Started this while deployed, have recently restarted posting. Mostly drivel, and my own thoughts(that's redundant, by the way).

Friday, February 02, 2007

2006 NCO of the Year Essay

So, I was selected as the NCO of the year for my brigade last month. Which means I have to go on to the state level, for which I was required to write an essay titled, "Why I Am A Soldier In The Tennessee Army National Guard". For lack of anything better to post, and because I've already spent time and effort writing this, here is my final draft. I hope you like it, because it's all you're getting for now. I'm sorry I haven't been as faithful as I promised earlier, but I had good intentions anyway.



Why I am a Soldier in the Tennessee Army National Guard

From a purely human point of view, it is difficult to comprehend immediately why anyone would want to join the military. The animal instinct in all of us is to avoid danger, conflict, and hardship, and to protect and be concerned with one’s personal comfort and safety and that of one’s close family above all else. Why should I want to assist another unless there is some direct benefit for my own self? Sometimes in the last few years I’ve questioned my own motivations, and pondered that which some might call a lapse in judgment that ultimately led to my enlistment. Having considered it carefully, I’ve compiled this list of several types of reasons:

Selfish Reasons; There are several perks related to joining, from college money and enlistment bonuses, free job training, travel to new and varied places, job benefits such as medical and dental coverage, and a steady income. There are many life experiences in the Army that are scarce to non-existent in other fields, such as riding in a Blackhawk helicopter or an M1 Abrams tank, firing a 155mm howitzer, and getting to fire an M-16 as one of your annual job requirements. These are all good reasons, and I admit that selfish reasons played an influential part in my decision to join the Army National Guard.

Personal Reasons; One fact that had a major influence in my decision to enlist was that a close friend of mine had decided to join the National Guard, and I didn’t want him to be able to say that he had gained all of the aforementioned perks, plus the travel and adventure, and that I was forced to watch from the ooutside while he had all the fun. Also, there has been a great history of service in both sides of my family since the founding of our country. Both of my grandfathers served in the Army in past wars, CPL William Cox as a tank gunner in Europe during WWII, and PFC Thomas McGuyer as a medic in the Korean War. I’ve had many other extended family members serving in various capacities in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, and I saw serving in the Tennessee Army National Guard as a way to honor their memory and uphold this multi-generational tradition of service.

Core reason; For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a very deep rooted love for the United States and what she stands for. My upbringing was conservative Christian, and I’ve been taught growing up that the United States is unique in the history of the world, in that we were founded on Ideas and Principles, rather than based on who has the biggest army or who could throw their weight around the hardest. We are in a struggle now against an enemy that seeks not just to kill our bodies and destroy us as a nation, but they seek to destroy the very principles we were founded on, and to erase even the vaguest memory of these principles. We are not in a war fought with bullets and bombs, but rather, it is a titanic clash of ideas, of worldviews concerning the nature of man and his relationship to God and his fellow man. The deepest, most central reason why I enlisted is that I wanted to advance and protect these principles of ours, our original worldview that declares man is a free creature under God. I love our United States, and I want her to shine forever as an example of how mankind can live together in a free society.

There are many answers to the question asked at the beginning, all of them real and valid, and all played a part on my decision to join. However, when you “fry the fat off of it”, as my uncle says, I joined because I wanted to do my part to serve. I have no illusions about being able to fix all the problems in the world, or even to fix all the very real challenges just in my own hometown. My hope is that I’m able even in the smallest of capacities, to make some difference for the better, so that people can look at where I’ve been and say it was a better place because I was there.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas past

Another Christmas gone by. This one was perhaps not as thrilling as last year, when I had just been back from the desert barely a month, but it was no less enjoyable. This year, we had the practically unprecedented pleasure(say that five times fast!) of my maternal grandparents and my uncle being at my own parents house for Christmas. Traditionally Christmas is spent at their house in Kentucky on the lake. We'd spent some time up there the week before, working on Papaw's deck that he's been building. We got the tin on the roof, and got all the railings finished, even in the rain. Jeff Foxworthy says you might be a redneck if your back porch is bigger than your whole house. Their new deck makes another checkmark on my grandparents extensive list of qualifications for the Redneck Hall of Fame. I'm not saying that to disrespect them at all, I love my grandparents and would put them up against any set out there. I sincerely hope I've got enough gumption left in me when I'm 75 to build a deck on my house big enough for a half-court of basketball.

But I digress. I didn't ask for much this year, as I find that as I get older, the items on my wish list are more and more pricey, and I'd feel bad asking for expensive stuff. I made out really well regardless, got a new Bible, two shirts, a new 155-piece Craftsman tool set, some CDs, and something else that was really cool. My grandfather on my Dad's side was a WWII vet, he was in a tank fighting germans in Europe for THREE SOLID YEARS back in the big war. He never talked about it much, and he died several years ago, when I was about nine. Well, one of his second cousins interviewed him for a college project in 1989, and that cousin just recently found the tapes of those interviews and gave them to my Dad. Daddy took the tapes and had them copied onto CDs, and gave a copy of them to me and each of my siblings, and all the rest of the extended family when we were up in Kentucky. I'm looking forward to hearing them, and I think I'll come to appreciate them more and more as the years go by. My youngest brother wasn't even born when Grandaddy died, so listening to those recordings will be the first time he's ever heard his voice.

Today me and my next oldest brother helped Daddy wire some fluorescent lights and some outlets in his building. We got the downstairs done, and I think I'm going to help Daddy work on the upstairs some tomorrow before I have to go to a funeral in the afternoon. I've been working on the Military Honors program with the National Guard for the last few weeks. It's interesting work, sometimes. We mostly perform military honors for deceased veterans from all different branches of service, including flag-folding, playing taps, and a rifle salute. There's a national cemetery in town close by the armory, and that's where we do most of the services. We do go out into the surrounding counties sometimes though, finding ourselves in little bitty family cemeteries waaaaay out in the sticks on occasion. The one tomorrow may be one of those, right now I only know it's in another county. The families really seem to appreciate what we do. One of the few things I remember about Grandaddy's funeral is the rifle salute and someone in uniform presenting my grandmother a folded flag. Granny has the flag in a case on the wall with a picture of him, and his rank(corporal) and ribbons, probably from his original uniform from 1945. My grandfather was a humble man, who got out of the army after he got home from the war, and became the head of maintenence at Western Kentucky University in later years. He never got past the third grade, but him and millions like him changed the world, and sacificed more than me and my generation could comprehend.

I'm not really writing this for any specific purpose, am just rambling about life in general. I'm often struck by how exquisitely blessed I am to have the quality of family and friends that I do. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and am looking forward to the New Year with great anticipation. Like a little boy in a book I read once said, "God bless us, everyone!"

Monday, December 25, 2006

He's baaaaacccckkkkkk......

Hello. It's been a very long time since I've submitted anything on here. If you feel like you've been neglected, please forgive me. I've been home over a year now, and since then, have been to three different army schools in three different states, been on a six-week road trip to Alaska, been backpacking in N. Carolina, spent numerous hours down at Fathom, went rafting in a little duckie raft on the Ocoee, where my camera met an unfortunate end. I've been to Walt Disney World twice, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, numerous family trips to Kentucky. All that said, the main reason I gave up blogging was mostly because I had too MUCH to write about, and was so overwhelmed by the amount of blog material that I wrote about nothing at all. I apologize if anyone out there feels slighted, neglected, or ignored. My life has just been so full, it's been all too easy to make excuses not to write anything.

Another reason I've refrained sometimes is because I am too often afraid of offending people. While I haven't decided to go around wantonly offending people, I have decided to make an effort to go ahead and say what I think, regardless of whether it fits people's image of me, or whether I say something potentially offensive to somebody out there in Cyber Land. I think we as a society take things waaayy too seriously, all of our little opinions and little personal beliefs. So, read with caution, these next posts of mine, for I am not going to be as..."diplomatic", shall I say, in future posts as I have been in the past. Again, I AM NOT SAYING THESE THINGS WITH THE INTENT OF OFFENDING ANYONE! I just think life is too short to go through it trying so hard to please everyone and not tell people what you really think.

So, be on the alert for further opinions, observations of human behavior, tales of the specatacularly inane, the fabulously improbable, the fantastically stupid, and sometimes just plain weird. I find myself encountering so many astonishing examples of the bizarre extremes of human strangeness, that I feel compelled to share them with the world. Stand back, and prepare to be amazed...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Our trip so far...








These are just a few of the pics we've taken so far. We're in Fairbanks, Alaska at the moment, about to head north and try to make it to the Artic Ocean. Most of these came from the western US and from driving through Canada. Will be posting more later, don't have a lot of internet access up here...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mosaic

I go to the coolest church in the world...



Thursday, March 09, 2006

I was a Redneck Jedi...

Ok, so I'd read these jokes on an email one time, but I always thought they were just a joke...

You Might Be A Redneck Jedi Knight If...

You ever uttered the phrase, "May the force be with y'all."

Your Jedi robe is camouflage.

You have ever used the force in conjunction with fishing/bowling.

You have ever used your light saber to open a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill.

At least one wing of your X-wing is primer colored.

You have bantha horns on the front of your landspeeder.

You describe the taste of an Ewok as "jus' like chicken."

You have ever had a B-wing up on blocks in your yard.

The worst part of spending time on planet Dagobah is "them dadgum skeeters."

Wookies are offended by your B.O.

You have ever used the force to get yourself another beer so you wouldn't have to wait for a commercial.

Your father has ever said to you, "Shoot, son, come on over to the dark side...it'll be a hoot!"

You have ever had your R-2 unit use its self-defense electro-shock thingy to get the barbecue grill to light.

You have a confederate flag painted on your flight helmet.

You ever fantasized about Princess Leia wearing Daisy Duke shorts.

You have the doors of your X-wing welded shut and you have to get in through the window.

You kinda think that Jabba the Hutt had a pretty good handle on how to treat his women.

You have ever accidentally referred to Darth Vader's evil empire "them damn Yankees."

You have a cousin who bears a strong resemblance to Chewbacca.

In your opinion, that Cee-Threepio fellow "just ain't right."

You suggested that they outfit the Millennium Falcon with a Lazy-Boy recliner.

The REAL reason you got into a fight in the cantina was because you ordered Bud Light...and they didn't have it.

You knew Princess Leia was your sister all along.



But then I'm driving down the road the other day, and look who's stopped in front of me:


And not two days later, I spot this guy in a parking lot:


It makes you wonder...

Caving with celebrities...





I'm so far behind it's not even funny. Here's a few pics from going caving back in February. We went with the , Lovell Sisters , who had never been caving before. Fortuneately no one was killed or injured. Then we went and my whole family had dinner down at their house in GA. Was a nice day. I'll be posting some more pics soon of my more recent misadventures, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I been busy, awright?

Okay, so I haven't posted in awhile. Well, maybe not in almost a month. Believe it or not, more than once I've actually opened a new post and sat and stared at it and then closed it again because I just had too much to say. My life is full at the moment, and it's about to get even more so.

Been working at Fathom a lot. There's a lot to do there, and always ten more projects to think about even before I'm finished with the current one. Right now I'm almost finished with the expansion of the sound booth, which has been my primary focus in the past few weeks. I've seen and talked to some friends that I haven't seen in several years. Got asked to be a groomsman in a close friend's upcoming wedding today, will be sometime in August. That will be cool, I've never actually participated in a wedding before.

I still don't have a regular job and I've been home three months now. A lot of that time has been spent working at Fathom, which is all volunteer work. I've been wanting to work full-time for the National Guard, at least in the short term. They keep putting me off, but now, Lord willing, I'll be starting working at the armory next week. Am looking forward to that. Then I'll be going away for a couple weeks for training in March, two more weeks in April, then going to Alaska in May, then a couple more weeks of training in July.

The praise and worship leader at my church is wanting to go on a tour overseas to perform for deployed soldiers in Iraq or someplace, and he wants me to go as the band manager. THAT would be a trip and a half. I don't know if it will happen or not, but we'll submit an application and see what happens. Perhaps will go this summer after I get done with all that other stuff.

My truck is running well. Silly me, I left the oil cap off after adding a bit the other night, so now there's a quart and a half of oil splattered all over the engine compartment. Oops. Fortunately the oil cap didn't fall off the top of the engine, so I just screwed it back in after I realized what had happened.

Went caving on Saturday. After thinking about it, I realized that was the first time I'd been caving in over three years. We miscounted the number of heads we brought with us, so I was the one that had to go without a helmet. Fortunately I didn't fall or raise up suddenly or anything, so it turned out all right. I need to get the bag of muddy clothes out of the trunk in the back of the truck and take them to the car wash and blast the mud off soon.

Well, I'm going to help some friends who own a flower shop make deliveries tomorrow, and it's almost 2am now, so I think I'll go to bed. I apologize for neglecting all you nice people out there in Blog Land. I haven't forgotten about you, but I have neglected you, and I'm sorry. I'll try not to let it happen again. I hope everyone has a Happy St. Valentine's Day. Godspeed and Goodnight. Razorsedge out...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Shackles


Here's a very recent(as in five minutes ago) pic of my truck. To answer JV's question, the shackles are those round things on either side of the plate. They're to be used in the unfortunate event that one is stuck somewhere and needs to be pulled out, or better, that someone ELSE is stuck somewhere and needs to be pulled out. I could have gone with the smaller ones and saved myself some headache, but I think the bigger ones look a lot better.

I know I've been really bad about keeping this thing updated. I'll try to do better in the future, I've just been kind of busy. Everyone ought to go far away from everything they love to a little craphole of a country and stay there a year or so. Gives you a whole new perspective on what's important. Anyway, I need to go soon, just wanted to enlighten JV and anyone else who I made curious. Hope you've all had a good weekend, bye for now.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Me at the Magic Kingdom


Me at the magic Kingdom
Originally uploaded by Razorsedge1911.
So much going on. I don't even know what to write about, so I'm just going to start typing and see what comes out. This picture was taken a little before Christmas on a trip to Walt Disney World with some close friends. As soon as I got back from that trip, I left for Kentucky to spend Christmas with my extended family. It is so much better to spend the holidays with ones family like I did this year, as opposed to last year, when I spent them all working 7000 miles away in a country where a good many of the citizens not only HATE Christmas, but actively seek to commit terrorist acts against countries that celebrate it. What a difference a year makes, hmm?

After Christmas, I stayed up at my grandparent's house along with some of my brothers and my dad and we helped my grandfather work on this little house that he bought. It was in bad shape, some people don't know how to take care of what they have. We hauled away a huge trailer load of trash that was scattered around a shed and all around the house. It was hard work, but it was good. I stayed up there about a week after Christmas, then drove my brothers and my aunt back to Chatt Town and my dad stayed up there to continue helping. We also did a lot of electrical work on the house. I learned a little bit, which always happens when one is doing work on a house that has not been built by professionals. Anyway, then my aunt came down with us, and since she hadn't been to visit in about six years it was very good to hang out with her some. She's been through quite a lot in the last few years, but I think she's finally on the way up slowly. She and I spent New Year's Eve at Fathom, then we went to a family New Year's party. I got to go visit another family that I've known a long time that same night, and ended up only getting about 3.5 hours of sleep before I had to get up to take Aunt M. back to Kentucky. On the way back I met my dad who was on his way to Bowling Green to visit my other grandmother, so Aunt M. took her car and went home and Daddy and me went on to Bowling Green.

Once I finally got done with visiting and travelling, my brother and Jesse were preparing to go on a trip to Colorado. They spent inordinate amounts of time working on Jesse's 4runner before they left, because Jesse wanted it as close to its Alaska configuration as possible in order to test all his gadgets and stuff.

Oh yeah, for anyone that hasn't heard, Jesse, myself, my brother J. and our other friend Jesse C. are planning a road trip to Alaska late this coming spring. We'll be taking my truck and Jesse's 4runner, and the single word I can think of to describe it is epic. I've got a feeling we'll never be able to take a trip like this again, so we're going to make the most of it.

I've been doing a lot of work at Fathom here lately, lots of little piddly stuff like putting new latches on the paper towel dispensers, changing light bulbs, and planning future projects with Sharky, another guy who helps out a lot down there. Just this evening I finished putting up plywood over all the walls in the guys bathroom. All these little heathen punks with no respect for other people's property come in and are either pissed off at their girlfriend, or depressed, or some other silly excuse, so they get mad and punch or kick holes in the walls of the bathroom. Am thinking they'll consider other outlets for their frustration once they slam their poor little knuckles or toes into some half inch plywood a couple of times. Anywho.

I've been messing and fussing with my truck, trying to get it the way I like it. I had these awesomely heavy bumpers installed, and the bloddy shackle rings were just a hair too small for the shackles I wanted to put on it, so I had to drill them out some. Three-and-a-half-hours-in-the-cold and one $40 drill bit later, I was able to install the shackles I wanted. Maybe I have a pride problem, but I'll bet you my shackles are bigger than yours.

Had the transmission, transfer case, and differential oils changed the other day. The transfer case oil was a milky white, which the mechanic said was because it had water in it. I don't think there was any damage, but it definitely didn't get it before it needed it. I also wired two 100 watt off-road lights to the front bumper, which made me happy(just for comparison, your standard brights are 60 watts apiece). When I get the roof rack mounted and all the rest of the auxilary lights put on top, you'll be able to perform surgery under all that wattage blazing into the night. I'm looking forward to it.

At this moment I'm sitting in a coffee shop with free wireless internet, and have seen some friends come in that I haven't seen in a couple years. One of them got married last spring while I was gone. That guy Ian, and I have had some wacky times together. We worked at this little central vacuum business for awhile, and have numerous misadventures and at least one genuine adventure where we and a few others were nearly electrocuted and drowned in this crawlspace we were working in. Now that's a STORY there, but it's for another time.

I missed about five or six weddings while I was gone, which stinks. C'est la vie, I suppose. It's so fantastically great to be back. So many wonderful friends,a great family, such a beautiful city I live in, my kick-butt truck. It's very humbling to look around and see how richly God has blessed me. I know I didn't do anything to deserve it, so I guess I'd better just make sure not to take it all for granted.

Thank God for the United States. We as a nation have so many problems. We're overweight, lazy, whiny, and so myopic to the incredible problems faced by 97% of the worlds population. We sit and watch CNN or Fox, and think we're well informed. We sit and watch Fear Factor, the MTV Music Awards, the Super Bowl, and American Idol, and listen to the Pussycat Dolls sing such "hits" as "Don'tcha", and Green Day sing such "anthems" as "American Idiot", and we think we're cultured. What's so incredible to me is that even as bloated on our own success as we are, we are STILL the most benevolent country in the world, and STILL so much happier on average than practically any other country in the world. God help us realize how favored we are, and knuckle down and take responsibility for the consequences of out actions. We are so blessed as a Nation, but I seriously wonder just how much longer it will last if we keep regressing at the current rate.

It's depressing to keep thinking like this, so I'll go back to my normal mode of just doing what I know is right to do and trusting God to take care of the rest. I'm am not nor will I ever be perfect, but I'll keep trying to get there.

Since I've been posting so infrequently I tend to ramble on whenever I do make a post, so I hope I haven't bored everyone to tears with all the details of my mundane little life. To be honest, there's a lot I'm leaving out. If you read all the way to the end, I thank you for your loyalty, and I hope you don't leave disappointed. I think I'll go take a shower and then go out again, and see what's going on out in the town this Friday night. I hope you all have a great weekend, and that your New Year is going as well as mine. May God bless you and keep you encouraged, healthy, and give you people to love and to love you back. Until next time, Razorsedge out.

PS: You can click on this pic to see others. I haven't posted any new ones recently, but if you haven't seen the old ones they're still there. Godspeed...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Back in the States


Back in the States
Originally uploaded by Razorsedge1911.
Here at long last, are some pictures. This is in the parking lot at Camp Shelby right after we got off the buses. From left to right is my mom, me, my cousin, Jesse, and his girlfriend M. Things started off slow because I was stuck down there for a week and a half, but they've picked up since I've been home. Since I've been home, I've met a crazy person that I chatted with online(take warning!), had my truck broken into the first weekend I was back, run a million different errands, visited friends and family all over Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, worked at Fathom and gotten threatened by a bunch of thugs that were mad because we wouldn't let them in, been backpacking in NC and got a tremendous blister on my heel, got some very heavy bumpers installed on my truck, saw King Kong(twice)... So much going on I can hardly remember it all. Have been to a wedding of a childhood friend that I haven't seen since childhood, went to a funeral of the wife of someone I know in the National Guard, went to a wonderful Christmas party and saw lots of great longtime family friends, and most recently just got back in town from visiting Walt Disney World for the first time in five years. I'll be leaving in about five hours to go visit relatives in Kentucky for Christmas, so I won't be sleeping much in between now and then. I hope everyone that reads this is having as good a time as I am. It is so indescribably awesome to be home for Christmas instead of where I was this time last year. Last year we worked all day Christmas and into the night. New Year's too. If you get a minute, please say a prayer for all those families whose loved ones are serving in places very far away this year. My own deployment was not so bad as some, but it makes you really appreciate what you have when you're that far away from it all. Anyway, it's almost three AM now, and we're supposed to leave here in just a few hours to head to my grandparents house. So, if any of those stories I've mentioned sounds interesting, let me know and I'll try to do better about blogging than I have the last several weeks. I just uploaded LOTS of new pictures, so just click on this one to see them. I'm very tired now, and will be more so tomorrow, so I'm gonna call it a night. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and I will talk to you later. Godspeed and goodnight. Razorsedge out...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Busy

Hey y'all, I'm still here. As some of you might have heard, went backpacking this weekend. Will show pics of the beautiful mountains, and my subsequent foot surgery because of the massive blisters on my heel from my poor-fitting boots. Anyway, will tell all about it, have just been waaayyy too busy here lately to sit down and blog regularly. hope everyone is doing well, will write more this weekend probably. Out for now...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

On being home...

Whew. Have hardly slowed down at all since I've been back. I am truly blessed. I knew this before I left, but only since I've been back have I realy appreciated that fact, and in how many ways it is true. Since I got my truck broken into, I had to get some new IDs, and a new checkcard, get the window replaced, had to put my truck back in my name and get the insurance going again. Have been gradually getting things unpacked in the apartment, which is a chore I loathe. I hate moving, because of how you have to make things up as you go. I've gotten better at it having moved around so much the last couple years, but it still isn't my favorite thing.

Last night we had a big dinner at a friends house, had about 30 people there from church. Ate ourselves silly, then had a small Bible study and a prayer. Went around the room and said what we were thankful for. I said I was thankful to be home, which I am, but it goes a little deeper than that. There are guys(military) I've met and heard of that came home from Iraq and Afghanistan to homes that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. There are others that came back to broken homes, whose wives had cheated on them, or squandered their money, or just up and left altogether. Some of them came home to no family, or to uncomfortable financial situations. Some guys (or gals) came home in a box, and their families and friends will never be able to have Thanksgiving dinner with them again.

I am so incredibly blessed. I have a great family, lots of siblings(which is rarer than it used to be), awesome parents that have been and continue to be tremendous examples of how to live. I have a wonderful church, full of real people that don't just play church. They are human, and they make mistakes, but they keep going and trying to do better every day. Having lived in one place my whole life, I have a stability that many people don't have. I know this beautiful city I live in, and I see people I know everywhere I go. It is amazing to see how things have changed, and comforting to see how they have stayed the same. I have good friends from every facet of my life. There are friends from homeschooling, from Boy Scouts, from the army, from church, from yahoo and blogging, from all over the US and all over the world. It is overwhelming and humbling how many good people I know, and having so many I look up to and want to emulate. I hope I'm able to learn a little from those ones, and am able to be such a good example to anyone who has the dubious opportunity of looking up to me.

I think it's a very good thing for young people to join the military. I know it was good for me, to get out and see some new places and do some different things. I've met some very good people that I want to remain friends with the rest of my life. I've also met some people I'd never see again if I had my druthers. I've learned a lot about the world, and experienced some things I'd have never gotten to do otherwise. I've cried and laughed and appreciated things so much more than I believe I would have if I had not joined. God has looked upon me with such favor, and may He keep me humble enough to never think that I deserve it.

I am not the All-singing All-dancing Crap of the World, to borrow a phrase from the movie Fight Club. I make so many mistakes, and am so lazy, stubborn, ignorant, and just plain careless sometimes that I wonder how I'm able to dress myself. I am just a guy who tries to do the right thing, and succeeds sometimes. I am prone to trying to please everyone, and I'm realizing what I've been told many times, that it just can't be done. No matter how hard I try, somebody is going to be critical and displeased with me. Therefore all I can do is just keep trying, to do my best to please God and do the best work that I can, and forget about the boneheaded things I did yesterday so I can focus on doing better today. I can't worry too much about tomorrow because things will change a dozen times between now and then, but I have to try to plan a little because if one fails to plan, then one plans to fail.

Thank you God for blessing me with the country I live in, for the State that I was born in, for my wonderful family, for so many faithful helpful friends, and for the time to spend with all of them. Thank you God for the small things, like sweet tea, for my little truck, for trees, for laughing around a table or in a living room with good friends and family at something funny somebody said, or about this time or that that we all experienced together. The big things are what other people remember about your life, but it's those small things that you will never forget. God, help me to truly live each day to the fullest, and take joy in everything, even when life is not fun.

There are so many many things to be thankful for, I could fill up several posts with all of them. I guess what I'm most thankful for is opportunities to spend time with people I love and that love me, because those times, whether good or bad, are truly the happiest times of all and they're the times I will never forget. I hope everyone reading this has at least one or two great friends to share this holiday season with, and that you take the opportunity to let them know that you appreciate God planting them in your life.

If you've read this all the way to the end, thank you. I hope this didn't get too sappy on you, but I guess I'm just waxing philosophical after being gone for so long from all of these wonderful people and places. I'm thankful for Life, and for Life More Abundant. God Bless you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving. Razorsedge out...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My head hurts...

Have been back in TN for four days now. In that time, I've dealt with a bi-polar woman who hit on me and actually drove all the way from NC to see me and stayed for three days, then after she left last night I spent the night at mine and Jesse's new apartment for the first time, and some worthless POS broke into my truck and stole a bunch of things. It's very good to be home, but it wasn't exactly how I imagined it, that's for sure. It's so awesome to see everyone, and see how things have changed, but man, I could have done without all that crap. Things are crazy, but I'm still glad to be home. I have much to do, so Godspeed and goodnight, and don't ever EVER leave your wallet in your car. Razorsedge out...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Home at last!

I made it back Home about 1330 (1:30pm EST) on 11 Nov 2005. It is overwhelming, so many different emotions going on simultaneously. In some ways it seems like I never left, others it seems like things will never be the same. God Bless America, will continue blogging whenever able. Thanks for your prayers and support. I guess I'll have to change my profile now...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Blllaaaahhhh.....

Am at Camp Shelby, MS. They told us we would be here about 5-7 days before we got to go home. As of right now, we have been here 6 days already, will be here a total of 13 by the time we leave, assuming it doesn't change again.

It's nice to be back in the States, but they had a freaking year to figure this out, why the heck didn't they have a better plan in place to expedite us getting out of here and getting home? AND if we WERE going to spend this long here, why didn't they know that up front so they could tell us and we could plan our reentry into normal life a little easier, instead of having to keep calling people back home and saying, "Well, we WERE supposed to be leaving on that day, but now it's two days later..."

Don't get me wrong, it's great to be back in the States. It's just aggravating that we have to spend so much time sitting around watching the paint flake off this horrid little post before we can leave.

Oh well, c'est la vie. We'll get home sooner or later. Had Papa John's for the first time since we've been back tonight, that was good. Especially since it was shared with Jesse and H., good company always enhances a good meal. We'll get there eventually, I just wish the people in charge would remove their empty heads from their posteriors and effin' expedite this process. Stupid army. I'm not as angry as I sound, just frustrated because of silly delays. Y'all have a good night, will update as possible. Razor out...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Back

Hello all. Made it back to the United States at about 1530(3:30pm) EST. No issues or problems, just a loooonngg, loooonnnngggg trip. I'm exhausted, am going to bed. Very happy to be back, will blog more as able. God Bless the USA...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tired...

Left my own base this evening, will never have to look at that ugly place again, thank God. Heading home for good, not for leave, to answer J.V.'s question on last post. Am still in Iraq at the moment, just not at my regular base. Hopefully we'll fly out of here very very soon. Looking forward to seeing family and friends again, and being in a place that isn't so confounded dusty all the time. Looking forward to seeing T. when she comes to visit. Will be a Veteran's Day to remember I'm thinking, not least because she will be there. I'm very tired, it's about 0040(40 minutes past midnight), and I've been hauling 100 lbs. (about 4o-something kilos) of bags all over creation since about 5pm. That's pretty much what the next few days will consist of, is hauling these bags onto and off of airplanes, buses, military trucks, and more buses. I'm glad to moving towards home, but doggone, the army is not a very good travel agent. Y'all have a good night, will try to update as much as possible. This may very well be my last post from Iraq, if I'm lucky. Godspeed, Razorsedge out...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Almost over...

Will be leaving this base in about 24 hours, give or take. Still won't be home for another two weeks or so, but at least we'll have started moving slowly that direction. Stupid army. I remember when we got here early last December, seeing the unit we were replacing being so happy to see us getting here and be on their way out. Have been looking forward to this for a long time. Jesse left a couple days ago, should be on his way back to MS soon. Today we got up and took apart our bunks and cleaned out the barracks. We'll be laying on the mattresses on the floor tonight, then get up and sit around all day tomorrow waiting to leave. This computer is being slow and ornery, so I'm going to go ahead and post this before it locks up on me. Hope everyone is doing well. I'm doing pretty good, just waiting to get out of here. Razorsedge out...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Oops

Hey all, I said I'd be calling the radio station. Well, will be more like tomorrow that that will happen, I overslept this evening so couldn't call. Oh well. Will call tomorrow at a better time. Laid around and slept all day. Didn't mean to sleep so late, but I guess I needed it.
Dunno what else to write about. Will be very strange, will take some readjustment being back with friends and family that I haven't seen in eleven months, and haven't really been around much in nearly 16 months. I was looking in my journal at the entries leading up to my leave, and I think I was just about depressed before I left. I'd been here for nine months, and only been off this tiny base about four times in all of that. Worked a boring job that I didn't like, and was tired of seeing the same old people every day. Since I've been back from leave, I've been in a steadily increasing good mood. After leave, the day I was scheduled to fly out of Australia, I was filled with that feeling one gets after a vacation. I mean that sense you get of, "Wow! That was fun, now I'm ready to go home!" And yet, I wasn't going home. I was going back to this litter box, this dust bowl of a country.

So you can imagine I was feeling a bit melancholy heading to the airport. Then once I got back to Dubai, I was once again immersed in the Arab world, and realized I had absolutely no desire to ever see anything Arab again. I hope I don't offend any arabs or muslims out there, but I am just tired of this world. I miss the western world, am tired of being gone from home. Tired of dust, tired of desert, tired of...

I'm tired of having limited computer time. The guy is telling me I'm almost out of time, so I'm going to go ahead and post this. Hope you're all doing good, will try to do better with this than I have been. I've been neglectful here lately. Y'all have a good time, what time it happens to be. Razorsedge out...

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Me and Joey


Me and Joey
Originally uploaded by Razorsedge1911.
This is the only kangaroo I saw the whole time I was there, in the Aussie museum in Sydney. That's discounting of course, the kangaroo steak I ate the last night I was in Oz...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sydney Harbour Bridge and top of Opera House

Finally made it to Sydney. Got checked into the hotel, and just went walking around the city. It was overcast and a little drizzly, about 60*F. I was just happy to be out of the big litter box, in a place where people spoke english and there were green plants growing freely. I just walked all over that day, enjoying being free again.

Dubai Clock


Dubai Clock
Originally uploaded by Razorsedge1911.
Told you they were rich in Dubai...

Arabic books


Arabic books
Originally uploaded by Razorsedge1911.
I can't read arabic, and I really don't care to. It's funny that their books open the wrong way though. Lots of differences in the cultures.

Kuwait coffee


Kuwait coffee
Originally uploaded by Razorsedge1911.
People have been demanding to see some pictures so here you go. This is inside the Kuwait City airport, which aside from a couple of military bases, is the total extent of what I've seen of Kuwait. I really have no desire to go back, except to make like the shepherd and get the flock out of here on the way home!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

1 Sept-3 Sept

Man, I've really been slacking on here. I can't say I've been busy, because I really haven't. Can't say I've been working too much, because I haven't. I guess I've just been lazy about it, so for that I apologize. I'm bad about procrastinating, need to get better about just plunging in and doing things that need doing. So, without further ado, I'll pick up right where I left off...

First of all, except for that three hours in Germany, I'd never been in an airport in a foreign country before. I don't really count that stop because we were on a military charter flight and weren't allowed to leave the military lounge. To describe the Kuwait airport a bit, I felt very much in the minority there, especially after I split from the small group of other military people I was with. There didn't seem to be too many Americans there at all. There were mostly just lots of Arabs of every bent, rich ones, poor ones, families; there were the devout Muslim women with the full ghurka(sp?), the full length black robes and veils, and others not quite as heavily covered. Saw some white people, but I got the impression they were mostly European in origin. The gate announcements were given in both English and Arabic, and my computer bag was sent through a metal detector three separate times, once coming into the airport, once checking into customs, and once at the gate to the plane. For some reason they took a roll of scotch tape I had in there, I guess they thought I might attack someone with the plastic serrated edge on the dispenser. Silly. Took off from the Kuwait airport about 2225(10:15pm), was only about a 40 minute flight to Dubai.

Maybe you world travellers or geography scholars out there know where Dubai is, but I had never heard of it. It's a major city in a country called the United Arab Emirates, or U.A.E. Might even be the capital, I don't know. I DO know they have some money, as was evident in the way they spent it on their airport. There were some nice stores in the Kuwait airport, but that one looked like a flea market compared to Dubai International. That place was unreal. I got more than enough time to look at it too, since I landed there and was inside the airport by 0100(1:00am) local time, since Dubai was an hour ahead of Kuwait, and my connecting flight didn't leave until about 1000(10:00am). Yes, that's right. I was stuck at that stupid airport for nine solid hours. At first it was sort of interesting, but then I realized the only thing to do there was spend money or wander around aimlessly, just like any other mall. I was intending to spend some money on this trip, but not that soon, and I also was conscious of the fact that anything I bought I'd have to carry with me, and didn't relish the thought of doing that since I was already hauling around over half my own weight with my two bags combined. So, I waited. I went to the airlines desk to see if there was an earlier flight I could take, and found out there was one about 0915(9:15am). I said forget about it, it wouldn't have made that much difference and would have thrown off the luggage transfer system so that my duffel bag would have ended up in Moscow or London or someplace while I was in Sydney.

I wandered up and down that blasted airport for hours. Granted, there was a lot to see, but I was tired for one thing, and for another, the Dubai airport in all of its opulence had not seen fit to buy any comfortable seats for their weary travelers. There were several lounges available for the business and first class passengers of various airlines, and there were also ones available to those lowly souls in economy class(such as myself), but those cost extra.

So I kept wandering, and in my wanderings I finally found an area that was sort of L-shaped, where the back corner was hidden from the long main hallway, and it was a little quieter. A lot of other people had found it before me, and most of them were stretched in uncomfortable looking positions on the semi-reclining opulence-challenged standard issue airport chairs. The floor was littered all over with candy wrappers, raisins, McDonalds wrappers(yes, an Arab McDonalds, took a picture of it) from all the little kids and the families that were occupying this poor people's lounge. Where there wasn't trash covering the floor, there were people. Yes, people sprawled out all over this corner, some laying on blankets or jackets, some just laying there on the tile floor like homeless people in the park on a warm night. I'd never seen anything like it. In the far back toe of the L there were three coin-operated massage chairs which looked very comfortable, but there was no one in them because of the official looking sign that warned you not to sit in them unless you were feeding them coins. There was a red rug around those chairs though, so I decided to swallow my pride and stretched out on the rug and used my jacket for a pillow. Slept from about three AM to about six, and if I didn't wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was at least somewhat rested. Waited and waited some more, then went to the gate and waited some more. We eventually took off about1000(10:00am) Dubai time, headed for Sydney, New South Wales, the face of Australia.

I would keep writing , but this is a good stopping point and I need to get off here and go to bed. Tune in next time to hear about the 14-hour plane ride to Sydney, the Kuwaiti girl I sat next to and debated with regarding the war in Iraq, and driving on the wrong side of the road. Until then, have a good time, whatever time it happens to be where you are...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Back to blogging

Wow, it's been awhile since I last made a real post on here. Guess it's been right at 4 weeks. I've done more in the month of September than I've done the entire previous nine months put together. I'll start by saying where I am now, am back at my own base in Iraq, the same place and the same job where I've been the last nine months. At the end of AugustI went on R'n'R leave to Australia, and as soon as I got back to my base here I got sent out on a quickie trip to Baghdad, was back in less than 24 hours. Didn't want to come back, but the good news is that we have less than a month left here. Jesse is out on a mission, should be back in the next couple of weeks. It's not as hot as it was, it's actually pretty pleasant(temperature-wise) in the evenings now.

The last post I made I was in Kuwait, getting ready to leave for the Land Down Under. I'll tell you how I got to that point...

I rode in a convoy from my base to Anaconda, the main staging area in Iraq. Rode a C-130 from there to Kuwait. Took about two hours. Riding a C-130 is different than your average commercial flight. If economy seating on a commercial jet is called riding 3rd class, riding a C-130 Hercules full of soldiers in full battle-rattle might be considered riding baggage class, if not worse. Imagine 64 people wearing helmets and armored vests, most with at least one carry-on bag, packing into a plane which might comfortably hold half that many. There are four rows of seats, the outermost ones with their backs facing the outside walls of the plane, and then two inner rows facing out, so you have two aisles of two rows of seats facing one another. The seats are just aluminum tubing with nylon straps stretched across them, designed for light weight and bare functionality, not comfort. You sit in these seats, hips touching on the people on both sides of you, and with your knees actually interlocking with the people's knees across the aisle from you, because there's only about 15 inches between the two rows. Bend the fingers of both hands as if you were walking on them like an ape, then interlock your knuckles. This will give you a good idea of how everyone's knees are situated on a C-130. A C-130 is hot or cold inside, depending on the weather outside, because they aren't well insulated at all.

On this flight it was very much on the warmer side. We took off about 2230(10:30pm), and on this flight we had an HR riding with us, which stands for Human Remains. It was a KIA soldier from the 3rd ID. I'm not sure how he died, but a chaplain came on the plane when they loaded the body and we had a little service called a Patriot Ceremony, all crowded together there on the plane. I'd never heard of it before that night. We had a little less than 64 soldiers on our plane because of the extra space taken up by the casket. We landed at one place in Kuwait where they unloaded the body, and the rest of us just sat on the plane all crowded together and sweating because it's actually humid in Kuwait, and it was very warm packed on that plane. We sat there probably 30 hot, sweaty, sticking-together-because-we're-so-tight minutes while they unloaded the body, then took off again and flew to another place and then we finally got off that blasted plane.

Next we got on a bus and rode for awhile, then got off the bus and unloaded our stuff onto a concrete pad. Then we went inside a building and listened to a briefing(I've never figured out why they call them briefings, because they'll usually anything but brief). Filled out paperwork, copied down emergency phone numbers, blah blah blah. By this time it was about 2 or 3am. They had a good system there. I was prepared, had all I needed in order to go to Australia, so they had me taken care of and the plane ticket bought by 5am. I was worried they would send me to Germany or even all the way back to the States before sending to Oz, but no, was given a flight with one layover in Dubai direct from Kuwait City International. Was given my itenerary, told when to meet the bus to the airport, and sent to find a place to sleep.

The sleeping tents weren't so great there, all of them had icy cold air conditioning and were wired so you couldn't turn off the lights for some reason, so it was like sleeping in a refrigerator with the light stuck on. Was better than nothing though. I didn't go bed right away, stayed up and ate breakfast, did some laundry, got out my civilian clothes. It's such a good feeling, getting to wear one's own clothes again after wearing the governments clothes for so long.

Later, I slept for a few hours in the afternoon, got up and ate dinner, then went and rode the bus to the airport. Was checking in, and when they sent my big duffel through the X-ray machine, I guess they saw something they didn't like because they made me open it right there in the middle of the floor. I really didn't want to do this, because it was packed very tightly and I did not relish the thought of wrestling it back closed in the middle of all the hustle-bustle of the airport. Had to anyway, so I pulled stuff out and the security guard examined it until he was satisfied, then we both wrestled around for five minutes which felt like 30 trying to get the stupid bag closed again. It was almost at the weight limit too, the limit was 32 kilos, and I think it weighed about 28, which is somewhere around 60 lbs.

All in all though, I was amazed at how smoothly everything went. Until I was actually checked in and they told me which gate to go to, I was still worried that something would interfere which would prevent me from going, such as some forgotten signature or important document I hadn't realized I needed. No problems though, and I found myself waiting inside the Kuwait Airport, bound for Australia, at about 9pm on 1 Sept, my 23rd birthday. Was altogether 180* different than any other birthday I'd ever had.

This is already a fairly long post, so I'll wrap this up and pick up here next time. Might even throw in a couple pictures. That's all for now though, you all have a good day or night or whatever it is. Razor out...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tired of dust

Am back at my own base now. Found out I may be going somewhere else for a couple days, we will see. Got back safe anyway, was a nice boring convoy. Am tired, it was hot and loud and bouncy in the back of the truck. Will post more when able. Out for now.

 
Google Groups Subscribe to Razorsedge Blog subscribers
Email:
Browse Archives at groups-beta.google.com