Posted by: Michael Kingswood | July 16, 2015

Cell Phone Companies Suck

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck that, and fuck them.

I’m done.

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

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

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

I will NOT be fleeced!

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | July 15, 2015

Time For A Promo

I’ll keep this one quick.

It’s been a busy month and a half or so.  I still need to post my June wrap-up; I’ll get to it.  But for now, I wanted to let everyone know that I’m putting Glimmer Vale (Glimmer Vale Chronicles #1) on sale from now until the end of the month.

$0.99.  Pretty good deal.

Since the fourth book in the series is just about ready and should be out around the end of next month, now’s the time to get to reading if you haven’t already.

Hint, hint.

Hit the Glimmer Vale Chronicles tab above for links to all the various stores you can find it on.

:)

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | June 1, 2015

Your Tax Dollars At Work

What the ever-loving fucking FUCK????!!!!????!!!!!???!!!!!

So I try to access my TSP account (Thrift Savings Plan in case you don’t know the acronym – the 401k for government employee types that I have access to because I’m in the Navy). It’s been >7 months, so I don’t remember my password.

So I go into the lost password utility on the TSP website. And get told they’ll mail – FREAKING MAIL – a temporary password to me. I should call if it’s not here in 10 business days.

Today, the new password (FINALLY) arrives.

I go to the TSP website. Enter the temporary password.

It prompts me for a new password.

SERIOUSLY?

So I enter a super-strong password, one that it says meets its criteria.

And then I get a red message saying part of the website is down now, and will I please go back to the login page?

Sure, no problem. So I click the login page button and it takes me back to the password change screen where I need to enter my new, strong, password. I do so. And get the red message again.

I do this three more times, then say screw it, hit the logoff button, and close the TSP tab in my browser.

A few minutes later, I re-open a new tab and go to the TSP website.

NOT ONLY DOES THE NEW PASSWORD I CREATED NOT WORK, BUT THE GODDAMN TEMPORARY PASSWORD THEY SENT IN THE MAIL DOESN’T WORK EITHER!

AND NOW MY ACCOUNT IS LOCKED OUT!!!!!!!!

What the flaming fuck??

Does the TSP have retards in their IT Department or something?

Of course, the answer to that question is obviously yes, because what self-respecting IT professional would willingly take a job for the government unless it was their last possible choice?

*mutter*

*mutter*

*spoken under his breath as he stomps away* I’m going to burn the building down…

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | May 30, 2015

May Wrap-up

Hola amigos.

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

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

Not a word of new fiction.

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

I did finish some books, though.

Audiobooks:

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

Written:

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

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

Audiobooks In Progress:

  1. Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris

Written In Progress:

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

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

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

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

That’s it for now.  Later, all.

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | May 5, 2015

Myke and Brad

Every now and then I stick my foot in my mouth.

You’re shocked, I know.

I came across this open letter to Brad Torgersen on Myke Cole’s blog via Larry Correia‘s Facebook feed.  It got me fired up, and I decided to comment on it.  Given I was irked and pressed for time because I had to leave to pick up the kids from school, I was less than eloquent in getting my point across with my comment.  Reading back, I’m munching on a shoe or two over there.  Now, I doubt any of Myke or Brad’s readers will ever see this post, but since I’ve gone and spewed on the Internet, and that can’t be undone, I figure I might as well take the time to really say what I meant to say in that comment.  For peace of mind, if for nothing else.

First, full disclosure.

I don’t know Myke Cole.  Never interacted with him at all.  Never read his stuff.  That said, I’ve heard him speak on several podcast panels and interviews.  He seems like a decent guy.  The only complaint I had about him was the hands-on-hips, face-pointed-into-the-wind-so-it-can-dramatically-fling-his-hair manner in which he always worked “I’m in the military” into the discussions.  Yeah…whatever dude, join the club.  That said, I’ll grant it’s a strong selling point for him, because how many writers know the grip of a rifle from the muzzle?  All power to him if using his military experience helps his career; I shall cast no stones here for that.  (All the same, as a Navy guy I have to ask if anyone knows the reason the Coast Guard has a 5 foot minimum height requirement? …  So if their boats sink, they can walk to shore.  :P )

I do know Brad.  We’re not intimate by any means, but I’ve interacted with him online for some time and we hung out at last year’s Writers of the Future awards.  Again, not exactly tight as thieves but I’d like to think I’m not out of line to consider him a friendly acquaintance.

I’m not familiar with the statement Brad made which set Myke off here.  I just got back from deployment and I’ve had better things to do than scour the interwebs for the latest kerfuffle – I only came across this screed because I happened to see it linked to Larry on Facebook during a quick scan.  Maybe Myke’s objecting to something Brad said further back.  Dunno.  Don’t care.

Look, I’ve had to set fellow officers straight before because they were messing up.  Mostly those junior to me, occasionally a peer, and once or twice more senior officers, up to and including my CO.  It’s part of the job, and expected: forceful backup is a primary tenet of submarine operations.  So I have no issue with one officer correcting another.

That said, there is a way to do that sort of correction, and I do take issue with the nature, style, and content of Myke’s open letter.

The entire letter is condescending, and lacking in professional courtesy or respect.  Does he honestly think that Brad doesn’t know that, as an officer, he has a duty to all of his men, regardless of their personal situation?  Or does he just think Brad knows but doesn’t care?  Brad’s been doing this for a long time now.  I think he gets it.  And who the hell is Myke to lecture anyway?  He doesn’t work with Brad, doesn’t serve with him.  They’re not in the same chain of command, and neither has authority over the other.  Has he ever observed Brad’s professional behavior?  If not, he’s just speculating not even based on hearsay, and has no standing to judge or cast dispersions.

It’s not just condescending to Brad, but to the soldiers Brad serve with.  Does he really presume that they are so thin-skinned and hyper-sensitive that they’ll go all wobbly at the knees because an officer in their unit might have said something, somewhere, about someone, that could be construed as offensive?

I mean, I know Myke’s been there and done that, but did he actually pay attention to military people when he was serving with them?  The teasing that goes on between military personnel can be brutal.  It’s part of how people relieve stress, and not meant to be hurtful, but it can be intense and covers most any topic.  Soldiers are pretty thick-skinned.  They’re also tough enough to let someone know when they’ve gone too far.  And most of the time once that happens, people take note and that particular line doesn’t get crossed again.

That would be how adults deal with situations.

There’s an old saying that also addresses how adults (and professionals) deal with situations: praise in public, rebuke in private.  If Myke really had a problem with Brad, he should have addressed it to him.  In private.  Not to his blog audience.  Doing it the way Myke did publicly denigrates a fellow officer to no good effect.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that Myke’s thesis is correct, and Brad will discriminate against his homosexual soldiers, if any.  Well, there’s a way to handle that, too.  If a soldier has a problem, he addresses it to his Sergeant, who then brings it up the chain to Brad’s attention.  Or he goes to Brad directly.  This sort of complaint happens on occasion, and most of the time it gets resolved there because neither party had malicious intentions.  But let’s say Brad didn’t fix himself.  The soldier could then make a formal complaint that bypasses Brad completely, going to the Command Sergeant Major and CO directly.  They would then investigate and take action as needed.

You know what wouldn’t help, or really do a damn thing about the situation?  A blog post from a Coast Guard Reserve officer who no one has ever heard of outside of the books he’s written.  I’m quite certain Myke knows this.

The entire piece reads as self-aggrandizing, moralistic preening.  The sort of thing that drove me away from John Scalzi‘s blog, that says “look at what a great person I am and how horrible people are who differ from me.”  It stretches plausibility to think that Myke really intended this to help Brad improve himself, or that he wrote it out of genuine concern for Brad’s soldiers.

It is an act of public shaming, nothing more, done for Myke’s own benefit, to put himself on a moral high horse and show how cool he is to his readers and writing peers.  It certainly can’t benefit Brad, or the Army.

Myke should be ashamed of himself.  And frankly, if dueling were still allowed under the UCMJ, Brad would be completely within his rights to demand satisfaction.

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | April 29, 2015

End Of Deployment

It’s been a weird sort of day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was successful physically, too.  Observe:

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

This was a couple weeks before I left for deployment.

This was about 2 weeks ago.

This was about 2 weeks ago.

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

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

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

Audiobooks

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

Written Books

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

I’m currently in the middle of:

Audiobooks

  1. A Canticle For Liebowitz – Walter M Miller

Written Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d best be getting on that.

Talk to y’all later.

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | April 7, 2015

The 2015 Hugo Awards and Puppy-Related Sadness

So everyone’s talking about the Hugos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I didn’t, though.

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

Not sure if that makes any sense.

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

Well, we’ll see.

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

My bad.

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | March 27, 2015

More Reading and a General Update

It’s been a month since my last post, and I figured I’d give an update.  Got some more writing done; almost finished with a story I’ll be submitting to Writers of the Future in a few days.  Participated in some cool operations, but of course I won’t go into that here.  Maybe some other time, and someplace else that’s not so public.  :)

I’ve been working out, of course.  I’m one week from finishing Insanity for the second time this deployment.  That’s been fun, and of course, the workout is no joke.  Once I’m done with this round, I’m going to focus on weights and the exercise bike (I hate treadmills or I’d run.  At least the bike we have has videos of various routes on the Tour du France, so it’s not completely mind-numbing).  Earlier in the deployment I had been working hard on my pull-ups, but I got tendonitis in my elbows so I stopped for a while to heal.  It’s been a couple months now and the elbows feel 100%, so I re-started my pull-up regime yesterday.  Obviously, I’ve lost some of the progress I’d made before, and I went with sets of two (before I was doing sets of 3 or 4) so as to not press too hard too soon.  But I’m back on the horse again, which is good.

And of course I’ve been reading and listening.  Here’s what I’ve finished over the last month.

Audiobooks:

  1. The Legend of Drizzt – R A Salvatore
  2. The Telltale Heart and Other Stories – Edgar Allan Poe
  3. Eternity Base – Bob Mayer
  4. The Gripping Hand – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  5. Jumper – Steven Gould
  6. Dead in the Family – Charlaine Harris
  7. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

Written Books:

  1. Totaled – Kary English (it’s a short story, but it counts.  And, it’s awesome)
  2. Fiction River: Moonscapes – Various
  3. The Black – Paul E Cooley

Of course, the next question would be what did I think of these various books?  Well, you can look to Goodreads for that.  But suffice it to say I enjoyed all of them, to one extent or another.  Can’t say any of them left me disappointed or pissed off, and most left me grinning.  So that’s a good thing.

I’m currently reading the following.

Audiobooks:

  1. The Sam Gunn Omnibus – Ben Bova

Written Books:

  1. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris (going slow on this one)
  2. Monster Hunter Vendetta – Larry Correia (I was just starting this as of last post, but got distracted with other books first, obviously. I’m about 1/3 done now)
  3. Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman (After all the whining from the continually offended over the title, I HAD to get this book and read it.  I’m about 2/3 done)

So…what’s next up?

Audiobooks:

  1. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker
  2. A Canticle of Leibowitz – Walter M Miller
  3. The Bourne Identity – Robert Ludlum (I keep meaning to come back to this one.  I started it about a year ago but stopped a couple chapters in.  Not that I don’t like it, but for whatever reason I just felt like moving on to other things)

Written Books:

  1. Darkship Thieves – Sarah Hoyt
  2. Running From The Night – R J Terrell
  3. Monster Hunter Alpha – Larry Correia
  4. The Disappeared – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  5. On Basilisk Station – David Weber

Yeah, I know.  My list of upcoming written books is different than it was last month.  And I read some things this month that weren’t even on the upcoming list last month.  What can I say, I’m flighty.  Or something.

So that’s what’s up over here.  Deployment’s still fun, but I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to be done.  Just one more month to go.  :)

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | February 24, 2015

Deployment Reading

I’ve been getting a lot of reading done on this deployment.  By reading, I mean both reading reading and audiobook listening.  They both count, because hey it’s the ingestion of books, right?

Right.

I haven’t gotten as much writing done in the last month and a half or so as I thought I would, partly because this time has been operationally more busy than the previous two months, but also because I shifted my focus away from getting words down to other things for a little while, reading included.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  It is what it is.  But I’m getting re-started on my writing habits again.  If all goes well, I’ll have at least two more books finished by the time I get home at the end of April.  Or maybe one and a half.  ;)

But anyway, I figured I’d take a couple minutes and list all the books I’ve gone through since I left home at the end of September, both because I feel like sharing and because I know there’s been a lot but I’m not entirely sure how many and I’m curious to count it up.

So, Audiobook first:

  1. The Dummy Line – Bobby Cole
  2. The Gravy Train – David Lender
  3. The Mote In God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  4. Gabriel: Zero Point – Steve Umstead
  5. The Accounting – William Lashner
  6. World War Z – Max Brooks
  7. Watership Down – Richard Adams
  8. The Passenger: Surviving The Dead – James Cook
  9. From Dead To Worse – Charlaine Harris
  10. The Jester: A Riyria Chronicles Tale – Michael J Sullivan

Written books:

  1. Decision Points – George W. Bush
  2. Monster Hunter International – Larry Correia
  3. Warbound – Larry Correia
  4. Writers of the Future, Vol 30 – Various
  5. A Dance With Dragons – George R R Martin
  6. Winning Low Limit Hold ‘Em – Lee Jones
  7. The Theory of Poker – David Sklansky
  8. Hold ‘Em Poker for Advanced Players – David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth
  9. Dead Money – Dean Wesley Smith
  10. The Chaplain’s War – Brad R Torgersen
  11. Big Boys Don’t Cry – Tom Kratman
  12. The Big Ship and the Wise Owl – Sarah Hoyt
  13. Freehold – Michael Z Williamson
  14. One Bright Star To Guide Them – John C. Wright
  15. An Answer From The North – Sarah Hoyt
  16. Smilla’s Sense Of Snow – Peter Hoeg

That’s a pretty good list.  I’m currently listening to:

  1. The Legend of Drizzt – R. A. Salvatore

And currently reading:

  1. Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris
  2. Monster Hunter Vendetta – Larry Correia

On my plate for future audiobooks:

  1. Dead And Gone – Charlaine Harris
  2. Eternity Base – Bob Mayer
  3. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker
  4. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  5. Jumper – Steven Gould
  6. The Bourne Identity – Robert Ludlum
  7. The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories – Edgar Allan Poe

Future written books:

  1. Flow – Arlan Andrews, Sr
  2. Veil Of Lies – Jeri Westerson
  3. The Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes
  4. The Disappeared – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  5. Swarm – B V Larson
  6. In Hero Years, I’m Dead – Michael A Stackpole
  7. Awake In The Night Land – John C Wright
  8. The Nelson Touch: Ark Royal II – Christopher Nuttall
  9. Darkship Thieves – Sarah Hoyt

There are many others in the TBR corner of my Kindle, but those are the ones I intend to get through first.  I’m actually surprised; I thought I’d listened to more audiobooks than that.  But then, I also listen to a lot of podcasts too.  That’s how I keep my mind entertained while I’m working out, or during my evening cigars on the weatherdecks, or if I’m just roaming around on deck working on my tan (yes, for the first time in my life I’ve actually been able to grow and keep a tan, and without becoming a lobster first!  I’m amazed and trilled.).

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  Not a bad four months’ work, I think.  Tell you what, I’ve enjoyed all of these books, to one extent or another.  Can’t say any of the books on the “have been read” lists did not agree with me, to one degree or another.  Hopefully, those on the TBR lists will as well.  Not sure if I’ll get through all of them before I return home in two months (probably not), but I’ll definitely make a big dent in the stack, that’s for sure.

Later, folks.  Go read lots of books – some suggestions are off to the right.  ;)

Posted by: Michael Kingswood | January 29, 2015

Pattaya Beach – or – The Coolest Russian Girl I’ve Ever Met

So I’m in Thailand now.  More specifically, Pattaya Beach.

Dude.

*long pause*

No.  Seriously.

Dude.

*even longer pause*

You know, I’ve heard over the years about how awesome Pattaya is.  Being in the Navy, I’ve heard the stories.  And being in the Navy I know that, however ridiculously overblown those stories may sound, they are in all likelihood 100% true.  Because everywhere else I’ve been that had stories that sounded too good to be true – *cough* Australia *cough* – ended up living up to their reputations completely.

But even knowing that…even being mentally and physically prepared for this place through the hard-won experience of myriad sailors over the decades…the reality still blows my mind.

Completely.

Allow me to share an anecdote to elucidate.

For what it’s worth, my wife will very likely NOT approve of said anecdote, and for that, I beg her ever-indulgent forgiveness.

*pause*

Right.

*clearing throat*

Ok.  So there I was, and this is a no-shitter.

(As an aside, it is generally held to be true that whenever a Navy guy starts off a story with that phrase, it is a either 1) a complete lie or 2) something so awesome he could not have thought to make it up if he wanted to.  This story shall forevermore be filed under the latter category.)

I started out the afternoon with several other fellows who are on the ship with me.  We wandered the beach area of Pattaya, checking out various shops and what have you, for a while.

(Another aside.  One can get custom-tailored suits for ridiculously cheap here.  I knew that when I deployed, but I didn’t realize HOW ridiculously cheap they are until I got here.  Considering I’ll need some good suits for job interviews in a little less than two years, when I’m preparing to retire from the Navy, I intend to pick up a couple.)

However, events and people being how they are, one way or another I, one by one, lost the fellows I was hanging with, until I found myself, alone, on Walking Street.  At night.

Anyone who has been to Pattaya can tell you how precarious a situation that can be.

This fellow approached me, flyer in hand, asking me to come to the bar he was hawking.  The flyer announced things like “Girl-on-Girl Show” and “Boy-on-Girl Show”.  Being in a semi-inebriated state already, I shrugged and figured, why the hell not?  Sounds amusing.

(Yet another aside.  It is my experience that East Asia contains sights of that variety that shame just about anything else one can find.  Anywhere.)

As I walked into the place, I figured it would be just another Buy-Me-Drinkie bar, but maybe with some nifty shows to make it worth the while (most Buy-Me-Drinkie bars suck…more on them later).  Turns out, the place was pretty much empty.  Just me, a small group of dudes, and two girls were present.

I took a seat to the girls’ right.  The dudes were to their left.  Seeing as the dudes were talking amongst themselves, I engaged the girls in conversation.

(I will admit here that part of the reason I did this is because one of the girls was, to my standards – hell, probably to anyone’s standards who has any sense – ridiculously attractive.)

Turns out the girls were from Russia.  Moscow, to be exact.  They told me a sob story about how they’d blown a big chunk of money on something (I can’t remember what at this point), and I, being the sap – *cough* gentleman *cough* – that I am, I bought them both a drink.

We sat in silence after that, as the bar’s show began.

Now.  I have been to the Far East many times.  I’ve seen a number of shows where ladies (I use the term loosely here) do various things using their private parts that one would only think Superman could do with four arms had you not seen it done before.

(Trust me on this.  It is 100% possible for a woman to pick up coins and then deal out exact change for any denomination of dollar bill without ever using her hands to do any of it.)

(No.  Seriously.  Trust me.  I’ve seen it done. One word: Kegels.)

Anyway, this show was nothing special, as far as those sorts of shows go.  There was nothing going on that I hadn’t seen done before.  Mind you, it was still cool, but it wasn’t anything new.  Now, the dudes on the other side of the ladies were loving it.  Turns out they were all Marines, and this apparently was most of their’s first deployment.  So they were all suitably amazed.

Reminded me of my mis-spent youth.  Or it would have, if I were no totally engaged in mis-spending my adulthood too.  At least, this week, anyway. ;)

So time went on, and the girls left the stage.  I spoke with the barmaid, ordering another beer.  When I turned back around, the hot Russian girl was up on the stage, twirling around the poles (of course the stage had poles…duh) like she was born to it.  I did a double-take, then turned back to her friend.  “You said you two were studying law, right?”  The friend nodded.

Ok.

Well, who am I to judge?

I watched, appreciatively, and a minute later, the girl (her name was Julia) sat back down with her friend and the bar’s show went on.

At this point, I began to be suspicious, because when does a random girl just get up and dance on the stage at a bar/burlesque/whatever you want to call it?

But whatever, Julia and friend went back to being chill, and I figured she had just let off some steam.

A few minutes later, though, one of the bar girls was up dancing (to at best mixed attention from the crowd, which by now had expanded to quite a sizable group).  And then, all of a sudden, Julia was up with her.  The two of them started grinding together, and then they split up and Julia began her pole routine.  And then the bar girl pulled Julia’s shirt off.  Her pants followed, leaving her in just her panties and bra.

And then the bra went.

By now, I was sure she had been playing us all for saps.  She clearly was working at the bar the whole time, and she and her friend had been using the whole “I’m a just a tourist, and woe is me I’m low on cash” bit to get us to buy them drinks (because girls at Buy-Me-Drinkie bars get paid based on how many drinks dudes buy for them….and on how many dudes pay their bar fines so they can bring them home with them…but that’s a whole other topic for another day).  And it had worked, because I bought them both a drink and so did the dudes to their left.

But right then, watching her prance around, showing off her body in all its glory (and let’s be honest, it was glorious), I didn’t really care that I had been a sucker and fell for her scam.  Because damn.

Except that it wasn’t a scam.

No.  Really.  It wasn’t.

Once she got back to her seat (after she got dressed again), after slapping high fives with everyone around, she started talking with the Marines and me.  (The Marines and I had struck up a conversation at some point.  Turns out we were both in town for the same exercise, and so we hit it off easily.  Of course, being in the service, we probably would have hit it off anyway, but every little bit helps, right?)  One of the Marines asked her and her friend – and me too – if they wanted to come pub crawling with them to the next bar.  I said I was down, and Julia and her friend agreed too.

So we went to the next bar.

It was an even more blatant “Buy-me-Drinkie” bar.  The kind that advertises its bar fines, and where the girls are blatant about it too.

And those two Russian girls were just hamming it up with the Marines, and with the bar girls, and having a good old time.  And I was left with the inescapable conclusion that, in fact, they had not been putting on a scam.  They were, in fact, just tourists like the rest of us, and Julia had, God bless her, decided to dance on stage and show us her goodies (and Holy Smokes were they good) just because she felt like it.  For fun.  Not for her job.

I left the bar a short time later, completely amazed.  I’ve since come back to my hotel room.  I called my better half, and am now bound for bed.  But I felt I had to relay this story because it sums up the weird, yet awesome, place that is Pattaya quite nicely.

You know, I’ve met a lot of people from a lot of places.  I’ve met a bunch of Russians, and a bunch of Russian girls.  But tonight, this Julia girl has officially topped the list as being the single coolest Russian I have ever met.

And let’s face it.  She’ll probably never be bumped off of the pedestal.

Certainly not by any man, anyway.

;)

Hot damn.  Pattaya, man.

Jesu Cristo.  What a place.

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