Archive for February, 2012

Lazy Weekend

February 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunday is one of those days where I always seem to find the most amount of time to get things done that I couldnt do during the week. Stuff like laundry, sitting aimlessly in front of a computer screen, getting more tattoos, haircuts, things like that. I get a bit of OCD when it comes to doing anything meaningful during the week because I feel as if it cuts into what little free time I have that should be spent not worrying about anything. Nothing important really occurs on a Sunday outside of sports games, so its a great day to get out, spend money, and drive around aimlessly.

This weekend was kind of a waste, having had my wisdom teeth out on Thursday, so there was definitely no drinking Friday night. I woke up yesterday and felt pretty good most of the day, even accidentally drinking soda with no problem (which they tell you not to because of the carbonation) so I decided to give it a shot and go out for the night. I’ve been going to Copperhead Road for close to a year now, as it’s the only bar in Colorado Springs that resembles anything close to what I’ve experienced back home at The Packing House or Phat Kat’s Tavern. The cover is relatively cheap compared to some of the shitholes in the greater Springs area (i.e. Sodo’s Nightclub – $15), the drinks aren’t overpriced, and the atmosphere resembles that of Coyote Ugly- plenty of beautiful women working the bar, making drinks, and dancing to the music. Although it’s a bit of a drive from Fort Carson, close to 20 minutes depending on the traffic, it’s well worth my gas money every weekend.

One of the great things about having a regular bar to attend, is the general atmosphere and demeanor of the people inside it. Copperhead Road is where country music meets a strong dance beat and everything flows from there. Even with a largely country touch on everything, not everyone that shows up is dressed like a cowboy, ensuring that no one will feel out of place. One of the main highlights of almost any night that I’ve gone is a regular by the name of Joseph. The guy is somewhere in his 60’s or 70’s but this doesn’t stop him one bit from ripping the place up. For most people that age, theyre in retirement mode; Joseph does this:

He Dances on the bar with girls young enough to be his grandkids; he doesn’t care. When the moment comes, he’s up there on the pipe doing pull-up after pull-up, 20 is the nightly standard. America is full of fat people and old people making excuses for not getting anything done; he’s out to have a good time. I’d like to be this awesome when I reach that age. The night went off without a hitch and  i was back inside the gates around 2am.

After finally dragging myself out of bed at around 9:30 this morning, i put enough effort together to get outside by 11 am to go get lunch. There’s nothing that seems to fill an empty stomach or fix a hangover better than a big meal at a place like Denny’s and the Ultimate Skillet did the trick today. The combination of Spinach (odd enough), peppers, tomatoes, eggs, and potatoes will fix any hunger problems in a heartbeat. Still bored, I figured I’d roam around the mall and ended up buying another pair of shoes because I figured that having 5 pairs already isn’t enough. That leads me to now, where I’m stuck doing laundry and reminding myself that its back up at 5:10 tomorrow morning and back to the daily circus that is Goof Troop.

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The Media

February 11, 2012 Leave a comment

You guessed it. A major staple of what the world revolves around. This can be looked at in a variety of ways. The music you listen to. The news, movies, shows, etc. that you watch on television. The internet. As in, what I’m bringing to you right now; media. As technology grows and things and events happen, they can be put out and discussed through all of the above forms of media. The world in its current state relies on someone’s take or opinion of a moment or event to form and base their own opinion.

This is the very reason that I haven’t owned a TV for almost a year and a half now. Sure, I’ll go home or go to the bar somewhere or eat someplace that has one and I’ll catch whatever happens to be on, whether it be the news, a ballgame, or a show of some kind. But the reason I don’t own one is that I’ll end up being glued to it, and chances are, I’ll see a big news story, specifically as of late, a political one. News outlets, whether you can see it or not, have a way of putting their spin on things to make the good guys look great and the not-so-good guys look awful. This is most obvious with Fox News and MSNBC. Both networks are heavily controlled and swayed by their respective political parties, the Republicans and Democrats. Fox News, even if they happen to be right a good portion of the time, paint the President as a man who portrays everything currently wrong with America and that it would be foolish to re-elect such a failure. MSNBC portrays him as a savior, a man reforming all the major problems with America’s infrastructure, everything from the economy to the way our medical care is controlled, and that we should stand behind this man because he is the one who “brought down the [almighty] Bin Laden”.

These two takes alone describe best why I despise the media. Could each network be right? The answer is yes, but both are so focused on a partisan political agenda that they fail to see the real truth behind what goes on. In reality, our country has seen a tripling of the national debt, the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs (Obama considers temporary 3-month job acts “job creation”), and a complete disastrous takeover of our medical care system. People who are raised by their parents to devote their viewership to either one of these networks are easily likely to raise their own children to believe the same way, similar to the way they devote their belief to a specific religion. The brainwashing cycle runs and runs, until no one is able to form their own beliefs anymore. It baffles me to see that the country seems to be running in reverse, that everyone stands for something, simply because it is what their parents believe in and tell them to continue in. I’d like to say that I can agree with my mother and father 100% of the time on everything, but where would I find the room to put my own opinion in? Somewhere down the line, you have to break free from the “cocoon” of  family beliefs and discover what you stand for in your own life and who you are as a human being.

This leads me to a current major trend in the media, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where all opinions are “welcome”. Much like the news on TV, an event happens, people then post that news and a discussion occurs. I can’t shake social media, as it is the best way besides a telephone to contact someone and know whats happening currently in their life. However, this is where everyone seems to forget how to help themselves at crossing the line between what they want to say, and what others want to hear. As much as you want to break the news of your recent life successes, someone else is entitled to a full opinion of what they think of your “success” and how/why you got there.

This can best describe the current “baby boom” happening between women (mostly late teens and girls under 21) back home in Littleton. These pregnancies are occurring at a rapid pace, and all pregnancy updates are being posted online in full detail. As much as I’d like to be proud that families are being created/added to, I can’t comprehend the lack of understanding by some of these future mothers when someone states an opinion on the impending childbirth through a media source such as Facebook. When you post publicly that you are “experiencing financial issues”, you “party heavily whether its Monday or Saturday”,  you “live with/depend on your parent(s) or family for support”, and especially when you state that “the father of your unborn child doesn’t even have a job”, of course someone is going to question your abilities to raise the child in a loving environment. “Love may conquer all”, but it doesn’t pay the heat bill or put gas in the tank and food on the table. That job at McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts isn’t going to buy diapers for the next 2-3 years and possibly support your life choices as well. The decision to create a family should take careful planning, everything from living arrangements to transportation to feeding the child and keeping clothes on his/her back as well as yours. A child isn’t something you become ready to raise overnight. A family support system is a great thing to fall back on in times of need, but not everyone has parents willing to babysit so you can go look for a job or go to the bar every weekend. Some of these people don’t even have parents to rely on, as they were raised themselves by a parent with no support system who was totally unprepared to raise a child. In a good majority of cases the cycle just repeats itself, over and over again.

All of these issues are discussed openly on a daily basis with the general public, but when someone expresses concern for the welfare of these people, they are told it is “none of their business” and to “stay out of my life”. It amazes me how ignorant people can be to crave  attention, but when they are drowning in it, they don’t know how to handle it. TV shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and pregnant” glorify teen childbirth as something that can be taken in stride, but all networks like MTV do is stick false ideas into the heads of their target audience. Your parents are not going to drop everything and raise a grandchild because you don’t know what to do. That isn’t what happened when you were born 16-21 years ago, why should it happen now? Apartments and hotel rooms aren’t a viable (or even affordable) living environment when the primary breadwinner of the new family makes 8.50/hour. These girls need to wake up and smell reality, and it isn’t going to be a TV show that pays all of your living expenses (why do you think the girls on these shows live such a supportive lifestyle? That car and all those clothes had to be paid for from somewhere).

Until that day comes when I decide to have a family, I’ll just continue to live life one day at a time, until i have the financial and moral foundation that is needed to help put a successful son or daughter out there into the world.

Troop Cuts

February 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Troop cuts have been a big topic the last several months in the Army. The force needs to cut roughly 80,000 (originally 50,000) soldiers and they have 5 years to do it. Retirements (20+ years) and ETS’s (soldiers finishing their enlistment contracts) are helping with thinning this number, but it is nowhere near enough. Originally, major offenses like murder, rape, robbery, etc. or testing positive on a piss test were grounds for starting the paperwork process to chapter somebody out. Being faced with a staggering number like 80,000, commanders are now giving the boot for DUI’s, multiple punitive actions taken against the soldier (Article 15’s, Court Martials, etc in a given span), and failing PT tests. Since last March, the top two positions have seen new faces take over; a new chief of staff (Gen. Martin Dempsey) and a new Sergeant Major Of The Army (SMA Raymond F. Chandler III).

SMA Chandler has made several changes since taking over the lead enlisted position of the Army, both good and bad. He got rid of the black beret for all soldiers, which was a failed attempt to match everyone with the green berets, worn by Special Forces, red berets worn by Airborne soldiers, and black berets (now tan), originally worn by Rangers. He is in the process of updating several regulations, and has completely revamped the tattoo policy to what it once was, making it harder for current soldiers such as myself to get more tattoos and almost impossible for anyone with tattoos to enlist/become an officer. Currently having 12 tattoos, this puts me in the middle of the issue, but I have seen many soldiers (including those of high rank) with almost full coverage in most areas. With the current cuts in place, this appears to be another reason for booting people out.

One of SMA Chandler’s main targets of these troop cuts are the deadbeats, people who honestly serve no purpose to a unit or the Army (and these people are floating around in every unit). What annoys me the most, is that these are the people that need to be kicked out the fastest, yet they are being pushed too slowly to meet this goal in a way the Army would like. From a basic observation of my own unit, it has taken nearly 9 months just to get the ball rolling for paperwork to start kicking these people out. The average time it’s taking to medically chapter/retire someone is close to a year (far too long). Ironically, it’s taking longer to cut someone early than to go through the normal retirement process. Sadly, what ive witnessed in less than two years since Basic Training, is that many who have joined in the last 3-5 years seem to think that they’re just going to get a free pass for an entire enlistment without ever putting in any work. Despite joining to “get off the streets”, or to make something of themselves, many of the guys I’ve served with still seem to think this is the block back home and “how hood you are” dictates what goes on. I don’t want to make an issue out of this, but most racial/gender stereotypes that ive largely ignored early on in life, exist everywhere in the Army. With the role of  women becoming more prominent, many leaders are considering allowing them to serve in roles previously allowed only for men. Yet many of the women that I attended Initial Training with have done little more than show up to a unit, get pregnant, and sham out. I have no issues with a woman’s right to create a family, but the realization has to be that you plan your life around being a soldier first.

What I’m seeing on a daily basis is that no one seems to care anymore. Signing a contract to serve and protect the country seems to have little meaning these days. They tell you in Basic, “remember what you’re getting into isn’t a job, it’s a life changing experience”. I beg to differ. I see a group of people who stumble into work at 5:45 am with a cup of coffee, and are trudging back out at 5pm, in a hurry to get out the gates and go home. I’ll be the last guy to tell you that I want to embody everything that the Army stands for and be a “Super Soldier” every day, but I aim to finish my enlistment with an Honorable Discharge.  This Army has become completely watered down, as Basic Training lacks everything that it used to be about, and AIT consists of everything that your unit will teach you on the job once you arrive anyway. Discipline is being stressed in all the wrong places, and daily life on a regular Army base  has become more serious than going through an overseas deployment. Two of the four people I came to Fort Carson with are already out of the military after less than a year and a half of service; one dead from a car crash he could’ve survived with a seat belt, and one for being “crazy” (the easiest excuse to cut ties nowadays).

The Army Times ran a headline article (taped on the door of my office in Afghanistan) on why people were getting out (“Quitting”, as they put it), blaming bad officers for poor leadership. The truth is, the people that have stuck around long enough to make a career and get promoted to sergeant and above, with a few exceptions here and there, are far less qualified than they should be for their rank, and they use their position simply for their own personal gain. Most of them don’t have a clue on how to lead or treat people like human beings. The NCO (non-commissioned officer; (sergeant and above) Creed states that an NCO is a leader of lower enlisted soldiers and has a responsibility to train and teach these individuals. All I’ve witnessed is a group of power-hungry individuals who are either trying to push everyone around, or using their rank to stand around and get out of any kind of task. As I’ve seen during my time in “Goof” company, most of the NCO’s here fit that description. I can probably name 4-5  NCO’s in my time in service that have had any kind of positive influence on how I should do things and how to conduct myself. These guys will all be retired within 3-4 years, leaving us with a bunch of complete jokers to run our units. All I can do for the next 607 days (yes, I’m counting down, I have been for a while) is hope to avoid the cuts and not get caught up in the bullshit that goes on daily.

Hiatus/Current Happenings

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

After a 3 1/2 month hiatus, ive decided to bring 7’s back to the table. Having been in Afghanistan, there wasn’t much to talk about outside of my same daily routine 7 days a week. After finding out at the end of September that I’d be going home in 2 1/2 months, that was all i could think about on a daily basis. Those last 60-70 days at Camp Stone were nothing more than counting down until I’d be able to drink beer and go outside of a 5 mile radius for once. Since returning to the US in mid-December, work has been nothing more than sitting around in the office all day, with an occasional menial task to do like paperwork, more paperwork, and online/classroom classes.

At the end of December, i got to go home for the first time in 8.5 months and really saw a lot of things that disgusted me, which led me to a long series of solid Facebook rants. As is with the current state of social media again, people tend to get butthurt when i throw my opinions out into the open, instead of tucking them away into a place like this blog. After a January/ first week of Feburary of hardcore ranting, i was urged by several people to create a blog/bring this back. Already having 7’s in place, I’m able to come back right to where i left off.

As for current happenings, I got my 3 remaining wisdom teeth taken out yesterday with the aid of IV sedation. Having never been “put under” before, I didn’t know what to expect, but figured nothing abnormal would happen. I remember the doctor’s assistant putting the IV in, talking to her for 5 minutes and then the doctor showing up, and then the next thing I know, im talking to the da again and I’ve got a funny taste in my mouth from all the blood and gauze. Medical technology sure has come a long way from the days of cutting people wide open with no medication at all. As for post-surgery, they advise you not to drive, as you’ll be feeling all the side effects from the drugs during the surgery. Other than sleeping half the ride back, I felt totally normal, with no “drugged out” feeling whatsoever. The pain is totally comparable to when I had my first wisdom tooth taken out, and even without the pills I was prescribed, there is little to no pain at all. The bleeding has stopped for the most part, and by eating a full dinner last night, the whole “no solid foods” diet for the first 24-36 hours seems like more of a precaution than a requirement.

Because of the medications, I cant go out and drink this weekend, which is a downer, but i feel as though I’ve really tapered off drinking-wise the last few weeks. I don’t know if it’s boredom, drinking at the same place every weekend, or something else, but it feels like I’ll get to a certain amount of beers with no buzz and then i just don’t feel like drinking anymore. Having started smoking cigarettes again in the ‘stan, I’d been making the mistake of trying to equal out my beers by smoking cigarettes after every beer or every other beer. All this was doing was making me more dependent on nicotine, and causing me to spend more money and hamper my abilities in PT during the week. I “stopped” after two weeks ago, when I woke up Saturday with no voice and a major cold. I’ve only had about three cigarettes since, and overall, I feel a lot better. As for this coming week, because of the surgery, I’m off regular PT until Thursday, which leads right into a 3/4 day weekend for us. Hopefully by the end of this week, It’ll warm up out here and it won’t be so damn cold to run in the morning. Being forced to wear black gloves (the one color they don’t issue for work gloves in the Army) has caused nothing but numbness in my hands the last 3/4 days outside.

Being back online, we’ll see what i can bring to the table, and hopefully I can get excited about writing again. Until next time…. 7’s

Categories: Uncategorized