Tuesday, October 31, 2006

sometimes i get a tiny little bit overextended...


this last month has freaking flown by and it doesn't look like things are slowing down anytime soon. i'm no busier than anybody else, but i keep saying "yes" instead of "no" when people ask for that little bit extra and that's what kills me. instead of one weekend of reserve stuff this last month i did two, to help out. ran a leg in the denver marathon, helped some people move, put in alot of after-hours time at work, silly stuff like that. next thing i know october is gone....

part of the problem was this post though... when i wrote it, i meant to follow it up, especially after i got some comments. so much so that i was awake all freaking night because i couldn't get my brain to shut off. did i get out of bed and start typing away though? no. that would've been way to easy. two days later when i finally got a chance to start typing it out, i hated everything i wrote. all the stuff that seemed so clear in the middle of the night wasn't... i probably spent another 3 or 4 days trying to figure out what i wanted to say and then life interupted again.

oh well. i'm back on track now with other stuff. here's photos of the marathon fun. two weeks before the marathon some folks approached me about running. not a helluvalot of advanced notice. i agreed but said i wanted to run short legs. i'd run multiple legs, but damnit, they'd better be short. turns out the transitions weren't geared that way, there were going to be two 8+ mile legs, a 5+ and a 3+. i agreed to the 3+. no problem. i could gut that out. the morning of one of the other guys was worried, he thought he'd broken a bone in his foot. so with about 30 minutes notice i took one of the 8s. i figured it was all varying degrees of suckage at that point.

Monday, October 30, 2006

once upon a time i was going through some training being taught by l.a. county swat guys. we'd long since done room clearing and were working on clearing 2 story buildings and city blocks. we were getting pretty good and so these guys were mixing things up. i was first through a room door and one of them was standing in one of the blind corners with a hand grenade in one hand, the index finger on his other hand looped the ring of the safety wire, ready to pull. i started yelling at him to put the grenade on the ground and he just stood there. i really had NO idea what to do and lowered my weapon to ask him what the right thing to do in the situation was. we talked about the scenario for a few minutes and he told me that he had no idea what the RIGHT thing to do was, but that i did the wrong thing by stopping. In his mind anything would've been better than nothing. I could've shot him, and continued through the room and out the window if he pulled the pin as he died, or back out of the room and hit the ground in the hall. or kept trying to talk him into giving up the grenade.

we frequently train and train and mess with one another. we'll never be able to prepare people for every situation. that's not our intent. our intent is to get people to think. and to expose them to as much as possible so that when things go south their intincts will lead them in the right direction. and we're repeatedly told that there is no WRONG decision when you're in the middle of it, as long as you make some decision and keep moving through the situation. outnumbered and out of ammo? fix bayonnets and charge. the bad thing is freezing under the pressure and doing nothing.

there's a song out right now that makes me think of this frequently, "if you're going through hell" by rodney atkins. the refrain goes:

Yeah, If you're going through hell
Keep on moving, Face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there
Yeah you might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there
Yeah.
i was reading "delta force" by col. beckwith. he talks about the failed mission by delta force to free the hostages from the u.s. embassy in 1980. the ground force was on the ground and the helos had come in to pick them up and take them into iran. the spare helos had failed and they didn't have enough to lift them into iran so the mission was being scrubbed. the troops were loaded on the c-130's and were ready to take off when one of the helos hit one of the planes, catching it on fire. i'd like to share a passage:
But his surprise was nothing compared to that of the Blue Element operator who had dozed off on the C-130 just before the helicopter crashed into it. At the explosion, he had awakened and joined the line of guys exiting the plane through one of the hatches. There was smoke and fire. The engines were still running and the aircraft was shaking violently as the chopper continued to cut into it. The operator evidently thought that while he was dozing the 130 had taken off and was now airborne. When it was his turn to leave he automatically assumed a freefall parachute position and jumped. He landed spread-eagled on the ground. Afterward his mates asked, having jumped, what he was going to do next without a parchute? "I don't know," he answered. "I was just taking one thing at a time."
i don't know if i can take it to that extreme yet... but i do believe in the concept. i don't know why, but for some reason i've been the guy that a couple people are calling way to regularly to gripe about the problems in their life. and to be honest their issues really aren't so bad. they just need to suck it up and get through it. tighten the belt, kick the cheating girlfriend/boyfriend out, tell the boss to kiss their ass or get serious about the job hunt. they're in these awful situations but aren't taking any steps to get themselves out of it. sometimes it's important to distill stuff down to the basics. these are those little things i have to remember when I'M the one in the crappy situation.

Friday, October 27, 2006

i try not to get into politics...

but i've just got to say... just because we stop fighting them doesn't mean they're going to stop fighting us.

http://www.army.mil/terrorism/read.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/target/

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

the wonder years...


i used to watch "the wonder years" alot as a kid. i guess i kind of grew up with it. kevin arnold was roughly my age, give or take a couple and things that happened to me usually happened on the show, or vice versa. sometimes he was a little ahead of my time and sometimes i grew up before he did, but the shared experiences were there. i think i was probably a little older and graduated before he did, but it moved in a little more of a compressed time frame. we moved so much i didn't have a huge circle of close friends, so things like that helped a little. nice to know you're not the only weirdo out there, you know? i think one of the really neat things about the timing of the show in my life was the narration. daniel stern was there as the adult looking back on his life to let you know that maybe you never forgot the crap that happened to you, but you learned to deal with it, the pain got less with each passing day and life goes on. my dad isn't a big t.v. watcher, but that was one of the few programs he could stomach, and it was kind of the same with him. there was such a commanality about the show, so many can and could relate to it. it'd remind him of something he had done or been through as a kid and he was able to talk about it as well. kind of helped us communicate.

one of the episodes dealt with sons realizing their dads aren't superman. it was funny, this really didn't happen to me until much later in life. i mean, i knew my dad made mistakes but he was always my hero. when it got weird was later in life, when i was a young adult, making some decisions based on morals. my dad is a good man, but he grew up in a different time than i did, and definately in a much harsher environment. a dirt-poor farm, a one room school-house. bread and butter sandwiches because there was no money for anything else to put between the slices. hand me down everythings, from books and clothes to musical intruments. up before dawn to do chores and bedtime when it was dark because of no t.v. and no money to pay for alot of lights. he hated the farm with a passion and couldn't wait to get away from it. he did this and that for awhile and ended up eating cereal the last couple days before the paycheck came. where i joined the military out of a sense of obligation and and adventure, he joined strictly for the college money. he didn't go to vietnam to fight for god and country, he went because it was the only way to get the extra money for school. huge difference between the two of us. he's a realist first, and an idealist second, i'm probably an idealist first and a realist second. funny how much of a gulf that difference in priorities can create when you're in your early 20's and making some serious life decisions.

we spent a couple years where we had very little contact with one another. not because of any problems, but my whole family is fairly autonomous. we'd call once every couple of months to check in with one another and that was good. there were supposed to be christmas visits, but my older sister was home recuperating with no immune system and so our visits could've been deadly. other times i had military obligations and life just kept going on.

in recent years we've become significantly closer. i'm not sure what happened. i'd like to say it's because i've grown up, and i'm sure that's a part of it, but i don't think that's all of it. i think dad comes from a different age, where providing for the family was the most important thing ever. and he was in the partnership with mom. she took care of us in her way so that he could travel and do his thing and take care of us in his. he missed alot of birthdays and soccer games because he was on the road traveling. but he always told us he loved us and he was a great dad. he doesn't have alot of imagination. he had problems playing pretend games with us. and that hampered our ability to connect with him when we were really young. but as i've got older i went to him more and more for advice because he's just the smartest person i know. he's got an amazing ability to detach himself from a situation and look at it from all angles. i would've loved to see him as a military leader. i think as all the kids have moved out of the house and the retirement fund was fairly well topped off, dad started to take alot of time to enjoy life more. the weight of responsibility was off of his shoulders and he was able to breathe a little. that made him alot more fun. and for some reason we all sold him short. thought of him as a little more rigid and closed minded than he really is. i think there was "dad, the father" who had to be somewhat strict and overbearing and "dad the person". now that he's not responsible for our rights and wrongs he's not preaching and lecturing so much. now that we've shown we can stand on our own two feet he's more open. it's been neat getting to know more about him.

i think we all grew up alot with this last year. losing my sister brought us all alot closer together. we say things we said before, but we say them more often now. dad surprised the hell out of me the other day. i got a very nice letter from him and a box with a beautiful book about fathers and sons and a good luck charm from a recent trip to japan. we're different, both from each other and from the way we were years ago, but this new phase in our relationship is really exciting me. he still disappoints me sometimes, especially when he listens to what he hears on the news about iraq and the middle east instead of me, the guy who's been there twice... and i know not alot irritates him more than me riding the sportster every chance i can. but we've gotten over the silly little battles about silly little things.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

one of my worries in the blog thing is repeating myself. there are times when i sit down to write and get part way through an entry and it sounds so much like something i wrote before. whether that's just because i was THINKING about writing it before while i was running or driving or doing whatever...

trouble had a post the other day that started out kinda rough (the situation, not her writing) but ended with a warm and fuzzy. she defines "home" in a way that clicks with me and my definition of the term. when i was in jr. high or high school i brought home "platoon" to watch. alot of people at school had talked about it and i wanted to see it. my dad and i had watched some other war movies and he'd opened up about some things and at that point we weren't communicating as well as we could be, so it was nice to have that way to bond. i thought platoon might be another good experience. about 30 or 40 minutes into it dad shut the movie off. the next day we were doing yardwork and he talked to me about it. it wasn't that it was bringing back any memories or anything like that, it was the cursing and violence with the rest of the family watching. he said that if i wanted to watch that by myself, or with him when my mom and sisters weren't around, he'd have no problems with that. (i should say here that in 33 years, i've never heard my mom use a curse word stronger than "darn" or "shoot". she's worked in resteraunts and retail, so she's very much aware of them and exposed to them, she's just decided that she is not going to use them.)

i asked my dad why, and he went on to say that he wasn't stupid. he knew us kids were exposed to stuff outside the house, and he was sure that we all probably cursed and did things we shouldn't when we weren't around him and mom. the thing is, he felt that a home should be sanctuary, a place to escape the ugliness of the world. we always moved, we've got a white-as-white can be father and an asian mother, we all inherited my dad's clumsiness and what not... we were all picked on in school. no worse than anybody else probably, but at the time it always felt like the spotlight was on us. he knew this, and wanted home to be that place where we could come, be ourselves and know we were loved and accepted. we fought and had our disagreements but at the end of the day we were still family. not watching a movie like that with everyone around was one of the ways he felt he needed to protect that. my mom and sisters didn't necessarily want to watch "platoon" in the first place, so i was forcing that ugliness on them.

now i'm weird. i'm just now starting to plant roots. i've actually lived in the same city and worked for the same company for 7 years. i kind of like it here. but between the army and being a nomadic family growing up i have never really felt like "home" was some region of the country that i made trips back to. "home" is just wherever the hell i drop my bags and pass out for the night. all i really need nowadays are my cellphone, laptop and a book or two to read. i love to travel for business and have been trying to find a 100% travel job. i get into a routine wherever i'm at and i'm happy. one of the things that makes this possible is that i'm comfortable in my own skin for the most part, and i do things my way, just the way i like them. this makes cohabitation a total battle for me. it's not "my way of doing things" anymore. it's "our". i'm not the only one that decides where to put stuff or how to do things in the house, and it's amazing how much stress this creates and how much it takes away from the sanctuary of the home. and it's amazing how vulnerable that comittment can make you. you take what used to be good hearted joking around to heart. no one can hurt you so much as the people you let into your heart. you're not just giving them the run of the house, you're giving them free reign in your nogin... they push the furniture around up there and go digging through your mental closets looking for skeletons. i'm not sure how long it takes to sync with someone and get over that stress. my parents did it so amazingly and made it look so simple. in some ways their "perfect relationship", while a great example for what love can and should be also set us kids up for failure because they made it look so easy. we didn't see the compromise and give and take that are necessary in a good working relationship.

my dad and trouble really know what the idea of a true "home" is, the problem for me is figuring out how to get there sometimes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

i'm being a lazy ass tonight. eating chips and dip on the couch while watching stupid t.v. shows. the dip tastes kinda funny. but i can't stop eating it. if a couple days go by and you haven't heard from me? send the police to my house in case it really was bad.

thanks.

p.s. i bought it from albertsons. sue the hell out of them for me.

Monday, October 09, 2006

the poor old galaxie...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

it's the little things in life...

i went for a ruck tonight. for some stupid, stupid, stupid reason i felt so good after i took the ruck off (60lbs lighter, insta-diet when you include all the water weight i lost, heh) that i decided to go for a run. so two miles later i decided i REALLY earned a beer and was sitting down on the couch flipping through the channels when i come across an "according to jim" where courtney thorne-smith chases kimberly williams around the living room, pushes her over the arm of the couch, jumps on tops of her and starts wrestling with her. see? sometimes there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

yes. i am a pig.

oink-oink

Saturday, October 07, 2006

i am NOT on my way to D.C.

when i was a fresh graduate from basic training and had just showed up at A.I.T. i got some great advice that served me well throughout my military career. basic is where they break you down and build you back up. "soldierization" is what they call it, turning a group of civilians into a group of soldiers. A.I.T. is your "advanced individual training" where you get your training to perform your specific job in the military. but it's also the transition from the tightly controlled environment of basic training where you're watched closely all the time to the more relaxed life of the everyday army. when you're not deployed and you're not out in the field training, it's not much different from a 9 to 5. and alot of young soldiers are fresh off the bus. they've never lived alone before, etc. so A.I.T. is kind of a safety net.

anyways, the drill sergeant had us all in formation and told us that we'd have no problems while under his tutelage or in the army if we could follow two basic guidelines. "be where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there" and "pay attention and do EXACTLY what you're told to do, no more, no less". you don't have to be in the military to know how important timeliness is to us. heaven forbid you don't show up on time for first formation. heaven forbid a group of soldiers doesn't move out on a mission on time.

my company commander was former active duty tabbed out infantry. so everything i just said about being on time went double. definate fits of rage if we weren't hitting the road on time. when we got to iraq and were doing our transition with the unit we were replacing the people we were replacing told us that they didn't get so hung up on time. that things happened at a slower pace in iraq, and that if you were a couple minutes leaving, to just take it in stride. our bosses didn't like this. but on our third or fourth mission with these guys we were slow getting started. about an hour down the road we came up behind another u.s. convoy that was slowing down, then stopped. they'd spotted an i.e.d. on the road. just a few minutes after we stopped, we started taking incoming mortar rounds. nothing close. they'd been targeting the area where we would've stopped had we hit the i.e.d. and didn't really adjust well to our new location. they just fired off a couple rounds really quickly then got the hell out of there. had we left on time, we would've been in front of the other convoy and probably wouldn't have spotted the i.e.d. in time to not get hit by it. over the first couple of weeks in country we had several similar "situations".

needless to say, we were converts. we still set a mission start time, and still tried our best to meet it, but if something happened we just kinda assumed it was for a reason. we didn't yell and scream and chastise someone for screwing something up and making us late. that was because we took it as God or "fate" intervening on our behalf and because we wanted people upbeat and positive before we went out the gates, possibly into combat. we wanted everyone to think he was a heartbreaker and a life taker, a real badass. we'd undermine that if we chewed on him for awhile and called him a shitbag for forgetting where his gear was or for not setting up the vehicle right.

it will probably rain here this weekend and might snow. because of that i decided to drive to the airport instead of ride the motorcycle. i figured i'd leave the scoot tucked in safely in the garage. it's been awhile since i'd driven the galaxie and it's about 30 minutes to the airport so i thought that'd be a great chance to get her out on the road. about 1/3 of the way there the radiator blew a seam and the vehicle overheated. i called someone to pick me up and they showed up early enough that there was a good chance of getting me to the airport on time to catch my flight. we set off and got most of the way to the airport when i confessed that i was freaking out a little bit. between everyone bailing out, their replacements bailing out and then the car it just really put me in the iraq "maybe someone's trying to tell you it's okay to be late" frame of mind. so i decided we needed to turn around and get the car and i came home and called it a night. i called the airline and can't get another flight to d.c. until late sunday night. basically i'd get off the plane for a couple hours then turn around and come back. so now the weekend in d.c. is canceld and i feel kind of foolish.

anyways, that's the recap of tonight's adventure.

Friday, October 06, 2006

well, i had this really long post in draft form about changes that MIGHT be happening and decisions that might be faced with. turns out i was putting the cart in front of the horse. one of the projects i was hoping to work on got canceled before it ever got started. so life goes on.

going to d.c. this weekend. i'm kinda excited and kinda not. hopefully i'll see alot of really good friends and catch up with them. but my traveling companions bailed out, so now it's kinda becoming a pain in the ass as well.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

i love my body...

this isn't a tmfi-selflove post, don't worry. totally "g"rated stuff here. well, okay. maybe "pg" but only because of the possibility for adult language.

i added another ten pound plate to the rucksack tonight. i was running really late, and it was about 10:30pm before i found a clean pair of dcu trousers, got my boots on, got the music keyed up, etc... because of the time i thought i'd only do 2 miles or so. to make up for the shorter distance i figured i would drop another plate in. so i set off with 60-65lbs. it killed me at first. i was wobbling like a drunk. it felt like i couldn't bend my right knee, i couldn't get a full stride, the shin splints started kicking, the works. after about a mile and a half i was seriously debating with myself whether to kill it at 2 miles, or try and force myself to do a third. huffing like an old steam locomotive. then i started fiddling with my earphones. pushed them in all the way. got the bass to resonate in my skull. turned the music up to force my brain to shut off. "nearly lost you" by the screaming trees came on, followed by "good thing" by fine young cannibals and "plowed" by sponge.

my body took over. it's been doing this for over a decade. i stopped fighting myself. i straightend up under the load so i could start sucking in full, deep breaths. my arms started pumping and my legs followed suit. my right knee was still not giving me a full range of motion but everything else started compensating for it. before i knew it i was finishing my 5th mile and i was making decent time. really good time. light-fighter time. sure it's not a 3 day combat load of batteries, bullets, my share of the demo bag and my personal gear but it was okay.

i'm old. the body's got a lot of mileage on it. and alot of damage. but i'm not ready for a dirt-nap yet.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

you guys are the best freakin cheering squad a fellow could ask for. but that's not always what i'm looking for out of blogging. i'm not fishing for compliments or anything. i should probably keep a journal or diary as well as this, but to be honest, i'm much to lazy to annotate stuff twice. as always there are random thoughts floating about and i find that getting them out there helps me figure out what is going on in my head. fleshes stuff out more, makes me think things through and helps me make better decisions. the other thing i like is being able to go back and see what was going on. not enough time has really passed to fully appreciate this benefit, but already i've flipped back to the beginning to get the frame of mind from iraq to help decide whether to go again or not.

anyways, the long and short of this is that in the near future i might write some stuff, but i might turn comments off on some posts. it's not that i don't appreciate the feedback, but the way some of it's written might sound like i'm fishing for "attaboys" and pats on the head when i'm really not. some of this is my own freakish paranoia. i see someone doing something i don't like and i'm super paranoid of doing the same thing. i just don't want to lose anybody because they think i'm always trying to paint myself in a certain light in order to get responses.

thanks for reading!