Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hooray for gay marriage in New York!


Know of any local covens in southwestern Illinois?

I've been looking online for a coven to join in the local area, because reading about Wicca just isn't cutting it for me. Hands-on has always been the easiest way for me to learn, and I'm gonna need some instruction from another person in order to do that. I found information on a group that meets on base monthly, but I e-mailed the POC several days ago and have heard nothing as of yet. I found a couple of other groups in the area, but they have well over one hundred members, and I'm looking for a smaller, tight-knit group to learn from. Help?

My cats are inconsiderate assholes.

Most of my house is carpeted, but the kitchen is linoleum, obviously. Cheap linoleum , but linoleum nonetheless. If something spills onto the floor, easy clean up. So tell me why, every fucking time Simi inevitably gags on the wet cat food that he literally inhaled in 7.46 seconds, he has to vomit it all up on the CARPET?!

Fiance doesn't understand my "obsession" with curtains. It is my desire to eventually have ALL the blinds in the house replaced with curtains. This is because of the damage done to said blinds by the cats...mainly Simi, but with some small assistance from SoCo. You see, a more considerate cat with a desire to view the outside world would simply pull down on the slats. This bends the slats, yes, but is infinitely preferable to what MY cats do: chew their fucking way through the blinds until the offending obstacle is removed. I shit you not, they will chew off pieces of the slats to create a little "window" in the blinds so that they can window watch to their hearts' content.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yes, damn you, I still have three stripes.

I grow weary of the "OMFG WHY YOU NO HAVE FOURTH STRIPE" response I get every time I post a picture of myself in uniform. You guys just make me feel really, really shitty about it. Yeah, I got a line number for staff when I was active duty, but that was three weeks before my separation date, and line numbers don't mean anything in the reserves. The squadron I was in the entire time I was active duty never bothered to send me to Airman Leadership School, even though I was there for five-and-a-half years. They sent four-year enlistees with no intentions of re-enlisting. They sent everyone who had joined the Air Force and put on Senior Airman looooong after I did. But they never sent me. And so here I sit, an airman, until my fat ass can pass a PT test and get an ALS slot.

Hello, Slovenia!


(After the U.S., the majority of the views on my blog come from Slovenia. How does one say "hello" in Slovenian? How about "thanks for reading"?)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Summer Leadership School, Days 0, 1, 2, 3!

This week is the AFJROTC SLS summer camp (that's a mouthful and a half), and I volunteered to be a cadre. There are ten flights, with fourteen cadets in each one. They come from twenty or so school across six states - - Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Alabama, and Mississippi. They mix 'em all up into these flights and hand 'em over to us cadres for the week.

It started Sunday afternoon at the base theatre, where the camp commandant and one of the JROTC instructors went over the rules, the responsibilities of the cadres, and the schedule for the week. Then we headed out to meet our flights.

I was assigned to "C" (Charlie) flight, and given a gray shirt (each flight has its own color). After explaining the rules to them and practicing some drill, we took them into the bowling alley for bowling and pizza. As you know, I have a preference for using aliases as opposed to real names, so I'm going to refer to my fellow cadres by the nicknames provided by our sweet, darling cadets:

Bumblee - - the lead cadre, a captain in the reserves and a nurse.
Lt Bubbly - - the commandant's son, another reservist and a medic.
TSgt P - - I can't recall his nickname. He is forces support and usually joins us after dinner.
Sweet Trouble - - a gung-ho military cop. According to the gossip, all the girls are sweet on him.
A1C K - - I can't recall his nickname either. He's civil engineering.
Little Devil/La Diabla - - yours truly.

Now, allow me to introduce you to my cadets, who received their nicknames on Day 0 (Sunday):

Aly Pom-Pom - - drives a bright yellow 40th anniversary Corvette!!!!
Jream - - sassy little thing.
Mario - - a tomboy.
Shar - -  we call her Kardashian too, 'cause she looks like Kim Kardashian. She's a chatterbox.
Karma - - a little on the quieter side, but pair her up with Shar, and you've got the Kardashian Twins.
Ginger - - a redhead, and possibly the most mature girl of the bunch.
Smores - - so named 'cause it's sounds similar to her surname. Very quiet, but smiles a lot.
Sausage - - this is her nickname at her high school; I have no idea why. She's also very quiet, but kinda stands off to the side too. I'm gonna have to fix that.
Wisconsin Cheese - - obviously, he's from Wisconsin.
Tennis - - seems to be the most mature boy. All the girls are crushing him, too.
Brains - - a little on the nerdy side, but a good kid.
Brett Favre - - a local kid who knows all the PA guys that Fiance used to party with, haha. Also, a huge Greenbay fan; he has a tattoo on his back!
Banana Shorts - - he was wearing banana shorts when we met him! He likes to get smart with me, but all I gotta do is look at him and shuts his trap.
Mad Skillz - - probably the sharpest kid we have. He'll be our drill master for the drill competition.

I'm in love with these kids. They make me laugh, and they're such great kids. We all love the heck outta them. Sweet Trouble def has a soft spot for Brains, and I've def got one for Aly Pom-Pom and Mario. They're so happy to see us each day, and disappointed if we have to take off early.

On Monday morning, our flight almost got in trouble right off the bat because everyone was outside formed up before 5:30 AM, but only a couple from Charlie flight were out. But it wasn't their fault; as the captain (Bumblebee) understood it (this is her fifteenth year doing this; she's a former cadet herself), the cadets were not allowed out of their rooms BEFORE 5:30. So fortunately no one bothered them about it.

They did PT, and then went for breakfast. We made sure our flight sat down basic training style: stand at parade rest behind your chair until the table is filled, then the last person calls them to attention and directs them to sit. Then they went and changed, and we headed to the YMCA camp for some team building.

Our Y instructor was great, and he was especially charmed by our kids. He's been doing the team building for the JROTC for several years, and he said this was the best group yet. They never fought; they came together and worked through every problem the counselor presented to them. We did a little hiking through the woods, and we made sure they marched everywhere they went, calling jodies (marching chants). We at lunch, and while doing so Jream snuck off and stole the guidon from F flight!

Each flight has a guidon (unit flag on a stick) to match their color. There's a game they play while they're here that's kinda like capture the flag. The the dining facility on base, the PT area, the cadres, and the bus (we learned later) are safe zones: they guidons cannot be stolen. They also cannot be stolen as long as the guidon bearer has their hand on it. But if it's just resting between their arms, it's fair game. At the end of the day the guidon must be returned, but not before the losing flight does something silly (with the thief) to earn it back. (I didn't catch what they did that night; I had class).

We went and did a few more activities, and then we went canoeing. The counselors let the cadres take kayaks out. TSgt P and A1C K weren't there for the camp, but the rest of us def took advantage of the kayaks, and got soaked by splashing paddles for our efforts. Because of this, I left early so I could shower and change before class. After class, I swung by the parking lot in from of billeting just to say hello before heading home.

Tuesday was an opportunity for cadres to run errands or take a much-needed nap; I was the only one for our flight who didn't. We were there for PT and breakfast, and then their room and uniform inspections (they looked so spiffy in their blues!). But after that it was career day for them, and they were with their instructors visiting a work center on base. I went with the group that went to my reserve wing to take tours of the C-9 and C-40; I've been in the C-9, but not the C-40. The C-9 is an oooold plane. Brains and Mad Skillz were in this group. We went to the hangar, and my boss, the PA officer, was there to take photos. My wing commander came out to explain our mission, and then he handed the group over to the pilots, crew chiefs, and flight attendants to tour the aircraft.

For lunch I just sat off by myself since the flights were all jumbled up, but Brett Favre joined me, and I answered his questions about the Air Force. After lunch they changed out of their blues and the flights re-formed to march over to the Airman Leadership School; A1C K and Sweet Trouble joined us then. When I heard they would receive a briefing on mental wellness, I exclaimed in horror, "But they're too young for Powerpoint!" (Ha ha.) Then they marched over to the honor guard building across the street. The honor guard members explained their congressional mandate, and then gave a demonstration of military funeral honors for retirees.

Now, lemme backtrack to tell you how we learned the buses were safe zones. Aly Pom-Pom noticed the flag for D flight was out of the guidon bearer's hand, so she reached over and grabbed it. They guidon bearer, a girl, proceeded to tell my girl, "Give me back my guidon, or I'm gonna punch you in the face." I was LIVID when I heard about it, but I calmed down after a bit. The Delta cadres weren't around, and didn't show up again until we went to play sports after dinner. When I noticed this, I let their flight commander (a cadet) know that if they needed anything, to feel free to come to me. Their flight commander was, in my opinion, a more shining example of what a cadet should be. She thanked me several times throughout the afternoon for keeping an eye on them, and I let their cadre know that.

I told my fellow cadres, and a couple of other cadres, about what happened. So by the time I did speak to the Delta cadre, he told me in surprise, "I heard about what happened, but I didn't realize it was my flight." He had his guidon bearer come over and apologize to Aly Pom-Pom.

Poor Aly Pom-Pom rolled her ankle right before sports, and either had to lean on us to get around or catch a ride with an instructor. Our kids had a blast at sports, winning every game minus one (but we refuse to acknowledge the loss).

All day yesterday, I was wearing skinny jeans with an old pair of black combat boots, pink belt sprinkled with skulls, my big skull-and-crossbones watch, and aviators. Jream asked me with a straight face, "Are you a rockstar?"

I didn't join them for PT this morning; I got some much-needed sleep and caught a few minutes of quality time with Fiance. I went out to join them for their security forces (cops) activities later in the morning, starting at the K9 facility, where they were getting a demonstration. The cadets all laughed at the sight of a cop (in a body suit) getting chewed up. I said to my cadets, "I'm glad you guys find human suffering hilarious." Suddenly the cop who was narrating the demonstration asks, "Charlie flight, do you guys wanna see [Sweet Trouble] get [chewed up]?" Their response was a very enthusiastic, "YES SIR." He put on the body suit, and ran away from the dog, who picked up speed, leapt into the air, latched onto his arm, spun him around, and slammed him into the ground. It. Was. EPIC.

But they had done it too quickly for Bumblee to snap a photo for the kids, so they did it AGAIN. I caught it on video! (Please lower the volume and excuse my obnoxious laughter.)

From there they went to the main SF building, where they learned up weapons, checked out a police cruiser, climbed into a humvee, got a tour of the holding cells, and got a CSI lesson. Then it was lunchtime out at the base lake, where they enjoyed their delicious MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) while I choked down a crummy O'Charley's sandwich. (Haha, I got some dirty looks.)

When they were done they went out into the field for a mini obstacle course (which was strangely free of any obstacles). They put some camo-makeup on their faces, and then attacked us cadres to put the makeup on us. A cop, Sgt B, told them what they were gonna do, and then had Sweet Trouble and another cop demonstrate: they ran out halfway to Sgt B, dropped onto the ground and rolled in one direction, got back and up and ran the rest of the way to Sgt B, and rolled in the opposite direction. Then they turned around and high-crawled back: dragging oneself using elbows and knees without lifting the body off the ground. Finally they low-crawled back to Sgt B: one's face is pressed to the ground, with one hand reach forward to grab the earth and pull forward, and the other hand pushing.

But this demonstration was not enough, apparently. I found myself being singled out, along with the cadres from Alpha, Bravo, Delta, and Echo. (The other five flights were at another activity.) Suddenly we were being told that we were doing it next! He told us to go, and I thought I was gonna die. I made it through the run and high-crawl okay, but I was STRUGGLING with the low-crawl. Suddenly I look to my right and there's Wisconsin Cheese yelling, "You can do it, ma'am!" Then there's another cadet to my left, and suddenly all the cadets are there, either low-crawling with me or cheering me on. I cannot adequately describe the pride I felt for my kids at that moment.

Finally it was their turn, and anytime one of them was struggling, the rest were out there to do it with them or cheer them on. They were definitely leading by example for the other flights. Tennis was hardcore; he busted his nose on the first dive, but kept on going! (No break, fortunately.) After they all went through, Sweet Trouble did it one more time with another cop, and when he got to the low crawl all the cadets ran out to him to either crawl with him or encourage him. Aly Pom-Pom waited at the end and held her hand out to him. They all started clapping and chanting, "Sweet Trou-ble, Sweet Trou-ble!" When he finished, they went crazy. I was wicked proud of them.

Poor Aly had put a little too much strain on her ankle and was limping along with Ginger, who had injured her heel earlier in the day. But then she got sick with heat exhaustion, and while others might have teased them and called them cripples, I called them Wounded Warriors. While she stood off to the side waiting for her stomach to settle, A1C K wrangled some gossip out of her. Apparently there's competition between a couple of girls for the affections of Tennis. And this is when it came out that not only are the girls crazy about Sweet Trouble, but they all like Lt Bubbly too! Naturally I snuck off to tell Trouble, and he just shook his head and said, "Tomorrow we gotta come dressed like Brains, with our pants up to our nipples. Then they'll all think he's cool!"

I went home to shower and change, and then met back up with my flight for dinner. I went with them back to billeting, and while they were grabbing their gear for sports, Sweet Trouble and I went to grab some BK. We were in the parking lot when suddenly he exclaimed, "Did that just happen?!" I looked over to see two of our guys running back into the building with F flight's flag! They'd snagged it again! I grabbed my chicken fries and ran off to investigate, even though I was cutting it short to get to class. That's when I got grabbed by a couple of Delta flight cadets, who had a sick flight mate. Unfortunately, with Bumblebee and Lt Bubbly absent at the moment, there wasn't much I could do except direct them to give the girl's room information to Sweet Trouble. Then Aly Pom-Pom puked again, and without Bumblebee or any instructors around to give me direction, I made the call for them to stay in Ginger's room during the sports, and dashed off to class.

I quickly gave a presentation with two other guys on antisocial personality disorder, and then ran off again just in time to catch the flights as they were marching off to the sports field. I learned that Aly and Ginger were getting a ride over; if they'd stayed in my room as I'd directed, the flight and us cadres would have gotten into serious trouble, apparently. When we got the field, they took the guidons, and I had them sit on a bench while everyone else played ultimate frisbee or softball. (We won all the games, by the way.)

Ginger was given ice for both of her heels, because the good one had started to swell from putting so much weight on it, and Aly was given something to settle her stomach. Hopefully they should both be good for tomorrow; by the time we left the field, they were walking again with minimal discomfort.

When sports were done, the flights formed up, and it was time for F flight to earn their guidon back. Let me tell you about the chants, first.

There's a couple of chants these cadets holler. If a plane flies overhead (which happens frequently, this being an air base and all), someone will yell, "What's that sound?" The cadets then respond, "The sound of freedom, sir/ma'am!" If a flight is asked, "Are you motivated?", they are to respond (let's pretend a guy asked), "Sir, yes sir! Motivated, motivated, downright motivated! Ooh, ah, I wanna lead somebody! Ahhhh SIR!"

With that in mind, Brett Favre, the guidon thief, approached F flight for their humiliation. He proceeded to lead them all in a single-file line, running around all ten flights in one large cirlcle, their arms out making airplane noises. Another flight jumped the gun on us with the "What's that sound?", but Smores, our flight commander for the day, quickly faced the flight and asked, "Charlie flight, what's that sound?" Their clever response was, "The sound of losing their guidon, ma'am!" I made sure they repeated that several times, and fortunately one of F flight's cadre caught it on video for us.

They marched back to billetting, and that was where I bid them a good night before heading home to write all this. I left them at 8:50 PM; it is now 11:01. Holy crap, time for bed!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A letter to the editor.

I was pretty disgusted with today's Letters to the Editor in the Belleville News-Democrat. People are in an uproar over the photo of two men kissing during their civil union that was on the front page a few days ago. One asshole said, "When the military finally officially repeals the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, maybe at all commander's calls they can hire these same-sex couples whose pictures you showed and they can show everyone the proper way for same-sex couples to kiss." Tom O'Leary of Mascoutah, you're ridiculous. Another person writing in claimed to be "one Christian who is taking a stand for God and the Bible."

So I wrote my own letter this morning.

I applaud the state of Illinois for allowing civil unions for homosexual couples. I see nothing immoral about two consenting adults with mutual love and respect for each other pledging to honor and love each other for the rest of their days.

Everyone who has written decrying these unions, using the Bible to back up their poisonous words, makes me sick. This is America, land of the free, where anyone is free to throw off the shackles of religious intolerance so that they may live their lives as they see fit. A homosexual union affects me in no way whatsoever, and as a member of the armed forces, I am proud to serve side by side with any man or woman, regardless of sexual orientation, who is willing to stand up and bear arms with me.

Hooray for the pursuit of happiness!
Of course, that won't cause a miracle and change the minds of every bigoted person who reads the paper, but of the seven letters printed today, only one from Michael Ray Dillier of Collinsville was positive about the photo. So I felt the need to throw in my positive words as well. Hooray for equality!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Goddess has taken a musical spirit.

His name was Declan Duffy. He was a son, a husband, a father, a grandfather. I knew him as a musician, guitarist and singer for the Irish Xiles of the St Louis area, comprising of he and his three sons. I didn't know the family well, but I love their music, and he and his sons and sweet wife, whom we all call Ma, always had a smile and a hug for Davi. Tonight, members of the Irish Xiles Official Drinking Team will meet to drink to his memory. When I finally depart the midwest, my fondest memories will include those made on nights at Castletown Geoghan in downtown Belleville, drinking and dancing and laughing and singing and standing on chairs as we raise our glasses. No, Dec, I did not know you well, but I'll miss your sparkling eyes, your wide smile, and your voice. Fare thee well, spirit of music, and may we meet again on the other side.

27 November 1952 - 8 June 2011

I will remember you at Samhain
And bless you then.
We all come from the Goddess
And to her we shall return
Like a drop of rain
Falling to the ocean.
We all come from the Horned One
And through Him we are reborn
Corn and grain, corn and grain
All that falls shall rise again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some recommendations for the few.

Let's start with food. If you are ever in Baltimore, and you've got a fat wallet and some dressy clothes, have your dinner at Tio Pepe. It's a classy Spanish restaurant with tasty sangria by the jug and delicious food. We started with mussels in a brown sauce I could not name, but was savory nonetheless; we also passed around a plate of blue point oysters drenched in a crab meat and champagne sauce that was to die for. My mom's plate was chicken and lobster with rice. The paella on the menu serves two, so I split it with Sister's godmother; we each got half of a whole lobster, and the shrimp were fat and juicy. Sister got the cochinillo, or roast suckling pig. It was pretty much the whole damn piglet (my apologies to Winne-the-Pooh fans), but she was disappointed to find that it came without the head and feet. She claims to enjoy dead animals more when they're literally served whole. (Dear Adam, I did not visit with you because I did not have the time. Forgive me! Perhaps next time. I'll let you know in advance, and we'll wreak havoc and destruction on Annapolis.)

My next recommendation is for a new HBO show called Game of Thrones. Based on the series A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin and starring a cast of mostly U.K. natives, Game of Thrones (named for the first book) is set in a world not too dissimilar from Medieval Europe. That's all I'll reveal about the plot; you must see it for yourself. It's led me to start reading the series; I'm currently reading Game of Thrones on my Samsung Captivate.

Now, concerning the Xbox-PS3 rivalry...if you're still arguing for PS3 over XBox, you're a dumb shit. Need I remind you about the hacking fiasco? Sony failing to notify its customers until days after the news story broke? And PSN being down for weeks on end? The only thing the PS3 has going for it, in my opinion, is its monopoly on the Metal Gear Solid and God of War franchises, and the fact that it plays Blu-Rays. But you can get a Blu-Ray player for $100 at Wal-Mart. It's not gonna be a fancy brand, but it'll do the job. If you stream Netflix via your game console, Xbox makes for better viewing as it streams in high-def. PS3 does not. In fact, it's pretty shitty quality, even with our 16 MB internet (at least, Charter claims it's 16 MB...). If it weren't for the Blu-Ray capability and MGS and GoW, I'd regret buying the damn thing for Fiance.

Finally, a movie recommendation. This afternoon I went to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with the Redhead (who, sadly, will soon be abandoning me for the east coast; traitorous wench). I loved it. Again, I won't give anything away, except for one of my favorite scenes in the movie, when Angelica (portrayed by the sultry Penelope Cruz) says to our beloved Jack, "There is a prophecy...perhaps you do not believe in the supernatural?" and dear old Jack responds, "No, I've seen a thing or two." Tee hee. There's a scene at the end of the credits, and I'm still not certain if it was worth sitting through them, though it did give me a giggle. Otherwise, great movie. Keith Richards makes a brief appearance, and even that god-damned monkey pops us, but I won't give anything else away.

Hey, did you guys know I'm Super-man? 'Cause I am.