Saturday, August 31, 2013

Warmachine, Building the force.

I like building armies. The list revision and collection process is half the fun of playing. I love tweaking rosters until I end up with a list that makes best use of points and style As noted previously, I’ve begun collecting Khador again. I’ve started this project by deciding what I want/need for a maximum list before buying my first model. Starting with the warcaster, I knew that I’d be playing in casual games against a wide range of skills, styles, and armies. I wanted a warcaster who could compare favorably to those opponents, but who wouldn’t prove an auto-win option against any of them. Warmachine provides a lot of flavor for its casters by giving each of them a theme list. I decided that I’d stick to the chosen caster’s list—so whichever character was chosen would need to have a roster I would enjoy playing and that my opponents would enjoy playing against. I reviewed the available casters and came up with the following: • Vlad in all his incarnations is amazing. Unfortunately his theme list is pikeman-centric, making him far too one dimensional and model heavy for me. Sad, because up until now he’s been my favorite caster. • Karchev is a great caster in this format, especially since he is primarily a jack and man-o-war commander. I’m not much on Gray lords, but he has potential. • The butcher has always appealed to me. Version one has a nice mix of infantry and jack abilities blended with a jack and man-o-war theme list. I really want to play version two, but the infantry count would be high and I don’t think my opponents would enjoy facing 18 tuff doomreavers. I haven’t seen any specifics on version three, but supposedly he comes with two pet warbeasts. At the time of this writing, he’s not available to purchase, so he’s out. • Both versions of Sorscha are great. Unfortunately, she loves her winter guard far too much. Version one has an assassination feet if ever there was one. I’m trying to avoid casters that come down to do x and win. I’ll keep her battle box and Beast 09, but she’s out of the running. • I really want to like the old witch except her theme list requires kossites. I hate throwaway units. Also, she is definitely denial themed, again, not fun for my opponents. She’s a good match for my style of play, so maybe I’ll hold her in reserve. • Both the Irusks are about infantry and lots of it. He has a great list of spells and abilities, but I can’t handle the army required to take advantage of his tier lists. • Zerkova is just interesting enough that I might want to play her. From a composition standpoint, her themed force is flexible without being overpowered. The issue is that she suffers from battlefield identity crisis—a disorder that afflicts many warcasters. She is clearly a support caster lacking the requisite means to survive the front ranks, and yet that’s exactly where she needs to be to make best use of her spells. I’d take her as a companion to butcher II or Karchev since their theme lists are somewhat complimentary, but otherwise not as a primary caster. • Strakhov is a great caster, really frigging amazing. His spells, Ohmygod! Can we say dream list? Fast, check. Some denial? Check. Board control? Check. Feet that totally bones an opponent? Double check. His tier list has assault-co—man---dos? Wa--Wa. Why did such a great caster get stuck with one of the worst units in the Khador inventory? His tier list not only features one of the most annoying units possible, but also is infantry heavy. Regrettably, he gets the axe. • Harkevich is the man. Coming from Khador that’s saying something. A spell that removes knock down and stationary from his entire battle group? A spell that lets his entire battle group take a free shot? How about a spell that lets a model/unit reroll all missed to-hit rolls? What about a warcaster who gives the entire battle group a boost to movement and pathfinder? His feet adds 3 arm to his entire battle group plus bonuses to movement and charges. His tier list is pretty sweet too, especially if you put in some of the big AOE hitters. Yes, I think he’s amazing. He gives Khador mobility, firepower, and a variety of tactical options that it just didn’t have before. I’m left with a few partial matches and two definite options. I spent some time looking between the two casters. Butcher has a PP recommended league list. Harkevich has great synergy with all the jacks I love. Ultimately it came down to the fact that I don’t want to start out by taking any named jacks, solos, or units. I want a themed list that lets me play without overpowered or game swinging abilities, just me and strategy working for the win. Harkevich’s tier list requires Black Ivan which is a reasonable character jack but still breaks with my preference. So, Butcher won that round. I’ll come back to the iron wolf if I ever want a second caster; But the Butcher has it for now. Next comes picking a list for the big guy. Fortunately, his theme list and my preferences make this fairly easy. From battle college: Tier Requirement Benefit T 1 Khador non-character warjacks, Kossite Woodsmen, Widowmakers, Man-O-War Units, Winter Guard Infantry, Manhunters, War Dog, Widowmaker Marksman, Yuri the Axe, Man-O-War Solos Manhunter Solos get +1 FA for each unit included Point cost of Man-O-War Shocktroopers is reduced by 1. T 2 Two or more Man-O-War Units Man-O-War units gain +2 SPD during the first turn of the game. T 3 Four or more solos Solos may be redeployed after both player have deployed, but before the first player's first turn. T 4 Three or more warjacks without ranged weapons Warjacks without ranged weapons gain Advance Deploy Right off the bat we can cut winterguard and Yuri. I hate cumbersome squishy infantry and The Axe is a named character. Also, the widowmaker marksman is interesting but has that funky elite cadre rule. I like her, but again, I’m looking for simple, basic units. I’m also not fond of the war dog, though that’s more because I don’t like spending points defensively. That cuts a fair amount of selections. Moving on to tier II, I need 2 units of MOWs of any variety. I love bombardiers. Who wouldn’t want a unit of buzz saw wielding, cannon shooting, mecha warriors? More than one unit would pose challenges resolving the blasts, but one full unit for 11 points should be fine. That leaves me to choose between shock troopers and the demolition core. I want to like the demolition core, I really do. The thing is Khador has better melee infantry point-for-point. Their armor is nice, but won’t protect them on the long slog. Shock troopers get a discount in Butcher’s tier list anyway. A full unit will provide an iron wall for the bombardiers to advance behind. That’s 19 points. There are several ways to play butcher’s feet. The two big ones are to use it early to clear out a large segment of the opposing forces or to wait until end game and set up the mother of all assassination turns. Option one appeals to me on several levels. Attrition armies play to scenario more than caster kill, which makes the game more competitive and less douchy. There’s nothing wrong with caster kill as a win condition—for some casters it’s the only tactic they can execute; but I would rather stay clear of it is a primary strategy. Option one also plays to butcher’s strength, allowing him to use a mix of ranged heavy hitters to thin out the enemy before dropping the bloody axe of vengeance upon the survivors of his feet. To make that strategy work I’m going to need three more elements—a precise ranged unit to snipe out key enemy assets, a set of jacks that can set up the end game, and some “best defense” units to do double duty as problem solvers and threat projection. The first part of that equation is easy. Widowmakers are elite snipers. They will get out ahead of the MOW block and thin the enemy ranks. They can dish out significant pain even without butcher’s feet—so that’s 4 points down. With three units taken I can select five manhunters. They will do an excellent job of pinch hitting and deterring the enemy—so 10 more points spent there. Looking at the jacks is a bit more difficult. So far I’ve spent 33 points of a total 56 points including butcher’s warjack freebees. Butcher’s tier 4 requirement somewhat limits my options. I’d love to have a spriggan but the grenades count against the ranged weapon limitation for his jacks—and I’m not getting more than three jacks in this list. His league starting roster includes a Kodiak and a decimator. Though I’ll get the decimator for beginning league play, he has a ranged weapon so won’t count for this list. I’ll get 2 of the Kodiaks leaving me 7 points to play with. That means picking between the marauder and the juggernaut. Jug kicks but, but I don’t need something to wreck face, I need something to set up the end game so the marauder gets the slot. Looking at this list I have: • The butcher +6 • Full unit of bombardiers -11 • Full unit of Shock troopers -8 • Widowmakers -4 • 5 manhunters -10 • 2 Kodiaks -16 • 1 marauder -7 =56 points. The problem with this list is that five manhunters aren’t really friendly. Actually that’s a really dickish thing to do to an unsuspecting opponent. I have four widowmakers so I’ll cut one manhunter for symmetry’s sake. Four is still intimidating, but not as excessive. So what to do with those 2 points. The man-o-war kovnick would be nice, but he costs 3 points. I could cut one of the Kodiaks down to a second marauder freeing up enough to buy him, but do I really want to do that? Yes, yes I do. That’s actually a better distribution of board control and gives me a strong solo in the back line to counter enemy solos; plus, the kovnick can provide a decent command stat for the man-o-wars—god knows the butcher won’t be much help in that department. So the new list looks like: • The butcher +6 • Full unit of bombardiers -11 • Full unit of Shock troopers -8 • 1 Man-o-war Kovnick -3 • Widowmakers -4 • 4 manhunters -8 • 1 Kodiak -8 • 2 marauders -14 =56 points. This list has a couple great features. It’s small—meaning my turns should go relatively quickly after I play a few games. There is an excellent mix of shoot/assault, tuff/fast, and devastation/finesse. In most games the bombardiers set up behind the shield walled shock troopers—using their arcing fire to hit targets of opportunity. They can get stuck in if they need to, but their primary job is to thin the enemy down, especially on butcher’s feet turn. The shock troopers defend butcher and the bombardiers while dismantling anything that gets in their nine inch threat range. The Kovnick runs heard on the MOW block—ensuring no flankage happens. He’s slow, but is a one man wrecking crew if anyone gets in his charge distance. The widowmakers do what they do best—deploying ahead of the MOW block sniping key enemy models and selectively pinging jacks where needed. Their job is to find a nice piece of concealment and sit there distracting the enemy. The manhunters hit targets of opportunity in the early game—finishing off wounded jacks and clearing out roadblocks. These two units act in much the same way. They are a forward projection of force designed to weaken the enemy as butcher’s armored fist comes in to finish them off. Finally the jacks set up the endgame. The marauder, properly placed, is an outstandingly efficient jack. With fury on it, it delivers a massive one shot directed slam to whatever needs clearing/killing. Most targets short of a colossal will be heavily damaged, knocked down, and moved from their previous placement—great targets for the rest of the army. The Kodiak can also knock targets down with his combo strike but is best left to shatter enemy heavies with boosted fist attacks backed by a final two fisted throw. His vent steam ability can block LOS or clear blocks of squishy bodies. The army is small and vulnerable to massed weaponmaster infantry, but then what isn’t. It needs to drive the tempo of the conflict since it is a poor reactive force. The widowmakers and manhunters are essentially expendable. Their job is to distract and harass. As long as they accomplish that goal for three turns or so they’ll have earned their points back. My two biggest concerns are a hard-hitting armored fist like cavalry and denial casters. The first can dismantle my jacks and man-o-wars while avoiding my skirmishers. The second can keep me from engaging. I have enough ranged selections that I can make a fight of it, but those threats will prove difficult. So that’s it. I’ve ordered the jacks and caster assembled and painted from blue table painting. I worked with them in the past with mixed results. I’d like to use someone local, but this is going to be a big project. Frankly, I’d rather have someone like Deathquaker, provided she’s willing, handle the infantry. But I really want the jacks and caster yesterday. So this is my final shot at working with BTP. I’ve been very clear in my instructions. Excerpted: “Assembly Instructions I am 100% blind. This means that my hand comes down on top or from the side with some force as I’m moving and locating models on the board. It is very important that models are assembled as strongly and in as compact a manner as possible…i.e., weapons held into the body, no funky one point of contact mountings, no delicate flourishes on the base, pinning…etc. If it’s a question of a dynamic pose or conversion VS making the model bombproof, go with bombproof. I cannot stress this enough, the models need to be firmly and strongly assembled, especially at joints, the point where the model is mounted on the base, and any point of extension. This is the biggest factor in my satisfaction with this project. Conversion Budget: $25 Conversion Guidelines Nothing fancy, these guys stomp on things and break them. Battle debris, slain foes on the bases, whatever won’t compromise the model’s durability and adds a little flavor.” And “Painting Instructions General I am looking for a dark metallic paint scheme indicative of ruthless oncoming destruction. When people look at this battle group I want them to see the offensive front line coming at them with uniform metallic colors and the dull sheen of cold tooled steel fresh off the assembly line. I am less interested in battle damage and powder stains than I am in the overall perception of the clean glossy dark crimson and oiled metal look of a finely made but brutal construct. Generally, Cygnar and the retribution get painted up as the new car/polished technology factions. I’m looking to buck that trend with this battle group, proving that even a SUV can be visually appealing in an understated lethal way if given a clean paint job and a nice finish. Think transformers the movie if that helps. These guys aren’t high-Tec; they are pure contained force in a simple brutal package. Specific As the general color, I would like a black base with a dark crimson metallic marbling on top, to create a red almost holographic perception of depth over the black—such as you might find in a very dark red-black auto paint—or as close as the restrictions of the paint level and materials will allow. I do not want anything even minutely approaching pink, very dark-red is the name of the game. The jack weapons, especially the ram pistons, open fists, and buzz saw should be the color of dark oiled steel. Butcher should have some gold highlights to mark him as a warcaster; otherwise I’ll leave it to your imagination as long as it keeps with the dark and deadly theme. I’d rather him be under ornamented than covered in scroll work and such. He’s a no frills kind of guy. I’d like the entire army covered in a thick coat of the clear gloss finish, both to protect the finish and to add to the sheen of the metal. These are going to get banged around some; I want the paint to be able to bounce back a bit.” If they can follow directions, I’ll have some more business for them. If not, that’ll be the end of our association. The only reason I’m going through this process with BTP is that they’ve supposedly got a few of their “master painters and assemblers” working on the side for a “special opps” program. Supposedly these are a few elite peeps ready for quick turnaround with a high level of quality. We’ll see. It apparently takes six days for them to order two jacks. I think rather this is them running their yearly Valhalla gaming extravaganza. Whatever…I really only care about the finished product. If there’s a little BS thrown in, well some people are like that. As long as it comes back money well spent I can live with the flim-flam. Honestly, I need a good assembler and painter who isn’t a close friend. Hopefully these guys will get this right.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The making of an action hero pt28

Entry #27. I’m losing my patience with nutrition articles. I get that the media focuses coverage on trendy issues. I get that people want to know how to lose weight, increase their metabolism, improve their energy, sleep better, eat more healthily, and generally find that one combination of elements that will fix all their problems. But, I read this article yesterday and about lost it: I’ve been reading “expert” suggestions as to what foods to eat, when to eat them, how to prepare them, and which foods to avoid for many years. Up until recently all the advice could be distilled down to a few simple truisms: • Lean meat, especially poultry, is better than red meat. • Where possible one should avoid processed foods, especially those like sausage and bacon which are filled with preservatives and other undesirable elements. • Dairy, especially cheese and whole milk, is important but only in moderation. • Eggs in small quantities are ok, but should be strictly rationed. • Fruit juices are good, because they contain a good selection of vitamins and minerals. • As a general rule, carbs are bad. • A variety of fruits and vegetables should be part of any diet Now I come across this article recommending red meat. Other recent articles have suggested that an egg a day is a good thing. Certain kinds of carbs are apparently not only desirable, but essential. Two articles suggested that people drink chocolate milk after exercising to restore fluids, nutrients, and carbs. Chocolate milk? Red meat? I could have been eating steak all these months and nobody told me??? You can find thousands of these little gems with a simple use of Google-fu. The issue I find in almost every one is that the author has a bias toward something, be it organics, some sort of product, vegetarianism, or some such limiter to their viewpoint. This kind of bias further distorts the provided information when it is focused on solving a specific problem, lack of energy, weight loss, apatite suppressant...etc. Context is critical in these situations because believe me when I say that just because red meat helps with iron deficiency doesn’t mean it should make up 50% of your daily intake. The brunette likes to say that if she waits long enough someone will discover that carbs are the secret to the universe. It seems, according to this article, that she might be right. . As I said, context is everything. I am on plan for the power week. I didn’t stretch Monday evening, but have hit every other goal. Tuesday’s weigh in was 289.6 pounds and this morning came in at 288 even. Tomorrow’s fasting before the doctor’s visit is the part I’m not looking forward too. I’ll probably use the larger container for my shake and make sure to pack it with spinach, oatmeal, blueberries, banana, and almond milk. That shake is going to have to last me from 6am Thursday through 9am Friday…so it’s going to be as nutritionally dense as I can make it. Intake for today: Breakfast=health shake with stuff in it. Work meal=a container of tuna salad, Greek yogurt, and an apple. Dinner=The brunette’s left over mac and cheese and a small bowl of basmati rice, asparagus, turkey meatballs, onion, garlic cloves, bell pepper, and cilantro in an Indian red sauce. I do enjoy crossing ethnic boundaries when making food.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The making of an action hero pt27

Entry #26. I want to be able to chase my nemesis through a junk yard followed by a pitched battle on the top of a moving train. To get to that point, I’m going to have to build up core strength and lose enough weight that true cardio is possible. So, the little things will do for now. Saturday I woke up and did my normal workout with three club sets. I seem to get more out of it when I take my time. This is probably a function of feeling rushed when I hit the clubs first thing on a work day. There’s only so much time available and knowing I’m on a deadline doesn’t help. Agent Squish and I went on a short walk before retiring to his place for a game of ascension. We returned home and had a small dinner before I ran my semi-regular dragon storm game that evening. Sunday I got up and hit the clubs again for another three set workout followed by a trip to the grocery store for dinner and shake fixins. Dinner was a salad with spinach, basal, cucumbers, plum tomatoes, carrot slivers, yellow onion, diced bell peppers, blackened chicken, asiago cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. I intentionally added a variety of ingredients so that it will maintain a nice flavor over the next two days. The spinach soaks up most of the juice from the salad making a nice marinated flavor. I had some issues picking out a dressing since for most brands the light and standard options both fell in the 60-70 calorie per serving range with 16 servings per bottle. I want my sauces to add flavor, not double the calorie count to no purpose. After that, I carried the groceries home, about a mile from store to front door. My shoulders and wrists hurt less than usual, so the plan is working…slowly. After this morning’s workout I came in at a nice 289.6 pounds. This is the start of the power week, in which I am preparing for the qualifying physical on Friday. Because of the requirements for my meds, I have to fast before the blood is taken on Friday morning. So, if ever I’m going to have a chance to push the weight down it’s going to be then. The plan for this week is as follows: • Monday, clubs in the morning, shake for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, left over salad for dinner, and stretches that evening. • Tuesday, stretches that morning, shake for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, a strong club workout in the evening, left over salad for dinner, and getting to bed early. • Wednesday, clubs in the morning, a shake for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, a shake for dinner, and stretches before going to bed early. I’ll try and cook something that night, but it might not happen. • Thursday, Stretches in the morning, a shake for breakfast, no lunch or dinner, a full workout followed by drinking lots of water, and going to bed early. • Friday morning, hit the clubs to the extent that my physical condition will safely allow, a trip to the doctor, a lunch with beef or sushi, and dinner with the friends group that evening. *This entire week will involve constant intake of water and an attempt to get a good night’s sleep. I’m not a fan of sacrifice dieting as regular readers are already aware. I do think that periodic weeks of intense dietary focus, exercise, and mental conditioning can push you past barriers. The trick is to make these periods infrequent, physically safe, and bound to a specific purpose. Properly positioned, they can set you up for success while honing your mental conditioning. Poorly executed they put you at risk for physical injury, mental stress, and possibly a complete dietary failure. The goal is to get as close to a purified state as possible. When I go in for the physical I’ll have a documented point to work from. I also want to make sure that when I go in, the blood work clearly shows my attempts to eat well and exercise over the last 3 months. This time if bad-stuff levels aren’t down, I can honestly say that it’s not for lack of trying. The brunette, agents Cherylkat, Corc, and I hit the range for some target practice this evening. We rented a glock 20 in 10mm, still searching for the brunette’s dream combination of form, function, and really big ca-boom. Sadly this didn’t make it either, leaving us to search into the depths of big bore revolver land. I love the glock 20. It’s one of the first handguns I shot regularly. Coupled with the excellent 10mm cartridge it fits me perfectly. Granted, I’m a wood and steel kind of guy, but the glock 20 is one of the few handguns I’d make an exception for in that regard. Intake today: Breakfast=A health shake of banana, blueberry, strawberry, oatmeal, carrots, and almond milk. Work meal=a few handfuls of mixed nuts, an apple, and a small container of tuna salad. Dinner=Leftover salad from yesterday with a few soy bacon bits on top left over from a previous recipe.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The making of an action Hero pt26

Entry #25 Wednesday a coworker asked me if I had lost weight. It was one of those moments, like when I found I could wrap a towel around my middle after a shower and tuck it in or when the engagement ring the Brunette gave me years ago started to fit again--. Little victories. A long way to go still, but it’s good to know that the progress is getting me places. Speaking of the Brunette, that worthy walked into the middle of my steel club workout on Wednesday. She was a little put out that I told her to go go go, when she needed to get through. I had the soundtrack to the 2007 transformers movie on my laptop and was rocking the clubs so I was a little worked up at the time. I have to get into the zone to exercise. Some people seem to do it as a thing. It doesn’t require any special mental effort for them. I have to be driving towards something, even if that something is the end of a song. I don’t do casual workouts. I remember running into my philosophy professor in college at the gym. He was grading papers while riding the stationary bike. I still don’t get that. I’m envisioning myself at the climactic moment of a movie, in a pitched battle with Dolph Lundgren and 300 ninjas riding robot sharks. I have an inspiring sound track or one of Megadeth’s albums playing to get the blood pumping. Grading papers? Not so much. I missed the drive to exceed that exercise creates. When you have three minutes left in a sprint, you push yourself toward the goal. The world falls away. It’s just you and “not good enough” in a steel cage match. When NGE goes down your body is vibrating from the effort. Everything is right with the world. Your blood is pumping, the adrenalin is going, and you own that moment. I imagine it’s like sky diving out of a plain before the shoot opens. It’s good to get that rush back after all this time. Today makes six straight days with the workout and 3 days this week getting up a half hour earlier at 5am to swing the clubs. This program really works. I’m just doing the two warm-up segments in sets and I can already feel a difference. This probably has less to do with the weight loss and more to do with the circular training practice of stretching and loosening joints. Walking is just—easier, lighter, more free than before. It’s my goal by the end of August to be working out continuously. I’m going to amend my original choice to work out every morning though. You need to give your body time to heal and I need time to break in the 5am wake up call. I’ll alternate evenings and mornings, checking weight after the morning segments. That brings me to my goal for August—averaging less than 290 pounds for next week. Frankly, that’s going to be tuff. I could starve myself, but that’s not what I set out to do with this plan. On the other hand, I really, really, really want to get under that threshold by the end of the week. So what I’m going to do is push myself. I’m going to exercise smart but push myself within the limits of safety. I’m going to go for shakes as much as possible for breakfast and dinner. I’ll have a low carb, high energy lunch for all of next week, probably tuna salad or the like. The goal is to cut the weight, but do it intelligently and in a sustainable way. It will also help me to shrink the stomach a bit, making it so that eating less fills me up faster. The driving motivation will be my Doctor’s response when he checks my vitals on Friday’s physical. After my last visit, the nurse read me back my vital stats and said in a board voice that I should try and eat a low fat low cholesterol diet. You could tell she didn’t expect any action on that item—a fair assumption given my previous track record. The thing is that now I have something to look forward to so it gives me something to shoot for, something to drive toward as the month plays out. Weight today was 293 pounds with an average weight this week of 293.48 pounds. The lowest I’ve managed is 292.4 pounds. Today’s intake: Breakfast=A health shake with blueberries, oatmeal, strawberries, banana, spinach, and almond milk. Work lunch=a turkey wrap, an apple, and Greek yogurt. Dinner will be whatever WMTrainguy’s wife puts on the table, rumored to be chicken fajita pot pie, dirty rice, and strawberry short cake for dessert. I’ll be playing Flames of War with WMTrainguy, so will have a drink or two as well. This probably looks like a counterproductive meal to have before trying to get the weight down. The issue being that I’m losing weight while still living life. The cook in question makes food that haunts me in dreams it’s so good. I can count the number of drinks I’ve had this month on the fingers of one hand. Getting the weight down in such a way that living life would have made it impossible isn’t an accomplishment in my book—it becomes a sacrifice that will need to be balanced at some future date. That’s not an accomplishment; it’s a personal excuse to binge later—not going to happen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Starting warmachine again

I used to play miniature war games all the time. Back in 2001, a random guy at Alternate worlds started me down the path of 40k. That was back when sweeping advance was a thing and most missions were essentially wreck-face-until well blended. Every Sunday I’d go up to the LGS with my case on my back and deploy my space marines, or my Tau, or my necrons. I even played fantasy before they did unmentionable things to the beastman army. My best man would come over when the brunette was working till 1 in the morning and we’d slug it out with our warmachine box sets. That was back when he worked at Alliance and the game was fresh and new—not a single expansion. We’d start the evening with an order from Bubba’s. Then we’d put a table cloth over books and other items to create a terrained board on my dining room table. There were seven or eight models per faction so the game was more about learning the rules than tweaking lists. I fondly remember reducing Striker to component elements with a destroyer shot. Later the brunette and Deathquaker joined us with their own factions. I remember going to a MKI warmachine tournament in Ocean city, having several warmachine players in our home at one time, and competing in a 40k tournament up in Pennsylvania all in one month. Those were the good old days before friends moved away, kids “happened”, and life intruded on all that free time we had. Since then WMTrainguy, Cherylkat, corc, the brunette, and I have played different RPGs and strategy games. There was a stretch where we were playing dragon dice once or twice a week. WMTrainguy and I played FOW once a month all while expanding multiple forces. I contracted with Goat boy, of Bell of lost souls fame, to assemble and paint up a jack force. I thought that even then with the reduction in available time that it would all work out— proving that once a year even I can be mistaken. We play dragon dice now, but not with the fervor of months past. I sold off my GW products and magic cards to fund other projects. I’ve played a few games with my Khador, but they’ve lain largely forgotten and broken for the last two years. The spriggan won’t stay together, Vlad is missing an arm, and both my berserkers broke off their bases—I haven’t gotten up the gumption to get them repaired. I have two full armies for FOW, one beautifully painted by lady Deathquaker and the other likely to make its way into her aesthetically superior hands. I have stuff to play—if I wanted to—if I could find the time—if I could find a regular group to play with. I’ve done a lot of thinking on the subject and what it comes down to is that we all start playing games with the best of intentions. Then some of us go down the rabbit hole farther than others. You know—Bob is still trying to remember what the order of turn is while Jack has the exact probabilities calculated and implemented to make sure his deck always draws him exactly what he needs when he needs it. That sucks for Bob because Jack has him out classed in skill, in knowledge, and probably in quality of cards as well. That sucks for Jack because Bob is unlikely to put in the time, the practice, or the money to get his game up to Jack’s level. Bob and Jack aren’t going to have much fun playing against each other long term because their comparative skill levels, resources, and goals are different. This happens in every gaming group I get sucked into—and yes, I’m pissed about it. Somebody suckers me in with the standard demo/first one’s free gambit, hoping for a new person to widen their pool of players. I go home, do some research, and in some cases decide the games worth dropping time and money on. I devote a few weeks of intensive round-the-clock obsession to the topic and either give up entirely or jump in with both feet. At this point everything’s golden. I’m having more fun building and collecting than actually playing. When I win it’s great and when I lose I’m learning things. Every game is a new discovery, a new anecdote, a new path to fresh wonder. That’s where issues start popping up. There’s no humble way to say this. I’m a good strategy gamer—not epic, not legendary, but solid, with good instincts. It usually takes a few times getting my teeth kicked in, but at some point I “get” the game. When this happens, there’s a part of the group that doesn’t keep pace with the metaphorical arms race of strategy and list building. It isn’t that my friends and opponents are bad players, many of them have the raw talent to out class me if they put their minds too it, but they just don’t see the point. The Brunette is much better at considering patterns and random variables than I am. She just doesn’t obsess the way I do. If you’re reading this and you think you fall into that category, please don’t take any of this personally. Just about everyone I know would utterly destroy me if it was worth it to them to read four hours of strategy articles a day, spend 50% of their disposable income on the hobby, and hone their skills every time they got the chance. It isn’t worth it to most of them. At some point, the purpose of playing the game is to win. Yes, yes, it’s to have fun—seconded, agreed, motion passed with acclaim. But really, the point of “the game” is to win. The point of playing is to have fun, but the point of the game is to do your damndest to win—and often by as large a margin and with as spectacular a show as possible. If you have no reasonable hope of winning—ever, it takes the zing out of the experience. Likewise, if there’s very little chance of ever losing, the zest fades. Games like Apples to Apples don’t have real winners and losers. Points are kept, but mainly for show. Those games are truly for fun. When WMTrainguy and I throw down with FOW, we play so rarely and we both have such improbable dice luck, that the object is to see what unexpected thing is going to happen. Neither of us cares who wins, we just care about having a drink and seeing two guys with binoculars take out a tank platoon—yes, I’m still pissed about that too. “Screw you Italians.” I won that game, but the most memorable moment was two unarmed guys saying Chao to my unstoppable armored assault. That is a good time. FOW is also built and pointed to approximate the forces available in a given theatre of WWII. So there are absolutely situations where one of us will end up at a huge disadvantage because that’s how it was back then. That’s cool. It’s not for realsies. Granted we’re trying to win, but neither of us is advancing beyond the entry skill level. There are games, for some definition of the word, where winning isn’t the objective per say. However in most cases the objective is to win. I really hate it when people get this superior tone and say that winning isn’t everything. Of course it isn’t. But, that’s not the point. It may not be everything, but it’s a darned big part of the experience. If it didn’t matter, then tournament players would be happy playing fluff players in 40k all the time. The fluff player would get their game and the tournament player would get their win—everybody’s happy right? Part of the fun of playing competitive games is that if you’re a sub-par player you need the chance to come out on top. If you’re a superior player, you need to face people who can conceivably defeat you or your victories are meaningless. No, the challenge isn’t having fun. The challenge with miniature gaming is keeping it fun, for everybody, for more than a few months. Which brings me to the point of this article. Corc has decided to get back into warmachine. I greeted this news with mixed feelings. On one hand, he’s the dominant miniature gamer in our group. He’s the only person I know who spends more time and resources obsessing over games than I do. If he’s going to get into a game, I’m assured of a confidant of like mind and purpose should I choose to follow down the rabbit hole. On the other, his affections are inconstant, lasting a few months and then moving on to that new shiny game on the horizon. There’s a part of me that says “go for it, you know you want to.” The other part says, “How much will you spend on this and how much use will you get out of it? You know it’s all going to be over in a few months; so why bother?” That last I can answer at least. Warmachine has been around in the larger friends’ circle for years now. Even after I sold off my first Khador army, do I ever regret that decision now, Squish and Shogoth had their Menoth. Deathquaker had her dragon zombie legions. Cherylkat and the brunette had their Cygnar. WMTrainguy had his mercenaries—somewhere. All of that still holds true. There’s a shiny new gaming store nearby with fancy tables. I could have begged and browbeat my way into a regular game if I really wanted to. It was the fact that everyone else was waiting for someone else to make a move that frustrated me. So I let my interest, my skills, and my models languish. I didn’t want to force people to play when they didn’t want to—that way lead to the kind of disparate skill associations and unhappy experiences that I was trying to avoid. So if I want to find a game, I likely can even if Corc drops out. The question then becomes which army? That-too is easily answered. Khador! Big bad red robots? Ex-plo-sions! Me smash! Dah, I is crushing you for the motherland. I’ve always been from the savage North; there really never was any other choice. So what caster? That requires a bit more thought. And here we come to past lessons learned. If Blindfury picks most powerful caster in faction, he will regret it. If he picks the most powerful army he can lay hands on, nobody is going to be happy. The trick then is laying off the weird rules, the Twinkie lists, the assassination combos that end the game in a single turn, and focus on the fundamentals. The decision is fairly easy for me because Corc wants to use PP’s modified league rules. There are only so many casters with permitted lists. I know right off that the ice queen is out. She may be the basic box set caster for my faction, but she’s dickish enough that people are going to get tired of her feet very quickly. No, the one I want, the one that really shines for me is the butcher. Who doesn’t want to play a seven and a half foot tall homicidal monster wielding a polearm? No tricks, no funky magic shenanigans, just plane brute force incarnate. His theme list adds the man-o-wars (some of my favorite units.) Yes, there’s power there, and room to grow. I’m in the process of procuring his league-approved battle group and a few expansion jacks so I’ll have everything in one tidy package. I’m considering just shipping out my old Khador as credit toward this project. In any case, I’m committed now.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The making of an action Hero pt25

Entry #24. Ok, it’s on. A couple months ago I searched for an exercise routine that I could do standing up, didn’t require a lot of equipment, and that had a fun edge. I settled on the Indian club workout after reading an article from the art of manliness. I got together with agent Corc and went through half of the first DVD to familiarize myself with the program. Like jinkies Scooby. I’m familiar with basic stretching and warm-up principals. You start by extending the areas you are going to work and follow with light exercise to warm your body up for the real effort. Doing this prevents you from spraining something and allows you to get the most out of your routine. So, I expected some variant on the stretches I’ve been doing since I was in elementary school. Man was I wrong. First, the guy in this DVD is a freak. Corc, who is in pretty good shape and flexible had issues figuring out most of the warm up movements. There is one maneuver at the end which requires you to roll your foot so you’re standing on the outside top surface with your toes turned in and pointing backwards. It requires joints made of rubber, as neither of our feet can bend that way. The major issue was that the guy in the video shows you how to do things, but doesn’t use language that’s indicative of the action he wants you to perform. He says back crunch when he means side crunch, things like that. After you figure out what he wants you to do the motions make perfect sense, but there’s a steep learning curve. The workout starts with a series of muscular relaxation techniques that start at the head and work down to the feet. Each of them is designed to stretch, but mainly focuses on individually energizing and isolating discrete muscle groups. It’s not like normal stretching; you aren’t extending your body. Instead, you’re moving joints like the shoulders, hips, and knees in circular motions while twisting the rest of the body to maximize the elasticity of the movements. The stretching by itself was a reasonable work out. Then we moved on to the clubs. Lifting weights, especially hand weights, starts with developing the required grip strength and endurance. I’m fairly strong, but my grip strength needs some work. The initial club exercises consist of six distinct motions designed to further prep the body for more strenuous effort. I’ve been doing them now for three days straight and they aren’t that bad really. I need to build up my joints and grip to the point where I can do them continuously, but that will happen. The exercise leaves me in some small pain, but the kind that tells you that you’ve done something energetic. I’m sticking with the warm-up stretches and two sets of ten of the club beginning movements for now. Agent Corc won’t be able to go over the rest of these till at least this weekend. At first I was unhappy about that—until I realized just how out of shape I am. Taking it slow and working my way into the program is probably a good idea even if I would much rather be working through the entire DVD. My starting weight today was 294.6 pounds. I didn’t lose much on the average last week, but the exercise and health shakes are helping. I need to lose three pounds this week to have a reasonable chance of hitting my stretch goal next week. The specific weight is less important than making up for the one bad week I had while I was sick. Intake for today: Breakfast=A health shake with banana, oatmeal, blueberries, spinach, and almond milk. Work meal=a lo sodium turkey pepper jack wrap and an apple. Dinner=a health shake with carrots, apple sauce, strawberries, and pineapple juice. I had a few pretzel sticks and two chocolate minis for snack/dessert.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The making of an action hero pt24

Entry #23. Saturday was a perfect day. I went to the range with agent Cherylkat and her husband, the enlightened mercenary Corc. Some days things just click. I nailed three Xs with my 1911, one of which was a double tap. I snagged a fourth with my friends’ lever action .38. I plinked for a while with my .22 revolver and enjoyed the moment. Following that, agents Squish, MX, and I went up to the local shopping center to hack and hike. It was a misty day with threatening clouds. The murky weather kept the crowds away, leaving us to wage our virtual war in peace. We had lunch at our place and played ascension on Squish’s iPad. I like sitting back and playing a game for a few hours with friends. No stress, no expectations, just a fun game while I take care of small chores and play with MX. Doing things is fun too. Sometimes though it’s nice not to have a specific task in mind. That evening we played our once-a-month pathfinder game. I mixed up a pitcher of ginger peach whiskey punch and laid out some cheese and crackers for the group. We spent a few hours delving into Deathquakers dungeon, laughing at each other, and having fun. It was nice to just sit back and play an RPG for once. No drama, no stress, just a few friends letting go for a bit. I’ve started using the nutribullet blender. It’s a different style than I’m used to. You take the 16 ounce cup or 22 ounce pitcher and cram it full of whatever you want to process. Then you fill up any remaining space up to the fill point with a liquid, almond milk or water in my case. Once that’s done, you screw the blender head to the top of the container, turn it over, press it into the base, and let the motor do it’s thing. When you’re done you remove the container from the base, flip it over, and unscrew the blender head, and voila! Smoothie/shake. The advantage to this design is that the containers are measured for individual serving sizes and the motor is super strong. You don’t have to pore multiple cups from an unwieldy pitcher. The extractor head powered by the 600 horse power motor pulverizes anything you put in the container. In theory there are health benefits to breaking down the food pre-digestion. Theoretically, blending the meal breaks down the cellular walls that would normally have to be handled by the digestive process. By doing this pre-ingestion, the body is supposed to be able to extract more nutritional value from the resulting health-goo than would otherwise be possible. I don’t know if that’s true or not; but there are some advantages to using the nutribullet. Since the containers are individually sized, you can assemble your breakfast blend the night before and just process your meal the following morning. The blender really is mighty. This morning I added two cups of cooked oatmeal, two handfuls of spinach, a hand full of raspberries, a banana, and some almond milk to the 22 ounce container. It blended everything, including the oatmeal, down to a rich creamy consistency. Whether or not the power-blended food is better for you, it’s quick and easy to get down—a definite time saver. I have a couple of minor quibbles with the base set up. I would have preferred two large and two small containers, rather than the two small and one large provided. Likewise, it often feels like there’s one less cover, cup rim, and blender head than optimal. The screw on mechanic is fine—I absolutely want to make sure the containers are sealed when I turn them over to use the blender base; but there’s no catch to hold them in place once you have them tightened down. My only major complaint thus far has to do with the way you have to measure your ingredients into the containers. Since the blender head isn’t part of the base like a standard blender pitcher, you have to leave room at the top of the container when filling it up. Going past the designated line results in health goo leaking out the bottom of the base when the motor is engaged—so you want to get the measurement right the first time. The issue is that as you’re trying to compact the material into the container, getting that level right is trickier than it sounds. It is absolutely essential that you don’t over-fill the container and that you get the blender head seated securely. For such a simple efficient design, you’d think they could have put a little more thought into this aspect. The Amazon reviews are full of goop-spewing blenders, likely because the person ignored those two basic maxims—don’t over-fill and screw it on tight. If I screw it up, at least when I order the replacement I’ll finally have enough containers. I’ll do a more detailed review later, after I’ve had a couple months to put it through its paces. In the mean time, it’s health-goop for breakfast. Weight today was 296.2 pounds. Breakfast was the previously mentioned health shake. Work meal was a pepper turkey Swiss wrap and an apple. Dinner was a bowl and a half of chicken pesto pasta and a piece of leftover apple cake for dessert.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The making of an action hero pt23

Entry #22. I used to wear a cross. It started after I graduated from high school. I went with a bunch of friends on a pre-college freedom celebration which found us one night on the boardwalk on the Carolina shore. While one of my companions had his ear pierced, I picked up a brass cross on a leather cord. Back then I had a straightforward faith. I went to Church, sang in the choir, and had a strong relationship with God. My faith in organized religion was shaken a year later. I finally had enough of petty people treating the church as their personal reserve to the detriment of others. I prayed in my own way and continued to wear a cross. I still remember one of the sermons from when I was a teenager. I can’t remember the point of the lesson, but part of it was a story about a man who wouldn’t sand off the edge of a cross he carried in his pocket. He said the periodic poking reminded him not to grow complacent with his worship. I wore the cross to remind me of my beliefs and those who drove me away from the church. When I moved out on my own for the first time, I bought a heavy gold cross from an estate sale. I wore it for ten years, every day. The thing is that after a while, the cross stopped symbolizing my personal relationship with God. It started representing my success…because it was gold and expensive. I didn’t like what that said about me. Mind you, I never wore any of these pieces where people could see. They were personal, like my faith. I wanted something different. I wanted something that would remind me to be a better person. I wanted something that would inspire me to be a stronger person. Strength is one of those characteristics that everyone defines differently. See a linebacker…he’s strong. See a boxer half his weight? He’s strong too. See a person who overcomes adversity to succeed? She’s strongest of all. Somewhere between the end of college and now I stopped feeling strong. I stopped believing that I could make better choices. I knew intellectually that doing so was an option. I just lost faith in myself. It was easier to keep avoiding exercise and eating poorly than to turn around and admit that I could, at any time, have stopped the spiral. Symbols have power to me. I grew up in a church where the cross and the bible meant something. All through high school I wore a letter jacket emblazoned with my letters for chorus, wrestling, and academic success. I love that jacket. It meant I was someone. It meant that I had accomplished something special. It hangs in my hall closet to this day. To some people symbols are simply vanity, ego worn to make a point. To me they are reminders of who I am and who I can become. All those English classes and Sunday school lessons reinforced my belief that symbols are important. So when I began looking for a symbol to replace the cross, it wasn’t a minor undertaking. I hadn’t started the action hero plan back then, but I knew I wanted to make some changes. I looked for totemic images of strength, often returning to my favorite animal, the wolf. I looked through rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Everything I found was either costume jewelry or didn’t resonate at the right level. Then my favorite jewelry maker, R.E. Piland, came out with a stylized hammer. It was cast heavy silver. It was a hammer, both a tool and a weapon. Something clicked for me. A few months later, the brunette bought it for me as an unexpected and generous gift. I mounted it on a heavy silver chain and have worn it every day since. I make this point because, most of what I’ve written about to date has been about success or my journey in that direction. I’ve done well. It’s been years since I was under 300, and I’m rightfully proud of that accomplishment. But, this last week hasn’t been a success for me. I was sick for three straight days. I stayed at home, drank a lot of water and did nothing. Sure, when you’re sick there’s only so much you can or should be doing. I basically had carbs for every meal and didn’t go out of my way to eat better. I didn’t eat a lot, but I didn’t eat well either. Plus, when I’m just sitting around the house I tend to snack more. It was the difference between having 1500 calories in three nicely balanced meals and 1500 calories in nutrition neutral consumption. That’s how back-sliding starts. You have a snack here and a snack there and before long your discipline is gone. It wasn’t a big deal; I just stopped making the additional effort for a few days and really felt terrible afterwards. On the up side, our nutribullet blender and my exercise DVD arrived that week. I’m not making excuses for what happened. I haven’t gained weight, but I haven’t lost weight either. So I’m going to focus on making the most out of these new arrivals. My friend Corc is going to walk me through the first DVD Thursday. I’m experimenting with oatmeal smoothies for breakfast. I’ve ordered a larger water bottle for work and the beast survival pack ™ is almost complete. I simply have to remember every morning that success doesn’t come from a theme song, a light box, or a set of steel clubs. It comes from deciding every day that I will do better. I will be strong. I will smash my weakness with a hammer of willpower. I will exercise. I will eat better. I will not make excuses. Today’s intake: A breakfast shake of oatmeal, almond milk, peaches, and blueberries with a banana. Work meal=A pepper turkey Swiss wrap, an apple, and a hand full of unsalted almonds. Dinner was chicken, zucchini, onions, garlic cloves, peppers, and mushrooms over pasta with a spicy pesto Alfredo sauce. I’m pretty sure that’s the last of our Alfredo. Weight this morning was 297.2 pounds. Since my average last week was 296.92 pounds, that number has to go down.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The return of Dragon Storm

So dragon storm is back up …sort of. I received an email today stating that Tim has taken over and will be producing 2.0 cards, developing new product, running the website, and handling the guild (most likely with some veteran assistance.) I have some concerns. Even so, my gut response is positive. Dragon storm is one of the few gaming products I fell for head-over-heals. It’s simple, intuitive, and has the right mix of munchkin and RP. I’ve run and played in more DS games than any other system by a major margin. However, after Mark’s tragic passing, I lost some faith. Month after month went by without any news from Sue or her inner circle. I was a relative newcomer to the DS community. Mark had begun including me on product reviews and corresponding looking for assistance with projects, but I wasn’t a councilor or published contributor. As my longstanding skype campaign came to a close, I began to question what the future of DS would be. This corresponded with a slump in skype gaming frequency. I’ve tried twice now to get people together to play and haven’t been able to muster even 3 players. I’m a good GM, not a spectacular GM mind you, but a good GM. People just don’t have the time or the desire. I’ve never run into a situation where I was willing to run a game and I didn’t have at least 3 takers until now. Hopefully this light at the end of the tunnel will prompt the community to begin running and playing again. I’ve put up a game for this coming Saturday for the skype group. I’ll be buying up some of the 2.0 cards that I didn’t get to before the fall of the old market. I will tentatively begin making DS a priority. The catch of course is that the negative baggage built up over the last nine months isn’t going away. I’ve probably lost one good friend over the fall of Ds and have grown apart from another. Many of our group have stopped responding to emails altogether. The drive to develop new games, test beta cards, and support the game is weak. I want DS to become the game it deserves to be. I want production to be undertaken with a less reactionary and more thoughtful eye towards the future. I want to play the kinds of games I used to play. I want to make the games that used to bring players clamoring to my table. I am willing to commit a serious amount of time and resources to that cause. I don’t need a title. I simply need the opportunity. Here’s hoping that happens.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The making of an action hero pt22

Entry #21 I grew up in the out-of-doors. Whether it was running wild in the woods behind our house in Vermont or hoofing it across the sparsely populated mountainsides around our home in North Carolina, I spent a significant part of my youth amusing myself in nature. I fondly remember my times with boy scouts, repelling down a 60 foot cliff in the fifth grade, horseback riding and swimming at camp Raven knob, And fishing at my scout master’s property after a night of fireside antics in high school. I learned to swim on the shores of Lake Champlain with the Red Cross. Every summer my parents took us on a vacation that included friends on the shore of Lake Michigan and the isle of palms. I treasure the memories of swimming, body surfing, canoeing, and rafting on those trips. It didn’t feel like it then, but even through college I was involved in lots of activities, groups, and projects. I didn’t always fit in, but I always had something to do. So, I tend to look back at boy scouts as one of the major influences on my childhood. The values I learned, the skills I acquired, the friends I made contributed to making me who I am today. My personal differences with some of the BSA’s policies have kept me from taking part in scouting as an adult. You can love something as a child, treasure that memory, and still question the source of that childhood joy. This leads me to a recent article I read in which I discovered that the Scouts banned kids with BMI indexes over 40 from attending the national jamboree this year. You can find their policy here: The following quote makes perfect sense to me: “The national jamboree is a physically demanding experience. West Virginia is called "the Mountain State" for a reason, and our new home, the Summit, offers a very different environment than Fort A.P. Hill. The 2013 National Scout Jamboree is "on foot," with all participants and staff walking/hiking everywhere; there will not be bus circuits or personal vehicles on site. While a lot of the site is level, there are regular changes in grade as part of everyone's daily schedule. The Staff Village is approximately a mile away from Twelve Points, the flag plaza in the Summit Center; staff will make that hike, or one that is similar, at least once and probably twice every day, and participants will be hiking even more. A number of our activities require more stamina and fitness too—think climbing, rappelling, rafting, mountain biking, and skateboarding. It is essential that all participants and staff are prepared for their Summit jamboree experience.” So the location and type of activities will be physically demanding. There won’t be alternate forms of transportation, Check. In other words, you better be able to walk, because that’s the only way you’re doing anything while you’re there. That being said, I have issues with the following. “The Jamboree Medical Staff will review all applicants with a BMI of 32.0–39.9 and consider jamboree participation based on 1) health history, 2) submitted health data, and 3) recommendation of the applicant’s personal health care provider. For applicants with a BMI >31.9, a recommendation of “no contraindications for participation” by the applicant’s personal health care provider does not necessarily guarantee full jamboree participation. The jamboree medical staff will have final determination of full jamboree participation. Applicants with one or more of the following risk factors may be requested to provide further documentation, including cardiac testing, pulmonary testing, or further information from their physician to ensure the applicant’s ability to participate. • Hypertension • Diabetes mellitus • Tobacco use • Dyslipidemia • Prior heart attack • Coronary angioplasty/stent • Coronary artery surgery • COPD • Sleep apnea requiring CPAP or BiPAP • Prior stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) • Family history of premature (before age 55) coronary artery disease * Jamboree Medical Services will provide specific instructions to the practitioner to determine eligibility. * The national jamboree cannot accept for participation any applicant with a BMI of 40.0 or higher.” First, the body mass index is a terrible way of evaluating a person’s health. I rated as over weight in high school, even though I was in near Olympic condition. I’m not saying that it isn’t an acceptable starting point for evaluation simply that as a primary criteria it sucks. If you have a BMI of 40, then you might have some health issues. But, that doesn’t mean you aren’t in condition to take part in the jamboree. I’m five foot seven and weigh 297 pounds. The walking around bit let alone a pidly mile or two wouldn’t be a problem for me. I cover more than that every day getting my groceries. Second, there are better ways of mitigating risk without cutting a growing portion of the population out of your roster. If you’re going to have a doctor sign off on attendance, list a series of categories and make sure that the doctor has approved each Scout for that level of activity. Set weight limits on stations. Draft a healthy living program. Make exercise part of Scouting. Being fat doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and rewarding life. I’ll grant you it makes it demonstrably harder to do so; but weight and height aren’t great indicators of physical capacity, especially at the upper end. Third, I’m wondering why fat people, smokers, and drinkers are singled out in this document. I get why a group teaching life skills to thousands of 10-18 year olds wouldn’t want to promote smoking and drinking. Generally that sort of thing is handled in the attendance rules by simply saying that the camp is a no smoking zone and that alcohol isn’t permitted on the premises. I’m good with that. Those are habits you don’t want little Johnny bringing home from the largest Scouting event in the country. What I don’t get is why these three issues are specifically singled out. I’d say someone in a wheelchair would have problems in this setting. I’m sure use of marijuana or cocaine is just as undesirable as alcohol. What about asthma? Isn’t that more of a concern than someone with obstructive sleep apnea? So why is it just these three groups that are identified on the opening page? At a certain point, when you start focusing on specific groups, that attention starts to look like prejudice and elitism. I doubt that was the intent here. More likely the administration wanted to keep the mountain biking event from turning into the coronary cavalcade. This lead to a well intentioned if poorly positioned policy. My concern is less over the political correctness of that decision and more what it says to twelve year olds who, let’s be honest here, don’t have a lot of control over their diet. What it says to me as an outside observer is that fat scouts are second class scouts. As a safety concern that’s reasonable. As a general policy that isn’t the kind of message you want to send as one of the leading civic youth groups in the country. Balance this message with promoting scouts as a way for overweight kids to lead a more active lifestyle. Develop a nutrition merit badge. Add healthy to the scout law as a thirteenth component. Push for positive change, not for exclusion. On a happier note, I spent the weekend on Amazon shopping for goodies. Foremost on that list was a Nutribullet blender. The nutribullet is specialized to pulverize veggies, nuts, ice, and frozen produce into a smooth easily digested beverage. We’ve been having more blended meal/drinks lately and the ability to use a compact blender is very attractive. I don’t want to go smoothie happy, but there are some times, especially on the weekends, where having a health shake would be simpler than preparing a full meal. It also comes with blender containers that are more meal-sized, so you can blend and consume, rather than blending, poring a messy mixture into a cup, and then eating. The entire package is supposed to be cleaner, simpler, and more compact than our current blender. I also ordered a few components for the beast survival day pack ™ and the training DVD set for my steel clubs. I’m really going to enjoy opening the incoming packages and assembling the pack. The clubs represent hope for the action hero diet, but an eventual loss of free time and earlier mornings for me. There’s some ambivalence there that I expect to last until I get into the rhythm of the clubs. I’m seeing progress on many fronts. The beast cave ™ is coming along. I have to move some furniture around and consolidate some items, but it’s going to happen. Already it looks much more functional than a month ago. I got home today and started feeling like god was draining his water hose through my nose. Also, everywhere I went I smelled meat outside (my work is near an Outback steak house, an Italian eatery, and a major grouping of sit down places.) After almost 60 days without any red meat the brunette and I decided a five guys burger was in order. It was good, though not as good as I remembered. Lots of “bad food” is turning out like that. I think I’m supposed to feel bad about eating a huge meal but in reality I really needed this. I’m happy going back to lean meat and veggies; I just needed to fill this craving. I’m well aware that indulging cravings once every 60 days is fine, it’s turning that into once every thirty, then every week that causes problems. Whatever; got to live life I say. Starting weight today: 297.4 pounds. Intake: Breakfast=a bowl of oatmeal with mixed fruit. Work meal=A turkey and pepper jack wrap, an apple, Greek yogurt, and some unsalted almonds. Dinner=a big old burger and half a small fry. Going to go to sleep now and hope the morning is better. I took tomorrow off to read war bound when it’s released on audible…stupid sickness isn’t going to stop me enjoying that.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The making of an action hero pt21

Entry #20 Being the good guy is tuff. In real life people don’t always live up to your expectations. In real life your expectations are often unreasonable. In real life the best laid plans fall to pieces despite your best efforts. Of course, in real life happiness is often just as unexpected. Friday I went to WMTrainguy’s home for a relaxing dinner, drink, and game. The first exceeded my expectations (as his wife’s cooking usually does.) The third didn’t happen. So the second kept dark beast™ from coming out. I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t fair for me to be royally frustrated with childrens’ behavior and then sit in a corner with a drink in my hand as the progeny in question proceed to joyfully, systematically, and unknowingly smash my plans to flinders. Previously my logic went something like this. • If child does something I don’t like, sit back and let the parents take care of it unless catastrophe is imminent. • If this interaction happens in a public place, defer to the child since even minor corrections are often seen as unwanted intrusions. • Don’t advise parents that their children are ruining a perfectly good evening because that would be “rude.” Not surprisingly, that plan hasn’t gotten me very far except frustrated. Friday I escaped to the basement where I had hoped to engage the host’s forces over a glass of something strong and flavorful. Several of the communal children ventured to the same area because (displaying excellent taste) they determined that was where the best toys might be found. In a display of cruel irony, those of us interested in quiet relaxation found ourselves cast in the role of involentary babysitters—preemptively scuttling our plans. The brunette discussed events with me and pointed out that while it’s rude to tell parents that their children are being rude, it’s no more acceptable for the kids in question to forcibly conscript unwilling adults into their machinations—especially if they’re destroying things in the process. One must understand that beast loves children and will go to great lengths to accommodate them. However, beast also tends to focus on one thing at a time and does not take well to being passively aggressively cornered into doing something by default, be it by parents happy to let others watch their children or by their spawn. Going forward, there will be a new set of protocols. Children will be told that in the rare times when he is neither willing nor required to deal with them that this isn’t a good time and that they should either find something else to do or wait until beast is finished what he is doing. Failure to follow this directive will result in a firm request to please leave beast alone. If that doesn’t work the parents will be petitioned. It isn’t fair for me to be angry with children when I haven’t set the right expectation. They won’t learn if I sit in a corner and broodingly marinate my liver—otherwise known as sulking like a child. The parents can’t honestly be blamed if I set the expectation that I’m fine with the current state of affairs—even if courtesy should prompt them to recognize the problem. I’ve been trying for a while to deal with issues promptly and politely rather than suffering in silence. The brunette calls it my martyr complex—due to my responses in such circumstances recalling those of Kif from Futurama. I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to, but it still happens. Saturday, Agents Squish and MX joined me for a rainy hike to some of our local portals. It was less of a patrol and more of a chance to get out of the house. Nobody was around—the skies lightly sprinkling the concrete jungle with their bounty. We hacked several portals and worked our way through the local historical society. There, sheltered from the rain under a tree at the top of a hill we had a peaceful moment among special agents. The war for humanity rarely leaves an agent such freedom; but one learns to celebrate the moments when the scanners quiet chirp harmonizes with the world we protect. Such moments make an agent’s work worthwhile. Today I slepped in after staying up late reading the most recent Kate Daniels book. Man, there’s an action hero. I finished the book this morning over coffee, a piece of Cherylkat’s apple bread, and a health shake of bananas, strawberries, spinach, almonds, skim milk, and touches of vanilla vodka and chocolate syrup. Following that repast, WMTrainguy and his lovely wife came up to try out the 1911 we’re selling. We shot a box of .45 hardball through the ATI and a box of copper jacketed .22 through the conversion unit. Both magazines feed better after I left them loaded for 2 weeks in the gun safe. The .45 only had 2 FTFs out of 50 rounds and the GSG fed flawlessly. Most semiautomatics require between 500 and 1,000 rounds fired to break them in. The parts have to find their rhythm and the magazines need to be mellowed out. The lower down the production ladder you go, the longer the break in period and the greater the chance of getting a dud. Buying a gun is about compromises in cost, reliability, value, and performance. They may or may not buy the gun, but either way I’m glad to see the ATI breaking in so easily. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the lair—putting things in order, consolidating, and throwing trash away. It’s coming along slowly but nicely. I have plans to put in play as soon as the brunette gets her low table. That worthy spent most of the day resting as she’s been under the weather. After dinner she asked me to come listen to a piece of music. I liked it but couldn’t identify the style or composer. There’s a good reason for that. She went to: And commissioned an action hero theme song for me to commemorate my most recent successes. It was a wonderful, unexpected, and touching gesture. I guess I have to finish my training montage now. After all, now I have to earn enough reward levels to create a soundtrack. You can listen to my theme entitled “The Man” here: Today’s weight=295.4 pounds. Intake: Breakfast=A piece of apple bread, a health shake, and 2 cups of coffee. There was no lunch. Dinner=2 bowls of Mexican rice and chicken leftovers. I didn’t eat leftover dessert, the two mountain dues Cherylkat left in the fridge, or any chocolate.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The making of an action hero pt20

Entry #19 Success! I averaged 298.12 pounds this week with today’s weight at 297.8 pounds. So, 8 pounds to go to hit my goal for August. Daddy gets a new pair of sunglasses! In reality I weighed less than this at least once the week before, but didn’t stabilize that low. That’s probably why I’ve been so hungry this week. You can starve yourself down to a point, but that isn’t healthy. I was climbing the stairs to our lair yesterday and it hit me without warning. Cheeseburger sub…mmm…mmm… I haven’t had one of those in several months. Heck, I haven’t had red meat in over a month. I have no idea what our neighbors were cooking. Whatever it was it smelled exactly like the loaded cheeseburger subs I used to order from Bubba’s. I wanted to break down in tears it smelled so good. The smell of meat grilling, the thought of a trip to five guys, the memory of a few fingers of good bourbon in a glass over ice, these things have certainly moved me to covetousness since I started making better choices. But this was a whole different magnitude of craving. Must—have—meat!! I wanted to give voice to a barbaric yop and conquer that smell. It was visceral. I hope this isn’t a taste of what’s to come. I controlled the urge to break into my neighbor’s home with cookie monster-esk single mindedness. Maybe adding a little red meat back into the diet is in order. Speaking of cravings, I have to give the brunette credit. She’s cut out soda from the house, entirely, cold turkey. That is about as hard core as you can get. Soda was a thing for her—she was pretty close to main lining it a few times. I like soda. I’ll drink one every once in a while. When it was around I’d pound It.; but it wasn’t ever something I had to absolutely have. I do love my blue due, but I kicked the energy drink/soda habit a while ago. It takes force of will to just stop drinking it every day and make it a clean break. She has stopped buying junk even for herself. I can eat the same thing over and over again, but she’s a bit pickier. So to just cut a big part of her diet like that is impressive. Soda isn’t the only thing we’ve stopped stocking regularly. We’ve stopped buying lots of things including alcohol, soda, chips, heavier pasta sauces, ice cream, Italian sausage, and seasoned snacks. That doesn’t include the food we don’t order any more, which is basically everything. I’m not fooling myself into believing that I’ll never order another meal again. There are going to be days when a bag of jellybeans is coming home with me. I enjoy specialty and one-off snacks. If someone sees something really interesting or really good I’m going to try it—I’m going to keep living life. The thing is that I don’t miss them as much as I thought I would. Some of that is probably due to the fact that we’ve substituted a variety of menu options to take their place. Another is that our closest friends are doing something similar—so there’s support for our choices outside our home. The couple that we get together with once a week voluntarily started bringing snack mixes rather than chips to our gatherings. Our best friends often share our meals and cook equivalent dishes when we visit. I really appreciate that kind of unspoken no-fuss support. That and the stabilization of my work schedule are the two biggest reasons we’ve been able to make this work. Today I’m headed out to a dinner with friends. WMTrainguy’s lovely wife is making fantastic food. I’ll play a game or two with my early war French recon and tank companies, perhaps enjoy an adult beverage, and eat some food that doesn’t precisely count as healthy. I’ve had the last of the Brunette’s leftover Mac-and-cheese because I’m hungry, eating now means I won’t gorge later, and because I’d rather eat a little now and a little later than three times the combined amount. It’s been a good day with more to come. As a final note, lots of people show up in these essays. More will likely make their way in here over time. I need two things, what you’d prefer to be called and what you think my action hero name should be. Agent MX and others have taken to calling me beast, but I’m not sure that will last. I could keep calling Squish’s wife “the Jew” but I’m not sure that’s how she wants to be remembered (even though most of our friends circle humorously refers to her that way from time to time.)