Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Welcome new visitors!

You would think that appearing on CNN for a large part of their feature on milblogs would have gathered a sharp increase in my readership, nope, a few extra hundred hits. What about when I did that online chat on the Washington Post, nope, just another couple hundred. When my blog was flogged by the San Diego Reader? Maybe a hundred total. I get probably get a quarter of my new visitors by people searching for Camel Spiders.

But do a post telling everyone that a popular email forward is totally false and just a new urban legend? You strike gold. My post about New Traffic Fines in 2007 has scored Doc in the Box an extra 450 visitors each day since the post, thanks for visiting guys! Take a look around, you might find something of interest.

It goes to show how a strong and viral email forward can take over the inboxes around the world. How do this things start? A prankster (someone who could be like me) types up a story that affects most of his target audience, it almost reads like fact, kind of close to the truth but a little bit of absurdity mixed in to get the monkey in us curious and our brain says, hmm, I should tell others about this. The hook is sunk. The Mark forwards the email to everyone that they know and those people do the same and in a couple hundred days, most of the world has seen it. A majority of folk are taking the subject as fact since it came from reputable sources. (I hope I don’t get pulled over by a “so called” email savvy California Highway Patrol Officer who thought the new laws were real, you can still get tickets for most of those items but the fines just aren’t as high as the email states)

Not many people take time to read blogs but the most stubborn of us can’t help but open up emails, sigh and I can expect to find them in my inbox along with all of the jokes and chain letters that promise me true love if I forward them. Sorry I'm not looking.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sprung like a steel trap

As a shop we do physical training at Oh-dark-thirty in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m the first one to admit that I’m not a morning person, if you want me to do something important in the morning it’s best to hand me a note so I’ll remember to do it later. It’s not unusual not to expect me to talk more then greetings before say 9 or so in the morning and a couple of cups of coffee warming my belly. Well this post isn’t about my morning habits.

Sunday nights I usually go though a routine of getting my uniforms ready, making sure everything is where I can find it before the morning. As usual, I went to bed at around 10 and something woke me up and I looked over at the clock. Oh no, I’m going to be late, the dumb alarm didn’t wake me up. It was 20 after.

I shot out of bed moving faster then I thought it was possible for my chucky old ass to move, grabbed my wallet and keys and threw my clothes on while running to the bathroom to run my toothbrush across my teeth a total of 3 times then I rushed through the garage and hopped into my truck and pulled out.

I was running my tongue over the toothpaste chunks that were between my teeth and offhandedly reached over and switched the rock station that was playing to NPR so I could listen to the news on the way to work and out came classical music.


I looked at the time again, 12:23, I had driven a quarter mile so I turned around and was snoozing by the time the clock said 12:30.

Sheesh, I’m a dork.

It’s been two days and I’m still discombobulated over waking up like that, like something has been missing, I wonder what woke me up anyways? Feels like earthquake weather (if there is a big earthquake in the next few days, I told you so). At least my wife is back in all of her green loveliness. It’s great having her home.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

New Driving Fines for 2007

Has everyone got this email forwarded to them? I even got it forwarded to me by official military channels. As with any email forward I get looks to be taking over the world, I like to fact check it. Usually the first stop is Snopes where they say it's totally false. The original email is below and here’s the link to what Snopes says and this is the link to the real laws from the DMV website that go into affect on the 1st of July 2007, I've added my comments in the red italics.

Since I don't like the idea of people driving slower then they already are, I'm sharing it with all of my readers. Remember, fact check before you forward!

1. Carpool lane - 1st time $1068.50 starting 7/1/07 (The $271 posted on the highway is old). Don't do it again because 2nd time is going to be double. 3rd time triple, and 4th time license suspended. (The real fines are $376-386 depending on the country, I wonder if the guy who wrote this is even from California? Figures from SFGate article)

2. Incorrect lane change - $380. Don't cross the lane on solid lines or intersections. (inflated over the real (another one not mentioned and also inflated)

3. Block intersection - $485 (not mentioned)

4. Driving on the shoulder - $450 (not mentioned either)

5. Cell phone use in the construction zone. - Double fine as of 07/01/07. Cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving. (just states that hands free devices will be used by 1 Jul 08, no fines stated)

6. Passengers over 18 not in their seatbelts - both passengers and drivers get tickets (not mentioned but what was mentioned was driver and passenger would get fined if they knowingly let someone ride in the trunk).

7. Speeders can only drive 3 miles above the limit (nothing said about this).

8. DUI = JAIL (Stays on your driving record for 10 years!) (it says that there is an increase of the mandatory driver license suspension of 10 months if you get a DUI with a alcohol concentration of .20% or greater and if you are under 21 you get a fined for BAC over .01%)

9. As of 07/01/07 cell phone use must be "hands free" while driving. Ticket is $285. They will be looking for this like crazy - easy money for police department (look at number 5)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Army Spc. Mark Ryan Climaco Caguioa

MaryAnne from Soldiers Angel Germany pointed me out to Mark's story last week and I told her I would write about it after reading into it more, here are my thoughts.

Corporal Caguioa was the son Filipino immigrants, raised in Stockton and graduated from Bear Creek High School class of 2002. After high school, he worked at a sushi chef before enlisting in the Army in 2005 and deployed to Iraq in October of 2006.

On the 4th of May 2007, he lost both of his legs from an improvised explosive device and later lost his left arm. According to the news reports I’ve read, he also had some major head injuries and was given 6 units of blood. He later died on the 24th of May and President personally went and offered his condolences to his family the day following.

This is where the story gets strange, multiple Asian and Filipino news papers started coming out with stories about Cpl Caguioa receiving the wrong blood type. What bothers me here isn’t the story that someone received the wrong blood type but the way that it was released. So far, I’ve read 7 stories about it and 5 of them say that he was B positive and received O positive blood (which is actually the proper procedure, O being the universal donor) and 2 that say that he was O positive and received B positive blood (which is generally considered a bad thing). But having the 2 different stories out means that one side or the other is totally wrong. It's a black or white deal, yes or no in this case. If you don't know the answer, then don't publish till you do.

If this story told to the press was released by Mark’s family, I could understand that. They would have access to Mark’s medical file but the only way the military is going to release that information is following an investigation. Have you ever seen a military investigation lasting less then a week? I think the news media involved here should have waited before jumping the gun. Publishing in haste without proper editorial review labels your paper a tabloid which is one step away from blog, at least you get paid for what you write.

Here's a link to the stories on Mark

Mark had some massive injuries and it would have been a miracle if he survived even a few years ago but military medicine has taken up the miracle business lately if you haven't noticed. We save people would have been written off and the idea that we didn’t do all that was possible for Mark is wack. Even with doing everything under the sun, people aren’t machines, medicine isn’t like replacing out a worn out belt or bolt. There is a reason they call what I do practicing medicine because we do practice, each day we're learning more about the human body. We can’t know or see everything that is happening inside but we try. If we did, there would be no death or aging and the common cold and HIV would be things you read about in a history book. We’re damn good but we’re not even close to reaching the limit of what’s possible. And in cases like Mark, I think he was at that limit.

Privacy is a big deal in the medical community, one of the quickest ways for a corpsman to get busted down is to break patient confidentiality. I’ve seen some fairly interesting things in my line of work but make it a point not to talk about it to others, not in person nor on the blog. In a case such as this, if there was a someone who talked to the press about a patient, using his real name about a patients medical history. That person likely has some heavy brass breathing down his neck and believe me, I don't feel sorry for them one bit. This is a serious business that we're in, part of being professional is that we play by the rules and don't make them up as we go. Having your name published as the source for that medical information about a patient? I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes man unless that was your job as a public affairs guy to give out that information as an official statement from the hospital.

Rest in peace Mark, my prayers go out to you, your family and fiancée Megan.

The Shout House

Last Friday we went out to The Shout House with Josh and Brikkie. Brikkie’s getting out of the Navy and Josh invited us and several of their other friends to go an celebrate. If you haven’t heard of The Shout House, it’s a “dueling piano” bar, I’ve been to a few piano bars in my time but going into the Shout House was on another level altogether.

The premise of the place is this, someone requests a song by writing it down on a piece of paper along with a tip, the piano player that does the song best plays it using the other guy as back up and they get the crowd heavily involved. They call up people to sing, if they don’t see you singing, you get called out. It’s actually a lot more involved then that, the piano players are traded off every hour, during the trade off, the off going players play backup for a couple of songs with the drums and a bass guitar. Occasionally throughout the night, they call all of the wait staff to come up and do choreographed dances, the bartenders dance on the bar and if it’s your birthday, you can expect them to sing you happy birth day and make up a dirty song in your honor.

Definitely not a politically correct place, leave your politically correctness at the door and be prepared to rock your socks off. They did the favorite oldies but they also did songs like Akon’s “Shake That”, which turned out surprisingly good considering it was sung by a middle aged bald white guy. They also did Baby Got Back in where they called all of the women on the stage and my wife showed that the could shake it with the best. Good times.

(here's that picture)

If you want an unforgettable night in San Diego that is unlike anything you can imagine, The Shout House is the place for you. I would count last Friday night as one of the most fun in my life.

“You picked a fine time to leave me Lucile….”, after going, you’ll know the rest too.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Green Surprise

I sometimes think I’m married to an anime super hero who’s disguised as a the run of the mill navy wife. I got home from an average day of Naval Medicine drudgery, you know learning a new job, helping out one of the junior troops out with their car and verifying records for a command generals inspection. A gray gray mundane day of thinking professional military type thoughts.

I came home to find my wife had changed her pink locks to a bright shade of iguana green. What a refreshing way to end the day.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Army Wives

Over at SpouseBuzz, they have a couple of posts with discussions covering the first two episodes of the new Lifetime show Army Wives. The storyline is based on a book by Tanya Biank called Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives. There has been talk about the series for a while in military publications and by the spouses. After being around the military family scene for the better part of a decade in a half. What do I think? (Mild spoilers ahead)

I’ve seen all of these characters; I worked with a spouse who was a surrogate mom. I’ve seen pettiness and gossip and also some of the lengths spouses go to support their husbands or wives. The show picks up on the extremes of everything you would get out of the average base, not out of a neighborhood. Glad I don’t have this kind of drama in my life.

Spots that struck me? I like Roxy, I’m glad my wife didn’t salute my boss when she first met him though but she comes from a military background, her grandfather was a 28 year Marine and her dad was a Navy optometrist and her minor was in military history. She’s a strong character dropped into an unfamiliar situation.

I’ve known the people who spend beyond their means like the husband of Pamila, betting on a check that will come any day. The LtCol’s wife who has bruises which come from an unexpected source. The male spouse who’s wife is suffering from PTSD and is acting out, I’ve seen this from both sides.

We’re both looking forward to future episodes, as dark as some of the scenes have been, they haven’t even been as dark or as bright as it can be. Give it time.

Email forwards

In the broader sense, you shouldn’t look at email any differently then you look at blogging. Just stick it in your head that once you email anything out, it’s not your property anymore, it can be forwarded around the world with all of your info added to it. Have you heard the tale of Jonas L Blank (who talked glibly about a financial deal), Claire Swire (who emailed her buddy about a yummy treat), Jacqueline Kim (who sent out an email about a first date with Casey O’Brien that went around the world) or Peter Chung (who told about his pad of conquest in Korea)? How about the guy who originally sent out the Abu Ghraib photos by email, do you think he thought about the storm he was about to unleash? Ask any of these guys, you don't want to become famous though an email forward.

Here is my little lesson in Internet Courtesy, when you forward an email, try not forwarding emails that can get you into trouble, contain personal information or get anyone in trouble who is in the body of the email. If you can’t help yourself and do decide to forward such things, strip it of personal information of the people who sent it to you such as the addresses and signatures.

One thing about a really funny email? After leaving your inbox, that email is like a powerful flu, you send it out and it spreads like wildfire. Everyone you send it too sends it too all of their friends. Even I’ve been caught in that trap and if I forward something, it’s good and probably still floating about with my name at the very bottom. Considering most people don’t have a clue about internet courtesy and just forward emails, imagine thousands if not millions of people getting that email with your name and sometimes signature with phone number at bottom of it.

While some complain that blogging is sending out your personal information out to the world. In reality, most people don’t read blogs but they do check their inbox and don't your emails contain your real name? Do you have that buddy who forwards everything? I know I do. And I personally know at least 15 people that have sent embarrassing emails to a command wide mailing list.

So be careful about what you write and what you forward.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Most of the first classes I work with are transferring or retiring in the next couple of months. I usually don’t talk about my coworkers but I’ll make an excuse today since he’s not around and I warned him that I was going to blog him sometime in the future. He’ll just have to read about it later.

I’ve worked for a lot of people in my time, seen various leadership types and picked up lessons from most of them. During my last deployment to Iraq, I worked for an HM1 Thomas, he was the leading petty officer of the MAG (Marine Air Group). The MAG is the headquarters element a collection of squadrons, in this case they ran the helicopters. HM1 was responsible for herding all of the corpsman of these squadrons, making sure of that all of the reports were turned in on time, that they were doing their jobs and that their Marines were taken care of. He would gather the LPO’s of all of the squadrons every week to get a pulse of what was going on and pass gouge.

My last trip was actually my second trip out there with him, I didn’t know him on the first trip but he was there the night of my first mortar attack. There were some Marines who were seriously injured that night and HM1 was the first person at the scene. He still carries that night around with him.

There are events in every person’s life that the rest of their life pivots around. I think that night was one of his. From that night through all of his following trips to the sand box, he never left any building without wearing his flak and Kevlar.

Which isn’t a bad idea if you think about it, but he carried this a bit further then that, every other day at noon, he would run 5 miles wearing all of his armor. All of the Marines thought this guy was hard as nails and a bit nuts, do you know how hot it gets there in the summer? Nothing slowed him down, he was a machine of muscle, tendon, bone in a sack of skin. I know he was one of the hardest charging corpsman I’ve ever ran across. Every once in a while he would talk someone to go out running with him, that usually only lasted a couple of runs and they wouldn’t even be wearing their body armor. Not bad for a 40 year old guy.

He gave those that worked for him an ideal of what a person in the military should be, what a corpsman should be. I know I fall far short of many of his examples but he gave me an image to live up too. Everybody who interacted with him in Iraq took something away and if they were smart, they remembered his lessons.

Being a leader is more then just issuing orders, it’s more then being the voice for the commander, it’s about caring for the people who you are responsible for and bringing them up with you. Giving each and everyone of them value for what they do and leading by example. HM1 made conscious choices to always do the right thing no matter how small the detail while still being flexible enough to shift instantly into any of the various missions that we had to do out there.

He reminded some people were reminded of Flanders of Simpson fame, even though he was hard physically, his stories tended to take on a preaching aspect (sometimes long). But there was always a moral to all of his lessons, when he taught something, he taught it in such a way to force you to change your way of thinking so you would remember it at a deeper level.

Some big shoes to fill, I hope people consider me half of the leader that he was. Fair winds and following seas brother.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Blame it on the bride

For she started me watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and instead of dishing out bloggie goodness, I’ve been watching one episode after another of BtVS. Well that is when we weren’t traveling up to northern California to go to a wedding over the Memorial Day holiday and visiting San Francisco. Just finished the series a couple of days ago and have since been on an anticlimactic fugue. Nice job Joss.

We went to Golden Gate park on our San Francisco trip, it’s the first time I’ve been up there since I was 2 or 3. San Jose was a nice and sunny 80 degrees and as soon as we went over the hilltop to go down into San Fran and the temperature dropped 25 degrees. As Mark Twain said, the coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco. I believe him, it was chilly.

My first class crow was pinned on last Friday by my wife and I’ve spent most of this week getting used to saying HM1 Dustman. Other then the trip, helping my old roommate James move his stuff into storage and watching Buffy…

Well I was about to say my life has been mellow but in reality, I’ve been fairly busy learning the new duties that come with the rank. It sounds like I’m getting promoted into a different deployment then the one I expected, not sure if it’s longer or not yet.

Here’s a picture of the pinning