Friday, August 29, 2008

and the dance continues...

This election has proven itself an elegant dance. It seems as though it's one of the most nuanced I can remember. Obama appears weak on defense? Biden. Hillary supporters seem to split the party? Clinton/Clinton speeches. McCain seems "boring"? Palin...

I look forward to seeing the VP debates. Although, having CNN tell us that her nickname in high school of "Sara Baracuda" somehow relates to how she'll perform makes me realize how crappy CNN really has become lately.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


So what have I taken away from the Democratic National Convention thus far?

this: The Governor of Montana is the coolest!! This guy is interesting, engaging, funny and can definitely talk. I've thought of moving to Montana since I first visited a few years ago. My old battle lives there and, now that I've seen this, I want to move to Montana. So, if anyone wants to marry a mexican, filipino, polish guy and buy some land out in Montana, let me know...could be fun.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CNN sucks...

I am trying to watch the convention on CNN. I have to write "trying" as opposed to leaving out that modifier because CNN would rather have commentators talk about what people are or aren't saying instead of letting them say it for themselves.

I watched as Wolf Blitzer and the "Ragin' Cajun" James Carville talked while every female Democratic Senator other than Clinton spoke. I watched as Rudy Giuliani talked while the Governors of West Virginia and two other states spoke. I watched as they showed...the band play...between two other speeches they spoke over.

They occasionally show that you can see the actual speeches online if you'd like. Or, switch to C-Span. Like me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

of lights and labels...

I noticed these notes on the light switches in my bathroom today. I believe them to have been placed by my new roommates. I find them funny because I never had trouble telling them apart when they were un-labeled. You see, before the labels, I was always sure which was the light switch because, well, when I flicked it, the lights went on instead of the fan.

I am contemplating switching the labels in the hopes that someone will flick the one labeled "lights" and wonder why there's a fan but no light being emitted. Maybe he will just sit there on the toilet thinking, "hmm, these lights are very dim, but...that's what it's labeled so it must be the right switch."


I just read an article about a woman who is 1000 lbs and accused of killing her nephew. The courts do not know what to do with her because to move her from her bed, where she needs extensive medical care, would possibly kill her. If, however, they do try her and find her guilty, then what? Imprison her? She's already imprisoned, unable to move from her bed. Strange. What punishment does one dole out to someone who has actively chosen the punishment for themselves as a lifestyle?

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Hills...v. 2.0 (ie. if the Hills and I intersected)

A few months ago, I went to Baltimore for a TDY. I was accompanied there by a few NCO's in my company (enlisted higher ranking types for those of you not in the military) and the other Lieutenants in my company. It was an odd time because one of the NCO's, who I did not know very well, felt very free in expressing her opinions, particularly about me; how I walked, talked, ate--it was all fair game. Of particular interest was when she said (unprompted actually) the following things:
  1. Sir, I didn't know you were funny.
  2. I thought you came from money.
  3. Well, you are pretty arrogant.

Thing is, these all came from a person who knew me only through occasional meetings at work. So, it made me begin to am I perceived by those who don't know me, and, more importantly, by those who do know me?

Anyway, I've been wondering about that for a while.

Onto other things which will only relate when I tie them together at the end. I like to drink. Beer is delicious. So, when offered free beer, I drink it. Some people (I am not one of them) think it is inappropriate to drink in a work setting, even when the "work setting" is mandatory fun at a bar. I, thank God, am not one of those people. Here is my theory: If I drink with friends, and I drink with family, there is no reason not to drink when offered liquor at work just because I don't want the very people who offered it to me to think poorly of me for accepting. This attitude, however, is not one shared by my other Lieutenants who, while they drink just as much as I do while at home, refuse to let people at work see them drink.

I kind of consider it a sham--if I do it in the privacy of my home, why would I hide it in public? If it's something I shouldn't do, then I shouldn't do it at home or in public, and, the reverse, if I do it at home, why hide it in public? This leads us to tonight.

There is one Lieutenant in particular in my company who is similar to me in a lot of superficial ways (and by "a lot" I mean, we both graduated West Point and got to the company at the same time). He falls into the category of people who drink in private, but not in public. Moreover, he makes it a point to make me seem like a jackass for drinking at work functions.

Tonight, we had a work function. I had three beers (give or was really two, but they were very large mugs). This was sometime around four PM. The Sergeant from part one of this post again decided to share random thoughts and told me that, while he was the "smart Lieutenant" and our friend was the "professional one" I was the "funny one".

Anyone who knows me knows that I pride myself on my intelligence. I'm not, by any means, the smartest of my friends and, in fact, consider myself toward the bottom of that list (I've never won an award, been published or otherwise done anything to distinguish myself academically, so there's that to consider). But, I do consider myself smart nonetheless.

The non-drinking Lieutenant pointed out that this bothered me, which it did, and laughed.

Some four hours later, the following text message arrived as I was watching the Olympics:

LT 1: you do realize youre [sic] a complete ass when you drink, right?

I didn't really know what to say as I hadn't had a drink is four hours, so I replied:

Me: That came out of nowhere.

LT 1: nah man. it was very clear tonight and has been in the past

Me: Then I'll assume you're drunk now because it's the only time you're this big a dick.

LT 1: nope im actually good just gettin tired of how arrogant you are

Me: At least this time you wrote it so you can't deny it like last time you were "good" and being a dick

LT 1: Nah last time ill admit was tired and drunk but now im sober and after this evening i've had time to think and i know im just tired of your arrogance.

Me: Texting is a good way to address that...assuming no one could run over a crayola note for you. Good night.

LT 1: just thought id let you know sooner than later

Now, I probably don't need to point out that the conversation went from 1. me being an ass when I'm drunk to me being arrogant in general in one large jump but 2. wtf? Who sends text messages like that? Definitely not Lieutenants in the Army, at least, I'd like to have thought that we, being college graduates, in charge of soldiers, grown adults and the like, would have come up with better ways to address our issues, but apparently not. Then again, maybe that assumption makes me arrogant. I'm not sure yet. While I haven't had a drink beyond the two mugs I had several hours ago, maybe I should have some know...just to see how big an ass I can become?

On a semi-related note, the following is a list of perceptions of myself soldiers have shared with me, which I find interesting:

  1. arrogant
  2. funny
  3. hippie
  4. angry at the world
  5. always in a good mood

Go figure. GK Chesterson once wrote about the Catholic Church that, if people say that it is both too harsh and too comforting, maybe it has struck the right balance (that is obviously a paraphrase). Considering that, and looking at the perceptions I have been told (which are, I am sure, only a sampling), then I think I'll be OK.

ups and downs.

So, it seems that every time I think I'm doing well as a Lieutenant, I do something stupid that makes me feel like I'm screwing it up again.

For example, we just had our certification, which is when some people come and watch you do your job to ensure you know wtf you're doing before you get to Iraq. It's a relatively important step and involved my team being in the field again. This meant we spent the week together, living and working with little sleep. It wasn't so bad and, in fact, I even had a bit of fun. My team worked well together and, while we set a high bar for ourselves, I think we came away feeling better prepared and more confident in our ability as a team to get the mission accomplished.

I came away feeling very good about the team, about my leadership and about how we were working.

Then, today, we had a sports day for PT. Instead of running or doing sit ups and push ups, we played a hybrid of ultimate football and soccer named Gator-ball. It's a lot of fun (we should play next time I'm in Cali everyone). Apparently, one of my soldiers got hit in the nuts and I had no idea. So, when I ran down the field and saw him standing there, not trying or not doing anything, I said, "Hey, Sergeant, why are you pouting and just standing there?" He looked at me like I was an asshole and said, as though it were an excuse, "I'm hurt." and then just stared daggers at me. So, I told him, if he was hurt, to go sit out...snidely. I implied he was making an excuse and being a pansy and, telling him to "sit out" was, in essence, telling him to either man up and play or get off the field and let everyone know he was being a sore sport.

Come to find out, after the game, that he really was hurt and he wasn't just shamming.


Now I've gotta apologize and it'll probably take me at least a week to make him think I'm not a complete jack-ass again. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Forbes loves Army!!

I'm in the field, so can't type much, but check this out kiddies...Forbes loves Army! You may notice a slightly fishy ommission from the best of list. Just another reason we Beat the hell out of Navy!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Explain to me...

Explain to me how both my new roommates are bald, but require more shampoos, soaps, lotions and ointments than I do. Or, explain how, even with less to clean on their bodies, they both take up to 45 minutes in the bathroom when they shower. I really don't understand.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I stayed up to watch the men's relay tonight...what an amazing race!

Anyone else think it would be embarassing to be Alain Bernard, who said,
The Americans? We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.

I God-Damned love America!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Be Thou At Peace...

I went to the memorial service for 2LT Girdano today. It was the first time our class has experienced the loss of one of our own. Hearing a eulogy by a classmate was very difficult and hearing him say the words to our Alma Mater again gave them more depth as he said,
Well Done, Mike. Be Thou at Peace.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sally Kern...wingnut.

Sally Kern is a wingnut. She is the crazy lady who holds office in Oklahoma. She's said some crazy stuff about gays, guns, God, religion, politics...lots of things. Here is the latest from her crazy-ass mind:
I expected to run and lose, and then be a better government teacher, but I won. My Lord made it very clear to me that I'm a cultural warrior for Judeo-Christian values...I am not saying everyone has to be Christian; this is not a homogenous nation. What you have to be is someone who believes in a Judeo-Christian ethic, in other words, in knowing there's a right and wrong. Not all lifestyles are equal; not all religions are equal. Was I saying all people are not equal? Heavens no; we were all created equal.
Now, am I to take this to mean that, while this is not a "homogenous nation" all of those who are not of the Judeo-Christian ethic (as she understands it) have a right to be here, but only so long as they recognize the superiority of Judeo-Christianity? Seriously...can anyone decipher what this means? And, what is a cultural warrior? Her and Bill O'Reilly should start a cultural fire-team since they're both cultural warriors. They can tackle the worlds big problems, like who says "Merry Christmas" and who is on a date in a city Sally Kern will never visit right now. Put aside health care, foreign relations, civic participation, civil rights, AIDS, famine and global warming and fight that fight kids...those other things are worth far more attention and effort.

Monday, August 04, 2008


I am getting closer to deployment and the reality of a year away has set in. A few months ago, we had an Officer Professional Development where all the officers in the Brigade get together and do PT and have breakfast followed by discussion about some aspect of development.

At breakfast this particular morning, I was coincidentally sitting with three other single officers, two Captains and a First Lieutenant. The discussion turned to deployment and how it is on single officers. One of the Captains went on to explain that, while everyone talks about how hard it is to be separated from husbands, wives and kids, he felt deployments were harder on single soldiers. His logic was that, while you do miss your family, you have someone to think about and someone to come home to. For the single soldier, you simply stop your life and go back to square one when you return.

I remember Adam, the friend I had who died in December, said something similar. He was home from his second deployment and it had been a while since I'd heard from him. I joked that he was behind the power curve...that his classmates had all married and started families and I wondered why he was waiting. He became almost angry and said something very out of character like "The Army just keeps screwing me." He said that, of course he wanted to start a family, but how does one do that when you've got only eleven months to meet, court and marry someone between deployments?

The Captain advised me not to try starting a relationship. Just to date around a bit instead because, as soon as the reality that you'll be gone for a year sets in, no one will want to put in the effort anyway since you'd be asking them to wait for you longer than you were together to begin with.

I didn't follow his advice and foolishly tried to date someone. As expected, my impending year away has had the expected outcome. And now, as I sit and imagine my year in Iraq, while I worry about my soldiers and my health and being away from my family...I also wonder what the next 15 months will bring me. When, upon my return, I will be in the exact same place I was in my life back in May '07. The only difference then will be my rank and pay. I'll still be alone, in the same town with the same prospects I have now. When we get back and my soldiers families are all here to welcome them, my mom and sisters will be here for me. We'll all go to dinner and then, just like now, just like in Iraq, just like when I get back, I'll go home alone.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Conversation I never thought I'd have...

So this is close to politics, actually, it is politics. So, I've failed.

Yesterday, while driving around with some cadets to go tubing, they decided to talk politics...something I try and avoid now. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, however, and let them continue. At one point, Cadet X was going on about how the McCain ad starring Paris Hilton and Britney Spears was a bad idea. Why you ask? Because, according to Cadet X, young girls would see it and then want to vote for Obama because they'd relate to the celebrities.

Um...seriously? WTF.

Later that night, I met an interesting character. He is a gay, Latino, Reserve Officer. What made him interesting (if not that?) He is a massive fan of the President and repeatedly argued with me that he'd rather have "Bush than Kerry or Bush than Obama." That was a direct quote. I pointed out that it didn't matter if he'd rather have Bush than Obama because it's not a choice he even has the option of making but that didn't seem to phase him. When I pointed out all the reasons that the, what is it, 72% of people who aren't happy with the President are on the right side of the fence he just looked at me dumbly. When I pointed out that, as a gay, Latino officer, he pretty much had the most to lose of anyone alive in America today following the same political path we've been on, he again just looked at me like I was speaking French.

Strange really. I've always imagined the die-hard Bush supporters as the caricatures painted of them in the media and whatnot and here I run into one, like an endangered bird in the wild, only to find out how ignorant I've been.


I haven't owned a TV in a while, so I've grown accustomed to a house devoid of the steady hum of a television. My roomate, however, is the opposite. There is a large television in the living room, one in the office, one in the guest room and one in his room. Upon entering the house, he turns on the TV in the living room before going to his room. Most of his time is spent in the living room where, even if he's on the internet, the television is on simply as background noise.

I don't think he actually watches the TV unless he's watching a DVD. I believe this for two reasons, the first being because he's normally doing something else (internet, phone, both) while sitting in front of it and because it rarely ever changes in station from the time it's turned on. Today was Bravo.

I thought I'd watch a bit as I cooked and ate dinner and this is what I saw over the two hours I spent in the kitchen and living room: 1. a show about cutting hair 2. a show about other shows 3. a show about rich kids in LA 4. a show about a rich guy in LA. Between these offerings were advertisements for other shows...about cooking, decorating, sewing, rich women in LA, and reality shows about one of the rich women from LA.

Seriously? Is this what people do for fun? Dear Lord I fear for the future.

Friday, August 01, 2008

quick update

So it's become clear I am slacking in posting with quite a bit worthy of writing about lately. I went to the field for two weeks where we supported a training mission for First Cav and, afterwards, fired my platoon sergeant. For those of you in the military (are there any who read this?) you know this is not a decision taken lightly. Until I have someone to replace him, I have to lean heavily on a soldier of lower rank, but I am comfortable doing so. The soldier who is acting Platoon Sergeant right now is extremely qualified and I have complete confidence in him. What I am worried about is the quality of the soldier who will replace him. I do not get to choose or vet the NCO's who may come to the company, so it is entirely possible that whomever comes next will be as bad or worse than the first...but I am hoping for the best.

In other news, my car stopped. I don't know which came first, the oil draining or the coolant draining, but in any case, the car was devoid of liquids and the engine seized. It is currently at the dealership and I am gathering cans to pay for whatever it is that is fixed...assuming it is fixable. If it is not, lord only knows what I'll do then.