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January 17, 2010


Pirate baby! ("But where has the rum gone?")

Your son is in training to be The Punisher?

Arrgh! Maity!

...brunch? Mimosas, maybe?

cent' giorni! (I think.)

Bloody mary's for me.

Your son is in training to be The Punisher?

Judging by my sleep deprivation, pretty much.

Spur son got off easy; we dressed my daughter in the full-fledged Korean princess costume.

So as I alluded to in another thread, I'll (alas) rather soon be drawing my reasonably long-running ObWi reading career, such as it were, to a close. In a fairly impressive show of political hypocrisy, I shall in less than two week's time be shipping out to Army BCT as an officer candidate. My motivations can be summed up as largely financial; faced with academic burnout, a CV that's heavier on the academic than the professional (and this lovely buyer's labor market makes that even more of a handicap than usual), and a great whopping heap of student loans, I decided around summer's end to sign up for a three year stint. Army was chosen over other services because, well, they offered better incentives, notably more widely available access to ye olde loan repayment program and shorter active duty terms. So, um, yeah. I'll be going blog-free within 10 days. That's pretty much all I can say 'bout that.

Yes indeed! Mild in comparison.

Good luck NV.

My sister is a Major in the Reserve. One of my best friends is a Sgt. with the Army national guard now (was active before). He did two stints in Iraq and is gearing up for a stint in Afghanistan. He's with the Fighting 69th here in NY. Another friend living in San Diego did last year what you plan on doing in a couple of weeks. He's mostly OK with it.

Nombrilisme Vide,

Best of luck and I'll miss reading your comments. You're one of the people whose comments I will hit on the side bar out of particular interest in what they have to say. So thanks.

That's the most thugged out baby I've ever seen.

Best of luck, NV.

Good luck, NV.

NV -- when you dangled that little hook a couple of nights ago, I thought maybe you were going to have the opposite kind of news. Like, maybe you wouldn't be a reader/commenter any more in the same way, because you were becoming a front pager.

I knew that was probably too much to hope for, but this! Another blow, is all I can say. And -- best of luck. Stay safe.

That's pretty much all I can say 'bout that.

Take care. Good luck. Stay safe.

I'll miss both your insightful comments and your absolutely rockin' handle, NV. Be well.

Be safe, NV. Regardless of politics, the US Army will benefit from the service of someone as thoughtful and well-informed as you.

Eric Jr. has some serious hair going on there. I am impressed. Eli ('bout the same age) just has the 1/2" fuzz on top and a developing mullet in back.

Yeah JD, he came out of the womb with a full mop. Enough to make his dad jealous ;)

Great-looking kid, E -- love the air. He's already got more than me.

Godspeed, NV.

Bored with the final quarter of the Dallas-Minnesota playoff game -- Mr. Farve, who, while he has turned off a lot of football fans en route to firmly establishing diva status, has had the greatest season of any 40-year-old in sports history, and is now one win shy of reaching the Super Bowl (I'm rooting for the Vikings as much for exciting youngsters Adrian Peterson and Sydney Rice now that the Eagles are watching at home with me) -- I turned to one of the cable channels to watch President Obama give a thoroughly unimpressive stump speech for Marth Coakley in Massachussetts.

Mr. Obama's speeches have long since stopped impressive me -- and anytime I hear him talk about health care or the economy or Wall Street or the foreclosure crisis -- I can't keep my eyes off his nose and how it grows and grows every time he opens his damn mouth.

The last time Wall Street had a friend like this in the White House his name was George W. Bush, who played the Pinnochio part even better, sentiments I expressed at length recently over at Taking It Outside.

Anyhow, I wrote a much longer post than this -- and this one is already too freaking long, I'm afraid -- while listening to the Great Obama's latest lame-ass speech.

But since I took so long in writing it, the damn thing disappeared.

That made me mad.

But not as mad as listening to our empty suit of president whose performance has put the election of such a solid Democrat as Ms. Coakley in danger of going the way to a political novice, and Republican, in the bluest of blue states, a seat the late, great Ted Kennedy held for the past 47 years, for Pete's sake.

Fuck it.

This shit just gets me angry, which is why I visit infrequently these days and comment even less frequently.

Why get so worked up when I can watch the next game? It is currently a 0-0 tie, by the way, although I suspect that will end quickly with the underrated Phillip Rivers about to put the Chargers on the board. (As much as I like the Peyton Manning -- for my money, the greatest quarterback to ever play the position, save Johnny U. -- I wouldn't mind seeing the long-embattled and class-act Norv Turner make the Super Bowl as a head coach and challenge Favre's Vikings or Drew Brees' Saints).

P.S. One of the easiest things I have ever done while watching the football games today was text HAITI and, in the text box, 90999, and then forward that reminder to 17 friends on my phone list, telling them $10 will be billed to your cell phone and go to the Red Cross for Haitian relief.

This easy way of donating 10 bucks has already raised over $30 million.

God bless those poor, poor souls who, as President Obama said, will not be forsaken.

So, so frustrating watching, from the comfort and safety of our living rooms, from a land of plenty, relief in food and water and medical help take so long, because of logistics and safety and all the rest, to these long-suffering people who have somehow remained dignified and resilient in the wake of the worst human tragedy most of us have ever seen.

Why get so worked up when I can watch the next game?

John Coltrane "My Favorite Things" and a glass of nice Italian red does it for me.

Or I could just look at Eric's kid until the smile returns to my face. Every baby should have a jolly roger sweater.

Thanks for sharing Eric.

Good luck NV and we'll watch for you whenever it suits you to pop back in. I don't see the political hypocrisy you're talking about, there are folks with all kinds of points of view in the US military.

Take care of yourself.

Please excuse the typos.

We got the boy a PC for Christmas -- cut the price in half by using a $300 HP coupon for switching to Verizon -- and I apparently do not do well with that screen.

Of course, I'd do a lot better trading up my 1.50 dime-store readers to 1.75 or so.

Dang, that's a cute kid. Almost makes me wish I had one, though I hear they are even more troublesome than cats.

Good luck from me too, NV. I liked reading your comments--unfortunately being appreciated at a blog doesn't pay off the loans.

I'm glad to hear from you, bedtime, even tough you are really bummed right now.

Keep the kid pics coming, Eric! I love them!

As for me, I just thought it an excellent opportunity to toast my son and catch a buzz at brunch.

Don't tell me you took up the modest proposal ;-)

I don't see the political hypocrisy you're talking about, there are folks with all kinds of points of view in the US military.

Well, I've been opposed to US militarism* in general pretty much ever since I awoke politically, and I've opposed the US presence in Afghanistan in particular for 8-odd years now. It feels more than a little like a betrayal of my principles to have enlisted right when our dear president was mooting the idea of increasing the size of the US contingent there. Granted, if I didn't sign up, there would still be more US forces in Afghanistan, and I'd rather at least some of them share my outlook and values (mind you, I have no idea if that's where I'm going to end up, though all things being equal, I'd not be shocked). But still, if everyone did like I'm not doing...

*I'll add the caveat that I'm opposed to how it's used (currently and historically) and the influence it wields in US politics rather than the fact of its existence. Anti-militarism, not anti-military. I'm not that hypocritical.

I hear they are even more troublesome than cats.

Way more troublesome, and they cost more, but the psychic payback is much greater.

I just thought it an excellent opportunity to toast my son and catch a buzz at brunch.

I assume you meant "toast" in a sense that's conducive to buzz-catching.


As a former graduate from the Benning School for Boys (USA OCS) in 1988, I have some practical advice.

1) Eat and GET OUT. At the chow hall, you will get harrassed by the TAC Officers. The faster you feed your face and go through the Kabuki Theater that is Dining Facility Procedure, the greater your chance that you will be walking past TAC Officer row while they are still stuffing their pieholes. While this isn't a foolproof method of avoiding postprandial harassment, it does minimize your chances. To THIS DAY, if I'm not thinking I will eat an entire plate of food in less than 5 minutes. Drives my wife nuts.

2) Everything is Kabuki Theater. There's a procedure for everything enshrined in the BIOCC (The OCS "bible"). It is ritualistic, only semi-related to anything you'll face in the real army and mainly designed to stress you out. Just go with the flow. And make a little cardboard square (with a centered hole for your name) with masking tape on top and's the only way to fold your T-shirts to the 8 by 8 squares with your stenciled name centered that is the inspectable standard.

3) The M203 Grenade Launcher Attachment to an M-16 (or it's current 21st century equivalent) is a LIFESAVER. Your issued weapon will be what is subject to inspection, and will stand between you and your 24 and 48 hour passes after you get through Basic Officer Candidate Phase. If you volunteer to take on the extra weight of the launcher (5 odd pounds, IIRC) you will be issued the M203 that IS CLEANED BY THE ARMORER upon return from a field exercise (4 programmed and many minor ones). YOUR inspectable weapon will remain in the arms room. And will be relatively easy to clean when the time comes.

4) Read up on land navigation. This is where most candidates fail. You have two tries to get through the Land Nav Exam on Yankee Road (and may god have mercy on your soul if you pull one of the westernmost "lanes"--the swamps near Weem's Pond). You need to learn dead reckoning, but when you get to the test proper, use terrain association. Although not marked on your map, the Land Nav course NCOs are lazy. There IS a vehicle trail that runs close to every point marker. These trails run along ridge lines. Stay on the ridgelines.

5) Most of the rest of OCS is mainly enduring "When did you stop beating your wife," no-win questions/situations. You will get them. Suck it up and just do the push ups. That's life. Also, cultivate a laissez faire attitude towards dirt. You'll spend a lot of time dirty (I had uniforms that I could have sworn were coming to life based on the sweat and crud I soaked em with).

One minor note. Unless they've changed it, there's a lane on the Leadership Reaction Course involving a cart (wheelbarrow?), two planks, and a waterpit with some pillers sticking out. Plus some other supplies. Ignore the other supplies...they're a red herring. Use the two planks to make a footbridge and carry the cart over by hand.

Some details may have changed, but I have my doubts...the military may entertain folks with your (and my, I might add) political leanings, but it is definately small-c conservative. If you're lucky, the Ft. Benning post commander will not insist on blaring "Proud To Be An American" from the loudspeakers on Infantry Hall every freaking morning. (I was not so lucky).

And give my regards to Iron Mike (you'll learn) when you see him.

The Pedant.

Practical advise is always to be greatly appreciate. :)

(Not practical advice, though. That stuff is just awful.)

Good luck NV. If your motives give you pause, just think that you're reforming the Army from within!


I don't think you will have to give up your expression of views. I would just be cognizant of the requirement to not use your position to influence subordinates, or to protest in uniform.

Blogging, etc, is generally okay, but keep the alias.

For the most part, it will only be among peers that you have a lot of political discussion: superiors generally do not discuss with subordinates, and you should not with your subordinates. With peers, however, feel free to crush their ignorance. It will be good for the Army.

For practical advice, focus on getting 300 points on the pt test. It will always be the first impression you make, and a lot is forgiven if you are physically strong. Falling out of a run is not offset by being the smartest guy in the room. Badges and tabs have unreasonable weight, so go to schools that you can wear. A liberal airborne ranger with a 300 pt test can say what he wants.

take care, NV. Do good. Do right. take notes.
And listen to your NCO's.
As fer the wee bairn....can he peel bananas with those feet?


Just getting to checking up on this blog today*, and finding the news.

First off, I'm with JD; second, I've really enjoyed arguing with you on this blog, and I know you'll be missed; third, best of luck and stay safe.

On a much less important note, I'm not going through nearly as major a change, but I am switching jobs, and am like not to have as much time for getting into these discussions as I'd like.

*Apologies, as I'm not able to respond to your comments in previous thread


I have thought several times that in these times I wish the Army would take me back. I assure you that many in uniform share your depth of thought and feeling. People follow officers that do two things, display brains and courage, andlisten to their NCO's. I am sure you have the capacity to do both.

For whatever reasons you have chosen to serve, I thank you for protecting me and my family and my country.

I teach in an international preschool in Japan, and all the kids (japanese or korean, that is) say "my baby" instead of "my baby brother/sister". It is utterly adorable. Once you get over the initial surprise of course. (Oh you went to the pool yesterday ? And who did you go with ? I see, your mommy, your daddy, your sister, and your baby ! Wait, what ?)

Since I mentioned the Jets-Chargers game, major props are in order for the New York team.

Despite the NFL's best efforts to make the modern game about passing and more passing, the tried-and-true formula of good defense and a good running game is still a damn good one to take into the playoffs -- even better if that formula features a very good running game, some would say great, and a great defense like the Jets have.

I covered the Buddy Ryan Eagles in the late 80s and 90s -- the one team, the one era, I enjoyed chronicling more than any other, more than the Charles Barkley Sixers (a close second, and I am not a big basketball fan, but Sir Charles could make watching paint dry entertaining and absurd) and more than the 1993 pennant-winning Phillies of Macho Row fame, who were nowhere near as fun and cuddly up close and personal as they were between the white lines.

Buddy made great copy. He honed and assembled a team of great characters and great talent -- Reggie White, Randall Cunningham, Jim McMahon, Jerome Brown, Andre Waters -- and guided the team to infamous games of lore, the Fog Bowl, the Body Bag Game, the Bounty Bowl.

Tough on the outside, Buddy was a real softie once you saw the other side, the relaxed side, the one who nuzzled up to his horses on his modest farm and fed the cats back home in Kentucky, where his post-NFL days featured not headlines of bombastic quotes but taking care of his beloved, Alzheimers-suffering wife.

His boy Rex is not nearly as colorful or crazy as his old man was, but the apple definitely did not fall far from the tree.

"When did you stop beating your wife," no-win questions/situations

"Now you DO love the Virgin Mary, don't ya?"

"Sir, NEGATIVE, sir!"

"Private Joker, are you trying to offend me?"

"Sir, NEGATIVE, sir! Sir, the private believes any answer he gives will be wrong and the Senior Drill Instructor will only beat him harder if he reverses himself, SIR!"

"Who's your squad leader, scumbag?"

"Sir, the squad leader is Private Snowball, sir!"

"Private Snowball!"

"Sir, Private Snowball reporting as ordered, sir!"

"Private Snowball, you're fired. Private Joker's promoted to squad leader."

I can haz war crimes trial now?

Good luck NV. What you're doing doesn't really strike me as hypocritical - you are being scrupulously honest, in fact. As usual.

That is one darling kid, Eric. With what my family used to call 'educated toes'....

Good luck, NV.

JB: The big toe, he got from me (my brother nicknamed said toe, "Clubber" for its unusually massive size relative to the other toes). The little toe he got from his mother (in that he can move it independent of his other toes, which I, alas, cannot)

Ugh: I can haz war crimes trial now?

Obama spent last summer making sure there's no way the previous administration could be charged with any of their crimes. You think he'd go to all that trouble to ensure continuity between the Bush administration and his own, in order to provide justice when the crimes go public?

Sporadically, when I feel a little too cheerful, I google up on Jesurgislac Guantanamo Bay, and remind myself again - and again - and again - that I really have been saying the same thing over and over again for so many years.

Extra-judicial imprisonment of people accused of dreadful crimes may seem like very small beer - even indefinite extra-judicial imprisonment of people who can't be proved to be guilty of a damn thing - but it is fundamentally wrong, and it allows a ripe field for other abuses. If people aren't ever going to be let out, then there's no reason not to do anything you please to them.

And when you decide, as Obama evidently decided, that it's more important to ensure your predecessors in office go unpunished than it is to stand up for human rights and justice, war crime trials are a thing of your imagination, Ugh. How can someone serving the President of the United States commit a crime, when acting in accordance with the will of the President? Why, next thing, you'll be wanting a government of laws, not men!

Dean-Rendell in 2012.

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