Posts Tagged ‘military’

A view of Wiesbaden.

A view of Wiesbaden.

Guten tag, mein Anhanger der Angst!

Well, I’ve arrived in Germany, safe and sound. And let me tell you, I am beat! I did not get as much sleep as I expected on those three back-to-back-to-back flights, so by the time I got to Germany I was a bit jet-lagged. Still, it’s good to be here. The weather’s nice (partly due to the heat wave that’s going on now in Europe), the scenery is lush and green, and there’s something in the air that says, I’m not in Kansas anymore.

Well, as far as I remember I don’t think I’ve ever been to Kansas, but that’s beside the point.

Anyway, here’s how things have been going for me. I arrived in Germany around noon or so after my flight’s been delayed an hour. I think I slept a bit on the plane, because the flight’s a bit of a blur. I meet my supervisor Ron and my new roommate Ian after I get my baggage, and we head to the Post Exchange, which is not a post office like its name suggests. More like a small mall. There’s a place where you can buy home goods like sheets and appliances, there’s a food court, a barber shop, and then some! We stopped there to grab some stuff for my room, which came with a bed and bedside table with a lamp but not much else (you can see why we needed to stop).

My new roommate Ian and I.

My new roommate Ian and I.

After a quick lunch at the food court where I got to know my new roommate, we headed to the commissary, which is like a small supermarket. I got a few things to stock the pantry, and then we were off to the apartment. And by the way, this apartment rocks! Not only is it twice as big as my last apartment, it’s cozy and warm and seriously affordable! Like affordable enough to make you drop your mouth in shock! If they only allowed pets (like cats), it’d be perfect.

So now I’m a little moved in. My sheets are on the bed, my clothes for tomorrow are picked out and my suit’s in the closet. Soon I’ll be going out with Ian, who has been a huge help in getting moved in and has been here for quite a while already, so he’s got plenty of tips for little ol’ me, and we’ll go for dinner. After that…well, I have an early morning (why did I agree to one? Who knows?!), so I’ll get ready for bed and call it a night early.

My room. It's very comfy.

My room. It’s very comfy.

All in all, I’m glad I’m here. It’s a huge opportunity, and I’m super-excited for the challenges that will be thrown my way, as well as all the things I’ll learn and see and…oh, you’ve already heard this!

So just wish me luck. It’s the beginning of a big adventure for me and I can’t wait to see what happens!

I had a very exciting day today. A couple members of my study abroad group and I, along with one of the professors leading the trip, went to an assisted-living home to meet some veterans of WWII and Korea. It was quite the edifying experience, and we all enjoyed it immensely.

We arrived there around a quarter to one in the afternoon and were shown up to the multipurpose room on the second floor. There, we met several veterans and one survivor of the Holocaust, a man by the name of Mr. Cohen, whom we all got a chance to speak to first. Mr. Cohen was a German Jew who lost his family at Auschwitz and was lucky enough to survive the camps. It was very humbling to listen to him speak about his experiences, about being evacuated from the camps when the Russians got close, about meeting his wife and moving into America, and most of all about getting the tattoo on his arm and ceasing to be anything more than a number. Mr. Cohen’s granddaughter was there as well, and she urged her grandfather t tell more stories, but he didn’t want to. I can’t blame him, considering the horrors he survived. It must be really difficult to relive them.

Afterwards we split up and went around the room speaking to different people about their experiences. There were two Navy men named Earl and Herb who had served on different ships and tried to give us an idea of what it was like living on a crowded ship like that. Not only did they do that, but they gave me an idea for a novel (sometimes I worry I get too many of those. Lord knows I won’t be able to write all of them at the rate I have ideas). We also spoke to a man who fought in both wars and a woman who packed the parachutes used by paratroopers in the European theater. Apparently she wrote her name on every parachute so that if something went wrong, they could find out who packed the parachute (luckily that eventuality never came up).

And that was just the experiences of me and a friend; the others spoke to vets we never got a chance to speak to. And every time we sat down to speak to someone, time just flew by. Before we knew it there were the final photo ops and the last chances to grab snacks and examine the WWII memorabilia brought in by a man whose father fought in the war (everyone got a little nervous when I started examining a Hitler Youth dagger and a German Luftwaffe short sword. Well, I’m sorry I write horror stories, but there’s no reason to think I’d actually use them! I don’ t kill people outside the books). And before we left, we all got some souvenirs: tiny can openers to open C-rations with. I’m not sure how we ended up getting those, but I was definitely grateful to receive mine.

But most of all, I was grateful to speak to so many veterans. The people who experienced WWII first-hand are a dying breed, as one vet observed during the final photo-op. And it’s true. We are losing more WWII vets and Holocaust survivors everyday. Getting to speak to them is a privilege that my children (should I have any) won’t be able to have. If the chance to speak to these living treasure troves of history presents itself to you, I hope you take advantage of it. I’m certainly glad I did.

I have to get back to the homework I have. The day just got away from me and I have a little bit more I want to work on before the day is out. And if I can get my hands on those photos, I will try to post them here on this blog, because it’d be an honor to share them with you all. See you later, my Followers of Fear.

Yesterday I finished one of the first books on my new Kindle, and I’m happy to say that it was by a friend of mine. And since Matt’s done a lot for me and I for him, I thought I’d give him a review of his novel. So Matt, know that what I say here, I say as a friend giving his honest opinion. And I know you wouldn’t want me to just give a gushing review if it wasn’t truthful, right?

So my friend’s novel, Whiskey Delta, is about a world terrorized by zombies. Sounds familiar, right? But there are some key differences between this novel and other works featuring zombies. For starters, the military is actually giving an adequate response to the zombie threat. That’s something you usually don’t see in the zombie literature/films/movies. For another, something about these zombies makes them very different from regular zombies, though I won’t reveal what because that would be a huge spoiler alert. The book itself follows a group of soldiers sent into Los Angeles on a covert mission in order to retrieve something important for the war effort. What happens there will change each and every soldier profoundly.

I thought the story was an entertaining zombie novel. It’s rare to show the military doing anywhere near a good job in a zombie story, so I commend my friend Matt for doing so. Also, I thought the twists in this novel were very interesting, especially in terms of what we thought we knew about these zombies–known as Whiskeys in the novel–and what the truth of the matter turns out to be.

I did think that certain characters such as Kobayashi and Saunders were introduced so quickly that I didn’t even have time to process them into the group before they were in the group, and that the main focus of the novel seemed to shift between characters rather than focusing on one character and saying “Here’s our protagonist”. But it’s a military team, so I’ll let it pass.

I also thought that more character development would’ve been nice, as I seem to know supporting character and all-around hillbilly Whitman better than I know main characters Braun, Dezba, and Saunders, which doesn’t seem right to me. And all the military terms were hard to follow. I’m not overly familiar with the military, so things like claymores, SCARs, and Stryker left me a little confused and I had to rely on my imagination for most of it.

However it was an entertaining story and by the end of it I was glad I read it. For Whiskey Delta, I award it a 3.9 out of 5. I’m looking forward to what the sequel, Papa Zulu, will produce.

Yes, you read that title right. I’ve been using drones recently. I started using them sometime this past weekend, and I’ve been using them almost every night since. Mostly I fly them around certain sections of the state of Colorado, usually near Interstate 70. I’ve fired a few missile and several bullets. The drones were fun to pilot, but they had a bad habit of getting destroyed, and it’s not really my fault. Still, I might get blamed for it, so I won’t be piloting drones for a while.

This is actually the model of drone–or a variation of it–that I used.

Now you are probably wondering variations of “What the f**k is he talking about?” and “How the hell did he get his hands on drones?” Well the answer is simple: I wrote them into the second chapter of Video Rage as part of a fun little battle sequence. I thought it’d be interesting to use drones in this chapter, especially since drones are still relatively new to us now and many people, myself included, are at the very least a little wary of drones and their use by the military, if not downright scared of them. It ended up working out very well, because the drones showed how powerless my protagonists can be even with their powers, and how hard they have to work to stay alive.

Got you, didn’t I?

The drones also allowed me to do something I planned for this novel: cause friction. Something happens to one of the characters during the drone attack, and it causes some tension in the tight-knit group of people who star in this novel of mine. Later on there will be more tension between the Hydras, and we’ll see what happens when that tension hits a boiling point. Believe me, things will get ugly as a result.

I’ll be using drones again later in VR. The drones in Chapter 2 are very similar to drones used today by the US military, but in later chapters I plan on using new drones that the military probably hasn’t dreamt of yet (or if they have, my friend Matthew Williams will know of them). It’ll be interesting to see how the use of drones will work out, both for the story and for the characters.

At the very least, it’ll make for some interesting reading.

Now I’m going to take a break, shower, and then sit down for a movie. Tomorrow I’ll try to start the next chapter of Laura Horn. Things will heat up over in that storyline as well.