26 April 2009

I had two topics I wanted to post about, but for the life of me I can't even begin to think of what they were. I really have no clue what I wanted to post about, but I can remember that I had two posts pretty much lined out in my mind.

I started repainting my Klingon ship for Star Fleet Battles/Federation Commander. It's going slowly. I'm also listening to the most recent 40k Radio episode that covers troop choices in the new Imperial Guard Codex. It sounds like I may need a lot more basic Guardsmen. I think they just said that you could theoretically take 137 models in a maxed-out infantry platoon. But it is unlikely that anyone would take that many figures in one Troops choice. I wish my book would arrive soon. Apparently it's been delivered in some areas, but with the good exchange rates at the moment and online discounts my book is going to be shipped from the UK and probably won't get here for another couple of weeks.

I spent some time yesterday shuffling my boxes of miniatures around and I realized that I would like to drag my Skaven out and use them sometime. I spent eighteen months painting them and they've seen two games. My Giant hasn't even ever seen a tabletop. So maybe I should do something about that sometime.

Soon I will need to get back into my homework. The next couple weeks are going to be pretty wild while I try to finish out the semester.

25 April 2009

Buying a House is No Fun

Last week we spent an evening looking at houses. The first house was all right. The several in the middle were each interesting, but generally not in a good way. We couldn't go look at one of the houses on our short list because the resident didn't want us to see her clutter. I'm not sure how she will sell her house if she doesn't want people to look at it. The last house we went to look at was awesome and had everything we want and more, so we put in an offer on it. It turns out that there is a competing offer from someone else and we just have to sit around and wait for the seller to decide which one they like better. If they like our offer then we get to do another house inspection and hope for no termites/structural damage/mold colonies/shoddy construction and then go through all the paperwork and bother that comes after that. If the inspection didn't go well we'd have to go look at more houses and start the process all over again. If the seller likes the other person's offer then we also have to go look at more houses and start over. It's a pain in the hindquarters. I hope this house works out.

Aside from house-hunting it's just been school and work for me. There isn't much exciting going on around here.

24 April 2009

The Final Frontier

In my excitement over Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander, I began looking for a hex mat to play with miniatures on. Both games feature cardboard counters with paper/cardboard maps to play on, but those are boring. I'd heard quite a bit about Hotz Mats, but I was reluctant to order from them as they've had some timeliness and communication issues in the past, even as recently as a few weeks ago. These are well-documented on The Miniatures Page, but it always appeared that people who ordered from Hotz Mats got their product eventually even if it took a few months. So I decided to order one and see what happened. I placed the order on 06 APR and on 07 APR I got an e-mail confirming the order and explaining that the mats are custom-made to order and some designs (like the space mats) could take a while due to the extra steps (airbrushing the nebulas and whatnot). The e-mail told me to expect a five-week wait, and the threads on The Miniatures Page warned me to expect a several-month wait. The mat arrived today, for a turnaround time of 18 days from order to delivery.

I am quite pleased with the product. I ordered a 72" x 45" Deep Space Mat with 1" hexes. I've taken a few photos of it below. The package felt pretty light at first, but upon opening it I found that the mat feels quite sturdy and should hold up to wear pretty well. In real life the hexes aren't nearly as intrusive as they look in the photo; I think the flash made them several times brighter than they are in person.

I am rather pleased with it. I think the last thing left is to get my Klingon ship painted up and try the game out.

20 April 2009

I had planned to post, but instead I got sucked into the world of Star Wars Dance Competitions. Everyone needs a hobby, right?

15 April 2009

Maybe you should get out more...

I'm taking a brief rest from my homework, so I thought I'd tell a story. I don't get a lot of visitors and with the wife and kid gone this past week I've been a hermit. I am usually a hermit anyway, but the last week I took it to a new level. Maybe a comatose hermit or something. Anyway, it's just been me and the dogs for a few days.

The other day I was sitting around probably doing homework or working on an army list, and someone knocked on the door. That is relatively uncommon, but I thought it might be my sister coming to get her mail key or something. I got up and answered the door. It was a couple that go around every so often selling tamales. The lady asked if I wanted to buy any, I declined, and they went on their way. I shut the door, and as I walked back to my desk I realized that I was not wearing any pants. I was wearing my long underwear so it's not like anything was flapping in the breeze for all the world to see, but it's still underwear and it's probably socially unacceptable to answer the door wearing only long underwear and a t-shirt. So now I'm trying to make a habit of wearing pants most of the time, even if I'm not expecting visitors. And maybe I should get out more and interact with the world so I am less apt to make embarrassing mistakes like flashing the tamale vendor.

13 April 2009

U Can't Touch This

My sister informed me that MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice are doing a show in eastern Idaho in June. There is a large part of me that wants to go but there is also a part of me that thinks it might be a waste of time and money to drive across the state and watch a couple of washed-up icons from my childhood as they fail to live up to my expectations, which are admittedly somewhat lofty. Still, I missed out on it the first time around so why not live a little and go see them anyway. It's not like the opportunity will come around again anytime soon. It's something I'll be thinking about over the next week or two and I'll let y'all know if we wind up going.

12 April 2009

Federation Cruiser Pictures

I've taken a couple pictures of the Federation Cruiser, and here they are. Up close you can see the flaws and unsteady lines painted on the ship, but looking at the ship on my desk from standing height it looks pretty good. The Future Acrylic Floor Finish seems to be what I'm looking for, the big test will be to see whether it does well as an initial coat on the Klingon ship. I attached the Klingon ship to it's flight base again today, so hopefully it stays. The peg for the flight stand broke off when I had to strip the paint from the ship after the first painting, so I had to drill a new hole and rework the nub so that it would fit. I'm hoping I did well enough to keep it fairly stable. The decals may or may not be in the proper spots, so don't flip out if you are a hardcore Trekkie. I am also probably missing details.

I printed the decal guide from the Star Fleet Universe page for the D-6/D-7 ships. It seems fairly straightforward and matches up pretty well with the decal sheet I have in hand. The reason I had so much trouble with the Heavy Cruiser is that there is not a decal guide up on the site for that ship and I had to cobble it together from various images around the web. It appears that some of the decals are not necessary, as a major portion of them are intended to represent details that are sculpted on the model and can be painted, specifically weapon ports. But the windows and pinstripes and insignia/lettering is all very useful to have in decal form.

I am very likely not to get any hobby stuff done this week as it's fairly stuffed with homework and I get to play army all of next weekend. It will be nice when the wife and kid get back from their vacation to Georgia, as I may not survive much longer on fast food and microwave burritos. My Easter feast this year left something to be desired.

I had several things I wanted to post about, but they have all totally slipped my mind. I suppose that if I get around to remembering them I will type something up.

Decals and Floor Finish

My U.S.S. Merimac (that's what the decal says, although I'm pretty sure it should be spelled differently) has got all the decals I'm inclined to put on it and so I am pretty much done with that particular miniature. The Starship Modeler website proved an invaluable resource for finding the placement of many of the decals; I'm hoping they will be of use when I get around to the Klingon ship.

After getting all of the decals placed I let them set for a bit and then tried out my Future Floor Finish. It seems to be a good product; it certainly smells a lot better than the other stuff I've been using. It goes on very easily and seems to dry pretty smooth. Since it's so glossy I didn't post any pictures. I may post photos later after I get some dullcoat put on.

I also got some decals for the shoulder pads on my Space Marines. I actually wound up buying the Battlefront decals for WWII American vehicles. The various stars look like they will fit just about right on the shoulder pads. One blister pack will do 84 shoulder pads and have 20 or 30 larger and smaller stars for other applications as well as a couple sheets of serial numbers and slogans. I may get a pack of Russian stars as well, perhaps as a way to differentiate my Assault Marines or my Scouts.

11 April 2009


I've been working on getting the decals stuck to my Star Trek Heavy Cruiser. It's been quite an experience for me; in the beginning it looks like I may go through about two sets of decals for each ship I complete. It's especially stressful for decals that contain ship-specific information, like names and serial numbers. There are a lot of decals on the sheet that I have no idea where to locate. Hopefully with a little bit of practice I can get moderately proficient at applying the ones whose intended locations I do know.
The Simple Green has worked it's magic on the Klingon ship, so as soon as I get it remounted on a base and primed I will get back to painting it. The varnish debacle has led me to try something I've been reading about for some time but have never actually gone through with. There is a large contingent on The Miniatures Page who swear by the various brandings of Future Acrylic Floor Finish as the ultimate product for figure protection. It makes sense. It is an acrylic surface protectant meant to stand up to the rigors of constant foot traffic, so why wouldn't it be able to withstand the relatively light wear and tear of being moved around by gamers? I bought a bottle of it at the local mega-mart and will be trying it out whenever I get something painted.

One of the gals on The Miniatures Page posted a link to a site that I think is pretty neat. The site is called Kiva; their purpose is to provide small loans to entrepreneurs in developing areas of the world. The way I understand it is that people can go to Kiva's local partners with a business plan and apply for a loan to get them off the ground or expand an exisiting operation; the amount is usually a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. The local partner forwards a picture and a brief synopsis to Kiva, then the loan gets posted in the listings. Kiva users can then log in and browse the listings, choosing which loans they want to participate in. You can donate as little as $25, so a loan of $200 could have as many as 8 lenders or as few as 1. Once the loan is covered by lenders it is disbursed to the person and they use it to expand their business. After a certain period of time they begin to pay the loan back, at which point you get your $25 or however much you lent back into your Kiva account. You can pull the money out or you can forward it to another loan of your choice.

I think the delinquincy/default rate for the site is about 2%, so there is a small chance you won't get your money back. Each local partner has a risk rating based on their repayment rate, so you can choose your loans based on that and have a better chance of seeing repayment.

There are a couple of things I like about the site. The first is that it's not a straight-up charity. The loans are expected to be repaid after a certain amount of time. It's a way to help out poor people who are motivated to get ahead in life but lack the immediate means to do so. I also like that the loan comes back to you, so the same $25 can be recycled to another person and another person after that, and so on.

I enjoy the fact that you can browse the listings and choose which loans to participate in. If my mission is to further the worldwide production of poultry and goats, I can select to loan my money to people who aim to increase the size of their flocks and herds. If my goal is to increase the worldwide quality of auto-body repair shops I can chase that dream.

It is also attractive to me that the cost is small enough to actually participate. You aren't asked to front a whole loan of several hundred dollars. Twenty-five dollars isn't chump change, but it's three or four trips to the fast food joint or a box of Space Marines. I can afford to skip a meal or two and forego one or two hamburgers. That's enough evangelizing, I suppose. I wouldn't want people to think I'm some sort of bleeding heart who cries at sad movies or anything. Here's a link to my profile.

I think that's about everything I had to talk about for this post.

09 April 2009

It is much too late for me to be awake and blogging, but here I am. At least tonight I have a good excuse. I was able to stay mostly on task doing homework all this evening; I just finished up with today's stuff so that's pretty good. Unfortunately that also means I don't have any hobby stuff to blog about.

If the weather forecast gives a 60% chance of rain you should not ride your motorcycle to work unless you like riding in the rain. I don't much like it. The ride to work was very nice, but the ride home was very wet. It took several hours and some hot chocolate to warm up. My Star Trek decals showed up in the mail today, something like 1 1/2 days after I ordered them. One of the decal placement guides that is missing from the Star Fleet Universe site happens to be the Federation Heavy Cruiser, so I will probably take a little while to sort out where these flippin' things go. I'm sure a full report will appear here. I didn't have time to scrub the paint off the Klingon ship so I can give a go at repainting it, so look forward to that possibly this weekend if that's something you are interested in.

For a few brief moments I considered taking an inventory of my miniatures, but that is a fool's errand. I'll save that for when we actually buy a house and I have to pack them up and move them anyway.

07 April 2009

The house inspection didn't go very well, as the dude found termites in the crawlspace and a cover-up of some shoddy stuff on the roof. On the outside the house looked really good, but in the hidden areas it was very bad. There are still a few houses left to look at, so we've got that going for us. It's a shame that house didn't work out, though. I guess it's better to spend a couple hundred dollars on the house inspection than to buy the house and spend tens of thousands trying to keep it standing.

The wife and the kid are in Georgia for the week visiting her family. That frees up a little time for me to try and get ahead on my schoolwork and do some hobby stuff. It also paves the way for me to die of malnutrition. I finished up the Klingon ship today. It looks okay. Or, it did look okay.

Shortly after this picture was taken and in the middle of typing this post, I dabbed the clearcoat onto the figure. All of the blue and green inks that were used for shading lifted off of the figure and ran down the sides. The shading was gone and I had some nifty green and blue swirls covering the surface of the ship. I wonder if spraying the clearcoat on would sidestep this problem? This is why I've got a jug of Simple Green. It just sucks to waste a couple of hours on painting something and have the stuff that's supposed to protect it ruin the thing. At least I was able to salvage the flight base. I really need to get the airbrush going. I suspect that being proficient with that would solve many of my issues. In the meantime I'm just going to repaint the Klingon ship using dark green and dark blue paint instead of inks. Paint pigments still run a little, but they tend to be more controllable and not as prone to migrate across the entire figure. At worst they will just feather a little around the edges.

Wizards of the Coast recently announced that they will no longer sell or allow their partners to sell digitial copies of their game materials as a measure to stop piracy. This also applies to PDF files that you have previously purchased from places like Paizo. So if you legitimately purchased a product through them you will no longer be able to access it legally. Interestingly enough, in a couple of days the only way to get a Wizards of the Coast PDF will be to obtain an illegal copy through piracy. And how will this affect their much-hyped online D & D utilities? Sounds like a bunch of bologna to me. As an aside, Paizo is offering 35% off most of their in-house PDF stuff as sort of a punch in the nose to Wizards. These are files that Paizo developed independently, so they won't be affected by the Wizards ban.

Wargames Foundry sends out customer information e-mails every couple of days highlighting their figures and whatnot. I usually don't pay them much mind, but today I got one announcing a Pirate Special! I'm a big fan of the Foundry Pirate range and have bought a couple handfuls of their figures on the second-hand market over the years. I read through the e-mail and clicked all of the links, but upon reaching their website all of the SPECIALS were the same price they have always been. There is no special. The Pirate Special is a non-event! Guess what! We are still selling the same figures at the same prices! No new sculpts! No special prices! No new assortments! We just want to let you know we still have the same pirates we had when you were in high school ten years ago and first discovered our company! I sent them an e-mail asking if I was missing something because from what I could tell the Pirate Special is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors. I have some doubt that they will reply. I shouldn't be grouchy about it. I've been close to purchasing their Cutthroats Rampaging Mob probably fifteen or twenty times over the last four years, so having a special dangled in front of me that turned out to be anything but grinds my gears a bit. Good thing I've got this public forum to rant about it in.

06 April 2009

Thank you, Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee gave up about a million runs in his first game of the baseball season. It's a good thing I only drafted him in one league. I like Fantasy Baseball, probably because of all the numbers. I may actually watch some baseball games this year. Generally I don't watch sports other than football because most games are on cable or satellite and we don't get those services. I suppose I am a bit of an oddity in that I am a fantasy sports nut who doesn't watch sports much. I'm not really sure what to make of it.

I finally got through the paper I was working on, so that is a good thing. Now it's on to more homework. I'd rather be painting, to tell the truth. Completing my Federation Heavy Cruiser has got me motivated to finish some other stuff, mainly the Klingon D7. Then it's on to Space Marines and probably Ape-X after that. Ape-X comes with four interchangeable hands, so I may try to rig up some system using rare earth magnets to give me the ability to switch them out. That way I won't have to choose between the drill, the gatling gun, the wrecking ball, and the mechanical fist. I can have it all, and that's what any true super-villain mastermind wants. Is everything too much to ask?

I am as finished with the Heavy Cruiser as I'm going to get unless I wind up ordering decals. I am relatively certain that some details are not the proper colors and that the hull should be more white than grey, but it looks good enough to me. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

And this is a picture of the Klingon D7 Battlecruiser as a work in progress. It's turning out okay so far, certainly nothing special. But these are painting up rather quickly, which is a good thing. I can't complain about that. With the scale of the game that means I'll have two playable forces probably by the end of tomorrow. Then there's the small matter of getting through the 50-page beginner's rulebook.

I think it's good to break away from the Space Marines for a bit and paint something else. Once I finish this batch of Space Marines I may do a couple of superhero miniatures from Reaper's Chronoscope line.

05 April 2009

I've attached a couple pictures of the stuff I've been working on lately. None of it is close to complete, but it's getting there. On top are some Assault Marines. I haven't attached their jetpacks yet. The power fists and lightning claws only get basic metallic paintjobs, but I still get excited about painting them. They just look neat. I haven't got to metallics yet, though. The middle picture has a couple of scouts in it. The bottom picture is a couple of ships for Star Fleet Battles/Federation Commander. They aren't even close to being done. I don't have any real knowledge of the Star Trek Universe, so I'm going off of some pretty sketchy painting guides I've found online. I guess for the most part they figure that if you're painting little Star Trek ships you should know what they're supposed to look like. There are some decal sets out there on the market; I may wind up getting some of those.

My dad stopped by for a couple of minutes to say hi and see the baby. He offered to let me ride his motorcycle, but I didn't take him up on it. I'm pretty comfortable on my own bike, but other people's bikes make me nervous. I guess my last experience on another person's bike has got me skittish. Why? Two words: combat roll.

04 April 2009

I slapped some more paint on my Space Marines tonight. Another couple of weeks and I might be able to finish them. I don't have much else to post about, really. It snowed today for a while. We have a home inspection on Monday, so hopefully the house we're looking at buying doesn't turn out to have some major issue that keeps us from getting it.

02 April 2009

And to further my streak of whining and complaining, my bike wouldn't start this morning. I put on all my gear, went outside, uncovered the bike, got on, pushed the button, and my bike said, "Gug, gug, gug, guuuuugggghhhhhh." So I had to run inside, take off my gear, call my boss to let him know I would be late, run back outside, push the bike off to the side, get in the truck, start the truck, back it out of the driveway and park it across the street, get out and go back over to the bike, back the bike out away from the stairs and push it up into the front of the driveway, hook up the battery tender, cover the bike, go inside and get my backpack, go outside, go back inside to find my phone, go outside, go back inside to get my military ID from my motorcycle vest, go back outside and get in my truck and go to work. The bike ran fine last night. It seems that any time I'm in a hurry the bike won't start. It's like my own little Murphy's Law of Motorcycles. If I just want to cruise around the block a time or two or sit in the driveway and rev it because the neighbor was revving his new bike earlier the bike starts up like a champ, but if I want to go to work and be on time the stars had better be lined up perfectly and I need to make sure I do all the incantations and rituals before attempting to start it up.
In the moments after both zippers broke I realized that I had spent the last fifteen minutes trying to zip my army-issue fleece into my motorcycle jacket rather than the actual fleece insert for the jacket. The other side zipped in fine, like it was made to go there. Now I've got two useless coats.

01 April 2009

Today was another fun day. The other day we got a package from Amazon.com. I ordered a Twilight DVD for my wife and to meet the free shipping requirements I ordered the Foundry Miniatures Painting & Modelling Guide. So far I've had time to flip through the book and have a look at all the eye candy. It's pretty decent. Foundry selles the book from their website for $52, but you can get it on Amazon for $26.37. You can also get The Rules With No Name (TRWNN) at a fair discount on Amazon, but I haven't done that yet. You can also find plenty of basic document files with most of the TRWNN text online, as it was a free rule set for many years before Foundry added pretty pictures, a cover, and maybe a few extra rules to it. I'll have to find something else to buy for the wife so I can throw that in on the next order. Kevin Dallimore also has some nice downloads and eye candy on his website. I recommend the Building and Painting Vehicles PDF.

I went to Hobbytown today and had a close encounter of the nerd kind. I finally broke down and decided to pick up a box of close combat Terminators for my Space Marines. They're the guys with Lightning Claws and Thunder Hammers/Storm Shields. As I was browsing a guy came in with an army case and engaged in conversation with one of the shop employees about the Ork figures he had brought in. I noticed that he kept looking over at my purchases. It was a bit odd, but nerds tend to be odd. As I walked up to the front of the store he ran over, looked at my stuff, and then ran back to the table where he was fiddling with his models.

Just before the cashier rang up my purchases he ran over again and said, "Terminators, huh? So you play a lot of Space Marines?" I replied that I mostly purchased and painted figures rather than playing. He then asked me to wait on buying the Terminators until he presented a proposition to me. He actually piced up the box of Terminators and moved it away from the rest of the stuff on the counter. I agreed to hear him out. "I'll go half and half with you on an Assault on Black Reach set; you keep the Space Marines and I'll take the Orks."

I told him that I've already purchased quite a few AoBR sets and have more Storm Bolter/Power Fist Terminators than I know what to do with. He looked disappointed and told me that everyone told him that.

After opening the box of close combat Terminators I maybe should have taken him up on his offer. I could use a Dreadnought and the Terminator box comes with two sets of arms. I took one of the AoBR Terminator torsos and matched it up to the Lightning Claw arms and they look like they'll go together. Perhaps if I run into him again I will take him up on the offer, as it's a cheap way to get a second squad of Terminators at relatively little cost.

And maybe I'll even paint an army and play a game someday.

Supposedly the seller of the house accepted our offer, so now we just have to get through the inspection, the VA appraisal, and the closing junk. So in theory we could be purchasing a home at some point in the next little while. I greatly dislike the paperwork and back-and-forth that goes into buying high-dollar items like houses and cars, basically anything that involves a contract. Oh well, at least we have a decent real estate agent. I imagine it would be a lot more frustrating if we had a sleazy person who cared more about getting a big commission than selling us a house we felt good about.

I switched the motorcycle and the truck around in the driveway, so hopefully the weather is dry tomorrow. I took the bike around the block today. It was kind of fun. I've been window-shopping for bikes and I've come to the conclusion that if I were going to buy another bike it would just be an updated version of the same bike I already have. I don't need a bike but I like looking at them. My wife doesn't understande why I look at bikes and trucks when I already have a bike and a truck. There have been a lot more bikes on the road the last couple of weeks. I've also been looking at little 50cc dirtbikes for when Ben gets a little bigger. The dealers aren't allowed to sell them right now because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which I guess prohibits the sale of toys that may lead to children ingesting lead. I'd imagine that kids don't often put motorcycles in their mouths, but I could be wrong. There are a couple of websites that allow you to send messages to your congresspeople requesting that motorcycles be excluded from the Act, but my websearch skills are failing me at the moment. Anyhow, plenty of 50cc bikes are up on Craigslist, even ones with training wheels. And if Ben gets a dirtbike his dad will probably need one so they can ride together. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I think that's all I've got at the moment. It would sure be nice to get a few miniatures painted, but I don't seem to find the time for painting much. My hobbies are still largely theoretical, it seems.