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April 30, 2005

We Missed You, Johnny!

A while ago, back in the heyday of the Feng Shui roleplaying game, there was a fan website named the Fortress of Shadow, ran by a guy named David Eber. I'd go in there on a regular basis, not only to see whether there was anything new, but also just to check out the existing stuff again.

Probably may favourite article was on a bunch of secret warriors and jazzmen named Johnny Keys and the Swing Killers. It consists of an interview with the titular band, followed by game statistics and history for each band-member. There was even a little WAV-file that'd play a MIDI-style jazz number.

Then, a few years ago, the Fortress of Shadow, as well as the rest of David's site, suddenly vanished into the Netherworld, leaving behind a bunch of dead links on the web pages of other Feng Shui fans. No-one seemed to know where the Fortress had gone, or whether anything was up with David. And this was before the grand days of Google caching, so none of it existed where it could be easily found.

Just recently, though, someone on RPGnet posted a link to a website named fortressofshadow.org. When I first tried to have a look, BigPond ADSL was giving me its usual grief, and I couldn't get in. But this morning I tried the URL again, and sure enough, a new site with all the old goodness sprang up in my browser window - and the first thing I did was to check whether the band was back as well.

They are. Thanks to the labour of Kevin J. Chase and the permission of David Eber, the goodness behind the Fortress' walls are availabe to anyone with a Net connection once again!

Let's face it; I'm going ga-ga over a faux interview bunch of stats. But I still think that the world was a lot poorer when even just that single page about Johnny and the Killers wasn't available.

If only I'd known...

In early November, I decided that, as the odds of finding fellow players in Carins were slim and as I'd not actually played it since long before I'd moved in with Vickie, I'd sell off my Necromunda gear.

Turns out that Paul, one of the gamers I met through the Meetup group, not only plays but is organising something of a tournament with a friend.

I think the word I'm looking for is "bugger".

April 24, 2005

Warhammer 40,000: Eldar Miniatures

After playing a little more Dawn of War with Boots today, I started trying to remember some of the elements of the paper game; specifically, which of the Eldar Aspect Warriors don't appear in Dawn of War. I readily remembered the Dire Avengers, a souped-up version of the basic Guardian foot trooper, but couldn't remember whether there were more.

This afternoon, the name "Striking Scorpion" came to me, something to do with close combat. I did a Google search and turned up Peter Kofler's wonderful web page with pictures of almost all the miniatures available to the Eldar. I realised that, not only had I forgotten the Scorpions, but also the Fire Dragons and the Swooping Hawks. Also, it seems that another Aspect has been added since I stopped paying attention to the Warhammer 40,000 army lists some years ago: a vehicle-based Aspect known as the Shining Spear.

Actually, forget all the above blathering; just go and have a look. The paint jobs on these miniatures are fantastic (I have the feeling the pics are scans from Games Workshop books and magazines). While you're at it, check out the other sides from Dawn of War; specifically, the Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines and (it now belongs to da) Orks. (Not to mention all the other sides available in 40K!)

You can see why I was contemplating getting back into 40K before I decided moving to Cairns would be the better idea...

All Quiet on the RPG Front

After the recent promise shown by my initial foray into finding/creating a tabletop gaming presence in Cairns, things seem to have slowed down a bit. The Meetup Group isn't really active, and hasn't been since the first (and last) meetup. Now that Meetup.com has introduced monthly fees, I'm debating whether to just let it die in a week or two (otherwise I'm paying $11 to $25 a month depending on how quickly I start paying).

One of the gamers we met tried to hook up with us again, but unfortunately conflicting schedules put paid to that. It's got to the point that I'm starting to suffer withdrawal symptoms! :-)

Still, there's a little recent light at the end of the tunnel. I joined a site called Fantasy Sci-Fi, an Australian outfit dedicated to finding and organising local gamers and fans, over a year ago. It too has been a bit quiet of late (heck, I hardly ever used my ID since I first signed in). However, after reactivating my ID (thanks to Trent, the owner/operator), I did notice a post by a gamer who lives up the Gillies Highway from us, looking for fellow gamers in Cairns. I replied, and so did he, so I'm privately hopeful things might eventuate soon...

I have, I think, another editorial coming up on the general gaming subject. It's prompted by this post over on the 20' By 20' Room. It's still percolating some right now.

Oh, and Vickie and I will probably spend most of Anzac Day playing Hordes of the Underdark.

Temp to Permanent?

This might be getting ahead of myself a bit, but Centrelink has advertised some local permanent positions with the call centre. I've sent my resume to the appropriate contact, so here's hoping.

The work itself will be in a slightly different area than I'm in at the moment, and the hours will be shorter - but it'll still be a permanent position, so we can relax a little more!

April 21, 2005

Live at Five (past Five)

Yes, indeed, folks: If you were in the Cairns area this evening with an FM radio tuned into 89.1 FM between just after the five o'clock regional news and before six, you would have heard the voice of yours truly coming out of your speakers! There was a little uncertainty as to what I was meant to be doing when I got there (no one talks to anyone these days), but Trish and (I think) Pat (I'm very sorry if I got that wrong!) at Cairns Community Radio were more than willing to let me have a turn on the mike.

The show was Reading for the Print Handicapped, which selects articles from the day's Cairns Post to be read out for those who have trouble reading. The articles were read in clockwise order, and the ladies were very impressed with me; it looks like I'm part of the regular slot from five to six on Thursday nights!

April 17, 2005

Girl from Ipanema

"Well, at least if it's putting you to sleep it must be a little bit soothing..."
- Colleague discussing hold music with client.

Riverstone Road

Ladies and gentlemen, I would very much like to announce to you all the arrival of the much-requested but long-delayed photos of the new old place.

Let me start with probably the first thing you'd see when coming to our place from the main road:

You Can't See The Forest...

Yes, there is definitely a house behind there. We're very glad of all those trees, though. Riverstone Road runs across the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Innisfail, and being close to the corner, we get a lot of car and truck traffic going up and down (though nowhere near as much has on Pennant Hills Road). The trees buffer most of the noise and give us a good deal of privacy.

Here's what you see when you're pulling into our driveways:

House & Front Garden

Yep, that's our place. There's another driveway to the left of frame which leads straight into the back garden (well, technically both of them do, it's just that there's a carport behind that roll-a-door). Behind that window on the front wall is our computer room.

You will also note the expensive yet decorative deck ornament:

Zelda with Right Ear in Aerodynamic Configuration

The shot below is what you see when you look left at the end of our driveway, toward the Highway.

Bruce Hwy and Caltex

Yes, we have a Caltex right across the road from us, which is great when you want junk food with relatively little effort. The bad news is that you take your life in your hands just by walking across the road to get there and back; people don't seem to particularly care much about who or what else is on the road when they're going in or coming out of the Caltex. Also, things tend to get a bit rowdy there on some weekend nights; the local youth element likes to use it as a hangout. (We're pretty sure that some teens use the area around the back for some pretty rough casual group sex now and again. It hasn't been bad lately, but when it gets hot and sticky... well, it gets hot and sticky.)

Here's a shot of the back of our house, including the entertainment area and some of the garden:

Around the Back

Panning right a little gives you a better shot of our garden and the aforementioned second driveway:

Our Backayrd, Pt. 1

The cylindrical object on the ground to the right of centre is a new roll-a-door we have to cut to size to replace the broken one in our carport.

This is our entertainment area (some of you may recognise the table and chairs):

Entertainment Area

The whole concrete area is covered by a corrugated roof that runs all the way back to the house's roof. This means we can stay outside and be comfortable in even heavy rain (although it might get hard to hear each other speak). You'll also notice the presence of a new barbie.

The bare earth to the back of frame is where I stood when I took the last two photos. The grey patches are where we've put crusher-dust down to fill in the wheel-ruts left by our former tenants.

If you move over to the table and chairs and do a 150-160, you'll see this view of the back wall of our house and the garden bed up against it:

Back Wall and Garden Bed

We've (well, mainly Vickie has) put a lot of work into the whole garden since we got back. In the case of this particular garden bed, the low plants to the left of that big clump of Elephant Ear are either new or transplanted from other areas. The statue of the Buddha is also new. Again, some of you might recognise those hanging wind charms.

Here's another shot of the garden from the bottom of the second driveway:

Our Backyard, Pt. 2

And here's what you see if you look up the garden from just beyond the carport:

Palm Trees and Bird Bath

Very nice, even if the palm nut fronds make our lives difficult now and again. That bird bath down the bottom is a wonderful source of amusement for us on warm days. We've had doves, Willie Wagtails, honeyeaters, finches, all sorts come to drink and bathe there. Thankfully, Zelda leaves them well enough alone.

April 09, 2005

April 05 Update

Okay, little overdue for an update, website looked like crap for a little while. Still gotta fix that soon. Anyway: on with the update!

Firstly, things are looking up on the work front. Right about the time we got socked with some rather largish bills that would have otherwise depleted our reserves, Centrelink announced that the contacts of the temp crews (including yours truly) will be extended out to June. Concurrent with that announcement was the news that our existing hours were incorrect; we should be working from 8 AM to 4 PM instead of to 4.30 like everyone else (well, everyone else gets shifting schedules, but they only work seven and a half hours per day as opposed to our eight). We keep our existing hours until the end of April, as those were the terms negotiated with the employment agency, but after that, the contract extension will see us work two-and-a-half hours less per week.

I'm still kind of hoping that I might wind up wth a more permanent job there after the extension ends, but I am trying to keep my eyes open for other work (although it's a little tricky to look when you only get a half hour for lunch).

You may be glad to know that our dog Zelda is responsible for me getting more exercise than I have in a while. I've actually taken to walking her twice a day - well, she only got walked once today. But Zelda's decided that walking just isn't fast enough; it's a rare walk that she doesn't grab the lead with her teeth and try to get me to pick up the pace!

I'm glad of the exercise, as working at the Centrelink call centre is pretty much a sit-down job.

On a loosely related topic, I think I mentioned that colleague of mine who suggested a local talent agency as a possibility for some voice work. She also reckoned I ought to get in touch with a local community radio station, gave me their number and even told the manager to expect a call! Being not one to disappoint (often, anyway), I called, and I'll be getting together with him this Thursday after work to talk about how I can get involved with the station! It'll probably be on a volunteer basis, but it'll be something different, and hopefully open up a new door or two.

Back to the topic of bills, I've known that we have to get our Argenta registered locally for a while, but thought we had a bit of grace time. It turns out, as I discovered when I checked the Queensland Transport website during the week, that we are in fact almost two months over the two-week grace period (from when the car becomes permanently garaged in Queensland). So, a frantic booking of safety checks has ensued, and hopefully by the end of this coming week Argenta should be fully registered as a Queensland vehicle! (It'll just mean we're a couple of days late in paying the $300 broadband bill.)

We're still trying to budget for the finishing of the kitchen. The new cupboards and counters are in, and Vickie was just saying again today how much she loves her new pantry cupboard, but the walls are still in a state. Also, we still need a new power point in the front computer room and probably a little recabling to boot. Going in to the Cairns Post Home and Garden Expo last weekend was great; we came away with quite a bit of info on what we could get done and how much it might cost. (We also came away with a coffee grinder, Max Payne 2 for the PC and Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge for the Xbox, but that's another matter.) So, yeah, another reason to get some permanent work soon!

As you could probably tell from some of the recent posts, I've been playing a fair bit of the real time strategy game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War in the past couple of weeks. I haven't been doing it so much last week (trying to spend a bit more quality time with my Vickie), but I'm hoping it can be a semi-regular (if not too regular) thing, as it's kept me in touch with Tony Mac (friend from the old job) and Boots in Sydney. Now if only Gav could get a copy... ;-) Just kidding, Gav!

The RPG front has been fairly slow. I've found at least one other RPGer over on the Far North Queensland Gamer's Lounge, a forum more for computer gamers and LAN-heads than dice & pencils types, I've met with Steve Darlington's mate Scott Lette, I've organised the first get-together of the Cairns Meetup Group (and splashed out on Primetime Adventures shortly after landing the Centrelink job), but since the last of those milestones was passed (back in arnd early March) the car's pulled over at the motel for a while. The second Meetup didn't really happen, one of the Group members has gone to Sydney (whether on holiday or permanently, I'm not sure) and Scott's going to be getting out of town sometime in the next few months. So, it's going slowly and not too surely, but it's still enough to give Vickie and I some hope of getting a game going.

For all you folks asking for pics of the new place, I can only apologise again for the delay. I'll be getting the lawn mowed tomorrow. and if the digital camera will stop chewing through batteries at a scary rate (for some odd reason it's now decided that two AAs are good for a few photos and a single upload to the PC before running out of juice) I might be able to get some photos taken.

The Saga of the Notebook

If you know me, then you'll know I like to carry at least one notebook around with me so that I can jot ideas down as they come to me for future use in campaigns, stories and, yes, posts to this very web log. Not so long ago, there was a long period where I carried no less than two 300-leaf notebooks with me almost everywhere; one for general notes and the other specifically for the 25th Black Talon: The Corsairs campaign.

Unfortunately, since moving in here at Gordonvale, I've not found my general notebook anywhere. It's a right bugger, that; there's a year-or-so's worth of ideas for the mining. Also, it measn I have nothing to write any new ideas down on. No, I won't use the Corsairs notebook; it is sacrosanct, to be taken of the shelf if and only if I can get another Heavy Gear campaign off the ground (and I do ralise it may be sitting on that shelf for quite some time yet).

Thus, I have quested to find myself a new notebook. There seems a paucity of places that sell a range of notebooks here - at least within convenient driving distance, anyway. And the new job only has the full-size A4 jobs; I can't pilfer the odd one or two as I did at the old job. (Hey, they wanna save costs by outsourcing and cancelling bonuses, I'll feel less guilty about a $2 notebook.) I did find an anorexic 100-leaf notebook at the local IGA, but found it - how can I put this? - unsatisfying.

Then today, I went into the newsagent at the Mount Sheridan shopping centre, where I chanced upon this little darling. My previous notebooks were fairly cumbersome top spiral jobs that could not be conveniently put into a jacket pocket; this one, even if thicker by 100 leaves, is so much more convenient, and there's just somethign very attractive about the side-binding instead of the top-binding. It's like those little leather-bound notebooks they sell at art stores for $80 a pop (marketed as the favoured notepad of such luminaries as Ernest Hemmingway) but with many more pages and much less wanky. I can't wait to start filling it with ideas for stories (that I'll probably never write) and games (that I'll probably never run).

Yes, I am too enthused about a notebook. So what?

April 01, 2005

So what's this Armour Class thingy?

I can think of a few people who could use a copy of Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies.

Myself included.