Monday, October 5, 2015

New Tools for a New Project!

 My lovely, yet fierce, wife has some "home improvement" projects for me to do this fall which require some new tools.  First up is this sweet little baby - A DeWalt DWS780 Miter Saw.  Yes this is a tool that is just as pretty as the name implies.  She's got a 12 inch blade and can cut up the 16 inches wide.  The blade rotates for both Mitre and Bevel cuts.  Even sweeter - Amazon was running a special where the stand was free, which typically costs $200.00).   Combine that with free same day delivery and what's not to love?  Amazon is piloting same day delivery in our area!  I'm doing my best to help make the pilot a success.

There also may be a new plunge router and router table in the delivery but more on the that later.

 My first project is to build an assemble workbench that will be 35 inches wide by 72 inches long.  The table will be used to assemble some cabinetry my wife wants but it's real purpose in life will be to assist me in making sectional terrain pieces.  The new DeWalt saw made the frame pieces a snap (the legs and cross braces).  Pictured to the left are three of the legs clamped down while the glue sets.

Here's a shot of the fourth leg all clamped up and the long braces.  I'll probably assemble the frame tomorrow night and then need to get some more lumber for the work top.  The table will feature a recessed portion for the router table.  The design of the table is intended to support over 1,000 pounds so it will be a sturdy beast.

What are some of the projects that will be be built with the new stuff?  Some cabinets for the wife and a few other storage-related additions.  Gaming wise there will be some slotted trays to add to the sides of my game table, some boxes with removable lids to transport troops to tournaments and some sectional terrain storage racks.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wargames Illustrated Issue 336: Shameless Self Promotion

Issue 336 of Wargames Illustrated has the Historicon'15 show report and I was both very surprised and a bit chuffed to see that my two games got a full page spread (page 91).  The whole show report is really very well done and there are some great looking games profiled.

The only disappointing thing is my co-host for the games, Mike M's name isn't listed.  These games would not be possible without his efforts and brushwork skills.  Mike painted most of the British force and helped co manage the games which with 10 players can be a bit challenging.  We also had a great set of players who were able to shoulder aside my bad jokes and find a way to enjoy themselves anyway.

I know it seems both silly and a bit self aggrandizing but it is very rewarding to get a little recognition for the efforts of Mike and myself.

We'll be retiring the ACW theme from next years show and focusing on a linked set of games that span the American War of Independence through the War of 1812.  How are we going to do that?  To be honest, that whole "thinking" part isn't really started yet.

There was one major goof packing up from Historion'15 - I left the naval gaming mat behind - it was stock marine grade vinyl but that's easily replaced.

With the cold weather descending upon the Chesapeake, there'll be more time for painting and thinking about convention games.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Prepping for Huricane Joaquin

A busy few days here in St Michaels as we were under the threat from Huricane Joaquin as you can see from the scary track to the left.

While it looks like the storm will head out to sea it pays to play it safe.  I spent the past few days boarding up the house and moving the sail boat to a safe anchorage in a creek.

We still have heavy rain (up to 8 inches today) and 40 knot winds but at least it isn't a Huricane!.  Hopefully I'll get some painting in later today.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Painting and Preying (Mantises that is)

 My current painting speed is making glaciers look fast.  Just a little bit more progress on my first AWI unit - the blues jackets have been painted for 24 infantry figures and the officer is fully painted but still needs a wash.  I tried to take some close up of the officer but they came out very poorly.  Perhaps this I-phone isn't the best of cameras...

I really do need to get into painting form as my current level of production is really very poor.  The weather has just been too nice to spend time indoors.

This weekend was eventful.  On Saturday we had 30 mile an hour winds and I went to check on the sail boat and while aboard retying the sail cover managed to fall and bang my head and almost go into the drink despite the boar being tied up in the slip - it was very rough.  Still it was an ignoble way to get injured but a good reminder that going out alone isn't the best of ideas.  Has I been underway and this happened, the outcome may have been much worse.  I left the marina with and bloody head, a headache and a damaged ego but none-the-worse for wear.  For those of you who are concerned, rest assured my rock filled head did little damage to the Bucentaure's deck.

 With the weather turning crisper, wildlife activity changes on the Bay.  One of the cooler things are the Preying Mantis's who mate and lay their eggs in the Autumn.  Our pool patio area seems to be the local "Mantis Singles Bar" and we'll see them out there on a daily basis through October looking for a "hook-up".  Pictured is strapping young lad on-the-prowl.  The pavers are 2 foot squares so he was six inched long.

 A close up of our lothario with compound eyes.  Males have a mix of brown and green.  These are amazing predators and tend to ambush their prey.  I've even seen a large male grab and kill a small humming bird!

As garden protectors, Mantis's are cool to watch but not all that effective as they eat anything - both good and bad bugs.
My finger provided for size. If it wasn't mating season, I could have coaxed this nice chap into walking up my arm for a while but his attentions were fixed on a very attractive young lady at the edge of the patio (about six feet way).

And here is the objective of his affections - a striking female mantis with an alluring "come-hither" look.  Females are all green and tend to be in the 5 inch range.  Despite their smaller size they are the more dominant of the sexes and often bite the heads of their mates.  There are many traits in the animal kingdom the span species.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

London in September

 Not a lot of paintwork this week as I spent the week in London on business.  As usual, London was a lot of fun but a but hectic as it was the lead up the opening of the Rugby World Cup.  One of the highlights of the trip was the transportation - I always fly British Airways to Europe and this trip I was able to fly both ways on one of the giant A-380's - it's a fascinating piece of equipment and was a lot of fun to fly on.

 I will not bore you with the business details of the trips - a board meeting, meeting with some new companies that might be attractive investments (most of whom frog march you through a power point deck...)

I tend to take random pictures, like this one of Cavendish Square - it's outside the office of a new company of an interesting company who didn't use a power point deck and just wanted to discuss strategy options - both very refreshing and promising.

 There are a number of UK firms we co-invest with located down in the city and one has probably the best office location I've ever seen - right across the street from the Royal Academy of Arts.  I don't even want to know the cost of their real estate.

The week was filled with approximately 12 not very memorable meetings, 3 interesting ones and board meeting so it was productive.  The evenings were filled with me gorging on Indian food but I did get to host a dinner at my favorite place to eat in London "Chez Patrick" in Kensington.  It's a great neighborhood french place and the owner is a real character - especially is you ask to see his California Wine list or request "Freedom Fries" with your scallops.  He and I have a standing joke/threat that if I pull up to the place in a big American Ford F-150 pickup truck, he'll add BBQ to the menu listing.  From my experience few places in London combine a reasonable price level with superior food / and a relaxed atmosphere better than this one.

The night before I left for London, my lovely wife and I attended a birthday party for a friends dog (named Creek).  It's really just an excuse to throw a party but it was fun.  As you see in the picture the guest of honor took quite a liking to MaryBeth and followed her around all night.  I think that means we net to get a dog!

Hobby wise, I still have a unit of AWI Continental regulars to finish off and I'll be re-organzing my workshop over the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Little More Painting, A Little More Sailing...

A rainy and windy weekend is a perfect combo for painting and sailing.

I actually managed to do more than prime some mini's.  The first two colors have been applied - Medium fleshtone and a flat white (pictured to the lower left).  I take a bit of an assembly line approach to painting units doing one color at a time.  I find it reduces errors and really helps me keep a unit looking like they belong together.

A close up of one of the figures.  These will be a Maryland regiment so will have blue coats with red facings.  It does feel good to be painting again

On satruday, I had a race in Annapolis and it was a perfect race day - 18-20 knot winds a little chop and rain.  I was crewing a friends boat but really wanted to have Bucentaure in the race.  There was some excitement.  During the third race a boat form another class (pictured above) lost her rudder.  It's hard to see in the picture but the rudder is completely sheard off just about the water line.  A sailboat without a rudder in high winds becomes a torpedo untll the sails are loosed but there was no collisions.  Maybe it was better the Bucentaure stayed in St Michaels.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Painting! and Snake Wrangling

I have finally managed to pick up a brush and start painting some mini's.  OK, I just primed them but it still involved a brush.  Yesterday, I primed the 38 plastic Perry 28mm US Continentals (AWI) along with a mounted command figure from Fife and Drum.  I'm trying to vary my painting techniques and decided to use a brush on primer rather than use a spray on version.

My primer of choice are the Vallejo surface primers.  The local hobby shop had a sale on these so I've stocked up.  I still stuck with a light grey as a primer color since these guys will all be wearing white pants, vests and webbing.

Unfortunately my painting bliss was interupted by my wife yelling for me to get outside.  Her tone of voice had a bit of alarm in it so I sprang to action.  It's times like these where having ones own action theme music would come in handy.

What was causing the constern - this attractive young lady...

A rather large (6 feet) water snake that was snoozing next to our grill.  I got out my trusty snake - wrangling tool and set to work moving the snake out of the way.  These beauties are mice killing machines so you actually want them around the house but just not in plain sight.

So what is this tool?  A pool skimmer

These snakes are constrictors and if you grab them behind the head they will wrap around your arm and are both difficult to dislodge and one can injure the animal while getting them loose (I learned the hard way).  With the pool skimmer, you can prod them to an open area and then place the skimmer in front. I think it looks like a cave and they crawl right into the bag and they're easy to carry away.   Of course getting them to stay in the bag during transport (roughly 250 ft) is another thing.  The photo below swows her just before being released.  Hopefully todays painting will have no reptile intrusions!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Difficult Duty

 Yesterday was a tough day here in St Michaels.  My lovely wife ( pictured to the back right) hosted her Women's Dental Students Association summer event at our place and I was "required" to play the dutiful host.  Yes, It was a very difficuly duty that required me to muster up enough food to feed this ravenous horde.  Don't believe what people say about young ladies eating like birds - it's just not true.  Many fish, chickens and crabs were required to sustain these "dental scholarinas".  OK, maybe it really wasn't all that tough....

 I did manage to get a little work in on some mini's before the "Assault of the She-Wolves" and assembled the first box of Perry AWI plastic Continental Infantry and a general from the Fife and Drum line.  I really like assembling plastics.  Each Perry figure comes with 4 parts - a body, 2 arms and a hat choice (from 3 options).  Not hard to assemble at all and you get a chance to inspect the figure closely to plan the painting.  Next step will be to prime there lads.

Overall, I really like this box set.  In additon to the regulars which I built this time there's an option to build out milita with different arms / rifle combinations.  All-in-all a really nice set.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Good Day on the Chesapeake

 Sunday turned out to be a wonderful day were nothing went as expected but everything turned out for the better.  Early in the morning my son and I got up and left for a sail on the Bucentaure.  Unfortunately we really didn't sail (as in the picture - it's from another trip).  There was no wind and a sail boat without wind is just, well ummm... a very slow power boat.  So we turned back to port and decided to do a lot of maintenance wish included such glamorous duties as emptying the holding tank on the head (yuck) and a lot of minor repairs / improvements.

Three hours later we were done and went back to the house.  It was a lot of fun working with him on the boat.

 When we got back to the house it was time to mount a daring rescue operation - a humming bird was trapped in the garage and couldn't get out!  Queue the dramatic music, if you please.

Being quick thinking yet sensitive nature types we decided to capture the bird using a plastic paint cup an a piece of cardboard.  Hummingbirds are very delicate so one needs to distract them with something shiny come up from behind and place the cup over them and, finally, slide the cup over some cardboard.

 A few comic attempts and then success - the picture shows the little guy (or gal) as I was in the process of releasing.  All' well then ends well and I was sure that such courageous behavior would warrant an afternoon on the hammock.

 The Boss-Lady had other plans and I was tasked with grinding yet more tomatoes for sauces - a picture of our genuine Italian plastic food mill which is a must for making sauce.  We made another 3 gallons of tomato sauce that ended up in the freezer.  I spent 3 hours cutting and grinding those red menaces but ensure enough sauce to last the winter is a most worthy goal.  Plus there may have been a tomato peel fight with my son (we were outside so it's OK)
 There was a reward for a hard days work - my lovely, yet fierce, wife made peach ice cream.  Mmmm ... homemade peach ice cream.

A rare shot of the Boss-lady inspecting how well I did the dishes - there were more than a few that needed so "touch-up work".

Despite not being able to sail it ended up being a very fun day and yet another example of how nice the Chesapeake Bay region can be.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A New Project: AWI

 Here at the Lair, we are embarking on a new project and time period - the American Revolutionary War (A.K.A. the American War for Independence or AWI).  My starting forces to be painted are 3 boxes of plastic Continental Infantry from the Perry brothers that I picked up from the Architects of War booth at Historicon.  Hmmm Perry miniatures - what a surprise.  The Perry's also have a large range of metal AWI figures as does Fife and Drum Miniatures.
 Each box has 38 figures which consist of 30 rank and file infantry is 6, 5 figure sprues and...
4 rifleman figures on 2, 2 figure spurs and a single command sprue of 4 figures.  Each successive Perry plastic set gets a little better and these Continental Infantry are no exception.  They can be modeled as either militia or regulars and there are a lot of arm / pose combination possibilities.

My gaming partner-in-crime, Mike, is a bit of an Anglo-file and will be painting up the British side of this little fracas.  We're both leaning towards basing for skirmish gaming rather than "big battalions".  The implication is that we'll use  round bases rather than squares for each figure.  I've got enough "big battalion" formations for both the War of 1812 and the ACW so focusing our AWI collection on skirmishing is a nice change up.

This project will be aimed at putting on an even bigger show at Historicon 2016 where we are planning to do a series of games on both the AWI and the War of 1812 - but, as always, with a little historical twist.....