Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in my corner of west-central Florida on Thursday, November 18, 2021. It’s a cool – but not chilly – late fall day. The current temperature is 71˚F (22˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 90% and the wind blowing from the west at 1 MPH (2 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 70˚F (22˚C). The forecast for today calls for rain and a high of 77˚F (25˚C). Tonight, scattered rain showers will affect our area. The low will be 66˚F (19˚C).
Today’s post is titled Thursday Potpourri because I have a few topics I want to write about but not in “long-form” single-topic blog posts. I woke up early again – it’s clearly my lot in life to not get a good night’s sleep, I guess – and even though the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine did not kick my ass, I do feel tired and headachy. I still want to write, though; I just don’t want to chain myself to my desk all fucking day, y’know? At least not when all I feel like doing is sitting down to read a good book or watch a movie.
So, without further ado….let’s push on, shall we?
First order of business today: I found the pair of eyeglasses that I misplaced two days ago. I thought I lost them, perhaps permanently (they could have been mixed into a bag of trash that I took to the garbage can for the Wednesday morning pickup). Happily, that was not the case; they simply slipped inside one of my clothes cubby drawers, and because the cubby, the drawer, and the glasses’ frames are all black, it was hard to find those “missing” specs.
As is almost always the case when I “lose” things in this house, I have a tough time finding things when I’m looking for them. This is because I get upset, nervous, and don’t think rationally when I’m trying to find something, so I look for the missing item in a state of blind panic. It’s only when I chill out and not look for things that the “lost” glasses (or wallet, or house key) show up.
I found my glasses around 9 PM Eastern, so I was able to watch part of 2006’s Casino Royale – Daniel Craig’s first outing as MI6 Agent 007 James Bond. I got sleepy a third of the way through the movie, but this time I was careful and made sure that the cubby drawer was closed when I put my glasses on top of my “dresser.”
Old Gamers Never Die Department: Surviving ‘Junks on Parade’ Unscathed
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I sometimes unwind by playing on a computer submarine simulation called Called Waters. Developed by Australian game creator Killerfish Games, Cold Waters is a successor – of sorts – to MicroProse Software’s 1988 classic Red Storm Rising, a submarine sim based on Tom Clancy’s eponymous novel set in a late 1980s version of World War III.
Cold Waters does feature its own take on Red Storm Rising’s Third Battle of the Atlantic, although it bases its version of WWIII on scenarios in which real events in 1968, 1984, and 2000 pits the U.S. against the Soviets (in ’68 and ’84) or against a Sino-Soviet alliance in an alternate version of history in which Hong Kong is not handed over In 1997 and Beijing forges an alliance with a weakened but still extant USSR to challenge U.S. naval hegemony in the Western Pacific.
Cold Waters features three campaigns and 17 Single Battles set in these alternate historical periods in which the Cold War turns hot. I’ve played two of the campaigns and most of the single battles, including a tough one called Junks on Parade.
Set in 2000 – but not part of the U.S. vs. China campaign – Junks on Parade gives players the best sub in the U.S. inventory at the time: USS Seawolf (SSN-21). Larger and more heavily armed than the better known Los Angeles (SSN-688) class, Seawolf was designed in the late Cold War era as a replacement for the 688s, but when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the U.S. Navy decided to only purchase three of these expensive boats, which also included the USS Connecticut (SSN-22) and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23).
In Cold Waters, players only get the Seawolf, and in Junks on Parade it is assigned to destroy a Chinese amphibious force that is en route to Taiwan. It is escorted by a mix of Chinese and Russian-built surface ships and supported by three anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters and two ASW fixed-wing patrol planes.
Junk on Parade is one of my favorite missions, but it’s difficult. First, the waters in the stretch of the Taiwan Strait where the scenario is set are shallow, which puts the mighty Seawolf at a tactical disadvantage. Submarines are at their best in deep waters; they need a lot of room in order to evade the avalanche of torpedoes the Chinese will launch from the warships and the various aircraft arrayed against them. The shallower the water, the less maneuvering space they have. So, even if you have the best boat in the fleet, your technical advantages are reduced by the natural environment of the battlespace in the Taiwan Strait.
I usually win in Junks on Parade – I have lost once or twice since I started playing Cold Waters in July of 2020 – but not without my Seawolf incurring some damage. Usually, I get hit by air-dropped torpedoes from Harbin Z-9 ASW helicopters that see the smoke trail of a UGM-84 Harpoon missile and note the launch point. Wire-guided torpedoes being stealthier, Mk-48 attacks don’t normally provoke aerial retaliation, but missile launches are highly visible. And since sometimes the enemy ships are just beyond torpedo range, I have to use Harpoons, otherwise, the primary targets escape.
Before this week, I had only completed Junks on Parade without my boat getting as much as a scratch on her hull once. I don’t keep records of how many times I play a mission, and unlike MicroProse’s Red Storm Rising or Silent Service II, Cold Waters does not have an honor roll or a Hall of Fame feature that keeps logs of your battles, so I don’t know how many times I’ve played Junks on Parade. But surviving undamaged? That’s memorable. And I accomplished that on Monday night.
How? Mostly by how the game generated the engagement. Junks on Parade is a Killerfish Games-created mission, so I can’t fiddle with the number of ships, their disposition, or cruising speeds. The only variables I control are my initial weapons setup and how close I am to the enemy task force when the battle begins. Everything else is generated by Cold Waters itself.
I don’t want to bore you with a detailed account of the battle; suffice it to say that Cold Waters generated a rare situation where my boat was in a perfect position for an all-torpedo attack on both the surface escorts and the Chinese landing force. Instead of starting at a position slightly ahead or behind the Chinese amphib group, Seawolf was almost in the middle of it. So I did quick target motion analyses (TMAs), identified my targets, and fired torpedoes (and only torpedoes) at the Chinese ships.
The enemy tried to shoot back, of course, but since they could only detect the sounds of the active sonars on my Mk-48 ADCAP torpedoes, the Chinese ASW forces could only launch down the bearings of those. And because you can steer wire-guided torpedoes in one direction while directing your boat in another direction, the enemy can only guess where your boat is unless you slip up and make too much underwater noise by going too fast or accidentally broaching your sub to the surface.
And because this time I was close enough to use torpedoes only, I did not launch any spectacularly visible Harpoons, thus denying the Chinese helicopters or fixed-wing planes a nice juicy target for their air-dropped torps.
I don’t have much in the way of other news; I did receive my Paramount Presents Blu-ray of Milos Forman’s 1981 film Ragtime on Tuesday, but because I didn’t find my glasses until late last night, I could not even think about watching it. If I can alleviate the nagging headache – a symptom of my “Fauci Ouchy”- I might try watching some of it later.
Until next time, Dear Reader, I will say sayonara. I’m a bit tired and have no wish to be at my desk all day, so I’ll wrap this up so I can post this on WordPress. So, stay safe, stay healthy, get vaccinated if you haven’t already, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.