Sunday, August 28, 2011

Historical Miniature War Gaming

It's been a hot summer and I must admit to essentially taking it off from blogging or doing anything else work related on the 'Net. However, the time has come again to start writing for Between Keyboard and Chair.

In July I happened to be in Smiths Falls, Ontario and dropped by Monolith Architectural Models to visit my nephew, Noel White. For as long as I can remember, Noel has been entranced by historical miniature war gaming. It was a quiet day at Monlith and Noel was busy working on some of his models. I took one look and decided that he should guest author a blog article. So I now turn you over to Noel:

Miniature War Gaming

I was invited by Don White to write a short article for Between Keyboard and Chair on one of my hobbies - historical miniature war gaming. It's something I've enjoyed for at least 20 years, and I've found it a rewarding and relaxing hobby. Though my father had a small collection of miniature soldiers, it didn't really begin until a good friend and neighbour gave me a sci-fi figure and encouraged me to paint it. My first paint job was sloppy and crude, but I enjoyed it enough to purchase some of my own. I then discovered the various games that one could play with enough miniatures and a willing opponent. As a young teenager I was drawn to the fantasy and sci-fi variety but over the years I lost interest in fiction and moved on to historical games and miniatures. After all, anyone could invent fiction. I felt using my own imagination and doing my own research was far more rewarding than memorizing fantasy.

Just What Is It?

So what is historical miniature war gaming? Its usually 2 players, each with a collection of miniatures representing an army from a particular period in history. They are placed on a large table that is often decorated with simulated ground features (what we call “terrain”) and moved with the use of rulers or other templates. Dice are rolled to simulate the unpredictable factors of combat, and ultimately determine who wins and who loses. Often you'll receive advantages to your dice rolls if you can catch the enemy in unfavourable circumstances. For example, pikemen may enjoy an advantage versus cavalry, or the enemy may suffer if you attack him from behind. A complete game (or “battle”) can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days based on the set of rules you have agreed to use. My current favourite set of rules for ancient/medieval warfare simulation is Field of Glory, published in the UK, and it sits somewhere in the middle in terms of complexity and provides a reasonable degree of historical accuracy. A Field of Glory battle is usually over in 3-4 hours. Those who are interested can compete in tournaments at some of the larger gaming conventions.

Model Making and Research

Gaming aside, my favourite part of the hobby is the model-making and research. Within the restrictions of your chosen set of rules, you build an army of little soldiers that resemble its historical counterpart. There is lots of variety in scale and new manufacturers are emerging every year. The pewter or lead figurines are usually mail-ordered from a web-store, since few conventional retailers exist in Canada. You assemble and paint them yourself, after having researched the appropriate colours and battle formations in the translations of various ancient texts and excellent modern accounts. You can easily spend as much time reading as painting! You can also find tips and painting techniques that really bring the figures to life and make the tiny details much easier to handle. It can take many, many hours to put together an army of 100-200 figures and a great deal of time and patience is involved. You are also encouraged to make the terrain your army will fight across (such as villages, hills, forests, rivers and so on) as well as a suitably decorated game-table.

From Hobby To Career

This unusual hobby of mine has lead to other things including my unusual career! I operate my own a scale model-making business near Ottawa called Monolith Architectural Models. The majority of my clients are architects and real estate developers who need high quality scale models for sales offices and presentations. In a way, I turned my hobby into my business. I'm also considering a second business fabricating components and terrain for various war games, and possibly developing my own game.

I'm also involved in a play-testing group for Field of Glory version 2. We are all volunteers from all over the world testing the latest suggestions to improve the game. We record our battles and submit the results to the design team who make adjustments accordingly. There is lots of debate and research involved too!

I encourage any who are interested to seek out their local hobby club and ask some questions. It's a very rewarding pastime with plenty of opportunity for socializing, learning and fun.

Noel White,
Monolith Architectural Models

Monday, June 13, 2011

Don White Photography

After years and years of shooting photographs I've decided to try marketing some of them online. Granted, I've sold matted and framed photos locally but that has been as a result of word-of-mouth, so I've decided to see what the Internet can do for me. The site I've set up is Don White Photography. I also have accounts at Artist Websites and RedBubble. Photographs, cards, T-shirts and stickers can be purchased at these locations.

Art Prints

Art Prints

Buy art

Feel free to drop by Don White Photography or go directly to my accounts at Artist Websites and RedBubble.

If nothing else, I hope I bring some enjoyment to you with my pictures.

That's the way I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Government of Canada Overthrown

Nothing raises the blood pressure more at Between Keyboard and Chair than the arrogance of little Stevie Harper and his drones. King Stevie and the PMO have decided there no longer is a Government of Canada.  Instead it's been replaced in government pronouncements by the HARPER GOVERNMENT.

Now this has been going on for quite some time but King Stevie has become more arrogant since the beginning of 2011. I did a search of the Government of Canada web site for the phrase "harper government" and the following numbers show the major increase in the use of Harper Government in departmental pronouncements since the beginning of the year.
  • 2011 (128)
  • 2010 (60)
  • 2009 (44)
  • 2008 (9)
  • 2007 (1)
  • 2002 (3)
This is just another example of King Stevie's contempt for the People of Canada and further exemplifies his goal of turn Canada in to Steven Harper's Canada.

At least that's how I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.

Y'all come back now, eh?


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Walter Cameron's 75th Birthday Party

Walter and partner, Marlyn
On Saturday, January 29, I had the pleasure of attending the 75th Birthday Party for Walter Cameron in Almonte at the home of  his daughter, Wanda, and her partner, Rob. I also had the pleasure, at the invitation of Wanda, of being the MC during the sit-down meal. There had to be at least 40 people in attendance and many of them were accomplished musicians that Walter has played with over the years. Needless to say, the evening ended up with a lot of good music being played until we finally shut down around midnight. An excellent way to pass a Saturday night.

One nice touch to the evening was the presence of four generations: Walter, his daughter Wanda, grand-daughter Amanda, and great-grandson Dallas.

Wanda, Walter, Dallas and Amanda
I've known Walter for almost as long as I can remember. In fact the first time we ever met we attended a dance together in Canonto, Ontario.  Apparently, Walter wasn't too impressed with my vocal capabilities at that event. However, I was only about 18 months old at the time and he had to look after me while my parents and his older sister were up dancing. He was somewhat underwhelmed that he had to entertain a squalling kid.

Walter in 1961
We lost touch with one another after that inauspicious start to our friendship and we didn't really connect again until 1960 when Walter joined the Mississippi River Boys as a vocalist and guitar player. The Mississippi River Boys was a country dance band that played throughout Lanark, Renfrew, Frontenac and Carleton counties in Eastern Ontario from 1956 to 1985.  I had been playing with the band since New Years Eve 1958. Walter and worked together from 1960 until 1977 when he left to play with the late Ron McMunn.  Since then we've run into one another at various events but as we've gotten older those meetups have become all too infrequent.  About three years ago we had the good fortune to have Walter sit in with Grateful We're Not Dead at a show we were doing at a Western Games event at Drummond Center. Maybe we can arrange for him to make another guest appearance.

As I mentioned, there were a large number of talented musicians at Walter's party and everyone had a chance to perform. Of course, the night would not have been complete without getting Walter up to the mic and he finished off the entertainment for the evening.  I had my iPod Touch with me and was able to catch him on video.

Performing with Walter are Ray Donaldson - peddle steel, Mac Knowles - lead, Wayne Munroe - drums, and Tom Gardiner - bass.

So Walter, I expect to be invited to your 80th, 85th, 90th and 95th birthday parties. And if you make 100, I'll see to it that Grateful We're Not Dead is there to entertain you.

And a final insight garnered at the party: As young bucks, all the guitar players I knew had belt buckle scratches on the back of their guitars. As I looked around the room on Saturday night, I realized that none of us has to worry about scratching the back of our guitar anymore.  There's a lot more padding now.

At least that's how I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Fifty Six Seconds

Well I'll be damned!!! It's amazing how things eventually connect together. Recently, from my position Between Keyboard and Chair I came across an article that states:
"FIFTY SIX SECONDS is all the time a person will spend watching your loading animation, clicking through your site, reading your copy, and watching your content. A 60-second spot."
This article was posted in 2009 on Annoying Design.

Back in 2006 I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen which quoted a study that had shown:
"women think of sex once every two weeks whereas men think of sex every 58 seconds"
and as a result, in 2007 I wrote a song for Grateful We're Not Dead entitled At Least Once Every Minute.

Needless to say, it's likely the men surfing the 'Net who have had the greatest impact in generating the 56 second statistic. It then allows them 2 seconds to switch over into thinking about sex.

At least that's how I see it from Between Keyboard and Chair.