So it seems to be a regular occurrence - I decide to get in shape, I post about it, I stick with it briefly, and I slack off. Well, my last attempt was in May, so it's about time I get back to it!
I'm actually a bit late in coming to LJ about this, as I half started in November, with the new job. But knowing full well that anything new I started wouldn't survive the holidays and vacation, I put things on a slow burn, and now that February is here it's time to get things moving.( The rebootCollapse )( The changesCollapse )
The one thing I did forget to do was set a reference weight before I started everything. I did hop on the scale this morning and it registered 220.2 - slightly under where I left off last May - so I'll take that as a positive. I still have a lot more I'd like to lose, but I'm really trying to focus on fitness rather than weight.
So we'll see. This may be another failed attempt, something that peters out in a few months. I have a cautious optimism this time though, as there are outside factors that haven't been there in the past, and I'm really trying to approach this as a life change, not a temporary push to fix a problem. Hopefully it'll all come together.
This past week was the long awaited "big trip to Disney". Part of me had been dreading this trip from the day we planned it, considering all the drama there was in my family about going to Disney last year. That still hasn't recovered, and I just had a feeling that even with my family drama out of the picture, this want going to be a stress free trip.
And sadly, I was right. There is a long history of drama and arguments in any extended vacation with Ceri's family, and this one was true to form - right down to the fact that no one was really speaking to each other by the end. I think Ceri is still mad at me, and we've been home for 4 days.
The biggest issue is that Ceri and her mom are like oil and water - they just don't mix. Ceri's mom has a lot of habits that drive Ceri crazy, and that drives her stress through the roof. I end up reacting to that, which only makes things worse, until finally something blows.
This time it was two prime things. The first is the issue of Pidge's behavior. Ceri's mom wants to go easy on him, but Ceri and I refuse to let him get away with things just because it's vacation. So Ceri's mom harps because we're too hard on him, but then complains if he misbehaves when we aren't there. Ceri and I had two days where we went to swim with the manatees, which meant that Pidge was with Ceri's mom. We get back to hear about how Pidge and K never listened, and that she just couldn't handle it, but she then proceedef to undermine us through the rest of the week when Pidge would get in trouble.
The second part is a long running issue. Ceri's mom is a plan freak, but she's the worst kind in that she doesn't want to do the planning. So she harps on Ceri to plan everything, and then complains when everything didn't go the way she wants it. She piles on top of that in that she is constantly asking questions and adding in little critiques, and it just drives Ceri nuts.
I'm not exactly guilt free with everything that went wrong this trip, but the fact that Ceri and I can vacation for two weeks with everything going smoothly, yet we can't go three days without an argument when Ceri's parents are involved leads me to believe I'm not the main issue.
So there it is - Pidge's first vacation to Disney, and all I have to say is that I hate traveling with Ceri's parents. Which only reinforces why I hate traveling with Ceri's parents.
I know I've talked on a lot here about being Phoenix - sometimes I feel like it's all I talk about. I swear - there's more to my life than that! But I think part of it is that LJ is a place where I can come and talk about it more easily, because let's face it - I can't exactly talk to my parents or the people at work about the difficulties in coming out as trans to my son, and while I can certainly talk to my friends, I sometimes feel like a broken record.( Blah blah blahCollapse )
So I dunno. Honestly, a lot of this is probably just in my own head, and won't be a thing. But I guess only time will tell.
So yeah, f'nerf - just having one of those days where I want to whine a little.
As sometimes happens, I woke up this morning really feeling my Phoenix. So I got up, let the dogs out, and threw on some leggings, a sweater dress and heeled boots. Wig and jewelry but no make up - I didn't want to deal with washing it off before work. This isn't actually anything all that out of the ordinary, I get dressed in the morning maybe 2 or 3 times a week, and I just change before I have to go to work. But for some reason, that feeling had really stuck with me, and I've found myself dwelling on Phoenix today.
I know part of it is slow work. That lets my mind wander around, and it's no surprise that it'd linger on Phoenix when I woke up feeling that way, but it's still lingering a little longer than usual. And I can't help but think how much I'd love to be able to come to work dressed.
I know that's a long way off, if at all, and that that's a process that is moving along. We've introduced Pidge to Phoenix in photos, so he's seen me, just not in person. That step is coming soon, and from there is just easing into it - slowly increasing the time and places I'll go as Phoenix. I know Ceri is still very nervous there, but she's slowly coming around to the idea of Phoenix as someone that exists outside of the occasional evening in.
But, even knowing that change is coming, I still have a sense of loss for the change that hasn't happened yet, and the change that may never happen.
So yeah. F'nerf.
So, I've been at the new job for about 2 months now. It's still a bit slow - the big Revit project I was brought on for has stalled, and likely won't start until after the holidays. But aside from that, things have been okay. A bit of an adjustment, but okay. The two big things have been the personal relationships, and the difference in office policies.
Probably the hardest part was getting used to a new group of people. I liked the people I worked with - and after working with them for over 6 years, I was closer to some of them than I am to my own family. And on top of losing that, I'm now in a new office, with new people, needing to overcome my general introvert and adjust to new names, faces and personalities. It's been an okay transition, but it still leaves me a little worn out and a little lonely during the day. I know time will fix it, but until then - f'nerf.
The new office has also brought some other differences - because every firm handles different things differently. The first is that I'll be getting paid hourlyish, which is a big difference. The big thing is that it means I'll get overtime pay again, which could be quite lucrative if these Revit jobs kick up. The downside is that they're more attentive to time spent, and there's a bigger push to make time productive. No big deal if I had tons of work, but since the Revit projects haven't hit yet, I'm a bit nervous about having to do non-billable work. There's a certain understanding for now, but that'll only last so long.
This office also had a much stricter internet policy - they've really locked things down. It's a big part of why I haven't been on LJ as frequently - I can't access it at work, and accessing it on the phone is sub par. But aside from LJ, it detracts a bit from the "we're all professionals" feeling, it's a bit more "we need to watch what you do", which is kind of draining. Granted, I do have my phone, so it's not like I'm cut off from the outside world, but still - f'nerf.
And frankly, 2016 hasn't helped. Too many people from my childhood have passed away, and our country has elected someone that ran on a platform of hate and bigotry. In my almost 41 years, I've always been the stupid optimist, and yet I just don't have that right now. So yeah, f'nerf.
|» Trump and Phoenix|
So, at this point everyone knows that Trump won the election. There's still the "impeach him" and "change the electoral college" hopeful, but realistically it is what it is. I have a long list of reasons why I think he'll be bad for the country - starting with the Nazis - and I could rant for days about him. But the truth is that while I generally don't agree with him, most of the stuff he does the country will weather. But on one topic - the topic of the LGBT community - I can't sit by.|
Being trans is something that I've always kind of known. As far back as middle school, I liked borrowing clothes from my mom's closet and pretending I was a woman. Granted, back in the late 80s in Nowheresville CT, I had no idea that this could even be a thing. I knew what I felt, but from what I could tell no one else felt this way. So I hid it. It's always been my dirty little secret - something that some people knew, but most didn't, and I was scared to death of how people, especially my parents, would react if they found out. But even though I rarely admitted it, I always dreamed about being able to publicly be female. Once my parents found out, it became a lot easier for me to act on it, but it was still something that I tried to keep as secondary in my life - I hate confrontation, and I didn't want to be in people's faces about it.
But especially now with a looming Trump presidency, and the apparent push against LGBT rights that's sure to follow, I've really decided that this isn't something that I can leave on the back burner. Honestly, I know too many Trump supporters that don't see the harm in some of what he's proposing, so I intend to make it very personal - I want to make them understand that they know someone that may be drastically affected by their vote. I want them to see that this isn't just something that affects some "other people".
Now certainly, a lot of people have said that this won't be an issue - Trump held a rainbow flag, everything will be okay! Thing is, I don't believe it. And this isn't just a "head in the sand" denial - I'm basing it on a lot of what he's done, as far as campaign promises and cabinet choices. His VP funneled federal dollars to support gay conversion therapy. His health secretary has a long history of opposing LGBT rights. His attorney general opposes gay marriage and LGBT job protections. Trump himself has said that he favors so called "religious freedom" laws that are usually used to allow discrimination, and he's said that he feels that a lot of it should be up to the state, which means that the next state to pass an HB2 - the federal government won't step in and say "hey, that's discriminatory". So has Trump technically said that he's going to take away LGBT rights? Not yet. But he's stacked the deck in that favor.
So with that being said, there's very much a "the time is now" feeling. So I came out loud and clear on facebook and to the parts of my family that may not have known. I directly confronted my parents, who only knew in a vague sense. And I've decided that I'm just not going to sit by and let comments go - I'm not going to sit in the shadows anymore. Now's the time to embrace Phoenix, rather than leaving her as a side note.
It's also led to an interesting shift in Ceri. She's always been extremely supportive of LGBT rights, but was struggling a little with Phoenix - as she represents major changes in Ceri's life as well. But one thing about Ceri is that she has a big mama bear side, and she does not take kindly to things that may hurt her family. So seeing me step forward really gave her a push to step up behind me, and as she put it - "get her head out of her ass and really support Phoenix". She bought me a ring that is a silver band, with a small rainbow of stones set in it, and she's been far more encouraging of me being Phoenix at night. She's even approached the idea with Pidge - something we've been cautious about - realizing that we need to be fully honest with him, and make sure that we raise him in such a way that he is loving and tolerant. His reaction was funny - why does daddy look like a girl? - and we just explained to him that it's something that I like doing, it's part of who I am, and he was just okay with that.
So from here on out, hiding Phoenix is just done.
So, despite my best efforts, I think Blindfury has successfully snookered me into another minis game.|
It's been a longstanding issue of mine. I love minis games - they've been in my life blood since high school. 40K, Blood Bowl, Warhammer Fantasy, Flames of War, Warmachine, Necromunda, Bolt Action... the list of games I want to play is long, far longer than the amount of time I have to play them. But I am a minis guy, and it's really easy for me to be drawn into the latest shiny thing. I always start dreaming up the terrain, and the minis, and then I snap out of it - I already have tons of games I don't have time to play, so I really need another minis game? Apparently the answer is yes.
I first heard about Frostgrave from my brother. He's just as bad as I am, and this was one that he had come across as a potential for one of the times we went out to visit. The game looked fairly simple - fantasy themed warbands skirmishing it out - and there was something about the rules that reminded him of the old Rogue Trader days. Last time I was out we talked about playing, but got sucked into a long game of Bolt Action instead, so I had managed to hold off on getting into Frostgrave just yet.
Enter Blindfury. He's been trying to get more active in the gaming scene at his friendly local game store, and joined a Warmachine league there. Along with that, someone suggested a Frostgrave league. I think his initial reaction was the same as mine - not another minis game - but he was sold on at least trying it. It'd be easy to get into for a couple games - any old fantasy minis will do, and scenery can be whatever you have. It doesn't need to be fancy. So he signed on. I was still determined to hold out, but one day while Ceri was travelling, Pidge and I stopped by to watch the end of a game before heading out to dinner. It was very interesting to watch - people seriously did bring just about any minis to the table - one guy even used legos. And the game seemed to have a very good flow to it - turns were quick, actions resolved easily, and even though there were four people playing, it didn't seem to bog down. So what the hell, I figured I'd give it a try. Since I was briefly out of work for those couple weeks, Blindfury made a strong pitch, I'd head over around lunch so we could play a game, and then we'd all do dinner that night. I couldn't pass that up.
Overall, I really enjoyed the game we played. It really was quick - from building our warbands from scratch to game over was only about two hours. I was able to dig up a lot of my older fantasy themed scenery that had been sitting idle since we've mostly been playing Flames of War, and I grabbed a half dozen skeletons from my old WFB army. I made a quick necromancer warband, Blindfury put together his, and we fought.
Again, I was pleasantly surprised by how streamlined the game was. I like the alternating turn structure they have, where wizards go, then apprentices, then soldiers; by alternating back and forth like that one player doesn't get the chance to run rampant for a turn while the other just watches. All of the skill checks came down to straight up d20 rolls, and any sort of attack was resolved with an opposing d20 roll. So it was quick - roll vs roll and done, either it worked or it didn't. No requiring four rolls to resolve something, and there wasn't any digging through rule books to sort things out. And since the warbands are limited to ten miniatures, turns go quick, which means that the game ends up moving very quickly. Like I said, we were done in about two hours, and that was as my first game.
So yeah, I got suckered. The game was tons of fun. The game play was simple but not too simple, flowed well, and I liked that I can get into it with stuff that I already have. Granted, I've started printing out some more appropriate terrain, because the board is supposed to be jam packed with ruined buildings. Fortunately I have easy access to that sort of thing through one of the kickstarters R and I backed, so it's really easy to piece stuff together. It also has the side benefit of being useful for Warmachine if we decide to bring that out - multi-purpose is an easy sell for me when it comes to making new stuff. Although I will admit that I am tempted to grab some minis to specifically use as my warband, as my skeleton army was a little lacking in distinct variety, but even if I do go ahead with that I know that I'll only be making a minimal investment. I've even looked into 3d printed options, but I know that if I take that route quality will take a big hit. Then again, if I'm just looking for something that's cheap and reasonable, it may still suit my needs. I'm not really looking for another painting project yet, so any sort of identifiable mini will do. We'll see what I can find.
|» Girls' night out|
Now that Ceri and I are better working through the intricacies of Phoenix, I feel like we're starting to reach a better place about it all. One of the things that has been such a conundrum for Ceri is that she is obviously very supportive of LGBT rights, and is very supportive of people doing what they feel is right. The issue is the crossroads of that with what impact it'll have on her personal life. But with that in mind, she's really wanted to be encouraging to me, and so she took a planned night out with her friend G (who knows all about Phoenix), and said that she'd stay home with Pidge while G and I went out.|
( A night outCollapse )
But all in all, it was a fantastic evening. I felt 100% comfortable as Phoenix all night, heels and all, and just never felt like there was a time where there was some sort of issue with me as Phoenix. Either no one noticed, or what was more likely was that no one was bothered by it, and I was able to have a fun night of dinner, talking and shoes. It's definitely something I look forward to doing again, and not even necessarily limited to just G and I - I'd love for Ceri to come along, or even if it was with some other friends or colleagues of her. I just really look forward to the idea of going out for a night as Phoenix again.
|» Here and back again, my time briefly unemployed|
I've been meaning to come here and sit and write about this for awhile. It's obviously a major life shift, and that's the stuff I really want to get down, but it's been the kind of life shift that leaves little time for self reflection until later.|
So, on October 17th, I lost my job at K. I've been there for about six and a half years, starting as a senior engineer, and moving up to project manager about a year and a half ago. The transition to PM was a bit tough - all of a sudden I didn't have someone watching over me, and I was not just more responsible for my work, but I was responsible for other people's work. But even though it was a rough move, and the past year had some times that were really rough, I still felt like everything was going mostly okay. So needless to say I was a bit shocked when I was told I was being let go.
( What happenedCollapse )
( The aftermathCollapse )
( InterviewsCollapse )
So in the end, I'm starting at SVA this coming Monday. It only took about a week and a half, and I opted to give myself an extra week of mini vacation before starting again. That bonus week has proven to be nice - giving me a chance to play some games and do some hobby stuff that I've been meaning to get to. But that's just about done, although part of me is looking forward to getting back into the work routine. The first few days or maybe weeks will be interesting, just in settling in and getting used to all of the new faces. But I'm looking forward to starting with a clean slate.
|» Hit with some funk|
And I'm not talking about the kind with a groovy beat.|
A couple days ago, I was coming back to the office from a meeting, and a portion of the road by the parking garage was blocked off - yellow police tape, and probably a half dozen police cars. As I worked my way through the garage to bypass it so I could get home, it was hard to see what was going on - a bunch of police cars, probably a dozen cops milling around, and a little blue barricade set up at the sidewalk.
I got a text from a coworker and found out what happened - someone had jumped from the top of the parking garage. At least that was the rumor - there was speculation that it could have been someone was pushed, or maybe something else that had happened. The only known fact was that it was someone dead on the sidewalk.
Coming in this morning, I noticed bunches of flowers sitting next to a 'No Parking' sign, and today at lunch we heard some more details - it was a 21 year old student at Goucher, his girlfriend had just broken up with him. He had left a note, apparently saying that he just couldn't go on now that he didn't have his girlfriend.
This really has thrown me for a bit, just kinda taken by the sadness of it all. I obviously didn't know the person, but still - the fact that it happened right outside our office, an area that I've walked through hundreds of times, just adds a fair amount of realism and gravity to the whole thing. This isn't wobbly cell phone video from someplace I've never heard of, or some fictitious scene from a TV show. Shoot, I may have even walked past him.
Now, I know that I'm generally not one that's prone to depression, so there's a lot here that I don't understand - I've never reached that point where dying seemed like the best option. I don't know this kid or his situation, but I can't help but be struck by how sad the whole thing is - that there wasn't more to this kid's life, that there wasn't someone that could have maybe talked him out of it. I mean, only 21. He was still just a kid.
|» More Phoenix|
So it's been an interesting two weeks. Granted, anything that involves the relation of Phoenix and WMTG tends to be interesting in at least some way, but this has been even more than usual.|
( Phoenix and CeriCollapse )
( Defining thingsCollapse )
So Ceri and I obviously need to keep on top of things, and I think that's totally doable. In the mean time, I think Phoenix needs to go grab a snack from the vending machine - or this trip to NC just wouldn't be complete. :)
|» Phoenix gets a burrito|
As seems to be happening with some frequency, I had another trip to NC. And with that, of course, came a chance to let Phoenix stretch her legs. So with that in mind I packed appropriately, including dress, black heels, and all the makeup and accessories.|
For a dress this time, I heisted something of Ceri's. It's a dress I've borrowed before and really liked, and I figured that it'd be a good option. It's a black and white pattern, ankle length, and with a halter neck. It's a bit more subdued than the blue dress that got me an "oh baby", but that was intentional - I was planning on being out for more than a quick walk at dusk, so I wanted something that was slightly less attention grabbing. It's a bit of a conundrum really - I like wearing short uber-feminine dresses and high heels, but I'm also cautious about drawing too much attention.
So the morning was the usual flight, long drive, walking the site. I skipped out on lunch, I wasn't really hungry and figured that I'd may be able to finish up a little early. I ended up wrapping around 3:00, so I went to the hotel to settle in. I took a quick bath and shaved, and decided to get dressed. I did hesitate a bit - as getting dressed meant that I was going to have to confront the idea of grabbing a meal as Phoenix, but I decided to get dressed anyway. I was nervous, I wasn't 100% confident in being able to pass as Phoenix, but by the time I was done and made up I was feeling better. So I piddled around for a bit more when I really started to get hungry, saw it was getting close to 5:00, and I headed out for dinner.
I was a little nervous before heading out. Since it was still afternoon, it was nice and bright out - no convincing myself that I could get by because it was dusk. And I didn't have to wait long to find out - there was a gentleman riding the elevator down as I got on. I got a very pleasant "hello ma'am, which floor?" followed by a brief conversation about the fact that the main lobby was on the second floor instead of the first floor, and how that could be confusing. He hopped off on the second floor with a "have a good day", and I continued down to the first floor. I walked out, and walked about a block to a little mexican restaurant that was nearby. I walked in, got a table for one, and ordered myself a veggie burrito and an iced tea.
I felt fairly comfortable sitting there and eating. I think the waitress may have accidentally said 'sir' at one point, but I don't know if that actually happened, or if it was just me being paranoid. It's one of those things - I have a fair amount of paranoia when I'm dressed up, mostly because of the dreaded "what if" scenarios. For example, tonight, I'd find myself thinking - is it that the waitress is making eye contact because she's trying to figure out if I'm trans, or is it because she's an attentive waitress? You never really know. The biggest thing for me is in trying to act normal, despite my paranoia, because I figure if I'm acting nervous it'll only draw more attention.
But either way, I sat there eating my dinner and playing on my phone, until I was stuffed and ready to go back. So I paid my tab with cash (didn't want any uncomfortable ID situations), and walked back to my room, where I'll settle in for the evening. So there it is - another day done, another new Phoenix experience.
|» Some quality range time|
So it's been too long since we've all made it out to the range. We were supposed to be Pidge-less this labor day weekend, so Ceri, Blindfury and I made arrangements to get out and put some holes in paper. Granted, we ended up with Pidge, but were able to arrange some baby sitting so that we were still able to get out as planned.|
Ceri was more than happy to set up in a lane by herself, with 4 boxes and some targets. She played around with her stance some, finding that she felt more comfortable with the old school squared up at the target stance. Putting her revolver out in front of her gave her a more consistent sight picture, and gave her more consistent results. The one issue was having though, was in her arm - she has cubital and carpal tunnel in her right arm, which leads to lots of problems with her grip and sense of touch. Surgery to fix that is coming soon, but she definitely noticed that she was having a harder time really feeling what she was doing, and it showed.
Blindfury and I set up on a lane next to Ceri. BF had brought his shotgun and a .22 revolver, and I had my 1911. We started with the shotgun - a Remington 1100 that he inherited through a friend. It was in sad shape when Blindfury got it, so he cleaned it up, replaced the stock and forend, and added a recoil absorber. He put a few shots through it, and it shot beautifully. I took my turn, and noticed a huge difference compared to BFs other shotguns. Between the weight of the gun, and the recoil pad, it didn't have a lot of kick to it. The second shot gave me a good startle though, as there was a bright flash out the side as the shell ejected. Turns out that it's super cheap ammo that Blindfury was using, and so there was likely just a small amount of powder still burning when it ejected. So nothing major, but it definitely gave me a start.
After the shotgun, Blindfury and I alternated - him on his .22 and me on my 1911. Blindfury's .22 is nice - it's a single action Ruger, with fiber optic sights on it. The loading and unloading is a nuisance, since it uses a loading gate rather than a swing our cylinder, and that means individually loading and unloading each round. But I love the sights on it - that fiber optic glows, and makes it extremely easy to sight. I've never planned on doing a lot in terms of upgrades to my 1911, but new fiber optic sights may have to happen.
And I put a single box through my 1911. It took about a half dozen rounds to work the rust out, but after that I didn't really have any issues. I had one shot that failed to feed, but other than that it was smooth sailing. I even seem to have worked out a little bit of my usual bias to the side, as by the end all of my shots were clustered fairly close to center.
So all said and done, a nice day out. It reminds me of why I like getting out to shoot so much - it's a very enjoyable time. I just wish that there were more places to do it, so that a trip to the range wasn't a day trip. I also look forward to Pidge getting a little older - he's definitely shown interest in shooting, and I'd like to be able to get him into it.
|» 1200 Panzerschutzen vs Escadron de Reconnaissance - a preview|
Blindfury recently got his lovely French back from the painters, so after a quick stint in the desert, it's time to plan a fight in the fields of France. The 1200 point level we played last game was interesting, forcing us to make some decisions on army building since we couldn't just grab everything and duke it out, so we decided to stick with that for this go round.|
Two Panzerschutzen Platoons, each with two squads of Rifle/MGs, a light mortar and halftracks
A platoon of 4 P38s
A platoon of 4 Panzerjager 1s
A battery of 2 Pak 36s with trucks
The bad guys:
An H39 long gun HQ
Four Deep Reconnaissance Platoons, with 5 Panhards each
One Light Combat Platoon of 3 H39 long guns
One Platoon of 4 Laffly self propelled anti-tank guns
So that's a lot of vehicles coming my way. I have some decent armor and anti-armor to fight back, but my two Panzerschutzen squads will be limited in their effectiveness against all of those vehicles. I also don't have my beloved stukas, but I have a feeling that this fight will be too mobile for them to be very useful, and if I buy them with the Shwerepunkt they'd be 10% of my points - too much to spend for a unit that may not be effective.
So it should be interesting. I'm basically outnumbered 3 to 1, but I know that I have quality on my side. It'll also partially depend on the mission and terrain - our last game saw his vehicles tied up in a village, which completely negated their mobility.
So it's time to try and finish up some painting - with Blindfury's french looking so good, I'd hate to bring a pewter army. Fortunately I'm already about halfway there - I have one Panzerschutzen platoon painted, as well as my HQ, the P38s and the Panzerjagers. The Paks and halftracks have been started, so the big hurdle will be in getting that last Panzerschutzen platoon painted - all of those little german uniforms take forever. I'm also thinking of splurging on a 4'x6' game mat, since the armies and terrain will be nice and painted, I'd love to see them fighting on something other than a bare table.
|» fun with the printer|
Aside from all of the terrain ideas I had that made a 3D printer seem like an awesome idea, there was a part of me that saw potential for it in another hobby - cosplay. We aren't huge cosplay people, but enjoy going to the steampunk rail days up at Strasburg, and always enjoy going in garb to the Renn fest. Ceri is a whiz with fabric when it comes to making accessories and details for costumes, but especially for stuff like steampunk, I always had the idea that I could be able to design and print stuff.|
The one thing I really wanted to avoid was the "slap some gears on it" approach to steampunk. Sure, I could have easily printed out a bunch of gears, grabbed a hot glue gun, and "steampunked" a pair of goggles, but I've generally felt that if you're going to add gears and wires and stuff, they should look like they serve a purpose.
And so ever since I've had the printer, a part of me has been trying to think of things I can do that would be worthwhile and make sense. I've seen some really fantastic weapons and backpacks and stuff, but wanted something that wouldn't mean carrying around a prop. So after a lot of talking and thoughts, I settled on the idea of doing some sort of 'bionic' arm. Part of me is worried that I'm biting off more than I can chew, but I think that with my basic CAD abilities, I should be to put something together.
So yesterday I photocopied my hand for a template, drew up some cylinders with some hinge points, and printed a proof of concept finger. The end result was really rough - I printed it on the fastest setting - but generally worked. I did get my sizing off - what was supposed to be a pointer finger turned into a middle finger - but I could still put it on, and have a hinged piece of finger armor that would easily bend along with my finger.
So now that I know the idea works, it's time to neaten it up, and work on some details. Part of what I want to do to make it 'steampunk' is to add small hydraulic cylinder to the back of each finger, to look like external hydraulics are what is providing the motion. I figure I can easily print something for that, and it should be easy to CAD up mounting points so that it all fits together. Once I have the fingers done, I'll start designing further up - the hand, and ultimately up to the forearm.
For the hand, I'm probably only going to do a piece on the back. I could make a palm piece too, but I'm afraid that'd interfere with my ability to use my hand. As it stands I know I'm going to lose some range of motion, and I don't want to completely make my hand useless. I've already planned to build this for my left hand so that I still have my dominant hand free and clear, but I still want to have enough motion in my left hand to hold a burger or something.
I'm still not 100% sure on what I'm doing with the forearm. The idea is to build something that provides full coverage from the elbow down, and I like the idea of trying to work in something to hold my cell phone, so that it looks like some sort of integral machinery. But that's down the road a bit - I want to focus on having the hand complete and ready for Steampunk days, and I figure that I can always expand it later.
|» Reconsidering Gary Johnson|
So, there's obviously been a lot about this election, and the two less-than-desirable candidates that we've ended up with. And with that there's been a lot of griping about our two party system, and how there's no other viable candidate.|
And that's where Gary Johnson has stepped in. He's still not showing well in the polls, but he's been able to gain some traction in the "not Trump" republicans and in the "not Hillary" democrats, and it's possible that he'll be able to get his poll numbers high enough to get into the debates.
And I'll admit, as a Sanders supporter, he's said a lot of things I've liked to hear. Efficient government that stays out of people's personal lives - there's a nice ring to that. And he's definitely coming in as a 'clean' candidate, as opposed to Hillary and all of the scandals she's bringing with her (not to mention the new scandals with the corruption of the DNC). But there's something else that he's not really saying that has me turning away from him.
It's one of those niggling things about the Libertarian party. They are all about a federal government that stays out of the way. And on the surface that sounds okay, but the unasked question is - if the federal government stays out, then who steps in? And in the libertarian world view, that's the state.
When it comes down to it - I'm a die hard federalist. Certainly, the differences between our states can be considered one of our strengths. But I can't help but think that there is a lot that needs to be consistent across-the-board for our nation to be able to function. There's the obvious stuff like gun laws, which are extremely confusing to navigate from state to state. Then there's stuff like marriage laws, or equality laws, and allowing that to be settled on the state level with no federal oversight is an absolute disaster. I think about North Carolina, and HB2. What if the federal government had no ability to step in and say "hey, that's stupid". As it stands, we still have a lot of trouble with voter suppression laws in the south, that without a strong federal government would be flat out discriminatory and unconstitutional. And from what I understand of Johnson's platform, he'd work to decrease the authority of the federal government. I think that's just a bad idea.
Now, I know there's always the caveat of "he'd have to get it through the House and Senate", and that'd likely kill any real attempt he made at reducing the authority of the federal government. But still, it worries me.
So I dunno, but it looks like I'll end up voting Clinton. I don't like her - I think she's dishonest, and that she's done a lot of things that would have landed you or I in jail. But in the end, I'm not voting for her, I'm voting for her platform.
|» 3d printer madness!|
This past weekend has really seen the 3d printer come into it's own. I had wanted it for a long time, with this nebulous idea of hobby stuff I could do with it. But as with most Ideas, there was some effort in converting the idea into reality.|
I had done a couple things with it in the beginning - blood bowl dice and bases, and a couple walls that I had files for. But it wasn't until this latest kickstarter came through that it has really shown it's worth. My brother and I went in on a terrain kickstarter, WW2 and stone ruins and buildings, and included in that was a nice looking trench system. I've needed trenches for my Flames of War Italians, so I made a point of getting into this first.
One of the things I love about the printer is scalability. If I buy a packed piece of Flames of War terrain, I have that piece of terrain and that's it. I can't really use it for anything other than 15mm gaming - it's not going to find it's way onto a Warmachine table. But if I buy a file for that terrain, I can always just scale it and print it at whatever size I need. So even though the trenches were designed for 28mm games, I could size them down to be sized just right for a medium troop base, and stretch them into sections that are multiples of 2" in length - perfect for some flexibility in making my 8" trench sections.
I also love the overall cost difference in printing my own. One of the sad truths about miniatures gaming is that it's a niche market - there just aren't that many of us out there. Without high volumes to offset production costs, things tend to be more expensive. Looking at the trench example, a box set from Battlefront runs about $20, for 32" of trench. I can print about 80" of trench with a $25 spool of filament, and that doesn't take into account that my trenches are double sided, rather than the single sided trench that Battlefront does. So in reality, I can print 160" of trench for that $25 spool. Granted, my printed trenches still need to be painted, and there is certainly a time and money cost that will go into that, but that doesn't negate the cost benefit of printing my own terrain.
So after a weekend of printing, I have about 24" of trenches done, about half of what I'm looking at for the short term. Once I finish that, I'll start magnetizing and painting them, to make them 100% ready for gaming. I also need to piece a few trenches together to make a gun pit, and then I'll have all of the fortifications that my Italians need. Then all I'll need to do is make a chance to play another game.
So. Definitely feeling in a funk right now. It's the kind of funk that's been lingering for awhile, and the more I think about it, the more I think it may be a combination of funks.|
The first funk is the work funk. I try not to complain too much about work. It pays well, I like the people I work with it, and... well, for the most part, I like the work I do. Well, at least I used to. It feels like lately, I just haven't had the passion or desire to keep it up. I don't know if it's a couple bad apple projects, or just not liking the management side of the job, or what. But I've definitely made a slew of boner mistakes lately - the sort of mistakes that I just shouldn't be making. It definitely has me down, and reconsidering where things are at. Am I a bad engineer? Am I just bad at managing? Or is it other stresses that have been leaking into my work ethic that are just making me sloppy? It's really hard to say, likely because it's a combination of factors. I've definitely had a couple bear jobs - pain in the ass clients that just make me twitch thinking about it. I think that part of it was also that before I started managing, I always had DJF looking over my stuff. I think his safety net made it easier for me to get stuff done quickly, because I knew someone had my back, and I could just nose to the grindstone and work at a project. But lately, I've found myself just kinda work paralyzed - feeling like I have stuff to do but not sure exactly what it is, and I think as a result I've missed some stupid things. There's also personal stuff that's bleeding in, with my parents, and with Phoenix, things that make home life stressful on top of work life stressful. I tell myself that I just need to get a grip and get on with it, but I find myself thinking that maybe it's time that I take a step back. Maybe going back to being an engineer instead of a manager, or maybe looking for a different position somewhere else, so I can get a fresh start. I dunno. But what I do know is that I always used to be able to get up and go to work and find at least some joy in what I did. But lately, that joy just isn't there.
And then there's some complications with the whole Phoenix thing. As she becomes a more real part of my life, it puts Ceri, and eventually Pidge, through the very real loss of WMTG. I know I've often said that Phoenix and WMTG are just two sides of the same coin, but outside of my head I don't think it's that simple. For Ceri, it partially means redefining her - right now Phoenix represents someone that's a friend but not someone she's necessarily comfortable with as a partner. And so any increase in Phoenix represents a major shake-up in Ceri's life. Does this mean she's considered a lesbian? That's not something that's a part of who she is, and yet it is something I'm pushing on her. And it's not just that - it's everything. A basic part of what defined her may go away, and it's not that easy to just drop in someone else. And as for Pidge, I think he'd be okay with it now, but what does this do to his future past? Ten years down the road, looking at pictures of when we went to get him - it wouldn't be the same person that's living with him. His poor life is going to be complicated enough as the adopted African son of two white people. What does it do to make him the adopted African son of lesbian transgender parents? Is that something I can put him through?
And on the subject of parents, mine have also been back on topic. For a good part of the last year, I've been able to just ignore them. It's made the day to day blissful, but I should have known that it wasn't really going to last, and that I'm not sure that it should have lasted. But the last night of the trip to CO to see my brother, we all sat down after the kids went to bed, and ended up talking about my parents. It was a good talk in a lot of ways, but also made it very clear that my parents are in a place where they are growing older and are faced with limitations they never had, and that as much as there is between us right now, there should really be a certain amount of letting go. This was definitely put into point when my Uncle J died - he is the first of my parent's generation, and it certainly put a focus on the fact that their days aren't forever. And so I've called and talked to my dad since - just fluff talk to start - but the fact that that relationship is something I can't really ignore, it's brought the associated stress back into life.
So yeah. All things combined have certainly led me into a funk. And part of me tells myself to just get over it and to move on, and I'm sure that eventually I will. But until that eventually comes - funk.
|» Chain of Command|
This past week we made it out to visit my brother and his family in Colorado. It was nice to get out and visit, and to see the sights, and of course - to play some games.|
We played Chain of Command - a platoon level WW2 game. My brother is part of a local historical minis group, and they way they tend to play is that one person will have all of the rules and figures, so that one person can bring enough for everyone to play. As such, he had complete armies and terrain, and could easily whip together a scenario to play. So I grabbed germans and R grabbed americans, we set up a small village with some hedges and a small orchard, and we set off to play.
( Game detailsCollapse )
Overall, it was a very fun game - fun enough to have me thinking that I do need another game. Chain of Command is set to be usable with any scale, so theoretically I could use my Flames of War minis to play. But we played with 28mm figures, and I think for the scale of the game - just a couple platoons and an armored vehicle - I really enjoyed the size of the 28mm troops, especially the vehicles. I could definitely see myself building a couple of small armies that I could pull out for a quick game. R has the book in PDF version, so I'll likely sit down with that and see what options are out there.
|» 1200 Points Italians vs Indians - No Retreat!|
Blindfury and I made good use of our gaming opportunity, and were able to put lead to table in what turned out to be a very tough battle.|
My Poizone di Fucilleri:
Two Fortified Platoons, each with 2 squads, 2 HMG nests and a 47/32 nest
A platoon of 3 M11/39s
A battery of 4 75/27s in gun pits with observer
A battery of 4 100/17s in gun pits with observer
A platoon of 2 20/65 AA portees
Blindfury's Fourth Indian Rifle Company:
HQ with Sticky Bombs
2 Rifle Platoons, each with 3 sections and sticky bombs
2 platoons of HMGs
A platoon of 3 Valentines
Sporadic Air Interception
We set up on a pair of folding tables in Blindfury's recently renovated Man Cave, which gave us a solid 5'x6' table. It has me rethinking my gaming space - his tables folded up and were very compact, but were also extremely sturdy. I'm thinking that I may need to look at grabbing some for my game space as well, rather than trying to scratch build something. Especially if they're covered with something like a GripMat, it'd make an extremely portable table that looks really good too. But I digress.
( The mission - No RetreatCollapse )
In the end it was a great game. Some great dice and some bad dice, but I think the game did a good job of recreating the difficult task of taking out a defensive position, with all of the "if only"s that go along with a game.
We definitely screwed up a couple rules, which is to be expected when we only play once or twice a year. The big goof was that bunkers can't contest an objective, so that once my troops had fallen back in turn 3, Blindfury would have technically held the objective - my bunkers wouldn't have been able to contest, and the only unit in the area was pinned, so would not have been able to push back. My M11/39s made it in that turn, but they wouldn't have been able to move up quickly enough. I suppose that I could argue that if I had known that, I might have moved my other infantry over once it was clear that he was rushing the right flank, giving me more bodies to keep the objective. But that gets into a lot of second guessing, when the real point is that we goofed the rule.
We also forgot that tanks assaulting trenches need to make a bog check - a 1 in 6 chance that they'd get stuck. That likely wouldn't have changed much, but it falls under the "a bad dice roll and everything changes".
I think this is the first time we've really had a full blown fortification fight too, and it was interesting seeing how they played out. There are things I would have done differently setting up - I probably would have taken the empty side of the table, which would have given my artillery some direct fire chances, and would have made it easier for my reserves to advance. The villages would have provided some cover for Blindfury's Indians, but they would have had to leave that cover to come and take the objectives anyway. It was also clear that Blindfury's list wasn't set up to deal with the nests - the double firepower check to take them out was extremely difficult considering most of his firepower was 6. So while the HMGs provided a lot of fire, it may have been prudent to bring some direct fire heavy guns to deal with the nests. The Brits also have some smoke options in their list, which may have made advancing against my HMG nests a little less lethal.
So we'll see. I'm definitely looking forward to playing again, maybe with some tweaks to the forces. I liked having full strength fortified platoons, but I may have been better served by bringing half strength platoons and spending some points on minefields or anti-tank obstacles. And as much as I like the Falcos, it's too easy for Blindfury to move up and get within that 16" 'safety zone' - that may be 90 points better spent on something like a mortar unit. I'll have to look at my figures and options, and come up with some alternates.