14 January 2009

Christmas - New Years - Today

So. I've been out of the blog'n scene as of late. Between work and getting sucked into Facebook, I've lacked the necessary time to devote to updating the blog. However, today is a day worth noting as it marks the 2 year anniversary of when I was recalled into active duty. It's hard to believe that it was two years ago. And only a year ago, I was getting ready to head back to the sandbox after a short two week R&R in Texas.

Along with the shortage of time to write, I've also lacked the time to reflect, not that I need to do much of that. It's just that experience is a good teacher and I feel as if I'm doing some sort of disservice if I don't share what I've learned with others. But there has got to be a better way to tell your story without making it feel like a freak'n online diary. I hope to find some inspiration in the coming days. This blog will die a slow and uneventful death less I find something worthy of posting. If all else fails, there's always posting pictures of the various victims of my photography forays.

27 November 2008

Gobble! Gobble!

In a few hours a multitude of people will awaken from their slumber and begin a day feasting, the purpose of which is to celebrate thanksgiving for all they are blessed with and to see how many casseroles they can stuff themselves with and still have room for dessert. I for one am thankful that I am home this turkey day, able to sit down and share a meal with my family and relax in the comforts that can only be found at home. Last year while I was in Iraq I was thankful for a multitude of things, all of which I am still thankful for today, but I need to give a shout out to the men and women who are working this holiday so that the rest of us can stuff ourselves silly with turkey and pie. This includes the police and TSA folks responsible for keeping everyone safe, the fire and hospital workers who keep take care of all our turkey related mishaps, and to the makers of sweatpants as the baggy article of clothing is perfect for stretching with my expanding gut and is most comfortable during a tryptophan induced nap on the couch. To all the soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors who defend freedom, I thank you for your service. To those who are deployed broad, I thank you for your sacrifices and pray for your safe return home and I pray for your families.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must find some clean fat pants before I make the trek south for dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

11 November 2008

Thank a Vet

For those not in the know, today is Veteran's Day. For most it will mean a day off or maybe just reduced traffic for those whose employers require them to work. They might notice the blurbs on the morning news show or maybe even see a few more flags flown than normal, but for the most part they will be oblivious of the significance of this 11th day of the 11th month of the year. They will go about their business of enjoying the freedoms that go along with being a citizen of the greatest country on the planet. To them, it's just another day.

For some it will be a time to reminisce of their time in uniform. They will remember how their time in the military forever changed them and wonder what a life would have been like had they not taken the oath to defend their country. They might participate in a parade in their honor or tell a classroom of what it was like to land at Normandy, hit a hot LZ in the Mi Cong Delta, jump a jet off the deck of a carrier in the Persian Gulf, or man a turret on a patrol through a street in Baghdad. They might wear a hat emblazed with their branch of service or maybe stick a small flag pin on the lapel of their jacket but you won’t get a lot of bravado or gloating from this group. Only they know what they have given, and only those who have served with them can truly understand the meanings of words like sacrifice, duty and honor. They didn’t do what they did to receive thanks on a day like today, but they appreciate it nonetheless when it is given with heartfelt sincerity. Their days of service are behind them, some by many years, and for the most part, today is just another day.

For others they will be getting out of bed, putting on their flight suit, picking up a rifle or hefting body armor and go about their business. They will not think of themselves as heroes or defenders of freedom. They don’t need to. They walk the walk. The reason for doing what they do is so ingrained in them that they might not even realize what today is besides another 24 hours of doing their job. To them, it’s just another day.

The fact of the matter is today is not just another day. It is a day to honor veterans of all branches of service and thank them for doing all that they have done for us and our country. The first group of people needs to be reminded of the significance of this day and of the people it honors. The second group needs to be thanked and showed appreciation of the sacrifices they endured for freedom. The final group needs prayers. Yes, they need to be thanked as well, but they need as much divine intervention as they can get in order to muscle through some difficult times and situations that they are facing.

Show your appreciation today by volunteering at the local VA hospital, visiting a family who has a loved one deployed, or just flying the American flag. Whatever you do to go about your day, thank a vet, pray for our troops, and be thankful for those who have given so much for the freedom you enjoy today.

05 November 2008


Quiscalus quiscula - Latin for "Pain in the Ass"

I hate grackles and they hate me. For those who don’t know, grackles are loud, obnoxious, scavenger birds that destroy local bird habitats and are just a plain nuisance to everyone. Do you want to know why they totally understand my hatred for them? Because I shoot them with my pellet gun in my backyard. Do you want to know why I am fully aware that they in turn hate me? Because they poop through the sunroof of my truck and crap on my shoulder when I’m sitting under a telephone wire at a traffic light.

This war is on...on like Donkey Kong!

It is what it is

The election is over and now everyone can go about their daily lives without being bombarded by the plethora of election propaganda that assaulted our senses this past year. Whether or not your candidate won is at this point beyond your control. If you took the time to exercise your right to vote, good for you. If you decided that your vote didn’t matter, then you gave up your right to complain about the outcome. Our mission now is to back our government and the United States of America and support our leaders, whoever they may be. If you like the outcome of the race, then keep the gloating to a minimum and hold onto the hope of a better tomorrow that you brought into the voting booth with you. If your candidate did not win, then ensure you keep your local and national politicians informed of the desires of their constituents (write them letters) and remember that you have a chance to change things in four more years. Either way, we need to come together as a country and move forward for there are plenty of issues that are testing our mettle. The economy is in shambles, our popularity in the world is not the greatest, the threat of terrorism is real and we still have troops deployed in combat zones overseas. Whether your blood runs blue or red, we can agree to disagree on a lot of issues, but in the end we are all Americans and we must hold onto that common bond with both hands if we are to make it through the challenges that lie ahead.

04 November 2008

Election Day

Go vote. This means you. If you haven't done so already, do it today. Don't give the same party line of why your vote doesn't count or that you don't like the candidates. Too many people have fought to give you this very important right and to make a lame excuse of why you aren't going to exercise it is a slap in their faces. This is an important election and you don't want to look back on this day and kick yourself for not having your voice heard.

'nuff said.

03 November 2008


With Veteran's Day only a week away, I was given this bit of information that was interesting enough to pass on. The Cliff Note's version is that Vets are now allowed to salute (something that was only reserved for people in uniform before).

From the VA website:

New Law Authorizes Veterans’ Salutes during National Anthem - October 30, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Veterans and active-duty military not in uniform can now render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect this month.

“The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation’s armed forces,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. “This provision allows the application of that honor in all events involving our nation’s flag.”

The new provision improves upon a little known change in federal law last year that authorized veterans to render the military-style hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, but it did not address salutes during the national anthem. Last year’s provision also applied to members of the armed forces while not in uniform.

Traditionally, members of the nation’s veterans service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag while wearing their organization’s official head-gear.

The most recent change, authorizing hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel, was sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, an Army veteran. It was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14.

The earlier provision authorizing hand-salutes for veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, was contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which took effect Jan. 28, 2008.


02 November 2008

Iron Ryan

So Ryan completed his first (and only) full Iron-distance Triathlon. Not much to say but he kicked ass and we are happy to see that not only did he finish in a great time, he was also able to walk away from the event without the aid of a wheelchair or gurney.


2.4 Miles of swimming was much better than standing on the cold beach

114 Miles of road biking (102 of it with sunglasses)

26.2 Miles of running on nothing but Nilla Wafers and chicken broth

The finish!

Look at those guns!

31 October 2008

Happy Halloween

While my friends and family are either busy handing out candy, wrangling kids to houses to collect treats, or whoop'n it up at a party with friends or a companion, I am still in North Carolina. It's late on Friday of All Hallows Eve and I'm getting ready to play the role of support wagon for Ryan's first full Iron-distance triathlon. We are getting up early to hike it up to race start so sleep is of the essence. Despite the myriad of things running through my brain I will not be picking one of the many deep thoughts bouncing around in my skull to pontificate about. Instead, I'll be focusing on getting a good night's rest in an effort to get up early and get the crew out the door in time for the big race. It's been a long day of dropping off bikes, picking up packets and staging supplies. I'm tired, and I'm not even the one covering 140 miles tomorrow by my own locomotion.

In the last 24 hours I've learned a thing or two about my situation. I would like to say that the lessons are good and that I've come away for the better armed with more knowledge and a bit of hope that things will turn out the way they are suppose to. Instead, I'm more uncertain and unsure that it will turn out good for anyone. It's okay to be unsure though as life can mimic a blind rollercoaster ride where you don't get to see when the next up, down or loop is going to hit you. So, it's okay to be uncertain. You have to wrap your brain around the idea that just because you don’t know the outcome of a situation, it doesn’t mean that you have to consume all of your emotional energy trying to figure it out. You need to have a little faith and hope for the best, at least that’s I’ve been told. The hard part is losing hope or harboring the feeling that the situation is hopeless. Hope is something that every human being holds on to when things get sketchy in their lives. It’s a defense mechanism to deal with the current hardship in an effort to make you believe that the hurt will go away soon. This is suppose to get you through the tough times, but it takes effort to do so. You can hope you do well on a race, but in the end, it will be up to how much training you did and how mentally prepared you are to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. The only thing worse than losing hope is having false hope. Focusing your mind on the idea that something will turn out the way you want when you know good and well it will never happen will not only expend your energy, it will psychologically crush you that day when you know you’ve held out for a false dream. I guess the question is, how long do you hold out? Is the time frame three weeks? Is it six months? Is it forever? And how do you know that the hope you have isn’t false? Is it a matter of faith rather than hope?

The answers to these questions really don’t matter in the big scheme of things. In the end, you have to put one foot in front of the other and move forward in life because you can’t stop time and you can’t get back the time you’ve spent. You can only learn from yesterday, live today, and try to make the most of tomorrow before you find yourself under a dirt blanket wondering what in the heck happened to the time you spent wanting something you never even had a chance to get in the first place.

Not to end this entry on a down note, let me tell you a story of my first Halloween in America. My brother and I, new to the concept of begging for candy at stranger’s houses, were taken by my folks to a neighborhood to experience our first “trick or treat” outing. We were properly briefed on what to do and thought we had the plan figured out. We walked up to the first house, which was decorated pretty scary, especially to a 4 and 5 year old, and surveyed the scene cautiously. Like a good older sibling, I sent my little brother forward to scout out the situation. Well, it was more like I was a little freaked out about the place and I assumed that if Gary got eaten by the flaming orange squash on the steps then it would give me a head start to run away. He returned with a treat and with my safety concerns satisfied, I marched up to repeat his actions to receive my just reward. Upon returning to the parental units, we approached with very disgusting looks on our faces. When asked what was wrong, we stated that we didn’t like the treats and proceeded to spit out the fowl candy into the parent’s hands. To their surprise, they found that they were holding what looked like a mixture of chocolate, caramel, and foil. Apparently they failed to brief us that you had to remove the wrapper of the candy before you could eat it.

So, have a Happy Halloween everyone and wish Team Ryan good luck tomorrow.

30 October 2008

Where's the beach?

North Carolina. I’ve never spent any significant time here having only driven through this state on my way from Virginia to Myrtle Beach a few years back. If it wasn’t for the race that my buddy Ryan is doing in Wilmington, I probably would not have a real reason to be here. We are staying at his folk’s beach house about a half hour away from the race and let me say, wow. I kind of like this beach life. I could get use to this whole waking up to the sound of waves. It’s a real beautiful place that I’ve been given permission to come back and visit (or should I say encouraged to with the threat of bodily harm if I don’t). I’m looking forward to taking them up on that offer and witnessing the warm sunsets, but for some reason, watching sunsets alone seems to take some of the beauty out of them.