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


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


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.


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


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."


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.



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


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.