Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Soldier Dies After Deployment

On Sunday Jim Dao wrote a story in the NY Times about all the dangers that face soldiers coming home from deployment from car accidents, drugs, alcohol and all the other temptations that face young men especially.

This morning my Army email included a link to the funeral service being held tomorrow for on of the soldiers I served with in Iraq.  SPC Steven Lenois was 21 when we got on the plane for Iraq.  He was a bright, optimistic, confident guy.  He had the kind of confidence that could have led to great success.  But we will never know.

Steven Wayne Lenois, 23, passed away Friday (May 20, 2011) from injuries sustained in a Motor Vehicle accident. Steven was a proud soldier of the Army National Guard and had just recently returned from Iraq. He is survived by his parents Teresa Lenois and Thomas J. Lenois; his siblings, James F. Toczko and his fiancĂ© Dawn, Timmy Toczko, Michael Roy and his wife Lisa, and Kimberly Lenois, his foster family Carol and Norman Dove, Jesse Drown, Zackry Drown, Lucas Dove and Cassandra Dove, and many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. 

New Blog on Raising Kids, Saving Money

My wife started a blog a week ago called Miser Mom.  It is about being frugal and raising kids.

It has nothing to do with the Army, except for the fact that she has to deal with everything that happens while I am off playing Army on weekends and at summer camp.

The first blog post is her philosophy.  I support what she does, but in a way, we both are reliving our fathers' lives in the things we do.  Annalisa's Dad saw the blog yesterday and said, "I taught you that." referring to being frugal.  My Dad loved the Army, stayed till he was a very old soldier and did not get a retirement.  He also liked nice clothes, powerful cars and telling stories.  Neither of those apples fell far from the tree.

Almost Summer Camp

In three short days I will be sharing a room with 39 of my closest friends for 15 days.  Army summer camp starts Friday at 0730.  During the two weeks I am hoping to fly in a Chinook helicopter to Fort Dix NJ for aerial gunnery and to Fort Knox in a Blackhawk helicopter for training there.  In between will be ranges, soldier skills, the fitness test, and lots of Army food.

I will post pictures as soon as I can.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blog Post at My Day Job


On the connection (or not) between Fox News headlines and medical reality.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Water Bucket Training--Fire Fighting with Blackhawk Helicopters

On Saturday morning at the beginning of drill weekend, I watched Blackhawk helicopters practice filling and emptying fire-fighting a water bucket hanging beneath their birds.  Here are the pictures:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Account Off Line

I will post some pictures from last weekend later this evening.  My blog got spammed and I could not access it since Sunday.  Did not know what was wrong at first.  Should be fixed now.  Pictures soon.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rode to NYC (Almost)

After several days of rain delay I took the day off and rode to New York City from Lancaster--at least as far as I could get.  I rode 145 miles, stopping at 640pm at Metropark Train Station in Edison NJ, 145 miles from home.  I might have made it farther, but I slept late--till 7am!! And I did not leave until 8am!
10.5 hours later I still felt pretty good, but I wanted to actually go to NYC.  I got to NYC at 720 pm and still had time for a 5-mile ride to get me to 150 miles before I got something to eat.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blogging About Bicycling

The following is today's post at my day job:

National Bike to Work Week has been a difficult one this year: rain all over the northeast has stopped all but the most addicted riders from a two-wheeled commute. But even if you spend today groaning over the weather, the sun will be out next week. In the meantime, you might consider how bicycling is the most chemistry (and chemical) friendly ride in the world.
Any serious cycler knows what their frame, fork, seat, handlebars and even drink bottle cages is made from. If you think it doesn’t make a difference, pop into a bike shop and witness the array of parts of sale. The staff will be happy to educate you – if you have an hour to spare. Because weight is so critical on bikes, even small components are made of different materials. Over the years I’ve ridden bikes made from steel, titanium, aluminum, titanium and carbon, and just carbon. When different grades of steel were common, I – like many riders – knew which type I had; in the 80s and early 90s top racers rode frames of Reynolds 531, a manganese-molybdenum alloy steel, while riders with less cash settled for a 4130 ChroMoly.
In 2004 Cannondale introduced a carbon-aluminum bike called Six13. What could be cooler for the chemist on wheels than a bike with atomic numbers for a name? There’s also the Trek Carbon and LeMond Titanium, for anyone who wants their favorite elements front and center.
So ride a bike and join a very big fraternity of chemistry geeks. Carbon frames or no, biking reduces your own carbon footprint. It also improves your health, saves your wallet, and – as long as it’s not raining – makes even Monday morning something to look forward to.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Two Graduations Today

Just got back from my oldest daughter's graduation.  Lauren graduated from Juniata College today.  My step-daughter Iolanthe has graduated from Bryn Mawr College as I write this post.  They are 200 miles apart, so I could not get to both.


Two done!  Three to go!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

SEAL Mania

Today's Washington Post included an article on the new books coming about Navy SEALs.  I am reviewing one now for Books and Culture on line.  I'll talk about that in a later post.  Beyond the serious books by former SEALs, it turns out there are Navy SEAL Romance Novels!

The review begins:

"Ever since an elite unit of Navy SEALs stormed a fortresslike compound near Islamabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden, people can’t get enough of the SEALs. There are some who want to know what it’s like to be one, and others who want to know what it takes to become one. Then, there are those who want to know what it might be like to, well, “be” with one."

It's a fun review.  Check it out!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Racing with the Boss

The commander of 2-104th Aviation, LTC Joel Allmandinger, is an avid bicyclist.  He mostly rode mountain bikes before our deployment.  He rode in Iraq also and won the individual category in the Thanksgiving Day Biathlon held at Tallil Ali Air Base in 2009.  On Saturday we competed in different races at the same time as part of the Turkey Hill Country Classic.

LTC Allmandinger races in Category 5, at least until he moves up to Cat 4.  I race in the 50+ category.  Since he is 40 even when he moves up to Cat 4 and can do age-group races, we won't be in the same races.  He won a race three weeks earlier at Farmersville Lancaster County.  It was a cold day with rain on and off and wet roads for the whole event.  I finished way behind the leaders.

It wouldn't seem like one weekend a month is a big deal, but serious bicycle racing means racing a lot.  We go to summer camp for two weeks in June, but that means three weekends.

The civilians in my life think drill weekend is physical.  Actually, drill weekend cuts into my exercise routine.

Oh well, at least we get paid to miss races.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Asian Pacific and Jewish Heritage Month???!!!

Definitely WTF? was my first reaction when I saw the email from our Unit Readiness NCO with an official notice that May is National Asian Pacific and Jewish Heritage Month.

Is this celebration only for those who are Jewish and Asian-Pacific?  The official Army letter said nothing one way or the other.

It turns out that this month, besides being my birthday month and the birthday month of my step-daughter Iolanthe, is also Older Americans month.

So I am 50% qualified for Jewish Heritage Month by birth, definitely qualified for Older Americans month by my birth being 58 years ago, and since I have visited the Asia-Pacific region several times, I would certainly celebrating going back there--at least all-expense paid.

While budgets are cut and training money gets pared to the bare minimum, it's nice to know there is still money to pay a retired colonel to advise all PA soldiers it's time to celebrate our Jewish and Asia-Pacific Heritage.

Of course, for all of us who were horrified by September 11, 2001, from now on May will be

Osama Bin Laden Is Fish Food Month.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Obama Kills Osama--Rush Lives in "Realityville"

On Sunday on the way home from my second of two races, I tuned into the Rush Limbaugh highlights show.  I try to listen to Beck, Limbaugh, Savage and Hannity once each month so when I make fun of them, I will have something to quote, not just mention that together they (and all the rest of the Commentariat on the Right) have served exactly ZERO days in the military.

On Sunday Rush said, "I live in Realityville.  If Obama ran today against any Republican, that candidate would win in a landslide."  He went on to say that a plurality of America supports the Ryan budget and the media is distorting the outcry against it.

OK Rush.

And with Osama Bin Laden making the world a better place as shark food, do you really think the latest draft-dodging comb-over Pansy Patriot (Trump) could beat the Commander in Chief of that Navy Seal raid.

It would, of course, be too much to expect the one-note chorus on Right wing radio to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden and acknowledge that the President took a big risk in going after the scum bag who planned the attack on America.  If the raid had failed, and it could have, they would have been attacked the President quicker than chicken on a June bug to use the southern expression.

How's things in Realityville Rush?

Blogging Conference Wrap Up

Timing is everything.  If the news out of Washington had been two days earlier, the military blogging conference would have been a celebration of finding and killing Osama Bin Laden.  Jim Dao was at the conference reporting for the New York Times.  His article talks about how military blogging has gone corporate.  Originally it was grunts reporting on the mess they were living through and in some cases getting shut down.

By the time I started blogging in 2007 some of the controversial web sites were already shutting down.  Many more family members are bloggers, which is a good trend.  Military families suffer a lot.  During a deployment like mine where my little physical danger threatened us, my family still had to wait for a year wondering if the war would suddenly turn for the worst.

But for those of us who served during Viet Nam and the Cold War, the whole idea of blogging, even if it has less of an edge than in 2003 is still way ahead of the controlled world of the 60s and 70s.  And really, many soldiers over 30 still don't know what a blog is.

Military Pilots Really Have "The Right Stuff"

Tammie Jo Shults, F-18 Fighter Pilot Today I listened to the audio of pilot Tammie Jo Shults calmly speakin...