Friday, January 30, 2009

Seeing The Alarm Clock Clearly

Aside from my family and Freight train, there's not a single person reading this that has known me without glasses (or contacts). I got my first pair of glasses in the 4th grade, at about 9 years old. Since then, I have been dependent on them to see clearly. One of the greatest moments of my life was when I got contacts for the first time in the 6th grade. Growing up as an athlete, glasses were more of a hindrance than a help, so not having to worry about them anymore was a blessing. I'll never forget having to wear my recreation spectacles (RecSpecs) as a catcher in Little League. Every time the ball got past me (which was a lot) and I pulled my face mask off, so too went the RecSpecs. I had to squint just to find the ball up against the backstop!
Despite the plethora of inconveniences that come with having to wear glasses or contacts, just about everyone with terrible vision will tell you that not being able to see the alarm clock in the middle of the night is one of the worst. Everytime I wake up, I have to squint just to make out the numbers...and I'm not even 3 feet away!!!
I'm bringing all this up because on Monday (thanks be to God) I am getting corrective eye surgery! It's something I've deeply desired for a number of years, but haven't been able to afford. Thanks to the Army (something you won't hear come out of my mouth very often), I am getting it done for free! Of the two types of surgery (PRK and Lasik), I have chosen PRK, primarily because of it's long-term effects on the eye; however, the recovery process is longer, and much more painful. In short, they burn the top layer of the eye off before correcting the lens, and your body has to naturally recreate that top layer by growing it again. The pain has been compared to having sand in your eye or thousands of needles poking them every second for as long as four straight days! Not looking forward to that, but as long as I can endure the pain, the benefits will be well worth it.
I ask for your prayers next week as I undergo this surgery. There's a very small chance things could go wrong, but you never know that the Lord has in store for you. So, just pray for a smooth recovery.
Lord willing, the next time I see each of you, it'll be with my brand new eyes!
Take care.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowed In

For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the weather in much of Middle TN, a nice wintery storm that has moved through, leaving just enough ice and snow to close down the post of practically all work.
It started Monday night, with ice storm warnings for roughly 12-14 hours. The rain began in the middle of the night, just as the temperature began to drop just above freezing. The rain didn't let up at all yesterday (freezing everything but the road), as we went about our daily routine on Tuesday. However, just before leaving for the day, we got an update that the our day would not begin on Wednesday until 0930 (a roughly 3 hour delay) due to snow in the forecast.
Sure enough, the snow fell and our day was pushed back to 1200 for only a brief period of time. It wasn't 20 minutes later that I received a phone call from my company commander that the post would be closed for the day!
It was a nice treat for me since Leslie also got today off from work, despite having to do some damage control this morning. She had scheduled former Navy pilot and astronaut Capt. John McBride to speak at APSU this evening, but had to quickly reschedule him for tomorrow evening instead. Now, the only thing we've got scheduled for today is absolutely nothing! I know that's hard for many of you to believe, but hopefully it'll stay that way all day!
Take care.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Got My Spurs!

Well, I made it through the Dining-In ceremony with a) my dignity in tact and b) less money than I went there with! Unforunately, I cannot say the same for a handful of my peers.
Just as I expected, there was excessive drinking and "friendly" banter between the Armor and Infantry officers, as well as a plethora of "fines" for not saying and or having the required materials for the events. I guess one of the advantages of being a Loggie in that environment is you don't really have a dog in the fight and most people ignore you because you're not a "combat" officer. Frankly, I would much rather be invisible to everyone in the room if it means I don't get hazed for simply being a Lieutenant.
The only hazing I received was during the filling of the "Grog". As I stated in the previous post, the Grog is a concoction of about 10 different liquors and I was tasked with adding the Jagermeister. Each liquor symbolizes a period in our unit's military history and I was responsible for commemorating our unit's push into Germany during WWII (hence, the Jagermeister). Well, traditionally each individual is supposed to chug some of his respective beverage before pouring it into the bowl. I, however, do not partake in such an activity and was subsequently booed by the crowd for not indulging. I took it in stride and made my way back to the little corner where I attempted to hide for the rest of the evening.
The other major event was receiving our combat Spurs. This ritual consists of soldiers getting in the front leaning rest position (layman's terms, the push-up position) while our company commander slid on the spurs to our heels. Aside from being in our dress uniforms and the floor being covered in spilled Grog, it wasn't too disconcerting.
All in all, it wasn't the most miserable night of my life, or even my time in the Army; yet, it was nowhere near as exciting as a nice, romantic evening with the Mrs.
Take care.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Going Out To Dine-In

One annoying aspect of being a officer is that most senior leadership love to get together after hours and watch their subordinates get hazed and make complete fools of themselves. In particular, most units have a Dining-In ceremony upon returning from a deployment to "celebrate" their successes and the fact that they made it back alive. However, if you're like me and don't like to socialize with co-workers after hours, you look at this more as an obligation than a "celebration." For those of you who might think I'm being a little cynical, below are some of the festivities included in tonight's event.
We poor about 10 different alcoholic beverages together in a big bowl to be consumed by all the "drinkers" in attendance, perform skits to poke fun at each other, and sing songs to which we hardly know the words. Although we will be receiving our combat spurs, it's done in a hazing, condescending manner. It probably wouldn't be so bad if this were optional, but when you're FORCED to be there and to make matters worse, WE HAVE TO PAY TO GO!!!
I spent most of my college years in a fraternity, so I've experienced my fair share of hazing; however, I was 19 years old and didn't have a beautiful wife at home who I'd rather be spending time with. When you're closing in on the big 30, it's not as exciting and fun. Just hope I don't get my dress uniformed ruined tonight!
Please pray for me!
Take care.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Bargain Shoppers

For those of you who know Leslie and I, we're not the kind of people who have to go out and buy the newest versions of stuff. Frankly, we try to be very modest in our possessions and this is simply a result of the way we were raised. When it comes to household furniture and appliances, we are pretty meticulous about making a new purchase and are willing to wait for the right deal to come our way. Well, the week was the culmination of a few big purchase items and I'd like to share them with you.
About a year before we got married, Leslie's parents gave us a nice cherry wood four post bed frame for us to use when we tied the knot. However, Leslie already had a bed frame, so I was the lucky recipient of this family heirloom. Since I didn't have a mattress or box spring to go with the bed frame, I went out and bought the most expensive one I could afford, for about $250. If you know anything about mattresses, that amount of money is practically chump change for a queen size. Yet, my beautiful bride and I spent the first 4 1/2 years of our marriage on this old mattress...until last Tuesday. After much research, we came across a nice Simmons BeautyRest mattress for less than $600!
Our next big purchase was a new computer. To make a long story short, my grad school computer tanked right before I left Iraq and Leslie was using a computer her parents bought her in 2000! Once again, we did our research and got a great HP computer for less than $500. I have to credit my dad, the ultimate electronic bargain shopper, for his guidance and expertise in all things technological.
Lastly, I upgraded my favorite musical instrument, the acoustic guitar. My wonderful mother bought me a good, inexpensive guitar in college. After our union, Les brought to our household possessions a guitar she bought in college as well; however, mine had a lot more miles on it. So, I'd been switching back and forth between them for the past several years. I'm not saying that I plan on starting a band or anything of the sort, but should the need ever arise for me to have an acoustic/electric guitar, I wanted to be prepared. On Sunday, Les and I stopped by a Guitar Center store in Nashville, and it just so happened they had a SLIGHTLY damaged Yamaha acoustic/electric guitar for just $110! It was about a $150 markdown, so I ceased on this bargain and plan to sell the two I have to offset the cost.
I hope this post isn't seen as too "materialist" or even a holier than thou, thumbing of the nose at those of you who take pride in our possessions. My only intent is to show just how God has blessed our family during these times of economic unrest. None of this was put on credit (all cash baby), but it wouldn't have been done without patience and diligence. Thanks be to God for the provision!
Take care.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Every month, Fort Campbell has established a 4 day weekend, also known as Days Of No Scheduled Activity. Because of the federal discretionary holiday of MLK day, I have enjoyed a long weekend of no work. It started out with a 14 mile hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with my best friend, Freight train (not his real name, just a term of endearment). Aside from the one other person we came across, I firmly believe we were the only two people in the whole Cades Cove area, mainly because the temperature was in the single digits! Train and I made it through the day with little to no trouble despite the cold, although the hose on my Camelbak was frozen for the first half of the trip!
Saturday was a day of rest and relaxation for the wife and I, while yesterday was consumed by a trip to Nashville to see a good friend get baptized in the morning and some window shopping the afternoon. Les and I were able to satisfy our slight crab addiction with dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. Good stuff!
Today is yet another day of R&R, with a few miscellaneous errands scheduled; however, I cannot help but be consumed with the media coverage of the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. While some view this holiday as just another day off from work, others honor this human catalyst for racial change in America. Furthermore, tomorrow we will bear witness to this man's legacy by the swearing in of our country's first black President. I pray we never stray from honoring, not on MLK's birthday, but also the dream he shared with this great nation.
By the way, please don't look upon our "luxurious" monthly 4 day weekends as an advantage to being the military, as we are almost guaranteed to work at least one weekend a month too!
Take care and may God continue to bless the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Commuting Nightmare

Rather than delving into my daily schedule and giving a brief synopsis of what I'm doing, I feel it important to describe my daily commute. While one might think that living on post and being only about 5 miles from work means a very brief drive to work each day, you are SORELY mistaken and here's why:
For some crazy reason, the military decided long ago that it was "unproductive" and "too civilian" to workout in the afternoon, or at least begin work after the sun comes up. So, my mornings start around 0530 (or what I call 0 dark 30), with my first meeting of the day beginning at 0600. As previously stated, I only have to go about 5 miles, but that's on a two-lane road with the speed limit ranging from 25-35 mph. Moreover, I go through 5 traffic lights and one very...very...very congested 3 way stop. What is more, practically everybody from both the 1st and 2nd BCT (which are right next to each other) are on the road trying to get to work as well! As a result, the 20 minutes I allocate for my commute are at times insufficient.
After our first formation of the day at 0630, we conduct our daily PT routine until 0800. Although I'm not required to be back at work until 0930, roughly 30 minutes of the 90 minutes we get for personal hygiene and breakfast is spent trying to get back across the post to my house. Sure, I could take a shower in the gym (which we're not allowed to use during PT), but about 35% of the roughly 2,000 men in the brigade are also using it to get ready for work. So, it's a no-brainer that I come home and get ready for work!
While there are both advantages and disadvantages to living on post, one significant advantage is the ability to go home whenever the need arises. I spend my lunch break at home, as well as any down time I might have during the day. But regardless, I still have a nightmarish commute each morning!
Take care.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back To Work

Ok, ok, I admit it. I've been a little TOO lazy over the past month and haven't taken the relatively short amount of time to update anyone on how things are going. Thankfully I've been able to see most of you who read my blog, and should thus be up-to-date on me and the wife. However, I feel it necessary to briefly recap my period of "Block Leave" that the Army gave me shortly after returning from theatre.
On 5 December, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team began its 30 day period of leave, in which I felt compelled to make ANOTHER trip across the Atlantic (although it was under much better circumstances). This time accompanied with the wife, we backpacked across portions of France and Italy for about 11 days. For a more in-depth synopsis of our journey, I'll once again refer you to her blog ( I signed back into the unit on 17 Dec; yet, the only work-related requirement I had was to show up for morning formation at 0630, which only occurred about 5 times thanks to the 4 day holiday weekends we got!
A couple of trips to Knoxville and Bartow, FL (Leslie's hometown) rounded out the rest of our travels over the holiday season. My four favorite f-words (Family, Friends, Football and Food) consumed a large portion of this time and the good Lord blessed us with safe travels all throughout.
This past week, unfortunately, our Brigade was required to return to work. The consensus among all my soldiers and peers was that the break went by way too fast. Luckily, we are slowly transitioning back to Garrison life. This term simply means work at home station. For those of you interested in knowing what this time consists of, that will be the main focus of my blogs this year. With the war on terror going on 8 years now, it's much easier to see what life is like during a deployment; however, I feel that the daily operations of life in Garrison also warrant attention and discussion. For that reason, I hope to continue my pursuit of shedding light on life in the military, both at home and abroad. This might not be nearly as interesting and informative as my time spent in Iraq, but hopefully it will show you how much time and effort is put into recovering after a deployment and then preparing for the next one, whenever and wherever it might be.
Hope the following posts are worth reading and please let me know if there's anything else you'd like to know.
Take care and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!