Thursday, December 11, 2008

Turning the Cynicism to 11

I've been catching up on some of my usual reads and I saw something from Baseball Crank which sent my inner cynic into a tizzy. Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that military intervention may be needed in Zimbabwe if Robert Mugabe does not step down. For those not in-the-know on their oppressive governments, Mugabe has spent the better part of three decades turning the once self-sufficient nation of Zimbabwe into one totally reliant upon foreign aid, while reducing the life expectancy of Zimbabweans by over 20 years. Yes, since 1990 the life expectancy of an infant born in Zimbabwe has dropped from 60 years to 37.


My bad. That is for males.

Life expectancy for females in 34.

20% of 15-19 year olds have AIDS/HIV, so life expectancy won't be increasing anytime soon. In a glass-half-full way though, the AIDS should kill them before the starvation does. Most Zimbabweans are at risk of, something euphamistically called, "food insecurity". I learned that's fancy-talk for "They're probably going to starve". Of course, if the AIDS or starvation doesn't kill them, the cholera might.

And yet tourism is one of Zimbabwe's primary industries. I swear, if I ever had a travel agent book me a vacation to Zimbabwe I'd bring them back a bottle of Zimbabwean water as a gift. Although searching Travelocity, I cannot find a flight from Phoenix to Harare (the capital and largest city in Zimbabwe, learn something new every day), so maybe I don't need to worry about accidently showing up there.

I mention all this because, in 30 some-odd days, President-Elect Obama becomes President Obama. We will have, a Democratic president, taking over office from a Bush, during a time when there is international pressure for a military intervention into a deteriorating African nation, after the US was involved in a war with Iraq.

I have seen this before.

From where I sit there are two ways I see this playing out, both of which have happened very recently.

I think the most likely is that the international community will do two things: jack and squat. No one with the ability to make it happen will call for Mugabe to step down, honor his power-sharing agreement, or do anything to improve the lot of his people. They'll continue to die of preventable diseases or starve to death. Eventually, after a few hundred thousand die (it took 800,000 in Rwanda), peacekeepers will be sent in. They will have an ineffective mandate, not that it will matter since it will be too late to prevent the atrocity that prompted their entry anyway. However, they will likely commit their own atrocities in the form of witholding food aid in exchange for sex with minors, or trading weapons to militia. Heck, they may do both.

The other option will be some sort of military intervention, likely under some auspice of the UN. The British pretty much washed their hands of Zimbabwe when it declared independence. The last time France got involved in a conflict in Africa they managed to have each side in the conflict claim the French were supporting their opposition. The time before that they "won" a conflcit in Algeria by retreating from the colony which then declared itself independent. The time before that they bribed the Barbary pirates to leave them alone (I will never pass up a chance to make cheap jokes about France, no matter how non-topical). Neighboring African countries have the same problems, just to a lesser degree. So, this hypothetical UN action in Zimbabwe will likely rely upon, guess who? The US. This will, of course, send us careening into Bizarro World where Republicans will oppose the President sending troops into harm's way, and Democrats will say that it is a moral imperitive that such intervention occurs.

If pressed I'd guess a 75/25 chance of those two scenarios.

There is a wild card though. It is this wild card which sent my cynic dial to 11.

Mugabe managed to keep himself off the Axis of Evil list through a brilliant plan of not giving Bush a reason to put him there by not having oil in his country, not trading in WMDs, or openly supporting terrorism. With a Democrat coming into office, those won't protect him anymore. If there is one thing the 90's taught us, it's that a Democratic president won't prevent a humanitarian disaster if the country where the disaster is occuring has oil, WMDs, or terrorists. If Mugabe has any sense of self-preservation he'd be wise to go ahead and claim that his government has started a program to make a biological weapon out of cholera. This will accomplish several things for him. It will prevent Democratic presidents from invading. It will also set-up UN sanctions which will enrich him and his supporters. Granted, this will only work until Jeb Bush is elected in 2016.

The only thing that depresses me more than the fact I'm cynical enough to think like this, is the knowledge that I wouldn't be shocked one bit if it happened.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso...

... SFC B was sent there again.

I'm in El Paso again. My mom came to visit before Thanksgiving and she chastised me for not updating my blog. Honestly, just don't feel the need to anymore. While I was recruiting there were times when sitting down and typing out a post was the highlight of my day. I've tried to keep it up to date, but, honestly, the continuing of my career just isn't as writing-worthy as my time in USAREC was. Maybe I'll take up heroin so I can write some kickass songs about my recovery from addiction.

Nah, cause that would just fuel the drug trade.

Turns out that Juarez, Mexico is a terribly violent city. The headline in the Borderland section of the El Paso Times earlier this week mentioned that 28 people were killed in the city over the weekend. This was mentioned in passing since there have been 1,400 killed there this year. They're killing police. They're killing government officials. They're killing children. They're killing bystanders. They're killing pretty much everyone. Not just killing either, but kidnapping, raping, torturing, executing, and beheading. It's like the Mexican Cartels are taking distance learning classes from Al Qaeda.

I have no idea what the US, Texas, and El Paso law enforcement agencies have done to keep this from spreading into the US, but it must be a Herculean effort.

Two restrictions seem to be fueling this. The most talked about is, of course, America's drug laws. Since you need to sign a ledger to buy Sudafed in some locations, I tend to agree with those who says it's long past time to reevaluate America's stance on what Americans put into their bodies. You will have to make one hell of a case to convince me that the "worst case" scenario for legalizing drugs in the US will make things worse than it is right now.

However, what I didn't know until I took a wrong turn and almost drove into Mexico is that weapons are illegal in Mexico. Not firearms, weapons. I could spend five years in jail if a Mexican police officer found me with a Gerber. Law-abiding Mexicans can't own the means to defend themselves. This is probably not helping.

America's second-largest trading partner is dealing with a level of violence that's on-par with pre-Surge Iraq. They have even more problems since illegal aliens in America are returning to Mexico because available work in the US has declined with the recession. That is more people entering an already destabilizing situation. The combination of the drug cartels, the government, and the people caught in the middle will make sectarian violence in Iraq seem minor, if only because it will be in our backyard.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recruiting in the News

I meant to get this done on Tuesday but I forgot.

The Army, officially, made its recruiting mission for the year. 101% for the RA and 106% for the USAR.

As I'd mentioned last week though, while this fact was reported, it was reported as part of a large narrative about the services, bascially, bribing folks w/ several hundred million dollars in bonus money. Of course I'm yet to hear any correction or clarification on how much of that was for bonuses and how much was for things like the Army College Fund. I won't hold my breath.

Now for the next phase in the narrative. With the economy going belly up, now recruiters will no longer be portrayed as people preying on naive young people who don't understand the consquences of their actions. We will now be predators offering money to people who cannot find a job elsewhere because the free markets have failed. Of course it's not untrue what it being reported about how the volunteer military will benefit from economic troubles. The Army was always a good job, but now it's even better since, well, it's a steady paycheck, it's bonus money, it's free health care, it's college money. It's also now stable employment. Unfortunatly for the teeming herds of financial folks facing unemployment, the Army's finance field isn't exactly huge. Oh well, take what you can get.

Really though, can they make an effort at even reporting? When things sucked it was front page news. Things are good, it's ignored until someone does something stupid. Now that the economy sucks and people are hurting, suddenly recruiting is reported as being in a great position to prey on those left vulnerable.

Speaking of preying on those who are vulnerable, apparently some protestors in the Bay Area vandalized a military recruiting station while it was empty. My favorite part of that is this quote
The U.S. government has always waged a war of extermination against land-based ways of life in order to impose capitalist exploitation of the earth and its peoples.
That's a fine lot of insane nonsense right there. Who the hell actually talks that way? "Land-based ways of life"? Really? What the hell kind of inane is that? What the hell is a "Land-based way of life"? Are they hunter-gatherers? Some sort of paleolithic agrarian society? The best part though is, I can find absolutly no other evidence they actually did something. There is no reporting of it. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to strike such a viscious blow for the good of the land and all indigenious peoples and not even get a 1.5 inch blurb in the local news section of the town paper.

The best part of it though is that, it will back fire. No one likes a thug. While the recruiters will have the damage repaired and drive on, they get to compare the quiet professionalism of the armed services with the thoughtless mob mentality of those who oppose them. The recruiters will remain there, and they will continue to successfully recruit in the area. All that the vandals accomplished was to show themselves as the immature punks they are.

Continuing with events from that part of Cali, while some children were mixing paint and acid, adults in San Rafael exercised their First Amendment rights by petitioning for the opportunity to present their anti-military views to high school students. Good on them for, rather than trying to silence the recruiter, trying to provide an opposing voice. I don't agree with them, but I'm glad they get the opportunity to say their piece.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Recruiting in the News

I'm trying to figure this one out. The headline for the story is "Group combats military recruitment in schools". The writer, Rachel Schleif, mentions a meeting held by an anti-recruiting group which drew seven attendees, to try and combat recruiting in schools. The group told the attendes this.
Taking students off campus to treat them for lunch, dinner or paintball; setting up rock-climbing walls at schools or local parks; becoming involved in after-school sports to form relationships with children; or taking students out of class to a military-themed trailer parked outside the school.
This occupied 1/4th of the story's length. The rest of the story talked about how the recruiters are obeying the rules the school sets, how parents are able to opt-out and not receive calls, and how the recruiters try and include the parents in as much as possible. The Recruiting Journal couldn't have written a more positive account of recruiter behavior. It even quotes school officials saying that they have no issues with the recruiters visiting their schools, and how the recruiters stay to their scheduled dates and locations. Now I would like to point out to the parent whose child opted out as a freshman that, well, recruiters aren't going to, knowingly, call a freshman or a sophomore. It's a waste of our time since, well, they're about three years from being old enough to enlist with parental consent.

I guess "High School Principal Receives No Complaints About Recruiters" wouldn't make for a very compelling headline.

Unfortunatly "National Guard Recruiter Charged with Sexually Assaulting 2 Female Recruits" is. All I really have to say about this is "Number Two and Number Four."

The big story I've found in this past week has been that the military increased its use of bonuses for recruiting by 25% this past year. Unfortunatly, the story is inaccurate. The writer, Lolita Baldor (a name I've heard before), goes ahead and lumps the money paid out for bonuses and the money paid for college together.
According to data obtained by the AP, the Army and Marine Corps allocated a bit more than $500 million in bonuses and college fund payments...
Emphasis mine. So, what accounted for the increase? Was more spent on bonuses or was more spent on college? Also, what type of bonuses? Were they retention bonuses or enlistment bonuses? Did the data obtained by the AP break it down like that, or did the DOD simply give it to them totaled together? Since Ms. Baldor doesn't bother to differentiate between the two it's impossible to tell.

Of course, the biggest news in this isn't the 25% increase in the budgeting of incentives, but the fact that, yet again, the Army met its recruiting goal for the year. As a matter of fact, all the services met their goals. This tidbit of information gets buried halfway down the story though. To find a headline about how the Army made its recruiting mission, you need to be a Cheesehead. The Daily Kenoshan from Kenosha, WI actually bothered to do the original reporting the AP apparently couldn't be bothered with. Milwaukee Battalion's A&PA must be on the ball to have arranged an interview with the local press and their battalion commander the day after the new FY. Good on them.

I've now read three stories by Lolita Baldor from the AP. All three of them made some basic error or omission regarding the aspect of the military about which she was writing. First she doesn't bother to tell us that her source for a story has a fundamental conflict of interest and bias in a story about military waivers. Then she apparently forgets to account for the fact that her story on the same subject a year later has totally different numbers. Finally this story she doesn't bother to, or is unable to, actually substantiate the claim she makes in her first paragraph. She doesn't actually provide proof that the Army increased its bonus spending by 25%. It could be more, it could be less. Whatever is it though, since the AP said it, the meme will be that the Army spent 25% more on bonuses.

Warning sign

Battle assembly was this past weekend. After training was over, I tried to catch up on some recruiting news. The wife of one of the Houston Battalion recruiters, SFC Patrick Henderson, who killed himself was also a recruiter. The Houston Chronicle wrote about her comments regarding recruiting, her husband, and his death. It's heart-breaking to me to read about the loss this family suffered. As I said before; I've been there.

Something in this though jumped out at me.
"He came up to me and gave me a big hug, and everything was OK."
No. It was not. This is from WebMD
Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy.
SFC Henderson went from being depressed after the suicide of a co-worker, to spending most of a week in a hospital under observation and being prescribed several mood-altering drugs, to being taken off of his regular duty, to having his wife talk about a seperation, and one night he says everything is alright? That is a warning sign so bright that it would make someone in Las Vegas go "Wow, that's bright". Maybe nothing could have been done about it, but I don't agree that SFFC Henderson "just snapped" sometime between him hugging his wife and when he put the rope around his neck. He had made his choice and was content that whatever was bothering him was going to be over soon.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

No Comment

Did you know the Army made its recruiting goals in August 2008?

And in July 2008?

And in June 2008?

And in May 2008?

And in April 2008?

And in March 2008?

And in January 2008?

And in October 2007?

There are four types of people who will know that. People in Army recruiting. People who read DoD News Releases. People who read People who read The Tension. That is it.

If you were a person who relies upon broadcast or print media to know what is going on, you'd have no idea about this. It has simply been ignored. There have been three stories about recruiting since the start of the new FY.

Those above stories are important. Lord knows my feelings about the recent suicides are out in the open. I have my opinions on the Sac Bee's story from the summer out there too. The only links I've ever received from other blogs have been concerning my writing on waivers. But why are these the only stories out there? I'm not asking for front page, 30-inch stories on how recruiting met its mission for some month. There aren't even 2-inch blurbs on sidebars. It's not like it's hard to find out about this stuff. DoD puts it out on a news release which they release around the 10th of the month. How the heck can and another Blogspot blog be the only two outlets which put that out?

Breaking the hold

Yesterday evening Glenn Reynolds came out and said, straight up, most of the broadcast and print media is in the tank for Senator Obama. "Duh" was my response (I know, shocking). But the post, and the reaction of some, clarified a couple things for me.

I missed an opportunity.

I missed the opportunity to report on military recruiting from beyond my own feelings and experiences. I focused almost entirely on what was happening to me and in the immediate area around me. Occasionally I'd go outside my grasping range and comment on reports from print and broadcast media, mostly because those reports were flawed, biased, or just didn't get it and so missed their mark. But, for the most part, I relayed my feelings and experiences and observations on what I was doing. I hated recruiting, I hated it with a passion, and I made little effort to disguise it; basically enough to keep me from getting sent to battalion every other post.

While I was still inside the beast though, I could have done a slightly better job of trying to report on progress, or lack of, USAREC was making towards its mission. I had access, I had people with whom I could talk and get info, and I had the ability to get something out. I didn't use it. My bad.

I've been floundering since I left recruiting to try and find something I want to talk about, which someone other than my mom (Hi Mom!) might want to read. And, honestly, I think mom reads it only because she feels the need to, much like when she sat through middle school band performances. So, maybe there is something I can do, which I'd enjoy doing, which can fill a void not being covered. Who knows.

In the mean time, here's an early heads up for those who expect a Christmas gift from me. You're getting either this or this.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Oh my God.

Except for their decisions at the end, every single emotion and thought those recruiters had I did as well at some point in my time in recruiting. That story reminds me of why I'm so very,very, very glad that I am no longer in USAREC.
The recruiters were told they'd go before a panel of their superiors to defend the work ethic at their stations.
Been there, done that. It wasn't unpleasant enough to prompt to me kill myself, but it was damned unpleasant. Worse, it was counter-productive. Nothing useful came out of it, aside from the satisfaction of making recruiters miserable.
"The way he told me it went down is the sergeant major kept pressuring him to say he's a failure and that he wanted to quit so it would make it easier for her to get rid of him from recruiting altogether or even out of the Army, basically chaptering him out of the Army," Heinrich said. "To be honest, that's something that's threatened on an almost daily basis out here."
I've heard those threats plenty of times as well. Not always directed against myself, but once or twice they were. It's a brilliant tactic. Challenging your Soldiers to admit that they suck and to quit worked quite well in Basic when it really was a matter of confidence and over-coming adversity. Telling a combat veteran or someone with a decade-plus experience in the Army the same thing is just likely to tick them off enough to resent the person making such a canned speech. Of course, such leadership tactics jive with my long-held belief that some leaders in recruiting have the leadership skills of specialists and new sergeants since that's the rank where they left the real Army to join spend the next dozen years in recruiting. Of course, in this situation, it likely led to the death of a Soldier.
Flores had more than work stress to confront. His wife, Jennifer, later told police she'd planned to leave her husband. The couple's marriage was deteriorating under the strain of his long hours and other job-related problems, she said. He'd told her he felt like a failure at work and couldn't take it anymore.
Been there too. The marriage problems and the deep feeling of failure at mission. Just because their guilt-tripping makes you resentful, doesn't mean that's all it does. Being told you're a failure and that the Army would be better off if you'd never enlisted in the first place (I've heard that one as well) can drain on someone who has made the Army their life. And to be told that,while at the same time losing your spouse in part due to the hours and stress of the job you, apparently, suck at so bad can be like a downward spiral.
After his breakdown, Patrick Henderson was treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, police said. He was removed from recruiting duty and ordered to report to the Tyler Company headquarters until reassignment.
I am sure that the CLT gave this Soldier a positive environment where his issues we accommodated. Recruiters being sent to the CLT or BLT is never a good thing. Other recruiters find out your business and you're basically trapped next to the same people who are, likely, causing you the stress which prompted your mental breakdown to begin with.Recruiters said they're proud of their Army service but feel trapped by what they describe as the Houston battalion leadership's lack of compassion.You could cross out Houston and replace it with any other battalion's name it would likely be just as true. Lost time with family. Tin-earred responses to issues in the field. Seemingly arbitrary enforcement of rules. The Buddy System working for those who are in "the know" and screwing those who are not. How the hell the Army has continued to meet its recruiting mission is beyond me. I'm scared to think that it might be because of the insanity instead of in spite of it.
"You've heard that recruiters are kind of insensitive to their recruits and tell them anything, but that pressure comes down all the way from the top," Rodriguez said. "It'll change your personality."
The "Tell them anything" is a bit of pandering, but the rest is pretty damned accurate. I know that my personality changed while I was in the recruiting station. Since I left recruiting I'm calmer, happier, enjoy life more. It's a better life. Given the choice between Recruiting and any other assignment in the Army, I'll take the latter. Don't care what it is. I'll take it. I'd have taken it before I ever experienced recruiting, and I'll take it twice now that I have.
"You dread waking up and going to work," said Chris Rodriguez...
Oh my god that's so very, very true. I hated when the alarm went off in the morning. Hated it. The whole drive to the station I was just thinking of the ways the day would be miserable. If I was lucky only the things I thought of would happen. Unlucky days would be ones where things I hadn't did. A miserable time which I could not accurately describe because I was too close to how much it sucked.
"You'll have no life, you'll never see your family. It's worse than a deployment because you're there with your family, but you can't spend any time with them."
When the station/company/battalion would be listening to some recruiting speaker talk about how good we have it since we're home with our families and not overseas, without fail half the recruiters in attendance would lean over and whisper to the other half "yeah, but I never see them." I didn't mind that the recruiting leadership said things like that, because I understood it was something they had to do. Almost like kabuki. I minded the fact they deeply believed it to be true.
Rodriguez, 25, used to have nightmares about recruiting after he left the battalion to serve in Iraq.
I still do. I wake up some mornings fearing I forgot to take someone downtown. Sometimes when the phone rings I get that twinge of dread I'd get when I was back in recruiting. I work with a couple for former recruiters, we all have similar issues. I have this one recurring nightmare which involves my planning guide that wakes me up in a cold sweat. The Army needs to come up with a health survey similar to the one they give Soldiers who come back from overseas to give to recruiters.
Also on Thursday, U.S. Recruiting Command at Fort Knox in Kentucky announced that it is "deeply concerned" and will deploy a critical response team to the battalion.
I can almost hear the critical response team now. "You know what helps to reduce stress in your life? Mission accomplishment. Also, making five hours of phone calls a day is very therapeutic." There was only one person in my entire battalion who, I believe, actually cared for the recruiters' well-being. One. I could live with the battalion commander and CSM focusing more on the mission than on the Soldiers. I couldn't stand that even the staff sections didn't have one lick of concern for the Soldiers they were responsible for supporting. However, instead of caring about the mission at the expense of the Soldiers, the staff folks cared more about getting an omelet sandwich from Burger King.

I hope that John Coryn's investigation actually reveals some of the real issues and isn't greeted with the white-wash job any look into the depths of recruiting tends to become. Recruiters are the exception to the treatment which Soldiers get today. While the rest of the military is treated mostly with respect, recruiters get branded as liars by the civilian world, and as failures by their leadership. They're getting it from both ends. Recruiting will break before the rest of the Army comes anywhere near it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

49 State Campaign

I thought this was supposed to be a 50 State Campaign. As I logged in to do my catching up before work I saw a blurb about Senator Obama withdrawing from Georgia. I had no idea that the good senator was so sync'd with Moscow that his campaign had invaded Georgia as well. Then I had my coffee and realized it was the state and not the country from which he was removing personnel.

I distinctly remember some folks were giddy with excitement that Senator Obama was going to make it a national campaign. But now, here in the home stretch, when the campaign should be awash in dollars after a massive triumph, they are cutting staff in a state where Obama had been making slow gains on McCain. Of course, the last available information is from August and a couple of things have changed since then.

I don't know why, but I just had a thought about Houston and Buffalo cross my mind.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Arizona weather is... varied

As I pulled into Tolleson I was greeted with something that the owner of any newly purchased vehicle would hate.


Luckily I made it into the garage before the HUGE chunks started to fall.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cribbing from Usher

My name is John and I'm a closet political junkie.

Three and a half of every four years I don't pay a lot of attention to politics. I do my reading and I keep informed about what's going on, but it's not obsession-level stuff for me. It's merely information. However, when the primary season gets into full-swing I become an addict. I can't get enough coverage. I'm so thrilled to have discovered blogs and the non-MSM back before the 2000 election. And thanks to the explosion of alternative media outlets, I don't only get coverage of the political events. I get coverage of the coverage. Hell, nowadays you can get coverage of the coverage of the coverage of what isn't being covered!

This must be what's it's like when filthy hippies upgrade from marijuana to heroin (I learned in middle school that being exposed to pot leads you on a collision course with being a crack whore. I doubt that my school would have used scare tactics on such young children so obviously it's the truth.).

I'd like to think that I haven't made it hidden where I sit on the political spectrum. In case I had, you can see my graphy-thingy here. You can look at that and get some idea about what my biases are regarding candidates and their positions.

Last election I debated seriously about posting one of the "I support " banners to my site. I decided against it because, frankly, it really didn't seem proper for me to have such a banner on the website of someone currently on active duty. I make no bones about who I support. However I will probably talk about who I may or may not vote for on the actual Texas election ballot.

So, to my six readers (Hi Mom!), I promise, I will get back to writing about things which don't matter to anyone but me in a couple of months. In the mean time I'm going to see if I can somehow prove that my best man is really the father of Sarah Palin's oldest daughter's first child.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Well, that wasn't expected

I didn't expect to find out that Senator McCain selected a woman to be his vice-president. I can only imagine some ignorant cockfag finding himself torn between not wanting to vote for the n***** and not wanting to vote for the c***. Oh, what interesting times we live in. And I hate that.

While doing some Googling I discovered a little blurb from way back in 2005 concerning Governor Palin's neighbors back when she was the mayor of that 9,000 person town. Turns out her neighbors were actually an Oxford House. Oxford House is a religious organization which runs halfway houses for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. As one can imagine, trying to get a house which will house people who are known alcoholics and addicts is not an easy task. That the mayor of a town, even such a small one, would allow them to set-up shop next to her and her family, is kind of impressive to me. For the plethora of faults and foilbes which will be revealed about Miss Congeniality Alaska 1984, there is a very real compassionate streak.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I wonder who they will vote for now?

I wonder if the counter-recruiting folks are finding themselves in a bit of a dilemma. For years they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, and tens of thousands of man hours opposing military recruiters in schools. Anti-recruiting initiatives across the country have sought to prevent military recruiters from having the same access to high school campuses that college recruiters enjoy. All of this to prevent military recruiters from being able to offer these eligible students the opportunity to say "yes" or "no".

Senator Obama wants to make every child over the age of 10, attending public school, serve the government.

If military recruiters calling high school students to see if they want information about the military is enough to make someone bomb a recruiting station, I can't imagine what mandatory community service will make these people do. Hell, they might be mad enough to try and blow up court houses.

Looking over the fact sheet, I can't help but think "What government does he think will supervise this goat rope?". The basic premise of "No Child Left Behind" was that there would be a standard way of telling how well students are being educated, and be able to identify and correct schools which fail to meet this objective. They wanted to standardize a way to measure how well schools do their core mission; Educate American children. The government can't even do that right.

Let me say that again clearer.
The federal government can't even determine if schools are educating children to a minimum standard.
And I'm supposed to believe this same government will be able to track and enforce a voluntold program for a couple dozen million students? Just suppose for a second that the Obama-Jugend Universal Voluntary Citizen Service was actually implemented. Americans will sue, and force the government to spend millions of dollars defending, about the Pledge of Allegiance containing the phrase "Under God". How do you think families are going to feel when their children find themselves having to do voluntold service at a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple? How will a pro-life family feel when their son is required to help out a hospital which does abortions? I'm sure there will be some provision which would, nominally, allow a family to not require their child to serve at some organization which is antithetical to their beliefs, however there are only so many places which can handle a sudden influx of volunteers. There will be plenty of families in the position of choosing whether their child will complete their 50 hours of community service or holding on to their beliefs.

It wouldn't be much of a program if students and their families were allowed to just go out and find something they wanted to as a volunteer. The only places students will be allowed to volunteer, and receive the necessary credit for this service, will need to be certified. Who will certify them? The government. I know how I feel about the government suddenly having the power to give a yay or nay to whether a particular non-profit is worthy of being able to tap into this vast swell of free labor.

I wonder what part of the school day is going to be sacrificed to accomplish this goal? I watched a school refuse to allow ASVAB testing because it would consume a four hour block of time for the junior class one day of the year. Elementary school students are so overwhelmed with classwork, homework, books, and supplies that they need to have roller bags for their gear. What will be sacrificed to allow these students the time to fulfill their service obligations? English? History? Science? Math? Maybe extra time can be added to the school day to accommodate this. So, who will pay the teachers for their extra time? How will the janitorial services folks feel about getting home to their families an hour later because they couldn't clean the school until the kids left?

This just leads me to the safety and accountability portion. School districts can't keep pedophiles out of their midst now. Let's go ahead and expand the number of people who will have access to students twofold. Who is going to be held accountable when Little Skipette hurts herself cleaning up a park? I forgot, everyone will have full health insurance. Skipette's medical treatment will be free, however it will take her three weeks to see a doctor, during which time the ligament damage she suffered when she rolled her ankle will be permanent, requiring surgery (which will be delayed), and restricting her to a life of collecting disability. So it will all be good since there will be a plethora of new Skipettes there to care for her needs as part of their requirement to move on to the seventh grade.

Of course, all this good work will be useless if the same crop of under experienced teachers are manning the classrooms. So, to address this, President Obama's Classroom Corps "will enlist retired or mid-career engineers and scientists to provide support for math and science teachers...". Now, there is a reason that engineers and scientists don't choose to work in schools. The pay is crap when compared to what they can make on the free market. There are only a couple of ways to go about doing this. Either those who wish to enter into the science or engineering fields will be compelled to voluntold their time at their local schools, or every school district in America is going to be getting a huge chunk of tax-payer money to support the hiring of these professionals. I don't see the various teachers unions enjoying the sudden influx of non-union members into education, or the fact that they're likely to be paid more than most teachers despite a lack of experience in education.

Senator Obama's Universal Voluntary Citizen Service plan is designed to screw poor people.


I said it.

This will not affect rich people for two reasons. 1: They go to private schools which will likely be exempt from such requirements. 2: If they do go to public schools, they go to schools in wealthy locales who can afford the additional staff to support such activities. This will affect middle class folks because their schools can't afford the additional staff, so they'll have to cut something else from the school day. Probably the non-football athletics and the music programs. But it will still happen for them. Poor people though, they're boned. Poor people don't get to send their kids to good schools. Poor schools already under perform by every measure. They can't afford new staff, and the quality of what they have is already hurting. This is simply going reduce the small opportunity for a good primary education that poor families already have. It is going to reduce the time spent learning in class, while increasing the time spent commuting between home, school, voluntold location, and home.

Heck, the good senator just wants to take 50 hours a year from 10 year olds. He wants to take 100 hours a year from adults. College students will need to do 100 hours a year of voluntold service. Remember collegians after you've paid your tuition for the semester and as you're picking up trash along the highway instead of studying for your finals, you could have joined the military and at least be getting paid for enjoying the suck.

Honestly, this makes me question the critical thinking skills of all those college students who are going to be voting for the junior senator from Illinois. First off, he wants them all to spend 100 hours a year doing voluntold work. He also wants many of them to be required to spend their post-college years working for below-market wages as mentors in schools. Then he chooses as a running mate a man who is in the pocket of the RIAA. The same RIAA who has decided to sue everyone who has ever downloaded a file from anywhere that may, or may not, be music. Even the dead. I don't know much about being a college student nowadays, but I do know they don't like being sued for downloading things.

I'm looking forward to see the counter-recruitment folks move on to trying to block the conscription of 12 year olds to go help out at the local church.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Why am I watching this?

It is a little past midnight here in El Paso. Despite a 0500 wake-up I find myself watching the live feed of the Olympics from Beijing. Now, when it was something interesting like Michael Phelps being superhuman or a bunch of teenagers reaching the apex of their accomplishments at age 13 16 I could excuse myself the indulgence. Right now I'm watching the women's 10,000 meter race. I have no idea why. Could be worse, I could have paid money for a plane ticket to China, a hotel room in Beijing, and tickets to the track and field day and realized that I went on the day of the women's 10,000 meter race.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Catching Up

This was prompted by a comment left nearly a month ago by SSG K. The Sacramento Bee had published a story about the prevalence of people who commit crimes in the military to have had some sort of criminal background.

I've dealt with the "soldier quality" issue for over two years. I've even manged to spot errors missed by people who get large amounts of money to do that very thing. By the way, I never have received another word from any of the parties involved in that.

I read, re-read, and re-re-read the article. My main concern was their methodology. Basically, they selected 250 names, some of the off of some list of recruits, the others were servicemembers who were known to have committed some crime either in or out of the military. The Sac Bee does not reveal how many were randomly selected and how many were not. The result is that, of the 250, 120 had some sort of criminal background. According to the lead reporter, Russell Carollo, none of those were just one traffic ticket so I'm going to assume they were all either charged with, or found guilty of, some crime of minor non-traffic or greater. So, basically, out of 250 mostly random people, 120 of them, over a decade-plus time frame, had some sort of run-in with a law enforcement agency.

Honestly, if the Sac Bee had reported that the Army had ignored 120 people with criminal backgrounds who went on to commit some sort of crime in while in a war zone, I'd have been impressed with their devotion to providing news for the public. However they did not.

One of the Soldier's highlighted in the Sac Bee's story is SPC Mario Lozano. SPC Lozano was the Soldier who fired the fatal shot in the shooting of an Italian Army officer involved in paying the ransom for an Italian journalist who was kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq in 2005. SPC Lozano's criminal history involves him making threats against a man who was reposessing his car in 1994, and then his wife calling the police in 1998 after he slapped her when she admitted to an affair, and owing child-support. Not exactly the sort of criminal background which would lead one to worry he'd be the cause of an international incident.

While I highlight the background on SPC Lozano, his is not unique. The Sac Bee's reporting leaves a lot to be desired. It's scattershot and haphazard, jumping from incident to incident without any attempt to link the past behavior and behavior in Iraq. It's sensationalism and totally devoid of context. It's a great concept poorly executed and then poorly defended with claims of "The Pentagon researches it too!".

*UPDATE 20080811*

Zack reminded me of something which I forgot to mention. One of the people the Sac Bee highlist gets multiple paragraphs because he was a felon. They even get a gotcha quote from the local sheriff asking how the guy can carry a weapon. His crime? Stole something worth under $500. My question is, how the hell is someone considered a felon, and stripped of basic rights like owning a firearm and voting, because they stole something under $500 in value. I guess that's an issue for another expose from the Sac Bee.


Wow, two posts in a month. Call me butter because I'm on a roll!

Mrs. SFC B and I had a little bit of a household project we worked on this weekend. We finally installed window tint. Living in the Valley of the Sun means that summer gets hot. Hotter-than-Iraq hot at time. I can't believe it took us over a year to actually do something about our windows. Mrs. SFC B had seen some window tint at Home Depot and decided it would be a good thing. She was right. We bought four rolls of Gila Titanium Heat Control film and it has made an immediate difference. Our living room and kitchen are noticeably cooler as is the upstairs office. Even being total novices at such installation we managed to do the downstairs windows in only a couple of hours. The AC now runs less and the ceiling fan does most of the cooling in the living room now. It is awesome.

Michael Yon has been a person I have read since around his first embed with "Duece Four". I remember being gripped by his story about LTC Kurilla's shoot-out which left him shot three times and his attacker a eunuch. His book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, is a thing to behold. I ordered it while in El Paso and I wanted to save it for when I return next week. That was not to happen. I am too voracious a reader, and to have left his words unread for a moment longer would be an insult. If you're someone for whom I will buy Christmas presents, this is likely what you'll get. Let me know if you already have it. I guess I will have to wait until Crystal finishes her book before I'll buy my next blogger tome.

It's a lazy Sunday again and I spent a good bit of it working on my fantasy football team. SSG George, your reign ends at one.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Stayin' Alive

Ah ah ah ah stayinnnnnnnnn aliiiiiveeeeee

Sorry, didn't mean to sing like that.

It's been nearly a month since I bothered to write anything. It's not from lack of things to write about, but from a lack of things to write about which I wanted to write about.

That made perfect sense in my head.

I spent two weeks at Camp MacGregor again. This looks like something which will become a semi-regular gig for me. I don't mind the TDY money, but I do wish Mexico wasn't so close to El Paso. My God, looking out over Juarez makes you very grateful for things like "zoning" and "building codes".

Another unit was successfully trained and will be headed to some foreign country at some point in the future. And for anyone from that unit who happened to read that statement, that's how you avoid telling someone things which violate OPSEC. Seriously guys, if someone who identifies themselves as a reporter asks you for deployment dates, times, locations, the strength of your unit, the equipment you're taking, and when you send out patrols and change guards shifts don't tell them. That was AAR comment #3. Don't ask what two things were more jacked up.

Anyways, I'm off for the weekend before headed back to El Paso/MacGregor again next week. It will be more of the same.

The Astros are basically out of it. I knew it was going to be a long season, but they didn't have to trade away two of their very few decent prospects for Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins. The same LaTroy Hawkins was thought he was going to be released and thus available for nothing more than a waiver claim. Seriously, Ed Wade needs to fire up a copy of some MLB console game and try to execute these trades in there first. If the computer won't accept the trade because it violates its "fair trade" rule, then don't execute it Ed. Just don't.

Madden '09 comes out soon. I still haven't forgiven them for that horribly confusing "Vision Cone" a couple years ago. Frankly, Madden has peaked and, were it not for the monopoly EA holds on NFL licensing, they'd be suffering at the cash register from people going to different franchises. However the NFL, taking advantage of the fact their fans are stupid, has sold off their ability to improve the NFL fan experience by gifting the rights to NFL players and logos to a single developer.

I found out what it takes to make me want to give my money to a political cause: The opposing side threatening to "come after" me. I still haven't actually given any money to these "outside" conservative groups, but I'd be thrilled if someone sent me a letter or called me to harass me over such a donation. It would give me something to write about. I wonder how hard it is to form a 501(c)4? I'd like to start one named "Former Recruiters Who Want to Poke Tom Matzzie in the Eye with a Stick". I'll bet I get a phone call about that. And don't think I don't have the sticks Tom Matzzie. I just trimmed the trees in my yard, I have three trash bags full of sticks!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


So, I just stepped off the scale and was greeted with a 252. I mention this because, I fear the "easy" part is done. My diet, while far from perfect, is signifigantly improved. Previously it was McDonald's for breakfast. Jack-in-the-Box for lunch. Dinner was either at home, or at Panda Express. Thinking back on those times, it's a miracle I only weighed 280; I ate terribly. We all did.

I want to get down under 235 by Christmas. I doubt that I'll drop another 25 pounds in three months like I have (it took me some time to break my previous bad habits after leaving USAREC so I didn't actually start losing weight until late March). I attribute a lot of this weight-loss to the lifestyle change of better hours, less stress, and improved eating habits. But by the holiday time, I don't see it as unreasonable to have shed that remaining recruiter-weight.

Here is where I stand right this second as far as diet and exercise. I run a little over three miles a day on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. This at a moderate pace, I'm more concerned with endurance and my breathing those days. Tuesday-Thursday I do two miles but at a faster pace. I'm more concerned with leg strength and speed on those days. Saturday and Sunday are days of rest. I want to get down to just one day off, but, self-assessment here, it's a motivation issue. I hate to run. Hate it with a passion. I run during the week because, well, I leave for work early so I can beat traffic and leave early for the same reason. I get to the office a good two hours before the work-day starts. What else am I going to do for those two hours? Weekends though I don't have that same motivation. What I hope will happen soon is that I will be able to take Zoe for a run in the morning on Saturdays. The parvo scare from May has kept her on lockdown in the backyard until she's a bit older and has had more of her vaccines. So I'm hoping that in the not-too-distant future I'll be able to take her out of the house again. When that happens I'll be able to get a short run on Saturdays.

Of course, all the exercise in the world won't help without controlling the intake. I admit it. There is room for improvement in my eating habits. Room for a lot of improvement. Here's my usual diet. For breakfast I have a bowl of cereal. Currently it is Cocoa Puffies with skim milk. Lunch is at Subway where I get one of the low-fat six inch subs or the spicy italian. Dinner is at home. I've swapped drinking soda at work for drinking water, although I will have a medium soda with lunch and usually another one towards the end of the day. But I don't go through four or more like I used to. Snacking has, mostly, been reduced as well. My current vice is Mochi Ice Cream. Yummy.

Anyways. 235 pounds by Christmas.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Damned Travel System

I want to rant against DTS yet again, but honestly, it's just not worth it. At this point I'm pretty sure the problems are all me and that I'm some sort of luddite who just refuses to drink the DTS Kool-Aid. Yet again though, I have had my travel reimbursement delayed because something that "normally works fine" was wicked broken for me.

I hate DTS.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Poor Noob

Today a former member of my unit came in as a newly badged recruiter. He left the Reserve to go RA and apply for recruiting. No idea how he swung it, but he did. He came into the office to speak with some people who knew him back in the day. While there I sat down and talked with him and gave him some advice regarding the importance of work ethic, doing P1, and keeping track of your planning guide. He'll learn the other stuff on his own.

I came down with some sort of flu bug my last day in California. Mrs. SFC B swears I'm suffering from smoke inhalation, but she's not the one who had cold shivers in a bunk with a terrible cough and congestion for a 24 hour period. It's not the first time in my life I contracted and unpleasant, short duration virus. Been there, done that. However I'm still dealing with the after effects with a little bit of congestion and coughing. Nothing serious, but it's a bit draining. I was out running this morning and struggled to make it through because I kept having to cough up something disgusting. It didn't help that I forgot how hot Phoenix can be and didn't properly hydrate before starting my run. I wound up cutting it short to go back to the reserve center and get some water.

Since I left USAREC I am now down about 25 pounds. For the first time since March of 2005, and well before I started this blog, I am down under 255 pounds. I'm still well off where I was at my peak in the 94th RRC, which was about 230, but I'm feeling a whole hell of a lot better then I did this time last year. We went to a friend's house to watch the Euro Cup Final (his wife is German) and I put on a pair of jeans that hadn't fit me well in three years. They fit so good. Mrs. SFC B bought me a few pairs of jeans for Christmas this year and they all fit me well Christmas Day. They now fall off of me. It's not like they "ride a bit low" but "if I move three steps they drop to my ankles" loose. Between the daily PT and much better diet I'm almost Soldier-like in my appearance.

The best part of being at Hunter Liggett was standing in front of the Soldiers I was training. Something I did take away from my time in recruiting is an appreciation for talking to people. I applied that with great eagerness in my time out there. Honestly, prior to recruiting, I'd have been intimidated to the point of lower effectiveness by standing in front of a crowd of 75+. Now, not even close. I was loud, animated, knowledgeable, and according to the Soldiers trained, the most memorable and informative instructor.

Anyways, there is a new recruiter out here in the Valley. Wish him the best of luck.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Pacific Warrior 2008 is complete. The preparations for Pacific Warrior 2009 are, undoubtedly, underway. Hopefully in 2009 they will follow the published time line. I am very familiar with the burned out car in the photograph in the previously linked story. I spent a good deal of time near it looking for spent grenade simulators.

In the time I spent out there my team and I trained about 400 Soldiers on the basics of FOB defense. We saw some of the best of what the reserve had to offer. We also saw some of the worst. You wouldn't think that "Take cover. Return fire." would be a hard tenet to follow, but for some it really was. The best comment was from a "killed" PFC. He was asked why he didn't return fire and replied "Well, I thought about shooting back." The young Soldier couldn't really be blamed as his leadership was too busy repeating back everything the voice on the radio. It was ugly. Of course for every time a 249 gunner opened fire into a crowd of Soldiers mixed with civilians there were highly disciplined Soldiers establishing security and suppressing enemy fire.

This was also my first trip to the west coast. I got to actually step into the Pacific Ocean and eat lunch on Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. It was a good time. I'm back.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Training Time!

Well folks, I'll be away for a little while. I'm headed to Ft. Hunter Liggett to provide my very limited knowledge to Pacific Warrior 2008. Should be fun. Don't know what sort of internet access I'll have while I'm out there so I may not post again until the end of June. If it is that long, hope y'all can managed without me.

Oh and congratulations to SSG George and his family. He out-processed and managed to survive his time in recruiting as well. Enjoy Hawaii.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dipping a Toe into Punditry

So, recently Senator Obama mentioned that his uncle was involved in the liberation of Auschwitz during WWII. He also mentioned that, upon returning from war, his uncle then spent the next six months sequestering himself in the attic. Turns out it was his great uncle, not his uncle (totally understandable, I refer to my grandmother's brother as "uncle") and that it was Buchenwald not Auschwitz (Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets). Honestly, these aren't really that big of a deal, to me at least. Calling a male, non-parent, older relative as "uncle", when he's not really your parents' brother, strikes me as rather normal. And confusing which Nazi concentration camp your relative liberated seems like a rather honest mistake. What caught my attention was his referring to his uncle's response when he returned from WWII.

Back when the revelation that Senator Obama and Vice President Cheney were related the senator said:
"The name Dick Cheney, my cousin, will not appear on the ballot," Obama said. "We had been trying to hide that cousin thing for a long time. Everybody's got a black sheep in the family. A crazy uncle in the attic."
When the senator originally made that remark I just figured he was speaking metaphorically. Nope. Turns out he really did have an uncle who spent six months in the attic after returning from war.

Maybe I'm being over-analytical, but is Senator Obama saying that his family considers the man who served in World War II was present at the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp a "black sheep" and "crazy"?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


This story combines my two greatest fears.


Injuries to Mr. Happy.

I'm going to go sob silently in the corner.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Answers, or lack thereof

Well, I've written Mr. Boucai a couple of times seeking a follow-up on the whole "enlisting felons" thing he did a couple years back which was then reported on by the AP. BLUF: The original data represented a combination of approved waivers and suitability reviews, however the academic paper didn't make the distinction and drew conclusions based on data which was factually incorrect. Compounding this, a think tank which supports abolishing Don't Ask, Don't Tell used the cover of this inaccurate paper to issue a call for allowing openly gay people to serve in the military. And this whole shebang was reported in many major outlets due to the reporting of the Associated Press.

However, it seems no one bothered to ask the researcher what his numbers represented until I came along, a year later, and asked.

So, I'm deep into windmill tilting territory right now. There is nothing I can accomplish with this knowledge, and I fully intend to accomplish as much nothing as I can. Since all eight of my readers are either in college or college grads (Hi mom!) if you were to find out that a paper published by a major university was factually incorrect, what would you do?

Good puppy

So, I'm driving home yesterday and I get a text from Mrs. SFC B. "Zoe is vomiting, going to take her to the vet." I know what she's thinking, she's worried about the dog having parvo. For those who don't like to click things, BLUF: parvo is a virus which will seriously dehydrate an animal and can kill them through secondary infections. It's very resiliant and it's a problem here in Arizona. Zoe hasn't had all of her boosters, and even then they're not 100% effective so it's something we need to keep an eye on. If caught early enough the animal has a decent chance of surviving. Although the virus can't be treated, the symptoms (dehydration) can. End result: Mrs. SFC B taking Zoe to the vet.

About a month ago Mrs. SFC B had come into the office where I was hard at work and told me she though Zoe might have parvo and she was going to take her to the vet. Mrs. SFC B's indication that Zoe might have contracted the virus was that she was acting lethargic. I'd never heard of parvo at this point in my life so I quickly practive my Google-fu and check the list of symptoms. Lethargy is right up there, however vomiting and diahrrea are as well. To my knowledge she hadn't demonstrated either. So I go downstairs to check on our lethargic puppy and I'm attacked. Mucho puppy love. Zoe is bouncing, yipping, wagging her tail, basically acting in every non-lethargic way possible. Mrs. SFC B and I agree that, she doesn't have it.

I admit to being worried when I got that text saying she was vomiting. I took Zoe for walks with me in the morning, and while I was vigilant about keepng her away from non-Zoe poop, I was worried I'd exposed her to the virus. I head to the vet to meet w/ Mrs. SFC B and the puppy. I'm quickly led to the room where they are and, as usual, I'm greeted with a very happy puppy showing no signs of distress. At least no signs until she had a swab stuck up her butt and got a couple of shots. She tested negative (yay!) but we were told that she might still have it but hadn't started to shed the virus, so the very nice vet told us to keep an eye on her and watch for several symptoms, most important is lethargy.

Up to this point I'd been told time and time again how Zoe was throwing-up anything she ate or drank as soon as she consumed it. I even saw the towel Mrs. SFC B used to clean it up, and the stain on the patio. At some point that afternoon Zoe had been a very sick dog (that or bulemic). We get home and give Zoe water; no issues. Give her some more; no issues. She is running, jumping, being the exact same hyper ball of fluff she's always been.

Work days I usually wake up around 5, watch SportsCenter, let Zoe into the backyard, and do things like write blog posts and read/ respond to email (I have like 8 billion euros waiting for me from the various lotteries I've won). When I woke up there was Zoe, in her little caged off area running in circles waiting for me to take her out.

While we're not out of the woods yet (if she's symptom free for another 12 hours this will have been, officially, a false alarm) it's looking good. When I left this morning the puppy was doing her little "I'll knife ya! I'm crazy!" schtick with the cat, which is a good thing.

Anyways, time to head off to the office. Have a good one y'all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Inside Baseball Part 1b

I had intended to write this yesterday, but for some reason I don't know, I was compelled to write something different. Anyways, I'm back on track and I'll go ahead and get started.

I'm pretty sure sometime in the past I'd mentioned that success in recruiting relies on making the best of the gray area between the black and white world of AR 601-210. However I do have over 400 posts spanning nearly three years, so I'm not going to go back looking for some off-hand comment I might have made in a post titled something like "Duhhhhhhhh".

I really do need to work on my post naming skillz.

I also need to work on my habit of beginning paragraphs with "I". I do it too often.


Okay, back on topic.

I learned that lesson after my Station Commander had told me to have people lie on their 2807.

Background. I was a very new recruiter and my first station commander still hadn't given up and began looking for his next assignment, so he actually took an interest in what we were doing as recruiters. One day I was working with a prior service applicant who had agreed to process and enlist. Admittedly I'd done a poor job of pre-qual. I knew he was an RE3 and would require a waiver, but I hadn't probed into the details. I was still wicked new and hadn't learned "how". Anyways, the applicant begins filling out his 2807 and asks me what he should put on it. I tell him to put down what, where, when, and what the result was. And to answer as honestly and completely as he could. After he completed this 2807 I faxed it to MEPS and went home to enjoy the rest of my Sunday (Yes, I was working on a Sunday).

MEPS wouldn't even entertain the concept of this guy enlisting. He was that disqualified. My applicant had been through ASAP and failed. He'd been in and out of alcohol counseling for years and, apparently, been clean for quite a while, but he was done. There was no way he was getting in with that history of problems with alcohol. I found myself at parade rest in the station commander's office being asked if I was trying to make him look bad or if I was just an idiot. It was an unpleasant, one-way conversation.

SSG Rage may remember this, and this was the moment I realized that he really was the best recruiter I was going to meet, but the station commander called the other recruiters in to the office one-by-one to critique the 2807 and tell me how unacceptable it was. After the last recruiter had told me that I shouldn't have even bothered with the guy (they were right), I took a seat and proceeded to have my station commander tell me that no one joins the army without lying.

I objected (GAH!).

When I was 13 years old I spent a good deal of time in the adolescent mental ward at a hospital in Houston. And I spent significantly more time with various counselors and psychiatrists. That's a story for another time. Back in 1995 when I filled out the 2807 (assuming that is what it was called back then, I can't recall) I didn't say I'd been in a hospital. Honestly, to my young self, I didn't consider it a "hospital" and it didn't ring any bells for me. However, on the 2808 it specifically mentioned counseling, psychiatrists, etc and that rung the bell so I listed it. I was DQ'd and told to get the docs related to it. Luckily my mom is a meticlious record keeper and they were submitted quickly. I got the waiver and I was enlisted, even getting a secret clearance in a MI unit. I was honest with my stuff and got in. It was delayed, which undoubtedly ruined my recruiter's day (I saw her twice and never heard from her after I enlisted), but it didn't stop me.

So, within my own military career I had prima facie evidence that not "everyone" lies on their 2807. And, to this day, I don't believe that concealing medical issues or law violations is a good idea. It's a career ender and puts you into harm's way as a recruiter. And yet the person who was going to rate me was telling me to have people lie.

But, reality is what it is.

During my many conversations with other recruiters, the question always boiled down to "Would you go to war with this person?". The only acceptable answer was an unqualified "Yes". Anything else would result in the potential applicant being kindly shown the door. Just not worth people's lives. That's what makes incidents like this so stupid. The guy required a pretty powerful drug to maintain an even keel. There was no way this would turn out good.

If you held a gun to my head and made me tell you the two conditions which I'd blur the line on they would be asthma and ADD/ADHD.

Asthma is a processing killer. If your applicant admits to an asthma-like condition any time since age 12, they're done. It's not happening. The applicant can get as many recommendations and tests they can afford. The moment the docs see "asthma", even it is proceeded by "px has no signs of", they're done. Sure, with the hundreds of people processed some will sneak through and get an asthma waiver, but it won't happen when you need it. Nothing is better than the first time you have an all city/county/state athlete DQ'd for asthma. It just makes you sit at your desk and think about whether Al Qaeda has a sleeper cell at Ft. Knox.

ADD/ADHD is a little more thorny. Supposedly all you need is a doctor's letter stating they have been off the drug for a year. Problem is, they rarely get that letter when they go off the medication. The kid just stops taking it because... whyever. And most doctor's won't just go "Sure SGT Recruiter, I'll write whatever you want on this note and sign it for you." So you find yourself in the position of having to tell Skippy Stoppedritalinatfourteen to come back in a year. Station Commanders do not like next action dates that are 365 days out. Not one bit.

In those situations common sense and the rules I thought out last year may help.

It's late, I'm tired. Have a good one.

It's working!

I went ahead and checked my Statcounter data (I usually have to make sure that my IP isn't being counted. If it was I'd have well over 500,000 hits) and my bid for more traffic has worked. I had no idea how many people thought Blogger was a good way to see boobs. I had no idea I could be found by searching for "tpless cars and girls". Aren't most cars usually tpless? I know we only have tp in the car when we're coming back from a supply run to the commissary. Seriously though, as disappointed I am that a horny mispelling (when you're searching use two hands to type) resulted in more traffic. Not half as disappointed as the dude must have been when he found that my car has a top.

And the girl was a real dog too.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In my spirit of finding new things to read, hopefully things that don't make me think back on every single person I've ever met and regret a whole lot of things, I updated some of my various reading lists with the things I find myself reading when I get the chance. If you're in the mood and don't do so already (I'm such a trailblazer linking to Oliver Willis! [I swear Mr. Willis, I didn't put you last because I'm a racist republican and you're back, it was just the last one I got to because it's on the bottoms of Instapundit's blogroll! Blame him!]), check them out. You might find thing I've plagiarized from them!

I really do want to read what continues to go on in military recruiting, USAREC in particular, but I just can't seem to find any new blogs run by military recruiters. This saddens me.

On second thought....

Oh, and I think this is my first three post day ever. It helps when you get started at 5:too damn early00.

And since this is a day of firsts, I figured I'd post my first link to something my sister had drawn.My sister was isan incredible artist. I never told her that when she was activly drawing because 1) I am in the Army and was stationed far away during the peak of her artistic endevour 2) I'm a jealous prick who is envious of the fact she has an artistic talent which was worthy of mucho praise. My talents are limited to tying cherry stems into knots and pecking keys on a keyboard slightly more accuratly than a chimpanzee. However her high falootin' life as a high speed ad exec in New York City whittles away at the time she had in college to pursue that talent. I do hope she find the time and the muse some day. I need some free artwork for my blog damnit. Of course, as our aunt and uncle show, it's never too late to start that art career.

Anyways, it's late, I'm tired. See y'all later

Inside Baseball

If you are a recruiter you have probably spent more than one night in a bar after getting out of the recruiting station. Lord knows I have. There were some nights when getting into that smoke-filled bar was like grabbing hold of a life preserver. The fact that the preferred watering hole for my recruiting station had cheap beer and was very pro-military only made it better. If you have done your time in recruiting without ever needing a night of just washing the stress away, one bottle at a time, you're a better person than I am and you have my respect.

There is a time and a place for it though. And I knew where it was. And I didn't do anything about it. As ashamed as I am to say it, I even encouraged the crossing of that line. As a result a price is being paid. The list of things that could have, and should have, been done is a long as the list of blatant warning signs that I either ignored, laughed off, or rationalized. If I'd been a better NCO or friend I'd have done something to stop what was inevitable if everyone stood back and watched. But I was not. And for that, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.

I know that "military recruiter blogging" seems to have been something which died out about a year ago. Seeing as how only one of the seven "current" blogs I link to has been updated in 2008. I don't know how many recruiters still drop by here, I do know it is a lot less than before. It doesn't bother me. I do this as much for the occasional clarification of my thoughts as I do for anything else. But if there are any recruiters reading this, dear god people, don't end your careers, marriage, family, or lives while you're in this shitty assignment.

My time in USAREC ended about three months ago. Since then I've lost weight, work out 5-6 times a week, I enjoy going to work and being in the Army. I leave next week for a month at Hunter-Liggett getting to train Soldiers. Not bullshit "training" like they want you to do with Future Soldiers, but honest-to-God, fully tactical enviroment training for men and women who will be going into harm's way sometime in the not-to-distant future. To those recruiters out there who are still stressing about that kid going to MEPS tomorrow. Who are smiling and dialing long past sanity trying to get that third grad made. Who are sweating out that nut in T1:
It will end, and things will get better
When you are finished with the New Recruiter Program, and those next two and a half years seem like they will take forever, and you have no idea how you'll deal with it because you're too shy, or don't talk well on the phone, or can't identify with those kids, one day it will end. You'll be at battalion and the incentives manager will be giving you your final point sheet and you'll be done. It is the sweetest day.

Do not do anything to jeopardize that. You're giving your fitness, your health, bits of your sanity to recruiting. The drain of the 3:30 drives to the outskirts of your territory to pick up a kid to take him to MEPS because the budget folks jacked up and don't have the money for the shuttle will take its toll. Do not let it beat you. And more importantly, do not take the chemical of your choice to make it better. It's not worth it. If you're a leader or a friend of someone who you think is going to do something self-destructivly stupid do something about it. For their sake do something about it. Take them aside and let them know what you're seeing. Direct them to get some help. Worst case scenario drive them to the CLT and tell the first sergeant, CO, or RT what is going on. Do something before someone else does.

On this date

I clicked over the Astrosdaily to read the recap of the painful loss they suffered last night. The first entry on their "On This Day" today summation referred to a day back in 1990 when the Astros took a doubleheader from the Cubs in Chicago thanks to Glenn Davis hitting three home runs and driving in nine during the twin bill. I distinctly remember that day because that Saturday was the first time that my mother, my sister, and I visited by dad's grave site together after he was buried. I remember getting out of the car, our blue Mercury Grand Marquis at the time, after hearing Milo Hamilton describe Davis' first home run of the day. I also remember that we had parked way far away from the grave site because we didn't know there was a road which ran a bit closer. It took us several minutes to find where we were supposed to go. We got better at it thanks to a near-by grave stone looking like a park bench. And, if you don't want people sitting on your grave, don't have a bench as a headstone.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Morning

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day. Last night Mrs. SFC B and I went to the birthday party for one of her coworker's daughter. Had a blast, although I was the second most anglo person there. Mrs. SFC B was the most. And before she wails about how I'm obviously "whiter" than her, I'd like to point out that I am the son of an immigrant while her family had been in the US for a couple generations on her mother's side and at least three on her father's. Take that gringa.

Anyways, a good time was had. I developed a lust for a Wii, I had a six pack of Shiner, and I talked with a guy in the IRR about what he needed to bring for an IRR Muster being held in Mesa next month. This Soldier has a disability rating from the VA and was curious what he needed to bring to the muster (answer: everything related to that).

I got up this morning around 6 and took Zoe out of her plush prison (the master bathroom in a previous life). I fed the cats and the dog and then chilled out with an Astros recap. BLUF: They won again!

About this time Zoe made it quite clear that she wanted to go outside. Since it is BEAUTIFUL I figured I'd grab my camera and see what we could see.

Here is Zoe all excited about getting to go outside. That or she's a hellhound.Zoe very quickly began to tear across creation in her usual self. I tried to get a picture of her facing the camera, but she had no intention of slowing down enough to allow that to happen.

Although she did take time to smell the flowers.

She also had to check her p-mail.
And then she sent some.

Cheap joke, I know. We could have walked some more, but I wasn't exactly wearing hiking shoes... or even shoes... so there was a limit to how far I could meander.
Yes. Those are flip-flops and jeans. No. I wasn't ashamed. Although it wasn't a very long walk, it had the desired effect. The dog peed and she was left too tired to be annoying for a short while.So a good morning has been had by all.

And, if I didn't know better, I'd say this was planned. Two days after I become emotionally involved in someone's autoblography they put up a post mentioning a need for sponsorship to attend a blog conference. While I'm not a Lear jet exec and the advertising proceeds from Detailed Recruiter currently stands a $0.00, and I can't begin to describe how badly I'd get beaten for a "SFC B Rules" tattoo on some other woman's boob, I can point out the "Donate" button and use it myself. Also, there is a link for the Blogher conference where a certain blogger can get their expenses paid. Maybe a ballot-box stuffing campaign will work as just as well as having a tata tattoo'd.

I like alliteration.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thanks Christina

I was originally introduced to Crystal over at Boobs, Injuries, and Dr. Pepper through a link on Lucrative Pain. How could I possibly resist something which contains "boob"? Since it wasn't something I linked to, I didn't check it frequently (when I link something I link it so that it's easier for me to read it regardless of the computer I'm using), but I'd click on it occasionally and read what was there.

When I clicked there today I found myself spending the next hour and a half completely engrossed.

Anyone who knows me well knows that, when I find something interesting to read, I will not stop until I'm done. I did not stop until I'd finished reading and rereading her Crazy Chronicles series.

It's not reading for the light-hearted. It's actually terrifyingly depressing. I've read a whole lot of things in my life, and that series is, simply, the best. I've had my experiences with the mental health profession and her recent experience brought up some old, somewhat unpleasant, memories. I originally started reading Crystal around 9am this morning and I finished reading it around 10:30. The rest of the day I've had that story in my head. I don't know if I'll ever lose it.

I'm not sure I want to.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm melting! I'm melting!

Well, not quite. Although according to some voice on the radio the heat index was upwards of 115. That reading was what was waiting for me when I hopped in to my car after work yesterday. Although it might have been pure hot outside, it was a comfortable 71 inside. And yes, I set it at 71 specifically because Senator Obama doesn't think I should be allowed to be any cooler than 72. I would have went cooler, thus wasting even more dinosaur juice, however I was wearing shorts and it would have been too chilly. I tried to make up for it though by driving faster. However those fiendishly clever German engineers designed the engine and transmission so that, even at rather rapid speeds, it keeps its MPG over 30. Damn them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

To much time

So, over the weekend I was reading an entry from Rachel Lucas on her opinions of Firefly. BLUF: she might have gotten knocked up by images of Captain Tightpants. While reading the comments on her post though I saw a link to Allecto who had written a slightly less praising review of the Firefly universe. BLUF: she might have gotten knocked up by images of Captain Tightpants, but only because he is a viscious woman hater who raped her repeatedly.
For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.
Obviously I'm terribly biased because of that whole "being a man thing", but if having to watch a TV show creates everlasting, emotionally scarring in you, maybe the problem is you. I don't even know why I'm wasting my time writing this, but I'm going to damnit.
The first scene opens in a war with Mal and Zoe. Zoe runs around calling Mal ‘sir’ and taking orders off him. I roll my eyes. Not a good start.
I knew I was in for a lot of unintentional comedy when I read this line. The scene to which the writer is referring is the opening scene of the pilot. In this scene Mal and Zoe are members of a rebel military force. Mal out ranks Zoe so Zoe calls him "sir". Techincally, Mal is an enlisted member, but maybe the Independents (not Independence as Allecto misstates) have a Marine-like structure where NCOs are referred to as "sir" by those they outrank. Now I'm sure Ms. Allecto could write 10 paragraphs about how she felt battered because a woman was subordinate to a man within a military, but Zoe isn't calling Mal "sir" in that because Joss Whedon gets off on seeing women call men honorifcs, but because they're in the damned military. Stripping lines of their context will be a repeated feature of Allecto's diatribe.
The next scene is set in the present. Mal, Jayne, and Zoe are floating about in space. They come into some danger. Mal gets all panicky. Zoe says, “This ship's been derelict for months. Why would they –” Mal replies, (in Chinese) “Shut up.” So in the very second scene of the very first episode, an episode written and directed by the great feminist Joss, a white man tells a black woman to ‘shut up’ for no apparent reason.
Um, Allecto, he didn't tell her to "shut-up" for "no apparent reason". In this scene the crew of Serenity was conducting an illegal salvage operation when a large cruiser from the government happened upon the scene unexpectedly. Mal was telling Zoe to "shut-up" because it was possible for the cruiser to detect them based on their communications. Now, "shut-up" is rude, but Allecto strips the scene of any semblance of context in the effort to prove her point that Jooss Whedon is a sexist racist.

How Allecto managed to keep from spontaneously combusting upon the introduction of Inara, the prostitute, is beyond me. Maybe only her hair caught on fire.

Being the sterotypical mysogynist I am, at this point, I was wondering when Allecto was going to cast aspersions real life hetrosexual relationships. In my "Guide to Hating Women" manual, which I got at my quarterly Knuckle-Draggers meeting, it tells me that lesbian feminists like nothing more than to insult nonlesbian relationships. Honestly, I do wish I was joking and that I didn't know that insults about heterosexual relations were imminent. I wish that a hardcore lesbian feminist wouldn't be so transparent and intellectually bankrupt as to need to attack relationships between men and women. Of course, as the old saying goes, if wishes were horses than beggars would ride. It takes Allecto about two paragraphs to go from editoralizing on a television show, to alledging that the producer of the show treats his wife as a prostitute.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joss uses his own wife in this way (SFC B as a prostitute). Expects her to clean up his emotional messes. Expects her to be there, eternally supportive, eternally subservient and grateful to him in all his manly glory. I hope the money is worth it, Mrs. Whedon.
I'm curious if the Whedon's are aware that a blogger has convertly installed a series of cameras into their household so as to observe them and eliminate all doubt as to the nature of their relationship. Unless of course she's just being libelous. Of course, she can't limit herself to making assumptions about the relationship of only one couple.
Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour.
I wonder if she ever stops to think about what it is about her that leads her to know only people in abusive relationships. Well, I guess we've established that Allecto doesn't know Carol Mosely Braun, Robert DeNiro, and William Cohen. Of course, the possibility that there is a perception bias since Allecto is, apparently, a very proud, vocal feminist who happens to also be a lesbian can't be ignored. I highly doubt that Allecto's circle of friends would include a large number of healthy heterosexual couples since, frankly, people natually tend to group with people like themselves.

See, I can make half-assed assumptions about people I've never met too!

Seriously though, reading through Allecto's various blogs reveals that a world where radial feminists controlled entertainment would be a truly horrible place. A place where the sweet nothingness of death would be a welcome release. I never actually believed the sterotype that feminists had no sense of humor until I spent a couple hours reading someone who claims to be a feminist. There really is no joy or humor in this woman's writing. Of course since she thinks sex between a man and a woman is always rape, that half of the world are morons, and that the half that are morons run the world, I can understand why she's be joyless and humorless.

By-the-by, can someone please explain to me what "patriarchal medicine" is?