Keeping Numbers Up

I noticed that when there is a quiet period with few posts here in Thomo’s Hole, the number of visitors drops. I thought that I could try what many YouTubers do and set some clickbait in motion with headlines like:

You Won’t Believe This … Thomo trims his toenails!!!!

or

We were amazed that the Philippines has this … fish and chips at the pub!!!

or

Unbelievable … Angeles City Sports Bars are open to serve food and beer while showing sport – you won’t see this in Singapore!!!

I decided that was not going to work as the discerning readers here would see straight through that in a matter of moments. Instead, I thought, that as I was listening The Clash singing Charlie Don’t Surf at the time of writing, I would add something ocean based.

The YouTube video below is your intrepid correspondent dealing with a Maui shore break in 2015, for you entertainment.

The only thing broken that day was my toe. 🙂

Another Proof Added to “Why the Southern Hemisphere is on Top of the Globe”

Quite a few years ago, in 1995 or 1996 if my aging memory isn’t failing me, I was asked to present a light talk at a company event in Trondheim, Norway. Norwegians are lovely folks, friendly, helpful and generous. They have an interesting sense of humour and when you are winding them up, you are expected to smile so they know you are teasing them. It was at the start of a large project so I wanted to both entertain and instruct. I started to think about the orientation of the globe. I presented a number of “facts” that proved Australia was on the top of the globe, and Norway on the bottom.

Why Australia is at the Top of the World records the three or four original “proofs” I presented as well as some added later. Stanley Friedman kindly provided an additional (and now the 9th) proof. It goes something like this:

Polaris (the Pole Star or North Star) is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (α Ursae Minoris). It also happens to appear at a fixed point in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere with the rest of the constellations and stars revolving around that point. As we determined that stars are a sign of up and as the Northern Hemisphere has less stars than the Southern Hemisphere and must be less up, therefore down, Polaris must be the fulcrum that allowing for the various astronomical attractions and such, the earth rests and revolves upon. This is further confirmed by Proof Number 6, the Rotational Proof that has the earth rotating clockwise!

Thanks Stanley for the proof, this has been added the page here. Other proofs are welcome.

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?

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.

Thirty-three percent of 2020 has Past (Passed)

Passed or past? For the grammar Nazis reading, I will plead a moments confusion. I do use “passed” as the past tense of “pass” but as time passes, has it passed or is it in the past?

I will admit, it is not quite 33% at the moment, but it will be at the end if next week so near enough. Back on 9 February I noted that One Twelfth of 2020 has Passed. Back in January there were three COVID-19 cases only in the Philippines  and life didn’t look like it was going to be too inconvenient.

Today we have been in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for 38 days with technically another nine days only to go. However there is talk now of adding at least another 15 days to the period, to ensure that the curve that is being flattened here is well flattened, doubly as important in the Philippines as there are many less hospital beds per million of population that in developed countries.

Should the ECQ be extended to 15 May then it will have been a full two months in Metro Manila. Some Barangays and Cities here have been put under full lock-down for periods ranging from 48 hours to seven days, generally because residents are not following the rules of the ECQ. In fact, a few days ago the Police had warned 130,000 ECQ violators and arrested 30,366. So many folks re not following the rules which maybe why the extension.

On that previous posts, I noted that since being in the Philippines I can tick off from my list:

  • typhoon
  • earthquake
  • volcano

To that list I can add … pandemic!

Work-wise, it has been both good and bad working from home. The bad is basically being locked up and not able to get out and just take a walk and the like. The first month was super hectic as well getting work from home organised for staff. The second month has been hectic as well but more for completing tasks. Currently I do not have a good area to work in but rather share my painting table (which is actually a mobile computer table). That keyboard is not my laptop but just a Bluetooth keyboard connected to my laptop which sits under the table. When I want to paint, keyboard and mouse are moved. Later this year I will, I hope, have an actual room I can use which will be much better.

Back in January I planned on getting the book reviews completed for the three books I have read and post those reviews here. I have achieved that for three (Battle of Manila, Miguel Miranda – ReviewArmies of Celtic Europe — 700 BC – AD 106 by Gabriele Esposito — Review and In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN — Review).

I planned to finish that damned 1/35 scale tank and paint it and then get back into some figure painting. Well, I finished the build but have not started the painting yet. The Anglo-Saxons I was working on are basically unchanged as I have not put a lick pf paint on them, although I have looked to add then to another project.

I kept reading the historical fiction and as expected, that has led me down the path of yet another project (Damned Historical Fiction – Sub-Roman British and Arthur!) And, since I have been locked down here in Makati, I have not spent any time with my local family. By the time I get to see them it will have been three months or longer.

So, overall, it has not been the greatest year in my 65 completed so far but we live in hope for the 66th year!

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!

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.

Hacked Off

So it has been an annoying period. About two months ago I received an email saying words to the effect of “We have your password, email ID etc. Send around a thousand dollars in Bitcoins or we will start releasing embarrassing pictures of you to all your email contacts, social networks and what have you”.

I did not worry about this of course, as I am quite capable of publishing embarrassing photos of myself myself! In any case, the password they quoted was one that I had not used on email or any of the social networks for many years so no problem.

Then this week. Firstly Airbnb sent me a note to say my email address had been changed and did I make the change. I followed the links provided to say that it was not me but then they asked my to login using the old email address and a password. The password had been changed so that did not work. I posted a message in Twitter to Airbnb and mentioned all this. I am waiting to hear back.

And then bookings.com sent me a note asking me to check my password change and confirmation of a hotel booking in London for GPB 350. This was followed by a cancellation charge of GBP 167. Interesting, me checking into a hotel in London when I am sitting in Singapore! Bookings.com had a very helpful operator who managed to sort a solution out. Kudos to them.

I then tried to access my hotels.com account and the password was marked as wrong and/or the email address. Clicking forgot password resulted in nothing so I contacted hotels.com and received the following note,  noting the same thing, that my email address had been changed. I am waiting for them to give me some customer service but the one thing I am missing to get them working is my Aussie mobile – the SIM Card is in Manila! They did send me a helpful email saying that

“This is to acknowledge your email. Please be advised, our policy is not to disclose any information once you failed on our security verification. For us to proceed with the investigation, we need you to provide the correct email address or phone number, or, you may call us and our colleagues will glad to assist you.”

Of course they do not give you a phone number to call.

So, the scores?

  • Airbnb @airbnb – they have almost helped me so 5/10
  • Booking.com @bookingcom – full marks, brilliant service 10/10
  • hotels.com @Hotels.comASIA – I have booked many rooms through them but posting messages has not helped. I have just had a chat sessions, still not sorted but a “Specialized Team” will contact me – 3/10 (at the moment as I have free nights I cannot access)

Well that has been a Saturday wasted chasing all this up!

Update – 8 March 2019 – hotels.com has been repaired finally. So far it looks like all dodgy attempts to screw something free out of me are from Jersey DS!

Creeping up – 95 followers

Who would have thought? I just noticed that Thomo’s Hole had 95 followers – not a bad effort over the 13 years it has been a blog rather than a webpage. It occurred to me I should celebrate the 100th follower when that follower comes along … if I notice them 😊

I can see I shall need to lift my game and post more content more frequently, at least to speed the 100th along. Perhaps it is time for some Philippines travel tales? Certainly I will spend some more time adding to the YouTube channel – very low cost production but it seems people like to see what was in the parcel.

There are a couple of items that need to be fixed here as well and some odd things that cannot. For example, there are many, many comments from 30 November 1999. That was the result of adding a widget to WordPress that gave me greater control over comments. I did that when Thomo’s Hole was hosted inside coldie.net but as we (or rather Jeffro the no-longer-a-boy-but-still-IT-genius) decided to release that web space. I moved Thomo’s Hole back into the WordPress domain. With the low cost of cloud these days and as I am getting close to the maximum storage of images here in WordPress it is time to assess whether to move the Hole again soon.

There are also a few links that are missing back in the older pages – well, the links are not so much missing as more the target of the links is. This applies to pictures and documents. I am slowly working through the repair of them as I discovered a storage cache of my stuff that I had forgotten about (happens, doesn’t it?).

OK, so coming up – more book reviews, more incoming parcels from the UK (at least four more for me), and I will spend some time opening the Fujimi 1/3000 ship boxes, one by one, and look at the contents with you all.

In the meantime, back to work … need to pay for the toys somehow!