Saturday, April 30, 2011

At Military Blogging Conference

I am at the social media session at the Military Blogging Conference.  I sent a few tweets to #milblogcon on my twitter feed @sgtguss.  The results of the Milbloggie awards are in.  They only list first place and I didn't win.  Thanks to everyone who voted for me, especially the Theta Sorority at the University of Richmond and the Eagles Womens Soccer Team at Juniata College.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Air Assault Training Photos

I am putting together the battalion newsletter and was re-sizing the following photos.



Monday, April 25, 2011

Voting is Easy: Please Vote!

Voting is now open for the 2011 Milbloggie Awards.  I am in the first category, Army blogs, and about eight down the list.  If it opens in a small window, you may have to scroll down.  My blog is "Home from Iraq."
http://milblogconference.milblogging.com/2011-milbloggies/vote-now/
Thanks in advance for your vote!!

Milbloggie Awards 2011 Begins Tonight

At least that's what they said on the Web site.  I am one of the finalists in the Army category.  Last year voting was a pain.  this year they said it would be better.  I will try it out when they open up voting and see if it really is easy.  Thanks to everyone who voted last year.  I will be at the milblogging conference Saturday and see the other contestants.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jacari's Adoption Hearing Goes Smoothly



Today we adopted Jacari in Lancaster County court.  From left is Amanda Moore, Jacari's social worker, Nigel, Jacari, Annalisa, me and the Judge.
Since Jacari is 12, he took the witness chair and said he wanted to be adopted.  The hearing is mostly a formality, but it still marks a big change for Jacari and our family.
The judge said we would get an official birth certificate in 6 weeks and that it would be perfectly legal if Jacari decides to run for president.

If anyone reading this is in the Lancaster PA area, we are having an adoption party tomorrow from 6 - 8 pm.  Send me an email if you need directions.

More Air Assault Shots

Here's some more.




Monday, April 18, 2011

Air Assault Training in Western PA

More later, but for now, a few shots from a hillside on a farm where Alpha Company, 1-10th Infantry, 2nd Brigade practiced air assault and extraction.  These photos are of one of the platoons running back to the Chinook at the end of the mission.



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grounded

This morning I showed up for a 0730 mission brief at the Flight Facility on Fort Indiantown Gap, PA.  When I got there, the day's mission had already been cancelled for weather.  The mission to western PA may be rescheduled for tomorrow when the sun is shining.

I went to Plan B.  Go to Marquette Lake and watch fire-fighting training with Blackhawk helicopters.  Our Blackhawks were slated to scoop up water from the lake and practice dropping it on a point and across an area.  I went to the lake 30 minutes ahead of the first mission.  An hour later I switched to Plan C--take pictures of two soldiers from Echo Company who were graduating from the Warrior Leadership Course.  That worked.  Graduation was indoors, on time.

Then I went back to the lake.  It was beginning to rain.  I waited about 15 minutes but the mist turned into rain, the wind kicked up to 25 mph.  Mission cancelled.

Tomorrow the main mission, air assault training for an infantry unit in Western Pennsylvania may go ahead as planned.  More tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Milbloggie Awards 2011

Tomorrow night nominations open for the Milbloggie Awards for 2011.  I will be attending the Milblogging Conference at the end April.  When voting opens next week, I will be asking you to vote for my blog.  The people who run the site promise it will work better than last year.  I will post the link after I try it out myself.  Last year I know it was a big hassle to vote.  If it is as bad as last year, I won't ask.

Thanks in advance.

Neil

Monday, April 11, 2011

Half Marathon with My Wife and Running with the Boys

On Saturday morning I ran the Garden Spot Half Marathon in New Holland PA.  I did not run more than seven miles at one time in the last month and my time showed that.  I finished in 2:09:14.  Even allowing a half-minute to get to the start line a pace of 9:50 per mile.  My wife and I started together with Catherine, one of her running partners.  Catherine dropped back right after the start so Annalisa and I ran together for the first eight miles.  The out-and-back course was more uphill on the way out, more downhill on the way back.  Annalisa is faster than I am, but I run better up hills, so I would go ahead up hills then she would catch up on the flats and fly downhills.  She was way ahead on the downhill to the turn around, but at a short, steep hill on the way back, I caught up.  The next big downhill she was gone.  We finished a minute apart.

Terilyn, another member of my wife's running group, skipped the event , but brought Nigel and Jacari to cheer for Annalisa and I.  She is good with a map and brought the kids to cheer for us at mile 5, miles 8 and mile 12.  Some other people we know who were running told us afterward that Nigel and Jacari  cheered louder than anyone else along the course!

Jacari ran the last mile with Annalisa.  Nigel ran the list mile with me.  When we got home, Nigel and Jacari ran another mile with me.  They run at least two miles with me each day on weekends when I am home and sometimes during the week.  On Sunday, we ran another two miles.  Nigel was hurting on the second mile, but his brother Jacari stayed with him right to the end.  Nigel did not quit and even put on a short sprint at the end.  I finished third.

We sing Army songs when we run.  It seems to help them.  Some of them are Army classics "C-130 rollin' down the strip. . ." and some I make up.  If I see one or both of the boys are feeling lazy, I make up a song with "My Little Pony" in it.  My Little Pony is a very girlie toy advertised on the Cartoon Network.  If I make up a line with "I wanna play with My Little Pony" they both straighten up and keep running.

Monday, April 4, 2011

AMTRAK Quiet (except for ME) Car

I ride AMTRAK trains to work and on trips to NYC 4 or 5 days each week.  Recently AMTRAK added quiet cars on the Keystone service between Harrisburg and NYC.  The rules on the quiet car are No Cell Phone Use, No Loud Talking.  But every other time I get on one of these cars, someone will talk on their cell phone.  Sometimes they are oblivious and did not see the signs on the door and every ten feet along the roof.  Sometimes.  Not often.

Mostly what they want is a quiet car for everyone but them.  They get to drone on about their latest deal or horrible date.  I know a guy who works in a bakery in Lancaster and commutes to Temple several days a week.  He is taking classes toward a PhD.  He sits in the quiet car hoping to do homework.  Then someone starts talking.  He said he waits up to 10 minutes to say something.  He likes having me on the train.  I wait up to three seconds before saying something.  Usually, "There are five other cars on this train, go there."

Since I think people are like gardens--good only with effort, full of weeds in their natural state--I assume the person who takes the call--or worse dials the call and sits on their ass making disturbing 80 other people is a jerk.  So I ask them to leave, shut up or both.  It is worth the hassle because the same jerks who flaunt the rules they want others to obey are cowards.  When they see it is a hassle to act like a jerk they do something else.

Since I am already being a Judgmental Bastard (my favorite segment on Jay Leno.  If you have never seen it, search it on YOUTUBE) I can say that I have never asked a soldier or someone who looks military to be quiet on the quiet car.  The worst offenders are guys in suits.  The hardest to shut up are women.  When they act like jerks, they are used to getting slack.  Last trip back from NYC a large woman across the aisle made a call in the quiet car.  She said "I'll just be a few minutes."  I asked her to spend that few minutes elsewhere.  She stormed off.

Civilian life is being the bad guy for enforcing even an obvious ten-freakin'-signs-and-five-announcement rule.

I let you know if I end up with a broken nose.

Jealousy and Envy

When we were getting ready to go to Iraq, Colonel Perry spoke to the battalion in Oklahoma.  The most memorable part of his speech for me was when he said that envy ruins units at every level.

Of course, envy ruins every kind of community--civilian, military, secular, religious, law-abiding or criminal.  I got a dollar book at a used book store with the title "Envy."  It is one of a series on of seven books, each on one of the Seven Deadly sins.

I am just two chapters into this brief and entertaining look at one of the three worst of the seven sins and I plan to follow the authors advice in thinking about envy vs. jealousy.  Joseph Epstein "I am jealous of what I have, I envy what you have."  He makes clear that jealousy can be good, or at least appropriate, but envy never is.

God is jealous, the Bible says.  He wants to keep those who have chosen to love Him for Himself.  A spouse or lover can be properly jealous.  Of course we all know someone can be crazy with jealousy also, but jealousy is not evil, like envy.

Envy is always bad.  Col. Perry told us that when we feel envy we should go out and get something for ourselves.  Envy can be both evil and passive.  It wants what it doesn't have and does not want to find something else.  Epstein says we always try to keep envy secret which is why it eats at us.  No one wants to admit envy.  Admitting envy is to admit someone else has something better or actually is better than us.  We want what they have, we want them not to have it, but we don't want others to think of us as being that small and venal.

I will be at summer camp in June.  I remember how much it means just to have a bottom bunk.  Envy doesn't have to be about a big topic to be a big problem.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jobs for Veterans

On the train to New York last week, a guy getting on the train in NJ saw my pack and asked if I knew any veterans who needed jobs.  I said sure and said I would post his info on my blog.

Here it is:

Glen Witt
Program Manager
Veterans Across America
152 Madison Ave.
New York NY 10016
Ph:  212-684-1122
Cell:  540-532-8141

gwitt@veteransacrossamerica.org

If you need a job, send him an email or call.  He said he has leads on good jobs everywhere in the US.

Travel Cards for ALL Soldiers

When I hear the budget debates carried out on TV, one refrain is "Don't cut the military budget."  That is set in opposition to "The government is wasting money."

It's as if camouflage clothes somehow washes the waste out of the system.  It doesn't.

No I can't comment on $35 billion projects like new tanker  planes or fighter jets, but I just heard about a small project I can understand.

I just heard that all National Guard soldiers will be issued travel cards.  It makes sense for the full timers, but us weekend warriors will use those cards once or twice a year.  We will all fill out long forms, learn all the security procedures, forget them, then bother our full-time staff about the money we did not get.

The military is a government bureaucracy just like any other.  And it is a deep enough hierarchy that a mid-level manager can dream up new procedures that can waste millions of dollars.

Cold War Hero Who Served After 1991

Armand Lattes, Professor Emeritus of the University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the world faced ...