Loyal visitors to "Map and Counters" will, I have no doubt, already be aware of the fact that it has been over a month since my last blog post. In my own defense, I have endeavored to keep up with reader comments, but these occassional entries have been the extent of my recent contributions to my blog. This has been an ongoing bother to me, particularly since one of the things that I most pride myself on (it certainly isn't my skill as a wordsmith) is my ability to crank out fresh and original material on a fairly regular basis. In any case, I thought that it might just be time for me to offer a brief, but patently self-serving explanation for this unusually long period of inactivity.

What is odd, especially given the events of this past summer, is that I have really had no significant disruptions to my schedule during the last month or so: which is to say, I have had no new health or computer issues to interfere with my blogging. In point of fact, my (admittedly lame) excuse for being so slow in publishing new posts is a simple one: in spite of my having been writing pretty steadily throughout the period in question, I have somehow managed to run afoul of a couple of my own self-imposed guidelines when it comes to posting new articles on my blog. What I mean by this is that, although I have more-or-less completed a book review on Thomas Packenham's excellent and highly readable "The Boer War", and have another piece on John Keegan's workmanlike but surprisingly affecting "The First World War" nearing the finish line, I have no plans to post either review in the near term because, as a long-standing personal rule, I never publish book reviews back-to-back. Thus, I actually do have new material to post, but it probably won't be going up for awhile. The real culprit in all this, and the main reason for my long delay, is that I have allowed myself to become completely blocked by the follow-up installment in my new set of classics-based essays, "The 'STALINGRAD' Notebook". What had appeared — at least when I started this second entry in the series — to be a relatively uncomplicated gaming retrospective on a long-time favorite of mine has grown "tribble-like" in scope and length until I have finally been forced to split it into several separate essays. That being said, I am happy to report that, barring the unforeseen, I should finally be able to wind things up with this minor opus in the next day or two.

And now for something completely different ...

One of the odd little ironies that I have encountered in my ongoing role as a blogger on wargames and wargaming is that I rarely seem anymore to have the opportunity to actually play wargames. Most of my long-time hobby friends and regular PBeM opponents seem, like me, to be bogged down most of the time with the mundane but unceasing demands of everyday life. Moreover, since I detest air travel, I seldom make the cross-country trek back to the WBC or PrezCon conventions, much as I like both events; Origins, I should note, was scratched from my personal convention list a long, long time ago. That, of course, still leaves the Consimworld Expo/Monster Con convention in Tempe; and, as I have already promised John Kranz, I expect to attend every day of the 2012 convention — although I am still undecided as to whether I will attempt to "live-blog" next year's event.

So why, it is reasonable to ask, do I bother to bring up the topic of my personal gaming or lack thereof, at all? The short answer is that, for the first time in years, I will be playing a set of PBeM STALINGRAD matches with a new opponent who is also one of my regular readers. And while it is still early days in our first game, my adversary has informed me that he hopes to post screen shots, at some point in the future, from our matches (we are playing using the Zun Tzu game platform) on the Consimworld STALINGRAD forum. Based on my previous experiences with these sorts of projects, I am only too well aware that a lot can happen to scuttle plans like these. However, if these graphics-based "After Action Reports" actually end up being posted, I will provide a link from "Map and Counters" to the hosting site along with a brief bit of commentary on each of the displayed moves. So stay tuned; I hope to have more on this project as time goes on.
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