Napoleonic, WSS & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Hooptedoodle #454 - Clearing Up after Babet [2]

 What hedge?

The boys came back this morning and finished the job in about 90 minutes.

Not a wonderful view, but better than a bombsite. Onward and upward.

Hooptedoodle #453 - Clearing Up after Babet [1]

 This follows from my earlier post about Storm Babet wrecking our hedge in October. I wasn't really expecting them until next month, but I got a phone call from the Tree Men yesterday afternoon to say that they were on a job in a nearby village, and had been obliged to stop work rather earlier than planned, so would it be all right if they came round and made a start?

Well, of course. Some quick opening of gates and shifting of cars and we were ready to go.

The guys didn't have all the gear with them that they might have needed (stump grinder, for one thing), but it didn't matter, since there was not a lot of daylight left, and they were only gong to manage to get some of the work done in any case.

As usual, they were fast - they do not take prisoners - and they were extremely noisy (that gives a little payback to my neighbour who insists on using a chain saw to cut up logs every Sunday morning).

I had wondered how many wagon loads would be needed to shift a 40ft x 12ft hedge 4ft thick. The answer, of course, is not very many. In about an hour, this machine reduced 3/4 of the hedge to a layer of chippings about 8 inches deep in the bottom of the truck. Some racket though. Come on now, if you thought of the movie Fargo, even fleetingly, please go and stand in the corner 

They'll be back within a couple of weeks. I know I have their full attention, since I haven't paid them anything yet. Things are pretty messy, but we are getting there. Having had years of grief from my neighbours about the hedge, it would be ironic if I also got grief for removing it. Whatever, things are moving.

Without wishing to get ahead of the game, I have been looking at possible varieties of evergreen hedges; I have an open mind on the subject, though I have no intention of allowing a Leylandii anywhere on the premises ever again. There are some nice laurels.


Friday 24 November 2023

Hooptedoodle #452 - All they that take the sword

 For the sake of my mental well-being I have been avoiding getting too caught up in the latest adventures of the 45th President of the United States. What I have seen suggests that there is something fundamentally flawed about the Constitution and the legal system, in the sense that it never seems to have occurred to any of the lawmakers over the years that there could ever be anything like the current situation. The courts and the government appear to be powerless to control someone who sets out to be sufficiently bloody-minded; the whole edifice is in thrall to that badly-behaved boy who is prepared to set fire to the classroom, here and now, rather than admit that he hasn't done his homework. The scariest bit is that he derives a lot of strength from the rapt applause which greets all this foolishness.

Spare us the tough face, mate - you're too fat and slow to hurt anyone

It is not particularly astute (or original) to see parallels with German politics in the 1920s-30s. I have been reading (again) about the interwar period in Europe, and one thing that I was struck by (again) was the enormity of the change in public opinion in Germany over a short period. From being a rogue troublemaker, viewed primarily as a temporary nuisance, Hitler somehow became an unstoppable force. Against the odds? OK - we could debate this in the pub, but was it inevitable, after all? It seems to me that there must have been some key moments in his progress where Adolf might have fizzled out - disappeared from view. Unlucky breaks? Complacency? Propaganda? There must have been some identifiable points where he was lucky to get away with it.

"Leider habe ich heute meine Ukulele vergessen..."
I'm not looking for a learned analysis of German socio-political history from the period, just some suggestions about where it could have worked out differently. Any thoughts? There were definite actions which no-one dreamed were possible - execution of Ernst Röhm and the leaders of the SA might be an example. That's just a start.

In his own career since his failed attempt to burn down the Reichstag on Jan 6th, the aforementioned 45th President, a known student of Hitler's speeches, seems to exhibit no awareness of how what goes around comes around. If he succeeds in normalising all this talk of violence, leaving vaguely expressed threats online to be fulfilled by the more stupid of his followers, I would have thought it might just occur to him that someone from the other side might, in turn, decide that the world would be a safer, better place without him. If I were in his position, making all those public campaigning appearances (in the fabulously glamorous school gymnasiums of the marginal States), I would certainly be a bit nervous.

Just saying.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Hooptedoodle #451 - Accidental Progress: a celebratory but extremely boring post about computing

 I'll keep this brief. It may seem an odd topic for a blog post, but someone might find it useful, so here it is.

I've been a Mackintosh user since 2014; I'm on my second desktop Mac now, and I like them, though I have become suspicious of the customer-support politics over this period.

After I'd had my first Mac for a year or so, I was notified that there was a new operating system. As I recall, I was using Mountain Lion at the time, and the new upgrade was El Capitan. Being a lifelong Windows user, I requested the update immediately, and so it came to pass.

Good news and bad; the new MacOS worked very nicely, but 3 non-Apple applications which I had bought and installed on the machine no longer worked. One was a rather good pdf editor, one was the Mac version of a graphics editor which I had used and relied on for years. I can't remember what the third was, but there were three. I contacted Apple's customer support people, and was told that they had no responsibility for other people's software, and I should complain to the originators. Right - message received, loud and clear. I coped, but my view was readjusted by the experience. Thereafter, I tried to hold off on MacOS upgrades as long as possible.

My latest machine is running very nicely. I've had Monterey running since I got it, and I've been badgered fairly constantly to upgrade to Ventura, almost from the outset. I've just been deleting the notifications - I have sufficient investment in MSOffice for Mac and a couple of other things to be nervous about a repeat of the El Capitan experience. Also, I have to say that I had read some criticisms of Ventura on-line which were not encouraging (though, of course, I mostly didn't understand them).

Yesterday I was notified that there was a new version of my installed Monterey available - version 13.7.1, I think. I had no objection to a version change for the existing OS, if it delayed the arrival of the dreaded Ventura for a while. So when it offered to update my system overnight, I took a deep breath and clicked OK

What happened next was a bit of a surprise. The machine set about installing the new system immediately, not overnight, and told me that it was Sonoma 14.1.1. Good heavens, I thought to myself, what the bleep is Sonoma?

It took about 2 hours to download, prepare and install the new software. Sonoma, apparently, is newer even than Ventura, so I was expecting the worst. Well, I have to say that thus far I find no problems - I've not lost anything, as far as I can tell, and some of my existing app software is running much faster.

Perhaps my trust should be restored?


Tuesday 14 November 2023

Oh Well

 On yet another wet and stormy day I went into Edinburgh this morning for a hospital appointment.

I've been increasingly concerned about my eyes for a while, and today I got some definite news. Not particularly uplifting, but something I needed to know. 

It was confirmed that I have glaucoma, which has been suspected for some months. No need for an immediate life-change, but I shall regard it as a line in the sand. The damage (just to my left eye, thus far) is not hugely extensive, but it has appeared quite quickly, and is, of course, irreversible. I hadn't really noticed much difference in my vision, so must be grateful to have got off relatively lightly.

I started a regime of eye drops today, which may sound a bit tactical, but should help to slow down the worsening of the condition. I began reading the list of side-effects of the drops, but stopped rather quickly. I shall read that more thoroughly in a day or two, once I am feeling more bullish about the whole business!

I can carry on driving and doing what I do, and am determined to make a sensibly-paced return to the soldier-painting queue once I am used to the medication. My priorities may change a bit.

Please don't anybody send sympathetic messages of support, or best wishes - I appreciate the sentiment, but to me that always confirms that I need them! 

Take care of yourselves, everyone. We fight on.

Saturday 4 November 2023

Busy Week - Fighting in Two Continents

 Great fun this week - on Tuesday I was very pleased to attend one of Jon Freitag's excellent Zoom games. This was one of his biblical scenarios. I was a Hittite, fighting against the army of Ramesses II, in about 1275 BC. I am delighted to say that I was on the winning side; my masterstroke was to manage to more or less hold my flank together, while my colleague The Jolly Broom Man, masquerading as King Muršili III for the occasion, proceeded to win the game all on his own - and decisively too.

My thanks and compliments to Jon for laying on such a great game, and umpiring and game-mastering to his customary high standard. Best wishes also to the other players, for their excellent company and good humour. Jon's excellent battle report can be found on his blog here.

The following day I set off early in pouring rain, courtesy of Storm Ciarán, to drive down to Westmorland, where I was invited to a big, traditional Napoleonic game at the country seat of The Archduke. It was a delightful visit and a fine game. The Archduke was umpire and rules consultant, the scenario was a hacked version of the "Arrival of the Prussians" section of the Battle of Waterloo. I commanded the French, and Stryker, who heroically overcame all sorts of logistical problems to make the trip, was Blücher.

My photos should give a general idea of the atmosphere of the day. I lost (5-2) on units eliminated, but there were also Victory Points available for possession of 3 objectives. My 5ème Légère were finally driven out of Plancenoit Church in the last turn; if I'd held on to it, I'd have scraped the victory on points - though I admit I would not have deserved it!

Situation near the start, with Plancenoit Church at one end, the walled farm of Papelotte at the other, and a monument in the centre as defined objectives to gain bonus points

Prussians attack the 19e Ligne at Papelotte

Very quickly, a huge brawl [Scots: Stramash] developed in the centre, while the two armies raced to seize the church

The attack on Papelotte was eventually unsuccessful, though the garrison suffered heavy losses, and the French took the initiative here on their left
Elsewhere, however, the Prussians were successful - my cavalry was especially erratic, though that probably goes without saying

Eventually the 8th turn was completed, and I managed to lose the church just in time. Final reckoning was that the Prussians won 5-2 on eliminated units, and also 15-10 on bonus objectives. The quality of The Archduke's collection and the elegance of his new games room are apparent, I think. These are 20mm figures - a great many Hinton Hunt, all beautifully painted, and also Qualiticast - just marvellous. I also took some pictures of some of the troops who were not taking part, in his very fine display cases - my photos certainly do not do justice to any of this, but I hope they give an idea