Did you know that being married is like being nibbled to death by a duck?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On Life and Love

On life and love…

Here I sit, almost directly in the center of the country of Iraq, nearly six years in to this war, and almost all I can think about is my love life. Or, more appropriately, the lack thereof.

A quick recap: I just passed the three-year anniversary of the day my soul mate died of cancer. There isn’t a day of that time gone by that I have not thought of her, and how much I miss her. A year ago at this time, I was involved with a woman who I very much believed I could be happy with; who I could share my life with and share hers. This was a feeling I had not thought I could have again. Now I sit half a world away in the middle of a war zone, single as can be, and not a soul to carry on my name if I should not make it back.

Is this a “woe is me” essay? Certainly not. It is more of a statement regarding my mental state during a very interesting time in my life. A year ago, I fell in to a trap of convincing myself I was in love with someone who was very wrong for me. I did so, in retrospect, because of my own loneliness, and my own inability to recognize how detrimental it can be to base a relationship on not wanting to be alone. I have seen friends go down that path many times, only to criticize them for it. Perhaps that was why I so desperately hung on; I refused to believe I was guilty of what I had been so critical of others doing.

And so it was that I foolishly wrapped my brain and heart around a woman who did not deserve it. I changed things about my life that I previously would never have done. I lived a lifestyle that was not mine and forced myself to believe it was the right thing to do, to keep hold of a woman who, in the end, only hurt me as well as others.

So why did I do it? Why did I believe that I was doing the right thing, when somewhere in the recesses of my puny little brain I knew that it was wrong? Is loneliness that much of a driving force? I believe that the answer is yes, it is. Of course, the question then arises, can it be mitigated, and if so, how?

When I first got to know K, I was in a place where I believed that “the one” did not exist; that it came down to finding a woman with whom a mutual attraction was shared, and enough commonalities existed so a good life could be made with them. She blew the roof off of that and showed me perfection could exist. And not just perfect in the common understanding of the word – where everything is hunky-dory and smiles all the time – but in a way that opened new doors which were previously not just closed, but unseen. Perfect in a way where someone whose faults are your strengths and vice versa; someone whose imperfections only make them that much more perfect, because they are imperfections which coincide with your own. To meet someone who challenges you in that way is remarkable by itself; to be attracted to the person and have them feel the same is a rare gem, indeed.

The point being, although I was lonely and looking for someone, she turned my world upside down by showing me “someone” would not do; I had to be shown that someone who is truly special will do for you what no one else will. So after losing her, my brain went from being totally in love with the perfect woman for me, to never wanting to be with anyone again, to finally believing – once again – I would have to find “someone” who I was attracted to and could be happy with. I did, and I tried like hell to make it work. Unfortunately (or luckily, as the case may be), she turned out to be someone who did not appreciate my efforts and, quite frankly, was bat-shit crazy to boot. Yet, because of my mental state when I met her and my efforts to convince myself I was in love with her, I am now torn up over not having her. I know she is bad for me, and I know she is a very unstable person, but here I am. Yes, it is stupid.

Which leaves me in my current state: do I try to find a woman with whom I share a mutual attraction and enough commonalities to carve out a life together, or hold out for that perfect someone (even though I believe that I have already met her)? Or is there a third option; to embrace loneliness as a way of life, and accept it as reality. I am, after all, very blessed in many regards. I have my health, my physical and mental abilities, a family that loves me, good friends, and above all else, a God in Heaven who accepts me and watches out for me. Is it selfish to want more? Yes, but that is also human nature. It is not an excuse, just a plain and simple truth.
The advantage – or disadvantage, depending on one’s point of view – I have, is that I can do nothing to change this for quite a while. The next 300 plus days – God willing – will be spent with me in the land where time began and things like dating and finding one’s soul mate are not exactly at the top of the list of priorities. I know after a year the answers will not magically become known to me, and I will come back to a world where it is just as confusing as it was when I left. But I do believe that the time away will do me some good. I think the lack of opportunity to date or meet women will force me to accept this current state as my reality. It is who I am, for now. I am not a husband or lover or a boyfriend or a father; I am a soldier. That is all.

And for now, that is all I need to be or should be. God put me where I am, and if He wants me home to do other things with my life, He will get me there. It is not my place, especially at this time, to question that. So tomorrow we embark upon what has the potential to be the most dangerous mission we will go on for quite some time. The 1st Armored Division Army Band has decided to play a concert in downtown Balad, and we are part of the QRF for the event. I can’t really say this is the smartest idea I have heard of since being in the Army, but hey, what do I know? I’m just a lowly sergeant. Who am I to say this is a giant target of opportunity for anyone and everyone in the area who may have some leftover bombs they didn’t know what to do with. “Hey Ahmed, did you say you were looking to get rid of that mortar round? Well guess what…” Yeah. Not cool. Lol.

What I do know is that I will be downright pissed off if I get blown up or shot over some crap-tastic Army band. I may even sue.

Until next time…

P.S. I wrote all of this before the mission, which went off without incident. Much to the surprise of, well, everyone involved. This was also written before I had an epiphany regarding my recent relationship over which I was spending way too much time thinking about: mainly that things which had happened quite a while ago (and eventually leading to the demise of said relationship) suddenly made sense in the overall picture. Some things I should have seen a mile away at the time because they were obviously lurking in the back of my brain waiting for me to discover them. Suffice to say, I am no longer upset or sad in any way, shape or form for not being with this person anymore. And I have to say, it’s a pretty cool feeling, even if it was also a Homer Simpson-like “d’oh!” moment when it struck me. Kind of a “holy crap how did I not see that at the time” thing, which I am sure everyone has gone through. It just happened that I finally realized it while in Iraq, of all places. Well by golly, this trip was worth it, then!

And as a second P.S., this was also written before I came upon some “knowledge” about said relationship that cleared a few things up for me. I will qualify that by simply saying, it’s a small world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Smell Here in Iraq is...Phenomenal

Let's just begin by saying that this whole "war" thing is vastly overrated. I know, I know. You had hopes that it would be all Black Hawk Down/Saving Private Ryan/Road Warrior-ish. Not so much. Well, except for the vehicles. They are definitely something Mad Max would be proud of.

Although I am stationed at one of the small FOBs (Forward Operating Bases), I am at one of the big ones right now to square away a giant mess involving the aforementioned cool-guy vehicles. And I am here to tell you, for those of you who haven't been over here, this base is much, much nicer than you think. And over 80% of the people assigned to it never leave the wire. Which means that they are only "deployed" in a sense that they are away from their families. Don't get me wrong, it is a noble thing they are doing. I am thankful for it in every sense. What I find humorous is that people back home think everyone is "at war." The vast majority of these soldiers and airmen go to work every day just like you do; the only difference is that they carry a rifle (poorly, I might add) and do so in a stinky, dusty place that you can't leave.

It has been a serious eye-opener being here, seeing for the first time the "big Army" in action. I can tell you that, so far, I am not impressed and I want to run away screaming as soon as I can. As all three of the loyal readers know, I came from a small world in the Army -- 6th Ranger Training Battalion -- where training actually meant something; how you carried yourself was of importance; where people realized that you did things a certain way because if you didn't, you died. Or someone else you were with did. The big Army has lost sight of that, and things like wearing a reflective belt at night so cars don't hit you has become more important that physical fitness or weapons handling skills. Going to Cinnabon to get your Chilatta takes precedence over knowing battle drills.

I could go on, but the sad fact is that "the Army" as people from the outside think of it only exists in very small pockets -- namely the infantry and combat arms-specific fields. For the most part, the military is just civilian-like jobs with uniforms.

Speaking of which, the vast amount of civilian contractors here is amazing, and most of them wear uniforms as well. Interestingly enough, while I was in one of the offices here, this guy walks in and we stared at each other for a minute in disbelief of running into each other here. I worked with him on a couple of civilian details in the past, and it was quite amusing meeting in a place like this. Small world.

I wish I had more to say about the actual job, but most of what we have been doing is changing out with the old unit and preparing for the new. Hopefully we will get to do more work soon, as it has been pretty boring up to this point. And it should be quite interesting what happens in this country after the first of the year. After all, our new President elect personally promised me a unicorn and a Gulfstream flight home right after he takes office. I believed him. Totally.

I do have a lot more writting saved on my computer from this trip. The problem has been that I can only get online with the public computers and it is only for 30 minutes at a time. Which makes it a bit difficult to respond to all the emails as well as write here. I finally got a chance to get online with my laptop, but none of my writing has been edited, so....here we are. But tell all your friends and congressmen that this blog will soon be fully operational with regular updates and stories of saving the world. Or maybe just Iraq. Or maybe just the street we're on. I think we'll start from that and work out.

By the way, if you want to imagine what it's like here, just imagine southern Arizona/New Mexico/Texas, except everyone on every street dumps their trash right in front of their house rather than, say, a garbage can. And it never gets picked up. That's pretty much it.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"Training" Part II

Holy smokes, I actually shot some live rounds! And it was from a moving vehicle!! Now, granted, this was 20 minutes of training out of a 14 hour day, but by golly that was some good training.

Other than that, it's a whole lot of sitting around and developing our minds with some wicked-good conversation topics, e.g. debating whose movies suck more, Vin Diesel's or Keanu Reeves'. Its stimulating, I say.

Beyond that, I'm not going to lie to you, your tax dollars are completely wasted. Well, except for the MREs. Mmmmmm packaged food....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Train Up

As previously stated, Twisted Sense of Funny (TSOF for you military types) will be opening up shop in the land where civilization began within the next 6 weeks. In preparation for this little jaunt with the United States Army, yours truly is currently in train-up for the trip.

But before you go thinking that this implies some sort of high-speed, tactical, put-us-through-our-paces stuff, take a second to consider this: as of today, I am a day short of two weeks into this, and I have yet to fire one live round of ammunition. Is that important? Gee I hope not. I have, however, stood in a line that was literally five hours long so that I could have a financial advisor ask "need anything taken care of? No? Ok, you're good to go. Next!" What a monumental let-down that was; after that long of a wait, I was expecting to be cashing in on some Nigerian banking scheme or something.

At any rate, training should start picking up pretty soon as we begin to get the administrative details taken care of. What I am most concerned about is the fact that I have yet to see anything regarding "rocket-shooting motorcycle training" on the schedule at all. And I, for one, do not feel safe going overseas without being properly instructed on my equipment. Which brings me to my second complaint: that I have seen nothing related to "rocket-shooting motorcycle issue" on the schedule. Is it too much to ask to have proper gear when deploying? Apparently so...

Updates may not be as often as I would like, but hopefully the posts will become more interesting with the development of, say, something happening. This, as of yet, has not occurred. So I leave you with me sitting and watching the 9/11 anniversary memorial happening in New York City (at the same time of the morning which the event happened) and thinking back to when this long, strange trip of military service began for me. Oh and also there is a Major sitting next to me who is snoring like a little baby. How cute.

Friday, August 22, 2008

We Should Have Been Sneakier

But, alas, someone tipped off the coppers.

Once this gets cleared up, our Ninja skills will be much better. We will own the night. And possibly our parent's basements.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Flat Earth? Sure. Where do I sign up?

Knowing that there are good people out there like this still standing strong (like the ones mentioned in the last post) makes me think that everything is going to be alright.

I mean, for a while there I was starting to worry that all the sheeple in the world just believed everything they were told by "them." Now I know, thankfully, that hope remains alive.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Eye Opening

Thanks to a link off of Hot Air, I have now become aware of not only one of the greatest websites ever, but a chart that is quite possibly the end-all be-all of explanations for how the world turns.

The absolute best part of this chart? That your favorite twisted blogger is a part of it!! If you look at the icon for SOCOM, right below it is, that's right boys and girls, PsyOp. How good is this PsyOp program? Good enough that I had no idea I was part of a conspiracy that ran the world, obviously. Apparently we are part of some master plan that involves, among many, many other things, the fabrication of a "Doppelganger Bogeyman" named Osama bin Laden. Wow, are we talented or what? I for one am honored to be part of a unit with such an impressive track record. If I play my cards right, I could move up the chain all the way to the Bildeberger Group, and maybe even become a Rothschild (I do have a desert camouflage Yamika now, so the sky should be the limit there).

Of course the genius doesn't stop with just the chart. Oh no. The website from which it originates has got some real gems of knowledge to pass on, as well.

From the heading "War on Terror":

And why do many prominent experts agree that the primary results of the War on
Terrorism so far have been the resurgence of the heroin trade out of
Afghanistan, the promotion of extreme anti-American sentiment abroad, and the
erosion of domestic civil liberties?

Right. Because Afghanistan was a bastion of hope, prosperity and economic growth until we showed up. And note the inclusion of "prominent experts" without so much of a foot note or qualifier. That's totally credible. Plus, civil liberties have obviously erroded completely, which is why their blog....doesn't....run. Yeah.

There are several more bits of wisdom to be gained from this site. So many that I can't list them here. I think the most interesting (and scholarly!) part of the site is when they hyperlink something in the middle of a statement....that leads back to their own website. Again, this shows not only superb scholarship, but limitless credibility as mentioned above. We are all better people for having this on the World Wide Web (which, by the way, not just anyone can get on!).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why Twisted International Will Be The Greatest Thing In The World (And change the way you live your life)

As mentioned in the previous post, Twisted Sense of Funny is going international and will see first-hand what this whole "Middle East" thing is all about. I, for one, am supremely excited to sit with my Toshiba atop a camel and blog about the intricacies of things like Sharia law, proper wear of a burka, and how to make that "lulululululululululululu" sound in my throat.

But why is this important to you, the reader? Let us count the ways, my friends.

  • Political. Eventually, Twisted Sense of Funny will become so huge that politicians will visit regularly to seek insight on not only international conflict, but how to better incorporate ninjas into movies, television, and our public educational system. You want to get in on the ground floor of something like that.
  • Social. At some point, you are going to be a hip party and some really hot girl/guy/hermaphrodite is going to say "oh, did you read Twisted's latest post? So intriguing and thought provoking, don't you think?" Do you want to be the complete tool, drooling in your drink and wondering what they are talking about? I don't think so.
  • Religious. People, I am going to be living in the center of where it all began. Cities where Abraham lived and homos were burned surround the area I will be operating in. So there's a pretty good chance I could get to the bottom of why Arabs don't like Jews. Do you want to miss out on that?
  • Cultural. Most of you have seen Arabs on television, but have you ever read a highly-biased blog from a white guy who likes to make fun of people who are different, writing about them? That's better than an Anthropology course at Cambridge, dude.
  • Economic. What is the biggest economic issue of our day? No, not the home ownership thing. No, not the job thing, either. OIL! Sheesh. And where am I going to be? Saudi Arabia! Oh wait...no, not there. Somewhere near there, though. So that's pretty important. I think.
  • Dramatic Entertainment. Will Ahmed finally tell wife # 4 that he loves her more than wife #2? Will he finally stone wife #5 to death for not giving him a son? Stay tuned to this blog, ladies and gentlemen, if you want to find out.

As you can see, it's not so much a matter of debate as to the importance of reading this blog over the next year; it's a vital part to the general make-up of you as a person. It is about how you will define yourself for years to come, and it is about how you will shape the world around you. Really. I'm not kidding. Just ask me, I'll tell you.

Review and Preview

Things have been a bit hectic, and will get more so that way in the near future, so I will give a quick rundown on happenings past, present, and future.

A few weeks ago, I was talked into attending the Army's WLC (Warrior's Leadership Course) for the sake of future promotion. Sound high-speed? Yeah well, it's not. At all. In any way, shape, or form. It is, as a matter of fact, probably the most ridiculous thing I have been a part of so far in my Army career. And that, my friends, is really saying something.

Allow me to preface what I am about to write with short note. One day I hope to write a more encompassing and detailed view of how the Army could revamp its training to better train its soldiers and save the taxpayers vast sums of money while doing so. It is a subject that I am passionate and serious about, and believe my argument to be a well thought out and valid one. This post, however, will be more along the lines of a bitch session. Just to be clear.

WLC, for starters, is the first in a series of courses the Army uses to "develop" its NCOs (and, incidentally, a course I have been avoiding taking since 2003). One needs WLC to make Staff Sergeant, and subsequent courses to advance further in rank, etc. In theory, taking an E-4 or E-5 and putting them through a two-week course about leadership is a superb idea. And were it done right, this could be a valuable tool. Courses on principles of leadership, team management, the psychology of training/fighting, and personnel development would all be examples of classes that are NOWHERE TO BE FOUND at WLC. In place of those is instead a trip back to Basic Training with room inspections, uniform inspections, conducting physical fitness formations, classes on equal opportunity, and (my personal favorite) marching in formation and classes on how to do so properly. In a word, mind-numbing.

Here's the real kicker, no one in the Army takes this course seriously. Everyone knows it is a joke, and does it because it has to be done to get promoted. I watched the men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion dropping off their fellow Rangers to attend the course, their expressions said it all: have fun with the nonsense, it's a complete joke. In fact, the only people who do take the course seriously are the instructors who are, in my opinion, part of a dying breed; those last remaining members of the "old-school" Army who still believe that buffing a floor and marching in formation is the best way to instill discipline in a soldier.

Here is an example: as with nearly every course in the Army, the first thing to be done is the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test). Push-ups for 2 minutes, sit-ups for 2 minutes, and a 2 mile run for time. Well, this is the new Army, see. The standards have changed to accommodate...everyone, apparently. So the passing of the APFT is no longer mandatory for the completion or graduation of the course. However, and this is a big however, at WLC soldiers are also tested on how to conduct a PT formation -- lining people up, stretching, extending the formation, the verbiage used to do so, and how to finish it, etc. This is actually a fairly detailed process, and remembering how to do it all is somewhat difficult, especially for those of us who have never done it, and were never a part of a unit who did it since basic training. I honestly didn't know that it was actually used outside of basic training, to be honest. Well, it is. And it is tested at WLC. And it is mandatory for completion of the course. Yes, you heard that right. You don't actually have to be in shape, or know how to get others in to shape, but by golly you better know how to march them out to the PT field and you damn sure better use the right words once you get there.

Is this how we develop leaders? By ignoring the standards and skills required to survive on the battlefield? It gets better. Next came "weapons immersion." This is just a cute way of saying "you are being issued an M-16 and you have to carry it everywhere with blanks in it." Super. Their reasoning? To make soldiers more familiar with carrying a weapon so that when they go overseas they won't do something stupid. Ok, fair enough. But during the briefing we discovered that, should a soldier have a negligent discharge, that would be a warning. And if he had a second, that would be a stronger warning. And if he had a third...well, they might think about doing something. But if there was a fourth, dammit big Sarge, we are going to seriously consider dropping you from the course. Ummm....what?? A few days later, while people were cleaning in the barracks, one of the females nearly started hyperventilating over the fact that I wasn't buffing my floor, saying "this is serious." I looked at her and calmly said "I can fail the APFT and notionally shoot four people in the face without them kicking me out. I don't think they will if my floor isn't buffed." For me, this falls under the category of the Army itself not taking the course seriously, so why should I. Arrogant, perhaps. But valid, none the less.

Keep in mind, this isn't about me complaining because it was tough or hard or the suck factor; I have been through R.I.P. (Ranger Indoctrination Program), SFAS (Special Forces Assessment and Selection) and lived and trained at a Ranger Battalion for almost three years. I know what hard is, and I know what being "in the suck" is about in a training environment. And because of that I also know that training of that nature is hard and it sucks because it has to. That is the nature of it. WLC is not hard at all, and the "suck factor" is in no way the same. It doesn't fulfill a purpose. There is no selection or weeding out process (a good 10% of the class would have been dropped from the APFT alone). It's just a lot of nonsense for the sake of, well... because they've done it that way for years, don't ya know.

I could go on (and probably will in more detail at a later date), but the fact is that my time at WLC was cut short due to a dental issue. Apparently a massive infection in the root of a molar going all the way to the jaw bone is a big deal. So, after having that taken care of I was sent home for missing "too much time" of the all-important WLC. Yeah, no way I could have ever caught up with that high-speed class. They gave me the option of finishing the class and having the surgery done at home, but being a Reserve soldier, that meant possibly paying for it out of my own pocket. No thanks. On the off-chance I should decide to further my time in the Army, I will just attend the course at a later time.

On that note, most people who read this probably already know, but in case there are still a few out there who don't, I will be mobilizing with my unit to go to "The Big Show" overseas in about a month. Basically what I'm saying is, Twisted Sense of Funny is going International! I can see all kinds of opportunity for crazy blog-posts with this endeavor. I'm pretty sure that The Middle East is completely wireless now, so I should be able to blog from just about anywhere. Good times, I'm tellin' ya.

But until then I am sitting at home, training, studying, and... watching some really bad television right now. Maybe I'll do a post about that in a few minutes. I seem to have a lot of aggression built up after the last few weeks, so maybe unleashing it on what I am watching will provide some good entertainment.

Until then...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Ship Has Come In

Well it's been a good ride, folks. But I received an email last night which is, for lack of a better term, my golden ticket to a better life -- and a big goodbye to this crappy one!

Apparently the Central Bank of Nigeria is in possession of a $19.5 million inheritance which has been reserved for me and only me (and possibly the president of the bank). I know, I know, it sounded a little fishy to me at first, too. But take a look at how it is signed:


That's right, Officially Signed. And below that was a picture of him. In a suit! You don't fake stuff like that. You just don't.

But why me, you may be asking? Well my friends, the best explanation is that sometimes good things happen to good people, and sometimes great things happen to great people. You see, what it all comes down to is that I am better than you. And the great people of Nigeria recognize that, which is why they selected me. Rather than you. I know it stings, but use it as a learning experience. Maybe if you were stronger, faster, more attractive, or perhaps just...better than what you are, then they would have chosen you. But they didn't, as evidenced by the completely personal email addressed to me and explaining that I have been chosen. Above you. And everyone else in the whole world.

So try not to miss me too much. I'm off to Nigeria where fortune and glory awaits. So long, suckers!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Greatest Athlete Debate

After reading the Wall Street Journal article I saw linked today on the subject, I felt the need to weigh in with my super-duper high-speed opinion (because you care, dang nabbit). The WSJ, which is, in my opinion, an outstanding source for political writing and world events, obviously is quite lacking in the department of athletics.

A few things jumped out at me upon viewing the list and reading the reasoning behind it. One, I don't see any cyclists or triathletes. I don't think anyone pushes their body to the limits as much as they do. Two, I see a boxer on the list yet not one MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter. Wrong answer. And three, there's a baseball player on there. Eh? On the top ten athletes in the world?

First off, I disagree with a ranking of this type anyway. But it makes for good conversation so let's pick it apart and I will address each of my three complaints for the fun of it.

Roman Sebrle: I think a decathlete is a great choice, even if it's kind of a stupid sport to go into. I mean, these guys obviously have insane athletic ability and chose a sport to dedicate themselves to that will eventually take them....where, exactly? Oh yeah, the Olympics are great, but then what? Basically you would have to get a real job after that. Pssshaaw. Whatever.

Lebron James: Meh. Yes, basketball players must be great athletes. I know that. But is there any need for serious strength? Endurance, yes (both muscular and cardiovascular). But actual strength required is very little. Putting him as #2 is pretty weak.

Floyd Mayweather, jr.: A phenomenal athlete, to be sure. However, why a boxer and no MMA guys? A boxer trains one thing: boxing. This requires speed, strength, endurance, hand-eye coordination, and mobility on one's feet. MMA, by comparison, requires all of these, but on an entirely different level. One must be good at boxing, kick-boxing, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu jitsu if they have any hope whatsoever of competing at a decent level. Not to take away from Mayweather, but if he were to step into the ring with a top level MMA guy (take someone at his weight class like Urijah Faber or BJ Penn) and he would get worked over in a matter of a minute or two. There is no aspect of athletics that an MMA fighter can be lacking in to be good.

Ladainian Tomlinson: I think this guy should be higher than Lebron, because he has to execute athletic skill -- speed, coordination, power -- while men twice his size are trying to kill him. Awesome.

Roger Federer: I used to think tennis was gay. Then I competed at Wimbledon and won like five titles and gained a little respect for it. Still gay, but pretty cool, I guess.

Sidney Crosby: Another who should be higher than Lebron James. Hockey players must have incredible hand-eye coordination, stamina, strength, and pain tolerance. In terms of "toughness" I would argue these guys are as high as football players and fighters.

Liu Xiang: Sorry dude, jumping over little things in your path does not warrant top ten status. Maybe if people were trying to tackle you while you did it or something, but....no.

Jeremy Wariner: Does being really, really fast for 400 meters warrant "Greatest Athlete in the World" status? I've seen some dudes on the show COPS that were wicked fast for that long, but then they usually get hit by a car or fall off of a wall or something and break a leg. Unimpressive.

Ronaldo: Anyone who knows me knows I love to play soccer. And I believe that these are some of the greatest athletes in the world. However, two areas where they are greatly lacking (usually) is in upper-body strength and toughness. The whole "diving" issue -- i.e. faking an injury to get a call -- has become so out of hand it's hard for me to even watch the game. I think that they are tougher than they let on, but they need to start proving that to the world.

Alex Rodriguez: Again, seriously? Ok, does baseball require tremendous hand-eye coordination? Absolutely. Does it require power (albeit in short bursts)? Definitely. But what about speed? Not unless you are a base-stealer (rare). Endurance? Neither muscular or cardiovascular required to be "great" at America's pastime. Is anyone trying to hit you with the bat? No? Let me know when that happens and then we'll talk.

I would sooner put Tiger Woods on this list than a baseball player. Some people don't think of golfers as great athletes, but consider this: part of sports or athletics is the relationship of mind to body. In any sport, an athlete must face the "demons" in his own mind. Be they fear of being in front of people, fear of getting hit, fear of just plain losing, etc., every athlete must conquer and silence these demons to perform at his/her best. Where golf is different than other sports is that a golfer does not "react" to an opponent. This means that instead of relying on muscle memory and training to create a visceral, primal response, he or she must think their way through the action. All while under the watchful eye of everyone, and with only their own thoughts screaming in their head. Those who have not done it may think that makes it easier; not even by a mile. When a hockey player has a puck flying at him, or a fighter has a punch shooting at him, their brain and body react to this based on training. After thousands of hours spent in training, muscle memory takes over and creates an almost primal response without consciously being aware of it. A golfer has too much time for this, and is "reacting" to a completely stationary object. This window of time actually works against the golfer, as it provides all the opportunity in the world for those demons to creep in. That is why, when discussing the relation of mind and body, a golfer ranks as high as anyone.

My own opinion? Being a soldier who takes fitness development pretty serious (as it can be paramount to success in the job), I look for ways to condition myself in the most appropriate way. What I have found is that MMA fighters and the way they train is probably the most grueling as well as being the most intense type of training out there. No other sport requires every skill set that makes one an athlete developed at such a high level. I believe that cyclists and marathoners (triathletes, obviously) have MMA guys beat when it comes to endurance, no question about it. Yet they lack development in hand-eye coordination, lateral movement, brute strength, and the threat of being injured from an external source. No one is trying to punch you or kick you while you are running a marathon. Football players and hockey players would come closest in this category, but their work-period is rarely longer than one minute. Take a look at this video for an example of MMA-style conditioning (and this training doesn't even address the actual skill set development, which would also have to be undertaken).

Overall point, do I think that MMA fighters are the greatest athletes? No, because I don't think that you can compare realistically from sport to sport. It's tough enough to compare within the same sport (was Ronnie Lott better than Jerry Rice? Two different skill sets, but both were amazing), so going beyond those boundaries is next to impossible. I would just like to see MMA receive the respect it deserves. One, because these guys are tremendous athletes, and two (more importantly), this is absolutely superb training for military and law enforcement. Both the mind and skill sets needed transfer directly into high-intensity conflict careers and can not only bring a soldier or police officer to a higher level of operational ability, but can potentially save his or her life, or the life of someone they are trying to protect. Not necessarily because the soldier or officer will be engaging in a brawl, but the mental preparation developed from this training is exactly what one needs to stay calm under pressure.

Am I biased? Of course I am, but keep in mind, I just defended golf for crying out loud. No one defends golf when talking about athletics. But also remember that I am an aficionado of athletics in nearly every form, as it shows not just what the human body is capable of, but what the mind can drive the body to accomplish. No one rises to the top in any sport solely on athletic ability; they must also posses the mental attributes needed to drive them to a higher level, as well as fight out the demons which will most certainly convince you that you aren't strong enough, fast enough, or good enough to win. But doggone it, people still like you.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Psychologizing My Brain

Want an update on the last month? Sit down, strap in, and hold on; it's going to come at you fast and furious.

The end of April brought me to the awe-inspiring Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Which, as we all know, is world famous for.... uhh..... ?? Anyway, moving right along... the purpose of my visit there was to become qualified as a Psychological Operations soldier in today's illustrious Army Reserves. Sound high-speed? If it did, then my first job as a PsyOp'er is successful because that means I got you to believe some wickedly inaccurate propaganda. Well, unless of course your idea of "high-speed" is ten-hour sessions of Power Point, seven days a week. If that be the case, then there was no need to PsyOp you because you have already been PsyOped by someone whose Kung Fu is way stronger than mine.

To put it bluntly: I never been so bored in my entire life. High school went by quicker. At one point an instructor asked a friend of mine a question. As opposed to most people in the same situation who would try to fake an answer and make it sound as if they were paying attention, he responded with a confident "oh I have no idea," and promptly went back to his happy place. When we asked him later about it he said "seriously, I had no idea what the question even was; I was thinking about boobs." That about sums up where most of our minds went just to pass the time.

In all honesty I have no idea what half of the classes were about. I have a pretty good handle on what it is that PsyOp does -- a tactical, strategic version of a marketing campaign -- but most of the classes ran together so badly that I'm pretty sure I actually designed several space stations in my brain while trying to stay awake. Heaven forbid that the Army uses examples from businesses who make billions convincing people to buy things they don't need -- Nike, Budweiser, seat-belt makers -- they feel that reading and re-reading manuals first developed in the 1950's is just progressive enough, thank you very much. I tell you this, if the leaflets we dropped on the North Koreans aren't lesson enough for the future, then I guess this job is just not the place for you.

Where the real comedy came was when we all went out in to the woods for a "Field Training Exercise." I use the quotations because, well, it was only the "field" in a sense that we weren't at the barracks, but rather about ten minutes from them staying in a prison camp. Added on to that the fact that a large portion of the 69 students came from jobs like "legal assistant" or "graphic artist." Really? They have graphic artists in the Army? News to me, but here we are. And seeing people like that in the "field" is nothing but a good time. If you can't laugh in those situations, you're not human. One day I ended up with a guy who was a Military Intelligence specialist -- who also had a PhD in Biological Chemistry, go figure -- as my driver. Upon giving him direction on which way to turn, his response was to turn, look at me, and say "are you sure, sergeant?" No man, it was just a suggestion. We can ponder it and analyze it for a while, if you would like? Maybe do some research? Yeah, we've got time. Maybe even put it before a committee? Wow. To his credit, however, the guy was pretty smart and I have no doubt that he is exceptional at what he does. As long as split-second decision making is nowhere near his job description.

As with nearly every military school, this one seemed to be more about checking the block rather than providing quality training. During the FTX we would be handed a new mission and a change of leadership in each team 4 times a day. After running a couple of missions, one of the instructors criticized us for our lack of security and basic tactical awareness. So our next mission, those of us who had been in the infantry changed things around. At the end of the day, the head instructor told us "you guys are not infantry. You need to worry about the PsyOp mission only." Mixed signals much? Yes please, I'll take two servings. Where the funny comes is in seeing how rattled some soldiers get by this; getting all worked up because of conflicting guidance given. The simple fact is, there is no need to worry about it if the instructors aren't even on the same page (a fact that a couple of them freely admitted to us while in private).

By the end of the course I was truly wondering if I had made the right decision in terms of job choice when coming in to the Reserves. Were it not for some very high quality individuals that I met and will be working with, I'm really not sure what I would do. Just like everything else in life, however, those you are with can make or break it. And I can say that I am truly honored -- and humored beyond belief -- to be working with some of these people.

Since returning I have been doing a lot of PsyOp work on my own brain. It's a complicated story and involves one of those "moments of clarity" that would take digging deep into my brain, and that's kind of a scary place to be honest. Let's just say that things are much clearer now up in the ol' noggin and leave it at that for now. After all, there can be only so much psychologizing in one sitting. So excuse me, I'm gonna go zone out for a bit and think about boobs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

If There Were An Award For Biggest Geek Ever...

It would go to me, because I would be wearing these pants (and looking mightily hot, I might add).

I think that's the nerdiest thing I have ever seen. But at least now there is a standard: "Hey, what's the nerdiest thing you've ever seen?" Well my friends, now that question can be easily answered.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Keep Your Head Up

A collection of hockey hits to remind everyone that it's playoff season. Go Avs, go Sharks.

A classic battle of two incredible fighters (is it wrong to laugh at that? Morally, I mean...).

An extremely rare glimpse at one of the deadliest of all Ninjas -- the drunken Street Ninja!

And if anyone wonders why I am currently immersing myself in Brazilian jiu jitsu rather than, say, kung fu or something like that, here would be one example, and yet another here if you're bored.

Quick Book Review (And Then Back to Funny)

Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. Go buy it right now and read it. Now. Go. Hurry up.

Seriously though, this is a fascinating book that basically centers on what fascism really is and how, in today's society, our ideas of it and our understanding of "right" and "left" when concerning politics is, essentially, a bit skewed (and not all that accurate).

Filled with page after page of "whoa, I didn't know that" and "I never thought of it that way" type stuff, the book is incredibly well researched and worth every minute of your time if you are at all interested in the nature of politics today and the history behind it. I can't recommend it highly enough for someone interested in history and/or current affairs.

I won't bother with the details (read the description at the link provided) unless the debate happens to kick up in the comment section (from any one of the four of you who still read this blog).

Update: The blog for the book and answers to some criticism of it can be found here.


I'm not even sure where to begin with this one...

Let's suspend our belief in reality for just a minute and actually subscribe to the nonsense that is the debate on global warming. Does that make it ok to compare it to what can be regarded as one of the most heroic events of the 20th century by American service members?

Update: Hot Air, as usual, beat me to it for commenting on it.

Here's where it doesn't make sense to me: for the most part, the concern of global warming lies on the left side of the political aisle (correct me if I'm wrong). The same side which, by and large, is adamantly opposed to war of all kinds these days. Unless, as I'm seeing it now, it can be used for "propaganda" for their own cause.

Am I missing something?

Getting Serious For Just a Minute

Recently I have been listening to the album The Warrior's Code by the Dropkick Murphys quite a bit, and today I happened to look at the lyrics to one of the songs. For the most part, I am not a lyrics guy; I won't even really pay attention to the words of a song until I've heard it a number of times. But a couple of their songs struck me as rather poignant, and this one in particular hit me hard after reading their description of it in the liner notes.

I thought about reprinting them here, but for certain reasons I decided just to provide the link. So follow that and click on the green tab to the right of the song "Last Letter Home" (it's the 13th track). Then read the reason behind the lyrics and song at the bottom. It's not the greatest song, but the words are pretty powerful for obvious reasons.

And, if you have time, do yourself a favor and read the lyrics to "Green Fields of France" while you are there. Them Irish know how to bring tears to your eyes, by golly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Alien vs Predator II (Aka the Culmination of My Being)

Do you have any idea of the full-fledged awesomeness that I am about to partake in? If you are like me, then of course you do, and are completely jealous of the fact that, at 9:06 a.m., I am sitting down to watch Alien vs. Predator: Requiem while still in my shorts and t-shirt (pants are way overrated). If, on the other hand, you are not like me and you have no idea what this movie is all about, I think that you should probably be banned. And no, I don't just mean from this blog; I'm talking about life and all of its pleasures, as well. Suck it up, loser. You just don't match up.

Ok, I just hit play, so this could get pretty wild real fast. Do your best to keep up, 'cause I'm not waiting for you. These plot lines are bound to be thick and twisted, so if you have a headache or something, it's probably best that you just sit this one out.

The movie starts where the last one left off, with the Predator guys in their spaceship and an Alien popping out of the chest of a Predator that died. It also appears that they have kept a lot of live "sample" aliens for future use. I'm sure that won't come back to haunt them. The ship crashes back to earth where a guy and his son are deer hunting in the woods. Oh they are gonners for sure. Yup, the dad just lost an arm from acid Alien blood. Dude, didn't you see the movie? That stuff burns!

Now we see the sleepy mountain town nearby... oh super, it's in Colorado. First Red Dawn and now this. And people think I'm silly for stockpiling all these weapons and Cheerios. Oh good, it looks like the local law enforcement found the wreckage of the space ship. They'll know how to handle it. They always do. Small town cops are known for their awesome skills in action movies. Whoops. False alarm. The sheriff only found a bum in a sewer. My bad, the lighting in this movie sucks.

But we are introduced to what appears to be the hero of the story. How do I know? 'Cause he's a geeky kid who delivers pizza and gets beat up by the popular jock. These kids always end up as heroes. And get the girl. Which makes....no sense, whatsoever. Back in the woods, the guy who was hunting with his kid just up-chucked an Alien out of his chest. Whoa, so did his kid. That's not going to be easy to explain to Mom. Back in town we now see a woman who is coming back from...war? She is in Marine digital desert cammo fatigues, sporting a US Army patch, an American flag on the wrong shoulder... and she has some night vision goggles in her bag that her daughter is rummaging through. I have five or six sets myself, because the Army (or Marines...whatever) never keeps track of sensitive items like those.

Well the Aliens just found the bum and Sheriff in the sewer. LUNCH! But never fear, it looks like more Predators are on the way. The chief boot-knocka of all Predators just landed and he doesn't look happy. He is gearing up for some serious action. He could seriously use a training montage right now. That always helps.

The geek-hero is now down in the sewer with his older brother. Why? Because that's where people go in action movies. Duh. Back to the woods with a huge search party for the guy and his kid. Whoa, the Predator just found the bodies and dissolved them with some blue liquid and offed one of the deputies who saw him do it. And....now the deputy is strung up from a tree. The messed up part here is that no one is saying "hey, these bodies are just like the ones in that movie Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger. We should watch out for chameleon-like alien creatures." They act like they've never seen the movie, but who hasn't?

Super-Predator and Alien-Predator hybrid just battled it out in the sewer system. Of course it spilled out into the streets, as these things usually do. Too bad for the waitress at the local diner. I bet she was a slut, anyway. I'm not going as far as saying she deserved it, but she looked like a girl who would definitely cheat on her boyfriend and feel justified in doing so. Hooker.

Geek-hero and the girl are going swimming at the local pool. She's showing a lot of skin, so I wouldn't be surprised if Jason from Friday the 13th shows up any minute. Meanwhile, the Alien/Predator battle has spilled over to the energy plant and shut the power off for the whole town. They really needed to think of an alternative energy source, anyway. That thing was just a giant pollution factory leading to global warming. Greedy, corporate fat-cats getting rich off of the earth's demise. That's why Predator is here; retribution for our selfish destruction of mother earth.

The whole town is on alert now; running, screaming, crying. There may even be some dancing, I'm not sure. The geek-hero, his older brother and the hot chick found their way to the sporting goods store and are loading up. And now the National Guard have arrived in what could be described as the fastest response time ever, but their effectiveness was just about on par with Hillary Clinton's ability to relate to the common man. In other words, their all dead. Apparently they never saw Aliens. Alien-Predator hybrid has found its way the maternity ward of the hospital. Suffice to say that it ended poorly for...well, everyone. Unless prospective parents actually wanted to raise an alien who's blood would melt your skin and it would kill you and lay eggs in your chest. Everyone wants something different these days.

The hero group found where the National Guard showed its lackluster ability and, in a nice twist, took the armored vehicle they showed up in. Usually the main characters aren't smart enough to actually take useful equipment. Yet, they are insisting on finding a helicopter. Why? Take the Stryker and drive into the mountains. Or to Las Vegas. Man that town is hoppin'. Always something to do. But no, they go to the hospital, where the Hybrid has set up a breeding lab for its next generation. Its probably doing stem-cell research, too. Oh, the horror.

Wow! In one of the coolest friendly fire incidents ever, the hot chick got caught in the crossfire of a giant Predator throwing star and pinned to a wall. And the geek-hero took an alien tail through the back a minute later! I didn't see that coming at all. He's still alive, though. And the ever-menacing Army general, watching from an AWACS bird, is preparing to wipe out the town.

No. Friggin'. Way. The older brother just told the rest of the group to "get to the chopper!" If he covers himself in mud and makes a bow and arrow out of tree roots, I am going to wet myself. Predator has taken notes from Indiana Jones and is now using a whip to decapitate his adversaries. Sweet.

After a battle to the death between Boot Knocka and Hybrid-boy, the entire town is wiped out via Nuke strike, but our heroes got out with helicopter (which I am calling BS on because it was a Huey, and those things can't out-run a 4-year old on a tricycle, let alone a nuclear explosion). Only to be taken in by some Force Recon Marines, who I had no idea worked in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Shows what I know.

All in all, this was probably without a doubt the most complete movie I've seen in a long time. It really lacked for nothing: Guns? Check. Explosions? Check. Aliens using people as breeding machines? Double check. Hot chicks showing skin? I will say they could have made a lot better effort in this regard. I often got the feeling that they weren't even trying to throw in gratuitous nudity. That takes some serious credibility away from the movie itself, and drops at least one star from my rating. However, when considering a movie to put on while the rest of the world is at work and you are eating Fruit Loops in your pajamas, this ranks right near the top. Not the best in the series, but pretty darn good, none the less.

Stay tuned, as I think there is a new zombie movie out on DVD, as well.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Star Wars (Unleash The Fury)

I may have covered this subject before, but who cares. I'm bored, and after seeing a couple of the original and newer Star Wars episodes this week on Spike TV, I felt I needed to get some things off my chest. Namely, that I have come to the conclusion that, although the Star Wars films are a big part of my childhood -- and still hold a certain place of nostalgic value in my heart -- they are, for the most part, really crappy movies.

Yup, I said it. Bring on the nerd assault; I'm ready for it.

For starters, let's look at the first film which bore the title: A New Hope (which isn't the first, of course, because the ever-wise Mr. Lucas doesn't understand the concept of "chronological order," but more on that later). As we all remember, the movie begins with space ships and laser blasts and a menacing Darth Vader capturing a less-crazy Carrie Fischer (she hadn't married Paul Simon yet). This sticks out in a lot of peoples' minds because, at the time, nothing like it had ever been witnessed. So far, so good.

But then the focus shifts to the hero and focal point of the story: Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hammil who is, by the way, stumping for Barrack Obama, saying that he is the greatest person he has ever had the opportunity to vote for. Yowza). At this point the story begins to completely fall apart. How do I figure that, only ten minutes in to the first picture? This is where George Lucas actually is a genius; if looking at each individual movie, they work out ok. But when you factor in the entire story, it's pure crap. Look, if Obi-Wan took Luke to the planet of Tattooine in the first place, a) why did he hide them with DARTH VADER'S RELATIVES, and b) don't you think that maybe, just maybe, Obi-Wan could have been hooking him up with some cool Jedi skills while he grew up? Especially considering that he knew he would eventually take him to Yoda, who would talk some crap about how Luke is "too young to begin the training." Well gee, it's not like you didn't have control of this kid from the time he was an infant. I know, instead of keeping a close eye on someone who could very well have more power than anyone in the universe, let's foster him out to some people in the desert and we can just hope he doesn't get molested and end up in some weird cult practicing polygamy and farming out sex-droids.

But see, we forget all of that because "Oooh, look at the pretty colors and big explosions!" Yeah well, I didn't forget, dang nabbit!

As the story progresses, we meet Han Solo who, as Peter Griffin says "is the only actor who's career is not completely ruined by these movies." Han pretty much saves the movie, which is odd considering Luke is supposed to be the hero. But never mind that, go back to the story: Luke, after meeting Obi-Wan at what appears to be the age of 16-18 (way to keep close contact with the wonder-boy through his most formative years, Obi-Wan). Suddenly realizes he has to be a Jedi and do Jedi stuff. Obi-Wan proceeds to give Luke what equates to about a 10-minute block of instruction on light-saber laser-blocking before they end up on the Death Star and Obi-Wan sacrifices himself for...whatever reason. One that has never really become all that clear, even after six movies. Yeah, he says that he is "stronger" dead than alive, but whatever. I sure never saw him doing any training with Luke after he died. He just showed up as an apparition a time or two, spouting crap like "use the force." Thanks a lot, old man. If you had actually lived long enough to teach me what in the hell "the Force" actually is, that might be useful. Maybe.

Which leads me to something that has always bugged me; that Luke is a complete ninny. Again, if looking at the story as a whole, we see his father, Anakin, at his age kicking some major butt (and scoring with the ridiculously hot Natalie Portman, I might add. Which brings up another question: how many women did you see Luke with over the course of three movies? Hmmm...). But, like I said before, this could have been avoided had they actually shown some interest in the boy beyond that of a recovering alcoholic, dead-bet dad who shows up when the kid is fully grown and says "gimme a hug!" Let's just say that Luke, in today's society, would be on any sane person's watch list for possible assailants in future school-shootings.

And this brings me to my next point: That George Lucas was completely flying by the seat of his pants in creating this story. There are too many holes to think otherwise. There's no way you would have two people making out in one movie and then "surprise, you're brother and sister" in the next. Unless you are from Kentucky. Or have some serious mommy-issues. Whichever, the guy is a goof. If he had it all planned out, then why didn't Luke get trained as a boy? Why did he make out with his sister? Why wouldn't they change his name from "Skywalker"? Good job hiding him, guys. Put him with Darth Vader's in-laws and have him keep the name. Let's see, you have the ability to travel at/beyond light-speed across the universe, but you chose to "hide" Luke on the planet his now-evil father grew up on. Wow. And Jedis are supposed to be wise. Gotcha.

And what was it, exactly, that made the Empire so bad? This is yet another gaping hole in Lucas' story telling. We never have any concrete explanation of why the Empire is bad and the Rebellion is good. Even after the newer movies came out, trying to tell the back story, it never made any real sense. Maybe the Rebellion were actually terrorists? Perhaps the Empire was just trying to stop an insurgency running wild? We hear some nonsense about "trade federations" in the back story, but isn't that a good thing? Intergalactic trading would be necessary to keep up your economy, especially with the drain of illegal aliens on your Medicare program, would it not? Whatever the cause, it proves that Lucas made it all up well after making the originals; the first three movies give no indication as to why these two groups are fighting, only that one is decidedly "bad" and the other "good." I could go into a whole host of stereotypes that the films use to pull this off, basically insulting the intelligence of every audience member, but that would take too long. And it would be boring. And I seriously doubt anyone is even still reading at this point...

Beyond all of that, my notes kinda trickle into a cursing tirade about how Lord of the Rings is better and how Natalie Portman doesn't return the letters I sent her with my toe-nail clippings. Really not much else to say, because everyone knows that there was never anything really deep or innovative about these stories, and that Jar-Jar Binks was Lucas's way of coming out of the closet. They were basically vehicles for revolutionary special effects, using simplistic plot lines and wickedly-bad acting that happened to come at a time in people of my generation's formative years that forever rendered them to a nostalgic place in our memories because they were so different.

Compare that to the series of movies containing the word "Predator" in the title. If you want to see in-depth story telling at its best, then look no further than that, my friends. Alien Vs. Predator part 2 comes out on DVD tomorrow, so don't even bother calling me. I won't answer. I will be engrossed.

Remember in X Men...

...when they started off the story by telling how sometimes in human evolution there are "great leaps" forward? Yet, when you watch the movie and see some of these mutants, you think "hey, that kinda sucks as far as a "great leap" for that kid." I mean, you have mutants that can walk through walls, mutants that can fly, and then you have some goofy kid that his only power is that he can write...without a pen. Super. "Hey buddy, I know we never take you on cool missions, but that is because it is soooooo important that you stay behind and take....notes. On stuff. Yeah."

Now we have a case of art imitating life (I guess) with, ready for it.... Tree Man! I have to be honest, I'm not even sure where to begin. I mean, talk about getting the shaft on evolutionary "leaps forward." What the heck is he supposed to do with that? What super-villain will he be able to thwart with roots for feet and hands? Unless someone made up of pure carbon dioxide tries to conquer the world, I'm thinking this guy isn't really going to be much help. Just sayin'.

In all seriousness, how suck-tastic would that be, anyway? Wow. Just...wow.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wanna Hear A Funny Story?

For those of you who have read this blog for a while, my involvement with -- as well as distaste for -- the U.S. Army is not news. Recent developments, however, may be.

Due mostly to the fact that I should have my head examined by professionals, I am back in the big green machine. But this time it is under the banner of the auspicious Army Reserves. Which, as I am becoming aware, is not really the Army, but not really...anything else, either. It's a land where everyone involved has a "real" job, yet they still go off to war. Regularly.

To be quite honest, my involvement is multi-faceted: For starters, I still had one year and nine months left in what is called the Individual Ready Reserves. That meant that I could be called up at any time to do any job for the needs of the Army. Not cool, especially considering a good friend of ours got pulled under this same action to do who knows what. This means the Army could turn me into a cook or a truck driver or...whatever. Maybe even an Infantryman. Yikes. That's scary. Oh wait...

At any rate, this was a major concern of mine. One of the major reasons I joined the Army instead of another branch was because I had more control over my own destiny (and because of those snazzy berets. Touche!). With the IRR, that control was completely taken from me.

This left me with a dilemma: I could rejoin the regular Army and go back to my old job of jumping out of planes and carrying a lot of weight on my back for a really long distance (I think I just threw up a little, in my mouth), or find a new way of applying myself for Uncle Sam. After doing some searching and a lot of talking with guys who have been around for a while and experienced different parts of the military, I settled on Psychological Operations. Not a very well-understood end of the Army, PsyOp is conjoined with Civil Affairs as their own command in the Army Reserve, as the vast majority of their personnel are made up of weekend warriors. Essentially their job centers around morale; both of our own troops and of the enemy. This could mean blasting some Pantera from a helicopter while the good guys kick in some doors or playing some anti-hajji propaganda from a loudspeaker to convince the bad guys that they are losing. Badly. So give up, already. Losers.

After speaking with the First Sergeant of the unit (never go through recruiters, go directly to the source), this seemed like a pretty decent opportunity. I will get some good training out of it and even some employment (not having a job rocks, but the bank doesn't like it nearly as much when the monthly payment for the SUV that I just *had* to have is due). Once I go to the school to qualify as an actual PsyOp guy, then a few doors to other training opportunities will open. Namely, the chance to be a tuba player. Which is, after all, a lifelong dream of mine.

I have already done my first drill with the unit (that ought to be its own post, really) as well as a 3-day Combat Life Saver class (battlefield trauma medicine -- i.e. shoot back, stop the bleeding, and get the %&$! out of there). It is a different place than what I was used to on active duty, to be sure. For instance, I have never seen a meeting take place where a Major -- commander of the unit, mind you -- asks a lowly E-5 what he thinks the unit should do for training next month. Also of note should be that this same E-5 didn't even have a uniform at this time, and was sporting his latest REI shirt and pants rather than the ACUs that everyone else was wearing. You want to know my opinion, sir? Oh heck yeah, I like where this is going. Do we have access to any gunships? Predator drones? Supermodels? Yeah well, it didn't hurt to ask, right?

Things run a might different here in Reserve land, but... to be honest, that suits me just fine right now. I'm sure that at some point I will say "man, I sure wish I was wearing an 80 lbs ruck sack and walking 20 miles right now" but I sure ain't saying it now. And this whole "sleep in every day except for one weekend a month" thing isn't too bad, either. I'm guessing that when I leave for training in a month that I won't have that, but that means I will be learning the crafty art of PsyOp. And there's no way the Army can make that boring, right? RIGHT?!?!!

So, in the next few months (about 19 of them, to be exact), there should be a lot more material on here for you to get a chuckle out of. I do have somewhat of a renewed desire to write, so who knows what may happen next.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

All You Need To Know About The Presidential Race

In these topsy-turvy times, it is tough to know where politics are headed, and whom shall be at the helm. That is why I am here; to offer up my vast insight into the presidential race and what each candidate can offer, why they offer it, whether or not it's realistic, and of course, can they pull it off. Oh, and also if they are gay.

So, let's take a look at who we have (for sake of balance, we'll keep the order completely random, thereby confusing the hell out of everyone reading).

Rudy Giuliani:

What's his deal? Something about being mayor of a big city out east during a catastrophe. I think he was a lawyer for the mob, too.

Can he win? Well, dropping out of the race certainly doesn't appear to have helped his chances, so we'll see how that strategy plays out for him.

Why he won't win: Historians will argue for years over the reasons why, but I assure you, look no further than that goofy lisp thing he has when he talks. That's just....weird.

John Edwards:

What's his deal? Beautiful hair, smooth skin, and a smile that could make any HMO concede defeat.

Can he win? Another case of using the bold, strategic move of dropping out before it's finished, Edwards has really gambled on this one. My guess is that he is using the classic "hard to get" move I perfected with my numerous love conquests. Always leave them wanting more.

Why he won't win: Simply put, he has too much leadership experience and it intimidates the hell out of people.

Fred Thompson:

What's his deal? Tallest of all the candidates, his physical presence and southern drawl make the ladies swoon. Plus his wife is the hottest of all the candidates' wives (including Hillary's).

Can he win? While choosing not to campaign may have a negative impact on his hopes, I believe that his work at controlling a terrorist situation from the tower in Die Hard 2 speaks for itself. Calm under pressure, thy name is Fred.

Why he won't win: Die Hard 2 was clearly the worst out of all four movies, and I felt basically robbed after seeing it.

Mike Huckaboob:

What's his deal? I don't know, but if you don't believe it, he will throw you into a pit of fire.

Can he win? Chuck Norris says he can, and apparently Chuck's tears cure cancer, so that's one heck of an endorsement.

Why he won't win: Declining popularity and a striking similarity to that pastor who got caught with the male hooker aside, his real downfall will be the Jews.

Barrack Obama:

What's his deal? Change! Hope! Dreams! Dreams about hope and change!! And Oprah!

Can he win? Not only believing in hope, but dreaming of it, and knowing that it can change the future, will enable us to hope and dream about what can be, what will be, and what should be. This change, which we have all hoped and dreamed of for so long, should be ours, not just for our sake, but also for the sake of our children. Dream it. Hope for it. Change it.

Why he won't win: If you find any substance in the above paragraph whatsoever, then explaining any further will be quite pointless. Racist.

Mitt Romney:

What's his deal? Mormon. Cult leader. Found golden tablets under a rock and moved his people to Salt Lake City where they could marry their sisters and no one would get mad.

Can he win? We all, secretly, want to elect Ward Cleaver as the leader of the free world.

Why he won't win: Regardless of impeccable morals, marrying one's sister seems to leave a bad taste in quite a few people's mouth. Who knew?

Hillary Clinton:

What's his deal? Hillary brings the most real-world experience to the table, as well as the most testosterone next to Fred Thompson.

Can he win? Could George Patton's wife won the Battle of the Bulge? Could Sherman's mistress have beaten the Confederates at Vicksburg? If you say no, you're a sexist bastard and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Why he won't win: Strong on nearly every issue, the only downfall of this "super-candidate" will be their undying loyalty to their values; holding strong to what they believe no matter what the media says. When it could possibly help to be strategic and play the political game, Hillary's undoing will come from following the path of truth, regardless of the outcome.

John McCain:

What's his deal? He hates gooks.

Can he win? Apparently Rambo thinks he can. I saw the new Rambo this week and, I have to tell you, that was the bloodiest movie I've ever seen. I mean they kill everybody. Women, children, pigs... Rambo then goes on a tear. He didn't want to, but dammit if they didn't pull him into it. And well, he is a killer. It's in his veins. It's what he was trained to do. They drew first blood, not him. He didn't ask for that war, they asked him. Then he goes back to his home in, wait a minute... Arizona! That's McCain's state! Man, this is tying in nicely.

Why he won't win: Ever seen one of your grandparents fly in to a spitting rage about how ignorant young people are? Now imagine four years of that.

Ron Paul:

What's his deal? Pure, un-diluted genius.

Can he win? Without question, Paul lays claim to the most stable, well educated, articulate supporters on the campaign trail. They will pick apart anyone who stands in his way with thought provoking, well planned arguments.

Why he will win: Google "Ron Paul debate" and be prepared to be humbled.

Well, there you have it for now. I will try to keep you updated as changes occur. Why, I'm not really sure. Spare 22 minutes of your time to watch this and tell me this isn't what we're facing.