Friday, December 29, 2006


When I opened my blog this morning I was greeted by a post I'd written on this date last year. I think it might be an error on Blogger's part.

Anyways, a short week is drawing to a close today. I've got an interview lined up for today, but honestly, I spent most of the week setting myself up for next week. And I think I might have a couple decent people to work. Which is a good thing.

Not going to write much this morning, but I'll see about doing some more over the long New Year weekend.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pathetic Attempt at Debunking

I usually try and shy away from the political arena simply because I'm not very good at it. However every once in a while something comes along that makes me think and write.

Back in July, during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, there was an incident where the AP claimed that the Israelis attacked two clearly marked ambulances, injuring the occupants, some seriously. The attack was supposed to have happened on 23JUL06, and was originally reported on 24JUL06. On 1AUG06 a couple bloggers started to question the reports. Culminating in an analysis by Zombietime (which is responsible for most of the analysis I'm going to use here).

While it would make things easier if this was straighforward fraud or manipulation like the Reuters incident, it's not. Something happened on the 23rd of July which seriously injured two civilians, and injured rescue personnel. However it's not clear that this "something" was an intentional attack by the Israeli military.

After the original reporting by blogs like Zombietime and Powerline, Human Rights Watch reinvestigated the incident. They recently released the results of their investigation. They conclude that there was indeed an Israeli attack, and that to claim otherwise is to ignore the truth of the matter. Here's my problem with this conclusion: At no point do they actually prove what they claim.

That two people were admitted to various hospitals in Lebanon and transported by ambulance between them isn't, to my knowledge, in doubt. Even if it was it's not like the hospital admittance reports are available online (or in English if they were). The only evidence presented by HRW to support their claim of an Israeli attack are the ambulances themselves, and the victims.

Now, the incident happened at night, and HRW alledges that it was an attack by an Israeli armed UAV. It was pointed out the bloggers than the typical missiles fired from a UAV (Hellfires, TOWs, etc) would have done signifigantly more damage to the ambulances than we've seen, and would have left tell-tale evidence of their use in the form of shrapnel. HRW acknowledges this and, instead, claims that the missile in question was either a SPIKE anti-armor missile, the still-experimental DIME missile, or possibly some other, hitherto unknown missile. This is because, supposedly, these systems are designed to not cause a lot of shrapnel.

I'm not enough of an expert to judge the damage done to the ambulances. However I do have some questions that just don't seem to be answered anywhere.

This is a picture of one of the ambulances (#782) the day after the attack took place. This is a picture from the rear of the ambulance. The presence of so much rust so soon after the attacks was something that made various bloggers question the age of the damage. HRW dismissed those questions by saying that the Lebanese coast is actually quite humid and has a high salt content which causes rapid rusting. I'm going to assume that's true. Even though I'd thought Lebanon was more of a desert, it makes sense that on the coast it would be more humid, and exposed metal will for rust quickly. The presence of rust on these vehicles isn't indicative of the vehicles not being damaged on July 23rd 2006.

Now, this photo is what made me question the presence of the rust. It's tough to do a straight comparison between the two images. However HRW claims that the ambulance in the background is #782, the same ambulance shown above. If you look at the rear of the ambulance in this picture there doesn't appear to be any difference in the amount of rust present on the ambulance. If coastal Lebanon's air is so salty and corrosive as to cause the extensive rust shown in the first picture in less than a day, how is it that the rust didn't spread any further in over two months (the HRW pictures were taken in mid September). Maybe it's an issue which can't be addressed based on the images provided, but it doesn't seem to me that there has been any additional corrosion to the vehicles, despite more time to the harsh Lebanese sea air.

Another issue originally brought up by the critical bloggers was the fact that the windshield on #782 was blown in. The original story reported that #782 was the ambulance first hit so the windshield should have been blown outwards. HRW goes to great lengths to explain how the vehicles were arranged and that the other ambulance, #777, was actually the first hit. To HRW this explained why the windshield on #782 was blown inside of the ambulance. However while HRW was going into detail on the arrangement of the ambulances, it ignored a second issue that is clearly shown in their own pictures.

Above is a picture from HRW taken in SEP which shows the entry point for ambulance #777, the first ambulance hit. They claim the large hole in the roof is the entry point while the smaller hole in the floor was the exit point. They make no attempt to answer the question of what the other dozen or so holes around the entry point are. Originally I figured that they were from shrapnel from the missile. However, if you look, all of the holes are going into the vehicle, not exploding out like shrapnel would. For the missile in question to have caused the gashes seen in this picture it would have had to detonate above the vehicle, and then sprayed shrapnel as it entered the vehicle. There are weapons which are capable of such damage, the systems that HRW claimed were used are not. So, what could have caused this damage? HRW doesn't address it. Personally it looks like someone took an axe to the roof and gouged out some holes. And to return to a point I'd made before, in this picture of #777, taken two months after the attack, shows that the highly corrosive Lebanese air caused all of its damage in the span of a single day, and then ceased rusting the exposed metal.

HRW does take us to somplace I hadn't seen before. The site of the attack. The image here is of the hole left in the ground by the missile that HRW claims was used.

Now, maybe I'm just stupid, but it seems to me that if you were looking for evidence of the type of weapons used in an attack, checking the hole in the ground made by the weapon would be a good place to start. Regardless of the special non-fragmentation technology used in a missile, if the projectile has enough energy and mass to make a hole in asphalt there'd be material left in the hole. Again, I'm not an expert here, but that is the first place I'd look. Maybe HRW did, maybe they didn't, but it's a topic they fail to address other than to say they found no evidence of the missile in question, and that Israelis are developing weapons capable of leaving no shrapnel or fragments. You know what, I just realized that they did address it when they said they found no evidence.

HRW deserves some credit for reinvestigating a controversial claim they made. However their case still boils down to the assumption that the attack was caused by the Israelis. The evidence they present is a blank slate. The witnesses descriptions boil down to being present at an attack of some sort. The physical evidence can easily be viewed to represent a missile attack by Israel, or as after-the-fact tampering by parties unknown. I know that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but that still doesn't excuse HRW of charging the attack as an Israeli attack when there remains no supporting evidence. The theory that the attack wasn't the result of Hezbollah is dismissed by HRW for lack of evidence, yet this same lack of evidence is proof of Israeli involvement. It's a double standard.

Either the evidence supports claims of Israeli involvement, or it does not. Personally, I think there is enough discrepancy between the description of the attack and the resulting damage to question HRW's conclusion that was obviously an Israeli attack. And while I applaud HRW for taking the initiative to reinvestigate the incident, I don't know if the same person who wrote

The unacceptably high death toll is the natural result of Israel's failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets, and Israel is responsible for the deaths.
is the same person to lead an impartial investigation into a supposed Israeli attack.

Anyways, my muse has exhausted herself and it's time to go kill orcs.


It's been a while since I actually wrote something. I'd started about seven posts over the past week, none of which met me, admittedly low, standards. I think one of the aborted posts consisted of nothing but me describing what was on my desk. I don't know if I can get writer's block since I don't "write" so much as I blather senslessly, but whatever it is I've got it.

With the holidays so many trainees have returned home for the exodus. Those not familiar with the Army and training, exodus is when the training bases release trainees for about two weeks over the Christmas and New Years holidays. It's not done for the express purpose of giving the trainees a break, but the trainers. For all the hours and work we put in on recruiting people, those who train them put in similar hours under similar stresses. This is two weeks for those Soldiers to get time with their families and away from the grind of training the future of the Army.

The recent graduates I'd mentioned before got me to thinking about my own grads. The most rewarding part of this recruiting thing has been to see the enlistees return. They're no longer civilians but Soldiers, and that's pretty awesome. Seeing them come home, fit, standing tall, looking good makes for a proud feeling. Seeing someone who you had to chase around town, get up at all hours of the day, occasionally babysit through the process, make it through and come back does make for a good moment. Since I recruit for the Reserve these are Soldiers who I, personally, escort to their units and introduce them. In these units I'm associated with these Soldiers. When I visit the Reserve centers I hear about the people I enlist. Luckily the praise outweighs the critism by leaps and bounds.

Recruiting is not all suck. It really isn't. It can seem that way, but things could be worse. I don't give a fair and balanced view of this assignment because, well, I don't always write about the good or the fun. I've tried but that isn't what makes me want to write. I did study journalism for a semester in college so I do have a bit of the "it bleeds it leads" mentality. A recruiter having a decent run isn't really interesting. A recruiter going through a bad stretch is. I've seen actual proof of this. My readership increases when I write about bad things happening. It goes from seven (Hi mom!) to nine. However after a week of not writing anything it's probably down to two (Bye mom!). Oh well.

Anyways, Christmas has come and gone. I did manage to get a bit of snow when I went to Flagstaff on Friday. If my camera's batteries hadn't died I'd have provided a couple pictures of real Arizona snow. It died though so you'll just have to take it on faith. My uniforms just finished drying so it's time to suit up and find someone else to put into the Army.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Another grad

Patrick68W and Polynikes have both completed their training. Well, Patrick68W is only done with BCT and still has a few months of AIT ahead of him, but he's out of Basic and probably enjoying a bit of time at home.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Changing the Subject

Couldn't think of a better title. Quite honestly the risk/work-reward ratio is no longer worth it. I've never minded bringing pain upon myself, but I've now brought others into it. My ego and selfishness wrote a check that I could not cash.

Without metaphor: I fucked up.

This isn't a change being ordered from above. I'm honoring the request of someone who I have the deepest respect and admiration for, and did not want to involve in this particular bit of insanity. What I'd said earlier this morning, and I've erased since, was an unprofessional whine. And because I didn't read it from another perspective it cast an unfavorable light on people who are nothing but professionals and supportive.

Anyways, I don't know where I go from here, but I do know that I need to change the subject.

Firday is here


I took the rope I was given and ran with it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Defense Travel System

The DTS is, quite possibly, the stupidest military website I've ever run across.
Featuring the best practices in industry and plug-and-play components, Defense Travel System streamlines the entire process involved in global Department of Defense (DoD) travel.
If that is the case then American industry is screwed. Screwed and screwed hard. And it deserves its screweditude. I'm curious what industry they used as the benchmark. The only industry where this website should be considered "best practices" is the "pain management" industry. Because after trying to adjust my credit card information I'd prefer intense physical pain to logging into DTS again.

Trying to use DTS makes me want to run for a national elected office so I can get put onto a committee where I can launch an investigation into the motivation for implementing DTS. Somehow I doubt that my "Investigate DTS" campaign platform will resonate with a lot of voters though. Maybe by the time I'm elected to the House of Representives or the Senate enough people will dislike DTS as well. Anyone know when the deadline for form an election committee is? I might want to start planning.

I'm sure I'm in the insignifigant minority of people who do not like DTS, but I'm there. The always brilliant Elusive Concept nailed my feelings on this topic last week.

When I originally entered the service travel pay was a slow process. You had to mail vouchers and receipts to DFAS and it would take a couple weeks at best before you'd get a check mailed back to you. The first change for the better was to allow for direct deposit of travel pay, and eventually direct deposit was mandatory. Shortly after I was promoted to Staff Sergeant DFAS started to accept faxed vouchers and receipts. This was wonderful. At this point travel payments were received in about 10 business days and submission involved completing two sheets of paper then pressing the "DFAS" button on the fax machine.

Then someone, somewhere had the bright idea to go "If it ain't broke, break it." And they did. So now I find myself in a bizarro world where I'm required to have a credit card I no longer have, and never used when I did have it. And because I don't have that credit card I cannot submit travel documents, or make the adjustments necessary to allow submission of travel documents. I can only hope that the system used to collect my pay from when my laptop becomes a wall fixture is similar to DTS.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


If one were to look through my draft posts list on Blogger you'd find about a dozen different half-written, quarter-thought-out posts where the primary subject is how much I hate, hate, hate recruiting. I never finish them because they're bitchy, repetitive, and I've been counseled three times by my chain of command because of this blog. I've come away form each with my First Amendment rights mostly intact (I'm a Soldier so I realize I only get to exercise that right within set boundaries), but I've taken some advice from wise sources to heart and I try to avoid topics that are bound to get me standing at attention or parade rest.

Mission Monday was last night. The prior service I'd mentioned last week enlisted which made me happy because it got me off a nut. Because of the testing requirements the 09L wasn't able to enlist, but is still good to go for sometime. He's got a couple days off this week and he'll enlist then. So I'll be off a nut in the first week. While I despise having someone on the floor who can't enlist, it's nice when they enlist later. As I often tell people "It's not like you won't need a contract next week/month/quarter."

I've been debating going back to school to finish my lurnin'. My first time in college got derailed by the Three A's: Apathy, Alcohol, and Academic Probation. It's been a while now and I'm not terribly far from finishing my degree. I don't know what the degree would be, but I'm not far from finishing it. My issue though becomes what to do with the badge on my chest.

When I first in-processed the 1SG at the time mentioned how he'd liked to have someone at my station enrolled in the local community college. Because I was a stupid new recruiter I took him at his word. The plan was quickly scuttled when I told my station commander at the time that I was going to go over there and enroll for the next semester. That was the day I learned that nothing comes before production (this is an important lesson Army Sean). Ever since then any time I get it in my little brain to do something to make myself better I have a night where I work until 10, or I'm on the road to some far flung corner of the state. I know I could do some online thing, but the internet isn't for school, it's for games and naughty pictures. Besides, I lack the attention span to take a class online. Particulary after seeing my much-smarter-than-I wife get frustrated by some online classes she was taking.

Oh well, this is a new month and we've got like four days worth of holidays coming up. Awesome. I don't really have a very deep funnel though so I'll undoubtedly wind up cursing the lack of processing days when I can't get someone enlisted because MEPS is shut down for the week.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Well, I've spent the better part of the month being the World's Worst Recruiter. With a single day left in the recruiting month I've got my last hurrah lining up. Monday is D-Day for me and I've got the possibility of two people hitting the floor that day. I've got a med review/waiver who will be looked at tomorrow, and the possibility of a 09L maybe, if things go right, getting some processing done as well. It's a whole lot of maybe for a slight chance to not suck, but when you're on a nut you do what you have to.

Normally I'd be very unhappy with my suckitude, but SGT Cheeks finally came through and managed to write three so far this month. Because of his efforts the station is good to go. I just need to write something to keep myself off the suck list and to maybe get some points. So it's a different type of failure. I'm only failing myself rather than the station. I'm just anxious because having a pending med waiver or a special missions contract on the floor guarantees I'll be at the battalion until COB in USAREC on that day. This would mark the third month in a row I got to see the battalion OPS section in inaction on the final day of the month. I should see about getting a building ID for when I'm down there at 2200.

Oh, and in dork news, I changed my background on my laptop. It's now an Autobots symbol. You can get your very own here!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Filling the void

Sorry for the lack of posting this week. Been busy trying, and failing, to remove myself from the Worst Recruiter Ever list. Looks like it isn't going to happen. Oh well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


No, it's not me trying to get an extra day off for a wedding anniversary. Today is the 5th anniversary of Mrs. SFC B's 25th Birthday. So if y'all would wish her a "Happy Anniversary" I'm sure she'd hate me for announcing it to the five readers who are not Mrs. SFC B or my mom (Hi Mom!).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

RIP Golden Valley and We Have Met the Enemy

If you happen to get a call from the cops about Golden Valley, AZ going missing, I was with you that evening. Right?

Anyways, the person for whom I endured off-roading in a sedan decided that he wasn't ready. He's going to find a job and finish school. I almost broke my cell phone.

Of course I didn't hear this from the applicant. The applicant was too big of a coward to actually tell me this. He had to first spend the day having his 8 year old sister lie for him. And then he had to have his mother lie for him to the point where I had to call in a favor with a recruiter in the area to go out and hot knock the kid. The recruiter went out of his house and was STILL unable to see the kid in person. First the kid wouldn't answer the door, so the recruiter went next door to where the grandparents lived and called from there. STILL the kid wouldn't answer and STILL had his kid sister lie for him.

There are plenty of brave women out there who are serving, or who want to serve. I do not mean what I'm about to say as a slight to them or their gender.

This applicant is a freaking pussy. I hate when a grown man can not muster up enough courage to tell another person "no". I take that back, he is not a grown man. He had to first hide behind his sister and then his mom. And rather than take the still-weak-but-at-least-it's-an-answer route and have either his sister or mom say he's not interested, he had them stall me and delay me. Make excuses for why he's not home or not returning a call. As if I was going to lose interest in a person who told me face-to-face "Yes SFC B, I am ready to become a Soldier." I guess he was lying to me then too.

I'm going to keep following up with this applicant, now referred to as "Mr. Boy". When Mr. Boy enlists, ships, and graduates I'll upgrade him to a better pseudonym. Until that point Mr. Boy will suffice. Anyways, going to keep following up with him until he finally gets a job flipping burgers somewhere. Not to denigrate hard work, but there are not a whole lot of other options for people who left HS prior to graduating and don't want to take a GED.

This has put me into a foul mood. Mr. Boy sat in front of me, his mom, his sister, and his grandparents and said he was going to join the Army. If I was in that position I'd join the Army just to avoid letting my family realize I was spineless and can't keep my word. That his mom lied for him speaks volumes I suppose. His grandparents were at least refreshing when they told me they knew he was going to do that because he's been that way all his life. When I was talking with his grandfather he expressed to me how glad he was Mr. Boy was making this decision to enlist because it was the most adult thing he'd ever done. Grandfather Boy is less than happy now as well. If only because it's another immature mouth to feed.

On a different note the focus of recruiting for us is moving to the left. On the chart of Appointment Made, Appt. Conducted, ASVAB, PHYS, Enlist the past few months have focused a good deal on the right side. Even the far ight side. To the point where I had managed to get my Makes to Contracts to about 2-1. However recently the focus has shifted from the right to the left. And not just any shift left. A focus on appointments being made over the phone.

This means mandated prospecting methods and times. I have a love/hate relationship with mandated prospecting. I hate it because they never mandate something which actually works for me. I love it because, since it's being mandated, it alleviates me, as a recruiter, of the responsibility for if it fails. If I have to make 25 hours of P1 a week, but my history shows another lead source is more valuable, and I'm not allowed to do that as much, then it wasn't my idea. Anyway, the shift of focus to P1 is apparently being driven by data that shows we're not writing enough contracts from P1. I wasn't aware that there is a requirement to have contracts come from particular lead sources. However apprently the new FY has introduced not only enlistment categories, but those categories now have categories. It's not enough to write a GA and a PS. I now have to write a P1GA and a P2PS.

I'm exaggerating, but that's what we're being told in my world.

I think I've said it before, I'm too lazy to look through my own archives, but in recruiting we really are our own worst enemy. Instead of taking advantage of very local recruiting possibilities we have the IMO coming down and making sure no one is using their own MySpace to recruit. God forbid someone uses a free service to develop a slick website that attracts people who are looking for people in their area. If one of them happens to contact that recruiter and enlist, then the Army is getting a contract for an advertising expenditure of $0. But we're not supposed to do that.

Between Craigslist, Backpage, Yahoo Groups, MySpace, Blogspot, and other free, online tools there are countless ways that USAREC and recruiters could make some hyper local advertising at a minimal cost to the government. Instead of assisting recruiters in this by providing website branding kits, banner and logo links, talking points for use online, or anything along those lines, we have higher commands coming down to make sure we're not doing that. This is something I've talked about before. We make this job harder on ourselves when we limit our ways of communicating with the population and getting out our message. Whether that message is the availability of bonuses or the accomplishment of our forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

My opinion, my opinion alone, but I think that, people would put more trust and faith into what is announced or reported by CENTCOM, DOD, what have you, if they can see what is being said by these commands was also being said by the Soldiers within the commands. If CENTCOM does a press release announcing that some unit somewhere in Iraq connected a village in the Anbar providence that had been without power in a decade, AND a Soldier assigned to the unit who did the installation is able to write on his blog to his friends and family about their accomplishment then that builds a bit more trust. Sure, it starts small, but that's how it started back when Iraq first kicked off.

I don't know if there is a solution beyond "Everyone shut-up". I'd like to think there is a happy medium between Draconian measures to stop non-official comments and a wholly free market where some disgruntled trooper in some cav troop can start their own website where they give detailed instructions on how to attack US and Iraqi forces. But this digresses from my original tangent about recruiting on free advertising.

A year ago myself and SSG George had to go visit the local newspaper to get their ad rates and circulation numbers. After crunching some numbers I think we arrived at an ad that was going to cost several hundred dollars, and it would reach about 2,000 people in our target market. This was for one week. $500 for 2,000 people. I get that traffic in about a month for free. It's not a perfect comparison, but I put no effort or money into it beyond my own time at home. I don't even try and recruit. I don't solicit publicity and I don't attempt to grow my market beyond the seven people (Hi mom!) who happen to sometimes read what I write.

There are several thousand recruiters in the Army. You'd think that some of them, somewhere, would have the knowledge and initiative to make their own successful recruiting website. However that is not encouraged and our intetnet prospecting is limited to bulk emails of 25 at a time.

Anyways, it's late, I'm tired.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I beg to differ sir

The other day Rep. Charles Rangel, who Darth Commando talked about last week, went ahead and joined John Kerry in just saying things that just rankle the cockles of a Soldier's heart. From Rep. Rangel's recent TV appearance:
No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.
While Senator Kerry's comments were just part of a vlubbed joke there isn't much mistakeing Rep. Rangel's comments. Unless of course Fox News cut off Rangel's Borat-like "NOT" at the end.

I'm not insulted by this. As far as I'm concerned Rep. Rangel is simply doing his job as an elected member of our government. That he's woefully ill-informed of the demographics of his own country's military is something you'd think the voters in his district would be glad to learn.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Catching up

Had a good Thanksgiving. Fun was had, turkey was eaten, beer was consumed, my fantasy team got off to a good start on the legs of Marion Barber III. All-in-all a good day.

In the run-up to Thanksgiving I ran into a former applicant of mine, Mr. Hanging. Often I don't give a full picture of the people I process when I write about them. I'm limited in what I can say for a couple of reasons. I'm not a very good writer, I can't get into too many details, and there is a selection bias at work here. I'm usually not going to write about the leads, prospects, applicants, and future soldiers who are ready, willing, and able to go. Misery fuels my muse so only things that piss me off get written about.

Over a year ago I processed a person who was trying to join the Army. I'd nicknamed him Mr. Hanging/Robb (I don't always keep my names straigt). Despite my less-than-flattering description in my blog of this applicant I was actually glad to work with him. He had his warts but he also had the attitude of being able to become a good Soldier. I'd recently visited the unit to which he was assigned and his commander was telling me I needed to find more of, now, PFC Hanging because he was a squared away Soldier. That made me feel good inside.

As luck would have it I was out getting eggs the night before Thanksgiving and I happened to run into PFC Hanging. He came up to me and was quick to thank me for working with him because he's loved the past year he's been in the Army. He was telling me all about his past drill and how he can't wait to get promoted to SPC in a couple months (I couldn't believe I've been doing this long enough for my enlistees to be in line for E4). He also made my day when he told me about a co-worker of his who wants to join. I'll be going by their work on Monday to talk with him.

I tell this story because PFC Hanging represents the "lowering" of the Army's standards. He enlisted into the Army with a serious offense waiver. The waivers who some view as a lowering of the standards and diminishing the force. Thanks to the two weeks of work that went into assembling and processing PFC Hanging's waiver a unit commander now has a Soldier who he wants more of. And this is just the most recent example of something I've noticed a couple times. I've processing several waivers in my time in recruiting, and I've never heard a single discouraging word about any of the now Soldiers I processed as a waiver. I've beaten this horse before, but sometimes it needs to be beaten again just to make sure it's dead.

When my seven readers (Hi Mom!) go on about their day and maybe some time in the future read some story in the paper about the Army lowering their standards to meet recruiting objectives please think back to this post. Oh, and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dr. SFC B-love or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the drive

Sorry for the long title Blogger. I hope you don't break.

This is a story about three characters.
Our hero, SFC B.

His trusty sidekick and confidante 'Bu.

And The State of Arizona.

So anyway, now that the cast for this has been introduced let me give you some background. I'd gotten a lead for a person in Golden Valley, AZ. If you're looking at the map above Phoenix is in the middle of the map, and Golden Valley is about a fingernail's width away from the faaaaaar northwest corner of the state. It's a long drive. It's a long drive made maddening by the fact that there is nothing there.
I also have a couple dozen more pictures I may one day assemble into a presentation I'll call "Joshua Trees at 1/10th the Speed of Sound". When it's due to hit a gallery in your area I'll let you know.

Anyways, while the scenery is impressive in it's expansiveness, the audio experience leaves a good bit to be desired.

My record is having that happen 17 times in a row. Is there a law in Mexico that requires all Mexican music to contain the word "corazon"? Because as near as I can tell they all do.

The only stop between Wickenburg, AZ and Kingman, AZ is the town of Wikiup. Prior to Tuesday I figured Wikiup was known for only one thing. And that thing is a rocket with Snoopy, Spike, and Woodstock on it.


I learned that the Shell station in Wikiup also makes The World's Worst Coffee. I mean it was terrible. I couldn't have made worst tasting coffee with a jar of popcorn kernals, soiled underwear, the spill tray from under the tap at a bar, and a $15,000,000 research grant from Folgers to brew the worst tasting coffee ever. It was foul. I took a picture of it but its image doesn't show up on film or digital formats.

So anyway, after my adventures in Wikiup I finally arrived at Golden Valley. Now, Golden Valley is kind of deceptive. The road you arrive into Golden Valley on is paved.

Apparently after paving the main road there was no money left to pave any other road in Golden Valley. Now, I've gone to some out-of-the-way places to conduct an appointment. And after the four hour drive, and the World's Worst Cup of Coffee I was not going to let something like an improved surface road stop me. After all, 'Bu can handle that. I've seen him do it.

It got worse.

And worse.

And worse still.

At this point I thought I was screwed.

I wasn't though. I channeled my inner MacGuyver and overcame the canyon by using my toothbrush, deoderant, gym bag, planning guide, and extra socks. I'd tell you how I did it but I don't want to bore you with a lot of technical details. I would have taken some pictures of the crossing but I had to dismantle my camera to make a special fuel to power the deoderant and toothbrush jet engine I'd made.

I'd gone a couple more miles down the rabbit trail this prospect lived on when I came upon a mighty guardian.

I could see the prospect's house right behind the guardian so I knew I was close. The guardian offered me two choices. Best him in mortal combat, or answer his three riddle. I have a number of rules by which I lead my life. Some of them come into play every day like "shoes after pants". Some I use less frequently like "Don't shop the day after Thanksgiving". A rule I figured I'd never have to use, but I had it just in case was "Don't engage in mortal combat with a big red guy in a loin cloth". Apparently I'd always had this rule in preparation for this day. While his questions were very difficult to answer I can provide some help. Because of the nature of this nearly supernatural challenge I cannot reveal the actual questions, or the order in which they're asked, if I do so my self and my family for 17 generations will suffer a plague of boils, but I can share with you the answers to his challenge are "a pickle", "The Assyrian Empire", and "Guilllaume de Machaut".

Anyways, after drinking the essence of death, treating 'Bu like it was a back-up car in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, and putting a class I took in college about 14th century French poets to use in the real world I was able to reach the prospect's house. As luck would have it he's now an applicant and I should be able to get myself off the nut on which I am currently.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with people who care about them. I will not since I'll be at the house of a co-worker. Mrs. SFC B will be there as well, but she doesn't care about me so much as tolerate my presence because I'm good at what I do.

She's going to hit me for saying that, but she'd hit me even harder if she knew was I was going to write their originally.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tale of Two Conducts

Got some good news this evening. Originally there was going to be training on Wednesday, but supposedly it has been canceled. This is good news because this week is already down to three days because of the holiday. Losing another day to training would have limited my work week to two days. This is not a good thing.

Today two of the appointments I made were conducted. I like it when that happens. Makes me look like I'm doing something. Unfortunatly neither of them will be joining this week or month for two different reasons.

The first appointment was a referral from my 09L Future Soldier. The appointment is a relative of my FS who came over to the US w/ my FS's family. He's pretty damned ready to go which is a good thing. However since he's a 09L the process can't start until next week, and then I'll have to deal with the inevitable goat-roping that comes from trying to get the OPIs scheduled. You'd think after five of these I'd stop getting upset about it, but I don't. Maybe the next will be the charm.

The second appointment was far less productive. It was one of those appointments that when I made it I knew it wasn't going to work out well. The prospect goes to a school that is... um... less quality. And he admitted to not doing well there. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have even gone to the appointment normally, but it's coming up on the holiday season, and I figured "what the heck". Well, score one for the gut instinct.

Between no commitment to his own education, and no demonstrated grasp of the concepts someone should have learned in three years of high school, this prospect did not do well on the EST. Not well at all. I could count to his score on two hands. Without using binary. This is the sort of thing which I would usually let bother me until tomorrow, but Mrs. SFC B made a delicious chili and it took my mind off the stupid.

Oh, and someone's house I drove by today already has their Christmas lights up. I hope they realize their neighbors hate them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm not long winded...

Bill Whittle is long winded. But he's wicked smart and a much, much better writer. So go ahead and set aside the next 30 minutes of your life to go read one of his shorter entries.

Thanks for your concern

Well, Michael Moore posted a letter to try and make those who were rooting for the other horse in the recent elections feel a bit better. Granted, the last time I paid attention to anything Mr. Moore wrote was when said the insurgents in Iraq and the Minutemen of the American Revolution were the same, and that the insurgency was going to defeat the US. Prior to that I'd considered Mr. Moore a charlatan who made his fortune through slick editing and magician-like misdirection. After that letter he became a useful idiot who was going to be a tool for those who were opposing the US. I don't know exactly what he's done since then. Hell, I thought he died when he blew up a secret government facility hidden inside Mt. Rushmore. Turns out I was wrong.

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I doubt he actually wanted to direct this to me. I'm not exactly conservative in the way I think he means. But I'm reading the letter so it might as well be addressed to SFC B.

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election.
Not really. It was an election. The party I wanted to win didn't, but it's not like the American Communist Party of National Socialists was swept into office. Hell, Lieberman won in CT and Webb in VA is probably more conservative than the Republican he defeated. Besides, it's not like those who were voted out were really doing anything all that great to begin with.
You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand.
Has it really been 12 years since the guy who was my best man was so very thrilled with the election? Wow, how time flies when you're not paying attention. As for what direction the country may or may not go, I'll wait until someone new actually takes office before I worry about the direction it's headed. Right now it's all a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans.
I get a small degree of pleasure from the thought of Mr. Moore choking on his own spittle when he realizes that many politicians are not willing to put their careers on the line by supporting the policies of a person who openly called for the defeat of his own country.
You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.(emphasis included)
Newfound power? I can imagine him chortling like a bowl full of jelly when he wrote that. As if a radioactive spider just granted his party of choice the strength to move mountains. I have an instinctive dislike of the government trying to do anything to me or for me. I dislike it when it's done by either side of the aisle.
Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:
Dear Conservatives and Republicans,
I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:
This should be good.
1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.
I don't know if I call you unpatriotic. I'd call you a useful idiot at best, a defeatist at worst. I'm glad to know that "unpatriotic" is off the table. Now we just have to worry about being called a torturer, a murderer, or an lazy and uneducated. And that's just how the small segment of society that serves in the military is treated. But at least patriotism wouldn't be questioned.
2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.
Actually, if enough of you consider a behavior to be "different" or "immoral" then you won't allow people to amrry who you want to marry. Does Mr. Moore not understand how this voting thing works? Did a gay marriage amendment pass when I wasn't looking? Was there a rider to some legislation which allowed gay marriage that I didn't read when I went over my ballot? Did the election of a Democratic majority actually make the majority of the people in the US decide to change their minds regarding marriage? Cart before the horse here.
3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.
So, what will you spend it on? As for my checkbook, Mrs. SFC B handles that very well thankyouverymuch. However I'm glad to see he recognizes that my checkbook belongs to me "too". I know I'm mixing metaphors, but this "pledge" really is flying in the face of several decades of prescedent. While I'm less than thrilled that my taxes were not cut to the bare minimum required for basic government services by the Republican majority, I'm not too stupid to realize that the only way for the government to have a surplus in the budget is if they took too much money from me. I'd much rather have the government a little overdrawn than in the black. But I'm not an economist.
4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.
Cut. and. run. Depressing. Moore is straight-up channeling John Kerry back in the 70's with the "mistake", and there are so many things wrong with "lie" that I can't think of where to start. I'm just not in the mood to argue a strawman while I'm making a pathetic attempt to fisk.
5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.
Universal health coverage does not bode well for the future of my income taxes. It will also make America the last Western democracy where cutting edge medical research and treatment is done. You'd think someone as rich as Mr. Moore would better understand how profit can be a more motivating factor than altruism. Canada is another Western democracy with universal health care, and they were the only Western nation to suffer a SARS outbreak a couple years ago because the delays in their health care system prevented those ill from being identified, isolated, and treated in a timely manner. I can't go shopping for groceries without having someone offer me a flu shot. People in the country illegally don't get turned away from urgent care. That everyone in the nation can't afford bleeding edge medical treatment for everything that ails them strikes me as a "too bad, I'm sorry" moment. That universal health care probably wouldn't cover stem cell treatment because it's too expensive and unproven strikes me as ironic. With the profit motive diminished by universal health care wouldn't it delay the research, development, treatment, and acceptance of stem cell research? I'm glad Mr. Moore doesn't have a problem with letting those who disagree with him access to the same treatments he'll be able to receive. However his hope for equal care for all would likely ruin the chance for those advancements to happen.
6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

And what magic wand will be waved to do this? I assume this means that the Democratic majority will pursue a policy of supporting and encouraging clean, safe nuclear power plants. Maybe they'll offer tax breaks and research grants to industries that lower their emissions and cut down on pollution. One can hope.
7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.
Unless the methods to used to track him down involve monitoring of financial transactions or phones calls from know terrorists to people in the US. I'm going to call straight bullshit on this one. The Democratic minority showed no interest at all in actually supporting methods to help capture terrorists.
8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.
And the women of Earth heave a sigh of relief that Michael Moore's nose will never go near their womb. Cheap shot. I know. I'm sorry. I should be a better person than that.

I'm all about there not being laws restricting what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home. I have a very personal dislike of the thought of it being legal to kill a person when they're able to survive outside the womb. And because of that I don't like the thought of abortions being legal after a certain point. Where that point is will probably be debated until Rapture, but I'd much rather err on the side of caution than not. If forced to choose between barring all abortion, and allowing all abortions I'll choose the former. That Mr. Moore by this statement prefers the latter is his own call. I think he's wrong, but I think that about a lot of his opinions.
9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.
I'd prefer to hunt with a rifle rather than a gun, but that's just my personal choice and I don't like hunting anyway so it's probably a moot point. I'd feel a lot better about gun control if the people advocating it had any idea what they were talking about. I agree with Mr. Moore that there is very little need for a civilian to own a M2. But I doubt that Mr. Moore appreciates the difference between an automatic, semi-automatic, and single shot weapon. In his Bowling for Columbine he displayed a willingness to outright lie about gun ownership procedures and I don't consider him an honest broker when it comes to gun ownership. The best way I can think of to protect my own children, when I have some, is through the proper application of force against threats to their well-being. To me that includes the use of deadly force should the situation require. Mr. Moore can afford to hire professionals for the protection of his family and property. I'm limited to what caliber the state will allow me to own. If that's my limit I want the biggest caliber, capacity, and rate of fire I can find
10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.
I'll ignore that he said that conservatives will only be able to make minimum wage because I know he didn't mean that. However I wonder what new social programs will be implemented to help those who are now unemployed because their employers can't afford as many employees at the new minimum wage. Sure, it's great for those who survive the firings, but it sucks for the poor bastards now unemployed. The "pay women less" amendment must have been one the same referendum where gay marriage was allowed. I looked at Mrs. SFC B's pay stub and it turns out she earns the same as a male who works the same hours and has the same seniority. I looked for the different male and female pay charts for the government and I didn't find one. That women as a whole make less than men as a whole isn't a function of gender discrimination. Maybe this is Mr. Moore's way of letting the WNBA know that soon laws will be passed that require them to be to signed to $100,000,000 contracts? Who knows.
11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.
"Blessed are the peacemakers"? Maybe Mr. Moore is more pro-gun than I'd imagined? The irony of him quoting that camel-needle passage just smacked me in the head like a frozen fish. Mr. Moore is fricking loaded. He's written a couple of best selling books, and two mof his movies have been box-office hits, one of which won an Oscar. However I'm glad to see they're going to work to stop religious fanatascism here at home. Lord knows it's time for us to stop living in fear of religious extremists blowing up our buses, beheading kidnap victims, and acting like murderous savages in general.
12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.
Okay. If you say so. Good luck going after the few dozen Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff. Oh, and Mr. Moore, while you're crusading to abolish corruption from government the presumptive Speaker of the House is touting a federal judge impeached for corruption as chairman for the Intelligence Committee. Oh, and the presumptive speaker is also backing for House Majority Leader the same person who unjustly called a squad of Marines murderers, and is one of the best practisioners of the black art of congressional earmarks. Appointing someone impeached for corruption and someone who has made a career out of getting a much money for his district by whatever means necessary is not a good start on reducing corruption. However, this is all theorhetical since no one has actually been appointed to a new position yet. Maybe the next month will see a turn-around of epic proportions and the newly elected class of 2006 will become a paragon of virtue ushering us into an era of greatness.
I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.
I promise you a pony. It doesn't mean I'm able to make it happen. Mr. Moore, sou say we sink or swim as a country, yet you've spent the past six years acting as an anchor, publicly advocating the defeat of your nation's armed forces and policy just to score a point. When people thought your statement advocating the defeat of your own country to be "unpatriotic" you wrapped yourself in a flag of Nobility of Dissent like it was an aegis against just critisim of your words. Your career has been based on a bullet like dedication to presenting a one-sided view, even if you need to blatantly manipulate the truth to present your version. Your championing the working class while flying first class, and hording your millions reeks of rank hypocrisy. But that's my opinion and what do I know?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Got home tonight after an appointment thinking I'd be able to get a couple hours of dorkdom in while Mrs. SFC B was at class. I was wrong. Turns out their new expansion is launching today and I have a six hour download for software I'm not going to be able to use, but require. Damnit.

Anyway, with the evening now free of orc killing I figured I'd blather unintelligently for a while. I apologize in advance for the horrors of randomness that are sure to follow.

This past weekend Cinemax ran all the Star Wars movies back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. For the entire weekend. I almost OD'd on geek. I'd forgotten how entertaining the original Star Wars and Empire were. They are easily my two favorites of the franchise, with Empire winning out simply because I like the scene where Han and Leia meet Darth Vader in Cloud City. I'd put Revenge of the Sith as my third favorite. The movie isn't really all that great when compare to non Star Wars movies, but it's better than the rest of the franchise. Attack of the Clones would be fourth simply because there is no other place to put it since I think that Return of the Jedi sucks Ewok testes, and Phantom Menace sucks Ewok testes on toast with a helping of Jar-Jar jam.

Seeing the Phantom Menace again just reminded me of the visceral hatred I had for that movie. It's not so much a hatred of the movie itself, which isn't very good, but the decision to have Jar-Jar Binks in it. George Lucas must have inhaled half the primary export of Columbia to have thought that Jar Jar was a good idea. How many psychophantic yes men did he have to have on his staff to keep telling him that Jar Jar was a good idea? How much did the other actors have to be paid to shut their pie holes and say that the dialogue of their computer generated co-star was a good idea? Ahmed Best, who was Jar Jar's voice, must have had to cry himself to sleep every night after doing the voice work. The animators at ILM who created Jar Jar should be taken out back and shot, their heads set on spikes outside movie studios the world over as a warning to others. Meesa no likey Jar Jar.

I feel dirty for typing that.

While there were no Star Wars movies on the TV tonight, there was another movie starring Ewan McGregor on which I did enjoy. Stay is a movie which I had no interest in seeing when it was first in theatres. Something about Ryan Gosling makes me want to punch him (I'm suffering from caffine and sugar withdrawl so please forgive the occasional violent outbursts). But the movie has been on one of the three dozen movie channels lately and I've watched it a couple times now. There's something about having movies come into my room cheap-as-free that makes me tolerate watching them. Stay is a movie I do like. It's got a very different premise and plot, and its cinematography makes me go "ooh" sometimes. Plus it has the song "Angel" by Massive Attack playing while in a strip club. I'm not usually into that house-techno-electronic thing, but "Angel" is, to me at least, an ungodly sexy song. It's music to ____ by, and that has value. Although the video makes no sense to me.

Part of the reason I like Stay is that its plot is something I've always thought would make for an interesting story. I don't know if any of my seven readers were planning on seeing the movie, but if you were be warned.


The plot of the movie is that McGregor plays a psycharist trying to prevent a patient from killing himself at a specific place and time three days from the start of the movie. As MacGregor talks to the patient, Gosling's character, it seems that McGregor is slowing losing his own grip on reality. Seeing people who are dead, experiencing deja vu, and so on and so forth. All the while Gosling's charcter moves on towards his demise. Throughout the movie there are clips and flashbacks of the people in the background of the movie. The "plot twist" is telegraphed well before curtain is drawn back, but it's still well done and it ends the movie on a weird note. Basically the twist was that the entire movie was a dream of Gosling as he lays dying from a car accident.


I'd first thought about writing a story based on the life of a person after an accident when I was back in high school, it might have been late in my freshman year. But basically after going through a bit of this person's life the end of the story would be that the entire story was simply in his mind and that the person didn't survive the accident.

I know, it wasn't a good idea and hence why it simply got lost on a 3.5" floppy over a decade ago. Some things are best left forgotten.

Timmer, over at my occasional stomping ground, sent me over to Hot Air where excerpts from a recent Simpsons were shown. While I hold a warm spot in my heart for The Simpsons, they haven't been a part of my Sunday TV watchin' since early 2002. I'll occasionally watch them a couple Sundays in a row, but inevitably I cease because, well, they jumped the shark when Principal Skinner was revealed to be a fraud, and I find Futuarama, Robot Chicken, South Park, and some of the other Adult Swim offerings to just be more entertaining. The Simpsons has passed into the realm of entertainment where Saturday Night Live exists. It's not really all that good anymore, but people have fond enough memories of the show that they mistake death throes as signs of life. SNL has been in that state for about 20 years now, and The Simpsons joined them a couple years ago.

That being said, and my personal biases towards the Army and recruiting aside, I'll admit that I found a couple things at least worth a chortle. Rainer Wolfcastle's reaction to his future was funny, I guess. And the crack about the redneck woman and a naked pyramid might have been funny as well.

My issue with it though is that they took the easy way. It takes no creativity to take an overly simple sterotype and make fun of it. Recruiters preying on the young and stupid, making everyone into an infantryman, or a fat guy coming home early because he's a big target is going for the low hanging fruit. It wouldn't have taken a lot of work to come up with something funnier, and a bit more realistic, but it seems that the creativity necessary to do so just isn't present at the writer's table there. Sad really.

Bill Whittle once said something about actors being an empty shell, that it's writers who actually give them the presence we see on screen. I was going to try and find the actual quote, but Mr. Whittle is ungodly longwinded (in a good way) and without some idea as to which post of his I'm thinking I have neither the time nor patience to track it down. Anyway, when I read that it struck me as brilliant and it's something that kind of applies to the bit about The Simpsons. The show has been around for over 18 years. It's older than the people it's making fun of when it talks about recruits. The writers who were there that made it funny and into a cultural phenomenon have moved on several times since then. Where it was once an intelligent show which focused on a family with its share of problems, but still a family, it's now a vehicle to launch the next gag. The voice actors are the same, but the people feeding them their lines has changed and changed again.

I can't help but feel that some of my dislike for the episode is based on the fact they're making fun of something which I hold dear. Oh well. It's late, I'm tired.


Did some clean up to the blog roll. Moved a trainee out of the FS Roster and into being an actual milblog. Congratz there PV1 SPC Jon, remember to keep the sunnyside up and the rubber side down.

Also, SSG Tomas and I have both agreed to cut out particular vices from our lives. SSG Tomas has stopped smoking and I have stopped drinking soda. This is day two of the exercise in restraint. Already I hate life.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fun in the Sun

Tonight I learned that peanut oil is perfect for frying because it has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

I'd actually intended to write this post a couple days ago, but I was tired when I got home and didn't feel like writing in yesterday. Today was also pretty lazy with the day split between doing some cleaning in the office at the home and doing some dork-work in EQ2. I'm so ashamed.

Anyways, I figured I'd go ahead and show some of the fun and excitement that being a recruiter can entail.

This is the set up we had. Off to the left you'll see the football toss. Next to the football toss is the rock wall. I don't know who suggested ordering a bunch of rock walls for recruiting purposes, but whoever it was should be forced to spend an afternoon in a Phoenix summer helping people get in and out of the harnesses they have to wear. Unpleasantess, they name is thigh sweat.

Next to the rock wall is our little table set up where we got rid of handed out useful information and trinkets. It was interesting to hear a couple folks ask for Army Strong gear. However we didn't have any because having handouts branded with the new slogan at a NASCAR event just made too much sense. And off the the right under the second tent is one of the newly leased Army H3s. The new H3s really are slick looking, and stupidly I didn't take a picture of it close-up. The vehicle is branded with the Army logo, and comes equipped with a TV and sound system that makes me jealous.

This was the peak crowd we got all day. If you notice the H3 is being completely ignored. One of the recruiters there supporting this event was someone who's been recruiting for all of two weeks. No it's not Army Sean, although he is about as cherry. We spent some time talking and he heard me talking with another recruiter and asked us why we sounded so disgruntled. To explain why this other recruiter (who is leaving shortly after the new year) and I were sitting there being less than cheery I went down the sequence of events with this new recruiter.

We had to report for duty at 0630 so we could get to the track by 0700. The gates opened at 1000. Between 0700 and 1000 we had to set up a rock wall, a football toss, three insta-tents, an ID tage machine, and an H3. We had 10 recruiters for these tasks. We were done by 0715. I myself racked out in the driver's seat of one of the support vehicles until about 0900 after we were done setting up. We were there so we could showcase the Army to the public. All of about 100 people who came up to the display and filled out the lead card/safety release so their 8 year old could climb the wall. And for this event there were 10 recruiters and several thousand dollars spent to rent the space where we set up. Oh, and it was all on a three-day weekend too. That was part of why the soon-to-be-departing recruiter and I were so very disgruntled that afternoon.

It's the pointless busy work that drives me insane. This Friday simply put it into action. Everyone in my station who had worked a race weekend before knew that the Thursday and Friday set-ups were a pointless waste. Only the most diehard of race fans show up for the truck series qualifying, and slightly more show up for the Busch series qualifying. There was simply no one there. The poor location where we were didn't help matters, but even prime real estate by the team vendors wouldn't have seriously altered the dynamic. The National Guard, Air Force, and Navy all had set-ups going on, and there were as many recruiters at the other three set-ups combined as there were for ours. The Guard had a much better location and still had half the people working that we did. And from what I could see they didn't run into any problems with having too large a crowd and not enough personnel to manage them. There was simply no practical point to having as many people working the event as we did, and it was something plainly visible to those who had worked the races before.

Oh well, weekend is almost done. The time is drawing to a close where I get to go unshaven. Too bad, I look decent with a goatee. It distracts from the rapidly retreating hairline.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's Official

Today marks the official start of Army Strong.

I'd talked about it about a month ago, and since then that original commercial has really grown on me. I like the music, I like the imagery, and the message works. That commercial would get me to go online and check out the Army, were I not approaching 12 years of service already. I don't know how it would work on a younger generation, but I guess we'll be learning soon.

The "Army Strong" branding material should be arriving soon. We've been told they'd be here today, but UPS or FedEx usually don't come until later in the morning or early afternoon.

I've already got some of my COI/VIPs asking me for the new Army Strong trinkets. Would that I could give them some. My station is working the NASCAR race at PIR this weekend. However since the Army isn't actually sponsoring a car in this race we're not getting the really sweet interactive truck. Instead it's a bunch of recruiters, some quick set-up tents, a rock wall, and an H3. There might be a football toss there as well. For those curious about such things NASCAR is charging about $10 per square foot for space on the concourse for us to do this set-up. I've seen Italian marble that didn't cost $10 sq/ft.

I don't know what the budget hit is for the sponsoring of a race car, but try and follow along with me here. This weekend if Veteran's Day Weekend. And today the Army is rolling out a new billion dollar advertisement campaign. There is a NASCAR race this weekend. I'm assuming that some NASCAR rule prevented the Army from sponsoring a car this weekend. Maybe somehting in a contract with the car's owner. I don't know. 'Cause Lord knows it strikes me as a missed opportunity to not sponsor a vehicle in the NASCAR race on Veteran's Day Weekend, the same week you're beginning a whole new ad campaign. I've doubted the value of a race car as a way to attract recruits, but it'f we're going to do it shouldn't we strive to do it on a weekend that screams "sponsor a car this weekend!"?

I'm just a lowly recruiter. I'm not an advertising guru like my super-smart sister. I'm not some high ranking decision maker in the Army. I'm not a race official. But hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent for Army Strong, and an opportunity to have that pretty black and gold race car going round-and-round on the same weekend America is honoring her veterans and the Army is introducing a new slogan and campaign, with national media coverage of a very popular sporting event, and we don't have a dog in the race. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if we see of the the 30 or 60 seconds spots during the race which does not have an Army car running.

Anyways, if you want to see the new commercials be watching The CW, CMT, Court TV, Discovery, Food, Fuse, G4, Hallmark, HGTV, History Channel, Lifetime, MTV, MTV2, MTVU, Sci Fi, Soap, Spike, TNT, TVLand and USA around 8 EST tonight.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Love to da Po-po

Figured I'd finally stop being a jerk and actually link to someone I've been reading since Darth Commando clued me in to him.

This week has been sucky in regards to closing the recruiting deal. One who I thought was solid turned out to be gaseous instead. And another I tried to slam in too fast and now she's backing out. Had to pull back on the pressure because it's not like I won't need the contract in a month or two when she's ready.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Congradulations, now go work with Louis Gossett Jr.

Jason over at Navy says Hoorah finally managed to get what he's always wanted.

No, the Navy isn't going to add a floral pattern to their utilities.

While Holly is a kind and caring person who wanted to preserve the surprise, I am neither. I do want to send a hearty "congratz" to Jason on his selection to Navy OCS as a Supply Officer. This is something he's been working towards since before I became a Sergeant First Class or a Recruiter. It's been a while.

In recognition of this great opportunity for the young sailor here's the mighty Navy fight song.


I've never claimed to be the most accurate person on Earth. Lord knows there are time I forget things I myself have done. Recently. I'll forget I had breakfast. But I do strive for accuracy where I can get it. Even if it's just a quick Google search to make sure I'm not blatantly wrong.

Recently, the Jon Carry ekspairement resulted in many more people coming to my blog, looking at it for five seconds, and moving on to look at better things. However one of them decided to comment and I'm always grateful for more people telling me how awesome/sucky I am. However, Wendigo's comments leaved a bit to be desired.
Shoot, a guy graduates from Yale with a B average
While Senator Kerry is undoubtly better educated than I am, and would bury me in a debate, I don't think his first degree from Yale can be considered the work of a B student.
(T)hen goes on to get shot at four years in a tin can boat
If I recall correctly wasn't Senator Kerry's tour on a swift boat actually about four months long? I'm a Reserve Personnel Sergeant currently serving as a recruiter; far be it for me to make a value judgement about someone's time in service. But to imply he spent his entire tour chasing VC up and down the Delta under fire is an outright lie.
And folks act like he's a stupid yokel.
Has anyone anywhere actually acted like Senator Kerry was a "yokel"? He's a bit tone-deaf when it comes to politics, he's often refused to admit he's made a mistake or was in error and instead tries to hold mutually exclusive opinions on issues, but a "yokel" seems like a strange adjective for a the Yale graduated junior senator from Massachusetts.
A guy drops out of the Coast Guard
This confused me when I first read it. I had no idea who Wendigo was talking about. Coast Guard? If you're going to make fun of someone for their military service, at least get the service right. As for the specific charge, there is nothing I can add to the debate about President Bush's time in the Air National Guard. He completed his training and if he committed any gross violations of regulations there was no record of it. Even today during the War on Terror and OIF unsat participants are not tarred and feathered, or rounded up and put into infantry training. I'm of the belief that things which happened 30 or more years ago shouldn't be an issue in today's world. But that's me.
(T)o get involved with politics like his rich daddy, then drops out of that to snort coke, then drops out of that for evangelical Christianity......Then drops back into politics
If I were a religious man I might mention something about the power of prayer to save someone from destruction. And I was under the impression it was alcohol that was a far greater demon for the president. Wendigo, if you want to live in a world where people can not move past their mistakes, that's your choice bro. Not mine. I work in a world where everything is waivable (that's hyperbole, and is not actually the case, recruiting waivers are a pain in the ass and disapproved far too often).
(A)nd folks worship at his feet, although he were the second coming of Ronald "Christ" Reagan.
It wouldn't take me too long to find a whole list of very conservative people who have huge complaints with Bush's time in office, but I can't because I have to genuflect to George on the Cross.


Between the spending, the gay marriage amendment insanity, Iraq, and other things I'm too flakey to remember at this second Bush is not viewed as some savior of the Republicans except by his politcal opponents. I imagine that a lot of his support comes from people who are glad to have someone in office willing to call a spade a spade and actually do something about the threat that terrorism represents.
It boggles the mind, yo.
I'm sure it does Wendigo, I'm sure it does.

I don't think it's a great exaggeration to equate the War on Terror to the Cold War. I've seen it said over and over that you can't defeat an idea. And I suppose that's true. But you can beat an idea so violently that no one but crackpots and college students looking for trim at college Che groups will follow it. I imagine a world where the government doesn't view communisim as a threat after WWII and I see a very different world. And I can see the same thing with someone other than Bush in office on 9-11. Law enforcement can handle terrorism when it's small scale and unsupported. When it's combined with support on a national level it can't be combated by men with badges. Bush was the man in office when that difference was presented to the world. I know if I were in President Bush's shoes I'd be looking forward to a retirement in 2009 and starting a hobby that involves nothing to do with important things.

Anyways, PT starts in a couple and I've got to hit the road. Have a good one y'all.

*UPDATE* Bad link on the comments before. Fixed it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Unightr nawt devyder

Jon Carry ekspairement Dae Three:

Whyle Presedint Boosh iz ushually kwoted az saeing hez a "unighter nawt a devyder" itz teh inkredably smrt Jon Carry hoo aktualy brawt peeple together.

Whyle Ive tryed too nawt lynk two teh Astro Haterz terf thys wuz to gud two pazz upp.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Prity piksure

Jon Carry ekspairement Dae Too:

Sarjent Cheeks has somwun on teh flur todae. Too akshooly. Won iz a IRR-TPU papir kontrak hoo haz bin wateing to be rittin awl weak. Teh odder iz a pryor survice koming ofer frum the Aer Forse.

If both git inn then wi'll be thre four thre and onlee need wun to boxx four the qwarter.

O, this iz whut wuz greetng me whin I lukd at mi dailee komix:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I am so smart.

Drawyering insperayshun frm teh mimbers of teh Minnesoda Nashunal Gard, Derth Komando and Eye hav desided two use teh Jon Carry spelchek when riting. Thys shud b interestyng.


Well, it's done. My old Everquest account was reactivated. Updates were downloaded and installed. Coordination has been made amongst the officemates about who was going to be doing what on what server.

With baseball done for the winter, and fantasy football only occupying Sundays, that leaves me with some free time. A renewed commitment to doing things with Mrs. SFC B will only occupy me for a couple hours before she gets sick of my presence. So I'll be re-embracing my inner nerd as I venture throughout the Commonlands and the ruins of the city of Freeport.

For the handful of people who are still reading this we'll be on the Oasis server. I don't have a character name yet as I'll be rolling one tonight. When I have one I'll post it for those interested in making fun of me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


SSG George hooked me up with this picture.

Yeah... I thinq that sez it al.

Oh, and speaking of being stupid. SSG George has convinced me to do the second stupidest thing I could have done this week. He's talked me into restarting a character in Everquest.

This does not look good for Homestarrunner.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Travel Day

I'll be on the road a good bit today. Headed north to Kingman/Bullhead City, AZ for a follow-up, then to Lake Havasu to meet with the recruiter there, then to Needles, CA for an appointment with a kid who wants to work on the railroad ('Till Gabirel blows his horn).

Something I love about AZ, and it's also something I hate, is that the roads are open and quiet. I love it because you can put the cruise control at about 80 and only need to adjust it when going through some dot on the map. The mountains, hills, valleys, and canyons make for some time wasters as well. Although it's been well over a decade I do find geology interesting and I'm curious where some of the stratification in the rocks out here come from. You'll see strips of different colored rock interwoven into the cuts for the highway and I'm curious what happened during that epoch which made the rock look different. Was it from a time when AZ was underwater? Or from a time when AZ was located where the west coast of Africa is now? It's neat and it keeps me attentive.

However I do hate the single lane road. You get behind some RV and you'll be doing 50 for the next half hour until you're lucky enough to pass, or hit a passing lane. Supposedly they're going to work on widening the roads out there to improve the Phoenix-Vegas corridor, but that won't help me today.

I just learned what a Joshua tree was. Hooray learning!

I'll be driving through the Joshua Tree National Forest. I don't know if you've ever seen one of these up close, but they are a really weird looking plant. It's like a cactus, pine tree, and a palm tree got drunk one night and had some sort of plant threeway. And that reminds me of another weird drunken night. Don't look at me like that. It's funny.

Anyway, didn't sleep very well last night so I'm actually going to try and snag another hour of shut-eye. I shouldn't have had that cup of coffee first though.


Apparently a couple folks have had exposure to the Joshua tree. I had no idea. One of the people is a young NCO currently going through the ARC. I can't speak for any other recruiters, but they're just so damned cute when they come out of ARC. All thinking everyone is going to join. The bestest part is the new story being told about how if you write 50 contracts you're allowed to go back to the Army.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Falls Apart

I've been listening to the band Hurt a bit lately. Last night in about a five minute span the lyrics to their song "Fall Apart" made far too much sense to me. While I've often misunderstood the lyrics to a song, I know this isn't perfect for what I've done but the emotion in the song works for me.

I'm going to be the death of me. I know it.

In brighter news sometime commenter Christina has her own blog. She's a massage therapist in Vegas. No, not that kind of Vegas massage therapist. Her first post on the page is about breasts.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Got home from the ATC last night. My third ATC and hopefully I've got just one left. The previous ATC was salvaged by the fact that, while it was boring it was in a town with plenty of casinos. This year's event was located about a block from the battalion and 15 miles from my house.

We got some kind-of-useful training and were introduced to a new bit of software that prepares a very pretty looking chart. While the value of the pretty chart may be dubious to recruiting it's something different and it gives me a new toy with which to play.

I've been to a couple of conferences in my time in the Army. Training conferences during my time in Retention and as a unit Full Time Support. Each of them required me to pay a registration fee, usually around 10 bucks for each person attending. My time in recruiting has seen me spend between 28 and 34 bucks per head. WTF. When I spend $34 bucks per person on a meal I want a full meal, free refills on soda, and there'd better be a couple of brews on the bill. Instead on the table is a slightly undercooked thigh of chicken, water, and a salad that's five leaves of lettuce, a single cherry tomato, and a slice of cold apple pie. Luckily I wasn't SGT Cheeks who paid for two meals but only received one since his wife had to go out of town at the last moment.

Oh well, Monday the fun starts all anew.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I'm not a media hound by any stretch of the imagination. The extent of my media savvy consists of four years of journalism in high school and a semester of Journalism 101 in college. But it is a subject I've touched on in the past. And it seems that people far smarter than me, who are better writers, and justly have a far greater readership have seen it too.

I have made it my policy to avoid politics as best I can. I don't think it's a proper topic for a writer currently in the service to announce their voting preferences. Besides, if my seven readers can't get a good idea of how I vote based on my writing, or the fact I have lived (Hi mom!), or are currently living with them (Hi Mrs. SFC B), well, then, you're just not paying attention. However I do believe that the War on Terror currently being fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world is a topic that, while political, is not a political topic (it's a difference that makes sense in my mind). In my opinion the motives for the war, the prosecution of the war, and the direction of the war are all topics that need discussion in the public. However it is also my opinion that someone who thinks the war needed have been fought in the first place is, as I'd mentioned before, someone who is just not paying attention.

I admit to having been caught off-guard by the extent of hatred in the muslim world for the west in general and America in particular (I dislike painting with the broad brush of "muslim world" but, well, it's accurate). I knew that there were a lot of people there who didn't like America but I foolishly thought it was a localized thing. You know Saddam, Iran, and the Palestinians. I was aware of Osama because of the attacks on the embassies and on the Cole, but aside from that he was a face on the FBI list. I was more interested in Whitey Bulger because living in South Boston I was actually treading in the ground of a mobster.

9-11 changed that and it also opened my eyes to a very ugly side of reality. It's that reality which we've been at war with since that dark day.

I doubt there's a military force which can reasonably be expected to stay on the battlefield against the full might of the United States military. While there are larger forces or forces that are just as well equipped or trained, there is no force that is as large AND as well equipped AND as well trained. And for good measure also has the capability to project that force around the world. I've read many pundits who believe that China is the next big military threat, and that may be true, but the Chinese are not stationed off the US coast while the US has had bases in Japan and Korea for decades, and supports a Chinese providence/ quasi-country in Taiwan.

However while we'd be able to run the field on just about any scenario in a "war game simulator" we're a little less skilled in peace-keeping missions. Or, well, we were. There are valuable lessons being learned in Iraq, and changes are coming in the form of updated manuals which will hopefully lead to better actions. The one phase of the war where we get kicked up and down the battlefield though is in the media. Wow, do we not do a good job in the media.

As Greyhawk talked about not only are we losing the propaganda war, the news agencies are AWARE that they're being used, and they make no mention of it at all. This is not being some naive "useful idiot" like during the Cold War. CNN's airing of an insurgent produced sniper video is possibly the first step to a Tokyo Rose. Now, if they're going to play right into the hands of the insurgency could they at least possibly show what also happens to snipers attacking US trooops?

I'd mentioned earlier in this post that I took some journalism classes. I did that for about a year before switching to history as my major. History was something I'd always enjoyed, and I actually know a bit about. Granted, it's been nearly a decade since I actually studied history, but I do remember a couple lessons. Recently President Bush was interviewed and he remarked about similarities between Iraq and Vietnam. Not the quagmire analogy which sets so many "anti" types hearts aflitter, but the fact that a stunning military success, and a stabilizing situation is twisted in the media to show only a crushing defeat. One of the lessons I took from my History of Vietnam class was that the Tet Offensive was a terrible military defeat for the NVA and the Viet Cong. They failed to achieve any of their tactical objectives, and the Viet Cong were almost crippled by losses suffered at the hands of the US and the South Vietnamese forces.

That fact had stayed with me all this time because it was something that went against everything I'd learned about Vietnam up to that point. When the Tet Offensive was discussed for a day in my high school history class is was simply the "turning point" in Vietnam. No discussion of why it was a turning point. It was a turning point because some talking head at a news desk made it so.

Yes, I know it's unfair of me to lay such blame of such a complex event on a singluar source. But really, I don't think it can be much starker. If the media exercies a bit of caution or restraint Tet is not treated as proof of an enemy too strong to be defeated and a wall of stark black stone is not a memorial to honorable men whose memory was spat upon by their contemporairies.

Michael Yon's struggles with the military approving his embedding are a sympton of the events all those years ago. Since Vietnam the military has been involved in an adversarial relationship with media outlets. Neither side is without sin. While the media is likely to play fast and loose with security us in the military are sometimes guilty of being overprotective of information even to our own detriment. Yes, the enemy is out there and the enemy is listening, but so are the families of hundreds of thousands of Soldiers, and the millions who support them, and they will not get the truth about what happens in the War on Terror from the mass media. They simply won't. The mass media is too beholden to a need to reach a large audience to care about the well-being of a single unit. But that single unit can maintain a web site which will allow them to keep in touch with the family back home. And those family share with others and from the grassroots level CNN's actions as a tool for insurgent propaganda can be countered.

A military agency that protects embed slots like they were having to pay for them out of pocket does not help that cause.

Anyway it's late, I'm tired, and later today my fantasy football team will match up with SSG Tomas' in a battle for a strangle hold on second place in the league.