Tuesday, March 30, 2004

"It's only 4, but it feels like 5", he said

It's raining (again) as I write this. Looking out from my window, I can see the rain sliding across my view in sheets as the wind pushes it. The only good thing I can say about this rain is that I'm not out in it at this moment.

I've spent a slow day at work, tidying various loose ends. Managed to get out of the office for a long jaunt at lunchtime, to do some window shopping, though all I managed to do was to get something for the wife. This morning as I put on my shirt, I realised that for some strange reason, the sleeves were too short - this, from a shirt that fit some months ago. Have my arms grown longer? Has the shirt shrunk? A mystery indeed. A call to buy more shirts perhaps? I feel the need to re-assert my consumer identity, so perhaps a shopping trip is in order after work, if for nothing but to break up the boredom of today.

On the gaming front, the Napnuts Forum has been the site of some interesting action recently,which should have died down as I write this. Suffice to say that lack of tact in an online forum always pushes a few buttons.

Monday, March 29, 2004

$4500 to not be aggravated on the way to work

I was reminded today of how much I have grown to hate public transportation.

On the daily commute to work, the train was crowded as usual, so when a space opened up behind me, I sat down. This lady who was also gunning for the seat, but who, to be frank, simply moved slower than me, immediately when into a massive pout/fume/mumble mode. In fact, she sent out such obvious vibes of "I have been wronged"-ness that when a seat opened up, she ignored me when I tried subtly to indicate to her to take it, and she refused when another man, who had noted her unhappiness, very kindly asked her to take it. It wasn't until two stations later that her pride allowed her to take a seat, whereupon she continued to mumble and mutter against me.

I guess it didn't help that I found the whole situation rather amusing, and her rather laughable, and showed it, since that obviously incensed her more, but I simply could not understand how someone could take something like this so personally. Evidently, the whole world was against her this morning, wasn't it?

Sigh. Still, it got on my nerves, and put a dent in my Monday morning.

I did a little calculation.
Price of MRT trip: approx $2.00
Price of Taxi to work: approx $20.00
Number of days of commuting to work per year: approx 250
Average frequency at which one bumps into people on public transportation who aggravate you: Once a year

How much it would cost to avoid people like that by taking a taxi to work everyday: $4500 per year. (For the commute to the office only)

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Shakespeare would be rolling in his grave

So what do you do when you're waiting for the Reduced Shakespeare company to start, and you've been staring at a stage backdrop with the names of all of Shakespeare's plays on them?

That's right, you start wondering what they would be named if they were porn movies. No, don't ask me why - it just happened. I blame the company I was with for these terrible, terrible thoughts. = )

Here's as far as we got.
(the frightening thing is that some of these are probably actually real movies)

Let's start with the easy ones:
As You Lick It
Love's Labours Lust
The Merchant of Penis
A Midsummer Night's Cream
Taming of the Screw
Antony and Clit-opatra
Coriol Anus
Julius Sieze-Her (yes, I know - lame. But we're trying to achieve something here, so let's push on)
King Leer
Romeo and Rosalind and Juliet
Tits Andronicus

Then there's the history plays -
Dick II
Dick III
Obviously a winning formula, with sequels. The Henry plays are a bit of a problem though.

Then there's some that don't even need re-naming to qualify as porn:
Measure for Measure
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Merry Wives of Windsor
All's Well That Ends Well

and my favourite,

King John

That leaves us with the ones that just won't bend to accomodate modern tastes (some problem plays here, obviously):
Troilus and Cressida
The Comedy of Errors
Much Ado About Nothing
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
The Tempest
A Winter's Tale
Timon of Athens

Friday, March 26, 2004

"One more quiz, just one more", he said, manfully.

OK, one last quiz, and I'll stop. This one's just too cool to pass up.

>Dangerous men? Why captain, you have no idea.
>Which Extraordinary Gentleman are you?

More quizzes

I don't even listen to their music, but apparently, according to the almighty Quiz, I'm them.

Hmm. It strikes me that quizzes like this are a good substitute for actual blogging. A veiled and filtered way of telling other people something about yourself (which is what blogging is about) without really telling them anything (which, for some people, is what blogging is about as well).

Modern rock! You're very good! Your lyrics have
lots to say, but you can go crazy sometimes...
Careful now... Just keep making that music
that keeps the rock world watching!

What genre of rock are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


Couldn't resist the pun on the title.

Went to see T's exhibition at Objectifs last night. Very impressed with his set of portraits of the elderly - emotive without being overly sentimental, enough "grit" without losing aesthetic and technical beauty, and images that were, for want of a better word, "rich" - by which I mean you could look at them more than once, and see something different captured in the faces of the subjects.

Most of the other work on display was equally impressive, although I must confess I was puzzled by some photographs, which, even within the broadest definition of photography, did not really strike me as good.

"Good" is a very subjective term, and photography is often more diverse than we think - the definition of a "good" photograph depends on where within the spectrum of photography it lies. A good fashion photograph is judged by very different criteria than artchitectural photography, for example, and street photography has an aesthetic of its own which is not the same as for landscape photography.

My own biases run towards strong and striking compositions, towards a more "realist" mode of photography, but I can appreciate how photographs can work well within other criteria. I guess what I'm saying is that, given that I'm not a completely objective observer (well, no observer is completely objective anyway), but there were still one or two photos that stretched beyond my scope of acceptance. Still, it was an impressive exhibition overall, and I look forward to seeing next year's.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Saw this quiz on D's blog, and decided I'd give it a shot since I'm a fan of the series.

Dream, the third of The Endless, you are in charge of the Dreaming, all imagination and creativity, everyone knows your beautiful realm, but none truly understand it. You are dark and%2
Dream, the third of The Endless, you are in charge
of the Dreaming, all imagination and
creativity, everyone knows your beautiful
realm, but none truly understand it. You are
dark and brooding, creative, and spend a lot of
time by yourself, just thinking. You are almost
as serious as Destiny, but not quite. Everyone
is enchanted by you, but you keep them all at a
distance, even when you shouldn't.

Which Endless are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

So I'm Dream apparently. Cool.


Update on the painting: completed two walker models so far. Took some nice high-key shots against a white background, and put them on the gallery.

I decided to paint them Panzer grey, since the last time I tried to paint camo patterns I screwed it up completely. Some light weathering and highlighting, a bit of GW style basing, and they are good to go. I numbered them 912 and 913, which would make them the second and third vehicles of the first platoon in the ninth company of a regiment, a position that in real life (i.e. real WW2 rather than the alternate reality of Gear Krieg) might have been occupied by heavy tank companies or tank destroyer units attached to the normal orbat of a regiment (two tank battalions of four companies each). In the alternate reality setting of Gear Krieg, it's possible that the PanzerKampfer combat walkers would be in that position.

Oh alright, I didn't have enough numbers to spell out 1012 and 1013, which would have been better, since the combat walkers wouldn't have replaced any tank destroyer or heavy tank units, but have been above and beyond that. And I didn't have anything other than balkan crosses, so each vehicle only got one on the opposite leg from the unit numbering. So there.

Oh, and Iffy is responsible for the title of this post. She jumped on the keyboard as I was typing - after dumping her unceremoniously off my keyboard, I decided to leave her contribution intact.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Kit bashing

No, nothing to do with Kit Chan.

Kit bashing is when wargamers like me decide that an existing model kit is just not good enough, and decide to make our own. In this case, the game in question is Gear Krieg, by Dream Pod 9.

Gear Krieg describes itself as "two-fisted pulp superscience in a world at war". The short translation: World War 2 with mecha. (you can see the appeal straight away - I've always been a sucker for the gigantic fighting robot genre of anime and games). I bought the rules some time back, and was sufficiently intrigued by them to want to start a game.

A brief rundown of what's interesting: Gear Krieg uses a "roll many dice, take the highest roll" system, with more dice being rolled for better units. It also uses a "margin of success multiplier" system, where the number you defeat your opponent by in an opposed roll is multiplied against a damage factor to determine the final damage. This is quite new to me - I've tried the "buckets o' dice" systems (e.g. Warhammer), I've played the traditional "consult many tables" systems (e.g. Squad/Panzer Leader), and I've tried the radical "let's muck around with abstracted time" systems (Crossfire being an excellent example, which, despite everything, is a very playable and fun game).

Two problems that have kept me from buying Dream Pod 9's miniatures. One: the price is exhorbitant - a single mecha costs around USD$15 (and since the mecha have a "walker" mode and a "ground" mode, you need two of them if you're anal enough ... and I am). Add shipping, and it comes to quite a bit. Two: DP9 sells its miniatures in 15mm scale - and the preponderance of WW2 figs owned by the Napnuts (the group I game with) is in 20mm scale.

Solution? Make my own mecha. The initial results of the kit bash are in this gallery.

Kitbashed Valkurie
Originally uploaded by Wahj.

Since starting to use
Flickr, I've begun to refurbish old posts where I used to link to an external gallery. Here's a picture of the Valkurie in question. Clicking on it will take you to a larger version.

I've posted pics of the drawings from the Gear Krieg rulebook for comparison, and I'm quite pleased with the results. It took me till 2am last night, but I managed to kitbash a Valkurie walker from an Airfix SdKfz 222 kit, an Airfix M4 Halftrack kit, and a whole lot of plasticard. With any luck (and assuming the local hobby stores don't run out of cheap Airfix kits to use as parts) I should be able to run a Gear Krieg game this weekend! Heh.

Sometimes it's the simple things that keep you going ...

Update 1
Took a long hard look at the photos of the scratchbuilt Valkurie. Decided it didn't resemble the drawings enough. Decided to rebuild the entire leg section. There goes the evening ...

Update 2
OK, the revamped model can be seen here on the gallery

Friday, March 19, 2004

Friday, slow and grey

It's like someone has dipped this entire day into formaldehyde, extracted its internal organs for storage, and mummified the whole thing in swathes of grey. Everything looks so dull. Something seems to have leached all meaning out of this day.

All I can do is sit at the computer and push keys with a passing semblance of work, while I wait these doldrums out.

(mandatory silver lining: I get to leave at 5pm today)

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Stop me if you've heard this one before ...

3 robbers rob a businessman in Malaysia. On the run from the polis, they grab a sampan and motor on to Singapore, where, of all places, they choose to land on Pulau Tekong - an island controlled by the military. An island that is practically the backyard of the Commandos. Commandos who probably don't appreciate unwelcome guests, especially those bearing weapons.

Hang on for the punch line ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Spam, Part Two

... and something perhaps even wierder: someone who has managed to create poetry using only subject headings from spam she's received.

Here's a sample:

"American Patriots,
How can we serve you better?
We have decided to increase your credit,
Increase your penis size, now
Give you free money.

Just Vote Bush. Your wife will never know."
(from Spam Poetry, by Kristin Thomas)

= )

Spam, Part One

The first of two interresting articles on spam I encountered today. This one's about someone actually likes spam. An attitude completely alien to me, who spends most of his time deleting spam from his email account ... still, it's interesting to see the personality profile of someone spammers rely on to keep them in business.

Carrying on

In between recovering from the latent flu/cough I got from getting drenched during the in-camp (the rain, it raineth everyday ... I've never seen it just pour down like that) it's taken me till today to clear all the work that's piled up on my desk in the weeks I've been away.

Most of this was just email. All in all, there was a surprising amount of respect for the "Out of Office" message - only one person emailed me, without cc-ing an adjacent level of command, and without re-sending to another officer, after reading the out of office notification. Enormous potential for a fuck-up there, but thankfully it was something with a reasonably distant time horizon, so I can still pick up the ball and play on.

The rest of the work's been catching up with colleagues, attending various ad-hoc meetings to get myself back up to speed on work here, and trying to print out and file everything that's come through my desk that needs documentation. That said, I did manage to sneak off with a friend at lunch time yesterday to buy myself the new army gore-tex jacket. Yes, that's right - I'll never be wet again, never! Well, at least not as wet as I was that day. That's 152 dollars of high-tech dryness I've just invested in ... I almost feel like wearing the thing now just to get some sense of a return on investment.

And wouldn't you know it, as I look out the window, the weather looks fine. = )

Monday, March 15, 2004

Back from the Army

After a long hiatus away from blogging, here's an update.

I've spent the last two weeks back in the army, for my yearly reservists training. I've been called back every year without fail since I've finished national service, with the exception of last year (although, due to the fact that the army counts a year as beginning in April, the in-camp training I just went for counts as last year's, which maintains my record. The army really loves me), but this year's in-camp training was tougher by far than the others (with the possible exception of our little jaunt down under, but I was 5 years younger then). I can't, and won't go into the details, but I will say that the one good thing that came out this in-camp was that it reminded me why I bother to do this - the men in my company. They're the reason why I go back every year and do my time, instead of finding a medical excuse like some people have. It's tough being a company commander, but the men of Charlie company make it worthwhile. Someone told me before the end that they liked Charlie company because it was the fun company to be in (bear in mind this is relative to the others - I doubt anyone really has absolute fun being away from work, career, and family for two weeks), and I was quite touched by that. This in-camp, I even had people asking to transfer in to the company, which is something new to me.

Anyway, it's good to be back home at last. Words cannot express the joy of your own bed, and the aura of comfort that home radiates. I'm gonna crawl back into my den and curl up for a good, long rest now ...