Ouch

Feb. 24th, 2012 10:06 am
electricpaladin: (Assault Sergeant)

I have achieved my second Tiny Plastic Spacemen related injury! Yay?

I'm in the process of stripping down some used models I got for free, and last night I managed to give my left hand a major cramp. First world problems, I know: "man, it's so terrible. I was doing some art on some plastic toys that I got for free and I gave myself a cramp." But, actually, it really hurts! I'm sure it will be fine by the end of the day. To be honest, I'm taking it as a badge of honor. You can tell you're serious about your fun when sometimes it hurts.

Of course, this still isn't as gory as the time I buried my exacto knife in my left index finger. It looks like it will heal clean, but you can still - just barely - see the seam where the cut was.

The models were a serious windfall though. That was probably more than 200$ worth of used Space Marines - practically a small army! - and it was all free, and now it's all mine. Of course, they had a truly horrible color scheme: base-coated black and smeared all over with bronze paint. Really gaudy and really poorly done. The marines are well put-together, but the tanks seem to have been assembled with rubber cement and are falling apart as I strip them. Of course, that's a problem that's not a problem; the more to pieces they fall, the easier it will be to strip the paint off, and when all is said and done I can easily reassemble them.

Oddly enough it's the Space Marines that are the biggest treasure, even though it was the tanks that first delighted me. There are some seriously old, seriously cool, and seriously out of print metal marines in there, including this awesome guy with huge skulls on his shoulder pads. I may not be the world's best painter, but I am going to be able to do some seriously cool stuff with these guys, once I've got them stripped and base-coated.

Anyway, the whole thing includes about twenty Space Marines, some of them Assault Marines, some of them Tactical Marines, and some of them with various special weapons, two tank chassis, and four (four? These guys are always fielded in groups of five or more) Terminators.

I'm going to have a lot of fun with this.

Smell That?

Feb. 7th, 2012 11:12 am
electricpaladin: (Default)
That's the smell of victory.

I know, I know. It's a preliminary victory, at best. I know it only applies to California, rather than the entire nation. However, it's damned good to be living in a civilized country again.
electricpaladin: (Assault Sergeant)
When Abby started celebrating my birthday, she taught me a beautiful custom from her family. Birthdays are officially considered to be extended affairs, stretching from the first celebration to the last. Thus, my 29th birthday started some time mid January, with Abby and I going out for Fondue, and ended last night, when Abby and I went out to dinner with her family. It's a nice custom, especially for Abby and me. My birthday comes at the end of January, which makes it a great way to extend the holiday season, while Abby's comes right after school ends for the summer, which makes it a nice way to celebrate surviving another year.

I won't lie - I enjoy getting presents. It seems that enjoying receiving presents goes out of fashion after a certain age, but I've never really lost it. Perhaps its redeeming that I also enjoy giving presents - perhaps it doesn't need redeeming. This year I did pretty well: I got a tiny plastic (well, resin) spaceman from one friend and a tiny plastic space-tank from myself, a wonderful and hilarious necklace from Abby (one side: the Prime symbol from Mage: the Ascension, the other side: "Motherfucking Sorcerer"), a list of the Internet's best free adventure games from another friend, a personalized Cards Against Humanity-style game from Abby's sister, a blue blazer from Abby's parents, and a nice check from my grandma. I also received the priceless gift of the time and company of many of my friends, old and new, over the course of the weeks of my birthday celebration.

So far, 29 is turning out to be a good year. I've got my work in order, more or less. For the first time in a long time, between tiny plastic spacemen, D&D Encounters, and Dresden Files with Max, I'm getting my play in order, too. I've got a professional organizer and a personal trainer to help me get my home and body in order, and both feel more like opportunities than onerous obligations.

What do I hope for in my 29th year? I'd like to get back to the guitar, make more time to write, and continue to grow and develop (or, in the case of my personal trainer, shrink and develop). I hope to continue to improve my work and my play. 

I'll keep you posted.
electricpaladin: (Default)
I have icons. Two of them. This is one of them - an old magic card called "Obstinate Familiar." I've got another that's a space marine. I rather like that Dreamwidth will let me have 15 for free. This is going to be a lot of fun.
electricpaladin: (Default)
There are days that remind me of why I'm doing this.

Of course, there are days that don't. There are days that make me wonder why - why, in the name of all that is lizards - I'm subjecting myself to this, and for so little money! And there are days where the spark just doesn't catch and it's just a job (like today, for example).

Anyway, I want to write about one of the formermost days that happened a few weeks ago, but for that, I'm going to have to give you a little background.

As many of you know, I was raised by a crazy woman and her sidekick. Or, as my wife likes to put it, I was raised by Captain Kirk and Frodo Baggins (now there is a match made in heaven) and my parents were just two people I had to put up with in the meantime. The truth is kind of elusive. I'm certainly a fairly crazy person thanks to my parents' behavior, but I'm a lot more selfless and creative, less neurotic and doubting, than you'd think I'd be with parents as nutty as mine. I'm proud to say that part of it probably is because of my adoptive dads James and Frodo. It's probably partly because, as an older child, I identified more with the somewhat less aggressively crazy of my parents, my father, also an older child. The fact that I spend nearly a month in an incubator might have also prevented me from bonding properly with my mother, which might have contributed to our lousy relationship today, even as it kept her from pouring as much of her crazy into me. Part of it is because for all their dysfunction, my parents have always loved me as deeply as they were able, something which they communicated despite their issues. And part of it is because of the other adults in my life, my teachers, mentors, and relatives.

Chief among them, in many ways, was my uncle Michael, my mother's brother. Michael was a chemist who worked on identifying hazardous chemicals in products and preventing them from becoming a danger to health and the environment. As a young person with a growing interest in science, Michael was possibly the coolest thing to ever happen to me, and every time he visited us - and that one time we visited him - we would stay up long into the night and talk about science.

The thing I remember most clearly about Michael was his incredible patience. Here was a guy doing very high level science at one of America's leading universities, and here is a ten year old who likes the Time Life: Human Body series and Eyewitness Science books.

And yet, I remember one of the proudest moments of my young life was the day that I proposed inventing a chemical that would stop HIV from copying inside a host cell and my uncle told me that I had just predicted the principle behind AZT, one of the first drugs to slow the progress of HIV to AIDS.

A few weeks ago, I was proud to find my class discussion of the mechanics of HIV turning in the same direction, with my students asking me, with significant creativity and clarity of thought, about how HIV might defeated. It was a lot of fun, and it made me feel close to my uncle, and proud that I've created a classroom that is, at least sometimes, a place where my students feel safe to explore their ideas.
electricpaladin: (Default)
Another interesting thing about Dreamwidth: as they are less well-known, they are not blocked by my school's firewalls. Booyah.

Anyway, here is my first post via Dreamwidth, and my first personal blogging post in some time. I feel under a lot of pressure to make this post "good" and "seminal," to define with grace and brilliance what this blog is going to be about.

That's why instead I'm going to post this RPGnet motivational poster I made about five years ago.

The Others

Sometimes, you just need to move on.

I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with a blog. Post about writing, gaming, and random geeky things on the internet? I do that already on the Burning Zeppelin Experience. Post about miniatures, wargaming, modding, and painting? I think I'm the only person in my immediate internet circle to be into that sort of thing. Post about how freaking slow and unreliable Audible downloads are? Tempting, but probably not a great idea.

So, I guess that leaves posting about my life. Hopefully I can elevate the format above "how was your quesadilla?" blogging, but I'm going to assume that if you're reading this, you're at least tangentially interested in what's going on with me, in a broader format than Facebook allows.

Which reminds me - if I want my friends to read this and be updated about my life, I should link to Facebook from it.

Anyway, the fact is that I miss the heyday of Livejournal. I miss reading my Friends page and seeing what my friends are up to, creatively presented in their own words, impregnated with their own personalities, intermixed with a liberal sprinkling of people I don't know personally but think are neat. Maybe there's nothing I could do to bring those days back, but I can post this, I can post about Dreamwidth on Facebook, and I can hope.

So, here goes nothing. This blog will be about me, for those who care to read it.

Also, is it just me or does Michele Bachman look less like she's dropping out of the race and more like she's promising to bite all those who oppose her?




There is definitely something bitey about that woman. I know that her dropping out of the race doesn't mean that she will stop spouting horrible hate-filled rhetoric, but at least it means that I won't have to hear about it - or look at her horrible bitey weasily face - nearly as frequently.

But enough about politics. What's been up with me?

The last - God, how long has it been? - the last period has had some ups and downs. Ups include my teaching career, which continues to be lots of fun. Abby is well, as well, and I'm still quite happy to be married to her. I've recently gotten into wargaming - I'm sure you've all noticed, after all the pictures I've posted - and while it's a hobby that's possibly even sillier than the rest of the ones I've already got, It's also a lot of fun. I really enjoy the artistry that goes into assembling, modifying, and painting my Tiny Plastic Spacemen, Tiny Plastic Lizardmen, Tiny Plastic Giant Robots, and Tiny Plastic Giant Monsters (TPSMs, TPLMs, TPGRs, and TPGMs, for short). Apparently, I'm even quite good at it, and getting better.

However much fun it is, though, minis wargaming doesn't replace roleplaying. Real roleplaying, the kind I did in college, the kind where you tell deeply meaningful stories. I'm done feeling ashamed - I've been done for a while now - this is one of the major ways I express myself. It's also really hard to do when you're a grownup. I've posted about it before, and I'll probably post about it again. It's kind of up right now in my life, and it's been a major source of frustration.

There are some lights at the end of various tunnels. I've got a Dresden Files game going on - while it isn't quite a game of truth and beauty yet, it's certainly fun and I think it has the potential to become such. I've started developing more local friends (Friends! Dear friends!), which is good, because while I've got some awesome friendships already, I'm also pretty isolated and lonely.

In other news... well, I think that about covers it. If you read my blog you already know about my Summer from Hell, my mother basically disowning me, and my brother's continued douchebaggery. You probably also know that in addition to being wonderful and fun, teaching is probably the hardest thing I've ever done, and it continues to leave me exhausted.

So that's where I am: work is fun and work his hard, my creative life is full of new things I enjoy and all but empty of old things I love, I have more friends, and that front is continuing to improve, and my marriage is great, but unsurprisingly strained by all the things that are difficult in the rest of my life.

Watch this space for more blogging. Let's see if we can't keep in touch.
electricpaladin: (The One Electronic)
Today in my first period, during your typical onion skin microscope lab, a girl turns to me and says "this is great! I feel all smart and sciencey!"

Maybe I'm not the worst science teacher in Oakland. In fact, I feel like I could burst.

I did it!

Jul. 19th, 2009 10:26 pm
electricpaladin: (Candle)
I did it! I made the printer work. I can print now!

For lo, I am like unto a printing GOD. All I see shall now be rendered onto paper, for such is my will.

I'm going to get so much more sleep now...

Good News

Jun. 28th, 2009 08:26 pm
electricpaladin: (Default)
Thanks to the generocity of Abby's parents, who wanted to celebrate my new career, I am the proud owner of an Acer Aspire One, one of those new tiny little PCs to hit the market. It's adorable!

Anyway, the specifications are:

533MHz of RAM, 2GB of System Memory
166 GB of storage

And a lot of other nifty stuff, but it's not what's important for my question. The question is this: my computer comes all set to run Windows XP Home and Windows Vista, but I've heard terrible, terrible things about those operating systems. I'd like to gear this little guy up with something more cool, more stable, and more customizable. My friends all seem to like Linux.

So, friends: can I do this? How do I do this? Links and instructions would be most awesome.

Thanks!
electricpaladin: (Hobbes)
So, I don't have Tuberculosis. Or, rather, my body is home to horrible little bugs that can cause Tuberculosis, but haven't.

Because I'm just that badass.

Since a latent case of Tuberculosis can blossom into full fledged Consumption at any time (especially if I should at any point be immunosupressed, which can happen when you get a bad flu) it is prudent that I spend the next six months taking a medication that will hopefully drive the little fuckers so deep into hiding that they may never come out.

Unfortunately, this medicine has the side effect of maybe making my liver fall off.

So, no booze for me for the next six months, and also regular blood tests to check up on my liver and other body functions, and if my skin or eyes suddenly change color I am to report to the hospital immediately.

But I'm ok. I'm good. I've still got the teaching fellowship.

You may all breathe again. I know I am.
electricpaladin: (Default)
Today has been an awesome day. The books I ordered from Amazon arrived, and Abby and I went out to Chinese Crack for lunch, oh, and I found out I passed the last test I needed for the Oakland Teaching Fellowship.

That's right. They can't stop me now. I'm in!

I'll start the Training Institute on Monday and teaching in the fall, but you are officially reading the blog of an Oakland Teaching Fellow.

Rock.

Party!

Apr. 24th, 2009 03:39 pm
electricpaladin: (Default)
I'm going to be in New York between the 18th and the 25th of May and I'm throwing a party at noon on the 24th, in Central Park if the weather is nice, at the pizza place in the Village if it's not. If you are within the view of my post, you're invited. Part of the explicit intent is to hang out with friends on the East Coast who I haven't seen in a very long time and hopefully reconnect in a lasting way. Respond with your email address if you're interested and I'll add you to the evite.
electricpaladin: (Default)
Off we go to Costa Rica. I'll be off the grid for about ten days. Try not to destroy the world while I'm gone, k?
electricpaladin: (Default)
So, my parents are leaving San Francisco and headed back to New York. Because of the memorial service for Abby's grandfather, I probably won't be able to see them again, which is actually kind of sad. We've had our differences, but I think things are looking up. Not because they've changed, but because I've grown stronger and wiser, better able to stand up to them and better able to listen to what they say and hear what they want.

Before they left, though, my mother gave me a rare gift.

She mentioned that I sound a lot like her brother Michael, that there is something in the arguments I make, the way I speak, and where I put my pauses that reminds her of him.

My uncle Michael Kohn was probably my favorite uncle. He was an environmental chemist at Duke University, a brilliant and infinitely patient man. I still remember spending hours with him when I was younger. He would patiently sit with me while I talked about all sorts of science topics in an extremely inexpert way. He'd explain the mechanisms of cancer or the AIDS virus, and I'd try to invent cures. I think I once accidentally reinvented AZT. The best part is, I think he was proud of me for it. I'd talk endlessly about my ideas for science fiction stories, and he'd patiently help me sort out the science of them. Michael was a mentor for me in a lot of ways, and I plan on naming one of my children after him.

I didn't actually see Michael that often. He lived in South Carolina and we lived in New York. He visited us a handful of times, and we visited him about as often. It's funny that even though we didn't spend that much time together, I'd still resemble him in the way I speak and think.

While I was in college, my uncle Michael died of cancer. I didn't go to see him at the end, and I didn't go to his memorial service because I was young and stupid. I've regretted it ever since. However, when my mother said that to me, it helped drive home what I've been saying to Abby about her grandfather - the people we have loved who have passed away remain a part of us forever.

Good News

Nov. 29th, 2008 09:06 am
electricpaladin: (Default)
Despite all the horrible things happening lately, I have experienced one small ray of sunshine.

Yesterday, my White Wolf check came in the mail. That's right, I've been paid to write. Paid. To write. This is like being paid to breathe. Or eat. Or have sex. I can't see the bad.

Does anyone know where I can get the check blown up and framed? A copy shop? Is that legal?
electricpaladin: (The One Electronic)
Now that I'm slightly more awake, I can post my thoughts and impressions of yesterday.

I'm glad Barack Obama is our new president. He is a man of honor, integrity, and intelligence. His policies make sense. More personally, the facts of his ethnicity and economic background fill me with American pride for the first time in a long time. I got teary watching President Elect Obama's acceptance speech in the enormous election party at the Weston St. Francis in San Francisco.

I am also deeply saddened by what looks increasingly like California's decision to ban gay marriage. This is the first time that Americans have passed a law actively restricting someone's rights. We have never backslid in this way, we have only held stubbornly to the foolish ideas of yesterday or progressed more slowly than we should.

I'm frustrated with how much the latter stains the former, but I'm sure President Elect Obama will continue to impress me as time passes. And, we can't forget that he mentioned Americans, "gay and straight" in his acceptance speech. Nothing like that has ever happened before.

As I wrote last night, I spent yesterday harassing speaking to voters outside the polls in Fremont, CA. My legs and brain have mostly recovered.

My biggest impression of the "Yes" voters was that they were frighteningly childish. Every now and then I dealt with one who was polite, if usually cool. Many of the rest were... how shall I put it? Excessively brisk? Intense bordering on violent? No one ever threatened to hit me (except for an octogenarian, who actually shook her cane at me and told me what a bad person I was), but some of them walked past me as though every footstep was a punch in the face. What bothers me, however, is the substantial minority who did something that reminded me of a child or adolescent.

Some of them shouted some variant of "you shouldn't be here!" and the worst of them repeated it over and over again, like a mantra, drowning out my loud and obnoxious (/sarcasm) cries of "thank you for voting anyway and have a nice day." As though saying it over and over again made it true. Many of them went on to harass the poor poll inspector (who I had already won over with kind words, bagels, and cream cheese).

The scene that repeated itself was actually kind of funny. I'd already agreed to be much further away from the polls than I had to be, which endlessly mollified the kindly but fearsomely ignorant poll inspector. Every time a suitably angry person passed through, in half an hour out would come the poll inspector. She'd ask me to go further away, and I'd explain - very calmly - that I was already much further away than I had to be and I wasn't going to move. She'd ask me again, practically begging. I'd make acquiescent noises without agreeing to anything. She'd leave.

I'd go back to doing exactly what I had been doing.

Some people threatened to call the cops. I think they were called, because while I was on break a police van drove by, sat a little ways off, watching us, and then left. Apparently cool heads prevailed at the police station and they realized that we were perfectly polite and within our rights and the complainants were insane.

It was their childishness that bothered me. They weren't polite. They didn't even ignore me. They certainly didn't organize a counter-protest, which would have been fully within their rights. They made threats they wouldn't carry through on. They shouted about laws they didn't understand, seizing on the details the same way a petulant adolescent argues with his parents.

Is that the face of the opposition? Overgrown children who can't give up on their foolish hate and fear?

I want to shake them. I want to say "for God's sake, we only get eighty-odd years on earth, and you're ruining this person's fun. Look at him, he just wants to be with someone he loves. You're ruining his fun. What's wrong with you?"

I wish it were that simple.

I also wish I wasn't so ambivalent about yesterday's election. I want to be only happy about President Elect Obama's victory, not also sad about the victory of Proposition 8. I want to look at the future and see a place I want to live, not a place I'm unsure of.

I want to look at America and see someplace I'm proud of.
electricpaladin: (Default)
Volunteered for No on 8 today.

Standing.

I have really flat feet.

Never been so tired in my life.

Sleeping now.
electricpaladin: (Default)
Tomorrow I will be working from 6:15 AM to 8:30 PM in Fremont, CA, capturing a few last votes against Proposition 8, the proposition that aims to eliminate gay marriage in California. I'll be a team leader, helping coordinate the efforts of three other volunteers, keep them out of bad conversations with the opposition, and keep their energy level as high as I can.

Wish me luck.

In particular, my cell phone is 650 388 0423. Send me calls and text messages (especially text messages, since I probably won't be taking most calls). Have your friends send me calls and text messages to pass along to my minions. I'm sure we could use it.

Now I'm off to bake cookies for my people and to use to bribe make friends with the poll inspector...
electricpaladin: (Default)
Here is the good news I alluded to on Monday:

You know what's better than getting your first freelance contract?

Getting your second freelance contract.

As of today, I am officially contracted to produce a whole mess of words for Greymalkin Press's Desolation. I just faxed in my Non-Disclosure Agreement (ah, NDAs... you guys are going to hear about that so much more often in the future!), so I can't tell you much about it, except that it's going to be full of awesome nifty.

I think my next Create-a-Character Post (it's been on hold on account of a crappy scanner) had better be about Desolation. Let me see if I can get my scanner going.

So. New job, new contract, new story idea... life is pretty good.

Music

Sep. 24th, 2008 11:34 am
electricpaladin: (Hobbes)
The combination of the whole McCain-Palin ticket's use of Barracuda, the fact that my work computer has it in its iTunes library, and that it's a pretty catchy song has left me with Barracuda stuck in my head.

All day.

Also, Heart's Magic Man.

I feel like a bad Democrat.

. . .

Also, I've started a new novel. If I finish this one, it will be my second, and I'll be a double-unpublished novelist. If I don't finish it, it will be my umpteenth billion unfinished novel, and I'll just slice it into bits, throw it back into the pit, and see what comes out in a few years.

Because that's just how I roll.

I'll reflect on it at length later, but I've figured out one interesting thing:

In my first novel (A Knight of the Land) I wrote my strong side and my happy side as friends, with my dark side as the love interest. By the end of the novel, my happy side is dead (hanging around as a tree-ghost sort of dude, but dead) and my strong side gets the girl, whose darkness is never really addressed. I didn't intend it that way, but there you have it.

In my new one (tentatively titled Rat, but that's not what I'm going to call it in the long run), my darkness - my fear, resentment, and anxiety - is the title character and my strength/happiness are collapsed into one character, who is the love interest (eventually). And the girl gets the boy in the end. I didn't realize this when I started, but it's kind of screamingly true.

I kind of wonder what this means.

. . .

Two more updates:

1. I'm feeling a lot better about my anxiety. Blogging about it was good, talking with my team was good. I'm beginning to feel like I'm on some sort of two-week schedule. I get depressed on Monday, feel better on Tuesday/Wednesday, and stay that way until the following Monday. I wonder what that means, if anything.

The important thing, though, is that I'm feeling better.

2. I have awesome good news, but I can't tell anyone right away. Probably in two days or so, at the latest.

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