Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Last Supper...and Lunch....and Breakfast...

I've adopted a pre-execution last meal approach to every bite I put into my mouth...I won't get to eat (Krispy Kremes, homemade vanilla ice cream, insert other impossibly unhealthy, gloriously tasty foods here) for a long time, I'd better enjoy it now.

Consider, gentle readers, the 1 1/2-inch thick filet mignon I bought last weekend and have been too busy to grill up. It was still fresh, so I coated it with a light coat of olive oil and pressed into it a dry rub of every appealling savory seasoning in my cupboard. I heated the grill as blistering as it could get and hit it for a couple of minutes each side, intending to sear it, create a seasoned crust, while preserving a cool, blood-red, tender inside.

Ambrosia of the gods. The fat and olive oil crusted perfectly with the seasonings, the whole thing remained astonishingly tender. Intially, I tucked into it like a starved hostage. But then I cut smaller and smaller bits, slowed down, savored the crisp-tender, almost silky texture of the fine meat, the slight smokiness. I even ate the bits of pure fat, which were the most flavorful of all and retained the finest crusting. Seasoned juice puddled in the plate with each cut. It's too cool to eat outside, but I wouldn't have wanted any distractions for this one. I was happy to be alone, at my antique dining room table, in this sun-filled room, not holding up one end of a conversation. I had full focus on this thing.

I've never had such fine steak--no upscale New Orleans restaurant could rival it. The local brewpub doesn't even come close, and I love their filet mignon.

My favorite side dish when grilling is cibollitas, or plain old green onions minus the white part, sprayed with Pam, dusted with Kosher salt, grilled just long enough for hints of brownness to show, then liberally drowned in lime juice. When I lived in New Orleans, I would drive all the way across town to have them at a Mexican restaurant we loved. And now I eat them at home several times a week.

At this rate, I won't even fit into my uniform for the initial liftoff...but judging by the 20-40 pound weight loss I've seen out of folks landing there in that impossible heat, I'm not terribly concerned.

And honestly, during these last few days of time off I'll have for the next 365 days, I just don't give one baby rat's ass.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Life on Earth

Our CPX did not go well. I don't feel good about the year ahead.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Let the Games Begin

It's 1:00 am on a Sunday morning, and I've been here since 7 am. On Saturday. We awaited the arrival of the sixteen Guard and Reserve soldiers who will deploy with my platoon. The weather's been dreadful. Flights were delayed, cancelled, baggage was misplaced, it's been storming all day and last night, too. The latest storm to roll through rages outside now, and the last vanful of arrivals now unpack their excessive baggage and repacking it according to the Brigade's packing list. We're all ass-whupped exhausted, hungry, wet, irritable.

So we're rebuilding this team from the ground up. These soldiers just finished training, they have no operational experience at all, and the soldiers we expected to take get to stay here and get a bit of stabilization time. Some of the new ones are Guard, some Reserves, from all four corners of the United States, and very cognizant of the Active Component's perception of Guard and Reserves. They all plan to sew on our Division's patch right away. Many are cops in real life, and most speak at least one other language. They're all friendly and seem eager to integrate.

My first impression of the females, however, is that they could get ahold of some attitude down the line--they showed up here in tight-fitting, low-cut outfits wearing a great deal of makeup. There are three, and this is true of them all. Two visibly sidelined themselves as bags were being uploaded, and two are noticibly overweight.

More to follow, I'm sure...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Military Terms

Some military jargon:

lickey chewey: n. A treat or snack, usually sent to soldiers where none are available. Make sure the Chinook hovers over the firebase long enough to kick out that bag of lickey chewies to Sergeant R's squad.

soup sandwich: n. or adj. Evidence of incompetence or laziness. LT S's convoy ended up in a minefield because he can't read a map--man, that's soup sandwich.

shit the bed/went tits up: v. Ceased to function. We got four miles outside the gate when the humvee shit the bed. It went tits up outside Kabul.

cut the sling load: v. To dispose of people who are weight without benefit, as if from a load-bearing Chinook helicopter. Sergeant F is too lazy to take with us, we need to cut the sling load and leave him here.

take a knee, drink water: v. Action taken in order to recover from some arduous event. Sergeant R stepped on a landmine while we were on patrol, so I told him to take a knee, drink water, and drive on.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Any News Delivered Before 7 a.m. Will Ruin Your Day

"LT, SSG R, come on into the classroom."

This from the C.O. (Commander), as soon as we walked in the door this morning. My heart sank. I even joked, "He's fixin to tell us something we don't want to hear."

Sure enough. We got sucked into the deployment. We leave in three weeks. AND we're now a permanent part of D Co, which is unfortunate. Unfortunate because I really liked B Co's command structure, the soldiers, all of it. I've heard nothing but horror stories about D Co's commander.

Anyone out there who could foster a couple of adorable, well-behaved, sweet cats, email me at They are my biggest concern right now. Get them taken care of, I can handle everything else.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Triple Snooze

I just went to lunch with Vic, the other Lieutenant in the company (he's the Executive Officer and he's great) and my Platoon Sergeant, Staff Sergeant R. SSG R is a calm, humorous, competent professional. I already trust them both completely.

We went to a new Mexican restaurant off post called Antojito's. The only other Mexican restaurant in the entire area is out in Sackets, and it's not very good. Antojito's features tamales that are enough like the ones I loved in El Paso that I can only conclude that there is a genuine Mexican back there. Tamales tend to be made by women, and I used to buy them by the dozen from a convenience store...I'd walk in, ask for a dozen chicken-green chile tamales, and she'd stop working on her stack of the same to plop them into the steamer.

They were amazing. One of the only things I liked about El Paso was the food. But even that didn't compensate for that oppressively barren landscape.

So, today there were tamales...and damn good ones! And for dessert, cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried, with an apricot/honey sauce on top.

Immediately afterward, all three of us had a briefing from Range Control--in order to run a range (where we shoot our rifles and qualify on them), you have to have this class. It's about an hour long, in a dark, cool room with comfy chairs that recline just enough...

We were knocked the hell out. All three of us. I'd look over at SSG R (who's a muscular, bald, black man) just as his head would tip and wake him abruptly. Then I'd struggle. Vic was just flat-out asleep at one point. It was torture and I don't think I retained any information at all, except that if you leave food in your vehicle at the range, the bears might break your window and trash your car. I felt sorry for the briefer but I could not force myself to stay awake. I looked around the room and everyone struggled with it. Heads tipped, mouths dropped open, eyelids fluttered. That guy could've told us the Seven Horses of the Apocalypse had just pulled up outside, there'd be no reaction.

Note to self: never schedule briefings, as the giver or the taker, just after lunch. And avoid tamales and fried cheesecake if the timing can't be helped.
Damn, it happened again...I deleted a post and it won't go away. Curses! And I cannot for the life of me figure out why my own website won't work shows this weird index page instead of my ramblings. Maybe I need an instruction manual.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

GI Jive Turkey

I spent over an hour typing up a post about my impending departure, my first major home improvement project, and how badly those goddamn "soldiers" in Iraq who took those pictures (you know the ones) have damaged us. And this damn computer loses connectivity for no evident reason (DO NOT BUY DELL). So allow me to take on each topic again.

First, I'm attempting to create my own website, so I can post photos. And as I struggle with getting Frontpage to publish to my newly-purchased site (, I marvel that so many jackasses manage to create websites every day. Judging by much of the content out there, these folks are a far cry from brain surgeons. Seems like I should be able to figure it out.

My reasons for outrage concerning those photos, besides the glaringly obvious moral bankruptcy of it all:
1) Arab anger=attacks on Americans. Rocket science? I think not.
2) Iraqis will not take kindly to apprehension, will die fighting to avoid it. Chemlite up my ass? I'll pass.
3) What are the chances American prisoners will now be treated humanely? Slim to none, and Slim just left.
But I didn't have any training! I asked for guidance! Military Intelligence told me to! Horseshit, people! Does anybody really need to be told not to torture prisoners? Haven't we all been trained on the tenets of the Geneva Convensions? (The answer is yes, by the way, it's part of the absolute basic soldiering skills, I don't buy they'd never heard of it.) Are you THAT stupid? How many times have we been told to disobey illegal orders? And oh, by the way, my platoon of interrogaters all tell me that's bullshit, that it's SOP to direct the MP's to "prep" them. Doesn't happen.

And then to take pictures, for chrissake.

It WILL cost American lives. The damage IS permanent. I keep thinking that at some point, I'll stop being surprised by stupidity, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm freshly astonished regularly at what imbeciles lurk among us.

It's 5:15 am, and I've been up since about 3:30. I'm not sleeping well since learning I'm most likely headed to Iraq for a full year, leaving in under a month. Yes, I'm pissed off. I know dozens of officers who have never deployed, and here I get two in one year.

A full year deployed is utterly incomprehensible to me--that's a Korea tour. I just bought this house and it looks like I won't get to enjoy it, or even get all the way unpacked. I'll have to either find a surrogate home for the kitties (how likely is that?), or a new home altogether, which hurts my heart to no end. I'm terribly attached to my little guys, my perfectly-proportioned, fluffy grey Esther and the sleek, handsome little black panther, Oscar. Ouch. There is still a slight chance we won't go, but if I've learned anything about the Army, it's that the news is never good.

It was on the news last night, and annoyed the crap out of me. Our local TV station cannot seem to EVER get unit names correct...they called us 1-10th MI, when we're 110th MI. Seems like a small thing, but it's not...that dash would make us part of a regiment, which we aren't. We're direct support to the Division and the Infantry Brigades.

Then, in the true tradition of Army Public Affairs misinformation, it was stated that NO SOLDIERS WHO HAVE RECENTLY RETURNED ARE INCLUDED IN THIS DEPLOYMENT, when my entire company just got back from a year in Iraq only two months ago. Then the chirpy little anchorwoman said, "Some of these soldiers have been back less than a year!" I had to laugh. Try three months, you Whore of Babylon. It's not her fault, she's only repeating the misinformation handed her by those pogues at Public Affairs.

It will be a daily test of my character; it's in times of chaos that calmness counts the most. I have to think of how my behavior will effect my soldiers, keep that in the front of my mind at all times. Whether or not I agree with the mission or the timing is irrelevant--if my platoon goes, I go, simple as that. I should count my blessings that I have such great soldiers, especially the Warrant Officer who so clearly has my back. I'm lobbying against sending the Sergeant First Class about whom I've only heard the worst possible gossip...he's lazy as hell, he's a liability, etc. The Staff Sergeant who is currently my Platoon Sergeant is so overtly outstanding, to replace him with this bag-o-donuts would really chap my ass.

I think the weblog will be a base of sanity. I'm liable to get really, really bluesy if this thing kicks off like we think it will.