Archive for May, 2008

ReaperCon – an overview

May 27th, 2008 No comments

Why an overview?  I'll tell you.  Too much to separate out into day-by-day.

I took four classes.  Three were painting, one was sculpting.  From the painting classes I learned

  • While I could get the really smooth color transitions I like seeing I don't want to put that much effort into painting them.
  • I'm doing pretty much everything right for painting armies.  Adding some colored washes to the armor makes a huge difference for very little effort.
  • Demi-metallics are really the way to go (using both pigment paint and metallic paint) in order to get the best of both worlds.
  • Sculpting can be fun, if you have someone who can hold your hand.

I did speed painting (lost), Sophie Says (like Simon Says but with paint) and was picking paint off for days, did some color theory tests using the reformulated Reaper Pro Paints, cashed in a lot of pewter in exchange for a lot of pewter, helped a friend get what he wanted from the auction on Sunday, chatted with lots and lots and lots of people, now have the only Urban Legend Starmaine (unicorn) in existence, and all kinds of other stuff.

The after convention convention was a hoot.  I learned that approaching 21 again from the other direction doesn't help you bounce back like you used to.  And that sleep is an overrated commodity when there is so much fun to be had.

I can't wait for the next ReaperCon but have an entire year before it can happen.  I'll have to use that time to apply the classes I took and paint up some of that pewter I brought home.

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ReaperCon – Preconvetion

May 15th, 2008 1 comment

OK – today was the day before the convention actually starts.  I flew into Dallas this morning.  I remember part of the beverage service and the landing.  I guess I needed sleep.  I purposely took the seat next to the engine so that:

A) The white noise from the engine would be soothing.
B) The noise from the engine would prevent people from talking.

Both worked.  At one point the noise got annoying so I put in my earbuds and listened to music.  I made it half-way through the second song before I was asleep again.  That helped me be slightly more alert.

The directions from Yahoo had me using the toll road when there was a perfectly good non-toll road alternative.   Luckily I knew this from previous trips.  So I made it to the hotel with very little fuss.

My buddy got here Tuesday so we met up at the hot tub for some catch-up and some relaxation.  Make a note of this – pools in Texas generally aren't heated.  This can be quite a surprise after sitting in a hot tub for a while.  We found it easier to use the ladder into the deep end instead of the stairs at the shallow end.  The stairs gave us too much of a chance to chicken out.

It started to rain a bit while we were in the pool but no storm so we just waited it out.  It worked.  A couple of rounds of hot tub – pool really relaxed the muscles kinked up from days of prep, hauling around heavy luggage and sleeping in an airplane.

Reaper is nice enough to do a "meet and greet" with food for all the early arrivals.  They also gave us our convention packets so we don't have to clog up the official registration tomorrow.  There were some really fun things in the packets this year.  Two of the reformulated Pro Paints, some CAV cards, some other surprises.  The new Casketworks is not in color which seems like a throwback to the early days but it makes sense.  Only a few pages were in color.  Most of the catalog was black and white anyway.  Doesn't help the color swatches they used to have tho.

Most everyone had left by around 10:00 or so.  Getting back to the hotel I changed into my comfy clothes, poured a margarita (darn these small hotel cups) and set about fixing the pieces that broke off the Hirst Arts piece I brought as a gift.  ReaperClark kindly provided me a tube of two part epoxy so I didn't have to hunt around for a store this late at night.  Unfortunately as I fixed it all back up I noticed a missing brick at the join of one of the sections.  A completely missing brick.  Argh.  I'll have to give it to the person this way and send them the missing brick and that annoys me.  But it should also teach me to leave things until last minute.

I stopped at the package store to get my contribution to ShinerCon later this weekend.  For those not informed a 'package store' is a liquor store and ShinerCon is one night when we all meet in someone's hotel room and indulge in Shiner beer.  Shiner is a local brand of beer.  There's a secret handshake and some of us attach Shiner bottle caps to our badges the next day.  It's all part of ReaperCon.

The convention officially opens at noon on Thursday.  That lets me sleep in a little and hopefully hit that hot tub again.  I won't have time after that because I'm going to be at Reaper from 9:00am until around 11:00pm if last year is any indication.  And Sunday I'll be going directly from Reaper to visit my dad.  And don't think I won't be hitting the hot tub once I get to that hotel.  But I get ahead of myself.

Tomorrow I have one class on painting army highlights.  The rest of the day is mine.  There's games to play, people to chat with, painting to do, shopping to do, and otherwise just hang out.

I'll report back on Official Day One tomorrow.  I would add pictures but I can't get them from the camera to the computer I'm using here.  I could probably have used one of the adapters from home but the one that would have been easiest is USB 2.0 and this is an older computer that doesn't support it.  Ditto on the media player – I can charge it using the computer but not transfer files.

Margarita number three is almost gone so it's time to toddle off to sleep.

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Anyone got time they can give me? Not help, time.

May 9th, 2008 No comments

Too much to do and not enough time!  How many times (hah!) have you heard that?

I leave for ReaperCon next week and pretty much immediately after I return we go on our first camping trip of the season.  We haven't really dredged out the camper for this year, I only have half the linens washed, the icebox needs to be scrubbed, etc.  We don't have a way to hook up power to the camper where it is so I can only work during daylight hours.  And there's no way I'm getting the last two curtains made before the first trip but that's less of an issue since they're replacement curtains.

Our weekend is half-booked so I'm really hoping I can use the other half.  Reeeeally hoping.

I need to finish painting and landscaping a piece I'm bringing to ReaperCon as a gift so that's also going to have to get done this weekend so it has time to dry before being packed.

So, if anyone can toss a day my way it would be greatly appreciated.

PS – the dandylions have won this round.  I will resort to chemicals to win the battle.

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May 4th, 2008 2 comments

Somehow it became my responsibility to keep the yard free of the Yellow Menace.  We didn't have a problem with them until a few years ago and then they invaded.

If you don't live in an typical American suburb/small town you might not understand the mindset.  Dandelions are a scourge.  To have them in your yard shows a lack of character on your part.  Neighbors talk about you over backyard fences.  You're not invited to block parties.  You're shunned.  Well, maybe not that bad but if you live in an area with the putting green yards and you have dandelions you really are an outcast.

One of our neighbors showed us a yard tool called a Weed Hound.  This thing really works and gets down about three inches under the surface to pull up roots.  Personally I think it could be about six inches taller but that's just me.  The Rastl household has found that using this hurts Mr. Rastl's back too much so Rastl gets to pull all the weeds.  Funny that.

So every day when I take the dogs out I scout the yard for offending yellowness.  And then I go around and yank the suckers out.  There is something strangely satisfying about the crack of hearing a taproot break, knowing you got it in just the right place.  I'm not strong enough to just push down on the plunger to clear and rest the tool so I have to spin it around and drop it on the ground.  Spin it back upright and off to the next one.

Right now there's a pile of pulled dandelions on the tiny section of patio bricks, waiting to be bagged up.  It kind of feels like a victory pile as I see all the weeds that didn't get a chance to fulfill their mission.

Some notes on dandelions.

They hide.  A lot of the time until you see them flower you don't even realize they were there.  The center of the plant is just below the surface and once you locate it you can see all the flower heads waiting for their chance.  So another strain is getting down there and locating the heart of the beast.

They're huge.  You pull out one from the center and suddenly you've got a foot-wide spread of leaves.  Since they're so low to the ground they can keep their leaves under the grass.

They'll be back.  I can break off the taproot but I know it's still there.  Waiting for a chance to grow.

But overall if I can keep them from going to seed I think I'm doing well.  I might slowly reduce the number of them in the yard as they don't regrow after being pulled but if they go to seed I'll have a whole new back to deal with later.

In summary.  If you need to get rid of dandelions, don't want to use chemicals, and can invest a little bit of money in a tool go for that Weed Hound.  And somehow get someone else in your household to use it.

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