Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas Check In

Well folks, Christmas is almost here, and I'm down to 28 days & counting before they ship my old ass out to BCT. Nervous? Yup, you bet your tush I am! I'll be fine, I'm sure, but any new endeavor brings with it the fear of the unknown. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I just don't wanna be "That Guy" . . . the old man dragging everyone else down. I didn't have any problems in RSP but I'm betting that BCT is a good bit tougher, hence the nervousness. :-)

Things are good here, we're all squared away for Christmas and the New Year. The Wife, Boy, and myself all have the full week between off so we'll be chillin' at home, sleeping late and just enjoying the season. I'm glad The Wife was able to get the time off, I think we're both gonna need the time together to help carry us over while I'm gone. She's been awesome about the whole thing lately, she's really gotten behind it and has been wonderfully supportive. It may take her a while to adjust to change but when she does, she does it with a vengeance!

Had a good bit of the joy taken out of the holidays last night when I found out that my mother has lung cancer. It wasn't an unexpected diagnosis but it still sucks. She's tough, in good shape, and has a great attitude so hopefully it will all work out but I've mentioned before that I despise cancer with a burning hatred. I've dealt with it far too many times and it's an ugly, painful, disease to watch chew up people you love. Think a good thought for her if you would . . .

I've been wondering what to do about this blog while I'm gone. Do I shut it down or do I ask The Wife to post the occasional update from my letters and calls? I'll have no access to the Internet at all in BCT and I'm not sure how much access I'll have once I'm in AIT. That means I won't be updating at all between the end of January through at least mid-April. Well, let's face it, I don't update all that often anymore anyway - once a week at best, really. I don't think I have more than 3 or 4 folks who read here anymore anyway. Maybe I'll just let it go and see if I want to pick it up when I get back. What do y'all think?

Anyway, for all those reading: I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a fantastic New Year. May everyone you love be close by, happy, and healthy and may they stay that way through the entire year!


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The "I" Post

Ok, let's take a quick detour into Jim's brain, shall we?

This may prove once and for all that I'm a complete nut job (big shock!) but I noticed a funny thing about myself a while back - right about the time I started pulling myself together and actively working on joining the Guard. It's going to sound very odd, and fairly pointless as well, but it was actually a huge part of how I managed to get my life under control. So, here's the crazy . . .

I never thought in the first person.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I never thought of myself in the third person (i.e. "That's what makes Plaxico Burress . . . Plaxico Burress!") I'm not quite THAT twisted, but inside my own head I always referred to myself in the second person. (i.e. "You need to lose weight . . . you aren't happy with what you're doing now . . .") That's how my brain always worked and I never once thought about it; it was just how I naturally thought. Everything that went through this oversized melon of mine was in the form of a conversation: Me, lecturing . . . ME!

I imagine a shrink would have a great time analyzing why this was (feel free to take a shot yourself in the comments!) but that's not really the point of this post. The thing that matters is that no amount of effort at changing my life ever took root while I thought that way. It wasn't until I started thinking in terms of "I" ("I need to exercise today . . . I need to avoid eating crap . . .") that anything worked. It took conscious effort at first. I had to focus on phrasing everything I wanted in the first person. Like I said, POV2 was my natural state of mind. I'd often find myself thinking things like: "You really need to call that guy about that thing, Jim," and having to stop and rephrase it to "I need to call that guy about that thing."

Stupid, right? Yea, but it made one HELL of a difference. The thing is that when I think POV1, I take personal responsibility for what I'm doing. Somehow, in my twisted brain, when I'm in POV2 it's as if someone else was in charge and I was only a spectator, sadly shaking his head inside my own mind. Whenever I say "I" must do something, I do it, almost immediately. Want an example?

I still slip sometimes and don't realize I'm running in POV2 mode. For weeks now I've been saying to myself: "You really should walk the dog at night after dinner. she needs it and it's some extra exercise for you." Have I been walking the dog? Nope, not once. Somehow something always managed to interfere . . . there was no immediacy to it, ya' know? So, night before last I caught myself thinking in POV2 and switched it to: "I have to walk the dog tonight." Boom. Just like that, and puppy's been out walking the last two nights, even though I had a Scout meeting and it was pretty dang cold hereabouts.

Why does point-of-view make such a difference? I have no friggin' idea. Seriously, I know how stupid this is . . . I mean, who the hell else on the planet talks TO themselves in their own brain all the time? Just little ol' me is all. So now, I try to always think in POV1 mode. It let's me feel that I am in control of my own life . . . and believe it or not, this is the first time EVER that i've had that feeling.

I kinda like it! :-)


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Day Stuff

This is a short work week, right? Please tell me it is - even if it's not!!! Holy crap, just into day two of a three day week and I'm almost ready to cry. I shit you not folks, it's been misery piled on top of agony, all buried up to its neck in a steaming pile of ca-ca. I SOOO need the holiday!

Speaking of which, we had out annual Boy Scout holiday camp/cookout last weekend. Frikkin' awesome! We cooked six 15+ lb. turkeys, stuffing, veggies, mashed taters, cornbread, candied yams, and several miscellaneous desserts . . . all over open fires and in the wild - not a stove or microwave to be found! That always impresses the hell out of me. It was a fun trip, despite temps in the teens! I even had to make a Deconstructed Turkey again (see this post for details!) Folks are kind enough to donate the birds for us to cook but not always wise enough to defrost them before hand. Well, in this case they delivered us a lovely, 20 lb., block of ice! Not to worry though . . . we're Scouts! We broke out a bow saw, cut that bad boy into pieces and defrosted it over some hot coals for a few hours before tossing into the deep fry pot. Good Eats!!! The Boy ran the camping trip as SPL and he did a damn good job. Everything was taken care of and in place when/were it needed to be. He did good.

Speaking of The Boy, he kicked but on his tryout and made the swim team! He actually surprised everyone (himself included methinks!) when they asked him to show them a second type of stroke. He'd been working strictly on free-style, trying to get his times for a 50m down to where it should be (which he did!) so both I and the friend who'd been tutoring him were both like "Oh crap!" when they asked. The Boy just jumped in, did the backstroke against the kids who'd been swimming it for the team last year, and totally kicked ass! Even the coaches were impressed. On other fronts, The Boy made honor roll in school and he got the highest grade in the school on his P-SAT's - he scored in the top 98th percentile for Juniors taking the test . . . which ain't bad, considering The Boy's only a Sophomore!

Yup, I'm pretty proud of him.

In any event, work calls so I must away! Hope everybody has a TRULY great Thanksgiving. May all the folks you love be near and all healthy and very, very happy!


Monday, November 17, 2008

National Defense

Well, well, and well . . . another RSP drill weekend down! Only one left to go before I ship out for Basic. Scary, no? Did any of you poor bastards ever dream (in your worst nightmare!) that you'd one day be relying on a chucklehead like me for your national security? :-)

Hey - here's a fun fact: the new President and I will both enter active federal service on the same day! Talk about "change", eh? Well, I figure I'll let him handle his job and I'll stick to mine. No need to cross lanes here. Oh, BTW: did you see the counts on how many people voted? 61.4% of the eligible population, which means a net of 4 million or so more voters than in the 2004 election, making it the highest number of voters in U.S. history. Now, while I'd prefer the percentage to be in the 90th percentile, I'm still pleased that you all decided to heed my last post. Yes, that's right; I am taking COMPLETE AND TOTAL CREDIT FOR THE VOTER TURNOUT!! My brilliantly worded, finely crafted, appeal to patriotism and national duty is solely responsible for the historic turnout of American voters. I totally frikkin' rock, dudes! :-)

Well, okay . . . the candidates, the economy, and the wars might have had SOMETHING to do with it, but I'm pretty sure their effect was negligible and I'm the one who should get all the kudos . . . so, y'all feel free to start kudo-ing your asses off for me!

Drill was good this weekend. I learned how to set up and place a M18A1 claymore antipersonnel mine (sadly, it was just a dummy. No big boom!) I learned to use a military radio, and I was SUPPOSED to get a chance to play with an M249 SAW (Squad Automated Weapon) but alas, we ran out of time. (Either that, or they were scared to let me actually touch one!) Yet again though, no boom-booms allowed; just break down, maintenance and how to fire. Basic however will be a different story! I'll get to shoot and blow up all kinds of cool crap! HOOAH!

Good news - I actually lost seven lbs. since last drill! Woo-hoo! It's not much I guess, but at least the frikkin' scale is finally moving again. The workouts I've been doing are paying off as well, not just with the weight loss, but with the strength. We got smoked mercilessly yesterday (same stupid folks, doing the same stupid crap . . . AGAIN!) but I handled it with no problem and I'm not even sore today. That is a VERY good thing. Gives me hope that I may survive Basic after all!

I met two soldiers at drill this month, both training as Medics like me. One is in his late thirties and lives just down the street from me. The other is a nineteen-year-old that will be shipping on the same day as me, to all the same locations. We'll be doing our entire training together; I thought that was pretty cool. The older guy isn't shipping until March, but when he gets back he plans to join the local EMS squad as well, so we'll be working together there. It's nice to know there are other folks out there just as crazy as I am!

Today, The Boy is trying out for the HS swim team. He's been busting his butt for the last few months, trying to get in shape for it. He's worked really hard. I hope he makes the team, it's really important to him. Besides, I always think that hard work should be rewarded. it sucks when you put in a ton of effort for something and you don't get it. I know that the work is really it's own reward and that he benefits more from the effort than the success but -as his father- I really hate to see him disappointed. I have faith in him though, I really think he's going to make it. He's a tough kid who always gives his all when it's push time, ya' know? It's one of his best traits: he can be as slack-ass as any other kid most of the time but when it's time to step up to the plate, he ALWAYS gives it his all. That makes me prouder than I can say. Think a good thought for him today if you would. I'll let y'all know how he makes out.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Did I mention you should VOTE?

Fair Warning: arrogant lecturing to follow!!!!! (turn back now or you're S.O.L.!)

Tomorrow is election day.

Whoa - wait a minute! Did I just see you shrug your shoulders? Did I just hear somebody say: "So?" Alright, that's enough of that shit! Don't make me reach out through this computer screen and smack that silly grin right off of your face, damn it! I swear to God, I will TURN THIS BLOG POST RIGHT AROUND IF YOU ALL DON'T KNOCK IT OFF!!!!!



As I was saying: tomorrow is election day. Now let's face it, I'm a bit of a dork (Yea, shocking news, right?) I vote. Always. No shit . . . I have voted in every election -local and national- since I was old enough to do so (I think . . . I may have missed a few but I don't believe so.) Voting is more to me than just some pointless exercise in civic duty. It's a beautiful moment of sublime transcendent one-ness with my fellow citizens. It's a simple process that underscores everything that we, as Americans, are and hope to be. It's the moment where we all get to express our private view on where we've been and our deepest dreams about where we're going. Flicking that little lever behind that battered old curtain and having a legally guaranteed moment to stand tall and say "This is what I think!" and to know that your voice bears every bit as much weight as the voices of the great and mighty . . . That's some heady shit right there!

Voting is the very heart of America. That one simple moment of choice is what better men and women than I'll ever be have lain down their lives for again and again in far distant lands, and in the blood stained grass of our own back yards. Voting is the one moment where each of us gets to show that we're more than just consumers looking for churros at the Uber-Mall of Wegotitall, USA. Voting is the penultimate act of patriotism and validation of the sacrifices that have been made by so many brave souls, just so you can perform that one little function. Think about that for a minute. Thousands of people have died for no other reason than to let you stand in that booth and say: "This is what I think!" That lays a heavy burden of responsibility on our shoulders don't you think? Countless fathers, mothers, and children lost their lives so that you can go to your local polling place and have an equal say in what happens in this nation's future. Strip away all the flag waving, speeches, and honors and that's what it comes down to. They died, so you could vote.

So what do better than 1/2 of us do? We sit our fat, happy, uncomfortably wide asses down on our couch and watch the idiot box instead of taking the three minutes needed to perform that most sacred of American acts! Seriously? Do you need to see the latest "Family Guy" re-run that badly?

I know . . . I've heard the arguments a hundred times:

"It doesn't matter who wins, they're all corrupt anyway!"
"My wife and I just cancel each other out!"
"It's all fixed, the Electoral College picks who they want!"
"Voting's a joke, the results are all lies anyway!"
"I'm too busy to vote!"
"One asshole is as good as another!"
"I'm not voting for any of these jerks!"
"My candidate won't win anyway!"
"I'm not sucked in by that patriotic propaganda!"
"Voting is how they keep track of who doesn't think 'correctly'!" (yea, I've actually heard this one!)
"Whatever. I'm gonna get screwed no matter who wins!"

So, here's my answer to all of the above . . . STFU you whiny, pathetic SOB's!!!!!

Seriously. Knock it the fuck off. Get off your lazy ass and vote. The government sucks? Country going to hell? Morons running it all? Taxes choking you? "Those" people (whoever the hell you think they are) taking over everything? Fine . . . do something about it. Go vote. Pick whoever you find to be the least offensive asshole of a candidate and hit the lever next to their name. Maybe they'll win, maybe they won't even get enough votes to get mentioned on the late-late-late news on NPR. So what? You voted. You had your fair say and did your duty as a citizen. You TOLD everyone who should have been put in charge. If they listened, then you get to pat yourself on the back and bask in your brilliance. If they didn't, then you've EARNED the right to bitch and moan to your heart's content. Why? CUZ YOU VOTED!!!!!!!

Don't dishonor the men and women who've earned you this right. Whether YOU think it's important or no, the dead thought it was. Don't turn your back on their sacrifices. Go vote.

End of bitching . . .you can carry on with your regularly scheduled lives now.

After you VOTE of course.

No, really, go vote . . .


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's all about Attitude!

There is justice in the world, after all!

You remember the little prick I told you about at my last drill . . . the one who was making my life hell when I was PG? Well, guess who the Sergeants picked to fill the slot this go 'round? :-)

Oh man, was I loving life!! The little SOB was completely out of his depth. Nobody would listen to a thing he said and he was completely flustered doing the simplest things; like counting how many soldiers were in a formation. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of him or anything but I was glad he got a chance to understand that leading a hundred or so soldiers is not as easy as it looks. I was really good about it, I made a point of doing everything he said without question -even helped him out a few times- and never pointed out the obvious lesson. Some of the others weren't so nice though. They made a point of giving him as much shit as he'd doled out to all the other PG's. (I have to say, three of the guys I've made friends with there were particularly rough on him as payback for what he did to me. ) I felt bad for him though, he was so bad that they eventually ripped the PG patch off his arm and fired his ass. The kid was -understandably- embarrased and angry as hell. Hopefully, he'll learn from it though.

Other than that, drill was fun this month. We learned some more D&C (drill and ceremony), learned to read military maps and calculate coordinates for calling in artillery. I picked up the basics on how to evaluate and treat a casualty in a battle zone (very cool for the Medic in me!) We even had a "Cadence Line" competition (ala "Drum Line") with my squad facing off against another for nearly an hour, seeing who could do better/louder cadence call. We totally kicked ass! :-) Did I mention to you earlier that I ran into someone I know at drill? A friend of mine for over 20 years is working there as an admin. I don't know who was more surprised, her or me! I went to sign in at the computer and we both did a double take. To be fair - I think she was more surprised. After all, me in ACU's isn't what anyone would have expected to see at this stage of the game! I hadn't seen her for 2-3 years so she had no idea what I was up to and she'd only started her job at the armory two weeks prior. First thing she did was call The Wife to ask WTF????

The Boy (and his parents!) has a scare this weekend. He woke up on Saturday morning (while I was at drill - talk about feeling like a schmuck!) with one side of his face completely paralyzed. Well, as you can imagine we were all freaking out, thinking it was a stroke or a tumor, or some other god awful thing. Luckily, it was nothing major. They're pretty sure it's Bell's Palsy which is temporary and has no lasting effects. It could possibly be Lyme's Disease as well -we're waiting on the blood work- but neither his pediatrician nor the neurologist think that's very likely. They expect it will be gone in a few weeks but he was really nervous about going back to school with it. Luckily, he goes to a great school ,and he's pretty popular, so all he got was a lot of hugs from the pretty young ladies instead of the abuse he would have gotten at the local public HS.

Still struggling with the last twenty pounds I need to drop before shipping. I switched my exercise routine, diet, and everything else I could think of this week. I'll let y'all know if it makes any difference. If it doesn't, I'm thinking my next step needs to be a hunger strike! It's been like four months now and I've only lost three pounds. :-(

Everything else be copacetic. I'm focused on getting into the Army swing of things, learning me some inappropriate cadences, cussin', spittin', and developing a bad attitude! ;-)


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nothing Much

Whew - time be flyin' by!!!

Can't believe it's mid-October already. I'm scrambling like mad to get work and home life allsquared away for when I depart in January. I still don't feel like I'm ready for basic . . . well, that's not true. I can handle the physical stuff but the weight is still dragging me down, ya' know? I have another RSP drill coming up this weekend. Should be good: weather's supposed to be nice which is always a plus. I hope they don't put me in as PG again, I don't need the extra grief. Still, I imagine I should get used to it, huh? It wasn't too bad really, just a bit tedious.

Big Court of Honor last night at Scouts. The Boy is SPL now and he ran the entire event. Did a damn good job, I must say! He's very comfortable speaking in public. He projects well, stays calm, and isn't easily flustered if anything goes wrong, he just adjusts and keeps going. Pretty damned impressive for a 15 year old. I was in charge of presenting all the joke awards to the adults last night . . . always fun! I'm a bit of a smart ass (I know: shocking, right??) so I always get such assignments. Torturing others seems to be my special gift. :-)

Less fun last night was meeting with one of the Scouts who's trying to make Eagle. Sadly, there's really no way he can get his project done before his 18th birthday and we had to tell him so. He was not happy with that at all, he really thinks he can do it. We left the final decision up to him but I'm afraid he's going to bust his hump for the next two months and still walk away without his Eagle. It's a shame, he's a really good kid and I wanted him to make it. Truth is though, less than 2% of Scouts ever reach that goal.

Otherwise, things are all good. The Wife and Boy are both healthy and happy (knock wood!) Hell, The Wife has even come 'round on the whole Guard thing. She's actually been wonderfully helpful and supportive. Oh, she still hates the idea of me going away for so long but I think she understands how important it is to me now. Bitch and whine about her as I do, in the end, all she ever really cares about is making me happy. Not too shabby a spouse to have, eh?

Well, I'm at lunch (work) and time is short so I'm gonna bail. Damn, this blog has been boring lately! Well, that's cuz life's been dull too. I'm in a holding pattern until I ship to BCT, so no grand adventures to discuss. Bear with, folks, it'll get better soon . . .


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Drive-By Posting

What's up, folks?

Life is crazy on this end - not enough hours in the day it seems. Between getting ready for Basic, The Boy's teenage life, work, and life's never-ending little issues that demand copious amounts of my time it always seems like I'm 1/2 step behind where I need to be. Well, at least I'm smart enough to know I'm not the only one. Most eveybody in this day and age has the same problem, so I'll forebear any additional bitchin' on the subject! :-)

Had fun at drill last weekend - sort of.

The drill was fine but I got stuck being the PG (Platoon Guide) for my phase. Riding herd on ninety three 17-18 year old kids is NOT my idea of a fun day! Seriously, I can see that dealing with these kids is going to be the most difficult part of this whole experience. I had one kid who just refused to listen to anything anyone said. I tried asking politely, then explaining my reasons, then trying to order him. His only answer to anything was "You ain't nobody, I ain't gotta listen to you!" Finally, I just said "Fine, let's take it to the Sergeant." At first he was like "Fine!" but as soon as I took two steps, he was like: "Wait, wait! I'm sorry!"


Anyway, just wanted to stop in to say hi. Crazy crazy!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Feeling Good!!!

Check this out: my sorry-old-ass hiked damn near twenty miles of the Appalachian Trail this weekend and I ain't even sore!!!

Now, I'm not talking about leisurely walking along some nice forest trail here. I mean speed hiking with a 30+ lbs. pack, across some 1800 ft. of elevation change, on trails that were nothing more than collections of loose rock perfectly designed for no other purpose than the breaking of ankles! That ain't even counting the two mile hike to get water from a pond, using a hand-pump filter and humping a five-gallon water jug back to the camp, or the doubling back to pick up boys who were falling behind, and adding their gear to mine. All that, and the only complain I have is a few small bruises on the bottoms of my feet (some of them rocks were sharp!!) despite the thick soles of my hiking boots. There were moments when the ankle had me panicked though. There were lots of twists and tweaks on it that had me sweating but it held up just fine. In fact, I think the twisting helped loosen up some things in there. It seems a good bit more flexible now that it was.I was a hiking machine!

Actually, I have to say everyone was. The boys did fantastic; one or two may have fallen back a bit but nobody quit and nobody complained. We had PERFECT weather the entire weekend and it may have been the best backpacking trip we've ever done. I had a blast. The Boy and I were up in the first group of hikers (we broke into three small groups to minimize impact on the trail, etc.) who were the speed group. I was the group leader and the other adult was a 19-year-old attendee of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy who is working on a commission in the USMC. Even the boys in this group were mostly folks headed towards service academies and/or military careers. These were some hi-speed/lo-drag children! They did their best to smoke my old self but I kept up with them. Seems like I might not be losing weight as much as I'd like, but the running every day is definitely paying off. Best part was sleeping out under the stars on Saturday. Most folks slept in tents but i just threw a tarp on the ground, with my sleeping back on top, and stared up at the unbelievable number of stars. That far out into the woods, there's no light pollution and there wasn't a cloud in the entire sky. Crystal clear night - just stunning.

What else is up? Well, this coming weekend is my monthly Drill. As if hiking weren't enough, I'm gonna go play soldier again! :-) I have no idea what the training schedule is but I'm looking forward to it. All my paperwork issues are cleared up so I shouldn't have to sit around and wait (well . . . not too much anyway - this is the Army after all!) After this weekend, I'm down to three RSP drills and then I ship to Basic. Funny - I'm excited as hell to go, but still very nervous, ya' know?

Had a lunch seminar at work today. (One I got to attend instead of teach for a change!) It was on emergency preparedness and run by our local Red Cross chapter. Very good seminar: I learned that the RC handles a lot more stuff than I ever knew. Turns out the president of my firm sits on the RC board-of-directors. Now I understand why he's so supportive of my joining the Guard; he's a big believer in volunteerism. I talked to the guy who ran the seminar afterward; I'd like to have him run the program for The Boy's Scout Troop. We already work and Emergency Prep. merit badge but this had a lot more in it that would be good for all families to know and work with. I'm hoping to hook my boys up with the local RC to do some fundraising, food drives, etc. We do a lot of that stuff anyway and they could use the help.

Cool thing about the presentation is that one of the RC volunteers used to work here. She left my firm to take up a full time position at the Red Cross. She just got back from doing two weeks running a shelter in Louisiana for Gustav & Ike. She had remarkable stories to tell about what she'd seen and what conditions were really like down there. It has a lot more impact when you hear it first-hand from someone you know. Incredible work they're doing down there.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grand Theft . . . Candy?

Someone stole my bowl.

Do you believe that? A cheap, $5.00 plastic candy bowl, right off my desk. It grew legs and walked away whilst I was on vacation. At first I figured one of the guys here was just messing with me (the IT guys had much fun with my system while I was away!) but no, it has been lost forever in that infinite void where all candy dishes go to their eternal rest. So sad. It was such a good candy bowl . . . and so NEW! Less than two months old . . . it still had so much candy to give!

Seriously though . . . a CANDY BOWL???? My office is loaded with a few thousand dollars worth of electronics, etc. and someone walking by says: "Ohhh, Candy Bowl! That bitch is MINE!" Odd world.

So, what else be happenin' . . . well, I think I'm losing weight again. That's just a feeling though, my cowardly ass is avoiding the scale like the plague. It's just too damn depressing when it smiles up at me with its cheery, digital green glow, flashing: "FAT ASS! FAT ASS! FAT ASS!" over and over again at my weeping eyes. I swear, one of these days I'm gonna find out what it says when I take a baseball bat to it's digi-self! Who's got the fat ass now, beyotch???

Wow - that was creepy, no?

Anyway, I been eating right, exercising regularly, and I'm feeling good. Clock is ticking down quick on me now folks, only a few more months and I'm off to BCT. I really want to be in solid shape when I go. I am dreading being "That soldier!" as cadre likes to call him. (i.e. "Y'know there's always one soldier doing (insert stupid action here)? DON'T BE THAT SOLDIER!") I really don't want to be the fat old man everyone hates because he's always dragging the group down ya' know? That thought really scares me. Hence, the waking up at 5:00 a.m and busting my hump every day. I still worry though, the 41-year-old body doesn't respond to diet and exercise nearly as well as the 20-year-old. I swear, I NEVER exercised this much at 20, and I weighed all of 170 lbs. with nothing but muscle. Now? Well . . . let's just say I don't think I'll ever be seeing 170 again.

Heading out hiking in Northern Jersey with the Scouts this weekend. A nice 15 or so miler along the AT. It should be a lot of fun. We break into small groups so that we don't tear up the trail too much, or clog it up, and for the first time ever, I'm going to be out with the lead group. That's all the hi-speed young guys, who do their damnedest to RUN the trail whenever they can. In the past, I always led the last (i.e. fat/slow) group and sometimes barely made it back. It's a nice ego boost to have them bump me up front. With the regular running and dropping all the weight, I think I might just be alright . . . I'll let you know. Either that, or The Wife will log on to post about my massive coronary and tell you where to send the flowers. Either way . . .

Speaking of Scouts, The Boy was elected as the Senior Patrol Leader for his Troop! For those of you who don't know, that's the highest leadership position a boy can have in Scouts. He almost didn't stand up to run for the position (knucklehead didn't think anybody'd vote for him!) but the previous SPL made him and he won easily. He's just beginning to realize that he's a really solid, responsible, young guy that other kids look up to and trust. He's been getting a lot of leadership and advanced positions lately on all fronts. His self-confidence is growing quickly and that's really great to see. I've always thought he was a great kid; it's nice to see other folks think so as well! Good job, bud!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Toilet Humor

Okay, I shit you not (pun intended!) when I tell you that I have seen some of the most bizarre things imagineable in the men's room at work over the last week. I swear to God, I just don't understand what goes through a guy's head (again: pun intended!) when they're in there. Here's a brief list of what I witnessed:

1. Me standing at the urinal, an executive from my firm in the stall, taking care of his business, WHILE ON THE CELL PHONE WITH A CLIENT! What made it worse is, he's one of those guys who SHOUTS into the phone. Luckily, I ain't at all bladder shy. So there I stand, Mr. Happy in my hand, stuck with the dilemma of whether or not to flush once I'm done, cuz there's no way the client isn't going to hear the urinal flush. I'm hesitating, zipping back up and preparing to just walk out and leave flushing to the next guy, when Mr. Cell Phone lets loose with a power grunt and drops a bomb that probably showed up on the Richter Scale. While talking to a client . . . WTF??? I flushed, washed my hands, and left.

2. Walk in to use the urinal, turn the corner and what do I see? A completely naked sixty+ year old hairy ass staring at me! DUDE!! You do NOT need to completely drop trou and draws to drain the weasel! I did the instant: "about face!" and walked out. (Thank God for military training!)

3. Guy sitting in stall next to mine proceeds to set about cleaning himself when done with his business. I can hear him rolling the TP round and around his hand like 5-6 times. Okay . . . a little extreme but who am I to judge, right? I mean, it ain't like I bore witness to the mess he's tackling! So, I hear him do the winding bit a second time . . . then a third . . . and a fourth . . . Now I'm actually counting! The dude does this act SIXTEEN times. Sixteen? That's gotta be a full roll of industrial TP for one sitting. What the hell did you eat dude . . . an entire White Castle Restaurant?

4. Guy standing at the urinal on the opposite wall, taking a leak, and talking to his johnson the whole time: "Come on, that it. That's good . . . AHH!" I might have suspected he was up to something else and run out, if I hadn't heard the splashing of the Yellow River.

5. A wet wad of TP about the size of my fist stuck to the wall inside a stall, at about head height. Why was it there, and what made it wet? Don't know, and didn't hang around to find out!

Weirdness. Of course, how normal am I that I noticed all this and felt the need to write about it? Well, y'all know I'm a nutjob anyway . . .

Do ladies do things like this too, or are men just bizarre animals?


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Birthdays and Other Things

Howdy, all!

Miss me? (Nah, I didn't think so.)

Last week was a much needed vacation, though it didn't come without cost! For starters, I got a call on Friday afternoon (The day before my vaca started!) from my recruiter, telling me that my drill weekend had been moved up to -you guessed it- the next day! The worst part of this of course is that The Boy's birthday party is that Saturday. Well, as you can imagine, The Wife was less than happy with me. The Boy had no problem with it, he just shrugged and said "that's fine," when I told him I'd miss the party. It wasn't too bad really, it meant that I had the entire week, including the Labor Day weekend entirely free so I got to spend plenty of time with him. We did our annual birthday dinner at our favorite restaurant (Oh yea, did I mention I turned 41 last week?) and we took a few days to head out to Hershey Park in PA with The Wife's sister and her family. It was actually a lot of fun. I'm not a big fan of amusement parks as a rule (Go back and read any of my posts on Disney if you doubt me!) but the place was clean, not too crowded, and it had a nice mix of water rides and coasters. Little something for everyone. I ate way too much crap and didn't exercise (beyond walking the park) for the week and man, did I pay for it in a big way when I went back out running! Talk about painful! Luckily, it was only the first day, after that I got back to eating normally and the body fell right back into the swing. (Thank God!)

The drill weekend was actually fun this month (No, I'm not kidding! I actually enjoyed it!) I moved out of Red Phase and up to White. That means we actually get to start doing some "real" training (or, the closest thing to it I've seen as yet!) We ran the obstacle course on Saturday, which was a blast. Walls to climb, monkey bars to cross, tires to run through, pipes to crawl under and through . . . it was like being a kid again! I was a little nervous at first, being the old man in the group, but I did alright. We had 14 soldiers in my squad and I was the last in line to go off the start line but I finished 7th, so that ain't half bad in my book, ya' know? Later that day, we trained on moving through hostile terrain in a two deep "Ranger Column". We learned to pass hand signals for silent communications and the correct way to cross a linear danger zone and set up a 360 perimeter. We did some work on how to respond to a close ambush, breaking into two fire teams and using flanking maneuvers . . . it was cool as hell! Odd moment: I was talking to my brother-in-law (MSG in the ANG with 23+ years in) and I told him what we were doing: "Dude, it was like being a little kid again and playing soldier," I said. He raised one eyebrow at me and shook his head slightly. "Only one problem there, bud. . . you ain't playin'!"

Damn me if that wasn't a sobering realization! Still hella fun though. :-)

Sunday morning, cadre decided to forego our PT tests in favor of a platoon "fun run". We did 3-4 miles in formation at a pretty relaxed pace (for me anyway, lot of folks were hurting!) I enjoyed the hell out of it: shouting cadences, running along the beach as the sun was coming up . . . good stuff! The best part was when they made us do "Indian Runs" which is where the last two soldiers in the formation have to sprint to the front. As soon as they get there, the next two sprint, and so on until the folks at the front of the column wind up at the end and have to sprint back to the front again. My old ass ain't exactly speedy but I did it with no problem. I have to say, I was really impressed that nobody dropped out of the run. Some folks had to walk a bit and drop to the back but everybody made it. That thrilled the cadre. They were thrilled that we were so "motivated" (That is the biggest word in the Army!) They congratulated us and told us they were proud of us (unheard of!) because we kept cheering each other on and not letting anybody fall out or fall behind, we acted as a unit.

Well, that lasted all of fifteen minutes. We went to morning chow and some folks just can't seem to get the simple concept that there is NO TALKING in the DFAC. The PSG was not happy and he smoked us all with a vengeance. (No surprise there!) He made us high crawl in PT gear (shorts & short sleeved shirt) across a few hundred yards of gravel, sand, and scrub weed that was covered in goose shit and morning dew. I still have huge scabs on my knees and elbows . . . that crap chewed us up! Oh, and talk about being filthy and stinking! WHEEWWW!!!! Between the sweat from the run, the sweat from the crawling, and the goose crap - we were some NAAAASSSSSTTTYYY mo-fo's! After that though, things went smoothly for the rest of the drill. Oh, one other good thing about White Phase: we got moved to much nicer barracks! Dorm style rooms with only six beds (Yup, real beds!) and a latrine with showers for just the six of us . . . sweet! The Wife keeps shaking her head at me over this; when we travel I won't stay in a hotel room unless it's five stars with king sized beds, a separate siting room, and a fully loaded wet bar. Not quite the accommodations the Army's providing, ya' know?

What else? The Army did finally fix my pay issue so The Wife is glad to see some extra jing in the bank each month (not much admittedly, but it's better than nothing, right?) We got the family ID's all done and did our first trip to the local commissary and PX. Got me a killer backpack, cheap, one I can actually carry when in uniform! The prices there are good, not amazingly cheap but I'd guess about a 10% - 15% or so savings at the end of the day, which adds up.

So, The Boy is back to school tomorrow and -geek that he is- (Sorry, bud, had to go there!) he's actually looking forward to it. How many other 15-year-olds out there love their schools that much? We're pretty lucky that way. The Wife is not happy right now (and for once, it ain't cuzza me!) She's having a bunch of dental work done over the next month and she am not a big fan o' d'needles! That's why she has to have so much done, she kept putting it off to avoid the shots. Silly woman! She's been through a dozen surgeries, chemo, childbirth and a zillion other things without a single whimper but she REALLY hate d'needles!

I think that pretty much catches y'all up on my brilliantly interesting life . . . Oh, except for my birthday gifts! I got the best stuff this year: two movies (The Omega Man, and Darby O'Gill & the Little People, which should give you a solid idea of just how strange my brain is!) and two albums (ok, CD's if you insist!) George Thorogood & the Delaware Detroyers greatest hits and a collaboration CD between Robert Plant and Allison Kraus . . . awesome! Better yet, I got some really wonderful cards from The Wife and The Boy. They wrote some really amazing stuff in them and it meant more to me than I can say.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Me, Being a Dork

RAW THIGHS (ala Frankie lane's "Rawhide" - click to play the original)

Runnin', runnin', runnin' . . .
Though my ankle's drummin'
Keep that fat ass runnin'
You're Wide!

Rain and wind and weather
Some day I'll feel better
Safe, and warm, and dry inside
All the things I'm hatin'
Sore muscles, bones a gratin'
And pain that shoots up through my thighs

Movin' on (head is up!)
Head is up (movin' on!)
Movin' on (head is up!)
You're Wide!
Chest is out (gut is in!)
Gut is in (chest is out!)
Chest is out (gut is in!)
You're Wide!

Keep movin' movin' movin'
Though my feet are disapprovin'
Keep that fat ass movin'
You're Wide!

Don't try to understand me
Just put ice on my damn knee
Soon I'll have less chafing on my thighs
My mind's calculating
About this run I'm hatin'
And how long till I can go inside

Movin' on (head is up!)
Head is up (movin' on!)
Movin' on (head is up!)
You're Wide!
Chest is out (gut is in!)
Gut is in (chest is out!)
Chest is out (gut is in!)
You're Wide!

Sorry, some days I just can't contain my inner dork!

As you can guess, I've been running regularly again. The ankle's doing fine but damn, it SUCKS that I've lost so much stamina. It's coming back though. This a.m. I ran about two miles (all totaled - I did three miles but there was still some walking in there!)at a pretty decent pace. I think I'm doing something smart though; instead of starting out with longer distance at a slower pace (which is how I started last time) I started with shorter distances at a faster pace and I'm expanding on the distance by a few blocks each time I run. It seems to be working out pretty well so far. I haven't got my full two miles at that pace without stopping yet but I'm hoping to be there by the end of the month.

The Army is killing me with the pay issue though. I'm coming up on my third drill and still nothing! I sent my PSG a voided check the other day, so hopefully he can resolve it soon. I'll give him till Friday, then start bugging him again. Did I mention that I'm official now? I have all my military ID and I can go onto any military base in the USA. I even have a high priority sticker on my car for the local Fort, so I can get in no matter what the security status is. Cool, huh? I'm taking The Wife and The Boy to get their ID's next week so we can start using the PX, commissary, etc.

Speaking of next week, I'm on vacation (yay!) Not going anywhere, just hanging about the house with the family but it is much needed. Been a VERY crazy year so far. (Major life changes tend to have that type of effect, ya' know?) I'm looking forward to just hitting the parks, boardwalk, swimming and catching rays. That's the best part about living on the Jersey Shore - my fat ass don't gotta go nowhere to do nothin' (Yes, the quadruple negatives are intentional; it's a Jersey thing!)


Friday, August 15, 2008

A Reminder of Why

I had a visceral reminder this morning of the reason I want to be a Medic. I was on my way over to the cafeteria at work this morning (it was raining this a.m. so I slept in - no breakfast) to get some food. In the lobby, there was a group of about 8 people standing around a very pale and shaking woman seated on one of the chairs. She was obviously having trouble breathing and she wasn't able to stand or reasonably answer the questions her friends were asking her. The thing is, nobody knew what to do, including me. 9-1-1 had already been called and help was on the way, but I couldn't help but feel like I should be able to help her somehow. It's a shit feeling seeing something like that and not being able to do a damn thing. I've been in that situation far too many times in my life, I don't want to do it anymore! I want to be able to do more than pat someone on the shoulder and tell them: "You'll be alright. Help's coming."

I know that I will be able to help in a few months but I really wish I'd been able to do something today. I think the woman was having a stroke of some sort but that's just a guess (obviously!). Sadly, I haven't the vaguest idea of how to treat a stroke victim. Hell, anything I did was just as likely to harm as help, so I just moved on. By that time there was a small crowd gathering and I figured the last thing the EMT's would need was one more knucklehead standing in their way.

Well, I do have some good news: MY BRACE IS OFF!!! Woo-hoo!

I'm good to go with the ankle again and I started running Wed. morning. I did three miles -of which maybe 1-1/4 was actually "running" the rest was walking and/or a very slow jog. Damn, the lungs and stamina go away fast, don't they? The ankle held up really well during the run. I wore one of those elastic braces for support -just in case- but it really didn't hurt. It was sore by the time I was done but I'm pretty sure that was just the muscles and such not being used to running anymore. At the moment, the muscles on the front of my calves are sore as hell. I had forgotten how they tightened up back when i first started running. It seems strange, I'd think the muscled on the back of the leg would hurt but those are fine. I shouldn't complain though. I was able to run a mile without any real problems on my first day back out. It took me almost two months to get to that point back when I started!

Like I said, it was raining this morning so I slept in instead of getting up to run, so I'll have to make it up tonight or tomorrow. Tonight might be problematic. The Boy has an orthodontist appointment I have to get him to, then dinner before his teeth become to sore to chew. It will probably be dark before I can get out there, and I really HATE running after I've eaten, but I also hate working out on weekends. I try to use those days to rest/recover. Well, one way or another, my old butt will hit the road!

I'm working hard on the food intake as well. Last night, we took The Boy to a birthday party down on the Boardwalk. They were serving pizza and we were surrounded by sausage sandwiches, zeppoles, hot pretzels, ice cream, and every other type of junk food known to man (And damn, did it all smell wonderful!) I was good though, I got a grilled vegetable sandwich and a bottle of water for dinner instead. (To be honest though, The Wife and I did order a medium french fries and split them.) We even drove home past my favorite ice cream place last night and The Wife offered to stop but I was good. I went home and had an apple with a little peanut butter on it instead.

One last thing for today: Over on the sidebar I have a bunch of web comics that I read (You should check them all out!) One of my favorites is Delta Bravo Sierra. Thursday's strip on the Russia/Georgia cease fire made me laugh so hard I snorted. (Seriously - and at work no less! Very embarrassing!) it's a great strip. You should go back and read it from the beginning. Great stuff.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wishful Thinking

OK, so I'm an idiot. (no shocker there for you regular readers, eh?)

In the comments of my last post, Hawkeye pointed out that the 10 lbs. I lost HAD to be water loss (Don't you hate it when people prove you wrong with simple math?) and he was absolutely right. (Thanks for the reality check, Hawkeye!) I knew it as soon as I read his comment and if there was any doubt at all, guess what? Four days after the loss, I had gained back nine of those pounds and it wasn't like I went crazy with the food. I ate normal, healthy portions, no junk, and drank only water. :-(

I was a victim of my own wishful thinking. I'm just getting so frustrated with the damn scale refusing to move! Well, it is what it is. I'm just going to have to increase the workouts and decrease the calories even more. I started this a.m. on the workouts; I went from single sets of my routine to double sets. That's 40 PU/SU, flutter kicks, bicyclers, and pull ups . . . times two! That's the core of my strength training days. I also do a handful of other exercises (5-10 of each) as both a warm up and cool down, followed by some stretching exercises. At the moment, my cardio days consist of walking three miles (same warm up/cool down/stretch) but I go to the doctor again today so hopefully I'll get the OK to take off the damn brace and get back to running. (Let me re-phrase that: "Today IS my last day with the brace!" Whether the doc likes it or no . . .) So, tomorrow I'll try the running thing again. I know it's going to suck getting myself back into decent shape for it AGAIN but I'm really just hoping the ankle doesn't hurt too bad while I do it. Damn thing is still a little sore and not back to full flexibility yet.

Did a fundraiser with the Scouts at a local festival on Sunday. What a frikkin' nightmare! It rained on/off, half the kids showed up late while the other half didn't want to work. The boys were wet, cold, and miserable. We made almost no money, had a major behavioral problem with one kid, I managed to twist my bad ankle again (minor thing) and my son got his knee and elbow banged up pretty good. There was more than that actually but I'm getting pissed again even thinking about it so I'll move on . . .

Still trying to square away my pay with the Guard. I had to call my Platoon Sgt. because I still haven't seen dime one of my pay for the last two months. Again, the cash isn't important but I need to know I'm all squared away in the system before I ship to Basic because then it WILL be important! I'm heading to the local Army base after the Dr. today to see if I can get my military ID as well. That way I can get on base for all my stuff and get The Wife & The Boy their ID's as well so they can access everything they'll need while I'm gone as well.

What else is up? Well, I've been watching the Olympics religiously (So, I'm a dork that way. What, are you even a little surprised?) Michael Phelps is kicking ass and I absolutely love watching the women's beach volleyball (No, not because of the bikinis!! Well, maybe a little cuz of the 'kinis . . .) I watch it whenever I can find it on TV, even outside the Olympics. It's a game I used to love playing when I was younger and the women are more fun to watch because there's more "play" involved than with the men. Oh, I like watching the men too but they're so damn strong almost every shot is a kill. The women have a lot more digs and extended volleys . . . gives you a chance to get excited and start yelling instructions at the TV. (Yes, I do that too. Again: why the surprise?)

Also been keeping very close tabs on the Russia/Georgia conflict. Damn me if that isn't the most dangerous and frightening thing I've seen in years. I've never believed that the old Russia was gone and they were now our happy, friendly trading partner moving towards an open democracy. This is the Russia I've been worrying over, the one that conquers its neighbors mercilessly under a cold-eyed fanatic leader (Hello, Mr. Putin!) Latest news is they've stopped their advance into Georgia but they aren't withdrawing and they've promised to take it back up if the Georgians put up any resistance. (Who sneezed? That's it, take the whole country!) This is the type of situation that could easily lead to another World War. Very scary stuff.

Ah well, enough of my drivel for one day.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I'm a skinny(er) MoFo!!

Hey, y'all! (amazing that I can start a post with those words having been born and raised in The Garden State, no?)

Things are cool hereabouts - called out of work sick yesterday: unpleasant digestive issues (polite phrasing, yes?) kept me up all night Sunday and I was whooped come Monday a.m. Of course, it WAS a Monday, which made it that much easier to just stay in bed! Not that such a thought would influence my decision making process . . . much. :-) I'm happily back at work today, feeling just fine, thanks for asking! The Wife is feeling much better as well, still a little stiff in the neck but other than that she's her usual happy self (read: she's back to happily bitching at yours truly!) Thanks to everyone who sent her good thoughts.

So, get this . . . the diet I was talking about last week? The one I had little hope was actually going to do anything? (I mean, come on! "LOSE TEN LBS. IN THREE DAYS!" What, you gonna send me some Ginsu knives with that for free?) Well, butter-my-ass-and-call-me-a-biscuit if I didn't drop ten frikkin' ponds in three days!! (I really don't know what's up with all the country references today, but let's just roll with it, 'kay? it'll pass soon, I promise!) I was absolutely floored. Four months of eating a vegetarian diet and exercising daily did nothing and this stupid program does the trick. Who knew????

Well, obviously the SFC who gave it to me knew. He told me I just needed to do something to "shock" my system a bit, that the body acclimates itself to just about any regular pattern and learns to use its energy more efficiently to STOP weight loss. Mighty handy from an evolutionary standpoint, but damn frustrating if your a lard-ass like me looking to drop some poundage! It's a fairly simple program: you do the diet for the three days, then go back to eating normally (i.e. like a normal person, no triple cheeseburgers, etc.) for the next four days and then you can do it again. Potentially, I can lose up to 40 lbs. in a month if the damn thing keeps working. How cool would that be? If I drop 40 lbs., I'll be golden! That will take me down to well under the Army weight tables and make my time in BCT soooooo much easier. I'll let you know if it keeps working or if it's a one-off kinda thing. I won't be able to go back on it until next Sunday because I have a family reunion this weekend and my ass WILL be eating well and drinking a few beers (Ok, maybe more than a few . . .) What I really like about this diet is that it wasn't one of those "water loss" type of diets, you know what I mean? The kind where you spend half of each day in the restroom "purging"? Nothing of the kind: it was actually easy on the system, all the food is very good for you (if not exactly the most appetizing stuff.) and there's plenty of it.

I am still having pay issues with the Army. I haven't gotten paid for my last two drills yet. I'll have to call my Platoon Sgt. again and bug him. I don't know why this is such a problem, the officer I spoke to said it was a simple change . . . ah well, what can ya' do? I also still need to get out to the nearest Fort and get my formal military ID. There never seems to be enough time to get it done at drill, so I'll do it on my own. Maybe when I take off for my next Dr. appointment on the ankle. I need to take off to get an x-ray done a few days before anyway so maybe I'll do both the same day. The ankle is fine but a little stiff right now. I walked three miles this a.m. (and jogged for a few dozen yards, which I'm not supposed to do, but I wanted to see what I was gonna be up against) It didn't hurt at all but the muscles ain't used to the running anymore so they're a little stiff. No biggie.

I have a Scout meeting tonight to discuss some issues that came up at the Summer Camp. This was the first major outing for the adult leaders who ran the program and it seems some of the older boys tried to take advantage the situation and pull some very un-scout-like crap. So, tonight we get together and discuss ramifications for their behavior. :-) Teenagers never change do they? It's just funny because the stuff they did, they would NEVER have considered if either I or any of the more experienced scout leaders were there. Silly kids, tricks are for rabbits!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I went back to the Doctor yesterday. I was hoping he'd let me take off this damn brace and get back to running today. No such luck, I'm afraid.

He wants me to keep the brace on for two more weeks before he'll let me start running. He wants to give the fracture six full weeks of healing before I start pounding the pavement again. (sigh) He was certain that I'd be 100% to go for next month's drill and couldn't understand why I was so disappointed. I didn't go into the long explanation with him, just said "No problem." Well, it IS a problem. Two weeks from now will give me less than ten days to get back into running shape before the next drill. That is nowhere near enough time to get back to where I was before I got hurt. It's not that big a deal I guess, it's not like I'm shipping to Basic this month or anything but I really don't want to fail a PT test, ya know? Ah well, I'll do what I can . . .

One of the cadre at last drill (a SFC, actually) gave me a paper that has a three day weight loss program on it. I'm gonna give it a try I think. I know I've spoken against "dieting" on here a lot but It's been almost three months now and I haven't dropped a single pound. I have to do something . . . it's not even a health issue at this point, it's just practicality. I need to drop as much weight as possible before BCT, for the simple fact that the less I have to carry around and push up/down, the easier it will be on my old bones. I'm in the best shape I've been in for twenty years at this point and I can (probably) pass my APFT test as I stand (well, not the two-mile run but that'll be back soon) I know though that if I can dump another thirty lbs. I'll do more than just "pass" I'll do well on it and that's what I want. It'll also make it a lot easier for me to stay healthy and uninjured throughout my IET if I get rid of it. And - to be 100% honest - I won't feel like such a fat loser standing next to all those muscled 18 year old kids who only have 2% body fat!!! :-)

The Boy is off at summer camp with the Scouts right now. (I usually go with, but with all the time I'll be taking off work soon, I had to skip this year.) He called last night and I got the low down on how he's doing. I was really happy to hear that he was kicking ass working his Rock Climbing Merit Badge. The Boy is not a big fan of heights and he was very nervous about doing it. He told me that he almost quit as he got near the top but he sucked it up and drove on, reaching the top of his climb, even though he was scared as hell. I can't tell you how proud that made me! Honest to God, is there anything more you could ask of your kid than that? Just being willing to push past their fears for no other reason than they want to? I was grinning ear to ear when I passed the phone over for him to talk to The Wife.

Speaking of The Wife, she was in a car accident the other day. Nothing major, but she is feeling sore as hell in the neck, shoulders and back. She was stopped at the exit to a parking lot, waiting to turn out into the street when the dumbass slammed her from behind. The other car didn't do major damage but the hit must have been pretty solid - it actually dislodged The Wife's radio from its mounting bracket! Like I said, she's fine but sore. We'll give it another day or two and if the soreness doesn't ease up, I'll make her go see a doctor.

Other than that, it's all good . . .


Monday, July 28, 2008

RSP Drill #2

Well, for starters: I did NOT get hurt this month so that's a major plus! :-)

I got to the armory around 0800 on Sat. morning (About 45 minutes early actually, but I'm a bit anal that way.) wearing full ACU's and ready to rock. Thank God I had a cover! The sun was brutal on Saturday. We started off by filling out what cadre calls a "vulcan" report that shows any problems or issues the new soldier has had since last drill. I had two: the ankle, and the fact that I haven't been paid for the first RSP drill yet. The ankle was no big thing, they were already aware of that but the pay issue meant spending time with the finance officer later that afternoon. Turns out somebody had entered an incorrect code for my service status into the DOD system. They have me marked as a "Special" candidate which means I'm SF, ROTC, or entering OCS. Now, as y'all know, I'm none of these things. I did tell the officer though that if they really wanted to give me the rank, I'd be happy to ship off to OCS at their earliest convenience. He thought that was funny as hell. Sadly, I'm still just a lowly PFC and he's going to change my code so I get the cash. I gather it's not a simple process though because he couldn't do it then and there online. No rush really, it ain't like I'm desperate for the little bit of cash I get from drilling (in case you're wondering: being in the NG doesn't pay all that well!) If you follow that link and look at the first chart, look up the pay for an E-3 with under 2 years TIS and take into consideration that's BEFORE taxes and insurance deductions. it's a labor of love, folks! :-)

The first day was pretty casual, we were helping the first time guys get all their paperwork squared away and getting some class time on things like EO (Equal Opportunity) and IG (Inspector General) issues and legalities. We also spent time drawing linens, etc. for the our bunks and doing a little bit of D&C (Drill and Ceremony - marching, about face, etc.) That night we had a shake down in the barracks that ate up all our personal time. They weren't really looking for anything, it was more of a punishment because we had a jackass in the platoon. Our Platoon Guide (PG) is an 18 year old kid from the NG Youth Challenge Program. He's a great kid and puts forth a lot of effort. Well, he drew some negative attention from an officer - a Lieutenant- over a simple mistake and got badly smoked for it. He took it like a man and when it was done, the LT pulled him aside to tell PG that he'd acted like a solid leader by not trying to cover up his mistake and taking the heat without complaint. The LT started giving him some tips on leadership in general, and he told PG to have us "Fall out". Well, normally, when we're told to fall out, it's followed by a location, or instructions, as in: "Fall out to the barracks" or "Fall out and form ranks in front of the DFAC." Well, PG was a little nervous what with the LT hovering over his shoulder and he just called for us to "Fall Out!" Most of us did just that, taking a step backward, then milling about in a group (which cadre calls a "gaggle-fuck" . . . too funny!) waiting for some idea of what to do next. The jackass though, calls out: "Where the fuck are we supposed to fall out to?"

As you can imagine, the LT lost his frikkin' mind.

He called us back to attention and asked the person who said it to step forward. Well, it turns out the jackass was also a coward because he wouldn't step up to take the heat. We didn't know who it was either because it was already dark, so no one could specifically identify who'd said it. The cadre came out and saw the LT dressing us down for lack of Integrity and they were about to kill us but the LT asked them not to. Instead, he pointed out that a group with such low integrity might do anything. Might even bring contraband onto his base. The Sgt's. smiled at that and I knew we were screwed. They sent us back to barracks and proceeded to spend the next two hours having us tear apart all our personal gear and shake it out in front of them for inspection to make sure we didn't have anything we weren't supposed to. Luckily, they put a box in the center of the room and gave us a five minute "amnesty" period to put anything we wanted in there, no questions asked. I was amazed at how many people brought cigarettes, lighters, condoms (WTF???) even pocket knives to drill, even though we've been warned a dozen times those are forbidden. They didn't find anything else but they chewed up all our personal time for the day and left us a huge mess to clean afterward. Want to know the sit thing? Even after it was over and all the cadre gone, the jackass wouldn't own up, even to his fellow soldiers.


Sunday was killer PT - for everyone except me. It was thunder/lightning so we stayed inside the armory doing circuit training. Cadre set up six exercise stations, where recruits would do a specific exercise for two minutes before moving on to the next. In between, they'd periodically yell "GO-Go-Go!!" and they'd have to sprint laps around the room. We did this for over an hour and it was brutal. I felt like a complete schmuck standing there while my fellow soldiers were busting ass. I did grab water bottles and move around the room taking swapping them out for empties to keep my battle buddies hydrated, but I would have preferred to be working with them. (Yea, I'm kind of a dumbass that way!) Actually, we had three/four people puke because they chugged the water too fast while working out like that. Nasty, but they were all fine in a few minutes.

The worst part of the weekend was a smoking we received just before lunch. We knew it was coming (We hadn't done anything but cadre is NOT letting a day go by without smoking us!) and it would have been just a minor event except people have a tough time listening. They had us down and doing push ups. All we had to do was follow the Sgt's. count and do them in cadence(everyone down/up at the same time) but we just couldn't seem to get that done so he had us pushing for ten minutes straight. When he finally called us to our feet, people kept screwing up again! When you recover, you come to the position of Attention. This means you DO-NOT-FRIKKIN-MOVE!!!!! People could not get that through their head. They kept wiping sweat out of their eyes, dirt off their hands, adjusting their blouse and looking around. Every time they did, it was back down to push out another ten. It must have been 110+ in the sun and I looked like I'd just stepped out of the shower by the time we were done.

Now, here's the sad thing: reading this, you probably think my weekend sucked, huh? Nope. I had a friggin blast! Those of us on our second drill are learning to work as a team and look out for each other. I had one private I'd never met stop me and point out a problem with my uniform that would have gotten me smoked, and I stopped another private from accidentally breaking a unit formation in front of two SSG's and a MSG. He was grateful as hell and thanked me for saving his ass but I pointed out to him that, since I was his Battle Buddy at the time, it would have been both our asses! The Wife asked me yesterday why BB's are needed and that's the best explanation I can come up with: it teaches you to always have an eye out for your fellow soldiers. Good training if you ask me.

I can't wait for next month. I should be 100% again and ready to train with my Battles. Hooah!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quick and Dirty

Bit of a crazy week, so I’ll keep this post short.

Ankle’s doing well – strangely, the only thing that really hurts is on top of the foot (away from the break) when I stretch the foot out to full extension . . . kinda pulling the heel up & toes down, ya’ know? It burns across the top of the foot something fierce. I imagine it’s scar tissue or just a really tight ligament or something. I keep stretching it slowly so it doesn’t heal that way permanently.

So, this coming weekend is a drill weekend. I’ve already let the cadre know about the ankle so that shouldn’t be an issue but I’m kinda bummed about not being 100%. Luckily, I’m still considered Red Phase (entry level) so there’s still a lot of classroom and paperwork stuff I need to do so it won’t really be keeping me from doing anything cool. I should only have to stay out of the running on Sunday a.m. I picked up all my name tape and patches for my ACU last week and put them on. The uniform looks so much better now that it has my name on the front and the U.S. ARMY tape and flag on. I even sprung for my own cover (hat) because they didn’t have one big enough for my melon. Better to spend a few bucks out of pocket than stand out in the summer sun all day with my bald head exposed! I got a lovely burn last month and spent a week peeling. Lemme tell ya: a peeling bald head is NOT a pretty sight!

Like I said – keeping this short. I may not get to post again this week, but I’ll definitely update y’all after the weekend.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

No Worries

One of the biggest worries I had about joining the NG was how my work was going to react. Oh, I knew all about the USERRA act and all the protections offered to reservists under the law but let's face it: if your employer wants to make grief for you, they certainly can. Now, I've been at the same company for over six years now and I know the folks I work for pretty well, so I was confident they'd take the announcement alright but one can never be sure, ya' know? The Wife was in a major panic over this of course. she was certain that they were going to fire me the moment I told them. I explained to her that they couldn't do that, even if they got pissed at me but when The Wife's in worry mode, stress trumpeth logic every time!

When I had the conversation with my supervisor, she was really supportive. She thought it was a great thing for me to do and she saw all the potential positives right away. (It pays when your direct report is the head of H.R. They're definitely better at seeing positives than most folks!) We talked about it for an hour or so and she said she'd bring it up to the President of the company and let me know what his reactions/concerns were. She got back to me a week later to say that he'd been surprised and a bit concerned about how my workload would be covered while I was gone but overall, he was very supportive of the idea and he also saw the possible benefits it could bring to the company. Again, working for H.R. helped here I think. My boss and I had already discussed a plan to address those concerns before she talked to the President. We had a temporary replacement picked out, a training program for him, and some concepts on how having someone else to work with me could benefit the company in the long term.

So, today, on my way over to the cafeteria to grab lunch, I found myself walking alongside the President and chatting with him. I made a point of thanking him for being supportive and understanding what I was doing. He shook my hand, congratulated me on the decision because he feels it's "Important for the county." and told me not to worry about anything, they'd still be here when I got back. He also told me to be "Damn careful if you wind up deployed anywhere, we need you back in one piece!" It was nice to hear straight from him that the firm would support what I was doing. Nice to know that it's not always just about profits, ya' know? Actually, I knew that about my firm beforehand. That's why I'm still here after six years. I've been with other places that would (and did!) cut my knees out beneath me for their own convenience. The company I'm at has always been good about working around my personal needs/problems. Hell, the position I have now they made up for me when The Wife had her second round of cancer so that I'd have time to spend with her. Of course, I like to think I took it and ran with it - it's now a major part of how we work here and folks think well of me. Still, it's nice to know that I have solid folks behind me who support what I'm doing. it's one less thing to have to worry about while I'm training and/or deployed.

Ankle's healing nicely. I'm walking two or so miles every day and it doesn't hurt when I do. Still some limited flexibility on it but I should be back to my usual routine the first week of August so that'll be good. I'm dreading how much it's going to hurt (general breathing-wise, not the ankle) when I get back to running after such a long break. It took me ages to get to a point where running was merely difficult and not agonizing. i imagine I'll be starting back at agony again. Ah well, such is life.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Good Weekend

Ah, Monday. Ya know, I don't hate them the way I used to. Sure, I'll still take a solid Sunday afternoon over a Monday morning any day but overall . . . they're not nearly as tough to face as they were once upon a time. You think Monday's learning better behavior, or maybe my attitude has gotten better? Me, have a bad attitude?? NAHHH! I'm betting Monday's just trying to get itself better press . . .

The weekend was good. Saturday morning, The Boy and I did a car wash fundraiser with the Boy Scouts. They're raising money for a very cool high-adventure trip next summer so we've been running lots of fundraisers. I was supposed to be the adult leader for this trip but, alas, I will still be training at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas when the boys depart. I'm due back a few weeks after they split. Bit of a bummer actually, it's going to be a great tripe and I was looking forward to it. Anyway, the boys worked hard, had fun, and earned themselves over $50 each. Not too shabby for a few hours of work. Saturday afternoon, we headed to a HS graduation party for one of my nieces (don't ask how old THAT makes me feel!) It was a great afternoon. We got to hang with my side of the family, something that we don't get to do too often. It was the first time I'd seen any of them since joining the NG and I had to tell them. My mom was there, so of course I had to tell her first, two of my brothers were there when I did and next thing I knew it was the primary topic of conversation! Have to say, I was surprised by their reactions. Most of them were really supportive. Even my mother thought it was a good thing - at least at first. :-) The more she thought about it, the more she realized that I could be deployed, etc. and she got a little worried. Over all though, the consensus seemed to be that my decision was a good one. I think The Wife was disappointed . . . she was sure she'd get more people to side with her on the "You're an asshole!" side of the fence. Sorry, babe!

Sunday was a quiet, lay-around-on-my-ass, kinda day. (Of course, The wife says that's EVERY day for me . . .) We went out for a nice brunch as a family, then The Boy had friends over for the day while The Wife and I hung out and watched some movies. Well . . . The Wife did get up and do all the housework in between, whilst I continued warming the couch cushions with my big ol' butt, so I guess she did a bit more than me.

As I said, a good weekend.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ankle

So, I saw the doctor and got the results of my X-rays. Turns out the damn foot is fractured after all! It's what they call an avulsion fracture. The ligament that runs from the ankle to the plate on top of my foot got pulled (duh!) when I twisted the ankle and it pulled a chunk of bone out of the foot. Good thing is, there was no real damage to the ligament itself, so all I have to do is keep the brace on the ankle for another three weeks and it will heal on its own. It's actually feeling a lot better now. It's still a bit stiff of course and I can only bend it so far in either direction without feeling a bit of pain but I can walk normally, bear weight on it with no problem, etc. I just have to be careful with any kind of hard impact stuff or twisting it again (hence the brace!)

Crappy part is that I can't do any of the physical stuff for this month's drill. I already spoke with the SSgt. and he said not to worry about it. He was more interested in making sure I was alright and not in any pain. Nice guy - he kept telling me how sorry he was that I got hurt. I will have to stop by the base sometime next week with all the paperwork from the Dr. so they can have a formal record of everything that happened. I already filled out all the necessary paperwork on the Army side the day it happened but they want copies of what I did with the Doctor as well. The SSgt. pointed out it was best to document everything, that way if there are complications of any type down the road (I can't imagine there will be!) then I can prove that I got hurt while on duty for insurance/benefits purposes. Still, it can't hurt to document and the base is only 10 minutes from home, so . . .

So, I feel like a dumb-ass for getting hurt my first time out (much to The Wife's glee!) but I'll be 100% good to go for the August drill. I've been working out every day -sans running- trying to max my push-ups & sit-ups. The Dr. also gave me the okay to at least walk a few miles in the mornings (as long as I have the brace on!) so I can at least get SOME aerobic work in. I can also swim, so I'll have to see what I can do in that respect. Luckily, all my other exercises aren't affected by the ankle so that's a good thing.

Still having a bitch of a time losing the last 20-25 lbs. of weight I want to dump. I really need to drop it before I ship to BCT but it just don't wanna move! It's been 4-5 months now and I haven't lost anything. I'm eating light/healthy and working out five days per week but it's not helping. The first 90 lbs. came off without too much hassle but man, this last bit's killing me! Well, I AM adding muscle so I guess it's moving somehow but I'm still technically over my weight limit. I got taped at the last drill and My neck had grown by 1" and my waist had dropped 1-1/4" so I've got a lower body fat % but it will go much easier on me if I can get under the weight limit so I don't have to keep getting measured. I really only need to drop 15 lbs. to meet the standard charts but I would love to get under the 200 lbs. mark before I ship. Every ounce I drop will make the training that much easier, ya' know?

Other than that, things are good. Work is busy and home life is rollin' along just fine. I'm feeling good about myself (other than the dumb-ass broken ankle thing!) and actually learning to enjoy my morning work outs, which -for me- is something I NEVER thought would happen. My whole life, I avoided exercise/work/sweating like the plague. My old man loved to tell people that I believed "Manual Labor" was the name of the Mexican guy who cut our lawn. I find that I like being outside running (or walking!) when the dawn is just tipping the horizon. I like the quietness of the streets and only hearing the sound of my own breath and a few chirping birds. I like the feel of my own sweat covering my body like a second skin (something that I used to absolutely hate!) Even the burning muscles are starting to feel good - it's a sign that I'm doing it right. I especially like the feeling I get after I'm done. The rest of the day seems easy and I feel solid -inside and out- because I've already taken care of myself before I do anything.

One other thing I really like is that I take a quick 15 minute power nap on the couch each morning after I've cooled down/cleaned up a bit. It lets me relax all those strained muscles and it's always a really DEEP sleep. When I get up to go to work, I feel fantastic: totally rested and ready to kick the day's ass! :-) Yup, there's still a bit of lazy left inside me (well, okay . . . a LOT!) and I ain't ashamed to say so!


Monday, July 07, 2008

What I Learned

Hey, folks!

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend. Mine was good: had all the nieces and nephews spend the weekend, so that was cool. The Boy digs his cousins quite a bit and they're all really good kids so I'm always glad when they come by. We did some fireworks, a bit of BBQ, some swimming (Not for me though, ankle was still wrapped up!) played some cards & board games, watched some movies, even ran out for some ice cream. A good holiday all around. It's interesting, there's a big age gap in the kids: from 6 - 15 years old. The Wife and I play with the little ones and try to let the older kids do their own thing, ya' know? They like hanging together and doing the whole teen angst/texting/hating the parents thing (Not really on the last. Like I said, all good kids.)

Well, the ankle is feeling MUCH better! I kept it wrapped through the weekend, per Doctor's orders and I'm using a clunky-ass brace whenever I have to walk on it. I'm also taking pills to reduce swelling, which have worked wonders. It's back to normal size now, with only a small bit of puffiness at the ankle itself. Last week, the entire damn foot was swollen to at least double normal size and the bruising made me look like I had leprosy or something. I head back to the Dr. tomorrow to get the results of the X-Rays. I'm certain nothing's broken at this point but I'll let him tell me that and see where we go from there. I'll let ya' know what he says.

So, I promised to fill you in on some of the stuff I learned at my first RSP drill. It all seemed hectic as hell at the time and I wasn't sure I was being taught anything at times but I have to say i picked up a lot of stuff just by following along and "doing" instead of being taught. (Which, BTW is exactly what the Sergeants said would happen!) So let's see . . .

(Sorry, but I'm gonna actually type some of this out instead of just linking, cuz it'll help my senile old ass remember it!)

I learned my General Orders:

1. I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.
2. I will obey my special orders and perform all my duties in a military manner.
3. I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions to the Commander of the Relief.

(Warning to any new military folks seeing this: these are typed from my faulty memory, not taken from any official site, so there's a possibility I may have screwed up, so double check!)

I learned the Seven Army Values (LDRSHIP):

Selfless Service
Personal Courage

I learned to tell time military style. I learned the phonetic alphabet. I learned the Soldier's Creed (actually, I'm still working on this, but I've got most of it down!) and the Warrior Ethos. I learned the proper ways to address everyone from a Private to a General. I learned ow to report to an officer, as well as an NCO. I learned that you call a room to "Attention!" whenever an officer of a rank higher than the officer already in the room walks in, and to "At Ease!" when an NCO of higher rank walks in. I learned how to stand at Attention, Parade Rest, At Ease and Rest. I learned that "Cherry Pickers" are the most painful exercise know to man (and look deceptively simple!)

What else? Hmmm . . .

I learned that you had better shave EVERY morning (trying to do it the night before will get your ass smoked!) I learned that being a loud SOB actually plays to my benefit in the Army (Yay! For once, no one told me to use my "indoor voice"!) I learned that Army Sergeants may be the funniest SOB's on the face of the Earth. I learned that Army desert boots are the most comfortable shoes known to man. I learned that I have got a TON of stuff still to learn!

Best of all, I learned that I really am capable of doing this. (Ya' know, once my damn ankle heals . . . sigh.)