Wednesday, July 14, 2010

40 years

The other day, I was just getting off of work when we decided to go out. It was a "screw it" night, as M___ and I like to call them. Since it was a screw it night, I didn't even bother going home and changing, therefore, I was still in uniform. When we do screw it nights, we don't usually go to the IHOP or the grill down the street. We go to the nicest restaurant we can afford at the time. I know, right? Screw it. Anyways, we rarely get out of this place, just the two of us, under 65 bucks, so, with the horde with us, we were looking at $80 or so. The waitress, who we really like, and whose table we always try to get, came up to us just after our food was being delivered. She told us that our dinner had been paid for. What can you do? The reg says we shouldn't take money from people, it says nothing about if they don't really give us a choice. You can't really just say "No thank you," and insult people. I could have avoided the whole thing by just changing my clothes, but it was a screw it night, and I'm lazy. Also, should I act ashamed to be seen in uniform? When this kind of thing happens, I try to follow the advice of a friend that has since retired: "Smile, say thank you, mind your manners, and try to help someone else down the road." So that's what we did. Throughout the meal, she would come up, more and more emotional every time, with more and more offers to buy us dinner and/or drinks. By the time we left, both her and M___ were in tears. We made sure to give the waitress a largeish tip (we weren't paying for our food, after all), but that was all we could do, as the people wanted to remain anonymous.

Here's the thing, though, this isn't the first time this has happened to us. It doesn't happen all the time, and we don't go looking for it, and are usually completely surprised when it does, and very grateful. But I still get a feeling of "what the heck," and I'll explain why.

39 years ago, my dad was a serviceman, traveling in uniform (as per regulation at the time), just off the plane from Vietnam. I'm not sure of what he needed from the lady at a kiosk window, but she slammed the window in his face. When he complained, he was told rather bluntly to take a hint and move on. This was actually a mild reaction towards servicemen at the time. Members were spit on, cursed at, treated rudely, and generally had a hell of a time, just trying to get around the country that they had sworn and risked their lives to protect the freedoms of. Some were actually out and out physically attacked. It got to the point that the Army actually changed its regs, to really read almost the exact opposite. Service members were not only encouraged to not be in uniform if they could avoid it, but were, many times, out and out ordered not to be. I recall hearing of certain, kindly USO ladies that would keep a closet set aside full of donated clothes to protect the servicemen without any civilian clothes. Ostensibly, this rule came about to protect service members from terrorism, but the writing was on the wall: it was to protect them from the people they supposedly served.

According to friends in the Army, not much changed over the next 30 years or so. Well, let's fast forward 30 years. People started flying flags, attending parades, standing at the national anthem, greeting Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines with dignity and respect, shaking their hands, and buying them meals. So I wonder what happened in the last 40 years or so? Why the change of heart? 20 years before that, it was like now. People loved seeing service members and talking to them, giving them lifts from the bus stop, etc. And then the big change. The 60's. The age of *full sarcasm voice* "enlightenment." And then there's now. The only real event I see is September 11. But why should that make a difference? What if, in 1961, Nguyễn Hữu Xuyến or Trần Văn Trà (early leaders of the Viet Cong, largely based in North Vietnam) had ordered a plane to fly into the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty (the WTC wasn't around at the time)(I assure you, we were high on their target list even then), would my dad's generation of service members had faced so much crap? Would the conflict in Vietnam have gone like it did? Probably not. So then, where would be now?

This brings about another question, though, too. What's it going to be like in 20 years, for my son and daughters, if they decide to join the military? Here's a little time line. Lots of patriotism after the Revolutionary War, and they didn't have much time to lose it by the war of 1812. By the outset of the Civil War, almost 50 years had gone by and people had begun to forget about their Soldiers. Good thing there was a long draw up to the Civil War, or their wouldn't have been the support in place that we did end up having. By the turn of the century, most of that patriotism was forgotten. Then there was the "long" war in Europe, finally involving us, and the people loved the military again. By 1939, that was again being forgotten. Soldiers on leave were seen as a pariah. Patriotism started building back up slowly as we supported our allies in the Europe and the Pacific, but it was ramped up a thousand fold at the attack of Pearl Harbor. Then, after the war, support waned, falling off drastically in the 60's and 70's. Not even such things as Grenada, Panama, and Desert Storm really ramped it. Then 2001, and we're right back to people thinking kindly about Soldiers.

What is it with the American people that they take for granted their freedoms and those protecting them unless there's a threat of a major conflict or a direct attack on our soil? Why does it take a major event like that help people remember? Why, when people seem to be most enjoying the peace that we and those like us have fought and died to pay for, do people forget what it is we do/did? We don't ask for much, really. You don't have to buy us dinner, although that is appreciated. Just stand for the flag and the anthem, a quiet thank you, a prayer, a handshake. And try not to forget us. Enjoy your freedoms we pay for. That's why we do it. But please, as you have the freedom to sit and ignore the snarls of the beasts at the door, please don't forget that there are those of us out there, every day, shoving our bodies and our lives into those maws that would devour you. And in return, all we will be able to do is say, "Thank You," and carry on for another day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Professional Adventurer

So, I've decided to be a professional adventurer. Like they had back around the turn of the 20th century. I'm going to do it by hunting large, dangerous game, and then I'm going to write about it. But I'm not going to just hunt them. Oh, no. I'm going to hunt them with nothing but a SPEAR! Well, maybe a large knife, too, but yeah, you get the idea. All over the world. Starting here in the States. I'm going to bag at least one of every species of bear here, and then move on to cougars, maybe even moose. I'll collect hides, claws, and scars like a real man, and then I'll move on. Lions in Africa, tigers in India, jaguars in South America, crocodiles in Australia. Among others in all of those places and more, all over the world. Maybe even sharks! If it's considered a stupid idea to attack something with hardly more than a sharpened stick, then I'll do just that. Only I won't be stupid, cause I'm a bad-ass. And I'll write/blog about my adventures. And post pictures of my scars (which will be many and varied, I assure you).

I came up with this idea quite a while back, actually. Some friends and I were actually talking about muzzle loader hunting, and how it was a shame that modern "in-line" muzzle loaders are no less accurate and have about the same range as a modern, single-shot rifle. I, for one, applaud and agree with Idaho's law that says muzzle loaders mean traditional, and these modern things are kinda cheating. That conversation came around to how cross bows are almost as bad, and compound bows are getting up there anymore, too. So I decided I would be a purist, and started looking at recurve and long bows, some of which are pretty good. But that got me to thinking: How far, exactly, could one take this type of purism? Pretty far, I guess, right down to fighting animals naked with our bare hands. But that's just taking bad-assitude to a ridiculous level. I figure God gave us the ability to make tools as a kind of equalizer in the animal kingdom. So, what's a step above bare hands? Just a rock, or a knife. Also ridiculous. I'm a bad-ass, not a masochist. So, I go to the next step: spears. I would even go so far as to limit the types of material I use for the heads. Not so much as obsidian tips, but definitely only iron. And then I thought that this would be a great way to work in my future passion for blacksmithing! I could make my own spears. I figured I'd carry two and a long knife, for the close, dirty work, and still be the ultimate hunting purist. In fact, that's what I'd call the column! The Ultimate Hunting Purist. I would go out wearing buckskin pants, over-the-calf moccasin boots, and not much more, as most anything on my upper body would likely get destroyed. Except when I was hunting in cold environs: again, bad-ass, not masochist. Then I would have a bear-skin jacket.

Can you imagine the stories that I would have? Not just traveling the world, safari type stories, either. Any hunting writer can get those. Real, man-vs.-beast stories. Some countries, like in Africa, require foreign hunters to go out with a prfessional hunter (or PH as they call it) and beaters, porters, and bursars. Real "stuffy-British-guy" type hunting, where all you do is take the shot. Well, to satisfy the laws, I would take them with me, but I would still hunt MY way. Can you imagine the mad props I would get from those PH's? Or even, and especially, the locals hired as porters? Man, just showing my scars at camp would earn me a bit of loyalty. I would have to make the "don't try this at home" speech all the time, but my position in annuls of the bad-ass would be cemented!

And for the anti-hunters that would no doubt find a way to protest my activities as cruel, I would tell them that the animals have just as much or a better chance of surviving this little "game" of mine as I do. The only real advantage I'd have is that I'm much more of a bad-ass.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Red Dead Remption

If you don't want to know more about Red Dead Redemption, then stop reading until you're ready to see this stuff.

I just finished the "plot" game-line of Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption. Now, I know a few of you will gasp and tsk at me for playing one of Rockstar's games, but it's not the only one I've played. I even enjoyed, to a degree, their Grand Theft Auto series. But Redemption completely blew me away.

Gameplay wise it was awesome. The story is linear and easily understandable, yet also easy to identify with. It did tend toward the violent, but the old west was a violent time and place, with bad languish and worse people. The only difference between it and most of other noir westerns out there is it actually show the violence. The fight system seems like a close relative of GTA, and there's nothing wrong with that. The menus are easily navigable, making items easily used, while not detracting from the immersion. And there is that, in spades.

Graphics are expectedly awesome. How cool would it be to go back only 30 years ago and show die-hard Pong players a modern game. I think it would scare them, to be honest. Or they would want to know what movie it was we were watching. And THEN they would be frightened to learn that it was a video game. Or, better yet, pull that trick on one of the skeptics that claimed video games to be a passing fad. The game "world" is rendered beautifully. It ranges from high, snow capped peaks to low, Mexican arroyos. And everything in between. Deserts, plains, rolling farm land, river bottom, pine forest, everything. There are several, well rendered and believable animal species, all living in their respective ecosystems. And you can hunt them, too, whenever you want, for extra achievements.

The story, ah the story. It follows John Marshton, an outlaw turned good. You are trying to save your family from an unnamed government agency that is holding them hostage so you will hunt down your former gang members. So, you're caught between the twin titans of organized crime and evil government, and you've got to survive. Eventually John finishes off his old gang leader, the last of the criminals you have to hunt down, and goes back to his family, where there are a half dozen or so missions that are no more violent than herding your cows or taking your son hunting. You find out here that your wife is in the same boat as you, she's a former "working girl" trying to make good by you. And your son is in the pangs of puberty trying to deal with both of his parents turbid pasts. And then the "Agency" comes to hunt you down, being the last one that really knows what went on while being under their direct control. John Marshton dies, saving his family, and the story begins following a teenage Jack (Johns' son). A cut scene shows that several years have passed and now Abigail, John's wife, is buried next to him on the hill overlooking their farm. At this point, Jack stands up, now grown, and wearing his dad's hat and guns. He steps into the saddle and rides off. From here, the only part of the central plot left is to hunt down the agent responsible for your father's death. You beat him in a dual and ride off. They did it in such a way as to really pull you in. Your character through most of the game was a BAD man, but he's trying to make good. And you really identify with him. He REALLY loves his wife and son, and nothing will sway him from that. At one point you are saved by a pretty, spinster-rancher woman named Bonnie, and in the course of your adventures, she makes it known that she's interested in you. You more than politely decline and make it clear that you're married and will stay that way. It's one of the few times you really have no choice in the game. John Marshton is faithful. Period. The game is "open sandbox" type, and for the most part you can do what you want. Most of the side missions have you picking a side. Do you help the law by bringing the fleeing criminal down, or do you help the criminal by ambushing the lawmen? Do you earn A LOT of money by carrying out the contract on the life of a prominent voice in the temperance movement, or do you earn nothing and warn the orator of the contract on him? Not to mention you can just do free play and go hunting (or something), or just decide to go midevil and massacre an entire town. For the most part it's up to you, and the level of graphic violence tends to follow personal choices of the player.

I do have to make a note on the music. Wow, just wow. The composers decided that in order to keep the noir western feel of the game and story, they would only write in the key of A minor with 130 beats per minute. It sounds restricting, but man, they did wonders with the music. there was one part, about a third of the way through the main story line that you find yourself in Mexico. Newly arrived, it's night, it's raining, and you're alone in a foreign land. You start riding towards a place where you can sleep (and save the game) thinking that it's another boring ride across the desert when the first song with actual lyrics cuts in. It's entitled "Far Away" and sung by a talented artist named Jose Gonzalez, and wow. Just wow. It's all I can say. "At that point I almost believed that my name was John," to quote a commenter on one of the YouTube videos for the song. I don't have to say I bought the soundtrack, too. I rarely do that for MOVIES, and this is a video game. I'm listening to it as I write.

All in all, it was a great game, and those don't come around too often. It's one of the few that I'll actually play to completion, not just to the end of the main story line. I already have a good hat, now all I need is an old duster....

While it is a great game, I would not recommend it for kids.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


In a basement, a large, steel door opens before him, revealing a room nearly completely devoid of light. He can hear hisses from within, laments on the brightness of the light behind him, and rude exhortations to close the door. He steps in and does so. He is greeted by a large being with pale skin, clammy hands, and bulging eyes: a goblin! "What do you want?" the creature demands, rudely. Scared, he stammered "I-I w-was sent to...." Interrupting, the creature snapped the note out of his hand and scanned the writing. "I see," it said at last. "Well, go back and tell them that we'll get to it IF and WHEN we can. We have better things to do down here than to fix everything that goes wrong up there. Now, leave." Turning and hurrying out of the room, the questor wondered exactly what the goblins had to do that was better? Weren't they kept around JUST to fix things that went wrong? Shaking his head, relieved that this was now out of his hands, the questor hurried out of the basement and back to where he belonged, in the light of the sun and the warmth of human society.

One might think that this little narration is one of my fantasy stories, or, perhaps, one that I might write in the future. Really, though, this is a very near telling of my first dealing with Army civilian IT techs.... *shudder*

At this point in my career, I have been to many military posts of varying size. And without question, on every post, big or small, the IT guys (and girls) are like goblins. In the Army, IT issues are handled by a local DOIM (pronounced "doom"), or Directorate Of Information Management. DOIM is staffed by civilian contractors. Their department is usually housed in a basement corner, usually near the security office. Invariably they will have a large, steel door blocking them off from the rest of the world. Being locked in a basement all day, they tend to be very pale. Being disinclined to eat right and excercise (usually) they tend to have bad, clammy skin. Looking at computer screens in a dark basement all day tends to give them bad eyesight, making them squint or bulge their eyes. And they tend to have really bad attitudes. Like it isn't their JOB to fix computer and network problems, but they only do it at their pleasure, which isn't very often. The conversation in our little narration pretty much happened exactly as I wrote it, to me, back when I was a young private, brand new to my first unit. And it took our Battalion Sergeant Major calling and making an angry complaint to actually get anything done. Now, everything is pretty much automated. They DESPISE personal contact, so they handle everything via email, including turning in trouble tickets. If you even call them, they tend to get angry and take even longer on your issues. It's so bad, that I've heard of bases where the Post Commander fired the entire DOIM staff, hired new ones the next day, and moved on with business. I have never heard of anywhere that DOIM is a pleasure to work with, let alone realizing that they are there to support Soldiers and our mission, not the other way around. Of all the civilian contractors that we have to work with in the modern Army, DOIM is the worst. Think about it: they have pale, clammy skin, bulging or squinty eyes, and tend to be greedy little cusses, especially with their precious time. And because of all of this, they truly are the modern goblins of our world. I wonder if I can get extra XP and buff my stats by hunting them.... *evil grin*

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Deodorant Grenades

Picture this:

It's another Friday evening at the local comic shop, and the usual players of Magic:The Gathering are, well, gathering. It's almost time for the Friday night tournament, and excitement fills the air. As well as other things, none of which are anywhere near as pleasant. You see, most of these guys (and some girls) are... socially awkward and are what could be considered "hygenically challenged." One is bad enough, but you get 20 or so of them crammed into the little sections of comic shops devoted to such things.... Oi. Now, picture the poor clerk that has to stay and mind the store while these guys are in there. She's a decent sort, just trying to earn a living, and really very nice. She would NEVER in her whole life do something to hurt anyone, especially not comment on their body odor. But, enough is a enough. She reaches under the counter and pulls out the new product that she has just aquired. No, it's not a new card game, or even an expansion of an old one. It's a Deodorant Grenade (patent pending). Gripping the pin in her teeth she gives a strong tug, and promptly learns why that only happens in movies. Spitting out her poor, cracked molar, she pulls with her other hand this time and removes the pin. "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" she yells as she lets the canister fly. The spoon flies free with a *ping* and everyone looks back in her direction, only to find her cowering under the counter. A short few seconds later and a *pop-fizz* is heard from under one of the tables, where the grenade landed. Instantly, the room is covered in a dense, white fog. Coughing can be heard from the denizens. When the fog clears, the room, and it's inhabitants, smells like spring blossoms! Huzzah, the choking funk of unwashed geek has been banished (for now)! The guys look around and notice "that one guy" that every geek-guild has that is bad even by their standards, the one that is usually regulated to the far corner, has *gasp* dissolved! Apparently he REALLY WAS made up entirely of funk, and the Deodorant Grenade did its job. Huzzah! He was a douche anyways. He was the only one hurt by the weapon, though. Everyone else went on to enjoy their evening. A few even took some valued lessons on hygene away from the incident. One even met a real girl (not the kind that plays Magic) the very next day!

This was just an idea that a friend of mine (the clerk in the story) and I came up with one night at a Magic tournament when she, a few others that believe strongly in personal hygene, and I had taken a fresh air break outside. She asked if I was capable of making something like that, and I said "Sure!" and got an evil look in my eye, the one I call my "Bomb Techs Gone Wild Look". I think I scared her. Anyways, it would be a handy piece of ordnance. Just like Shower-In-A-Can (patent pending), another invention idea of mine. I think it would have to be considered a WND, though, Weapon of Nastiness Destruction....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Deer With Glasses

My father is often fond of repeating the story of how one day, while hunting, he watched a young deer make a run as if to jump between two fence posts, only to be caught by the sheep wire hanging there. The wire twanged like a guitar as it stretched with his weight, until it snapped back and threw the young buck back onto his rump. Not to be disuaded, the yearling jumped back up and tried again, only to get the same result. This time, after rising, he walked up carefully and inspected the wire from a VERY close perspective. Like from an inch away. He sighed backed up, and tried again, this time jumping over the fence and going on his way. Thinking about it, it brings to mind that this poor thing was probably severely near sighted (that doesn't mean I wouldn't have shot him if I had met him when he was older, just, you know...). Which leads me to my next thought: Could this be corrected? It makes you wonder what a deer would look like with huge cokebottle glasses, his already "doey," excuse the pun, eyes magnified multiple times. Would the other deer make fun of him and call him "four eyes" and stuff? If so, would it make him angry and sensitive, finally taking a bottle of jack and a .30-06 to the top of the bell tower at the forest's university and... well, maybe it's a good thing that deer don't have glasses.

Thinking about a deer with glasses reminds me of the multiplicity of animals that I have seen/heard of that had weird problems, possibly due to some medical condition. First, another story from my dad. He and my uncle were hunting and they shot a deer. He's sure to this day that it had been a bad shot, but the deer dropped like a stone. When they got up to it and began field dressing it, they discovered that they had indeed shot it in a non-lethal place. Normally a shot like that would have had the thing running for hours before it finally stopped and bled to death. But this one had dropped straight away. Cutting it open, they discovered the reason: it's heart was complete mush. It had esseantially had a heart attack when it got shot, killing it instantly. It was a youngish deer, so old age was out, but there it was. To make matters worse, or, at least weirder, there was an even younger buck that kept trying to look over their shoulders and see what they were doing. Neither of them had any tags left, so it was illegal for them to just shoot it. It would get right over their shoulders and look into the chest cavity of its erstwhile herd mate. They would yell, and chase it, and even throw rocks at it, but it kept coming back and even followed them back to their truck. Another tick on the weird scale was that this had happened in the same area, generally, that my dad had seen the one have the run-in with the sheep wire. Maybe there's something in the water....

On the subject of areas with weird animals, I have to mention Depp's Hollow on Avon flats near the Weber/Cache county line in Northern Utah. Most of the animals in this little wooded draw were a bit sketchy, but especially the squirrels. The grouse hunting was pretty good in there, which kept us coming back every year. And every year we'd see squirrels doing some pretty weird stuff. We saw one hanging from the bottom of a tree branch, pretty normal for a squirrel, but when he decided to get down, instead of just climbing around on top of the branch and coming down like most would, he took the fast way, by simply letting go and plummeting to the gorund. Thing is, he acted like he did that all the time, just staggered off, shaking his head. Another time, my dad had a squirrel simply climb his leg up to his belt, stop, notice him, scream, fall, and run away. And it wasn't just us that noticed these things, either. It was the other animals. My dad was taking a break on a particular log up there when he looked over and noticed a weasel sitting next to him. They were both watching a particular squirrel whose story I will get to in a minute. My dad noticed the weasel and said "Heck of a place to make a living, huh?" The weasel just looked at him and sighed, probably thinking the same thing. Another time, we saw the tracks of a large wolf going up the draw at nice lope, but coming out at a dead run, as if he went in there and discovered the weirdos he was expected to eat, and didn't like that thought one bit. We think we finally discovered what's wrong with those fool animals. We noticed that the berries there on top of the branches, accessible by the birds, all get eaten fairly early in the season. But the berries on the bottoms of the branches, the ones normally eaten by the squirrels, don't get eaten until much, much later in the year. After the first few solid frosts. After they had fermented. During the prime gestation period of squirrels.... Basically, all of the squirrles there have fetal alcohol syndrome, and keep just passing it on to the next generation of retards.

And now on to Squinty, that one squirrel that we often had dealings with. We saw him most every year for about seven years or so, an inordinatly long time for a squirrel to live. I know it was always the same squirrel, he was very distinct. His fur ranged from sickly grey to dull brown, and it didn't do it smoothly, either, but in patches. He was the closest to a spotted squirrel I've ever seen. His tail was half bald, but not as if it had been stripped by a predator or normal balding. One half, devided length wise, was bald, so the right side of the tail had hair but his left side didn't. And then there were the eyes. One eye was oddly huge, the other eye was oddly small, giving him the name Squinty. And his teeth stuck out even farther than most rodents. Squinty was also confused in his sexual preference. I'm not saying he was confused genderly, but that he was confused by species. Not even species, he had his whole class mixed up. You see, Squinty was attracted to birds. He somehow learned to mimic bird calls. Bird mating calls. And half the time that we saw him, he was busy amorously chasing some very scared birds through the tree tops, all the while making his pathetic little cries for love. I wonder if he ever had any luck....

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Most people have probably heard of the false things to tell is wrong with their vehicle like blinker fluid and bumper bearings. Well, in the military, we have a similar version of that. Only we tend to do it to new guys in the form of sending them on errands to find these things. Here are a few things that I've seen, been sent for, or most commonly, just heard about.

First: Chemlight batteries. For anyone not in the military, chemlight is jargon for glow sticks, those little sticks you crack, shake, and take to raves. They work by a chemical (hence: chem) reaction when you break a little glass ampule and it mixes with the rest of the fluid. I'm not sure of the exact chamicals, but it's all sciency and stuff. Anyways, they work, and not with batteries. It's common to send a new guy in search of them, usually to the supply section or even the Post Exchange. Mostly it's to razz the poor, inexperienced noobs, but it can be used to just get them out of a junior leader's hair for a while. Actually, a friend of mine was sent after these when he got to his first duty station. He's a bit more intelligent than most people, including his then-new squad leader. And this squad leader was also a douche. It was part of his intent to not only razz my friend, but to probably punish him for the inevitiable failure AND by taking up so much time. My friend figured this, and went straight to the PX, picking up a box of real chem lights, on the way home. Then he spent about 20 minutes finishing his plan, and then he promptly took a nap and enjoyed not being at work. The next day, his squad leader and his platoon sergeant (his squad leader's boss) verbally jumped him and demanded to know where he was the prevois day. He assumed his best parade rest and informed them that he had been out procurring the requested chem light batteries. The squad leader smirked and told him that he had better produce them, or he was in even more trouble. My friend then pulled out what he had been doing for those 20 minutes: the glass vials from inside the chem lights. He had cut them up and removed the "power source" for the chem lights. The platoon sergeant thought that this was so funny that he wouldn't let the squad leader punish my friend. My friend was eventually promoted to squad leader and took over another section, while the douche bag that he turned the tables on pretty much stayed stagnant for the rest of his career. Moral: don't be a douche.

Second: Grid squares. For anyone who's not familiar with any form of orienteering or map reading, grid squares are those little sections drawn on the map for determining coordinates. It's common for junior leaders to send young soldiers to pick up a box of them. A friend of mine thought he would be cute when he got sent for them and cut up a map along the grid lines, but instead he just got in trouble for cutting up a GTA, or graphic training aid. Not too much came of it, though, they made him do some exercises and sent him on his way.

Third: Rotor wash. There seems to be an inordinate amount of these things in the aviation corps. Basically, rotor wash is the wind that comes off of a helicopter's rotors. It's just air moved by the rapid rotation of the rotors, and there is no use for it, and it cannot be collected anyways. It's common for young soldiers to be sent looking for a bucket of rotor wash. Once, while in Iraq, I was flying out to go on leave and was waiting with my gear near the flight line. Every time a helicopter would come in, a young private, in full body armor and kevlar helmet, would get up with an old, metal bucket, and hold hit out under the the down draft of the rotors. After the helicopter would lift off again, she would look in her bucket, swear, and go sit back down. After observing this for a while, I fianlly asked her what was up. she told me she had just got to Iraq and had reported to her section, and been sent for rotor wash. she told me she searched high and low, even in the cleaning supplies (I guess she thought it was for actually washing rotors), but never found any. A kind, passing Sergeant informed her what rotor wahs reall was, no doubt simply trying to help this poor girl get back to productive work. She freel admitted that she then asked this Sergeant if she could just collect it herself, to avoid getting in trouble. I'm sure he did a literal face palm at her stupidity, but he did tell her, probably out of frustration, that yes, she could. But, he said, that she had to do it full battle rattle (armor, kevlar, etc.), and it would undoubtably take a while so she should keep hydrated. At least he through this last part in to keep the girl from falling out from heat stroke....

Fourth: Flight Line. I've heard it common for people to be sent for a hundred yards of flight line. Flight line is just a term used to describe where the planes and helicopters are kept/maintained, not any kind of real rope or line. I've never seen or experienced an instance of this, but I'm informed by friends in aviation that this is a common errand.

Fifth (and my favorite to actually use on people): The Eye-Dee-Ten-Tee manual. Pronounced just like that. When you get someone in your section that is dumb enough to actually make work harder, it's good to send them on this little errand. For those that have never heard of this, spell it out short hand. I-D-10-T manual. It looks like the word idiot. And it's not a real manual. We had a kid out looking for that all over post (I'm at a VERY small base) once, each department bored enough to simply laugh, tell him they didn't have it, and "politely" send him to another department. We would get phone calls from the various people telling of the kid's progress. This went on all day until someone finally told him that the post commander had checked out the last copy, and our mark should just go ask him for it. He was too intimidated to go to a Colonel's office, so he came back all dejected that he couldn't perform this one task. We told him what it really was, and welcomed him to the unit. We still have fun at his expence, but he's kinda like a little brother so we look out for him, too. He may not be bright, but he sure is motivated....

Lastly: a quick story on this being used on me. We were in Iraq, getting ready ot turn our vehicles over to our replacements, which was one of the last things to be done before we headed home. We were washing the trucks. Someone told me to go ask the 1SG for some turtle wax. I know that Turtle Wax is a brand of car wax, and I know very well that you don't normally "wax" tactical vehicles. But I was also aware of the oft fickle 1SG who would have us do really pointless and stupid tasks for no reason, so it was not a stretch for me to imagine him wanting us to wax the vehicles. When I asked for some, he asked why. Not thinking, I told him. He ended up smoking (making us to exercises) both me and the guy that sent me on the errand for about two hours. At least we got out of cleaning the trucks....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I decided quite long ago that I need to buy an old, abandoned airstrip. Out in the nowhere's somewheres. As Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary, a fantastic webcomic artist, writer, and passing cyber friend of mine commented to me, "There's so much you can do with over a mile of straight, flat concrete. Up to an including landing planes...." And he was so right. Not to mention having lots of land would be nice (it's a good investment...), the actual airstrip will be useful, too.

One of the things that can be done with an asset like that is cars. Racing them. Vroom. What's the point of getting/building nice cars if you can't use them to their full potential? Why have a car with that much bad-assitude (yes, it's a word; at least, it should be...) and guts if you have to obey silly things like traffic laws and not having a desire for spectacular, firey death? An abandoned airstrip would be the perfect thing. If you have lots of land around it, you can also build a track, preferrably an 8-track with an oval perimeter. And then charge people a small fee to use it, but let spectators in for free to keep that "independant" feel of the place. Maybe let vendors in for a small fee, too...? Anyways....

Another thing you can do with an airstrip is shoot. It's no secret to any that know me that I enjoy shooting, and am a fair hand at it. An airstrip is straight, flat, and long, most topping a mile or two. What better place, in the outdoors, to shoot. It eliminates a lot of the variables of field shooting, and if you have a lot of land around it, adds a bit to safety as well. It's pretty much as "controlled environment" as you can get without going indoors (which would limit your range) or going completely virtual (which limits the bad-assitude of our sport).

Also, if I ever have the money to buy all this land and these cars and construction projects, I hope to spend a little of it on a commercial grade pilot's license ( I wants to be bush pilot...) and get a few planes, helicopters, and other flying paraphernalia. In a pinch, I can land these machines on my own, private, airfield. As long as it's not being used for racing at the time. Or shooting. Or....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mad Genious

So, I decided that I'm a mad genious. I've always been like this, but I'm only just now coming to grips with it. Take, for instance, today. I tried to get into my bank account via online banking. As usual, I couldn't remember the answer to one of our challenge questions. The question was "What color was your first car?" My wife and I set that question up when I was in a very tough military school in Florida. By tough, I mean there is a 35% graduation rate. Needless to say, I was often completely fragged when I got home. Like, except for school and the birth of my oldest daughter, I don't actually remember much about living in Florida. I remember getting there, the things I learned in order to do my job, baby, and then driving up to Missouri after graduation. That's it. That's how bad it was. So, there was no way that I would ever be able to remember a silly thing like what I entered for a stupid challenge question about colors and cars. I honestly doubt I was coherant enough to really think about the question. So, today, being sick of always getting that question wrong, I actually looked up what I had put way back then. I did not put any color. Nope. I'll tell you later what I actually put. Heh. I could just imagine that conversation with M___, my wife, when I did it. Picture us sitting in our neighbors' bedroom (we were too poor to have our own internet, and for some reason I remember where the neighbor that let us use theirs kept it; weird, I know), arguing about what we should put as our challenge question. "I think we should put red," M___ would have said, "as that is the color of YOUR first car, and this was technically your account before it was ours." "Nope," I would have answered. "How 'bout green, the color of the car that we first got as a family?" "Nope again, my fairest of women (seriously, M___, if you read this, that's how I think, even if I don't say it all that much)." "Blue, then? We had that little car of mine...?" By now, I think M___ was getting really confused. I think that happens a lot when she talks to me.... Weird. Anyways, she was grasping for straws now. "Again, Sweetest, wrong. What we'll do, see, is this: we'll put what KIND of car we first owned a couple. Any schmoe can guess a color. It's just a matter of going down the list. Car will be our code word to remember, like a hint." She would have looked at me dubiously. For some reason, she does that often.... "Don't worry, Loveliest, I'll remember. I got this." And here we are, 5 years later, just re-figuring it out. You see, I never took into account my mad genious. In my frazzled state, I reverted back to my natural state, or the basic me-ness that I had, and came up with a mad genious plan! Nice. I rule.

Another mad genious was Tesla. Nikola Tesla. one of the awesomest mad genious bad-asses of all time, to be sure. A real mad scientist. Go
to read a really cool and funny descrition of Tesla by author Ben Thompson. And get his book (I figure that if I promote his book and his site, he'll forgive me for linking him without permission.) Anyways, the dude, Tesla, was a mad genious, like me. Maybe I should show my fandom of Tesla by wearing a shirt that says "Nikola's Fanboys" with a picture of a Tesla coil. Would there be any interest, besides me, a fellow mad genious, in any shirts like that? Let me know.

Anyways, I think me and Tesla would have been good friends, because we could actually converse on a level that mere mortals couldn't comprehend. Or arch rivals, because we're both mad geniouses. I prefer to believe that we would be friends, though. Until next time!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Raven-Wolf?

"The Raven-Wolf? Why ever would a person want that to be their name? It's so... dark, so... yeah." That might be what you're asking yourself, and, by extension, me. Well, here's my answer: So? Actually, I do have a good reason. A long time ago, I was exploring spirit animals. Now, I'm not saying that I was trying to set myself in a trance and explore "the other side," but that I was trying to learn more about myself by deciding which animals I was most drawn to and their sub-conscious meanings. To my dismay, I was not drawn to a single animal. I was drawn to two. Equally. They were, you guessed it, the raven and the wolf. After studying a bit more, I discovered that these two animals share a lot of the same traits. Both highly intelligent, both life maters, and therefore fiercely loyal, both teachers, and both symbols of freedom. Their spiritual symbolism is very similar, too. They even share some of the same ancient gods, like Odin of Norse mythology. And the fact that I'm equally drawn to both of them doesn't mean that I have multiple personalities, although some who know me would likely vehemently argue with that statement. It means that I have multiple facets of a complicated personality.

So, there you have it. I am the Raven-Wolf. But I am so much more than that. When speaking of the old "elemental" symbols, I find myself drawn to fire. Of the Chinese elements, I'm equally drawn to wood and fire (or, at least I was last I checked; also, there's that multiplicity thing again...), so I guess the Chinese would term me as a burning brand. I have always been fascinated with fire. The creation of it, the practical application of it, or simply watching it do its job of consuming. Some ancient cultures even believed fire to be alive. It moves, it propagates, it breathes, it consumes. By those- almost alchemical- definitions, it very well could be, and I can really understand that. Not to mention the sheer pleasure that one derives from watching it. It is grace defined by chemical reaction. It is free, in its own right. It is beautiful, really, and one would be hard pressed to deny that, even as it ravages and destroys. I have always been utterly fascinated by the legend of Prometheus. A titan, he was spared the fate of some of his brethren when Zeus took over the cosmos. But that wasn't to last, as he defied Zeus and stole fire to give to man, pitying them their cold, earthly plight. For this he was severely punished. I like to imagine that he eventually escaped that rock to which he had been chained, that he was able to get away from the vulture that tormented him endlessly by eating his liver by day, leaving at night, and returning again by day to consume what had grown back. I see in Prometheus a tragic hero. He did what he felt was best, and was severely, perhaps unjustly, punished for it by the Powers-That-Be. So he took on a persona as a rebel, a freedom fighter. Not to mention his connection to fire.

So, there you see the three things, symbols, that define me, or, most nearly do. Ravens, wolves, and fire. Thinking of those things and the traits they symbolize, it wouldn't be easy for one to discern me, to see of what stuff I am made. Or, at least, a portion of it. I'm not sure what I hoped to accomplish with this blog, if anything. If nothing else, it'll help me to write, to get back in that habit and do it, to eventually get one of my many stories published. Mostly, I'm sure, I do it for me. Not to sound selfish, but this will help me get things out, off of my chest, as it were. Maybe whatever readers I attract, probably just family and close friends for the most part, can get something out of my ramblings, but who knows? I guess we shall see....