Thursday, August 31, 2006

update...

so, the interview went great. it's kinda funny, because i didn't know it when it happened but one of the people i work with is really good friends with one of the people that interviewed me. i'm in the i.t. field, and the folks that i interviewed with aren't headhunters or a placement agency. they're i.t. consultants. but everyonce in awhile a client of theirs will need to grow their staff and they'll ask these guys to keep an eye out for qualified applicants. this is a larger consulting firm with a full staff of recruiters and alot of their customers are smaller and don't really know all the right questions to ask. so the consulting firm loved me and think i'm a perfect fit for the job, and submitted me forward, but they're a little puzzled because neither them or i have heard from the actual client. however if it doesn't work out, apparently they liked me enough that i think i might get an offer from them as well.

so it's just a matter of sitting back and waiting now. oddly enough, on monday my department head (my boss' boss) called me into his office and asked me some pointed questions. last week i was making some copies on the multi-function printer and he jokingly asked if i was faxing my resume out, and asked me how i was doing. this week he asked again, and we had a long discussion. he's new, and he's really trying to make changes for the better and i think he'll succeed. so it's tempting to want to stick it out and see how things improve.

the long and short of it is that i think i'm in a win-win situation. if i get the job offer, it'll be a good step forward for me. if i don't, i think that the work environment here will improve significantly and i think there might be some growth potential here soon.

so that's what's been going on here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

elusive happiness...

... if you've read some of my earlier blogs, you know that i believe happiness is in the little things. a pain-free run when the temp and humidity is just right, waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you can go back to sleep for hours, a motorycle ride, sneaking out and watching a movie by myself in the middle of the day, a cold bottle of bohemia beer and some great mexican food, a good book... the list goes on and on. i think you have to be able to make yourself happy and you do that by achieving a balance in your life. setting goals to challenge yourself with, so that in the effort of reaching those goals you're stretching yourself and pushing your limits and hitting those milestones and getting that "accomplishment high" and also taking time to enjoy the little things in life. i don't think money = happiness, but i do think lack of money can = unhappiness. same with love and faith. it's all about the balance of all of these things.

the balancing act is what kicks my ass though. i don't make myself miserable by searching for some BIG form of bliss. but there are little things that gnaw at the back of my brain and keep me up at night. hateful things that scurry away when i try to shine the light on them. things that haze my vision when i look at myself in the mirror in the morning. and make my heart heavy sometimes. guilt? unrest? i don't know. is it happiness i'm looking for? fulfillment? something to complete me? a sense of purpose? i don't know.

the minute-to-minute of army life doesn't make me happy. there were times in iraq when if you just look at the emotion of the moment i was sad or pissed or whatever. 7 years ago when my enlistment came up i got the hell out of the army as fast as i could and thought i'd never look back. those five years of constant training for no real purpose drove me nuts. had i known what was to come 2 short years later, might i have stayed? quite possibly. i could go back on active duty tomorrow. walk into the recruiter's station and probably get a bonus out of the deal. i could stay reserve and volunteer for another mobilization. there's 2 groups from my unit going back to iraq in just a few short months. i could push people out of the way and possibly lead one of those groups with very little effort. it'd be rewarding and it'd make for a helluva year. but then what? what happens after the 20 years when i retire?

what's enough to dull the itch? if i forced myself through medschool and spent the following 20 years til retirement helping people would that help? had i actually followed the road to priesthood a decade ago would i be fulfilled today? does watching a kid mature and graduate and become a successful adult who contributes to society complete a person? starting my own business? police? EMT? firefighter?

it's like a drug. i don't know that the next fix needs to be bigger and bigger, but it needs to be there. that hit has to come from somewhere. is it being an andrenaline junkie? do you need that rush of succeeding under pressure? is it just serving? like i said, i could spend next year or the year after in the desert. both tours would sate the thirst for the year. while i was there and for a short time after i'd ride the buzz. well, if i wasn't stuck behind a desk the whole time. if i was interfacing with the youngsters and was showing them how it's done, feeling like i was passing on the knowledge and doing my part to grow good leaders. it's not a discussion you have with friends normally. but it'd be neat to find that 70 year old retired firefighter or cop or vet and ask him if he feels the tug. while writing this, the final scene from "saving private ryan" popped into my head. i don't think that self doubt is unique to him.

i'm not drunk right now, crying in my beer. i'm really fairly content in most ways. it was a full weekend. i got alot of work done, got some homework done. i'm listening to some lively jazz music on speakers that i spent a weekend rebuilding a couple of weekends ago. they sound so amazingly great, every piece of music i've pushed through them from jazz to rock, country to rap has sounded awesome. so there's a little back-patting going on.

but it doesn't compare to that feeling when you're completely exhausted from a full day of pushing yourself and succeeding and you're so tired you can't even bask in the moment. and you just love the feeling of the hot shower washing the effort away and the feeling of the cool sheets and the soft pillow as you're passing out.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


one of the best movies ever. excellent soundtrack as well.

the interview went well. got a followup soon. more to follow i'm sure.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

fish and houseguests...

have you ever overstayed your welcome? i've been with the same company for 7 years and it's time to move on. there were some serious issues here for a couple years, but the job market sucked so badly that i held onto the position. while it wasn't fulfilling and didn't allow room for professional growth the people were fun and it was a steady paycheck. we've gotten a new boss now, who is a really great team leader and understands that employees need to be appreciated, but it's really too little, too late. the decision was already made to go, and it's funny how once it is made, it is hard to unmake it in your head. the job here still doesn't allow for professional growth, and with 35 years to go before i hit retirement age, i constantly need to be growing and learning and adding tools to my toolbox.

i haven't been actively looking yet, but the feelers are out there. i'd been wanting to finish my degree first and catch my breath after the deployment, but a couple of opportunities have popped up. one is an i.t. management opportunity with a small company. on the surface that's perfect for me. it gets me the management/leadership role that i want to transition over from the military. i love team building and i hate leaving that behind when i take the uniform off. it's a decent pay hike and closer to home, and it's with a company that appears to value the i.t. department. i've got another interview with that tomorrow. wish me luck!

Monday, August 21, 2006

you know, i've been out in the real world for.... a really freakin long time now. i feel totally qualified to say i will probably never, ever use "advanced analytic geometry" in it.

days like this...

...are a large part of what keeps me motivated to finally finish my degree. so i guess in the long run i should be thankful for the suck that is my current job.

Friday, August 18, 2006

all a matter of perspective...


flipping through the channels tonight i found an episode of "china beach" playing on t.v. it was an episode where they had clips from interviews with vets interwined with clips from the show. as a kid i watched the show fairly religiously for a couple of years, mainly because of the cute girls. i understood what was going on with the show, i was in my teens, but i hadn't seen the show since then.

watching it tonight was weird. it was different to have this newer, adult understanding of it. after two rotations through two different combat zones i could actually relate to it. not just "understand it" but "been there, done that". kind of unsettling. weird. from the discussions of what it was like the first time you heard the mortar rounds walking in on your perimeter to the feeling of homesickness for the people over there once they'd come home. and hearing someone say they'd do it all over again.

my little act of pettiness...



the army has recently created an award called the Combat Action Badge that can be awarded to someone "who is personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement".

i found out yesterday that i had been submitted for, and approved to wear the award. i've got mixed feelings about this. on the one hand, i have a little problem with the concept of the award in the first place, and the related CIB. both awards are for soldiers who were engaged by the enemy and took appropriate action. in my mind, taking appropriate action is usually a good idea if you want to live. it's no guarantee that you'll survive the experience, but it sure improves your chances. appropriate action might be "take cover and return fire", or "proceeded at maximum rate of speed through the kill zone", or "decisively engaged the enemy". all of these things are better than "just stood there, dumbfounded, and was struck in the chest by 20+ rounds fired by the enemy". a key piece of a soldier's job is to be prepared to engage an enemy force, so it seems weird to me that we reward someone for just doing their job. the next thing that really bothers me about the CAB is that it's being awarded to people like crazy. in fact, this comic strip came out while i was deployed, poking fun of both the high rate of CAB's being awarded and the high promotion rates. they're being handed out so quickly, and with such disregard as to whether or not the individual receiving the award truly deserves it that the award is losing whatever meaning it might have.

lots of people are riding along in a helicopter or are a passenger in the back of a vehicle when it was fired upon. they had no idea they were shot at until after the engagement. what was their appropriate response? that they just kept sleeping through it all? or they are on the base when mortar rounds landed so far away as to be just a minor inconvenience, the dull "thump" woke them from their sleep. yet these people are all submitting paperwork just as fast as they can for the badge.

so, it's kinda funny to me, that even after all the bad-mouthing i've done of the award and many of its recipients over the last year, that i would be so proud to hear that it had been awarded to me. and in a weird way, the thought process is "if those jackasses got one, then i sure as hell should get one". it is a career enhancer. by itself it's not much, but it shows people i've been over there and (in theory) have been shot at and didn't lose my cool. it lends a little credibility to people who are meeting me for the first time and reading my uniform. they see a pair of wings, they see that badge, the rank vs. my apparent age, the combat patch on my shoulder... we're all guilty of first impressions, and in the military sometimes you're forced to make some snap judgements about people based on what you see. you're thrown into a mixed bag situation and have to get a job done in a hurry.

i know where i've been, i know what i've done. usually that's enough for me. or i say it is. but i guess i'm not above enjoying the fact that others know as well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

why am i blogging?

i suppose this is a question everyone has to answer. is it purely for interaction? to entertain? to sort stuff out that's bouncing around in your own? free therapy? i have been having some writer's block lately and i'm not 100% sure where it comes from. back before anybody read this, it was easy to just ramble on about anything. but then a couple people started reading and expressed interest to hear the soldier's point of view from iraq. i'm not there anymore, and i personally find my day-to-day life to be insanely boring, so putting it out there for others just seems to be a cruel torture. but then i like reading about other peoples' stuff, and i'm sure to them it seems boring, sooooo...

that's not the only cause for the block. it's just one of those streams of thoughts that bounces around. and then in addition to the inability to write, there's also timing. my role back home is alot more active than it was before i left, and it's engaging me on more fronts.

having said ALL of that, there are probably going to be a couple of posts today, time permitting. totally random stuff, of course.

so. dream update. i recently started a new medication, and oddly enough, it's affecting me in a couple ways. *tmfi follows* 1) my sex drive. on the one hand, i'm not really having sex, so it shouldn't really matter right? but when you've been a freak-perv your whole life, and then all of a sudden you stop thinking about it constantly, you're kinda left with this huge gaping void to fill. and it weirds you out. *end of tmfi* 2) dreams. i've been tossing and turning lately, waking up a couple times a night, and oddly enough, for like, 30 seconds after i wake up, i'm aware that something was going on. that it wasn't just a blank screen. i don't remember any details at all, but i'm aware that just as i was waking up, there was dialogue going on that i was listening to. either that, or people are talking over my head and hide from sight just as i wake up. i'm sticking with the dreaming thing because it's a little less paranoid sounding. 3) i'm focusing better, but not necessarily on the right things. i'm just focusing on whatever is in front of me at the time. so if it's screwing around, then i just focus better on screwing around. if it's work, then i focus better on work.

Monday, August 14, 2006

there are these two girls at work who are... well, we've been trying to come up with the right adjective for them for awhile now. if you like them, you'd probably describe them as "strong willed", "forceful" or "take-charge". if you're one of the people that they intimidate you might call them "bitchy" or "bullies" or something along those lines. i'm not attracted to either of these women, but at the same time the "i wonder what it'd be like to date one of those two" thought popped into my head today.

i've dated girls who absolutely, positively could NEVER be wrong before. i've dated girls who grew up in families that made them think the only way you could love someone or be in a relationship with someone was to scream at them at the top of your lungs. but that's not how these two girls are. they don't back down, if something irritates them, they address the situation right then and there, but they are totally capable of admitting that they are wrong. me, the avoider of all conflict and confrontation just doesn't know how to respond to that constant communication. it's intriguing.

the end.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

when i was a kid, my first car was a '67 ford fairlane. i can't express how much i enjoyed driving that car. our parents kinda pushed us a bit, so i ended up ready to graduate a year early. that was about the last thing i wanted to do so senior year i ended up just taking two or three classes and working two jobs. inbetween school hours and work, i'd screw around, go catch a movie, play tennis with one of the other guys who had a short schedule, harrass whatever girl i was trying to get to pay attention to me... but my favorite times were during the rainy season or during the winter. it was great to sit in the car and read a book and hear the rain coming down on the roof, or sit in it in the winter with the heater going and take a little nappy-nap-nap-nap. it was perfect, it was an old enough car and so freakin' huge that you could have the heater blowing full blast and it'd never quite overheat the cabin.

i've got a '67 ford galaxie now, it was the closest i could find to a fairlane at the time. i don't drive it as much as i would like to/should for a couple of reasons. i've had it for about 2 years and am carrying a little guilt for not getting it back to 100% before now, funny how the deployment kinda got in the way of my plans. and then i picked up the motorcycle and just really don't want to drive a car now. but i still try and take it out 2 or three times a week, whether it's just running to get groceries or just because i'm in shorts and don't want to change to jeans and boots to go grab something around the corner. tonight was one of those nights. i just needed to grab a level from target and didn't want to ride the bike. so i jumped in the galaxie and ran to target. while i was inside, the skies opened. it was great. i paid for my thing and came out and just really enjoyed the walk to the car. it was cold and refreshing, and i'm still close enough to my deployment that that's a total treat. and it was coming down HARD. when i got in the car, really all i wanted to do was just sit there for awhile and enjoy the drumming on the roof. funny how much sounds and smells can take you back. i was 16 or 17 again, my biggest concern was whether or not i was going to die a virgin and whether i'd embarrassed myself infront of girl (usually the anser to that was always "yes").

one of these days my 60000000 other unfinished projects will all get checked off the list and i'll get a chance to give that car the love and care and attention it deserves.

Friday, August 04, 2006

t.v. confessio... er... something.

... i like alton brown on the food network. can you believe i actually watch a show on the food network? or several of them. his new "feasting on asphalt" show makes me happy. and i want to not like him. he's a little pompous. he uses ten words when 2 would suffice. he uses BIG words when the little ones would be great. i think that's part of why i like "feasting on asphalt". you have this high-brow guy eating at diners across america. backroads kinda places. it's kinda refreshing to watch him eating burgers, dawgs, cheesesteaks and the like. i can clean up pretty nicely and order from a menu in a high-end place without embarrassing myself. but there's something about american comfort foods that makes me happy, meatloaf, chicken fried steak, burgers, pizza, etc.

... to continue with the foodnetwork... in iraq someone had a maxim magazine with pictures of rachel ray in it. after looking at that for a year i finally saw her on t.v. her voice really, really wasn't what i was expecting. kinda took something out of it.

... some of my male role models? red foreman, coach hayden fox, sam malone, al bundy

... i think i've finally gotten over the thrill of having a remote control and tons of channels with nothing on them that interests me. i'm actually going to bed before midnight again and walking away from the tube.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

i want to curl up under my desk and nap
thank you blogspot! just lost a rant i'd typed out. not sure that it's worth typing over again. i went to sam's club last night and i needed something else and walmart was next door, so i decided to see if they had it. normally i avoid walmart and kmart like the plague, but out of laziness i just walked next door to check it out. i found what i wanted and went to checkout and saw that they'd added monitors to every check-out line in the store. these monitors play music videos and stream news. and no one had a problem with this. no one should be standing in line long enough to watch music videos and commercials. instead of staffing the store adequately and training the cashiers so that they can get people through the lines in a timely manner, they just decided to try and numb the minds of the customers.

the thing about this is, people will still go to walmart because they're cheaper. but they don't look at the big picture. my time standing in line is worth so much more than that $.05 i saved on that one item last night. walmart has basically said "we know our service sucks, and we really don't care. we've got you by the balls and you're going to keep coming back to us, so we can pretty much treat you however we want. now shut up, your fellow customers can't hear the music!"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

blah...

... i'm having problems getting fired up to write. not for lack of topics, just the effort to sit down and capture it all. bascially, laziness prevails...

-this weekend i was moving and had borrowed a truck from work. i've been riding the motorcycle pretty much non-stop since i got it so it was the first time i'd been exposed to that much broadcast radio in awhile. one of the radio stations was playing the same bit every hour or so about the warped tour. apparently some band is letting the whole audience know that if they're enrolled in a public high school, all of their information is being given to the military recruiters. the funny part about this is that the newscaster was just making a big deal about this like it was some huge conspiracy. "part of the no child left behind act". this has been going on for years. if you go to a public school that receives federal funding for any of a lot of programs, the school tends to give military recruiters access to student contact information. military recruiters are allowed on campus to try recruit kids at job/college fairs. they're allowed to put literature in counselors' offices and can administer the asvab or a pre-asvab on campus. it's not a big deal. we're still a volunteer military. selective service is still required by law at age 18. the military is a very viable, sound career choice for many, many individuals. one of the services that the federal government is commissioned to provide is security for the nation. this requires a military force. the goverment is just trying to fulfill one of the obligations it is tasked with. i could go on and on about the silliness of this but i'm tired. the less than funny part of this though, is how far removed we're getting from a personal sense of obligation to the success of the nation. i've got family in thailand still, my mom was born there, as was i. while i was brought to the U.S. way to early in my life to remember any of thailand, i've still heard and seen enough to know how good i've got it here. it's an honor to me to be allowed to serve my country as a member of the military. alot of people still feel the same as me, and serve their country and fellow man in multiples ways; as nurses, doctors, police officers, teachers and firemen and many other thankless civil service jobs. but the outrage that people have about this recruitment issue is still scary to me.

-openmindedness. this is kind of related to the above topic. guess what? just because you go watch the gay pride parade doesn't make you "open-minded". a group of guys i was in iraq with were helping me to move and we were having a discussion about the military recruiters that had to leave a college campus in seattle because members of the student body got violent and had begun to throw things at them and were rioting their presence on campus at a job fair. this discussion was sparked by one of the radio things about the warped tour, and some nosey individual overheard us and butted into our conversation and started bashing the military and the recruiters for being on campus. hey, it's okay for other companies to come onto campus and try to recruit, but not the military. anyways, we started to poke holes in their argument and one of the guys said it was time to leave, and besides, the individual was closed minded and the argument wasn't going to make a difference. at hearing himself described as "closed minded" the guy became furious and started ranting and raving about how he was one of the most open minded people around. and actually used his gay friends and his attendence of a pride parade as proof. our military service had obviously brain-washed all of us and we wouldn't know "open-mindedness" if it bit us in the ass. i had no idea how effective an insult calling someone "closed minded" could be. but after a little reflection, i've found it funny to look back at the people i've associated with over the years. without a doubt, most of the ones who thump their chests and proclaim the loudest to be open minded are some of the hardest ones to have a even-tempered discussion with when we disagree on a topic, whether it's gun control, the roles of gays/women in the military, child rearing techniques, politics, religion or anything else. (and yes, i realize that while making a point about open-mindedness i'm painting some really broad strokes). they may never have fired a gun, raised a child, been in the military or whatever, but they will refuse to cede a point. they don't have to agree with who ever is arguing with them completely, but there should be some good back and forth discussions. (and no cynic, i'm not talking about you here, you've given your grudging blessing on somethings over the years and have ceded on several points). one of the things that is really fun for me is to watch how such people interact with a friend of mine. jason is really one of the most open minded people i know (and doesn't profess to be), but he has a confident, poised way of presenting himself that intimidates alot of people. and they make some very snap decisions based on that image, especially when they hear that he was former military. and most of those decisions or first impressions are wrong.

blah. i started this hours ago, and so much stuff kept popping up at work. so instead of getting the other random thoughts out there, i'm bailing. it's time to go home.

later.