“Do not forget one line of this, not one day.” Friday, Jun 27 2014 


My son finished college today, and hopefully will be off to University in September.

Education hasn’t been easy for him. When he was 7 he was diagnosed with a lazy eye. It wasn’t found early enough (the only day he had off school sick when he was 5 was the day they did the eye tests). It was thought that this was what was holding his reading back.

Then we found he had dyslexia – quite severe as far as I can tell. We fought the council for funding for help for him at school. We also paid for a lesson with a specialist teacher once a week. After a while she suggested we get him tested for Aspergers. That was another fight to get the education department to recognise the diagnosis (because the support costs money). This is a proper diagnosis, done by professionals, not ‘I’ve done a checklist from the internet’.

He isn’t good at making friends, but has managed to find a group of strong supportive friends (they basically approached him first). There are times I’ve had to kick him through the door to force him to socialise with them.

With the educational support he managed to get good GCSE’s, and get onto a 3d CGI animation course for BTEC, though he needed to resit his English. He found his niche, and he found how to learn, how to plan his projects.

We started doing the Uni thing – he was trying for Computer Game Art type stuff. The problem is they all wanted ‘Fine Art skills’, and he isn’t a great Life artist. He likes the modelling, rigging and coding (he was surprised by the coding – he thought he would hate it). I watched him come out of each interview crushed- they were impressed by his skills, would bring a lot to the course but his art wasn’t good enough.

Then University of South Glamorgan at Cardiff.

He went off. I sat in the lobby waiting for the inevitable. He came out an hour later. I’d moved from where he had left me- I could see a look of worry creep into the Aspie blankness – the world was different to how it should be. I waved from the coffee shop…

… and he broke into a huge smile. I sagged in relief. Apparently the tutor had been very interested in all he was doing, impressed with what he had done on the course, but, yes, no fine art.

“However, I think you should talk to my colleague.” From Game Design course: On last year’s course they spent the first 2 weeks playing board games – Catan, Carcassonne… the sort of games I play with him. This is to spark debate on what makes a good game.

That tutor was very impressed, and after another interview, this time concentrating on his design skills, said ‘I look forward to seeing you in September.’ We put in his change of course application to UCAS, hoping this was it. A week later my wife phoned them- the suspense was killing him, but he was too Aspie to phone. He got an offer! (and apparently the staff were really helpful when my wife phoned.)

Last week he handed in his assessment piece. Today was the end of term BBQ- he doesn’t go back after today. He has a geeky knowledge- not the Star Wars/Big Bang Theory quoting of 2 years ago (he still has that – he walks into the room, watches 5 seconds and goes “Season 3, episode 4″), but industry stuff that is the foundation of something useful in the gaming industry. (It may not be a biggie- apparently its relatively easy file swap- but he is currently working on getting the Bards in Skyrim to sing the Skyrim Rap

In 9 days he is 18 – I can still remember being handled this pink bundle in the delivery room and tears forming as I said ‘My little man’. He will be 18 – he’s completed education with a good grade prediction, he doesn’t do drugs (apart from the occasional sanctioned beer at home), he’s intelligent, witty, not in a gang, never been in trouble with the police. His teachers have always had the highest praise for him. Despite his difficulties, I’ve watched him push back against them (sometimes with us pushing him!)

I’m scoring this as a Parenting Win.

Like I said today was the last day at college. He may never see most of these friends again. He posted this on Facebook. (this is all his – no one proof read it for dyslexia. I paste ‘as is’)

finished college today just wanted to say thanks to everyone the tutors and friends for making it the best two years I have experience so far.I will be sad to see it go and whilst I’m looking forward to university in Cardiff.looking back at the 2 years of college i feel drawn to the last words of the 10th doctor “i don’t want to go”.

His mother cried. What could I do but to quote other Doctors’ ‘last words’ at him.

I just wanna tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I!

 

“We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people, all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. Do not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear. Always remember when Jack was you.”

Another Poem for my Wife Tuesday, Mar 11 2014 


It was suggested to me recently I haven’t written a poem in a while. I took the hint. Not sure it’s what she expected, though.

Everywhere on Earth
There are things that come in twos
Coz no one likes the rhythm
Without listening to the blues.

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How to undermine a successful Ad campaign Sunday, Jan 19 2014 


Many years ago Marmite broke all the rules of advertising.

They suggested that some people don’t like their product.

The world of advertising were incredulous (except, I assume, the agency that came up with this idea).  They thought the company was mad.

“Are you mad?” they said (see, told you). “You can’t suggest someone doesn’t like your product, you’ll put people off.”

However their PR men had spotted something.  Marmite – you either love it or you hate it, and this went on to form the basis of one of the most successful campaigns in British TV history.

Now obviously Marmite is the Devil’s smegma.  However my brother (aged 41 and 6 months) becomes inappropriately excited by Twiglets (which I maintain are real twigs, covered in tarmac, though the packet assures us they are Marmite covered breadsticks)- to wit, upon  finding we had had them for the Christmas Evening buffet had him running round like a 5 year old at a party.

My Dad’s response?

“I’m not really that keen on Marmite.”

NOT THAT KEEN.  NO ONE IS NEUTRAL ABOUT MARMITE. You can’t be ‘not that keen’.

Millions of pounds worth of advertising undermined in one sentence.

Chinese to fake ‘Fake Moon landing’ Sunday, Jan 19 2014 


Chinese space officials today admitted that they are sending real astronauts to the moon, as it is easier than faking a moon-landing convincingly.

“Modelling the low gravity on a sound stage is a huge problem,” one unnamed official admitted.  “We tried CGI, but the cost of the render-time was more than actually sending a ship there.”

Instead the actual landing will be preceded by 2 other spaceships, one carrying the 20 man production crew, and another containing a specially made Ikea flat pack sound stage – known as “fakr”- with all the pieces needed, including polystyrene ‘moon-rocks’.

NASA official Buzz Trellis said “We wish we’d done this.  No-one believes real footage- fake is always more convincing.”

A Complaint Letter to Haribo Tuesday, Nov 12 2013 


Sent by me today.

Dear Sir/Madam

It’s been quite stressful at work recently, so I and the two ladies I share an office with all chipped in last week for some comfort food, and Wendy and I took ourselves to the local store to stock up.

Among the items, Wendy selected a Haribo Mega-mix bag (yeah we’re a bunch of 40-somethings eating kids’ treat bags. Like I say, stressed). I must admit I had some reservations, as I am not a lover of the Gold-bear. However I realise that your jellies are formulated for a younger palate, not a middle aged man, and it was a ‘Mega-mix’ bag. As such the pack also tantalised with the promise of ‘Tang-fastics’, and I do like a sharp/sour sweet. We also bought chocolate chip cookies and bags of scampi fries and bacon fries. As you can see we were not planning to run our afternoon snacks past a doctor for their approval, but were intending to cheer our minds and taste buds (if not our arteries).

Upon opening the bag I sorted through for something I would like, and retrieved a packet of Tang-fastic. I say ‘a packet’; it would be more accurate to say ‘THE packet’. Yes, much to my disappointment, there was only one pack of this fizzy delight. And not just my disappointment, for it turned out Robbo also fancied a pack, and I had snagged the only one. I have thus upset my colleague, and she’s Australian, so not someone I wish to anger.

There were a few packets of what my colleague Wendy assures me are called ‘Star-mix’, but not many. Indeed, an unofficial audit between us (the bin has been emptied, so we can’t count the packs) suggests that of the 25 packs, at least 18 were Gold-bears. 72% (plus) of this gummy ursine seems rather excessive in something that represents itself as a ‘mega-mix’.

We therefore wish to register our disappointment, our distress even, at this oversight by your packing machine. I was so upset I had to have another packet of Bacon Fries.

Yours Faithfully
Ian, Wendy and Emma (aka Robbo)
Team 2
PS Robbo wishes to make it clear she is not yet a 40-something.

PPS Wendy says age is immaterial, as your slogan is “Kids and adults love it so, the happy world of Haribo.” We would add, “unless you like Tang-fastic or Star-mix, when you are in for a disappointment.”

The Daily Mail and Hitler. Tuesday, Oct 1 2013 


If the Daily Mail wants to talk about 1930′s political affiliations can we all make a point in posting the following reminder.

The Daily Mail – The paper that supported Hitler.

Pass it on.

Chain of Command QR Sheet Monday, Sep 16 2013 


Chain of Command is the new platoon level wargame from the Too Fat Lardies. Rich has produced a QRS. However before that had been published I had already started my own. These I feel are the best lay out.

Sheet 1 – Command and Movement
Sheet 2 – Combat and Morale
Sheet 3 – Vehicle Combat.

Please note some suspected anomalies have been double checked by people on the Lardies Yahoo Group, specifically 1) 0 and 1 net hits on soft skins and 2) The difference between Road and Broken wheeled movement: ALL hard ground counts as Road.

UPDATE 19 Sept 13. Updated to amend a couple of errors that had crept in.

Quick Reference Sheet

Book is finished Saturday, Apr 27 2013 


It’s come in at 118000 words, or there about. It’s currently with 3 people for reading/finding cockups/grammar errors.

It also has two endings, I don’t know which one I want.

Tuesday, Feb 26 2013 


Ok, maybe not finished finished -I need to round off the odd chapter – I’ve put in ??? to say ‘Something more, possibly’.

But after 15 months (I had a long break in the middle, – not stressed enough) and 118,000 words I have a novel that can be read as such.

Now just need to tighten up the start, make sure the continuity works, and correct a few pages. THEN start the editing of the first draft.

BUT

I actually have a novel.
Bugger. That’s a bit scary. Never written anything this long before

I Ain’t Been Shot Mum cards Saturday, Feb 9 2013 


I present four sets of cards, one for each of the major European combatants, fot the Too Fat Lardies wargame “I Ain’t Been Shot Mum”. Rather than boring cards with just the words on, these contain period images (except a couple of modern ones thrown up by image search on Google and Bing where no other period image was found).

British Cards

US cards

Soviet Cards

German Cards

Card Backs

Included in each set is a Nation specific ‘Tea Break’ card, as well as a propagander poster for an ‘Umpire Card’ and a untitled portrait of the national wartime leader to use as a ‘joker’ or second umpire card, or what ever (though neither Churchill or Stalin were the head of state). There is also a ‘Title Card’ to stick on the outside of a box you keep them in.

Each set’s background is colour coded: Green for the US, Red for USSR etc.

The fifth file is Card Backs of the title panel from the 3rd edition rules – reproduced by kind permission of Chief Lardie Richard Clarke. If you flip the printed sheet over these SHOULD line up, assuming you use the same top edge both times (you’ll note the larger space at the bottom than the top, though left and right margins are identical).

When I print cards at home I print on plain paper then laminate before cutting up. If anyone wants the jpegs of the cards to send to a commercial printer to place on proper cards, such as ‘Artscow’, let me know.

EDIT: Word of caution – just thought: these are on A4 paper – not sure what will happen on US ‘Letter’ size paper!

To the best of my knowledge all images (except the ‘modern’ ones) are free of copyright, being owned and made available by various national governments. Where possible I have included the title of the picture to give some sort of background to what it is of. The modern ones are from image search, and uncredited, though may be advertising.

Kiss Me Hardy – Data sheets for Minor ships at Trafalgar Monday, Jan 28 2013 


I’ve previously posted ship data sheets for the ships of the line at Trafalgar for the Too Fat Lardies rules “Kiss Me Hardy”.

http://lasthussar.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/kiss-me-hardy-trafalgar-data-sheets/

 

Here are the other ships present, 5th rates or unrated. They didn’t fight but scouted beforehand or picked up survivors. The Pickle was the ship that took the news of Trafalgar, both the victory and Nelson’s death, back to Britain.

Trafalgar minor ships

Getting Old Friday, Jan 11 2013 


Picked up my first pair of glasses today (proper prescription glasses, not shades).

I’ve always had good eyesight, often surprising the opticians with what I can read – I can read the 4.5 meter line on a chart. My last test was 3 years ago, and I was due back a year ago, on a two year recall. I never quite got round to booking the appointment.

However over the last couple of months I’ve noticed it was taking a second or two to snap into focus when reading smaller fonts, so I finally made an appointment. As suspected I need reading glasses.

Its odd, because I’m not used to having anything on my face, its going to take time to ignore the weight on my nose, and the fact the pages and VDU are now framed. Also I ONLY need reading glasses – I still have ‘fighter pilot vision’ as the opthalmist called it; better than 6/6 (20/20). This means when I’m wearing the glasses anything more than arms length away goes blurry as my distance vision kicks in and wonders what idiot put these lenses in the way!

So now if someone talks to me while I work I look up at a slightly fuzzy person. Sitting on my laptop I perched them on the end of my nose, so I look at the screen through them, but can watch TV over the top!

Making cards for Two Fat Lardies games Monday, Dec 17 2012 


Fans of Two Fat Lardies games will be used to making cards for the games.  This can be a bit of a hassle-  doing it in either a word-processor or a graphics package is a pain.

HOWEVER

You can download the Magic Set Editor.  This lets you make extra cards (no making your own packs/duplicates of rare cards!) for your favourite card games

http://magicseteditor.sourceforge.net/

You can download lots of different templates (make you own Top Trumps!)

Examples for ‘I ain’t been shot mum’

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lasthussar/sets/72157632271073354/

I then use artscow to print off packs.  You need 54 cards (artcow allows you 2 jokers), plus a card back.  You can choose to have the suits on or off the cards.

http://www.artscow.com/

The cards are very good quality, comparable to ‘proper cards’.

You may say ‘Hold on that’s £7 a pack’.  Yes (however they are always giving out promo codes), but how much do figures cost? Terrain?  Lets face it, its only 2-3 beers.  Wargamers spend lots, another few pounds for good quality cards is surely worth the investments

Dr S-Who-se Thursday, Oct 25 2012 


I have a Cat in a Hat now.  Cats in Hats are cool.

I’m The Doctor, but don’t ask Who

Just meet my old girl, dressed in blue

You may find me a wily old fox

And not a madman in a box.

 

Travel through time, and travel through space

To anywhen, and anyplace.

From Big Bang to Big Crunch

To farthest star then back for lunch.

 

Remember, I never ever use a gun.

So when danger comes I’ll just shout RUN

I sonic open the strongest locks

But I am not a madman in a box

 

I’ll wear a scarf, or fez or suit

And piece of salad, or Converse boot.

Destroyer of Worlds, the Bringer of Darkness

The Oncoming Storm (All me, not Harkness)

 

You’ll see pits and quarries that all look the same

Monsters of ice, beasts of flame

There may be homicidal pepperpots

Who are scared of a madman in a box

 

Fixed points in time cannot be changed,

For reasons mad, weird or deranged,

There’s one more thing, now let me think,

Ah yes, you must never ever blink.

 

So as I travel through time and space

With Sarah-Jane, the Ponds and Ace,

Through the thrills, the spills and shocks,

I most definitely am a madman in a box!

(Second) First game of Dux Britanniarum Sunday, Sep 30 2012 


Dux Britanniarum (DB henceforth) is the new Early Medieval (aka Dark Ages) game from the Two Fat Lardies.  I had played in the demo game at the Newbury Wargames Show about a month ago, but Friday night was the first time I’d played where I had any true grasp of the rules.  The are specifically designed for the early period, Romano British v invading Saxons, 5th century stuff, though they could easily be used with later periods.

My regular opponent ‘Sunjester’ had bought the rules, along with the card packs (more later) for £25, as he had lots of 25mm figures that hadn’t seen a table for some years.  The book is approx 100 pages from the look of it, printed on high quality glossy paper in colour and ‘perfect bound’, similar to the TFL recent releases ‘I Ain’t Been Shot Mum’ (version 3) and ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’.  The pro’s and cons of the increase of production values is argued on wargame fora across the internet, so I won’t go into them here, except to say I liked the general look.  The card packs are playing card sized, rather than the oversize cards produced for IABSM.

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