Monday, November 21, 2011

Update from Jeff

As you will know I'm keeping in touch with Jeff.  I write to him every couple of weeks and ask him to share his experiences of China with me.  I also do it to let him know that he's not forgotten.

Here's his latest for you to read.

So, To the questions.

1: What’s grocery shopping like?
You really have 2 options for groceries where we are. You can go across the road to the Carrefour. (a massive french based department store with something like a Coles on the top floor.) You can get just about anything there from your entertainment centre to motorbikes. You will have a hard time finding anything though. Chinese or maybe French logic means that if you have the dishwashing stuff in one aisle like brushes and racks, you must have things like plugs and sponges 3 aisles down. Brooms are not kept near the mops and buckets... That would make sense. They are kept near the dishwashing detergent. The food section is kind of the same but they have an imported section where I can get stuff like Tim Tams and cornflakes. You do tend to pay western prices for things and it can get very expensive very fast.
The other option is to go to the local market stalls. You get slightly fresher fruit and veg at a much reduced price. As for meat though, that is an experience. From both Carrefour and the meat market you can get things like live eels, turtles, clams, fish and frogs. Both of them have all of the meat in trays out in front opf the stall and you just pick what you want and they bag it up for you. At the meat market though you have live chickens and pigs standing around looking a little bewildered. I watched one guy order a bunch of eel and while he waited the lady picked one up, laid it on the chopping block where there was a nail at the top to keep the slimy little bugger there. she then slit it open and took out all the guts and bones. As she threw it into the plastic bag, the mouth was still opening and closing. Then there were the chickens.... It was at that point I left. I let the Ayi (person who does the cleaning and looks after Ruby and does the cooking) do all of the shopping as she gets a better bargain and knows the reputable stores.

2: How do you get to and from work?

Soong Ching Ling school has a branch of the kindergarden (Hong Mei road.) out near where I live. The school puts on a bus for all of the Chinese teachers that live in the city to take to the Chingpu campus. I take that one out to the primary school right next door. Getting to the Hong Mei campus is fun though as I can walk but prefer to take the electric scooter as it take 5 mins not 20. Everything that anyone has said about Chinese drivers in Australia is a product of the roads here. People would rather eat broken glass than let you in. There is at any one set of lights about 30 - 40 people on bikes all waiting to go with the lights. All of these people are being honked at by the people trying to turn against the lights. Those people are being honked at by the people trying to get through the lights before they turn red. those people are being honked at by the people who anticipate the lights and have already started to go. those people are being honked at by the people who are running the now red light (after it has been red for a few seconds.). Then there are the people who use their horn as a surrogate to using their indicator. And then there are the people that are honking at you to let you know that they are about to run you over and that you should get off of the footpath if you want to walk somewhere. This shit is crazy. But somehow it all works. I walked past the scene of an accident where a bike t-boned a taxi. The cops were measuring the skid distance and doing all of that while traffic was weaving in and out between the still crashed bike, the taxi, the cops and running over the measuring tape. People will not stop for anything here.

3: What do you do in your down time?

Down time? wtf is that?

But seriously, there is a massive amount of things to do in this city. The volume of drinking establishments and other types of eateries means that you could be drunk and fed well everyday for a couple of years without repeating an establishment. And that is without travelling very much furthur than 20 mins either side of the main part of the city. There are a huge number of tourist sites like peoples square and some temples around. Historic water towns are beautiful to see and are not far out of town. They are knocking down a few of the old towns to make way for new development though and there is a lot of history vanishing day by day. If you want to travel a couple of hours to somewhere like Ningbo or Beijing (flight time that is) and you experience a whole new level of the world. Weekend trips to those places you see on the documentaries are not a difficult thing to organise. In general though we would head out to the pearl markets to get shop for some cheap jewelry or something. They have a reputable dvd store where you get some pretty recent movies for about 5 RMB each. Television series like mash box set will set you back about 100RMB ($15AUD). After I invest in a good dvd player I will be set up nicely. The current dvd player is a bit shit. Then there are the fabric markets where you can get a suit or shirts made. I recently ordered some jeans to be tailor made for 160 RMB (about $25 AUD). I am going to pick up a Cashmere full length overcoat that is being tailor made for me that only cost 600 RMB ($100AUD after some hard bargaining). I priced one on ebay at $1500AUD. Woot!. The fake markets are where you can go and get genuine replicas of just about anything you want. They are selling rifle scopes next to toy helicopters. a stall that sells make up is sandwiched between a luggage stall and a stall that is selling ipads and other android tablets. Belts, watches, sunnies, posters, silk paintings, beautiful tea sets, bottle openers are all on sale. It is utterly bewildering over here.

Carrie may be coming back to Australia in Jan some time so we may have to put togehter a care package for the piggies.

I have to get some work done now so I'll sign off.

Have fun and stay well John. Give my love to Bec and slap Paul around a little. Or vice versa if you are feeling tired of living.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The problems with enamel paint

I finally found some cheap paint for my gaming tables.  The problem, they are enamel.  Normally I don't have to worry when using acrylics, it dries so quickly.  My patience is being tried waiting for the paint to dry, it's like watching grass grow.

I have pine boards, which have notches.  So I've applied putty, thinking maybe this is a waste of effort, considering that I will be moving the boards from time to time.  However, the first board has been done.  It's my naval board which while the Royal Blue is gloss, it suits the theme of water.

I will take pictures eventually. 

Chasing E.C.Tubb Books

Ok I'm on the scrounge.  I've gone back to reading old titles from old authors.  The following are titles I'm after from E.C.Tubb.  If you can provide me with them, leave a post in my comments.

Dumarest of Terra or Dumarest Saga as they are known.

8. Veruchia
9. Mayenne
10. Jondelle
16. Haven of Darkness
17. Prison of Night
18. Incident on Ath
19. The Quillian Sector
20. Web of Sand
22. The Terra Data
23. World of Promise
26. The Coming Event
28. Melome
29. Angado
30. Symbol of Terra
31. The Temple of Truth
32. The Return
33. Child of Earth

Monday, November 14, 2011

No Motivation

It's sad to say but I have lost my motivation and focus.  I know I've been saying this for a while, and I suppose people are tired of seeing me write as much.  Yet I have not found the enthusiasm to do any of the thousand and one projects that are sitting in my Studio, crying out for attention.

I thought a little shopping therapy would help me, by getting me excited with a new project.  It did not work.  I don't know what will get me going again.

I have decided to think through some logistical removals within my residence.  I think that the changes will result in some increased gaming space and the placement of my precious libraries out of harms way, as well as placing them all in one area.  I just have to work out how I'm going to be able to move all the furniture by myself in this heat.  I did it before, so I guess I can do it again.

So while I have been thinking of these plans I have been updating my library database.  I have now catalogued 4 bookcases and recorded 1,152 items.  Only 4 more bookcases and about 40 boxes to go.  I'm staggered by the size of it all.  It makes me hope that my children will appreciate what I'm going to leave them, otherwise I shall have to find a padawan who will accept my collection.

This brings me to a question that a number of people ask me.  "How can you afford all of this?"  Well for starters I own my home, I have no credit cards or debts of any kind.  I don't drink or smoke, eat out or gamble.  So this means that apart from the costs of living and utilities my pension allows me to buy the things I need that help to while away my time while waiting for the Grim Reaper.  So there's your answer people, I hope that answer satisfies your curiosity.

I'd really like to run some roleplaying games again, particularly Call of Cthulhu or Empire of the Petal Throne, even first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  I just need to find people who would want to participate in some games.

I intend to buy a few my 4'x4' boards from Bunnings this week.  This will allow me to have a variety of game systems catered for.  Just need some cheap paint to make them playable.

I'd like this heat we are having to go away, but I guess it's a taste of whats to come this Summer. 

Well I'm off to spray some more insecticide about, got to get those cockroaches under control.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Table Tops

Finally I bit the bullet and went to Bunnings to buy some new tabletops to game on.

I almost got the 4'x4' size.  They are just short by I think 1/2", but close enough is good enough in this case.  I'm very happy with this.  They are pine, and will only need a light sanding to take the rough cuts along the edges.  I intend to paint one blue for my sea table, the other black for a space table.  Will have to see how brave I am with painting stars and the like on the space table.

The other two boards I bought for DBA.  They are 3'x2' which is great as it will leave 6" on either side of the 2'x2' area for the placement of "dead" and other gaming paraphernalia.  I may buy a few more of these and store them with the long term view of a one day DBA/HotT tournament.  Need to drum up interest in this though as it's only a very small number of players at the Blind Pig who play.

So, it's the club tomorrow.  An epic game of Dystopian Wars with Leslie.  I wonder how many points we'll go for this time.  Something insane I'm sure.  Must remember to bring my camera.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekly Update

What have I been up to?

Well I haven't been painting if that's what you may be asking.

Have I done anything?

Nothing that I find worthy of seeking accolades for.

Finally bit the bullet and purchased some more Dragyri for Dark Age.  May get them this week.

Visited my local second hand bookshop.  Stripped them of some more authors I remember reading in my youth.  As you may guess I'm spending more and more of my time in the past.  I guess I'm finding comfort in those things that made me happy.  Reading certainly falls into that category.  It also means I don't have to raise a paint brush and do any serious work.

I really should update my book database more regularly.  I had fallen behind the work and had to enter 61 new titles to the collection.  It now stands at 1148 novels.  I really must invest in more bookshelves, but that would stop be from buying more books or figures or games...

The school year is almost finished.  My son has his grade 11 exam block next and following week, then he's on hols.  So my internet connection speed will drop, my electricity bill will go up.  That's all it's doing now, going up and up with no stopping.  If my children didn't need computers and social networks I think my bill would be considerably less, but that doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.

It's interesting.  In my youth entertainment was simple.  There were books, games and the great outdoors.  The only power I needed was for the light to read a book at night.  Games were such that no power was required, except if played at night.  If I were to mention to my children to pick up a book, they look at me as if I've grown a second head.  That so "old school" they tell me. 

I had an interesting conversation with a friend today.  It was about gun laws.  He argued that we should be entitled to own guns.  I disagreed.  I stated that guns are like security screens for your home.  A security screen deters the casual offender. One who might be encouraged to break and enter because there is no security will do so.  If there is security they will pass it by more often than not.  Of course a security system will not deter the professional or the determined.  Gun laws are like that.  If guns are readily available then the casual offender will be tempted by the freedom and can cause harm.  With restrictions you can stop the casual offender, but not the determined from doing harm.  I wonder how many deaths are actually caused by gunshots?  How many people are killed by other devices or tools, say knives?  As I concluded our conversation, I simple stated "each to their own", as I don't believe I swayed him by my arguments.  I of course would not be able to own a gun, and if I did, it would be a danger to myself more than to anyone else.  I have no intention of dying the slow malignant death which is my final fate.

Bah, I getting melancholy again.

So the club is on this Saturday the 12th.  I'm hoping to be there, but am feeling a build up of toxins inside me that may cause me some issues.  I do want to give Leslie a sound thrashing at Dystopian Wars, of which he richly deserves but will more than likely be the reverse.  Optimistic aren't I!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Collection of AD&D Modules

Listed below are all the AD&D modules that I have managed to find so far.  There are some gaps, and I have as yet to satisfy myself that there are not a few of them hidden in some of the many boxes that make up my filing system.

If you have any of the modules I'm missing, please let me know and we'll see if we can come to arrangment over a sale or trade.  Please post in the comment section.

Secret of the Slavers Stockade
Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords
In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords
In Search of the Unknown
The Keep on the Borderlands
The Lost City
The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
The Ghost Tower of Inverness
The Lost Island of Castanamir
To Find a King
Test of the Warlords
The Tree of Life
Descent into the Depths of the Earth
Shrine of the Kuo-Toa
Vault of the Drow
Dragons of Desolation
The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror
Against the Giants
Adventure Pack I
Oasis of the White Palm
Lost Tomb of Martek
Baltron's Beacon
Ravager of Time
The Secret of Bone Hill
Blizzard Pass
Maze of the Riddling Minotaur
Against the Cult of the Reptile God
Blade of Vengeance
Swords of the Daimyo
Queen of the Demonweb Pits
The Book of Lairs II
Tomb of Horrors
White Plume Mountain
Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
The Temple of Elemental Evil
Danger at Dunwater
The Final Enemy
Beyond the Crystal Cave
The Sentinel
The Gauntlet
When a Star Falls
Eye of the Serpent
All That Glitters...
The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdan
Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure
Isle of the Ape
Castle Greyhawk
Red Arrow, Black Shield
Curse of Xanathon
Terrible Trouble at Tragidore

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blood Bowl 1st Edition Rules

I am desperately seeking a copy of the very first release of Blood Bowl, specifically the rules.  My set was lost in floods some time ago and I'm wanting to complete the set.  If you can help then let me know by posting in the comments section.
from the Mad One