Monday, June 6, 2011

Call me Jack

Up until yesterday you could have changed my name to Jack...all work and no play. And not the good work, either. Yup. I have been working here getting the house ready for photoshoots, tech scouts and go-sees. Before the housing bubble burst, it was easy to do the photoshoot-thing. The house basically sold itself. Now, I have to have all the right things in the right spot at the right time. Essentially, I am catering to personalities and we all know how that works. Well, it must work to a degree. I managed to book to out of the three shoots for June. Then, one cancelled last minute.
The other time consumption has been getting ready for the summer construction. When you have an old house like this with an income and probably should be on one of the historical registers for the area, it comes with a host of extra duties when you want to restore or renovate. Gone are the days of deciding to "do" a job by just finding a General Contractor. Now, I function almost like a GC: meeting screening, reviewing, not to mention crawling around in the bowels of crawl spaces with anyone bidding. Old houses have many secrets and much of them are in the construction. Any contractor or GC who tries to take the job without crawling around in the guts, gets fired before they get hired. Same goes if they won't bid on the job and line item it off plans before they see the place...good thing I paid my way through university as a carpenter because some of the bids are outlandish.
What are the possible projects:
1) upgrade the heating system (cancelled after one well thought of contractor told me I never would heat this house as well or as efficiently without a steam furnace and instead I just needed him to come back in the Fall and fiddle with a few valves to remove the colds spots);
2) retrofit AC (cancelled after one of the more expensive and highly thought of contractors told me it was not worth doing because the house naturally cools if managed and a simple attic fan would alleviate much of the heat bubble; and,
3) Stacey's desired kitchen (it kind of needs it as the 20's era kitchen floor is on its last legs and the 70's era formica is dying) fixes.
The bad thing, I discovered what I feared; I really need to changeover a dirt crawl space to a proper one, so I need to fit that in the budget...I wonder if there is a body under there?
Then the hot tub and the pool have had issues. The pool company never finished the certification, so I have been doing that. While the hot tub has some sort of filtration issue going on. Needless to say, I am learning a lot about permits, certification, code and filtration systems.
And then, summer came early, so various window air-conditioning units had to be installed. I had hoped to take some time on this and customize some better casings for the units. Installation usually comes with a variety of service issues, as I service my own units. I also install with closed cell insulation and silicone sealant. All easy to do but time consuming. Then, I find out my wife loaned out one of the units and her friend moved away. She initially denied it but the unit is missing from its designated storage location...and the kids remember her doing it while I was deployed. Not such a big problem, unless you live in an old house and every unit has a window different from the other and the casing has been constructed specific to the window AND the missing unit belongs to the pre-teen daughter. Well, I spent some time mixing and matching and jury rigging. I have the ABSOLUTELYnecessary units installed for sleeping rooms and I will sort out the others later. The bad news is that many of the units are on their last legs. The hope is they will make one more summer...
So what does all this mean, I have had almost zero gaming or painting time. Night time means flop and sleep. Until yesterday, that is, when I snuck in two games (see earlier post).
The good news, my nephew comes to spend the summer with us very soon. That means I have a co-worker for projects. The even better news is he likes both miniatures and boardgames. He usually chooses SciFi or Fantasy, so we'll see what hits the play list.

Projects worked on:
American Civil War: I have been corresponding with Evil Bob. The primary topic has been having him complete a few more units. I also added some early war stuff to his list: a few specialty units and some command stands to switch out for Bull Run and early war. We also corresponded about coming up with some game markers to get rid of the paper ones I have.
Carlist Wars: The newsgroup has been chatting about creating a Black Powder oriented scenario book for the First Carlist War. That sound's good to me. A scenario was posted for trial. I need to check my completed units against the OOB. It's a small one so I may be able to play it without painting.
French Revolution: There is a new book called Wellington's First Battle that focuses on the early fighting in the low countries. I want to get a look at this one as it might be interesting to move my collection in that direction once I have tired of the Vendee. I also found an adaptation for Black Powder and the Vendee that begs for a try. Now it seems I have three set to play the Vendee: Black Powder for the battles; Batailles de l´Ancien Régime (a variant on Drums of War) for the small Battles and Large skirmishes; and, Songs of Drums and Shakos for the true skirmish.
Lace Wars: There is a new Wargaming in History due out in July and it is restoring the focus to the Seven Year's War instead of the rumored American Civil War. I enjoy these books for their Old School treatment of the genre...hence my large battalions.
Pulp: 7TV sent me some markers and cards that match the style of the rule book. I started reading this one and hope to game it. The system looks like fun.
Pony Wars: My daughter wants to start painting some horses so this period may see some time. She seemed somewhat deflated when we discussed horse colors for the more regular forces of the ACW and SYW. I do have a bunch of Sioux that need painting so perhaps the pintos, palominos and the like may draw her interest. That would be great as I do not enjoy painting horses.
South American Wars of Liberation: I have been looking at possible command stand replacement for some units so they can do double duty or even duty outside the genre. There has also been an interesting thread about adapting Regimental Fire and Fury to the genre. Lastly, I acquired a bunch of gauchos but a few more than I may need of the Gaucho Infernales, so let me know if you want some...I also need to figure out my needs for the regular gauchos and order them.
Trojan War: Hail Caeser came out. I wonder how this will handle something so Hero-intensive...
War in Pacific (1879): I have been chomping at the bit to get some of these guys on the table. It has been over two years since they were used. The catalyst was a Fire and Fury stat card and theater specific rules posted for the Great Paraguayan War which had relevance for the other coast and the fighting in this war. I have also traded a few emails with the Flag Dude about some upgrades. I also have two cavalry units to finish and the force is usable for some skirmishes. I also got about an hour of reading to go through the battles. Interestingly, the period can be gamed using the Fire and Fury (Brigade) and Regimental Fire and Fury rules on a standard table size as most battles are either large or small enough to scale down. Maybe, I need to devote a bit of time here and see what I have completed against the respective OOB's. It might be fun to play a series of historic battles. The big missing item for the war is how to model the Gatling and the Mitralleause in the rules. Does anyone have any ideas or experience here?

Painting and Painters:
I picked up a bunch of used painted Essex ACW cavalry for barely more than the price of the lead. They will need a little bit of work: some touch up, washes, highlights, paint in some dismounted troops and householders and some Flag Dude flags; but 67 completed cavalry is a nice jump start.

Wargames Illustrated, Issue 283: was a Gallipoli themed issue. Themed articles included an overview, a Naval gaming and the Lone Pine battle, Three scenarios and modeling guides. Battlefront included two more article on Vietnam focusing on the Black Horse (11th) Cavalry and the Red Devils (1st Bde, 5th Infantry). Rick Priestley continued the serial article on Wargaming Campaigns Part Two. For medieval gamers there was an article on El Cid with modeling guides, and a scenario. Ancient gamers will enjoy a write up of the Punic Wars in Spain. WW2 and FOW saw a good article on the Romanians which was not just aimed at FOW players. I enjoyed the ACW comparative article on Regimental Fire and Fury versus Fire and Fury. Nice photos from Crusade 2011 were featured. The magazine finished up with an infomercial on a Wargames Holiday Center in Crete--hmmm; how to get Stacey there? "How to Build..." focused on a Saxon Church. Roosevelt's Roughriders enjoyed a short spotlight spread. The Raid on Cimmarron Courthouse was spotlighted for a Legends of the Old West replay. Battlefront highlighted an Early War tournament and a chesterfield, UK club. Good issue lots for the Battlefront/Warhammer Ancient's crowd and lots for the rest.

Wargames Illustrated, Issue No. 284 arrived but has not gotten read. More next time; but here's a coming attraction from the website (

Nothing jumps out other than the demise of Mark Hannam's Dropship Horizon. I have always followed his columns, posts and blogs as his product reviews and game ideas are sterling. It looks like he has moved on to another genre. Too bad. His input on the BLOG will be missed. The BLOG will continue under some other folks who seem to have solid credentials.

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