Monday, February 28, 2022

Reflection and Catharsis

This is largely a reflective and opinion page. It is long, rambling, and depressing. Also, there might be some statements that offend you ideologically or politically. I will not be upset if you pass this post up.

The war in Ukraine
I was hoping that Putin would not invade Ukraine even though deep in my heart I knew that he would. Even though I am 1/4 Russian, I was livid. The whims of one man and his cronies are causing the deaths and misery of Ukrainians. He is so willing to sacrifice his own troops and cause economic misery to his own people to achieve his goals. At first I cursed all of Russia, but then I realized that there are many Russian citizens who have been opposed to Putin. The current images of the mass protests in Moscow and other cities bear this out.  There is a spark of hope that this dictatorship can be toppled. 

My anger and frustration then broadened to all these countries around the world where nations are ruled by a dictator or are turning more and more to authoritarian rule. This includes China, North Korea, Burma, Brazil, even the largest democracy in the world, India, not to mention the many smaller nations who routinely under the rule of a dictator. They are fed these populist lies that are sadly swallowed hook, line, and sinker. My wife, who lived her first 21 years in mainland China had an argument on the phone with her brother-in-law, who completely believes the lies that Russia was just in invading Ukraine and that somehow The US was the one who instigated it all. My anger and depression over the stupidity of humanity further increased

What does this has to do with gaming? 

Of all the weeks since the new year started, this week was a long window of opportunity for actual gaming. I had the stats all written up to game both an air battle and a land battle for my current Bovatopia campaign...but I just couldn't. It was a like food aversion. The idea of modern gaming just didn't set well for me. Maybe I'm being a hypocritical, white guy who lives in the US because there are horrible wars currently going on in many smaller nations and this has never phased me. But this invasion of Ukraine does. I just couldn't do it. A small voice kept saying, "come on! This is your chance to have a game for once!" I just couldn't do it. I could not play a modern-themed game.  That small voice just threw up his hands and shook his head in resignation. 

On death and dying
Thursday, I found out that a colleague died on Monday. I am not sure where I would place him on the Friend scale, but counted him as a close colleague. He had been in very poor health for the past two or so years, but there was much speculation on how he died. It turned out he had long covid. I saw him briefly last semester and he looked horrible. It turns out that he developed a blood clot that went to his lungs that killed him. He was only 57 years old with two sons that just graduated from college. He taught at my college for 17 years. He was a mathematician who thought math was like poetry. He was the coach of the school's cross country team and helped out with the local high school's team. He was also very involved in a lot of causes. Like me, he was often cynical about things, but it was only because of the things he saw. This is the 4th person I know who has died related to covid. Attending his memorial service yesterday (Saturday) heightened the grief of his own passing, but also of those other three.

After the service, I further dove into this darker place. I got a text message from another colleague, who I am very close to, that her recovery from cancer has taken a turn for the worse. It is not so much the cancer itself, but the bone marrow transplant she recently has left her open to all kinds of nasty infections. Right now she has some sort of respiratory inflection and is on oxygen. It seems that has been one step forward but then two steps back. She is making a brave face but I know she is scared. When I got done with the conversation, I felt like I was dragged through the mud.

I got done with the texting about my friend's condition and wasn't in the mood to do anything, but out of the blue, my son wanted to have a game. We pulled out my single-based fantasy figures and he threw in some plastic toys as large monsters and had a rip-roaring time. It was a battle between Good and Evil with heavy metal tunes blasting in the background!


The evil side was a mix of Orcs and Beastmen with a large pterodactyl, 28mm ogre, and a wind monster. The good guys were led by none other than King Ivan and consisted of dismounted knights, barbarians, Dwarves, and a WizKid HeroClix Korg figure. Like many games I have had with my son, the rules generally went out the window as the battle progressed. There was a lot of exciting moments and bending of the rules. We had two battles and split victories. The laughter, hoots, hollers, not to mention the music were so loud that my studious daughter and her friend had to take their robotics work elsewhere. It felt so good to have a silly game with my silly little guy! 

The last part of this long-winded story took place Sunday morning at church. The euphoria of last night's war had worn off by then. I don't remember what the name of the closing song was...maybe it was the words...maybe because it was sung by the children's choir, but whatever it was, I broke down in tears. We sit in the back, and where I was seated, no one could see the tears streaming down my face. I slowly came back to earth once the service ended.

The games and my response to the closing song at church really gave me a sense of peace. The frustration over the war isn't gone, but has mellowed and the anger does not feel consuming. I feel a little more comfortable with the grief I am feeling. I don't know if I am 100% to game moderns, but I feel like I'm getting there.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Another stab at basing aircraft

 I got these clear acrylic bases from Litko by way of Amazon. It was a little tricky making the rod perpendicular to the base in all directions for some of the stands, but I think I managed to pull it off. Instead of magnets, I cut tiny squares of steel bases and glued them on top. It gives a strong hold but not so much as to pull the magnets off of either the plane or the base. Plus, I don't have to worry about polarization. The hexagon bases will be perfect for the AirWar: C21 rules. I've been re-reading them and I think I now understand some things I was fuzzy on in the past.

Fantasy Painting Challenge II

 I got my friends interpretation of the Dwarf we picked for the latest painting challenge. It puts mine to shame. To add insult to injury, I still haven't shipped mine out yet.

He really went all out, even including a terrain base:

I am not sure if he is fighting the dragon, or just teaching it to behave. Very cool either way.