Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Recruiting Stories 2009

As I've said before this has been a year of lackluster reporting on recruiting activities. With Mission Success being a near foregone conclusion based on the two month head start USAREC had for RY2009, even reporting on recruiting improprieties fell to the wayside. Whether it's because years of ethics training paid off, the surplus of applicants reduced the pressures to play in the dark gray, or recruiters just stopped saying stupid things to walk-ins I don't know.

These are in no particular order.

Mission Success.

Just go to the DoD news release site, get the monthly breakdown, and look towards the middle of the month. Each month you'll see the report of all branches meeting their goals. This is the only place you can go to see it since it's not like it was receiving the press coverage mission failure received back in 2005.

Recruiter Suicides.

Tragic. Four recruiters in nearly as many years from the same battalion. The only battalion with more than one suicide in that period. It resulted in a change of leadership at the battalion level and sensing sessions with a congressman. Brigades and Battalions throughout the command started mandating, and enforcing, leaves, days off, family functions, work hours, and all the things on the "SFC B Wishlist" I had when I'd be working on hour 4 of P1 at 2000h. Whether this commitment to Soldier welfare will extend past the days of 10% unemployment and mission success in the +100% range I don't know. I have my doubts, but it's a welcome change for those who wear the recruiting badge.

HRAPs murdered.

THe death of PVT William Long and and the serious injury of PVT Quinton Ezeagwula at the hands of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad outside a recruiting station in Little Rock was buried by the news of the murder of abortion doctor Dr. George Tiller. Since that day Muhammad has stated his motive for the attack was hatred of what Americans were doing to Muslims. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

In my mind this was simply the inevitable result of how some elements of the public view and treat recruiters. Recruiting stations are bombed and vandalized. Recruiting vehicles damaged. Recruiters threatened and attacked. For almost every city in the US the recruiting station is the community's only connection to the military. If you read the news feeds from papers across the country you see that, in towns across the country, the comings and goings at the local recruiting station are news. New company commanders, departing veteran recruiters getting interviewed. While that level of attention and support might not be the exact norm, for the most part recruiters are, at the very least, tolerated.

Does Code Pink protesting a USMC officer recruiting office mean they're going to shoot them? Of course not. They're in Berkley. They're not allowed to have guns there.

I kid.

Be vigilant out there recruiters. Practice basic Force Protection. Vary the routes and schedules, check for suspicious activities. Don't be a target.

Recruiter Deals with Recruit's Death.

In my opinion this is one of the most powerful stories about recruiting this year. Unfortunately the Salt Lake Tribune has taken the story down and archived it. A copy and paste version of it is available online, but it's on a counter-recruitment site and I'm not in the mood to give them the traffic when their only comment is suspecting it of being propaganda.

The recruiter is a new Soldier's first first line leader. You worry about them. Usually it's worries that they're going to do something stupid and fail to ship, but you do worry about them. You contact them to check the block in ARISS or Recruiter Zone, but also because it's what you do with your Soldiers. To lose one, especially one of the motivated ones who wanted nothing more to serve, would be crushing. I still check the casualty notices to see the names. If it's ever one of my recruits it will be a painful loss.

Well, those are stories as I see them. You had the recruiter doing wicked stupid with forged PC. That was about the only recruiting impropriety story I noticed make it to any level of news. But it didn't have the news-bit perfect moments of someone on tape giving a fake high school name to use. So it went no where.

Hope everyone has a great New Years Eve and makes it into 2010 safely.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Go F Yourself Continental

Continental Airlines, you can take your $20 baggage fee and pound sand.

I'm at IAH and headed towards security. I traveled light taking only my Samsonite carry-on. Now, this is the freaking standard rolling bag that like 97% of people who fly own. In a real plane you can get like three of these in an overhead bin (I was on an Embraer 145 for this flight so I knew the bag would need to be gate-checked). The guy ahead of my has a similar sized bag. As he walks up to the entrance to the security roped off area a pair of Continental employees step up and ask him to put his bag into the little "Does your bag fit here?" thingys. He places it there, and with the tiniest bit of effort, I'm talking he gives it the same push you'd have to give a bag to put it into an overhead bin, it goes right in.

The Continental person tells him he'll need to check it because it's too large.

I'm dumbfounded. I've seen, literally, thousands of people with the same bag do the same thing and never have a single issue. I look at my bag and realize there is no way I'll get mine through there. I got clothing for Christmas and it made my bag slightly larger than when I left Eau Claire. So I head to check my bag, not very happy but it's not a fight I have a chance of winning.


Twenty freaking dollars.

It all made sense to me the moment I saw that. The airline had people posted there to make anyone who could have possibly had a bag even a fraction of an inch too large for the little bin-guide to make them give $20 for each bag. I can't imagine how many people this screwed over. A family of four could easily see an extra $40-80 in fees for their trip.

I don't care if I need to fly through Denver and Vegas to get to Houston from Minneapolis. I'm flying Southwest.

Look! A Shark!

So, apparently airline security hopped on their water skis and decided to imitate the Fonz. I'm going to go ahead and state something which I thought was apparent, but maybe it wasn't. If enough people are willing to kill themselves in order to destroy an aircraft, eventually one will succeed. The couple inches of aluminum and insulation which protect the people in an aircraft from the below-freezing temperature and oxygen-deprived air will not withstand a truly dedicated assailant. As we have seen with Flight 93, The Shoe Bomber, and now the flight to Detroit, the best defense are the people at the point of attack.

Yes. It was a flight originating from Europe. But they're following the TSA's idiotic rules about what can and can not be brought on a flight. I can't say that I'm thrilled a guy whose name was on a watch list was able to board an international flight, while carrying an incendiary device. If we're going to inconvenience every 18-40 year old man with the name Abdul Mohammed, can someone at least give a pat down to the guy who is actually supposed to be checked out a little bit more?

I have no doubt that a lot of this is perception bias. Or at least I hope it is. It's been 8 years since 9-11. Us teeming masses only hear about the failures of the security apparatus. The times when someone manages to sneak something in they shouldn't have and tries to use it. Luckily they've been unsuccessful each time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

The second pot of coffee is brewing, the sausage is cooking and the yule cake is awaiting it's sugary icing. Christmas is upon the Momma SFC B house.

I hope that everyone has a merry Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Past Month

It's been almost a month since moving. Hasn't been the best of times, but it could have been worse. While driving to Eau Claire I managed to pulverize a canine. Don't know if it was a dog or a coyote or a wolf. It was pretty messed up (I had to stop and check to make sure I didn't kill someone's dog). Unfortunately, so was my car. I spent my first three weeks here in Wisconsin driving a rental, which made me appreciate The Ultimate Driving Machine all the more. Turns out that Eau Claire is not exactly known for having European (or Japanese) luxury vehicles, so the repair process took about twice as long as it should have. And now the turn signals and the windshield wipers don't seem to be working as before.

I've been on leave this whole time so I'm sporting a rather full goatee, but it will be gone Sunday evening. I have a lot of gray. A lot.

Eau Claire is quite... agricultural. Lots of dairy farms and industry to support it. It is largest city in the area, happily situated midway between Minneapolis/St. Paul and La Crosse, WI. I have not exactly found a lot to do. So I've been going and seeing the occasional movie. Or staying in and watching a movie.

A Law Abiding Citizen. Best of the movies I've seen lately. I saw it while I was in Phoenix, but towards the end so I'm lumping it into my "Things Seen While Transitioning" accumulation. I really liked it, up until the end. I can't help but feel that the ending of the movie was something tacked on because of test audience reactions. It felt too "neat" and it really cheapened the motivations of the title character. As I've said before, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for a lot, however it has to be believable within the confines of the reality the entertainer is presenting to me. I am willing to believe that a super-intelligent anti-hero would prepare and execute a decade-long plan for revenge. A revenge which requires several improbable things to work. I'm not willing to believe that he would leave his Achilles Heel completely unprotected, without a single system set-up to warn him of a possible security breach. This is a guy who built his own remote-control machine-gun and missile platform out of parts that were untraceable back to him. Yet he didn't have a security system on a store front in a bad part of town. Plus he missed out on the chance to take the sweetest of revenges by actually bringing down the whole system he loathed.

Ninja Assassin. It had everything the title promised. Ninjas and Assassins. And a lot of them. Over-the-top violence and a giant, titanic, epic deus ex machina. If I had seen it in the afternoon, at matinee prices (or if the theaters here had military discounts) I'd have liked it a lot more.

2012. I felt bad giving away important information about Law-Abiding Citizen. It was a good movie, even if it lost me at the end. I feel no such thing towards 2012. 2012 is horrible. It is a movie which insults you for every second of its 158 minute duration. That is 9480 seconds of being insulted. Neutrinos turning the Earth's core into a microwave? A tectonic event causing a 20,000 wall of water? The eruption of the volcano which is Yellowstone Park not being able to outrun an RV driving on improved-surface roads? World leaders, people who had spent the previous three years dooming billions of their citizens to death through their silence, were so overcome by the emotional, last second, pleas of The Operative from Serenity that they risked their entire operation, the whole reason they did what they did, because he said it was the right thing to do? Hell, some of those leaders were from governments with freaking elections between the start of their involvement in the plot of the movie (2010) and the conclusion. I'm expected to believe that they were all reelected? Hundreds of thousands of the most extremely wealthy people on Earth were involved in this, and no one could figure out why trillions of dollars were being spent on some dam in China? No one except some crackpot living in a tent in a National Park? The adorable family who nearly doomed 100,000 people to a watery death because of their colossal stupidity are welcomed into the fold instead of taken out back and shot. Why? Because one is a crappy author.

The worst thing about the movie wasn't the horrible science or physics. It wasn't the incredibly implausible plot or the impossible human reaction to it. It was that they killed the main character's ex-wife's boyfriend.

In the movie John Cusak's character is a self-centered boob who had no regard for his family. He wrote a book no one liked and he was so self-centered while writing the book it alienated his wife and kids. Even post-divorce he is a failure of a dad, forgetting important things about his children; including long-planned vacations together. He is, from all information presented, a loathsome human being. Of course his ex-wife, recovering from being married to such an awful person, finds love with a successful professional, a doctor, who is very devoted to her, is loved by her kids, and is an all-around decent guy.

How much does it have to suck to be the guy who has to die so John Cusak can get the girl?

This character spends the bulk of the movie saving everyone. And he is even denied the dignity of a noble death. He doesn't get killed by sacrificing himself to save the woman and kids he loves. He dies because he slips and falls.

I hated 2012.

Hancock. I just saw Hancock today. Great concept ruined by the whole "timeless love story from the Gods" bit. Seriously. How many people would have enjoyed a well-done movie about a man with superhero powers, who is hated by those who he saves and protects, and so he becomes an alcoholic? The director was given Charlize Theron and decided he just had to play with her. It took what could have been a great movie and made it terribly disappointing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Road

Well, I'm currently traveling to Eau Claire, WI and I've stopped for the night in Las Vegas, NM. Turns out there is more than one.

The departure move went really well. The packers showed up WAY earlier than expected and had everything packed and loaded in a few hours. We'll see how well everything traveled in a couple of days. I got a horrible night's sleep and didn't hit the road until late morning so I didn't get anywhere near as far on the first day as I'd have hoped. But progress was made, a few hundred miles chewed and I'm about 1/3 of my way to my new duty station.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Not Much to Say...

My new residence has been identified and the down payments maid. The movers are showing up in a couple of weeks. My route to Eau Claire has been selected. And there is jack and squat in the news about military recruiting. It is all local news outlet stories about local recruiting stations and companies and about how they're making mission like two months out. When you're the only organization hiring high school and college age people, I guess that is to be expected.

Halloween was uneventful. I went and saw Zombieland. Hilarious.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Search Complete

The search for a new place to live has been found. I found a low-cost two bedroom townhome which will be about a 5 minute drive from my office, or a nice 2-mile run. The hardest part was finding a place that allowed a pet. I was surprised by the number of places which were zero pet locations.

It was so very very cold. I'm going to hate moving in the middle of December.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

House Hunting

So I'm currently looking for a place in Eau Claire (or EC as the locals call it) and not having a lot of luck. The major apartment search websites, for instance, don't have listings for North Western Wisconsin. This leaves me having to rummage through Google looking for places advertised as for rent. The problem with this is, the places for rent tend to be places for rent right now. So me, trying to look almost two months out, am not having a lot of luck.

The first place I'd contacted which was actually advertising units for rent or lease that far out turned out to be subsidized housing with income caps, which I far exceeded. Of course there was NOTHING about that in their ad so it was something I had to find out after getting semi-excited about possibly finding a place.

El Paso is every bit as dull as I remember it. The unit I'm working for this time is a bit less organized than the ones who usually run these exercises. Or it might just be they do things differently and I'm not adapting. This is a blessing and a curse. It's nice because they've given my element a bit more of a free reign to set our schedule. It's problematic because we don't really have a left and right bound for what we're supposed to do during the events we support. As much fun as it might be to go WAY off the reservation and do things which cause massive ripple effects, it probably would cause more trouble than it's worth, and deprive a deploying unit of a training/ learning opportunity.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I can't believe that three years ago CAT IVs were a somewhat open category. The Guard has now lowered the max age to 35, and will only take Alphas.

In related news, ACORN COI is in the public eye, again. This time because they, allegedly, have a whole lot of employees volunteers strangers who occupy their offices and are in no way, shape, or form actually representive of aCOIrn, giving advice to a a couple representing themselves as a pimp and his prostitute, on how to go about hiding a bunch of underage hookers in a house purchased with aCOIrn's assistance, and then preventing the IRS from getting their cut.

Now, originally, when I saw the clips the first thing I thought of was Denver. Back between 2005 and 2007, private citizens and reporters going into recruiting stations and recording recruiters saying stupid stuff was perfectly fine. It was encouraged even. These were people doing blessed work, showcasing the lengths to which people had been driven to feed fresh blood into the Evil Bushco Oil Exploitation Machine. Four years ago this activity, which revealed an activity which wasn't felony, gets a high school journalism student pictured on He was able to parlay his fame into a position as the editor of CSU's newspaper two years later (he's the same person who penned the "Fuck Bush" editorial a couple of years back).

Today such investigative journalism is labeled "entrapment" by reporters on a major network.

Progress huh?

I guess that citizens exposing criminality in an organization nominally devoted to helping the poor and downtrodden isn't part of The Narrative.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The First Day

Eight years. I will let others talk about what this means in the big scheme of things. Today though is the first day in which everyone who is in the military joined after 9-11. With our eight year statutory commitments the 10th was the last day anyone who joined before the first plane struck the WTC would have been in the military. As of today every swinging Richard in the service has enlisted or reenlisted since 9-11.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Richard James Stadelberger

Three years ago I participated in Project 2996. This year I remembered to reapply for the project.

Richard James Stadelberger was one of the 87 employees of Fiduciary Trust who died on 9-11. He was a loving father, coached Little League baseball, taught, and even eight years later is still fondly remembered by the people who knew him. One of his former employees remembers him ending every day at the office by giving them his thanks for the effort they put in each and every day.

Almost eight years ago the lives of the families of nearly 3,000 innocent people were torn asunder in under three hours. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters never came home and left their families, and a nation, mourning. With the events of the day fading from memory and a whole generation of children who are growing up in a world where the Twin Towers never existed, it becomes more and more important to remember those who were lost as more than just a name on a website.

Behind those names are families with a hole in them. The hole has, hopefully, shrunk over the merciful passing of time, but like a scar it never goes away. Years, even decades, after the fact objects, scents, sounds, anything can bring something of the person back to your mind. A lost and forgotten letter rediscovered during a move, piece of jewelery left behind in an unopened drawer of a dresser, or a bottle of cologne or perfume which worked its way into the back of the bathroom cabinet. But, as I said three years ago, those feelings of loss are eventually replaced with fond memories of those who were lost.

It becomes more and more important, to me at least, to celebrate the lives the people we lost on 9-11 led, rather than mourn their passing. No one goes through life without touching the lives of others. For someone like Dick Stadelberger the friends of his children still remember talks with him. His former students from two decades before his death recall the importance he had in their lives as a teacher who cared. His employees recall him as the only boss they had who thanked them for their work. This was a life well-lived and one which many people would be grateful to have had.

It's an awful thing to be forgotten. May there never come a day when those 2,996 become nothing more than a number in a text book.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well that was dumb

A little over a week ago I'd mentioned the story about a couple of parents suing the Army for their daughter's release claiming the recruiter lied and the had the mother forge the father's signature on the parental consent.

Well, turns out the recruiter really was that dumb.

From the previous account the parents were supportive of their daughter enlisting, at least to the point of throwing a party celebrating it. So, why the hell have one parent forge the signature of another? Only thing I can think of is the recruiter forgot to get PC earlier, scheduled the kid for processing, and wound up needing to scramble when someone asked for PC which wasn't there. Mom's the only one available so he gets her to sign both.

That is so freaking dumb. It's not like this is 2005 and the Army is dying for people. This happened in 2009 when the Army was making mission in like Week 2 of the RCM. The parents were for the kid enlisting, wait the day to get the father to sign it. Taking the hit for having to cancel a processor would be far, far better to the re-opened investigation the recruiter is going to get.

There will come a time when unemployment isn't flirting with double digits and the recruiting command isn't putting people into a funnel two months in advance. Until that time comes though, sweet jeebus guys, put the "way it's done" away and do it the right freaking way. It's hard enough to explain doing this bone-headed crap when things suck. Doing it when things are good is just shooting yourself in the crotch.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hannibal King said it best...

His comment when he sees the two rotweillers pretty much sums up my feelings right now.

I have been in Arizona for a little over five years. Turns out I'm now the AGR Soldier with the longest time in the state. Guess what that means! It means I'm now on assignment notification! Yay!

Where to?




For what?

A high priority mobilization unit!


It's not the assignment itself, although Wisconsin in December is going to suck all kinds of suck after five years in Arizona. It's the whole "no way can I maintain two residences on Wisconsin BAH". Someone recently told me that God doesn't burden you with more than you can carry. I find myself curious if I was just handling things too well recently so now let's make it interesting.

Hannibal King: philosopher.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Radio Silence

Yet another month has come and gone w/ the military recruiting forces not only achieving their missions, but exceeding them by leaps and bounds. Here in Phoenix the rumor mill has it that the Phoenix Recruiting Battalion is filling the pipeline for November-December. FSR2 reservations, which were good for only 7 days when I recruited, are now good for almost 150. There is a waiting list to enlist.

As was popular during the 90's "It's the Economy, Stupid" pretty much covers the reason for this increase. Even the success and progress in Iraq, and Afghanistan not blowing itself up, wouldn't have resulted in so many people enlisting that the services need to cease recruiting for extended periods.

Even the recruiter-suicide story has left the first pages of Google News as commands establish limits to the hours recruiters spend in the office. There is going to be a harsh wake-up for some young recruiters out there when the economy turns around or if Afghanistan goes wicked sour. In the mean time though it's interesting to see a class of stories which never made it to those first few results.

My first years on the recruiting trail, recruiting events would be covered by major-market network affiliates, the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. Now, among the first hits for Army Recruiting News is The Queens Chronicle profiling the local recruiters in a recruiting station.

About the most interesting "bad" recruiting story I've found recently is one from St. Louis about an allegation that a recruiter convinced a mother to forge a signature to allow her 17 year old daughter to enlist. Of course two days later it's reported that the Army's counter to the "THEY LIED AND TRICKED MY DAUGHTER" is the whole "The parents threw a going-away party and invited the recruiter" defense.

Hopefully the good times will keep on rolling for the fleet of soon-to-be ring-knockers.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Well, there is absolutely no news about recruiting. All of the stories are about how the Army is benefiting from the recession. And that's about it. Speaking with the people I still know in USAREC the Army is currently working on its mission for November-December. Non-prior Service for the USAR are FSR2'd, given 150 day temporary reservations, and told to return to MEPS in October to swear in. Referral bonuses have dried up. Turns out that recruiting in 10% unemployment is easier than recruiting in 4%.

Imagine that.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sign of the Times

With the continued success of Army Recruiting, and the continued failure of Economic Stimulus, the Army has suspended its Referral Bonus Program effective yesterday. The Reserve component programs are still around, but I wouldn't be sand-bagging those referrals folks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Expected Outcome

As was expected, two towns in California had their anti-recruiter ordinances struck down. Turns out that the Federal Government takes things like the sole authority to raise an army kinda seriously.
Attorneys for the cities are reviewing the decision and deciding whether to appeal.
Meserve is also working with the city council, which is considering a new measure that could achieve the same goal of restricting military access to minors while skirting the judge's objections.
This is my favorite part of the whole story. Arcata and Eureka, please, appeal this. Nothing would make me happier than to see your two cities spend more time and money making this pointless statement. Last I heard California is in the middle of a pretty serious financial crisis. I suggest that the State Legislator might want to look into the city legal funds for Arcata and Eureka. Obviously there was some sort of error which gave those fund way too much money since they can afford to waste it on such quiotix tasks like "attemtping to subvert the Constitution".

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My mother recently gave me the second most precious thing she has ever given to me. Late last year she sent me a package containing my dad's letters to his parents when he was in Marine Corps Boot Camp, and then Vietnam. I've been reading them and rereading them since. It's very strange to read what your father was thinking when he went through similar training that you yourself went through nearly 25 years later. This is a letter he wrote the day before he headed off for another tour.
6 April 69

Dear Mom & Dad.
Tomorrow we fly to Danang and my 5 months starts. I probably won't be home till around Sept 12th at the latest no you won't have to worry about me after the first of the month.
I forgot my address book on the dresser so could you please send it in the first package or letter. I didn't mail my uniforms from here, I'll mail it from Nam.
I haven't taken my film yet but if I do I'll send you the stuff to be developed. There isn't much more to write about so I'll stop.

Finding out my dad would also end letters with "I'm out of stuff to write" is kinda spooky.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nice try

A couple of towns in California passed city ordinances barring military recruiters from contacting minors. This is, of course, news to the Federal Government given that whole "supreme law of the land" and the "Constitutional right to raise an Army" so they're taking these two cities to court.

The other recruiting-related story I read recently (and yes, you'd think that the assassination of a recruiting assistant by an Islamic convert outside a recruiting station would generate more than one day of blurbs, but you'd be wrong) was an editorial from OhMyGov! discussing the Recruiter Incentive Pay program. Oh man, RIP... how I didn't get to use you as much as I wanted to. I shared my concerns about RIP back when it first came out. And while my greatest fear, reducing pay for non-performers, didn't come around, it's still a program that was probably not needed. That the GAO found the Army has done a poor job of tracking and justifying RIP doesn't shock me in the least.

Monday, June 01, 2009


I know, two posts in a month... on the same day. What the heck is wrong with me?

News about recruiting has been pretty light. There has been no repeat of the "Army enlisting Felons" stories of years past. Instead the DoD puts out the monthly press release saying that all the services have exceeded their missions and they are ignored.

The first bit of recruiting news covers something I don't think I'd seen discussed in the news at all. The reactions of the recruiter who enlisted a Soldier who is killed in combat. I've been fortunate that none of the Soldiers I've enlisted have died. The only Soldier I know from recruiting who has been killed in combat was SSG West. However a Soldier recruited in my station did die while at their duty station, and a station in my recruiting company was where SPC Lori Piestewa enlisted into the Army. They had a memorial to her in their old recruiting station. Not sure if it moved to the new one.

Two HRAPs being shot, and one being killed, is going to be overshadowed by the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in KS. Dr. Tiller was a lightening rod who was involved in one of the most controversial medical practices in our nation. His murder outside his church by some nutjob is a natural magnet for media attention. I had come to accept that violence against recruiters is perfectly acceptable though. After all, they're only recruiters. The murderer of this Soldier was motivated by the exact same hatred and close-mindedness that motivated Tiller's murderer. And while Tiller's death has elicited euologies from everyone who can get near a microphone, a Soldier being gunned down in his hometown drive-by style by a guy who just wanted to kill a Soldier will be unremarked upon by the same people ignoring the continued success of Army Recruiting.


I worked at a grocery store back in Sugar Land, TX the year before I went AGR. Thanks to this experience I consider myself qualified to use the self-checkout aisles at grocery stores. Based on this qualification I have some advice for anyone choosing to use these wonders of technology.

If you have a full cart, use the regular checkout lanes. I know that you think you'll be able to get through quicker, but you're going to fail. Normally I'm happy enough to let you fail on your own, but your failure has now reduced the number of available self-checkout machines, which is going to slow everyone else down.

Don't go through the self-checkout if you have bought more than two bags worth of loose fruits and or vegetables. They don't scan and you don't know the 4-digit number to input. It is going to take you five minutes to look through the "identify by picture" menu on the register to find it. And that's assuming that you can tell the difference between the three different green peppers they have.

They have two different types of registers. There are the ones with the rotating bagging area which can keep like six different bags on the scales. There are also the ones which can only hold three. Do no take a cart with a bunch of items into the three bag area. You will run out of room, take off a bag to make room, and cause the machine to stop because it doesn't know you're a moron who couldn't see that the three bags weren't going to be enough space for your mammoth purchases. It thinks you might be trying to steal and it's trying to stop you from doing that. Wait for one of the larger bagging area machines to open up. You're doing yourself a favor.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Buttony sadness

Okay, in case anyone notices that "Donate" button on the right, that is not something which is going to me. As the handful of people reading this know I play Everquest 2. Sadly, one of the people whom I played with, Talons, passed away this past weekend. His wife and one of his nephews is also a member of the guild I'm in and are long-serving members. Talons' passing was unexpected and it has left many folks saddened and missing someone many of us have never met.

Talons was an animal lover with a soft spot for dogs, and his family had benefited from the good deeds of the Shriners Hospital. I had suggested the possibility of the guild pitching in and making a donation in his memory to one, or both, of those organizations. To facilitate that I volunteered my PayPal account.

It will only be up for a short while.

Back to your infrequent recruiting-related ramblings.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mission Reduction

I'm not sure how credible how this is, but the author is usually dead on. The Army has reduced its enlistment mission from 78,000 to 65,000. Needless to say the only reference to this is a mention in I doubt I'll be seeing that "Army recruiting felons" story this year. I'm kind of sad really. Those always made for a good read.

As SSG K had mentioned a while ago, since things are rough in the civilian world, the military, and the Army specifically, is flourishing as a result. People who has considered the Army their "last option" are finding that the option is saying "Thanks, but no thanks. I've got plenty of people more qualified than you looking to enlist." I don't envy the recruiters currently working in this environment at all. More power to them. Enjoy the mission success. With this reduction and the influx of qualified people, I do hope that recruiters and USAREC are taking the opportunity to focus on pushing people into the commissioned officer side of the house. While the enlistment and retention numbers are rocking I know that the Army Reserve, at least, is still hurting for junior officers. I do hope that the recruiting companies are taking advantage of these tough times to push those college-educated folks with a clean background and a qualifying ASVAB to do an OCS packet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Well, I'm back in El Paso for a while. Seems I've settled in to a pretty comfortable routine of headed out here to support mission rehersal exercises for deploying units. For those curious about what exactly is being done out here which requires the support of a 42A former recruiter, here it is.

Today is the end of March and the beginning of the third quarter. I find myself curious if the "army recruiting felons" story will reappear this year. I really hope it does because I'd like to see what the felony waiver numbers look this year.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Totally not off topic

This is from SFC K in the comments.

Totally off topic, but here goes anyway.

I had the good fortune of having a 2 week break from recruiting shortly after Christmas.

When I came back, it was like the whole world had changed.

People actually want to join the Army. My station could actually make mission off walk-ins alone.

I hate it.

Not that I like P-1, or walking up to random strangers to pester them; but there was a certain purity of spirit to the recruiting game.

It just pisses me off, now, knowing that all these people who are walking in the door now are the same lazy pinko hippie f*cks who've been calling me names in the street and hanging up on me for the last 2 years.

But now they need jobs.

I say "F*ck you." If you don't have a diploma, or if you need a waiver, or act like your hot sh*t; too bad. You should have joined the Army last year, when we needed you. When I get a call-in, I tell them where the station is located. That's it. No attempt at prequal, no offer to pick them up. They can come to the station, and I will disqualify them at my leisure. I guess you could call it, "The Army Recruiter Strikes Back."

On the other hand, it has made recruiting in the High Schools a genuine pleasure. All the teachers who looked down their noses at me and my DEPS for the last year are worried about their jobs. The students are much more attentive. Economic reality is starting to sink in. My Future Soldiers are really hustling for referrals, too.

High School is the only place I prospect now. I want to get them while they are still qualified.

Just a note to anyone out there who reads this, and is not an Army Recruiter:

Don't look for sympathy from me. Empathy, sure, but not sympathy.

It is a shame that you lost your job; but I made a decision to do a hard job, because I knew that it would provide a steady (not huge, but steady) income to my family.

It is a shame that you are losing your house, but I made a decision not to participate in a vastly overvalued market that was using inadequate financial tools. I want to own a home, and I know I can afford one, but you guys are the ones who f*cked up the housing market by buying sh*t you couldn't afford, with credit terms you didn't bother to read.

So, I know it sucks for you, looking for a job with your GED and Felony convictions, but don't ask me for money, and don't expect me to get excited about putting you in my Army.

Now for my sympathy bit. I really do feel for some of my Future Soldiers, especially the ones still in High School. Some of them are hustling for referrals for the simple reason that they need to earn money to help their families. Some of them have had to move multiple times due to foreclosure. One girl didn't even have a good pair of PT shoes. Who can't buy their own kid shoes?

It really does convince me that I am doing the right thing. These kids need the Army, more than I did when I joined.

I hope they ship.
That is the most on-topic thing on my blog in about two months man and thanks for posting it. Hope you don't mind it being put out on the front page, but, really, I'm nearly tapped on what to talk about.

The lack of foresight SFC K bemoans when he talks about people buying homes they couldn't afford is the same as the people who I'd see at job fairs back when I was recruiting. We'd run into hundreds of people who would discuss the Army as some sort of "safety net" for them in employment. Regardless of their qualifications they'd have this fantasy that, if worse came to worse, the Army would always take them.


I keep in touch with my former recruiting partners and they mention things similar to SFC K's experience. Maybe not quite as good, but things are still better than this time last year. All those people who figured that the Army would always need bodies have just ran into the horrible-for-them situation of an Army no longer as hurting as it was for people. Those folks who were relying on waivers (and a lot of people do) will see them dry up. Whether the waivers themselves stop, or the recruiters no longer will run them because they don't need to. I'll bet that we'll start seeing a lot more high school guidance counselors returning recruiter phone calls and offering additional visitation days. Some schools will start to lower their restrictions on recruiters when they visit schools. Colleges will also probably start to become far more accomodating as the labor pool they hope to shunt their customers in to will have dried up.

There is a flip side to this as well. The Army has spent years allowing in people who it might previously would not have considered. Those Soldiers will likely find themselves being squeezed out as time comes. Same goes for Soldiers who have been enrolled in Weight Control and other flagging actions. Behavior and failings which were tolerated when there was a need for any warm body will suddenly be found a lot less tolerable when units are no longer understrength. This will be an issue for the Reserve forces in particular.

SFC K, thanks for sharing that. Appreciated hearing what's going on in the station level of recruiting.