Thank you Google

OK, I’ll admit it, it’s my Birthday and I’m not getting any younger. Imagine this though:

  • no TV (I can remember when Mum and Dad bought our first second-hand black and white TV)
  • no mobile phones (I can remember by grandmother saying into the telephone “Turramurra 4568 please”)
  • no personal computers (I did my statistics at university with pencil and paper and calculator)
  • no calculators for that matter (I can remember Mr and Mrs Morrison buying me an LED based calculator about the size of a small brick from the duty free store when they took a holiday to Fiji)
  • when the Boeing 707 was an amazing piece of new aircraft technology and English Electras plied the air routes in Australia (yes, life before jumbo jets)
  • when the British made passenger aircraft
  • and lots of other amazing things

So, it was amusing for me to start Google this morning ready to make a search and see the following Google Doodle. It didn’t occur to me what it was for until I hovered over it.

Yep - Happy Birthday to me!

Yep – Happy Birthday to me!

Clicking on the doodle took me to my Google public profile. Now I know that this is not so amazing but it is really quite neat when you can remember

  • life before fast food chains
  • life before supermarkets where a couple of times a week you’d walk to the shops and buy meat, ham and such
  • life before refrigerators (and therefore knowing what the ice box was)
  • life before the Internet
  • and especially life before a connection to the sewer (I can still remember the night cart coming around early in the morning and the swearing of the bloke taking away the full pan of poop as he tripped over one of my toys left lying around beside the house)

Thanks Google – I know it is easy for you to remember the date but it is nice to see the greeting!

Thomo’s Hole – Just Passing Through!

The view from Thomo's Man Cave in Singapore

The view from Thomo’s Man Cave in Singapore

Singapore is expensive. Beer is $15 a pint and a nice steak at a restaurant (not Michelin Star restaurant but of a good standard) will set you back about $40 at least. Accommodation takes expensive to another level. In fact, over the past 12-18 months I have noted that Singapore is really starting to price itself out of its own markets. International observers are starting to say the same thing.

So, as I have two weeks to kill before starting my next job (more about that later) and as income is tight, I calculated that a week in a resort in Indonesia would set us back less than staying in Singapore another two weeks. The choice then was between the views out the window shown to the left, and the view from the Cabana below.

No brainer really.

Evil Danny decided to join us at the resort as well for a few days to get himself out of Singapore whilst considering his future so last night we had dinner at the resort we are staying out. Now up front I should mention that the room cost is about $50 a night before tax and service charge so already it is half the price of the apartment we rented in Singapore, and that $50 included breakfast.

The view from our cabana porch! King size bed, glass roof in the bathroom and the gentle sound of water lapping through the mangroves ... not to mention the drums from the Lebaran party about a kilometre away :-)

The view from our cabana porch! King size bed, glass roof in the bathroom and the gentle sound of water lapping through the mangroves … not to mention the drums from the Lebaran party about a kilometre away :-)

Last night we had dinner. Evil Danny, Madam and myself. We also had beer, Bintang beer. Madam had a seafood pasta, Danny a vegetable soup and nasi goreng and I had a asparagus beef salad and a steak. We also had about 12 large bottles of beer, maybe more. The total cost for the dinner was slightly less than $100. The same dinner in Singapore would set us back about $250.

So, we are living in the cabana (well, except for Danny, we got him a room on the other side of the resort), in a quiet part of Batam, and will probably stay here a few days longer before heading to Jakarta for a couple of days, then ultimately on to the next location – but more of that later!

WIP – the Type 97 Te-Ke 2

Type 97 TeKe

Type 97 TeKe

Back on 26 June 2014 I noted that I was working on the The Type 97 TeKe, a Japanese tankette used in the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Khalkin-gol (Nomonhan) against the Soviet Union and Mongolia, and in World War II generally.

The photo to the left indicates where I had got up to with regards to painting these vehicles.

I got some time this week so finished them off yesterday. The photos below show how they look in their full camouflaged glory.

The tankettes were reasonably new as they were designed in 1937 and a total of 616 of them were built. They were small, however, only being large enough for a crew of two (a commander and a driver).

Anyway, these are the last of the Japanese tanks to be painted. On the painting queue for the Japanese are two aircraft and all the infantry. The infantry still needs to be adhered to bases and prepared for painting but that may need to wait for a week or three, depending on (I hope) new work.

I will photograph all the Japanese armour later this week once varnishing is complete and dry.

The Type 97 Te-Ke tank park ... such as it is

The Type 97 Te-Ke tank park … such as it is

A slightly different view of the Type 97 Te-Ke tank park

A slightly different view of the Type 97 Te-Ke tank park

Ancient Warfare VIII/3 – Horsemen of the Steppes

One of the magazines I always look forward to is Ancient Warfare and this latest issue is of particular interest to me for two reasons:

  1. There is no coverage of the Mongols – they deserve separate treatment purely because of their success and the size of their eventual empire
  2. The coverage of the Amazons – something that has been an interest to me since seeing the Amazon sculpture frieze and mosaic in the Louvre
The Amazon Mosaic from the Louvre in Paris

The Amazon Mosaic from the Louvre in Paris

This issue then covers many of my interests whilst focussing on the Pontic Steppes where the majority of classical period nomadic horsemen originated. Included then are articles about the Amazons; a look at Herodotus’s examination of the Skythians; Dugdammi (Lygdamis), who managed to cause some trepidation in Ashurbanipal of Assyria when he united a number of nomadic tribes; Darius the Great’s Scythian expedition, 512 BCE; The battle for the Bosporan Kingdom, 310/309 BCE (Skythians face off against Sarmatians); and Alexander the Great’s mauling of the Skythians at the  Battle of the Jaxartes.

The Amazon sculptures from the Louvre in Paris

The Amazon sculptures from the Louvre in Paris

There are a number of other articles as well on Rome and Egypt but perhaps most interesting for me was the article noted as an obscure debate over a very long spear – How Long was the Macedonian Sarissa? There are a couple of good illustrations of both the reported length of that spear and it relative reach compared to the spears of regular hoplites.

It is also strangely appropriate and good timing that this issue comes out during the Naadam festival, the celebration of Mongolia. As I type this I have been watching the nine standards of Chinggis Khaan paraded and placed for the festival.

Napoleonic — Battle Five at the Gun Bar — Another Last for a While!

I noted back on 30 June 2014 that I was having the last battle at the Gun Bar for a while as I was taking up a new job and moving from Singapore. Well, as is the way of things in IT and Banking, that move was delayed a week, then another week, then another week and we are still sitting here.

So, it was off to the Gun Bar again, this time with plastic soldiers painted ready for Anthony to base (see previous posts here). To make the trek worthwhile, another Napoleonic game was organised with Général de Corps Anthony facing off against Major General Thomo the Lost again. This was also a special battle as again it was likely to be the last time I was going to be in the position to battle with Anthony, face to face, beer to beer, for some time to come as I up sticks and hopefully high-tail it out of Singapore.

The battlefield was laid out as I arrived, with the battle being taken from Stuart Asquith’s Programmed Wargame Scenarios. The scenario was the British were withdrawing in the Peninsula to the defence lines at Torres Vedras and a rearguard had been left to delay the French by holding a village and a bridge. Again, for depth, it was decided to play along the battlefield rather than across it.

Now, I have mentioned the dice feng shui before so this time I suggested I take the poorly rolling blue dice and Anthony used the high rolling red ones. We again diced to see who would be French and who would be British. Again, I ended up as the British commander.

The British had two battalions of green Portuguese Line and a Battalion of veteran Caçadores. Accompanying the Portuguese were two battalions of British line troops (one understrength) and a battalion of Highlanders (who also were veteran).  There was the 5th battalion of the 60th foot, armed with rifles and already having taken casualties earlier in the retreat. In support was a regiment of Light Cavalry, a foot battery of artillery and a horse battery.

The French started the battle with two regiments of light cavalry already in the table with the rest of the French force arriving one unit at a time, one bound at a time.

I based my tactics around holding the village on the British right with the poor quality Portuguese. Meanwhile the British would hold the more open ground as well as defend the bridge. The Horse battery was deployed forward with the 5/60th to slow the French advance a little and the foot battery was deployed on the hill to the rear. The Caçadores were forward on the British right flank.

The Highlanders were held as a reserve in the centre of the line, able to turn either way as the situation required.

The French advanced and the British fired. The blue dice were indeed rolling low, at one stage I rolled 9 dice and scored nothing higher than a three. However the British tactics were sound and the French élan was such that they came forward rather piecemeal.

The Caçadores went into square on the right, holding up and preventing the French cavalry from attacking the British right. In the meantime the horse battery and the 5/60th fell backwards firing all the while. After 10 bounds, with the scenario due to end, the British still held both the village and the bridge. Victory in yet another of my last games at the Gun Bar. To be fair, 10 bounds was not really enough time for the French and I suggested for the depth of table we were using that a variable finish between 12 and 16 bounds would be more interesting and give the French a better chance.

The photos below are from Anthony’s phone as for some reason as yet unknown, my phone was talking really odd photos and they were not at all clear,

Interestingly, throughout the entire game I won the initiative roll only once, Anthony won that nine times. I inevitably rolled down, he rolled up. I think there is definitely dice feng shui here and the next time we play, the blue dice will be reserved for marker duty, replaced by the green set perhaps.

Dice feng shui exists – at least with those blue dice! After the game finished, I rolled the nine dice again and had seven numbers four or greater! Go figure. The only dice that rolled well was the 8-sided dice being used for morale checks. I should also note that Anthony’s rolls were generally positive – split about 50:50 around 1,2,3 and 4,5,6 on using the red dice so, dice feng shiui exists!

WIP — Yes, Plastics 6

I finished the first five bases today, recovering as I was from watching the Netherlands finish the demolition of Brazilian football. I’m pretty happy with everything on them, except for the unit flashes. Looking further at the flashes on-line this evening they seem somewhat straighter and smaller. Oh well, I guess I will touch them up when I do the next batch of uniform dry-brushing.

Apart from that, I am happy with them. I don’t have to worry about finishing the bases, Anthony will do that so they look the same as the other troops in his forces.

The main colours used were the following (Vallejo unless otherwise noted):

  • 921 English Uniform
  • 988 Khaki
  • 924 Russian Uniform
  • 982 Flat Earth
  • 967 Flat Red
  • 963 Gunmetal Grey
  • 995 German Grey
  • Barbarian Flesh (from Army Painter War Paints)
  • Devlan Mud (an old Games Workshop Citadel wash)

The figures themselves are OK although they appear a little large for 20mm (1/72) and there are a few in odd poses – like the bloke squatting as if he as answering a call of nature whilst pumping a few rounds off from his Lee-Enfield SMLE. The hard plastic takes paint quite well though and has the advantage of not bending like metal does when you bump a figure accidentally.

Curse You Richard Sharpe (and Anthony)

So, I visited the Gun Bar the other day to pick up those soldiers I have been painting. Anthony was hard at work doing his favourite hobby task … basing … and re-basing, and we all love doing that don’t we. He had his iPad propped up behind the area he was working in and was watching the Richard Sharpe series of videos whilst basing his Napoleonics. I had watched part of one episode a few years back and was amused that for the show the producers seemed to use the same scaling with actors that we wargamers use with figures  – namely a 1:50 ratio judging by the number of men in the firing line of the South Essex.

Well, that was all well and good until I got home and thought that maybe I should give the show the benefit of the doubt and at least watch the first episode. So now I am watching the whole series. Just before sleep I watch an episode. Trouble is, each of the episodes is about 100 minutes long. The other trouble is that it has sparked enough of an interest in me to reread the Sharpe Novels.

The worst thing, however, is that it has me thinking about Napoleonic Wargaming again when I was really trying to concentrate on Victorian Science Fiction, 6mm ancients and 1/285 World War 2 this year. Argh, no, hide it away, it is too bright and shiny!