Well, just got back from vacation. That was a great time. Spent the week with Sheri, Hannah, Micah, Mom and Dad. Also my brother Joe, and saw sister Jamie, too. Went to a family reunion where I saw relatives I haven't seen in years. Got to hang out a little with friends Justin & his family and Kevin & his family. Played golf, kubb, flimsee, Sushi Go, wii golf, and other things. Went to the Zoo and the Indy Children's Museum. Enjoyed some quiet evenings around a fire pit in my parents' peaceful backyard.
Again, great time.
Current things I'm working on or looking to do:
- Successfuly wrap up our New Auburn Chronicle game and start a new Numenera campaign
- Finish a Mechwarrior rules set I've been working on, create a killer character sheet, and finish painting minis for a Battletech campaign
- Play some golf with Tim, as I've inherited (at least temporarily) a set of nice clubs from my dad
Oh, and then there are all the things I "need" to do...
Last week, we got to go on vacation with my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and my brother. Only the older of my two sisters couldn't make it (which was sad) - the rest of us were all there. It was awesome - and the first time we'd had a family vacation in....maybe 17 years?
We all met at a condo in Sevierville, TN, to hang out and do things together. Highlights included:
- a new lawn game (Flimsee), which is thoroughly bizarre, but great fun. I've now made my own set, and I think it'll be good for the meetup next year.
- pontooning/skiing/tubing. I actually got up on skis with no problems this time!
- disc-golf (fun fact: there are very, very few courses in the area. We had to drive ~30 min to find an out-of-the-way 9-hole course, but it was a great time)
- Ripley's Aquarium and the Titanic Museum. The most touristy things we did, but they were both pretty cool.
- swimming and pool/ping-pong at the activity center. Swimming was Hannah's favorite part of the week. Also, I'm solid 'ok' at ping-pong and pool. Also, also, I have learned that cue with a loose/broken tip will do crazy things to where you think your shots should go.
- board/card games: we played Catan, Time's Up and Dominion. Good times.
- an epic hike up to the top of Mt LeConte which, all-told, was about ~14 miles and 3400ft of elevation. The top was spectacular, though, as you should be able to see from the photo above. Was probably the best place to rest & have lunch in the park that day.
Most of all, it was great just to spend time with everyone. We don't get to see everyone enough, what with us all living in different states and all. It was a truly amazing week - we all had a fantastic time. Many, many thanks to my parents for putting it together.
Sheri & I just got back from a vacation to Myrtle Beach we took for our 10th anniversary. This was our first trip away from Hannah, which was nice (even if we did miss the little bug). She had a great time with Oma and Opa. It was a great time - we got to hang out on the beach, swim in pools, visit local parks and even hang out with some friends who live out there (thanks again to De & Gryf/Ryan!). We also got to hang out a bit with my sister Jese and brother-in-law Michael in Columbia on our way back. Basically, Michael and I talked game stuff. They need to come visit sometime so we can play lots of games.
Also, my dad is awesome and did a laundry list of jobs around my house while I was gone, including replacing the Jeep's radiator, replacing the cover over the stairwell, putting a storm door on the front of the house, mowing the yard a few times, cleaning the garage, taking the recycling and fixing a few minor things. He told us he was "having fun".
The Long And The Short Of It
I had debated whether to take all of my camera gear, or just my primary lens - after all, the point of the trip wasn't photography. Ended up taking the whole bag though, and was glad I had my telephoto when we went to Brookgreen Gardens. Got a few really nice shots of birds and insects there.
I think I've gotten better at using my 300mm telephoto. Even with IS, you have to know how to hold it still or shots will come out blurry. It is a nice piece of glass once mastered, though.
I haven't decided exactly what I want to do for a wide angle yet, but since neither of the ones I looked at before were exactly what I'm wanting, I think I'm currently leaning toward the cheaper Sigma lens. It performed well, and will give me the ultra-wide I was looking for - if I plan to stay with a crop-frame camera. Canon is supposed to annouce the 7D II in september, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it will be.
A Little Cache
I even got to do just a tiny bit of geocaching while we were on vacation, picking up a couple in Myrtle Beach State Park. One of the two actually had two parts - one of which was hiding in plain site behind the counter at the beach gift shop. The park personnel also seemed supportive of the hobby too, which was pretty cool. I recently hit find #100, and Tony and I are making plans to hide one or two of our own.
Just Out Of Reach
Last gaming session of the Cyrran Reaches was a little slow. I've once again run into an age-old problem with the way I set up games: sometimes the players just don't know what to do. In this case, they have encountered a lot of interesting "leads", they just aren't sure how to follow up on them. The end result is that, though they've "done" and "seen" some stuff, they really haven't "accomplished" anything in several sessions. I guess I need to be more conscious of that. We've decided to move the game along to a place they've been planning to go for some time. Hopefully I can make that a little punchier while still maintaining my sandbox approach. Next game is this saturday - I suppose we'll see.
It's been a little while since we've had an actual "vacation". I mean, where we do "vacation"-y things. This year, we did.
For one, we got to go to the Indy Zoo. Sheri has been saying she wanted to go to a zoo for about...7 years? I took a lot of cool photos, which was a lot of fun. Also, it made me wish I had more money to spend on camera gear.
We also went out on my parents' boat and did a little water skiing. I no longer shame my ancestors with my loss of water skiing ability. I'm not as steady as I once was, sure, but at least I got up this time. Last time I tried, I couldn't even manage that (to be fair, however, i'd gotten in at 3am the morning before...maybe I was just tired). It was cool to get to go out on the lake with Justin again, too - and his boys were...amusing.
Sheri and I also got to go out for our Anniversary, which was tuesday. Kinda hard to believe it's been 8 years. :) Mom & Dad watched Hannah for us, and we went out to dinner and a movie. Also, "Brave" is pretty good.
As I mentioned before, I took a few hundred photos at the Indy Zoo. I did have a little hiccup with the ISO setting, but its effect turned out to be minimal. Taking pictures through some of the glass was somewhat challenging, but not too bad. The fences were worse. I did get a basic circular polarizing filter for my 50mm prime, which did seem to help a little with some of the reflections, and it does give a nice contrast boost to portrait-type shots in general. Like small children, animals are fun to photograph - they do interesting things, and they don't really care if you're taking their picture. I got quite a few good shots, which I've put up on facebook. I'm sure a couple will make it into this year's "portfolio".
I mentioned before about starting a World of Darkness game, Scarecrow. Well... ...yeah. I actually have extremely high hopes for that game, but I'm just not sure now is the right time. I'm having trouble with inspiration for it, and, as a GM, I just don't seem to be in the mood for something quite so dark. I tried forcing it through for a while, but I wasn't getting over the 'hump' - and if I'm not excited about it, it's going to be pretty mediocre. I'm not ok with that. I have higher expectations for this game. My players are generally great about giving me energy and inspiration, but they don't tend to get really excited about a game until one or two sessions in.
I'm not sure I've ever done this before, but I have talked to the others and we've decided to postpone this game for a bit. But seriously, I am going to run that game at some point, and it will be awesome. I've actually got quite a bit of setting written for it already, and several plot ideas.
But for now, we're going to do something else...
Buckle Your Swash
Since I'm wanting to run something a little more "light" and "adventurous" than WoD, and I've wanted to do a maritime campaign for a long time, I think this is the direction I'm going to push for next. Also, I've been wanting to do something with the Savage Worlds rules set, and this seems to be a perfect candidate for it.
I'm planning to pitch a swashbuckling-style sea adventure to the group. It'll be set in a world similar to 17th-19th century earth (with a few fantastic elements) and the PCs will be part of an expedition sailing out into unknown waters. I expect it to be a lot of fun.
So we just got back from a little mini-vacation out to Edisto Beach, SC with my sister & parents. We don't get to do "vacation" stuff very often. I'd comment on whether Hannah had a good time, but I think she slept through 90% of it. We certainly loved it though.
In fact, I'm kind of bummed now that I'm back to the norm. I don't think I was quite ready. Maybe I needed more than a 3-day weekend.
Apart from the typical fun of a vacation, I've got a point of potential interest. My dad & I got to talking about HDR photography (mostly asking what it was) and I, of course, had my camera and had been taking a lot of pictures. When I pulled them all onto my computer last night, I noted one or two that I thought could benefit from this technique. Manipulating the RAW images into some pseudo-bracked exposures, I made a couple of composites which I think turned out pretty well. I didn't do anything particularly special, but the process at least makes the photos a bit more like what I was actually looking at.
• Beach Path (shown here)
|Saturday September 26, 2009 at 10:22am||birthdays, trips, vacation, family, weddings, friends||Comments (0) »|
Picking up from where I left off last time, Patrick's birthday party was a lot of fun. A group of us met up at a Japanese/Sushi place for dinner and then headed back to his place for cake and general hanging out. I had a good time playing with my new camera lens as it let me take a lot of pictures of those in attendance without the need (or distraction of) a flash.
And that, I guess, brings me to Ben's wedding and our trip to AR - which was our most recent 'vacation'. We have found that the past few years, we really haven't had much of a vacation to ourselves - our vacation time is invariably spent visiting family since they all live so far away that we have to plan it out and take about a week to make it worth the trip. Not that we don't enjoy visiting our families - because we really do - but we'd kind of like to work in our own vacation at some point.
So anyway, we headed out to AR on friday the 18th. Ben & Brie's wedding was on saturday the 19th which, it should be noted, is also 'Talk Like A Pirate' day (note that I *did* talk like a pirate a bit, but found it's not nearly as much fun around people that don't get it) Ben had asked me to take some pictures at his wedding, which I was happy to do since it meant I had an excuse to play with my camera. The wedding was at 6pm and outdoors. The lighting was pretty decent beforehand, through the ceremony and most of the way through the reception, but around the time of the cutting of the cake, I was losing too much light - even for a 1.4 aperture. Still, I think I got a lot of good stuff for him. The 'official' photographer used a flash for all of her pictures, so I believe our photos will have very different looks to them, which, together with the fact that I took more informal shots, might make mine seem less redundant.
The rest of our visit in AR was mostly hanging out with Sheri's parents and playing cards. We did go out to a park on monday to go heron watching, which was cool. We also went up to the visitor's center by the dam where I took some pictures of the flower garden they have as well as some in their little museum (again enjoying the ability to take pictures of things inside without a flash).
Wednesday was our drive home, which took forever and I was completely exhausted and getting a little bit of a sinus infection (which still hasn't completely gone away) by the time we arrived home. Sheri has been reading some Anne McCaffrey books to me on our various trips this year - this time some in the 'talent' series. I think we made it through a book and a half on this trip.
Thursday was officially 'recovery' day. I did very little except fight a sinus infection and veg.
Yesterday was the only day off I had that I personally count as 100% vacation (as opposed to merely not having to work). Robb took us out to Asheville to hang out in the downtown area. We'd heard good things about downtown Asheville from various locals (most recently, Dr. Beck whom we randomly ran into in a Burger King as we headed that way), but we'd never been to it (intentionally). It's a nice little area with some amusing shops. There's a lot more life there than in downtown JC, that's for sure. We had a good time hanging out, looking around, perusing the shops, etc. We had a tasty dinner at a little Irish(ish) pub called Jack in the Wood which had a nice atmosphere and friendly people. They even had a mural in the restroom which depicted a scroll with a poem about the forest.
Anyway, after dinner we headed over to the Civic Center for our original purpose for being in Asheville - which was to see the Decemberists concert. I'm gonna make that it's own post.
So now it's Saturday and my 'vacation' is winding down. Again, I really need to mow, but it's extremely wet and rainy outside and that doesn't work out so well with the push mower. I can't tell you how heart broken I am not to be mowing right now... ...though when I'm finally able to do it I'll wish I'd been able to do it sooner...
Well, here I am in Arkansas. I've set sheri's folks up with the wireless router we brought for them - so they get a router and i get a net connection for the week. Win/win. I did spend a good part of wednesday attempting to fix their computer. I've run all the spyware-removal tools you can shake a stick at and installed avg-free on their system, but it's still quite sluggish. It probably needs a reinstall, but we're not in a position to do that atm.
The trip out here was long, but not too bad (as i haven't had a long drive since christmas) and actually about an hour and change shorter than the last time we made the trip.
Sarah's wedding on saturday went well, and her mom managed not to strangle her in the days leading up to it. That was good.
Sheri's parents are pretty much addicted to wii bowling - which is amusing to witness. I hit pro status on it a few days ago, but i'm probably going to lose that over the next few games. I did manage to get 4 strikes in a row last night though.
I haven't had quite as much downtime as i figured i might. Today is really the first time since last wednesday i've had to work on any personal stuff. I haven't made great progress on the aforementioned game development, but i've got a decent outline. It's a start anyway.
We'll be here for a couple more days - heading back to TN on wednesday.
Ah. It's been a while. Good to be back.
So last week we went out to visit Sheri's family. Everything went went pretty well - including the long 12+ hour drive there and back, each of which we did in only one day instead of the normal two. We had a good time. Played lots of board games and cards.
Last night a bunch of us hung out for new years. We had intended to play some games (i think), but mostly we just sat around talking. I personally thought that was nice. Some of those who were present I don't get a chance just to talk to very often.
Lastly, I'd like to extend my apologies, well-wishes and thanks to a few people who called me on or around christmas time but I never got back with them because I didn't discover they called until much later. Kevin, Llama & Eric - I greatly appreciated your messages. The same to you. :-)
Tomorrow morning at [too early]o'clock, Sheri & I are heading out to AR to visit her family for the holidays. We'll be back sometime lateish on the 30th.
Happy Holidays to all and safe travels to those of you journeying forth this season.