Feeling a little like Robinson Crusoe – Day 17 of Community Quarantine

Needing a beard trim and a haircut … or a coconut palm and a Man Friday!

Needing a beard trim and a haircut … or a coconut palm and a Man Friday!

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719, so 301 years ago this month. It was one of my favourite novels in my late teen years but now I am starting to feel like Crusoe, and indeed look like Crusoe. 

We have just completed 17 days of extended community quarantine here in Manila where we are working from home and only permitted out to collect food, medicine, see a doctor, or in my case, walk to the office if there are machines that need resetting. My only exposure to the outside currently then is the daily collecting of a can of beer from the local convenience store and to collect dinner from the Grab food delivery guy around 6:00 pm. Funnily, it is very tiring in this environment but hopefully, once we get past Easter here, we will be able to get out and about more often as restrictions ease up. Hopefully also we will have “flattened the curve” and life will be safer for the elderly and those with medical conditions.

Now, all I need is a visit to a gentlemen’s hairdresser – or a beach, a coconut palm, and a Man Friday!

Prisoner — Inmate No. 6

The Statistics from 00:30 on 20 March (Philippine Standard Time)

With apologies to Patrick McGoohan – trapped, inside the idyllic Legaspi Village — actually, not entirely sure how idyllic, however this COVID-19 “community quarantine” is starting to get on my goat a little as we stretch into Day 5 here of the extended quarantine. Firstly, I find that I am becoming addicted to the statistics, and each morning before ablutions and breakfast, I check the stats.

Last thing at night, yep, check the stats again. I will also confess that I check the buggers at lunch time and dinner time as well (now, at lunch today, 12 hours after the stats on the left were taken, the total cases has hit 244,517 cases – with the US rocking up the charts, having overtaken the French they are now rapidly closing in on the Germans).

Legaspi Street these days

As the apartment I am in is a massive 42 square metres in size, and as the amenity area in the condominium building is closed for “disinfecting”, cabin fever* sets in fairly quickly. For those unaware, “Cabin Fever” (according to Wikipedia) refers to the distressing claustrophobic irritability or restlessness experienced when a person, or group, is stuck at an isolated location or in confined quarters for an extended period of time. A person may be referred to as stir-crazy, derived from the use of stir to mean ‘prison’.

To relieve that, each day I slip out on to Legaspi Street, normally a busy thoroughfare, and head to the local convenience store where I buy 1 can of beer. As beer is food for Aussie, if stopped by police or military I can claim I am merely outside getting some food!

Ayala Avenue – where the office is

The cable guy … sorry, network guy, from the office is stuck outside of Metro Manila and can’t pass through the checkpoints. This results in me heading up to the office from time to time in shorts and t-shirt, to act as first junior assistant trainee network engineer and follow to the letter his commands over the phone.

No air conditioning in the office, and basically the building is deserted except for a few people and the security guards so I feel safe from viral infestation. 

The “community quarantine”, a lock-down by any other name, is restrictive and designed to slow the spread of the virus so the medical system dies not get overloaded.

Ayala Avenue – the other way

The main conditions are:

  1. No public gatherings
  2. Remain in home and work from home where possible
  3. Metro Manila is closed to the rest of the world now with international visitors banned (except Filipinos and permanent residents and families) and no domestic travel in by land, sea or air. Police and Army are manning checkpoints at the entry points to ensure rules are followed
  4. Cities within Metro Manila may also close their municipal boundaries
  5. A State of Calamity over the entire country has been raised by the president

Emergency and front line services plus necessary deliveries can pass through the checkpoints (doctors, nurses, police, food deliveries etc) and grocery, supermarket, convenience and drug stores have been asked to continue operating. Shopping malls however, are closed. And all this is to last until 12 to 14 April (just after the Easter break). The bottom line is, stay at home and maintain social distancing of a metre (in Australia, 1.5 metres, 2 metres in the US).

Condo Management Assisting with Social Distancing

The condominium management, I guess they are living in now, have been assisting with social distancing. Last night I arrived back from my network support and beer run to see the elevators had been enhanced.

Not quite a metre apart and to be honest, I thought it would have been more efficient to have the foot prints all facing away from each other for that reduced social distancing to work … I have not heard of transmission from bum to bum bumping!

To break up the day, after shower and breakfast I change into dark shorts and t-shirt. When it is quitting time for the day, I change shorts and t-shirt again. sort of breaks the day up between work and me time.

Two modern Japanese Warships (Izumi and Kirishima)

For relaxing in the evening, I should be painting a pile of half painted aircraft however some small (1/3000 scale) plastic ships were delivered to me from Japan Hobby. The ships are kits, small kits I will admit, but are quick to build. The detail is superb so I am thinking of building them all this week, then paint, then sell my older metals hips.

Best, these ships are also quite inexpensive relative to other similar models. The image below will give an idea of the size and scale of these vessels. 

In the meantime, stay safe, take care and wash your hands … again!

Mag-ingat at tandaan na hugasan ang iyong mga kamay.

Japan Ship Izumi – model about 9cm long, fat thumb mine

 

Philippines Bucket List

When I was back in Oz for Christmas it was bush fires. The bush had been burning in my home state of New South Wales since last August-September but mercifully recent heavy rain has either put out or allowed the Rural Fire Service yo being the remaining fires under control, although the rain has brought problems of its own. The fire season is now two-thirds the way through so hopefully there is no more damage to come, especially in the hotter days of February. All us cockroaches hoped for rain, a lot of it but it looks like we got somewhat more than we wished for.

I got back to Manila on New Year’s Eve. The Philippines has been an interesting learning experience for me. I experienced first hand my first typhoon back in either 2001 or 2002 when I was staying at the Sofitel on Manila Bay. Seeing the waves break over the sea wall was quite an experience, from the safety of my hotel room.

Last year it was earthquakes, and one in particular which gave Manila a good shaking, mercifully not causing a great deal of damage, unlike more recent quakes in the Mindanao area of the Philippines.

I was teasing mum about having clean air in Manila while she was suffering from bushfire smoke when Taal volcano decided to blow its top a little, spewing ash, smoke and steam into the atmostphere. Taal (pronounced Ta’al) is one of the most active volcanoes around, and is about 70 km from the centre of Metro Manila. So I got to experience my first ash fall.

The bucket-list? See:

  1. Typhoon – check
  2. Earthquake – check
  3. Volcano – check
  4. and now, Pandemic – check

It is more fun in the Philippines

One Twelfth of 2020 has Passed

Wow. What a January! Well, actually, what a late December that segued into January. A mix of a a stressful, bloody annoying, frustrating, painful (physically and emotionally) and downright crappy period. Sliding into February and it does not really look any better. I am too stressed even to paint at the moment so I have fallen back on a plan B and have been building (badly) a 1/35th scale kit.

What has happened. Those of you that know me well, will know that I spent Christmas back in Oz with mother, but also visited or were visited by my kids and grandkids. Of course, Christmas was full-on bushfires all over the east coast and particularly near mum. Lots of smoky air. I returned to Manila (not missing the flight this year) and was teasing mum about being back in clean air when Taal Volcano decided to pop its cork, or at least let off a lot of steam. Ash fall it was, and a new expression as I had not experienced ash fall like that at all before. Still, now for the Philippines I can tick off from my list:

  • typhoon
  • earthquake
  • volcano

Volcano quietens down and along comes 2019-nCoV (new Coronavirus). Masks were already scarcer than hen’s teeth here because of bloody Taal and also now in rapid short supply is isopropyl hand wash and anti-bacterial soap. Fortunately, I had some isopropyl alcohol on my modelling desk (acts as a flow improver for airbrushing, although I have not tried that yet).

Work has been particularly stressful. I don’t normally talk about work here and I will refrain again however, suffice it to say it has been particularly crappy. Lastly, a short trip to Bangkok last week for work was a nice break, back to talking to potential clients. I am hoping for more of that in the coming future, if only for my ongoing sanity.

In the meantime, the plan is to deal with the last of the crappy work issues, get some action working with new clients, get the three book reviews I have read to write written and posted (one is the Battle of Manila from World War 2 so with much familiar ground), finish that damned 1/35 scale tank and paint it and then get back into some figure painting – Anglo-Saxons up next. Lastly keep reading the historical fiction for both sanity and insanity (insanity as it keeps leading me to thinking about new plans and projects for wargames and therefore more spending on figures – did I mention Late Romans, Patricians, Scots, Irish, Picts, Sub-Roman British?). I also need to spend more time with my local family. By the time I get to see them it will have been two months 😦

Lastly, some good news … grandchild number 5 arrived last week. Welcome aboard young Oswald!

Interesting semi-Military Modern Army Training Video

One of my favourite YouTube channels at the moment is the Jolly channel. The main two characters of this are Josh and Ollie (hence Jolly). Josh is quite well known in Korea as the Korean Englishmen as he is fluent in Korean. Occassional guests on his channels are Reverend Chris and Major Charles – one a minister of the church (Church of England I believe) and the other a major in the British Army (Commandos). These two are identical twins. On the Korean Englishmen channel a series has been made where Rev. Chris and Maj. Charles are taken to various places in Korea. One such location was a Korean Army base.

This is one of best episodes I have seen but all are well worth the 10 to 15 minutes each one takes. Enjoy watching “British Twins go Training with the Korean Army Commandos…!!??” on YouTube

Preparing the Soviet I-16s and SB-2s

Fat fingers drill little holes

It is and was a fairly straightforward job. Drill a few 3mm diameter holes into a soft metal and glue a 3mm diameter rare earth magnet into the hole.

The other side of the process is to add a rare earth magnet, with the polarity reversed, to the flight stand.

A very straightforward process indeed.

A stack of 3mm rare earth magnets

Of course, it would have been easier and quicker to use a small electric drill or electric screwdriver to make the holes. Unfortunately, I did not have one available so it was out with the trusty twist drill.

This is somewhat of a trial to use, especially for drilling larger diameter holes and plays havoc with the developing arthritis in my fingers and thumbs but, as they say, one should suffer for one’s art!

One magnet, one blade, ready for gluing

Now, as a guide, here are a number of 3mm rare earth magnets in the packet that they are supplied in. Fiddly little things, especially when one has fingers that are just a wee bit fulsome … OK, bordering on fat, thumbs and fingers.

So, the best assistance in this case is the Exacto knife. Use the thin edge of the blade to separate the magnets from the stack by carefully sliding the knife in.

And yes, the blurry I-16 in the background shows where I store the magnets I am about to use to determine their polarity.

Magnet in place

Those that are going in the recess created in the aircraft (see left) are removed from the stack. At this point, the end of the magnet that needs to be glued to the air-frame is the side of the magnet that is against the blade so the magnet will need to be reversed.

The simplest way to achieve this is to let the magnet grip one of the stands that have already had their magnets glued in. Now, sliding it off on the Exacto and the side that required gluing will be facing outwards.

And … it works

A  drop  of superglue then slide the magnet off the Exacto blade by dragging the blade off the magnet while the magnet is pressed either into the hole in the aircraft or onto the surface of the peg in the stand.

What we then have is an aircraft that will magnetically attach to the stand, making transport and storage a breeze.

The aircraft can easily be removed for painting and for storage as it will store flat, saving the need for magnetic sheet under the base. In fact, I am thinking that a thin strip of magnetic metal across the bottom of a storage box will allow for storage secure enough for moving figures from home to game.

Sometimes even I screw up

This is what the bottom of the aircraft looks like when you glue a magnet in the wrong way round. These magnets are quite tough and try as I might, I was not able to dislodge a glued one from the aircraft body, certainly not without some very high powered electric tools and a lot of modelling putty for later repair.

My solution, whack in a second magnet with the correct polarity.

“Why didn’t you just set some bases with the magnets the other way round” I hear you ask? Well, I thought about it but then it makes it a little difficult when setting up as I need to shuffle models and bases around until I get it right. This way all bases can be used for any aircraft.

The bio-metric door locks are screwed tomorrow … or … I am ready for my first bank job leaving no fingerprints

Lastly, this is what my finger looked like after all that super gluing. The bio-metric lock at work’s going to have trouble with me today!

Thank goodness there is some superglue remover available. A few squeezes of that and rub vigorously and voila, finger as good as new (except it didn’t work on the bio-metric locks!

Update 14 January 2020: Bob Flywheel suggested the following on my FaceBook:

“Why didn’t you just epoxy a magnet to the underside? Much easier!

Yes, thank you Bob … don’t you love people who come up with simple solutions right after you’ve gone the full Monty on a complicated, elegant one? Short answer Bob – it looks better 😛

Foul Evil Infamy and Mind Control … I weakened

Curse You Bob Flywheel had me thinking about more aerial wargaming, in particular, the Korean Air War, MiG Alley and all that. Every night this week has seen me reading and thinking further on the topic. Last night I weakened.

I did however show some restraint in not buying a complete set of 1945 to 1950 jet aircraft. Instead, I had a look at the next World War aerial warfare project I wanted to consider and one where some of the aircraft would be reusable for later conflicts. I settled on the late Pacific War – B-29s and P-51Ds up against Ki-44 Tojos and J2M Raidens. I added a couple of ring-ins just because I am a wargames tart and can’t keep to a simple purchase plan, and besides, there may come a time I need and aircraft of the type that only two were ever built! 😉

The purchases were:

Aircraft Collectair Heroics&Ros
B-29 3
P-51D 4
Ki-44 11B Shoki “Tojo” 4
J2M Raiden “Jack” 4
Kyushu J7W1 Shinden 1
B-17 C/D 3

Prototype J7W Shinden

OK, so I did not really need the Shinden, or indeed, the B-17s for the late war Pacific but hey, as I said, I am a tart, and even if I don’t “need” them now, I am sure I will need them some time in the future.

I did debate over Collectair vs Heroics and Ros and decided on Collectair for the B-29s as I think I have an Heroics and Ros B-29 back at home under the house at mum’s (Thomo’s Macksville Hole).

There were some additional purchases such as aircraft stands, 1/300 scale buildings, decals and the like but the aircraft were the principal purchases. The guilty feeling passed in about 30 seconds. Onward now with brush in hand, Anglo-Saxons to commence the Dark Age project await along with Soviet Winter War aircraft to complete that project.

Time Passes

I was checking some contacts in LinkedIn, or rather LinkedIn was offering me suggestions from my address book – not just the office address book but also my private gmail address book. It started to become a somewhat disturbing exercise as some of the names offered up to connect with had passed away over the last ten years or so. In a couple of cases, about 20 years ago.

That had me thinking (apart from thinking about how mortal I suddenly was). I started to wonder if it was somehow disrespectful or suppressing a memory of these folk to delete them from my address book. After all, I had known many of them for quite a few years. There were still email conversations with some of them in my inbox and sent mail folders, at least ever since Google starting keeping every email I ever read or wrote.

To delete or not to delete? Something to ponder over a single malt one evening soon.

The Stringbags – New Release

Dead Reckoning have released The Stringbags a graphic novel written by Garth Ennis; drawn by PJ Holden; colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick and; lettered by Rob Steen.

Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy began World War II with torpedo bombers that could devastate enemy warships and merchantmen at will. Britain’s Royal Navy squadrons went to war equipped with the Fairey Swordfish. A biplane torpedo bomber in an age of monoplanes, the Swordfish was underpowered and under-gunned; an obsolete museum piece, an embarrassment. Its crews fully expected to be shot from the skies. Instead, they flew the ancient “Stringbag” into legend.

Rob Williams, author of Judge Dredd and Unfollow noted:

A reserve crew in a hopelessly outdated biplane attacking the might of a battleship convoy in the early days of World War Two. The Stringbags is, like the best well-researched military history, delivered with genuine heart— something Garth Ennis excels at. A gripping underdog tale filled with spectacle and tragedy, featuring career-best art from PJ Holden.

If you do the incredible often enough, they’ll want you to do the impossible.

Writer Garth Ennis and artist PJ Holden present The Stringbags, an original graphic novel based on the true story of the Royal Navy’s Swordfish crews in early World War II.

A biplane torpedo bomber in an age of monoplanes, the Fairey Swordfish was underpowered and under-gunned; an obsolete museum piece, an embarrassment. Its crews fully expected to be shot from the skies. Instead, they flew the ancient “Stringbag” into legend. From their triumphs against the Italian Fleet at Taranto and the mighty German battleship Bismarck in the Atlantic, to the deadly challenge of the Channel Dash in the bleak winter waters of their homeland.

The Stringbags is an epic tale of young men facing death in an aircraft almost out of time. They lived as they flew, without a second to lose—and the greatest tributes to their courage would come from the enemy who strove to kill them.

Garth Ennis has been writing comics since 1989. Credits include Preacher, The Boys (both adapted for TV), Hitman and successful runs on The Punisher and Fury for Marvel Comics. He is particularly known for his war comics, including War Stories, Battlefields, Out of the Blue, Sara, and a recent revival of the classic British series Johnny Red. Originally from Northern Ireland, Ennis now lives in New York City with his wife, Ruth.

PJ Holden is a Belfast-based comic artist. Best known for his work for 2000AD on Judge Dredd, over the last twenty years he’s also drawn Rogue Trooper, Robocop/Terminator, James Bond: M, World of Tanks, and Battlefields. He is the co-creator of Dept. of Monsterology and Numbercruncher. He is married to Annette and has two children, Thomas and Nathan.

Kelly Fitzpatrick is a Hugo nominated comic book colorist and illustrator. She has worked on everything from Kickstarter and indie publications to DC graphic novels. Kelly spends all of her free time doting on her dog, Archie as well as training dogs, doing yoga and aerial acrobatics, and self-publishing her own books.

Rob Steen has lettered comics for all major comic book companies. He is also the illustrator of the children’s book series Flanimals, written by Ricky Gervais, and Erf, written by Garth Ennis.

The book is available from the US Naval Institute Press and is set for publication on 15 May, 2020. It’s ISBN is 9781682475034.

I for one am looking forward to this.

Irsk Festuke – 1997 or 1998

It was St Patrick’s Day,  many  years  ago. A pub in Trondheim, Dirty Nelly’s (since gone) was advertising their Irsk festuke (or Irish party week).

I had been to Dirty Nelly’s St Patrick’s party the year before. Truth be known, I had been to Dirty Nelly’s pretty much every Friday and Saturday night for nigh on three years – some habits are difficult to break.

Anyway, this was the advertisement in the local press advertising the event. Yours truly is included in the advertisement … see if you can see Thomo the Lost!