"Not the victory but the action. Not the goal but the game.
In the deed the glory."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Posting by Email

Okay, so I figured out how to post by email, so that will help out some. The only negative is that I can't do links or upload pictures via email, because in addition to blocking our blogs, they also locked down Outlook so we can't send or receive email in HTML, only in plain text. I'll make the trip down the MWR center for those types of posts. I have one in the works on our newest hobby/time killer, RC helicopters, and also some pictures of the little guy that I think you'll like.

Also I can't respond to any comments by email either, but I do have it set up now so I get any new comments emailed to me. So keep the comments coming! It always puts a smile on my face to know that someone is reading what I write. Have a great week.

Marathon Update - Weeks 3 and 4

Still no luck on getting our blogs unblocked, so I'm stuck using the MWR again. Here are weeks 3 and 4 of my training for a marathon TBD at a later day.

Week 3 of 18, planned/actual:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3 / 0
Wednesday - 5 / 0
Thursday - 3 / 5 @ 8:57
Friday - off / 5 @ 8:57
Saturday - 5 / 5 @ 8:57
Sunday - 6 / 6 @ 9:59

Total - 22 / 21

I had some scheduling conflicts early in the week so I ended up having to reshuffle things a bit. Nothing else remarkable, the decreased mileage was nice though.

Week 4 of 18, planned/actual:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3 / 3 @ 8:57
Wednesday - 6 / 0
Thursday - 3 / 6 @ 9:44
Friday - off / 3.5 @ 8:45
Saturday - 6 / 6 @ 8:13
Sunday - 11 / 11 @ 9:22

Total - 29 / 29.5

The first big week turned out pretty well. I missed Wednesday due to a conflict (laziness) so I pushed the rest of the week back. The 11 miler was tough, partially because I ran 4 days in a row think. The good news is that on Friday I started running outside again. I even had some company, 1LT Shiley, the executive officer (XO) for HHT joined me Friday and Saturday, and SSG Johnson came out for the first lap on Sunday. It is great having someone to run with me as we can't wear headphones outside due to safety rules. The only "negative" (in quotes because I'm not sure it is bad) is that it is much easier to regulate your pace on the dreadmill. I am not supposed to be doing many runs above my target marathon pace (9:00), but it just seems too slow when I'm outside. I had planned on doing Sunday's long run at 10:00 but struggled to go that slow, if that makes any sense.

Plan for Week 5 of 18:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3
Wednesday - 6
Thursday - 3
Friday - off
Saturday - 6
Sunday - 12

Total - 30

First 30 mile week, I'm nervous for the 12 miler due primarily to the boredom factor. I run a 4 mile loop so that means 3 laps of the same colorless scenery. Not fun. At all. If anyone has any leads on some flesh colored or clear ear buds that I could buy so I could take some tunes with me let me know. I scoured the internet to no avail. I of course would only wear one of them so I could still hear and be safe at the same time.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fun with Needles

The Army can be a funny place sometimes. Exhibit A: this week we had mandatory Combat Lifesaver (CLS) re-certification. CLS is a 40 hour class that you can take that is kind of a middle ground between the medical skills you learn in basic training and then the full fledged medic course. To me, re-certification implies that you have the original certification and are just brushing up on your skills. Not so fast my friend. This is the Army where normal rules of common sense don't always apply. Everyone would take the re-cert.

SSG Johnson and I were somewhat perturbed as we were the only soldiers in the S1 that didn't have the original class. It really wouldn't be a big deal, but the capstone of the class involved giving (and getting) an IV. I for one didn't really want to jab a needle into one of buddies unless it was actually necessary. After much arguing and complaining, we resigned ourselves to our fate and went to the class with a heavy heart.

After a few hours of training on various topics like rescue breathing, tourniquets, and CPR, we were on to the IV. We got 5 minutes of training via an example stick and were released to do it on our own. SSG Johnson ordered me to go first. I actually wasn't all that nervous, partly due to the medic that was helping me out.

Prepping the site.

In goes the needle.


One thumb up, one thumb down.

All in all, it went pretty well. I got the needle in on the first try without having to dig around. We then switched spots and it was my turn. SSG Johnson did a fine job, it was actually much better then most of the times I've been stuck to donate blood, party because we were probably more careful then a nurse that does it 100 times a day.

The posting on the blog may be a little sporadic here. The post computer nazis blocked our blogs again on the gov't network. This has happened twice before and they have relented in the face of much crying from the joes. However it has been almost a week now and no signs of them turning us back on. I am trying to turn on the post by email feature so that should help some.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

KOLN, Dumbest Story of the Day, Most Inspiring Story of the Day/Week/Year

My interview is posted on KOLN's web site. Our filter doesn't let us view any streaming video so I haven't seen it yet, but the word on the street is that it turned out well. The only correction was that at one time they mentioned my wife and daughter. Benjamin didn't take offense though, he is confident in his masculinity. Thanks again KOLN! They obviously don't have to do this, and my understanding is that they pick up a significant portion of the cost to do the satellite feed, so that is outstanding as we like to say in the military.

Here is the first line of the dumbest story I've seen in some time: NEW YORK - ABC news anchor Chris Cuomo was unhurt Tuesday after the convoy of military police he was riding with in Iraq was struck by a roadside bomb. And this is news why? Any idea how many of our Humvees get hit by IEDs every day and soldiers Charlie Mike (aka continue mission)? You can rest assured it is a lot. I think if we put out a news story each time this happened we'd run out of room on the internet. I'm sure that Chris didn't write the story and I imagine he is probably embarrassed that it got published, but who knows. I will say this though, the new uparmor kits on the Humvees are saving lives. You should see the new doors, I'll see if it is okay to post some pictures of them on here. The armor level of the trucks our guys rely on to stay alive has drastically improved in the 10 months we've been here. When you hear or BDE commander say that we are the best equipped, best trained force in history I don't think he is exaggerating. For a National Guard Brigade Combat Team, I can't imagine there is much stuff out there that we don't already have.

This is the most moving story I've read in quite a while. If you can read this without something getting in your eye, well, there may be something wrong with you. It is about a Minnesota soldier that lost both of his legs and 2 buddies in an IED blast. Here are some quotes:

"President Bush told me I was a hero," said Kriesel, a 2000 graduate of White Bear Lake High School. "Can you imagine that? He put his arm around my wife. Laura Bush was there. It was surreal. I don't think of myself as a hero. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's all.

"So this is my life right now. My wife is here all the time, and that's great. And I have my TV schedule down. My favorite time is when Seinfeld is on. Then I relax. Actually, any day I don't have surgeries, I just relax.

"Three-quarters of my days are good days, if not great days. I'm here. God put me here. He was looking out for me."

Wow. And, to top it all off, SGT Kriesel's wife has a story of her own. Her employer went well beyond any requirement or policy to support her during this time. I got the following press release in my inbox tonight, and I can't find it anywhere on the Web so I'm going to post the whole thing. The highlights are that her boss worked to get her a passport in 2 days, arranged for her to fly to Germany and back, and then members of her company donated over 7 months of paid vacation time so she could be home with her husband. They've raised thousands of dollars through donations and are now working on getting enough money to buy them a new house to accommodate SGT Kriesel's injuries. Unbelievable. I know it is long, but it is worth your time.

America Supports You: 'Eagle' Flies to Military Family's Aid
By Samantha L. Quigley - American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2007 – Injured in Iraq, Katie Kriesel's husband is facing a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. But her employer, Eagle Global Logistics, is making sure she'll get to stay by his side.

On Dec. 3, Katie, of Cottage Grove, Minn., got the call deployed servicemembers' spouses dread. Her husband, Minnesota Army National Guardsman Sgt. John Kriesel, had been seriously injured by a roadside bomb south of Fallujah the day before. "He lost both of his legs -- one above the knee and one below," Katie said. "He had a shattered pelvis and sacrum (a bone at the base of the spine) that they've had to fuse to his lower back, and then he had both bones in his left forearm broken in several places, (a) fractured right wrist and then some internal injuries to his abdomen." He arrived at Walter Reed on Dec. 8, and though he's only a third of the way through 12 weeks of mandatory bed rest after back surgery, Katie said he's doing very well.

Thanks to her employer, Katie is doing well, too. When she received that fateful call, she turned to her friend, Nancy Matthews, for moral support. Matthews also happens to be Katie's supervisor and knew Katie would need more than moral support. "I went over to her house that afternoon and just started doing stuff and playing with the kids until we could get some more news," Matthews said. Soon, John's condition stabilized and he was moved from Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. With two challenges confronting Katie - she had no passport and needed a flight to Germany - Matthews sprung into action. "I started pulling stuff off the Web on applications for passports, and then put in motion some of my colleagues in Chicago," Matthews said.

Eagle Global Logistics is in the cargo business. "As soon as I got in on Monday morning, I started talking to the (vice presidents) at Northwest Airlines that I know that work with cargo ... asking them if there was any way that they could get Katie and her mother over to Germany as quickly as possible." Soon, a Chicago colleague was walking Katie's application through the regional passport office. She was able to pick it up at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a couple of hours before her 9:30 p.m. flight departed Dec. 4.

The flight, compliments of Matthews' efforts and airline industry connections, found Katie and her mother flying first class. "My employer actually got me Northwest vouchers to go to Germany, and all I had to pay was the tax on them," Katie said. She was to return to the states with her husband via military medical transport, but was bumped at the last minute when additional wounded servicemembers making the flight back required that more medical personnel be aboard. Distressed that she wouldn't be arriving at Walter Reed with her husband, Katie again turned to her boss for moral support. Again, she got much more than that.

Matthews arranged return transportation with Northwest for Katie, her mother and a military escort who had traveled to Germany with them. The support didn't stop with coordinating travel, though. Matthews knew this wasn't going to be a short-lived ordeal, so she turned to her 150 employees. "We're all a family here, even though we aren't related, and they knew John was over there," she said. "We told them that Katie was going over there and that we were going to try and do everything we could to help." In the first four hours, $2,200 was collected, Matthew said.

Perhaps more valuable than the funds, which Katie said grew to tens of thousands of dollars, is time to spend with her husband while he recuperates. John had been home for two weeks of leave in October, and Katie used two of her three weeks of vacation at the same time. "They set up a way for people all over the company, worldwide, to be able to donate vacation time to me," Katie said. "I have seven months of paid vacation time that people have donated, and it just keeps coming in."

So does the support from Eagle Global Logistics offices worldwide. They have given both financial support and paid vacation time, and the Chicago office took care of Christmas for the Kriesels' boys, Brody, 4, and Elijah, 5, so the family could celebrate the holiday in John's room. "They're in it for the long haul, and that's just so amazing to me," Katie said. "The support just continues and doesn't lessen. If anything, it grows, and that, to me, is just completely overwhelming."

Indeed, the support does continue to grow. Matthews said the company is planning a fundraiser for the Kriesel family in late spring. The hope is John will be able to take convalescent leave and attend so he can thank everyone for their support. Though John is very positive, he does have bad days, his wife said. To help both John and Katie battle the occasional blues, the company has created a distraction. "We are desperately trying to get enough money that we can build them a new house that can accommodate John's injuries," she said. "When John has had his really bad days and he's cried about having to sell their house, ... (we say), 'OK John, I'm sending you a plan book. I want you to pick out your perfect house.'"

Though Eagle Global Logistics has never had another employee encounter such catastrophic circumstances, Katie and John's situation was a wake-up call, Matthews said. The company now has created a corporate fund to assist other employees who encounter a similar situation. "If a corporation, for instance, wants to donate tax-free funds, they can donate it through this account that Eagle is creating," she said. "They can designate it just for John and Katie, and then if someone else has a tragedy of this magnitude ... other people can apply for aid."

While the level of support coming from Eagle Global Logistics and its employees seems phenomenal, Matthews said she isn't a bit surprised. "We all just told John we would take care of Katie while he was gone - Katie and the kids - and we did," she said. Katie, overwhelmed by the outpouring, said the value of the support is much greater than its monetary value. "I will never look for another job, ever in my whole life. I mean that very honestly," she said. "I will be with that company forever, because how would you ever replace that? "You can't put a dollar value on that," she said.

Individual donations to benefit the couple should be made out to the John and/or Katie Kriesel Benefit Fund, and mailed to EGS, Attn: Nancy Matthews, 3169 Dodd Road, Eagan, MN 55121.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

KOLN, Getting Extended

SGT Benes had his story posted on the KOLN website. You can find it here. I am next in line, I taped my interview on Tuesday, and it will air this Sunday, Jan 21st, at 10:00 PM CST on channel 10/11 in Lincoln and other places out west. It will also be posted to the website in about a week, if you click on the link for Beans you will see the other stories linked at the bottom. It was a lot of fun doing it. They also left the satellite feed up when the interview was done, and I got to talk to Erika and Benjamin for almost 2o minutes afterwords. They could see me but I couldn't see them. Benjamin was all over the studio getting into stuff. Erika said the folks in the studio were good sports about it and let him have fun. I was nervous at first but when I heard Brandee's voice on the other side of the satellite that helped put me at ease.

Our extension is official now. Lots of stories on the internet. This one is an op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register. Here are excerpts from a briefing the Brigade Commander, COL Elicerio, did via VTC back in the states. He has a great quote at the end, he said that we'll take care of the troops over here, and you take care of the families back home.

That is the hardest thing for most of us. We are all disappointed that we aren't getting home on time, but there isn't really much we can do about it. So, we'll suck it up an drive on like always. It is our families at home that we all worry about. Most were doing their best just to make it until March, now we are asking them to hold on to July. So, that is weighing heavily on me that Erika and Ben have to go it alone for another 6 months. They have it much harder then we do without a doubt.

Here is the official news release from the Red Bulls, and the news release from the Nebraska Guard. You can do a Google News Search for National Guard Tour Extended and gets lots more if you are an internet kind of mood. We are getting over the initial shock and getting back to work. Right now, the best we can do is hope (which is not a method) that they will get another Brigade spun up quickly and over here to replace us soon. Alternatively, one of the other battalion paralegals thinks that we are going to have a big MWR event in March and Ashton Kutcher is going to jump out of a cake and say that we just got punk'd. I for one would be okay with that!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Marathon Update - Week 2

Well, I'm going to continue on my training plan for the time being, until we have some more concrete information on our pending extension. What I don't want to happen is that I quit training and they tell us the extension was just a big joke and we go home on time. Plus it will give me something to do.

My planned miles for Week 2 of 18 were:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3
Wednesday - 5
Thursday -3
Friday - off
Saturday - 5
Sunday - 9

Total - 25

Here is what I actually ran:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3 @ 8:57 pace
Wednesday - 4 @ 9:00
Thursday -3 @ 8:57
Friday - off
Saturday - 5 @ 8:57
Sunday - 9 @ 10:00

Total - 24

Pretty good week, I shortened the Wednesday run as I was getting tired and didn't want to push it too hard. My biggest struggle so far is getting the pacing right. The experts say that I should be running slower than I am currently to meet my goal, but I haven't been too winded so I'm going to play it by ear. I think as I keep increasing the miles I may find that I have to slow down some during the week.

Here is the plan for this week, Week 3 of 18:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3
Wednesday - 5
Thursday -3
Friday - off
Saturday - 5
Sunday - 6

Total - 22

The schedule I'm on has increases in mileage for 2 weeks in a row followed by a 3rd week of "rest" and slightly decreased mileage. So this week should be a little bit easier. Then week 4 is up to an 11 mile long run and 29 total, so the training really gets going.

Friday, January 12, 2007

5 Stages of Grief

1-Denial-"this can't be happening to me", looking for the former spouse in familiar places, or if it is death, setting the table for the person or acting as if they are still in living there. No crying. Not accepting or even acknowledging the loss.

2-Anger-"why me?", feelings of wanting to fight back or get even with spouse of divorce, for death, anger at the deceased, blaming them for leaving.

3-Bargaining-bargaining often takes place before the loss. Attempting to make deals with the spouse who is leaving, or attempting to make deals with God to stop or change the loss. Begging, wishing, praying for them to come back.

4-Depression-overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity, mourning loss of person as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. Feeling lack of control, feeling numb. Perhaps feeling suicidal.

5-Acceptance-there is a difference between resignation and acceptance. You have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly. Realization that it takes two to make or break a marriage. Realization that the person is gone (in death) that it is not their fault, they didn't leave you on purpose. (even in cases of suicide, often the deceased person, was not in their right frame of mind) Finding the good that can come out of the pain of loss, finding comfort and healing. Our goals turn toward personal growth. Stay with fond memories of person.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

83 Million?

I saw this on the news last night while spending some time with my best friend, the LifeCycle 300. Howard Stern was recently awarded an 83 million dollar bonus for meeting a subscriber goal. This is on top of the 5 year, 500 million dollar contract. The funny thing is that the company is not even making any money. A quick trip to Yahoo Finance shows that the stock was 3.75 on the day Howard signed his contract and was 3.79 yesterday. The first profitable quarter was the company was this last one, 4th quarter of '06.

But, I don't mean to begrudge Howard getting paid. Acutally, in a way I'm impressed that he has been able to make hundreds of millions of dollars talking about sex and flatuence. And swearing. Isn't that the American dream after all?

What I find interesting is that I didn't really hear any outrage over the amount that he is being paid. So, my question to you, my loyal readers, is why are CEOs of American companies subject to media outrage for their pay, while the entertainers aren't?

Here is what five minutes of surfing the 'net turned up:

From, Top Entertainer pay for 2006:

1. Speilberg - 332 million
2. Stern - 302
3. Lucas - 235
4. Winfrey - 225
5. U2 - 100
6. Seinfeld - 100
7. Rolling Stones -90
8. Tiger - 90
9. Dan Brown - 88
10. Bruckheimer - 84
11, JK Rowling - 75
14. Tom Cruise - 67
21. Dr Phil - 45
23. Simon Cowell - 43
24. 50 Cent - 41

Also from, Top CEO Pay:

1. Fairbank (Capital One) - 249 million
2. Semel (Yahoo) - 230
3. Silverman (Cendant) - 139
4. Karatz (KB Home) - 135
5. Fuld (Lehman Bros) - 122
6. Irani (Occidental) - 80
7. Ellison (Oracle) - 75
8. Thompson (Symantec) - 71
9. Crawford (Caremark) - 69
10. Mozolia (Countrywide) - 69
24. Sharer (Amgem) - 34

I honestly wasn't expecting that there would be such a gap. The top 25 CEOs on average make less then their counterparts in the land of entertainment. So where is the outrage? I did a quick Google Search on CEO Pay Congressional Hearings. I checked the first 21 pages and all had relevent hits detailing article sand stories about how outrageous CEO pay must be stopped and Congressional oversight must take place. Or the sky will fall on us all.

I did another Google Search on Entertainer Pay Congressional Hearings. Lots of hits. Zero relevant results. So I tried Celebrity Pay Congressional Hearings. Guess how many relevant? Zippo. Zilch. Nada. I even just looked at Celebrity Pay and couldn't find anything even remotely negative.

I guess I'm missing something. The heads of companies that make the products/services/etc that we buy everyday are demons, money grubbers, and selfish jerks for running profitable companies that provide a livelyhood for millions of Americans. Celebrites that entertain us are just getting paid. Getting theirs. Living the dream.

Why aren't we demanding that Congress that look into why Celebrities are getting paid so much? Seriously, I don't get it. They have a talent that others don't? Agreed, but sucessfully running a company that employs tens of thousands takes a little bit of talent too. Celebrities work harder so they earn it more? Yeah right.

Here is the only reason that I can come up with. We see these people on tv, in the paper, in magazines, on the Internet and the Ebay, and since they are good looking we like them. CEOs are the evil guys in pinstripe suits trying to figure out how to cut pay for their workers so they can get a bigger bonus. Easy target so to speak.

So, I'm going to write Nancy Pelosi and ask her to look into this issue for me. I think we need Congress to get right on this. After all, what problem isn't immediately solved by a little bit of Congressional oversight? I for one want Lucas to have to answer for Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars I.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Marathon Update - Week 1

As promised, this is my weekly post on how my training is going for the Lincoln Marathon.

My planned miles for Week 1 of 18 were:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3
Wednesday - 5
Thursday -3
Friday - off
Saturday - 5
Sunday - 8

Total - 24

The reason I picked the Higdon plan is that it is relatively simple, it doesn't have a lot of different workouts, basically just "normal" pace during the week, and then a long run on Sunday. Other plans have hill workouts, track intervals, etc during the week that although are good for training make it more complicated and therefore easier to screw up. I am going to try to do one of the shorter runs as a speed workout each week, but other than that nothing fancy for me.

I got off to a little bit of slow start, as I stayed up until 0400 on Monday (New Years Day) watching Michigan get worked by USC and was a little run down on Tuesday. So, I skipped Tuesday's run and took a nap instead.

But, the rest of the week went well, here is what I actually ran:

Monday - off
Tuesday - nap time
Wednesday - 5 @ 8:57 pace
Thursday -3.1 @ 7:44
Friday - off
Saturday - 5 @ 8:57
Sunday - 8 @ 9:40

Total - 21.1

Here is the plan for this week, Week 2 of 18:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3
Wednesday - 5
Thursday -3
Friday - off
Saturday - 5
Sunday - 9 (there is a MLK 5k on Sunday so I am figuring out how to work this in, I might do the race and then pull a Forrest Gump and just keep runnin').

Total - 25

Tuesday may be a challenge again this week, as Florida vs The Ohio State University is on at 0400, so we'll be getting up early for that. There is even talk of grilling out some burgers at half time, we'll see how that goes. As always, I'm sure there will be pictures taken and blog posts to follow.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Cotton Bowl Recap

I am a little late getting this story up, but we capped off the 2006 Husker season in fine fashion. We begged and pleaded for the Colonel to let us use his office, and he graciously accepted. It was much better getting the hookup with the couches and the flat screen than watching on the 20 inch TV in our office. Or outside on the patio, it is getting quite chilly at night here. We picked up a few pizzas and some near beer and were on our way. CSM Hall was even nice enough to let us bust out some Husker gear for some good karma as well.

This picture makes me laugh because SFC Kerchal is carrying a case of beer and looks like he is up to something. We keep hoping they will mislabel a case and it will end up not being N/A but those Germans are just too efficient.

The S1 hanging out in style. The beer was a 16 oz bottle which was pretty fun. And tasty.

Lucky was the man. He was one of the few bright spots on offense.

TD Huskers!!! This is the view from the Colonel's desk. Not too shabby.

As you know, the game didn't end up as we would have liked. Did you know that we only had 64 yards or so from the time we scored our second touchdown with 9:00 left in the second quarter until the end of the game? Our coaches did a terrible job making adjustments at the half, which was really too bad as the defense played terrific the entire game. They definitely gave us an opportunity to win. Think how big the Michigan win was last year, this could have been the same sort of springboard for the 2007 campaign. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and we are still on the outside looking in of the nation's elite teams. Oh well, only 70 some days until the Spring Game!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Rockin' and Rollin' at the Machine Gun Range

Every once in a while they let us out of the office to go have some fun and do some real soldier stuff. Saturday we got a late Christmas present: a date with a few thousand rounds and the M240B machine gun. We loaded up in the Humvee and headed out to the Smith Range here on base, named for SFC Paul Smith, the first Medal of Honor winner of this war.

The S1 section getting ready to fire. From left to right: Burnometer, Flecker, Johnson, Kerch, Beans, and me. Have you ever seen a more fearsome group?

SSG Johnson and I were a two man team. He fired first and I was assistant gunner. We fired off the new tripod which was really nice.

Me sending some lead down range.

Back at the ranch, SSG Johnson with his target. The A target was the practice target, the B target was the qualification. Nice shooting, Tex.

Me and my target. This was our first time on this machine gun and I put all but my last 2 rounds on target.

It was definitely a worth while trip, and one of the reasons why I joined the Army initially was to shoot things and blow stuff up. The whole section did really well, in fact I think between SSG Johnson and I we had the best score on the range. It is always good for us Admin guys to show the trigger pullers that we can shoot too. Army Strong!