Thursday, March 13, 2008

The B-Town Quarterly

I'm a little pissed right now, so bear with me!
Imagine back when you were about 6 years old and dad said "Go to your room and don't come out until we call you!" Well, I am living that again right now. I swear I didn't do anything. It is just that we are living on the desert floor and have been for 12 days for absolutely no reason at all other than the boss said we "had" to. So, instead of worrying about how high our grass is on our block, we are watching the grass grow in someone else's neighborhood. No one can give us a reason we are out (I am actually breaking the rules by being indoors right now) other than "that's what the boss wants." Now, when I was 6 and headed to my room, there wasn't the realization that people would shoot me in the face or blow me up, but there is here. But, back to the desert floor I go!
I went on vacation recently and saw DD and Buddah and had a blast. For some reason (I am still searching for the answer) I have been totally infatuated with tattoos recently. I got my entire left upper arm "inked" and it turned out amazing. I still need to do the underneath and am going back to get my right arm done when I get back in a tribute to some friends and will probably continue down my arms until I reach my wathband. DD thinks I am involved in gangs or something, but she is cool with it. She has been a sport. Buddah was grossed out by it at first, but got used to it. That is how I spent January.
This past month I was temporarily promoted to headmaster while RMac was gone. We had a lot to do, but seems as though nothing got done. Oh well...tick tock.
Anyway, this is a short one for an update, but it is winter and pretty boring and I need to get back to the campsite. Check me out on Facebook!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


When I started writing this, a friend of mine asked why I would take on such a mundane task. Filling pages on the Internet with stuff I have done, or my thoughts on certain things. I told him that for all I have been through, I thought that sharing these experiences with others, hopefully others like me only younger, may somehow shed light on the Big Green Machine. That is why I chose the title Views from the Hide Site. See, a hide site is a place where people in my profession go to look around the playing field and get much needed information, all without (hopefully) being found out about. It is a place that is either on the surface or below, on the high ground or in the low ground or in the desert or mountains and each one is unique. It is constructed by hand, but mostly by experience; much like I try to do with my posts. I have sat back and soaked up everything I could for many years. Absorbed the good and discarded the bad. Most of my experiences have been from a hide site, of sorts. Sitting, observing, partaking, enjoying and relishing in the fact that I was a part of something bigger than myself and gathering much needed information.

Looking back through my posts, I see that I have been filling those Internet pages with mostly negative stuff. I realized that this is a mistake as I have way more positive experiences that I have had negative and I will do my best to rectify that with this post. The reader must understand that as you push through your chosen career, you become solidified in certain ways of doing things. Add to that the fact that you have over 130 subordinate workers under you looking for you to guide their every move. With all that, I have come to find that the small stuff I used to crave is now things that just stop my forward momentum. Below is a very quick run-down of how I came to sit here at this time and place.

My views started a long time ago in a snowy village in northern New York. I had great mentorship in guys named Rob, George, Dave and a host of others. They taught me the way things were done, but more importantly, the way they should be done. I spent nearly 5 years in that village and got to see some pretty cool places. Above all else, I grew in maturity. That was something that had eluded me up until that time and I learned about responsibility and accountability. Not the kind where someone gives you something and expects you to hang onto it, but the kind where if you were wrong, you owned up to it and took your licks like a man. Again, that was something that was foreign to me until that point in my life.

I finally got permission from the Green Machine to move down south. I was on my way to another world, only I didn’t know it. That place was full of adventures. The Green Machine let me fill the sky with green silk and they actually paid me for it. I learned about leadership and expounded my education of the Green Machine that I was in love with in a much, much different period of time than now. The boys there were top-notch. I didn’t get to hang around there very long, but every day that I spent there molded my soul into what I truly desired to be. Along the way, DD and Buddha came into my life and added to the love that I had for the life that I was truly happy living. Shortly after their arrival, I got permission to move again.

I couldn’t believe that I was standing there. I was speechless. Here I was standing in the airport in a place that I had only read about. We were exhausted from the trip. Buddha was only about 4 or 5 then, so I was lugging all her stuff around with my mouth open. Not only gasping for air, but in awe of all the new things there were to see. Immediately, DD spotted one of her favorite sites; Diamond Head. This was going to be great! As we settled in to our new house and surroundings, I immediately went to work trying to prove myself. I buried myself in my work and was having a blast. The only problem was that I forgot the other 2 players on my team and I left them at home a lot. It was rough for the first stretch, but the girls knew that I was working towards something better for all of us and they cut me some slack. While we were there I got to see some more great places and things; things that I never would’ve imagined that I would get to see in my lifetime. The 3 of us met some really great people, who are still very much a part of our lives today. Bill, Chriss, Cassie and Jake became extensions to our family. We were together all the time and I learned every day from Bill, who was an amazing teacher and an outstanding performer in the Machine. But good things must come to an end. It was time to pack up again and get moving.

“Georgia, are you kidding me?” That pretty much sums up my disbelief when the Green Machine papers found me. I was headed to a place that I had already been before and, for the most part, I had no choice in going. You see, the Green Machine has a thing called the “Good ‘Ole Boy Network.” I am sure you are familiar with it as it is in most places. I had been bested by an old friend and supervisor who was looking out for my best interest. He was sending me to teach. Teach? DD and Buddha were indifferent, as usual. As long as we are all together, they are as happy as newborns. I took a hard look at where I was heading and decided that I would give it a shot. Many people I knew, when they found out, thought that I actually may have found my calling. We’ll see, I thought. Once we arrived, we got settled in and got Buddha in school and the house arraigned and everything in order. I would show up to work when my name was highlighted on the schedule. Most of the time, I sat around the house helping DD do her thing. It wasn’t what I thought I would be doing. But, little did I realize, this was to be my biggest learning experience yet. I was an instructor. Usually, I taught about 10 guys but sometimes as many as 250. I would rant and rave that things weren’t as they should be, bang my head against the wall when they were late to class and then, dish out perverse, wicked punishments that would make some physically sick after they were over. We call it PT, others call it evil. After the first 8 months or so, one day while I was trying to tell this young man his wrongdoings, I looked him in the eye and realized that I had seen that look a hundred times before. The look of “I don’t care what you have to say, just let this be over.” I realized then and there, that there was a time for PT and a time to teach and those two fences should never intersect. Never. I changed my style of teaching shortly after that moment and realized that if I get through to just one guy out of the 250 or whatever size I was teaching, then I had won. I had reached inside that guy and taught him something he would take back and teach others. Finally, I was a teacher. Then, one day after I pulled a 24 hour shift, I came home around 8:00 a.m. and rushed to the bus stop only to find that I had missed her. She was already aboard and laughing with her friends. DD and T were talking, so I went inside to shower and try to catch some sleep. The T.V. was on and something big was happening. I saw smoke, then the repeated camera angles of an object slamming into a building. “What the hell is going on?” I shouted across the grass. Neither of them knew, so I walked back inside and listened as the news anchor described an airplane or something crashing into the Twin Towers. DD and T came in just in time to see the second plane hit the intact Tower. We were silent. Shortly after, I called the office and everyone was chattering back and forth. They had all watched the same thing. We immediately went and picked Buddha up from school, as did just about every parent registered at the school. Our lives had changed forever and we knew it. Throughout the remaining time I had to be there, I had witnessed kids coming back from places I had heard about on the news. They were skinny, tough and seasoned. They talked about the ‘Stan and some things they had done and seen, but you might as well have told me in French as it was all foreign to me. Later on, as we dragged ourselves through our daily tasks of teaching the same thing to different people, the Green Machine said it was time for me to move again. They sent down some experts and we all put our names in for different places. I wanted to go west, towards home as I rarely got to go back and visit with my family. DD loved it there and so did Buddha. “Nothing available” was all the clerk could say. My boss at the time, George, knew some people and offered to try and get me to move with him to Europe. I asked and the girls gave an excited “Yes!” It wasn’t a sure thing, especially now that the other scuffle had started in that other country. I hoped and hoped that I would get to go to Europe. What an exciting place to live. I could only imagine. Finally, the Green Machine said yes and the papers started to fly. I did my last walk and pondered our future. It was going to be great.

Passport and papers in hand, I kissed DD and Buddha goodbye. Somehow (go figure!) DD and Buddha’s Visas were messed up and they would have to come later. It was only going to be a few weeks, no big deal. I didn’t realize then that those few weeks would just be a sampling of time that we were to spend apart. I arrived at the Venice airport. George and his friend Robin picked me up; George had overdone it on the wine and didn’t look so good. They took me to my hotel and told me to shower and be outside shortly. They were giving me the Grand Tour. Outside, I was so excited to finally be here. New surroundings, sounds, smells and sights all caught my attention and jockeyed for the best spot on my brain. George and Robin were taking me to lunch and showing me around my new facilities. Anyway, jut after DD and Buddha arrived in Europe, the news came that we all knew would come. I was headed “downrange.” My new office-mates were there and I was headed there to be with them. I finally arrived at the camp downrange and my first tour got settled in, met some great people and got on with my first prison sentence. This one would be the shortest served. I stayed there for about 7 months and it was a rewarding experience, being a part of history and all, but actually looking back now, it was boring as all get out. I finally came home and reunited with DD and Buddha. I missed them terribly while I was gone. DD had plans for our vacation and she was to take me to do all the “Euro” things he had experience in my absence. It was great. Shortly after I got back home, we got the news that we were heading back downrange again in about another year and that we had a lot of training to do and that we would have to go away for a lot of it. I was so busy preparing for the next year downrange that I barely had time for DD and Buddha. It was rough on them since it seemed as though I had just came back and was now readying to go again. The months flew by, arguments ensued over this and that, and then one day I came home and sat down with DD. I told her I needed to fill out some paperwork that the Green Machine said I needed. It was in the event of unfortunate circumstances. She flatly refused to discuss it. I needed her help, as I didn’t know my bank routing codes and where the car insurance was kept and what bills needed to be paid. I didn’t have control over any of that stuff. So, she rescinded her objection and began to help until we got to the part about what to do with my remains, how I was to be buried, what I wanted on my headstone. She freaked, as did I. I didn’t have to fill this out last time around! The Green Machine calls it “emergency data.” But, what they don’t understand is that when you are as young as we are, we have no idea about any of this stuff. This isn’t dinner table conversation, nor is it something that your spouse comes up to you and says, “Honey, what if…” when you are our age. We finally got through it, made up some stuff on it and turned it in. Throughout this whole ordeal of preparing for this adventure I was about to embark upon, we were also dealing with the fact that great friends of ours were having their own tragedy. J and V, along with their girls had arrived with me to Europe. We befriended each other immediately and stayed very near each other. In fact, the day J and I left for the show downrange the first time, was the day that DD and V met. At this point in time, J was my boss but hadn’t been feeling well. Test after test were conducted and it was finally deduced that he had a brain tumor. It was on his pituitary gland and very dangerous. Soon, he was to have it removed. Near the end of the preparation time, I took the reins of the office and got things ready to go. Shortly after his surgery, it was decided that he wouldn’t be allowed to go with us right away and some changes in thrones and crowns needed to be made since I was just filling in temporarily. I was moved to a special organization. I had trained for this job for a long time and now, here it was thrown in my lap because my friend was sick. I was in shock at my good fortune, yet troubled concerning my friend’s horrible diagnosis. The following Monday, I showed up at the new office and found out I was leaving within 96 hours to go downrange. I dreaded telling DD and Buddha about it as I knew it would cause more pressure on them. But, what could I do? When the Green Machine says it is time to go, it is time to go. That weekend I said my goodbyes yet again. Tears flowed and I hugged them as hard as I could. I left in the middle of the night and drove myself just so they wouldn’t have to watch me leave twice. V would drive DD to get the car in the morning after I had left. It’s harder every time I have to leave.

We flew out and arrived at stop one and floundered around in the cold air. We were to be there for a few days until another aircraft could take us the remainder of our journey. While waiting there, we did some PT, looked through the little stores that lined the sidewalks and mostly slept. At one point, they told us the government of that particular country had eroded in a coup and we may be needed at the front gate as 10,000 protesters were expected to riot outside the main gate. I chuckled at the thought of 70 of my guys against 10,000 foreigners. They had to realize that this was insane. Luckily for us, it didn’t pan out and all was quiet for the remainder of our time there. Early one morning, a guy walked over, told us to grab our stuff and get on the aircraft. Our tour was about to start. I landed in the southern desert in mid-March and got to work. We moved from point A to point B roughly a month after we landed and headed to a small village 3 hours west of the bigger city. We stayed there for nearly 7 months before the mucky-mucks decided we needed to come back east and live in the big city. At that point, I had a new boss – who happened to be a great friend of mine - and we were to move a little north and go to work. We reorganized into something the Green Machine had never experienced before and got after it. Shortly after our arrival in the big city, the unthinkable happened. One of my office-mates was killed. He was shot in the back and it came out his chest as he hit the ground. He didn’t feel a thing and if I were to describe him at that moment, I would have to say that he managed one word. It was every swear word you have ever heard all wrapped up into one word and then he was gone. Another office-mate grabbed him, unaware he was dead and subsequently was shot in the thigh. A local guy ran over to assist and was shot through both legs as he reached them. We buried J.”G”.M. and moved on doing our thing. That was close to the end of my second prison sentence and the remainder of my time served was uneventful.

I came back home to a warm welcome and immediately saw that DD and Buddha were not the same girls I had left a year ago. They were hardened and much more mature. They were used to this kind of thing by then and had moved forward in their lives while I was away. I expected that, as you can’t blame them for living their lives. But, in reality, I felt like an outsider. They had their things going on and I had to play catch up. It wasn’t hard since we had done this before, but it is still something each of us must go through in order to earn our place back in the pecking order of daily life. Some handle it great while others struggle to get back into the mode of life. Once I was reacquainted with the girls, I began the task of closing the doors to my office for good. We were being disbanded and sent to the four corners of the Green Machine. I was to move up in stature and was allowed to stay in Europe and take over a larger office. With my acceptance of the promotion and subsequent rise in power (not really), I knew before hand that I had in effect, accepted another prison sentence. This would be my third. I got right to work putting my grubby little fingers in everything and submerged myself in work. That was the way it was and the way it had to be as most of my office-mates were new guys to the Green Machine and had never served a prison sentence before. SMac and I went right to work with Vo-Vo, the Head and others putting ourselves through the paces before we took the long walk down the cell block. We were gone a lot and it really paid of work-wise. Family life was harder this time around, even though DD and Buddha were pro’s by now. The year flew by and before I knew it, I was leaving in the middle of the night again. Throughout the year, SMac moved on to bigger and better things and we got RMac in control. He has been here since then and we have been through a lot together. I am looking forward to serving out the rest of my prison sentence here with him. I wouldn’t have it any other way, even though most of the time I rant and rave and carry on about mundane things that cause my eyes to roll back into my head and bad words come out of my mouth. This is what I chose to do and I still get excited every day about being here. Look forward to some more posts…

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Still Green

I should have started writing this a while ago, but time slips through your fingers. We are nearing our halfway mark in a long 15 months. Wow, that is even hard to say. It seems as though we have been gone for a long time now and we still aren’t halfway there yet. Realize this; there are prison sentences shorter than what we are serving…I’m just sayin’. But, time is ticking away and as a friend of mine says, “You can’t stop the clock!”

Let’s go back a little to the building of our little Copper on the hilltop. That place is amazing. It definitely has been the focus of the bad guys’ attention. It has brought joy, pain, suffering, laughter, tears and a host of other feelings you are supposed to repress during times like these. It really is a rose bud in our garden of weeds. We have spent a lot of time up there and it is starting to look like a real place instead of a cartoon drawing. We have lights and most importantly, heat. It has a sewage system, actually, it is just a hole in the ground with a screen over it and some burn cans that catch…well, you understand. It has been a lot of fun to be up there from time to time but, tragedy strikes as usual in a place like this. On the way to The Copper, friends of ours were killed recently by one of those damn buried-in-the-road-death machines. It was a horrific experience for those around here. Luckily for me, I wasn’t here to have to emotionally deal with all that stuff. I was out west guarding dirt. After the tragedy, a time stamp for us really, we have had a bunch of toys pushed at us and we have struck back ten-fold. We immediately went to work and I think we have put a dent in the bad guys’ winter as some won’t get to see it snow again. But, make no mistake, they are very determined. They have put metal to sky over a hundred times (nearly 150). Almost 20 of those have hit the heart of The Copper, but we were buried in our dirt mounds and came out clean…whew! The Copper still stands today and we are motivated to “keep on keepin’ on up there.”

As you can see, The Copper is the hub of our focus here in the desert-mountains. There are other things going on around here, of course. We’ve had personnel moves. I lost Vo-Vo to another team recently. I was terribly sad to see him go as he proved to be a great member of the cell block here and he is already missed. I have also had to send off some other members to the four corners in order to better the environment around here. Not my call on many of them, but they had to go. My complaint is that I have a certain amount of things to do and there are a set number of thugs I need to get it done with. A football team doesn’t play with 9 players, nor does a basketball team take the court with 3 guys. We do! We are forced to pull it off and “get it done” regardless of the expense because you can bet your sweet backside that around the corner is another task to do that will only pile up if you don’t get the first one done. Such is life here. For those that sit up in the Wardens offices, they don’t really care about your pain as long as they can brief some mucky-muck about how good things are. It is the way things are done now and it sickens me, so my only recourse is to finish my projects here, spend a few more years in the cell block and finally petition for my parole and hope for the best. I am hoping that when I am done here they send me to a medium-security facility to ride my time out. But, the Big Green (digital) Machine will pull another rabbit out of its hat and I will be looking a 5-10 more years in the system. Whatever!

While I have my complaints, I also have had some great experiences here and I have met some great people. Usually I don’t give out names or any distinguishing facts and whatnot, but this guy I recently met is an amazing photographer and writer who spent a lot of time with me and we have become great friends. He’s an Irishman that lives and works in London where he has his business. For the most part, “Journey’s” just ride along and get in the way and make stuff up that covers their story. This guy, I will tell you that he has shed his own blood and guts (literally) in the mountains of this troubled country. He was shot in the stomach about 6 months back and has come back to figure it all out. Give him a look at and read his blog at the bottom. It is really good and will give you some insights into things I don’t speak of here.

So, with all that said and done, I think we are doing okay. We are still mired in the mud of what to wear. I swear if I hear about looking alike again, I may slash my own throat. I am so sick of hearing about how we are no good because our socks don’t match or that the hat I wear isn’t within the confines of what the Cool Kids like. We are back to square one – day one - of Andersonville about this crap. The Cool Kids are in a debate over this coat and whether it belongs in our happy homes. It is issued to the other team’s guys and is the color that The Green Machine likes, but since it isn’t the same as what was handed out to us in the soup line, the Cool Kids are aghast that we have them. Holy she-i-it!!! It packs down to the size of a small football, is like a duck when it comes to the rain and is like bear hide when it comes to the cold. Let me spell it a little more clearly…FUNCTIONAL! But, some book in the Green Library says it is a no-no and some junior-level prison guard might see it and spank us with a memo shouting his disbelief. It is okay to roll out and get hemmed up by a bunch of weirdoes, just don’t do it if you don’t look the same. Message received; parole paperwork being worked! I am tired of this cell block and if some other idiot wants to come and take charge of my chain gang, then please hurry. Please!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nearing Ninety Days in Country

Well, it is about time I started writing this again. Of course, I am looking over my shoulder to make sure no one is watching since blogging is frowned upon. But, I don't release operational stuff and I hide names so I feel that I am doing no harm; just telling my story.
We have been here at our cell block, er, base for about 90 days. It has been quite a quarter I will tell you. So far to date, we have received 77 rockets here and 7 at our other little cabin in the woods. I will call it the Copper. The rockets come at random times and usually miss our little prison yard, but every once in a while they hit the sweet spot that sends us scurrying for some concrete. Even the bad guys hate our food, so they put one through our dining facility not long big loss there. (Hehe) The Copper just got up and running, so I guess they figured they would test us and our concrete and threw some that way as well.
The Copper is up on a little mountain not far from here, but right smack on the wrap around porch of the bad guys house. They don't like it very much, so they try everything they can to evict isn't working. We have had a few surprises for us buried in the road as of late. Both got us, but only a little. It smacked one of our cars and one of the local indig cars. Sadly, one of the locals won't be going home for dinner. But we have put some protective measures out to make sure it doesn't keep happening. But, that's life at the Copper, although I haven't spent much time there.
Prior to the Copper being built, we busied ourselves with driving around in hopes of finding the man; you know, UBL. He's out there someplace. We have lots of projects to keep us busy and the time goes by pretty quickly. You look down at your watch and it is lunchtime and then you get a break and look down again and it is August. Surprisingly, it hasn't been terribly hot yet. Oh, it has had its days. But not a consistent heat wave that makes you want to stand inside the air conditioner. We have been lucky with Mother Nature. She must like us.
The boys are doing fine. Frederica, the Head and Vo-Vo have all been busy as ever. They keep the engines running and the tires worn out from the rocks and the desert. They collectively have put probably close to 10,000 miles on the cars. They have done a lot of good things here. Their boys are ready at a moments notice for anything. They are "used" to this, I guess. I have been with them a few times when the bad guys decided we were to close too their turf. I have my Doc, my main shooter and 2 empty seats in the back that I usually carry the big guns on. Sometimes I just grab a random guy, tell him to get dressed and throw him to the wolves. It happened not long ago, and one of my "never leaves the yard" guys got the surprise of his life when metal started flying through the air. He didn't really care for it much thereafter. But, he is a sport and just smiles now when I ask if he is ready.
The terra firma here is unbelievable. We went out a few days ago to meet the gang from the other neighborhood East of us. It was supposed to be a nice tea and smiles meeting until we found out that the road stopped and we had to walk there. So, we stopped. First, we aren't allowed to play in that neighborhood. Second, the sidewalk was about 9,000 feet up and wasn't kept up very nice. Third, we were pretty sure we were going to run into one of the neighborhood gang of hooligans and decided that maybe we would use the phone instead to say our hello's. On the way back down, my left front tire decided it was tired of being upright and just rolled on underneath the car; sideways. Now, imagine you are having a scary nightmare of being super close to the edge of a huge cliff. Add my car in its current "I don't want to play anymore" mode and about 10 of us with you on the cliff. That is where 'ole number 7 decided to quit. Not good. So, one of my super mechanical smart guys decides he can fix it. Of course, he basically had a monkey wrench, Popsicle stick and a big rock. Shazam! 5 hours later, I was able to be towed. He fixed it right on the spot. Amazing! I get ribbed pretty often since I received my car here from a blind guy. It has had all sort of problems. Funny thing is when the jokes start flying, along with a large string of expletives directed towards me, someone always breaks down with me. It's just good luck for me I guess.
So, what now? I guess we will just have to keep on keepin' on. Not much else you can do. We have just over a year left to be here. Hopefully, it will start snowing tomorrow and continue well into July of next year. I'm talking Buffalo-type snow. Not the animal, but the city. That is exactly what we need. We always joke about why we have to fight wars in countries like this. Why can't we invade the Bahamas or Fiji. Someplace we can all enjoy.
Lastly, I want to look skyward and tell Mike and his boys not to worry about anything. We are pretty sure we got the guy. Keep looking out for us and we will keep looking out for those that you left behind. We won't forget you!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Vast Desert

We have arrived. After many days of travel, FOB-hopping, changed time schedules and various things that fly, we made it to our home. I am high. Not in the chemically altered sense. In the sense that my lungs are saying "What's goin' on? Did the world run out of air?" We are roughly about 7,500 to 8,000 feet in elevation. High enough that just walking to chow makes you huff and puff like a fat kid opening a Ding-Dong. I use that line a lot here.

I have so much to say, since it has been so long since I have written on here. Where do I start? I know...We were roughly over Greece, when the flight attendants came to the front of the airplane and moved everyone in the bulkhead "back a few seats." RMac and I looked at each other in wonderment and then astonishment when the flight attendants asked us to put our assault packs up in the seats they had just un-occupied. "In case of fire, we don't want these at your feet." Fire?! Did she say fire?

"Is there a problem?" we asked.

"We are just taking precautions." I politely asked if she was also taking precautions against us landing on a desert island. She didn't smile. Apparently, the stablizer mechanism had failed. Oh, I shrugged, is that all? What I had failed to learn in the flight school I didn't attend was that the stablizer is what helped to steer the plane. Back to where we took off was the new course. The bags had me a little preoccupied.

"Is that crash protection?" I asked.

"Sort of." she said not smiling. Sort of? What the hell does that mean?

In any event, we landed safely at our original departure and had to spend a few days laying around doing nothing. They got us a new plane and here we are.

Since we have been here, it has been pretty good. Aside from the weirdo's lobbing metal at us from time to time, it hasn't been too bad. A side-note is that the weirdo's couldn't hit both ears with river paddles! So we are relatively safe.

On the road, it is the same as I remembered from last year. Dusty, nasty, rough and relentless on vehicles. Yesterday, I had my truck break in three major arteries that would usually sideline your car for several weeks. My brakes went out, on a hill. Apparently, the power steering hose rubbed a hole in the brake line. Oh, then a few minutes later, after I filled up the master cylinder, the power steering was acting up. Then, in about calf deep water, the engine throttle linkage broke. I had to get out to hook up the tow strap, but at least it wasn't poop. After several sessions of figuring out a good way to fix my Frankenstein, frederica came up with the idea of zip-tying the thing back together. Damndest thing is that it worked and we drover Frankie back home. Of course, Vo-Vo had a hey day with his remarks of "you could've prevented this." "You're holding up our forward progress" and so on. That's okay though, the first time things go bad with the Shockers and I will be laying in wait to pounce with the jokes.

Just for clarification, driving around here isn't like any other thing you have ever done. The best way to compare it is if you climbed in your car and drove on top of every car parked along the street. Then just for good measure and to really give you a sense of what it is like, put your car in reverse and do it again.

So, here I am...again. Another long vacation from reality and everything we know as normal. My house is a brick and semi-concrete slash dirt structure. It keeps the rain off, but that is about it. Next door is the office where our world is put together by master minds of deception and intrigue. Really, all we try to do is figure out where the weirdo's are and go find them. Talk to a few people, hand out some smiles and affection and hope that these guys like us more than they like the weirdo's. It is like really bad detective work, except that we can't understand any of them and they are way different in how they act. For example, in the US if you gave someone ten dollars, they would say "Thank you." Here, they ask" Why not twenty?" is frustrating at times.

Maybe Andersonville wasn't so bad...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back to Work

Well, I have returned from my vacation with DD and Buddah. We had a blast. We spent 10 days in Ireland travelling all around to see the sites and cities. Some of the highlights we experienced were the Ring of Kerry near Killarny, the Blarney Castle, the 5-star hotel we splurged on in Athleon and some of our Bed and Breakfasts we stayed in. We had a great time just being together on the road. Watch out for the road signs in Ireland if you go...there aren't any! We got lost a few times off the main highway. Once we arrived back in Italy from Dublin, my brother Stubb and his wife came to visit. We picked them up from the airport, dragged their jet-lagged carcasses outside and put them in my vehicle and drove them to Germany to a resort. They really were tired, but had a great time. We drove back after several days there and showed them around Italy for a while and as I went back to work, they went to Rome and visited all the sites. We really enjoyed them being here and I was especially happy since I will be going camping for a long time in the near future and wouldn't of had the opportunity to see them anytime soon.

Since coming back to work, I have only had 107 episodes of rage and 3 days. We went on vacation knowing that we would have a lot of work to do when we came back, but there are 500 gagillion tasks to complete and only so many days in the week. I have been poked, prodded, felt-up, yelled at, had ink explode on me, shot up with vaccines, ran over and flicked. That was just the first day back!

Then of course, there comes the request for lists!

"Need a list of those Soldiers who received the Flu shot from the bow-legged, blonde crew-cut, male nurse in room 7 by COB!"

My favorite request throughout this process was, "Need a list of Soldiers who are storing their cars and don't want them damaged." Who thinks these up?

We currently are engaged in ten thousand different tasks that have no end, so I will cut this short. Once we roll-out, the madness of this place will end and new madness will begin.

"Need a list of all Soldiers who don't like dust or loud noises!"

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Homecoming

Coming home from an event such as ours requires a huge level of participation on all parts. The transportation geeks need to ensure our wheels are there. The personnel folks need to make sure they know where everyone is at all times. The shooters need to have bags and baggage ready to go. The guys who stay behind need to sort trash and bullets, take down tents and so on. In my workspace, coming home doesn't quite happen that way. I'll explain...imagine a group of 20 people all in a circle facing each other. When the gun goes off, they all run toward the middle of the circle at full speed. That is how we do it here...(cue the circus music after the dustcloud).

The trip home for us was uneventful. For some, it was business as usual. One of the trailers attached to a bus caught on fire after the wheel had fallen off. Another bus broke down and tried to cross-load with another bus until the "Po-Po" showed up angry and made them get off the freeway. Another guy was locked in the bathroom on the bus as the bus sped down the freeway and the looming chance of the "blue poo juice" splashing on the guy become more real with each bump. But everyone made it home warm and dry and full of McDonalds.

We returned to work today only to find about a gagillion tasks lined up for us to do in time to go on 24 hours. If you need me around midnight tonight, call my office. I'll be here ensuring those lists (yes those list) get accomplished.

"Need a list of the Soldiers who put regular gas in their diesel cars before you go home tonight!"

But at least we are home. I walked in the house to find everything in exact order. DD did a great job of readying things for me to come home. But...I only got to spend about 9 hours there before I came back to work. She is awesome and took it very well that all her hard work had been for nothing (I still can't hear out of my left ear from her joy.)

Home. Doesn't look a thing like Andersonville!