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  1. Message board sources claim that early M113s were simply white inside, rather than the pale green seen in M113s for most of their service life. I like using Archer dry transfers, and eagerly employed their M113 interior markings, but in retrospect these might be for later units. Perhaps I should have stuck to Tamiya's old decals. Now, I need to figure out how to add and arrange some interior stuff, visible through the open hatches. If I build the vehicle on exercise, my sources suggest that the units participating in Big Lift drew ammunition just like a war situation. I neglected to add seat cushions, and am now tempted to do so, although I think that would have been better done before painting!
  2. An Update. I still need to complete the infantrymen, but the BRDM guy is done.
  3. I sense that we're about to get a new crop of M113 kits from Asian manufacturers, which is fantastic news. Meantime, I figured I'd go one last round with Tamiya's ancient kit. I built a lot of these, including a few as a kid. When I didn't have a lot of money, it was good value, as it includes a basic interior and has potential for improvement by a determined modeler. The included '60s-'70s era U.S. infantry aren't bad, and could be used to easily depict other nation's troops as well. This time around, I'm building toward a 36th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Division M113 "slick" in late summer/early autumn 1963, just before the Big Lift Exercise in Germany. At that point these machines were new, having been issued to Spearhead along with M60 tanks. In Exercise Big Lift, 3AD played the bulk of the bad guys, combining new hardware, fictitious tactical nuclear weapons, and an aggressive spirit to give BLUE forces an appropriately dangerous adversary. I might put the maneuver markings on if I can get a color photograph confirming what color(s) they were. I don't have a lot of references for very-early M113s, so I'm flying blind and will probably commit some anachronisms. But I want to take advantage of the kit's interior, so I'll risk a few inaccuracies that only modelers would care about. From Dragon's "Remagen" set I've taken a 1st Army infantryman, and am updating his battle-rattle for the 1960s. He's been transferred to the Kennedy era, so his childhood was in postwar prosperity, rather than the Great Depression. The older generation carped that comic books and Elvis Presley's dance moves made him a "juvenile delinquent," but he seems to be well-adjusted enough. More controversially, he trades his M1 Garand for an M14 rifle - a good swap?
  4. Past the simplest examples (insert current date) using codes in Microsoft Word is just awful. Breathtakingly unfriendly syntax. Really, I'd rather be stabbed than be compelled to install a code that, for example, delivers the name of the previous month in a document. And this from a guy who loves figuring out complex formulae in Excel, and when he is not modeling, is learning a programming language.
  5. I'm trying to decide if I'm an uncultured barbaric simpleton or an adaptable, grateful non-complainer because I don't have strong opinions on pizza quality. Trying to order pizza with friends, family, and coworkers can be an ordeal when many in the crowd insist that a variety of pizza places are unacceptable. The crust is not good, they say, or the pizza is cooked wrong, or this one time in the past they had a bad experience, or they prefer some specialty pizza otherwise unavailable at most other places, and so on. Because of such demanding standards we're left with ordering from some place far away, that doesn't deliver, and still manages to not have the pizza finished after I've hacked and chopped my way through traffic to get there to pick it up. I'm not saying I have no opinion. I prefer local places to national chains, and will draw the line at gas station or snack bar slices. But I'm always the most flexible in the group when we're trying to decide where to order from, and...does it have to be this difficult? Pizza is hardly fine dining. If you're that meticulous about your food, put some going-out clothes on and go to a proper sit-down, cloth-napkin restaurant rather than order something that comes to you in cardboard, and is made by poorly-paid teenagers.
  6. After trying this with their acrylic lacquers, I don't often use their alcohol-based thinner anymore. The lacquer stuff speeds up drying to such an extent that I can mask over paint just after cleaning the airbrush. This means very quick painting, and the finish seems pretty hard, too.
  7. idea for a 72nd scale sheet

    This is the big problem with my enormous supply of unbuilt and partially-built kits. It's the reason I've sold some in the past, but I still have quite a few I'm increasingly doubtful I'll build. I'm now trying to stop buying new kits until I finish some builds. About the very best that can be said about my hobby shop-like shelves is that I have a large supply of figure parts and accessories for armor modeling. If, for example, I'm building a Soviet-era ZSU-23, I can on a whim decide to make in the centerpiece of a small diorama. I can find figure parts, Kalashnikov rifles, and possibly even a UAZ car without having to order them. If I'm build an airplane kit, I like to have the bombs or missiles on hand to work with, rather than have to buy them. What increasingly drives my stash growth now is frustration when I don't have something I want, because it's out of production, and expensive (if at all available) on Ebay. It seems that among Cold War subjects, both AFV and aircraft can go long stretches where a kit in my usual scales is simply scarce. So when something I want to build appears, I buy it so I have it for later. This can be a mistake if another manufacturer produces a much better kit of the same subject. But I can usually just visit message boards where people badmouth the new kit to reassure me that my old one is still the one to build!
  8. I'll tell you another thing that's overrated: Boba Fett. He got a lucky break in Empire, and then had an entire backstory written in comic books and tabletop gaming manuals to try to make him seem awesome. Well now the party's over, chumps. Disney, in their typically Stalinist fashion, is now telling you that none of that "expanded universe" of your cherished (nerdy, introverted) childhood is "canon" anymore. That's right. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, none of it ever $&*#ing happened. It was all just rumors and innuendo. If I can no longer consider X-Wing comics or Tim Zahn's novels canon, then you have to give up all the over-the-top garbage penned about Fett. Merry Christmas everyone!
  9. Because there's nothing like a meal that is barely-above-bar-snack quality. The tepid chicken noodle soup was slopped from a can, and augmented with tap water. The B-team prep cook assembled the salad following the parsimonious orders from the daytime kitchen manager: a hunk of badly cut up iceberg lettuce, a single cherry tomato, two slices of cucumber, and a pile of dried out, 3-day old carrot shavings. The main course is a club sandwich long on lettuce and indifferently-toasted wonder bread, and short on turkey, bacon, cheese, or the chef's self-respect. The Businessman, a hollow-eyed, tired soul, chews this garbage while wondering why he ever sneered at liberal arts majors in college, since now he loathes his own existence and wonders how much worse off he's really be if he'd majored in philosophy. In unrelated, but decidedly more positive news, retired Soviet Navy Captain Marco Ramius is featured on the cover of Micro-Mark's Christmas Catalog. Good to see he found hobby. That's important for retirement.
  10. This can be a sinister means by which the CoV can strike at the very heart of Moaidom. Let's flood their homeland with bored professionals who, though traveling on the company dime, would really have rather had the weekend they're going to lose to traveling home and jet lag, for their own purposes. The only thing worse that irritating tourists is irritable tourists.
  11. ...and on that subject, let's not be too hasty to write off the wedding racket. Sure, the name "Coalition of the Violent" might not suggest, at first glance, the ideal planning, catering, and decorating organization for your Very Special Day. But we can create a subsidiary firm with a flowery name. With 1200% markup on food, folding chair rentals, linens, and organizational tasks such as making phone calls and tracking things in a spreadsheet, this could be a significant revenue stream for the CoV.
  12. Conferences! This is how to make money! The CoV can hold "Summits" and "Meetups" where we charge a fortune for attendance fees. I mean nosebleed expensive, here. Like $2400 bucks. Most attendees will get their employer to pay for it, anyway. Then, we'll all lead sessions where we basically rehash folksy talking points about leadership or strategy, scraped from business strategy books ghostwritten by CEOs or financiers. (You know, the books with some old guy on the cover with a firm grin and folded arms. But if we wanted to lower production costs, we'll just use quotes allegedly from NFL coaches instead.) Or run "workshops" were we basically teach, in lecture style, technical skills easily learned from YouTube videos. ("Understanding layers in Photoshop." "Office Online for Your Team.") Or perhaps have inane, irritating parlor games designed to demonstrate some insight originally put forth by some organizational psychologist eighty years ago, who has suddenly become trendy again (that is, until somebody recalls that he performed sinister experiments on prison inmates, without their knowledge, or made remarks supportive of the National Socialists in Germany.) Plus we'll hand out barely useful swag, such as notepads, stick pens, USB drives, and uninsulated water bottles, all packaged in poorly made, awkwardly-sized totes. We shouldn't spend too much effort on the sessions. Wherever we host the conference, most "attendees" will spend the day as tourists rather than actually participate in the conference. Cheap or dangerous cities are fine as locations, just so long as the hotel we choose has a decent bar. Their "tourism" can be spending the day there. We can charge an extra "enhanced experience fee" to supply a list of posts they can put on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin throughout the day, so their bosses think they're actually in sessions. As near as I can tell, in 2016 the only thing that's more lucrative than the above is supplying goods or services for weddings.
  13. True on both counts. So you'd think the CoV should have been able to attract the lockstep loyalty of millions of followers, like political parties (and professional wrestlers) have done in many countries around the world. Really, where did we go wrong? If this were still 2006, I'd have suggested we needed a vast internal bureaucracy of professionals with highly-specialized education, who in turn generate millions of PowerPoint slides. But let's be honest; we never had the budget for highly-specialized professionals anyway, so that would have been borrowed money, and they'd have been shown the door sometime around 2009 or 2010. Plus, to stay "cutting edge," we'd have then "hired" unpaid interns to convert all that .pptx to Prezi sometime around 2013, which would have resulted in many cases of motion sickness at meetings and in conference sessions. Following that, Prezi would have discovered that our "" email addresses were phony attempts to get lower educational pricing for our accounts, and then would have locked us out of our presentations.