Reading List

One of the activities that had to kind of go by the wayside during my department head tour on the boat was reading; I managed to knock out the occasional novel on weeks where the work on duty days didn’t go too late into the evening, and my discovery of Audible was also a revelation. Still, my To Read pile has been steadily growing over the last several years. So, I thought I would talk about a handful of the ones I’m working on as I try to gain some headway on my backlog!

Fighting the Great War At Sea – Norman Friedman


This is a timely book given that we are in the centenary of the First World War, and it is by one of my favorite naval historians to boot! This is a well-illustrated and lavishly foot-noted tome that provides both a very good overview of the naval side of the Great War as well as insights that I have not encountered in all of my previous reading on the topic.



The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene


This book was a gift from one of my JOs (Thanks Brendan!). I’ve been working on this one during my bus rides to and from work, and its been a very interesting read so far. It goes into the advances modern theoretical physics has made with string theory, but does so in way that is accessible even to History majors like me. If you ever wanted to know more about the stuff Sheldon talks about on Big Bang Theory, this is the book for you.


Makers of Modern Strategy – Peter Paret, Editor


I just received this as a gift from a friend (Thanks Ben!) who had two copies of the book. It is a collection of essays that discuss influential strategic thinkers and their works from Machiavelli to the nuclear age. I’ve only had time to skim a few of the essays so far, but this looks like it will be a fascinating survey of centuries of strategic development.

Until next time!

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Return to “Normal”

Or, at least what passes for “normal” around here, anyway!


It’s hard to believe that it has been over two weeks since Gwen, the boys, and I got back from our vacation in Indiana.  Since then, we have been trying to re-establish some semblance of a routine, with a moderate degree of success. Complicating matters is that I’ve been somewhat busy the last couple of weeks at work, and the boys are getting more and more active, which means Gwen has been kept pretty busy looking after them during the day. Still, we have managed to get something of a routine going, and I’ve been pretty successful at getting the boys to sleep around 10 PM. After that, though, I’ve been bad about getting to sleep myself. For that, I blame my budding addition to Kerbal Space Program!

Speaking of William and James, they are both pulling themselves up into a standing position now. It won’t be long until they are running around the house! We are in trouble…14068375_1372745549421032_7328485165767647050_o

14107725_1372745546087699_4669024515426049261_oJames also recently hit a big milestone…the doctors have given him the all-clear following his cleft pallet repair, meaning he is no longer limited to soft foods. Time to start feeding him crackers! This is a big relief for both Gwen and I; it has been a little nerve-wracking at times over the last couple of months, hoping that his incisions heal and another surgery would not be necessary. Thankfully, all our prayers were heard and he healed right the first time!

I’ve got a big day on Saturday…I’m going to be playing in a Firestorm Armada tournament at a local gaming convention called the NOVA Open. Should be a lot of fun! I’ll do a write up on it afterwards. Until then…

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Gen Con Recap


This past weekend I had a great time at Gen Con in Indianapolis. I have been looking forward to attending this event for years, and that anticipation has been building ever since I made my reservations with Geek Nation Tours (GNT) back in March. And I have to say, the trip did not disappoint! So, here is a quick day by day break-down of my experiences.


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What month is it again?!

Yikes! I can’t believe it is the 31st of July already! Given that my informal goal is to update this blog at least once per calendar month, this is getting in under the wire. has been very busy around here lately. Not long after my last post, Gwen and I hosted a part to celebrate William and James’ first birthday. We had something like 20 people there between her family and mine. Suffice to say, it was a Great Success! Looks for some pictures of the event at the end of this post.

After the party, I’ve been very busy with my job, which has cut into my free time quite a bit. In general, I’ve found that I’ve had enough time to support only one of the following activities on any given evening: 1) Play video games; 2) Paint Models; 3) Do Internet Things. Of these, 1 and 2 have been winning out lately. And, when I have made time for #3, it’s mostly been directed towards doing things for Man Battlestations, rather than writing for this blog. And, there has also been more than a few evening where I haven’t had time to do any of these things! However, I’m just fine with that. The reason, of course, is that William and James are getting more active, and as a result are taking more time  to take care of. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I have been having a lot of fun spending that time with them!

Looking ahead, Gwen and I are getting ready to head out to Indiana on Tuesday. We are going to be out there for a couple of weeks to spend time with my family. I’m also going to be going to Gencon for the first 4-5 days as well, as Gwen and Aunt Sarah are being nice enough to look after the boys while I’m geeking out. Thank you in advance! Sooo…Gencon. This is a show that I’ve been wanting to go to for years now. This is the Big Show in the table top gaming world; boardgames and Role-Playing Games are its bread and butter, but there is some miniature gaming that goes on as well. It is kind of ironic; I was born in Indianapolis, but I’ve never been to this show. Part of the reason for that is that I didn’t really get into gaming until well after I’d left home for the Navy. I’m planning on participating in several Axis & Allies War at Sea events, and also picking up a few new games that sound interesting. I plan on posting updates over the show, including updates here on the blog. So, stay tuned for that!

Likewise, after the show I plan on making some updates here on the blog, especially since this will be the boys’ first experience with the swimming pool at Aunt Sarah’s house!

Until next time…

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Home Again!

I got home yesterday from a week-long trip to San Diego for a business conference. I have to say, I am really glad to be back. I went alone, so I was really missing Gwen and the boys by the end of it. Still, it was kind of fun going back to San Diego for  little bit; I got to check out a few of my old haunts, and catch up with a few friends I haven’t seen in a few years. I have to say, being back there after 6 years had an almost…eerie feel to it.

The year I spent in San Diego has a special place in my heart and mind, for a number of complex reasons. For one, it was something of the Promised Land after two tough years of slogging through the shipyard up in Bremerton. When I arrived in April 2009, the schedule on the ship I was on became much less hectic and stressful, and it felt quite liberating at the time. There is also the fact that the summer of 2009 was the last summer before Gwen and I got married, which made it bittersweet. Sweet, in that it was fun enjoying my last few months as a bachelor, going to the game store any night of the week, and generally goofing around. Bitter, due to the fact I went without seeing Gwen until September, when I flew out for the ceremony, and so I was definitely missing her. Afterwards, San Diego was the place we spent our first months together as a married couple, including our first Thanksgiving and our first Christmas. So yeah, it was kind of a strange feeling coming back to this town that is so full of such vibrant memories!

While I was busy during the day with the conference I was attending, I did get to do a few fun things. On Monday night, the day I arrived, I went up to Game Empire, which is the game store I frequented while I lived there. Much to my surprise, I discovered that a decent chunk of my old War At Sea gaming group still played there, and were playing that night. They were happy to see me, and were nice enough to loan me some ships so I could sit in on the game they were running.


Later in the week, on Thursday, I went to Santana’s Mexican Food to get one of their Carne Asada burritos. When Gwen and I lived in San Diego, Santana’s was one of our favorite burrito joints. And while the location we typically ate at is sadly no longer in business, there was another location that was open a few miles away. The burrito was just as tasty as I remember!


After I finished eating, I rounded out my week by going to another game store that I had never been to before, At Ease Games. I was invited by Steve, one of my friends in the Game Empire War at Sea group. Together with Steve, Doug, Chris, and Bill, I played  a railroad game called Railways of the World by Funagain Games. This game is a bit more complicated than Ticket to Ride, but was still pretty easy to learn. I had a lot of fun playing with these guys, and I’m glad Steve invited me.File_004

So, all in all, it was a good trip, though like I said at the beginning I’m very glad to be home. Until next time!

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Battle of Midway Commemoration

Today, 4 June, is generally recognized as the anniversary of the Battle of Midway. This year marks the 74th anniversary of this pivotal battle. What I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago is that the Navy conduces an official memorial ceremony for the battle at the Navy Memorial in downtown Washington, DC (across the street from the National Archives). This year, the ceremony was held on Friday morning. A mass email went out to those of us stationed at the Pentagon, asking for volunteers to support the ceremony. I gave an affirmative reply immediately, as the Battle of Midway is a topic I have been fascinated with most of my life. I was lucky enough to be selected as the escort for one of the 5 veterans of the battle that attended the ceremony. Specifically, I escorted Captain Jack Crawford, USN (Ret), USNA Class of 1942.


Here is a picture of me with CAPT Crawford following the ceremony.

He, along with the rest of the class of ’42, were graduated a year early due to the outbreak of war. He was present on the USS Yorktown (CV-5) as an Ensign when she was sunk during the battle. Later, he was assigned to an escort carrier and a cruiser in the Atlantic. After the war, he was selected to be a part of the Naval Nuclear Power program, serving as the project officer overseeing the installation of the nuclear reactors on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). To say that he had a few interesting stories to  tell is an understatement!

On Friday evening, Gwen and I had the opportunity to meet up with CAPT Crawford and his family for the annual Battle of Midway commemoration dinner at the Army-Navy Country Club. This was another fantastic opportunity to meet and speak with these American heroes, and get their very unique, very personal perspective on the events of 4 June 1942. This is something we are very interested in doing next year as well!

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Doors Close, Doors Open

Hello again! It’s been a while since I’ve updated here. I’ve been spending my limited internet content generating time updating the MBS blog; I did a whole series of articles on my experience at Adepticon, for example.

One of the things that prompted me to write this post is that I got news yesterday that I did not screen for submarine XO. This takes me off of the “due course” path to commanding a submarine, but it does not necessarily mean the end of my career in the Navy. I’ve got two basic options going forward; I can either stay in the submarine community, where I will be able to do a variety of assignments in support of the service. Alternatively, I can apply to “laterally transfer” to a different community within the Navy, such as Engineering Duty or Intel. Of course, there is also the option to get out of the Navy entirely, but I’m not quite ready to take that step. At the very least, I plan on finishing my current orders, which last until 2018. As I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, this news is a disappointment for me, but not really a surprise. I went into this board with eyes wide open to the possibility that this could be the outcome. So, I am doing OK; I’m not on the edge of a break-down or anything. In fact, I am genuinely excited by the options I have.

Anyway, other than the screening results, we are all doing fine. William and James are doing great. They are almost to the point where they are crawling! The next major milestone for them is that James will have his surgery up in Bethesda in a couple of weeks to correct his cleft pallet. Gwen, William, and I will be staying with him after the surgery, as he will be kept in the hospital overnight following the procedure. However, the docs say that he will be fine in time for their birthday later in June. Their actual birthday is 20 June, but Gwen and I are planning their party for the 25th. Of course, there will be lots of pictures that I’ll post here. And Cake! I won’t post that. I’ll probably eat it.

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Adepticon After-Glow


Greetings! I hadn’t realized that almost a month has gone by since my last update. A large part of the reason why is that I had been spending a lot of my limited free time getting ready for Adepticon, which I just got back from this morning. You can read all about it on the MBS blog; I’ve got brief summaries posted for each day of the event, with a few more detailed event reports planned. I had an awesome time at the con; I was able to meet up with a number of friends that I haven’t’ seen for a while and play lots of games. While fun, though, the weekend was a bit exhausting. I got about 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night, and I was taking it easier than some! It’s odd…having spent so much time getting ready for the show, now that it is over I hardly know what to do with myself. I’m thinking of taking a little break from modeling to get caught up on my video gaming, as there are several titles that have been languishing in my Steam library.

For the next day or two, I’m going to rest up, and relax at my sister’s house with Mom, Dad, Gwen, and the boys. Gwen stayed here with them while I was up in Schaumburg, so I was away from them the whole time. This has been the longest time I’ve been away from Gwen and the Boys since they were born, and it was hard on all of us! I’m gland to be back with them. We are getting on the road Wednesday, so that I can be back to work on Thursday. It has been a bit of a whirlwind trip; one of those cases where I will probably feel like I need a vacation from my vacation! Until next time…

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Fingers Crossed for Spring!


Hello all! I’m hoping that the snow we got here in Virginia on Friday will be the last we see. This week we are supposed to break into the 70’s, and peak Cherry Blossom season won’t be too far behind!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a general status update, so there is a bit to talk about. As far as my new assignment is concerned, things are going pretty well! I’m continuing to learning a lot about the DoD’s budgeting and programming processes, which means I’m getting steadily less confused about what it is I’m supposed to be doing from day to day.

Gwen and the boys are doing well. William and James are now teething in earnest, with their lower front teeth being the first to emerge. Naturally, this has made them a bit crankier than they have been previously, but we’ve been able to keep it mostly under control for them with teething rings and topical anesthetics (and no, that is not a code name for whiskey!). We are going to be getting them baptized soon, as well, probably on Easter Sunday at Immanuel Anglican Church, where Gwen and I have been attending services since moving to Virginia.

For hobbies, I’ve mostly been working on getting models painted for Adepticon, playing tabletop games once or twice a month, and playing the odd video game when the time permits. I’ve found that after all is said and done, and the boys are settled down for the evening, I generally have time to do one activity. Here lately, that activity has been modeling for my miniatures gaming hobby. I’ll probably be shifting back towards video games in the near future, though. I’m feeling the itch to play more World of Warships, plus there is a new Battlefleet Gothic video game on the horizon

I think that about does it for now! Coming up shortly, you can expect at least one more Star Trek-related post, as well as a few more Adepticon related posts. The show is only a few weeks away, and I’m getting really excited about it!

Proceeding deep…

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Star Trek Movies: My Ranking

enterprise-destruction-startrekiiiStar Trek in my mind has always been best suited for the episodic television format it was created for. However, Hollywood being Hollywood, there is no way that could be left alone. Oh no! Instead, Star Trek has found its way onto the big screen no less than 12 times, with lucky number 13 on the way in July. 6 of these movies were with the original TOS cast, 4 were with the TNG crew, and of course the last 2 are the JJ Abrams reboot of the franchise. With this much material, it is only natural that we have something of a mixed bag; some of these movies are great, some are so-so, and some are quite bad. So, without further ado, here is my list, starting from worst to best! Continue reading

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