woensdag 30 november 2016

Culling your stash and looking at the bright side of life.

Since I'm tied down to the house atm (Fysio taped both my knees and told me to take it really easy as I'm going to hard on my knees) I did some cleaning of the hobby room, but that was going too slow for my tastes. So I dragged down all of the kits I want to sell this round, listed them in Excel and passed it around some of my fellow wargamers.

60 kits gone from the attic. Might look like much to you, but I can assure you, it is but a drop in the ocean that is the attic. They are rather bulky though, so it looks emptier now.

The dreams I had with these kits.....Entebbe with the Hercules.......Dutch F-16's for airsupport for my Cold War stuff, and many Russians as well. Oddball kits for conversions, a bunch of 1/48 scale helicopters for 28mm Special Forces games. I scratched them all off the list, they are not going to happen. Airsupport for games works just as well in 1/144 and costs.....the same actually! They just take up loads less space when built.

Anyway, as soon as I have these out of the way I can get the forces for the scenario laid out and sorted and get to work. Unless.....distractions? Like Piers making proposals? Piers is slowly clearing out his Britannia collection and replacing them with AB figures. As soon as AB releases the new Soviets, his Soviets are going on the chopping block. One of which is a full Rifle Platoon with support options (well painted, but not by him).

Being the cheeky bugger that I am, I asked what it would cost. Yes, the bases are a bit bigger then mine, and the guns have fixed crew, but it is a full Rifle Platoon that would make a great core to tack on stuff built and painted by me, and instantly I have opposition for my Germans without having to paint for 6 months (without disctractions....hah!). So, the cost?
<snip from chat>
20mm stuff. General clutter and scatter scenics. Fences, city detritus, wrecked lorries... anything your crazed mind can think of that will scatter over WW2 tables to further enhance the look.
Just the sort of stuff you do so well really!
Ah, you mean making the quirky stuff I love doing anyway? :D Sure I can do that :) Trouble is, now I have too many ideas so I'm going to have to make a shortlist of things I can do.

  • Sell stuff
  • Clean desk policy (yes, I'm such a clerck)
  • Focus on forces for the scenario
  • Build  wrecks
  • Build more wrecks and stuff for Piers
  • Did I mention sell stuff?
And in case you had not noticed, I'm moving upwards into a high again. Even though my knees hurt a lot, I'm doing what I can when I can, even if it involves a lot of time behind the PC doing searches and listing stuff for sale, but also looking for recipes to cook new interesting stuff for the kids (cause I really like to cook.....I don't think I ever mentioned that?).

Oh, and I found Modhail a great new toy for his new woodworking hobby :)

 Combing my prescribed trips to stretch and train my legs with visiting 2nd hand stores came in handy last week when I picked up this beauty. Erik, consider this your Christmas present :)

zaterdag 19 november 2016

Time flies

No Blog for a week? It's almost like I have better things to do :D

It's been another rollercoaster week as my brain is starting to normalise (which in my case means a wavepattern of happy moments and sad moments.

Sad moments included:
  • Our favourite Blog spammer posting 4 spam replies in one day about a desktop stripper.
  • Having a meeting at the UWV to dicsuss the result of the review, being asked if my knee and backproblems are a great hindrance in my daily job as a waste truck driver. (When I replied that could be possible, if not for the fact I've never driven a waste disposal truck she started to frantically go through the rather large file they have on me).
  • In that same meeting at the UWV I was asked about a 2 year gap in my employment records. Gap? When I asked what timepriod she meant, she actually ment the time I worked for the UWV as a Facility Manager. After telling her I worked in the office we were having our chat she looked at me in disbelief, so I started to describe the building and the area she has her upstairs office, as well as the cafeteria, security and parking garage details (which was probably more information then she ever has had about the bulding but ok). She then apolagised, started to frantically go through the file to look for my resume, took it out and it clearly stated that I had worked at the UWV in that timeframe and in what position. Her reply? She genuinely thought I had added my time on benefits as work on my resume. I kid you not. (I can honestly say it is one of the stupidist things I have ever heard from what should by all respects be a educated person)
  • Being told that in order to take me off sick leave and into unemployment benefits she would have to find 4 jobs that paid more then 65% of my last wage. With a big smile on her face she then told me that she had found 4 such jobs. Plastic parts assembly, rubber parts assembly, soldering motherboards, and small elecntonical assembly. The paper was facing her, so the jobs and salary figures were upside down, but I could easily read that all 4 of the figures had hourly rates BELOW the number she quoted as 65% of my last wage. When I asked her were I could find such jobs, she said that they had none available at the moment, but my reintegration case worker should look into it. What she fails to mention is that it would also involve moving to China or something? The only simple assembly jobs around here these days are government sponsored work camps for the (mentally) handicapped and people who have been unemployed for a very, very long time and are put to work there to motivate them. When I say it like that it feels a bit like North Korea! :D
  • In the same breath, again with a large smile, she said I was doing a super job in getting more mobile by working out, being very active at looking for a suitable job and proper help, and that because of that she would be terminating my sick leave at the end of January 2017. She insisted I should apply for unemployment benefits in mid december cause that takes 6 weeks to process. When I questioned what would happen when the 6 month reintegration process (which is basically a program to make you fot for work again - not a program that actually gets you a paid job) would be finished she told me that the UWV will not help people on unemployment benefits on reintegration, that is only for sick people.
  • Basically, because the guy evaluating me took over 5 months to do so before he signed off on the program, meaning I entered the program after July 1st instead of before that date, I fall under a new law that cuts the getting ready for work and into a job - program in 2, and they will only help me with the first, something they have already admitted isn't really needed for me as I have been working since I was 16 and up to lower manager positions, so I know very well I need to get to work on time, look presentable and how to communicate. But they insist I must follow the 2 steps, but will not help me with the second step, the one I actually applied for and need!. If anyone can follow their logic, please contact me as it is confusing the heck out of me.
  • She then started to insist the reintegration office should be "lenient" and just find me a job, even if they are not paid by the UWV to do so (and it is actually in the contract they are basically forbidden to do so as they are pnly paid for assesement and training!) and have a nice life.
  • After the meeting I sent out a help message to the reintegration office, my councellor and my social worker (and Kim of course) as I felt the earth was falling underneath me. The path we had set out together was suddenly just cut off and I was in utter despair.
In the train back home I recomposed myself, put the Black Dog back in its kennel, and looked at my options. My social worker was the first to call me back as my short message full of despair had deeply worried her, we discussed plans for the rest of the day (basically go home, relax, have a drink and talk to Kim, and have a relaxed evening out as the meeting with UWV actually took place on Kims birthday. Also I was told in no certain terms that any future meeting with the UWV, I must be accompanied by either her or my councellor, as clearly the UWV isn't getting the message about my condition.

So, what about the good stuff? :)

  • Kim turned *cough* 24 *cough* on wedsneday. She had to leave early and didn't wake me. I then went to the meeting with the UWV (see above) and when I got back I picked her up a birthday card. Later that day, we had a long talk about her and my day, I gave her the card and she was all smiles due to the humour of and written in the card. I can be such a joker :)
  • Our dinner for 2 at the Italian place was excellent. We had a great waiter, great food and a long talk that at times was funny but also serious, about the kids, the house, therapy etc and where we would be when we grow old together :) We had a great time.
  • On thursday, I took Kim to the early 4 'o clock movies in Eindhoven to see "Magical Creatures and where to find them" cause she was dying to see it (bit of a Harry Potter fan, she is). She loved it. I loved it. That by itself was great, but after a long stay in the cinema ( 3 hours!) we went outside to see GLOW. Eindhoven ic alled the "City of light" and GLOW is a long route through the city centre and the university grounds of art displays with light (and sound). You just follow the route and there are lots of stops that have displays. Some as small as a small tent, others covering a a huge industrial smoke stack or all along row of trees, with turning lights, lighted wires and sound. it is quite the event actually, I can really reccomend it as some of the art is intercative (one such set up used motion capture cameras to display forms of light on a display in front of you so you could manipulate it by moving. It was great fun). After doing just the university part of the tour (by itself over 3 km's) my knee just would not go any further, we grabbed a burger and took the train back home. When our kids are a bit older we will take them to see GLOW too.
  • Being told by all 3 supporting parties that I'm well motivated, I'm thinking of solutions instead of problems and I'm not being to harsh on me (all the time). My councellor and social worker will have a metting next week to discuss the outcome from the UWV, I will scan and send them the letter I will receive next week and after that we will fight the outcome. My reintegration worker was a bit more blunt. "Fuck UWV, we will get this done without them" (but he too will be invited to the meeting)
So, to stay motivated, I spent some time this week up in the attic. And I found my box full of British!

I can now grab 2 boxes of carrier and 2 boxes of M4A4/Fireflies and put them in the project box.

Today I finished putting (almost) all of the boxed kits into the cabinet. I'm missing 2 or 3 boxes with kits in them, and I think I have about 6 cases with nothing but bagged unboxed kits in them. And yes, that means I have more stuff then the average shop. So sue me.

 Technically, finding a nother half width Billy case would be ideal to sort all of it. Realistically, alot of what you see there has to go as well, either by building it or selling it. Which means getting my ass in gear and start doing stuff.

Which involve selling this lot to add funds to Paypal and my own account.

 That pile should get bigger next week (cause do I really need 4 Ju-52's? Over a dozen FW-190's and Me-109's?) and then I need to make a list, look for up to date 2nd hand prices, and list them on forums and FB.

Also, I have been doing some shopping. I picked up some items suitable for the desert like a Airfix 40mm Bofors (also suitable the BEF and the rest of the war) and a few sheets of decals. Also arrived (and arriving) are more boxes of Battlefront scenery. I received a 2nd box of rail track and rail track extension, and have 2 more boxes of rail track extensions on order plus a cobblestone box and a swamp box. If you would have asked me if I had bought these before Brexit, the answer would have been no, as it is just too expensive, but with the Pound having taken a nosedive and knowing certain UK shops that ship for free it has sudenly become much more affordable. The fun part (for me anyway) is that when everything has arrived (and with everything I mean the railtrack, cobblestones and dirt roads) it all neatly fits in a 3 drawer Moppe so storage and labelling that will be a breeze. When everything has arrived I'll add a light drybrush to the bits to make them stand out a tad more, and I'll mark everything with a white or silver permanent marker on the underside like I mark all of my stuff. Can't be too careful these days.

My last bit of the day is that I want to congratulate the employee from Yodel who managed to relabel my signed for package from SE6 1AP London to  S66 1UB Rotherham by adding their transfer label straight across my packing label, completely messing up the adress, then keeping it in a depot for a week and sending it off to someone who gladly did not accept it. I'm not quite sure how in this automated day and age they managed to cock that one up (after peeling back all the labels, my label appeard in mint con dition, no tears, rips, smears or what so ever, perfecly legible in large script), but I was pleasantly surprised that even with this, PostNL was still able to track and find the parcel, ship it back to me (well, all my packages do have a rather large return adress in the top left corner so no rocket science there) and will even pay me back my shipping costs in full, meaning I can send it on it's way again next week, back to the UK, this time in a even larger box to make sure there is lots of room to put their oversized labels on. And also send it signed for again.

Right, time for bed. Tomorrow the girls will come home again and I have missed them dearly. It's also Kim's real birthday party so there will be plenty of friends and relatives around, sunday we will have a nice day off. And next week I'll make that list :)

vrijdag 11 november 2016

Shit just got real!

Having (barely) recovered from Crisis I translated a Dutch transcript about the battle for Sint Joost for Piers so he could write 2 scenario's about for next periods WSS. I've seen the scenarios and they are pretty good :)

Having received my current copy, I had a read of the 2 scenarios he has written about 2 actions in Belgium. One of them is the "Hunting in pairs" scenario that I had a preview of last month and for which I picked up some stuff at Crisis. A box of Jagdpanthers, a upgrade kit for them, a extra MG42 team, and a box of Carriers......cause I know I already have a big box of British stuff in the attic. Somewhere. Uh-oh....

FFW 2 hours in time, me moving almost all of the boxes on the right side and not finding the damn box. What I did find was tons and tons of kits.

Well shit :(

Tomorow evening I'm going back up, grab an empty box and toss in all the kits I want to sell. And then grab another box and sell those too. This is just way too much. I was perfectly happy with just 1 cabinet full of kits, but this is enough to fill 2 cabinets and there are even more bagged ones in containers I have not even opend yet.

And I need to clean my hobby room too. And where is my box of British stuff??  Aaargh!

zaterdag 5 november 2016

I survived Crisis....and got more then a T-shirt.

Well, I didn't get a T-shirt, just a L sized Plastic Soldier Company polo to fit over my XL frame. Talk about form fitting!

Kudos to the TSA. Antwerp is a bloody mess with roadworks everywhere but their FB page was up to date and markings had been set up at all the turns needed to get there. I got there at 9:00, and was fully expecting to have to set up shop like last year, only to find Will and Ross already having done most of the work. I handed over my offerings of Belgian beer and Dutch treats, put on my Polo and went to work, as the place was already packed with browsing shopkeepers, TSA staff and people doing demos. It stayed crazy busy till 13:00, with a small cue most of the time, after which it died down just a little. By then several items had already been sold out :D 20mm was in high demand this year compared to 15mm.

Around 13:30 I could go on my break and dropped off a prepaid package at Wargames Illustrated and then went to the Bring and Buy to drop off another pre paid package for Migs at a table manned by Brecht. I was told he was the one selling Warhammer stuff. Qua comedy hour with me having to ask at virtually every table if the person selling was Brecht, as everyone seemed to be selling their Warhammer tat :D Fortunately, a guy in the que overheard me and pointed me to a chap way in the back, which was Brecht. I was so relieved to drop that off as I could finally start browsing for myself.

Not a major haul, but with an average kit price of 6 euros I'm not complaining. They are all destined to become wrecks (eventually) except the Bishop and the AT-1. The AT-1 I have been eying ever since Barbarossa came out, and I found out it had only 2 had been made and the project had been cancelled it 1936, but it is such a cute vehicle on the ubiquitous T-26 frame. Sadly, Ebay prices back then were a bit through the roof so this find was great! The Bishop I picked up cause it will go in the British forces for Afrika box. I'm normally not a artillery man (I feel it has no place on a 4x4 or 6x4 battletable) but I do like the idea of making this one day.

Then I started zig zagging the halls with my very tired legs to pick up the few pre orders that I had, and made 2 impulse buys, a TT Combat Brownstone for TNT and a full set of 20mm DAK tank commanders from Adler (new releases). The pre orders were a upgrade pack, 2 vehicles, 3 boxes of scenery and some more weathering paints. The grey blob in the lower right is a pre release cast (well, castst) I got from Ywan and that has just become nr.1 with a bullet on my painting list. You'll see. (also nice to put a face to his name....it feels like I had been talking to him for ages and I've never even seen the guy till today, and his simple rules mean so much to me :D )

Sadly none of the shopkeepers who had FoW scenery had the railway track. I had pre ordered it 6 weeks ago but the shopkeeper had been unable to get it from the UK. Cue meetings with all of the shopkeepers who sell Flames of War. Answers varied from "Leave your adress, and I will see what I can do" to "Battlefront are scum and we will drop them next year". The general concensus was is that they aren't the best at keeping promisses. But yeah, I need those tracks, so I put out some feelers for 1 or 2 boxes. That should last me forever.

 Around 16:30 we started to pack up, I set aside some boxes that I would like to purchase (sadly for me, by then the 20mm Blitz truck had been long sold out) and the new Wacht am Rhein book.

When we finished packing up, Will and Ross thanked me for all my help, all of the beer and treats, wished me a belated happy birthday and Will said, let's do the math on what you want. Here, this pile is a birthdaygift (stack of boxes). Yeah, this is a birthdaygift too (another stack of boxes). These 2 boxes have been opened so here, no charge (we really wish people would just ask us to see the contents instead of tearing open the boxes......Will can't sell them if they are torn open.) Hmm, what will I charge for this pile of boxes? I'll have to deduct that from your wages, young man. And hands me another pile of boxes and almost my full wages. Also I'm practically ordered to come and work for them next year, something I am happy to oblige.

So, what does my birthday present look like?
Yeah. Missing from this picture are 2 more boxes and the Wacht am Rhein book. Cripes, that is a lot of stuff.

I really like Will. No, not because of the gifts (well, it helps) but he keeps rehiring me every year, he knows I just like to work and sell stuff, i know almost the complete product line by heart now, and trusts me enough that he will go on his merry way sometimes and chat with fellow shopkeepers and leaves the shop to me. If only I had a every day boss that would do the same. <sigh>

With that, the long haul back to Holland started.....almost felt like I was migrating! I managed to work all day at Crisis without once sittin g down, and while my knee and feet are now killing me, I'm glad I can still do it. Sure, I'll be pretty dead tomorrow and maybe even sick for a couple of days, but it was all worth it.

Tired as I was, I just finished hanging the laundry, cuddling Emma 4 times and she kept crying for Kim (who is out for an evening of Christmas card making with her sister) and she toutched my heart when I asked her if she missed me much today and she just smiled , said yes, and then hugged me and pulled me into her crib at the same time and didn't want to let go either! And we repeated this 2 more times within the hour till she finally fell asleep.

And why not, I thought, lets clear the boxes from the living room and put them where they belong.

I think I have more PSC kits now then the average shop..... I swapped a box of modern kits last week for 2 boxes of WW2 kits that should be in next week and after that I'll sort everything into Early, Mid, Afrika and Late war piles (for the Germans that is) and I really want to start painting again.

I'm not ending this on a high note though, due to 2 things. 2 Reservations of 60 and 70 euros each had not been picked up, and to my dismay I found out I had no Internet in Belgium (I had checked last week and was told it would not be a problem) so I could not send a message to the 2 individuals.

When I arrived home I paged both, and both had managed to "forget" that they had such expensive reservations. At least one of them was so nice to ask for a shipping quote to get the stuff, but the other chap said sorry and after that I got no more replies.....which pisses me off even more as this stuff has been reserved for more then 6 weeks now and I had other buyers for it then. Oh well, live and learn. I still managed to leave Crisis with more money then I entered so Kim is happy.

Second item is that a felow blogger listed only as Blogger ( I kid you not) has been replying to new and older blogposts of mine with adverts for cheap sigarettes, soda, greencards and links to websites that help you make money off your Blog. I've been deleting around 5 of his posts....well, spam really, a week for weeks now and I just filed a complaint. I'm also thinking of setting my comments to moderated so this shit doesn't happen anymore, but not sure about that.

No pictures from Crisis from me sadly. I barely saw more then a few tables, heck, I barely saw what most shops had for sale .....and that only saves me money so it's a good thing! I'm sure plenty of people will Blog with pictures of Crisis and the pretty tables.

Now, I'm off to bed for a loooong sleep. Well, untill the kids jump on the bed anyway.

dinsdag 1 november 2016

500th post! Also part 2 of Gunbirds military museum day out :)

Blimey, 500th post already? Time sure flies :D Thanks for reading!

Since my last post a few days ago my depression really kicked in and I cared less and less about everything. Selling lots of stuff, while good for the bankaccount, really eats at me as I see stuff go through my hands that I had so many plans for. It's like I'm selling a piece of my heart and soul. It's seeing things I started with energy and enthusiasm and then let slowly die that just feels wrong. So it's a bit of a hurtful process, but nobody ever said change was painless.

I'll have to get over it, like my depression, and look at the bright side of the picture. Refocussing means less (random) purchases in the future. Lower costs (in theory). Actually getting stuff done if I paint from scenario to scenario.

Decided to give myself a small make over, as Kim has taken a day off and went to a spa. To at least feel a bit happier and not look like a homeless person like I have all week, I went for a haircut instead of having Kim trim my hair to a couple of mm.

First time ever a hairdresser gave me the side trim I always wanted, nice and short, with a bit more on top. I still look/feel fucking tired though, and this actually is what is my big smily face. Oh well, I'm going to be bald anyway sooner or later so might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Right, part 2 of the museum day. Afer taking a short break to have lunch I went to the Cavalry Museum, maybe a 10 minutes drive from the Nationaal Militair Museum. This is actually on a active army base so don't forget to bring your ID (you would have to be pretty stupid anyway as carrying a ID is mandatory in the Netherlands and you can get fined if you can't show it). Also, there is very little parking space! After the MP's check your information you get a electronic keycard and you can take the turnstile and wait for someone to escort you to the museum (in this case a elderly volunteer).

(Of course, this being the first time, I did not know the routine so I just joined the que in front of the admission building......thinking:"Wow, they are all here for the museum? I didn't know it was that popular!" which just shows I wasn't quite there. If I had been paying attention quicker I would have seen every single person there was between 25 and 30 and was wearing Thales ID badges. Thales is a defence contractor and as it turned out they were all young engineers on a tour of the base and see Thales products in action. I really was the odd one out in that, I can tell you that! So I stood there for a good 10-15 minutes before I realised I could just pass that que.......

Anyway, the museum is located in the former school of the base and is a short walk from the entry of the base.

After entering, you are asked to leave any backpacks in the locker and you can hang your coat. Entree fee is 4 euros and gives you acces to the museum you are in and the museum holding the vehicles a bit down the road. There are 3 floors in the museum (well, 4, but the top floor is a meeting area for festivities or speeches) and you start at the ground floor. There is lots of silderware, prizes won over the past centuries, a bloody gorgeous painting (of which they sadly didn't have a copy in the shop as I would love to frame it and hang it in my hobby room).

Modern cavalry charge! (well, 1985-90ish)

We start at the old Republic.....

Moving past Napoleon and up to the 1900's.....

...up to present day*

* Present day is a bit of a sore spot, as we disbanded our tank batallions a few years ago and sold almost all of the tanks to Finland,  leaving the task in the hands of APC's and recce units. It is only a few months ago we officially reactivated a tank unit which is now serving.....in the German army! Which in itself is not unusual, as there is a lot of inter EU forces training these days. And the tanks? We are leasing the latest upgraded Leopard 2 model from the Bundeswehr. :)

Pre war Dutch cavalry officer

Days gone by....(also: how to recycle worn parts)

There is a entire side room dedicated to Seedorf and the Dutch forward army base there next to the East German border, the center of our slice of Northag. A huge trip down memory lane of the not so long gone days, with everything from excercises to living and raising a family in Germany, sports and the yearly large excercises.

We then go up a floor, and see where the armoured cavalry began :)

A career soldier in the 1700's

There is a lot of Frenchness in our cavalry history. I've never been into Napoleonics much (and never will be tbh) but the staggering variaty in period stuff amazed me.

Baron Sytzama

After the French occupation, these 2 gentlemen (Sytzama and Boreel) were appointed by the government to raise a cavalry regiment. that fought at Waterloo.

They eventually would name 2 of the 4 Dutch tank regiments raised after WW2.

The various displays tend to be old fashioned but very clean....I did feel a bit like stepping back in time to the previous century, and not just beause of the uniforms.

The light wasn't terribly good either, with all the blinds closed, but I still managed to take quite a few shots.

To make heavy modern(ish) weapons more mobile, the cavalry used horses carrying Lewis guns (with ammunition and mounts)

And no, they did not fire it off the back off the horse, sorry.

I've seen people paint Dutch uniforms as a light blue. Clearly they are not.

Dutch Royalty and their uniforms

Literally every bit of available space is used. This is in the stairways.

:( The last round fired from the last tank - a sad day indeed :(

On patrol during peacekeeping in warn torn former Yugoslavia.

Then we enter a wide area that starts off with nothing but post war items and pictures.
Remebering Indonesia after the war and the Politionele Acties. One of my unlces served there, and my grandfather said it had changed him from a open outgoing man to a closed man who just wanted to forget but couldn't. It was a really shitty war (but then again, aren't they all?)

Think of Holland and think of bicyles. Regiment Wielrijders.

The winter of 1939 was a cold one for the mobilised troops.

A board dedicated to CAT.

There is much more to see, it's a great trip to take for one interested in Dutch cavalry. We now leave the museum and take a short trip past a static display to the vehicle display museum.

Inside we have several vehicles and other items on display.

Daimler from the Prinses Irene Brigade

Then: our new armoured cars.

A Landsverk armoured car. Not a Dutch one though, but an Irish one (wrong gun). The Germans trashed ours.

Then back to Indonesia.

Not Indonesia btw. The RAM tank was already obsolete when we got it.

Shipping boxes from the troops coming back from Indonesia.

And then the tour abruptly ended as my knee really was sick of it and the tourroute sign took me through a door into a hallway with a copier, reception desk and defence personnel. That didn't quite feel right so I backtracked, picked up my bag and limped back to the car. a day well spent.

Now, in the final few days before Crisis, I've finished packing up and labelling all of the stuff that is sold for pick up at Crisis. I might put up some more stuff tonight and on wednesday, but that is it. I'm also giving Will at PSC a big package of Dutch treats and Belgian beers as a thank you for for employing me every year and giving me something to do :D

And that's it for today. Time to relax now.