Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanks, ABWF...

... the check's in the mail.

You know that deal that you do when walking in say, a hallway, down a sidewalk or wherever when you just about run into someone? Yeah, the ole, half-shuffle to the left, lean right, grin/nod, juke left & turn right, say, "thank you for the dance" and mosey on your way- all movements, of course, mirror-imaged by the other person?

I about did that while running this morning, with a van... sort of.

So there I was, running at my usual easy pace of a five minute mile, only a 20lb pack on my back, invigorated by the fresh air and exercise, breezing along for the adoring ladies- aw heck, who'm I kidding...

I was gamely trying for the wheezy-shuffle that would only somewhat disgust my sense of pt proprietary while praying for a stroke, compound fracture in a non-painful area, or good-sized meteor that would give me a reasonable excuse to slow down, stop, pass-out, or die - when I noticed the van. I was 'running' on the pavement towards the occasional oncoming traffic of my subdivision, the van was parked on my side of the road and would have been facing me had I not been looking down the ground wondering how bad it really would hurt to take a swan dive from a standing elevation. Ok, not so much concerned with pain (already had that, I was 'running'), but whether or not it would knock my ass out...

As the community is still fairly new, there's quite a few houses that are always being built at any time. Lots of electrician vans, cable-co. vehicles, workers in their personal trucks, flat-beds, and whatnot. The van facing me pulled away from the curb. Now, instead of doing the sensible thing and say, taking two steps to the left and getting my butt up on the curb (too high, what the hell, obstacle course), I did the whole crazy-assed lurch to the right / *pant* / lean left while moving even more right / *wheeze* / realize you're getting close to center-of-the-road-with-no-idea-who's-behind-you (Bad Idea) / all while continuing my 'run'. Finally, I more or less resigned / celebrated the idea of getting squished by the van and came to a stop, in the dead center of the road.

Turns out the driver of the cable-van was an old Marine buddy of mine.

We both paused for the 'squint, tilt-head, slight point, and mutter an expletive' thing...

I've run into buddies on different bases here in the States, a couple of guys in Iraq, one on the strip in Vegas, and one in a hotel lobby in Austin. It was pretty cool, catching up on who was still in, who where & doing what. Trips me out to hear about crazy Lance Criminals that are not the senior Sergeants running the show.

Best part about it? Got to stop and chat w/o totally killing the runner's high I had going on...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas, Shmistmas

That's right, I said it!

Snot even Thanksgiving yet, and I'm already getting this stuff in my inbox. Might as well have some fun with it...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Coal dust.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree.

3. When do you put up the tree?
As late as possible, after much hints, suggestions, requests, nagging, demands, and threats.

4. When do you take the tree down?
See above.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I love it mixed with whiskey, hold the eggnog. Make it a double.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
World Peace.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Baby Cheeses?

8. Easiest person to buy for? Moi. All I want for Christmas is Salma Hayek.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
We gotta do that nowadays?

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
AK-47 bullets.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Scrooged, Bad Santa, and... uh, Mrs. Claus and the North Pole.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Eh, for this year or last?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Ah, there is such thing as a stupid question!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas
? See answer to question # 5. Bring me two.

16. Lights on the tree?
Lights? Dang, next thing I know, you'll want something shiny on top...

17. Favorite Christmas song?
The indisputable classic, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
Travel to the fridge, couch, and bed. Repeat as necessary.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?
Let's see, there's Jerky, Medium-Rare, Venison, Fajita Fixins, Tenderloin (?)... aw shucks, guess not.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
My extended family has toddlers and small cats & dogs. We're lucky if we can piece together the remnants.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Crowds and bills... and realizing you don't have enough ammo to deal with both.

23. What theme or color are you using?
Bah Humbug Blood-Red.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner- See answer #5 Get the good stuff!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
See answer #5. Just leave me the bottle.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What the heck was he thinking?

So a buddy and I were talking about the current political situation and related news about a week back.

Inevitably, the conversation turned to our President-elect.

He's a wee bit more pro-O. than I, but neither of us begrudge the other for our differing views, too much, at least...

I was kind of surprised when, after about 10 minutes or so he made a comment in the vein of, " doesn't really matter how much I like to see the first Black President, 'cause someone's bound to try and take the brotha down n' out, ya know?"

[scratching record sound here]

"Really, you think so?"

He answered in the affirmative.

I might be pessimistic in some ways, but I'm not nearly that pessimistic..

I tried countering that by emphasizing the value of the Secret Service. I spoke about the group as being for the most part well trained, thoroughly vetted, highly motivated and dedicated outfit true to their mission. I told him that with their level of training, standard OCD level of anxiety in every aspect of what they do- hell, it'd almost be worth it (in an academic training sense) to see some turd begin to try something. Of course anything can happen at any time, but I'd be willing to wager that there's a fairly good chance that they'd perform exceedingly well, succeeding at their mission, letting nothing get in their way of accomplishing their tasks, no disctractions whatsoever, driving straight on through...



Down Time, Clips, and a Doh!

I was cruising through the MC Times the other day, when I read this.

Pretty nifty, huh.

Especially nice when they talk about service members and loved ones being able to communicate about babies first steps, birthday parties, and the like.

Obviously, this memory isn't about such wholesome and family friendly things. Heck no, this one's about what they don't allow on the family friendly channel...

I might've mentioned before that some of the guys would take digital video and pictures out on patrol. I don't remember this ever being something that was officially sanctioned, but the fact was that it was eventually commonly accepted as part of the information gathering process. For the most part, all knew when it was appropriate to have a camera out and when it wasn't. Also, it was much, much easier to pass over a memory card at the debrief rather than try to describe familiar tattoos on bodies or suspicious drawings and arabic writings. We'd much rather take personally owned equipment rather than take what would have been the military issued, gen 1, 25 pound, rarely functioning, often assed-up, Camera: Picture, Polaroid, 1.

Heh, '... for the most part...'

I remember one stop we made to the guys up north. If I remember correctly, we were delivering misdirected mail and dropping off a repaired hummer. We pulled into the staging area, got all the vehicles topped off, and I sent the guys to grab some chow while I checked in with the CO. After a fairly uneventful debrief and a little chewing of the fat with some of the staff, I grabbed a bite and wandered the area looking for some buddies I hadn't seen in awhile. I poked my head into one of the squad rooms.

"Hey, anybody know where y'alls squad leader is?"

Their eyes were rooted to the tv show they were watching. One guy pointed vaguely 'upstairs', another grunted something sounding like 'farther back down this hallway', and one guy farted.

Good times.

As it turned out, they weren't really watching a tv show, but an episode of Combat's Funniest Videos. Not familiar with that program? Lemme 'splain...

When I mentioned that most guys knew when to have the camera in their hands and when to have a rifle, well, that was correct. See, after all the hoopla has passed is the time to bust out the cameras for the record. Angles of approach, maps, id, uniforms, weapons, vehicles, anything and everything that can possibly help the intel weenies should be noted, and in detail. When the enemy is attacking well, let's just say not the best time to record, unless...

Apparently one of the guys in the squad I visited had hit on an idea. He had a fairly lightweight camera and a number of spare batteries. He was a Lance Corporal, so he managed to 'acquire' an extra helmet cover and a bunch of zip ties. He trimmed some helmet cover material with his bayonet and used his sewing kit to fashion cammo covers for his camera. He then affixed his camera to his helmet. Other than taking a little extra care getting into and out of his vehicle, he was good to go. No hands necessary after pushing the record button.

What resulted was a little bit documentary, a bit of COPS, and a whole lotta funny.

There was a passable Aussie accent when recording a pair of mutts going at it, some shaky footage of a Marine taking a deuce, and a short while later, the ambush. It was pretty standard as far as ambushes went back then, a bunch of amateurs with beat-to-hell weapons and questionable tactics, but his voice during the attack was what made it memorable. While narrating the video, he was grinning and chuckling as well and trying to explain his thoughts during his hasty nose dive out of the vehicle (not tripped, 'hasty vehicular dismount'). His running commentary of, 'ohshitohshitohshitohshit' as he ran to a building (talking to himself whilst trying to keep attempting to gain personnel accountability, not freaking out), and his high-pitched "Aiiiieeee" was a rallying cry/way cry (and most definitely NOT a 9-year old girl shriek).

It was a 9 year-old little girl shriek - trust me, I kno... - er, I'm pretty sure...

Hey! Who's laughing in the Back? Rambo? Well, ok then... the rest of y'all, tell me how you do the first time downrange!

Anyways, fast forwarding to a half-dozen months in the future, and I was sitting in my parents living room, my assorted bags scattered around, and my mom's toy poodle humping my leg.

Ah, the good old days...

Dad was really keen on getting ahold of all of the pictures and clips that I had collected on my all expenses paid trip to fun in the sun for his collection and for distribution to family. I don't think I had yet confessed that the one collection of pictures I had sent of a hummer hit in an IED attack was actually my hummer, but it was coming, I'm sure. Anyways, we were both on the couch, his laptop on his lap, and mine on mine. I was pulling discs from the pouch, inserting them into my laptop, getting a rough idea what was on it, and handing it over to him for copying. My part of the process was quicker than his, so he had a nice pile of discs waiting to be copied. He still noted when I subtly slipped a few discs back into the pouch. "What're those discs?" "What discs?" "The ones you just put back." "Oh, those. Those're nothing, just some ah,... recreational stuff." "Recrea... sure...."

Eventually, I got kind of lazy and began relying on the label details of what was on one of the discs. During the deployment I had eventually gotten detailed about what was on the discs, dates, names, and all of that. The last two discs weren't actually even anything I had taken, but some discs that other Battalions had handed out. Our Battalion had approached the end of our tour at the same time as some others, and during the inevitable down time that always happened back in the rear, we managed to trade a number of discs back and forth. Gave each other a rough idea of what else was going on in the greater AO while we were each in town.

I asked Dad if he wanted 'em, he said 'sure', and I handed 'em over.

It was only a couple of hours later that I remembered what one of those discs contained. The Battalion Disc in question had compiled a bunch of video sources together on one disc, voted on by popularity by its Marines. There were the standard combat ops, down time funny stuff, and some miscellaneous stuff towards the end. There was no question in why one clip at the end was hugely popular; apparently, one lonely soldier (female type) had decided to make a clip of herself... er, dancing around to Marvin Gaye's 'Lets Get It On', I seem to remember. I guess it was pretty warm in the can, 'cause she was pretty scantily clad at the end of the clip, you could say.

Very nice.

Wonder if Dad ever got that far in the disc...?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Did You Really Think I Wouldn't Notice?

Hmmm, how to phrase this...


If you take a gander over to the left, you'll see a bunch of really neat blogs, some interesting reading material, and my archives (if you're really a glutton for punishment).

The only link that I think is somewhat close to an advertisement is for a charity. I've got nothing against other folks posting links for profit - their blog, their rules. As for my blog well, I never say never, but not at this time...

I've been kind of freewheeling with my other links, 'cause that's what it appears to me that most other folks do - see something cool, link to 'em and write about it.

For the record, anybody out there that doesn't really want me linking to them in my posts or on my front page- no problem, drop me a line and I'll respect your wishes.

I'll comment on the occasional post - not nearly as many as I should, I know, but my blog feeder is getting out of control - so I suppose that technically, there's a link from some of my comments back to this site. What I don't do is comment on other folks' blogs with my comment consisting of nothing more than an advertisement for my little blog.

I got a comment / request recently, asking me to post a link to an on-line DVD shop. This didn't bother me much - someone asked a question, and I answered. Hell, I was somewhat flattered that someone out there thought that my stuff might actually toss them enough traffic to make a difference- but I declined.

Now, maybe I'm being a little sensitive here, long(ish)-term readers might understand the significance of the end of this month, so when I got a comment notification on a post for almost a year ago, I was most definitely not pleased to see a friggin' comment / link / advertisement.

I had comment notification.

I will now try to figure out how to do comment moderation to hopefully prevent this sort of... thing in the future.

In the event the posters of the above mentioned comments can't catch a clue if I crammed it up their rear - sideways, and sans dinner, drinks, or lube -, any of my blog savvy readers out there know how to delete undesirable comments? There's gotta be a way...

I do very much appreciate most all other mails and comments- funny, punny, questioning commiserating, hell- even the odd 'hey, dumbass...' ones.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Just Another Day In Paradise, Pt1


All the vehicles were in more or less a decent position for the terrain, overwatches set, and no (major) issues to deal with. I still wasn't exactly sure what was going on, just that higher had sent word to stop the patrol and hold position for further developments. We had diverted from patrolling the MSR (Main Supply Route) and basically set up camp in the middle of nowhere to wait... and wait... and for some more variety, wait some more. In between monitoring the radios, some of my guys were talking about their fondly remembered conquests. Business as usual. At least they weren't acting out these heroic adventures or taking, uh... matters in their own hands... er, that I knew of, at least. The sun was setting (again), so nothing was for sure, of course.

I rolled over to the convoy net to see if there was something going on there that I needed to know about, like a particularly large convoy or anyone that had found an IED in our area...


I keyed my squad radio.

"All victors go to 50%, driver primary, VCs (Vehicle Commanders) to my victor." After my guys showed up we had a short talk about the situation (standby to standby), the patrol (loooong hours, and counting), and the fact that I at least wanted my drivers to catch a few zzzs so they didn't almost kill anybody, again. None of the VCs had anything for me, so they went to their vehicles to wait for the word. I started rummaging in my vehicle for my etool and my personal Roll of Life (toilet paper - ain't no way I was gonna use the MRE-supplied 'paper', nuh-uh).

One wise-ass asked, "Gonna take a dump, Sergeant?"

I glanced down at my tp and shovel. "Nope, gonna make a surrender flag and call it a night, Einstein."

He chuckled and returned to his story, this time with girlie voices and sound effects.

Dang, his chick voice is starting to sound pretty good... it's definitely been a long deployment.

Ask any Marine about what's the quickest way to interrupt a perfectly good period of boredom and they'll tell you;

1) Light up a smokey treat.


2) Pop a squat (in pitch-black darkness, no less).

I was about half-way through #2 (ha!) when, of course, we got the word to move.

ME: Comeon!, ya bastard...

RADIO: [stage whisper] Hey, Sergeant, we got the word from higher, gotta go! Sergent! You over there?

ME: [groan/whimper]

RADIO: [chuckling] You ok, Sergeant? What's the hold up?

ME: Jale... peno... [pant,pant]... chee... ese.

Gingerly climbing back into my hummer and easing into my seat, I asked what the word was. My radio man rogered up and told me that we were to return to the FOB for an escort of Psycho.


Back at the FOB, the new XO introduced me to the Sergeant First Class in charge of the Psychological Operations (Psycho) team. The good Sergeant nodded his head and said, "Bob", as introduction. I shook his hand, grinned, and introduced myself, "Sergeant". First name basis completed, he informed me that he needed us to escort him to a general location, east of the city that regularly lobbed little forget-me-nots over to our FOB. In response to my general inquiry as to what generally they'd be doing at said general location, he smiled and said "Psychological operations".


We spit-balled a few ideas for the escort, a somewhat more specific location for the op, and set a departure time in just under an hour. XO added the standard stuff, the good Sergeant had rank, but I was responsible for his ass to and fro the objective. At the party he was the man, and I was to help out wherever I could. No stickyfingered Marines near the soldiers' hummer, for security and common decency reasons. There was still more than enough time to pass the word, for my guys to raid the chow room for midrats (midnight rations), and still leave us all enough time to transit to our position to arrive on schedule at zero dark thirty.

"On the road again..."

Exiting the FOB again, this time with the Psycho vehicle in our train, we meandered on a somewhat scenic route to our destination. As it was about 0300 hrs and we were driving sans lights there really wasn't too much scenery to be had, but it was definitely not the straightest route, that's for sure.

Our route to approach the city included taking the hardball for the last few miles to our objective. As we crossed the last of the dunes and began our approach to the road, I started to pick out where I wanted to get on in the green blur of my NVGs. This was pretty important, because it would really ruin my day to get blown up before we even got the job done, you know. I directed my driver to the area I wanted, hopped out of the hummer, and walked up to the road. Not seeing anything particularly suspicious in the shoulder of the road, I marked where I wanted my vehicles to get on the road and started jogging in the direction of the city. One by one, my vehicles and that of Psycho climbed the berm of the road and turned after me.

Hopping back into my seat, I told my driver to keep the speed slow, as to allow all of the vehicles to get onto the road without too much space between us. I grabbed the mike and told my trail VC to advise me when they were on the road and ready to step. Meanwhile, my vehicle was proceeding forward at what would be a fast walking pace. My last vehicle finally climbed onto the road and rogered up that they were good to go. I was responding to his information when, from out of the pitch-black darkness, a huge friggin' deamonbeast of a mutt decided to stick his snout in my window and express his displeasure at my presence, loudly, vigorously, and with much snapping of teeth.

To my credit, I avoided shrieking like a girl (much), and even managed to restrain myself from okaying a MK19 expenditure. Thankfully, that was about the extent of excitement on the whole ride over there.

At the objective, well, it got a bit more interesting...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ah Yes...

The day has come again when I spend half of the day setting the clocks in my cars' radios, stove, micro, clocks, alarms, watches... and the other half trying to set the VCR (yup, still got one). I usually spend the whole day looking at the time and thinking, 'what time is - oh... hold on, did I set that one, yet?'

What always makes it interesting (aside from periodically discovering various time pieces throughout the next few days n' weeks and the inevitable one in April or May), is finally figuring out that I've reset the time on a few items that have already automatically switched over... again, and that I've set a few clocks twice.

A small price to pay, all in all, for the extra hour of sleep.

That other one, that cold & mean bastard who steals an hour? Well, that's just cruel.