Updated on April 22, 2006
Emily (my hottie wife) showed this to me as she was making Valentines for friends and I wanted to share it with everyone.
A woman for all seasons
A woman for today
She grows to meet the challenges
And grows along the way
Her life is not an easy one
With many loads to bear
But she proudly serves her husband
And the uniform he wears
Although she didn’t take the oath
To preserve democracy
She’s there each day on the home front
To keep our country free
She’s foreign-born or a country girl
Diversity you will find
But to be an army wife
It takes a special kind
She’s one who keeps on going
Through adversity and pain
She’s the steady, strong foundation
When nothing stays the same
She the one who sheds a tear
As Old Glory passes by
But couldn’t give an answer
If you were to ask her why
Throughout the years, she marches on
Through tears and joy and strife
She’s America’s unsung hero –
She’s A Military Wife!!
Updated on April 11, 2006
As long as I can remember, I’ve been picking things up off the ground. When I first got married as a young private in the Army, I couldn’t afford to buy a clue, much less anything to put in a house. Our furniture consisted of a milk crate upon which we places a small 10″ screen TV, a wicker, egg-shaped chair that folded you into a paperclip when you sat it in, and a dresser (that’s what we called our suitcases). For a bed, we went to a mattress store and pulled out a queen size mattress and box spring from beside the dumpster and stuck in on the floor in our room – no frame. You should have seen our little Suzuki Esteem carry these things back home on top of the car. One strong gust of wind and we’d have been blown into Monterey Bay car and all (we lived in Monterey, CA at the time). We had a wabbly card table for a kitchen table in our dining room. The house echoed nicely when you spoke. The hardwood floors served well as my desk, so long as I was lying on my stomach. The best thing we had in that house was a stereo system I’d had for when I used to DJ.
After a few months of that, some friends from church asked us if we’d watch their kids for an afternoon and evening. Later that evening, the doorbell rang. I looked to the peephole to find the family standing outside. The door wasn’t locked and they obviously had keys to their own house. I opened the door to an enormous, “SURPRISE!” My eyes gazed past them and fixed on a little wooden chair. They told me that the rest of it was in the back of the truck. Their entire purpose for leaving that day was to buy Emily and I a solid oak desk with chair and dresser. Actually, the church had purchased it for us. Apparently, clothes should be in a drawers not on the floor in a suitcase. Of course, if you ask Emily, I still don’t get that concept. My clothes are everywhere. I now had a chair and desk to do my homework on (I was in an intense Spanish immersion course at the Army’s Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center). We were speachless and still have that dresser and desk after 10 years, even though it doesn’t really go with anything anymore.
Anyway, if I see something of value on the ground, I pick it up, especially money. I don’t care if it’s a penny or a $50 bill. Today as I was walking into the PX, I noticed a nickel and penny on the ground. Hey, that’s $.06. I thought to myself, “how much money do I think I’ve picked up from a parking lot or sidewalk in my life?” Then I thought, “mmmm…..Taco Bell.” After that thought was gone, I thought it would be a neat idea to document my “Parking Lot Penny” exploits and find out how much money I indeed make bending down and freeing these coins from their miserable lots in life. It’s gotta suck just lying there and letting cars run over you all the time. I woudn’t like it. Some pennies have obviously been waiting a long time for a savior to come by and pick them up so they can become a useful member of the monetary society.
For some reason, it seems soldiers just don’t respect their pennies. You find them everywhere from a parking lot to the PT field to the counters next to a cash register (apparently because it’s too difficult to carry around the extra weight of a few cents). If I see ’em, I’m picking them up. And from now on, I’ll be keeping track of all the money I find on the streets and in my daily doings and writing it down here. I start with the nickel and penny I found today in the PX parking lot. I’m calling my project, Parking Lot Pennies. Check back often for updates.
Until I’m a millionaire (that’s a hundred million pennies), I remain……
Updated on May 1, 2005
Let me tell you a little about what my life is like when I’m not shooting at people. I work in an office now as a planner/ceiling tile counter. I kill a lot trees by filling out multiple forms and making obscene copies of each one. My eyes are in a constant zombie-like state from staring at a computer screen 27 hours a day. Sometimes I take a break and count the Homies on my desk (or play with the bobble headed ones) or walk down the hall to the Dr. Pepper machine (mmmmmmm………Dr. Pepper). You know, this would be the perfect job if there was a Taco Bell right outside my door. I could roll my chair over the door and into the hallway and order a 7-layer burrito then roll back to my desk.
Anyway, because of all the deployment requirements, we haven’t had a rotation here in a few months. I’ve been keeping busy by taking courses and attending conferences related to my job. I’ve become really good playing Gin. I’ve read more news articles that CNN can publish in a year. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the Al Jazeera “news.” I’ve probably listened to my entire collection of 2,500 CD’s. And all this I’ve done in the last hour!! Lucky for me, I found one of those squishy things that are meant to relieve stress. Mine is shaped like a brain. It’s kind of ironic really. While my brain is being wasted, a squishier version is get a better workout.
There are 34 tiles on my ceiling. Actually, 28 because 4 of them are lights and two are vents. They all seem to be in good order. No leaks from an unknown source. I’m listening to Powerman5000, one of my favorite groups and another CD I’ve heard a lot of lately. To keep things entertaining, I brought in some push up bars to the office. My rule is that anytime I walk into the office I have to do 30 pushups. Eventually, I’ll move that up to 40 then 50. So, each morning I walk in, I knock out 30. If I go to the bathroom, 30 more. A Dr. Pepper costs me 30. Lunch, if I leave, is another set. In a quite efficient move, I’ve managed to keep my office leavings to a minimum. I don’t want to do anymore pushups. I’m sure that I’m sterile now since I keep waiting until the last minute to relieve myself. I have to make sure that when I go, it’s worth 30 pushups. The problem is that Dr. Pepper and the latrine (that’s military speak for bathroom) are not on good speaking terms. And one invariably pushes me off on the other. So, a Dr. Pepper is pretty much worth about 90 pushups instead of 30 because it sends me to the potty twice…at least. Then, I also drink water to keep myself hydrated which is another visit.
I’ve also started riding my bike to work. The motorcycle is a little jealous, but I’m getting a little more exercise this way. Since I can’t run anymore (due to back injury), riding a bike and swimming is the only form of cardiovascular exercise available to me. Of course, after a few days of riding a bike, my butt hurts. Hopefully, that will go away. I just knocked over a Homie four Homie dogs with my brain (the squishy one). Hmmm….Homie bowling. That should keep me occupied for a bit.
Until I again lose my sanity, I remain….
Updated on April 11, 2006
I love Homies. And I’m not talking about the gangbangers walking up and down Barstow with their water pistols and black “T-Bird” jackets (a homage to my favorite movie). I’m talking about the little 1 1/2 inch tall figures that you buy from gumball machines. I’ve been collecting them for about 9 months now.
It all started at one of my favorite places in all the world – Taco Bell!! After eating a deliciously tantalizing 7-Layer burrito with chicken and a zesty chicken soft taco with a large Dr. Pepper, my office buddies and I left. On the way, we spied a machine with little men in it and one of the guys realized he had $.50 in his pocket. He dug out the money, picked off the pocket lint, and carefully slid the Abraham Lincoln image laden coins into the slots. After a quick turn of the dial, out came the first Homie. Of course, we all had $.50 in our pockets and plunked down the change to get one of our own. After that, I was hooked. We all were. But none as much as me.
Every time I’d see a machine with Homies in it, I’d fish through my pockets until I had the proper change to get one. My desk is now filled with over 160 Homies. I get a lot of funny looks when people walk in in amazement. I’m sure they’re thinking, “what’s a white boy doing collecting Homies?” I’m still missing a lot of figures from Set #4 and #6. I recently bought the entire #1 set of Hoodrats. My goal is to find the Homie Clowns, which I have only 2 of. They also came out with another series I’ve been collecting called the Palermos. Kind of an Italian mafia set. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t stick money in the machine anymore because I keep getting the same figures.
Every now and then Emily and I go to Victorville (the closest thing resembling a real town) to shop at the mall or get a real meal. They only thing that could possibly make Victorville a better place would be a Super Walmart and an Old Navy. It could also use a Ryan’s Steakhouse or Golden Corral.
In Victorville, there is a huge indoor swap meet-type place. One of the shops in there is owned by a Mexican family and specializes in Cell phone parts and obscure rap and salsa music. They also have a Homie addict’s paradise display of Homies. You can buy them in packages or one at a time. The cost is about $1 per Homie. The sets vary in price according to set and number of figures in it. I don’t mind paying that price for a Homie, because I was spending more than that on a machine trying to get one that I didn’t have. This (along with Magic: The Gathering Cards) are my only true addictions. Okay, and music. And my wife. And my motorcycle. Okay, I have a few addictions, but at least they don’t cause cancer or brain cell loss. I can’t afford that.
Updated on May 1, 2005
The stories tell it all:
“Medics Provide a U.S. Army ‘Band-Aid’ to Iraqi Kids” Dec 22, 2004
“MPs Render First Aid to Injured Afghan Family” (car accident) Dec 23, 2004
“U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet first to provide naval support to Indonesia’s Aceh” Jan 1, 2005
“US airmen provide aid to Iran” Dec 29, 2003
“US to continue to provide financial aid to the Palestinians” Sep 20, 2003
“U.S. Food Donation For North Korea” Feb 25, 2003
All these headlines are drawn from multiple sources throughout in the media. There are obviously many other headlines about the US, and particularly the US military, providing aid to countries across the entire spectrum of the globe. And yet, I mentioned here six examples of where we’ve aided the “enemy.” According to the Muslim world, we are their enemy. Yet we have assisted practically every Islamic nation in its time of need.
When huge earthquakes devastated Iran, no doubt for their anti-Zionist ranting, we rushed in and helped them rebuild. Iran is a part of the “axis of evil.” The US has contributed more food to North Korea, which obviously helped feed Kim Jong Il and his harem, than any other nation. They are a member of the “axis of evil.” Palestinians are/were mortal enemies of our staunch allies in Israel and yet we provide them aid, most likely to purchase more car bombs and suicide vests, and fight feverishly to ensure they status as an independent state. Everyone knows what we’re doing and have done for Iraq and Afghanistan so I won’t go into that.
The point I’m trying to make is this: In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday…. What does that mean? I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW!! But, it’s a catchy phrase isn’t it. Will it ever really be tomorrow. I mean, before you know it it’s today and suddenly yesterday was the tomorrow you were worried about two days ago. It’s all very confusing and quite interesting.
I’m listening to Blue Man Group as I type this. These guys are awesome. Oh, yeah, back to what I was typing earlier…
The reason I brought all that up is a headline I was reading in today’s news: “Tsunami survivors await help as officials are accused of plundering aid… ” Where is the Muslim world with their complaints about the hundreds and thousands of Muslims being bribed by their Muslim governments for aid or outright denied. When we first decided to give aid to Indonesian crisis, all they could do was complain about the stinginess of our help. If I were President at the time, I’d have taken it all back and told them, “you want to complain about what we’re giving you FREE, then we’ll take it back and use it to buy our own country lunch at Taco Bell.”
I wouldn’t make a good President. I wouldn’t bow to political pressure. So you gave me $2 million during my campaign, thanks for helping me win. Now, give another $2 million to your local school district and show some real Americanism. Give $2 million to your local veteran’s home.
I think I forgot the whole purpose of this post. The title is from Matthew 7:16 in the Bible. I guess the point of all this is that good people (and countries) do good things, for EVERYONE. One of my favorite sayings is, “Your friends teach you what you want to know. Enemies teach you what you need to know.” Again, that doesn’t quite fit here, but I’m fishing now. Good people don’t usually do bad things. Of course, no one’s perfect, but a good person will admit mistakes and those are the good fruits.
Okay, I’m going to start a new post and try to be more focused.
Updated on December 27, 2011
These pictures are a little out of order. The top right is just before we entered town. The bottom our convoy slowly driving through town and destroying Iraqi defenses. The top left is a burning Iraqi T-72 tank that was just destroyed.
Updated on April 9, 2006
I had a rough night last night. Sleeping was labored, even with the Vicodin I take to overcome my back pain at night. I woke up numerous times wondering where I was for a few seconds, then falling back asleep.
I was dreaming about my trip through the town of Al Mahmudiyah. The town is located just south of Baghdad. Before we took Baghdad, we had to go through this town and destroy any forces that may try to ambush us during our taking of the great city. Hidden between buildings and in alleys were Iraqi T-80 and T-72 tanks, as well as BMPs, AA guns, mortars, you name it. As we slowly progressed through the town, the sounds of main tank rounds resonated along the streets as we slowly destroyed the Iraqi Forces defenses. I was in the middle of the convoy going through this town…in a HMMWV (a humvee). We didn’t have the up-armored HMMWVs that we have nowadays. Heck, for the first week of the war, I was in a HMMWV with canvas doors and covering. After a week or so, I was able to trade our truck out for a turtleback HMMWV. It looks a lot like the armored ones, but with thinner skin. Definitely a lot safer than my other truck. As least if hot shrapnel landed on my truck, it would burn through the roof onto my lap.
As the tanks and Bradleys ahead of me continued their raping of Iraqi defenses (and I don’t mean that in a sexual sense), we faithfully followed, picking off the remaining pockets of soldiers that slipped the sights of the big guns. At one instance, while crossing a bridge, a soldier in a bunker opened up on our convoy. I shot back at him with my M-16, and when that jammed, the AK-47 I had taken earlier in the war. The shooting stopped in the bunker, but the noise inside the truck was VERY loud. My chief in the seat in front of me took the brunt of it with his ears. His hearing is a lot worse than when we left.
The convoy pushed further south, leaving behind burning chunks of metal and barely recognizable military equipment. Some of those vehicles were ammunition carriers. After they were destroyed, the intense heat and fire would set off the rounds as we were passing by them. One such vehicle was literally on the shoulder about 25 feet from us as we passed it, popping off mortar rounds and sending bullets zinging past our truck. Pieces of shrapnel landed and bounced on the hood of our vehicle and landed on the top. The concussions were deafening, indescribable booms that pierced your very soul. At that moment, I was more afraid of the dead stuff than the stuff shooting at me.
Then, at the worst possible moment, the convoy would stop. Off to our right and further away to our left artillery shells and mortars were still cooking off. Bullets were zinging over and beside our truck and we were just sitting there. There wasn’t a human being hurling those shots at us. We couldn’t return fire to quell the rage. The targets of those rounds were left totally random. The fact that not one pierced or even grazed our truck was more miracle than chance. The 1SG just ahead of us had red hot shrapnel land on his shoulder and burn through his uniform onto his neck. Eventually, it was over and we made it through the town and past the defenses on the other side. But, that was just the beginning… we had to go back!!
The entire way back through the town we had just blow to bits was like driving through a gauntlet. The only thing that got me through that ordeal unscathed was prayer and faith. I made my peace and privately said goodbye to my family and begged their forgiveness for not coming home. But, we made it through. We had some injuries, but surprisingly no one died. As we got to the northern side of town where we had entered, the Iraqis were out cheering for us and thanking us for saving them.
Last night, I relived this episode again. I’ve relived it many times before without any problems. But, last night wasn’t like any other time. My youngest daughter was playing in the streets of Al Mahmudiyah last night. I couldn’t catch her and bring her into the safety of my vehicle and out of harm’s way on the street. She had her favorite blankie with her and was sucking on her two fingers in the usual fashion. She was giggling and completely oblivious to the fighting going on around her. Didn’t notice the shrapnel that pierced the lower part of her blanket and left a burnt ring near the corner. Each time I woke up, I tried to gain my bearing, realized it was dream, and drifted back into the same terrifying loop as before.
When I finally woke up to the voice of my son and wife calling me, I was dizzy. I couldn’t see anything straight as the world whizzed by me from left to right. I went downstairs and listened to my wife read our morning scriptures to the kids before they headed off to the busstop. A couple of times, I had to go to the bathroom because I thought I was gonna be sick from all the spinning. It was hard to open my eyes. Emily allowed me to fall back asleep on the couch and when I awoke I felt a little better. But, it was time for work and I needed to take a shower. I headed upstairs, took a shower, and began feeling a lot better. I was only slightly dizzy when I mounted my trusty steed (my mighty ’03 Suzuki Hayabusa) and headed to work. Within an hour I was back to normal.
Emily reads this blog, so I know she’s going to read this. I didn’t tell her about why I probably felt the way I did. I didn’t tell her about my dream, though I know she asked me why I was up so many times last night. I don’t talk a lot about what’s going on in my mind, cause usually not much really is going on in my mind. Usually, it’s just a bunch of voices arguing over whether or not to eat another Tootsie Roll or drink another Dr. Pepper. Sometimes my mind contemplate deep issues like whether black is really purple and we just named it wrong. Most of the time the only thing going on in my mind the breeze travelling from ear to ear. So, as you read this Emily, forgive me for not talking to you about it first. You know I don’t like discussing my weaknesses. I need to be the strong man you married, not the weak guy who has a bad dream every so often and can’t talk about it.
By the way, Hannah’s blanket is fine. I didn’t notice any holes in it this morning.
Updated on May 17, 2006
I’m not one to complain about military life because I actually like it. I would not have stayed in 10 years now if I didn’t enjoy what I’m doing. However, there are some things that the military does (or perhaps it’s the freely elected civilian leadership) that irritates me.
One thing is the military’s recent decision to privatize housing on military installations. Now, being in as long as I have, I can understand the why of it. Previously, under military rule, if you had a problem with post housing you’d call the work order desk. After they took your complaint, they’d give you a ballpark figure about when the repair would be conducted. Usually, you had to be available between now and 23 years after retirement. That’s the window for showing up for the repairs. You are told to make sure that someone is home during that period, because they wouldn’t do anything without you. After hanging up the phone, they called their spy cell and sent out undercover agents to watch your house. It was a very elaborate effort, I’m sure. After waiting all day on the day they told you to wait, you decide a quick run to the mail box is in order. The housing spies immediately call in your departure from the house and the repair guys converge and ring your doorbell. Of course, you’re checking the mail only 50 feet away, but out of view of your house. Satisfied, they have done everything in their power to fix your problem, they leave a note and you start the whole process of initiating a work order all over again. They get paid, you get pissed, and the world keeps turning.
Now, though, contractors are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all military housing. This is actually a good thing because soldiers are no longer doing menial tasks like pulling weeds, picking up sloppy, lazy people’s cigarette butts who just couldn’t use their ashtray or stick the buttin their pocket, or sweeping gutters in the street. There are people who now come out with their loud leafblowers and clean the gutters for us. They pull the weeds, trim the hedges, and organize the rocks (we don’t believe in grass here in the desert). When we call in a work order, the wait is generally no more than a week, most of the time a couple of days. Sometimes, we get same day service. It’s a much more efficient system, which should be embarrassing to the military, but isn’t. The problem with the previous system is that there wasn’t enough oversight and the civilians working for housing were lazy and got away with more than they should have.
This actually saves the taxpayer money (at least that’s what they tell the taxpayers, I don’t know). In the past, under the Army system, when we moved into base or post housing, they wouldn’t pay us our housing allowance. We didn’t really need it, since the military was paying for housing. Nowadays, our BAH (basic allowance for housing) is given to us, but we have to set up an allotment that takes the money back from our paychecks and pays directly to the contractors. Here’s the fun part that irks me a little.
In January of each year, the military generally gets a raise in both their basic pay and BAH. I like to call it more of an allowance. It helps me buy an extra soda a month 12 times a year. I mean, how can I complain about 12 bottles of Dr. Pepper more each year I stay in the military. A few more years of this, and I should be able to start buying cases. So, this year we got a BAH raise of about $230. So, this year I get to pay an extra $230 to my “landlord” for the exact same house, the exact same loud leafblower, and the exact same lack of parking that I had last year. Next year, I’ll probably pay at least another $100 to them. Anywhere else in the country, I really wouldn’t have room to complain because I decided to live on post. And, to be honest, I chose to live on post here too. But considering the nearest town(?) is Barstow and it’s 40 miles away, I really didn’t have a choice. I would have to buy gas twice a week at these astronomical prices and would have ended up losing money in the long run anyway. So, I’m almost forced into paying over $1200 a month for an apartment I wouldn’t willingly own anywhere else.
I guess I can take solace in the fact that I’m not picking up after lazy, selfish, good-for-nothing smokers who throw their cigarettes on the ground and out their windows! I don’t feel that way about all smokers, just the ones that litter with their cancer stick remains. Of course, whether you smoke and properly dispose of the butts or smoke and incur my wrath by throwing them on the ground, I’m gonna live longer!!
So, until that life insurance kicks in, I remain…
Updated on January 16, 2006
I’ve been domesticated. I had an epiphany yesterday and decided that my fate is sealed. There are few things I’ve learned to do since I got married that I never used to do. For example, I baked bread yesterday (granted it was in a bread machine, but it’s a step), I have to clean up after myself (though this still needs some attention to perfect), I eat at the table most of the time, I sleep in pajamas, I take out the garbage (I don’t understand, it’s mostly biodegradable and will disappear one day by itself, won’t it?), my music is barely audible anymore and it’s gone from Slayer to the Spongebob soundtrack, I have to obey speed limits (though I continue to try and push the envelope with this one), etc. Married life is different, especially when you love your wife the way I do. I don’t mind changing a little, it keeps me around. It’s also warmer sleeping next to her than balancing myself on the couch.
Now, just because I’m domesticated doesn’t mean I’m not happy. Quite the opposite. I’ve never been happier in my life. To be fair, I probably wouldn’t be alive today if not for Emily. Before I met her, I was an alcoholic. At just 19 years old, I had been drinking heavily for four years when I met her. I can’t exactly pinpoint any real reason except that it got worse when my family moved to Japan during my senior year of high school. Fitting in wasn’t easy so I began to drink more. The good thing is that I was well hydrated. To even things out, I mixed my liquor with Gatorade. A drunk’s gotta keep up his electrolytes.
I’d had many girlfriends who gave me the ultimatum that it’s either them or the bottle. Needless to say, I went through a lot of girlfriends. But, Emily made me want to give up my best friend (to some Mr. Weiser, but we were on a first name basis….it was Bud to me). We had a long talk that turned into an argument, and Bud and I parted ways. It was really ugly and we don’t even send emails anymore.
As a testament to how bored I am today, I was watching C-SPAN this morning. The air conditioning bill for the House must be astronomic. There is so much hot air in there that I’d hate to be in the top rows where it all rises. They were debating whether or not the Solomon Amendment should be reinstated. What is the Solomon Amendment? Good question. Let me explain:
The 1996 Solomon Amendment provides for the Secretary of Defense to deny federal funding to institutions of higher learning if they prohibit or prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus. The main topic of discussion today was just allowing military recruiters on campus. About 3 days ago, in a suit brought by members of the Yale Law School faculty, a federal district court in Connecticut declared the Solomon Amendment unconstitutional under the First Amendment and enjoined the law’s enforcement against Yale. The reason that Yale had banned the military from recruiting on campus was due to the military’s gay service policy. Let me remind my readers that the military didn’t set this policy, lawmakers did. We may have lobbied for it, but it’s not our policy. If the legal idiots looking out for our best interests decided gays can serve openly, we’d have to support it. Personally, I’m not really opposed to gay’s serving in the military. I don’t support the lifestyle, by any means. But, who are we to say that gay’s can’t fight and die for their country like anyone else? Our military today isn’t like the one of old, where everyone shares showers and huge bay style living conditions.
I think the main problem here is that the hippies and stoners of the 60’s who protested anything military are now running these educational institutions. They have not changed their mindsets are now thrusting their views onto anyone attending their schools. I think Ronald Reagan said it best when he was California Governor in the early ’70’s about war protesters and those who protest the military. “The last bunch of pickets were carrying signs that said ‘Make love, not war,’ he said of anti-war protesters. “The only trouble was they didn’t look capable of doing either.”
The house passed the legislation with a huge majority in favor. I’d like to know which representatives voted against this bill. If the professors want free speech, like they reference in their opposition, then let those students decide for themselves. Isn’t it a violation of the first amendment to deny a student possibilities? Down with Yale!!