Bienvenue

I have maintained an online presence via social media and a blog off-and-on for the last fifteen years or so and now I’ve finally bitten the bullet and have built my own personal website complete with web host. I’ve moved my blog and most of my old blog posts over to the new site mainly for continuity but I haven’t uploaded anything to it in over two years. . . Until now!

The main impetus for creating my own website was to showcase some personal projects I’m working on as well as provide a place for potential clients and employers to come see my previous work and download my resume. I’ve also decided to focus more of my writing efforts on technology, science, and engineering, and less on my own personal anecdotes and as far from political commentary as possible.

I’m really excited about stepping up my game in the amateur blogger and internet hotshot realms. I look forward to many new readers.

Things I Find Difficult Whilst Writing

As many of you may have figured out by now, I enjoy writing. It wasn’t always so. In my younger years, I used to despise it, viewing the act as nothing but a chore to be muddled through. Somehow, during all of my obstinance and procrastinating, I actually became a decent writer, or at least my teachers thought so. In fact, my English teacher in my junior year in high school fought tooth and nail with me to try and convince me to write. I could have cared less then, my focus being on playing football and trying to look cool for all of the girls in my class. But Mrs. S insisted, even dragging me to a writers’ retreat on the shores of Lake Arrowhead run by UCLA. This wasn’t all bad, though, as I got to spend a few nights hot-tubbing with some rather attractive young lasses from other schools. The retreat did give me an opportunity to actually focus on writing and in the process I really learned to like the practice, the ability to ability to put my creative energies to some use being a catharsis of sorts. But I’d never admit that anyone, my own pigheaded stubbornness and ego being far more important than my need to create. I did start a blog, though, excusing it away as a playground to practice my HTML coding skills in, still refusing to admit that I did in fact like to write. I really didn’t fool anyone, but pride cometh before the fall.

After many years of fighting it, I’ve finally given in and have maintained my current blog as time has allowed, and have even begun the adventure of writing a novel all my own. Over the course of writing I’ve run into a few areas of difficulty that have impended the creative process. For the sake of my own sanity, and perhaps that of other writers, I’ll share them below:

  • It is insanely difficult to write dialogue that reads and or sounds real and not forced. In order to do it effectively, you need to write it how you would speak it. Include the guttural sounds and peculiarities of accent if need be.
  • My tendency to be a perfectionist causes me far more headaches than it needs to. At times I find myself typing out whole paragraphs, reading them back, and then deleting them wholesale because I don’t like how they read or they don’t express the idea I’m trying to convey as precisely as I would like.
  • Finding the right word I need is difficult sometimes. Dictionaries and thesauri come in handy.
  • Conveying space and the layouts of different settings can be troublesome without becoming boring. I’m still working on this.
  • Characters and events are far more interesting when the small peculiarities and ideosyncracies are included. It requires attention to detail, but can make or break you as far as making the reader feel immersed.
  • On the flipside of the above, don’t include so much detail as to overwhelm the reader.

All in all, turning the thoughts in my head into coherent sentences can be a difficult process at times and the only thing that makes it easier is practice and the continuance of forcing myself to sit and write.

What You Think You Will Become

I’m a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I always have been, and as I’ve grown older and more involved in politics and fitness, I’ve only come tor respect him and his ideas more and more. Yes, I know that recent extra-marital scandal was a large disappointment, but great men have their failings just like ordinary men.

An old adage from the Gautama Buddha is that everything that we are stems from our thoughts, and thus our success, our evil, our goodness, and our love all rests in our minds and the thoughts that guide our actions. But what does this have to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger, you ask? You see, Ahnuld has long held and expounded upon the belief that the difference between the truly successful and the average person is how they approach the world and their thoughts towards the future. In a rather famous speech of his, Schwarzenegger made the argument that in order to be truly successful, you must create in your mind a palpable vision of who and what you want to be in the future. Only then can you create a course of action to achieve that vision.

He couldn’t be any more correct. Vision is one of the things that separates the greatest amongst us from the rest of the crowd. The many men and women who are remembered in the annuls of history all cultivated a vision for the future and then executed a plan in order to attain that vision. Theodore Roosevelt had a vision of building a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans so that the US Navy could more easily and safely navigate ships between either ocean, thereby increasing combat effectiveness. Napoleon Bonaparte had a vision of conquering Europe and sitting upon the throne as emperor as the many Caesars before him had. Both men had visions that they tirelessly strove towards, each step generating momentum that would carry them to their end goal.

And that is the lesson herewith: That in order to lead successfully or to reach the heights of achievement you must know where you want to go (your vision) and then draw a map of how to get their (your plan), and then work tirelessly in order to reach that goal. But none of this is a secret, anyone who has ever achieved success in their life could tell you the same thing; the real secret is that anybody is capable of this. It’s what has made America the greatest country in the world, and continues to do so.

It’s Good To Be Back

In the last twelve months, I’ve graduated from college, gotten a job, lost a job, and have had to wade through the current quagmire that is the jobs market. And a quagmire it is, as it seems that everyone is hurting and even the usual jobs available in the service industry are quickly fading. At least that’s how things are in my little piece of The South.

But, as bleak as things seem, there are calmer seas on the horizon as I received wonderful news a few short months ago. I was informed that I had been selected for a Student Naval Aviator (SNA) slot by the direct accession selection boards run by the United States Navy. In short, I will be heading off to Officer Candidate School in the next few months to continue my dream of flying fast, pointy-nosed, jet aircraft off of (and back onto) big, gray ships.

Unfortunately, the wait time and amount of paperwork to process in order to join the military these days is quite long, so I’ve decided to try and return to blogging, as well as a few other side projects that I’ve been neglecting lately. I figured: I have the time, so I might as well. Anyway, expect more activity in these here parts of the internets, especially if my side projects amount to anything beyond spinning my wheels.

Positive Press

Author’s Note: I wrote this a while back during my 1st Class year at the Institute. I still believe it’s relevant as I’ve seen no change in the status quo. 7/17/10

My Alma Mater is once again in the news. Unfortunately, it’s nothing but a fluff piece riding a wave of federal investigations and controversy, but beggars can’t always be choosers. The article was written by a reporter who I can only surmise had never set foot on Post before and was obviously not familiar with any of our traditions. He was led around by a handful of cadets who kept him away from the general Keydet population, explaining the alien customs and activities that we engage in on a daily basis. My favorite quote is from our current Commandant:



“Outsiders ask, ‘Why don’t you just let them walk down and get breakfast?’ ” said Col. Thomas Trumps, the chiseled commandant who leads the daily military regimen. “We could. But then it wouldn’t be VMI.”

It encapsulates the very nature of the of the biggest challenge we have when dealing with the outside world; our traditions don’t make sense to the outside world which is focused on the role and benefit of the individual. Our only way to bridge the divide is through active participation in the media. I just don’t think we do a good enough job of it. We wall the media out, hoping that they go away. We give them handlers who are screened beforehand to fit a certain image of VMI. This ultimately does a disservice to the Institute. The best piece of prose I have ever read that captured the spirit of VMI was the book The Institute, and it does so because of the unfettered access that the authors were given to the entire Corps. There are a lot of good stories to tell within Barracks, a lot of regular, buck privates who would do the Mother I proud with what their interviews. Allowing reporters to be immersed within the culture would allow them to understand it as best they short of actually earning a VMI diploma. A better understanding leads to a better article.

Poetry Time

I read this and thought it was great. It’s a good poem and I like poetry:



Give us Men!

Give us Men!
Men-from every rank,
Fresh and free and frank;
Men of thought and reading,
Men of light and leading,
Men of loyal breeding,
The nation’s welfare speeding;
Men of faith and not of fiction,
Men of lofty aim in action;
Give us Men-I say again,
Give us Men!

Give us Men!
Strong and stalwart ones;
Men whom highest hope inspires,
Men whom purest honor fires,
Men who trample self beneath them,
Men who make their country wreath them
As her noble sons,
Worthy of their sires;
Men who never shame their mothers,
Men who never fail their brothers,
True, however false are others:
Give us Men-I say again,
Give us Men!

Give us Men!
Men who, when the tempest gathers,
Grasp the standard of their fathers
In the thickest fight;
Men who strike for home and altar,
(Let the coward cringe and falter),
God defend the right!
True as truth the lorn and lonely,
Tender, as the brave are only,
Men who treat where saints have trod,
Men for Country, Home- and God:
Give us Men! I say again- again-
Give us Men!

-Josiah Gilbert Holland

Hat Tip:The Art of Manliness

Starship Troopers

I’m rereading Starship Troopers for my Naval Science course, and I’m slowly remembering just how much I liked reading it the first time back in high school. This time, though, I’m picking up on far more of the subtleties Heinlein wrote into the story, especially all of the commentary on politics and society. If you like treatises on civic duty, justification of war, and battlefield leadership, then I highly recommend this book.


Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

5 & A Wake Up

Life has a way of amazing me sometimes. I’ve been ridiculously busy the last two and a half months, what with school and color guard and martial arts club and Ring Figure and everything else that seems to creep into my schedule while I’m here at the Mother I. Even though I’m busy from the moment I wake until that sweet moment when I can lay down in my rack and catch a few hours of blissful slumber, I can’t complain. I’ve never had more fun in my life, and my hard work has been paying off — a 3.1 midterm GPA for example — and I’ve been enjoying myself immensely. And lest I forget, Ring Figure — the seminal event of Second Class Year — is in 5 five days and I have a beautiful and wonderful date. All in all, I have been doing well.

But a packed schedule has caused me to neglect this site, much to my own chagrin. I thoroughly enjoy writing, no matter how inane the posts tend to be. The problem is that when I reach the end of my day (in the wee small hours of the morning), I usually just want to sleep and am in no condition to write anything coherent, let alone worth reading. But Thanksgiving Furlough and Christmas Furlough are on the horizon, so those breaks will allow me time to write more often. . .hopefully.

The Class Side of the 2010 Ring
The Class Side of the 2010 Ring

62 & A Wake Up

Yesterday marked the end of the third week of my Second Class year at The Institute. I honestly can’t believe I’m already on year three and am getting my ring in only a few weeks. When I was in high school, this point seemed so far away, as if I’d never be in college; and now I’m looking at being on my own in the real world in a little over a year and a half. I simply don’t know where the time goes.


So far, I’ve been ridiculously busy, even more so than last year, yet I’ve still managed to find my way to my rack before 0100 most nights(knock on wood). I’m a Color Sergeant this year, which means I’m responsible for raising and lowering the flags in the mornings and evenings, respectively, as well as handling any posting of flags or color details that I am assigned. I am absolutely loving it so far. Academics have also ramped up along with my other responsibilities, and I’m finally getting deeper into Mechanical Engineering. I honestly can’t wait until I can start taking technical electives so I can specialize more in the thermodynamical side of the ME house, and focus less on structural mechanics; I’m looking forward to taking Aerodynamics and Propulsion Design


That about sums it up for now. I’m looking forward to the presidential election, as this will be the first one I will be able to vote in. This semester is really starting to shape up well, which is good.



SergeantRank
SergeantRank

Picture Of The Day

Because I feel like it, I thought I’d upload some pictures of the scenery out the back window of my room. Also, the rank announcements for the rising second class were posted on Monday. We had a large presentation in JM Hall where they announced the sergeants for next year. They started with each company position, I didn’t apply for anything in company, so I knew I wasn’t getting anything there. They then announced the various staff positions. When they named off the members of the S-4 (Supply and Logistics) and my name wasn’t called, I was rather disappointed as I thought I was a shoe-in for the position and had aced the interview. They then called the S-6 (Athletics) staff and again my name wasn’t called. I figured that was it, I was going to be a private for another year.

View Out Window 396

They then moved on to the Sergeants Major and the Color Sergeants, the highest ranking sergeants in the Corps. At the time I didn’t think there was anyway I could have made Color Sergeant (my third choice); I just wasn’t “tool-baggish” enough. Case in point, I don’t shine my shoes and brass every night, nor do I always put military creases in my shirt. Actually, come to think of it, I rarely put military creases in my shirt; I do it mainly to break up the monotony. So they listed off the Regimental Color Sergeants, I didn’t make it. No surprises there. Then they called out the First Battalion Color Sergeants. One name, then another, until they named me. I couldn’t believe it; I thought I had misheard the name. Whilst I sat there incredulous, my Brother Rats sitting next to me practically forced me onto my feet, slapping my back and shaking my hand. Congratulations were indeed in order. I’m still rather floored by all of this. Never did I think I would be chosen with one of the most prestigious positions within the Regimental System. I guess life has a funny way of working out, that or I have friends in high places. And a final note, I order my ring in five days; April just keeps getting better and better.

Bugler At SRC

Sick Blogging

Well, I was hoping to be writing this from Norfolk, Virginia, this being FTX Weekend and the Navy having planned visit Norfolk Naval Base and stay aboard the USS Iwo Jima. Unfortunately fate conspired against me and I am stuck here in Lex Vegas with an infected right foot. Fortunately, it hasn’t been so bad. I was volunteered to help the individuals in charge of the Corps FTX with making sure we have proper accountability of everyone. Besides the bleary-eyed staring at my computer screen, the infuriating complexity of Excel, and the want to strangleeducate those people who put the various rosters together and do not understand the importance of alphabetization, it really hasn’t been all that bad. I’m looking forward to being healthy again, though, I absolutely HATE being sick, but I think that just comes with the territory.

I’ve also been rather busy as of late, what with the joys of being a Mechanical Engineer (i.e. late nights, early mornings, little sleep, and mind-boggling amounts of caffeine). But I do enjoy what I do. We also had a funky schedule this week. Between preparations for FTX and a visit from former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She was presented the Byrd Award for public service, which she rightfully deserves, but I can’t help but see the irony in the fact that we awarded a one of the members of the Supreme Court who struck down VMI’s single-sex education policy, much to the chagrin of many VMI alumni. That single ruling did more to forever alter the culture here at the “Mother I” than any other event in our history. From my experience though, many of the women who have lived within the walls of Barracks have done well and are welcome members of the VMI community.

Whether or not Justice O’Connor deserved the award or not, many of us Cadets felt that her remarks were entirely inappropriate. I will leave alone her rambling oratory and the many segues and tangents she flew off on and how much it was without direction, I’ll leave that to the reader to decide.

She felt it necessary to address the admission of women to VMI, and I agree whole-heartedly that she needed to as it was looming over the entire event. She could have easily done this by simply stating that women have lived up to all of the hype and have done everything the men have done and that progress has been made. I don’t believe many would have objected to that as it is the truth. Instead she chose to state that women were doing well, potentially better than the boys, and that they should all be recognized as pioneers. I’ll concede that it isn’t so bad, but when she continued on and offered up the opinion that not enough had been done and the Institute should be more like the rest of the world and the federal service academies. You could almost hear the jaws drop to the floor. It was not here place, certainly not after receiving an award, to tell us what she thought about the traditions and stances of our beloved Institute. I can fully appreciate where she is coming from, a self-made woman who had to fight against the “good old boys’ club” in order to find a job in law, but society and the country as a whole have made monstrous strides towards equality since she graduated with her juris doctorate, and for her to even suggest that VMI change is dumbfounding. Women are equal here, I can argue no other fact. They are treated just the same as any male cadet aside from anatomical differences. We have a saying here “One Corps, One Standard,” and it is about as equal as anything can get. Women strain just like the men. Justice O’Connor can, quite frankly, keep her opinions to herself concerning matters that she has little understanding of.

Also, the very thing that makes VMI what it is is it’s resistance to outside change. It is a citadel above the rest of society where such integral ideals as honor, courage, duty, and sacrifice are not taken lightly. If it had changed with the rest of society, like the federal service academies, those ideals would have been tossed out of the window. If we had changed with the rest of society, the Honor Code would be a joke. The appeal of the Institute is that it has kept up the Spartan tradition, and breeds fighters. The boys and girls who walk into Jackson Arch are just like the rest of society, those that walk out are vastly different. If we change like the service academies, and we let in the political correctness, the “self-esteem is more important than reality”- crowd, the moral relativists, and the diversity police, we will suffer the same fate as the academies: scandal after scandal, terrible publicity, and those that graduate will not be citizen-soldiers molded in the likeness of Cincinatus, but rather politically-correct sheep in a world full of rabid wolves.

I believe her speech illustrated a major problem in gender and race relations, though. The country is vastly different than it used to be. The “good old boys’ club” is all but dismantled and there are no more Jim Crow laws, and yet we still have inequality. The problem that as long as we make race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious conviction an issue, it will be. The programs that we have in place to prevent this inequality (affirmative action, Title IX, etc.) do nothing more than replace one form of discrimination with another. The best policy is to abolish all of these. If you treat everyone with the same standard, and establish a merit system, race, religion, sex, and every other petty difference will cease to be a problem. Everyone is different, it’s time to accept that fact and move on.

As for the rest of Justice O’Connors speech: she rambled on for a good thirty minutes, admonishing us not to become war criminals, and sharing anecdotes about the Supreme Court that had no relation to what she was talking about at the time. She barely even said thank you.

Pure Insanity

I’ve been busy as of late. I had a huge Materials Science project due at the beginning of the week and then a Solid Mechanics test today. Not too bad, but I’ve been a bit under the gun as it were. But I have good news: Spring Furlough is only week away! I’m very much looking forward to that. Anyway, posting has been rather light, and I mean to make up for that during the break.


I will post a light bit of fluff for your viewing pleasure though. It’s of Travis Pastrana skydiving sans parachute. Some might call him stupid, personally, I think it looks like fun. Then again, I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie given my hobbies: football, martial arts, etc. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Your call, reading public.I promise I’ll put something substantial up as soon as I figure out what that something substantial is. Have a good weekend.



Otis Taylor

I finally watched Shooter over the weekend. I had been wanting to see it for a while, now. It was pretty good, but what struck me the most was the song at the end. It was “Nasty Letter” by Otis Taylor. It was a sad, woeful, bluesy song. It’s one of the wonderfully haunting pieces. He’s a great artist and different than everyone else I’ve heard in a while. I highly suggest looking him up on iTunes. If you don’t have iTunes, you can download it HERE. The embedded video is the song I mentioned above, set to video.



New Look, Same Content

So, I decided to just go ahead and move everything over to WordPress and see how it goes. So in my free time today(I was amazed, too), I put together the new Marching Post. I think it looks pretty good for only a few hours of CSS coding. The editor and technology behind WordPress is sooooo much more powerful than the Blogger account I had. If you miss the old site, you can still visit, it’s still up. But this is the one I’m going to be updating from now on. Also, you’ll notice I migrated all of my old posts to the new site, so you can still delve through my tomes of archived material.


I hope you enjoy the new look. Let me know if there’s anything buggy going on.


Sled Dogs. . .er, I mean Rats.