Wednesday, April 28, 2004

More public than I thought

Interesting observation: as I was filling in the application form for Gmail, I came across the bit where they ask you to specify a backup question to ask, in case you forget your password. After 10 minutes of staring blankly at the screen, I came to the conclusion that I have no real secrets.

Almost every question I could think of with a unique and personal answer was also a piece of information which somebody close to me would know. Everything memorable, that would stick in my mind, was also something that someone out there would be able to guess. I went through questions about pets, vague allusions to childhood incidents, memorable events from the past, and odd personal perculiarities - and all of them had a possibility of at least one person I've known before guessing it.

Blogging, combined with the weekly postings of my wargames, has also severely limited the sphere of knowledge that is "secret" and personal to me - in effect, I'm much more public than I thought I was, which is more worrying than I thought it would be ...

Thursday, April 22, 2004

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"

One of the best books I've read recently is Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. A novel that manages to be original rather than merely novel, it has an autistic boy as a narrator. It's hard to describe it really - a sort of dyfunctional bildungsroman mystery detective family drama. It works in a strange quirky sort of way - and the narrator is surprisingly easy to empathise with. It's also short, which is always a plus - definitely a book I'd recommend to anyone to read.

Which reminds me that I'm stuck in the middle of trying to complete several books right now. I'm halfway through Bauldolino by Umberto Eco, still halfway through Thucydides' Peleponnesian War, , and still trying to finish Darwin's Dangerous Idea. I'll need a holiday just to clear my reading backlog ... or not, given my tendency not to finish these things. One day, I'm sure I'll (a) read all the books I own (b) paint all the unpainted lead miniatures I have. When that happens, I don't know, but look out for flying pigs and hell freezing over ...

Catch up time

OK, yet another update-style post after a long fallow period

Just came back from attending a 3 day conference. The conference itself was rather non-descript, ineffectual, and interesting only in spurts (sounds like a description of most people in Singapore). All I can say is that it was a welcome break from the routine of work. Surely someone has done a study of workplace fatigue - the US Army in the Second World War figured out that soldiers could serve in frontline conditions for something like 70-90 days, after which combat efficiency dropped to such low levels that they might as well not be there. Even a week or two off the line could restore a unit to close to starting condition - perhaps a lesson that we could learn in planning work schedules and timetables for ourselves. It seems logical that the higher the intensity of work (or activity in general) the shorter the period that it can be sustained without some sort of break.

On the wargaming front, I've been rushing two projects simultaneously - the first to refurbish my 20mm Persians for the coming grudge match with my old buddy's Carthaginians, and the second to complete my line of scratchbuilt Gear Krieg walkers. I haven't touched my Persian army for more than a year, since I retired them in disgust after a horrendous losing streak in the Warhammer Ancients Battle tournament. Retired is perhaps too gentle a term: they were banished in disgrace to the storeroom, where they suffered in darkness and there was much gnashing of teeth. Having just recalled them from exile, I discovered that keeping plastic miniatures in a dark, dank storeroom for more than a year results in

1. Slimy miniatures. Can't explain why, but something in there - the paint, the glue, whatever - must be hygroscopic, and happily absorbing the humidity in there.
2. Rusted metal - I based most of them with a metal washer underneath, so they could stick to magnetic movement trays. The humidity caused quite a few of them to rust badly.
(I have since reversed my policy: now I base figures with magnasheet underneath, and transport them in metal boxes. It's convenient, secure, and neat ... even if my armies now go to battle in several Girl Guide Cookie boxes).
3. Warped movement trays - I had stuck magnasheet to Games Workshop movement trays with UHU glue. I can now reliably report that UHU glue shrinks when it dries. UHU is now uh-uh as far as I'm concerned.

Besides these, the usual gamut of broken plastic spears, loose shields etc had to be fixed. Over the past two weeks I've been re-basing, re-painting, and generally getting everyone back to battle condition.

My second major project has been the scratch-building of walkers for the Gear Krieg game, and the latest of the new platoon I've been building are up on the Gallery. These are probably the most complex shapes I've tried to build with plasticard - my first attempt at complete scratchbuilding (previously I'd only modified existing kits) was basically a variation on a box, for ease of construction. This current model has sloping slides and odd angles, and I built it with modular side armour, so the same model could be used for North Africa as well as ETO campaigns. I'll post a picture of the forest camouflage (for which I did a ton of research on dazzle camouflage patterns, but more about that later) once I get that done, for comparison.

On the personal front:

I report my continued failure to go jogging in preparation for my IPPT test. I hope there's a very strong tailwind that day ...

Wife and I have been planning our trip to Angkor Wat in June. Nothing confirmed yet, but already have visions of us wandering, explorer style, through romantic ruins and temples. I've been reading and reading, getting the flavour of names like Bantay Srei, Bayon, Angkor Thom, and Bantay Chhmar, adding them to the mental list of Places I Must Go To. Along with the Lara Croft Tombraider Temple, of course.

Real life will probably be more prosaic - peddlers selling you Pepsi in bottles and tourists tramping all over the place most likely, but i shall endeavour to photograph the place as if it were still a pristine archetypal lost-city-in-the-jungle.

Friday, April 02, 2004


Seeing T's quiz result for "Which LOTR Personality Are You?" Quiz reminded me that I once took several of these quizzes, with vastly different results. I didn't have a blog then, but I went back to all of these quizzes, and so, lo and behold, you can call me Gandalfaladrielegolas-Boromerryarwen.

(some of the tests didn't have a link, so they don't appear below)

What LoTR Character Are You?


Legolas Greenleaf

If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Legolas, Elf, a son of the King of Mirkwood.

In the movie, I am played by Orlando Bloom.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

Boromir Test

Which Lord of the Rings Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Congratulations! You're Merry!

Which Lord of the Rings character and personality problem are you?
brought to you by Quizilla



If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Arwen, Elf, the daughter of Elrond.

In the movie, I am played by Liv Tyler.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software