Injured Robin

About a week I was in my computer room when I heard a loud *THUMP* against the window.  I opened the blinds and took a look outside to see what the noise was all about.  On the window I saw some feathers and what looked like bird vomit smeared on the window.  A bird had hit my window!

So, I went outside to take a look, thinking I’d have a dead bird to clean up.  Instead of a puddle of bird goo, I see this little fellow standing on the ground, panting:

The poor guy was so stunned I was able to walk right up to him and take some photos.  It completely slipped my mind to check up on him later; I assume he eventually came to his senses and flew away.

I was a little surprised that he flew into my window, given that the faux-wood blinds were drawn.  Does it not look like a wooden wall from the other side?

Shogun Returns!

Shogun

One of the greatest board games ever made is *finally* being reprinted.  The 1986 game Shogun (reprinted as Samurai Swords in 1995) is being reprinted, again, as Ikusa on June 24, 2011 by Avalon Hill (which is owned by Hasbro, who has owned the original publisher of the game, Milton Bradley, since 1984).  It’s about time!

The premise of the game is that you (and up to four other players) are seeking to become the shogun, or military dictator, of feudal Japan.  You have three armies headed by loyal daimyo (land-owning lords) which consist of samurai (warrior nobles), wielding either sword or bow, and ashigaru (peasants), equipped with either spear or primitive long gun.   Lordless samurai, ronin, are always available for hire and will fight for anyone who can afford them.  In addition to these forces, the deadly (and treacherous) ninja sells his services to the highest bidder, willing to assassinate your opponents daimyos directly (though a failed assassination attempt will put one of your daimyos in peril instead!).

Gameplay is a little like Risk where the board is broken up into provinces and you place military units in each one you control.  Play order is random every round, however, and secret bidding for resources keeps everyone on their toes.  Actually, you could consider it to be some sort of “super”-Risk since it’s more or less the same kind of game, but with a lot more options and much more fun.

This re-release is especially well timed, for me, since my copy of Samurai Swords was damaged in a little bit of basement flooding I had a week or so ago.  I’ll definitely be picking up this new release of the game.

Shogun

Die, Michael Bay! Die, Die, Die!

Yeah, I know it’s been a long time since Bay excreted the Transformer movies, but it still hurts.  This is what we *should* have had…



Summer Rims on My Camaro

 

The snow is finally disappearing and the temperatures are above freezing…time for my summer rims!  I had them powder-coated flat black last week in preparation for summer cruising.

The streets are still dirty and sometimes wet, so these aren’t the best pictures, but I was too eager to wait to get some photos!

 

 

Also, I just finished blacking out the fog lights and debadging the front of the car (i.e. removing the RS from the grill and replacing the front bowtie with a clean grill insert):

 

 

The grill insert (or “bowtie delete”)  is manufactured by Drake Muscle Cars, and I bought both from Latemodel Restoration Supply.  I also bought the foglight covers — manufactured by GTS –from the same store.

 

Next up: darkening those pesky side reflectors and possibly the turn signals; then, when it’s warmer outside, working on the back of the car…

 

Electronics Store Ripoff

I just finished buying some audio cable adapters online at monoprice.com, marvelling at how I was being charged about a quarter apiece for something that I paid six or seven dollars for in the past at a physical store.  It’s not often that I do this sort of thing, but I am so happy with monoprice.com’s low prices and intelligent shipping costs that I’ve decided to provide a shameless plug for the best place to buy cables, adapters, and such online:

Below is a random sample of typical A/V cables and adapters, comparing the price from Future Shop and monoprice.com.  Note that Future Shop’s prices are the same for both their physical store and their online store. Also note that I’ve included local sales tax prices for Future Shop and shipping costs to Canada for monoprice.com prices.

 

Sample comparison: RCA Y-adapter (male to 2 female)

 

Sample comparison: 6′ HDMI cable

 

Sample comparison: 20′ RCA audio cable

 

Sample comparison: 25′ Male-to-male VGA cable w. Male-to-Male stereo 3.5mm audio plug

 

Sample comparison: 12′ Toslink optical audio cable

 

To help visualize the difference in price, I made this little chart:

 

So, if you can stand to wait a week for your cables, you are way better off ordering them from monoprice.com instead of driving to a “big box” electronics store.  And not only are the prices cheaper, the selection is incredible!  There are lots of options in cable length (and sometimes wire gauges). Some types of cables (like HDMI cables) are even available in multiple colors, making it easy to color-code the mass of wires behind your entertainment systems.

It’s true that shipping adds a lot to the cost of items from monoprice.com, but the combined cost still beats out the big box store price by at least half in the worst case.  If you are buying several smaller items, the shipping price can remain pretty low.  For example, the shipping cost for a single RCA Y-adapter (male to 2 female) listed above is $2.03, but if, for some reason, you need ten of them, shipping comes out to $2.45 in total.

I remember buying four or five HDMI cables for a little over $3 apiece around the time I bought my LCD TV.  At the time, similar cables were selling for almost ten times that much at the store.  The equivalent Monster brand cables still sell for $90, which is an awful lot to pay for cables filled with snake oil to lubricate the electrical signal waves to travel faster down the cable.