Tuesday, May 30, 2006

i don't want to fly, but can i borrow your cape?

so. a friend of mine has this silver bra. apparently it's nothing special, but it's kinda shimmery and she likes the shape it gives her and when she puts it on she feels like a superhero. so she wears it when she needs a to kick a little ass. it puts her in that right frame of mind and she usually has an awesome day. i don't have a superhero bra, but i kinda understand what she's talking about.

i used to wait tables. i'm not really the most outgoing person. painfully shy might be a better way of describing it. that doesn't really mix with waiting tables, but most nights i could force myself to get the job done. i mean, i can take someone's order and i'm attentive enough to their needs that i normally got tipped pretty well. but everyonce in awhile i'd have an awesome night. i didn't have to work hard to talk to them, small talk rolled of my toungue easily, i was witty, charming and i raked the tips in hand over fist. a silver tounged devil, johnny-on-the spot... in the army we call'em "john wayne days". you can do no wrong, and you're a second ahead of the bad guys....

friday was kind of like that. the first couple days i rode the motorcycle to/from work it was still in the early break in period, so i couldn't really grip'n'rip. and i was going to work during prime rush hour, and i was still a little timid ont he new bike because i wasn't sure of where it's limits were. i walked into the office and had a new boss and there was some mutual proving all week, and just the stress of trying to get back into the swing of things. but on friday, i was a little late for work, and the scoot had 200 miles on it, and alot of people were skipping the drive in because of the holiday, so i really got a chance to zip-zip. weaving in and out of the traffic that was there. smooth, quick day at work, a couple problems popped up and i actually remembered the answers from a year ago and then when i rode home, traffic was even lighter... then late friday evening, someone called about a resume i'd sent weeks ago. it was the longest and best phone interview i've ever had. and i hung up with the impression that i'd be getting a follow up call to work out the details of a job offer. although i haven't received that call yet.

i still haven't quite figured out what my equivalant to the silver bra is... i wish i knew, it'd be awesome to turn a john wayne day on with the flip of a switch... what does it for you guys?

Monday, May 22, 2006

head's spinning...

well, today has just been... interesting. just one big sensory overload experience i guess. i experienced it a little at the mall this weekend, shopping for a new wardrobe. just being surrounded by that many people made me antsy. i kept wanting to do basics, checking for weapons and sensitive items, look for teammates and check exits, scanning the crowds for threats... and it was the same riding into work today. took "defensive driving" to new limits. we don't normally let vehicles get anywhere near that close to us over there, where here they're cutting me off and being normal stupid asses.

today i actually had to spend awhile figuring out what the heck to wear to work, instead of just grabbing whatever uniform was around and putting it on. deal with the traffic fight to work, and it's taken a good hour to figure out what i want for lunch. and work itself has changed loads. not all for the good. it's going to be an interesting couple of weeks/months as i a) job hunt and b) try to get things taken care of here without making things worse.

anyways, not a bad day, just a weird one. funny how all this stuff is completely normal until you're not doing it everyday for awhile.

first day back at my old job... i look thrilled, right?

and the new toy!

Friday, May 19, 2006

because i was tagged...

I AM: not ready for most of what life throws my way. but i improvise with the best of them.
I WANT: a passionate yet drama free relationship. contentedness without boredom. to catch my breath.
I HATE: stupidity in all its forms, even the ones i'm guilty of. racism, sexism, etc..., people who can't think for themselves, people who can't think ten steps into the future and see possible consequences of their actions and the list goes on...
I MISS: Iraq already, can you believe it?
I FEAR: failing, heights, making small talk with strangers.
I HEAR: really bad music because i'm too lazy to get up and change the track on my mp3 player, the dryer, highway traffic.
I WONDER: where i'm going to end up jobwise/armywise/personal life wise in the next 6 months.
I REGRET: some of the stupid things i've done that have hurt others. this would fall under "people who can't think ten steps into the future and see possible consequences of their actions", i sometimes fail miserably at this. heat of the moment and all... also not going special forces when i was younger, i would've had a much different military career.
I DANCE: very, very badly. but i still try with the right people.
I SING: even worse than i dance. i can't tell you how many times i heard that it was impossible for me to sing as badly as i do because i play instruments. i still don't get the correlation, but apparently because i can tell by sound when i'm out of tune on an instrument, i'm supposed to be able to do the same vocally?
I CRY: hah. as if.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: looking out for my own best interests. i frequently say "yes" to things for reasons other than my own well being. which sometimes gets me a little messed up.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: trouble. lots and lots of trouble... no, i'm fairly mechanically inclined. read paperback writer's description of herself. i don't claim to do any of the things half as well as she, but i like being able to do a little of everything, artsy stuff, practical stuff and whatever else...
I WRITE: on my blog. i've done some tech manuals in my day, and i've been tempted to pursue that for the money, but the truth is it'd bore me to death.
I CONFUSE: to and too frequently. and i like trouble's answer to this.
I NEED: about another month of vacation...
I SHOULD: be doing homework. 2 classes left. ugh.
I START: way too many projects. A.D.D. posterchild. strattera anyone?
I FINISH: about 50% of what i start for fun. but 100% of what i start for work usually. a boss who used to work to my strengths and cover for my weaknesses better than anyone i've ever worked for used to call me the 80% troubleshooter. whenever there was a problem or new project, he'd sick me on it. i'd slam dunk the solution, but hate doing the detail work at the end of it, documentation, etc... so he'd pair me up with someone who was really into that kind of stuff and fire us off. and alot of the emergency problems didn't need a full 100% solution. they just needed a quick fix to get through the bad part, and that was it.

i'm tagging jules and megan and elcynic because misery loves company

One of my more favorite movies. Haven't seen it in a couple of years and was just flipping through the channels. Guess that shoots my morning plans out of the water...

i got this from el cynic... she gave me "s"

Comment on this entry and I will give you a letter if you want. Write ten words beginning with that letter in your journal, including an explanation of what the word means to you and why, and then pass out letters to those who want to play along.

1. sean... kinda obvious, huh? not that i'm really full of myself, but it is kinda nice to know when people are talking to you...

2. stereo... music, much love. i know karen would like me to put "smiths" down here somewhere, but it's probably not gonna happen.

3. Spenser... i love the series. thank you Robert B. Parker. sure, maybe you're stereotyping your characters a little bit now in old age, but it's still been a fun ride.

4. sportster... i might go pick mine up today! yay!

5. spyderco... great knives. they've been through multiple deployments with me and they're still ticking.

6. sushi... just a craving i'm having right now...

7. steak... just a craving i'm having right now...

8. sex... just a craving i'm having right now...

9. sand... the sent of iraq. i'm trying to get it out of all my belongings.

10. speed... i used to be a speed freak. in more recent years, i'd started to regain my sanity and wasn't feeling quite so brave at high speeds, but i think a certain sense of cockiness has returned. i think it's just the difference between sitting at a desk job and doing the military thing for awhile.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

quick updates...

-well, my buddy finally got his truck and apparently started driving home. he also found his cameras. friday night someone who was amazingly drunk took the case out of our rental. and flew home with it. so it'll be here when he comes home.

-i made it home safe and sound. it's been kinda a hassle. you know that feeling when you come home from a week's vacation and you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? and you see all the mail that's piled up while you were gone, and you open the fridge and remember there was something on the bottom shelf that you forgot to throw away and your car magically developed a flat tire? yeah. multiply that feeling by 52 times... heh. read this in a non-bitching tone. the next week is going to be a bit of a hassle. because i had to burn up most of my emergency leave when my sister passed away, i've only got a couple days off before i need to get back to work.

-started the job hunt process. multiple resumes have gone out and a couple replies have come back. we'll keep going with it and see what happens.

-i know this has been relatively boring. i'll try to get more stuff up soon.

Monday, May 15, 2006

where to start?

the title says it all. it's been an interesting week. i could go into minute details of the pain involved or do a one of the world view. we got in a week ago sunday late, probably got into bed after midnight and were waking up at 4:30 to start the process of exiting active military service. it was a week of briefings, turning in gear, packing gear, paperwork and exercises in stupidity. it's really quite embarrassing that we've been doing this for five years solid now and the process hasn't been refined any better. a competent crew of people should've been able to reduce the amount of work involved to about 3 days. a great crew should've been able to drop it to one or two.

a good friend of mine tried to buy a truck through a px consessionaire (yup, it's going to be one of those stories...). i looked into buying my new bike through the same group, but chose not to, because they were asking MORE than MSRP on the bike. they go on and on and on about how they're the best deal in town and they are so much cheaper than buying in the states, but i paid almost 2k less through a dealer in co. anyways, my buddy was supposed to be able to pick up the truck as soon as we hit the ground in nc. as soon as he can, he calls and things just go down hill. first they can't find the truck. they think they never received it. then they say they received it, but they must've sold it to someone else. then they've found it, but he can't pick it up unless he comes up with a certified check for $3000. he doesn't bank with a bank that has a branch in nc so he jumps through all sorts of hoops to get a wire transfer. so friday night rolls around and he still doesn't have a truck and we're all looking at flying home on saturday. he was going to drive to chicago and then to wisconsin to see family before returning to co. i decided to change my ticket to stay until today with him.

well, everyone gave me grief about that. "no, you CAN'T stay". "you need to go home with the group!" why? tons of people were starting their leave in nc. "well, he's a grown man, he can take care of himself" well, it wasn't totally selfless service on my part, i wanted to stay and hang out and see nc. and we've stuck together and watched out for one another for so long, what would another day or two hurt? well, good thing i did. we finally got released on friday night and went to get a NICE hotel room. after we get checked in we decided to go to a bar and on the way stopped for cash. atm machine ate his debit/credit card. his only card. his only source of money for the next x many days.

so we went to columbia on saturday, saw some friends there and then slept late on sunday and continued onto the beach at isle of palms. joined a VFW post there and had a great dinner before heading back to nc. we get back to the hotel last night and he realizes he's lost his camera case with about 3k of camera equipment in it. to include a canon eos rebel that's less than a week old. i finally met someone with worse luck than me. so today we wake up insanely early, drive to raleigh where i catch the first leg of my flight home (i'm now in charlotte, waiting hours for my next leg) and he goes to pick up his truck. apparently they've got NO record of his wire transfer. so i feel like i might've left him high and dry. he's got my atm card and my pin number, but he's still got to get out of that black hole that if fayettevile and start traveling home. insanity!

i'm headed home now. started to post the resume and send it out to a couple people. keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, May 12, 2006

the first beers in qatar, same day we left iraq

this guy doesn't speak for all of us, and i wasn't trying to get this shot. but when i downloaded the photos, there it was. it just seemed like a typical war photo that needed to be up there.

the "freedome bird" waiting to take us home.

i was trying to put these in a different order, but accidently deleted one, then.... blah.

damn the man!

well, i was trying to upload photos for you guys, but it isn't working so well. i'll try again later. we're back in the states and going through the hell that is more painful than being deployed. aka the "muic".

Saturday, May 06, 2006

just a quick note...

to say that we're no longer in iraq. we're not home yet, we're on one of the many stops home, but it's been one of the longest/weirdest days ever, as are most of the in/out of country days. we went from rushing to get everyone on the plane and out of the country to relaxing with beers and swimming and tanning and fretting about finding a computer that would let us check email... hopefully we'll be stateside soon!

thanks for all the good wishes and words of encouragement in the comments. sorry i haven't had time to reply! you guys are awesome.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

i'm freaking out a little bit...

it's almost over. in a very short time (relatively speaking) we'll be back in the states. and i have no idea how to put any of this in words. to us, in the scope of our lives, what we just did was a big deal. pretty insignificant in the whole of the human experience i know, but it was over a year out of our lives. we came together as strangers, built some awesome teams, came over here, did our jobs and did them well. we had an impact on the country, on the army, and hopefully this will all be successful. but it's over. time to go home and let the new guys do the job. and it's weird to sit here in this quiet tent and just let it roll off of me. this is the first real time i've had to sit and do nothing without interruption, when i haven't been so exhausted that i passed out almost immediately. someone just put a pin to the balloon. it's not an anxiety attack but it's just a really weird euphoric/depressing/high/low and everything in between feeling.

when you're on active duty, your unit is the village that raises the child. if things work the way they're supposed to, you bond and you're one huge extended family. members rotate in and out but it's still there. we've had that now for the last year, and that's coming to an end as well. alot of these guys aren't from this unit. they were add-ons, like me. i'll have to go find a new home at the end of this. it's weird. i've seen this before. some close bonds will stay, but the unit kind of dissolves quickly upon return. strange not to have that permanance like on active duty.

the other thing that freaks you out a little bit? or me rather? almost half our crew left tonight. they're on their way home now. right before they left the first sergeant came up to me, dragged me aside and made me promise him that i wouldn't let anyone do anything stupid before we got home. that it'd break him if we lost someone this close to the end because of stupidity. we've already had one memorial service, we can't do another. everyone is tucked in for the night. but we'll just have to step the vigilance up a little tomorrow.

last night i was in the latrine and a mortar round hit and hit close. that was an interesting experience. it's happened before, so close that we've seen shell casing parts fly past our heads and looked at one another and said a quiet prayer of thanks... but last night was a little different. "oh hell the f**k no! i did NOT get through an entire year of this crap to buy it with only two days left in country!"

just my lovely efforts to keep ya'll informed...

the end is here...

i'm changing it up and stopping with the rants for a few and just talking about what's going on. we've had a lot of stuff going on around here lately. we finally finished the change of command inventory a week ago and signed all of our property over to our replacements. that's a HUGE weight off of your shoulders, because at that moment, they assume responsibility for the equipment. and that means that you're then cleared of all losses or missing equipiment. everything is accounted for or replacements have been ordered. we did our thing where we took our counterparts around and showed them where to go and who to talk to and how we did our jobs. then we loaded all of our stuff and got inspected by customs officials. yesterday we had our awards ceremony and over the course of the last couple of weeks we've been writing ncoers and getting them finalized. those are the evalution reports for the non commissioned officers and their performance downrange. that was a very difficult process. but it's over as well, and nice things were said about me. always nice to know people recognize your efforts. and i appreciate that kind of recognition more than awards. it's more individualized and not everyone gets the positive evaluation. one of the best bullets about me stated that the army would best benefit if i was always be placed in positions where i'm training and influencing junior nco's. that is a huge compliment to me and i can't express how proud i am of that.

on the more personal front, things are getting interesting. i sent out an email to friends asking for help with the job hunt. i got one email from a friend saying that he had a possible in for one of two jobs with a major retail chain. that would be a huge step for my career, to work on the computer infrastructure for a company that big. another friend of mine is recently retired from the military and has opened his own business and is doing well, and has asked me to come on with him. that's the opportunity i really want, but i have some concerns about the position, mainly not wanting to come back to iraq really quickly, and wanting some security. we'll discuss it. i've also got an interview with a company when i get home in denver. so there's alot of possibilities. hopefully one of them pans out.

as you all know, some of the better moments are when people you consider your peers or maybe even your betters in a certain field come to you for help. that's actually happened alot here with me, and that's been very rewarding. i've been asked for commo help and i've also had people ask for help with tactical stuff. i've frequently jumped in on convoys or other missions as an extra gun at the personal request of whoever was running the mission. considering that i was always the gawky, uncoordinated bastard, it's kinda nice. i might still stuck at alot of sports and am the ultimate white man on the dance floor, but some things i do well. what was really good was having an sf guy personally give me a parting thank you gift for the assistance we gave them. then a small group of contractors that pull security over here offered me a position. these types of companies frequently run adverts for former military personnel with certain skill sets, but having a guy come up and try to recruit you for his team or his region personally is a little different. means i must be doing something right and is just another personal compliment. those are the little things that mean so much and get you by.

i've also been pre-approved for a home loan this last week. i'm still not 100% keen on the idea, but i've been thinking about it alot lately and thought it was time to take the plunge. so i've been looking at stuff online and trying to get an idea of what i'm looking for/vs what i can afford. so that's exciting.

so life isn't all bad over here. there's lot of good, exciting stuff going on. and we'll be home. soon.
this is what i tried to write/post yesterday. or as best as i can recreate it:

for some reason, i've been designated the person to write emails to companies on behalf of the guys here when something breaks. so because of this i've gotten very involved with some of the customer service departments and wanted to take a few minutes to put a thanks out there into the internet of the companies that served us well. And I'd also like to give a nod to the companies that just made their products right the first time so we didn't need the warranty service.

gerber knife and tool... this is a mixed review. i think things went downhill with them for awhile after they were bought out/joined with fiskars. they dropped alot of their better tactical knives, classics that had been around for decades (and for a good reason), and i think their overall quality slipped a little. not a huge amount, but enough to be noticable. i especially hate their multi-tools. for the last decade i've seen joes buy their pliers and watched them break within the year. they've always had a problem with their jaws, but they've never seemed to address that. i've tried to steer people away from them. however, three of their pliers broke within a week here and when i emailed them about it they sent a nice apologetic email and got three pliers in the mail almost immediately. we had those within a week. in their defense, in the last two or three years, they've started to come out with some great looking knew products and it seems like someone has finally gotten the idea that when lives depend on it, quality isn't an option.

leatherman tools... this is the counterpoint to the gerber thing. their products are wonderful. and when i say that, you have to understand that i used to hate them with a passion. they seemed so clunky compared to the gracefulness of a swiss army knife. big, bulky, uncomfortable. but they were the first to market with the multi-tool, and they've never slowed down to give the competition a chance to catch up. they've continued to innovate. when i sent my complaint email to gerber, i cc'd leatherman and sog tools because i praised their tools, leatherman said "thanks" and they sent me a t-shirt. a friend gave me a charge ti the christmas before i came here and that thing has been heavily used and abused while we've been here. it's been on my hip everyday and served me well.

sam's club... they've taken care of me not once, but twice. the first time i was mobilized back in 2001, i had a laptop i'd bought from sam's. i was using it for college and it stopped working. i contacted the manufacturer and they told me that i could lose the laptop for 2-4 weeks while it was being repaired or i could pay them for a new laptop and when they received my old one, they'd reimburse me. neither one of those sounded good to me, so i emailed sam's and they replaced it that same day. this time i had a different laptop i'd bought from them, and when i went home in october for my sister's funeral, my laptop failed on me. i took it to sam's club and they said it was so old that if i turned it in to them, they'd lose money on it. so i went out to the parking lot and called the manufacturer. they said they could and would fix it under warranty, but they refused to send it back to me in iraq, even though it was an apoae address. i went back into sam's and they told me to pick up a new laptop off the shelf. in both cases, amazing service. i can't tell you how much i needed the laptops in both cases, for school, to stay in touch with home, for the photos... everything.

ka-bar knives... i've had the same usmc kabar for ten years. i've beat the hell out of it and i trust that with my life in the right situation. they've made a newer model that's out of a more brittle metal. it's a give and take that they knew when they created the knife. although the metal was more brittle and couldn't be used as a hammer or prybar like my old one could, it holds the edge better and can be honed to a sharper edge. anyways, two of the newer models broke here. not necessarily because of abuse, but just a mixture of things. kabar immediately sent out 3 knives to replace the broken two. and one of them was an incredibly more expensive version. i can't ding them for quality. our guys were too dumb to pay attention to the different models and to see what they were using. but as soon as there was a problem, ka-bar took care it without question. awesome guys.

inova lights/emmissive energy... these guys make some of the most awesome flashlights ever. people here love the surefires and pelicans and i can't speak badly of those. but the inova xo3 model light is bright, it's an l.e.d. which lasts for ever and it's a clean, white light. i had a problem with the cheesy sheath they sent over here. i emailed and they replaced immediately. they sent me two tactical versions that were made by a DIFFERENT company. expensive sheaths. you can't speak highly enough about that kind of service.

sportsman's warehouse... these guys are great. around christmas, i realized some of our guys weren't getting mail and started talking to friends back home about it. sportsman's warehouse adopted our unit and sent tons of presents and packages to my guys. good stuff! not cheesy things we didn't need or want, knives, weapons cleaning kits, knife sharpeners, cameras... good, usable stuff that made a difference over here. guys from my company adopted some of my guys on an individual basis, and i thank them, but i don't like putting real names on this stuff.

underarmour... i thought it was hype, could you really tell the difference between one type of t-shirt and another when it's over 130 degrees? hot is hot, right? well, you can. these guys make an awesome product that holds up well and feels great against your skin. even better? the head of marine forces in iraq has forbidden his guys to wear underarmor shirts off base on combat operations. they're made of synthetic materials and when they catch fire, they flare. rather than bitch about this like some companies would, underarmor supports him 100% and states that their main concern is the safety of the soldiers. while i do think they charge way too much for their product, i do think it's a great item.

starbucks/dunkin donuts... both of these companies have sent tons of coffee over here for the soldiers. i'm not a drinker, but i know the difference having a good cup of quality coffee can make in one's outlook.

oakley sunglasses... these guys make great products. i've watched people abuse their oakleys and the frames just suck up the abuse. i've never seen a plastic frame break over here, and i've rarely seen the lenses get damaged other than scratching. and they have special discounted rates for soldiers on certain products that we need over here. i wear prescription sunglasses and they made me a set that still meets safety glass ratings for half the price i would've paid back home for that.

london bridge trading company... these guys hand make most of their tactical nylon bags. i've had mine for a year over here and i've abused it. it's been thrown on and off helicopters and trucks. it's been dragged across the parking lot when someone set it close to a humvee and a strap caught on the truck, it's been way overstuffed everytime i've taken it on a long trip and yet no seam has torn and it still looks brand-new.

camelbak... these guys are making high quality tactical bags. you hear about companies like blackhawk and eagle alot, but camelbak has quietly been making these great bags that are often a much more finished product than the competitors'. we bought a bunch of these bags for our guys and have not had a single warranty issue with any of them. and they've got more organizer pockets, etc. that make sense than alot of the other guys. we were issued some cheaper model camelbaks when we came into country and some of those leaked. i emailed the company and they sent me cases of bladders. way more than we needed as replacements. awesome products, awesome service.

garmin gps products. let me preface this by saying that i've never used a magellan product. i'm not bashing their company, but i've now owned four different garmin products and all four are still going strong. they've been abused, dunked underwater, one skittered off the top of a humvee, hit the ground, bounced a little and still worked when i picked it up. they're very easy to use if you take the time to read the manual and the preface to the gps system. i can honestly say that these things add a level of confidence when you're leaving the wire to go into dangerous areas. it's nice knowing if your truck gets shot out from under you, you know how to make it home. and there have been times when we've been out traveling, a road has been closed and we've been forced to divert on the fly, and we've been happy to have those suckers along for the ride.

that's all i can think of for now. i'm sure there are more, so i apologize but there might be a "part II". i know this is boring reading, but it's something i needed to do.

of course, i must once again say how much some companies, like APPLE suck. their products haven't stood up well over here at all, and their service is appalling.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


i hate being negative and so i wanted to write a post about all the great companies that have supported us here and some of the great products i've used. the computer promptly ate it. and it's late, so i'm not retyping it all right now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

they say the human body doesn't remember pain or discomfort...

... as a survival mechanism. that you remember the concept of pain, but that you can't recreate the feeling for the sake of memory. i don't know how true this is, but it's interesting to think about sometimes. today we were loading pallets and doing our customs inspections. we were out in the sun for five or six hours, worked through breakfast and lunch and sweated like crazy. i didn't even notice it until it was over and we were headed back to the house. then i saw how shakey i was, even though i'd been drinking water and how ravenous i was. it was weird to run my fingers through my hair and feel all the salt deposits, in my hair, on my face and in my temples, on my skin. while i remember the numbers of the heat from last summer, some of the concrete feelings of discomfort had been forgotten in just six months.

so we cleared customs. that was our last big hurdle before leaving. we're doing an awards ceremony tomorrow, which is really a little depressing because alot of people are taking awards very seriously. yesterday at customs it was weird to watch the guys who just sit around and do absolutely nothing while everyone is working. it was a great little micro-view of this entire last year. the true leaders popped out within minutes of hitting the ground. barking orders and getting the job done. the true followers jumped and ran, but never took initiative to do anything on their own. they were happy to have it broken down for them and to do exactly what they were told, but they've done this so many times that they shouldn't need that constant supervision. and then the newly promoted sergeants, who thought it was now their right to stand back and watch everyone else work. that they'd earned the right to take a supervisory role. not realizing that they didn't know shit about the job to be able to supervise it effectively or that many people senior to them were in there busting knuckles and getting dirty building the pallets up. and then the guys who've been deadweight the entire time we've been here. who made no attempt to help, hid behind their rank and just watched. sucked down water and complained about how long it was taking, while doing nothing to actively speed the process up.

there's a pecking order to the army awards system. and there shouldn't be. you read the books and regulations and they clearly lay out the requirements for each award. but because humans are involved the whole system gets quite f'ed up. in afghanistan all officers were submitted for a bronze star medal. that's a fairly weighty award. it was an automatic thing. enlisted had to be e-8 or above to be submitted for the same award automatically, and e-7 or below had to have extreme justifications to get their submission for bronze star approved. according to the manual, that's not the way it's supposed to be. the award decision is supposed to be based on merit. and what they're saying there, is that the officer's sacrifice is greater than the enlisted? that it's harder for an officer to be away from friends and family for a year than it is that poor dumb private? or just because someone is an officer they automatically make a bigger contribution to the war effort? their power point slides do more to win the war than the guy who keeps water stocked so that nobody passes out from dehydration? the reality (in my mind at least) is that not everyone over here deserves an award. the crap about giving out promotions and awards just for showing up and doing our job is insane. i have uncles who were doing serious, serious things in vietnam and came home without medals. by now they're probably eligible for some south east asia campaign medal, but that's way to late. all the army is doing now is cheapening the awards and spitting in the eye of those that came before us.

anyways, this wasn't supposed to be sour grapes. we're through customs, we're doing the ceremony and we're going home very, very soon! it's just funny, alot of people have said "man, i bet you're happy to be going home" or "i bet you're thrilled this is almost over", but the reality is i wasn't. a large part of me wanted to stay here. but after the last three weeks of consolidating all of us into one location, and seeing all the pettiness and bickering coming about, it's really putting a sour end on the tour. so it's time to go home.