Saturday, 31 January 2009

Radio 4, Naturally

Tristan, of Natural Navigator, on “Excess Baggage” just now. There’ll be a ‘listen again’ available.

Just don’t mention the war.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Free Indie Movie: 1DR

Local Aberdeen indie movie, “One Day Removals”, is available to watch free online from 30th January - 2nd February at

Contains the most swearing in any dramatic feature film in the English language - ever. So, don’t watch it and then complain that you weren’t warned.

Previous posts.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Minnie and her Flying Pigs

Another game of Iron Ivan’s “Price of Glory”. We had an introductory game two weeks ago. Since then I have been determined to get some terrain made.


The work allowed me to cover a 4 foot wide, 6 foot long table (see previous). The barbed wire is from Barrule’s workshops and is supplied in 30 foot lengths. I used 3 packs just to provide enough wire entanglements to cover the table-width.


Being me, I’d done some extra prep and made up some unit sheets. They seemed to speed up deployment. I merely copy/pasted the army lists into a word processor, and if there were 2 units listed in the OOB, then I copied them twice. Print on card and laminate before slicing into strips. Bish, bash, bosh. At which point I find that I’ve not enough riflemen for a 3:1 ratio against the Allies.


With Tommy Atkins unaware of the offensive (“Great War Miniatures” figure, painted by Hugh), I drop all the off-board artillery that I can reasonably pochle onto their HMG positions. Being me, I had made up ‘character sheets for my guns (additional background information from Landships website). Ideally, I’d like to have the off-board artillery set up on a side-table. I also need a pronunciation guide – if only to stop Carlos from grimacing.



Small groups of stormtroopers rush forward, supported by two MG08’s and some MG08/15’s. We quickly ... sorry, that should read “I quickly” … noticed that it was difficult to keep track of unit casualties, so started using the ‘Eldritch gems’ markers for losses. yellow means the unit has been activated, red is a morale failure, and so we used green for casualties.

I’ve still got a lot of work to do on the terrain. Especially to put a finish on the trenches. Then to expand out with communications trenches and a proper second line. Strongholds to be modelled, etc etc. From a rules viewpoint, they are great. With the deployment cards, I can think about adding a random element to the set-up, veterans and green units. Neither of us want to do the “rush the guns in daylight”, but it proves that the rules can cope, and a realistic outcome is obtained. Two units of German infantry get near the wire, but the rest are failing morale rolls and heading back to their trenchline.


Next time, a night raid. I may need to build an OP.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Berms and Funk Holes. W.P.

I deleted the introduction. I need no rationale. I blame reading “Charley’s War” when I was a kid. The more I read, the more I want to do it right. Painting the right uniforms. Adding the right mud. My skills are limited but I can try. Taking my time. Reading more books. Looking at more photographs. Taking my time. It won’t be ready for Christmas.

NML boards


  1. 600x300mm polystyrene sheets. Masking tape to protect the edges.
  2. Then applied ‘modroc’ (sheets of plaster-coated scrim). Shallow bomb-craters were made by rolling up the scrim into a tube, and then shaping it into a circle.
  3. Plaster was then applied (using “no more cracks” as it is pre-mixed and promises not to shrink).
  4. Watered-down PVA glue was applied to the surface, sprinkling on some ‘ballast’.
  5. I had settled on a standard base style for the figures, so will be building up the terrain boards, trenches, etc to match. I used Daler-Brown 223 Burnt Umber, mixed with water in a plastic tub.
  6. There is still much dry-brushing and maybe even getting some more realistic-looking craters. The markers are “Eldritch Gems” that seemed to work on Tuesday, so I ordered some for myself.

Each stage taking about 3 hours to dry. Having completely under-estimated the task, so I ran out of various supplies last weekend. I expanded the trenches that I had made before, deciding on 3 lengths per side. If each were separated by 3 terrain boards (3 x 300mm), then I’d need 9 boards, not the 4 originally intended. More modroc, more paint, more plaster, more PVA.


Since I was in the creative frame of mind, I dug out the pack of Humbrol “Air Clay” I had bought a couple of Decembers back. This was what I bought it for. I tried various techniques, but settled on one where I roll the clay into a tube, flatten it into a rectangular section, and then cut it into the right size with a Stanley knife. The knife naturally ‘nips’ the clay, so minimal footering is required.

  1. Once on the crumpled carrier bag, the air can circulate under the clay, drying more evenly.
  2. I decided on plastic-card for a base, scoring it to provide a purchase.
  3. I used some of the models to give me an idea of what size the emplacement would be. The bags are then glued in place with PVA glue. Allowing one layer to dry before moving to the next one.
  4. I then textured the inside and out with the same plaster, and then painted with water-down PVA to seal the materials, and strengthen the walls.
  5. The whole model was then painted in the same brown as the terrain boards, before dry-brushing with a different shade of brown (Citadel Foundation Khemri Brown).
  6. I’ll paint in any ‘holidays’ when I notice them.

It may not look as good as one made by an expert, but the clay cost me a fiver, and the plasti-card about two quid for an A4 sheet. It doesn’t take much filler, nor paint.

For a' that, an' a' that

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Extract from Robert Burns’ "A Man's A Man For A' That" (1795) (source)


Dreich on Burns' 250th

Do I need to write why this song has come to mean more to me over the years? A revolutionary work. For a’ that. A levelling piece. An’ a that. Words that resonate the world o’er through distant Vacana and speeches in lands that had newly gained their freedom in his lifetime. So have gude faith and read and think and ponder and re-interpret one Man’s work today, on his 250th birthday. That a mere farmer, born near to where I was born, wrote words that still echo through the centuries holding their truths to be self evident. Many still wish harm on the taxman, or the lad on the pull, or the squaddie’s love. And what about the age old dilemma?

Dreich on Burns' 250th

Happy birthday, Mr Burns.

If you had difficulty with the Scots words, here’s a clip featuring Paola Nutini.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Lost in Translation

I found this on YouTube. I don’t know what is being said, but it is good to see an Akto vs the elements video.

Anyone know if the chap had a good night’s sleep? HahahaGoose, out of Hong Kong.

And, yes, I’m up to my eyes in other things just now, so I’m getting my Akto fix by watching other people’s vids. Heck, I didn’t get the waist-line in yesterday’s video by getting out on the hills every couple of days.

Honey Stove 2009 Arrives

The honey stove 2009 arrived in the post from today. It is certainly more flexible than the 2008 version, and the panels will fit into a Snow*Peak 900 cooking pot. There are now more options for using thin pegs (eg circular-section titanium tent pegs) for an upper pan support.

“Go, go, honey stove, go”

I’ll obviously need to get a couple of pegs and a firebase that’ll fit into the square-section mode. I think some tin-snips and a can of something from the cupboard…a couple of nails from the toolbox...bish, bash, bosh…

Ah. Just realised. You provide your own thin metal ashtray this time. Use a pit of an old thin metal wind-shield, or eat a pie and use the base. Mmmm, pies.

WHW Charity Trek

Northern Pies” highlighted this charity walk in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Scott and his guide dog, Travis, will be walking the length of the West Highland Way in Spring. Details of training, support and how to make a donation can be found at

Good luck, and I hope you get good weather, and few midges.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Amazon Amazon

I’m just ordering a couple of books from, and noticed the total invoice amount was too high. It only listed the two books. I had to press the “change quantity” button to see that two copies of one of the books had been put against my name instead of one. I had a similar issue at Christmas, but used the two ‘extra’ books as separate gifts for people; thinking I’d made a mistake.

Here, no such thing. Pure and simple. Two pages open with the books I’m after and press “Add to basket”.

Of course, in these times of financial difficulties, one can be suspicious, but I reckon it is more likely to be a coding issue that fails to handle multiple pages on the same site. Strange that I’ve not had an issue with this in the past.

Be vigilant.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Opposing with manly firmness his invasions

On this day, we had to have a wargame involving the American War of Independence. We rebels won.

AWI Game

AWI Game

25/28mm figures from Front Rank and Foundry.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Be Careful Out There

As there’s been too much bitching on here, here’s something completely different.

Aberdeen Beach

Aberdeen Beach

Aberdeen Beach

Watch where you’re walking though.

Aberdeen Beach

After Tuesday’s game of “Price of Glory”, I needed to nip to B&Q to pick up some terrain-building supplies.


I got the Wii hooked up to the Internet. Hmm. Why is life so complicated? No, not the wireless connection (sorted after some human error). Nintendo stars not points? An exchange rate from one schema to another. Both are in-house Nintendo systems. Pah. What rot.

Oh, I forgot, they were ‘out’ of some of the online, mythical, non-real-world ‘cards’. How the p***** can you be out of stock of a ‘card’ that only exists in digital format online? So, I couldn’t exchange all my ‘stars’ for ‘points’. Just 400 stars (stars, maybe as in: “complicated systems can get to ****” ?) for 100 points. But the “internet channel” (sic) costs more ‘points’ than that. So, I end up having to spend 7 quid on the lowest number of points (1000), and accessing the “internet” (sic) costs 500 points, and amazingly, half my Wii’s memory blocks.

So. I get an Opera-based browser. Internet access. And a feeling that I’ve been screwed by the mega-corporation. Off to load up some web pages, my blog (obviously), and then to see what Opera can do on the Wii.

Wii Internet

Well, it can’t handle Google Maps. But neither can my Opera on the mobile phone. It can play YouTube, DailyMotion and BBC iPlayer. Well. Here’s the rub. The BBC iPlayer isn’t the same as the one on my PC. On my PC, I can watch BBC Alba. But not on the Wii. Both through the same router. In the same room. I can watch other programmes, but the available shows is strangely truncated. For example, there was only one TV programme in the seven days by BBC Scotland. Following the same sequence on the PC version, I get 5 pages of BBC Scotland programmes. And BBC Northern Ireland – which is non-existent on my WiiPlayer. This is the only way to get regional programmes on the Wii.

Wii Internet

Later I catch Radio 4’s “News Quiz”. Before that, I changed the settings so that I can hide the toolbar. I don’t want it interfering with me listening to a radio programme via my television set, now do I.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Delivery - the Grim Reaper of online shopping

There's a florist at the end of the road my brother lives in Stornoway. They are a mile away from my folks. I want to send them flowers. They want to slap on their standard 5 quid delivery.
I notice their 'free delivery' service. I get this message:

Sorry, we are unable to deliver to this address. If it's possible to reach your recipient using a different address please enter this below and re-submit your order.

The florist is here. I want them sent here. There are only 2 junctions to take!

As this is not the only issue I have had this weekend with companies, I am left predicting that before this recession is over, many companies will have gone out of business and people will have lost their job because customers are walking away from transactions with hidden delivery problems, eg:

  • non-business transactions that use delivery companies that only deliver in working hours.
  • companies that charge unreasonable delivery charges (eg Argos charging over 5 pounds to deliver a wee card with 2000 wii points on it).
  • delivery companies that do not have collection depots open at non-working hours.
  • the UK mainland is just that - the main island of the UK. If the company fails to recognise this, and want to slap on extra charges and they have not said so, clearly and openly at the beginning of the ordering process, then I walk away. If the company fails to realise that pi55ing off the customer will result in the customer walking away, then they are in the wrong business.

The delivery of the goods is part of the transaction, not independent of it. Even though they are sub-contractors, if they screw up the delivery, then I will cancel the order and get my money back.

Because websites are the faceless, soul-less representation of the 'real world' company, people like me are less drawn to the high-street versions of a company with a poor website.

I want the whole shopping experience to be fun. It should not be a chore. If the shop - real world or online world - can't go out of its way to realise that, then they are in the wrong business.


I had thirty quid to spend on a wireless router today, one that would allow my Nintendo Wii access to the Internet. Clutching a 17-page printout of router reviews and problems, I left the flat at 0930 and arrived back at 1230. I had been in:

  1. Tescos (open early and a family shop)
  2. PC World (restocking problems after Christmas ... yup, I know it is the 11th of January)
  3. Staples (mainly a business retailer, so higher-spec/price kit)
  4. Comet (Kittybrewster)
  5. Currys (Berryden)
  6. Toys 'r' Us (I was getting desperate)
  7. Asda (just in case)
  8. Comet (The Links)

In the current economic climate it should not have been that difficult to have parted me from my money. If the world economy is taking a nose-dive, maybe the retailing sector should look at one issue – who in your business actually cares about selling your goods? The kids in the front line? The managers hidden in the office? The people who build the websites? The cluckers in the call centres? If you are a retailer, your core business is that: selling.

Get your act together or you are going under – you can blame the recession all you like, but the truth is that your customers are smarter than you think; want to speak to someone who knows the product (I can read an information card myself, thank you); and can spot when you are lying. A lot also have Internet access on their phones and can do their own price comparisons (I noticed about 100% price difference in a Wii game today, and 50% difference in identical hardware).

We all have lessons to learn in the next few years, the one from this weekend is:

Confusion can lose you a deal – KISS.

Prosperity and long life.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Rachel Gets A Gold Star

Well done to Rachel in Furniture at Argos’ centre.

Sadly, however, the Argos method of giving discounts, ie. ‘codes’ and vouchers and cards, has meant that Argos has lost an order for a Nintendo wii. They have 8 sitting in stores in Aberdeen, but their computer system refuses to allow the processing of a discount ‘code’ in store, and their ‘reserve online’ doesn’t allow you to pay for it online, thereby allowing you to redeem the discount.

Strangely, they insist on saying that “your statutory rights …  remain unaffected.” So. I have a total of £15 of discounts from Argos, and I can not use them together.

Poor Martin in Small Goods promises to pass on my comments to the systems designers. And I made sure that the grunt in the frontline knew that I was happy with the way he dealt with this customer, and that it was all the fault of the REMFs.

I’m in the mood for fighting through the Saturday shoppers on Union Street … obviously I’m the sort of person who will not be giving Argos my business, despite the £5 gift card that I can use in-store. Maybe Woolworths will have one :>


When waiting for the store to open, I had some things to collect from the local sorting office. The sky was beautiful and the day held such aspirations of consumerism. By 1015am, it was all over. And I hadn’t even had my breakfast.

Hey, they’re right about the exercise you get with this wii system – I’ve burnt off so many calories already just trying to purchase one! Maybe if I keep not owning one, I’ll lose even more calories?

Thursday, 8 January 2009

The Iolaire Disaster

There was a very good programme on tonight about the Iolaire Disaster of New Year’s Day 1919. A horrific sinking of a boat packed with sailors coming home after the end of the Great War. 205 men, fathers, sons and brothers were killed. 80 survived.

It was a touching piece, and there is a website to investigate across

To give some idea of the losses – between 1914 and 1918, the village of Leurbost lost 18 men (according to the memorial inscription listed by the North Lochs Historical Society). In addition to that, 11 were lost when the Iolaire hit the rocks at the entrance to Stornoway harbour. One poor soul’s body was found within sight of his house in Sandwick.

The programme discussed the impact that it had on those widows and families left behind. One girl had her Gaelic name changed to remove her father from it.

DSC02052pcs Sunrise over the Iolaire

I go past it most times that I travel home. The sun sometimes marks the spot. (Maplink)


Have a look at the website. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Gaelic. They have video clips of the Iolaire sailing, interviews with the families and some historical ones of the survivors. Have a look at the faces of the departed, and you’ll see the same faces on many streets in Scotland, or Canada, or Australia or the myriad places we have diasporad to.


Footnote: The full, subtitled, programme isn’t being shown on the iPlayer, and the original showing on BBC Alba is now unavailable.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Cable Frenzy

I spent much of the evening rebooting my computer. Every time I changed the computer settings, I had to reboot the computer. This was to try and get the computer to detect the television on the other side of the room. Between the two, and behind the sofa, were some of the cables that I had purchased off eBay. An s-video for pictures, and an audio output cable.

I could get sound, but the video wasn’t playing. So I went looking online, and tried rebooting the computer with the VDU unplugged. It worked.

Television display unit

A bit later, I was finally able to receive BBC Alba without having to pay for Freesat or Sky.

Bbc alba


Sadly, the reality is that I have to disconnect the VDU (not just power it down), and the computer audio, reboot the pc, and then flick through the tv handset, and then crick my neck navigating to sites to watch them on the telly. But the cables only cost me about a tenner.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Time Travel Sickness

I feel old all of a sudden. Not only is the new actor to play the role of Doctor Who younger than me, but I’d left school and was working before he was born.

Maybe a new role for Marcus Brigstocke as a stand-in?

I bet we’ll see a Wii controller in the TARDIS.

I think I’ll be rooting for The Master next time. Even if he just breaks the Doc’s skateboard. Respect.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Marag dubh with view

Marag dubh with view, originally uploaded by dimacleod.

A flat crossing. The east coastline is coated in a layer of cloud. A mac user is entertaining his kids by playing recent doctor who episodes. Just a shame he doesn't have a projector unit. But my brain is doing the job of video feed to supplement the audio overspill. Outside the clouds are clearing as the heat from the sun comes into play. I may go for a walk on deck. After i finish coffee.