Saturday, September 29, 2007

they're magically delicious

The weekend after Wincon, we were able to play a few games of RoboRally as well as play some Fairy Meat. For figures, I had bought three sets of the Disney Fairies from the Disney store and had left one set unchanged, painted one set alternate colors, and painted the third set in Dark colors (like wannabe Goth Fairies).
For counters, I had bought a bunch (bunches?) of plastic grapes from the dollar store. Green for live, purple/red for meat, and yellow for twinkle. I also picked up some little plastic holders which ended up being too small but work well in holding the live and meat counters when the fairies die.
We only played the intro rule with the intro fairies from the main rulebook (live 3, meat 3, twinkle 1).

Even with the large fairies, we kept the distances the same and they seemed to work out very well. In fact, in the artwork in the book, you could now use Smurf as other figures (gnomes or goblins) and they would match well.

The first game was pretty slow as we worked out the logistics, but the second game was quite fun. We'll probably have to give this another go with the full regular rules.

Monday, September 24, 2007

home again, home again

Just a quick update. I popped in to work to send out the email for the work Survivor pool. I had cleaned down my wallet for the trip and had forgotten to put back in my security ID so I had to get a visitor tag.

We're back from the states - since we had already booked the week off for the Valleycon that was moved, we decided to still go down for the weekend. As holidays go, it was pretty relaxing. The vehicle handled well, and we had no trouble with it.
Crossing back over the border was as easy as it usually was. We came back earlier on Sunday afternoon so the lines weren't anywhere as bad as they were last year.

More and more of our stores are closed. On Friday we did a day trip to Albertville and Bloomington. The KB Toys outlet used to be a fantastic place to shop. I had picked up a trunk of Star Wars models for $1 - $5 back in the day. This time, we hardly found anything worthwhile.

The Mall of America was a bust as well. We still managed to spend a lot there, but more of our stores are on the missing side. Suncoast and Magic Max join Scientific Revolutions, the Bone Store, Techno Comix, KB Toys, Gamekeeper and the other stores that used to make the drive worthwhile.

With Suncoast and the Media Play out, I was unable to find any of the Master Replica's Pirates of the Caribbean things I was looking for. I did finally find some foam cutters at the Hobby Lobby. That was something that I've been trying to find again since I passed on them at GenCon close to a decade ago.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

at par

The Canadian dollar is at $0.986 US today. Hey, 98.6, it’s good to have you back again.
I remember, as a child, the dollar used to be close to the US dollar. We would often seen ‘at par’ signs in Fargo and Grand Forks when on holidays. Comics used to be 25 cents, 30 cents, even ‘still only 35 cents’ and it didn’t matter which side of the border you were on.

Later, the dollar slipped, and comics would have two prices, a US price and, in tiny print, a higher Canadian one. In my early trips to Gencon, the dollar was firmly fixed in the .60s and you had to really work out whether it really was a good deal, especially since the weekend limit was only $50. It was like having metric money – with $1 US being worth $1.6 Canadian.

Last year, with the dollar in the upper .80s, the wife was buying books in the US on holidays as it was cheaper paying the regular US price than paying the higher Canadian price at home. This year, at almost par, the math becomes very easy on looking at the deals and with the limit raised to $200, it becomes dangerous.

I remember the last trip back from Gencon, and we were close to the limit, depending on how the dollar had done over the week. We pulled up to the border and the Custom’s officer asked us, “Just the four of you?”
It took me a second to realize that the kids also counted towards our limit. “Yes, yes indeed.”

A happy TLAP day to all of you scurvy dogs out there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fly like the Windstar

So, it’s become that time again. We need to buy a newer vehicle. We have two vehicles right now – a Ford Crown Victoria and a Mercury Grand Marquis. The Crown Vic has been out of service for a while now – some problem with the electrical system. The Grand Marquis is fading fast. Both are well over ten years old, we got them as hand-me-downs from our respective parents when our Taurus wagon passed on about five years ago.
My wife and I hate shopping for vehicles. I’m over 6 feet tall and she is just over 5 feet tall. Finding a vehicle that fits us both well can be a bit of a challenge. In looking around, my dad was trying to get us to pick up a Montana but, sitting in it, I couldn’t even see out of the window because the roof was too low.

We were impressed with the trunk space of the Taurus sedan but a 2000 Ford Windstar caught our eye. It was less than a decade old and the price was in our range. We test drove it and it handled well. We both fit in and it was decided that we would buy it.

Then the dance begins.

We finally settled on a price that was amenable to us and included some minor repairs – squeaky windows, stone chips, rust on the rocker panels. Then we had to talk to the guy to see if we wanted to add the extras. We definitely wanted undercoating and fabric protection and were intrigued by the ‘magic box’ that prevents rust. The science behind the rust inhibitor module is sound, whether it works in practice will be something about which we’ll have to let you know.
So, $1000 later, we’re getting the full package and they tell us to come and pick it last Friday.

We go to get it, and the rocker panels haven’t been done. The back windows still squeak. I test the fabric guard and the water does bead minimally, but mostly just soaks into the fabric – like someone did a halfhearted spray with a can of scotchgard. So they promise to get it done for this week, Monday or Tuesday. Both of which have now passed and we still don’t have the vehicle yet.

Birchwood Super Centre, the used car division of Birchwood Saturn, so far you haven’t impressed us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Wincon 2007 - post game

All in all, Wincon seemed to go okay this year. We didn’t get badges done, and ended up not running Fairy Meat, but everything else that had been scheduled ran. We did have people bring in extra, uninvited guests beyond the extra guests they had already brought. We had 18 people (including 3 extra guests I knew about) plus kids plus a further 3 tag-alongs that I didn’t know were coming. I had been trying to keep the numbers low due to the limited number of games scheduled. There was also a mix up with the pizza we ordered resulting in them getting the order wrong twice before we were able to clear it up.

The Canvas Eagles went over well. We had 6 people playing – no one had read the rules beforehand. They were a bit front end heavy but once we started it went pretty easily. The planes and the stands worked out very well. We’ll definitely be playing this one again and I’ll keep an eye out for planes while in the states. We didn’t start until a bit later so we ran a bit long. I took a few photos so we’ll see how they turn out.

We didn’t upsize RoboRally after all but had the regular version played.

The RaceDay was as brutal as it usually is. We ran the basic rules on the expanded map and one car won through attrition about a round before the lead car would have finished their fifth lap. The next time we’ll probably try the expanded rules.

We skipped the Fairy Meat during the supper period. I had gotten picked up three sets of the Disney Fairies and repainted two of them, one in alternate colors and one as Goths. I also picked up plastic grapes for the counters: green for live, red for meat, and yellow for twinkle. It looks quite nice – we’ll be playing this soon.

We finished the scheduled events with a Circus Imperium game. I had finally painted my decade-old “temporary” beasts that I had made out of hacked-up plastic goats. The cardboard chariots are still holding up okay considering the use they have gotten. I will need to rebase and paint the drivers at some point.

Unscheduled games, we also had Scrabble, Descent, and both Settlers of Catan and the two player Setters of Catan played, as well as some Apples to Apples that we played at the end of the night.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Wincon 2007 - pregame

I stayed up early this morning working away, getting ready for tomorrow. I didn’t have time to upsize the RoboRally after all – which is okay, as I don’t really have the space to keep it anyways.
I did finish making enough planes to use but didn’t get to paint them all. I still have a few fairies to paint as well. And after about 10 years, I am finally giving my temporary Circus Imperium beasties a coat of paint.

I’m not doing badges this year. I had 11 people actually let me know that they were coming and only 2 badge requests. I did have three of those people invite along another 6 extra people. So we may end up having more people than games. We’ll see how it ends up.


death of a Princess

Yesterday the news mentioned that it was the tenth anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death. I remember the day she died. I had been at home when the news came over the TV - I had called the wife at work to break the news. We were freshly married at the time – still not quite a year.
I had watched part of the wedding back when – big into the pomp and circumstance thing. It was a real fairy tale wedding for me. Too bad about the way it all ended up. I always thought she was a sweet bird.