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 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


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?


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