28 June 2010

Isn't It...Iconic?

The other day I arrived home to see a package sitting inside the door. I did a quick mental inventory and couldn't remember ordering anything (not that my mental inventories are ever very accurate) and I was pretty sure I didn't recognize the shipper, so I took the box into the other room and opened it.

I'm pretty sure I recognize that silhouette...

Inside the Jumpman box I found a shiny, new-smelling, uber-stupendous pair of Jordan Icons in my size. These are honest-to-goodness basketball shoes, just like the pros wear. My wife came home shortly after and gave me a suspicious look when she saw new shoes on the table. I had been talking about basketball shoes, you know...

Luckily I was not in trouble, as the shoes were another kind gift from my Uncle Clair, who I imagine is encouraging me to find a ball and a hoop as well as issuing a challenge to bring my game, such as it is, to one of the family gatherings where basketball is the name given to familial bonding.

The shoes fit well, like a glove for my feet, and they offer very good ankle support. I may not be breaking anyone's ankles with my crossover dribble, but I won't be breaking my ankles off either. And they sure do look good on my feet. Once again I find myself at the mercy of another's generosity, and I suppose the best way to show gratitude in this case is to make sure these kicks get plenty of court time. Thank you again, Uncle Clair.

And I apologize just a little bit for the music reference in the title of this post.

26 June 2010

This month's White Dwarf showcases the new 8th Edition rules for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I've read through the articles and had a brief look through Hobbytown's preview copy of the main rulebook. The book certainly looks nice, but I could've done without the 300 pages of hobby and background stuff if it meant keeping the price tag a little more reasonable.

It seems that in this edition Games Workshop is pushing for armies composed of two or three hordes (30+ models with a 10-man frontage) supported by smaller elite and artillery units. The advantage of a horde is that an extra rank gets to fight during combat and if I understand it correctly, the unit gets a morale advantage so long as it outnumbers the enemy. If that sort of army has the advantage over previous builds, then my Skaven might be well and truly obsolete. I painted my 25-man Skaven units independent of each other, so their paint schemes don't match up with each other. To upgrade them to units of 30-40 models I'd have to acquire a pile of the old Skaven Clanrat models and match them up into my existing units. My Clanrat Slaves could be pushed together into a super-unit, though, as I painted both units the same way. The hardest part may be finding the older models at a reasonable price, as there aren't a whole lot of them up on eBay these days. I don't know that I'd ever want to paint up a couple hundred of the newer models just to keep my army up to speed. With the removal of the Dogs of War Giant and the 8th Edition update to unit sizes my army has really been gutted.

My main focus right now is on my Empire army. The 1000-point list I've been painting up fits within the current army composition rules, which run on percentages rather than having a specific number of slots for each troop type. You have to have at least a General and three other units. You must have at least 25% Troops, up to 50% of your army can be composed of Special choices, and each of the other troop types (Rare, Lords, Heroes) can take up to 25% of your points. There are some rules about duplication as well. Most of the sample lists in the White Dwarf article were at pretty big point levels, probably because of the emphasis on large blocks of infantry. The problem I see with that is that tables aren't getting any larger. The battle report in the magazine was at 3500 points, and the armies had to deploy diagonally across the table just to fit everything on the table. After that there wasn't much room for the lines to do anything but rush each other. It's the same complaint I've seen about 40k lately, ever since Apocalypse pushed people to get all of their figures out on the table. It seems to me that you could get a much more satisfying game by either increasing the table size (not feasible in many situations) or playing with a smaller number of points.

23 June 2010

Warhammer Fantasy Plans

I didn't get much done on my Empire army this weekend. I got my unit of Halberdiers undercoated. A while ago my little helper rearranged them to the point that they wouldn't rank up anymore. After the undercoat I spent a little bit of time making them fit together as a unit again and painting numbers on the bottom of their bases corresponding to each model's position in the unit. That should eliminate any troubles with soldiers losing their place in formation.

I saw the cover of Hobbytown's advance copy of the Warhammer 8th Edition rules. That sure is a thick book, but the price tag is crazy. I'd be tempted to buy the upcoming starter box, keep the rulebook, and part the rest out on eBay. Not sure how much I'll wind up saving over buying a copy of the hardcover book as there is no price out on the box set at the moment, so I guess I've got some time before I have to decide. Perhaps when the boy isn't with me I'll take a look through the store copy and see what all is in there. He tends to be a handful at the hobby shop.

If the rumors about the pending trip overseas are true, I may have a space of my own and fairly predictable free time. That would be a step up from last time, when my free space included my bed and about two feet extra on three sides. Our schedule was fairly predictable on some days, but at other times we were going all day and night. If I get over there and find the rumors are true, it may be a good opportunity to paint some figures. I wouldn't want any really bulky or expensive models, but I could probably finish up my Empire army and the 1000 points of Dwarves I have put together. It could even be a good chance to put together some Kill Team stuff for 40k. It could be fun to put together a bits box before I leave and see what I can kitbash with what I've got. We'll see what happens, but it would sure beat sitting around in my room playing WoW. At least I'd have something to show for my time when I got home.

22 June 2010

Good Mail Day

Yesterday a package arrived in the mail containing the fountain pen I won in the Raven's March pen give-away. I've filled it with ink and made a couple of doodles, but nothing quite like the fine handwriting you see on the pen websites. At least my writing is generally legible, a trait I've come to appreciate while working with other folk's handwritten documents each day. I think this pen will come in handy for making notations at work. Writing with a nice pen is one of the little enjoyments in my life, and the presence of such an object often leaves me finding an excuse to write something down. Thank you, Raven's March; I hope to get much use out of the pen!

21 June 2010

The Thunder Mountain Line

For Father's Day my wife acquired some tickets for us to ride the Thunder Mountain Line, a scenic train here in Idaho that runs along the Payette River, where my family occasionally goes rafting. Once my wife got calmed down (we came close to missing the train and she got a bit stressed out) we had a good time. The scenery was nice, aside from the time we spent watching the backside of Photo Guy, who spent the entire ride climbing around people to take pictures, either scenic shots or glamour photos of his wife. If someone happened to be standing in a spot where he wanted to be, he would either hover and fidget nervously with his camera or move in uncomfortably close to them and get his shot anyway. Most of the trip was sunny, but the rain started coming down really hard during the last ten minutes. We got soaked and I didn't get a chance to take pictures of the trains, but overall it was a good time and I enjoyed spending a few hours with my wife and the boy.

After the train ride we went to my parents' house to eat some dinner and visit. It was a bit silly there, but we had a good time and Grandpa gave the boy a sorely-needed haircut. My wife was worried that he would cut it too short (as if such a thing exists), but he came out looking quite handsome. I stress out a lot when it comes to my responsibilities as a father, but I sure enjoy my little family.

19 June 2010

Empire Mortar and Crew Finished

I finally got the crew finished for my Empire Mortar. The paint jobs are fairly basic for the most part, especially the metal on the Mortar itself. At some point I will add some depth and weathering to it, but for now I am focusing on getting through some figures. I'm thinking about painting my Halberdiers next.

The Claw!

My boy found my motorcycle gloves, put them on, and came upstairs to get me.

Manute Bol, Dead at 47

Manute Bol, who at 7'7" was one of the tallest people to play in the NBA, died today of liver failure and a skin condition he contracted while performing humanitarian work in his home country of Sudan. He spent nearly his entire NBA earnings helping his country and negotiating for peace between the warring factions of his homeland, an great example of unheralded selflessness. Here is an article about his humanitarian efforts. Too often we focus only on the on-court/field/stage exploits of big-name celebrities while ignoring or celebrating the excessive behaviors they exhibit in their personal lives. I know I am guilty of it at times. He probably should have had more recognition for the work he was doing, but it seems the humanitarian troubles of Africa are greatly under-reported in the media.

As an aside, look at the shoes on Bol and Muggsy Bogues. Those are some nice clean kicks, especially paired up with the tall (well, maybe not so tall on Muggsy) tube socks. That's vintage hoops right there. Muggsy's shoes are an ancestor to the Idaho Vandals Converse Star Player EVO I posted a while back.

18 June 2010

Game 7

The Celtics lost to the Lakers 83-79 after leading for most of the game, but their depleted older roster wore down by the end and didn't stay far enough ahead to withstand the inevitable Lakers surge. The photo shows one of the big reasons why, as Rondo fights the Lakers' big men for a rebound. With Kendrick Perkins out of the game, the Celtics had no one underneath to contest for rebounds, and all of the second, third, and fourth chances the Lakers got took their toll. A few more rebounds and the Celtics probably would've pulled it off. Unfortunately the Celtics look to be transitioning into a rebuilding mode for next season and no other team looks poised to beat the Lakers next year. I'd like to say the Rockets will have a chance with Yao Ming back, but I don't know if Houston has enough pieces to make it in the West.

17 June 2010

Thursday Brain Dump

There's not really much to talk about, but I feel an obligation to post something every couple of days. A while back I was getting pretty good at having two or three posts lined up for the future. Then I stopped doing anything interesting and ran out of posts.

I am looking forward to the big Game 7 tonight between the Celtics and Lakers. I really hope it's not wrapped up in the first few minutes like Game 6 was. I don't have any Celtics gear to wear in my living room, so I can't be counted on for any pro-Celtics voodoo. I am a bit of a bandwagon fan anyway and probably haven't built up enough win-mojo to influence the final outcome. That stuff is built up throughout the season(s), not in the thick of the playoffs.

Speaking of Celtics gear, the Nike Hyperfuse that Rajon Rondo has been wearing throughout the playoffs are going to be released to the public in August. They are certainly one of the more vibrant shoes on the court, letting everyone within 1/4-mile know where he is. Here is a link to the source, where there are also a few more photos.

I haven't touched my paintbrushes in a few days for various reasons. I will almost certainly not get my Empire army painted before I go overseas. Hopefully I can finish a unit or two, though, so I'll have some kind of hobby content to post here.

I had some good news at work, with a promotion and a raise. It works out to about 10.7% more money, although it comes with more responsibilities. And it really had nothing to do with merit or performance on my part. Everyone at my level got the bump up. But it's still a nice thing to move up a little and take more money home every two weeks.

I really hope Game 7 is good. My wife thinks I'm a little bit excited, because I texted her about it a couple of times today. I guess I am a little bit excited.

14 June 2010


The weekend was much too short for my tastes. When it was over I still had a pile of stuff left over that I'd wanted to get to, but I ran out of time. I did make some progress on the Empire Mortar. With another 1-2 hours I think I could finish up the crew and move on to another unit. I might try to paint the Knights next, although that would mean making my first attempt at painting horses. We'll see how that goes.

On Saturday while we were out getting some groceries I saw a Nike Outlet store and decided to go in and have a look around. There were a few neat shoes in there, but as is usual with outlet stores the selection was a bit sparse. While I was looking at the basketball shoes my wife walked up and said, "If you started playing basketball, you could probably justify buying some basketball shoes." She has a point.

In middle school I played a lot of schoolyard ball during the lunch break and after school with friends or at Boy Scouts. I also had a whole pile of basketball cards, including a decent-sized collection of Hakeem Olajuwon memorabilia. I was never much of a player. I couldn't shoot, my ball-handling was terrible, and bigger guys (pretty much everyone) were able to bump me out of the way with relative ease.

I liked rebounding and blocking shots, especially if I got the upper hand on a taller guy. I stopped buying basketball cards when the focus really moved to premium cards with insanely small print runs and serially numbered inserts as collecting all or even most of the cards of any one player became nearly impossible. This was about the time that Olajuwon's career began declining.

It was probably around that same time that I quit playing basketball or following the NBA outside of looking at Houston Rockets boxscores and playing fantasy sports. It would probably be fun to get back into it a bit, but I think I would be seen as a liability out on the court.

Boston played very well in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and now have a 3-2 lead in the Series. One more win and they will take the trophy. They will have to win at LA, though, so it will be a little tougher. Most of the Lakers looked like they'd started their summer break early in the last game. I guess we'll see if the home crowd energizes them a bit. Glen Davis didn't really figure into the game, but that's how it goes with role players off the bench. If the starters are doing well it doesn't make sense to pull them.

13 June 2010

This evening I got a little work done on the Empire Mortar and crew. I would post a picture of my progress so far, but the camera is dead and I have no idea where the battery charger is. I would like to try out some weathering tricks from Forge World's Imperial Armour Model Masterclass Vol. 1 on the Mortar, but I don't currently have the weathering powders I need to give it the full treatment. Additionally, if I weather the Mortar, I will have to muddy up all the troops in the army so that everything matches. I think I will start out just trying to get them all painted to a decent standard and weather everything later. I'm having a hard time deciding on colors for the clothing on the Mortar crew. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get the camera all charged up and post some more pictures.

10 June 2010

Glen Davis Has Made Me a Celtics Fan

I've always been a Houston Rockets fan, usually not paying attention to the season after they are eliminated from play. They've had a pretty bad run for the last decade, so I spend a lot of time rooting for whoever plays the Jazz or the Lakers. My two big uncles encouraged me to look at the Celtics this time around. There's a rather loudmouthed guy in my Guard unit who pulls for the Lakers, so I thought I'd trash-talk with him a little about the series. Now that I've watched a few games I've become a big fan of Glen 'Big Baby' Davis. He's not one of the superstars on the floor, but I like his hustle and he's got a lot of personality on the floor, making crazy faces and going all out. Seriously, you could make a highlight reel from the faces he makes, including the peanut butter mouth .gif I posted a few days ago. It looks like the Celtics will win this game and tie the Finals 2-2. I think if they can win the next game at home they have a very good chance to win.

Boise Valley Railroad Sighting

At lunchtime today I saw something exciting that I hadn't seen before, a Boise Valley Railroad locomotive going through town. I didn't take this photo, it came from RailPictures.net and was taken by Rob Boes. Here is a link to the photo page. They've certainly got a very exciting color scheme. I don't know how ambitious I want to get, but I could very easily shuffle some things around on my planned layout and run both BVRR and Union Pacific trains on it. Options are always good.

Way to Go! Idaho!

These ones might as well say Vandals across the back of them. They are called the Converse Star Player EVO. I just hope that someday the University of Idaho will rise up from the depths and be relevant athletically. I did enjoy my classes there and the surrounding area is beautiful, but their sports program is suffering a bit and there aren't a lot of jobs up there. It was pretty difficult to play as the Vandals in my NCAA Football video games, as they start out ranked something like 116th in the nation and even if you win all your games (a difficult task with that team) you can't get into a decent bowl. You have to play like fifteen seasons before you get into the top BCS bowls. Anyway, these shoes are rocking the Vandal colors and I think that's neat.

09 June 2010

I thought our boy might have to spend another night at the hospital because his stubborn little self refused to drink anything, but in the evening he got enough fluids down that he was able to be released. He's done pretty well so far. He runs around, talks and sings, and asks to put on his shoes and go bye-bye all the time. You can tell that he's uncomfortable and he pitches fits when he's sleepy or hurting, but hopefully he will continue to improve. His snoring is very loud when he's sleeping, though. Last night I could hear it very clearly from the other room. Once when I was a teenager I was snoring so loudly that my dad had to come out of his bedroom all the way downstairs to tell me to roll over. I'm not sure if he was sleeping with earplugs in during those years, but as I recall he wore earplugs while sleeping for most of my youth.

I got in 20-25 minutes of painting on my Empire Mortar after work today. I wasn't going to paint at all as I had an upset stomach, presumably from the chicken I got for lunch today. But I read a blog post (I've forgotten which blog it was in) today in which the author set a goal to paint at least ten minutes every day. It doesn't seem like a lot, but even if you do only ten minutes a day you wind up with an hour by the end of the week and 60 hours by the end of a year. And I find that if I just sit down and get started I will probably spend more than the ten minutes.

08 June 2010

Train Train? Train Train!

A few days ago we went to the Rail Depot Museum here in town. It was closed, but we looked at a couple of things they have outside and watched trains work in the yard behind the museum. I think the yard elongs to the Boise Valley Railroad, but Union Pacific has rights to run trains on it. Pretty much every locomotive I've seen on the tracks is Union Pacific equipment. There is a large variety of rolling stock in the yard from day to day, so there is always something for me to see on my way home from work. I need to get out there and take some pictures and do some research. My boy also liked watching the trains. He ran around on the grass yelling, "See! Choo choo!" He's still a bit young for a full-on train set, but he likes pushing the little wooden toy trains around. I am not very good yet at identifying the different locomotive types, but the local shop carries many models in UP livery with identification numbers close to the ones I've seen on the actual trains. My current plan is to make this a long-term project, with the next 3-5 years spent planning and educating myself and from there moving on to building an actual layout. I would like to have something up and running by the time my boy is old enough to appreciate it, but I imagine my own layout will take quite a few years to get completed.

07 June 2010

I spent most of today at the hospital with my wife and our boy. He had to get his tonsils and adenoids removed, as well as a couple of cysts in his mouth. The surgeon said his tonsils were some of the worst she's seen in a kid. He's been pretty miserable since he came out of anesthesia, but he's started eating on his own, which was one of the conditions for him to be released from the hospital. The next couple of weeks will probably be horrible as he gets healed up. After that his ability to breathe freely will hopefully mean that he will finally be able to sleep through the night without his tonsils closing off his air and waking him up. That will hopefully also allow us, especially my wife, to get a full night's sleep, too.

I didn't make it home until the evening, and I was too tired to do much painting, so the Mortar and crew are about where they were before. The weekend was taken up with National Guard activities and my brother's birthday.

03 June 2010

Playing with Trains: A Passion Beyond Scale by Sam Posey

I read Playing with Trains: A Passion Beyond Scale this weekend. The first part of the book talks about the author, Sam Posey, and his early fascination with trains. He then talks about the processes he went through while building his own personal train layout, a project that took sixteen years. This part of the book is quite enjoyable, as there are a lot of parallels between model trains and miniature soldiers. You have to pick a scale and a time period. Then comes research and planning (and buying!). After a lot of painting and filing and filling the project begins to take shape, and at some point you look at it and declare it finished (although that spot over there could use a little more work and there is a unit over there that could use a few extra things to be just right).

After discussing his personal layout he ranges out into the seedy underbelly of model railroading and visits the layouts of some of the hobby's personalities. Just like in wargaming, there are divisions within the hobby. There are operators, who try to run realistic layouts often based on a very small time period, even down to a certain railroad on a certain day of a specific year. Then there are the artists, who see their layouts as a way to express themselves. Perhaps a real train wouldn't run that way, but if it serves the purposes of the artist, then that's how it will run. Posey covers a broad range of society with his visits and addresses the problem of the 'graying of the hobby,' something often discussed on miniature wargaming forums. Both hobbies seem to be getting older and are full of those proclaiming that the end will come with the end of the current generation. Both sets of naysayers are probably wrong.

I enjoyed the book very much. In fact, I stayed up much of the night reading it. It's a pretty quick read and gives a lot of insight into what it is that makes hobbyists tick, whether they focus on trains, wargames, or something else entirely.

02 June 2010

Empire Mortar WIP One

It's not a lot of progress, but I've got the undercoat laid down and a start made on blocking the colors in. The gun's carriage is pretty flashy, all decked out in the colors of Middenheim. I've also cut out a base for the unit. I want the gun and crew to be removable from the tray, so I'll probably build up terrain to the level of the bases and leave slots for them. I'm hoping the gun will fit on a couple of cavalry bases or perhaps a large round base from 40k.

I thought his name was Vincent!

Ever wonder how Bo Jackson got his nickname? Click here to find out.

01 June 2010

Color Scheme and a Name for My Knights

I've been trying to come up with a color scheme and a name for my Empire army's Knightly Order. Nothing in the fluff really jumped out at me as something I wanted to copy, although I do like the look of this horse's black armor on the Knights of the Blazing Sun.

I want more of a blue color, though, so I think I've decided to use the Midnight Blue color that Games Workshop sells. It's a very dark blue. In small quantities it looks pretty much black, but I think it will look pretty good on the large armored panels the Knights' horses have. As far as a name goes, I might just call them the Knights of the Midnight Ride.

Greatswords Finished

I finished the Greatswords tonight. I think the worst part of painting a unit is when all the major stuff is painted and you are left having to go through and paint all the little details on each figure. But I was able to get through it and maybe I'll have time to start another unit tomorrow. I estimate these guys probably took about two hours per figure. I'm not sure if I'll meet my goal of getting through the entire 1ooo points before August, but I will at least have some pretty good progress by then. I'm not sure if I want to attack the Mortar and crew or the big unit of Helberdiers next. Here are a few pictures of the Greatswords. They look all right for gaming, I think. I am still working on an idea for the banner, so it's going to remain blank for the moment. I will probably need to practice some freehand as well.