2008 Year in Review

My traditional list of questions, I've been doing this for a few years now. I need to maybe ad a few questions, but we'll see.

01. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
I went skydiving and caving. Maybe next year I'll get bungee jumping in there?

02. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'll make new years resolutions again, of course, but I don't think I did to hot on them this year. There were other factors contributing to my lack of resolution keeping. I'll cover this more in a blog post in the next few days.

03. Did anyone close to you give birth?
two sisters gave birth. So two nieces joined the family.

04. Did anyone close to you die?
*thinks for a moment* Of course, there are always the celebrity deaths. But I can't think of anybody close to me.

05. What countries did you visit?
None this year. How about states? Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, DC, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Missouri, Montana, Idaho and Ohio (for about two miles, just to say I went there).

06. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A chain of command that will give me a chance on the trail instead of removing me to 'protect' me? That would be bloody Fan-freakin'-tastic!

07. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 30th. It was the date that my heart was ripped from my chest and then pounded mercilessly into ground, gorged through with a bayonet and then crapped upon and flushed down the toilet, all hypothetically of course. I don't think i have ever been that depressed before or since. Not a good day, by the way.

Also, September 22nd, I jumped out of an Airplane.

08. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Jumping out of an Airplane and seeing DC and New York. September and October were my ways of coming to terms with what a totally shitty experience this summer was for me, and completely redeemed the year.

09. What was your biggest failure?
My reaction to having my heart torn out of my chest, gorged with a knife and crapped upon. It kind of took me by surprise and because of how I reacted, pretty much in a stupor and being a girl, a bit emotional, I don't think my COC ever trusted me to do what I wanted more then anything to do. And that's be a Drill Sergeant. Which I'm pretty confident I can do if somebody will throw me a freakin' bone and give me a chance. And being stuck with a couple privates, there were a few failures on my part that I don't think would have happened if I wasn't put in that position. But you live and learn, huh? I certainly learned.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Surprise surprise, no. My knee started bothering me again, but overall, this was not a year for injuries. But I've still got seven hours to go.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I guess an Xbox 360 and rockband. And a Taurus Judge. And my DSLR camera. Everything else is just stuff.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
You know, nobody stands out in my head this year. I always have difficulty answering this question.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
My Chain of Command. And literally, they sent me into depression. Several times. But suffering from disthymia, that's actually not that hard to do.

14. Where did most of your money go?
This is a good question that someday I would like to discover. But I think bills and insurance, and junk. Lotsa junk. And Leave.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Fort Knox. I was extremely excited about being at Fort Knox up until about, oh, May 29th. My excitement completely disappeared the next day.

16. What songs will always remind you of 2008?
Holy crap, there were songs on the radio all of the time. That one blatant sex song comes to mind, I don't know what its called, but going down on me between the sheets sounds pretty sexually explicit to me. And the times I had Joes in the vehicle with me when I had the radio on and that song came on, it was always 'oops, change the channel' until I was told to make sure the radio was off completely.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Hmm, I'm pretty content right now. But I think I was happier last year.

ii. Thinner or fatter?
Probably thinner. But i was more fit last year.

iii. Richer or poorer?
I would say its close to a draw. But at this moment, probably richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spelunking. And run. And work out.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Wallowed in self pity.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At the parents. we played Rockband a bit, and watched Bedtime Stories at the theater. Opened presents. the whole spiel.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
I'm incapable of that emotion. But its a goal for 2009.

23. How many one night stands?

24. What were your favourite TV programs?
I don't really watch TV, but robot chicken, Lost, and Avatar (whcih finally finished.)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I try not to hate on anybody. I get mad as all hell and frustrated, but hate is a strong word.

26. What was the best book you read?
Very little reading was done this year. But a lot of writing.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Katie Perry I guess. Her music is just catchy. Even that lesbian song.

28. What did you want and get?
A chance to jump out of a perfectly good airplane? An Xbox?

29. What did you want and not get?
Trail time.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Probably The Dark Knight.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My birthday was not a huge deal this year, and I've noticed that becoming par with birthdays now. Something about the older you get I guess. I turned 28.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Trail time. Noticing a trend here? That was three solid months of frustration.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
I have no fashion concept. For a good six months, it was ACUs and a Drill Sergeant Hat. Lately, I wear a scarf a lot. I think in cool weather, it will be a part of my attire from here on out.

34. What kept you sane?
I wasn't. But leave did help.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sarah Palin. Love her.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
There was a Presidential Election going on this year. What do you think? And yes, I get heavily involved in politics.

37. Who did you miss?
My sanity.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Er, I'm not sure. I met a lot of new people this year. Do any of them stand out? Not yet? Give me a few months and I'll let you know.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
All Privates are dirtbags. Important life lesson for any DS Wannabe. And until I get more trail time, that's what I feel like I am.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"so now I earn my living killing the baby seals."


Best and Worst - Movies 2008

This year was a not my movie year. I didn't watch a whole lot of anything, but I did see some good ones, as well as some not so good ones. Hmm. . . Meanwhile, I thought I would give my own spin on the best and worst movies of 2008. Of course, there is a slight disclaimer, these are movies I've seen, so there might be better movies out there, and there might be worst movies. but I think overall it was not a great year for movies.

So, here were my favorites that were officially released in 2008, in no particular order. It was hard for me to find ten that was worthy of 'top ten', to be honest. Maybe I should see more movies? Or maybe Hollywood should pull their heads out of their behinds and put out something that is worth seeing?

In No Particular Order

THE DARK KNIGHT - This was the year of Batman, and Heath Ledger's portrayal of the joker really made this movie, though it is rumored to be the role that killed him. Definitely worth a view, and it is said to have some conservative undertones to it. It was definitely one of my favorite movies this year. Though I don't know if I'll watch it again any time soon. It's one of those movies I think I can watch once in a great while, because its to depressing to be viewed repeatedly.
Run, Fatboy, Run! - I don't know what it is about this movie, or maybe I'm just a big Simon Pegg fan (Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), but I loved this movie. Yeah, its crude in parts, and I forgot about a few of them, but I just think its a sweet story that's funny. I think I need to go run a Marathon sometime.
Death Race - I actually just recently watched this, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. Lotsa Action! And that guy who plays in Transporter and Crank, I don't know what it is about him, but he plays a badass and so what if he's typecast. He's a hot badass.
WALL-E - I heard of the political undertones of this movie so I was a little hesitant to see it at first. That, and I didn't get to see most of the movies this summer because I was otherwise engaged in other activities, like intense frustration that was work related. But when I finally saw WALL-E, I thought it was cute, and the people in it actually cracked me up, the same way that Idiocracy cracks me up. Pixar can do no wrong.
Iron Man - In a year of super hero movies, this was one of the better ones. And it has Robert Downey Jr in it. And he makes this movie. Because otherwise it would be a slightly better version of 'The Incredible Hulk', which I didn't like.
Horton Hears a Who - Of the Dr Suess movie adaptations starring Jim Carrey, this one is excellent and holds true to the source. It looks like Dr Suess, and I love the story of Horton. I should have seen this one in theaters, it was enjoyable enough too. But alas, I saw 10,000 BC instead.
Expelled - Ben Stein's flick about the politics behind Science and Evolution vs the theory of Intelligent Design, it actually shows that not everyone in the science field is completely committed to Darwinism and some actually believe there is room for debate in this area. However, it also shows an ugly truth about how some voices are silenced, but whatever the case, worth a watch. They have some interesting points discussed, some I even took a little further to flesh out my Nanowrimo Project that I don't think I'll ever let anybody read, but for documentaries, was interesting. NOTE - since somebody brought it up, I didn't see this as religious propaganda at all. It was talking about scientific debate, not suggesting that Intelligent Design is the one and only explanation of creation, but it is suggesting that when members of the scientific community even mention it, they are ostracized and in a sense 'expelled', when the theory of evolution has its flaws.
Tropic Thunder - I put this movie on this list for one reason and one reason only. Robert Downey Jr. He makes this movie. Without him in it, this movie wouldn't be as awesome as it is. And Robert Downey Jr is full of Awesome. The whole spoof on war Movies is pretty funny too, though Ben Stiller forces it sometimes, but that's just Ben Stiller. Watch it for Robert Downey Jr.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Ok, not the best of the Indiana Jones fare, but I need to flesh out my list with ten movies and comeon, it's Indiana Jones! Though I wish they focused more on Harrison Ford and less on Shia LeBouf, or whatever his name is. And the Alien twist was a little out there, but then again, previous movies had to do with lost arks melting Nazi eyes, cults that rip people's hearts out of their chest, and of course the search for the Holy Grail that instantly cures one's ailments. So I guess Aliens aren't to far fetched. Now I want to know what Indiana Jones was up to between Holy Grail and this installment.
the Curious Case of Benjamin Button - This movie was actually not what I was expecting it to be. In truth, I thought it would be better then it was, but it was still an interesting movie that follows the main character as he, well, ages backwards. It has more of an artistic flair to it, but I think to really appreciate it, I may need to see it again. On DVD.

Honorable mentions:
Hancock - been wanting to see this for a while, but I was expecting more humor then it had, and it kind of ends up on the list because I didn't know what else to put here. But it has some funny moments, but I think it was marketed differently then what it actually was. fortunately, I was prepared, otherwise I would have expected outright humor and would probably have been disappointed. But otherwise, hmm, not a bad flick.
Eagle Eye - turn off your brain in some parts and just go with it, because obviously its not going to be like that, but action/suspense. You just hope some cryptic woman doesn't call you in the middle of the night with threatening messages.
Baby Mama - I was pleasantly surprised, I expected it to be a lot worse. But it was actually funny.

Want To See Movies - these are the movies that came out this year that I haven't gotten around to seeing, and may or may not have ended up on this list.
Get Smart - I've heard that this movie is a riot, so one of these days I just need to suck it up and rent it. Maybe when I have a day when I need a good laugh.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - ever since I heard about it, the premise behind it has fascinated me. I will probably view while in theaters. But if it appeals to me like I think it might, this could easily end up on my top ten list.
Yes Man - When Jim Carrey does his more traditional comedy routine, he does well, though the last movie he was in that I really liked was Eternal Sunshine (not counting Horton hears a Who). I'll probably wait for the DVD, have you seen movie prices lately? But it looks funny, on line with Liar Liar, which I thought was hilarious.

Bottom Of the Barrel

By principle, I try to avoid movies that I think will be bad. But I sometimes get smacked with a loser. Anyway, these are the movies I have seen (or partway seen) and just didn't like for whatever reason, or maybe liked a little, but not as much as other movies I saw, or whatever. I'm actually usually easy to please with movies, when I actually watch them. Anywho, you may disagree, but hey, this is my list of sucky movies, alright?

Then She Found Me - I don't know why I bothered with this one, I think the premise on the back of the box hooked me, but I couldn't stand Helen Hunt's character, she seemed completely devoid of emotion and didn't react in a believable manner. And cameos by a bunch of liberal activist actors turned me off. I couldn't finish it. It was just dumb.
10,000 BC - Made absolutely no sense, no consistency. You mean they used mammoths to build the pyramids? That explains EVERYTHING! I understand the importance of turning off your brain when watching something doled out by Hollywood, but you have to throw me a bone here! Regardless, this film was a stinker, we should have stuck with Horton hears a Who.
The Incredible Hulk - Watch Iron Man instead. Its practically the same movie, only better, and with Robert Downey Jr instead. No, seriously, the same plotline is in both movies. Don't believe me? Watch it.
You Don't Mess with the Zohan - I'm admitting I watched this movie. Adam Sandler, where did you go wrong? Ok, it was funny, sort of. And you can get some good quotes out of it. But I don't think I ever want to view this thing again.
Twilight - OMG, Edward is like, So HAWT! *gag me* How did I get dragged to see this droll? I guess it could be worse, and by no means the worst movie i saw this year, but makes the list with Bella being played as an EMO girl with absolutely no concept of showing the expression of Love. This movie went on way to long. good thing I went in with low expectations.
An American Carol - I want to like this movie, I really do. Anything that makes fun of Micheal Moore is great with me. But it was painful to watch in parts, and at other times felt forced. And please, if there was a free concert put on for the troops, nobody in the army would show up in their Class Bs. I don't care what the other services would wear, but we would all be in ACUs (or at least BDUs if your on that big of a budget). I get bugged by this sort of thing. It was funny in parts, and I like to contribute to more conservative movies, but damn I wish I could have put it in the 'favorite' column, but I can't. I'm sorry, but I can't!

Movies that would have Probably Made this List Had I seen them.
Journey to the Center of the Earth - Not saying I outwardly avoided it, but I have heard things. But maybe it's worth watching? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows?
Beverly Hills Chihuahua - Do I need to explain this muck?
HSM3: Senior Year - Am I the only female on this planet that thinks Zac Efron's hair looks stupid? Please tell me that there are other women out there that agree with me.
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds - You might catch the hint that I'm not a big fan of the tween fare. But there could be worse travesties out there I presume. But they really made a movie out of this? And it did THIS well?
W. - Yes, please, let's make an unfavorable movie about a sitting president, that sounds like a fantastic idea. And then let's harp about respecting the office of the presidency when somebody does a spoof about Obama. double standard? maybe a little.
Disaster Movie - Any movie that ends in 'movie' is a dud in my book. I'm not going to waste my time.
Stop-Loss - Why yes, let's see a movie about a bunch of soldiers bitching about going back to Iraq. This is Pro-Soldier you say? Sounds more like pro-desertion to me. No thanks, I'll pass. And believe me, when it comes to the military, I'm pretty good at bitching.

So, there's my little list of movies for this year. I want to see how my list stacks up against others, though I seemed to have avoided the artsy awardsy fare like Milk (I think I'll pass) and the like that will probably end up on most awards lists.

Movies of 2008

UPDATE: Saw Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and while I think it's a good movie, it wasn't what I quite expected it to be. However, I think I need to put it in my top ten because it is better then Hancock, which wasn't what I was expecting it to be either.


The Last Few Days

After being snowed in for about a week and a half, I finally managed to get out and enjoy the weather. On Christmas eve I headed over to the parent's house and hung out with family all day christmas day. But on Friday and Saturday, I went snowboarding, and yesterday I hit up Wild Walls and did a little wall climbing.

It was nice when I didn't have to drive anywhere, but it looks like I'm snowed in again. *sighs*

But one of the things I did notice, I wasn't online most of the time. And you know, it was a nice break for once. I enjoyed going out and doing things.

So, Christmas was quiet and simple, and I think I like it that way. It was definitely a white christmas, and everyone else is getting sick of the snow but i still love it and just want it to keep piling up out there. It melted a little on Saturday and Sunday, but now its back to snowing again. Yay for snow.

The mountains were fantastic. Most of the time when I go snowboarding in the Pacific Northwest, I ntoice it gets really icy sometimes. But the mountains got hit hard, though they don't have a good base, it's a thick powder. Wore myself out on Friday at 49 Degrees North and then got up and did it again on Saturday at Silver Mountain. Silver went well, but it was quite windy up there. I hit some thick powder and face planted a few times, discovered that I don't mind powder as long as there isn't a bunch of tiny shrubs and trees under it, because otherwise I get stuck. And getting stuck in powder isn't very much fun.

Actually, it can be quite a workout.

I'm going to try to go up to the mountains again soon, probably later this week, but only if I think my car can handle it. Otherwise, i need to find somebody who has four wheel drive capabilities to get a ride with.

Meanwhile, well, hey! I'm stuck! And my Xbox is at the Parent's house. I think I need to bring it back over here.



I got an interesting email exchange going with this person. I thought I would share.

Original Email: Are you for real or made up ?

Reply: What?

RE Re: A real solider.

RE re re: No, you got me, it's a huge ploy I've made up, and I got everyone including the army fooled. But damn, you saw right through it.

Found it amusing. :)

Ho-Hum Stuffs

So, after being snowed in for the last week or so, I'm finally getting out of the house to go do something more constructive. Like spend time with Family and Friends.

And there is a very strong possibility at this moment that I might be going back to Knox, but it's not confirmed. This is the last time I will speak about it. If I suddenly post a blog saying "I'm in Kentucky," you'll know I'm in Knox, and I won't blog about what I do there until I get back.

But in the meantime, I'm off to enjoy some family bonding time. Blogging will probably slow, since I haven't been online for two days. It's been kind of a nice break actually (unless you count playing rockband II as being online)

Merry Christmas.


Rock Band Story - Endless Setlist

SO there I was, I'm still a little cautious about driving unless absolutely necessary so I'm still a little bit snowed in. Though I did manage to dig my car out of the pile of snow today, I didn't go anywhere.

I decided to play a little rockband however, just because it's a fun game, and I was playing it online with other people when I decided to try to get some more things unlocked on my band so I opened it up so others could play with me.

Then I get a couple of kids who ask if I have the endless setlist unlocked. I do, since I sort of beat the game already. So, um, that's 84 songs, in a row. From easy to the most difficult songs on the game. I've kind of wanted to do it, but I never had a real reason too, because you have to be ready to do it. No breaks through the entire setlist. It just keeps going. And going. And going. Until you play the most difficult song in the game.

Stupid me, I agreed to it. Yes, 84 songs, we filled the band with three complete strangers and started playing. I got bass. Which is probably a good thing, because some of those later songs would have killed me on guitar.

So, somewhere around song forty, we lose our singer. He was doing awesome too, but I have a sneaky suspicion one of our other players annoyed him to the point that he left, or he wasn't prepared at that moment to do an 84 song setlist. So the rest of the setlist was played with no lyrics. Just the drums, bass, guitar and whatever plays in the background.

And the songs get harder as you go, mind you. So we do alright, I found out that I could probably go to Hard on Bass while we went along because I never failed the entire time. But our guitarist, well, he was hurting. We managed to get through alright though, until song number 80. Metallica's Battery. Try as we might, I think after six hours of playing rockband, and it being about two in the morning and these kids are fourteen years old, well, we tried but we could not get over that hump of a freakin' song. I managed to save up enough star power to rescue the guitarist and the drummer, who also failed out while we played. No such luck. We restarted the song about five times, could not make the hump over the 49% of that dang song complete, so we got the idea of, well, they let us keep playing without a singer, what if we boot the guitarist and play just bass and drums?

Small problem, we discovered. See, the guitarist and drummer were playing on the same account. When the guitarist got booted, so did the drummer.

Leaving me all alone, just the bass, playing this freakin' setlist. Well, I made it this far, I decided to just finish the blasted thing. So I did. I one starred each song because the other players got 0%, and all I got to listen to was the bass to keep me going, but I finished that stupid thing. Almost failed the third from the final song too, but the last four songs were just me.

Well, got that achievement. And that's six hours of my life I could have spent doing something more constructive. Like sleep. Or something.

But good news, you don't need a drummer, or a guitarist, or a singer to finish playing the setlist and getting the pointage. You just need you and whatever instrument you are playing. Everyone else can drop out, you just keep plugging along.

Good to know if I temporarily lose my sanity again.


Christmas Wish

Read this story of a little girl who only wants Christmas Cards for Christmas, as she is suffering from glioblastoma multiforme, which is a rare brain tumor, and she has been given only a few more weeks to live. I'm sure she will appreciate them even if she gets them after the holiday.

Right now she has lost most of her motor skills. She is confined to bed and cannot really do anything or play with the gifts she is getting from
people, but she LOVES getting cards - she has gotten so many from people she does not know and jus t loves to have grandma read about the people who send them and see their pictures and is so proud of all her cards. Her room is just filled with cards.

When asked what she wants for Christmas she said she wants to see how many Christmas cards she can get. Many people have passed this wish along to their churches, prayer groups, friends and family. There are school groupswhere children are making her cards. People are including pictures so she can see who it is that is sending her the card.

More info can be found Here. I've got a card in the mail.

UPDATE : Link fixed. Or should be at least.


Snowed In

I'm not going to even bother going outside today. I would like to go snowboarding sometime this week, but I think i need to first be able to dig my car out of the driveway before I think of going anywhere.

Yes, under that pile of snow somewhere is a car. More specifically, MY car. Its predicted to keep coming down until about seven this evening, which i can rejoice in because if I ever do make it up to a mountain (Silver Mountain is probably my best bet, right off the freeway, they finally opened today) it's going to make for great riding.

But until the roads clear a little, you think my little front wheel drive sedan will be able to negotiate two feet of snow? Probably not.

So that leaves me with a list of things to do around the house to keep me occupied until I can shovel my way out and make it to one of the nearby mountains.

What does one do when there is nowhere to go?

CLEAN - When you are stuck in your living area with no ability to escape, sometimes it helps to make it a little more hospitable. And even if you are a total slob like I am, I feel more relaxed when my space is picked up. Your snowed in with nowhere to go? Make it an excuse to pick up your place. You got nothing better to do, right?

READ A BOOK - So your space is picked up already, or you get a case of just wanting to bundle up and hunker down while the snow falls. Grab a hot cup of cocoa, peruse your library and settle down with a good book. It does help pass the time away, and letting your imagination carry you someplace warmer and more exciting is a bit of a departure from the monotony of being 'snowed in'.

PLAY VIDEO GAMES - Ok, so you hate to read, or you just have nothing that you haven't read already and you don't feel like reading something twice. Well, if you are a gamer, being snowed in might not be much of a departure from your day to day life. Turn on the ol' Xbox and play video games with loved ones until the snow melts. Play all 84 songs on Rockband II through the longest playlist ever. Practice gay marriage and polygamy while keeping all your spouses happy and unaware of each other on Fable II. And if you are feeling like getting a little exercise in, why not turn on the Wii and play a little Wii Fit?

WATCH A MOVIE - Or maybe your Xbox gave you the dreaded Red Ring of Death and you recently sold your Wii Fit on Craigs List because they are currently going for more then you paid for it, why not rade your video library instead and find a good action flick to pass the time? If it is before Christmas, you can set the mood by putting on a good holiday movie like Elf. Have a Jimmy Stewart Marathon by throwing on It's a Wonderful Life and Mr Krueger's Christmas, or give yourself an excuse to watch the entire extended edition of Lord of the Rings back to back. Heck, rewatch old seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Battlestar Galactica! That will keep you busy for hours.

WATCH TV - Or maybe your entire christmas collection of movies is over at the parent's house, and your DVD player is currently on the fritz. There is also the option of watching regular TV. Turn on the news and see how bad other people have it in the world to help brighten your day. Maybe there is a report on how many wrecks are on the road from the first major snowfall. Watch Daytime Soaps and get hooked on Days of Our Lives and When the World Turns. See completely incompetent people sue each other over frivolous issues on Judge Judy. Watch the Travel Channel and picture yourself in some exotic location like the Bahamas or Hawaii where they haven't seen snow since the ice age.

SURF THE INTERNET - Or maybe your brother has his computer hooked into the huge television set that you use to watch TV on and is busy playing EVE Online since he can't play his XBOX anymore, and the other TV downstairs isn't hooked to the cable. You could always surf the wonders of online. The internet can keep you busy for YEARS. It is the one place anybody can go to keep from getting bored. There is just so much Information, you can get your local news, check the weather stats to see when the snow will finally stop, educate yourself by researching a subject that you always wanted to learn about. In fact, Surfing the Internet can be broken down into SubCategories.
  • READ THE BLOGS - Find out what is the talk by surfing Political blogs. Why is the left mad at Obama for choosing Rick Warren to say the invocation at his inaugeration? What does Michelle Malkin have to say about the Auto Bailout? What does the Daily Kos have to say about Michelle Malkin? The drama is always at its height during election season, which we seem to still be in, but if Politics are not your thing, you can always try the milblogs to see what people are saying on the ground in Afghanistan, when they have a chain of command who will let them speak. And if that's not your thing, how about Mormon Mom Blog Spoofs? Seriously! If none of that sounds interesting, bare in mind that if there is a subject out there that interests you, there is probably a blog out there about it. Check out Cracked.com, which has a blog that blogs about various lists on any topic imaginable. Very entertaining.
  • START A BLOG - Didn't find a blog that interested you? Think you have a better understanding on a subject then some other neanderthal? Why not start your own blog? You can blog about anything, and chances are somebody out there will read it, even if its your own mom. And if you don't want your mom to read what you are writing, start a blog under an internet alias that sounds nothing like your real name. Nobody will know its you unless you put your picture up. You can even come up with a better list of things to do when your snowed in then I have!
  • WEBCOMICS - Sure, a lot of good ones fizzle and die, but if you want to keep yourself entertained for hours by looking at pictures with words on them (not like a novel which generally has no pictures in them if you can't stomach reading a book), and whats more, they are generally funny. There's some really popular ones out there, most of them seem to be geared toward gamers like Penny Arcade and Ctrl+Alt+Del (though I'm quite partial to 8-bit theater, being a huge fan of the original Final fantasy and all), but Online comics are more then that. You can view sindicate classics such as Calvin and Hobbes, Army favorites like PVT Murphy's Law, nifty comics like Sluggy Freelance, or strange and unusual comics with ridiculously long names that frequently go in and out of hiatus that has such a niche market that they will likely never be insanely popular like Creature, Keeper of the Vortron: Dimension Gateway. Pick one, read it from the beginning. Some of them might take you a week to get through their archives. But where are you going? You're snowed in, remember?
  • YOUTUBE - You don't want to read, you just want to watch and laugh without much brain power involved to remind yourself that you are not that miserable being stuck indoors for who knows how long. But if they made a video of something, you will likely find it on YouTube. Watch Robot Chicken episodes before Adult Swim pulls them for copyright Violation. Enjoy as Charlie the Unicorn goes on another magical adventure and get's his kidney stolen in the process. View Chad Vadar work a thankless job as a Supermarket Day Manager. Listen as this guy carefully records himself four times to sing aCapella versions of John Williams classics to Star Wars Themed Lyrics. And on the same vein as Youtube, there is Today's Big Thing, which will leave you with plenty of interesting things to watch for hours.
  • SELL UNNEEDED CRAP ON CRAIGSLIST AND EBAY - Like that Wii Fit you've used a grand total of four times since you bought it, or that PSP that you never play. Your snowed in, go through all of that stuff you got and find out what you no longer need and make a few bucks. Just bare in mind that since your snowed in, other people are as well so it might be a bit before they can come and get things. But that's what ebay is for. You can list it so that it comes off when the snow finally melts and then you can ship it. And on the same vein. . .
  • BUY CRAP - You got some christmas shopping to do, you aren't able to go anywhere, go on Amazon.com, eBay, or whatever other website you prefer shopping at and get a little shopping done for the holidays. Then have it shipped to your house in time for it to go under the tree. Think of the money you save on gas! It can go to shipping instead. If you play it right, you can get some deals that offer free shipping for further savings! Sweet!
  • GO TO AN ONLINE DATING SERVICE - Of course, it helps if you are single, but if you are a swinging type or wish to have a discreet affair, well, I'm not saying that I condone that sort of behavior but hey! To each their own. Just don't go crying when you pick up an STD from a casual encounter with a complete stranger. And each dating service has a different niche market. eHarmony for a long time was about christian values and commitment through compatibility. Craigslist personals are all about whatever the hell they are about, pick your poison, you'll probably find something. Match.com is, well, a matching site, kind of like eHarmony. I think. Log on, make a profile, find somebody else and start chatting with them through the IM service they provide. Plan a meeting for when the snow finally melts. Make sure its a public place and to bring your mace on your first encounter in case the person turns out to be a complete whack job. I'd say bring your gun but you might be percieved as the whack job in that situation.
  • VISIT FORUMS AND CHAT ROOMS - maybe you don't want to hook up with somebody. Maybe you just want to find people of similar interests and chat about things. Anything at all. You can spend hours in forums and chat rooms meeting people and finding new friendships with people that you will likely never meet in real life.
  • PLAY GAMES - There are a ton of gaming sites out there. Flash games are probably the most prolific, you can play old stand bys like poker or swat the penguin, or Cat bat if you have a penchant to seeing cute things bloodied up. And if you want to have your soul sucked away, try World of Warcraft or Everquest and kiss your social life goodbye, because you won't make it out of your snowed in state intact.

WRITE - Maybe you aren't in the mood for surfing the internet, but you aren't so much in the mood for reading someone else's imagination, and you want to explore your creative side more. Why not write a short story? Or if you are like me, continue on one of your half dozen unfinished stories that all amass 100 or more pages? You can write a story about being snowed in! Make it a thriller, the lights go out, and somebody is trying to kill you and there is nowhere to go. Defend yourself! Or you can make it a comedy about how everytime somebody tries to do something while they are snowed in, it goes wrong. Or you can make it a story about a family enjoying themselves in the summer heat during the fourth of July, you know, to escape the monotony.

EXPLORE YOUR NEGLECTED HOBBIES - The weather has killed the power and your computer is going to die at any minute. Do you have an unfinished model train set sitting down in your basement you haven't touched in two years? How about that pile of Art Supplies from your days in college that you have all but forgotten? Why not make the most of the winter season by rediscovering these lost crafts that you enjoyed doing at one time but for whatever reason you are no longer doing? You enjoyed it at one time, right? So why aren't you enjoying it now? And even if the power is not out, if you got a long put off craft waiting for you to just finish it already, put the shoulder to the wheel and why not get off your freakin' butt for a day and do something you don't do every other day of the week that is actually somewhat productive. Like CREATE SOMETHING!

STEAL THE FOUR WHEEL DRIVE CAR - So, YOU'RE snowed in. But that doesn't mean that everyone in your household is. What about that four wheeled drive truck with all terain tires sitting in the driveway? A mazda protege might not be able to negotiate the snowey conditions, but a Nissan Frontier could! Just steal the keys while the owner of the forementioned vehicle isn't looking (or to busy playing video games online) and take off with a bunch of snowboarding equipment in the back. Bliss! Silver Mountain, here I come!

So, there is a few items to give anybody an idea of things they can do. I think after taking three hours of researching this list, I'm going to do the second to the final. Or maybe I should take a hint and work on my webcomic that I am toying my readers with by updating once two weeks ago after an eight month hiatus. I think I need to update it, it won't take me long to do. I can get a jump on it and just get it done.

Yeah, that's it. So, update the webcomic it is. Or Clean. Or do some art. (or steal my brother's truck)

Or I can just go suck my life away playing an Evil SOB on Fable II and sacrifice innocents to the temple of Shadows. this game is so wrong on so many levels.

UPDATE: I forgot one important factor of snowed in bliss, because I failed to see what married couples all across the country see when they have nowhere to go. So, erm, this next one does not apply to me, NOW, but in a few years, when I find myself perhaps married and snowed in once more, I might look back on this list for ideas and I would be somewhat disappointed if this was not added.

MAKIN' WHOOPIE! - What better way to spend a cold winter's day snowed in then by spending it getting intimate with the one you love. Are you workin' on adding another member to your family but you don't seem to be able to find the time to get together for some baby making? What better time when it's freakin' frigid outside and the heat's not working? Create your own heat and lock the door so the kids don't come barging in curious about what you are doing. With the cold weather running across the country, can you imagine the number of child births we'll see in nine months? Of course, some people are going to be attributing it all to Obama's win in November.


Bush Dodges Shoe, Left Laments

Alright, for all his faults and especially with this Bailout crap over the last few months, President Bush has been a severe disappointment (though his popularity rating continues to be higher then congress), but I don't hate the man. Actually, as a person, Presidency aside, I really like George Bush. I have a feeling he'll be just fine once he leaves the whitehouse, though his legacy might not be intact, just so long as Obama doesn't have a terrorist attack on his watch.

Anyway, you may or may not have heard of the Shoe Incident in Iraq, where Bush was holding his last press conferance as president there, and an Iraqi reporter stood up and lobbed a shoe at him. And then proceeded to throw the other one. The left are all in awe and rejoicing that somebody would throw a shoe at President Bush, also commenting on what an insult that is in the muslim world because the soul of the shoe is considered dirty, and universally they all seem saddened that Bush wasn't hit by the shoe and how fantastic that would be.

Then some news reports are adding insult to injury by stating that Bush 'cowers' at shoe throwing incident.

Look at this old guy and his cat like reflexes. What would you have done if you were in his position, take it in the face?

Bush of course, takes it with grace. I think he's developed quite a thick skin in the last eight years, considering he's been called all sorts of vile things. With the whole Obamamania going on, people need to remember that for another month, Bush is still our President. The least they could do was respect that position, if they hope that people will treat Obama with respect.

But the shoe dodging is impressive.

"Throw a shoe at me once, shame on--you. Throw a shoe--you throw a shoe, you can't throw a shoe again."


Holy Crap it's COLD!!!

Holy crap it's COLD!!!

I was pretty much stuck in my house for the last few days because i didn't get snow tires on my car before the snow hit, and it's pretty much the kind of car you don't drive anywhere without snow tires when its cold.

Yesterday was frigid too. I got in my car to take it to get the tires changed when I was subtly reminded that it's time to change the batteries.

Because my car wouldn't start. And there is something about being told I had a weak battery when I got the oil changed when I left Kentucky. Hmm. . .

So I changed the battery all by myself, in frigid weather, running in and out of the house frequently to keep warm. It wasn't like it was cloudy and overcast or anything, bright blue skies, perfect snowboarding weather in fact, it was just so freakin' COLD!

I have been waiting for the snow for some time now, so now that I've got the tires on the car, I think I'm going to make a trek to the nearest open mountain to get a little riding in.

In other news, I am a proud Aunt of a baby girl, Chloe, which is the second baby born in our family this year. I have another niece, Sarah, born in November, and a third niece is due in February. Yep, it's feast or famine around these parts :) No pressure on me, nope. None at all :P


DC - Post the Third

Day six - October thirdish. And my third day in DC.

Yeah, I haven't finished my Leave Speech. And I can't think of anything else to blog about in my very boring life right now. So I'll blog about the more exciting part of the year.

This day, I decided to plan out my trips on the metro and bought a pass to cover the trips I would take. It worked like a charm.

First: White House

I went straight to the white house this morning to get some pics and a view of it. I didn't tour, because apparently getting a tour through the white house grounds these days requires a three month RSVP or something. So I got a pic from a distance.

Saw the white house. Got a picture of me looking disheveled (I'm on the road, that's my excuse). Moving on to the next matter of business.

Second: WWII Monument

The WWII monument recently got dedicated a few years ago, and the main concern was making it so it didn't spoil the reflecting pool and the view of the Washington Monument from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

There is a lot of symbolism involved in this memorial. One side represents the European Theater, one side represents the Pacific Theater. Each pillar represents a state. There are different battles etched in the granit around the fountains on the side.

Found my state. You don't think I'm desecrating the monument by climbing up here, do you?

Third: Signers of the Declaration of Independence

This is a memorial off the beaten path. Myself and one other person were the only ones there when I visited it, and pictures truly do not do it justice.

That's Mr Ben Franklin's autograph etched in stone. I wish I got a better photograph, but it means more in person. I could have probably gotten some better pictures on an overcast day.

Fourth: Vietnam Memorial, Again.

I visited the Vietnam Memorial two days previous. But I didn't get a good chance to really see it then, as it was getting dark, and i wanted to get some pictures of it.

It is a very somber place to visit, I remember studying it in Art Class and the symbolism involved, how it is a place for vets to come and reflect. The sheer quantity of names on the wall is a little numbing itself.

Remind me to burn that shirt when i get a chance.

Fifth: Lincoln Memorial, Again

Like the Vietnam Memorial, I had visited the Lincoln memorial again as well.

The pictures I took of myself were better then.

Sixth: Korean War memorial

The Korean Memorial is not as famous as the Vietnam memorial, but like it, there is a lot of reflective symbolism. There are images etched into the carving, and the statues reflect in it.

It has a near mirror affect.

Seventh: FDR Memorial

Yes, today was Monument Day. I just walked around the mall looking at the different monuments. Word to the wise, wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

The FDR memorial uses a lot of symbolism in regards to waterfalls to represent the different parts of FDR's presidency. As you may know, FDR was President during the Depression and WWII, and he's the only president to serve four terms.

Without showing you the mass amounts of waterfalls in the memorial, I'll show you the final, which is the most impressive display. It is a pretty neat memorial to walk through. I recommend having somebody with you, so you can take stupid pictures of yourself. It's hard to do that when it's just you and a tripod.

The final monument of FDR and his dog. Seeing me next to the dog will give you an idea of how large this statue is.

Eighth: Jefferson monument

This monument is a bit off the beaten path, instead of directly on the mall. But it is still definitely worth a visit.

While walking toward it, I saw an albino squirrel. I had the wrong lens to get a really good shot of it.

Inside the monument is a statue of Jefferson.

It's a big statue. Lot's of etchings on the wall to go with it.

And of course, the neo classical architecture that is symbolic of DC.

I tried to get a shot of the monument from across the water, but as you can see, it is quite shady over there, which is pretty much makes for not the best of picture taking experiences. Yeah, I'm still learning this camera.

Ninth: Holocaust Museum (warning: Powerful and very depressing! This place will rip your heart to shreds!)

I don't have any pictures of the Holocause museum, mainly because pictures aren't allowed. But this is a must visit for any history enthusiest and anybody else in general. It pretty much details the history of the holocaust from the very beginnings to experiences of the survivors today. Give yourself at least two hours to tour through it. It takes at least that long to just walk through it without reading every little piece. Plenty of videos, lots of information about Hitler's eugenics program and kind of shows how a rational group of people can be brainwashed into thinking Genicide is ok.

If you go to DC, this museum is a must visit. And whats more, it is completely free.

Tenth: Washington Monument. . . Sort of

img src="http://www.risawn.com/blog/leave/dc61.jpg" width="315">

Ok, I didn't actually go to the Washington Monument. You have to get a pass to go to it, and they go quickly. What's more, i didn't get there early enough to get one. But you can see the monument from all corners of the mall.

From the whitehouse.

In front of the Licoln Memorial.

the Jefferson memorial.

To name a few. It is an iconic figure, you can't help but notice it everywhere you go, and of course, it is one of the most recognizeable monuments in DC.

My parting shot from the mall, on the lawn, with the smithsonian and the Capital in the back ground. Then I hopped on the metro and headed to my last destination of the day.

Eleventh: International Spy Museum

Yes, the international Spy Museum. One of the few museums you actually have to pay to see. But it is well worth a visit, though can be skipped if you are on a time constraint.

Watch out for China Town. And don't get to turned around. Er. Hehe.

Not the best location in DC, there was a street preacher just outside the metro entrance telling how evil the white man was and what was owed in retributions, and all sorts of nonsense. I didn't linger long.

the Spy Museum is another such place where pictures aren't allowed, so I'll link to it. Definitely worth a visit if you have the time. But it is easy to get museumed out when visiting DC. But I still had a little time left.

Twelfth: National Portrait Gallery.

It was basically a portrait museum, and is directly across from the International spy Museum. I wandered through the first floor for a moment. If you are an art lover, I guess its worth a peak, but by all means not the highlight of my trip. I'm not much of a portrait art fan.

The one museum I really wanted to visit was the Museum of American History, but it was closed for renovation. If I make it back to DC in the near future, I will be sure to pay it a visit.

While there was still daylight left, I made it back to my car and got on the road to my next destination. Which was Philidelphia. I'll try to post about that later.



If you ever wonder what soldiers do on a drill weekend.

Um, we do lot's of stuff. Hooah training exercises, high speed power point presentatons, and Robot Chicken.

Yes, when there is a lull in training, there is nothing we like to do more in our unit then quote Star Wars Spoofs.

EDIT - Eh, it was only a matter of time before that video was ganked from Youtube

I wanted to do a little stop motion animation for a while now, just to see if I could do it (hah, hahah!) and when I was telling people what I was doing, everyone immediately brought up Robot Chicken. If I am able to do anything with it (I got them sort of molded out, now I have to write a fifteen to thirty second script so I can time it just right when I'm taking the Photogs, then I have to find the right software to put it together) I'll post the finished product here for all to see. Expect it in about five months.


Plaxico Burress on Gun Safety

So who is Plaxico Burress? Well, apparently the center of the joke is he's an NFL Football player for the Giants who shot himself in the leg with his gun while in a Nightclub. There's a bit of a fall out in regards to it too, though I hadn't heard of it until I saw this spoof.

I think there are way to many people out there who own guns and don't have a freakin' clue how to properly handle them. I'm all for gun ownership and everything, but responsible gun ownership, and if you own one, you should know how to use it.


My Life as a Drill Sergeant

It's been long enough, mission is long over, many of the souls involved have since completed training and are fully indoctrined into the Army. I've been out for more then a month.

I think it's safe to tell you my summer story.

Now this comes with a side note, and an explanation perhaps of what exactly happened. For my job, looking back, I learned quite a bit in my summer in Kentucky, but it wasn't without it's intense frustrations and sometimes what seemed to be a lack of understanding from my chain of command. But this is not going to be a bitching session or a rant, more of a 'who what when where why and how' without getting emotion involved. Or trying not too. I think my command did the best they could in many regards, but I think I got the short end of the stick.

Why is that you ask? Because if something happens and I go back, which is actually turning out to be a possibility that may happen sooner then I expected, I will live by the same rule as this summer. I can't blog about what is happening in my military career. I'm not going to talk about it. And if I do, it will be on very vague terms.

Now, about this summer.

For those of you who know, I am a reservist in the US Army, I do my one weekend a month and two weeks a year and occaissionaly I get called up to go to cool and exciting (and sometimes not so exciting) places. So far, the 'different' places have been as diverse as Suriname in South America, the nation of Kosovo when it was still a International Protectorate, Devens Massachussetts, and Camp Parks in California.

Now I'm a Drill Sergeant. This might stir up different emotions in anyone, and I get that from time to time when I'm wandering around in my civies and somebody finds out that I wear this funny hat (mostly this is disbelief or a flat up 'huh?'). Drill Sergeant duty leaves me limited to about five places if I'm going to be doing BCT (Basic Combat Training, the bread and butter of the Drill Sergeant image), but so far the two primary have been Fort Jackson and Fort Knox.

This summer, I was mobilized to Fort Knox for six months. You may have not known that from my blog because I largely kept mum about it.

You may have wondered why if you did.

I was specifically ordered not to blog about anything to do with being a drill sergeant over this summer, or my job in general for that matter. And I followed it for a very important reason. Because tension was high and any blog about my job would have likely turned into a full scale bitching session. I've had time to decompress since then so I can avoid this, hopefully.

See, it is partly because of this blog (and the now defunct and likely to stay that way Foxholes and Dogtags) that I did not serve as a drill sergeant this summer.

I was the freakin' supply sergeant. And I hated that job. The experience over all was not really the highlight of my life full of joy and wonder. I could go into about a three day rant about how much I hated being the supply sergeant, how I felt like I got screwed up the tail pipe royally on that assignment, and how I never want to see another piece of linen for as long as I live.

Alright, actually linen wasn't so bad, it got me some Joe time.

The thing is, though I hated my job, I worked my freakin' butt off on it trying to make stuff happen, learned it from scratch as I've never done supply before this mob, and basically ran around with a sense of urgency (that sense of urgency makes me believe that I would make a fantastic drill sergeant in that regard) to the point that people often commented that I should slow down and I was always moving with something to do. But it was a thankless job, and good luck getting anything that needed to be purchased. You have to beg borrow and steal to get anything.

The reason I volunteered to go to Knox in the first place was to get Joe time. I volunteered to be a Drill Sergeant, I've wanted to be a Drill Sergeant ever since AIT (I didn't dare admit it during Basic) and I actively sought out this unit as soon as I got back from Kosovo. The only downside is my lack of street cred (that's a combat patch) which I would still like to get one day, but in the meantime, I decided to become a drill sergeant because there are many aspects about the job that draw me to it. And I love being a drill sergeant.

Now, I know I am not the world's best drill sergeant. Far from it, and this summer high lighted that for me, as I still wore the hat even though I was in the Supply Sergeant slot (I probably should have taken it off before we picked up, in the long run, things would have been better). I'm a rookie, though I've been out of Drill Sergeant School for a year, you don't get a lot of trail time on one weekend a month. And two weeks in Jackson only gives you a few lessons, especially when you fall on Blue Phase Privates (a whole different animal then red phase, I'll tell you). I wanted that trail time, because in my mind, to make me the optimum drill sergeant I could be, I needed that trail time to develop myself.

I came to Fort Knox probably the most motivated person there, ready to push Joe and start training, to get that experience, because the one thing that really truly makes a Drill sergeant is just that, experience.

Well, I did get some trail time in, but not in the way I would have preferred for a Drill Sergeant like myself, somebody who is still new at the game and didn't have a lot of leadership experience coming in to begin with. I got my joe time in with the occaisional detail (four to ten privates, depending on the needs of the mission) and the SLLC. Curse 'em.

This summer, I was not a stereotypical drill sergeant, being in the supply room, I was told that I was a supply sergeant and to stay out of the drill sergeant's way. I won't go into detail on why, but my confidence became shot as I felt like I was always getting my tail reamed, so I became essentially a neutered drill sergeant. I tried to cultivate that tough attitude and mean 'in your face' mantra that is so well defined as a drill sergeant, but got my butt reamed for interfering with those 'on the trail' that I just became myself. And I'm not a really mean person by my nature. Not feeling like I was allowed to develop that side of me more made me the 'nice' drill sergeant.

Bloody hell, that is not what any drill sergeant wants to be. Especially as a female. You should be universally loathed (but respected) at least through week 6 if you are a female drill sergeant. I think I had their fear through week one, maybe, simply because I wore that funky hat. But I think most privates in the troop were wondering 'what's her deal?' then anything else.

And from my summer as a Supply Sergeant that wore a drill sergeant hat, I learned a few lessons.

My primary lesson, that I will live faithfully to the fullest extent if I ever get trail time again is an important lesson that any drill sergeant should follow.


This is without fail the way any and all drill sergeants should live. Keep that in mind. They're all dirtbags. All of them. Every last freakin' one, from the one that rides sick call to the one that scores a 322 on their first PT test. They're all, without exception, dirtbags.

Now, if you are a civilian, you are probably wondering, 'that's kind of harsh, and you shouldn't judge them, they are people too, with individual feelings and needs' and I will tell you 'no they are not! They ceased becoming human as soon as they entered reception, got their heads shaved and started wearing the same thing as everyone else.' And there is a very vital reason for doing this. Drill Sergeants can't afford to see privates as humans. They are foul nasty things that need to be kept at a distance. I will tell you, as soon as you see them as human, you lose your power base with them, and you lose that power base, you will NEVER get it back.

You will see privates that you think are high speed from day one. Don't let them fool you, they are still dirtbags. You don't know these privates, you don't know their history, where they came from, what kind of people they were before coming in. You are stuck with 60 faces that all flow into one another and your job is to train them. When you start seeing them as human, you start empathizing with them, and when you do that, it opens up the power to manipulate you. And they will tell you anything you want to hear. They will lie through their teeth. They will tell you very convincing sob stories. The way to counter this is to put up that barrier and not want to hear it. You can't afford to know them to well.

Granted, from time to time there is a private with a genuine concern, and it is your job to take care of them, and you take care of them. But you have to feign indifference. Because as soon as they think they got your ear, they will take advantage of you and tell you their entire life story so you will take their side when things are hard.

They are dirtbags. All of them.

When do they cease being dirtbags? I would say its safe to drop that label around week five or so, as soon as you start to see them as Soldiers instead. By that time, you get to know them, you can't help but get to know them by this time. Then you give the ones that deserve it your respect. But keep that distance. When they graduate from AIT, you can start seeing them as human again.


The BCT environment has an essential rule which coincides with Lesson One, aside from the incredibly cheesy name. The Battle Buddy. If you go anywhere, your battle buddy is right along with you. never go ANYWHERE without your battle buddy. This is extremly important in places like Fort Jackson and Leonard Wood, which is co-ed. I learned it is also very important in all male units like Fort Knox. It is not as enforced in all male environments, but it is still important.

This summer, I was stuck more then once with a private who didn't have a battle buddy. Just me and him. I didn't like this but I had to put up with it because another soldier couldn't be taken out of training early on in the cycle for purposes of enforcing the Battle Buddy system. But it is ESSENTIAL!

You ever hear of Stockholm Syndrome? Well, it can be put in reverse as well. More then once, I was put one on one with a private, and when they aren't a mass of faces, you start humanizing them, and then the trouble starts. This is especially problematic if it occurs early in the cycle and you are a rookie drill sergeant like myself. You CANNOT afford to humanize them. They are dirtbags, pure and simple, and if they are taken out of training early, no matter what the reason, you can't empathize with them even if you think they have a valid reason for being out of training. Some privates are genuinely hurt, they want to train and you feel bad for them. Suck it up. They are still dirtbags. Especially the SLLCs. Don't let them break down the barrier, because when they find out they got your support, they'll manipulate you and take advantage. DON'T let it happen. They are all dirtbags. Even the ones who aren't.

Never let a private approach you without a battle buddy, whether you are in Fort Knox, Fort Jackson or working with the National Guard. If they don't have a battle buddy, you better have one.


I've mentioned the SLLCs a few times now. And you are probably wondering who the hell these are. Well, they are the soldiers out of training because of various ailments. The Sick, Lame, Lazies and Crazies. Some of them are genuine. Some of them are just seeking a way out of the army and are finding any way out that they can.

The SLLCs will get together and will compare notes. The ones who are faking will ask the ones that are genuine what they did to get the chapter and the one way ticket to HHC (heading home company) and then suddenly, you'll have the same ailment spring up within the group hoping to expedite the process.

Now, it is important to seperate the SLLCs from the soldiers still in training, because the ones in training might get ideas if they have a change of heart and they'll become SLLC too.

But the ones who are under threat of recycle, those are the ones you really want to watch out for. Suddenly they'll start hearing voices and get ulcers when before all they had was a mysterious bum leg that never healed. Hmm. . .

In my mind, if you don't want to be there, I don't want you there, but that is not the army's mentality. We are at War and we need fresh bodies, even if that body is reluctant to serve once he realizes what he's done. Tough luck, suck it up. Last I checked, its still a volunteer army.

Watch out for the SLLCs. They are the biggest whiners and complainers of them all. Don't empathize with them, EVER.

Again, all dirtbags.

Why am I stressing the SLLCs? Because they were my primary contact. And I learned some hard lessons from that group. In my mind, some were genuinely good people who would have made outstanding soldiers if they didn't have the health problem they did. A couple were fighting to stay in.

But you don't know the whole story, the privates will put on a front so that you see what they want you to see. They'll tell you what they think you want to hear. Don't believe a word they say (but encourage them if they tell you they want to stay in). But don't lose that barrier.

If you are wondering, yes, that barrier got broken down more then once with me. I'm a rookie drill sergeant still learning the trade. In my mind, i should have never had that much alone time with the SLLCs (you can't even smoke 'em), they should be left to seasoned drill sergeants who can see past the BS. But I learned some valuable lessons from them. I will never let that happen again.

I still don't know *who* this private is, so I think this pic is safe.
You want to know what breaks down the barrier more then anything? Being the unit photographer. Now, granted, I loved doing this, because it gave me an excuse to go out with the Joes and get involved with their training when otherwise I would have been stuck in the Supply Room. And I'm a camera whore. I got some great shots of the privates this cycle, and I was known as the one with the camera.

But if anything, you want to pass the camera around to different people so that only one person isn't associated with it. However, I had my nice DSLR camera that I didn't want just anybody to handle. I got some fantastic shots with it.

And every private in the freakin' troop will ask you what those pictures are for. You tell them they are for your own twisted amusement, I was half tempted to run them through Photoshop and mess with a few but refrained. But as Supply Sergeant that wanted to get out there and push Joe, this was kind of my saving grace, I got in there because I was taking pictures for the Commander.

But I don't think I'll ever be the primary photographer again, unless I'm serving in a support role, because it leads to problems. I won't mind taking pictures from time to time, like the gas chamber is a personal favorite, but I don't want to be seen as the Drill Sergeant with the camera, so Privates come up to me later asking how they can get copies of the pictures.

I threw them on a website and let whoever wants them take them.


Most thankless job ever. (actually, scratch that, Preventive Medicine is the most thankless job ever.) I got moments of gratification when i was able to figure something out and get what we needed, when i got that contact and found something that was asked for. But what you are known for is the stuff you CAN'T get.

Like *%&# printers. And Cleaning Supplies. When you are starting a unit from scratch, you tend to be missing essentials.

One of the reasons why I hated my job so much is because it often pitted me against the Drill Sergeants, who are supposed to be MY battle buddies. I was supposed to be one of them. I wasn't, I was support. I was treated like an outsider, so I became an outsider trying to get them what they needed because they were the ones in the spotlight.

I had a few grumbling about me and my lack of getting things needed. I had a few privates probably grumbling as well. I did as best as I could, and I was told by my command that I did a damn fine job considering what I had to work with and that I had never done this before, and the fact that I wanted to go on a homicidal rampage half the time.

But I'll tell you this. I was more willing to help the Drill Sergeants that kissed my butt and acknowledged the fact that I was working like a dog then the ones that bitched about me. And I hooked them up when i could. When you are stuck with limited supplies and you got four platoons, you start helping certain platoons more often.

So when I'm on the trail, I'll know if I need anything, I need to kiss that Supply Sergeant's butt. Good thing I now speak logistics. And if I go back to Knox, well, I have some valuable skills as a Drill Sergeant. There were some upsides to this job after all.


It is a fact of life, you are not going to get along with everybody. One important thing I will note is often times it is the other Drill Sergeants you won't get along with.

It is vital that the Privates don't know that you don't get along. I tried to hide my disgruntlement toward my fellow Drill Sergeants from the Privates as much as I could, but sometimes it was a little obvious. Damn. That was my fault. But I'll admit it, some of them flat out pissed me off (see above).

Still, even if you don't get along with some of them, you need to find some common ground with others, because your battle buddies are your support. You need them, because when you are in cycle, you don't ever have time off to be with your friends and your family. The unit is your family, for nine weeks. For the first five weeks of the cycle, I felt it was me against them. I started to patch things up toward the end and I feel like I left with no bad feelings towards most of my battle buddies, but I wish I didn't have that. I wished I had that support network from the start. Being in the orderly room with a couple guys who bitched about the drill sergeants as well (like I said, kiss your supports' butt, vital I'm telling you) didn't help me build that comradarie either.

You know who I ended up battle buddying with unintentionally? Yeah, that's right. The WRONG people. I am human after all. See Lesson One and Two.

Know your fellow Drill Sergeants. Respect them and their position, even if you don't get along. And NEVER badmouth them to privates, even if they totally screw up and do something stupid. If you ruin their power base, they can do the same thing to you. And that's bad karma for a unit, and the privates suffer in the end.

When it becomes a case of a Drill Sergeant's word against a Private's, fellow Drill Sergeants should always back up their battle buddies (unless its something stupid, like blatant trainee abuse or a Drill Sergeant sleeping with a private, if you know about it, let that bastard fry or you'll go down with him). Again, Privates will try to let you see their side, and they'll embellish the facts a smidge in their favor. Am i going to take the word of a private who just came in off the street over a disguished NCO with a long career serving in the Army?

remember, all Privates are Dirtbags. Until they prove to you otherwise by being an outstanding soldier that gives you everything they got, keep this mentality.


This is a lesson you learn from observation. I never smoked privates, I would yell at them for calling me ma'am, true, but I didn't smoke them. I was the supply sergeant after all. I got the impression early that I wasn't allowed to smoke 'em.

Some units smoke privates for whatever reason they want, and more often then not, they give you no reason. You always give the privates a reason why you are smokin' the snot out of them. For the first three weeks, those reasons are mundane and stupid yes, but you give them a reason. As the cycle progresses, don't smoke 'em for stupid stuff, but smoke 'em when they genuinely screw up.

The reason for this? If you have nightly smoke sessions for your privates, they get the mentality of 'well, they are going to smoke us anyway,' and they start doing stuff they shouldn't, especially in the tail end of white and blue phase. Soldiers under the threat of being smoked for screwing up behave better then the ones who get smoked for no reason at all.

I am a firm believer of a system of rewards and punishments as a drill sergeant. If they do something bad, punish the crap out of them. But when they excel, you reward them. When you reward good behavior, it encourages it, and this is especially true with Privates. And rewards can be as simple as a five minute phone call, and extra thirty minutes of personal time, listening to a little music while cleaning weapons, to turning your back on a care package with the subtle intent that it's contents better be gone when you return. Rewards can be simple in the BCT environment, because those privates appreciate the simple stuff. You don't realize how good you have it until you lose your freedoms, and you have no freedoms in BCT. When your platoon comes together as a unit and impresses the hell out of you during a training exercise, let them know that they did good. Give 'em a little something so they keep doing good.

But they are still dirtbags. Never forget it. And when they screw up, you smoke the crap out of those bastards.


There is no job in the army outside of the combat zone more stressful then that of a drill sergeant. You work from O-Early hundred to bedtime with little sleep, seven days a week, and you can't show a weakness. If you are hurting, you have to suck it up so the Privates don't see. You are the alpha and the omega to those Joes. You are the army to them. They see you as a role model, what they strive to become. They want to emulate you. These privates will remember you for the rest of their lives (everyone remembers their drill sergeants).

No pressure there.

Being under a lot of stress can make life hell at times, so it is important for Drill Sergeants to maintain a sense of humor. And drill sergeants have a sick and twisted sense of humor, which is what makes them drill sergeants. You mess with the privates (but keep it professional), you crack a joke and smoke 'em for laughing at it.

Keep it humorous. Keep that mean streak, don't let your fun mess with your image, but rather let it compliment. Be a hard ass with a dry wit about you. My most effective humor is when I keep it really dry I've noticed. Quote well known movie lines. sing songs from Team America at random moments. Poke fun at the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy when privates do something questionable. Don't outright insult them, (on second thought, do. Just make sure the brass doesn't make note of it) but make little jabs at them from time to time.

And the best way to have fun with the privates is through Cadence Calling. I know some interesting ones. Everyone wonders about the Baby Seals Cadence. It's always popular with the privates. Because its sick and twisted. this is the army, baby! Our primary mission is neutralize the enemy, often by killing them. If you can't hang with that, why in the hell did you join? What did you think we were, the boy scouts?

Keep it fun. Keep it real. Humor is a great stress reliever. And I love marching to cadence. That was one of the things I really wanted to do this summer, and when you are stuck marching sick call, it's more of a 'route step, march' sort of thing. Damn SLLCs.

Yes, some basic lessons I learned this summer, ones I thought I knew and found out I didn't know enough. I might actually be able to utilize them next summer. I feel like I learned, and here I am willing and eager to get on the trail. I hope the army recognizes that there is potential in me, even if I'm not the optimum drill sergeant right now. I went through the school, I just want to be given the chance to do the job I was trained to do.

I think what I need most is a mentor who is willing to work with me and show me what I need to do. I actively sought that this summer, the First Sergeant said he would work with me, but when you have this many people in a unit, you need direct supervision for proper mentorship and I didn't have that, I would have if I was in a platoon. But hindsight is 20/20, and indeed, if you make mistakes, its best you learn from them and drive on. None of my mistakes were ones I would lose my hat over, but a lot of them were learning mistakes that a rookie makes.

Looking back now, I think one of my problems is comparing my experiences now to when I was a private going through Basic. The problem then, I was looking at it from a private's point of view, which had me empathizing with the privates. I need to stop looking at basic in B 3-10 and look at it as me being a Drill Sergeant. I'm not a private anymore. And I think that was a key component to when i screwed up this summer.

Now I need to run my butt off and get myself back in shape so i can push Joe next summer. And this time, I'm going to make sure things go right.


Vanity Shots

Every now and then, I make myself look nice and go get some pictures taken. Such was the case today.

Then I take them home and play with them in Photoshop for a while. Photoshop is the best thing ever for messing with pictures.

I love my camera. It is awesome. These action shots, where you jump around like a total goofball, it makes it easy to get the pose because it takes six shots a second. Pure awesomeness.

My sister found this stairwell in town and it is awesome for taking pictures.

And I had my sister highlight my hair. I feel much more refreshed with a much needed hair cut.

I like the somewhat candid feel of this one.

For a long time, I was mistaken for being younger then my age. Now a days, I'm starting to look more my age, which is actually somewhat of a refreshing feeling in some ways and in a lot of other ways, it is just another reminder that I'm that much closer to thirty.

But I don't like to show my age so much around my eyes, which is definitely where I'm starting to show it.

I think I am torn between making my pictures pop with color to having them very subtle. I think it also largely depends on the picture. This is me being a total goofball. Which is why I love it so much.

We found this door a few years back and my sister uses it for pictures with her business. But I love the feel of it, it makes an awesome backdrop for picture taking.

We took a gob, but I think I'll leave it to these for now.


The Taurus Judge

So, I picked up my new gun on Friday.

Saturday we did our annual turkey day range where we took various firearms and familiarized ourselves with them. I only shot a couple, mostly because later I found out I was a little under the weather (also hence why I'm a little late posting about my gun, but going into detail would fall under the TMI department) but I did get plenty of Judge time in.

Yes, just look at me there. I look like I'm about to pass out (and slightly hypnotized by the size of that handgun). I just didn't realize at the taking of this picture how gross I felt until later that night.

So, what do I think about this gun?

Quite frankly, I love it.

Whatever comes out the end of this thing is seriously going to $#@& you up

For one, it is suitably badass. I got it for self defense, and the hope that just looking at the thing would make a person reconsider doing anything to me and perhaps seek out an easier target that is not me. Of course, my goal is to also cause enough damage that a person won't have another opportunity to go after anyone else.


Two, ammo diversity. This things shoots a .45 colt and a .410 . There is about a half dozen different shots for the .410, the one I didn't try is the buckshot because they were sold out. Apparently the Judge is a popular handgun right now, and the buckshot is the preferred way to go. I'll get some later, but for now, I'm actually quite fond of the hollow point slug. Unfortunately, it's a bit on the pricey end, running a buck a round. So a box of 4 shot and .45 colt was used for familiarization purposes, and a couple slugs in a goard to see the effects.

I'm not a handgun person, but for a handgun, I really like the feel of this sucker. To include the grip, which is pretty comfortable in the hand. The kick was surprisingly limited for a .45, though this is probably due to the fact that I'm handling a revolver. But there is some. Still, we put up a few clay pigeons and those things went KaBlooie.

Very satisfying when they shatter.

However, this is definitely a close range hand gun. It's pretty accurate for a .45, and you just have to shoot the thing in the general direction of your target if you are using a .410, though the 4 shot is pretty weak in my opinion.

I need to get a few more goards and try the different kinds of shots, just to see what they do and the affect they have. But goards are, unfortunately, going more out of season the longer we wait. And they do make somewhat pricey targets.

I didn't get a huge opportunity to really get a feel for the different rounds and what they do, so I'll probably be taking it out again here soon for some more familiarization, and perhaps use some paper targets along with it.

And more rounds.

making funny faces at it doesn't help with the intimidation factor

Downsides? Well, maybe this doesn't make the best Zombie defense gun, as it only has five rounds a time. So I'll stick with Chuck as my primary Zombie defense weapon. And because of the style of cartridge, unloading spent .410 rounds isn't as easy as it should be, they just don't just pop out, and the ammo is a little on the expensive side, running between .70 to a buck a round where I got it. But it is not my primary plinking gun, I need to get a .22 pistol for that (awesome for plinking, cheap ammo so all the shooting you want to do without the guilt).

Hoodie + military issue gortex jacket
= not necessarily the most flattering picture I've ever taken.

End Verdict? Hell, I know I wouldn't want to get hit with this thing.


I have a confession to make.

I've read these books.

I have siblings who have read these books and gush over how great they are (well, one in particular, love ya Corinne) and just out of morbid curiousity and the fact that they are a very quick read, I read them.

Actually, I just finished the last book in the series, which makes me wonder, as a person who has a penchant for making up bizarre names, who the hell thought Renesmee was a pretty name? Let me clue you in. It's awful. Plus the character is a major Mary Sue to the point that I was hoping that one of the other characters would kill her in the climax.

Anyway, the books, while not bad, are not tremondously great, as the main character Bella is completely clueless and lacks any and all common sense. I never empathised with her, I think I am incapable of seeing her point of view because it lacks all logic and I am a very logical person most of the time, hence why I think I've never been in love. I did like the alternate version of the original book of Twilight from Edward's Point of view where he wants to kill her, for some reason, I found that particular story more fascinating then the original version, mostly because I think I enjoy tortured characters. Don't ask me why.

Regardless, somebody who wishes to remain anonymous asked me if I wanted to go see the movie version *hey, they were paying* and against my better judgment, I went.

After hearing about it, we went in with low expectations, as I have heard many people were disappointed with the movie (Every time I go to church, I run into at least a handful of people talking about this series and how great it is). Going in with low expectations actually made it half way bearable because it exceeded in that area. While not bad though, at times I was wondering if I could bare the over drawn dramatization and how absolutely unemotional the characters were. Bella, our protaganist, lacks any emotion except for an overbearing dryness and what is supposed to be an over agonizing passion for one another comes off as completely irrational and a little bit on the creep scale. Plus, the supporting characters that go to Bella's school are almost hyperactive while Bella comes off as EMO.

When Edward mentions that he's been coming into Bella's bedroom for the last couple months to watch her sleep, I looked at my movie watching companion and we both muttered 'creepy' to each other.

And could we please get a few more arial shots of them up in the tree? I don't think we got the hint enough. They are up in a tree making lovey dovey eyes at each other. Please, emphasize this some more. I think you missed a couple angles.

So, the Twilight Phenomenom somewhat skipped over me, (yes, I was quite into the Potter Books, and still maintain that fandom) even though I match the demographic quite well for its fanbase.

But I'll probably watch the next book to see how they work the character of Jacob, who I actually kind of like Bella when she's with him.

Anyway, I'll end on this. this is actually somewhat enjoyable to watch.



Things have been somewhat quiet on the blog front. Its the holiday season, so the family is in town and we are all hanging out over at the Parent's house. I took my Rock Band 2 game on Xbox and got everyone (but my dad) addicted. He loves it when I do that.

I finished at least the 50,000 words of my NanoWrimo novel, enough to say I completed the task, even if the novel is not done and I have to take a break from it for a while. I tend to do that every now and then. Move onto another one, work on it for a time. Come back. That's how I write.

Fancy I haven't ever finished anything.

Meanwhile, I have not been following anything worldly over the last few days. I just have been busy enjoying the company of my family and writing. And unlocking a lot of songs on Rock Band.

I really do need to work on that job thing. Good thing the economy is shot and hiring is kind of at a stand still right now, it gives me an excuse to not look right away. I guess. I know, a sorry excuse if there ever was one, but I really am just enjoying the chill factor right now, where I just want to sit back and enjoy things for now.

Anyway, we're doing our holiday Shoot Out this weekend, the boys in the family (and me) go out and fire our firearms, plinking for fun. I get my Judge in time to try it out. I don't think we'll do a lot of plinking with it, more of a familiarization shoot. The ammo for it get's to expensive to just take it out to go blow about fifty rounds shooting at pumpkins.


Obama Worship

So I'm finding this trend of Obama Worship rather disturbing.

See, it's one thing to be proud of your president and all of that. If you think the guy is great, awesome for you.

But I wonder, were schools named after JFK while he was still in office?

There was also talk of making a national holiday in honor of 'The One'.

Should we put up giant posters and erect massive statues in his honor while we are at it?

I don't want to say it, but usually, in the US of A, when we honor a President with monuments and statues, libraries and schools named in their honor, you do it after they served their time as president. After they have proved that they are a President worth celebrating.

Barack Obama has not even been inaugurated yet and people want to bow down and worship him.

If anything, this rings truer to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il then Abraham Lincoln and FDR.

If we want to create a holiday in Barack Obama's name, do it AFTER he's served his time as President and proved to be a successful President. Not before he's been sworn in on account of Hope and Change. Because if he proves to be a huge disaster and the Change he brings isn't the kind we hoped for, I think a few people will be regretting naming their schools after him.

People talk about the Hubris of Barack Obama, this certainly adds to his enormous ego.