EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Monday, January 7, 2019

Friction vs Competence: A Case Study from Real Life

Over the weekend I've had the dubious pleasure of revisiting the old question of  friction vs  commander's competence including his planning and preparation and his reaction to events. There were no toy soldiers involved but the relevance stands.
If this post looks boring, please check out this rather fun little New Year's Eve game from 5 years a go.

To set the scene, we live in a rural area and are dependent on a shallow well pump for our primary source of water. This means we need 4 things to work:  water in the ground, electricity, a working pump and pipes that don't leak.

The ground water is largely beyond our control but we know that a dry summer can lead to a lower water table and so we conserve water and reduce and spread out our usage to reduce the drain on the well and store extra and collect rainwater so that even if the well goes dry for a short time, we are prepared to carry on.

The supply of electricity is also beyond control but even though outages are rare and usually a matter of a few hours at worst, we are always prepared to live up to a week or more without it.

The pump and plumbing however, are all up to us. I am not a DIY (do it yourself) sort of person because I enjoy it but partly because that's how I was raised and partly because we have chosen to put our efforts into living well with minimal expenditures.

OK so much for background, here is the event.

When the pump recently began cycling more often than it should it was a sign that there was a maintenance issue to be dealt with before it became a crisis. (apart from our own consumption  my wife requires water to run her dog grooming business). A week or so ago I ran through the process to recharge the water pressure tank but with little effect. This meant one of 2 things either I hadn't done a good job (with my level of DIY skills, still a not uncommon situation though less so as I gain experience) or the pressure tank seal had a small leak which would eventually lead to failure. Now if a failure were to occur it would normally occur at the most awkward time possible so I decided to have another go at a time when I knew we could be off line for a day or two in worst case but also thought through my options should it not work. 

Still with me?

Well, the 2nd attempt led to failure so onto the back up plan. We have a spare pump that was connected to an old rain cistern which is no longer in use. I shifted the plumbing connections over, cursing over the assortment of hose sizes and jury rigging, mostly inherited and the awkward, damp, dark space. Eventually I was done, flipped the power on, there was a bit of a snap, the breaker tripped and it was then that my mind drifted to activation rolls and cards.

At this point  friction, even though foreseen had succeeded in  delaying me but not stopping me. I had a cunning plan up my sleeve. I started to connect the good pump to the good pressure tank. At that point my propane torch suddenly stopped working. What?!  I got out my spare, it roared into life but I couldn't control the flame. Yikes!! What the hell, I went for a 3rd.....hmm thought I had another one here somewhere....
Restoring the water was going to have to wait until the next day and activation rolls/cards were really on my mind!

It was to late to go buy a replacement so we had to make due with our back up water supplies which are wisely my wife's area of control and thus ample.  The next day I popped out bought a new torch and a shut off valve to isolate the well the next time I wanted to work on the pump and in no time we were up and running.

So, was this a series of bad activation rolls or card draws  beyond the general's influence or was it a combination of poor combat rolls backed by a failure by the general to have done better planning and preparation?

Skirmish on the border
Thanks for hanging in. Next up, its time to get some littler bows and spears out and onto the table for a game. A game at least once in 3 years or out you go!! 

19 comments:

  1. Was there blasphemy ? , I always find my DIY involves a fair share of short sharp expletives ! .

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am extremely envious of your DIY skills. If it had happened to me one of two things would have happened: the house would have been flooded or the propane torch would have lit the place on fire! Well done!
    Jerry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its been a long learning process just to get to the point were things look a little wonky but work.

      Delete
  3. This reminds me of those times, thus far relatively few here in Michigan, when ice and snow or high winds, have led to power outages of (sometimes) several days. We have an emergency generator that runs on either gasoline or propane, but getting it up and running is an experience in holding your breathe and making sure everything is set up and connected juuuuust right. Otherwise, explosion, fire, and (likely) injury can result. It's not for the faint of heart I can tell you.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're waiting for the propane ones get cheaper. For now the woodstove, some jugs of water and some books put us on a par with the family that built the house originally.

      Delete
  4. By the way, I just love your Prinz August armies (I reread the original post). I've never seen these figures up close and in the flesh, so to speak, but that have tickled my fancy since I first learned of them when The Duncan Company sent me a catalog in the fall of 1982. Were I not put off by working with molten metal, I would have vast armies of them by now.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like to think of my boxes of moulds as vast reserves that can be called up when needed.

      Delete
  5. When I read the combination of "the awkward, damp, dark space" and "Eventually I was done, flipped the power on, there was a bit of a snap", I immediately assumed you had been electrocuted. Glad that was not the case!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had one or two very minor shocks in my time. VERY good learning experiences.

      Delete
  6. This is a supply issue, for all the parts needed for the action were 'in place' yet not fully functional.

    Like when the Germans re-jigged the Panzer divisions on the eastern front in 1942, yet did not allow for more actual tanks to be built, or supply lines to exist for them. Suddenly there's more divisions to move around on the map, yet each one is less than half effective due to lack of ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you're right but since the supplies were also under my control, it was also an avoidable command failure. Poor preparation to have not periodically tested equipment not used in several years.

      Delete
    2. Not to worry though, you have resolved the issue and within the time and supply limits of your system.

      That makes this a win!

      Just not an Outstanding Victory.

      Delete
  7. Well, the cost in operations points seems to have been rather high, but it seems that your cohesion levels were rock solid: give yourself an "elite" in that category!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Ross,
    Yes life on the land can at times be testing- it is good that you are an independent type who can solve problems. I can fix most things though draw the line at 'electrical problems'....Cheers. KEV.

    ReplyDelete
  9. All you can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best! those horse archers are very nice are they Mongol cavalry?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Garrison 25mm Hyrkanians...just the thing for an imaginary setting.

    ReplyDelete