Model Growth

Building a model has plenty of things to teach the builder, especially when the builders are children. As part of Warhammer 40k armies have vehicles. Vehicles are two things, expensive and in many pieces. Thus, being a good parent I had each child earn the money to purchase their vehicles. Unexpectedly, they worked harder than I expected and earned the money in record time.

Expensive not out of the way, but covered by their diligent work.

Next up, many pieces.

Games Workshop models, all varities, have directions. The quality of the directions have changed over the years with the most recent directions being the best; high resolution images, multiple views, and easy to follow steps. Older instructions are bad. Just plain bad; low resolution images, single view, and often five of more steps giving with one illustration with no indication of what order the pieces are assembled.

Our children got kits with older instructions. I told them that I would be there to assist with the models expecting that I would be the one building the entire kit. A big reason I am pushing 40k on the kids are the numerous skills that they can learn, especially building models.

Patience, building a model takes patience. Rushing a build, as our son found out, can lead to some interesting problems, such as their not being enough space for the driver without breaking off some other parts.

Problem solving, reading and interpreting instructions is one thing, figuring out how pieces fit together another and when something goes wrong, see above, how you handle or solve the issue is another.

Creativity, they could build the kits as is or they could get creative. Our boy added parts from one kit to another and our girl worked out the look that appealed to her most.

Three skills I am more than happy for them to learn. Still I expected to end up building the models. Imagine my surprise when they built all of their kits with minimal assistance from me. Our boy learned the hard way that rush building leads to complications, such as the driver not fitting without some modification. He learned to interpret the instructions, such as when one image shows at least ten different parts going on the same piece at the same time. He learned how to problem solve when interpretation failed and he had to cut off a piece to get other pieces in place. Our girl watched her brother and decided not to rush the build. Good for her. She still had to learn to read the instructions. Interestingly enough she did not run into the same issues as he did.

When they finished I had offered suggestions and confirmed parts a few times, showed them how to use rubber bands to hold parts together, put decals on, and reinforce that they could indeed build their own vehicles. Now I have to deal with them on the tabletop. 🙂

Moments to Myself

Maintain heat, keep an eye on the food.

“Dad can you help me?”

A text from someone.

Back to the food, while one dish cooks, prep another.

“Dad…”

Two days of cooking, one long trip to bring someone replacement pants, and I finally have some time to myself. I know that sounds bad, as in, I have not had any time to myself…boo hoo. Nothing like that, more along the lines of feeling like I have been doing so much other stuff that I have not taken time to myself. Thus, no boo hoo, more of a whew, cooking and mowing the lawn have kicked the crap out of the still working off a winter of nothing me.

Bentoing is in full swing. Our refrigerator is packed full of goodies. I am not exaggerating either. Each time I make something else I have to spend five minutes arranging everything to make room. There are four types of chicken, three types of cauliflower, two types of carrots, a ton of rice and cold noodles, tamago, and at least a dozen other dishes in there waiting for hungry people or me to pack a bento for Barb. Once I find some place in the fridge 7.5 pounds of pork shoulder is getting turned into pickled pork for red beans and rice, pork for asian dishes, and pulled pork because pulled pork is yummy.

All of the cooking is tiring. And hot. I hope I have sweated off 10 pounds. I have not, but the summer is young. Between rounds of cooking, what is a round of cooking you ask? When I dirty up all of the cooking utensils the cleaning crew, kids, come in and clean up. While they clean, I figure out what is next, then back to the kitchen. They are tired of cleaning dishes. I told them they get a break…I lied, in a bit I will be making sauces. 🙂

Around the cooking, is cleaning, mostly mowing. With almost 2 acres the lawn must get mowed…when the lawn has been watered via rain and is not mostly brown or completely weed grown. This time, much to my chagrin, weed grown. I have a mowed almost 2 acres, took three days, and most of it is brown. I am not a lawn person, in fact if the weeds didn’t look so weedy I would let the lawn grow for the whole season in the hope that next year there really was green grass. Alas, mostly weeds until rain arrives in force. Scattered rain for three days is not what our lawn needs. Just the humidity.

Here I am after two days, sore, tired, happy belly, awesome smelling house, a fridge full of food, and I have not done much for myself. What is stuff for me? Writing, painting, and reading. Oh I forgot, a few smaller projects, such as the list of games I would like to sell or trade which I keep meaning to do…but…you read the last few days. Once I get that out of the way, back to working on Puddles and Whiskers and painting some miniatures for the new version of Warhammer 40k.

 

Father’s Day Surprise In Song and Bento

I went to bed worn out from the drama of before Father’s Day. I woke up expecting next to nothing. Not because nobody cares, but because Father’s Day is a low key event around here. Imagine my surprise.

I woke up feeling like I had been drinking, odd given that no drinking happened. Possibly rain, oh well most of the night before was spent discussing opening up the bento kitchen. I am all for that given how much I love to cook. The biggest stop to cooking around here has been Barb’s schedule and the fact that most of the stores she works at don’t have fridge or a microwave. However a solution was found and the bento kitchen is open.

Meaning my morning was spent in the kitchen.

  • Honey curry carrots
  • Curry smashed potatoes
  • Sweet and spicy bell pepper slices
  • Cold noodles
  • Rice
  • Tamago rolls
  • Garlic and butter mushroom quarters
  • Burnt onions, sounds wrong, but really good

If that had been the extent of my day, I would have been happy as the kids were being pretty good.

A quick trip to an over crowded store for additional ingredients and storage solutions for all of the food where my favorite meat counter lady knew exactly what I was looking for when I said smocked ham hock for red beans and rice. Not bad at all.

Then at home I get the real surprise.

Ever since an off-hand lengthy joke about the kids forming a band named Curb Service after an ill placed sign seen during C4*, our girl has been practicing the guitar. Almost everyday.

I don’t think about her practicing other than, “good she is practicing” and “good she is getting better.” So when I was pulled out of the bedroom where I was working on the recipe list for more bento stuff I was unprepared to find our girl sitting on a stool, music stand in front of her, guitar in her lap, ready to sing.

She wrote me a song.

“Violets are purple. Roses are red. I love you so Happy Father’s Day dad. Rhinos are grey same with rocks. Have a fun Father’s Day dad. I love you more than purple pie. So Happy Father’s Day dad.”

I have the video. I would share it with you, but I am saving it for when she becomes famous and is out of control. You know how famous people get.

Then to top it off, I was given a pair of plaid shorts. I saw a pair on an elderly man and commented I would like a pair too because he, like me, didn’t seem to give a shit and people gave him what he wanted and were nice to him to boot. My thought, the plaid shorts have magical powers otherwise why wear them when not on a golf course.

And that is why I cannot play the piano and had an awesome Father’s Day.

* This curb service sign was at least 200 feet away from the restaurant on the busiest road imaginable. My story was someone parking alongside the curb and yelling to the people outside about wanting service. This triggered an hour long bout of laughing, a band, their number one song “I want my wiener,” and numerous other good memories.

A Handful of Vomit & Pork Belly

I don’t make plans. See here if you don’t believe me or understand why.

I have children. Children derail anything and everything.

Got that?

A trip to Grand Rapids was necessary today. A long trip. Going to Grand Rapids is not something I do lightly, as I hate all of the traffic. The people are a mixed bag, but I can deal with the crowds. The traffic though, hate it. On top of my list for the long trip, find pork belly.

Despite living around several farms, I cannot for the life of me find pork belly. Lots of people who swear they sell pork belly, but to date nope. Thus I have to travel to Grand Rapids to the Downtown Market. I like the Market, a reasonable butcher and fish monger. Good cheese shop and other goodies. Problem for me is that the Market is not really a market, but what people with too little knowledge, too much time and money think is a market. Everything is too packaged and too clean to be a real market, more like a different kind of grocery store. But they have pork belly.

Then the child vomited. All of a sudden. No warning signs at all. Standing near the meat counter…BARF. Being a parent, I do the following:

  • try to comfort my child which is where the screen of my “military grade” phone cracked
  • try to contain the mess, which is how I ended up with a handful of vomit
  • try to, and I shit you not, get ANYONE from behind the counter to do something more than ask, “Can I help you with something in our display?” No shit. Tried to sell me meat while my kid is puking.

To many perfect people and families walk by with that look of “oh my look at those poor (not poor as in sympathetic, but poor as in not dressed like us, people.” Finally, an adult behind the counter sees the problem and assists, but by then the kid was off to a bathroom and I cleaned up the mess. Fuckers!

But I got pork belly.

A trip to the nearest pharmacy for some stomach meds hoping that it takes care of the problem and we are off to the next stop, Rider’s Hobby Shop. Way to much money and one almost vomit incident later we, the adults, debate the merits of returning home or heading to Momma Lee’s. Consulting with the child, go to Mama Lee’s because I need ingredients to cook a lot of stuff. In case you are curious why we didn’t go home after pork belly, the sick child had been looking forward all week to Rider’s and would not be deterred…not even by a second almost vomit.

Momma Lee’s, like clock work. Let’s put food in all of us. What happened next is not a testament to Denny’s…the car stopped, the child bolted, the parents said wait, the child exploded all over the empty parking lot.

Now we head home. Something I haven’t mentioned is that we need rain. Very dry around here. Want to guess when it rained?

If you guessed when the kid had to vomit, we pull off the road, I join him outside the car, and then the sky opens up. Soaked and feeling miserable, the child fell asleep less than a mile later. The rain stopped a half-mile after that.

At home the child feels better, which really is the important part of the whole story.

 

Bloody Bear Reading Corner: 14 Hours And 500+ Pages Without Power

What does a bear do when the power goes out right at the best moment of Transformers Dark Side of the Moon?

A bear wonders how long the power will be out after checking the breaker box.

A bear would check to see if the neighbors have power, but the neighbors are in the distance and it was very hot for a bear to be walking in just to see if the neighbors had power.

A bear realizing that he has no internet pulls out his trusty phone that he never uses because it does have internet, files a complaint about the power, sees that he is not the only bear affected, checks the estimated time for completion…3 hours not so bad

A bears pulls out the book he had started the day before Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. Sometimes for this bear life has a strange way of connecting one thing with another without realizing it. Such as there is a TV show called the Expanse, that I was thinking about watching. I found Leviathan Wakes which turns out is the basis for the show, I did not know this at the time. After finishing Leviathan Wakes in 10 hours, I plan on watching the show AND I plan on picking up the other books in the series.

Leviathan Wakes is the polar opposite of Robopocalypse. Where Robopocalypse is told through the eyes of several characters in tiny snippets leaving much for the reader to put together, Leviathan Wakes is told through alternating chapters of two primary characters. There is plenty for the reader to imagine. The story however is all there and what a story Leviathan Wakes is.

A science fiction space opera with a very detailed world, Leviathan Wakes also has a mystery and elements of horror. Suffice to say, I believe there is something for everyone, character development, space battles, horror, mystery, deep story line, good plot, and there is room for more.

Without giving much away, Leviathan Wakes begins with a kidnapping, which is where Detective Miller joins the book, looking for the missing person. Jim Holden, working on an ice hauling ship investigates another mystery. As the book progresses the two characters come together for something much larger than the initial kidnapping and mystery.

The primary setting is the Belt a series of space stations in an asteroid belt. That being said, Earth and a colonized Mars get involved making what starts out as small story turn large in a similar way how Star Wars began small and turned large revealing a universe much bigger than expected.

This bear is slightly glad for the power outage, because I had something I don’t normally think I do, time to read. Leviathan Wakes is a page turner, not in that mindless manner that many page turners are, but in a “I have to know what happens.” I got invested in the story and all of the characters. What more can I say, give Leviathan Wakes a try.

Recycling Games

We have a lot of games and things collected over many years. Over time games and things get left behind. Forgotten on a shelf or in a box until one day you stumble upon them. Sometimes the forgotten get a new life, but more often than not the game is put back on the shelf or back in the box to be forgotten until you have to move at which point…the whole process starts over.

I do not like to keep things I am not using. A lifetime of moving drilled into me do not carry around more than you need or want to move, mostly the second one. Recently I have been looking at reducing our extra games and stuff. If we aren’t playing it or using it we should find something to do with them.

Our form of recycling. Thankfully there are a few places to unload games and stuff. My favorite part of the process is seeing what happens to stuff that nobody wants. Hold on a sec. Way back in the day, when I lived in apartments overrun with kids who had less than nothing to do to keep them from hanging outside my door and lighten my load I gave them games and such that I no longer had a need for. Best time was two kids playing Magic the Gathering with about 10 cards between them. The look when I gave them a box of commons, uncommons, and lands. They didn’t hang outside my door again.

So with that in mind, I enjoy seeing how much stuff is worth. I don’t care. If I cared I would take care of the price/sale myself. I’m just looking to lighten my load. Whatever I get is more than enough. At the end of our last trip we had a box of cards that they didn’t want and we didn’t want to cart home. We asked if they just take them. They, being the store people, said we have a box of stuff we give to new players. Perfect. That’s what I used to do.

Meanwhile at home, the Robotech RPG Tactics game has found a second and third life. The books went into starting a series of fires and as packing material. The food was good, so turning bad into good. The miniatures have languished in a box for a while now. The kids pulled out a few to practice painting on, a good use for them. They did not want to learn how to build using them, a good decision on their part.  Back in the box they went until someone else wanted to learn how to paint.

Instead of them purchasing expensive miniatures and practice on them why not use these? No reason why not. With one stroke I lighten my load by giving the miniatures away and they have something to practice on.

Slowly, but surely, we are lightening our load of games and stuff not used by us and turning them into something of value to us or giving them away to people who can put them to us.

Trials and Tribulations of Comic Books

As regular readers know, we enjoy going to comic cons. What you may assume is that we are avid readers and collectors of comic books. That would make sense, read and collect comic books, thus go to comic cons to find, share, and enjoy in our love of comic books. The reality is that we are not avid readers nor collectors.

A long time ago, up to the middle of high school I was an avid reader and collector of comic books. I sold them for something or the other I wanted at the time. No regrets, but that marked the end of my comic book reading and collecting.

Then children arrive. In an effort to move them from board books I think how much enjoyment I got from comic books. Plus, I had an itch to read something different. Perhaps I think, comic books might be another bridge for the kids and the adults, might spark some creativity in all of us, and show the kids that the don’t have to give up pictures and words for word only books.

Except the kids…well were kids. They had to see some of the Marvel movies first. Actually SEE Iron Man before they even wanted to open a comic book. Guess what happened then? If you guessed, Iron Man on a page did not look like or act like Iron Man on the movie screen you would be right.

Funny thing is that the stuff in a comic book store caught their attention; a poster, a statue or the cover of a comic book. Slowly over the years I try to introduce a comic book or two that I think one child or another will enjoy based…well based mostly on nothing because there is a problem with comic books and purchasing them, at least for me.

I can read story synopsizes and reviews until I am blue in the face. What I cannot not find out until I purchase something is how much other reading is necessary to make the comic or graphic novel make any sense at all. I know comic books have never been much on anything other than pumping out issue after issue, with variant covers, and crossover stories, and reboots, and blah blah blah…

That’s great for someone to dive in. For someone looking for a place to start for themselves or their children, a real crapshoot and not a crapshoot in favor of the parent. Yes, I am frustrated. If the children had remained immune to comic books I wouldn’t be. But they are interested and they have questions that I cannot answer because I, like them, have no clue about references and history no in the issue or novel they are reading.

That level of disconnect is not good. Try to imagine a book that billed itself as the “first” or “the whole story” and as you read you realized that there were hundreds of other books that were referenced directly and indirectly and you have no way of knowing what they mean. Frustrating right? Now imagine being a kid.

I am happy and surprised each time one of them comes out of the library with a comic book or graphic novel and finishes it, a single issue is confusing and graphic novels are never “the whole story or series” in one book. I hope that comic book creators figure out some way to address this, I know our kids and I would appreciate that. We might purchase more than we do.