Friday, June 30, 2006


Entertainment for the summer is coming up.

First off, I am a huge fan of Superman. I've read most of the books about him, and absolutely loved the movies when I was a kid. To hear that they kept a lot of the original ideas and themes (like the music) just made me want to see the movie even more. I've been brain-washing the monkies with DVD's of the original 70's movies and they're just as excited as I am. We go this weekend.

I'm not a fan of reality shows, but there was one on last year that I eagerly loved. "The Contender" was a reality show that followed 16 boxers as they fought their way into a final bout in Las Vegas for something like a million bucks or something. The thing that made this show so awesome was the dramtization of the fights--one held each week. The music and camera shots were phenomenal, and SW and I actually cried when one of our favorites lost towards the end of the show. I think it was on CBS, but it was up against some hit show at the time and it didn't do very well. So they cancelled it.

ESPN (God Bless them) picked up the show and is putting thier own version of it on next month. It starts July 19th, with the same producers and crews. Hopefully they won't change much, but it is definitely something I'm looking forward to.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tae Kwon Do Day #1

Tonight's the night.

After taking 15 years off, I'm going to put a Gi back on an start taking martial arts again. Oh, I've done it before--a couple of weeks in college, and a couple of months when I was stationed in Germany--but neither of them was very serious. This time, I'm a little more committed since SW has been doing it for a month and the monkies have been going for four months. Since they started I've toyed with the idea almost every day, and now I'm finally taking whatever plunge lays ahead of me.

I tried on the uniform last night--couple that with my size and I looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Absolutely ridiculous. A problem I can already see happening is old habits--either me trying to do stuff that I haven't done in 50 pounds or 15 years, or being resistant to new stuff. I guess we'll see.

Had a buddy of mine mention in the middle of a conversation that he can tell that I've gained weight since getting back from the desert. Great. And this is after I've already lost eight pounds.

I'm really looking forward to tonight. Nervous, yes, but still excited about it. I'm slowly trying to start another blog (yes, I need yet ANOTHER reason to suck the time out of my life) documented the journey. If you're interested I'll post the link on here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I've been busy the past couple of days.

Well, yesterday wasn't exactly busy--the network here was touch and go all day. Tried to post but couldn't. Handled the DT's I got as a result quite nicely.

This used to be a military blog. I was sifting through the hundreds of posts I've put on here trying to find out when I veered away from politics and the military. Granted, my current job isn't the most interesting in the world, and the parts that are interesting can't be posted on here. One thing I do remember from being over there--I checked my Site Meter and TTLB ratings religiously, if for no other reason than not having anything to do. So, with that in mind--try to stop by the Milblogs, if only to offer them support and to let them know that someone is actually reading their blogs. I'm telling you--it was a major morale boost when Richmond told me that someone was actually listening. Here are some new ones:

...From Afghanistan
Dissing Your Dog
My Deployment Blog
Bandit Three Six
Bob on the FOB

On a political note--I may come across as callous, but if I was the president of Isreal I would have steamrolled Palestine a long time ago. So it's a good thing for me to see them gearing up to finally go kick some ass. I have a whole post in mind regarding that, but I'm more interested in watching the show on the news right now.

Week One for the Body-for-Life thingy ends today. Lost 6 pounds, but I think that's primarily due to water loss or whatever. I tend to drop early weight relatively quickly--so I'm expecting another few pounds to go and then come to a screeching halt. We'll see, I guess.

I'm in the market for a laptop so I can keep writing while on the road (coupla big TDY's coming up). I like the tablet PC's, but can't seem to find them anywhere. Anyone buy a good one recently?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Cult

I'm not an overly religious person.

I was raised Catholic in a somewhat Catholic family with overly Catholic grandparents. I went to a Catholic school for a couple of years, and went to Church my whole life until High School. Once I got to college, I was pretty religious for that first year since the Summerall Chapel was a quiet and cool refuge for freshmen, and getting your ass beat every day had a tendency to make one find God. That faded a bit once I became an upperclassman.

In the summer between my junior and senior years I was a training officer at Tyndall AFB in Panama City, FL. I met a girl there that resulted in a whirlwind fling for the five weeks I was working. She was a Second Lieutenant, and older woman, so I was smitten. After the course was over we stayed in touch and dated off and on for the next few years. Also in those few years she got closer to her own church, and a bit of it rubbed off on me. She bought me a Bible. She told me a lot about other faiths that were starkly different from Catholicism. I learned a great deal. Not enough to make me suddenly become a Bible-thumper, but enough to make me curious.

The seed was planted.

Pilot training brought more debauchery, drinking, and wild life than I had ever seen. Top it off that I had been in prison for college and I got quite a bit out of control. After I moved on and went to Germany for my first tour, things calmed down slightly but not much. Church was the furthest thing from my mind. I started dating Superwife, whose mother was, for all intents and purposes, an extremist Catholic. I didn't know her at the time, but her religious influence on my future wife was profound. The topic really never came up between us while we were dating.

In the second year of my tour in Germany, I met another girl. She was a crew chief that worked on the planes we were flying. She was a tomboy, as maintainence chicks tend to be, and we became pretty close friends. She invited me one day to a contemporary Christian service on base. Memories of the relationship I had with the girl in college came flooding back. I went to the service with quite a bit of apprehension. I was at a point in the relationship with SW that things usually fell apart for me, so the timing couldn't have been worse.

I fell in love with the group of people that I went to church with. Finally, after toying with the idea for so long, I pretty much turned my back on Catholicism, my friends, my faith, and SW. SW didn't understand what was going on, and referred to the group (and still does) as a cult. Simultaneously during all of this SW deployed to Zagreb, Croatia during the Balkans conflict. I threw myself into the new contemporary church completely, isolating myself from a lot of things that were important to me before. I became one of the members of what we called the "inner circle," a group of people that ran things in the service, teaching Bible school, running youth religious groups, and playing a huge part in the actual service. There was just one probelm--one thing I didn't completely turn my back on kept rearing its head.


No matter how hard I tried to give myself up completely to my new faith and friends, I couldn't escape the person I actually was. I still drank, went to parties,and had a deep love for SW. The members of the church told me over and over that I couldn't be a part of God's Plan and still date SW. So I hid everything. I became a master at leading a double-life. I carried a Bible around in my back pocket, but still swore like a sailor when I flew. I still drank like a fish on Saturday but showed up to teach Sunday school the next morning. Over the course of a year, it slowly tore me apart.

After a while I satrted looking for a way out, but none became apparent. If I didn't show up for a meeting or prayer group my phone was ringing at home. People would come by my house looking for me. There were definitely those in the group that knew I was having issues, that I was hiding something, that didn't believe the things I would say. I don't know if it was through jealousy or what, but they made it hard for me to go either way. I became excessively paranoid, and didn't know where to go. The one refuge I had always had--God--became the one thing I was trying to escape from.

After this went on for a while, my grandfather died. We were extremely close, as he and my grandmother were virtually parents to me growing up. He was a wonderful person, but Catholic. He had never, to the best of my knowledge, had a "saving" experience, as the members of my church claimed was necessary to get into Heaven. They, of course, backed this up with Scripture quotes--just like they backed up direction to end any contact with SW and any bad habits I had. When I made an off-hand statement about how at least my grandfather was now in Heaven, I was met with quizzical looks and muttered responses of "well, no he's not" from my "friends."

The next week I was scheduled to go to the States for training for a month. I had my chance.

On my last day before leaving I inwardly said goodbye to that place. I knew, in my heart, that I was not coming back. For months after I returned I didn't answer the door or the phone, and was scarce around the squadron in case they came by there. I got back together with SW, and stayed at her place most nights. Eventually, months later, the phone calls stopped. Six months later I was married.

After marriage, SW and I eventually started going to Catholic Church together again--more for the kids than for ourselves. I still have questions in my Faith, but I still pray. I feel that I have done quite a few things in my life that I am going to have to answer for someday, and once in a while memories of my experiences in the Contemporary Service arena flood back. I still have the Bible I had back then, and I still read it occasionally.

I think the end result of what I experienced was a profound feeling that no one can claim to fully understand God. He is such a higher Being that anyone claiming to have the answer to Him is ludicris. I am still tormented from time to time as to whether or not I am who I am supposed to be, who God wants me to be. I believe in Scripture, but I also believe that God is God, and as such is not limited by anything in creation. I believe that my grandfather is in Heaven. I look at my three wonderful children's faces and believe that I made the right move staying with SW.

I believe in God.

Romans 8:28

Friday, June 23, 2006

Opening Flight

"Lucky, open us up." The Duty Officer ordered, spouting out a tail number.

It's still dark outside, but the forecast is good. In the small Texas town where student pilots dot the skies overhead, there is always the need for adult supervision. Students can't simply fly on their own--they need someone to physically go up and check to make sure the weather is clear.

I don't really mind these opening flights. Any chance to go fly alone is a good one. A quick pre-flight of my equipment and I am out the door, helmet and parachute in hand.

It is my favorite time of day. The pre-dawn glow casts and eerie blanket across the silent flight line. As I walk to my assigned aircraft I feel a sudden calm. In an hour this space will be alive with the roar of engines as students and instructors take to the skies. For now, however, the only sound is of the mockingbirds singing from the grass beside the runways. A crew chief moves absorbed in his own thoughts as he prepares my jet for use. Reaching the wing, I glance through the binder containing the vital data of this particular aircraft. The total number of hours flown is displayed prominently on the first page.

54,297.2 Almost 27 years of a 40-hour work week spent in the air. Spent being slammed on the pavement by inexperienced pilots. Students whose first flights were in her have long since retired after 35 year careers. She must look forward to quiet flights such as this one.

A cursory walk-around and I strap myself in. The crew chief leans on the wing, yawning. Apparently the coffee hasn't taken effect yet. The flip of a switch and the cockpit comes to life, gyros begin spinning up and lights glow bright. She breathes.

It takes a student up to ten minutes to compete the 72-step pre-flight checklist. My hands glide over the dashboard subconsciously for the 386th time. I am done and waiting for the required one-minute warm-up time of the master gyro.

Visor down. I cast a glance over the shoudler to ensure noone is behind the engines, as if anyone would be out here this early. I see the opening safety crew climbing the stairs of the minature tower that rests beside the approach end of the runway--the last-chance a student has before landing gear-up. The crew chief looks in my direction for the signal. A twirl of my gloved hand gives him the heads-up. He nods, and my left hand flips the ignition.

The morning silence is shattered by the single T-37 engine firing to life. A second later a spark in the combustion chamber ignites the JP-8 fuel and a six-foot flame lunges out of the tailcone. After it calms the J-69 turbofan takes over on its own, and the gages in the cockpit show signs of a good start. She lives.

Moments later the other engine is warm, the flight controls are checked, and the chocks are pulled. I break the morning radio silence by keying the mike and pulling my oxygen mask to my face.

"Laughlin Ground, good morning, Tiger 50 request taxi."

A half a mile away a female airman stands and looks across the dim flightline at the hundreds of aircraft. My lone T-37 stands out from the silent sentinels, strobes falshing and cherry-red beacons slowly turning.

"Tiger 50, good morning, taxi runway one three right." Permission granted.

The crew chief steps aside and I slowly slide the throttles up, dew dropping from my wings as the old bird glides foward. I wave to him and begin to taxi alongside the runway. Moments later, the flightline is slilent once more.

A few more checks and I enjoy the drive. The mockingbirds lift off, startled by the steady whine of my engines. A low mist blankets the takeoff strip, soaking the pavement but not preventing flight. As I pull up to the threshold I flip the radio again, this time to talk to the safety crew now ready to begin the day.

"Tiger 50, number one." The radio crackles. My friends, not as fortunate as I today, respond with envy. They will not fly until the day is older and the temperature has broken 100 degrees.

"Number one cleared for takeoff, winds are 140 at 5." Winds are realtively calm and down the runway. I glance up and not a cloud is in sight. Another switch and the canopy motors down, plunging me into virtually total silence minus the steady hiss flowing through my helmet from the radios.

I move into position in the center of the runway and move the throttles forward. Dials across the dashboard swing to life again, stopping at "100%." Everything checks in the green. That goodness for small miracles. The eager aircraft leans forward against the brakes, begging for flight. One last check of the engines and I let her go.

My helmet move slightly backward, not slamming against the headrest as the more powerful jets do. I dance on the rudder pedals, keeping her moving steadily down the strip. My eyes flicker toward the airspeed, although by now I can generally tell when the earth has given us permission to leave. 80...90...100...I gently lift the nose of the jet and the earth falls away, swirls of morning mist left in my wake.

It is my favorite time of day.


Thursday, June 22, 2006


I wrote a while ago about motivation.

Talk about a downhill slide. The more out of shape you get the less likely you are to work out. It's a hole I've been in for years. I was hospitalized immediately after Pilot Training with a condition that almost took my wings away, but which I eventually overcame. Unfortunately, the recovery took what was a pretty solid body and buried it under fat, and laid me up as far as working out goes for quite a while. As the years went by I had several "comebacks," but none that ever resulted in me finally getting back to the person I once was. Once marriage and kids hit simultaneously, it just got worse and worse, both for me and my wife. For me, with every comeback there followed a meteoric collapse, and, as expected, I ended up worse than when I started.

Well here goes my latest comeback. I finally got up the nerve to post my "before" pictures on the Body-for-Life tracker (no, I'm not going to give a link--you're gonna have to find it yourself). It appears to be a great support group, even though I despise support groups. My goal date is my birthday in September. Once I get over the sheer embarassment of my appearance maybe I'll post some of the results on here. In the meantime, I've added a Body-for-Life blogroll with some of the more inspiring success stories on the right. If you need motivation, check them out.

God knows I need it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I wasn't that big of a kid until I got to high school and I got knocked around a bit.

I'm not sure why I was the target so often, but I'm betting that I did something to either encourage or allow it. Many times I had to run crying home to my mother and she grudgingly had to drive me to school because the jerks at the bus stop had terrorized me enough to scare me out of getting on the unsupervised (yes, I said unsupervised because the driver is driving, not supervising) orange social fishbowl they called a bus. I'm sure she was sympathetic at first, but it had to have gotten old.

This went on until I finally gained some size (and subsequent bravery) in high school. I spent many a class afraid to go to the schoolyard at recess because I knew what was going to happen. The thing that kills me is that I don't recall getting beat up that much--just severly intimidated. The physical action didn't actually take place until I stood up to them, and then got summarily smacked down.

I wish I could stand in front of the bullying bastards that made my life miserable while waiting at the bus stop. I am extremely sensitive to any issues my kids are having at school regarding bullies. One day recently my wife and I were walking in the local park while the monkies rode an electric four wheeler that we bought them a couple of years ago. They were about 20 yards in front of us. Two 10-year old punks pulled up alongside them and were having fun running them off the track and laughing while Princess kept shouting at them to stop. I waited a while to see how they would handle it until it was obvious that the older kids were malicious. Princess pulled over and Cowboy was beginning to cry.

That's when I stepped in...

When I got up to them the punks were laughing at the pain they were causing. I may have been small as a kid but I am conisderably larger than average now. And I was pissed.

I shouted pretty loud at them and the laughing stopped. Just as loud I told them to get the hell off of their bikes. I then began a quick interrogation of how much fun they got picking on little kids. When I was satisfied that I had scared the living shit out of them I told them to leave. They went direct to their parents on the other side of the park and didn't leave their sides for the rest of the time that we were there. Not wanting to start even more of a conflict, and happy with the result I got already, I didn't go talk to their parents. I probably should have.

My kids will not feel those pains that I did. I don't care what I have to do, they will never feel afraid to go to the bus stop.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Film Festival

While on my hiatus I had the opportunity to watch a few movies. The two big ones were the latest kid's flicks.

We went to see "Over the Hedge" while the monkies were staying at the grandparents'. I skipped out of the last couple of briefings at the conference and zipped over to join them at the theater. Honestly I thought it was going to suck--it just didn't look that good. It turned out to be absolutely hysterical. People that make those movies have finally figured out that if they make it entertaining for the parents that they're more likely to get them to buy the DVD after it comes out. The kids liked it too, but it was, of course, overshadowed by the movie that cowboy has been waiting for 20% of his life for--"Cars."

I've only gotten goosebumps once before in a cartoon movie, and that was the closing scenes over "The Lion King." Got them again in the opening scene of this one. If you haven't seen it yet, the movie opens with the star in a big race, and it makes that movie. I'm not even a NASCAR fan, but sitting in front of that screen with the surround-sound--let's just say you'd be missing out if you wait for it to come out on DVD.

I watched some DVD's in my room at the conference since (clearly) I didn't have any access online (why is that still so difficult to get?). First movie I saw was Aeon Flux. The story rocks. The special effects rock. Charlize Theron (especially in the outfits she wears) really rocks. Great movie.

The next one I saw was "Crash." Other than "Lord of the Rings", I haven't seen many movies that won "Best Picture" that I thought were worth seeing. "Cold Mountain" was good, but not mind-blowing. I had heard that this movie was depressing, disturbing, as well as uplifting and a "feel-good" movie. So--I had nothing to do, I may as well see it for myself. What an amazing movie. I was completely blown away by it. I'm a guy--one of my all-time favorites is "Gladiator"--but I have been known to get a tear or two when watching a movie that warrants it. There's a scene in the movie involving a little girl, about the same age as Princess.

It completely, no exaggeration, dropped me to the floor.

Now granted, I had a couple of Captain and Cokes in me, but I had to stop the movie because I couldn't focus. It was a hands-to-the-mouth, stop breathing, eyes sand-dollar-wide moment that I won't ever forget. Based on that scene alone (which, obviously, you need to watch the whole movie to get the build-up to) it deserved the Oscar it got. It is defintely a conversation generator, as there is defintely a message in it--the issue is that the message is different for different people. Simply brilliant.

Lastly, and this was last night, was a movie that I've seen a bunch of times but is still one of my favorites--even though most people that have seen it tell me they didn't like it much. "Signs," with Mel Gibson, is an M. Night Shylaman masterpiece. It's what I think a "scary" movie should be to be the best--I don't think they had to edit it at all to put it on TV. All the gory sex-and-language filled horro movies you see now just bore the hell out of me. I've seen this at least five times and it still scares me. On top of that, it has an awesome message and story to go along with it. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Wanna Update

My latest wanna--a member of the bloggin' hotties crowd that takes absolutely amazing pictures:

Adventures in Blah Blah Land


I'm back.

This tends to be the most motivated I get all year--the month or so after my annual trip with the Lucky clan to my parents' house. I tend to do some serious damage to my body during these trips--we eat out almost every meal, I work out rarely (if ever), and my Dad and I drink VAST amounts of alcohol in a very short period of time.

To say I'm in a sorry condition by the time I get back is an understatement.

This year, to make matters worse, the trip took place immediately after a week of TDY to St. Louis. That was immedaitely after a week of bachelor-dom. All in all, a veritable disaster to my body.

So--taking advantage of whatever motivation may come out of this, I'm going to revisit and revise my "list" that I wrote up after getting back from the desert. At this point, I really don't even remember what those goals were, or whether I've made any progress to accomplishing them. I think re-evaluating every six months is a good call. So--here we go:

1. Make Breakfast. I do this on the weekends. Not what I orginally had in mind, but I'm going to call this one a success. New number one: Teach Princess to Ride Her Bike. If anyone has suggestions on how to do this I'm all ears. I've tried a few times already, but she is so terrified of falling that she puts her feet down, banging her legs into the pedals, and hirting herself. It gets discouraging for both of us.

2. Reduce the Load. We did a good job at this after I got back, bringing a few truckloads to Goodwill. It's time to do it again--so this one will stay.

3. Build a Wild Playset. Done. New number three: Comfortably run three miles. My PT test is coming up in a couple of months and I need to get ready. I signed up for a Body-for-Life tracker a month or so ago, and never did anything with it. I've got some serious work to do.

4. Walk With the Kids. I have completely failed at this one. I started walking with the dog and Odie in the mornings--but that's not what I meant. I meant after work taking a walk around the block with the monkies on their bikes. This one stays.

5. Help Around the House More. Touch and go here--I do have moments that help out, but I could definitely do more.

6. Keep Blogging. I'd say this is a success--seeing as I've tripled how much I blog since I got home. But to be honest--during the break I didn't miss it much.  So this one is going to change to Blog Less.

7. Start Flying. Still a complete failure. This MUST become a priority as if I have any hopes of getting into a cockpit again, I need to regain proficiency.

8. Buy a DVR. I gave this a shot but was slightly miffed when Cox Cable wouldn't come install one for me--seeing as by doing so they'd be sucking another $10 a month out of me. However--after this trip, where my parents have a DVR, I am hooked. Looks like I'll have to make a trip this weekend.

9. Go Somewhere, Anywhere, Once a Month. Failure. We've just been so busy that we haven't had time.

10. Manage My Time. This goes up and down. I'm going to get serious on this one. I have so many do-dads and gadgets that there really is no excuse.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Family Unit

Dad Bloggers published my first article as a contributing blogger today. It's a post of how I feel that our family has gone from five separate people to one unit as a family. I worked pretty hard on it--check it out if you have the time.

"The Family Unit."


Hammer Down

This is about as excited as I think I'll get working as a staff weenie.

My boss finally dropped the bomb I had created on our sister unit--a package that pretty much spells out that an organization of theirs in inept and would be better utilized by transferring all of their assets and personnel over to my shop. I've been working on this for a couple of months now, and hopefully I made a strong enough case that they won't have a choice but to cave in.

I don't tend to get along real well with the number two guy over there, and I think this blindsided attack is going to just make our relationship all the better. Unfortunately, I'm heading out on Sunday for two weeks, so I'll probably miss the majority of the fireworks. Knowing how things work around here though, it'll probably be that long before they can come up with a legitimate response.

The best commander I ever had once told me that I would get a lot more accomplished with honey than with a baseball bat.

I disagree.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

An Alternate Future

What I envision my house would look like if I were single:

Read the rest of this hysterical story and see more photos here.

Busy Busy

I feel that I owe a little explanation to my intermittent blogging for this week. No, it doesn't really matter, but at least I can get all this out.

1) Bachelor week. I been bizy.

2) One of my projects for the week was to renew the sand under the
monster playset since a lot of it has blown away. So I loaded up the F-150 with sand so heavily that it looks like the tires are gonna blow. Backed it up to the yard, and loaded up the first wheelbarrow. I made it two feet and the seal broke on the tire and now I have no way of getting the sand the 100 feet to the playset. I've spent many hours trying to figure out how to re-inflate the damn thing to no success.

3) The Lucky clan is on a whirlwind tour since SW goes back to work in a couple of weeks. They are currently in Austin, but should be back on Saturday night. On Sunday I fly out to St. Louis for a conference (conveniently the same city my parents live) and I'm taking the monkies with me to have them stay with the grandparents for the week. The following Friday SW and Odie will fly out to meet us when my training's over and we'll stay for one more week. After all that we make it back in time for SW to mentally get ready to head back into the workforce. For those that don't have kids--flying five people halfway across the country is not cheap. The first three weeks of SW's pay are already spent. Don't think we'll be doing that again.

4) My conference in St. Louis requires me to brief every Colonel that has anyone deploying in the next four months. Getting ready for that, as well as setting up all of my travel that the Air Force gives me to coincide with the monkies flying with me has been a major pain in the ass.

5) I'm starting to look like I have a real job. I'm in the middle of trying to do a hostile takeover of another branch to have them all work for me, thus permitting my section to be able to do what we're supposed to do. Clearly, the branch I'm stealing doesn't like the thought of being told what to do.

6) It was my time to post on
Dad Bloggers, a site that I am a contributing author to. Since I only post once a month, I wanted to make it a good one. They should post it tonight. Check it out.

That's about it. I've been trying to get a review done on here but it's going slowly. I'll catch up.


Thursday 13

I know this is lame but I didn't come up with a list this week. Instead I'm going to send you to one of the best ones I've seen so far, over at Write From Karen, from last week. Her Thursday 13 is about Thirteen Stranger Than Fiction Truths.