Sunday, November 28, 2010

Marking Time

I had refractive surgery about a week and a half ago, and so far are pleased with the results. Every day my vision gets a little bit better. Partially, that is why I haven't written in such a long time. Well, that and nothing really interesting happening in my life. That's not quite true. One big change has happened recently, but the story is not quite ready to commit to the internets yet. Anyway, got a bit of healing to do yet before I really write about my vision correction experiment. Stay tuned for more details. Or something.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Family That Creates Together...

Stays Together.

Now it's time for arts and crafts. Arts and crafts, sounds a little mundane doesn't it? I know when I hear that I don't think, "Wow, this is going to be cool!" And that's because it usually ain't (yes I know ain't isn't a word, but it fits the tone of the opening, so deal with it). When I think of arts and crafts I think doilies, quilts, bird houses and colored paper. Fortunately, you won't find much of that around this house.

A couple of nights ago the wife and kid took out the clay and paints. In normal hands you might get a cute animal, a colorful flower or even a decorative rock. But not this family. Here's what they came up with:

This cute little feller is a road-kill possum. How do you know that it's road-kill? First, the x's for
eyes are a dead giveaway (that was horrible and I'm sorry, I'm horrified I wrote that myself). Second, the tire tracks on his midsection is another subtle clue.

Look. You can even see his heart.

Now these certainly look edible don't they? Wait a sec...Are those...? Brains! Who would do such a dastardly thing? I'm sorry, but I am contractually obligated to protect the identity of the person that committed this offense due to the fact that they are a member of this household. And the fact that if I gave them up, the next brains you may
be seeing could be mine.

We've all hear the saying, "I hate your guts." Many of us have even used it at one point or another. Here's another take on it. How about a pair of guts that love each other. See, there's a heart. Heart = Love, right? These guts are practically inseparable. Really, there's a screw holding them together just below the heart.

And the prize winner for completely random? I present:

A disembodied tentacle.

My family, indeed the people that I live with and have to see every day, scare me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Accidental Upside-Down Cake

My daughter's 15th birthday was a couple of days ago, and it was pretty fun. We didn't do a whole lot, mostly stayed home and let her open presents. I also picked up a Yufka Vegitarisch from the local Döner place. Döners are awesome. A Yufka Vegitarisch is essentially vegetables in a wrap with white and red sauces. Very good stuff. Anyway, back to the point. We also had cake.
This is the cake. Pretty isn't it? Not really, I know. I chose a pretty obnoxious cake for an
obnoxious girl. The candles in the upper right are arranged in the shape of a 1 and a 5. Together that's 15. Creative right? I thought so too.

Another, more creative shot. Nice, huh?

All was going well, until it came time to light the candles. What I didn't realize at the time was that the candles arranged as the 1 would create a giant wall of flame when lit. OK, so it wasn't giant, but it ended up fairly substantial. I lit the candles in the kitchen and had to carry the cake to the living room. For some reason I slipped, and the cake took a header.
See, here's the cake. I don't know how the cake slid off, I suspect suicide. I mean look at that ugly thing. The colors alone would cause me to have low self-esteem.

I think it's kinda strange that the frosting just fell off of the cake. I mean really, what was that stuff made out of anyway?

And here's cake number two. I don't know what that yellow thing is supposed to be, but this is much more obnoxious than the first cake and that makes it awesome.

Look at the frosting on this cake. It had to be at least half an inch thick in places. Tasted pretty good though.

Over all I think things went well. The presents were great, the food was tasty and much humor was in the air over the manically depressed baked goods. And the kid had a good time, and that was the point of the party.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Outdoor Adventures

Last Friday a few members of my team and I took a break from work and had our own little adventure outdoors. Of course, being a soldier, I usually get plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature. We have physical training every day, field exercises, rifle range training and ruck marches- all activities that we do outside. All those are well and good, but we wanted to do something a little different.

What we did was try a little bit of canyoneering, which is also known as a high ropes course. It is actually exactly what it sounds like- ropes high above the ground, up to 40-45 feet high. I'll be honest right now- heights (more specifically, the thought of falling) scare the hell out of me. Thankfully, we had some very good equipment, which kept me from falling- twice, and prevented me from becoming a greasy spot on the rocks. The course is laid out simply. There is a cable strung between anchor points on a rock wall. There may or may not be footholds in the wall, so there were several places with small pieces of rebar imbedded into it. Even without the artificial footholds this course was a challenge. To further illustrate: pictures.

The course was located near the beautiful countryside near Hirschbach, Germany. In this shot the rocks can be seen near t
he center at the top of the trees. From this point it was a short walk to the beginning of the course. But, before we began was the prerequisite safety brief. We also learned how to put o
n, adjust and use the equipment. We had harnesses, two safety lines that attached to the harness and a climbing helmet. We also had to wear gloves, which were available if we forgot to bring our own. One item that a couple of our guys mentioned that may be good for the next go through would be knee pads. One of the team banged his knee pretty hard on the wall. Thankfully, he didn't get hurt too bad and was able to continue after resting up for a couple of minutes.

Here are a couple of guys at the beginning of the course. You can see the equipment and the wall in this shot. This section was pretty easy with plenty of footing. It was also near the ground so the height in this section was not a factor. He
re you can make out the cable and how it is attached to the wall. every few feet (or as short as a foot) was a cable anchor point. Part of the safety equipment included two safety lines, and the anchors are the reason they are necessary. Navigating an anchor point is easy, just detach one safety line and reconnect it on the other side of the
anchor. One thing to remember is this: Only take off one line at a time. If you detach both, you could fall. The first challenge of this course is the first corner. It can be intimidating, especially since the height of the cable is much higher. But...

This is the reward for taking that step.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day. This picture is a bit deceptive though. In it, it looks like Garcia is on a substantial ledge. That is inaccurate. The ledge in the foreground is much closer to where
I am then to where Garcia was. The cable actually went below this ledge and back up again on the other side. There was plenty of footing in this section, but it was never that substantial.

Here you can see SGT Cuevas waiting for Gilson to clear another corner. The top of this section was where Garcia was in the previous shot. As you can see, the cable rises sharply and requires a bit of climbing to reach.

This is the second leg of the first section, and without a doubt, the hardest. It is short, only about 100 feet from beginning to end, but was a very challenging climb. See SGT Kroamer's right foot? That's the last decent foothold on the wall. Let me put it this way: Three of us tried it, two of us made it, one of us had to be helped off the wall. I won't tell you wh
at happened to whom, but I will tell you I needed a bit of help on this one myself. I also smashed my fingers a bit here, nothing serious of course.

My second favorite picture of the day. This is the last leg of the first section

And this is the end of the course for us. Not the course itself, there was one more section. But this second section was more than enough for us. Only three attempted it, and that was because it was a bit easier than the others, just really high up. I
did try this one, but I got a good shot out of it. See that tiny blue spot near the trees on the left side of the rocks? That's SGT Kroamer. Yes, it was that high.

One aspect that I really like about Germany is the ability to try things that I would never be able to otherwise. We all had a great time doing this, even the ones with a fear of heights. Plans are already being made to come back and do it again, maybe in January.

More pics on Flickr.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scavenger Hunt-Completed

Update-The final list of all participants is below, mostly with links to the actual posts.

First off, thanks to Antonia Blanca at for organizing this little challenge. It was an entertaining and thought provoking exercise.

This wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be. Although, part of the reason for that is that I tried to think of other meanings for the themes. Without further ado-here are my pics:


Nothing is more concrete than the love a parent has for their child.


What's more energetic than a child at play?



Dancing is simply rhythmic motion. Here, the light is dancing across the image.



This is Bridgett. This day was Bridgett's 4th birthday. Bridgett is the cutest thing I've ever seen. Ever.


After a couple of these the whole world starts to look like this.

It's Funny That...

People that have never met can claim to hate a person. It's doubtful that the person that hates the U.S. has ever had a meaningful conversation with an American. It's a near impossibility that they have ever spoken to an Israeli. But they still hate people based on superficial notions.

Anyway, enough preaching. Most of these images were taken within the last few weeks, with the exception of Smile. That one was taken in 2007, but was too good not to include here. So, how did I do?

One more time. Here are the other participants of this digital scavenger hunt. Check out their stuff too. I know I will.

Joocy Bits & Wotnots --

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I've Been A Lazy Bum This Weekend...

And to be honest, for the last couple of weeks as well.

See, a little while ago I signed up to participate in a digital scavenger hunt. For those of you that don't know (it is pretty self-explanatory, but I will explain it anyway). A digital scavenger hunt is one that is conducted by making pictures by photography, drawing or what-have-you and putting it online by uploading or scanning it. This hunt is being conducted by a group of bloggers, so naturally, we are posting the results on our respective blogs. And since I've been lazy these last few weeks I have not completed the assignment. I didn't say I haven't started, I just havn't finished it yet. The good news is that I have another day to do it. But only one more.

A few of the others have already posted their results. I really don't need to do this until I post my pics, but here is the list of people and their blogs that are participating. Enjoy the results, I know I will.

Lifting Me Up --

Joocy Bits & Wotnots --

Photography by Hank Plumley --

Be Your Own Detective --

Jerome Aoustin Photography --

And yes, one way or another, I will post my pics by tomorrow evening.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lesson Learned

So what lessen did I learn today? It's a pretty simple one that I plan to follow, at least for now. In way of explanation, let me give you a brief rundown of my day.

To start out I decided to get up early today so I could go to a site I scouted and take some shots. How early? 4 AM early, or in military parlance- zero dark thirty. I did have a good reason for getting up early, the site I wanted to shoot was two hours away and I needed to be there around sunrise for the best light. OK, so that's a bit early, but it would be worth the trouble if I got some good pics right? Except that I didn't get any pics. The area of and around the site had road construction. I could have parked and walked to get a few shots, but I would have had to do so through a few miles of rugged woodland. So that ended up being a wash.

After I made it back home I took a nap, I did get up at a time that most people have never seen after all. After I got up I had to do a few errands, to include dropping the kid off at her friend's house to have a sleep over. On the way home I got to thinking: "The light is pretty good (late afternoon) and it should be good for a while longer, why not go find a place to shoot nearby." I checked out a couple of local areas that I'd been meaning to get to, but couldn't find anything there worth getting out of the car for. Then I remembered a place I had been to, but hadn't seen fully yet. The bonus was that it's only about 10 minutes from home.

I get there and end up staying for a few hours, well into dark. I got some pretty good shots out of it to ensure the day wasn't a total waste. Check them out here:

So what was the lesson that took me most of today to learn? The lesson was that I don't need to go far to get a great shot. There's usually something closer and better that is worth the effort. That and gas isn't cheap.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Back Home Again

So I just got out of the field again. And because of that, this is my first weekend off in two weeks. So far the time off has been pleasant, except for this persistent cold that I've had for about a week now. Anyway, the family and I have been doing some bonding type activities. The wife and daughter have even been civil to each other. A teenager being civil with a parent? Who could have guessed? They have even spent time together in the kitchen cooking, and not attempting to throw boiling water at each other. They even made a spur of the moment decision to make cookies. I did not help make them, but I did help each them. They were yummy.

This weekend is all rain so I don't know if I'll be able to take my camera out and shoot some pics. I signed up for a digital scavenger hunt a couple of weeks ago and I only have two weeks to post my shots, so I was hoping for good weather. But with bad weather like this I'm just going to have to get creative in the house. Hmm, I just remembered that I'm taking my camera in for a cleaning on Monday, so the hunt will have to wait until after that.

And that just about covers what was on my mind for today. Boring, I know. But not all posts can be riveting journalism. Ya gotta have some filler in there too. Maybe next time I'll post some pics here and explain how I shot them instead of just posting them on Flickr. That actually sounds like an interesting idea- to me at least.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Lifetime Of Change.

The world today is a heck of a lot different from the world that I entered 36 years ago, not that I understood how things were at that time. The mid 70's was a time of massive upheaval, both social and technology wise. This era saw the end of the Vietnam War, the rise of feminism, expansion of environmentalism and many advances in science. I was too young at the time to understand what all this meant, but now I am old enough (and wise enough) to appreciate how those important steps affected my future.

Just looking around my living room right now I see changes from that time that I would never have guessed about. Within my reach right now I have my cellphone (an HTC G1 smartphone), two portable game systems (DS and PSP), a 320 gig portable hard drive powered solely by USB and the laptop I'm writing this on. Think about these devices for a second. How would someone from 1975, 1980 or even 1995 perceive these small shiny things? In the 1970's, these devices would have been impossible to imagine. State of the art in that age was the 8-track player, type writers (non-electric), and the rotary phone. In the 80's personal computers gained in popularity and ability, as were laptop computers. Cellphones also were gaining popularity during this time. How many fans of Save By The Bell are out there? Surely you remember the Zack Morris phone?

Time continues to advance and changes are happening every day. I am awed by the world today, and a little apprehensive about where we are going. How will the world look in another 36 years? We can guess, but no one can know for sure.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


So here it is: Vacation time again. I have two whole weeks off, the first significant break I've had in over 6 months. I am ready to relax. Wait, no I'm not. I'm ready to take a few trips around Europe and take a few pics. I'm thinking Prague. And maybe Austria, haven't been there yet. The Black Forest is a place I want to go in Germany, as well as Neuschwanstein- the real life castle that inspired the fake one at Disneyland. So many places to go, so little time.

I haven't posted any pics as of late. The reason for that is that the trial of the photo editing program I was using has expired. I have ordered the full one, but it's taking it's time getting here, should be any day now. Then I will be able to inundate everyone with hundreds of pictures of Germany and all my very interesting vacation photos. Well...maybe not hundreds, but a few. That's about all I've got for now. 'Til later all.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Maybe Google Is Right

I've been thinking lately. Scary, I know, but bear with me. Anyone who has read my sporadically updated blog knows that I have taken up photography as a hobby. This, of course, has taken up a large chunk of free time during the weekend and as a result I have not been doing much else, such as write as often as I used to. Anyway, to the point. In taking pictures, even digital ones, a bit of developing must be done (more so with me due to my inexperience) and I have been making due with a trials of certain Adobe programs to get by. Looking at the cost of the full programs I've been using has been a bit of a letdown. Realistically, the purchase of a $500 program is just not in my budget and won't be for a very long time-if ever. Then I remembered the cloud.

The cloud? Now what could I be talking about here? So, what do clouds have to do with computer programs? A lot. See, the cloud I'm talking about is the internet version, not the one you see above your head in the sky. Basically, what I'm getting at is that programs don't have to follow the old tried and true method of use. Typically what we do is purchase a program and install it on a hard drive for use. The difference between programs accessible online and the traditional model is that you don't have to download a program to use it. Both Microsoft and Google are investing heavily in this business model, and they may be on to something. I didn't see the potential a few months ago, but I can see the possibilities now.

Take Photoshop for example: The program itself costs anywhere from $700 to $1000 to buy, depending on the version. Unfortunately, that is way out of budget for me and many others. Using the cloud model, what if Adobe instead decided to make a version of Photoshop that is usable in a browser window? Of course it wouldn't be free, but it could cost a lot less. Bottom line what this means is that Adobe can expand its user base by charging for access by means of a monthly fee for a version of the program that may not be as full featured as what is available in a store. For those that can't afford the full program, this model will allow some access and is an affordable option for many enthusiasts that would have no access to Photoshop's tools ordinarily.

I get it now. I see why companies are interested in cloud computing. This could be good for everyone, as long as the fees for online access are affordable. The point to remember is that if the fees are too high customers won't pay and that defeats the purpose of this model. If the fees are not affordable what would be the point?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Unhealthy? Nah.

My current obsession is with photography. Well, maybe current is not exactly accurate. I've been interested in photography for a long time now, and have been taking my own pictures since I got my first camera in 2006. I recieved a decent Sony point-and-shoot for my birthday that year, and I loved it. I took that camera with me wherever I went, and still do. I've taken pictures of everything around me, and even went far and abroad to get a good shot. One lesson I learned quickly is that getting a good shot does not require hours of scouting locations or extensive prep time to get. It was mostly just about getting out and seeing things for how they truly are.

The first few months I had my camera I took hundreds of pictures. I took pictures of buildings, plants, people and crowds, lakes, activity and anything else that caught my eye. And that is really the secret to photography, using your eyes. I would just walk-or ride my bike-somewhere (anywhere) and just see what there was to see. I would experiment and test my equipment. I would frequently stop and look at the most seemingly uninteresting scenes and find something worth noting about it, if not something worth photographing.

Recently I purchased a new camera, a very decent DLSR. This camera is a huge step up from the little Sony I had been using up until this point, and is a bit intimidating. Using a point-and-shoot camera is easy. Point, zoom, focus, shoot-and that's it. My new Canon EOS Rebel T1i is a bit more advanced and required a bit of studying up to get a decent shot. I've written about it here before and I don't think I'll go into it any farther this time. I will say that with all the practice I've been getting I am getting better at using it and taking better pictures. At least I think I am.

I don't claim to be great at photography, but the reason I keep going and trying is due to what photography has taught me. I have learned to look, really look, at everything around me. I see the color, the splendor, the majesty of life around me. I have to really see, because if I don't I may miss a once-in-a-lifetime vision. Another thing: Every once in a while, turn around, look at the path you have taken, and look at everything from a different angle. I guarantee you will see things in a whole new manner.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Editing Life

One advantage that digital cameras have over traditional film cameras is the ability to take the original image file and alter it on a computer with a program like Photoshop. We've all seen the results of creative people (and those that just think they are) with edited pictures. The problem I've been dealing with since I bought my new camera isn't whether to touch up photos or not, but rather, when to stop.

I've been trying out a couple of programs to develop digital images, notably Adobe Lightroom 2 and the editing software that came with the camera called Digital Photo Professional. I know what you are going to say: Digital pictures don't need developing, but most can use a tweak or two before they are ready to be shown. When I started using my camera I would have a very large number of pictures that would require a lot of work to be good enough. I have been getting better at using my camera so I don't need to do that much to get a photo to where I want it. Take these pictures below. The first one is the original image exported directly from the camera's raw file, that's the format that I have my camera set to as default. Raw images can be manipulated much easier and with better results than with a .jpg or other format. It's not really a bad picture, but it definitely looks underexposed resulting in an image that's a bit too dark.

This next image was my first attempt
at correcting the original shot. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing. I started by adjusting the exposure and used the graduated filter tool to darken the sky. I then adjusted the vibrance and saturation. Changing the vibrance and saturation settings warmed up the image considerably and made it brighter, but it also made it look unnatural. Another advantage of the raw format, changes made to the image are not permanent. That means that any and all changes made to the image are reversible (thankfully!).

And this last one is my latest attempt to make the image look as natural as possible. I used a bit more restraint in changing the image this time around. I did brighten up the image a bit, as well as adjust the saturation and vibrance, but hopefully not enough to make the image seem fake. What is obvious is that the the picture itself was not taken in the best possible circumstances. The day was very overcast and that detracted from the overall shot. I'll have to go back soon and see if I can do better with more natural light and less cloud cover.

Any image can be manipulated in a variety of ways. Digital images can be recolored, aged, made into a black and white picture or any combination of those options. The key is to know what you want the image to be and convey and when to stop making adjustments. Practice with whatever program you use is nearly as important as shooting the image in the first place. I still need a lot of practice with both.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hobby Fun

I've always had an interest in photography, but have never had good enough equipment to really enjoy it as a hobby. I recently corrected my hardware issue by upgrading from my little Sony Cyber-shot point-and-shoot to a very decent DSLR camera with a couple of essential accessories. I chose a Canon EOS Rebel T1i which came with an 18-55mm lens, a bag to protect and carry the camera in and a basic tripod. I have also picked up every book and magazine from the PX about photography that looked useful. And yes, I have also done extensive web research. I'm not all that good at it yet and I still have a lot to learn regarding the myriad of features that my camera has. I've been reading up on using ISO settings, aperture priority, shutter speeds, depth of field, lenses, filters, histograms, white balances, lighting and a few other options. It can be a bit intimidating, but it is very fun at the same time. Here's a shot I took while on a picnic a couple of weekends ago. I like that the dock is in the foreground, but not exactly the center of the picture. The focus of the image starts there, but continues to the rest of the lake and trees in the background. Having the light reflecting off of the water helps to bring out the detail both in the foreground and background. If the light refecting off the water had been darker or had the water been still, I don't think that the picture would have been nearly as interesting.

Experimenting has been vital in my learning process. If I take 30 shots I may only keep 2 or 3 good ones. I try to experiment with the settings each time I take a shot. This means that I may end up with 8-10 pictures of the same subject, but it increase the chance that I will get one that I like. This shot was one of about 35 that I took of this field of Raps plants. I tried different exposures and played around with the depth of focus a bit. I ended up keeping about 1/3 of the pictures I took of this field. What caught my eye about these plants was their bright yellow color. These fields are all over the countryside this time of year and is an interesting change from the predominate green that is everywhere, not that I mind seeing green, but a splash of color here and there is a good thing.

Taking a good picture involves several factors-some that I can control, some that I can't-and that is what makes the challenge worthwhile. The end result is a picture that I'm proud to show. I only have one or two really good ones now, but I'm learning and working on taking more. It'll take time and a lot of practice, but I think I'm getting better.
Images © 2010 Benjamin Sharp

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Missing Blogger

Yes, I have been away for a very long time. I know it hasn't really been that long, just a very long time for someone that writes a blog. Possibly I'll get back to my old schedule of writing a couple of times a week, or maybe not. I can find the time, it's the inspiration to write that I'm lacking right now. I know I always have something on my mind, but what I have on my mind is not always of interest to write about or read.

Something interesting did happen today. I woke up about 9 AM planning to go to the gym. When I got up I heard what sounded like a lot of steadily running water. I thought that either my wife or daughter could be up and taking a shower, but that couldn't be. First, my daughter is a teenager and what teen is ever up before noon? Second, the wife is not exactly a morning person. So I decided to investigate. The noise sounded like it was coming from the basement, so I went to the basement to take a look. I checked the laundry room first only to find nothing amiss. I then took a look in the room that we put the cat to bed at night in (he tends to rampage around the house breaking things if not secured in the evenings). Upon opening the door I see the poor creature huddled against the wall staring at me. I then look up to see a torrent of rushing water in the opposite corner falling from the ceiling directly into his litter box. The cat was so thankful to see me he rushed right into my arms. He was nearly out of dry land and to a cat that must be the worst thing in the world. If the water had risen any higher, say to mid paw level, he might have drowned! Any amount of water (not to include his water bowl, a necessary evil) is frightening to a cat after all. Not to mention that his litter box is now a small pond in it's own right.

Since I was at the lowest level and am smart enough to realize that water flows down I proceeded upstairs to see where the water was coming from. I went to the room directly above the cat's room, which is our rarely used (read: never) dining room, to see water coming out of the light fixture in the ceiling. This fixture usually has a glass cover over the bulb that snaps in place with a series of spring loaded mechanisms. I did notice that the cover was not there, and that was because it was in a bunch of little pieces all over the room along with a copious amount of water. So, up to the next floor it is and to have a talk with the wife.

On the top floor the carpeting outside of the bathroom in our bedroom was a bit damp. The wife, having just exited the shower, was confused as to why there was water all over the bathroom floor. What I think happened is that either a pipe started leaking between the first and second floor. The first floor was soaked by water falling down from the fixture in the ceiling. The second was wet by water being absorbed upwards. I'd like to get an expert here to confirm this, but it's Saturday, and getting a German civilian at the Directorate of Public Works to open a work order on Saturday (even on an emergency basis) is next to impossible.

The leak seems to have slowed down a bit for now. My only concern is that after cleaning up all the water from the cat room in the basement I smell horrendous, which means that I really need to take a shower. I'm hoping that the problem lies only in the master bedroom shower and not the shower in the upstairs hallway bathroom. I'll be testing out that theory shortly.

I have come to realize that if I'm not having any luck getting help on Saturday I won't be holding my breath for getting anyone on Sunday. So it looks like I'll be doing the bucket brigade thing until at least Monday morning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Retroactive Stop Loss Pay

Now here is an announcement that is getting entirely too little press these days. Stop loss is a policy that was enacted recently for the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Stop loss is a method for the military to retain experienced personnel in times of need. What this means is that any service member whose contract just prior to, during, or immediately after a deployment was refused release. This policy did not originally include any additional payments for those members involuntarily extended. Fortunately about a year and a half ago that changed.

The change in policy, when enacted, entitled anyone currently stop lossed was given an entitlement of $500 a month in addition to all standard and deployment pays. This policy did not include any members that were stop lossed prior to 1 October 2008. The reason for the omission? Political infighting and budget constraints. Well, fortunately that error was corrected. Now, service member that fell under the stop loss program from 11 September 2001 until 30 September 2008 are now qualified to receive a payment equal to $500 for each month served under the stop loss program. Additionally, any of that time served while deployed will also qualify for tax free status.

The reason I'm writing about this is due to the fact that too little mention of this new policy has been made to date. Thousands of service members qualify for this additional, and well earned, money, but may lose out due to a failing of the government to publicize it. Whether this failing is intentional to save money or just an oversight I don't know, but it needs to be corrected. Applying is easy, provided you have corresponding documentation. Information on where to apply can be found here: Good luck to all that apply.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Salutations And Apologies

It's been a while since I've written, and that is wholly my fault. The holidays and my vacation took a bit more out of me than I expected. What I need is a regular schedule to get my mind focused on the pursuits that I enjoy. Gotta have a bit of work mixed in with play or the play is meaningless. Anyway, about a week and a half to go until I start the Monday through Friday grind again. I'll try to get a bit more creative then. Until then, see ya.