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.)