Monday, September 19, 2011
The post I just put up was my New Year's Resolutions post.
Let's see how I've done so far, shall we?
1. 1500 points of Dark Eldar assembled
Yep, I've got this one down. I've really got something like 2,000 points assembled, so I definitely got that done.
Can't really say much more about this. I'm coming back around to the place where I want to work on 40k stuff, but I don't have anything else to do to accomplish this, so... yeah.
2. Get Tyranids painted
Well, I've given up on this for now. Given that I'm so discouraged with my Nids right now and that I have no desire to paint my gants, this will be put on hold.
Partially due to Malifaux, I've found the joy in painting again, so I don't want to break myself by trying to force something that's just not coming. I'm glad I'm so forgiving, or I would never have let myself off for this one ;)
3. 10 blog posts a month
Err... Yeah. Sorry, guys. Just hasn't happened. I just have to keep pushing on this.
4. 20 pounds of weight loss
Here I totally outdid myself. I've lost like 45 pounds and 6 inches off my waist. I went from being an unsightly 200 pounds and a 38 inch waist to 155 pounds and a 32 inch waist. Go me.
If you're wondering how I did it, I just have to say that it took lots of exercise and a high protein/low carb diet with only about 1200-1500 calories a day to make that possible for me. I started mixing in tae kwon do and krav maga in with a little bit of running, and it's done wonders. If anyone wants to hear more about this, I can totally pound out some thoughts on it.
5. Get a job I like
Well, I'm unemployed, does that count? ;)
On a serious note, I am making progress: I graduated law school and I've passed the North Carolina Bar. I'll be getting sworn in soon, and I'm working on my South Carolina Bar application. So, right now, I'm more in the market for a part-time gig that will let me get some studying done so I can pass the SC Bar in February.
I'll mark that down as solid progress.
6. Finish a novel
I have 5-6 chapters left on the one I was working on, and I keep making excuses for why I haven't gotten it done. The Bar and moving were legit, but now I need to get my ass in gear and finish it up (as well as starting the re-posting process). It's still possible, but I have to motivate myself.
So, not bad. I've gotten some things done and given up on others. I've also made some unplanned life changes, so I think that I may be better off than I even imagined: I ditched an unhealthy relationship, started getting myself more to where I'd like as far as my appearance and bought a dog. I also picked up a new game and have done some deep thinking about the hobby.
Anybody else have any success stories or major failures they'd like to talk about? Big changes of plans are also totally on the table. I have something interesting coming up that I've been thinking on, so stay tuned ;)
Well... Sorry I've been kinda out of action here lately... Between family time (in Ohio or at Hilton Head), gf time (she leaves for 6 months in 9 days) and me time (got me a Kindle and been reading like a madman, lol), I haven't put in as much blog time as I'd like. So, yeah, Happy New Years. It's a bit late, but I suppose that's better than never, right?
Anyways, the time spent away from the blog will hopefully make for benefits to the blog. As anyone who has met me might know, the little cogs in my brain turn all the time. The more time they get to turn, the better articles I typically pop out for your perusal. Today, I have some ideas about New Year's Resolutions.
When I was young, I thought they were a dumb idea. Why the hell would you make some kind of pledge for the New Year? Especially given the fact that nobody ever actually accomplished their goals. When I got a bit older, I tried to make them work for me. I'd set myself some goals in my Resolutions and try real hard to accomplish them for about... maybe a month. Now that I'm a little less naive than either of those times, I think I have a way to make New Year's Resolutions work for you.
The trick is to use this tradition not as a way to set yourself up for failure but as a way to set yourself up for success. The way we all typically do Resolutions sets us up with lots of grandiose, life-changing thoughts that we can in no way accomplish. Human beings are resistant to change, so if you want to improve, you gotta take it slow and constantly reinforce your will. If all of this seems as clear as mud, well... I can only hope a numbered list will help make it better.
Now, I'm tying quite a few of these to 40k, but I have some other things I'm not gonna share on this blog. Well, not just yet, at least ;)
Step 1: Make some goals that you're already going to actually do.
Blam. Here's my big secret with these things. If you have some very clear goals that you are already set out to accomplish, why not add them to your list of Resolutions? Sure, you're not making up something new to herald in the new year, but you are giving yourself some Resolutions that you already think you can handle. Everyone I know always sets goals that are too high for their Resolutions. Why not set a few too low? If you accomplish them, you can keep that positive outlook going and hit the harder ones.
For me, I've decided that 2 of my New Year's Resolutions are: 1) Paint my Tyranid army and 2) Assemble 1500 points of Dark Eldar. I know I can paint an army, I did 2 whole armies last year, and I definitely didn't even push myself that hard. 1500 points of assembled Dark Eldar won't be a problem either. But, if I manage to actually do these things, I'm setting myself up to tackle the harder stuff. I'm reinforcing myself with positive energy from finishing tasks that I've set for myself.
Step 2: Set some more difficult, yet attainable goals.
Think of it like step ladder training. I start with the easy stuff and then move on up after I've built up my endurance. Each further step takes it farther from where you start. It's only way I've found that can help you get anything done. So, here, you're thinking of goals that you know you can do but you also know are a real challenge.
My attainable yet challenging goals are: 1) Do a minimum of 10 real blog posts a month and 2) lose 20 pounds. I know that I can do these things, but I also know that they're gonna require some real self-discipline and hard work. If I can get the other things done, I'm gonna carry the positivity that comes from those tasks over to these. That positive feeling will help keep me motivated to push myself on these ones.
Step 3: Set the aspirational goals.
In keeping with the theme here, this is a step up further in difficulty. However, I like to frame these goals as aspirational so I know that there is a chance I might not do them. Most of the time, that thought combined with the good feelings from completing the previous steps can keep me pushing forward until I get as far as I go. Because the goals are aspirational, I'm not worried if I can't get them done immediately. I know that getting started and pushing forward is what's important.
My aspirational goals are: 1) get a job that I like and 2) finish a novel. The job goal requires my graduation and bar passage, which makes it harder than it seems. I've been working on several novels for a while now, but I've been trying to focus on one so I can get it done and start trying to shop it around. I've been thinking of starting a separate blog devoted to publishing an unfinished (as in unpolished and full of typos and errors) chapter per week or so. Regardless, those are my goals.
Well, I know this is a bit short, but I hope that I can inspire one person to make useful New Year's Resolutions. I'd love to hear any that you might have made or make because of this.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Now, you might ask yourself "What the hell do you mean by that?" Well, I've had to figure that out before I could write this. And it hasn't been the easiest question to ask, or to answer.
For me, I've always kind of held myself out as a 40k-centric player. GW pretty much defined the scope of my miniature wargaming hobby. And within GW games, the playing was more important for me than many of the other aspects of the hobby. Now, this isn't an anti-GW rant in any way, but my dissatisfaction with GW has driven me to examine other games and remember what it is that really drew me into wargaming in the first place.
So, let me tell you a story that I've told plenty of people. I very first heard of miniature wargaming when I was around 11 or 12. One of my buddies introduced me to the idea of Warhammer 40k by telling me about this game that could be played on any surface (not just on a board!) and featured these things called Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines and Eldar. Now, before I knew anything about the game, these words brought images to mind that sparked my imagination. After fiddling around with things for a bit, I quite due the hobby due to various reasons (high school, rock'n'roll music and girls, mainly).
From that point, it was a long time until I picked up anything that had the words Warhammer 40k on it. Until the original Dawn of War video game come out, actually. Me and my good buddy Rick really got into that game, and we had an absolute blast playing it. After a while, I remember thinking, "Hey. I can remember this being a game with little figures on the table. I wonder if that's still around." Rick and I looked, and what do you know? The game still existed ;) Then, we thought, "Maybe it'd be fun to buy a few guys to put together and have around to represent our favorite ones in Dawn of War." From buying figures, it was a short jump to painting and then back into playing.
Despite dabbling in Fantasy and in some other games (Confrontation, Warmachine, etc), I mainly continued to be a 40k man until I started playing Malifaux and jumped right in. For me, it rekindled some of the love that I felt towards gaming at the very start of playing 40k.
After playing in the NOVA this year, I really felt myself pulling away from 40k as a game. Part of this came from the fact that I just haven't been in love with 40k for a while now, as many of you probably know. After long reflection, I know that part of this comes from the fact that I haven't been engaging in some of the parts of the hobby that I like best: the process of building an army.
Assembling an army, getting the units to function how I want and figuring out how to play the entire force to win is part of the fun. Unfortunately, the general Space Marine dominance of late has pushed me away, as I'm not the most enthusiastic about building and painting more power armor ;)
I know that I've been really pushing lately to find some other games that I enjoy so that I can be building and painting new things and trying out new forces. Malifaux has been an absolute winner in this category, and I've fallen in love with everything about the game. Dystopian Wars is also something I've been having fun with. I've been contemplating Hell Dorado and Infinity as well as some other games with really great looking miniatures. As my buddy Rick and I have discussed, a new army for any of the GW games becomes less enticing when you can buy the entire range of a skirmish game or several forces for several games at the same cost.
Still, however, there is just something in me that wants to fall back in love with GW stuff. The continued support of the Dark Eldar model range, in particular, calls to me. I have an entire Dark Eldar army that just needs a few more models and some fine tuning before I could be having fun with it.
And it's that thought right there that makes me realize what I'm in this hobby to do: I just want to have fun.
And for me, it seems that I have fun building and painting new things, tinkering with forces and going out and playing some. I can't just have fun doing one aspect of the hobby. That's what trapped me in 40k. I wanted to just play the game without building anything new or buying any new pieces. For me, that drains the life out of a game.
So, for me, I've come to the conclusion that I will be picking up my Dark Eldar army again and trying to play with it a little at a time. That means, also, buying some new pieces every now and then. However, I also want to continue my expansion into other games and see where that takes me.
I am, as a hobbyist, someone who likes to engage in the different aspects of the hobby. I am also a hobbyist who can no longer confine himself to one system. It's been an interesting road coming to this conclusion. I hope it was maybe a little interesting to read this. Within the next few days, I should have a little step-by-step of me painting a single miniature so I can humorously comment on my process.
Oh, also, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is awesome. Just a little fyi ;)
Friday, September 9, 2011
Well, I've not been good about getting anything posted, so I'm gonna get another old post back up for everyone's enjoyment and enlightenment. There's some weird stuff going on here, and re-reading it really made me have a WTF moment. All the song quotes and other general oddness associated with it make me feel almost ashamed of this. Maybe it was a bit of a misstep. I don't know.
I do know that this post is fairly appropriate since I've been trying to concentrate and crank out some new material, and I just can't. Life goes in a circle, apparently ;)
I have been unable to concentrate lately. What this has resulted in is a marked increase in the number of unfinished articles languishing in limbo (where they hang out with unbaptized dead people or whatever) when I lose my train of thought and can't quite get them to any kind of orderly resolution.
I know that there are a lot of people who have concentration issues, so I thought that tossing out a nice little article about ways to regain your concentration might be useful.
First of all, there are really two kinds of concentration losses that I'm aware of. One kind, I'd like to categorize as "Short Term" and the other kind I like to think of as "Systemic."
Short term concentration loss is characterized by being unable to concentrate on one specific thing (or a few specific things) or by being unable to concentrate for a rather short period of time. It's more contextual, meaning it may have to do with the exact thing you're trying to do. This kind of concentration loss is a little easier to get around, because it seems focused on one area or task. If manage to get through what you're trying to do, you may defeat it for sure (or just banish it until it's time to do that specific thing again).
Systemic concentration loss is more like a general antsiness or dissatisfaction that just keeps you from doing anything at all. It's a lot harder to get through.
Regardless of which kind you happen to be suffering from, I have several solutions that can help to push back the tide and let you get back to work/play/whatever and get some stuff done.
1- Meditate (Song Quote: "You're in a trance, you're in a trance")
Take a minute and clear your mind. Sit down and center your chi/spirit/whatever. Basically, try to push everything out of your mind so it becomes a blank slate. After you've managed to get rid of all distractions, you should be able to start doing whatever you like without any distractions. Doing some breathing exercises might help you do this.
Pros: This is quick, only takes a few minutes. Relatively simple to do. Cheap, since it doesn't require anything other than you.
Cons: Doesn't work well for a lot of people. Has the tendency to make some people more distracted because they can't clear their minds. EVen if it does work, you may have to repeat the process several times as distracting thoughts seep back in.
2- Nap (Song Quote: "Taser, taser, kindergarten nap, nap time")
Just like it says, folks. Close your eyes and sleep for like 15-30 minutes. A lot of times, the process of sleeping and waking will work like rebooting a computer. All the extraneous crap floating around in your brain will be shut down and you'll be able to start being productive before it all starts up again. Added bonus of an extra little bit of rest.
Pros: Again, relatively quick, easy and cheap.
Cons: You can't do this everywhere. Plus, some people may not be able to sleep so easily or quickly. Other people may become groggy afterwards. Still others may not be able to sleep at all. For me, this doesn't work well. I have insomnia, so if I get to sleep (ha ha, yeah right, insomniac) I want to stay there. However, I know a lot of people who like this.
3- The Chemical Solution (Song Quote: "Am I wrong to feel such bliss that ain't real?")
Caffeine, chocolate, nicotine (smoking is bad... try e-cigarettes, as a former smoker, I like them), whatever (within reason, folks... although I do favor blanket drug legalization, for the record). Sometimes, all you need is a little pick me up. Add a little chemical flavoring into the mix and watch all of your distractions fall to the sidelines and your mind becomes a fine-tuned razor.
Pros: Can be extremely effective. Quick (the absorption of most of this substances takes very little time) and sustainable (as long as you have access to more).
Cons: Can cause side-effects, such as jitters. Also, there is the damn near inevitable crash. Also, this can be costlt or habit forming.
4- Exercise (Song Quote: "Get up, get out, get loose")
I could have grouped this in the Chemical thing (endorphins, ftw), but I think it's a totally different process. Getting yourself all pumped up and letting off the excess energy can really focus your mind. It really can help you hammer out some other issues in your mind while you are doing your physical activity so that you've gotten some of those resolved before you start working again. We have the added benefit of contributing to your general fitness and welfare here.
Pros: Another extreme effectivness here. Provides additional health benefits.
Cons: This is time intensive and not always able to be done in all situations. It can also really tire you out so you get nothing done even after you clear your mind.
5- ...err, how do I put this delicately? (Song Quote: "...from your morning spank")
We're all adults here, so I can say it. Sometimes, you just need to rub one out (masturbate, for the euphemism impaired). This works by releasing chemicals and getting you focused on one thing for a few minutes. After you're done, hopefully you can refocus onto whatever you need to do.
Pros: How do I phrase this so it doesn't become one glorified masturbation joke? Screw it. It's quick and easy. There you go, laugh, you sickos.
Cons: There are definitely some times/places you cannot do this. Also, it could be messy, depending.
Alright, these are just a few techniques that you can use when you can't focus. If there's something you do that I don't have, put it in the comments.
Like I said before, generally odd and slightly different than some of my other material. I make no apologies for that. Again, I find it interesting to go back and re-examine my old work. Gives me a new perspective on some of it.