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March 31, 2006

Figging Hell...

Unfortunately, we've had to postpone that Starship Troopers playtest lined up for tomorrow. And it's all the fault of this thing:

fig_2.jpg

A gent from a tree-lopping service is coming over tomorrow morning to take a chainsaw to that fallen fig. Which is a good thing, frankly; the sooner it's gone, the sooner we can tell the insurance company to get to work on fixing the fence up. Only problem is, we don't know how long the job will take, which leaves our players hanging. So, rather than risk my life by tapping my foot impatiently whilst looking over the shoulder of a guy working with a chainsaw, I reckon it's best to put the game back a week.

Frankly, though, I will say this about the insurance company (CGU, by the way), the tree-lopper (Bumblebee Tree Lopping), the antenna guys (FNQ Same Day Antennas), and the aforementioned electricity and phone companies and emergency service folk: Our personal experience with all of the above is that their responsiveness has great, especially considering how busy they must all be at the moment.

Besides, it gives me time to get those Bugs and MI miniatures painted up...

March 30, 2006

Invasion?

Vickie and I had an absolutely horrid night last night; neither of us could get comfortable enough to sleep for any great length of time. As a result, I'm buggered (and very sinus-y) and am spending the day in.

Yesterday evening, I finally pulled my box of six plastic Arachnid Warriors off the shelf and started assembling one in preparation for the game of Starship Troopers I'll be running for Vickie, Simon, Cristel and (with any luck) a couple of others on Saturday. I cleaned, shaved and glued together, ending up with a rather nasty looking Bug. I put it up on the top shelf of our bookshelves with the Mobile Infantry miniatures.

Around two this morning, with the whole insomnia bit raging, I decided to put another one together. That's when I noticed that the first one was missing. Vickie and I had a look around the shelves, the living room, anywhere else I might have put it after picking it up again (which I don't remember doing; in fact, I remember quite specifically where I put it down); no sign of it. I couldn't (and still can't) see any bits of dog-chewed plastic on the floor anywhere. I assembled the second Bug, had another quick look around, and tried going to bed again.

I'm thinking of putting a third one together - figure I might as well get some painting done if I'm home, the rest of those paints I ordered arrived earlier this week - but I'm a little worried. What if it goes and joins the first one, wherever it's lurking, and takes the second one with it? What if they start breeding? We could wind up with a whole house full of angry Bugs, with no Mobile Infantry to call in! What're we going to do, Mr. Rico? The only hope I have is getting the word out so that the public know about the threat, then maybe someone can do someth - wait, what's that moving by the phone li

UPDATE: Found the little bastard! I just went out the back door to have a look at the flooding in the back patio (I'm thinking aobut setting up my paints there) and my right foot kicked something. It was the first Bug! How the hell it got outside, I don't know, but it must've been out there all night!

It was making a run for the weeds out the back, that was what it was doing. Thet was where it was going to start tunneling, under cover of foliage. Within a week, we would've had a nest underneath the vegetable garden beds, complete with a little Brain Bug plotting domination of the house...

March 24, 2006

Phew! That Was Close!

Some good news today. Firstly, Tropical Cyclone Wati has been steadily moving away from Far North Queensland for the past couple of days, keeping a rough parallel with the coast as it goes. So it seems we're not in for a repeat performance any time soon!

Secondly, we just had our aerial fixed today under insurance, so we're back with television! Okay, you can argue that that's not necessarily a good thing, but so far we've missed out on Commander In Chief, some Law & Order episodes and the Thursday re-run of The West Wing, so it's not entirely a bad thing to have it back, either.

Thirdly, the debris and most of the fallen trees in our yard were chopped and hauled off by our next door neighbour Mick and his kids on Wednesday. We owe them a great big debt of gratitude, which we intend paying back via two slabs of beer and a barbecue lunch or dinner.

March 21, 2006

In The Storm

All right, obligatory SF reference over (answer to pop quiz: name of Chapter Ten, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells). Here's a photo I took from our front window while all hell was breaking loose in Gordonvale:

Horizontal Rain

The rest were taken after things died down some. If you're interested in some "before" photos, check out the set I took around eleven months ago.

This is our back patio:

Wet Concrete

The broken wood is a makeshift door / gate that was from when Vickie had a spa in there (it was removed after she moved down to live with me). Thankfully, it was the only man-made object on our property to "go".

Now, you know that row of palm trees near the back of our garden? There's a photo of them in that April set. Check 'em out now:

Pasted Palms

Here's the result of aerial + gale:

Them Bloody Cockatoos...

And finally, here's a little picture I like to call, "What The Fig?!?"

What The Fig?!?

Okay, they're not the best, but they were taken while it was still raining. I'll try and take some more tomorrow - or ask Vickie to spare some time from cleaning up the yard to take some. Heck, we'll try and get a picture of the refuse pile we're building out the front for Council to take away. And maybe some of the street...

Ah Gat th' Paawah!

(Bop bop b-b-brrrm bop bop bop b-b-brrrm bop oh oh oh ohhhh... ah gat th' - er, ahem)

Yes, anyway, enough of the cliched Snap! references (not Black Box as I originally thought) and onto the good news: We not only have power back here at Riverstone Road, but after an initial delay, we now have land line and Internet again!

Power came back at around six PM, and I immediately rushed around switching lights and ceiling fans and fridge and freezer and PCs back on. What? The TV? You must be joking. Sunday week ago, the new aerial was pushed out of kilter a little during a storm; we lost signal on most channels, and the remaining one (Seven) was flaky. Yesterday morning, we had a cyclone. Whaddya reckon?

First thing I notice after having logged into my PC is that Skype was offline. I told it to log in; no dice. I glanced down at the ADSL modem, and the Internet connection light was off. Picked up our phone; power was on but no dial tone. Called Telstra's fault logging line on the mobile. Entered our house number as prompted and got an automated message saying there was a broken cable somewhere and estimated time of fix was 7pm EDST, Saturday 25th. So I told Vickie, and we were annoyed, but we counted our blessings.

Just ten minutes ago, the phone rang. Yes, the land line. It was Vickie's daughter Jenny in Brisbane, seeing how we're doing.

So yeah, we're all good! Well, mostly. There's still the yard and that fucking fig tree. Pictures to come. Including one of the aerial, in case you need a giggle! Anyway, 'scuse me a sec - the dog needs feeding! (Ahh, electric can openers - so nice!)

UPDATE: Okay, now this was very naughty of me: I totally forgot to give some much-deserved Mad Props to the State Emergency Services, the local electricity provider, Ergon Energy, and, of course, Telstra for getting things back up to speed so quickly. We honestly thought we'd be without power until Friday at least!

See You Larry, Oh Look, There's Wati

Ho, everyone. Thanks to all you folks who got in touch. I wish we were easier to contact, but we're pretty much incommunciado at the moment, as I'll explain below. (This is a sneaky-post from my work PC.) The most important thing is that Vickie, Zelda and I are very much alive and well, as is our house.

We were both pretty much up all night; we'd try to relax and sleep, then remember/think of one more preparation we could make; when we did get everything done, we'd usually get woken by the hourly cyclone warnings on the radio. Power flickered a few times, then finally went early in the morning. (Not on the radio, though; we made sure we had batteries in it.)

The gales really sterted to hit around six or so, and after seven we were both patrolling windows, keeping an eye on our trees. It was nerve-wracking, I can tell you; the rain was coming down so hard that not only was it coming in under the front door, but through the joins in the heavy wooden door itself! Judicious use of towels on our front door and louvred windows kept us nice and dry inside. We were really woried about the back patio, which is not only lower than the rest of the yard by an inch or two but also almost on a level with the back door, which leads straight ino the main living room. Thankfully, the concrete rail sleepers we put down around the edges of the patio directed the rainwater away from the door.

We had a close call or two, when it sounded as though we might have lost sections of our roof due to flying branches, and later on I noticed that our large fig out the back had uprooted (only had a shallow root system, as it turned out) and had fallen across the back part of one of our fences, wrecking two panels of it. I've taken some pictures, which I'll crop and post once we get power back.

The weather started to calm down at around nine, I think. We didn't stick our noses outside until a little before midday. House, car and all other important stuff was fine, but the yard was an utter mess. We spent most of the afternoon sawing and hauling on limbs of trees - we lost our male pawpaw tree, which is a bugger as it'll mean our three or four female trees are less likely to bear fruit - had a barbecue dinner and then collapsed into bed at eight thirty (which Vickie complained vociferously about) and slept like logs until six this morning.

As to the power situation, I took Zelda for a walk this morning and saw that the northern end of our road has power lines down all over the place. While the poles are still standing, some large trees came down on the lines themselves, and there are at least three houses that I doubt the owners can get out of due to lines down in the yards. On the way to work, I discovered that most of the southern suburbs of Cairns are without power; the only open supermarket had its own generators running. The city itself and immediate suburbs are pretty good, though, which is why I can get this post up.

So, we have house and running water, but no Internet, TV, computer, oven, stove or refrigeration (although we're managing the latter through judicious use of the fridge and a big bag of ice in the outside freezer). Also, because we have one of these new fandangled cordless phones that needs power to work, we can't call anyone, and local mobile reception is stuffed.

It could be a lot worse, though. Just ask the residents of the town of Innisfail; it was absolutely hammered on Monday. I'm looking at pictures in today's paper, and there's flooding, rubble power ploes down everywhere, lots of flat countryside where buildings and canefields used to be. The road between Innisfail and Cairns is cut by flooding - in fact, you can't go any further South than where the Bruce Highway meets Riverstone Road, at the very intersection where we live. (Which means we get queues of cars outside our place.) If you've got any spare prayer and / or good thoughts, they could really use 'em down there.

And here's the fun bit, it might still get a lot worse: Tropical Cyclone Wati, Category 2, is currently lurking off the coast. The latest BoM forecast has it heading west-south-west over the next twenty-four hours, and if it holds that course it'll be moving away from us. Here's hoping...

March 19, 2006

Inbound Hot

We've been through this house like a dose of salts today, getting windows taped, the garden cleared of anything that could become a projectile (or at least making sure any such are low to the ground and/or weighed down, packing the shed (which is now capacity) and making sure we're all right for batteries, food, water and other supplies. I've also helped Vickie's son Karl and his wife Jodie move house.

All the while, Larry has continued his steady course across the Coral Sea toward the coast. He's intensified from yesterday's Cat 2 to a Category 4, and is expected to intensify further before he reaches shore sometime between 7 and 9AM our time tomorrow, somewhere between Innisfail, around 60 Km South of us, and Mission Beach. The Met Bureau are releasing updates every hour on the hour, although there's usually new news only every three hours.

What they're not mentioning on the radio is that there's a second low pressure system moving in right behind Larry. Whether or not it'll turn into a cyclone is anyone's guess.

Much as we'd love Larry to move further South, I figure we've no more right than anyone else to ask a cyclone to not hit us. As it is, Innisfail may well be wiped off the map.

One thing's for sure: I'm definitely not going in to work tomorrow. At the very least, the road to Cairns will likely be cut off by flooding.

March 18, 2006

Come in, Sir L - wait, you're not Sir Laurence!

Vickie has been monitoring the Met Bureau site for the past few days. A low that's been hovering out in the Pacific has developed into a full-blown cyclone, currently Category 2, dubbed Larry.

I just checked the site again. Larry is moving slowly westward, and the coastal region from Cape Tribulation to Mackay has been put on alert. We're close to the Northern end of the zone, but as Larry has been scribing an irregular curve, there's no saying he won't continue to swing Northward.

Vickie's been cursing, as the canegrowers up here are having what looks to be a bumper crop, and to have a cyclone come through and destroy it woudl be heartbreaking and quite possibly bankbreaking.

I've spent some time up on the roof today, putting in some gutter-guard and plugging a few holes in the corrugated iron. I've also been shifting some concrete sleepers, which with any luck should prevent our patio from flooding - it leads directly into our back door, and we don't want our books, furniture and electrical gear wrecked, thank you.

(Ironically enough, today has been very warm and very clear.)

March 17, 2006

The Curse Strikes Again

Remember back in December last year, I made that Blues Brothers crack about Dungeons & Dragons?

Yup, Game Night at Trinity Bay SHS was a no-go. The organiser called me this afternoon at work and said that two of his GMs had suddenly had to pull out (one was called away to Brisbane on business, the other was crook), and rather than play favourites and only run for some (a risky proposition as the organiser is a teacher at the school and many of those going along were students), he did the fair thing and cancelled the night.

So, no first session for half-elf Horst Buchold or Skullcrusher (that's right, isn't it, Simon?) the half-orc.

Still, I dropped over Simon and Cristel's for a chat, and one of the topics of conversation was starting up a game club of our own, advertising it in the paper, roping in any Warhammer or Magic players and running some RPGs as well. It's definitely a thought, but might require a bit of pre-funding that none of us has at the moment.

We'll see how we go!

March 15, 2006

"This'd be the perfect time for a swear-word."

So Simon and I are chatting on MSN about the upcoming Games Night at Trinity Bay this Friday and the characters we're planning for the Living Greyhawk module.

[19:59] Simon Taylor: dont know if ill be a 1/2 orc barbarian or human fighter
[19:59] Simon Taylor: have to have a read and find out
[20:02] IMAGinES: No worries! Still working on it myself.
[20:03] Simon Taylor: so what is it going to be
[20:03] IMAGinES: Think I'll go with the sorcerer.
[20:03] Simon Taylor: nice
[20:03] Simon Taylor: so we going to be at the same table
[20:04] Simon Taylor: (H)
[20:04] IMAGinES: Nah, mate, I'm gonna ditch you as soon as we get in and go play with some more interesting people. :-P
[20:04] IMAGinES: Of course we are! :-D
[20:04] IMAGinES: Well, I hope so, anyway.
[20:04] Simon Taylor: damn
[20:04] Simon Taylor: :P
[20:05] Simon Taylor: so have u played at one of these before
[20:05] IMAGinES: Sort of. I went to Reefcon and played Living Force (only had Star Wars D20 at the time).
[20:06] Simon Taylor: orc barbarian played a bit like jayne
[20:06] IMAGinES: Hahahahahahahaha!
[20:06] IMAGinES: "You don't pay me to talk pretty!"
[20:07] Simon Taylor: me not hired of atitude
[20:07] IMAGinES: Heh heh!
[20:07] Simon Taylor: for atitude even

(slight break for the robo-rollercoaster on Beyond Tomorrow)

[20:35] Simon Taylor: so what race is you sorcerer going to be
[20:35] Simon Taylor: say an elf
[20:40] IMAGinES: Okay, "an elf".
[20:40] Simon Taylor: Muahahahaha!
[20:41] IMAGinES: I mean, I might, just for the fun of it.
[20:41] IMAGinES: And give him some pseudo-Germanic name to boot.
[20:42] IMAGinES: You know, Florian or some such.
[20:42] IMAGinES: Works for an elf, I think.
[20:42] Simon Taylor: 1/2 orc and an elf
[20:42] IMAGinES: Oh, worse than a dwarf and an elf! :-)
[20:43] IMAGinES: Oh shit - Jayne and Simon!
[20:43] Simon Taylor: about the same
[20:43] IMAGinES: "You're like a trained ape - only without the training!"
[20:43] Simon Taylor: yep
[20:44] Simon Taylor: pretty boy
[20:44] IMAGinES: Okay all right, I'll go, just stop describing me.
[20:44] IMAGinES: :-D
[20:45] Simon Taylor: ^o) hmmmmm..........
[20:48] IMAGinES: Except the weird thing is, you're simon.
[20:48] IMAGinES: Which rather scuppers my sudden plan to call my character Simon.

So, yeah, we'll probably be going in with a ready line in banter!

March 14, 2006

Not Yet Required

So I went into the Courthouse yesterday, got shown an information video, went into the courtroom and came out of it about fifteen minutes later. My service wasn't needed at that particular time.

I'm still on the lists for the rest of this week and next week, though, so it's still possible I might wind up on a jury before the month is out.

UPDATE 5:50PM: As a matter of fact, the automated message said I'm not required for the rest of the week!

There's still next week, though; you never know.

March 11, 2006

A Whole Gorram Saleyard

I've been browsing the Waves in the Black forums (for fans of the Serenity RPG) a bit this morning; as I wrote earlier, I've been contemplating a Serenity campaign for Vickie, Simon and Cristel. One of my favourite sub-forums of Waves in the Black is the Shipyards, where players post ship designs they've come up with. When I was last browsing it, a few had gone as far as firing up 3D design programs and done up some natty renders of their ships.

Sine that time, though, a few people have discovered a freeware rendering program called DoGA, and the number - and quality - of computer generated images has, if you'll pardon the pun, skyrocketed.

Here're some of my personal favourites on sale:

And if you're interested in outfitting your new ship, have a look at these hover-mules!

Oh, and while we're on the subject, would you consider a budget option: this used Firefly-class mid-bulk transport?

March 10, 2006

The Call

Folks, my jury number has been drawn - looks like I'm one of fifty people off to the Courthouse on Monday.

Yes, the Courthouse - No, I won't sink a pint or two for you, it's not the Courthouse Hotel, it's the actual Courthouse! The - yes, I know the Courthouse Hotel used to be the actual courthouse, but -

Oh, bugger it. I'll fill you in as best I can later.

March 08, 2006

Indicator of an Unhealthy Fixation

Hmm.

Well, after I put that thread up over on the Forge's Actual Play forum about last Saturday's Dogs in the Vineyard session with Simon and Cristel, I received a lot of reads, but no responses. So I asked whether anyone could contribute some constructive criticism?

Ask and ye shall receive; a Forgite by the name of Belinda K. politely pointed a few things out about my postings that I hadn't seen when I wrote them.

Now, maybe this is the downer after a big high talking, I'm not entirely sure. But I think it's a logical consequence of what I talked about briefly in this post. I've been hanging out on forums and reading all these posts about good play for so long that a great write-up of a gaming session with lots of "Wow! Cool!"s has become more desired fun during the session itself (possibly because I'm often nervous as heck during gaming sessions).

In other words, I was after another Moose in the City. I've read that thread in a mixture of admiration and envy I don't know how many times. I wanted to be like those guys.

Heck, maybe it's been going on even longer than that - I mean, I tried setting up a campaign website for Black Talon not just as an online, easy-access resource for my players, but also so I could have one of those cool gaming websites. You know? My cool gaming site with cool gaming stuff on it.

So, I'm thinking I really need to back off. Now, don't get me wrong, I still definitely want to play some more soon - heck, Trinity Bay Gaming Night is in under a couple of weeks, and I'm still up for it - but I think I'll be taking a few deep breaths before and after each session and indulging the need for gratuitous posting in a private diary instead of a public forum (not to mention keeping a healthy distance from said forums). I also reckon I need more play time as a player rather than a GM. (Interesting contrast with this.)

Coincidentally enough, there's some talk among the family up here of me being taken on a camping trip sometime soon. Frankly, that's probably just what I need - get away from the computers, the forums and the same old mill I keep grinding myself through for a bit. See if I'm actually capable of connecting with people who aren't sci-fi or gaming nuts. Quit being a nerd for a while.

UPDATE 9 March 06 7:19 AM: Maybe I shouldn't have been too hasty in writing the thread off as a mistake. Vincent Baker, the author of Dogs in the Vineyard, has jumped in and wants to know more.

March 05, 2006

Canon Solo

If a label hasn't signed this kid already, something is wrong with the world.

Major thanks to SimLauren for IMing this to me.

Satriani, eat your fucking heart out.

When It Rains...

We've met our new friends and fellow gamers, Simon and Cristel, and I've had a game with them. The question now, of course is what next, gaming-wise? And when?

Actually, it's seeming like the question is, what not to play next? Vickie, Simon, Cristel and I have been discussing options over IM, and so far we seem almost spoiled for choice:

  • Simon and Cristel have both been playing AD&D 2nd. Edition for a while. Simon's not particularly keen on 3rd Edition, but he is also a keen Traveller nut.
  • Cristel, I think, likes her games rather fantastic, if her feedback on yesterday's Dogs in the Vineyard is anything to go by. As to whether she has any specific preferences, I'm not sure.
  • Vickie enjoyed the Heavy Gear campaign I ran in 03/04 and would like to play that again, provided she gets to keep Miki Hirami. As Miz Hirami was written as a Black Talon pilot, that will mean going with something other than the BTs would likely mean coming up with a new version of the Peacekeeper from the Mekong Dominion. Aside from that, Vickie's comfortable with going with the flow, as long as someone can explain any complex rules on the fly.
  • And me? Well, let's see:
    • Now that I've got an idea of how Dogs in the Vineyard is meant to run, I'd be keen on GMing that again on a semi-regular basis. Vickie stil has yet to play it also.
    • Personally, I wouldn't mind another bash at Heavy Gear either. Dunno if it'll be Black Talon, but we'll see. (I'm still keen on the whole Dueling idea.)
    • There's always Serenity, which is a kind of Traveller Light, I think.
    • I've loaned Simon and Cristel my Firefly DVDs, not as homework for a game, just a "This is cool. You will enjoy." thing. Still, you never know, it might get them keen. (I also loaned them the Batllestar Galactica pilot miniseries.)
    • I do get the feeling that Simon and Cristel might also be moving away from rules-heaviness a bit, so maybe Primetime Adventures would be their taste.
    • And then there's always PARANOIA, although Vickie's not keen on it and you really need at least four players.

On top of all that, though, the gent who organises the games at Trinity Bay State High has announced that the first Gaming Night of the year will be on March 17th (yep, St. Patrick's Day). It's going to be an RPGA Living Greyhawk module, naturally, but I've signed up. Because Bruce was having a hard time finding DMs, I stuck my hand up for that as well; as the module is set for a low APL (Average Player Level), I probably won't get chewed up and spat out - well, not too quickly anyway.

I tell you what, the last few week has been one heck of a turn around gaming-wise, compared to the past year!

Was It Good For You, Too?

Yep, I got game yesterday. Unfortunately, Vickie didn't, I'm sad to say; she rediscovered a twenty-year-dormant-allergy to eggs on Saturday morning after she cooked us a four-egg omelete each on Friday night and was itching all over. (A fucking shame as she was looking forward to the game as much as I was - but she said she'd kill me if I didn't go, so what can a husband do, eh?)

But if you'd like to see how things went - and I'll wreck the story for you, it was a learning process and we had some trouble, but in the end it (for me at least) rocked - read this.

UPDATE 3:30 PM: Well, it looks as though I wasn't the only one yesterday's session rocked for! Cristel gives her opinion!