End Of Deployment

It’s been a weird sort of day.

Earlier this afternoon, I shook hands with all the people I’ve worked with on the ship over the last six and a half months, grinned as an O-6 told me I did a great job for him, then walked off the brow for the last time.

I’ve departed ships before of course, but this was a bit different.  I’m not permanently assigned to this vessel; I was here on Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) orders as an Individual Augmentee (IA) in support of a specific Task Force.  On my other sea duty assignments, I was with the ship for 3+ years, and saw the crews change out almost entirely from when I first reported to when I left.  Not so with this one.  The same guys who were there when I first came aboard were the same guys I said goodbye to, and I was only aboard for 6 and a half months.

But hot damn, that was a fun six and a half months!

I’m flying home tomorrow on the first flight out of Guam.  And I’m happy to be doing so.  But part of me is a little sad, too.  Part of the reason for that is I know the ship’s schedule for the next half-year, and it is KICK-ASS!  Would have been nice to be aboard for the cool things in support of operations she’s going to be doing.  In fact, the Admiral at home and I had a cool plan worked out where I would extend a bit and she would meet me at one of the ports of call that she’d been wanting to go to for years.  But alas, my parent command raised the BS flag to that plan and ordered me back.

Oh well.  I’ll just have to bring the Admiral there (and to Singapore, which I think I mentioned before she really wanted to come out for but was unable to) at a later date.

The other reason I’m a little sad?  I guess because it’s just been seriously fun out here, and I feel like I’ve actually been contributing, something that I’ve not felt in a long time.  See, I’ve been in CONUS at training commands for a long time now, and even when I was deployed on my subs, the deployments were only tangentially related to the big business that had been going on.  So I’ve felt like a REMF (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker), which is not what I had intended to be.

Of course, the Admiral, and everyone else, tells me that’s BS.  And intellectually I know they’re right, because as a training guy I’ve indirectly helped the effort in lots of ways, ways that can probably never be measured.

It still sucks to not have contributed directly as much as I would have liked.

Which is part of why I volunteered for this IA deployment: it was a chance to directly do something again.  And it’s been a heck of a fun ride.  🙂

(The other reason I volunteered is that the Admiral complained on several occasions that she didn’t feel like a real Navy wife because she hadn’t experienced a deployment since we were married, and since we had kids.  So when this billet came open, I of course had to say, in my best Barney Stinson voice, “Challenge Accepted!”  And boy did she accept it.  She’s literally kicked ass on the home front while I’ve been out gallivanting around.)

So anyway, it’s time to go home.  It’s been a productive deployment.  Obviously, productive for the Navy and the Nation, but also productive personally and professionally.

Now.  Did I meet my previously-published deployment writing goals?  Yeah….not so much.

Just going by the first two months of the deployment, it looked as though I was going to be a shoo-in.  But then things got pretty darn busy.  So I didn’t meet the word count.  But I did finish one novel, get a good chunk of the way into a second, and finished several shorter works.  I have three novelettes on submission now, with a fourth story just about ready to go.  So while I didn’t exactly meet the word count goal, deployment was still a success.

It was successful physically, too.  Observe:

This was taken a few weeks before I left for deployment.

This was a couple weeks before I left for deployment.

This was about 2 weeks ago.

This was about 2 weeks ago.

Yeah, your eyes do not deceive you.  I got a freaking TAN!  Hot damn, I’ve never managed to do that before!

That’s what happens when you exercise on the aft deck of a ship pretty much every day, in the tropics, for six months.  Even if you indulge in way too much beer while ashore in liberty ports.  😉

I’ve also read a lot of books.  Over the last month, here’s what I’ve finished:

Audiobooks

  1. The Sam Gunn Omnibus – Ben Bova
  2. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker

Written Books

  1. Darkship Thieves – Sarah A Hoyt
  2. Running From The Night – R J Terrell
  3. Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman
  4. Monster Hunter Vendetta – Larry Correia
  5. Veil Of Lies – Jeri Westerson

I’m currently in the middle of:

Audiobooks

  1. A Canticle For Liebowitz – Walter M Miller

Written Books

  1. Violence Of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War On Terror – Marty Skovlund, Jr and many others
  2. In Hero Years, I’m Dead – Michael A Stackpole
  3. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris (I’ve put this one on hold while I’ve focused on other books…for now)

With that, over the span of this deployment I’ve finished 19 Audiobooks and 25 written.  Not too bad.  Well above my average.  Probably above my total annual output for an average year, I think.  Though I could be wrong.

So it’s been a good deployment.  Now I’m slumming it at the Hilton in Tumon, Guam.

This is the view from the tiki bar at my hotel.  It sucks to be me.

This is the view from the tiki bar at my hotel. It sucks to be me.

As I said, my flight home is first thing tomorrow morning.  Cool thing about that is I’ll get back to San Diego late in the morning of the same day I left Guam.  So I’ll get to surprise the kids by being there to pick them up from school.  🙂  I have the feeling they’ll like that.

No doubt there will be some serious adjustments to make when I’m back home, both for me and for the Admiral and the youngsters (they all will have to get used to being spanked again ;P  Just kidding.  Maybe.).  It’ll be a cool and fun several weeks getting back into the swing of things.  Fortunately, I’ll be taking some leave immediately upon my return, and then again once school gets out.  That should help things immensely.

Well, that’s about it from here.  In fact, as I look at my watch I realize it’s now beer o’clock.

I’d best be getting on that.

Talk to y’all later.

The 2015 Hugo Awards and Puppy-Related Sadness

So everyone’s talking about the Hugos.

Ok, not everyone.  To most of the world, the Hugos have pretty much no meaning or significance whatsoever.  But in the SciFi/Fantasy community, the Hugos are kind of a big deal.

Well…I have to amend that. To a portion of the SciFi/Fantasy community, they are.  But speaking as a guy who grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars, who’s read fantasy (and to a lesser extent SciFi) forever, who went to many a (Star Trek) convention before he grew up and entered the Navy, with deployments and the like, and who has maintained a love of scifi/fantasy things throughout his life, I have to say that, while I had heard that a thing called the Hugo Awards existed, before I got into this writing gig I really didn’t know what they were, and nor did I really care.

See, I’m not a fan with a capital F.  As I said, the only conventions I’ve ever been to were Star Trek conventions, and the last of those I attended was in…94?  95?  Something like that.  Shortly after I started this writing gig in 2011, I was on a writing blog and someone mentioned that this guy Neil Gaiman said something about something, and everyone was like, “OOOOO!”  My reaction?  “Who the fuck is Neil Gaiman?”  I’ve been reading and loving the stuff forever, but I’d never heard of him.  Or Niven.  Or Pournelle.  Or Bujold.  Or a lot of the names that are Godlike within community of SF/F capital F fans.  Because, though I loved it, SF/F wasn’t my entire life.  I read other things.  Did other things.  Didn’t really know conventions existed and probably wouldn’t have gone if I’d known because I was busy with other stuff.

But if you’d asked me, I still would have told you I was a fan of scifi and fantasy.  By God, Robert Jordan was my favorite writer ever.  And right behind him were Tolkien, R A Salvatore, Timothy Zahn, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Arthur C Clark, and Carl Sagan.  And Michael Crichton.  And Tom Clancy (not scifi but I loved his stuff).  And others.

So last year, when I came across Larry Correia‘s Sad Puppies 2 campaign, I was like, hell yeah.  Because in the previous couple years I’d started to learn the lay of the land in the more formal SF/F community, and frankly some of the people in there annoyed the hell out of me.  I hate busy-bodies, and sanctimonious douchebags.  That’s why I’m not a leftist.  Well, that and I have studied history, economics, ethics, morality, and philosophy and nowhere in there can I find any coherent possibility of a society founded upon leftist ideals becoming anything other than a totalitarian hellhole.  But I could be wrong.

Anyway, given my natural predilection against holier-than-thou types, and a general enjoyment of poking things in the eyes of people who are poke-able (it’s the submariner in me.  First thing you learn on a submarine is “show no weakness”.  If something bothers you and people on the boat know it, they will do that thing incessantly, just to spin you up.  It’s one of the (few) ways we entertain ourselves while underway.), I watched Larry’s campaign last year with glee.  I even bought a Worldcon supporting membership and cast some votes on the final ballot, after reading the nominees and sorting what I liked and didn’t like.

As an aside, I learned for the first time that people could do this in…2012 I think.  When I was 36 going on 37.  The first movie I ever saw in the theater was Star Wars, as a toddler.  And as I mentioned before, I grew up on this scifi stuff.  But I’d never heard of how the Hugos worked until 35 years later.  And they wonder why Worldcon and Hugo participation is so low – clearly the folks running the show haven’t made a very big effort to put the word out and explain it to the rank and file scifi people out there, or invite them in.  I’m living proof of it.

Getting back to it, I cast some votes for the final ballot last year, so I had the opportunity to nominate this year.

I didn’t, though.

Why not?  Because the only novels I’ve read that were published in 2014 were The Chaplain’s War and Skin Game, and I don’t read that much short fiction.  (I have this thing where I tend not to read books when they first come out.  There are so many older, awesome books that I learn about as I go about my business that I’m always reading things from previous years, unless a book pops up that I REALLY want – like a Wheel of Time or Harry Potter book before the respective series finished.  Or more recently, like a Dresden book)  So I could have voted for the Sad Puppies 3 slate and basically nothing else (since I had read the short fiction Brad Torgersen recommend on the slate).  But I didn’t feel right about that, because I hadn’t looked at anything else that came out last year.  And while I love what SP is doing and really REALLY enjoy poking asshats in the eye, I didn’t want to nominate anyone without having a better idea of what the actual field was, because that would be dishonest – how could I really know those were my favorites for the year if I hadn’t read anything else?

Not sure if that makes any sense.

I intend to vote for this year’s final ballot, though.  Like last year, I’ll read everything on the ballot and make my own determination about it.  At this point, I suspect Skin Game’s getting my novel vote because that was a KICK ASS book.  On the flip side, I couldn’t bring myself to finish Ancillary Justice because it was so obtuse and…annoying.  I’ll give Sword a fair swing, though.  The others….  I’ve heard good things about the goblin book, and Kloos’ work has been proclaimed as awesome for a while though I haven’t read it yet.  But still…Butcher.  He’s freaking great.

Well, we’ll see.

Anyway, not sure where I was going with this except to say I fully endorse and support what the Sad Puppies folks have been doing, even though I didn’t vote for any nominees this year.  Because, as I said, I despise busybodies and holier-than-thou types who seek to rule others’ thoughts and actions.  And because I thought this was supposed to be the biggest award in Scifi, given by all scifi fans, not just by a tiny, insular clique.

My bad.