Saturday, May 26, 2007
This morning, I was doing coverage for my Marines physical readiness test and started to get calls from different people in my command asking if I had seen my Chief yet। Um, no, is there something I need to know? No, he’ll tell you when he see’s you.
Hmm? I wonder what I did? Did someone read a post that they didn’t agree with? Did those evals I just wrote look like garbage? Was one of my guys in trouble? I got to the office and one of my junior guys was asked the same thing। Ahh, I logged on to my BUPERS online and checked my advancement status and found out that I had been selected for Petty Officer First Class. Yay!
My Chief was a little miffed not being able to put his production of yelling at us, trying to get us to confess whatever we did and scaring us to death then saying congrats, you guys are getting promoted. Sorry Chief, I would have would have gone along with the ruse and might have even had the lower lip quiver and a tear in my eye but I knew something was up when all of those guys called me. I’m sure our newly promoted HM3 would have put on a good show.
Our HN (E-3) guy had picked up Petty Officer Third Class। Then I got to thinking, all of the 1st Classes at my Flight Line Aid Station were leaving in the next few months and I might be the one taking over their jobs. Sheesh.
I admit, it’s a little scary being thrust into this leadership role because I really did not expect this promotion; when I found out, the surprise in my face was total। There was a 15 dental questions that I totally eni-meni-mini-mo’ed. I had spaced studying dental supply and those questions were at the beginning of the test and that sense of failure affected my feelings about the rest of the 170 odd questions I had to go. When every question counts, I was a little worried about even passing.
Luckily, my worries were unfounded, the test was worth 80 points, I got 66 of those points which is a very respectable score in any book and I beat the total cutting score by 6 points.
Now I just have to get used to being called HM1 Dustman and seeing if I can put all I’ve learned over the years into practice.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Two year old boy was placed in the hospital for seven weeks with such symptoms as kidney failure and the loss of most of his skin which has since grown back. He was taken to the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital where they said the boy was covered with “mounds of pox”. The story is here.
As someone who gives Smallpox vaccinations, when you see corpsman paranoid about giving any shot and they give you gloom and doom scenarios if don’t take proper care of it. There must be a reason. We normally give this shot out the day prior to shipping out and put a bandage on that doesn’t come off this the patient is well in country where they can be carefully monitored. We do this for liability, we screen the heck out of these guys, give them this questionnaire to fill out and even after they fill them out, we’re grilling them for possible problems, old people in their house hold? Or have young Children? If they answer yes, we usually get them in country.
Unlike the civilian doctor who will probably get sued, we would probably get busted down and sent to jail. Who wants that on their resume?
Even with all of the precautions, there are those who tend to tone everything we say out. Mark no on all of the questions and don’t follow the directions. The most recent? I’m writing about it because nothing ended up happening. One of our Marines got his shot, (which isn’t really a shot, it’s a prong shaped needle dipped in the vaccine and pricked in the skin 3 times like a tattoo) and immediately went home, took off the band aid, took a shower and rubbed lotion all over his body and didn’t even think about it till the next day and came by medical telling us what happened. He was shipping out that afternoon.
It could have been bad, I sent an email to his units medical, warning them about what happened. Our medical department took turns at chewing the Marine out which included slides, strong words and fear of gross maiming if he didn't wash his hands all of the time, don't touch his face and didn't keep the band aid on. We sent him over to see a doctor so the doctor could have his turn and let him go with more warnings about what to watch out for. His first episode of PTSD given to him by Navy Medicine. Even though nothing happened but that nothing could be because we made him paranoid, anyway. that's what I like to think.
Friday, May 18, 2007
When your name is slung around cyberspace as much as mine, it’s best to keep everything transparent. I have this re-occurring nightmare that goes like this.
My CO is in the middle of a brief with the commanding general and the general asks my commanding officer “Did you see your doc on CNN the other night?” and in return my CO gives him a baffled look.
I’m at a different squadron then the one I deployed with and normally my blogging wouldn’t gather any attention until we’re ready to deploy then I would let the powers that be know that I have a blog and have been well versed on OPSEC and I was hoping to tell my story when we were in Iraq like my prior trips. That idea got shot down as soon as I appeared on CNN (even though a link from Matt at Blackfive gives me more traffic then being on CNN). I rarely blog about my unit but being active duty, it means that I do belong to someone. It’s best to keep them informed then having them blindsided.
Really, I'm just a normal regular guy who happens to write about his life on a public forum. I’m also married to an extraordinary pretty pink haired girl and my job sometimes takes me to places that most people can only imagine. While you can read about what’s going on in the news or official military releases. What’s it like walking home in the dark in a foreign country by your self across the lonely desert? What does Memorial Day mean to a deployed guy? Or how a Marine might act if you drop a dead camel spider on their lap?
I like to write and love reading even more and want to share some of these experiences with people that are interested. (if you’re a terrorist, you’d have better luck reading tealeaves then getting any useful info out of this blog). After doing this for 3 years, getting a readership isn't the problem that new bloggers have. I'll occasionally spotlight the new talent or if I see a story that isn't being covered enough that's important to me, I'll definitely post it.
And if I think it’s really important and not being covered, I’ll call in the big dogs.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
One of the big stories going out around the net right now is that the DOD is blocking some social networking sites, the sites?
MySpace, Youtube, Live365, 1.fm, BlackPlanet, Hi5, Photobucket, Pandora, MTV, FileCabi, StupidVideos and Metacafe.
So what does this change for a blogger like me who’s been out to Iraq 3 times and uses 3 of the above services regularly?
I don’t know where these guys who are complaining forward are stationed at but out of my 3 tours, there was a maybe a month of time when we were able to get to these sites from work before it was cut off to our entire base. So we went to the internet café if we wanted to upload pictures and blog posts. I’ve always done it from the internet café, if you’re going to be someone who’s visible like me who blogs under his real name, you have to follow the rules. Another thing no one has mentioned, blogspot.com has been blocked from most of the work computer in Iraq, it’s not a bandwidth hog. That does bother me a bit because I use blogs almost as much as I use the regular news to get a pulse on the world. Know how much blog surfing you can get done in the 30 minute time slots at the internet café? Not much.
Know what happened for that month we could visit those websites? It slowed everything slowed to a crawl, pages wouldn’t load and there were people who wanted to get official work done and it took forever or the .mil sites would time out. So speaking as the geeky guy who loves MySpace, youtube and photobucket, it was a breath of fresh air when the IT guys blocked the heavy bandwidth sites. The internet was moving again and I could get some official work done.
For the guys forward, this rule came about after most of the local networks had blocked these sites anyway, it just puts all of the DOD under the same umbrella. I think it’s a good rule in the war zone unless band width improves but it is sort of silly to do it in the rear where bandwidth is cheap. An even better answer would be to improve the bandwidth, we’re putting enough money into the NMCI, with the amount of money we drop on those guys, we should be able to stream HDTV. Alas that is far from reality.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sgt Mark T. England of the US Army National Guard was a medic getting ready to deploy forward with his unit when the March 10th incident happened at the McCarren International Airport in Las Vagas. Mark was tased 3 times and beat with night clubs by 2 Las Vagas police officers the second video is shot it from a different angle and shows another police officer joking and making kicking motions with a TSA agent. When it was all done and over with Mark was left with bruses all over his body, 3 fractured ribs and questions. Two months later, still no charges were filed against him and he been unable to deploy due to his injuries. Cat fills the details pretty good enough but the videos speak for themselves.
I hope this doesn't happen to me when I go to Las Vegas!
This is about to show how many voices the blogsphere can bring up when we see an injustice being done. Some other people who are talking about this (I borrowed some of these from Cat and others from Technorati) and I've posted the links below.
Townhall just posted about it
You have to scroll down but Miss Beth's Victory Dance has a post up
Retired Senator and 2008 Presidential hopeful blogs about it here
A Soldier's Prespective has blogged about it here
Antimedia post here and cross posts at Old War Dogs
Bahbahgirls has a post titled Abuse of Power
The statements from the Englands can be read here at the Military.com forum
The Joker has a post here
Jon Kauffman posts about it on his MySpace Blog
You ask, what in the heck is a blook? It’s a blog that gets published into a book, Lulu is the usually the publisher of these with their print-on-demand service. The judges were surprised this year by how many of the winners were published by major labels.
(H/T Kat for blogging about it and reminding me to blog about it too)
So I downloaded the software hooked up the webcam and mic and a minute or so later we were talking by video conference. Voice quality was good and the picture came though clear. Wish we were allowed to use this in Iraq. Sigh, another place for me to go on the internet.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I filled these with cream cheese, boysenberry syrup and sprinkled powered suger on top. I ate them to fast to take a picture.
For making one serving of the mix I used half cup bisquick, a little under half cup of milk and one egg, made 4 crepes.
PS. Happy Mother's Day to all of my mom readers!
I wonder if they'll notice me linking their story?
(oh wait, this was 2006)
Saturday, May 12, 2007
This is my dog Gatsby chasing my nieces dog Cola
And Gwen Stefani making eye contact, waving and blowing a kiss at me
my wife didn't believe me when I told her so I made this to show her and share with the world.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Milbloggers fill the void that is left by the military reporting and the main stream media. With the gap between the military and the civilian world widening each year, the military seems to be it’s own little country separated by an ever growing gulf. Less then one person out of a hundred in our nation is serving and there isn't much of a voice for the military in average community. Some circles look at this war as a military only war, there's a great devide between the civilian and military worlds. Milblogging could be a bridge that closes that gap.
Milbloggers offer an uncensored, unedited look at the life of one individual. For us, this isn’t a job, we’re not paid by the government or the media, we’re writing because we enjoy it and want to share it with the people back home. And believe it or not, each one of us is well versed in OPSEC, we have to go through fairly rigorous annual training that frankly makes me a little paranoid each time I go through it and each year they update the training to current technology. I’m not going to go into the details but I assure you, it’s comprehensive. And for those who do violate OPSEC, well they should have thought before they pushed the publish button. Milblogging isn't for those who lack common sense.
Case in point look at my blog, I have not posted information other that I was at an air base in Iraq. I didn’t write about my unit other then in generals, there aren’t numbers or stats. Most of my stories center around human interaction, funny, food, books, projects I was working on, how we lived day to day. In reality? My life was pretty boring, as any body out there can tell you, when Doc is bored, everyone is happy (I never get bored). Even with 3 deployments, I don’t have many battle stories to tell, I’m a medic with helicopter transport squadron, my first trip flying CASEVAC there was definitely some close calls but my second two? I flew a desk. If there was a battle going on, something is definitely going wrong.
CNN quoted my blog in an October entry about a mortar attack, the actual mortar attack I was talking about happened in the spring of 2004. I rewrote an earlier entry that was originally posted on 31st of March 2004. There’s always a first time for everything that was my first taste of war. I wrote it right after it incident but I saved it till it would no longer make a difference if I told it or not. Yes there were people hurt, but I didn’t see that personally so I didn’t write about them.
Rules I would follow to stay out of trouble, Smash came out with two that should keep most people out of trouble.
1. Don't violate OPSEC. Never name your unit, be vague about your location and mission, and don't use anyone's real name. (too late for mine, it’s already all over the world)
2. Be careful what you say about your seniors. Don't write anything about a superior in your blog that you wouldn't want that person to read back to you
Another rule he had, “When you publish a post, write it like, one, your mother will read it, two, Osama Bin Laden will read it and three, your commander will read it.”
Think, could someone use this information to kill me or mine? If yes, don’t post it. If it’s going to get someone you work with in trouble, don’t post it. If you just got done with the battle of the century and want to get it down before you forget it, by all means write the story and sit on it and read it over and over, fix the typos. If you plan on post it online, do another edit covering OPSEC. If it looks like you’re not going to be able to tell the proper story with the editing then save it for a book or for posting after you get out of the military. There are too many stories out there that are left untold, if it’s important to you, write it down. A hot blog post is like money in the pocket but don’t spend it. If it’s something you think might cause waves, run it by the PAO. Believe it or not, they’re not monsters.
Remember, once you put it online, everything you write is can be googled.
This is what I add to the list above you want to survive at milblogging:
Don’t use blogging to jump the chain, if it’s something you need to report. Then go through the proper channels, blogs aren’t places to vent about your boss (at least in the military) or report abuse.
Don’t use someone’s name if they don’t want you too, if you do, it’s going to come back and bite you. If you post pictures of people, ask their permission.
Don’t write bad things about your boss or coworkers unless you have their permission (yes, I do have a few of those posts and did get their permission, they laughed after reading)
Don’t disclose confidential information or work related legal proceedings which includes future missions or standard operating procedures for battle (if you’re special ops, don’t give away your spook secrets)
Don’t take pictures of the fortifications or pictures of the base from the air.
Don’t use other peoples work without their permission or at least linking back to them saying that you stole, borrowed, hat tipped from them.
Don’t be the first one to report the death of anybody, if you want to write a eulogy, wait till the next of kin is notified and that is something that should be cleared by the chain.
Don’t be afraid to blog, there are thousands of people out there that want to know what the real story is on the ground and each of our stories is different in flavor and character.
Don’t let blogging be a job, blog because you want to.
Don't forget common sense.
(I'm a much better writer then screen personality)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
The second clip talks to the bloggers, including me (talking about my wife and what I've got out of milblogging), Holly Aho and Andi. The president is not in it though. Thanks Pentagon Channel!
Each day as technology changes, new mediums arise for a person to tell his or her story. With common access to the WWW, more and more voices have the ability to add their tale to the great global web. The story that milbloggers tell is a tiny one compared to the millions of blogs out there but look at how much affect the military has on the world?
We take up a huge percentage of our countries GNP and yet, the only thing the average civilian sees of us is provided by the news which lately is filled with some scandal or deaths. I’m not bashing the MSM, they have a story to sell and in the like the title of Megadeth’s album “Peace sells, but Who’s Buying”, they have a mindset of not being able to sell the peace. So where does Joe Public turn for a glimpse of the rest of the story? It’s the milblogger who is writing about the pauses and the card games and how the dust gets into everything. We’re selling those moments between the glam of shock and awe, scandals and dead people for the amazing price of nothing. We’re regular guys, don’t get sponsors for what we write nor does the military tell us what to write, we write because we like to, we like the connection it gives us to the people back home.
We heard from the spouses what milblogs meant to them, how it give them something to hold onto when their significant other was deployed on most days, we were the only stories coming from the front. From the support sites like Soldier’s Angels, Books for Soldiers and other support groups, they were able to get an instant grasp on how they could focus their efforts and see instant results. To the regular civilian, milblogs let them have a personal connection to someone on the ground, raw and unfiltered by editors.
Other repeating topics, the rift between the MSM and the milblogging community was brought up numerous times. From the milbloggers, the embeds and the MSM talked about how Marine PAO’s were cool and the Army PAO’s were very not (of course I knew that). How much help Valour-IT as been to the people who had lost use of their hands, Chuck Z tells of how he was helpless in the hospital and had once asked a Soldier’s Angel to pick his nose (and told a couple hundred people about it). He’s a technophile like me, feels more naked with out his laptop then without his pants suddenly both were gone. Then Valour-IT swept in and provided him with a voice activated laptop and suddenly he wasn’t a helpless gimp in the bed and had joined the human race again.
All of the strands that connected our little corner of cyberspace came together on May 5th from the top of the White House to down to the enlisted grunt in the ground and I think we all left with a greater understanding of how important citizen journalism can be.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Here's the list
Thanks Andi for putting it all together, here's her post
My other mom Carla does an excellent post
Dadmanly reminds us all of what we actually said, oh yeah, I did say that, great job!
American Soldier was there with his lovely bride and daughter, it's strange to think I've been talking to him for 3 years, good peeps, I don't know how I forgot him on this list.
Matt of Blackfive (I'm not worthy!) ran my panel and is one cool cat, he'll do good anywhere
Meeting Cat was great, she's always been a good friend.
Lorie Byrd of loriebyrd.com took some excellent notes through out the day, if you've missed out on the action, she can probably fill you in here.
Dog Snot of Incoherent Ramblings was there and does a good round up
Air Force Sister rounded everything up, another one of my buddies from cyberland (I seem to have a few of them)
Lex was one of the smartest guys in the house and folk flocked to him, the fighter pilot stories always draw a crowd. Good seeing him again.
And can't forget LL of Chromed Curses who has some excellent dirt on everything, you're the bomb!
My wife liked hanging out with CaliValleyGirl
Met the Half of the Spear and The Fast Squirrel at the Car Pool, milbloggers are quality drinking buddies from the get go.
Kathi my wonderful supporter from Soldiers Angels posts about it
Fuzzilicious has a couple of posts up, I'll be seeing you soon!
Lt Smash has not blogged about it but I just wanted to let you know, thanks for the ride and good luck with everything.
It was great seeing the lovely Tammi again
Talked and drank with Noah from the Wired Magizine's Danger Room who seemed to fit in well.
RSM of course has a few posts up, finally meeting him was was icing on the cake, he's a medical guy like me.
Nikki Schwab wrote about it at washingtonpost.comCheck out the Donovan's of Arrrggghh!! He offered up some laughs though the day.
Milblogs has the video from the Pentagon Channel
John Noonan from OpFor blogged live, what a great guy
My secret buddy Army Girl showed and posted about it.
Holly Aho is a huge name in the Soldiers Angels circles, it was an honor meeting her and the lovely daughter. She has a couple of posts up too.
Hook is as cool in person as he is in cyberspace
Chuck of TC Override hasn't done a big post but here's part of one of his speeches (taken with the camera I was awarded for the milbloggie!)
Murdoc is does a great post about the conference
So does Slab from OpFor
AWTM looks as cute as she writes
Pundit Review covers many of the bases
Bill of INDC was an indepented blogger that made multiple trips to Iraq and has some posts up
Hey look, The Weekly Standard talks about us
I got to meet Princess Cat from A Swift Kick and a Band-Aid, here's her post
Homefront Six does an amazing roundup
It's nice adding a face to Sarah from Trying to Grok
Got to meet Eagle6 who also does a better quality post then I
Finally got to meet Consul-At-Arms, we've been blogger buddies since he started, he's almost like blogging family, meeting him was as natural as crossing the road.
Have you read JR Salzman? You should, he got his right arm and 2 fingers from his left hand blown off by an IED and blogged about it two days later, his lovely wife Josie blogs too. Meeting him was my highlight of the day, amazing people. The copy of the Blog of War below was blown up in Iraq with him.
There are probably people I missed but I am way to tired tonight to worry about it, more later, thank you everyone who helped support this trip out here!
PS a big thank you to Excalibur, Military.com, USAA, specially Patti from Soldier's Angels and MinimusBiz!
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Other things we did today, woke up rather late (it has been a busy couple of days) and after a brief meeting some other milbloggers in the lobby. We checked out of the hotel and loaded our bags into the trunk of two fellow bloggers Beth and Wintermellonsoup who are bloggers who just moved to DC from the Midwest, I’ve been blogging buddies with Beth since 2003 and they offered top pick us up and take us to the cheaper hotel.
Instead we went out to lunch, then hopped on the metro and took a tour of the Natural History Museum (if you haven’t been there it’s huge and one of my favorite places in the world), after that we went back to the car and got slightly lost and did a detour of the beautiful Potomac river northeast of DC. Finally found a way to turn around and visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and then after a lot of circular driving saw the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (for a huge white building that can be seen from most of DC is sure hard to get to) .
After that we drove to our lower priced hotel with free WiFi and gave Beth and WMS a copy of the pictures taken throughout the day. Thanks! You guys were the awesomest!
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Well it was definitely an eye opener, I took a video of the speech but this one looks better (thanks Gateway Pundit!). It’s surprising who is reading what we put out. Thank you, Sir, for taking time out of your schedule to talk to us.
Other news, I was on the first panel called From the Front along with Matt of Blackfive, Bill Ardolino of INDC Journal, Bill Roggio of the Forth Rail and Jim of Sgt Hook. I was the babe of the bunch and looking around at all of these “famous” people, I felt a little out of my depth. Even so, I think I held my own and according to the crowd, my nervousness wasn’t showing at all.
After leaving that, we all went out and talked to a reporter from CNN (watch tomorrow the 6th between 4 and 6) and a couple of other publications, New York Observer, Time, Pentagon Channel, AOL, Fox, Wired and a couple of others, had another talk with the Washington Post (good luck with the story Nikki).
All of this media caused me to miss much of the “All in the Family” With Andi of Andi’s World (great job Andi!), Rachelle of ArmyWifeToddlerMom (very cool meeting you!), Sarah of Trying To Grok, Becky of Military Families Voices of Victory and Carla of Some Soldier’s Mom (hi Mom!).
More later, check out Mudville, they have a live feed
or talk live to the with the live chat.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I received my Milbloggie and got a digital video camera as a gift from USAA (thanks!!) I probably sounded like a dork when I gave my acceptance speech, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m even dorkier in person. Hopefully be posting pictures tomorrow night of the events if my regular camera holds out. Imagine me, the camera nerd, having the shabbiest camera in the house (the new camera is just a video camera but don’t worry, I’ll be playing with that too tomorrow).
Here’s what the Milbloggie looks like.
And a picture of some of use the first night out, me, John of Arrgghh and some other nameless folk:)
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Arriving there I got a message from Nikki Schwab from Washington Post confirming my appearance for an online discussion at 11 a.m tomorrow May 3rd, check it out if you’re not busy.
While at Chicago, we had to try a Chicago style hotdog and I believe they do have something going there. Worth every cent of the 3.99 that my wife paid for it!
After a layover of 2 and a half hours then another hour and a half flight, we landed in DC at Ronald Reagan National Airport. My first impression of the place? I got a spooky vibe. It’s decorated with a mixture of caveman aesthetics and X-files creepiness. So after waiting for our bags at the turnstiles that didn’t had broken screens, we went in search of the USO which had this nice flyers laying all around, might as well check it out while we’re here. The search took us to a very long empty deserted hallway on the second floor that curved around the bend. Heather was asking, you sure this is the place, she was sounding a bit shaky. I tell you, it was spooky. No friendly signs pointing the way, so we just kept walking, sort of like that scene out of Shining doors stretching out forever, not a soul in sight. Finally we saw a little door that said USO and a small office with some couches, TV, one computer and snacks. Whew, I was worried that we had been transported to the Twilight Zone.
Behind the desk was a volunteer named Sarah who was a beacon in the dank dark airport, she was very friendly and nice. I think that was the smallest USO I’ve seen in my entire time in the military. Would have thought this being the capitol, there would have been a huge shiny sort of place with wireless internet and all sorts of goodies for thrifty individuals such as myself. We chatted for a bit, I picked up some maps, gave a donation and made our way to the hotel we are staying at in Alexandria.
A quick bite to eat and we’re bushed, it’s time for bed.
PS, the bride took me out to see Gwen Stefani last weekend and I took two videos. On the first video (7:42), Gwen makes eye contact with me, waves and blows me a kiss. My wife didn't believe me till I showed her the footage. I told her she has nothing to worry about, Gwen, while cute, doesn't stand a chance.