Well, Hello There.

Ok. I couldn’t resist a little Star Wars inside joke on today of all days.

So, the world is still spinning off its axis and into oblivion. COVID-19 is still going strong. The orange idiot in the south is still suggesting to his cult that they should inject themselves with bleach and UV light as the cure and the rest of the world watches in dumbstruck awe at the shite that pours from his mouth unfiltered.

Thankfully some parts of the world are showing signs of coming out on the other side of this. Lots of places are starting to reopen, though quite frankly, I think it’s too soon. Still no legible cure in sight and the best we can hope for is more social distancing and lots of PPE?… Not the best plan guys.

Anyways… I had originally decided to do a dorky Star Wars pun and make a post about Miniature painting. I hadn’t intended this post to go off the rails and be a state of the world post, though with as pervasive as this thing is, it colours everything we do these days whether we realize it or not. So before I get distracted any further, back to the original plan.

Since the lockdown and stay at home order, I’ve really tried to find something that centers me and calms me down. Too much shit going on in the world these days. I’ve stepped back from most of my video game time (plus my wife has been addicted to Sims4 on the PS4 lately so sharing a console can be a pain) and went old school. I read. I work on my Star Wars campaign and I paint miniatures.

I’ve been painting minis since my AD&D days back in grade 5 (thankfully none of those paint jobs survived) and after a 15+ year hiatus, I realized I missed it and decided to get back into it. I’ve had my new paints and miniatures for a couple of years now since I got back into the hobby but I can’t ever seem to get motivated to start painting with the same sort of passion that I used to. I’ll paint a base coat here, a shade there. One brushstroke on and off every other week sort of thing. I’ve used the excuse that I didn’t have enough time, or that maybe my passion had faded. I certainly don’t have the same skill I had back then and my eyes and hands aren’t as deft as they once were.

During this silly stay at home lockdown, I came to realize that my passion hadn’t faded, I did have the time, and sure my hands and eyes weren’t as young as they used to be but I wasn’t dead yet. As for the skill and “muscle memory”, after a few false starts I came to realize, that yeah I didn’t have the same skill I did before, I actually was better than I used to be. I just needed to do what everyone does… practice.

And practice I did.

After about 6 hours of futzing about, I finally came up with the first model in about 20 years that I have actually completed and am satisfied with.

Now, I can’t say that I’m 100% happy with him, and I could go on and on about what I see wrong about him still, but I honestly learned to accept when I’m done, rather than he’s “finished”. I could fiddle about with him for another 20 years and still not be finished.

I actually went well outside my comfort zone and posted this guy on one of the painting groups I’m a part of on Facebook and it was the weirdest feeling. First, I rarely post anything other than a positive comment here or there and I mostly lurk and admire all the amazing paint jobs and painters whose skill I won’t ever achieve. Yet I took the risk and I was amazed at the feedback and response. It’s the oddest feeling to have a 100+ random strangers like and comment on a piece you worked on. I got a ton of great feedback and it helped a lot to rebuild my confidence in my abilities and the realization that it didn’t have to be perfect, just better than the last one.

Yay me. Since I posted the pic on Facebook, I’ve put more paint to models than I have in years and I look forward to posting more of my work in the near-ish future.

The Distance Between Us

Welcome to 2020. The Surreal world.

It feels like we’re somewhere in the third or fourth month of non-essential shutdown but the reality is that it has only been two weeks for me. It definitely feels like that hazy timeless week between Christmas and New Years where you don’t know the day, can’t remember if you should be at work, day drinking is normal and you debate whether anyone would care if you wore pants or not.

I’m thankfully still employed for the time being, but I’m not really working as I normally would. At most I go into work every couple of days to check on the store for insurance purposes and hang out with my co-managers for a couple of hours trying to “make plans” for when we do come back. The reality is we’re all in shock and can’t quite focus.

My company made the decision to pay all it’s part time staff globally through until the 4th of April which was unprecedented. Last week we were expecting they’d start the layoffs but were again surprised that they extended the pay for one more week. Again, everyone was grateful but we knew it wasn’t going to last forever — there’s only so much a company can do when they don’t have a revenue stream coming in.

The call came down yesterday. All part-timers were getting temporarily laid off. We had to go through and call our whole team and give them the bad news. Now like I said, we were all expecting it and everyone was very understanding when we told them but it was still one of the most emotionally draining moments I’ve had to deal with as a manager.

Sadly it’s not even the first time I’ve done it either…. Blockbuster…. Target… Hey, at least this time it’s only a temporary layoff.

I’ve spent the day today in a daze. I’m worn out. Mentally exhausted and I just want it to be over. This too shall pass… well, yeah. I suppose it will but it needs to hurry up and do so.

Adventures in Social Distancing

Well, I think we can all agree that this year has not been anything close to what we expected it to be. I think we all could do with a mulligan on this one if the PTB allow it.

My work has been shut down for 2 weeks (minimum) as a non-essential service. Thankfully, I’m still getting paid for the time being, but there is a relevant fear that if this goes on for a prolonged period, I won’t be. :-/

Like everyone else on the planet, I did not expect to be hiding out in my basement while a pandemic spread across the globe. There is a surreal weirdness to this whole thing. Going to stores and seeing empty shelves because mob mentality made everyone buy all the fucking toilet paper and cans of baked beans. It is almost worse here, because the virus is still in the early stages (and hopefully doesn’t get a lot worse) so there is not a lot of impact outside of the enforced distancing. It’s hard to visualize and comprehend the images that we’re inundated with from various media sources when the people around you are all relatively healthy and yet the idiots abound and panic buy everything, leaving nothing for anyone else.

As I sit here typing this, my kids have now been out of school for a week. We won’t see an online curriculum for them for another two weeks and while we try to keep them to a routine, I’m already willing to hand them their phones and tell them to go play in virtual traffic. As much as I’m living the Introvert’s dream life, I realize how much other people get on my nerves. My family doubly so.

With all this time on my hands, you’d think that I’d be doing something productive like painting all my unpainted miniatures in my pile o’ shame, or organising and building the rest of the bookshelves / secret door in the game room. Nope. Rather than do that, I’m futzing about with Discord to try and get a Server set up so as my friends and I can continue to play our monthly Star Wars game remotely. Priorities right?

Well, there are worse things I could be doing I guess.

I guess I should go and check on the other prisoners in my cell block and see if they’re still alive.

Stay Safe out there folks.

Obligatory Renovation Update

So I’m going to try and resist posting a plethora of updates about my games room renovations. I’d rather just show the end result when that comes about and be able to contrast the before with the after. I feel it’ll have more impact.

As it stands now, we’re still in the demolition stage, though we’re pretty sure that we’ve torn everything up that we need to and barring a few small tweaks here and there we should start the actual construction right away… well, once we do another dump run or six. Hard to believe one room can generate so much garbage and construction waste.

Continue reading “Obligatory Renovation Update”

Let The Games Begin!

A little over a year and a half ago, my wife and I started discussing what we were going to do with our basement. As it stood, it was a hodgepodge of tool rooms, odd shaped (and cramped) bedrooms and the world’s worst bathroom. It was in dire need of an overhaul.

We discussed options and talked about tearing down walls and expanding the master bedroom. We dickered back and forth on which way we would go and what we’d do. Ultimately her practicality won out.

We would renovate the old small bedroom that I was using as an office and the tool room and turn it into a new master bedroom. We’d revamp the bathroom and laundry room and we would turn the old master bedroom into a new office/nerd cave. It was really the only concession I got on the whole plan and I think I only got it because, I said I wanted a secret door in the bookshelf.

Last winter we tore into it and started on our master bedroom. We finished it sometime in March or April and it was glorious to have space to walk around in.

Summer came and we left the project alone to focus on the garage and other outdoor projects. However, we both knew the Stark motto was true: Winter is Coming.

Christmas was the usual hectic gong show but now that it’s over, we decided to get stuck in. As we had decided to leave the bathroom and laundry room for last due to the “fun”, finicky plumbing and tiling bits, the next job was my nerd cave

Go! Go! Gadget Sledgehammer!

Eventually, it’s supposed to look something like this:

I’m hoping we’ll be done sometime in March or early April. I can’t wait! Mainly because then I don’t have to lug 40kgs of Star Wars books all over creation every time we game.

I’ll keep you posted!

Unexpected Downtime

Well, I didn’t expect that. Firefox crashed while I was updating a wordpress plugin… and when I came back to the site, it was deleted. I managed to eventually recover a backup from December 9th, but it was a last ditch effort on my part. I had very little hope of it succeeding.

For the two of you who even noticed, sorry for the interruption. For the rest of you. Carry on!

I was going to blog tonight about the latest renovations going on in the house and progress on the Nerd Cave but all my time was spent trying to fix the error.

I shall endeavour to update you tomorrow. Until then, good night!

Signal Disruption

Oh look. There goes all my plans for regular posting. It’s been about a month since I last posted and it irritates me that all my good intentions and plans were derailed. I blame the holiday season. Working retail at Christmas messes with my routines, my sleep habits and my time.

Normally I’d come home from work, cook dinner, tidy up and then ensure the kids did their chores/homework. Once they are settled, I’d then disappear downstairs to my cave and type up something here, paint a miniature or work on my Star Wars game. Since the beginning of November though, I’ve not done any of those things. My RPG stuff sits stagnant in the bag I use to carry it all and has been there since the beginning of October. My paints sit similarly unused and obviously the blog has been silent for the past month as well.

There’s hope that as we near Christmas and the retail nightmare that is my life, subsides to little more than a bad dream I will get back to a much more regular routine.

In the meantime, have fun without me. I have laundry to fold.

A Dream of a Thousand Cats

My cat is an asshole.

I was supposed to go and see Neil Gaiman tonight, but my cat decided that I would be spending time at home with a tweaked back.

The little #&$@!! tripped me at lunch time in the kitchen today. I managed to catch myself but the effort twinged something painfully in my back. Then, one of the day home kids pulled a stupid and I had to haul him up from where he’d wedged himself in between the wall and the bed, further exacerbating the issue to the point where I’m hobbling and immobile.

You have no idea how much I hate and disappointment I have flowing through my veins right now. If Palpatine ran out of hate lightning, I could easily refill his supply about 1000 times over and still have some to spare.

This was something I was really looking forward to. Beyond anything else this year and it all comes crashing down because of a stupid cat.

Somewhere, Bast is laughing.

Good Idea, Bad Idea…

Or at least bad timing. I’m one of those creatives whose brain doesn’t shut off. I drive to work, I develop characters. I’m working on my staff’s schedules at work, I mentally run through 17-18 different permutations of an encounter that I’ve planned for my characters that I highly doubt they’ll even attempt. I watch tv, I tune out and start rewriting the plot. I go to bed, I wake up at 3 in the morning with the cheesiest pun of a title for an episode of my star wars campaign that I have to remember.

And there’s the rub. 90% of the time, these ideas pounce on me at the wrong time. Or in the wrong place. You’d think that by now, I’d have learned to carry a notebook with me. Nope. I did that for awhile, then kept leaving the notes around. Yes, I even had one of those silly little digital recorders with me in the car for awhile. Couldn’t stand talking to the thing. Like most people, I hate the sound of my own voice. Plus I found that the batteries were always dead when I actually did try to use the thing.

I’ve called myself and left voicemail. I’ve scribbled notes on napkins in restaurants. Most of the time I just let the thought rattle around in my head until pen finds paper, or fingers find keys. A lot of times these days, I even will just text random burbles to friends without context or anything more than the briefest explanation.

Thankfully, the couple of friends that I end up usually sending things to are creative enough to understand and humour me as I go daft in my old age.

Can’t stop… Clowns will eat me.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the gloriously bad pun title for my Star Wars campaign

Wait for it.

Continue reading “Good Idea, Bad Idea…”

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile, you may miss it.

Ferris Bueller… You’re my hero.

He’s not wrong.

My two girls started the new school year this week. Grade 7 for the eldest, grade 4 for the youngest. Like all parents who look at their kids at this moment as they head off to school or board the bus, I too got a dose of “Holy shit, my children have grown so much!”.

Time is a subtle bastard. He sneaks up on you when you least expect it and bumps you just hard enough to jostle your comfy rose coloured glasses off and as you look around in a daze, you catch a glimpse of reality in the harsh light of day and see your children, not as you always see them: as your little girls, but as the young women they are quickly becoming.

It can throw you for a pretty big loop because you’re not expecting it. One moment, you’re holding this tiny infant in your arms, bursting with love and the next they’re giving you the universal teenage brush-off to signify how uncool you are: “Whatever, dad.”

Thankfully the eldest hasn’t fully crossed to the dark side yet and five minutes later she’s back to “I love you daddy. Can we play Little Big Planet together?” One of these days though, I’ll blink and even that will be just a memory. Ahh, Time, you bastard. I hate you just a little bit in times like this, but at the same time, without that subtle jostling, I wouldn’t see the beauty right in front of me and cherish the moments I do have.

No. You shut up! I’m not crying. You’re crying….

Errr. Anyways. I’m just going to sit in the corner here clinging vainly to the false hope that they’ll always be my little girls. At least until the next time Time comes along and knocks me spinning…