The President says we’re soft

“This is a great great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades,” Mr. Obama said in response to a question about the country’s economic future. “We need to get back on track.” – Barack Obama,

Yep. That’s it, Mr. President.  We’re soft. We’ve lost that competitve edge. We need to get back on track.

Let’s see, business is noncompetitive… Yet, during the last two years of my professional finance career, we have been through 6 different audits from 6 different government agencies. (total dollar value found to be owed to the government? Zero). As far as finance managers go, I’m not that weird.

Wow. I wonder what value I could’ve been adding to my company during that instead of creating multiple phone book sized reconcilliations that no government employee will actually ever read. However, if I’d failed to spend hundreds of hours producing these useless documents, we’d have gotten fined and put out of business.

WARNING: I am about to go on an angry tirade about why American business is not competitive. Spare me the useless offended emails about how not all government employees are bad. Dur. Of course they’re not all bad. Many of them are truly awesome people. I’ve worked with many impressive government employees who have conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism…. But even then there are a ton of you, and you’re all up in our business too. And even if you are one of these good, solid, reliable, smart, hard working government employees, you are also probably the first to admit that many of your coworkers suck.

Ask any businessman, you’ll get the same story. Assuming you can make your way through the paperwork process to actually start your business, the fun begins and never lets up. Heaven help you if your business actually does something that might involve a committee of bureacrats somewhere, because then you get to waste lots of time begging for permission to exist.

You want employees? Get ready for the DoL. Better get your EEOC reports done on time (one of the only places left where anyone actually gives a damn what color you are). When I opened my first business, I was rather surprised to discover that I had to contact 5 different state and federal entities before I could hire my first employee. You want to actually build something? Get ready for OHSA and the EPA. The approvals alone will eat up an eternity of time you could be productive. And you’d darn well better make sure you do your quarterly filings with the IRS and your state tax commission, or they will eat you.

And every time you turn around, there is a new regulation. Since there are like twenty different agencies that can screw with you on a whim, you’d better keep up on all of them. You need to know every clause! Not that that matters in real life anyway, because I’ve personally witnessed government employees totally ignore their own regulations and jerk a business owner around, usually through laziness or apathy, because it is easier than just doing their stupid job by the book.

Remember, no actual wrong doing on your part is required. Your company pops up on a list and now you get to spend hundreds of man hours kissing butt and playing fetch the report for a bureacrat, simply to earn the right to stay in business. You can be fined or shut down, all without breaking a law.

Once upon a time, I sent in a mandatory report to a federal agency (which shall remain nameless, because I may have to deal with them again and I know they’ve got at least one spiteful bastard on the payroll). We were in full compliance with the law. The numbers where what they were.

The federal employee did the math wrong when he entered it into the database. We received a warning and were threatened with a huge penalty. It took me (literally) six seconds to see what he had entered wrong. I explained it, and had to reexplain it, and reexplain it, and even sent color coded spreadsheets over, and for the next TWO MONTHS had a terrible penalty hanging over my head…

Because this bureacrat had made a mistake, KNEW he had made a mistake, but it was too much work for him to go back and fix his mistake… In the end there were multiple levels of government supervisors involved, lawyers and independant experts confirmed I was right all along, and still he was grasping at straws to somehow prove that we were in fact wrong, and he was right the whole time (because he had already said so to his manager, who also couldn’t be bother to actually look at the report). This went on and on, with various new odd ball ideas popping up to show how I had to be in violation (because he’d already said so, and it is really hard for him to go back and change that) up to and including accusing me of fraud.

The fraud one really got my goat, because he sent over this gigantic e-mail about “OMG why don’t these numbers match!!!” This one took me literally, and I’m not joking, 16 seconds to figure out what he was doing wrong, and we’re talking some basic Accounting 101 level, are you f’ing kidding me, level math.

Finally after hundreds of man hours of very expensive per hour dicking around, we got it all cleared up, “Oh… Yeah, I guess I did put that in the wrong column to begin with… Sorry. Oh, but since you showed up on the poopy list, next quarter you have to fill out this super gigantic poopy list paperwork that is totally mandatory.”

But at least I never had to deal with that employee again… Because he got promoted.  

Yes, Mr. President, it must just be becasue America is soft.

Let’s see… We’ve lost our competitive edge… Even though Canada’s unemployement is lower than ours because they are actually tapping their natural resources instead of throwing billions of dollars at mythical green energy projects. In the same time period my little company got audited half a dozen times and passed, Solyndra got audited once by Price Waterhouse, failed miserably, and got half a BILLION bucks. One of these things is not like the other.  Maybe we need to start building solar panels, (or donating money and photo ops to the president).

Ken Salazar put thousands of men out of work in eastern Utah with the stroke of a pen. Then they did the same thing in the gulf. Now Canadians are having to hire Americans to fill all their many job openings. Think about that… Canada. Friggin’ Canada is kicking our asses! They were all like, “Hey, we’re all out of jobs, eh? But under our feet is stuff worth money. Maybe we should dig it up and sell it, eh?”

But we can’t do that, because global warming or something. Let’s see, liberals are the scientific ones–they are always quick to tell you–but their response to global warming is mandating energy products that don’t exist, cars that don’t run, and poisonous light bulbs, while we funnel billions and billions of dollars to crappy countries that don’t like us. BRILLIANT!  So, assuming that you guys are totally right on the science (which you aren’t) and that the whole thing isn’t a gigantic scam–like unto eugencis back in the day–to grab up more political power (which it is), the only possible solution to this huge problem is more government control of everything?

The same politicans that have saddled us with millions of pages of regulations, suck up all our time, and harrass us with bureacrats are also in bed with the unions, an institution which made wonderful sense back in ye olde tymes of child slave labor and rat flavored sausage, but now primarily exist to take money from their employees to funnel through their very wealthy leadership to democrat politicians, in order to ensure that the guy that sweeps the floor makes at least $60,000 and has full benefits from the day he retires until he dies in thirty years.

Yes, because that is going to keep you competive, Mr. President!

Look, you’re in a union, and you think it is awesome. Whatever. We don’t live in ye olde tymes. You think your job is treating you bad or your work conditions suck? FRIGGIN’ QUIT. The whole business model of working for one company for eternity and they take care of you until you die? It doesn’t work out in real life. Quit expecting it to. And now the companies that have fallen prey to this mentality are floundering and dying, you are out of work, but your leadership is still collecting dues to donate to the same politicans that ruined everything to begin with. They don’t love you. They aren’t looking out for you. You are a statistic to be used, nothing more.

Despite all of this nonsense your kind has thrown at us, American business keeps on trudging along, being the best creator of wealth in the history of the world, and you have the audacity to say we’re soft? Everything this nation has ever accomplished has been in spite of your kind, you self-righteous academic narrcisst, not because of you.

Not just that, but you say that America is a little soft?  Does this guy look soft to you?

They don’t make soft Marines.

Maybe your golf buddies are soft, and your union thugs are soft, and your legion of academics that have never held a real job are soft, and the societal leeches that depend on the democrat’s perpetual welfare state are soft, but most Americans are not soft.

My best friend and coauthor, Mike Kupari, is deployed to Afghanistan right now. He volunteered to be an EOD tech and defuse IEDs, a stupidly dangerous job, because he is an American who is anything but soft. His first published novel, Dead Six, came out this week, but he’s too busy not being soft to be home to enjoy the fruits of his labors. 

The reaon I think of Mike right now is because I got a long email from him this morning about how depressing the news is from back home. About how everything seems to be falling apart. About how people like you seem fixated on doing everything in your power to drive us into the ground. About how your side wants us to turn into yet another failed, bankrupt, pseudo-socialist, all controlling, nanny state.

And normally I’m the optimistic one in our friendship, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything good to say. Because he was right.

I do however agree with the last line of your quote, Mr. President. “We need to get back on track.” Yes. We do need to get back on track. Luckily, we know exactly what got us off the track to begin with, politicians, regardless of party, that believe the solution to everything is more government meddling.  The first step to getting back on track is throwing you, and your ilk the hell out of office.

My Geeky Hobbies 3.5

I decided since Facebook exists primarily to log me out every thirty seconds, (just to tick me off) I should probably post the pictures here. I’ve only been doing these for a couple of months (Sunday Afternoon Anything But Writing Time), so I’ll post them in approximate order from newest first to oldest last. That way my awfulness will seem relative. :) 

All of these are characters from either Writer Nerd Game Night (which I’m going to start posting a fun serial from hereon the blog) where me and several other novelists and book reviewers get together to play Legend of the Five Rings, or from a game I’ve been running for my kids.  There is balance in all things, so by day I’m a highly paid finance professional in the evil military industrial complex, by night I’m a jet setting fancy pants bestselling action novelist, I shoot manly guns in my free time, and once a month I play imaginary magical samurai. Nobody can ever accuse me of not being diverse in my interests.

These are all 28-32mm.


 This one still needs to have the base finished, but I’m pretty pleased with how the flesh tones worked out. The figure is one of the Clan Wars from Valiant. 

the ronin Akimi

From Reaper, still need to base this one too. (well, I still need to do a lot of those, but it is easier to just do a bunch at one time). Overall, I’m happy with this one. The face turned out pretty good too.

Bayushi Kuronobu

From Perry Brothers. I’m still going to do a little detail work. The base is an experiment. I simply made a little clay square, so I’d have something to hold onto while I painted. This was my first attempt at free handing a flag. No, it doesn’t say anything. Though I have some other ones that I’m working on that it actually does, and those came out great.

Yasuki Boketsu

This picture turned out fuzzy, which is too bad because the armor on this guy turned out great. Probably the best armor I’ve done so far. From Valiant.

Yoritomo Buwa

I’m pretty pleased with this one. I still suck at blending and highlighting. From Reaper.

Otomo Yuni

For whatever reason, female faces are really hard. I’m still trying to figure those out.  From Valiant.

Rai the ronin

From Reaper. I thought this one turned out kind of boring and dark, so I gave him the meatball headband and the yin/yang on the armor, which I thought turned out pretty cool.

Tamori Fubatsu

From Valiant. Another one where the pic doesn’t do the armor justice. The wash on this one really came out pretty cool.

Misato the Forest Killer

This one was actually the head off of one figure and the body off of another, leftover from when I made Kuni Magatsu. Both from Valiant. It turned out pretty good.

Shinjo Braga

This and the next are from the old discontinued Clan Wars minis that I found at Nobleknight games. This one got a light wash.

Moto Khano

And this one got a black wash. So even though the two had the exact same paint scheme, the difference between the two is drastic when you look at them in daylight.

Ikoma Katsu

More discontinued Clan Wars. I was really happy with this one until I started dinking around with too much white at the end.

Hida Makoto

This is my guy. Notice the resemblance? Actually this was the very first one I painted. However it came out really crappy, (I had zero idea what I was doing), so this is it again after I came back and tried to touch it up. The base coat was actually done with Testors Model paint, and it just looked… gloopy.  I’m pretty happy with the touch up though, and though the camera doesn’t catch it, the cording on the armor looks awesome.

Kakita Fujo

Another early attempt with clumpy model paint, that I then went back and redid with a lighter paint scheme. (using Reaper paints now) when Steve brought a new character into the game. This redo didn’t work as well as the Makoto, but overall looked much better than the original.

Kuni Magatsu

My first attempt at modding. This head came off one figure and the body off of another. Paul Genesse has a very specific (and unsettling) character and none of the existing ones really seemed to fit. The kabuki face actually looks pretty sweet in person.

Kakita Chiyoko

From Valiant. This one came out pretty good, but the face seems a little flat. I may go back and try to redo it with some more color.

Fosuta Zuko

Another one of the originals that I did with crappy model paint, and then revisited with a better paint job. And yes, that is supposed to be an eye patch and scars. 

Kitsuki Tsuze

I do believe these were the first eye balls I did that didn’t totally suck. Though if you look at him from the front he’s got a bit of a lazy eye thing going on. That’s okay. It gives him character. (or so I tell myself)

Shoshuro Kage

From Reaper. Painted because one of my daughters wanted a ninja girl. Luckily we actually added one to the Writer Nerd Game Night campaign afterwards.  Looking back, I used too much flat black (but it is a ninja, I know!) and so there just wasn’t enough contrast. That’s okay, I’ve got a couple more ninjas since to experiment with.

Tsurchi Machio

From the discontinued Clan Wars. The eyes are too cartoony and I used too much black to highlight.

Hida O-Hinku

My oldest daughter’s first exposure to tabletop RPGs was when she got to be a “special guest star” during Writer Nerd Game Night. Of course, I couldn’t find a samurai girl with a great big ax anywhere, so I filed down a sword and glued an ax head on for her. It is pink because her ono is called Momo Iro Chou, or the Pink Butterfly, and it is that color because it has been stained by the blood and tears of a hundred generations of her family’s enemies… And yes, she made that up herself.

Ide Todo

One of my earliest attempts. The face came out a little clumpy, but that’s because he’s a well travelled man.

Tsurchi Yumi

After oldest daughter returned and reported to the other kids about how much fun she had at Writer Nerd Game Night… Correia Nerd Game Night was born. This one belongs to daughter #2. Considering I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at this point, this one still holds up well.

Toritaka Iabuchi

Togashi Jibbo

My son’s first character. Of course he wanted a tattoed Dragon monk, (imagine the Hulk crossed with Spiderman only with flaming death fists and you can see the appeal for my son) and the (very specifically requested) tattoos just came out as black lumps.

I’ve got a ton more of these at home. Basically I’ve picked up a package or two from every manufacturer of samurai type miniatures on the market. I’m trying really hard to make Sunday a day of rest, (which as a workaholic is a whole lot harder to do than it sounds), so Sunday afternoon is now arts and crafts time. The kids have joined in, and they are learning to paint along with me. Luckily, Old Glory has figures that cost about a buck a pop.

My Geeky Hobbies Part III  This is what I do on Sunday afternoons. 

I’ve only been painting minis for a few months now, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m not embarrassed to post them on the internet. Though they aren’t shown in order in the linked photo album, it is pretty obvious which ones I did earlier on.

My painting skills have gotten much better since I’ve started, which means that I’m looking forward to trying my hand at another run of custom MHI action figures. I’m really excited that there is going to be a new GI Joe movie. Not because I want to see it. (didn’t even watch the first one) but rather because that means there will be more new toys to chop up for me to make more Monster Hunters!

DEAD SIX is out today!

Today is the offical release date for Dead Six. It will be in stores everywhere. So head down to your local bookmongery and pick it up.  This was my first foray into writing a military thriller, but it came out epic.

So please tell your friends!

The only autographed copies available are from Uncle Hugos (it is hard to do booksignings when your coauthor is in Afghanistan). Otherwise it should be available at most major bookstores, Amazon, or B&N.

So if you’re going to buy it, buy it this week. The more people who buy it the week it comes out, the better the stat boost. And as you guys know, I’m all about gaming the system.  If you like it, please post reviews. If you don’t like it… Well, nobody wants to hear your negativity. :)

I’ve read a lot of thrillers, but I don’t enjoy very many thrillers. The main character (Rick Slabarm or Dirk Hardcheese) is usually a former Navy SEAL-Astronaut-Secret Service Agent-Ninja, who kicks unbelievable butt, gets the hot chick(s), defeats the Belgian terrorists, and saves the president right from being fed into a vat of laser-sharks. Normally, most thrillers tend to tick me off for various reasons. If it is technically competant or realistic the characters are sometimes made of wood. If it is really technically competant, it can be like reading a physics lecture. If the characters are interesting, then it is usually less realistic than what I would put into a fantasy novel.

There are some notable exceptions. There are a few Stephen Hunter novels that I rank up there in the best books I’ve ever read.  

Mike and I wanted to have fun with Dead Six. The characters have flaws (other than the typical, I’m such a bad ass loner kung fu expert who is tormented because of the loss of my wife/children who were conveniently murdered by the same Belgian terrorists I get to fight in this novel). They aren’t perfect. They have to work with part of a team. But they are completely ruthless and they get the job done.

The plot is big. The action is big, but we kept it plausible. The tactics/equipment stuff is solid. One of my proof readers is a guy that Jack Bauer would hang out with. We did our homework. Considering that we wrote this years ago and put in the Arab Spring, a narcotrafficante revolution in Mexico, and stealth helicopters, none of which (we knew) existed at the time, I’d say we were at least semi-plausible in our brainstorming process. We took some liberties with reality, all authors do, but we tried not to make them stupid liberties. :)

So I hope you guys like it. Dead Six is pretty awesome.

And don’t take my word for it. Here are some reviews:

Son of Fire, Son of Thunder

Staff Sergeant Diego Santos

Behavioral Health Department, Main Clinic, Marine Corps Base Quantico

In two years, fifty-six days, fourteen hours, and ten minutes I will be brutally killed by a demon.

I’ve watched my own death in my dreams nearly every night since I was eight. I’m used to waking up because of teeth breaking my skin.

You might think that sounds like a tough break, but don’t shed any tears on my behalf. The rest of you poor saps have to live with doubt and worry and fear. You have to think about finding a career, marrying the right woman, raising kids, working hard, planning your retirement, getting cancer, and shit like that. Me? I know the exact minute when I’ll be ripped to bits.

Just lucky, I guess.

There’s only one downside to knowing the exact moment when your life will end horribly.

I hate when people waste my fucking time.

The psychologist had been asking me questions for fifty-two precious minutes. I’d finished telling him about kicking doors and fighting house to house in Fallujah, and one particular story where I’d shot a guy in the neck right when he was about to light me up with an AK, when the doctor asked, “And so how did that make you feel?”

How was it supposed to feel? How should a normal person answer? I did my job. How’s it supposed to feel when you do a good job? I am a United States Marine and I have been trained to close with, engage, and utterly destroy the enemy, and I am extremely good at my job. I’ve deployed to Iraq three times, Afghanistan twice. As soon as I get home I volunteer for the next open billet. Better me than anyone else, I’ve got nothing better to do to prepare myself until the appointed time, and mostly because I can’t die until I’ve fulfilled the holy mission assigned to me by Almighty God.

But that wasn’t the answer this man was looking for. He wasn’t worthy enough to understand the truth. I needed him to think that I wasn’t crazy. I had to keep the demons secret. It wasn’t time for the apocalypse yet.

“It was very frightening, sir.”

I watched the doctor’s face as he glanced down to scribble a note on his legal pad. Just write that I’m normal and quit screwing around. I’d always assumed that a psychologist’s office would have a couch for the patient to lay down on, but I just had a stuffed chair and he sat behind a desk.  He looked up at me and it was obvious he knew I was full of it. I’ve always hated lying. It’s easier to just not say anything at all than to make shit up. “I’ve read your file.”

They say that if a shrink declared a Marine sane, he’d be unfit for duty, but I had a reputation for crazy even by our standards. My last CO had decided that I must have a death wish, and that was how I’d ended up here, off to see the wizard. Mandatory Evaluation Time. “I would expect so, sir.”

“An impressive list of commendations and fitness reports, but these After Action Reports . . . A complete disregard for personal safety, placing yourself in harm’s way, not just volunteering for every dangerous assignment possible but making up new ones. There are serious worries about your stability. Did I even read that last one right? Attempting to draw sniper fire?”

“It makes them easier to spot and neutralize, sir.”

“And the most recent incident?”

I scowled. It would have been certain death for anyone else . . . I couldn’t tell him that one of the Afghans had been possessed. “An opportunity presented itself. I acted.”

“You acted alone against an entrenched, numerically superior foe, after your rifle platoon had been ordered to wait for reinforcements.” He looked me right in the eyes. “Are you trying to get yourself killed, Staff Sergeant?”

“No, sir.” My answer was completely truthful this time. I’d accepted the hour of my death. It would be blasphemous, not to mention impossible, to thwart His will.

The doctor’s Blackberry buzzed. He picked it up and read the display. Our time was up. “That’s it for today, but I want to schedule another session for tomorrow. Same time. We’ll pick up where we left off.”

More wasted time. But I was stuck here, spinning my wheels until it was decided that I wasn’t a danger to myself or the Corps. “Of course, sir.”


That is the intro to the story I have in this year’s Crimson Pact anthology. Want to read the rest?  And while you are there, Dead Six is out this week.

Here is a podcast interview with me  We had a lot of fun. These guys do a lot of gaming stuff, so I was able to bring out my inner geek. :)

Because F*** Mongolia is why!

Heh… Remember when Bush used to get torn apart by the comedy writers and punditry for every tiny gaffe?


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