16 August 2010

Busy weekends

I had Mom down last weekend - her visit to the current Lovely Location means she has, with the exception of Iraq, dropped by and visited everywhere I've been stationed.  Kinda cool, that. 

This past weekend, I did the quick flight home for Dad's 60th birthday.  I'd make more "old geezer" jokes, but my definition of "old" has changed in the past ten years... funny how that happens.

29 July 2010

First, the promised rattlesnake pic:

Righto.  Snakety snake snake.

I had a drawn-out discussion with one of my buddies here post snake sighting.

You should have, he chimed in, whacked it.  Good snakes are dead snakes.

Now, I will upfront say that whacking the snake was really not an option unless my buddy and I wanted to chase it around and run over it with the truck.  We had just finished an excessive walk in excessive heat - I don't think either one of us would have been up to getting out of the vehicle and moving nimbly.  Also, being as we're in New Jersey, we were woefully unarmed and did not even have a Big Stick with us.

(the mental image of a couple of exhausted and footsore soldiers chasing a snake, smacking at it with heavy rucksacks is kinda amusing, though)

However, the Official Bad Dog Position is as follows - we whack nothing without a reason.

Things we will/do whack include (but are not limited to): things we're going to eat; invasive species; critters that are actually damaging property; critters that are actively threatening our people or our pets; terrorists; and people who are threatening our immediate well-being but do not qualify as terrorists.

Scary animals, alas, are not on the list.  And make no mistake - I find snakes scary.  Rattlesnakes at least have some courtesy in their habits, and given a good warning buuzzzz, I will give them space to go on doing snakey things. I like to think those snakey things involve eating vermin and, possibly, biting bad New Jersey drivers.

I would not shoot a bear merely for possessing the ability to eat me, and so it seems rude to whack a snake simply for being what it is.  However, lest I classify myself as fuzzy-headed, I will offer the caveat that bears in the garage, mountain lions on the back porch and snakes in the woodpile lose their immunity if they don't go on their merry way once notified their presence is unwelcome.

28 July 2010

The bitter end

The really boring adventure that is ANCOC raws to a close. Not that it hasn't been great, but i can't wait to get back to my real job.

I hurt this morning. I grabbed one of the boys yesterday afternoon, loaded about 40 pounds of crap in a ruck, and went for an eight-mile trudge. It was hot, but neither the distance nor the weight was the problem. The problem, folks, is that apparently rucking in the Pine Barrens means rucking in SAND. Your Author is feeling a wee bit old and creaky this morning.

in really NEAT things from that outing...i saw a rattlesnake. It was crossing the road as we left. I shall post the camera phone pic a bit later. I'd only recently discovered that there ARE rattlesnakes in this fine state, and was kinda thrilled to see one.

27 July 2010


Six years ago, I passed through this same training organization to be reclassified as a civil affairs type. The Army was pouring us into Iraq, so our group of trainees was large. They divided us into eight or ten separate "classrooms." At the end of the class, the students with the highest averages, it was decided, would compete to be the "Distinguished Honor Graduate." They decided to have a "board."

Boards, in general, consist of subject matter experts quizzing you on whatever the relevent topic might be. Usually it's a healthy portion of random Army trivia for promotion and Soldier of the Quarter  boards.

So there was SGT Abby, with all of four months in the Army.
Maybe, I suggested to my instructor, someone ELSE should do this board thing, since i really didn't know very much about the Army.

Nonsense, he replied. This was a CA board, to evaluate our performance at CA school. It would be CA FOCUSED.

Liar. it was entirely Army-trivia-focused. If the Marne Corps had not provided me with excellent "military bearing," it would have been awful. As it was, the board members merely looked perplexed by the presence of someone who couldn't SPELL "Army."

Let's now return to the pesent, and the conclusion of THIS course.

You four, explained the instructor, have the highest averages in the class. So, tomorrow at 1030, you'll go before a board...

Oddy, one does not seem to be allowed to opt out of these "opportunities." We know that, because we asked.

22 July 2010

Making Progress

ANCOC involves two written tests. We just finished the second one. Now, one more week of doing...something and I can go back to my Soldiers. I keep telling myself that after this, it's a long time before I have to do any more NCOES.

14 July 2010

Getting eddicated agin

So the leadership sez to me, a couple months back, Abby - we've got an ANCOC (advanced non-commissioned officer's course) seat available, and you're first in line for it.

And I sez to the leadership, I'm not eligible for promotion again for another year and half, I don't really need to go right now, and I have a lot to do, and-

And sez the leadership, shut up and get thee to ANCOC.

So, because I am an obediant sort, if a little bit contrary, I find myself enrolled in the course.  Sigh.  They're right - one's professional education must be a priority.  And, although I'm just barely into it, the course actually seems pretty interesting.  Plenty of theory, not so much memorize-and-regurgitate.  Clever and engaging instructor, bright and interested students.

We shall see.  Fascinating tidbits from today include the fact that the biosphere contains muskrats, and pestilence sucks.

07 July 2010

Morning routine

Our previous first sergeant liked the gym, and set up us on a pretty good schedule.  Whenever we're not doing something useful, we all head over at 0800 and do gymish things for about an hour.

I hate PT, and all things gym-related, but I really couldn't start out the Abby Regime by announcing that henceforth we'd start work at 0700 in order to be at the bar by 1430.  Wouldn't be seemly.  So I stuck with the previous schedule.

I didn't mind the gym when it was cold.  And when the weather's nice, I just stick my head in, count my wayward sheep, and head outside for a long, slow job (and occasionally a nap under a tree).

But in case y'all didn't notice, it's hotter than the seventh hub of Hell here right now.  Yesterday I ran a little over three miles and seriously thought about flopping over and dying.  So today I had 40 quality minutes on the treadmill.

Treadmills are, for the record, really designed for people with better balance and coordination than your author.  Injuries narrowly avoided by timely use of the handrails?  Two.

03 July 2010

I wanted an eyepatch

But since I'm spending the Fourth in the People's Republic of New Jersey, where I'm fairly certain anything more dangerous than a sparkler is illegal, I don't think there's a whole lot of fireworks-oriented tomfoolery in the offing.

The downside of spending so much time in such a male-dominated environment (I am one of three chicks in the battalion, and the only one in my company) is that one ends up engaging in a lot of dude activities. Long story short, it seems there's some sort of Ultimate Fighting thing on TV tonight, and much effort and many phone calls have gone into the best place to watch said Ultimate Fighting.

At least there will be beer.

02 July 2010

It's been a while

But you know what?  It's been kinda nice to disappear on an undeclared hiatus because life has been good and I've been busy rather than because things are dark.

I'm still training troops at the place that sounds like Court Licks.  Actually, I'm not doing much training - circumstances demanded our real first sergeant go take over another company, and so I'm flailing around trying to fill his shoes.  Challenging, but in a good way. 

Writing here is something I'm going to try to get back in the habit of doing.  For a while I just didn't have anything to say, or nothing worth putting into words.  Recently, though, the writing impulse has come back.

So we'll see.  I'm going to try to share some thoughts - and maybe a little griping.  I find I miss the interaction with the Bad Dog Faithful.

Y'all have a great 4th of July.  We've actually got a holiday with no units in our pipeline, so I think I may go try to find something dangerous and irresponsible to do with fireworks.

06 April 2010

No rest

for the wicked.  My guys and I taught through the weekend, and finished with two groups of Soldier yesterday. 

Now I'm actually headed to the office, and am looking forward to remind the Boss what he said about my team working through Easter, and a compensatory four-day weekend...

29 March 2010

Rainy Monday

Could be worse.  Could be the snow we had in February.

Should be an alright week.  We'll be out in the woods, but instead of running our own lanes, we're just helping out another group.  Upside - plenty of time to sit around and read.  Downside - I don't think we get artillery simulators.

28 March 2010

Oh, wow

Time flies when you're...having fun?

It's been a blur of teaching classes, running ranges and pushing units through scenario-based lanes. 

Which is less exciting than the I've-been-out-of-the-county-on-a-Top-Secret mission option as to the extended unannounced hiatus, but also more accurate.

25 February 2010

A note

After significant experience, I probably wouldn't have recommended New Jersey as a vacation destination in the summer.

At this point, I feel further qualified to disrecommend it in the winter, too.  Although a nice coating of snow manages to make it look clean (which is nice), Aspen it ain't.

The snow we've had has made some things challenging (run a shoot-while-moving pistol range in knee-deep snow?), tonight's wind is downright insulting.

23 February 2010

New career options...

for my Navy sisters!  Looks like the Big Blue Team will be opening submarine billets to women.  Now, I do have to admit that serving on a submarine is one of those things I don't think you could convince me to do with a cattle prod and a suitcase full of unmarked twenties...but to each their own.

It takes a special kind of strange individual to find the Silent Service appealing, but I'm pleased to hear that women who are qualified and inclined to do those jobs will have the opportunity.

12 February 2010

Change 397

After some head-scratching and discussion in North Carolina, it was decided I didn't really have to leave after all.  So I drove back up I95, and I've returned to my previous duties (or whatever they're evolving into).

I should get to spend a couple of brisk days this weekend out working on ranges, which will be a nice change from some of the classroom stuff I've been doing.

07 February 2010

Because the party never ends...

I'm packing my trash and loading up the Wrangler again.

The Army finally got around to producing some promotion orders for me - as of 1 January, I became Sergeant First Class Abby.  The downside of that is the vacancy-based promotion system.  I got promoted into a specific slot in a specific unit, and they don't seem too keen on letting me stay in the job I'm in.  So...I'm off to outprocess in North Carolina, and then go meet the new outfit.

Sigh.  Just when you think you've got a job and a place to offload your stuff.

As a side note - I've had the Wrangler since summer of 06.  It didn't get driven for a year (other than little runs just to fire it up) while I was deployed.  Thus far, I have 59,000+ miles on it.  Regular oil changes and tire rotations, and it's running like a clock.  A gas hog and not the most comfortable ride for all the miles I travel, but surprisingly reliable.  In case you're considering one.

06 February 2010

%$#%^# New Jersey

The snow, ladies and gentlemen, is knee-deep on Your Author.  I have some pictures from our beer-and-smokes run this morning, and if I can ever find my camera cord, I'll share them. 

In fun news, I did get to use the shovel I keep on the Jeep to help dig a guy out this morning. 

03 February 2010

The gay thing

The whole brouhaha about Don't Ask, Don't Tell's possibly pending demise...

LabRat hit it out of the park on this one, just for the record.

But as far as I'm concerned...

I've been doing this whole "in uniform" thing for a while.  I've had a couple of mildly-awkward encounters with gals who...played for the other team (no more challenging to square away than mildly-awkward encounters with military dudes, by the way).  I had an incredibly amusing run-in with a gay Navy Corpsman while I was in the Marine Corps, who, after overhearing me ask a video store employee if they had Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, asked if I was "a member of the tribe."  (No, just a big fan of heartwarming drag-queen movies)

But the thing that sticks in my mind is...someone I knew at one point.  A person significantly senior to me.  Hell, senior to a whole lot of us.  Nearing the end of a long and very distinguished career.  Now, the prevailing wisdom was that said senior servicemember was probably queer as a three-dollar bill.  I don't know that - but it was the community assumption.  The thing that struck me as unfair was that this individual, who had a "roommate" of significant permanance, it seemed, went to all the social events alone.

I get that a lot of military folks are a little creeped-out by the idea of the gay pride stereotype leering at them from the next bunk over, but I don't think that's probably the sort of thing that's going to happen a whole lot.  Hell, women are outnumbered eight zillion to one, and there aren't that many cases of excessively creepy man-on-woman leering.

The thing that I find offensive about DADT is the lying and ommission that it forces.  When we're in an operational position where we've realized that a servicemember's personal support structure is vital to coping with the stresses that are piled on during endless deployments, it doesn't seem right to me to make some servicemembers pretend they don't have personal lives.

Ever gotten a Dear John (or Jane) letter?  Imagine if you'd gotten it in a combat zone eight months into a 14-month deployment.  Now imagine you couldn't tell anybody.

Ever been to a promotion ceremony where someone's husband put her Chief Petty Officer rank on her collar?  A retirement where the retiree's wife got flowers?  A unit barbecue where PFC Umptyfratz shows up with the latest tacky chick he's found?  The normal events of military life in which we involve our servicemembers' loved ones in order to create the sense of community that is so very important when times get hard?

A welcome-home ceremony at the airport where the wives run out and hug their husbands, the husbands run out to hug their wives, the parents run out to hug their kids?  And maybe...somewhere in the back of the group, a man walks up and delivers the warmest, happiest, most-socially-acceptable-handshake ever, to another man?

If gay people really are the threat to our national defense that some make them out to be, then our policy should be to never let them serve.  But since we do, and since they're in our ranks, it is the decent and human and correct thing to do to not make them lie about it.

02 February 2010

Strange Company

I checked into the Air Force lodge.  Of course, it's nicer in almost every way than the Army verson.  Although a little smaller, the rooms are just a little more...civilized.  Example - the Army has the no-steal type of hotel hangars.  And the ones with trouser clips are lowest bidder - so much so that the clips don't actually hold trousers.  You put them on, and they fall down.

The Air Force provides normal hangars, and the trouser clips work.  A little thing, but much appreciated.

Also, I haven't found any dead bugs in this room yet.

However...apparently the Air Force somehow knew I was suffering from not having my dog around.  Feeling like the spaces I've been occupying are kinda cold, and a little lonely.  So they did the best they could, and provided me with the World's Most Interactive Refrigerator.

It's a basic dorm-size fridge, pretty standard in hotels/motels.  But it burbles and hums and gurgles.  Sometimes it's quiet, but mostly it's like having a perky little pan of water bubbling away on the stove.

It might be pathetic, but I kinda like it.  I think I may even name it.

01 February 2010


In my new, slightly chilly (compared to Georgia or North Carolina) temporary home.

Speaking of home, now is the time when I check out of the creepy billeting I was stuck in for the weekend and go badger the logding people into putting me into one of the decent locations reserved for our group.  The Army being the Army, of course, they didn't reserve that block of rooms until the first, regardless of those of us who were slated to arrive here before that date.

When is the last time I've pointed out how much I love dragging all my stuff around? 

28 January 2010

And I'm off

Headed for the mid-Atlantic.  Yesterday's move was one of those things that reminds that there are some things in life I either need to start paying other people to do, or allow more time for.  I returned the UHAUL at 1700 (90 minutes before deadline), but I was (and remain) whupped.

Oh well, 900 miles to go with nothing to do except take motrin. 

27 January 2010


I know I am a winner because I managed to single-handedly wrestle a queen sized mattress and box spring into the back of a UHAUL.  Now, if I can get the ratbastardsunuvabitch desk in there, I'm going to floating on such a cloud of awesome that I might just buy a lottery ticket.

UPDATE: The desk wasn't bad.  Taking the two pieces of the recliner apart?  That was bad.

25 January 2010


Fort Bragg to Georgia...8 hours on the windy road in a vehicle that's like driving a frickin' kite.

Tomorrow I re-pack all my earthly possesions, setting aside a couple duffles of stuff to throw in the Jeep.  Wednesday I pick up a UHAUL vehicle, put everything not in the Jeep into that, and empty it out at a storage unit.  Then I return the UHAUL and go crash at Cousin R's place.

Thursday morning I get back in my trusty Jeep and head north to the military installation where I'll be working.  And, folks, about the only nice thing I can say about that place (and it's one the joys of which I've shared with you in the past) is that at least I won't be unemployed.

Well, that and I'm going to work there, not use it as a jumping off point for the Middle East. 

21 January 2010

Another wild day

in the training-for-the-new-job pipeline.  I think we've all given each other classes now, and although we had a fairly long day on weapons training, I think we may be doing more of that today.

Just as soon as this position gets interesting, or at least when I get my dog back, I should have something less stupifyingly dull to post about.

19 January 2010

Watching the world go by

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne lifted off last week to ride to the rescue in Haiti, and my comrades and I stood below and watched the plane climb past us.

The voters in Massachusetts went to the polls today and made a pretty clear statement that while they were all about change, they were maybe not so sure about the current change in Washington.

There are times when one feels as though the things one is doing are vitally important, and times when, at least from my perspective, all one can do is switch on CNN and watch interesting things happen.  It's been one of those weeks.

12 January 2010

I think I may be becoming the enemy

I've been tap-tap-tapping away since my return to Fort Bragg.  I'm taking an old lesson plan on an enduring subject in our field, and updating it with new and better doctrinal terms and concepts, as well as massaging its companion slideshow into something a little less...bright blue with yellow writing.

I'm hoping that after our little working group gets a couple of them approved, Higher's attention to our output will drift.  Then I can start inserting pictures of Jack into every class.

I can see it it now - Developing Measures of Effectiveness (one of the two most dull classes we've got to deal with; everyone is ignoring this one and I assume it will stay ignored until the day before our deadline):

If the average local dog is currently eating one stick per day, but after your project he's eating three, does that indicate your canine dental outreach program is a success?  Discuss among yourselves.

07 January 2010

Back out of the snow

for now, that is.

After a fairly harrowing drive back to North Carolina, I find myself yet again combing through tedious civil affairs lesson plans, cutting out old terms and inserting newer and better buzzwords.

It's a wild and crazy job, I tell ya.

Tonight, though, instead of sitting quietly in my room, contemplating the best ways to use MS PowerPoint to explain the doctrine Nation Assistance, I'm headed to the bar to catch the Texas/Alabama game.