Half of... something

06.09.2014

I'm on a string of half-started tasks. Most, well probably all, are things I want to do and picked myself. For some reason I can't stay focused on any one longer than getting some stuff organized, and that's mainly organized in my head and it doesn't go beyond that.

My mini painting has been stalled out for 2 weeks. I packed everything up and got it out of the way for cleaning day 2 weeks ago and haven't pulled any of it back out of the hobby closet. It will take all of 5 minutes to get everything out so when I get the urge to paint for 10 minutes it'll be there. In the time it took to type this I could have done it. The irony.

There are a couple of web-app projects I want to do/get back to. In conjunction with painting the figures for Dust (mentioned above) I had worked on an army builder for the game that had gotten just far enough that I saw I needed to restart. That's part of the joy of learning how a board game works while making tools to make the game easier to learn. I'm doing the same with a Star Wars X Wing game - I've actually played this game a couple of times and have a better grasp of the basic rules, but there's lots of depth to the game I've never gotten into. I've spent 2 days collating data from the rules, making a big ass spreadsheet that I can use to populate the needed data for a web-app that will make piecing your force together easier. There's lots of force builders for X- Wing out there, but none of them take it to the beginner player level that I need in explaining how all of the little parts of the game work.

On the actual work front, I need to get to the next little module I'm plugging in, but I haven't decided which of the 3 module-elects to focus on.

I picked up some board game rules for the express purpose of reading through for ideas to steal for my next homemade, print & play game. I got the game last Thursday. The rules are 5 pages. I've yet to read them.

I just need to get motivated.


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Not quite 5 years...

05.31.2014

On Halloween of 2009 I purchased my 2nd Explorer. Just after Memorial Day Weekend of 2014 I break the streak and do not purchase my 3rd Explorer.

I tend to replace cars after 5 years. Living in the boonies and travelling to work, I put close to 20K miles on a car per year, and 100K of wear seems to be the point where the larger maintenance costs start to kick in. Being me, I'd much rather put that money towards a newer car with fresh parts to put mileage on instead of replacing and repairing. You can thank the 10 years that I spent driving a Camaro that was 7 years old when I got it. Most of those 10 years felt like going through hoops to keep it running.

My Explorer has been creeping close to 90K miles. It's in need of it's 3rd set of tires (counting the tires that came with the car) and based on the way it's jerking when braking, it needs new brake pads (at the very least). Although I had been planning in the back of my head to trade it in after the new models come out in September, I started looking around to see what SUV I would want to replace my Explorer with. After 10 years of Explorer driving I was ready for something different. Add in that I can fit in more cars now that I'm 130+ pounds lighter with a foot less of waist, and my options are better than the familiar roominess of the Ford Explorer. Plus, I don't like the body style the Explorer changed to in 2011.

At first I was looking at luxury SUVs. BMW, Acura, Lexus, even a Range Rover or two. My problem was that there were 3 options I really wanted that were difficult to find together:

While surfing the web for reviews, options, and prices, something in me finally clicked. Why did I want a luxury SUV? I didn't really have a good answer, at least not good enough for myself. Why not look for something dependable that would last? I've never paid off a car outside of that first Camaro ($2700 over a 3 year loan!). For once get something I can better afford...

That led me to thinking about Gina's mother's Santa Fe. She bought that SUV when it first came out and has enjoyed it the whole time. She's had a couple of problems, but anything close to major was handled under the warranty. Gina and Jacob even went to the same dealership in Decatur and got their cars. I should look into the Santa Fe. So I did. It turns out the Santa Fe Sport has the 3 options I want. I wonder if I could comfortably fit in a Santa Fe? I went to Decatur to find out.

In Decatur, I found out I fit in a Santa Fe. I fit in a Santa Fe with mud guards and a sunroof. 4 hours later I was on my way to Gina's house to show her that I no longer had a red Explorer with mud guards, a sunroof, and a trailer hitch receiver but instead had a red Santa Fe with mud guards, a sunroof, and an order for the dealership to install a trailer hitch receiver early next week.

I was able to get a good deal on my trade in for the Explorer (evidently I keep it clean, and the salesman thinks it'll sale within a week after they put on fresh tires and give it a break job). My car payment went down $20/month and I now have a 5-year loan instead of a 6-year loan. The Santa Fe is my first 4- cylinder car, as well as my first front-wheel drive. Outside of my required list of 3 things, the first things I noticed that I like are 2 safety features: the backup camera and the blind spot warning lights on the side mirrors.


While just a stock photo, this is what the Explorer replacement looks like.


Not a stock photo, and this is exactly what the Explorer replacement looks like on Gina's rainy driveway.


I tried to explain it's not a photobomb if you're in the picture to begin with...
 


With luck I'll keep this car for 5 years and pay it off. I just happen to have another 5 years left on my mortgage. It would be amazing to hit 50 and not have a car and house payment to make. I could pretend I could retire.

I like the thought of that!


conveyances

May Hobby Update

05.21.2014

To make up for the lack of pictures lately, I now present too many pictures that look alike.

My hobby focus of late has been painting the SSU faction for the Dust Warfare game (that game I've been getting ready to play for the past 2 years, but still have yet to play). I had started an assembly line process of picking 1 color and going through 20-30 primed minis and painting that color where applicable. I found that's not a good way for me to paint. I tend to get sloppy after 5 minis, plus there's no real feeling of accomplishment until everything is done. After getting the basic green all the uniforms use on all the figures, I've gone back and started to grab 5 at a time and finish them up. It takes about a day to complete 5 minis counting the time to go back and touch up spots I always miss. Some days I'm not as productive - I'm supposed to be doing this for fun, so I try not to force myself to paint when I'm not in the mood. I can quickly tell how much of a difference this makes in my painting quality.

These squads have the minis as detailed as I'm going to get, but I still have to flock the bases (hence the stark whiteness of the primer, blotched with how I slap on the color for boots).


Since the SSU are Russian/Chinese, I've given them red armor. Hopefully it's not too much of a Christmas theme with the green uniform.


Hard to tell a difference between squads... The guy on the right has a molotov cocktail, which is the first time I've ever painted fire.


This is actually a 3rd squad.


Squad 4 is still in progress. The one on the left is complete, but the rest have only had their 1st pass of paint. It's easier to see here how much of a difference a dark wash and drybrushing can make.


I never added flags to my first attempt at flag poles, so I went back and added flags. Since I already had flags for the Dust factions, I decided that I'll eventually add some custom factions - GI Joe, Cobra, and SHIELD.


I also finished up the road sections for the battle tiles I've been working on. Maybe I'll set up a little photo shoot with them later. Just a bunch of grass flocked styrofoam/cork is kind of boring.

Along with painting the SSU squads (still have 3 more squads and 3 hero figures to finish) I've been making hills out of cork to add some depth to the battlefield. That's turning into a slower process than I thought as there's more touch-up work than I originally planned.


gaming miniatures

Sniffing Asphalt

05.12.2014

This afternoon after lunch I ran by Publix for my early-week restock of bananas and milk. Thanks to diet and exercise I have an almost daily post-walk banana and run though 2 gallons of milk for protein shakes in less than 4 days. When I pulled into Publix I saw, and smelled, that they were in the process of re-paving the parking lot.

It's weird, but the smell of fresh asphalt brought back memories of my old trailer park days. Back when Mom & Dad managed the trailer park outside of Florence, I think they used to repave the parking lot in front of the clubhouse annually. Thinking back, it sure seems that way. My scent memory didn't just lead me to the trailer park in general. For some reason, I vividly imagined living across the parking lot from the clubhouse, then walking in and getting a Susan B Anthony dollar in exchange for my dollar bill. The Playboy pinball machine (which was just a cool pinball machine, I never paid much attention to the lingerie clad women decorating the cabinet) would award 5 games instead of 4 if you used a Susan B Anthony, so the clubhouse cash register was well stocked.

I don't know the last time I thought about the trailer park, old pinball machines, or even Susan B Anthony dollars. A whiff of fresh asphalt is all it took, though.


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The Pictureless Update

05.08.2014

After wrapping up last month I've been busy, but I have no pictures to show for it. Disappointing in this visual age, I know.

I spent last weekend fighting a combination of bad modem, bad router, and virus/trojan infected computer. I don't normally run any anti-virus software as I tend to not do things that make me susceptible to viruses. I know, that's cocky for someone who develops websites for a living, and it bites me in the ass about twice per decade.

My browser has been acting a little flaky, most of which I chalk up to not re- installing a fresh copy of the operating system in over 3 years. Over the weekend things got worse. At first I blamed it on the cable modem as it kept resetting, and I haven't had any problems with Charter in a year so I was about due. Once the modem stayed on, I thought I was having problems with my router as the Mac I'm trying to convince myself to use more often was also having a problem getting online. Eventually, everything was working except the browser on my main PC, so I downloaded a couple of anti-virus programs and discovered 1 bad virus and 144 trojans. Since cleaning those up, everything's been working fine.

I've also made the switch from Firefox/Mozilla to Chrome as my browser of choice. Along with a couple of plug-ins to block ads and other annoyances, I've been greatly enjoying the change. The only thing I have to get used to is the Home button is on the left side instead of the right. After automatically going to the same spot for years to click that button, this is going to take a little getting used to.

Away from the computer, I've started the next round of making map battle boards for miniature wargaming. After 16 sections of grassland I knew I would need some type of road next. I played around with a couple of methods for making roads and found one I liked. Making these is a multi-day process as glue and paint has to dry between steps. Next blog will have some pictures and more detail than most people will care about, but who's writing this thing? Me, that's who! Whom? Whom!

With my vast video library, and thanks in part to a slow new release schedule for the past 2 months, I've been going back and watching some older movies. Mainly movies that I've only watched once but have had a hankering to watch again. Some have aged pretty well (although they're not that old). Some have not.

Lots of movie watching going on. I've queued up some special movies to watch.

Wow, the queued up list is shorter than I anticipated, although it is 6 movies within 2 bullets. I've still got a stack of other movies to watch (some of them unseen by me still) for those times I'm in the mood for a particular type of movie - drama, comedy, etc. Non-action sci-fi is a hard category to fill (something like Sunshine or Moon, a movie more cerebral than shooting) so I wander off in that direction sometimes.

Whew, after typing all of that I feel I have lots to do now.


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