Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Well, the Astros have put together their first five game winning streak of the season. A 1-0 bottom-of-the-ninth win against the Brewers. Coming on the heels of a huge contract for Roy-O this is a good thing. However the Good Guys remain four games under .500 and three back for the Wild Card. It's going to be another September where I worry daily about how five other teams are doing. Throw in the concern about not getting any of SSG Rage's sweet money and it's doubly painful.

Oh well, could be worse. I could be pinning my teams' future success on Jeff Francouer learning plate discipline.

MEPS Epilogue

Yesterday finally came to an end after 17 hours. I've had longer days, but not for a while. I can't bitch about the length of the day because, well, I'm in Arizona driving a car, not Iraq driving a 5-Ton. However I'm still bitter about the causes I childishly blame for the day. The applicant enlisted though so all is good. He's happy, I'm happy, and the station now has two weeks in which to enlist one Reserve contract with three recruiters to close off the component for the month. With a bit of lucky we might actually make up our quarterly shortfall and cover the AR for the fourth quarter. That would be a good thing.

It is a comfort, although a small one, to see I'm not the only recruiter who's had horrific times with the Prevention Station. I've processed several prior service personnel and they've all come away with the impression that the place at which they originally processed was "better" than this one. I didn't know if I could just attribute that to people's tendancy to only remember the good and not the bad, but after yesterday and Monday, and then the experiences of the other recruiters out there I can't help but think there's something to it.

I know that the guidance counselors have an incredibly hard job, but their job is made infinatly harder when simple errors on their end occur. I've noticed that the guidance shops are very quick to cast blame onto the recruiter (and it's usually correct to do so) but I'm yet to hear one accept responsibility for the problems that occur on the floor which aren't the fault of the recruiter.

I'm an admin guy. I know the frustration that can come when the field, be they recruiters or subordinate units, don't follow guidance. Guidance designed to make their lives easier. I know the temptation to institute draconian rules to limit the frustration that those not following guidance can cause. In the admin world it tends to culminate in things like S1 slips and other useless bits of micromanaging. Micromanaging that does nothing to help the Soldier, or in this case, Future Soldier.

Whatever the solution is I don't know. I'd love to be able to just say "Guidance, deal with it," and be done, but I know that isn't the answer. Maybe a recruiter out there knows of a MEPS that handles things well. Or at least can share some tips that make the life of the recruiter easier when dealing with the fickle entities at the processing station.

Monday, August 28, 2006

MEPS again

Things have been awful quiet on the MEPS front. Until today. Today things came to an awful, SFC B crushing head.

Today my applicant and I were witness to a stunning level of processing... I hesitate to say incompetence because that's a serious claim and I lack real proof... cluelessness.

The applicant I'm currently working is a DOS PS (I didn't even know the AR would do a DOS, but if they want to write him as a GA I won't stop them). He was a split-op who didn't go to AIT because of college. Life happens, he doesn't finish college, and he still wants to be in the Army so he comes to SFC B. REDD report shows he's still in the system, but since he hasn't completed AIT he can't be written as a paper contract. I contact the unit and they have his discharge orders. They even gave him an honorable rather than an uncharacterized. Love it.

I have to do several projections on this applicant. First I try and get his test scores and see if his phys was still good, and then I do another projection for him to join on an earlier date but that falls through due to some poor scheduling on my part. I get him nailed down for today unfortunatly transportation is an issue. Apparently budget issues make it difficult to get a shuttle ticket for processors, the budget only allows for tickets for shippers. This means I get to drive to Prescott on Sunday, the day after a 13 hour day manning a rock wall at a monster truck rally.


As long as it results in a contract on Monday it's all worth it.

Needless to say events will prove to not be worth it.

Friday comes and I get a call that sets of the warning klaxon. The current guidance shop clerk calls asking questions about the projection that really should have been answered three days earlier. Questions like: "SFC B, did you know your applicant was still in the service? Do you have a 368?", and "You didn't project him to enlist." I nearly broke the phone when I hung it up after straightening it out. How did I know it was straightened out? I asked and was told everything was fine for Monday.

Drive to Prescott, pick the applicant up, and we have a pleasant talk as we drive back to the valley. Luckily for me my applicant is a good person to talk to, because otherwise this would have sucked. He's on the hotel roster (good sign) and put up for the night. I sleep snug in my bed as visions of Submarine Pay dance in my head.

Monday comes, I report to the office early because days I have people on the floor always make me nervous. No phone calls, everything seems fine. I go get a drink of water around 1000h and I hear from the office "SFC B, guidance shop needs to talk with you."


Talking with the clerk who is, again, asking me questions that really should have been answered before. Told it's not a big deal, that they just had to rebuild him. I ask, I ask, I ask "You're working my guy already? He's through phys? It's not even 10 o'clock yet," and I'm told "Yes."

Lies. Viscious propaganda.

My applicant calls at noon telling me to come pick him up. He has to come back tomorrow. "Why," I ask reasonably. Because they weren't able to do anything with him since he wasn't in the computer. He'd been blown totally off the system when his orders were submitted that removed him from the IRR. It is at this moment that I invent the word "hilpippy" to describe my anger towards the world and the guidance shop. For those who wish to use the newest word in the English language: hilpippy, adj, an intense hatred for an organization who is supposed to support you, but does whatever petty acts it can to make your life miserable.

I wasn't upset that he wasn't in the computer. That was what was supposed to happen. I'd have preferred it happened earlier than the day he was on the floor which I why I'd submitted the paperwork several times over the month, but I know these things happen. What set my hair on end, shot my blood pressure through the roof, and made me invent new words was that at no point did the guidance shop tell anyone there was a problem. This was an easily fixed situation. A situation that was identified at 0630 that morning. I could have submitted a new projection, had his info in the system, and he'd been good to go at 0700. SFC SC2 was at the office that early. My cell phone is never off. Any one of several people in the recruiting side could have been told about this and it could have been fixed. Instead I get a call at 1000 from guidance to get the info they need to rebuild him. Three and a half hours my applicant sat on the floor waiting for something that would have taken fifteen minutes if someone had just called the recruiting station. And during that call no mention is made that there was a problem. I was even told that my applicant was good to go.

This would be enough to make me gray and bald were that process not already in its final stages.

I finally get downtown at 1430 to pick up my applicant and take him home. Insult gets added to injury as the clerk at guidance forgets that I out rank her. You'd think that someone who is the focal point of a senior NCO's frustration would remember a simple military courtsey. You'd be wrong.

It's four minutes of 0200 as I finish this entry. The horror was made complete after I'd gotten home when I got a call from the applicant saying that his ride to the valley for this morning fell through. As always I put the mission first and am going to be his ride. He needs to be downtown by 0600 for check-in. It's going to be a long day. Somewhere SSG Rage is picking himself up off the floor from laughing.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Updated Battle Roster

Did some blogroll cleaning this evening. Added a couple of new folks. Although he's been up for a while, Guardsman, is new on the block. I thought I'd written a post introducing him before, but I can't remember if I actually wrote it, or lost interest, and I don't have the attention span to go through my archives and find out. Having a gnat-like attention span is one the the traits that makes Mrs. SFC B love me. Or not, I can never keep that straight.

Anyways, he's Guard. He's a recruiter. It means the RA and USAR people hate him and his annual missions and no category life. Bastard.

Secret Army Girl is a recent, VERY recent AIT grad (congrats commogeek) and she's a Reserve Soldier hence why she gets first billing right under people with pretty banners.

In honor of a contract I wrote last week two new Future Soldiers were added to the recruit list. in Defense (his spelling, not mine) will soon be looking for people to poke with an IV since he'll be a 68W. And young medic, the reason the Army changes MOS codes is to confuse the heck out of each generation of Soldiers. 10 years from now they'll rename something else to 91W, something wholly unrelated to the medical field.

So Much the Better will be shipping out soon for Ft. Benning. Good luck, have fun.

The Astros managed a couple wins against the lowly Pirates, thus keeping a modicum of hope alive. But time is running out for the playoffs, and for me to ever see my money from SSG Rage. Oh well, Lance Berkman is hitting a ton and if he can keep healthy he might wind-up worth the mountain of money he signed for this season. Of course the same thing was said about Bagwell a few seasons ago. Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt represent the sort of talent a team can be built around. I've rooted for the Astros since moving to Houston in late 1988. I moped around the house the day Glenn Davis was traded. The first ballgame I ever attended was a Reds-Astros tilt at the Astrodome with my dad. The allegations about Rose's gambling had been brewing that pre-season and this was an early, early season game. I didn't know much about baseball at the time, but something my dad explained to me was how wrong Rose's gambling was. That his actions cast speculation over everything else that his team was doing. I don't know if my dad was a Ray Fosse fan or what, but he had no doubt that Rose was gambling on baseball and his own team. He died shortly after that and I never got the chance to find out.

Oh well.

But the connection I share with the Astros is far more to me than just because they were the team where I was living. The Astrodome, to my 12 year old self, was an act of impossible engineering. I was fascinated with the AC unit for the building for cripes sake. I came to the team after the Rainbow unis and shortly before Nolan Ryan took off for Arlington. I got to see Mike Scott at a LensCrafters, and met Rafael Rameriez in the dugout thanks to Jim Ewell (RIP Doc). That same day I almost caught a foul ball off Glenn Davis' bat. Although I missed out on the foul ball, I did get a signed game ball which still sits on my book case in my office.

Although the Astros can bring about moments of sheer frustration and throwing things anger and disappointment, they're too important to me to just move on. It's why I'm a fan. I know that my contribution to their success is an infintesmially small number that isn't quite zero, but it's there. I'm happier when they win, and I'm sadder when they lose. My affection for the Astros goes back farther than my affection for the State of Texas even. That's not something that a losing streak or a bad season can displace. I was an Astros fan when Franklin Stubbs and Pete Incaviglia were the first basemen (I even have a ball with Inky's autograph). They're my boys, win or lose.

Friday, August 25, 2006

More things change

The pace of recruiting has, of course, caused some changed in the station. Since I reported in back in FEB05 the entire station has now turned over, with me having the longest period of service in this station.

With this turnover I figured I'd update my "Cast" listing.


SFC B: The hero of this story.
SFC SC2: The villan who seeks to destory our hero. I kid. He's actually awesome and, again, I doubt I'd ever have a station commander who'd I'd like to serve under as much.
SSG George: If you were to cross Sancho Panza and Deputy Director Bullocks you'd have SSG George. Or, well, his fictional character amalgamation.
SGT Tree: Still meeting his next contract with every lead. Gotta love the hope.
SGT W^3 or SGT WWW: He remains the other reserve recruiter, but now he's added a very unique restriction to his list of traits.
SGT Patient: No longer new. He's actually enlisted a couple people and will enlist many more through the Tree-ian process of conducting everyone.

Newly arrived:

SFC Samurai: Named as such because of my suggestion he commit suicide in the honorable manner of the samurai every time something doesn't go right. He's actually a far better recruiter than I am, but SSG Rage started the tradition of having to tell someone to "kill themself" on a daily basis. It might as well be me telling him.

SSG Tomas: Although I mentioned him briefly I haven't really explained him. Wicked funny, combining the childlike fascination with causing trouble and the childish ability to cause said trouble. If he ever learns to stop fearing his 90 pounds naked and soaking wet wife he might have less to worry about with going out.

SGT Drop: Our newest new recruiter. She's got some learning to do and is still going through the growing pains. The first DQ'd for phys is the hardest. At least until the next one.

SGT Cheeks: Our newest recruiter, however he's actually a gold badge recruiter from elsewhere in USAREC. He's an AGR guy and will soon be putting in the contracts that I do because he actually cares and wants to succeed.

Anyway, that's how the cast and crew works out now. This should be a group staying together for a while, much like MASH after the death of Henry Blake.


Hey folks. Tomorrow I'll be getting deafend by monster trucks. If, for some bizarre reason, you find yourself in Glendale, AZ and at a monster truck rally, come by and say "hello", or say "I'll join the Army Reserve." Either will work.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Early Christmas Shopping

Thanks to Mauser*Girl I found out that my favorite Army comic strip, Elusive Concept, is now available in book form.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Speak of the Devil

Talking about the allure of ill-gotten gains seems to have sparked a bit of humor in the Recruiting Gods. Of course it's dark humor since they're evil, vengeful gods. I'm conducting an applicant who wanted some info about the Reserves so thy could compare and contrast the facts and benefits with those being offered by the service for which they were currently processing. Although he lived well out of my usual driving range, I was going to be in the area anyway so he agreed to meet me at a place between his house and where I was going to be. Try and save us both some hassle.

It was not to be.

I call to find out why they weren't where we agreed to meet and find out that, of course, there is no transportation for the prospect. Something about parents, cars, the usual pains. Despite my misgivings I agree to travel the rest of the way to the house after I wrap up what I'd originally planned, despite the fact it's going to add about 90 minutes round trip to my travel time. I arrive at the house and the prospect is waiting for me. Good sign. Get inside, surprisingly nice inside. Didn't look like much coming up the rutted irt road, but well decorated. Good sign.

The prospect has no interest at all in what I'm talking about. This person is looking for someone who will talk to a judge and get some charges dropped if they agree to join the military. DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER! Prior to that little recruiting improprity bombshell the person was already of dubious qualification because of the biggest "4:20" tattoo I'd ever seen. This "prospect" knew the game and had obviously been shopping for recruiters who'd be willing to cross the line to hook them up. Had mentioned how he knew to tell the doctors that "4:20" was in memorail for a friend who'd died on April 20th, or something else innocent, and not what it really meant.

It would have been a very distressing day to have travelled so far for so little, but since the things I'd had to get done earlier involved scheduling someone for next week I wasn't bummed out. But I'll be keeping an eye on the floor reports to see if anyone puts this person in, because to have done so would probably have involved something not good.

Anyways, late and I'm having to give up my grill due o the Fire Marshall. Bastages.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Darth Commando talks about the latest misrepresentation of recruiting improprities. He says exactly what I was going to, and he even goes so far as to do real research. I could rehash it without any attribution, but I'm in the mood to talk about something different, and maybe elaborate on what those numbers may represent.

The desire for a contract is something that is almost overwhelming to a recruiter at times. When the end of the month is rolling along and you have nothing in the Army it's hard. It's a harsh moment to have your failure known to all. Even harsher to know that a documentation of your failure is going to be coming on a DA4856 soon enough. Sometimes that pressure does become overwhelming. I had that moment last month when I sent two people to the floor who just weren't ready. If I'd had someone in the Army at the time I'd have tried harder to hold them back and get them both into better shape so they could meet body fat and not rely on the ARMS.

Oh well. That's sort of mistake doesn't get you in the NY Times though.

A few months ago I had something of an integrity check. An applicant I was working and had scheduled for the floor managed to get a ticket. It wasn't a massive ticket, but it was more expensive than he had to spend, his parents weren't going to pay it for him because he'd gotten nailed for speeding before and they were fed up with covering his fees. However, it was a speeding camera that had caught him. Since he was driving his dad's car the ticket originally went to his dad so, technically, he didn't have the open law. However, his mother had called the local PD and told them the situation. They were reissuing the citation in the kid's name.

So here I was, the recruiter caught in the middle. Now, there was a very, very good chance that, in the couple days before he hit the floor the citation would be reissued, and an open law violation would be readily apparent to anyone with a computer. I could tell the kid to shut-up and say nothing about it, but that never works. Something to remember as a recruiter is that Skippy will always talk. In the station you, another recruiter, and the station commander can all hot seat an applicant, but they'll still pop to stuff they never even thought of with you. And it's the sort of thing that can get one hemmed up a lot quicker than you expect.

Luckily I was spared having to compromise my integrity when his mom decided to cover for him by paying the ticket. It helped that he agreed to pay her back at twice the fine since he was getting a bonus of over 10k. But still, I'd like to think I'd have done the right thing by just calling SFC SC2 and telling him he had to cancel because of open law. I just don't know really. Who knows, I might have just split the baby and paid the ticket myself, but using my own money is always Plan ZZ in my book.

Late and tired. Have a good one folks.


I want to make it very clear that I have never, and will never actually pay off a law violation. It's against regulations and I have better uses for my money. When I talked about paying it off I was talking in a hypothetical what my choices might have been, and what I might have been tempted to do. I'm tempted to do a lot of things, but that doesn't mean I give in every time. Breaking a rule that will likely get me Article 15'd at best is something I'm not going to be tempted to do.

Again, I did not, and never have, paid off a ticket or fine.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I'd been meaning to write about the routine of recruiting for a while. One because it will be something of an AAR for myself, and two because it will allow others to see what I'm doing and maybe point me in a good direction. To do this though you good people need to understand the calendar as seen through USAREC's eyes.

The month in recruiting starts around the second week of the calendar month. Basically it's a 15th to the 14th thing. Not always though since the months always end on a Monday and start on a Tuesday. That's true for the weeks as well. The first day any week is Tuesday, and the last is Monday. The first two weeks of the Recruiting Month (RCM) are known as Week 1 (W1) and Week (2). The last two weeks of the RCM are known as T2 and T1.

In a perfect USAREC world a recruiter will find people to join in W1&2 during T2&1. This is a far from perfect world though and, well, you're often forced to take what you can, and put it into the Army when possible.

To be successful a recruiter needs to know from where their contracts come. The two primary sources of recruiter-generated enlistments are telephone (P1) and Face-to-face (P3) prospecting. Although a recruiter is making their life harder if they don't make time to work their COIs and Future Soldiers.

Since the school year has just started, right now my P1 focus is on seniors. There is a method to my madness. It's early in the year. A senior enlisted now, if properly maintained and worked, should be worth another contract or two through a referral during the year. Plus, the station is required to contact certain percentages of their assigned seniors during the year. This kills a couple birds with one stone. However during the school year it's difficult to contact seniors in before the afternoon (and if you did you don't want them anyway since they're likely a drop-out).

The mornings are spent looking for grads and whatever else. I will P1 for grads because, well, it's easy, but most grads are in college or working during the day. When calling I'm hoping to catch the person who's at home leeching off their parents with no job and not in school. Those people are fun because you can usually get a make out of them, and if not you can make fun of them for being an out-of-work loser. Silver lining and all.

Monday, for me, is heavy P1 with P3 thrown in to get me outside. As it says in the book P1 is the most cost effective lead source. In a normal hour I can make about 30 phone calls, contact a handful of people, and maybe make an appointment. All while enjoying a Coke and reading Baseball Prospectus(get a subscription if you don't have one already). All told I expect to come up with an appointment if I do about 2 hours of calls. If I don't have one by 2 and a half hours it's time to pull up stakes and hit the road for some f2f.

For me, F2F prospecting is basically just getting out into the community and waiting for the people to talk to me. It happens often enough. Someone will see me standing in line at QT or Target, strike up a conversation, and I have a name and a number and some pre-qual data. Depending on the "vibe" the person gives me I may or may not count the appointment (by "counting" I mean reporting it to the station commander as an appointment made). If the person doesn't strike me as serious about the appointment I'll hold on to the info and follow up later on the phone when they no-show, or I'll be pleasantly surprised when I have an unexpected appointment show up. That's a good feeling.

The week will be less painful if Monday closes out with 3 made, or two made and a conduct. Hopefully with someone agreeing to test for me as well.

Tuesday marks the official start to a new RCW, as well as the focus shifting from making to conducting appointments. P1 remains my prospecting focus, but I'll try and spend more time out of the office, conducting appointments, or visiting COIs. The goal for close-out is to have added two makes and one conduct to my numbers for the week.

Wednesday is the last day I where I wantprospecting to be the focus of my work (somewhere a 79R just gasped). Although prospecting never stops (ever, ever, ever) you do need to start the actual work of putting someone in boots. Those transcripts, police checks, DD372s don't get themselves you know. Or at least not at the speed needed by the station commander. Perfect week finds me closing Wednesday with one more make, two more conducts, and a tester either completed or scheduled.

Thursday is when I like getting the work done. Going to the high school for the will-grad letter. Running around the valley doing police and court checks. Hanging out with the birth verification dude at Vital Stats. All that leg work that's supposed to magically happen while I'm doing the 60 hours of prospecting that the plan I was required to write two weeks ago says I'm supposed to be doing. Thursday closes with no more makes, maybe a conduct, and a projection for a phys/enlist sometime in the next couple days.

If all goes well Friday is a station day. Follow-up with any no-shows, talk with applicants who aren't ready to commit, spend some time with the other recruiters bitching about how we don't have anyone in the Army. With some more luck my Saturday is free. If not, Saturday is more follow-ups.

Anyway, that's my general plan and thought process. It never survives contact with reality though. When a kid is on the floor I hate to leave the office because when something goes wrong it's easier to start fixing it if I'm in the area. Plus there's always school visits, delays in getting records from Maricopa County, and any of a million other things that happen to ruin my recruiting mojo.

Oh well.

A tic mark was placed next to my name for the GA who enlisted today. I'm no longer the world's worst recruiter. However I'm not the best either since I had two on the floor and the other got DQ'd. Damnit.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's been a while

Rolled a nut this month. Lost two kids to weight because I rushed and didn't do as good a job as I could have. The ARMS test, while useful, is a harsh mistress and shouldn't be something I'm counting on a kid passing. Too much can go wrong. Not every applicant can be the fittest person ever.

Oh well. I had a tester today who managed to go Alpha on me. Imagine my surprise. To top it off as I'm driving him to the testing site he asks "So, if I pass this I can join the Army?" "Of course," I reply. "Good, because I thought about it over the weekend and I'm ready." Sweet. At this point I'm hoping for a 31. A 60 later and I'm thrilled. Packet is being built tomorrow night and he'll be in by Friday. That wasn't the best bit of news though.

In true counting chickens mode I should have another applicant going downtown this week as well. R2 actually came through for me allowing me to show an applicant an option that was going to be better for her than taking a position as a TA at the local school district. That job would still be there for her when she's done with training, but the opportunity the Army was going to provide might not have been. She's scheduled for this week as well.

Further down there line there is a prior service waiting in the wings, and my applicant from Saturday will have his RBJ expire this month as well. This gives me four pen projections for a month with a mission of three. They won't all come through, minds will change, things will come up, they always do. It's just a matter of luck really.

Anyway, got to get up early to hit the Krispy Kreme in the morning. Nothing tastes better than a Zero Roller donut. The bitter taste of failure mixes well with the glaze on the donut.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Things I've learned

This one might get a bit weird.

You've been warned.

Today I learned that the ARMS test is a harsh mistress. I also learned that RBJ means "contract for next month".

I relearned a lesson taught by someone who epitomizes the statement "from the mouth of babes and fools." Recruiting can even find a way to make wearing the uniform a form of punishment.

I learned that although a squirrel lamp is funny, I was far more intrigued by making money with hamsters.

I learned that Scott Adams knows things are funny when he feels uneasy about sharing the joke for fear it will offend.

In a related note pr0n has taught me that women like semen on them.

I learned the field mouse is fast, but the owl sees at night. It's also difficult to control the fear when dealing with a cougar.

I learned Mrs. SFC B still doesn't think it's clever when I refer to some of her clothing as genie pants. I'm sorry, baggy, flowing, and shiny makes them genie pants damnit. Hammer Time!

More signs

The first torrent site I used was Torreny Spy. On their front page they link to news from the net provided by Shoutwire. It was through Shoutwire that I had my eyes opened to the vast, vast, vast expanse of the internet devoted to being bat shit crazy. Going down their index you'll see categories like Business, News, Entertainment, and technology. There is often some interesting tibit from the world there, and commentary from SME and users that enhances the reading experience.

However, right smack in the middle of their index is Politics. This is the home to some seriously whacked out, paranoid, ignorant, delusional beliefs. It's some wicked "here be dragons" territory. I'd never heard of Loose Change, and was wholly unaware of just how deeply so many believed in a conspiracy like that. And it goes on and on and on. Plots about how the oil companies are keeping the ultra-eco-friendly used-cooking-oil car from the garages of consumer. How Saddam was really a great guy who didn't execute his own citizens. It's really some entertaining stuff really, but I can't read it very often because, well, like junk food, it's not good for your health to induldge in so much junk reading.

However, after reading the morning news a couple days ago on the latest airplace terror alert I asked myself "SFC B (that's how I refer to myself in my mind), how long do you think it took for a commenter to suggest that the shampoo-bomb plot was all a conspiracy?" So I pointed FireFox to Shoutwire and sought the answer.

Much like getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the answer is three. It took nine before someone accused the Israelis of actually planning the attack in some sort of freakish wag-the-dog scenario.

I don't know why I started this post. I'm bored and thinking too much. It's not really my style to cover things like this, but, well, it's my blog and I'll ramble about stupid stuff if I feel like it.

I like to think I'm a pretty practical person and not blinded to the reality around me. The occasional fantasy escapism aside. When I delve into a thought-process that sees nothing but conspiracy behind coincidence, wind in a vacuum, and a small cabal of people responsible for all the world's ills it strains me. The internet, for all it's glory in sharing of information and pictures of naked women, can be like giving a microphone to the village idiot.

In Conspiracy Theory Mel Gibson plays a man who sees a goodly number of conspiracies in every day events (I almost want to see the movie again to see if any of them were Jewish conspiracies to arrest drunk celebrities). He disseminates his theories through a self-published newsletter that is snail-mailed to his handful of readers and fellow believers. Now a days he'd be able to IM and set up a chat room with his fellow travellers and hem and over the details until they produce a web page that does a real good impression of actually being useful.

Every bit of evidence of a government conspiracy used by 9-11 conspiracy theorists has been shown to be false. It stuns me when an otherwise rational, intelligent person peddles this stuff like it's some grand forbidden truth. I comfort myself with the feeling that it's not that people are stupider or more naive than before, after all people have been buying and swearing by snake oil long before snake oil was ever invented. It's just that now the inmates have access to the asylum's PA system.

Anyways, going to go see Ricky Bobby tonight. Hopefully the Snakes on a Plane previews will over before I get there.

Friday, August 11, 2006

If only we could

I was doing some reading I found myself over at Dean Esmay's blog reading some comments on one of his posts. One of the commenters, Eteraz, remarked
Let me put it like this: would you rather go to Pakistan and kill the fanatics who are trying to put women in face covering? Or would you rather give some cash to the civil society groups who are using Islam against the fanatics?
his point, in my opinion at least, is that force cannot win the War on Terror. That's incorrect. The proper application of overwhelming force can solve many, many problems. The solution isn't always clean, and it's rarely pretty, but it's solved. The issues though is the two sides in this battle will not, and can not, apply that force. The fanatical islamist/islamofacist/terrorist (whatever the term is) side lacks the capability to end this conflict by force. They don't have the manpower or firepower to do so. And the West/America doesn't have the will/see the need to apply such force. So it becomes a cultural/societal battle.

I'd be curious what Pakistani civil society groups are worthy of American funding? Maybe it's just me and my close-minded, chickenhawk, neo-con Bu$hitler supporting stupid Americanness but it seems to me that far, far, far too many civil societies in the Arab world are a bit too closely tied to people willing to blow up Americans, or our allies.

I lived in South Boston for a couple years. There was this quaint Irish pub on Broadway where I'd stopped in a couple times for a beer. I was far too not-Irish to ever be treated as a regular, but I was a tolerated presence since I tip well. During one of these visits a regular came up to me and asked if I had some money to give for him to send back to his cousin in Ireland. I'd had a couple in me, and I didn't want to seem like I was a jerk to one of the guys who was always there, and he'd already gotten some cash from everyone else in the bar, so I took out a fiver and gave. Turns out "cousin in Ireland" is some sort of code for Real IRA member in North Ireland. This was in 2000. It was later explained to me that there were a couple people from the various Irish terror groups who'd come into Southie during the year to try and get money for their organizations. Money for their "cousin" was, apparently, the code for such a transaction. Maybe I was having my chain pulled, but regardless it revealed to me just how easily a "good intention" could be used for ill.

How many middle eastern "civil society" groups have overly close connections to known terrorists? Heck, how many are blatant fronts for terrorist groups? How likely is it for money given by the US to one of these civil society to wind up being used to fund the weapons being used against the US? In essence, how likely would it be for the US to pay a terrorist organization to attack the US? Without any research whatsoever I'm guessing that there's a 10% chance the any money given by the US to any random Middle Eastern-based aid group will wind up being used to attack US assets. So, my question to Eteraz would be "Which groups would you suggest we give this money to?"

But throwing money at the problem isn't an answer. No amount of money can fix the Middle East. It's a problem of time. And it's not a problem of time that can be solved by, ironically enough, time. The most depressing thing I've ever learned about the Middle East is this:
[T]he total number of books translated into Arabic during the 1,000 years since the age of Caliph Al-Ma’moun to this day is less than those translated in Spain in one year.
Think about that for a second.

1,000 years and the culture has been enriched by fewer books than the Iberian Penninsula has added to their culture in the past year. It's probably not a fair comparison though because I'm sure Spain translates books for consumption by Spanish readers around the world. But still, in a millenium all the countries in the Middle East couldn't equal the annual production of one European country. That is depressing. Deeply depressing.

I've met many people of Arab and Persian descent in my time in recruiting. I've found my 09L vein and I'm going to milk it for all it's worth. These are people who are grateful for the opportunity that the US has given them and their families. Some have even been grateful enough to eagerly enlist into the Army, knowing full well that they're going to be sent into harm's way.

And yet I remain depressed by the implications of that translation thing.

Does anyone know if The Federalist Papers have been translated into Arabic? If not can someone get on that? How about the Constitution? Maybe a copy of that included in the Baghdad Morning News will go a long way. Hell, forget the big, meaningful bits of literature. How about the simple good reads like Clive Cussler's books? I'm not so egotistical or ethnocentric as to think that American/English language books are the only way to go, but it's revealing to me that so few written works are translated. How much thought is stifled by the simple act of denying the resources necessary to develop a different way of thinking?

It goes deeper than the translation issue though.

How many Middle Eastern universities are recognized as being among the best in the world? How many that are not in Israel? I'll save you the trouble. 6 and 1. And the one non-Israeli university was Hacettpe University in Turkey, which isn't even a Middle Eastern country.

I don't even want to delve into the treatment of women, suffice it to say though if your culture is going to restrain 50% of the population from participating your culture is screwed.

I'm painting with a very wide brush here, and I know it. I'm also out of my element and stand ready to take a justified verbal lashing for what I've said.

Tome though, this comes down to the simple fact that the only readily available solution to the problems in the Middle East remains at the tip of a sword. There simply aren't enough (any?) "civil society groups who are using Islam against the fanatics" to bother using that route. And even if they are how are they using Islam to fight fanatics? What accepted scholarly research into further meanings or intreptations of the Koran are being taught in the mosques and cultural centers of the muslim world? Where are these anti-extreme-Islamic groups when it comes to a car bomb in a marketplace, whether the market is in Basra or Tel Aviv?

For all our flaws as a country America and her citizens are pretty good at trying to get something done. The moment it's more effective to deal with "civil society" groups I'm sure that's what will happen. It hasn't happened yet because there simply isn't such a group that will accomplish what the US needs.

Anyways, it's late, I'm tired. Got someone who should be joining the Army tomorrow.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cleansing of Sins

The end of the month is approaching. It hasn't been a good month for SFC B. Losing 10 days, 8 prospecting, and 7 processing, to TDY and leave has left me short. There were two ready-to-go people who just needed some phone calls made on their behalfs to be enlisted during my time away. It never happened. Or, well, that's not fair. Phone calls were made, but they weren't made to the right people and thus didn't get done. As it seems to always happen for someone I'm working 09L, a weeks worth of processing now needs to be done in... oh... two days. The most frustrating thing was that, once the calls were made, the necessary testing was arranged in about 90 minutes.

I'm not without blame in this situation. Sure, I was two states away and then on leave, but I could have made phone calls and try to contact the people who needed to be contacted to get this scheduling done. I didn't. However,I, as the recruiter, am the least signifigant part of this system. Hell, I've been told before that I shouldn't get involved in these things because it creates a case of "too many chefs".


My latest applicant is being transported to the testing center over a new and undisclosed route. I could tell you the route we're going to take, but if I did I'd have to kill you. And unless you have the Killinator extension for FireFox I won't be able to do that from my PC. Have a good one.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Gun Shy

I've had a couple times where I've been told I needed to tighten my shot group when it comes to writing online. I do recognize that, as a recruiter, I do represent the Army and the military in the eyes of many people who are not in military communities. Because of that I don't do stupid things while in uniform or using official resources. Things like going to the local pr0n shop while driving my G-Jet, or buy large quanties of beer while in uniform are things I won't do because you never know who's watching. That, of course, applies to online as well.

Personal Web Pages, as they're referred to in most policies, are a new beast. Well, not exactly. The internet isn't exactly a brand-spanking new thingy, it's been around for a while. But there is a collision of easy-to-use software, free hosting, and a military subject while people want to read going on right now. The combination of story, publication, and viewability is what is new. 5 years ago I'd have been hard pressed to put out a product anyone could read (I'm still hard-pressed to do so, but that's an inditement of my writing ability, not the software and hosting).

Earlier this year I rambled a bit (it's down page) about how I think that blogging, public writing in general, is a good thing for recruiting. We're constantly told how we need to tell prospects "our Army Story". Well, telling that Army Story online is something which puts me in a gray area though. While I'm allowed to operate a personal web page, it cannot be used for recruiting purposes. What defines a "recruiting purpose" strikes me as a pale, fuzzy line at best. If I tell about a time in my past when I was a young Soldier full of fire and vigor, and how awesome it was to be in the Army, and that inspires a person to contact me to ask for some more info, does that constitute a "recruiting activity"? I'd like to think it doesn't. However each time I've had to tighten my shot group it was over something I didn't see coming.

The worry over what will and will not incur the wrath of the recruiting gods has made me more and more gun shy to talk about what the title of my blog says I will discuss. Hence the light writing of late, and the lack of info about the day-to-day stuff. I'd like to be cavalier enough to just go "eff it" and write about anything that comes to mind, but as Army Lawyer points out recently, if it's been online it can be found. I'm not anonymous, everyone knows who I am, and it's not that difficult to figure out how to contact people who can affect me. Hell, people have so this is nothing new.

Unfortunatly for me, this is something I enjoy doing, so I'll keep it up regardless.

Between my training last week, and family visiting earlier this week I'm way behind the 8-ball right now. With a mission of four, and a week left, there is only one solid contract. Thanks to the processing help I'm used to receiving my 09L remained, two weeks later, exactly where he was in the flow chart when I left to see Felina out in some West Texas town. So, there is no two-for-one deal lined up for me to finish off. Instead I'm left with a week to do two weeks of processing. It's insane.

However, this week I've been beset upon by a horde of people with low EST scores. They are are very interested in joining, some even committed if they pass. This is a true case of throwing it on the wall and seeing what sticks though. They're all testing in the same week, and whatever gets a good enough score will be getting stovepiped into the Army Reserve. Achieving four is going to be close, but at least I've got the names to say it can be done.

SGT Curtain is getting her send off soon. She's done her time and escaped with sanity intact. During her three years in recruiting she managed to provide the Army with a squad of highly motivated Soldiers. Good on her. I kid about the amount of people she enlisted though. She remains my hero.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Uncle Jimbo: Astro Hater

Blackfive has been a blog I've been reading since I started reading blogs. One of the contibutors that I like reading the most of Uncle Jimbo. Last week Jimbo crossed the line. His hateful speech is hurtful and going to scar children who read it. He needs to be soundly condemned and scourned for his views on baseball and the Astros specifically. His... insult of the Astros is too hateful for me to repeat.

Until Blackfive takes Jimbo out back and shoots him execution style to end the taint of his Astrophobia on Balckfive's website, I'm going to have to add a new link header. "Endorses Hatred of Astros" has it's first dishoborable entry. Blackfive.

If there are any other bloggers out there who are baseball fans, or Astros fans, please join me in my Don Quiotixeesque crusade to shame Uncle Jimbo into issuing a mealy-mouthed Mel Gibson like apology.

Well, there is a decent chance that Jimbo was typing drunk when he said it.

Turned off

I'm on leave for the beginning of the week; family is in town. Although yesterday was a day that included a lot more working than I like on my days off. It's a long story and involves SGT W^3's imminent demise.

Because I'm on leave I'm going to rely on other people to inspire my post. Darth Commando runs a list of those web quizzes so I figured I'd do it as well.

You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

I do like the occasional stout.

You Are an Iced Coffee

At your best, you are: hyper, modern, and athletic

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you're out with friends

Your caffeine addiction level: medium

Something I hate about Phoenix is the complete lack of a decent Iced Coffee. You'd think that someplace that can hit 120 degree would make it a point to know how to make iced coffee.

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Eh,I guess it's close enough for a 20 question, True/False test.

You Are Boston

Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.
Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.
And quite frankly, you think you are the best.

Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block

If I were to ever come into possession of a small nuclear device I'd sail the Constitution out of Boston and nuke the city. The people of Boston are close-minded and bitter, scarred by decades of ball-chillingly cold winters. There isn't enough parking and they suffer from a region wide case of "short man's syndrome". When I used my nuclear weapon I'd use it during rush hour so hopefully that parking ticket Nazi of a cop who'd always ticket my truck was stuck in traffic when he became vapor. I don't like Boston.

Orange County

You're rich, pretty, and living a charmed life. (Or you seriously wish you were.)
From Disneyland to Laguna Beach, you're all about living the California dream life.
Just make sure to marry rich - so you don't have to work for it!

Sure. Why not.

You Will Die at Age 64

You're pretty average when it comes to how you live...
And how you'll die as well.

Okay. Sure.

Your Career Type: Realistic

You are practical and mechanical.
Your talents lie in working with tools, mechanical or electrical drawings, machines, or animals.

You would make an excellent:

Carpenter - Diesel Mechanic - Electrician
Farmer - Fire Fighter - Flight Engineer
Forester - Locksmith - Locomotive Engineer
Pilot - Police Officer - Truck Driver

The worst career options for your are social careers, like social worker or teacher.

I want to be a fire fighter! They get to have sex with Marissa Tomei!

Your Pirate Name Is...

Skull Crusher Thor

Tonight Mrs. SFC B must call me Skull Crusher Thor.

I'll wait while the other six readers try to scour that thought out of their brains with a brillo pad on a Q-tip.

Your Mexican Name Is...

Don Erubiel

Oh well. At least it's not Timiteo

You Should Weigh 190

If you weigh less than this, you either have a fast metabolism or are about to gain weight.
If you weigh more than this, you may be losing a few pounds soon!


Your Stress Level is: 48%

You are somewhat prone to stress, especially when life gets hard.
When things are good, you resist stressing over little problems.
But when things are difficult, you tend to freak out and find it hard to calm down.

Hopefully SFC SC2 doesn't read this and assume he's now able to ramp up the stress level.