It's taken most of the year, but my New Year's Resolution to get out of the grocery store and into a better job, has finally born fruit.
I had come to the realization that the grocery store had no future for me for the past two years. If I was a 20-something I could hang in with the low wages and wait for an opportunity to become a sales rep or management at a bigger store. But the Boss was already paying me as much as he could, which isn't much. And I need to start being able to set some money aside for silly things like a new roof and a pension plan.
I had been sort of kinda looking for other work and networking with the sales reps, but in January I decided to get serious and set a goal of seeking out and applying to at least one job per week. I changed my focus to include local manufacturers that didn't hire through temp agencies. Started getting some interviews. Which even though they all resulted in rejections I took as a good sign that at least people were hiring again and that I was doing an effective job with my resume and cover letter.
Now I just needed to not screw up the interview.
I had one interview with my old employer, where I was told the job was mine to refuse. But it was 15 months without benefits, straight afternoons (with little chance of getting off) and a good chance of a lay-off in 8 months anyway. No thanks.
Another company I thought would've been great but I messed up the interview. Got some good feedback from the HR person though.
Right after I heard back from that job prospect I found a job for a large bearing plant here in town, so I applied and got asked for an interview the next day. I had applied for an opening in Quality Assurance but she called and asked if I'd be interested in Production. Sure. No harm in seeing what they offer. Starting at $15/hr (which is $2 more than I'm making now) and benefits start after the first month (which is very cool). I said I'd like to be able to give 2 weeks notice. I didn't get a job offer. After a month I got an email saying they had filled all their immediate positions but would I like to stay on file for something in the future?
Indeed, yes I would.
This week, my youngest who had also been working at the grocery store, started a new job. So I no longer felt the need to worry about how I would leave things for her and changed my availability to immediate. A job offer was waiting for me in my email when I got home the next day asking if I could start on Monday.
I've accepted and just told the Boss. He was quite understanding.
I will miss the nice customers, not being dirty and my co-workers. I also rather liked running my little kingdom in the Dairy aisle.
I won't miss the bitchy customers, the 1000kg skids with no power jack and working weekends and holidays.
So now that I won't feel I have to spend my free time seeking out a job, maybe I can concentrate on painting and the store. I also noticed that I was much more creative when I was in the factory, so maybe I can get some of that back again too.
My long time friend and Commanding Officer, Chris, got a set of Mess Dress last year off Kajiji (a Canadian items for sale/bartering website) and got enthused about putting me into Mess Kit for this year's Mess Dinner season. He found some but they were either too expensive for my limited funds or the tailoring would be too expensive.
My other friend, Don Perrin, has been retired from the Canadian army for a few years now and had no use for his, so together they conspired to get me into some formal attire. Don donated his old Mess uniform and Chris paid to have it re-tailored. Don was in the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, so the epaulets, collar dogs and buttons needed changing, plus the shoulders on the jacket needed to be brought in a lot!
I just got it back from the tailor's on Friday and decided to try it on today, even though it needs to be pressed. I'm trying to look suitably Victorian.
But since Don is a bigger fellow, it has lots of room for me to grow sideways! Fortunately I won't be promoted before the Army switches over to the traditional crowns and pips for officers rank next year so it should only need to go back to the tailors once.
I haven't been ignoring you. I've just been stupidly busy.
This past month I've been on my Intermediate Officer's Training Course, to get me ready to take on a more senior leadership position in the cadet corps. Three weekends of fun, professional development, power points and lectures at the Regional Cadet Instruction School at sunny CFB Borden.With this course and filling the Training Officer slot I'll be promotable to Captain in another year.
It's been highly enjoyable going to Borden, learning more stuff and meeting more fellow CIC officers, even if it has eaten up my days off and the quarters and meal arrangements were less commodious than on previous courses. Better than the lean-to and ration packs on my field craft course though!
Our new quarters were, I'm sure, state of the art in 1956, but having to walk down the hall to use the toilet in the middle of the night wasn't so great. Plus we're no longer attached to the Officer's Mess, so the 10 minute walk in the cold to get to the wet mess on our off evening was unpleasant in inclement weather. It did take me past the Worthington Tank Museum and I got to pat a Centurion Mk V on the fender, which was pretty cool.
Our school building is in an old hanger off in the technical end of the base, so I drive by the various engineering trade schools which have all kinds of interesting things displayed out front or in one instance, tucked in a yard under a tarp was a Sherman ARV and beside it a Ferret armoured car.
I've also been pursuing employment opportunities and have even gotten a few interviews, which I'm taking as a sign that things are looking better in Stratford.
I haven't however, touched a brush since September and only got one game in during October. The Mad Padre came over with the new Lardy rules Chain of Command on his tablet and we gave them a go with his 1/72nd scale figures. We each took a platoon and fought over a crossroads with a couple of ruined houses. I like the way the dice worked to create interesting decision points and combat was pretty straightforward. Without having purchased or read the rules yet (I'm waiting until I get the hard copy in stock in the store) I'm already pondering how to do Canadian operations in the Panjwai...
So I'm hoping this month, once I get a few other things out of the way, to have a few more gaming and painting bench posts.
I'm sure some of you noticed in my last game report the big rectangles of orange paper, with finest Sharpie graphics, that I was using for blinds.
I certainly noticed, and resolved to improve upon them.
So the other day I spent a few minutes at the computer. The graphics were simple and anyone with Microsoft Word can do them.
I just made a text box with a 4 point border and rounded corners that covered half a page, and then repeated the process. This reminded me of the tactical signs used on maps and TO&Es so I was happy. If I could figure out a way to break the top of the box and insert the three dots for a platoon, I'd be even happier. But that I suspect would involve using Paint or some such.
Into the text boxes I first added some line returns. This is important since it lets you move stuff about. I then inserted some graphics; either a basic German balken kreuze or a negative image of an Allied air recognition star that I found easily using Google Image Search:
Then text "Allied Blind 1" or "German Blind 1" was added over top using a font and size I liked and I made sure everything was centered. I just changed the number each time I printed and printed them off on laser transparency sheets until I had 10 blinds for each side.
A few minutes with scissors to cut them out et voila!
On my bare table top
On top of some terrain
I hope the transparency sheeting makes them a little less intrusive than other options. They are supposed to represent hidden units after all!
I'd thought about doing different divisional badges or Canadian regimental cap badges for each blind, but I realized that would drive me mad since I'd have to readjust the centering with EACH sheet.
Plus, I might do Brits or even possibly Americans some day, so the Allied star works for all concerned. I suppose if I ever do Soviets then they'd object and I'll have to do some blinds featuring big Red Stars. But that's easily sorted.
I finally sussed out how to turn some scrap fun fur into grain fields.
Mrs Rabbitman used to make dolls and puppets and I kept some scraps of the fur, thinking to make thatched cottages and such out of them.
Well, my Medieval village is now looking pretty good thanks to the 4Ground and Perry cottages, saving me the trouble of making more cottages. So I thought I could turn them into fields of standing grain useful for everything from foraging Romans to roaming Panzers on the steppes.
The trouble is the colours of said fun fur were not very grainy. One piece was white. The other pieces were striped grey and off-white. Although this made for some very nice Big Bad Wolves, fields of standing grain it does not.
How to colour it? At first I thought tea, but the fibers are synthetic and I didn't think the tea would hold. Then I remembered my pail of chocolate brown latex paint I used for all my Northwest Frontier mountains and rocks. I thinned some of that down in a big bucket and soaked the pieces. The solution was I fear too watery and it ran off, so I ended up pouring paint right on and smudging it around with my rubber gloved hands.
Here are the results hanging to dry in the yard.
Not a promising start...
The piece on the far right of the picture started out white and got the heaviest rubbing in of brown paint. The piece on the left got the lightest treatment. You'll notice the drizzling of brown paint turning the lawn brown.... fortunately Mrs. Rabbitman doesn't care about having a perfect golf green lawn either!
The Mad Padre inspected my Work In Progress rather dubiously last night. But today I took them back outside and gave them a good misting of Krylon satin finish Almond spray paint.
And got this:
The piece in the upper right corner is the formerly white chunk of fur. It is heavily matted. So it will either represent grain heavily trampled by cavalry charges or rampaging tanks, or it will just be rough scrub in the Backest of Beyonds.
I couldn't resist setting up a quick vignette to see how photogenic my new grain fields are:
Hmmm... looking a bit too much like fur
Well, better from this angle
Well, not bad. Didn't cost me anything. I need to spend a bit more time with a brush getting everything standing up again.