warriorsavant: (Composite)
Before we went skiing, Nom & I got ski clothes. (The kids already had snow pants and jackets.) Basically very warm clothing that you can actually move around in. At least, that was the plan. Nom found jacket and pants. I managed pants. The jackets, despite being labeled XL, were clearing Vietnamese sizes (which works for Nom, what with her being VN). Although the jackets just about fit me, the arms were too binding. In the end, I used my old field jacket, with two layers of long underwear, both or which were also Army issue. (The theory is for mildy cold, wear the lighter one; for medium cold, wear the heavier one; for extreme cold, wear them both. Sleeping bags have a similar modular concept.) It worked well. There's a reason you often see ex-Soldiers wearing their old field jackets; they're warm, highly durable, and they already own them. Cheap, good, clothing, even if not high fashion. This concept goes back hundreds of years. The reason doormen and such wear what look like old-fashioned military great coats, is that they generally were veterans, and did wear their great coats. Again, practicality, not fashion.

On the fashion side, ravensron used to wear Dad's old Ike jacket, because they look really cool. They were phased out of the Army because they only look really cool if you have a slim waste, and the pudgy REMF's who make the decisions didn't look good in them.

On the practical-but-looks-cute side, when Nom was pregnant with Hedgefund, her 3rd trimester was in winter. One option was to buy a brand-new winter coat that she would wear for 3 months out of her entire life. Not a good use of money. Second option was to wear my old field jacket. Since she's slender, and a head shorter than I; her heavily pregnant, and me in fighting form, were the same size around. Fit her great, nice and warm, highly durable, we already owned it, and she did indeed make camou look cute.
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Alone, I’m more into doing than relaxing. I used to spend the first day just walking the downtown of a new city. I might spend 8 hours just walking. Then I’d see all the “sights”. I’d only eat in the best, or at least best-known, places (eg either Michelin-rated or Varsity Hotdog). Big on traveling light. Once went to Europe for weeks? months? and only took 1 flight bag that I packed 15 minutes before leaving for the airport. Three sets of underwear and washed them out in the sink at night. Oddly enough, when I was in the military, often had much more stuff. If I deployed, the Army was big on "making sure you have whatever you need, whatever happens. That means, in additon to field gear and body armor, carried both hot and cold weather stuff. I knew at least one doc who was initially deployed to somewhere very hot (Kuwait?); then got sub-deployed for some weeks to somewhere very cold (mountains of Afghanistan?) Bottom line, a rucksack and 4 duffel bags to go anywhere. What was even weirder, was going somewhere on a long weekend with the Reserves. I'd often need: working (field) uniform with boots, dress uniform with dress shoes, civilian clothing with casual shoes, and PT (workout) uniform with sneakers. All this (including the 4 sets of footware) for 3-4 days. I've been been a fashionista (*understatement*), but this masses of clothing luggage gives me some understanding into that life. This from a man who does own 3 pairs of shoes: all black, slip-ons, not quite identical, but close. (Never used to wear slip-on shoes, but since currently live under Asian household rules, much easier than lace-ups.)
With small kids, travel is still not Relaxing (note capital R). Just much slower. Pick up stuff at a local market supermarket to eat in the room (microwavable). Eat off-hours anywhere decent. If manage one tourist sight before kids crash/meltdown, then we’re doing well. Walk a bit, pushing stroller until kids nap. Much chilling in the room, or maybe poolside. Rinsing shirt in sink. Not underwear. Traveling light... except for all the stuff for kids. At some point it has been 1small suitcase for Nom and I, 2 large ones for kids stuff. And that's not even counting the stroller. Airlines love us. (I tend to head straight for the priority check-in. Maybe they don't like it, but will like 2 hyperactive kids running around check-in even less. They can bill me an extra 25-cents.) This last trip, Hedgefund decided that the ideal mix was 1 large suitcase for her, and 1 for everyone else together. Did I mention fashionista? We convinced her otherwise.
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
First, a confession. It doesn't actually exist any more than the Sword and Microscope Society (see Profile Intro), which is to say it exists in my mind and sparsely elsewhere. This is really the story of how I started wearing a kilt. If I blogged about it before, apologies to older (well, more established) Gentle Readers for being redundant.

The US Gov't celebrates to varying degrees of actually-caring-about-it (mostly not) various ethnicities and other identities. Of course once you have an XXX day, week, or month, then XXX1 wants one, as does XXX2, as does, well everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame (or as it might be day, week, or month). These "observances" get posted in gov't offices and institutions, including military ones.

In my 2nd-to-last Commnand, my CSM (Command Sergeant Major), who became a close friend, was part Scottish, and did play the bagpipes. (He has been mentionned in my blog initially as CSM, then when he retired, as Pipes-Major.) One day, several months before his retirement, we were at our HHQ (Higher Headquarters) for something, and noticed signs up about Israeli Day and Scottish Week (or maybe Israeli Week and Scottish Day, I forget). I laughed and said as a joke, "Hey, that could be for us, we can show up dressed in kilts and yalmulkes." He looked at me and said, serious, "I have an Army kilt. All the services have their tartans. They can be worn with the dress uniform in the Commander allows it."

That started the ball rolling. My fantastical side couldn't resist, especially looking towards his retirement ceremony. Another friend, recently retired from the Army, who is also part Scottish, got involved. (He doesn't play the bagpipes. He plays the bugle. His neighbors love that on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. At my retirement, the two of them played their respective instruments (or is that "instruments") which was a hoot and very satisfying.) The three of us basically egged each other on to get kilts (well, the 2 of us who didn't yet have one) and show up at CSM's retirement party so clad. (The icon is from that party.) Other than initially freaking out my general (who thought I'd taken up cross-dressing), it was a rousing success.

Since then, have worn the kilt only rarely, but do like to when occasion presents.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
If you have not done so, please observe a moment of silence.

I ended up going to the ceremony in Place Du Canada downtown. I was conflicted right down to the last moment. The weather was wretched cold and my foot is acting up (oh, stop snivelling, Soldier). Should I go? Is it more important to be with my family? Should I go in uniform? How will an American uniform sit with the Canadian public? Which uniform? Can I find all the pieces and accoutrements? Should go with the Black Watch Association who had invited me to do so? I managed to find everything, and put on my Dress Blues, then changed to my Greens. (The current Class A, the military equivalent of the civilian business suit, is also now Blue, but that change came in just before I retired, so I still have my Classic Greens. Yeah, the only time a non-metro-, heterosexual male obsesses about clothing are military uniforms.) I also wore two long-sleeved undershirts (both Army issue, so it was legit), so I wasn't really cold.

Hedgefund told me my "shirt" (uniform jacket with all the ribbons & accoutrements) was very pretty. I told her she would have her own one day. The two of them are still too young to try to explain it to, but eventually I shall. I would be very pleased if they both did their hitch in the military, but that is something they will have to chose to do or not when the time comes.

It was still bit weird, being the only one on the Metro in uniform, and I think the only one in the crowd in an American uniform. I think I was the only one feeling weird about it, no one else cared either way. The ceremony was the usual: playing traditional marches, especially including Last Post: reciting In Flanders Fields, in English, French, and Mohawk; prayers; speeches (this year few and short, as it should be); a flyover by Canadian Forces helicopters; and 21-gun salute (not firing all at once, but about minute apart throughout the ceremony). Then came home and was moody for a bit, but glad I went. I served my time but came back, I need to honor those who did not. I served my time, now it is time for someone else to do so:
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
warriorsavant: (Composite)
 Yesterday I threw out my last pair of Army undershorts. Yes, in uniform, you are supposed to wear the official tan/khaki colored underwear. (Ironically, khaki and ka-ka have the same root. It's the later I'm more concerned with these days.)

After I retired, I wasn't going to wear bits of the uniform. Unless you're going hunting (which is to say never, in my case), you look like a dork wearing camouflage, and I'd only wear the dress uniform if there was some sort of ceremony.  Nom did wear my old field jacket at one point. That point was when she was pregnant with our first, it was winter and she wasn't going to buy a brand new winter coat for 3 months of her life, especially when her pregnant wore the same size coat as I do not pregnant. I must say she looked a lot cuter in it than I ever did. 

On the other hand, underwear is underwear, and I hate waste (and my waist hadn't changed), so why not use the shorts. I did try using the t-shirts, but only worked under a dark colored, buttoned up shirt, and it got silly deciding what days I would wear it. Still have some of the PT (eg work out) gear, but I confess I don't do that much now. 

Anyhow, 5-1/2 years after retiring, that last pair finally gave up the ghost. 

I feel something, but not as much as I thought I would. Not that I'm attached to my underwear, but as some little bit of symbolism. When I retired, I told myself that I'd always be a Soldier. (It helped get me through the depressed feelings when I retired after 32+ years in the military.) It's true, but every year the feeling is less intense. Maybe it would be different if I'd been full time Active Duty, and now spent half my time hanging out at the Legion hall, but that wasn't, and isn't, my life and career. As I type this statement of how much the Army isn't a part of me, I realize I'm getting ever so slightly misty eyed, so clearly it is still a part of me. Good. It was a big chunk of my life, a big part of what makes me who and what I am, something that I want to pass on to my kids. 
Once a Soldier, always a Soldier 
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
1.  Reviewing & CME.  Articles in medical journals get refereed, which doesn't mean we hire someone in a black-and-white striped shirt to decide if it's in-bounds. It means the editors send potential articles out to reviewers who are alleged experts in the specific field, and ask them to evaluate if the article is worth publishing. I say "alleged" experts, since I've sometimes been asked to review articles. Not completely sure where they got my name, but usually I do it. There's no pay for this, it's just part of being academic (or something). A new wrinkle, which I appreciate, is that I just got CME (Continuing Medical Education) for doing it. I suppose for the journal, it's a way of rewarding someone for doing this without having to unbelt any cash. It is a valid CME, in that I'm learning something that hasn't even been published yet.

2.  Hedgefund.  She is getting even more talkative. However, must be VN, b/c I can't understand any of it. She's also decided she's much more stable going up the stairs if she holds onto something. My hair does nicely.

3.  Ass bread.  Well, pain fesse, which translates to ass bread. Refers to the shape, not the ingredients. At least, I hope not.

4.  Photos.  Nom & I wandered around today looking at scenic spots to take photos in the area. People usually think of the bigger parks, or the Botanical Garden. We decided to enjoy and local small parks and scenic spots along the Lachine Canal. There's a pretty little park just in front of our building. Families with young children often hang out there in the "main" area, but there are some scenic little nooks and crannies further back, plus it flows into the walkways of the pretty little 2-story brick buildings behind it. Will likely post a montage of this at some point.

5.  Uniforms.  I have a nice little family uniform collection, mostly mine, but some of my brother's and father's also. Up 'till now, have the bare uniforms hanging, which is nice, but I really want to make sure they have all the appropriate ribbons, badges, patches, etc. It's rather like curating a small museum exhibit. I have to look back or even research what uniform I wore when, what was the proper name for it, and see what accouterments go with each one, what ribbons/medals were earned at that time, and do I still have all of them. I can't say it's fun (although of some interest), but I've wanted to do it for some time, and have it all put together properly.
warriorsavant: (Composite)
Note similarities in dress between me, in icon above, and Hedgefund, in photo below.
No pressure here, kid.

20150515 DrArmyBaby1
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Ten years ago, I was the first Commander of a reserve medical Group. This past weekend, they had a Dining Out, which is a formal military dinner, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the standing up of the Group. A dining out is in dress uniform, with a certain amount of ceremony, then dinner and speeches (brief!), and since we're a classy bunch, dancing afterwards (that part isn't standard, but as I said, we're a classy bunch). They also had the ceremony for the change of Commander and 1SG (First Sergeant) of the headquarters company*.

I was invited as the inaugural Group Commander, along with my Command Sergeant Major (CSM). For those not familiar with the military, the Cdr & CSM are considered the Command Team, with the CSM being the senior enlisted advisor and right-hand of the Commander. My CSM from that era has been mentioned in this blog over the years either as CSM (when we were serving together) or Pipe-Major (after he'd retired). When I was still in the reserves, it was convenient for me that this (my second-to-last) Command, and my last Command, were both in NYC, so I could have a tax-deductible way to visit my family. Since CSM was also from out-of-town, my family followed our custom of adopting strays and adopted him. We'd usually go out with my family on the Friday night, then on the Saturday would go out with the Army people. He was an excellent CSM, and a fine person, and I'm proud to know him.

It was a fast trip down to NYC: visited family, attended the ceremony, then drove back to Montreal with CSM/Pipe-Major (more on that later). Was a rather rushed visit, but had a great time. Only two negatives were that I ate too much, and that I missed the munchkin. This was the first time I’ve been away from her (& my wife). I mean 2 whole days! I went into withdrawal; I’ve turned into a complete homebody.

Friday - NYC )

Saturday - NYC & Dining Out )

Sunday & Monday - Montreal )

I'm tired today, and a bit bloated as ate too much and too richly the past several days, but it was well worth it. Got together with Pipe-Major, saw my family, and reconnected with my Army background. I don't miss it (much), but I'm very proud of my service, and it's a big part of who I am.
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
We had some of all today. (More serious and thought-provoking things happened last night, but that will be another post or two.)

First, coming up the elevator, smelled something acrid, like burning plastic. A few minutes later the fire alarm rang, and we trooped down the stairs to wait for the fire department. Fortunately it was a pleasant day, and we chatted, while Evil Secretary and the other women ogled the firemen when they arrived.* One of the other women down there mentioned that she was the one who pulled the alarm. She’d smelled the smoke, phoned the fire department, who told her if she smelled smoke, she should pull the alarm and they’d be right over. They are doing renovations on the ground floor (new street level business going in) and someone left something turned on. It smolder, but in a non-dangerous fashion. Still, with a commercial building, they take no chances: evacuate, bring in the firefighters, and let them sort it out. Since there are few true high-rises in Westmount (my building is 8 stories), it works more easily than trying to evacuate an entire skyscraper.

Later in the day, we had a patient who is, as they say, a “guest of the province.” These come in cuffs and leg irons, escorted by two correctional officers. Whenever I get one of these gentlemen, scenes from Silence of the Lambs and half a dozen other movies flash through my head briefly, then I ignore it and get on with business. I’m really not worried, few offenders are seriously violent, plus there are the cuffs, leg irons, and burly armed escorts. (The geek in my takes note of the careful procedures they follow with the prisoner.) The visits, like for all residents of Quebec, are paid by the provincial Medicare system. We don’t give them special appointment (and unlike military who get appointments sooner than anyone else). When they come up, by their protocol, they wait in the hall (not the waiting room) until we have an exam room open. At that point, we do put them right into the exam room, no matter if other people are waiting, but that’s the extent of “special treatment” on our part. After that, I give them the same care as anyone else. Plus ES gets to ogle more men in uniform.*

If only had military same day, would have had a trifecta of uniforms.

*Really, women can be such pigs.


Nov. 12th, 2012 09:15 pm
warriorsavant: (Venice)

Evil Secretary is Evil - Story as promised. There’s a drug rep we are friends with. Most of them are interchangeable, but a few are special. Actually, we’re down to the last one like that; the others have moved or retired. This woman had confided in ES that she had a thing for men in uniform (apparently there were firemen at her house one day…) Not the she was ever going to act on it - happily married with two kids - but does have a “thing.” (BTW: where were all these women when I was wandering around in uniform all those years.) Anyhow, coupla weeks ago, had a young patient from Canadian Forces in the office, who needed a return visit around same day said Rep was due. Nice-looking in a wholesome boy-next-store kind of way, pleasant manner, well-built, etc. So…. he’s talking to ES when the Rep comes in and sits down. I’m in the next room, I hear this happening, I laugh to myself, I walk out to the reception area, looking innocent.  ES is behind the reception desk. Young Soldier in uniform standing in front of desk talking to her. Rep sitting behind him, mouth open, eyes wide, almost drooling. She knew we’d sandbagged her, but enjoyed the show anyhow.

Weather. Actually warm today. Mid-November, in Montreal. Should be snowing by now. I’m not complaining.

Buddhism. Buddhists don’t keep any special day as the Sabbath, but going with the flow in a county where Sunday is the traditional Sabbath, that is when they often go to temple. Nom is Buddhist, used to go to temple regularly, but Sunday is one of the few days we get to see each other. Feel bad about her not going because of me (almost). Considered going with her, but not really going to sit and listen to people chanting for 2 hours in a language I don’t understand. Yesterday we did go briefly, so she could pay her respects to her ancestors. We stayed for lunch, which was remarkably good vegetarian. That was the first time I ever had tofu that I actually liked. Still, the cliché about “an hour later you’re hungry again” did apply. Fortunately we “happened” to have some pastry we’d bought earlier (Buddhism and pastry - is this a great city or what).

Other vegetarian. In my further adventures of veggie sandwiches, made an almond butter and honeycrisp apple sandwich on a slice of pain miche. Yum. Never used to be able to eat almond butter, because although my brain said “almond butter,” my eyes said “peanut butter,” and my taste buds got confused. This time it all came together.

Exercise. Going well. Finally getting back up to good cardio level workouts. Between that and the better diet, weight has finally come back down below 196 (okay, only by an ounce, but below is below).

warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)

Went to a small Scottish festival at Ft. Stewart museum. It was fairly lame as festivals go (where’s the SCA when you need them?), but at least had a chance to show off my manly legs (e.g. wear my kilt). No high winds causing me to show off any other manly bits, since I wear a kilt with the proper accoutrements (or lack thereof). Photos attached. The others in the 3rd photo are the (78th) Fraser Highlanders, a pipe-band and sometimes re-enactors. Not sure my showing up in a US Army tartan entirely apropos with their celebrating War of 1812, but all was well received.

Not sure I ever explained the background of my having a kilt. )

120714 FtStewart me  120714 FtStewart me2

120714 FtStewart me3 FraserHilander

warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Am down in NYC for my retirement party. I'm also doing one last official duty for the Army. One of my downtrace units has just returned from Afghanistan. They are demobilizing at Ft. Dix (in New Jersey, about an hour away) and I'm going to welcome them home. While in town, I'll have a chance to see family and friends and do NY things. Hope the almost-flat tire (see last post) is my travel kefuffle for this trip.
A couple of days ago, I moved all my uniforms out of my bedroom closet. The closet is a large walk-in, and the uniforms were on one rack across the back with some shelves behind them. Now the rack is empty. A big piece of the closet looks and feels empty - like my schedule without the Army, like a piece of my heart.
Some of uniforms I'm taking down to Ft. Dix to leave at the thrift shop/uniform exchange for Soldiers who might need extras. At least one of each got moved to the uniform collection in my den. It's quite an impressive little collection, going back to Dad's from WW II, thru [livejournal.com profile] ravensron's from his time in USAF, thru the many phases of my career. (Sometimes I think I'm turning my condo into my own mini-museum.) I'll describe it more fully in another time. In addition to the uniforms themselves, I pulled out all the small boxes of ribbons, patches, pins, badges, and other accoutrements. Dang there are a lot of them! Not sure how I'll organize all of them for display. Playing curator takes a fair amount of time. The last spot in the collection will be for the Dress Blues that I will wear to the retirement dinner this week.
While in NY, I will be seeing family and old friends and Army buddies. These are the only people I really want to talk to right now (apart from you, Gentle Reader). Wasn't being very sociable before I left Montreal. Got a voicemail from an acquaintance to the effect that "you know, a telephone is a 2-way communication device; some people actually speak into them." Talk on the phone? What a silly concept.
I am "New York stuff" while here (subject for another post), and enjoying it, but in the back of my mind, I see a clock counting down my time left in the Army. When I retire, it will have been 32 years, 4 months, and 9 days.
warriorsavant: (Time)

While we were at the other FOB, we presented the few American Soldiers there with their combat patches. The Brigade HQ had a big ceremony for everyone on our main FOB a little while ago. For those who could not be at that ceremony, we still wanted to make a proper presentation. The combat patch is a big deal in the Army. On our uniforms, on the left sleeve, we wear the patch (insignia) of our current unit. We wear the 29th Division patch. (For history, see http://29infantrydivision.org). If you have served in a combat zone, you can forever wear on your right sleeve (your sword arm) the patch of that unit. (If, like me, you've earned more than one, you can use any of them, or rotate them, but only wear one at a time.) If that is your first combat patch, it is an emotional moment.

And Soldiers in America now a-bed

Shall them themselves accurs'd they were not here

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That wear a combat patch...

warriorsavant: (White Lion - Jabulani)

I've been here too long. I feel naked going outside without my side arm.


More babbling under the cut. )
warriorsavant: (Me-composite)

To state the obivous, we wear uniforms. There are many reasons and much history dating back 4000-5000 years, but that is an entire book.*  Briefly, we all shop at the same store. The question then arises how far down does this go. T-shirt? (Yes, shows through the open collar.) Socks? Undershorts??? Several years back, someone with too much time on his hands decided that yes, we did need to all wear the same color undershorts. In a minor fit of common sense, we got away from that last time we changed the uniform, but since I had I bought 2 dozen pairs, and most of the time I don't wear a uniform, I still have 3 pairs left. One finally gave up the ghost, so I'm down to 2. I think I might just time this deployment and my career so that I wear out my last pair of Army undershorts on the last day of my career.


* For a brief discussion, see article by Toni Pfanner for the International Committee of the Red Cross: http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/irrc_853_pfanner.pdf

warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)

Here I am, finally, at my deployment site: FOB (Forward Operating Base) Lagman, near the city of Qalat, Zabul province, Afghanistan. Home for the next few months.

Housing:  I live in a CHU (Container Housing Unit). Imagine a shipping container (they may actually be converted shipping containers): about 8 x 8 x 18 feet. At one end is a window and door, at the other a window and A/C unit. In between is some very cheap flooring and paneling (but better than bare steel) with lights and 2 bunk beds. They could sleep 4, but most here have 1-3 occupants. They are lined up in facing rows, with a roof over each two rows (the doors face inward toward the "corridor," and the end units being showers and latrines (Armyspeak for any toilet, not necessarily a slit trench in the field). I have a CHU to myself, with one real bunk bed, and one single bed with an upper bed lashed together from wood. I took the plywood off that one, and put it over the lower bunk on the other bed to make an impromptu desk. Some folks are living in large frame tents (still have electricity and A/C), and I think a few are in wooden shacks known as B-huts (I had that last deployment).

Amenities: The DFAC (Dining FACility, a.k.a. chowhall) is decent. Army food is not fine dining, but has come a long way since my Dad's time. Some DFACs are better than others, and this is pretty good. We have a small PX (PX is Armyspeak for am officially sanctioned store run by a quasi-public agency called AFEES), plus a couple of local concession stands (barber shop, embroidery, gifts), a post office, a laundry, and a coffee shop. All are ramshackle by western, urban standards, but they are here and they get the job done.

Defense:  Around the perimeter is an embankment formed by Hesco's. These are named for the company that makes them. They are shipped out empty and collapsed flat – think of a framework of wire fencing, lined with burlap or nylon. Open them up to form a giant barrel (come in various sizes, the largest look about 8' tall and the same in diameter), and have the engineers fill with earth, to form a giant sandbag. Lined up 2-3 deep and 2-3 high, you have instant earthworks. Throw in a few ditches, concertina wire, sensors, and armed troops, and you have a nice defensive position. They can be breached – anything can be with enough effort - but not easily. There is an aerostat (small, tethered balloon) with sensors overhead. I have no idea what type of sensors – not my business. But the existence this aerostat is not secret. The Taliban are well aware what it is and don't like it.

The business end of things:  a.k.a. the pointy end of the spear. Can't discuss the details, but that's what we do. Actually, most of the work is done by the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces – Army and Police). They are getting better and better each year. My last deployment I got the impression that they hung back and let us do the work. Now the roles are mostly reversed – it is their country, and they are rightfully taking the lead.

Business casual:  Being in the warzone, we have to wear a uniform at all times. For working out (that will be another post), we have "PT (Physical Training) uniforms" – Armyspeak for workout clothes. Many folks use them as casual wear for off duty time. I don't do that much, but I do have to say that I look fetching in PTs and sidearm.

warriorsavant: (Autumn-upstate NY)

   DADT – we had the briefing/training about the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Sometime down the road, after everyone has been trained, the President will so certify, and 60-days later all restrictions on gay people openly serving in the military will be lifted. The training is done by the Commander, and requires the presence of a Chaplain, JAG (lawyer), and IG (Inspector General). It starts with a very short clip by the Chief of Staff of the Army, there is a short pre-canned slide-slow and talk, then 14 vignettes to generate discussion, then open discussion. It went surprisingly well. Some Soldiers were clearly uncomfortable with the new policy, but a larger number were outspokenly in favor of the change.

   CJA – speaking of JAGs. JAG (Judge Advocate General) or JAG Officer is not a specific position, it is a branch of service in the Army, the same way Infantry or Dental or Artillery is. JAG Officers can hold various positions. The staff legal advisor to a Command is the CJA – Command Judge Advocate. However, in our case, it is Combat Judge Advocate (in house joke). The other day, we did a mini-convoy training exercise. We deliberately tasked the junior officers and NCOs who had never planned such a thing. Not at all the CJA’s job, but he really doesn’t have that much to do in the field if no one gets in trouble, so we put him in charge. It was a great learning experience for all concerned, including him. He did really well. Would never have to do it on a real mission, but gives him a better feel for what the other Soldiers do, and helped build unit camaraderie by everyone else seeing him pitching in.

   Landscape - it is not that hot yet, but hasn’t rained for a long time, and the scenery is already less green than it was a week ago when we got here.

   Uniforms - the good thing about the uniforms being so absorbent is you can dry your hands when you can’t find a towel. The bad thing is when you don’t notice someone spilled juice on the chair before you sit in it.

   Life - went for a run. It is a matter of juggling when I have time, and the air is cool enough, but before dinner. I’ve never been a get-up-early-and-exercise guy. Tonight the timing worked out perfectly for a run. Sunscreen before and stretching afterwards, of course. Then chow, a shower, and hanging out with my 70+ closest friends. Life is good.

warriorsavant: (Me-composite)

Understand weather in NE/Canada is horrid. Sometimes I think one of the reasons I stay in the Army is to deploy somewhere warm in Jan-Feb. "Bullets? No problem - at least no snow up to my armpits." Don't know what I'll do when I get out of the Army - maybe I'll have to find someone to keep me warm. *smiles.*

It is chilly here, but not godawefulcold like back home. Have actually gone out for a run or two. First 5 minutes are killers, but then warm up and get into it. Y'know, no matter how much one runs on a treadmill, first time one goes out and pounds ground, there are suddenly different muscles. *ache* From my hotel, I go up and run around a little park that is in the shadow of the castle, which I like. When I did go look at the castle, they had a couple of "guards" in period costumes. Was thinking that would be cool to get a picture in my uniform, standing next to them.

Attended a few cultural classes/demonstations today. (Part of why we are here is cultural exchange to facilitate bilateral understanding to facilitate bilateral working.) There was one on string games (rather like cats cradle), one on origami, with bird sculptures and paintings by a local artist, one on kendama (a kind of ball-and-cup game that is harder than it looks). Origami actually has military applications – if you fold a bullet properly, it can shoot around corners.

I have done a little honest work, but not too much :-)

warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)

Bored:  Hello world? I am now officially bored. Before I was just bored, now it’s official. I want to be home nowwww! I’ve worn out the heels of my boots clicking them together and chanting: “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” It’s not really that bad. No matter how long or short a mission, you always want it to be over sooner, and get impatient the last bit of time. We’re using our normal Summer Camp time which is usually 14 days total (oops, I mean AT (Annual Training); er, make that ECT (Extended Combat Training); um, or whatever we’ll be calling it next),. As you can see from the title, this one will be a little longer than a fortnight – we are doing 14-days BOG (Boots On Ground), so total time is 18 days. Not sure if we actually talk to our replacements, or get to shake hands, or just wave to them on the road as we pass. I’m 90% packed already. There are always some items that you leave for the last minute, or think of at the last minute. Oddly, those 10% of the items take up 50% of the room.

Rain and clothing:  Um, yeah, about that rain the other day? The current generation of “all purpose camouflage uniform” has what are basically desert boots. Y’know, a desert? that place where it never rains? I think I finally got them dried out. Good thing I brought 2 pairs. Experience has taught me to bring back-ups of everything. Experience also taught me to wrap all my stuff in plastic bags, which I did. Except I left open the one I was using for laundry bag and it was right under the open tent flap. Didn’t want it moldering away in my duffel bag for 3-5 days, so did a wash (and especially a dry) this morning.

   We wear tan t-shirts to go with the gray-green-tan camouflage uniforms. They show even with the blouse on, and especially show with it off. Used to be brown t-shirts, which went with the green-and-brown woodland pattern camouflage – in the Army, we’re big on accessorizing. I still have a few of those, which are still regulation. At that time, were also required to have matching brown undershorts. Even the Army realized that was carrying accessorizing too far, but I have a handful left. One finally disintegrated while here. I buried it with full military honors. Difficult, as the ground is still muddy. For such a parched-looking place, the soil doesn’t hold much water. Don’t know if there’s a lot of clay, or a high water table, or just too packed. Opinions please, from anyone who might know…

Pix:  Haven’t taken many. I already have too many “Army” photos, and haven’t been out around the country that much. We are going to collect all the photos that everyone took and pool them. When that happens, I’ll post the most interesting.

- Some of the folks were talking about an Army Reserve Chaplain back home who is a Corporate Lawyer in his civilian job. Talk about yin-and-yang, or god and the devil warring in one body.
- One of the cooks sings as people line up for dinner. He has a great voice, but not quite as good at carrying a tune as he thinks. Still, makes a tiny spot of amusement during the day.
- A gentle reader sent me a factoid about poverty in the US (to contrast with here). Ninety percent of poor people in the US have a TV, computer access, A/C, and MP-3 player. Still sucks to be poor, but sucks less in US than Haiti.
- As to why a rainy tropical island seems to be desert-like around here (what with cacti and all), one of the weather guys explained it to me. The weather patterns come from the southeast, and we’re on the northwest side of the mountains, so most of the rain hits the other side of the island. Except for rare thunder bursts like yesterday. And the one today. Fortunately I had the sense to close all the tent flaps before it really got going, so neither me nor the inside of the tent got wet.

warriorsavant: (Time)

The intro miscellany of thoughts (continued - and yes, numbering is continued from last posting):

7.      So many women there with really long hair (which I like). Is that a fandom thing? A US thing? A fantasy-genre cosplay thing (everyone knows elven princess have long flowing hair)?

8.      Actually, I read much less F & FS than I used to. "Been there, done that." Still enjoy it, but by age 20, had read most of the good stuff. Yeah, I know more has been written since, but very little rocks my socks.

9.      "There are 3 great invented mythologies of the 20th century: Lord of the Rings, Starwars, and Sandman."

10.  I'm not really a "fan." I rarely remember authors or titles (I'm more of "y'know, that book written by that guy…?"), and I've never been a groupie of anything.

11.  "Which part of Bwahahahaha don't you understand."

12.  Some people came in uniform-like costumes, or even costumes made from parts of real uniforms. For me, uniforms are not costumes; they are real.


Sessions attended in order, with arbitrary rating and some random details (we take up our wandering narrative Sunday morning):


Read more... )

Looking back, I realize what an eclectic mix this is. At is about Fantasy and Science Fiction (books and movies and other stuff) to be sure. But also real science, the human condition, playing dress up (er, I mean cosplay, which has nothing to do with dressing up like Bill Cosby), singing, fandom, and other stuff. Fun to the 10th power


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