Friday, December 23, 2011

“First Kiss” The Homecoming kiss seen round the world.

And boy am I not kidding. When the USS Oak Hill was made fast to the dock in Little Creek Virginia recently, no one on the pier knew what was going to happen.

On board the Oak Hill Fire Control Technician Second Class Marissa Gaeta had won the coveted “First Kiss” raffle held onboard the ship. It’s a drawing that allows the winner to be the first sailor off the ship to greet their loved one waiting “on the beach”, i.e. the pier.

Given any other time, this ritual wouldn’t have garnered a passing glance from anyone other than the wives, husbands, boy and girlfriends waiting for their loved ones still on the ship. However, in the one particular case, the person waiting on the beach for Marissa Gaeta was another woman.

The local press was there to record the kiss, proof positive that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” policy is finally, once and for all, and hopefully for all time, relegated to is proper place, the trash can.

Local station WVEC in Norfolk, Va. recorded the moment and it’s been seen by viewers of CNN, BBC and other planet-spanning news agencies.

As one commenter of the video said, “Two sailors kissed, nothing exploded, no ships sank, no one fainted, the world didn’t end.”

What I say is “Move along people, nothing to see here other than two people in love with each other.”


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Troops Leaving Iraq

I’m sitting in the Tora Bora restaurant here on the ISAF compound in Kabul and am watching the BBC and CNN news coverage of the US military’s pull out from Iraq. It’s silent coverage since the sound is off.

But it gets me to thinking, it’s going to take a while, months for the men and women to get back to the bases they deployed from; Italy, Germany, England, The United States. There will be the normal unit celebrations when the deployed elements arrive back at their units, the administrative process of getting the returnees re-integrated.

But what then?

These men and women are coming out of a combat situation, high stress, high tempo, life and death situations where they have seen buddies killed or wounded. They themselves may have been wounded physically, or mentally.

How are we.. WE going to support them? Are we going to shake their hands and say “Thank you for your service to our country”? Or are we going to throw rocks and bottles, while yelling vile things at them? Or are we going to ignore them, sentence them to the limbo of benign neglect, “if we ignore them they will go away and we won’t have to deal with their problems”.

Veterans from World War two came home to parades. Vets that fought in Korea just came home. When Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines came home from Vietnam, it was to demonstrations, shouts of “rapist; murderer and baby killer”. I know first hand about the open hostility of civilians against the military, my father served in the U.S. Marine Corps as part of an aviation fighter squadron stationed on board the USS Oriskany. It didn’t matter if the service member slogged through the jungles and rice paddies, or sat off the coast on an aircraft carrier, or was part of a field medical unit. Everyone that wore a uniform was treated with equally vile contempt.

We’ve heard the chants of certain factions of our population, “NO BLOOD FOR OIL”, “HALIBURTON’S WAR”, “BUSH LIED, PEOPLE DIED”, among others. If they have a grievance with the WHY of sending servicemen and women into a war, I have no problem with that. You want to scream and yell about the justifications used, by all means take it up with THE GOVERNMENT, not the individual soldier or his/her family.

There is no conscription of service in the United States. Every man and woman who wears the uniform chose, on their own, to hand over a check to their respective military service for an amount up to and including their life. They agreed when they put up their hand and recited the Oath that they would support and defend the Constitution and to obey the officers appointed over them.

So, it comes back to the question, how are we going to support our returning troops?

I know how I’m going to support them.

How are YOU going to support our returning troops?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So, you want to be an artist, eh?


Isn’t it a dream of most people to be able to draw, paint or sculpt like one of the Masters? For me, drawing or painting, sure. sculpting is just way too much work. Besides, the majority of my drawing would be for my own use anyway. I need something I can refer to for my characters.

Yes, yes, I know they are my characters, and they should look the way I want them too. Which is right, but at some point in time their looks have to be set so you’re not describing them one way at the start of the book and something else later on.

I mean you really don’t want your main character being described as a five foot tall “Suzie Homemaker” type  in chapter one, then have her being a six foot five red haired Amazon warrior princess in chapter ten. Not unless something really drastic happened.

And that’s what this post is about, how do you get your character reference drawing when the most artistic picture you’ve ever drawn looked like a stick figure done with a great big cranberry Crayola crayon.

For me, it was finding a 3D graphics program called, appropriately, DAZ 3D.

With the program, I can build a character, change the shape, skin tone, size, just about everything about them, clothe them, pose them and build a scene around them. Then once I have everything done up just right, I can render the scene as a whole and save the resultant picture .

FOB-OE-Airfield Sign

Or, I can just work with the character, to help me visualize the emotions or some other aspect I’m trying to get across in a particular scene.


This may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

Take care everyone.


Starfox Howl.