About Five Minutes Ago

Me: *surfing the internet in the Chow Hall*
Soldier's buddy: Dude, that's her
Soldier: Excuse me, are you Amy?
Me: Er, no? But close.
Soldier: *embarrassed* Oh, do you have a blog?
Me: Yeah, that would be me. *points to screen which says Kami*
Soldier: Oh, ok. *still embarrassed, walks off*

Um, did I scare him?

Basic Training Stories

A friend of mine asked me to do a favor for her, one in which I am more then happy to oblige.

She wants me to help pimp her journal for her, called Fifth Platoon, which is about her time in Basic Training.

How do I know her? Well, I helped talk her into joining this insane institution. She has since wanted to write about her time and post it online, as she kept a journal while she was in. She was medically discharged, so she is no longer in the army, which allows her to be very open and honest about her experiences in, and her writing style is very fresh and real. She appears to be backdating her entrees to the time when she was in to give it the perspective of what was going on during that time.

It looks like it will be an interesting read. I'm eagerly awaiting her stories about mail call. From me. *evil grin* As a basic trainee, you do not want to get any packages from me.

Because this girl is one of the reasons why I started blogging in the first place, that now makes you obligated to read her basic training war stories.

Go forth my minions!

You can read my own account of Basic Training here. It's a perpetual work in progress.

Stabbed the Combat Stress Guy the Other Day

For some reason, a Unit decided to pick one in the morning to blow up some found unexploded ordinance, only to have something go wrong. Shrapnel flew everywhere, five people were down on the ground, one guy had his legs torn apart, two others had their faces ripped open, a fourth was laying on the ground with a piece of shrapnel sticking out of his stomach. Another guy had his hand all torn up.

The Captain was busy trying to keep everyone alive and in order, while one soldier was so traumatized by the experience he was in a shell shocked state, not saying anything to anybody and staring off into space.

Then there was me. I was going ballistic.

We made the call to send the ambulence to take care of us. I was just wandering around, sobbing and speaking really fast, partly in gibberish. See, these were my friends I had just seen blow up!

As soon as the ambulence got there, I just cried at them, asking them to help my buddies and wailing that they were all bleeding and were going to die. At first I was just crying, but the longer it took and the more they talked ot me, the more distraught I got. They tried to make use of me, I was sitting next to one of my buddies pressing the gauze to his face to stop the bleeding. The more I stared at it, the worse I got. So I just cried to the ambulence to hurry and save my friends.

Our OIC kept getting into the Medic's supplies in trying to speed things up a bit while the shell shocked soldier wandered off into the woods. One of the first things they managed to relieve us of were our weapons. They tried to get me to sit down, and I would sit down next to the ambulence and rock back and forth for a while, then get up and wander about, trying to find the status of my buddies. At one point, as they loaded them onto the stretcher and into the ambulence, I followed them in, when seeing the wounds in good light, I wailed that much harder.

They finally got all of the injured patients loaded onto the Ambulence and driven back to the hospital when they took care of the shell shocked casuality, the captain and me. They tried to talk to me, get my name from them, and all I could do was mumble about the accident. I then began to wail about my friends, wanting to see them, to make sure they were all right. When we finally got to the hospital, I started crying more, trying to hop out of the ambulence to see my buddies and make sure they were ok. They had to stop me, try to hold me back.

At this point, my throat was pretty soar.

As soon as we got out of the ambulence, they had to wand me through security. I saw one of my battle buddies ahead of me, I just wanted to get over to them and make sure they were ok. At this point, I was pretty loud and uncooperative. They wanded me through, found my gerber and took that, but missing a crucial piece tucked in my boot. Getting through to EMT, they tried to stop me as I made my way through the people to get to my buddies, demanding to see them.

The Combat Stress guys noted that i was obviously in an altered mental state and were dispatched to take charge of me. They coaxed me into coming with them, rather reluctantly, I followed them, continuing to wail about my friends and demanding to see them. They managed to get me in the back room and try to talk me down, and for a moment it worked.

But only for a moment. Security had missed the knife in my boot and I pulled it out, threatening them about taking my own life. It was done and over with, I had no reason to live anymore.

The Combat Stress guy ended up getting stabbed with the knife, and they drugged me and put me under, consulting the MP's about a whacked mental patient in the hospital. They then had me restrained and took me to get checked out.

That was the scenerio for the Mass Casuality excercise we were playing with the hospital. Yes, in deed, I was the whacked out mental health patient. And I had fun! If they are going to make me work in the middle of the night, I was going to make the most of it.

Several people mentioned that they were going to nominate me for an academy award, I normally can't act, but apparently I'm very good at acting like a nutcase. Several people mentioned that I was acting a little to well for the part, and made mention of this. I only laughed.

But let's just say I got everyone's attention when I came into the EMT, and for having to come in to do a MASCAL at one in the morning, I woke everyone up.

At least I managed to live through this MASCAL. I did one the night before as a patient with a Bilateral Rib Fracture and they ended up killing me.


Car Shopping

Well, one of the first things I have to do when I get home is to buy a car. I mean, literally, as soon as I step foot back home, I'll probably be searching for a car. I just know what I want.

It's got to be economical, practical, and foriegn. My favorite brands are Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Honda and Volkswagen. I'll probably stick with Toyota. I want a vehicle with a model year of 1999 or newer, but if I find a good car that's older, I won't rule it out. But it needs to be in good condition, I plan on driving this thing a lot. I also prefer Manual transmission. Every car I have ever owned (all two of them) has been a stick. I would also like a car that has cheap insurance, so that basically rules out Honda. Front wheel drive is good too.

I just hope I don't do the typical girl thing, buy a car, and forget little things like Oil changes and the like.

This car is going to have to get me up mountains regularly. One model I was looking at that I really liked was the Subaru Baha. But I don't think the gas mileage was good enough for me. I would prefer to get a car that get's 30 MPG or better. I would like a four door, but its not absolutely necessary. Just a little car to get me to where I need to go. I'll likely get a luggage rack for the top of it and mount snowboards up there. Yeah, I want to be all hooah.

Car is a necessity. I've learned that while I've been here. I hate not being able to drive places.

Car shopping commences. We'll see how it goes when I get back to the states. If anybody else of car knowledge has any advice, I am all ears.


What is Leadership?

The last few weeks have been of serious reflection over this past year. I came on this deployment seeking three things. To develop myself as a Leader (knowing before hand that I was weak in this area), learn more about my job and to get a grasp of the army life in general. Maybe a deployment with nothing but Reservists and National Guardsmen isn't the optimal opportunity to seek out the latter, but I was hoping at least for something from the former.

The truth is, I've learned more about leadership and the military in general in the last month then I have the entire deployment. I made some serious errors in regards to my professional career in the military recently and I'm only now starting to recoup from them. I may never recoup from them, this deployment had nearly killed my love of the military and had at one point destroyed my drive and purpose for being in.

See, when I got back from leave, I had lost a lot of motivation for staying in the army. I just didn't care anymore. Only recently have I gotten that drive back, I feel more motivated, energetic, my will to succeed has returned. In looking back, I realize that poor leadership had taken that out of me.

I won't go into details, I won't defame anybody's name (whether they deserve it or not) on my blog, but looking back, I've lost a lot of respect for one person in particular. I'm sure they know this, as though I do blame myself for not taking a more proactive approach on my own career and standing up to the idiocy that surrounded me earlier, they didn't go out of their way to help me. Even when I went to them seeking their help. I think that's where I made my first mistake, trusting them when they quickly proved that they didn't deserve that trust. Somebody gave me the analogy of somebody pretending to be my friend, patting me on the back where in reality they were just looking for a place to plant the knife. And by my nature, even though I would get angry at them for the bullsh** they piled upon me, I still gave them another chance. I gave them another chance when they had given up on me a long time ago. I kick myself for that.

I guarantee you I won't make that same mistake in the future. I know what to expect from my leaders and mentors now.

Maybe one day, I can actually prove that I have what it takes to be a leader. But not this year. Somebody had successfully squashed that early on this deployment.

In the December alone I have felt happier, more sure of myself, and eager to do my job and perform my mission then I had before. I think this has a lot to do from me being pulled from my former section where I felt like I had no purpose and spent most of my time trying to figure out what I had done wrong and why I had failed so horribly. There is a lot about this deployment that I have not delved into through my blog, I haven't even scraped the surface. Maybe I never will. But many of my readers probably noted my intense frustration throughout it.

Amazing, that frustration is practically gone. I just need to get it out and drive on. Only a short while left in theater and then I'll be home free.

And maybe I'll give the army another chance to prove to me that it's not as broken as I have been led to believe.


On a More Somber Note

Some of you may have noted the Shout from my sister in my Comment Box a while back. And my subsequent silence. Well, I guess I will take this time to explain what happened.

My grandmother, who would have turned 90 next month, had just had back surgery. The surgery went fine, but shortly thereafter she had a stroke. The following day she had another stroke. Because of her condition, my family sent me a red cross message to try to get me home in time to say goodbye to her.

Unfortunately, it was to late. My grandmother, who is responsible for naming me Kami by the way (that's a good thing), passed away on Saturday 17 Dec 2005. She was in no pain and at peace. She led a very full life and I am very priveleged to have known her. She is in a better place now, and I am doing fine myself.

I will also be finishing out this deployment with my unit. I'm doing very well, but I have a feeling that her absence from my family will be felt when I get home.

She is in a better place, and I have a feeling that she is watching after me right now. Especially concerning the peace that I felt after she had passed.

Rest in Peace, Esther. You will be missed, but I have no doubt we will see each other again.

That Time Of Year

Santa visited us here in Kosovo.

I asked for a Pistol for Christmas.

See previous post as to why.

Die Schützenschnur

The Schützenschnur is, as I have mentioned before, the German Marksmanship Badge, which you get for firing german weapons. Its one of the few badges that is authorized for wear on the American uniform. And ever since I heard about it, oh so long ago, I wanted a shot at it.

When I found out that I had the opportunity to acquire this most prized item while in Kosovo, I knew that eventually, some day, IT WOULD BE MINE!

Well, I got it!

So, a little background on the Schützenschnur. The badge is worn on the uniform as a silver chord on the right shoulder. It looks high speed too. You have three different levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. In my opinion Bronze and Silver look best. Gold is just, to shiney. Then again, I've never been a fan of gold.

Well, I got the Schützenschnur, though sadly, I wasn't presented it in a formal ceremony like previous acquirers of it before me. I nabbed bronze, only because I have learned that I am killer on a rifle but I need help on a pistol.

I am lucky that I have had previous experience with the HK and the G36, so I was ahead of the game, a little bit. But I'm going home and taking a pistol to the range a lot more.

Anyway, the Schützenschnur has three parts. The G36 Battle Rifle, the HK Pistol, and the German Machine Gun. Somebody help me, I don't remember its nomenclature. SO anyway, you have 16 shots with the G36, you fire at targets from 200 M, 150 M, 100M and 80M. 4 shots from each location. Leaning against the wall, standing, kneeling, prone unsupported. If you can fire an M16, the G36 is a cake walk. Beautiful weapon.

you have 8 targets, you have to get a round in each of them at least once. You have to hit 9 to get Bronze, 12 to get silver, and 14 to get Gold. I think. I know I just got gold.

I was cold that day.

The HK is fired from the standing position, you have to fire it from 25 Meters at a bullseye target. 5 rounds. If you score 45 or better, you get Gold, 40 is silver, and 35 is Bronze. This got me. Unlike the M9, the HK fires low, so you have to kind of aim high. I didn't know what I was shooting at back in June, so I just fired rounds down range back then. I had to fire this weapon 3 times just to get the ligit bronze.

This is me (in unauthorized headgear) and a German dude in front of the Wolf, which is Mercedes' version of the Hummer. You can see the targets in the background.

To the side is three more sillhoutes. You have to shoot five rounds at them as well. One in each is Bronze. Two in one and one in the other two is silver. Two with two and one with one is Gold. Gold was easy.

How they grade the Schützenschnur is your lowest score is your score for the whole thing. I got Gold, Gold and Bronze. That means I got Bronze.

So, what about that Machine Gun you might ask? Well, at this particular range, they didn't have us fire with a Machine Gun. This made me sad. Hence, why I don't have its nomenclature down. The Machine Gun is the toughest one to shoot from what I understand. Dude, firing that thing would have been worth getting a Bronze for. Instead, I bit the HK. *sigh*

Indeed, back to the range for me.

As to the Unauthorized Headgear?

Army's live for trading things. In this case, we traded Hats! Patches are a plus too :)

I got my badge now. I'll need to get a picture of it.

They had the final range yesterday. I did this about a week and a half ago. This is what makes these deployments so worth it.

Did I mention that the German Army is one of the coolest Armies in KFOR?


Invinigorated once more

Its amazing that in the last three weeks, I have felt energized and motivated with the army again. I've discovered that this is due in part to the absence of one specific individual who I am in correspondance with in a professional only basis. No more unwelcome advice, no more long lectures about nothing. In fact, for the first time this rotation, I've felt like I actually have a purpose here. I've discovered a long time ago that I am a happy soldier when I feel like I have a reason to be, and my former command's catch all cure for a problem soldier was to fire them from whatever job they were doing.

I could go into that, but I don't feel that this is the oppropriate time to do so.

Meanwhile, I finally did the Schutzenschnur a while back. Pictures to come.


Blog Hiatus

So, I thought I would mention that I haven't posted much lately. This is on several accounts, one of which I have been burdoned with some personal issues both here and back home and am working on that, and my internet availability is limited and not my priority at this time.

This small hiatus is not in response to any command given to me by my chain of command, it is completely voluntary on my part. Right now, I just need some time to sort through the current issues pressing upon me and give myself some time to think.

Posting will be irregular and sporadic until I get home. Just thought I would warn you now.


Hey Dad

Task Force Med Falcon sends their thanks for the fudge :)

It was delicious!


I Wish You a Merry Christmas

One more week of class and I'm done with school.

A part of me is wondering what I was thinking when I signed up to take classes this close to going home, but for the most part, it's been nice to refresh up on my Deutsches Sprechen, and I forgot how much I love science. I'm a geek of the worst sense.

Still don't know my grade for the Harry Potter class.

My family apparently got my christmas message. I didn't want to say anything about it, it was sort of a surprise that I wanted to do. Back in early November, they gave us the option of recording a message to send back to a news station in the states where you can wish your family and friends a merry christmas. They will then air it on TV and let your family know when it will show up.

Well, my initial message was something along the lines of me saying "This is SGT Erickson in Camp Bondsteel Kosovo, I just want to wish my family and friends back home a Merry Christmas, I'll see you soon!"

For some reason, I got the brilliant idea that I should wish my family a merry christmas all by name.

Well, considering I've got 5 brothers and sisters, plus my parents, after rambling through their names, and wishing their kids a merry christmas as well (and conveniantly forgetting the spouses) I was wondering if this was such a good idea.

It took me two times to record it, most people just said it and went on.

So, Mom, how was it? Was it as bad as I think it is?


TV Shows are the Plague

Note to Self:

TV shows are EEEVILLL!!!!

I knew this for a long time, hence I don't usually watch TV. Why? Because TV shows are addictive, you tend to want to watch them to see what happens next. I've been very good at not watching TV while I've been here, because I don't want to get caught up in some storyline where all I can think of is 'what happens next?'

Well, in this new day and age of TV shows on DVD, you can't help but get caught up in a TV show and watch it all in a couple of days.

Well, a lot of people have been doing that, but I have, for the most part, refrained.

Until now.

I went to the PX, for lack of something better to do, and saw Seasons 1 & 2 along with Season 3 of Sliders. I may have mentioned that I've been watching it lately, well, in deed I went ahead and bought the 1&2 pack and debated on buying the 3rd season, but since it was a complete impulse anyway, I passed on it and decided if it came down to it, I would just buy it when I came home.

Well, Season 3 is no longer at the PX. I'm down to my lask disc of seasons 1&2. I want to continue watching this dad nab it!


I hate tv shows.


The Official 'To Do' List

One of the greatest questions I've been asked is what do I plan to do when I get back to the states and am officially out of the military. The first thing I usually say is "sleep".

But the truth is I will have far to much stuff on my plate then to take a month long snooze and get away with it. Though my monetary problems will be at a minimum, my first goal is to try to retain as much self control as humanly possible so that I don't blow all of my money in two months. That would be bad.

So, what do I have to do? Let's see then.
  • Take Laptop to shop - this laptop has acquired such a beating that now I have one barely functional USB port and the laptop requires to be connected to an outlet in order to work. I'm very harsh on my electronics. Fortunately, I extended the Warranty on it.
  • Buy a Car - Something small, affordable, and economical. Preferably a Toyota.
  • Insurance - A necessary evil, fortunately for me, my drivers record looks good. Now. Not sure how long THAT will last.
  • Get License - Um, I just had my birthday, and with it, my drivers license expired.
  • Pay off Medical Bill - My amnesiatic experience always comes back to haunt me. But good news, other then my student loan, it is my only outstanding bill. It will be paid off in a matter of one check. Done, case closed. Hallelujah.
  • Get Moved Into New Place - Apparently, I got a room waiting for me at my brother's. He just bought a house.
  • Get Job back at Hastings - Although i can probably wait a bit on this one, I enjoyed my job at Hastings and got some killer discounts there. I plan on going back there and getting some movies and books and things on my 'to buy' list at a cheap price. And its a job I discovered I actually like, I can work there for a bit until I decide what I want to do, IE go active duty, go back to school, look for a real job, etc. . .
  • Go through Crap and get rid of it - or sell it on eBay. I am a Packrat of the worse sense.
  • Plan Out Big Trip - I've got a trip to New Zealand/Australia (ie Downunder) coming up next summer, er, Winter for them. I've got to fine tune this one. And make sure i can afford to do it. Fortunately, I've got connections.
  • Plan out Not So big Trip - Endulging in my inner Geekdom, my brother and I are going to a convention, we don't know which one, but it coincides with Road Trip. It might take us across the country, we might just go to Seattle. We aren't sure yet.
  • Go Skydiving - So I plan on doing this when I get home. It is on my 'to do before I die' list, hopefully it doesn't end in my death. But sounds like fun. This will likely coincide with another road trip. To Arizona or some other such destination.
  • Paint - More. I want to get back into my art so bad its not even funny. And the real thing, not what I'm doing here. I'm alreayd bored of it.
  • Talk to Recruiters - Don't panic family, I'm looking at options. I might get back into the army, wait until this summer or something. I just need a breather from it for now. Don't know if I'll reenlist, but I want to keep my options open.
  • Find out what I want to do with the rest of my life - GAAAAAHHHHH!!!! The eternal question, I don't think I'll ever get this one answered.
  • Actively seek companionship with member of opposite sex - In other words, date. No, I'm serious! I'm getting the thoughts of whether or not I want to start a family, and if I go that route, I want to have kids when I'm young. Not in my forties. Gag. I can't believe I'm already 25.

This is always an ongoing thing with me. Well, whenever I make lists with the intention of completing them. This could be a Resolution type thing, so I'm a little early if you look at it from that perspective. But I really would like to get back into different things I was doing before.

And with the movies thing, I've already got an idea of what movies I want to buy. Which means I'm going to go to the different Hastings stores and raid their Used Sections. Hopefully the policy on used videos hasn't changed.


Life These Days

So, the last couple of days have been pretty good. I've been busy moving out of one location and into another, which has poor internet service and now I'm having trouble blogging consistently because of it.

I also gave away my TV to a Greek LNO guy who was sharing a room with his Sergeant Major who only wanted to watch Football (er, that's Soccer to Americans) because I was planning to sell it for dirt cheap anyway to the incoming people in the next rotation and didn't really feel all that keen on dragging it over to the 'crack houses' where I now currently reside. The space is cramped. It's the trailer park of Camp Bondsteel.

But I only share my tiny space with one other occupant, and we understand each other so its all good.

Meanwhile, my space is actually not as cramped up as before, because of how I had my stuff set up, and now I'm kind of forced to sort through it. Which has me looking through old papers and deciding on what I need to throw out and what I should keep. And my family and anyone who has ever lived with me can attest to the fact that I am a pack rat. Unfortunately, I haven't managed to drop this habit. But I must condense before I send.

Another box will be in the mail shortly. Which reminds me, I really need to get those Christmas Cards out.

I spent the last couple of days watching a lot of Sliders lately. I forgot how much I loved this TV Show. It just goes to show how big of a dork I am.


The Latest Project

I've kind of picked up a side job here in Kosovo for the last part of time I'm here. It's working with PsyOp, illustrating.

They put out publications and stuff to the locals to help sway their minds about certain issues, and the big issue in Kosovo is getting the Albanians and the Serbians to try to find some way past their respective differences and get along. Because as soon as they stop fighting each other, this little community might be able to gain independence. Or who knows, getting turned back over to Serbia. Or something. But until that happens, well, you might as well just expect NATO and a bunch of member nations protecting these people from each other as it remains a protectorate of the UN.

One way they try to pass the message is to the kids. This is through various magazines and such, which is a cool idea. In fact, hanging out with Psyop, they have a pretty interesting job.

Meanwhile, where do I come in? Well, I'm an artist type person that's been working in illustration a bit lately, especially anthropormorphic characters recently. They put up a notice for Artists, Graphic Illustrators and Computer type Peoples to help them with these various publications. I answered their call because I had to do something with my time.

Well, they set me up with the task of creating an illustration for their junior magazine with a winter safety message. Like "dress warmly for winter" or "Be careful when walking on Ice" that the kids can color or something. It's also important to have characters that are obviously different depicted as getting along, to try to enforce the message of unity between different people. What's funny is the Psyop guys have furry costumes to dress up in when distribtuting their magazine (they wore them during Halloween, seeing a disney type character armed with an M9 was a riot, I've got pictures) so they liked the idea that I did Anthros.

Now I've been supposed to work on this for the last week. Due to my current issues with the unit, well, I haven't exactly been up to speed on it, so I decided to try to work on it tonight.

But they should be fairly playful and nothing sensitive. This really isn't a traditional project in the military. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

The Latest Project

I've kind of picked up a side job here in Kosovo for the last part of time I'm here. It's working with PsyOp, illustrating.

They put out publications and stuff to the locals to help sway their minds about certain issues, and the big issue in Kosovo is getting the Albanians and the Serbians to try to find some way past their respective differences and get along. Because as soon as they stop fighting each other, this little community might be able to gain independence. Or who knows, getting turned back over to Serbia. Or something. But until that happens, well, you might as well just expect NATO and a bunch of member nations protecting these people from each other as it remains a protectorate of the UN.

One way they try to pass the message is to the kids. This is through various magazines and such, which is a cool idea. In fact, hanging out with Psyop, they have a pretty interesting job.

Meanwhile, where do I come in? Well, I'm an artist type person that's been working in illustration a bit lately, especially anthropormorphic characters recently. They put up a notice for Artists, Graphic Illustrators and Computer type Peoples to help them with these various publications. I answered their call because I had to do something with my time.

Well, they set me up with the task of creating an illustration for their junior magazine with a winter safety message. Like "dress warmly for winter" or "Be careful when walking on Ice" that the kids can color or something. It's also important to have characters that are obviously different depicted as getting along, to try to enforce the message of unity between different people. What's funny is the Psyop guys have furry costumes to dress up in when distribtuting their magazine (they wore them during Halloween, seeing a disney type character armed with an M9 was a riot, I've got pictures) so they liked the idea that I did Anthros.

Now I've been supposed to work on this for the last week. Due to my current issues with the unit, well, I haven't exactly been up to speed on it, so I decided to try to work on it tonight.

But they should be fairly playful and nothing sensitive. This really isn't a traditional project in the military. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.


A Note to My Readership

I just wanted to let you all know how much your comments meant to me. I found out I was deploying to Kosovo in October of Last Year and had been gearing up for it through November. I didn't know what would really come of my blog, which I had already had for three years before that. In fact, I thought it would probably die and I wouldn't use it that much. My blog has been on its deathbed before where I wouldn't post much of anything for a few months at a time.

Well, I posted my infamous Not Sorry Pic and my blog got a lot of attention. I wasn't sure how I would be able to handle this at the time with my deployment, and decided to try to keep my blog up anyway. This deployment has been a difficult one for a variety of reasons, which I won't go into here, but I have found a lot of support from my readership and I was able to hang in there.

You all made me want to fight this issue, this blog has been a tremendous help for me while I've been serving here, so I want to thank you for your support and encouraging words, and for being there to root for me in this. I've got a couple of months left and I'll be out of the army (for now, don't know if I'll get back in) and I have a feeling that this blog will continue to be there. I've always been a bit baffled by the readership I get, I don't know why you all find me interesting, but I'm amused and in awe by the attention this blog has recieved.

My Executive Officer made the comment to me when he told me that I could continue blogging that I have a lot of guts to post personal thoughts on such a public forum. I don't know why blogging has appealed to me, but its a hobby I'm glad I've taken up.

I think this deployment is ending on the right track. Once again, thank you for your support, it means a lot to me.

The NCO Creed

No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers. As a Noncommissioned Officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as "The Backbone of the Army". I am proud of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the Military Service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.

Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind -- accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers. I will strive to remain tactically and technically proficient. I am aware of my role as a Noncommissioned Officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.

Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, Noncommissioned Officers, leaders!

This is the NCO Creed, which all NCO's should live by. I admit that I haven't always been able to live by the creed, but I've attempted to memorize it in the past and tried to grow into it. I have seen many Sergeants in the army who don't seem to know what this is or even try to do anything with it.

Well, the latest info on my journey in Kosovo, I am no longer in the section I came here under. My former NCOIC and I had one clash to many and I felt that I could no longer perform adequately under him, so I asked to be removed. I have been moved out of Preventive Medicine and now I work in the hospital doing general tasks that need to be performed directly for the First Sergeant. I think I'll be fine with this arrangement, I've got a little time left and December has so far started off on the right foot already.

A load has been lifted. I just hope the rest of this month goes by with no more major issues.

I also think that the blog will no longer be an issue. I will do everything in my power to make sure it remains an non-issue as well.


Range Day

Well, in other news, I finally went to the range today to qualify. I'll be brief and to the point.

19 out of 20 in the Prone Supported (this seems to be rather consistent)
16 out of 20 in the Prone Unsupported.

35 out of 40, Sharp Shooter baby! WooHOO! Which brings me up in the Order of Merit list and guarantees me a slot in the next Schutzenshnur!

Um, actually, I think my slot was guaranteed in the next Schutzenschnur (which is not the upcoming Schutzenschnur but the one following it), but that is a long story of its own. Let's just say I've moved from an Alternate to a definite slot. *squee!*

(I like Elbow Pads. They work great on plywood)

I Fought the Law and I Won

Ok, for those of you who have been curious for the last couple of days, my blog was down. This was in respect to a direct order I recieved from my Chain of Command. It was also in regards to me posting pictures when I was ordered not too. Now, granted, I probably shouldn't have posted the pictures and I posted them anyway, but from my understanding of military regulations, and my research on it, it seemed to me that my posting the pictures was not in violation of any military regulation, other then a disobeyment of a direct order that I thought was not entirely lawful.

Turns out that it was a violation of my first ammendment rights and they cannot tell me to shut down my website. Granted, soldiers have a more limited freedom of Speech then civilians do, but it is still there. As long as my pictures are not pictures depicting anything that has to do with the mission, sensitive items, damaged vehicles or anything of that sort or of that nature, I can post it. I will refrain from posting pictures in the military setting period, just so I can relieve this burdon of my blog off my command's shoulders (because believe me, they are sick of it), I will probably refrain from talking much on military matters anyway.

So anyway, the jig is this. I can post pictures on my website, and I can continue to post blog entrees on my website, as long as they don't violate the regulation on them. So my blog cannot be shut down. Higher up the chain confirmed this, and the Inspector General confirmed this. I am within my constitutional rights to post on this blog and have this website. I am not providing information to the enemy.

But I will refrain from mentioning the journey getting to that verdict, as honestly, I am still a soldier and I need to be respectful of my chain of command.

But believe me, it hasn't been a pretty fight.


Song Translations

1. Take the lyrics to a favorite song.
2. Go to Google Language Tools and translate the lyrics into German; then from German to French; and finally from French back into English.
3. Post the results verbatim.
4. Invite your friends to guess the song based on the newly mangled lyrics.

I originally did this song that I love and I feel like it fits my personality, but I'm not sure how well people would know it. So went back and found a song that I knew my family would at the very least get.

All my bags are packed, I must have gone ready, me outside your door,
me are hated here to awake you until saying on re-examining.
but to be born it to break, early Morn, it taxi to wait to roast its horn.
Already, I, am could me die thus solitairement.
If you embrace me thus and if you smile for me, it explains me why that you hold me, me wait, as you do not leave me will never go.
if you cause abandoned ' me on a jet, it does not know, when I am back again.
OH -, baby outward journey hatred me.

There are thus many marks which I leave you in the passage have,
therefore much marks me around, me played you declare themselves, that now they do not mean thing.
Each place that I go me, thinks of you that of each Song I sing myself for you sings, if I turn over, me take your wedding ring.
If you embrace me thus and if you smile for me,
it explains me why that you hold me, me wait, as you do not leave me will never go.
if you cause abandoned ' me on a jet, it does not know, when I am back again.
OH -, baby outward journey hatred me.

is now time to leave you, another mark come made me kiss you, then narrowly your eyes, is me on my manner.
dream over the days, for, if I should not only go to come over times that I should not say:
if you embrace me and if you smile for me, you declare me that that you await me, hold me, as you do not leave me will never go.
if you cause abandoned ' me on a jet, it does not know, when I am back again.
OH -, baby outward journey hatred me.
I leave on a jet, do not know, when I am back again.
OH -, baby outward journey hatred me.

I also did it to the chorus of a famous christmas song.

Jingle bells, Jingleglocken, jingle completely. OH - that the recreation should assemble to him in open a sleigh the horse one.

Hehe, good fun!

The Damage to my Pop Culture Knowledge is Apparent

So I was waiting in line for the phones watching the football game (sidenote, yes I tried to call home, but all the lines were down, so I'll try later tonight) and it made it to the Half Time show. I was just listening when it mentioned something along the lines of a 'Female Artist with the number one selling album of 2005', and I casually wonder who this might be. I'm a little out of the loop, like I mentioned, I was wondering if it was somebody like Beyonce Knowles, who knows.

And then they say "mariah Carrey" and I do a double take, thinking 'huh?' Mariah actually made a come back???

Then I heard a song she was singing, one I've heard in the Coffee Shop one to many times, and then thought 'that's Mariah Carrey?'

What am I going to do with myself when I get home? I have to work at a job that depends on me knowing what's current, what is going to happen when somebody mentions a movie and I go 'huh?'

*sigh* I guess I'll manage.

Technical Difficulties

So, like I mentioned before, today was Thanksgiving. And to prepare for this day, I was given an assignment.

It was called, 'slide show'. More appropriately, it was termed 'funny slide show' but for all intensive purposes, I will just call it 'slide show'.

I actually inheritated this project from somebody else who was busy doing other things, I guess. And I have found all this free time recently (well, people seem to think I've found free time) so they have given me all of these tasks, this being one of them.

Well, since I've been collecting pictures for the website fiasco as well as the yearbook, truthfully I was a perfect candidate for the job. That, and 89.5% of the task force seems to be computer illiterate. So I looked through the thousands of pictures I have accumulated (many of which I had even taken) and looked for mildy humorous ones. I sent out emails asking people to send me stuff. Begging at times. And considering that half the task force these days hates my guts (or so it seems at times), sometimes this can be a tricky task.

So anyway, I had acquired about 450 pictures of various people doing funny stuff, some pictures only mildly so, and had arranged them from the point of Fort Lewis, Hohenfels, at work, at play, just setting them up in different categories. I sifted through them some more, making sure I had enough pictures, dumping ones that just didn't work and put together a little powerpoint presentation using all of these pictures, and dumped them all into a file when I was done with them. I also encorporated about 7 videos or so, hoping to space those out throughout the show.

As the day came closer, more people would give me pictures, some of them sent anonymously (for obvious reasons it soon became apparent) but I had them organized, captioned if necessary, and put in a row.

Getting the equipment together turned into a pain. But it all got together and I felt satisfied.

And then I discovered that the file for the slide show had grown to be so big, that it was freezing up my computer (which lately is already on the fritz, so this wasn't helping.) We're eating dinner, people saying what they are thankful for, getting awards (I got my solitary Certificate of Achievement, I think I am now the least awarded person in the Task Force, GO ME!) while I'm trying to figure out how to get this thing going.

And then they turn the attention to me, and I've got the 100+ people of the task force (half of which already hates my guts remember) staring at me waiting for the slide show, and all I can say is "having technical difficulties, please give me a second while I move to plan B"

I had to sort through and get rid of one or two 'innappropriate' pictures that didn't make the original cut and move some others and forego powerpoint altogether. Then I put on the default slide show, and every one got to see 'slide show' with a bunch of pictures at random. Videos were shown at the end.

Overall, I think it went fairly well. I got one criticism that I had to many pictures of PM in there, as well as a certain Sergeant or two, but I worked with what I had. I had several pictures of me doing stupid stuff because I don't take myself seriously and I don't care if people laugh at me. If people wanted to send in pictures, I had given them ample opportunities in the form of three emails (not to mention that I've put out notices in the past asking for people's pictures for Yearbook and Website purposes) so some people were not represented at all. And there were quite a few pictures that ended up in the slide show that I didn't intend to make it.

Now I got a bunch of people asking for the pictures and what not. But half the task force still seems to hate my guts so its all good.


Turkey Trot

Ok, so my section has sort of given me the morning off it being Thanksgiving and all. And we need to be able to celebrate something, right?

So anyway, one of the things I realized I hadn't done is sign up for one of the 5K 'Fun' runs. I have been in Bondsteel for over ten months and I had never ran Radar Hill. This was a travesty.

So today, I ran a 5 K run and got a T-shirt out of the process. I should have done more of these since I've been here. The T-shirts are pretty cool. I'm going to wear this when I run Bloomsday next year.

They made them one size fits all. I look awful because I just finished running up Radar Hill.

I personally was won over by the image on the shirt :)

What Does R.I.S.A.W.N. Mean Anyway?

Just because I could, Memes! Rather strange ones, but hey, I got a kick out of them!
My Sexy Name

Ravishing Ideal Seductress Administering Worship and Necking

My Cyborg Name

Robotic Individual Skilled in Assassination and Worldwide Nullification

My Monster Name

Ravenous Investigator-Snatching Abomination from the Wild Necropolis

I'm a bit partial to the Cyborg name.


The Snow started to stick yesterday. And it came and went all day today. Kosovo is covered in fluffy white stuff.

Which is good news for me in regards to the Ski Resort. I might be able to get up to Brezavica by the end of this deployement if it all works out.

Everything's packed, a sucky time to have a birthday, I can't even ask people to send me stuff from home, because I would get it, say 'wow, this is cool!' only to turn around and ship it back home again. So my family has offered to have a Birthday/Christmas Party for me when I get home. Which will be sometime in January or February.

Yesterday wasn't exactly the best birthday I ever had, for the most part it's been quiet, except for SSG Eades singing a Happy Birthday song to me this morning, which cracked a smile in my otherwise gloomy demeanor. Nate and a few of my battle buddies from Task Force Tornado also brought over a bag of goodies last night. But mostly over the last couple of days I've been deep in thought. Not depressed or anything like that, just contemplative of where my life is going.

An incident occurred over the weekend that I would have rather not happened. It was a case of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time and quite truthfully, like most of the rest of this year, I would have rather not gotten involved. I have a bad habit of wanting to do the right thing I guess, sometimes at the expense of others who do, shall we say, things they shouldn't be. I would rather if they want to do something stupid, that they would leave me out of it or not clue me in that they are doing it, and for the most part, this task force (or rather, the people in it) have been pretty good at doing just that.

I feel bad because the incident with my roommate at the beginning of the year happened because I didn't make things clear for her when we initially started rooming, and it turns out that she's not doing anything that nobody else in the task force isn't doing. (er, did I say that right?) And she's turned out to be a nice person, in fact we greet each other when we cross paths as I try to make it known that I feel no ill will to her.

I guess that's one thing about me that I've always known, its one of my great weaknesses coupled with one of my great strengths, how I can get angry as all living hell at a person and days later not hold a grudge against them. Unfortunately, people may hold a grudge against me, and all I can do is remember that this is only a year of my life, I've got two more months to go, and I will never see most of these people again. I can try to end it on a positive note (which I'm not sure I'm succeeding at, especially within my Task Force) or I can be sour and moody until I make it home.

Well, I've still got my goals forefront in my mind, rain or snow, i want to get the Schutzenshnur, and I've still got a mission to make it to Brezavica and snowboard with my friend Andrea who works for UNMIK (which reminds me, I need to email him), and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I do have a lot to be thankful for, and being in a place like this really makes that come forefront in my mind. I need to keep that attitude.


Quarter Century Milestone

To think, 25 years ago a small being came into the world.

Today, that little person turned into me.

What the heck happened???


Time Draws Nearer

People are already counting the days until they get to go home. I refuse to do so, mainly because my experience with the military has taught me you don't count the days to anything. Because they will give us a specific date, we'll get all hyped up on that, and then something will happen and it gets delayed for another week or so.

I know the timeframe, I'll be glad if we get out of here within two weeks of our projected 'we're going home' date.

And because my re-up date has come, and gone, I'm getting a bunch of questions and emails and stuff asking me if I want to re-enlist.

It's like the Godfather. You think you got out, but they pull you back in!

Meanwhile, I'm busy at work making a slide show for the amusement of people within my task force, to include a lot of pictures of myself so people get to laugh at my expense. I have no problem with this, because 'usually' I don't take myself that seriously anyway. But sometimes people need to take me a little more seriously then they do.
Anyway, I'm going home in a couple of months. What do I have to look forward to?

  • I can Wear whatever I want!
  • Share the road with other cars, trucks, whatever, and be able to drive 65 MPH.
  • Not sharing the road with Kosovo Harleys, Horse Drawn Carts and tractors going about 5 KPH.
  • Things will be in Miles instead of Kilometers again!
  • I will not longer require a converter for my appliances!
  • Fast Food consists of more then Cinnabon, Burger King, and Anthony's Pizza.
  • Fine Dining is more then just going to eat at KFOR Main.
  • Television will consist of more then 5 scrambled channels without every other commercial being about anti Terrorism and OPSEC.
  • Goodby to IPKO, my unreliable internet provider (well, reliable as far as Kosovo goes)
  • I can see a movie the day it comes out like everyone else, instead of waiting for three or more months to see it at the Theater.
  • Guys won't be so desperate when the male female ratio will no longer be 20:1.
  • I can shop at more places then just the PX.
  • I am not required to wear a hat every time I step outdoors.
  • I can wear earrings.
  • Bubble Bath!
  • As much as I love shooting big guns, I will be glad to be rid of my 'security blanket' when I leave this place. Having a rifle with you 24/7 is a PITA.
  • I don't have to share my bathroom with 19 other women.
  • No longer will I have to see a nice pile of crap in the toilet every time I have to go number 2. (Long story. Its the toilets here. They're weird)
  • I don't have to share my Bedroom with anybody.
  • I can Drink if I want to! (Ok, so I don't drink, but that is what will be on top of many people's lists)
  • I get to pay for Gas again! (oh wait, that's negative)

So that's what I'm leaving here that I can't wait to see the end of. Except that last one. But while I'm on that same token, this is what I'll miss about this place.
  • Free Food (granted, its gross, but its free!)
  • Transportation is paid everywhere I go.
  • Tax Free Zone!
  • No Rent.
  • No Bills other then the ones I left behind.
  • Meeting people from all over Europe.
  • Greece and Bulgaria.
  • MWR is Cool.
Edit - D'oh! MWR stands for Morale, Welfare and Recreation, they are our morale center that keeps us motivated by providing phones, entertainment and what not.

Hmm, I'll make another list right before I leave.


Two Problems with the Army

This is a Rant. One that may even get me in trouble. But it needs to be said. I wish the pentagon would take note.

I have recently been witness to two issues with today's army that I disagree with. As a side note, this is my personal opinion on the matter and it doesn't really reflect my unit but rather the army as a whole. It just so happens that it is apparently everywhere including my unit.

And its driving me nuts.

The first issue is promotions. Right now the Army is trying to retain as many soldiers as it can and by doing this it is promoting everyone whether they deserve it or not. Which has shown to me a drastic decline in the NCO Corps. I have most certainly witnessed this first hand, from soldiers who have no business being leaders promoted from Specialist to Sergeant. In a lot of ways, in an attempt to make people feel important and motiviate them to stay green, they are cheapening the rank.

I hear that even ten years ago, to be a Buck Sergeant meant something. It meant that the army had enough faith in that soldier's leadership skills and discipline that they had what it took to lead troops, whereas today, you've been in with enough time in grade, they give you the stripes whether you earned them or not. Sometimes they don't even mind that you've been to Basic Sergeant School (PLDC, now WLC) or not. In fact, most people hadn't been when they got here. They got promoted anyway.

To take this a little further, my task force has about Five E-4s and below. The rest are sergeants and above. I could go on for fifteen minutes about who is wearing the rank of Sergeant unwarrented and why they don't deserve it. Its gotten ot the point that to be an NCO merely means you're a glorified Private, doing the grunt work while getting paid a little bit more. I mean, somebody has to do it, right? So they are wearing the rank of Sergeant, being paid for the rank of Sergeant, but they sure in hell aren't acting like Sergeants.

I'm not saying that I earned the rank of Sergeant. I have expressed in the past that I feel that I was promoted to soon to adequately learn the ropes of being a Sergeant, having been pinned with just over three years in. That's one of the reasons why I wasn't put in for my Staff Sergeant, because I hadn't successfully developed as a Sergeant since I've been in the army. I still have a lot to learn and have not been comfortable in my stripes.

In the early 80's, they did away with the ranks of Spec5-Spec8, these were basically the Specialists who were not leaders but knew their job and did well at their job. For some reason, the army decided to cut these ranks because apparently anybody in the army should at this time be a leader in the army. Well, I hate to break it to you, but there are people in the army that are just not cut out to be leaders, and to push a rank on them that they have no business wearing not only hurts them, but hurts the army as a whole. I'm not saying they aren't good soldiers, there are plenty of good soldiers that are probably among the best people this army has, but they lack the leadership skills to make good leaders as well. You can't force somebody to be a leader when that is not in their blood. That's how I feel about the matter. I am not a leader, I don't feel like a leader, I feel far more comfortable holding the rank of a Specialist then I do a Sergeant. I've been a sergeant for three years, and I still feel the same way. I'm to independent and to much of a lone shark to be a successful leader, especially in the Preventive Medicine field. Maybe my leadership skills can be displayed in other ways, but I sure in hell haven't shown them here.

Which brings me to my next point, Awards. Now, I'll let you in on a little history with me. I have four Certificate of Achievements singed by Colonols and 3 Army Achievement medals. They were all earned in my first three years in the army. Guess what? I haven't earned jack squat since I got promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Because I haven't shown my full potential as a Sergeant, because I don't make a good sergeant. The thing is, I'm fully aware of that fact, but I've hit a stalemate in my career.

My NCOIC talked to me about my performance and he didn't think I did my job to my full potential. I had to agree with him, as one of the things I learned on this Deployment is that I'm in the wrong job field. Its hard to succeed at something when you are doing something you do not like to do. I have no passion for preventive medicine. At least I can realize that and admit it.

So anyway, as far as I'm aware, I am not getting an award for my service in Kosovo. I'm getting the gimme medals, the stuff that I get for just being here, but I'm not going to be receiving any other type of medal. And that's ok, I didn't deserve them, i did my job, performed well, btu did not go above and beyond so why should I get them? To give me something when I didn't deserve it only cheapens the value of the award, they should be something earned through going above and beyond on your duties, not for just doing your job. I've been proud of recieving my awards in the past, though one of those awards I didn't feel I had earned then either.

The problem is, like the rank of sergeant, awards are getting to the point of you need to give them to your soldiers just so you can keep them happy and their morale high. Even if they are worthless soldiers who don't deserve them. I've been witness to quite a few awards given out in the last two months to soldiers who have done nothing to warrent them getting these awards. I attended an awards ceremony about a month ago and it made me sick to my stomach with the amount of BS being spouted within that room. I could barely stand it. I have refused to go to awards ceremonies since.

I would not be surprised if I am the only E5 in this task force that doesn't get an award, only because I have the only NCOIC who believes that it should be earned, not given out. And I applaud him for that, as I agree with him. At this rate, if I were to recieve one, I would feel like I might as well use it to blow my nose and wipe my ass, that is how much that award has been cheapened by the army who just shovels them out by the barrel full. Because as I look around and see the caliber of soldiers who are recieving them, and receiving them for lackluster and sometimes incredibly poor performances, what does that say about me? It just made me look like I belong on the bottom of a shit barrel.

So, from what I understand, I am getting a Certificate of Achievement, because they wanted to do something for me to help me in my promotion points. The problem is, I already have four of those, all signed by a Colonol. I can only use two toward promotion. Another one is as good as me using it as a target on my dart board. Apparently, people felt it necessary to dump out awards to undeserving soldiers to help them with their future promotions when they have no business holding the rank they do anyway.

Thanks for cheapening my army, no wonder I have a desire to get out? I hear the Marines still take things seriously in that matter, when you get an award as a Marine, you actually deserve it, and Sergeants are only made up of those who are true leaders. I might try joining them instead.


First Snow of the Season

So, it's snowing today! The first snowfall in Kosovo for this season. Which makes me a little giddy with joy as if it is snowing down here, then it has to be snowing in Brezavica.

Brezavica is the Kosovo ski resort. As soon as it opens up and they allow trips up there, I'll be gone for the day. Snowboarding. Which is my passion.

And I will take pictures, lots and lots of pictures.

The downside of snow however, is that snow is cold. Although I love snow, I don't like the cold. Especially when we're going to the range soon and if there is snow on the ground, that means I better be bundled up. Because I must qualify. And if I qualify expert, I'm going to the Schutzenshnur, and right now I have two goals for the rest of my time in Kosovo. Well, other then to make it home relatively sane and whole.

Goal Number Uno - Go Snowboarding in Brezavica.
Goal Number Dos - Qualify on the German Schutzenshnur.

They are both so close yet so far away. I might not get to do either, depending on how things go, if things heat up in Kosovo or not, or whether the weather just doesn't cooperate. As if it snows to much and the roads aren't good, we won't be able to go to Brezavica. And the snow can also cancel the Schutzenshnur. If the roads are considered to hazardous to take us to the German Camp that is.

But to think, i did pretty good in my time here so far. I did the Dancon, which is something I wanted to do, I climbed Big Duke. I've seen Greece and Bulgaria. I learned Kajukenbo, started learning the Guitar and am at a point that I could practice and teach myself from here on out. I got back into my art (though perhaps not in the direction I would have preferred to pursue). Helped out with the Yearbook, learned some Software trades with that. Discovered what I enjoy and don't enjoy about the army and more specifically my job. If I go home thinking that this year has been a waste, I really need to look back and consider all of the things I did that was good.

And I also got a huge compliment from the UPL OIC yesterday with my participation with the Urinalysis, no, not my favorite job here, but one I took seriously and tried to do the best I could. And apparently it showed. I have often felt frustrated at my job performance while stationed here, wanting to do better but somehting seemed to be holding me back. I've been analyzing my performance within my section a lot lately. I've got some hypothesis on that, in regards to how I think and my relationship with the people I work with, but perhaps that specific discussion is not appropriate to bring up in the form of my blog. Perhaps its just something I need to bring up with my chain of command. With a straight face and a calm demeanor, just something I need to talk to them about, to make sure that what happened with me doesn't happen again in the future.

Meanwhile, well, its snowing big fluffy snowflakes right now, and my science class is ended for the day, I did well on my first test, and now its back to work I go.

After I grab a quick bite to eat at the chow hall.


The Physics of Whoop Ass

So, I got back into Kajukenbo this week. We kind of went less into forms and more into gut instinct and what you can do if you find yourself in a situation where you just have to let loose on the guy and take him out quick and painless, for you at least.

We were kind of going over the rudementary forms over the last couple of days, cutting down to the bare basics, and its been kind of nice, seeing that this might be the last time in Kosovo that I can do Kajukenbo, but fortunately there is a basic Karate class afterwards that I can still attend that runs four times a week. I'm really thinking about jumping in on that starting next week (or the week after, depending on my schedule). But whatever the case, when I get home, I will definitely find a dojo in town and really start focusing on this more. I really do enjoy it.

Meanwhile, as an added bonus, today we went over Knife Techniques and some things you can do to defend yourself if you come in contact with a knife. Or if you have to fight and all you have is a knife. Which is Ok as long as the other guy doesn't have a gun. Good stuff.

I want to get better at the weapons aspect of Martial arts. Especially swords. And I think I want to get into knives.

Does this make me weird?


French Guys crack me up :)

(I don't care what they say about this, I'm posting it anyway!)

No, I'm not being disrespectful to the flag, this is called Trading Patches. We were goofing around. Anyway, this is one of my buddies from the Dancon that I met. We traded Patches, MRE's, Weapons (just to take a picture with) and emails. Apparently that may not be the last I ever hear from him.


This is Poptart. I drew him for a girl in an art trade.

I really need to draw less illustration and more like this. In fact, after this deployment, I think I'll consider myself done with Illustrations.

Well, for a while at least.

The Current Opinion Column on Politics

So, I've mentioned a few times that I've been out of the loop on current events, don't really know what's going on back in the states half the time, and really am not feeling the effects of cost of living or what not back home, as I don't pay insurance or gas or any other living expenses while in Kosovo.

However, I do find myself subject to the news and every so often you hear something about an opinion poll on politics or what not, and I hear things about how much the government hates black people on account of Katrina, and in fact when I was in Europe, I ran into some New Orleans refugees who were telling me that it wasn't as bad as the news made it out to be. In fact, their neighborhoods had survived just fine.

So when i'm getting substandard reports and hearing all of these statistics about approval ratings or what not, I just sigh and shake my head. I guess I'll feel the brunt of the force when I get back home.

But what's really funny about it all is how it all seems to come back to Bush. Everything is Bush's fault, as if the government is responsible for every aspect of our lives and can control the weather. I laugh at this.

So, with Bush's approval ratings at an all time low, do I have any regrets at giving him my vote? Of course not. For one, though perhaps Bush will not be remembered as one of our greatest presidents and has in fact made some mistakes in his presidency, I will never know if the alternative would have done better in the same circumstances, he very well could have done even worse. Could he have done better? Perhaps, but the thing is we will never know.

Though I wish Bush would have responded sooner to the Cindy Sheehan crowd with something along the lines of this. I was getting a bit dissapointed in him for not standing up and taking the heat sooner.

Because frankly I was getting sick of the 'Bush Lied' mantra myself, with all the high power libs jumping on the bandwagon and pointing fingers at everyone else other then themselves and not taking responsibility for the fact that they did in fact vote to go to war. That was their decision. If they are looking at it as being 'misled', suggesting that they didn't wouldn't have made the vote if they had known, then they have no business being under public office, as we're paying them the big bucks to make those tough choices. If they are just going to go under the policy of Hindsight, then I can't trust them to make an honest judgement if they have no foresight.

Besides, if you want somebody to blame, you'll have to blame the American people for electing these officials. And if you think you have to blame somebody about voting for Bush, you can blame me, as I still have no regrets over my choice. I don't believe Kerry would have done a better job.


My Little Booth of Doom

I think the hearing booth is going to be the death of me. And everyone else who enters into it.

We have one hearing booth. Just one. And its disfunctional. The handswitch doesn't work unless you press it just so (which means a lot of coaching of the people who enter the hearing booth), not to mention that they placed the location for the hearing tests at the worst conceivable location in the hospital.

Right outside the window is the Medavac landing pad, as well as Ground Ambulence. The hallway outside the door is one of the busies hallways in the Hospital. Its nestled between the office of the First Sergeant and the Company Commander.

You are constantly having to creap out into the hallway and whisper a 'SHHH!!!" to people passing.

And back to the switch. Yeah, it all leads to that switch. You have to press it just right, it should cancel out the series of three tones, and if it doesn't, your not pressing it right. If it speeds through the frequencies before you can adequately be tested on them, you're not pressing it right. If Mr. Monotone comes over the speaker to tell you that 'you are pressing the hand switch when no tone is present' and there is most definitely a tone, you're not pressing it right. If it gets louder and louder despite the fact that you are pressing the button, you're not pressing it right.

Sure, this will undoubtedly lead to bouts of frustration as people will want to press the response switch harder or swing it against the wall, but alas, this makes it WORSE! Instead, you have to take a deep breath, relax, and at the next tone, press it again.

After fifteen minutes of this insanity, I can allow people out of my 'booth of doom' to inform them that their 'torture is complete', while I finaggle with a printer that can only be fed one sheet of paper at a time.

This machine goes down soon for calibration. Oh how I can't wait.


We are pleased to inform you that we have located a few girls within a
couple miles of your location that are willing to meet with you (some wish to meet discreetly ;-)
Please be advised that this is NOT your typical dating service, privacy is of the upmost concern and your satisfaction & discretion is top priority.

*sigh* I wish these spammers would have the decency of getting my sex right, or at least my sexual orientation. Besides, I have a feeling that any females within a few miles of my location are probably not the type I would want to be doing anything with.

At least they haven't been asking me if I want to grow a penis lately.

Six Years Ago Today

Six years ago today I first took the oath of enlistment. I can't really believe how fast time has flown, in a way it's kind of scary to notice how as the older you get, the faster time goes by.

Before I know it, I'll have grey hair and require a walker. *shivers*

Of course, just turning 19, only five months out of High School, I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into. A part of me was enlisting for the adventure that was the army, another part of me was seeking out a way to gain my independence from my family, in a way to 'grow up'. And a part of me just didn't know what I was going to do.

The latter part of me still remains going strong. Though I often look back in my time in the army, and just after getting back from training and going to school, I wished that I had waited to get my AA degree first and then went active duty. Sometimes I dwell a bit in the past, trying to figure out how life would be if I had done something different. But then I realized something as I looked back on my life in general.

For all the bad things that have taken place, as the timeline flows something happens as a result of each and every choice I make, directly and indirectly. I could look back and think to myself 'yeah, it would have been better if I had done that instead', but do I really know this for certain? They say Hindsight is 20/20, but in truth, you still don't know every consequence that will happen with that action.

So, do I look back and wish I had done it differently? The answer is no, because what good has come out of my life in the last six years may never have happened, I've learned a lot about myself and have had experiences I may have never encountered otherwise. And I don't know if doing it differently would have produced the same results, or had even made it worse.

I do realize that upon my enlistment I probably should have picked a more compatable MOS, but I wouldn't have had the experiences I had or met the people I had met if I had done it any other way. I enlisted when I did for a reason and I'm where I am at for a reason.

For a long time I had often dwelled on the what ifs, looking back on this deployment even, I realized that maybe things weren't perfect, but a lot of good stuff happened that may never have happened otherwise.

Now the question is, should I reenlist? And what will the future bring?


Army Time

So, where am I at in my military career?

I'm not sure. But looking back on this deployment, I can tell you what I like and don't like about the military.

I've often griped about my job here, especially within the hospital, and muttering how much I hate my task force. And then I thought about it and discovered 'you know? Maybe I don't hate my task force. I just don't like working in a hospital, and that's where I'm at.' Because the people within my task force are by and large really good people who work hard at their job (and most of the time I don't even know what they do exactly) But the problem with the Hospital is that a hospital in teh army is not the army. Its a hospital. I love the army for the army, not because I wear green everyday and go to work in a clinical environment. Gag.

Several people have told me that I should work in the S1 shop or do something more with a computer and I'm thinking "are you crazy? I don't want to work on a computer 24/7, that would drive me nuts! I enjoy working on the computer on my own terms, but making that my job would make me loathe it. And I think that's part of my problem here. I literally work in an office on my deployment. True, I get out of the office to do things with my work, but it isn't work I like to do. Mostly because I 'HATE' inspections. But my idea of enjoying my job means not being in an Office. And that has been a problem. Kosovo wouldn't be bad, if I were doing something else. I have a computer, I could get online anytime I want on my own hours. Several people have mentioned that they would prefer to have an office. I generally get bored in one if I'm not busy with a handson assignment.

Well, working in the SAV-T will always remind me of what I love about the army. I loved Basic Training, didn't mind AIT but wish we weren't in the classroom so much and then I got back to my unit and thought 'this is it?'

I love the army to do army things. I think that was one of the reasons I was drawn to being a drill sergeant, not because it was an excuse for me to yell at people (though that's got its perks) but because if I were to do that, I would be doing what i love to do. And that is the army. I think actually my ideal job in the army would be a basic grunt, or even a training NCO or something along those lines. But since 11B (infantry) is closed to women, I have to look at other options.

I don't know if I'll reenlist or not, I'm doing to go home, let my family try to talk me out of it, take some time off and relax while working a simple but relatively easy job at the local Hastings for a few months and maybe explore some options.

We'll see if the army can successfully talk me back into the fold. Or one of those recruiters can sweet talk me. Just as long as I don't get caught up doing a job I don't want to do.

Or getting stuck in a hospital again.

Frappr Map

I don't know exactly what this entails, but I just made a Frappr Map. I saw one on Aaron's Blog and I thought I would post it.
Check out our Frappr!

So, um, apparently its for groups, but its just to see who's watching my blog or reading my stuff and what not. I thought it would be kind of cool, however it makes me sound like I have multiple personalities or something.

Maybe I should have called the map Incoherant Ramblings instead???

Rifle Marksmanship, again.

I trained on the SAV-T today. Because of my lackluster performance in the Prone Unsupported despite the fact that I'm pretty freakin' lethal in the Prone Supported, I decided I would see if I could get some extra training and maybe up my performance a bit.

See, we're having a range day *soon* and I'm going to go to this range with every intent on qualifying. And I better qualify Expert Damn it!

So at the SAV-T, I was sitting there with elbow pads shooting in the prone supported, prone unsupported, with the type of qualifying card we generally use here in Bondsteel. It looks like this. You have to put two rounds in each target in the Prone Supported (laying down with your rifle laying on a Sandbag. . . or something) and then two more rounds in each target in the Prone Unsupported (just lying down with no support on the weapon).

So I practiced putting rounds in targets in a similator. They had us practicing with M4s, saying that it is more difficult to qualify with an M4 then an M16.

So we did it just like we usually do, and my first round? 38 out of 40.

We did a few other excercises, like quick shooting, working on double tapping targets and shooting two to the chest and one to the head, among other things. Second score? 37 out of 40.

We did it again, just to keep in practice. Again, 38 out of 40.

What in the heck is my problem? I can go to the range, hit 19 out of 20 in the Prone Supported, and totally flake it in the Prone Unsupported. They tell me it might be my trigger squeeze, or heck, it might be the flack jacket doesn't fit me and they force me to wear it. My bad that I actually didn't practice in the SAV - T today with my flack jacket on, but hopefully, when I go back to qualify later, I can kill those targets mercilessly. I plan on hitting near if not at 37 out of 40. I just have to get a grip on the rifle in the prone unsupported. That's what I'm missing.

Because if I can actually qualify, and qualify near expert, I will jump the gun on the german Schutzenschnur and they can't keep that sucker away from me now. And I don't care what they say, I'll even post pictures! Somehow. Maybe.


More on that Deck o' Bloggers Stuff

Bumped! - because that saves on space.

Beth looks pissed. She wants that Queen of clubs and she'll order anyone around if she has to to get it. But meanwhile she makes a valid point in regards to the latest info on the cards.

John, the (Imperial) Armorer and Master of Castle Argghhh!!! is not in the cards listing. Hmm, if I nominate him, he gets ten points (and I can do this if I haven't nominated anybody for the clubs card yet, and I technically didn't nominate myself). However, another one that should be in the cards I would think is SGT Stryker.

But I can only nominate one!?! Argghhh!!!

Hmm, can I split the points and give them five points each?

(time for some german class)

Update - I realized I never nominated anybody for the Hearts Suit. I think I'm going to nominate my archnemesis SarahK, though I have to admit that there are quite a few other blogs that I was tempted to throw my vote toward.

Now they're voting on Hearts, the Clubs are over. I think I made the cards, though I didn't get a face card, Beth seems to have nabbed the honor of Queen of Clubs. She seems a worthy opponent for the honor, I tip my hat to her. However, the totals aren't in, (nominations are ten points) and often times my website doesn't do trackbacks. So I might get a low card, I might not. Somebody else might beat me out of the running.

We'll see. But if I do make a card, who'll buy a deck? They'll work on making an actual deck if there's enough interest!

Anyway, go over to Aaron's and vote for the Hearts. My vote's going to SarahK.

Update Again - er, so anyway, I misunderstood the meaning of what Higher Beings, Mortal Humans and Playful Primates meant. I didn't know what the Truth Laid Bear was, basically an ecosystem of Weblogs. Turns out I'm a rather Large Mammal, or something. And not even a large one at that.

So, um, I can endorse somebody, but it means nothing if I nominate them. No extra points from me (I should read the fine print more in detail in the future)

But the good news! I think I got a card! Probably the four or five of clubs, somewhere around there. Hmm, I'll take it!

The Star Spangled Banner - Handle with Care

Today is Veteran's day, for those of you who did not know. As such, on my first deployment, I have attained true Veteran Status to the point that I can sign up at my local cahpter of the VFW.

Well, on any patriotic event here in Kosovo, we have a formation. Today was no different. I'm not going to comment much on the formation itself, besides the fact that it was foggy and cold, and fortunately very brief, but I would like to make a point to bring up today's rendition of the National Anthem.

I don't know where to begin.

See, to me, the Star Spangled Banner has in times past envoked emotions within me that have led me to shed tears. It is a powerful song of incredible influence over a crowd. I remember standing up at Basketball games in High School and face the flag with everyone else in the crowd as my throat would start to hurt and I tried to keep myself from crying. It has often had that sort of impact on me. I have always loved this song.

The one fault of the song is that not just anybody can successfully sing it. I know I can't, not at the top of my lungs at least. In fact, one of the greatest criticisms of this song is the fact that it attains octaves that most normal human beings can't reach.

It is a song that can bring you to tears, or cause you to cringe in pain.

Today, I cringed in pain. I stood there in formation, at the position of Present Arms, trying not to do anything to give away my displeasure at how the song was performed. It was sung by three or four people trying to harmonize together (I don't know the exact numbers because I could not see the stage due to the brilliance of putting the tall people to the front of the formation and making all of us pipsqueaks stand toward the rear) who I would wager by themselves would have performed the song well. But singing it together, well, at one point I thought they were screaming into the microphone, it sounded awful. I don't think they even practiced before hand, because if somebody would have heard them singing together, they would have canceled that right then and there and found a different arrangement.

This performance rivaled that of Rosanne.

I love my country. I pray that I never have to cringe at the performance of its national anthem again.


Hmm, Scary

You Are a Little Scary

You've got a nice edge to you. Use it.

They should have made a question about how people react to pictures of you holding a m203 grenade launcher.

Err, maybe not.

The Problem with History Books

Ok, History used to be one of those subjects in High School that I loathed. I wasn't much of a history buff, I didn't really care much about what happened in the past, mostly because I was very much a dreamer and mostly spent my time in the here and now. Or rather, some daydream that couldn't possibly exist.

Sometimes I'm still very much like that.

Anyway, that changed my Sophomore year of highschool, when I took American History and for some reason, how the teacher taught it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned muchly. Mostly because I actually absorbed what I was learning. Funny how not a lot of people liked this teacher because of his method of teaching wasn't very popular, but it clicked with me.

Still, I won't claim to be much of a history buff, because most of what you learn about history is either not entirely accurate or the basis of the historian who wrote the book you're reading's agenda. So sometimes crucial facts to be regarded are conveniantly left out.

Therefore, I haven't always been a huge fan of history and still am not. True, I like to learn about things from the past in small doses, but I've learned you can't entirely trust your source 100% of the time.

Well, anyway, I still have an interest in history and while ordering Lileks' latest book "Mommy Knows Worst" (Hilarious! Buy it!) on Amazon, I wanted to get something so I wouldn't have to pay for shipping with it. So I ordered the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History to get my 25 bucks and hence free shipping.

When I get both books in, my NCOIC (who's a major history buff, and yet a Democrat) asked to borrow the Guide while waiting for me to finish Lileks. He had it for a couple of days but found some misconceptions in it himself, as he said that there was an obvious conservative agenda with the book. I told him that I agreed that there probably was, but that's when you use history books to balance each other out. Such as this one. Besides, I've always taken history books with a grain of salt, especially if you find an error within it.

I still wanted to give the book the benefit of the doubt, as maybe there is some spin on it, it should at least give me some facts or maybe just trivia in general that I can use.

Well, I started reading it, thought it was interesting myself, until I came to the chapter about Clinton. In one of the headings under this chapter it goes into detail about Clinton's escapade while in office. Sure, I don't deny any of this happened, except when I got to page 243 in regards to the dillema of the Balkans, where he points out how Yugoslavia seperated peacefully at first with Slovenia, and then violently with the seperation of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzogovina, and 'the city of Kosovo'.


Having lived here for the last ten months, I know first hand that Kosovo is not a city. Its a province, like a state. There is no city or town that I know of within Kosovo that is itself named Kosovo (like New York, New York). Hmm, this strikes me as similar as the City of California, or Texas. Or even the city of Massachussetts.

True, maybe its just a small typo, and not even that big of a deal, but Damn! If you find something like that right away that you can debunk from first hand knowledge, you wonder what else is wrong with the book! Grr, that's frustrating. Maybe I shouldn't look into it. I guess I can still read it to get an idea of history from a different point of view then the usual history book, but still. It's frustrating.

You find one thing you can contradict, and it throws the entire thing out of whack. That's the true problem with History books.

Oh well, so far it has still proven to be interesting. I wouldn't condemn it just yet, but to rather use it as a balancing point with other history books to get the whole story, not just part.


Deck Of Bloggers

Ok, I just ran across this in my mailbox for the Carnival of Cordite (I honestly should email him more stuff) and found out about the Deck o' Bloggers 2005 at Aaron's CC:

Apparently I'm nominated for the Queen of Clubs (Queens and Hearts reserved for female bloggers, and clubs reserved for Milbloggers. ???) That would be cool, its a face card. I can picture it now.

Gah! Nevermind, maybe I don't want too!? Anyway, it looks like that might be a tight race. Beth at MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has already called dibs. She's got a head start on me. No fair!

Oh well.

(pssst! You can vote in the sidebar! Top female Milblogger automatically gets the Queen of HeartsTypo! Clubs)

Of course, they also have me linked through my now decidedly defunct Milblog. I had to link that thing to bring people directly to this joint.

Anyway, this has been going on for the last four or five days, but I'm now just hearing about it. That's what I get for being out of the loop on things.

I'm not exactly sure how this nomination thing goes, but I nominate the Gullyborg Blog (Resistance is Futile!) for the Jack of Spades. Because he asked me to, and he was the one who informed me on this whole spiel.

I don't know who else to nominate (I've been out of the loop on the blogosphere for a while) except for my buddies over at Silent Running. But since I don't know what each card stands for, I just know they can't be nominated for Hearts or Clubs. So what does Spades and Diamonds mean? I'll nominate them for one of those categories.

And I nominate either Scott Ott, James Lileks, or FrankJ for the Joker. One of them has got to get it, right?

Can I do that? Is that how they do this?

I don't know, I kind of stumbled in on this.

This Little Piggy is Finished. . .

. . .I think. I'll wait to see if Murray has any other requests on how to fine tune the little oinker.

For those of you coming into this post a little late in the game, this is in direct response to this post HERE. The one with me deciding to make a Crusader Pig verses a Boarhog, and if I did a Crusader Pig, which style should I use?

I kind of made one completely different, but fine tuned it a bit so he's not so uneven and crooked. Though, well, if I dwell on him, I'll point out all his flaws. That's what I get for being a highly critical type artist. Blah.

The boarhog is here.

Those took far longer then they probably should have. You can buy Boarhog and piggy merchandise at the Risawn Down Under Shop. All proceeds go to getting me down under. My minions are behind it.

update So. . .I am told that this little piggy is supposed to look cute and unintimidating. I was asked to fix the eyeballs and make them big and round, not pointed and angry. And make a few other changes.

I'll keep you updated on whether or not this is the finished product.

Update Again Ahh. . . all is well, Murray is satisfied.

I can't tell you to honestly go buy stuff however, because I'm not allowed to ask for money on my website while I'm on active duty. So. . . you can go over to Silent Running and THEY can tell you to buy stuff.


I Quit!

Ok, the Nanowrimo is going nowhere. Mostly because I had my sights set on working on one story, and now that I did that, suddenly I don't want to work on that story, I want to work on any 'other' story that I'm working on. Because I have about fifteen in my inventory that I go back to and start dawdling with at any given time.

And right now, I can't get myself to work on the story I laid out.

I shouldn't feel bad about 'failing' the Nanowrimo, mostly because I started my first story back in '99 and it ammassed over a thousand pages since then. And I know I got over 50,000 words into it in November alone that year. So quite truthfully, I unofficially won the very first Nanowrimo.

Strangely enough, that was the first time I started to really write. I didn't write much before then.

Besides, with me being tasked to help with the Urine testing for FMPP, now finishing up the Yearbook and getting started on the Slideshow and Task Force Christmas party, being completely in charge of the Hearing Booth and most likely get slammed with that before it gets pulled due to calibration purposes, my desire to start school (did I mention Science is a Go but Harry Potter might not be?) and now this sudden influx in drawing desires, do I really want to burdon myself with this novel when I would rather write other stories anyway? I'd most likely just skirt around and come back to it anyway.

Besides, Just Like Heaven finally made it to Bondsteel, and I want to see my evil Twin and Napoleon Dynamite.

When I get back to the states, I'm going to hear all of these songs on the radio and mention how cool they are and people will be griping about how much the radio has played them for the last eight months. And I won't have a freakin' clue as to what's current with movies. I hope that doesn't hurt me to bad when I go back to my old job of working retail in a Movie/Music/Book store. (but hopefully it will be temporary)