22 February 2010

My Desktop Is Dead to Me

In an effort to be more efficient about my homework I attempted to move to my desk and use my desktop rather than my laptop, which has a lot of distractions built into it. I realized how little my desktop gets used when I picked up the keyboard off the floor and the keys were all stuck. My boy poured part of a can of Cranberry Splash soda out on my desk and the surrounding area a couple months ago, and until now I hadn't realized how much of it had gone into the keyboard. Really all the desktop is used for these days is to serve as a network hub so my laptop can access the portable hard drive that's plugged into the desktop. I think my wife's desktop serves a similar purpose; the network and the printers all run through it but that's about it. I think I would probably be more productive at my homework if I were seated at my desk instead of lounging about wherever my laptop happens to be. It's something to think about.

Unfortunately my laptop is so convenient to use and it happens to be a little faster at things than my older machine. The only real downside to the laptop is that the lid creaks a lot and it will be a little too cumbersome to go along with me when I go on the "potential" deployment that "may" be coming up. That means I have to search for a netbook or something that can serve as a computer and a portable movie player. There are so many devices I would like to have, like a GPS unit with Iraq/Afghanistan maps on it.

20 February 2010

Time for an Inventory?

I went to my cousin's house yesterday after work. He's been thinking of refocusing on his favorite armies and downsizing parts of his collection. While we were discussing his armies he asked me what I need for my Space Marines. The question sort of blind-sided me, even though I knew I was going over there to look at his Marines. Upon reflection I realized that I didn't really have a lot of needs for my Warhammer Fantasy and 40k armies.

For Space Marines I guess my one weakness was vehicles, and even there I had a representative collection that includes a Land Raider, a Predator, a couple of Rhinos, a Razorback, a Dreadnought, and a Land Speeder or two. For infantry I am pretty well set for any game that can be finished in the course of an evening, with enough guys to swap out different weapon builds and whatnot. I don't have much in the way of guys on bikes or chaplains/librarians. What I am really missing is the time and the drive to get guys put together and play games with friends. So I guess the short answer to all of my problems is to make some friends and convert my shelves full of boxes into shelves full of assembled figures that will eventually turn into shelves full of painted figures.

I came home with a nice box of goodies. There are six early-edition vehicles, four Rhinos and two Predators, one with a Lascannon turret and one with the Autocannon turret. These kits predate my involvement in miniature wargaming by several years, and are pretty cool from a retro gamer standpoint. A few of them are missing exhaust pipes or have broken antennas, but I already have plans for remedying that.

I also got a neat resin Drop Pod from Forge World. I did not have any Drop Pods, and I am interested in trying it out sometime. The box also contains a couple of Marine figures, a Master of the Chapter with a big hammer and a Standard Bearer for a Command Squad.

And for Warhammer Fantasy he sent me home with six or seven hundred points of Dwarves that are all put together and ready to be added to the 1000-point army sitting on my painting desk. He also had a spare Skull Pass rulebook. About ten minutes after I got home I found my copy of the rulebook in a place I could swear I checked a dozen times this week. At least I only had to borrow a copy of the book to help me find it rather than pay the going rate of around $20 on eBay for it.

Perhaps most importantly I came home with a little motivation to get some things going and hopefully get a few games in before I go overseas, even if I have to play with unpainted figures. It was nice to sit around and talk to someone who is enthusiastic about the universe and the games, as well as to see someone else's painted figures in person rather than just reading about them in a blog. I was particularly impressed by the Valkyrie, the Sisters of Battle, and some of the Imperial Guard conversions that he's done to represent particular units.

Now I think it's time to go through my shelves and determine what I've got for each army and how many points that works out to.

17 February 2010

Some Fun Online Tools

Here are a couple of fun things to help pass a little time online. First up is the Harley Davidson online customizer, which allows you to take one of their motorcycles and add various parts to it. I'm partial to all-black bikes, but there are plenty of fun builds to choose from. Just don't look at the payment calculator while your significant other is around.

Next up is the AR-15 Builder, which lets you build various versions of the M-16 or M-4 family. There are even a few pre-built models to look at if you're stuck for ideas.

And finally, for those who paint miniatures is Reaper's new Power Palette, which lets you upload a photo and figure out which colors from Reaper's paint range will match the colors in the picture. I believe there are conversion guides out there on independent sites that will allow you to convert Reaper colors to other commonly-used brands of paint, but I do not have any bookmarked at the moment.

15 February 2010

Got a Message from Reaper, and Pardon the Navel-gazing Near the End

I got an e-mail from Reaper's customer service department this morning to let me know they're shipping out a Wraith Harvester to replace the broken one that came in my recent order. So that was quick and relatively painless. I will have to order from them again in the future. I actually have a spreadsheet of Reaper figures I "need" for my Warlord armies.

I spent a portion of the day trying to wake up and went out to buy some groceries. By groceries I am referring to soda (bad for me but I haven't given it up yet), protein shakes that I drink instead of meals because I often forget to eat meals, and Owen food (some form of greens for our tortoise, whose name is Owen).

Then I did homework. I don't mind reading the books for my classes, but I would prefer to read fewer pages and absorb more of the information and make connections. With a couple hundred pages to read for each class it becomes a bit of a marathon. I just read and read, hoping to catch enough key words to pass the test.

My high school class has begun to discuss holding a ten-year reunion this summer. I don't know if I want to attend, mostly because thinking about it leads into self-evaluation and embarrassment at how little I've done with my life so far. I am blessed to have a good family and my basic needs are all covered, but it seems that the people who were once my peers have gone on ahead of me. Many of them graduated from school several years ago and have gone on to higher degrees and/or careers that seem fulfilling. I wasted time, lost my scholarships, and feel a bit stuck in a career that pays the bills but feels like a dead end and doesn't suit me very well. I may get a degree in four or five years, depending on scheduling and the pending deployment overseas. It's something that bothers me all the time, but events and anniversaries bring it out a little more.

In a feel-good comedy I guess this is the place where I would decide to throw away the day job and chase my dreams, going through various montages set to upbeat music until I have everything I ever wanted, but I am an endless fount of pessimism and I find it difficult to imagine giving up the security of a permanent position with decent pay for the uncertainty of trying to be happy. The life I have should be enough for me.

I Can't Find My Rulebook

I've been wanting to run my Dwarves out against my Skaven, but I can't find the little Warhammer rulebook that came with my Battle for Skull Pass set. It's been kicking around in my backpacks and book stacks for a while, but now that I need it I can't find it. I never did find my Dwarf army book, either. Perhaps they are in the same place.

13 February 2010

Neck Agility

The motorcycle shop called me today and let me know the stuff I'd ordered was in; they seemed surprised that I went in and picked it up today. I didn't want to have to make the trip into town again tomorrow and today was an early day at work, so I was able to get my stuff and still get home before rush hour hit. The boots fit me pretty well. They are the same style as my previous boots, but a larger size as my old boots squeezed my toes a lot. Now I just have to get my bike registration renewed. There were a lot of bikes out on the road today. It's always fun to look at what people are riding. At the shop they had a new 2010 Honda CBR 1000RR on the showroom floor that was a treat to look at, but that sort of bike is well out of my price range and not much use for commuting anyway. It sure is pretty, though.

My order from Reaper arrived the other day. One of the figures had his weapon broken off due to a packaging error. The blister they put him in is too small to adequately hold the entire figure, so the weapon was partially sealed into the edge of the plastic and broke off at a weak point. I may be able to fix it with some drilling and gluing, but I may not be able to. I e-mailed the customer service department about it and I'm waiting on a response from them.

I went to work today, so that was good. I only had to step outside once or twice for a bout of coughing. There is plenty of work on tap. The boss is going to be in the office on Monday in spite of the holiday. I've contemplated going in to get things caught back up, but will have to wait and see how much homework I get through tomorrow.

10 February 2010

Voted Off the Island

Last night I finally fell asleep around 3 am and woke up to a coughing fit at 5 am. Somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed, perform personal hygiene, get dressed, pack my backpack, and go to work. After 45 minuted my coworkers decided I was too sick to be at work and voted to send me home, which is really where I wanted to be anyway. The only reason I didn't call in sick is that I am out of leave, so taking time off work means coming up short on the next paycheck's bills. On the way home I picked up some medicine and once at home I e-mailed my professor to request an excused absence and laid down for a quick nap. When I woke up it was 5 pm. So I did some reading for school and here I am. The lack of sleep last night and the long nap today means that my sleep timer is way off. Hopefully tomorrow morning my cough will be cut back enough that I'll be able to perform my duties at work without distracting my coworkers. I feel a lot of guilt about missing time because our timeliness deadlines mean that someone else has to pick up my job. I don't like it when it happens to me, and I don't like having my job pushed onto others. I realize that this isn't the most riveting drama, but it's all I've got.

Games Workshop has released pictures of some upcoming models. There is a plastic Ork Deff Dread, a box of three Killa Kans (the models pictured here) in plastic, a Space Marines Venerable Dreadnought, and updated kits for the Imperial Guard Basilisk and Chimera. There's also a metal Ork Flash Git figure and a book of missions for 40k. The best value in this group seems to be the Killa Kans, which come in cheaper than the previous metal version. Some people have worried that this box of three is a limited-offer thing, with the three Killa Kans to be later packaged individually at a higher price point. A brief look at pictures of the sprues looks like you might be able to make on Kan from each sprue, but I don't know how they'd package it so that you could be sure to get the weapon options you wanted for a particular model. More likely is that Games Workshop would just bump up the price of the 3-pack whenever they do their price adjustments.

I seem to have hit a minor lull in my coughing, so I think I'll try to get to sleep before it starts up again.

No Sleep

My cough has really hit me now that it's nighttime and it is preventing me from sleeping. In four hours I have to get up and go to work. My coworkers will probably be averse to my coughing fits, but I need my paycheck so I can pay my bills. As one of my teachers used to say all the time, "Ya gotta feed your kids!" Even though I stayed home all day I didn't get much accomplished. The textbook I was trying to read is an online book, and I found myself easily distracted. I was able to finish the reading assignment from an honest-to-goodness paper book, but the online text scrolled slowly and the words were blurry. I found myself having to read every page three or four times before I really absorbed it. I wonder if the act of reading from a screen is what did it? Do I pay less attention to things I read online? Does my attention span only last as far as the next hyperlink? Not really what I planned to write about, but there it is.

No miniatures work for me since the last update. I toyed around with the Reaper Warlord army list program (not allowed to call it an army builder, apparently, since the creator of the Army Builder program sent out a hasty cease and desist letter to some forum moderator and the internets have been abuzz with backlash, partial retractions, and posturing on all sides) a day or two ago and came up with a list of figures I'd like to get. And instead of doing any of the things I talked about doing with my spending money last week I decided to order a few of those Reaper figures. I also went to Hobbytown and got some acrylic thinner for my airbrush. I didn't really like how it worked with water (although the problem could really be my methods) and I thought I'd give it a try. Perhaps the thinner won't spray so wet.

Not much else to report. I gave our dogs a bath, which is always an adventure. They don't like being bathed and it was quite a chore to get the Lab into the tub. The Basset Hound is slow and not extremely heavy so he can be scooped up and placed in the tub. The Lab is all legs and claws in addition to being mentally deficient and panicky, so eventually I just had to hulk out and snatch her up by her scruff and her hindquarters and carry her to the tub. Once in the tub they must constantly be fielded as they will try to get out or at least as far away from the water as possible. I'm pretty sure I didn't swear during this round of baths, so it's an improvement from the past. They don't really smell any better now. They just smell different, like if you poured a bucket of soapy water on a turd. There is some sort of science to it, something about the water activating sebaceous glands in the dog's skin that release Sebum to combat cold and dehydration. Then bacteria break down the Sebum and the dogs smells. Science!

07 February 2010

No Life

I spent the day feeling progressively worse as some sort of cough/cold/sore throat bug has caught up with me. I tried to do a little tidying up around the house, but you wouldn't know it from looking around.

I put a little bit of paint on some figures today. I've been working on the basecoat for my Space Marine Razorback. I spent some time looking for shortcuts, but everything I read says to apply multiple thin coats of paint or you'll wind up with cracks and evident brush strokes in your work. I hate to wait. It looks like it's going to take a while to get the base color built up, then it'll be off to the races on detail work. I also began work on a Duke Gerard figure for Reaper's Warlord game. I've been trying to think of ways to keep my painting going, and I think by switching game systems or working on a couple of projects at the same time I can avoid burning out on any one project.

Yesterday I got my Warhammer Fantasy Dwarf Slayers all cleaned up and epoxied to their bases. With that done I've got 1000 points of Dwarves put together. At some point this week I'd like to line them up across from some Skaven and have a battle. I don't have any scenery, so I'll have to make do with other things to stand in for hills and trees.

06 February 2010

The Pizza Makes Me Angry

Just as a little warning to those weighing their options when it comes to cheap pizzas, the Domino's Ready-To-Go pizza is 30% bigger in circumference than the Little Ceasars Hot-N-Ready pizza only because it is about 75% thinner. Seriously, the crust is like wet one-ply toilet paper. Do not be fooled.

You can easily eat the Little Ceasars pizza while driving, but if you attempt it with the Domino's pizza it will fold, fall apart, and the saucy cheese mixture will tumble down the front of your clothing.

Oh, and my Admiral Ackbar "It's a Trap!" shirt from shirt.woot arrived in the mail today. The cashier at Hobbytown complimented me on it.

Spoiled for Choices

I dropped the wife and boy off at the airport on Thursday for their three-week trip to Georgia. Hopefully I survive while they're gone as I don't cook very well and often forget to eat. I will miss having them around. That kid is learning and growing so quickly that he hardly seems like the same person, even after two or three weeks away. He's started to say, "Uh oh!" whenever he falls over and he also likes to spin in circles until he gets dizzy. He's really taken to being a biped and now runs at full speed just about everywhere he goes.

I went to the motorcycle shop, as I've been holding on to the gift certificate I got when I bought my bike and I figured it was time to use it. I've lost it once or twice already and I didn't want it to disappear for good sometime. I ordered a pair of riding boots and a hoodie. With my military discount the cashier told me I still had a bit of credit left, so I ordered a t-shirt too. While I was there I (of course) had a look at all the bikes. There were plenty of nice ones on offer, but I don't need a new bike at all. I'd like to do a couple of things to my current one at some point. It's still pretty fun as it is, though. Today I got the bike out of the garage, put on my jacket and helmet, and was just about to get on and ride away when I realized the registration had expired at the end of December. Oops. I'll have to get that sorted out on Monday.

I went to the hobby shops too, looking around at different stuff. I've got a small bit of spending money in my pocket and I'm not sure what to do with it. I could buy the AK47 Republic rules, but I don't have any figures that could stand in for AK47 forces. A new rulebook won't help me out much as I've got plenty of rulesets. I could get a starter fleet for Uncharted Seas and depending on which fleet I get I could add in a pack of templates as well. I could try to hold on to the cash for a while and save up for a big kit like an Ork Stompa or a magazine subscription. My White Dwarf subscription will run out in another month or two. I've got more than enough kits for most of my armies but I suppose I could also supplement my Empire army with some stuff, maybe a box or two of infantry. Choosing what to do is probably more fun than the actual transaction.

On Thursday evening I also sat down and finished up my batch of Easterlings. So now I've got 20 Easterlings all painted up. I think there are 8 archers, 8 swordsmen, and 4 halberdiers. Now I've got to decide what to work on next. I would post a photo or two but I'm pretty sure my wife took the cameras to Georgia with her.

05 February 2010

Not an iPad

I don't think I will get an iPad, but the iMug looks like it could be a decent alternative. No doubt the price point is a little more palatable.

02 February 2010

Some Painting Progress and 40k Thoughts

Today I went to my second class of the evening and found a sign on the door announcing that class was canceled. So I went home and sat around for a little while deciding whether to do homework or take some free time to do something fun. The wife and the boy had gone to my parents' house for the evening, so I had a little free time all to myself. At first I thought I might clean up my unit of Dwarf Slayers and put them on bases, but I hate cleaning mold lines and flash from metal models and I didn't really feel like dragging the epoxy out either.

So I put some paint on Lord of the Rings Easterlings for a couple of hours. They are very close to being finished; just a couple more colors and I'll consider them done. I guess it would make sense to work on projects that might actually go somewhere, but the Easterlings are almost done and I still hold some hope in my heart of getting all the figures I need to do justice to my Lord of the Rings miniature wargaming plans.

I briefly considered putting a movie on or playing some music while I painted, but decided against it. I tend to use painting time as a chance to think about things. I guess you could call it a form of meditation. I don't sit down with an agenda or anything. Today I thought about a backstory for my 40k armies and how I would build and paint an Ork Stompa if I ever get another one. The first one got sold at a bit of a loss when things were a little tight during the house-buying process.

I also considered some of the problems the Imperium might have during a protracted war against Orks. The Orks would be more than willing to use captured Imperial equipment as wargear or parts for wargear, but the Imperial Guard and especially Space Marines would never use Ork gear. Even Imperial gear that was recaptured from the Orks would have to basically be rebuilt and cleaned up before it could be reused. Along those same lines, I considered how insulting it would be to the Space Marines if one of their Brother Dreadnoughts were to be captured and turned into an Ork Dreadnought. That affront alone would probably be enough to bring the full weight of a Space Marine Chapter down on an Ork warband.

The rest of my thoughts were centered on personal or family business, so I won't share them here. Hopefully I can find a few more hours over the next few months to get some painting in and tie up a few projects. Once again I have stayed up far too late and will have to drag myself out of bed in the morning.

01 February 2010


I've been pretty much swamped with homework and haven't had time to do anything else for the last little while. There haven't been a lot of assignments, but each of my classes has about a million pages of reading per week. I'm having trouble keeping up with all of it.

I feel bad that I don't really have much to say about my hobbies, but there hasn't been much going on with that part of my life lately. I wish it were different. Hopefully once I get into a schedule with my schoolwork I'll be able to carve out some time for that.

The boy has grown a little more attached to me, which has been fun. When I get home from work he tries to shadow me for most of the evening and we have a good time goofing off and playing around. He's a very happy kid and always entertaining to watch, even if he makes us absolutely crazy sometimes with his boundless energy.