Friday, December 28, 2007

A Long December...

...and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving
And these days go by so fast...
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
And if you think that I could be forgiven...
...well, I wish you would...

Since I posted the front page of my current Moleskine to my Flickr account, I thought I might as well go ahead and post it here. Oh, when my weblog and anablog collide!

I got into the habit of keeping something of a journal - the term 'anablog' came up in a conversation with some shipmates, for 'analog blog' - during this last deployment. I mentioned my love of the Moleskine way back in October; I filled the Pocket Ruled mentioned in that entry, started on a Pocket Squared, lost it shortly after arriving back in the World, started another Pocket Ruled (as seen here), and then found my Pocket Squared again. It wouldn't be so funny if I hadn't predicted it happening in my first entry for this notebook.

Oh life, how you do love irony.

I've been calling my anablogs 'Letters to Nobody' because, frankly, that's what they are - letter or conversational format ramblings on whatever's taken my fancy at the moment, interspersed between collected quotes, notes to myself, reminders, shopping/to-do lists... all the usual minutiae, I suppose.

So, last night was Jason's birthday, and I had graciously volunteered my place for the festivities - drinking and playing Twilight Imperium, we geeks being such a wild and crazy bunch of guys. I then promptly forgot about the whole matter until people appeared on my doorstep. Since they brought beer (and Mike brought Sailor Jerry's rum, a heavenly booze indeed), I let 'em in. There was quite a bit of drinking, not so much the Twilight, and somehow things degenerated into drunken cosplaying. Well, you can see the pictures on the Wanderer Chronicles, but I warn you, they're not a very pretty sight.

I suppose I should also confess that all the goofy coats, hats, and weapons wielded are mine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

O Come, All Ye Faithful...

....joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, o come ye,
To Bethlehem...
Sing, choirs of angels -
Sing in exaltation,
Sing all ye citizens of Heaven above!

Twisted Sister version, of course.

Wishing you all a merry Christmas, and more to come. Still not a lot going on with me; I've finished Christmas shopping for my family (and a good thing, too), but still have a bit to do for friends. Fortunately, I'm not likely to see too many of them before New Year's - grants me a bit of time. ^_^ Looking forward to spending Christmas Day with the family, if I can ever get to sleep tonight - my sleep patterns are all sorts of FUBAR at this point, which is less than good.

Monday, December 17, 2007

When I awoke today...

...suddenly, nothing happened
But in my dreams I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path
And up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my own footsteps once again...

The downside of being on leave, relaxing at home, is that there really isn't anything to blog about. The party went well, much booze was drank, much laughter was laughed, much conversation was conversed, and a good time was had by all. The Rifts game I'd been hoping to run for a while went much, much less well - problems with the system, difficulties between people, and a grumpy, grumpy me led to an early end and drinking. I've been staying up all night and sleeping all day - par for the course for me when I'm on leave, I've always been more of a night owl. I've pretty much finished all my Christmas shopping, with my brother being the only sticking point - I've been playing a lot of Red, Dead Revolver - I'm trying to restart Sorrowfell, although that's going to depend on whether or not my players bite.

I haven't left the area since I came home, although I'm starting to feel itchy feet - when the Supply gets back to the World, I'll probably wander up to New Jersey with Blue and pay it a visit, not least 'cause I left things behind that I'd like to get back, but also 'cause it'll be cool to see Wally again. I'd like to make a weekend of it and get into New York, but we'll have to see how things roll. Cat and I are talking about heading out to western Virginia or West Virginia to snowboard/ski/tube sometime in the early New Year; and I'd kinda like to pay Dani a visit out in the wilds of Indiana. It's my turn, after all.

So, that's about it for me. Nothing new, nothing wrong, just relaxing and taking life day by day. It's kinda nice.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My life has been extraordinary....

Blessed and cursed and won
Time heals but I'm forever broken
By and by the way...

So, I'm home. The flight from Greece was uneventful, and far more comfortable than I'd imagined; the Delta transAtlantic was almost half empty (half full?), and Delta seats, while a little cramped in the shoulders for me, had plenty of leg room - something I almost never have, whether I'm flying, on a train, or even in a bus or car. So, it was a pleasant trip. My mom was out of town when my flight got in late that evening, but my brother and father met me at the airport; we dropped Blue off at his home, picked up my car from my parent's home, and then finally, I got to go home. Cat was waiting at my house, and we spent several hours talking and catching up on all the things that had happened while I was gone.

Wednesday was a lazy day, mostly spent recovering from jet lag, poking at the mess of a house I left behind when I deployed, and catching up with some friends; Thursday, my dad and I ran errands, picked up my mom from the airport, had lunch with my little sister, and then culminated the whole thing by buying one of my birthday presents, a very shiny new motorcycle jacket (pictures possibly forthcoming, but don't hold your breath). Friday the whole family got together to decorate the Christmas tree, indulge in some light bickering (hey, 'tis the season), and celebrate my mother's and my birthday - yes, they're the same day. My mom continues to refer to me as her best birthday present, which after 16 hours of labor and then 26 years of actually living with me really does say something about her generosity of spirit.

Which brings us to today; I slept in for the first time in forever, waking around noon with the nagging feeling that my house is a wreck, and yet I'm having virtually all of my local friends over this evening for a welcome home party. So, I've spent the last several hours desultorily straightening up the living room; the dining room is next, as well as vacuuming all the leaves out of the entrance hall; at least that should go quicker, as it's mainly a case of cleaning the books, mail, and other junk off the dining room table. After that, I should hit an ABC store - while my alcohol inventory is disgustingly broad (I have a liquor closet, since I didn't need the space for linen. Says something.), I am missing a few necessities - Jack Daniels, for instance, and Bailey's. I'll probably get some peppermint schnapps, as well, and another bottle of Panama Jack - the one goes wonderful with hot chocolate, the other with hot apple cider. Mmmm.

So I should probably stop procrastinating, and get on with it...

Monday, December 03, 2007


Also, Happy Birthday to me. I turned 21 in Souda Bay, now I’m turning 26… wonder if I’ll turn 31 here, as well? Going out tonight with a bunch of shippies, for a combination going-away and happy birthday party. Should be fun, although I can’t indulge too much, for fear of missing my flight in the morning.

The thundering waves are calling me home...

...home to you.
The pounding sea is calling me home, home to you...
The thundering waves are calling me home, home to you
The pounding sea is calling me home, home to you.

I'm coming home.

It's been a somewhat momentous couple of weeks since last I wrote; we've visited Dubai again and left, for the last time. We visited Djibouti again, and left, for the last time; and it was a much more pleasant stay than the first time, probably because I wasn't involved with cargo operations, and actually had a chance to see the place a little more. I put in a leave slip on our departure day, visited Camp Lemonier - the American Joint Task Force Anti-Terrorism Base - wandered around downtown Djibouti for a little while, and all in all had a rather enjoyable time. Of course, a few days later I came down horribly ill - despite having neither eaten nor drank (other than bottled alcoholic beverages) anything out in town. C'est la vie...

We transited the Suez Canal without incident while I was preoccupied transforming my insides into my outsides. The Mediterannean is delightfully cooler than the Gulf, or the Arabian Sea, or any of the other southern climes we've been lingering in since summer; it's strange, to walk outside and feel chilly, or to have to wear a sweatshirt in the open air rather than the frigid confines of berthing, but I like it. I've always been a creature of winter and autumn, rather than sun and summer.

And, of course, most importantly - I'm coming home. Tomorrow morning I leave the USNS Supply, possibly for good (who can tell? It's a small fleet, after all...), board a big silver freedom bird, and wing my way west, slowly going backwards in time as I go. Tomorrow night, I hope to be in the arms of my loved ones again. It's been almost six months since I've seen them; it's hard to say just how much I've missed them.

I'm coming home.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Quick Update...

Blogger is also on the list of websites not allowed on Navy computers, apparently; at least, when I tried to log in to remedy the odd HTML-like code e-mailing the last entry in added to it, not to mention all the random extra line breaks, I got the dreaded Webwasher page. Sigh… looks like e-mail will be my only means of blogging (not, I confess, that I do so as often as I should) until I can either reach an internet cafĂ© again, or – more likely, given our schedule – get home, and back to my own internet connection.

So, now you know.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's an angry sea but there is no doubt...

That the lighthouse will keep shining out
To warn the lonely sailor –
The lightning strikes and the wind cuts cold
Through the sailor's bones, to the sailor's soul
'Till there's nothing left that he can hold
Except the roaring ocean

But I am ready for the storm, yes oh ready I'm
I'm ready for the storm, I'm ready for the storm

So here we are, week two of NaNoWriMo. I've been falling a bit behind lately – I was consistently ahead of schedule the first few days, and then we stopped in Djibouti, Africa, and I got a bit delayed. No chance to write that day; working cargo all day long, quite a bit of pallets to load and not much space on the tiny, dirty pier to load it in; and then went out that night, to see if the town really was as bad as everyone had been saying. It was dirty, stinking, and full of people asking for money or aggressively trying to sell you things, but no worse than Marmaris, Turkey had been – or for that matter Tijuana, Mexico. Just goes to show, no matter where you go… there you are.

That said, I was still rather happy to leave Africa; the humidity, dust, and malaria prophylaxis were hell on me, and I was still fighting a pretty vicious head cold. I’m also not particularly happy to learn that we’re going back. Bah.

But getting back to NaNo, I’m about 14,000 words to the good – still about 2,000 behind schedule, despite taking today off and having little time but to write. Truthfully, I’ve had little to do all week but write – there’s a great picture on my Flickr account of Madb and I getting our wordcount on at flight quarters, helicopter taking off in the background. That pictures is also featured in the NaNoWriMo blog at . I’d love to post it in here, but Blogger’s refusing to load for me again, and I’m actually mailing this entry in off from my ship’s e-mail account. I really hope this works properly…

Speaking of e-mail, the Navy finally got around to fulfilling their dire warning of no more commercial e-mail access on government computers; I haven’t been able to access my Gmail, AOL, or even Facebook inboxes for some time now. I have other e-mail to keep in contact with home and friends, but if you’re on Facebook and are tempted to send me a message… write on my wall instead, I’ll be able to read that sometime before December.

Speaking of, still looks like I’ll be home sometime between the first week of December, and the third. This is good… I’m definitely hoping for the first, despite the inconvenience involved in flying home, and despite the fact that getting paid off in Earle would actually pay me better – being overdue for relief nets you $25 per diem for every day overdue, and were I to be paid off in Earle, I’d also get about $300 travel money to get me back to Norfolk, VA. Still, every day on here seems to drag just a little bit longer, wear on my nerves just a little bit further, and make me miss home just that little bit more. It’s time to go.

So, that looks like about all the latest from me; merrily writing away on my novel, out of Africa, soon to go back to. Which, unfortunately, means that I’m going to be taking this freaking malaria pills that much longer… ;_; My dreams, never ‘normal’ even in the best of times, have taken on all kinds of freakiness. I was dreaming about WarMachine last night… well, amongst other things.

Where I stand with Toy Soldier’s War: our hero Chase has just been shot down on the pavement by the cruel alien invaders, after bravely fighting in defense of his school and city. I was originally planning on starting Act 2 with him waking up in his cryogenic tube, but I think instead I’m going to cut to the Lancer squadron he will soon be joining, as a routine day goes ugly for them – and they discover the laboratory Chase is in. After that, we’ll cut to the Ranger squadron that finds Chase, and our Hero in a Bottle… and carry on from there

Ja ne!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I can see the lights in the distance...

...trembling in the dark cloak of night.
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Soul's night...

So, Happy All Hallows, All Saints, All Souls, Samhain, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, or holiday of choice to you. ^_^

We're back at sea again after a grueling sprint in Jebel Ali; we pulled in Wednesday last for a light load of cargo, planning on pulling out Saturday. Thursday we loaded more than we'd expected, working steadily throughout the day; Thursday night, some shipmates and I went out on the town, hitting various clubs until eventually ending up at a place called the Seaview, known for its live music. The band was decent, not as good as The Rock Spiders (see my entries for November of last year), but they knew how to jam. The bass player was especially good, switching instruments to the lead guitar for an excellent cover of Guns 'N Rose's "Sweet Child of Mine" as the finale. Friday was a lazy day; I'd put in a leave chit, hoping to finally drag Wally off to the indoor ski ramp at the Mall of the Emirates, but unfortunately we were both well burdened with hangovers. Ended up spending the entire day at Elmondo Internet Cafe, a good eight or nine hours stuck in the Wired - I regret nothing. While we were chilling at the cafe, one of our shipmates came by and mentioned that the sailing board had changed - rather than sail Saturday, we were now sailing Sunday, as the USNS Lewis & Clark wasn't going to make it into port.

At first blush, this sounded like an invitation to roll out and drink heavily again that night; but we were both still a bit hungover, and at any rate, I had duty the next day, and I'd been taking too many weekends off lately anyway. So, the next morning I woke up and headed out to work. Good thing, as I was on the cargo POD - doing a BS job, namely netting cargo. Unfortunately, at 6'3" with dirty blonde hair and a copper red beard, I stick out pretty well on deck - so when the bosun assigned all the otherwise unassigned dayworkers to go back and net cargo, the unrep bosun grabbed me out of the crowd to run elevator 6. Running the cargo elevators on deck is a boring, tedious, and pretty undemanding job; the elevator comes up, you flick the switch to 'stop', lower the safety net, and move it out of the way. The forktruck driver loads cargo onto the elevator, the operator replaces the safety net, switches the elevator to 'run', and pushes the button for the destination. Then you sit back and wait until the elevator comes back up, at which point the cycle repeats.

What was supposed to be a fairly light cargo load, a liberty port stop, suddenly turned into a marathon sprint, loading hundreds of pallets of cargo - everything we were originally scheduled for, everything the Lewis & Clark was scheduled for, and a good deal of other items besides. Scuttlebutt whispered that the security situation in the UAE was about to blow up on us, and all American ships were pulling out; discreet inquiries to the mildet, or to the security detachment, were met with a flat "I'm not at liberty to discuss that". Around 7:30 at night, they called deck department fore and aft - we were shifting berths from Shed 66, cargo loading, across the river to Star Energy - fuel loading. I'd been running the elevator all night, with a quick break when our fork truck died to grab some food - one of the steward utilities had ordered pizza. When I came up out of berthing, the bosun stopped me and said that he needed me to remain behind.

Remain behind?

Apparently, several people hadn't made it back to the ship yet - the sailing board had changed while they were out in town, and they weren't aware that the ship was shifting to Star Energy tonight, or leaving early the next morning. So, in case they made it back before we left, the ship was leaving a couple of people behind at Shed 66, along with the ship's agent, and a hired van and driver. I was volunteered as one of the stay-behinds.

It's a peculiarly lonely feeling, watching your ship pull away without you. Sure, the van was right there - and they were only going across the river, at any rate, so it wasn't like I was lost. Shed 66 has hordes of security - Navy MAs, hired Gurkhas, and probably layers of defense I'm not entitled to see - so it's not even like I was anything less than completely safe. Still, a lonely feeling...

Round about midnight, the guard at the gate paged me over his PA, asked me to stand by. Well, I'd been 'standing by' for the last four hours. No skin off my nose. Turns out the ship had called the pier guards, and asked them to send me home. Well, 'send me home' apparently got turned into 'bring me home', 'cause the next thing I know they're escorting me back onto the pier, giving me a safety briefing, taking down my personal information for their records, and slapping a life jacket on me. I rode across the river on one of the Navy security boats, climbed a short ladder up to the pier at Star Energy, and strode down the sandy stretch to the gangway. The watch looked at me, slightly goggle eyed, not expecting anyone to come aboard at half past midnight at a pier with restricted liberty. I shrugged as I walked on.

So, to wrap up a long story - that was my weekend. I slept in, Sunday - Monday and yesterday both have been a long stream of unreps and moving cargo around, and today promises to be more of the same. All well and good, keeping busy makes the time go by - unfortunately, I seem to have picked up one hellacious head cold somewhere, and my foggy sinuses and fuzzy head are making me pretty miserable. It looks like a busy week, more underway replenishments in the offing, culminating with a stopover in Djibouti, Africa, to pick up cargo. I spent last summer in West Africa (Liberia and Ghana); I can't say I was expecting to go back to the continent, but at least it's East Africa, something new, this time. The schedule still seems pretty torn on whether or not we'll be returning to Jebel Ali, or the UAE at all, this deployment, but they still seem pretty firm on our return to the World this December. I have in for the first of the month off, although it looks like my earliest opportunity to leave would actually be sometime later that week, and things aren't really clear as to whether they'll spend the money necessary to fly me home, or merely pay me the (much cheaper) overdue for relief fee upon putting into Earle around the late middle of the month. Either way, I should be home in time for Christmas - I'm keeping my fingers crossed. >_<

Midnight tonight marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, and I am well and truly pumped for it. Finally settled (somewhat) on a title; the tenative working title is going to be "Toy Soldier's War", sticking with the same story I was thinking of for WANI and have spoken of here before. I have plans to either stay up until or wake up at midnight tonight to write; probably not too much, given how sleep has been a fairly elusive partner for me lately, and my dreams have been troubled and disturbed. I don't have nightmares - haven't since I was five years old, and had one so horrible it burned the terror out of my night time excursions since - but I've been known to wake up in the morning with a groggy, "What the hell was that all about?"

But I suppose I've rambled on enough for one entry, and although I'm on the most private computer in our little library, I can still see people peeking over at me as if wondering just how much longer I'm going to monopolize the internet.

Happy Writing to everyone engaging in the great adventure this November. ^_^

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's easier to believe in this sweet madness...

...oh, this glorious sadness, that brings me to my knees...

Elmondo internet cafe again. It's only been a couple of weeks since last I was here, but it feels like months - I've been puttering around on the internet for a while now, not being too particularly productive but enjoying myself thoroughly. I'm in the middle of a large upload to The Wanderer Chronicles - older photos of Souda Bay, from February of last year. I've been meaning to upload them for a while, but every time I sit down in front of an internet connection, it slips my mind. Figure that I might as well make good use of my Pro account's unlimited upload, and start clearing away some of the back log. ^_^ Not too many new photos, unfortunately, there just hasn't been quite as many exciting things going on aboard - just the same old routine. I can't really complain, but it does make for a less than amazing Flickr page. >_< Ah, well, maybe this next underway will bring more photo opportunities...

I was kind of surprised to find a comment from my mom on the entry before last, and two comments - one from my friend Lyn, the other from my friend Mark - on my last entry. I mean, wow... people actually read my blog. >_< But then, that's why it's public, and why I give people the address... and for that matter, why I have an RSS feed running to my notes on Facebook, so people can read it easier. So, hi mom! Hope I haven't been swearing too much on here. >_< Foul language, I've found, is quite the occupational hazard for a sailor...

My iPod, Molly, has begun giving me trouble again - it's been about a year now without any serious problems from her, so I suppose I can't really complain. That said, with the new iPods rolling out in 80 and 160 gig video - not to mention the iPod Touch - I think the time has come to look at upgrading. I took the first step today, buying a 4 gig Nano ('Jacqueline') to listen to while I work and work out - anyplace where its smaller size might be an advantage, and its smaller capacity less of a limitation. When I get home in the winter, or maybe around the new year, I'll take the next step and pick up one of the larger iPod classics, along with the requisite new FM transmitter - the perfect tool for road tripping.

And speaking of road tripping, I find myself possessed of the strangest urge to wander when I get home. I've always had rambling feet, so I guess it's not too odd, but one might think that after six months away from home my primary concern would be being home. For the most part, it is - I'm fairly proud of the fact that I've only missed one Christmas at home over the course of my life (2005), and I'm in no hurry to repeat that... the holidays have always been a time for family and friends, as far as I'm concerned, and like the song says, home is where the heart is. That aside, I've been plotting various trips for the otherwise unoccupied weeks and weekends around the holiday itself, and thinking of friends who could give otherwise pointless wanderings an end result... namely, my friend Billy in Florida, my friend Danielle in Indiana, and my friend John in Texas/Kansas (school/home). Of course, a lot will depend on their schedules as well as mine, not to mention weather and road conditions around that time of year... but I have hopes, especially since I haven't seen any of the three for over a year now, and I miss their company.

Speaking of travels, my little sister is getting ready to wander off to the wilds of Jolly Olde England come the new year. I confess to a horrendous sense of jealousy, but also a sense of anticipation - she's been planning this scholarly voyage abroad for some time now, and it certainly gives me the perfect excuse to visit the British Isles when I get off my next ship, hopefully sometime before she returns home in June. Not too mention a near-native guide, if I can manage my time off to coincide with some of hers. We've been talking it over on Facebook lately, and I confess to being somewhat stoked over the possibility.

It's an amusing contradiction, given how much time I spend away from home, but I really don't travel all that much - MSC ships generally stick to the same familiar ports, after all, whether that be the Holy Trinity of Roda (Spain), Souda Bay (Crete), and Augusta Bay (Sicily) for tankers, or the much less holy Jebel Ali and Fujiara here on an ammo ship. Admittedly, West Coast ships get a much more delightful list to choose from - it's one of the best reasons for switching coasts, although I have too much waiting for me in Virginia to willingly take that step right now - but to a greater or lesser degree, it's true whichever ship you sail. MSC goes where the Navy goes, and where it's safe for us to go, and where our cargo is waiting for us... and with few exceptions, that's about it. I've seen a lot of amazing places in the past few years, but it seems to me that it's not enough... and I want to see more.

So, maybe it's not that I don't travel all that much, but rather that I'm just not satisfied with the traveling I do. One of the reasons I've aspired to be a writer is that with that profession, a man can write anywhere - I wouldn't be tied to any one city, or country, or continent. And, as the years pass by like shooting stars and I find more and more gray hairs on my head every day, maybe it's time I stopped talking about it, prodding the idea like a new tooth that I can't quite decide fits or not yet, and start doing something about it.

November's coming... I've already proven that I can write a novel, if I sit down and try. I think the time might have come to write something that I can publish.

Of course, going into NaNoWriMo with such lofty goals is pretty damn silly - after all, the point of November is to write, and not to worry about things like publishing, literary quality, or even coherence. But, come December (and the much more informal 'National Novel Editing Month') I might just have the time to ponder these subjects...

Yay, my Flickr upload is completed! Went off a lot smoother than I expected, actually. ^_^

So, NaNoWriMo; I think I'm going to go with an idea I originally had for a novel-in-a-year club my friend Danielle envisioned. The club sadly seems to have died a lonely death, but the idea has spent the last year or so ricocheting around the inside of my skull like a Flubber pinball, and I think it might have distilled down enough to finally be written. The idea had its genesis after watching Rahxephon on my journey home from the Gulf last year - I'd been thinking about doing a mecha story for a while (Snow Patrol's song "Run" stuck in my mind as being perfect for a slow motion, overly dramatic mecha fight scene when I began working on a [now defunct, big surprise] web comic a couple years back), so it's not surprising that watching a big-mecha anime would give me an extra boost of inspiration.

I have yet to come up with a title; it's possible that I've been thinking about it too long, and something might very well suggest itself to me when I actually get into the thick of things and start writing. It's a little frustrating, as both 2005 and 2006's NaNovels were well named going in.

The story revolves around a young military student (Jason "Chase" Barret) who, after a devastating attack on his academy by unknown enemies, wakes up in a cryogenic tank surrounded by soldiers. Over a century has passed since he was frozen, and Earth is under siege by an alien invader - the Rivari. Most of humanity has perished in the hellish war, and only a few fortress cities - megacities, for lack of a better name - remain, fighting desperately to survive. Jason's profile matches that required to pilot the fabled Lancer, humanity's last, best weapon against the alien; and against his will, for the survival of his race, he's thrown into battle. Lost in time and meaning, what will become of our hero?

I like the concept of the temporally displaced protagonist; Lancer pilots are usually determined long before they reach adolescence, and are purpose-trained for their eventual roles. Because they're incredibly rare - a mere handful among the millions of humans left in the megacities - they're incredibly valuable, and in many ways are treated more like prisoners than soldiers - their movement and activities tightly controlled, never allowed to risk themselves off the field of battle. For most of the Lancers, these tight controls are accepted - after all, that's the way it's always been. How is a 21st century teenager likely to react to this, however? Especially when he's been ripped from his home and family and thrown into a war he can barely comprehend?

A couple of scenes have already all but written themselves in my head, and I've been busying myself over the last week or so jotting down other notes as they come to me - the other Lancer pilots of his squadrons, details of the Lancer itself, thoughts about the Rivari and the megacities. I can barely wait for November. ^_^

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Now there's an ocean between...

...where I am and where I want to be
So you prayers in doubt, doubt not for me.

Ugh, it's about 5:30 in the morning out here, and here I am - perched in the library, typing away. Recent activities had me wiped enough where I crashed out just after dinnertime last night (not that I went... ship's food seems to be on a downward spiral the longer this cruise goes on, and I really hate to see how bad it's going to be come December), and after eleven or so hours of sleep my body decided it had enough. So here I am, marveling at how many other people are awake this morning... we were supposed to have call outs for an unrep pretty soon, but times have changed and now everyone's awake for no reason.

Not that it affected me one way or the other, since my team wasn't getting called out until later anyway.

I'm happy to see that Blogger seems to be working on the ship's computers again, because my plan to get into an internet cafe this last time in port ran afoul of the shoals of a major cargo operation; we were in for an overnight, and I got stuck working until midnight. >_<

My latest addiction is the Moleskine , a charming little notebook with hard covers and an elastic band to keep everything all together. I purchased several from a bookstore in Emirates Mall the last time I went ashore, but so far I've only used one of the pocket-sized ones. I have hopes for the others, with NaNoWriMo 2007 fast approaching, but my pocket 'skine has been my constant companion since I purchased it, great for writing down just about anything that crosses my mind. I'm not sure what it is about Moleskines, but they have quite the cult following - and mine, at least, really do make me want to write. Which is good, 'cause God knows I can use all the encouragement I can get... as if the sad lapse in this journal wasn't proof enough.

I recent upgraded my Flickr account to Pro, meaning I get unlimited storage space and unlimited uploads per month - I figured it was about time, especially with the new camera and all the pictures I've been uploading lately. Unfortunately, the ship's internet connection is too slow to upload them the normal way on here, and when I e-mail them in, some of them seem to be going astray... I'm watching and waiting right now to see if the latest three I've sent in will load, but I'm not seeing much activity.

Whoops! Spoke too soon, the first picture seems to have loaded, and I have hopes that the other two will quickly follow. ^_^ This just seems to be the day for things to work properly... but here's hoping I'm not jinxing myself by saying that.

National Novel Writing Month is fast coming upon us again, and again, I'm tangled up in the idea of what to write. I've wanted to do an anime-mecha type story for over a year now, but I'm also getting an idea for a sort of horror story... and another one that involves the undead, but is more of an action story, ala Underworld. Ah, decisions, decisions... No matter which story I settle on, though, I think I'm about as adequately prepared as I'm ever going to be.

So, I guess that about does it for now. There are some other things I've been thinking about, but the line for the computer is growing, and I should probably save something for my (hopefully soon) next entry. Ciao.

Friday, August 24, 2007

So many people have come and gone...

...Their faces fade as the years go by
Yet I still recall as I wander on
As clear as the sun in the summer sky

Its more than a feeling, when I hear that old song they used to play (more than a feeling)
I begin dreaming (more than a feeling)
till I see Marianne walk away...
I see my Marianne walkin away...

I freaking love the guitar in that song, and no mistake. One of my favorites.

So, I'm sitting in a little courtyard in Ibn Batutta Mall, using an internet cafe's wifi. I'm so metro it hurts, sometimes. This also marks the first time I've made back-to-back blog posts, other than updating Yon Lonesome Road - which reminds me, I should put up 2006's NaNovel, Searching For Avalon. Well, the completed parts of it, anyway. >_<

Seems I was mistaken about the UAE shutting out Flickr - despite all the warning signs I received when trying to access it on the USO wireless last night, I'm getting through just fine now. Weird! Updated, although most of the pictures I've taken (and I've been snapping away like a fiend lately) are fairly bland, and probably not of much interest.

Friday night (late afternoon/early evening, actually) - I'm planning on hitting the clubs tonight, or at least the bar at the Seaman's Center, and getting fairly well ripped. Tomorrow being Saturday, I've traded away my duty and have absolutely nothing on my plate except for coming back out this way and spending more time bumming around on the intarwebs. I'm fairly caught up on my comics and forums by now, so maybe I'll get some writing or some such done tomorrow.

Or, more likely, I'll be lazy and enjoy the time off. ^_^

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Whoa whoa da di da dam dam baby...

...whoa whoa da di da dam dam baby,
I close my eyes
I tell you how much I care
then you smile and say to me 'let me be your destiny'

Latest music addiction is techno - managed to score several gigs of music(and more pr0n than I care to discuss in a public venue) from a friend on the ship, and I've been rocking out on a regular basis lately.

So, here's a new milestone in my blogging 'career' - I'm sitting on the signal bridge, the second highest deck of the ship, in what is easily ninety degree heat, never mind the fact that it's 8:30 at night out here. I'm hooked into the local USO wifi net, which despite being at Shed 66, probably a quarter mile from where I'm sitting, still reaches us. The connection's a bit wonky, unfortunately, which means the fistful of vouchers in my pocket, each supposed to last an hour, probably won't get me through the next forty minutes... but I'm online, on my own computer, with a decent connection rather than the snail-like ship's comp.

The UAE apparently has a bias against Flickr - I can't access the site, instead getting bright red warning labels telling me to turn back, for the love of Allah.

Okay, I'm being hyperbolic - but man, am I happy the ship lets me e-mail photos in, 'cause otherwise you happy people would be without visual reference on my oh so exciting journey.

So, as you can probably tell from the context clues, we're back in Jebel Ali... just another sprint of loading cargo and carrying it back to the fleet. I'm still waiting on a couple of packages, one from home and one from ThinkGeek, but I highly doubt I'll see hide nor hair from either before September... the fleet Postal Service just doesn't move that quickly. Funny, how I can beat a package across the Atlantic, even though I'm on a ship and it's (presumably) being flown.

Was contacted by an old friend on Facebook, a school chum I haven't talked to since she moved to Hawaii our junior year (Hi, Laura!)... hopefully she'll still be in the area when I make it home, I remember her being pretty fun. Admittedly, my exposure was sitting next to her in Oceanography class, so I might simply be remembering everyone who wasn't the teacher (with his Ben Stein monotone) as being bright and entertaining. Speaking of Facebook and old friends, another person I haven't talked to in forever tracked me down, presumably by looking for old classmates - Micki, my friend(?) Rob's ex-girlfriend. Haven't talked to her since she and he called it quits, which made seeing the friend request an odd thing - but since Rob and I haven't talked to each other in almost a year, now, I guess there's no reason not to.

A year ago. Last time I talked to Rob was when I moved into my 'new' place, living on my own for the first time...

A year ago today, I was on the USNS Apache, somewhere off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia. We'd recently put out a fire on the MV Tahoma Reefer, rescued a half dozen Liberian fishermen who'd capsized in rough water, and generally kicked ass and taken names. I missed home, but I was doing pretty well - holding my own, holding a turn. In five days, I'd get the word that my best friend and roommate had killed himself. Four days after that, I'd be sitting in a hotel room in Ghana, waiting for my flight home.

It's hard to believe it's been a year since Joe died... I still miss that boy so fucking much. I dream about him, sometimes... he never seems to know he's dead, but I always do. I'm torn between telling him and just enjoying the moment, knowing that I'm going to wake up soon. He's always happy... I hope he really is, wherever he might be.

I think my main reason for believing in life after death is because I can't stand the thought that this is our only chance at things. Reincarnation or afterlife, I hold onto the hope that I'll see old friends again.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I picture you in the sun...

...wondering what went wrong
And falling down on your knees, asking for sympathy
And being caught in between all you wish for and all you've seen
And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in
May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you

It's somewhat ironic that the day I decide to update my blog is the day my little sister (hi, Jess!) leaves a comment on my last entry, asking me to update my blog - funny little coincidence there. Ahem.

Well, we're well and truly in the Burning Lands now. The temperature's been cresting a 100* Farenheit every day, the humidity ranging between 80 and 100%, the sun bright and cruel. This is our second time ducking into Jebel Ali, the port area of Dubai (or a neighboring city to Dubai, I'm not entirely sure - this whole area is very, very peculiar). We're working hard - running into port, loading massive amounts of cargo, unrepping the local battlefleet and running back in to rinse and repeat. It's pretty miserable, and the heat is murder - but the money's good, and it actually feels pretty nice to be working. The pace on the Supply when we're in the States is slow, the work pretty boring - it's good to be doing something for a change, and the faster pace of the work fills the days and makes them rush by pretty quickly. Well, usually - standing on the pier under the sun, a minute feels like an hour.

I'm keeping hydrated, refilling my Camelbak M.U.L.E (3-liter) two and even three times throughout the day, but I keep sweating it out as fast as I can suck it down - had some serious trouble with heat rash and chafing when we first got into the Gulf, but I think I'm over the worst of it now - just gotta keep changing my shirt as it gets soaked. I've found wearing an undershirt helps a lot, too... but that's probably more than anyone really wanted to know.

My external harddrive, "Wanderer", finally died on me the other day - it's been giving me a lot of problems lately, and finally gave up the ghost. I was lucky it did so on a day when we were in port - Dubai has a lot of electronics stores, and I managed to replace it within the day with a 160 GB model. Also picked up a nice set of headphones - together, the two cost me 700 dirham, about $200. After dinner at the Emirates mall, I had a couple pints of Guinness at the Seaman's Center in town, where a shipmate asked me to play wingman for him when he made his approach on a tableful of British chicks. Figured what the hell, ended up spending much of the rest of the night talking with them - turned out they were sailors off the HMS Richmond, although they kept Dino (my shippie) preoccupied by claiming they were in the UAE on a cruise ship, on holiday. Pretty amusing watching him try to prove that they were military - he finally got one to slip and spill the beans, probably 'cause she was the drunkest of the bunch. They eventually split off, and after hitting a couple more clubs Dino and I called it a night.

Next night I had duty (again - hurray for money!), and was suckered into washing the ship. We hooked a firehose up to the pier potable water source, and got busy spraying all the dust off the bulkheads and deck. Had a nervous moment when I spotted three women on the other side of the wall of connex boxes that surround our section of the pier; they seemed kind of off color. When I saw one of them gesturing at the ship and making counting gestures, I tipped off one of our security det. When he and I walked outside, they split.

Might be nothing; might be something. It's the thing I hate most about being over here, other than the heat; you never know when someone's being friendly 'cause they're friendly people, 'cause they're trying to get you to buy something, or 'cause they're getting ready to stick a knife in your back. They say Dubai's safe for us, or they wouldn't be letting us pull in; but there are way too many people with guns on board for me to really relax out here.

The odd cultural blend around here throws me sometimes, too. The stores one sees in the mall are often the same ones you'll find in the States, and people, I've found, are basically the same everywhere you go - same clothes, same attitudes, same mannerisms. Then you walk by a pack of women in burquas, or the mall PA system starts playing the call to prayer, and you suddenly remember you're a stranger in a strange land. So, in conclusion: I hate the sun. I miss home. But I love the money, and Lord knows I could use it right now. Keep on keeping on.

Monday, July 23, 2007

There's a light at each end of this tunnel, you shout...

'cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
And these mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around -
So breathe, just breathe...

Rota, Spain.

The city hasn't changed much since the last time I was here, summer 2006 on the Apache. I didn't get much of a chance to get out and around then, and I spent most of my time this time around on a bar stool or a patio watching the beach (and the local fauna), so maybe I'm not the best observer. It's a Navy town; they have lots of alcohol, and the priestesses of the sacred bar are devoted to their art, and the rest of the locals would be just as happy if you'd piss off and leave them alone. Air Force guys are surprisingly fun to drink with, although it helps if you tell them "Opsec" when they ask you why you're here. They think I'm Special Forces or something -guess he didn't see the swinging gut.

I'm trying to lose that, although it's a slow process not notably assisted by this weekend's intake of liquid calories in the guise of lovely lovely ethanol. Guinness really is the beer that drinks like a meal, and other than the occasional cushioning layer of fuzzy water piss beer and sweetening shot of Jameson, is about all I consumed this weekend. Still, I'm making progress; at the root of this sudden foray into fitness is a wager with the Chief Mate as to whom can lose the most weight within the first two months of the deployment. Given that I've got twenty years less and sixty pounds more than he, I think my odds are good - I'm already down between five and ten, though I should probably check that now that we're in port and the rolling seas aren't going to keep throwing the scales out of whack.

Finally watched Scrubs season 4, and it hooked me enough to pick up season 5. Watched all of Wonderfalls - a seriously awesome show in the vein of Dead Like Me, with special bonus appearances from Jewel Staite. Many thanks to Damaris for first bringing the show to my attention, and now I really wish I'd borrowed it from her rather than waiting this long. ^_^

I bought a new hat. I know, usually hats and I get along together about as well as tall bulky men with incredibly large heads and inevitably too-small flappy things can be expected to get along, but I think this one rather works - which of course is the usual first sign that I look ridiculous. The second one, of course, is when people compliment me on how well it looks - which has also occurred. But it shades my face and the fabric is SPF 50, and being bound for the Burning Lands and all, it's probably all for the best.

On the other hand, somebody just (quite literally 'just') referred to me as "Indiana Jones", so maybe I'm just missing the warning signs.

Next stop, the Burning Sands, sometime towards the middle or end of next month. Or the month after, nobody's really sure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Once again with the tide, she slips her lines...

...turns her head and comes awake,
Where she lay so still there at Privateer's Wharf
Now she quickly gathers way
She will range far south from the harbour mouth
And rejoice with every wave-
Who will know the Bluenose in the sun?

So, we're deployed. Six months - or maybe more, although I plan to leave the ship and fly home sometime in December - overseas, ranging from Spain (briefly) to the Persian Gulf (not briefly). There's a lot going on - the lazy lethargy that's lingered over the ship for several months has been dispelled in a sudden frenetic burst of activity, as we loaded ammo, departed NWS Earle, and prepared for the arrival of our helicopter Airdet, all at once - and today has been nearly as hectic, with preparations for unrep intermixed with emergency drills. The fun starts early tomorrow and looks like it'll run for almost two days straight as we meet up with the ships making the crossing with us, and some who are returning home in need of fuel.

Busy, busy.

I made a wager with the Chief Mate sometime ago, as to who could lose the most weight in the first two months of the deployment - I'm off to a great start, I think. I've been eating healthier and hitting the gym, and the brutal heat is certainly taking its toll, too. Not to mention things like having to don my full firefighting ensemble or immersion suit under the sun today - not fun, but it certainly can't hurt my chances at winning any.

I feel oddly drained with all that's going on, beaten down and worn out - and yet, I can feel a peculiar energy under my skin, too. I wake up easier in the morning than is usual for me, and I don't feel tired during the day - maybe it's just early optimism before the grind of the deployment begins to wear me down, or maybe it's the change to a healthier diet, but I feel pretty damn good. Maybe this is what leveling up feels like.

I miss home, friends and family, but it feels great to be out to sea again - the wide open sea around us, the salt breeze stinging the eyes and filling the lungs with its fresh, clean taste.

Finally got around to watching Wonderfalls, and it was as good as expected - looking forward to the remaining two DVDs of the series. In the meantime, I've been catching up on Season 4 of Scrubs - the ending of Season 3 left a bad taste in my mouth, and it's taken me this long to get over my intense dislike of the main character to be able to sit down and watch it. It's still funny, I just have to restrain the urge to yell things at J.D. everytime Zach Braff comes on scene.

I feel like I've got more that I want to say, but I'm not entirely sure what... and seeing as how my coffee break has run overlong, I need to be moving along anyway. Maybe more later.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The tide has turned, and the ship bell chimes...

...So raise the cup and think betimes
Of this poor sailor 'pon the sea
Whose passing is but memory

'Tis not that I would have you think
Of this but as a friendly drink
For with my heart I loved you truly
Though I'm forced to treat you cruelly

For the fever's upon me
And the Captain is calling
I cannot stay with thee
My destiny's calling
I'll never be free, but I do what I must
A captive of my wanderlust

The tide is turned and so we sail
This brief sojourn has now grown stale
The wanderlust has me, indeed
I care not where my travels lead

The captain asks if I'm a-feared
A smile tangled in his beard
His laughter tells me he must know
The pain that I now undergo

For the fever's upon me
And the Captain is calling
I cannot stay with thee
My destiny's calling
I'll never be free, but I do what I must
A captive of my wanderlust

I cast my fate into the wind
I have no mate, nor kith, nor kin
For I must go where I am sent
A victim of self-banishment

Orion has become my guide
And Venus is my willing bride
With wanderlust my fuel and feed
I roam the world as 'tis decreed

For the fever's upon me
And the Captain is calling
I cannot stay with thee
My destiny's calling
I'll never be free, but I do what I must
A captive of my wanderlust

For the fever's upon me
And the Captain is calling
I cannot stay with thee
My destiny's calling
I'll never be free, but I do what I must
A captive of my wanderlust

~Heather Alexander, "Wanderlust"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

This island is big enough for every castaway...

...but most of us are looking 'round for someone else to blame...

Sitting in a Borders somewhere in Red Bank, New Jersey as I write this... switching it up a bit from our usual Barnes & Noble visit, although the wireless is a bit pricier. $10 for 24 hours is certainly a better deal than $3 for 2 hours, but I won't likely be sitting in here for 24 hours - work in the morning, and the store needing to close, and all.

Visited home this weekend past, although only briefly - most of the weekend was spent driving, with a nice visit with Cat thrown in for good measure. She was taking part in a field trip in western Virginia, near Charlottesville, and I managed to meet her out there - we saw some of the sights in Charlottesville on Sunday, and I finally managed to meet her friend Kave, a medical student and generally cool guy. I've been hearing stories about him since Cat and I started spending time with each other, and it was nice to finally attach a person to the various anecdotes (like the one about how she cracked one of her ribs pouncing him one time...) Our stay was extended slightly when Cat lost her keys - fortunately, she discovered this fact before she and I separated and my rental car and I went speeding down the highway, so we rushed back to Charlottesville and rampaged about retracing our steps until we recovered them at an ice cream parlor. There was much rejoicing.

The drive back up to New Jersey sucked (but then, given the destination... I keed, I keed...), but I returned my rental and made it back to the ship intact and on time to get a little rest before starting an MHE - Material Handling Equipment, or fork truck - school bright and early Monday morning. The rest of the week has been spent driving fork trucks around and learning far, far more than I ever really desired about the buggers. Passed my written test today with flying colors (big surprise), but I'm feeling a bit nervous about the practical tomorrow - it doesn't help that the weather, hot and humid all week, has taken a turn for the gloomy and tomorrow might very well receive the rain predicted for today. Class isn't canceled for inclement weather, so if it's pouring rain when my turn comes to drive the truck tomorrow - well, them's the breaks. >_<

Still haven't begun work on my screenplay, and given that the end of the month is the day after tomorrow, I might as well admit that I'm a non-starter for this year. Not my proudest moment, especially given how excited I was in the months prior... but for whatever reason, I just didn't get into it. Ah, well... there's always NaNoWriMo in November.

Less than two weeks until we deploy. I think I'm ready, as far as stuff goes, but I'm not entirely sure if I'm ready, emotionally. A large part of me is ready to quit the States for a while - I get a sort of caged in feeling when I'm back in the world for a long time, and it's been six months since last I was overseas. On the other hand, some bit of me is already ready to say screw it and go home.

Guess we'll see how this one goes.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I can't get to sleep...

...I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications

Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know I'll be alright
Perhaps it's just imagination...

Kicked back in my bedroom, on my futon, looking over at the scattering of dirty laundry and clutter that really needs to get cleaned up before I leave. Just a few more days - then it's back to Jersey, and not long after that, back to the Gulf. The weather's taken a turn for the warm lately, riddled with summer thunder storms aplenty - and oh, how I love the rain - and searing heat and stifling humidity the rest of the time. I don't know what adds more to my misery - the uncomfortable temperatures (and mind, I've always been a cold weather creature) or the knowledge that the current 90+* heat is absolutely nothing compared to what we're going to see when we get back to the burning lands.

Despite taking most of the last week off to get personal business done, I've managed to accomplish pretty much nothing... par for the course, I'm a horrible procrastinator and as lazy as the day is long (and in summer, that's pretty damn long). This makes the weekend a little crowded as I try to squeeze in the last few things I need done, something not helped by getting woken up at an ungodly early hour this morning by my brother, who had discovered his apartment flooded and needed some help getting things back together. Turns out his water heater had developed a serious leak during the night... quickly replaced by maintenance, who also managed to get a carpet cleaner to the apartment in good time, although things are still uncomfortably damp over there at the moment. In the meantime, his two cats are running around my place. They surprisingly haven't done much damage to anything as of yet, although I did take the precaution of moving my fish (Moby, a Christmas present from Cat) to the master bathroom and keeping the door shut - best not to tempt the hellions, after all. I'd forgotten just how much I missed having a cat around the house, but it's not a situation I'm likely to remedy any time soon. After all, it's pretty damn irresponsible to have a pet when you're out to sea most of the year.

Cat and I caught Knocked Up the other night; I found it surprisingly good, plenty of humor (both in witty banter and in general goofiness), although it did little to encourage me to budge from my current anti-parenting stance. I don't think I'm cut out to be a father.

Speaking of Cat, I managed to install the drivers and support software for the MobilePro 790 I bought her - she's off to DC for the weekend, visiting the ex, and since she lacks a laptop this gives her internet (and some word processing) capabilities for her classes. I'm curious as to how the MP will work for her; as much as I adore Madb, I haven't used her extensively, or as my sole means of computing, thus far. She makes a wonderful backup when Cat monopolizes Eris for school work, though, so she's worth the money I put into her.

Speaking of computers and money, I've been toying with the idea of getting Liira fixed - since my printer has decided not to cooperate with Windows Vista, I wouldn't mind having an XP machine around the house, and you never know when an extra laptop might come in handy.

Joined my friends Mark and Elijah (and Elijah's infant son, Cyrus) for sushi today, a rather nice all-you-can-eat sushi buffet near our former gaming hang-out, the Hobbytown off of Virginia Beach Boulevard. Surprisingly good food, I ate until I was stuffed - which is good, because I'm absolutely ravenous right now. I'm supposed to be fasting in preparation for some follow up bloodwork tomorrow (cholesterol... sigh...), and I neglected to eat anything before my 9 PM cut off, thanks to an unforeseen nap this afternoon. Lord knows I can stand to miss a few meals, though, so I'm not in too bad a shape - it's just annoying.

Haven't actually gotten anything written for my screenplay yet - I never seem to get any writing done when I'm home, so I suppose it's just as well we'll be off to sea/New Jersey pretty soon. As things go, I'll have lots of catching up to do...

But I guess that about wraps it up for now. Despite this entry's choice in music, I'm going to need to take a serious shot at getting to sleep soon if I have any hopes of getting up early for the doc visit... I'm also supposed to meet up with Mark to maybe catch a movie (he nominated the third Shrek flick, about which I've heard disappointing rumors), and then meet my parents for lunch/dinner in the late afternoon. And somewhere in the middle, finish cleaning my apartment. >_<

Thursday, May 31, 2007

And the sun's been quite kind, while I wrote this song...'s for people like you who keep it turned on...

Just another day in paradise. Out to sea once again, pulling in tomorrow... this'll be the last time the ship's in Virginia for a long, long while, though I'll hopefully get a chance to catch a train or rent a car and make my way down for a weekend or two before we deploy. Got a lot of things to clear up before we go, renewing my lease, picking up my medications, and all that rigmarole... I'll take the weekend and most of next week off, unless they suddenly decide I'm too vital to let go. O_o It's happened before, although usually the powers that be have more sense. I am, after all, just another deck ape - one of almost forty, and hardly irreplaceable.

Not a lot else going on, we've finished up a number of unreps - quick ones, for the most part, just a long line of tincans topping up their tanks before they pull into port, but it helps the day go by. Tomorrow's payday, which is good - lord knows, I can always use the money. Haven't played Neverwinter in a few days, which I suppose means I broke the addiction - I beat the original campaign, and Shadows of Undrentide just doesn't seem to grip me. I'm fooling around with the Winter Assault campaign for Dawn of War right now, but with Script Frenzy starting tomorrow I'll probably drop that, too, at least until the end of June.

Shipmate lent me Wonderfalls... haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but my friend Damaris has spoken highly of it (she also compared it to Dead Like Me, which is one of my favorite shows... so here's hoping good things will come of it).

And... that's about it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I may be old and I may be bent...

...but I had the money 'till it all got spent.
I had the money 'till they made me pay,
Then I had the sense to be on my way.
I had to stay in the underground -
I was in the house when the house burned down.

Sitting in Barnes & Noble again, enjoying coffee and internet. They tell me the ship's computers are working again, but I haven't had a chance to prove it for myself - I'm going to need to do all the regular rigmarole of renewing my account and setting up. Nothing too major, just a hassle when I'm trying to juggle other things with my free time... like Neverwinter Nights.

I finally managed to get NWN and Vista to cooperate (thanks in no small part to downloading the offered patch), and I spent all weekend holed up in the rack playing obsessively. The last time I played I only made it to the opening of Chapter 2, playing with my roommates at my old house - meaning it was at least early '05, possibly even '04. I've made it further this time, and I have some hopes of actually finishing the game - finally. Of course, I picked up the Diamond edition, so I'll have two expansions and a fistful of modules to play through if I make it through the main game.

I've got a bad habit of picking up video games, playing them obsessively - like scorning food and sleep to cram in a few more minutes - and then losing interest as quickly as I gained it, letting them lie half finished and never touching them again. It's a waste of time and money, so I've mostly weaned myself of it; thank god I've never had the time for MMPORGs like Everquest or WoW, because I'd probably be one of those sad saps found dead at his computer. It's been a while since I've been hooked like this, but a good D&D-based game will do it to me every time.

The ship's still in New Jersey, but we'll soon be underway again - not going anywhere in particular, just cruising the water off the coast and doing training (and a few actual) unreps. It's kind of nice to be doing something, anything, again. I'm almost looking forward to deploying. Training squats, practice unreps, with another MSC ammo ship - the USNS Mount Baker, an older and smaller ship with a lousy reputation in the outfit.

Several of my friends are hooking together solid plans to attend Gen Con this year, which fills me with envy and sorrow - the ship will, of course, be overseas at that time. I could - maybe - make Origins, if I pushed, but a smaller group than normal is going this year, and they're going primarily to spend time with a friend whom, while I don't actively dislike, I also don't particularly get along with. They're also looking at flying up, and then staying at his house, which removes two of the things I enjoy about the con experience - the road trip to and fro (for whatever reason, I enjoy long car rides and road trips), and staying in the hotel at the con (while massively more expensive, having one's room so close is oh so convenient). So, no dice for Origins and bloody unlikely for Gen Con - which makes me quite the sad J.

And, as previously mentioned, incredibly envious of all those who are going.

And... that's about it for this update. Eagerly awaiting Script Frenzy in just over a week, although I'm still pondering just what I'm going to write. Here's hoping my NWN addiction doesn't get in the way of my writing. >_<

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Whatever gets you through today...

Life continues on.

Ship's in New Jersey right now... I've been meaning to write for the last week or so, but at first, whenever I sat down at the computer I just couldn't think of anything to say. Then the ship's LAN and satellite linkup went down, and I was effectively struck mute anyway... I'm sitting in a Barnes & Noble in Holmdel, NJ right now, about ten minutes (and a $13 cab ride) from the ship. My bank account is at $-26 right now, but I've got about $200 in my pocket... and no way to get it into my bank account. 12 AM Friday is payday... so I guess I'll just keep on keeping on. There's little doubt that this temporary bankruptcy is doing horrible things to my credit, but I can't seem to bring myself to care overly much... I've been borderline burnout for the last week or so, and I don't even know why. I'm not depressed, or down, or angsty... I'm just kind of 'meh'. Like worrying about things is just too much of a bother... I'm still laughing. Heh, and iGoogle serves me an appropriate quote - "Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so." - John Stuart Mill. Thanks, Google.

There's a huge storm outside right now... much more impressive when it was coming on this afternoon, heavy winds forcing everyone in the Deck Department to seek shelter as it whipped the seas to a froth and rolled the ship, even tied to the pier, lightning lashing an angry sky, a gray curtain of rain rushing across the sea at us... all that potential, reduced to a paltry dribble and a chilly wind. Typical Jersey.

It's really not that I dislike Jersey, I just don't want to be here... but I didn't really want to be at home, either, and at least this way I'm saving money on food and gas, and I've got the extra motivation to work overtime and make more money. I just feel out of place, I guess, maybe with myself... like nothing fits right, and nothing feels right. It's pointless, and it's stupid, but that's the way things go, I guess.

I've been taking pictures like a fiend, lately, all the better to feed the blog... many of them are worthless (and I've learned, to my mental scarring, to never forget my camera in the crew lounge again), but a few might be worthwhile. I'll try to get them up before either my battery or my hotspot account run out... I've got another hour left, and even as slow as this connection is that should be sufficient. For the most part, they're just slices of shipboard life - things we're doing, none of which are momentously exciting (although some of the shots as we tie up or let go from different piers were nice enough).

I feel so metro, blogging away in a coffee shop. Emo blogging, at that. Tee hee. Which reminds me, it's time to satiate my poorly neglected caffeine addiction.

...mmm... Peppermint Mocha...

So, The Office of Letters & Light - the group behind National Novel Writing Month - are starting a new crazy adventure, Script Frenzy. The objective is to write a 20,000 word screenplay or stage play within the thirty days of June, and since I've proven myself incapable of writing anything without a firm deadline, I've signed on... even though my script writing experience is nil. But hey, 50,000 words was, once upon a time, an undreamt-of goal for me, too. I've bounced around on my ideas for a while, now, but I think I've finally settled on one - and like my first NaNoWriMo novel, it has its roots in a different project I was working on, once upon a time.

I dubbed the project "Odyssey". It was a roleplaying campaign, originally intended for D20 Modern, but other ideas were bandied about - it never got beyond the planning stages, so it's not like any of the mechanics ever mattered. The name has several homages, to Homer of course, and to an old TV show of the same title that I never really watched, but liked the looks of on the bits and pieces of episodes I caught - something about a kid in a strangely surreal post apocalyptic world where all the adults were dead. Or something. It also had links to a D&D (originally Palladium Multiverse) game I ran called Journeys.

The basic storyline involves a group of strangers - the players characters, of course - on a subway in a major East Coast metropolis (probably New York, despite my lack of actual experience with the city). The train wrecks, and the passengers are miraculously unharmed - but no help comes. When they finally get out of the train and hike to the surface, the find the entire city deserted - as if the population had simply dropped what they were doing, and walked away. What was supposed to follow was a journey across a strange, changed America, where the world - to use the parlance of Stephen King's Dark Tower series - had 'moved on'. In places, there is nuclear wasteland - in others, plague - in others still, the aftermath of natural disaster, or alien invasion, or other countries invading, or all of the above, at the same time. Sometimes, the disaster is fresh and new, still burning, still dying. Sometimes, the world has been dead for centuries... millenia. New life is growing. There are no explanations, and every scattered survivor has their own theory. Somehow, the characters have to make it across America... and maybe even further, across the world.

The original idea was pretty unstructured, but since then the possibility of apocalypse - and what people do in the aftermath - has become a hobby of mine, and writings in the genre some of my favorite. I would recommend S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire, Brian K. Vaughn's graphic novel Y: The Last Man, Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon, George Romero's Dawn of the Dead - the original, of course - and numerous other works which I've no doubt overlooked and haven't the breath to mention anyway. Needless to say, I have a few more ideas to throw into the mix - chances are, though, I won't attempt a movie screenplay, but rather something more like a TV series pilot - meaning I won't actually have to worry about wrapping things up as much.

But I ramble on, and I realize my battery is slowly but surely dying - twenty minutes of power left, and this thing always lies. I should probably publish while I still have the chance, and offer vague promises of future updates... yes.

So, with any luck, I'll write more soon - getting started is always the hardest part. As anyone who knows me can testify, I do have a tendency to ramble for hours on any subject that fascinates me, and at least on a blog I don't have to worry - too much - about people getting bored and falling asleep on me. I mean, it's not like I have to look at you, dear Nobody.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's so hard to find my way... that I'm all on my own...

Not looking forward to the coming week. No particular reason not to, nothing particularly dreadful looms on the horizon; hell, the ship's coming out of the yards, so pretty soon things will be back to normal. For some reason, I've been pretty down the last half of the day today... started out a little meh, with my parents waking me up far too early asking questions about my Flickr album, but things went a bit smoother after that; Cat invited me out to lunch, which I declined, and then Mark invited me to see Hot Fuzz, which I jumped at. Cat at first agreed to join us, and then reneged, citing the need to study for her exam tomorrow. Can't say I blame her, as her grad school choices depend heavily on her GPA for the this semester, and work and school have been pressing her pretty hard.

Her loss, though, as the movie was excellent, as good or better than Shaun of the Dead; very funny, with a heaping helping of action thrown in at the end for good measure (and fortunately, without interrupting the laughs). Couple of predictable moments, but overall very solid, and definitely recommended for those who don't mind language and gore.

Hung around the mall after the flick, got sushi and coffee with Mark and Mike, and then headed for home; went shopping with Cat, and then after she got off work went and got dinner with her. Despite nothing going wrong, or even being wrong, I've been feeling weary and depressed since I got home; probably just the general sort of malaise I get every so often, and soon to pass (there's a reason Danielle once called me 'the moodiest man alive', after all), but it doesn't do much to help me out now.

Did indeed get my 900c, which I've decided (with some assistance from Dani) to name 'Madb'; unfortunately, this entry is still being written on 'Eris', thanks to Madb's inability to access the new entry page on Blogger. Still, she can handle most websites I frequent pretty well, and she has a word processor; that right there accomodates 90% of my computer needs, and probably 100% of my travel needs. If I could get Armies of Immoren to run on her (probably a feeble hope, given the lack of Java) and a better word processor than WordPad, I'd be one happy camper indeed.

That latter should actually be a possibility; I've been browsing the various Handheld PC fansites on the web since I became interested in getting the MobilePro, and there are an awful lot of add-ons and support available amongst the user/hacker/modder community. Some assembly required, of course, but I think the gains are worth the risks...

Just realized I mentioned Eris without explaining. As I mentioned way back in November, I name all my electronics; my (60 gig photo) iPod is Molly, my PSP is Alexia, Madb is my MobilePro 900c, and Eris is my Acer Aspire 5100 series notebook (her predecessors were Liira (an Averatec 3200), and Kimmi (a Sony VAIO whose model number I've sadly forgotten, not that it really matters to anyone but a die-hard techie... which even I fail to count as). There are generally reasons behind the name; Eris, in this case, is because my computers are almost always sources of chaos, mischief, and frustration - I just figured I'd acknowledge the situation up front, this time around.

So, there you have it. I desperately need to go grocery shopping... and come to think of it, I need to transfer my laundry from washer to dryer before I crash for the night. I'm hoping to make it to sleep within the next half hour or two; while our hours are shifting back to our normal schedule (meaning 0800 to 1630 for the work day, rather than 0730 to 1530), giving me an extra half hour to to get in to work tomorrow, I've an awful tendency to stay up far too late on Sunday nights - making Mondays extra miserable. Guess we'll just have to wait and see how this one works out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Breathe in for luck, breathe in so deep...

...this air is best, you share with me...

Not a hell of a lot going on here in J-land, just thought I should write... trying to keep in the habit. Sorrowfell continues to toddle along, never quite dead but never as alive as I'd like... differing schedules, my own random approach to updating, and the slow pace of online roleplaying in general all combine to make a frustrating morass of the storyline, as events that take only seconds in the game - and would probably take a few minutes to play out in real life - go on and on for weeks or months.

But whine, whine... if that's the most I've got to complain about, then I'm doing well indeed, hey? Took today and tomorrow off from the ship to try to get some personal business done, and ended up spending today being a lazy bum - big surprise to everyone, I know. I've done a little laundry and spent some time burning myself at the beach, but other than that I've been right here, doing just this - glued to my computer, snorting frantically to get my internet fix. This is our last weekend in the shipyard, and probably our last weekend in Virginia for some time, coming up; I'm looking at working it, as my 'vacation' in San Diego set me back a little bit, and I haven't been working anywhere near the overtime I should be. I suppose it's pretty cheap to take two days off during the week and then work the weekend for the extra money, but you kinda take these things as they come to you.

The weather's taken quite a swing for the warmer - I'd almost gotten used to the late fall temperatures rolling through the area, and all of a sudden summer rears its ugly head. I've always been a cold weather kind of person, although New Jersey in February of this year came close to freezer burning that out of me; it doesn't help that the pier we berth at in Earle stretches about two miles out into Sandy Hook Bay, leaving us to the tender mercy of a biting wind. Still, I'm most comfortable when the temperature is in the 40-60* F range, and the recent surge into the high 80s has left me miserably overheated... an unwelcome, teasing taste of what we're going to be dealing with in a few months. And I'm planning on sticking around for the next trip to the Gulf, in the summer, where the temperature has been known to reach 120*...? Clearly I've gone crazy.

A random post on one of the NaNoWriMo forums triggered the kewl gadgets lust forever lurking just one small step below my conscious, this time for the very cool looking NEC MobilePro 900c, a handheld PC. Yes, I did just purchase a new laptop, but this one's smaller. I've got something of a craze for tiny computers which my current laptop and its 15" screen just can't handle... I was able to get the 900c for a song on eBay, but now I'm trapped in that horrid sargasso that is the wait for shipping, and the hours - don't even get me started on days, or even weeks - drag by like years. As Carrie Fisher once said, "Instant gratification takes too long."

But with luck, my next update to this blog will come from my new, tiny sidekick - which I like to imagine myself carrying everywhere, ready to spring into writing action at the very moment of inspiration, but which I will probably use in the same manner as I do its much larger cousin, currently comfortably settled into my lap. Now, I just need to think of a name for it...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

With just one kiss, you could change the world... might not be much better, but it certainly couldn't hurt.

So; I'm still alive. I know it's been some time since I've updated this, but I did warn you that it was random - and that I have an absolutely horrible track record when it comes to journals, blogs, diaries, and anything else that one is supposed to write in on a daily basis. To update the concerns from last time; the ship is back in the States (currently in a shipyard in Norfolk, VA, as a matter of fact, so I am actually home - a wonderful thing), I did make my goal of 50k words for NaNo, but once again failed to bring the novel to a satisfactory conclusion and then stopped work on it. I did add a little bit this past week, but I haven't a clue yet as to whether or not this is an indication that I'll actually pick it up again.

As far as my recent activities, I just flew home from San Diego; my cousin Curtis died recently from injuries sustained in Iraq, and my parents and I flew to California for the funeral, and to provide what help we could for his family. Curt was a couple of weeks older than I, and his older brother died last year - I'd only met them a couple of times, but their father is my favorite uncle and I hate watching him go through all of this. Funeral vigil and service were very sad, not something at all I'd like to go through again - but then, nobody ever said they were supposed to be pleasant, and having fun wasn't what I was there for.

That said, I'd like my funeral to be a hell of a lot more entertaining - held in a cabin in the woods somewhere, by a crystal blue, and very deep, mountain lake. I'd like an old fashioned wake all night, with whiskey, dancing, and song, and as the sun rises I'd like for my body to be laid in a longboat, with a backpack behind my head, a sword on my chest, and a bottle of whiskey in my hand. Then light the boat on fire and push it out in the lake. An Irish wake, a Viking funeral, and no crying.

Sounds like a plan to me.