Escape (albeit temporary) from Massachusetts 2022 – Orlando, Golf School, and Wargaming at RECON

With the unhappy demise of our beloved Caesar on New Years Day (discussed here), and Lynn having subsequently joined me in retirement, we found ourselves for the first time in many years being able to travel. We decided to drive down to the Orlando Florida area in April to visit with friends, for some recreation, to attend a Marriott golf school, and to attend the RECON HMGS South Gaming convention. It was a needed break. The garage+ project would continue while we were gone – so no need to hang around in Massachusetts – off to Florida!

We drove because frankly we prefer it. We were in no mood to deal with airlines, masking requirements, and the rest. Besides, we could more easily bring all the stuff we wanted to take that way.

The morning we left was a chilly start.

It took us three days to get down to Florida (really two and a half). It’s a roughly 1200-mile drive. We left on 4/13, and stopped south of Richmond, VA and in Savannah, GA on the way.

X5 is packed, let’s hit the road!

The ride down was mostly done on I95 (avoiding NYC metro as that’s a nightmare). However, the most surprising aspect of the drive down was the number of dangerous/reckless drivers we saw – and really seeing no traffic enforcement to speak of on the way. Even while we were in Florida (where along with the metro DC area) we saw many drivers who were totally oblivious to safe driving practices. The only times we saw any cops on the highways happened twice in Florida when they shut down I4 – both for fatal crashes. Maybe this chaos was so because it was spring break week – but for the ride back we took a longer path inland towards I81-I84 and it was far less like a post-apocalyptic Road Warrior movie or a game of GASLANDS.

Arriving at our first hotel on Friday the 15th (the Wyndham in Kissimmee), we checked in and hit the pool deck for some needed drinks and relaxation. This hotel was also the site for the HMGS South RECON Gaming convention, but that was not to happen until the following weekend. That night, we got together with the Surdu’s (Buck and Candy) for dinner with them which was great fun.

Arrival and hanging out at the pool

As for Easter weekend, we decided that Disney and Universal costs were way too expensive – and we had visited both previously. Nearby SeaWorld owns both itself in Orlando, and Busch Gardens in Tampa. They had a decently-priced deal for visiting both parks in 5 days (well better than the ridiculous fortune that the other parks were asking for). We had not been to either before, so the plan became Busch Gardens for the 16th, and SeaWorld for Monday the 18th, with Easter Sunday being a hangout day at Casa Surdu.

On Saturday the 16th, we drove to Tampa to visit Busch Gardens theme park. It has a LOT of roller coasters and is a pretty good zoo. Neither of us like roller coasters, but the experience was good. The animal exhibits were quite good. Below I have put up a few photos:

Busch Gardens map
The kangaroo pavilion – made me think of you Aussies…
The kangaroos and wallabies were cooling out – I sent this to IRO and he said it reminded him of his buddies after a good amount of beer consumption!
“Petting” a sleeping hyena
My favorite image – a Nile crocodile (not an alligator) and a very oblivious Florida egret that flew in to hang out. Apparently the croc wasn’t hungry.

We had an enjoyable day. The next day, Easter Sunday, was excellent as we got to hang out with Buck and Candy – whose hospitality was superb and thanks again you two.

On Monday the 18th we went to SeaWorld. Of course, it is known for its orcas. I have to say it was a very nice sea-themed park with fauna from all ends of the globe. Certainly they have changed practices with all of their animals since the unfortunate trainer death a decade+ ago.

This walrus was in the arctic section of the park – along with beluga whales and others from that area. This walrus really hammed it up for us at the window, blowing bubbles and cavorting.
The killer whales (orcas) were amazing to see.
Great to see these but we stayed out of the “splash zone”!
Wow!

Both Busch Gardens and SeaWorld have partnered with Sesame Street to have a kids section of their respective parks. I thought it was tastefully done.

Juvenile dolphin pool.

We also had purchased the “all-day dining” package – which was really not all it sounded like. It did not cover beer, and any food purchased under the plan started a 90-minute clock that prevented any other freebies until that 90 minutes was up. Also, most of the special kiosk foods were not covered (like the pretzel one below). Otherwise, we enjoyed the park – which also is loaded with roller coasters that we didn’t ride. The exhibits were really cool, as were the special show-type ones such as for the seals and the orcas.

Time for a beer (not free under the dining plan), a pretzel (also not free), and a selfie with Lynn.
Met a new friend – but he only cared for cookies…would not share as they were not under the plan either…

Now both at Busch Gardens and at SeaWorld there were some promotional displays. This one also made me think of our favorite Aussie gardener/landscaper IRO. And no I did not spend my entire vacation thinking of him – just being reminded of him was enough!

Does IRO mow with Bad Boys?

That night we left the Wyndham for the Marriott Golf Resort/School for two days of relative luxury and golf school for us both. Lynn picked up a lot, and I used the opportunity to rework my swing (which is now coming around as I write this in early June as expected two months later). Lynn and I have been playing golf more and it’s nice to have the chance to play together. She’ll never be a die-hard like me, but we’re having fun. The Marriott resort there is really nice too.

At the Marriott Golf School.

After two days (the evening of the 18th-20th) at the Marriott, it was back to staying at the previous Wyndham where HMGS South was having their RECON gaming convention. Lynn was indeed missing the Marriott…so I plied her with a blue drink…

I think she misses the Marriott…

Still we managed to have fun on the 18th – the Wyndham had an interactive game of dodgeball with zombies on a projection screen. Apparently the blue drink does not help accuracy with dodgeball against the undead.

Yes, zombie dodgeball!

Still we were having a good time.

Hey that’s my hat!

The next day (April 21st), I had the privilege of gaming with with Buck back at his amazing gaming room (which you can see below). As a bonus, my old West Point roommate Dave Wood and Buck’s buddy JJ were there. We were also joined via Zoom for this gaming session with Greg Priebe and Chris Palmer of the Maryland-based HAWKS gaming club. While Candy took our spouses out, we wargamers playtested a massive Napoleonic game using a derivative of Buck’s Wars of Ozz rules. It is in development and will be called Wars of Eagles and Empires.

Wars of Eagles and Empires game
This game was a lot of fun, and despite its size, it only took about three and a half hours – not bad for a playtest.

Then we moved on to run a final test of Dave’s RECON WOOD (Wars of Orcs and Dwarves) game. This also uses Buck’s Wars of Ozz-type mechanics, but with changes for fantasy gaming. It is close to publication. Here are some images – we would also play this game at RECON after any modifications.

The pig-faced orcs defend a bridge and river against the halfling onslaught.
Halfling cavalry on goats and giant roosters attack.

The next day (22nd) was our day 1 of RECON. We reran the Hobbits raid on the Orc village scenario at the convention and it was a hoot.

Hobbits on purple pachyderms force a bridge crossing!
The mighty GM (Buck) surveys the carnage.

I want to give EXTRA credit to Lynn as she agreed to game the whole day with me. During a lull in the game, I asked her with iPhone in hand if she was enjoying herself…

Having fun dear?

Seriously, she was a good sport but one day of gaming a year is the best I can expect!

We then played in a Combat Patrol™ game involving Star Wars figures that was fun.

Dave and Buck GM’ing the Star Wars game.
Buck had a nice tabletop here.
All had fun – though I think my side (clones) lost against the droids.

The last game Friday was a 7ITV game that Lyn and I played. There were three side-by-side games – and Lynn and I played the Scooby-Doo scenario.

Lynn and I play the Scooby-Doo scenario. Hey, she’s smiling! Next to her is JJ playing against Buck in a Jonny Quest scenario.
Here you can see the three scenarios – some other sci-fi scenario is on the end. Buck is looking distracted. I think the GM had a wonderful set of terrain but the games dragged as we took a while to grasp the mechanics. Also, I found it tough to get his attention with three games running simultaneously – so not as fun as I expected. But Lynn had served her gaming sentence and was free to hang out with Candy at a blueberry fest on Saturday while the con went on.

Saturday morning Buck ran a Philippines 1941 Combat Patrol™ scenario that I helped him as an assistant GM. I truly enjoyed this!

Buck surveys the tabletop in his happy shirt.
The Japanese players move up their Ha-Go tanks towards the bridge. Neither the tanks nor the the bridge would survive long as the Americans reacted.

The next game was my favorite – a massive Wars of Ozz game where I commanded a brigade of Winkie zilk-riding cavalry (think giant birds of prey). I maneuvered the brigade to assault the Quadlings and Munchkins opposing me.

My Winkie cavalry forms up.
The tabletop – my cavalry is in the foreground.
My Winkie cavalry moving into action!

The game was an overwhelming Winkie and Gillikin (my allies) victory.

Lastly, Buck, JJ, and I (Dave left Friday) played a neat Spanish-American scenario for Blood & Steel. The GM did an excellent job – and the game came down to a final roll of the dice, which went for Buck and JJ, but it was a lot of fun to play them. The scenario was a very fun skirmish game. (no pics sorry).

After this, we said goodbye and I headed back to my room where Lynn and I packed up for the return trip to Massachusetts.

I have to say it was a great trip – and one I will always remember. Big thanks to Buck and Candy!!!! Dave and JJ too!!

Next up – how I built a Conquistador fleet for the Battle of Lake Texcoco for HUZZAH 2022 (in between taking this trip and HAVOC 2022)!

Catching up!

Yes, I am alive…at least I think I am, which counts for something I guess…

Apologies for not being as active – or more precisely not being a contributor at all – on the blogosphere since March. I HAVE been reading the blogs I follow but have not commented or hit “like” or anything of the sort. Why you may ask, have I been seemingly dormant?

The truth is I have been busier than a 1-legged man in an ass-kicking contest!

One would think that retirement would have slowed me down. It has had exactly the opposite effect.

I have – since my last post in March:

  • Ran two Mass Pikemen Gaming Club gaming sessions (one What a Tanker and one Feudal Patrol with my Spanish Conquest rules supplement Civilizations Collide).
  • Prepared for and ran 4 four-hour tabletop Feudal Patrol™ games at a three day gaming convention (HAVOC) in Massachusetts.
  • Drove 1200 miles to Florida and 1200 back over two weeks for another gaming convention (HMGS South’s RECON where I gamed for three days), two days of golf school, and a lot of leisure activities and travel with my wife.
  • Built a completely new MASSIVE naval game for Feudal Patrol™ – Aztecs vs. Conquistadores on Lake Texcoco – which required me to build 5 brigantines and 5 guns and 5 three-man crews – let alone the game rules, markers, dashboards, etc. I just finished it in time and debuted it at HUZZAH convention in Maine in April (150 miles away).
  • Went to the aforementioned HUZZAH and ran 6 four-hour games in 4 days
  • Continued on the garage never-ending but close to ending now project…now the driveway is completely paved, and the final pieces and landscaping are happening as I write.
  • Started golf season – started off really frigging cold but warming up now. Hey, I’m in Massachusetts after all.
  • Ran for reelection for Board of Health in my town. I was unopposed but got 82/99 votes (only a 6% turnout for a municipal election).
  • Played in 8 golf events and two weekly golf leagues as well as participating on a committee for three other tournaments. Plus trying to groove a new swing.
  • Also in March we had a funeral for my brother in law – he had been sick for a while so not a surprise.
  • Been driving my granddaughter to and from school 3 days a week.
  • I guess I had a blog birthday (my 7th) back in March – missed that too!

Yeah, I’ve been idle and lazy…

Awaiting school drop off with 5 year old Tabitha – and yes those are golf clubs and shoes in the back of my car!
When Tabitha (on right) sees her friend Alina – they go hand-in-hand to school. Awwww…

So where do I go from here?

  • Basically I am going to restart and regularly read more of the blogs I follow.
  • I am also going to post about all of the above-mentioned conventions. I have run a dozen convention or club games this year as a GM so far, and played in nearly as many others too. I’ll share some info and pics about epic games I ran (IMO – hint – some of my games I ran were award-winning) or played in. These were at RECON, HAVOC, HUZZAH, and the Mass Pikemen that I think you will enjoy.
  • I’ll post about the building of my Conquistador brigantine fleet and their falconet & lombard crews.
  • Going to throw in some vacation and golf stuff as well – after all this blog IS titled “Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions“.

Again, glad to be back and hopefully I won’t overwhelm you with new posts – and to those of you who inquired about me, thanks for caring and checking in. Thanks for missing me!

Let the blogging begin!

My 2021 Hobby, Gaming, and Blogging Roundup

2021 was another one that we all want to forget in many ways, but not all.

I set out some goals for myself back last December for 2022. Some were around gaming, some around hobby production, some were around golf, and more. Back when I was working in “the dreaded private sector”, I had sales goals to hit every period – be it yearly, quarterly, thrice annually, or whatever. Every manager would ask you for “stretch goals” – which was pretty unnecessary as the sales quotas you were given from corporate were never layups anyways. Still, it’s always good to have a plan and try your best. It’s also good to be honest with yourself and be accountable to yourself. Hopefully, that’s what I did with regards to my goals in 2021.

How did I do versus my 2020 goals?

Paint 250 figures or more

That did not happen, though my production was pretty good at 104. For three months I did not do any painting (August-October) as I was pretty involved with the new garage+ project.

Not even all of them now…

Complete the figures and terrain for Civilizations Collide

I have to give myself full credit here – the building of the Aztec cityscape was an epic project. However, I still am finding that I have more to do as I develop scenarios for my Spanish Conquest scenarios booklet – so yes I built what I planned – I just have more to do to flesh out the other scenarios with terrain and figures.

Historicon 2022

Complete my figures for Wars of Ozz, ok at least 40 of them

Big miss here – did not get to them. I did get to play a game at Christoricon though – commanding the Greater and Lesser Pumpkinheads.

I gotta paint mine (these are not).

Paint up a platoon from Wargames Supply Dump for Combat Patrol™.

Big miss here – did not get to them either.

Attend and run games at conventions or club nights or both, if possible – to include Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games, What a Tanker©  Battle of France May-June 1940, and Aztec games (live or virtually) for Feudal PatrolTM using my “Civilizations Collide” supplement

No retro sci-fi games or WaT games this year – but I did run multiple games of for Feudal PatrolTM using my “Civilizations Collide” supplement, to include at Historicon.

Christoricon

Get my golf handicap down below 15

HA! I have hovered around 20-21 all year. I did get new clubs this year, and I won my flight in the Club Championship (and as a caveat it was the D Flight, but I am proud of that).

I did get a trophy…

Play golf (in season) at least twice a week

I did do this!

The new G425 toys! I also got G710 irons.

Make between 30 and 36 blog posts of value and quality

As far as quality, I would judge them as up to standard (but that is the reader’s judgement, no?). Quantity-wise, I did 54, so that’s a “check”.

Get back on the Imperial Rebel Ork podcast

Well IRO euthanized his podcast earlier this year, so that wasn’t possible. Understandably, the man had a cabin to build!

Build a new garage

As most of you know, that is on-going, so not yet done.

Through early December

Personal Highs for 2021

  1. Continuing to serve my Town (East Brookfield, MA) as the elected Board of Health Chairman during the pandemic. Specifically, getting over 500 seniors vaccinated (1/3 from neighboring towns even), and getting nearly 100% of the 56+ residents vaccinations.
  2. Completing the Aztec cityscape and bringing it to the gaming at Historicon – and playing with Harry (borderguy190 at War Across the Ages and Other Dark Horrors).
  3. Getting together with Dave Wood, Buck Surdu, Greg Priebe, Chris Palmer, and Duncan Adams in person and on Zoom games. Even had The Imperfect Modeller on one game as an observer (which was cool).
  4. Winning my flight in the club championship at Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club in Oakham, MA.
  5. Having fun Zoom chats with Luke (IRO), Dave (The Imperfect Modeller), Dave (Wargames Terrain Workshop), Mike (despertaferres), and Pete (S/P Project Blog).
  6. Getting the garage started and mostly done.
  7. Getting together with family especially my daughter Ellen and my granddaughter Tabitha.
  8. My wife Lynn, every day (seriously).

Personal Lows for 2021

  1. One that comes to mind I’ll save for next year as it was 2022. Still a fresh wound.
  2. That pandemic thingy from China, ’nuff said.

My goals for 2022

Well, its time to set my goals for 2022.

  1. Paint 150 figures or more.
  2. Complete the remaining conquistador figures for Civilizations Collide.
  3. Complete the remaining terrain for Civilizations Collide, to include the brigantines.
  4. Complete the remaining Maya figures for Civilizations Collide.
  5. Complete the scenario booklet for Civilizations Collide.
  6. Complete my figures for Wars of Ozz, ok at least 40 of them.
  7. Paint up a platoon from Wargames Supply Dump for Combat Patrol™ .
  8. Try to get my Nomonhan WaT project off the ground.
  9. Attend and run games at conventions or club nights or both, if possible. This would include TotalCon34, HMGS South Recon, HAVOC, HUZZAH!, Historicon, and BARRAGE .
  10. Get the Mass Pikemen more active once the pandemic diminishes.
  11. Celebrate my wife’s retirement (and mine belatedly) with a nice trip.
  12. Finish the garage+ and launch that baby successfully.
  13. Post on the blog 48 times or more – and in good quality.
  14. Be a good blog follower.
  15. Have multiple Zoom chats with fellow hobbyists.
  16. Go to a golf school and get my golf handicap down below 18.
  17. Play golf (in season) at least twice a week.
  18. Win my flight in the Championship.
  19. Be a competitive golfer.

Again, thanks to all who make the time to read this blog – Happy New Year!

Lastly, here follows a detailed list of the 2021 production. You can access more details here.

2021 Production
  • 104 figures painted
  • 0 figures cast
  • 25 figures assembled
  • 144 terrain pieces made or assembled
  • 145 terrain pieces painted
  • 1 figure or terrain piece conversions
  • 1 creation or component sculpted or scratch-built
  • 0 molds made
  • 1,051 game pieces/game aids made and/or painted

Our Garage+ Project – Week 10 and 11 Update

The project continues! Although I was so late with Week 10 that I decided to combine weeks 10 and 11. As you will see from this post – a lot went on from September 19-October 2, 2021. Some of it involved construction, some not – as you will see. I’ll do my level best to make this interesting by including not only some construction photos, some other stuff, to include golf and a bit of hobbies!

There are a lot of pictures here – click on any of them for a bigger view.

Let’s start with electrical work and some progress around the cellar. Wait, the cellar? Why there? Aren’t you building a new garage and house deck Mark? All valid questions that I am presupposing that you may be asking! So let me attempt clarification.

To power the new building, I needed to get the service upgraded from 100 amps to 200 amps. Our electrical service meter and box was in the back of the house over the old (now removed) house deck. Previously, electrical power came from the National Grid pole out front on the street to the house then went along the soffit and into the cellar at the back right-hand corner of the house if you will. The plan was to make this bigger and better by moving the meter and building a new box for it at the front left corner of the house. A new hole had to be drilled for the new power cable, and that needed to be run to a new replacement distribution box in the basement. This work occurred on September 21st.

Here you see he old distribution box mounted on whatever lumber the previous homeowner had available – back in the 50’s? 60’s? – to include a piece of trim! We had a series of shelves built by the previous owner long ago (probably 40+ years) along this wall. We had put an old bureau (left over from my childhood actually) under the shelf planking that was attached to the monstrosity that the distribution box was mounted on. The dryer vent snakes up to the wall as you see.
Here you see the electricians (Mike and Paul) trying to determine the sill height to drill for the power cable by using the window as a reference for outside. The actual hole would be far to the left. The other end of the old shelving/cabinet that I referred to above is seen here on the wall under the cassette cases (future yard sale items).

Drilling through the old sill was a bitch. The sill was quite thick – 13″ – and made of solid oak. The hole drilling destroyed two hole saw bits.

The view through the sill access hole from inside. This was 13″ of solid oak. Mike Astrella (electrician) can be seen here peering through the other side.

Outside, work went on the new meter box and running the cable and hooking it up to the power grid.

Completed. The box on the left is an old Verizon landline box (now removed) and the one on the right is our Spectrum cable line.

Back in the cellar, the old distribution box mounting monstrosity was removed and a new sheet of plywood and some lumber from the garage build was used to build a suitable mount. The new configuration is bigger and we will need to move the dryer to the wall to the left of the distribution box so that the vent hose is not right next to it. But, as we were using the old the shelves I never got around to paint it as you can see – and it looked like hell.

Also, I need to back up a bit. It had been necessary for me to clear a lane along the wall for the electricians to run the power cable prior to their starting work. After I did that, I got a good chance to look at the wall and the crappy homemade shelving/cabinet. I noticed a lot of old paint flaking on the wall near the dryer vent and some puckering where I had painted the corner in the front left of the house. The puckering was due to efflorescence, not water leaking, even with the excessive rain we have had this summer. An old dry well that I had built over a decade ago in the front left corner of the house was no longer doing its job, so the rain water outside the basement wall was not properly draining – leading to the efflorescence bubbling up behind the paint. We decided that the shelving cabinet needed to go and the wall repainted.

Before I did that, I rebuilt the drywell. When I originally built it, I had dug down about 3 feet and hit sand, so I had then assumed that the soil was free-draining. When I dug this time, I went a bit deeper, and to my surprise I found that there was yet another soil layer under the sand. This one was a loamy clay – that does not drain well. So, I dug down another 3 feet and backfilled it all with sand from the excavations in the backyard. I replaced the downspout extensions and doubled the length. The we covered the area with a filter fabric and then covered that with river stones.

I then spent the time to take down the shelving/cabinet with my wife. She was able to recycle the doors as shelving in another section of the cellar. I scraped off any flaking paint and exposing any efflorescence. Then, I used a mildly acidic product, Drylok Etch, across the wall to clean and prep for painting with bright white Drylok Extreme (both from Home Depot). This took a while, but came out well. We are taking the opportunity to clear out some stuff and have a yard sale this weekend to get some new homes for some good stuff we don’t need anymore. Plus, I can’t do any hobbies as you can see below!

Back in the garage, the septic line was stubbed up in the floor with a cleanout.

A very exciting septic line beginning…

On the 24th, it was time to place the concrete floor in the garage. I say “place” and not “pour” because that was drilled into me in the US Army Corps of Engineers as the appropriate terminology – and that stuck.

The concrete truck arrives and begins to discharge its load…but there’s a problem…
…the concrete truck chute cannot extend far enough into the garage.

This was no problem as this plywood will be removed eventually when the door is installed.

Because of the many rain days, Andy Cormier arranged to get help to finish off the septic line installation.

Having the septic line in the ground and attached to the septic tank allowed for its backfilling as well as work to proceed on the driveway excavation.

On Monday, September 27th, Lynn and I participated in the annual West Point Society of New England’s annual charity golf tournament, along with our friends, Lisa and Jim Kularski. This year, the beneficiary was Homes for our Troops. It was a nice break while construction work continued.

When we returned home, there was a lot of dirt moved around. It turned out that the soil under the driveway had the same layering issue that I found in my dry well excavation – so a lot had to go, and be replaced with clean fill.

Excavation showing the soil cross section
Better view of the soil layers.

Of course, Tuesday the 28th brought yet more downpouring rain. Therefore, earthwork and any other work could not happen. We only got a delivery of deck material for the house deck.

Deck lumber delivery.

On Wednesday the 29th, the skies cleared and work could proceed. The driveway was excavated and brought to grade. Old asphalt, and interfering roots and stumps (including a 4-5 ton maple tree stump) were removed in this process.

At the end of the day, the driveway was filled, and all the holes were filled in.

Driveway base in.
Top view.
No more stump.

The next work skipped a day (rain), and that involved the framing of the replacement house deck. This was October 1st. Jonny also got ready to install the rain gutter system for the garage deck.

Deck framing on October 1st.

To make up lost time to rain, work continued on the deck on Saturday the 2nd. This weekend I had not one but two competitive golf tournaments. The first was on Saturday which was the Finals of the Tour of the Brookfields. If you are on Facebook, the group link is here. I am a member of the committee. My team was in the lowest division, but we did not come in the top three. Still, congrats to the winners!

Better luck next year.

After the tournament, I returned to see progress on the house deck.

Saturday progress
Different angle view.

So, a lot of progress was made over the two weeks!

(Lastly, I previously mentioned a couple things that I need to circle back to – the first being the Sunday Founder’s tournament at Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club (where I am a member). This was an individual event and I played better, but not well enough to be the winner (only one male and one female winner out of dozens of players so no big deal). However, back during the annual club championship (a two-day 36-hole tournament of individual medal play from the back tees) on July 31-August 1st – I was able to play my best golf of the year (98/88 for a net 2 over par for the event) and win the D flight against 11 others. So Sunday, I got my reward.

In my office!

What you see here left to right is a comic statue that belonged to my grandfather Marcus (a WWII vet who gave me a love of golf), my unlucky conquistador “Franco”, my trophy, and as it’s October, my Halloween mini-diorama with Ral Partha 25mm figures of classic monsters from the 30’s Universal Studios movies.

Ah, but I digress – week 12 is well underway and I will have much more to share. I hope that you enjoyed this and thanks for looking!

A Real Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions Update – And yes I am alive! and more!

It’s been a very busy time here at home since my last blog post in early June. Some of you have wondered if I had gone past my expiration date. Rest assured, I, for better or worse, am still on the top side of the fairway (or maybe the rough anyways).

This post will be a bit different than the standard fare I usually offer here. Yes, the title of my blog is “Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions”. Too often, however, I neglect everything EXCEPT miniatures here. But as I now have a good deal to share on all of these, well, I guess for once I’ll give equal billing. You see, I have been building my Aztec cityscape. It’s a tabletop wargame set up that needs its own (and probably multiple separate) posts.

That is NOT the subject of this post – you did read the title friend?

No, this time instead, I’ll ramble through each of the aforementioned title topics about “stuff” that has gone on in the last month. I’ll share some hopefully interesting photos and a few observations that will (maybe) make you say wow! Or Hmmm! Or Huzzah! Or WTF? Or a combo? Your choices of course. Chuckling is allowed and strongly encouraged

As its been over a month since my last post, sit back and enjoy – I think that I did for the most part.

Life

This section is dedicated to the more important parts and events of my life – you know, the ones that I don’t usually write about. But they are important – and yes, even more important than minis or golf (oh please don’t make me write that again but it’s true). Most of this section is organized chronologically, but not aligned with the other sections – a lot of this is about family, vacations, and food!

Let’s start here with my wife Lynn and I celebrating her birthday back on June 12th. We got a pair of 2.5 pound lobsters and had a great meal at home!

As the pandemic really kept the planet at home, and as I am often remiss each summer in taking my wife to the beach as often as she’d like, I felt that it was important that this year I make an effort – especially as she was to be on vacation – to get her to the beach. Now, she likes Newport, RI, but I’ve always preferred Hampton Beach, NH. And she likes it too by the way – so I’m not a total ass! As her vacation weeks were fixed (I’m always off so no big deal for me), we looked at the calendar and June 28th looked like the only day of her first vacation week that would not be rainy. It also was hot as hell – so, we made the 90 mile trek to the New Hampshire coast.

Looking out towards my UK friends from under my umbrella. You are over there somewhere.
Beautiful day at the beach.
The north end of Hampton Beach.
As New Hampshire is The Granite State, it was nice to see these old rocks at low tide. We were just sitting behind these by 100 yards.
Same area as previous shot. looking at the ocean.

Now please understand, the water here is truly cold – usually not warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 10 degrees Celsius for you metric types). No Gulf Stream here to warm the water. As this day the air temp was 89 degrees Fahrenheit with a slight breeze (that’s 32 degrees Celsius for you metric types) – it felt like we were in a convection oven even under our umbrella. I took a couple mile walk to get the photos and some exercise and despite sunscreen got a (mild) sunburn and a couple blisters from the hot sand! Amazing to experience such heat with such cold water so close. Yes, I know that it gets hotter in other places (and I’ve lived down South too plus some time in the Sahara), but for us this was really hot. Lynn and I decided to head out for the boardwalk and some old (like us) video games, shade, and a snack, and some shopping. Oh yeah, and especially shade.

I think we were fully cooked.

After our little saunter along the boardwalk (which was much cooler), we decided to head out and grab dinner. Years before we met, unbeknownst to either us, both of us were aficionados of Brown’s Lobster Pound in nearby Seabrook, NH. We both had gone there since we were kids. It was nice to discover we had that in common when we met, and have been there every time we went through the area. We always get steamers (steamed clams) and lobsters. It’s a BYOB place, so we grabbed a few adult beverages and grabbed a nice spot on the picnic tables inside and waited for our orders.

LOVE THIS PLACE!
The place does a LOT of business – here is the outside takeout line for fried food.
Always good to park at low tide…
The causeway by the restaurant – soon in a future post you’ll see how it inspired my Aztec causeway colors – but not now! LET’S SEE FOOD!
Start with steamers…
End with a couple of 2 pounders!

That was a fun day. The rest of the week was rainy, to include the weekend. On the third of July, we managed to gather to celebrate Buck Surdu’s birthday…ok, we did not do that… 😁 – but we did get in a belated Father’s Day for me, a partial belated birthday for Lynn, and a day early Independence Day celebration. I got some cool gifts and cards! As it was my second Father’s Day celebration without my Dad, it felt better, especially with family.

Me, my Mom, my daughter Ellen, my wife Lynn, and the cute little one (no, besides me) is my granddaughter Tabitha who is four and a half now.

A week later Lynn and I were again having seafood withdrawals, so we hit a favorite place of ours, Red Crab Juicy Seafood in Worcester, MA (just 10 miles away). It specializes in Cajun seafood.

What a menu! And you can order every special on any day!
Spicy hot seafood, a gorgeous wife, and a Corona!

Ok, enough about food. We have been working on replacing our garage since before the pandemic. It looks like a Dr. Seuss house, only less useful. The previous owner of our house had won the Massachusetts State Lottery back in the 1970’s when it was a $50,000 drawing once a week (now it’s made up of dozens of games and much bigger payouts). He’s long dead now. In any case, my understanding is that with his winnings he bought a new car, one that was too big for his garage. The easy fix for him was to cut off the end of the garage, cut the stringers on the left side, and use scab lumber to extend the garage in both directions. As you will see from the photos below, while his fix lasted his lifetime, it was not going to rival the pyramids.

The garage as seen from our house’s 2nd floor. If you look closely you can see the roof’s deviation at the back where the extension was done. I have spent a lot of effort with a roof rake over many winters trying to keep the roof from succumbing to the weight of snow on this bad roof. Our septic leach field is under the grass and goes right up to the driveway – so a two car garage replacement was not practical.
The electric door still works – but barely. The door itself was shaped to the ground underneath instead of making the ground level. The door panels are particle board and warped due to exposure to moisture. This project will also encompass replacing the driveway, and installing a second floor and deck on the new building. We are also replacing the current deck we have now attached to the back of our house.
Door on side rotting away.
Roof and stringers rotting away.
Here you can see the warped door panels and the siding barely hanging on (I nailed it back on after a winter blizzard nearly took it all off).
The inside is totally NOT critter-proof, and structurally suspect. We have not stored a car in here for years – it’s been a shed basically. Mice did significant damage (>$800) to one of our cars in it, and after that no more was it a true garage for us.
It is a mess. We just emptied it out as the demolition starts soon.
The structure is put together somewhat haphazardly – and again it is a critter home.
The extended area with recycled lumber is shown here – and somehow there is no ridge pole – unless you count that thin piece of plywood masquerading as one.
Structurally, the left side is supported by a huge beam (approximately 7″ x 5″), which supports the weight of the left roof extension as the stringers were cut and sort of renailed together. All that weight rests on a pair of 2″ x 4″s – set in…I think the ground. I can’t see any proof of a footer at all. Again, not built to any code I ever read about.
The other end of the beam is supported by a 2″ x 6″, that also has the wiring coming in from underground…somewhere…probably under the driveway.

Now our good friend IRO is converting a carport into a shed using recycled materials, and is doing a FAR better job than was done with this monstrosity. In any case, it needs to go. We knew we wanted to do something extra here as we wanted some entertainment space and a deck to overlook the pond in back. Before the pandemic, we hired an architect, Lasse Aspelin, to design us a new garage with a second floor and a 16′ x 16′ deck, plus a new deck for the back of the house. We now have cleared the Town’s Conservation Commission, Building Inspector, and Zoning Board of Appeals (not going to bore you but that took a long time – over a year), and demolition starts this week. Here is what we are going to build:

Garage front.

Side view
Deck detail
Second story room
The garage interior. The new building will have all utilities, to include gas, water, and a mini-kitchenette and a bathroom on the second floor – perfect for entertaining.
The new house deck as will be seen from the garage deck.

It’s a big project, but one that will allow us to fully benefit from our home and property for years to come. Plus, now at least one car can come out of the snow in winter! We have hired Ready Installs of Shrewsbury, MA to do the project – and they are working with subcontractors like Andre Cormier of Cormier & Sons out of Fiskdale, MA.

News Flash!! As I write this post, Andre showed up with the excavator and we are excited! He even might let me take the first whack! Have some preliminary silt protection (for the pond) installed and the power cut to the building, but we are that much closer to starting!

The cavalry has arrived – or at least Andre and his excavator!
As stated in Blade Runner, for the old garage, “Time to Die”.

Golf

I play golf at least two-three times a week. 18 holes on Tuesday in a scramble format on Tuesdays, 9 holes of medal play on Thursdays, and 18 competitive holes of some type on the weekend either in the club sweeps or a tournament. I have taken a couple of lessons this year and am making some swing changes which is not an easy process. I have also been hitting range balls at least once a week.

In May, I got fitted for new clubs (my last new set was 10 years ago). I got on the launch monitor and was fitted for Ping G425 MAX driver, 3 wood, and 3,4, and 5 hybrids. For irons, Ping 710’s. Basically, I’m brand loyal to Ping. More on that in a bit.

I played in two tournaments – one was a scramble in the monthly “Tour of the Brookfields” on June 19th. I did not lead my team to victory, as we ended up only -4 (67) and 63 won our flight. It was another rainy and cold day too, so a tough scoring day.

The final scores – my team was in the Palmer flight on the far right at 67.

On July 1st, I got good news and bad news on my new clubs. The good news is that the G425’s finally arrived. The bad news was that the irons would take until mid-August – remember they were ordered in MAY!!

These new sticks were available for the second tournament, the Member-Member at Quail Hollow in Oakham, MA on July 11th. I played with Dan Befford as a partner. I shot a 96 (net 79) so I felt like I could have done better, but the new clubs were a help. We did not win anything, but we did have a good time.

Miniatures

Some of you are saying YES, finally!

Again, I have been working on my Tenochtitlan cityscape components over this timeframe. They will be my entry into Dave’s “Season of Scenery” painting and modeling challenge – but I did get a few things done in June miniature-wise that would not count towards it.

I decided that based on my last post, where I showed the raid scenario I ran at the Mass Pikemen, that I needed a few things made. Both were fairly easy. The first was a cornfield that could provide some nice tabletop scenery as well as potential Aztec cover. Inspired by Chris Rett’s creation, I stole his HO scale cornfield idea and built one for myself.

The JTT Creations corn stalks – I had two boxes of 28 so 56 in total.
I decided to have a blank row between the rows of corn to allow the figures to be place in the field. I used 6″ popsicle sticks and marked 7 holes equally spaced on each for 1/16″ drilling with my Dremel (after painting).
Used Vallejo texture paint and some others to highlight and shade the sticks, then drilled and glued the cornstalks.
Finished cornfield! This is the 15 row configuration with spacers.
I could also leave one space out and do 7 sticks x 2 as you see here.

I also wanted a few magnets for affixing to my steel figure bases in games of Feudal Patrol using my Civilizations Collide supplement for the Spanish Conquest. These would be for situations such as loading the falconet, figures losing a shield or a weapon, or just getting away from the leader for any reason (see below).

The magnets I have for my games clockwise from the upper left: figure that is captured and being dragged off, “READY” and “AIM” for falconet prep to firing, “UNARMED” for a figure that drops a weapon or has it broken, “OUT OF COMMAND” for an individual figure that has strayed too far from its leader, “NO SHIELD” for when a figure has a broken shield, and “WEAPON MALFUNCTION” for a sling, bow, crossbow, or arquebus that has a repairable issue.

On June 26th, I took that game (replete with my new magnets and the cornfield)on the road to Great Stories in Uxbridge, MA. There, I reran my rural “Surprise Raid on Outpost” scenario again.

We had 5 players, and the randomness of the setup put the Tlaxcalan archers on the left flank of the defenders. The Aztecs had better luck this time but still fell short of victory due to their incurring excess casualties. You can see a lot of the pictures of the battle here and here (I was too busy as GM to take more than the one’s below):

The raid begins. Even Chris Rett and Mike Paine and Ted Salonich got in the action!
Ryan is happy (his Tlaxcalans did a lot of damage), While Chris is waiting to unpin her Conquistadores – which eventually happened.
Aztecs full of arrows…
The sole Aztec to survive the trek to try to get into melee with the bow-wielding Tlaxcalans!

As a result of this game, I will be adjusting the victory points and making some “BERSERKER” markers.

I offered a raffle prize from my stash and Ryan won it. I wanted it to have a good home.

There was also a store raffle, and I won – and got my grandaughter the Minnie below!

After the game, Minnie for Tabitha!

Lastly, on the miniatures front, I was happy to see a couple of my ideas and posts shared! One was a What a Tanker game shout out (in English) from Naval Gazing, and one was a French post from Small Maya that was dedicated to this blog! Check out these posts! Very nice and thank you!!

As I wrote, as my cityscape is finished, I will start posting about it!

Other Distractions

Ok, I did not know where to put this, but “Other Distractions” seemed to be about right.

I walk a lot for exercise – especially if not a golf day. One of my favorite hats has been a gray “Aussie Chiller” hat that works well for a sunny walk or golf. On a windy day, because it’s one size too big, it can fly off my head in a stiff breeze. I’ve had the hat for several years.

Two days ago, a Sunday golf tournament I was to play in had to be canceled because the course was too wet – we’ve had nearly 5 inches of rain in July and 1.7″ came Saturday night. The weather broke, and I went for a walk with my Aussie Chiller on as the wind was low.

However, during my 5-mile walk, a dump truck drove by and the breeze it made took off my hat perfectly like a frisbee. Unfortunately – this happened as I was walking over the spillway for Lake Lashaway. Helplessly, I watched it land in the torrential spillway’s dead center, never to be seen again.

RIP Aussie Chiller hat.

The watery spillway grave of my Aussie Chiller hat.

I did order another one, but as you can see, they are NOT cheap.

Oh well, until next time dear reader – I now have a month of followed blogs to read!!!

But, as always, let me know what you thought of this post! Happy Summer! (OK Happy Winter Aussies!)

2020 Hobby, Gaming, and Blogging Roundup

2020 was – HOPEFULLY – a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As we all did, I had highs and lows on the personal side of life, the hobby side of life, and the golf side and others.

First, my deep thanks for all of you who regularly follow this blog and share your feedback with me. My thanks also to those whose blogs I follow. Your work inspires me.

As readers of this blog know, I am currently knee-deep in finishing up my forces for Feudal PatrolTM games. But I did set some goals back in January 2020 – so here I’d like to examine and share how I did – or did not do – versus those benchmarks, how my production was in 2020, how the blog did, and my personal highs and lows. I’ll also set some 2021 goals for myself. This is really to hold myself accountable here – and please know I’m open to any and all feedback.

How did I do versus my 2020 goals?

These are the goals I set for myself and how I did:

Games:

  1. Run convention games at TotalCon, HAVOC, HUZZAH, BARRAGE, and the Fort Devens Game Day (and a few more maybe)

I did get to run four games (at the time it felt like too many) at TotalCon before the pandemic hit – two were Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games – “Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts” and Attack of the Warbots with my mostly OOP collections from Archive Miniatures, Mega Miniatures, War Games Supply Dump (and my own creations).  The other two were scenarios for What a Tanker© that I have created and discussed previously in this blog: Battle of France May-June 1940 and Normandy Breakout!. I also ran one Aztec game virtually for Feudal PatrolTM using my “Civilizations Collide” supplement. The rest of the conventions never had a chance.

2. Grow the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club with new members and new GM’s

We had two gaming sessions before the pandemic – and we did add more members.

3. Support the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge 

Well, that only happened until the pandemic.

Models

  1. Build a suitable force of French and German tanks for the Battle of France scenario for 80th anniversary of this event.

I did accomplish this but did not get to run anything for the 80th in May-June. I did get to run the game at TotalCon.

2. Build 2 or more new platoons for retro sci-fi games of Combat PatrolTM

Did not happen.

3. Start the Nomonhan project (or Khalkhin Gol).

Did not happen – but will eventually.

Other:

  1. Complete a supplement for Feudal PatrolTM for Mesoamerican warfare (Aztecs, etc).

Yes – this was a big part of my February and March. Civilizations Collide was published on the Sally 4th website and Buck Surdu’s website as free downloads. This is the accomplishment in 2020 of which I am most proud.

2. Be productive, but never sacrifice quality

Well, you dear reader can be the judge of that. I did paint 181 figures this year versus 153 in 2019. My project total was only 403 versus 775 in 2019, but I did a lot of scratch-building numerous game aids (410 to be exact while I only did 146 in 2020), so my production was different. Still, almost 181 figures is a lot!

My 2020 production summary.

3. Grow the blog and find new ones to follow!

I definitely did both of these. As for the blog, it grew by about 12% in terms of views and visitors, and my followers are up too. My posts were fewer by five – so that is something I need to work on.

4. Entertain my audience!

I think so – again – you are the judge of this, not me!

Golf

  1. Get my handicap below 14 (if I have enough non-gaming time!)

I did not achieve this. As my golf summary page shows, I only got down to 17.4. I was able to achieve a personal goal in that I got my first eagle in June!

Personal Highs for 2020

  1. Serving my Town (East Brookfield, MA) as the elected Board of Health Chairman during the pandemic. Duty called.
  2. Getting my supplement for Feudal PatrolTM published, Civilizations Collide.
  3. Seeing my Mark 1 Sphere Tank brilliantly displayed (just yesterday!) on IRO’s blog.
  4. Getting the eagle.
  5. Getting interviewed on the Imperial Rebel Ork podcast.

Personal Lows for 2020

  1. Losing my Dad in February. This was one month before the pandemic really hit, so at least he did not die alone. Miss him terribly.
  2. COVID-19 Pandemic, aka the China Virus. ’nuff said.

My goals for 2021

Well, its time to set my goals for 2021.

  1. Paint 250 figures or more.
  2. Complete the figures and terrain for Civilizations Collide.
  3. Complete my figures for Wars of Ozz, ok at least 40 of them.
  4. Paint up a platoon from Wargames Supply Dump for Combat Patrol™ .
  5. Attend and run games at conventions or club nights or both, if possible – to include Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games, What a Tanker©  Battle of France May-June 1940, and Aztec games (live or virtually) for Feudal PatrolTM using my “Civilizations Collide” supplement.
  6. Get my golf handicap down below 15.
  7. Play golf (in season) at least twice a week.
  8. Make between 30 and 36 blog posts of value and quality.
  9. Get back on the Imperial Rebel Ork podcast.
  10. Build a new garage. Well, pay someone to do that.

Again, thanks to all who make the time to read this blog – Happy New Year!

Lastly, here follows a detailed list of the 2020 production!

A list of my 2020 production

I do keep a running tally of my production:

2020 Total Miniatures & Projects to Date: 403

  • 181 figures painted
  • 0 figures cast
  • 58 figures assembled
  • 0 terrain pieces made or assembled
  • 15 terrain pieces painted
  • 3 figure conversions
  • 0 creation or component sculpted or scratch-built
  • 0 molds made
  • 146 game pieces/game aids made and/or painted

January: 34 projects

  • Figures painted (9):
    • 9 French tanks/armored cars painted for What a Tanker© for France 1940
      • 3 AMC 35 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory (#CD606)
      • 1 Char D1/D2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FFV10)
      • 1 FT-17 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP252)
      • 1 Panhard 178 armored car (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP25)
      • 2 Panhard 178 armored car (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FAC01)
      • 1 R40 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FFV13)
  • Figures assembled (14):
    • 3 French tanks/armored cars assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 2 Panhard 178 armored car (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FAC01)
      • 1 R40 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FFV13)
    • 11 German tanks/armored cars assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 2 Panzer 35(t) tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#GFV28)
      • 2 Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) armored cars (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#GE320)
      • 2 Panzer 38(t) tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#GE022)
      • 5 Panzer IV tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Zvezda (via The Plastic Soldier Company (#6151)
        • 3 built as Panzer IVB
        • 2 built as Panzer IVD
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (11):
    • 11 dashboards built for French 1940 tanks in What a Tanker© games
      • 2 Panzer IVA dashboards
      • 3 AMC 35 dashboards
      • 1 Char D2 dashboard
      • 1 FT-17 tank dashboard
      • 3 Panhard 178 armored car dashboards
      • 1 R40 tank dashboard
    • 6 unit data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards updated for my Mark 1 Sphere tanks use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 34 casualty cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games

February: 126 projects

  • Figures painted (11):
    • 11 German tanks painted for What a Tanker© for France 1940
      • 2 Panzer 35(t) tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#GFV28)
      • 2 Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) armored cars (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#GE320)
      • 2 Panzer 38(t) tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#GE022)
      • 5 Panzer IV tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Zvezda (via The Plastic Soldier Company (#6151)
        • 3 built as Panzer IVB
        • 2 built as Panzer IVD
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (115):
    • 11 dashboards built for German 1940 tanks in What a Tanker© games
      • 2 Panzer 35(t) tank dashboards
      • 2 Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) armored car dashboards
      • 2 Panzer 38(t) tank dashboards
      • 3 Panzer IVB dashboards
      • 2 Panzer IVD dashboards
    • 104 “Bonus Attack Cards” built for What a Tanker© games
      • 50 German cards
        • 16 Infantry Assault cards
        • 6 37 mm anti-tank gun cards
        • 3 88 mm anti-tank gun cards
        • 7 Artillery HE Support cards
        • 10 Air Support cards
        • 3 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
        • 2 Radio problem cards
        • 2 Quick Repair cards
        • 1 Heinz Guderian Arrives! card
      • 54 French cards
        • 20 Infantry Assault cards
        • 7 25 mm anti-tank gun cards
        • 4 47 mm anti-tank gun cards
        • 10 Artillery HE Support cards
        • 4 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
        • 2 Radio problem cards
        • 2 Quick Repair cards
        • 1 Charles de Gaulle Arrives! card

March: 0 projects

I did a lot of research in March and wrote Civilizations Collide, a supplement for the upcoming Feudal Patrol™ card-based wargaming system from Buck Surdu.  The supplement covers the Spanish Conquest, to include the Conquistadores, the Aztecs of the Triple Alliance, Aztecs of the Aztec-Chichimec Alliance, the Maya, and the Inca.  I cannot quantitate this as a hobby project, but it certainly was one!

April: 19 projects

May: 36 projects

June: 2 projects

  • Figures converted (2):

July: 21 projects

  • Figures painted (21):
    • 3 Aztec Veteran Warrior figures painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Wargames Foundry (#AZ012 Heroes of Tenochtitlan)
    • 2 Aztec Jaguar Warrior figures painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Wargames Foundry (#AZ012 Heroes of Tenochtitlan)
    • 1 Aztec Warrior Priest figure painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Wargames Foundry (#AZ012 Heroes of Tenochtitlan)
    • 7 Aztec Jaguar Warrior figures painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Wargames Foundry (#AZ015 Chimalpopoca’s Jaguar Warriors)
    • 8 Aztec Jaguar Warrior figures painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#AZ5 Jaguar Warriors)

August: 6 projects

  • Figures painted (3):
    • 2 Aztec Command figures painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#AZG001 General as Snake Woman Priestess w/Drummer)
      • 1 Snake Woman General
      • 1 Drummer
    • 1 Folder Bot 3000 figure painted for Combat Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Armorcast Terraform Terrain Ltd (#Folder Bot 3000)
  • Figures assembled (3):
    • 2 Aztec Command figures assembled for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#AZG001 General as Snake Woman Priestess w/Drummer)
      • 1 Snake Woman General
      • 1 Drummer
    • 1 Folder Bot 3000 figure (aka Bender) assembled for Combat Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Armorcast Terraform Terrain Ltd (#Folder Bot 3000)

September: 28 projects

  • Figures painted (8):
    • 8 Tlaxcalan Archers painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TX4 Tlaxcalan Archers)
  • Game pieces made (20):
    • 20 Skull tokens assembled for Feudal Patrol™

October: 89 projects

  • Figures painted (42):
    • 8 Tlaxcalan Novice Warriors painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TX2 Tlaxcalan Novices in Padded Vests)
    • 8 Tlaxcalan Elite Warriors painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TX3b Elite Warriors in Feather Costume)
    • 1 Tlaxcalan Captain painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TXC01 Tlaxcalan Captain with Conch Blower)
    • 1 Tlaxcalan Conch Blower painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TXC01 Tlaxcalan Captain with Conch Blower)
    • 6 Aztec Warrior Priests painted as Tlaxcalans for Feudal Patrol™ (25mm scale), from Ral Partha’s 1200 A.D. line, circa 1988 (#42-302 Aztec Warrior Priests)
    • 18 Aztec Novice Warriors painted for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Wargames Foundry  Aztecs line (12 from 2 blisters of #AZ016 Novice Aztec Warriors I, 6 from 1 blister of #AZ028 Novice Aztec Warriors III).
  • Figures assembled (32):
    • 8 Tlaxcalan Novice Warriors assembled for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TX2 Tlaxcalan Novices in Padded Vests)
    • 8 Tlaxcalan Elite Warriors assembled for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TX3b Elite Warriors in Feather Costume)
    • 1 Tlaxcalan Captain assembled for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TXC01 Tlaxcalan Captain with Conch Blower)
    • 1 Tlaxcalan Conch Blower assembled for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Outpost Wargames Services (#TXC01 Tlaxcalan Captain with Conch Blower)
    • 6 Aztec Warrior Priests assembled as Tlaxcalans for Feudal Patrol™ (25mm scale), from Ral Partha’s 1200 A.D. line, circa 1988 (#42-302 Aztec Warrior Priests)
    • 8 Aztec Novice Warriors assembled for Feudal Patrol™ (28mm scale), from Wargames Foundry  Aztecs line (6 from 2 blisters of #AZ016 Novice Aztec Warriors I, 2  from 1 blister of #AZ028 Novice Aztec Warriors III).
  • Terrain pieces painted (15):
    • 15 cacti/desert bushes painted, weathered, and flocked (from JTT Scenery Products SKU #441980)

November: 24 projects

December: 18 projects

An Eagle Has Landed…On My Scorecard!!

Well, yes – a golf post for a change  (this blog is titled Life, Golf, Miniatures & Other Distractions after all)!

Please note that normally I would not just post a mundane golf story about myself.  So, apologies in advance if I seem to be a bit self-focused here.  I would not want to be too narcissistic, but some background for the reader may help.

I have been playing golf, mostly as a hacker, since I was 12.   My late grandfather (who drove an M24 tank in WWII and was a hero of mine) got me started.  He was absolutely terrible – he would be lucky to break 110 or even 120 for 18 holes.  He did imbue me with a love of the greatest game – and I carry that with me to this day.  I still have golf balls of his that I carry in my bag to honor his gift to me.

In the Army, I played when I could, and even joined clubs at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, at Ft. Belvoir, VA, and even the Canadian Forces course at Lahr in Germany.  That Canadian course was fun as for one you had CF-18 fighters zooming overhead (quite low) and secondly it was the only place to be able to get Canadian beer like Labatts (the Germans would not allow it to be sold and the US had only American and German beer for sale at the Class VI store).  I left the Army in 1992, and I did not play very often until 1998.

At that point I had moved to East Brookfield, MA, and was happy to discover that there was a golf course 0.3 miles away!  The first tee was closer to my house than it was to the first green!  That was Bay Path Golf Course – and I was a member there for 21 years.  I was playing nearly 70 rounds a year (mostly at Bay Path), which is a lot when you consider that our Massachusetts weather is only good for golf from April to October for the most part.  I kept a spreadsheet of all my scores, just to track progress and focus on improving. One goal eluded me, that being getting an eagle.

For those of you non-golfers, an eagle (not to be confused with my Eagle Warriors) is a score that is two shots under par.  On a par three, it would be a hole-in-one.  On a par 4, it would be a 2, etc.  At Bay Path, it became a running joke that I had not gotten an eagle, even just from luck.  I came close several times, only to be denied.  I even hosted a pool for charity where members could bet whether I would get an eagle that year or not.  Most all bet “not” by the way.  Last year, Bay Path closed (sadly), forcing me to join a new club, Quail Hollow in Oakham, MA. It’s about a 15 minute drive from home.  It’s a nice club, but a much more difficult course than Bay Path.

According to my spreadsheet, by last Tuesday, June 9th, 2020, I had taken 115,136 plus strokes since 1999 with never an eagle.  That equates to 1,293 rounds – not including any scrambles by the way,  So effectively, that’s about 5,172 hours of golf – or 215.5 days of golf!  Many birdies, but no eagles!

stats (2)
Data as of the morning of 6/9/2020

Even more sadly, play was delayed here because of COVID-19.  So while normally I would try to play in March or April, I did not get to play or even practice until late May.  My game does not rely on any real talent – it’s based on hard work and practice.  I also track my golf progress here for myself on the blog (see the main menu as well).  So I had little expectations about early play and knocking off any rust.

There is a group that plays on Tuesdays at Quail that I joined up with called “Pit’s Crew” after the guy that runs it, Pit Caron.  We play a 4-man scramble.  On June 9th, we approached the 3rd hole, a par-4, 249 yard hole.  I was the “B” player, and drove my ball right next to the green on the left fringe – maybe three feet off of it.  For me this was a very good result as the fairway is quite narrow and the green is guarded by a deep bunker in the front.  I then used my 56 degree wedge and chipped my second shot – it went up, up – it rolled – and plunk, it dropped in nicely!

EAGLE!!!!!

I was happy that one of my teammates was a fellow former Bay Path golfer, Jim Kularski, who was our “A” man.  It was gratifying that he got to see me accomplish something that he knew well that I had been trying to get for so very long.  I also had on lucky golf gear from my West Point reunion last year.  While it was a scramble, I played the same ball (a found Titleist Pro-V1 that I was using so as not to lose one of my preferred Titleist ProV1X’s), from the same position, so I am counting the eagle as having been my first.  After all, at this pace, my next one will be in 2060 when I am 98…

Oh yeah, we also came in first place out of 18 teams.

So here’s some pics (thanks to Jim Kularski for the pictures – again, more to commemorate than to brag – but like I always say – it ain’t braggin’ if ya do it!

1 Eagle in!
IT’S IN THE HOLE FOR AN EAGLE 2!  (note the mask too!)  I am holding my putter along with my wedge – no need for the putter on that hole that day!

2 Get the Eagle ball!
Get that ball for safekeeping!

3 Get the Eagle ball!
I was sooooo happy to pull this ball from the hole!  And nice Army hat huh?

4 it's a 2!
It’s a two!

5 HAPPY!
Unfortunately I could NOT stop smiling for days!

Thanks for indulging me by looking!

Views From My Windows – Sort of…

Greetings from the Massachusetts lock down!  I hope all of you are safe and that soon life will be returning back to normal for us all.  If you have lost a loved one, a friend, or a job, or just been stressed out, my thoughts and prayers with all of you.  This will eventually pass.

I have not been doing much on the blogging front except trying to keep up with others’ posts.  At the beginning of April, the projections for death in the US were for 100,000 to 200,000 if we were lucky and did everything correctly in terms of mitigation.  Frankly, that floored me and I went into a bit of a focus on the news, keeping up with my family (Mom and daughter/granddaughter).  My Mom is on her own, and I worry about her.  My daughter lives nearby and has taken walks with our 3 year-old granddaughter so we have gotten at least to see them.  It kills us not to hug them both, but as my daughter works in a cancer radiation treatment clinic at a hospital in Worcester, we have painfully practiced “social distancing” during these brief but welcome visits.  Of course there is communication via phone and Facetime, but it’s not the same.

The death toll has been mercifully less, but still very bad.  Here in the US, as of this writing there have been over 48,000 US deaths, and approaching a million cases.  In Massachusetts the surge/peak is coming up – and we have had 42,000 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths.  I know that all of you are dealing with this and it’s horrible.  I have some strong opinions on this, but I don’t want to get too political on my blog.  My thoughts could be summarized by the article here.

My wife has been home on paid leave, but who know what will happen on this front.  I have still been looking for a job, but with millions of Americans out of work and the understandable difficulties with interviewing – I have been staying home.  I did fly to Virginia on March 9-10 for a face-to-face interview – which was an eerie experience.  By the end of the week, everything was shutting down and we were in lockdown.  And then the job did not come through.

Needless to say, tabletop wargaming is at a halt – and golf is impossible as all the courses are closed as nonessential.

I kept busy researching and working on a supplement for Buck Surdu’s upcoming game of Feudal Patrol™ – basically a new game similar to his Combat Patrol™ WWII card-based gaming system.  It will cover the pike and shot era and earlier.  My project was based on the Spanish Conquest of the 15th Century – so Aztecs, Maya, Inca, Tlaxcalans, Mixtec/Zapotecs, and of course Conquistadores.  This has been on my “bucket list” – and I will share some more of that in future posts – but it did consume a lot of time (which I had to spare).  I started painting Aztecs as well – but more on that later as well.

By the way, Buck redesigned his website – and it is an incredible free resource for unit organization and equipment for WWII.  Here is an example.

Also, besides watching the news and the business channel, I watched TV, played cards (a rummy type game) with my wife, and did the grocery and pharmacy shopping.  Thankfully I have a respirator that I use when I airbrush – so I wore that on these infrequent trips out of the house.  It reminded me of my Army days with the old M17 gas mask.

I have a treadmill, and that helps with exercise too.

Earlier this month maenoferren22 at Bogenwald posted a challenge to share the view out the front window.  I’ve enjoyed looking at others – so I thought I’d join in.  It took a bit longer for me to get involved – as we are in early spring and it’s been cold and rainy.  So. here’s some shots of my East Brookfield, MA home from inside and outside.

View 1 looking at porch
The front of our home – daffodils are out and grass is just turning green.

View 1 porch
A look from the front porch towards our church across the street (St. John the Baptist).  We last were able to attend on March 15th – and since then (including Easter) – we have watched the Bishop of Worcester’s Masses on TV.

View 2 house
The other side of the house.  It’s a “Dutch Colonial” and probably dates to the 1930’s or 1940’s.

View 3 house
Right side of the house.

View 4 house pond
The backyard – my garage (which is not great) on the right.  The pond in the back has a nice view – and a lousy name “Mud Pond”.  There is a beaver lodge in it – and I have seen many Great Blue Herons hunting here.  I have seen a bald eagle as well, and many hawks and falcons.  There are raccoons, bobcats, snakes, turtles, and bears as well.

View 5 pond
A little closer view of the yard and pond.

View 6 house
A reverse view from the pond towards the house.

View 7 porch
View from the back porch.

View 8 upstairs window
The view from the upstairs bathroom window.

That’s it.  Oh yeah, I do also listen to a couple of podcasts.  Many of you know IRO (imperialrebelork).  Along with his buddy Big Waz in Australia – he has The Fly on The Wall Podcast.  He also just started a nice hobby podcast named, Imperial Rebel Ork podcast.  I enjoy both – and TFOTW has been around a year now.  Helps to get over the pandemic a little bit.

Here is my little promotion pic, with my Australian-descended friend, Caesar (who is 26 years old now).

FOTW me and Caesar

Stay safe and more to come, I’m back!

2019 Hobby, Gaming, and Blogging Roundup

2019 was a bigger year for this blog and my gaming and hobby activities.  I was able to run several games of Combat Patrol™  and What a Tanker© at HAVOC, BARRAGE, the Fort Devens Games Day, The Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge, and monthly sessions of the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  I managed to get an award at HAVOC – and attend HUZZAH for the first time in Maine.  It was a busy gaming year.  

Always happy to get this type of recognition!

In support of all these activities, of course I had a number of projects in terms of assembling, painting, and creating. I documented these here. Being an analytical type of guy I kept a spreadsheet of my hobby activities (below) and listed them on a page of this blog with links (also below).

My hobby activities tracker

The entire list and links are at the end of this blog which will refer to each project. These links are very useful to me in reviewing previous projects as to what paints I used, what techniques, etc.

The building and painting of tanks and support materials made up the largest part of my 775 project activities in 2019 (106 tanks I believe – 43 German, 23 UK, 18 US, 15 Italian, and 7 French), and the remainder were models for retro sci-fi games (around 50 or so).

The blog itself grew by a lot, and I was very pleased about that. In 2019, there were 20,965 views (versus 13,743 in 2018) by 13,819 visitors (versus 8,295 in 2018). I managed to get in 36 posts, 3 more than in 2018. I must say a huge thanks to all of my readers and followers of my blog!  I especially appreciate all of you (and you know who you are) – who took the time to give me feedback – it was great to hear all of your perspectives. THANK YOU!

So what’s next for 2020? My goals are always changeable (hell, its a hobby right), but here is my current list:

  • Games:
    • Run convention games at TotalCon, HAVOC, HUZZAH, BARRAGE, and the Fort Devens Game Day (and a few more maybe)
    • Grow the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club with new members and new GM’s
    • Support the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge 
  • Models:
    • Build a suitable force of French and German tanks for the Battle of France scenario for 80th anniversary of this event
    • Build 2 or more new platoons for retro sci-fi games of Combat Patrol
    • Start the Nomonhan project
  • Other:
    • Complete a supplement for Feudal Patrol for Mesoamerican warfare (Aztecs, etc)
    • Be productive, but never sacrifice quality
    • Grow the blog and find new ones to follow!
    • Entertain my audience!
  • Golf:
    • Get my handicap below 14 (if I have enough non-gaming time!)

Thanks again for reading this and making my little hobby blog a part of your day!  Here are the massive details of 2019 below:

2019 Total Miniatures & Projects to Date: 775

  • 153 figures painted
  • 57 figures cast
  • 86 figures assembled
  • 28 terrain pieces made or assembled
  • 36 terrain pieces painted
  • 1 figure conversion
  • 2 creation or component sculpted or scratch-built
  • 2 molds made
  • 410 game pieces/game aids made and/or painted

January: 52 projects

  • Figures painted (26):
    • 9 British tanks painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa:
      • 2 A10 Cruiser Mark IIA (Desert) tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR023)
      • 1 A13 Cruiser Mark IVA (Desert) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR026)
      • 1 Valentine II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR060)
      • 1 Valentine III tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR061)
      • 1 Crusader II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR032)
      • 1 Crusader III tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR034)
      • 1 M3 Grant tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR100)
      • 1 Churchill II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR070)
    • 17 German tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa and France 1940:
      • 2 Panzerjager I’s (one for France 1940 and one for North Africa)(15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE100)
      • 3 Panzer IIC’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for France 1940
      • 6 Panzer IIF’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for North Africa
      • 2 Panzer IIIE’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE030) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IIIH (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE031) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042) for North Africa
      • 1 M3 Stuart “Honey” tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR006) –  one captured by the Germans for use in North Africa 
      • 1 Tiger I (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE070) for North Africa
  • Figures assembled (10):
    • 10 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled:
      • 2 Panzerjager I’s (one for France 1940 and one for North Africa)(15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE100)
      • 5 Panzer IIC’s and F’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IIIH (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE031) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042) for North Africa
      • 1 Tiger I (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE070) for North Africa
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (16):
    • 16 dashboards built for What a Tanker© games

February: 71 projects

  • Figures painted (13):
    • 12 Italian tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 1 M14/41 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT040) for North Africa
      • 4 Semovente 47/32 tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT101) for North Africa
      • 1 Semovente Carro Comando M41 75/18 tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT110) for North Africa
      • 1 Semovente 5/18 tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT111) for North Africa
      • 3 M13/40 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Wargame Models in Ohio for North Africa (repainted)
      • 2 L6/40 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Wargame Models in Ohio for North Africa (repainted)
    • 1 German tank painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVD (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) for North Africa
  • Figures assembled (8):
  • Terrain pieces made or assembled (5):
    • 1 German Panzer IVD tank wreck made for North Africa as a terrain piece using a defective tank (15mm/1:100 scale) from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) 
    • 4 smoke/blast markers made
  • Terrain pieces painted (5):
    • 4 smoke/blast markers painted
    • 1 German Panzer IVD tank wreck made for North Africa as a terrain piece using a defective tank (15mm/1:100 scale) from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) 
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (40):

March: 138 projects

  • Figures painted (5):
  • Figures assembled (5):
    •  3 Italian tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 3 M11/39
  • Terrain pieces made or assembled (19):
      • 8 ITC Terrain Series Damaged Urban Barricades assembled
      • 11 smoke/blast markers made
  • Terrain pieces painted (23):
    • 4 berms painted for use with my Wasteland mat
    • 8 ITC Terrain Series Damaged Urban Barricades painted
    • 11 smoke/blast markers painted
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (86):
    • 22 dashboards built for What a Tanker© games
    • 64 “Bonus Attack Cards” built for What a Tanker© games
      • 18 Infantry Assault Cards
      • 12 Combat Engineer Cards
      • 12 Artillery Support Cards
      • 12 Anti-Tank Gun Support Cards
      • 12 Air Support Cards

April: 16 projects

  • Figures assembled (16):
    •  11 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy and the Eastern Front
      • 1 Marder III tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE104) for Normandy
      • 1 Panzer IVE tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE041) for Normandy
      • 5 Panzer IVH tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX121)  (2 for Normandy, 3 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042)  for the Eastern Front
      • 1 Panther tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE060) for Normandy
      • 2 Tiger I tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX107)  (1 for Normandy, 1 for the Eastern Front)
    • 3 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy 
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US003) for Normandy
      • 1 M4A2 Sherman tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US045) for Normandy
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US102) for Normandy
    • 2 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in the ETO
      • 2 M24 Chaffee light tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from some guy on eBay (magnetized turrets and cleaned up model)

May: 25 projects

  • Figures painted (22):
    • 3 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy 
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US003) for Normandy
      • 1 M4A2 Sherman tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US045) for Normandy
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US102) for Normandy
    • 2 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in the ETO
      • 2 M24 Chaffee light tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from some guy on eBay
    • 17 German tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy and the Eastern Front
      • 1 Marder III tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE104) for Normandy
      • 1 Panzer IVE tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE041) for Normandy
      • 5 Panzer IVH tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX121)  (2 for Normandy, 3 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042)  for the Eastern Front
      • 1 Panther tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE060) for Normandy
      • 2 Tiger I tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX107)  (1 for Normandy, 1 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Elefant/Ferdinand tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE132) for Normandy
  • Terrain pieces painted (3):
    • 3 fields painted

June: 190 projects

  • Figures painted (14):
    • 8 German tanks/tank destroyers/armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe and North Africa 
      • 5 German armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe and North Africa
        • 3 SdKfz 231 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031), 2 for North Africa, 1 for Normandy
        • 2 SdKfz 233 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031), both for Normandy
      • 1 Jagdpanther tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z106) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Jagdtiger tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z105) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Tiger II (King Tiger) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z101) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
    • 3 American armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
    • 3 British armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
  • Figures assembled (14):
    • 5 German armored cars assembled for What a Tanker©
      • 2 SdKfz 231 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031)
      • 3 SdKfz 233 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031)
    • 3 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker©
      • 1 Jagdpanther tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z106) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Jagdtiger tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z105) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Tiger II (King Tiger) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z101) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
    • 3 American armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
      • 3 M8 Greyhound armored cars (15mm/1:100 scale), Old Glory/Command Decision (#CD207) bought from Old Glory Miniatures
    • 3 British armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
      • 3 Daimler Dingo (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR310)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (162):

July: 28 projects

  • Figures painted (9):
    • 9 British tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 1 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR041)
      • 5 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX31)
      • 2 M10 Achilles tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111)
      • 1 Churchill IV heavy infantry tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR074)
  • Figures assembled (16):
    • 9 British tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 1 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR041)
      • 5 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX31)
      • 2 M10 Achilles tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111)
      • 1 Churchill IV heavy infantry tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR074)
    • 7 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 5 M4A1 Sherman tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX42) – British Shermans to be used as Americans
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun to be used as an M10 Wolverine
      • 1 M36 Hellcat tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US106)
  • 1 terrain piece painted
  • 1 figure converted
    • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun converted as an M10 Wolverine
  • 1 creations or components sculpted or scratch-built

August: 49 projects

  • Figures painted (7):
    • 7 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 5 M4A1 Sherman tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX42) – British Shermans to be used as Americans
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun to be used as an M10 Wolverine
      • 1 M36 Hellcat tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US106)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (40):
    • 40 tank destroyed/blast markers made for What a Tanker© games
      • 20 brewed up tank burning markers
      • 20 knocked out/disabled tank smoke markers
  • Molds made (2)

September: 72 projects

October: 23 projects

  • Figures painted (5):
    • 5 classic movie monsters painted for Halloween diorama piece
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Dracula” (#01-014) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1976.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “The Mummy” (#01-020) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1976.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Were Wolf” (#01-061) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1979.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Werewolf” (#98-003) from the “The Adventurers” line, circa 1979.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Frankenstein’s Monster” (#98-003) from the “The Adventurers” line, circa 1979.
  • Terrain pieces painted (4):
    • 4 slag mounds on old CD’s.
  • Creations or components sculpted or scratch-built (1):
    • 1 Halloween Diorama
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (13):
    • 11 casualty cards made for “THE MIND AND THE MACRON”
    • 2 unit data cards made for Combat Patrol

November: 7 projects

  • Figures assembled (7):
    • 3 French tanks assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 3 FCM 36 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-608)
    • 4 figures for my Retrovian Platoon
      • 3 “The Bra’sheer” three-legged Retrovian vehicles, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-07)
      • 1 “Garkkon” monster, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-11)

December: 104 projects

  • Figures painted (41):
    • 7 French tanks painted for What a Tanker© for France 1940
    • 34 figures for my Retrovian Platoon
      • 3 “The Bra’sheer” three-legged Retrovian vehicles, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-07)
      • 1 “Garkkon” monster, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-11)
      • 2 “Retrovian Captain” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-50)
      • 3 “Retrovian Trooper Aiming Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-54)
      • 15 “Retrovian Trooper Advancing with Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-55)
      • 4 “Retrovian Sniper with Vision Enhancer & Needle Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-56)
      • 6 “Retrovian Two Man Sonic Cannon Team” figures (6 figures total), 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-58)
  • Figures assembled (10):
    • 10 French tanks/armored cars assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 1 Hotchkiss H35 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#FR020)
      • 2 Hotchkiss H39 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#FR020)
      • 1 Hotchkiss H39 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP33)
      • 3 AMC 35 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory (#CD606)
      • 1 Char D1/D2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FFV10)
      • 1 FT-17 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP252)
      • 1 Panhard 178 armored car (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP25)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (53):
    • 7 dashboards built for French 1940 tanks in What a Tanker© games
      • 3 FCM 36 dashboards
      • 1 H35 dashboard
      • 3 H39 dashboards
    • 6 unit data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards updated for my Mark 1 Sphere tanks use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 34 casualty cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games

 



Remembrances etc. from my 35th West Point Class of ’84 Reunion

This blog has the subtitle Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions.  Mostly it has been focused on hobby stuff- notably miniatures and gaming – and less on the other – and often more important – aspects of Life.  This post will be a bit different for some of you regular readers and I hope that you find it interesting.  As of this writing I am happy to say that this blog has had nearly 25,000 visitors and over 100 followers from dozens of countries.  It’s an enjoyable aspect of my blogging, and I have been able to connect with many like-minded people all over the planet.  Here, I aim to give a limited view into my alma mater and a bit into my own related history.  It’s a personal glimpse to a large extent, and by no means complete, but one I decided to share some thoughts and photos.  Hopefully it’s not overly self-indulgent, but I wanted to write this up.  If you are my classmate, or fellow USMA grad, and reading this, I hope that you get that, and of course GO ARMY!   BEAT NAVY!

Last month I had the privilege of attending my 35th college reunion.

Thirty-five years – wow.

I am a proud member of the United States Military Academy Class of 1984.  Our class motto is “Best of the Corps” – which we chose while just fledgling members of the USMA Corps of Cadets.  That motto certainly did not endear us to the upper classmen from the classes of 1981, 1982, and 1983 at the time.  Some of you may be more familiar with USMA’s more common name – West Point.  We were all commissioned into the US Army in May 1984 as second lieutenants.  Only a handful are still wearing the uniform on active duty.

Regrettably, I had not attended any previous class reunions – something “always came up” with family or work.  Our class of 985 people has now lost 32 brothers and sisters.  Four of the lost are even former roommates of mine, and many more were friends I knew well.  Some of course I only knew from seeing their faces in obituaries.  No matter what, I was never going to see these fallen comrades again, and that really stuck in my craw.  This time, I was determined to attend, honor the fallen, and share some camaraderie with my classmates while it was still possible.  I fervently hope to attend more class events in the future, and hope that we all grow old well.  As for the lost – I also wanted to honor my late classmates by attending the Memorial Service for them.  Below is the program booklet from that service.

1 Page 1 Memorial2 Pages 2-3 Memorial3 Page 4 Memorial

The service was very classy and moving – and those who participated as lectors and speakers (noted above) all did an outstanding job.  I’ll always remember how Craig Bohn sat next to me in the pew and sang “The Corps” and “The Alma Mater” like an angel (really impressive).  On the list of the lost above, many I called friends.  I knew most, and roomed with four – Craig Hogan, Bill Fallon, Troy Overton, and Mike Wooley.  Too soon for all of them, and honoring them was a major motivation for my attendance this year.  God rest their souls.

After the service, which happened on Thursday, we had several activities through the weekend which I will share some shots of as well.

4 Memorial Service F-4
Mark Morin, Bruce Bruno, and Angie Gaston – all company F-4 Frogs – after the Memorial service.

The first reunion event was actually a class golf outing at the West Point Golf Course on Wednesday (the day before the Memorial Service).  I did not want to start with describing it here, as the Memorial Service, in my view, was more important.  I played with Glenn Goldman and Matt Johnson and we had a blast.  I did not play up to my desired level, but hey, we had fun.  I only wish that I had some shots of us playing.  I had not played the course since the early 2000’s – and the hole markers were awesome.  Each described a war/campaign/battle in a lot of detail (especially for a hole marker) and referred to the West Pointers involved.  They covered the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts.  I really liked them and thought I’d share them below.

The Thursday golf was a nice start to the weekend.  Much catching up occurred that night back at the Park Ridge, NJ Marriott – to continue all weekend.  Things started well with a few beers with Tom Eisiminger.  There was certainly a lot of socializing over the weekend – ending up with a class dinner on Friday night, a parade on Saturday, revisiting West Point, and of course an Army football game against Morgan State.  It was great to be among fellow classmates and graduates.

For those who are not USMA grads or classmates, some background.  As a start, I was in company F-4 (company F, 4th Regiment) for my last three years.  I was in C-1 during my plebe (freshman) year.  My yearbook photo was fine – well sort of.  Fellow F-4 Frog Bruce Bruno (from photo above) wrote my blurb underneath.  Only by the time it went to press the girl I was involved with (and had at the time planned to marry) had broken it off!  I also had Aviation branch listed (the wings).  I started after graduation as a helicopter pilot, but decided to leave flight school.  As I had failed a simulator check-ride in instruments, I was told that I’d have no chance to get into Apaches or Blackhawks as a result, only Hueys.  So, I changed branches, became a combat engineer officer, and enjoyed that greatly until I left the Army in 1992.

1 Me back in the day

5 Michie on Friday
At Michie Stadium on Friday after the Memorial Service.  I reported here on July 1st, 1980 and my parents left me in the loving arms of the US Army.  On May 23, 1984, we graduated at on this very field.

16a BOTC Beast squad
My “Beast” (Cadet Basic Training) Squad shot, summer 1980.  We got a ride in a UH-1 Huey which was awesome.  I am in the middle row on the far right.  Standing behind me is Pat Scanlan from Chicago – and we got to catch up a lot at the reunion which was nice.

6 Class Dinner Bruno, Morin, Sgro
Fellow Frogs Bruce Bruno, me, and Jeff Sgro.

7 Class Dinner Ray and Morin
One of the most fun classmates I ever hung out with – Kyle Ray.   Great dude!

8 Parade Cabacungan and Morin
Fellow Frog Gil Cabacungan and me at the parade.

9 Parade Cabacungans (Alec and Gil) and Morin
Gil’s son Alec has raised millions for Shriner’s Hospital for Children – and it was an honor to meet the fine young man.  He has been on TV nationwide for them, and is very inpiring.

10 Parade Line view
The view of The Plain from our place on the parade field.  Third and Fourth Regiments would march by our reviewing position.  The Plain is where we in our class all took our first oath to the Constitution.

You can see multiple pieces of equipment in some of these shots – helicopters, tanks, artillery, and more.  They were there to show the First Class as they decided which branch of the Army they might want to choose to enter after graduation next May.

11 Parade Line view
Third and Fourth Regiments in formation.

12 Parade Line view
A view down our reviewing line.

One of my classmates who has really served the nation well  (and there are many who have) is one hell of an impressive dude.  H.R. McMaster is a retired three-star general, the author of Dereliction of Duty, and formerly President Trump’s National Security Advisor.  We got a chance for a photo together on the Plain after the parade.  Today he’s at Stanford University.

13 HR McMaster and Mark Morin
H.R. McMaster with me…

13a HR McMaster and President Trump
…and H.R. McMaster with his previous boss…

At the parade in the reviewing stand was also the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, USMA Class of 1986.  With him was the current and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, LTG Darryl A. Williams.   He is a member of the USMA Class of 1983, and was in my company F-4.  He was also a very tough football player.  More importantly, he was smart, decent, a true leader, and funny as hell.  He has had a stellar career.  My first semester Firstie (senior) year (1983),  he was assigned to my platoon as he was a December grad – so I was his last platoon leader – and the late Mike Wooley (from above) was with me as roommate and platoon sergeant.  It is very gratifying to see him as Superintendent developing new leaders for the US Army.  He was swamped with people after the parade, but we F-4 folks snuck in for a photo and that was great!

18b F-4 1984 in 2019
Gil Cabacungan, Bruce Bruno, LTG Darryl Williams, Angie Gaston, and me

 

14 LTG Darryl Williams and Mark Morin
A very impressive soldier and me

After the parade, we hit the old officers club for a pre-game tailgate and to change into more suitable game for an Army football game.  Angie Gaston and I took a stroll along the Plain to our old barracks, checked out the equipment, and watched the helicopters take off.

15 Chinook
CH-47

16 Scout, Apache, Blackhawk
Apache’s and Blackhawks – still serving!

17 Helicopters departing and equipment in front of barracks
You can see the aircraft moving away over the barracks and the other equipment on display.

17a Helicopters departingAngie Gaston and I then made a visit to our old home – that being the 43rd, 44th, and 45th Divisions – our old barracks, Scott Barracks, which dates from 1938.  The Divisions are very different from the other barracks.  Think of them as stacked milk cartons  put side-by-side with no connections horizontally (except occasionally on the first floors).  Divisions are thus arranged vertically – with four cadet rooms and a restroom per stacked floor (with 5 or 6 floors per Division) – if fading memory serves.  Again, as opposed to long dormitory hallways there are no horizontal connections between the Divisions.  It was a fun environment, though if you were on the top floor you got a workout going back and forth to class.  A current G-4 cadet was nice enough to take our pictures – and now this is part of G-4 as F-4’s current barracks is located elsewhere.

18 Angie and me in front of 43rd Division
Angie Gaston and I on the 43rd Division landing…

18a F-4 1984
…and our F-4 class 35 years ago.  GO FROGS!  I’m on the the top row second from the left.  Angie Gaston, Bruce Bruno, Gil Cabacungan, and even Darryl Williams are in this shot.  Jim Kelly and Larry Carroll attended the reunion but I did not get pictures of them for this post.  Of note, the late Bill Fallon and Mike Wooley can be seen here too.

19 Angie Gaston and me in front of 43rd Division

20 Morin and M1A2
Those who follow this blog know I love tanks – so here’s a shot of me and an M1A2 in 2019…

20a Morin and M1
…and one of me and an M1 in 1981 in Fort Knox, KY.  I’m happy I went Engineer, but part of me always wishes I’d gone Armor (and that I weighed the same now as here).

21 Artillery
Artillery and movers

21a Artillery
Self-propelled howitzer (155mm)

Then on the way to Michie Stadium, we got some shots of LTG Williams current home!

22 Supe's house

23 Supe's house
Angie Gaston on the front porch avoiding detection.

24 Supe's house
She wanted this shot for our friend Darryl!

The game was a blast – and it was a very warm and sunny day.  Hung out with Pat Scanlan and Kyle Ray – and even got some Steve Kreipe and Shamus Hanlon time in!

25 At the game
And on to Michie Stadium for the game!

26 Army's got this!
Army defeats Morgan State 52-21!

It was a great weekend, and one that I will cherish the memories of for a long time.  We are all getting older and a 35-year gap is frankly way too long between catching up.  That’s on me – I will do better.

Classmates Jack Picciuto and Curt Cozart did an outstanding job in organizing the reunion – and great thanks to them.   Also, a shout out to Steve Epling, Randy Lee, and Meg Gordon who keep us all connected on the world wide web.  Lastly, I want to thank all of my fellow classmates who I got to catch up with and who thankfully retained a memory (mostly good) of me.  I definitely was thrilled to relive memories with you.

As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have in the comments section – thanks for looking!

Until we meet again, GO ARMY!  BEAT NAVY!

 

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