Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This Saturday I was supposed to do a 19 mile run but around mile 15 on the way home I did something to my left foot. I don't know what happened but I had to stop running and ended up taking the train home. I skipped the 9 miles on Sunday and had Monday off, so the tempo run today will be my first test of the foot since injuring it.

It certainly feels better over the past few days but it is still tender. I'm hoping that this was just caused by my old shoes being worn out and can be fixed by just wearing my new shoes, but I honestly have no idea.

I've been plugging away at my assault squad for my Crimson Fists, but I've also started planning out what I'd like to be painting after the two armies I'm working on are complete. I've made a lot of improvements to my painting over the past year and a half just through sheer volume of work but I'd like to slow down a bit and try to refine my technique.

To that end, I'm going to spend some time painting one off miniatures and units as a way to practice and refine what I know and try out some new techniques. This may involved units from any of my three armies (Wood Elves, Crimson Fists, Khador) but will also include some character minis from a variety of places, some fantasy and 40k chaos units, and whatever else strikes my fancy. This first think I'm going to do is paint up this guy:

I was inspired to do him as a Storm Lord after seeing some really striking marines in this log over at Warseer by FearFrost. I'm excited to refine my red and get a chance to practice painting white and yellow. This will also be the first time I'll be painting over a white basecoat. After I had built his base I went ahead and painted it. I won't be painting the marine for a while though so I can keep my focus on finishing the Khador and Crimson Fists.

Yesterday was Laura's first day at her new job in the astronomy department here at BU. After work I took her out for a drink and from what she told me it sounds like a really great environment to be in. The people seem to be very friendly and the work will be challenging but not overly so. I'm really glad she has a job because being unemployed was really starting to wear her down.

A month or two ago I won a contest on librarium online for a tutorial that I wrote on how to paint faces. My prize was 25 bucks and yesterday I used it to buy some new records.

Distractions by The Loved Ones - This is a 6 song EP that has three new songs and three covers. I've heard one of the original songs and really enjoyed it and I'm a big fan of their previous two albums and one EP so I figured this would be a good purchase.

We Are Still Alive by Latterman - This is the last album by the band and while it isn't my favorite one - their sophomore album No Matter Where We Go..! is phenomenal - it is still a great record.

S/T by Chris Wollard and The Ship Thieves - I hadn't heard of Chris Wollard until yesterday when I listened to his album online. I had it on for most of the day at work and when I saw that it was available to buy I decided to go for it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yesterday I had one of the best runs since I kick started my running last December. My plan was to do a four mile tempo run at 6:56 per mile and all of that went off without a hitch. About half way into the 4th mile I realized that I was feeling fantastic, and after thinking through a conversation I'd had with Culla about working up to 5 mile tempo runs I decided to add a 5th mile. I was still feeling great after the 5th mile but decided to call it a day and not over do it.

I'm really pleased with how I felt and I'm taking it as an indicator that my training is going well. I was planning on doing another 5 mile tempo run in two weeks (next week is 6 miles of cruise intervals) and then, based on this performance, I may bump up the last three weeks to 6 or even 7 miles of tempo.

I'm also currently exploring how I can incorporate some race pace (7:32) miles into my long runs. I'm not sure how to do this since I'm usually pretty exhausted after maintaining the 8:30 pace but Culla thinks it is important and he probably knows a lot better than I do.

My Hold Steady record finally arrived in the mail yesterday. After I ate and showered from my run I put it on before bed and it was an incredible experience. Right from the opening guitar and keyboard chords of 'Stuck Between Stations' I was totally hooked on this record. I'll probably give it another listen tonight with Laura after dinner.

I had Monday off and Laura, Kev, and I went to Metro for a little climbing. I had two good climbs on a 10d and an 11a, and based on those two I decided to go for an 11c. That turned into a pretty big disaster and so did the 11d I tried after that, but it was fun to get on them and I'm happy with the past two climbing performances I've had. We're going to go back on Friday but I'll probably take it easy since I have my long run this weekend on Saturday.

I've finished off my Crimson Fist Captain and I'm pretty happy with how he turned out. I tried out some washing techniques on his cloak, a new method for doing power swords, and some free hand on one of his shoulder pads. All of it turned out well for a first attempt and I think I can do better with practice.

Crimson Fists Captain

right side showing the freehand 5

back showing the shading on the cloak

power sword

a top down view of the sword

I also finished off the sergeant for my assault squad. I did a little freehand on him as well and got to see how the pouches and grenade bits look.

shoulder pad pouches

freehand 5 and some more pouches and grenades

Thus far in 2009 I've painted 7 Warmachine models and 2 Crimson Fist models, which gives me a score of 9 thus far (one point for each infantry model). I've got another 9 infantry models and 2 tanks to complete for the Tale of Painters projects I'm doing and then I'll move on to the pile of single mini's on my shelf.

Finally, I read this OpEd piece this morning in the New York times about how the Muslim community in India is refusing to allow the nine bodies of the Pakistani terrorists involved in the Mumbai shootings to be burried in a Muslim cemetary in Inida.

Monday, February 09, 2009

At the beginning of January I had 75 dollars in my new model fund. I spent 51.13 on some models (Greylords, Koldun Lord, and Kodiak), 9.00 on three Games Workshop washes, and 24.69 on some paintbrushes and a pallet for a total of 84.82. That left my fund at -9.82 for January which is clearly over my limit.

I'm going to add another 25 bucks in (since I couldn't stick to budget I'm going to cut the monthly allocation in half) for February, which puts the fund at 15.18.

New Model Fund (February): $15.18

Since I have enough models to get both my Marines and Khador forces through the Tale of Painters I'm not sure what my next step will be. I also have a bunch of models sitting around my shelves that I need to paint so I may put a hold on purchasing any more models for a while.

I've seen a few articles recently about priming with gesso that have been of interst to me due to the difficulties of using spray primer in the Boston winter. Essentially it is a brush on primer that doesn't obscure details on models and can be used indoors (unlike spray cans). It might be a moot point for this winter but it is something to look in to.

The 17 miles this weekend didn't go as well as the 16 last weekend. Lisa and I ended up averaging about 8:55 per mile. I didn't feel sluggish or bad - in fact, I felt almost the same as last Sunday. This week is a down week so hopefully the break will be good for my legs before I ramp up into the 19 and 20 mile runs coming up.

On Friday Laura, Kevin, and I trekked out to Metro for an evening of climbing. I surprised myself and got up three 11b's. None of them were clean but most of the time I felt that the reasons I came off had a lot more to do with my strength and less to do with my skills. I am encouraged by that because it means that if I can get my strength back I should be a solid 11 climber. We're probably going to head back this coming Monday since we all have off from work.

I received my birthday present from Spoony the other day and it was The 59 Sound by the Gaslight Anthem on vinyl. My copy of Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids also arrived in the mail last week. Both records sound very good on my stereo and I had an excellent time playing them, dancing around, and playing air guitar.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I decided to major in computer science based on my experiences programming in high school. At the time I was writing pretty simple, low level programs designed to do small tasks to illustrate whatever we were learning about. When I got to college and started looking at the theory and math behind the code, or was faced with gigantic programs (or my peers) I quickly became uninterested. I still really enjoyed writing little code snippets but since that isn't actually what being a computer scientist is I wasn't very into it.

Recently though, I stumbled across this blog post by the guy who writes xkcd about how he learned Python by doing a series of math problems from Project Euler. These problems are exactly what I enjoyed about coding in the first place, and they're math problems. I enlisted the help of my friend Kevin and we've been working through the first few. Right now I'm attempting to calculate the sum of all prime numbers less than 2,000,000 - the fact that my program has been working for almost 25 minutes tells me that I've done something poorly.

These things have thus far been very entertaining and getting more difficult so with 230 or so problems for me to do (I've done nine so far) I imagine I'll have plenty to keep me amused.

Since I inherited my father's record player I've decided to start a record collection. Laura got me started on my birthday with Tom Waits' album Blood Money and I ordered Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids, Boys & Girls in America by The Hold Steady, and Reconstruction Site by The Weakerthans.

I've thus far only received the Weakerthans record but I've had a lot of fun playing it and Blood Money. Something about the physical aspect of playing the record makes listening to the music a lot more pleasureable. The Hold Steady is in the mail from England and The Get Up Kids isn't relased until the 17th. I've also heard from Spoony that he bought me a record for my birthday that is in the mail but I have no idea what it is.

Friday night I went to the Pour House with 10 ish friends to celebrate my birthday. I like the Pour House because the music is loud and enjoyable (i.e. cheesy 80's and 90's hits) and the beer is big and cheap. Even though we ended the night early I had a really good time and was happy to see everyone.

Sunday morning Lisa and I did a 16 mile run to the bottom of Heartbreak and back to my house. Neither one of us felt very good for the first 8 miles but once we turned around and started back up the hill we both began to feel a lot stronger. By the time we were at the top of Heartbreak I was feeling great and we ended up running the last four miles faster than the previous 12. This run gave me a lot of confidence that my training has thus far been going very well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I've spent most of the past week battling a pretty severe cold. I stayed home from work on Wednesday and Friday and didn't do my Wednesday and Thursday runs in an effort to get well as quickly as possible.

This is week 7 of my marathon training and it is the first week of phase two. This is where I start adding tempo runs and track work to my schedule in place of the Tuesday and Thursday shorter runs. I'm starting off with a 20 minute tempo run tomorrow at 6:51 pace and 5 x 1000m at 3:55 on Thursday. There is also a 16 mile run on Sunday that will hopefully go well.

I turned 25 today. Laura took me to see Slumdog Millionaire (awesome!) and then for Ethipoian at Addis Red Sea (delicious!). She gave me a lovely cowboy shirt and a Tom Waits record as well so my quarter century celebrations have thus far been very good. I'm going out to a bar for some drinks on Friday night with several people which will conclude the festivities.

I haven't been painting much of anything lately since I ran out of primed models and it's been too cold to spray outside. I did finish the Widowmakers last week.

I wasn't happy with their faces and I rushed some details as the end to get them done and off my painting table but overall I was happy with how they came out.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

John Smoltz is on the Red Sox! Super exciting.

I decided to go back to my Man-O-War DC and make the ice mauls a bit icier looking. I can't tell if I'm happy with the effect or not but I think the models look better overall.

I've also started working on my Widowmakers. I'm mostly done with the easy, flat parts but their faces are starting to worry me. I've had a lot of success lately painting faces but the most recent attempt didn't go very well and I'm nervous about the four of these.

Widowmakers WIP

My Khador reinforcements arrived from ebay the other day. The Greylord Ternion and Koldun Lord will find themselves painted in the next month or two but the Kodiak will probably sit on my shelf for a while longer.

I also recently discovered that all of my old, horribly painted Ultramarines can be easily given a new life as Crimson Fists. When I was painting them I would paint each piece individually and then glue them together. Since the glue was paint on paint it is really weak and I can separate the pieces really easily. Right now I have an assault squad broken up and I'm going to buy some Simple Green to try stripping the paint.

My new (old) stereo arrived in the mail yesterday.

Everything seems to be in good working order and I'm totally enamored over everything being analog instead of digital. Initially I thought the record player or the receiver weren't working but my dad helped me to figure out the problem. I ended up ordering a preamp to help boost the output from the record player - not a huge problem at all and even now I can use everything.

Laura has been knitting like a machine. She recently finished two toys, one for me and one for her brother's friends' little kids. The beige, fat, dog is mine and the blue one is for the kids. She's currently working on some owls and I hear they're adorable.

Lisa and I had a pretty good 13 mile run this past weekend. Our overall pace was a little slow (8:45 per mile) but that's because we had a horrible first half due to ice being on all of the sidewalks. The second half we both felt great and kept up a very good clip. The weather is supposed to take a huge dip in temperature over the next few days and I'm worried about how our 14 miler this weekend will go.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I've started working on my next Khador minis, a unit of Man-O-War Demolition Corps.

Last night I finished highlighting the red which gets the hardest part of the models done. I have to do their green shoulder pads, a few details, and then a lot of touch ups since I've been messy with these guys but I hope to have them finished by the weekend. I can't say enough how enjoyable Privateer Press models are to paint.

Once these three are done I'm going to move on to my unit of Widowmakers. That will give me 400ish points completed and take me through my first set of Warmachine purchases. I used $51.13 of my new model fund to purchase several more models to help round out my growing force.

Koldun Lord
image from Privateer Press

Greylord Ternion
image from Privateer Press

image from Privateer Press

The Koldun Lord is a 'jack marshall so he'll give me some versatility in how I want to control my 'jacks. The Greylords are a support unit that can make my units tougher or the enemy weaker and they work well with the Koldun Lord who is essentialy a 4th, more powerful Greylord. The Kodiak is there to smash faces and look cool. The Destroyer I have already is a solid ranged and melee 'jack but the Juggernaugt is pretty outclassed so I decided to upgrade him with the Kodiak.

When Spoony was in town we went to Danger Planet and played my first three games of 5th Edition 40k. I lost all three but had a lot of fun.

The first game was 400 points and his list was a tactical squad with a missile launcher, melta gun, power fist, and Razorback and a Sternguard squad in a drop pad. Mine was a tactical squad with plasma cannon, melta gun, power sword, and Rhino and a Sternguard squad. Our Sternguard exchanged fire for a while and I wiped his out but eventually got destroyed by his power fist squad.

The third game was also 400 points. His list was the same but I dropped my Sternguard for an assault squad with power fist. The game started really well for me when I destroyed his Sternguard right away taking only one or two casualties. The game quickly turned around though when his power fist beat my assault squad and then over ran them. He ended up winning with the power fist again.

The second game was 1000 points. He had a Dread in a drop pod, a 10 man tactical squad in a drop pod, a 5 man squad and a Commander in a Razorback, and some Terminators that deep struck. I had a 10 man melta squad in a Rhino, a 10 man plasma squad, 5 Terminators, a jump Captain, and an assault squad.

In the first turn his Dread dropped down and hosed my plasma squad and his Commander wiped out 7 assault marines with an orbital bombardment. The Dread would end up assaulting and swamping the tactical squad for most of the game before my Terminators came and finished it off. My Captain would rally and destroy his 10 man tactical squad alone before dying and my melta squad would kill of several terminators before also dying. In the end it came down to three of his terminators, two tactical marines, and his Commander against two of my terminators and three tactical marines with a plasma cannon and plasma gun. I held on for a bit but ultimately he won.

These three games taught me that I do enjoy playing 40k but that I really have no idea how to do it. I would like to be playing more and the best option would be for me to head over to DP on Thursday nights to try to get some games in. I haven't yet because I'm nervous about going into a situation like that where everyone knows each other already and knows the game a lot better than I do. I think I should probably suck it up and go though.

I'm going to post up some pictures of a Razorback by Gareth so I can reference them later when I finally start painting my Rhinos. I'm hoping that looking at them will make me less nervous about getting mine done.

I've been thinking about where I want to take my Crimson Fists after the first 1000 points are done. The list will look like this:

Jump Captain
10 man tactical with melta weapons and a Rhino
10 man tactical with plasma weapons and a Rhino
5 Terminators with assault cannon
7 man assault with power fist

Some things that I would like to add are a Vindicator, a 10 man Sternguard squad in a drop pod and 5 to 10 scouts. The second wave of additions (or perhaps the first wave depending on my mood) are a melta attack bike, melta / heavy flamer land speeder, a drop pod Dread, and a Landraider. That would all look something like this:

Jump Captain

10 man tactical with melta weapons and a Rhino
10 man tactical with plasma weapons and a Rhino
10 scouts with various weapons

5 Terminators with assault cannon
10 man Sternguard with combi-meltas, heavy flamer, and drop pod
Dread in a drop pod

10 man assault with power fist
Attack Bike
Land speeder

Land Raider

That's a lot of stuff to purchase and paint but I think it would give me a lot of flexability in list building and playing. I'm also not sure I want to commit to purchasing and painting all of this stuff if I won't get any use out of it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

This past year was a big year for my and my little men hobby so I'd like to take a moment and recap it.

When Spoony and I moved in last September we decided to start Warhammer Fantasy armies. I chose Wood Elves, joined a Tale of Painters event at Librarium Online and ended up with a 2000+ point painted army. Over the course of those 12 months (not all technically in 2008, but I'm going to count it) I painted 78 models and went from what I would consider a low level painter to someone at the higher end of the painting spectrum. I don't consider myself a fantastic painter by any means but I think within the scope of people who paint miniatures I think I do alright for myself.

over the course of the year I went from painting the fellow on the left to the one on the right

I was (and still am) incredibly proud of how hard I worked and the improvements I made as a painter and I continue to get better. Once the elves were done I stared a Crimson Fist army and a Khador army. The Crimson Fists are an exercise in improving my speed while maintaining my quality and the Khador is about my improving my quality. Right now I've finished 25 models for the Crimson Fists and 3 models for the Khador.

Stealing another idea from lone pilgrim I'd like to give myself a score based on my productivity last year. His scale is 1 point for infantry, 2 points for cavalry or bikes, 5 points for monsters, dreads, and 'jacks, and 10 points for vehicles. Over the course of 2008 (and some of 2007) I painted 92 infantry, 12 cavalry, and 2 'jacks for a total of 126 points. I think I can match or beat that in 2009.

A new month means a New Model Fund update. I didn't spend any money on my hobby last month so I lose half of that month's left over money (half of 50 is 25) and pick up another 50 for this month, bringing my new total up to $75.

This month I will be spending some money towards the hobby. I plan to purchase the rest of the models that I need for my Khador Army (Koldun Lord and Greylord Ternion) as well as a Kodiak. I'm also going to puy some paints because I am out of black primer and running low on some other important colors. I also need another Space Marine Assault Squad but I can put that off for another month.

I recently finished my squad of Terminators after struggling with them for nearly a month.

I am pretty happy with how they turned out and I was ecstatic to finally have them off of my painting table. For my Tale of Painters this month I have a squad of 3 Man-O-War Demo Corps and a 4 man squad of Widowmakers to paint for the Khador and no real idea what to do with the Crimson Fists.

My 1000 point list has left to paint a commander (150 points), two Rhinos (35 points each), and a 6 man assault squad with power fist (143 points). I have all but 2 of the assault marines build already but none of them are primed and I have almost no primer left. I do however, have a 5 man scout squad primed and ready for paint. I may hold out for the black spray to arrive (I can paint all of my Warmachine models while I wait) and see how much I want to do, or I may just prime the commander and paint him - time will tell.
It's been a while since I updated this thing. Between Christmas, New Years, vacation, and general craziness I wasn't able to find much time to keep this thing up to date over the past few weeks.

Christmas was a very good time for me. I was pretty unhappy with my job and the time in New Jersey was good for me. I enjoy my family more and more every time I see them and this was no exception. Laura came up for a night and despite her not feeling well I think everyone had a good time. My parents were also up in Boston this past weekend to drop Britta off at the airport (she's spending three weeks in Spain) so we got to hang out some more which I really enjoyed.

My father gave me his old turntable. I don't have any stereo equipment to power it so I bought this gorgeous, retro receiver and speakers from ebay:

The whole thing cost me under 40 bucks (13 for the system, 25 to ship, 38 total) and I should have it by the end of next week. Once I have everything working I am going to start collecting vinyl.

After Christmas I came back up to Boston to see my many friends who were visiting from across the country. Jen Han and her fiance Grant were in town for a few nights for wedding planning and we got dinner at the Alchemist and then drinks at the Behan. I haven't seen Jen since right when Laura and I started dating and I was really excited to catch up with her after so long. Mike D'Emic was at Harvard doing some research for his thesis and a bunch of us got to go to Our House for some Brubakers and good times that hearkened back to when we were all in college. He's doing well and will probably be around again for reserach. Spoony was also in town for the whole week and we had several chances to play little men, grab dinner, and hang out on New Year's.

My New Year's resolution for this year was to try to be more invested in my job. Recently I've been pretty unhappy with my work situation and that negative attitude made it hard for me to be there. I'd like to try to be more positive at work and really try to find ways to occupy myself with job related tasks instead of moping around the internet all day. Two days in and thus far I've been pretty successful. I'm not 100% about any of this but I've managed to keep myself happily busy and productive since returning to the office and I will say that I've been happier here as a result.

Speaking of jobs, Laura has had two interviews this far (one at Tufts and one at Suffolk) that have gone well. She hasn't heard from either one yet but I know she's expecting to get word from Suffolk in the next several days. I e-mailed a woman from MassBay Community College this afternoon about sitting down and talking about teaching math at the community college level. I still do want to teach and I think this might be a better alternative than high school.

Today marks the first run of my 4th week training for Boston. The first three weeks were a rollercoaster of snow storms, missed runs, and reshuffling. Despite all that I managed to get in every run except one 4 miler which I think I will just let slide. I'm glad to be back on schedule though and hope to be able to keep a more even keel for the rest of training. I am still working on nailing down how 8:30 pace feels but I've been doing a lot better than when I started.