26 January 2010

I got stuck in a meeting at work this afternoon and didn't have time to change out of my uniform before I went to class. It happens on occasion, and I've never really had a problem with it before. But today was a little different. As I walked through the hall toward my second class, a guy looked at me and then said something to his friend about holding a flag-burning ceremony. I think he was trying to get me fired up or something. Then once I got to class and sat down a different person got up from his chair next to me and moved to the other side of the room. Usually if I stop into the store or whatever on the way home from work I'll either be treated normally or have someone come up and thank me for my service. I don't expect people to have the same beliefs as I do or to support the mission of the military, but I've never really felt so out of place wearing the uniform as I did today.

I was able to get my pay issue sorted out today, so that is a good thing. It's always nice to be paid when you expect to be paid.

I got one of my coworkers to try out Postcrossing. She seemed pretty excited about it, but some of the other people at work didn't really get it. I guess for some people the mail is just a mechanism while for others there is a certain aura of magic and excitement that goes along with letters, postcards, and packages traveling throughout the world by way of the post. I have loved the mail for as long as I can remember.

Now I am off to give myself a haircut and take a shower so I can go to bed and wake up in time to get my sleepy butt to work in the morning.

25 January 2010

A Stressful Day

School started a week ago, but I missed that week because I was running around in the snowy hills of Utah. I looked at all of my classes and realized that I have homework and assignments due, and I am very unprepared. I've nearly got all of my textbooks now, but I haven't had much chance to read them or participate in the mandatory discussion boards. I imagine it will take a week or so to get caught back up, but at the moment it's not very pleasant.

I also noticed that my leave for the last two weeks was input as leave without pay, so I am not getting paid. I recall checking my leave request for accuracy before I submitted it, so someone beyond me may have fat-fingered it when it was input. So instead of being able to focus on schoolwork we've been trying to figure out how to make the house payment and feed ourselves for the next two weeks. Luckily I work in the pay office, so tomorrow when I go to work I won't have to go far to get it sorted out. Hopefully it is an error that can be fixed soon.

In slightly more optimistic news, the power bill has gone down fairly significantly since we moved over to wood heat. I am still somewhat unhappy with our current stove, but we've decided to pay off debt instead of purchase a newer model. While we were gone the power company meter reader left our gate open and our dogs got out. The Labrador stayed near the house, but my Basset Hound went missing. He has a tendency to follow his nose when he gets a chance to roam. Luckily my sister was able to find him at the local shelter, but it took $40 to bail him out. It's the second time the meter reader has left our gate open and let the dogs out. My wife had a nice conversation with the power company, and I hope the problem goes away.

In brighter news, my first two Postcrossing postcards arrived in the mail. One came from Winnipeg and one was from Arkansas.

I was at Hobbytown today and saw a whole family playing what looked like the Axis and Allies naval miniature game. That was a little different, as usually the gamer crowd is a bunch of males of various ages. This particular group appeared to be a mom, dad, son, and daughter all playing together. I don't imagine many families bond around World War Two naval combat. I didn't see much at the store that interested me. I have most of the things I need for all of my armies, so I'm at the point where I mostly want bigger kits (Ork Stompa, Imperial Guard Stormlord) or specialty kits like stuff from Forge World (the Ork Mega Dread currently tops my list). There are still a few Reaper miniatures that I "need" for my Warlord forces and a couple of other games or manufacturers I'd like to add to or start up, but I've really got a lot of stuff to finish before I go down those routes. It'd be ideal not to buy much of anything until I get back home from my potential deployment overseas.

My cousin contacted me about potentially watching over his Ultramarines as he is searching for roommates and needs to make some room. That would be exciting. My Skaven also need to battle his Dwarves at some point. I'm sure I can cobble together a list from the new Skaven book. Dwarves are just so tough that it's hard to imagine any number of Skaven successfully killing them before the Ratmen break and run. As always my ignorance of the rules makes me reluctant to actually follow through with my plans to schedule a game with my figures.

24 January 2010


A couple of weeks ago I clicked a link on the sidebar of The Missive Maven's blog that took me to Postcrossing, a postcard exchange site. When you set up an account you can elect to send up to five postcards. For each card you get a name, address, and an ID number to write somewhere on the card. You can also link to the person's profile to read about their interests.

Once the recipient gets your card, they enter the postcard's ID number into the site and can also upload a picture of the card. Then your name is given to the next person who wants to send a card. This also frees you up to request another address and send another card.

My wife and I both signed up for accounts. It seems like a fun way to connect with other people and it adds a little bit of excitement and anticipation to checking the mail.

23 January 2010

I am finally back from two weeks of fun Army school. I've brought a cold back from Utah with me, so I will probably take some medicine and go to bed.

04 January 2010

Fiesta Bowl Spoiler Alert

Not a very eventful evening here; we spent the time watching the Fiesta Bowl and hashing out finances. The game was pretty good and in spite of my anti-BSU bias I thought they played an excellent game and deserved to win. My favorite part of the broadcast was at the end when the camera crew found shots of crying TCU fans. It just seemed so cruel. I expected a little more of a shootout, but the defense and one trick play really decided it. At least my Idaho Vandals also won their bowl game this year. It may seem odd that I attend Boise State and was sort of rooting against them, but the only reason I don't go to the University of Idaho anymore is that there aren't a lot of jobs in Northern Idaho.

Hashing out the finances was an exercise. I probably won't air it all out here in a public forum, but we've essentially been treading water for a few years and the next year or two will really make or break us in that regard. I am looking at my hobby projects and trying to prioritize them by which ones I've already got enough figures to complete. Some extraneous stuff like World of Warcraft accounts and some of our cell phone services and maybe even our internet speed are going to get cut. It's a good excuse to read more, if you want to look on the bright side of things. I have been incredibly lucky to have steady employment throughout this recession, and even my wife's layoff worked out pretty well for us. I was looking at my profile on Kiva today and noticed the average annual income in much of the world is less that I make in one or two months, and I am relatively low on the food chain here. I've been to parts of the world where nearly everyone lives in abject poverty, and it seems ungrateful of me to feel resentful when most of my worries and concerns are about luxuries and excesses rather than a daily struggle just to survive. I think that we often get so focused on the "woe is me" attitude that it is hard to look outside ourselves and realize how lucky we are. If my main worries in life are a newer wood stove, having to wait on buying an AR-15, and which miniatures to paint next, then I really have no place to complain about anything.
I did a mini-inventory of my gaming stuff last night. I didn't count figures or add up point values or anything; I just went through all of my stuff and determined what armies I have figures for. It was rather enlightening. There's a lot of stuff tucked away in the game room, and a lot of stuff strung out all across the house. I'm not sure when I'll find time to paint it all, let alone use it in games. Luckily I've already got enough stuff to make most of my Warhammer Fantasy/Warhammer 40k armies playable, with the things I want mostly falling into the cool models/big models/Forge World category. At some point I will do a full look at all of the projects and what end-states I visualize for them, but that is a long, long post and I don't have time to do it justice at the moment.

03 January 2010

Yesterday I went to my parents' farm to help vaccinate their cows. The Black Angus went pretty smoothly, as the new corral and chute system is a lot easier to work with than the old days when we just had a rope and a tree. It was a bit muddy, and at one point I found a hole in the poo which pretty much swallowed my leg. I did not take any spare clothes with me, so I drove home in underwear and a pair of my dad's overalls. On wet days the poo and mud actually soaks into your gloves and clothes and your skin sort of absorbs the cow-stink in a sort of organic lotion effect. After two showers I could still smell the cow on my skin a little bit. But the Angus went pretty well.

The Longhorns, on the other hand, were a learning experience for us. My parents own them largely as a form of pasture ornamentation, but they still need to be vaccinated to keep them from becoming ill. Unfortunately the size of their horns makes it impossible for them to negotiate the cattle chute. So we had to devise a way of confining them with a gate and securing the horns by looping ropes around them and pulling them up tight against the fence long enough for them to get their shots. It was rather exciting and one of the cows was too crafty to even let us catch her, although we had a good time running all over the pasture while she and her friend wrecked stuff and jumped fences. While we were chasing her one of the other longhorns decided that she didn't want to be in the corral any more and broke through the wall. I'm sure that in time a better way will be found, but in any case no one was injured and compared with the rodeos of the past this was a pretty decent outing. Those horns sure are long and sharp-looking though.

For dinner we had hamburgers as a little joke.

Too sleepy to post tonight, so maybe tomorrow I'll get something put up.

02 January 2010

Goals for 2010

Many of the gaming blogs I follow have posted some sort of 2009 year-in-review as well as lists of goals for 2010. I think I posted some gaming goals a while back, but I am fairly certain that I failed to achieve any of them. I only painted a handful of figures this year, and didn't complete any projects. I didn't really play any games, either. It's a bit discouraging, but if games are the biggest thing I have to complain about I am probably doing all right. In spite of my downer outlook on life in general, we were able to do a lot of good things in real life this year. Our kid is healthy and growing, we bought a house and have space now to have people over, the day job is pretty steady and provides for our needs, we've got a decent extended family on both sides, I've got a motorcycle in my garage, and the old lady and I have been married for five years now without much for me to complain about. But back to gaming and 2010.

I am sort of at a loss as far as what to plan on as far as gaming goes. I know I will probably not be around for the last third of the year. The first half of the year will be mostly filled with school, both university classes and military training. I purposely signed up for some easier classes this semester as things are going to be a little crazy. That leaves me without a lot of time to devote to games, maybe an evening here and there or a few weekends. I think I will try to set some moderate goals.

I need to finish painting the Razorback for my Space Marines. I was going to finish it this week when my friend came over to work on games, but we wound up playing computer games instead of working on figures.

The group of Easterlings only needs a few things done to it before I can call them finished. I'd like to get them moved off of my desk and out of my hair. I've got a whole battleforce of Easterlings still left to paint, but I want to finish the box of twenty I started a long time ago. On a similar note, my Moria Goblins need to have a Cave Troll painted before I can call them finished. I also need to pick up a few more of the metal figures for them, but it's not a priority at the moment. I'm trying to focus on projects for which most of the work has already been done.

Assuming I get through that stuff I'd like to get that unit of Warhammer Fantasy Dwarf Slayers put together and at least slap some primer and basecoats on my 1000-point Dwarf army. Getting through all of that will be a minor miracle, so maybe I'll stop there.

My main goal for the year is to get some reading done. As a younger person I was a voracious reader. I'd read books all day and then hide in my room at night and read more books with a small lamp or flashlight. Somewhere along the way I lost that appetite for reading and I've noticed a steady decline in my vocabulary and mental capacity over the years. I feel a bit of urgency as far as getting that back, so I would like to fill some of my spare moments getting into some real books. I'm not particularly talking about gaming books, but history books dealing with my periods of interest and maybe some game-related novels would be a good start.

I don't have the playing of actual games on the list as I am not sure I'll set aside any time for that. Once I get my Dwarves put together I would like to play around a bit and pit them against my Skaven, but outside of that I don't have anything concrete planned.

01 January 2010

It snowed a lot yesterday, so I got to move my woodpile in a snowstorm. It wasn't too bad. After a while the pile in the driveway started to show signs of shrinking and eventually I got it all stacked up and looking okay. I do need to acquire some tarps to cover the stack up with, but we've got a firewood rack under the back awning that will keep a couple of weeks' supply under cover and dry. I am fairly pleased with the wood heating so far. It's a bit uneven compared to the central heating, but most of the house stays in a comfortable range several degrees higher than we can afford to set the thermostat at running on strictly electric heat. We went and looked at wood stoves the other day. We saw a nice one with some temperature controls and doo-dads but it was about $800 more that we wanted to spend. In reality we might be able to get another couple of years out of the current stove and apply the money to other things. I did like all the bells and whistles, though. They did go a bit too far, though, selling a stove-mounted fan for approximately $300. It's a fan. You bolt it onto the stove and it blows air. That's it. It isn't mounted inside the stove or hook up to any ducting or anything. It's just a $300 fan. I could buy a box fan for $30 and use the other $270 to buy a whole pile of firewood. Every industry has to upsell something, I guess. The HVAC guy who came to the house had some stuff that he was upselling as well, like a bacteria-killing UV light.

By the time it was all done guests had begun arriving to hang out for New Year's Eve. I was worn out from moving the wood and I went to bed for a while until the wife came upstairs to let me know my friend had shown up. We sat around and goofed off online for a while and put together a character concept for an e-mail campaign he's planning on running. The character is basically an angry lumberjack. I'm not sure if plaid flannel and fur hats with earflaps exist in high fantasy, but that's what I envision. The game is in theory going to be run on the Hero System 6th Edition rules. I don't have the books myself, so I can't really comment on what the rules are like. I've heard that combat tends to bog down, but I think that's true of any system really. I don't know if I want to shell out the $80 ($50 for digital copies) for both core books, but I may eventually swing the $20 to get the trimmed-down basic rules. I am looking forward to playing my lumberjack character. The wife has decided on a battle nun concept, although it hasn't been fully fleshed out yet. I'll leave it to the GM to determine how a lumberjack and a militant nun wind up adventuring together. My friend's wife also has to come up with her character, so we'll see what she comes up with. The idea of an adventuring party is a bit silly to begin with, if you really think about it. But it makes for better cinema than role-playing a group of commoners doing normal commoner stuff like farming and catching the Black Death or being caught up in their lord's petty disputes with another kingdom and being overrun by a bunch of well-armored knights.

While working on those Easterlings I've been worrying about Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings line. I don't really have much in the way of viable forces for LotR games, and it seems like the line (and the license) can't go on forever. They're really stretching for concepts these days, mostly just adding command figures to some armies. Most of my other gaming interests are relatively stable in terms of availability. The American Civil War isn't going anywhere. Warhammer Fantasy and 40k are both fairly stable and widely available. Vikings are everywhere. World War Two has plenty on offer in 15mm. Reaper's CAV and Warlord systems don't seem like they're going anywhere anytime soon, even if CAV releases are a bit stagnant and Warlord figures are perpetually on clearance at the local shop. But Lord of the Rings in the particular style and size of the Games Workshop line is really only available from one source, and I am worried that it will disappear before I am ready for it to be gone. This isn't to say that I've heard rumors or that I think the gaming industry in general is in danger, but I do worry about a licensed line that's been around for a while and that really doesn't seem to have a lot of room left for expansion or big-money releases that would convince GW to keep the line rolling.