Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Playing with new toys

Sorry about the blogging hiatus, I’m in the process of shutting down my old laptop and getting my new one spun up and backing up everything twice. This is the first laptop that I’ve actually maxed out the RAM and it books. I’ve taken it though it’s paces and haven’t been able to find anything that really slows it down. Even when it had 2 gigs of RAM, editing a half hour movie only caused a few second pause and processing the movie? 15 minutes.

There still is a dent in my wallet but like everything, it’s a speed bump in the past since I did have the spare change sitting around. There were no loans or credit card payments to worry about.

I’ve also started of all things, water aerobics. Yes, there is a pull on this base with clean cool refreshing water. It’s a definite change of scenery being out in the desert and only a short walk away from the barracks. I didn’t know what I was missing.

Currently the weather is dusty and windy with occasional brownouts where you can’t see more then 10 feet away. Daily clean up is a necessity and I fear taking the new laptop out of the plastic bag I have it secreted in till the dust goes down.

My greatest money saving photographical purchase has been a lens filter for the Canon S3, I received the filter in the mail and originally thought, this thing is huge. It covered up the entire telescopic portion of the camera with a tube and the filter screwed on the end and gave it a larger footprint. In my head I was thinking “Oh man, when am I ever going to use this?”.

Then the first dust storm happened and the lens hood totally blocked out the dust and when I had the camera in my cargo pocket and accidentally bumped the power button, the lens wasn’t jamming against the sides of my pocket which is one of the top killers of digital cameras (broken gears and motors). Instead it would turn on, open up in it’s space then close when it timed out without me ever knowing. Don’t have to worry about scratched lenses and can take pictures in the midst of the gnarliest dust storm without the fear of my camera dying.

Other news, the real reason I haven’t blogged is because I’m suffering some serious writers block, I’d write a few lines and my thoughts would fragment. Maybe the 4 trips out to this place are getting to me? I’m up for orders in January and am still unsure of where I’m going, hopefully get a change to call my detailer tonight and be able to get an answer. Take care everyone and hope you are all safe.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Little Black Bunny of Doom

Going to war has always been a somewhat mythical experience, legends often rise up and just as many are dashed to the ground (well really, mostly just rumors and stories). One such tale I've heard over the last couple years (since 2006) as been of a black bunny who comes out at dusk and goes up to strangers and allows them to pet him. Yeah, right, in the middle of war zone with some sort of howling beasts that live in the waddee a couple hundred feet away and face it, I know that there are some very unfriendly military folk out here. This has to be one of those urban myths that they use on the new guys fresh off the plane, I'm not about to fall for it.

Well I was walking home the other night, the light was at my back and a black blur came up on my left and I froze and looked and along came a little black bunny. He hopped right up to me as friendly as can be and puts his head on my foot. And my hand without asking my brain for permission, reached down and started scratching him behind his ears like it was the most normal thing in the world.

I sat there dumb stuck as the light drained from the day and continued petting him. What do I do now? Who's going to believe me, oh, yeah, me being me, had my trusty camera in my pocket and was able to prove to the non-believers that indeed, there is a friendly black bunny that comes out to be petted in the twilight. I gave him a granola bar from my pocket and went out to share a little bit of the mystery of the bunny with the rest of my Marines. It's not often you get to prove a legend on film.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Break down.

I’ve complained about my laptop for the past year or so, battery had gone out on it, the fan was making strange sounds and it was having problems processing anything. So I cleaned out the fan, added another gig of ram and got the biggest battery they make for my model and why?

A while back, being the unit photo dude, I was asked by one of my higher ups to make up a mid deployment unit video and started putting my pictures and video footage together and ran into a snag, even with the 2 gigs of RAM from Newegg I had purchased, my computer still wasn’t cutting it. My new camera’s video footage was more then the poor thing could handle and each time I added something new, it would lock up for hours at a time which caused my brain to start melting down.

So the other day, I got fed up, walked over to the exchange and purchased a Toshiba Satellite X205-S9800 with a 512 Video Card, basically a gaming laptop 4 or 5 times faster then anything I have ever owned and paying 200 dollars more then they were selling it on Newegg because I needed it right then and there, $1449, ack! That’s more then I’ve paid for at least 6 of my vehicles and more then I’ve paid for 3 of them put together.

But man, this thing flies and I got home and found out it only cost 72 bucks to max out the RAM to 4 gigs, yup, clicked on that button too. Video editing suddenly was a somewhat pleasurable thing again, now I just need to get a bag to protect the thing when I start lugging it’s 9 and a half pound behemoth weight around. My old one is going over to my wife’s care so I can’t offer it to anybody, at least for what she does, it will work with the 2 gigs of RAM and the new double sized battery.

For now, I’m as happy as a clam, if a somewhat poorer clam and the squadron video has been completed and for those who sent me care packages, expect a copy sometime in the mail. 32 minutes of audio and visual goodness. Have a good night everyone, I have to go catch up on some zzz’s.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Head in the Sand, Eye on the Lens

Sorry about not raising it up, I’m in the middle of working on the unit midterm cruise book video and the project has taken up a rather large footprint on my brain. By virtue of being the guy behind the camera, I tend to get caught in the side jobs of putting all of the pictures I took together into a cohesive whole. It’s a little bit of pressure on me because it’s not one of those jobs someone gets trained at doing, just something I’ve picked up over time.

Each time I do a new project, I add to my skill set and gather up newer more expensive equipment but nothing can really cut the time back on looking at thousands of pictures and videos and putting them all together. I’m imagining (dreaming about a day) sometime in the future that I’ll be able gather a geeky representative from each shop and give them a class on how to make movies and let them choose and gather what footage they want to use off of the share drive and how to put it into a movie and we can go over each others work. Alas, this time it is not to be.

While personally I do take more pictures then everybody else in my unit, but there are swaths of people who I hardly ever see unless I send out an email saying that I need to give them a shot. Some of the officers rarely emerge out of their Batcaves and stalking them like paparazzi doesn’t really work. Waiting in the bushes for that ring of the Batphone to call them out, blinking in the unfamiliar bright light is just a waste of time.

Besides, the stalking thing only works in Hollywood. Out here? I’ll probably have security folks jump me and beat me with sticks till I cry for momma and drag me away in zip ties (no they don’t beat people with sticks, that’s just my overactive imagination after watching the new Rambo movie). That doesn’t raise any of my fun alarms.

Well back to my music video grind, hopefully I can get my codex’s working so my computer can stop crashing. My S-6 (IT guys), tell me that I’m wasting my talents in the medical field because I understand their world better then some of them. Who knows, maybe I’ll go down that route when I grow up.

Happy hump day everyone!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sean Dustman, Columnist?

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from an editor at the Navy Times asking me to do a column on their back page called Backtalk. I thought for a couple of days, wrote up a post and a couple of days later, submitted a very edited version of that post with some pictures. They liked it and it sounds like it will be in the next edition of both the Navy and the Marine Corps Time with a possibility of future articles. So welcome new readers to my stomping grounds and I hope you enjoy your stay.

Also if any of you want to see the official side of what is going on in my area. The 3rd Marine Air Wing (Fwd) just started a blog with all of the articles they’ve submitted from this area and some videos. They’re just stepping into the blogosphere and I told them I would pass some traffic on their way plus I’m their technical consultant. Some good stories that don’t reach the Main Stream Media.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I missed an afternoon

Last Sunday, I took most of the afternoon off and went to my room and watched SciFi channels Children of Dune in its entirety and ate sweet rice with fish sauce and crushed red chili. Basically disconnected from everything behind the comfort of my blue walls and kicked my feet up. Little did I know that outside a storm was raging, the dust had got so bad inside of my work that fire alarms were going off and there had been a classic “Mummy” style wall of dust that overtook the base prior to a rain storm but I didn’t feel or sense a thing.

When my room mate and I moved in, we turned the pink room into a fortress, insulated windows, automotive grade blue paint and almost airtight doors. When the door shuts we’re cut off from the rest of the world.

What finally did get my attention was the concrete building I lived in, started to shake from a roll of thunder and I went outside to look. Lightning, rain and darkness had covered the landscape. When I had come home at 2, there was a clear blue sky without a cloud in sight.

The next morning, I came in to people asking me if I had got some pictures and video of the dust storm moving in and was sad to say that I had totally missed it.

Also wanted to send out some words of thanks, Martin, thank you very very much for the big ticket item you purchased from my Amazon Wish List, all I can say is wow. I’ve always wanted one but never got around to buying it, don’t worry, we’ll definitely get some good use out of it. Cathy and Josh, thank you for the care packages and coffee, Troop 859, thank you for the huge box of Girl Scout cookies, I passed out all but one box which I kept for myself. Thank you for the support everyone!

I decided to hold off buying the new laptop for a little while even though the paint is coming off of the speaker covers and they’ve started to rust. I purchased a 12 cell battery and 2 gigs of RAM, which should extend the life another few months, the grinding sound from the fan finally stopped, either that bearing wore smooth of the piece of sand jammed in there fell out. Everything is backed up at least.