It’s All Been Said Before

December 31, 2010

As the title says, I’m not really sure if there’s anything I can add that my cousin hasn’t already said in her post, so I’ll just go with the tried and trusted fallback of greeting everyone who’s somehow managed to stumble unto this little online journal that we share a very happy (and hopeful) New Year. While it won’t guarantee that one will continue to be happy throughout the subsequent year, at least that person can welcome the upcoming year with their best face, so to speak.

So what do I have planned? Well it would have been nice to drop by Yssa’s house for New Years, the neighborhood is already resounding with the explosions of firecrackers, which more or less means that I’d be crazy to even think of going out tonight. I’ll just have to comfort myself with a nice dinner and a call to the folks overseas, before staying up late for the midnight countdown.

Then after that? Maybe another jog so I can capture the first sunrise of the New Year on camera.


Biding Time

December 31, 2010

It’s still several hours until the New Year, and I’m finding myself with nothing to do.  Ah, as my father likes to say, if you don’t have something to keep yourself busy with, find something to keep yourself busy with. And with the backlog I’ve accumulated over the past three months, hobby-wise, that’s easy.

So it’s pretty much either anime, reading, or model painting. Hmm, it’s the last day of 2010 so what the heck, I’ll do bits and pieces of all three.  Let’s see… I enjoyed the second season of Hayate no Gotoku very much (the fact that it was almost 100% true to the manga was a plus), so I’ll watch that, but probably after I read the book I received from the Secret Santa we had in the office (Bob Ong’s ABNKKBSNPLAKo?, otherwise read as Aba, Nakakabasa na pala ako?).  Since there’s obviously still going to be a few hours left over, I’ll then try to paint as much of the Venerable/Ironclad Hybrid Dreadnought that’s been sitting in my cupboard.

After that? Well obviously it’s the midnight countdown, watching the fireworks and avoiding the exploding firecrckers, then finally traditional New Year dinner. Then, Haruhi willing, a nice nap before an early-morning jog to greet the first sunrise of 2011.

So, I better get started.

Oh, and a Happy New Year to everyone out there who happens to read this post (somehow)!

Something of My Own

December 30, 2010

Since my cousin has obviously gotten into the groove of journal writing, I figure I could just leave the blog to her and drop by every so often to post my thoughts on my rather odd (for your average white-collar city dweller that is) and expensive hobbies (lets face it, computer gaming and Warhammer are both very expensive), but even I get this… itch, to talk about the stuff going on in my mind during the workday.  Now, I’m not a very voluble person, and while I enjoy the company of my co-workers, there’s nothing more that would make me happy than curling up in a hidden corner somewhere in the office (away from all those security cameras!) and either just taking a nap or, even better, read a book.

I haven’t been able to do that lately. Just reading a book for the sake of, well, reading. Even in the tail end of the holiday season, it’s been pretty hectic, and there are times where I’m just drained. Yssa knows the feeling well, when you’re just so tired that the sleep of the dreamless is not only welcomed, but sought out.

While I don’t seem to have a surplus of time to spend on reading books, I do seem to be building up quite an ever-growing pile of the things, and this is ignoring the presents I received for Christmas, one of which is the second Ciaphas Cain omnibus (Defender of the Imperium) from Yssa. Now that’s something I want to set aside some time to read through.  Say what you want about the near-pulp and war porn nature of Warhammer 40000 books from Black Library, the Cain series of books are a welcome contrast, if only because of the fact that the story never seems to take itself seriously even if the world setting is one of the bleakest in speculative fiction. It’s not cerebral in the least, and doesn’t claim to be so, but it’s rollicking fun, and that’s how I like my entertainment to be.

Speaking of simple pleasures, since I technically don’t have work tomorrow, I think I’ll go for a morning jog. God knows it’s been so long since I’ve been able to do so, but that’s largely because of my work schedule. I’ll probably seize up before fifteen minutes, nevermind the hour and a half it normally takes to run my old circuit beside SM Mall of Asia. Ah well, it’ll be worth it, since I’ll be able to watch the last sunrise of 2010. You’ll bet I’ll bring my camera to record that moment.

Raining Away the Old

December 30, 2010

It’s been raining since I got home from work, and while it isn’t exactly what might call a steady downpour, it was enough to coat many of the surfaces outside, from the sidewalks and walkways to the roofs of the houses around the apartment in a layer of moisture. I makes me wonder if it’ll rain like this tomorrow as well, on the eve of the arrival of the New Year, because in a way it seems fitting; the skies cleaning much of the dirt and grime left over from the old year, in preparation for the new.

It’s a romantic notion, to be sure, but I think I’m more interested in the fact that, should it rain tomorrow evening, there’ll be less people lighting up firecrackers, which means that there would be less noise from all the explosions going off. I understand it’s tradition and all, something to drive away all the bad luck spirits (something brought over by the Chinese), but is it too much to ask for a relatively quiet welcome to the New Year?

I suppose not.

While I won’t have any work tomorrow (as it’s my scheduled rest day), we’re really not sure if my sister or her boyfriend will be able to join us for the late-night dinner and count-down to midnight, so that would mean that it’s just me, my father, and my cousin in the house tonight. Knowing my sister though, I’m sure that she’ll find some excuse to not go to work, and given the fact that she’s a quality assurance officer, she’d get away with it too.

Speaking of the New Year’s Eve dinner, I wonder if the closest thing I have to a osananajimi (kind of an ‘adopted cousin’ at this point, and she lives next door too… technically) will be able to join us. I’d be lying if I said that we’re still close, but after all of the family problems she’s been having, well, being able to sit down with people who she’d be able to have a relatively normal dinner with, and not have it escalate into a shouting match, might be good for a change. That is of course, unless she makes another excuse to go to her friend’s place.

Hmm, come to think of it we have a few bottles of red wine left over from Christmas. It’s been a while since we’ve shared more than a friendly drink with ate, and frankly I want to see if she can still drink me under the table.

Rainy Days and Month’s End

December 29, 2010

I was finally able to view my final grades for the term, and I can’t help but feel somewhat relieved that, against all reason, I seemed to have gotten a grade of 3.5 (for reference, the highest possible grade in DLSU is a 4.o) for both of my subjects this term. It seems incredible for me, especially when one considers the fact that I seemed to have been blundering through my classes for the duration of the term. Let me tell you, it was not one of my better semesters at DLSU and yet here I am, still somehow making the cut for the Creative Writing program.

At this point, I’m probably at one might consider the half-way point of the Master’s degree program, but if anything that gives me no comfort, as things will very likely start to escalate from this point… Or at the very least, come the enrollment period in June. Seeing as I’ve been mostly getting by through the skin of my teeth, well, I obviously have to shape up academically somehow.

Which is why the upcoming term worries me somewhat. Technically, I can only enroll one subject, as all the other subjects on offer I’ve either taken already, or I haven’t taken the prerequisites for. That’s not good at all, as at the very least I’ll be delayed in graduating because I don’t have enough units, and at worst, well, since I could only take up one class I won’t have a virtual safety net for my Average if things go wrong.

I’m trying to be hopeful, really, since it’s almost the New Year, but like the rain clouds that seemed to have followed me on the way home from work this morning, my anxieties keep on lingering at the edge of my mental horizons.

Of House Rules and Personal Foibles

December 29, 2010

Trust me, this is only because of the holidays, which pretty much means I have a lot of free that I normally wouldn’t have… Which means I have actually have time to waste thinking of subjects related to my hobbies. This could range from the gamut, from books to anime to, not surprisingly, Warhammer 40000.  What follows concerns the latter.

This might be just a pet peeve of mine, but I’m more than a little disappointed at the lack of options for customization for the Chapter Masters of a ‘vanilla’ Space Marine Chapter.  While they’re not lacking in options equipment-wise, I they’ve been thoroughly shafted in terms of ability.  Compared to the Company Captain, the only real difference they have stat-wise and ability-wise is the Chapter Master’s ability to call down an Orbital Bombardment once per game (for 25 points). That’s… not very impressive, really, for someone who’s supposed to be the leader of the Angels of Death.

It’s no wonder why the Captain is a better deal, points-wise.

Of course there’s always the route of assigning house rules to represent the ‘uniqueness’ of the Chapter Master of your personal Chapter, but without a clear baseline of abilities to compare to it’s very easy to create an over-the-top character that might more or less count as an extension of the term “I’m Awesome!”.  If a player somehow manages to restrain themselves from adding over-the-top abilities to their custom Chapter Master, there’s still the issue of getting the opponent to agree to having the model fielded in a game.  I suppose it’s not a problem in a casual game though, but not all players one meets in a store will be so amenable.

Speaking of baselines, let’s compare how the Chapter Masters of the big-name Chapters measure up to each other in 5th Edition:

Marneus Calgar of the Ultramarines: A 250-point monstrosity, Calgar has 1 more wound than your ‘vanilla’ Chapter Master, as well as the Eternal Warrior trait, which means that he can’t be killed by so-called ‘instant death’ attacks.  He has two skills: Titanic Might, which lets him re-roll To-Wound attempts from damage he dealt via shooting or close combat; and God of War, which allows him to voluntarily pass or fail any Morale Check he has to make, and as long as he is on the table all units with Combat Tactics can do so as well.  He allows two more additional Honor Guard squads to be taken during a game. Finally, he has a unique weapon (the Gauntlets of Ultramar), and the option to take a suit of Terminator Armor with a built-in Teleport Homer.

Pedro Cantor of the Crimson Fists: Cantor weighs in at a relatively more reasonable 175 points. He uses the standard Chapter Master stat array. He gives the ability to make Sternguard Squads scoring units, and any friendly unit within 12 inches of him gain an additional attack, although he himself isn’t affected by this ability. He also has a unique weapon (Dorn’s Arrow).

Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves: Grimnar is another 200+ point monster (275 points to be exact), who has Acute Senses and Counter-Attack (innate for all Space Wolves), as well as the Eternal Warrior and Stubborn traits. He has two unique abilities: Living Legend, which is similar to Cantor’s ability, but instead of just 12 inches every friendly unit within eighteen (!!) inches gain an additional attack for one turn, though this could only be done once per game; and The High King, where he can confer a unit with one of the following abilities for a single player turn–Tank Hunter, Fearless, Relentless, or Preferred Enemy. In addition, he makes all Wolf Guard units Troops.  Much like his contemporaries, he has a unique weapon (the Axe of Morkai).

Commander Dante of the Blood Angels: At 225 points, Commander Dante is less pricier than his fellows, and like Calgar has an additional Wound point more than the ‘default’ Chapter Master array. Because he comes equipped with a Jump Pack, he access to the Descent of Angels trait. He has two abilities: Tactical Precision, which mean he and the squad he is attached to don’t scatter after Deep Striking; and Surgical Strike, where he and the squad he is attached to have the Hit and Run ability. Dante allows Sanguinary Guard to be taken as Troops. Finally, he has two unique pieces of wargear (the Death Mask of Sanguinius and the Axe Mortalis).

Gabriel Seth of the Flesh Tearers: Much cheaper than Dante, Seth comes in at a mere 160 points. He has one more Wound point than the vanilla Chapter Master stat array, and comes with two abilities: Whirlwind of Gore, which allows him to automatically hit all enemy models in base contact with him; and Ferocious Instincts, where any enemy units unlucky enough to roll a 1 to hit Seth get automatically hit with an attack at Seth’s base Strength. He has a single unique wargear equipped (the giant chainsword Blood Reaver).

I won’t mention the Chapter Masters that have been featured in Imperial Armour 9: The Badab War part 1 yet, as I’m still waiting on the second part, but given the examples given above it’s easy to see how merely having Orbital Bombardment does not a flavorful Chapter Master make.

Holidays On My Own

December 29, 2010

(Myssa’s Note: This is the short vignette I wrote during Christmas Eve. Unlike the character here, I spent my Christmas eve with my father, sister, as well as cousin.)

Something definitely felt missing. At least, that was what Samantha thought, after she tasted some of the spaghetti sauce she was preparing. More  sugar she supposed; the can of sauce she had used had been labeled as ‘Italian-Style’ after all, so it was more than a little bitter for her palate. She placed the soup spoon she had been using to stir the sauce down on the kitchen counter, and turned down the dial on her stove.

It wouldn’t do if the sauce boiled over, she thought.

Standing on her tip-toes, she opened up the cupboards that were located just above the simmering spaghetti sauce, and looked at it’s contents for a few moments before she found what she was looking for. She leaned in a little to reach in, and retrieved a small jar filled half-way with brown sugar.

Samantha pried open the jar, and reached out for the soup ladle again, and scooped out just enough sugar to fill it before releasing its contents into the steaming sauce mix.  She stirred the mixture a few times, before tasting the sauce again.  Hmm, just about right she supposed.  She nodded to herself, before turning the dial again on the stove, this time to increase the fire.  It wouldn’t be too long before the soup was ready.

She glanced up at the clock that hung on the wall to her left. It was already ten thirty in the evening, it seemed.

Samantha wiped her hands on the small apron she was wearing, and walked over to the kitchen table, her brown ponytail swaying as she did.  On it sat a large white bowl filled with the pasta she had prepared earlier, as well as a small bottle of red wine.  Beside these was a two-liter plastic bottle of diet cola, as well as a small stack of pure-wheat bread.  For a noche buena spread it was simple, but she wasn’t expecting any guests for Christmas Eve anyway, so it was just fine.

She cradled the bowl of pasta in one arm, and took both the bottle of wine and cola in the other, and walked over to the nearby living room.  She placed these on top of the low-Japanese style table, beside the small poinsettia-decorated Christmas Tree that served as its centerpiece, and she returned to the kitchen to retrieve the platter of bread, as well as a larger plate for herself, a spoon and fork resting on top of the latter. She placed these down as well, before she returned to the kitchen one final time to turn off the stove as well as the gas.

Samantha took off the lid of the saucepot, and breathed in the fragrance of the newly-cooked pasta sauce. It wasn’t a kitchen masterpiece, that was for sure, but it sure smelled mouth-watering.  She took out a small bowl from the cupboard, and filled it with just enough sauce for two plates of spaghetti.  She then replaced the cover on the pot, and with bowl in hand walked back to the living room.  She placed the bowl beside the food already waiting on the living room table, then sat down on the sofa.

She took a brief glance at her wrist watch, and noted that it was almost fifteen minutes to eleven in the evening.  Although she had started relatively late, there was still a lot of time left before midnight.  Now what to do until then?

I suppose I could call home, Samantha thought as she leaned back against the sofa’s comfortable backrest.  Then another thought occurred to her: Wait, aren’t they still at mass at this hour? It was a tradition for the family, at least the ones who still lived in her hometown of San Lazaro, to go to usually the Christmas Eve mass together.  Which means that there wouldn’t be anyone at the house to answer the phone.

Well I could always call them after midnight, she mused, as she opened the book that was had been sitting beside her on the sofa. Ah, The Children of Hurin, she noted as she idly flipped through its pages.  Samantha supposed that the book was as good a diversion as any while she waited for midnight, and so settled into a more comfortable position on the sofa, and began to read.

It wasn’t the most exciting way to spend Christmas, but it suited her just fine.