belts and shoes on three Easterlings and we played computer games instead. It was fun, but I also feel a bit frustrated as I had hoped to really make some progress on my figure collection. With an Army school to go to in another week, college starting back up after that, then a train-up and a deployment to other parts of the world I have been feeling a lot of pressure to get things done because anything I put off will not get done until I get home sometime in the 2011-2012 timeframe. I am glad to have a secure job, but deployments are an unfortunate side effect of the wars we've got on. The hobbyist in me who greatly values personal time rails against writing off years at a time from his schedule. It's a trade-off.

I recently discovered an interesting solo game through the Mik's Minis blog. It's called How to Host a Dungeon and basically walks you through creating a map and populating an underground dungeon over the course of several thousand years. At the end you've got a neat little map of your dungeon and the entire history behind it. Now when someone asks what a bugbear is doing in some random room you can tell them the events that brought the creature to that location. I'd recommend reading Mik's post about it.

I still have plenty to post about, but if I don't get to bed I will never wake up for work in the morning. I figure I should show up to work sometimes, since that's how the work for pay thing operates. When I was young I thought that adult life must be rather pleasant and full of excitement. I never thought I'd be sitting at the table with my wife looking at firewood on Craigslist and discussing which bills should be paid when.

26 December 2009

We've had a busy few days celebrating Christmas. On Christmas Eve we visited some friends and participated in their Christmas traditions. The husband just commissioned as a 2LT in the National Guard and the wife is in the OCS program right now. As with most of the people I meet, my wife became friends with her and they conspired to force friendship upon the males. The lady of the house was eager to show off her AR-15, which prompted my wife to suggest to me that we spend a portion of this year's tax return on my own AR-15 kit that has been sitting in limbo for about four years now. In addition to the gun show, we also sang (I wrangled the boy or acted as book-holder in lieu of a musical contribution) hymns and read the Christmas story from Luke 2.

This is probably not the kit I would choose, but it certainly would stand out in a crowd:

The next day we did Christmas Eve again at my parents' house. We were unfortunately late for the Christmas program and only caught the end of it, but we were in time for the seafood boil and hanging out afterward. My grandma informed me that she reads my blog, so I have to be careful what I say. The seafood boil is a fairly recent tradition and is one of those meals every year when I never want to stop eating. I am usually one of the final holdouts at the table, cracking crab legs, eating shrimp if there are any left, and digging for the last few onions and potatoes. And even when all the food is gone I find myself thinking that I could probably have packed away just a little bit more of everything.

Today we did Christmas, again at my parents' home. It was a bit chaotic, as there has been a population explosion among the ranks of the grandchildren and they like to go every which way making as much noise as possible. It was still nice, and we're lucky to be able to have all six of the siblings and our families around for the holidays. I expect to be in Iraq for next Christmas, something that I'm not especially looking forward to. I spent Christmas of 2004 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq and I recall that it was pretty miserable. The weather stunk, the overfull Porta-Potty out behind the barracks stunk, and our mail hadn't caught up to us yet so it really was the kind of holiday you'd rather forget.

My little brother liked the presents I got for him, so I felt pretty good about that. My wife spent the last couple of months knitting and sewing to prepare her gifts, and I think they went over well. She really puts a lot of thought and effort into making sure the things she makes match the person she's giving them to, and she is quite accomplished as a producer of crafts. She made matching John Deere pajama pants for the four little boys, who are all one year old (or pretty close). My dad said something about wanting a pair for himself.

I got some miniatures to start me off on my Empire army and a Games Workshop Watch Tower, and my dad gave me some very comfortable slippers. I am reluctant to remove them for any reason. My wife and I got laptops a couple of months ago as Christmas/birthday presents, so we didn't get each other anything to open during the gift exchange. The boy got a large assortment of toys and books. His favorite toys are anything that has wheels. That kid is crazy about wheels. It was a pretty good holiday all around. The boy was exhausted after today and has slept for most of the afternoon and evening.

We've recently got the wood stove going to see if running it causes an appreciable decrease in our electric bill. So far my impression is that the stove is not large enough or placed in the right location to cause much of a dent in the heating bill. The furnace is original to the house which makes it older than me by a few years and we could probably save a lot more money by upgrading that machine. The heating company is coming by on Monday to take a look at it and determine what the best course of action is. The house inspector recommended replacing it soon when we bought the place, and as the heating company is in the business of making money that is likely what they'll recommend. It may be a good time to get that done as if we do it before the start of the new year we'll be able to take advantage of another tax credit as well as a couple of incentives that the heating company is putting out there to drum up business in the depressed economy. Not directly exciting, but in theory the tax credit from a new furnace would be the funding source for my AR-15 kit. Coming back to guns brings this post around the full circle, and now is as good a time as any to end it. I was able to get a little paint on some Easterlings this weekend, and really probably only have two or three more hours until they're done. I'll post a photo when it happens, although they look just like the ones I painted a while ago.

20 December 2009

I didn't get as much hobby stuff done as I wanted, but I did at least get some hobby stuff done. That's a step up from most weekends lately. Saturday was taken up for the most part by putting in some weekend hours at work and finishing up my Christmas shopping. We had a meeting during the week announcing some layoffs, and then an e-mail came out stating that the layoffs are not going to happen unless funding gets cut. My position is one that was right on the edge as far as being cut. It's one of those things that comes down to whether you or the guy next to you gets the axe. My supervisor mentioned that he was going to be in the office for a few hours on Saturday, so I volunteered to put in some time as well. Maybe it's a cheap move to gain points, but if that's what I have to do to keep my family fed and under shelter, then that's what I have to do. But I didn't come here to talk about the day job.

I've put together almost all the Dwarves for my 1000-point Warhammer Fantasy army. They are made up from the Skull Pass starter set and a Dwarf Battalion boxed set. I have to admit that I like the one-piece Skull Pass Dwarves better as the multi-part ones have a lot of unsightly gaps where they fit together. With plastic figures I much prefer that joins be flat surfaces rather than ball-and-socket joints. Once they are painted up I don't think anyone will notice one way or the other, but there are a lot of gaps in the multi-part Dwarves.

All I have left is a unit of Slayers. I'm not looking forward to them, as they are metal models and I hate cleaning the flash and mold lines off of metal figures. I much prefer plastic. I don't have any epoxy at the moment either, so I will have to get some before I can get the Slayers put together and on their bases anyway. I noticed while test-fitting them that getting them to rank up is going to be a circus. I may have to find some slotted bases with diagonal slots rather than the horizontal ones.

I was having trouble getting my Liquid Plastic Cement to flow from the container and I didn't want to push the issue as the last time I did that it ended with a painful mess. So I used some regular Plastic Cement, which is much thicker and more likely to squish out the sides of whatever you're gluing together.

I didn't paint the Razorback or the Easterlings. I did use my airbrush for the first time with mixed results. The paint that stayed on is pretty smooth and nice-looking, but the parts that were watery and ran need to be sanded and redone. The Easterlings I just didn't get to. I'm thinking about just using what Skaven I've already got to make up my 1000 points of ratmen so I can power through a group of something else when I get done with the Dwarves. I'm thinking about switching scales for a bit and doing some 15mm World War Two for Flames of War. I've got enough figures for a generic U.S. Rifle Company with some support elements. I was looking through the Bloody Omaha book the other day and thought it would be neat to do some Boat Sections for a D-Day scenario. But that's getting a little ahead of myself. Once the Slayers are assembled I may trot out some Skaven and send the two forces across my kitchen table to battle each other, painted or not.

16 December 2009

Space Marines and Dwarfs

I did a variety of things today. I put some varnish on my Space Marine Scouts. I assembled a few Dwarfs. I also got out the airbrush and gave it a try on the Razorback. I'm not sure if it was mixture or distance or a combination of the two, but the paint was a bit too watery when it hit the vehicle and much of it ran down the sides. So I need to work on that a bit and get a little better with the airbrush. I still have a lot to do if I want to finish the Razorback and those Easterlings by the end of the weekend. It would be incredible if I could get the whole Dwarf army painted by the time school starts up again, but I don't really see that happening. I've got an Army school that will take up much of January, so I really only have about three weeks to work with. I may have them all assembled by then.

If my instructors put in the grades I anticipate, I should end this semester with 3 B's, an A, and a Pass. That's not too bad, especially as I was considering dropping out of one of my classes in order to keep up in the others.

It kind of bothers me that Games Workshop uses the word Dwarfs to refer to multiple Dwarves. Dwarves seems a lot more correct to me.

15 December 2009

I still haven't found the Dwarf book, but I found a lot of other stuff while looking for it. I was able to put together a list based on the figures I have and the Army Builder software. The list is pretty basic, but at 1000 points it seems like it will stand up pretty well against Skaven and Orc & Goblins. And I was able to fit a small unit of Slayers in there, which is always good. Nothing like a bunch of half-naked berserkers with orange hair and an oath to die in battle to make up for past misdeeds.

While I was at it I wrote up a new list for Skaven at 1000 points. I could have written it out using models I've already got painted, but instead I wrote in the Plague Furnace and a unit of Plague Monks to push it. The rest of the list is from models I've already painted. I don't know if this Skaven list will be able to match up against the Dwarfs. It basically relies on Skaven Slaves to absorb fire for a turn or two while the Plague Furnace advances and then the war machine and magic will hopefully kill the Dwarfs enough to win the day. It's not a very reliable plan, but at least I'll add a neat model to my collection. I'm looking forward to it.

I forgot to mention yesterday that the boy has begun to walk. He still prefers crawling for most applications, but he'll walk from point-to-point if he feels like he can make it, and his range is steadily improving.

The wife sent me out to the garage to find the Christmas decorations earlier this evening. While I was out there I couldn't help myself and I started up my motorcycle and gave the throttle a few twists. Then I got dizzy from the exhaust and had to go get some fresh air on the back deck. But the bike fired right up and sounded good.

Some of the treasures I found while looking for the Dwarf book included the $150 gift certificate I got when I bought my bike, a $30 check from the credit union, all of my Flames of War stuff, and several boxes of miniatures I'd forgotten I had. I can't seem to find one of my Screaming Bells, though. I have the latest model, I have the first sculpt, but I can't find the middle one. I'm almost certain I own one, though.


Of course, as soon as I decide to work on some Dwarves I find that my Dwarf Army Book has come up missing. I can find every single Warhammer book I own aside from that one. I have no idea where it is. Meh.

14 December 2009

It's only Monday and I'm already looking to the end of the week.

I am kicking myself a little because I could have painted a bit today while the wife and kid were napping, but I was too lazy to go upstairs and do it. Rumor has it that tomorrow I will be pressed into service as a babysitter while the wife works on Christmas projects, but by the end of the weekend I would like to have the Razorback for my Space Marines painted and finish the unit of Easterlings that's been half-finished for probably over a year now. That will complete my initial 750 points of Space Marines. The list is not optimal; the most glaring weakness is a distinct lack of anti-armor capabilities. In theory it was built with my complementary Ork list in mind, which doesn't have anything more resilient than a truck. At 750 points there isn't a lot of room for bigger armored vehicles unless you want to put a lot of your eggs in one basket. Anyway, that list will be complete and I will probably move on to something different for a little while.

I'd really like to work on some Empire troops for Warhammer Fantasy, but I don't have any Empire figures. Armies I have figures for include Wargames Factory Vikings, Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard, Warhammer 40k Orks, Warhammer Fantasy Orcs & Goblins, Warhammer Fantasy Dwarfs, 6mm Baccus American Civil War, Reaper CAV, Mordheim, various bits and pieces for Lord of the Rings/War of the Ring and maybe Reaper's Warlord system which has a new rulebook. I'm leaning toward one of the Warhammer Fantasy factions as it would be nice to have something to run up against my Skaven. Alternatively I could paint up a small force for 40k, although with a choice between Imperial Guard and Orks even a small force means 50 figures and a vehicle or two. Maybe I'll work on 1000 points of Dwarfs.

And on the reptile front I got my copy of Reptiles magazine in the mail today. One of the features was on habitats. One of the neat things I saw was this coffee table terrarium made by Cages By Design. If I had money I'd get one for our tortoise. It would be quite a conversation piece. They also have an end table that would be perfect for a small snake. I think after the upcoming trip overseas I will try raising a snake again, hopefully with a larger, healthier specimen.

12 December 2009

Good Stuff

I am nearly done with the school semester and as long as my final next week isn't a disaster I should pass all my classes. I certainly won't be making the dean's list this time around, but sometimes just passing is enough. I am still deciding how many classes to take next semester. The Army pays me more money to go to school if I take a full course load, but with school, National Guard, and the day job I find myself stretched a bit thin.

At my day job I was put in for an incentive award and got a nice little addition to my paycheck. It comes out to equal about a 4% raise for the year, so that was a nice little surprise. We've had a lot of manpower shortages at work as people were away throughout the year and I was asked to cover for some of them. I feel a little undeserving as there are others in the office who were asked to do just as much, but I appreciate the recognition and the extra paycheck.

With about three weeks of no school between now and January it would be nice to finish some wargaming stuff, but I don't know what I'll work on or how much progress I'll make. I've been toying with the idea of an Empire army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I think I've discussed it here a couple of times, but the plan is to build a Crusade-style army around a big block of Flagellants (fanatical rag-wearing religious nuts who are convinced the world is about to end).

I also need to finish up some Space Marines. I'd really like to build some War of the Ring armies, but cost is an issue. In most cases basic troops are very cheap, but even a small unit of elite figures that come in blister packs can be quite expensive. Add a few hero models at $15-20 each and you're looking at a significant expense. A while back the local shop had all of their blisters at 50% off, but by the time I had some money they'd been pretty well picked through. At the moment they've got High Elves, Dark Elves, and Orcs & Goblins all on clearance. I don't really enjoy Elves, but a pack or two of Goblin Warbosses and Shamans would be nifty.

I've got some books covering some Dark Ages battles, so I plan on digging into those in preparation for doing some historical stuff. More on that as I actually get things going.

Bad News

My new snake has died. I don't really know why. I'd been having trouble getting it to eat, but thought I had that sorted out. The temperature in the terrarium was all right, and the heat source was functioning. I don't think humidity was an issue. Even with the problems I'd had in getting the snake to eat, I don't think enough time had passed for the snake to starve to death. It bothers me because I didn't go into this intending for the snake to suffer or die. I'd done research and gone out of my way to purchase a breed known for strong feeding and ease of care. Maybe it never got over the stress of transit. I just don't know, and it bothers me a lot.

02 December 2009

Thinking About Vikings

I have recently become fired up about gaming in the Dark Ages. I've spent a lot of time looking through the various sets of rules that I've acquired (Field of Glory: Wolves from the Sea, Warhammer Ancient Battles: Shieldwall, and Terry Gore's Medieval Warfare).

In the back of the Gore book I found a brief order of battle for the battle of Stamford Bridge, pitting Vikings against Saxons just prior to the battle of Hastings. I've since read a few online accounts of the battle, which was a rather one-sided affair as the Vikings were caught off-guard by the appearance of a defending army and had sent their armor back to the ships while they goofed off in the river. I've also learned that Gore also published a campaign book featuring the battles of Fulford Gate, Stamford Bridge and Hastings as well as further books of army lists and scenarios for the period. Since I've already got some plastic Vikings I will probably start off with them and attempt to put together enough stuff to recreate these engagements.

The first order of business is to read some books on the topic. It's been a while since I've been excited to read anything so that's a step up for me. Second is to do some research on uniforms (or lack of) and the like. I've already got a few references assembled for that. Once I've got a fair understanding of how it all went down I can get my armies put together and hopefully pick up some of those other books, especially the campaign book. I had a heck of a time finding a U.S. distributor for them, but eventually stumbled on the website of Noble Knight Games, who have all of the books I was looking for at a reasonable cost. Now I just need to write my list up for Santa. Hopefully in the next few months I will have some concrete progess to show instead of mere scheming and dreaming.

01 December 2009

I still have not been able to come up with a solid list from the Skaven army book. Part of my problem is that there are so many units in the Special choices section of the book that I can't choose everything I want to include. Something gets left out, especially if you consider that I need a large unit of Plague Monks to push a Plague Furnace about. You can take a special character to make Plague Monks into Core choices, but he is so expensive that I can't justify it.

So I've put the Skaven on a back burner for now. Once school ends in a couple of weeks I will probably try to get back on the wagon and see what I can come up with. But between work, school, and home I am so burned out right now that it's all I can do to be semi-functional from day to day.

24 November 2009

I've been meaning to post some sort of review of the new Skaven book, but I haven't even found a spare hour or two to read through it and build an army list. I've even been too short on time to read through the latest White Dwarf, and that's mostly pictures.

Today was my birthday. I worked a couple extra hours trying to get a little closer to caught up. We usually get a big influx of work prior to holidays as the various unit clerks try to get their desks cleared off before the long weekends. Just kind of goes with the territory. Once I got home I had some schoolwork to do and now I've got about five hours before I get to wake up and do it again. Ah well, at least I am somewhat securely employed.

My dad took me out to lunch today, and the wife and I might go to dinner tomorrow. She cooked up a turkey today and we'll probably have to have another one by next week. If there's a cooked turkey around we won't leave it alone until it's all gone.

The kid is feeling much better, so hopefully no more trips to the doctor or the Emergency Room. Along with feeling better he's got his sense of humor back, so that's been fun. He's a total loony bin and he loves to goof off and make faces. He's been "cooking" a lot lately. He's got a bunch of pots and pans from the kitchen and he'll put his toys in them, mix them around, put the lids on and take them off, and transfer items from pan to pan.

22 November 2009

A Realization

I think I figured out why the snake wasn't interested in eating. A couple of days ago I was looking at the burrows it lives in from the bottom of the aquarium and I saw some shed skin in one of them. It probably wasn't eating because it was in the middle of a molt.

In other news, this was a horrible weekend. The boy has been sick and is quite miserable, which means he's required a lot of attention and everyone else has been miserable along with him. Pretty much nothing that needed done got done and I'm going into next week feeling very far behind on everything.

20 November 2009

Only one of the shops in town had the new Skaven Screaming Bell/Plague Furnace in stock today (today is the release date for it). I went in to have a look at it, but couldn't stomach the price tag for the kit. This particular shop caters only to gamers, unlike Hobbytown which covers all sorts of hobbies, and they charge full MSRP for their products. I will probably wait until Hobbytown gets it into stock or buy it online at a discount website. Although I tend to get the figures I like, I still have a little cheap gamer living inside of me.

18 November 2009

It's About Time

I have been quite worried about the new snake, as it was not wanting to eat and it's been almost two weeks since it arrived in the mail. I tried just about everything I could to get it to eat, but it would run away from or just ignore the food. A few nights ago I even tried putting a live pinky in the cage to see if it would take that. No dice, so I wound up having to kill the pinky rather than let it die a slow death by starvation.

Tonight I saw the snake moving around a couple of times, which is supposedly a signal of hunger. So I got a mouse out of the freezer, thawed and warmed it, and presented it to the snake with some hopefully realistic wriggling motion. At first the snake started to pull back away from it, but when I began bumping the mouse's head against the snake's tail he grabbed onto it and coiled up around it. I wiggled the mouse a bit while the snake had it gripped and that seemed to trigger a little more aggression in the snake. Then I left the snake alone for a while so it wouldn't get spooked before it swallowed the food. I checked once as it was getting the mouse situated and the next time I checked it had burrowed back down into the substrate with a nice little bump in it's belly. So now I at least know the snake will feed.

14 November 2009


My cousin invited me to play Warhammer 40k with him today. I declined, citing a need to do schoolwork. I imagine I also had underlying reasons like unfamiliarity with the rules and lack of a full-sized army. I have spent the morning thinking I probably should have gone to play games and done my schoolwork tonight and on Monday.

12 November 2009

More Wargames Factory

As I mentioned previously, I got my initial order of Wargames Factory Vikings in the mail. The boxed set isn't available yet, but the introductory sample pack is on the website. Each set contains 3 sprues with enough parts to make 8 figures. I wound up getting 40 Vikings for about $30. Also included in the box were a couple of sampler sprues for the company's Ancient German infantry and some Zulu warriors. It looks like I've got enough parts for 5 Zulus and 6 Germans. The free figures are nice, even though I don't really have a use for the Zulus.

Overall I am happy with the Vikings. It looks like you have to be careful which arms you put on each figure, as the figure I put together looked goofy with a sword and shield. I had to build him as an archer instead. Mold lines were pretty minimal, and much easier to take care of in plastic than in metal figures. Looking at it from the cheap wargamer perspective, the impression upon opening the box was that there was a lot of plastic in there for the money.

11 November 2009

Viking Comparison

I got a few sprues of the Wargames Factory Vikings a few days ago. I put one of them together to see how it would look. I had originally intended to give him a sword and shield, but they looked goofy when I test-fitted them and I gave him a bow instead. The picture features the Wargames Factory archer on the left, a Foundry Viking in the middle, and a Gripping Beast Saxon on the right. I was going to have all three be Vikings, but I grabbed the wrong Gripping Beast box and was too lazy to go back upstairs.

To my eyes the Gripping Beast figure fits fairly well with the Wargames Factory sculpt, while the Foundry figures look a bit shorter and heftier than the others. The difference isn't enough that I would feel uncomfortable mixing all three on the table together. I'll probably mix and match what I've got and fill out the rest of my purchases with Wargames Factory.

07 November 2009

New Skaven

The new Skaven army book is out. I haven't had a chance to really look at it yet, but it appears that not a lot has changed with the army I've got painted. It does add several new units that weren't available in the last edition. I'd like to get some of the new models, especially the Doomwheel and the Plague Furnace/Screaming Bell kit. Not much else to say as I'm off playing army for a couple of days and typing on my phone.

05 November 2009

A Snake

I got a snake. It's a Kenyan Sand Boa, with a different coloration than most. They are generally orange and brown, but breeders have taken recessive traits and bred them without the orange pigment, resulting in a white and brown snake. I haven't named the snake. It is currently under a foot long and about as big around as a finger. These are a small species and do not get much longer than a couple of feet. They do get pretty thick, though. One interesting thing about this species is that it burrows. I guess you could say that makes it a boring pet as the most you ever really see of it is a head poking out of the substrate, but they are rather fascinating to me.

In this picture you can see that the eyes are a little bit forward and high on the head. This helps them to see while sitting mostly under the ground. You also might be able to see that the snake has got a bit of an underbite. The pronounced upper jaw helps the snake avoid getting sand in its mouth when digging into the ground.

This photo was taken from the Vida Preciosa International, Inc. website gallery. It shows a large female with normal coloring. You can see that the Kenyan Sand Boa is very thick with a relatively small head.

I am hoping that my snake will get acclimated quickly and begin eating soon. I saw it waiting at the surface this evening, but it didn't take the pre-killed pinky mouse that I offered to it. I imagine the snake was just checking things out rather than exhibiting hunger.

01 November 2009

Wargames Foundry vs. Wargames Factory

I've been thinking about Vikings lately, since Wargames Factory is now producing plastic Vikings by the truckload. * A few days ago I got an e-mail from Foundry about a 20% off everything sale. So I decided to dig in and crunch some numbers. I could throw Gripping Beast in as well, but I've had shipping problems with both orders I've placed through them and don't want to deal with that. The issues always got resolved, but I'd prefer not to have to send e-mails and wait an extra month to get my figures. Your mileage may vary depending on location, I suppose. On to the numbers.

As a base, I took the Viking starter list from Field of Glory's Wolves from the Sea supplement. It doesn't really seem like a starter list at 247 figures, but it's just a baseline for the number-crunching.

For Wargames Factory you could get the figures for $219.45. You'd have a few figures left over, and probably a lot of repetition when it comes to torsos, arms, and the like. Positives are that you can pose them how you want and mix them with other kits.

The Foundry army would cost at least $430 at the sale price, and quite a bit more at the regular price. I do like the sculpts, and even if I go with another option I may still get a unit or two of their berserkers. From my limited reading it seems like berserkers and ulfhednar (berserkers wearing wolf pelts and possibly on drugs) may be more fiction than reality, but they are so characterful it seems a shame not to run a few of them. But that price tag really pushes me away. I do not have a nostalgic attachment to metal figures and even usually prefer plastic figures anyway, so the plastic/metal argument doesn't come into play for me.

By price point alone the Wargames Factory figures seem like the way to go. With the money saved I could buy a full Saxon army whenever they get around to releasing their Saxon set.

I am probably going to order a couple of the Wargames Factory preview sprues to see how they look. I have doubts that they will fit in sizewise with the Gripping Beast figures I already have as plastics generally seem to run a little big, but that's something I will check. Any sort of massive army-building in this era is a long way down the road, but that won't stop me from window-shopping.

* - Size of truck may vary.


We had a combination birthday/Halloween for the boy today, as he turns one next week. He took all the excitement surprisingly well, not getting too worked up throughout the day. He probably did better with it all than I did. And he was a pretty cute little pirate. Of course, with him being so young he didn't really know what all the singing and cake was all about, but that's fine.

I got to see my sister's baby for the first time, even though he's a few months old now. He looks about like any other baby. They live across the state, so I don't get to see them very often. I finally got to show the new motorcycle to my dad. He took it for a spin around the neighborhood. And my friend E. A. and his family came over. He had to spend much of the day doing homework (probably something I should have done as well), but we did get to talk about games a little. We mostly just discussed different game systems we'd like to try, the cost of sourcebooks, and the lack of time available for the pursuit of gaming.

[old man mode] One thing I noticed as kids came to our door for Trick or Treating was that a lot of the older kids didn't even bother to dress up. Really, are they so lazy that they can't even bother to smear some face paint or something on and be a zombie? If you're too old to dress up, then you're too old to go around and beg for candy. [/old man mode]

26 October 2009

Higher Education

Last weekend I took a one-credit workshop on Reptiles and Amphibians. I wasn't sure that I wanted to go as I work enough weekends already without throwing school into the mix on top of that.

I needn't have worried, as it turned out to be one of the better classes I've attended. The lecture portions on different animal groups and the keeping of herps as pets were pretty good, but the real highlight for me was the hands-on time with all the different animals. On the first day they had a caiman ( a relatively small crocodilian) in the classroom, which was a good reminder that these animals are never really tame. She spent much of the time trying to spin around and grab the instructor as he lectured about her.

Several snakes were passed around the room, so I got to handle a Rubber Boa, a Ball Python, a Great Basin Gopher Snake, and a Sand Boa on the first day. I think my favorite for the first day was the Rubber Boa. Who knew that Idaho has a native boa? I didn't know that. Here's a picture of one I found online.

We also got to touch a Great Basin Rattlesnake, which is probably not something I'd get to do outside of class. The front of the snake was immobilized in a plastic tube, so there was relatively little risk of him spinning around and biting someone. That was pretty neat. This is a picture of him, taken from the instructor's website, EcoSnake.com:

On the second day we spent a lot of time with lizards, but also more snakes. The lady doing the lecturing had some large Green Iguanas with her and explained that even though they are extremely common in the pet trade they are about the worst lizards you can get as far as temperament and sheer size of necessary habitat. She also had some Bearded Dragons and some other creatures, like Corn Snakes, Kingsnakes, a couple of Box Turtles, and a toad.

At lunchtime my wife stopped by with our Russian Tortoise so we could pass him around the room for everyone to look at. A lot of people commented on how strong Owen's legs are, as when you're holding him he attempts to pry your fingers off with his legs. We also talked the instuctor into showing her the Gila Monster, and we both got to pet him while the instructor held him in a way that he wouldn't try to bite us. Rumor has it that while the Gila Monster's venom is not exceptionally dangerous it is a very very painful bite. When they bite they don't just inject venom with fangs, they grind it into you with all of their nasty teeth.

Highlights aside from the Gila Monster were holding a Dumeril's Boa for about 30 minutes and a Bearded Bragon. The Grey-banded Kingsnake was a nice-looking snake. I liked the Dumeril's Boa a lot, but my wife said no big snakes allowed in the house. She liked the Ball Python we had a while ago, but she often had nightmares about the snake eating us.

All in all it was a lot of fun and pretty informative. The school offers several workshops with different course numbers featuring the same people as instructors, so I could take the class a couple more times for credit. The instructor's name is Frank Lundburg. Below is a picture of the Green Iguana; you can see me in the background. I'm the guy in the Denver Broncos shirt holding a snake. It's hard to see from here, but I think it's the gopher snake.

I may just join the Idaho Herpetological Society and nerd out with the reptile folks.

23 October 2009

Too Good to Resist?

I got an e-mail from Wargames Factory regarding the release of their new plastic Vikings. They aren't ready to release the actual boxed sets, but they do have some preliminary sprues up for ordering. Price point is $4.95 for three sprues with enough parts to make 8 Vikings with various bits left over. Free shipping is available with orders of $100 or more, so for $103.95 you could get 168 Vikings. Even at lower quantities with flat-rate shipping the prices are very competitive. To me they look very nice. I'm not sure how long this preliminary run will be available. I already got my present, but if you want Vikings for Christmas you may want to point your relatives/friends to this link.

20 October 2009

A Thought on Hobby Crossover and Dwarf Cavalry

My wife and I have logged back into World of Warcraft, which is pretty fun. It's a bit of an old change I think, but I like the addition of the Achievements system. Having a bunch of those little mini-goals works well, especially for a solo player. This weekend I hit level 75 and went up to Dalaran, the main hangout in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. While there I found a vendor willing to sell me a Bear mount and I promptly bought it. I have some quest reward Viking-style helmet and a big axe, so when mounted my character looks a lot like this sculpt from Reaper. I almost want to go and paint that figure up. I'm not sure what the appeal is, but there is something awesome about a VIKING DWARF RIDING AN ANGRY BEAR AND CARRYING A BIG AXE!

Not much going on with other hobbies. I've been running and working out in the mornings as my job gives me three hours a week to devote to it. I figure that if they're going to give me the time I might as well try to get a little healthier and maybe grow some bigger arms. I hate to say it, but I feel a little more energized on the days I actually do something physical before work instead of just crawling out of bed and dozing through the morning.

I am finding school rather difficult at the moment. I'm clinging to B's in most of my classes and need to crack down just a little harder as far as studying and making sure I know the material. Usually by the time I get home I just want to relax and hang out with my family. There is something to be said for finishing your degree while young and unattached.

16 October 2009

The Other Hobby Shop

I think I mentioned a few posts ago that I'd stopped at one of the other hobby shops in town. They used to be in the middle of downtown in a horrible (for me) location, so I'd never really paid much attention to them. They also run a little higher on prices than Hobbytown. Someone had mentioned to me that they'd moved to a new location, but I'd never really thought about it beyond that. I found myself with a little time to kill and wanted to look at the new Space Wolves, so I went to Hobbytown first. They were sold out. So I spent some time searching for the new location of All About Games and finally called to find out where they were, as it turned out that the driving directions on my phone had a wrong turn or two in them.

At the shop they were sold out of Space Wolves, but the lady at the counter did pull out a couple of the sprues so I could see the parts first-hand. She also offered to set aside some figures from the next shipment for me. I thanked her and declined, then had a look around the store. The back of the store had a gaming area filled with role-players doing their thing. The shop carries a lot more variety than Hobbytown. They had some scenic bases, I saw a rack full of that fantasy sea battle game (Uncharted Seas?), and a really big shelf of used game books. I almost picked up a copy of the HERO System starter book from there, but I haven't heard from my friend if he plans on running that campaign and would rather not buy a book until he decides on an edition (6th edition just dropped, but a new RPG system is a big investment). They also had a boxed set of Blood Bowl and a whole pile of blisters for that game. I've been wanting to try that out as it seems like a lot of fun, but the sticker price drove me away for the moment. That pretty much sums up the high points that I noticed.

Some of the staff seemed like your typical elitist too-good-to-talk-to-a-customer-I-don't-recognize game store clerks, but the lady who helped me out was professional and helpful. Come to think of it, I've seen her around at the other game shops and the old location for that store playing Warmachine/Hordes. If I buy any more hobby stuff in the near future I may try to put some of that money into their register, just as a way to help a decent FLGS running. They don't seem to have a website up, so I won't link to it, but if you're in the Boise area you might want to drop in and check it out.

15 October 2009

Upcoming Skaven Releases

I've been meaning to write about the upcoming Skaven releases for a little while now, but I never got around to it. My only fully-painted army is the ratmen, so a new army book is of great interest to me. The new book will be released in the first week of November along with a few box sets and blisters. I have mixed feelings about the figures.

I don't particularly like the look of the Clanrats boxed set. A lot of people like them better than the old ones, but to me they just don't look quite right. Some of the weapons and shield look okay, but with the new attachment scheme (ball-and-socket joints rather than flat surfaces) they may not be compatible with the old kit. I probably won't be picking any of them up, instead I'll probably try to find some of the older ones before they all disappear.

I like the Stormvermin a little bit more, although they follow the same basic sculpting lines. You can get twenty of them for the price of about half a unit of the old metal figures, which goes a long way toward easing someone into the new look.

The new Doomwheel is a very good-looking kit, and is causing a lot of ruckus on various blogs for both Skaven armies and conversions into various Orc and Chaos armies.

There are also photos floating around of a new Screaming Bell/Plague Thing kit which looks okay, but I think it signifies a move by GW to push the Skaven closer to a Chaos army than a zany, warpstone-crazed mad scientist society. I seem to be in the minority, but I could really do without the Chaos stuff in the Warhammer universe. None of it really grabs me or appeals to me at all. I hope that the new book doesn't push them too far in that direction, and even if it does I am confident that I can proxy normal-looking models to avoid all that. And it could be that I am being all doom-and-gloom for no reason and everything will turn out fine. The second hobby of most gamers is to complain and whine about their favorite toys.

None of my pictures here are anything new, having been taken from places around the web. They've all been in circulation for at least a week or two now.

12 October 2009

After completing my Scout Squad I am left with a decision to make. If I paint the Razorback that's on my painting table the 750-point Space Marine list I originally came up with will be completely painted. I could finish the unit of Easterlings for the Lord of the Rings game and work toward the goal I set a few posts ago to try to get all the partially-painted stuff done. Or I could work on a Dreadnought and also be closer to finishing partially-painted stuff. I'm leaning toward the Razorback, as that would finish out a small but playable army list. I could probably do the Easterlings in a few hours as well and knock out two projects. I'd really like to paint some Orks and have two playable fully-painted forces for small games of 40k. But all that will have to wait for the weekend or later. I've got plenty of schoolwork and other stuff to get to over the next few days.

One of the more difficult decisions while finishing the Scout Squad was how to paint their hair. I see the Space Marines as a sort of clone army, as the Marines of a Chapter all get infused with the same genetics and would theoretically start to resemble one another. I wound up painting the Scouts with different hair as it was more fun than painting five guys with brown hair. I reasoned that Scouts are newly-recruited Chapter members and would not have undergone the full range of treatments to make them full-fledged battle brothers, so they would still look much as they had when recruited.

I was at the new Hobbytown the other day and saw another thing that makes me reluctant to actually play a game with strangers. There were a couple of guys playing 40k; Black Templars vs. Tyranids. One guy obviously was teaching the other guy how to play, but wasn't doing a very good job of it. At one point he rolled a bunch of dice, looked at them and announced, "Two wounds, power weapon." So I assume one of his Space Marines had inflicted wounds with a power weapon, which ignores armor saves, so the Tyranids guy was supposed to remove two wounds from his unit. The Tyranid guy hesitated for a second, working through it in his mind, and looked at his cheat sheet to make sure of what he was doing. Instead of explaining that power weapons ignore armor saves and that the new guy should remove two models, the Black Templar guy just kept saying, "Two wounds, power weapon!" until he was saying it more like, "TWO WOUNDS! POWER WEAPON!" and startling the women and children who were looking at science toys in the next aisle. I think I would prefer to stay home and paint than go to a shop and stand at a table for four hours while a sweaty guy yells at me. If I wanted a sweaty guy to yell at me about rules I don't know about yet I'd join the army and go to basic training.

I would like to paint some Terminators, especially one of those new Wolf Guard ones with the big wolf-fur cloak.
Here's the finished servo-skull. It isn't anything too special but I think it adds some character to my Scout squad. The Missile Launcher Guy isn't actually slated to be a part of this squad; he's going to be running with some Sniper Rifle Scouts. It makes even more sense for some Sniper Rifle guys to be carrying around a servo-skull spotter, although a missile launcher really isn't the stealthiest weapon around.

The picture is a bit blurry, but I've got the servo-skull attached to the Missile Launcher Scout. I had to come up with a couple to connect the servo-skull's single wire to the two wires coming out of the power pack. I wound up using a bit of an Ork axe handle that was the right diameter. The wire itself is a keyring I unwound with some pliers. Painting of the skull has started, but I didn't quite finish it before bedtime.

We went over to my parents' house for dinner and socializing this evening. I took my copy of Space Hulk over and my brother and I were able to get one game in. I played the Space Marines and he took the Genestealers. We played the first mission, which for the Space Marines involved getting the Terminator with the heavy flamer to a certain room and cleansing it with fire. I was able to hold off the Genestealers long enough to get the flamer near the room, then used the flame templates to keep them at bay long enough to cleanse the room and win the scenario. I think my brother would've won by being just a little more aggressive with his aliens. There really aren't enough Space Marines to cover every avenue, and realistically the Genestealer player should try to get every attack possible rather than holding forces back until it's too late. I also benefited from getting decent pulls on the Command Points, especially during the last two turns when I had to fire the flamer multiple times, turn my Terminator around, and walk him down the hallway to open the door to the room that needed cleansed. If I'd pulled a couple of smaller numbers my ammunition would've run out or I'd have had a dozen Genestealers clawing at my back. My brother says he's got a plan for next time, so I think he had a good time.

Here's a picture of the kid after our dog has attacked his hair with her giant tongue. He thinks it's hilarious to have her lick him. I figure it's like an extra round of immunizations. He should be pretty much disease-proof by now.

11 October 2009

I finished painting the Space Marine Scouts last night. I am actually not quite finished with the missile launcher guy yet. When I built him I accidentally used a Sniper Rifle Scout's legs, so he's got a power pack with two wires that don't go anywhere. I'm going to rig up some extra wire or sprue or something and give him a servo-skull to act as a spotter.

09 October 2009

I spent last night being quite ill. Most of today was spent in bed trying to recover and rehydrate. Toward the evening I was able to keep fluids down and then start eating food again. Now my discomfort is limited mostly to a headache.

I did splash some paint onto my Space Marine Scouts. I could probably finish them up this weekend if I work at it.

08 October 2009

The new Space Wolves are out and there has been a lot of talk about them among 40k bloggers lately. I am not planning on building a Space Wolf army at the moment, but the figures look nice. The box sets have got a ton of parts that could be used to customize other Space Marines. I will probably pick up some of the Space Wolf boxes just to have more variety in my bits box.

The other thing from the Space Wolves codex that sounds neat is the cavalry models, basically Space Marines riding big wolves from space. Depending on what the figures they eventually release for that unit look like I would like to get some of them. I don't know that I'd use the Space Wolves army list, but I could run them as Bikers in the vanilla Marine codex.

The next Skaven release is up for pre-order. I don't really like the new Clanrat models, but they're okay. I've got plenty of the old models. The Stormvermin look decent, especially since a unit of them is a lot cheaper money-wise. The plastic Doomwheel looks decent, and I've heard rumors of some other stuff in the works.

I am not feeling well, so I'll talk about the other stuff some other time.

I will do it tomorrow!

Tomorrow I will write up a post for the blog. Today I will just sit in bed and think about all the things I have to do tomorrow.

Topics on the agenda include Space Wolves, Skaven, the other hobby shops in town, and maybe Fantasy Sports. I may even talk about music.

05 October 2009

I had another fun weekend with the National Guard, so I didn't really have time for anything except homework. I'm glad I have today off as I still have a fair bit of schoolwork to finish for this week. My grades aren't as good as they were last semester. I should be able to pass, but it probably won't be pretty. I find the lecture classes a lot more difficult than the online courses. It would be nice if Boise State would offer exclusively online degrees in a few fields.

The Fantasy Baseball season just ended. I had four teams and got four little virtual trophies; two 1st-place and two 3rd-place.

29 September 2009

27 September 2009

Today I went out to the garage to look for my collection of Reaper swag points and I stumbled upon a couple boxes of figures I'd forgotten about, mostly some Skaven and a few Space Marines. As I looked for a place in the hobby room to put them I was disheartened by the number of partially-painted units I had as well as the realization that I've only finished one army since I started in on this whole business. Here is my own personal Hall of Shame:

First up is the most recent project, some Space Marine Scouts. They don't really need a lot of work to be finished, a common thread among these figures.

Next up is an Assault on Black Reach Dreadnought. I think he got written out of my army list, so I stopped painting him.

A unit of Orcs that has been half-finished for a long time, longer than I can remember.

Here we've got a Klingon ship for Star Fleet Battles, a Reaper barmaid for pirate games, and a 40k Priest whose power sword never looked very good to me. I saw an article recently on painting a convincing power weapon so I'm going to give it another shot.

And here we've got some Easterlings for The Lord of the Rings. They are pretty close to being done. It's been so long since I stopped working on them that I can't recall the reason for stopping.

This is just the stuff that has been assembled and has some paint on it. I've got a boatload of other stuff in various stages of assembly that needs done, but that's next on the list. My current goal is to finish all of these half-painted projects.

After that I should probably work on the stuff that is assembled and then decide what to do after that. Maybe at some point I will have some forces I can actually use in a game. And for the family members who just read this blog to see what the kid looks like, here's a picture of him moments before he bites my leg. You can see his trail of destruction in the background. His favorite thing to do is ignore his toys and instead pull everything off of tables, down from shelves, and out of boxes.

One thing I really hate is when I go to the hobby shop and the new issue of White Dwarf is out but I haven't received my subscriber copy in the mail. I know it will arrive in another day or two and it will probably take me a week or two to get through reading all the articles, but I am a rather impatient person. I want it now.

In honor of the new Hobbytown in the city I live in, both locations here had a sale. Unfortunately the new location (2.1 miles from my house) is just a small satellite store and has very little selection compared to the larger shop (19.8 miles from my house). So if I want anything in particular I will probably have to either have the smaller shop order it in from the larger one or just do what I did before and stop at the larger store on my way home from work. Maybe if I keep ordering stuff in the shop will adjust their stock to suit me. I think their main target at the new place is R/C cars and things of that nature, as the gaming and model train sections were tiny.

I went to the larger store and used the sale combined with a 50% discount on much of their Reaper stock to flesh out some Warlord armies. The second edition rulebook came out recently and it looks like a pretty simple game system with a lot of the confusion of the last version cleared up. Having everything accessible in one book is a lot easier than trying to find data cards strewn across the website, an outdated rulebook, a couple of faction books, and several update documents. There are rumors of regular expansions to fill in the stuff from last time that didn't make this book and eventually new factions. I think the undead pirate faction will continue to be an internet-only document as most of the other armies represent a full-on nation or large city military while the undead pirates are just Captain Razig and his ship's crew.

25 September 2009

I don't have any hobby updates yet as I am still just trying to keep up with real life stuff. School is keeping me pretty busy, but at least I'm not working extra weekends at the day job anymore. I'm growing to like the new motorcycle more, although I still miss the ability to be pretty much instantly traveling at the speed of traffic. I also was reminded today that hot-rodding through curves is likely to leave my footpegs grinding on the pavement. I don't quite have the ground clearance that I once did. One good thing about this bike is that with the lower amount of power I actually have to shift occasionally. I actually feel like I am using what the bike has to offer rather than going illegal speeds while still in first or second gear. It is still very nice to have the roomy saddlebags and the improved wind protection offered by a full windshield as well, especially with mornings getting pretty cold.

We were going to have some friends over for dinner tomorrow, but I think those plans fell through. I had hoped to break out my copy of Space Hulk and try it out. I guess that will wait for another day. I didn't really have time to assemble the components anyway. It does seem to be a very substantial game. The box is heavy and the miniatures are nice, which I think helps to justify the sticker price. It has sold out at the Games Workshop website, but stores seem to have plenty of stock, at least my local shop has ten or fifteen copies available. I guess that may not be true in larger markets with larger hobbyist populations.

My assembly of 40k miniatures pretty much came to a standstill when I stabbed my finger with the hobby knife. It wasn't a fear of injury that kept me away, it was just that I got busy at that point. The finger is still healing and I'm still trying to decide if I did some structural or nerve damage to it.

17 September 2009

I finally got all the paperwork done and brought my motorcycle home today. I like the bike; it is certainly a lot more user-friendly than the FZ1 was, but there is a downside to that as well. Ultimately there really isn't much comparison because the two bikes are designed for completely different markets.

The fuel injection is nice as the bike starts right up without me having to fiddle with a choke, something that was occasionally frustrating on the FZ1. The seat and seating position are a lot more comfortable, and the windshield actually keeps the wind off of me pretty well. There is a lot less power and acceleration which is to be expected with a smaller motor that is tuned differently. This bike hits redline in first gear at about 40 mph as opposed to the old bike that could hit about 80 mph in first. It is also a lot quieter, but that can be solved with an aftermarket pipe, which is something I had on the FZ1. Cargo capacity is greatly increased due to the saddlebags. I could actually stop at Hobbytown on the way home if I wanted to and bring home some figures even if I didn't have my backpack.

On a side note, I consider myself to be pretty trustworthy, but going into any store with my backpack makes me feel like all of the staff are watching me and waiting for me to try to put something in my bag.

The bike will be a lot cheaper to own than my last bike, which was pretty high on my priority list while shopping around. And to stroke my vanity a bit, it has been received well by the folks at work. Most people guess that it's bigger than it really is, something that will probably be all too evident when I putt-putt into the parking lot rather than a more muscular sound. That can be fixed on the aftermarket, though. All in all I'd say that I'm probably better off on this bike than I was on the last one. The only factor that I can really rate the FZ1 higher on than the Boulevard is the ability to go really fast. Most other things seem to swing the Boulevard's way.

15 September 2009

A Spike in Visits Explained

I noticed that my hobby knife post got a lot of comments, but today I looked at the stats on my hit counter and noticed a somewhat inexplicable surge in visits immediately after I posted it. That led me to the referrals page, where I discovered that I had made a spot on From the Warp's Tuesday Top Ten list. From the Warp is a rather popular 40k-centric blog and from what I understand the Top Ten is a pretty prestigious list to make, so thanks for the bump in visits, FTW. It's too bad my schedule and general apathy regarding the hobby is keeping the hobby-related posts to a minimum here on my blog. I've got a couple of things to post about, though. It may just take a little while to get around to it.

14 September 2009

My post about my tragic finger injury got a lot of attention; it probably ranks as my most-commented post of all time. It seems that most of us can relate to the damage caused by an errant blade. My finger is healing, although even now the wound is pretty deep. It will be interesting to see if I have a divot in my finger even after it's completely healed. The finger went through several phases of discoloration and irregular periods of numbness that led me to believe I had suffered nerve damage of some sort, but that seems to have gone away. All in all a rather exciting event that I hope not to repeat.

I spent the weekend with the National Guard throwing grenades. It was rather hot outside. That pretty much sums it up. I must have been tired because I got home, went straight to bed and didn't wake up really until rather late the next morning.

I think I have found the replacement for my fallen motorcycle. The purchase isn't entirely in the bag yet, but it should be confirmed tomorrow. I didn't get a huge bike this time, and if everything goes as planned this bike will cost about $80/month less than the last one. It also rates about 10 miles per gallon higher on fuel economy. I will just have to get used to the cruiser seating position. It's got a bright yellow stripe so hopefully people will be able to see it when they're backing up and avoid knocking it over. Here's what it looks like:

I've already begun thinking about customizing it. Nothing extreme, but I do want some blacked-out aftermarket pipes. Not much to talk about aside from what I've covered. Between school and the Army it looks like the next year or two is going to be pretty busy, so I may not have much to post about when it comes to painting or playing with miniatures.

06 September 2009

Be Careful With Your Hobby Knife

If you're not careful you wind up with a desk that looks like this. With the aid of my wife I was able to get things patched up before I passed out from seeing my own blood. The last few years I've been very squeamish about the sight of my own blood. My ears start to ring, my forehead gets sweaty, my vision fades, my hands start shaking and my knees get wobbly. Pretty exciting stuff. I think I'll wait to work on my Orks until I get some newer X-Acto blades.

04 September 2009

Goodbye Motorcycle!

After talking to the lender and the insurance company it looks like the only viable option for me is to sell the bike to the insurance company and not have a bike anymore. It's a shame because the bike was still completely functional aside from the cosmetic blemishes, but there's not much for me do in this situation. I realize that the banks and insurance companies have to protect their investments but it sucks to be on this end of it. My loan is paid off and I won't have an insurance payment anymore, but it's not especially feasible for me to get another bike right now and I think I'd much rather have a bike and some payments than not have a bike at all. Especially since my commute is much longer than before and the truck goes through fuel three or four times faster than the bike did. And the bike is more fun to drive than the truck or the station wagon. Anyway, that's that. I don't have much else to say about it at the moment.

03 September 2009

Your Bike is a Total Loss

A couple of days ago I was sitting at my desk at the end of the day (I stay late because there's not enough time between work and school to get home and make it to class on time) when one of the ladies from work knocked on my window and motioned for me to come outside. I went outside and she told me that she'd knocked my motorcycle over. It is a sad thing for a guy when he sees his bike laid over on its side with the kickstand up in the air. I guess she had backed up into the spot where I was parked and the bike tipped over when her car bumped it. There were some fluids leaking out and the handlebar and muffler were banged up as well as some scrapes on the plastic and a bent mirror. The good news was that my frame sliders (plastic pegs that stick out from the bike and protect important mechanical and structural parts) had acted as a tripod along with the handlebar and muffler to keep the damage localized. We got it picked back up, she called her insurance, and I waited. The insurance company called me and set me up to have it towed to the bike shop, and then I waited a little more to see what they would say.

Because of the cost of labor and parts from the manufacturer, even a tip-over like that totaled the bike, mostly cosmetically. So the insurance company could buy the bike from me and I could pay off much of what I owe on it but not have a bike or I could keep the bike with a salvage title and a smaller payment, have the handlebar and maybe the exhaust fixed/replaced, and have a still-functional but cosmetically-damaged bike to commute on. If I took the first option I would not have a bike payment or an insurance payment every month, but I also would likely not be able to purchase another motorcycle. Under the second option I would still have a motorcycle, but the resale value would be nil. Which is somewhat irrelevant to me because I planned on riding this bike until the end of its service life anyway.

The thing that surprised me is how little anger I feel about the whole situation. By now word has gotten around the office and I get a lot of people telling me how angry I should be and that I should really hold it against her for hitting my bike. I think that's a little unprofessional, especially as the insurance company is taking care of things and bad things like that happens to everyone. She apologized and made things right by owning up to it and taking the insurance hit, so why waste time being bitter about it? I don't claim to be a Zen Master, but some stuff you just have to let go because fuming and resentment really only serve to give you headaches and ulcers. I do have to admit that seeing my bike on the ground made me seize up a bit inside, though. Thank goodness for frame sliders; without that extra couple inches of support all the plastic on my bike could have been much worse.

29 August 2009

I've been very inconsistent with my posts as of late and that trend is likely to continue for some time. School just started back up for me (14 credits seems like a lot when you're working full-time) and I've been putting in extra hours at work evenings and weekends to help make up for the other person in my section who is out indefinitely with an injury. We also have a lot of folks in our section at various training courses, so we're a bit short-handed all around.

My wife and I have finally just about got out of the trailer and moved completely into the house. It has taken a lot longer than we'd hoped, but that's par for the course for us. With work and school keeping me so busy, my mother has been very good about helping my wife with the last bit of cleanup before we're out for good. The good news is that we found a buyer for the trailer and should be able to get that done and over with. It will be nice not to have to make the house payment and pay the lot rent for the trailer.

I've pulled out all of the figures for my starting Ork army and if I get a free weekend sometime soon I'm going to assemble them and try them out against my Space Marines list. Although it is heretical to play with all those unpainted figures it seems a shame to finally have space for tables and not get some use out of them. So I am going to paint as I can while assembling everything possible so I can have at least a large collection of game pieces rather than a large collection of boxes collecting dust. I will roll out with the Space Marines if I play in public though as they are for the most part painted.

In my class last night we had to introduce ourselves and say something that people might not guess about you. So I got ready to say I have a Basset Hound. The introductions went around the room and the lady just before me said, "I'm so-and-so, my major is such-and-such, and I have a Basset Hound." Of all the things she could have come up with, she said the very thing I was going to say. So I said that I also have a Basset Hound. Later in the class she leaned over to me and asked, "Does your Basset Hound smell bad too?" I think all Basset Hounds smell bad and steal things to chew up/eat and play with/eat.

I went to the store today and bought some stuff for lunch, and when I got my change there was a penny from 1947 among the coins. I like getting old coins in my change. The oldest one I've received as change was a year or two ago with a date of 1918. Prior to that my oldest penny was from 1927. I find it interesting that a coin can hang around that long and pass through so many pockets.

12 August 2009

A Room of My Own

We are pretty much moved into the new place, but we still have plenty of cleaning to do and probably a couple of pickup loads of stuff still to move. As far as I can remember I've pretty much kept my pledge not to buy new figures for a while. I actually sold a few things on eBay to help us fund our move; mostly stuff that I wasn't going to get to for a while and is readily available on the market if I ever need to reacquire it. Anyway, I have most of a room to myself at the new house. My wife's desk is in there with her computer, but the rest of the room is mine. This first picture is my painting table. You can see my lamp, my airbrush compressor and the paint rack, as well as some Space Marines and Star Trek ships.

And this is my bookshelf. It's got my gaming books, some other books, and a few boxes of miniatures on it. My toolbox is there too. I didn't take a picture of the closet, but I has my comic books, the painted figures, a game mat, and some of the unpainted stuff that didn't fit on the bookshelf. I also didn't take a picture of my desk, which will hopefully not be overcome by hobby stuff. I am trying to separate my hobby things from my schoolwork and whatnot as under the old system without a painting table I had to do a lot of shuffling in order to work on one or the other.

Just so I don't appear too selfish, my wife has an area for her hobbies too. The utility room is very large and right next to the playroom, so she will have her sewing and craft tables there. That way she can work on her hobbies near the area the kid will be playing in. And speaking of the kid, he's getting to be quite large and mobile. Here he is pulled up on the baby gate and making a drooly pirate face.

And here he is rubbing his teeth together. He likes the playroom as much as he likes any place with space to roam, but the older nieces and nephews really enjoy it. So that's nice.

03 August 2009

I have returned from my two weeks in the desert with the National Guard. There isn't much else to talk about really. I went to Hobbytown but I didn't buy anything. There are some neat things being released, but I have a big pile of figures I still need to work on.

A friend invited me to go to a Magic: The Gathering informal event at his friends' house. I did not do very well, which should be expected as I am not an avid player and these guys had every card back to 1993 memorized. I think that I am safe from having the desire to buy into Magic anytime soon. It's a huge money sink with new sets coming out quarterly. I'd have to give up my other hobbies and focus exclusively on that.

15 July 2009

Home "Improvement"

Tonight was the night that I nearly made a ruins out of my kitchen. We got a new fridge a few days ago, and I decided to attempt the installation of the water line for the icemaker/water dispenser. After a couple of trips to Home Depot I had all of my fittings and tools. I had drilled the holes and run the water line earlier, which was a whole experience in itself. I at least managed to avoid drilling through the dishwasher, so that was a bonus. The old cold water pipe came apart fairly well and the new fittings and valves weren't too bad, but once I had most everything hooked up I had water pressure in every faucet except the sink.

I had to go into the crawlspace approximately seventy-five times to turn the water on and off. There are a lot of spiderwebs down there, and I saw at least one rather large Black Widow. I hate spiderwebs and dust and especially poisonous spiders. They make my skin crawl. I think they're neat and all, but not when I'm crawling around in their habitat. I didn't get bitten, so that's a plus.

But I couldn't get the water pressure to be more than a trickle and I was becoming angry. I banged around for a while and then took a break to clear my head. I had partially disassembled the faucet already, but an article I read led me to believe that the problem was deeper inside the faucet. I dug around and pulled the faucet all apart, sprayed water all over the kitchen, and felt some pretty big pieces of grit come through. Then I put it back together again and it worked better than it had before. And the water dispenser on the fridge isn't pumping out black water anymore. And my wife is still talking to me. So tonight I have been to the depths of despair and the heights of triumph. It worked out all right in the end.

11 July 2009

The Update

After a few months of searching and offering and waiting and inspecting and signing paperwork we finally have purchased a house. We signed the papers yesterday and everything processed today, so we've started the process of moving in. We went over there today to drop some stuff off and wait for the locksmith to come and change the locks out.

As soon as we showed the neighbors from one house over came over to introduce themselves. Later another neighbor came over to talk to us. We mentioned that we were waiting on the water to be turned on, which the city couldn't do until Monday. He mentioned that he worked for the city and could turn on our water tonight after reading out meter and leaving a message at the office. So we got water a couple days early.

Now I'm really tired, so I am going to bed.