Game On

Today I play tested a number of very interesting board game and card game concepts and agreed to be the principal illustrator for one in particular.

You can expect to see a fair bit of concept art relating to that project here over coming months.

The creator and I have made a written agreement with broad terms to recognise our good faith negotiations with each other, we have allowed time to make sure the creative relationship will work and have divided expected responsibilities and expectations.  One of the key terms of our agreement is to seek a much more official contract before money or intellectual property is formally exchanged.  So I’m now on the hunt for a suitable contract, something like this one, to use without engaging the services of an IP lawyer at this already extremely expensive moment of my life.

If anyone knows a good IP lawyer I have a couple of things I would like to run by them. At my own expense of course.

Incidentally I’ve never been particularly huge on board games but I’ve been so surrounded by people who are and for so many years that a certain amount of passion for them seems to have rubbed off on me.  I know enough to say if you have not experienced board games other than Cluedo and Monopoly you owe it to yourself to try one of the new generation of games that are actually fun.

Rough concept forest tile. My pen ran dry and I am struggling to keep eyes open so I’m not going to refill and continue I’m foing to bed.



By agreement I am going to try and channel a bit of the style of the indomitable Mike Mignola into my work.

With a quick hue shift to reduce the contrast some.


Cordyceps & Packing

Packed lots and lots and lots of stuff. Boxes are towering in most rooms now. Still huge amounts to do, Including the gardens again tomorrow morning as the realtor is bringing people through. I was hoping to leave that job until later in the week so that I would only need to do it once.

I finished an important card and finally replied to an important email.

Injured my right hand, not badly, removing removable picture hangers. The older 3M variety still take some paint with them, the newer ones seem to come of cleanly. But be warned they can be sling shoted very hard into your hand, as happened to me, drew blood and all.


Tarantula infected by Cordyceps

I recently finished “The Girl With All The Gifts” by Mike Carey. It was an entertaining read or in my case listen.
Gripping, intense action, morally challenging characters and occasionally heart rending decisions. It is a zombie novel with a difference not least for its well thought out use of the ‘Cordyceps‘ fungi. All in all it is a well realised portrait of humanity looking into the abyss of extinction.

The ending has repeated on me, even though I saw at least part of it coming, the characters are left in such a way that further contemplation of where they are headed and what world they will create is inevitable.

Cordyceps features as a zombie infection in the game ‘The Last of Us‘ which I haven’t played, it being exclusive to a system I don’t own.

Until tonight I did not know people willingly ate it, but of course they do.

The most interesting link I know about this fungi is from a rather old TED talk by Paul Stamets. In which after ten minutes of proselytising the wonders of mycelium he finally gets to the point and shows six pretty cool ways fungi can be used. One of which is the use of Cordyceps as an incredibly effective carpenter ant treatment. He demonstrates that in the non sporulating form the fungi is actually attractive to the ants as a food stuff and hypothesises that there is at least one species of Cordyceps for each species of insect on earth.





On Childrens Birthday Parties

Today we attended a 2 year old’s birthday do. Lots of effort put into costumes, decorations and some tasty party food. But no games or activities the kids. Granted the rain all but ruled out backyard play but not even pass the parcel‽

Having run a party or two myself and learned from my errors in the past as well as managed some ‘interesting’ classrooms. Today I share some hints and tips for running an effective party. Because why the hell not. Let’s start with some don’ts.

Don’t serve sweets until after the cake. The children will need some savoury fuel to get through the event. This seems almost to obvious to need stated. But I have seen it done time and time again.

Don’t tell children they get a bit crazy/ hyper/manic on sugar. Sugar doesn’t make kids hyper, hypoglycemia from lack of real food and parental expectations do.

Don’t serve booze to grown ups in the AM.

Don’t kill yourself getting every little detail perfect on the cake/ costume/ cupcakes/ decorations. The kids couldn’t care less. If you’re showing off to other parents. check your priorities.

Do plan to give each child something. No I don’t mean a lolly bag. Keep it cheap and useful for imaginative play. Something for the costume box is best. Make sure you have spares.

Pool noodle light sabers will definitely feature in our boy’s future.

Do plan more activities than you think you’ll need. Something often goes wrong. 4-7 games and activities should be plenty. Make sure most activities involve active movement. A good party should leave children exhausted.

Do use disposable plates etc. You will be exhausted by the end of it too. Please choose biodegradable options.

Do plan time and space for a free play. Monitor the situation and if exclusion or injury is likely jump in with another activity. With older children pools and activity centres like laser tag and rock climbing are great though often expensive options. It is still worth having games to play in down times for group cohesion.

Do dress up, but don’t expect anyone else too. Or at least don’t expect them to put nearly as much effort in as you will.


That’s all I can think of for now.

Calligraphy practise tonight. I didn’t get to the GP with my XRays today.

I did get N’s computer in for a checkup and my clothes packed.










Wtar Saws

There is so much Star Wars crap about at the moment.
After Revenge of the sith I, a life long Star Wars fan swore off giving Lucas another cent.

I’ve played the games, read the books and comics and debated the finer details of the expanded universe at length. I remember seeing Star Wars on the big screen, Seeing Empire and Jedi as a double feature. My father has Star Wars fan art of mine over 30 years old.

I swore that Lucas and his empire would no longer reap profit from me.

Then Disney bought Lucasfilm.

Disney is a pretty unpleasant company but I have never felt strongly enough about their IP’s to care what they do with them. In consequence I was for a time pretty torn about whether or not to see ep.VII. I have resolved that I will, but I am going to try and avoid seeing reviews prior so that I can see it fresh. I have a kind of unavoidable excitement about the film coupled with very low expectations. having been burned before. I will be taking N to see it next Saturday, even though I remain suspicious despite protestations to the contrary, that she has in fact never seen the complete original trilogy.

As to what was really so bad about the prequels. Well for a number of years I was an apologist, trying desperately to find something of that which I had loved so much in them. It isn’t there. Even the Jar Jar Sith theory doesn’t redeem their unbearable awfulness.

This week the “Everything wrong with ….” Guy finally brought out his takedown of Episode 1. It is amusing & succinct at only two parts long.

But, Red Letter Media did it so much better. Even accounting for the annoying voice, the vulgar humour and their unbelievable length.
The definitive deconstruction of everything wrong with the prequel trilogy begins here:


In other news, my finger has a small but still very uncomfortable fracture. Visible here:


A photo posted by @liatach on

I’ll see a GP again tomorrow to see what I should do for it.

Practising calligraphy again tonight.


Last day of school today. Clean up day for me involves teaching children to scrub, wipe and dry their plastic tidy trays. It is a pet peeve that in many classrooms many of their desk drawers start the year still coated with finger grease on the outside, and still soapy from the futile wiping at the graphite stains on the interior. I have sytems people! Pick your role wipe, scrub or dry and if it gets to the end dirty… Send it back. Astonishing how few children are seemingly made to do the dishes at home. I loathed the job as a child and have never really grown out of that, but I knew damn well how to do it, even if it was not without complaint.

I was disappointed by one interaction this afternoon. A sweet student was clearly in a sad state and I was unable to cheer her up before goodbyes. She has been being excluded by a bunch of little cows, too ‘popular’ to include her and creating divisions among her core friendships. A sad way to break for the year.

At our teacher’s feast the staff farewelled a bunch of teachers old and new, including a retiring deputy who had been in education since 1968 and your’s truly who plans to return. Astonishing to think of a career in one job longer than my lifetime. Practically unthinkable today, as is retirement before senescence for my generation.

My father called shortly before the bell this morning bearing terrible news. My uncle Jefferey had died overnight. Although not a young man, nor it must be said, a particularly healthy one. His passing is unexpected and tragic. He is survived by his wife Judith, his daughter Jenny and his twin brother Michael.

Jefferey was a cantankerous, cynical old bastard and I loved him. I was dearly looking forward to evenings of drinking, smoking and talking shit with with him during our upcoming visit to Scotland next year. I have a number of fond memories of him and his and my aunt’s houses. I dearly wish I could be there to see him off with my cousin and aunt. Sending much love to those who need it from N & I.

Working on a card tonight.


Toxic waste and telephones

Currently in the process of porting mobile phones over to Telstra in preparation for the move to rural NSW. As is seemingly usual with any such endeavour I have thus far had three conversations with Telstra and two with iinet and my new Telstra Sim still doesn’t have my number associated with it. N’s phone may be even more problematic as her iinet number is also on my account. Grooving out to all kinds of exciting muzak.

I got into a meaningless internet argument about nuclear energy on Fbook this morning. I am not a smart man some days.

It got me thinking about the proposed nuclear waste dump in Australia. The first shipment of toxic shit is apparently already in the country.

Australia has quite a few very isolated, geologically stable regions, with next to no population. We are the ideal place to store the crap really, our democratic government is only mildly corrupt and the biome in the red centre is inhospitable at best. We could create places where no-one will ever want to go, even thousands of years hence as is described in this article I read years ago.

I think we should take everyone’s waste. With two conditions:

  1. They give us frankly massive amounts of money.
  2. They don’t get to make any more. With the exception of research and medical radiology.

We will take other countries waste because they have nowhere safe to keep it. But they must cease further production and pay royally for the disposal.

Of course this isn’t going to happen. They will build a municipal shed somewhere out of dodgy bros. concrete and put up some chain link. All profits to some private bidder for the contract. If we are lucky it won’t at least be adjacent to our artesian basin.
To add a cheery note on the end. Here is our current Shleich & freinds menagerie. They are much loved.


Finally some footage of the largest great white* ever filmed. You should count yourself lucky if you see sharks in the wild.




*Citation needed.


Bruised fingers and waste

Today I played in the teacher v students European Handball match and twice hyper extended my left ring finger. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to take my ring off after the first. I stopped play after the second time and went looking for ice. Also visible in this image is the split nail on my ring finger, a war wound from a dodgy  hospitality job over a decade ago, the nail has grown split ever since. Teachers won of course.

It’s gotten even more gnarly since the previous post.

A photo posted by @liatach on

Tomorrow we will conduct our class Secret Santa during which the more polite of my students will attempt to mask their disappointment with their gift, the others will say a perfunctory thank you and some may need forcible reminders for basic decorum as usual.

The teacher gifts started arriving for me a week or two ago. One of the perks of the job is the pile of chocolates and oddments we are given each Christmas and this year some have been particularly odd.

Random student gifts. Plastic orchids and pottery heart… Things. They know me so well

A photo posted by @liatach on

Today I was given a nice looking bottle of wine, chocolates, a beer and a Darth Vader coffee cup. Not half bad really.

I am constantly reminded of and disgusted by how much junk is produced for Christmas.
My mother shared this sweet and relevant song, pity about the weird visual ripple distortion on the video.

Clearly I haven’t quite kicked the Instagram habit yet. Mainly as the inbuilt editing on the alternatives is simply not up to scratch.

On Swimming, Reading and Graphic Design

It’s the final week of school. Tidy trays are packed, classrooms are striped bare.
We have had our long free swim and yes of course I joined in. On Thursday we will feast as a class and conduct our Secret Santa exchange. On Friday we will clean desks and classrooms and then put a film on for the students while the teachers feast.

Today I was taken off class again to put finishing touches on the template of a project for admin. This Chatterbox will be the interactive display tool for the new 5 year strategic plan at WESS. There are a number of fields still needing filled in and my template has spaces and text boxes ready for them.




This design also features my update of the school’s logo which I completed in my own time mostly out of irritation last year. The original had been hand painted and it seems that at some point somebody had live-traced a low quality scan. I made a number of subtle modifications and fixed a bunch of missing or garbled details from the original.

school logo fix


I had a discussion with my sister who is also a teacher a weekend or two ago in which we both expressed dismay at the present push for earlier and earlier instructional tuition in Australian schools. Today she shared an article, which I think I have seen quoted elsewhere but had not until today read.

Key quote:

Studies have compared groups of children in New Zealand who started formal literacy lessons at ages 5 and 7. Their results show that the early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may be damaging. By the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who started at 5 developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later. In a separate study of reading achievement in 15 year olds across 55 countries, researchers showed that there was no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age.


I maintain that forcing children to read before they want to sets them up for a lifelong distaste for reading rather than a lifelong love of it.


Good sleep and lack thereof

Yesterday we had the best sleep-in in 3 years. 8 am and not a peep out of either of our infants. By which point we were at the “should we check on them” stage.

Last night however… The worst night in months. L had a melt down about one and then F was up for almost two hours after that. I’ve been in a fog all day, in addition to the muscle ache from climbing yesterday.

A project I still haven’t taken beyond prototype.
The prototype is now a bit the worse for wear 2 years later.
I would like to take this and a few other similar ideas to production out of recycled and biodegradable materials.

My cardboard Christmas tree design:


Process shot.


This terrbily back lit shot seems to be the only one I have from the first build set that shows it assembled but not covered in decorations.


It was all about papercraft that Christmas. These papercraft polyhedra formed our basic gift to practically everyone that year.

Digitising the design is still in process. I hit a hurdle in creating an even helical shape to take slices from in the 3D programs I was using. Just the other day I think I may have found a workaround care of a project the amazing and crazy J Mantzel was working on. He is famous as the creator of a very cool toy as well as a house with a trampoline floor.




Best friend visited for one night all the way from Germany via Melbourne. Had to be the night of my staff Christmas party of course. Anyway today we hit Crank in Macgregor. First time out at their centre. We had a lot of fun climbing they have some good high challenging walls. We also did a spot of bouldering, slacklining, playing table tennis. I liked a couple of the unusual features they have set up like the giant rope net and straight rope. Unfortunately the straight rope had such a twist in it that by the time I was a third of the way up the safety rope was repeatedly wrapped around it and interfering.

Feeling the pain this evening for all of that, at least I seem to have kicked the little cold I had earlier in the week.

F used the potty for the first time of his own accord tonight. It may not seem much but it heralds, some time in the next 6 months, the end of nappies!

Calligraphy drills, nothing worth posting.