Monday, June 27, 2005

 

Catch up through Korea trip and Juju's wedding/my leave

I got to korea uneventfully, i got to sit by this really cute hs chick on the flight to mildenhall, then I went to a movie with her family, then a couple days later i caught the shuttle bus down to London, checked in for my flight from london to paris to seoul and got out of the airport for a little while via the tube. I went to big ben and the house of commons and westminster abbey and had fish and chips and a beer at the Red Lion (seen it in a movie before, I think) before I had to go back to the airport for my long flights. The korea trip was awesome, we got to go to a lot of cool places and see cool stuff and eat good food and everywhere we went the koreans treated us like celebrities. There were 400 or so Americans on the trip and we had nice charter buses and a police escort with us everwhere we went so we wouldn't have to stop at stoplights or anthing the whole time. Everywhere we went there were signs and banners "Welcome ATA (american taekwondo association)" and stuff. We went to a couple different temples and monestaries and they all had special things for our entertainment. One place there was a monk that was teaching us how to meditate, another place there was a caligraphy school and they talked a little about caligraphy and most of the places had some sort of musical group perform for us. Lots of drummers and singers and some of the drummers danced around as they performed. Lunch everyday was on our own (or semi on our own) and we had lots of kimchi and gulgobi and dinner every night was banquet-style with different important korean people hosting them (mayors, governors, businessmen, etc) and they had lots of good korean foods. I probably ate $40 worth of sushi and sashimi every night at these, and tried lots of different kimchi's, etc too. I thought when we went that we would be doing more taekwondo workouts than we ended up doing. Every time i've been a captive audience to the masters before we worked out a lot, but other than the tours we didn't walk that much this time. The two taekwondo events were the testing on friday of that week and the tournament on sunday. I had to do my form, spar, and break boards for testing and other than a minor mistake in my form I did well, broke my boards on my first attempt (first time i've broken a board in like 5 years... i would have liked to have gotten a chance to practice, but oh well. :) ) and I have received official word that i passed my testing. now i just have to finish up the midterms i was supposed to have been doing over the last 4 years and i will be a 4th degree. the tournament was sunday and we had schedules ahead of time which is always nice so I know when to be ready to go. The bad thing was that dad and I competed at the same time across the room from each other so we couldnt watch/cheer/coach each other and our camerawoman couldnt watch us both at the same time. anyway, my ring was 12 people, and 6 of them were on the world demonstration team, i got second to last on my form. :P they all had awesome forms and mine is never very good, so i really didnt feel too bad about that. sparring is where i am a little better, and i fought a guy from paraguay, a guy from chile, the florida state champion, and the colorado state champion was the one that beat me. i have 2 of those fights on tape. the first fight is the one i broke my thumb in, i dont know how it happened cuz i didnt notice the injury until between rounds and just thought it was jammed. i had a guy next to me try to pop it a couple times between fights and went on about my business. by the time i got my trophy at the end i couldnt hold it in my left hand (getting trophies is about like an af award, take it with your left as you shake hands with your right.... we just bow instead of saluting). this was sunday and i didnt get any ice or to see a doctor until tuesday. monday and tuesday around my xrays and other hospital business i got my suit tailored and bought a leather jacket and your turtle and other souvenirs. I mps'd my tkd gear and some other stuff back to myself so i wouldnt have to carry it since i knew i was going to be one-handed for the trip, etc. i bought a blue kimono for jacqueline. on wed morning of the second week i started my homeward travels but the adventure wasnt over yet. the doc said on tuesday that i was going to need surgery when i got home and i knew i wouldnt be able to get surgery on island and started making plans to stay at lakenheath hospital for an extra week instead of coming home and going back a week later. the yongsan army hospital in seoul is where i got my xrays and first plaster splint for the trip and 800 mg ibuprofens. the flight from seoul to paris was long, and between the arrival gate and my departure gate in the paris airport i had to go through a security checkpoint, where i put my wallet in the tray (i carry coins in my wallet and have to x-ray it so i dont beep) and didnt pick it up on the other side. it would have been too simple of a trip home with a military id and money, etc.... i realized my mistake when i got to london and the customs guy asked for my mil id instead of my passport. within a half hour i had talked to the person that had my wallet, but it would be 6 days later before i actually received my wallet. (i guess it is a blessing that i got it back at all, and with stuff still in it, but it was frustrating taking that long to get it back after i knew exactly where it was and stuff). i spent about 30 hours in the london airport, making phone calls every half hour to try to get through to someone who spoke english at the paris airport. i felt like tom hanks in terminal trying to communicate and find out how to get my wallet back with the french people all claiming to have no responsibility for delivering it and none of them having any problem solving abilities or caring enough about an american to help me out. i think possibly the most frustrated i've ever been in my entire life was when i was on the phone with a french lady who was so polite and "helpful" but thought that it would be impossible for me to ever get my wallet back. In her little french accent (which might have been sexy if she wasnt so dumb) she kept saying "its impossible" and i, in my nicest voice, said "look, this is how simple this is... you have my wallet in your hand, right? there is a flight to london heathrow leaving in an hour and 15 min from ## terminal. take my wallet and a piece of paper with "Robert Faith" written on it to that flight. give my wallet to one of the flight attendants and i'll meet her when she gets here. and while you're at it, give it to the prettiest single flight attendant and i'll buy her dinner." and her answer was "this is impossible, sir. we dont do that. we never do that." i asked "has anyone else ever asked?" but whatever.... finally got ahold of someone that spoke good enough english to tell me the name of a company that fedex's lost and found stuff to people and next-day'd it to myself... only then i had to deal with the british fedex people who were almost as dumb. 3 days later my 'next day" package got to me... but again, on the bright side it did have all my money and id's in it still. i did finally leave the airport after 30 hours of these phone calls... between arguing about giving it to a flight attendant possibly being illegal but definitely not impossible and talking to the fedex company... i talked the guy that drives the shuttle bus to rafl into letting me on with passport and orders since my id was lost. i was able to get my credit card number from the usaa bank website to pay for my lodging and my mom wired me some money so i could eat a little each day. i got in to see the doc (also difficult without a mil id) and schedule surgery and used the hospital phones to continue arguing with the french about the definition of impossible and to call my boss and get orders so i wouldnt be awol and wouldnt have to pay for my medical care, etc. the hospital staffs were awesome and the phone in my room could dial to france and lajes for free... probably something the comm squadron overlooked and should be changed, since my phone bill alone was probably $100 for the week, with being on hold all the time and stuff. i cant even call internationally from my office phone here. anyway, i ended up getting my wallet back, but not in time to do anything fun in england. I got home and except for the fact that my pins wont stay where they are supposed to my hand seems to be healing like it is supposed to, etc.

i was here for a week and a half and finally talked everyone into letting me take a week of leave for the wedding. i got approval to take leave on wed and left saturday and everything worked out perfectly. i got into bwi and got a ride and free room with a friend for saturday night and had an early flight out to chicago on sunday morning. while i was waiting to board i met a couple of ssgts on their way home from baghdad and one of them happened to be on my plane and have a first class ticket. i dont know if she asked or if they offered for her to have someone sit with her but she came back and got me and said i could sit with her up front if i wanted... first class is so nice. haha, i got some free alcohol and decent conversation and tons of leg room... then i had a cadet chauffer pick me up and take me to the wedding, changed into service dress... i was the most decorated person there w/ my 4 ribbons, haha... then when the bride's limo arrived 4 of the women literally ran over and gave me hugs, some wrapped their legs around me and kissed me on the cheek, and neither of those were jacqueline (she knew i normally wouldnt allow pda in uniform and figured i'd get mad if she kissed me). haha, not a bad start to the week. :) haha, and i was buzzing enough from the flight that i didnt even mind having makeup and deoderant all over my jacket from the women. lol the wedding was semi-catholic... she is catholic and he isnt, so it was a very short catholic wedding, but it was very nice. the cadets (and some Lt's with two hands) did a saber arch for the couple on the way out, which is always nice, then after posing for some pictures we headed to the hotel to change for the reception. open bar and a good dj, coupled with lots of old friends and pretty girls made the reception a lot of fun. slept until noon the next day and then went to downtown chicago (actually brandi's apartment on the northside to drop our stuff off) and then we ate lots of asian food that night, then had like 6 little meals the next day... just to get my chicago food in while i was there. mom brought john (lil bro) up to see us and we went to the zoo after breakfast at my favorite studying diner, then went to uno's pizza and chipotle and chicago rib house and poncho's (fav mexican restaurant) and then headed home. jacqueline came home with me until thursday, then she took the train home and i had a few days to make sure i saw all of my other girls and piss off their boyfriends, etc before i left. thats always fun. i did get out of lawrenceville without getting into a single fight... never something i bet on happening.
oh, and going back to between my tdy and my leave... i got picked to be the lajes poc for a group of wvang DV's with a week notice and General Foglesong came and that was kinda hectic. It went well, we had breakfast at the club, then catered lunch at fiddlers then went off base for a tour. one group went to praia shopping and then to the fort and then dinner at terceira mar (pink hotel) and the other group went to the fort, then the museum in angra, then dinner at the hotel. good times. got beat up a little about making one fairly big, very obvious mistake. haha, i left three of the DV's in their rooms when the rest of us went to lunch. they called and we got them picked up but as they came in they ran right into the General...

Monday, March 14, 2005

 

February and half of March

Damn I suck at this.... Anyway, I am still the CORONET Liaison Officer here at Lajes, working my ass off but loving it. I have now taken care of 126 aircrew in 77 different fighter/attack aircraft and over 300 enlisted maintenance personnel on their way through Lajes Field to or from the global war on terror. I cant go into details on when they were here or where they were going, not that I would remember anyway, my days all become a big blur doing this job because its not uncommon for me to sit here kinda bored on weekdays and then work 16-20 hours a day on weekends. Then when you factor in the fact that when I am not working but have aircraft here on the ground I am hanging out listening to war stories, etc, with the fighter pilots it is easy to see how I forget whether I am coming or going sometimes. I can tell you that I have worked with 12 F-16's, 26 A-10's, 9 EA6B's, and 30 F-18's. That all adds up to a lot of dead badguys, some in Afghanistan and some in Iraq. If anyone is interested, one of my last groups, the Gator's from the USMC Reserve at Dobbins Air Force Base, in Georgia, has this awesome website about their deployment. http://gatorsiniraq.com has some pics of Lajes, including a good one of most of their squadron in Fiddler's Green, where I host the burger burns for these movements right after they land.

I should have one or two more movements before I have to go back to the comm squadron and get back to my real job. I should have a good job down there too, one that won't get too boring and will be another broad, special job. I am going to be working on preparing the squadron for the inspection coming up around the time I will be leaving Lajes and it should be another good, very broad ranging job for me, which is one of the reasons I love being the C-LO. I dont think I will be assigned to any one comm flight, but will get to move around to the places that need me the most, learn lots of stuff real quick, come up with a way to quickly fix the problems, and move on to the next problem. The more problems I get fixed, the better the whole base will do on the inspection, the better I will look, and the more the commander will like me. :)

On an even happier note, between when I finish up CLO'ing and when I get back to comm'ing I will be going to Korea for 2 weeks, Permissive TDY. That basically means that I got my commander and the USAF to approve for me to go on leave for 2 weeks and I wont get charged leave! See, I tricked them into thinking I am really good at Taekwondo and got them to approve an International Invitational Taekwondo Tournament, in Geongju City, Korea as an approved sporting event. I will be testing for my 4th degree and competing in the tournament. I am training and I found some sparring partners, so we'll see if I can't do well enough to impress the Air Force into letting me do this again sometime ;). As an added bonus to getting to travel around the world without burning leave and earning my 4th degree black belt, I will get to see my dad. I will also get some good korean food, pick up some good english rum on my way back through london, and I will have 2-3 more countries on my list of places I've been. And all for free! My family's taekwondo school will be picking up the tab, partially because I and my family are cool like that and partially as a birthday present from my parents. :) I'm pretty pumped about that, hopefully I'll do well enough I wont be completely embarrassed to write the after-action report for the HQ USAFSVA (sports guy... the USAF has a program for "world class athletes" in certain sports, taekwondo isnt one of them, but they are the ones that approved for me to go TDY and they want to know how I do to see if they should brag about me or do a story about me or anything like that). Anyway, thats an update on my life! Sorry its been so long. I'll hopefully write more soon.

In other news,

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

 

January

I'm really gonna try to update more than once a month.... really.

Well, the first 2 weeks of January I spent being a tourist with jacqueline... ate out a lot, drove around the whole island, keeping the ocean on the left, then drove up through the mountains a few different times... found duck lake, which was one of the most beautiful places i've ever seen... possibly just because of the time i was there, it was all foggy up in the mountains and it had been raining quite a bit so the lake was full and the creek was running pretty quickly, etc. snappy forgot her camera so you'll just have to believe me. At the beginning of the month i was just doing 2 different comm jobs... I like to say the work of a Captain and 2 MSgts... because i was the flight commander (a captain's job) and my flight chief, msgt jacobs and msgt warner (one of my new master sgts in SCX) were both gone....

Then at the end of jacqueline's stay I was supposed to move from the flight commander of SCS to the OIC of implementations in SCX, but instead I volunteered for the CORONET Liaison Officer position and MSgt Jacobs didn't make it back until two weeks late, so I ended up getting to do 3 jobs the last week jacqueline was here (The work of 2 Captains and 2 MSgt's, as the person that did the C-LO job before me was a Captain also). The C-LO job took up the most time, but it was also pretty cool for Jacqueline to get to see some of.... she got to go out on the flightline to see 2 F-16's that broke here for some maintenance, 14 A-10's that were a scheduled mission for my job, and 8 Marine Corps F/A-18D's (shoulda been 12, but that was part of my excitement that I can't tell about), also a scheduled stopover.

i love my current job... i am the wing coronet liaison officer... which basically means i am a volunteer from the wing to work for the OperationSupportSquadron (our version of a fighter maintenance squadron) and plan and coordinate everything involving fighter planes and fighter pilots and fighter maintenance troops, from all services and countries, as they come through lajes. standard things we do are set up their lodging reservations, plan a burger burn for them when they land, set up transportation for the pilots and maintainers to and from lodging, etc, set up their high protein breakfasts and in-flight meals, etc. some cool other things i get to learn how to do are kinda random... i get to drive around the flightline during operations, and if someone needs help i can help them get equipment and stuff... today i martialed a plane... which means that i used hand signals to tell the pilot where to turn and park and stuff while he was taxiing around the ramp, the other day i got to check the oil on an A-10, which meant i got to climb around on top of the A-10 and stuff. and i helped the marines today get some equipment they needed to start their jets... and i briefed at standup (daily afternoon briefing all the squadron commanders and colonels go to to learn what is up with other squadrons, etc) and i get to hang out with the pilots and listen to war stories, etc.

Since Jacqueline left I've had 6 more A-10's going home from Afghanistan, and 5 EA-6B's going to the desert. Each of these missions has a Maj or Lt Col from the Air Operations Squadron at Langley that comes to do all the mission planning and stuff, and I have to take care of him... then each also has a cargo plane, all C-17's so far, full of equipment and maintenance troops that we also take care of, and they all come in with 2-4 KC-10's or KC-135's for gas needs. So, I am basically at 39 fighters, plus 12-16 support aircraft that I have supported going to and from the AOR... think about all the bad guys they scared, burned, flattened, shot, etc. :) Not flying yet, but at least I am supporting the actual war and not just making sure that people get their mail, have pretty pictures, nice user friendly publications, powerpoints, videos, and storyboards that make the Col's look good to other Col's and higher, etc. (Comm Support Flight commander is responsible for all that.... none of which are essential except in that they keep the morale of the base up)

Then the other excitement I have had is that I was told on a Wednesday afternoon that I was deploying.... can't tell ya where I would have been (still might be I guess) going, but I would have had to be in place by the 30th (about 2 weeks after I was told I got to go). So, I started outprocessing to be ready to go.... I got some shots, I got to fire the M-9, qualified expert really easily.... haha, thats my 3rd ribbon. And if I get to go I'll get 2 or 3 for the deployment (being my first deployment I'll get the Expeditionary medal and maybe a Global war on terror to go along with the achievement or commendation I earn) to go with the commendation i'll get when I leave Lajes. But it turns out I probably wont be getting to go... Capt Miley is taking my place... he has to deploy to get selected for Major and, well, I have 10 years before I have to be selected for anything. Nothing is set in stone still... the orders haven't come down and the deployment has been backed up now, so who knows what will happen. I want to deploy once as a real officer before I get picked up for pilot training and lose all leadership responsibility for 10-15 years.... thats how long it will take as a pilot to be responsible for as many people as I am now, and even then I won't really be responsible for as many people as I am now if I play my cards right. :P But I'll get to actually fight for my country and have more fun and all that if I am a pilot instead of a real officer.... so, thats the goal. Then on the other hand I could be a doc and I'd still have no troops working for me but I could save a lot more lives than I do now and have more fun, etc.

I'll probably edit this later, but I gotta post this now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

 

Christmas, etc

Wow, its been forever since I blogged last. I am back from Germany, have been for a while now. My computer got really sick (imagine if you had 20 viruses at once..... throw in 500 bacterial infections (spyware software bacteria?) ) and that is why I haven't blogged. Hmmm, since I've been back.... I got back just in time for the end of the Wing Christmas party, then worked a week then we had our Comm squadron Christmas party. At the squadron christmas party the lieutenants had to do a skit and we decided to lipsync to a boy band song... it was quite funny. we won the skit competition with it, which won us a 3 day pass, I'll spend that sometime in the next few weeks while Jacqueline is here. A lot of the next few weeks was spent working on learning what my new job will be, which i wont start until at least January 10. I've also spent a ton of time at the post office pitching mail and packages getting ready for the Christmas season. On the 18th of Dec, my flight chief left, leaving me in charge of the flight all by myself. Well I'm not really all by myself, I have an awesome flight to help with all problems.... but I am the flight commander. The week before Christmas was nuts. The post office got 5 cargo plane pallets of mail on Monday, 4 on Wed night and 2.5 on Thursday night. We split shifts for Wed and Thursday and depalletized and broke down and wrote up all the packages on the night shifts. I worked from 0730 Wed until 1730, then came back at 2000 until 0600, then again from 1000 until 1730, then I was here at 2200 to discover that the plane was delayed, back at 0000, then back again at 0330 until 0830. Then I got some sleep and came back at 1300 until 1400, then went to the Mission Support Squadron commander's house for Christmas eve dinner with Alani, and Lt Col Ramos (my commander) was there too. That was fun. After dinner we watched the packers/vikings game and then went home and got some sleep. :) I woke up at like 0400 Saturday Christmas day when Aneela messaged me on my computer. I hadn't talked to her forever. Since I was up, I wrote everyone Merry Christmas emails (0500 my time is midnight in Illinois, so I got ya right as it became Christmas. :) ) and then went back to bed to sleep. After my week sleeping was a great way to spend Christmas day, if I'm sleeping happily I won't even notice I'm lonely, ya know? This week is business as usual, except I may be applying for a special duty job (still here at lajes) and that Jacqueline will be here to visit for a few weeks starting tomorrow. She was supposed to be here today but some weather over Newark caused her to miss a connection and there is only one flight here from Lisbon each day, so.... she'll be here tomorrow instead now.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

 

Germany so far

This has definitely been an awesome little TDY. :) TAP, the portuguese airline that will bring some of you to me and brought me from lajes to frankfurt was late, so we got here late, but that is apparently to be expected from TAP. We got to Frankfurt pretty uneventfully. The only thing notable about the trip is the fact that security at Terceira airport is kinda lax. :) I didn't get carded until I was already at Lisbon. We didn't have time to leave the airport in lisbon, which kinda sucked. It was almost long enough to try... a long wait in the airport. When we got to Frankfurt we picked up our rental car. It wasn't that tough to get around the airport or anything. The rental is as good as I expected. It is a manumatic type shifter... can be automatic or clutchless manual. Not a porche, but it did 140 km on the audobon comfortably. :) We've driven 500 km or so already, and I'm gonna have quite a bit of free time to cruise again this afternoon.

I've been having a blast. Tuesday, the first day I was actually here, I had a doner kebap at this thing that I would describe as the German version of a hotdog/gyro stand. It was yummy. :) Then we went to Trier, which is the farthest north outpost of the Roman empire. There are some buildings and things there from as far back as 100 AD. That was very cool and I do have some pictures of Trier. Trier is really close to the border of Luxembourg, so, we went ahead over the mountain into Luxembourg to say we had been there. :)

There arent gonna be enough pictures to make some of you happy......but its not my fault.... on the way to Luxembourg my camera's battery died. After only 50 pictures or so! I have taken 200 in one battery before....I think the bad power on lajes has injured my battery. And, my VOQ (visiting officer's quarters) has only european jacks.... so i havent been able to charge my battery.

But.... I am still gonna tell ya about it! The bad thing about that is that I don't even have a picture of the "welcome to luxembourg" sign. Coming back down the mountain from luxembourg it got dark, so there werent many more photo ops tuesday anyway. :) Tuesday night I went to Maxi's, a german restaurant that was recommended by the lodging person. I had jagerschnitzel. Then I came back to base and went to a christmas market thing by the bx, as well as visiting the bx, commissary, etc. Then i went to get my uniforms ready and stuff ready for the next day.
This is the sweetest part about my 4 day tdy for a 2 day class..... I went to class on wednesday morning, learned a ton about this program thing.... and along about 11 the instructor takes a breath and says "well... thats all I have for you". hahaha, so we went to lunch for like 2 hours, came back and just worked on learning the program and stuff.... until about 2:30 pm or so. then we were free for the day. and he said that Thursday would be even shorter! haha, some people scheduled flights back tonight, so they have to get to frankfurt early tonight. :)
I realized that I had a friend here at ramstein, from asbc (sandy for anyone i was talking to from asbc.... i dont know if she got into my blog or not) and I got ahold of her and she picked me up and took me to a good place to get chocolate and gummies and wine for my souvenir stuff. I had requests for gummies and chocolates from people who had been here before and stuff. She got lost a few times too.... so i have come to the conclusion that these roads are just frustrating period. haha. then she took me to one of her favorite restaurants and i had a different kind of schnizel (i dont remember the name of it....) and then went to her favorite ice cream place. I got a banana split. The only real difference was the syrups.... they were really good though. The presentation was cool too... sandy had this assorted ice creams and fruits thing that was on a plate that looked like a painter's tray thing.... cant think of the word, but the plate thing where real painters (tv painters) mix their paints to make different colors... haha. By the time that was done it was 9 pm or so and time to roll home so sandy could go meet her boyfriend and stuff. She's gonna come hang out again today too, and I'm gonna try to get some power for my camera and go take some pictures of a castle or something of that sort and i'm gonna do some shopping for a computer, tv, and stereo from the big powerzone at vogelweh for myself and I still have some gift shopping to do probably too.... i'll get some more good food and stuff and then we leave bright and early tomorrow for frankfurt. maybe with enough time for another photo stop (if my battery will charge) at a castle or something on the way there. but maybe not too. :) I'll talk to you later and will see how my pictures turn out and post some of them to my flickr, blog, webshots, etc and let you know where I put them. :)

Friday, November 26, 2004

 

Forgot to tell ya

Don't ask me how i forgot this little detail, but I am going to Germany on Monday for the week. I am going to some class on wed and thursday and i come back friday, but I should have some free time and its gonna be exciting. :) remember this island is the farthest east i've been so far. And I will have a rental car there and will be stopping over in lisbon, so who knows what kinds of adventures and trouble i could get into. :) Email any serious requests for things soon. I dont know if i will get to do any shopping and stuff, but who knows.

 

Crud, Thanksgiving, etc

Wow, its been a long time since I've written. Actually, this time its because I have been so busy having fun that i havent had time, instead of before when it was just that I didnt have anything interesting to blog. Lets see, I think the first weekend I haven't blogged about was the weekend of Airman Leadership School graduation. All of you future officers who will actually have leadership positions (cant really think of too many people reading my blog that this actually will apply to, pilots, navs, missileers, and engineers really dont lead anyone) should take the opportunity to go to all graduations like ALS, NCOA, SNCOA, etc. ALS is the PME (professional military education) required to become a staff sgt. one of my postal workers was graduating and it was a blast. first time i have worn my mess dress on active duty.

one of the work highlights of my last month is the fact that i have gotten 3 new troops in my flight. the night of the ALS graduation my videographer got here... she gets to start a completely new shop because there has never been a comm-videography mission here before. the other 2 were postal troops, one active duty and one is a national guard augmentee we have for 2 months (for the holidays). Getting new postal troops is definitely a very good thing. We are up to 70% of our authorized postal manpower.

one of my social highlights of the last month has been playing Crud at the club. (Those who don't know what crud is, skip to the bottom, where i will explain the game, then come back so you will understand a little better) i actually have a job, so i probably dont get to play quite as much as poonie, but i've played 5 times i think in the last month. I have a record of about 20-2. Both losses came against the same team, and both games we lost to just one person on the other team single handedly. he's good. I think the most fun part of the crud i've been playing is the fact that no other Lt's here play. So i've been playing with 3 full colonels, 6 or so lt col's and some majors and captains, and some of the coolest, sharpest comm SNCO's (col silver invited the whole enlisted lounge one night and two of my guys got hooked, especially SMSgt Pate). some of those captains are medical officers, so they commissioned as captains and havent necessarily been in all that long and dont lead any troops, so we'll consider them Lt's as far as their military might goes. ;) anyway, col silver, my group commander, played on my team the first night i played here and i saved his ass from buying drinks 3 games in a row, and ever since i've been on his team everytime he's played i think. it wont be as sneaky next time though. so far i've been playing with new people pretty much every time so noone objected when he named teams and i was always on his team because they didnt know i was a ringer. but between the two of us, we are better than any team here, with exception of one guy, who puts up a pretty good game against me and the col combined. he's a civilian who's been playing on this table for years and isnt going anywhere, so he's had some extra practice.... but he is really good. we have a big enough table in the officer's lounge that we dont cover the side pockets.... and it makes a huge difference playing against him... cuz even if you do everything right and get the ball to die in the middle of the table (and often when you make a dunk in the corner he is quick enough to hit it before it falls) he can often make the touch shot in the side pockets, which is just amazing on this huge table. I find myself wanting to not finish off the other guys on his team just because he is so dangerous under single man rules. we play pretty much every friday night and wednesday of this week we had a tournament in the afternoon. i organized a comm team, we played with myself, a captain, and 3 enlisted guys, 2 of whom had only played once. and, we got stuck against med group (the team with ricky, the guy that is so good) first round and though we actually played really really well we lost. we killed everyone but ricky though, and it was a hard fought game for having 3 enlisted guys who didnt play much before. that was the only game i lost wednesday though, and we played 6 games after the tournament was over and me and col silver, among others, beat ricky's team everytime.

I got invited over to Col Silver's house for thanksgiving dinner. that was a blast. lots of really good food, lots of good company. The silver's are awesome.... and my second favorite family was there too, the martinez's. SMSgt Martinez (chief select) is my squadron superintendant and anita volunteers at the post office 3 days a week. They are both active in the chapel and are singing in the Christmas cantata and because he is a senior NCO in my squadron it seems like they are at everything I am at work wise. I guess I havent written this in my blog yet, but i have told a few of you my theory on senior NCO's and ACE Lt's. haha, they use us interchangeably. (not me recently, because i am doing a Non-Ace Lt job (a captain's job) ) its funny though, the way it actually works out. For the most part, Lt's are smarter and more talented leaders, but the MSgts all have 16-20 years of experience and wisdom and management to make up for any lack of inherent leadership ability. and in practice it actually works out really well for the mission to have those old guys who are organized and are good managers working with us young guys, some of whom (me) arent so well organized and experienced managers, but who know how to make good intelligent decisions and have good ideas about how to do things the easy way, and are inherently more confident in our positions (no matter how humble and respectful you are, when you come straight out of hs to college then commission and bam, you're AN OFFICER and you've been told for 4 + years and everything that you are gonna be the man and stuff, you have that confidence that when you say something its gonna happen and its gonna work) than the nco's who have been wrench turners until recently in their careers. they arent used to being in a position where they have to boss people around a little bit and they cant go turn every wrench themselves to get it done.

Anyway, Lt Col Ramos, my squadron commander, ate at the silvers' also, and i got to hear so much stuff that is normally above my scope...(cuz col silver is her boss) which never hurts. :) i really like col ramos too. a lot of people dont like her, and i dont have my opr yet, so we'll see if i still like her then, but she is funny and i think very personable for a comm officer. :) she must be really good at her job too, cuz she's really young for a lt col and has already had 2 squadron commands and already did air command and staff college and her advanced comm school, which are the 2 requirements for her to get her bird. I got to the silver's about noon, played some baseball on the nintendo 64 with luke (the youngest son, 12), then got put to work.... vacuumed and stirred the gravy and helped set the tables..... hahaha, it was fun. karen (mrs silver) is really cool and if ya havent guessed i like col silver too. then there is tabitha, the 16 year old daughter.... probably the prettiest girl on the island right now and very cool to hang out with and stuff. very mature and intelligent... most of the time ya forget she's that young. dont worry, i'm not gonna do anything dumb, just stating facts. I got to talk to sabrina (the 18 year old daughter) on the phone for 15 minutes or so, that was cool. there was tons of good food... mom/dad's broccoli salad and lucy's noodles would have made it perfect. :) but it was awfully good this way. there were 2 other families there that i didnt know previously, but i recognized them all from the chapel. there were also 2 other single guys (airmen) who work at AFN (american forces network) where tabitha works after school. we ate about 2:30 or so, until about 4. then some of the families with kids rolled out, as did the airmen. then it was just me, the martinez's, col ramos, and the silvers. we sat around talking (too much work talk probably for a proper thanksgiving dinner.....) and then they started a movie (clear and present danger....i've only seen it 100 times, whats 1 more?) and col ramos left and halfway through it a bunch of drunk officers came over and invited us out and we had a few shots of this good polish vodka and jerimiah wheat and went from house to house. the weather was amazing. at 9 at night on thanksgiving night we were wandering around the neighborhood in tshirts. again, i was the only Lt involved (scratch that, jerry ottinger, a 1Lt was at one of the houses we stopped at.... he's one of my better friends, active in the chapel and stuff, but he has 4 kids and therefore isnt the ideal.....hhaha) and there were 2 col's, 4-5 lt col's, etc. well.... i ended up crashing in the silver's extra bed (i was invited before the shots or i wouldnt have taken them....) which is sorta weird and funny, but i wasnt driving anywhere. hahaha, i could have crashed at any of their houses too... its so funny hanging out with guys who have daughters old enough for me to date (and who happen to outrank me by 10-18 years, etc) Well, when i woke up this morning everyone was gone but luke and i came home, replied to emails, wrote this, and now i gotta shower, shave, get in bdu's and go to the airman's medal presentation on base.... CMSAF Murray is here to give it. should be interesting. :) maybe some more crud after that. i'm supposed to help tabitha with her physics sometime for sabrina. hahaha, i'm not looking forward to that decision whenever tabi turns 18! hahahahahahaha some tough decisions are fun though i guess. haha

CRUD: Crud is an international game invented by some canadian pilots who were bored between flying, etc. It uses a pool table, but only 2 balls, the cue ball and the 15 ball (any stripe will do). the story of the invention of the game is that they were bored and the weather wasnt conducive to sports outside and all they had inside was a pool table and alcohol. pool is normally not that exciting to watch and can only really be played by a few people at a time. well, crud is a way to involve 10-12-14 people in the game and its a fast, furious, contact sport that is much more exciting to watch. there are tons of rules and it took us a few hours to learn atthe luke afb o'club and it takes years to "master". Basically there are 2 teams of 5 or so players per team and the players rotate through taking their turn. the object ball (the stipe) starts centered on one end of the table and one person starts at the other end of the table and gets 3 shots to hit the object ball and put it in play (this is harder than it looks, and even harder on a large crud table). if the guy misses three times he loses a life. each player has 3 lives and the winning team is the team with the last man standing. after the object ball is hit, the 1st person on the other team has to grab the cue ball, get to one of the short ends of the table, and hit the target ball before it stops. however the 2nd guy on the other team gets to play some level of defense, depending on what rule set you are playing by during this particular game. we generally do not play 'combat' crud here at lajes, and really noone else does much any more either.... its bad ORM. but there is actually a lot a defender can do without tackling the shooter. :) after that guy hits the object ball the second guy on the second team does the same and so on until the ball is pocketed or it stops. if the ball is pocketed then either the last shooter (previous) or the defender/next shooter loses a life, depending on which one had the best chance to prevent the ball from going in. if the ball stops then whoever is shooting/has the cue ball "in hand" loses a life. playing non-combat rules teaches strategy. combat rules teach violence. both are important to the military member. :) they say that crud teaches all the principles of being a good fighter pilot. the losing team buys the winning team alcoholic beverages. generally the highest ranking member at the club referees the games, and his drinks are free for the duration of the game. never let another crud player catch you reading these rules. :)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

 

My Christmas List....

Apparently I need to get my Christmas orders in early or they won't get here in time.... I am going to list all the things I want/need sometime relatively soon. I know most of the things I am listing are too expensive for most of my readers, no worries. I'm just posting them for the wealthier readers so they have a shot to get me things before I buy them for myself. I will update my listed items are more advanced technologies become available in each field. Remember, most of these things will last me almost forever, so... if mom and dad can't afford them I'll end up getting them for myself. Please communicate amongst yourselves (and honestly, you all know I would rather get more stuff than be surprised, so you can feel free to let me know what you are thinking about getting me and ask for clarification on model numbers, etc) as many of the things I will list will be completely worthless if I don't get some of those near the top (ie, a dvd player won't do me a bit of good without a TV).

1. Large, plasma or LCD tv. Necessities: HDTV capability, good picture, computer input capable, Surround sound capable. Research at internet sites like Cnet.com and check shipping methods as I cannot get FedEx or UPS. Mail by US Postal Service should be the same price as shipping to Illinois, but be careful and research the shipping method, and insure it, I know what happens to the mail on its way here! If I were to order my own tonight, my dream TV is probably http://reviews.cnet.com/4505-6482_7-30916296.html?tag=also. But anything of this quality, computer input and HD capable will do, nothing smaller than 20". Indeed, it wouldn't even need to be plasma.... some LCD projection, etc, also accept computer inputs.

2. Home theater speaker system. My house is small, but this will probably last me a while, so I am ordering for a slightly larger room than I have on purpose and will be able to fill my whole house. This system is pretty close to my dream system: Stereo system
but it is not-in-stock anywhere online right now. This one comes with a DVD player.... if you get one that doesn't then add a decent dvd player.... Progressive scan to use the capabilities of my awesome tv better.

3. Fairly powerful, fast, multimedia computer. Will fill in specs on this later when I know more what I want. But my poor old laptop has about had it. Don't know yet how much I/you will spend on it and still gotta research and stuff to see whether I can go with the apple G5 or if Dell comes out with good christmas deals, etc. This is one reason my TV having computer monitor ability is kinda important... cuz if I go with the apple G5 i wouldn't need to pay for the monitor with it.... (monitors for it cost about the same as the 42" TV i am looking at....) and any other nice computer I get would be able to hook to my tv and stereo system so I can use my computer's music, etc.

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