Saturday, March 31, 2007

Coming to America

Actually I'm already back in Hawai'i and I have barely the mental capacity to make a post. I just cannot sleep on a plane and I left last night after spending the day in the World's Best Airport for 2005 & 2006. So I've been awake for over twenty-four hours and it's still only midday on Saturday. Love that International Date Line.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Anyang Ha-Sseo

Well, this is it for my trip to Korea. ENDEX was sounded and we all get to make our way back to where we came from. I didn't get to do any walkabouts this year so I'll have to describe what I can see from the tent.

The most remarkable thing on the skyline of Seoul is the giant skytower atop a hill on the north side of the Han river. Being from Seattle, I know my skytowers and this thing is awsome. Probably a thousand feet high from the look of it, it has a huge observation deck about as big as two or three Space Needle decks. The deck is in the middle and there's a steel girder tower structure soaring above it. The lower half is a giant cylinder of white. The really spectacular thing about it is the lights at night. Lots of colors and spotlights calmly changing all up and down the tower as the clouds play tag with the very top.

The other noticeable tall thing is the Hyatt hotel but that is hardly as impressive.

A curious and promising thing is the number of red neon crosses sticking up from building all over the skyline. I remember a stat from somewhere that Korea is now over 50% Christian with most of the other half Buddhist and a couple of percent animist/spiritist. This is the kind of ally you want in the Pacific theatre.

I'm headed to Incheon International Airport next and will spend most of the day there before flying back to Hawai'i. Hopefully while I wait I can get another bottle of Pocari sweat. That stuff's great.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Long Dark Hours

This morning was especially difficult to get out of the rack. For some reason, there seemed to be a lot of bus activity right outside the tent all night long. Not sure where they were going but it was fairly loud. This is also the point of the exercise, right before ENDEX, that things get tiresome. The twelve hour shifts start to drag you down. Hopefully, sometime tomorrow around midday the exercise will be stopped but I've seen these things go well into Saturday before.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Day in the Life

So here's how things roll here:

0440- Get out of the rack, get my sweats on, go to the rec tent and check personal email, send out a blog entry.
0500- Male shower hours begin, take care of personal hygiene.
0515- Go back to tent and start getting my uniform on, which for the exercise includes helmet and flak jacket.
0530- Catch shuttle bus to chow hall.
0600- Finish chow and walk over to the command center.
0630- Start turnover briefs
0700- Sit through General's morning brief.
0800- Praise God that the brief is finallly over and the bleeding from my eyeballs can stop.
1200- After spending hours working with a room full of Marines who do nothing but prepare PowerPoint slides, go to noon chow.
1300- Get back to command center and work with PowerPoint some more.
1600- Give my portion of the General's afternoon brief.
1830- Night shift arrives, begin turnover brief.
2000- Get back to my tent, eat a candy bar for dinner
2100- Stop reading whatever book I have try to begin sleeping.
0440- Repeat.

Three more days...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Gentlemen Start Your Engines

Now the exercise begins and the shift work starts. Twelve on, twelve off. It will be a long five days, what with walking back and forth to the command center and trying to arrange for meal times. But this is what we get paid to do so we do it with a smile and minimal complaints. At the end of the exercise there will be the trip to Hawai'i and a couple of days off. I'll post what I can, when I can.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

From the Prince of Thieves to the Prince of Death

I suppose I should mention that I finished Hood just before I left and grabbed The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes for the trip over here. Hood ended well and I heartily endorse it. All the bad guys and good guys were delineated, Robin Hood takes on the mantle of protector of his people, and several Frenchmen die. Since it is billed as a trilogy I was expecting a cliffhanger and unresolved issues. They are there. The only problem is that apparently the author has some kind of serious illness and I'm unsure of whether or not the series will get finished.

The Charnel Prince is delivering everything I expected. I'd say it is the better of the two books. It is much more developed and continues the strong story telling that Keyes started with The Briar King. The detail of the worlds and the characters is outstanding. The stakes are getting higher and higher. The strong themes of love and death are hitting home. The emotional investment that Keyes is creating makes the book well worth it. Looks like the series is going to come in at four books with The Blood Knight and The Born Queen next up.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Into the Swing

Well we're leaning forward in the saddle and preparing for the start of the exercise on Sunday night. Since all we do is monitor developments and brief the general twice a day my days have been filled with PowerPoint slides and links and briefing orders and on and on. Gone are the days when I walked around in the mud and had a real impact on events. Now I just stare at computer monitors and worry about whether or not we should use 16 point or 18 point Arial fonts.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mein Kampf

It's been a struggle for me but I've reached my final destination here in Korea. Travelling here is always a long process and ending it by lumping two heavy seabags into a dark tent doesn't make it any better. That was yesterday and after a fitful sleep (why is there always someone who cannot seem to stop their watch alarm from going off at two in the morning?) on a cot I was off to the command center where I'll be working. Internet access is tricky because military networks have all sorts of restrictions but I've found a wi-fi spot at the base Burger King so I can make some occasional entries after my shift ends. Wittiness returns later in the week, now I'm just too stinkin' tired.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hawai'i Time

In general, things haven't changed much since I was here twenty years ago. The laid back attitude of most islanders is obvious from the traffic report this morning. At a time when Seattle would be crushed in gridlock, the traffic cams here are showing free flowing traffic and the reporter sounds like he has better things to do than give you a traffic report about non existant traffic. Gotta love it here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Awake in Paradise

I awoke this morning to the sounds of tropical birds, gently swaying palm fronds, and the sound of 100 Marines running in formation. Life is good here in Hawai'i.

Of course, things didn't start out that way yesterday. Six hour plane rides are never a good thing. Sorry, no attempt at humor here. They just aren't. (Tomorrow is a ten hour flight. Shoot me now.) Then when I got here I found that the Honolulu International Airport is very cute. By cute, I mean it has a rustic, provincial feeling and tremendous lack of signage. After almost turning the wrong way and having an unpleasant discussion with a TSA official I found the baggage claim. Then I had to find the rental car counter. Then I had to find my way out of the parking lot which was much more difficult than it should have been. Getting to the BOQ would have been easier if I had remembered to print out a map but such is life. A couple of buildings and government servants later I was able to get to my room. Then sleep happened.

This morning was check in type stuff and now I have some free time before leaving for Korea. My observations about Hawai'i? 1)Most of the buildings are standard designs but with a touch of Japanese influence. 2)They have the most amazing birds, one of which is bopping around while I'm typing this and he or she has a peach and brown coloration and looks like a small cardinal. 3)McDonald's transfats taste the same here as they do on the mainland. 4)They spell their state differently than we do.

Stay tuned, more to come..

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Procrastinators Unite!

I found this while not doing what I should have been doing this morning. The video runs right there in the page and shows us that new technology has always found difficulty gaining acceptance. The rest of the blog is also good.

http://blackcoffee-redpen.blogspot.com/2007/02/introducing-book.html

The Rejecter

This gal is a must for all serious writers. It truly helps to see how and why submissions get rejected when sent in to agents or publishing houses. The most telling line is how she says that she rejects 95% of submissions almost immediately upon opening them. Ouch.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Duty Calls

It's that time of year again and I am off to my required annual training with the Marines. For me lately that usually means travelling to the orient. This year it is Korea again for two weeks with brief stops in Hawaii on either end. I will be staying at Yongson Garrison in Seoul and participating in the typical spring exercise that's held on the peninsula every year. As is my custom I will be reporting on the situation as often as possible, only this time I will include the email traffic on my blog as well. Lots of packing to do today, flight leaves SeaTac tomorrow evening.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Spartans! PREPARE FOR GLORY!"

300 is the best movie I've seen in quite a while. How can you not like a movie with heroic warriors making a last stand against impossible odds? They fight knowing that they will all die. They fight because that is what they were bred to do and no one else will. If they fall too early, their homelands will be ravaged. It is a challenge like no other; stay alive, kill everything in your path, give your last dying breath for freedom.

On top of that you get multiple beheadings, Matrix-like fight scenes with severed limbs a flying, and spouts of blood that would make Monty Python blush. What's not to like?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Zanta Claws

Son Number Two has a deliciously twisted sense of humor. He's homeschooled and we were going over a lesson on Antarctica when he came up with the idea of Santa's opposite. Since Santa lives at the North Pole then of course it stands to reason that the South Pole has Zanta. He apparently wears a blue suit, does not have a jolly laugh, and his sleigh is pulled by a team of wolves.

I have no idea where he gets this stuff.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Rejection!

The first respondent in the rejection sweepstakes for 'Such Great Faith' is... Rock and Sling! They have sent a 5x8 form letter that politely rejected my story and looked forward to more. Of course, the real fun is in the handwritten note:

"We don't publish retelling of Bible stories but your writing is good and we look forward to more from you." Then it is personally signed by the editor.

I knew this when I submitted it but my tremendous ego convinced me that it didn't apply to me. So that's one magazine down and a few more to go. I haven't submitted to Relief yet but I think I may do that next week.

The rejection is not much of a surprise. I realized after doing some research that getting this story published would be difficult. It is a retold bible story. It is not fantasy and it is not science fiction. It is sort of an historical. In short, it is a difficult story to find a market for. But I like it a lot so I will keep on trying.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Triond Earnings Update

OK, I've been writing some articles for Triond about how Marines see the world for about a month now. They can be seen at the link to the right 'Life Lessons From the Marines.' Now for the update on my earnings. For the month of February I made a whopping twenty-two cents! This is about what I expected. These things are mostly for the fun of it and I enjoy writing them. Never thought I'd get rich off it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Where the Map Ends

This is a pretty clever site and I think it is very promising for folks like me.

www.wherethemapends.com

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Hobbit Rides Again

Son Number One has gotten a sudden urge to start reading. Since this is something that I want to encourage I've gone out and bought him a couple of books in the last week or so. He's rapidly reading through The Bartimeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. However, since I was a bit slow in finding a copy of the third book, he's grabbed my ratty old copy of The Hobbit off the shelf. I have to think about it but I think this will be the fifth time that copy has been read in the almost thirty years since I got it. Well, maybe sixth. Anyhow, it goes to prove that great books can always earn their spot on the shelf of you life.