Saturday, January 24, 2015

Achtung, Panzer!

Onto happier things.
Like building models.
Not having a layout these days is evolving into a dangerous thing. I'm building plastic armour models again. I built a few in my teens, back when Tamiya was king. My how things have changed. There's lots of kit makers out there who can actually make Tamiya look bad.
Dragon Models of Hong Kong for one. Dragon includes etched brass parts and really nice individual link tracks in their kits. Far cry from the old "rubber band" tracks we used to sweat with.
Over the last couple of weeks I built this lovely PzKpw IV Ausf J.

Simply put it was a lot of fun and a nice departure from my usual activities. Painting and weathering armour is whole different thought process from freight cars. You have to plan your moves as you build. Weathering the hull behind the road wheels can be tricky if the road wheels are mounted. Tracks need to assembled, painted and weathered before being mounted. Tools require special treatment as well. It's good for the brain to tackle different problems.
I said this might be dangerous, well I have a JagdPanther to finish. A F6f , M4A3 and a M2a1 as well to build. And there's the 1/72 scale model of the LC(I)L my grandfather commanded for the Normandy invasion to finish as well.
So many models, so little time.

Free Trade! My A**

Yesterday, while trying to get to the Amherst Railway Society Train Show in Springfield, I was held at the US border for 3.5 hours and in the end decided to turn around and go home. The CBP agent was requesting documentation from me that I did not have and was not readily available at home for my wife to fax to me.
The issue mostly seemed to be that my kit boxes and parts bags were not marked with "Made in Canada". Technically he is correct but I have yet to establish if that label would be correct. In truth all the kit parts are sourced from US suppliers and I box them. Which is why my importation paperwork stated the goods as US origin.
The agent then asked for copies of my invoices from said suppliers. It was at that point I said forget it, I'm going home. It would take me a hour or more of going through my files to dig out the requested paperwork, not something I could have asked my wife to do.
This agent was bound and determined to not let me into the USA, I am convinced. I'm also a tad miffed at my broker since they're are paid to assist me with having correct paper work.
I do not understand the obstructive attitude that US CBP agents have towards small business attempting to enter the US. It's not like I'm smuggling drugs, guns, or human slaves.
A small model railroad business is a threat to the US economy and it's post 2014 recovery?
I have tried talking to US officials about entry requirements and have been treated with contempt and downright rudeness. These people who adjudicate the rules are under no obligation, it seems, to explain the rules or direct you to one who can.
And try and find a Canadian official who will explain the requirements for package labeling.
What I need to know really is at what point in the process dose my efforts convert US origin goods into a Canadian origin product. And if not how should the package be labeled? Do I now have to travel with a stack of invoices from my suppliers to prove where the grabirons, brake parts and turnbuckles come from?
When I was a child in school, we were taught that Canada and the US hosted the worlds longest undefended border. And that our "friendship" was the envy of the world.
To which, today, I say "really?" Try running a business in North America.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Crickey! It's only a week away

The annual Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show in Springfield, MA.
I'll be there in the same location as last year, Mallary 129 A.
I'll have a good supply of kits and lots of etched parts.
If we can get our ducks in a row, Ted Culotta of Speedwitch Media fame, will be there Saturday sharing part of my table with a supply of his kits as well.
Maybe this year I'll be able to actually do some shopping, as I have help with me this time. Not that I need anything.
Come and see me, if you're around. If only to chat.

Monday, January 12, 2015

So Very Angry, Indeed

It turns out I was rather premature in my hopes about my internet connection.
Over the weekend it started dropping out again. On Sunday, 6 times in 4 hours.
Bell sent yet another technician over Sunday afternoon and we played around with a few options, but he was adamant that it was a bad internal wire. So I hauled the modem and the router back into the basement and he installed a new jack and wire adjacent to the entry point of the phone wire and we were back in business.
Not an hour after he left the connection failed again!
I am now done with Bell. I have contacted my ISP and we'll be going over to internet on cable. Once that is setup, phone service will switch over to Voice on the internet and eventually the satellite service will get switched to cable.
3 service guys all come in and come up with 3 different diagnosis, none of which actually fix the problem. And the real kicker is that none them would consider looking at what I believe the issue to be. The underground wire outside, that I suspect was nicked when some drainage work was done here 2 months ago just before this all started.
It's almost as annoying as being disintegrated.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Internet Woes Solved?

I hope so.
For over 2 months now I've been having a rather annoying problem with my service. My internet connection would fail and then restore shortly thereafter. Very random, very intermittent. Very disconcerting.
Now to their credit, my ISP, "", worked with me through the whole painful process. They replaced the modem. They ran all kinds of diagnostics. They monitored my line for days.
The phone company came out at one point and ran checks on the phone line. They told me it was all fine, had to be an issue with the ISP.
I had both the techs at the ISP and the phone company trying to tell me that it was an internal house wiring issue. I refused to accept that diagnosis. For 2 reasons. One, I had rewired the house 15 years ago, and the phone wire I used was high quality wire, not that cheap shit the phone companies like to use. And 2, when on the phone there were no crackles, buzzes, hums, etc. In fact I'd been on the phone to the ISP working this problem when the service would cut out and there was no noise at all on the line.
In a fit of desperation, the other day I moved the modem and the router from my office to the basement. So now the only internal wire in use was a 12" length from the entry block to the first jack. I had to reconfigure my desktop to access my internal WIFI network. (Yes, I had forgotten one password). If anything the problem was worse.
Back on the phone to the ISP and I described the latest steps taken. They agreed to have the phone company come back. This technician felt that there was some resistance on the line and decided to swap the pair of wires in use for phone service.(The phone wire under the ground has 4 conductors, of which only 2 are used). He did the swap, went to the switching hub, rejigged my phone hookup and now it's been 24 hours without a connection failure.
Funny how the first technician couldn't see what the second guy saw.
This is my pet peeve about "high tech".
The hardware guy says it's a software problem.
The software guy says it's a hardware problem.
I wind up paying for a non functioning service.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Business as Usual

The layout maybe gone and just a little debris on the floor to clean up, the model building business must and does continue.
While there will be a hiatus once we move and the new shop gets built, I have to continue to serve my clientele.
This guy and the car behind will go into the mail tomorrow. Talk about a blast from the past. This Mather patent boxcar is a very early Sunshine offering. Nasty yellow resin and the C channels had to be built up using styrene strip. But the end result still stands the test of time.
It's a very nice looking car. I do like the rather unique paint job. More like a reefer than a boxcar.
Good job Martin, wherever you are.