Resolutions for 2011

Wow, 2011. When did that happen? Probably sometime around the end of December, it’s usually that time of year.

With Christmas all wrapped up (ahaha), I can turn to the new year, and think about my resolutions. I was pleased with the progress last year even though I did slow down a bit in the summer. The clear lesson was to have a plan – a definite method of attack, and some measure of progress.

I’m picking some of the “traditional” resolutions that I hear about every year – get fit, save money, etc. But I intend to keep at it for longer than a month, and with some hard work, longer than six months too! I’ve had a few weeks trying out what I think I can do, and I’m ready to announce these plans in full.

This year, I aim to improve myself a bit. I’ve kept myself healthy this year, but I could do better. My first resolution then: to go swimming every week. I’ve identified a local swimming pool, and we can take Freddy at the weekend. He likes swimming, and splashing, and will enjoy it. It will require some assistance (it’s the wife’s turn to drive at the weekends), but if I aim to go every week, even if I fail one week there should be enough to have raised my general fitness by the end of the year. I might keep a record of how many lengths I do, and see if it rises appreciably over the year.

I failed my resolution to paint all my Dark Elves last year. That was because there was no plan. The new plan is to do at least forty-five minutes of painting a week. I can probably get that in pieces on weekday evenings, or catch up at the weekend while Freddy has a nap. Why forty-five minutes? Because I can stick something on the DVD player (a Babylon 5 commentary, an iPlayer episode of something) and have the background noise I need when painting. Since this is a target like the “filing” one last year, I can do the same as I did then and catch up if I fail one week. This should (hopefully) get the Dark Elves finished, and maybe even some of the scenery.

Last year, a number of big expenses got in the way of saving – we needed to replace the cooker, buy a car and get it insured. This all added up to quite a nasty sum, and on examination, I ended with no more in savings than I started the year with. I’ve not got a specific plan in place on how to save money, other than not to spend it, but my goals are to put away an as-yet-undetermined amount each month. My ultimate aim is to have at least increased my savings slightly, and overpaid an extra month on the mortgage. I calculated the other day that at the start of this year, there’s only around 343 months left to pay on it. If I manage to knock that down slightly, then terrific!

An easy one now – I’ve realised that I very, very rarely put pictures on here. Some of them were even only Flickr/Google Image searches, and I didn’t even do that one as often as I could/should have. I can put pictures of Fred on when I talk about him, or of models when I talk about them (the only one I have actually done!).

Finally, a triple-whammy resolution – do more of the Frugal Gaming thing. Play more, spend less, and blog about games. I will try to play a major game once a month, unless I hold a games night – of which I will attempt to organise more. I only managed a couple last year, which just wasn’t as many as I wanted. I’ll also be imposing a £5 monthly limit on games – computer games, wargames, etc. It should be reasonably easy to keep this one in control, there’s only a few things I’m interested in and I recently joined an RPG group which aims to meet weekly – and RPGs are notoriously cheap! As the final part of this one, I’ll be aiming to blog on A Year of Frugal Gaming at least once a month too. I feel I let them down a bit last year, so I’ll be trying harder to waste people’s blog-reading time with games reviews, games night tips, and any frugal gaming tips I can find.

In summary then:

  1. Go swimming once a week
  2. Paint for forty-five minutes a week
  3. Save money, overpay at least a month on the mortgage
  4. More pictures on this blog!
  5. Spend no more than £5 a month on games
  6. More games and games nights.
  7. Blog on A Year of Frugal Gaming once a month

This seems to me to be a good range of things, easy goals and milestones along the way to hit, and I should be able to get a feel for whether or not I’m getting anywhere with them.

Dammit, I Failed Again


Right, so it’s been a while since my last regular blog post. I think it’s probably the worst I’ve done so far this year… although it wasn’t one of my new year’s resolutions, I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep it going for a little way (although more pictures would probably be better) – and without the crutch of picture-a-day or the like. Although I freely admit the posts here are a little lacking in interest, maybe one of those crutches might be a good thing…

Anyway, it’s probably time to catch up with my resolutions! It’s a mixed bag at this point in the year, I’ve moved my own goalposts.

  1. Filing
    I’ve actually finished the bulk of the filing, and the ‘backlog’ from the beginning of the year! There’s still a small pile which I’ve not decided how to proceed with (it’s not urgent, I’ll keep it around for a bit anyway), and there’s a pile of documents to be shredded. But otherwise, this one is crossed off!
  2. Dark Elves
    Nothing has been done with these in a long time. I’ll definitely not hit my targets if I don’t do any work with them. I’m considering beginning to paint a small amount (ten minutes or so) every evening after dinner, as long as my son doesn’t fling his noodles in the paint pot. I already changed the criteria on this resolution once, I don’t think it counts if I do so again.
  3. Driving Licence
    I took a test on Monday, and failed. I had two serious faults in the last two minutes of the test. One was a complete flubbing of bay parking, and the other was not seeing a lorry that I almost hit. That’s not exactly comforting, but the doubt in my mind is that if I don’t remember it, and didn’t hit it, was I consciously moving around it and not worrying about it? Or was I just too close for the examiner’s comfort? Regardless, I’m convinced that third time is a charm and I’ve already booked my next test – although I’ll try to get a cancellation before that.
  4. German
    Still had no time for this one.
  5. Star Trek Cards
    Another one I can cross off! There’s a bit of tidying up to do – some of the cards didn’t sell – but otherwise, I’ve got rid of the lot. And funded a new television with the proceeds! Hoorah!
  6. Family Tree
    My weekends are mostly booked up till the end of August, but we’re going to arrange to get Jen’s Oma to discuss her side of the family at some point in September. I’ll have to practice the German characters on my keyboard!
  7. Wargame Tools
    Slightly bad news on this one – I’ve totally lost motivation. Because of the lack of time to work on the project (half an hour a day a few times a week on my lunch breaks) and because I am stuck in a less interesting part of the project for the foreseeable future, I’m just not motivated to work on this one. I’m considering scrapping the project completely, since I just don’t have the time for it. It would be too tempting to immediately start a new project, and I’ve already got a few ideas, but it’s something that I should think about further.

So, 2 things crossed off – more than 25% of the way there! One item I may fail despite trying (the driving test), two I may not finish (German and Dark Elves) and one I am thinking of giving up on (wargame tools) but the rest are alright. Not too bad!

Nearly-Halfway Check-up

Well, I think it’s about time I brought an update on the resolutions. The last time I checked on those, things were progressing slowly, or not at all. And in the usual order:

  1. Filing.
    I got ahead last week so I could spend a bit of time off this week – I’ll be about ten pages behind for next weekend, but I plan to make it up then. I’ve almost reached the end of the top drawer, and the bottom drawer is almost empty. Then there’s just the backlog of stuff that hasn’t been filed since I started doing this in January! All in all, I think this one will be finished in a couple of months!
  2. Dark Elves.
    I went to stay with my parents over the Easter weekend and while they fawned all over Freddy, I got a good chunk of work done on the Corsairs. I believe I may be able to free up a bit of time in the evenings to work on them now, so for about 15 minutes a night I can chip a little closer to my goal. Still looking like I won’t finish the whole army this year, but I will see what I can get done and plan accordingly for next year.
    The other problem is that knowing I won’t get them all done, I’ve lost momentum on getting the remainder of the models ready to paint. I know there are more undercoated than I can paint this year, so I’m just not motivated to get the rest undercoated. The weather has been a bit off for the last few weeks too, maybe I’ll catch the bug when the clouds disappear again.
  3. Driving Licence.
    Lessons have been going well, I had a double lesson today and booked a double lesson for next weekend (knowing that the one after it I will be unavailable). The instructor is really good, and I’m recommending that the wife take a couple of refresher lessons before I take the test again. Speaking of which, I was told to book the test today – “For the second half of June.” So that’s good news!
  4. German.
    Looking at my schedule, I believe that when the filing is out of the way I would do better to try and concentrate my time on painting for now. There’s also the driving lessons (1-2 hours a week) that I may have free, but I think I should focus those too on painting. Maybe when I’ve made more progress on that one, I’ll reconsider this.
  5. Star Trek cards.
    The bulk of my collection has sold on eBay! The remainder has now been listed, and there are a few parcels still to send out. I’ve even received feedback on a couple of items, so I know that they got there OK. I got more money for them than I was expecting, so that’s a nice bonus too. I just need to get it out of my PayPal account and into my real world.
  6. Family Tree.
    As I mentioned before, we’ve had our first bash at that and added a whole bunch of new names to the list. We’ve got a lot planned for the next few weekends (weddings, fairs, guests, etc) so I think when it’s all over (middle of June?) we’ll be planning our next one. My original plan to have the main bulk of this finished by July was a bit optimistic, on reflection. We have at least two more meetings to go to get the basics down, and possibly a third, given the complexity of my wife’s ancestry. I’ll also have to practice my German spelling for that one.
  7. Wargame Tools.
    I came to a bit of an irk-point a while ago – none of my friends have been able to test the program so far, they are all too busy. My own tests turned up that I need to alter the data structure, and since it was a learning project it’s not quite consistent in the way things are performed… it was looking to be complex and time-consuming. I am rewriting it to teach myself MVC, and so far progress has been quick. This also has the advantage that I can shove it on a website and point people to it to test much easier – I’ll probably go straight to some war-gaming forums and ask for volunteers. I still think I can have it in test by September.

All in all, good progress! A driving test being taken by July, which was my original aim, and hopefully I’ll pass! Star Trek cards almost all gone, and with more money than I expected to boot! Family tree and Wargame Tools both moving along as expected, and the filing hopefully coming to a close soon! I’ll probably have very little to do for the winter months this year…

Unwelcome Revelation

Well, it’s been a little while since I posted last. I’ve been a bit ill, again. Tonsillitis, for the first time in over ten years, which I can thank my son for – I seem to catch almost everything he does.

I’ve had a few days off this week as a chance to recharge my batteries, and to get a bit of headway on some of my projects and year’s resolutions. I think, since I am still thinking about my resolutions late in March, I must be doing pretty well at them.

The filing continues slightly ahead of my target, and I’ve worked out that it takes just under an hour. If I stick on a podcast and get going, I can get it out of the way nicely. I’ve just thrown away the first bin liner full of shredded documents, which feels good.

I’ve started driving lessons again, helped by the drop in stress that I’ve stopped looking for a new job. I’ve got to get back into the swing of driving, get used to the car, build up my confidence a bit more, then I should be ready to book the test. So I ought to be able to take a test by June or July, at the latest, allowing for long waiting lists.

The eBay sales have been slow – I got so close to the end, I didn’t bother doing any more work for a few weeks because I was ‘so close’. Still, I think I can push through that with the last few days of time off, and see if I can finally get one of these tasks crossed off. Since I’m not putting time into this one exactly, I don’t think I can start the German lessons even when it’s crossed off.

We had to cancel our planned Family Tree meeting a couple of weeks ago because of illness, but we’ve scheduled it in again for next weekend. Luckily, one of Jen’s cousins has already done a good chunk of work on their side of the family so we should have quite a head-start on that one.

Wargame Tools Datafile Creator has gone off to some friends for testing! I’ve got a list of tasks to finish before I give it out further, and the second program (the Rosterfile Creator) has had some good progress so far. Both parts should be out in open test by the end of the year (almost definitely by September), very easily.

The unwelcome revelation is the Dark Elf plan. I counted over 150 models, and given how much of the year is left I’ll be needing to paint 4 of those a week (and some of those are cavalry or monster models) to reach the target. While not impossible, I have all these other things to get sorted too (alongside a full time job and a family) so I doubt this one will succeed. With my batch process of painting, I know that many will be finished in one week (after several weeks of no progress), so this is difficult to gauge but I am going to prioritise and say that all the Corsairs will be finished first, then the Cold One Knights. Then I’ll have to pick something else (probably the Dark Riders). Ultimately, this resolution will not be finished and I know it. Still, there’ll be a lot less for me to do next year!

That being said, I’ve been able to get most of the models assembled, based and undercoated ready to go. While the weather holds this morning, I’m going to get another batch sprayed and that will give me all of the Corsairs ready to go. It’ll be my largest batch yet – about sixty models, altogether!

I may yet be able to finish it – as I reached the end of my Wood Elf army, I went to stay with my parents for a week and spent the whole time painting. Needless to say, you can make a lot of progress when you plug away like that!

Dark Elf Plan

(Originally posted to A Year of Frugal Gaming)

If I’m going to get anywhere with my resolution to have all my Dark Elves painted by the end of the year, I’ll have to have a plan ready before I lose too much time.

Having ransacked the shelves and boxes that house my collection, I’ve taken stock of the unfinished models. When I say ‘ancient’ below, I’m referring to the (mostly, if not exclusively) Marauder miniatures that Games Workshop sold in the mid-1990’s. I expect most of those models are also made of lead, and were carved by hand using flint tools.

Paint needs removing   painttostrip

  • 1 Dark Pegasus, without rider
  • 1 Manticore with partial rider
  • 1 badly damaged Hydra that has been glued, puttied, pinned, and soldered and still won’t stay together. I really don’t know what to do with this one, except corrosively strip the various layers of adhesive and paint off, and maybe try something new (like magnets). It’d be nice to get it back together, but I have a bad feeling I’ve ruined it.

These models will need some extensive work on them. I got the Dark Pegasus and Manticore in an eBay sale, and they don’t have (complete) riders. I’m planning to put a Crone Hellebron conversion on the Manticore eventually, but I’ve not started looking at parts to complete that yet. I don’t want to rush them just to fit within the year’s resolution, so I may treat these models as ‘bonuses’, if I have the time to do them.

  • 19 ancient plastic swordsmen
  • 1 ancient Corsair that needs some repairs (weapons missing!)
  • 4 ancient Corsairs

Unassembled / modelling required 

  • 2 modern Cold One Knights
  • 4 modern Black Ark Corsairs
  • 3 ancient plastic swordsmen that need a weapon swap.
  • 2 Gamezone harpies

Undercoating requiredleadpieces

  • 1 modern Hydra needs a nice base added (bits of enemies, etc) before undercoating.
  • 20 ancient Corsairs
  • 2 ancient bolt throwers and 1 modern one, all with their matching crew. I may delay the ancient bolt throwers to try and give them a bit more sex appeal, since they are rather… blocky.
  • 7 ancient Cold One Knights
  • 10 Dark Riders to undercoat (horses already undercoated).
  • 12 ancient Witch Elves
  • 6 ancient Crossbowmen
  • 12 ancient Black Guard
  • 1 ancient command group
  • 2 ancient assassins
  • An ancient male sorcerer
  • An ancient Morathi model (with clothes on!)
  • 1 Chariot crew
  • 1 modern Hydra Beastmaster team
  • 1 modern Sorceress on foot and 1 mounted on Cold One
  • 1 modern Master on foot and 1 mounted on Cold One
  • 1 modern Assassin
  • 3 modern Cold One Knights
  • 1 Malekith on Black Dragon
  • 1 Lokhir Fellheart

I do have an additional Cold One knight, left over as I got four ancient Cold Ones without riders as an eBay win and inherited a rider without a steed from a friend of a friend’s old bits box. But I’m unsure yet whether or not to make a Black Chariot with four Cold Ones pulling it, or two regular chariots, or have a Black Chariot with three creatures and use the spare to bolster the Cold One Knights. Having three chariots would be fairly nice… Although I often face cannons (boo).


  • 10 Dark Steeds
  • 12 modern Crossbowmen
  • 4 modern Witch Elves
  • 1 ‘middle-child’ Beastmaster team for the (damaged) Hydra
  • 6 Mengil Manhide’s Manflayers

So my first task will be to assemble the remaining Cold One Knights and Black Ark Corsairs, and perform any repairs on the existing models. Then I can devote a bit of time to painting each week before the good weather comes and I can undercoat the bulk of the models, which will give me a lot more to work on! I figure I can probably get about 2 hours a week, spread across evenings and the weekend, to chip away at this mound of metal. I’d rather hoped that there would be more models ready to paint, so if I got the time before undercoating weather came along I’d be able to get ahead on things. No matter, I like a challenge!

First Steps

So, it’s February and I think I can say I’ve made an acceptable start to my New Year’s resolutions. In order, then!

  1. Filing.
    My aim is to scan and shred fifty documents each week. I have done 392 so far, compared to an expected 250. This is pretty impressive, though it helps that the first week (my calibration week) I spent a lot of time shredding, and got over 100 documents sorted. And each week, I’ve been over my target by a little bit ‘while I’m in the groove’, as it were. So that one’s going well.
  2. Dark Elves.
    I’ve prepared a rough plan of what lays ahead with this task, and even wrote up a nice long blog post for sometime later to put up. But as far as actual work towards it goes, none yet.
  3. Driving Licence.
    I’ve been a bit preoccupied looking for a job to organise driving lessons. I believe that when I have changed job, I might be able to have a lesson straight from work to home again – this will make a big difference to the range of instructors I can pick, since many do not work weekends.
  4. German.
    Still not in a position to fit this one into the schedule, at present.
  5. Star Trek cards.
    All the cards are alphabetised, and I’m nearly halfway through cataloguing them. From there, it’s only a short evening on eBay, and then it’s all over!
  6. Family Tree.
    The weekends have been a bit hectic for the past few weeks, but luckily this is one where a small investment of time, even over 12 months, can provide a wealth of knowledge. I’m planning to arrange at least one fact-finding mission by the end of February, which should take the majority of a day. One day every eight weeks would have the bulk of this work finished by July, so that seems like a good target.
  7. Wargame Tools.
    This is another project that has suffered with the employment search. Still, have been able to spend some time reviewing it recently, and am a short length of time away from making the first half of the program available for testing. This is probably useless without the second part, of course, but that shouldn’t take nearly as long as the first part!

So that’s where I stand now. On reflection, I’ve made little or no progress on five of these projects – the ones with the least definite plan of action! There’s a lesson in that, I’m sure. Still, two of the projects have a minimal time investment in total / remaining, and I’m firming up plans on the rest. So that’s definitely a good sign that I should be on top of everything soon!

Man of Resolve

I know these are probably supposed to be announced at the New Year, but I’ve been a busy bunny. I also couldn’t think of any good ones till after the deadline (when I realised that these goals I set myself were proper resolutions, with full action plan and everything!)

What I like about these resolutions is that most of them are ones that are totally finished – they can’t (easily) be undone, and have a definite, visible result. Plus, unlike the nebulous ‘lose weight’ or ‘get fit’ that are probably in the top 10 resolutions, the only way to fail at most of these is to not try. Much easier to motivate yourself when that’s your only barrier.

First of all, I plan to do something about my filing cabinet. It currently has every phone bill, bank statement, hospital letter, and so on and so forth that I’ve received over the years. I plan to scan all these into the computer (I’m a hoarder at heart) and then shred anything more than two years. That’ll clear a lot of space, and make the important bits (for example, recent stuff) easier to find. The plan for this one (after a feverish weekend of shredding) is to try and scan at least 50 documents a week. That ought to be something I can easily do on a weekend without cutting into other stuff too much.

I’m also going to paint all my Dark Elf models. Some of these are unpainted, some are unassembled, some even need some remodelling to make them usable! I don’t have a definite timeframe, but I plan to focus on assembling and getting models ready to paint first. This way, as soon as Spring comes around, I can spray the models and have them ready to paint at the earliest possible opportunity. Some of these models have been unpainted for 10 years! This might be one of the hardest to keep, because there are so many other things that are important to do when I’ve got a spare five minutes, it’ll keep getting pushed aside.

I don’t have a driving licence at the moment. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I’ve not had a lesson for over a month, and that was after a dry spell following my practical test and a house move. I’m going to try with a new instructor, although I am restricted (pretty much) to weekends or late evenings. I figure a lesson every two weeks to get me feeling happy about driving again, then a lesson every week between booking the test and taking it. I should be taking the test before June. And if I fail, to rebook immediately. I must be a driver by December. This one will be the hardest to keep, because I hate driving.

I want to learn a language, and I’ve picked German. My wife is half-German, which makes my son a quarter-German, and she doesn’t speak a word of it. Neither does Freddy, but he doesn’t speak a word at all at the moment. It would be nice to learn a language, and I have one of those CD course things to tap at when I get the time. Unfortunately, I feel this is something that needs a bit of regular time and dedication, so it will have to wait till at least one of the other resolutions is done and dusted before I can squeeze it in, or I’ll see how the time-management goes and whether there is a place for it. I will have to see how things transpire.

Sell all my Star Trek cards. This is a fairly simple one, don’t think it needs that much explaining.

My Dad and I have been working on a family tree for a few years now. My involvement has been… less than involved, to be honest. But I’ve always taken an interest. I decided just before Christmas that it’d be nice to get Dad’s information (which mostly covers my Grandmother’s family) and put it into a new family tree, for Freddy. It’ll be nice for him to have a lot of the hard work done if he, or his children, ever decide to do some research into it. And as amazing as our earliest date of 1812 is, think how incredible that would be in 30-50 years time! To that end, I’m arranging to meet up with my mother’s parents, and my in-law’s parents, and glean as much information as possible. This should be easily completed by June. Apparently, my wife’s aunt has already done some research into her family, so that might be the best place to start – to save duplicating effort.

Finally, I want to get the first version of my Wargame Tools on this website to test. Given the amount of progress I’ve made since September, I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to believe that it could be being tested around places by this September. I’m only aiming at a rough, unpolished version, however. The final one, with lights, colours, bells, whistles and knobs on could take a while longer. But we’ll see how it goes. I already know there’s a couple of limitations with the data structure I’ve designed as it relates to a perfect representation of the Warhammer system, specifically the Bretonnian army, but I’d want to wait and see what changes come with the 7th edition version of that army book before I start making massive modifications.

In summary, then:

  • Organise the filing cabinet
  • Paint all my Dark Elves
  • Get a driving licence
  • Learn German
  • Sell all my Star Trek cards
  • Work on the family tree
  • Get Wargame Tools released as an alpha test