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Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal Below are 25 entries, after skipping 25 most recent ones in the "Phil Parker" journal:

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November 15th, 2015
10:08 pm

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Windycon
Safely home from Windycon. There was a lot of music. Wall to wall concerts from Friday at 8 until Sunday at 2, the only gap being Saturday evening. They need the stage for the masquerade. Enough of the concerts were ones I wanted to hear that I didn't get to any other programming (even though there was a fair bit of programming I would have attended if I'd been idle, and a few things I really didn't want to miss). I did manage a turn through the art show. It was cool to see the Eisenstein collection, and there were some good pieces, but certainly not the amount of stuff that we used to see in the Windycon art show a few years ago. (One of the panels I didn't make it to discussed this trend and the future of art shows.) I made it to open filk Friday, with very few other people, and ran out of steam early. Went to dinner at a place called Dao Sushi and Thai, where I had a decent red curry. My table mates let me have a bite of one of their super fancy maki rolls; I can't recall what was in it but it was amazing. Expensive, though. We got back to the hotel a bit before 9 and the music was getting started, so I skipped the parties completely. The filk was good until I packed it in around 1:30 because I had to get up at 10 to get stuff out of the room before the concerts began at 11. This is about where the bad part of the con started for me, because I just couldn't get to sleep. It was around 5 when I broke out the occasional-use extra sleeping medication (I was tired enough that I didn't remember it before then, but didn't sleep). My poor sleep had me enjoying Sunday less than I would have, but there was some good music. I got a couple of songs in in the dead dog circle, but I realized that if I stayed very long, I would probably not be able to make it home.

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November 7th, 2015
12:31 am

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FNM: Hardened scales
A couple of tweaks to the deck, and I did well until the last round when my deck pooped out, so I had a second place finish.

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November 6th, 2015
05:00 pm

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More shoe shelves
I have a shelf in my bedroom that I've had for longer than I've had the house. It's a particle board wonder, but it holds up my alarm clock and also is the place where I put my shoes. But I have more shoes than fit on it, which means that extra shoes are part of the perpetual clutter in the bedroom.

It occurred to me that I have boards and a circular saw, which is enough to make me dangerous. I set out to cut a couple more shelves. I'm still rather incompetent at these little woodworking projects, so it took longer and involved considerably more swearing than it should have, but I now have two extra shelves. I'm also out of time, thanks to the swearing -- it's time to head to FNM -- so there's a little more cleanup to do. But I now have an away in which to put 6 more pairs of shoes, and if I have more than that, it's time to throw some of the more fallen apart ones away.

Hopefully I'm learning a little from all the mistakes I'm making. I'm definitely convinced that I need to replace my drill/driver -- I'm reasonably sure I put it away fully charged the last time I used it, and it went dead halfway through this small job.

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October 31st, 2015
03:38 pm

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FNM: Hardened Scales again
After a week off for OVFF, I was back at FNM with the same Hardened Scales deck as I had last time.

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We also had 10 people for after draft. I didn't lost a game and still came in second on tiebreaks, but a fourth round would have been a bad idea. Had a decent red and green ramp-into-bombs deck and didn't stumble on mana. And I opened a Scourge of the Throne, which is worth a few bucks.

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October 29th, 2015
03:16 pm

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Guitar case resurrection
So, many months ago, one of the hinge mounts on my guitar case handle half broke. I could still carry the case, but one side of the handle was not held quite as well as it should have been, and it looked like it would probably break at some point. So, after some while, I thought to ask at Upper Bout (the new guitar store that's in the same commercial building as Titan Games where I often play games) if they could fix it. They said no, but there was a guy who could and they gave me his number.

Last Friday at OVFF, as I was taking my guitar down, the hinge mount finished dying. The handle was now only attached at one end, which felt really awkward and also like it might fall off at any moment. So today, I called the number the guitar store gave me. The guy answered the phone, "Shoe repair." This sounded slightly off, but I told him my problem, and he said that he used to do that kind of work, but it often didn't work out, so he decided to quit and just do shoes, and he doesn't have the parts any more. And he doesn't know of anyone else who does it, so I'm on my own.

So I looked a little closer at what was broken. The brass bit that attaches to the case was actually broken, but the longer part still seemed to be securely attached to the other brass bit that actually is connected to the handle. The rivet that had held the broken bit was simply gone. I looked at it and decided that if I could bolt this metal bit back on, it would probably hold, even though only being anchored at one end was less than perfect. This would also have the drawback that one end of the bolt would have to be in the case, and I'm not up to re-upholstering the inside, so it would stick in. But I checked how the guitar sits in the case, and it conveniently protrudes into an empty space; the guitar shouldn't come near it. Just to be sure, though, I decided that it might be better to have a scrap of cloth over the metal. I can't manage a scrap of cloth that will look like it belongs, but I can manage a scrap. So a few bits of hardware out of the collection, a quick drilling, and some tightening, and I think I can use my guitar case again.

Which is good, not because it's an exceptionally well-made case, but because I would be very sad to have to retire the collection of stickers.

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October 26th, 2015
04:09 pm

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OVFF short report
I have returned safely from OVFF. I'm not going to make a full report now, because I only have a minute. Friday, my hat was well received, and the Pegasus concert was good. I went up to my room to get my guitar, and while I was carrying it down the handle on the case broke. Then I got to the alternate room and set up, and no one else came to that room, and I was overcome with tired. I felt like I wanted to play and I was nooding a bunch, but I couldn't get up the energy to actually sing a song. After 15 or 20 minutes of that I gave up and went to bed, where I promptly became unable to sleep for 3 hours. (And I left half of my medicine collection at home, including the new pills I'm suposed to take for times like these.) Still, made it to breakfast the next day, heard some concerts, went to a workshop, had dinner with my cousin who lives in Columbus, and went back to the alternate filk room. This time other people showed up and we had a good filk until 2, when I had to pack it in to get to breakfast Sunday. Got a couple of games of Dominion in Sunday, heard some more concert, went to dinner with a small group organized by Kathy Mar for Thai. The location we usually go to was "temporary closed on Sunday" but the magic of the Internet let us find the new Thai Orchid location a few miles farther up Sawmill, and the food was wonderful. Got back to the hotel and discovered that there were still a whole lot of people and now only one filk room. It was a very frustrating evening for me; I wanted to sing, but the other 50 people did too. Got a few songs in, heard some good ones, and got to bed about 1.

I left out a lot, including mentioning all the friends I got to hug and catch up with, but as I mentioned above, I gotta run now.

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October 22nd, 2015
03:44 pm

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Mingo
The weather is lovely, and I've been feeling good lately. I decided to do the Lake Mingo trail today. I haven't done it since before my surgery, and until a couple of months ago I definitely wouldn't have been up to it. I'm a bit tired, and I'm glad I ran out of trail when I did, but I feel good.

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October 19th, 2015
10:56 am

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Zzzz...
I went to bed early last night because after my weekend I was tired. I meant to get up early, because I'm moderately eager to get stuff done today. But it's so warm and comfortable and nice to just doze in bed. It took a long time to get up.

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October 17th, 2015
12:11 am

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FNM: Hardened Scales meh
I only changed a few cards from last week. Some crummy hands got me to 4th place out of 8 players.

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October 16th, 2015
12:53 pm

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Carpentry is Fun
Yesterday, I stopped by Kirchner's to pick up more screws, a magnetic screw holder attachment for the drill/driver, and a couple of boards sawn into pieces. In fairly good order, I cut the rest of the pieces I needed and made a second little table, pretty much like the one I made Wednesday, to sit by the door into the house. It's not very pretty -- nothing I cut seems to ever be quite the size I intend -- but it's solid and functional, and it's satisfying to have it come together.

I'm thinking about my next project, which is much more ambitious. I have a general idea of what I want it to be but I'm trying to work out the details of how to make the pieces fit together, hopefully without needing any techniques that are beyond my knowledge or costly tools and materials.

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October 13th, 2015
10:06 pm

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Handy stuff
Today, in the spirit of locking the barn door long after the horses were stolen, I put chicken wire over the opening to the attic that the raccoons came through. I also built a little table out of wood lying around, which I put beside the door in the garage, where I can set the groceries while I open the door. I'm not a very good carpenter, but the table should get the job done.

I also made an appointment to see a dentist. I haven't seen a dentist in a very long time, and I've developed some problems, so hopefully they can do something about them.

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October 10th, 2015
12:53 am

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FNM: Hardened Scales
I have a new standard deck. It's really fun. I came *this close* to winning FNM tonight.

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October 3rd, 2015
04:14 pm

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Shelf!
For years, I've had this notion of how to make a bookshelf. This week, pushed by the fact that I was about to not have the car with the cargo capacity to easily carry larger stuff, I bought the lumber I needed. For the last couple of days, I've been drilling and screwing boards together. There were a couple of bumps along the road, like when I realized that I'd gotten a couple of the wrong boards. But happily, a couple of 6'6" boards fit into a Civic sedan. And as it came together, realizing just how unequal the lengths of a lot of nominally 6' boards were. But I got it all together. And now I have all of my books on shelves, and a certain feeling of accomplishment.

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September 30th, 2015
11:45 pm

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Bonus chainsaw battery!
A couple months ago, I bought a Kobalt cordless electric chainsaw, because I occasionally need a chainsaw and I don't like anything about small gasoline engines. When I bought it, they handed me a rebate coupon at the register. Hey, this says they'll give me a second battery for the thing. 2 amp-hours at 80v is a non-trivial battery, so that seemed worth going to the web site and putting in the information. But after I put the information in, I tried to look back on the tracking information, and the website disavowed any knowledge of me. I decided to not get upset about not getting the free thing I hadn't been expecting when I bought the saw, and wrote it off.

Then yesterday, I found a small but heavy box in my garage. And today I opened the box and found that it had the battery it was supposed to have in it. As the kids say these days, w00t!

I have cut down most of the things that really needed cutting down with my new chainsaw, and determined that, to be best of my limited ability to tell, it's a serious tool, not just a dangerous toy. It doesn't forever on a charge, but definitely long enough to be useful, and the second battery definitely means that the saw will have more endurance than I do. (Turns out that a chainsaw starts to feel really heavy when you've been holding it for 20 minutes.)

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September 29th, 2015
10:19 pm

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New car!
After a little over 13 years and around 370,000 miles, my Toyota Matrix was about used up. (It needed around $3000 worth of work to be safe for winter, and I think it was overdue for new shocks/struts, and it was burning a quart of oil every 1000 miles or so.) So I've been trying to find another car with a manual transmission for a few weeks. The budget was under $10k. I wasn't finding much. On Friday, I stopped at the local Honda dealer, and they had a 2008 Civic with 99K miles that had just come in. Their price was about right, and I liked the test drive. I decided to go for it. Put a deposit on it on Friday, had my mechanic look it over and they thought it was fine. And today, after doing a couple last errands with the cargo space of the Matrix, I drove to the dealer with the Matrix and drove away with the Civic. It would be perfect if it were a hatchback, but it's a sedan. We'll have to see how I adjust to that.

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September 27th, 2015
07:47 pm

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BFZ prerelease: Oops I did it again
Another Magic set is coming out, and the prerelease was this weekend. I did the two daytime ones at Armored Gopher. Saturday, I ended up running a white/green/blue deck featuring Emeria Shepherd and Kiora. It was kinda mediocre. After round 2, I decided that I would have been better off with black than white, because the Shepherd is a bomb but I only had a couple of other white cards worth running. But my opponents played too slowly, so I never had 10 minutes to do that level of surgery on it. I ended up just barely above 50%, got 1 pack, and two Russian Dragon's Maze packs as my door prize. Today, I thought my pool was fantastic. I had two Emeria Shepherds and several white removal spells, so I was definitely playing white. I got Ob Nixilis Reignited, so my first impulse was to play black, but as I built it I realized that I didn't have any cheap black creatures and my deck was just going to be too slow, so I went with red and white instead, getting to run my Resolute Blademaster with several allies. And my curse kicked in -- I thought I had a great deck, so I got mana screwed for my first two matches. I won, drew, and won, but my tiebreaks were dreadful with the two initial losses and I finished 1 place out of packs. Then I pulled my door prize, and hit the jackpot with the Zendikar Expeditions Flooded Strand -- a $300 card.

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September 26th, 2015
07:28 pm

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FNM: Ending on a High Note
Friday was the final FNM when key cards in my Abzan deck are legal in Standard. I had the same 75 as last week. I came in first place, which is pretty rare between my usually having a less than excellent deck and always having less than excellent luck.

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I don't think I have anything new to say about the chances for Siege Rhino in the new standard, except that I think blue control is going be really good against anything Abzan can put together. Horribly Awry is nasty.

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September 24th, 2015
07:38 pm

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Brain upgrade
With some assistance from Jackie, I ordered a new memory stick for my laptop, and I managed to put it in. I misunderstood the procedure, so the first time I took the cover off I couldn't get the memory in, but at least I didn't break anything, and after Jackie pointed me to a website explaining the procedure, I tried again and got it.

With 8 GB instead of 4, surfing the web is now much less annoying. (I like to leave any web page that I'm at all likely to look at again open, so I frequently have 50+ tabs open. This seems to me perfectly natural, the whole reason browsers have multiple tabs, but the performance is so bad that it's apparent that the average computer user either doesn't do this, or has a lot more RAM than I expect for a low end machine.)

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September 20th, 2015
10:23 pm

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FNM: Penultimate Abzan
I played my Abzan deck again at FNM, with no changes since last week. 2-1-1, only lost to the overall winner, so not too bad.

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I know I said last week that this week would be my last chance to play this deck in Standard, but actually, I get to play it next week. I always forget that prerelease is after FNM, not instead of it.

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September 13th, 2015
06:54 pm

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FNM: crappy night
I did play at FNM on Friday. I didn't write it up yesterday because I went to EFRC. I lost the first 4 games. One of those games was interesting and the other three were just me not drawing the cards I needed. After going 0-2, I won the next one and should have won the last one but went to time.

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Next week will be the last hurrah for Standard with Theros block cards. It's spoiler season, and so far I'm hugely disappointed. Siege Rhino will still be a card, but I don't think the mana will be there for my luck to support 3 colors. I really need Sylvan Caryatid to smooth me out -- a card none of the pros have been running for months. I don't know what I'll be playing at FNM a month from now.

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September 6th, 2015
07:49 pm

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2016 EFRC Calendars have arrived!
Next year's calendars have landed. As usual, I encourage everyone to buy them. Best when you visit the center, but I understand that doesn't work for everyone. You can order them online. Or if you're going to be in the same place as I am sometime in the next few months, I'll be happy to deliver one. Let me know, in person, reply here, email, or whatever. They are $15. That's what I pay for them, I'm just spreading the word.

These are not my photographs; they are the work of Stephen McCloud, who has better equipment (even if he is a Nikon guy), more access (since he isn't two hours away), and most importantly, is more organized and better at getting photos off the camera and doing something with them. So, do buy them because you want to support EFRC, or because you like to look at pretty cat pictures, but not because you want to support me as an artist.

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August 29th, 2015
05:55 pm

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FNM: Abzan meh
I played the same deck as last week. 2-1-1, 4th place overall.

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August 22nd, 2015
05:53 pm

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FNM: Standard again
Standard fired again at FNM. I played my Abzan deck again, with a few fiddles. Didn't go well.

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August 16th, 2015
09:55 pm

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iFC
I have just returned from Indy Fur Con. I've been having a stressful few weeks, and I needed a con more than I knew. I almost didn't go, but thanks to the generosity of friends WANOLJ, I got there. It was mostly low key, and there were some bits of time where I wasn't doing much, but there were bits of time when I had fun, when I laughed, when I hugged, and even danced. I had some good conversation. It wasn't a particularly musical weekend, though there was a guy with a guitar in the main area Friday night who had parodies of popular songs, including something wickedly unprintable to the tune of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (ask me about it in person), and singing along with Read more...Collapse )

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August 8th, 2015
09:10 pm

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MTG: Abzan at Game Day
I wasn't particularly happy with my deck at last weeks FNM. I made a couple of incremental changes before FNM last night (and I'll try to reconstruct what the deck was for that), and then I made a couple more changes this morning, including adding a couple more copies of Dromoka's Command that I just picked up. I went 3-2 overall, which ended up I think 5th out of 20 players, which got my into the critical top 8 so I won a full art Languish.

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Overall, I think this is a decent midrange deck. I'm nervous against Goblins, but I think I'm favored enough post-board to be OK. I think mostly-goblins is a better deck than the non-goblins mono-red aggro. I have not played against thopters, but I've seen some board states and it frightens me. I'll probably keep playing this deck when Standard fires until rotation, because any other cool deck will probably require a lot of expensive things. And now I have my Dromoka's Commands, which I think I'll be leaning on after rotation.

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