The Bob Test

Periodically I become a little self reflective. Recently I have been encouraged to consider values – both mine and the values of those around me. In those periods I look at my actions and my treatment of those around me and apply the “Bob Test”. Bob was a positive influence on my life. Still is truth be told. He passed a few years ago and I know he is sorely missed by his family and his friends.

Bob grew up in Rhodesia and as a young man was involved in the Bush War and I am certain that in later life he suffered from what we now know is PTSD. He left Rhodesia and travelled to the United Kingdom followed by Norway. I am sure that that the laconic and practical Norwegians eased his PTSD and I know he loved both the country and his family and friends. He was always a great friend.

So, what is the “Bob Test”? Bob once noted to me that when he met a person, in his mind he gave them a score of 100. Those with a score of 100 and above he would give time to. The changes of your score were entirely up to you and how you interacted with Bob.  So, periodically I give myself the “Bob Test” – has my score gone up or down with those around me?  Do I care for people as much now as I did before? Do I treat people fairly? Do I keep my word? Do I act with honour and integrity?

A self assessment from time to time is good for my soul and is good to see how I am performing. Sticking to your values is sometimes not easy but I find that if I do, I can sleep well at night.

Bob did meet Joshua Nkomo later in life as well and while they had been enemies in the Bush War, they were able to talk with each other  with respect when they did meet.

Thank you Bob for the test. You are missed mate, but you have left so much behind for the rest of us.

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Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905 – Julian S. Corbett – Review

One of my favourite periods of Military History is the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 (RJW). I will also admit to an interest in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95  as well as  these were the last real naval battles of the pre-Dreadnought period (OK, so there was the First Balkan War of 1912-13 as well and the poor performance of the Turkish fleet there but I would still set the RJW as the watershed of the pre-Dreadnought naval battles).

My collection of books on this war includes the Fleet that had to Die by Richard Hough (ISBN-13: 978-1841580449 for a paperback version) and The Tide at Sunrise: A History of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05 by Denis Warne and Peggy Warner  (ISBN-13: 978-0714682341) but until recently I had not seen a copy of Corbett’s work

Julian Corbett (Later Sir Julian Corbett) wrote the Maritime Operations of the Russo-Japanese War as a confidential publication for the Intelligence Division of the Admiralty War Staff. It was never made available to the general reader until well after Corbett’s death. Corbett composes a picture of the war by writing a continuous narrative that weaves the interrelationship of land and sea events as they affect each other. He examines the political objectives, the geography of the area as well as the naval aspects to tell that story. Because Corbett writes in a continues narratives he is easy to read as well.

Naval Institute Press published a hardback version of Corbett’s work back in 1994. This is the first release of the history in paperback. It is also released in an eBook version (Kindle).

The publishers do note however that:

it was impossible to reproduce the illustrations that accompanied the 1914/15 edition of this work owing to their size and condition. References to maps, charts, and plates have been left in the text in order to maintain the scholarly integrity of the work. The only known originals of these illustrations can be found in the Library of the Royal Naval College and at the Naval Historical Branch, Ministry of Defense, London.

This is really the only criticism that I could make against this work but perhaps a quick side trip if visiting England could be fruitful.

After the preface, the book commences with the opening page from the 1914 report and notes that the publication is confidential. It then goes on to say:

This book I the property of H. M. Government
It is intended for the use of Officers generally, and may in certain cases be communicated to persons in H. M. Service below the rank of commissioned officer who may require to be acquainted with its contents in the course of their duties, The Officers exercising this power will be held responsible  that such information is imparted with due caution and reserve.

It then notes:

The attention of Officers is called to the fact that much of the information  which this history is based has been obtained through the courtesy of the Japanese Government in giving facilities to our Attaches, and in placing at the disposal of the Admiralty their confidential  History of the War. This was done under the understanding that the information should be kept strictly confidential, and it is therefore most desirable that the lessons learnt from this History should not be divulged to anyone not on the active list.

Japan was an ally of Britain at this time.

There are 25 chapters to the book as well as 12 Appendices. The appendices also include the fleet lists for both navies at the time of the confrontation.

This book belongs on any naval historian’s bookshelf, an now that it is available in both paperback and electronic form it is available to a wider reading audience.

I would recommend as well, as a companion set to Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Vols 1 and 2, looking for a copy of The Russo-Japanese War at Sea 1904-5: Volume 1-Port Arthur, the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan and Volume 2: The Battle of Tsushima and the Aftermath by Vladimir Semenoff for a view of the war from the Russian side.

The Product Details are:
Paperback : 600 pages
Publisher: Naval Institute Press (March 15, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1591141974
ISBN-13: 9781591141976

As I mentioned, highly recommended. I am now looking forward to getting  copy of Volume 2.

Grumpy Old Men

Twenty four years ago Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon made a movie called “Grumpy Old Men“. It was designed to cash in on the way Lemon and Matthau worked so well together in the movie of Neil Simon’s, “The Odd Couple” and I must admit that at times I feel there is a fair amount of Oscar Madison in me. The Odd Couple was made in 1968.

So what of it? 24 years ago I was a strapping lad of 39. The last thing on my mind was getting to an age when the wheels started to get a little wobbly on the trolley. Time passes and now I am starting to understand the Grumpy Old Man better.

This has not been helped by friends reminding me of my own mortality … like I needed to be reminded of that. So, I have decided that if I am going to be a Grumpy Old Fart, I will be the grumpiest old fart I can be!

You have been warned!

YouTube Channel

I am thinking of starting to cover my Work in Progress (WiP) as well as other interesting (well, interesting to me) items on YouTube and link to the videos from here. Book reviews will remain here for the time being. What’s in the package and painting progress will go into both locations plus the odd piece to help you see what I am up to and how I do it.

First off the rank will be by Cold War Commander Poles so what this space, or more likely the space above when I make my next post.

A Celebration of Sorts

11 Years?

It seems I have been registered with WordPress.com for 11 years now according to the little note from WordPress last week.

Thomo’s Hole has been around considerably longer however. The early efforts are recorded for posterity in the Internet Archive (WayBack Machine). Web pages from the days when the number of sites on the Internet numbered around 100,000, not the billions that exist today.

Thomo’s Hole originally pre-dated Internet Banking, iPhones, the Spice Girls and Italy’s second failure to beat a Korea in the football World Cup.

However, as a registered user of WordPress, initially self-hosted (or rather Jeffro hosted) then later with the thomo.coldie.net URL pointing to a WordPress.com site, then yes, it has been 11 years. There were other blogging platforms (or better, CMSs) previously. Microsoft Live Spaces was sweet to use, early versions of Drupal, phpNuke and even earlier versions of hand-crafted HTML and CSS. Yep, been here a while. I dare say Thomo’s Hole will remain around long after I am gone as well, although perhaps the thomo.coldie.net URL will drift out of use.

The only real question concerning me today is, “do I try and monetize Thomo’s Hole?”. WordPress gets the revenue from the little ads you see down below. If I do monetize, should I move it to a platform where I can maximize the revenue stream? A few questions to ponder tonight while I am basing up the Poles ready for painting or starting work on the JGSDF Type 74 or perhaps even finishing another book ready for revueing. Plenty of time to ponder.

New Year, New Projects … or …?

It is now the middle of January 2018 and already over 4% of the year has passed by. Normally at the start of the year I sit down and consider wargaming projects and other items I want to get through in the coming year at the same time reflecting on the previous years efforts. So, what did I achieve in 2017. Pretty much nothing. I did read a few books,  I did clean up and prepare some figures for painting at some time in the future, I had a couple of wargames (DBA in 6mm) with a mate and I finally got off my expansive behind and went to the Makati Marauders and played some boardgames. I also added a little to the lead-pile – mostly in the area of aeronefs and 1/1200 scale coastal ships although there was one 6mm Cold War Commander army added as well. I bought a lot of rare earth magnets too.

Not very much really.

What do I have planned for tonight? Same as every night Pinky, World Domination! Oops, sorry, channeling Pinky and the Brain

Plans for 2018? Paint. Game. Read!

Painting

I have a substantial lead pile here and this includes 2017 purchases as well as stock I brought up from mum’s on my last trip back to Oz. The painting queue starts with completing the painting and basing for the 6mm CWC Danish followed by the 6mm BKCII Italians.

Next under brush is likely to be the 1/1200 scale coastal forces – British and Germans first, then the Italians.

Completing the painting of the BKCII Japanese is the last of the already prepared items to be painted in immediate painting queue.

Preparation and Painting

Now we start to get into the lead-pile in earnest. So many choices here:

  • Imperial Skies Aeronefs
  • 2mm ground forces for Aeronefs
  • 1/3000 scale warships for WW1 (Jutland)
  • 1/3000 scale warships for WW2 (Matapan, Philippine Sea, Bismark, Spanish, Dutch)
  • 1/3000 scale modern naval fleet (Russian)
  • 6mm Punic Wars DBA project
  • Spacecraft
  • 1/2400 ancient naval vessels
  • 1/2400 Napoleonic naval
  • 6mm BKCII Hungarians
  • BKCII Late War Soviets

The list goes on!

Construction

There are a number of kits at home as well – both modern tanks in 1/72 scale and 1/700 scale World War 2 battleships. I would like to get back into modelling again and refresh/rediscover my previous modelling skills.

Reading

I have a fallen behind on my reading rate lately. I want to get back to averaging a book every two weeks. Fiction for relaxation, non-fiction for learning and challenging my thinking.

Gaming

As I have been particularly inert in getting to the local gaming clubs, I need to get off my rapidly becoming more extensive bottom and get to the local club at least once every two weeks.

So, that is the plan for 2018. Somewhat less structured than previous years but a guide to the next few months never-the-less.

Watch this space for updates.

Review: Maximinus Thrax – From Common Soldier to Emperor of Rome – Paul N Pearson

Maximinus ThraxFrom Common Soldier to Emperor of Rome – Paul N Pearson
published by Pen & Sword
Pages: 296
ISBN: 9781473847033
Published: 24th August 2016

Maximinus Thrax, the Thracian, originally named Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus, was born circa 173 CE in Thrace and died in 238 CE, near Aquileia. He was the first soldier to rise through the ranks to become Roman emperor although his reign only lasted 3 years (235–238 CE). He was a Thracian tribesman “of frightening appearance and colossal size”. There were many feats of the strongman told about him and it was these strongman feats that brought him to the attention of emperor Severus. Maximinus was enlisted into the imperial bodyguard where he had a distinguished military career eventually achieving a senior command in the Roman invasion of Persia in 232 CE. Later he became emperor in a military coup. He was eventually ousted in a civil war pushed by the Senate against him.

I have been very much looking forward to my review copy of this arriving which, after a couple of redirects, finally found its way to me in the Philippines. I have been looking forward to this for a couple of reasons. One is that my knowledge of Rome is mostly based in the times of Augustus and earlier and second, I have been reading a fair bit of historical fiction of late set in the period of Rome in the second and third centuries CE. Harry Sidebottom’s series, Throne of the Caesars, is set in the reigns of Alexander Severus and Maximinus Thrax.

Pearson’s work is a narrative history of the life and times of Maximinus Thrax up to and past his assassination. It reads like a thriller, equipped as it is with various accounts of the treachery and assassination that were central to Roman politics.

Pearson covers the subject well, so well and in such an interesting manner that I am now looking for further reading concerning those times. The book itself is a great read and only real world time constraints (my day job) forced me to put it down at night.

My biggest surprise concerning Maximinus is that he has not been the subject of a movie yet.

I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has in interest in these times. I can also thoroughly recommend it to those who you who don’t as I am sure after reading this volume you will be searching for more information about this interesting period.

Quality Reading

Quality Reading at its best!
Quality Reading at its best!

One of the nice things about slipping back to Oz periodically is to catch up on some quality reading.

I did! Nine Phantom comics with 12 stories. That should keep me going until my next trip back to Australia!

As the bloke in Nambucca News Agent said, “no one used to buy these except me but now a lot of blokes come on and buy”.

“It’s the pictures”, I said!

Right – story number one about Mr Walker (*for Ghost who walks)

Merry Christmas

Ho, ho, bloody ho!
Ho, ho, bloody ho!

As Christmas Day has just slid past in Oz, at least on the East Coast, I thought I should get my Christmas Greetings out. Today was great, a nice relaxed day, large lunch, afternoon nap and now sitting in the cool of the evening and reflecting on the past year. More on that later.

Today, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe, happy New Year. As for me, I promise never again to spend nearly 6 hours with three gay hairdressers for a Christmas Party appearance. I certainly will never bleach my beard again … the smell was overpowering. The sparkling grey hair has turned to Ash Blonde so is due for the chop later this week.

Normal Thomo is resuming life as we know it!