26 September 2011

I Remembered My Camera!

Kirby says hi!
This post might be fairly long, been an interesting week and I actually took pictures! Yay!  For starters, last week, when I spent way too much money on Magic at Target, I also found little Sonic the Hedgehog figures.  They come in a plastic ball so you don't know which character it is, and you put them together.  They're not well made really but I've been playing Sonic games since Sega Genesis.  I got one for $4 and it was Sonic himself. The model aspect of it meant attaching one arm and his head.  His head didn't fit right so I had to carve out the extra plastic with my swiss army knife and his arm likes to fall off.  This led to the following photo ------------------------------>
Sonic is now part plant and can fly, and no longer needs to eat chili dogs as he can photosynthesize. Yay evolution!...kinda.  Anywho, I should probably avoid Target until they stop carrying these, I got a second one which had Shadow in it, the only other one I want is Metal Sonic, but getting a repeat wouldn't be fun.  

My next photo comes from the Bhakail fencing site, a church basement in North Philly.  It intrigues me and I haven't been able to find any on Google, eBay, etc.  And so I present  this Canada Dry vending 
machine, which once held Orange, Ginger Ale, Cherry, and Cola. I wasn't even aware that Canada Dry made such things other than ginger ale.  This thing makes me think of shows like American Pickers and I kinda want to buy it from the church and set it up in my dad's garage.  I think it's cool.  

Moving along now to the next hobby, trains.  If you have an interest in RR restoration and museums, I suggest you check out Hicks Car Works.  Anywho, Pottstown is home to a pretty neat project known as the Greenbrier Express.  Lately you've been able to spy some of the passenger cars outside the workshop so I stopped and took this horrible photo:

To me this is quite exciting and I'd love to be able to go in and see what they're doing. I also hope they keep the site for maintenance and further restoration once the Express is up and running.  

I think from here on out I'm just gonna post photos and caption them, keeps things short but interesting.

The Sanatoga Fire Co. was out front the other day when one of my neighbors reported a gas leak.  Sanatoga means "crooked hill" and the truck says "Crooked Hill Ridge Runners"
While debating what a gas explosion would do to my house, I found a grasshopper.  He was a cheerful bloke, but a little jumpy...

One of my orders of Magic cards came in.  There is much shiny going on here, 2 promo Emrakuls,
 3 promo Sheoldreds and an Awakening Zone.
Shiiiiiiiiiny raaaaaaappppeeeee......

Got a brand new fork lift at work.  I find it ironic that Toyota forklifts are built in the USA.

Spent yesterday visiting college friends and a very special young woman at the Allentown Collegiate Band Festival.

That's been my week so far in a nutshell.  I'd go into more detail here and there but I don't want to bore my precious few readers too much =P I do wish Blogger handled photos and spacing better, in the editor all m photos are centered but here they seem to shift...

Until next time!

19 September 2011

Fiscal Flaming Flukes Flaunting Fun...What?

OMG! A second post inside a week. Don't ask.  Since I last posted I tracked down the Blogger app for my iPod, which I've looked for in the App Store before and never found.  With it, you may see more, mini-posts here and there when I'm too lazy to fire up the laptop.  Today has been a slew of "poor financial decisions" starting with buying Magic cards online.  (By the way, giving me a paycheck is a bad idea)  I found a site that offers some pretty unique cards, including promo cards which I couldn't resist.  I then trekked to the Mart of Wals in search of two things: Contact lens solution, and Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas Duel Decks.

Walmart had a good deal on the contact solution but their pathetic Magic selection was worse than usual, so I trekked to the nearest Target.  They must've had 12 sets of the Duel Deck...I bought four.

Smell that? That's money on fire.
Yep, $80 in Magic, all the same set. Why?  Simple, Duel Decks are limited printings and the namesake cards in each feature different artwork than the original versions. They MSRP for about $20 but after a few months, their value shoots up.  The original Duel Deck, Elves vs. Goblins goes for about $180 on Amazon.  Now not all the Duel Decks go up in value, I bought the Knights vs. Dragons set this past spring and it's still only $25, but I liked the concept and enjoy raping people with overpowered dragons :P  Anywho, I expect the Ajani/Bolas Deck to inflate nicely over time, and if it doesn't I'll just give out my extra three sets as gifts.

I also spent a good part of the day hunting down single cards via Amazon and other, more shady sites.  I'd list them all but I'd like to leave some nasty surprises for my friends, muahaha!

I also have a photo update from my Time Keeps on Slipping post where I talked about pulling my third Kozilek:
The first Kozilek I bought, the 2nd came from a booster and was traded to a friend, the third also came from a booster. Emrakul came from the infamous Shane Pilgrim.
To be honest, I think the Eldrazi are my second favorite Magic creature after Slivers.  They're rather difficult to get onto the field, but woe to your opponents when you do.  Especially the big guys.  I find it a little sad that the novel accompanying the Zendikar/Worldwake/Rise of the Eldrazi block doesn't offer a solution to these behemoths. It's my understanding that the book ends on a cliffhanger.  So how did the Planeswalkers stop them? Why did Nicol Bolas want them released?  And if the Eldrazi are so powerful, will they return?

On that note, I'm going to go upstairs and play my decks against each other.

16 September 2011

Broken Blades, Chicken, and Viruses Galore!

Yeah I know, my post is a wee bit late.  My Google Calender reminds me every Tuesday at 8PM EST to write a blog post. It usually gets done on Thursday, my typical day off.  So here we are on a Friday night and I'm finally updating.  Though I have good news, I actually some photos of my own to upload!  Not just Magic links =P  You see, a few years ago I was really into photography, even took a B&W Photo class in college.  A girl I was involved with was also a photo-fanatic, and after things went sour, I kinda lost my interest in it I guess. It was never a conscious decision.  Stopped carrying my camera as much and taking random photos.  Anywho...

First on my list involves the Bhakail fencing practice.  On my way through Philadelphia, I encountered a pick-up truck with two stickers on its bumper; "Hill Cats" and "Tuchux."
I'm not sure how to explain the Tuchux, except that they're one of the non-SCA groups that attend Pennsic.  I was merely surprised to spot one of them randomly in traffic.  Anywho, once at Bhakail I proceeded to fence and either I did really good, or everyone else underestimated me. I don't know.  The one lady asked me after our fight if I had noticed her doing anything wrong because she felt she hadn't done as well as she should have.  I felt bad because I had no constructive criticism for her.  Since I was running on about 4 hours of sleep, and facing a curved blade (which I'm not terribly familiar with yet) I was solely focused on what I was doing as opposed to what she was doing.  I also helped one of their "newer?" people work on dagger and buckler.  He asked if I had any other dagger training outside the SCA.  This led eventually to a dagger vs dagger fight....

First of all, you have to understand that dagger/knife fights are never pretty. They're one of the more dangerous things you can do in SCA Rapier combat in that they're fast, close-quarter fights.  You also have to realize that we do use real, steel weapons. They're dull and designed to bend, and should they break, they're meant break flat like this:
These two were one moments before.
As you can see, the edge is...mostly flat...mostly.
During one of our passes, his dagger, seen above, landed on my chest as mine landed on his mask.  The tip of his dagger was probably around my sternum as the rest bent down and away near my ribs.  As his dagger pressed on me, it gave out at this curve.  We both heard a snap, I felt the flat edge hit me, and we heard the dagger tip clatter to the ground. This sound also caught everyone else's attention.  So I've had my first blade break on me, I'm just glad it wasn't my blade.

In other news, on Thursday I went to see Contagion with my cousin and some of her friends.  On my way there I passed a bank whose sign said "Free Checking."  I thought it said "Free Chicken" which didn't make much sense to me.  Anywho, being a Bio major I actually found the movie pretty interesting. I actually understood some of the more technical mumbo-jumbo.  The movie does a wonderful job showing how illogical, poorly uneducated people will kill us all when disaster strikes.  My one issue with the movie, as in many such movies, is that while 1 in 4 people are dying, electricity, cell phones, and gas stations continue to operate.  

While watching the movie, I was reminded of the fact that I really like old doors and doorknobs.  Like the ones with the glass knobs and long keys.  I'd like to fill my house with such doors someday....

Anywho, tomorrow morning is TKD and working 2-11.  Until next week, keep metabolizing.

11 September 2011

What I Hope Is Not a Typical September 11th Post

To steal a bit from my friend at Phoenix Fire,

Remember Remember
The 11th of September
Terror hit our hearts
I know of no Patriot member
Who will let the 11th of September
Ever be forgot

Ten years ago today, I sat in Mr. Bailey's 7th grade math class, one of the other teachers came in and told him to turn on the TV.  When he did, there was the Twin Towers in NYC burning.  I think we had just missed the second plane hitting the towers.  Mr. Bailey claimed it would be the start of WWIII, and after 10 years, I'm not sure he wasn't right.  I believe I was sitting in art class when the towers fell, the reporter saying it had been another explosion, but I knew from the way the dust cloud plumed into the sky that the building had collapsed.  The second tower followed minutes later.  

The months that followed we all saw a slew of bumper stickers and t-shirts and memorial services and TV specials about what had happened and how America wasn't going to stand for it.  Somewhere my dad still has the Sept. 12th paper that says ATTACKED on the front.  The term "Never Forget" seems to have become synonymous with 9/11.  However let me remind you of another day we vowed not to forget.... 

"Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."
(shamelessly copied and pasted from http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_speech)

Within 33 minutes of this speech on December 8, 1941, Congress passed an official declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.  Only one representative voted against it, Jeannette Rankin, a strict pacifist (she became immensely unpopular by 1942 and traveled to India follow Gandhi).  Now here we are 70 years later, and when December 7th rolls around not a word is muttered about the date that will live in infamy.  Granted 70 years is a long time, and Japan is now one of our friends, but I don't know if Americans have ever been as united as they were after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  

I don't mean to take away from the signifagance of September 11, 2001, but I'd like to point out that society's memory and attention span is short.  We will collectively forget 9/11 just as 12/7/41 has faded from our hearts.  But regardless of this, we will all be Americans, despite our ideologies, skin tones or upbringing, and when we see a fellow American in need, it's our duty to help our compatriots.  

E Pluribus Unum
From many, One.

08 September 2011

Burning Holes

Been a busy week with very little going on.  Monday night fencing was canceled due to Labor Day, and I didn't go to Wednesday night fencing due to the weather.  For anyone who doesn't know, eastern PA has been inundated the past few days, and the highways into Philly have a tendency to flood because their drains are clogged. I think there was also a mudslide on the Schuylkill Expressway this morning.  I also haven't made it to taekwon do all week.  
The most exciting part of my week was getting a paycheck last Friday...which I've already spent at least half of (it wasn't a big check).  For those of you who know me too well, you can guess what some of that expense was.
Yerp, specifically a Commander Deck, specifically the Heavenly Inferno deck.  Commander is a multiplayer variant of Magic in which you have a 100 card deck, one of which is a legendary creature that acts as a commander.  The spells in your deck must match the mana colors in your commander.  Each deck comes with three possible commanders.  Mine are these:
As you can see, every card in my deck must white, black, red, and/or colorless.  If I had say, a Copper Myr, which generates green mana, it would produce colorless instead.  I've already had a few ideas for modifying this deck (as much as I hate mod-ing a specialty deck like this).  I've got an extra Kozilek, Butcher of Truth laying around, as well as plenty of red white and black creatures. I'll post a few :P


There's more I'm sure, but this all I can think of right now. Sadly I'd have to take apart some other decks to get those Praetors in, or I could buy more I guess...Anywho, with my next paycheck I plan on buying the Nicol Bolas vs Ajani Duel Deck.  Nicol Bolas is one of the most bad-ass Planeswalkers, and you get him, Ajani, and matching decks for just $20! Woot!  Also, the release of Innistrad is upon us, Sept 24-25.And to think I need to save to pay off my student loans hahaha haha ha haaa....yeaaaah.  Speaking of the 25th, I'll be in Allentown that day to meet up with some college friends at a marching band competition.  I might have to take my Game Boy just in case :P  
With that out of the way, I think I'm supposed to go get milk or something and it's rainy out. I don't like driving in the rain.  Until next time, keep on laughing.

01 September 2011

Invading the East

Wednesday was a long day. Got up at 4:30AM, worked 6-3, fenced 7:30-9:30.
“But you don’t fence on Wednesdays,” claims my imaginary internet stalker.
“Oh contraire imaginary internet stalker, I traveled to North Philadelphia for the Barony of Bhakail practice!” I say signing the imaginary internet restraining order.
Long day short, after work I made the trip to Bhakail’s practice and it was pretty awesome.  Not to knock my Hartshorn-Dale friends, but I think I’ll learn more at Bhakail, with at least four dons in regular attendance and the varying styles their students have learned.  Don Ian and Don Griffith were also able to quickly and accurately analyze my…method? of fencing.  For one, my tendency to drop to my knees mid-bout and continue back into a standing position without stopping. Another is that I’m a reactive, aggressive fighter. A combo that doesn’t often go together.   
Girffith pointed out, as I’ve been told in less detail before, that I’m not good with the first reaction, I jerk too much, but once I start moving I don’t typically stop until someone is “dead” or out of range.  Even something so small as a feint at my hand can trigger this.  Whether this is good or bad for me, I’m not entirely certain. Once I’m into a fight, I can flow very well until a blow is landed, it’s just the initial movement that throws me off.  Griffith said this “flow” makes sense when I told him of my Taekwon do experience, which I find odd ‘cause I’m not that good at sparing.  I was also more or less complimented on my ability to fight in a non-linear fashion.
Anywho, I had mentioned my Aethlemaerc roots, and they said I was definitely an Aethlemaercian because I was in my full get-up just for practice.  I’ll blame Don Christian for this need to dress up whether it’s practice or Queen’s Rapier Championship. 
Either way, as long as I can afford the gas, and the car can afford the miles, I hope to make this a regular event.
Other things I found interesting was the East’s attitude towards O.G.R.’s (Order of the Golden Rapier, which is equivalent to White Scarf).  Girffith told me how he was also surprised at the other kingdom’s respect for dons, to the point where he was having a conversation with someone, another friend mentioned that Girffith was a don, and their entire demeanor towards him changed.  Being from Aethlemaerc, this simply makes sense to me.  Dons, or White Scarves as they’re known in most of the world, are the pinnacle of rapier combat, and usually just awesome people as well. I don’t just respect them because of their skill, but because of what I can potentially learn from them. I try to take to heart lessons from White Scarves I don’t even like that much.  Griffith also told me about how there is still a lot of bitterness in the East about the breaking of the White Scarf treaty, which happened only a few months after the treaty came into effect. 
I’m thinking if I’m here long enough, I may have to turn the East Kingdom on its head.  That’s a looooooooong way down the road. I’m also debating attending the Royals’ Rapier Championship, without removing the Escarbuncle from the drape on my mask…hmmmm