Monday, April 18, 2011
But not this time. This time we needed something new.
My kids love to use mom's laptop, and we are fairly lax in letting them surf the web on it (within reason). Julia just likes to watch videos of all sorts of things on YouTube, and Grace likes YouTube as well as a number of kids game sites. The problem is, kids game sites and things of that nature are prime targets for viruses. The best Verizon/McAfee security suite in the world isn't going to protect you when a window pops up asking for permission to do something and your kid clicks the "OK" button in order to make the window go away so that they can get back to their game.
Having now been to the GeekSquad twice to clean a laptop, and being concerned about the erratic performance of my own PC (which the kids don't touch!), I was looking for something a little more stable and secure. So in a fairly impulsive move, we went to the nearest Apple store over the weekend and bought a 21.5" i3 iMac. This is the low end iMac, but has everything I need. I did upgrade to the 1 terrabyte hard drive. That's a lot of pictures, songs and video.
My wife had one of the very first versions of the Mac back in college (this would be about 1985-86). I believe it was a 128k Mac, with the single 3.5" disk drive built into the unit, which also housed the little screen. It could do practically nothing, but was leading edge for the times. We haven't owned a Mac since.
The thing that you always hear said about Macs is that they are "so much more intuitive than PC's." In a theoretical sense that may be true, but when you have been using Windows based PC's for your entire adult life, that becomes what intuitive is. Learning something new is not easy. I am writing this post almost a month after the fact and backdating it to coincide with the purchase of the machine, and I do absolutely love it. It is fast. It is smooth. And in the month I have owned it, it has never hung up or crashed once. Not once! My PC couldn't get through a day of hard use without blowing up somehow. I still have my PC, and I still use it. But I am starting to become an Apple believer... again. With an awful lot left to learn...
Saturday, April 16, 2011
As an aside, the other four books purchased were:
- Early Photography at Gettysburg, by William Frassanito (1995).
- Devil's Den, A History and Guide, by Garry Adelman and Tim Smith (1997).
- Confederate Monuments at Gettysburg, by David G Martin (1986). I probably wouldn't have gotten this encyclopedia style volume if it had cost much more than the $14.99 that it did, but I am a sucker for a nice cheap hardback, and there is a lot of good information in here.
- Gettysburg Campaign Atlas, Philip Laino (2nd ed, 2009). This is the real gem of the bunch. 482 pages of map after map after map covering everything from the operational overviews of the larger troop movements before and after the battle down to the movements of regiments and batteries minute by minute across individual fields and fences. A treasure trove of detail for a wargamer or map geek.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Over the past month or so I...
- Began removing 15mm Crusades figures from their old bases in order to re-base on Impetus style bases. I've barely scratched the surface of what needs to be done.
- Began making a pair of 4 foot by 3 foot desert terrain boards to make a four by six battlefield. Sand has been glued and base coat (mostly) painted on. Needs painting and dry brushing to complete.
- Began painting a half dozen or so mounted Saracen leaders for the Crusades. None completed.
- I did buy ready to use desert terrain items at Cold Wars, so in that regard I have made progress even though I didn't do much other than pull out my wallet.
- Noticed the half finished units of Ottoman heavy infantry and Janissary archers sitting off on the side of the painting table from about a year ago and put a little time in on them. Still not done of course. But closer.
- Caught part of The Two Towers movie on TV and decided I just absolutely had to paint some Riders of Rohan immediately. Did a test fig as documented here, liked the result and set out to do 7 more. These were actually finished last night and just need their bases to be finished.
- Was so pleased with how the Rohan figs turned out and realized that they have no painted enemies to face, so began painting 25 or 30 Isengard uruk-hai. These will be easy to paint using the dip method and a very limited (and dark) color palette. Then I will need more Rohan, then more Isengard, then more Rohan...
- Played a fantastic game of Fire and Fury (Civil War) and remembered how much fun those games always are. Remembered also that I need to upgrade the quality (and quantity) of this piece of my collection, especially as far as the Union side is concerned. Began plotting and planning a purchase.
- Went out to Gettysburg for a day and a half seminar. I am now fully immersed in ACW and have been rereading Regimental Fire and Fury with an eye towards that being our next group game.
So. Have I finished much of anything? Not really, although the Rohan figs prevent me from having to admit to having finished nothing at all. And after a hiatus of many months of very little hobby activity in general, and even less painting activity, I am glad that things are sort of back to... well... normal.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
The Struggle for Devil's Den
The Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides
Spring Seminar, April 8-9, 2011
A few months ago my friend Phil called and told me about this event, and asked if I wanted to go. With advance warning to be able to plan for it I said "sure", and I am extremely glad that I did. The Gettysburg ALBG apparently does two of these a year, one in the spring and a full weekend one in the fall. This specific one focused on the attack and defense of Houck's Ridge and Devil's Den.
The first part of this was a lecture and slide show at 7pm on Friday evening at the Grand Army of the Republic hall in Gettysburg. Just being in that building on that site was pretty cool. The talk was given by LBG Tim Smith, a guide who I have seen several times on the PCN channel's battlefield walks that are shown every year around the anniversary of the battle. I also have one or two of his books, including one titled "Devil's Den; A History and Guide". The talk focused on the history and legacy of Devil's Den, with a major focus on the contemporary and near-contemporary photographic record of the site. Truly fascinating stuff, and a talk which made me go out and buy a couple of William Frassanito's books on the photographic history of Gettysburg.
The Saturday part was the main event, and was to consist of three hours of walking the battlefield from the Confederate point of view in the morning, followed by lunch, then three more hours of walking the battlefield from the Union point of view in the afternoon. The weather, which had rained on my geocaching Friday during the day, was not supposed to be an issue on Saturday (although the forecast was for cool and overcast), but there was a more serious threat. The government budget was set to expire at midnight, and if the budget impasse could not be broken and a settlement reached (however temporary), the park would be closed, as would all other federal facilities, and we would be unable to walk the field. Which meant that the Saturday program would be conducted as a series of lectures in an indoor room. Ugh. Fortunately, that would not come to pass, as a one-week extension was reached at 11:45 pm that would keep the government from shutting down.
I will follow this up with a post on each of the morning and afternoon sessions, with pictures, but suffice it to say that this was a FANTASTIC day and a half of hardcore history geekiness. I can't stress enough what a wonderful job these guides do, and what a tremendous wealth of knowledge they are. I would strongly recommend that anyone with a serious interest in Civil War history in general, or Gettysburg in particular, do whatever they can to attend one of these. They are well worth the modest cost of about $100 for a day-plus of immersing yourself in the history of the battle with people who know it all, inside and out.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
The action begins to heat up as more of McLaws' men contact the enemy.
McLaws' division is now pressing the Union cavalry in force. Wofford's Georgia brigade has come into line next to Barksdale's Mississippians, with Paul Semmes' Georgia brigade in support. Buford's battery, being out of ammo, has limbered and retired to the rear to resupply. The cavalry troopers themselves are also disordered and low on ammunition.
As McLaws' presses eastward, Wadsworth's division deploys to their northwest. Cutler's brigade is in the lead with artillery moving up in support, and Meredith's Iron Brigade is moving up behind them. To counter their advance, a Confederate battery has taken up a commanding position on the hill.
To the south, Devin's brigade has galloped across country to block Heth, and has gone low on ammunition almost immediately. Buford's cavalry has done some fine shooting early in the game, but are paying the price by shooting off most of their ready supply of ammo. We are playing a house rule on resupply whereby a unit wishing to resupply must follow the normal restrictions as written in the rules but also be within 12 inches of a supply wagon unit. With no supply wagon nearby, the ammo situation for Devin is critical. Pettigrew's men are disordered at the moment, but are a very large unit, and have supports moving up behind them, as well as artillery.
Without having too much time to get ready for this game, and having a few players who are not very familiar with the rules, I decided that the easiest thing to do would be to play a meeting engagement. This would allow most of the troops to begin off the table, and allow the newer players a chance to get their feet wet with the game mechanics while only having a few units to worry about. By the time more and more forces arrived, hopefully the players would be comfortable enough to be able to handle things by then.
The scenario is set in June 1863 and uses the historical order of battle from the Gettysburg campaign. Initial Federal forces would include Buford's cavalry division (Me), John Reynolds' 1st Corps (Ryan), and Oliver Howard's 11th Corps (Mike). The Confederates would have parts of both James Longstreet's 1st Corps (Anthony) and AP Hill's 3rd Corps (Dave). The picture below, taken from the East looking West, shows the initial deployments. Buford's two cavalry brigades are in the center, one holding the nearer crossroad facing south and one holding the more distant crossroad facing west. The Confederates will be entering the battlefield from the west and southwest, crossing the stream in the distance. Union forces will be entering from the north and northeast. McLaws' division of Longstreet's Corps is advancing on Buford in the far distance. Lead elements of Howard's Corps are moving along the road in the near right of the picture.
Turn 1: 8:00-8:30am
The first turn was mainly movement, with more of McLaws' troops arriving and deploying to engage Buford. Buford's artillery immediately put a casualty on the lead Confederate brigade, but went low on ammunition in the process. The yellow bead indicates low ammo. The small orange beads that can be seen in this picture are 3 of the 7 objectives that the players are fighting for control over - these are typically high spots on the battlefield or road junctions. Control of the locations will go a long way toward effectively controlling the battlefield.
On the southwestern side of the field, lead elements of Harry Heth's division of Hill's Corps file toward the bridge crossing.