Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Our Friend the Sable

My mother-in-law forgot my birthday this year. (Side note: I didn't notice. I am not the sort of person who keeps an inventory of who has/hasn't wished them well on a given day.) She asked me what I wanted for my birthday while on I was on the phone with her, which caught me off guard. I blurted out "Winsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable brushes" more for comedic value (due to the long name) than actual desire to have her find and buy them. I was quite please to receive a gift bag from her with said Winsor and Newton brush (size 0) as well as a red sable 3/0 brush and an 18/0 spotter.

I have to say, I'm thrilled with sable as a brush fiber. The hair is think thick around the middle and comes to a very find fine point, which allows the brush to hold paint well enough to paint a very thin line for an extraordinarily long time. I am going to get spoiled rotten by this brush. I haven't painted with the red sable 3/0 brush enough to really critique it, but if it has the same characteristics as the kolinsky sable then it will, for lack of a better term, rock.

Brian, Mark and I played a few games of Warhammer yesterday. It's funny that the best painter of the group (Mark) has the fewest number of painted models to field.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Little Passengers Must Die

Ugh. Zithromax and I are in the process of ridding me of all the little passengers that are causing me so much misery. They started in the sinuses and seen to have landed in the lungs sometime yesterday. This is day two of five day regimen, so I should be feeling better soon.

The little diorama I painted finally settled in at 6.5, a new high for me and much more satisfying than the 6.1 it had somehow accumulated. Sometime in the last couple days I received another vote that tipped it over to 6.6, which is more pleasing to me than it probably should be.

Bill's dwarfs continue to receive paint. He paid me for the first half, roughly, and I plan on delivering that part by 6/5. I played a game Friday against Brian's Dark Elves using Bill's Dwarfs and was handed a solid defeat, but they looked great. Hey, when you look this good you don't have to kill anything. Now if I could only get Paul to paint.....

Friday, May 19, 2006

...and 7 slaps me in the face.

Ouch. Now with 48 votes, it is down to 6.1. At 28 votes I was at 7.0. Using the power of math-e-matics, I figure that the last 20 voters have given me an average score of 4.84. Hmm. My only hope is that someone has been spamming low votes, and that CMON's automated process will eliminate the repeated low votes that came from the same IP address.

Flirting with 7

My little diorama (see below) is performing better than anything I've posted on CMON. It has hung on at 6.7-7.0 for 31 votes now. Sadly, the trend is downward. The weighting of images in the randomization favors high scores and low vote counts, so chances are I won't get many more than 50 votes total. I'm just hoping that a few people give it an 8, so that I can theoretically have my first 7.0 mini.

This is very heartening. It's one thing to think you're getting better and another altogether to have some collaborative evidence that you are.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Birthday Craziness

You'll have to wait for the last paragraph to hear about the picture.

Okay, now I'm 38. Last year, for some unknown reason, I thought I was turning 38. When it occured to me that I was actually turning 37 I was quite pleased. I got to redo 37! Well, my redo of 37 is over and now I am officially 38. Honestly, I don't care. It doesn't feel a lot different than 28, except that now I wake up to simultaneous crying and barking and back then I used an alarm clock.

The whole day yesterday was kind of nuts. Normally I take all the kids to Sarah's ballet lesson on Tuesdays. Lily has a little friend there with whom she plays, and Jay just toddles around being cute (or being two, which is less than cute.) Yesterday, however, Stef wanted to take the kids there early and have me meet them there, I suppose as some sort of birthday gesture. We ended up arriving almost an hour early and just waiting around in the car or walking around the parking lot. Since Sarah's ballet recital is Sunday there was a lot of last minute preparation commotion at the lesson, and we didn't end up leaving the place until about quarter to eight.

The one thing Stef wanted to do for my birthday was to get a new computer for me. Mine was more than six years old and was pretty much dead, since the video card would fuzz out after about a half hour of use. We have been terribly happy with the eMachines box we got for Stef, so we decided to get another one. So we rushed (since ballet got out roughly an hour before they close) to Best Buy and snapped up a machine. We hadn't gotten dinner for the kids yet (remember, we were an hour early for ballet) so I drove through to get happy meals. The kids scarf down their food at home while I start assembling the computer and Stef gets ready for the iced brownie that was cake. Scarf-light-sing-extinguish-clap-scarf-good night kids. The whole thing happened so fast, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed with it about 10 minutes into ballet.

I ended up trying to get XP home set up with two users adequately until 3am. There was this crazy dialog that appears on Windows start on the kids account that I just couldn't get rid of. Is says, I kid you not, "fAIL" and has an OK box. That's it. I dinked around with msconfig for a while trying to find the startup program that generates it, but no luck.

The painting competition ended yesterday and I got 2nd place. The 1st place mini and I were neck-and-neck for much of the competition, but in the last day he pulled ahead by two votes. What troubles me is the the photos miss some of the detail that I put so much time into. I think focus may be the issue. No matter, I'm happy with the way the mini turned out, and 2nd place ain't so shabby. All the entries are here, and #3 won. It is an impressive piece.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Neutrality at Gunpoint

I'm confused about "Net Neutrality." The gist of the nn argument, from my observation, is that all packets are created equal and that a law must be passed to ensure that all packets receive equal protection. Basically, a law to prevent ISP's from throttling packets of a particular type or from a particular source. Similarly, laws like the "Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act" seek to prevent laws like nn laws from being passed.

Personally, I think it's hogwash. The more I read about it and the more I (gasp) think about it, the stupider both sides sound. There is no net neutrality now, and the nightmare scenario of all little sites being crushed by the big ones just hasn't happened. ISP's have all the technology they need to do it, too. They won't do it because it's not good business.

Imagine a cable company. One day you notice that about half the channels they offer are being shown on a 1/4 screen size area in the middle of the TV screen, while the other half are full-size. You call the cable company, and they reply that half the channel providers opted to pay a "premium delivery" price, while the others opted to not pay the elevated fees. What would you do? It may be a little absurd of a comparison, but I think it's somewhat on target.

Let's skip the passing of the laws in an attempt to prevent problems that aren't really problems, and just let the market decide for now. If it's really broken and people are upset about it, congress will act. Rule #1 for politician is "stay in power" after all. (And please let's leave off the lobbyist money arguments...)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Based, Varnished, and in the Bag

Tonight I rebased 16 of Bill's Dwarfs and finished the 13 Iron Breakers. All 29 minis then got matte varnished and put in his army bag. It's nice to have some completely done now.

I have 11 warriors that are nearly done, and about 50 figures of his to paint after that.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Noticeable Quality Differences

Tonight, the girls and I had a great time painting. Sarah finished off the second half of her Warpfire Thrower team, I touched up some of Bill's Iron Breakers and Lily painted a clanrat. The photo shows the fruits of the evening's labor.

I must say, Lily is quite taken with her own painting.

After finishing and sizing up her paint job, Lily announced, "Mine is great, right Daddy?" I smiled.
"You did a fantastic job, Lily"
"It's better than yours or Sarah's," she stated quite matter-of-factly.
I shot her some "oh really" eyebrows and placed the Iron Breaker I was working on next to her rat on the table so that she could see the difference. She thoughtfully sized them up side by side.
"Oh, yes. Mine is much better." she concluded.

Four year olds are so cool.

Like always, Sarah's mini was chaotically painted but had an elaborate story as to why each color was going exactly where it was. Her painting time is a constant running narration. She was as much into the talking part as the painting part, and I only wish I had the forethought to capture some of her meticulously crafted world during painting time.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Nursemaid's Elbow

So what is this mystery malady that my children seem to suffer from?

It stated when Sarah was not even three. She was being her normal, squirmy self at the mall, swinging back and forth at a 45 degree angle as I held her hand waiting for Stef to come out of a store. Whe swung behind me and I lost my grip on her hand, and she fell. For the rest of the day, she pinned her elbow to her side and her forearm to her stomach, and wouldn't use it. We took her to the emergency room, and after a brief examination the nurse explained what had happened.

One of the bones in the forearm, the radius, sits in a tendon sheath near the elbow. Pulling on a young child's arm can pull the radius out of that sheath, making it painful to move the elbow. (I believe it's also called "radial head dislocation.") The nurse held Sarah's elbow in one hand, her wrist in the other, and slowly turned the wrist over from palm-down to palm-up. Pop. Sarah got a funny look on her face, the bone was back in place, and all was good. We self-treated this problem several times over the next couple years with Sarah.

Last night, when Lily hurt her arms, it was her wrist that she was complaining about. Sarah kept insisting that it was the same problem that she had had when she was younger, but I was unconvinced. Lily was putting up such a huge fuss over any attempt to touch her wrist that I figured the problem was there. Sarah barely made a fuss over her elbow when she experienced it; she didn't want to leave the play area at the mall, even though she was playing with her arm mashed against her waist. I thought for sure that Lily's wrist had broken.

When Stef called to tell us what the problem was, and that they were already on their way home, I told Sarah what happened. Her response, with a big smile, was, "Cool. Told ya."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My Poor Lily, again

I hurt my poor Lily tonight. She and Sarah were doing a crazy dance for the EyeToy message maker (they were recording little movies and playing them back) and I swooped in and picked them both up in a huge bear hug. When I put them down, Lily was crying.

My first thought: "Oh, what now?"

Lily's been crying a lot lately, anytime something happens that she doesn't like in fact. I was exhasperated that once again she was crying. I figured she didn't want me to 'ruin' their movie, and was have a mini-fit over it. When I saw that she was holding her wrist my stomach dropped, and all my exhasperation immediately turned to guilt.

She can't move her wrist now without crying out in pain. Stef arrived at home minutes after it happened, and whisked off to the emergency room with her. I'm at home with Sarah and Jay, and haven't heard a word from them for better than an hour.


EDIT: Praise God, it was Nursemaid's Elbow! She is completely better now and they are on their way home. I'll write about our prior experience with Nursemaid's Elbow later.

Assembly Line Food

Talking with coworkers today I was reminded of a restaurant pet peeve of mine... those places where you have to move from person to person, answering a hastily slurred question from each about the minor role they play in the preparation of your food item. Yeah, Subway, Quizno's and Qdoba, I'm talking to you. I spend my life attempting to communicate with as few humans as possible, and having to talk to three or four of them while attempting to acquire a sandwich is inexcusable.

You know what I like? Telling someone what I want and then having them give it to me. One stop shopping. "Give me typical food item with minor variation and a Coke." Or better yet, "Give me a Hungry Man #2, scrambled, bacon, hash browns, wheat and a coffee." Just being able to say that is worth the buck.

Brutal Repetition

Last night I forced myself to do what I had been dreading.... paint shields. As part of Bill's Dwarf army I am painting 32 warriors and 13 Iron Breakers, all models on foot with shields. I truly enjoy painting faces and belts and chainmail and what not, but shields have always been tedious for me. I end up spending far less time on them than I should considering how much of the visual space of the model they take up. In any case, I got all 13 Iron Breakers beshielded and got all 32 warrior shields mostly colored. I still need to do the metal edges on the warrior shields, but the hard parts are already done. Whew.

Seeing the Iron Breakers all lined up was encouraging. A fully painted ranked unit is impressive, and the IB's are all shiny in their blue-tinted silver and gold armor. It has me excited to paint more warriors at this point, since I haven't gotten a full unit of them completed yet.

The UE painting competition is still open to entries until May 7, so I have to wait another three days before I can post pics here of my entry. The official thread for the competition entries is >>here<< and the three entries are quite interesting.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Ten or twelve years ago I worked with a Turkish student who was kind enough to bring a huge box of Turkish Delight back for his coworkers after a trip home. Immediately, I could see why Edmund Pevensie was so taken with it. When I saw the most recent Lion, Witch & Wardrobe film I was actually a little disappointed to see that the pieces shown weren't the ones I remember as being the best ones. In fact, the powder-covered jelly ones shown in the movie weren't even remotely the best pieces in the box. Now that years have hazed the memory a bit, I wonder if the box wasn't assorted candies from Turkey, and only the powdered jellies were truly Turkish Delight. Well, whatever they were those licorice laced candies were amazing.

I think my single favorite candy has to be Opal from Iceland, though. What other candy has chloroform in it?!?

Paul got back to work today and brought an assortment of Jelly Belly branded candy in a box for us to share. I don't know what kind of sadists make up this candy, but the cinnamon bears were painfully hot, and no candy ever should be buttered popcorn flavor. Seriously. I tried a bit of the candy corn, almost expecting it to taste like real corn. In their defense, the pear flavored ones were great.

Image nicked egregiously from erishelva.com sans permission.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Perilously Close to Insufferable

I am a hair's breadth of becoming one of those insufferable jerks who has to mention their particular moral superiority in every conversation. What, pray tell, is this you ask?

(drum roll, please)

I don't have any regular TV shows I watch.

For a while I had considered 'Lost' as the last regular TV show I watch, but since the creators can't seem to actually make any episodes I don't see why I should consider that a show I watch. Now please don't confuse the fact that I don't watch television. Routinely I find myself watching Blue's Clues with Jay or Spongebob with Sarah and Lily, and I often breeze in for part of miscellaneous-hour-long-drama that Stef watches, but I don't seek them out at this point. In fact, the recent spat of "829 pound man" shows on some NatGeo-wannabe channel or other hold a morbid curiosity for me.

I blame the DVR, truth be told, as opposed to any conscious decision on my part. Every time I sit down to watch news or just surf around, that accursed DVR is recording something I don't want to watch, and so I am out of luch TV-wise. About the only time of day that I know I can turn to watch something without pre-allocation is after 11pm, when Adult Swim is on. The problem with Adult Swim is that the schedule of the shows that I want to watch and the times I actually turn on the TV seem to have no intersection at all.

Now that the rumor of new eipisodes of Futurama was in fact only rumor, I'm sure this will not change anytime soon. Unless Firefly comes back, by some miracle.

From 'Nerdy Painting Time' to 'Girly Painting Time'

I spent some time on Sunday painting with the girls. When we were getting ready to paint, the plan was to paint 25mm Warhammer figures... nerdy stuff like I normally paint, and which the girld love painting. As preparation progressed though, Stef suggested that the girls paint some of the little plaster casts that she bought at WalMart a few weeks ago, little birds and kittens and hearts and what not... girly stuff. Next thing I know they are painting knick-knacks instead of miniatures and they love it. I can't begrudge them loving it either... enough people think my own painting choices are strange enough that I can't judge their painting choices simply because it's not what I would have chosen to paint.

And no, there's nothing inherently girly about painting knick-knacks more than you could call painting little toy soldiers boyish, but it makes for a good title and an excuse to give Stef a good natured ribbing.

I've already turned in photos of my entry for the UnderEmpire painting competition, but I can't post pics here until mid-May, when the voting is over. On or around May 8 will be when we find out to whom we are sending our minis for the CMON mini-exchange. I'm kinda geeked about that one.

I have about half the shields on Bill's Iron Breakers now. I still need to paint some beards, but the unit as a whole looks pretty cool.