Sunday, December 31, 2006
So the movie comes out yesterday and living in a fairly large city, just about everything shows here… that is except for Pan’s Labyrinth. Guess there’s a limited release on the 29th of December and another one on January 12th. With 68 out of 69 positive reviews, would have thought they could have done better then the very limited release that they have had so far.
Anyhow, check out the clip, interesting stuff.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Of course you know how I am with new mediums, here’s the video and here are the pictures.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Anyway Ultrastar Theaters offered to the military and their dependents a free movie on Christmas Eve and….. us and another couple picked Charlotte’s Web of all things to see. I loved the movie and book when I was a kid (my wife had never seen it) and I blame it sometimes for the total lack of fear I have of spiders. The movie was just as I thought it would be, I had to wipe tears out of my eye and left with a smile on my face.
Then the ham jokes started, “Are we eating Some Pig?” or was it “Humble?” Sigh.
Even with the jokes, dinner was great, “Humble” was tasty and the fried turkey was done just right. Merry Christmas everyone and here is my first real Vlog entry (excuse the mess, just got done with dinner)
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I've also uploaded more videos on my YouTube account Merry Christmas everyone, I got to get crack-a-lackaling on cleaning!
Still unpacking boxes into our new place, Christmas tree was the first thing to go up and internet put in. There are many many books that are looking for homes, eventually they will be up in order along with most everything else.
From my family to yours I wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
us and Gatsby
Monday, December 18, 2006
Moving into our new place and still unloading boxes, I didn’t realize that I had 10 thousand pounds of stuff. Books, tool box, fridge and washer and dryer do add up, sheesh, I need to trade some books in.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The best thing about moving into the new civilian managed housing in San Diego from a rental? They move you! Yes, they will pay you to move yourself but I’ve got to the stage in life where I’ve gathered too much crap and am getting to old to be lifting all that I own under my own muscle power.
I still am helping my roommate move but he doesn’t own a couple thousand books, a huge tool box nor some of the other heavy furniture that I’ve picked up over the years. We have and we do have group of Marines lending a hand too.
No great travel plans for this Christmas holiday, after 3000 miles in November, this month our only plans are setting up the new house and having family come and visit us instead of us visiting them.
Merry Christmas everybody and from my family to yours, we wish you all a joyful holiday.
Watch it on Spike TV right now.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The next morning I woke up with a checkerboard shaved on one side of my head and video tape of the entire night. It’s always good for the self esteem to check into a new command with a freshly shaved head.
Great night other then the loss of my hair, another good thing that came out of that night was this video. It’s likely something that you’ve never (belay that, some other people have posted something like it on You Tube) have rarely seen. At least my buddy kept down his lunch.
What can you do with a drunken Sailor?
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Did you know that HM advancement rates were in the bottom 6 of all rates this last cycle?
Here is the gouge on why:The issue is the POM 08 EPA (Enlisted Program Authorization). Each new EPA has 5 Fys in it. That EPA was approved just before we did the advancement numbers. In the new EPA was a reduction of 840 HM billets.
(stay with me, this can get confusing). N-12 RDML LaFevre makes recommendations to ADM Harvey(CNP) on what EPA to Advance to. That determination is made based on the checkbook, Advancement opportunity and the health of the force. They try to find a way to advance as many as possible without breaking the rate and the bank. We provided input on impact, numbers etc to him via his staff. This cycle HM1s were advanced to the 09 EPA, incidentally, that was the year HM1s took the biggest cut (173).HM2s were advanced to 08 EPA and HM3s to the 07 EPA.
Now, we advanced 50 to HM1, that's a 2% rate. The real need was 24 but we were able to get 2%, what we call a mercy quota. I am not a big fan of that because eventually that bill will come due.
Here's the bad news, we still have MRR and top 6 roll down coming.
The numbers may not be any better this spring. We will have to wait and see, it is much to early to tell at this point.
Clear as mud?
Thanks HMCS Collier
What does that mean for me? No matter how hard I studied, it was very unlikely that I would have been advanced.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
End the end, there are broken bodies, strangers from around the world who are brought together and finally a young woman’s chance at happiness.
Just go and read. This is the story that should be on more front pages.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Stats, he’s a ear and a half old, right at 25 pounds, looks like the dragon from the movie the never ending story, likes to kiss and hug and the only sounds I’ve heard so far is a light snoring and panting, not a bark.
Took him for a walk tonight around the block to look at the Christmas decorations with one of those 30 foot wind up leashes. Now I know what they mean by keeping a dog in a short leash, some guy down the street is going to be pissed when he comes outside in the morning. Gatsby’s leash caused a swath of destruction across a nicely set up yard full of Christmas stuff (this is where I found out that he’s also a good smooth running partner), this is a dog after my own heart, welcome to the family Gatsby!
Pictures of our day can be found here (no, none of that yard).
Saturday, December 02, 2006
On the other hand, Red2Alpha is the real deal, his writing is magic and produces images in your brain that don’t fall out. With the guys I’ve deployed with, their biggest fear wasn’t of being blown up or shot but of returning to their lives in ruin. Here is R2A’s post on that. Thanksgiving home with his grand parents where he is now part the group of family vets and he finds that there was a price to being in that group and his grandfather finally tells about the bad parts about returning. Here is a post that shows that there are regular people out there who support us.
Six posts since he's been back and not a single wasted word, GO! NOW!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Other news, we're getting ready to move into our new house and soon thereafter become the parents of a new dog.
Below is a picture of me, my wife and son at the Winchester House (damn he's getting big)
Check them out, I think the site has some good potential.
Plus check out their plans on refurbishing our carrier fleet!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Back in the day, I was known for being somewhat of a party animal but it’s been a while since that version of me has reared its head. Yes we have had parties at my house but in reality, its been very rare to see me drink more then 3 drinks in one sitting. I’m getting old and slow and my body doesn’t recover like it used to.
Friday night was another story. Two of my oldest friends Larry and Justin and a small collection of people who we haven’t seen in years took over the bar. Had a great night and caught up with ages of lost time and the next morning, there were a bunch of pictures on the digital camera and a deadly serious hangover that made me feel at like one of those zombies from Dawn of the Dead.
Whew, what a night, thanks for coming, those who did.
Update: Pictures that cover the entire trip are here!!!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
The pieces are sharp biting and whatever their view are, honest. Ernesto’s piece is called Untold Stories of Kindness. His writing goes to show you that there is such things as an atheist in a fox hole and contrary to stereotypes, enlisted men can be intelligent and observant and maybe the path to peace isn’t a battle to be won by the government but by a change in vision of the people.
Great essay Ernesto and I'm proud to be in the same line of work as you.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
My original post about this was called "When stress comes calling" I just couldn't edit the video in country because it was filmed in a Quicktime format. Enjoy!!
A little back story behind me and bugs, back in 6th grade I got the tar beat out of me by two girls named Dian and Lynn for throwing beetles on them. Needless to say, I didn't learn my lesson, that camel spider at the end eating the lizard was Tito who is gracing my bar encased in fiberglass. Poor poor Tito, you can read his story here. No camel spiders were hurt in the making of the video (the one I threw had been squished and left for dead by one of my pilots outside my door)
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Republicans win both houses 61% 3,850
Republicans win one, Democrats the other 34% 2,145
Democrats win both houses 6% 349
6,344 votes total
It gives you sort of a demographic about his readers, I don't think he agreed with them though, I was just reading the signs. Lots of small issues over the last few weeks, months and years adding up.
Monday, November 06, 2006
One way to always ensure quick service in a crowded full of people is to have a loud barking cough, have your eyes roll up in your head while doing it and turn blue at the same time and not being able to communicate a word. She beat all of my personal records for getting quick service to my Marines. A very nice staff (thank you Naval Medical Center San Diego) brought her to a bed and had an IV into her arm in minutes. After pressing some IV steroids and antibiotics into her vein and an inhalation treatment she was able to whisper, whew. During all of this, they did a CT and X-ray of her throat and chest and drew a bunch of other labs. Finally the friendly resident came by and let us know she had whooping Cough.
Whooping Cough? That’s still around?
Guess so, there’s been an 11 fold increase in whooping cause cases in adults in recent years and if you google any news search engine you’ll find plenty of stories and sites dedicated to the subject. Figures it would have to hit us. Well she’s now hopped up on some high priced government sponsored drugs and we're buying stock in cough syrup.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
The only people who are heard are the extremists screaming with the loudest voice or the politicians who have been taken down because of some scandal. You want to take over the news? Be a cute blonde young innocent Caucasian girl and disappear for a while or be killed in a mysterious way. This doesn’t say much about us as a nation.
As usual in life there is not a good answer.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Anyway, he’s going to be blogging about his trip like Anousheh Ansari did. Charles is a big computer nerd and probably googles his name to see what people are saying about him.
If you're reading this Charles, good luck with the training and the flight!
Veteran's Tribute - Nov. 1 - 23 Knott's annual tribute to our Military, past and present. FREE admission for Veterans or current serving military personnel and one guest with proper I.D. presented at turnstile. Plus purchase up to six additional tickets for just $10.95 each! Ends November 23, 2006
And tell them thanks for the support while you're there.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain NewsThe night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that's what he would have wanted."
Go read the rest of Final Salute.
(hat tip Bianca)
Meanwhile the Navy and Air Force are getting smaller and smaller chunks of that financial pie because we’re not on the front lines and all of our gear isn't being revamped. And since the Navy isn’t at the tip of that proverbial spear, do you know who’s suffering the most?
While the Army medics who are doing basically the same job as we do are getting huge bonuses, us corpsman aren’t getting squat (at least the Fleet Marine Force corpsman), even the Marines we go with getting good bonuses. On paper our numbers look good, in some cases we’re above what’s required but there doesn’t seem to be a change in actual numbers from no to the numbers used before the war. In reality we’re sending close to one in a half times the medical people forward per unit then they get in peace time. Where are these extra people coming from? We’re borrowing people from the hospitals and the non deployed units to fill in those deployed holes and leaving their coworkers to take up the slack. Which tasks us as individuals to be deployed forward more then the people we actually cover.
This sticks out more when you get a large group of sailors an Marines in the same room in the post deployment briefs. When the chaplain asked who had been over 3 times or more, most of the medical people raised their hands with a handful of Marines in a group of 200 or so. The Corpsman who replaced me? It’s his forth time.
Of course you could say, “Hey, why don’t you cross over and go green?”
That’s not the answer either; I’ve hung out with some of those Striker guys who have been extended. They’re not happy campers, there’s a reason why they’re getting the huge bonuses and there are some things that money can’t buy, that is if you’re smart.
What I’m saying is that there is something broke in the system that I’m working for. Navy Medicine is goes everywhere the Marines go and we’re going forward and getting shot up as much as our brothers. We’re doing a extra large workload with fewer bodies. Our piece time numbers are being used for a wartime mission and we’re hurting. When we come back to the states, we’re working harder then ever, there’s more training taskers and we’re losing corpsman who only have a few years to retire because they can’t handle the high Op tempo and having such a high work load. I’m not one of them because I actually like my job (most of the time) but I see the signs all around me. Work isn't fun anymore.
The medical department is scarred and I think there are going to have to make some huge changes before we’re back in shape.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Taking some leave after the Marine Corps Ball and heading back home to Arizona to let the family know that I’m alive and none the worse for wear following my Iraqi adventure. Ahh, it’s good to be home. Sorry about the boring posts but I’m enjoying life and haven’t had much time to write about it.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
For the sixth time in my life, I am Kuwaiting, it's sort of like the Purgatory you go through before going back into real life. Just about every time I come to Kuwait, it seems like I'm going to a new base and they say the base I was at last time was closed down. This new base as usual, is just another plot of sand in the middle of vast desert. I'm not sure there is a rhyme or reason for picking most of these places or if there is, I don't know about it. I'm mildly unhappy about the endless trek across the sand just to get food at the chow hall, you couldn't go further away on this base then we are. It doesn't matter what the name of the base is but it always seems Marines always get the worst piece of real estate. Each meal is a debate on whether or not I'm feeling hungry enough to search for substance.
On the bright side, we're doing customs here in Kuwait instead of Iraq so we don't have to pack our shower gear in our carry-on (mine is full of computer gear and meds). So when I do get on the plane, I'll be somewhat fresh. And I'm glad we're allowed toiletries on the plane ride back too. At least I can brush my teeth.
In reality, these are just observations, do I really care? Not really. I'm going home to be with my wife! And to sleep in my own bed and back to the land of wireless internet! You don't know how much you're missing till it's all taken away from you. I'm thankful for each day I get to spend in the states.
And as for being sent to a war, I didn't have it bad at all, my weapon was never discharged, never had a set of crosshairs pointed at me and all of my people made it back with all of their fingers and toes. Our chow hall was vastly improved the dismay of my belt, 6 flavors of ice cream! I'm going to miss the free ice cream, that was an unexpected surprise, kudos to whoever decided ice cream would chase away some of our homesickness. I'm going to miss the extra pay but you can't really put a value on the missed birthdays, holidays and worry you have about being away from your family. And believe me, I know I had it good, I've talked to many of the Striker guys who got extended, talk about a bunch of unhappy campers. I've talked to people who's whole life is doing patrols and convoys, that fear of getting blown up daily builds up like lead poisoning. Every body has their limit on how much they can hold and I'm sure the images and actions that they've experienced are going to carry over to their return.
I've been blessed with a loving wife who wrote me an actual letter each day, who has never been too tired to answer the phone and was always sending surprising care packages filled with stuff that I'm sure no one else out here ever received. Grass jelly drinks, odd things from different import stores that she had seen me pick up, interesting food or drink that she discovered while I was gone. I couldn't have picked a better life partner, how many wives out there think correspondence is romantic or enjoy as many strange foods as I do? Not too many husbands say that they never want to be away from their wives but I do. You can't buy the support and love that she has given me. Thanks hun.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
"sailors deployed in iraq not calling home" I'm somehow number one, yet I call home every day.
"soldiers cheating while deployed to iraq" I'm also number one yet if you know me, I worship the ground my bride walks on.
I'm number 15 for "spider video", ok, I can see that.
"Navy Iraq" I'm number 7, wow, do you know how many Sailor's are out here? Lots.
"navy corpsman" I'm also number 7
"iraq corpsman" I'm number 5
Okay, how in the hell did I become number 10 for "asshole cleaning slave"?!?!
Sheesh! Anyhow, my time in this wasteland is almost done, looking foward to returning to the land where there are other colors besides brown and seeing the color riot of my brides hair. Being able to take a regular bath and drink a beer at the same time. Eat pizza that actually tastes good and not having to put on a stitch of clothing. If you don't see me for a while, it's because I'm busy doing other very important things. Thanks for reading!
Friday, October 13, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
You continue to utter the exact words my soul desires.
I crave more, I want more!
Some instances I feel remorse. I feel more than regret.
The distance frustrates me.
I must stay focused, I tell myself.
I worry, can you handle it?
A temporary leash applied at will.
A letter size paper, 4 bold digits above.
Your voice, secluded to a telephone "hello", "hey baby".
With your every reply I fall.
The dreaded words "time is up" sounds in the back ground.
Once again my soul plummets.
A thought crosses my mind.
Something of yours.
Something to hold me over.
The arrival of dispatch, leads to an emotional frenzy.
The enclosure formal, yet so personal.
I notice the color in the characters.
I place you in an atmosphere.
As I read they hit me, one after the other.
The words, I play them throughout my head.
As I read I distinguish your tone. Your every pause.
A smile struggles through my face.
Once again my soul plummets.
A notification alerts me.
You're awake. I scurry to get the keys in order.
My fingers trying to out do each other.
Finally a period and the send button on a screen.
Another notification and my posture changes.
Anxiety overtakes me.
I begin to forget. So many things I would like to say.
An "I miss you baby", comes out and I thank my fingers.
"The forms and ways we can communicate will hold me over.
With tiny messages you bring color to my day.
A message from you, my dear, will always mean so much more.
I will call tonight".
Friday, October 06, 2006
I started my blog back in January of 2004 days before I left on my first trip to Iraq, I was in a different relationship and different unit. I remember those first days in Kuwait thinking to myself, what in the world have I got myself into? Almost everybody going forward from Kuwait had no clue, good or bad what the next 6 months to a year would hold for them or even if they would make it back. My old SgtMaj said "Look at those Marines around you, some of them aren't going to make it back", I for one, am glad to see that he was proven wrong.
Arriving at the same airbase that I am now, we received the welcome aboard brief where a SSgt told us, "We never get attacked her, we wear soft covers and no body armor". Half an hour later we had one of the largest mortar attacks this base had ever seen seen and luckily only one person was killed and ironically, the guy who died was probably one of the only people on base wearing body armor because he was about to get into a tactical vehicle. The hole in the road next to PX is a grim reminder to those who remember that night, no matter what anyone says, not to let our guard down and if your number is up, not much you're going to be able to do about it (that's my job).
It's been 2 years, 8 months and some change and Doc in the Box is about to float over that elusive quarter million mark. That number might be pocket change to fellow bloggers like Lt Smash and Blackfive but it's a nice rounded number for me. Blogging from the front lines isn't quite as cutting edge as it was when I first got started, there's literally hundreds of Milbloggers who have been forward not to count thousands of people with myspace. And in reality? My story has never been that exciting, just the story of an average midlevel Navy Corpsman's journey a dry foreign land, far from his loved ones, taking life one day at a time so he can make it back home in one piece. I just never stopped writing the blog, over the years I've remained fairly consistent while many of my fellow Milbloggers stopped for one reason or another.
Don't expect too much excitement from my corner though, I'm slow and steady, for me to pull out my weapon and exchange fire with the bad guys would mean something was going really really wrong. That's too exciting for my old bones! If you're here chasing after war stories, there are plenty of Milbloggers out on the other side of the wife, kicking down doors, going on convoys and cruising the mean streets of Baghdad so many that I probably haven't read half of their stories. Like me, they're out there doing their jobs, I just lucked out picking a somewhat safer one, well on this trip at least.
I'm proud to have given you, my readers, a glimpse into the world seen though my eyes over the last couple years, probably somewhat different from yours but not totally alien either. I'm as human, a flawed as the next guy, my politics are delightfully murky and I do have a diabolical sense of humor. I hold high standards of honor and trust, I don't cheat, lie or steal (not withstanding yesterdays blog post, everyone involved came out ahead, my son got his games, my friends were taken care of, AAFEES got ride of their stock that they must have been desperate to get rid of and my Marines got a product that wasn't available here at a sharply discounted price and I got my Game Cube with few games, can't fault me for using my brain!)
For reader's both old and new, thank you joining me so far on this journey and thank god, this trip out here is almost done.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
With Ramadan going on, most of the fun trips off base have been canceled and there are hordes of upset troops but not I. I was perfectly happy staying on base, I would have liked the deep sea fishing trip but alas, I'll have to wait till some later date back in the states. Instead I went on an orgy of surfing the internet and phone calls home. I went around MySpace posting messages strange messages on everybody in my friends list, don't want them to think that they're long lost friend Sean had went to the other side of the earth and fallen off. Also updated many of my blog links (whew, lots of dead links), downloaded all of the patches for the laptop and responded to mails from all over. Being the nerd that I am, I was totally satisfied with that. Did also use the driving range, play a couple rounds of miniature golf, played Unreal Tournament, ate at the excellent chow hall, played deathmatch Halo on an X-box 360 (very nice on big screen) and in my journeys around base, I discovered the best deal going in the Middle East.
The base PX was having a sale on X-box, PS2 and Game Cube games. Outside they had this sign hanging that said 75 percent off video games, which would be about 10 bucks er game but I got in there and 75% of the games were priced at 4.99 which is actually 87.5% off, a big difference and no one was even browsing though them! Huh, what were people thinking, this must be an Army base. Almost all of the Game Cube and PS2 games were going for that price and a half of the X-box games, the other sale games were going for 7.99 to 15.99. Dance Dance Revolution (of which I have no urge in getting for myself), normally 60 bucks was going or 15 (on of my Filipino coworkers raves about it, I think it's a Filipino thing because my nieces and nephews who are Filipino live for the game), I also got some Eye Toy games between 7 to 14 bucks including the Eye Toy. My son who rarely reads this blog is going to get a big surprise in a week or so, wish I were around to catch his expression on film when he opens that box. 4.99 is a cheap price to pay for a bit of happiness and his box has been safely mailed off along with similar care packages to some of my other video game playing friends back in the states, most of my Christmas shopping is done!
Being of the Dustman clan and member of the sometimes shifty eyed Corpsman group, I know a good deal when I see it. My sea bag which was mostly empty when I arrived is now full to stretching and I now own one of the largest personal collections of video games in Iraq and I don't even own a system! My base sells out of these titles fairly quickly and what I did pick up is barely a dent compared to what they sell. But my guys have been looking for this stuff and I've always believed you need to take care of your shipmates. The only profit I'm in for is to break even (and maybe purchase a game system (Game Cube, 99 bucks low end system, sorry Barb, don't want to be greedy) to use with the excess games).
Monday, October 02, 2006
Listening to him cry made me think about my self and evaluate how I was handing being out here. So I did a mental defrag on my personal processor and all I came up with is not too bad, I’ve had a sad night or two but that’s is, while I do miss my wife like mad but I am far from a basket case. I know what loneliness is like having spent years of my life in that state and I know I’m not feeling that emotion right now. I know with out a single doubt in my head my wife is right there, we communicate daily and the only why we could improve our communication is to develop telepathy.
Being the geeky boy that I am, I have developed natural loneliness coping skills. I’m not the guy who’s going to go crazy in solitary if anything I prefer the solitude to crowds but can live with either. I do like people and I like seeing friends but I have to work at being a social animal because it’s not my natural environment. You see people like me all the time, they sit in the corner of the cafeteria and read books while eating, we’re a little apart from everybody else, we’re not the popular kids and got picked on for being nerdy. Most of us are unhappy and would have given anything to be popular, as I got old I realized that popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. These days, the only people that I care about being popular with are the ones in my life. I’m a grown up happy geek and no one picks on me these days.
In my bride, I’ve really found a perfect kindred spirit, a fellow geek and loner, she anchors me down to earth and is the rock that keeps the turbulence of like from washing me away. Without her, that crying guy could have been me, if I had married someone who didn’t understand me from the inside, just the presence of someone like my wife has given me a shield that protects me from much of the negative emotions that come with deploying. I’m an easy going guy and there were many times in my life where it would have been easy to settle with someone else and I could have made it work. The problem is I was lonely during all of those relationships, there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t ask myself, is there more then this? Most people do that and learn to live with their mate, me? I’ve been lucky and was born to live with mine, she’s my matching odd duck, the other pea in my pod who looks at the world through the same tint in her rose colore glasses, I was lonely all of my life before I met her and she chased that lonely feeling away and I haven’t felt it since. I couldn’t have imagined a girl like her and I have a fairly fertile imagination. Thanks hun for marrying me and keeping me from being lonely and sad the rest of my life.
Some other milbloggers are talking about phone calls home too, there's no way around it, it's tough being away from home for a year.
Spouse Buzz, I love you too
Jack Army "What will we do with out you?"
Sgt Hook, The Other Man
Saturday, September 30, 2006
(my dad sent this to me of all people)
I went to a bar and had a beer and today, I’m blogging from my own laptop! Why would this be?
No I’m not at home yet but that date isn’t too far off. I’m on R&R for the next couple of days! 3 beer limit per night, there’s a nice pool here, Chili’s and a lot of military people wearing civilian clothes acting like they didn’t just come from a war zone. Actually I think this place would be a better stopping off point then Kuwait. Get us used to civilian life a bit (I’m not going to have a problem except for missing the sawing log sounds of my roommates).
It’s strange not to feel the comforting weight of my 9 on my hip and wearing shorts and a tee shirt makes me feel awfully naked. What can I say about this place, there’s a huge beautiful gym that looks underused, you can plug in your laptop at the internet café unlike my regular base, they serve beer, the chow is good, there's a nice pool with girls in bikini's (not looking, just noting that for you single guys). Haven’t taken any trips out in town yet, just winding down after the stress of being in Iraq.
Not that I was under a huge amount of stress other then having to look at the same places and people, that can even catch up to the calmest guy. Here I don’t have to see anyone I don’t want to for 4 days!
My recommendations if you’re coming here? Don’t try walking anyplace using the map given, what looks like 2 streets over is actually a couple of miles (we missed breakfast were almost into lunch by the time we got there, they almost found a pile of bones, maps far from being to scale) there’s a bus running around base, use that. Heading off to war anther 2 items to add to your seabag, make sure you bring some long shirts and pants to go out into town on R&R, so you don’t get stuck buying cheesy clothes here that you’ll never wear again (not a good selection at the PX). Gamers will have a blast, there’s an internet café set up just for that. Moral phones are free and plentiful, call home a lot. You need a pass to take pictures, make sure you get one, they’ll tell you how in the brief, it’s easy. Wear sunscreen, it’s super bright and hot outside.
After 3 trips to the Box, it sure is nice to get some R&R right before I go home, so far having a good time but it doesn’t replace being in my wife’s arms. Take care everyone and thanks for reading.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
It's a new season of Battlestar Galactica! I'm not a fan of unintelligent TV. Shows that make it to primetime should have well developed plots, smart characters and a storyline that sweeps you away. Battlestar does a pretty good job at covering all of those points and at the same time the science works logically and is well thought out. The show comes with its own world view and mythology which is rich and believable. The characters are complex and multi-dimensional with many shades of gray, one days hero could be tomorrows alcoholic.
The underlying theme that goes beyond the SciFi plot is that no matter how advanced we get we're still human and the humanity in this show shines. Don't mistake shining to being moral or good, all of the bad stuff is in there too, it's dark, tough and gritty. Even the good guys aren't that good. Battlestar doesn't dull the edges, it challenges your views, logical arguments make you angry and opposing views are reasonable and well thought out, they make you believe both sides of whatever the characters are arguing. It's like they have a writer for each character, there's a morals behind the character are their morals alone, somewhat like like real life. If you are going to create your own universe, do a good job and make it as seamless as possible, they've done a great job. I'm greatly cheered that it's being aired by the SciFi network and not Fox because it probably wouldn't have made it past the first season.
If you've read my blog long enough, you'll remember what my wife and I say about Fox, "Where good television goes to die".
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
Not that terrorists don't deserve to be drawn and quartered but as Americans, we can't afford to give up the higher ground. Every time we press the standards of the Geneva Conventions or stretch the rules of how we can treat prisoners, we lose more of the moral high ground to tell someone else, "Hey, what you are doing is wrong!"
The back of the card states this
________is a Marine.
1 Obey the Law
2 Lead by Example
3 Respect Themselves and Others
4 Maintain a High Standard of Integrity
5 Support and Defend the Constitution
6 Uphold Special Trust and Confidence
7 Place Faith and Honor Above all Else
8 Honor Fellow Marines, The Corps, Country and Family
Not one place on that card gives them leeway to do something that they might consider morally wrong. It takes a special type of person to become a Marine, it's no walk in the park, these are regular flawed human beings who are trying to live up to a perfect example, by choice. Most people join the Marines for a reason, they're trying to live up to some higher standard or principle that they've seen portrayed. I've noticed that people who join and can't live up to those standards don't last long or longer then one enlistment.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Yes, even I am a myspace user, I've noticed it as more of an enlisted phenomenon then an officer one, while almost all of our junior enlisted guys use it, I only know of 2 of our officers and they are fairly infrequent about it, one is described as a single computer geek and other officers think of him an aberration. Walk around the internet café on any given day (or night) and you'll find 3 out of 4 computer screens showing a Myspace page open. Ask the average 20 year old Marine what a blog is and they will say it's that button on Myspace (that most of them don't use), I only have a one of my Marines listed as a friend, most of them don't know I have a myspace (but for some reason everybody in my unit seems to know I have a blog, my guys know what a blog is!) These kids aren't there to journal their lives or even tell a story, this is just a platform to network themselves out, meet girls and such (I already have a very lovely girl). Gives them an outlet to touch someone outside of the wasteland that they are in. I use mine a tool to keep in touch with friends from back in the day, school buddies, friends I've been stationed with and a few crossover ex regular bloggers who continue to blog but are doing it exclusively on myspace. It's strange to think regular blogging has become a place where the elder generation is hanging out, I am getting old!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
After 3 trips out here and you start to notice trends, what works and the people who make a difference. There's always someone who goes beyond what is expected of them, doing things that aren't asked has that shining moment when they're so pissed or some subject urks them so much that they have to fix it. I had my moment when I put all of the books in order.
There's another guy in our squadron who worked construction for the decade prior to joining the Marines in his late 30's on a age waiver. He came out here and witnessed the shoddy construction that his fellow Marines hand done, primitive benches, shelves that weren't level and lean to's covering smoking areas. I've seen better tree house construction in some cases. Hidden behind his mild mannered bifocals, Sgt Elka started building a deep resentment for all of the crap that these amateurs had built and were displaying proudly.
My own little pet peeve was the crappy bookshelves that were up. People who lived in shanties would have made better bookshelves then the ones we were using. So one of our first projects to make some new book shelves and I would put everything in order. (one of our officers was also getting miffed by all of the books lying around and was requesting marshmallows in care packages for the book burning so we had to work quickly). So bookshelves were made and installed along the halls outside of medical (so I would have to go far to keep everything in order).
Sgt Elka started on making these octagon picnic tables and putting park benches all over. As usual no good deed goes unpunished and the command started putting in requests too. Soon we had a phone booth built with it's own AC unit, CO's from other units would come by and start talking about wanting such things at their units (and egad! having their books put in order!! Glad I'm going home soon, have you ever had to go through a couple thousand books that have been through a couple of years worth of dust storms? Very messy!)
It's not the people who do well on their day jobs who make the mark that everyone remembers, it's those cranky old men who get pissed off by the status quo and do something about it. I know those book shelves and picnic tables will be around for a long time after we're gone.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I was living in Paulden a very small town 30 miles north of Prescott Arizona on a 5 acre plot with 4 goats, 3 dogs, a garden and a pile of ducks and chickens. On that particular morning like others, I had woken up before the sunrise, grabbed a shower and was off to work. I turned on the radio which was tuned to NPR and had to turn down the volume because people were screaming into the mic, I immediately knew that something was wrong. The normally calm and collected voices of the show Morning Edition were in the state of panic. Reports were so fragmented so I scanned some of the AM talk radio stations to see what they were saying and there was a bunch of "oh my god's" and people crying, even worse then it was over at NPR.
I turned it back to NPR where they were talking about someone flying a plane into the side of the world trade center. I listened with a growing sense of dread, tears welling up in my eyes. I didn't have any friends that I knew of who were there but I started calling the important people in my life anyways. There was no rhyme or reason for what I was doing, I knew I was waking some of them but some part of me needed to hear their voices. I needed touch stones to ground me out.
As the day went on the news got worse and worse, I got to work and there were people jumping from buildings on live TV, huge balls of fame, pictures of taped to walls, gray dust coating everything. It was pure pandemonium. Why would someone do something like this? What kind of sick-o would kill that many people? There must be a reason.
All across the nation in that moment we all fell into a psychosis, unlike Pearl Harbor, we were watching events unfold live on TV. Hundreds of millions of people all around the globe couldn't turn their eyes away from the news, I know friends who didn't work or sleep for days, just watched the news hoping for a tidbit of new information. Some secret bit of information to answer the question of why. In some ways I was one of them, but I went to work and slept but all of my waking hours were filled with news stories from that front line. Visions of exploding and burning buildings were engraved on my retinas when I wasn't watching TV, I had NPR playing on my old tape player. For the sheer chaos they were doing a pretty good job, they had a local New York affiliate reporter rollerblading around and reporting by cell phone. I knew no good was going to come of this. At that moment, all I wanted the people who caused this to pay.
I was going through a time in my life were I was abstaining from TV. There was no TV at my house so I did the next best thing and went over to my best friend Larry's house where he was sitting there watching the news. I grabbed a beer out of the fridge and joined him where we didn't move till late at night, we didn't want to miss any thing. We were in a state of shock like everyone else. This can't be happening, it was like a scene out of Independence Day.
I had to talk Larry out of jumping into his car and driving off to give a hand. He had two kids and many responsibilities to take care off. Not to mention there were countless thousands who were thinking the same thing and we were on the other side of the nation. I wonder how many of those people lost everything by jumping off in their cars and going to help? I'm sure there are a few of them.
If I lived closer, I would have done it but the car I was driving at the time wouldn't have made it, who would have paid my child support or my rent? Every mistake in my life has been made on a spur of the moment decision and at that moment I wished I were back in the Navy, maybe I could have been someplace where I could have done something.
A week went by and most of us were still in shock, our business was suffering too. We specialized in hot rods and 4 X 4's, one week we were doing 500 or so hours and the next we were under a hundred hour a week. Prescott has a bunch of retired folk living there who survive off of the stock market and were loosing their shirts. I wouldn't have done business with us either. I could see in my boss's eyes that he was hurting financially and I could imagine what was going to happen next, tightening the belt and laying off. So I came up to him and said, don't worry about laying me off, I can go back into the Navy.
So a couple of weeks later, I was pulling into the gates at 32 nd street in San Diego. Guards everywhere and every other vehicles getting searched, they didn't even want you bringing a knife on base. I think they got tired of searching my suburban which held a mechanics set worth of tools, maybe 300 books and all of my clothes, all stuffed in there to the top. I had a lawn chair in back that I would pull out and a book to read when they did, usually took them 45 minutes to an hour but I never complained, it would take a 6 man team to search it in that amount of time but I really didn't have anything to hide.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I've been cranky all week and there really isn't a reason for it. Two great weights are off of my shoulders, my advancement exam and the FMF Warfare board but I still feel like there's weight on me. Earthquake weather? I feel an anticipation that something is about to happen or I could be just going stir crazy from being away from my lovely bride so long which sounds reasonable too.
Case in point, I chewed out a poor Corporal this morning about breaking my coffee pot and not wanted to help with getting a new one and it ended up being me lecturing him on ethics. I've always taught the people working for me, if you break it, it's your responsibility to fix it or if it's beyond your means help get it fixed. At least make an effort unless it is an absolute accident or act of god. This strikes the same chord in my brain that stealing does, stealing is bad and disrespectful. What separates the humans from the savages is the respect for each other. Everything starts off with respect and respect for each others property, you treat people how you expect to be treated and work your way up from there. Respect starts out at a relationship between two people and it expands out to your family, friends, school mates, coworkers, groups and when you get far enough up the pole, nations.
Wars start when one group of people lose their respect for another. 9/11? It was a small bunch of savages who had no respect for the property of US citizens. With the actions of that day and not taking responsibility for their actions, a relative handful of people have caused a chain reaction which has caused countless deaths all around the globe and used their fellow Muslim brothers take the weight of the actions of a few. Some people are saying that we have over reacted, I think we should have waited and hunted till we had the names of all of the people involved and found out where they lived back where ever they came from and grew up had their training and dropped a daisy cutter (a really cheap big bomb) on each of those places at the same time. Sure a couple of thousand people would have died but it's better then the tens of thousands since and would have made them responsibility for their actions and the next group who thought about doing it would have had second thoughts.
Back to the coffee pot, these relationships start between two people showing respect for each other and each others property. Values need to be installed in individuals, we can't expect the nations to act with respect if the individuals do not have any values. While I know I'm fairly laid back about most things, you could even call me a slacker and it wouldn't be a lie but moral integrity is something I'm no slouch on. I don't lie, cheat nor steal and I don't let my son nor the people around me do it either.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Last year Matt from the milblog Blackfive sent out a mass email to all of his fellow Milbloggers asking who would be willing take part in an effort to a gathering of our best blog posts in a single book called The Blog of War (it just went on sale at Amazon where you can search the inside of the book, type my name in to find what I wrote). After gathering these posts up and spending some time weeding and editing with our approval he found a publisher in Simon & Schuster so now I and a who's who list of military bloggers can now be called published authors (yes we got paid!) Thanks Matt!
This is the first conflict that there are American troops on the ground putting their thoughts out to the world in real time. Which even I admit isn't always a good thing but we do a fairly doing good job policing each other and our own posts because we have seen what happens to the people who don't and it's not pretty.
For good or bad, we have helped change public perception about the troops as individuals. Instead of a hero who you might see a single story about then drops out of the lime light. Milblogger have an ongoing online journal where anyone who has an internet connection can interact with. There are no lines drawn or holds barred. Milblogs in turn have been patriotic, angry, sad, raw, despairing and joyous, this is the story about how we feel, we're not a news agency taking a look at the big picture. We're just the eyes of that one lone individual looking at a war in a very up close and personal manner and sharing it. A few of us have been lucky enough to turn their blogs into a financial gain and have published books based on their story. (not me, you wouldn't believe how uninteresting my life is 99 percent of the time of which I'm extremely happy for). When I first started, there was less then 30 milbloggers out there, now there's literally thousands, every other person out here has a myspace account and if one out of ten uses the blogging portion, that adds up to a lot of people telling their story
I think the review from Publishers Weekly on Amazon is ironic " Every writer supports America's war aims, admires the President, despises enemy fighters (generally referred to as terrorists) and holds a low opinion of Americans who oppose the war (generally referred to as liberals). " I do despise terrorists but some of my best friends are liberals but I also have lot's of conservative friends too. Just because you don't believe in killing someone doesn't make you my enemy, there is nothing at all wrong with wanting peace nor disliking our elected officials.
Considering my portion of the book took place a few weeks after 9/11 and was mostly me writing about going to an open mic poetry reading where my best friend Won said her goodbye to me in poetry in front of a large crowd of peaceful hippie types. She wrote about how I am no longer her "sensitive ponytail man" and have been "shorn into a beautiful Monk". The shorning part actually happened at my going away party (very wild night, I'm sure there's pictures floating around somewhere). The pony tail resides in a plastic bag to show people yes there was a version Sean 1.0 a couple of years ago and I was a long haired hippie.
We were as far from a pro-war crowd as you could get that night but her message still reached an audience so receptive that some burst into tears after she was done reading (which I've never seen happen before). Contrary to what you imagine as a stereotypical Milblogger, not all of us are conservatives nor Republican as the Publishers Weekly review implies. We're from all walks of life and individuals who dance to different tunes.
The book is a great cross section of what Milbloggers have to offer and I couldn't recommend it any more. I've already purchased a copy for our book shelf out here and for my parents, check it out!