After the printing frenzy from last month, I would have thought I would have been productive and have something to show on here. But nope, nada.
That's not to say I've been doing nothing, it's just for the things I've been doing I've nothing to show. Hence, it was time for a traditional "not dead" post.
My big hobby projects have large "I need to do stuff on the computer" components. For the 4Ground Mall, I've got to scrounge, resize, and print graphics. More importantly, I've got and idea for switchable store-front signs that involves not just the 3D printer, but making the model for the 3D printer. Even with my years and years of playing around with Poser and some intro training to 3D Max when I started working at Westar, I still don't know how to make a 3D/Printable model. Thanks to a recent sale, I found a starting from scratch tutorial series that I thought I would give a try - and so far I'm enjoying it. There are plenty of free tutorials out there, but I like the way Vladimir teaches. Halfway through the course and I'm not lost yet.
I'm taking the Old Man approach to these lessons, which is something I found worked well for me when I was trying to learn Unity programming. Although it would be fairly easy to binge and run through all the lessons, that only teaches me to parrot what I see and not understand why I'm doing things - and more importantly why NOT to do some things. With the Unity tutorials, I would watch a video - not follow along and write code, not skip the parts I thought I already knew - and then after watching I would replay the video and follow along writing code (or whatever I needed to do), trying to use the video more as a reference to see how well things soaked in. It worked well - in later videos the instructor might make a mistake and I would pick up on it before he corrected it better than half the time. And here's the important part of my approach - I only watch/attempt 1 lesson/day. At some point I read about trying to learn too much at once, and how the brain and subconscious needs time to sort and absorb what you take in. It sounded like New Age hullabaloo, but I've found since then that I retain better using this approach. It takes a little longer, but I'm in no real hurry.
Slow tutorial learning - that's been the crux of the past month. Add in cold weather is still keeping me from doing anything with the printer in the garage, and the big things I had lined up to do just have nothing to show. While I've still got a batch of minis primed, I've not thought about painting anything. Not sure if that's good or bad. Maybe I'll pull out the paint this weekend and see how my skills have dulled?
I've been buying movies for a long time. The first movie I bought, on VHS, was 1989's Batman. In 1997 I started getting DVDs
(Starship Trooopers was the disc I bought). Being elderly, I like having a physical copy of a movie. It's come in handy those
times when, living in the boonies, my internet decides to take a vacation. Over the past year, I've been purchasing fewer
physical movies. The prices don't drop as fast as they used to, and the prices are going up a little bit (about $3 from what the
average new release week prices were a few years ago). Stores are carrying fewer and fewer discs. I went into Target this past
week and found the DVD section was now 1 aisle. 2 years ago, it was 4 aisles.
I've been watching more streaming video, like everyone else. Amazon Prime and Netflix have become the "stations" that I watch. Movies that I'm traditionally on the fence about purchasing, or waiting for a good sale, often end up streaming on one of these. For the past few years I've had a "wait for a $10 sale" movie list. Amazon's streaming service has managed to put a lot of those movies on my wait list on sale for $10. At that point, why not spend $10 for the digital version and not worry about storing the physical disc?
I've got a lot of dedicated space for those discs. With the living room remodel, an impressively rough estimate of 9'x13' of wall space is now covered in Ikea shelves just to hold those discs. In my quirky way of keeping track of things, with the latest purchases of XMen and Spiderman I now have 2256 DVD titles. That number doesn't include all the extra discs of TV shows. Running a quick query, I've got 506 seasons of shows. Conservatively, if a season fits on 1 disc (and not 7, like season of Star Trek: TNG takes 7 discs) when add on 506 discs to 2256 titles. Granted, that 2256 includes 1 entry per TV show, but I think there are more multi-disc seasons than not so it's still a conservative average. 2756 discs. That definitely takes some room.
As such, I'm trying to embrace purchasing digital/streaming copies and ignore the voice in my head that says "what if the place hosing the movie goes under?" I almost exclusively buy from Amazon which means that shouldn't be a problem. But the voice with the question is still there.
Movie formats change. DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, 4K/UHD. I'm not sure if today's streaming format will be supported in 5 years. I still pop in that 20+ year old Starship Troopers disc on occasion, so it's something I actually worry about. I've gotten screwed twice with apps I enjoyed that were no longer supported due to my device being too old to support the upgrades (stupid 1st gen iPad) or whatever place was hosting the server, and a server was required because it was an app, shut down.
All of that is out of my control. I hardly ever rent a movie because I'm traditionally more apt to watch something I like more than once. It's a $10 purchase vs $3 rental that I gamble on and most likely lose money on in the long run. Maybe this is the time to convince myself to switch to renting more streaming movies instead of purchasing everything outright. Can I make a New Years resolution in November? That sounds like a good one.
I was cleaning up bookmarks while moving to a new everyday-laptop and came across a still-active link with 100+ questions that
would tell me what D&D character I am.
I Am A: Chaotic Evil Human Wizard (7th Level)
Chaotic Evil A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him. Chaotic evil is sometimes called demonic because demons are the epitome of chaotic evil. Chaotic evil is the best alignment you can be because combines self-interest and pure freedom. However, chaotic evil can be a dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.
Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus.
Lawful Good ----- XXXXX (5)
Neutral Good ---- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Chaotic Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Lawful Neutral -- XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
True Neutral ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (16)
Chaotic Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (19)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (22)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (27)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (30)
Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXX (3)
Neutral - XXXXXXXX (8)
Chaos --- XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Good & Evil:
Good ---- XX (2)
Neutral - XXXXXXXX (8)
Evil ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (19)
Human ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Dwarf ---- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Elf ------ XXXXXX (6)
Gnome ---- XXXXXXXX (8)
Halfling - XXXX (4)
Half-Elf - XXXXXXXX (8)
Half-Orc - XXXXXX (6)
Barbarian - XXXXXX (6)
Bard ------ XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Cleric ---- XXXX (4)
Druid ----- XXXXXXXXXXXXXX (14)
Fighter --- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Monk ------ XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Paladin --- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Ranger ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Rogue ----- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Sorcerer -- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Warlock --- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Wizard ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (16)
It's been close to 2 months since I had an update here. Although I normally post hobby related pictures and tidbits, the last 2 months have been more of life getting in the way.
My biggest "in the way" was some remodeling that I thought was going to happen closer to Christmas happened a few weeks ago. It all started with Prime Day. I had planned this year on Black Friday to get myself a "I turned 50 and paid off the house this year" present of a big honking TV. I contacted a guy about adding on a theater room for a big honking TV, and the estimate for that was about what I paid for the house. My fallback was to have the (non-functioning) gas insert fireplace ripped out, which would gain me some floor space and give a good spot to mount a TV. I had planned for an 85" TV, but it seems that wouldn't fit. Fine. 75".
From last year's Black Friday browsing, I had a range for what a 75"-ish TV should cost come this Black Friday. Prime Day gave me a gauge for this, and my estimates were about spot on. Then Costco jumped in, and offered the brand and size I wanted for $300 below the low price I was expecting. Never one to pass up a good deal, at worse I could buy it and just keep the TV in the garage until I got around to remodeling. So that became my plan. My only point of worry was when I saw Costco was using CEVA to ship the TV. CEVA was responsible for eventually getting me a bed 10 years ago. I waited a week past the "call us to schedule delivery" date that I had to hunt down, and when I did CEVA said they were handing off to a 3rd party for final delivery which they would deliver today and get tomorrow, then the 3rd party would call me to schedule a time. An hour later the 3rd party called me, evidently shipment in hand, to set up delivery the next morning. CEVA Logistics. Somehow in business 10 years later.
While doing all this, I contacted Contractor Craig about some extra stuff that I'd like to have done while he was ripping out the fireplace. Some fresh paint. Replace my broken back storm door. Little things a house needs after 10 years since the last concerted upkeep effort. Craig found some other things that needed some love - some cracks where the ceiling meets the wall from the foundation settling some. He read my mind a time or two: What about the living room ceiling fan, do you want to replace that? Yes, I do. I've been hoping that fan would die and it's why I've had it run constantly for 20 years.
The one big change I wanted to make with all of this was to cover the wall that the TV had always been against with shelves. The wall has a high (vaulted?) ceiling and I've always wanted to use the wasted space above the 5 ft or so that had cabinets with DVDs and a TV. I've been looking at Ikea shelves, the kind with cubes, and envisioned stacking them to cover as much wall as I could, which would give me more storage space. I always like more storage space. Over the course of a couple of weeks I put together an online Ikea order. It took 2 orders to get everything I wanted - the Ikea website isn't that great, but 2 orders with $180 shipping is a lot cheaper than a trip to Atlanta/Memphis and then figure out how to haul 1000 lbs of shelves back.
Over a week and a half, Craig ripped out the fireplace and patched in the wall and ceiling. Walls were painted. Floors patched/installed. Ceiling fans (I couldn't decide between 2 for the living room, so I opted to have 1 replace the bedroom fan) replaced. New TV mounted. Once he was finished I moved things back in to the living room and computer room and decided what to change. 4 days later my Ikea delivery showed up, which took up about 1/3 a car space in the garage. Then I spent a Saturday and put shelves together. Ikea shelves are heavy! The shelves got built, moved in, and stacked. I've got doors to add to the shelves, but there's 89 doors for me to install and I'm in no hurry. This is just my way of saying there'll be more updates about this later.
My last/latest hobby project has been taking a whole lot longer than I imagined, even without all of the life interruptions. At last report, I had 3 Walking Dead houses that I had added colored walls to thanks to Behr paint sample cards. Since then, I added some carpet to a house.
I'm not sure why/when/where I got the idea to try and use felt as carpet. I couldn't remember seeing it anywhere, and yet every rental house I grew up in had beige carpet. So I gave it a shot on 1 of the houses. I started by attempting to make a template of the floor plan with all the walls in place - having the felt run through doorways would be the most durable. The floorplan template took a couple of tries to get flush with the walls like I needed, but using it as the template to cut the felt worked perfectly. The only other tweak I made was to install the doors upside down, as the top hinge is a little longer than the bottom and that would allow for a little more clearance for the felt.
I got a little carried away adding textures (thank my mediocre 3D graphics background for that - fine, playing with Poser!). All the doors got actual door textures added. Window blinds in windows. Shutters on the outside of windows. I was sitting in front of the computer pondering "what does every room have" trying to figure little tweaks I could add. I looked at the light switch. Aha! And an electrical outlet. Aha! Then I leaned back and looked up and the air conditioning vent. Aha! I normally print out various wall decorations of framed whatnot to add onto walls. I would add these things too.
Once I got the felt and printed wall decor added to the 1st house, I didn't want to keep futzing with it all. I went old school and printed out some hardwood floor textures and added it to the other 2 houses. I left off there, unsure how far I'll go with putting stuff on the walls.
That last thing I have to do for 2 of these houses is make a roof. The roof that came with them is flattened on the top and makes them look like convenience stores. I'm going to try to make a traditional, steeped roof. I made a little template/pattern, but no idea how well it'll work out. It's next on the list, though.
And lots of other things happened. I had a batch of doctor visits: what looks to be the start of annual bloodwork, eye exam (new glasses, just because I'm tired of wearing what I've got after 4 years), colonoscopy (short version - I followed directions and wasn't cleaned out enough so I'm supposed to reschedule another one with a 2-day prep). I had an annoying sinus cold after the colonoscopy.
Right after this, Pawpaw was in the hospital for some upper GI bleeding which just didn't get any better, then he passed away after a week. He was 98 ½ While sad, it wasn't a surprise. Even though I was worried about my grandmother, they'd been married for 74 years, she held up better then I did. Which is what she does.
There's an old story from when I was little (6 or 7?) and Pawpaw stealing one of my Hot Wheels for his children's sermon. I'm leaving that just vague enough for anyone to ask me to tell them the story next time we're talking, because it's an in-person & talking story :)
I finally got a paint shaker for my paints. I was supposed to make one with a reciprocating saw, some clamps, and unsure safety measures. Instead I got a tattoo ink shaker/vibrator that does a spiffy job. Overpriced for $80 just to shake paint, but I've accumulated a lot of paint over the years. A lot of it on sale, to where I probably saved more than $80 on paint.
Life is also beating me up more. I bruise easier, evidently a side effect of my attempt to take my blood pressure medicine on a Regular Basis VS When I Think I Need It. I'm going to convert back to When I Think I Need It to see if a couple weird physical issues clear up. When putting the Ikea shelves together I manged to get a good knot on my shin (that hasn't happened in a couple of decades), not to mention some impressive bruising on my upper arm from just lifting a damn shelf. Granted, it was a 125 lbs of shelf. And awkward. And I may have been wrestling with it more than lifting.
Paint shaker in action:
Things are starting to settle back into normal now. There's still some wrapping of of the remodeling I have to do. I've picked up a side-website to work on (more about that later). Keith needs some 3D printing printed. And I have to finish those blasted houses....
Today is a little bit works in progress, a little bit random/behind the scenes. This is what happens when projects get a little carried away and look to take longer than intended.
The hobby project that's turning into a big hobby project has been a trio of MDF houses. There's a 4-house set for Walking Dead of which I picked up 3 during a sale at some point or another. As my theater project got delayed (more on that some other time) I thought I'd just whip out these 3 houses. My method of whipping takes a while.
I've long been hesitant to paint MDF as stories of it drinking up paint are legendary. I've not really experienced it myself, but I've really been limited what I paint. The kits as they come are fairly plain. I went my favored route for home and instead of trying to paint interior walls, I went by Home Depot and picked up paint sample cards for Behr paint. These specific cards are really good for what I need. They're sized to cover most walls. There's a variety of colors. Nobody in Home Depot seems to notice or mind when I grab 4 samples of 10 colors and merrily walk out without buying anything.
I've learned the method that works best for me is to glue the card to the wall and then cut and trim the excess. Before this, I dry-fit everything together (this will come in important on that theater project story for some other time) to make sure I get rooms with the same color. Once the glue dries, excess is trimmed so the walls will fit flush, or as flush as I can make them, with each other and the floor. I tend to get a little overboard with the color choices. My house has tan (Gourmet Mushroom) walls throughout, but here I pick a different color for every room. It's colorful, if nothing else.
Interior window openings have been tricky in the past, with lots of mistakes learned. Just a square opening, thank you square hole punch, doesn't look right. Windows have trim. I tried a couple of craft-stick, fine - square toothpick - frames with 45 ° corners, but my Chopper wasn't making consistent, flush cuts. Being lazy, I opted for and old fashioned square frame with longer top and bottom, and the sides are trimmed to fit between. With transparency film cut to fit the window and glued in before the paint card, it all makes for a decent window.
With the walls dry-fit into the base, I went ahead and glued all the walls together with some wood glue and let it all set for a day. Now it's ready for the next step. Ah, the next step. What is the next step? Notice the lack of doors? Part of not gluing walls to the base is so the doors can still be added - and this time I took extra care to make sure the holes for the door hing/axis are on the correct sides. I learn from my mistakes! Sometimes. The outer doors have openings for windows, so I'll likely go the transparency film + toothpick frame route for those. The interior doors are very plain. I'm currently planning on printing out some door textures and gluing them on. Door textures may not be the proper term. There's some nice pics of interior doors on the Home Depot website that I'll likely be cropping and printing. I use Home Depot a lot for this stuff. Maybe I can get a sponsorship?
There's some other little details I'm going to print out and see how they look, but I'll save further explanation until we see if it's worth it. The one part I will mention is how the floors of these 3 houses work horribly for house floors. While I'm tempted to just print out floors, which is Plan B, I'm going to see how 1mm felt works as a carpet replacement. That's crazy, you say. Home Depot doesn't have 1mm felt! That's true. Hobby Lobby has felt!
Seeing as it took the better part of 2 weeks to get walls covered in color and glued, I'm not really sure how long to expect this next phase to take.
Segueing from Home Depot, it's clearance time of year. While I always drop in for coupon usage on Tamiya Primer I'll also wander the aisles looking for anything with a red sticker that I might one day use. This year that included some Brier Patch flock and a couple of water effects. I've yet to do much with water effects but if I keep watching Luke Towan I'm going to try something or other before long. I picked up some random odds and ends while roaming the aisles, too. I was starting to run out of the Sand & Mud pigment that I use, so instead of using my coupon on primer I picked up pigment. I also picked up a couple of random packs of wood pieces, because sometimes I just need random wood pieces.
After watching way too many videos on the pros and cons of contrast paints I decided to pick some up. Most people talk about how these paints work well for painting lots of minis quickly, although the colors tend to come out flat and in pastels. The thing I noticed is that these paints seem to work well with skin tones and fabric. I paint a lot of skin tones and fabric! Contrast paints are described as a thick wash. I like to paint with a wash!
I made a list of the colors I would be most likely to use and headed out to The Deep to get what I could. They had 7 colors in stock. 5 of them were colors I wanted, so I picked them up. From there I went to the Warhammer Store, and discovered they were closed on Tuesdays. Luckily, Adam at work mentioned a Warhammer sale of some type at JCs House of Cards. I thought they were mainly a Magic The Gathering & card games of that ilk shop. Facebook listed Warhammer in their stock, so I took advantage of social media and asked if they carried/had in stock any contrast paint. They replied "yes, we have them all". That afternoon, I saw they did indeed have them all. And then I may have left with too many. But they had them all!
I'm going to practice with these on some Zombicide minis that will never see the light of day, just to get a feel for how they work.
With all the Walking Dead minis I've gotten over the past couple of years, I've been racking up Mantic Points/Proof of Purchase. The Mantic web store had some more things in stock, so I finally got my points together and placed an order. I needed 40 pts, which I managed to get together - I had to raid a couple of not-yet-opened boosters. I'm not sure I've ever mailed anything to England, but I visited my local USPS to ensure I had everything packed, addressed, and properly paid. Sometime in the next 3 weeks they should receive my points. Hopefully in the ensuing 3 weeks I'll get my point paid booty.
As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).
Tags have been added to posts back to 2005. There may be an occasional old blog that gets added to the tag list, but in reality what could be noteworthy from that far back?
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