Friday, September 14, 2007

Popped

September 15, 1997 to September 15, 2007.

A lot has happened in 10 years.

On September 12th, 1997 I received a letter from the registrar at the University of Tennessee stating that I had completed all requirements to receive a Bachelors of Science Degree in Social Work. I took that letter (it was a Friday) to the Army ROTC Department which confirmed my Commissioning on Monday, September 15th, 1997. That began my Army career. I spent the first four months in the Army working at the ROTC department awaiting my Transportation Officers' Basic Course. I worked for a great boss, Mark Grazdan. I reported to my class on January 6th, and spent 4+ months there until I went back to Tennessee, picked up Jane Anne and moved to Colorado. Jane Anne and I were so naive about what we were supposed to do to buy a house that we walked up to a real estate agent and said that we would like to buy a house in the next 3 weeks. We drove into Colorado on June 2nd and found and closed on our house on June 19th, 1998.

We spent three great years in Colorado, had a great time in our church (Heart of the Springs Baptist Church), and had our first baby. We really miss our friends from Colorado. My brother moved to Colorado after we did and met and married his wife there as well. They had their first child a few (4) months after Jonathan was born. When we left in August 2001, we were really enjoying our time in the Army. We were looking forward to seeing where we would end up next. The next 6 months was spent in Virginia where I spent about 1/2 the time at our house at Fort Lee and Fort Eustis and Kansas. Jane Anne moved back to Tennessee because I was heading to Korea.

So Korea was a lot of fun. I felt like I was really doing my job as a transporter. I left for Korea on April 29th, 2002 and spent a year living about 12-13 miles from the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone). It was great. Jane Anne was able to fly over there about 4 months after I got there. She spent 2 weeks with me and then I flew home around Christmas and spent 2 weeks in Knoxville. I left to go back to Korea and a few week later Jane Anne called me to tell me that we were going to have a second baby. I flew back home for good (from Korea at least) on April 24th, 2003. the next day we celebrated Jonathan's second Birthday. We sold Jane Anne's Saturn and drove to Washington with a pregnant wife, a two year old and two dogs.

We drove into Washington on May 10th, 2003. We found a townhouse in Puyallup, WA to rent. I was about to sign a year lease when Jane Anne and I decided to just sign the 6 month lease. We were so happy about that. The place was not the best. But, we lived just a few miles from a church that we found the second week we were in Washington. Bethany was an amazing place to attend church. Absolutely perfect. The friends we met and made there will last a lifetime. In September of 2003, David was born. Born isn't really an accurate description. He was taken through a C Section. If it wasn't for our friends at Bethany, I don't know what we would have done to get through that time. Then we moved onto Fort Lewis and lived there for about a year. Then Thomas was born. Through this time, I took command and had a great time for almost three years. On October 19th 2004, I and 227 of my Soldiers to Iraq for a year. Jane Anne led the Family Readiness Group for the entire time I was in command. The families enjoyed great support because of her hard work. I was pretty happy to fly back with my company on October 6th, 2005. When the plane's wheels set down at McChord Air Force Base in Washington, I almost lost it. A year worth of stress and worry washed away immediately on that cloudy Sunday morning.

I gave up command on March 2nd 2007. I hated doing it. I loved commanding. I loved the Soldiers. I loved being there.

On March 15th, I put my paperwork in to resign my commission effective September 15th, 2007.


Saturday is my last day in the Army. In ten years, I have lived in five states and set foot in six different countries. We met and still hold close plenty of friends in those places. But now it is time for the next chapter . I don't regret joining the Army and I don't regret popping smoke and getting out. I cannot even begin to imagine what my life would be like if we had missed all of the great things that have happened because I was in the Army. Thanks Uncle Sam.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Finally

This article gave me chills.

I've waited and waited for football season to begin and its finally here. Compare and contrast for a moment.

I work in Albany, Oregon. that is exactly 10.6 miles from the stadium at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. This is arguably a major university. They have a football team (I think.) And they played a game there Thursday evening. No buzz. No parties. Nothing. This is a Division I school. I actually had to ask someone if there was really a game. Their answer was, "Yeah- I think I'll go. I'm sure there are tickets left."

Can you IMAGINE that happening in Tuscaloosa, or Knoxville, or Auburn, or Starkville, or wherever Georgia plays? Would anyone over the age of 5 in Baton Rouge not know if there was a game on Saturday?

I am nervous and excited. Tennessee beat the snot out of California last year when Cal was predicted to walk all over them. This year it is the same prediction- most people are guessing Cal to win by almost 2 touchdowns. It’s probably a fair guess. I hope it’s just not accurate.

19 hours until toe meets leather. I've been waiting for this for 9 months. Cal tomorrow. Two weeks until Florida. Seven weeks until Alabama. Georgia is in there somewhere. And there are 11 weeks until Vanderbilt. That happens to be the day that JA is due with Elisabeth.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Target



New career begins Monday

Sunday, July 22, 2007

10 Happy Years

We've been married 10 happy years. And, yes, looking at Jane Anne's Blog , you see that it is our 12th anniversary. Here's the deal- its because of Football. I mean- The Army. Maybe they are related.

We were married July 22, 1995. That year Tennessee beat Alabama.
October 1996- Tennessee beat Alabama.
October 1997- Tennessee beat Alabama.
October 1998- Tennessee beat Alabama.
October 1999- Tennessee beat Alabama.
October 2000- Tennessee beat Alabama.
October 2001- Tennessee becomes the first team to beat Alabama more than six years in a row.
April 2002- I started my year long tour in Korea. Tennessee loses to Alabama in October.
April 2003- I return from Korea. Tennessee beats Alabama in October that year.
October 2004- Tennessee beats Alabama.
October 2005- I deploy to Iraq a week before the Tennessee Alabama game- Tennessee loses to Alabama.
October 2006- I return from Iraq. Tennessee beats Alabama.

There is irrefutable evidence that when I am in the USA, Tennessee beats Alabama.


Really- we have had a great 12 years. I cannot believe that it has gone by so quickly. I look at the pictures that Jane Anne put on her blog and realize that I look a little older now. If I had the last 12 years to do all over again, I would- They have been great. Now, as JA and I decided earlier tonight, we start Chapter 2 in our lives.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Done

I picked up my discharge certificate today as I signed out of the Army. I am actually still in the Army until September 15th. That will make 10 years and 1 day in the Army. I'm sad to leave the friends I have made in the Army. I am sad to leave the job and the feeling that what I do makes a difference, if not in the world, in the lives if the Soldiers working with me. Its been a great 10 years and I will miss the people. I sure as heck won't miss the overseas duty. I didn't do too much special to mark the occassion of the last time (or nearly, according to my wife) that I will put on my uniform. I packed up the rest of the uniforms still in my closet along with boots, t-shirts, PT stuff, and socks that I will not wear again. So my bedroom and dresser is, for the first time in 10 years, free of army stuff. I have a lot more drawer space now. Already, leaving the Army is paying off :)

I look forward to starting my next career with Target.

We put an offer on a house in Lebanon, Oregon today. A small town with a good high school football team. We are excited about the house and the move. Just a couple weeks before we actually get there. Hopefully things work out with the house- we are looking forward to living there.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Phobias

A friend posted about phobias. It reminded me that I have ALWAYS been freaked out by broken bones. Body parts bending in unnatural ways just turns my stomach. Seriously. There is some alien-type movie where at the end one of the characters you didn't know was an alien transforms back into his alien form and his knees bend backwards and he runs off into the desert. I nearly got physically ill at that part.

THE FOLLOWING MAY BE SLIGHTLY GRAPHIC

That being said- picking Jonathan up off the stairs after his fall and wrapping my hand around his floppity arm took a LOT of will power. I knew it needed to be stabilized in order avoid any muscle/ nerve/ artery damage so I had to hold the break in my hand as I carried him over and try to calm him down. The break is about 2-3 inches above his wrist through both bones (ulna and radius). In his panic, he kept trying to move his wrist. I'm feeling ill thinking about it. It was three hours before they brutally set it straight (bones don't just fall back into place- it is a very forceful process.) I never got used to seeing it lying there broken.

So, my phobia is Ruptophobia.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Little Kids

Should never, ever, ever get broken bones. Especially if they are my little kids. Ever.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Proud and Frustrated

David turns 4 in September. There are still a little over 13 years before he could join the military, but he did something last night that proved to me that he may hold out a LONG time under interrogation if captured.

There are two baths upstairs in our house. Last night, I ran both of them and Jonathan got in one and I was planning on putting David and Thomas in the other. AFter David (my Pokey Little Puppy) finally made his way up the stairs, he decided that he wanted to take a bath in the tub Jonathan was in. He refused to get in the tub with Thomas (they play very well together, and he told me downstairs he wanted to get in the tub I was putting him in.) I picked him up and put him in, but he wouldn't sit down. The last few days he has developed a habit of saying "No!" to us. I explained to him that I would spank him if he didn't sit down. I counted to three. I spanked him almost hard enough to stun an ant. Not a big ant, but a little tiny one. He screamed and cried- no red mark on his little butt. I said, "Now David, I am going to spank you again and harder if you do not sit down." With tears flowing from his cheeks, he looked me right in the eyes and said, "No! I want to take a bath in the other tub." I counted to three and gave another swat, this time a little harder. He really had the tears flowing. He bit his three year old lip, cried and AGAIN told me he was NOT sitting down. I was amazed. Well, in for a pinch, in for a pound. Jane Anne, I am sure, was thinking, "choose your battles a little wiser, Seth." But it was too late. I went through it one more time. "David, if you want me to stop spanking you, just sit down." no answer, still standing. "David, I don't want to spank you, all you have to do is sit." No answer. I put my hand on his arm to turn him around, and he keeps staring me in the eyes, and turns around.

Yes, I do have a heart. And it broke about then.

I spanked him one more time, one swat, a bit harder this time. He screamed and cried. I picked him up and held him, told him I loved him, and told him he has to sit down in the bathtub.

"No!" he says through gritted teeth and sobs and tears. I am amazed.

After a couple minutes, I put him back in the tub and he refuses to sit down. I then decide I am going to wash him off standing up and put him in bed. I tell him to just stand there while I wash him off and...

... he sits down.

Next time, I will choose my battles with more wisdom.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

6th Grade Computer Class

When I was in the sixth grade, we took a computer class in school. I am pretty sure that this class consisted solely of playing the game "Oregon Trail". I should have paid attention a little better. When I was in Korea, the Battalion Commander's driver was from Oregon. I remember telling him that I had never met anyone from Oregon and didn't really know where it was. Well, in the next month I will find out pretty well where it is.

We are moving. I have a great job lined up with Target Corporation. They are moving me to Albany, Oregon (or somewhere fairly close to there.) JA and I really wanted to be in the southeast, but it doesn't seem to be working out that way.

These last few weeks I have driven JA crazy, I am sure. When I was in Texas, I remembered what I love about the Army. I remembered all f the good things and got excited about it all over again. That, coupled with turning down jobs that I knew I would not enjoy seemed to point pretty handily toward staying in the Army. Then I interviewed with Target. I thought that after the first interview I would decide that it wasn't for me and turn off the process. I was interested after the first interview. Then I flew to Minneapolis and did a final round of interviews. It went well. So, they made an offer and tomorrow I will most likely accept it.

One of the good things about Target is that they like you to move around. I believe between three and five years we will move again. During that move, I plan on reversing the Oregon Trail and make my way back across the country.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ultra sound quotes

Technician: "I don't see anything but girl parts."
Momma and Daddy: no words but tears from both

LATER
Daddy: "Does this mean we're going to get a lot of pink crap?"

EVEN LATER
Jonathan after being told the baby is a girl: "Ohhhhh Noooooooooooo!"
David at the same time: "a girlul! That's just what I wanted!"

The Smoke is Clearing... Its Time to Make a Move

Tough decisions on the horizon

Went through a series of interviews with a Fortune 500 on Friday. It went very well. I am flying to their corporate HQ this coming Thursday for the final interview. In the mean time, I will conduct an online personality assessment and an interview with a psychologist in order to determine my leadership style (compliments of the corporation.) Sounds like fun. In the interviews this past Friday, I did as little as ever to prepare for them. And yet, maybe because of the experience I have being interviewed, it went very well. Now I am trying to decide whether to take the job if offered. I (as yet) do not know where they would like to place me, but it will not be in the Pacific Northwest.

Again- I ask the same question as earlier- "At what cost?"

What is the cost of me taking this job? What are the risks I am assuming? What are the benefits? Since I like what I have done in the Army, why not do another 10 years? A lot of factors go into this decision.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thankful Thursdays



Jane Anne does this on Thursdays and I figured its probably not a bad idea.

What I am thankful for:
1) Army friends. I had the privilege of promoting yet another one of my former lieutenants to captain today. I also got to see a lot of the soldiers i worked with when I was a commander. It was good to see them all.

2) Little kids. Finally had our first T-Ball game tonight. The kids were great! It was lots of fun. Afterwards, I chased my boys and a couple other random kids around the playground. I don't know if it looks odd for a full grown man to be jumping off the jungle gym trying to "get" kids, but it was fun. Oh- and I am definitely not as young as I used to be.

3) Having no clue about the future. I have no idea where I will be living 30 days from now. And I am ok with that. I don't know whom I will be working for. But I do know that I will be taken care of, my family will follow me, and we will have fun together.

4) My two year old that cannot make the "TR" sound, but instead replaces it with the "F" sound. And the kid talks about my "truck" ALL THE TIME! "Daddy truck" or "I wanna Truck". Its just too funny to be embarrassed about it.

5) Ultrasounds. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Unbelievable

Unbelievable. Sinply unbelievable. Really. I try to remain neutral in national politics.

I don't know if Harry Reid's comments calling the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff "incompetent" is politically motivated or if his career in politics has made him numb to the effects making comments like that has on Soldiers.

General Peter Pace is the highest ranking military officer in the United States Military. He is the uniformed figurehead of all of the military. He came to Iraq when I was there (probably several times) and I saw him speak. Very motivational and influential. He is not the commander in charge of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is someone else.

The point is: we look up to him. As an officer, he is the pinnacle; he has served in the Marine Corps since 1968. I looked at Harry Reid's Biography and General Pace's biography and see that there is one striking similarity in the two men. They both have a degree from George Washington University. I guess they both have spent their careers drawing pay from the government in one way or another.

My point is this: President Bush is an elected official. Criticize him if you want. It's your right, Mr. Reid. But the man who volunteered to lead men in combat and has spent the last 40 years doing that very valiantly, leave that man alone. If you say that we have the best and strongest military in the world, how do you say that the leader of that military is incompetent? I know it's popular to criticize the war, especially for a democrat and increasingly so for republicans, but General Pace is NOT in charge of the war. He does NOT run the war. He is THE best that the United States Military has produced. And you Mr. Reid, you call him incompetent? That, to me, is unbelievable.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Her Sense of Humor

I love my truck. Seriously. I mean- I sit around and think about it. I see other GMC Sierras and look forward to seeing mine again. That reminds me, I still want to name it. What are the rules for naming a truck? Is it like your rifle where it has to be a girls name? I digress. I think the word "vanity" describes my adoration for my truck. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago when I was waxing it, the song "You're so Vain" kept running through my head. Yesterday as I was talking to JA on the phone, the conversation naturally turned to my truck. I had caught a ride with someone on the way to the airport and my truck sat lonely in front of my house. I said, "How's my truck? Everything OK with it? No dents or scratches?" Of course, I was setting her up to say something like, "Oh yeah, The baseball went through the windshield" or, "Well, I was going to wait until you got home to tell you..." but instead there was pure silence on the line. Then she said, "You.. but... uh... you brought your truck to the airport." My heart stopped. She laughed. I'm gullible.

Thoughts about Army Stuff

I learned these past two weeks that achieving a higher rank definitely does not make you any wiser. I have seen some incredibly unintelligent officers here.




Sign of the times: In the past two weeks I have seen two people that I know have been in the Army more than 5 years that have not been to either Iraq or Afghanistan. When you have fought in a war, you wear your combat patch on your right shoulder. This makes it easy to tell who has and who hasn't deployed. Eight years ago, it was an anomaly to see someone with a combat patch. Now, those without stand out.



On Killing.
There is a book out there about the psychology and psychological effect of killing people in war. I think it is called "On Killing". I haven't read it and probably won't. But I know that if you see the person you must kill as a person and human, it is very difficult to kill them. You have to have something else. A lieutenant serving in the Philippines during WWII found what "it" is. His name was Henry Lee. Here is a poem he wrote to Mars, the god of war.

“Prayer Before Battle (To Mars)”
(December 8, 1941)
Before thine ancient altar, God of War,
Forlorn, afraid, alone, I kneel to pray.
The gentle shepherd whom I would adore,
Faced by thy blazing plaything, slips away.
And I am drained of faith — alone — alone.
Who now needs faith to face thy outthrust sword,
Bereft of hope, turned to pagan to the bone.
I kneel to thee and hail thee as my Lord.
From such a God as thee, I ask not life,
My life is forfeited, the hour is late.
Thou need not swerve the bullet, dull the knife.
I ask but strength to ride the wave of fate.
And one thing more — to validate this strife,
And my own sacrifice — teach me to hate.



What I struggle with is: What's the cost of that hate?

*********EDIT***********
It's 2 AM and I couldn't sleep. Thinking about this question has kept me awake. I looked around more for LT Henry Lee on the internet. Here is what he wrote 3 years to the day after he wrote the above words. He had spent much of those three words in a prison camp.

“Three Years After”
(December 8, 1944)

“Teach me to hate,” I prayed — for I was young,
And fear was in my heart, and faith had fled.
“Teach me to hate! for hate is strength,” I said
“A staff to lean on.” Thus my challenge flung
Into the thunder of the clouds that hung
Cloaking with terror all the days ahead —
“Teach me to hate — the world I loved is dead;
Who would survive must learn a savage tongue.”

And I have learned — and paid in days that ran
To bitter schooling. Love was lost in pains,
Hunger replaced the beauty in life’s plan,
Honor and virtue vanished with the rains
And faith in God dissolved with faith in man.
I have my hate! But nothing else remains




And what about LT Henry Lee? I found the rest of the story online...

As it happened, there was no escape for Henry Lee. In late December 1944, he was put on a transport ship and sent to Japan as slave labor. Before leaving, he hastily dug a hole under a prison hut and buried his journal of poems, hoping that someday in the future — as a free soldier in a victorious American army — he might come back and retrieve it. En route to Japan, an American plane caught sight of the unmarked boat and unleashed a hail of bombs, sending the transport to the bottom of the ocean — and the young Poet of Bataan along with it. Lee was thirty years old.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I feel like a contradiction

Confidence: assurance; freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities
Humility:a disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride


Someime in the last few months, I have changed. I know that it did not happen at an exact point in time. But I know the exact reason for it. The love and support of my wife. She humbles me with unconditional love. Because of this, I have the ultimate confidence. I can feel the difference.

Here is what happened. I was listening to one of the greatest song writers ever (Robert Earl Keen) yesterday and heard a song I had not heard before. It is called "And Then Came Lo Mein". I know- just the title gives you chills as to the depth of the song. The song is about... well, here are a few of the verses. The first two are sung by him and the third is by his wife.

There were lean times, they were tough
There were mean times they were rough
And the good times didn't outweigh the bad
I was sad you were bitter
But you were no quitter
When nothin' was all that we had

Then came lo mein and going insane
At the Chinese cafe way downtown
I was steamed I was fried but you stood by my life
When I had my nervous breakdown

There were noodles galore
All over the floor
And hot mustard sauce everywhere
But I held your hand til you calmed down again
And picked out the rice in your hair



I guess the point is that I listened to the song and was touched by the love she had for him and that she held on to him through the toughest time of his life. Then I thought that that type of love is rare and only found in songs.

Then I realized how wrong I was. I'm married to that woman in the song.

Thank You JA.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Texas

So I am sitting 74.48 miles from where I was born and 77.73 miles from the apartment My parents, brother and I lived in after I left the hospital. I have little desire to head south to see the place.

Funny Quote: "... you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas" Davey Crockett said that in Memphis the night before he left for Texas. Apparently he thought he had a good chance of being elected governor and failed to be elected. I believe that when the hero of the Alamo arrived here, he found that he was next door to that fiery place he told his former constituents from the great state of Tennessee to go. I am convinced that I don't want to live here. Being born here was enough.

Another round of interviews on Friday the 22nd. I hope I like this job. No. I hope that I love it. Just a reminder that I have to love the job that I do. I already love what I do now, so I need to find something better.

More later...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Jobs

Received a decent offer from Nashville. Turned it down. At the end of touring their plant during my onsite interview, I realized I would be exceptionally bored working there and there was an exceptionally small chance that I would actually get any job satisfaction out of it. I really WANTED it to work out because I really WANTED to live in Nashville. I didn't really want to work or that company though. Rethinking the manufacturing thing. I told Matt once that it would be great and I can see myself doing that- but I am having trouble visualizing it, especially after being in the plant.

More to come on the other opportunities.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Texas- hours 1-13

I've been in Texas 13 hours now. I just arrived at my hotel 12 minutes ago.

It is just before 3 AM and I am here. That is- after 1 cancelled flight, bumped off stand-by on one flight, one bus ride that ended in a flat tire, and (after me and a few otehr guys reloaded the luggage on another bus) anotehr 3 hour bus ride that finally got me here.

There are a lot of mosquitos in Texas.

I shouldn't be blogging when I am this tired, but I will. I learned something about myself today. When people act in stupid ways and it affects (effects?) me, my blood boils. LIke today- my friendly gate agent from American Airlines decided that it would be better to not tell the truth about what was going on. Instead, he hands me a ticket with a seat assignment and tells me I was on the plane. Unfortunately, as I would find out when I tried to board the plane with that ticket, the ticket was for a bus. That was around 5:30. The bus that this wonderful ticket agent said would be there at 6 actually departed at 9. and then broke down. The point is, his unwillingness to be upfront about the situation made me almost uncontrollably angry. But- when the bus blew a tire out, the anger melted away. Joe, the bus driver, was able to get the bus off the interstate and to a grocery store. So I went in and bought a sandwich and a 6-pack of Shiner Bock (its a Texas brewed beer) and shared both with my newfound friends on the bus.

I am meeting my ride onto Fort Hood in 4 hours. I need to sleep for 3 of them.

More tomorrow.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Job Hunt update

So, the few people who read this noticed that I deleted a previous post. I decided that it sounded far too negative. Do I feel a little screwed by heading to Fort Hood for 2 weeks? Yes. Could I have avoided it? Yes. But. I am still in the Army and still serving and getting paid (well) for it. If the Army wants to send me to Zimbabwe for the last days that I am in, I will do it. I must reiterate that I have enjoyed every job and place I have served in the Army. If I had it to do over again, I would; exactly the same. I chose the Army and did so because I wanted to serve in the military and feel like I was in the military. If I had to choose a different branch of service, it would be the Marine Corps.

That being said...

I had another interview this morning with a fairly large company based in Minnesota. I had originally looked at working with this company, but couldn't get the right door to open when I needed it to. Suddenly this morning, this company called me and asked if I was still interested. Absolutely. Can I conduct a phone interview on Monday? No, sorry I will be in on an exercise. But I am available all day today. So I conducted a phone interview this morning. The HR person said that they will call me on Wednesday to set up a second interview for me to come there. Awesome.

I am still waiting for an offer from the Nashville company. I was frustrated earlier this week because I was told they would bring an offer to me early on in the week. Now they are still working on it. I see that it is best that the offer is delayed. I read that proper etiquite says that my time to accept or turn down their offer is directly proportionate to the amount of time it takes them to make an offer after the second interview. Since it will be more than 2 weeks after I receive their offer, I plan to ask for a couple weeks to decide; which opens my time up for interviews that had to be delayed because of my trip to Fort Hood.

So doors open and close and sometimes they just seem to be closing.

More from Fort Hood- I am bringing the computer and I'll have access.

Enviroblog

Today I did at least 6 things that will be illegal in most of the United States within 15 years.

I own a gas guzzling V8 truck(1). I washed it(2) for the second time in one week(3). I let the soap suds drain into the storm drain(4) that I am sure feeds right into a wetland where countless mosquitos will now die a very clean death. I noticed that last week's oil based spray that makes the wheels look nice and shiny was still on my driveway because it made such a nice rainbow pattern as it ran down the storm drain (5). Then I re-applied the shiny oil based stuff so it stays nice and shiny(6). I thought about adding wasting gas to my list by letting the engine run as I listened to the radio while I dried the truck. But I didn't want to abuse the environment.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Craving

Jane Anne is pregnant.
I benefit from her cravings.

Tonight at 10:30, I ate a dozen chicken wings, two mini moon pies, and two cokes. I felt like I was in college again.

She ate a few wings.


I'm going to be 350 before its all over

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Happened in Atlanta

It went well. I interviewed with 6 companies on Friday; only one initially I was not very interested in working with. I was probably more honest about my desire to work with them than I should have been. So 5 of the 6 wanted me to come to their offices for second interviews in the coming weeks. I turned one of the five down because I cannot see myself gaining a lot of job satisfaction from doing the work they wanted me to do. Am I being vague enough? It is on purpose.

I discovered that the ability to speak inteligently and engage someone in conversation are two of the most important traits to have while interviewing. A sentence in our interview prepapration handout said that companies don't always hire the most qualified person; they often hire the person they like the most. I will see how far my engaging smile will carry me.

On Monday I will be in Nashville for my second interview with one of the companies. I would really like to have this job. Its been difficult for me to determine whether this Nashville company is my number one or the one in Alabama. I don't believe that I will be able to rank a 1 and 2 until I see the work area and the digits on the right side of the dollar sign. Both of these companies I can see myself working for for quite a while.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Odd fact about me: Never once in my 32 (33 on Monday) years have I ever turned in a library book on time. Not once. Ever. Never ever. I may go check one out and turn it back in an hour later just to break the streak.

EDIT:
I need to expound on how bad it really is. I had a fairly large research paper due in class sometime around my junior year at UT. I started early (three days prior). I checked out about 10 books from the library. At the time, there were certain books that you could check out on a three day basis, but if you were late turning them in, it was 25 cents a day. I think I was about half and half between these and the 5 cents per day books (that's how I remember books- by how much they cost me when I turn them in.) I (miraculously) completed my research and the subsequent paper a day early. I STILL had time to turn the books in before they were late. I walked by the library daily to go to class. The books were turned in 3 weeks later. I believe I paid about 40 bucks.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hotlanta

The jury is still out as to whether or not I will be willing to travel extensively for my next career. I'm blogging from Denver on a 4 hour layover. What a waste of time. Being in Denver (at least the airport) reminded me of how much I liked being in Colorado. What a great place! The weather is absolutely beautiful and the moutains gorgeous! Ok- Enough of that.

JA and I had a conversation last night that calmed my nerves quite a bit about the 7 interviews I will have on Friday. She convinced me that I should ... imagine this... trust God! So, I am getting out of the Army because of several reasons, bnut the heaviest of them has to do with spending more time with my family. I am looking at jobs based on location, pay, and potential job satisfaction. My worry has been: what if the only offers for subsequent interviews I get are not jobs I want? Do I accept the job and use it to get another job in the future? What if it is for less than my minimal requirements for salary? JA explainded that its not such a big deal. I have a job that I really enjoy right now and for very good money. If the job doesn't meet the minimal standards- don't take it.

To me, that felt like she was saying, "its ok to be a failure..." but what she was ACTUALLY saying was "If you don't get the job you want, then it isn't in God's plan. Don't worry. It could be worse." She went on to explain that I am voluntarily looking for a job and if I don't find one, I keep the one I have. There are many other people out there that are looking for jobs out of necessity.

With that bt of sage advice from my loving and supportive wife, I enter the next 72 hours much more relaxed and confident.

and tired. I left the house at 3:25 this morning. Coffee prevented me from sleeping between Seatac and Denver. I plan on sleeping well tonight.

More later from Hotlanta- where the Playas play and the Ballers ball....

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Life Expectancy

Through my completely unscientific research, I have determined that the life expectancy of a McDonald's Happy Meal toy is just about 7 days. I have come to this because I am cleaning out my garage and finding toy upon toy that is broken and discarded. Not that toys from legitimate toy stores don't break as well, but these are toys that the kids don't necessarily ask for and they are only played with for a few days.

McDonalds claims that there are 40 million customers a day. I have not been able to find even an estimate of how many happy meals it serves per month or year... but imagine- each toy that I have thrown away... I mean, set aside for recycling is between 10 and 16 cubic inches. How many cubic feet of crap is being fed into the landfills every week/ month/ or year from McDonalds? Do the math- if only 1 out of every 40 customers in McDonalds daily orders a happy meal and there are 40 million customers every day, then that makes 5787 cubic feet of trash every day.

I don't know- that seems like a lot.

Just a rant- I don't plan to do anything about it...

Friday, May 04, 2007

In My Hand

In my hand are five copies of my orders telling me that I am out of the Army as of 15 September 2007; 10 years to the day after I entered the Army. I have enough leave to where I will be signing out in July to move to...

who knows?

Now that the hurdle of getting out of the Army is (mostly) over, I need to find a job.

The things that JA and I are taking into serious consideration:

Location
Benefits (health insurance)
Company reputation
Advancement opportunity
Pay



We still have not decided where we want to live. Its difficult. We LOVE being where we are now. And we definitely do not want to leave our friends here. We also do not want to be too far away from our families. Not TOO close either. Unfortunately, there is about 2,600 miles between where we are and where our families are.

Next week I will be at a conference in Atlanta interviewing. I will definitely update from there to tell the one random person who reads this how it went.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The funniest thing...

You probably have to know some of these people for this to be that funny.

Imagine a young 21 year old Seth, freshly married and sitting at an engagement party for his new sister-in- law at her parents house. She was going to get married in a few weeks. There were about 20 or so people in a room. Some I knew very well because I grew up with them in church. The others, I knew somewhat. I stood up and walked into the kitchen right about the time that someone started questioning Jane Anne's little sister about life at Virginia Tech in the Corps of Cadets. I got my drink and returned to sit next to my bride of four months. In my absence, the talk had turned to the formal gatherings of the military. Particularly, one guy was asking Jane Anne's sister about the formal dances they have and it came up that these dances are called by different names. I sat down and immediately a girl I had known for years looked at me and said, "Seth what do you call your balls?"

---------crickets chirping----------
---------dumbfounded look on my face----------
---------looking at Jane Anne, she looks back with an expectant look on her face-----
---------everyone stares at me waiting for an answer----------


"Uh... ummmm... that's a little personal, don't cha think?"

What I am bad at...

I did a practice interview on the phone yesteray. It went pretty well, but it served to emphasize one of my weaknesses. I'm not too comfortable bragging. And apparently, I need to get really good at it. I've got some work to do.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Truck


This is my truck. There are many like it, but this one is mine. I love it. I wash it, I keep it clean inside. As much as I love it, it pales in comparison to how much my boys like it. You are thinking, "Sure, the oldest one likes it because he's been brainwashed by his dad." Wrong. Jonnie loves the truck. David Loves the Truck. But Thomas- the one that turns TWO tomorrow- Thomas REALLY loves the truck. He wants to play in the truck's bed. His favorite activity is for me to push the seats forward and let him play in the back seat. He is one fat, happy kid when he gets to play in the truck. He throws a royal fit when I have to LITERALLY drag him kicking and screaming out of it. Yesterday I had to move the truck from the driveway onto the street so Jane Anne could park the minivan in the garage. I threw (not really) Thomas into the back seat, pulled out and parked it. As I opened the door, a banshee gave birth to a Howler Monkee in my back seat. No... no, that wasn't it at all. That was Thomas expressing his deep desire NOT to get out of the truck. Since I am the man of the family and stubborn I immediately bent to his will and drove around the block as slowly as possible and talked to him about going inside as soon as we got home. Amazingly, there were two live births of banshee/ howler monkees in the truck that day.

Telling the Boys

Since someone referenced us telling the boys that I was getting out of the Army, maybe I should tell about it. We were sitting at the table (probably around a meal) and I told the boys that I was getting out. Jonathan, immediately had a HUGE smile on his face and informed us that it meant that I would NEVER have to go back to Iraq again. Jonathan came over and crawled on my lap and just hugged me as tight as his skinny little arms could. David, well, David wasn't immediately so happy. It's cool to have a dad that can let you crawl around on tanks and carries guns. But I think David has since warmed up to the idea. He is just three years old, so he doesn't know that Daddy isn't supposed to be gone for a year at a time. Thomas? Thomas just wants to play on the truck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Coffee

Just a quick observation-

If you consume massive amounts of caffeine throughout the day, hoping that a mere 24 ounces of coffee at midnight will wake you up is fruitless.

I drink so much coffee that the only thing it does to keep me awake is to ensure that I go and pee a lot.

Why?

Here is what I have heard so far:
"Why would you get out now?"
"You've been in almost 10 years, only 10 more until you can retire!"
"If you hated the Army, why did you stay in this long?"
"Are you SURE you want to get out?"
"If we were to pull out of Iraq next week, would you still get out? or would you come back in?"

And here is my reason.

I have liked everything I have done in the Army. I like what I do now. I have never had a job I didn't enjoy. It is incredibly rewarding and I sleep well knowing I have worked hard and for a purpose. But... as much as I like the jobs I have done, I would be dishonest if I remained in the Army. I am big on metaphors. Its like this: I like the practice, but I hate the games. If I stayed in, I would find myself not wanting to spend a third year away from my wife and kids. Even if we pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan next week, China became a peaceloving democratic society, Kim Jung-Il fell over dead and Jimmy Carter became the elected president of north Korea, and Syria and Iran... well, you get the point. No matter what wars are going on, I don't want to be there. Not because I suddenly shun violence; on the contrary, I believe that "the world does not become a better place through happy thoughts and wishful thinking. Peace does not arrive from paper or handing out money. Peace is the result of strength. The world improves through force of will from those who believe in freedom.*" But because I value the well being of my family more than the good I could do in the Army, I must, in order to sleep well at night, leave the Army.

That is a long answer, I hope that the truth of my reasoning can be extracted from it.

* the quote is directly attributed to a friend who said those words at his change of command ceremony in February 2007.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Journal

Like many things I have done, I started a journal on the way to Iraq. It didn't get very far. The next couple enties are some of my thoughts on the way over there.

19 OCT 05: Bangor, Maine

We landed here after leaving McChord AFB. After instructions from the flight attendant, I led the company off the plane. After going through a long walkway, I turned the corner. There were about 25 people lined up and started clapping as we came down the final ramp. I wasn't ready for that. I stopped and let about 20 Soldiers go first- I needed to make sure I could make it through without crying. After shaking hands and getting hugs, one of the men handed me a cell phone to call my family. I called Janey and felt like crying. I talked to Jonnie and felt like crying. After the last 36 hours, I think my emotions are just a little bit raw. I called Jessica because I didn't have a chance to talk to her before I left- she was surprised. She said that she is feeling better but doens't understand why someone would want to be pregnant more than once! We walked back on the plane after going through the emotional gauntlet of hugs and handshakes again. Another 8-10 hours and we wil be in Germany.
I realized this morning as we got on the plane that I have a huge responsibility. A couple of Colonels that came to see us off made the comment that I was the "only Daddy now- Take care of your kids." I worry about losing someone (or more) while we are there. I pray I can bring everyone home.


21 OCT 05: Camp Beurhing, Kuwait

Germany was nothing but a warehouse. The USO had a few tables set up that gave out free coffee and cookies. I tell ya': the USO is awesome. They were great in Maine and they helped out a lot in Germany. Oh yeah, we landed in Stuttgart. It was about 2 hours in a warehouse surrounded by a 10 foot fence topped with concertina wire. I will always donate money to the USO.
When we got back on the plane- nothing special happened. I have no idea how long the flight was, I guess about 5 hours. When we landed- the landscape wasn't much different than the Mojave desert. After getting off the plane, we loaded busses and went to the "staging area". I guess I should say that we landed in Kuwait City. After an hour in the staging area, SGT XXXX from the movement control team out of Fort Eustis told us to pick two shooters per bus and send them over to get their ammo. Each bus sent two Soldiers. They were briefed on when to shoot and what to expect from the drivers. Our driver was from Bangledesh. He started talking to one of the shooters from my bus and asked a lot of questions: "Who is the highest ranking officer"; "How many Soldiers"; "Where are we going in Iraq", etc. Sgt XXXX, the questionee, handled him excellently. He told him that we didn't have any officers. He pointed to me and told him that I was just a sergeant, not an officer. I slid out and reported the passive information gathering. I was told they do that all the time.
We finally left and spent the next two hours on the road to get here. It also sems a lot like Fort Irwin. So far, we have moved 223 Soldiers around the world, gotten into Kuwait and had no accidents. We are sleeping in four tents; 1 for females and two platoons in each of the otehr three. Cots and wooden floors keep us out of the sand. We have to do a couple of small things tomorrow, but in reality, tomorrow, Saturday, and maybe Sunday will be pretty slow. Its a little past 2 AM and I am finally getting tired and think I may go to sleep.
Feelings: I feel like my insides are shrivelled because my best friend is 1/2 way around the world. I miss Janey and the boys. Mainly I miss the company they provide and the love they show.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Growing Up

When I was doing the dishes and listening to good, wholesome radio tonight (country music, of course), I heard a song that reminded me of what I missed last year.

Life went on last year without me. I just missed most of it. Being in Iraq, I tended not to be affected by the tragedies that people faced here in the US. Even things like deaths in the family. One of my uncles died last year when I was gone. My reaction to the news wasn't too deep. I was busy and was focusing on staying alive myself. There was enough death around me that news of Mark's death was more of a blip on my radar.

When I was young (middle school age) I was a "gopher" at my grandfather's plumbing company during the summers. "Gopher"? It's like this... "Hey Seth. Go get the ladder.... go get the hammer... go get the plunger..." I was told to "go for" stuff a lot. And that was about all I was good for. Anyway- at the time Mark lived across the street from us. When I was over at his house one day, and I have no idea why I was at his house, he said something that I still remember. What he said caused a mix of emotions that I wasn't ready for. He told me that even though the couple guys I rode with complain about having to babysit the bosses grandson, they both said that they are glad I am there.

I am naive. It never occurred to my 12 year old mind that these plumbers would be anything but ecstatic about driving me around all day. So, at the same time that I find out that I am a chore to them, I also find out that they think of me, if nothing more, as at least a good worker. I always appreciated Mark telling me that. It also marked the first time in my memory that an adult talked to me as something more than a kid.

After I joined the Army, we always tried to make it back home for Christmas (at least before kids). We started doing the Christmas Eve thing at Mark's house. Mark, being the host of the evening, always asked me to say the blessing before we ate. I really appreciated that. He again made me feel like an adult. He would also always find time to talk to me about whatever Louis L'amour book he had just read, or about a military history book he was reading. I'll miss Mark when I go back to Knoxville.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"...and I yelled 'Smoke!' as I let it fly!"

On Friday, as mentioned in Gravity of Motion, I did three things... I was promoted, I relinquished the command of my company, and I "dropped my paperwork". At least, thats what they call it in the buisness. My signed resignation is awaiting the endorsement of my boss and his boss. Then it will just be a matter of waiting for someone to offer me more lots of money to work.
How long had I been in command? Longer than average. When I took command, a new lieutenant had just arrived at the company. Let's call him "Matt". "Matt" has since left my former company, commanded a unit of his own, and relinquished command of THAT unit to another former lieutenant of mine. I could go on and on about how many other Lieutenants have passed through my company, but it is too long a list.
So, what is next? I let the smoke grenade land, I start sending out my resume' and I get a job. In the mean time, I work... with considerably less stress than being a company commander.
My new job is a management position where I am managing five or six other officers (my former peers). On the staff that I am in charge of, every officer is also getting out of the Army. Form your own opinions as to whether there is a mass exodus of officers leaving the Army.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pulling the Pin

You can't just quit. This never happens: "Hey sir, I've been giving this a lot of thought. I decided that as much as I have enjoyed my last 9 years in the Army, I feel that my time away from my family is having too much of a negative influence and I need to make a change. So, this is my two week notice."

Instead, it is more like this: "Sir, here are my four memorandums that are required in order for me to leave the Army. This one is my resignation, this one is to verify that you counseled me, this one is to verify that the Colonel counseled me, and this one is to verify that I know that I have been counseled. Here is my leave form, my education counseling, my last evaluation, and my official records file. I understand that the paperwork must be in six months before I separate from the Army, so my leave will begin in July and I will be separated in September."

And then they find a formatting error or a misspelling on your fourth memorandum and the dates are no longer correct because that other guy took too long to check them. So, re-do them with the correct dates.

The pin on this smoke grenade is pretty tough to pull.