Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Invisible Fat Woman, or , How Not To Make A Sale In Retail

The Missus likes 'em.

I like 'em, too.

Regular readers of this little confection may recall that my birthday comes around at this time of the year. I am now 62 years old; still alive, thankfully, after The Incident although I do have to be careful - I managed to get pretty dehydrated earlier in the week and I really suffered for it. I got back on my water rations, though, and I'm feeling a lot better this weekend.

Every year, about this time, The Missus likes to do a little shopping to get me a surprise foe my birthday. She has a little saving account that she puts money into all year, to pay for gifts over the holidays. She also keeps her eyes open for things that would be useful in our games and which might amuse our friends. This year, she's gotten me some very nifty LED lights with a remote control that will see a lot of use in our games, and she's also looking at some of the pictured buildings for our adventures in Barsoom with Dejah Thoris and John Carter.

This time of the year also sees the annual 'Jubilee Sale' at The Source Comics and Games, and for over a decade The Missus has simply loaded me up with cash and tells me to "Go Forth And Conquer!" at which I smartly mount up, ride forth, and return some hours later laden with loot and treasure. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, today's the day of that sale.

And, for the first time in over a decade, I won't be there supporting my FLGS like everyone says I'm supposed to. Part of it are the issues that the store is dealing with:

An even bigger part of it is the treatment that my Missus gets when she goes into game stores; she's commented more then once that she's got superpowers - she's The Invisible Fat Woman. None of the store  staff pay any attention to her, or even seem to notice her presence; which is a pity, as she's the one who makes the purchasing decisions around these parts. I proposes, she disposes, to turn a phrase. She's also noted that none of the denizens of the store, all those 'geek culture' people who are playing games or hanging out in the place, notice her either. She, perhaps unfairly, contrasts this with the outreach and engagement that she's gotten from the rare groups like the Shieldmaidens who take a moment away from their game to say hello.

And her question is: "Why should I spend my money in a place where nobody cares about me?"

The net result is that she's moving away from making her purchases at the local brick and mortar stores, and making them on-line from the people that we've dealt with over time and who have always been very supportive of her and her gaming.

I have no idea if anyone who works for or games at The Source, Dreamer's Vault, or Tower Games will ever read this blog post; I doubt it, frankly. But if you do, maybe say hello to that person who comes in your door or is standing next to your game table; you might make a sale, or get a new player for your favorite game.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Second Goal Met!

The big Mac in action...

A major goal for us has now been met; the One True manuscript of "To Serve The Petal Throne" is now resident in the big 'billboard' Mac. Automatic back-up software in place, and we're on the way to finishing the book.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Dragon And The Flame - My Campaign Is Up and Running

A work in progress...

Things are starting to return to what passes for normal around here. The new furnace is working fine, all the permits and inspections are done, and I'm finally getting back to all the various projects that have been hanging fire around the house. The Missus has even worked out how to get the van running when she needs is, with a hair-dryer and a jump-start pack. She did slip and fall the other day, bashing up her face on the sidewalk, but she's doing all right. (I was scared witless, myself.)

We are embarking on some very major changes around here, centered around my on-going Tekumel campaign. Named the "Dragon and the Flame", it now has two sections of players running on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, with a possible third section in the works. I am very pleased at the respinse I've gotten from people about playing in phil's world, and I'm having an immense amount of fun running and playing in the campaign. More on this can be found on my forum,

I've been hearing all about how the Google+ platform is being closed by Google, and I am not sure that it will affect me or my gaming much if at all. If Blogger, the platform that this blog is on, also is closed, I suspect I may move over to either Wordpress or entirely to the forum. Either way, I will try to keep people posted.

However, I suspect I'll be putting more effort into what's going on here at the Workbench. We've taken delivery of a new Windows 10 machine, that will give us access to Skype and other on-line video platforms. The game room and lounge are being torn apart and redone, partly to improve the place, but also to allow for better teleconference facilities. Besides the Skype equipment, which will be on-line in less then two months (after I move all the furniture) we'll also have the video shoot built with will give us better upgrades and programming for my YouTube channel.

So, this blog will continue, but we'll have a lot more going on for everyone to see and participate in.

My goal, which is already happening, is to be 'open' for people every Sunday; either to come and play, or to call in and talk to me and whomever might be here. We should be able to have our goal of 'remote gaming' happen, too, and I'm really looking forward to that happening as well. I'll keep everyone posted, of course.

So, lots and lots of changes happening over the holidays, and lots of possibilities coming to pass!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

"Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent..."

"Zhodi", after my son-in-law

"... Made Glorious By The Summer Sun Of Ray N. Welter Heating And Cooling..."

To misquote one W. Shakespeare, writing dialog for a guy who ended up getting a pole-axe in the back of his head and then winding up under a car park.

Our wonderful contractor has been in and gotten the new furnace and central air conditioning installed; the tech crew will be back in tomorrow to finish the electrical work and deal with a leaking valve. It has been a long cold month; while the first part of October wasn't too bad, the latter part and this month have been a grim race to the bottom of the thermometer and a struggle to keep the house above +55F so the pipes wouldn't freeze. if they had, we'd have had to write off the house and move out.

But, that has now been averted. The basement looks like a junkyard, a all the stuff I've been hoarding for the past thirty years had to be moved out of the crew's way. Luckily, I have the four-day holiday weekend coming up, and I should be able to get the mess all sorted before the gamers arrive this coming Sunday.

A lot of the stuff is simply scrap lumber. Both my neighbors have those ceramic pot kind of outdoor fireplaces, so I suspect I'll chop up the stuff for them to use this coming summer. The rest of the mess is old gear, so it'll get tested and sorted out; much of it still has the old tags from when it was last used, back in 1997.

I've also begun demolition in the game room proper, as we get ready for the big move at the end of December. The idea is to address the concerns that people have had over the way the space is laid out; when I redid the game room a few years back, it was after the death of my old campaign - and, to be honest, I never expected to be running a big campaign with a lot of players ever again.

Well, never say never again. The 'Sword And The Flame' has not one but two game groups, and is going from strength to strength. The associated forum, '' is also steaming right along, and I am also very pleased with that.

The basic idea for the move is to put the lounge where the game room is now, and the game room where the lounge is. This will get us a lot more space around the game table, allow for better and more shelves for the miniatures, allow for better and more shelves for the books, and more display space on the walls for maps and art. It'll also allow us to do real 'theater-style' seating for the 52" screen; the 42" plasma will go in the new game room on the wall - I have lots of mounting hardare! - and then be the dis play for our Skype and other ways for people to remote in for games. We had our first remote player at the last Fourth Sunday game session; she was on her way home from Chicago, and remoted in via one of the other player's tablet.

It was very, very cool and a lot of fun hovering the tablet around the table; I think she had a better view then we did.

So, while I'm going to have to do a lot of hard work, I think it'll be worth it. And it's warm in the house, too...

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

From The Missus: "Don't be such a grumpy old man, Chirine."

The 'flames' are molded in clear plastic, on my samples...

And these have seven colors, you say?

It is that time of the year when The Missus send me forth to see what the holiday sales might bring us. This year, it's a third and fourth 'electric radiator' space heater to get us through the cold we're currently having while the the funding and installation of the new heating plant happens, but it's not all doom, gloom, cold, and vans that won't start. (Yes, we're dealing with that again tonight. The street's being swept, and we don't need a ticket and getting towed.)

Back in my youth, lighting effects in models were based on 'grain of wheat' and 'grain of rice' lamps; these were, it should be noted, hard to get and expensive; they were also a paun to wire up and power. These days, I am happy to say, it's a lot easier with the advent of LEDs and LED packages like these tea lights or the IKEA half-domes that I'm fond of using as lanterns on the game table.

When I first saw the WizKids sets of big braziers, all I could think of were those Technicolor epics we used to watch on Saturday afternoons when the local stations had nothing else to run. They were always running at full speed in the throne room scenes, and were always being knocked over or thrown around to create really neat spacial effects in the epic fight scenes.

Well, you know, I do like those epic swashbucklers, so I got four of these models for doing the same thing. And, since the 'flames' are molded in clear plastic, I reached for the cordless drill and put a tidy hole for an LED into the bottom of each bowl of flaming oil or red-hot coals or what ever the studio put in the things.

Then, I found a set of five LED tea lights that change colors automatically, and are pretty bright. Just the thing for those magical flames that movie sorcerers seem to prefer - I do wonder where they get them; probably from their version of people like me, I suppose - and so there we are! A little something for our miniature adventures... :)