Monday, November 27, 2006

Just Another Short Update of Sorts

Well everyone, I thought I'd post a quick update about the house situation. We spent most of two days digging the holes for the deck support columns. Now, the reason it took most of two days to dig ten holes is because the ground is frozen. Well, any smart person would have done this before it got so cold you would think and in fact that was our plan. But if you remember the problems we had with the concrete guy, you would know that this was supposed to be done about two months ago. Before it got so damn cold. Yeah yeah, I know, I should let go of the resentment for the concrete guy, but if it weren't for the fact that there was no good reason for his delays (other than he over extended himself and kept putting us off to do bigger, more lucrative jobs) I would let it go. But now it's costing me even more money cause the increased labor (things just take longer when it's cold out) involved. --sigh--

BTW, it took over six hours to dig two holes 1 foot wide and 32 inches deep. Yeah, that was WITH a power auger...

On the plus side, while we were digging, a HUGE buck was walking around the hill and across the driveway. I'll post some pics of him in a day or two. If I were still a hunter, I would have been in heaven. I seem to have lost the urge to kill these wonderful creatures. I'm not anti-hunting, I just would rather hunt them with a camera these days. I do still enjoy venison when folks offer me some!

One of my neighbors parked his horse trailer on our place for a few days while he packed up into his hunting camp. He told me that early one morning he saw a bear sitting in our driveway next to his truck/trailer rig. I'm gonna be so happy when we finally get to move in! Spending hours just looking out over the meadow and creek watching the wildlife...

I don't get much better my friends, it just don't :).

Stop by if you're in the neighborhood! Cheers


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wlcome Home, and Welcome Back

There are few writers that can bare their souls so completely and honestly that you KNOW and FEEL what they're going through. Red 2 Alpha has that gift. I am a reader, I'm not a writer. He is, and he is back.

I have no idea how hard it is to open up the way he does, but I'm glad he does. No one gives a better insight into the humanity of the combat soldier/vet. I mentioned him previously here and now he is back to writing here. Stop by and read his work, you Will. Be. Moved.

Oh yeah, I can't keep forgetting to remind you to donate to Soldiers Angels "Project Valour IT"; there has never been a more worhty cause. Ever. I don't give a rats a$$ what your political affiliation is, or what your view of the war is; the bottom line is this: we owe our vets, especially those who are wounded, all the support we can give. Put your money where your mouth is and SUPPORT our troops. If we would all give a little money, or time, as opposed to lip service, we can support each and every one of them. Its the least we can do.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Has It Really Been Two Months??

Where does the time go? Well, for me it seems to be a blur of dealing with contrators, a new job, new community (even though I grew up here) and tons of other trivial matters that seem to swallow up my days.

As you may remember, we'er building a new house that apparently is made of platinum or gold. The problem with living here in the sticks is that materials cost about 3 times what I'm used to. Had I known, I would have rented an 18 wheeler and driven to Durango to pick up my ow materials. Oh well! And remember how um, "upset" I was that the concrete took so long? Well, I still am, cause now the builders are dealing with snow and cold weather which means slower work. Also, we had to rent a house since the fuel cost to heat our RV over the winter would be more than the rent. On the plus side, the rental is a little old farm house with lots of deer hanging out in the fields every morning and night, so to quote Bill Murray, "I have that going for me; which is nice."

I promised Barn Goddess some pics, so here you are. I hope you like them!

Nice huh?

Taken today...

From the rental a few weeks ago

In honor of the Goddess; these guys belong to one of my customers. I tried to catch the one on the right as he was bucking across the field, but as soon as I stopped my truck, he came over to check if I had any treats for him LOL!

I would like to say I'll do better at posting, but I don't know if I will or not. I want too, but life sometimes gets in the way. Check back in, you never know when I'll show up! Till then friends, be good!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I Remember, I Can't Forget

It started out as just another normal day; the weather was nice, not perfect, but not bad. The sky was blue with only a few high altitude clouds. It would be a full day of flying for our squadron of F-16s. Again, nothing really out of the ordinary; we had a full schedule planned and my job as the Lead Production Superintendent or Pro Super, was to ensure we had all the jets covered with appropriate mechanics. Their job was to either support the active flying or fix those that had mechanical problems. Just another day…

I spent the early morning like all others; in a meeting going over the condition and plan for each of our 27 assigned jets. Little did I or any of us know how the world was changing while we discussed aircraft status. After the meeting, I went out to my truck to get the daily work started. I was coordinating with the mechanics the who, what and where we would do that day when we had an odd radio call. “Attention all radios this net, this is the MOC (Maintenance Operations Center) with an announcement. All local flying has been cancelled; please respond with your call sign.” “Rude 1 copies” I replied but didn’t really think much about it. Cancelling flying is rare, but not uncommon in the military, but usually I have an idea of why; bad weather, an accident or something like that. This day however, I was just thankful we didn’t have to worry about flying our schedule, but could instead; focus our efforts on the several jets that needed maintenance. Boy was I in for a shock.

I still didn’t have any idea what was going on since I didn’t have the radio on. In my truck, I had to listen to two tactical radios and use my cell phone, so I didn’t play the radio. I was briefing my supervisors about the change in the schedule when another odd radio call interrupted me…”Attention all radios this net, this is the MOC with an announcement. Implement THREATCON BRAVO. I repeat implement THREATCON BRAVO. Please respond with your call sign, MOC out.” “Rude 1” I said then wondered aloud if there was an exercise I wasn’t aware of. I told my supervisors to get moving with BRAVO procedures, and then went over to a Security Policeman driving around the flightline. I asked him if he knew what was going on, but he was as clueless as I was. I couldn’t really call the MOC to ask, since they were probably eye-ball deep in what ever was happening, besides, I knew I would be briefed soon enough. Right now, we just needed to follow orders and get things done.

About ten minutes later, the Chief of Maintenance came out to my truck and started talking about smoke boiling out of the Pentagon. I thought he was talking metaphorically, you know, I pictured all the Generals with smoke coming out of their ears as they worked some issue. I still didn’t know. Then he talked about the crash into the WTC. “What the hell are you talking about?” I asked. “You haven’t heard? Where have you been?” he asked. Out here doing my job, now what the hell is going on?” He told me we were under attack. I couldn’t comprehend what he was telling me, so I went into our ready room and saw the images of the second plane flying into the south tower. I was stunned for about 20 seconds, then knew we needed to get focused and be ready for whatever tasking we would receive.

I immediately called my supervisors together and had them round everyone up and form them up in the hangar. I needed to talk to them. I don’t really remember what I said, but it was along the lines of “Our country is under attack. We need to put our personal thoughts and feelings aside and focus on what we’re trained to do.” “Anyone with family in NYC or Washington, get with your supervisors after the brief.” “I know you’re worried about them, but I’m sure you won’t be able to get through to them for a day or two, so try to contact them, but don’t focus on it.” I told them to focus on what we needed to do to get our jets combat ready. We’re trained and ready, let’s show them so when the commanders start looking for jets; we’re right at the top, ready to roll.

I told the supervisors to keep an extra eye on anyone with family in the area, not to let happening. I told them to let everyone take breaks when they needed to get updated on what was happening, but to make sure they didn’t forsake their jobs. I didn’t need to worry since our biggest problem was getting folks to take breaks; no one wanted to stop working. Those men and women, some no more than pimple faced kids, had to be ordered to eat or rest. These people were (ARE) DEDICATED. I was so proud of each and every one of them, and humbled to have been leading them.

We got our jets ready and were standing at the ready, wondering what our tasking would be. Since I was the Lead Pro Super, I had to attend the pilots briefing to let them know what the status of our fleet was. As I sat there, listening to the latest intel I couldn’t help but feel for the first time in my life, that I was glad I wasn’t a fighter pilot. I looked at their faces as they were briefed on the possibility and rules of engagement of engaging and firing on an unarmed airliner. I couldn’t read their expressions, but know they had to be conflicted inside. I know they would have performed their duty had they been tasked, but was praying they wouldn’t have to. Thank God they didn’t.

The rest of the day was a mixture of meetings, giving and taking orders, and praying. Praying for the victims, praying for our leaders, praying for those who would be asked to go into harms way. Yes, it was only a few hours since the towers fell, but I know we would be sending folks into harms way.

Later that night, after working a 17 hour day, I was able to call my wife. She was on her Air National Guard weekend and 500 miles from home. She told me they had been on a C-130 getting ready to fly a training mission, when they suddenly shut down the engines and told to get off the plane and return to their squadron. After they were briefed, they went into action putting together emergency response kits (her unit is and Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) and verifying everyone’s qualifications in case they were called to help. She too had a very long day and told me the folks in her squadron were just as dedicated and focused as mine were. I had no doubt about that; the people who serve, whether active duty or Guard or Reserve, are a patriotic, dedicated, honorable population. I’m humbled to be in their company.

While talking with my wife that night, we finally allowed ourselves to grieve. We cried on each others shoulder, even though it was over a phone line. We prayed together. We cried together. We comforted each other.

Since that day, we keep the victims, their families, and those in harms way in our daily prayers. We refuse to forget; please don’t forget either.


Hey all,
I know I don't have to remind any of you to stop at some point today and remember/reflect on this day only five short years ago. We can't allow ourselves to forget those who were taken so violently that day.

I'm looking for a piece I wrote about my experience that horrible day, but haven't found it yet. It's probably on the computer that's still in storage. Anyway, please leave your thoughts/recollections from that day, and I'll post mine as soon as I find it.

Be good everyone

Friday, September 01, 2006

Progress and Illness

This picture was inspired by the one and only Barngoddess. I drive past these two almost everyday and just love how they stay together and look so much alike. I hope to have my own soon... :)

Hey everyone, just a quick note about the trials and tribulations here in the land O Rude.

We are making progress on the house, the garage walls are formed and concrete (the first layer) is going in today, but still not very happy with this clown.

I've spent the last three days (nights actually)taking care of a sick dog... Poor guy has been having "accidents" on the floor cause he just cant hold it. I hope this isnt too graphic, but "explosive" is the only way to describe it. The vet thinks its a change in diet, but I dont think so. Wish me luck with the poor guy.

Here's a couple of fawns running down the fairway at the local golf course.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Why I love It Here

These folks were heading to the local laundromat believe it or not...

This guy ran across the road in front of me the other night while I was driving up to our building site. This is why I carry a camera with me all the time now!

This place really makes me happy! Ya'll come visit sometime!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I aint daid yet!

Hello all!
I am not speaking from beyond the grave, although sometimes it seems that way. Things have been a nightmare lately and I have ignored one of the few things I really didnt want too; my blog. So, here is my attempt to fix that little oversight!

First, I have to thank the lovely Barngoddess for stopping in and reminding me to write; her comment on my last post made me open my eyes and remember the really neat friends I've made here on the web. I still don't know why anyone would read my drivel, but Im glad some do. I really miss interacting with you all and will REALLY try and do better.

Okay, so here's a bit of the hell I call life right now. Remember the new house we're building? The one we wanted to start in May so we could move in before winter? The one that we have been planning and trying to cover all the hidden pitfalls over the last YEAR? The one that is supposed to fit inside the hole in the picture from two posts ago? Remember that house? youdo? Good. Here's an update... We just got the concrete footers in YESTERDAY. We have been waiting for the concrete for SEVEN F'ING WEEKS! Sure, we've had some rain, but not enough to delay more than 3-4 days TOPS. No, what we have is a concrete guy who keeps putting our work off cause he has bigger, more lucrative jobs keep popping up. I told my wife day before yesterday that if he wasnt there yesterday, I was going to have him come pull his forms out and bring in someone else. He must be telepathic, cause there he was, pouring the beginning of our concrete. Now, he has to pour the walls yet, which I told him better bee done by mid week next week, or I was getting someone else to finish it.

Here's the funny part (to me anyway); see, this is a small house. We're going to live in it for 2-3 years and then build our final home. It is going to be VERY BIG! about 3 times the concrete work as this one. Now, this small one has almost $30,000 just in concrete, not a bad chunk of change for the concrete guy. The bigger house will have about 90frickinthousanddamndollars in concrete work. Okay, here's the funny part I was telling you about. Guess who doesn't have a chance in HELL of getting that job? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Take that you sorry SOB. Oh yeah, I think I might just wait about 7 weeks to write acheck for this one! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Im sorry, I hope my language and evil laughter doesn't offend anyone...wait, actually, if it does, well, tough! LOL

Anyway, so here we are, living in a 30' RV (two adults and two big dogs) and I have to say, it's getting on our nerves. Not to mention the fact that we wanted to start this house in May so we wouldn't have to live in the RV in the winter... Now, we're 2-3 weeks away from first frost and all we have done is the damn garage floor. Somehow, I think we'll be in the RV when snow comes... ((SIGH))

So, if anyone needs any concrete work done in the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado, talk to me first and I'll tell you who NOT to hire.

I feel much better now, so Im gonna go drive up to the property and sit in the middle of my new concrete floor. Till next time kiddos!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is Ethanol the Answer?

My brain sometimes drives me nuts; I have thoughts that bounce around just about every subject. Things like ethanol fuel; I was just watching TV and saw an ad for Ford (yuck) and they were bragging about building 250,000 vehicles that run on ethanol fuel that's "...grown in the heartland." They show a farmer loading bushels of corn into his truck and everyone thinks "wow, that's so great; ethanol is the answer to our oil woes." Everyone except me I guess.

You see, I have a knack for seeing things from different angles; I don't do it consciously, I'm just able to see things differently than most. This served me very well in the later years of my military career. In the early years it tended to get me in trouble with my superiors since it seemed I was "questioning" them. Anyway, eventually I learned how to tactfully bring my thoughts to the table and they started listening to me. Anyway, I digress, so back to the "ethanol as the answer" dilemma.

Yes, ethanol is an alternative fuel that can help EASE our oil burden, but it cannot replace oil without a huge negative impact on the global food chain. Follow me here; the amount of corn needed to produce enough ethanol to supply even a fraction of the population, would tie up most of our crop-land. I did some digging and found out that it would take 11 acres of crop-land to fuel one car for one year. That same 11 acres can produce enough food for seven people for one year. Another interesting tidbit is production costs; it currently costs approximately $1.75 to produce one gallon of ethanol compared to $.95 per gallon of gasoline. Oh, and it takes 70% more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than that same gallon holds (131,000 BTUs to produce one gallon that will put out 77,000 BTUs). Pretty staggering huh?

There’s another problem; land is a finite commodity, and agricultural land is even harder to come by. The available land for agricultural use is getting smaller every day; farms and ranches are being sold to real estate developers at an alarming rate. Let’s face it, the planet is getting smaller, and if we use it to produce a product that we don’t need to survive, to me is a bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for reducing our dependence on foreign oil and alternative fuel research, but I don’t think taking food off the table to put gas in the tank is a smart move. This is especially true when we have vast un-tapped oil fields available.

I can hear some of the arguments already; how big oil is gouging since it only costs $.95 a gallon to make, and we can’t drill for new oil because it will ruin the environment. Keep in mind that the $.95 is only the production (refinement) cost per gallon of gas and doesn’t include costs like overhead, research, taxes, profit, etc. Yes I said profit, but keep in mind, the oil companies only operate with a 7 – 9% profit margin, which is actually pretty low. As for drilling issues, the U.S. does more than any other nation to ensure the environmental impacts are kept to a minimum. Think about this; the U.S. is not allowed to drill new oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico because of our environmental laws, yet now Cuba is going to be drilling within 20 miles of our shores. Don’t you think the U.S., with our technology and the EPA, would be more apt (and capable) to protect the environment while drilling than some third world country?

Well, I’ve gotten off on a tangent again, so I’ll quit my rant. The bottom line is that ethanol is not the answer. It’s a start, but we need to take a hard look at the ramifications before jumping on the band wagon. Just something to think about.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Hole...

Well, our hole has gotten bigger, but due to the rain we desperately need, the concrete has been delayed. At least it's getting closer, but I sure hope we're able to move in before winter... --sigh--

Anyway, here's a picture of our hole (the dog is NOT taking a dump; he was afraid to come down the slope!) taken a week or so ago.

The other pic is the view we will have from the house. You can see the creek and the nice green spot is a natural spring where deer, elk, and antelope like to hang out at night. Not to bad huh? :)

Okay, more to come; stay tuned kiddies!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I'm so ashamed... :)

I haven't posted in so long and I feel terrible about it. So, I'll try and put down a few of the more important things bouncing around in my cranium...

First, let me tell you I'm totally impressed with the Dodge warranty service. When the Rude Ram went down a couple weeks ago, she was towed to the dealership, repaired and returned in less than 48 hours. Out here in the sticks, that's pretty good! And it only cost me the $100 deductible. Needless to say, I was very happy.

I have some pics I need to post; the other day I was up at the building sight and the neighbor from down the road was moving his cattle up to pasture. I sat there and watched as the cowboys and girls drove the heard right up the road and past our place. I thought how cool it was to sit and watch the poetry as these wranglers moved a herd in the same way it's been done for centuries. I love being back here!

We have a HOLE! LOL, the excavation has begun on the new house and we should be having the concrete poured very soon. It's hard to believe that our house is actually being built! Well, almost, but we have a well, a road, a hole, and next week we'll have a septic system! Yee-haw! Now as long as we can be done and moved in by winter I will be One. Happy. SOB!

In other news, my new business is starting to take off. We've had a lot of winter-kill out here with both the alfalfa crops and the turf grasses. Hopefully, we can get them re-established and have some happy customers.

I also wanted to do a mini-blogrole post to throw some kudos out to my peeps LOL. So, remember, this is just the first of many of these to get out my impressions of my favorite bloggers. Those on my side bar will eventually all be named, but this is just a starter...

Desult is responsible for me blogging at all. We started a friendship over email and she encouraged me to post some of my writing. I still don't know what she was thinging! LOL. Anyway, I admire the hell out of her for many reasons, one of which was her willing to change her lifestyle by joining the military. She is a driven and accomplished young lady who will go very very far. She just needs to trust in herself a bit more. Oh, and she's frickin HOT too :)

Speaking of Hotties, Cowgirl is smokin! LOL, for a couple of reasons; obviously she is a beautiful woman, but just read her posts and you know how beautiful her heart is. Her ability to express her love and connection with her horses, and her honest open personal insight make her such a joy to read. She has the ability to draw others to her and isn't afraid of judgement. I'm proud she's a friend and everytime I hear the song "that girl is a cowboy" I think of her. Oh, and if you ever have the pleasure of hearing her sing, you'll be AMAZED!

Shayna is another with an amazing voice. Her stories of Eugene got me hooked; she has such a big, sweet and loving heart that shows through in her writing. She's funny and fearless; one you always want on your side.

Militarygrrl's writings about her military experience are a must read for anyone on either side of the debate about women in the military. The things she went through, and the way she handled them are proof positive that women can not only do the job, but often out perform the "guys". I'd serve with her anyday.

Barngoddess; what can I say about her? Just read her stuff; she blows me away. Everytime I stop by her place it reminds me how much I miss having horses around. Even though it's been over 20 years since I had one. Thanks to her and Cowgirl, that will change soon after the house is built!

I just noticed something; almost all of my blog buddies are beautiful women... Go figure!

That's all I have time for right now, I'll get to more of them soon. I promise! Till then, thanks for being there for me to read, I miss stopping by like I used to. Have a great day all! Cheers

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The New Place

This is a pic of our place taken last year. It's much "greener" right now! The house will be down by where the trailer is, the corral will be just past it, up and to the right a wee bit. I hope you like!!

What a Day...

Okay, I finally get my wireless set up here at the RV and decided to put up a post. What to write about? I know, how about how my day went so far…

So I was on my way out to our property to meet with the builder and designer, cruising along down our dusty bumpy road when my truck. Just. Dies. I mean, no warning, no nothing, just all of the sudden, the tach rolls back to 0 and I coast to the side and stop. Luckily my builder drove by a few minutes later and gave me a lift to the site to stake out the house and go over the final plans (which are way cool!). Then he tells me how much the building permit will cost. Well, actually, the brand new “impact fee” which was put into affect 1 June. So, now the permit plus “impact fee” will be DOUBLE what it was last month. Yep, last month, if our original plans had been done, we would have started construction and not had to pay the “impact fee”. Oh, and the “impact fee” is supposed to be used to help maintain the roads, just like the inflated taxes do. Oh yeah, the road we will live on, is CRAP! Washboards you can get lost in. Am I bitter? Just a little.

So, my truck is dead (I’ll let you know how Dodge warranty service works out). I know I know Cowgirl will let me know how Dodge suck blah blah blah… (you know I’m only pulling your leg CG; and what a leg it is; but I digress…)

So, then I go to check on registering all my vehicles and of course that’s gonna cost me about $5K, so the hits just keep coming!

On a lighter note, my dogs are making me laugh more and more everyday. I take them out to our property and they get out of the truck and immediately relieve themselves; but if I take them on their morning or afternoon walk, it takes at least a half hour to find the perfect spot worthy of their poo. I just don’t get it.

Well, the only thing else I wanted to say was to have you all go read the letter Matt at Blackfive posted by Col Brett Wyrick (I’ve served with the Col’s brother and have seen other letters, so I’m sure this letter is authentic) about Marines. Go. Read. Now.

Till nest time, Cheers!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Holy Crackers, A Real Post!

Greetings all from the high mountains! As is my modus operandi lately, this will be a short, but hopefully sweet post. I won't go into the high-tech cowboy area just yet (sorry cowgirl ;) ) but thought I might regale you all with a few tidbits of why I'm so happy to be back here.

I'd forgotten just how beautiful this area of the world is, and how on some small scale, time has slowed down to a crawl. For the most part, the area hasn't changed since I left some 25 years ago. It's still full of ranches and farms complete with ranchers and farmers; all of whom are still going broke every year (just ask anyone of them!). Seriously, I know how hard it is to make a living ranching and/or farming, but for the most part, these guys are the same ones who were working their land when I left. They may not be getting rich, but most are still paying their bills and providing a good life for their families.

I feel at times as if it's 1980 except all those guys and gals I ran around with are much older than they should be! I mean, they have like grown kids and stuff, some even with grand kids! What happened to them while I was gone? Then I look in the mirror, and remember that I too have aged quite a bit since then, but I'm happy to say that while I may look a bit older and rougher, my mind still says I'm in my 20's.

I had forgotten the simple pleasure of driving down an open road where you can see forever and watching a late evening lightening storm dance across the mountain tops under a turquoise sky with flaming clouds against the Western horizon. My words fail to paint the beautiful picture God provides on a nightly basis. I wish you all could see them. I should carry my camera with me I guess!

I am still getting used to the fact that people don't lock their trucks and give a friendly wave to every passing car on the road. I know; it sounds a bit Mayberry, but life is so relaxed here, I can't explain it.

The sheer joy I feel everyday here more than makes up for the shock I get when I see my paycheck (is that right? That's what I used to have withheld, not take home!!!) Oh well, the price of living in this wonderful place is a much smaller income, but then the cost of living is much less too, so I'm not complaining one bit. In fact, I'm thanking the Lord for allowing me to live here once again.

I hope all of you are happy and healthy. I miss you all and wish you could all come out for a visit (maybe AFTER the house is built since the RV is a bit crowded with my wife and I and our two dopey dogs) :

Till next time…

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Yawn; just another lame update of sorts

Yes, it is alive; sadly failing in keeping the handful of friends who read my drivel updated, but alive at least.

I'm currently in an Inn outside of Niagra Falls (we flew out here for the wedding of a friend) and now that the festivities have slowed down, I've been able to get a slooooow dial up connection.

Things have been busy as you might imagine; in fact, the last few weeks have been a blur of packing boxes, endless highways, and precious little sleep. In fact, I've driven the road between Salt Lake City and our little Colorado mountain town no less than 5 times in the past four weeks (500+ miles one way). This trip for the wedding was a welcome diversion, but I have so much to do back in CO that I'm having a hard time enjoying it.

The wedding was very nice; and seeing the bridal party in mess dress and then the bride and groom exiting under a saber arch on Armed Forces day reminded me of how out of place I feel these days. My uniform is packed away for good, my mustache and hair way beyond the allowable limits, and my gut a little bigger than it should be; yet in my heart, I want to wear the uniform and be a part of the team once again. I know it isn't possible, but damn I miss it.

Oh, and the house plans I paid a goodly sum for to build our new house? Yeah, they can't be used, so I have a new designer working on the new ones which of course will cost another chunk of change. Here's a safety tip for any of you kiddies building a new house... Hire a professional and get a signed contract! Stay away from "friends" even if they're fully qualified to do the job. Yeah, I should have known better. So, bottom line is our construction of the new homestead is about 6 weeks behind and it's not even started yet.

Oh well, live and learn. I hope all of you have a wee bit better luck than Im having. Oh, and to the newlywed J and K; Long and happy life together, and thanks for allowing us to be a part of it!

I have some really good stuff to write about as soon as I get time. I think the first will be on Hi-Tech Cowboys... Ponder that :)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Quick Update

Hey everyone, I just popped in to let you know that things are good so far. The move is going good, though slow. We haven't started on the house yet since my builder and I keep missing each other. Grrrr.

I've forgotten how much I love this area and am so excited to be back. It always has felt like home (cause it is I guess!)

I don't know when Ill have internet access, thank God there is one business here in the 21st century and opened a hispeed internet cafe. I get down here about once a week since they're only open a few hours a day. At least it's something.

Thanks to you all for your kind words and encouragement; it means a lot. I miss all of you and hope to be around to everyones blogs soon.

MN Girl, I haven't forgotten about the tag, I'll do it as soon as possible!

Cheers all, blessings to each of you!

Rude1 out

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Still alive, but going nuts

Hey all, Just a quick note to let you know Im still kickin! One final left, 1/2 the house left to laid in the truck, then drive for 10+ hours only to have to unload it in a storage unit since the new house isn't under construction yet!

Yep, me, the princess bride, and our two goofy dogs get to live in our RV while the house is being built... Am I nuts or what?

Talk to you all soon; I am popping in as I get the chance. Blessings to all of you, see you soon!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

MIA or AWOL, I can't decide

Hey folks, I know it's been a while and although I'm sort of a hit and run, or hit or miss poster, I thought I'd give a quick update to the 3 or 4 folks who happen to stumble over here.

Things are greatly in flux out here in the land-O-Rude. I've quit my high paying, low challenging job, sold my house, and am trying to finish my last semester of school (the day after my last final I pack up the truck and move). Needless to say, I'ma bit stressed and swamped, so I haven't been posting or visiting my bloggy friends. Soooo....

I just wanted to let you all know that I will be under the radar for a few weeks (not sure what sort of access I'll have) But I'll pop 'round as soon as I get a chance.

Happy BIrthday to my favorite Cowgirl, somebody keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Our Duty to Remember

Shayna recently wrote about Eugene and it got her thinking about how sad it is that we, as a nation, tend to forget or overlook those who gave so much. She wished that they would talk more about their experiences in the hopes that the rest of society would be reminded of what they went through and not to forget them.

I wanted to try in some weak attempt, to explain why that probably won’t ever happen. I agree with her; we should be reminded not to forget those who sacrificed so much and gained so little, but the sad fact is that the majority of combat vets won’t talk about it. At least not to just anyone. They’ll talk at length with other combat vets, or tell some of the funny stories to their families; but most won’t open up about the serious times.

My theory about why is rather simple, yet strangely complicated. I know that most vets are very proud of what they did, of their contribution to history, of being part of something important, something historical. But the difficulty lies in that to be proud of that, in some way the vet must be proud of killing; an act that is taught to us from the earliest stages of our life, to be the ultimate sin. Killing another human being is one of the most reprehensible thing anyone can do. Yet the bottom-line job of the military member is to kill.

We desensitize ourselves by making light of it, or even advertising it. “Our job is to kill people and break things.” “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.” “Killing is our business, and business is good.” None of us really feel that way, but we try and convince ourselves that it’s okay. The training and preparation kicks in during battle and instinct and training take over. There is no time to reflect, but deep down, late at night, especially after the battle, and the fog of war starts to dissipate, we look at ourselves in horror. We don’t want anyone to know the horrible sin we’ve committed; the taking of another human life. Forever silencing the voice of someone’s father/brother/son/mother/sister/daughter/friend. You can’t take that back. But it’s what we do. We have to, or else evil will prevail.

So the combat vet stays mute about it except to another combat vet. Someone who’s been there too; someone who understands. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you want to understand, to sympathize, to help; you can’t. You cannot fathom the guilt/pride conflict raging within. The combat vet doesn’t want to remember the killing, but it is something that can’t ever be forgotten. Even those “lucky” enough to have never actually killed; the sights, sounds, smells, and touch of combat casualties is every bit as traumatic. As a military member, your job is to inflict pain amongst the enemy, but as you see the aftermath, you question how can civilized, sane people do such things to one another. So you shut it down, you don’t talk about it, you hide it away because if you don’t, you run the risk of seeing the looks of revulsion from those you love. You so desperately want to forget, but you can’t.

There are countless stories out there of combat heroes, whose families have no idea of their bravery. Navy and Air Force Cross recipients, Silver Star recipients who put their medals in a dusty box in some basement or attic. People who did extraordinary things while under fire, but hide them away like forgotten trinkets. I remember reading how John Levitow’s wife, also an Air Force member, didn’t know he had been awarded the Medal of Honor until she studied it during a required Air Force history class. She knew he had served in Viet Nam before they met, but had no idea he was the lowest ranking AF member to be awarded the Nation’s highest military honor. Or of Susan Rescorla finding her husband Rick’s military medals only to have him refuse to let her display them. Rick Rescorla not only was a hero of the Ia Drang Valley in Viet Nam, but he was chief of security for Morgan Stanley and lost his life in the WTC on 9/11, but not before ensuring over 3000 of his charges were evacuated safely.

This is the reason why military members are the last people who want to go to war. We make the sacrifices. We run the risk of being killed or wounded. We run the risk of losing our closest friends. We run the risk of having to kill or maim another human. But we do it when needed. Some may think we rush into wars, but believe me, the vast overall majority of military leaders will only advise military action if all other avenues have failed.

It is not the job f the combat vet to remind society of what they did, it is the responsibility of society to remember the sacrifices of the combat vets and to honor them. The combat vet doesn’t want sympathy. All he wants is acceptance and possibly a thank you. It’s societies job to HONOR them, and to never forget. Don’t pity these heroes, for most of them would do it again even knowing the consequences. Don’t pry or try and understand their silence, respect it. Don’t patronize them, but be their friend. Most of all, don’t forget them; they did what they did for you.


So the lovely Trouble gave me my first tag; I don’t know whether to be happy or embarrassed LOL. Any way, Six Weird Habits might take a while (not because I have to think of them, but rather I have to narrow it down to six!). Anyway, here goes…

1) I still carry my squadron Ram coin everywhere I go; just in case.

2) I count paces when I walk, not all the time, but whenever I’m by myself. 4,596 paces from my quarters to work the last time I was stationed in Korea…

3) I stroke my mustache; been doing it for 24 years (I shaved it off in basic, last time I think!)

4) I collect die cast airplanes and corvettes. I have an entire bookcase at work with nothing but these toys. Oh, and an Aviator Barbie and G.W. Bush Top Gun are also there (long story, thanks Capt. G and Lt. K)

5) I have a photographic memory; most of my family and friends refuse to play Trivial Pursuit or similar games with me.

6) I can quote most of the movie “Better Off Dead”

There you go, six of the not-so-weird things about me; I know some of them are not habits per se, but... I’ll keep the really weird stuff to myself thank you!

So, Cowgirl, Desult, and Barn Goddess; You’re officially tagged, so tell me some weird things about you… 

Friday, April 14, 2006

Let Us Never Forget

Paul Ray Smith. A name that few really know, but one that all of us should remember. It's been a little over three years since he was killed protecting his men in Baghdad. His actions that day earned him the Medal of Honor. Go read the citation if you haven't already. SFC Paul Ray Smith was the epitome of leadership under fire. He was a strict NCO knowing that his troops needed to be highly trained to survive in combat.

SFC Smith embodies the honor and selflessness of our warriors serving today. The majority of those serving today would have done the same thing he did were they in his boots. All of those who have served, and those still serving, deserve our respect, thanks, and most importantly, our rememberance.

God Bless and protect them all.

Thanks to Sgt Hook for his post "Would You Know My Name" who made me remember.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ben Stein

I've tried several times to write a post about Ben Stein and what he means to me, but I can never get it right. I'm one of those folks who think that most of the Hollywood crowd is a joke, but I respect and enjoy what they do. (when they stay within their area of expertise as I wrote about here) Anyway, Ben is different. He understands what meaning is. I just want to thank him. I want to thank him for making me laugh in "Ferris Beuller's Day Off", and on his show "Win Ben Stein's Money". I want to thank him for his support of the US military. I want to thank him for his service to our country during the Nixon years. Ben, if you're listening, Thank You. You're support, and the support of all who believe, helps keep us going. We can't do it alone.

Ben's article made me think about my life since I've retired from the military. I've often told my wife since that day that I miss being a part of something important, of making a difference in the world. Ben reminded me that I miss my life having meaning. I know there are a lot ways to get that meaning back. I just need to do it. It was easy to have meaning while in uniform; everyday held the pursuit of the greater good. Now, I struggle to find the niche where I can once again contribute. I support the Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen/Marines/Coast Guard; I send packages and volunteer to help deployed spouses keep up with home/landscape duties. I try and pass a little wisdom to the young troops whenever I can. I try and help educate those with no military knowledge. In short, I'm trying to honor those who still serve, and those who've served before us, but honestly, sometimes I need a reminder to do more. It's easy to get caught up in the daily BS of life and lose track of what's really important.

Thanks again Ben, for reminding me to keep on helping where I can.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

She's Back!

For those that ever had the pleasure of reading Right Thinking Girl, you know what a wonderful and talented writer she is. Personally, when she quit blogging, it left a void, a blackhole in my day. I wrote a little about why I liked her writing so much here. I have a pretty good idea why she quit for a while, and like so many others, prayed that things would get better for her. I'm glad she's been able to move forward, but I'll still keep her in my prayers.

I was able to catch a few of her guest articles over at RWN, but it never seemed to be enough to sate my appetite. There's just something about her writing that speaks to me; I can't really explain it. I'm just glad she's back. I always thought she would be back; she's a WRITER, it's as much a part of her as breathing. I'm a reader and I'm glad I'll be able to lose myself in her words yet again.

Welcome home RTG.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Slainte na Gaidheil!

Tomorrow is Tartan Day where all Americans of Scottish descent show off their heritage. I do it every year, getting a little more into it than the last. I started out wearing a tie made from my families Tartan, then added a blazer with my family crest. Is this the year I cause havok at the office by wearing a full kilt? I don't know yet...

Here's a wee bit o my families Scottish history, summarized by the folks at

The (name withheld to protect the innocent) claim to be descended from Crinan, Lord of Atholl, from whom sprang the royal house of Duncan I, the King of the Scots. The (name withheld to protect the innocent) clan is more properly called 'Clan Donnachaidh' from their ancestor Duncan, who was a staunch supporter of Robert the Bruce, and who led the Clan at the Battle of Bannockburn.

The general surname of the clan (name withheld to protect the innocent) was taken from Robert Riach (Grizzled Robert) the clan chief, who was known for his intense loyalty to the Stewarts. Riach was responsible for capturing the murderers of King James I, and was rewarded by the crown for this act by having his lands at Struan erected into a Barony.

The clan was also granted a symbolic memorial by additions to their coat of arms - subsequently the chief of clan (name withheld to protect the innocent) bore as his crest a hand holding an imperial royal crown, and underneath a man in chains, representing the regicide. About a century later, the (name withheld to protect the innocent) family lost the lands of Struan to the Earl of Atholl but the family regained them in 1606.

However in the seventeenth century, after the final defeat of James VII, all (name withheld to protect the innocent) estates were forfeited and the chief of the (name withheld to protect the innocent) clan joined the exiled court in France. To this day the chiefs of the clan (name withheld to protect the innocent) still have the right and privilege of interment in the family burial ground at Struan

Well, I'm sure anyone with a little effort can figure out my last name, but hey, you gotta work for it if you really want to know!

I hope you all have a great Tartan Day tomorrow!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Rock on Fellas!

I got a kick out of this video. Pretty good tune I must say! You can check out their site here.

H/T to Timmer over at Sgt Stryker's

Must Read

Sarah over at Trying to Grok has a link to this article that is a must read. I like the way he thinks...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Go Girl!!!

YEAH!!! My friend Desult earned the Army Physical Fitness Test Award during her stay in Basic! She maxed it out getting 300 out of a possible 300 points. She even did it while battling a respiratory illness. You go girl!

I'm telling you folks, this lady is kick a$$!

Go check it out!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saying What I Think...

Sgt Mom has done it again; putting the jumbled thoughts bouncing around my skull into eloquent and comprehensive words. I don't know how she does it, but darn glad she does. Go read.

But on another note, this just, well I just don't know what to think. I'm so very happy these men were saved and I regret the death of their companion. However, those "illegal occupiers" of Iraq are the ones who rescued them; I shudder to think about their fate if those "occupiers" weren't there. Would a simple thank you have been so hard to say WITHOUT the anti-war spin? I just don't understand some people.

HT to Drudge.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dog Days

Sgt Mom has written her adventures with the Lesser Weevil here, here, here, and here, and some of her comments got me thinking about my two “boys” and how they make me laugh. The Blue Eyed Infidel also would post about her dogs and I really enjoyed reading them, so I figured WTH, I’ll try and convey some of the adventures my two dogs have had and the joy (and occasional frustration) they bring to my wife and I.

Our oldest is a pure chocolate lab that my wife got while I was deployed to Korea the last time back in 1999. In some ways, he’s a typical lab; he LOVES the water, and has a very “soft mouth”. However, he doesn’t enjoy fetch like other labs. In fact, after about 2 retrievals, he’ll look at the stick/ball/Frisbee then me, then the stick/ball/Frisbee, back to me with a look like, WTF? I just BROUGHT that damn thing to you, why are you throwing it away again? Then go lie in the grass and chew on some grass. Now if I throw the stick/ball/Frisbee into a lake, he’ll keep playing till he drowns…

The younger one we got a year after the first to keep him company while we were at work. He is a black lab/blue heeler mix and is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever seen. In fact, he’s too smart for his own good and I’ll often call him Einstein. When he was a puppy, my wife’s shoes (not mine, or anything else) were getting chewed up. We never caught the culprit, but assumed it was the older dog, being jealous of the pup and acting out since we ALWAYS found the shoe remnants either in his bed or near where he was laying and the puppy was at least all the way across the room. Well, one day I snuck in the house to see if I could catch the monster in the act. I heard the tell tale sounds of something (I assumed it was yet another shoe) meeting its demise. As I snuck up the stairs, I could see the big dog lying on the floor looking the other way. About that time, the stair creaked and I saw a small furry black streak dragging a Teva up to the big dog, drop it between his outstretched paws, and continued like a shot clear across the room and jumped into his bed, tail wagging a mile a minute. I had to laugh; he was deliberately placing evidence to frame the older dog for his misdeeds, and then look on with his innocent little face while the older dog was like what? I’m just laying here dude!

Our lab is not the most graceful dog on the planet; in fact, I affectionately call him lumber for the way he runs. It’s sort of like a bull in a china shop. Last night I laughed out loud at him as he played with his tug-o-war rope by himself. This rope has a loop on either end and is about 2 feet long. He had the rope in his mouth at the center and was jumping around and shaking his head trying to get me interested enough to play with him. At one point, he had gotten each of his front paws in the loops, sort of like a hobble for a horse. He couldn’t quite figure out what to do, but continued to pull and shake the rope, tripping himself over and over.

When we first brought the little one home, he would stalk Lumber and pounce on him (still does in fact) trying to incite him to play. Lumber outweighed him by about 60 ponds then and would let him do what ever he wanted. Very tolerant that one! In fact, Einstein started sitting on Lumber, either his head or his back, whenever Lumber was lying down. Einstein will walk across the room, sit on Lumber’s head, and then look over at us as is to say, “That’s right, I’m king of this here castle.” Lumber just accepts it. For a long time I thought Einstein was the Alpha, and Lumber was a big old baby, but my neighbor mentioned something to me once after they had ‘babysat’ for us. I think he may be right. We now think Lumber is definitely the alpha, but lets Einstein act all tough; much like a big brother does with his bratty sibling. I’ve seen the few occasions where Einstein goes too far and Lumber quickly puts him in his place. Einstein immediately acquiesces and slinks off till big brother has forgiven him.

These two guys are a constant source of laughter and companionship for us, they are our boys and I really don’t know how we could live without them. Since we’ve not been able to have children, we sometimes treat them as such (NOT to the point where we treat them like kids) but we have some of the same feelings and concerns.

Not long ago, while my wife was deployed, Einstein got really sick one night. I mean really. Sick. He made it to the back door and threw up on the floor mat. I let him out for some fresh air as I cleaned up the mess (this was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to do. It. Was. Awful.) and threw the mat away. Anyway, I let him back in the house, made sure he had fresh water, and went to the bathroom to wash my hands. In that short time, he got sick again, this time in his bed. It was so awful I simply threw it away as well. When I came back in from dumping the hazardous waste in the dumpster, he had lost it once more by the back door (I had no idea a 60lb dog could hold that much) on the tile floor. He looked up at me with a look that said, “Dude, I’m so sorry, but I’m so sick right now…” I cleaned it up yet again (by this time I was ready to throw up too) and then sat there and rubbed his head and made sure he kept drinking water. He lay there looking at me with his tail flicking, letting me know how much he appreciated my efforts. I figured that if he was still sick in the morning, we’d run down to see the vet. Luckily, the next morning he was fine and running around like the little imp he is, tormenting Lumber with a renewed vigor, as if to make up for those few hours he couldn’t find the energy to.

These guys drive me nuts sometimes, but not a day goes by that they don’t make me laugh out loud and that is priceless.

The Future is Secure

Stories like this one on Fox News just re-afirm my faith in the youth of America. Youth of America? Did I say that? I guess I'm officially old now, but never mind that, these kids make me proud!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My View

The other day I made some comments about some college students parroting what is reported in the media instead of thinking critically and making decision for themselves. This of course triggered some spirited comments, and one in particular that I need to address and expand my position on. In particular, I used the example of students asking "isn’t it true that there were no WMDs in Iraq and that Bush lied just to get us in the war?" The point I want to make about this particular statement and how it applies to critical thinking is that the absence of WMDs is only part of the story.

To get to the crux of the argument is that Bush lied about WMDs to get us into the war in Iraq. Forget about the reasons why he supposedly wanted to get into the war, I want to focus on the argument that he lied about WMDs to get us there.

To understand this, you need to know a little bit about the intelligence available at the time, and how it’s interpreted. We had lots of intel, in fact, we ALWAYS have lots of intel. So much in fact that on average, the amount of intel gathered on a daily basis, is so large that it would one person 18 years to go through it, analyze it, interpret it and make a recommendation. Eighteen years; that’s 37,440 man-hours (40 hrs a week x 52 weeks x 18 years). Granted, we don’t have a single person doing this, but you can figure that even if you had a team of 100 people, it would take 47 days to process ONE days worth of intel, and intel gathering continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a wonder we’re able to do as well as we do.

Add to the equation that intel analysis is not an exact science. Recommendations are basically guesses on the part of the analyst. Guesses made by experts in their fields, based on past experience, political climate, and a myriad of other factors, but it boils down to and educated guess. In the military community, we jokingly refer to it as a SWAG or Scientific Wild A$$ Guess.

So, there is a good chance the intel was flawed. However, there’s a reasonable chance it was correct and the WMDs did exist and were either hidden or moved. I tend to think that these explanations are more plausible than they didn’t exist at all. I can hear you now; "but we haven’t found any, so how could they have been over looked for so long, they couldn’t have existed. Well, the best way to explain this is with an example.

Not long ago, there was a horrible murder out where I live where a pregnant woman was killed by her husband while she slept. He disposed of the bodies in a dumpster. He confessed to the crime within days and the police conducted a full out search of the landfill that dumpster load was taken to. It took over two and a half months to find her body. My point is this; the police KNEW where she was and it took over two months to find her in an area less than 10 square miles. Iraq is about 7,000 square miles larger than California with the majority of it being vast expanses of open, desolate desert. We have found complete military aircraft buried in the desert, to hide them from inspectors. Whole, complete military aircraft. Keep in mind that Iraq gathered intel as well and probably had a good idea of when we were getting ready to go in. They had plenty of time to hide or move their WMDs before OIF kicked off.

There are those who also say that since there were no WMDs (found), then we need to get out of Iraq. Again, I’ll use an example of why we shouldn’t cut and run since the WMDs were not found. Imagine the police get a tip that a house is being used to manufacture and sell drugs. They get a warrant based on probable cause and raid the home. Turns out, there are no drugs, no paraphernalia, no evidence at all of drug activity. Their intel was flawed. But what if they find evidence of a homicide, or find a kidnap victim tied up in the basement? Should they pack up and leave? What if they find evidence of a serial killer or child molester? What should they do?
So, back to my original point; why is parroting the stance of no WMDs being ill-informed? Technically yes, there were no WMDs found so far. They may not have even existed, but that doesn’t mean the President lied. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be in Iraq. Was the intel flawed? Possibly or probably depending on how you look at it. Were mistakes made? Absolutely. Do we cut and run because of them? In my opinion, no; I think it’s better to learn from them and make corrections, and continue to do what is necessary.

My original comments were based on a conversation about how some of the college students I’ve talked to in class don’t take the time to hear the other side, or sometimes a third or forth side of a story. They don’t make the effort to get the details, weigh them, and form their own opinion. This applies to those on both sides of an issue. What I try to instill is these young people is to look at things from all angles, get as much information from different sources (not just the ones that support their particular view) and base a position on complete information. If they do that, they’re opinions have weight. To blindly follow a party line or support a candidate because of dislike for another, is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous. To base your position on well informed thought is how our system is designed to work.

I know there are plenty out there that will still disagree with me, and that’s fine. I enjoy disagreement. I like to hear well thought out arguments contrary to my views. It makes me better informed. I have even changed my views on some issues because of it. Like I said in my profile, I can’t stand blind allegiance to either side; but I respect the hell out of firm allegiance based on personal thought. I might not agree, but if your argument is based on complete information, I’ll lay down my life defending your right to your beliefs.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The first Rampage for the Rampage

Okay kiddies, time for a full on rage against the machine rant from yours truly. Now I have had more than my fair share of injustices during my 23 years on active duty, but this isn’t about me. This is about some of our warriors sitting in HARMS WAY (mortar and rocket attacks) and not getting hostile fire pay. Not. Getting. HOSTILE. FIRE. Pay. These folks are assigned to units in country, receiving hostile fire, and not getting paid for it. Why?

Here’s what I know, and I’ll admit I haven’t researched much so far, but I do know it’s affecting my family personally. Evidently, you have to been in the combat zone for 30 consecutive days to receive hostile fire pay. Sounds like someone somewhere put this rule in place to prevent REMFs* from popping into the zone for a day and receiving HFP. Good idea. But, and this is a big but, what about those that live and work in the zone, but duties require them to leave for a day or two then return? Or what about some brave trooper who gets wounded and evac’d out of the AOR? Don’t they deserve the HFP for putting their asses on the line?

We have Air Evac teams in country whose job is to take the wounded, injured or KIA out of the AOR to treatment centers in Germany, we all know that. What we don’t know is that as soon as one of these missions of mercy takes off, those crew members and possibly their charges have just lost their chance for HFP. Am I the only one who is outraged by this? I mean, c’mon, all that is required to get the tax free exemption for a month of pay is to enter the combat zone! This includes aircraft that fly through the airspace, but never land in, the combat zone. WTF?

Some people VERY close to me just returned from a tour where the longest consecutive time spent in the zone was 27 days. The good news is that there are fewer mission (due to fewer casualties) than the last deployment they were on, but the bad news is they sacrifice just as much as any other member deployed there and encounter the same risks without the small compensation of HFP. Never mind that one such mission was flown ONLY because some visiting members of Congress refused to wear their seat belts and were in a car accident! They weren’t attacked; their driver lost control and these guys wound up injured through their own arrogance. I wonder what sort of allowance or entitlement they got for their few days in the zone? It just seems wrong that those that work, live, and sometimes die in a combat zone, don’t get this small compensation because of some arbitrary number thought up by some bean counter who probably couldn’t find the combat zone on a map.

*Rear Echelon Mother F^@!$r

Friday, February 24, 2006

Grandpa pt 1

I started writing my memories of my Grandpa a few weeks before my Grandma passed away and had hoped to show them to her, but she decided she had been away from him far too long before I had a chance. Yet another regret I have, but I'm still glad I started writing these things down. I have about 10 pages just about Grandpa, so I'll post a bit at a time. This story always made me laugh when I heard it. So, Grandma and Grandpa, I hope you're having fun and don't worry about us, we'll see you soon enough. I love you both very much.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot about my Grandpa, the man. The more I learn about him, the more in awe I am. He was born in Belgium and during WWI he and one of his brothers lived in an orphanage since his father had left for America before the war started and was going to send for them when he was able. The way I understand it, they were living with an Aunt, and when the war broke out she couldn’t provide for them and sent them to a Catholic orphanage. After the war ended, my Grandpa, at 16 years old, made his way to America with no money and unable to read, write or speak English. He was able to get from Belgium to Iowa and eventually locate his father. Quite a feat when you think about America in the early 20th century; very few phones, travel either by horse or on foot, and he had no idea where Iowa even was; just a general idea of the direction he needed to travel. That in itself is another story.

The only story I remember hearing about during his time at the orphanage was the time he was almost killed by an unexploded bomb. I hope I have it right, I haven’t heard the story in over 15 years, but it goes like this; the Nuns who ran the orphanage were very strict and so grandpa and his brother (I think it was Oscar, but maybe it was Morris) were always afraid of getting caught doing what young boys do (getting dirty, playing when they should have been reading etc). Anyway, one day they noticed something very shiny at the bottom of the river that ran behind the orphanage. The water was too deep for them to get it, so they kept trying everyday for quite a while. Finally, the spring waters had gone down enough for them to get it out of the river and try and figure out what it was.

Now picture two young boys hiding in the back grounds of a catholic orphanage, playing with an unknown treasure they had just pulled from the river while brilliant white sheets fluttered in the summer sun on a clothes line nearby. Grandpa’s brother (on lookout) suddenly and urgently whispers to him “the Nun is coming!!!!” and grandpa, not wanting to get in trouble, tosses the thing over the low stone wall to hide it until the coast is clear. BOOOOOOOOM! This thing they were playing with turns out to be an unexploded bomb! The resulting blast SHREDS the nearest sheets and turns them black and smoldering in the breeze! The Nun drops her laundry and hightails it with her long black habit pulled up to her knees for the safety of the building, thinking the Germans were attacking. Grandpa, with his ears ringing like bansees, feels the back of his head which feels like hamburger and looks at his bloodied hands in disbelief. His younger brother starts wailing “DEILA, YOUR BRAINS ARE FALLING OUT!!!!!!!!” and runs sobbing to the building.

In a panic, Grandpa, takes off running down the road and is finally picked up a mile or so later by some American soldiers that are bivouacked near the orphanage. They take him to the Army Dr. who stitches him up and then finally drives him back to the orphanage. The ride back to the orphanage was terrifying for him; he just KNEW he was in trouble with a capital T. Luckily, the Nuns still thought they had been attacked by the Germans. They RAN out to welcome him home, smothering him with hugs and heaping praise on him for his bravery in running to the American camp while under fire, to try and help defend his home! He never did tell them the truth!

He's been gone almost 21 years and I still miss him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cindy's back... WHY?!

Hmmm, first I’ve heard of this. Well done to the “protestors”; she needs to be reminded that freedom of speech goes both ways. I did find it funny that she told the crowd “. . . if you support this war and President Bush, march to your recruiter's office and sign up." Something her son Casey did. Matt at Blackfive has the details of Casey’s valor. HE is a hero and deserves to be remembered but unfortunately, SHE is cashing in on his ultimate sacrifice for something HE believed in. Go away Cindy and let you son rest in the peace he’s earned.

Oh, and by the way, poor quality body armor?, not true. Our troops have the very best available. Rotten food? She’s full of BS; the dining facilities serve good, healthy meals and MREs may not be the most enjoyable, but they’re decent and healthy meals. No treatment for PTSD? The treatment is there, unfortunately, some refuse to take it. Some feel ashamed of not being able to cope on their own and refuse to get treatment; Sad, but true. Every returning military member is given the opportunity to get treatment. The DoD is spending millions to ensure this treatment is available to it’s members.

I’m sorry she lost her son, but I just wish she would HONOR him instead of using him. My advice to Cindy is to go to church. Find peace, solace and forgiveness. Honor your son and be grateful for the time you shared. Be proud of the man you raised; be proud of his commitment, his faith, and his compassion. Stop blaming others for his choice to serve, and promoting your own selfish agenda.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Grandma part 1

I wrote this in the airport yesterday on my way home.

We buried my Grandma yesterday on her 99th birthday. As we sat around talking and telling stories about our memories of her, I couldn’t help but think of what a wonderful contribution she made to our world.

Obviously, she gave life to my mother and all her siblings, so without her, none of us gathered here would even exist without her. But it goes much more than that. She was an incredibly strong woman who in her own small way, broke many barriers and stereotypes over her lifetime.

She came to this country as a 3 year-old toddler and was the oldest of 11 kids. She worked long hard hours on her father’s farm, and was one of the first women to learn to drive that newfangled invention, the horse less carriage. She lost a brother at Pearl Harbor and proudly watched as her four sons served their country. She was Grandpa’s best friend and missed him dearly and talked of him everyday for the last 20 years.

To me of course, she was this little old lady who had a boisterous laugh and a warm kitchen full of cookies and fun, and now great memories. Over the years I’ve come to know her from a different perspective. She was more than a great Grandma; she was also a mother, wife and friend. The Priest summed up her essence in a few true words: fearless in faith. I never really noticed before this weekend, just how important her faith was to her, but as we looked around her house, suddenly it became starkly clear. Everywhere you looked, there are crucifixes, icons, and other evidence of her deep love of god, only equaled by her love of her family.

Corners are piled high with photo albums of her family and displayed on every wall and furniture surface are framed photos of her family; photos of each or her 8 children from baby pictures to recent photos, and showing their life stages in between. There are also pictures of her 25 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren. She so loved her family and loved to tell anyone who would listen all about each of them.

In talking with her nurse and my mother about the day she passed, there is no doubt that she knew it was time to go. She had been confused for several weeks and was not eating well, however on that day she was incredibly lucid. My mother had returned to her house while Grandma was to do her daily physical therapy. Nurse Terri said that Grandma told her she was going to skip therapy that day because God had told her to he didn’t want her working that hard on that day. She also made sure she had a good full meal before going back to her room for her nap. She passed away shortly after, quietly in her room. We all know that she made sure she wouldn’t be hungry on her journey to heaven.

Grandma lived in her own home, by herself, up until 3 months before she died. My mom would come by and check on her everyday to make sure she took her medicine, visit, and ensure she was okay. It was very hard on both of them to finally decide to enter the nursing home, but obviously it was the right thing to do. Just like Grandpa 20 years earlier, she didn’t stay long. Recently my mom asked her when her happiest times were. “In my whole life?” she asked; “well, yeah” mom said. Grandma thought about it a moment and replied, “When I was doing my chores.” Once she could do her chores anymore, and moved into the home, she lost her drive. I think she just got tired and really wanted to see Grandpa again. He’s been waiting for her for quite some time.

Grandma and Grandpa were married for 58 years, raised 8 successful children; none of which were ever in trouble with the law. They taught hard work, honesty, integrity and faithfulness through unflinching examples. I’m humbled and blessed to be a part of their legacy.

Happy birthday Grandma, rest well you deserve it. Tell Grandpa Hi for me and know that I love and miss you both. Till we meet again.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


One of the coolest things I’ve read in a long time was Sheila’s account of her experience traveling through Colorado many years ago. Recently, my wife and I were driving through Colorado and Utah and I kept thinking what it would be like for someone who spent their life in places like New York City, Chicago, LA, or even Atlanta, to see the West for the first time. How they would react if they were suddenly exposed to not only the wonder and majesty of the wide-open spaces and towering peaks, but to the lifestyle of those that live out here. Not those that live in Denver or Salt Lake City, but those that live in the many small high mountain towns; I mean really live there. Not the big city folks who spend a few weeks or months in their high country “cabins”; but the folks that make their living here. Those that work in the agriculture industry, or the family owned local restaurants.

I imagine it would be as foreign to them as my first big city experience was to me. I grew up in a town of 1500 people, and my high school class had 52 students before the dropouts and flunkies. This school had students from two different towns, and about a 20-mile radius of all the farms and ranches. The first time I was in a real metropolis scared the crap out of me. I was (still am to a degree) claustrophobic from the crowds of people, and not being able to see the horizon; sometimes for days! I imagine someone from the big city would have similar feelings of anxiety. Looking out across the horizon for 50 – 60 miles with no sign of civilization would be frightening as well as inspiring. I chuckle at the thought of having someone from NYC come visit us at the house we’re building back in my small hometown.

First, they would have to fly into Denver, and then be driven for 5 – 6 hours along two-lane state highways to a town with one traffic light. Finally, finish the trip out on eight miles of dirt road to a solar powered home with the nearest neighbor barely visible down the canyon. During the night, coyotes howling along the dark ridges would serenade them and if they get up early enough, they would see wild deer standing outside their window.

Mountain living is definitely laid back. I remember several years ago, my in-laws were visiting us in Colorado. My wife and I were camping on our property (where we’re now building our house) for two weeks in a tent, while the family stayed in town at an RV park. We were making dinner at the RV park, and realized we didn’t have any baked beans, and since it was a Sunday afternoon, the market was closed. (no such thing as a 24 hour market here!) I said I would run up to the camp and grab a can or two, which Grandma thought was ridiculous since it was close to 20 miles round trip. To us, it’s just part of life. You have to plan ahead and be willing to be flexible when needed. You want to see a movie? Fine, the nearest theater is at least 16 miles in the next town, and they have one screen!

Driving back through Utah that week, we were between Monticello and Moab as the sun was setting. The vermilion landscape was bathed in a blazing sunset of yellows, oranges, red, and purples; I wish I had the skill to describe the over-whelming BEAUTY of that vision. Its times like those that I’m reminded how lucky I am to live where I do. I like the big city, but Love my mountains. My Mom told me something a long time ago as I was leaving to join the Air Force; “The Mountains will always be here, and you will come back someday cause they get in you blood and will always draw you back.” In other words, I guess you can take the boy out of the mountains, but you can’t take the mountains out of the boy. Corny I know, but oh so true. I just wish everyone had the chance to REALLY see and experience them.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Somethings never change...

It looks like the AF is adding the F-15 to the Aggressor squadron down at Nellis to compliment the F-16s already in use. I’m torn with the news of the re-activation of the 65th Aggressors. On one hand, I had a BLAST while assigned to both the 64th and 65th (in fact, I helped transition the 64th from the F-5 to the F-16 and “closed” the 65th) with the F-5Es and am proud and happy to see that great squadron reborn; yet on the other hand, I don’t really see the advantage of using the Eagle as an adversary. Just as I couldn’t (and still can’t) see the advantage of using the Viper.

See, back when we got rid of the F-5s from the aggressor role, most of us couldn’t understand why the AF was replacing the aggressors with the same airframe that the majority of our squadrons already flew. The purpose of the Aggressors is to train pilots how to fight an enemy that employs different tactics AND airframes then what we use. It’s called Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT). When you use Vipers against Vipers, you only get ½ the training. You get Similar Air Combat Training. By adding the Eagle to the mix, you still have the same problem. The Aggressors will now have the same airframes as over 90% of the entire fighter community.

The beauty of using the F-5 back in those days was it showed without a doubt just how important the tactics employed by the pilot were. The F-5 would consistently “win” engagements against the Vipers and Eagles; both far superior aircraft, by tactics. In a typical two-week deployment, the F-5s would start the week by spanking the Vipers or Eagles, and intensely debrief each mission. By the end of the deployment, the F-5s didn’t stand a chance. The Vipers and Eagles had learned how to not only employ their jets, but their minds as well. By using an inferior airframe and spanking the hotshots, it humbled the Viper and Eagle drivers enough to listen and learn.

Back when we closed the 65th and transitioned the 64th to the Viper, most of us wondered why the AF didn’t buy a squadron of F-20s or F-18s if they wanted to upgrade the Aggressors to better reflect our adversary’s capabilities. They could have continued the long tradition of providing superior DACT training with a more realistic representation of the threat. I’m wondering the same thing again; how can you have DACT with the same aircraft?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sundance Film Festival

Ah Sundance. What a shame it’s here again. Well, not really, more so it’s a shame the celebrities have to come to town with it. I dig the whole original spirit of Sundance but have been getting more and more jaded by the whole thing the last few years. It seems to have morphed into just another avenue for celebrities to get more press and stroke they’re already over-inflated egos. I don’t know, maybe I’m just overly critical, but I remember my first Sundance about 10 years ago, back when Park City was still a sleepy little ski town, where no one cared who was walking down the street. Celebrities were treated no different than the locals, and most importantly, most of them ACTED no different than the locals. No entourage, no big limos, no pretense.

Now, both the town and the attitudes (mostly of the celebrities) has changed. The town was completely re-done for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, transforming its soul from the quaint mining-town-turned-ski-town with wholesome values into a glitzy terribly over-priced resort full of pretentious shops that cater exclusively to the rich and famous. Gone are the cool little local shops that sold local crafts, antiques, or showcasing local artists. The celebrities now roar into town in limos or high dollar SUVs (yeah, those things that pollute and kill, and that these same people wouldn’t be caught DEAD in back in LA) and they march down the streets with their “peeps” or “posse”, competing with each other for the privilege of recognition. It’s interesting that the only time you’ll hear a horn honk in Park City is during Sundance. See, they don’t understand that this isn’t LA and they aren’t Gods. The roads are small and traffic is congested during Sundance. The locals know and expect this. They’re good folks who know that during this time, it takes a bit longer to get from point A to point B. They adapt. They leave a little earlier and know there will be delays on the roads. They also know that blowing the horn isn’t going to magically part the red sea of brake lights so they can get where they’re going. They accept the traffic as part of the plan during these times. The same can’t be said about our esteemed visitors, who feel that their celebrity should gain them special favors. I’ve seen it first hand, over and over.

I’ve worked security for some of the venues and I’m still amazed at the number of times I was asked to break the rules so that some self-inflated ego could get a closer parking place, or access to an event simply because of who they are. Well Skippy, if you were that important, maybe you would have been invited mkay? Now move along. Buh bye. I really enjoyed the time a certain actor (whom I admired) turned to his toadies after I (a) refused to let him in, (b) acknowledged that yes I did know who he was, and (c) offered to let him in if he would simply show me the proper credentials; and said “Can you believe this guy? Some $6.00 an hour loser thinks he can keep ME out of here?” I still laugh at that one for a couple of reasons; first, I was a volunteer, so I wasn’t making $6.00 an hour, and second, yeah, I did keep him out! Sure, I could have let him in, and no one probably would have known, but I learned a little something during my 23+ years in the Military. Rules are there for a reason, whether we agree with them or not. Until the rules are changed, we need to abide by them except in extreme circumstances (sorry, but getting face time at “the” party isn’t extreme). And integrity; Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one will know otherwise. I’m sure (especially by the way he acted when trying to get me break the rules for him) he would have been grateful had I let him in. He probably would have remembered my “kindness” for all of about 6 or 8 steps past the barricade. However, I could not sacrifice my integrity for his temporary approval. I can only hope that maybe, just maybe, he had an inkling that you don’t always get what you want just because you have a bit of fame and money. From what I can see, I don’t think so.

Sundance is here again, and even Robert Redford has noticed the change in his creation. I hope he can get the festival back to its original intent, but somehow I’m afraid those days are done. Too bad, it used to be a real nice deal for all involved.

Just My 3 Cents

This is the first of what I’m sure will be many posts about celebrities. Celebrities have their place in our society, but I’m afraid many of them don’t know exactly where that place is. This is my poor attempt to put my views to paper in some sort of coherent thought.

What is it with celebrities and their perception that they’re so much smarter than the rest of us? I don’t get it, I mean obviously, some of them are smart, but for the most part, they’re merely very good at what they do, whether it’s singing, telling jokes, directing films, or acting. Once they’ve ”made it” and are successful in their field, they’re paid INSANE amounts of money, and everyone around them fawns all over them, telling them how great they are. They are great, at what they do, but I think that’s where they start to get confused. A great actor isn’t necessarily a great intellectual, foreign policy expert, or economist; just as a great mechanic or real estate agent isn’t. I have a theory about why celebrities fall into the trap of thinking they’re more than what they really are.

I think these celebrities, when they’re away from the audience and their circle of leeches, can’t help but do a little inner reflection. Alone in the dark, I think they truly understand who and what they are. They. Are. Fakes. Actors PRETEND they’re someone or something else for a living. The persona on the screen isn’t them. Someone else writes the words they say. Directors guide them to get the reaction they see in their vision of the character. The actor then looks at himself and sees…an empty vessel, a shell that is told how to dress, what to say and how to say it.

All of us want to do something important with our lives; we want to know we made a difference during our time here, and yet what really does an actor contribute? Don’t get me wrong, I love movies and I respect actors for what they do in their craft, but that’s where I draw the line. Their job is to entertain me, nothing more. They’re not there to tell me how to live my life, spend my money, or vote in elections. I don’t want my Doctor or mechanic to do these things, so why would I want an actor or musician too? I’m pretty sure the Hollywood elite doesn’t want me or their dry cleaner to give them life advice, so why is it okay for them? They all have their jobs, their professions, their area of expertise and that is what I want and expect from them, nothing more. Granted, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and their right to express it is protected, however, there is nothing that says I have to listen to them. That really bugs them too; they seem to think that because of their fame, their opinion is gospel.

If a celebrity is truly concerned with an issue, then he needs to get involved in the political process and change things. I don’t mean using his celebrity to advance his ideas, but run for office. Put himself in the line of fire, where he has to be responsible for the results of his convictions and actions. There’s nothing wrong with using his celebrity to bring attention to an issue, but unless he's willing to put it on the line and run for office, then that’s as far as it should go. Don’t attack those that disagree, don’t threaten to leave the country if things don’t go your way (well, you can, but at least have the decency to make good on your threat if things don’t go your way, mkay Alec?) unless you’re willing to take real risks.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, when a celebrity steps outside his realm and starts forcing his opinions at me, it ruins their performances for me. I can’t watch their movies or listen to their music without thinking about how they pissed me off with their unwanted “advice”. This is especially true with actors. I can seldom see them as the character they’re supposed to be playing. Instead, I see the ACTOR, and when you see the actor and not the character, the illusion is blown. I can’t believe the story at that point. Maybe it’s just me…

Sunday, January 15, 2006

MIA Blogs

I first discovered blogs about two years ago. I don’t remember how I found it, but I stumbled across Bill Whittle's ejectejecteject and was immediately blown away. I didn’t know what a blog was, but I know when writing speaks to me. I started reading every one of his posts and eagerly looked (still do) forward to his next post. From there I found many others with varied themes; some political, some personal, some military, and some just damn funny. The thing I don’t like about blogs is when one of your favorite writers quits blogging. I don’t blame anyone for quitting; blogging is a very personal thing and there are multiple reasons to quit, but some of these writers have such a gift, and their words are such a joy to read that their absence leaves a void. It’s like reading a book by your favorite author. When you finish that book, you just can’t wait for their next work to come out. Unfortunately, when a blogger quits, you may never have the pleasure of reading their work again.

Some bloggers I REALLY miss are RTG, Blue Eyed Infidel, Red2Alpha and his wife Frenchy. RTG’s blog was a brilliant mix of political insight, personal reflection, and incredible fiction. She writes with a raw, honest passion and political insight beyond compare. Blue Eyed Infidel always made me smile, and frequently laugh out loud. I’ll never forget her description of why cats are dullards. I wish I had printed it out! Red2Alpha and Frenchy gave an unprecedented view of the trials and feelings of a soldier serving in a combat zone and his wife at home. The pain of losing friends, and pieces of himself in combat, gave an insight to the humanity of the combat soldier.

Like I said, I really miss these bloggers and hope that some day they start writing in a public forum again, whether it be blogging or books. Until then, I’m thankful I had the privilege of reading their words. I just hope they know how much they were appreciated and are missed.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


So this blog friend I have is getting ready to embark on a life changing journey this Tuesday. She’s ready and we’re all going to benefit from her choice. She’s heading off to basic training in the US Army, and that takes a special person.

People join the military for many reasons; education, travel, skills, or even just for a job. However, something happens that most don’t expect, something almost magical begins to happen during basic. Recruits go through a metamorphosis and emerge from training changed for life. They learn much more than how to march or field strip their weapon. They learn teamwork, responsibility, and most importantly, they learn the importance of HONOR. Honor is a key ingredient missing from most of society these days. Movies, music, sports, government and even religion are overflowing with examples of people without honor. We seem to embrace these dishonorable examples as desirable, and reject or ridicule those who display this critical trait. The cornerstone of the military is honor. Honor allows us to perform the mission for the better good for society as a whole, no matter the personal sacrifices required of the members. Honor is not easy, but honor will get you through difficult, trying times. And honor, once obtained, is one of the most precious possessions you can have. To lose it, is one of the most devastating losses anyone can endure.

The person who that emerges on the far side of basic is forever changed. Whether they make the military a career of not, the skills they learn there will serve them well in any endeavor.

Like I said, she’s ready for this journey and I know the butterfly that will emerge from the chrysalis of basic training will be better than ever. Good luck girl!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Welcome everyone, this is my blog where I get to rant and rave, or simply lay out what's on my mind.

The posts will be infrequent at first, and I tend to get a little wound up with political issues, so if you don't like what you see, well, go away. I don't mind opposing views, in fact I welcome them as long as they are well thought out. I won't bother to respond to worthless drivel based soley on your hate for a certain candidate or party.

I hope to have fun here, some come by and let me know what you think! Cheers all