Monday, August 13, 2018

2015

So as 2015 began, I was still in the one man armory. Things were going well, but as said in the last post, I wanted a change, both for the reasons I listed, and because I had an 8 and a 6 year old, and I wanted to be closer to my family in case of emergency, not to mention, to be closer to them in general, we have a close relationship.

In February, even though we have our own annual trainings to go to with our respective units, all of the Company AGR's within the Battalion were required to go to the Battalion HQ's annual training. No one in HQ is required to go with any of the other companies to their respective annual trainings. This really set a lot of people off, and spoke volumes about the AO (area officer in charge) and his lack of understanding about what is important to the Soldier.

While on that annual training, I interviewed to come back to the previous position I had, teaching for the 88M MOS school at the state regimental training institute. I did the interview by telephone, and found out about a week later that I got the job. So back to the side of the state that I came from!

I luckily was able to find a house to purchase rather quickly in the same area we had lived in before, but I still had to drive back and forth for about 45 days because we couldn't close and move in until May 15th. So got a storage unit, and each day brought back a load of stuff in my little Chevy Cruze and put it into the storage unit.

Come May 15th, the kids and I came back together in a large truck we borrowed, did a ditty PCS move, and got everything into the house. Had to buy a new air conditioner right away, but oh well, those things happen. The house was really nice, a little smaller than the one we lived in when I was married, but we actually in some ways like this house better.

Not a lot changed at my old job, except now instead of being ADOS I was AGR. One new guy there, "SG" we'll call him. The job I took was for another guy who had been there long term, "BA", he took an E7 position with another unit and moved on. One noticeable factor about this particular unit, teaching this school, is that people rarely leave, and given the opportunity, if they get a chance, they come back to this unit. That speaks volumes for, not only the job itself being a great job, but also the atmosphere and people who we work with there.

Now, that being said, the E8 (Master Sergeant) in charge of the section was not the greatest. Found out shortly after coming back that they were getting set to shut our school down. And worse, it appeared that he (the E8) let's call him "ND" had done very little to promote or save the school with the powers that be. It felt, at the time, like the Commander had also really done very little to try and save the school. That was all due to change shortly... more on that in 2016.

Unfortunately, one of the instructors was non-retained during the quality retention board, and I had known him since he joined us around 2009/2010 time frame. Losing him stunk, but that's what the QRB does once in awhile, you can't really predict how the outcomes will be. Thankfully we picked up a pretty good guy who had also taught with us before to replace him.

I pretty much picked up where I left off as far as instructing, not too much had changed, a few upgrades to equipment, but everything came back to me relatively quickly. As 2015 got close to an end, I started hearing our E8 "ND" rumbling about how he'd "been in this came position for too long" and complaining about how he hadn't been promoted or moved anywhere. That culminated in him ending up being laterally moved to another E8 position, and they brought in a different E8, "WJ". WJ ended up being fantastic. He also noticed that the school was on the chopping block, and immediately set to work to try and save it.

That was pretty much where we ended up in December 2015.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

2014

So let's just take this year by year.  In 2014 I was in my "one man armory".  I had started there in August of 2012.  Normal situations for the Army National Guard have 3 full timers in an armory:  A readiness NCO, a training NCO, and a supply NCO.  Because our unit was a detachment to a larger unit, I was the only full timer in the armory.

When I took the position it was a way to get my foot in the door on the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) program, which is a very good program, especially if you have children, for health care, benefits, and retirement.  I probably didn't know exactly what I was getting into, because it was drinking hard core from the firehose, so much information coming at me.

Basically you are in charge of anywhere from 14 million to 18 million in facilities and equipment (depending on whose value sheet you are looking at), and 60 Soldiers who drill there once a month, and two weeks during the summer.  The facility itself consisted of the armory building, maintenance building, cold storage building, fenced in motor pool, along with parking lots, sidewalks, the usual. 

In the motor pool were 30 trucks with trailers, and another set of 30 trailers (the "B" trailers as they are called) in a location 50 miles from us.  The trucks were M1088 field tractors, and the trailers were M871 field trailers.  They give you a maintenance guy, which in my case was a 65 year old who didn't mind cleaning inside or riding on the mower, but you couldn't get him to weed wack if his life depended on it.

Now you may think that being in a one man armory would be boring, or ideal, but it was not either.  You basically had about 6 bosses.   You had  the readiness NCO at the larger unit who was your actual boss on paper, and wrote your evaluation reports (90 miles away), the supply sergeant who provided you with the equipment and gear for your building, vehicles, and Soldiers, you had the company clerk, who in this case was an E7 who outranked me, you had the area officer who was responsible for ALL the full timers in 5 companies for the battalion (who would lean heavily on your readiness NCO to put things in your evaluation report), you had "facilities", who you answered to for repair and upkeep of the entire area, and you had the vehicle maintenance shop foreman, who you had to answer to for all your truck issues.

On top of that, there were different groups within the Guard who would inspect the armory or request info, often times unannounced.  Environmental, physical security, asset management, even the adjutant general and his command sergeant major, all would visit from time to time.  In the building itself there was the unit recruiter, and our building also had the 1SG for recruiting for our quadrant, because he lived in the town.  But recruiting didn't interact  much with the unit itself, aside from new Soldiers, so I didn't see them much.  Often times you had one boss/group wanting you to do something, while 2 or 3 others (or more) expected you to be doing something else.  It often times was simply ridiculous. 

Personal life at the time obviously wasn't ideal, and contributed to stress, but the kids and I did well regardless.  The town itself was great.  Good farming community, the type of people I grew up around in my own hometown.  One interesting factor about the town was that there were three Subway (sandwich franchise) stores... for 6000 people.  Not sure how that works out, but they did it.

The Soldiers in the unit were great guys, especially the upper NCO's.  Our platoon sergeant was the stand-in "1st SGT", and even though 60 Soldiers would generally be the size of two platoons, he was responsible for one large platoon. He was great though, the kind of guy that could step into a room of angry people and calm everyone down to get them focused on what needed to be done. 

In a "line MTOE unit" that has regular drills/AT's, everything works in cycles.  The monthly cycle revolves around the weekend in which you have drill.  The week leading up to drill you are moving and working at about 200%, trying to get food ready, prepping for pay, trucks ready, classes and who will teach them, on and on and on.  Often times you are there till 1800.  Drill weekend itself gets even crazier, trying to fix everyone's problems all while reporting back to the larger unit. 

First one in the building an hour before anyone arrives at drill, then on Sunday  night, leaving often times 2 hours after everyone else is gone.  That's the life in a one man armory.  The 2-3 days following drill are still pretty hectic, but not near as bad the week before and drill itself.  Reports being completed, AWOL notices mailed out, setting up make up drill for those who were excused, etc. 

Then you have about 2 and a half weeks where the job is really not bad at all, in fact quite easy.  This particular armory had a very good reputation with the town, especially with our recruiter AND the 1st SGT of recruiting both being in the armory.  We had a lot of events, probably averaged between 2 and 3 a month, where the armory would be rented out. 

While I was there I also rented out a house directly behind our armory, just across the street. So that was pretty awesome, although I'd have to drop the kids off at school and/or daycare every day so I'd drive anyway.  Living that close though meant that if there were any emergencies, I was right there to handle them.  That's actually a pretty convenient thing, because, as I stated, one man armory, you are responsible for  most everything that happens there. 

By the end of 2014, I was ready for a change and started paying attention to job postings.  I stayed dedicated to my job, but knew that if the right position opened up, I would be moving on.

The Elephant In The Room

“What about the last five years man?”  I’ll get to that in future posts, maybe try a year by year basis for posting, we’ll see.  For now, I think it would be prudent to address this in as delicate a fashion as I can, mostly because a lot of online friends I’ve had over the years ask the same questions within a short period of time if I haven’t talked to them in quite a while…

"You aren't married???" No. I am single.  I have been so for 4 years (really 7+ years if I’m being realistic).  I really don’t want to dig into the entire situation.  Ending things was not my idea, and more to the point, I was blind sided when it happened in 2011.  I did not really discuss it online because at the time it did not seem appropriate.  I imagine I could blame it on “the other guy”, or how easy Facebook makes it to contact someone you shouldn’t, but those are only symptoms of a bigger issue:  Never get with someone with the idea that you can somehow save them or make them happy.  The reality is that an unhappy person who does not address their own problems WILL find a way to make their own misery your fault, and make you miserable in the process of doing so. 

"Do you guys still talk?"  No, we don’t really talk now.  Well, aside from the obvious, having two children together requires a certain amount of communication, but it is generally kept to texting, emails, and Google Calendar.  No, I am not bitter, in fact, very much the opposite.  I’m doing and feeling better than I’ve been since 2002.   I would honestly say thank you… you can align yourself with those who are anchors or sails in your life, and I didn’t realize just how stuck I was.  When you end up with someone who actually appreciates you as a person, and genuinely loves you and supports you, it is relatively easy to look back and see how one sided your previous relationship had been.  And when you look at the track record another person has after your affiliation with them has ended, and it really just reaffirms how much better off you are without them. I am polite as I would be in a business agreement with someone I have to do business with, but that I would rather have nothing to do with. Make no mistake, if it weren't for the children, I would never communicate with her. 

"What about the little ones?" I have primary custody of my two children, and they are the single most important aspect of my life.  Everything I do revolves around ensuring they feel loved, safe, and receive a quality upbringing.  Each summer we take a vacation now, about which I’ll be posting later.  

“Regrets?”  Only one.  I owe but one apology, to one person who I treated very poorly, what seems like so many years ago.  Although I somehow doubt things would have ended up working out between us, there are mature and sensible ways to find that out, that would have been far better than the flippant and foolish way I went about it.  You showed me love, I reciprocated by stabbing you in the back.  You deserved better, and thankfully it appears you ended up better.  And although you may never see this, I am sorry.  I spent a lot of time in 2011 apologizing to someone who did NOT deserve ANY apology, perhaps that was karma.  In the end you were right, just as you were so long ago. I can't go back and change anything, nor would I. I have two amazing reminders that, in spite of how crummy things were, beauty can be wrought from any situation. 

"You take no responsibility in how things ended up?"  It may be easy to see things like this, but that's not the case.  I take my responsibility for being one person in a normal marriage where two people have normal issues that nearly everyone in such a relationship deals with.  I take ZERO responsibility for torpedoing that marriage over the course of two years and then walking out on your family.  This may seem like a brutal take on this, but a long time ago I spent two years being a blubbering shell of a man, taking on fault, listening to bad counsel, and looking back, well, hindsight IS 20/20.  Not my idea, not my pursuit, not my responsibility. The most brutal truth is this:  No  matter who she was with, she would have done this.  End of story.

So, maybe answered your questions, maybe didn’t, but that’s all I have to say about it.

Greetings!

Soooo, how about that awkward intro, when you haven’t been around in just over 5 years?  It’s hard to say goodbye, right?  It is a little weird to say hello after this long too!

But, here we go, HELLO!

Oh where to begin?  When last we met I was attending a Training NCO course at PEC in Arkansas.  Well, I’m currently on another trip.  This time I’m a little further east, in ALABAMA (read that as though Forrest Gump is yelling it).  Why is this die-hard Husker fan down in such established enemy territory?  Well, I’m here for a 6 week Ground Officer Safety Course.  The flight down was interesting.  Two connecting flights, never had that on a stateside flight before.  In Washington D.C., we got stuck for about 4 hours waiting for Atlanta on a weather delay.  When we finally landed in Atlanta, I had roughly 12 minutes to make my connecting flight… from terminal A, gate 14, all the way to terminal D, gate 46 (last gate on that line).  Needless to say I ran my ass off and made it, they closed the doors 3 minutes after I boarded.  I found it humorous that the next day, I got an email reminder that my “new flight” would be at 1600 (that day), apparently they thought I hadn’t made the flight the night before.  I was really worried that my luggage did not make the flight.

On the puddle jumper we took for the roughly half hour flight to Dothan, Alabama, I noticed that Alamo was going to be closed when we arrived, leaving me to believe that I’d have no transportation to Ft. Rucker.  As we got off the flight, it was a relief to see they were still open (2 hours late, and looking rather disheveled).  I was upgraded to a blue Nissan Rogue: 


This is usually because, as the last people getting vehicles on a particular day, often times they have no economy or compacts left.  In some ways, a smaller vehicle is a little nicer for getting around in areas you haven’t driven or parking where you haven’t been, but a larger vehicle is safer and more comfortable.  At Ft. Rucker, I’m staying in a Holiday Inn Express. 
Obviously my main reason for being here is to pass this course, and it’s supposed to be relatively difficult.  With weekends off, it might be a little boring, but I can focus on the second most important reason I’m here, and that is to whip myself back into shape.  Unfortunately, Alabama ranks second to last in the nation in the “fitness” area, and looking for a running trail certainly showed that.  I had to drive 35 minutes to find a decent one yesterday.  Ended up being a dirt packed mountain bike type trail, owned by the city of Dothan.  It was a pleasant hour long run on uneven trails with lots of curves and mild elevation changes. 

“Why aren’t you running on post?”  Well, Ft. Rucker is THE safety center for the U.S. Army, and as such, the rules are absolutely stifling when it comes to doing ANYTHING here.  To run on the roads during certain hours, you must be in Army PT uniform, you must have the PT belt worn facing the correct direction across the waist, unless you have the PT jacket on, then you must wear it across your chest diagonally, if you are an officer your PT belt must be blue, if you are an NCO it must be green, if you are this, that, there…. bla bla bla… you can see how it gets rather overbearing in a hurry, I would rather just be somewhere and run on my own without  worrying that my shoes might be laced in the wrong direction, or that someone will yell at me for not wearing a traffic cone on top of my head. 

Obviously the other important part of getting back into shape is avoiding one of the main pitfalls of being away from home:  eating out.  So I spent a good amount of money on a lot of veggies and good food that I’m storing in my room.  So far so good, I have yet to eat out, sticking to the food in the room only.  I’m within just a couple hours of Pensacola, Panama Beach, Tallahassee, a lot of really cool places, so I’ve really got to be vigilant if I want to continue getting into shape.  I do want to visit some of these places but I’ll likely pack my meals to again, avoid fast food. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

We Have Rules People!! Ah, Who Cares, Do What You Want!!

Okay, this place is truly odd...

Apparently despite the fact that guidelines are put out beforehand, you can do what you want to do and they will just allow it.  For instance:

Okay, as you already know from the school packet, no one should have a flight home on Friday before 1400.  Does anyone have a flight before 1400?  

Several hands go up.

Alright, well, we can see if we can work around that, what time are your flights?

"10:30"  "10:00" "12:30"

Well, that shouldn't be a problem.  Anyone have an earlier flight?

One hand goes up "I do, 0730"

Wow, okay, we usually have testing on Friday morning, but maybe we can work around that.

Uh, WHAT? And it didn't stop there...

I'm not sure if you know, I see some of you have chewing tobacco, we don't allow that here, as this is a federal building.

But, well, I suppose if it doesn't bother the person next to you, that isn't going to be an issue.

At this point I was nearly laughing.  Here's what I expected to hear but didn't:

Make sure you aren't running along the roads marked "No Jogging", they are 35 mph roads and it is dangerous to run along them.  Unless you want to, if you really want to you can run on those roads.

We are really cracking down on drinking and driving, it is illegal and is absolutely NOT allowed on post.  The post MP's will pull you over.  If you are insistent on drinking and driving however, just let the MP's know and it should be okay.

There is a dress code here on post.  Do not wear parts of the Army PT uniform, you have to wear it as a set, or not wear it.  Unless you want to be naked, if you feel like being naked that is fine.  Just use sunscreen, unless you don't want sunscreen.  That's okay too.

Class starts at 0700.  You can miss up to 4 hours.  If you miss more than 4 hours you will likely be dismissed from the course.  Unless of course you don't want to come to class, you can stay in your room, drink and drive, or run naked on the no jogging roads, while getting set for your 6 in the morning flight on Friday.  Pretty much do whatever you want, you'll be fine.  

Oh no, what time is it?





LOL

0800? Wow!

I don't think I've ever had a military class start at 0800, what do they think they are, civilians here? Haha, not like I'll complain all that much.

I got ready this morning and was set to head over thinking it was 0700 start time but apparently I ws wrong.  The class starts at 0800.  That's cool, gives me about 30 minutes to just sit here and randomly put some thoughts to my blog.  I slept okay last night, got to sleep a little after midnite.  Lately the anxiety has started to really dissipate, which is good.  I suppose that has a lot to do with getting all the ducks in a row.  House is in process of being sold (fingers crossed), so I took another step and committed to renting a house right next to where I work.  Hooray for not having to drive 90 miles one way to get home.  Lil N' is registered for classes at Kindergarten, and excited about it.  Lil maN' is signed up for daycare.

Spoke a bit with one of my buddies last night, he wants me to go to Canada next year on a fishing trip.  I thought that sounded pretty awesome, I'm glad I have a lot of time to consider it because if it were this year there would be no way.  Financially I have so much to rebuild following the debacle of the last two years.  I don't know if I even have 2,000 left in my retirement :(  That's a far cry from where I was in 2007.   It will get better, removing certain anchors from my life is going to help so much.

I still plan to visit Machu Pichu someday, maybe I'll take the little ones, we'll see.  I want them to actually be old enough to appreciate the wonders of the world.  I think starting off with Disneyland is a good place to begin.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

First Long Trip In The Cruz!

I've had the Chevy Cruz Eco for a few months now, I take a lot of 100 mile trips (being that I'm about that far from the Omaha house when I'm at work) but I've yet to take a truly long trip.

That all changed today.  I got put in for the Training NCO course down in Arkansas, so I got everything set up last night and headed out this morning.  I didn't have to leave early, because it's about a 9 hour trip, so I left at 9 am.

Even though I had about 7/8 of a tank of gas I wanted to be completely full to see how far I could get, so I topped off before leaving, and got some hot chocolate.  On to I-80, then over to Iowa and onto I-29 south.  The first couple of hours were mostly uneventful, although I did realize today that my XM Radio was shut off, I will likely call in a couple days and barter with them for a half hour to get a highly reduced rate, considering they want an insane amount of money and all I really ever listen to are the comedy stations.

Traffic wasn't too bad considering it was a Sunday, a summertime Sunday no less.  I did take the wrong route three separate times, which was annoying but I found myself laughing, because the first time my real estate agent called, the second time it was my dad, and the third time some private call that never said anything.  Don't take phone calls while driving in an area you aren't familiar with, apparently that is something I should learn.

Arkansas... I am not sure where to start.  First off, what in the hell kind of interstate suddenly turns into a regular highway and a half mile later there is an intersection with a red light?  I checked the map, showed that we were still on an interstate, but apparently Arkansas goes by a different set of rules.

The other really unbelievable thing... it is enough to have annoying drivers who don't get out of the left lane, and Arkansas has an abundance of that, believe me.  But even worse, there had to be half a dozen of what can best be described as "erratic MPH drivers".  I generally see one or two on a long trip, but this was madness because there were literally like 6 or 7 of them in the last 2 hours of my trip.

The erratic MPH driver is the guy you come up on and he seems to speed up as you are getting closer, then finally you get around him, 5 minutes later here he comes creeping up on you and passing you.  The worst one was the last guy, about 4 times in he was creeping up on me as I came up on a truck, this time I cut him off, I'd had enough, went about 90 for a couple minutes then slowed up.  I figured that would get rid of him, and it did (doesn't always work).  What in the fuck is so hard about using cruise control???

I got into North Little Rock, and I have to say, it is a bit scary.  There seems to be a LOT of liquor stores, car washes, and churches.  Add to that, there are a whole shitload of places named Camp Robinson this and Camp Robinson that.  I was focused in on North Little Rock itself and didn't realize that the camp is actually on the very north side of town, and is quite big by comparison to all the small "Camp Robinson" named things further south.

So after I finally got that all sorted out, I got on post, found the check in building, got my room, and parked.  These are very nice rooms, much like being in a hotel. Everyone tells me that this is like a vacation, and from the camp itself, I can see that, very nice in every way, however, you have to go a ways outside of North Little Rock to find anything nice, it's a real dump out there.  Apparently some of the people have been here before and they are going to take me out on the town, that should be a lot of fun.

Trying to keep my mind off all I have to do at home right now, because I can't do much with it anyway.  The buyers are wondering about the stains on the ceiling, the same stains the real estate agent said "Oh don't worry about it" when I said I'd painted them but the color was off.  Now that same real estate agent is making a big deal out of it *sigh*.  Oh well.  The roof being fixed and windows having been recaulked should fix all of that.

So, for now, watching a so so Gladiator type movie (not Gladiator, something else) on one of the HBO channels (yah, HBO on post? Wow!).  Talked to the kids for about 2 minutes, but they were playing a new game on the IPad, said they'd call me back, it's 10:30 now, not happening haha.  That's okay, they will be in our new house shortly, I'm so excited about it.  I just hope I can make the finances hold out until then.

Oh, and one parting shot before I go...

I'm really not sure if this is a good way to be transporting horses, but I guess if you lack a horse trailer:







These are some of the best trained horses I have ever seen, it is good they are strapped down though so they don't jump off.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dippin' Dots

There is a single Dippin' Dots store in Omaha, maybe the only one in Nebraska.  Not sure were Lil N' heard about Dippin' Dots, but we made our way there yesterday.  She was one ecstatic camper, munching away on her cotton candy flavored ice cream. 

Then Lil maN' proceeded to drop a hellacious dump... lovely, with no spare diapers.  Needless to say we didn't stay at the the mall long.

Anyways, the girl finally got the Dippin' Dots and I'd say she was every bit as satisfied as she thought she'd be.

Friday, July 26, 2013

One Hit Wonders

"She's one in a million girl, she's a beauty!!"

The Tubes... interestingly enough I thought this was Warrant, for probably 10 years, until I was corrected on the issue.

Either way I've always loved this song.

It just happens to be on right now.

Hindsight, Use It






And when you don't learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

SORE!

Started working out on Monday, and I've done so every day since.  Today I am feeling it really bad.  I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, I think that has something to do with it heh heh.

I'm going to be pushing very hard to get down to 178 in the next month and a half, I might try and run the marathon in Omaha if I do.  At the very least I want to be at like 190 by the time we do our PT test at the beginning of September. 

As I look back at this blog over the last 10 years since I started it, I'd say I've probably got a dozen different posts about losing weight, some successful, some not, let's hope this time it is :D

Here It Comes

Looks like we are about to get a pounding!

And even as I load this up, there is torrential rain coming down.  I can only hope this gets to Omaha so the lawn there can get a little moisture.

And, in related news:

When you are driving along, one of the things that can scare you so bad you nearly jerk the wheel and wreck your car is when your child starts screaming like crazy from the back seat unexpectedly, at the top of her lungs...

"Oh!!! OHHHHHH!!!! DADDY DADDY DADDY!!!"

And I'm trying to catch my bearings, and figure out just exactly what is going on?

"LOOK, LOOK DADDY, there's a RAINBOW!!"

And sure enough... 


Your children seeing their first rainbow is actually pretty memorable.  Plus you get to listen to some very funny comments for the few minutes following the sighting...

"I don't think that is a full rainbow, I see red, and blue, and yellow, and green, but there are a lot of colors that I don't see"

"You can't sit on a rainbow, I don't know if you can feel it or not"

"If you drive under the rainbow your car will be full of the colors, but you have to be careful!!!"

I wish I remembered more of them, they were both being hilarious with their discussion.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Relief...

Or at least, a bit of it. 

Paying for an empty house is not fun, especially when you can't really move in anywhere until you get the house sold. 

It has been on the market for about a month and a half, which isn't bad, but I'm hard pressed because I need to get my children into school, and right now I don't have a place to live in the town I work in.  So, that being said, the call yesterday to say that we have a tentative buyer is great news.  With a little bad news unfortunately.  But, this bad news I was expecting, when you sell a house that you've bought/refinanced in the last 5 years you are more than likely going to take a hit every time, and I refinanced 3 years ago.

So once all is said and done, I'm probably going to be paying about 4K out of pocket.  When you are paying 1500 a month though, that means in about 3 months you can equalize the loss.  I'm looking at a 60K house near where I work, it isn't much but it's a place to get started again, and it is right by a park and tennis courts and baseball field too, so that would be fantastic for the kids.

I just hope the house sells, after that it's balls to the wall to move on, and my kids and I can be a family again.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy 8th Anniversary

I got a gift... Chad got me a cupcake with a candle in it.  See? Recruiters can be nice to people after they get into the military :) 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ch.. ch... ch... ch... CHANGES!!!

As Mr. Bowie would say.  I felt the military theme was okay but with the current situation in my life I decided it is time to update my blog some.  Oh don't worry, I'm still a somewhat disgruntled NCO, but I wanted something a little less military, a little more artsy look.  I'll be trying to post more (yes, I only say this how often) as I am not on Facebook and will likely never go back to that steaming pile of shit website. 

Come back now and then and you'll see something new!

Logs Logs and More Logs

It has been a long time since I was on a traditional annual training with my Army guard unit.  I believe the last one was 2002.  Oh I went on several A.T.'s between 2002 and 2005 before my deployment to Iraq, but they were with a unit that did a specific type of A.T. that could hardly be called traditional.  Then when i got back from my deployment in 2006, I spent 3 months with belly in California, moved back to Nebraska, I don't remember if we did one more of those "non traditional" A.T.'s (as I say "non-trad" I think of a bunch of older Soldiers asking a bunch of questions that piss the rest of the platoon off haha).

Then I took a full time military gig with the regional training institute here, teaching truck driving, and 4 years later (wow that went fast!) I had a job as the training NCO for a transportation company.  So here we are, 2 weeks in beautiful South Dakota.  The trip up, as expected, was scenic:






Then we got to drive pretty close to Chimney Rock, I can't remember if I've ever been out here before, a photo, as I have always said about so many things, does not do this justice:




A trip that takes about 9 hours in a typical car (let's call it 12 hours with kids haha) takes 2 days when you are going up with like 100 vehicles in 6 separate convoys for two units.

I was in Rapid City last month for a VERY boring fiscal law 3 days class, but this time around we are participating in Golden Coyote, and we are camping out in the woods, it is absolutely beautiful.  I am doing my best to enjoy everything, but it is not easy.  Faced with the inevitable situations going on at "home" (not really knowing what home IS, that's one of those situations) tends to weigh heavy on my heart.

My first night here I laid on my bunk outside the tent for awhile, just enjoying the light breeze and the smell of the forest (oddly it had a strange italian seasoning smell along with pine, not sure what that was all about).  I noticed how wonderful the stars looked, and it took me back to two places.... 1) Iraq on Route Tampa one night, when the stars in the sky were so incredibly bright and clear, which reminded me in turn of 2) my first night with belly, camping out under the stars in the back of the pickup, a night where stars never looked so bright, so impressive.

Oh, I'm enjoying the trip, even though I smashed my fingers pretty good loading up wood yesterday.  Apparently announcing "Okay, drop on the count of three" means "Ready, set, One.. *drop*" and let's mash fraNk's hand all up heh heh.  Of course I walked around the front of the truck and pretended it did not hurt, one guy followed me around and "Are you okay?  Hey, that looked like it caught your hand... Are you alright?  Everything okay?" finally I raised one finger and gave him a look, the "please stfu and give me a minute" look haha.



So each day we fill up 12 loads of lumber and away we go, to drop them off so the other platoon can deliver them to a drop off site that is apparently like 6 hours away.  Then we come back at night, eat, wind down, go to sleep, repeat.

Today, I did not go on the mission because my hand is a little iffy, plus I have paperwork I have to get done for the unit, oh joy, how fun that will be!!!

We have another 8 days and we'll be done with A.T. 2013 then back home.

Hmm, home, again, a novel concept for me I guess.  What is home?  It certainly isn't where the wife and kids are at right now.  It isn't the dream house we purchased together, which sits empty now waiting on  (hopefully) a loving family to purchase.  It isn't the storage unit where all of my stuff sits.  It isn't my parent's house, although as always they have been excessively accommodating in wanting to take care of me and the children.  About the closest thing I have to a home right now is the armory I work in, I imagine.  I hate staying there but until that house sells I'm really screwed.  I really do love the house, it is very hard to sell it.  

I really miss my best friend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Things Lil N' Says

Both of them are in the upstairs bathroom drinking water...

"God, (Lil maN') you smell like Spaghettio's and beef, it makes me want to throw up"

Maybe it's just late, but that made me laugh.  I have no idea why they are both up, they were sleeping for more than 3 hours prior to this.

It also seems as though Lil maN' will laugh at about anything... as something really dorky has him laughing hysterically in the bathroom, I thought for a moment that someone was tickling him, but no, he's by himself in there now rambling and singing Shinedown then laughing. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

@*#($&(*&@#$?????

I've had some messed up days, but this one truly took the cake in terms of sheer mind numbing technological irritation.

Let me set the stage:  Ever since I purchased this computer, I get a log in message whenever I reboot or turn the computer on "Would you like to create your system recovery disc now?" which I have generally (or stupidly, as you might see it) ignored/avoided. 

Well, today I had a DVD, so I thought I'd finally get that done.  Followed the instructions implicitly, inserted the DVD into the player, and rebooted. 

Nothing

Monitors were not working at all, sounded like the computer itself was.  So on a hunch, I removed my aftermarket graphics card, hooked the monitor to the one old port, and voila, she restarted. 

Then I couldn't get the mouse to work, Ohhh yah, they don't tell you this, you need to install the mouse into the uppermost USB port, like the "natural" spot when you first buy a computer, they would tell you to put that USB port somewhere right outside there.  So I then got the computer back up and running...

GONE

All my files, photos, paperwork, everything just POOF disappeared.  So I've purchased a program that is supposed to be able to recover as many of them as it can, we'll see. 

I was about as frustrated today as I've ever been... phone was acting up, not taking calls, or being impossible to input data without a 30 second lag.  Oh well, glad that's over.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lil' Vader?

I had some people asking me about the "new" car I purchased.  Thought I'd do a post quick to cover this. 

I really liked the Buick, it was without a doubt the nicest car for a long trip that I've ever owned.  Don't get me wrong, I'll always prefer the SRT-4 in terms of "fun" value, but there is something to be said for luxury.  But, the monthly payment, and the 21.5 mpg average were really starting to kick my butt.

I looked around online at Camry's and Accords, but their gas mileage wasn't all that great either, and the dealers wanted an arm and a leg for them.  Then someone mentioned the Chevy Cruze Eco to me.   So I went online to search for them and research them too.  I have always liked the looks of the Cruzes, ever since I saw one while at Camp Parks in California for a military school.  I figured I'd get a manual, because they get about 5 mpg higher than the automatics do. 

The first one I found in the Omaha area was a red one, then a burgundy one, both of them being out of the question, as I don't feel the need to MAKE myself look fast.  Then, at Plaza Buick here in Omaha, there was a black one, it was an automatic, but still I wanted to take it for a spin.  The car has a 1.4L turbo, which seems so piddly reading about it, but the car has surprising get up and go.  The main complaints about the car online are "loud tires" and "aggressive shift patterns".  Well I don't know too many cars with louder tires than an SRT-4 (the KDW2's aggressive tread pattern tends to do that) and God knows the truck transmission in that thing shifts hard as hell.  So I didn't really even notice the tire noise.  It does shift aggressively, and the auto stick is slow as hell to engage, unfortunately. 

BUT, so many good things about the car.  It's like a pint sized version of the Buick, well, 4/5th size lets call it.  Comfortable, and I was blown away at just how much it did indeed look like the Buick.  In fact a lot of people don't even notice at first that I'm driving a different car now.  See for yourself:





Subtle differences, but so much in common.  Lil N' first blurted out "HEY, where did all the red dots come from in here? WHO DID THIS???" (car has red fabric highlights all over).

Not the greatest angle, but you can see what I'm talking about.  So far I'm pushing more than 35% better gas mileage, that's huge.  Pretty darn happy.  Here are some other photos of the car:














Yesterday, Yo Yo, Today, McPicnic

The kids, especially Lil N', wanted Yo Yo Berry after we ate the other night and I wasn't able to take them, so yesterday we did indeed end up in the land of yogurt and candy.  I find it rather funny that they offer "low" and "no-fat" yogurt, yet then you have about 100 of the most atrocious toppings in terms of health that you can have, might as well go the Coldstone Creamery route if you are going to do that.


As you can see, lil maN's love of strawberries continues.  Interesting how placement makes that spoon look gigantic, he just happened to be waving it around.

And today, well, despite my insinuating that they would just LOVE go get pizza and pasta at Ci Ci's, there was no turning them away from McDonalds.  All grins as we ate at the park, despite having to chase down trash every 30 seconds or so. 






It was pretty chilly for a picnic but we still had fun.  They ran around the playground slides for about 5 minutes then much like me decided that staying out there was too freaking cold.  So off we went to head for home at that point.
Still The Best Show On Television

As I was watching the final few episodes last season for Walking Dead, I found myself at times actually wondering "Hmm, this show could actually be better than Game of Thrones..." but after today's episode of G.o.T. I have once again solidified my position that, indeed, HBO has the best show out there.

To get more specific about this particular episode, I keep thinking that 'The Hound' Clegane has some sort of internal battle going on between choosing life or death at any given time.  He flees King's Landing, as fire envelopes all the ships beyond the mud gate (although one could say his fear of fire may have drove him), he calls out "the Stark bitch" at Arya Stark, as though his choice to indulge that little bit of information would somehow bring him favor from his captors.  Yet in the dank caves, when faced with ridicule, he would repeatedly call out for them to "get on with it!" and "if you are going to cut my throat, do it already!"  Along with the life/death struggle, he also seems torn with wanting to be a better person, yet resigned to the fact that he is too far gone to ever get away from being what he perceives himself, or at least he perceives others see him as:  A ruthless killer with no real honor or loyalties.  You would almost see his current situation befitting him in a lot of ways, he seems to despite the requirements of loyalty as much as he enjoys a propensity for violence.

Ah, then there is Margaery Tyrell... seemingly willing to throw herself bodily at anyone who has even the slightest hint at being king, now she is offering her hand in "friendship" to Sansa Stark.  Something seems very fishy about what she is doing.  I would like to believe her family is aware of Littlefinger's alleged plans with Sansa, however behind all the "good deeds" Margaery seems to be doing there is something that just doesn't seem right about her.  Perhaps she still sees Sansa as a threat to her self assumed inevitability to being queen, or something worse, but I have a bad feeling about her intentions.

Ah, and then we get to the final segment, with Daenerys Targaryen.  I kept thinking she knew a little more about what was being said the last couple of episodes that involved her... and her knowledge of the Valyrian language took that far further than what I'd expected.  Even just before that, as she handed off the dragon, you got the feeling that she was in complete control, and I started to think "OH SHIT, she's going to kill that guy!"  I didn't expect that she was going to take the whole city down, which was far and away more awesome yet.  That wide eyed look on Daenery's personal slave hand maiden, Missandei, basically set it all.  Sort of the "Holy shit!" followed by the unspoken "YES!!!" as Daenerys gave the commands to bring the city down.  She's becoming more and more impressive with every episode, such a far cry from the "unsullied spoiled rich girl" she was portrayed as in the beginning of the series. 

I think I could go on and on about the other parts of the episode.  I enjoy this show so much, I often wonder if it is simply a matter of never being able to fully grasp what is going on in probably 15 different storylines that slightly intertwine most often, and then go headlong into a collision at other times, with awesome consequences.  I love this show!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ESPN And The Demise Of Sportscenter

In college, I was friends with some of the greatest guys a man could ever have as friends, some of whom I'm still involved with.  While I have always been a Nebraska football fan, and a fan of other sports in general (although not as 'in the blood' as I am with college football), it was not until I was around "Gub's" and "midas" and "shoes", among other college buddies, that I truly got deep into the sporting world. 

Of course, being in college traditionally, on campus and such, means you are up at all sorts of stupid hours of the day and night, and watching Sportscenter became a daily routine for us as a group of friends.  It certainly helped that Nebraska went through arguably the greatest period of college football in the entire modern era, winning 3 titles in the process. 

belly isn't nearly as into sports as I am.  She didn't mind my raving Husker love, but I was never going to expect her to enjoy sitting with me through an hour and a half of ESPN a day, all while playing Tecmo or hockey video games on another TV side by side.  So over time, I've gotten away from watching Sportscenter, really to the point that I only see it maybe once a week, if that.  We are more into watching sci-fi flicks/shows or comedies than sports, and it is more fun to do things with other people than by yourself, so of course that became more my thing to do.

One thing I do know, however, even with my lowered viewing time of ESPN, is that Steven A. Smith is one of the worst things that ever happened to the sports network.  There are a lot of great sports broadcasters out there, a lot of really good local NBA ones I am sure too, but I really can't think of too many worse than Smith is.  His endless rants bring to mind the idea of the sound of one's own voice soothing themselves, because I haven't really met anyone that enjoys his take on really, well, anything.

Therefore it was not a surprise to see an article on Sportscenter, and what is wrong with it these days, that centers in Steven A. Smith and the horrors involved with him.  Here is the article in full:

Sports Media Watch - The End of Sportscenter

For whatever reason, ESPN let Smith back in the door in 2011. While his initial role was confined to the radio and ESPN.com, he quickly resumed his position as one of ESPN’s most prominent talkers. Now, he is an institution on the morning SportsCenter, where unnecessarily deferential anchors sit by and watch him devolve into the kind of self-parody that even “Saturday Night Live” cannot adequately capture.
 It seems that the biggest problem facing ESPN is probably centered around the entire idea of what Chris Berman is all about.  Berman was the one who created quirky names centered around the last names of specific players, especially those in the NFL.  They were quite witty and funny... back in the mid 1990's.  Unfortunately after awhile many of the other anchors decided that they needed to find their own "schtick" and therefore ESPN started to become more and more about the sports anchors themselves than about the entire reason for ESPN in the first place: sports and video clips showing sports. 

Now I can't really say that ESPN is as bad as EMPTY-V (oh, did I spell MTV wrong?).  Both MTV and ESPN were wonderful in the early 1990's.  Sure, MTV had Beavis and Butthead (such an underrated show haha) but for the most part they were still all about music and videos, and ESPN during that time was about sports and replays.  I don't even know that I've even watched MTV in the last 5 years, trying to recall here, in fact the only show I can think of I can't even name, it was that pregnant teenager show, I can't even tell you if they have any actual music videos anymore.

I can only pray that ESPN doesn't get that bad.  ESPN has certainly added in a lot of self-serving programming that centers more around their sports anchors and their (at times very idiotic) opinions, but you can still find out what happens in the world of sports by watching Sportscenter.  They could easily go down the same road as MTV though, if they aren't careful.  I don't ever expect ESPN (or MTV for that matter) to be as great as they were in the early 1990's, but I also have to realize it likely has a lot to do with my age at that time too.  Your priorities change in life, not sure if Walking Dead is better than football highlights, but I do choose Walking Dead these days (or Game of Thrones, I'd say they are equally awesome).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Am I Really This Out Of Shape?

There was still snow to scoop when I got to work this morning, so I spent about an hour taking care of it.  Basically it consisted of scooping the sidewalk in front of my building, around the east side, to the doorway on that side.  Then I had to get the front steps scooped off also.  I can't believe how tired this made me.  I seriously wanted to come in, put a pillow on my desk, and take a nap.

Of course, we have a snowblower, but I am not sure how it works. I don't know if I can blame it on being a "typical guy" for not looking into it more and figuring the machine out, but I just figured it is easy enough to scoop snow by hand, why dick with that machine?  I think I'm going to figure out how it works for the next storm.  Oh, and start running again.  THAT is a  must haha.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Heat Sink Material

If you are like me, you likely have no idea what the title of this post even means... however as of today I know exactly what it is and how important it is to keeping your computer from overheating.

I play World of Warcraft a bit, and after the Pandaria update, my computer fan starting running full bore LOUD all the time.  Upon doing a hardware/software check to find out what the problem was, apparently my computer's integrated Intel i5-2310 chip did not have the capacity to handle the graphics necessary for the most up to date WoW content.

So, for Christmas, belly purchased a GEFORCE GTX 650 dedicated graphics card for me.  I kept putting off installing it, I guess because I've never really opened up a computer and messed all that much with hardware, so I was a bit fearful of trying it.  So getting to it, I made a bit of a mistake and removed the fan from the CPU, because I thought the card had to be installed by going in at an angle from the top.  I found out of course that you have to unscrew a piece of the back panel and unclip the front, then it just slides in from the side.

So I got it installed, the reinstalled the fan assembly, figured out the BIOS settings to run the new graphics card, and fired everything up.  I put the settings on the graphics card to "High", but almost immediately the computer began running north of 90 degrees centigrade.  Even setting the graphics card to lower settings didn't keep the computer any cooler.

Now you have to understand, I have never, as stated above, worked with computer hardware before, and I did a bunch of research to try and find out why this computer was overheating, when the entire point of installing the dedicated graphics card was to allow it to run cooler.  I couldn't seem to find anything related to my brand of computer doing this sort of thing, but then I ran into an article that talked about the importance of using heat sink, otherwise known as thermal grease, or liquid heat exchanger.  

The basic principle is that there are two plates that stick together, and in order to pull the heat from the CPU plate, the thermal grease will transfer that heat over to the fan and radiator fins.  When I pulled the fan off of my computer originally, I accidentally rubbed off a bunch of the compound, and that's why after I installed it, it was loose on its mounting, and why the computer ran hot as hell even with the dedicated graphics card.

I picked up a 20 dollar gaming fan, figured I'd upgrade the fan, along with some new thermal grease, and installed everything tonite.  I do have to say, Intel's mounting pins are a total pain in the ass, they don't like to stay in place as you try and twist the locking mechanisms into place.  I got everything put in, then fired the computer up.  SO much quieter, and running a full 40 degrees cooler. 

I now have the WoW graphics settings at maximum "Ultra" setting, which is pretty freaking amazing by comparison to the "Fair" settings I was running before.  My whole purpose for getting the graphics card was to quiet things down, because the cpu fan was running full bore non stop and was annoyingly loud.  Now the computer is really quiet, and the graphics are insanely good.  I have to say also, belly enjoys working on computer hardware, and I think it is a lot like working on a car to be honest.  I think the wife would really do well if she were an auto mechanic, although she's probably beg to differ :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Moffett's Ghost!!!


Airwolf is on Netflix!!! This was my favorite show from the 1980's... I guess growing up as a little guy, always one of the smallest people in my class, I had a sense of encouragement from this show, being that, the general basis of each episode:  Stringfellow Hawk (Jan Michael St. Vincent) would get his butt kicked/threatened/harassed, or whatever other form of disrespect, then at the end he would get in his high tech Mach 1+ helicopter, loaded to the gills with all sorts of gadgetry and weapons, then open up the can of whoop ass on all the bad guys.

I do know that as I watch the show now, I notice that there is a distinct lack of action shots by the helicopter, maybe 20 total, that they use in terms of the flying and the weapons firing during battle scenes.  BUT, that is not enough to keep me from watching this show again.  Unlike some of the shows from my youth (Dukes of Hazard comes to mind), Airwolf doesn't come off as really disappointing, and I don't question my own intelligence for ever having watched it in the first place haha!  Still awesome after all these years!




Whiteout!





This is the view out my window, to the south of our building.  The view is even more obscured by snow now than it was when I took the photo a couple of hours ago. The middle of Nebraska is getting blasted really hard right now.  I usually don't have my shades pulled up in my office due to the sun being way too intense to work on my computer most days, but it is so beautiful out, and calming to watch the snow coming down.

Probably sounds odd to some, I don't know, I have always enjoyed watching snowstorms, all storms for that matter, however I would have to say a snowstorm is a lot more soothing than a 100 mph thunderstorm blasting its way through your neighborhood :D (although that is still very exciting to be honest).  

Looks like we've got about 8" of snow right now, not sure how much more we will get.  I hope it doesn't get much worse, and that the wind stays down.  If the wind whips up like they think it might, we are going to really have issues as it piles the snow in drifts in bad places, and then I might actually get a call from Lincoln about people getting stranded on the interstate.  If that happens, I'll be in a truck going about 10 to 15 mph out there to pick them up.  Doesn't bother me though, makes me feel like I can give a little back to the public, because I'm grateful to have this military job and my thanks go out to them, including all of you, for being able to continue to do something that I love this long.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Smart Phone"?

My phone has been causing me a lot of grief this past week or so since the "Ice Cream Sandwich" update (yes, goofy name for a software patch indeed).  Basically anytime I would open up an application like Skype or Google Maps, even from a full battery, the phone would up and instantly die, without even being able to do the 15%, 10% or 5% battery warnings. 

I ended up calling Verizon today, and the first guy I got was frustrating.  It is so obvious when someone doesn't even care about their job, so I pretty much immediately asked him to skip all the typical steps that he would normally go through and just pipe me over to technical support. After that, I got to talk to "Ken", and I have to say, he was awesome, to the tune of more than 2 hours of help on my phone.

We tried a variety of "fixes", none of which seemed to work, so he recommended a complete factory reboot for the phone.  We checked my google account, backed everything up, and then reset the phone, albeit with the basic Ice Cream update.  Then we went through the set-up and talked about a lot of the features I never even knew the phone had.  Of course then I had to start downloading my applications.  Apparently "Swype" keyboard is gone?  I had to use SlideIt instead, and I have to be honest, I think SlideIt is the better choice anyway.  I was having a lot of trouble with Swype, but being a typical guy I just dealt with it.  Through all of this Ken from Verizon was pretty awesome and patient. 

So, even tonite I'm still trying to figure things out with the phone, such as how to set up my music and photo applications so they are "open" on the screens as I flip through, like they used to be.  Oh and Ken told me that most people just up and order a new battery online for 50 dollars, even though the battery is a 10 dollar warranty item for most people who are still within their contract with Verizon. 

And, getting back to the original problem with the phone... it had 70% of its power and I unplugged it, and started playing Angry Birds (wow, talk about a time consuming download initially on 3G haha) and it seemed to be doing okay, then I opened up Google Maps and BOOM the phone instantly died.  Well, at that point we pretty much realized it had to be the battery, so I agreed to order a new battery through Verizon for $10.55.  I'm also eligible for an upgrade, apparently tomorrow... as funny as that sounds.  I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but doesn't it seem like these phones tend to die right when the wireless companies allow us to upgrade? :) 

Well, back to working on my phone.  Oh, it's an HTC Thunderbolt.  I failed to mention that before!

I'm glad Ken was patient, he was awesome! 
Walking In A Winter Wonderland

As I write this, this area is preparing for anywhere from 12 to 18 inches of snowfall in the next 24 hours, along with high winds that are going to switch directions sometime tonite. Due to this, I have been locked down at my current location, unable to go home as planned. This is because the military here is part of the state's "Emergency Management" plan, in which my part is having two vehicles warmed up and ready to go should there be stranded travelers on the roads near here.

It doesn't really bother me, I did have plans to head for home and hang with the kids tonite, plus the significant other has to work and needs any help I can provide, but our plans didn't take into account the severity of weather they are expecting to head our way. That is why we have Skype, I will be able to video chat with the little ones tonite and all will be well.

Here are our awesome hellions!!!



Of course, I get an email today asking me to inventory my emergency kit, a kit that has more than 200 items... well, that is going to wait, as I have to get diesel fuel, fill water jugs, and set up preparations for tonite's storm. They couldn't have picked much of a worse time to want to verify inventory... but then again, I learned long ago that common sense can and will butt heads with the powers that be in the military, or I suppose any large organization for that matter.
I Took The Low Road In, I'll Take The High Road Out

It is early in the morning.

0319 to be exact.

I did sleep a bit, I am not sleeping now.

Or perhaps I am sleeping but I'm just dreaming that I'm typing this? I can't really be too sure...

I'm certain I should be asleep, yes, that is a fact.

I have now had my job for 5 months, 20 days, 3 hours, and 21 minutes.

I am blessed.

Having started my job in March 2008, even though it was a temporary full time position, I figured there would always be time to get on permanent, or as permanent as 20+ years in the military can be considered.

Oh, the promises, they came... "Stay in this position, you have an excellent chance of making AGR right here"

So, myself, and others, we stayed put, we remained loyal to the establishment. For years...

Then the rumors...

"No money, downsizing, temp positions will be gone on this date, no they will be gone on this date, okay 3 more months, but that is it, use up all your leave because you can't take it with you"

Stress levels rose, although certainly there were other contributory considerations.

As far as years go, 2011 will not be one I look back with any particular fondness on. Certainly the realization that most everything you believe in is in some ways, at the very least, compromised, is a bit much to digest. I guess you could say that particular stomach ache is still causing me problems even now.

So, roughly 13 job interviews over the course of around 18 months (give or take a little from either that first or second number, either way it was daunting), the final interview, a job some 100 miles away from where we live, I did not even consider... Until 5 minutes before the closing time on the closing date to post for the job, I decided to put my name into the hat. 2 weeks later, I had the permanent position I had been looking for. To put things more into perspective, in 2004 there were 3 permanent positions posted on the military website, only 2 people total even applied. Now, for every one of these positions that comes up, anywhere from 18 to 25 people apply for EACH ONE. Needless to say, the "best kept secret" is really no longer a secret. 2012 brought about this job, although I work quite a ways from home, still though, job security in the current market is extremely important. Those sacrifices made to maintain for my family are of the utmost importance.

Tonite's meal: brought to you by Hormel chili and Easy Mac macaroni and cheese, I'd say they worked together to bring you tonite's meal in one bowl. Wanted to avoid the soda, but the can of Pepsi was screaming my name. Or screaming someone else's name. Either way it could not be ignored. Come to think of it the empty can is still screaming. Maybe that's just my imagination. Perhaps my proverbial castaway volleyball? I am alone here, a lot :)

Being alone in this facility has its ups and downs. On one hand, you don't have help with much of anything and you become completely reliant upon the graces of electronic communication to do much of anything you don't understand...

While I'd love to say the volume of "understood" far exceeds that of "not understood", I must actually admit that I still feel as though the firehose I am drinking from is running at 90% capacity. In other words, not really able to keep it all down.

On the other hand, being alone allows you to do your work at your pace, provided you have the integrity and motivation to actually get it done. This I do, for I know I need to maintain this employment. I do not want it to appear that I am merely in this job because of the money, it is a good job, with great benefits I might add, but I also enjoy what I do. There is a feeling of fullfillment taking care of the Soldiers from this unit.

As I grow tired, I want to post up some interesting finds, let us put these in the category of "time travel", and take a trip back... way back, to California, and one expensive little hole in the wall:

<

I suppose now is time that I lay my head down upon my pillow on this oh so comfy cot. Let's just say sarcasm probably doesn't reflect just how comfortable this cot truly is :) Take care, until next time... oh and the title? Three Days Grace. I enjoy their music, and some guy in Subway one night awhile back told me they had a new album out. Sure enough, they did. Oh to watch Lil maN' singing "Operate" is priceless.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Budget Mess? How Hard Is It To Fix? Really???

So, for some time now the government has been spending money that it doesn't actually have. This is what creates this 'deficit' that has now reached epidemic proportions, effectively ruining the credit rating for the actual country itself, as crazy as that sounds. What I really don't get is how it is so difficult for the government to realize that you CANNOT SPEND MONEY YOU DO NOT HAVE IN YOUR ACCOUNT!

When regular Joe Blow does things like that, he goes to jail, unless he is fortunate enough to realize he is spending too much money and actually sits down and budgets his finances vs income to even things out. This isn't exactly a STRANGE concept, there, Washington, get your ass in gear and get it done. Here's how you do it:

Let's say, for ease of mathematical equations, that the deficit is 100 billion (yah it is much higher than that, but bear with me here). Now let's say there are 10 government programs/entities that are spending that money. Again, yes, there are thousands more, but this is for demonstration purposes, and the percentages are completely made up, stick with me here.

1) Welfare 20%
2) Military 15%
3) Medicare 15%
4) Student Loans 10%
5) Food Stamps 10%
6) HUD Public Housing 10%
7) NASA 5%
8) EPA 5%
9) USDA 5%
10) IRS 5%

So, you take 200 million out of welfare, 150 million away from the military and medicare, 100 million each from student loans, food stamps, and public housing, 50 million from NASA, the EPA, USDA, and the IRS.

BOOM, problem solved. Oh, it isn't meant to be easy, and it would be political suicide for whoever did it because everyone is going to be angry and feel they got 'screwed', but the plain fact remains that this is the easiest and most responsible way to actually fix this problem.

Unfortunately the current administration is going to be too busy with this 'national health care' crap, and will likely go after guns in his second term, instead of doing what he actually needs to do, which I have listed above.



Friday, August 12, 2011

The Rules Of Sleep

It is said that the average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function at their maximum potential. Children need more than this, starting as newborns of course, a LOT more, most of the day really, then down to 10 hours or so by about 10 years old, and gradually less on through their teen years. It is also said that as you get older, especially past 50 or so, you need less and less sleep. I am not to that point yet, so it would be hard to say.


I probably average about 6 hours of sleep a night. I should get a couple hours more, but I have always had difficulty just laying in bed forcing myself to sleep, so I tend to wait till I'm dead tired, so that my head hits the pillow and I pass out. Not the best way to get a good night's rest, but it works for me. As for D, she is smarter about it, goes to bed at a reasonable hour and reads a book for awhile, then shuts out the lights, and goes to sleep. I should likely trying to get more sleep, but it is hard to change your sleep habits. I do notice something rather interesting though: when you sleep more than 8 hours, you seem to be more tired throughout the following day, as though you only slept 4 or 5 hours the night before.

The reason for this, quite frankly, is scientific. Through vast and expensive research, I have discovered that there is a secret place in the brain that stores negative sleep. Negative sleep is when you don't get enough sleep at night. Say you sleep for only 5 hours, you would need 3 more hours of sleep to get to a full night's rest. Well the body stores that 3 hours in a special cache, and then whenever you go over 8 hours, the body taps into that cache of negative sleep, and you end up feeling more groggy and tired the than if you had slept only the required 7 to 8 hours.

By this point in my life I would probably need to sleep a full 2 years to completely clear my negative sleep cache. While in Iraq for a year, I don't think there was ever a time when I slept for a full uninterrupted 8 hours. Usually it was 4 to 5 hours, if I was lucky, then catch up with an hour or 2 later in the day, during down time between missions. This made a lot of days in Iraq seem very surreal, especially when you consider the bleak terrain, and the contrast in temperature and light, as you go from a 78 degree living area with the lights out, into a 125 degree blinding sun blast with light reflecting off the light colored sandy rocky ground. After I got back CONUS (stateside), it was more than 6 months before I got back into a regular sleep cycle again. Iraq was probably the greatest single contributor to my negative sleep cache.

So, why am I writing about this today? I don't know, I am using up leave, so it allows me to sleep a little extra, and I was thinking about negative sleep again, so what the hell, thought I'd write about it. I would say that I could be dreaming right now, but apparently the kids (the second biggest contributor to negative sleep) are tearing up the house, so I know I'm not dreaming. In my dreams, they are being perfect angels, they would never dirty up the house.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bye Bye Beret, So Long Velcro, HELL YAH HOOAH!!!

The Army Times reported yesterday that the beret will no longer be the authorized headgear with the combat uniform, as it will be replaced by the patrol cap as the default headgear. And as though the news couldn't get even better? VELCRO IS NOW OPTIONAL!!!

ACU Changes Make Velcro Optional, Patrol Cap Default Headgear

Army Chief of Staff Martin E. Dempsey and Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III are currently my two favorite people in the Army! THANK YOU for doing something the last chief of staff utterly refused to do: LISTEN TO US, talk to the guys in the field, and acknowledge that certain aspects of the combat uniform are a huge mistake.

Now if only we could get an actual combat uniform pattern that actually works instead of making you stand out in any foliage like a sore thumb? I'll take my good news in 3's please haha.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Finally Got The Bicycle Out

I ran 5.5 miles a couple nights ago, and yesterday was still feeling pretty sore (probably a little to do with the PT test a day before that) so I decided to take a day off. Then I got to thinking about the fact that I had not yet even been out on my bicycle yet this year.

My mom had borrowed our silver Dodge Neon for a few days because she had hit a deer, so her vehicle was in the shop getting repaired. Then my sister let her borrow her blue Dodge Neon, which is a bit of a nicer Neon than ours. So rather than have my mom drive the silver Neon back up to our house from the farm, I decided I'd ride the 20 miles or so down to the farm on my bicycle, load up the bike into the Neon, and drive the Neon back up here.

Thankfully there was a pretty decent tailwind coming out of the north to help push me along as I headed south towards the farm. The first 12 miles or so I was able to hold about a 25 mph pace, which is a bit ridiculous (normally I run 14 to 18 mph average on my longer rides). The highway I was riding on has very nice long rolling hills, nothing too incredibly steep and long sections of straight level road too.

But, then I turned east for the last 10 miles, and I was getting hit pretty hard by that north crosswind, and the hills on that particular highway are a lot steeper and more difficult. The next 10 miles or so dropped my overall speed back down to a more normal 18.4 mph. I turned onto the gravel road for the last mile, and WTF the county had put down a bunch of crushed white rock instead of gravel... well, needless to say my bike with its skinny tires didn't last long, as 105 psi blew out of my back tire after about a half mile of travel up the road.

Not even 30 seconds later, my mother drives by in the blue Neon, I wave, she waves and honks and keeps going, despite my waving frantically to stop her. I pulled my phone out and called her, asking why she didn't stop??? "Oh, I never even saw you" she said. Uhm, okay, but you honked and waved? I sure hope my mom isn't getting Alzheimer's disease or something haha.

All in all a decent ride, and I do have 2 spare tubes here at the house. I generally just use new tubes, they are about 5 bucks a piece and I don't have to deal with the bullshit of repairing tubes and having it only work about half the time. My overall results from today's ride?

Distance: 22.3 miles
Time: 1:12:26
Average Speed: 18.4 mph
Max Speed: 37.5 mph
Temperature: 83 degrees
Wind: 10 mph (gusting to 15) from the North/Northeast

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Best Uniform Option = Marine's Pattern?

It is widely acknowledged within the Army, perhaps more so on an informal scale, that the ACU uniform with its digital pattern is a failure. The current deployment uniform, the multicam, is not meant to be an actual long term solution to the problem. So what exactly is the solution? I tend to agree with this opinion piece:

Marine Corpse Has Obligation To Share Pattern

Once again, the Army is shopping for the best possible camouflage pattern for combat soldiers to replace the Universal Camouflage Pattern adopted in 2004.

For more than a year, soldiers in Afghanistan have been wearing MultiCam. But officials say that’s not a long-term solution, which is why they plan to field-test a number of options with the goal of choosing three: one for woodland, one for desert and one for transitional environments.

Among the best options is the uniform worn by Marines, known as MARPAT. Through a series of tests, both scientific and anecdotal, it has stood out for not standing out.

Trouble is, the Marines don’t want to share it.

The Corps has already fought off advances by the Air Force and Navy to adopt MARPAT look-alike patterns. Navy SEALs have a MARPAT-like uniform, but other sailors aren’t allowed to use it, either. This is madness.


I've felt this was the best uniform since my wife wore it during her stint in the Marines. The uniform has no freaking velcro either, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Army is ignorant enough to continue to use velcro in some capacity, despite how poorly the crap performs in the field.
Missed It By THAT Much!!!

PT Test completed.

Goals:

80 pushups
90 situps
12:30 2-mile

Outcome?

72 pushups
80 situps
12:25 2-mile

Missed the pushups by ONE... freaking muscle failure as time ran out.

Not overly disappointed, I was so damn tired, well, fatigued for some odd reason, and the humidity during the run was utterly oppressive, the temperature wasn't too bad, but it was hard to breathe that air.

Would still love to do 100 pushups, 100 situps, and a sub 11 two-mile, at some time, but the older I get, as I pointed out in an earlier post, the more unlikely it is that it will happen.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Range Fire!!

So, tomorrow begins a 3 day range fire exercise for our unit. Should be fun. I actually mean that, I really look forward to firing the rifle. Not so much the pistol, sorry to say I am sort of bad with a pistol, although I have gotten better. With the rifle though, I grew up shooting birds with a Crosman AIR-17, a bb/pellet gun that looks like an M-16.

My first time firing a real M-16 at Ft. Benning, the drill sergeant chewed my ass. "Your fundamentals are all fucked up, just fuckin' ate the fuck up". Then he saw me shoot, and I was damn good, after that it was "Well, your shit it still be fucked up, but you keep firing like that and it don't matter none!". I was one of three people out of 51 in our platoon that shot expert (36 or higher out of 40) on the range on qualification day.

Since then I have earned the Expert In Competition badge in state competition. You can wear the EIC badge in lieu of the actual marksmanship badge, which is pretty unique, only a few people each year earn them.

Belly and I fired 100 rounds of .223 (5.56 civilian style) at the indoor range for familiarization tonite. That should help out some this next few days. Well, time to pack up. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day


Just wanted to take a moment to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day. You will not be forgotten.
Blast From The Past: Gravel Flop

On my 7th birthday I was given one of the best gifts a boy could ever have gotten: a chrome frame Mongoose BMX style bicycle, with mag wheels, and two "Suzuki" button up pads, one on the handlebars, one on the crotch bar. My cousin Carl, who is about 10 years older than me, gave it to me, through my father, who had to weld the frame in an area that had broken.

What made this sort of birthday present even more spectacular was that, growing up on a farm, I had endless possibilities when it came to BMX activities, from riding the bike down to the creek to go swimming with friends, to ramping the bike off of all sorts of different items to see how much air I could get.

It was the latter that got me into trouble one day. I was probably 9 or 10 years old at the time. It was a hot summer day, the kind that would find me riding around on my bike at the farm, wearing only cut off jean shorts, and shoes/socks. For the days event, I had set up an old car tire and some boards leading out of the shed, and I would ride to the back of the shed, then get up a head of steam, and ramp off the boards.

This was working quite well, so I added another car tire to try and get even more air. I rode again to the back of the shed, peddled with all my might, ramped up the boards, lifted on the handlebars, and UP UP in the air I went... much higher than previously.

The next thing I knew, I was hitting the ground in a very painful belly-flop, knocking the wind out of me quite literally. With no shirt on, the gravel tore into my skin, so the secondary screaming pain after getting over the initial shock was the horrific burning where the tiny rocks had embedded into my skin. I can remember looking up through a tear stained gaze and seeing my front wheel bouncing along further down the driveway, and it was then that I realized what had happened: the front wheel had come off in mid jump. And unlike what most people figure would happen, the bike did NOT embed itself into the ground forks first. With the front wheel gone, the bike lost stability, and went sideways, throwing me off.

I ran up the driveway to the house sobbing uncontrollably, and my grandmother, always the caretaker, immediately started tending to my chest and stomach, using cotton balls and... RUBBING ALCOHOL! Third horrific painful shock of the day. Not sure if you've ever had someone put rubbing alcohol on a fresh cut, but it is not in any way pleasant. I would recommend hydrogen peroxide next time. I sat in the house for a couple of hours, watched cartoons, nursed my wounds, a big portion of which was my pride. About 2 hours later I went out to get my bike, thankfully it wasn't damaged, but it took me nearly 20 minutes to find my tire, which had rolled all the way down the interior driveway and across one feedlot into the bushes.

Within a few days the gravel had worked its way out of my skin, and there were no real lasting ill effects of my nasty spill. One of the more interesting notes about all of this was that when my uncle Nick was about my age, he had ridden a 10 speed for the first time down the really steep gravel road south of the farm, didn't know how to stop, and had taken a far worse spill than I did. He believes he still has gravel embedded in his skin to this day. Youch... glad I wasn't going that fast.