Friday, December 31, 2021

Look back on 2021


Its been a long while since I posted here, but this is too much to put up on social media.

We won't speak (much) of 2020.  But 2021 is okay.

This is a place that I wrote about hobbies, primarily photography, so hobbies is what will be here.


First, I've spent a lot, and by a lot I mean A LOT, of time listening to music.  It's primarily been streaming, either from files off my home network or Tidal.  In the year that shall not be named I listened to every album that won the "best engineered" Grammy. 

On my desktop I have a pair of powered speakers on my which are fun to listen to.  Its not setup that is going to win awards, I mean, there is a 34in monitor directly in between them, but it does produce a good stereo illusion and experience.  This is always digital-sourced music.  I would guess about 1/8th of my listening time was at my desk.

My primary stereo is setup with both a digital streaming source and a basic turntable.  The turntable side of things is what I want to talk about.  This year I had a couple of firsts. 

First up, I found an original Metallica album, not a "modern" re-issue.  Cover is pretty battered, and the vinyl is "okay", but it sounds pretty decent.  This is one of the things I like about vinyl, finding stuff with age and history baked in.  This is also one of the things I dislike about vinyl, depending on how that "history" makes the record sound.

Second up, I picked up a few in shrink albums.  This isn't something I do too often.  I don't want to gather up too much "stuff".  I have a single record crate, and my intention is to never have more records than that will hold.  Buying up all the new shrink-wrapped records that I find interesting would deplete that space faster than I want to deal with.  I also am not a collector so if I miss out out on something cool, its okay.  This particular album I decided to get after listening to it 4 or 5 times all the way through via streaming.  The records sounds good, and its a great album for the rhythm and process of listening and interacting with a physical album.

Third up, a Record Store Day album I intentionally tried to get.  I did mention above I am not collector, and I'm not.  But, when I saw this album was coming out for RSD 2021 I really wanted to try and get it.  Leonard Cohen is great, and this one is released in white vinyl that looks cool.  I felt a little nervous trying to get it as locally there were 2 copies in the town I was going to try -- across two different shops.  I chose wisely and was able to get it. When I visited the second shop later in the day their copy was gone. This also sounds pretty good on the turntable.

Those two albums almost make me want to pick up more brand new albums, they sound so good vs my average pre-owned albums.  Although, some of those sound beyond perfect as well.

Learned a few new songs on guitar as well, but that is a different experience than listening to a stereo.


In 2021 I read 52 books.  I don't have pictures of the ones I will discuss because I read them on an eReader (see that bit about collecting stuff above, I really really don't like having stuff around, despite failing and still having a lot of stuff around.).

This is the most books I've read in a year since I kept track of such things.

My top surprise : I really liked Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My top recommendation : Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Favorite series (that I finished) : First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie [ I also really liked The Expanse by the James Corey writers -- but I'm only on book 4 ] 


I haven't been doing this as much as I'd like.  I know, I'm the only one that can fix that.  But I did get to do some senior photos for my niece.  [Lead image].


This year I was able to play a few more games in person, but the one I've got the most time in is above.  I've been playing it on VASSAL.  I didn't even have a physical copy of the game, it was out of print, and sadly used copies were selling for way more than I was willing to pay.  However, MMP (the publisher) found a few in their warehouse and I was able to get it brand new for retail price.  It was one of the few times I've ordered something before thinking about it (although, I did a lot pre-thinking as I looked for used copies, so perhaps that counts.).  

Games are one of those things where I do have a lot, and I simply deal with the space they take up.  I like the table-top game experience and I'm willing to make that trade off for it.

So, here is my 2021 hobby post.  Its mostly for me to look back on later, but I opted to make it in a public space.  

Here is to a great 2022

Sunday, January 27, 2019


Archery is the only (sort of) competitive sport I have done as an adult.  Sure, I've picked up some weights, or played softball, or volleyball, or various other recreational type activities on occasion but I haven't pursued anything else in a manner that could be described as "organized" or "competitive".

This post is about some of the things it taught me.

When I first conceived of this idea I thought I would be returning from the Lancaster Archery Classic at Spooky Nook with a bunch of pictures from that tournament.  Due to a series of events I did not attend this year, so we will have to settle for a picture of my target bow.

The first thing I can think of that archery has taught me is a stronger faith.  This is from a number of things both concrete and allegorical.  A concrete example is from experiencing an arm and/or shoulder injury, I still don't know what exactly happened.  It was a rough enough injury to require doctors, and physical therapy, and prescription NSAIDs and more than a year of healing time.  During that year I contemplated selling any and all archery gear I had.  God said he would heal it, though, and he has.  Its not perfect yet, but I can easily shoot all the arrows in a typical league night now.  In allegorical ways, you need a bit of faith in your form and process to shoot consistently.  When shooting a bow you don't choose the exact moment to release the arrow.  You draw and anchor your bow, aim, and pull on the string and push on the bow until "pop" the arrow goes.  Even though your sight is moving over the target face you don't try to control it.  You have to give up that control. You trust that your brain and your form will cause the bow to pop at the right time to put the arrow in middle.  Well, at least I do, maybe other people can will it into the middle on their own.  I can't.

Archery has taught me new mechanical skills.  For any of the bows I personally own I can fully set up and tune them.  I can also change strings, limbs, and cams.  I've learned the importance of "on equipment" documentation.  My bows have silver sharpie lines, and dots on various places to either serve as quick look reference marks, or give me areas to measure from.  I've also learned how to build arrows and other miscellaneous things I never would have had a chance to know otherwise.

It reinforced reasonable financial habits.  Archery gear isn't cheap, but it also doesn't have to be expensive.  I started moving towards target archery from a hunting bow setup.  I didn't build the full target setup at once.  I started buying the gear and using it on my hunting bow.  In this way I avoided rushing into buying a complete setup all at once, and was able to take time, and save the money to ensure that I only bought something once Now I do have a target bow, with all the stuff I accumulated over a period of about 18 months on it.  My hunting bow has all its own stuff back, except for a few bits that I have lent to other people.

It also taught me to lighten up and have fun.  I stuffed an arrow nearly off the bale during the first indoor league shoot I participated in this year.  I went to let down and failed, the bow popped, and the arrow hit the top of the target, no where near the scoring rings.  I think that may have flustered me in year's past, but I shook it off and put the next arrow in the middle.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas and New Years

I find it interesting we seem to slam all our "major" holidays together in quick succession.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years barely are a month apart.

As I ran the gauntlet of this marathon holiday season and observed 2018, it seems it was a pretty rotten year for a lot of people.  I can't say it was a perfect year for me either, but relatively speaking, its not so bad - some challenges to work out for next year.  I do hope 2019 is better for everyone.

I also started thinking about past Christmases, and the presents, and if any of it was worth anything.  I remember a few I got as a kid, an Atari 2600, a Nintendo Entertainment System, a mini bike.  I don't have any of those anymore.  They were lost to time and/or yard sales.  The only one I have still is that Swiss Army knife pictured above.  I think its a Climber model, it has the tools listed in the current one, minus a "hook".  The internet told me those hooks were added to the line up around 1991, so if its true, this makes sense.  I carried that thing around for much of middle school and high school (don't try that today kids, you'll go to jail).  I also have a walk man that still works from that general era, but I can't recall if it was a Christmas gift.  I do remember it was bought with those S&H greenstamp books everyone was into back then.  I'm still not sure if the stuff is worth it, but, at least some of it lasts.

Quick book keeping note.  I will be using Amazon affiliate links for items linked as an experiment.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Two Years of Inktober

This year, 2018, marks the second year I tried to participate in the drawing challenge known as Inktober.  Last year was the first go at it, and I did it simply to have a reason to draw again.  I don't do it often.  Granted, its because I'm not very good, or very fast at doing it.  There is a reason I reached for cameras in the first place.

This year I did it because my son really wanted to try again.

I did "succeed" both years.  Some days the drawings weren't good, even by my standards.  The days I put the effort in I learned something.  I thought I'd put some of the ones I like the best out of the 62 drawings I've made the past two Octobers, and mention what makes me stop on them when I thumb through the sketchbook.

The lead picture is done in a style that I like.  It wasn't one I was anywhere near successful with before.  Its the lead picture here because it sums up what Inktober feels like around, I don't know, say, day 18.

This one I liked because it was the first time I tried adding a "frame" behind the subject.  This one was done the first year, and you can see my masking wasn't perfect.  I also used water color paints for the color.  I was also excited to see the description of the sketchbook was not a lie and it handled all media with ease.

This was one was one from this year.  As you can see, I framed the subject again.  This time the masking was spot on.  The color is acrylic ink.  This one I like the pose, and the closest I've gotten to drawing a barefoot correctly.  Yes, I know, its still off, but perhaps it will be perfect in some future drawing.

I like the light blue color vs the bright yellow color in this one.  The colors were provided by Dick Blick's alcohol based markers.  Think Copics, just a lot cheaper and easy to justify for a non-artist.

This one is in here because of the little white highlights that separate the figures. I think they look neat.  The color, again, is acrylic ink.

This one I like 3D feel the varying thickness on the lines convey.  I think it feels pretty cool.

Finally, this one I like because of the sense of not knowing what is next.  This is a pretty common cliche image I think.  But, its common for a reason.

Overall I learned a attempting this exercise.  Since I'm not an "artist" I felt a sense of freedom to just try different styles, and approaches for nearly everything I did.  Some were pretty awful, and others, like these had something in them that I liked.  If it is something you think you would like to try, I encourage you to give it a go!

I used a bunch of different materials, but you really on need paper and a pen.

My material list:  An assortment of nib pens, Speedball black ink, Acrylic Ink, various sized black technical pens, brush pens, a small Crescent sketchbook suitable for all media, Windsor Newton Series 7 brushes for drawing and color application, the previously mentioned markers, annnnnnd pencils.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Gaslands Cars!

Gaslands Trio

Again, its been a little while since the last post where I post up what I've been up to photographically or otherwise.  I've been doing bunch of every little thing, including making pictures, but I haven't used time to post them or write about them here.  I've been doing some modelling and I've had the chance to play a ton of table top games.  This post combines all 3 of those things.

It is going to have a bunch of pictures into how I turned a pack of cars that looked like this when I got them....

.. into the what is shown above.  None of the cars have any pre-built model bits attached to them. Everything either came with them, was scratch built, or was a "found" part.

The game they are for is Gaslands, and if you have any interest in games at all check it out.  The rulebook can be found on Amazon.  The templates and tokens can be made yourself, and the "models" are simply cheap toy cars.

The first thing I did was drill the rivets out on the bottom of the cars to pull them apart.  Unlike, say, Hotwheels these Maisto cars have no interiors.  I then stripped the paint from the bodies, taking car to leave a few flakes in on purpose.  I thought these might look like rust bubbles when I was done.  It sorta worked, but like most things I tried it felt a little out of scale.

I decided to go with one of the chunky cars first.  First I stuck some weapons made from styrene tube into the headlights, and some armor plate to the outside and inside.  I also modified the hood. I primed it up, and then painted in some dark and light areas using a dark grey on the lines, and some white to brighten up other areas.

After getting the car primed, I painted it red.  I added a few layers of highlighting to the car with an airbrush before painting in a few details with a hand brush.  After that I glossed the model, and used oil paints to add weathering effects and details.

The other cars followed similar steps.  Below are some of their "in progress" shots that show some of their process.

Finally here are the cars fully finished, individually, followed by a another shot of all 3 of them together!

Now, maybe get out there, play a game, build a model, or make a picture!!!!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Married twenty years today.  I'm not sure any words are needed to describe this.  Except for the twenty written here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Favorite Shoot of Last Year


As promised, actual photography.

My favorite single picture last year was this one.  It is my favorite for a number of reasons.  First, its a good picture, it wouldn't be my favorite if it wasn't.  But, that particular project was long term.  The fact that it drew to an end also marks a big change in my life, so that is hanging on that one too.  Its funny, this week intersects with that portion of my life too.


But, that isn't why we are here right now.  We are here to explore my favorite overall shoot.  This one was my favorite overall shoot, again, for a number of reasons.  First, I'm happy with the results.  Second, this was a HS Senior shoot, which I really like.  I've said before, it is nice to have that mixture of a kid, an adult, as well as the the wide open future looming ahead.  It was really easy for me, she has been in front of cameras before.

The only hiccup were the jerks in this car.

Pro tip ... don't stop your car in the street, roll down the window, and act like complete [expletives deleted]. Next outing I'm carrying baseballs, and I am not opposed to throwing them through windshields.