ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Weston's February Fitness and Health Review - 2014

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So I have this expensive watch that gives me all sorts of terrific data. I'm going to begin doing monthly summaries and self analysis so I can determine how best to fine tune my workouts. My stats. 48 years old male with military service related disabilities. Doesn't smoke. Drinks wine. Lives life well.

~~~


February was a tough month. I had to travel for my job and I'm behind in my current SEAL Team 666 novel and a novella due to another publisher. Add to that a lot of personal and professional challenges, finding the time and motivation to exercise was the hardest since I returned from Afghanistan in October 2013. As it turned out, I only exercised 16 out of 28 days.

My Suunto Ambit 2S watch recorded and posted 17 total moves to Movescount.com for a total duration of 7:44 hours, total distance of 33.55 kilometers, and total caloric burn of 4443 cals.

The break down is:

  • Running Outside 4:14.22 hours
  • DDP Yoga 2:12 hours
  • Running on Treadmill 43.42 minutes
  • Circuit Training 33.09 minutes
Pathetic.

It looks like I ran a lot more than anything else, which is much different than my previous months. My Average HR was 134. Since 137 is 80% of my heart rate max, this is pretty good, but I could make it better. My average speed is 7.5 km per hour. I need to improve that.

Yoga absolutely suffered. I think with all the challenges to my time, I didn't want to commit the time, which is a terrific mistake. Those 2:12 hours were only two Yoga sessions the entire month. One on Feb 1 and one on Feb 26. The latter I did outside and it was grand. But the muscles that aren't worked by anything else are screaming at me, something that hadn't happened since July last year.



I also wasn't able to do a single spin class this month. Grrrr.

I need to recommit to yoga.

I was thinking I could just dash off a run because it's a quick burn of 400 calories and spikes my metabolism, but that's not good enough. I need Yoga. I need circuit training. It's a balance.

I also see where there were several three and one four day period where I didn't exercise at all. Shoot, I was
in Virginia Beach and ran along the Atlantic Ocean when it was 40 degrees. If I can do that, there's no excuse not to exercise more.

One highlight his month was my second ever 5K. Yvonne signed us up for the Run or Dye 5K and it was a terrific blast!!!

About weight and body composition. I've gained about 5 pounds since I returned 5 months ago, but I feel that most of that is muscle. I didn't do any weight training in Afghanistan, but I've been incorporating that into my circuit training and can see the difference.

Weight Watch:

  • March 2013    275 Pounds
  • October 2013  217 Pounds
  • March 2014     222 Pounds
  • Next Month Goal - 219 Pounds
  • Ultimate Goal - 190 Pounds


My exercise goals for next month:
  • Exercise 25 days, even if it's nothing more than a five minute Tabata
  • Balance running with Yoga and use circuit training to shock the muscles.
  • Do at least 4 Spin Classes
  • Improve running speed to 8 km per hour
  • Learn and Do the DDP Black Crow
What's the DDP Black Crow you ask?

Here's some guy doing it real cool.


Here's Diamond Dallas Page's instruction:

Finally let's talk about food.

Bacon Leek Pasta
Most of you who follow me on Facebook see me cooking fantastic dishes. And they are. But many of these are super bowls with kale and ferro, or have fish or chicken as the main ingredient, or are totally meatless. I think I had one steak last month and one plate of spare ribs. I ate no sausage of any kind except for a few pieces in the Paella I made. Eating healthy isn't hard. It's math and surprise. Math, meaning, a male my age and size burns about 2400 calories a day before exercise. I do the math and drink and eat less than that, then I can lose weight. There's a few more twists and turns, but that's really the magic. But just as you have to jumpstart your workouts by doing different things, you also need to jumpstart your eating. You need to surprise your tummy.

So I cook. I try new things all the time, but try and make them a little more healthy. The must decadent thing I made all month was Bacon Leek Pasta (Thanks Food Network Magazine). But I used a low glycemic index gluten free pasta instead of regular pasta and I also didn't use any cream at all, but instead reserved pasta water and folded it in. I also used bacon bits instead of slab bacon. How many calories a serving? 600 cals. Go back to the previous paragraph and do the math. Yep. Fun eating can be done.

I need to watch what I eat when I go out, but I've been pretty good about that. I drink a lot of water too. If it's not wine, it's water. That's it. No sugar drinks, no tea, and a coffee every morning.

So that's it, I guess.

Let me review my goals:
  • Exercise 25 days, even if it's nothing more than a five minute Tabata
  • Balance running with Yoga and use circuit training to shock the muscles.
  • Do at least 4 Spin Classes
  • Improve running speed to 8 km per hour
  • Learn and Do the DDP Black Crow
  • Lose 3 pounds

March here I come!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why I Love Being An Author Reason #239

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Why I Love Being An Author Reason #239: I get to meet other authors who have greatly affected my life.

William C. Dietz and I have been Facebook friends for several months. He and the 3500 of my closest friends chat about this or that. You know, it's Facebook and about as deep and lasting as a line of coke. But I've always been thrilled when I saw him post a comment to one of the increasingly ridiculous things I do. After all, he's someone I've read.

Then it was pointed out to me that he reviewed one of my books on Amazon. 



What the What? William C. Dietz reviewed one of MY BOOKS?


Must be a prank.

Here's what it said: In Babylon Smiles Ochse gives us an outstanding book filled with memorable characters, a terrific sense of place, and a rip roaring war story that I enjoyed immensely! Extremely well done. - William C. Dietz

So I sent him a thank you on Facebook, half expecting a response saying that it was a different William C. Dietz.

But it was him. 

And we've begun to chat.

He wants me to write more books in the Babylon Smiles universe. 

I'm seriously considering doing it.

Why is this such a big deal? You ask. 

He's just an author, you say.

TRUDAT, but he's not just an author. He's one of THE authors who wrote a book that looked like one I wanted to write. In Fayetteville, North Carolina, outside of Fort Bragg, somewhere on Yadkin Boulevard, there was a used bookstore that I used to go to. I was a broke ass sergeant with a starter wife and no money. I was in Special Ops, so we'd frequently deploy for 2 - 8 weeks at a time, anywhere in the world. So before I would leave, I'd scrape about 20 bucks together, descend on the bookstore, and come out with ten to fifteen books. This is how I scored Legion of the Damned shortly after it came out in 1993. I read it once, then turned around and read it 

again, something I've only done a few times in my life. It's interesting. I can remember the exact moment when I was sitting on the floor of the shop and pulled it off the shelf. I can also remember reading it and knowing that when I started writing, this was the sort of book I wanted to write. I read it on a drop zone in Bangladesh.


Whenever I think about this book, the red glowing eye blinks to life in my memory.

I've just read that he didn't start writing until he was 39. That wasn't too much older than me when I started writing. And he's still going strong.

I just downloaded Andromeda's Fall, which he recommended as the first book of a prequel trilogy to Legion of the Damned. I'm going to read them, then read Legion again. Hashtag-I Can't Wait To Start Reading Them!

Yep. Reason #239. I love being an author!!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Culling the Herd - The Vile Murder of a Giraffe

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On the way home from work the other day, I listened with growing alarm as Copenhagen Zoo Director Bengt Holst talked about the need to kill a giraffe. The animal wasn't sick. It wasn't in pain. All told, it was in excellent health and had many decades to live. The problem was that the giraffe had sub-standard genes and didn't fit well into the zoo's captive breeding program.

I tried to see it from the zoo's point of view. I tried to give them a fair shake. But the more I listened, the more Herr Holst's words sent shivers  down my spine.

I'd heard and read the same sentiment about another population in the 1930s and 40s-- a human population -- one in which millions were extinguished because of the idea that they were sub-standard.

When asked why the giraffe wasn't placed elsewhere, given to another zoo system, any other alternative than to kill the giraffe, conduct a public autopsy, then feed the meat to the lions, Herr Holst commented that he didn't want the giraffe sent to an un-ethical, substandard zoo or carnival or private estate.

Seriously?

What finally sent me over the edge was when Herr Holst, clearly operating from the same script Zoo spoke's man Stenbeak Bro used when he said the same words to an AP reporter-- 'I'm actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn't have had from watching a giraffe in a photo.' Then Herr Holst went on to almost gleefully say that the 'children who attended the autopsy 'were very fascinated by the wonders of a giraffe.'

 My beautiful blind Great Dane chewing on
a pillow (Photo by Yvonne Navarro)
Holst missed the point. Instead of teaching that a zoo is a safe haven for endangered species, Herr Holst has done what no other Zoo director has accomplished in my lifetime. He's indicated that zoo's are only safe havens for those animals with good genes. All others shall be euthanized. Bad genes equals murder, dismemberment, and exploitation.

As an owner of rescue Great Danes, each with genes so substandard that they were thrown away,
tried to be burned alive, and in one case, shot in the face with a shotgun, the very idea that man has the right to kill any of the creatures on this planet because we deem them as substandard, absolutely infuriates me.

This National Geographic article tries to be unbiased, but you can tell even they were shocked at the murder. One thing they do say, in closing, that certainly resonates is that 'if zoos cannot offer this to the Mariuses in their care, they will lose the public's goodwill, and will deservedly find themselves heading toward extinction.'



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mentioned in Arizona Daily Star with Ben Bova

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The Arizona Daily Star mentioned me the other day in the same breath as Ben Bova (See below, provided by Ann Ochse)

Pretty psyched to get the attention, especially with Ben Bova. He was one of the first science fiction authors I read as a child (Sorry Ben, if you are reading this. Not trying to make you feel old.) The book was Escape and was published in 1969:

Danny wasn't a bad kid at heart, but the government put Danny in prison for a long list of crimes, with no end to his sentence. He had to get back to his girl. He had to get back to Laurie. Watched over at all times by a Big Brother-like sentient computer, there was no way out of the escape-proof prison except to... Escape!

Oh, it was a great novel and set me on my path for loving to both read and write Coming of Age stories.

Now it's my turn. As my writing career becomes bigger and bigger, I have more opportunities to effect young and old readers. I wrote in a previous blog (The Privilege and Honor of Being Read), where I talk about my growing popularity and how there are so many people out there who are being influenced and entertained by my writing. This is an honor and a privilege and I recognize the trust you as readers place on me. It's a trust I cherish.

Please pre-order my new military science 
fiction novel from your local independent 
bookstore, Barnes and Nobles, or Amazon
I hope to meet many of you, my fans, at the Tucson Festival of Books, coming up in March. This is a huge event. If you are anywhere in the same time zone, consider coming out. And if you do, check my schedule, track me down, and say hi. Ask me a question. I'll chat about anything.


All the Best

Weston Ochse
Renaissance Man
Super Hero for Rent
Yakuza of the Written Word

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We All Need a Little Cadence In Our Lives

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We all need a little cadence in our lives. Not a drill sergeant standing beside you screaming into your ear, but something to moderate us, inspire us, give us time to reflect so we can become better as we live.

Let me explain. But first, to get the full effect, consider playing and listening to this video as you read. Consider it the soundtrack for your thoughts.

 
 
Walking from the parking lot to my military day job this morning, a company of U.S. Army soldiers marched by. A young troop was shouting a call response cadence. He'd call and they'd respond to the next two lines, then say the three after all on their own:

They say that in the Army, the chow is might fine;
a chicken jumped off the table and started marking time
Chorus:
Oh Lord, I wanna go
But they won't let me go
Oh Lord, I wanna go hoo-hoo-hoooome EH!

I found myself smiling as I remember singing the same cadence, both responding as a soldier in formation, and calling as a soldier leading the formation. For those of you who've not spent a lot of time around the military, such a thing must seem foreign to you. But for those of you who have spent time around or in the military, you know what I'm saying when I relate that, although those superficial words are meant to keep a unit in step, they carry with them untold gravitas. Not only do many of these cadences harken back generations, but imagine yourself as a young soldier in training singing along with the rest of your unit, your voices merging to become one. During each verse as your feet match time with the cadence, your thoughts drift to who you were, who you are now, and who you want to be.

You're not marching alone. You're marching as a unit. You're marching through history, linked by call and response cadences soldiers, marines, warrior poets, and hard men and women have sung since before the first Roman soldier stepped out of the shadows of the Italian Alps. Many of them are filled with gallows humor, lamenting the conditions with which we are forced to live. Consider this reflection on the quality of fellow female soldiers in this follow on verse to the above cadence.

They say that in the Army, the women are mighty fine. 
They look like Freddy Kruger and walk like Frankenstein! 
Chorus:
Oh Lord, I wanna go
But they won't let me go
Oh Lord, I wanna go hoo-hoo-hoooome EH!

I've heard female soldiers change female to male and laugh as they sang. Although this appears sexist, it's an equal opportunity cadence, designed to create an us vs them mentality-- us meaning unless you've experienced life in the suck, you can't really relate.

Still others are meant to inspire and indoctrinate. Consider this one, which I remember singing back when I was still a wet-behind-the-ears private.

When I get to heaven,
Saint Peter's gonna say,
How'd you earn your living boy?
How'd you earn your pay?

I reply with a whole lot of anger,
Earned my living as an Airborne Ranger.
Livin' a life of Guts and Danger.

This cadence has far more depth and carries through to civilian life. It had to do with a life well spent, or a life thrown away. Did you live with pride or did you live with regret.
If I Die In A Drop Zone is one of my favorite running cadences. I had a Sioux Indian Master Sergeant in primary leaders course when I was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, back in the 1980s who could run for days. Tall and lean, face weathered with switchblade cheeks, he'd call this cadence with a booming voice designed to cut through the clamor of battle and inspire me.


I'd run farther. 
I'd run faster. 
I'd forget my pain. 
I'd just go and go and go, trying to emulate him, trying to go as long and as hard as he could. I wouldn't always make it, especially on the runs over six and seven miles, but I was still inspired. Even now as I remember MSG Reddoor, I can't help but me in awe of the man he became and how proud he had to have been when he finally had the chance to address St. Peter.

Now I'm a military civilian. I no longer march in formation. But that doesn't mean I don't need a little cadence. Let's play a little game. Don't think of cadence in the military sense. Instead, think of it in the sense of something that mediates you. Cadence could be the halftime of your life; it could be a drum break in between your different states of being. A cadence is a meter by which you can attune your dreams and desires. Remember what I said earlier?

During each verse as your feet match time with the cadence, 
your thoughts drift to who you were, 
who you are now, 
and who you want to be.
Your cadence could be a song or poem that inspires you. It could be a work of art or the view of a particular dramatic landscape, like the foggy rock ocean near Monterey, California, or the Rocky Mountains at sunset, or the changing of the seasons in the Adirondacks. By necessity, it needs to be something that will allow you to honestly reflect and change. Because let's face it, there's one thing you don't want to live with and that's regret. 

Regret at not having done something.

Regret at not having been something.
Regret at not even trying, because you're so fearful of failure.

Regret is a poison that can spoil your life. 

So let me ask you this:


When you get to heaven,
Saint Peter's gonna say,
How'd you earn your living?
How'd you earn your pay?


I hope you'll be able to reply without regret.

But until then, consider the cadence of your life. Consider stopping and marking time a moment, listening to the universe, or a drill sergeant, or your inner calling. And heed that voice. Don't dismiss it. A billion people have been in your position but only a few have lived their lives conscious of how they are living it. Be active not reactive. Be positive not negative. Be optimistic not pessimistic.
Please pre-order my new military science 
fiction novel from your local independent 
bookstore, Barnes and Nobles, or Amazon



Live life well.

Find your cadence.

Respectfully,

Weston Ochse
Literary Stuntman
Superhero for Rent
Yakuza of the Written Word