Saturday, December 30, 2006

Where the... ?

I served cereal to my children for breakfast today. Jay ate from the Superman bowl and spoon that he got for Christmas, and he took considerably longer to finish than the girls. Sarah and Lily had already bussed their bowls and left the kitchen when Jay finished, and I was distracted by loading the dishwasher. When I realized Jay was no longer at the table, it occurred to me that he hadn't brought his bowl to me. I took a quite inventory of the dishwasher, just to make sure. No Superman bowl.

Next question: if I were a two year old, where would I put a Superman bowl and spoon once I was finished eating? Anyone with significant experience with two years olds will know that "in my bed" or "in the toilet" are far more likely answers than "in the sink." The hunt began. I repeatedly asked Jay to show me where they were, but he didn't seem to know any more than I did. This was less than comforting. I checked all his usual haunts, finding only an old sippy cup filled with cottage cheese. I asked the girls to help look, but all they did was follow me around, looking in each place that I looked.

The breakthrough came when I was looking under things in the kitchen and petitioned Jay once more to find the bowl. He only said, "Can't..... reach......" in a strained voice. I looked over to see him with his arm stretched down into the kitchen garbage can as far as it could go. Ah. Mystery solved. Apparently, "in the garbage" is a viable option as well.


Stef's mom and step father were generous enough to give me, Stef, Bob and Cherie tickets to go see Monty Python's Spamalot for Christmas, along with babysitting all six of the children during that time. We did dinner at Yotsuba, the show, then dessert at The Majestic.

Yotsuba was, as always, wonderful. We did mostly sushi, and I got my personal favorite, takozushi! I also ordered Zaru Udon, a cold noodle dish. Mostly we got rolls, and they were all oishii desu. As a last minute impulse we ordered ice cream, which added $17 to the bill. More on that later. The four of us paid the $160 for dinner, then we left for the Fisher Theater and spamalot.

Spamalot, which none of us knew anything about other than the Monty Python connection and the obvious Holy Grail reference in the title, turned out to be a musical adaptation of the Holy Grail. There were some great numbers, and some fun surprises, and overall I really enjoyed it. Maybe it was the 16 year old Monty Python geek in me, I dunno. It stayed true to the Python spirit while being musical theater all at once. Were the ticket worth the $70 face value? Maybe. Probably. To me, anyway.

The Majestic is where things start to turn south a bit. Stef's mom had recommended this place (we had only the name and a general location to go by) for us to have dessert after the play. I didn't care all that much about eating at that point, but since Stef's mom thought it would be fun I figured I'd be game. The sorts of places that Stef's mom likes are typically Caribou Coffee-type places, so I was completely caught off guard by The Majestic. First off, the blast of smoke in my face as we walked in immediately warned me that I would have a very short amount of time in there before I would become medicine dependent. Second, the place was dark, and dark restaurants are always a little suspicious to me. The waiter sat us as far away from the bar as he could (30 feet of open space, give or take) and the air was a fair bit clearer over at our table. I looked over the special board, which listed lots of entrees in the $17-20 range, and the menu. Neither had any mention of dessert. I wondered if this was the place she had actually intended us to visit. When the waiter came over, he explained that they had a dessert cart that he could bring over if needed. We asked for a verbal list, made our choices, then drank tasty coffee and talked while waiting. Okay, talked might be a little exaggeration. We yelled. The music was so loud that I couldn't understand anything anyone else was saying. I could hear sounds coming out of their mouths, but whether it was English or gibberish was unknown. When dessert arrived it looked frilly, a stark contrast to the restaurant's loud, dark and smoky environment. My chocolate and blueberry torte occupied about 5% of the plate, the rest of which was filled with two small squirts of whipped cream and a lattice of drizzled chocolate and blueberry sauce. In the dim light I could barely tell the blueberry sauce from the chocolate sauce, and I sure couldn't tell you anything about the torte other the fact that it was dark in color and topped with whipped cream flowers. A while chocolate garnish graced the top of the slice, and looked exactly like a linoleum bathroom floor tile in miniature. I saw later that it matched the curved section of the slice, which had a candy backing. The torte was okay, not great. Stef's chocolate mousse was quite good. Bob seemed to enjoy his tiramisu. Cherie was enjoying her carrot cake until she got to the nut encrusted backing. The nuts just tasted off, and Bob hypothesized that they might be black walnuts. I tasted them, and they indeed had an unpleasant taste, and a texture like boiled peanuts. We asked the waiter to check on what they were, and he returned with the answer "roasted peanuts." "Roasted in what?" Bob rhetorically asked after the waiter had left. The only realistic scenario we could come up with was that the roasted peanuts had been around long enough to go stale (hence the texture) then the peanut oil in them had gone rancid. We left The Majestic (reeking of smoke) through the bowling alley back entrance to avoid the line of panhandlers that had accosted us on the way in. Oh, and remember the $17 ice cream earlier? We had thought that a bit pricey at Yotsuba. The bill (before tip) at The Majestic was $42.77. Ouch.

Total cost for the four of us for the evening: about $500. I think I just remembered why we don't go out and do things much.

Monday, December 25, 2006


  • Today at 8:00 AM we finally decided to wake up the girls. On Christmas morning?!?
  • Mark and I had a rematch. I fielded one painted model and many primed ones. He fielded all painted models. The only casualties in the game were painted models. Yes, I won.
  • AAA is apparently the new AA. Of all the toys that required batteries this morning, only one used AA's.
  • It takes a two year old approximately 5 second to both chew up an Aqua Doodle marking tool and then scribble on the Aqua Doodle pad with a Sharpie. Yay.

I feel like I've been complaining a lot in these entries, but I am just beat down this time of year. There is always twice as much need as there are resources, both tangible and intangible. Jay is a holy terror right now, so any peaceful moments are typically ended with his horrifying shriek (the one he uses when he is slightly to moderately unhappy with just about anything.) We've been asking the girls to please try and avoid doing the things that make Jay explode, but I worry that we are rewarding his tantrums that way. I know he's only two, but the girls could be reasoned with much more effectively at this age than he can. I look forward to three.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bear with me

1. My wife sent me to the store at 10:00 PM tonight for ice cream. While there, she called to request that I pick up Chorizo (Mexican sausage.) Ice cream and sausage at 10:00 PM? What is she, pregnant?

2. Rachel Ray better get off my cracker box or else. You can't swing a dead cat anymore without hitting her overly enthusiastic smile. I don't know who the heck she is (other than the author of the book being hawked on any and all Nabisco products) but she better crawl back under the rock she emerged from or face my incessant whining.

3. How many days can a person feel kinda yucky after having been sick for a month? Apparently many days. I just can't kick the sore throat / plugged up ears / wanna take a Tylenol feeling.

4. I still have a solid month of commission work to go, despite having already been paid for it. Christmas would have been a train wreck without the extra cash. I can work into the wee hours all through January with that knowledge.

5. Mark came over and played 500 points of Trollbloods vs. my Menoth. In the end, I stuck Feora's neck a little too far out and got handed her head for my troubles. I think it just proves that painted armies perform better. Mark's Trollbloods look better every day, and my Menoth remain primer white.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Possible Culprit?

So now I'm on antibiotics and a cocktail of over the counter drugs, and I'm slowly returning to the land of the living. While I was crashed out Tuesday, Stef got a tip that someone we know was having similar health problems and the source turned out to be mold in their furnace humidifier. She went and checked it out, and ours was filled with gunk and mold, which she proceeded to scrub out, bless her heart. The humidifier in question had been off for a couple years because the filter wheel wasn't turning, and it was easier to run a portable humidifier upstairs. About two months ago a friend of ours did a furnace repair, and during that time the humidifier got turned back on. I am hoping that all our sickness woes are a result of the moldy humidifier, and I'll be the last one to suffer from this onslaught of illness.

Being sick cuts considerably into my painting time. This current bout especially has hampered painting, since my eyes are goopy. I will have to break some speed records to finish my painting goals before Christmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Again?!? Sick again?!??

I am fed up with getting sick. It seems like the five of us have passed some germ or other around for the past month, and I am frustrated with missing church yet again. This time it's me who is sick, having some horrid bug descend on me Saturday afternoon. By Sunday morning all I wanted to do was lay in bed. Stef got up with the kids, but I got up and sent her to bed when it became apparent that she was suffering from a migraine. I'm debating whether to wake her up during Jay's nap (for minimal responsibility to start) or when Jay wakes up (maximum time to recover.) She took an Imitrex, which leaves her insensible for hours. When I'm at work, the only recourse for a migraine is to wait until I get home, as she can't responsibly be the caretaker for the kids after taking Imitrex. The proverbial rock and hard place.

So, like I said, it's been some subset of us sick for nearly a month. If just some subset of the kids were sick, one of us could take the healthy ones and go to church while the other stayed home with the sick kids. When one adult is lying miserable in bed and the other is caring for sick kids, church becomes very difficult. Did I mention that I am not fond of missing church?

The dogs have been nothing but trouble this morning. One of them decided to relieve itself in the house before we got up, and they have done nothing but crash around the house and bark since. Right now they are outside, and the loudest sound in the house is them barking at each other, carrying through the closed windows. Once Jay's awake I'm sure he'll replace them for loudest sound. His "indoor voice" is impressively "outdoor."

Whiny? Yes. Grumpy? Oh, yes. I should probably leave off the whiny, grumpy posts, but not everything can be an episode of This American Life. I'll cope if you will.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Civic Duty

I had my first assigned jury duty this morning. I showed up at District Court 14B at 8:50 AM, anticipating sitting as a jury member in a trial for the first time. What I got was a 20 minute video, about 20 pages of "Saving Fish from Drowning" read and a donut, but no trials. Apparently, most cases about to go to criminal trial are settled in some way before actually going before a jury. Of the sixteen cases on the docket this morning, all of them chose that route rather than be paraded before my intimidating gaze. I was back at work by 11:30.

I was looking forward to taking part in our judicial process. Now I just wish I had taken another donut.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Indirect Feedback

You may recall (from ages gone by) the Circle Orboros warpack (ebay 330047778529) that I painted as my first work for Aether Drip studio. I looked back in Angelos' eBay feedback last night and was pleased to see that the buyer left the following feedback:

"Excellent miniatures; great paintjob; very well packed; prompt delivery. Great!"

Another happy customer!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Gravity, for the win (part 2)

Brian and I played a 750 pt Warmachine game tonight, the largest we have played yet. I stuck my neck out a little and got my warcaster assassinated as a result, so the game didn't go terribly long. On the way home, the real carnage occurred.

I was on the phone with Angelos, not really paying attention to the cookie sheet on which I keep my magnetized minis. As I turned right, the cookie sheet slid off my tackle box and landed about halfway between the front seats. What didn't break, bent. What was painted is now scratched. I am very discouraged. I suppose if I put a great deal of time in painting my own army beautifully I would be utterly heartbroken.

It's the Most Wonderful Time

Here in the Detroit area, a popular easy listening station plays 100% Christmas / holiday music from about 11/1 until New Year's Day. Yes, that is the recipe for insanity. I suppose people must listen to it, or WNIC (commonly heard in dentist office waiting rooms the other ten months of the year) wouldn't do it. I know we have it on a fair bit during this time, and we never listen to WNIC any other time.

After listening for a solid month, I find myself analyzing the songs.
  • Apparently there is a kind of tree that one would categorize as "the sturdy kind that doesn't mind the snow." Does that imply that there are others around that do, in fact, mind the snow? Maybe the song was written for people in the tropics.
  • Even today, pumpkin pie is the primary motivator to travel the Tennessee / Pennsylvania route.
  • I am convinced that in "Merry Christmas, Darling" Karen Carpenter is singing to a dead person.
  • I am irritated by pseudo-religious Christmas music like "Do You Hear What I Hear?" Totally secular doesn't bother me. Accurate religious is ever better. Oblique references are no longer allowed.
  • If your Christmas song is more than 2% spoken word then it's not a song. Go bore the people at the poetry jam.
  • Sappy is one thing. I can enjoy sappy. "White Christmas" is sappy. If your song includes blatant attempts at tear-jerking then hit the road, Droopy.
  • Of them all, this season is so happy that it is hap-happy. Make a note of it.
  • "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" is great.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Resentfully Entertained

Did I mention that I had pretty much stopped watching TV? I still watched "Lost" with Stef, but with the frequency of new episodes I knew it wouldn't be a big time suck. Other than that, TV was pretty much just Futurama after going to bed.... well, the first half of Futurama anyway.

Now, thanks in part to both my lovely wife and the ability to watch on demand, I am watching no fewer than three TV shows. The aforementioned "Lost" is still there, albeit infrequently. "Heroes" is one I am actually watching and enjoying, and "House M.D." is one that I have been enjoying, although I can't really say why.

And now, some dubiously clever observations about each.

Lost: As was put so eloquently at, the story arc doesn't feel crafted so much as contrived now. I felt like I was experiencing something mysterious and epic before, but I think we are one season away from headhunters and radios made from coconuts. I'll keep watching for now, but Lost is on double secret probation (just between you and me.)

Heroes: Again, another example of the story arc formula. Despite my general boredom of superhuman powers, this show has kept my attention by actually having some future event that the characters are building toward. The pacing feels like some of the better (read: not superhero) comics that I have read. This one better tell me a story and then end or else. I will not be happy if it goes all Lost on me.

House M.D.: While the snappy sarcasm of the show attracted me at first, it's feeling terribly formulaic now. They've started adding some multi-episode story arcs in season 3, which has helped a little, but my interest will soon be eclipsed by my exasperation unless something changes.

I'm sure part of the irritation is that sheer volume of TV that I've digested recently, what with being sick and all. Stef and I have managed to go from zero to current on "House" in just a couple weeks. "Heroes" was a couple marathon sessions too (all after the kids go to bed.) Maybe I'm just burned out on TV for now... although I hear Battlestar is really good....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Army in a Month

I have signed on to paint an entire Eldar army in a month. After the Tau army, I have a better idea of my work potential.

Tonight however I feel like crud, seriously in the "I'm going to call in tomorrow" range, so I got zero assembling/painting done tonight. I can't have many nights like this if I'm going to get this done on time.


Alright, one time is strange. Two times is disconcerting.

A few weeks ago I was hanging out at the loading dock with Josh while he had a smoke. A fellow I know walks up and joins the conversation, and I introduce him to Josh. They both stare at me oddly for a moment, and then Josh casually explains to me that not only does he already know the person, but that he isn't who I am introducing him as. It was a complete case of mistaken identity on my part. The sad part is that I remembered later that this guy has walked up and talked to us often at the loading dock.

Last night Brian and I drove to Saline for game night. About halfway through the gaming, a fellow arrives and joins the group. He is given a friendly greeting, so I assume the group knows him. I, on the other hand, do not recognize him and introduce myself.

Confused stare.
"Uh, Mike? It's me... Kyle."

It was Kyle.

Kyle, with whom I have gamed for months.

What is going on here?!?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Have Fun in Jail!

Back in college, when Stef and I were living in the same dormitory, a fellow used to come around named Alan. Alan was a tenacious visitor, insomuch as he never left once he got into the room. Add to the fact that he smelled bad and you can see why protracted visits were unwelcome. To give you an idea of the smell, one day he came over and sat in a chair that Stef had thrown her coat over. Alan sitting on the collar of her jacket for a half hour made the jacket unwearable, and it had to be dry cleaned to remove the smell. The group of us that hung out together created a secret knock as a way to not let Alan in.

Later, when Stef was manager of the movie theater, Alan took a job there. Having dropped out of college and now living in his car did not help the odor situation much. His poor coworkers were forced to work shifts with him confined to a small box office at times. A few years after we left the theater we ran into Alan again, this time as a salesman at Sears. He was very proud of the fact that he had been in New York city at the time of 9/11, but on further questioning he admitted that he had been in the city about two weeks prior to 9/11.

Well, last night we had another Alan sighting. I was cleaning up my paints when Stef called me from the bedroom, "Oh my Gosh, Mike! Come here and see this!" A come here and see this isn't always of earth shattering importance, but the added oh my gosh added some urgency. I rushed in, not sure what to expect. Stef looked up at the TV and pressed 'play' on the DVR (side note: I love modern DVR functionality), where she had paused the local news. There on the screen was Alan, now 34 years old, who had been arrested for soliciting a 14 year old on the internet. The news report mentioned that similarly condemning material had been found on his computer. Let me take this opportunity to wish Alan a fun time in prison. My advice to him is to use the opportunity to shower regularly.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Apparently 12 Years is PB&J

Yesterday was our 12th wedding anniversary. Stef and I are both suffering colds, she at the end of one and I at the beginning, so we're both feeling a bit listless. We went to church in the morning, dropped the girls off with my mom a couple hours later (to spend two nights) and then searched fruitlessly for a place to get Jay a haircut. We gave up after two or three closed places and went home. I did some laundry in preparation for my 8:00 PM departure for Grand Rapids and played with Jay a little (dinosaurs and race cars, in combinations of one, the other, or both.) At about 6:30 PM I figured Jay would be hungry so I made him and me a PB&J. We had leftover Chinese, but I figured that Stef could use it for lunch/dinner tomorrow. After making a sandwich for Jay, Stef realized that she was hungry (after having passed the first time around for one) so all three of us sat around eating PB&J.

I didn't expect to be quite so penniless at this point in my marriage. I expected to be going to nice restaraunts or weekend getaways by this point. We really couldn't afford to do anything special because I had to pay for my own meals on this week's trip (before per diem payment when I get back.) Despite my shattered expectations of being able to take my wife on romantic shindigs, I can't say I'm disappointed. I feel unabashedly thankful for Stef putting up with me for these years. She makes my life better, and I look forward to many more years of trying to do the same for her. Prime rib or PB&J, as long as it's with her.

She'll Have to Wait

Ashlynn is sitting on the shelf at home for the next four days while I'm off at training. I didn't want to bring her along and risk damaging her, since she's heading for eBay. Granted, I did actually bring paints and minis along, and plan to spend the next three nights painting something (although I am undecided as to what yet.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Grace of my H-yawn-eart

Travel back with me now to a more innocent time... 1989 or so. I walked into a tiny CD shop in Brighton after hearing two songs by Kristen Vigard on the local public radio station, and I wanted to buy her album. The clerk there was able to order it for me after some searching through books. A week or so later I had the album, and have listened to it ever since. Note: using the word "album" makes me old.

Fast forward to 1996. I hear, again on public radio, that Kristen Vigard is doing the singing voice in the new movie Grace of my Heart. I am interested, but not enough so to seek out and see the film.

Fast forward again to about two months ago. I purchased Kristen Vigard's new (read: second) album, and it included the song "God Give Me Strength" from Grace of my Heart. I decide I'd like to see the movie now. Please also note that my use of quotes, italics and capitalization in titles is entirely arbitrary.

Saturday night, Stef and I sat down and watched the nearly two hours of Grace of my Heart, and it was tedious. It chronicles the life of a young heiress-who-would-be-singer/songwriter as she tackles (and succeeds in) various eras of music, while simultaneously marrying everyone with whom she collaborates. Her ambition is to be a singer, but it never really pans out until the end. Even the song for which I rented the movie is a commercial flop in the movie's plot. The problem is that the movie tries to be epic, and it really should have been a small story. Stef and I were bored silly by the end. Was it worth it? Meh. It was interesting to hear Kristen Vigard singing, but I wouldn't say it was worth the time investment.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Anime style?

My latest mini WIP is Warmachine Mercenary Warcaster Ashlynn D'Elyse. I don't play mercs in Warmachine, so this is probably an eBay item eventually.

After doing the face, it appears I now paint anime.

Monday, October 23, 2006

...and they're gone!

The Tau have shipped, and I have been paid... well, almost. I received about 20% less than originally mentioned, but with the promise that whatever the total minus shipping was I would get, so there still may be some money coming my way. It's a learning experience for both of us, so I'm willing to be flexible this time. Next time I'll get a hard number.

CoolMiniOrNot link: >>here<<

I was especially happy with how the Piranhas and Hammerhead turned out. Considering I had built/painted exactly ZERO vehicles before this commission I am fairly pleased with myself. The Hammerhead (top pic) has two choices for main cannon, and I contrived a way to change out the gun; nothing particularly complex, but a nice touch for the customer on a kit that normally forces you to glue one cannon or the other in place when you build it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

They Leave Tomorrow

Another bleary night painting Tau...

Except for one single figure holding binoculars, they are done. At long last.
All WIP photos here:

Mark suggested that next week we designate an "opposite night" wherein he would come over and (finally) paint that Skorne box for Angelos, and I would ignore all outstanding commission work and paint something of my own. I like that idea.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Three Weeks of Painting in One Post

I mentioned that "Tau continue" in my last post, but I don't think I've mentioned what Tau actually are. I am doing a commission army for a fellow in Italy of Warhammer 40k figures. The faction in question is Tau, an anime inspired army, who battle for "the greater good."

Sorry, but I don't have a clue how to format multiple photos in this interface.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Inevitable

Last night our cat Mabel died. For about a year she had been developing tumors, the largest of which was on the right side of her face. Add to that the fact that she was 16 years old and really fat and you'll see why her death was no real surprise. It lessens the blow, but it's still sad. It was pretty clear by 10:30 PM that she was headed downhill, and we chose to wake the girls to say their goodbyes to her. We were going to take her to a 24-hour vet just to prevent her from suffering for hours upon hours, but she died before we could leave. I have heard about people or animals passing "peacefully" but have never experienced it. It always seems painful and wretched at the moment. I'm glad I was out of the room when my friend Monty died; if he had died in the same manner as the animals I have been with it would have been a haunting memory indeed.

Mark was over painting with me when Stef found Mabel. He hasn't been over in ages to paint, and was able to watch the kids while Stef and I took Mabel to the vet. (I really couldn't bury her in our backyard.) It's comforting to know that God watches out for us in little ways like that... neither Stef nor had to make the solo journey to drop Mabel off, and we got to commiserate and remember her during the trip.

In other news, Tau continue. Not much progress last night obviously.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Old Friend, New Success

This post has no other purpose than to congratulate the one and only Tim Eldred on his accomplishment. His book "Grease Monkey" has been nominated by the American Library Association in the category of Best Book for Young Adults!

Apparently the nomination won't be on their site until October 1, but here's the link:

When I think of people living out their dreams, I know two guys named Tim who have done it. (The other one is artist Tim Albee, in case you wonder, care, or have arrived here by searching on Tim Albee's name... Hi, Tim!) You, Tim Eldred, are an inspiration.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Done and Started

The standard bearer is done and shipped to the owner. The thing that torques me is now that it's gone I can see flaws in the picture that I really want to fix. The globby things near the top of the standard, for example. I have a quote in to the customer for a squad, so if I get that job I'll ask him to return the standard bearer to me for repairs.

I'm now working on another mini for Aether Drip, a Hordes mini. This fellow is a "Titan Cannoneer" from the Skorne faction. The normal mini has the cannon pointing down, so this is a bit of a conversion. Titans look big and dumb to me, so having his tongue sneaking out while aiming appeals to me.

I feel like I have something deep and meaningful that I should be posting here tonight, but I really can't think of it.... oh, well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Aether Drip

I am now semi-officially a member of Aether Drip Painting Studio. My first piece, the aforementioned Circle of Orboros box, is now listed in Plainswalker's Magic Bag eBay store. I already have some Skorne (a Titan Cannoneer, a unit of Praetorians and Archdomina Makeda) that Angelos gave me to paint up in addition to all my other work. I'm going to be busy, but hopefully it will be a nice income supplement.

The "Legion of the Damned" standard bearer commission is coming along well. Obviously the hardest part will be the freehand on the standard. I like the way the black armor is coming along. Doing black that doesn't just suck the light out of the room is challenging.

Forecast for Today: Rain

Last night the EMU faculty union decided to give up the strike and go back to the bargaining table with the administraiton. I would defer to for some insight on why. My prediction is that we will have a few days of faculty in classrooms, but if nothing is resolved by the time the rain clears up they'll be back on the picket line. At least until it gets cold.

I used to think the faculty contract expired just as the school year starts so that the faculty could have extra bargaining power. Now, I just think it expires then so that it won't ruin faculty summer vacations to strike.

Many of the striking faculty were carrying signs reading "I'd rather teach." Yeah, for $80k with summers off, I'd rather teach, too.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Each night my wife sings "Good Night, My Someone" to my 2-year old son while he rests his head on her shoulder. He sings back, mostly in sounds rather than words.

It is absolutely the sweetest thing.


The Circle of Orboros box has a 7.1 on CMON, tying for the best mini I've done. I'm pleased.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fire and Forget

So apparently a new game store is opening around here called "Planeswalker's Magic Bag." Mark talked to the owner, and he gave Mark two Hordes starter boxes for me and him to paint up for sale. I put the finishing touches on mine tonight. >>CMON link<<

I've got to hand it to the guy, trusting someone he's never met with $80 worth of merchandise won him a few points with me. Apparently the deal is that he sells the painted figures somehow, and gives the painter the sale price minus the retail price of the minis. For him it's no different than selling an unopened box, so I'm not really sure what the benefit is for him other than to have painted minis to display. I'm not even sure he has a site for the new store yet! Well, he trusted me with merchandise, so I'll trust him to pay me for whatever the painted minis sell for. If all goes well, I'll hand him minis and later he'll hand me cash.

Next up for painting: Space Marine Standard Bearer commission job. After that, in no particular order, a Usagi Yojimbo "Gen" mini, lots more dwarfs, a Skorne starter box, and finally my own Menoth minis if I get some time. And I really should get around to painting the minis that the very generous Naukhel sent me for Mini Exchange 8.

The faculty are still on strike here. Their proposed compensation changes are outrageous, in my not-so-humble opinion. So now they walk a picket line in front of the classroom buildings, but classes go on anyway (not all faculty are represented by the local apparently.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Miscellany 2

Yesterday was a beautiful, cool, relaxing summer day. If 3pm on a clear, low-70's Labor Day isn't the perfect time for a nap, I don't know what is.

The faculty here at EMU is on strike, and classes start tomorrow. Considering all the problems we've had recently I am irritated at both sides, since a strike can only hurt enrollment. Enrollment is what we need to build to flourish here. (shakes head) Our local negotiates after the faculty, so they shape our contract a great deal. Anything they concede we are forced to concede, for all intents and purposes. Anything they get affects how much is available for us to get.

Sunday was Sarah's last day in children's church. From now on, she's in regular church with us, unless Stef and I are in nursery (which is probably 3 Sundays in 5.) I'm a little pensive of her ability to sit somewhat still for 40 minutes, but hoping for the best.

I don't typically take celebrity deaths with any level of personal involvement, but Steve Irwin makes me feel a bit of loss. He was just some likeable guy who loved his job, and happened to ride the zeitgeist for 8 seconds and win the rodeo while doing it. Somehow he made being a TV-average looking (much better than non-TV average looking) alligator wrestler seem like an everyday guy. Go figure. And anyone who says "he died doing what he loved" has never been killed doing what they loved... I'm sure it sucks.

Saturday, Stef called me over to the front porch to see what she thought was a hummingbird. "If that's a hummingbird, it's the smallest bird that I've ever seen," she said. It was flying exactly like a hummingbird, hovering as it went from flower to flower. Upon close inspection, it appeared to be more like a little lobster with hummingbird wings. Stef caught it in a little bug net, and we put it in a jar for observation. It was indeed some sort of moth, with membranous wings like a fly or a cicada. After releasing it from the jar, it alighted on Stef's hand, and Stef and Sarah both petted it for a minute before it flew off to feed again. A quick google on the words "hummingbird" and "moth" yielded the animal's name: Hummingbird Moth. Go figure. How cool. The picture attached is the spit and image of what we saw; just imagine the wings as a blur.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Back in Stride

I have been having trouble painting lately. For more than a week now it has been work to pick up a brush, so much so that I've set my painting supplies a couple times this week and then just did nothing.

Last night changed that.

I started by doing some touch up work on the Argus models (the two headed wolves) that came with the Cirlce of Orboros box that had been so much work for me lately. I then started highlighting the WarpWolf (the larger wolf model) and things just started... I dunno... flowing. It was dark in the house, and silent except for an occassional sigh or cough from my wretched dogs, and I sat under the unnaturally bright Ott light and just painted. I went to bed actually a little excited to wake up and see what the models look like in more natural light. I'll probably have all four models completed sometime tonight, and then move on to the next commission piece, a Space Marine Stardard Bearer.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


I made steak tacos for dinner tonight.

A local hobby shop is opening, and the owner gave me a Circle of Oboros box to paint for display and sale in the store.

A new fellow, Kyle, played Warmachine with Brian and me last night. Both Brian's Khador and Kyle's Grundback mercenaries pounded my Menites into the ground.

Yesterday was our department's picnic and the cold cuts were swarmed by what looked like bees. Based on their interest in meat, I'm guessing they are some sort of wasp.

My truck is still out of commission, so I've been borrowing Sheena's car. It is quite girly in decoration, a fact that has been no end of amusement to my coworkers.

My children are, at this moment, lying in the dark watching "The Secret of NIMH."

Family Camp this year had some of the most authentic teaching I've experienced.

I am signing up for a new life insurance policy and a nurse came to the house to take various data, including blood samples and my height and weight. We don't have a scale in the house, and I was surprised by how much I weighed. I have a goal now of losing (brace yourself) 37 pounds in the coming months. The plan is basically to eat normal human sized portions at meals and avoid snacks. It pretty much means I'm hungry all the time now, but I assume my stomach needs to adjust to a more normal meal size, as opposed to the metric ton of food I normally eat.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Tale of Greed

For just a moment, let me take you back to July 6, 2004. John Kerry had just announced John Edwards as his running mate, and the owner of a little personal web site assumed that he was sitting on a gold mine. Mr. Kerry Edwards, owner of, must have had sugarplum visions of the powerful Dems backing dumptrucks full of cash to his house in return for such a clearly valuable domain name.

Now, the site is just a squatted advertising page. I'm guessing Mr. Edwards regrets his decision.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Self-Sustaining Hobby

The sale of High Paladin Vilmon this weekend brought my Paypal account to >$100, which is enough evidence to show that my hobby can be self-sustaining. I got my first commission job from an eBay contact this weekend too, which is exciting. All my commission work has been from friends up until now. It's funny.... Brushworkz began life as a commission painting service but quickly morphed into a wargaming accessory business and lost a lot of (my) money. Now I'm selling painted minis on my own. Go figure.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Replacing Legends

But first, High Paladin Dartan Vilmon:
The CMON link: >>here<<
The auction link: >>here<<

"Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me?
M-I-C ... K-E-Y... M-O-U-S-E!"

Imaging having to rewrite that song? What a high-pressure concept... like having to rewrite a score to Star Wars or something. The task went to the band "They Might Be Giants", probably based on the great theme song they wrote for the Disney show "Higglytown Heroes" about a year ago. I think the new version fits the new show very well, but still pays homage to the old one. My two-year old loves the song, and sings it with me all the time. I know it's nerd stereotyping, but I have really liked TMBG for going on 20 years. (what? has it really been that long?) They have put a couple of albums for children in the past several years, so my kids are getting to like them a lot too. Yeah, these girls don't have a chance.

Done, minus one detail

Well, here he is. The only detail I've changed from this picture until now is that I've drybrushed a light brown onto the little grass clumps to make them look a little more dead. Once I redo pictures, it'll be eBay time.

Not to make this secondary news, but I have a new nephew today! William Christopher Alvarez was born 5:30~ish this morning. Stef was present for the birth, so she's crashed out in bed now after a night of no sleep. Congrats to the happy parents and his two big brothers. He's a cute little guy, with very apparent physical attributes similar to each brother.

Wednesday night, Brian and I played a 500 point game of Warmachine, about 60% larger than any game we'd played to date. Big, big fun. We had to proxy some models, but it convinced us to buy more 'jacks / units for our armies. There's a 750 point Warmachine / Hordes tournament in late October, and both Brian and I are considering entering.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who is Werner Klocke?

Short answer: he's the guy who sculpted the mini at left.

It's getting there. Mr. Klocke sure sculpts nice cloth, but white still give me fits (shading the white back of the cloak, that is. The white in the front seems nice.)

I think I'm ready to start painting the arms so that I can glue them on.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Planning and Execution

On Wednesday I was able to buy High Paladin Vilmon, a new solo for Warmachine. The sculpt is big fun, as you can see. I have to paint a fair deal of it before even assembling it! I play a Menoth army, but I'm painting him for eBay. Ouch... up until now I have painted things that I don't play or collect, so I had no attachments to them as they went on the block. Part of me wants to keep this fellow, even though I don't field Paladins in my army. I have to remember that he's a brand new figure, and selling price will be maximized if I'm one of the first on eBay with him. There's one out there now, but I'm not worried about competition... yikes.

I had planned on having him ready for auction tonight, but plans change. Hopefully he'll be done tomorrow. The pic here is from the first night of painting (Thursday) and the current model is a tad more complete.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Another One on the Block

Woo hoo another auction started!
Auction link >>here<<
CMON entry >>here<<

I'm fairly happy with how the snow turned out, since it was my first time trying it.

I used the fluorescent desk lamp in addition to the day lamps, and I think it yellowed the image a little. The leather on the axe handle looks very nice in person (if I do say so) but is washed out in the image.

The family went to the Manchester Chicken Broil today, and I ate leftover Kraft Mac'n'Cheese for dinner. Disparity.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Paint Faster! oh, and movies.

Okay, I've spent two nights with the Rune Priest, and I think one more serious session will finish it off for auction. Okay, maybe two nights, but by the end of the week for sure.

Tonight was basically just face, hair and a freehand on the left shoulder (which I cleverly hid in this photograph) but each could be something of a "show stopper" if done poorly. I'm happy with the results.

I've still got the second half of Bunty aur Babli to watch, but I just can't seem to sit myself down in front of a TV and watch it. I have become unaccustomed to watching much of anything, although I did watch Zathura with the kids a few days ago. I suppose it's sitting down and watching something by myself that is strange.

"The Lady in the Water" teaser trailer was one of the most evocative minutes of film I have ever seen. It seems like high praise for a teaser but I was absolutely riveted by the whole thing. The newer previews seem to give the farm away, but I suppose your usual movie patron expects that now. Do people feel some sort of accomplishment when they recognize scenes in the movie as having been in the trailer? Does it make them feel that they somehow intuited the parts that they had previously seen? I see people take such delight in seeing a joke that had first heard in a trailer finally being uttered in the full film, I almost think they believe they themselves had written the joke. I'm too hard on people...
M. Night Shyamalan is an unpredictable fellow. His movies range from all around amazing to head-scratchingly pointless or heavy handed. I don't really trust him with his own movies anymore, as strange as that sounds... as delightful as the teaser was for LitW, I have no delusions that the actual movie may not be utterly retarded. In his defense, The Village was very well done... for the most part... and maybe it shows he learned the lessons that Unbreakable and Signs had to offer.

Monday, July 17, 2006

...and back to eBay I go.

Now that the Thane is done, I'm painting another piece for eBay before camp is upon us (less than a month at this point.) It's another Space Marine, this time a character called a "Rune Priest" from the Space Wolves chapter. I love the face and hair; it should be a blast to paint.

Before I get too distracted, take a look at the leather on the inside of the hide. I was particularly pleased with how it turned out.

This was a busy weekend... I spent a good part of Saturday canvasing the neighborhood around our Pastor's house to advertise our upcoming VBS. The seven of us hit more than 400 homes, and it was really hot out. Crazy hot for Michigan. I'd appreciate prayer support from anyone that families respond to the idea of a VBS in their own neighborhood and attend.

Thane Completed

Bill's Thane is finally done. I think I have spent more time on that particular mini than any mini I've ever painted, and it looks pretty darn good. It's hovering in the low 7's on CMON (link >here<) which is probably where it will stay. Irregardless of the final CMON score, Bill is happy with it and that's what matters.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I'm doing everything I had planned for the Thane, but something is not coming together. It just doesn't have any pop. Take a look at the last few WIP photos and they just don't show a tremendous difference, despite having spent hours and hours painting. Maybe this is one of those minis that will emerge in the final night of painting, and not a moment before.

Mark came over last night and painted the sergeant from his terminator squad, destined for eBay. With only white primer, the bone color for the armor and green base coat on the tabard, it looks featureless. I'll be watching how he approaches the next couple painting sessions to see how he handles it. Mark has been painting a lot longer than I have, but he still wants to paint fast. For games that require 100 models on the field that's a good thing to be able to do, but it compromises quality. I greatly look forward to seeing what he can do now that he slows down and paints for quality.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Thane Progressing

The gold looks better on the helmet, but I might give it another chestnut shade level just to increase the highlight/shade differential. The gloves (not including the ink spill on the gold studs) are pretty much done, and show what the army will look like most other places in the end.

I need to move my lights forward a bit, so that the model is front-lit more. You can see the right eye, but the left is completely shadowed with the current setup. I hope the final pics show both eyes. Yes, I painted skin and eyes inside the eyeholes of the helmet.

Knock Knock

Jay told me a joke today during lunch. Yes, two years one month old Jay.

Jay: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Jay: Owl
Me: Owl who?

At which point he just erupts in high pitched toddler laughter.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Quiet Here Today

Stef, Sarah and Lily went to "the lake" with a friend of ours. I stayed home with Jay. Honestly, I can't stand beaches, and Stef gave me the out to stay home if I wanted to do something with my friends. I ended up staying home with Jay, and painted while he napped. I called the pawn shops instead of driving there, and none of them had received a bike today. I'm fluctuating between cheesed off and just exasperated about the whole bike thing.

A few nights ago I made an Oathstone from some Loctite brand epoxy putty, the kind that comes in a tube with a gray outside and a blue core. It really is nicer for large shapes than green stuff (kneadatite) and can be sliced, but it doesn't hold detail like green stuff. Instead it sort of crumbles as you carve into it. I'm not very happy with the gold on the helmet. It has a base, highlight and shade layer, and you can't see anything but bright gold. After the gold on the Blood Angels Chaplain came out so flat, I wanted to figure out gold with depth. Clearly from the photograph, I have not gotten there yet. Maybe I'll wash the whole thing chestnut just to take it down a peg, then re-highlight with a brighter gold.

Thieves Smell Like Poopy

Stef's bike got stolen last night. Not just her bike, but the expensive baby seat on the back (a really nice one we got at a garage sale) and the child carrier trailer attached to it. Yup, her entire "take the kids for a bike ride" setup. Granted, Sarah and Lily can both ride two-wheelers now, but sometimes they just liked to ride in the trailer. All in all, it would cost a fair bit over $450 to replace everything new. We're not likely to find those same things at garage sales.

The sad part is that we both somewhat suspect a fellow that has been coming around looking for work lately. He has helped us with a couple things, for which we paid him, and he seemed like a decent fellow. The fact that he asked for work, and then actually worked hard when offered the work, earned my respect. But yesterday he told me that his mother had died that morning and he was trying to get money for a suit. Call me cynical, but hard luck stories like that seem.... unlikely. I lent him my lawnmower to mow a neighbor's lawn a few doors down. Stef's bike was parked up by the house in the front yard during all this, and when she got home sometime after midnight it was gone.

I really want to believe he didn't steal it, but I can't discount the possibility. Maybe it's the time proximity. Maybe it's the hard luck story. I'm going to drive to a couple pawn shops today to see if anyone has tried to fence it. I mean, how many hard-up parents would need to steal a bike with capability to carry three kids? I still don't want to think bad of him, but we've never had anything stolen from us before (despite ample opportunity) and the timing was just too close.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Template Tragedy

Note to bloggers... don't ever edit your template without scrolling all the way to the bottom of the little windows to ensure that it all loaded first. If the template didn't load into the little window first, then your blog will be broken and you will need to pick your template again from the list, blowing away all your customizations.

I honestly can't remember what links I had out there before, but I'm pretty sure I got all the blogs that I read. Thankfully sitetracker is easy to reimplement.
Wow, was that annoying.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Home'ing from Work

The gang at work and I have joked around about how much work people who "work from home" are actually accomplishing. Talking with them today, I suggested that some people come into work but spend a substantial amount of time talking on the phone to their kids, doing bills, looking for things on eBay and generally fielding everyday life problems that come their way. I called this "Home'ing from Work" and I hope it catches on in the vernacular. A quick search on the phrase came up with a couple hits, but not the number that a pop-culture saying typically gets. Come on people! Spread the word! Homeing from work!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Note to self: SHARPEN

Busy day. Church was at one of the members' houses in Tecumseh (about 45 minutes drive if you don't get lost) immediately followed by a barbeque. We spent several drizzley hours under the tent awning. It wasn't raining hard enough to keep the kids down, so I ended up following Jay around, keeping him out of trouble and getting not wet per se, but just sticky from being in the rain. We then made the drive north to a birthday party for a 3 year old we know, another spitting rain event. I am sunburned, but that is no surprise. I sunburn in the dead of winter.

When am I going to learn about posting late night pictures of minis. The CMON entry I had created, including paying a credit for the featured auction, was pretty lousy. Since the entry could be accessed through the auction links before it was made completely public, a few people had come in and voted on it. The score: 4.3. I kid you not. There were only around 6 votes, but come on! I figured an early low snipe like that would kill my auction and the photo was the problem, so I deleted the entry, eating the credit in the process. I then resampled the photos down to a reasonable size and, more importantly, applied the sharpen tool to them, and resubmitted. I have got to remember to use sharpen more often. It really gives minis a crisp look. The mini is up now >here< and is doing fairly well.

Auction started.... goodnight.

So I went to bed at 3:00 AM last night, and Lily was up bright and early at 6:30. Daddy, get up. Daddy, it's morning. Daddy, can I have breakfast?

Black Templar is on eBay. Link >here<.

Drove to Howell to "Hero Quest Comics" with Mark today, since they supposedly have Privateer Press stuff. Ummm, they do. They make Riders look like ... something... unpleasant. I'm too tired for similes. That's sim-il-ies, not smilies.

Going to bed.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nearly on the Block

The Black Templar is nearly complete. Or maybe complete... I haven't decided. In any case, here is a chance to try out one of the nifty backgrounds that came with my light tent. The camera settings haven't changed, but the details on the black figure come out so much better with the blue background. I wish I had a nice gray one, but I suppose I'll have to find a piece of gray paper or something for that.

Mark was over assembling his second Hordes army tonight. That means between Mark, Bill, Brian and myself we have six Warmachine armies and three Hordes armies, and only one repeat in those nine. I rely on Mark's painting advice a lot. He advised me tonight that Black Templars wear ivory tabards, not white. Oops. The axe had been red after last night, but enough people didn't like it that I decided to change it. I'm glad I went to blue. Since the power weapons all have those conductors on them, I figured I would use the axe's round shape to simulate one of those electric spheres that make a cool arc at your finger when you touch them. I also tried to light source the surfaces facing the power weapon to try and accentuate the fact that it is glowing. In game terms, the model is a veteran sergeant, basically a more powerful version of the basic soldier that leads a squad of 5-10 marines. To add the power weapon and plasma pistol that this guy is carrying takes him from being a 15 point model to a 50 point model. So what's my point? For all those extra points, I might as well make the weapon look cool for whoever is going to buy this fellow.

The ultramarine sergeant is lingering at the minimum bid. I'm hoping for some late auction sniping action, but even if there isn't any I'm still satisfied. For now.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Black and Bleach

I'm starting to realize how difficult painting a black mini is. Not only that, but I've chosen a white tabard, the single hardest color for me to paint. The results of tonight's painting session were less than stellar, as you can see.

I scrubbed the basement utility sink out tonight with bleach, only to burn the (expletive) out of my lungs. Note to self: dilute bleach first. So stupid.

Time to sleep.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is it my birthday?

YCUA, the Ypsilanti Community Utility Authority, has a habit of sending me a sewer backup on either my birthday or Christmas. Today I got my belated birthday present from them. Hooray.

The problem with cleaning up all the sewer gunk (and the lengthy "breathing it in" session) is that I never feel quite right later in the evening. Right now, I feel downright ill. I'm hoping it's psychosomatic. The first time it happened I was puking half the night.

No painting tonight. Tomorrow is warbands, so probably no painting tomorrow either.

No bids yet on the Ultramarine sergeant. Wonderful.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BabyFirst TV is ... uh... what was I saying?

We just discovered that we get BabyFirst TV, the pure hypnotism channel for kids. If you've even seen those "Baby Einstein" or "Baby Mozart" things, then you know what I'm talking about. Now imagine an entire channel of little montages like that, interspersed with little cartoons and songs. The girls were over at Bob & Cherie's yesterday, so they haven't seen it yet, but Jay was mesmerized. I can see the danger of leaving this channel on for very long. Stef observed that the girls will probably like it too, since they enjoy the occasional foray into things for which Jay is a more appropriate age, especially when he's watching too.

I took another night off from painting. Tonight I begin again, in earnest. My goal for Mondey is to have the rest of Bill's warriors done, except heads, the Black Templar sergeant done, and the rough painting on Bill's Thane done or mostly done. It's a lot of work, but I don't have a lot of time. Family camp is mid-late August and July is nearly upon us.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Night Off

I got my tackle box and the Black Templar out at about 10:00 pm last night... and I just couldn't bring myself to start painting. I've been getting very little sleep lately, for one reason or another, and I just couldn't paint last night. I'd like to say I decided not to paint, but it was more incapable than anything. I went to bed.

No bids yet. I posted the CMON pic in the "discuss submissions" thread, and response has been fairly positive. Those that responded seem to think it deserves higher than it's current 6.9. That's gratifiying, from that crowd.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Auction #3 vs. Pre-paid Commission

Match of the evening! With auction #2 freshly on the block, I immediately dove into the work for auction #3. At the same time I also spent a little time on the Dwarf Thane that Bill already paid for. /guilty

Right away I can see that painting and photographing Mr. Black Templar will be ... umm... challenging? Impossible? I may end up looking for a CMON article, or at least some advice. Lingering problem: the model has some mold lines that I didn't notice before tonight.

The Thane was inked blue tonight, since his armor is going to be blue tinted Gromril, like the Iron Breakers. Chronic problem: the model has some mold lines that I didn't notice before tonight. Argh.

It's the Fourth of July +/- three weeks, which means the exceedingly loud and illegal fireworks shows begin nightly in Ypsilanti as soon as the sun sets. They don't call it Ypsitucky for nothing. I guess I should be happy they're not firing guns in the air in celebration of (arbitrary celebration criterion.)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Starting bid... $85 ?!??!

Yeah, I wish. The "featured auction" system on CMON is not working 100%. Instead of picking up my real minimum bid of $20, which is a reasonable minimum, it is picking out the "Buy it Now" price I set. That means that anyone seeing the featured auction will think that I set the minimum bid at $85, and implies that I have an awfully high opinion of my mini. Granted, I do have a fairly high opinion of it (it is the best work I've done so far, after all) but lots of minis better than mine finish in the mid-$50's. Starting at $85 would be eBay hubris.

Sarah, Lily and I painted again today. We went to Riders and bought a Reaper fig for Lily (Tristan Loremistress) and a Lord of the Rings blister for Sarah which had Frodo, Sam and Gollum. Pics later, if I get the photography stuff set up again.

Auction #2 scheduled

I've set the Ultramarine Sergeant to go at about 12:30 PM tomorrow. >Auction Link<. On Bill's advice, I have added a "Buy it Now" price. "Painted minis are not a 'shop around' purchase," he said. "They are impulse buys."

Here's hoping.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Photo Reality

My coworker Brian convinced me to adjust the image a little, and the result is at left. I have to remember that mere reality pales before my monitor at home. At work, all the pics looked like they had a brown film over them. Brian found some pics of similar color schemes on CMON and convinced me to color adjust for better clarity, and to add the backdrop. That's funny.... at 3:30AM the pics seem to look fine. Didn't I write about this earlier?

The CMON entry hadn't been moderated for viewing yet, so I was able to delete the old one before anyone saw it and post this new one. I altered the link in the last post to point to the new picture.

In World Cup news, Thirdworldistan is playing the Democratic Republic of Whocaresia today. I can't wait.

So tired, but so worth it.

Yeah, this is clearly the best thing I've painted. I am so excited to put this one on the auction block. I posted it on CMON, just to see what initial reaction will be.

Here's the link:

I really tried to make the banner look old and faded, which involved painting the symbol, then painting a weathering effect over it. The seals on the banner were left as bright as I could get them for contrast.... new wax on old paper.

I'll post again when the auction starts.


When I got home today, Stef and Sheena were watching "Fantastic 4". I'm guessing the comic was better. The movie was.... less than fantastic. And not to bring this old joke up, but whoever cast Jessica Alba as the invisible woman (girl?) is clearly confused about something. Joke aside, the scenes of her staggering around because using her fantastic power has left her drained were about high school drama quality. Or maybe church skit.

Hey, did I mention how much I like my painted space marine? I did? Oh.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

First Book Syndrome

I watched "Memoirs of a Geisha" last night with Stef. I'm guessing the book was better. More on the movie after a tangent.

I really like Amy Tan. I first read an excerpt of her writing in a college Lit class, and sought out a novel. I read "The Kitchen God's Wife" first, and enjyoed it greatly. I went on to read "The Hundred Secret Senses," "The Bonsetter's Daughter," and at some point in there "The Joy Luck Club." At the beginning of every new author's first book, they should be presented with two choices, and forced to check one. Only one.

O I had an idea for a story.
O I have some things I want to get off my chest.

The Joy Luck Club falls squarely into the second of those. Yes, it's fiction, but it carries so much baggage that it's almost an "I have to get this out of the way" book. The other three novels of hers I have read (and I see that she has two more! Where have I been from 2003-2005?) were so much more entertaining, simply becuase the scope was defined and adhered to. I haven't seen the movie of The Joy Luck Club, but I hear it's a quintessential (etymology, please?) chick flick. That alone has kept me from recommending Amy Tan to many friends, especially those with a counter-culture bend. "Isn't she the Joy Luck something lady?" Yes. Yes, she is.

Okay, so something about MoaG struck me as oddly familiar, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Duh. Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang. That's it, I'm going to drop $10 on a copy of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I'll bet Spielberg tried to get Chow Yun Fat for the part that Ken Watanabe played too. But, about the movie.... it wasn't really bad, and it was well acted, but it just failed to evoke any emotion from me. And I am not a difficult person in whom to evoke emotion.

For sitting through the entire rant, here is your >reward<.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sooooo close.

I am really excited about how this is turning out. The red tabard works so much better than the white one, and the damaged spots look better after judicious application of a little black ink.

I keep looking at the picture and smiling. All I need to do is some detail work, the basing (keeping that simple) and the back banner, and he'll be done. After this fellow, I need to complete the current order of dwarfs, then an Usagi Yojimbo mini for a friend at work, then comes the Black Templar sergeant. Then the Rune Priest. Then the Terminator Chaplain.

Somewhere in the middle I'll probably start my Mini Exchange mini. I don't think I can ignore them that long... they are just too cool. I should post a pic. (sigh... and excuse to use the light tent!)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Oh, yes. Much better.

This fellow is shaping up about as well as I could expect. It is very encouraging that each thing I've painted lately has seemed like the best thing I've painted so far. The chest scroll is such a marked improvement over last night's train wreck. Please enjoy my flounderings.

Mark was over tonight assembling his Mercenary Warmachine group. Those are nice models, with a very different flair than the other armies. I'm still a sucker for my Menoth. We took pics of his Dark Eldar Wych for CMON. Link is >here<. I'm still amazed at the quality of the pics in that light tent. Best. Purchase. Ever.

I'm feeling a little bit of painting guilt.... I need to finish Bill's Dwarfs (especially the ones he has already paid me for) and I really want to get started on the great minis that Naukhel sent me for Mini Exchange 8. Speaking of which, blackfly has not yet responded to my PM's about whether or not he got what I sent. I don't know if he's ignoring me (maybe he didn't like them) or maybe he just hasn't had time to get on and respond. Either way it leaves me uncertain.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

How not to freehand "ULTRA"

I've decided to post a number of WIP pics for this fellow. The highlights on the blue are working out alright. (Are they? Any CMON'ers who wander in here, can you even see them?) I have no excuses for the poor execution of the word "ULTRA" across the front of the mini. While inscribing "ULTRA" across ones chest may seen odd (read: stupid) it is a fairly common sight with this chapter, and since I plan on selling this one I might as well stick to canon. Rest assured, the little banner was back to being solid color by the time I put the paints away. I'll try again with the micron pens tomorrow.

I think of Ultramarines as the more "in the trenches" basic soldier than some of the other chapters, so this fellow is getting battle damage. The scratch marks above the eyes worked out well, if I do say so myself. I am resolved to merely simulate damage with paint, but have been told by a couple people to just gouge up the mini and paint the gouges. I just can't bring myself to do that, so all depth in the gouges is purely illusion.

I found out today that my younger brother carves things from wood. I would love to try and paint something he carved, but the amount of work that goes into the carving makes the painting high pressure.

Side note... this brother, John, had gastric bypass surgery 18 months ago or so. I almost didn't recognize him today at my parents' house. I don't see him that much, since he lives in the Soo, but the change is remarkable. I am apparently now the fat one in the family.

Two things...okay, maybe three.

The auction of the chaplain didn't go as high as I would have liked, but I really can't complain. People only pay for what they can see, and the pics weren't top notch. Granted, the painting wasn't top notch either, but enough people at work told me that the photos don't do the mini justice that I've taken steps to improve the photography.

Behold, at upper left, a picture of my work in progress (WIP) Ultramarine sergeant. It was photographed in my new light tent, a 12" cubic enclosure that distributes light wonderfully inside. As you can see, it can facilitate a very distinct photo of a very small item. One main challenge now is to learn to use the Ott light properly. The reds in the front part of the eye lens looked might lighter under the Ott light, so I must remember to look at the mini under different lighting conditions to ensure that I don't spend an hour blending reds on eye lenses (cough*tonight*cough) only to find that the blending is invisible without the tiny simulated sun of the Ott light.

Just for a moment, I would like to blather on about "employee contribution" to health care. One of my relations was going on about how unrealistic it is in today's world for teachers in some-district-or-other to not have to pay for at least part of their own health insurance, that to have their employer pay for all of it was some sort of anachronism that shows a disconnect from reality.

I don't subscribe to his point of view.

You cost your employer x dollars. That's how you are seen in the whole accounting scheme: a cost of x dollars, representing your total compensation. Whether 90% of x is paid to you in cash and 10% of x is paid to a health care provider on your behalf or 100% of x is paid directly to you does not change the value of x. My employer does not require me to write checks to Blue Cross for my health insurance. If tomorrow they told me that I would be responsible for $100 a month of my health care costs, the term for that is pay cut. A decrease in total compensation. X has changed at that point. If health care costs increase, that is the equivalent of a pay increase. Again, x has changed. Why is total compensation so hard to grasp?

One more thing... I've heard people claim that because some people don't see the actual costs of their health care, they are more likely to go to the doctor frivolously, wasting the health provider's money. Again, not a position I support. As an analogy, are you more likely to eat the sandwich that someone brings to your house and puts in your fridge or the sandwich that you bought at the store? I would assert that the money paid for the second sandwich leads to a desire to get one's money's worth out of it, whereas the seemingly free sandwich may be taken for granted. I take some of my health care benefits for granted. That is truth. If I had chosen my own health care policy and had written a check for each and every benefit I would be darn sure that I was getting my money's worth out of that policy. There is a layer of abstraction between me and the cost of the benefits since everyone in our local receives (and pays) the same. Perhaps what the above claimants actually want to see is a higher deductible for services, just to add a little pain to the process. Or maybe they just don't like things that seem free, but really aren't. I suppose there are people who get upset that pro wrestling is scripted too.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Far from worthwhile

The auction is up to $5.50, just slightly over half the retail price of the unpainted mini. I suppose I should gratified that my paintjob has robbed the mini of less than half of its value.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Purchases, purchases

As I said before, Warmachine has been the recent addition to the gaming with the work crew. Brian and Jamie came over Friday night, and Brian and I played a great game of his Khador vs. my Menoth. I'm guessing he had fun too, because Saturday he went to Riders and bought the Cygnar starter box, the Hordes rulebook and a Skorne starter box for Hordes. Hordes is the sister game of Warmachine, and the rules are almost identical. You can actually fight a Hordes army against a Warmachine army with no special rule translation. We are clearly a bunch of Privateer Press fans now.

Am I a victim of eBay hubris? My Space Marine Chaplain (no picture this time... sorry!) is only going for $3.26 currently. I really thought this would be a seller, given the model and the chapter it represents. As things sit, I have actually lowered the value of the mini by $6.74 by painting it.

I have wanted a light tent for a while, and I realized that I had $30 in my PayPal account, refunded by the place where we were going to have Lily and Jay's party. In a fit of poor judgement, I purchased one on eBay. Now I have a 12" cube light tent on the way to use in mini photography, which hopefully will improve the next four auctions.

Friday, June 09, 2006

How to Ruin Primer

Remember when I mentioned the super glue accelerant last night? Well, being the intelligent guy I am I thought, "I should rinse these off before priming them, since I don't know what effect the accelerant will have on the primer." So, I ran them under the faucet for a few seconds, being careful not to get the basing wet (since they are based mostly in cork, and I was afraid something would happen to the cork if it got wet.)

Okay, for the record, priming wet minis is a bad idea. It's not that they were dripping wet, just a drop or two in some areas. Each drop formed a little wall that paint sits on, trapping the water and preventing the mini from being properly primed in that spot. There are also a couple rough spots that may have been tiny droplets that I couldn't see. I think I can recover from this be hitting those areas with brush-on primer, so it's not a disaster.

Glitter Carnage, et al.

Stef has a migraine this morning, so I'm home while she has an Imitrex moment. Sarah suddenly decided that she needs to make Lily a birthday card (since Lily was five on Sunday I can certainly understand the pressing need. Lily marks 10% off your grade for each day late, I hear.) To make said card, she absolutely needed glitter. I think with Stef down this was her golden moment. She knew exactly where the glitter was, and she has a semi-plausible reason to use it. All that was left is to spring the plan on Dad.

Once Lily saw Sarah using glitter, she had to use it too. In a perfect world for girls ages five to seven, I believe they would choose to eat glitter, sleep in glitter, and construct families from glitter. And flowers. Flowers made from glitter.

Here's the mistake part: I left them unattended for a few minutes. The scene of carnage when I returned was epic. They had somehow used about five cubic inches of glitter both on their little "projects" and in just haphazard piles on the table. Think about it. It's just a guess, but a realistic one. Five cubic inches. I believe I read somewhere that if you were to stack the glitter particles end to end, that would be enough glitter to stretch from Green Bay to St. Louis.

Oh, and Jay is two years old today. We're not making a big deal out of it since his party is tomorrow. No need to confuse the little guy.

Warmachine Takes Root

Bill, Brian and I went to Rider's Hobby yesterday to buy Bill a "Butcher" for his ogre army. The official Games Workshop butcher was... get this.... $35 for a single metal model. It may be big (by mini standards... 3" tall maybe) but $35?!??! He couldn't bring himself to buy it. He did, however, bring himself to buy the Warmachine "Cryx" starter box for the same price. Brian, never one to pass up doing what everyone else is doing, picked up the Khador box. We figured we could eventually strong-arm Paul into Cygnar at some point, but no hurry there. Paul bought in when we started playing warhammer, and he just never quite took to painting. I think of all his minis, two horses have painted saddles. Everything else is either plain metal or primed white.

Anyway, back to Warmachine. The $35 box is enough to actually play the game. This is a far cry from warhammer, where a $35 box will get you most of a unit, four or five of which can be arranged into a small game. Warmachine is smaller in scale, so a box of four, large metal models is enough to start playing. I'm sure we'll expand if the initial experiences are good. So then I found myself compelled to assemble my Menoth starter force tonight, just in case we can play tomorrow. My fingers still have that horrid smell from the super glue accelerant on them.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Not the Best of Mornings

Here's one I didn't expect: I crave the approval of people I have never met. It's true. Of 51 people who decided to indicate what they thought of this mini, the majority said "meh... 6." When it was at 6.8 I was quite pleased, but 6.1 is downright depressing. And now that it has 51 votes, it won't show up in the randomization. 6.1 is its new home.

In addition to that, the ebay price remains $1.00. There's a lot of time left in the auction, so I'm not too freaked out about that yet. See you in 8 days about that one.

Let us, for just a moment, do a comparison. Both of these are mine. By now, I'm sure you are sick and tired of seeing the chaplain. Trust me... this is the last time.

Who would rate the top mini higher than the bottom?!?

Okay, time to stop whining. I have four more minis that I am commited to painting for ebay. Maybe I'll just skip posting them on CMON until after the ebay sale. I'm starting to get on my own nerves with all the whining.

In other news, I dragged myself in to work in the nick of time for a meeting, only to have nonbody else show up. Nice job, coworkers. This place can be such a joke.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

...and the auction begins.

Project: Send the Howell's to Family Camp is underway. I posted the Chaplain on ebay tonight, and got a starting bid within the first half-hour. Granted, the starting bid was only $1, but it's a start. Now, if I can get it to go up by $1 per hour for ten days, everything will be set for camp.

I really like the way the gem on his chest turned out. The light sourcing on the eyes is effective, too. I was afraid it would be either invisible or way too bright.

Also on the plus side, I found out how to set my camera for bulb-condition white balance. I'm getting better at the photo game, but there's still an indistinct quality to my pics that I can't explain. When Mark brings over his mother's new camera I'll be able to find out if it's just my camera, which is 5 years old now.

So go bid on ebay auction 8824046297 !! Now! (I know this blog is read by hundred of 40k players. I just know it.)

...and just so that nobody forgets, these things are really small.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

3:00 AM is not "brain time"

I finished the Chaplain last night after getting a few tips on CMON. I think the final product looks good... better than anything I've painted so far, I'd say. The problem is, yet again, the photograph. I think I proved yesterday that I can take a decent picture with the lighting I have now (two clip lights with daylight incandescent bulbs and my Ott light) but what I took last night is rubbish. Of course at 3:00 AM when you're trying to post something on eBay, these sorts of things escape your attention. What looks so poor today looked pretty good then. No, I was not drunk.

Thankfully my fatigue riddled mind made the auction delayed (I didn't want it to end in the middle of the night) so I was able to get in this morning and set it back another day. I had also posted the mini on CMON last night, and that entry got deleted this morning. I will go home, reshoot the photos, and repost.

My dad used to say, "Nothing good happens after midnight." I don't really believe that's the case, but I will agree that things don't get any smarter after midnight.