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.