31 January 2007



I always hear people talking about getting into shape. I tell them that a circle is a shape, so is a pear, and I would even go so far as saying that the silhouette of a snowman could also be considered a shape. I say this because I’m not in the best physical shape that I could be in, despite my new “status” as a member of the military. I did some remedial PT at Benning and even did a few runs on my own, but I’m far from being in the physical condition that I was, say half a year ago. Plus, eating mess hall food, sitting on my rump in class all day, and challenging people to eating contests doesn’t help matters much. In an attempt to get rid of my slothiness, I’ve been going to the gym each day for about an hour. I’ve hit the cardio pretty hard and today was no different. I donned my MP3 and got on an empty treadmill to see if I could run some baggage off of me. Normally, I don’t like to use a treadmill, or a stair climber, or any stationary exercise machine that tries to replicate what a person can do on their own, but with the thermometer on the truck telling me that the single digit temps outside were not conducive for my thin Texas blood to be running in, I made an exception.

Running is a great feeling, especially once you get past the pain shooting through the knees, the gasping for breath, and the sensation that you are going to collapse at any minute. Oddly enough, I actually enjoy running, but have had some injuries that prevented me from running on a regular basis like I use to and getting back into the groove has been a challenge. The treadmill allows me to be easier on the old knees and I can do things to keep my attention occupied like watching TV, or in this case, watch myself run in a big full length mirror placed directly in front of the treadmill. Nothing is more discouraging than seeing your body giggle as you try to exercise. I tried to divert my attention from the mirror and just focused on running and listening to the music on my MP3. I have a mix of music on there and before too long, I was listening to Lee Dorsey’s “Working in a Coal Mine”. That song always reminds me of Texas. It takes me back to being 7 years old and riding in the back of a pickup truck on the way to West Cliff Park with my brother and my Uncle Pat. I haven’t heard much from my uncle lately. He seems to have fallen off the face of the earth and all the things I hear about him are through the grapevine. I’d call him if he ever answered his phone. He is a big reason why I’m here now, back in the Army, at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, running my ass off in front of a mirror that I can’t stand to look at. Whether he knew it or not, he had a great influence on me and why I joined the Army. I remember him leaving for basic when I use to live in central Texas and seeing him in his uniform when he would come home and buy my brother and I GI Joes. I admired him and what he was doing, just like I admired my dad for serving in the Army and his father serving in the Navy before him. I don’t know if I can explain why I’m here or convey the reasons in a coherent way of why I didn’t resign my commission which ultimately led to me being in a state of uncertainty, but certain that I will end up in an unstable Iraq or Afghanistan. What I do know is that I’m proud of the people in my life who have served. Today, as I listened to that song and burned the fuel that I’ve been so busy storing in the last few weeks, I am proud of my uncle, wherever he is, and I hope that he is proud of his time in uniform.

Even though I have access to the internet, it seems like there are problems with the blog site. I’ve been trying to post for the past few days and it keeps giving me issues. I’ll try to write when I can when the system is up, in between cramming my head with engineer knowledge and getting rid of my Sumo figure.

My poor truck covered in snow

Can you tell that I dislike snow?

30 January 2007

Ft. Wood

Ft. Wood.

Sitting in a class of young junior officers makes me feel like a relic. They are so young and full of energy and they represent the future of the Army. The average time in service for most of these men and women is around 4 years, yet over 70% of them have already served in a combat zone. They are veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, and a few of them have even served in both theaters. These are men and women who have led soldiers in battle and it makes me proud that they are wearing the same uniform that I am.

My stay here in Missouri is infinite according to the powers above me. Actually, it can’t exceed 545 days, but for the most part, no one can give me a definite time line of when I will be departing here and where I’ll be going. Ah... the life of a mushroom... kept in the dark and fed crap. In the meantime the LT and I are attending refresher classes at the schoolhouse. It is suppose to familiarize us with our branch specific skills that we might have lost while we were out. I find myself again being the center of unwanted attention as folks come up and ask me why I’m here. It’s also tough to call the small group leaders, who are majors, “sir” when they didn’t even get their commission until two years after me. It’s very surreal, but at least the amenities here are much better than they were at Benning. I finagled myself into the officer’s quarters and have my own room, my own shower, and best of all, no one snoring next to me. Life is good! Well, except for the cold. I don’t like the cold. Have I whined enough about that yet? No? Well, I’m going to complain while I can because I know that in a few months from now, I’ll be grumbling about how freaking hot it is.

Pics of my room at Morelli Heights

Spartan, but much better than the bays

29 January 2007


Ah. There is nothing lovelier than Fort Leonard Wood in winter. Just like there is nothing more enjoyable than smashing your own toes with a 5lb sledge hammer. It was 11 years ago when I last visited this place and a lot of cosmetic changes can be seen in the buildings and the layout of the various military vehicles on static display. “Back when I was a soldier at Leonard Wood, we had the base all to ourselves and didn’t have to share it with no stinking MP or Chem folks.” Gosh, I’m turning into “that guy” more and more each day. There are a lot of changes, but the weather is just like I remembered it... cold. As I was driving here from Dallas (I got bored at Benning so I flew to Dallas, picked up my truck, and drove here, which wasn’t the approved thing to do, but hey, what are they going to do? Send me to Iraq?) I saw ice and snow on the side of the road. Every copse of trees I passed was littered with broken branches from the ice storm they had here a few weeks back. Some folks are without power and I’ve even heard rumors that some folks are without cable TV! You may laugh at the idea of missing out on this entertainment luxury, but when it is a thousand degrees below zero outside and you have no intention on leaving your house, the average Missourian needs their visual entertainment less they start getting impure thoughts about their sisters. But I digress. It’s cold here, and the Army has yet to issue me the proper gear for this arctic weather. They plan on giving me some cold weather gear at Riley, but that is a lot of chilly days from now. I decided to bite the bullet and purchase my own but when I went to the military clothing sales store on post, I discovered that they are out of cold weather gear. How can that be? The temps tomorrow don’t go above 25 degrees and I had the idea that I was being deployed to a scalding dusty desert when I packed my clothes for this little middle eastern vacation. The best I can do is hope that they issue me a Tan-Tan so I can crawl inside of it when I get too chilly.

27 January 2007

The Great Korean Chicken Wing War

A fierce skirmish was fought in the sleepy hamlet of Columbus, Georgia last night in which I was not only a witness, but also a participant. The battle took place on the messy fields of BW3, also known as Buffalo Wild Wings, a restaurant that caters to the hungry individual with a hankering for wings. This is where people come to eat good chicken wings without the distraction of cleavage found at other wing establishments (although I don’t mind the distractions, we were out for an eating war and I wanted nothing to interrupt the fight). The opponents were not long time rivals or age old religious zealots with opposing views, but comrades in arms with different allegiances; he represented the people of the round eyes and the slow and often lethargic Field Artillery branch while I represented the people of the squinty eyes and the mighty Engineers. The challenge was to eat 50 wings in a sitting, flavor of our choosing, and the prize would be bragging rights of which race and branch were superior.

I sized up the competition prior to the gauntlet being thrown down on this masticating face off to see the worthiness of my foe. Rob is maybe 150lbs soaking wet, and his skinny stature and demeanor does not make him look like a formidable eating threat. I myself am not much bigger than him, but secretly I had a crab leg eating contest victory under my belt and had also gone out three nights ago and plowed through a helping of 30 wings with room for more. In my mind I was assured an easy victory, but I quickly learned after the first 25 wings that if there ever was an eating hustler, Rob was the best. We kept pace with one another in the beginning. I stuck to my race roots and chose Spicy Asian as the flavor of my first batch of 25 while he went with the standard hot. We hammered them down, one by one, until the piles of bones stacked higher and higher on the table. Rob revealed that this wasn’t his first trip to the wing eating rodeo by actually sucking the bones dry of any meat, sauce, skin or cartilage. They were so clean that I believe you could have actually reconstructed 6 pairs of full chicken wing skeletons for a biology display from his pile of discards. Myself, not being one to eat much cartilage or wing knuckles, left a few smatterings of skin and the audience of Field Artillery officers made it a mission to point the discrepancies out. Despite the jeers, Rob and I continued to feast until we reached the halfway point with no signs of fullness in either of our eyes.

The next batch of 25 came out; Rob taking the milder route of spicy garlic and myself going for the hot flavor. My strategy was that the spicier the wing, the faster you have to eat them in order to control the heat. This plan of attacked worked well for me at first. I was clearly pulling ahead of Rob as he seemed to have shifted into a lower gear around the 30 mark. My advantage however did not last long. My mouth and my stomach were not agreeing to the rate I was eating as I ate wing number 38. At wing 40, I started to question the wisdom of this challenge with the vacancies in my belly disappearing quicker than I had anticipated. Rob and I both were at a crawl now. I looked and saw that he was 2 wings ahead of me and I felt slightly panicked. I started to make a strategic move by feigning signs of pain and grogginess to make him feel like his victory was secure. Cheers from his fellow FA officers made him slow his pace, but it was not slow enough. While his companions started to prematurely congratulate him on his victory, I sprinted forward and tried to catch him. Rob ate his last wing while I had two left. Since this wasn’t a race for speed, but for quantity, all eyes were on me for the finishing of the last two pieces of meat. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t hurting at this point, but I had to uphold the reputation of the all powerful Engineers, plus of all the Asian professional eaters everywhere. I ate the last two amongst cheers from the table. Because we both ate 50 wings each, there were demands of a tie breaker. Rob and I looked at one another and declared that we would settle for a tie because neither of us were willing to eat one tiny bit more, not even a wafer thin mint.

We returned to the bays at Benning while rubbing our full and aching bellies. Some of the FA officers declared Rob the winner since he cleaned his bones so well. How could this be when Rob and I had agreed to a truce? How could I get back to even level with Rob’s performance and prove that I could eat with the best of them? It took an Infantry officer to declare that if I ate a Krispy Kreme chocolate glazed, cream filled doughnut left from this morning’s breakfast that I could make up for the bits of gristle left on my bones. Well, my stomach objected to the notion all together, but I ate that sweet pastry of victory without even a protest from Rob.

This morning I woke up and rubbed the Buddha and questioned why in the heck did I do that last night? It’s not even like I can say I was drunk! And I know that it’s going to be painful when it’s time to download that lump of chicken that is snaking it’s way through my lower GI as I type this. I guess you can chalk this one up to pride, however foolish it may be.

In other news, I should be leaving Ft. Benning in a few days. I am trying to leave earlier than later, but the travel folks are fighting me on this one. All 30 of us are heading our separate ways this weekend, but I’m sure we’ll meet again in the sandbox in due time.

25 January 2007

Weapon familiarization

Today was the weapon familiarization day. Not a lot to report except that we got to play with all of the weapons that we use to play with, but have conveniently forgotten in the last few years. Especially for me. Some of these weapons I haven't played with in some time, while others are ones that I messed with just last month.

We had one particularly good instructor on the M2. Not only was his knowledge of the weapon and teaching techniques far superior to the other instructors we had, he kept our interest by using the colorful vernacular that only a seasoned Drill Sergeant has.

“This weapon only has two settings, kill slow and kill fast”
“It will strip the meat off ya”
“Don’t disrespect this weapon because it will knock the dummy dust off you.”

24 January 2007



I’m not known to be a picky eater. I don’t know where I got my omnivore tendencies from because my father is very particular when it comes to food. If it’s not pizza, burgers or ice cream, he shies away from it. As for me, I’ll eat anything, well, almost anything. The only two things that I have come across that my taste buds refuse to swallow are canned spinach and brussel sprouts. It is strange that I turn my nose up at these things since I love spinach in any other form and cabbage is great. Guess it falls under the same reason why my dad doesn’t like tomatoes, but likes ketchup. Anyway, the food they serve here in the DFAC, or dining facility, is very meager. Because we share the DFAC with a basic training unit, the cooks tend to go more for quantity than quality. Here is an example of the dinner this evening. The choices were Shepard’s pie, fish, and mystery meat. When my squad leader who was standing in line in front of me, asked if this was spinach or collared greens, the response he got was “Dunno. Beat’s me.”

Yeah, not very reassuring when the person who prepared the food and is putting the food on your plate cannot recognize what she is dishing out. So, my squad leader Ryan went with the Shepard’s pie as well. He said that it had no taste. As in none at all. As in, he could feel the firmness of the corn and the texture of the beef, but he said it had no taste. I told him that he was exaggerating. I mean, it didn’t look that appetizing, but it couldn’t be that bad.

After I took a fork full of it and shoveled it into my mouth, I immediately apologized to Ryan and told him that I stood corrected.

Now, I don’t want to fall in the trap of being negative all the time because it is very easy to do in the bitter atmosphere of IRR soldiers being called back to duty, therefore I will try to make a point to insert some “positive outlooks” in my blogs. So, when it comes to food, I will say that the breakfast is good. Of all the meals I’ve eaten at this dining facility, breakfast is by far the best. Eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, and a slew of flapjacks, waffles, pancakes and French toast. Add fruit, cereal, yogurt, toast, bagels and all the chocolate milk you can guzzle down in a sitting and you got yourself a meal fit for a lumberjack or a Sumo wrestler. Anything you can think of for breakfast, they have it and it is hard not to eat it all. In my civilian life, I was accustomed to eating a bowl of cereal at my desk at work, and maybe I’d get a little crazy and add a banana to it (I’m insane like that!). I love to cook and eat big breakfasts on the weekends and special occasions, but I’m not use to having this kind of selection every day. It doesn’t help that I’m an honorary member of the Clean Plate Club (clean trays are also part of the charter) and whatever the cook slops on the tray, I’ll eat it… all of it. Couple that with the lack of any real exercise lately and I feel like I’m just slowing eating myself into the next higher ACU size.

I guess it’s a good thing that my days here are numbered. Like my fellow FA officers, I received my orders this afternoon and they state that I’ll be heading to the Home of the Engineers (and MP and Chemo folk) in Missouri some time at the end of this week, or the beginning of next week, or maybe the end of next week. Who knows, right? It’s all about being flexible. Regardless of “when” I will be going, I know that I will be going there and will, God willing, be put into a room at the BOQs or at a hotel off post. To tell you the truth, I don’t care if they put me in a tent, just as long as I don’t have someone snoring in my ear all night.


Today was a big day for my Field Artillery brethren. They have received new orders and they are all going back to lovely Fort Sill, OK for a few more weeks of branch specific training. Dare I say it, but it makes sense that they send us back to our branches to get brushed up on the things we don’t remember. They are keeping the Infantry folks here for a few weeks of grunt stuff, so if the Engineers go along the same path, then myself and one other Sapper here with me will be heading to Fort Lost in the Woods, Missouri. Not particularly looking forward to it, but I know its gotta be better than where I’m at. Ft. Benning is a clean base and all and is home to some pretty hard core training, but I’ve never really liked the surrounding area. I spent a lot of time in Columbus during Airborne school and had a good time going to the movies and hanging out at the Waffle House, but that was a LONG time ago, and urban sprawl has not spared this small military town. The commercial shops and chain restaurants have popped up everywhere, but they are not enough to wash away the bad things, mainly bad memories, of this place.

I finished reading a book yesterday. With the down time I have, I do a lot of reading and I devoured my first deployment book. I was debating about doing a little book review of the publications I’ll be reading while I’m playing Army. In fact, I might just do that. So, here is my review of “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is the tale of a hiker/climber who had his right hand trapped by a boulder in Utah and had to cut his own arm off in order to survive. The author is actually the hiker who did the amputation and his writing skills are not half bad. I’ve read a lot of adventure books in my time and most tend to follow the same routine: adventurer goes out on an epic quest, adventurer gets in trouble, adventure faces his/her own mortality and either by skill, perseverance, or just dumb luck, they get out of the predicament, adventurer reflects on his/her experience to share the lessons. This book does pretty much the same thing. It is written well by catching the reader’s attention in the first few pages when it tells how Aron gets stuck. He then bounces around chapters explaining how his life has lead him to where he’s stuck in the canyon and how he deals with his ordeal. In the end, he survives, escapes his narrow prison and is rescued.

When I first heard about this story in the news a few years back, I was shocked that a guy would cut off his own arm to save himself. It had the potential to be a great story of courage and bravery and when Nate at work told me about the book, I was eager to read it. After reading the book, I changed my opinion of the author and the experience. I think my opinion of Aron himself clouded my opinion of the story. Not in a bad way, but I have a hard time relating to people who do things only for themselves. He’s all about breaking records, climbing mountains, and showing off all of his great talents that benefit no one but him. At one point, he tells of his experience with a search and rescue group, but the only rescue experience he relates to the reader is his own and not of anyone he actually helped. He seems to think that he enriches his friend’s lives, and it appears that he does in his own way, but he doesn’t really contribute to anything greater than his own desires and dreams. I do admire him for quitting his job as an engineer and pursuing his dream. I have friends who have done just that and I applaud them for leaving their comfort zone to chase that elusive dream. It’s not easy, but we only have one life and you might as well spend it doing something you want than something you feel you’re stuck doing. Anyways, back to the book, I think it’s a good read. I don’t have to like the guy or his outlook on life in order to say that it’s a good story.

Out of a 10 star rating scale, with 10 being the best, I’d give it a 7.

Oh, on a closing note, the other day I was getting my patches for my new unit and discovered that they actually have a patch for IRR soldiers. It’s ironic because most folks in the IRR are civilians and don’t wear the uniform. Again, leave it to the Army to make a patch that would not normally be worn on a uniform.

23 January 2007


I don’t normally watch a lot of TV. I watch Lost, and sometimes Prison Break and Heros, but not much else. I thought that this deployment would deprive me of my shows, but it’s been almost two weeks now and I really don’t miss the TV. I did see that the new season of Prison Break was on in the day room last night and I was half tempted to sit down and watch it. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was half way through the episode and that I missed last week’s season premier, I might have. I’m sure I’ll get to catch up on my TV watching when I get back or when they all go to DVD and I can buy or rent the entire season.

I took this funny picture of one of the FA captains here in the CRC with us. Can you tell what he's thinking about by looking at the cover of his book?

22 January 2007


First day in Uniform

Today was a day of a lot of firsts. It was the first day that we reported to formation in uniform. It started out with the new issued PT wear, which was just entering the service when I was getting out, and we did the new Standardized PT, which has replaced all of the old stretches with a standardized set of exercises aimed at building strong core muscles and preventing injuries. It was rough for some folks, especially those who could barely squeeze their new larger civilian bodies into their new shorts and running pants, but most of us got through the training. It was more of a teaching session than a “beat your face” type of haze and we all looked pretty clumsy trying to practice these new maneuvers. After a quick shower, we changed into our new ACUs, or Army Combat Uniform. As officers, we have to buy all of our own gear. Apparently, the Army thinks that officers don’t do any real physical work so they don’t believe in issuing uniforms to the “O” ranks. While I will agree that most of the enlisted ranks do more dirty labor, I don’t think its grounds for not issuing any uniforms to the officers until we get our issued gear for whatever theater we’ll be going to (and I’m not talking about a choice between Cinemark and Tinsel Town either).

In any case, there was something strange about donning the new uniform. It wasn’t the first time I ever put it on because I bought a set of ACUs back in November for this deployment. This was, however, the first time that I ever wore the uniform around a lot of other folks who, like me, were called back into active duty. It made it all more “official” for some reason, as if wearing my civilian clothes and attending military classes this last week was just a dream and somehow the Levi’s blue jeans and Old Navy t-shirt kept me linked to the civilian world. Because it was a new uniform for majority of us, we spent most of the morning picking over each other and making sure we looked somewhat squared away for the next formation. The new ensemble requires new polyester/cotton moisture wicking shirts, no-polish suede desert boots, and the ever controversial black beret. Controversial only because the Army kind of took the black beret away from the Rangers and there are still some bitter feelings that the men with the tabs hold onto. There is also a LOT of Velcro on this uniform, or to use the military vernacular, hook and pile fasteners. Leave it to the Army to take a simple word and make it more complicated. The idea is that it will save money by not requiring anything to be sewed to it since all the nametapes, rank and unit insignia can just be slapped onto the pre-sewn Velcro patches. In fact, it is against the regulations to sew, alter, press, iron or dry clean this uniform. Overall, it’s pretty comfy and doesn’t require much in the way of care, but it’s going to take a while to get use to since the last time I was in uniform, I was sporting the standard Battle Dress Uniforms, or BD-huahs, black leather boots, and patrol cap. I have come to be that guy who finds himself always reminiscing of yesteryear and saying “back in the old army…”

I wanted to take a moment and thank those who have commented on the blog. Because I only have limited access to the computers, I try to do most of my writing in the bays at night and transfer the stuff to one of the 4 computers in the pseudo day room that we have at our disposal. Unfortunately, my time on the machines is severely limited and I have to jump on and jump off in order to not hog the machines. I did want to say thanks to everyone who comments on them, and if you haven’t yet, please do. I like reading the things that others put on there just as much as people like reading the things I post and I hope to be able to read more of them once I get settled.

20 January 2007


After a long afternoon of sitting around and waiting, we were given guidance from the commander that we were all to be released on "post pass", but not before we filled some bottles with pee. Yep, a drug test for all. Not that the results matter much as they will deploy us regardless if we were smoking the wacky tobacky or popping pills (they'll just prosecute us when we get back from Iraq). Some of us are planning on going out to eat at a decent steak place (Outback) if we can get a few more folks together to split the cab. Since we are in the middle of nowhere, transpo is very hard to get. Cabs don't even know where our location is and trying to guide them is a challenge to say the least. There is even talk about catching a movie afterwards, but we'll see how that goes.

The severe beating of an Army Officer

Last night I beat up a fellow soldier, more specifically, I beat up a captain who I will be going to war with. It was the result of an incident that just escalated beyond my control and it is something I’m not very proud of. I would like to say that it was a result of something substantial, but it wasn’t. Here is my recollection of the incident:

Last night the commander of our CRC unit cut us loose a little early and a group of us decided to go let off some steam at the post bowling alley, not that any of us were really excited about bowling, but it was a chance to get out of the bays which are feeling more and more like a prison these days. The cabs picked up the 12 of us around 7:30pm (or 1930 for you military types) after evening chow (which none of us went to) and hauled us to the ever familiar Airborne School where the bowling establishment resides. None of us talked a lot of smack about the friendly sporting challenge since we all knew that our pin smashing skills were not so good, but after donning our ever so stylish bowling shoes, ordering up some grub and a few pitchers of liquid courage, soon we were talking trash. The first game was mild mannered as we all got use to hurling the house balls down the lanes, but as the beer flowed and the tension eased, we started to get a little rambunctious. Some of us broke 100 for the first time in our bowling careers and the LTC and COL taught us that the higher rank you get in the military, the better your bowling abilities are, and they schooled us with said abilities. Hyped up on Pepsi and sugar (I don’t drink much beer), I let loose with my arsenal of mad bowling skills that I learned as a youngster growing up in Michigan; a few left handed throws, a few between the legs, a no look bowl, the super sloth ball and the ever popular “run from the bathroom with a ball and launch it at breakneck speeds” throw. It could have been called showboating, but with scores of 112 and 116, it falls more in the category of acting the fool (I get that way on caffeine for some reason). The time snuck up on us and some of us decided to head back to the bays before it got too late. That meant that the other part of the group, fueled by a few more pitchers of beer, donned their beer goggles and decided to do a little hunting of the opposite sex in more target rich environments than the post bowling alley. The time was 10:10pm.

Let’s fast forward to 3:30am this morning. So there I was, back on my rubber mattress, curled up under my army issued wool blanket and far away in dream land when I heard the second group stumble into the bays. I’ve come to learn that drunk people, much like small children, have a hard time perceiving sound, or at least the sounds that they make. They try like the Dickens to be silent, but their clumsy motor skills and loud whispering takes away from their attempted stealthiness. Group 2 came in with the grace of a heard of hippos, but they soon settled down to their beds, or rather, they passed out on the first horizontal surface they fell on, which happened to be their bunks. It wasn’t long after this that the snoring began. It started with one, then two, then three, and then it was as if I was stuck in a horrible episode of “Snoring Idle” and everyone was giving their best to impress the judges with their impersonations of a hiccupping lawn mower, a broken chainsaw and fowled up tractor engine. The Lawn Mower’s bunk was next to mine, and I did my best to try and understand that he was probably a little inebriated and just needed a gentle nudge to put him in a more comfortable sleeping posture. This ceased his bellowing, but only slightly. As the Mower revved up again, I slipped out of my bunk and put in some foam earplugs to help block out the sound. This only helped in muffling the blare of the Chainsaw and Tractor Engine. The vibrations of the Lawn Mower however still found their way through my fragile sound barrier and I knew I had to come up with a better plan if I had any hope of getting back to sleep. So, politely, extended my arm and with my rubber pillow, I hit him on his arm. This did nothing to phase him or the snoring. I hit him again, this time with a little more force, and I aimed for the chest area this time. This only gave me a 5 minute reprieve from his gurgling breathing. Getting more frustrated, I hit him again, this time aiming for his gaping mouth. Nothing. At this point, something in me snapped. I saw white as I wielded my pillow like an ancient spiked flail, thrashing at the source of the sound with backhanded blows until the rubber pillow ripped from it case and landed on his head. The Lawn Mower didn’t even budge from the volleys of blows, but the noise had ceased and I had lost my pillow. I reached over, retrieved my lost weapon, and tried to get back to sleep, only to be woken 15 minutes later by the lights of our bay being turned on. It was 6:00am and time to get ready for first formation at 6:30am.

As we all got up and began the daily preparations for the duty day, there were discussions of what Group 2 did after we parted ways at the bowling alley last night followed by friendly chidings about the alcohol enhanced sleep that caused folks to make so much noise. The conversation also brought up questions about another noise that people heard under the din of the snoring; the sound of someone going postal on their mattress as if they were having a violent nightmare about fighting a fierce beast. As for me, I got dressed, made my bed, and quietly tucked my pillowcase up under itself to hide the ripped seams from the battle.

No infantry officers were hurt in the making of this story.

By the way, this is what happens when you leave the bowling alley drunk. Note Lawn Mower's feet next to his wall locker.

19 January 2007

My home

My home away from home. As you can see, it's pretty spartan, but it is where I lay my head at night while I'm here. Still don't have a neighbor upstairs, and with the number of people that are dropping out for medical, I don't think I will have any neighbors either.

17 January 2007


Today was filled with poking and prodding by the medical folks to see if we are deployable. It is more of a formality than an actual requirement as most of us believe that if we walked in on one leg with our spleens in our hands, they would just give us some Motrin and tell us to get on the plane. We did lose a few officers due to some pretty serious problems, but even in my semi-broken state from years of military service and self abuse, I didn’t dodge the bullet. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring.

The last time I was at Georgia was for Airborne School back in 95. It was summer and it was hot. Dare I say hotter than Texas. When I hit the ground here 3 days ago, it was 70 degrees, which is a big difference from the Dallas that I left 3 days ago, which was about to get slammed with an ice storm. That storm has made its way here, and it is now freak’n cold. A lot of the guys here weren’t prepared to be wearing civilian clothes for the first week and they were not prepared for a rainy morning formation with temps down below freezing. Thank goodness I had a warm comfy jacket to ward off the cold. Of course, my jacket is brown and I can’t wear it with my pants of the same color without looking like UPS worker, but I don’t mind. It keeps me warm while the guy next to me in shorts is hating life.

Today was another double MRE day. Two pre packaged bags of goodness, compliments of Uncle Sam. I could go on for days trying to explain how I’m just going to get fatter by eating these things, but I will refrain from spewing too much negativity. I don’t want to go down that road this early in the game.

15 January 2007

Death by Powerpoint

Death by Powerpoint

Today is the first full day of classes and we are at the mercy of the Powerpoint gods. Classes are pretty dull and dry. Most of it is admin stuff that, while necessary, is not something that will keep your attention for very long.

I am suppose to meet the POC for my new unit here tonight, but I haven’t heard from him yet. The night is still young though. Me, along with a handful of other Captains are all assigned to the same unit on our orders.

Now, let me take a second here to clarify some things. I set up this blog to keep my friends and family informed about how I’m doing during my deployment. Because the internet isn’t the most secure system in the world, the information I put out could be under the watchful eye of some less desirable individuals. For that reason, I don’t put my name on here and I don’t put too many details about what I’m doing or where I’ll be. I apologize to all the people who want more details, but the security is just part of the job.

The internet availability is pretty sketchy where I’m located. I’m limited to the short burst that I can send out on the cell phone and of the times I can get a signal, I can only navigate a page or two before it drops the connection. I can email blogs to my account, but unfortunately, I can’t read them or edit them once they are posted. They have 4 computers in the day room that have internet access, but the line out the door to get on them never seems to get shorter.

Tomorrow’s schedule is full of medical and dental in-processing filled with poking, prodding, and a slew of shots. Not a day to look forward to, especially when they issue you two MRE’s for breakfast and lunch. Any day that starts out with an MRE is not a good day.

14 January 2007

Welcome to the suck

Welcome to the suck.

I’ve been boots on ground for less than a day and I am already known around the bay as “that guy”. I’m the one who was suppose to be out of the army a LONG time ago, but somehow got called up. Half of them think I got shafted, while the other half think that that I’m an idiot. Most of the officers, or “alphas”, are infantry captains who are year group 2004 and are bitter to say the least. They are here because they have to be, not because they volunteered to stay on inactive status like me. I don’t blame them for being a little salty, but I expected this. In fact, I’d be a little worried if any of them were actually happy or excited to be here.

My re-initiation into the Army officially started when I ate an MRE for dinner. Yummy. We came in too late for the chow hall so we had to fend for ourselves. Since we aren’t allowed to leave the area and none of us have been issued ID cards to leave and return to the base, the only options were to storm the candy machine by the day room or eat an MRE. I chose the latter. They aren’t that bad, but that is coming from a person who hasn’t had an MRE in a LONG time.

They have a lot of activities planned for us this week, but most of them involve force feeding Powerpoint slides down our throats and signing our lives away on a forest’s worth of paper. Next week is when we’ll know more about what we’ll be doing or where we’ll be going. I’ve heard everything from training folks in country to driving desks at a ANG unit. If there is one lesson that I’ve carried with me from my previous stint in uniform is to be flexible and to roll with the punches. No need to get stressed out about things that I can’t control.

06 January 2007


Yesterday was my last day of work. Granted, I still have a few things to wrap up at the office (performance evals, benefit changes, sabotaging the mainframe) but for the most part, I’m officially unemployed for the next 9 days. It’s a surreal feeling actually, especially when I emptied out my office into a little plastic bin and drove away. I know I’ll be back in less than 2 years so it’s nothing permanent, but it still felt strange.

I haven’t updated much due to the fact that I’ve been swamped with the holidays and getting my stuff ready to go. Thanks to my brother, I’ve managed to almost get my entire house packed up without renting a truck or calling in favors of my friends. He’s been a great help and I’m glad we’ve got to spend so much time together.

I woke up early this morning and realized that I’ve got about a week left to be a civilian and enjoy the thrills of wearing whatever I want and not being called “sir” all the time. I would like to say that I have some grand plan on how to spend this last week, like going to someplace tropical and warm, or hitting the strip at Vegas, or road tripping to some cool destination to whoop it up. Unfortunately, I’ve still got to close on the house, attend a farewell at work, and finish getting the rest of my stuff ready for the deployment. The 7 weeks I originally had just flew by and I’m scrambling to get the loose ends tied up. I’m not stressing, but I wish things were a little more relaxing.

My folks will be in the area today to pick up my aunt and cousin from the airport. I plan on meeting them for lunch or something like that. My mother has been jones’n to see me and my brother more before we leave, but I’ve been sort of busy to do too much visiting. While I can understand why a mother wants to see her kids, it is hard to accommodate more family time with all of the stuff that I need to finish. It makes me feel a little guilty, but I’m trying to make sure we have a few days together while my family is in town.

I hear boxes that need to be filled calling my name so I’m off to answer.

Oh, here’s a pic of the fam at Christmas. Argh!