Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On the mend

On the ferry from Whidbey Island.

I've had a...cold...relationship with the ferry system here.  I'm right across the water from Seattle, and I haven't taken the ride over to visit.  Why?  I'm annoyed by ferries.  I don't like the schedule, the fees, and the fact that no one has figured out how to build a bridge over the Puget Sound.

Is it a rational, mature relationship?  Moving on...

I recently covered an Iron Chef competition at Whidbey Island.  It was a lot of fun to shoot video of the chaotic and beautiful motion that is competitive team cooking.  But more importantly:

I had to ride a ferry back.  

Washington State Ferries by Stephen J. Brown

While most passengers lounged in the warmth of the ship's interior, I stood on the bow, staring in googly-eyed wonder at the landscape.  There may be hope for this relationship after all. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Take and give

Seen through night-vision lenses aboard amphibious transport dock USS Ponce, the guided missile destroyer USS Barry fires Tomahawk cruise missiles in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted about 20 radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya's Mediterranean coast. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller.

TAKE - What you're seeing in the above photo is power projection.  It's what makes our Navy so scary.  We have the ability to quickly move to, and participate in regional conflicts all over the world, without risking our ground troops.  The photo was taken by one of my former DINFOS instructors.

It's kind of weird, looking at combat photos taken by people you know... Petty Officer Miller's a goofy guy, but he's really good at what he does.

Sailors assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown prepare relief supplies. Germantown is off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance as directed in support of Operation Tomodachi. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Geronimo C. Aquino.

 GIVE - This is the mushy stuff.  But meals can carry the same weight as missiles.  Operations like this are essential to building strong relationships with our allies, as well as presenting the military in a positive light.

An aerial view of a helicopter landing zone near an evacuee center shows a "Thank You" message in the mud deposited by a tsunami. U.S. Navy photo by Naval Aircrewman 1st Class Sean Hughes.

The photos taken by these MCs allow us to see, through the Navy's eyes, life-altering events all over the world.

Keep up the hard work guys.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In love with a Sailor (by Sarah Steinberg)

Fort Meade wedding.

There's more NPPA stuff coming, I'm waiting for sample footage from all the different people I met.  It'll be worth the wait!


I've had alot of great feedback on the Meineke post.  I have another one for you guys, this is from a different point of view.  Sarah Steinberg is married to my 'A' school buddy Kevin.  She recently took the time to write me about what her new Navy life has been like.


by Sarah Steinberg

Kevin and I have been married for a year and a half now. The wedding was planned for Sept 27th of 09. But with Kevin being a "grad and go" from boot camp we had to reschedule the wedding date. We ended up getting married on Fort Meade Army base during his first week at 'A' school on Oct 2, 2009.

In April 2010 we had a big ceremony and reception for all our friends and family to come to celebrate our marriage!

The big wedding!

But we wouldn't change a thing about the Fort Meade wedding. It was so perfect!

When we first started dating he was actually looking into the Army so I knew right away if I married him I would be a military wife. I'm so glad he chose the Navy though. :) I have many relatives that have served in the past. My uncle actually was a Chaplain in the Navy for over 20 years. I think my main concerns were more about details and things.

So far Navy life has really stretched us and pushed to be all that we can be. Moving was very hard... more the process of it. Because this is our first time being stationed somewhere it was all new to us. I had to find a housing and do all the paper work and ask lots of questions. And when people don't answer the questions you need answered you have to figure it out on your own. We had lots of that with setting up military housing! Before we moved here I had to get a house all set up for us with out ever seeing the city before. That was a challenge for sure let me tell you!

We love our house, though we live in military housing, and despite what some people say about military housing.... we LOVE IT! We have been beyond happy with it!

It is hard when Kevin is gone.

But one Navy wife told me:

"Don't settle with learning to survive when he is gone. Learn to thrive." 

That was the best advice I've had regarding time away from my husband. I've learned to embrace little things like all the girl time I get with other Navy wives. I've learned to embrace the emails I get. And the days I don't get an email from him I just stay busy. Its all about the mind set!

I know if it weren't for this lifestyle we wouldn't be who we are as a married couple. I sure thank God for the strength He gives me to push on through those long underways and times he is gone. The time apart makes you embrace the little time you have together as all the more sweeter. I think that's one thing we have learned for sure, is to embrace the little silly things when we are together. Those things that may annoy you don't annoy you anymore... you're just so happy your husband's home, nothing else matters.

I am very proud to be a Navy wife and to be married to such a loving man. That's another thing that helps me get through the weeks he is gone. He always asks how my days are through his emails. :)

I am very proud of all the Sailors and other military wives out there. It is one of the the hardest things to be apart from the one you love but what an honor to serve your country!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Higher Learning

Wray and I are in Norman, OK, for a National Press Photographers Association video conference this week.

I don't know enough adjectives to describe it. Every day, speakers share their wisdom with us. They are masters of their craft. A day here equals 6 months of college!

Wray is VERY excited to be here...

Sent from my Samsung Epic™ 4G

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Community Relations

U.S. Navy photo by MCSA Alexander Ventura.

For about the past month, I've been spending my Saturdays at comrels, or community relation events.  Every weekend, groups of motivated Sailors volunteer their time to serve the community's needs.  

This is kind of my thing.  

I really like seeing positive interaction between military and civilian groups.  I think it's important for many reasons, and it feels good to volunteer.

In the above photo, I'm interviewing a Kitsap Humane Society staff member about what it means to have the Navy out there working.  I've found that my subjects glance over at the camera lens much less if I position it further away and zoom in.  The shot is framed just above the waist, keeping the wireless microphone out of the shot.  (that little black box on her pocket)  Usually I have the person attach the mic so their shirt covers it, but I was hurrying to beat the rain. 

There is one powerful question I always ask my interviewees.  The instructors at DINFOS taught it to us.  It results in more great quotes than any other question.

"Is there anything else you'd like to add?"

It's the same almost every time.  They'll say "No, just that....[begin great quote]"

U.S. Navy photo by MCSA Alexander Ventura.

To break the ice, I ask the group if they can critique my American Idol audition song, You Light Up My Life.  No, not really...

I want the people I'm going to be shooting to know why I'm there.  I believe it shows respect that I don't just show up and tape them without ever bothering to say why.  Also, word of Drydock is spreading.  When I say their comrel will be in an upcoming episode, they warm right up.

At this particular volunteer event, Nimitz Sailors organized cages, cleaned, and built outdoor dog shelters.  These were projects that had been on hold for months.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Letter From the Fleet (by Luke Meineke)

Somewhere high over San Diego.  Photo by MC3 Marty Carey.

One of the coolest things about my Navy journey so far has been the people I've met.  Most don't apply to our military...even less excel once they're in.  An even smaller percentage wow me.  /grin  I came up through 'A' school with Luke Meineke.  He was an instant leader, a gifted writer and orator, a talented photographer, and motivated Sailor.   

If you've read my previous blog posts, you have an idea of the hit a new Sailor takes when he/she reports to a ship for the first time.  Ship life is tough.  It takes a lot of getting used to.  It saps your energy.  It takes strong character to rise above and continue the hard-charging attitude instilled in us at Fort Meade.

MC3 Meineke has written me a Letter From the Fleet from USS Carl Vinson
.  It's one of many, from all over the fleet, that I hope to present to my readers.  Read his letter, modified slightly for language, and see the effect of strong self-motivation.  Keep em coming buddy!

We are well underway.  Overall, it’s been pretty good, to be honest.  There are frustrating things, of course, but it’s been pretty damn good.  We had our frocking ceremony, and, like all ceremonies, it was way too long and the speakers were way too long-winded.  It’s cool to wear something on my uniform for a change, though.
Our media department is kicking ass, especially in the photo department.  We have some really good shooters on board, and they have been producing a ton of good stuff.  There’s a couple of guys that have me totally eclipsed.  I’m a pretty good photographer with a respectable eye, but some of their shots are humbling. 
I’m working nights and have since going underway.  I actually like it, but, again, it has positives and negatives.  I heard from someone that only 5% of the ship operates the night shift, but it still seems like a lot of people.  It is definitely quieter at night, and that suits me perfectly.  I was assigned to video from the get, and shot a couple of things.  I did a story on a fitness class where I reported the story while participating in the class.  That was fun, and pretty embarrassing.  

I’ve shot supplementary stuff, as well.  Lots of b-roll.  I covered an unrep (underway replenishment), a burial at sea, caroling on the foc’sul, the barbershop, a Hanukkah ceremony and all the Facebook shoutouts we do.  That’s me ultimately, ‘Facebook Guy.’  It really fits when you consider how I live for Facebook. 

Ram's Head Tavern in Savage, Md. ('A' school days)  Photo by the waiter.

Mainly, however, I worked my way into SITE TV … well, kind of.  Being the junior guy on video, I was tasked with writing up the weekly movie schedules.  I’m an organized guy, so I noticed that our SITE had room for improvement. So, I set about fixing it, and everyone, supervisors included, were only too happy to see the motivation.  I ended up writing a proposal for my lpo and my night supervisor laying out all the problems with SITE and how I think we should go about fixing them (read: how I was going to fix them). 

My lpo said, "cool, do it."    So, I did.  

I set about writing all the policy and procedure for our SITE TV station and just recently submitted my report and SOPs for SITE.  What I have written is now the “mother-FN standard,” (my lcpo’s words)   There’s a lesson there about documenting everything you do, using the chain of command, and seeing that the word gets passed along.  I kept plugging away, submitting and re-submitting my work, and it paid off, I believe in a big way.  I received a personal call from my lcpo about my work.  “Perfect to the letter” were his words.
The biggest frustration with working nights is it is hard to get qualifications.  A lot of what you do has to be self-motivated and it’s all self-paced.  For my 3M qual, I had to study solely on my own – I had virtually no instruction from my work center supervisor.  I knocked that test out of the park and ever since, I’ve been making noise about getting enrolled in the basic damage control class.  I have to switch to days for a week to accomplish that, and I haven’t heard anything in about a month.  F- me. 
I’ve heard rumors I’ll be moved to days shortly so that I can get my qualifications, but we’ll see. 
One thing I can say about the whole thing so far:  

No matter your imaginings, expectations or wishes, if you keep an open mind, a positive attitude and work hard and competently no matter your task, you’ll make the right impression and see the benefits in the end.  

I also recommend finding the gym with the punching bag for those absolutely sh-tty days. 
They haven’t issued me a camera, but I’ll try and hit up a co-worker to try and get you some pics.   I’ll try and call whenever I get to port.  Boy do I miss land.


Fight on MC3, and know that your day-to-day IS the good stuff...