Saturday, November 29, 2008

Too Much of Good Thing?

A Swedish boy collapses after playing Warcraft for 24 hours.
While I love wargaming as much as the next gamer, I also like to eat & sleep too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pumpkin Desserts for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! While I leave the headlines behind today, my thoughts & prayers go out to the victims of a world in turmoil.

I'm thankful for the pleasant times I get to spend with family and friends.

And what better way to cap-off good times than with a good dessert!

I came across this video-slide show about Costco's pumpkin pie manufacturing.

Despite the "Metropolis" style mass-production, Costco bakeries turn out delicious treats and are a favorite source for crowd-pleasing goodies. Their "Costco-sized" pies weigh-in at about 3 pounds each!

Costco ramping-up pumpkin pie production for T-Day (Turkey Day):

In addition to pumpkin pie, there's a few pumpkin-based treats I love almost as much chocolate. This time of year, even more-so.

There's pumpkin bread:

A grocery chain called "Top Food & Drug" makes the best manufactured pumpkin bread I've ever tasted. I can eat half a loaf in one sitting--and gain 3+ pounds as a result, which is why I usually steer clear of the bakery section. (Once in a while I give in to temptation).

However, my all-time favorite pumpkin-based dessert is the pumpkin-roll. Imagine the taste of pumpkin-bread and cheesecake filling all "rolled" into one and topped with powdered sugar. Talk about the best of both worlds here! I actually haven't had this in years. Which may be just as well, because I could eat half a roll of this too.

I hope all of you have an enjoyable holiday meal with family, friends and whatever desserts you decide to satisfy your sweet-tooth with.

The Blitz on London & Great Fire of 1940

This is the picture I mentioned in my previous post.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today in History

JFK was assasinated 45 years ago today:

Here, he's picture on board PT-109 during WWII.

I was only 2 years old when JFK was shot, so I don't remember this at all. However, I was 5 years old when Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were both killed and I remember the media response quite vividly. Both of these assassinations are then my earliest recollection of national tragedies.

Malta Convoy Game, Sitrep #1:

"Sitrep" is military jargon for "Situation Report." The situation so far:

9 Aug 1942: Convoy WS.21S assembles at Gibraltar.

10 Aug: The convoy along with 4 other task forces sets sail heading ESE and manages to avoid Axis naval & air units throughout the day an evening. (For those of you with the Game "Bomb Alley" the course is as follows: G21, H21,I21, J21, K21, L20)

0800 hours, 11 Aug: A German FW-200 "Kondor"recon plane spots Task Force "R" ("Refueling," in M20).

1200 hours, 11 Aug: Another Kondor spots Convoy WS.21S and it's close escort Force "X" (N19).

0400 hours, 12 Aug: 2xGerman U-boats and 3xItalian submarines close in on the British task forces.

Stay tuned...

Operation Pedestal Game Prep:

A couple of weeks ago I started filming my next YouTube movie: "Braving Bomb Alley." It's a WWII naval miniatures game based on Operation Pedestal--the decisive convoy to Malta in August 1942. As of now I have about 3.5 minutes worth of pictures. YouTube has about a 10-minute time limit, so this game/movie is going to be a multi-part series.

Because of my rotating work schedule, I'll be playing this solitaire, based on this freeware game I came across on the Webgrognards site:

With some modifications I'll be using this for the encounter matrix. But I'll use Avalanche Press's "Bomb Alley" to conduct the actual strategic movement:

Tactical encounters will be resolved using Mongoose Publishing "Victory at Sea"

And the actual miniatures will be Wizard's of the Coast's "Axis & Allies: War atSea/Task Force"

This game's objective will be to get the SS Ohio (an oil tanker) and 4 other freighters, out of a 14-ship convoy, to Malta.

The "Studio"

Here is my "studio." In reality it's our family room. I currently have it set up to run & film the next Stern Rake Studio Production--a World War II naval campaign game. The TV and bookshelves on the far wall are covered by a sky-blue colored felt blanket, which I use for my back-drop. The playing table near the back-drop is where the tactical battles will be played out. Strategic manuevering is conducted on the table in the foreground. The map itself and the playing pieces are from Avalanche Press' "Bomb Alley," which is part of their Second World War at Sea series. No major engagements have occurred so far, but that is about to change...

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Blog By Any Other Name...

When I produced my Made-For-YouTube movie, "The Road to Eggmuehl." I wanted a cool-sounding name for my "production company." However, I also didn't want a name that was already taken and would give me legal migraines later on. At first I picked "Rank & File Productions," a name I thought befitting a low, or more accurately, insignificant-buget film. Strike 1! "Rank & File" is the name of some Reggae band. Then I thought of "Carronade Productions," named after a small, but deadly naval gun used in the late-18th & early 19th Centuries. I thought this was an appropriate name for my "short, but effective" film. Strike 2! There's already a "Carronade Production Company" somewhere here in the US. However, by now I was warming-up to my naval theme and happened to remember the term "stern rake." Third time's the charm, even on Google. And thus, Stern Rake Studio was born!

The picture at the header is of the French frigate Poursuivante firing upon the British ship Hercule, from Wikipedia. A decent definition can also be found on the same page:

About the Gaming Links

Wargaming: This has been my #1 hobby since my brother bought me Avalon Hill's "Kriegspiel" for one of my teen-birthdays. Wargames can be played with cardboard counters and a map, highly detailed and painted miniature figures and model terrain, or even just paper and pencil; and now, of course, on the computer or game console. The myriad of wargames currently available simulate conflicts ranging from the Neolithic Era to the speculative far-future. In this table-top realm, one can lead vast armies in boardgames, or bands of doughty warriors in miniature wargames, or be a valiant hero on a quest to vanquish evil--or get rich--in role-playing games. Prior to the Information Age, these were the first historical interactive tools: Why read a dull book about a battle when you can feel the adrenaline rush by re-fighting it?

For more information about Wargaming see:

For Role-Playing Games (RPGs) see:

For Miniature Wargaming see:

About the Writing & Author Links

I'm an aspiring writer and belong to the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association. To date, I've written several articles for historical wargaming magazines and newsletters. These include: "The Citadel," "After-Action Review," "Miniature Wargames" and "Historical Miniature Gamer (HMG)." A couple of months ago (Sep 08), I uploaded a slide-show movie on to "YouTube." I titled it "The Road to Eggmuehl" and it's listed below in the "Stern Rake Studio Productions" Section. You can view a small thumb-nail version of my 8.5 minute film debut here. (Or you can log on to YouTube and get a better picture). This movie is of a Napoleonic wargame I played & filmed during our regional "Enfilade!" wargame convention.

I have one article due-out in the next issue of HMG and possibly another one in the new "Battlegames" magazine. In the meantime I'm working on another Made-For-YouTube movie. My upcoming production is about a World War II naval campaign in the Mediterranean.

Every author needs a mentor and attached are some of my favorites. Even some of the deceased ones have websites run by the publising company or estate. The list should be longer, but a number of authors, even the ones who're still alive, are avoiding cyberspace technology.

Radio Links

Since I spend nearly an hour per day commuting, I have plenty of time to search the airwaves for songs & music I like--or at least tolerate. My tastes range from smooth jazz, to 80's music, to New Age, to Top-40. Although I've yet to find a radio station that plays movie soundtracks (which is the largest category in my CD collection).

About the History, Humor & Comics Links

"Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it." I've found different variations of this famous quote but I've been unable to discover who first said it. Anyway, this catagory will be for interesting historical and history-related sites.

"If we didn't laugh, we'd all go insane!" How often have you said that, especially in the midst of a chaotic or stressful situation? The links here, mostly dealing gaming and political humor are here to "provide the best medicine" for your day.

I love comic books and graphic novels! But my wargaming hobby consumes my time--and money--and fills up the bookshelves. So as much as I love them, I don't have the time, space or funds to invest in them. As a consolation, I've enterained myself with on-line comics. The links here are to some of my favorites. (BTW, if you need a quote, how about: "With great power comes great responsibilty." These words were spoken by Peter Parker's Uncle Ben in "Spiderman").

About the Pictures

The pictures at the bottom of this blog are of the USS Constitution, or "Old Ironsides" as she was nicknamed. Launched in 1797, the ship distinguished itself in battle against the French in the Quasi-War, Barbary Pirates in the First Barbary War and finally against the British in the War of 1812. Undefeated in battle, Old Ironsides was overtaken by the Industrial Revolution and converted to a training ship prior to the American Civil War. At the dawn of the Twentieth Century, Congress authorized the Constitution's restoration, but--typically--not the funds. The ship continued to deteriorate as Congress, the US Navy and private organizations argued over who was going to foot any restoration bills. This was finally settled in 1954 by an act of Congress making the Secretary of the Navy responsible for the ship's upkeep. These pictures were taken during my brother's retirement ceremony which was held on-board. This was especially memorable since this was the first time my entire family was together in over 20 years!

For more information see:

The Christening of Stern Rake Studio

Welcome to my blog! I've spent the last couple of weeks (Nov 08) playing with the format, adding links, pictures and any other doo-dad I can think of. As I've mentioned in the Header and About-Me Sections, the "Prime Directive" of this blog will be to keep my family, friends, acquaintances and even perfect strangers updated on my writing and gaming projects. The secondary goal is to keep visitors informed about world events, especially about my primary concern--our war against terror. However, I don't want this blog dominated by the gloom & doom of today's headlines. Also, many visitors will have no interest whatsoever in wargaming. So I've added several links to humorous and entertainment websites for the casual browser. Thank you for visiting! Sincerely, Ted