Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I wanted to save these images somewhere so I could find and use them later for reference. These are some Sternguard that were painted by spikyjames. Some of his conversions are fantastic and I'd like to incorporate some of his ideas into my squad.

I've been reading some interesting articles from the New York Times about the Citigroup crisis. I also read a story about some plausible but unsubstantiated terrorist threats on NYC public transportation and trains coming into and out if the city. Normally I don't put much stock in these things but since I'll be spending plenty of time on Amtrak and the NYC bus system tonight I'm a little spooked.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sometime towards the end of last week my grandmother had a stroke. Initially it didn't sound so bad but my mom told me later that it hit the part of her brain that controls her memories and that she didn't remember much of anything. She sort of knew her three oldest daughters (my mom is the oldest) but had some trouble with her youngest, Ana, and yesterday couldn't come up with my Dad's name. I think my mom is doing her best not to be upset but I know she is. We're not sure what's going to happen when Grandma gets out of the hospital but it doesn't sound like she is going to be able to live on her own anymore.

Laura's big birthday party was on Saturday night at the Pour House. A bunch of people cycled in and out over the course of the evening and everyone who stayed had a good time and drank a bunch.

The next morning Shannon and I were supposed to compete in breakfast olympics (my chocolate chip pancakes against her french toast) but she was too hung over to do anything but lie in bed so Drew and I ate some pancakes and got coffee. We then spend a good amount of time wrestling with a 13 pound frozen turkey in a giant bowl of hot water. It had been defrosting for three days but was still largely frozen and we were hosting a Thanksgiving dinner that afternoon / evening. After both of our moms told us that we could potentially kill everyone at our dinner party (and after getting soaked with warm turkey juice) we decided to get a fresh turkey from Stop and Shop and roll with that guy.

Turkey cooking proceeded without a hitch after that and was probably lubricated by Beth's new drink concoction, Breakfast Champagne. It is a half and half mixture of High Life and Orange Juice; it sounds gross but it's very refreshing. Over the course of the day we went through about 30 High Lifes making these things for about a dozen people.

My dad sent me a really nice article about one of my favorite soccer players, Frankie Hejduk. He scored one of Columbus's three goals in their 3-1 victory over the Red Bulls in yesterday's MLS final.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Laura's birthday is today. We're going to see Quantum of Solace tonight and last night we went to Zon's for a delicious birthday dinner. Saturday is her party thing at the Pour House. Thus far she's enjoyed the dinner and the present I gave her and I anticipate her having a good weekend as well.

The weather has taken a rather intense drop in temperature. This morning I rode to work in 27 degree weather and had to spend time at work thawing out. My run yesterday wasn't as fast as I had hoped because my legs couldn't warm up. I know it was colder last year when Lisa and I would run in December and January but I'm just not used to it yet.

Last night I finished the Destroyer for my Khador army. I got some really good feedback on Librarium Online regarding battle damage, highlighting, and shading that I feel really helped me improve this model over the Juggernaut.

After some experiments with the blue to white gradient as a background I've decided to stop using it. It was creating a lot of glare on the models and washing out their colors to the point that they all looked like flat, neon messes. The pictures above were taken without and background at all and I think they really show what the model looks like so I may just stick with that.

For reference, this is what he looks like with the gradient.

This isn't a terrible picture but if you compare it to the ones above you can clearly see how washed out the model is; the highlights disappear and the colors are a lot brighter than they are in reality.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the puppies you need to take a look.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Work has been really dragging this week even though I had Tuesday off. Sometimes I can get myself excited to do something but most of the time I find myself bored, listless, and uninterested.

Laura has been applying to a lot of publishing jobs recently and came across an interesting potential career move for me in the field of mathematics text book publishing. She sent me a few postings for jobs editing and working with math texts. It is something I had never considered before but now that she's planted the idea in my head I'm intrigued.

Recently a UFC fighter who I like, Chris Leben, failed a drug test and was suspended for 9 months. My reaction to this was to feel bad for him because I like him and I feel like he's overcome a lot in his life. I was out on a run the other day thinking about this and I realized that my reaction was the complete opposite to how I normally react to situations like this. I can't stand Sean Sherk, another UFC fighter who failed a drug test, and have almost not respect for him as an athlete anymore. I also distinctly remember when Justin Gatlin failed his drug tests and how betrayed I felt by him. Other althletes like Marion Jones, Floyd Landis, and Jan Ulrich have been tainted for me by their steroid useage and I know that I can never look at any of their achievements with any sort of faith that they were achieved in good faith.

I honestly don't know why Chris Leben bucks my trend of anger and resentment towards althletes who use steroids. I liked Justin Gatlin more than Chris Leben and I was more familiar with Gatlin and Marion Jones's accomplishements and careers. Most of the other people on my list denied using while Leben admitted it immediatley. I wouldn't even say that Leben is very high up on my list of favorite fighters, so why do I feel sympathy for him when I could never support any of those others again? I honestly have no idea.

I've decided to start reading more. It's been a while since I read any sort of book and I'd like to get back into the habit. I also want to be more informed so I've taken to browsing CNN and the New York Times at work when I have spare time.

I went climbing the other night before and after teaching and had a lot of fun. I still remember most of my technique and I'm just waiting for my arm and hand strength to return. Unfortunatly I tore a lot of skin off the pad on my right middle finger but I've been drying it out pretty aggressively so I hope it will be usable in a few days.

I finished off the last three marines for my first tactical squad.

all 10

vet with power sword

plasma twins

the three new guys

Monday, November 10, 2008

The other day Laura asked me some question about how much my little men hobby costs. A while ago I started tracking my expenditures in a speadsheet so I looked up how much I've spent this year on little men and I was surprised to see that I had spent almost 1000 dollars this year on models, paint, and related supplies. Even though this hobby is expensive I think that's a bit too much money for me to be spending right now on things like that. I know that a lot of those purchases were not essential (not that any of this is essential, but within the context of the hobby for me) and that I could probably cut down without too much difficulty.

With that in mind I've decided to start making prioritized lists of the models I want to purchase and limit my spending. My plan is to budget no more than 50 dollars a month to spend on all aspects of the hobby. Every month 50 dollars will be put into my New Model Fund (I stole this name and most of this idea from lone pilgrim). At the end of each month I will bank half of the unused 50 dollars in the fund and lose the rest. This sets a maximum expenditure of 600 dollars for the year and leaves the door open for me to spend less.

The second part of this plan is to maintain a list of models that I want to purchase and try to rank them in order of importance to me. I think this will help me stop compulsively buying cool looking models and just keeping them in boxes on my shelf.

I'm going to start this retroactively to the first of the month, so the standings are:

New Model Fund - $50

Model List -
Khador Greylord Ternion (needed to round out my 350 point list)
a few Space Marine bits (jump packs, running legs)
Space Marine Sternguard Squad (because they're awesome)
Khador Kodiak (needed to round out my 500 point list)
Khador Koldun Lord (needed to round out my 500 point list)
paints and brushes (Baal Red, Devlan Mud, a 00, 0, and large tank brush, Testors Dull Coat)

Obviously things like shipping costs will probably dictate that I buy things out of order here (i.e. if I buy the Greylords I'll probably get the rest of the Warmachine models to save money on shipping) but I think this is going to help keep me on track.

I ran a 5k yesterday and did pretty well. The course was pretty bad (there were no mile markers, there were a lot of sharp turns on slick, uneven pavement) but I managed to finish 8th out of 250ish and get an 18:19. Given that I've only run five times since the marathon I'm pretty happy with my performance. I think that with a little effort I can hit my goal of a sub 18 on Thanksgiving.

After the race Laura and I went to a diner with the rest of the team and had huge heart-attack breakfasts.

Last night was the Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady show. Overall the show was fantastic. DBT were engaging and their three guitar assault was loud and rocking. There were some issues with the vocals that made the singer hard to hear and their fans were kind of obnoxious but none of that detracted much from their performance.

I went to the show to see The Hold Steady and they didn't dissapoint. They came out and played most of their usual live show fare with a few new songs (new to their live show) that really made the show for me - Chill Out Tent, First Night, Two Handed Handshake, and Killer Parties. The lead singer from DBT came out to sing the male part of Chill Out Tent and did alright, but when their female bassist took on the female part she sounded more like a cat than the Dolly Parton she was doing earlier. It was a shame that the vocals really let that song down but it was a real treat to hear the band play it. Other than a few songs from the new album that they tried to force their setlist was tight and very entertaining.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I taught on Wednesday night and stayed after my class to climb during the open hours. I had my ass handed to me since I haven't climbed in so long; I loved it. I discovered that I really miss climbing so I'm going to try to get on the wall a few days a week. Matt told me I could use the wall right after work as long as I wore my staff shirt so that takes away my excuse that the open hours are too late and I don't want to commute.

Obama won on Tuesday night, that was awesome. Laura and I stayed up to watch McCain's concession speech (very gracious) and Obama's acceptance speech before going to bed very happy. After the past two Presidential elections I didn't have much faith in the election system and even though Obama has been consistently ahead in the polls for a while I was very nervous all day on Tuesday. Now that it's all over and he won so decisevley (and the Democrats picked up seats in the House and Senate) I have a much brighter view of the future of this country.

Laura and I saw the Decemberists play last night. I wasn't hugely excited for this show because I didn't know if this band could capture my interest live. I sure was wrong. The crowd was excited and the singer wrapped several hundred people around his finger for an hour and a half. They played a lot of songs that I wasn't familiar with but towards the end of their set they shook the balconey (literaly) with O Valencia! and then ended their encore with Sons and Daughters, my favorite song.

The best part of that song is the out-tro where the band sings the phrase "hear all the bombs fade away" together. Their vocals combined with the music produces a haunting and pleasent sound. Right before this section of the song the singer paused and explained that he had written the song a few years ago and this particular part was in reference to the current administration and how the only solution he could see to making the bombs fade away was to leave. Now though, after Tuesday he said the song's meaning had changed for him and it represented his hope that the bombs would fade away because a new President had been elected who would help lead the country out of the war. That was a really poignant moment for me, made even more so when he invited 30 people up on stage to sing it with him. I really couldn't have asked for a better ending to the show.

I found this thread by dave8oy on Warseer. Take a look at the lenses on the marine here - they're incredibly detailed and look phenomenal.

by dave8oy

I am hoping to use this weekend and my day off on Tuesday to paint the last three marines for my first Crimson Fist squad and I'm going to see if I can replicate this effect.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I voted this morning! After waiting for about 45 minutes I was given a scantron (not nearly as exciting as I wanted it to be) and a marker. I marked my Obama circle, had my name checked off a list, and fed my sheet into a machine. This was way more exciting than voting absentee (which I did four years ago) and I've been pretty amped about the whole thing since last night. Laura and I are planning to stay up to watch the election coverage because I doubt I could go to sleep without knowing the outcome.

My Crimson Fists did their civic duty and voted last night as well.

third man from the right is getting his vote on

Thankfully these guys are the last bolter marines I have planned for the foreeable future in this army. That's a good thing because I'm already getting tired of painting power armour. Once these two tactical squads are done I'll start painting some Terminators or Scouts for some diversity.

I've been running a little bit since the marathon but not too much. I am signed up for a 5k this weekend in Allston somewhere and that should be a good time.