Meet The Garage Gym

Last post, I bemoaned the physical slide I’ve taken over the last year.

Not shifting blame, it’s all my fault.

But I’m taking steps to change it, and I figured I’d take a minute to share what I’m doing.  Maybe it’ll help some of you guys.  Or maybe you’ll just find it interesting.  Or maybe not.  Regardless, this is my place and I get to share what I want, so here goes.

😉

It’s been two and a half weeks since I got back to running regularly.  Recall that the Doctors told me not to run at all due to my plantar fasciitis.  Instead, I should do these various exercises they gave me, which did jack squat.

You’d think that disregarding medical advise, saying screw it, and hitting the pavement would make things worse, right?

Nope.

As of today, the fasciitis is almost totally gone.  Yeah, I had some pain when I first got up this morning, but it was more ankle joint pain in my right foot than heel pain.  I’m officially calling BS on the Doctors’ prescription for fasciitis and liking my own.  I’m just pissed at myself for taking almost a year to do it.  Grrr…

I’ve not just been running, though.  I’ve also been going on walks with the kids to hunt Pokemon (my kids love Pokemon Go.  Aw hell, I love it too, who am I kidding?), so that’s a great excuse to get them outdoors.

And I’ve been lifting again, and training at a local MMA gym.

Key elements of my regime are my garage gym, my MMA gym, and the Christmas present from my wife: the Garmin Vivoactive HR.  I’ve already talked about the MMA gym, but the other two deserve discussion.

Let’s talk about my gym first.

When we first bought this house, I brought with us the heavy bag (75 lbs) I’ve had since…2004, I think.  I’ve always hung it up, but honestly got varying degrees of use out of it.  Same thing applies here.  I hung it up, but only sporadically used it.  Since I started up at the MMA gym with the boxing coach, though, I’ve changed that.  Now it gets pounded regularly.

There it is.

Then, a couple years ago, when I was getting ready to deploy in support of Naval Special Warfare, I decided I really was tired of sucking at pull-ups.  I found some tips online about how to build your own pull-up bar, so I installed one.

I got some good use out of that bar, and by the time I deployed I wasn’t a complete embarrassment anymore.  At least, not in the pullup area, anyway.  😉

A year ago, after I got back from deployment and when I was lifting all the time, I thought hard about buying a Power Rack, a bench, and a bunch of weights.  That would have cost $1,000-1,500 at the minimum.  Lucky for me, around that same time one of my wife’s friends was getting sick of her husband never using his weight set, so they offered it to us for free.  I accepted.

It’s not exactly the king of equipment, and it lacks some of the safety of a Power Rack, but it works for benches, squats, and most of the other things I could want to do.  And the price was right.  🙂  I’d like to get a better weight tree and some more plates, but for the time being it’s got what I need.

Finally, my as my wife’s gotten more into strength training as opposed to just running, she’s fallen in love with the TRX.  So we installed one of those, too.

I built that wooden box for my wife, so she can more easily reach the pullup bar, and so she can do plyometric jumping things off of it.  I’ve ended up using it as well.

You can also see my bike against that wall there, too.  She’s a Cervelo S2, and she’s super awesome.  I have GOT to get out on her more this year.

So that’s the garage gym.

I’ll do another post later today or tomorrow about the Garmin.  This one is long enough already, I think.

For now, what do y’all think?  Not too shabby, eh?

Excuses and Excuses

Hey, look!  2016’s over!

And wow, from a writing perspective, I accomplished just a little bit more than jack squat.

The year actually started out pretty well.  In January, I cranked out a bunch of short stories for Dean and Kris‘ anthology workshop, just in time for the Navy to change my schedule so that I couldn’t attend it.  Then I hunkered down and maintained a daily log of writing output as I got going on The Falconer’s Stairs, the next Glimmer Vale Chronicles book.  I also got started on a new Space Navy series, but after a few chapters decided to stop until GV 5 was done.  And it was going pretty well, for the most part.  I even commissioned cover art before I finished it, with a deadline of my intended release date, as an added motivator to git ‘r done.

Then I went on travel to Japan for a couple weeks for the Navy.  I intended to write a ton while I was there, but as tends to happen in Japan, instead I enjoyed the country and the company of my Navy compadres.  That can be forgiven, I guess.

What can’t be forgiven is the absolute lack of writing over the summer and first part of the fall.  I can claim busy-ness, and that’s true to an extent.  But really I wasn’t focused.  The Falconer’s Stairs has been sitting at about 80% done for a while.  And the Space Navy book…no progress there either.

Basically, in 2016 I sucked as a writer

On the bright side, I got invited into an anthology that’s being edited by my buddy, and awesome writer in his own right, Blaze Ward.  It’s a super-hero themed collection, something that I hadn’t done before, so I was able to stretch my limbs a bit.  The story was due on 1 December, and I got 15,000 words done in about a week and got it to him on time.  He liked the story a lot.  So do I.  All the same, I’m pretty sure there are some who will be…put off…by its content and main character.  We’ll see.  More to follow as the release approaches.  He’s aiming for late Spring.

I’ve also re-commenced with stories for this year’s Anthology Workshop, which I actually will be able to attend (no Navy conflicts this time!).  Got two done in December, and there will be four more to do in January (one per week).  The December stories were 4,500 and 4,700 words, respectively.  The assignment for this week is 3,000-6,000 words.  Shouldn’t be too hard.

I also submitted to Writers of the Future each quarter.  Got two Honorable Mentions and a Silver Honorable.  Thing is, those were all stories I had written earlier, namely last January for the anthology workshop.

So what does all that mean?  I certainly CAN get the words out.  But I clearly need external deadlines of some sort, or I tend to let myself slack off.  Basically I’m a lazy bastard.

You can see that on the physical side of me as well.

A year and a half ago, I got back from deployment.  Unlike my previous deployments, this one was not on a submarine but a surface ship.  Consequently, I worked out pretty much every day – Insanity, weights, you name it.  When I came back, I looked like this:

Yeah, I didn’t have a six-pack, but I looked pretty good and I got a hell of a tan from 7 months in the tropics.  I also had developed an even greater taste for lifting than I had before.  A good thing, right?  🙂

I came back and continued lifting, and running, and all the great things that keeps one looking good.  I trained for a marathon in Santa Barbara, that I was going to run last year in November.

Then, in September, I broke my toe.

That killed my training for a few weeks.  But no worries, I was going to gut it out and do the marathon – except it got cancelled.  Ok well, I can still lift, right?  Then I injured my shoulder.  Come December, my foot was fully healed, so I started running again.  And then in January, I broke another toe – in the other foot.  And my shoulder still hurt.  Turns out I had an impingement – a minor almost dislocation that I was going to need physical therapy for.  Well no worries, my foot’s almost healed and I can run again.  And then….plantar fasciitis.  Every attempt at running resulted in wicked heel pain the next day, and for several days later

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?????

Seriously, I turned 40 and went straight to hell physically.

So I stopped running, and basically doing anything except physical therapy.  The shoulder got better, but the heels didn’t.  Meanwhile, I kept up the same diet I had been, and indulging in more beer and wine than I should have, considering my changed physical activity…

Did I switch to bicycling, which I used to do a lot but had gotten away from?  Of course not.  That would take effort, and all those injuries gave me a great excuse not to just slack off.

Long story short, I gained almost 20 pounds.  In a year.  Disgusting.

So 2016 was basically a year of slacking and excuses, and overall bleah.

It wasn’t a total loss, though.  A couple months back I got sick of slacking, joined an MMA gym, and got working on my boxing skills.  Jujitsu and kickboxing too, but I’ve primarily been focusing on boxing so far.  Those who know me know I’ve spent a lot of time over the years training in karate, kung fu, and tai chi.  But it had been a while since I found a dojo that I really liked, and that wasn’t, for lack of a better word, cheesy.  So many don’t allow contact in sparring, or only play-act the practical stuff.  That is unsatisfying and not especially challenging.  The complete lack of finding a good school left me dejected so I essentially gave up for a couple years.  But I knew I needed to make a change so I said screw it, go with boxing.  That’s when I found this particular gym.  I had heard good things about the MMA world, so why not?

Good move.  The boxing coach in the gym makes his living training championship and professional-level people.  Apparently he just comes to this gym as a fun way of paying it forward.  Suffice it to say I’ve learned a lot from him so far, enough to know how seriously lacking in fighting skills I had been up to this point.

So that’s good.

I’ve also decided to stop being a wimp and get back to lifting.  And back to running.  Screw the aching heels, just do it.  And you know what?  As I’ve been working back into it, the heel pain has gotten less, where all those exercises and whatnot that the Docs and PT people said to do did precisely jack squat.

Combine that with the Christmas present from my wife – a Garmin Vivoactive HR wearable watch/GPS/activity tracker.  This thing is great.  I used to use the MapMyRide app on my iphone to track everything – a great buy at $1.99.  But this thing goes more in depth and is easier because it’s right there on the wrist, and it makes cool graphs.  And the Garmin Connect software interfaces with UnderArmor’s MyFitnessPal to track calories consumed and burned, making diet management a snap.

So I’m psyched to get back on the physical horse in 2017.

I’m also psyched to get back on the writing horse.  This month is the four stories for the anthology workshop, and finishing up The Falconer’s Stairs (finally).  Then it’s over to the Space Navy books.  I think those are going to be awesome, and y’all will like them.

That still leaves the problem of deadlines, though.  I’ve decided to tackle that in two ways.

  1. I’m going to get The Falconer’s Stairs up on Amazon and elsewhere for pre-order, for full release early March.  The way Amazon works, you have to have the final manuscript uploaded 10 days prior to release, and you can’t move the release date, or they punish you hard.  So that’s a deadline to work to.
  2. I’m going to do similar things with the Space Navy books, and others I’m doing in the future.  No more nebulous target dates without consequences if I miss the mark.
  3. I set up a Patreon account.  (I know, I know, asking for money when you just admitted to being a slacker?  Hear me out)  The goal of the Patreon account is to give myself another deadline to meet – namely a short story every month for the patrons.  And to get another stream of income going, of course.  But that’s ancillary to the deadline, really.  So if you have the willingness to slip a brother a buck or two a month, head on over and make a pledge.

Between those three things, I hope to satisfy my need for deadlines.

Here’s what I want to get done in 2017:

  1. Publish The Falconer’s Stairs – March
  2. Complete and publish Warfare Qualified, the first Space Navy book – July
  3. Complete and publish Independent Deployment, the second Space Navy book – October
  4. Complete the third Space Navy book by the end of the year
  5. Submit to Writers of the Future every quarter
  6. Write updates here (much) more often
  7. Provide lots of content for the Patreon patrons

I also need to (finally) finish the sequel to Masters of the Sun.  And a sequel to The Pericles Conspiracy.  Problem with the former is there is no demand for it, even though I know where it needs to go and have written a fair chunk of it.  Problem with the second is there is demand, but I have no idea where it’s going at all.  I never intended there to be a sequel; only reason I’ve started one is the demand for it.  So it’s a longer-term work in progress at this point.

The Space Navy books, on the other hand…  Well, I’ll tell you more in another post.  This one has gone on too long already.  It’s practically a book in and of itself.

So that’s where I stand.  Hope all y’all had a happy and festive Holiday season.  I know I did.  Now it’s back to the grind.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Still Here

Holy smokes.  It’s been over 6 months since I posted something here.  No good reason except I’ve been lazy.  It’s not like I haven’t had things to say about current events and the like.  I’m tempted to say it’s because I’ve been lazy, but that’s not really the case.  I’ve done a lot of good, cool things.  There just hasn’t been a lot of writing-related things to address over the last few months.

Well, that’s not entirely true, either.  For instance, I received Honorable Mentions from the Writers of the Future Contest two quarters in a row to start this year, and I’m currently waiting on results for the quarter ending March 31.  So that’s cool.

I went to the WotF awards gala with a friend of mine from the Navy back in early April.  That’s always cool.

I’ve also been writing, of course.  The 5th book in the Glimmer Vale Chronicles is about 85% complete; I just need to hunker down and finish it.  Problem is, I’ve reached the point where I know the very end but have no idea how to get there from where I am.  So I took a break to get started on the new series I’ve had in mind to do, about a new junior office in a space Navy.  I’ve been plugging away on it slowly, drawing off my know-how from 19 years in the Navy to make it work in an actual Navy-like manner.

But that still leaves The Falconer’s Stairs to finish up.  And I shall finish it before the summer is out, I promise.  Just needed a diversion to properly cage my brain for it is all.

Let’s see….what else?

I built a bar/food prep/grilling table for my back yard, to surround my grill.  As n, I personally built it from scratch and raw materials.  I finished the construction today after a couple weekends’ work, and it feels pretty good.  It also LOOKS pretty good, if I do say so myself.

So that’s what’s been going on around here.

You can expect to hear from me more regularly going forward from here.  But for now, I’m sleepy.  Just figured I’d say high again.

More to follow later.  Have a great week, everyone!   🙂

My Star Wars Theory

Warning: SPOILERS!

I went, with my wife, to see The Force Awakens on 19 December, in Imax 3D.  Because Imax.  I’m generally not a 3D fan, and the first couple minutes (fortunately just previews) reminded me why.  But I will say the 3D thing did add a bit of coolness to the show.  Certainly the Imax HUGE screen did.

So…did I like it?

Duh.

Of course!  It was pretty awesome, and great fun.  Was it repetitive from the first Star Wars (don’t tell me that’s not the first.  There are only 4 Star Wars movies.  We do not acknowledge any others in my household.)?  Completely.  Were there some head-scratchingly contrived and cheesy moments?  Absolutely.  Were there things that made no sense at all (like how the hell did the computer-generated-lady get Luke’s blue lightsaber when it fell down the hole at Bespin after Vader cut his hand off, and was lost in the clouds of that gas giant)?  Yup.  Was Rey a total Mary Sue?  100%, without a doubt, no question, utterly cannot be argued, what are you nuts if you don’t agree, yes.

The movie was still great.  I never thought I’d have a Star Wars movie to like, after the abortions we don’t mention.  I now do.

More than that, it sucked me (and the Admiral at home) in, and we left the theater discussing the many questions left by the movie.  Specifically (duh) who the hell is Rey?

It’s immediately obvious that she’s part of the family.  Not just because Star Wars is, at its core, a family saga.  But also because of all the clues dropped in the movie.  But what part of the family is she?

After the movie, the Admiral and I went to a bar and discussed it, at length.  In the end, we came up with a theory that I think holds the water completely.  I’ve since read many inane and, frankly, idiotic theories on the internet.  And one or two that closely approximate our theory.  In the interest of being able to say “I told you so and I knew it before XXXX posted it on the internet”, I present it here, for your evaluation.

And remember, we came up with this at about 1600 on 19 December, 2015.

Just saying.  😛

So here goes:

Han and Leia had two children: Ben (who later became Kylo Ren) and a daughter (who we know as Rey but who probably was not born with that name).  Ren was the older brother, but both were blessed with talent in the Force (just as Luke and Leia were…and why didn’t she train, like it was implied that she would in Jedi and like she did in the EU books?  But that’s another question).

When Luke started his school, Ren and Rey went, despite their very young ages.  At the school was another student that Ren began to look up to as a surrogate father figure because for some reason he was angry with Han (maybe because Han sent him off to the school at just the age when he needed his father most?  Or maybe something else.  Ren’s a gamma-male emo bitch, so it could just be because Han disapproved of his hair style.  I presume we’ll find out why later in the movies).  That student was the man who we now know as Snoke.

Snoke betrayed Luke and destroyed his school.  Ren helped him, for the reason I stated above.  Or maybe he just stood by, and in the midst of the carnage, followed Snoke.  Either way, Ren followed Snoke instead of Luke.

In the process of overthrowing the school, all the other students were killed, and Luke barely escaped with his life.  Both Ren and Snoke believed Rey perished, and they went off to gather the remnants of the Empire and form the First Order.

When he came to his senses, Luke found Rey and spirited her away.  He would have brought her back to Han and Leia, but by then they had split up in their grief and anger over what happened, and he feared that leaving Rey in the midst of that anger would cause her to grow up already fallen to the Dark Side.  So he left her with Leia’s trusted ally on Jakku (The guy Poe went to see at the beginning of The Force Awakens) with instructions to keep her safe until Han and Leia straightened things out.

But they never did.  And for some reason, Rey and the ally (what’s his name anyway?) got separated (maybe she got pissed at him when she hit puberty or something…or maybe he dropped the ball…who knows).

Still, the ally kept tabs on her in the vain hope that, when the time came, he would be able to help her get back to her parents.  And so she languished there on Jakku until BB happened to come across her in the desert.  And we know what happened from there.

 

And that’s our theory.

 

Think about it, and consider these things:

  1. The immediate connection between Rey and Han.  Han thinks his daughter’s dead, but he sees something of her in Rey and can’t help feeling close to her.
  2. The apparent, and immediate, connection between Rey and Ren.  Same reason.
  3. Why does no one in the general populace know that Luke was actually real?  Apparently he’s only remembered as a legend, which means he vanished quite a while ago.  Which means Ren COULD NOT have been his betrayer, because he’s far too young to have done that and have enough time pass that Luke’s not remembered as a real person.
  4. Rey’s flashbacks.  She saw the end of Luke’s school.  She saw a spaceship flying away from her at Jakku and a voice telling her to stay there.  Now, I’ll admit when I first heard that voice I thought it sounded like Kylo Ren in his mask suit.  Which makes one think maybe he was the person who dropped her off.  But as I said in #3, he’s too young.  And really that could have been anyone’s voice, really.
  5. Han tells Leia that he saw their son, but neither mentions a daughter.  This checks, because they thought their daughter died in Snoke’s rebellion.  They wouldn’t discuss their dead daughter, because that would tear the scab off the not-totally-healed wound that was her death.

 

So…what do you think?

Cell Phone Companies Suck

Looks like AT&T…hell ALL the cell providers…are going to finally push me from iPhone to Android.

Why?

I’ve been happy with my iPhone 5, but lately the power button’s been on the fritz – damn thing won’t turn off when I want it to half the time.  And the headphone jack’s become corroded and the audio connection spotty.  All those cumulative days of running and biking with the thing over the last almost 3 years are starting to show.

But no one will cell me a freaking iPhone! Not without their stupid nothing down, pay for the freaking phone forever plans. Screw that.

Oh sure, they still let you just buy the damn thing and do the 2-yr commitment like they used to. But then they charge $25-30/month more per line!

So you’re paying more for the phone ($30/month for 24 months is…wait for it…the full price you’d pay just to get the phone without signing up with any company.  And, sorry, much as I like the iPhone I’m not willing to pay $650 for one.) AND still paying just as much for your cell service.

OR you’re paying the same for your phone as you used to with a 2-yr commitment, but now your 2-yr commitment plan costs more….so you’re paying more for the phone and paying just as much for your cell service.

Fuck that, and fuck them.

I’m done.

I’m this close to just getting an iPod for music, audiobooks, and podcasts, and a prepaid flip phone. I’ll just buy that Garmin watch I’d been wanting to get anyway, and that’ll let me record my biking and running. I don’t really NEED all the rest of that shite, and most of the time I don’t use it.

Or I’m going to get a $150 Android phone from Boost mobile and try that.

Either way, I’m done with AT&T.  And Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint can kiss my tush, because they’re not getting my business either with policies like this.

I will NOT be fleeced!

May Wrap-up

Hola amigos.

So the month’s just about done, and I figured I’d, as I have been the last few months, post a writing wrap-up.  Just because.

This one’s easy: I ain’t wrote a damn thing this month.

Not a word of new fiction.

And I don’t feel bad about that at all.  After all, I returned from almost 7 months away from home, got used to the family again, started back at my normal job, and generally was busy with real-life stuff.  So no guilt about not writing here: I had other important things to do that took priority.

I did finish some books, though.

Audiobooks:

  1. A Canticle For Leibowitz – Walter M Miller
  2. The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison
  3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Written:

  1. The Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steve Barnes (I actually finished this last month, but forgot to mention it)
  2. Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust, Earth To Alluvium – Gray Rinehart
  3. The Day The World Turned Upside Down – Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  4. The Parliament Of Beasts And Birds – John C Wright
  5. On The Spiritual Plain – Lou Antonelli

So not as much reading; most of those were novelettes and short stories.  But again, I’m no longer on deployment so I have more things to take up my attention.  I’m in the middle of a bunch of stories, of course.

Audiobooks In Progress:

  1. Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris

Written In Progress:

  1. In Hero Years, I’m Dead – Michael A Stackpole (I put this one on hold after WotF came out)
  2. Writers of the Future, Vol 31 – Various
  3. The Hugo Voters Packet – Various
  4. Smith’s Monthly #10 – Dean Wesley Smith
  5. Violence of Action – Marty Skovlund, Jr
  6. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

I’ve got a LOT of stories that I’m stuck in the middle of.  Well, not stuck so much as on hold while I get Hugo reading done.  Better get on that, right?

All told, it’s been a good month.  Now that I’m back in the swing of life, I fully intend to get back into the swing of writing during this coming month.  Gotta get a story off to Writers of the Future by 30 June, after all.  😉

Oh yeah, I’m also just about ready to release Robbed Blind, the fourth book in my Glimmer Vale Chronicles series.  Just waiting on the cover art at this point, so probably it’ll be next month sometime.  Stay tuned for more.

That’s it for now.  Later, all.

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.

Singapore

Way back in days of yore, in 1999, I went on my first Navy deployment.  On that deployment, we pulled into Singapore twice.  I loved it.  Absolutely LOVED it.  One hell of an awesome place.

So you can imagine my joy when we actually came back here again on this deployment.  Score!

For your viewing pleasure:

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Pretty awesome, right?

Man, it’s been good being back here.  Alas, we’ll be leaving soon.  But it’s been a fun time.  Definitely need to get back again, sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, writing’s going pretty well.  I finished a 4th Glimmer Vale book and am well on the way toward finishing a mystery.  I can hear you guys now.  OOO!  Mystery!  Wow!  *eyeroll*  Try to contain yourselves.  I’m a bit behind on actual word count toward the deployment goal, but that’s ok.  I can still get there.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Just a quick update, to say hi.  Hope all y’all are doing well out there.  🙂  Until next time.

Deployment Goals

A couple weeks back, I mentioned I was going on deployment, and that I’d talk more about that later.  Well, now is later.  😛  I am no longer in San Diego.  Shoot, I haven’t been in San Diego for two weeks.

As those of you who have read the “About Michael” tab above, or who have gotten to know me through other means, know, I am an active duty officer in the US Navy.  About four months ago, word came down about a need for a guy to fill a job in a task force in the Westpac.  Now, as a submarine officer I’ve worked with SOF (Special Operations Forces; spoken SEALs) guys before.  I recall they were a lot of fun, and this particular job involves doing things that support them.  Since that sounded wicked cool, and since it’s been a while since I’ve been on a real deployment, and since the Admiral at home keeps saying she doesn’t feel like a real Navy wife because we haven’t done a deployment since we’ve been married, I raised my hand and said, “I’ll go!”

And they looked at the list of volunteers and said, “Sure, come on over.”

Consequently, the Admiral at home said, “Cool, get the f*(k out of here, you slacker.”

So two weeks ago, I left San Diego.

First stop was Hawaii, for a week.  Good thing about that was 1) it’s Hawaii and 2) I had enough frequent flyer miles on Southwest to fly the Admiral’s parents out to San Diego (so they could watch the kids) and enough frequent flyers miles on American (from flying to Japan all the time for the Navy) to fly her to Hawaii with me.  🙂  She’s been wanting to go to Hawaii for a while; in fact one of our West Coast bucket list items was to get out to the islands again (I say again because my first Navy assignment – before I met her – after my initial training was on a submarine based out of Pearl Harbor.).

Promise fulfilled!   🙂

It was a great week.  For reference, here’s the view from one of my favorite bars on Oahu, Duke’s.

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Doesn’t suck.   🙂

I checked in at the command on Oahu and did some in-briefing stuff, but not too much.  The rest of the time, I showed the Admiral around the island, and a good time was had by all.  But alas, as with all things, that good time came to an end, and she flew home while I flew to Guam, where I currently am.

Again for reference, this is the view out of my hotel room window.

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Also doesn’t suck.  🙂

I’ve been here for a week, doing some training with the unit here on Guam, learning things I need to know so I can do my job properly when I get out west.  Some parts have been pretty grueling, though.  For instance, the other day I had to endure small boat handling training.

Small Boats

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It truly sucked, as you can see.  🙂

But that’s all done now (thank God! <snark>) and pretty soon I’m going to push further west to do things in support of operations.  I hope that’s vague enough for you, because that’s all you’re going to get from me about that.  ;P

But I know what you’re thinking.  What does that have to do with writing, Kingswood?

Not a damn thing, except for this.  I’ll be deployed on a ship out west for six months, not to exceed 180 days.  I’ll have operations to do, admin to keep track of, and PT to exercise.  But I’ll also have time to do other things.  So I figured I’d set some writing goals for my time out there.

Now, let’s be honest.  I set goals for 2014 way back in January.  I haven’t talked much about them in a while.  That’s because I’ve totally screwed the pooch this year.  Completely.  I know, I know.  I suck at life, I should be drawn and quartered, blah blah blah.  *shrug* Whatever.  I just didn’t git ‘r done. No big deal.  But it seems to me this is the prime time to reset and refocus so I can get fully back into the writing game.

So here’s the deal.  180 days.  2,000 words/day (that’s about 1.33 hrs/day at my typical writing speed).  360,000 words.  That’ll do two things: get me back into the rhythm of writing consistently, which I haven’t done lately, and get me over the mythical 1,000,000 word mark.

So that’s the goal.

To break it down, that comes out to about 12,800 words/week if you count all the weeks between now and my expected return date.  Seems totally doable.

So what projects shall I work on?

First, I’m going to finish the novelette I’ve been (ridiculously slowly) chugging away on since…June?…that I intend to submit to Writers of the Future.  Then, back to novels.  The novel goals for this deployment:

1) Finish Dawn of Enlightenment 2

2) Finish Glimmer Vale 4

3) Get going on The Penitent – that’s a project I got inspired to do about 3 years ago, got about 8,000 words written on, and have since done nothing with.  It’ll be wicked awesome if I ever hunker down and finish it.  Looks like now’s the time.

4) If there’s time (depending on how big The Penitent gets…I think it’ll be pretty big) get started on and/or finish Glimmer Vale 5

And of course, I will get back into the habit of “penning” short stories and;or novelettes for Wotf and general dissemination.

I also have some non-writing goals

1) Get below 200 lbs, as talked about before

2) Work up to doing 20 pull-ups in a row

3) Finish Insanity.  This will take a reset, because between drinking all the time on Oahu with the Admiral last week, more traveling between then and here, generally screwing off here, and more travel to come between here and Westpac to come, I’ve not kept up with Insanity well.  In fact, I got one day done last week.  In response, this week I decided to re-do Week 7.  And got three days done.  So, next week I’m going to re-do Week 7 again, and proceed on to the finish from there.  Then, I think I’ll go back to the Week 5 recovery week and then re-do month 2 again, because consistency and continual improvement.  And masochism.  Or something.  😉  After that, the Admiral suggested I mail her back the Insanity discs so she can to them, and she’ll mail me the P90X discs.  I’m down, but we’ll see how that works out.  Not sure how long it’ll take mail to get between here and there on a routine basis.

So that’s the deal.  I’ve set up my usual project and goal-tracking spreadsheets to monitor my progress.  Time to make a go of it.  Who wants to back me up, nag me on, and keep me honest about it?

Wish me luck!

Too. Much. PT.

As I stated before, I am totally ramping up the amount of PT I’m doing, because Hooyah.  But even considering that, the last few days have been…strenuous.

A little background.

On Saturday, we decided to splurge and order out for dinner (we don’t do that very much – budget, dude.  Budget.).  We had some Olive Garden gift cards, so what the heck right?  😉  So I roll on out to pick up the yummy vittles, and on the way to the restaurant, I came down HARD on a dip in the road that I didn’t see coming until it was too late.  Didn’t think much of it though, because these things happen.

Fast forward to Monday morning.  The car starts up just fine, but will not shift out of park.

Crap.

So I rode my bicycle to work.  It’s 23.6 miles each way.  I’ve done it before; in fact many weeks I’ll ride to and from at least once.  But typically I’ll drive in one morning with my bike on the rack, ride home in the afternoon, then ride back to work the next morning and drive home.  Used to be, when I lived closer to work, I’d ride my bike there every day.  Not so much these days.

Anyway, you can do the math – I cranked out 47 miles on the bike on Monday.  Then still had to do Insanity Monday evening.  It was very tempting not to, but of course I couldn’t skip out.  Because what am I, a slacker?

Yesterday, I drove the Admiral’s minivan to work because she had a light day, and I had to pick my Mom up from the airport on the way home and that would be tough to do on my bicycle.  😛  I was freaking tired last night, and the hustle and bustle around the house didn’t really die down until about 2245, but hang it all I did my Insanity.  Last night was Pure Cardio; that one’s a grinder, too.

Today, I rode my bicycle in to work again, and I’ll ride it home.  So another 47 mile day.  And no, I’m not going to skip tonight.  Probably going to do the same tomorrow.  Thankfully, Friday is a day off at work, so I’ll get a little break there.

Long story short, I’m getting a metric butt-ton of PT this week.  95 Weightwatchers activity points worth so far, and it’s only Wednesday (by way of comparison, I’m allocated 45 points of food a day, and last week between Insanity, Pull-ups, and running a few times I only generated 73 activity points).  That’s pretty awesome.  Feels good.  🙂

I know what you’re thinking, though.  Kingswood, what’s up with your car?

Well…  I didn’t anything done with it until this morning.  I figured it was a transmission problem or maybe an interlock sensor issue (you know the brake-transmission interlock; if the brake ain’t depressed the gears won’t shift.  If the brake sensor dies…).  Now, the car’s 10 years old, but I have an extended power train warrantee that I bought when I purchased the car last year.  Normally, I don’t go for those sorts of things, but I may end up being happy I did this time.  Problem was, I couldn’t find the information the policy until last night, so I only just this morning called USAA to tow the car to a service station.

Interestingly enough, when the tow truck lifted the car up, the driver found a ton of transmission fluid on the street beneath.  Which has me thinking maybe that dip in the road from Saturday has something to do with this.  Which could make it an insurance claim as opposed to a warrantee claim.  So looks like either way I’ll avoid a HUGE financial hit.  It still sucks though.

So that’s the latest around here.  Go buy some books, will ya?

😉