Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Itself

Well, Merry Christmas to my three readers (Hi Mom!). My mom's husband is making us sausage and a Christmas breakfast cake. Luckily I'm now 32 years old so I'm far more patient, because if you'd told 10 year old SFC B and 6 year old SFC B's Sister that they couldn't open presents until after breakfast was MADE then EATEN, well, it would not have been a very pleasant sight.


Okay, I'm better now.
This year has been one of extremes. I've had some really, incredibly, excitingly fun and joyous moments. A trip to Walt Disney World with family and friend could not have gone better if I was named SFC D(isney). I've managed to be assigned to a unit staffed by some of the most competent professionals I've ever had to work with, and a command team that is proactive and takes readiness seriously, and I'm the NCOIC for, probably, the smartest trio of FTUS in the command.

I've also had to deal with a whole lot gut-wrenchingly painful moments. The divorce and some financial woes contributed to some bouts of depression during the year. The rejections of the fairer sex are always a Balko-eqsue nut-punch, but after the first couple, well, you suck it up, drive on, and learn from the failures.

Life is what it is, and being back in Texas for a couple of days, surrounded by the people who have always supported and encouraged me, it's tough to get too down.

My quintessential Christmas memory is from when I was about 6 years old. We were living in Pennsylvania and it was almost midnight on Christmas Eve, about to transition to Christmas. Like all kids that age I was certain I had heard Santa. I snuck downstairs to try and spot him, but I realized my dad must have scared him away because he was down there looking through the presents Santa left. Shock and Awe! Dad kept me from seeing Santa! Oh well, next year. In consolation for missing out on Santa I was bribed to return to bed by getting to open a present. I did. It was good. It was the former of the two gifts I will mention shortly.

That wasn't the memory to which I was referring.

This was the Christmas where I got two, two(!) Transformers! Hound and Jazz. I was so psyched. This was 1984. There could be nothing better for an elementary school-age boy than a Transformer. Think "Red Rider BB Gun"-level of awesome. I remember my dad having a problem getting Hound to transform properly because there was a hitch in the mechanism which made his head pop out of the hood. It took the combined guy-power of us to figure out what was causing the issue (or, he knew and he just wanted the make me feel like I was helping solve a near-impossible to fix problem, I don't know). This morning is forever etched into my mind because of a photograph. It is a picture of my dad on the couch we had at the time. He is in a brown terry-cloth robe and there is visible wrapping paper on the floor in front of him. He is unshaven and he is playing with working with Jazz. I really should have scanned and uploaded it, but I didn't because I'm an idiot.

Anyways, that is my Christmas memory. A snowy morning in a house I barely remember playing with a couple of well built (both of them lasted for a few years of playground-level abuse) toys, that years later can still trigger details about a man who died 20 years ago.

So, I'm relaxing on the couch at my mom's, cup of coffee in hand, listening to a CD that has played every Christmas for the better part of the past decade an my mom calling around to wish folks a Merry Christmas.

For those still reading, Merry Christmas. I hope you're spending it with folks you care about, and that it is a safe, happy time for you and your loved ones.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Early Christmas Present

Well, I got an unexpected message today.

Mr. Hanging is now SSG Hanging.

When I checked my email this morning I had this message waiting for me.
I am very pleased that I joined the Army. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have learned so much in the last 5 years. I will be staying in until I reach retirement. I am so glad you helped me get in and if it were not for your assistance I would not be the honorable man I am today.
There was more to it than that, but that stuff isn't the topic of this post so I'm excluding it. My blog, my rules!

I can't think of something I'd have rather gotten this year than that message. Well, something I'd have rather gotten which I had a legitimate chance of getting.

At the macro level it's all numbers. Just another GA, HA, SA, PS, or whatever. Some of them make it, some of them don't. But they are people who became Soldiers, and all of them went on to make an impact. Some of them made a better impact than others, but they were all important. No matter what else happens in my career, no matter what mistakes I make or successes I have, I'm able to take comfort in the knowledge that, with at least one person, I've managed to help the next generation of the Army.

Anyways, this has been a year of ups and downs. Have had a lot of craptacular moments and a lot of moments of joy. It's nice to be able to end the year on a good note.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Figuratively and literally.

It has warmed up to the low teens here in lovely Eau Claire. This is a vast improvement over the sub zero temperatures that greeted me every morning last week.

Work has been going well. I do wish that higher wouldn't task us to complete a bunch of SRPs before the end of a quarter where units all complete BA on the same weekend. It is a scheduling nightmare. It is a suspense that can't actually be met given the travel involved, personnel required, and the availability of those personnel. Instead I basically just say "punt it" and get the SRPs done as soon as I can. Talking with my peers at other battalions I'm not the only one with these issues and reaching the same solution.

Last weekend we got nearly 2 feet of snow in a 24 hour period. I wound up being snowed in as the city was unable to plow all but the most major streets in the city. Luckily I was brilliant and had shopped for food and drink before the snow. Unfortunately I was also idiotic and forgot to get foot for the cats. They survived though. I'm sure that angers SSG Rage. Of course everything angers SSG Rage so who really cares?

The biggest recruiting-related story in the past month was an attempt by a recent Islamic convert to try and blow up a recruiting station in the Baltimore area. The military's continued success in recruiting and retention remains unremarked upon by the press. However a story about mental issues in the ranks can't avoid making an oblique reference to the recruiting failures of 2005-07.

My Christmas plans have me traveling back to Sugar Land. Hopefully the trip isn't as snow-delayed as last month. And hopefully the company during the trip is a much fun.