Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

I have never felt this before, this feeling of dread and finality. Of fear. And Hope. Regret.



Merry Christmas.

"Seeking a Friend" did exactly what it meant to do: it made me confront the end and examine the now. I felt the dread of the oncoming apocalypse. I yearned for the meaning that everyone was searching for. I felt the loneliness and togetherness of singlehood and family. I laughed at the weird things humans do, and shook my head in disappointment at the despicable ones. I  felt, in those final moments, so many emotions that I'm having a hard time seperating one from the other. I will never forget, I think, the final frame of that movie.

And it wasn't even that great of a movie, but it made me think. Hard.

Firstly it proved that in the end, timing is everything.

Secondly it made me wonder what I would do if I knew I was going to die in a month. Who would I track down? Who would I apologize to? Who would I want to be with? What would I do with my time? What pursuits would I continue and which would I discard?

And then finally I wondered what it would be like if I thought I was going to die, and then turned out I wasn't going to. There is a fundamental shift in follow-through between those two philosophies. Truly living like today is your last day... Almost impossible, I think. Unless you wouldn't change anything from how you currently live. I guess what almost matters more than the WHAT you would do is the WHY.

Well the first movie of the day is down and it's only five in the morning. Bring on Les Mis, s'il vous plaƮt.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Last Laugh

It's not about money. It's about winning.

And in the end, I just took all that face cream back and returned it all. Ha! Turns out, I got a great deal, actually; the manager had to approve returning items that were sold at lower than invoice.

Tiger blood, yo.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Swindled


So I've just been swindled by a beautiful Israeli girl and I don't really seem to mind.

I knew that this winter would be one to remember. Things just keep getting crazier and crazier. Due to a series of (un)fortunate events, I will be working in the S3 shop (operations) as opposed to being an XO for another company. A glorified scheduler, really. Much more my style at the moment.

Unfortunately, this change means that I will have to rescind my nomination for the part of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. When I was told that we would be doing a field problem during the week of the show, and subsequently informed that there was no way I would be able to get out of it, I felt sick. Almost threw up in fact. I didn't even realize how badly I wanted to do it until that moment.

And then Hawaii. Ahhh Hawaii. I cannot wait to live in a place like Hawaii. whether it's California or Florida or anywhere else in the world where it's warm and sunny ALL the time doesn't matter - just the fact that I can walk outside barefoot during winter is good enough for me.

I feel like there's a lot of opportunity here, too... As we drove through Honolulu for the first time, I kept thinking of all the business opportunities here. I kept imagining myself working here somewhere... Then I saw that Wicked was playing here. A theater troupe in Hawaii? Sounds like a dream come true to me.

We've only been here two days, but already Fate's hand has moved me like its pawn. Destiny led us to the mall, where we took a round about way of ending up exactly where we started - which put us in the perfect position to be ambushed by an Israeli provocatrix selling skin creams. Let's just say, Mom and Sister are getting hooked up for Christmas this year.

Ben said to me the other day, "I don't get blogs. I mean, who really cares that much about what one person thinks?" Welp, I care about how I think. That's all this is. A voyage into my inner psychie. A chance for me to explore what's going on inside my head via a media that I can review at a later date, that I can quantify and compare. A way to look back and try to figure out how exactly I spent that much money on mud for your face, and why I didn't really mind. Thusly some of these posts will be for you (my imaginary audience) and most of them will be for me. You can tell the difference because I seem to be writing in code when I write to myself, and I write somewhat expository when it is for someone else's benefit. But really it's all for me. One day I'll publish it for posterity. It's my journal. A travel log of the trip through the inner recessess of a strange and unorthodox mind. Or maybe it's a pretty standard mind, I couldn't say. And you're along for the ride.

Tangent(s) complete. I love the beach.

Sky vs The Arctic

I'm back...

...from the worst experience of my life. I cannot convey in words the amount of suck involved with the 12-day long Cold Weather Leader's Course. And I'm not just being a wuss (although there's that too) - I've tried to explain to people that my body does not respond to cold like the average human's. In fact, my entire life has been one big foreshadowing of my time in the arctic. Let me count the ways:

First, I told my recruit that I would fight and die anywhere the Army sends me. Jungle, desert, woodland, plains, mountains - ANYWHERE. Except please don't send me to the Arctic.

Despite the promises I made to myself, I ended up going to a college where Winter lasts 3/4's of the year.

Then in ROTC, while everyone else was offered Airborne School and Air Assault School, I was offered Northern Warfare School. I politely declined.

Then when selecting my preferred assignment just before graduating, I put Hawaii as number one. Knowing that there was a very slight chance I would get that assignment, I thought long and hard on what I would put for number two. Something inside me just kept pushing me towards Alaska. I thought, "Yeah I know people who have been stationed in Richardson and loved it. It's OCONUS but also CONUS (kinda). Let's do it."

I didn't know that there were TWO Army bases in Alaska. Richardson is at the southern end of Alaska, where it's still a temperate climate. WAINWRIGHT, however, is sub-Arctic and in the middle of nowhere. So naturally that's the base I was assigned.

Then of course, I end up in CWLC anyway, despite my best attempts (over the years) to stay away from it.

Why this aversion to the cold?

I've thought about this one long and hard as well. I've come up with a few possible explanations.

Firstly, my body just doesn't react well to the cold. I don't know why or when it began, but my body just rejects the cold like bad milk. In fact, the FIRST day I was at CWLC I got "Frost Nip," as the medic called it, which is apparently the step just below frostbite. The ends of my fingers were turning black, and the rest of my hand was paper white. My fingers were on fire.

Secondly, I think the thing I fear most in life is the cold. Maybe the one thing I fear physically in life. I mean, I've been in combat. The first time I went on patrol I was anxious and excited. That was what I had been training for for four years. This was the moment to find out what I was made of. I was ready. When the bullets started flying, it was a huge adrenaline rush, a wild experience. I was afraid yes, but it was a controlled fear that was tempered by years of preparation.

Spending a week in the Arctic scared me like combat never did. I realized that I was seriously afraid of the cold and tried to figure out why.

Firstly, my body. See above.

Second, I didn't understand how to survive in it. My inexperience with severe cold left me ignorant, and I think that ignorance scared me more than anything. That plus my sensitivity to cold left me anxious about serious injury.

Lastly, cold represents emptiness. A lacking. Loneliness. It is the absence of warmth. The absence of light. The absence of energy. It is an absence. I don't know how much that contributed, but it's a psychological factor that I think I was uncomfortable with.

In the end, I think that's why I chose to be stationed in Alaska. I had to face it. I had to face the Arctic. It's the one thing in the world I never wanted to do, so naturally I set myself up to do it. And that's why the capstone of my victory over the Arctic will be Polar Bear Diving in the Arctic Ocean this summer. Once I've been baptized by ice and snow and glacier, then - and only then - will the transformation be complete. Only then will I have faced my fear and stared it down. Only then will I be free from Arctic's hold on me.





Friday, November 23, 2012

Ender's Shadow



Ender's Shadow is worth it. A parallel novel to Ender's Game, Shadow follows Ender's right-hand man, Bean, the tiny yet brilliant street-rat-turned-commander who subtly orchestrates the conditions necessary for Ender's success. Not as good a read as Ender, and it wouldn't make my Commander's List, but it's worth it if you're getting in to the Ender series at all.

Whereas it would take me multiple posts to analyze the gems of Ender's Game, Shadow left me with this one:

"...the same commanders now praised Ender behind his back and studied his battles to try to learn how to win, never realizing that you had to study Ender's training, not his battles, to understand his victories." 
And this one:

“They were career military, all of them. Proven officers with real ability. But in the military you don’t get trusted positions just because of your ability. You also have to attract the notice of superior officers. You have to be liked. You have to fit in with the system. You have to look like what the officers above you think that officers should look like. You have to think in ways that they are comfortable with. 
The result was that you ended up with a command structure that was top-heavy with guys who looked good in uniform and talked right and did well enough not to embarrass themselves, while the really good ones quietly did all the serious work and bailed out their superiors and got blamed for errors they had advised against until they eventually got out.”

Linclon



What a great man. What a great movie. I hope that someone in Hollywood gets the idea in their head to just start going through all the great presidents and epic moments in our history. Go see this movie.

"Can we choose to be born? Are fitted to the ties we're born to?"

"A compass will always show you true north, but it will not show the mountains and swamps you'll encounter along the way. If following your compass leads you straight into a swamp, what good is knowing true north?"

Blog Burst




November continues to deliver on its promise to be one for the history books. For now I'll just add these two to the list:

10) Ender's Shadow
11) Lincoln
12) First (Northern) Lights

There's more to come for sure, especially since Cold Weather Leader's Course is coming up in a few days. AXIOS!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eulogy of What is Real




Oh Cortana, Cortana.... Are you real? Are you alive? Where do electrical currents become a mind? A what point do a collection of behavioral patterns become a personality? Is self-aware the same as sentient? What, even, is alive?

You made us ask these questions. Your passing hit me as hard as any real life human being's. You connection to me was as real as anyone else's. I will miss your company like I would a true friend's. In the end, you gave yourself for the ones you loved. Or was it simply your purpose, programmed into you from inception?

 Either way, we thank you..


Friday, November 9, 2012

SKYFALL




Bond movies make me want to jump up and start chasing people. SKYFALL is definitely entertaining, but Casino Royale remains a solid leader in the new trilogy of 007 films. The pace feels a bit wonky at times, but it has plenty of moments worth watching. And the villain was great.

Arctic Blossom


November 2012 will go down in the history books as a month of radical change. From summer to winter. From Sunshine Patriot to Arctic Warrior. Gold Bar to Black Bar. A reshuffling of priorities and day to day contrivances. For my own sake, I have included a list of what I'm talking about. You will probably be completely lost.

1) First Arctic Field Problem
2) Black to Gold
3) Forward Unto Dawn
4) First Alaska Winter
5) Phone Swap
6) Show Crush
7) Car Swap
8) Command Center Remodeling
9) Halcyon

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

HALCYON

It's like there's something I can do, something I WANT to do... Something incredible right around the corner. Like I can see the light of something awesome but I still have no idea what it is. Like no matter how cold and dark and dreary, it's but a fleeting moment compared to the joy of what's coming. As if in that one instant when whatever it is hits me, it'll be worth it. And then in the wake of whatever it is, I will lay back and look up at the stars and find meaning. Purpose.

Must be halcyon.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

E N D E R

Every once in a while, you read a book or watch a movie or hear a song that marks you - that touches you in a profound way to the core; that changes you. Your worldview has shifted, your perspective changed, your outlook altered.

Ender's Game is one of those soul stirring pieces for me.


I'm not entirely sure what it is about the book that had such an effect on me. Maybe its the pure goodness of Ender himself. Maybe it's the Games that the book revolves around. Maybe it's the dynamic between Ender and his two siblings. 

I'm sure in a few days or weeks it'll come to me. I'll realize what I see differently and know exactly why. Until that time, I'll leave you with this excerpt:

   "And it came down to this: In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them--"
   "You beat them."
   "No, you don't understand. I destroy them. I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again. I grind them and grind them until they don't exist."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

'Merica Edition

My new favorite meme. I just can't get enough of these. Expect these to appear in the Skyblog's regularly scheduled programming.

An Oldie but Goodie

Remember astrophotography? Yeah, I do too.


Epic.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

On the Bucket List


I'm adding "learning this dance" to the bucket list.

Remember when we learned the Thriller dance just from watching the video over and over again? And how we spent three weeks and three Family Home Evenings in college teaching our ward and apartment complexes how to do it so that we could all dress up like zombies on Halloween and do a flash mob Thriller dance?

Yeah that's right. Only I do.

Scrub quitters.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm Not Kidding: I'm Really Far North



Seriously though, I'm less than 200miles from the Arctic Circle. I could throw a rock into the Arctic from here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Welcome Home and Happy Birthday to Myself

I live in Alaska but pretend like it's California. I figure if I will it hard enough, this summer will never end and that the life-threatening winters of Fairbanks will become the things of legends and mythos.

So the real question is: who WOULDN'T buy a sports car up here?


But seriously there are two things important to me about picking a car: fun factor and mpg. I spent months looking for my first car and finally settled on the MINI. Best choice I could have made; I love that car. That car put a smile on my face every time I saw it. Yeah winter was rough, but whatever. I loved what I was driving.

Course, I wouldn't bring that car up HERE. No, I just couldn't put my baby through these winters.

But as I was searching for a car again, I realized that it came down to fun factor and mpg again. I can't bring myself to spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle that will require many more thousands of dollars in gas and makes me dread driving because of the drudgery of getting behind its wheel.


So I bought a sports car. Naturally. Meet the Scion FR-S 86, or just 86. Appropriate, given that my birthday was like four days ago and I was born in the same year. Toyota and Subaru birthed this and its twin, the Subaru BRZ just this summer. It's the only one in Fairbanks, and it is AWESUM!!! That part is very important.



So now I just need to find me a $1000 beater SUV to drive on the ridiculously cold/snowy days. Which hopefully won't come to pass this year because of my willing it not to.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Movie Log 16: Prometheus



I've got to get better with writing these right after I see the movie...

So yeah. Prometheus. 

Prometheus delievers exactly what it promises to: a quasi-prequel to Aliens. You can't really expect much more than a sci-fi horror movie with that promise, and Prometheus delivers on it. It's well acted, looks excellent, and sounds amazing. The only thing lacking?

The movie itself. 

Like Snow White, they introduce concepts, questions, and plot turns - and then just forget about them. Actions that affect the entire movie but have no resolution or aren't even addressed by the characters. Like in Snow White - the Huntsman kisses Snow White and she wakes. AND NO ONE EVEN CARES. It's like it didn't even happen. Oh, the duke's son who has thought of no one else but Snow White for twenty years suddenly finds his childhood crush? DON'T EVEN TALK TO EACH OTHER IT'S COOL. Prometheus has quite a few moments like that. 

All in all, a neat flick, but I'd wait for the Redbox. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Movie Log 15: Snow White and the Huntsman

Yes, I watched this movie.
Yes, I went with my family.
Yes, it is definitely a chick flick.
Yes, Thor is in it. As himself. Yes, as Thor.
Wait...


An interesting take on the story, no doubt. Definitely awkward throughout, though. There were many mommy-daughter and daddy-daughter dates in the audience, and you never knew how sensual or violent it was about to get. There was a thirteen-year-old and her dad sitting right next to me, and when the Queen beds/kills the king all I could think about is how awkward it would be to watch this with my dad. Then I remembered my dad was there, as was the rest of my family. Awkward.

Bella is Bella, and Thor is Thor. The plot/script is again, awkward. Really, the best part of the movie was the Queen.


Despite her incessant feminist ravings, she was just weird enough, just evil enough, just twisted enough, to entertain every time she was on the screen. The special effects that accompanied her throughout (i.e., the mirror, her various "youth" treatments, the ravens) were just as engaging.

Unfortunately her success just made the movie feel... uneven, because when she wasn't on the screen, you suddenly remembered you were smack dab in the middle of daddy/daughter date night.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Zombacalypse

Are you prepared? If you haven't heard yet, a man was shot to death by police officers for refusing to stop eating another live man's face.

ANOTHER LIVE MAN'S FACE, I SAID.

There have also been a series of... disturbing events happening in the Sunshine State. This article sums them up nicely. Well, as nicely as one can.

To that end, I wanted to make sure that everyone is prepared. Thusly, I have linked here the Counter-Zombie Operations at the Fire Team Level manual.


Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, read it. Get to know it. And then enlist. I'm taking applications for my Zombacalypse team.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Avengers, Avengers, Avengers

Really though, this movie is awesome. I just watched it again with my brother, and I feel like I just rode this two hour long roller coaster and am just trying to catch my breath.

The first half of the movie is just ok. It brings all the characters in, gives us a taste of the conflict coming (both within and without the party of superheroes), and sets up the plot.

Halfway through the movie, the heroes start arguing with each other, and it is just a non-stop, action-packed slam fest of epic greatness. Everything about it from that point on makes it into one of the best blockbusters of all time. Yes, I said one of the best blockbusters of all time. It has everything a great blockbuster needs: action, good looking people, enough story to compel you, and characters that you actually connect with.

But every time I watch it I come away with the same new life-altering mantra:

What would Captain America do? 


Really though, just ask yourself that simple question and you will never go wrong in life.

I salute you, Capn'.


Movie Log 14: Meh In Black III

Meh.

REALLY THO AVENGERS IS AWESOME WATCH IT NOW.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Movie Log 13: Back with a Bang

I have never wanted to be a superhero more.



Avengers lives up to the hype. If someone says it doesn't, then they are just naysaying the popular opinion because they want to be hip and/or go against the grain because they are "orginal" or "artists."

Please.

This movie is the epitome of what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be. It's action packed, funny, full of entertaining actors and storylines, great special effects, five movies-worth of build up... From beginning to end it is entertaining. It's FUN. So what if it's not A Beautiful Mind, or HBO's John Adams, or Black Swan - it's not trying to be. It's just a fun, entertaining summer blockbuster that will keep you laughing and wowing at what movies can do in the 21st century.

And Hulk?


Smash!


Friday, May 11, 2012

The Miltary Ball of '12

Ah yes, that lovely time of year where you spend countless hours agonizing over your Class A's, only to realize in the end that no one even knows where all the medals and ribbons and doo-hickeys even go anyways.



I suddenly remember why I shun most social activity involving more than three total humans: the whirlwind of emotions that come out of nowhere, blow and howl and storm so very destructively for a time, and then suddenly settle into the much more normal breeze of everyday life. In the two hours I spent at the ball, I felt anxiety, anticipation, excitement, dread, loneliness, belonging, loved, respected, belittled, confused, disgusted, out of place, professional, enraged, foolish, contrite, content, and.... yeah I think that's pretty much it, and not in that particular order. And nothing remarkable even happened - it was just a normal military ball with normal military ball events. After it was all over, though, I felt like I'd just ridden an emotional roller coaster for hours without stopping.

Hmm... Maybe it's just me.


The Signals of the Onset of a Post

Indeed, I have returned. After five months of trekking through the desert wastelands of southern Afghanistan, I have returned to paradise (by association). America is as close as we're going to get, people. Just take my word for it.

It took me a while to get back to real life, as all I've wanted to do for the past couple weeks is completely veg out. You don't even realize how much work you do over there until you're not doing it anymore. I'm talking a literal 24/7 work schedule. People would come into my room/office at 3AM to tell me I've got new tasks at 5AM - after a night of tasks up to 1AM. So forgive me while I veg, but that's what I want to do with my time right now.

But like all good veg sessions and vacations, you eventually get tired of the hedonistic pleasure-seeking and start to think about meaning and purpose and direction and all that. So here I am, once again, putting the random bits of direction and meaning I encounter in every-day life to (digital) ink.

Welcome back, everyday life. I missed you. And the torrent of emotions that randomly slam into my soul at the most unsuspecting of moments, signaling the onset of a blog post.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just saving the world, is all

No big.

Get shot at, shoot some bad guys, find some IEDs, train a foreign army, provide diplomatic solutions, kick in doors, detain a whole village, burn a literal ton of narcotics.... just saving the world is all.

And now I return you to your regularly scheduled programming.