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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ireland

This summer I went to Ireland.

We traveled with a tour group, Vagabond Tours.  I highly recommend them.  They specialize in small group tours that go to both the touristy spots and off the beaten path (my favorite).  Our group was 13 people.

Culinary

The Irish beer scene is excellent.  They have gone completely for the craft beer vibe, very similar to what has been going on in the west coast of the United States.  When I went to England in 2012 I was very disappointed with English beers. And I like the temperature that they are served at. Perhaps this has changed since then.  In addition to the newer local craft beers, they still have some very good cask ales.


Also, if you have a thing for whiskey (I don't), the Irish have started a number of local, small batch, distilleries.  Jameson and Bushmills are industrial, and these smaller whiskey producers are outshining them.  Dingle distillery is one example.

Additionally, 5 years ago, I wasn't impressed with British cuisine.  After our first samplings, my wife and I started frequenting the Italian, Indian and Thai restaurants.  Ireland, however, has some wonderful restaurants. I can't recommend Dingle oysters enough.  They were so good.  Even the iconic Shepherd's pie and Irish stew were fabulous.



Running

I carried out my usual plan for running while traveling.  All easy miles, and no more than 1 hour of running every other day.  As usual I got a much more "real" picture of the country with this practice, going beyond what the tour shows and obtaining my own personal perspective.


Travel

There are a lot of cool things to see in Ireland.  I came away with the impression that most of the stunning visual terrain was in western Ireland.  I could be wrong, but it was the pattern I saw.

There were caves.


The Skellig islands.




Giant's causeway - this is actually in Northern Ireland (on the west side)
















The Cliffs of Moher















Croagh Patrick - sadly no pictures

Doolough Valley


Inisheer - Aren Island



Castles



















Finish











Saturday, June 3, 2017

Rebasing Egyptians and Hittites

With the end of the Operation Luttich project I have turned my attention back to rebasing my ancients.  I decided on 80 mm wide bases for my Romans and Carthaginians which matches the Impetus basing system, and works for pretty much any of the newer ancient rules sets out there.

For my Hittites and New Kingdom Egyptians I decided upon 100 mm wide bases for the simple reason that Litko has that size precut, and each can hold 3 chariots.  This is more visually appealing to my eye.

As you can see that the Hittite chariots here are still on the DBM standard, but the Egyptians are rocking the new look.





Some of the Infantry.



The first Hittites (skirmishers) on a new base.





Gaming Conventions

I recently went to a gaming convention after a long hiatus.  I had actually decided that I wasn't going to go to anymore California gaming conventions.  However, my son said he was going, and that some of his friends were going, so I decided, "what the heck."

Background

I went to my first gaming convention almost 38 years ago.  These early conventions featured mostly role playing games, dominated by Dungeons & Dragons, but with a growing diversity of other games.  In my younger days these were Champions, Runequest, Arduin, Chivalry & Sorcery, Gamma World, Boothill, and Traveller.

I went to my first historical miniatures convention during my years on the east coast.  There the game being played was mostly DBM for ancients.  Ancients, as I posted earlier are what got me into collecting historical miniatures.  I attended Cold Wars.  

Back in California I found that there was no convention to compare to the ones put on by HMGS. But I attended a few of the smaller west coast conventions, hosted a game using the Piquet rules of Archon, and then Archon 2.  The games were well attended.

Then I decided to take on a big project.  I got my New Kingdom Egyptians and Hittite armies up to a point where each could accommodate 5 players.  I used Baueda's models to paint up an Egyptian camp, and even had a modest representation of Kadesh.  I put together lists, folders, quick reference sheets, purchased additional dice and measuring tape.  I enlisted the aid of my son.

We signed up to run the game on Saturday.  Previous experience demonstrated this to be the day with the largest attendance.  I thought we could get a good size group to sign up for the game.

Not a single person signed up to play.

I have a good notion as to why this occurred.  I probably should have coordinated with the gaming group that tends to dominate this convention.  But I was burnt, or burned out.  The effort had cost too much and I decided not to return.

Kublacon

I still haven't gone back to that convention.  The one I attended is called Kublacon.  I was impressed by its polish, its size, its diversity of games, and its outreach to young players.

I was pleased that people were hosting games I wanted to try, like "To the Strongest."  I had hoped to try "Command and Colors," but that didn't work out.

I was able to sign-up for two "To the Strongest" events.

The first event featured a clash between Pyrrhus and Carthaginians.  The figures were quite stunning.
An elephant for the Epirians, but none for the Carthaginians.

An impact marker for some Epirian cavalry
Here come the Numidians!


Some of my command.

In the thick of the fray.  I'm not a big fan of the cards from a visual point of view.


It was a fun event.  We even had time for a second game.  I'm still not sure about the grid system. The Carthaginians (my side) lost the first game, but we took the second game.

The second event was not as visually stunning.  It was Persians against Greeks, a classic (pun intended) match up.  I was stuck with a command of mostly Persian skirmishers which I think I skillfully managed.

It was interesting seeing the differing interpretation of this rule set in the two separate events.  We wargamers are always fiddling with rules.  I myself am already thinking of a marriage between the command activation of these rules with modified combat table used in Pulse of Battle, no grid.

My son's friend bought Pandemic:Call of Cthulu.  We played a couple of games.

Shoggoth on the move, four old ones revealed!  It didn't end well for the players.


A cool Napoleon period Naval game.




Intermittent Fasting

Sometimes I'm just not sure how a new idea begins...in my head.

For whatever reason, I decided to explore eating only twice a day.  I then started to wonder, what was the science behind how often we should eat?  I've kind of had a fascination for fasting.  I started to feel like I needed to train my body how to feel and cope with hunger.  I wanted to appreciate eating just for the sake of eating.  I thought maybe it was sort of a yin and yang thing.

A quick search online revealed the wonders of intermittent fasting.  Several people have written articles on it.  If somebody wrote it down, then it must be true? Right?

I don't know.  Nutritional science is complex, and sadly, has been conducted poorly by some in powerful political places that drove national policy.  But I digress.

I decided to give it a try.  I've been almost doing it on the weekends when I have coffee, a long run, then a late breakfast/brunch around 11am.

Mmmmm, breakfast...


I'm pretty relaxed in my application of this "diet."  I still have coffee, with milk and sugar in the morning, so I suppose I'm breaking a rule somewhere.  My first meal varies between 11am - 1pm.  And if I'm still working on a beer after 6-7pm dinner, no biggie.

Not surprisingly I haven't lost much weight, but at my height, I wasn't really expecting to shed much from my 135 pound total.  Still, it is early in this retraining of my physiology.

I feel better - less bloated.  I enjoy my meals even more.  I don't feel guilty about eating large portions, or having seconds.

Mmmmm, breakfast...





Santa Cruz 2

Two years ago I ran in "Surfer's Path" run.  It has a marathon, half-marathon, and relay.  I, of course, chose the half-marathon.

Two days before the event I came down with a virus.

It took over 2 hours and 4 minutes to complete - not good.

This year I decided to run it again.

I've already documented my training woes in previous posts.  With my left foot bugging me still, I probably wasn't running at my peak performance.

On the day of the race I forgo my running watch, leaving me clueless about my running time.  I decide that I want to finish strong, and was determined to find a solid, but not totally brutal pace.  I also figure I will look for somebody to pace me.

In the Merced half I found somebody to follow that seem to be holding a good pace and yet pushed me to keep up with them.  I followed them for most of the race, but pushed past them when they stopped at the last rest stop about 2 miles from the finish.  It paid off, I knocked ~5 minutes off of my half-marathon PR.

On Saturday, after picking up my race bib and goodie bag, we took a cruise from Capitola to Santa Cruz.  I got to see all the hills and realized, no way, not going to PR here.

We found a nice restaurant on the boardwalk.  I had my usual pre-race dinner of pasta and shared a bottle of wine with my support team (my wife).


I got up at 5 am for the race.  I had bought some bottled, organic cold coffee.  I ate a Clif bar while drinking my coffee.


At the start line I did some warming up and active stretching.  I saw a fellow runner from my hometown.  He was going to run the full marathon.  We wished each other a good run and ambled off to do some more warming up.

At the start, people walked until they actually got to the start line.  I guess they didn't want to run anymore than they had to.  The running started off at a very easy pace and I just went with it for a while.  Then gaps opened up and I started moving forward.  A quarter of the way in and I had plenty of room.

I didn't feel like I was pushing myself until the last 3 miles.  Even then I was consciously pacing, not working to hard to catch people who might pass me.  My left toe nail started hurting - uh oh!  I new I should have cut them before the race.

I didn't really find a solid pacer.  Those last 3 miles there were ~4 different people I followed.  Coming into the finish, the pacing paid off, and I was able to sprint to the finish.  Nobody passed me in that last instant, and I passed several.  Very satisfying.  I'm going to lose that toe nail though - bummer.

I finished in 1 hour 49 minutes flat, at an 8:19 pace, placing 15th out of 55 finishers in my age group.  I could do better, but I'm happy with this for now.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Breakfast

Looking in the refrigerator...

"Hmmm,those mushrooms won't last much longer."

"Oh look, half an onion."

I reach for the butter and stop...

"Wait, I've got some cured and smoked Berkshire pork belly somewhere in here."

I quarter and slice some potatoes to cook in some pork lard I rendered from seasoned pork shoulder that I had cooked in the electric pressure cooker a few nights ago.

I dice the onions and mushrooms while the bacon browns in the pan.

I then cook the onions and mushrooms in the bacon grease with the bacon.

This mixture goes in a bowl when done.

I cook two eggs over medium to put over a serving of the now crispy brown potatoes.  The yolk is nice and runny.

I spoon the mushroom/bacon/onion mixture over this,  then adding some ketchup and sriracha sauce.

I wolf it all down and chase it with some orange juice.

The best breakfast that I've had in a long time.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Operation Luttich

Yesterday I finally ran the Mortain scenario.  There was a lot to set-up.  There was a lot to explain.  I forgot to mention some things.  The game got off to a bumpy start.  The terrain was frustrating for both sides, but particularly for the Germans.  Historically correct, but perhaps not making for the best game.  Also 9 people might have been too many.

Still the display pleased me to no end.

Some photos:

The 120th and 117th in the vicinity of Mortain, the Abbey and in Barthelemy.


The Germans do some Aerial recon.


Romagny

The 117th in and around Barthelemy


The 120th on hill 314 and 285.  Their Heavy weapons company is backwards.

Birks on the hill


The Germans arrive


An assault on the Abbey with Panzer IV (F2s serving as Hs)




Panthers attempt to force their way through to Mortain and get close assaulted.  With no Infantry support, the were destroyed.


Panzer IVs moving through Mortain on their way to Romagny


The American 3rd armored division CCB says no..



The "Lost Battalion" is cut-off, but continues to hold hill 314.


Things look grim for the 117th as German forces approach and spotting rounds land.


American Air Support arrives..


The Germans push through Barthelemy



The 119th moves up through the Apple Orchard to support the 117th


















The 119th holding Juvigny.  Edwin Sutherland is on the hill.


General Hobbs is concerned




General der Panzertruppe Funck looks on



The rules were a hybrid of Pulse of Battle:WW2, Oman, and Panzer Korps, Granillo.
They need some stream lining, and I'm thinking of going away from the sequence deck entirely.  I like that both rule systems use the d4-d12 combat system.  I like the general readability of PoBs combat charts.  I like the Battalion assets from Panzer Korps.

I have it that each company shoots as in PoB.  The player then decides which company gets a bonus from their Heavy Weapons stand.  Having Armor assets in Infantry battalions give certain bonuses, and AT guns also have advantages, but their immobility is problematic.  I'm not a big fan of wall to wall trucks and half-tracks, so I use single stands to represent the Infantry battalions transport assets.