Thursday, July 05 2012


I have one new comment!  Thanks Don!

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Monday, June 18 2012


The web gremlins just ate a 2000 word post about this article here.  I'll have something to say about it, hopefully tomorrow.  It probably won't be what you expect.

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Tuesday, July 14 2009

Busy Busy Busy

Sorry for the sparse posting, but as the title suggests I have been busy. 

Most of that has been painting.  In the past six weeks, I have painted seven Panzer IV H tanks, 2 Panthers, 1 Tiger, 2 Sturmtigers, 6 StuGs, 2 mobile AA guns, 3 AA emplacements, a battery of 15cm howitzers, 10 other German vehicles, 3 platoons of Germans with anti-tank weaponry, 3 houses, a battery of American 155mm howitzers, and an American spotter airplane.

I also found time to attend my brother's wedding, a momentous and wonderful occasion that was fun but certainly not restful.

This upcoming weekend I attend Otakon in Baltimore, MD, as I do every year.  As in past years, I will post highlights and my observations as to the continuing state of anime fandom.  Please stand by.

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Tuesday, June 02 2009

School System Failure

One of my co-workers is smart, but not particularly educated.  Her son is a freshman in high school.  When I asked recently about her day, she told an story about problems with her son's recent world history project.  They were assigned to do a diorama of a scene that they studied in class this year.  Her son had chosen to do a diorama of trench warfare, with an open box lid filled with dirt, with trenches at each end.  They had purchased cheap plastic army men to put in the trenches.  The family cat had attempted to use the diorama as a litter box, and she had spent the evening watching her son repair the project.

My internal warning lights went on as this story progressed.  I still cannot believe a high school level history class has a diorama as a final project.  More importantly, when I, history buff and military modeler, made an offhand comment about plastic army men being generally World War II and not a generally accurate choice, it developed that neither parent nor child knew which war they were modeling, and who the sides were.  (Yes, I know that fieldworks and entrenchments have been prominent in a number of wars, but I suspect that if the topic in a high school level history class is "Trench Warfare", that the subject is going to be World War I).

The more I think about it, the less this specific case bothers me.  The son is already working part time as a field hand, is by all accounts a hard worker there (as opposed to school), and already knows more about agriculture than I ever will.  But the general case, that history, already painfully scrimped when I was in school, has dropped to the level where the final project is this simple and demonstrates no knowledge of the subject at hand, is distressing.

My eventual reaction was to suggest that the son could improve his project by putting small holes in the dirt surface as shell craters, and wrapping wire around a broom handle to make model barbed wire.  Simple, but effective.  I am a gaming geek above all, after all.

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Monday, April 13 2009

Hazards of the Capital Wateland

Last Sunday, I traveled into the heart of the Capital Wasteland that is Washington D.C.  The city isn't quite Fallout 3 hazardous, in part because it hasn't suffered a nuclear attack.  Still, there are things that the casual tourist should be aware of when making their way through the District.

It all started about two weeks ago, when a friend suggested going in to visit some of the museums that we hadn't been to in a while.  Since I had been anting to do this at some point, I said "Sure!".  Big mistake.

My friend has been a DC resident for almost a decade.  I've lived here for nearly 30 years.  Neither of us bothered to connect our little trip and the DC Cherry Blossom Festival which happened to coincide with that weekend.  What does the Cherry Blossom festival mean?  Well, it's an excuse to hold a number of Japanese or Asian themed events to commemorate the gift of a bunch of trees to the city of DC.  It's an excuse for tourists to come see the events and trees.  Tourists.  Lots and lots of tourists.  Mobs of zombie-wannabe tourists, everywhere.  I joked that METRO was getting in the spirit of the festival by simulating the Tokyo subway conditions.  Somehow, we made it in, and even saw some of the Museum of American History, the Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery of Art.

While I was looking at the pretty museum exhibits, I should have been paying more attention to the other threat lurking in the city that day.  I should have been wishing I had a set of NBC gear from Fallout 3.  Why is the Cherry Blossom Festival held at this time of year?  Because that's when the cherry blossom trees bloom.  Bloom pollen.  All over the place.  All throughout my sinuses and lungs.

I am a complete and total wreck this week.  My head throbs, my sinuses congest, and my lungs cough vile substances.  Be warned, tourists, that though DC may still be a thriving city, even the supposedly prepared fall victim to its many threats...

Posted by: Civilis at 05: 27 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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Thursday, August 14 2008

Olympic Amusements

I don't normally follow sports, not even the Olympics.  On the other hand, I do follow politics, and the 2008 Summer Olympics have become politics.  So what else can I do but make a cheap anime joke out of the whole thing?

Athletes Old Enough to Compete at the Olympics
(Photo by Juliet Macur /The New York Times)

Athlete Not Old Enough to Compete at the Olympics

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Saturday, December 15 2007

Tis the Season!

I have been working off and on on a longer post on fans, fandom, the law, and outside observers, based on a lot of the news on the domestic entertainment industry and the recent developments in regard to anime and fansubs, and catalyzed by a post on John Scalzi's blog on the Organization for Transformative Works.  The problem is that it's the holiday season, and I have enough holiday related tasks on my list that it's going nowhere very slowly.

I just finished putting the lights on the Christmas tree.  It's a relatively unspectacular tree, as these things go, but its my tree, and that's whats important.  There's absolutely nothing geeky about it, and I'm worried that there should be.  I'm ashamed that my thought process went something like this:

1.  "The tree isn't geeky enough.  How could we make it geeky?"
2.  "You know what would be cool?  A Belldandy angel at the top of the tree."
3.  "I bet if I searched the internet, someone has already done that."
4.  "At least that'd look suitably angelic;  it could be worse..."
5.  "...It could be an Evangelion angel on top of the tree."
6.  "I'd bet if I searched the internet, someone has already done that."
7.  "Knowing Gainax, I'm surprised there isn't already an official one on the market."
8.  "I wonder what the Asuka version looks like?"
9.  "At least there's no Christmas themed military history or miniatures wargaming..."
(From Worth1000)

Posted by: Civilis at 12: 18 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Thursday, August 16 2007

Turtles 2: The Return

As I am stuck in a rut, more turtle pictures!

Lately, one group of turtles has taken to floating on the surface of the water, diving to the bottom of the pond when they sense a human.   They'll also dive to the bottom when a goose or duck approaches, but only at just about the moment of collision.  It almost seems like the geese are hunting the turtles, so it plays out as a mini Battle of the Atlantic.  I've watched as a turtle wolfpack lies sunning itself in the pond, to be startled and forced to dive deep to avoid the furious avian ASW onslaught.  Normally the battle lasts for a few minutes before the birds steam off for less elusive prey, and the turtles resume their restful watch on the surface.

The pond in question is low due to lack of rain here in Northern Virginia, so their usual favorite resting places, the drainage grates, are out of reach, but there is one floating board that makes a handy dry resting place.

This turtle has a substantial gouge in its shell.

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Sunday, June 17 2007


My neighborhood is old enough that they included a lot of surplus green space, including a widespread network of walking paths and several well-kept drainage ponds.

Several of the ponds are home to a large number of shy turtles.  They seem to be particularly fond of the overflow grates in the drainage ponds,
but will bask on any flat surface they can find.

Good pictures are hard to come by, as they are shy around people, and will go underwater at any sudden movement.  I happened to catch this rather large and impressive one just as he noticed me and made a break for the safety of deeper water.

I'm as bad a photographer as I am a writer, but I'm learning.

Posted by: Civilis at 04: 08 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Thursday, May 17 2007

I'm Still Here

I'm still around, but basically since I only have two readers, myself and McGurk (go visit his blog!), I haven't been hit by the creative bug recently.  Been trying to write some sidebar filler pages, but those are still IN PROGRESS.

I tend to think all the time, but without a catalyst for my thoughts to build around, the resulting output is rambling and incoherent.  Okay, it's more rambling and incoherent than usual.  I like to write, and I need to learn to put my thoughts on paper.

Posted by: Civilis at 07: 35 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Tuesday, May 01 2007

Please Stand By...

I'm sorry, but posting will be light this week.  I'm not feeling too well to start with, and the Chinese I had on Friday put me out of comission for a few days, so I'm catching up on work.

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Sunday, April 15 2007

Weekend Horror: A Trip to the Gaming Vaults

Well, it's Sunday, and I'm completely burned out.  However, I somehow managed to complete my  taxes, so I have an excuse.  Rather than try to find something to create a profound comment on, I've decided to go in to the horrors of my hard drive for something to scare or at least amuse you.  I have a collection of gaming files I have created, from character designs to abortive attempts at fan fiction.  If you are curious what my mind does when it isn't trying to make a profound philosophical point out of the geekiest bits of modern American culture, read on...

Posted by: Civilis at 07: 53 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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