Yes! Back behind the GM screen once again. It’s been a while… Continue reading
Yes! Back behind the GM screen once again. It’s been a while… Continue reading
This was originally started in June 2011, after my 20-year high school reunion (Go Mavs!), but it just never got done…since I’ve been updating my blog recently I noticed that this and other blog posts have been sitting in the ‘Drafts’ section for quite a while, and with my 40th birthday coming up it’s about time to finish this up!
With my recent 20th anniversary high school reunion and trip to Texas to see old friends (and in Chicago, too!), I’ve been getting a few more friend requests on Facebook, which is great! Unfortunately, many of the friend requests come mostly from people who I haven’t seen in 10 years (at the last high school reunion), 14 years (when I left Texas), or even 20 years (when I left high school)! So it’s hard to catch up individually with everyone and explain what I’ve been doing in that time. Don’t get me wrong – I love to catch up with folks who I haven’t seen in ages, but by the time I condense the last 20 years of my life to the 20th person, it comes out like, “Moved to California in ’97, moved to England in ’04. What have you been up to?” And that’s just not fair. People (as in literally everyone) want to hear what The Frank has been doing, so here goes a general timeline:
1991 – graduated high school, worked at Tom’s Ribs (the original location!) for the summer, went to North Carolina A&T on a full-ride Army scholarship. I picked ‘Architectural Engineering’ as my degree choice. That was…okay. Continue reading
So, more in the ‘what have you been up to?’ segment…
The past couple of summers, I’ve been to a couple of major RC (radio-controlled model) car racing events around Europe, so I’ve been doing a little extra travel as a side-job and reporting for a site called RCRacing.TV
Basically this entails taking pictures, talking to the top drivers at each event, doing various race reports and posting the reports and pictures online. Pretty geeky, yeah, and very few people realize how seriously many of these racers take their racing – most of them pay hundreds of (pounds, Euros, whatever) to drive or fly hundreds of (miles, kilometers) across the continent to race in front of very few spectators for no other glory than to try to do better than they did last year. Those that haven’t paid their way are there because there are companies that actually sponsor them (with money!) to do well and promote their products – the top guys are actually paid a salary to race toy cars for a living – and if the sponsored guys don’t do well, they know their sponsors might be tempted to look elsewhere when their contract is finished. So there’s a lot of pressure involved and it usually means some good racing.
This year I was asked to try to do race commentary, which, if you’ve watched motorsports before, consists of some guy who thinks he’s a know-it-all about the race and the drivers (‘some guy’ being me in this case) and babbling over the practice, qualifying heats and races. It was my first time doing it at the European Championships for electric buggy (there being two classes: 2WD and 4wD), then the following week I was scheduled to announce for the Championships for the much larger and cosmically faster 1/8th scale on-road class.
Here’s the race edit of just the fastest 10 guys (the A Final) in the 2WD electric buggy, with my commentary (the other voice you’ll hear is my friend and colleague during the trip, Mat):
So, for the last year, the biggest new thing I’ve been doing is doing a lot of tabletop wargaming.
I used to do a bit of tabletop gaming before I left Texas but because I played with just a couple of friends it never grew into anything bigger. The game we played at the time was Heavy Gear, which hss a futuristic sci-fi setting and you move around small piloted robots kind of like Gundam or Robotech, but they are much smaller than the robots in those settings. I really enjoyed playing these games and it was just very casual with terrain (buildings, walls, etc.) made from old boxes and styrofoam packing materials. I still have all the models I built and painted from that time. Good stuff!
Last May or June one of the guys I play Dungeons & Dragons (and other tabletop roleplaying games) with said he started collected some of the newer Warhammer 40K models, so I checked them out and bought an army from a guy I work with. Fast forward a couple of months and my fellow D&D player, the guy from work and two more guys from work are playing regular games, every week or two, at mine, in the dining room. Fast forward a couple more months and I’ve got a second army, the original guy from work has a second army and we’re playing pretty much every week, sometimes a couple times a week!
So it’s been pretty busy on this front, which is why this is my first ‘episode’ of what I’ve been up to for the last year or so. So busy, in fact, that we’ve got a website that I maintain, plus a Youtube channel that has all of our latest tabletop battles. There’s also a big online photo album of most of my models I’ve painted up for my armies, and another online album of pictures taken during the battles (once we moved to video battle reports the flow of pictures has slowed down quite a bit).
To give you an idea of the painting I’ve been doing (which takes up a LOT more time than actually playing the games), here’s a few of my favorite models I’ve done:
Yeah it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog, so I figured what the hell.
What prompted this is I caught up with a buddy I used to play tons of online games with, and getting him up to speed after about 10 years of no contact got me thinking I should update this sucker. Plus, I got in touch with another friend who I hadn’t talked with in several months, had a nice online chat and got caught up with him too.
So over the next little while I’ll be updating this here, so hopefully someone will read this and catch up.
So here’s a couple of cool things, especially if you think the human race will be eliminated sometime this year…
First up is a simulation of what would happen if a rogue star happened to fly through the solar system: http://janus.astro.umd.edu/orbits/nbdy/rstar.html
You can change around the various numbers to see how close the star will come to the sun and Earth – just keep in mind the blue dot is the Earth! That we’re on. Just think of that when you see it whizzing off to destinations unknown…without a sun, without any daylight and with mass chaos everywhere.
For more fun and a bit more graphics bang, check out Universe Sandbox (http://universesandbox.com/), which lets you toss in asteroids, planets and more. You can even play around with scenarios like seeing how close that asteroid in 2010 came…which is very scary to watch!
So have a go at destroying humanity
Since my first ride in a convertible (in high school, in a ’67 Mustang), I’ve always wanted one, but never really had the urge to really look for one or price one up. Now an opportunity has come up to get a FREE CAR, which happens to be a first-generation Mazda MX-5 (the one with the pop-up headlights), which is one car I’ve always thought would be really fun to own and drive.
It’s small, rear-wheel drive, perfectly balanced, convertible (for those few weeks every year that the British weather lets you enjoy top-down weather) and apart from some common but well-documented rust areas apparently it’s a solid car to drive.
With cheap storage costs it’ll be a decent deal, although insurance will be a bugger. Even though it’s free the end cost after it’s fixed up will probably be close to what I could get a good running car for: there’s no interior except for the dash and steering wheel, it hasn’t run in 2 years so it’ll need a new cambelt and maybe tires straight off, it needs an exhaust and the rust I mentioned will have to be cut away and replaced with new steel, then rustproofed and painted.
Luckily a workmate knows how to fix up cars and knows a few people locally who can deal with the welding and electronic stuff (to bypass/remove the faulty alarm), plus his son can do things like take the brakes off and clean them up to see if they’re OK, etc. So in effect I’m getting a new car and spreading the ‘payments’ over a month or two, then I pay the Vehicle Excise Duty (mistakenly called the ‘road tax’ by many British), get it on my insurance and take it to the MOT centre where it gets inspected to make sure it’s legally road-worthy. Once that’s done it’s top-down time, no matter what the weather is like
The first comment I got on Facebook after I said I’d be getting an MX-5 is that it’s a “hairdresser’s car”, which is what Brits call a “girl car”. Fair enough, it’s a small convertible but to be honest I don’t see many women driving an MX-5 around. It’s usually men, and men who know what a decently performing car is like. (Maybe it doesn’t help that the first person I knew who had one of these cars is a gay guy named Bart.) But then, most British folk call the Jeep Wranger a “hairdresser’s car” too…not something I would call off-roaders, hunters and rock crawlers, really, who are the only people I’ve seen drive Wranglers.
So the list of stuff to get for this car seems long, but I’m finding really cheap stuff (like a complete exhaust system for £30) because there’s a big market of MX-5 “breakers”, or people who buy old MX-5′s and take them apart to sell the parts. I can get whole doors, body panels, sets of wheels with tires, etc., it’s all about looking as much as possible and comparing prices.
Could I get a whole, running car cheaper? Maybe. But putting together (or, to be fair, helping to put together) a car that I can turn into a daily driver will be part of the joy of driving it.
And I fully intend to keep the White Lightning (the Saab 900S) – I’ll need it to carry all the parts I have to get!
As for a name for the MX-5? Not sure yet, but maybe “Marty” or “Max”, to keep with the M-theme.