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.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wanna Read a Real Life Ghost Story?

Be Careful. This is the real stuff.  I was asked to relate a ghost story for The Haunted Mansion Project. What you are about to read is absolutely true.

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The Haunted Mansion interviews: Weston Ochse, Last Man Standing (Reprinted from Morbid is as Morbid Does)

Wes on deployment in Afghanistan
Wes on deployment in Afghanistan
Weston Ochse is the author of nine novels, most recently SEAL Team 666, which both the New York Post and USA Today called Recommended Reading. His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel. He’s also had published more than a hundred short stories, many of which appeared in anthologies, magazines, peered journals, and comic books. His short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Weston holds Bachelor’s Degrees in American Literature and Chinese Studies from Excelsior College and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University. He has been to more than fifty countries and speaks Chinese with questionable authority. He blogs at http://weston-ochse.blogspot.com/.
Q: Had you ever had a paranormal experience before you came to the Haunted Mansion?
WO: Yes, several times. But the very first one is the strangest, because it involves another person, who I didn’t even know was having the same experience.
In 1975, I was living in Hackettstown, New Jersey. We lived upstairs in a two-story home that had been converted to apartments. The home was at least a hundred years old. It was on the southwest corner of the intersections of Washington Avenue and Plane Street, across from the middle school.
A lot of things occurred when I lived at this place, but the most interesting is a dream I used to have there about an entity coming to get me from the attic. I lived in the back of the second story. My parents’ room was off the landing, between the hall that led to the kitchen and my room and the doorway to the attic. I used to have terrifying nightmares that something was coming down those stairs, turning the corner and coming for me. I’ve had this dream for years. I still have it. I had it when I was 21 and in Korea. I had it when I was 40. This dream still comes to me and I still wake up terrified.
One evening, about fifteen years ago, I was with my parents. We were waxing about old times and I mentioned that house. I think I’d just had a dream the night before. My mom stopped. She looked at my dad. And she said she had almost the same dream the night before. In fact, she’s been having the same dream over and over since we lived in that house. Whenever I dream one part, she dreams the other.
Have you guessed it yet? My mother’s been the one who kept the monster from getting me all of this time. Every time I dreamed of it coming down the stairs, she dreamed of holding it off and keeping it from me. Even now, years later.
I tried to Google Map the house to get a street view of it. There isn’t one. It’s still there, though. I wonder about those other folks who lived there after us. I wonder if they had someone to keep the entity from coming to get them, like I had my mother.
Q: Did anything spooky happen to you at the Mansion?
Photograph of Wes taken by Lisa Morton.
Photograph of Wes taken by Lisa Morton.
WO: Definitely. I think I’m what they call a sensitive. We’d go into a room and I’d feel something and the K2 meter would go off. If I didn’t feel something, it wouldn’t go off.
I can just tell if a place is weird or off or something. We were once looking at houses and I wouldn’t go into one. I wouldn’t even go inside of it. The realtor started to argue, but my wife jumped in: “Do you really want to try and sell us a house my husband won’t even go in?” The realtor saw the wisdom in this.
So I felt a lot of things in the Mansion. I witnessed even more. I’ve been to both iterations of the Haunted Mansion Retreat and could probably write a book about the house, there’s so much activity.
But let me key in on only one thing: the shadow person. We were in the room Scott Browne normally stays in, the one where he was shaken awake, as witnessed by Eunice MagillRain Graves was with me. She sat on the bed and I stood. I said there was something in the bathroom. The door was halfway open and it was dark. We began to look at it. The way the door hung, there was a triangular shadow on the floor. I stared at that.
“There’s something coming,” I said. Then, after a few moments: “Look at the shadow. It’s changing.”
Sure enough, the triangular shadow—which had previously sharp edges and corners—was beginning to round. It was filling out as if more shadow was coming out of the bathroom.
“What is it?” I asked.
“It’s a shadow person,” Rain said, with the occult authority to which I’ve become accustomed.
We watched as the shadow moved from the bathroom to two feet into the room. Then it started forming upwards. I didn’t feel threatened. I’ve only felt malevolence three times in that house. All the rest was benign.
It got to knee height and I couldn’t help myself. I asked, “What do we do if it forms all the way?”
She looked at me and said, “I don’t know.”
So much for her all-knowing authority. We watched it continue to form. It wasn’t a fast process. From the start to where it got to just above the knees took ten minutes.
Then Dan Weidman opened the door to the hall and poked his head in. “What’s going on?” he asked.
And like that, the shadow person was gone. The shadow of the door was once again a triangle with sharp lines and corners.
I think the entity, whatever it was, trusted us. I think it knew we meant no harm. But when Dan came, it frightened it.
And that’s just one of the things that happened. 
Rain Graves and Wes at work in the Safe Room at the Mansion. Photograph by Sephera Giron.
Rain Graves and Wes at work in the Safe Room at the Mansion. Photograph by Sephera Giron.
Q: What inspired the pieces you wrote for the books?
WO: “Ghost Meter Blues,” the piece I wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One, was based on the idea of the K2 meter and that it can read energy. Well, what if you went to a haunted house with your wife and she came back haunted. The only way you could tell is with the meter. What if you walked down the street to see who else was haunted and discovered a lot of people were? I loved playing with those ideas and the story scared me.
“Forever Beneath the Scorpion Tree,” my piece in The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, first appeared in my collection Multiplex Fandango. It’s the story of a ghost who haunts the desert border area between the US and Mexico. She was a Chinese girl and it’s written from her point of view as a ghost who doesn’t know she’s a ghost. It’s a really haunting tale.
Q: Do you expect to come back to the next Haunted Mansion Retreat in 2015?
Q: What’s coming up for you next writing-wise?
WO: My next SEAL Team 666 novel, Age of Blood, is coming out from Thomas Dunne Books in October. I’m currently on a military deployment to Afghanistan and working on a novel for Solaris Books called Grunt Life.
Q: Thanks for being a part of this!
WO: No, thank you for having me. I am sorry it took so long.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Age of Blood Gets British Cover

Do you like the TV shows The X-Files, Fringe or Supernatural? Do you like reading books by authors Jonathan Maberry, Jim Butcher, Tom Clancy, Myke Cole, Jon F. Merz, Larry Correia, Bob Mayer, Clive Cussler, Lee Child,  Dan Brown and Joseph Nassise? Do you like the The Joe Ledger Chronicles, The Dresden Files, Monster Hunters International, Area 51, The Templar Chronicles, or The Cerberus Protocols?

According to the host of readers and reviewers of SEAL Team 666, if you like any of the above, then you'll like SEAL Team 666 and it's sequel, SEAL Team 666: Age of Blood. (I appreciate the complements of being compared to these amazing authors and their works. I don't necessarily approve of the comparisons, but I sincerely appreciate everyone's energetic appreciation for hard-working men and women of SEAL Team 666 fame.)

Check out the American and British Covers.

They're all gorgeous. I like both cover treatments of Thomas Dunne Books and Titan Books. You do have to admire the British covers for their branding, though, don't you? Plus, look how large my name is.  Always something an author likes. It looks like three of the four used the Kevin J. Anderson quote. The fourth one used a quote from Kirkus Reviews.

SEAL Team 666 is still on-sale at brick and mortars and online.

SEAL Team 666:Age of Blood is on-sale for pre-order and comes out in October. Do me a favor, if you're thinking about ordering one anyway, why not pre-ordered it from your favorite brick and mortar or online bookstore. Sales now will help me more than sales later. 

I love book covers and these are pretty awesome. Don't you think so?

Friday, August 23, 2013

6 Tricks to Eating Smaller Portions

It would be so easy to toss off a few tricks, either completely made up or culled from the internet, but then I'd lose your trust. One thing you've been counting on is my honesty, which I have shared through my current 40 pound weight loss. So I won't do what I see a lot of sites doing. Instead, I'll give you the 6 Tricks that have worked for me.

And why do we call them tricks and not strategies or tactics?

Because we have to fool our bodies and mind into believing they've had enough to eat. All the strategies in the world won't have much affect if we can't stop eating. Because the same mind which makes up the strategy is crying for more food. By now you already know the extents your imagination will go through just to rationalize why that piece of cheese cake or that double cheese burger with bacon and onion rings is something you should eat.

After all, you deserve it, right?

Yeah. Right. You just go on and keep believing that.

Or you can learn a few tricks to defeat that nasty imagination of yours. Just as a magician can stand in
front of you and with slight of hand trick your eyes into believing something ludicrous, you can trick your mind into believing it's full. In case you didn't know, magicians don't really pull rabbits out of hats. There is no magic. It's a trick.

1 - Smaller Plate. If you're at home, look at the size of your plates. Are they more like platters? Would an entire family have eaten from one 100 years ago, meaning is it platter sized? Current average plate sizes are between 10 - 13 inches. And you have to have a full plate, right? Why not buy a couple small plates and eat with those for a few weeks. Try in the 8-9 inch range.

And if you're at a buffet, use a salad plate. Sure, you might have to go back a few more times, but the time it takes you to go back and forth, plus the time it takes for you to eat, will give your stomach a chance to realize it's full.

2 - Know the spoon portions. We've already determined that you're going to fill your plate up whatever the size (this is my reverse hypnotic psychology working here). But in case you don't-- hint hint-- know the size of your serving spoons. They aren't standard, so you'll have to figure it out. Are they a quarter cup, half a cup, a full cup? This is important. When you blindly heap the food on your plate, you have the blissful ignorance of not knowing how much you eat. If you'er at all serious about your weight loss, you'll eventually decide to start keeping track of your food, if only for a little while. Actually seeing that you normall heap two cups of spagetti and a cup and a half of sauce on your plate with each helping will show you once and for all what you're really doing.

3 - Drink water first. First of all, you should be drinking between 48 and 64 ounces of water a day anyway. I know it makes you pee. But that's a good thing. You need to flush your system of its toxins, so stop fighting it. When you sit down, if you drink a full glass of water, preferably cold, it will help control your appettite. Simple. So do it.

4 - Sit back a for a few minutes halfway through. For Heaven's sake, come up for air. Halfway through your meal, why not stop eating for a few minutes. Let's say five. Five whole minutes. OH MY GOD someone will come and take your food. It might get cold. The world will end. Planets will dive into ths sun. Or, maybe, just maybe, you'll give your body enough time to realize that it's almost full already.

5 - Load up on low GI foods. This is science. Both Harvard Medical School and Nutritional Data dot Com have excellent sites and lists which explain the importance of knowing the glycemic index of foods and how to build a GI load. So what is the glycemic index? Worlds Healthiest Foods Dot Org defines it as:

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a numerical scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level. A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level. An awareness of foods' Glycemic Index can help you control your blood sugar levels, and by doing so, may help you prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, prevent insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, prevent certain cancers, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight. A substantial amount of research suggests a low GI diet provides these significant health benefits. So, it's worth taking a look at the basic principles of a low GI way of eating.

Words like cancer and diabetes scare me, so let's ignore those for a moment and concentrate on the simple-- how can I use these charts (see links)? If you have a meal with all high GI foods, you're going to digest them quickly, you'll have a sugar spike, and if unused, it will be rendered as fat. It will also make you more hungry. You want to have as many (but not all) low GI foods as you can. It takes them longer to digest making you fuller longer.

So if you're building a salad, add some chickpeas, kidney beans, peanuts and the like. These are low GI foods, which will balance many of the other high GI salad incredients. Here are some lunch ideas for low GI meals.

See? Science.

6 - Sensa or some equivelant. Speaking of science, the PHDs at Sensa have created something. If all
else fails, then you double cheat. Not only do I use the above five principles, but I also use Sensa. We bought this at Costco and it sat on the shelf for about six months. On a lark, I decided to bring it to Afghanistan. It's tasteless. I sprinkle it on the food before I eat. And I almost always end up leaving food on my plate.

FREEBEE - And here's a freebee. Always leave food on your plate. My wife was told that she had to finish her meal because there were starving kids in Africa. My mom said the same thing. My wife however, offered to box it up and mail it, which is classic. But even so, there's no way you're helping starving people by overeating. It's ridiculous. (Note to Mom who is probably reading this and getting a little irritated right now -- I am not calling you ridiculous). If you put more food on your plate than you need, then leave it there. Don't feel forced to eat it. In fact, step away a little hungry and have another glass of water. Trust me. It works. I've lost 40 pounds to prove it.

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Please Note: This article is copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law. If you'd like to borrow part of this or see it reprinted, contact me here. Thank you. © 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stress Relieving 5K

For those who haven't been following the terrible saga of my Great Dane Goblin on my Facebook and my wife's facebook then you've lived a stress free few days. He bloated and flipped his stomach and my wife almost wasn't able to make it to the dog emergency room 80 miles away. Luckily, she was in time and Goblin is great.

Last Thursday I decided to run a 5K on the treadmill on the spur of the moment. This never happens. I've never been that kind of guy. But I guess the new me is. Who knew? Well, I ran it and was thrilled for it. So thrilled I signed up for an actual 5K run here in Afghanistan on 9/11.

So today I tried to see if it wasn't just a fluke. I ended up knocking 3 minutes off my time and ran it in 39.40. I also ran the first 15 minutes without stopping. I haven't ran that far without stopping in probably 15 years.

What a stress reliever.


And my feet feel awesome.

Hooray for Toe Shoes!

(Ran wearing Five Finger Bikilas)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Personal Victories - I RAN A 5K TODAY!!!

"You look like you just got your ass kicked in the gym," were the first words this friend I work with said to me after I finished my first-ever on-purpose 5K Run today.

They were some of the nicest words anyone said to me in a long while. I said, 'Thank you," and I meant it.

Those of you who read the Ode to My Fat Boy Shoes essay know the story of my feet and shins and what the Army did to me. Even in my best shape in the last ten years, I couldn't have finished a 5K. Why? My feet would have responded with crippling pain halfway through, forcing me to stop. Seriously. I wouldn't even be breathing hard, but the bridge of my foot would feel like it was about to snap off.

No Mas Corre!
My Proud Feet - Victorious!!

My strategy outlined in the previous essay has worked. My base is much stronger. My thighs and calves have been built up through exercises like aquats, stairs, etc. DDP Yoga has strengthened my ligaments and muscles as well. Paying attention to what's holding me up paid off.

And so did my Five Finger Shoes.

I'll lay 50 bucks I couldn't have done this in regular shoes. I still wear my regular shoes to the gym sometimes and my feet start to ache in them after awhile. I absolutely think the way the Five Fingers lets my feet contact the ground helps them. I'm sitting here and my feet don't even hurt. Not even a tiny bit. It's honestly amazing.


I've had my fair share of people yell at me for slowing down or stopping over the years. I know people even now, who have always been in terrific shape, who just can't grok the sort of foot pain me and millions of other Americans experience. Just the other day one made a snide remark on Facebook about Army PT people not pulling their weight.  Note to these people-- the Army has already acknowledged they F$ucked up my feet. Want to see the check they cut me every month? Those docs didn't help one bit. It took me finally figuring it out on my own. Why not stop calling them names and start helping out. I was them and it took me helping myself because the system in place only helps those who don't really need it.

So what made me Run a 5 K today?

I started running next to a co-worker on a kilometer-metered treadmill. I walked the first two minutes, then began running. I can normally only run about 3-5 minutes at a time on the treadmill, before I have to walk for a spell. But this time I ran for 7 minutes. Then I walked for 4, then I ran for 6. Next thing I knew, I was looking at 2.9 Kilometers and I wasn't hurting. Sure, my heart rate was at 157, but that was good. So I said what the heck. Let me try it. I can always breathe hard or puke, but as long as my feet don't hurt, let me keep going.

And I sprinted the last two tenths of a kilometer.

Man do I feel great.

What's my time you say?

I knew you'd ask.

I'm sure it's not very good. At least it gives me something to work against.

So I ran it in 42:27. I ran about 65% of the time in a slow steady pace of 8 km per hour.

I think this is what I looked like
the last 2 tenths of a mile
My strategy was to run 7 min, walk 4 min, run 6 min, walk 4 min, run 5 min, walk 4 min, run 4 minutes, then ran every 2 minutes for 2 minutes to the end. Not very good, I know, but it's a place to start.

More importantly, it's the first on-purpose 5K I've ever ran in my life and my feet don't hurt.

When I reached 5K on the machine, I threw up both my hands like I'd just crossed the finish line and let out a yell.

People stared at me.

I'm used to it.

It's part of being me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ode to My Fat Boy Shoes

I’m writing this from Afghanistan. I’ve lost 40 pounds so far and am able to do all the exercises I couldn’t do just three months ago. I arrived here with my Fat Boy Shoes, and I’m not going to leave here with them. But out of respect and honor to their service, I want to compose an ode to them, for although I’m leaving them, I never want to forget them.

Here it is. (You’ll forgive me if I forgo the lyrical stanza structure and provide you just the narrative. If you just have to have something in the background, try humming either Boy George’s Karma Chameleon or Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing.)

I’ve had a love-hate affair with running shoes for years. I love shoes. I love the colors. I love the styles. I am a marketer’s dream client. But I can’t wear everything I want to wear.

Sound familiar?
My Fat Boy Shoes

Add to that the fact that my weight crept up so high that wearing those fabulous-looking running shoes made me feel like a rhinoceros trying to balance on the head of a pin. I eventually gave up on any hope of wearing the cool shoes and was forced to buy high tops, or what I call fat boy shoes. Had I been playing basketball with them, then they could have been called basketball shoes, but I don’t play basketball. I try and run. I lumber. I limp. Nope. They might have been sold as basketball shoes, but they were fat boy shoes to me.

So what happened?

Somewhere back at Fort Bragg, right in the middle of doing physical training once every morning and once every evening, I got full blown stress fractures. At the hospital, the images of my shins in the fluoroscopy looked like the San Andreas fault back when the earth was formed. They wanted me to wear crutches. They wanted me to stay off my feet. Were they crazy? I was in a Special Operations unit. I couldn’t do that.

So for the next ten years in the U.S. Army, I spent dodging more stress fractures, best friend to shin splints, and cousin to the constant pain I felt running. Now realize I was an All City hurdler in high school and a soccer player who’d caught the attention of several college coaches. So I could run. I could run really fast.

That is until Fort Bragg. It’s funny, I don’t blame Fort Bragg, because some of the best and worst times of my life occurred there. But when we talk about my feet and people ask me what happened, I always tell them Fort Bragg happened.

But what really happened has happened to a lot of us. An injury starts us on a slippery slope that ends with us years later looking back, noticing that we’d gained a ton of weight and wondering what happened. The feet and shins are tricky parts of the body. They are our platform, our base. We can’t do hardly anything without them.

And when I call it a slippery slope, I’m not kidding. Ever try and climb back up a waterslide? It can’t be done. That’s foot and shin problems for you. The longer it hurts, the less you do, the less you do, the more weight you gain, the more weight you gain, the more it hurts, the more it hurts... sound familiar yet?

Like most people, I’d get sick and tired of looking this way or the New Year would turn and I’d decide to make the change now. I’d strap on my shoes, whatever shoes I’d last been using, usually bought because they had a cool design and made me look as sleek as a cougar and go out and exercise for about a week, until my feet and shins would start to hurt, then I’d stop.

I suppose one of my problems was that my solution to getting back in shape was to run. Blame the Army for that. No. Better yet, blame Fort Bragg. I couldn’t help it. We ran everywhere. It was what we did. It was who we were. Sure, I could have done other exercises, but those hurt my feet too. So if my feet were going to hurt anyway, I might as well do the thing that lost the most weight in the shortest amount of time. Running.

My last year in the Army I met a Navy doctor at Balboa Hospital in San Diego. Bless her soul, she took one look at me, had me walk up and down the hallway for a few moments, and was able to diagnose what dozens of Army doctors had treated with a no-running profile and the admonishment to get used to the pain. She told me I was a pronator. I said, ‘Excuse me?’ Then she explained that pronation was a rotation of the foot as it struck the ground. Not only was I a pronator, but I was an over pronator. My mom was right. I always overdo everything.

In more scientific terms, according to Runner’s World, it’s explained as: As with the "normal pronation" sequence, the outside of the heel makes the initial ground contact. However, the foot rolls inward more than the ideal fifteen percent, which is called "overpronation." This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body, and shock isn't absorbed as efficiently. At the end of the gait cycle, the front of the foot pushes off the ground using mainly the big toe and second toe, which then must do all the work.  

A lot of bad stuff happens because of this. The more I weigh, the more the rotation messes with my foot, the less stable it becomes, and more bad stuff happens.

Enough of the science.

What was cool was that she was able to go to her computer, type in my problem, and tell me the exact pair of New Balance running shoes I needed. It seemed that those weren’t just random numbers on their shoes as I’d been thinking. As it turned out, the numbers referred to a certain condition each shoe was trying to fix. I took the number she gave me, went to a store, bought those shoes and never looked back.

If only that was the end of the story. Gosh, I love happy endings.  But it wasn’t. I got the shoes. I started running and my feet felt amazing. So amazing I ran more and faster and kept doing it until, my feet started hurting.



Then I retired from the military and the Veteran’s Administration thought my feet were bad enough that they cut me a check every month. Lot of good that does my feet, though. Or my weight. I retired my cool New Balances and eventually ended up with my Fat Boy Shoes.

And that lasted ten years until recently.

So what happened?

How’d I stop the cycle?

I started to think about my feet and legs as individual parts of my body that needed to get in shape. It’s a bow change idea. I’d been thinking of them as means to an end, but they were far more important than that. I needed to build them up and get them strong before I could start any of the Fort Bragg stuff—you know—running.

When I started this leg of my journey, I was 275 pounds. I wore my Fat Boy Shoes when I exercised. I couldn’t run. Life sucked. Then I discovered no-impact exercising in the form of Diamond Dallas Page Yoga (DDP Yoga). Not only was this no impact, but I could do it barefoot. I did this for a month and lost 15 pounds (Of course I ate well, etc, but that’s another article.). Then I lost another five pounds and began to run as daintily as a 255 pound man can on a treadmill, terrified and afraid that I might hurt my feet again and start the vicious cycle all over. And low and behold, my feet started to ache.

Instead of driving on or quitting, like I normally did, I tried something new. I looked at my legs and thought that I needed to make them stronger, especially the muscles around my knees. DDP Yoga was doing this, but I wanted something else, so I began working out on the stairmaster or some version of it. The burn, the burn, the burn. My god did my legs burn. But it was a good burn.

About this time I began to research Vibram Five Finger Shoes. I read how they were made for natural runners, the type who pronated. Hey! That’s me? So I ordered some Five Finger Bikilas, they arrived in the mail, and I proceeded to walk around like a human platypus. Even the walls laughed at me.

But I got used to them. I began to do stairmaster in them. I began to run in them. And miracle of miracles, I was faster and stronger than in my Fat Boy Shoes. They hurt after awhile, but it was a different sort of hurt, one that I’d learned was part of breaking these special weird shoes in.

I began doing Kettle Get Ups, which entail laying on your back with your hand holding a kettle bell straight in the air as if you were the Statue of Liberty, then standing straight up, then laying back down. These helped my legs and my core.

I began doing burpees, which begins from the standing position, you drop and do a push up and stand back up again. These helped my legs and my core.

And I began doing spinning, which entails riding a stationary bicycle with a few dozen others, while music is blaring, a man in spandex is screaming at you, and you legs are burning so much that you think they are on fire. These also helped my legs and my core.

I sent home for my running shoes. I can wear them now. They feel good. I switch off between my shoes and my toe shoes. I love the feeling of both. Switching off for me works right now. I’m not sure if I’ll ever stick with one or the other. Right now, I don’t have to. I love them both.

The one thing that I do know is that my legs are stronger. My feet have been taken care of. And now I’ve lost 40 pounds. I’m going to lose another 10 most definitely. Hopefully 20 more. Whatever happens happens. This is all part of my self-improvement program.

I no longer feel like I’m on the waterslide trying to climb back up. I no longer feel stuck in a cycle. This is good. I couldn’t have started this journey without my Fat Boy Shoes. But like most training wheels, you reach a point where you don’t need them anymore.

So if you’re in Afghanistan and you see a kid wearing my old Fat Boy Shoes, give him a wave. My guess is he saw them and thought, hey, these are cool, they’ll make me run fast like a cougar.
 * * *

Please Note: This article is copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law. If you'd like to borrow part of this or see it reprinted, contact me here. Thank you. © 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Military eBooks - Weston Ochse Military Fiction

Sitting in Afghanistan and decided to put together all of my military fiction together.

They range from .99 cents to 10 bucks. Personally, I think you should get all five, but then I'm biased. Click on one and see what you think.

Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry, Kevin J. Anderson, Andrew Vachss, Tom Piccirilli, Dani Kollin, Conrad Williams and Rocky Wood can't all be wrong. Okay, maybe they could, but not this time.

And don't forget that eBooks make great gifts.

__   ___   __

Praise for Weston Ochse:

“Weston Ochse is one of the best authors of our generation.” - Brian Keene, Author of Ghoul and The Rising

“Weston Ochse is a mercurial writer, one of those depressingly talented people who are good at whatever they turn their hand to”-Conrad Williams, August Derleth and International Horror Guild Award Winner

“Weston Ochse is perhaps the fiercest and most direct of the latest generation of dark fiction writers.” Rocky Wood , author of Stephen King: A Literary Companion.

“Weston Ochse is to horror what Bradbury is to science fiction -- an artist whose craft, stories and voice are so distinct and mesmerizing that you can't help but be enthralled.” - Dani Kollin, Prometheus Award-winning author of The Unincorporated Man

“Brilliantly rendered. What was so impressive about the piece was that I did not doubt the incredible heroism of the protagonist... nor his motivation." - Andrew Vachss on “Family Man”

“Ochse succeeds in creating a complex plot that casts a brutal overwhelming spell.” - International Thriller Award winner Tom Piccirilli on Scarecrow Gods

Raves for SEAL Team 666:

"SEAL TEAM 666 is like X-Files written by Tom Clancy: ingenious, creepy, and entertaining." - Kevin J. Anderson, #1 international bestselling author of DEATH WARMED OVER

"SEAL TEAM 666 is a wild blend of nail-biting thriller action and out-of-the shadows horror. This is the supernatural thriller at its most dynamic. Perfect!" -Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of DEAD OF NIGHT and THE KING OF PLAGUES

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pass the Blanking Potatoes or The Things Soldiers Say

Pass the Blanking Potatoes or Stupid Things Soldiers Say
There’s a scene in the movie Hamburger Hill that rings so true, I can’t help but remember it every time I hear someone say pass the potatoes. Usually at Thanksgiving or Christmas, someone will say it and I’ll smile privately, remembering the actor Michael Boatman who played the part of Private

Motown telling a story about how he went home and couldn’t keep from acting like a jerk. To set up the scene, Motown is trying to convince one of the other men who is a short timer that he isn’t ready to go home. Motown is trying to explain that the military changes you, it indoctrinates you, it makes you do things for a reason that have no place at home… and sometimes there’s no reason at all for it. So he’s talking to the man and telling about how he went home on leave.
 Motown: I smile at my Mamma. Great meal, Ma. Would you please pass the fucking potatoes? The ham is fucking A, Ma. You don't know how... how fucking great it is to be home. How you going to act, huh?
 The scene is silent for a few long moments as each one of the men imagines how they’d act. You can almost see it in their eyes as they all realize that they’d probably act the same. And it embarrasses them. In fact, they’d rather be at war.
I remember this scene so well because I did the same thing. It was 1986 and I had just returned from my first duty assignment and a year in Korea. I hadn’t been home for more than 14 months and I was on leave between duty stations. I can see it in complete and utter horrifying clarity in my mind’s eye as if it were yesterday, there I was, sitting at the dining room table at our (then) home in Ooltewah, Tennessee, with my little brother, my mom and my dad. I don’t know what I’m eating. Hell, even then I’m not sure I knew what I was eating. It was probably potatoes. I was so delirious to be in the Land of the Big PX and home and with family that I forgot absolutely everything about decorum and the way a person should act. I was telling a story which revolved around several Korean hookers, a drunk soldier and a Kimche House and I was dropping A-bombs and F-bombs like a cellblock of felons doing life without parole. I can picture my mother and father glancing at each other several times as I was talking and shoveling in the food. I can also picture my little brother staring at me as if I was the greatest, bestest, foulest mouth he had ever seen and he wanted to grow up and be just like me.
It’s one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve ever been cursed to remember.
Would you please pass the blanking potatoes, ma?
I’m of the impression that soldiers should come with warning labels. One should be WARNING- WORDS COMING OF THIS MOUTH WILL BE OFFENSIVE AND INAPPROPRIATE.
On my way into Kabul for the first time, my friend, a sergeant major, was giving me a tour. “They’re building a Hilton there,” he says.
Channeling Nostradamus and Bobcat Gothwait our driver shouts, “Shit’s going to get blowed the fuck up.” 
We were in Afghanistan and we laughed and nodded like it was Solomon himself levying prophecy, but anywhere else the words wouldn’t be even remotely hilarious. Hell, even rereading them they’re funny to me, but then I’m an old soldier. The absolutely profane idea that a building getting blown up being funny is clearly a coping mechanism. What makes it okay to laugh at is that the builders should have known better than to give the insurgents such a tasty target.
But is it really okay?
Not in real life.
But then war isn’t real life either.
Here’s a statistic. According to the New York Times at any given time during the last decade less than one percent of Americans served on active duty in the military
So we’re just a sliver of the population. Real life isn’t us. We’ve separated ourself from real live and joined a reality known as the military.
Understand we have to make war not real life or else it totally messes with our head. 
But why do we talk like that?  
I’m not going to pretend to know the answer, but it has always seemed to me as a some sort of coping mechanism. The indoctrination begins at the beginning. Although things have changed and become more politically correct since I joined the military, I can remember how the desensitization campaign began my first day in Basic Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. After the drill sergeant was done cursing and fuming, and we got our heads shaved and a complete new suite of new camouflaged color clothes, we went on our first run. It was then I learned of the thing called cadence. 
Cadence is not only a tactic used by drill sergeants to help us forget we were running, but also to keep us in step. A third unspoken reason for cadence is to desensitize and prepare our young minds for things we’d never believed we’d do. 
Was it/is it on purpose? Is there a room in the basement of the Pentagon called the Global Military Desensitization Office? Or is it merely custom, maybe something we do as a measure of intellectual protection without even thinking about it? I’m sure this can be answered by someone with many more academic letters after their name. 
But for now, read these snippets of cadence. If you’re alone, say them outloud and imagine soldiers responding to these call-response cadences, shouting them as loud as they could: 
I think a version of this one was in An Officer and A Gentleman
Flying low across the trees,
Pilots doing what they please,
Dropping frags on refugees,
Napalm sticks to kids.
A yellow bird with a yellow bill
landed on my window sill
i lured it in with a crust of bread
Up jumped the monkey from the coconut grove
he was a mean mother ****er, you could tell by his clothes.
He wore a two button ditty, and a three button stitch
he was a loud mother**** and a son of a *****!
He lined a hundred women, up against the wall
and bet anyone, he could **** them all.
He ****ed 98 till his balls turn blue,
Then he backed off, jacked off, and ****ed the other two!!!
Whew!  That was a bad one. I’ve sung all of these and more. Now, looking back at it, I have to admit, I’m pretty shocked at some of the things which came out of my mouth. Knowing my mother is probably going to read this, I’m very happy she never heard me actually sing it as part of cadence, which I did, up and down the streets of Fort Jackson, Fort Gordon, Fort Carson, Fort Huachua, Fort Ord, Fort Hood and a dozen other places to include the Land of the Morning Calm.
Back before I ate that dinner at my parent’s house, my first unit in the military was a nuclear artillery unit in Korea. We wore t-shirts, hats and jackets with the words ‘Nuke ‘em til they Glow’ scrawled artfully for all to see, along with whatever graphic representations the Korean workers could stitch. We were proud young men. We loved the fact we could rain down radiation on our enemy. We were lean mean fighting machines, ready to do everything and anything to keep our way of life… anything and everything so that other people’s sons and daughters could stay at home safe.
There’s a reason fighting men and women talk like this. There’s a reason we think like this. It helps us focus. It helps us deal with the idea of killing someone.
It’s a coping mechanism.
We should just make sure we don’t do it in f*cking public or else the world might find out how absolutely bloodthirsty we really aren’t.
A Memorialization of a Young Me Being
Indoctrinated in Basic Training
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Please Note: This article is copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law. If you'd like to borrow part of this or see it reprinted, contact me here. Thank you. © 2013 

Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Worst Canned Foods for You When Deployed

First let me say you won't believe this.

But since I'm your Deployment Monkey (aka Stunt Human) and trying these things out for you, you should really listen to me. Basically, I've sacrificed my body so you don't have to. 

If I'd have bet money I would have lost because no way are these particular canned foods that unhealthy. Okay, well maybe canned meat. I knew canned meat was unhealthy. I've actually looked at the side of a can of spam before. ::shudder::

But once again, it's not the first time I've been completely mistaken.
Quality Food Being Airdropped into Country

So, one of the things I miss when being deployed is supermarkets. I've never been a serious shopper, but the food store is different. I remember going with my mother when I was a kid, forced to go, constantly in trouble for touching this, or dropping that, or touching absolutely everything within my reach. I remember summers at my grandparents and my grandma would always take me to the store with her. God forbid she leave me at home where I might accidentally shatter every piece of china she has precariously perched on every available space.

Okay. Maybe grandma had a good idea. Plus, at least I'd talk her into buying me comic books. I talked my mom into those too, and also books. I scored my first Terry Brooks at a Kroger in Tennessee because I promised I'd be a good little boy.

But then I got older. I began to buy my own food and the ingredients began to represent possibilities. I could combine this meat and that vegetable and invent a magical sauce to create fill in the blank here spectacular freaking meal.

But there are no grocery stores in Afghanistan. Correction, there probably are, but they're not something I'd be able to shop at without getting into full battle rattle, bringing along a pistol and a long gun, and escorted by an operational support team in an uparmored vehicle. Almost killing yourself to get to healthy ingredients seems to be self defeating.Of course I could try and infiltrate one of the grocery stores in a burkha, but then I hate having anything on my head and I'm afraid I'd look too much like a big-shouldered ninja.

As an alternative, many of us deployed folks depend on boxes from home or our favorite online store. I'm the same way and since we can't count on fresh ingredients still being fresh after lounging in a box on the tarmac of Bagram Air Field for a week, we have to consider other strategies.

Like canned foods.

After doing a lot of research, I was stunned to discover that many of the canned foods I like are actually unhealthy... GASP... almost deadly.

Let's talk about salt, for instance. The United States Centers for Disease Control established an upper limit of recommended intake of sodium chloride (table salt) of 2300 mg per day, but recommends that most population groups limit their intake to 1600 mg per day. So forget about the high number and focus on the low number.

Why is too much salt bad for me? You mean besides high blood pressure, kidney stones and possible osteoporosis (*)? Also because salt makes your body retain water and makes us thirsty. Why do you think bars give away salted food? They want you to buy more drinks. When you have more salt in your body it causes you to retain water, which gives you the puffy look. How hard now does your body have to work to purge it of the salt when it could just be working on getting you in better shape?

There's a reason I lost 35 pounds in three months and it was paying attention to certain foods, especially these foods. Not only paying attention, mind you, but not eating them either.

So, here we go...

Canned Peas - This hurts my heart because I love peas. In fact, we have this joke at home. I love peas and my wife hates them, but not enough that she won't eat them if I make them. So whenever I say I'm making peas, she says, 'Yeah Peas!" like a demented culinary cheerleader.

Yeah Peas! Rah Rah Sisboombah!

Now, it's been reported by multiple outlets that virtually all the nutrients are destroyed by the long and high cooking temperatures needed to preserve peas. Additionally, many of what's left is leeched out into the water/brine during it's lifetime sitting on the shelf, or waiting in a warehouse, or sitting on a flight line. Plus, let's do a little simple math even an old soldier like me can figure out. If you read the back of a common can of peas, you'll see that it indicates that the serving size is 1/2 a cup (4 ozs). Each serving size has 350 mgs of sodium. If the can is 15 ounces, which is regular can size, and then the total amount of sodium in a can of peas is 1400 mgs.

What's your recommended limit again per day? 1600 mg? Yeah. I thought so.

Canned Meats - Dear lord, you could pick any one of them, but let's just focus on the perfect 'Lonely Guy Food'- Vienna Sausages. One can has about 350 calories, which isn't so bad, unless you realize that 300 of those are from fat (*) Then of course the little sausages from the Vienna beast also have mechanically separated chicken. If you've never seen Jamie Oliver's wondrous unveiling of what this looks like, you should see it. In fact, you can see it here at no extra charge.

Had enough yet?


Then let's move on to everyone's favorite Italian food in a can:
Canned Ravioli - According to the World Cancer Fund, this is one of the foods they've placed on their list of Foods Too Dangerous for Human Consumption (*), mainly because of the overwhelming presence of sodium nitrite. So you really want to eat a food on that list? That's like getting in line where a sign reads This is the line where you will probably die but go ahead and stand here anyway you moron.

Canned Chicken Noodle Soup - 1800 mgs of sodium and it also has sodium nitrites, see above.

Can of Juice - I usually drink water. All the time. There's no booze and no fresh milk here in The Stan. I don't want the empty calories of soda. But hey? There's some juice with vegetables on the side of the can. I bet that's healthy, right?

Not so fast.

If it says fruit juices, read sugar; even if it's naturally occurring. Check this out. During a test of orange juice in a diet and no orange juice in a diet after only one week, here are the changes:

Cholesterol went from 203 to 243 (out of "healthy" range)
LDL: from 127 to 165 (also out of range)

There were also to reported values which were a surprise:

Albumin: from 4.3 to 4.9 (out of range)
Iron: from 71 to 191 (out of range, aka “into the stratosphere”)
Now I can hear you.

So what? you say. Big horking deal? you explain violently. What do I care about albumin anyway, you juice-taking-away-Deployment Monkey?  You grab me by the neck and shake me. WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT ALBUMIN?

Nothing. Don't worry about it. It's just been reported to render testosterone inert and we don't care anything about that, now do we?

But listen. I'm no expert, I just figured this out myself. I'm just your Deployment Monkey. Why listen to me? Go ahead and eat these things.

And I understand why you don't want to trust the CDC. In the movies, they have been responsible for numerous zombie plagues and have failed to stop several dozen other biological catastrophes which have destroyed the world.

I wouldn't trust them either... except I do.

Weird that I'd trust the CDC to help me eat healthy, but not protect me against a zombie attack.

I guess it's just the choices we make like NOT eating little sausages from the wild Vienna beast.

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Please Note: This article is copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law. If you'd like to borrow part of this or see it reprinted, contact me here. Thank you. © 2013