Tuesday, September 30, 2008


This afternoon I took Deb and the girls to Suttons Beach at Redcliffe for a walk along the sand and a paddle in water. It was low-tide and one of the things I noticed was several types of stranded jellyfish.  The one in the image below appears to be a Blue Blubber Jellyfish (Catostylus mosaicus).  The sting can be painful but generally poses no risk to humans.

Australia has many species of jellyfish which can affect humans. The Australian Box Jellyfish is the only proven lethal species but there are many others which can give you bad stings.

In the images below is another type I found.  I have no idea what it is.  I decided to pick it up, wash the sand off it, and take some 'arty' photos. Enjoy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roman Battle Tactics

A parcel arrived for me today. Don't you love it when a parcel arrives addressed to you? It's like a little mini-Xmas or birthday. On opening the well-wrapped package I found that it contained the last of the twelve Osprey books I'd recently won in a competition run by Osprey Publishing through their blog. By the way, if you're interested in military history then you should definitely check out their blog and main website.

A legionary century charging

This was one that I had been eagerly waiting for - Roman Battle Tactics 109BC-AD313. Not only do I enjoy playing war games (both miniature and board) set in ancient times, I also enjoy reading about the history.

This book examines and illustrates the tactics employed by the legions of late Republican and early Imperial Rome, from the evidence of ancient writers.

Some good reading ahead for me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 78

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and my elder daughter, 7 year-old Maddie.

Maddie was playing with her little sister Georgia, so it was just myself and Grandma for the first game. Grandma suggested Scrabble. I checked my stats and found that it had been just over a year since I last played this great game.

Turn 1 [Mum] KEN 14, [Me] GI(N) 8
Turn 2 [Mum] (K)EN 7, [Me] VA(N) 14
Turn 3 [Mum] H(E)/H(I) 18, [Me] DI(VAN) 9
Turn 4 [Mum] D(I)P 12, [Me] REARS/(DIP)S 19
Turn 5 [Mum] B(R)OOd 18, [Me] D(A)VIT 18
Turn 6 [Mum] (G)AG 5, [Me] HAIR/H(A)/A(G) 27
Turn 7 [Mum] (GIN)NY 17, [Me] G(AG)E 12
Turn 8 [Mum] SULLY/(HAIR)S 32, [Me] (T)OOLER 21
Turn 9 [Mum] FA(Y) 13, [Me] (A)WE 14
Turn 10 [Mum] NOT(E) 8, [Me] J(O)IST 24
Turn 11 [Mum] Swapped 5 tiles, [Me] OW(L) 14
Turn 12 [Mum] PU(T) 11, [Me] (JOIST)s/sAIL 21
Turn 13 [Mum] (S)AME 12, [Me] (O)X 17
Turn 14 [Mum] COI(R) 12, [Me] (GAGE)R 8
Turn 15 [Mum] M(E)/M(AN) 15, [Me] RO(V)E/(D)O(ME)/(P)E(N) 19
Turn 16 [Mum] DI(E)/(B)I(D) 14, [Me] Z(E)A(L) 23
Turn 17 [Mum] F(O)B 16, [Me] CU(P) 7
Turn 18 [Mum] (J)A(W)/(F)A(T) 19, [Me] E(L) 2
Turn 19 [Mum] TIN(T)S/T(rove) 15, [Me] QUEE(N) 28
Turn 20 [Mum] (I)T/T(O) 4

Grandma ended the game by playing her last tile. I was left with an E for minus 1 point from my score.

Final scores were me 304 for the win and Grandma 262.

By this time Georgia had gone down for a nap so Maddie joined us for our second game of the morning. I chose The Settlers of Catan.

Now this is a game I purchased over three years ago but had been waiting for an opportune time to play. One of the reasons we had not played before was because I'd been waiting for Maddie to be of an age where she was a competent reader. I was also waiting for a time when she was mature enough to play a game of this relative complexity and length. Now was the time.

Maddie was red, Grandma orange and I was blue

I'd only played The Settlers of Catan once before, but that was over two years ago on 12 June 2006 and I didn't really have a good idea of the rules and strategies at the time. My first game had been with the Catan 3D Collector's Edition owned by Friendless so I was hoping it wouldn't spoil my appreciation of the stock components in the standard game.

We used the standard layout for our first game. Although the red pieces should not be used with three players, as Maddie wanted to play red I just swapped red pieces for the white player's starting position. The pieces are wood and the cards and hex tiles are all very nice.

I can now see why Settlers ranks so highly. It didn't take Maddie and Grandma long to pick up the rules and very soon we were all having a really good time. Although some may see the element of luck in the dice rolling as a negative, I found that the luck evens out and it certainly does create excitement as we waited to see who got what resources each turn.

We played with the resources and development cards open-handed for this first learning game. Next time we'll play with closed hands which will add to the fun. Grandma took an early lead with her ability to get grain/wheat which helped her a lot. Maddie built and kept the longest road and also was good at building settlements. There wasn't that much trading in the early stages of the game but there was some in the mid-to-later game. Grandma and Maddie mostly targeted me with the robber while I targeted Grandma when I could because I felt she was always in the winning position.

And guess what? It was Maddie who actually won! Final scores were Maddie 10, Grandma 7 and myself 5. Naturally Maddie was very excited at winning her first game of Settlers of Catan. Both Grandma and Maddie enjoyed it so much that they both requested we play it again the next time we game together.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thermopylae 480 BC

I arrived home from work this afternoon to find a parcel waiting for me on my doorstep. On opening the parcel I found that it contained one of the twelve Osprey books I'd recently won in a competition run by Osprey Publishing through their blog. If you're interested in military history then I recommend checking out the blog.

I'd already received ten of the twelve books and was waiting for two which were temporarily out of stock, this book, Thermopylae 480 BC, and also Roman Battle Tactics 109BC-AD313.

Last stand of the 300

I now have some more enjoyable reading for my train journeys to and from work.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 77

Saturday morning usually means gaming with my mother (AKA Grandma) and my elder daughter, Maddie, who is seven years old. During these gaming sessions my wife is at work and my younger two year old daughter Georgia is usually watching a DVD (Dora the Explorer is her favourite at the moment).

Our first game of the morning was For Sale which was Maddie's choice. This is a great little auction game that is fun and plays fast. Maddie is usually quite good at this game and today was no different with her taking the win. Final scores were Maddie $76K, Grandma $65K and myself $62K.

It's fun to bid on properties!

Our second game was also Maddie's choice - Coda. We all enjoy this quick little deduction game. I took a couple of hits early on in the game but managed to come back and guess all of Grandma's tiles in one turn (she was winning at that stage). I then moved on to Maddie on my same turn and knocked down all her tiles but one. To win the game I had a 50% chance of guessing the correct tile. I guessed wrong and Maddie went on to win on her turn.

A brilliant little game of deduction!

Maddie decided to quit while she was ahead and went out onto the back deck to play with her younger sister.

I then pulled out Lost Cities from the game cabinet in our dining room. I hadn't played this game in over a year (last time was 28 July 2007) so it was about time it hit the table again. I always enjoy the agonising decisions one has to make in this game. We played three rounds. The first round was Grandma 2, me 148. Second round was Grandma 34, me 60. Third round was Grandma 3, me 58. Final scores were Grandma 39 and me taking the win with 305 points.

Looks like I'll be doing some deep sea exploration...

After that, Grandma and I joined Maddie and Georgia on the back deck for some fun of blowing bubbles.

Two year old Georgia blowing bubbles

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Red-rumped Parrot

I spotted a beautiful parrot on the back fence at my Dad's home at Caboolture. I've never seen one of these before but one of Dad's neighbours informed me it was a Red-rumped Parrot.

A male Red-rumped Parrot

Red-rumped Parrots are medium-sized, slender parrots. The adult male is bright green, with a blue-green head, a red rump, and yellow shoulders and belly. The female is a duller, olive-green, with a green rump and faint yellow or light green scales on the belly.

Unfortunately, in the photo I took above, you can't see the small flash of red feathers that gives the parrot it's rather odd name. For such a gorgeous bird it does have a pretty lame name. Then again, I guess Red-rumped Parrot is much better than being called the Cherry-assed Parrot, Scarlet-butted Parrot or the Ruby-bummed Parrot.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Planting Has Begun

I'm stuffed. Spent most of the day pulling weeds, digging holes and planting plants in the back yard. You see, we had our pool built four years ago and it's only today that I finally started the landscaping.

A job well done, if I do say so myself

Deb picked up a great selection of plants and palms for well under half-price at a local market two weeks ago. I've now planted half of them. I plan to plant the rest next weekend.

Did I mention I'm exhausted? I have blisters on both hands and pain (though a good pain) throughout the muscles of my arms, shoulders, back and legs. I'll definitely sleep well tonight...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fish & Chips by the Ocean

This afternoon we attended my father's 70th birthday celebrations at his home at Caboolture.

On the way back home we decided to take a detour and stop for an early dinner of fish & chips at a park near the entrance to Newport Marina at Scarborough on the Redcliffe Peninsula.

Deb dropped myself, Maddie and Georgia at the park while she drove to Morgans Seafood. I'd brought the kite with us so while I was getting that ready, Maddie and Georgia were running around on the grass. There was a brisk sea breeze blowing so it was easy to get the kite up and keep it aloft.

Sunset at Scarborough

When Deb arrived back the sun was setting so we laid out some blankets and sat down to our dinner. Mmm...fish & chips by the ocean.

Georgia and I eating fish & chips

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

GenCon Oz Part 8

This is Part 8 of my day at GenCon Oz on Sunday 6 July 2008. Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

After wandering around the collectable miniatures and cards area, I strolled past the roleplaying games area. Roleplaying games (RPGs) were my main gaming interest from my early teens to my early twenties. I've played many RPGs over the years including Dungeons & Dragons (Basic, 1st and 2nd editions), Gamma World, Top Secret, Boot Hill, Shadowrun, Star Wars, Traveller and Star Frontiers. If GenCon Oz had been held twenty years ago then it would have been in the RPG area that you would have found me.

Part of the RPG area

Most gaming conventions I've attended have been either at schools or universities and roleplaying sessions were usually held in closed rooms. I was initially unsure at how distracting it would be for players sitting at tables in an open area. However, the GenCon convention hall had a very high ceiling and the background noise wasn't that bad at all. I didn't get a chance to chat to any of the RPGers to see how they found it, though the majority of them seemed to be having a great time.

These people look like they're having fun

Viewing the roleplaying area brought back fond memories of my early gaming days with my friends at high school. We used to play D&D after school almost every day. I lost touch with a lot of school friends and in my late teens my interests turned to other social activities. In my early twenties I got back into roleplaying through a friend at work. We had a group of five of us who were of similar ages and interests and we met regularly every couple of weeks at one of our houses. We'd usually start playing around 10.00 am on a Saturday, stop for a BBQ lunch, continue playing, maybe order pizzas for dinner, continue playing, and finish up around 2.00 am on the Sunday. Those were the days.

I remember one night of particularly exciting gaming while we were taking a break to have a couple of beers and play a few hands of Hearts. I made the comment, "Guys, remember this night, savour it and enjoy it because in a few years we'll probably be married with children and won't be able to do this sort of thing any more." A few of us had girlfriends at that time and there were some knowing nods. For me it was a poignant moment. I was a couple of years older than them and realised that this time of mateship and little responsibility would eventually come to an end.

And so it did. They've all married or moved interstate. Some have little kids like myself. We've transitioned into a new phase of life where all day and all night gaming is a rare thing which must be planned months in advance, if it happens at all.

Anyway, enough of my reminiscing! Back to my day at GenCon Oz. I had noticed that Wizards of the Coast had a couple of demo tables set up to show off the recently released Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. As it was nearing the closing time of the last day of the convention I eagerly made my may over to that area to see if I could join in.

I'll cover that in part 9.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Father's Day

It was Father's Day on Sunday. We decided to drive out to Scarborough on the Redcliffe peninsula for lunch in the park. I spent my childhood and teens living at Redcliffe so I'm very familiar with the location. Of interest is that Redcliffe holds the distinction of being the first European settlement in the state of Queensland.

Our first stop was the Scarborough boat harbour where we met my father and step-mother (Poppy and Nanny to our kids). We found a nice spot under a tree in the park just opposite Morgan's Seafood to set out some picnic blankets.

Maddie and Georgia playing in the park

And it was to Morgans that we went for a lovely take away lunch of fish and chips and a kilo of prawns. I had a particularly scrumptious piece of barramundi with my chips.

Georgia in the park

After lunch we drove a short distance to another park on the foreshore of Moreton Bay. We'd brought a kite with us as I'd wanted to show Maddie how to fly it.

This area was very popular for recreational water activities.

A couple on their surf skis

A small yacht

A quartet of jet skis

In the distance, across the bay, we could see the famous Glasshouse Mountains. These mountains are actually the hardened lava cores of ancient volcanoes and were formed 26-27 million years ago. Of interest is that the famed Australia Zoo of the extinct Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin is located nearby.

The Glasshouse Mountains in the distance

A closer view of the Glasshouse mountains

There was a nice sea breeze blowing and it was easy to get the kite up into the air. I haven't flown a kite for many, many years and I'd forgotten what a joy it was. I handed over the controls to Maddie and she had no trouble keeping it aloft.

Maddie flying the kite

Poppy and Maddie watching the kite

It was such a simple pleasure being outside on a beautiful afternoon, with the sea air and flying a kite. I got such a kick out of it that I've promised the girls I'll take them down to our local park to do some more kite flying next weekend if the weather is fine.

What a great day.

Our kite soaring majestically in the breeze

Monday, September 01, 2008

RIP Goldy

Our pet goldfish, Goldy, died today. Goldy had been a part of our family for about four or five years. Both girls have fed Goldy many times over the years. I have fond memories of holding little giggling Georgia over the small aquarium tank as Goldy 'blew kisses' at her.

I asked Maddie how she felt. At seven years old she obviously recognised the significance of the event.
"This is the first pet I've seen dead," she said quietly.

I wondered how two and a half year old Georgia was taking the news.
"Goldy died," I said to her in a sad voice.
"Goldy dead," Georgia smiled back at me.

RIP Goldy