Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Like a Good Sermon, Succinct but with Impact.


Mark Mallon is a complicated guy, a former seminarian turned unemployed blogger, who revels in sex and wrestles with diabetes. Mallon’s devotion to the precepts of Roman Catholicism make him judgmental. To be fair, he is self-aware, and thus recognizes his own foibles which are blogged in a viscerally exposed writing style he calls ‘unzipped.’ When combined with his genuine honesty, Mallon’s analysis of others is brutally blunt. Thus, his friends sense that they can never live up to his expectations.

Post Marked by Mark Trost lacks a recognizable plot arc and at times feels repetitive until the reader realizes it is a mantra, like a rosary that must be completed to fully realize its benefit. Additionally, Trost weaves Mallon’s life through first and third person narratives, and the aforementioned blog entries. The format stands as a metaphor for the book as if Trost is saying, “I am not like other writer’s... deal with it, but don’t bitch to me about it.”

The writing is Post Marked’s strongest, most enjoyable feature. Each chapter is like a well crafted sermon, succinct but with impact. They develop Mallon’s character through intimate interactions in the bedroom, on the bar stool, and on web entries where he plays the role of both penitent and confessor. Another facet central to Mallon’s life is his diabetes, but like his friends the reader may come away nonplussed by this fact.

Though Post Marked is not traditional, and is delivered through a non-traditional platform and publisher, Mallon’s journey does reach an eventual conclusion that leads the reader to hope for more books by Mark Trost.

Monday, May 7, 2012

EOD Memorial Blog via New York Times

The first Saturday in May is when the EOD community solemnly places names on the EOD Memorial of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the previous year. C.J. Chivers wrote a great piece in the New York Times about this event entitled "Remembering the Dead: New Names for a Wall that Keeps Growing"

I recommend spending a few moments to read this blog, and remember those who served to the end.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How Do I Prepare for EOD School?

Steven Watkins wrote on my facebook page :

"Hey, I just thought I'd let you know I signed my EOD contract to day. I ship October 29th. I almost lost my contract because MEPS messed up my paperwork and wrote I couldn't equalize my ears, but I easily passed the retest and swore in today. I'm very pumped up, any advice for dive school or EOD school?"

I receive this question often. I always enjoy passing on advice to those who volunteered for this challenging community. So, I've written this for Steven and for all those who may choose a career in naval diving....


As stated in Proximity, "An EOD Technician must have the brains of an engineer, the hands of a surgeon, and the courage of a martyr....when the Navy needs to place a limpet mine under an enemy ship it tasks the Navy SEALs, but to respond to such an attack – the Navy summons EOD."

Thus, you have volunteered to join one of the most elite elements in the U.S. military. So, "How to prepare?"

To be a U.S. Navy EOD Technician, one must possess physical and mental endurance. In the EOD pipeline these two traits are tested time and again to identify those who do not have the requisite aptitude needed and build upon the ability of those that do. There are steps that candidates can take to build their physical and mental endurance, to prepare themselves for EOD training and and an EOD career.

The best online resource to prepare physically for EOD is StewSmith.com . Stew is a Naval Academy graduate and former Navy SEAL. Visit his site for more details to include his books on fitness. Recognize then that EOD Techs must combine raw strength with the ability to swim and run. Too much time in the weight room may make swimming and running a challenge. Focusing too much on running may decrease muscle mass. Strive for a good balance of all three.

Additionally, EOD candidates can get a good leg up by working on their ability to swim with fins. I've written a note about this previously in a Blog post entitled, EOD Prep.

All Navy diver candidates must take the diver physical readiness test  depicted in this video. Not only is this test required to get into the Navy diving community, it is conducted several times during the curriculum. Thus, performing well on this test is an indication of relative preparedness for EOD school. I recommend taking the test with a buddy once a week. (Note: It is important when swimming to always have a buddy and/or safety observer.)

EOD school is also mentally challenging. The word "endurance" applies here as well. Academic failure is more often because the student did not put in the time than that they did not have the requisite IQ. Material is imparted to the student as a constant, rapid pace. Deciding to take one night off to go drinking often means the student is now behind when they show up to class the next day. To succeed, expect to put in for to five hours of study a night, five nights a week, for 18 months to two years.

EOD candidates get a go leg up on academics by obtaining a copy of the U.S. Navy Diving Manual. It is available online for free on several sites such as scribd.com    A waterproof hard copy is available on Amazon.com .

Again, congratulations on beginning your EOD career. You will soon find it is the best decision you ever made. HOOYA!