Monday, June 11, 2007

So Long

I think it's time I reached the end of the line, and laid Desert Odyssey to rest for a while.

She's been essentially dead for a long time, now, anyway.

The purpose this site originally served was to keep me in touch with family while I was deployed to Qatar. New to blogging at the time, I quickly became addicted and it transformed into a type of therapy for me. Gradually, I moved from a Milblogger, to politics, to life in general, and then eventually--to nothing. I used to take notes throughout the day on things to write about. Now, I occasionally remember that I have a blog out there.

I've tried many times to get back into this, but it just ain't happening. With the move coming up, and a radical change in lifestyle with it, maybe I'll come back to this. But for now--I'm done.

I still have my other blog, where I chronicle my family's training in Tae Kwon Do, but even that one's gonna fizzle since we're about to take a two month hiatus until we get settled in Alabama.

I will keep adding things to my Flickr account, as I still love that and am still taking pictures every day. I've been debating doing some form of 365--either of myself or the kids.

This has been a lot of fun, and has changed my life in ways I won't even begin to list here. I've made some amazing friends, and have had a wonderful time. I'll still be out there--reading and commenting, and someday I may come back to Desert Odyssey.

Until then, so long--and thanks for reading.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On Second Thought

After writing that last post I looked to Black Five to see what he had to say. And Grim put me in my place.

I've said a lot of bad things about Sheehan in the last couple of years. Most of them were generated from the outrageous headlines that she caused worldwide that portrayed our Country in a bad light. A lot of the cynicsm that surrounds my views of the American political system come from close to the same sources as hers. And in the end, especially after reading what I just did, I feel bad.

I'm debating taking down that last post--something I have never done and have kept myself from doing, even when I didn't like what I had wrote.
Cindy Sheehan is a grieving mother. I sympathize entirely with the motivation. I cannot imagine what the loss of my son would do to me; I would be grateful to the world, I think, if it refused to judge any action I took for at least a year or two afterwards. And so, applying the Golden Rule, I shall refuse to judge her. I hope she finds the peace she needs.

I have no use for those who are using her to further their ends -- nor those who are so heartless as to speak ill of her, in the depth of her pain.
Yes, I know she was a radical before the war began. That means nothing. She is a Gold Star mother, and so she is due a full measure of kindness from us. May she find her peace. May those who are trying to use her get what they deserve. As for those who have sneered at her character -- no one asks you to approve of her, or what she thinks, or how she feels. All I ask is that you let her rage, and pass on, without judgment. That, at least, is only what we should want for ourselves if, under an evil star, we should find ourselves brought to her fate.
Lastly, I was pretty busy yesterday and didn't have time to write. Black Five also has a fantastic post about Memorial Day. Read it here.

For Once We Agree

And so comes the end of an unbelieveable headache era. After making life relatively miserable for troops worldwide for years (well, ok, not miserable--just annoying), she's finally going home.

Cindy Sheehan is quitting.

In her "farewell" speech, she actually brought up, ahem, some good points. Please wait while I take another shot of Jack.

Ok. In the end, it appears that we have some common views. No, not things that have changed on my end since the beginning, just things that she finally realized after embarrassing herself for the last two years.

"I've been wondering why I'm killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to George Bush," Sheehan told The Associated Press while driving from her property in Crawford to the airport, where she planned to return to her native California.

"I'm going home for awhile to try and be normal," she said.

Yeah, good luck with that one. At least she acknowledges the "not normal" part of her life.

Sheehan criticized "blind party loyalty" as a danger, no matter which side it involved, and said the current two-party system is "corrupt" and "rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland."

"Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives," she wrote.

Couldn't have said it better. Pessimistic? Cycnical? Yeah--the country's changed a bit in the last decade.

And lastly, the one thing that I've known all along about her, and she would have saved a marriage and a lot of time, effort, and money had she just thought about this and kept her yap shut:

"Good-bye America ... you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't make you be that country unless you want it.

"It's up to you now."

Monday, May 21, 2007


Some great words from Rudy Guilliani's commencement address at my Alma Mater:

The Cold War took years, but we prevailed, and it will happen. And on that day, because you’re going to achieve it, your generation will take its place
beside the greatest generations in our nation’s history. Our ideas of freedom,
democracy, respect for human rights, respect for human life, and the rule of
law—these are the principles that the human heart and the human soul yearns for. These are gifts that are given to us, not by government, not by men or women. These are gifts that are given to us by God. They’re the principles along with the strength and skill and valor of the men and women like The Citadel graduates of 2007 that make me completely confident that we’ll win the terrorist war on us. We will win. We will prevail.

The terrorists who attacked us on September 11 misjudged the character of
the United States of America. They thought that freedom makes us weak. They thought that democracy makes us decadent. They thought that our diversity made us easy to divide and conquer. It’s a mistake that tyrants have made in the past about America. All of these principles, all of these principles make us stronger. You are the leaders of the 9-11 generation and I believe that you and I have learned the same lessons from our history and from our past. Never retreat. Never wave the white flag of defeat. America doesn’t retreat. America advances.

I’d like to leave you with a memory from the September 11th day. It was
captured in the now famous photograph showing three firefighters covered in ash, raising the American flag over the rubble of Ground Zero. There were fires below their feet of 2000 degrees or more. Their actions echoed the photograph of the flag being raised over Iwo Jima a half century before. It looked very similar. In America, the heroic example of past generations are carried on and built upon by the next generation. When I saw those firefighters, I saw in their eyes, and I saw in their action the same thing that their fathers would have done or their grandfathers would have done in the same situation, and they did the same thing. In the face of being attacked, in the face of having their lives in jeopardy, in the face of watching their brothers and comrades die in front of them, what they said was, we don’t retreat. We don’t put our heads down. We don’t back up. We stand for something bigger than us. We stand for democracy. We stand for liberty. We stand for freedom. We stand for peace. And we’re going to put up our flag, and hold it there, and it is going to prevail, and it is going to wave as a symbol of freedom and democracy for us. And we don’t want to impose it on anyone else. We want to give it to them. Share it with them as a gift that isn’t ours alone, but a gift that comes from God. No one knows that better, no one understands that better than the graduates of this class. You’ve learned it. You’ve put it in your hearts. It’s been taught to you, and now we’re counting on you. We’re counting on you to be the leaders of the 9-11 generation, and if we’re going to count on you to be the leaders, I am very, very confident that we are going to prevail.

God bless you, and God bless America.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mother's Day

Went right by it without telling the Mom's in the world to have a good one. I called my Mom, extremely late and in a hurry because our life didn't slow down just because it was Mother's Day. SW was due to leave to go handle some family business in Spain on Tuesday, and we were running around with that. Oh--and it was her birthday, to boot.

Then I read this from Velvet Sin.

I don't know how you guys do it. Being a Dad is awesome--from my list of occupations it's the best job in the world. But there's just something there in being a Mom that never reaches deep enough on the Dad side. It's amazing to witness first-hand, and devastatingly beautiful.

It's true, Mothers make the world go 'round. Dad's have their place, but I could never take SW's job.

Bless all of you, for all that you do.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Rage

I have issues.

The answer I usually get is "everyone has issues." But I think this one is a little different. I've had this issue for most of my adult life, but I only recently gave it a name--The Rage.

I don't think I have anger management issues, from an outward perspective. I think my issues are more internal--I've never acted out viloently (ok, there was that one time in High School that someone hit my sister with a twinkie on the bus). But it has gotten to the point now that I actually can feel it happening, as it happens. And I have a hard time controlling it.

Counting to ten and taking deep breaths doesn't work very well for me.

Usually there's a trigger--something relatively small, that sets the ball rolling. If everything becomes happy-happy-joy-joy afterwards, that trigger is still sitting there--I just can't tell for how long until it goes away. But I can feel it in my stomach, and as things continue to happen throughout the day The Rage takes me over emotionally. By the time The Rage is in charge, and I realize what is going on, I have a hard time reigning it in.

Let me give you an example.

I got tagged again to be the Director of the Op Center here just like I did a while ago. Same level of work, same level of responsibility, same amount of time devoted to it. Essentially, a no-notice torpedo of my life, since I wasn't supposed to do this again. After all was said and done, we handed out awards to all those that did the bulk of the work. Since I don't feel it is right to nominate myself for the award, I put in my guys who got recognized by the Big Boss, and they all got their awards last night. I figured my boss would do the same for me.


I was pretty pissed--not because I wanted an award, but because the guy that I had just sacrificed family time for could care less. So--this morning I was still a little edgy.

Last night we did the standard ritual of trying to force Princess to do her homework, essentially wasting the entire night and getting behind on keeping the house clean. When I loaded her into the car this morning, her backpack was open and I looked inside. No homework. When I asked her where it was she said she didn't know, and we were too late to get it. Small item.


As I lectured her on the sacrifices made by her Mom and I and blah blah blah, I drove them to school. I could feel The Rage raring up and getting ready for business. Traffic was slow getting there, so we were late. As I jogged across the parking lot with Princess and Cowboy in tow, the volunteer Mom manning the gate saw us coming, knew we were late, and swung the gate shut when we were ten feet away. The Rage stretched its arms, cricked it's neck, and got busy.

After getting them into their classes, even later since we had to go the long way around, I drove off to work even later than I already was. A school bus stopped on the other side and threw it's lights on. The car in front of my sped right through it. Rather than "I guess they're late, too" The Rage's answer was that they were somehow jeopordizing the lives of my kids, even though they were in school and don't take the bus anyway. As I crept through the tiny town where I live that is packed with about 500% of the people it's designed for, some teenage freak in a civic that sounds like a constant fart when its driving cut me off in traffic. This is where the "control" comes in on my part, and why I haven't been enrolled in Anger Management classes. Had I not had control, I'd be in jail for vehicular homicide right now.

The list goes on. The reason I'm bringing this up is that The Rage has ruined many a weekend, when I haven't been able to realize what is going on and I generally become an asshole for the whole 48 hours.

It's driving me, slowly, out of my mind.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Oh Crap

Please. Someone stop the pain.

Our dream car before, and for the first couple of years after, we got married was a Dodge Durango. Not the new ones, which we don't like much--but the ones that came out around 1999. Within days of arriving back in the US we bought one. In the past six years we've put 110,000 miles on it. We love it.

Our family's getting too big, so we've been feeling that we need something new. Something that carries 7-8 people. Something that sounds an awful lot like "minivan" but somehow translates to "gay" whenever we discuss it.

Last year the DUrango had a problem overheating. We brought it to the trusty Dodge dealer here, and after 8 days and $1100, they pronounced it "fixed." It didn't overheat as fast anymore, but if we parked for a half hour or so with the AC on the temperature would climb. Last week we figured out that we needed new brakes, so we brought it in to have them replaced. As a side note, I mentioned that the work they had done last year appeared to still need some work and wondered if they could check it out. They did, and told me that it was the radiator module (whatever the hell that is) and it would cost $650 to replace. I told them hell no--we'll just avoid parking for long durations. New brakes installed, we headed home for the weekend.

While driving home two days later, the car overtemp'd. Bad. Like swerve to the side of the road bad. With SW, Princess, Cowboy, Odie, and Mom-in-Law aboard in 92 degree heat. We eventually had to get it towed back to the dealer. I was pissed.

After checking it out, we were informed that the engine block had cracked--probably as a result of the overheat. Total fix? $6400.

So--we made the decision to buy a new car. We looked at the Dodge Caravans last night. I was amazed at how bad these guys were--ignoring SW the whole time, and practically begging us to stay there, even after we told them that we were going to shop around regardless of what car we bought. We didn't even like the caravan, anyway. Too gay.

So we went to Honda, to check out the Odyssey's. On top of a night-and-day sales department when compared to Dodge, these machines were exactly what I was looking for if I'm forced to drive a minivan. I've been pumping myself up for over a year to get into a minivan, but I still felt like a complete idiot when sitting behind the wheel of this thing, even if it did look like the Starship Enterprise on the inside. After two hours of looking, the Honda guy told us to go look around and he'd see us when we got back.

In the meantime, we're down to one car--which results in me driving several hours a day to haul the rest of the family to work and school.

So I think we're buying one tonight. After hoping it would never happen, I think we'll be minivan drivers by midnight. We're going to check out the Toyota versions, and maybe the Saturn dealer, but in the end I'm pretty sure we'll be in the Honda.

I'm finally going to be a soccer mom.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Wedding Photos

I have finally posted just about all of the pictures from this past weekend on Flickr. Sorry--but between the three of us we had hundreds of pictures. And I'm sure that there's still more out there. So anyway--for those of you who are friends and family, the photo album is here.

For those of you who aren't, I put some of the better shots under the photo section.

Advanced Ammunition

Princess was pretty tired a few weeks ago and fell asleep while eating. I don't mean putting a cheeseburger down and resting her head, or propping her arm on the table and nodding off. I mean WHILE EATING. As in mid-bite. And then she was out so hard that we stopped the car in the driveway, got out, and snapped pictures with a flash for a few minutes.

I know. We're cruel.

But it is pretty damn funny.

We'll need this anyway to show her boyfriend in 7 8 10 years.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sacrament Weekend

If you read “Baby Story” on here last year, you’ll remember that SW and I were married by a 250-pound German woman who served as the equivalent of a Justice of the Peace. The master plan was to have a big ceremony once we got Stateside—but Princess was born, I was in C-130 training, and we were living in a small apartment in Little Rock. The big wedding kept getting pushed back, and then Cowboy showed up, and eventually the ceremony dropped off the radar altogether.

This past weekend Princess had her First Holy Communion. For those non-Catholic or Catholic-but-not-following-the-rules types, if you are “living in sin” (as we were because our marriage had never been blessed by the Church) you are not allowed to take Communion. SW is the stricter Catholic of the two of us, and pointed out many years ago that we were persona-non-grata, and as such stayed in our seats during the big chow-down every week. For over eight years.

The Monsignor at our Church pointed out to us, as I already knew, that if we weren’t married we wouldn’t be able to go to the altar with Princess. So we decided to take the plunge, knowing that if we waited for the right time, when everyone could make it, we would probably never do the deed. So, on the day before Princess’s ceremony, we had our own ceremony in the Church. My Dad was the Best Man, SW’s Mom was the Maid of Honor, and Princess and Cowboy helped with the ceremony. SW’s godmother made it, and my Mom held Odie while the ceremony happened.

When it finally came down to it, most of the people that I wanted there were there, except for maybe my sister, SW’s brother, my grandmother and a friend of mine. The ceremony itself was a lot like our marriage has been for eight years—thrown together, rushed, chaotic—but all beautiful and perfect in the end as we made it happen. I have issues with emotions and barely made it through saying my vows. I honestly can’t describe how SW looked—as words can’t describe it.

Honestly I don’t think I would have had it any other way.

We have a weird relationship, SW and I. I think a lot of people would look at our marriage and relationship strangely, as it is definitely not what I would term “standard.” Our lives have been thrown together, rushed, and chaotic since we first signed that paper in Meisenbach, Germany years ago, but we have made it happen. She is simply the best thing that has ever happened to me, even though I myself fail to see that now and then.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Stumbled upon a new internet time-consumer--but at least this one will take some creativity. Essentially it's a giant world-wide sitemeter project--doing whatever you need to to convince people to click on your link (I think--I've been doing this for about 5 minutes). Anyway...check it out HERE.

Friday, April 13, 2007


When I was a kid, Disney World was a big deal.

People didn't go to Disney like they do now. The first time we went it was more of a once in a lifetime type experience. One year for Christmas, my sister and I opened the last gift to find a tour guide book for Disney World, and we were literally counting down the days until we went three months later. It was an amzing trip.

Over the course of the next 15 years, we went back a bunch of times (four, I think) all the way up through my college years. It got easier, since my grandparents moved to Florida. When I was stationed in Germany, I went to Disneyland Paris. When my wife and I were stationed in Japan we went to Disneyland Tokyo--Princess was two at the time, and Cowboy was just a newborn. We had fun, but it wasn't what it could be since they were so young.

When my unbelieveably busy schedule abruptly ended towards the end of March, I saw our only opportunity to go to Disneyland and quickly bought tickets. I thought it would be fun--three days in Disneyland with Princess, now 7, and Cowboy, who had just turned 6, and Odie. I was hesitant because I didn't think Cowboy would be able to go on many of the rides--but we said screw it and went anyway. On a scale of 1-10 I figured we'd have about a 7 amount of fun.

Boy was I wrong.

On a scale of 1-10, we had about a 22.

I learned that the perfect age to go to Disneyland is around 6 years old. California Adventure is more for the older kids. When we would go to Disney World, the Magic Kingdom was fun--but Epcot rocked. Magic Kingdom was for little kids. People here told me that three days would be plenty enough time to see everything and still spend eight hours a day there.

We got to the park at around 9 am, and, for three days in a row, left at around midnight. For the first day Odie didn't sleep. At all. Didn't cry, didn't whine, just announced when he was hungry. He got to go on around 50% of the rides. The monkies were absolutely perfect angels, for 72 hours straight. I really couldn't figure it out, until the last day.

Walking around that place is like being in a dream. I'm not sure exactly what it was. But for three days, none of us cared about anything else in the world except being together as a family and having fun together. I didn't care about how much we were spending, because from the first minute I felt like it was worth every penny. The park has something weird in the water there--like a perfect happiness that all of the cares in the world were gone for 72 hours. The stars in my kids eyes were so bright that we never wanted to leave. I had more fun as an adult with them than I ever had going to these places as a kid myself.

I could go on forever about the experience we had--but I think one moment summed it up for me.

On the last day we were supposed to leave mid-day and head home. We changed our minds, called and got a room, and stayed until the fireworks at the end. It was an amazing, magical, dazzling show, including a woman dressed up and lit up like Tinkerbell flying around the Castle on a zip-wire. With the music, lights, and crowd around, I stood there holding Princess in one arm, and Cowboy in the other so they could see above everyone's heads.

That's when it occurred to me. They are growing up. Someday I'm not going to be able to do this with them anymore. Someday they're going to be too big for me to hold and watch Tinkerbell fly, watch pirates shoot at each other across the sea, or learn how to be a Jedi and really believe that they had the Force to fight Darth Vader. Sooner than I know, they won't want to do this with SW and I like they do now.

But for one moment, with "When You Wish Upon a Star" playing in the background and the darkness lit up from fireworks overhead, everything in my life was perfect. It was a moment that will live forever in my heart, holding those two, with Odie asleep beside me in his stroller, and my beautiful wife beside him, watching the Castle light up in front of us.

It was one of the greatest days of my life.

New Pictures

I've added a bunch of new photos from the last couple of months, including our trip to Disneyland. Check them out when you can.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


How do I approach this...

To begin with, I'm not an Imus fan. I honestly caught little about him from the morning show clips I would catch on my way to Sportcenter. I tried a couple of times, and just didn't find video of a radio show entertaining. Not offensive, as I've heard he could be--just not entertaining.

Another guy that I'm not a fan of, Bill Maher, jumped into the conversation a couple of days ago on Imus's show and said something that I wholeheartedly agree with--that if this issue is what is keeping the civil rights folks busy then the civil rights movement is going pretty well.

I guess my point is that I don't really understand what the big deal is. I've heard his comments referred to as "racist and hateful." Have any of these people listened to a rap album any time recently? I was going to post some from Notorious B.I.G. on here but they're even too offensive for me. Does that bother me? No--unless you're forcing it down my (and more importantly, my kid's) throat by cranking the stereo so loud that we can't hear our own thoughts. I guess I just didn't find what he said to be considered "hateful." Insulting? Oh yeah--but that's what his show does. No, those girls didn't need to be insulted--they did something that no other team at Rutgers had done in a long time. But I can find a whole lot more offensive things out there to be pissed about that no one seems to notice.

He'll get back on his feet--just ask Howard Stern. I just hate to see someone crucified for something so irrelevant.

Monday, April 9, 2007


Ok, deep breath.

I'm back, for the most part. For those who didn't figure out from earlier posts, I was the assistant chief planner for the trip that the President took to South America a few weeks ago. As a result, my life quickly spiraled into 14 hour days, six days a week, for about 5 weeks. Pretty out-of-control. What was cool was the level of involvement that I had--working with Secret Service and other major commands around the theater, and tracking hundreds of troops and equipment. In the end, it was a great experience--I learned an incredible amount, and my name got plastered in front of a huge number of high-ranking people. Awards followed, accolades, blah blah. In the end, a great (albeit exhausting) experience.

At the same time as all of this is going on, SW and I are valiantly trying to get our house on the market. When you throw 3 kids and a dog into the mix, it's like trying to push sand uphill. Sometimes we actually feel like the kids are trying to sabotage our efforts to get the house into a condition that we can comfortably show the house to others. We're not there yet, but we are close--which we need to be since it went on the market today. This has taken up pretty much all of our time when we're not working. We did manage to go to Disneyland--I'll post more on that later.

Last week I was TDY to Washington, D.C. at the Pentagon for a bunch of meetings. So that took me out of the picture yet again and pushed everything back yet another week.

Lastly, in two weeks Princess is making her First Communion, and SW and I are making our marriage official in the eyes of the Curch by having a small ceremony. When we actually got hitched eight years ago, we had it done quickly by a German JOP, with the intent of having a big wedding once we got Stateside. As we should've known, that never happened, and we've put it off year after year waiting for "the right time." Well, we'd like to take Communion with Princess, so apparently the right time is now.

All in all, a pretty crazy couple of months. I haven't had time to think about what to post, let alone actually write on here. But we have some pretty awesome things coming down the pike--mainly associated with us finally picking up and moving to the other side of the country. Hopefully I'll find the time to write on here as much as I can. Sorry about the ansence.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Gotta break away to address this.

Apparently quite a few folks were stranded on their planes when a storm blew through (like they've been getting hammered this week). Some were stranded for as much as 11 hours. If I was in that situation, I'd be pretty pissed. Particularly if I had the monkies with me. But something you have to understand is where that anger should be directed.

Pilots like to get the mission done. At the same time, they don't like to sit in a cockpit on the ground any more than you like to sit in the back. So when a situation like this happens, it's usually not the call of the crew serving you--they tend to be just as pissed as you are.

There are so many other entities involved here--the company itself is a big one, but the airport drives a lot of what happens. Like when you pull from the gate 100 feet just to sit for 2 hours. The gate that plane is sitting at is likely needed for another plane just minutes after your scheduled takeoff. So, in order to keep things flowing, they order the airline to move the plane. If it happens to be loaded with passengers, then so be it.

I'm not sure what happened in New York. It could have been the airport, it could have been an airline getting schwacked that day (they cancelled around 50% of their flights due to weather), it could have been any number of things. But it wasn't the crew. I'm not a fan of rude stewards and stewardesses (Flight Attendant is a misnomer), who tend to have a high-and-mighty attitude. But it's not their fault if you get stuck somewhere.

So take it easy on them.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Thursday, February 8, 2007


I am having the week from hell...busier than I've ever been in this job. But I simply couldn't skip posting at least an acknowledgement about this one.

Finally something to get the whole NASA debacle off the television.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Anna Nicole Smith, the voluptuous former Playboy centerfold who married an octogenarian billionaire and waged a legal battle for his fortune all the way to the Supreme Court, died Thursday after collapsing at a hotel. She was 39.

The blond bombshell — who recently became tabloid fodder all over again after the sudden, apparently drug-related death of her 20-year-old son — was found unresponsive while staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, said her attorney, Ron Rale. She was rushed to a hospital.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Toys, Toys, Toys

I am so rich in toys right now that I can't stand myself. Our camera came in and, as expected, takes amazing photos on Auto. Since I'm pretty clueless as to how to take photos like a photographer, that's the best I'll be able to do for now. I've tried to learn a whole bunch of times, but the cameras I've had were never really that good to learn on.

For Christmas I got SW a Bluetooth headset and phone. The phone rocks--but I had heard that the headsets weren't that good. We finally tried it the other day, and were very surprised at how good they sound. I went to Best Buy to get my own Bluetooth. I absolutely love it. I'm making so many calls right now that we may end up using our minutes for the first time ever. We're toying with the idea of not getting a home phone when we go to Montgomery, so we're trying to get into the practice of chraging our phones every day and actually answering them when they ring. Working good so far.

I also got a new case for my PSP that's making it a lot easier to listen to music and watch movies. I've been watching movies when I run on the treadmill and it's working out just fine. My Mom is in the works of getting a video iPod--but sticking to my anti-Apple views I'm keeping away from that for now. The new Zune's are getting horrible reviews, but they look cool in the store.

Lastly is the treadmill. We fell in love with a Reebok treadmill we saw in a sporting goods store. It's almost dead silent, and it has a 7" cable-ready TV screen embedded in the control panel. Has wild speakers on it, too. Add to that that the onboard computer has a gazillion (well, ok, seven) profiles to help you train and it's almost cause to get naked. I found it on Dick's Sporting Goods for cheaper than anywhere here, with free shipping. But I think we're going to have to reign in the post-holiday shopping spree until after tax time.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

My Son's a Badass

I'm trying not to post specifically on photos here, since I just spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get that cute little photo tab up there--but I couldn't resist this shot. It was taken by a mom in our TKD school that recommended the camera we bought.

It's the best TKD shot we've got of them in the last year--including the professional ones we had done.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Don to Earth

Wow, what a great blog.

I stumbled across Don to Earth, a blog written by a 93-year-old Canadian blogger. 93. Years. Like three times my age.

And you know what? He writes really well. Better than most bloggers I've read. In particular he wrote a post about dying recently, that was simply genius writing. It got Dooce-esque comments.

He's gained some pretty amazing popularity recently, so if you don't stop by now I'm sure you'll hear about him again soon. Drop by--it's well worth it.

Canon's Fire

She's on her way.

Much cheaper on Amazon than in the stores, by the way. And with no tax added. That's huge when the camera tops $700. It should be here around Valentine's Day. Hopefully now I'll be able to take pictures like this:

And this:

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I can't stand Sean Hannity. I normally look at him as a self-absorbed, arrogant, pompous egomaniac. Kind of like I look at O'Reilly. But last night I caught his show, in which CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah had the completely idiotic idea to accept an invitation to be on their show.

I mean, how stupid do you have to be to go on to Fox News, in any matter or forum, if you hold the beliefs that these nutjobs have? I suppose it generates publicity for their cause, but it can never actually be in their favor. For just once I was cheering for Hannity as he essentially railed this girl over and over about her support, or non-support, of Hillary Clinton--neither of which she actually ended up admitting to.

Ironically, I looked high and low on the internet this morning for any fallout whatsoever from the interview last night--and found zero. Zilch. Not even a mention. I guessed that blogs would be afire with hammering either Abileah, Hannity, or both--but no one seems to be interested.

Mind you, this is the same group that spit on an injured US soldier at a pep rally protest annoyance gathering by CODEPINK the other day. Another website I read had a list of 75 ways to protest the war--#1 on the list was "quit your job and become active." Exactly who is feeding these people that seem to have nothing better to do than to insult the US Military?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Should've Stuck With My 8th Grade Goals

I'm glad I'm back into blogging. It's amazing how much the blogosphere changes in a very short amount of time. Blogs I liked are gone, blogs I frequented now suck, new blogs are out there that rock. I've spent a lot of time (too much) tweaking lately (props to Yearning Heart for helping me out), surfing new blogs, and making a few new friends. I've also spent a lot of time updating my pictures on Flickr and updating my blogroll--so although it may look like I'm lazing out again, rest assured I am hard at work on not working.

I've also been experiencing my camera lust again. All you have to do is look at Dooce's website to suddenly want to take great pictures. When I was younger I had some weird desire to be a photographer, then just to do it seriously as a hobby--neither of which have ever come to fruition. I see photojournalism as one of the coolest careers out there. Or even better, being able to blog the world ala Kevin Sites. I guess that would be a significant career shift--from Air Force pilot to globe-trotting journalist. Of course, there's kids to think of.

Maybe I'll just stay a staff weenie.

Either way, I think we're close to being settled on an SLR camera. We should be ordering it soon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Let Them Be Little

Hygiene Chronicles from The Blogfathers posted an outstanding article about his kid's Christmas Pageant, and his son's lack of enthusiasm about it. It struck a chord with me, particularly since we spend inordinate amounts of time in our family's quest to become Black Belts and a closer family as a result.
For five minutes we bribed this kid with every we could…favors, treats, crackers. (For the record, I ate the goldfish crackers when he didn’t want them.) As the last goldfish went down, I suddenly realized that this pageant wasn’t for him anymore… it had become about me.

OmiGod, I had volidated the cardinal rule of parenting…let your kid find his/her true joy with what he wants to do and then appreciate what they love. I, of all people, was wanting my child to do what I wished for him and was ignoring his own wants.
I sometimes (ok, often) feel like we may be doing this with our kids. Not so much Princess, who is still thoroughly enjoying herself, but with Cowboy. The fact that we are all involved, I think, sometimes guilts him into going. I wonder, if it was just him doing this instead of all of us, if he would still be as motivated.

SW and I getting involved has proven to be a double-edged sword. When we first got into this, it was just them--and we would go every Tuesday and Thursday and watch happily. In the end we ended up joining with them, so we would have a better idea as to what they were doing. What happened, in reality, was that we ourselves got hooked. Slowly, almost imperceptively, SW and I got into what we were doing, and slowly lost a direct involvement in the monkies' enjoyment. Not in their training--since we followed through on our original reasons for starting and assisted them in learning and progressing--but in their enjoyment. We're so involved in talking to other parents, trying to recruit others to join, answering questions and talking with classmates about our own issues that we fail to immerse oursleves fully in what the kids are doing in class. As a result, if they aren't having fun--we may not notice.

And then there's the money. We've spent sooo much money on this, on equipment, classes, tournaments, additional instruction, that we are committed for the long haul. The first thought that enters my mind when Cowboy starts whining about class is not his desires, but my own for him and the shrinking wallet in my pocket.

I fear that we have started down a path that will give the kids great experiences, but give their childhood in exchange. We are so busy with things that they rarely have enough time to enjoy life and the innocence of their youth. Sometimes I just want to skip class, crash on the couch and watch "Star Wars" with Cowboy, or read a book with Princess, or just hold Odie. And that doesn't happen that much anymore.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Congressional Military Families

I bought off on the Michael Moore tidbit of knowledge that no one in Congress had a son or daughter in the military. I was wrong.

CDR Salamander has a post detailing exactly who has a stake in Iraq beyond their own political futures. A couple of them have more than one.

Killed in Combat:

Baucus-D-MT: nephew (USMC)

Family members serving:

Biden-D-DE: son (Delaware National Guard)
Johnson-D-SD: son (Army)
Musgrave-R-CO: son (Navy)
Wilson-R-SC: 3 sons: (2 SC National Guard, 1 Navy)
Skelton-D-MO: 2 sons (Army and Navy)
Aiken-R-MO: son (USMC) plus another son about to graduate from
Webb-D-VA: son (USMC)
Emerson-R-MO: stepdaughter (Army)
Hunter-R-CA: son (USMC)
Ros-Lehtinen-R-FL: stepson (USMC) and daughter-in-law (USMC)
Brownback-R-KS: niece (USMC) and nephew (USMC)
Hulshof-R-MO: brother-in-law (Army)
Bond-R-MO: son (USMC)
McCain-R-AZ: son (USMC) plus another about to graduate from USNA

Looks like MO's got it covered. Read the whole article here.


I'm depressed.

Or tired, Or something.

For 6 months I had been working out like a madman, and for whatever reasons I haven't been able to in almost 2 weeks. Poor Jennifer Garner has been in peril's grip on my copies of Alias on my PSP for 13 days now, since I've been watching it as I run. One reason in particular for my laziness is the freak of nature that is known as my right foot at this point. On Saturday I transformed into my "motivation exceeding capability" mode during a tournament in Mesa, AZ. I'm not sure what I kicked--probably an elbow--but it had the effect of dropping a bowling ball on the top of my foot. It was hard to walk on Sunday, but by Monday said foot had begun a morphing experience into some strangely-colored, puffy appendage. Not very conducive to running.
Snow Fall
Monkies watching the snow fall

I got home early after work yesterday, after deciding against going to the gym (again). I had the energy of a gnat (come to think of it, gnats are pretty energetic--I guess I was more like a worm. Or moss.) last night, and while SW and MIL were running around taking care of everything I was laying around like a slug. I hate feeling like that.

I'm a big believer that Newton's Law of "a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest--and get fat" applies to life in general. The more I work out the more I want to work out and vice versa. And it just spirals downward. It makes me feel bad because the kids wanted to play last night and I just didn't have it in me.

My diet has kind of sucked, maybe that's contributing to it too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

National Compliment Day

Today is National Compliment Day. (It's also National Belly Laugh Day--yesterday was National Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day and Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day. I'm surprised Congress hasn't taken the whole week off.) In honor of this festive occasion, I am sending out some comments to the blogosphere:

She Who Will Not Be Named - You're writing is an inspiration.
Sinner - Best format for categorizing a blog out there.
Cinders - You have a great perspective on life.
Briegh - Definitely the best looking blog I've seen. Maybe I should switch to Wordpress.
Cinnamon - Great quote today:

Part of my personal belief system, my faith, is that we chart our lives, there is a plan before we incarnate into life. That there is a reason and a purpose for everything. And that the people in our lives are not random or accidental in the smallest degree. We are here with each other for a reason, and our interactions are part of our souls' developments.
Nikki - You give great tax tips :)
Richmond - You have the best time-waster's on the net

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


This guy needs to be shot.

I still don't understand how this is legal, or how we have to sit and watch this freak's commercials every break after 10 pm.

Someday this bastard's going to have his own kids (unfortunately) and he'll have some idiot he inspired do the same thing to them.


Sometimes topics just kind of fall into my lap.

I love riding my Harley. Unfortunately, however, part of the deal in me getting the bike in the first place was that it would be my only form of transportation to and from work--year round. While the spring and fall absolutely rock, and the summer (though hot as hell) is nice, the winter here sucks big time. No--it's not Minnesota or New England, but I wouldn't have agreed to ride a motorcycle 35 minutes to work year round if we lived there. When the temperature is 28 and you're going 55 MPH--it gets damn cold.

So there I was...cruising down a main throughfare in sunny and cold Tucson, AZ. My bike has been hiccuping lately, for reasons that I didn't know. Normally it hiccups, maybe backfires a little, and presses on like a good little bike. Well, in the left lane of said major thoroughfare, with no breakdown lane, my beloved Harley (ok, not as beloved as I couldn't feel my legs or hands) hiccuped, backfired so loud I thought a gun had gone off, and promptly died. With no throttle to keep me moving, I couldn't get over to the right side of the road, where the breakdown lane was. I pulled to the curb, as unconcerned motorists honked and sped by.

I turned the engine over and over, but no matter what--she was done. There was a gas station about a half-mile behind me, but in the mean time, I just prayed that no one would hit me.

Suddenly a cop appeared...then threw his lights on and pulled a guy over a quarter mile up the road. Thanks.

A few minutes later another cop pulled up and blocked traffic for me. He even helped me push the bike for a little while. Now THAT's a cop.

Turns out, in the end, that the spark plugs that I put in last year had fouled and quit. My buddy drove me to the auto parts store, and for $2.40, it was fixed (I think). Hopefully I'll be able to make it home in one piece.

I think I'll be selling the Harley before we leave for Montgomery.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I've been thinking of writing about politics, Iraq, anything going on in the world like I used to. But I just can't.

I read through my news blogs, reading about how the media is calling today the "3rd Bloodiest Day of the War,"about how Iran has banned IAEA inspectors from their country, or how the #2 Al Qaeda dude is taunting us regarding our new Iraq strategy. It makes my head hurt.

The world is not better today than it was when I started blogging from a war zone. And it's not the military's fault. I would venture to say that it's not even the President's fault, although my reading of Cobra II doesn't help my opinions of the administration. If I had to point a finger at anyone, I would point it again at the politicians in Washington as a whole, as I did over a year ago. There are so many fingers in this pie now that no one knows what to even do with it, and the combination of a sensationalist media coupled with self-serving politicians makes it monumentally worse. Again, I point my fingers at them and ask, "how many of you have sons in Iraq?" They make such a stink over everything, both Democrat and Republican, and fight and bicker so much that nothing gets done--so they take a day off to watch the BCS Title game.

How can our government survive while operating like this? How many people are going to die before someone, anyone, steps up and unifies those who are making decisions about our lives? Our next president has to be a leader--at this point I almost don't care what he stands for, as long as those who make the decsions will follow him.

That's why it's hard for me to pick a topic--because the system seems so broken that discussing it only gets me angry and frustrated.

Winter Wonderland

This is so cool.

We got 3 inches of snow last night. It hasn't snowed here since 2002. It's funny, because growing up, days like this were commonplace in Massachusetts. Tucson really has no idea how to deal with a snow day.

We went out last night and built snowmen, made snow angels, and had snowball fights until it was dark on the golf course. Really cool
Cowboy making his first snow angel
place to play with snow, by the way.

Today, they gave Princess a 2-hour delay for school, but cancelled all the busses. When I brought her in at 10:00, there were a grand total of 5 kids in the class. Made you wonder what the hell they were thinking in not just cancelling school for the day.

Princess's Super-Snowball
It's supposed to snow again tonight--I'll update with pictures when I get home, since they have suddenly blocked my Flickr account from work. You can see them now under my photos.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Housecleaning (Almost) Done


And so begins the new format. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Some new stuff--I linked my other blogs at the top, which might offer some insight as to why I've been so absent from this blog for a while.

Unfortunately I can't figure out how to get my drop-down blogroll to send a selection to the next website. Any ideas as to how to fix that would be more than welcome.

Thanks to Gecko and Fly for the new template. It took a lot of tweaking but I finally got it to work.

Hopefully I can start my therapy (blogging) again.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Direction

New world a'comin'.

With my newfound love of Flickr (amazing what you can get for a measly $25) has come a newfound desire to update this a little more often. I've been tinkering a lot with another template and hope to have a new version of this (Desert Odyssey 3.0) up and running soon. Either that, or I may scrap the whole DO thing and go in a completely different direction ala She Who Will Not Be Named.

What do you think?

UPDATE: I think I may have been a little overzealous here, but I was making good progress and just jumped in. It will be fixed soon.

Countdown to the Ring - Last Day

In theory, my Ring should be here any minute.

It is being shipped via UPS, ironically, the same people that lost my priceless original Ring in the first place) overnight from the company to my house, and is in a truck somewhere in Tucson.

I hope it fits.

Just the thought that it's in Tucson has got me all giddy. If I didn't live a half hour away I'd drive home to get it as soon as it showed up.

When we got our Rings in 1993 there was a tradition we upheld called "branding." There's no stone in the face of the Ring, just a molding of the Palmetto Tree and the numbers of your class, with the seals of the school on either side. The seniors would come crashing into the barracks to grab their favortie juniors (and sometimes sophomores, and if you had gotten drunk by that time freshmen) and tackle them to the ground. Said junior would then be the fine recipient of a "brand," in which the senior would press his newly-minted Ring into the forehead of the junior, hard enough to leave a near-perfect imprint of the Ring's face on his skin. Fiesty juniors would fight, which would result in the imprint coming in the form of a punch, rather than a press, and could sometimes be pretty ugly as the punch would smear across the kid's forehead. Smart juniors would simply acquiesce and submit to the tradition.

A problem that sometimes arose from this is that on the night we got our Rings, there were a lot of festivities, namely the Junior Sword Drill performance and the Ring Hop. Several times a year, we had formal dances and guys (their dates, anyway) generally didn't like to have their pictures marred by a big divot in their noggin. During our year, the JSD was banned, so that part was taken away. But we did have a Ring Hop, and the guys I chased down submitted easily in exchange for me going easy on them.

I think I'll brand my kids tonight (lightly, of course) since although a package from U People Suck isn't quite the same as a tear-filled ceremony in Summerall Chapel, it still is a very big deal to me.

My first Ring had the inscription "Ad Astra Per Aspera," a variation of the NASA motto, which means "to the stars through hardship." My best friend at the time, Dennis Tantalo, and I wanted something that we could put inside both of our Rings, and that's what we came up with. Afterwards, there were a number of phrases that I wished I had put in there instead. I also had my name, and "For Jenny," as a dedication to my sister.

This time around, I thought for a while as to what to put inside my new Ring. I kept my name and dedication to Jenny, but for a quote I was kind of at a loss. My life is so different now than it was the first time I slipped the Band of Gold onto my hand. It got me thinking of not only how different I am now, but also how different my life is compared to what I had envisioned it to be back then. Initially, it was all negative--I was supposed to be a fighter guy dropping bombs on the bad guys and breaking hearts all over the globe. Instead, I'm an overweight father of three, riding a desk. The more I thought of it, the more I agreed that I wouldn't want it any other way. Instead of focusing on what I had wished would happen and didn't, I looked back on all the accomplishments I've had since that day in October of 1993. Of all the dreams taht I didn't know I had that have since come true--most notably my three kids, the most incedible dream I could have ever had. After thinking of that for a while, and of my Grandfather who was there then but has passed on now, I came to the conclusion that he would be proud of me today for all that I've accomplished, and what he would want me to think of every time I looked at my new Ring.

"Dreams Fulfilled."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ben Smile

I've been getting so many comments from family and friends about this picture that I figured I'd post it on here. We took a no-notice trip to Waco, TX a few weeks ago. 1999.8 (no, I didn't want to drive around the block) miles in 2 1/2 days. For the trip we rented a minivan and bought Ben a forward-facing seat, which he (clearly) absolutely loved.

New Daily Read

Just found a GREAT blog--Useless Advice from Useless Men. Every post I've read so far had me rolling. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Picture Update

Since we figured out that our older Canon camera is a whole lot better than our current ones, we started taking pictures that are web-worthy. Unfortunately Blogger isn't allowing me to post them, so they're in my Flickr account on the sidebar.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Countdown to the Ring

In about twelve days I should be getting my replacement Ring in the mail.

On October 9th, 1993, I walked across Summerall Field in a long line to file into Summerall Chapel, what I still feel is the most beautiful church in the world. After a few speeches, we each walked up to the front and were given a small grey jewelry box, which we carried back to our seats. The tradition was for the entire class to put them on at the same time, so until the last senior had his box in hand and was back at our seat, we couldn't take them out of the box.

A lot of my classmates opened the boxes to look at the prized artifact that we had all worked so hard to get. For some reason, I remember taking it as a final test of discipline to wait until I put it on to lay my eyes on it. While the remaining 150 or so seniors' names were called, I stood there in the pew, in my full dress uniform, and stared at the grey box in my hands. I thought of all the people that had gotten me to where I was, of all the trials and tribulations of my life and time at The Citadel, of my family, my God, and my hopes and dreams. I said one final prayer of "thank you" to God and to my sister, Jenny, as the last names were called.

I can't remember the exact words, but the MC at the front of the chapel said something along the lines of "and now, members of the Class of 1994, remove your Rings from their boxes and place them on your hands, joining the thousands of men who have come before you in the Long Grey Line." I do remember the noise of hundreds of boxes snapping shut as we all put them on together, and I remember tears filling my eyes as I looked at the Band of Gold on my hand for the first time.

That was 13 1/2 years ago. Five years ago, my Ring was lost in the mail, and I vowed never to replace the Ring that had meant so much to me--as it wouldn't mean as much. It still won't but I finally caved and now it is only a couple of weeks away. I've been thinking that we should do something special the day that I get it, so that I can put it on with my family there at dinner or something. Not sure what to do at this point.