Wednesday 18 May 2016

All Quiet on the Painting Front

Don't get me wrong I like my tech. I ought to, it is a big part of how I earn a living. I am a champion of things digital, having moved 2,500 of company employees (consuming more than 6 million sheets of paper annulally) from paper manuals to digital. I prefer to use digital books, music, movies, photography, and more where ever possible. I love my iPad and iPod, but when it comes to phones I am quite backward.

To the amusement of most of my work colleagues I have held on to my old work Nokia phone circa 2006. I know all of the advantages (and disadvantages) of smart phones, but the truth is there is nothing so urgent in my life, work or private, that I can't achieve with my old Nokia - it lets me make and take calls and send and receive texts. In addition, 90% of my time at work is spent at or near my desk, which has desk phone (which does not have a battery that runs flat) with a land line. On top of that I have recruited staff capable if thinking for themselves and more than able to deal with any issue that arises if I am not around.

I may be in the minority, but I struggle with this cellphone obsession and the need to be constantly connected. I remember an absurd sight a couple of years ago in a restaurant in Venice, just a couple streets away from St Marks Square. It was a great little place, full of atmosphere. Beside us was a table of four twenty-something Taiwanese tourists all sitting there, glued to their screens. Their meal arrived and they all took photos of their food then back on the texts. They hardly spoke to each other at all and left a little while later, leaving most of their meal on the table. 

On another occasion, in another (very upmarket) restaurant, in another country, I watched a young couple come in and sit down for what was probably intended as a romantic evening. Immediately they were on their phones. They looked up to order their food, then back to the phones. Really romantic eh?

Why am I thinking of this? We have come up to Singapore for a few day to celebrate her-indoors' birthday and yesterday, as we sat in a queue at the Singapore Zoo, I watched one of the workers as she answered one cell phone, texted on another, while the walkie talkie barked out instructions to her. While it was a wonderful example of multi-tasking, but I am just so glad my life is not that urgent.

I haven't been to Singapore  for eight years and never on leisure. What a wonderfully hot and diverse place this is...but oh so expensive!

We have had some great food (not much wine though since a decent bottle in a restaurant costs $150 plus...thank goodness we brought four bottles with us), and covered most of the tourist type activities. The one military point of interest was the Battle Box in Fort Canning Park. 

This was the command and control centre built 9 meters beneath the ground on Fort Canning hill and was the post from which General Percival directed the battle for the Malay Peninsula. Up to 300 men  worked in this facility. They have done a great job of preserving the place with mannequins replicating the functions associated with many of the rooms - the comms room, the aircraft plotting room, Percival's command room, and the surrender council. There are also some nice (short) video presentations about the operations in the far east. 

Each of the rooms was designed to be sealed, but in this tropical location, without the air-conditioning that they have today, it proved so hot and stuffy that they had to cut holes on the doors to allow airflow. For anyone visiting Singapore it is a very worthwhile place to visit, and not overly crowded - our group was only six people with a very knowledgeable young guide called Jerome. 

Just a couple of days left of the holiday then it is back home and back into the painting, since a parcel of Great War Crimeans is enroute to NZ.


  1. Enjoy the break, Mark. You're not missing anything weather-wise, that's for sure!

  2. So I have been reading...the end of the golden weather, eh? We have just sat through a fairly decent electrical storm here. Watching it from our room on the 18th floor it was just spectacular.

  3. Enjoy Singapore! My wife has been lobbying for a SE Asian trip although next foreign vacation will find us back in italy in the fall.

    1. Thanks Jonathan. Last day tomorrow. This will be our only trip this year (give or take a long weekend in Sydney - which is probably the equivalent of a weekend in San Francisco for you). The next major trip will be Europe late next year where I have scheduled some time in Metz so that I can visit the battlefields of Gravelotte and Mars-la-Tour...but very jealous of Italy...

  4. Hi Mark,

    Glad you enjoyed your break - sounds like a good time was had by all! Can also relate to your comments about the digital age quite well! Just for a change weather here in the UK has turned warm and dry!

    I've lagged behind on your recent posts, since I've had a busy few weeks and been away for work, but trying to catch up now! Your European trip sounds good for next year - funnily enough I'm just reading about Mars La Tour and Gravelotte St Privat and the countryside around our caravan seems very similar!

    Am trying to finish Austrians for 1866, mainly so I can arrange a game for July 3rd, 150th anniversary of Koniggratz. Strictly speaking they are 1859 Austrians (20mm plastics) but I'm not going to let that get in the way! Did a centenary game for Le Cateau two years ago and also one for the relief of the Peking Legations back in 2000 (seems like yesterday)!

    Hope you enjoy getting back to painting figures!



    1. Thanks John. Yes the holiday is over. Gone are the days of Singapore with 33-35 degree temperatures and back to a stormy and cold Auckland. I am looking forward to a visit to Metz next year although it is a long way off yet. In 2010 I had two weeks at a training course in Toulouse and had intended to visit the battlefields of Wissembourg and Froeschwieller on the weekend between the two weeks. Regrettably I was thwarted because all of the rental car companies nearby were closed on the Sunday, preventing me from returning the car, and I needed to be back in Toulouse early on the Monday.

  5. It sounds like your Singaporean jaunt my be over now ... which I've got to say is quite a relief for the me who has been working throughout!! 8O)

    I remember sitting in a Singaporean food court and sweltering. Being a Kiwi my flight response thought was to get the hell out of there and into the fresh air. It took herculean efforts to remain seated as I knew it was even worse out side. 8O)

    I sympathise with your thoughts on smart phones and their owners obsession with them. I've even observed a wargamer in a game seemingly more interested in their marvel of modern technology than in the game in front of them! Where will it end?

    Having said that I do have a smart phone which I use to catch up on my internet based reading on occasion. In fact I read most of your post on said smart phone while in the car waiting to pick up my son. What can I say? My apologies Mark!! 8O))

    von Peter himself

    1. Peter sure it doesn't take long for the holiday to fade - helped largely by the 178 emails that were sitting in my work inbox this morning. Don't get me wrong, I like the hot climates, better than the rain and wind we have today.

      You know the worst thing about my complaints about smart phones is that my trusty Nokia circa 2006 is ill, possibly terminally ill, and will most likely have to be replaced by a smart phone in the near future!