Monday, January 28, 2008

New Austin Commuter Train Testing in My Neighborhood

Last weekend, on 1/12/08, we discovered that Cap Metro was testing their new commuter rail train, Capitol MetroRail, at the track over by Water's Park road, right in my neighborhood. So we were able to get a few shots of it. Here's a map of the location.

They were moving nice and slow, so even my lousy cell phone camera was able to get a few shots. I even spoke to the engineer.

Austin commuter train: parts delivery pics

My neighbor, Dean Woodley, took some great photos of the train parts when they were being delivered and was kind enough to send them to me. CORRECTION: Whoops, these photos were taken by Cap Metro and sent to Dean, not actually taken by him.

Now I know why we need another Warhammer store

I went to Battleforge Games on Friday for the length of my wife's patience with letting me look around. They had a number of games going on, and as I watched a Tau vs. Space Marines conflict set up, I realized that with the demise of Thor's, this is now the closest shop where I could go to play Warhammer...if I ever get off my duff and get out to a shop to play.

And I do want to do that, and anyone who lives in the north Austin area needs a place like this.
I think they might have a bigger selection of Warhammer stuff than Dragon's Lair, too.

Tau Battlesuit figures are everything I ever wanted in an action figure

I've been lackadaisacally building a Tau army for the Warhammer miniatures game for more than a year now. Mostly, of course, I've been not building it. I mean, when I actually sit down and work on it, I get a lot done.

But my 10 year old boy is getting interested, so this weekend when I got out some models to work on, I encouraged him to get his one Orc kit out and work on it. He was able to do a good job assembling his kit, and I got a bunch of figures assembled.

But the most fun, the best thing ever, was the work I did on a couple of Tau battlesuits. I had long decided I was going to try assembling these guys with magnets on all their hardpoints, so that I could mix and match all their weapons. But even though I've had the magnets lying around for months, I hadn't tried to do that, because the tiniest magnets I was able to buy still seemed large when you think about inserting them into the arm of a tiny plastic figure.

This weekend, though, I got out my drill and went for it, drilling holes in the arms and shoulders of the figures, and in all the tiny weapon attachements, and then supergluing magnets in place.

I learned several things:

  • Gel super glue is the best invention ever in the history of models.
  • Plastic model figures are easy to drill...of course...because plastic is soft!
  • Metal figures are still a pain in the tuckus to assemble. My prior experience of figure building was with lead miniatures back in the late 70s when I played D&D. I did a lot of gluing figures to my fingers. I did a little of that this weekend as well.
  • Neodymium magnets are the best invention ever in the history of models. Now I have two battlesuits and an armory of weapons. I have a little angled piece of metal with all the weapons on it, and I could sit for hours swapping weapons on and off. I should be sitting around with my daughter and her dolls for this...
  • I'm not sure it's possible to take a good picture with my phone camera

Man, trying to dig myself out of a writing hole

Faf. I'm not feeling really impressed with myself, writingwise, of late. What's my excuse? I ain't got one. I still like the story I'm working on. I've sorta vowed to only work on this one until I get it done. Maybe that's part of it. The outlining is difficult, so maybe I'm just avoiding it.

Or maybe it's just that I relaxed my write-every-day mantra...which has led to a general slide. But I was already sliding before that, because although I was writing every day, there was no set amount, so some days I hardly did anything.

Well, that's enough whining. I can hardly stand to listen to myself. I wrote today, for a time limit, which seems like a darn good idea. Although I may have to make a rule about turning off the wireless card, to keep me on track.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Thor's Hammer comic shop is closed

The Thor's Hammer comic shop, at Highway 183 and Spicewood Springs in Austin, was closed when I tried to visit it this past Saturday. Looks like it might be closed for good. I stopped by, wanting to add to my new collection of Planetary comics, and it was dark and had several non-payment-of-rent letters pasted on the front door.

I liked stopping into Thor's now and then. It was the only other comics-and-gaming hobby shop I liked other than Dragon's Lair.

Also, I loved the name. It always made me think of the Thor action figure I have, whose tiny hammer has the complete -- and readable -- inscription, "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!"

The Village Hobby Shop at the Village shopping center closed, after many years of operation, and has been replaced by a store that's mainly Warhammer oriented, with a small comics selection. (The Village shop closed a while back, but it's still on my mind since it was such an icon. It had no comics, but a great collection of plastic model kits.)

Maybe we're Even Steven here: we lose one comic-and-games shop, we get another one. But not really. The new store has only a very small selection of non-Warhammer's really mainly a Warhammer shop.

One good thing: this event made me do a Google Maps search for comics shops. Generating a map of all the Austin area businesses with 'comic' in the name is now ridiculously easy, with clickable icons for each location. How did we ever live without it? I remember writing an article for the Daily Texan in college, where I visited and reviewed all the comics shops; I spent an hour or two with the phone book and some maps to prepare for an all-day excursion. I can do that now in seconds.