Well that was the week that was — the next week!

So, we are now at the week after the week that was. The condo building has three more days quarantine to serve then should have its quarantine restrictions eased. The mega city that is Metro Manila has another week to go before the government decides on whether to ease, tighten, or leave the restrictions as they are. Some of the cities in Metro Manila are performing better in comparison to others but will the government set tighter restrictions for some cities over the others?

After watching Kesari last week I have avoided rushing off and building a Sikh force for the Pehawar project … just!

I was able to work back in the office from Tuesday which was great. I am slowly cleaning my stuff out of the office in preparation for my exit from SOFGEN at the end of next week. Four more work days, then I think I will take a couple of weeks with my feet up, then full on looking for more work … if you know anyone who wants an old fat project manager, CIO, country head or similar, I am available!

The rules and the Army blocked up for the “press shot” 🙂

On the wargaming front, I completed the Anglo-Saxon DBA Army this time last week with the varnishing. Last Monday night I took the press shots of them (on the left and see 6mm Anglo-Saxons for DBA — 701-1016 CE). They are now waiting for me to get off my fat backside and paint up an opponent.

As for the middle eastern village buildings I was working on,  let me note that I have actually managed to do nothing at all on it this week.

It still looks exactly the same as the photograph below – in fact, it hasn’t moved at all on my painting/office table area thingy.

Plan is that today, I WILL finish these buildings. Some roofs, some windows darkened, a little sepia (maybe) wash and a dry brush and they will be finished.

I will then clean up the coffee table and my painting desk so I can do a couple of things. One is prepare the 2mm army for paint. Second is to sort books that arrived in the last nine months in a read/unread stack. Then I want to lay out some board games for a few solo games. Lastly I will need some space for a new laptop. My old one (now 5 years old) is giving me problems with the power supply – but it is probably a good time to get a new one.

So, a week when not so much has happened but hopefully ready to springboard into my last week at SOFGEN, then a couple of weeks of relaxation. Of course, the prospect of spending quality time by a pool with a hollowed out pineapple, a rum based drink in it and a fruit salad hanging off the side with an umbrella to reduce evaporation, well, in the middle of a pandemic, that may be hard to arrange but we will have a little period of relaxing.

Right then, where are my brushes?


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Well that was the week that was!

Well, that was the week that was. Monday was a normal day, well as normal as it can be under General Community Quarantine. Tuesday morning, however, things got interesting. There was a note on the wall of the condo elevator as I was walking to the office.  I didn’t read it until getting to the office. It noted that there was an active Covid-19 case identified in the condo. Letting my Admin Manager, know, I was instructed to:

  1. Go home
  2. Get a test to ensure I was negative, and
  3. That the office would be closed until after my test then a deep clean would be organised (I did wonder why the wait)

The specimen was collected when a doctor dropped around to the apartment and shoved a swab the length of my umbrella up each of my nostrils. Technically it does not hurt but my goodness don’t the tears half fall?

Result came back today, SARS-Cov-2 viral RNA NOT DETECTED.

Great, life can return to near normal and I can exit the Condo from time to time.

I still managed to work from home, uncomfortable as it was, finishing up a few things before my enforced retirement at the end of the month. I also worked on finishing up some wargaming things that had been hanging around. I also managed to catch a few movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

One that I really enjoyed was Kesari, a movie made in 2019 (IMDB Reference) which is based on the real story of the Battle of Saragarhi in which an force of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Pathans in 1897.

The background story is based around Havildar Ishar Singh disobeying orders from his English officer and saving a Pathan woman from the local mullah and men. This was on the North-West Frontier in Tirah, about 20 miles from Chat, 40 miles from Peshawar. After that, Havilday Singh was sent to the outpost and then the Pathans decided to get restless.

Wikipedia notes about the battle:

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought before the Tirah Campaign on 12 September, 1897 between the British Raj and Afghan tribesmen. On 12 September 1897, estimated 12,000 – 24,000 Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen were seen near Gogra, at Samana Suk and round Saragarhi, cutting off Fort Gulistan from Fort Lockhart. The Afghans attacked the outpost of Saragarhi where thousands of Afghans swarmed and surrounded the fort, preparing to assault it. The soldiers in the fort, who were all Sikhs and led by Havildar Ishar Singh, chose to fight to the death, in what is considered by some military historians as one of history’s greatest last stands. The post was recaptured two days later by another British Indian contingent.

Well, according to the movie, 21 Sikhs and a Pathan cook.

The movie was brilliant, although without English dubbing. Still the subtitles were adequate for following the plot lines and once the Pathans attacked, it was not difficult to work out what was being yelled.

Best of all, the area the filming was in allowed me to get an idea of land form and colours on the North-West Frontier and therefore for my Peshawar project.

Over the rest of the week I worked on finishing the Anglo-Saxon 6mm DBA Army as well as the Middle Eastern Peshawar buildings (building progress photographed to the left).

The DBA Anglo-Saxons had the edges of the flags painted to remove the white edge and blend the flags in.

The Anglo-Saxons were then varnished with a spray matt varnish. The varnish is Liquitex Professional Matt Varnish an seems to have worked well. The army is shown on the right with the varnish drying.

The Liquitex Matt Varnish was the only spray varnish I could get from the local paint store. For gloss or satin, all I have are varnishes that require brushing on – perfect for ships, less so multiple figures on a base.

What’s next? Well tonight it is time for the Virtual Wargames Club (and tomorrow at 14:30 local time). After which, I will take some “press release” photos of the Anglo-Saxons, finish the Middle East village and then clean my painting table/office, as well as the  coffee table just over there to the right. I want to lay out a board game or two and have a play. In addition, I will also be looking for a new job more seriously as well as brushing up my COBOL skills and maybe learning ELM.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a little more of my movie recommendation (and in case you are wondering, in true Bollywood style, they did manage to weave two songs into the movie!

The Bridge

So I noted that I had hit The Wall the other day. Last night I gave myself a good slapping for both The Wall and noticing that the refrigerator (fridge, ref) was empty of beer and it was 10 minutes after curfew!

Decided that while a coffee was a poor second choice, it would need to do, so I decided to settle down with a coffee and finish off the Soviet aircraft so I have one complete new(ish) wargame set available. Photos will follow as tonight I just need to varnish them all and then will photograph collection tomorrow.

Getting some paint time in allows me to clear my head and think clearly, or rather achieve a state of “non-thinking”. Buddhists achieve this by meditating, I reach the same state painting and have the added benefit of having painted wargame figures at the end of the process rather than painful knees and hips from prolonged sitting cross-legged on the floor and chanting “Om Mani Padme Hum” for hours on end.

So what was my enlightenment  last night? Basically (no dice needed):

  1. Keep painting
  2. Brush up on COBOL skills (demanded coders these days)
  3. Learn Java 😦
  4.  Send CV to all contacts that can assist with contract work (obviously)
  5. Pick up some beer on the way home tomorrow night

So, next on the painting queue after the Soviet aircraft tonight? The 6mm Saxons, followed by a few 1/1200 scale coastal vessels then some 2mm imagi-nations.

On the technical front? Get gnuCOBOL working on one of my laptops and start a little coding project (will likely also require a database so double skills refreshing). Start learning Java – at least two hours a day.

On the job front – send CV to at least three potential employers/clients and follow up two previous contacts each day!

There! Sorted. Bring on the challenges, I’m ready to kick arse (or ass for you ‘mericans)! Oh, and pick up some beer on the way home!

The Wall

I’ve hit a wall, at least with wargaming, painting and books, my three pastimes (included in that is historical research which cuts across all three). About halfway through the current pandemic, I had no issues. We had managed to have all our staff working from home so everyone had a job and was being paid, the typhoon passed through with no damage to friends, staff and relatives, and I was happily working on securing some more business for the company. Relaxing time was spent painting some 1/285 scale aircraft and catching up on books I had not read. That all changed when the company I work for decided that I should be mandatorily retired as I was 65.

Now I am out chasing work (or rather staying in as part of the General Community Quarantine, chasing work). As I mention frequently, “Have Passport, Will Travel” (with apologies to Sam Rolfe, Herb Meadow and Richard Boone). I am looking for contract work for the next two years or so, either project management, COBOL programming (I have many years experience there a lifetime ago), or even as a fill-in executive.

The timing of all this is just perfect — looking for work in the middle of a pandemic, with rising unemployment rates, and where I am supposed to remain inside, is a challenge at best. Still, on the plus side, the labor laws of the Philippines ensure that unlike the time my job was made redundant in Singapore by that French company, this time at least, I will walk away with enough to see me through for the next few months while I find a replacement gig.

The Wall? Well, I am sitting here, on a Saturday afternoon at my painting come work spot in the apartment, looking at some Saxons who need paint, some Soviet aircraft to complete, some coastal ships and boats I prepared for painting about three years ago, a Napoleonic Prussian army prepared for painting 10 years ago, and about 10 unread books waiting for review … and I am not sure what to do.

Wargamer’s Decision time:

  1. Indeciselevly sit and have a coffee
  2. Books
  3. Soviet aircraft
  4. Coastal vessels
  5. Napoleonic Prussians
  6. Saxons

Bugger! At least it is simple and quick. Time to slap myself, get up of my arse and get moving!

Now, where’s my coffee mug?

Typhoon Ambo and the Manila Bay Cruise Ships

Typhoon Ambo is heading towards Manila even as I type this. It started as a Tropical Depression off the coast of Mindanao and strengthened to a Typhoon as it progressed north then north-west. It will pass near Manila this afternoon or evening and we are currently under Typhoon Warning Signal #2 in Manila. Surrounding areas (Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Bulacan and Pampanga for example) are also under TWS#2.

The cruise ships that were anchored in Manila Bay returning Filipino crew to the Philippines put to sea last night or early this morning to get some sea room should the waters become rough in the Bay and the wind strengthen. This way they will not break anchor cables and are better able to ride our storms when steaming. The illustration above shows the number of them just  off the coast now. I expect them to return tomorrow.

Manila Bay – COVID-19 Isolation Ward of Cruise Ships

When the boat comes in … OK, ship. Three on the horizon arriving, one departing

Over the last week or so of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, I tend to look out (wistfully) several times a day over Manila Bay. I have seen a few ships arriving and the odd ship leaving. Cruise ships, like aircraft, carry transponders so their positions can be logged real time wherever they are in the world. So I did a bit of googling and found the Cruise Mapper website where you can see ships sailing and their courses as well as those docked. More in that later.

Ships parked in the Bay – Ruby Princess highlighted

The now infamous “plague ship” that carried so many COVID-19 infections back into Australia in March, the Ruby Princess, sailed from Sydney to Manila, arriving here a couple of days ago. She is anchored in the Bay (highlighted). The purpose of her trip here was, I believe, to be able to offload the remaining 100 or so Filipino crew still on board, 396 Filipino crew having been flown from Australia back to the Philippines about a month ago on a chartered flight.

120kms off the coast

It hasn’t just been vessels coming, there have been a few going as well.  Over the day about 6  vessels have sailed out of Manila but at the same time, a few have also arrived.

Not all vessels are anchored in Manila Bay however. Carnival Splendour is anchored about 110kms off the coast. This morning Carnival Panorama was also anchored about 15kms away from her. By this evening, Pacific Explorer had anchored about 150kms off the coast having been sailing towards Manila this morning. Carnival Panorama has left. Perhaps they need to wait for a pilot to come to the ship to guide it into the bay, or a spare anchoring position to be available within the bay.

The world view this morning

As seen on this map, there are not so many cruise ships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans currently but still a great number in the Atlantic, most heading towards Europe, and  perhaps home ports and some heading towards the Cape of Good Hope.

The Pink coloured vessels in the Mediterranean and on the coast of Western Europe are ferries. Across the top of Russia, the ice breakers are apparent.

However, Manila Bay does seem to have more than an average number of vessels present, hence the COVID-19 Isolation Ward for Cruise Ships.

There is a similar application on the Internet for tracking aircraft movements, Flight Radar 24, which shows the position of aircraft in real time. Even now, there are a lot of aircraft in the air, but no so many in the busy air corridors over Australia.

Real time flight tracking

Growing Old

I was reminded of my childhood today when someone in a tweet made a passing remark about the night cart! For you youngsters reading this, when I was a kid (and we are talking 1958 to 1960)  the thunderbox was in the backyard and twice a week, in the wee small hours of the morning (pun unattended), the night cart would come around and and the carter would discretely although not so quietly, replace the used pan with an empty pan. The pans appeared to be coated with a black substance, I guess it was tar of some form.

Redback vs Lizard – this is not a big lizard and redbacks are quite small By Calistemon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12853851

As kids we were given a right clip behind the ears if we left any toys in the side passage where the night carter used to pass in the dark – the last thing anyone wanted was that he should slip and fall, especially on the way out.

Also required at this time was whenever heading to the thunderbox, first one would gently lift the toilet seat and check for any redback spiders, which could provide a very nasty surprise if one sat a little too quickly and without checking.

Of course, the redback on the toilet seat is something that as an Aussie, well, it is a cultural thing.

Eventually we had a sullage pit installed and that was the end of the night cart at home, although from 1961 to 1962 one of my chores was to pump the damn thing once or twice a week – and one continued to check the toilet seat until toilets came inside the house.

The old thunderboax, on summer evenings, well, the smell was atrocious and once you performed the redback check, you would them be attacked by swarms of mozzies (mosquitoes). Inside toilets were a long overdue luxury.

Butter, that item that makes pretty much everything better, was item that has changed over my lifetime. The butter is still basically the same as always, churned milk, but these days it comes from the refrigerator rock hard. When I was a kid, it was kept on the bench in the kitchen, covered, ready for use. In winter it was rock hard when you wanted to butter your toast but in summer, you didn’t spread it on but rather poured it onto the toast.

We also had an icebox, and the iceman used to come twice a week to  put another block of ice in the top. It was not so big so the butter remained out but fresh food, meat etc went into the ice box to keep it cool and away from the flies. It didn’t matter than we had fly paper hanging in the kitchen, only about 50% of the flies ever manager to get stuck to the paper and die

Tonight my sister mentioned a kerosene refrigerator, asking did we have one. As soon as she did, my mind remembered the smell of the kerosene in the kitchen. we eventually replaced the ice box with a kerosene refrigerator. The kero fridges work by an absorption process (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_refrigerator for an explanation), although as a five or six year old, I had no idea how it worked, it just did!

So, a load of memories from the mention of the night cart and the smells my memory recalled.

Day 49 passing, 13 days to go (hopefully)

It’s grown some more!  Tom Hanks and Castaway definitely comes to mind. There are two photos side-by-side showing the increase in hair length due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

25 days into ECQ 49 days into ECQ

Allegedly hair and beard grows at about 12mm (1/2 inch) per month although my heads current position seems to suggest that statistically, my head is an outlier! It is larger than average head size, one reason I do not often wear a hat as it is difficult to find one that fits.

This weekend is another holiday weekend but it comes on top of a stressful period at work. More on that latter when matters are clearer. Inertia, at least in my non-work life, has been the battle this past two weeks. Most of what I planned to do last long weekend, I never got around to doing. Of the planned items, I started to get my eBook collection in some order and located in one area on my hard drive and in two clouds. I have not loaded the complete library to my tablet yet, but I have started getting it in one place. I have also been looking at eReaders but I still have not finally settled on one. I think what I would like is a hybrid of about three of them. 

I also had a look at multi-platform Apps for cataloging my physical book collection. I have two possible favourites at the moment, just trying to decide which one provides the best multi-platform support – or at least Android, Windows and Linux.  

Last month I listed possible tasks for the near future. They were:

  • build more little ships
  • finish the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s
  • paint the 1/300 scale Tupolev SB-2s
  • read a book
  • paint some 6mm ancient Anglo-Saxons
  • build a large kit
  • start of new wargaming project?

Of those tasks, I have been reading a book (which is pushing me more and more towards a new project) and working on the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s – these are almost finished, requiring just a few more decals (see to the left).

I am determined this weekend to finish setting up Linux on one laptop here and using either IBM or gnucobol, work on brushing up my COBOL skills. I will also clear a table so I can at least game a little over the next week or two.

If all goes well, the ECQ will be raised to a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in Makati (Metro Manila too maybe) on 15 May, although this is by no means guaranteed, given that Quezon City is a local epicenter and the largest of the 16 cities comprising Metro Manila. There has not really been a significant period of falling new cases in the National Capital Region although some the provinces around the NCR are doing my better (Local figures can be seen here https://covidstats.ph/cases). The only downside I can see of the GCQ those under 21 and over 60 (or pregnant for that matter) are required to stay in the home unless absolutely necessary to be out (food, medicine, permitted industries) 😦

Be safe, relax, keep your distance and wash your hands! I leave you with my Cousin Itt look!

Most Popular Posts in Thomo’s Hole

Amazingly it has been 14 years or so that Thomo’s Hole has been in WordPress in one form or another. Regularly I see the statistics for the day, and there are one or two posts that turn up regularly.

The top post is one from 7 May 2007, concerning Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army which has had 26,914 views. When I posted it initially, it was from a article I picked up off a blog from Korea.

However, some time after posting this, a Korean Romance movie was produced about a Korean soldier who ended up being separated from his lover in much the same way. Someone was searching “Korean soldiers in German army” and this blog post popped up. They posted a Reddit and suddenly I had 14,000-odd hits in a day, which really screwed my stats for that month 🙂

For the record, Yang Kyoungjong (양경종) is supposed to be the name of the real Korean soldier who apparently fought in the Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and later the German Wehrmacht during World War II.

Number two on the list was published on 31 July, 2003 and so far has had 14,394 views. Each day this post gets 30 or 40 views. It is Fire and Fury: Idiots Guide to Painting American Civil War Figures. I must admit to being somewhat amazed that a very simple guide for painting American Civil War figures gets so many views.

The third on the list, with 8.966 views, is an old poem I remember from my Infant School days, so the first time I heard it would have been in the 1960s. I posted this on 21 April 2003 and it is the tale of a small child who increasingly behaves more an more like a motor car, The Sad Tale of a Motor Fan by H. A. Field. It seems that many folks from my generation remember that poem from H. A. Field, along with others he wrote.

“Young Ethelred was only three
Or somewhere thereabouts when he
Began to show in diverse ways
The early stages of the craze
For learning the particulars
Of motor bikes and motor cars.”

Number four on the list with 8.966 views was posted 20 February 2008, in fact, it was me re-posting some information provided by my mate Mal Wright concerning Colour Schemes of WW1 Warships. A very informative article and one I refer to from time to time when painting World War One warships.

Number five on the list was posted on 3 December 2005 when I was working in Mongolia. It was winter at the time and bloody cold. Still it has had 3,976 views and deals with When Your Snot Freezes.

Honourable mentions go to Lightning War – Easy Play Rules for WWII Land Warfare  with 3,140 views. There is also a copy of some downloadable rules there.

Funnily, one with 2,500 views is actually a simple recipe I published on 4 October 2003 — Sausages in Tomato Sauce.

On 16 January 2012 I previewed some of the drawings of some World War 2 ships in camouflage, drawn by Mal Wright and included his books on the Paint Schemes of British and Commonwealth Warships of World War 2. There have been 2,293 views of World War 2 Naval Camouflage,

Last on the list of the honourable mentions with 1,958 views is the book review of Mal’s Paint Schemes of British and Commonwealth Warships of WW2 – Review.

Interestingly, yesterday, Fire and Fury: Idiots Guide to Painting American Civil War Figures and Colour Schemes of WW1 Warships had the top views.

Day 25 passing, 20 days to go (hopefully)

It seems to grow so quickly. Definitely looking like I have been trapped on an island for months now. I think there will be a trip to the gentleman’s hair lounge (Covent) when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is past.

Today is Good Friday, and along with yesterday, which was both Maundy Thursday and the Day of Valor holiday here in Manila, makes up a four day long weekend.

I packed my bag for a four day break away, grabbed my passport and took the long trip to the lounge room! Of course, being in ECQ, the only difference about today and the preceding 24 days is that I can ignore (mostly) work emails.

The plan for the four day break was to avoid work as I have had a lot to deal with over recent weeks, and spend time sorting, building, painting, packing things away and generally getting ready to be able to play some games in the apartment — either on the coffee table or what serves as the dining table.

Yesterday was starting to get my eBook collection in some order and located in one area on my harddrive and in two clouds — then load the library to my tablets for reading. Damn, I have a lot of books, magazines and rules in digital format.

I need to determine what my eBook readers will be into the future. Kindle is one of course and both my Kindle and the readers on my phone and tablets get good use. Amazon Kindle in particular is my go to location for pulp fiction, science fiction and what-not. Non fiction tends to be a mix of hard copies, ePub, PDF, and Kindle where appropriate. I need a good ePub/PDF reader. Any suggestions I should try? I am an Android user.

Today I decided to knock out some more 1/3000 scale ships (see to the left here). These are from set 30 of Fujimi’s 1/3000 scale modern Japanese Navy – flotilla 1 of the fleet in recent years. I will look to base them tomorrow or Sunday, ready for paint on Monday.

Some of the pieces are remarkably small and delicate and bloody annoying to put on. I really have had to use tweezers for  these but I will admit to a satisfaction when the peg slowly slides into the hole and the piece is glued on.

The detail on these vessels is remarkably good, and I am looking forward to not only painting these beasties but also putting together more of the World War Two vessels that they have. For those interested, I obtained these from Hobby Link Japan, who have an excellent mail order service. A search for “fujimi 1/3000” in Google will return many results of where the vessels can be purchased from.

Now the next question is what else to look at doing tonight? Do I:

  • build more little ships
  • finish the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s
  • paint the 1/300 scale Tupolev SB-2s
  • read a book
  • paint some 6mm ancient Anglo-Saxons
  • build a large kit
  • start of new wargaming project?

Ah, the joys of being a wargames tart (which I am sure is an oxymoron)!

Anyway, have a safe if boring Easter. I believe the Easter bunny will still be out and about but social distancing and as I understand, in Australia, toilet paper is considered more valuable than hot cross buns … the hot cross bun shelves are still well stocked in supermarkets!

Be safe, relax, keep your distance and wash your hands!