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Hitting the Pell

I wrote this a few days ago, but haven't gotten around to posting it until now.  Ice Dragon was yesterday.  Maybe I'll write a post about that, eventually.

I managed to get outside and work out on the pell yesterday.  It was the second time this week, which is amazing considering I hadn’t swung a sword since September of last year.  It felt really good.  They weren’t long sessions, maybe half an hour Sunday and three quarters of an hour yesterday.  But yeah, it felt really good. 

I didn’t follow any particular workout plan, other than spending some time with a variety of weapons forms.  I try to work on targeting, throwing combinations, and footwork.  I think about where my hands are as I throw shots.  I think about where my feet are.  If I find a combination I like, I practice it several times, and I think about more efficient ways to move my feet as I go through the sequence.  I imagine where my opponent’s weapon or shield might be so I can work out different angles for shots.

I always begin with sword and shield, since that is the most common form.  I then move on to hand-and-a-half sword, because that is the form in which I would like to be most skilled.  After that, I bring out my spear, as that is my preferred melee weapon.  And finally, I do some left-handed broadsword work, because right now I am fairly hopeless with my left hand.  I once thought I would be a polearm guy, but I lost interest in it after I picked up a spear.  Right now I only have one sword, so I can’t do the two-sword thing.

I think I finally re-learned how to throw wrap shots.  I’ve been having a lot of trouble with them for the past few years.  Sometimes I felt I was going to hurt my arm or wrist as I threw the shot.  But as I worked on  the pell yesterday, I found myself throwing wrap shots with my left hand.  They were smooth, strong, and did not hurt at all.  I wasn’t even aware I was doing it at first.  Once I realized what was going on, I considered how my left arm, especially the elbow, was moving as I threw the wraps.  It was different than how I did them with my right arm.  I immediately switched my sword to my right hand and started throwing wraps, this time trying to mirror how my left arm had moved.  It wasn’t perfect, but it felt so much better.  It will take more work to get my arm accustomed to it, but I’m happy I finally figured out what was going on.

Saturday is the Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon up in Buffalo.  We’ve decided to go and I am looking forward to the tournament and hopefully some melee fights.  I don’t know if two pell sessions will help much, but I suppose it’s better than going in cold.


A Whole New Year

So here I am a month later, on my birthday no less, thinking I have nothing much to post except about what books I've read so far this year.  Kind of sad, I suppose.  I'm not sure anyone really wants to read about what I've read.  Maybe if I wrote full reviews of each book, that would be more interesting, but I really don't have the time to do that.

I did run a game of Savage Worlds last week.  It's the first time for any of us.  I'm using the Explorer's Edition and The Eye of Kilquato, a free pulp-era adventure.  We only made it about a third of the way through the adventure due to a long riverboat battle.  I don't think I ran that fight very well, but I'll put that down to first-time confusion.  I was more concerned about the rules and not thinking clearly about the pacing of the fight.  I think everyone had fun, though.

As far as reading goes, I have already finished three books in January.  They are:

#1:  Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.  This is a surprisingly good fantasy novel.  It's mostly political, with some action thrown in.  And it has zombies.  They zombies can think, talk, and move like humans, and they are never really presented in a zombie-like way, but the fact remains that those people were dead, so they are zombies.

#2:  I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  I really enjoyed this science-fiction/horror novel.  I saw the movie last year, and I liked it, but as usual the book is better.  And very different.  I need to see what the alternate ending is on the DVD to see if it matches up with the book.

#3:  The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt.  Yes, McDevitt again.  This is the next book in the Alex Benedict series.  Funny how they are called Alex Benedict novels but the main character is Chase Kolpath.  Anyway, it was excellent as usual.  The adventures keep getting bigger and bigger.  Rather than solving an ancient mystery in this one, the secret is more immediate, and Alex and Chase find they are working to save an entire world.

I did some additional painting in January.  I now have 69 painted Imperial Guad figures for Warhammer 40,000.  Now that I'm back to work and classes, it will be difficult to find time to paint again.  And even harder to find time to play.

Number Thirty

Book #30:  Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow.  It's a Warhammer 40,000 novel, so it's not exactly high literature, but I did like it a lot.

I wonder if I can get another book completed in the next few days.  I doubt it, but I will at least start something.


Born to Run (D&D)

I found this cool map-making site called Hexographer.  It is a Java program that allows you to randomly generate awesome old-school-style hex maps for gaming.  They can be big or little and have little or lots of ocean.   Yesterday Lily saw me fiddling around with the site and wanted to make a map herself.  She loves maps, thanks to Dora the Explorer.  I let her make a map, then she wanted to fill it with the map symbols.  She made a massive city that took up at least ten hexes, sort of like a fantasy version of Mega-City One.  Just outside the city there was a massive statue, and in the hex beyond that, a ruin. At first Lily called the city "The Revengeable Village".  Yes, she came up with it entirely on her own.  After I pointed out that it looked more like a city, she changed it to "The Revengeable City".  She went on to tell me how the people had come out of the Revengeable City and built the statue, then moved on to destroy the next city, leaving it a ruin.  This was all on her own; there was no prompting from me. In just 10 minutes, Lily had created a map and had thought up a backstory for what was on it.  She might be a better GM than I am.



Yeah, I'm still here, and the Livejournal is still here, we just haven't seen each other in a quite a while. Here are a few updates.

I'm working on the last projects of the school semester. Finals are next week. This was a really rough semester and I am extremely glad it is almost over. I really don't think I would do three classes in a single semester again.

Lots of substituting, though I've had to turn down a few jobs so I could get homework projects done.

I have read the following books:

Seeker by Jack McDevitt (#24)

The Armour of Contempt by Dan Abnett (#25)

The Book of Three By Lloyd Alexander (#26)

Crispin at the Edge of the World by Avi (#27)

Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells (#28)

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (#29)

That's 29 books for the year so far. My goal was 24. A number of these are books for young readers, but I'm counting them anyway because most of them are very good. In addition, there was the Book Card project for my Children's Literature class. For that project we had to read 90 childrens' books from a variety of genres. Some of these novels for young readers were for that project.

That it all for now.

Chindi by Jack McDevitt

Book #23 for the year is chindi by Jack McDevitt.  It was fantastic.  I've probably said it before, but McDevitt's stories are exactly what I would want out of a science fiction roleplaying game.  Mystery, adventure, discovery, danger.  There is very little combat in his novels, and I do not have a problem with that.  I suppose in an RPG I'd prefer to have a bit more, but maybe not.  There are enough non-combat action sequences in his books that I think I'd be satisfied.

chindi is a Priscilla Hutchins novel, which is to say it is part of the same series as The Engines of God and Deepsix.  These are also known as The Academy series.  Again there are few ties between the novels beyond the main character.  The story puts Hutch in the pilot seat again, this time for a group civilians who are part of something called The Contact Society.  They hope to discover other intelligent life in our universe.  They get their wish, and some of them don't live to regret it. 

I am currently reading Seeker, from McDevitt's Alex Benedict series.  I like it, but the Academy books are far and away the better series.  I hightly recommend them.


Week from Hell

I just finished a week from Hell.  I worked every day except Monday, had two big tests and my usual classes, and felt like I was hardly home except to sleep, and it felt like I had little of that.  I've been very tired for the past few weeks.  I have been making a lot of plans for some fun, non-school stuff, but haven't had time to put them into motion.  Maybe I'll try this weekend, or maybe not.  I know I'm going to spend some time playing with the girls this weekend, and a little time playing DDO if I can.  Otherwise I'm just going to do all the work around the house that I wasn't able to get to over the past week or so.  And homework, of course.


Racking 'em up

Book #22:  A World Out of Time by Larry Niven.  I'm a big fan of Larry Niven, but for some reason I've let this book languish on my shelf for many years.  Last week I got an urge to read it, and I'm glad I did.  It starts out in the near future and ends up in the far, far future, with a healthy dose of post-apocalypse thrown in.  It was published in 1976, but most of the technology is still far beyond what we have now (the syringes used for injections are the only things that really seemed out of place to me). 

The main character, Corbell, is put into cryogenic sleep in the 1970's in the hope that he will one day be revived and there will be a cure for his cancer.  When he awakens 200 years later, his personality and knowledge has been put into a new body, because cryogenesis destroyed the cells of a human body.  He is trained to fly a starship that will seed other planets with life, but he hijacks that ship and flies it to the galactic core instead.  He discovers a massive black hole at the center of the universe, and while the trip takes him several hundred years (mostly spent in a hyper-sleep chamber), over 3,000,000 years have passed on Earth.

When he returns to our solar system he finds it unrecognizable.  The sun is hotter than it once was, and Earth has been moved to orbit Jupiter.  Almost all life on Earth is now located in Antarctica, now a temperate zone due to the heat.  Corbell spends the rest of the story trying to figure out how and why things were changed, and how the planet can be saved.  In doing so he also discovers the secret of immortality.


Reading, reading, reading

Add three more books to the list of what I've read this year:

Book #19:  False Gods by Graham McNeill - The second novel in the Horus Heresy series, revealing more of the history of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  Excellent read, for what it is.  Here is where we really start to see some of the good guys turn bad.  I like a lot of the characters, even though I know they are doomed to either Chaos or death.

Book #20:  Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter - Horus Heresy number three.  The first thing I noticed about this book is the significantly larger font it used compared to the previous two books.  While it has the same number of pages as those books, I'm guessing it is actually only half to two-thirds as long.  It was still enjoyable, though not as outstanding as the first and second entries in the series.  This novel concludes the opening trilogy of the Horus Heresy.  Future books continue the history, often telling the story of other individuals and groups involved in the Heresy.

Book #21:  My Year by Roald Dahl - You might know of Dahl as the writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among other books.  My Year is a simple book in which Dahl talks about his favorite things throughout the year.  Each month gets a chapter, and he discusses things such as the weather, the flowers, the birds, and favorite childhood memories.


Back on Track

Thanks to my Children's Literature class, I am caught up on my reading.  I've read three more books since my last post here, putting me at 18 for the year.  If I can squeeze at least one more in by the end of September, I'll be ahead again.  Okay, two of the books I read in the past three weeks are children's books, but they are both Newbery Award-winning books, so I think that makes up for it.  Here they are:

#16:  Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt-  I really enjoyed this story of a young girl growing up.  It's odd, because nothing earth-shattering occurs in it, but I found it just as compelling as any other book I've read this year.  This novel won the Newbery Medal the year I was born.

#17:  Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright-  This is also the story of a young girl and her adventures over the course of one summer.  It was interesting, but not nearly so much as Up a Road Slowly.  Definitely for younger readers than that book.  It won the Newbery Medal for the year my parents were born.

#18:  Jamie the Red by Gordon R. Dickson with Roland Green-  I picked this up over 20 years ago and never read it until now.  I could have waited longer.  Dickson has won a number of Hugo and Nebula Awards for his writing, but it wasn't for this.  It's a sword and sorcery tale set in late medieval Europe (with a little magic added), but it really doesn't go anywhere.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

That's all for now.