2017 Trip to Strasburg

This past weekend, Gwen and I took the twins up to Strasburg, PA for a weekend getaway, accompanied by both my Mom and Dad and Gwen’s Mom and Dad. For those not aware, Strasburg is a big railfanning hotspot. Within a mile or so radius, you can find the Strasburg Railway, the National Toy Train Museum, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and the Red Caboose Motel.

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Wait…what month is it?!

Obviously, I’ve been blowing off my blogging for some time now. This hasn’t been out of a conscious decision so much as it has been a classic case of procrastination combined with legitimately being very busy with work, the boys, and my other hobbies. And so, no updates since the end of February…until now. It’s gotten so bad, I can’t stand it any longer, so here we are! Lots have happened over the last 4 months, so this post will be more of a short summary than anything else.

March

Adepticon was the biggest thing that happened for me in March. I had a great time, as always! I had planned to participated in a Dystopian Wars tournament, a Firestorm Armada tournament, and a Battlefleet Gothic tournament. I did pretty well in the Dystopian Wars event, taking 3rd place! I didn’t do as well in Firestorm Armada, but that’s to be expected. Unfortunately, I got hit with some kind of bug and wound up missing the BFG tournament to stay in bed. Yikes! I did take lots of pictures, though, which I posted over on Man Battlestations.

April

This was a busy month! Easter, Gwen’s Birthday, and the Submarine Ball were all packed into April. As a result, the month seemed to fly by in a blur of activity. We tried a little Easter egg hunt for the boys this year, and it went…sort of ok.

The problem we had is that they didn’t want to give up the egg they had to pick up another! The Sub Ball was a good time. Gwen and I had skipped it last year, since the boys were so small. This year, though, we got Gwen’s parents to baby-sit and headed up to the ball. It was a fun date night out for both of us!

Gwen’s birthday went off pretty well. I set up a nice little party here at our house for her, with her parents, brother and sister-in-law and their kids in attendance.

Wedged in  there was a little home appliance repair; the dryer stopped heating, and after doing a little digging around online I was able to successfully troubleshoot the problem and fix it with a new heating element.

May

May was another busy month, with our first family vacation and my Birthday. Our vacation was a trip down to Florida. We took the Auto Train down and back, which in and of itself is enough to get me excited! While we were there, we stayed with Gwen’s aunt and uncle. Before we came back to Virginia, we also went to Disney World for a day and hit the Magic Kingdom so the boys could meet Mickey.

June

Which brings us to June! This month, James and William turned 2, and I also volunteered to escort a WWII veteran during the Battle of Midway celebration. The ceremonies surrounding the 75 anniversary of the Battle of Midway were very moving, and the veterans were amazing people to talk and listen to. They all had a lot of interesting stories to tell.

 

The boys’ 2nd birthday party went very well! We made it a smaller affair this year, and just had my Mom & Dad (visiting from Indiana for most of the month), Gwen’s Mom and Dad, and her brother and sister in law and their kids. We were able to get them to eat a little more of their birthday cupcakes than we did last year!

That should pretty much get us caught up on the goings on of the last few months! Until next time…

 

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Charging Ahead

Greetings! A lot has been happening since the last time I posted, and I wanted to get this one up before the calendar ticked over to March.

The Twins

William and James are doing great! William is really into rolling toy cars and balls around the floor at the moment, and James is big into throwing and spinning things. They are both getting closer to walking, with James in the lead. He is actually starting to take a few tentative steps between pieces of furniture, so we are definitely in trouble! Both of them have been going to regular physical therapy sessions to improve their motor skills and get them caught up with their developmental milestones. It is amazing watching them explore and start to understand their world. I just wish they would stop eating the dropped (and now slightly fuzzy!) snacks that they find under the couch.

The Navy

I have a big turning point coming up in my career this year; I did not get selected to be a Submarine XO last year, which means that the time has come to investigate other opportunities. For now, I’m looking at other opportunities within the Navy, which means I will be submitting a package to the Spring 2017 lateral transfer board. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Miniature Gaming

So far, it seems like I’ve been able to keep about 30-45 minutes a day to goof around with my hobbies, generally while the boys are napping or after they have gone to bed (any more than that and I start to cut into my sleep time, not that I’m unwilling to do so). Miniature gaming has been the focus of this limited free time for me lately, as I plan on attending Adepticon next month and have a lot to do to get ready. A big part of those preparations has been building and painting some miniatures that I plan on using at the show, as well as practicing some of the scenarios that will be used in the tournaments I’m registered for. Suffice to say, I’m starting to get really excited for the show, but all of these preps have cut into the time I have had for other leisure activities like video games!

Podcasting

The MBS Podcast is going strong. In fact, I’m working on editing Episode 16 this week, and should have that up in a day or two. I’ve been really enjoying the podcaster experience; developing show outlines, recording the audio, and editing have all be scratching a creative itch for me that I first realized I had back in  middle school when I was on the A/V club. In fact, I’ve been enjoying myself so much that I’ve started working on a second show! I’ll have more to say about that in a future post.

Until Next time!

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Gaming Retrospective: The Wild West Shootout

The year 2012 was very memorable for me. My wife and I moved twice that year, and I went through one of the more challenging phases of my career as I prepared to assume the duties of a submarine department head and return to sea. In addition to all of that upheaval, this year was also a big one for me as a gamer. It was in 2012 that I went to my first convention (and, incidentally my first Geek Nation Tours), played in my first 40k tournaments, met tons of great folks who I am friends with to this day, and in general greatly expanded the horizons of my hobby. This post is a little bit of a retrospective on the first of the two conventions I went to in 2012: The Wild West Shoot-out (WWSO) 2, held in Mesa, Arizona five years ago this month.

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Happy New Year!

Whew, it has been a very hectic couple of weeks. Thanks to my business trips, our holiday prep time was severely curtailed, which meant that Gwen and I were doing crazy things like taking the boys to see  Santa…on the 23rd of December. As one might expect, the lines to see the Big Man were extravagant…we waited with the boys for three hours before we finally got to the front and had our pics taken! Then, of course, was the shopping; Gwen finished hers up on Christmas Eve, while I was at home working on wrapping stuff. I finally got everything wrapped around 2 AM Christmas Morning; Gwen was up until 3. And, on top of all of that, James had a medical emergency the Tuesday before Christmas that resulted in a trip to the Emergency Room and the removal of his left testicle (ouch!) All in all, this was a strange and very hectic holiday season for us. However, it was also a good and blessed one; our sons were both healthy and home with us on Christmas, and we all got to spend some quality time together over the holidays. And, after all the hustle and bustle, the dust has thankfully settled somewhat. Now, it’s time to take on 2017!

Looking ahead, Gwen and I are looking forward to taking William and James out more now that they are a little older. There are all kinds of interesting things to do with them in the area. We are also planning on taking them down to Florida in May for Gwen’s Aunt’s wedding. I’m really looking forward to that one, as we plan on taking the Amtrak Auto Train, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. It will also be an opportunity to introduce the boys more fully to the joys of train travel. Also on the train-nut agenda is a potential trip up to Strasbourg, PA to see the Strasbourg Railway and the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. However, the immediate next big thing for all of us is an impending trip to Indiana in a couple of weeks. My sister Sarah and brother in law Chris recently moved into a new home, and we are planning on visiting them to have a belated holiday celebration. The only worry at this point is some sort of winter weather event shutting us down. Fingers crossed…

The coming year is also looking pretty good to me from a hobby perspective; there are some cool new things coming out for some of my favorite games, like Dystopian Wars, and I am also starting to play variants of a couple of games I already own; Team Yankee for Flames of War, and KonfliKt 47 for Bolt Action. I’m also looking at going to some conventions again. I’ve already reserved my badge for Adepticon, going as part of the Geek Nation Tour again. That will probably be my biggest gaming trip/event for the year. I’m also looking at attending some other events, but Adepticon is the only one (as of now) where I’m planning on staying on-site the entire weekend.

Until next time!

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The Fallon “Petting Zoo”

As I mentioned in my previous update, I was at Naval Air Station Fallon this past week for a conference. Near the building where that conference was being held is what the aviators refer to as the “petting zoo,” which is a static display of a number of US and Russian aircraft. Here are the pictures I took of the display!

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A Stranger in A Strange Land

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Greetings! It sure has been a busy few weeks. Last week and this week I’ve been on the road for work; last week to San Diego, and this week to Fallon, NV. It’s a bit of a bummer to miss this much time with Gwen and the boys this close to Christmas, to say the least. However, the work I’m engaged in has been interesting, at least. It is an interesting experience seeing Fallon for the first time…this place, the home of the “Top Gun” air-to-air weapons school, is deeply  entrenched in the Naval Aviation culture, which is a very different experience for this submariner! Continue reading

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My Adventures With Kerbal Space Program

Space…the final frontier. These are the missions of the intrepid Kerbalnaughts. Their often short-lived mission: To explore strange rocket-powered contraptions, to seek out new ways to blow up on the launchpad due to staging issues, to boldly explode in ways no Kerbal has exploded before!

Here is my Mun base! The Mun is sort of like KSP's version of the Moon.

Here is my Mun base! The Mun is sort of like KSP’s version of the Moon.

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One Year Later

Hard to believe, but Gwen and I have been back in Virginia for a whole year already! Having the boys around makes things seem to fly by quickly. It’s been a busy year! On top of taking care of the boys, we’ve been getting settled into the house, getting used to my new job, and taking some time to make trips to Indiana for family visits. Of course, I’ve also made a few gaming convention trips, but that’s besides the point!

Lately, I’ve been using my limited free time to either work on my Man Battlestations stuff, play video games (specifically, Kerbal Space Program), or paint models, which is why there hasn’t been a ton of updates here. But hey, what else is new! I do have a few more posts planned for the (hopefully) near future, including one on how I’ve been blowing up Kerbals in the name of exploring space. Stay tuned!

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Reading List

One of the activities that had to kind of go by the wayside during my department head tour on the boat was reading; I managed to knock out the occasional novel on weeks where the work on duty days didn’t go too late into the evening, and my discovery of Audible was also a revelation. Still, my To Read pile has been steadily growing over the last several years. So, I thought I would talk about a handful of the ones I’m working on as I try to gain some headway on my backlog!

Fighting the Great War At Sea – Norman Friedman

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This is a timely book given that we are in the centenary of the First World War, and it is by one of my favorite naval historians to boot! This is a well-illustrated and lavishly foot-noted tome that provides both a very good overview of the naval side of the Great War as well as insights that I have not encountered in all of my previous reading on the topic.

 

 

The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene

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This book was a gift from one of my JOs (Thanks Brendan!). I’ve been working on this one during my bus rides to and from work, and its been a very interesting read so far. It goes into the advances modern theoretical physics has made with string theory, but does so in way that is accessible even to History majors like me. If you ever wanted to know more about the stuff Sheldon talks about on Big Bang Theory, this is the book for you.

 

Makers of Modern Strategy – Peter Paret, Editor

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I just received this as a gift from a friend (Thanks Ben!) who had two copies of the book. It is a collection of essays that discuss influential strategic thinkers and their works from Machiavelli to the nuclear age. I’ve only had time to skim a few of the essays so far, but this looks like it will be a fascinating survey of centuries of strategic development.

Until next time!

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