Monday, January 29, 2007

still alive and kicking...

tired as heck though and a little screwed up. between the switch from colorado time and n.c. time and all the extra running around we're doing to make things happen the way they're supposed to.

i'm hoping to get out of here for a little bit to meet some people. i need to make some calls but by the time i get around to thinking about it, it's way too late. hopefully we've got some free time coming up soon.

it's cold as hell here. the next couple days should be pretty nice. but i'm seriously stiff and sore from shivering so hard today. but it's good stuff. we're doing some really good training and we're hopefully giving these guys some much needed confidence before they go down range.

don't click on this if you're not prepared to see the scariest thing ever. see? i'm still good. thanks for bugging me.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

one down...

well, we made it through san francisco. actually had 4 hours out of the three days we were there to sight see. so i got us up to fisherman's wharf and we had dinner and were able to catch some photos. thursday i'm off to n.c.
we also got the news that we'll be gone before the end of the year. oh well. we got one christmas at home...

Friday, January 19, 2007

san francisco is definately warmer than denver. i might actually wake up early and run tomorrow. if the world stops spinning or hell freezes over, don't be too surprised, i warned you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

damnit. i totally shot myself in the foot...

people kept calling me over the last couple days asking if i could do this or that and i said "sure" without really thinking about it. plotting it out on the calendar i've committed to no days off for the next month or more. i'll be in s.f. this weekend for a change of command ceremony. that's somewhat a waste. then the 26th-4th i'll be in north carolina training soldiers getting ready to go to iraq. i'm totally okay with that, and i'm honored that i was asked. and if i can pass stuff on that was a total pain in the ass to learn so their lives/jobs are easier and safer it's a good use of my time. then the weekend after it's off to camp hale for winter operations training. here's hoping for a weekend that's frostbite free!

gotta learn to say "no".


Monday, January 15, 2007

done! well, kinda...

i've been to so many universities and have so many credits and still don't have my degree. i think i'm close to 155 credits now. i started at u of a right out of high school and it's just gone down hill... whoops, progressed from there. i was coming close to finishing it from university of phoenix and was actually surprised, because i was learning a heckuva lot more there than i thought i would. i've heard horror stories about it being a degree mill and what not, and i hated the group work in the first couple of classes until i settled in with a great group, but in hindsight alot of it has been applicable to stuff i'm doing everyday. and more importantly, once i finally got a good group, i learned a ton from those guys. anyways, before i could finish it off 9/11 happened and i was mobilized. i moved campuses with phoenix, but then word came down that i was getting deployed. so i switched schools again, this time to one that the military education center recommended for making distance education easy for deployed troops.

things have gone fairly well with the new school, but the whole "self paced" thing is an exercise in self-discipline, in which i'm severely lacking. the first couple semesters flew by. when i was in afghanistan i was with a 3 man team, and we were all fairly self-contained guys. we had no power and pretty much no distractions. it was in areas that i was comfortable with and i had to stretch some, but not tons. then i hit my first tough class. "data structures" which were defined with the aid of "c". not "visual c" but "c". a programming language that i'd touched very briefly over a decade ago and hated. all of a sudden my progress came to a screeching halt. i think i asked for 3 different extentions for that class. i had to teach myself the programming language so i could understand the examples from the text. and i was back in the states and distracted like crazy. i actually had to get deployed to iraq to be able to focus on it. those days when i hated everyone and needed to get away from them, i just found a quiet corner and chewed through the course.

this weekend i finished my trig/analytical algebra course. it's been almost 8 months in the working. the first couple chapters flew by. angles and stuff come up frequently in everyday life and i remember alot of that. but the end. *ugh* painful. trying to teach myself that has pretty much turned my brain to tapiocca. the text blew. i learned SO much more from the "algebra for dummies" "algebra II for dummies" and "trigonometry for dummies" than i ever learned from the text book. and all three of those books cost less than the official text. but it's done. (i think, i still haven't gotten all my coursework graded and returned). then a semester final exam, two more classes, another semester final and i'm done. the end is sight. of course it has been, for like the last 2 years, but life keeps interupting. as does my inclination to put the book down and step away when it gets to be too hard.

it's no huge accomplishment. people finish courses and get degrees all the time. but i definately think if i continue on for a grad degree i've got to switch back to a more traditional learning environment. the self-paced thing really requires alot of focus which i'm not known for and it's really nice to have an instructor readily available when things get tough. i've had some awful teachers over the years, and this experience hasn't changed my view of them. but i've had some great ones too, and i hope i let them know.

hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

some of the self awareness you get growing up sucks...

all my early dating life i ended up with "broken birds". i thought it was something about me that they sought out. that i was blind to it until it was too late. and couldn't figure out why it was happening. but i was always the common denominator. in hindsight i have to wonder if there was something about them that was attractive to me. low self esteem on my part? thinking that i had no shot with the normal girls? but the quirky/broken ones might appreciate my attention and affection? and if i fixed'em, i could keep'em?

Friday, January 12, 2007

oddball stuff

so, i'd like to think that i'm not rascist. i'm sure that i've said or thought some uneducated stuff over the years, but it hasn't been with malicious intent.

having said that, i heard something on the radio that to me sounded incredibly stupid this morning. a host of one of the local radio morning drive-time shows is a black female and had the producer of the new show "you're the one that i want" on. if you're not familiar with that show, as i understand it, it's similar to "american idol". they've got an open casting call for leads in a new broadway production of "grease" and they're turning it into a reality-based t.v. show. i think america might help pick the leads.

anyways, she was railing on the guy about whether or not he'd cast a qualified black man in the role and how there were no black applicants. he corrected her and informed her that there were actually three, and that if they're skilled, it was would be a very tough decision on whether or not to cast them. which launched her into a tirade.

i don't doubt that there are a large number of black, hispanic, asian and whatever else actors that can sing the hell out of a song and are great actors. but to me the role should be played by someone who can portray a convincing greaser from the 50's named "zucco". i wouldn't necessarily buy a california beach blonde in the role anymore than i would uh, myself.

the outrage that she had over this was what surprised me. it wasn't about the role and who fit the vision of the role best, it was about black and white. and made me want to call in and ask if they did a remake of "roots" and there was a eminently qualified white actor, if he should be denied the role of kunta kinte becuase of his skin color. no one is questioning the actor's ability, it's whether that is the actor that best fits the role. a role is more about skin color. people get denied roles all the time based on age, height, weight, body shape and other things that have NOTHING to do with their acting ability. this is a visual medium and it's as much about what the audience sees with their eyes as it is what they see with their minds, their ears, and their hearts. the other problem with this is that america already has an idea in their minds of what these people should look like. it was actually disappointing to me to see the commercials and see how much the actors are mimicking the danny and sandra dee from the movie. dance moves, hair and costumes, etc.. and my guess is, it's become such a classic that they won't be able to deviate too much from it and be successful.

so. the serious business. they've gotten rid of the 24 months cumulative active duty rule. i've already been mobilzed for 30 months of active duty, so before yesterday for me to be deployed again, i would have to volunteer. not anymore. they can grab me. and it's not a big deal, i probably would've volunteered to go over again. but having the choice taken away from me is a little... something.

the question now is how to handle it. on the one hand, i'm an "in for a penny, in for a pound" kinda guy. if i'm in the military and i've volunteered as many times as i have and i have to go over again, i want to be in the thick of it. i want to feel as productive and useful and proud of my accomplishments as i did this last time. on the other hand i'm oddly superstitious about this. i've seen the shows of the dead and wounded soldiers and i have to wonder how many times can i roll the dice? i've already had 2 deployments, is the 3rd time the charm? and more importantly there's guilt. it's not just about me. there's people at home that would like me back in one piece. so i'm at a stage where i could make some career decisions that could decrease the likelyhood of my being deployed again. or if i were deployed, take me further from the danger. and i'm kinda ashamed to admit it, but there's a little voice in the back of my head saying to "do it". and it's trying to justify it to me. "it's not cheating. it's not bribing someone to get out of it. it's a legit path in the military that you could take to take care of yourself." "you're not the one who created the opportunity, the army did. if you don't take it someone else will." "you're not weaseling. these are important jobs and positions. they're just not the SAME jobs and positions you had before, and oh, by the way, they don't require you going outside of the wire." okay. not kinda ashamed. really ashamed. i'm scared. not of going over. but of going over and having something bad happen. because it's been close before. really close. and how many near misses do you get in life?

the hard part about this is that i already know i'll do whatever i'm told to do. and i know that there's the uncontrollable part of me that can't say "no" whenever someone asks me to do something, and that will volunteer for the next trip whether the little voice is there or not. but little voices just make you think more than you want to. and the fact that they exist makes me question my committment.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

i am seriously craving golden graham s'mores for some reason.

so my newish big boss sent out an email yesterday that very bluntly said that the new documentation requirements/project management policies & procedures that he's put into place need to be adhered to or else it's going to reflect very negatively in annual reviews. he specifically made a point to say that some people are lacking in their documentation to date and that this is the warning to them to shape up.

now the problem that i have with this is that he didn't name anyone specifically. i just think that's a chickenshit way to handle it. if someone isn't performing to standard, you pull them aside and tell them. you don't wait until the year end performance review and then slam them.

the FUNNY thing about this is that i was out of the office when this email was sent. i was at another office all morning. but when i came back i got called into the "principal's office" and was asked why i had such a negative reaction to the email. "uh, what?" "well, i heard that you just started ranting and raving about it. and to be honest, on the one hand i don't care, because this is the way it is. but on the other hand, i'd like to know why this upsets you so" "i have no idea what you're talking about. i wasn't here all morning. i got the email and said "cool, makes sense"".

so. gee. stuff like that doesn't make you a little paranoid that someone's out to get you. noooooo.

now a couple weeks/months ago i wrote a post about how it irritates the hell out of me when people bitch about their lot in life but do nothing to improve it. i've been trying, honest. busting my ass to get the degree and the security clearance done because i've seen the writing on the wall here for awhile. i'd prefer to job hunt with both of those things in hand, because it'll open up so many more opportunities for me. and i've been interviewing when the right looking opportunity comes up. that's been fairly weird for me. i've had several interviews that i knocked out of the ballpark. phrases like "expect an offer letter later this afternoon" have been tossed about, and then they drop off the face of the earth. won't return emails or calls, anything. and this has happened more than once. and that's what kinda freaks me out. what happened to sending out a "hi, we appreciate your interest but we decided to go with a more qualified applicant/our requirements change/the position was filled internally" whatever form letter.

weirdness. did everyone drink the kool-aid while i was overseas?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

so, i'm not trying to have a food-themed day today...

but i just got a free lunch at texas de brazil. absolutely amazing and all i want to do is nap now. oh my god was that good food!

comfort food

my two favorite cold weather/comfort foods are potato/cheddar/bacon soup (at least something good came out of the potato famine. and yes. i have ancestors who died in that, so shush). and melting a large chunk of velveeta into a can of stag steak/no beans chili andusing it as a dip for tortilla chips. mmmmmmm. especially because that takes like, two seconds to make. i only mention this because i brought a bowl of that to work and the greedy bastards scarfed the majority of it before i got back to my desk.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

seriously? blogger is irritating. first i couldn't comment on anything because i was on the old system. now that i've migrated, it always defaulted to the old login and i lose my comments. and have to re login and retype. so, sorry. some of you haven't gotten comments lately because of my irritation.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

interesting quote today. "Sometimes people put up walls not to keep others out... But to see who cares enough to tear them down."

upon reflection, i've met more than a couple people like that...

just a question...

a friend of mine gets amazingly pissed when anyone asks her when she's going to "settle down".
that phrase just annoys her almost to the point where her head's going to spin off her body. and her big thing is the word "settle". where 99.99999999% of the world takes that to mean when is she herself going to stop racing and chasing and want to slow down a little because she's found someone special that she wants to slow down with, she takes it to mean lowering her standards.

so. anyways. the question. we're talking about settling and someone else talks about being in long term relationships and how the secret of their relationship is that they don't say 90% of the things they want to. they pick and chose their battles... so, is anyone in a long term relationship where they don't feel like they're constantly biting their toungue? either because a) you both address any little situation as it happens and aren't fighting but just have a good communication system or b) are you're just THAT good of a fit for one another?

or do you constantly just censor alot of the little things. "christ, did we REALLY need to spend ten bucks on that?" "why can't you put the lid down? why?" "we both work, why am i the only one who does the....?" etc, etc?

just nosey. thank you for playing.

Monday, January 01, 2007

i live in denver. the broncos recently lost a football player to a violent crime. i do not mean to make light of that situation. many of his team mates are hurt and grieving. i don't mean to make light of their pain. i know they bonded with one another, they suffered physical pain together, spent long hours together in training and on the road. but they were interviewing one of the players today and he made the statement "we went to war together every sunday"

that just irritates the hell out of me for some reason. pro sports has bothered me for years, i stopped watching long ago. about the time the different assorted strikes started happening. i was tempted to watch a couple years ago, but then coaches started to get fired because players were making more money then them and they couldn't afford to have players benched. three or four years ago someone gave me tickets to a hockey game here. it was the first time i'd been to see one and i was expecting it to be the same experience i had at home, a quick paced match. i was surprised at how much they pause the game because it's being broadcast. that was another huge disappointment, seeing how money-centric the whole sport had gotten.

funny how some of these people forget that it's a sport. that they get paid an insanely large amount of money to play a game for a couple of hours every week. a game. the future of countries isn't decided on the outcome of that game. and usually no one dies. when the game is over, everyone shakes hands and goes home. i don't know why this bothers me so, for the most part i can ignore it, but every once in awhile the way-over-bloated sense of self importance that alot of pro atheletes have just gets under my skin. it's one of my few "hot buttons" right up there with public college education. one of my favorite movies is "the replacements" just because it makes fun of those guys. but to use those words, especially when the country IS at war and has soldiers, marines, airmen and sailor right in harm's way bugs the hell out of me.

it's my personal thing. i know it's small and petty. and to balance the negative, i have to say that i love professional lacrosse. it's the exact opposite of so many other pro-sports. most of those guys have to have a second job because they're not going to get rich playing lacrosse. they play for love the of sport. and they don't have over-inflated egos about it. the coach is still the boss. after a game they'll sit there for HOURS, signing autographs. they're so happy to HAVE fans who want their autograph. you go to one of their games and it's amazingly fast paced. and fun. and you don't pay through the nose to supplement their salaries.

and lets not even get me started on taxing me to pay for a sports arena that i personally don't visit. so that a team that i don't own and make no money off of can play. so my commute home on game nights can be totally screwed.

okay. i've vented. thanks.

what are your necessary luxaries?

what are the things that you refuse to do without? either real, tangible things or treatment/attitudes/etc? i was standing in line behind two AMAZINGLY young girls and one was telling the other how she dumping her boyfriend because he didn't treat her right. he didn't realize that she was worth gifts and wining and dining and had the nerve to ask her to help pay for something the other night so they could go out because he was broke. that got into a conversation about how poor and ratty he was and how she was glad to never have to go over to his place again, because it was just icky and how gross all guys were because they couldn't clean their bathrooms and never had bedding on their mattresses.

that kinda got me thinking, because clean sheets are something i refuse to do without. in iraq i used to change them out every 3-4 weeks. i'd buy new ones whenever the px had them and stock them up so that i could just take the old ones off and pitch them and put a brand new pair on. the laundry over their sucked so badly that having them washed and putting them back on wouldn't be the same. in afghanistan i slept on a cot and it was too freaking hot to deal with sheets and covers but i shook the cot out every morning and put my pillow and sleeping bag in a watertight case to keep dust from settling on it during the day. today i love the feel of high thread count, clean sheets. i WILL kick someone out of bed for eating crackers. and it's a special kind of hell for me if the bed is unmade. i don't mean hospital corners, pillows tucked under made, but if the top sheet comes untucked or if one of the corners of the fitted sheet comes undone in the middle of the night i have to get up, get out of bed and remake it.

i love the look of hardwood floors but after so many years in dorms and barracks with linoleum floors i have to have carpeting. i love walking barefoot on new, plush, clean carpeting and i cringe when someone comes into my house with muddy boots on and won't take them off before stepping on the carpet. or when they want to eat/drink over the carpeting and they're messy about it.

alot of my quirks come from a combination of my mom and my dad and the army. we always moved so often that homes were an investment, so we kept them really, really clean. and dad and mom BOTH grew up dirt poor so they took good care of their stuff. and it was a sign of respect for them. if they worked their asses off to be able to buy a nice house, nice car, nice clothes, we sure as hell were going to take care of them. i didn't appreciate that "niceness" until i lived under such crappy conditions in the dorms and in the military. sleeping in a hammock or a bivvy sack or in the back of a humvee and waking up and putting on the same nasty uniform for days on end makes you appreciate a soft bed, clean sheets and a hot shower. and a porcelin bowl and tp. years ago i was living with a high school friend. we'd go in together on some stuff and one of us had forgotten to buy toilet paper and we ran out in the middle of the night. rather than use a box of kleenex or whatever was at hand, i was more than happy to drive to the grocery store at two in the morning to make sure the stocks were replenished.

i've gotta have two cans of soda a day. one during the day to fight the after lunch nap attack, and one in the evening before bed. gotta have my motorcycle. absolutely, positively MUST have a book to read before going to bed at night. preferably something engaging, but that's not a requirement. gotta have music. i can live without it in small doses but it really makes the work day/drive/workout/whatever go faster and makes me much happier. gotta have crisp white t-shirts to wear under almost everything. a knife in my pocket. GOTTA have a belt and watch or i feel naked. i can go camping and have done the outdoors thing long enough that i can be comfortable, but i'd much rather go for a hike and end the day with a shower and a bed.

i'm a pretty quiet guy, and i used to avoid confrontation like crazy. but over the last couple of years i've gotten a little more of a sense of self worth and i do demand a little more respect and attention when i go out. i used to wait tables and work retail so i used to cut those guys alot of slack and tip big. but alot of service has been SO sucky lately that it's started to irritate the hell out of me. so i've started becoming alot more vocal in stores and restaruants if someone is being snotty. i've worked hard to get where i'm at (which isn't that spectacular a place, but damnit i'm here) and i'm not going to let someone ruin my shopping or dining or whatever experience when they're getting paid to provide good service.

so what about you guys? what are the things that admittedly are luxaries, but their ones that you refuse to do without?