This is Halloween!

I love Halloween. Its the one time of year you can totally dress as something you're not and get away with it. Maybe because I'm a fantasy nut, but whatever the case, I'm just one of those people that enjoys living in a fantasy world.

Though today, I kind of did the soldier routine. I thought about putting on a star and being a general for Halloween, but some people might not take to kind to me impersonating an officer. Even if it's for halloween.

So what did we do? Well, we had the option to dress up as long as it didn't interfere with our work duties and the costume could be worn over our uniform. Yeah, I know, takes all of the fun out of it, and there isn't a lot of costume options here in country unless you utilyze the internet.

Gosh, what did soldiers do in the good ol' days to get by each day without the internet anyway?

So, they still had a costume contest and a haunted house, which was basically sponsored by Task Force Med Falcon. Kind of last minute I was asked if I wanted to help with the Haunted House (which was made out of one of the Bunkers, so it was really a Haunted Bunker), and I said sure, why not? It turned out to be fun, I was positioned behind a tarp with holes cut through it and as people passed I grabbed them. Kind of one of those unexpected things, as it was kind of dark in the Bunker with scary music playing in the background and people popping out of coffins and chewing on their own arms (we even had a Mummy!)

Yeah, I guess there are good things about being deployed in a Fairly calm area such as Kosovo. You can't do 25 K roadmarches in Iraq, that's for sure, and I'm not sure what kind of places they have around those parts for Haunted Bunkers.

And I think I'm over my anger issues. I just need to take a chill pill now and again and stop making mountains out of molehills. I think we came to a mutual understanding and now we are on good terms. Hopefully this can remain this way for the rest of this deployment.

Damn, I hate being mad at people.

(my left foot would have won the grossest costume award, it looks nasty!)


Dancon Roadmarch

My feet feel like they need to be sawed off at the ankles. That's what I get for walking 25 KM with a rucksack and a loaded weapon, uphill, downhill, on hardtop, on gravel, on rocks, so on and so forth. You get the idea, it's a road march.

The Dancon Roadmarch is sponsored by the Danish Camp and takes place in the Northern Sector. Ever since I heard about it I knew that I had to do this while I was here. It seemed before that something always came up to prevent me from taking part. The first one I thought I was going to be in BNCOC, and by the time I found out that I didn't get a seat, it was to late for me to sign up. So I signed up for the next one, only I got a seat to Greece the day after. And I didn't want to go to Greece while on recovery from a roadmarch, and now I see that this was a wise idea. They had one earlier this month while I was on leave, but I had signed up for this one before I had even gone, so I was ready for it.

I'll tell you what, I had an absolute blast. Well, as much as you can have on a 25 KM walk. I actually walked with four different groups of people at different times, and for a short time I walked with nobody in particular. In fact, I felt pretty good for a good part of the march (though I got winded on the uphill portions), the only problem I had was my feet.

So anyway, they had four checkpoints, where at these checkpoints they give you orange slices, bananas, and cucumbers that you can dip in Sugar or Salt (and actually taste really good) as well as water. I walked with a couple Italian UNMIK guys for a while, (one who even recognized me from my blog and had been in correspondence with me looking at going Snowboarding in Brezavica) up until the second checkpoint, where I had to take a break and change my socks out and apply more moleskin. The UNMIK had to move on, and so I joined my fellow soldiers from Task Force Med Falcon, just relaxing before that next leg of our journey, which was the main uphill journey. At this point, we were attacked by kids, who seek out chocolate and candy from the KFOR soldiers, as well as anything else not bolted onto our bodies (including your watch, patches, food, MP3 player). One kid came up to me, pointed at my watch and said quite forcefully "Gimme!" I said No, and he then replied Nunny (which may have been Albanian or broken english meaning Money). I said No again, and he said Nunny again, and we went through this exchange for a few rounds, my voice getting more and more forceful each time when I finally had to reply "Beat Down" and make a grab for my rifle. Call me cruel, but I don't like kids begging like that, and they get pretty persistant until you make a move toward them to give them the clue that they need to move on. But once we started walking, damn! My feet were hurting already and I wasn't even halfway through. For this next leg, I hung out with a couple other female soldiers from my task force, for the next 4 K we were going uphill. So my short legs kept me from making good pace and everybody was leaving me in the dust. I made it however, and at the end was another checkpoint. We stopped briefly on the way where I learned that my feet were just at the point that if I stopped, it was harder on them then just walking on them. And since I had already plastered them in Moleskin, there wasn't a whole lot I could do to improve their condition so I just kept walking.

Everyone else had stopped at that checkpoint, but I went on by myself. Along the way I enjoyed the scenery of Metrovica and tried to ignore the blisters on my feet. Soldiers from all over KFOR were around us, including Danish, Swedes, Phillipino, Germans, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, etc etc. And the French.

As I was walking on my own, I noticed a group of French soldiers walking and starting to pass me up, so I offered them a greeting of Bonjour. They returned with a friendly hello and we started a brief conversation. One of the soldiers, Jean Paul, then asked if I would trade patches. I said sure and asked if they had a knife, I would cut the patch off my uniform. I thought they were talking about the 70th RRC patch for a bit but they wanted the Flag.

That sucker is sown on that uniform. We couldn't seem to slide the knife under the thread to cut it loose, and to the rescue came some soldiers from Med Falcon. One of them had velcro. He gave them one of his patches (he had apparently acquired a few) in exchange for a French Patch (one with the French Colors where in teh white field resides a Playboy bunny. I kid you not. Its for fun :)

So I managed to get a french patch from them while one of my buddies offered me a patch to trade. We continued walking, I walked with that group from Med Falcon, the French Soldiers were trailing us, and we walked until the next check point.

I was having the same problem as before, my feet were fine as long as I kept moving, I could tolerate the pain. So I kept on walking, watching out for the kids who at this time were getting quite aggressive in their quest for "Chokolade!" I would constantly reply to them NO, as I can't stand kids who go begging for stuff. In fact, I made it a point to go up to a kid, wait for him to ask me for candy, and when he didn't, I shook his hand and gave him a candy bar.

The French soldiers I had met earlier had at this time caught up with me, they were wearing the American flags we had given to them on their left shoulders, and we started talking some more.

I finished the roadmarch with these soldiers, who actually were really cool guys and we talked about different things, how long we had been in country, where we lived, what else we could trade, so on and so forth. Their english wasn't the best, and sometimes their accents were so thick that I would have to ask them to repeat what they were saying. But their English was certainly better then my French (which consists of Bonjour and Mercy), so we talked on and off until we got back to the Danish camp. It was kind of funny and ironic, as we were marching back, some kids were yelling "America!" and raising their fists in the air cheering us on. I don't think the kids realized that these guys were french, as they were both wearing American Patches on their shoulders and I had my flag prominantly displayed. One kid even called out "Italia!" thinking that they were Italian. They kind of laughed at this too.

Overall, we ended up trading weapons (for picture purposes), Patches (I swapped one of my rank patches for one of theirs), MREs and Emails. In fact, I got a picture of me wearing the French patch with one of them wearing an American Patch. It was all in good fun.

I would post pictures, but I'm not allowed too.

But getting back on the bus, after stopping and resting my dogs, ouch that hurt. Overall we started at 0830 and I was done around 1445. Some people ran the entire thing, I can't imagine how they did it. Well, I guess I can, they were in signifcantly better condition then I am.

After getting back to my room (limping the whole way), first thing I did was take off my shoes and assess my feet. My left foot is the worse of the two, with a massive blister along my big toe and another developing on my heal under a callous (that one is the most painful by far) along with odds and ends elsewhere.

Overall, I found that this little trip I took to endure through painful blisters was just what I needed. I just felt really good after it was all over. Now I need to email my UNMIK friend as well as my French buddies and give Jean Paul and Francise the pictures I got with them.


Anger Management

Ok, I have a problem with my anger, as I have a temper at times. Its not always obvious because I just go with the flow most of the times and often times something won't phase me. Usually at least.

But if something ticks me off just so, I get livid and I'm not pleasant to be around. just one of the many perks about being me, my temper. I think everybody has their snapping points, I certainly have mine. And its kind of frustrating, as depending on who makes me mad or how mad I get at somebody, I either just pretend not to be fiercely angry with them or I just blow up on them. There doesn't seem to be this nice little middle ground with me, I certainly wish there was.

One of the things that balances my temper is my lack of holding grudges against people. So I can be mad as piss at somebody and then later its like nothing happened. But this in itself can be a good and bad thing, as when I get mad at somebody again, I tend to remember the times I was mad at them before, and it compounds my anger.

Fortunately never to a point where I turned homicidal, but close.

Well, you can probably guess where I'm going with this. I'm mad at somebody. And they know this. Unfortunately, I have to work out these issues with this person because I still have to bare their presence for the next two to three months. What ever the case, its easy to be angry at somebody, but something gnaws at you when part of the reason you are angry at them is because of things you've done.

There always has to be a scape goat I guess. That's what makes us human. Part of the problem lies in me, yes this is true. But part of the problem lies with this person as well. Especially when they keep doing things that drive you stark raving mad.

I think we'll be having a talk on Monday. I guess I'll know how it goes then.

Oh, in other news. German is a Go. Looks like Science isn't.


Reassessing this Deployment *warning, Rant*

Well, at the awards ceremony today, I looked back in retrospect on this deployment and realized how bad of a deployment for me it was. And in a lot of ways. Now, don't get me wrong, a lot of good things happened as well. But I will undoubtedly look back on Kosovo and will not look at to many things very fondly. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't really connect really well with too many people in my Task Force and ended up going to other Task Forces to hook up with people. A lot of it had to do with me and trying to discover where I am in life and where I belong, as it sure in hell isn't the medical field. And then a part of me realized that what I really want to do is yell at a certain somebody who's name, rank and position will all remain anonymous. Oh that would do me some good.

The problem is or so I've discovered, is that I have a problem communicating in words (writing is so much easier for me, or so I have discovered) I often find myself tongue tied trying to spit out what I want to say. And I've had instances where I've really wanted to communicate how I was feeling and what I was thinking without blubbering like a baby. Man how I hate that part of me. And this certain somebody, for some reason, I've had a tough time communicating with them on these accounts because I felt like I would break down, which would show that I was weak, and often times that is how they saw me. In fact, I'm sure that's how they see me, because they've made it quite clear in the past what they thought of me in my performance and what not. They make it point blank clear, with how they treat me as opposed to my peers.

I found out recently that I really don't like talking to this person, I don't even like being around them. Everytime they seem to want to talk to me they make me feel bad about myself and make me feel like I'm just not cut out for the army, when at one time long before this deployment everybody seemed to remark on what a good soldier I was.

And then I looked back and tried to think about how different this deployment would have been if that person had not been involved in it. If somebody else had come in this person's place. I think this person has in effect, killed this deployment.

My Life Analysis

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Jinxed by a Guinea Pig

I can't believe I never made the connection before now.

When I was in Bulgaria at the beginning of last month, I saw this cute cuddly little guinea pig and wanted a picture with it, because the opportunities to snuggle with furry animals is few and far between here in Kosovo (where anything that walks on four legs or flies is banned from contact unless you are participating in a VetCap.)

This picture, btw, is safe. It has already been posted before and is not new on any account.

So anyway, I wasn't exactly sure what the guy who owned the Guinea pig was saying to me at the time I picked the Guinea Pig up, as I don't speak any Bulgarian what so ever, until our cabbie, who acted as a linguist at times such as these, informed me that the Guinea pig did a trick. The owner put an open box filled with slips of papers under the Guinea Pig and it sniffed at them for a moment before pulling one out. It turned out that the Guinea Pig was a fortune teller of sorts.

Ok, interesting. I got a picture with the little furry critter and we moved on, while Cipi the Cab Driver translated the fortune into English.

Most of it was positive. But at the end was a little warning, which at the time I thought was laughable, being an American and all. It informed me that I should never drive again, and always use public transportation. Whatever, I'm not a superstitious sort and i put the Fortune away.

Fast forward about three weeks later. I was getting ready to leave on R&R and what did I do? I get into a car accident.

I didn't make the connection until yesterday, when Nate, who just got back from his leave, told me about it. He put two and two together while he was on leave as well.

D'oh! That damn Guinea Pig!

The Results of the APFT

I took a PT test today. PT stands for Physical Training. In the army, they test your physical endurance and abilities by making you do as many push-ups as you can in two minutes, as many sit-ups as you can in two minutes, and then run as fast as you can and complete a two mile run in as short a time as possible.

Each age group gets graded on a certain scale with how well they can do in each event. 60 points is the lowest you can score while still passing. 100 is the highest. If you do even better in each event then 100, you can get more points. The max is a 300+, minimum is a 180.

I think I broke 200. Pushups weren't a problem, I'm usually pretty good at them and can get by at better then the minimum on all of my PT tests. My problem area is, and has always been, the sit-up. So I wanted to make sure I was ready for this PT test and not squeaking by and missing it by one. That has happened to me more then once and it is one of those things that makes me irate. Grr. Missing my sit-up score by a measly point.

Well, today I passed it by six. I promised the Sergeant Major (who was holding my feet) that I would do the minimum and as many as I could past that. And I did just that, squeaking past with 6 extra sit-ups. The load was lightened severely when I discovered I had passed my weakest event.

But there was still this run we had to do. I used to always do really well on the run when I was younger, however lately I've been kind of weak in this area as well. But as long as I keep running, I usually do fine, if not great. So I kept a steady pace on our uneven track (you go slightly downhill on one side, slightly uphill on the other, which kind of sucks but you take what you can get in a combat zone) and squeezed that out with 30 seconds to spare, sprinting at the end. It was a bit foggy during the run, my hair was absorbing the condensation of the air and sticking to my face and I was taking in deep breaths of cool air, but overall conditions were fine for the run.

That was a load off, just finishing my PT test, passing it (though not smoking it, which is what i would have liked to have done) and knowing that this hurdle was over.

Then the weigh in began. Apparently, the army once again has informed me I'm fat as I failed the weight for my height and age by one pound. The irony kills me. Time to go on a diet. Which is hard when all you have to eat is DFAC food.

My Official Status with the Military

Ok, to clear the air a bit, yes, I am getting out of the military at this time. Though this isn't necessarily permenant, in a few years, if I feel like the time is right, I might reenlist or something else. When I am done with this deployment, I will still technically have a year and a half left on my contract (serving in the IRR, inactive ready reserve) and I can still drill out that last year and a half, which I very well might.

The purpose of me getting out is more complicated then just a simple the army pissed me off by telling me to do things I found to be retarded so I just want out, its more of a look at where I am in life and more of a break from the army then anything. I just need to reassess where I'm going and find out what I want to do. Sure, I'm still young, almost 25, but there are a lot of factors I need to take into account. Such as, do I want to get married and have children? Would the military be a good place for me to work part time and raise those children with the threat of a looming deployment? A part of me wants to have kids, a part of me doesn't, but if I have them I want to have them while I'm still relatively young. Just like that part of me that wants to remain single is having a constant quarral with the part of me that wants to settle down and get married. I'm an indecisive cookie on such matters as life in the longterm. But right now, on top of focusing on whether or not I want to get married and have a family some day, I also need to have a break and focus on college and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to go back to school, and I learned right before I graduated with my AA that school and the army don't always mix, especially with how crazy the world is and how easy it would be to get interrupted and deployed in the middle of a semester again.

However, the part of going back to school that scares me is the part that is trying to figure out how I'm going to pay for it in the long run, because it took me a while to get out of debt and now all I have left is a couple of student loans to finish paying off and an Emergency room bill from nearly two years ago (which will be paid off as soon as I get home).

So anyway, part of this deployment was coming here and taking a year to decide where I want to go from my life from here on out. That was largely based on the military because before now the military did play an important role in my life. But maybe that was the thing, for a reservist, maybe it was playing to much of a role. Which means that now would be a good time to take a break from it and look at other avenues to approach.

Who knows, in a couple of years, after reassessing where I am in life and where I want to go from there, I might look at going back into the army and finishing out my career. Only time will tell.

Race and Racism

I'm generally a little behind on the times here in Kosovo, most of my news is acquired through the blogosphere when I get time to check it out or even on the front page of MSN or whatever.

Anyway, through word of mouth, I heard about this group called Prussian Blue, a group composed of a set of 13 year old Twins named Lynx and Lamb Gaede who are White Nationalists. I thought that in and of itself was a little odd that these girls who are that young are taking up singing about topics such as that (though I think their names are cool).

I'll admit, I was intrigued, especially after hearing about how they were on CNN or Primetime or something (like I said, I'm getting most of this Second Hand) in which they were put in a bad light, or so they say.

Well, I wanted to find out more, so I surfed the internet, found their site, and read up on them. They appear to be normal 13 year olds in a sense, except for the pictures of them posing with T-shirts depicting a Happy Face Hitler for Aryan Wear and the prominantly displayed link to National Vanguard on their homepage. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and how talented these girls really were, so I downloaded a couple of their songs (which were free) to get a feel for their music. Like I said, I was intrigued by this.

Um, let me say that the White Nationalism and Aryan aspect aside (which I find disgusting to begin with, especially their absurd paranoia toward anybody of Jewish Decent), I wasn't impressed. Maybe if one of them is singing by themselves, they sound fine, but when they are both singing together, they sounded awful. Like they were off key and couldn't harmonize together. It sounded terrible, and though they are from Bakersfield California, they sounded like they were trying to come off as being from the South. I think the only reason they are getting attention is because they are a couple of thirteen year olds who are singing about White Nationalism, because they sure in hell ain't talented.

Though I agree that they do hold up an interesting point. Myself, being the Blue Eyed, Blonde Haired person that I am, would definitely fall under the category for White Nationalism, and I don't think anybody should feel ashamed of their race. Unfortunately, though Black People have BET and Ebony Magazine and Black History Month, or what not about being black and celebrating their black heritage, there isn't really anything about celebrating being European Decent without being labeled as a Racist. You listen to some music groups out there and there is a lot of hate talk within their various songs toward white people but people seem to overlook that as being Racist. Well, though I don't agree with Prussian Blue's message, I do agree that if a racist rap song can be labeled as music and not some message of Hate, well then, Prussian Blue and groups of the like can be labeled in the same light (Because like Prussian Blue, a lot of these Rap Groups lack talent as well)

On a side note, I sure in hell am not a racist, I have a lot of good friends that are Black, Asian, Latino or what not and they are genuinely good people that are hard working and trying to make the most of their lives (which is one of the good things about the Army as it is a True Melting Pot of American Society where you will run across people of all Race, Religion, and Political Affiliation or what not) There are gross generalizations made toward these groups that is sometimes true and some times exagerated. I have just learned with time that maybe you can make a gross generalization with a group, people are still individuals and you need to judge them based on their merits as an individual, not on their race.

Which reminds me of a persona experience on the subject when I was a Freshman in Highschool in Princeton California. My English class was going over some literature in response to Black History Month and talking about the Civil Rights movement and some of the things people had to go through to win their rights in the 60's and so forth. We were talking about some of the harsher things that happened during that time and several people kind of sat in silence pondering this. Then somebody made the absurd statement that it made them ashamed to be white.

Why the heck should anybody be ashamed to be what they are? At the time I wanted to stand up and ask that person "why do you feel ashamed? Is it because you personally did racist acts in the 60's toward black people? Why should I be ashamed by how another group of people acted? They weren't acting on my behalf, they don't speak for me. Just because a few white rednecks in the south were going around lynching people just because they were black doesn't mean that I supported their actions. I wasn't even conceived yet!" Maybe some people believe in the concept of original sin or that the sins of their parents and ancestors are theirs to share, but I happen to disagree with that. I am not responsible for how anybody in my family acts, they are all individuals and adults, responsible for their own beliefs and actions. I should not be held accountable for acts committed by racists 40 years ago 3000 miles away. There is no reason why I should be ashamed of being white. Because it is a part of me and is who I am. The stereotype of my race doesn't dictate who I am. I do.

Just my 2 cents on the matter.

As a side note - I think Prussian Blue and White Nationalists are retards.


PC Overkill

So, I've heard some news about this apparent ban on Piggy Banks in Britain in an attempt to refrain from offending Muslims, who don't eat pork.

In fact, it has even gone so far as to remove any item that refers to pigs out of the workplace (specifically banks), including icons such as Piglet off of Winnie the Pooh in an attempt to be more sensitive.

Ok, do I need to state the obvious? This is rediculous. For one, becuase the pig is a creature, not like a symbol or something like a swastika. If I like pigs and I like to decorate using pigs, are they saying I can't because somebody might not like pigs due to religious reasons? Is this retarded? Yes.

When we dumb down our culture to try to be accepting of other people so as not to offend them, we only lose our culture in the process.

Hey, so you don't eat pork. You know what? A pig is a living and breathing animal that exists in the world. Just because one group of people thanks they are a dirty animal doesn't mean that they should be written off the planet. But hey, why don't we slaughter all pigs just so we don't accidentally offend somebody. But wait, won't that offend PETA whackos? Oh, that's right, you can't please everybody.

Which is good advice, eh? You can't please everybody. Something everybody should remember.

Meanwhile, Murray (who I've been watching a lot lately) posed this picture on his blog, in an attempt to offend who ever might be offended by this image.

The image has become so popular in regards to this PC overkill that people have been asking about stickers and T-shirts. With one problem.

Disney owns the rights to the oppressed Piglet. So Murray recruited me to draw a pig in a crusader outfit, trying to get a bit of the point across ya know.

So, well, I came up with some various designs, thinking cute was the way to go because it made the whole thing kind of laughable, becuase the whole thing WAS laughable.

Unfortunately, I'm not really a graphic designer so I don't know how well these will transfer to a T-shirt. So anyway, here are a few images, (still somewhat of a rough draft, not the finished image) anybody got any preferences of which one works the best?


This was one of the first ideas, just simple you know.


This is kind of a pig in my style, cartoonish, that is. Not quite, but to give you an idea. The finished product would actually have shading and what not in it.


Another uber simplified piggy, similar to the first, but, erm, simpler in some respects. You get the idea, right? I'm not sure if I like this one in its entirety. Just parts of it. Maybe the head of number one with the body of this one. Yeah. Something like that.


Uncolored, but the mean Boarhog look. Boarhogs are a type of pig, and I suppose they would be counted as a banned item. Since they are the true badasses of pigdom, I thought I would try something with them.

Now the problem with make a Pig a Crusader is will you get a reverse effect from what you're trying to accomplish. As in calling the Crusaders pigs, or what not.

I don't know, Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments? Does it work? Does it not? Which one should I go off of?


Blog Worth

??? Don't Ask. ???

My blog is worth $76,777.44.
How much is your blog worth?


Pictures, in Other News

So, in other news, I've been given some new tasks. One is, well, the yearbook. I have to put together some pictures and post four pages worth for our section of the yearbook.

Well, since I'm already doing the yearbook, I've acquired a couple other taskings related as well.

No, this is a good thing! I get to use my skills to put together a slide show following our deployment and surf through old clippings of the Guardian for information about our task force. This is different then the website, but somewhat related because of how many pictures i've collected from that, so I'm going through all of these pictures of the task force over the course of the year and I'm thinking 'hmm, this is cool!'

So to even out the fact that I can't POST pictures, I get to have GOBS of pictures of what soldiers do in a deployment to Kosovo. Its like an excuse to GIVE ME PICTURES!!! BWAHAHAHAHA!!! And no, you can't see them.

But sounds like fun, eh?

More on that Picture Posting Ban

So, I mentioned previously that I am currently not allowed to post any pictures. Well, this is the story behind that, a story that apparently took place while I was gone on leave.

Anyway, the bare story is, there was this website somewhere back in the states that was allowing soldiers to view its content at no charge in exchange for pictures taken in the warzone. You can see how this posed somewhat of a problem, as the soldiers posted various different pictures involving their jobs and what not, however the government couldn't shut down this one site, due to freedom of Information act or what not, but they did have the power to shut down the ability for soldiers to post pictures on any website. Period.

The information I got was from the Stars and Stripes, which is a Military Newspaper for service members overseas.

Army won't pursue charges in posting of grisly war-zone photos on Web site

Army investigators won’t pursue criminal charges against anyone involved in a Web site that posts sometimes-grisly photos ostensibly submitted by U.S. soldiers in war zones. The site offered soldiers free access to pornographic materials in exchange for the photos.

The site, which normally charges visitors to look at amateur pornography, had drawn the ire of the Pentagon and Muslim advocacy groups, prompting an Army inquiry. But late Wednesday, an Army spokesman said the Criminal Investigation Command did not find enough evidence to pursue felony charges.

And of course, the ban itself. I don't have any information specifically in the form of an actual document, but when I asked questions about it, I somehow managed to spark the ire of my senior officer, so the matter is dead to him, I'm not allowed to post pictures. Period.
Photography is prohibited in most DOD facilities. Do NOT post any photographs on any Web sites.

Now, I'm not sure if they are saying do NOT post photographs of DOD facilities on websites or do NOT post photographs period.

One of the other bullets that was suggested was not to discuss my job within DOD, but that is a bit late I fear. Besides, my job ain't that exciting.

So why do I insist bringing this up? Because it affects my morale when my personal website is being picked over for stupid things after I've done as much as I can to make sure that I don't divulge sensitive information. This is one of many reasons why I am choosing NOT to reenlist at this time.

Now, the ban may not be all that its cracked out to be, this is the story I got and my seniors are telling me that I have to stick to it. Which sucks. Believe me.

I mean, I can't even post a picture I got with GEN Schoomaker when he came to Kosovo last week, (GEN Schoomaker is the Chief of Staff of the Army, in case you didn't know).


Class Update

So, it looks like Harry Potter is a Go.

German II and Physical Science are both a maybe, I'll know more Tuesday. Unfortunately the books are pricey. Ouch!

The Short Story is a No Go. Darn. I was going to use that to get me propelled for the Nanowrimo. I can just hope that I can come up with something sort of creative and on this side of just plain wrong and demented.

Meanwhile, well, finished all of my trades for this month. Maybe this is a good time to get back on my poor neglected comic.

Yeah, comic, good times. . . hmm. . .

Saints and Soldiers

Apparently my agent Murray over on Silent Running put up a criptic movie review on one such movie known as Saints and Soldiers. It was a movie I had in my inventory that I had picked up via word of mouth but hadn't ever gotten around to watching. When he mentioned it, I was wondering what this was all about because it didn't sound like the movie I had heard about.

So this morning I actually watched it, and thought it was Excellent. And I also didn't see how it could be concieved in the way Murray portrayed it as.

What it was in a nutshell? A movie about four American Soldiers caught behind enemy lines who run across a British Soldier with valuable information and together they must make their way to allied territory. One of the Soldiers known as 'Deacon' is a former Mormon Missionary who served in Berlin and therefore speaks German and is a bit torn about fighting the people he once taught, who is also fighting his own personal demons from an incident that happened to him the previous week. However, it never mentions in the film what religion he belongs to, so I wouldn't call this film a 'mormon' film. And I don't see it as being derogatory toward Americans or for that matter Germans. I think the lesson it teaches is that in the chaos that is war, we are all still human. I wouldn't call it anti-war either, though truthfully every graphic war film that portrays war accurately is in a sense an Anti War film, by the very nature of what war entails. The lesson the Medic is taught in the end is a good one, it is a decent film that has a strong message at the end, with a slight religious undertone.

Hey Murray, I recommend giving this one another shot. Get past the first ten minutes and watch it all the way through. It really is a good flick.



I'm debating on doing the Nanowrimo this year. For those of you who don't know what Nanowrimo is, it stands for National Novel Writers Month, meaning in one month, you're supposed to write a 50,000 word novel. I was working on one last year, and then my month got interrupted so I only got to something like two thousand words.

But seeing as it starts on November 1st, I don't know if it is something I should think about doing, considering I'm going to go to school now (unless the classes get canceled on me) and I'm still working full time, well, I'm on Salary with the army and they can tell me to work at any time.

Like those midnight Mascal excercizes. Yeah, those are lots of fun. I've already decided to write off BNCOC. Since I've made up my mind to get out of the army at this time (though who knows, in a couple of years I might reenlist depending on where I'm at in life) I think school is more applicable to life then BNCOC at this time.

As soon as I get back in the states, I've got to look at colleges. Maybe I'll sign up for a couple credits at the community college this spring? I don't know, we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, I know November'll be busy. Maybe writing a 50,000 word novel in a month is a bit over the top?

Eh, we'll see how it goes.

TFF XI Yearbook

So, in the last minute, I got stuck doing Med Falcon's pages for the yearbook.

Yes, having a year book in a combat zone is kind of odd. But its basically a book with pictures of our year here. Which is, well, what a year book is.

Unfortunately, for some reason my computer doesn't like Adobe Pagemaker software. I installed it four times to no results, no matter what I do, it just. . . doesn't want to load.

Which means I have a week to put together four pages for the yearbook, with no software.

Hmm. . .

Well, with me being in charge of Med Falcon's section of the yearbook, I can make fun of people in my task force by putting awful pictures of them in there! Yeah, that's one thing I could do!

You know how hard it is to blog with That 70's Show on in the background?


College Classes

So, um, I was walking back to my room when somebody catches up with me and takes note that there is a new class being offered at the UMUC (University of Maryland University College, yeah, I know, it is of the same redundancy as the American Dodgeball Association of America but they give me free classes so I'm not complaining).

As soon as I heard the name of this Junior Level Literiture class, I found a reason to go ahead and skip BNCOC all together. Yeah, I know, I should go ahead and take BNCOC, but part of me really really REALLY doesn't want to, especially considering I'm getting out in a few months anyway. And I am going back to college when I get back to the states so I probably should focus more on that anyway.

So I go over the Tuition Assistance office and ask to sign up for this literature class, and since I'm taking this, I might as well look over what other classes they have to offer and get some of those bad boys out of the way as well.

So, well, when you are coming to the end of a deployment, not a lot of people are thinking about School. They are thinking about going home. And after being here for nine months, nobody wants to think about what they need to do over the course of the next three or so.

Where am I going with this? Well, I signed up for my literature class, and then I saw a class called English 246, The Short Story. See, I like to write, and although I'm not sure exactly if this is a class where we write short stories or read short stories, but I'll take either one because my story writing could use a real kick in the pants to shorten them up a little from novel proportions.

But, well, that class is in danger of getting canceled because not enough people are interested in taking college classes right now. Grr. . .

Fall back plan! During the same time frame, there is German 112. I'm just taking it as a refresher course because after being in Germany last month, I discovered that I would really like to get a little more proficeint with my linguistics and even learn to speak another language more then haphazardly.

But, well, that class is in danger of getting canceled too. Double Grr. . .

Well, yes, you might agree that at my Junior level, I might be a little, I don't know, beyond certain class levels, but with a General AA degree, I'm thinking about going back to school for a Bachelors in. . . something. Something might be science related. And although I've got Biology, Astronomy, and Paleontology, I could stand to kick up my Science Credits a bit more. considering, well, I'm a Science Nut. So I signed up for NSCI 100, Intro to Physical Science.

Um, that one is in danger of getting canceled too. More Grr. . .

So anyway, next week, we'll find out how well things go with my classes, if I get to take my Short Story Class or if I have to settle for German, or if I'll just not have to settle for anything. . . well, actually the downside of all of this is it conflicts with my Kajukenbo, which has been very shaky anyway. I haven't had a Kajukenbo class for over four weeks now, not just because of Leave either, but because it seems like everything else on Bondsteel, people have disappeared off the face of the earth when it comes to extracurricular activities. And then of course, Physical Science.

So, what is this mysterious Literature Seminar I signed up for anyway? ENGL389, World of Harry Potter. Now does that sound like a kick butt class or what?


Risawn. . .

. . .doesn't like confrontations.
. . . is addicted to Hoodies.
. . . has a thing for items of Nastalgic inclination.
. . . loves Austria.
. . . watches a lot of Twilight Zone.
. . . is dysthemic.
. . . has been to an Alanis Morissette concert. (i love her!)
. . . has a love/hate relationship with the army.
. . . is a self described artist of sorts.
. . . is drawn to things that go bang.
. . . is not as mean as she looks, or as nice for that matter.
. . . drew this drawing, considering pictures are now banned.
. . . considers herself an environmentalist.
. . . has a nerdy infatuation with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
. . . reads Harry Potter and has her own theories on the series.
. . . only goes by Risawn on the internet.
. . . goes by Kami in the real world.
. . . is a self described moderate conservative.
. . . has a membership to the NRA.
. . . is not to impressed with most scary movies.
. . . must have her Red vs Blue.
. . . speaks a little german.
. . . plans on going to Hawaii on a Space Available Flight.
. . . has written over five books of novel length.
. . . is debating on the Nanowrimo this year.
. . . wants a guinea pig, or a bunny, or maybe even a dog, or something small and furry.
. . . is soon scheduled for BNCOC.
. . . describes Donnie Darko as one of her all time favorite movies.
. . . has a Jolly Roger hanging up in her room.
. . . sleeps on a top bunk.
. . . is getting sick of Camouflage.
. . . is amazed by her minions.
. . . is STILL a virgin (despite popular belief throughout the task force that Nate and I got it on)
. . . loves Kajukenbo and can kick really high.
. . . has a lot of stuff to send home.
. . . is attempting to become a guitar player.
. . . is Nwasir backwards.
. . . needs to buy a car.
. . . is lethal with an M16 and a Sandbag.
. . . is not so lethal without the sandbag.
. . . can't wait for Lileks' next book.
. . . can go happy to cranky in 0.5 seconds.
. . . doesn't mean jack diddly squat. (the name I mean)
. . . listens to REM, TMBG and BNL.
. . . wears Sketchers and Combat Boots.
. . . is a snow junkie of the boarding variety.
. . . has 'learn to surf', 'Bungee Jump', and 'skydiving' on her to do list.
. . . is not much of a partier and rather more of a homebody.
. . . is planning to go to New Zealand and Australia sometime next year.
. . . would like to learn more about webdesign.
. . . is fiercely independent.
. . . wants to get a bachelors degree, what in not even she knows.
. . . is rather stubborn.

Range Pet Peeves

So, that being said, what exactly happened during this first week I was back?

Well, one, I collected my weapon.

And Two, I discovered that I have a major pet peeve for how they do ranges here. I learned that I'm deadly lethal with a full magazine, an M16, and a Sandbag. But take away that sandbag and apparently I'm useless.

See, I had a rifle qualification range on Sunday, where we went to the range and shot at paper targets. And NO, this is not classified information, just common knowledge that you can gather from any military website. So, what was this all about?

First we had to zero our weapons and make sure they fired right. Um, 9 shots baby! One of the first ones I shot that puppy dead center! The first grouping was a little off, just had to get a feel for it, and then by the third grouping, I had them all nice within the sillhoute (er, mispelling, sue me) within a dime sized area of each other.

Yeah, I'm that good.

So after we have the sucker zeroed, we get to the real targets. 20 round magazine, 10 targets, 2 rounds in each target in the prone supported position.

Me, like every other time I've been to the range in the last year, I nailed 19 out of 20. BAM!!! Most of which well within the center of the target.

Move to the next phase. Same scenerio, except for this time, its Prone Unsupported.

Prone Unsupported is my weak area. Where for all of you civilians out there, Supported means that the muzzle of the M16 is supported by some means, usually a sandbag, where the unsupported you are supporting that rifle entirely with your arms.

I was well on my way to qualifying expert in the range with how I was firing Prone Supported. But I got into Prone unsupported, what did I do?

I shot 6 out of 20. And technically, at least four of those shouldn't have counted because the shots hit targets that I wasn't aiming at! On paper targets, I didn't even qualify!

Well, one, it would help if they didn't have us fire on a plywood platform. Just lay on one of those propping up an 8 pound rifle with your elbows digging into the surface for a little while. Yeah, THAT feels good. And then there is this other fact that I mentioned the last time I went to the range. I don't like paper targets because I don't know what I'm shooting at. My sight picture changes slightly because I'm holding the rifle differently in the Prone unsupported as opposed to Prone Supported. What I like about Pop Up Joe is if you miss him, you figure it out when he doesn't go down and you can adjust your hold on the rifle until you can hit him, and then you know where to aim. But with paper targets, well, your just out of luck aren't you? You missed that target? Oh well, you'll figure that out after you emptied out the other 19 rounds as well.

You know, it would help if they let us fire a couple practice rounds in the prone unsupported, just to get a feel for how we need to hold our rifles before throwing this out at us. I mean, we zero the rifle in the prone supported, and they expect us to hold the EXACT SAME POSITION??? I need to figure that position out thank you very much instead of doing it cold turkey. Yeah, I know that some soldiers can do this just fine, but I have learned in my time in the military that each soldier is different. And if I'm shooting that well in the supported and then can shoot squat in the unsupported, don't you think there is something perhaps WRONG there?

Call it a hunch but I would suspect that this means I need more training on firing a rifle in the prone unsupported. *Which means SIM CENTER!!!*

And it would help if I could dig my elbows into something a little softer in the meantime. Besides, if we come under fire, I don't know about you, but I doubt I can dig up a sandbag to make sure I hit the targets properly.

Explaining the Hiatus

You know, maybe a week is a little long to go on hiatus without any other excuse to update. . . but its officially Friday now.

Meanwhile, I think the break was good for me. See, when I left on leave, I had this looming presence over the thing knowing I would have to come back to Kosovo, and face the consequences of the last two days before I went on leave. Let's just say that those two days weren't much fun for me, which sucked because I WAS GOING ON LEAVE!!! Garr!

Well, sure enough, I wasn't to thrilled to be coming back to this place, especially after the marvelous time I had in Europe. I mean, I would have rather gone to IRAQ for another six months then come back to Kosovo for another three, thats how bad this feeling of dread was. But I bucked up, decided I needed to face it sooner or later, and was proven the following day I got back that my suspicions weren't very far off.

Let's just say that I wasn't a happy camper. And the knowledge that I'm not allowed to post ANY pictures period just adds to the wonderful fact.


So anyway, after I basically got my butt chewed, I worked my tail off for the rest of the day trying to get caught up and then when I got released, it kind of hit me.

That it hit me would be an understatement. So I wasn't very happy, and a few people took note that I wasn't happy. And I posted a rant about my feelings too, a rant that was heavily edited from a far worse rant.

So after a talk with a few people about what was going on in my head, I decided that the best thing I could do was chill and get my head in the right place again. That mean voluntarily stepping away from anything that could potentially be a place to explode, and believe me, it was needed. Maybe the week was a little to long, I could have gotten by with over the weekend, but the matter is resolved now and I can go about my daily business once again.

Unfortunately, that little Art Therapy I mentioned? Well, I tried to utilyze it but only succeeded in drawing some very bad scribbles. *grumble* I thought artists did their best art when they were moody???

Oh well, hope that explains that. Anyway, I'm just fine, still hanging in there, and am focused on ending this deployment on a positive note more then anything.


Temporary Hiatus

Because the previous posts show a certain amount of angst, I've decided to take a short break from blogging, about a week or so, just to get myself calmed down and under control before I start posting anything that I might regret later. I don't want to be burning any bridges, even the shoddy ones I've got, and right now is not the time to be doing anything rash.

So farewell until next friday. I'll post again then, maybe things will be a little more under control at that time.

Art Therapy

So, I came back from leave, had a great time, to the inevitable. A dark cloud loomed over my head all throughout leave because I knew I was coming back to bad news.

The bad news came, much like I thought it would, and at first I took it well.

Then I broke down five hours later.

*sighs* Well, I'm doing a lot better now that I can focus on something other then, well, other then work. I've been using art therapy a lot to get my mind off of whatever and I'm currently planning some drawings. Hopefully they'll turn out all right. I can post drawings, because, well, as you have see in the previous post, I can no longer post photographs. Go figure. So to keep my blog from getting to bland, I got to post SOMETHING!

So anyway, I'll probably be doing a lot of drawing here as this deployment comes to an end, and maybe they'll even be half way decent drawings for once. I'm also steadily shipping everything home, slowly but surely. Hope there's room back home for it.

And then of course, my other task. I've ruled out the army. So what am I going to do with my life? I'm thinking school. Now I have to decide on what I want to major in.

I have never been very good at making up my mind on such matters. But I think I would work best if I got into a jobfield where I could work independantly. Freelance stuff would be awesome, but I would have to be pretty good at what I do to get away with it. But other then that, well, there is always Hastings?

Us vs Them

Well, first off, I did make it back to Kosovo, safe and sound, but note necessarily sane.

Secondly, upon arriving, I was informed that I am no longer allowed to post pictures on any website. Period. This is apparently DOD wide.

Note - This post had been edited at the time I posted it, but now it is back up in its full grandeur.

Ok. . . the military has been set on micromanaging my every move, and I'm not really liking it. And considering that I am a soldier up for Re-enlisting, this gets docked into the pile of Reasons Not to Reenlist. That list is getting rather large as of late.

I feel like saving myself a lot of grief and heartache by just quitting blogging altogether, except for this has been an important outlet for me and has really helped me cope with this deployment during the rough parts. And those have been more frequent then I would have hoped.

Kosovo isn't that bad of a place to be, except for I have to deal with the army all of the time. You know what? I made up my mind today officially on my reenlistment. I'm not going to. The only reasons for me to reenlist is because the army will pay me 15 grand tax free if I do it, and an obligation I feel to serve my country in a time of war.

I have always felt that if you're joining the army for money, then you're joining for all of the wrong reasons. Which means that this is not a good enough reason to reenlist.

Well, if the army wants to retain this soldier, they need to pull their head out of their ass and chalk up some better reasons to keep me. I've got to the end of this deployment and I'm out. I'll find another way to serve my country that doesn't require me playing these stupid games that the military keeps throwing at me.

Sorry, I had to rant and this is probably not the best place to do it. But maybe the higher ups can read this and maybe it will give them a clue as to what the Pee-ons are thinking. Cause I know I'm not the only one thinking it.

The army is not for everybody, that is a very true statement. The thing is, I thought it was for me. I guess I was wrong.

Further Note - I have since learned that it wasn't so much the army I had a problem with, it was my stupid NCOIC who micromanaged my every mood. I've never had an issue with the army before this deployment and I haven't had an issue with it since.

Bad leaders will ruin everything.


Ugly Americans

Cadet Happy is Photoshopping me again. This time, mom is another one of my accomplices.

I need to get a picture of me in the Black Forest. I got France in the background. It's the mountains in the background, you can see them over the mist. Now that's something to Photoshop!

Ok, I don't hate France THAT much. I just don't agree with their politics. But apparently there are a lot of Europeans that don't like France either.


One Night in Zurich

And that's all I have to say about that. . .

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Somewhere in Innsbruck. . .

Preparing for the DANCON

Leave, just another way of preparing for a 25K road march. . .

Was this a little excessive? Probably. Those double X chromosomes had to get me somewhere, I've never been a great packer.

It's All Part of the Experience, Clark

So, I'm sitting here, waiting for my ride.

Mom and I parted ways this afternoon, after a tearful goodbye when I informed her that I would see her in about three months, give or take a couple weeks.

Getting from Mannheim to Ramstein had me getting the directions from somebody who either didn't know what she was talking about or doesn't like the military, one or the other. Hmm.

Anyway, I'm in the PAX terminal now and they have, TADA! Free Wireless Internet! Keyboard is normal again! I don't have to think twice when I type something with a Y in it!

So anyway, it looks like I made it alright to my destination, I'll let everyone back home know when I made it to the final location. Mom seemed to be in good spirits when we left, it was an experience that we have made many memories from, a good Mother Daughter Bonding moment.

Spent the day in Heidleburg by the way. Checked out the ruined castle and did some shopping. I didn't manage to get a dump of mom's pictures from today, but I got some from my camera. Will share when I get to a more stable place. That, and I have to burn a CD and ship things home.

Note: Never buy vitamins in another language unless you are certain you know how to consume them. That way, you aren't finding yourself foaming at the mouth when taking Vitamin C tablets you were supposed to dissolve in water. (I guess you just had to be there)


Hits and Misses

So, our journey is coming to an end, and I´m sad. However, on a lighter note, mom and I have been looking back on our journez and realizing just how much fun we had, both the ups and downs.

One of the coolest things about the trip is the people we have met, from all over the world, and sometimes even our own backyard. Hopefully I´ll be able to keep in contact with the ones I traded emails with. Unfortunately, Im horrible at keeping in contact with my minions so I don´t know how that will work.

Today we visited the Black Forest, not just any forest, no, this is THE Black Forest. It was very beautiful, we rode a gondola to the top of the mountain and enjoyed the view. In fact, we saw France! We were debating on crossing the border just so that we could saz we´ve been to France but such was not to be. Overall, in after thought, we were thinking how we would do things differently if we could do the trip over again.

Personally, I had a great time and had no regrets, well, other then Verona (we stopped at the Trainstation, debated on seeing the city, and found out that my Italian needs much help) so we just got back on the train and went to Innsbruck, which was beautiful. We loved Austria. Switzerland was verz prettz too, but very expensive, so we spent a day in Luzern and headed up to Frieburg for the evening.

Tomorrow is our last day together before we call it goodbye for now. Hopefully I´ll see mom in about three months, if all goes well, but soon it will be back to the Cattle Drive for me. *sighs*

Just before leave, I had decided that if Mom hadn´t come to Europe to meet me, I would have just gone home as I was getting pretty home sick. I´m so glad she could make it. And I´m proud of her, she survived everybody, I only almost killed her!



I was amused while in Hungary, when I ran into a series of figures that go inside of one another, you know what I'm talking about, right? Well, I couldn't recall the name of them, but anyway, I saw a series of them that I found very interesting. And follows the previous election very well.

I went so far as to buy them even. thought I would share.

A list of presidents going down from most recent to least recent. Except for one minor problem.

Kerry was never president. . .

Visited Countries, Updated

Well, the trip is not quite over, but what the heck, might as well update this now.

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

I don't think we will check out any new countries now, we were almost going to visit Liechtenstein but we couldn't manage to cross the border, and we're running out of time.

Currently, I'm taking residence in Switzerland, the hostel provides free wireless! WOOT!!!

I have seriously come to appreciate the freedom wireless offers. Unfortunately, Switzerland doesn't offer the standard European outlet so I don't know how I'm going to charge my computer.


Minions to the Rescue indeed!

Murray (my agent) got pictures of my travels where I met my first minion (minion Ted) in Vienna and posted about it.

Aack, sorry I've had issues finding computers that let me download anything!!!

Yes, this was the first time I had ever met a Minion, meaning somebody who follows my blog on account of my lack of sorriness. We had good fun with the musical toilets!

My minions wouldn't fit if they weren't a little weird. . .

Meanwhile, am currently in Venice. Venice is awesome. Already we've gone on a Gondolo ride and I got attacked by pigeons. They must have known my plot to grab one and squeeze it.

Urm, meanwhile. . . let me start over again. I got to Frankfurt two days before mom did and hung around for a wee bit. Frankfurt isn't very touristy, but the Romerburg district is pretty cool.

We hopped the train to Salzburg. . . which we absolutely LOVED!!!

We spent a good several days during Salzburg singing show tunes from the Sound of Music.

Then we went on a tour of the Salzburg saltmines. I was so tempted to take home this dashing outfit. Mom says the same.

We got in a few of the surrounding countryside and saw a lot of the Alps. The Alps = Very Cool Experience. I love mountains. So far, Salzburg may be our favorite place, as is evident by the fact that we stayed there for a few days.

Next up, Munich! With Beer and Hoodies for All!

During my experience, I got attacked by a Boarhog.

Mom even got in on the fun. We now have a special place in our hearts for Lowenbrau beer.

The giant beer carts and the draft horses (bringing a whole new meaning to the word). . . too cool!

um, anyway, back to Salzburg!!!

We made our way to the Ice Caves of Salzburgs (between the driver making us sick and the car sounding like it was about to fall apart, well worth it!)

Oh, and don't forget Hohensalzburg (other wise known as the fortress)

Half of the fun is meeting friends from around the world who are touring Europe too. I met these guys (from Isreal, Australia, and Iowa, respectively) who were at the same hostel as we were. much fun.

You can see our hostel from here!

Me and mom took a tour of Salzburg in a Horse Drawn Carriage. The horses are Hungarian Lippizzaners, names are The Titan and Billy the Kid.

This is our friend, we suspect he is the Ghost of Christmas Future. I think I'll just call him Dr. Death.

We also made our way up to the Eagle's nest, also known as Hitler's private get away. Unfortunately for Hitler, being up that high gave him Vertigo. HAH!

The view is beautiful.

It was actually an interesting time to be up on the mountain. All in the valley at around 11:30 sirens started going off. One of the guys touring up there looked around asking where the Bombers were. It freaked us out a bit.

Turns out they test the sirens once a year, and October 1st is the day they do it. Just the time we were up in the mountain thinking the world was going to end.

Well, mom did anyway. . .

After Salzburg was Vienna.

We went to the Lipizanner museum (and I just realized I can't spell Lipizanner) and wanted to see the horses but they weren't performing or even training the days we were there. So we had to make a pass on them. *sob*

Anyway, we did get the chance to see Egon Schiele at the Leopold, who happens to be one of my favorite artists, though luck be have it, they only had a few paintings up by him as the rest of the exhibit was down for some reason. We got double tickets to see the Modern Art museum as well, unfortunatley for us, they had a prominant exhibit by Bruce Naeman, who specializes in blood, sharp objects and dead things. Not pleasant. An extra minus, or so Ted said.

Speaking of which, as I mentioned earlier, Ted the minion lives in Vienna, and had even given me lots of fun things via Amazon, which I later learned was a no go. Oops. Oh well.

I am short.

I saw this Republican Mascot and I knew I had to cuddle with it.

While we were in Vienna, we saw an Opera! Just to say we saw an Opera in Vienna! Because we are cool like that.

Standing room tickets were 2 Euro, the opera was Il Barbarie el Sevil, or something, because I just butchered the italian of the name, but known in English as the Barbar of Seville. I saw Figaro performed Live in an Opera! So freakin' Awesome!

We took off after about an hour because we had been walking around all day and could only stand for so much longer.

After Vienna? Budapest!!! First night, we ate at a traditional Hungarian restaurant complete with Live Gypsy music.

the next day, we did a lot of walking around.

The parliment in the background of this picture is so freagin' cool.

We also caught the train out to Szentendre, don't ask me how to pronounce that, and we did a bit of sightseeing and shopping out there.

(yes, I'm in a lot of these pictures, its hard to get mom to pose for them. See my T-shirt? Running joke in Austria, a lot of people find their way there and ask where the Kangaroos are.

Stupid gag I saw that made me laugh. Cheap thrill. Bunny with a gun. hehe.

When we were in Buda, under the Castle District is a Labrynth. It was freakin' sweet!

Which brings us to the Present. Venice!!!

Which we came by Night Train. . . this is me looking like a dead animal, or so mom said.

Touring Venice included a Gondola ride.

Which brings us to the present. We are busy washing the much needed laundry and spending a lot of money drying them, and I'm blogging in the internet cafe to bring everyone up to speed. Mostly the family who keeps complaining that they don't get to see enough pictures. Well, there you are!

More pictures here. Feel free to surf through them!