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

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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 😆

A Day in the Life

Some folks get the idea that travel is fun (which it is) and therefore business travel must be more fun because someone else is paying for it. It isn’t. Following is my journey from Macksville to Jakarta.

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It started with the XPT train journey from Macksville Station. Temperature was about 30 degrees and a bright sunny day. The train left Macksville on time at 1:30pm and headed south at a stately pace. We stopped at a number of stations on the way to Sydney, including Kempsey, Wauchope, Gloucester and such. By the time we got to Maitland we were running about 5 minutes early so got to sit around there for five minutes longer than necessary.

We passed long coal trains (80 coal wagons) and some pretty countryside but the worst part of the journey was the child screaming all the way to Sydney.

We arrived at Central Station in Sydney at 9:06pm on time.

A taxi to Jeff’s where I spent the night.

A taxi was booked for 7:15 the following morning to take me to the airport.

Sylvester Stallone: "I heard you were bitten by a cobra".

Chuck Norris: "I was but after five days of agonising pain the cobra died".

From the in-flight movie, the Expendables 2.

2013-01-08 09.37.49Tuesday was flight day – up at 5:45am to the sound of Frodo throwing up on Jeffrey’s carpet. Back to sleep and up at 6:30 for a shower and a taxi to the airport at 7:15.

Having a bite at the airport the amusing sight of the day was the bloke who spills a full cup of coffee over the table and his wife. A quick clean off of her skirt and she’s off to the toilet to clean up. His next move, remorselessly, is to pick up the coffee cup and drain what is left before worrying about any sort of clean-up to the table and surrounds.

Aircraft boarding call is made and we board. Disconnect from the air-bridge and commence taxiing on time. We then sit on the taxiway for about 30 minutes, plane in front of us and six more queued behind us. We eventually get to the runway and are airborne.

By the time we are half way to Denpasar, the Expendables 2 movie is almost finished. We have also had an almost continuous stream of turbulence and altering of course and height to try and avoid the turbulence. Seems the great heat of Australia on Tuesday is also affecting the weather 10,000 metres above ground level.

The big plus on this Garuda flight is the in-flight immigration. Brilliant!

We arrived at Denpasar, collected bags, passed customs, handed the bags to the transfer desk then walked to the domestic terminal.

Denpasar domestic terminal is being rebuilt so inside it the temperature is thirty something degrees, there’s no WiFi, no air-conditioning, lots of building works, sweat is dripping from my fingers and my new Popeye t-shirt is melting. Also the flies are Australian in their persistence and annoyance.

Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. Sat in that terminal for five hours waiting for the next flight. There was no point taking a taxi into town (I’ve never really been to Bali) as it was raining and the traffic was too heavy.

Finally it was time to board. There was the ride out to the plane on an airport bus. The door I was leaning against flew open as the bus turned. A quick death grip on one of the poles and a few choice adjectives helped in regaining the main cabin of the bus.

2013-01-09 12.18.10The outside air was cooler than the terminal and the inside air of the aircraft was just wonderful.

Finally arrived in Jakarta and headed out through the maelstrom of "private" taxi drivers to the peace of a White Horse taxi – there was a queue at the Silver Bird stand.

We then zoom along the airport road until the toll gate and the Jakarta traffic slows us to a pace a bullock cart would be pleased to achieve. It takes about the same time from the airport to the hotel as it does from Bali to Jakarta.

Finally the peace and tranquillity of the hotel. I’d been up for 19 hours getting from Ashfield to Jakarta and had 8 hours travelling by train the day before – just another normal day for Thomo. It was definitely time for a glass of Dr Feelgood.

Oh, and lest you think it all gets better at the hotel – the last photo is the view from my window!

Christmas in Brisbane

2012-12-25 14.03.26Christmas was spent with the lady, Mum, my sister and brother-in-law and niece in Brisbane. It’s been a couple of years since we had Christmas here. Mum had decided to accept my sister’s invitation for Christmas to be out of the house when we were bringing in boxes and such so caught the train and bus to Brisbane.

We followed a couple of days later.

Lunch was terrific – just enough of everything to satisfy, not so much as to be greedy or overeat! ((well, except for the cashews))

It was great catching up with my sister and BIL as well as my niece.

Next social function is off to Canberra for New Year’s Eve.

Thomo’s Macksville Home – the Great Move

2012-12-28 17.28.03As many of you will be aware, I shut down the Sydney home. I will be residing in Singapore full-time for the foreseeable future. This has meant that there is no need for the flat in Sydney any more and rather than continue to pay AU $400 per week for what is essentially storage only, we cancelled the rental.

I am pleased to announce that at the age of 58 ((if you can actually believe that I am that age … I could be lying after all)) I moved back home with mother 😆

Well, the lady needed somewhere to live whilst studying and there is space under the house for storage so with a little assistance from number one son (thanks for the garage space Jeffro) we moved. What an experience that was. Over a Friday and a weekend we moved. I called two men with a truck for some rented muscle and hired a one tonne Toyota Hi-Ace. The men and truck were to move the furniture and the Hi-Ace was to move the books, clothes and other stuff we wanted to keep.

What an experience! The hired muscle arrived in a grumpy mood – they’d been pulled over by the police on the way to the job. We loaded the furniture whilst the lady and I continued to pack boxes for the Hi-Ace. We delivered the furniture to Jeffro’s whilst the lady continued to pack boxes. We filled the Hi-Ace then drove the 476 kms to Mum’s.

We slept, unpacked and drove the 476 kms back.

We packed the rest again filling the Hi-Ace to the roof (well, with some extra stuff filling the back of the car).

We drove the 476 kms to Mum’s, unpacked and then drove the 476 kms back to Sydney where we checked into a motel just around the corner from the old home. Up early on Monday morning to return the Hi-Ace to the renters whilst the lady cleaned the apartment. I worked that day which meant I needed to be in the city by my 10 am meeting so it was late in the day when the keys were returned and we officially bid farewell to the Sydney residence.

The rest of the week in Sydney was spent in the motel (the Marco Polo at Summer Hill, cheap, great security and funnily enough, quieter than the flat was). Friday night came and so we squeezed into the front of the Falcon and drove the 476 kms to Macksville.

Saturday … slept.

After that it was 478 kms to Brisbane for Christmas (see separate post), then 478 kms back to Macksville. The last drive this trip will be a drive of 770kms to Canberra for the New Year, then 770 kms back to Macksville. Finally I will catch the bus to Sydney to catch my flight back to Singapore (that bue/train trip I am actually looking forward to).

2012-12-28 17.27.48By the time I leave Oz for Singapore again I will have driven 4,876 kms at least (there was a couple of short trips for Boxing Day sales and pizzas and such that would have put the total over 5,000 kms).

Let’s see my Pommie mates get their heads around those distances (driving the E30 in Europe, London to Moscow is only 2,887 km)!

I do have a painting space in Oz still – in my father’s old train room. Once Dad left us the trains were sold off, mostly to his peer group of railroaders and so that area under the house houses my library and wargaming stuff that I have not taken to Singapore. Mum also uses it when cutting out for new quilts. The picture above is the view from behind the painting area. The picture to the left is the view the other way.

Thomo has a new Oz Hole!

The Great Move–Christmas Spending

The great move from Sydney is complete. Thomo’s Sydney Hole is no more. Books and wargaming stuff have been moved back to Mum’s “up the coast” and the flat in Sydney returned to the landlord. ((interestingly we returned the apartment on the 18th of December and it was leased and new folks moving in on the 20th – sight unseen. Rental property in Sydney is apparently quite scarce))

Most of the boxes moved back here have been sorted and packed away – well, except for about 8 boxes of books but sorting them, shelving them and deciding which ones to bring to Singapore on the 6th are tomorrow’s problem. I will finish taking the Command and Colours Ancients, perhaps the book on Naval Warfare on the Lakes, Conway’s is tempting but heavy, so many books and a few games that I’d like to take, so little space.

Plans for the next few days are more sorting of stuff, a trip to Coffs Harbour for a phone for the lady ((fear of a painful and unnatural death prevents me telling what has happened to her iPhone)) and a trip to the beach as it’s time to get wet again! Christmas Eve is off to my sister’s where we will spend Christmas then bring Mum back home. Another couple of days back here probably preparing my Later Hungarians for paint then it’s off to Canberra for New Year. Back here for some painting before returning to Singapore.

A busy time it is then but one where I am hoping for a few beach days as well as a fair bit of painting time. I also plan on catching up with mail and some other matters and perhaps a little more writing.

In the meantime, Carols in the Domain is on … time to remember Christmases past and look forward to Christmases to come!

Thomo’s Oz Hole Moving

Yep, Thomo is on the move. The lads are packed and ready for their shift, it’s just all the other crap that’s taking time … why can’t I just take all my books into somewhere and trade them for eBooks of the same title?

Anyhoo, I’ll be off the air for a few days but will probably start publishing some more on painting for Cancon 2013 as well as the odd Cheeseburger from next weekend.

Tally ho!

A New Look Hole

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Thomo’s Hole has had a certain appearance for a few years now and as a result of the usual widget creep you find in blogs, it was starting to get slower and slower. I decided it was time to clean up the appearance and make it both a wee bit more elgant and a wee bit quicker.

Being the lazy sod that I am, I went looking for a theme rather than write my own. I found the Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha and this is now the appearance for Thomo’s Hole.

I will be tweaking a bit over the next few days, especially in the area of links etc., as there are way too many of them. As a result, you may see the some odd things happening from time to time. Nothing to worry about, wait about 5 seconds and try again and everything should be back to normal.

Now, back to finishing the washing and then the 15mm ACW basing.