Building a Dice Box

I had absently considered getting one of these. Basically it’s a box that you keep your dice in. They also provide you a space to roll your dice in, so they don’t go all over the table (and onto the floor etc).

But wasn’t really giving it serious thought as most of my gaming is online, which includes the dice. Except as DM, I tend to roll that physically.

So with that idea floating about in the back of my head, I was in Bunnings the other day and passed through the kids craft area when I spotted this.

And then I had some inspiration.

So I took it home and broke out the kids acrylic paints.

And I was mostly happy with the result.

The whole thing is black, and I’ll paint the book’s pages some kind of off white.

I added a felt liner to soften the dice rolling. It still needs some tidying along the edges in this photo.

Next, I decided that the magnetic catch wasn’t going to be secure enough and added an extra catch on the outside.

So almost complete.

Still to do – to paint the pages, tidy the felt and decorate the spine and back. I plan to have DICE in dwarven runes along the spine, and a wireframe d20 on the rear.

Would we have stayed?

New Years Eve turned out a little more stressful than expected. We hadn’t planned a trip into the city to watch the fireworks, rather a peaceful yummy dinner at home and staying to watch the TV coverage. You only miss out on the physical part of the fireworks – the thumps and thuds of the explosions.

About 6pm I was attracted to some sirens that sounded like they were getting close. We have a main road nearby and often emergency vehicles do use it and it can sound quite close. This sounded closer so I glanced out the window to see a fire truck come up the street, heading to the bush about 15 houses down.

With the current climate, it was with some dread that I looked down the road. About 40 mins ago, the wind had changed from a light NE breeze (that was really hot) to a strong southerly (but still, really a breeze) that had already dropped us from the 40ish to low 30s. There was a strong line of smoke from the bush to the south east of our house, perhaps a km away.

This is the view from my front door. The fire is just the other side of the trees in the far background, and burning fiercely, though we didn’t know that.

From our place it was hard to see exactly how big or where the fire was. And for about the next hour it stayed pretty much as seen above. In the meantime, several fire trucks came and went and many police cars. As well as many spectators. We also got a Fire Dept warning on our mobiles to seek shelter. It sounded pretty bad.

We made some plans to leave. I started to organise some belongings while Mrs Mab called a friend to see if they could put us up. I had no plans to fight any fire, we would leave. In this densely packed suburb, there is a lot to burn, houses go up really fast (and burn well with lots of terrible smoke) and there would be no real way out. Staying would be stupid if it came to that.

After about an hour the fire was marked down to Yellow alert, so we prepared dinner. By after dinner it had become Blue, the lowest threat. Still kept an eye on it, but the wind had pushed it away. It wasn’t until we saw some news coverage of the blaze, just over the hill, that we saw what we had narrowly avoided.

This was just over the hill out of sight.
It’s amazing that this massive smoke looked so small and of little concern from our view.

The next morning the mini Mabs and I headed down the cycle path to see what we could after the fire.

What we certainly didn’t expect was for the fire to still be going and have actually come closer to our house, now perhaps 500m.

What we found the next day. The firies are just out of shot on the left.

But instead of tree height flames, these were a much less threatening hip height or less. The firies seemed to be monitoring rather than actually fighting it. However there were several spots, including at the end of a cross street only perhaps 10-15 houses away. Again, these were well attended.

So as we go into New Years Day afternoon, the fires are still burning. We have some things gathered in case we need to leave, but mostly its a watch and wait. If the wind picks up and especially if it turns more westerly, I think we might just leave.

Update: (Saturday 4th Jan). The fires continued to abate and it seems the danger has passed. Though there are still fires burning in the forest nearby, these seem to be smouldering trees that aren’t of much concern. We will see what happens today (strong winds and very high temps predicted). Monday it’s supposed to actually rain.

So what happened this year – 2019

About Bikes

Really happy with my decision to change over.

Well the Ninja has been out and about. I’ve put almost 16,000km on her this year and sees me in to the 3rd service since I picked her up, only about this time last year. I really enjoy the bike, and have been slowly tinkering to clean her up and set her up for me (like the awesome top box). I have been to Canberra twice and Newcastle once, but apart from work or commutes, there has been little in the way of fun only rides. Still she suits me well, is much better for what I do than the Daytona.

The Daytona is missed, but would likely have seen a fraction of the kms this year. I hear that almost without being ridden the new owner has sold it to a person down in Melbourne. Hopefully they will use her more.

I also rode a VFR during the year and was totally disappointed. I guess I’m now a 100kW or more rider.

I found this a disappointing ride

I would certainly love a 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 to replace this one, but I’m happy for now.

About Babes

Well I have one in High School now. A few hiccups at first, learning lessons about being responsible and planning your assignments but she seems to have settled in well, making good friends and doing well. The other is in Year 5 in 2020, which means High School too in 2022!

About Bytes

Well of course, there is the recently posted completion of BattleTech. Yay. I did enjoy that.

Lady Arano gets her throne back.

My degree is finished. I am waiting for the official results from the school, but to the best of my information, I’ve passed. I am now a fully qualified but not completely registered Primary School Teacher. Huh. That’s a bit different. (and the lack of study in no small way has contributed to the completion of Battletech!)

Just waiting for the official results

About Other Stuff

Dungeons and Dragons flashed back into my life. After a 30 year hiatus, suddenly I find myself Dungeon Master once a fortnight and ad hoc DM’ing for my daughter through an adventure. I am enjoying the distraction and my players seem to be enjoying my management. The accessibility and the ease of the current rules do help that.

And I think that’s a good summary of my year.

I am not sure where 2020 and especially 2021 will take me. I intend to slowly transition from my current employment into teaching through part time (at work) mixed with casual (at teaching) to ease into it. With the plan to switch completely in 2022. Let’s see what happens.

Smoke.

Red Sunrise (about 3 weeks ago)

This is by far the worst bushfire season I can recall. Now I know my “bushfire memory” only goes back to about 1998, but even with a few big ones in that time (like the Winmalee fire, the massive Canberra fire and one over near Holsworthy) I feel like this is worse. Because each fire is lasting a long time, there are so many at once and they started “early”.

Smoke has affected Sydney, especially Western Sydney (where I work and live) almost every day, for over 4 weeks now. Some days its not bad, but other days it’s like a thick, chocking fog. Even here, more than 40kms for the nearest fire, I’ve had ash a few cm long falling on my car and house. We’ve had fine white ash for days now.

One of the worst at the moment is the fire north of the city. It has burned through over 300,000 hectares (that’s bigger than greater Sydney) since it started over a month ago. It has merged with two other fires as well. All along several of my favourite riding routes people have been evacuated and roads closed. The Putty has been shut for almost three full weeks now. I don’t know how places like Grey Gums, the petrol at Colo Heights and other places are doing. I think that they are safe so far.

Here are the fires today (at about 2pm on Monday 9 December). The black areas are burnt or burning. The faint yellow line through the big northern black area is the Putty. Compare that fire to Sydney just below it.

I keep hoping they’ll open up and then I want to get a few fellow riders from work to go up and at least show some support. But the road stays shut.

Alongside the Putty, the road on the northern side of Wiseman’s Ferry is shut, all the way to Mangrove Mountain. The road from Broke, through Wollombi and to Bucketty is shut too.

Further away, there are fires near Canberra and Bateman’s Bay. I don’t know if any homes have been lost, but I suspect that especially in the Bay fire that some have, it’s just too close to those towns to have been able to save everything.

So the worst bushfires I can remember (and many others as well) are just going on and on. It’s only early December and the summer heat hasn’t started yet. I just hope the fireies can keep going!

Smoke and Sunset (about a week ago)
On the M4, Eastbound on Friday afternoon. I had stopped to wipe ash from my eyes. I’m about 40-50km from the fires and headed away from them!
What it usually look like compared to about 3 weeks ago. Today, this view is even MORE smokey and you cannot even vaguely see the buildings below the hill.

Review – Fitbit Charge 3

Dear Fitbit,

Look I know it’s an activity tracker, not a full on sport watch/GPS thingy, but I have a few concerns.

First up – I need a way to pause or turn off the tracking. I ride a motorcycle and this gets detected as a 35km “outside bike” in 30 mins (with no change to heart rate mind you!). This even happens when I’m not wearing it and have it in my pocket or in my backpack. Heck this would be a pretty awesome “exercise” to have stored, but it also adds floor counts and there is no way to “fix” all this data, skewing my stats for 5 days a week. Never mind the time I rode nearly 200km and this was counted too…. the Fitbit was in my bag the whole time!

Second concern – So I went for a run. It was about 10mins into the run and nothing visible on the device that it had started tracking (I later discovered it had tracked an exercise, but not the GPS). So I manually started it (and it tracked the GPS this time). And at some point it turned this off automatically. And then started to automatically attempt to track on and off a few times, I gave up. Very inconsistent.

On the plus size – it’s small, light and not too hard to read (when I have my glasses on, which isn’t when I’m running) and I like the sleep tracking (though with the earlier problems, I’m not sure it’s accurate anymore).

I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone even half serious about exercise (I’m not sure that counts me in) and more for someone who needs to get up and do something and this would be a good device to track that.

It has been an interesting foray into smart devices and made me more keen on the Apple Watch I will likely replace this with soon.

Thanks

Christchurch

Every time I see news on this or read comments I get a bit choked up about it. I am not really sure why this one has affected me more than any other tragedy.

I have to say I think it’s because it’s New Zealand. While NZ is my homeland, I’ve lived away from it longer than I ever lived there. I’ve got no connections to Christchurch either. No family or friends, I’ve only been there twice for a couple of brief overnights.

I think it’s just because it’s NZ and that this kind of thing just doesn’t happen at home. I can’t make sense of it. I think it helps somewhat that the shooter was a foreigner and not a Kiwi. That would be even more dissociative for me.

I’ve been really proud of the PM and the example she’s set the world. But also the others I’ve seen in the news, even people like the Mongrel Mob and others who would normally be thought to be “outside” the community.

Anyway. I’m not really sure what’s going on but thanks for reading.

2018 in Review

I haven’t written last years review yet, so here goes.

About Bikes

Well a good year for the bikes, finishing on a dramatic change. Most of the year was commuting to work, with the odd day ride squeezed in occasionally. I managed to get my little ones out for a ride and they both enjoyed it.

Of course, there was the big adventure to the MotoGP, only 11 years since the last time. I found some fun roads, I had some great weather, I enjoyed the challenge and the solitude. The Daytona performed excellently for a bike being asked to do something the designers NEVER intended. However well it went though, it wasn’t as easy as it would have been on the VFR so I finally made the decision that was 4 years in the making.

And seemingly fate gave me the chance to swap the bike for the Ninja which I did. Though by the by the end of 2018, I was very uncertain if I had done the right thing. The Daytona was gone and the Ninja sat unridden in the garage, looking dirty and tired.

About babes

The kids… well one finished primary and is off to high school this year! They had a great year, probably they would both count the Japan trip as the highlight, I would put it a tight second after the MotoGP trip. They both enjoyed their ride around the block on the bike too.

About bytes

Well the computers this year have been almost exclusively workhorses, with my study and my girls work as well. I did tuck in to BattleTech and love that. Oh, now that study is on hold….

Oh, I did get the new iMac didn’t I – it seems like so long ago. That was like changing to a new car without even realising. It just doesn’t break down all the time like the old one, but otherwise everything looks the same. And to be honest, I don’t really notice the faster start up etc, because everything is usually open.

The Playstation got retired (faulty wireless board, still works with USB), the Wii got passed to a relative and the kids picked up a Switch. Cool little device that.

About Study

I would love to be saying I’m done, but I have one prac unit left before I graduate. And no certainty of when I will get to do it. Hopefully when I write the 2019 review I will be able say done.

BUT the main thing is that I LOVE IT. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it had it been my thing straight out of Uni, but I think that time in between and the life and experience in that time will set me on a good path to this new career, whenever it is that I actually get started.

Car Drivers are …

I couldn’t think of the right adjective, maybe you can by the end of the story.

Yesterday I filtered to the front of a LONG line of traffic to find a guy trying to push his car across an intersection (this street was really busy, but everyone was turning left or right, straight ahead was quiet and a good place to option for the broken car). He was at the head of the queue, holding all these people up.

I thought I could help out, so pulled in behind him and hopped off the bike. A pedestrian crossing in front jumped in behind as well. As we did another filtering bike turned up and hopped off to help. with the 4 of us, this was an easy job. Actually on flat, pushing a car is pretty easy, its trying to steer/brake as well as pushing that becomes awkward.

So the lights turned green and we pushed off. About halfway we started to yell at the driver, who was pushing from the drivers door, to hop in the car so he could steer and brake. Caused a scary moment as he almost tripped getting in, but he was in and the car pushed across.

We headed back to our bikes just as the light went red, so it was perfectly timed. This meant we had the whole red cycle to get back on. In my case this meant taking off my gloves to fish in my pockets as I couldn’t remember which had my keys.

Not a single car driver moved, the whole time, to help this guy. I don’t know how long he had been there, but the queue behind him was pretty long. As riders, and the pedestrian who was crossing the street, this stuck car would never have held us up. Wasn’t in our way at all. But we all decided to help out. The car drivers, half of whom (there were two lanes turning right, the car was in one of these) were stuck behind him and basically couldn’t move until the broken car was moved….

They just sat there.

Car drivers are….

So 2017… how did it go.

IMG_2269I thought I had written one of these last year, but I didn’t. It was 2015 as I left Canberra.

So.

About Bikes

IMG_1016The Daytona does stirling service in a task it’s not really designed for… my daily commute. It’s had a couple of problems that have been fixed and just ticked over 50,000km. I have decided to replace it, but not sure when or with what. The front runners are still VFR and Ninja 1000. I also look forward to the possibility of a Sydney-Phillip Is MotoGP trip in the coming year… will I still have the Daytona?

I did get out on the track, one less successfully and a second was very rewarding and I do intend to do some more. I got a couple of hours fun up the Old Pac as well. I’m still slow by comparison, but I enjoy it. Sadly its currently in the shop over my Christmas break as the shifter stopped working properly and of course the parts supplier had already shut for the holidays.

IMG_2302I also discovered after a morning with a Bonneville, that I basically love riding, no matter the bike. There are some bikes I’ve ridden that I’ve liked less than others, but I’ve still liked the actual riding.

About Bike (Bicycles)

Err, they’ve mostly stayed in garage and the suburb, nothing to see here, move along….

IMG_2236

About Bytes

This has mostly had two focus… the limping on of my iMac and several panics as it has almost died. But it lives on as a study device, if not really anything else.

Otherwise it has been a few reviews of random stuff like AirPods and Scala Rider gear.

I have also talked about how I study without paper (mostly).

About Study

Nearly the biggest thing in my life this year has been the switch to Masters and two Practical placements that have encouraged me to think I can actually be a competent Primary Teacher AND I enjoy it. I’m currently in the 4th Study Period of the first year. I am on track to finish the whole thing by about March 2019.

IMG_2532

Sad and confused

Yesterday we had a memorial at work. Over the weekend a colleague committed suicide. She was distraught over the recent death of her boyfriend. 

I didn’t know her too well, worked with her a few times and chatted in the gym a couple of times. But knew her enough that it was saddening both not enough so it was a surprise. Equally, and I feel somewhat guilty about this, I feel a kinda mad at her. 

I’m kinda mad because I want to tell her that things get better. People get through horrifying tragedies and terrible things happening to them. There’s always a light in that tunnel even when it’s pitch black. I’ve been in a couple of pretty black places and even once I did think about suicide. But from my perspective it doesn’t  seem like an answer to anything. But I can’t tell her because I can’t bump into her in the gym anymore. 

So I’m a bit mad. Now there are two grieving families instead of one (the boyfriend was killed in a accident while at work, not suicide) and lots of people hurting. 

And all of these people would have jumped in with both feet to help and support her. I don’t know if she asked anyone. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to strangers and I know she was talking to the padre at work, maybe that helped some.  

So I’m mad, feeling guilty, feeling sad and definitely confused. RIP Aimee and Curtis.