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

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Interview at Thinking Right, Pre-Marathon Update Week 1 of 16

Jim over at Thinking Right has a new interview up with another deployed soldier. Go check it out if you want to know what soldiers on the ground think about the effort. As always a good read.

Week 1 of 16, (planned/actual):

Monday - off
Tuesday - 4 / 4.5 @ 9:11
Wednesday - 6 / 6 @ 9:00
Thursday - 4 / 4 @ 8:31
Friday - off
Saturday - 6 / 6 @ 9:02
Sunday - 10 / 10.25 @ 8:56
Total - 30 / 30.75

Good week all together. First time over 30 miles in one week which is a good milestone for me. Here is the plan for this week:

Week 2 of 16:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 4
Wednesday - 6
Thursday - 4
Friday - off
Saturday - 6
Sunday - 12
Total - 32

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Small Pleasures, Steaks, Castles

Before you do anything else today, go read this story I found via a link from ROFASix. A few excerpts:

I've said it before - we've forgotten the days when we called for blood. We've forgotten the days when we listened to the President tell us that this would be a long war, would have many fronts, and would not look like any war we'd seen before, and our only response was the rallying cry of that horrible day - "Let's roll."

I have always believed, always known, that no foreign power would destroy my country. I have always known that my country was something amazing - something unique, and possessed of an innate will, an innate strength, which would always make her a fearsome enemy.

Our enemies - all of our enemies - hate what we are. They hate that we continue to snub convention. They hate that we flourish, because it exposes their failures. They hate that we exalt the individual achievement, because they see their own weaknesses. They hate that we do not apologize for greatness, because they see their own inadequacies. They hate our courage, because it exposes their cowardice. They hate those of us who speak plainly, who call terrorists and murderers and cowards what they are, because it exposes the thin veil of their lies.

Half a world away, men and women willingly risk their lives for a country that we would simply give away. To do so is the ultimate betrayal. It is an offense that is unforgiveable.

Go read the rest, it is well worth your time.

A few posts back I mentioned SSG Johnson's new toaster oven. Here is a picture. Not sure what that Goldbond is doing there. This is what passes for excitement for us now a days, making sandwiches and pizzas in our office.

Turkey/bacon/swiss hot out of the oven.

SSG Johnson enjoying his well made sandwich.

Here are the steak(s) I enjoyed for the Super Bowl. They didn't have any big enough to meet my standards for the Super Bowl so I had 2. Who needs sides?

The LSA Anaconda Consolidated Legal Center has a pretty neat paint job that I thought I would share. Right before the 3rd Coscom group left in September, they repainted the t-walls to look like a castle. Every building here is surronded by these cement barriers to help protect from mortar attacks. The paint jobs can be quite cool, but usually they are limited to one or 2 barriers right in front. Some poor joes got to paint the whole thing.

We know call it Castle JAG.

Branch crest.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Marathon Update - ChiTown

I have been debating over what to do about my marathon plans for the last few weeks since we got extended and I won't be home for the Lincoln Marathon. After much internet research, I have settled upon what I think is a solid plan. I am now in training for the2007 Chicago Marathon, where me and 45,000 of my friends will get together for 26.2 miles of fun on October 7. From everything I read, it is a great race for a first timer like myself, and is flat and fast as they like to say. Team Sack still needs a few members, JAg and Ol' Buddy B are both on the fence at this point but I am confident they will make the leap.

Accordingly, I'll be updating my training schedule. I'm still going to use the same program, but will not start my actual training until sometime in June. I am of course going to keep running, but will looking to run more miles throughout the week and not necessarily get really crazy with the long runs until I start the actual program. I would like to get up to 40 miles a week with a long run of 10-12 miles. So I'm working towards that. I am going to continue to post my weekly schedule as it is a great way for me to stay motivated. Also it is an easy post I can do via email.

Week 5 of 18, planned/actual:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3 / 3.25 @ 8:12
Wednesday - 6 / 6.25 @ 8.25
Thursday - 3 / 3 @ 8:22
Friday - off
Saturday - 6 / 6.25 @ 8:26
Sunday - 12 / Super Bowl!
Total - 30 / 18.75

I was really planning on going for a 12 miler on Sunday, but at the time I knew that I wasn't going to be doing Lincoln, we grilled steaks for the Super Bowl, and I had to get up at 0200 to watch the game. I ended up not running so I could catch some sleep.

Week 6 of 18, planned/actual:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 3 / 4 @ 8:15
Wednesday - 5 / off
Thursday - 3 / 5.25 @ 8.38
Friday - off / 3.1 @ 8:11
Saturday - 6 / 5.15 @ 8:45
Sunday - 9 / 10 @ 9:05
Total - 26 / 27.5

I don't remember what happened on Wednesday, but I ended up moving everything back a day. Saturday I looked at the wrong line on my schedule and thought I was only supposed to do 5, so I added an extra mile to Sunday. Good news is I'm down about 5 pounds in the first 6 weeks of training, it would be nice if I keep up that pace for the next few months.

I am going to change my numbering scheme, and this week is Week 1 of 16 of pre-marathon training, which is kind of depressing because we'll still be here when I finish up my pre training. Oh well, what can you do?

Week 1 of 16:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 4
Wednesday - 6
Thursday - 4
Friday - off
Saturday - 6
Sunday - 10
Total - 30

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mr. Mister and His New Best Friend, Online Chaplain

Here is the little guy with the Cookie Monster I got him for Christmas. He likes to try to feed him cookies, and makes a funny sound as he can't say cookie just yet.

Looking sporty at Grandmas house. It looks cold there back home. I don't miss the winter too much, believe it or not. He looks to me like he is getting ready to go for a run.

Try number 2. I had just finished what I thought was a pretty good post and went to post it and it went somewhere into the internet wasteland. I am ready to put a few .223 rounds into this computer, but then I would have give myself an Article 15 and that would get confusing. So, I'm going to try again although I'm sure the second pass won't be quite as good. Sorry. Oh and the spell checker isn't working so I'm sure there are some typos in here as well. You can request a refund if it really bothers you.

Follow this link to find an outstanding blog post from a chaplain in another Battalion within our Brigade. I actually spent a little bit of time with him at Camp Shelby as we were fellow late mobbers and went through the makeup land navigation class together (you can't spell lost with LT by the way). The post is titled One Day Closer to Someday and when I read it, it pretty much describes how I've been feeling of late.

A strange thing happens to a soldier when they have been deployed for as long as we have been. Somewhere along the path this becomes the primary reality. It’ a scary thing and I have a better understanding of soldier atrocities, where soldiers have lost there humanity. I can no longer imagine what it is like to come home after a long day of work. I can no longer imagine what it will be like to sit and watch TV in the evening with my kids, or go for a Sunday drive, or sit down for a meal with my family. Without that imagination I have come up with this simple word of hope, “I am one day closer to someday.”

I don't know when I've felt this way in the past, but 14 months away from home, and my new reality is my daily routine here. Get up, go to work, go to the gym, go for a run, go to dinner, back to the office, call the wife, go to bed. Same uniform, same people, same office, etc. I can't remember when it happened, but I honestly can't grasp what it is like to not be in Iraq. I am no longer a husband-father-son-brother-employee. Those roles have been replaced by soldier-sergeant-legal guy-buddy.

What is odd is that there are days that the only thing real to me is my routine, and everything else is like a distant memory that I reach for but can't quite grasp. My son thinks that I live inside of either the phone, the video camera, or the computer, whichever happens to be in front of him at the time. How could he think otherwise? We've spent 19 of the last 375 days together, and I've now been gone longer then the time I spent with him. And I'm one of the fortunate ones, some left within a month or two of their child being born or even left with a pregnant spouse. I at least had 8 solid months to start building a relationship. Others have children that are old enough to know they are gone, and have to answer the question of "Daddy, when are you coming home?"

Driving a car to work, stopping to get groceries on the way home, mowing the lawn, and doing the dishes are now foreign concepts to me. Although Rik would argue that doing the dishes was a foreign concept before I left, but don't you believe her. I distinctly remember doing them at least twice. Maybe three times. Again, I am one of the lucky ones. I will most likely come home essentially the same person I was before I left, although a few pounds lighter and in far better shape. I've been to a combat zone but I haven't been to war. Soldiers that I serve with will live the rest of the lives with some of the things they've seen and done. Some will come home without all of the parts they came with and others won't come home at all. The worst case of PTSD I'll have is the horrors of Chief yelling over the plywood walls for Kerch and Johnson at least 10 times a day.

The Online Chaplain ends with:
The 34th ID is one day closer to going home. So are we all. The bible says, we are one day closer to streets of gold. We are one day closer to…no more sorrow, no more pain, no more hardship of any kind. Although this life becomes our primary reality, there is another. Although this life’s hardships absorb me and capture me there are other truths. I’m not sure what heaven looks like, but I am sure it will be great. So, hang on tight. Don't let the pain win. You can do it. You will not always feel the way you do today. Remember, “You are one day closer to someday.”

I do know this, today is one day closer to coming home, whatever that day may be. And regardless of the things I miss about home, I still know that God has a plan for my life whether I understand it or not. He is strong enough to get us through our troubled times. Perhaps the most encouraging thought for me is that when I was home in September for leave, it took all of about 2 steps off the tarmac to forget about Iraq, the Army, and remember what it is like to be a husband-father-son-brother and a person with a first name. As soon as I saw my wife and son for the first time, I knew that was exactly where I was meant to me and what I was meant to do: to be the best husband to my wife and the best father to my son that I can be. I trust that it will be the same this summer, and that a year from now I'll be older but wiser, with a few good stories, and the knowledge that I served the cause of freedom and defended our great country.

Gettin' Some Stick Time

I saw an article in one of the magazines I read, Business 2.0, shortly after Christmas that extolled the virtues of the latest toy craze. It was about mini RC helicopters and how they were the most popular toy of 2006. I was instantly intrigued, however, since we were due to head out of town shortly I decided against purchasing one. Well, once we got the news that we were staying, I decided a little break from the mundane would help cure my ills. I went out and purchased one, and even roped in SFC Kerchal and SSG Johnson. LTC Apprich and Chief Regan soon followed suit with a purchase of their own.

Here is the my chopper and controller, going through the pre-flight charge.

This one is a little blurry, but shows my lil' guy up in the air.

Getting ready to launch. They will take off from a flat surface or you can toss them around which is quite fun.

Hovering above Hammer's desk. My heli is drawn towards Hammer's work space, I think because it annoys him greatly.

In flight, out the door of the S1 section.
These helis are a ton of fun, but unfortunately they are only 2 channel (up/down and rotate left/right). You can't really hover or fly back and forth, they are so light that any air current moves them around. The main thing is just keeping them in the air and away from obstacles. They can really take a beating as most flights end up with a crash. I must say that I've become quite addicted, so with the wife's permission I am in the process of upgrading to a 4 channel model that will go forward/back as well. More to follow on that....

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Still No Love

Well, we are still locked out of our blogs and I am beginning to think it is permanent. It is really annoying, because the majority of mil blogs that I read are highly supportive of our effort over here and in my opinion help to counteract some of the bias from the media. I really don’t understand why they don't want us telling us our story and keeping our friends and families up to date on what we are doing. It is especially aggravating for me and the guys in my unit, as we got another 4 months added to our sentence and our blogs were a nice break from the day to day grind that is our 16 month vacation.

To add insult to injury, I went down to the MWR lab to post a story and the server was down, so I can't even go that way. So, I'm pretty frustrated with the whole thing. The MWR route takes at least an hour from start to finish, for a task that used to take about 10 minutes. I'll do my best to keep the posts coming but I've been pretty busy lately and it has hard to find the time to sneak away for an hour. I do most of my posting at night on my off time, and most nights the last thing I want to do is make the hike down the MWR building and wait in line for a computer. I know it isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things and I could have it much worse, but this blog was one of the few things about Iraq that kept my in touch with those of you at home so it is hard to have it taken away without any explanation.

We grilled some steaks tonight in celebration of the Super Bowl. They were pretty tasty. I would put up a picture, but, well you know. SSG Johnson's parents sent him a toaster oven so we had some cheese bread for a side item. We also toasted some sandwiches today and that was a nice change of pace. We are getting up at 0200 to watch the big game. Tomorrow will be a long day for sure. The only negative is no commercials for us. Just an endless loop of the same crappy AFN commercials we have seen 10,000 times.

Theater policy allows for a 4 day pass to Qatar every 6 months in theater. Our Brigade originally didn't allow anyone to take a pass due to manning requirements, but since we got extended we all should get the chance to go. I am slated to make the trip sometime in March. Flecker was supposed to go today and be the guinea pig but the flight got cancelled so he isn't going for another week or so. You can go jet skiing, go shopping in a mall, see the town, and drink 3 real beers a day. Most importantly, you get away from the office for a few days, which will be nice. The guys I work with are great, but after 10 months of seeing them everyday, all day, a break won't be a bad thing. We haven't started fist fighting yet but the verbal sparring has increased.

Can’t really think of anything else exciting to share. I better go try to grab a few hours sleep before the big game. Have a good week.