Friday, December 22, 2006

Bah Humbug


I used to really like Christmas.

Even last year, buried in the desert under millions of tons of blowing sand and dust, away from my family in a weird world, I still like Christmas.

Growing up, I always envisioned having kids at Christmas would only make it better. I guess I was wrong.

This season has essentially been a disaster. Rather than a holiday spent getting together with family and friends, buying presents and getting cool stuff, and genrally being happy it's been a month of stress, rushing, and just not getting anything done. My plan was to have everything wrapped and ready by last weekend--instead we drove 1999.8 (I thought about driving around the block but was too tired) miles in 63 hours and went to a TKD testing that took all day Saturday. At one point or another, everyone in the house has been sick this month, which resulted in me getting the lights up two weeks late. On that note...

Why is it that it takes me an hour of playing with little lightbulbs to figure out that the damn things only cost $2 new? I eventually got a half-assed version of Christmas decor up and running, and after the remaining boxes sat out for another week and a half I just accepted that they weren't going to get put up so I put the boxes away.

When you couple the schedule we normally have with the additional pressures of getting this done and sent out for the holidays it just made for a miserable month. Maybe next year will be better.

Anyway--that's why I haven't been posting. Averaging 5 hours of sleep a night isn't helping much. Hopefully in the New Year I'll get back to doing this, but I wouldn't be surprised if Desert Odyssey just eventually went away.

Vacation starts for me in about 2 hours. I'm looking forward to ctahing up. I hope everyone that didn't get a cards from us has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Recap


What a weekend.

To start with, I had picked up whatever disease Princess had gotten from school and spread it throughout the house. Cowboy used to get sick all the time, probably since he was born so small. Conversely, since Odie was the first fully-cooked monkey, he hasn't been sick at all in the last 8 months. Well, that changed this weekend. We thought he might have croupe for a little while, but he was just sick. Like sleep no more than 20 minutes at a shot sick. Made for an interesting weekend.

Cleaned the house. Almost completely. We were way over our weight limit with the last move, to the tune of $1200 that we had to pay back to the military. Our mission in life is to slim down so much that it's no longer a factor.

Bought Daughtry's new CD. I am by no means an American Idol fan, but the one show I watched last season had this guy on it and he absolutely rocks. Not sure why he was booted--his music (and the CD) are just awesome. Go buy it. Now.

Managed to survive the weekend with only a pound or two gained. That's huge. We actually ran--twice. I feel horrible for SW, because no matter how hard she tries she isn't losing a pound.

Went to see "Happy Feet." It wasn't what I expected, but it was still a very good movie. Pretty political for an animated flick. Great music, though.

That's about it. All in all a good weekend.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Bathtime Monkey Business


Who says toys don't have minds of their own?




Photo Update



This is the "kid crowd" from the visit we had at Odie's baptism (minus the infants). We had a total of 10 people in the house at once--first time we've managed to get everyone to come by the Lucky Ranch at the same time. With the Arizona heat, these pumpkins were mush in about 24 hours.










Here's the whole crowd at Ben's baptism. How do you like me and Cowboy's first suits?









The monkies in their halloween outfits. Princess was a pirate and Cowboy was his latest rage, a Power Ranger. They both won "Best Costume" in their classes. Of course, Princess lost a lot of her acessories that day at school, so we had to improvise for the actual trick-or-treating.









This is just a foray into my photography skills. Until I get a better camera this is about as good as it'll get.














He has to be the most photgenic kid I've ever seen. And to think we were scared off from the modelling agency by a bunch of skinny teens practicing their "walk down the catwalk" in the lobby outside the reception area.






Cowboy the first time he put his sparring gear on. I've written a lot about his endless pursuit of joining "Black Belt CLub," in which he gets to spar, on my other blog. To say that he was excited about getting in is an understatement. The gear is too big for his little body--he's the smallest in the class--but he has held his own so far.





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So Long, Spanky


We lost a member of our family last night.

Spanky was a chinese pug that my wife had with her in her early days in the Air Force, and then passed on to her mother when she was assigned to Germany, where we met. He was an ornery old bastard, but was loved very much by my wife and mother-in-law. He lived a long life--making it all the way to 16 years. In the past year or so his health has been on a steady decline, and it took a big turn for the worse in the past month. We've been expecting him to go any day, and he died in his sleep last night.

He's probably marking his territory in dog heaven right now.

We'll probably replace him, as he was Koda's best friend. Hopefully with a dog that was a little less ornery and one that gets along with me and the monkies.

Rest in peace, puppy. You'll be missed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Emphasis


You ever notice how what you emphasize in a sentence can completely change its meaning?

"I didn't screw your sister."

"I didn't screw your sister."

"I didn't screw your sister."

"I didn't screw your sister."


Christmas List


I'm ready to get once of these.

The camera I got when I got back from the desert just sucks, and it doesn't make me feel any better that I spent $290 to get iut. I read Photographica all the time, and have always been jealous of the pictures that people can take with SLR cameras--it's just that $1000 price tag kinda gets in the way. It doesn't help much that I'm in a tug-of-war with our decade-old credit card debt that I'm hoping to have paid off by the time we leave Tucson. I think this is one lusting that will have to wait.

For Christmas I think I'm going to get my Ring again. This is considered the most prized posession of any Citadel grad, and mine was lost in the mail by UPS (U People Suck) a few years ago. That was the Ring that I was given in Summerall Chapel in October of 1993, surrounded by my brothers with tears in my eyes. It became a matter of principal for me to not replace it, since I considered it irreplaceable. But I miss it--real bad. So I think it's time. I'm going to send the paperwork off this week.

The sad thing is that I see these on eBay all the time, either by scumbags that find Rings (in say, a UPS warehouse) or by disgruntled grads who need money.

I wonder if it will settle the dreams that I have once a week of being back there. I am a little excited because Montgomery (if it's still there after the tornados yesterday) is only seven hours away from Charleston. Maybe I can go there for Parent's weekend or something and show the monkies the inside of the barracks. The last time I set foot on the campus there was the day I graduated.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jackster's Blog


My nephew has a blog.

Granted, he's only 8 months old--but the kid can write for someone so young.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Issues


I truly do miss blogging. Trouble's disappearance from the blogosphere (relocation, actually) was a slight wakeup call for me. I used to have so much to talk about, and now the only stuff that goes on around my life these days is family stuff that I don't really care to share with the world.

Politics? It makes me sick to my stomach and I feel as if I'm just rehashing old arguments. Daily I am flabberghast that these overpaid, overrich buffoons are running our country.

Military? Ok, that's going relatively well recently. The job I have is still kind of rediculous, but the future is certainly bright right now. It's looking like the family will be going with me, mother-in-law included.

Tae Kwon Do? Still going well--but I started a whole blog on that subject by itself.

Writing. I have had a novel, or at least a god story, buried away for so long. I read Paperback Writer and am jealous beyond reason that she can do that. Honestly, I can feel characters in my head trying to get out. I just don't have a story to let them.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Air Command and Staff College


Yesterday I got an email that changed my life and its direction forever.

In order to progress in the Air Force, the system requires that you check certain boxes along your career. One of those boxes is to become an Instructor Pilot in a major weapon system--in my case, the C-130. My first C-130 assignment was to Yokota Air Base, in Tokyo, Japan. To those of you that have been reading for a while, you know that my tour in Japan was miserable, and I cashed in every chip I had to get out of there and come back to the US. I had an instructor school slot for the summer of 2001, in my last year at Yokota. At the same time they were looking for volunteers to go teach at Pilot Training. I turned my slot in, left the box unchecked, and left Japan.

The last thing my assignment officer told me was that he hoped I udnerstood that I would never be promoted above the rank of Major.

The following three years were the best of my career. I not only excelled as an instructor, but I loved it with all of my heart. I quickly advanced through the ranks of command in the squadron, and left there after three years as a Major to go do my staff tour at my current assignment. By taking the staff job, I ensured that I would never fly the C-130 again, and that box would never get checked.

Another box to check is called "Developmental Education." During your years as a Captain, you are required to attend Squadron Officer's School, a five-week course at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Another option is to do it in correspondence, but those who do that are rolling the dice on making Major. For the most part, pilots are guaranteed a slot to attend the course in residence. Those who go generally are promoted, those who don't have a shot, but it is considerably less than those who go in person. When you become a Major, your next Developmental Education course is Air Command and Staff College. I completed mine in correspondence almost immediately, because the chances of me going in residence were so small (due to my lack of an Instructor qualification in the C-130) that I was hoping getting it out of the way would increase my eligibility for Lieutenant Colonel. I applied for acceptance to the full ten-month college, but those slots are usually reserved for "fast burners" who are on their way to Colonel ranks. Without the IP box checked, and without the in-residence box checked, my chances of promotion were about 10%.

My current job is a career graveyard. Over the past two years I had come to accept that I was at the pinnacle of my career, and that my next assignment would likely be my last. I came into work yesterday after taking a week off to celebrate Odie's Baptism and checked my email.

I worked backwards, for some reason, from the most recent to the oldest. As I plowed through the 100 or so emails, I kept coming across congratulatory messages from friends I hadn't heard from for a while. I sped up, and eventually found what they were talking about. It was an email from the Air Command and Staff College.

I got in.

The promotion rate to Lieutenant Colonel for pilots who have graduated from ACSC is 98%.

In one email my career went from being pretty much over to pretty successful.

There are catches, of course. It is a 10-month class. You get a Master's Degree at the end of it. You have to learn how to speak a foreign language. And you have to live in Montgomery, Alabama. I have a wife and three kids.

I really don't have a burning desire to shove my kids into a school for one year, nor do I feel like forcing SW to give up her job here and move into an apartment for a year. So it's starting to look like they'll stay here while I go to school. We're still not quite sure how that will work out.

I don't know how, in a million years, I got accepted. I put my chances at about one in a hundred when I applied. There are questions as to what will happen afterwards--as to whether or not I will be flying again or be a staff weenie for the rest of my career.

But for now--I'm pretty friggin' happy.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Something Needs to Change


A Hawai'i-based Marine is among 11 U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq over the past two days, officials said.

The Multinational Division-West headquarters in Iraq said the Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained in western Anbar Province.

Marine Corps Base Hawai'i confirmed that the Marine was with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette newspaper in Massachusetts reported that 2nd Lt. Joshua L. Booth, 23, of Sturbridge, Mass., was killed by a sniper in Haditha, northwest of Baghdad.

Booth was married and had a 1-year-old daughter, Grace, and another child on the way, the newspaper said. Booth was a graduate of The Citadel in South Carolina, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in May 2005, the Telegram & Gazette said.

From the Honolulu Advisor

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Woe to my Home State


This is ridiculous.

Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Pretty soon recess will be eliminated altogether.

We don't need to get rid of any and every possible chance of something happening that could result in a lawsuit. We need to elect judges that have an ounce of common sense to eliminate these completely frivolous lawsuits. That's why I came close to voting for Kerry just to get Edwards' foot in the door.

You know who ends up paying for this completely asinine decision? The kids, who will probably have padded hopscotch games soon.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Princess


Princess has finally learned to ride her bike.

While I was gone SW became a woman on a mission, and come hell or high water she was going to get Princess (the biggest wuss on the planet) to ride her bike without the training wheels on it. At seven years old, it was time.

She managed to finally get her to go down a short hill. And then a short distance. And then, using the motivation that I would soon be home and that she had to be ready to show me, she finally took off and rode around the circumference of the park where she was learning.

And right into a tree.

Back to square one.

Fast forward to this weekend, when we finally convinced her to try again, and with a little practice she was not only up and running, we couldn't stop her. She looks funny with her little daisy-imprinted helmet on, and at her age her posture is still perfect so it forces you to hum the theme from "Wizard of Oz" when the witch is riding her bicycle in the beginning. It's great to see her having so much fun, but it made me think of the difference between her world now and mine when I was a kid.

She'll never have the joy that I had when I was riding my bike. With the world today, she'll never have the complete freedom that I felt when I would just get on my bike in the mroning with my biddies and go. Or how cool I thought it was when I would pack a lunch in my backpack and go have a picnic somewhere by myself and not come back for hours. And I lived in the city.

The first time she'll have that complete and beautiful freedom will be when she gets a car, since I will always live in a constant fear of what will happen to her if she's gone out of my knowledge for more than a few minutes. And I wonder what that will do to this generation--delaying that level of independence for so long due to fear.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy watching her feel good about herself wobbling around a safe park with me and SW watching, and try desperately to hold on to this little girl while she still lets me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Halloween Scare


As much as I love Spring, I love this time of year around here.

Sweatshirts, cool breezes, and mid-80's weather during the warmest part of the day really improve the mood. We don't get the foliage change I had growing up in New England, so I miss that, and the BoSox didn't even make the post-season so baseball is over, but beyond that it's just a good time of year.

I really dig Halloween, too. Especially now that there's monkies involved. Princess is forgoing her normal Princess theme and going as a Pirate. She actually found one on Amazon and fell in love with it, but when it came down to it it was too "skimpy" for me. We went (much to her chagrin) with one from a store here.

I am seriously not looking forward to her teenage years.

When I was 13 we moved from the city out into the suburbs. This was back when the developments you see today that go up in a week was unheard of. Each house in our development was built to completion, one at a time. Ours was the first one there. So, when we moved in in August of 1985, everything outside was very, very, dark. No streetlights. No traffic. No other people.

Around halloween I spent a Saturday watching the entire trilogy of the Amityville Horror. Spooky stuff. If you have seen it, Jody is an imaginary friend of the little girl who lives in the house. In reality, Jody is the devil in the form of a pig demon-thing. In one scene you see two glowing eyes outside the window of the little girl's room on the second floor.

I was reading in my room late that night. We had just gotten our first real family pet, a black mutt named Pepper. She had her dog tags on and made a quiet jingle whenever she waddled around. I had my bedside light on and was actually reading a scary book late at night. I heard a jingle-jingle from the hallway outside my door and looked up. Nothing.

I flipped through a couple of more pages and heard the noise again from the hallway. I nervously called out to the dog, thinking she was out there. Since she was jet-black, I couldn't see her in the dark outside my door. Just then she opened her eyes. The light from my bedisde table caught her just right so that her eyes did that animal thing where the insides light up in relfection. That's all I saw.

I almost fell out of my bed.

I slept with the lights on that night.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Foley


I'm tired of this.

Do I think he's a bad man? Yep. Do I think he should be investigated and punished if found guilty? Yep. Do I think it should be the top story across the nation?

Nope.

The only reason that this is still riding high is because of the elections. At the very least the Democrats, if they're leading this charge, are taking pot-shots back at the GOP. But it still comes around to the single-most reason that I am disgusted with our political system, that the people that are elected next month will be so due to the fact that some weirdo in FL sent text messages to a 16 year old kid.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

New Guys


Looks like I finally have some work.

After six months of trying to get a group of enlisted guys to be re-assigned under me, I finally succeeded. These guys had been floundering under their old leadership, with essentially noone watching out for them. It took a while, and a lot of convincing, but I eventually won the battle. What I had handed to me was a Cell that had been decimated by cuts over the past couple of years, is severly undermanned and overworked, and in the cellar as far as morale is concerned. I find it only slightly humorous when they get a quizzical look on their face when I ask how they're doing. I guess it's been a while since someone actually cared for them.

The only downside to this is that I have a lot of work to do to get them back up to a functional unit. I may just end up making the decision to recommend disbanding the unit altogether and reassign them to other places, where they can be more effective and allow their careers to blossom.

But not yet.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Back Again


Ok, I'm back. Officially this time.

You would think that five weeks away would give you all kinds of time to blog, but I just never had the desire. Maybe it's the thought of sitting at my computer at work that suddenly makes one start looking for blogs, which directly leads to me start thinking of writing again. We'll see how this works out.

Things are going relatively well--I just got off the best week of Odie's life for me, with me playing housewife and SW working while I spent the week at home with the monkies. Unless he was asleep, Odie was either in my arms or in a backpack that we bought strapped behind me. We have a lot of company coming in in a couple of weeks so cleaning was high on the priority list, plus we're thinking of getting a housekeeper and we wanted her to start off with a clean house. So I strapped Odie onto my back and dusted blinds, went through boxes that I've already gone through and threw out more stuff. The whole time he just sat there, curious, peering over my shoulder and taking it all in. When he would get tired we'd lay down for a nap. All in all, a great week.

So, now that I'm back at my miserable desk, plan on seeing more of me. I haven't decided as to whether or not I'm going to do any more reviews--it never really generated much extra traffic and I think it seriously contributed to me completely burning out on blogging. I'll leave that question unanswered for now.

Incidentally, my family and I got addicted (quickly) to this game I found on the internet. It's well worth checking out, but plan on waking up at 2 am when you think of an answer:

M & M Dark Movie Painting

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sirens


As I walked into my hotel room tonight, a fire truck just up the road threw it's lights and siren on.

It wasn't already screaming towards its target--the truck was already cruising down the road when it happened.

I was sticking my key in the door, fresh from a great evening with my classmate's very rich parents. I had just spent the past four hours drinking martini's in a house like none that I have ever been in, nor will ever probably be in again. I was sliding the key into the lock of my warm and safe room, paid for by the US Air Force and clearly safe.

A quaretr mile up the road I heard a siren erupt. I thought of the dispatcher in the station--getting that final urgent call that upgraded whatever engine #3 was doing from a routine checkout to something that required urgency, that required the lights to come on.

I thought of the driver in the truck, or the copilot who took the radio call, who made the decision to speed things up and move along, clearing the road of anyone else. Of the firefighters in the back--who have kids at home and mothers that love them, that tightened their equipment and pulled on their gloves, not knowing who or what they were going after, or how dangerous it was going to be.

I watched as the cars pulled to side of the road, and remembered how cool I always thought that was, and how badass I have always thought a screaming firetruck looks on its way to a mission.

And then I thought of us, the US military--how I wished that things were like that for us when we would go in to fight, how I wished that there were no questions asked, no media to worry about, and no political boundries to worry about breaching. Those firefighters are given a simple call--"go save them"--and they do it, without hesitation or question as to what the reasons are behind the decision to send them into harm's way.

I wish so much that those same rules applied to us--go do your mission, and we'll take the heat from the media. And the american public will be behind you--no matter what. Because they understand that the only reason you are there is because you believe, with every fiber of your being, that you are protecting the same people that those firefighters are screaming down the highway to save.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you?


I was in an jet aircraft on one of my last flights in training to be an Air Force instructor pilot. We had just had an incredible formation flight over south Texas and were looking forward to flying high-G patterns over San Antonio. When we arrived in the pattern, the tower called us up and directed us to land immediately. Pilots don't like to be told what to do. After a few questions about why we were rudely being told to land, we reluctantly threw the gear down and called it a day.

As I walked into the squadron one of my classmates came out to meet me.

"Someone hit the World Trade Center. They think it's an enemy country." I remember, very clearly, thinking that it was the equivalent of Pearl Harbor, that we would soon be at war, and regret in taking a training assignment that would likely keep me out of said war.

When I walked into the building there was a crowd of pilots huddled around a TV watching the two towers burn. My only thought was to call my wife, which I did after putting my chute away and checking in.

Emily was also in the air. She was in the midst of getting her private license on 9/11. On that day she had been tasked to do her first "area solo." What that means is that it was the first time she had flown away from the runway on her own--without an instructor. Things were going just fine until an emergency call came across the radio. An interesting fact is that she was learning how to fly in Waco, Texas--a few miles from the President's Crawford, Texas ranch.

"All aircraft are immediately directed to land."

Emily freaked. Not only did just landing produce a daunting task, but she had to do it now--as fast as she could. Eventually she aquiesced and announced on the radio that she was a student pilot, and the VERY understanding ATC controller talked her back to the airfield.

When I recieved no answer from her phone, I debriefed the sortie. I remember having to convince the instructor that we still needed to finish the training portion of the mission. After maybe five minutes (a typical sortie debrieflasts for an hour) he gave me a perfect score and left. I logged onto the internet and got my first report of the attack, which I'll never forget. It was from AP.

"World Trade Center attacked by aircraft--at least four people killed."

For the next three days we were restricted to the base, immobile and unable to fly. I called the assignment center to see if they needed me to return to my combat unit to fly. I prayed a lot. My sister was due to be married the next weekend, which was subsequently called off and rescheduled because noone could fly. I still have the frame with the original date scratched out and the new date inscribed upon it. But most of all I lived with anger and fury that I wanted to fly and drop good guys on the bad guys wherever they were. It will always live as one of the most frustrating weeks of my life.

The following weekend I drove up to Waco to be with my then two-year old daughter and infant son. I will never forget looking at the skies and not seeing any aircraft, for the first time in my life.

That weekend my wife and I went to a church meeting dealing with the baptism of our son. I will never forget the flags that lined the streets that day, for miles and miles until we got to the church.

On 9/11 I was training to teach others how to defend our Country. Other than standing in the way of those who killed thousands of innocents, I would not have rather been anywhere else.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Distress


I miss my kids.

It's funny what makes me miss them. I went to a tournament this past weekend and watching the kids running around in their uniforms didn't bring pangs to my heart. It could've been my own nerves. A guy in my class flew his family out for the weekend and I watched from the 4th floor as they swam in the pool. That didn't make me miss them much, either. Funny.

Just a few minutes ago I heard a baby crying. Hard. I went out to the balcony and there was a mother on the lawn behind the hotel rocking her baby that was clearly not too happy. The baby's older sister was playing in the grass beside them. My heart broke.

I was watching "Lost" on DVD last night and the baby on the show had some kind of fever and was screaming at the top of his lungs. That made me miss my kids.

SW relayed to me that during his TKD class last night the instructor failed to call on Cowboy fast enough and he left a puddle on the floor. The thought that he waited with his arm raised, instead of getting up to go to the bathroom, coupled with the embarrassment he must've felt, made me miss my son incredibly.

It's funny-I see kids running around and I obviously miss my family, but it's when I see kids in distress that I miss them the most. I'm not sure why.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Goodbye, Summer


I have come to seriously dig this place.

The boats on the dock off my balcony behind the hotel are tied up, the sun is dropping below a hazy horizon. Somewhere nearby fireworks are going off. A crowd of 20-somethings sits around the pool below me sharing a six-pack.

Summer is officially over.

Now the heat will stay for a while, and the humidity here is damn near unbearable compared to the dryness of home. But for all intents and purposes, the summer has dropped her last sunset. This summer kind of flew by for me--when you couple Odie's first months with a trip to St. Louis, a couple of TDY's and the increasingly-demanding TKD schedule we have devoted ourselves to, there aren't many lazy days to just hang around. This was the first summer that we've had as a family that was just a blur.

One year ago, on this coming Friday, I boarded a plane and went to the other side of the planet to defend the country. It seems so long ago yet it seems like yesterday. I can't belive that Odie is five months old.

I womder what life would be like if we lived here. I get the feeling that time goes by just a little slower here. Sure, we'd be dodging hurrcanes all the time, and it doesn't strike me as the best educational center on the planet for kids. But looking out over the sound, with the last rays of sun streaking the sky as Summer tries desperately to hold on to life, I can't believe that this wouldn't be a fantastic place to live.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Hello


I'm still alive.

I'm actually sitting on my balcony overlooking the Fort Walton Beach harbor right now, with a documentary by the Discovery Channel on about 9/11 on the TV through the open door. It reminds me of the long list (and growing) of websites that are against the war on terror--and how crazy, heartless, and insane those people really are. Aiding this is a glass of Captain and Coke sitting beside the laptop.

Down below me are two 20-something hotties having their nightime swim in the condetel pool. They saw me up here and wigged out--running away to, assumably, their rooms, to get ready for a night on the Destin nightclub scene.

On TV, the second tower just collapsed. It kills the hundreds of people that have been dramatized as being alive o the show. On my right, a party boat floats by on its way out to sea, and the company of other boats doing the same thing.

I don't know why I've been away from blogging. I told Trouble that I simply haven't been insipired--and that's mostly true.

A police boat just pulled over another boat in the harbor. I didn't even know that theycould do that.

I think I would like living here. I have come to understand why people risk hurricanes to live here. It is incredibly peaceful--when the ravages of nature aren't taking their toll on the shores of this paradise.

So, yes--I am still alive, and doing just fine. I just haven't been it by the "muse" in quite a while.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Early Morning Weekend Post


It's 6 am on Sunday.

I've been up for 3 hours. Odie has been kind enough to stay up with me. The. Whole. Time.

He's wearing one of the few outfits he has that have been worn by all three monkies. I've been watching the Carolina/Buffalo pre-season game, which I imagine actually ocurred yesterday. It sparked some memories.

I remember doing this same exact thing seven years ago, in a 10 x 10 billeting room in Japan on Yokota Air Base. Princess was only a couple of months old, and SW and I's marriage wasn't much older. The game was on at the same time it is now, except it was live.

Funny how things come full circle.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thank You, Britain


UK! UK! UK! UK! UK!


Thanks, guys.

Thanks for being an awesome ally, awesome friend, and awesome warriors during this world war.

You've stood by us the whole time. Even when that meant that your soldiers would get killed. Even when it meant that bombs would blow up in your subways. Even when it meant that terrorists would launch attacks from your own soil.

Great Britain truly is Great. This world wouldn't be possible without you.

Thank you.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Tournament


Wow what a good time. Make that great time.

I am glad that we didn't sign up to compete, because it was mass chaos for a while there and we had our hands full trying to simultaneously watch both monkies (same division) and manage Odie while this was going on. Of course, everything had calmed down by the time we would have had to go on--but it was nice to just go and watch to get an idea of what happens.

Got there late on Friday night, with just enough time to see the 4th and 5th degree Black Belts compete. Amazing doesn't do them justice. Our form takes about a minute and a half, and that's with me stumbling to remember parts of it. These guys would go for 10 minutes--doing techniques that I couldn't dream of doing. Maybe someday.

Saturday we showed up on time, but it was crazy until we figured out where the monkies were competing at. The opening ceremonies were cool, with a lot of theatrics and finishing with a demo team performance in front of roughly 500 or so people. After the ceremony Princess came up to us terrified--I thought she had just figured out that it was serious and a competition. Come to find out she thought that she was going to have to compete in front of everyone like the demo team. No wonder she chilled out when she saw that she just had to go on a mat in front of about a dozen people.

It was a challenge trying to be superdad and monitor both Cowboy and Princess's events, since they were going on at the same time at opposite ends of the arena. I just parked myself in the middle and waited until one went on. Of course, as I was taping Princess Cowboy stepped out onto the mat, so I just got to see about 30 seconds of his. When Princess was doing her form, the judge that was helping her apparently figured out that she knew what she was doing and stepped back. She was so focused on what she was doing that she just kept going by herself. To say I was proud would be an understatement.

After they were done we watched our classmates compete on the mat that we probably would have been on had we entered. The judges take great pains to get you to relax--at least at this level. We had classmates medal in several areas.

Lastly we went and watched our instructor compete in her Black Belt division. Female twenty-somethings are amazing to watch when they do this stuff. Men are pretty exciting, too, but the women are extremely fast and vicious. She ended up not placing (which is abnormal--she's won a lot of events) but it was awesome to see.

Overall, it was a great weekend. Next stop is the National Tournament in Disney World if we can scrounge up enough money to go.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

One Year


Today's my Bloggoversary.

One year. I honestly can't believe it has been that long.

My first post was about getting my uniforms to deploy to Qatar, and how Cowboy was starting to show some signs that he wasn't ready for Daddy to leave. Katrina was in the Atlantic. And Milblogs were just starting to show up in the blogosphere.

This blog and those of you who have dropped by got me through the desert. You watched as I live-blogged Odie's birth. You've watched through my rants and political dissertations, through my highs and lows of being a father and a military officer, and my journeys over the past year. It has truly, from the bottom of my heart, been a blessing.

What I have gained from this experience has been more than an exercise in writing--it has been an journey into myself and into my own heart, an odyssey across the desert of my spirit, occasionally finding oases along the way.

Thank you for coming along. Thank you for putting up with my overwhelming mood swings and for your support all this time.

It has truly made a difference in my life.

Lucky

Friday, August 4, 2006

Why I Love Baseball


When I was a kid, I wasn't in the "popular crowd." I got bullied a lot, and while I was a good kid, I got made fun of quite a bit. I was a little pudgy, not very athletic, and didn't have a lot of the qualities that kids admire. So I was an easy target when I started playing minor league baseball when I was eight years old.

Like when I started playing football in high school, I didn't know anything about baseball. The only reason I started was because that was what kids in my neighborhood did. I asked my dad what position he played when he was a kid and he told me shortstop. When they asked me what position I wanted to play, I said shortstop because it was the only position I knew besides pitcher.

Minor league was a joke for three years. Our team did well, and we had a wonderful time--but when it was over I still sucked. Because of my age, I moved up into Little League, and again was on a championship team. I had moved to first base by this point because I couldn't throw, and just kind of averaged out over the three years I was there. In the winter and spring before the last year of Little League, however, something changed.

I got bigger.

The largest set of pants they had for uniforms was too small for me. I still wasn't very popular, my confidence was still low, and as I stepped up to the plate on May 5th, 1985, I was starting out my last season of Little League in pretty much the same spot I had been in for five years.

There were two outs, and we were playing one of the best teams in the league. The bases were loaded and, since I was still afraid of the baseball flying by me, I quickly loaded the count up. I remember looking at that kid on third base cheering and clapping for me to just hit the ball. The pitcher wound up and threw, I swung at the ball and connected. The ball took off like I had never hit anything before in my life. Before I got to first base I started pulling a Carlton Fisk waving the ball to go further. I didn't need to.

Grand Slam Home Run.

The next few months were a dream for a kid. Almost every time I got up to bat I hit a home run. I was dating a girl (as much as a 13 year old could date a girl) that worked in the announcer's booth behind home plate and I remember pointing at her one time that I got up and mouthing "for you" right before I crushed one out. I did it again on my next at bat. It was amazing. I wasn't voted onto the all-star team, since I still wasn't in the popular crowd. The league coaches took care of that and put me on the team anyway.

At the end of the season we made the playoffs, like we always did, and were looking to repeat as champs. Mid-way through the playoffs a kid hit a little blooper to me at first base. I dove for the ball and made an unbelievable catch in the infield grass, my full weight driving the ball in the glove into the ground. It hurt my hand like hell. I was up next and hit another home run. When we went back out into the field I went to put my glove on and squeezed it. I almost passed out from the pain. Within a few minutes I felt like I was going to throw up and my Dad told me he thought I was going into shock. We rushed to the hospital.

My hand was fractured. The season was over.

This was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my young life. Since we didn't have a backup first baseman, every hit the opposing team got for the rest of the playoffs landed the batter on first base since the kid who took my position couldn't catch. The team never made it out of that round and we lost.

By the end of the summer my family had moved out of the city and on with life. I tried out for Babe Ruth level baseball but was back to square one since I was the same size as everyone else. I played that season and never put on a uniform again.

The summer of 1985 will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was my first moment of actually being good at something. From that point on I had confidence in what I was doing, and it directly led to me succeeding in other areas of life. I still have that baseball, and carry it in my helmet bag whenever I fly, next to a velvet bag that holds my grandfather's ashes. Every major success that I've experienced in my life is written on that ball, and there isn't much room left to write any more.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

I'm Soaked


THIS IS BULLSHIT.

We're in the FRIGGIN' DESERT.



New Rule


Lesson for the month--always do some research on your kid's school teacher.

As I mentioned before, Princess's teacher is not what we would call "spectacular." The latest from this wonder of an intructor is the class's newest rule, from Princess's words:

"Do as I say, not as I do."

WTF?

I wouldn't say that to my own kids--and I'm not a school teacher. One whose only responsibility in life is to set an example and guide and mentor kids. I'm starting to wonder why this girl ever thought of getting a job teaching elementary school. Or if she just hates us from the whole bus incident.

We get personalized letters from Cowboy's teacher saying how much she loves the kids, and she takes extra time to go out of her way and tell us how wonderful it is to have him in school. We get photocopied repeats from week to week of the same homework from Princess's teacher.

I need to come up with a name for this one.

And I hope she doesn't read blogs.

,

Cuts


The United States Air Force is cutting 40,000 personnel from its ranks.

Cutting.

Dropping. Even paying HUGE amounts of money to people to compensate them for getting out.

I'm assuming that the reasoning behind this is to reduce the cost to the US Government in paying the extra 40,000 bodies. But it will result in 40,000 open jobs that will fall squarely on the shoulders of those of us that are left. And 40,000 less people to deploy--but not 40,000 less deployments.

Things are starting to get bad.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Doldrums


Rain.

Lots and lots of rain.

Tucson is in the desert, last I checked. So for it to be raining for five days straight, especially over a weekend, kinda sucks. Even moreso when you have to ride a motorcycle to work every day.

I'm still in my blogging doldrums. Kind of just general doldrums overall. My self-image is dragging pretty badly right now, and I'm not sure why. This of course translates into not having anything to write about or discuss on here. I need some motivation.

Went to see "Pirates" this weekend--pretty decent flick. Had to search all over creation to find one that wasn't sold out, though. Got to see the coming attractions for "Rocky Balboa," the new (and last--I'm betting he dies in the ring) Rocky movie. I'm a huge fan, although I never even saw the last one. After watching the trailer I think its going to be a good one.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lust Satisfied


Out of the seven deadly sins, Lust is definitely one that I have a big issue with. In a million different ways. The Lucky clan went to Best Buy the other day to check and see how much the Gateway Tablet PC was.

Big mistake.

They had one on display that damn near brought tears to my eyes. And it was only $1099, much less than I had expected it to be. To top things off, they were offering a $150 discount.

Uh, oh.

After some minor deliberating with SW (who, I imagine, saw the look in my eyes and figured she couldn't win this one) we agreed to buy it. The motivated sales rep zipped off only to come back with his head held low. Apparently they were all out. But he had great news! "You can get the upgraded model for $1499, and I'll give you the same $150 discount."

Damn.

I wandered aimlessly through the store before I finally caved to the lust and filled out the credit application. It was a moot point because I just liquidated my E*Trade account that has been languishing for years after the tech bubble burst--ironically producing the same amount of money I would need to buy the dream PC. Needless to say, and oh so predictably, we walked out with a cow-decorated box.

Then the guilt set in. There is a 14-day return policy, but if the box is opened you have to pay a 15% restocking fee. Quite a bit of money. So the box sat in our living room, unopened. I debated all night but couldn'tbring myself to commit. We watched "To Kill a Mockingbird" that night--the whole time the box staring at me from across the room.

I woke up the next day and played with the monkies. Had breakfast. All morning the cow kept calling to me. I sat in front of it with my knife in hand, a tiny strip of silver reflective tape beckoning to be cut. Eventually, SW had had enough and ordered me to open the box.

This machine rocks. Of course, I really won't have a whole lot of time to play with it until my TDY next month.

So lust wins again. As she has so many, many times before.

Epiphany


I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your innovations
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inner visions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inner visions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm Lusting


After this.

I just don't think I can justify spending $1500 on what, essentially, is a toy. I am going to Florida for five weeks for a school and the thought of being sans internet access is giving me chills.

We talked about getting a laptop a while ago. Of course that was before a $3000 dental bill.

I'm looking everywhere, but am coming up empty. I am dying for a tablet laptop. It's either that or a long hiatus from blogging. And reading. And gaming. And photo editing...