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?

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.

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.

Thomo gets Dumped

This happened in Maui a few years ago. We were there attending a friend’s wedding and decided to head to the beach … where I learnt a new respect for the Hawaiian shorebreak. Interestingly, this video was also blocked by YouTube for breaching community standards. Took about two weeks to get it back up again. I am not sure whether to be annoyed or proud 🙂

2014 – That’s a Wrap

Rather than engage in the simple vanity of letting Facebook decide what my 2014 was like, I thought I would tap it out for myself, warts and all.

2013 was a pretty good year with the exception of some medical issues for both myself and family. These issues left us at the end of 2013 fairly hale and hearty although with severely empty bank balances and well maxed credit cards. I had a melanoma removed … twice, The first time the dermatologist made a small incision and took the lesion off my back. That healed quickly. However, after several rounds of pathology and an argument with Australian Quarantine (it seems that Australian tissue is expected to come back into Australia still attached to the Australian), it was discovered that not enough tissue had been removed.

I went to a proper cutter this time who seems to have learned his knife skills from Mac the Knife (queue the music) which resulted in a great hunk of my back being removed (about a $30 steak worth). Literally, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Enter 2014

I returned to Singapore from Christmas in Australia. I was promptly retrenched. The company I had worked with for five years had decided that there was no role for Business Development any longer in Australia, Indonesia and a couple of other locations. OK, that’s a fair cop I suppose, even though that same company had pulled me out of two potential deals in 2013.

I asked about retrenchment benefits which are not required by law in Singapore but which are encouraged by the Ministry of Manpower. After two weeks and I guess a few thousand dollars spent on legal fees, I was told that they were not required by law to pay them and anyway, I was being dismissed for poor performance (even though I was the only sales staff to have received any bonus in the past 4 years and in any case, had been pulled from two deals by the company).

My company lied to me – at least one bald-faced lie so I pity any customers – how can you trust a company that lies outright to their staff’s face?

To compound the problem, they screwed up my final salary calculation twice, have short-paid all their Singapore staff over the past few years (and still owe me funds for that matter) as well as breached Singapore tax law (a matter that I am pursuing currently).

Anyway, I left. I had two good prospects for new work over the first six months unemployed – and ran second in both races. Both employers are currently regretting not having selected me as I understand.

Around July 2014 things started looking up and I started work with my current employer in August in Manila so we moved city and country. This has brought much relief to our abysmal financial position. The Philippines is, however, an exciting place to live and in our first three months here we’ve had the tail-end of a typhoon, two tropical rain depressions, an earthquake (which we barely noticed) and Mayon, a volcano near Legazpi City, and only 200 kms away, has been rumbling!

Over that period of February to July I came to truly appreciate my friends – those that found some temporary work for me, those that lent money against some temporary work I was doing, those that just lent funds with no real expectations of when and if I could ever repay them and those that helped out with the odd lunch, the odd beer and the odd session of morale building and those that paid me way over market rates to paint some soldiers. You all know who you are and understand how much I appreciate the help, burgers, figures to paint, whisky, beer, massages, more excesses of beer and tequila drinking, lots more Auchentoshan …. well, you get the idea. A bloke really would be hard pressed to find a better set of mates.

So, what of 2015?

Wargaming and painting I’ll cover in a separate post. Work-wise, consolidate this project in Manila and get the tasks complete. Ensure that 2015, 16 and 17 continue to be better than 2014 and trust to karma.

Thanks guys and gals for all the help, the love, the warmth. Now on to 2015!

Happy New Year!

A Blogging Hiatus

Thomo’s Hole has been rather quiet of late.There have been a couple of reasons for it but principally it has been medically related. I had a small cut made in my back a while ago to remove a melanoma. I’ve spent a little while recovering from that and waiting for the final histology report to come in and tell me all is clear … but I’m still waiting, I suspect the Singapore pathologist (histologists?) are a little miffed because their initial reports were not fully correct. In addition, the dermatologist that removed the spot originally was also a bit timid so it had to be taken a second time.

This second surgeon (the one who has caused me a little back pain) looks like he got his cutting training from Erik the Red at least, hence the quiet blogging period. Also, the pain in my back had really prevented me from doing any painting.

The pain, however, is diminishing so the brushes are coming out. Once the final histologist report is received I will write up the full process, if only to send it on to a couple of doctors as I did have to organise quite a bit of the process myself.

Friday night I hope to get the first wargaming post out with the completion of my Early World War 2 Soviets. Then will be a “next on the painting queue post”, some pictures of some terrain I hope to have made over the weekend and a look at the opposition for the Soviets.

Stand by … more will be coming soon.

Thomo’s Hole Record Day – 10,000+ Page Views

image

I saw this stats page and thought there may have been an error. It looked like all past statistics had disappears to be replaced by something really odd for the day. There were over 10,000 page views recorded. Now, I know that my youthful good looks and boyish charm make me popular but really, the best day I have ever had here in the Hole has been around 500 views and usually I range between 150 and 250 page views a day.

I did some checking.

It seems that the post I did a few years back (7 May 2007 to be exact) on Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army was picked up by the Today I Learned section in Reddit and has generated over 100 comments there.

The 10,000 plus page views are correct 😆

The interesting thing about this post is that here in the Hole it has generated the longest comment chain of all posts as well as some of the most vitriolic comments I have ever seen – it is a touchy subject to a number of folks, even though I had tried to write it even-handed.

This has definitely set a new standard for me to aim at although I suspect that my wargaming reports are not likely to generate quite that much interest.

Update 3 February 2013: The final tally for that day was 12,425 hits to the Hole of which 12,242 hits were on Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army. 183 hits were from normal visitors 😆