Everyone's a Critic

So I got an email today. I found it intriguing, because it's been a while since I had an email such as this. I'm sure I get these from time to time, but I thought I would comment on it because it made me scratch my head and think 'huh?'

Hello Risawn.

I felt compelled to write to you, as I read your blog purely by accident and found it disturbing reading.

I am a former British soldier who has lived in the USA for 4 years. I love Guns, Pistols and Rifles and used to work at Wal-Mart selling in that department. While I acknowledge your freedom of choice and speech and the right to bear arms, brandishing them around and posting them on the internet makes America look stupid and infantile.

As for political preference, these things are private in my country, and exercised through the ballot box, in secret. As an Historian of good repute, may I add that history will not endeavour George Bush Jr kindly as time goes on. His reputation is lower than Harding at the moment.

As for your religious beliefs, those too, are deemed private, the Mormons have not exactly had a good press in the recent years, and a GWB voting, gun-toting lady in camoflage maybe the last thing that they need to have.

On a lighter note, America is but one small country in a big world, just as my country found out in 1776.

May your country quickly learn Humility and may America soon have Universal Healthcare.

So, that was it. He'll probably think I'm being arrogant by posting this on my blog, but you know what? Anything people email me may find itself on my blog. Here is my reply.

Wow, thanks for your enlightening letter. I think I'm going to desert the military and get rid of all my guns while I vote for Ralph Nadar in the next presidential election. I've also converted to Atheism so I never have to worry about shaming Mormons again. < / sarcasm >

My blog is my personal webspace, it is a public forum where I post my thoughts on anything I wish to discuss and has always been that. If you find it that disturbing, don't read it.

I will comment further on his email here.

First Topic- Guns. I like Guns. I like to shoot them. I think they are fun. Every now and again I like to go out and go plinking as a hobby. This is a hobby of mine and I tend to write about things that interest me (not just limited to guns I might add). And this is a blog about me that for some reason has at one time garnered an unusual amount of fascination from people that I still sometimes don't understand (both the fascination and the people), and a few of the readers I got left have lingered for some reason, and a lot of them like guns too. I post about my interests, one of my interests is guns. Sometimes I post gun posts to remind my readers that I'm a gun user, because I have had concerns of stalking in the past. People are less likely to stalk me if I'm armed and they know it.

So I will continue to post topics about guns, about me firing them, and show some bad ass pictures of me holding them with a snarl on my face. Don't mess with me. If you think I'm delving into the stereotype of the infantile and stupid American that the rest of the world apparently sees, so be it. Because you obviously don't know me.

My former NCOIC made a similar comment to me about why I like to pose with military assault weapons, but I might need to add that I now think that man is a retard.

Newsflash, there are 300 million people in America, and I hardly represent our population as a whole. I don't like to consider myself fitting into any particular stereotype, and I don't care what the hell anybody else thinks of me. Especially these days. If you think I look stupid and infantile because I happen to like to pose every now and then with instruments of death, go read somebody else's blog. Nobody is forcing you to read this one.

Topic Two - Politics. Nice to know that they do things that way in Britain. This is a blog that I sometimes voice my opinion on. I'm of a conservative persuasion. This is a blog about me. People who read it for whatever reason are reading my perspective on things. Nobody is telling you to read it.

Furthermore, I don't really write about politics that much, in previous election years I wrote more and I even got a bit more vindictive. I've also grown somewhat since then and that is not the central focus of this blog by any means. It sometimes holds a commentary of my opinions on current events and political matters, but that is not a large interest to me at the moment. If you disagree with me, good for you. You have every right to disagree with me. That's the beauty of personal opinion. But you might notice that there are a whole lot of blogs out there that voice their politics. Some are left, some are right, some are centrist. And some of these aren't even American! *gasp!* I know a few Brits who post about politics.

Topic Three - George W Bush. For some reason, because I posted a picture of me holding an M203 stating I wasn't sorry for voting for the man in 2004, people see me as an unapologetic Bush Supporter. Ok, maybe I am, but this doesn't mean I love the guy. He was never my ideal candidate for President and these last four years have been a disappointment. Still, I don't regret voting for him. I saw the alternative as a worse candidate, whether that is true or not we will never know, because unless somebody can create a device that enters us into an alternate dimension where Kerry was elected President instead, we will never know.

I don't apologize because the only thing you can do about the past is learn from it and drive on. You may notice that I don't post a lot about George W Bush and what a great job he's doing as President, because I don't think he's doing that great. Again, he was never my ideal candidate for President, I voted by my political stance and who I thought was the better man for the job. I didn't like Kerry.

Whoever wins the presidency this year, be it Obama, Clinton or McCain, I think I'll get by as best as I can with whoever wins and get on with my life. I say something every now and again about the candidates, but honestly I'm not fond of the whole lot of them. I guess I'll get by the best I can.

In conclusion. Yes, I voted for GWB. So what? So did about 50 million other Americans. But that's right, we're all retards.

Topic Four - Religion. Now this I don't get about you going off on me not remaining private about my religious beliefs. I'm getting two things from you. You think I should keep my religious affiliations to myself because I should be ashamed of myself considering all of the negative press surrounding my religion as of late. Or you think I should talk about religion less. Or you're anti-Mormon.

Ok, big question mark here. Yes, I am Mormon. I have never denied that I'm a Mormon. And I'm not ashamed of being a Mormon so why should I keep it hidden? But I have never used my website to advertise my religious beliefs to try to convert people EVER. I rarely ever mention my religion or my beliefs here. The fact that I'm a Mormon is part of who I am, I think I may have mentioned it once or twice in a little survey thing that I'm LDS.

Besides, I'm not a stereotypical Mormon Girl. If you actually knew Mormons, you would know that most Mormons will be more then eager to tell you everything about their faith you want to know. I'm the same way, but I choose not to do it here, I only do it when I'm in the company of a person who wants to know more. I am never pushy about my faith and this blog is the last place I should be preaching about it.

I admit I'm not the best example of a Mormon. But I really don't think your judging me on my religion or vice versa because of this blog is really a matter of concern. What confuses me most is this whole phrase that my religion is recieving a lot of negative press lately and 'a GWB voting, gun-toting lady in camoflage maybe the last thing that they need to have.'

What in bloody hell is that supposed to mean anyway? This statement is ridiculous on several counts because of the fact that 1) I very rarely advertise my religious beliefs so why should anybody other then you care, 2) my faith is mostly conservative and therefore most DID vote for GWB because like me, they didn't like the alternative, 3) why does the fact that I'm serving my country in the military have anything to do with my religion and would cause people to look down upon it unless the person judging me is a liberal hate-monger? and 4) a lot of Mormons like guns. Just to let you know.

Also, the FLDS have their roots in my faith, but they are NOT Mormon. They are a sect that broke of a hundred years ago. I'm not going to go into detail because that's not what my blog is about. If you want me to post my beliefs on the FLDS church, I think they are a strange group of people. But I try to be tolerant of other people's faith because I hope people would be tolerant of mine *hah!* I disagree with a lot of things they do, and I mean a LOT of things, but that is not for me to judge. I claim the privilege of worshiping the almighty God according to the dictates of my own conscious, which allows all men the same privilege. My religion and how I worship I HAVE kept mostly private (well, other then just now).

I don't want to go into detail because as I may have mentioned before, I don't really talk about religion a lot because I think it IS a private matter and often times, unless both sides are truly open to discussion, only breeds a mass amount of contention. That is why I don't discuss my religion here.

Topic Five: America, Humility, and Universal Healthcare.

You must think I'm cocky or something. You obviously haven't read much of my blog because my regulars will let you know I poke fun at myself and my many MANY mishaps all of the time. I am not a graceful person, I often put my foot in my mouth and I believe in personal responsibility and accountability, though I tend to lose things quite frequently. I'm not really an arrogant person, at least I don't see myself as arrogant. What arrogance and cockiness I have I have to cultivate and nurture due to my profession as a Drill Sergeant. And I'm not afraid of the opportunity to kick terrorist behind if I were to be given the chance.

As for Universal Healthcare, yeah, you must be European. I'm all for taking care of people, but there is also the matter of Personal Responsibility. I am all for Preventive Medicine. I think we should educate the masses and let them know, 'hey, stupid, if you do this, you're going to get sick', though it is more common these days with the 'tobacco causes cancer' spiel, and let them deal with the consequences. Of course, there are plenty of people out there who live perfectly healthy lives and still get sick due to matters out of their own hands. The current health care system in America needs to be fixed, but I don't think Universal Healthcare is necessarily the way to go.

But that is another topic for another post that needs plenty space of its own and this one is long enough.

I love how patronizing and condescending this letter is. This dude appears to think he has all the answers and makes it quite apparent that he thinks I'm an idiot. I don't know why I even bothered to give him the benefit of replying. Oh well, if nothing else, you get the chance to see exactly what I wrote too.


I Fondue, do you?

On Wednesday my sister called me asking if I could help her with her business. She sells things on eBay, which I know is a very redneck type thing to do, and since I have this nice new camera, she wanted to try it out and see how she took to it, since she's looking at getting one.

Afterwards, she was telling me that there is a restaurant that recently opened in town called the Melting Pot and if I wanted to check it out with her. We called my brother Jared to see if he wanted to come to and the three of us went to this little restaurant without fully realizing what it was exactly.

And me, in my usual dressed up self, complete with flip flops, walked in without a reservation and we found ourselves enjoying a little Fondue in a fairly upscale restaurant.

If I had known what kind of place this was, I would have worn a little makeup. Or something other then a tank top.

Well, since we were there, and we don't do these kinds of things all that often, we went for the gusto and just shared the full blown one between the three of us. We started out with the cheese fondue, which I wasn't to fond of, but was something different then what I'm used to. And then we went into the salad and then the main fondue meal. We got a series of meats to stir up, and had a grand old time trying to keep the meat on the fondue forks.

Have some uncooked Chicken!

That is some good stuff! It is definitely something that you don't go out and eat every other day, this is something to splurge and enjoy every now and again, or special occaisions. Like family get togetherness.

I'm not usually a sweet tooth, but we got the chocolate fondue as well, sharing some of the treats between three people when it is really only meant for two leaves some people missing out, but I was quite fond fo the bananas and strawberries. The rice crispy treats were pretty good too.

Fondue on Fire!

This is my nice expensive camera, yes, but the lens will still blur in poor light, and my sister is the anti-flash user, so when she takes pictures, she only likes to use natural/ambient light.

Later, across the skywalk to get back to our cars, we had a random kodak moment.

Yes, I be a goober. Such a stunning shot of downtown, with me blocking the view with my strange self and my equally strange brother.

Fondue is fun, I would recommend making it a special occaision or something however. It does add up.


No Longer a Vagrant Bum

My Vagrant Bum days are over.

To catch you up, I screwed over a shoplifter and lost my job back in January. Because I initially thought I would be mobilizing in March, and I had money in the checking account because I've been fiscally responsible (sort of), I didn't seek out a job right away.

Of course, my mobilization got delayed, the way mobilizations do, but by that time, I didn't think it was right to go hunt for a job that was worth getting only to tell them 'hey, i'm going to kentucky for the summer, see ya', so I just focused on school instead. Only that I had cut back on my schooling before I lost my job because I thought I would be going to Kentucky in March instead of May.

Well, to make a long story short, I've been unemployed since January, doing my one weekend a month thing and living on my military income. And it's been great. A whole lot of doing a whole lot of nothing. Which has left me not having a lot to blog about.

Unfortunately, that all comes to an end. *sighs* I'm gearing up to go to Fort Knox here soon.

With Fort Knox, I don't think its exactly a huge opsec thing if I mention dates, but I'll still try to keep things fairly vague.

Anyway, next week is all about Combat Life Saver course. Where I get to learn all about IVs. I might get it again when I get to Fort Knox, but you can never have to much practice poking people with needles. Of course, that means I'll get poked with needles too.

Well, I'm pretty much on orders until the army decides it doesn't need me anymore, for one thing or another. Which means I'm no longer a vagrant bum. No longer unemployed.

No longer have mass amounts of free time to spend days doing absolutely nothing.

When I get to Knox, that's all going to be bye bye.

You know, I'm looking forward to it.


Clinton Takes Pennsylvania

Hey, Hillary is still in the race!

This is shaping up to be an interesting political season, I'm rooting for Hillary now. As long as chaos is reigning amongst the Democrats, it keeps things interesting.


Home At Last

Just to let you know, I'm home.

It's good to be home.

I think I need to talk about my weekend in Hell-ena later, or at the very least post up on it on my blog.

Anyway, in other news, I discovered that if I screw up and do something wrong, I dwell on it afterwards. This is both a good thing and a bad thing I have realized. Good thing because I ingrain it into my skull so when I come into a similar circumstance in the future, I won't do it again. Bad in that, well, I am dysthemic, and when I screw up, I tend to dwell on it and get depressed. Just something I have to watch.

It doesn't help when the car decides to have tire troubles on top of everything else and you have a rotten Sunday. I just wanted to get home, but fortunately I'm not out as much money as I thought I was going to be, I managed to get a used tire to get home on and I was able to stay in army lodging for the night. I ended up crashing and getting a good long nap in, when I realized after this weekend I was beat.


Murphy's Law in Action

My luck is really running.

So, I'm stuck in Helena Montana for the night. I tried to get out this morning, after a rude awakening (I'll talk about that later) but it was a balmy 9 degrees with snow on the ground.

Al Gore lied to me.

As I mentioned before, I thought I was safe on Friday to take off my Snow Tires. This was proven false.

So today, I went out looking for some chains, as I've got three passes to cross in order to get home. And its been snowing all weekend.

My current tires are possibly the worst kind of tires to drive in the snow, or so I discovered as I was driving around town to try to find some chains, only to discover that Walmart considers them out of season, even though this is Montana and apparently the snow is always in season.

But then again, I should have known that I was going to Montana and kept my tires on.

Well, I was directed to find some tire stores because that was likely the only place to find chains.

It being Sunday, everything was closed, and I'm trying to find the location of any place that sells chains on snow covered roads while I'm trying to negotiate from point to point without killing myself or hitting anybody.

Then I discovered that trying to drive in the snow without snow tires skewed my perception of how my car feels to me. When I finally found a place that sells chains, I discovered that I was driving on a flat tire.

So I had to change a flat tire on top of it all, and once I got my spare on, I had to go back to Walmart to get my flat fixed because no other tire place is open on Sunday.

Hanging around Walmart for about twenty minutes, I get an overhead page telling me to make my way to the automotive department to tell me that my tire is unrepairable.

Oh, and I just bought the tire on Friday. So it was brand new. But now I have to find a tire to replace it so I can get home tomorrow so I can take this one back.

Well, I considered it somewhat of a sign that maybe I wasn't meant to go home today. I had an eerie feeling this morning that I needed to stick around. Something was kind of nagging at me. And a couple people who left before me told me the pass was like glass.

So maybe its all for the best?

We'll see how the pass is tomorrow then?


Weekend Bliss

So, I'm in Helena Montana on a training mission this weekend. I've been to Helena for the last two Aprils so this was just another one of those missions, right?

Actually, this one is a bit different. We're training DEPers, at least that's what I like to call them. I had to drive up here on Friday to get prepared to for Saturday (today) where we were going to do all of this training and had it planned for the soldiers so they could get a taste of what Basic Training is going to be like and just give them a leg up or so.

Well, I'll talk more about my weekend when I get home on my military blog. In the meantime, I have my alarm set for *early* because we're doing a 'rude awakening for the privates. Unforunately, apparently the rumor is going around that we're going to wake them up at zero early in the morning so I think a few of them are going to be prepared for us to go in there and scream at them.

We have to plan this out just right though. Anyway, I wanted to wake them up at 0400, but apparently the recruiters are a little against that idea. But my phone (which doubles as my alarm clock these days) is running out of juice so despite my eyes being bloodshot and I look like hell from lack of sleep (being a drill sergeant and all) but I don't want to take the chance of sleeping in because my alarm clock is dead, so I'm in my car now, looking for a place where I can charge my phone up and there is free wireless internet to blog (since I've been such a neglectful blogger recently).

Meanwhile, going back to the training, they had this high speed training schedule planned out, and that kind of got thrown to the wayside when it decided to snow this weekend.

I can add to this. I thought I was safe so I got my Snow Tires removed yesterday before I came up to Montana to do training. So I have to drive THROUGH Montana tomorrow when they are predicting up to six inches tonight.

We didn't plan these things. I might just spend the night in Helena tomorrow night too, or at least wait until the roads are cleared before I head out, because driving through the roads with my tires proved to be crap.


Anyway, a lot of training got nixed, like the confidence course, which I was looking forward too, but I got to call cadence, and I learned that I need to keep up with my cadence calling, but at the same time, it comes back pretty quick.

And I need to work on my command voice. My voice is now gone. It's pretty darn cold and I've been lethargic lately so I haven't been working it.

I also found out that a certain side of my humor comes out of the woodwork when I put on my hat, and it's a side of my humor that I REALLY need to watch when I hit the trail. The self depreciating humor is what I particularly need to watch, but I usually just use it when I screw up, like when I call a column left instead of a column right (and I was doing that WAY to often this weekend *sighs*)

But overall I had a lot of fun. Got a little refresher as a Drill Sergeant, learned that I really need to work on the PT, and that this dad gum weather has not been helping out with that.

So, aside from last weekend, we've just been having snow every weekend. Why have I not been taking advantage of my Snowboard?

Just saying.

Tell you more when I get home. If I never get home, its because I drove off the side of a mountain trying to get home.

Er, that last part was a joke. I hope.


More Fun With the Camera

So, I've come to the conclusion that I will be taking a lot more pictures with my camera. I love this thing, and you can take a picture of just about ANYTHING! And until I get something else of interest taking my time, I'll be posting a lot of pictures of whatever I find in my camera.

I think I'm going to start a blog just for pictures. They'll be pictures of interest for me of course, ones that have semi-artistic merit and not just a snap shot of people picking their noses.

Yesterday I watched the niece and nephew practice Soccer. They're four and five (well, Brinley's almost five, and Cody'll be six this summer) and watching a bunch of little kids play soccer is quite hilarious. They keep wanting to touch the ball with their hands and you have to use visual pictures to get them to understand the game. Like they have to pretend to be carrots, and carrots don't have hands.

They had practice in Manito Park, and I observed with my camera in hand. My sister Julie got recruited as the Soccer Coach kind of last minute, which is quite funny because I don't think she really knows a thing about soccer. Fortunately, these are little kids so the rules are extra simplified for them.

I must say that I'm really loving my camera.

Brinely can be such a ham sometimes. She just got recruited this week to play soccer with her cousin and she LOVES it.

Cody found a stick, and began to want to play hockey with the soccer balls. We had to put an end to that real quick.

He had to wear that hat.

I got this little girl in action, and I love how this shot turned out. She's quite the little Soccer Player. There's Cody running up behind her.

Playing with continuous shot on my camera, I got a series of shots of Brinley running. I had to play around so I merged them together into one photo.

Not a perfect merge by any means, but I love how clear the shot was.

I took advantage of being in Manato Park and saw some birds, so I took some bird shots as well.

I've always wanted to get shots of birds and animals in flight. Not all came out clear, because there was about fifty billion birds there and they were all over the place, so you kind of had to point the camera and try to take the pic, hoping it would turn out. Well this one did.

This poor duck is clearly mutated or something. But she's not so ugly that she doesn't have a mate, who appears to be right there protecting her. Ah, love is clearly blind.

More fun with those micro close up shots. I can see myself potentially doing a lot of these. I hope I don't burn other people out of them.

There's a green house in Manito Park which has all of these really pretty flowers, and even a banana tree. I took a lot of closeups while I was there.

I'm sure I'll be posting more pics in the near future.


The Digital Toys of My Life

In continuation of my previous post about my new 'toy', which is what I call anything that deals in electronics, whether it be cameras, laptops or Nintendo Wiis, they are my toys and I'm just a big gigantic sucker for them.

I've always loved taking pictures, and got a lot of grief for it when I was a young private in AIT. I took a ton of pictures, and it drove my class mates nuts. But they didn't seem to mind so much when I gave them duplicate pictures.

But when I got my digital camera, I was sold. As many pictures as I could take, and no need to worry about developing them? You know, I really haven't used the traditional 35 mm since then.

I thought maybe I should give you a brief history of my various Digital Cameras, since it's such a fantastically interesting topic I'm sure. I've included some examples of some photos each took, some of my favorites really, nothing cropped or altered except for size. Click to full view.

My First Camera - Sony DSC S50

This camera was my first digital camera, and I'm not sure why, but I was sold on it as soon as I saw it. I think the flip up view finder is what sold me now that I think about it. It's because of that flip up view finder that I still have this camera in my posession, because otherwise the poor thing is seriously outdated and obsolete.

It came with an 8 mb Memor Stick, and I think I upgraded to a 32 Mb for something around the neighborhood of $80. EIGHTY DOLLARS for a freaking 32 Meg MEMORY STICK!!!

I was told to get a camera with a minimum of 2.0 Megapixels as well, which was a good thing at the time, as I do believe this was 2001 when I made this purchase. I must have spent in the neighborhood of $600 on this gargantuan monster, but I still love this camera. It is a great little camera to just take shots of yourself, and I have great memories taken with it.

But only 15 second videos? I guess they thought your memory stick would get eaten alive if they expanded it anymore. And the videos never got bigger then 460 x 680. I think. Tiny.

I have a lot of great pictures taken with this camera, but this picture of me in Suriname continues to be one of my favorites.

These kids are so adorable. And when I flipped the viewfinder up and showed them I was taking their picture, they loved it! I wish I had a bigger memory stick, I would have taken more pictures.

My Second Camera - Sony DSC P93

Sony's are expensive. They are nice cameras and all, but you pay for that brand name for sure.

However, one of the reasons I went with a sony again for my second camera was not for the brand name, but for the memory stick. Yes, I'm a sucker, and I already had acquired a few memory sticks with my previous camera, and memory sticks were sill expensive! So I felt it necessary to cut the costs wherever I could and stick with what I already had. Besides, I love my other camera, I thought I would stick with a brand I liked.

Actually, I really didn't need to get a new camera for the purposes of staying new, because I liked my old one just fine. The problem was, I was getting ready to mobilize and I wanted a camera that I could keep with me, easy enough to slip into my ammo pouch on a mission. Because believe me, we weren't putting ammo in them.

This camera turned out to be great. In fact, I beat the crap out of it. It traveled all over Europe with me and took some great pictures. A lot of incriminating photos probably. Though I was careful never to post those online. Whatever.

I purchased this camera at the end of 2004, and it lasted me into 2006.

Me and one of my battle buddies SGT V, hitchen' a ride on the back of a Kosovar tractor in Letnicia.

This may be one of my favorite pictures in regards to Kosovo life. I wonder if he minds that I took it? It's just a dynamic photo, and a lucky shot of me taking the shot as we passed him by in our Hummvee.

The camera however, has been on its last leg for a while now. I didn't want to take a beat up old thing with me to Yellowstone, so I picked up another one before I left and handed this one down to my brother.

My Third Camera - Sony DSC S600

Yes, we have a bit of a pattern going on here. I had luck with the first two Sonys, and keeping with tradition of wanting to cut costs on memory sticks, I picked up a third.

I've taken some decent pictures with this camera, but it has by no means been a happy experience for me. Actually, this camera has frustrated me to no end. From the battery case popping loose and losing some good batteries while horse back riding to its less then stellar pictures under certain weather conditions to its feisty behavior, I have not been fond of this camera at all. I think it might be because its a lower end of the Sony brackett, and my other two cameras were mid range or higher (the first camera is definitely a nice one for the time and technology) that I just couldn't get happy with this camera. But I do keep it around for certain occaissions. One of which is to help augment my current point and shoot, which I will get to in a minute.

Meanwhile, after this camera, I stopped taking as many pictures. Mostly because its strange desire to suck batteries of their life a little to quickly, and its outright refusal to work unless coaxed in a certain way. It's stubborn I tell you. But I still find myself having to use it instead of my new one from time to time.

A lot of my yellowstone pics were taken with this camera, but when you see the pics my family took, you can tell which ones were taken with the 'cheap' camera and which ones were taken with the nice one.

The picture quality has definitely deteriorated. But I still have some good pics.

Rawhide was a good little horse. Yellowstone was fun, probably one of the funnest jobs I've ever had, but I was still getting past my deployment and was not the easiest person to work with that summer. High strung was a good term to use, a lot of things were going on at that time and though I don't regret the experience, I wish things had ended differently then they had. But that's another long story. Doing a lot better now.

Yes, this camera was purchased in 2006.

My Fourth Camera - Sony DSC T10

This is the last Sony I will probably own. Don't get me wrong, I love this camera, but I'm kind of over the whole Sony bit. This camera also takes some pretty sweet pictures, but unfortunately, I've had some bad luck with it.

I purchased it for Drill Sergeant School, wanting something small and portable and NOT my third camera, and the memory stick was again a factor. However this camera has had its share of woes.

During DSS, something happened and it just stopped working. I don't know what I did (probably dropped it) but fortunately for me, it's still under warranty. I had to use my loathesome third camera for DSS instead, and ended up not taking a whole lot of pics because of this.

The other problem is charging the battery and downloading pictures onto my computer. Unlike my first camera, which can be plugged into charge and therefore you can always take pictures, this one tends to like to run out of juice, and I have a nasty habit of misplacing the charger. I also don't know what happened to my USB adaptor, which is a little different then your standard adaptor, and so I use my third camera to download pictures onto my computer. It gets a little tiresome. My picture taking has suffered because of it.

I did this photoshoot in December, you might recognize the picture a bit. Half were taken with this camera, half with my sisters when I ran out of memory card space. *sighs*. As mentioned, I haven't taken a whole lot of pictures with this camera. But I'm trying to change that. Its a great little point and shoot, as long as I keep the battery charged.

My Digital *Non* Camera - Vivitar Digital Camera Binocular

Don't tell me what made me take a momentary lapse in sanity and think this was a good idea. I should know better then to buy cheap crap electronics like this. But alas, last Christmas, I had more money then I knew what to do with and I thought with my Employee Discount it was worth checking out.

Well, it was cheap, thankfully, but that should have been my first clue. I just always liked the idea of being able to zoom in really close and take a picture. I can zoom with my other cameras, but I never could get as close as I wanted too. I've always wanted to get better pictures then I get, so I thought I would give this a try.

I could probably get them for false advertising, because this is not what the picture looks like. Not by a long shot. It makes it look like it takes crystal clear SLR quality photos. Hah!

I took a couple. They turned out a horrid blurry mess. I never tried again. But the camera was fortunately very cheap.

Very very cheap.

That should have been a warning.

They do work as a pair of binoculars though.

My Fifth Camera - Canon DSLR EOS 40D

It's very pretty.

It takes very pretty pictures too.

I'm still getting the hang of it and am trying to baby it and make sure it lasts for many years to come. I bought this thing to focus more on making photography more of a hobby of mine, and encourage me to get outdoors and go visit family more often. So there is extra incentive for me buying this gargantuan thing. It encourages me to get SOCIAL! And continue to be a camera happy person, yes, but there is nothing wrong with that. And I am encouraged to look around at things a little differently.

I'll probably save up for some different lenses later, but man how I wish I had this thing when I was in Yellowstone. It would have taken AWESOME pictures!

But this will go to Knox with me. I'm not sure how often I will get a chance to use it, because I can't take pictures and do the shark attack at the same time, and I don't trust another person that is not family with it yet. Well, except Julie, as she is as bad as me when it comes to breaking things.

I'm going to make an extra effort to take more pictures, maybe not fascinating ones and I'll likely not be in them, but hey, it is my blog. And i can take pictures of whatever the heck I want!

I'll be taking some action shots tomorrow. I've got to get fully realized on this camera before I take it on the trail with me, and make sure I'm comfortable enough with it that I don't run over it with a car or submerge it in water. Otherwise, well, it's covered under warranty.

Exciting stuff, eh? There's my multitude of Cameras.

I only have so many because I'm single and haven't found a responsible way of using my money yet.


Grown Up Toys

I don't know what it is about being single, but being single means only answering for oneself, and when one wants to get a toy, one merely has to talk themselves in or out of it. So I talked myself into a special toy that I've been thinking about getting for some time now.

I picked up a DSLR camera. It is fancy shmancy and as soon as I took it home, I decided I wanted to test it out by taking it out and taking pictures of anything that could potentially be interesting.

I discovered that when one has a camera in hand, one focuses on what could be potentially be an interesting topic to photograph. And I've also discovered that anything could potentially be an interesting topic depending on how it is photographed.

Well, I still got a lot to learn, but I love the camera and how crisp and clear the pictures turned out. Though this is not the time of year to take a camera out to catch the sights. I think is previous years April should offer plenty of bloomage, but this April has started of a bit on the damper side.

And I need to further train my photographer's eye on things that could potentially be interesting to take pictures of.

Call me weird, but I want to take pictures of bugs.

It's still to early to get pictures of bugs however. Kentucky probably has a nice variety I wager.

One of the more interesting pics I took.

I bet I could talk my sister into heading over to river front park and taking some pics with me. Heck, either one in town would likely be game for it. One sister is quite the photographer, we could compare cameras!


Charlton Heston - RIP

As many of you know, I'm a bit of a gun nut. I like Guns. I have been a member of the NRA and truthfully I need to get my membership renewed sometime in the near future, before this next presidential election when you have people like Barack Obama who wants to ban all hand guns.

So, as many of you know, Charlton Heston, former President of the NRA, passed away yesterday at the age of 84.

I noted his passing mentioned on Perezhilton.com yesterday (one of my guilty pleasures I admit) and was curious as to what Perez's readers might say about the man they would likely see as their enemy due to his stance on gun rights.

Apparently, these people are rabid haters of anybody who wants to own a gun. And they are apparently also loyal supporters of the film maker Michael Moore.

Michael Moore's movies should be shown in Critical Thinking classes, and that's about it. The man distorts and edits so much in his movies that he completely tweaks the truth to fit his agenda. Because he does this, he has lost all credibility with me. I've seen Bowling for Columbine. I refuse to watch any other movies that he's made, no matter what message he's trying to portray that I may or may not agree with (and mostly I disagree, but the man is a complete narcissist so why should I even bother?)

Apparently, people still look at the film 'bowling for columbine' and it's character assassination of Charlton Heston as gospel. Including the apparent scene where he goes to a gun rally in Denver shortly after the Columbine incident and rallies his fellow gun-loving troops behind him.

I would link to the Bowling for Columbine Myths page to get a better understanding of all the problems with the film, but alas, the link is broken.

Whatever the case, Charlton Heston, a screen legend in Hollywood, a strong supporter of the civil rights movement in the 1960's, and a advocate of the 2nd ammendment, was a good man that does not deserve the hostility he has gotten from rabid lunatics of the left who follow Moore passionately.

Besides, if anything to encourage the ownership of guns, look at Switzerland and their unusually high gun ownership rate. They also have a very low homicide rate due to gun violence. Why? Because I know if I were a criminal, I would be less inclined to attack somebody if I knew they were armed.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have the guns. There are a bunch of these little sayings, but you know what? They are quite true.

I guess I didn't mean to go on a bit of a rant on the owner ship of guns when I'm talking about the death of a great man, but I guess they go hand in hand, don't they?



I was just watching Bill O'Reilly and he had a little segment on movies involving the Iraq War, bringing to our attention the movie Stop-Loss, and how its bombed in theaters stateside.

I watched as it seemed like people were describing this movie as not Anti-War but Pro-Soldier. I haven't seen the movie myself and I admit I have no intention of seeing it. But I've had no desire to see it since I heard of it. Because its about whining and complaining. And I'll go further as to why I think most people, and a lot of soldiers are turned off by this.

This is a volunteer military. We have not enacted the draft. When you sign the dotted line, you are signing a contract that states that you are getting pay and benefits and sometimes a whole lot of money for your service. You are getting something for something. And the military is expecting you to hold onto your end of the bargain.

What a lot of people don't seem to understand is the eight year contract that EVERYONE who joins the military signs. Meaning you are still in the military after your initial two or four year contract is up. They can still call on you and ship you overseas if they have need of you.

When you hear soldiers coming back from Iraq bitching and complaining of being stop-lossed, calling it a backdoor draft, I call bull. Nobody forced you to sign the contract, you did it because you were expecting something in return. Granted, some people's experiences in the military are not the greatest either. You may have had a bad experience, poor leadership, which has killed more then one career that I know of (and nearly killed my own) but you still have an obligation, as the military does provide plenty of opportunity and benefits if you take advantage of them.

So I look at this movie Stop-Loss and it is no surprise to me that it bombed. Telling me a story about a soldier who served faithfully, then gets back and gets stop-lossed and gets mad about it, shows to me that you are showing a soldier who is not living by the army values of Loyalty, Duty, Selfless Service or Honor. This isn't going to fly in the military community, unless its other dirtbags that are whining too.

Thanks but no thanks. Show me a story of a soldier who deserves my admiration and respect. Tell me a story of a soldier's soldier. They used to make movies all the time. Why can't we have a Saving Private Ryan of the Iraq War?

This movie is not Anti-War, well maybe not. I'm not one to judge, I haven't seen it so I can't judge it on that regard. But it is not showing the better side of the American solider. No thanks, I'll save my money.

Thanks For Flying and Serving

I'm traveling in uniform. I have found that traveling in uniform has its downsides, but it has its perks as well.

One, if you are in uniform, you don't have to remove your boots when you walk through the check point. Two, you get a lot of people thanking you for your service. Three, if there is an empty seat in first class, the flight crew will come up to you and ask if you would like to sit there.

So on my way from Denver to Oklahoma City, I flew first class for the first time. Ever.

It was nice. I had plenty of leg room. They actually served my drink in a glass. I was the first one off the plane.

But I look back, I didn't really need to fly first class. Actually, I was having a nice conversation with the people next to me and actually hesitated taking the seat because I was leaving them.

But its still nice to get noticed and thanked.

The downside to traveling in uniform? Well, you stand out like a soar thumb. You can't walk around with headphones in your ears and you have to be extra cautious about what you are doing because you are representing the the military and you have to remain a professional.

But when you get somebody who comes up to you and thanks you sincerely for your service, it does make it worth it.

Even if I do make a living out of yelling at people.

Maid Service

I'm currently staying at a pretty nice hotel waiting for my flight to leave later today. Things have been fairly easy here, but I didn't fail to notice that the maid service is not that smart.

In a lot of hotels these days, they have this little announcement where they ask you to reuse the towels to conserve water and all of this, which I'm all for. I mean, I don't have to have a clean towel every time I use the shower. So I took a shower, used their soap and shampoos and after I was done I draped the towel over the shower curtain to let it dry out. I didn't let anything fall on the floor.

Of course, I had some hair ties and a soap container in a plastic bag, which was wrapped around the rest of my toiletries to prevent them from leaking all over my luggage.

Anyway. I came back after the first day, to reveal that although it states that they ask us to do our part to conserve water for the environment, I find my soaps and towels replaced, and the plastic bag is thrown away.

Grr. . .

The next day, I put the conservation sign up NEXT to my towel, hoping they might get the hint that I don't need it to be replaced. I mean, they tell me to throw the towel on the floor if I want a new one, I'm perfectly content to use the other one. I mean, it's just water I'm drying off myself after a shower.

They still replaced all of the towels. But strangely, they left the soap alone.

I would take it, but I don't have anything to carry it back in. Hmm. . .

I'm not against doing a little conservation here and there. But it makes it difficult when the hotel doesn't cooperate with their own policy.

I guess next time I'll put that don't disturb sign on the door. But I like getting into a made bed that night.


April Fools!

So, I'm waiting at Denver International to catch my flight to my next destination, which should be leaving here in about an hour. So I'm just chilling out in the glorious USO that is here. Quite possibly one of the nicest USOs I've ever been too.

Um, the thing is, I should have been at my destination a few hours ago.

Let me explain.

Whenever I have to travel anywhere, I get a little antsy the night before and can't sleep. Such as was the case last night. So I set my alarm for 0410 because I had a 6 AM flight I had to catch. I did my thing, and to doubly make sure that everything was set, I checked my alarm again. And accidentally shut it off.

Causing me to sleep in and miss my flight. And nothing makes you panic like thinking you missed a flight. As an NCO, I need to be more responsible about these things, shouldn't I?

So, I won't be flying into my destination until about 10 PM. A good nine and a half hours later then I should have been.

I just hope I don't miss any important briefings or what ever happened today. We're crossing fingers that this was a traveling day but I'm sure I'm going to have to make up for something tomorrow.

Don't you hate playing an April Fool's joke on yourself? Gah!