Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category
I was cooking dinner Friday night and it just looked so damn good that I felt like taking pictures of it.
The recipe is “Poached Carp with Chiles and Onions” from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. I very much recommend picking up a copy at your local library, discovering that you love it, and then buying it for yourself.
As I post this our home has three different fishtanks in it comprising nearly a hundred gallons of water volume – a 75 gallon tank, a 14 gallon tank, and an 8 gallon tank – and we’ve plans to add more. You’d probably imagine that doing regular water changes would be a royal pain but for the most part it’s not that bad. The 75g and 8g are freshwater tanks which means that water changes involve slightly treated tap water. The 14g, however, is a saltwater tank. Doing a water change on that tank involves five gallons of RODI-filtered water mixed with an artificial salt blend which is supposed to replicate the minerals found in the ocean. RODI stands for “Reverse Osmosis De-Ionized” which is a filtration process which takes for-friggin’-ever but totally purifies the water. I recently purchased an RODI filter unit so I can make new water at home. Unfortunately the filter only outputs about 60 gallons a day. A water change bucket takes two hours to fill. After that the bucket has to be heated to match the tank temperature, the salt has to be added and dissolved, and preferably the whole mess gets transfered to another bucket so that I’m not mixing in the same bucket into which I’m sticking my non-filtered hands during the actual change. This part of aquarium ownership is indeed a royal pain.
Not anymore! Courtney and I have made a mixing barrel which we’ll use to store thirty gallons of saltwater at a time. Now when I need to do a water change I’ll just pump five gallons into a handy clean bucket. Presto! What was once a half-day of waiting for water disappears and a water change becomes just a few minutes of doing the actual work.
The black circles are Uniseals. These things are awesome. They provide a watertight seal for non-flat surfaces like the curved edge of a barrel.
My favorite D&D character in college was a half-orc barbarian named Horknuth, who went by the stage name “Hork the Orc.” He was a gladiator-slave with an extremely low Intelligence and a penchant for fine shirts. Unfortunately I left the mini in Iowa when I moved to Kansas all those years ago and for one reason or another Hork hasn’t seen play since.
Recently my D&D group has started a second campaign in which the role of DM is shared between all the players. The PCs are employees at a detective agency which performs tasks structured to be resolvable over the course of a single evening. This way we can keep a semi-cohesive story but allow individual players to come in and out without complex-ish explanations (“Carl can’t play? Oh, um, I guess Dinkles the elf twisted his ankle. He’ll catch up.”).
This campaign seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin playing Hork again on a regular basis. I was having some trouble finding a mini figure so I decided to do some surgery.
Before: A stock figure from a D&D 4th Edition pack, “Male Goliath Barbarian.”
This guy’s got a ridiculously huge sword, odd colorations, hide pants, shirtlessness. That’s not quite right but the build of the character is close enough. An XActo knife and a bit of paint later and…
I realized belatedly that the haircut and short bold-colored pants make him look a bit like The Hulk. I don’t think it’s too bad for a first effort at modding and painting a figure myself
It’s been some months since I started a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with people in R&D at Perceptive. Everyone in the group has been getting into it and we’re having a great time.
My last post on this subject was about a homemade battle grid. I talked about the potentially high price tag of playing D&D with all the Wizards of the Coast-made accessories and such, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any cheaper since I wrote that. Instead of a potentially vast collection of little plastic miniatures to represent foes in the game I’ve been using a large number of 1″ glass beads that I got at a Michael’s craft store for seven dollars. This works out well for straightforward enemies but it doesn’t really give the players a sense of “oh shit!” when going up against a large or otherwise interesting creature. When the group faced a young dragon, I made one out of origami. It went over very well but there were two general problems with the idea: first, it pushed my origami skills to the limit and second, there aren’t easy-to-follow origami instructions for making most other creatures (like aboleths for example).
Then Courtney got a block of Sculpey and went to town.
Shiyali (Courtney’s dwarven wizard character) and all her effects – a Flaming Sphere, a Cloud of Daggers, a Pinioning Vortex, and two Rolling Thunder tiles. The grid that the figures are standing on is 1″ by 1″ squares.
Courtney hasn’t only been making figures for her character. She’s also been making some minis for some of the more interesting combat encounters that we face. We haven’t actually had the encounter that will feature the following monsters, but they’re so damn cool I can’t not blog about them
…because I have a fiancee!
More pictures on Flickr.
We got new living room furniture!
Haha, misleading post title!
2009 is proving to be a great year for organization, and Courtney’s at the forefront of this trend. Her car’s trunk has been getting on her nerves for some time now. Its collection of jumper cables, dog blankets, empty shoe boxes, and god-knows-what-else has been rattling around in her mind as much as it has been in the trunk. But no more, thanks to one (extremely cold) Sunday’s worth of work.
The most difficult part of assembly was creating pillars that would attach to the car’s frame and allow the frame to hang down about a foot. No zip-ties here: small bungee cords were looped through the pillars to hold them to the shelf, which were then hooked to the frame…
…which took forever and involved a lot of very cold hands and awkward angles, but it worked! We eventually replaced the bungee cords on the back with (you guessed it) zip ties. After three times losing the very taut cord down in the PVC and having to re-run it, zip ties looked reeeeally good.
There are more photos on the Flickr set “Junk In The Trunk”. This project had way too many fun names
Just to update my previous post, the new topoff is done and operating nicely. All the pictures are up on the project page.
November has just flown by without a whole lot of crazy stuff going on. You all know how it is: DST changes and hours become other hours, three entire Thursdays go by until Thanksgiving, then before you know it December.
My job continues to be great. When I started here I asked if I could have a fishtank, and the answer was “well how big of a tank?” then “sure.” Earlier this month I up and put a 2.5 gallon tank (designed by Courtney, more on that later) on my desk, and in that tank I put a betta. Between the tank and my vine, I’ve got a nice zen thing going on.
My home-animals are also good. I don’t have any recent pictures of my saltwater fishtank, though I did take a couple of the cats in their new beds. They got beds because they’re now banished from sleeping in my bed due to them being hairy and shedding like crazy, which means I have to shut them out of my bedroom at night. I didn’t want them to be uncomfortable
Also, I made some Christmas earlier this week. My large fake tree from last year ended up looking odd and being a general pain in the ass, so I got a small fake tree instead.
I’ve been idly reading forums geared towards automotive enthusiasts who own Mazdas. It seems that a semi-popular thing to do with Mazda3s is to re-badge them as a Mazda Axela. I’m not that big of a fanboy, but Courtney had an interesting proposition: why not re-badge it as a 323?
I looked on eBay, but no one was selling extra badges from the Mazda3 and the Mazda2 (I wanted to make the fonts look decent). All seemed lost, until Courtney noticed the car’s side panels: a shiny “2.3″ badge on each side. Well dang, between the immediate availability of numbers and the fact that yesterday peaked around 75 degrees, how could I not?
It’s been three months since I bought my new car; I’m honestly surprised I haven’t done something like this already
A wash and a wax later, and everything looks spectacular. Thanks to Courtney for the great photos, and the idea, and locating the 2.3 badges, and cleaning off the badges, and making handy loops of fishing line for cutting them off in the first place…we went through a lot of fishing line.