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?

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!

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!

Swine Flu vs Credit Crunch Recession

For the last night or two the markets were down. The ASX fell, the Nikkei shed value, the FTSE dropped and Wall Street was shaky. However, it was not the recession, the credit crunch or the recent usual suspects but rather Swine Flu that was causing the drop.

So all the stimulus packages and the spending of money to stimulate economies obviously is unnecessary. All we needed to overcome the global financial crisis was some Swine Flu – a couple of weeks of this and the fears of recession will be well forgotten as the recession becomes yesterday news.

Hmm, maybe Malthus was correct after all.

ANZAC Day – 2009

PICT7169 It’s ANZAC Day today. This day is Australia’s (and New Zealand’s) main day for remembering the sacrifice and contribution Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women in particular made to preserve and protect our way of life, our freedoms and our belief in the equality and mateship of us, one and all. Like my earlier post about Tom the Junior woodchopper at the Easter Show, today is a day that with very little effort you can hear and feel the Australian spirit.

We went into the ANZAC Day March in Sydney today. I was thinking of heading in to the Dawn Service at the Cenotaph as well but didn’t quite make it for that.

I defy anyone to stand at the March, watching the old Diggers, sailors and airmen marching past, and not have a lump in the throat, or at least moist eyes. Such pride still from these folks, and indeed, such kindness and gentleness together. One or two show a little of the larrikin still, in the way they walk or wave or some of the things they say. There were those who were recognised as brave, with Distinguished Service Medals and such, but most were just ordinary blokes who were asked to do extraordinary things and who just did them.

You can see the mateship still, you can feel the mateship, it is palpable. The sacrifice of these people, the loss of part of their life, their youth – in many cases, their life. Most of these folks lost the part of their life that I enjoyed, they lost the fun of being a young bloke. But also it is important to remember what they achieved. PICT7282

They gave us the feeling we have as a nation today – they gave us our “can-do” attitude. No matter how hard the task, no matter how tough the challenge, we can rise to meet it. They gave us our freedom, and stood tall and proud, drawing a line in the sand that said “this is who we are, this is what we believe, cross this line at your peril”. The diggers, the cavalry, the seamen and the airmen, the nurses and the supporting staff, they all contributed so much to what we are today.

It is impossible to hear a pipe band and not feel the goose-bumps, the shiver down the back. Hear the pipes and watch the chests of all around swell – such pride, such strength, such a debt owed.

Vale Pop.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

One-in-10 video gamers could be addicts – Technology – smh.com.au

In what I could best describe as a “well dur!” moment, apparently US research has discovered that One-in-10 video gamers could be addicts – Technology – smh.com.au. When I read this article I thought (well, apart from “well dur”), that the researchers had missed the obvious comparison – namely – how many kids “lie, borrow money from their friends or dodge work” to play or watch any other game as well.

I must admit, if I cast my mind back to my childhood, given the option of wiping up the dishes or dodging that to play football outside with my friends, well, it was a no brainer!

So, better perhaps than finding that “one in 10 video gamers could be addicts”, better to find that “one in 10 kids will find some way or other to avoid doing some work that they do not want to do!” Of course, the other 9 kids are just a little slower in thinking up the excuses.

Coffee

I’ve liked coffee since I was about 14. Being Australian and having grown up in Australia, coffee was introduced to us from Europe. As a result, I prefer the slightly bitter European style coffee to the rather dish-watery American style. Europeans seem to have had more patience and as a result, the ability to wait a little bit longer for that cup of coffee.

Sydney has changed a lot over the last few years in particular with Coffee Shops expanding their business into the lobbies of most tall buildings in the CBD. In this respect, Sydney is similar to much of Asia.

I remember Jeffro asking me at one stage if I wanted to go halves with him in the cost of a Cappuccino machine for home. I declined at the time, even though I had spent many years searching for the perfect Cappuccino ((currently that cup of Ambrosia is held by an Italian restaurant on the Akker Brygge in Oslo – close to the most perfect cappuccino I have had anywhere)) as to have a coffee machine at home would mean there was no reason to go out anymore.

My office here has a coffee machine. I don’t think it’ll be any threat to a good barista as you take a cup, press the button that says “cappuccino” and wait for the machine to grind and gurgle. The resulting brew tastes not quite like a cappuccino should.

What could be more pleasant than heading off to a coffee shop, sitting with pleasant company and sipping a wonderful brew that has recently been discovered to be healthy for us, packed as it is with anti-oxidants. Hmm, I sometimes wonder if I should eat more oxidants so that I don’t waste these anti-oxidants.

Fortunately, as the machine at the office produces coffee that the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would be proud of, then the coffee shop is not under threat nor is my desire to go out for a good coffee. As the service technician for the coffee machine here noted when he was called out for the third time in a month and someone noted that he needed a lot of tools to fix a coffee machine,

I don’t know why you all bother with these expensive machines. Give me a $10 kettle and 43 beans. When I want a really nice coffee, I go to the coffee shop.

Hmm, in the words of Niles of Frasier fame, “Double Cappuccino, half-caf, not-fat milk, with just enough foam to be aesthetically pleasing but not so much that it leaves a moustache” ((From the episode A Midwinter Night’s Dream)) .