woensdag 28 december 2016

Christmas book purchases - a small review

I picked up a few books for reading and adding to my book collection, though they are mostly picture books. I tend to use those as inspiration for things I need/want to build. And to practice my German (Reading I can do just fine, speaking....better then most but still bloody horrible :D )

First up is Waffen-Arsenal - 8,8 FlaK an allen fronten ( 8,8 Flak on all fronts)

It's a from the looks of it brandnew copy that I paid 7 euros plus shipping for. I got it for reference pics of the 88 in use with very nice shots of Flaktrains, 88's deployed ad hoc or long term, summer and winter, with and without shield and the bloody mess they become after use as they just left the expended empty shells everywhere which was a bit of an eye opener.....you'd think they chuck em to the side as not to trip over them? Then again they probably had other things on their mind when firing at the enemy. Great shots of markings and other small details too from all fronts. Very useful, this is a keeper. Here are some more shots of the inside.

Next up is the Waffen-Arsenal Deutsche Kustenbefestigungen in Belgien 1914-1945 (German coastal fortifications in Belgium 1914-1945).

Yeah, about that one......I paid 4 euro plus shipping for it (also a brandnew copy) as it peaked my interest as it was listed as German fortifications in Belgium 1914-1945, and I can use some intell on that. But I should have read the cover and did a search on it, as it focus only on the shore based artillery fortifications which isn't really what I was after. There are quite a few very clear pictures of the Belgian, English, French and Polish guns used in the fortifications, as well as some quite heavy WW1 guns. Really nice for someone, just not for me. The sea defences shot was nice though. Artillery shell with fuse on a stick anyone?

Last book of this short review is Concord Publications 1024 After the Storm: Iraqi Wrecks & Fortifications.

I paid 10 euros for it, rather cheap as most Concord books tend to sell in the 12-15 euro range (and sometimes more). It's also brandnew but the spine is discoloured and there is a faint tobacco smell to it (which I loathe. Ex smokers are the worst :P ) Tons of pics of wrecks (what I bought it for) and some excellent shots of fortifications. Nice colour pics too. Well chuffed with this one. Here are some samples.

And that is it for now. I'll do a review on the new Kampfgruppe Walther book soon but I'm still going over it......there is a lot to see and take in!

dinsdag 27 december 2016

Christmas weekend over - back to business

Todays plan was to visit Kim's father for lunch etc, but as usual best laid plans...... Yesterday I spent about 5 hours in the kitchen prepping and cooking a 3 course meal with side dishes for my parents and Kim and the kids and I took too few, if any breaks and by bedtime I was pretty much dead :D. So today I did managed to drag myself out of bed but it was hurting from the neck down so I waived todays trip and Kim and the kids left on their own. After some painkillers and cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom (with plenty of breaks) I went up to get some rest and watch some tutorials, but after a good 30 minutes of that I decided now would be a good time to get my set up ready for 2017. I picked up 2 old Moppe cabinets last week (yes, again! I have 16 now....) of the same model as on my PC desk, purely as project boxes.

Project boxes Gunbird? Yes, the same idea as I mentioned and started a few months back, but smaller. Having a big box to grab stuff from proved to be too much of an open end for me, and these sizes fit 2 kits plus small parts max, keeping things more in check. I just made a list of contents for the project and put the remainder of the contents back in storage. Temporary label on the front and done.

So, after a good couple of hours with plenty of breaks, I end up with this:
PC desk almost finished, and the rest of the week will be putting stuff back in the attic and listing stuff again for sale. Dad gave me a Christmas bonus so to speak but I'm pocketing it all as a deposit for the future training costs. Moms breadbaker turned out to be a dud as as soon as it started to bake it blew the fuses of the entire ground floor. Oops. That's what you get sometimes with second hand stuff.. :)

After another small break I just finished the PC desk too.  Removed all the crap from my whiteboard and neatend that. Wiped the other boards, removed all the cleared tasks and done.

I think I will do a few reviews this week of some recent book and kit trades/purchases just to get things started again. Not too much planned this week other then 2 dinner guests from Kim this week (which gives me a reason to full out Indonesian again I think) and I'll help out with the catering of some friends moving back to Brabant on friday. New Years eve will be at home with the girls fast asleep as always, and then it is 3 weeks of waiting till the next meeting with the insurance company <sigh> and getting the paperwork in order afterwards.

And it's 02:00 in the morning again. Hmm, time does fly :)

zaterdag 24 december 2016

Happy holidays!

Best wishes to you all from me and my family. I wish you all some spare time away from the family for some reading or modelling though :D Enjoy your Xmas presents if you got (yourself) any and I look forward to reading all of your Blogs next year as well.

There are quite a few changes ahead of me for 2017. I'm happy about that on the one end, and scared shitless on the other :D But I do want to make it a really productive year and I have a lot of support to make it so.

I might squeeze in a post next week, I might not. We'll see :) Have a great time, all of you.

woensdag 14 december 2016

A pleasant surprise

Well, since my last Blogpost I've been rolling from surprise, fear and then happyness and then some.

I had a meeting last week with my reintegration....worker? officer? man-person? What do you call such an individual in English? Anyway, he had just had a phone call from the agency representing the insurance company from the man that hit me (still with me here?) about funding the next step of the reintegration program if the UWV will not (and that is almost certain). As she feels that is vital to my recovery (help > job > feel better > less pain > be a productive member of society again) she will push for that with the insurance company. It's by no means a sure thing, but at least it gives some breathing space.

So instead of having a bit over 4 months time to find a job which may or may not suit me, we now have a bit more breathing space, and more importantly, more options. I have a meeting tomorrow about my appeal to ending my sick pay, but we are quite certain it will be upheld so I will roll from sick pay (ZW) to unemployed pay (WW). The UWV will hardly lift a finger if you are in that. They expect you to find a job by yourself, and penalise you when you don't. But......if you want to improve your chances on the jobmarket, you can apply for a 2500 euro allowance to get a education for one of the jobs on their short list. Which is anything from a brick mason to certain high end jobs.

Let's face it, my resume isn't the best. Yes, I've been working almost non stop since I was 16 and have a ton of experience. Degree wise, not so much. I've got a paper showing I finished the first year of HBO (which took me 3 years) and sometimes this is lauded by companies and other times it put down as a wash out. My sales training was only good enough for a MBO level 2 and to get anywhere these days you need MBO level 4 minimum and all the other diplomas I got didn't add anything to that.

So, MBO level 4 degree, and a desk job due to my knee. I have a lot of experience in sales and customer service. So, we are now looking at a basic administrative degree, and then one focussed on commercial activities. My reintegration guy is pretty confident he can find me an 1-2 day a week internship for it while I'm studying for the degrees, and he has some pretty good ideas about which companies would be interested in hiring me.

So, I've spent some time going over the shortlist he gave me of companies that train people for that, and are at least a bit local. Courses are available in the next 2 big cities, within easy reach, and classes are either in the morning or evening hours. Great, I can work with that.

Then lastnight, I got an email that the first aid course I want to do locally to get my qualification in order, is starting in the 2nd week of January and if I was still interested. Courses would be on tuesdayevenings from 19:30 titl 22:00, from January till May. Sure, excellent, let me type this email telling them I'm in, send me the bill........and then I took 2 minutes to check the days which the training for the administrative degree is actually on. Yup, tuesdays from 19:00 till 22:00.

So, a quick email to the first aid training centre in the next city, who replied they have their training on the exact same day and time....and a email to the training institute who is nr 1 on our shortlist. Yes, training in Den Bosch is indeed on tuesdayevening and friday morning. Oh, it's for reintegration? We have different classes for that (didn't see that on the website). Turns out reintegration training is 2 classes a week, and they are at different days and times in the next 2 cities. The lady was kind enough to explain to me that I could take 1 class in one city and another class in the next city to make sure everything worked calendar wise. Best thing, neither cities classes times conflict with the first aid training. Nice. Also, I can start the classes anytime I want so technically I don't have to wait till April for the next series, if there is room I can take  a slot. The reintegration classes are mixed, mostly with the computer and some bookwork, and there is a teacher present to ask questions..

Great. I can see that working. I tried to get a managers degree 10 years ago but with only online training and no pressure to get things done it petered out in a few months time. Now I have a damned good reason to get to these classes, work hard, and get those qualifications.

There is the small matter of cost though.....

First aid trainig - 180 euros (of which my health care insurance will pay 100 euros for me being a decent human being - which I already was as I got 4 different first aid qualifications when working for the UWV, from being a first aid drone up to site manager and first aid training planner, but you need to take exams for all of that once a year and once my contract with UWV was finished I didn't exactly have the money to sustain that)

Basic Administrative employee training - 1645 euros (for which I have several options, either pay it off over a set timeframe (by selling a shitload of hobby stuff?), lend the money from one of my more well to do relatives who more then once told me that if I'm ever in need of something, I need just call (my uncles, my dad, or even my brother.....but asking money from relatives is hard even if I want to pay it all back), or push the bill towards the insurance company)

And then either one of these 2:
- Sales Support employee training - 2145 euros
- Office Sales employee training - 2340 euros

Both of those could be paid for by the government grant.

My current hope is that by the time I turn 41 next year, I have 2 new degrees and a first aid qualification under my belt, have spent quite a bit of time as an intern and maybe already have a job?
I really don't need any other Christmas gifts other then that (not that we do that at Christmas, but hey).

But Gunbird, how does this all relate to the hobby? Well duh, a job creates financial stability (would be nice to save money for the future) and makes me plan my time better. Atm I can almost do what I want, whenever I want, and consequently, almost nothing gets done. Also having a sense of fullfillment is very important to me. Yes, I love comments on my ideas and paintjobs, just as much as I like working someplace that appreciates my talents. I might even be able to take a trip to Ireland again for a weekend of games with Piers and the bunch.

Anyway, some hobby stuff.

I made a small order with RB in Poland (they sell brass barrels) for models I want to build in the coming 6 months.....and promptly forgot to order Jagdpanther barrels <facepalm>. Well, next year.
Also, the last of my purchases arrived this week.

P-7a Fighter for the Polish...either as a wreck or for actual use, not sure yet. Counts as a fighter with guns or bombs in Battlegroup (Well, technically the P-11 but this one was 2,50 euros from a local seller so won't pass that up) and the rest I told you about last time. Was pleasantly surprised to find almost all still sealed and the German KV-2 has a sprue for a KV-1 turret extra so I could just swap that if I like and make it German or Russian.

Other then that my buying days are over....for this year anyway :D

Did sell some more stuff and made some trades and someone who knows someone locally that has a sister that has "train stuff" asked me if I wanted a small Dutch house? Sure, surprise me....so she will drop it off later this week.

And much to my relief, all 3 packages to the UK and Ireland that I have sent recently, after taking detours and what not, ended up at the buyers locations. 3-4 day delivery became more like 10-14 days delivery.....ridiculous for a Channel hop. It just proves again that you should not ship stuff in December.

Going to a gamers meeting in Zutphen on saturday at the home of the WSS magazine and I'll tell you all about it when I get home.

And that is all folks.

donderdag 8 december 2016

Learning from your mistakes.

Sometimes I do things the right way, sometimes I do things the wrong way. Selling stuff to make space, add cash to my bankaccount and Paypal for future purchases, making targetted purchases just for 1 or 2 scenarios and then going with that, is doing it the right way (for me anyway).

Getting into a frenzied panic after bad news and thinking that I will no longer have spending cash in 6 months time to get what I want, and then binge buy my way through Ebay, Marktplaats and FB groups......not the right way. (Though in my head it is quite logical. (damn you, head))

So, what have I done? I had been merrily selling stuff and purchasing the odd bits of scenery by scouring the deepest recesses of the Interwebz and comparing offers, shipping costs and conversion rates to get the most bang for my buck (and you'd be amazed at the huge differences sometimes) and this was going pretty well. Sales were going well and more money was flowing in then out. Good business, clearing the attic and a happy wife.

Then 2 things happend. The deal/trade with Piers, bad news on the job and knee fronts, and a sale. (ok, so it's 3 things)

* For the deal with Piers I need stuff to turn into wrecks. I need to buy stuff.
* Bad news makes me overeat and/or overspend.
* Sales.....I kinda stopped going "Wow, a sale! Buy stuff!" as it is pretty obvious to most people most (not all) shops routinely have sales. Most are in the 10-20% off range, nicely covering shipping costs most of the time. Buying directly from producer can help too ( and they have sales too, at times)

So, for the deal with Piers I need to make wrecks. For that I need cheap, unmade plastic kits as I find those the easiest to work with. Some kits work better then others though. Luckily, my local FB group has 2 regular sellers that occasionally list multiple 1/72 or 1/76 boxes at once in the 5-7 euro range.
Splurge session 1 - buying stuff to make wrecks.

Bad news makes me spend money due to irrational fears. There, I'm human. In this case my fear is no longer having money for the hobby so stock up now! Wargamer meets Survivalist kind of thing I guess. At least my head was clear enough to check quite a few stores to get the best deal per kit(s) purchased. Splurge session 2 - buying stuff for plans for expanding not even built yet armies.

Sales. In December lots of shops have sales. For some of these shops I make lists of needs, so that I can buy them when they have a sale. Splurge session 3 - well, barely, as I just bought from one producer.

In 2 weeks time I spent a bit over 250 euros on 48 boxed kits that will build into 58 vehicles (If I would build and complete 1 vehicle every 2 weeks I'd be busy with that lot for over 2 years!) using nothing but sales and 2nd hand boxes.

Yeah.....not smart. Especially as the model kit sale I'm having right now is going really, really slow, but I will spend a day listing everything on Marktplaats to get more exposure so who knows. December is always a month I hardly do any sales in. Maybe January will be better.

Anyhow....Gunbird, what on earth did you spend so much money on? I'm glad you asked.

Ace - Russian 85mm AA gun (wreck), Italeri - 251/C (wreck), UM - BA-3 (wreck) PST - Ford (wreck), Eastern Express - T34/85 with mineroller (wreck, mineroller will become a add-on for my own T-34's), ICM - BM-24-12 (sent by accident, was told to keep it), Matchbox - Kfz 69 with PaK (Early War Germans), 3x Revell - T72 M1 (all wrecks)

UM - ZSU-37 (Late War Russians), Matchbox - Churchill Avre with Bridge (Late War British - conversion of the PSC kits), Mirage - AT-1 (Early War Russians), Attak - Grille M (Mid to Late War Germans - to convert a PSC 38(t)), 2x FtF - TKS 20mm (Polish - for the Cockroach scenario), 2x S-Models SU-85 (2x Mid to Late War Russians, 1x Mid to Late War German, 1x spare or wreck), PSC 251C (all 3 for my Early to Mid War Germans)

First to Fight....2x TKS-MG (Poles - Cockroach scenario), 4x Fiat 621 (2 for wrecks, 2 for Germans), PaK36 (2 in a box - Germans), 2cm FlaK30 (1 for Early War, 1 for Late War,), 251/1A (to convert for a Mid/Late War German HQ vehicle with a map on the front), 3x Pz Kpfw 35(t) (Early War German, need 2 for the Cockroach scenario but a standard platoon for Blitzkrieg is 3 so I went with that), and by far the most expensive kit of them all, the most I've spent on a single tank to date, a Dragon Ersatz M10. With expensive I don't mean the current Ebay prices but still more then what I usually pay for a kit. I always wanted one for the Ardennes, that and a converted Stug for which the PSC one will do nicely. No snow crap for my bases as I'll use my normal Germans for the rest. Italeri - fast build M13/40 for Afrika (no idea what army though), Pegasus Models fast build Su-122 and Su-85M/100. The first for my Mid War Russians, the latter to be built as Su-100's

Still in transit is another box from a second hand seller. PST KV-1C (wreck or Russian) PST KV-2 German (German army for shits and giggles in Late War colours) Italeri M163 Vulcan (came free with the lot, I have no armies that use this I think...possible trade fodder), Italeri DUKW (no use for it atm, could be trade fodder or resupply vehicle for D-Day) Mirage 7tp - 2 turret and single turret version (both as wrecks) UM Su-76 (Russian Army) Roden 233 (wreck), Academy Ground vehicle set (wreck, wreck, wreck), Airfix Matilda (dug in bunker for Afrika) PST KV-2 (Russian or wreck) PST KV-1E (Russian or wreck)

The stuff that dreams are made of? Perhaps. If I was to spend 3 weeks per vehicle building, basing and painting it, this lot will keep me busy for a good 3 years. Was it smart to spend so much money in such a short period? No, it wasn't, tbh. Am I now super duper evil? Nah, just human. I made a small mistake, I now have (most of) the stuff I wanted so I can get on with it.

My next move will be to put the new purchases up in the attic, and bring the ones needed for the 2 scenario's downstairs, put them in boxes and just get on with it. I'll probaly will start with the Polish scenario first, building 4 Polish tanks (though I only need 3) and 4 German tanks (though again I only need 3, and the Panzer IV B conversion of the PSC modelwill take up some time)

Lesson learned. Looking forward to 2017.