The Deck – Day Two

I had some work planned today (actual work overtime style) so didn’t expect to get into the garden.  However, the servers behaved and it took just under 3 hours (9am-11:30am) instead of the planned 5 (9am-11:30am), and I couldn’t resist getting the saw out and having another go at the deck.  I was feeling pretty positive and upbeat and that translated into a serious amount of work.  The deck is now gone, with Grete’s help, and we can finally use the garden furniture we bought several years ago without having to sit in the grass.  Now we just need to tidy up the metal brackets in the walls, sort out the wood that we have to leave in (it’s supporting a fence panel but needs repairing and protecting) and then see what we’re going to do with the concrete.  We’re looking at modular decking at the moment which you can just lay on top of solid surfaces.

Bubbles isn’t happy – but she’ll adapt.

From The Garden

Gardens and Decks and Saws Oh My!

The people who built the deck at the rear of our house used regular wood (not treated) and regular screws (not the kind of things you should be using  outdoors), and so slowly the deck has rotted away.  We got a quote a few days ago for someone to take it away and replace it – £2600 or there-abouts – which is well out of our price range.

We knew there was a concrete patio under the deck, so rather than not be able to go out at all, we decided to get rid of the deck ourselves.

I thought I’d put up some pictures showing the history of our garden, including the start of the deck removal process.  You can check them out on Picasa over here.  I took up the first batch of planks using a regular hand saw, but man that was a lot of effort, so we popped out and bought a power saw.  That made it more – exciting – certainly.

I won’t tell you in full detail how we got the rails around the top of the decking down because it’ll only scare you as much as it scared me.

So much for me deciding I was going to have a lazy day playing Lord of the Rings, apparently I won’t let myself be lazy at the moment.

From The Garden

Well, D&D 4E

I enjoyed running it a lot, I hope the players enjoyed playing it as much.  It’s hard work running 4e encounters, but it’s not totally stressful, just hard work.  In a good way.

We got four characters rolled up and two encounters out of the way between about 7:30pm and 1:30am including some socialising, some talking to NPC’s and a tiny bit of travel.

Good times.

D&D 4E

So, you’ve got 14 monsters in the encounter, say 10 Goblin Cutters, 3 Goblin Warriors and a Goblin Hexer.  They’re all on your battle map along with your four or five PC’s.

You’ve done the work and you know the order your monsters are going in, but, how do you remember which Goblin Cutter is which? I wonder what the best way of identifying them is.  There’s plenty of suggestions on the web about marking them with conditions (like marked, slowed, etc.) but nothing I can find using lazy-google-fu about just tracking which bloody one is which.

I might try sticking a small bit of paper underneath each one with a number on it for now.

Sun worshipping cats

Sun worshipBubbles (our older cat) loves the sun.  She’s got really thick fur but doesn’t let that stop her baking herself as often as she can.  The deck is a real sun trap and as soon as the sun starts hitting it she’s out there, absorbing the rays.  Sometimes she looks aware, sometimes she sits around and sometimes, she just flakes out.  Fizz is the black cat in this picture, I think she’s making sure Bubbles (the ginger one) is ok.  Click the picture for the full size version.

We’ve had loads of sun this weekend, and the cats always keep us company when we’re in the garden doing anything – so Bubbles has been really happy – but this shot just sums her up during the summer.

A day of stuff

My advice is look away now if you’re not interested in reading the litany of DIY / Gardening activities that made up our weekend.  I’ll even put a cut in for you so you don’t accidentally see boring photo’s of flowers, painted walls, borders and coat hooks.

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I hate printers

I’ve had a hate / hate relationship with printers from the day I got a thermal printer for my ZX Spectrum and it has lasted throughout my entire computing career.  There have been two highlights in that period, my Panasonic KXP1124i 24 pin dot matrix printer which I purchased around 1991 and my HP LaserJet 4L which I purchased sometime around 1993.  Those printers served me well and they just worked (mostly), the LaserJet made it around 10 years.  Every other printer I’ve dealt with on a home user level or at work has been painful and annoying.  Printers see me coming, they refuse to work, they jam, they eat paper, they randomly drop words, they do everything in their power to make turning electricity into print as painful as possible.

I had the HP LaserJet 4L for an age, and it kept going and going.  Eventually we sort of stopped needing a printer and it sat for a very long time unused.  Then we got a very cheap Inkjet (I forget why) which was terrible, and refused to print more than a few test pages.  We went back to using the LaserJet but it was showing it’s age.  We got another one maybe two Inkjets, the last one was a Lexmark all-in-one, which seemed okay, but after only a few weeks the ink in the print heads dried up and caused issues.  New cartridges worked for a very short time and then did the same thing, we relegated it to a scanner and then moved it upstairs.  The LaserJet came back out – but now it had sat for a long time, and the cartridge was struggling, it gave off a pretty serious burning smell when used and the noise sounded like we were using small cats as paper, flattening them with the rollers.

We gave up on printing.  Who needed it anyway?  Spengler said print was dead in 1984 and I was beginning to believe him.

Then along came roleplaying and suddenly I need to print stuff again.  Character sheets, maps, encounter tracking sheets.  I wasn’t about to be thwarted again.  I know a friend who’s technical opinion I trust very well likes HP printers and has had one without issue for a little while so I started looking at those.  If I was to avoid having a 10 foot USB cable or buying a cabinet then it only made sense to get a wireless one.  HP do quite a nice little all-in-one (the C4585) and we just got back with it – very impressed so far, I hope the ink cartridges hold out.

NB: If you own an HP C4585 and they suck, don’t tell me.  I don’t care.  It’s too late.  I bought it already.

I get to GM!

We’ve been playing D&D 4e for a few months now and it’s cool.  When you roleplay in your late 30’s, there’s a lot of life that can get in the way, kids, work, a bunch of stuff, so just getting together once a week can be a challenge.  But we’ve managed it mostly and our characters are coming along and we’re just setting off on another quest.

We’re also getting another player in the group but he can only play every other week, so rather than force him to miss out on some games we decided to run another game and alternate them.  And I get to run it!

Which means I just spent a whole wad of cash I don’t have on a bunch of D&D rulebooks I’ll probably use 5% of, to match the other dozens of rulebooks I have that I’ve never used 😉