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Showing posts from September, 2010

Update on Lauren's Broken Finger

Lauren is back at practice and in physical therapy to get complete her healing process. She said it was definitely painful when the doctor and the therapist started bending her finger, but she hopes to be back in the goal before the end of the season.

She also hope to keep her bones inside her body from now on!

Speaking at the Mount Joy Rotary Club

Last Tuesday I was the guest speaker at the Mount Joy Rotary Club.  I had never been to a Rotary meeting before.  I was not surprised the chicken was on the menu or that I could have three desserts if I wanted them.  I was surprised at the opening of the meeting when we sang a song together.  Service clubs like Rotary have existed long enough that singing together is one of their traditions.

We pledged allegiance to the flag, sang the national anthem and sang "Roll, Rotary, Roll."

The audience numbered about 30, mostly men and three women.  I wore my uniform since I was speaking about serving in Iraq.  After I was finished speaking one of the women said, "I saw you come in the building in uniform.  I thought you were too old to be a soldier, but you explained how you got in."

Randy Wolgemuth, the president of the Mount Joy chapter gave me my opening joke.  He asked how long I lived in Lancaster County.  When I said 30 years, he said, "You're a native.&qu…

Article from Tactics about Iraq--from my Day Job

If you want to read it, send me an email and I will send a copy. ngussman@gmail.com

Ran Half Marathon Sunday

On Sunday I ran the ING Philadelphia Half Marathon.  It was great.  I have never run in such a big event. More than 19,000 runners started the 13.1 mile race.  They filled the Ben Franklin Parkway lining up for the start.  I started in group 20 out of 22 groups.  There were roughly 900 runners in each group so I started with 18,000 runners in front of me and about one thousand behind me.

We ran from the the parkway through Center City to the Liberty Bell then looped back to the parkway past Chinatown and the Convention Center.  We then ran down Kelley Drive to the city line, crossed the bridge and ran back on West River Drive, finishing in front of the "Rocky" steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I ran with my friend and former editor Kristine Chin.  She brought her family to the race, so we had a four-person cheering section at the start, 5-mile mark and the finish.  This year and last year, Kristine and her husband Rick rode the RAGBRAI on a tandem.  Kristine did the …

Echo Company Back to Fueling

On Saturday of this weekend's drill, while the country remembered 9-11, Echo Company was training for the next mission.  The Echo fuelers set a a fueling point on Medina Ridge at Fort Indiantown Gap.  Fox Company set up communications for the operation.  Three Blackhawks came in for fuel just after lunch.  I was waiting for a ride to the military-vehicles-only training area and missed the Blackhawks.

I did have a chance to watch a pair of Chinooks fly in from the east and head southwest into the sun after practicing flying into the refuel point.  They did not refuel for reasons they never tell the guy with the camera.  But it was fun to get another chance to get near the rotor blast of a Chinook and get pictures of the big birds flying off into the sun.



Milestone in Context

Today this blog passed 100,000 page views since June of 2008 when I started keeping track.  It's a big milestone for a small subject, what it's like to go back in the Army when you are older than dirt.  Just to put in context, I checked the traffic on one of my favorite blogs, pharyngula.  This very entertaining blog by PZ Myers has had 88 million page views in the last several years.  I suppose Justin Bieber has 88 million page views on a good day.

Citizen Soldiers are not Entirely Civilians

I got a google alert on Sunday that my battalion commander was in a picture posted on the Penn Live blog, the on-line section of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.  When I went to the page all of the pictures were of the 2-104th homecoming--both soldiers and families.  Since the eight images pictured soldiers in our unit, I called the current battalion commander, the former battalion commander, my company commander (all of whom were in photos) and the battalion Command Sergeant Major.

If a civilian communications manager calls a civilian executive during a holiday weekend, that executive will hope the news is good and be ready for something bad, but will call back because his or her phone/blackberry is always on.  None of my leaders called back until this morning.  My current battalion commander, Maj. Joel Allmandinger, said he saw the photos.  Since it was good news, no reason to call during the weekend.

Since I am the kind of workaholic who brings his laptop and cell phone on EVERY vacat…

Digital Barbarism

After my latest on-line argument earlier this week, I decided to see what my favorite living writer, Mark Helprin.  His book Digital Barbarism: A Writer's Manifesto paints a beautiful picture of all that was marvelous without digital communications.  Helprin is a writer of tall tales.  His main characters are marvelous man and women who perform unbelievable feats--an old man who walk effortlessly on mountain trails, an out-of-shape young man who goes from fat boy to climbing alpine ice cliffs in a year.

Helprin says digital communication needs rules.  He is right, but it does make me wonder how that can happen.  I never make anonymous comments, but what does that mean in a world where many people do?  Facebook is somewhat better because you deal with people you know personally--unless you have "friended" strangers.  If you are interested in the topic, Helprin entertains, not just complains.

Reading this book reminded me that many of my favorite writers are political Co…

Transformed in a Moment

One morning in Iraq, I left battalion headquarters to ride across the base and go to a meeting with the Command Sergeant Major of the Garrison.  We were meeting about the 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony.  We had much of the program in place, but we needed a chaplain for the invocation.  When I told the commander's assistant where I was going, two or three people in the office right away said, "Sergeant Major F*&K This!"  And smiled.  The garrison CSM had a reputation for swearing that was noticeable in an Army unit in Iraq.  I had not heard a sentence from him without an F-bomb.

The chaplain everyone assumed would give the invocation had just been transferred to the north.  Chaplain Valentine, the post Catholic chaplain, taught philosophy at Fordham University in New York City.  After 9/11 he decided to volunteer for the chaplaincy.  He was on his third tour.  From our base, he rode convoys and flew to every outpost in the south of Iraq.  The north was short of chaplains…