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....