Tuesday, December 30, 2008

my new CMG?

Christmas brought me another Monsterapocalypse starter. I have 2 starters and one of each type of booster, plus the book. This means that I should have enough pieces to play with the game enough to see if I actually like it.

The website has some offers for limited figures. I’m chasing down the buy-the-first-3-issues-of-the-comic for a Mega Sky Sentinel. This is a more achievable promo than the buy-24-boosters for a Mega Ares Mothership – especially at $14 a pop. That’s over $300 for a promo I’ll chase down on ebay instead. If I like the game I’ll probably spend that anyways but I just don’t have it to spare before the end of the month.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Boxes of joy under the tree

Some people (who celebrate Christmas) open their gifts on Christmas Eve and just leave the Santa gifts and stockings for Christmas morning. Some don’t open any gifts at all until Christmas morning. Some people open 1 gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas morning. (Some people don’t get any gifts at all to open – that must really suck.)

Shan normally got to open one gift – a new set of Christmas pajamas and had to wait for the rest until the morning. We used to open our gift exchange gift the night before and the rest in the morning. Sometimes, after getting back from midnight mass, since it was already Dec 25, we would open the rest and leave stockings for when we woke up.

With the kids, we usually do pjs the night before (which usually elicits the wails that all soft gifts deserve) and whatever their uncle gets them and leave the bulk until the morning.

Friday, December 19, 2008

save Heroclix

The new word from saveheroclix seems to be that Pinata and Catalyst are joining forces – with Catalyst looking for the entire WizKids Lines and Pinata handling just the HeroClix part of it.

More power to you both if you can pull this off. Especially if it doesn't change the heroclix line too dramatically again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

KB Toys back to bankruptcy

I found out today that KB Toys is going back into Chapter 11. It had done so in 2005 and they closed the two closest stores to us at that point – the ones in Grand Forks and Fargo, as well as the one at the Mall of America. Since then, the KB Toy Outlet in Albertville has been much more like a regular KB Toys and less like the super place it was when I bought a trunk full of model kits for $1 - $5 each (Star Wars, Star Trek, Armageddon, and Lost In Space kits. I had to open the boxes and repack kits together to fit them with our luggage).

I will miss them. They were one of the few true toy chains I had encountered. Toys R Us has made Babies R Us a big part of their store, and I still miss the Suncoasts and really miss the Media Play.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Heloclix new home?

It sounds like there are two solid bids for at least the Heroclix part of Wizkids – Catalyst Game Labs and Pinata Games. Catalyst is already doing the Classic BattleTech and a good fit to snap up the new Battletech. Pinata is a group of former Wizkids employees trying to keep Heroclix going.

We'll see who ends up with it, and what happens to the Hammer of Thor expansion that should be at the manufacturers right now.

Cold enough for you?

242 Kelvin. That’s our temperature now with the wind chill. On it’s own it only 245K. That’s -41C and -28C for those still using Celsius – for those of you using Fahrenheit, figure it out for yourselves. We usually get a few weeks of this kind of weather during winter – and late fall.

It will be nice when winter finally starts on Sunday the 21st.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

projects on hold

I've become quite used to taking digital pictures of my projects as I'm working on them. Since losing my camera in the states, I've been putting off a few projects until I can get a new one to record my progress.
Plus, I'm always a bit burned out after Wincon / Halloween / Valleycon.
That and the wife always gets twitchy when projects take up space in the living room.

So, if Santa doesn't take pity on me and bring me another one, I may have to see what we can find in Boxing day / week sales.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Re-election?

Okay, to get you up to speed, in Canada we run on a Westminister system of parliamentary government.
Westminister system
which allows the queen's rep - in our case the Governor General - certain powers:
Lascelles Principles
Prorogation

An example of this was the so called
King-Bing Affair

A coalition government is allowed in this type of system and has actually been the case several times prior.

This isn't some arcane concept brought out by bitter parties but an actual part of the rules by which our country is governed.

Okay, now that we're on the same page, this is how it stands as I see it (granted, again, I am not the big Poly-Sci guy):
The Blue party became the government with a minority - choosing not to form a group with another party for a majority. They put through a budget that the other colors didn't like and in voting it down would normally force a new election. To prevent a new election, the other colors are forming a group which, having the majority, are recommending that they be the government instead of having to go through a new election (a side note - had they done this right after the election, they would have been the ruling party instead).
The Governor General, being the GM of parliament, will have to decide this on Monday.

It should be an interesting weekend.
2008 dispute wiki

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Meat Head - directions

Start by adding your garnish to the tray. If you are using the reduced Jello, more power to you. If you are using the fruit roll-ups, start with a strip from ear to ear and from forehead to the back. Build up a coverage over the entire skull - this gives the first layer of meat a bit of a grip and, should they get to it, a bit more gore at the end.


This is the skull completely covered. If your roll-ups are fresh, this should be easy. You may moisten your fingers to help with the joining if needed (use a glass of water). I have also added the olives in the open tomatoes for the eyes. You can also use yolks from boiled eggs or boiled eggs themselves.


I usually start with a layer of ham on the inside as it has a nice fleshy color. It may not be kosher - but I don't think a head of meat should be. You may need to cut some of the slices into smaller pieces as needed for the nose and fold pieces for the lips.


Depending on the look you are going for, you can also other meats for additional layers. We usually use turkey or chicken, but you can also use roast beef or even corned beef for a nice burned look. Ham itself leaves a nice flayed look.


In this case we used roast beef for hair and eyebrows. As a final garnish, we sprinkled a bit of rice on the head to simulate maggots.


Wrap the head in saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Have bread and condiments as needed, as well as forks and plates.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

NaNoWriMo - No

So, with not getting the laptop, I didn’t get in to the NaNoWriMo this year.
I suppose I could have tried to do it longhand but that seemed like quite a bit of a hassle. I was hoping to get a good chunk started while on holidays but that ended up not happening.

Hopefully a new computer will be in the cards for the new year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meat Head - ingredients



From the Monster list of Halloween projects – there used to be a link (which has since faded) that explained how to make this. We have done it a few times now, mostly for G/L Halloween parties.
This is what you need to get together:

-You will need a skull (or equivalent) – I use an old plastic model skull I have from decades ago. I would have bought more but cannot find any anywhere. Be sure that this is well washed and okay to put food on – you can always cover in saran wrap to be sure.

-Sliced meat – thin slices work best. I’ve use both packaged as well as regular deli meats. Ham, chicken, turkey, and roast or corned beef all work fine – depending on the look you are going for. Depending on how thickly sliced the meat is and how thick you put it on, plus the size of your skull, you will discover how much you will need. Get extra just in case – you can always use what is left for lunches.

-Red fruit roll-ups (cherry or strawberry). The original instructions said to use red jello made with half the water to make it more rubbery. This has the added advantage of slowly liquefying and leaking red. We tried this the first year and found it very unwieldy to use. We had an epiphany the next year and used fruit roll-ups. They are much easier to handle and work with. It also gives a bit of tack to help hold the first layer of meat. (One thing – with jello or roll-ups, this will flavor the layer of meat directly touching it.)

-Something for the eyes. We have previously used the yolks from hard boiled eggs and cut a wafer-thin slice of a carrot for the iris. This year we tried olives pushed into tiny peppers to hold them in the eye sockets.

-A tray on which to create it. This makes it much easier to move to the fridge and bring out when needed.

-Leaf lettuce is a nice garnish for the bottom of the tray but it is optional.

-This year we also sprinkled the finished head with a small amount of rice (to simulate maggots). This again is optional, but a nice touch for those who have seen the meat-head a few times.

-This year we also added ice packs inside the skull, since it came apart.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Corporate tool

For the G/L Halloween party I was able to pull together my Captain Hammer costume. Shan was originally going to go as Dr Horrible but we were unable to find a good lab coat. We’ve since picked up a pattern that we should be able to modify. Instead she went as Penny.



G/L as Freddy and victim.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our polar bear died


Per the CBC news, Debby, the Polar bear at the Winnipeg Zoo was put down.
cbc link
She had been the oldest living polar bear. She had born in the Russian Arctic in 1966 and came to the zoo a year later. Per the article, 'at the age of 41, Debby entered the Guinness Book of World records as the oldest living polar bear. At 42 years of age, she was within the top three longevity record-holders for all eight species of bears, the zoo said.'

Due the enclosure no longer fitting the provincial standards, it may be a while before we get another one. Not that one could really replace her. These pictures were taken this October - she was still pretty active.



She's been at the zoo for over 40 years - longer than I've been alive. She's always been there. Since losing the wolves, which happened when I was quite young, this is going to be one of the biggest missed ones for me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

clean up

So Shan pushed a bit of a clean-up in preparation for the holidays. She usually does this a couple times a year and it’s always hard for me. Maybe it’s because of all the moving I did as a child, but I’m quite attached to my stuff. I have got several boxes in my room that have had their contents in them for well over a decade. Granted, a lot of these are games or figures that I simply don’t have room to play right now.

Being a gamer doesn’t help. I’ve had to purge many boxes of plastic bottles and Styrofoam bits that would be perfect for scenery, modeling, or costuming but that I won’t have room to use for a few years yet. I’ve got well over 6 boxes of figures, rules, and scenery for Warhammer and 40K alone. Plus with my proclivity to upsize, this just makes for more space needed.

I’m hoping the upgrades on the house will help. Depending on how much we have to downgrade our big plans, I may have to make some hard cuts sooner than later. Ideally, I’ll have enough space to do some serious projects and will be able to make use of many of the boxes. The rest, I should be able to sift into something much more usable.

All that said, after four trips to drop off stuff at Value Village, the basement does look very nice – for now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mission Statements

It always struck me as overly pretentious when companies come up with a big buzz-wordy mission statement.
“We are going to capitalize on the market paradigm with the green shift through out-of-the-box thinking and leveraged processes.”

Why don’t they just say “We want to make as much money as we can, for as long as we can – legally.”

Just saying is all

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wizkids no more?

According to their website, Topps, the parent owners of Wizkids, is closing Wizkids.
It sounds like they will be trying to find a home for Heroclix and one other property (Star Wars or Pirates?) and the others may just drop off.

http://www.wizkidsgames.com/wk_article.asp?cid=41914

We'll have to see what kind of an effect this has on my finishing sets. So far, I had been making good progress.

This does leave Horrorclix, MechWarrior, and the others in a bit of a lurch though - similar to Crimson Skies.

We'll have to see where things end up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Valleycon - postdate

So, back from holidays. I had last week off up to Tuesday of this week. I was able to finish the costumes for Halloween and they wore them at Valleycon. Another shared win for them both in the children's catagory.
I ended up wearing my Captain Hammer Saturday night but not going into the costume contest - it seems I left the boots back in the city and they already had a Horrible/Penny/Capt Hammer group (both guys had goatees though).

We got a picture from Tracy Scoggins - she seemed very nice to talk to - quite the sci-fi keener.

I did get a few games - finally got some Monsterpocalpse, the Serenity RPG, and Starship Troopers miniture rules.

Downside - it seems that I have lost my digital camera. I've had no luck tracking it down and can't even narrow down when it was lost. Major drat - I was really enjoying taking progress pics of the projects.
The one upside - I had transfered the pictures on the card to disc last week so only really lost the Halloween decoration pictures and the Valleycon pictures. Still annoying though.

(no picts to follow)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Boo-at-the-Zoo test run



So we went to Boo-at-the-Zoo on Saturday. It was as much fun as always – the kids had a good time. G had wanted to test out the green hair spray I had gotten at Dollarama in case I decided to do a Joker. So we sprayed her hair that afternoon. She also wanted to spray mine. The hair spray makes your hair a bit crunchy – and G decided that she didn’t like it after all so she washed it all out. She also changed her mind about being zombies and decided at the last minute to go as a witch.
D3 wore his Clone trooper outfit – what we had done. I had to trim the bottom of his helmet so that he could see out of it and fix the Velcro that held it together. I had made the waist sections looser than they needed to be and they kept slipping down. His chest panel was also a bit flat on the sides and needed to be connected to the back.
He ended up wearing it about 1/4 of the time and then peeled out of it. She stayed in her costume for over half of it – until they made her take it off to go in the funhouse.


All-in-all, it held up pretty well. I’m working on the minor fixes and added the leg pieces. Since my hair was already green, I decided to go as a simple Joker after all.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Zombie makeup test

My daughter is right into Halloween and costuming. I expect it will cause us much stress in a half decade or so, but right now it’s cute. This summer, when she still wanted to be a zombie, we did a makeup test.


I’ve accumulated quite a bit of makeup over the years at after-Halloween sales and she had seen it earlier when we had sifted the closet. She had been pushing to use the makeup for a while so I finally dug it out to check what we had. Plus, I had just finished reading the Cthulhu Live books and they gave a zombie makeup recipe that I wanted to test.

The first thing we did was comb her hair back and cover her face in a basic white color to give her that pale look.


We added black around the eyes and in the smile creases.


We blended this in with a sponge and then added some red gore.


We then wet down her hair as we didn't have gel.

She’s quite the ham.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

MBCC 2008

The Manitoba Comic Con was held last weekend at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. The space was ideal for it. It gave lots of room in the aisles between the dealers and artists. The gaming space was set up nicely.
The guest’s alley was a lot brighter than last year. The only thing that could have been easily improved was having the guest’s names behind them instead of just their pictures.

They were saying they had sold 2000 tickets by Saturday morning – not sure how many of that includes presale tickets for Sunday – but it didn’t feel crowded. I could easily believe a turnstile attendance of 4000 – 5000. Beyond that, I’d want to do the math again.

There wasn’t a lot that I felt a need to buy. We did get pictures and signatures from Justin Hartley (Green Arrow), Helen Slater (Supergirl / Laur-el), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Gerrit Graham (Beef, Q), and even Charlie Adler (Cow, Chicken, Starscream).
There was also some photo ops set up so the kids got their photos with ewoks, mogwai, and even an Ecto-1.






The kids dressed up on the Saturday as Princess Leia and Obi-Wan and D3 wore the Obi-Wan again on Sunday. They didn’t enter the costume contest as they had not made the costumes themselves, they would have had to (rightly) compete in the Journeyman category instead of the Young Fan.
The costumes were pretty good but the contest had two common problems. The costumers didn’t do much more than walk out on stage, turn around, and walk off. They should have at least paused and posed so that we could get photos as they didn’t gather after for pictures. Secondly, they didn’t have anything planned for the dead time between the costumes being presented and the judges’ verdict so we just sat around with nothing going on.

I did finally get to see Jamie’s Warhound and also ran into Chris McL again. I did get to see Monsterpocalypse which looks so pretty.



It’s tempting to get into but I’m not sure I can get involved in another collectable miniature game. I might get a starter and see how the rules play. It does look very upsize-able though. I also got to talk to Brian about upsizing some games for next year.

All-in-all, it was another good time. I hope they did well enough to be able to have another one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vote Early, vote often

Election day up here.
I don't care who you vote for but get out there and vote for someone.

Be part of the process.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

no sleep for the costumer



As of last night, I have her upper and lower arm pieces done as well as front torso and chest. For him, I started on his arm pieces and torso section. It’s not exactly where I would want to be at this time but I do have tomorrow off to work on them as well as a bit more tonight around Survivor.
Barring any major problems, I should be okay for this weekend.

We can see how well they hold up to being worn and what needs to be fixed afterwards.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Where we've been before

My kids went with my folks after breakfast yesterday so we were able to pop in to the flea markets to kill some time without being inundated with request to buy more stuff they don’t need. We haven’t been to them in a while.
The Mandalay Flea Market has shrunk significantly. There was nothing that caught our eye, except some orange leather that we passed on for now. I did find the new Tandy/Leather Ranch location though.
The Ellice flea market used to be mostly empty but has really filled up. There was a nice mix – I actually got a Polar Lights Enterprise for $5 – more about it below.
The Mulvey Market was quite full. It also goes through cycles. It was pretty fun – with a fair amount of relevant stuff. There was a liqueur set with the Blade Runner glasses – but I already have one.

The Enterprise is the reissue one. It is a snap model that someone partially tried to put together, and had tape holding on the nacelle. It also had some of the stickers applied – including one right over the tape. It also had the decal sheet.
It is missing a new nacelle but does have the variant pair. It should let me scale up the ships for Star Trek Ship Battle game. I had been half-heartedly meaning to get one for a few years now. Now to get the Klingon ship.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Poly-sci guys

I’m not a big political science person and yet a lot of the people I am in contact with are poly-sci guys. Christine, JP, Paul, and Shannon are all big poly sci people.

I’ve always been more interested in the personalities rather than the policies. That said, Shan flipped over to the leader’s debates after Survivor and I was hooked for the full two hours. I only saw the English one so I’m going by that. I hadn’t really seen anything from them before so my impressions are solely based on the debate – and my own bias of course.

The clear winners were Elizabeth May of the Green party and Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois. Both came across as solid and confident. Elizabeth had her facts down cold. Gilles was a pleasant surprise with a fairly good grasp of English – and a funny way of pronouncing development – and not at all wing-nutty as you would be led to expect from the Bloc.

Stephane Dion of the Liberal (Red) party came across very poorly. If you read his transcript, he was clear and focused but he had came across very weak and sounded like he was having a lot of trouble with English. I have trouble seeing him standing up to whoever wins the election down south.

Stephan Harper of the Conservative (Blue) party came across very indifferent. He has a squinty look that makes it seem like he isn’t listening to what you have to say and doesn’t care about your opinion. He also seemed to deny some easily checked facts.

Jack Layton of the NDP (Orange) came across as a bit of a bully. I’ve been told that his people had told him He also kept saying his name – like the comedians doing impressions of Bob Dole. A good drinking game would have been to take a shot ever time he said “Jack Layton”. In this format, either because of the camera angle or because he kept leaning forward, he also appeared very bald.




The Canadian edition?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Clones, why did it have to be clones?

I finally was able to measure the kids for some foam armor. I measured the arms and chest pieces. I even started one of the arms to see how the glue holds. So far, I’m not impressed with its strength but I’ll try more.

I’m using the basic patterns from http://www.tk409.com/tk409.html but the kids have decided that they want to be clone troopers not storm troopers so I’ll have to make some modifications on the fly.

The kids have black sweats from baseball and dark hoodies so the undersuits should be okay. I have about a dozen foamie sheets so we may need to get more.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Scarless

On Saturday, I popped into Mallabars looking for some rigid collodian – for making scars. It turns out that they no longer carry costumes except a small assortment at Halloween. They sold all of their rentals to Ragpickers.

I also popped into Party Stuff to check out their makeup supply and had no luck there either.

While in the neighborhood, I stopped into Cabela’s looking for a web belt. I haven’t been in the SIR location since they were bought out by Cabela’s and since Cabela’s bought the remaining Army Surplus stock. They didn’t have any web belts at all but they did have some green fletching for arrows – a different project.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

summer - over

On the weekend we finally finished storing the pool for the winter. We didn’t clean it as much as we should have, but it is rolled up and put away.
I also finished fixing the two other screens for the bathroom and kitchen windows.
Shan cleaned off the bench in the kitchen (only slight trauma there). So, most of my summer chores have been done.

My daughter has already started decorating the house for Halloween.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bye Bye old blue eyes

Paul Newman died on Sept 26 at the age of 83. I never met him but he was in my favorite movie – The Sting. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was a classic and always fun to watch but I usually try to watch the Sting whenever it’s on. I happened to catch it again Friday night before I had heard that he had died. It still holds up quite well.

I am too young to have actually caught it in the theatre but did see it on TV numerous times in my youth. When I used to stay up late, I would still catch it whenever I could. I still have to pick it up on DVD yet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

suit up!

Manitoba Comiccon, Boo-at-the-zoo, G/L Halloween party, school, trick-or-treating, and possibly Vallycon. Our costume slots are pretty full over the next month and a half with not a lot of time to fix, upgrade, and create. Depending on how many different changes the kids want, it’s going to be a busy time.


Personally, I’ve worn most of my basics to G/L parties – Ghostbuster, The Shadow, Adventurer (Indiana Jones-esque), and Jayne (Firefly). I need to fix the Proton Pack and make some stunt ones for the kids out of foamcore but I doubt I’ll get time.


I’m kicking around a few costume ideas of varying difficulty – we’ll see what I have time to finish.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Dark Knight

We finally saw The Dark Knight. Indeed, it is a shame that Heath died as his Joker was spot-on to the agent of chaos that he is to me. Two-Face as an agent of chance was also very nicely done – much better than Tommy Lee Jones’ version; he can be good or evil based on the coin flip – and no take backs.

I thought it was very well done. I didn’t like the first one as much, but this one does progress the series nicely. I like the idea that the movies are pretty tightly timed together. Someone could do what Batman does, but would have a correspondingly shortened time-span – maybe 5 to 10 years at most – before all the minor and major aches would catch up to him.

With Heath gone, someone could take up the Joker mantle, or they could bring Harvey back.
I’m thinking the next one should have Riddler or Hugo Strange with a side story with Catwoman, now that they freed up his love interest.

It’s definitely worth seeing if you haven’t already. It’s a close second for best movie of the year – Iron Man still holds up better for handling the origin story well inside the normal story arc.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Heath Care

People always complain about the healthcare system – about how long they have to wait to see a doctor – but I’ve never found that to be the case. Of course, I do understand the triage system – where certain types of injuries and illnesses come before others.

Case in point – a few weeks ago I finally listened to my wife and went in to the walk-in clinic to have my cough looked at. I had a dry cough for over a week followed by 2 weeks of a moist cough; with my ear starting to plug on the last week.
I went in on a Saturday morning. The waiting room was about half full, and I waited about 1 hour to see a doctor. For my symptoms, this seemed more than reasonable.

Turns out I had more than a cold – I actually had a touch of Bronchitis, or consumption as my wife calls it. A quick course of antibiotics, and I do mean quick – 6 pills, 2 to start and 1 a day for the next four days – and I was mostly better.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Listerical

There’s a big food scare on here right now with Listeria. It’s killed about 16 people so far. It turns out it’s basically food poisoning.

Maple Leaf has issued recalls on many items that they make for various companies. It hadn’t affected us until last week when two if our deli staples from Sobey’s were off the shelves – Burns salami and the garlic coil. The salami was what I had eaten for work the week prior – so we’ll see how I am in 3 months.

Mostly, I’m not worried as that kind of stuff doesn’t often affect me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wincon 2008 overview

I always start with a new game to test out. This year we ran the Rules With No Name. We played two games of it as it seemed to play pretty quick. I think the rules went okay but next time I would give each player a gang of 3 – 5 citizens to start instead of just one. With just one figure, you can go several turns without getting to move. It’s still worth painting up some figures, making some scenery, and trying again.

The upsized 5th edition Car Wars went fine. As usual, there was a bit of confusion with collisions but it played pretty well. We had some new players trying it for the first time as well as some players from older versions. The cars and walls looked good and the turning keys worked fine (a bit tight with the 3-D wals though). We’ll definitely play this again – probably with the normal Hot Wheels scale.

So, we were able to finish all of the tiles for an upsized RoboRally but weren’t able to finish the robots in time. I did make counters with the upsized bases but we ended up just playing it on the normal board. The race was close, with Becky beating an uber-optioned Sean by 2 moves.

Most people were fading after supper. Instead of playing the Circus Imperium with just 4 people, we ended up playing some Apples to Apples and going home a bit earlier.

There were some attendance issues, but all-in-all I still count it as a success. We’ll see how next year works though, we may go smaller until we finish the addition.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Books read - May through August

May:
The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla by Nikola Tesla
Brian Froud’s Goblins! By Ari Beck and Brian Froud
Build & Upgrade Your Own PC by Ian Sinclair
The Zeppelin Fighters by Arch Whitehouse
Computer Service and Repair: A Guide to Troubleshooting, Upgrading, and PC Support by Richard M. Roberts
Make It Right: Inside Home Renovation with Canada’s Most Trusted Contractor by Mike Holmes
Wargaming – an Introduction by Neil Thomas
Battles with Model Soldiers by Donald Featherstone
War Games through the Ages Vol.3 1792 – 1859 by Donald Featherstone

June:
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Complete First Serial (Books 1 – 5) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The Horus Heresy: The Collected Visions by Alan Merrett (volume 1 – 4)

July
Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
White Night by Jim Butcher
Dave’s Way: a New Approach to Old-fashioned Success by R David Thomas
Meatball Sundae: is your marketing out of sync? by Seth Godin
Brand Failures by Matt Haig
Retropeg: Archival photography of Winnipeg in the 70s by James Donahue
You Suck by Christopher Moore
Small Favors by Jim Butcher
The Complete Making of Indiana Jones by J.W. Rinzler

Aug
Me, myself, and Bob: a grow-up book about God, dreams, and talking vegetables by Phil Vischer
Heavy Metal: a cultural sociology by Deena Weinstein

finally finished The Mandalorian Armour by KW Jetter

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pre-game

The upsizing for the Car Wars has been ticking along fine.
- Have vehicles - check.
- Upsized Turning Key - check.
- Figures if needed - check.
- Familiar with rules - let's say check.
We still have to make some record sheets, the bunkers, and maybe another turning key. We're definately on track to being fine with this one.

Upsizing the Circus Imperium board has been delayed until I can devote more time to doing it properly.

Upsizing RoboRally however, is going a bit slower. I have finally cut the bases, but have still to upsize any of the robots yet. I finally started one last night.
I have also finally figured out how to upsize the board with minimal effort. I had been wondering if I would just have to tape it out, but this should work fine.
It could still be touch and go on this one. The robots probably won't be too detailed, but I should be able to bang out some playable versions tonight and tomorrow.

It'll probably be a long night tonight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Deathrace

So we saw Deathrace last night. I know I only have 4 days left to finish before Wincon 2008 but it was worth the diversion. Especially since one of the games I am upsizing is the Car Wars 5th Edition.

The movie is a remake of Deathrace 2000. The original was from 1975 and was pretty campy - but still good fun. They updated the origanal as a bit more gritty but it still kept the flavor of driving cars with weapons mounted on them. All in all, it was what we were looking for when we went to go see it. Sadly, Robert LaSardo has too small a role and dies as seen in the trailer.

Car Wars was made back in 1981 based on movies like Deathrace 2000. The new Deathrace has very much a Car Wars feel to it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

bondo spill

So, last night I noticed a colored liquid by the laundry. I quickly checked and was relieved to see that it wasn’t the sewer backing up. When I went to wipe it up, I noticed the honey-like texture. That’s when I realized what it was.

The can of fiberglass resin I had since I was working on the car about 6 years ago had leaked across the cupboard it was in and partially across the floor. It took almost an hour to clean up this sticky mess. Which wouldn’t have been too bad except I was checking the laundry before going to bed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

vital Idol

When we were at Sir Tim’s social, we had won the door prize – tickets to see Def Leppard. We’re not really big fans but the opening act was Styx so we thought it might be fun to go see them. The tour got delayed due to illness and the added a date at the end of the Canadian tour but Styx wasn’t able to make it. Instead they had Billy Idol step in as the opening act.

Shan’s a big punk fan so we were really looking forward to this. We had supper next door at the Tavern United – very nice wings. Shan didn’t like the chips but I thought they were fine.
They did a pat down at the doors to the MTS Centre. They didn’t check the small of my back and even though they bumped my camera in my jacket, they didn’t look at it. We felt soo safe. Maybe I just don’t look dangerous anymore.

For a 52 year old, Billy still is full of energy. His part of the concert was great. He’s still in pretty good shape. He played for just over an hour and covered all his big hits.
Def Leppard was good too. I recognized about half their songs and Shan actually recalled one. We cut out a bit after 10 and they played on to about 11.

All in all – a great night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Star Wars - The Clone Wars

I’ve heard about some critics not liking the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated film. Well too bad for all those Siskelians but we saw it last night and it can be summed up in my son’s comment, “I don’t want it to end.”

This, like all the films in the Star Wars franchise, is mainly aimed at kids. If you can’t access that part of you anymore, don’t blame it on the films for pointing it out. We thought it was great. The action was good – the clones died in great numbers. The padawan, the Hutts, the droids; none of them bothered us. It was nice to see some of the other ships represented – my son was able to pick a few out from the Starship Battle game.

The animation is a little stylized – not quite the Disney-esque look most people who haven’t been exposed to anime expect. But the costuming possibilities definitely ensue. We’re totally looking forward to the series.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wincon 2008 projects

So, I’ve set the games for Wincon 2008.
I’m probably being a bit ambitious at this point. I have about two solid weeks left and quite a fair amount of upsizing work left. We do have a few evenings being eaten up by life but I should be okay.
If I should run out of time, I can scale down some of the events, but I am looking to upsize Car Wars, RoboRally, and Rules With No Name. If, by some freak occurrence, everything goes well, I’ll see about upgrading the arena for Circus Imperium as well.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New computer – hellgate benchmark

Shan thinks it’s amusing that I’m basing the requirements of a new computer as to whether or not one can play Hellgate on it. Especially since we don’t even have the game yet (and even more so in light of their current troubles).

I had ordered a laptop through our internet provider – an HP CQ50-109CA but had to cancel my order when they changed the model to a HP CQ50-100CA. The difference?The 109 has 3 GB ram and a 250 GB hard drive while the 100 only has 2 GB ram and a 160 GB hard drive.
Considering we haven’t filled our current 20 GB hard drive, both would probably be fine, but I’m thinking of the long term value - espically since it's a three year contract through them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Horrorclix – sets only

With the success of the Heroclix line (and Mage Knight before it), Wizkids had spilled off their clix idea to MechWarrior, and Crimson Skies. They also came out with a horror themed line called Horrorclix.
I picked up the first two expansions, HorrorClix and The Lab but didn’t get and Freakshow yet. They came out with another expansion, Nightmare, but it sounds like they will not be making more expansions but that any new products they do come out with will just be the small licensed packs – like the Aliens VS Predator, Hellboy, or the Freddy VS Jason pack.

In some ways I’ll be sad to see the line end – but it will make it easier to catch up with the figures.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fly the Crimson Skies

I never did get into the old xbox game or even the old FASA board game. I do remember seeing the big board at Gencon with the planes flying through the city – it looked cool but I never had a chance to try it.

When Wizkids re-released the game as part of their clix lines, I became an envoy for that as well. I ran both the tournaments and tried to push the game as much as I could but it faded. I picked up all the sets when they came out and extras when Gord was clearing house of them. I keep trying to expose it to my friends and those that play do like it.
I’m still toying with upsizing it and have recently gotten back into the mythos.

The website with all the backstory had fallen off the web – but a mirror now seems to be back up:
http://firedrake.org/roger/csarchive/index.htm

It’s another alternate history that holds together well politically and game-wise. It seems like they really put quite a bit of thought into the ramifications and how they would affect people, politics, companies, and technology. It’s all fluff behind the actual game, but it’s nicely done.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gasthaus-gutenberger

Last month we were at the Holiday Inn Airport for Shan’s dad’s 70th birthday party. The kids really liked the pool and the huge ball pit/play structure.

For dinner on Saturday night, we went to a German restaurant, Gasthaus-Gutenberger. We has some reservations as the last authentic German restaurant we had been in was over a decade ago back in Milwaukee during GenCon when we were the Canadian National Director for the Highlander CCG and Thunder Castle was having a thank you dinner. The food then was heavy and fattening and Troy drank a boot of beer. So we were expecting expensive, heavy food.
This time we were quite pleasantly surprised. I had the Jaeger Schnitzel (a breaded pork cutlet with fresh mushrooms with gravy) and was very impressed. It came with a purple cabbage side dish that was fabulous.

The staff was very accommodating and handled the large table of 26 with aplomb. We were waiting on by a shorter, quiet efficient waiter and a Shannon-Elizabeth-looking waitress. They also had an accordionist softly playing to accompany diner.

We heartily recommend it to others. Check out the menu, so you have an idea of prices, but it was definitely worth it.
http://www.gasthaus-gutenberger.com/

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kill / Live / Twinkle

Instead of using glass beads or the counters supplied, I came up with these in the dollar store. We use green for live, red for kill, and yellow for twinkle. They are plastic grapes from the dollar store. They fit nicely in these small holders that we use as trays. These trays have the advantage that, once a fairy dies, the figure can be easily replaced with the tray of meat as it is the same size as the base.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fairies - painted for war!



The first thing that we did was repaint them. I was going to leave one set unpainted, paint one set in dark/goth coloring and one set in alternate colors. After painting 25mm figs, painting the larger figures was quite easy. I’m using the cheap Apple Barrel brand acrylic paints. A little paint can really make the same sculpts look vastly different.





With the upsized figs, you can use other figures to represent pixies and they are in scale to the ones shown in the rulebook. (smurfs)
You have to watch the sets. Disney has come out with a newer set with all the fairies flying with a cloud. You may prefer it but I like the older set better.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They're magically delicious

Fairy Meat - by Kenzer



It’s a fun game http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/650 . There are no dice – they use a deck of cards instead. The books do give you figures that you can assemble and use but you can also use 25mm figures.
The idea is that you can play anywhere as the 25mm figs are 1:1 scale. We’ve played it at Wincon with the fae fighting around a picnic table.



With the Disney Fairys line though, the possibilities of upscaling increase. They came out with PVC figurines that are about 3-4 inches tall and come in a set of eight figures.


We picked up a set for G and then picked up a few extra sets for use with Fairy Meat.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Broccoli, celery, . . .

VegiTales seems to have gone bankrupt. They are still pushing out movies though. The story seems a bit muddled but you can check these out:
http://www.philvischer.com/?p=38
http://www.philvischer.com/?p=72

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Idea_Productions

http://bigidea.com/index.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VeggieTales

For those who haven’t heard of VeggieTales, they are a cartoon series touting ‘Sunday morning values, Saturday morning fun’. One of our friends had turned us on to them and we had picked up a bunch of them. Based on the list above, we’re missing a bunch still.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hellboy 2

We saw Hellboy 2 at Polo Park. Even after telling the manager twice that the movie was out of focus, it still remained slightly out of focus. They did correct it a bit, but all the subtitles and location names still had a ghost image like an old TV slightly off the channel – this was very noticeable in the credits. The stale popcorn didn’t win us over either.

The movie itself was pretty good. I liked the first film better. This was more of the same – sort of the same problem MIB had with MIB 2. All were good fun, but since the sequels weren’t as fresh as the first films, they came off as slightly less.
Both were based on comic book series as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pop / soda - mix

Depending on where and when you grew up, carbonated beverages were referred to by different names. Some called them pop, some called them soda, some even called them soda pop.
If you knew serious drinkers, it was referred to as mix – as in “Have some pop but don’t drink all the mix” – meaning that one could drink the grape and orange but would get squinty-eyed looks if you had too much Coke or 7-up.

When we grew up, it was referred to as pop. We didn’t have it as often as some. I also remember drinking orange drink made from McDonald’s syrup. It came in big plastic jugs and you would mix it with water.

We also had Pic-a-Pop in all the various flavors. This was a local bottler who had drinks in a rainbow of various flavors in returnable bottles – in Ontario they had The Pop Shoppe. These came in both the small and larger bottles and orange plastic trays to carry them. I recall the little metal toppers they had to reseal to bottles with the rubber inserts and how we used to play with them as ‘the button’. They did knock-offs of the standards (Pop-up), and some odd flavors (moonshine) but I really liked their grape and root beer. Lime, cherry, black cherry, cream soda were other flavors out the 40 or so they had. They were nice in that you paid by the tray but could mix and match flavors to make up your tray.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Scissors beat Paper

One of the reasons I love the web:



(for those who cannot see, it is Winston Churchill giving the V for Victory symbol on one side and Adolph Hilter giving the Heil salute one the other).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

FOCUS!

More and more lately, I’ve been noticing how badly out-of-focus movies are at the movie theatres. I’m not sure why this is becoming more common. I understand that they don’t have projectionists watching each movie to ensure it’s in perfect focus. I know that the projectors are supposed to be computer controlled to match the settings from the studio.
Yet, time and time again the picture is slightly out of focus. The preceding ads are a bit fuzzy but we hope the picture itself will be clear – but it often isn’t. It’s not my eyes – hang around to the end of the film to try to read the credits – quite often we can’t. Telling the staff doesn’t seem to help either.

Theatres complain that people aren’t going to the movies anymore. With large screen TVs and even regular DVDs, the picture at home is often much better than it is at the theatre. I like going to see the big films on the big screen, but it’s becoming less and less worthwhile if I can see the picture more clearly at home. I like getting the large bag or tub of buttered popcorn, but if it’s stale it again pushes me to just wait for the movies at home where I can ensure the freshness of the snacks.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Time to go?

I’ve been playing around with the deathclock a bit - see http://www.deathclock.com/ . It’s been on the web for years - I’ve known about it for a while but like to check back every now and then. It came up the other day while I was explaining actuarial tables.

Even if you’re not interested in finding out statistically how long you have left, there is also a BMI or Body Mass Indicator function on the page to let you know your BMI. For my height of 6’2” and weight of 235, I have a BMI of 30 – which puts me in the obese range. If I drop a few pounds down to 225, I drop in to the prone-to-health-risks range with a BMI of 29. I stay in this range until I drop down to 190, at which point I get into the desirable range with a BMI of 24. Considering that I was 180 back when I was in university, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to drop that much.

On the bright side, the BMI seems to have a minimal effect on the actual life expectancy. On normal level, it gives me a death date of Monday, April 8, 2041. Even by dropping down to 200 lbs, it only gives me an extra year with a date of April 8 2042. This date doesn’t change further with any change in BMI.
It also gives you the option for optimistic, pessimistic, and sadistic. With sadistic I’m already on borrowed time, pessimistic has me going on Jan 20 2019 if I keep my BMI at 30 or on Feb 3 2026 with a BMI of 25.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Checklist

It was a busy weekend. I actually managed to get a few of the summer chores crossed off of my list.

- I changed the drain in the kitchen sink to fix the leak. I had fixed both of them before but one side started leaking because the two drains had different sized bottoms. This caused the connecting drain pipe to not make a proper seal. This was hard to take off – had to resort to the dremel to cut the locking ring.

- We got the pool inflated, filled, and the filter ready for a new season.

- I tried to fix the handle on the stove but was only able to remove 2 of the 5 screws on the inside of the door. The other two were completely stripped. After fiddling with trying to tighten the screws through the gap available, Shan just said to remove it. We need to update it anyways – it has the wired elements and the one large one is only half working.

- I fixed the hinge on the back gate, and changed the diagonal brace. Since finding out we had put the brace on the wrong way (thanks to watching the Handyman Challenge), it had been bothering me. Changing the brace means we now have to paint the gate again though so that still leaves another on the list.

- I also changed the screen in the side door. I had the screen, spline, and roller tool for a while but finally had the time to do it. This should help before the mosquitoes get too bad. I still have a few windows to fix before I can cross this off completely but the side door was ripped the worst.

Monday, June 23, 2008

passing - George Carlin

On June 22, at age 71, we lost the wit and musings of George Carlin. I remember listening to his Wonderful WINO Radio on a cassette of classic comedy when I was a child. Recently, I had read some of his books. He always had an interesting view on life. I will miss his observations and word analysis. We will have to pick up some of his albums to share with the kids – when they’re a bit older.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

missing Stan Winston

Another one of the f/x legends has died. Stan Winston passed away on June 15. He was responsible for many of the iconic films of my generation – The Thing, Aliens, the Terminator films, the Predator films, the Jurassic Park films, up to Iron Man. His bio also lists him as designing the Mr Roboto mask for Styx and making the Wookie costumes for the Star Wars Holiday special. His innovation and creativity will be deeply missed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Winston
http://www.stanwinston.com/

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The economics of Warhammer 40K

http://www.fightingtigersofveda.com/roarseconomics.html
Robert Van Pelt offers up a breakdown of the costs involved in producing a Land Raider model and why GW may not be gouging us as much as they seem to be. It is fairly informative for anyone who might not have a handle on how retail actually works.

It still doesn’t really help with being able to afford one. But it does explain why the price is so much higher than it once was. Especially for those of us who have been around long enough to remember the old Rhino 3-packs and Land Raider 2-packs.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

un-stuck on a horse?

I haven’t yet been to Michaels but did pop into Toad Hall Toys and picked up some 1/72 Airfix figures – cowboys and a wagon train. The figures are just shy of 25mm so would work with the Whitewash City buildings available from http://www.erichotz.com and would be easier to store than the 1/35 buildings would.

They are proving difficult to glue though. On models, I normally use liquid glue – either Testors or Plastruct, but neither seems to work on this. From the web, it seems that they are made from polyethylene. Other people seem to recommend using hot glue.

These are also supposed to be tricky to paint due to the paint flaking off the bendy plastic. Recommendations are to use a basecoat of gesso or acrylic paint. These don’t stick any better but rather form a seal around the figure that can then be painted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some Random Guy

In trying to see some of the brilliant Mac / PC ads, I came across this set of parodies with Marvel / DC. He’s using action figures but it’s quite well written. The only thing is the sound is a bit uneven – the Goblin’s voice is very loud compared to everyone else. Still, wicked funny.
http://ca.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=ItsJustSomeRandomGuy

Monday, June 2, 2008

magnets

Walmart has some of the small Magnetix sets (20 pieces) on clearance for $1.96. With a few kids swallowing the magnets they have reworked the connectors. I bought a bunch of the sets and have removed the magnets from 3 sets – giving me 72 of the mini NIB magnets (Neodymium Iron Boron).


This wasn’t an easy task. To remove these took 4 hours of work with a pair of pliers while watching TV.

However, now that they are out, I can use them for models. A number of people use them for attaching the various weapon variations to 40K tank models. These should prove to be helpful. Since the other magnets I can get are 8 for about $2-$3 they work out to about 25-38 cents each while these work out to about 8 cents each. Of course, I don’t have to remove those first.




Should I get around to making the Warhound or get into 40K tanks, these should prove invaluable for modding and make it easier to transport them.

Friday, May 30, 2008

too big?

The Fort Apache set was misleading. It has a sprue of accessories in 1/12 scale which doesn’t really work with the 1/35 scale figures. For $10, it’s not a bad set of Cavalry and Indians. I took another look at my old set I had picked up decades ago for an upsized Boothill. The figures in there are pretty good as well. I’ll try and see if Michaels has anything useful the next time I’m in there.



I have since found out about 1/72 scale cowboy figs from Airfix, BUM, and Imex that might be viable. I will need to pop by the model shops to see what I can find. At 1/72 instead of 1/35, the buildings would be a lot easier to make and store.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Holiday recap

Holidays were nice. I didn’t get a lot actually finished on my list but did move a few chores further along. It was nice and relaxing.

The sift on the room is coming along quite nicely. For those who don’t know, it still looks over-packed but it is more organized and I’ve actually cleared about 5 boxes worth of stuff. Not that I’ve gotten rid of 5 boxes of stuff – just condensed and reorganized with a bit actually being removed.

I had gotten the computer working relatively well again. At least up until Sunday, when it refused to achieve startup again. That’s too bad as it looked like we could delay an upgrade for a bit longer.

We popped by Keycon and visited the dealer’s room. We actually ran into most of the people that we would have attended to see anyways. I ran into Brian (not TSR Brian) - who is running the gaming at the ComicCon this fall. He asked me if I wanted to run some games. He wanted to see Circus Imperium and I also suggested I might be able to upsize RoboRally by then – so now I have to bump that up on my list of things to do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fort Apache?

We got another flyer with the paper today. In it, there is a cowboy fort playset with 190 pieces for $10. In sifting my room, I have found an old set I had picked up a couple of decades ago for cowboy miniature games which I still have to test for paintability. With the Rules With No Name and Gold Rush games I’m looking at, it caught my eye for more figures. I did a search online to try and find out what it might contain and came across this site: http://www.thortrains.net/armymen/armymen1.htm . It has a lot of the classic army men sets from over the years. Some look familiar – like some of the astronauts from my youth in the 70s. The cowboy and Indians as well as some of the army figures bring back memories. Most of my old ones got chewed on and tossed out over the years but I do have a few of them somewhere. I think I will pop down and take a look at the playset on Friday when I am off. I might be able to get something done with it while I’m off next week. For that price, if the figures are good, I might even get two for the wagons and extra bits.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Survivor - final

For those who were playing along with us on Survivor, the final points are as below:

Survivor Tribe Points
Pavrati - Dabu/Air/Mal 117 – Ultimate Survivor
Amanda - Dabu/Malakal 106 – 2nd place
Cirie - Dabu/Malakal 80 – voted out episode 14
Natalie - Dabu/Airai 80 – voted out episode 14
Erick - Dabu/Mal/Air 77 – voted out episode 13
Alexis - Dabu/Airai 73 – voted out episode 12
James - Dabu/Air/Mal 73 – removed episode 12 – medical reasons
Jason - Dabu/Airai 73 – voted out episode 11
Ozzy - Dabu/Malakal 62 – voted out episode 10
Eliza - Dabu/Air/Mal 58 – voted out episode 9
Kathy - Airai 46 – left episode 7
Ami - Malakal 44 – voted out episode 8
Jonathan - Airai/Malakal 36 – left episode 6 – medical reasons
Tracy - Malakal/Airai 36 – voted out episode 7
Chet - Malakal/Airai 30 – voted out episode 6
Joel - Airai 24 – voted out episode 5
Mikey - Airai 19 – voted out episode 4
Yau-Man - Malakal 17 – voted out episode 3
Mary - Airai 7 – voted out episode 2
Jonny Fairplay - Malakal - voted out 1st episode

The highest possible total would have been 460 for a perfect combination of Erick, Natalie, Cirie, Amanda, and Pavrati.
My team of Joel, Tracy, James, Pavrati, and Amanda was worth 356 so far. With the final votes, this pulled me up from eighth place to a third place finish. Second place was a close 361. Shan easily held on to first place with 391 points for her team of Erick, Jason, James, Ozzy, and Amanda.
We had hoped Amanda would win but she really doesn’t express herself well in the final Tribal Council.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Survivor totals - before final

For those playing along with us on Survivor, the current points going into the final are as below:


Pavrati Dabu/Air/Mal 87
Amanda Dabu/Malakal 80
Natalie Dabu/Airai 80
Erick Dabu/Mal/Air 77 – voted out episode 13
Cirie Dabu/Malakal 75
Alexis Dabu/Airai 73 – voted out episode 12
James Dabu/Air/Mal 73 – removed episode 12 – medical reasons
Jason Dabu/Airai 73 – voted out episode 11
Ozzy Dabu/Malakal 62 – voted out episode 10
Eliza Dabu/Air/Mal 58 – voted out episode 9
Kathy Airai 46 – left episode 7
Ami Malakal 44 – voted out episode 8
Jonathan Airai/Malakal 36 – left episode 6 – medical reasons
Tracy Malakal/Airai 36 – voted out episode 7
Chet Malakal/Airai 30 – voted out episode 6
Joel Airai 24 – voted out episode 5
Mikey Airai 19 – voted out episode 4
Yau-Man Malakal 17 – voted out episode 3
Mary Airai 7 – voted out episode 2
Jonny Fairplay Malakal voted out 1st episode

The highest possible total would be 399 for a perfect combination of Erick, Natalie, Cirie, Amanda, and Pavrati.


My team of Joel, Tracy, James, Pavrati, and Amanda is only worth 300 so far. In our group, I am in eighth place. Shan is in first place with 365 points for her team of Erick, Jason, James, Ozzy, and Amanda. Unless Amanda gets voted out of the top three and Natalie wins, Shan is unbeatable in our group.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Books read

I've got four books on the go right now, but this is mostly what I had for the first third of 2008 - less tradebacks:

From Jan:
finished Warships in Miniature by Michael Ainsworth
DC Comics – A Celebration of the World’s Finest Comic Book Heroes by Les Daniels
Tim Burton’s nightmare before Christmas: The film, the art, the vision by Frank Thompson
Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops by George Carlin
The Usborne Introduction to the Second World War
The Serpent & the Rainbow by Wade Davis
World War Z by Max Brooks

Feb
Me, Chi, and Bruce Lee: Adventures in Martial Arts by Brian Preston
The Seuss, the whole Seuss, and nothing but the Seuss: a visual biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Charles D Cohen
Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero’s Vision of Hell by Kim Pattenroth
Foul Play! The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics! by Grant Geissman
The zombie survival guide: Complete protection from the living dead by Max Brooks
The Last Wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Great Bear Rainforest by Ian McAllister
Cthulhu Live: Player’s Companion by Robert H McLaughlin
Starting an eBay Business For Canadians For Dummies by Marsha Collier and Bill Summers

Mar
Germany’s First Air Force 1914-1918 by Peter Kilduff
Cthulhu Live: Lost Souls by Philip Salmon
Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross by Chip Herd and Geoff Spear
Cthulhu Live: Shades of Gray by Robert H McLaughlin
Knights of the Air: Canadian Fighter Pilots in the First World War by Lieutenant-Colonel David L Bashow

Apr
Cthulhu Live: Second Edition by Robert H McLaughlin
Joan of Arc – The Teenager Who Saved Her Nation by Philip Wilkinson
52 Weekend Makeovers: Easy projects to Transform Your Home Inside and Out by Taunton Home
My Inventions by Nikola Tesla
PC Mods for computer evil genius
Cthulhu Live: Live Action Horror Game Set in the Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft by Robert H McLaughlin


Monday, May 5, 2008

Sifting / movies

I’m back. Didn’t get a lot done on my list last week. I did fix the coffee table – which had been wobbly. The dusting of snow on Sunday prevented yardwork – like turning the garden.
I did start a sift of the boxes in my room. I pulled out most of the boxes and have rearranged them a bit and moved some around and have cleared 4 boxes so far. It may not sound like much but it’s almost a whole stack and will make it easier to get in and continue working away at it.

On the weekend we did catch two comic book movies. We finally saw Ghost Rider on TV. It was a fairly close adaptation of the series. They did use Dan’s costume with Johnny Blaze though. He’s always been a tough on as Johnny didn’t really have any major villains (mostly using his hellfire against thugs) and Dan mostly fought demons using the penance stare. Visually though, it did look quite good. A flaming skull is always a good image.

The other one we saw was Iron Man. This has easily moved to the top of my list of best comic book movie adaptations. Luckily, there’s still a war on, so his origin didn’t need to be tweaked too much. There were a few forgivable changes (electromagnet to keep fragments vs a pacemaker, and making Stane a business partner) but it very much was very true to the books I remember. I do miss Jarvis as a British butler but I can understand him being changed to make him look like less of a Bruce Wayne copy.
All-in-all, a great adaptation. Plus the SHIELD (with upgraded acronym) and Ultimate Fury cameo were very cool. The other neat thing, his big energy device is basically a Tesla coil – I’m into my second Telsa book so it’s apparent.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Free comics!

I’m off next week so I probably won’t be posting much. My home system doesn’t seem to work well with blogger. For those who need to know though, Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 3. Try and pop by your local comic book store and see what they have.
http://freecomicbookday.com/

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Adeptus Titanicus

I finally picked up some styrene rods at Gooch’s last week. I picked up two sets – 1/8 (3.2mm) and 3/16 (4.8mm). This is so that I can put one inside the other to achieve a piston look.
I already have patterns from http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bwc-archive/ and I have styrene. I’ll start with a Warhound or two, and maybe work up to a Reaver.
The old titan rules can be found at the Games Workshop site http://www.specialist-games.com/veriants.asp so they are ripe for upscaling into 40K scale now that there are rules for them in Apocalypse battles.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Aliens – Aliens clix – Aliens swarm

I had finally gotten a copy of the Aliens board game a few years ago from ebay. I still need to get the expansion set. I’ve been looking to upsize it to either 25mm or even 1:35 size. The one holdback has been finding the right figures. The old Leading Edge figures are too hard to find on ebay and I don’t have nearly enough already.

I did pick up some 1:35 figures to mess with when we were doing the 1:32 Car Wars. One can also get garage models of the Marines online but they are a bit spendy in the numbers that I am looking at.

I had also picked up the Aliens VS Predator Horrorclix sets but hadn’t found a really good substitute for the marine in that scale. The Halo Marine figures come close as do the Horrorclix Corp Response but I would have to chase down a bunch of them to make up the full squad.
I finally got a bunch of the Aliens Swarm figures. They seem to be in army men scale or roughly 1:35 scale. I have to see how easy they are to paint – how well the paint sticks to the plastic. I’m only missing a Drake and a Hudson but do have a few extra marines.

Lately I’ve been looking at the McFarlane Aliens VS Predator figures with the thought of upscaling the Horrorclix sets to action figure scale. The figures are roughly 1:12 but they should fit on 4”x4” adequately instead of the 6”x6” or 9”x9” squares that the scale would dictate. That would make the board big, but not unwieldy. I was able to get a few packs for $5 but they are normally $10 each – each pack does give a Predator and an Alien though.

The key force driving this, is that the game gave rules for solo play. I would be able to get much more use out of this if I didn't have to wait for an opponent.

Monday, April 21, 2008

sigh - GAMA

It’s the GAMA trade show this week at Bally’s in Vegas. For those who don’t know, GAMA is the GAme Manufacturers Association. They hold an annual trade show which has been in Vegas for the last decade. In many ways, it’s like GenCon – without all the regular attendees. The Manufacturers are there showing off their upcoming product. You still get to meet a lot of the game designers and get to meet a lot of the distributors face-to-face.

They have a lot of seminars about the business and it’s a good way to network with the other retailers and hear how various lines are doing for them in other parts of the continent. It’s also a good place to bring a spouse to show them that it’s not just a hobby but that many people can actually make a living at selling or making games. Plus, it’s Vegas baby! It’s a great place to visit and look around – even if you don’t gamble.

We were looking at expanding the mail order / market game business I had at the time to a full fledged storefront. Even though it didn’t pan out, it was still a worthwhile trip. We had been to a couple of distributor trade shows up here in Canada and had been to GenCon for several times. GAMA was still a great time.

Plus they gave you samples of products. I remember having our luggage pulled aside on the trip back and being asked if I had little men in my suitcase. Being after midnight from our flight back, it took me a second or two before I could respond that “Yes. Yes there is.” Shan gave me an odd, tired look. What they were picking up on the x-ray machine was the VOR figures that FASA had given us.

This was before Wizkids had risen from the remains of FASA and only recently after Hasbro had picked up Wizards who had swallowed TSR. Wizkids has often given away their large figure at GAMA – The MechWarrior Dropship, Galactus, the Spectre, Fin Fang Foom.

As a retailer, it’s a great place to get that information to share with your regulars. To make those contacts with a veritable who’s that of gaming designers. To be the guy. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who’s in the business. I look forward to one day going again.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Foam Stormtroopers

In my searches for D3’s Boba Fett costume, I had come across this site:
http://www.tk409.com/tk409.html

On it, he has a tutorial of how he made Stormtrooper armor out of foamies for his daughter. I think that would be a fun project for the kids. I have finally found about 20 of the white foamies at Walmart and picked up a special foamie glue as well as No More Nails. I’ve already started hoarding the contact solution bottles (normally I just keep the caps – as 25mm braziers).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

new to do list - 2008

I have a week off at the end of this month and another the week of the May long weekend. There will be yardwork and housework but I am hopeful that I should be able to move along some projects.

Right now, I still have my alien egg that is partially buried in my room. I would like to be able to finish a few layers to get it ready to paint.

I have to do another good sift of my room – pulling out most of the boxes and getting rid of a bit more stuff.

I have the fiberglass shells that I pulled from the molds when we made the plaster bust of my head. I hope to be able to put them together to be able to build up masks and helmets.

I would like to transfer some of the files on disks and on the computer to CDs or DVDs while I still can access them.

I need to paint my son’s 40K figures from the Battle for Macragge set. I would also like to make him a nice figure case for them as well so they don’t get all banged up after being painted and so I don’t have to keep fixing the ankles on the Genestealers.

I have to finish the model kits for Canvas Eagles and come up with a good storage set for them. If this goes well, I would like to try to scratchbuild a few planes to use for Crimson Skies – either for an upsized Air action or for the Aces game as scenery. http://www.wizkidsgames.com/crimsonskies/documents/CSAcesRules.pdf

I have to paint up more figures for Fairy Meat as well as make some weapons. I also want to post up here about upsizing it - with pictures.

I want to see if I can paint the Aliens Swam figures I picked up to use for upsized Aliens board game. If that goes well, I want to see about upsizing the board itself.

I want to make a 3D board for Horrorclix - either the main graveyard board or maybe some of the AVP boards. The Freddy VS Jason boards look nice too.

Now that I finally picked up some red stretch fabric (for the mask), I can finally start work on my Human Spider costume.

I’m also thinking about starting some card or styrene titans in 40K scale.

We'll see how weather and time conspire to let me achieve these or not. Plus how the to do list from the wife affects my time. The last fortune cookie I got did say "Success will come to your plans." So we will see.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Project process

I’m prone to distraction. This is no surprise to those who know me. I often have several projects that I’m working on in varying stages. There are a lot in the information gathering stage and a few in the mulling over stage. I will also start collecting materials needed until I hit a critical mass of materials acquired, time crunch, and inertia. Once I start, I’ll work away until I either hit a snag – where I need something I don’t have or can’t get, or until I have to put things away to make room for either guests or holidays.

With access to the internet on my breaks at work, I am often coming across many interesting sites that grab my interest. Those sites often have links to other sites, and my time goes by quickly. These can quickly lead me to pile up new projects.

Case in point, I recently came across the western Rules With No Name and a site with scenery for western games. This quickly moved onto my information gathering and mulling stage. I already have some western figures but will check what I need once I read through the rules. I'll also see about making some buildings.
http://files.boardgamegeek.com/geekfile_view.php?fileid=4739
http://www.circagames.com/Resources/triggernometry.html

This dovetails nicely with the Gold Rush game I have been mulling over since I came across it before last Christmas.
http://www.erichotz.com/white_gold_main_1.html

Friday, April 11, 2008

Aging and time

Another neat thing about aging is how it distorts your perception of time.
Think about it, when you were 10, a year was 1/10 of your whole life or 10%.
Even at 15, a year would still be only 1/15 of your life or about 6.7%.
When you are thirty, that year of time has shrunk down to 1/30 of your life or just over 3.3%.
At forty, it drops to 1/40 of your life or 2.5%.
At sixty, an entire year is now only 1/60 or 1.7%.

This effect magnifies with shorter periods, like months, over the same lengths.

This is why time seems to move much faster as you get older; because the same lengths of time are getting increasingly smaller compared to your full experience of time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

hey mac?

My computer is starting to go. It was a Frankenputer cobbled together by our friend JP close to a decade ago (7 years ago at the least). It’s done well considering that we’ve been running it nearly constantly for the last 4 years. We’ve replaced the power supply twice, added a dvd burner, and I finally added a newer video card last year. Lately, it’s been freezing up and needing to be rebooted.

At the time we built it, we had suped it up as much as we could with a full gig of RAM and 20 gig of hard drive space. This may seem like a tiny hard drive now but we still haven’t filled it. We just don’t download music or movies. I do want to get in and start some home movies though.
My mom recently went through the upgrade with her computer and has a beautiful HP Pavilion Media Center. If we had the money, I would probably buy the same model. That said, since we missed our window of opportunity to get a computer that isn’t loaded with Vista, we’ll probably end up getting a mac. I finally spent a bit of time on the http://www.apple.com/dotmac/ site and am more convinced that this will probably be the way to go.

We’re not big gamers. We do like Diablo, Heroes of Might and Magic, and Monkey Island. We finally saw Hellgate and will probably get it. I’ll definitely take a good look at Dawn of War and another look at City of Heroes when we’ve upgraded. As long as we can co-run Windows to run the older games, we should be okay.

Looking at the site, we may just start with a macmini and see how that works out for us.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rust be gone?

So we had got the car back a week ago Saturday. It had taken a week longer than they had told us it would but the rust does indeed seem better. They said that they had to cut out a piece and replace it. We’ll see how well it holds up. So far, it’s been a week and it seems okay.

On the upside, the small car we had for the two weeks was much better and cheaper on gas.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Birthday plans

My birthday falls at the end of June. In some ways it was nice. It split the gifts nicely 6 months apart from Christmas. But because it was mostly after school ended for the summer and we were usually on holidays, I didn’t often have birthday parties near my actual birthday. Even today, I don’t usually make a big deal of my birthday.

This is one of the bigger years as I turn 40 this summer. Shan’s wants to know if I want to do anything special. I believe we had a bunch of friends together for my 30th and we went miniature golfing at the park. It was a good time. It was also before most of us had kids. The extra broodlings have an effect on what we can do for the party.

I’ve been trying to think of anything special to do for my 40th and haven’t been able to come up with anything. I thought about watching a movie but nothing really stands out – in a format with our setup. There’s nowhere special that I want to go or see. I thought about getting together and doing a big Apocalypse battle but we don’t have anywhere near enough troops. I toyed with the idea of a Cthulhu live LARP but it seems like too much trouble in too short a time.
Any of the big games that we might play (like Fortress America, Diplomacy, or Circus Imperium) we don’t really have a great set-up yet – which is also why we don’t play those more often. The bigger, upsized games (like Canvas Eagles, Pod Racing, or Assault on Hoth) take even more room which is why we usually play them at Wincon.

I've been mulling it over and I’m still looking at the possibility of upsizing RoboRally, Classic Battletech, Battletech: Solaris VII, Adeptus Titanicus, or even Car Wars and maybe playing in the backyard. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Aging

I’m old. I’ve always been able to admit it. When you are young, even in High School, old is anyone 25 or older. Most people keep adjusting that date back as they approach it. When they turn 20, they make old 30 or older. When they get to 30, old has become 40 or 50. When that age is reached, old gets slid back to 70 or 80.

Not I. Even as I passed it, the quarter-century mark clearly delineated the Young from the Old. Crossing the half-century mark moves one into the Very Old age group. Anyone able to survive against entropy and make it into the three-quarter century mark becomes Ancient or Venerable.

When I was young, the big dates were always close together. At 5, you start school. At 10, you are in the double digits. At 13, you become a teenager. At 16, you can get a drivers license. At 18, you can drink and vote. At 20, you are no longer a teenager. At 21, you are able to drink across all the States. At 25, you cross the first quarter-century mark and are no longer young. After that the only dates that are big are 30, 40, 50, and then 55/60/65 depending on when you retire. In between those dates, I have to do the math to figure out how old I am – let’s see current year minus year I was born equals age.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 1 pranks

As always, be wary of any emails or news on this day. Be especially wary of emails or posting from March 31 as well as revelers on the other side of the world hit April 1 before you do.

Watch out for the emails about the horrors of DHMO (or as you and I might call it - water).
http://www.dhmo.org/

Check out the http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/ and if you hit anything you're not quite sure of, there is always snopes. http://www.snopes.com/

Take care of yourselves and I'll post more goodness later.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bye bye buy the brick

For the last few years, Wizkids has been giving a mail-away incentive to those customers who buy their boosters at actual retail stores instead of over the internet. They pack a case into a ‘brick’ or 12 – 10 boosters and include a coupon. If you mail in the coupon with a receipt you can get a special figure mailed out to you.


I’ve missed a few of these while I wasn’t buying boosters but have gotten the last several (Mandarin, Phantom Stranger, Dark Beast). I’ve been chasing down the ones I missed (Dr Fate and Anthony Stark) but am still missing a few (Krypto and Venom).


I didn’t get a brick yet for the new Heroclix set that came out at the beginning of March – Crisis but Wizkids just posted that all 5000 figures have already been redeemed. So the Superman / Batman World’s Finest figure on a bigger base will need to go on my missing list – that I’ll have to try and chase down on ebay when they drop – as they are already going for over $40 a pop.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words, 30 days – November 2008

www.nanowrimo.org

I didn’t come across this until into November 2007 – too late to really join in that year. Since then, I have looked into it a bit and read his book, No Plot? No Problem! It does seem to speak to me as something worth trying.
Now to convince some other people to join in my madness. So far, Amalia has remained resistant to my prodding, but we still have almost half a year to go so we will see.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jeanne's cake

Like most Winnipegers, there is only one picture that comes to your mind when you hear the words ‘birthday cake’. You think of that rectangular log with the shaved chocolate curls on the sides and the cookie on the bottom. I’m talking about a Jeanne’s cake.

http://www.jeannesbakery.com/Home.page

I’ve always been partial to a marble but some prefer the banana. I’ve tried the round ones that you can get at other grocery stores but lately I often go direct to the source. Some people don’t like the cookie bottom or find the cakes dry but, for me, it’s the definition of a birthday cake. For a lot of the former Winnipegers who visit, it’s often one of the things they want.

Monday, March 24, 2008

HSX - Hollywood Stock Exchange

I’ve been playing for about three years now. It’s a site where you can ‘buy’ stocks in movies that are in production and bonds in the stars. The movies cash out at their value in box office millions and the stars adjust based on their last five movies. You start with 2 million and, at present, I’m up over 150 million. I’m in the top 2% and closing in on the top 1% and am in the top 10,000 players.

I go in mostly every day to dabble in the daily stocks. Since I learned how to short bonds, I’ve done much better. Most of my main goals have been passed – 100 million, top 2%, in top 10,000, 150 million. My next big goals are $200 million and top 1%. After that, it will be a while before I crack $500 million or top 5,000.

This gives me no illusions about my ability with real stocks. This is a select environment with strict rules on how it works. The real world doesn’t adjust nearly as cleanly. Besides, the real world won’t give you $50,000 every week to dabble with just for answering a simple survey about what movie you’re going to see.

If you want to join, you can go under here - I still have a few referals left.
http://movies.hsx.com/servlet/Register?referrer=dkwd

Thursday, March 20, 2008

LARP

We’re too young for any of the steam-tunnel live-action D&D craze. We did play a few of the Murder Mystery diner games – but they aren’t quite the same. By the next time live action role playing came around in a big way, Vampire the Masquerade was the one making headlines. I didn’t play that either but many who have seem to be the ones to think it’s the only game out there.

Many others systems have come out with LARP versions. I have the Star Wars, and Cthulhu Live ones. I even played a Highlander LARP back in the day at Gencon.

Some of the local players seem to think the only LARP that could be is Vampire. They were once putting together a LARP con. When I expressed interest and asked what games they would be playing, Cthulhu Live or Star Wars, they look askew at me and said that they would just be playing Vampire the Masquerade.
They didn’t appreciate my suggestion that they should rename their convention to be a VAMPIREcon instead of a LARPcon so as to not confuse people. I’m not even sure if they actually ran the convention or not – it had dropped off my radar after I found out it didn’t have anything that interested me.

Presently, I'm reading the Cthulhu Live books. They look great - I'm just not sure I have enough of a crowd with which to play though.