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Showing posts from January, 2010

Military Retirement Less That Four Years Away

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Today's picture is called "Hanging up my Uniform". Apparently, that's what I'll be doing in less than 4 years from now. I just went over 20 years in the Air Force at the end of last month. I'd planned to stay in pretty much as long as I can ... which until recently meant 6 more years. Then this morning I was reading an article in my feed reader from the Air Force times, which said that the AF had announced that High Year of Tenure is being rolled back to pre-2003 levels. What that means to me, is that as a MSgt (which, in all honesty is the highest rank I'm going to make), I now have to retire when I hit 24 years ... 28 December 2013, in my case. So for the rest of the day today, the thought of hanging up my uniform has been on my mind. Once I get back from this deployment, and take some leave, I'll only have 3 1/2 years left in the military. I had already pretty much planned on the idea that Fort Hood was going to be my last assignment ... thi

Dust Storm Blowing In

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Anybody who's been to Iraq is all too familiar with blowing dust. Any time the wind picks up the dust is usually not too far behind. It blows in on the breeze and then proceeds to get into Everything! Not only that, but (more directly related to my job) it's apparently not too much fun to try to fly in either. Fortunately, in the winter time we don't have too many bad dust days. Sometimes in the summer though, the visibility will be less than 2 miles for weeks at a time. Today however, was one of the rare winter days where we did get a pretty decent dust storm. We just had a cold front go through, so by mid-morning, the winds were were blowing fairly briskly from the west. We noticed on the satellite image first that it looked like conditions were deteriorating upstream. After a few more frames, there was no doubt; the dust was coming. About an hour later, the leading edge of the dust storm was visible on the horizon. And if you look close at my picture above, you

Do Drink The Water

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A deployment trip to the desert is one of the few tropical travel destinations where you are most definitely Encouraged to drink the water ... lots of it. And they make it real easy for us. All around the post, there are pallets full of bottled water, free for the taking. Plus, most offices, rec centers, and the gyms have coolers where you can also get a nice cold bottle. Reminding people to drink plenty of water is actually part of our pre-deployment training ... I'm not even joking. This time of year, it's not really that big of a deal. The weather is quite pleasant actually (most afternoons the high temp is between 65 and 73). But during the summer time, when the high temperatures can sometimes top 120 F (50 C), if you're not drinking water, you can get dehydrated with a quickness. I did get a chuckle when I first got here in October. I went into the bathroom near our office, and there on the wall, right above the urinal, is a little chart that helps you determ

Tequila + C130 Flight = Very Bad Day

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For you non-military types, this is a picture of a C-130 Hercules. It's a plane that's been flying, in one form or another, since before I was even born. And still today, it remains a workhorse ... especially for intra-theater airlift. But that's not the reason I chose it as my picture of the day. You may have noticed the title of this blog post up above. Yes, there's a story behind it. My buddy Lou Pell just mentioned it on one of his facebook status updates about a week ago, so the memory is (re)freshed in my mind. So it's circa 1993. We've been deployed down to Brindisi Italy for about 3 months, providing weather support to special ops/search and rescue aircraft flying into Bosnia. It wasn't a bad TDY at all. San Vito AB was still open at the time. We lived in big tents, but we still shopped in the BX and Commissary, and went to the base club almost every night . And that's where the story of the C-130 ride from hell comes in ... It's

My Socialized Health Care

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I've enjoyed the benefits of "socialized medicine" for my entire life. First as a military dependent, then on active duty for the past 20 years. Once I retire from the Air Force, I'll continue to have excellent health care benefits; for myself and my family. Because of this, I'd love to be able to say that the current debate over health insurance reform doesn't really affect me. Except that it does ... It affects us all. I don't want to get too far off on a rant here. >>Begin Rant<< But suffice it to say, that when it comes to politics, I'm a proud member of the "mushy middle". I've got absolutely no use (or respect) for those members of congress (or the public) on the Right, or the Left who's "principals" (ie: ideology) tend to stand in the way of getting anything productive done. Why is compromise considered a 4-letter word in today's political arena? I'm not an expert on the health care field

My Ipod Makes Me Feel Old

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Should the realization that probably 95% of the songs currently on my ipod were recorded before the ipod was even invented make me feel old? Ana used to make fun of me when I was at home, because I bought an ipod, but very rarely listened to it. Well since I've been here, I'm making up for it. I listen to music every day while I'm at the gym for our daily workout. Two things recently occurred to me ... I need more music, some of these songs are starting to repeat pretty often. Unfortunately, with my slow internet speed, it's probably not gonna happen until I get home in the spring. Most of the songs on my ipod are from the 70s or 80s. Not really surprising, since that's when I was a teenager, and thus most interested in music. Just to give you an idea of what I'm taking about, today while I was on the elliptical machine, the shuffle feature gave me a nice 3 song in a row stretch ... Paradise by the Dashboard Lights - Meatloaf (recorded in 1977) Bohemian

Poker Night At The Big Top

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Like many other guys, I became addicted to Texas Hold em poker a few years back. I love to play the game. Fortunately, the rec center over here sponsors a tournament 3 nights a week. We usually get anywhere from 70 to 100 people show up. It's free to enter, but the top three finishers do get prizes ... usually gift cards. I've won my fair share already in the 3 months I've been here so far. But even on nights when I don't win, the real value for me is that it gets me up out of the room. Everywhere we go around base, I'm constantly running into people I know from the poker game. I've even made a few friends that I'll probably keep in touch with even after we get back home. I started playing Texas hold em after watching a couple of late night re-runs on ESPN2. I played mostly online. Never for a lot of money, but always enough to make it interesting. I am fortunate I guess, that I did a bit of gambling (pool and slot machines) when I was a teenager

Keep Your Eyes On The Road

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Sometimes in life, it sure can seem like all of the really good stuff is already behind us. Especially when we find ourselves going through tough times. But here's something to keep in mind ... while it's ok to occasionally take a quick glance in the old rear view mirror, and reminisce about all the beautiful scenes from our past; don't ever forget that the future can actually provide much more vivid imagery ... because only with our tomorrows do we truly have the power to shape reality to fit our dreams. ... and on a lighter note; if you spend too much time admiring the sunset in your mirror, you might just forget about what's ahead, and plow right into a dumpster. (I didn't do that btw ... but it certainly sounds like something that I might do) :-D Todd

Ten Feet Tall And Bullet Proof

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I remember when I was younger, that's exactly how me and all my friends felt about ourselves ... "ten feet tall, and bullet proof". Now that I'm older (and supposedly wiser), all it takes is my daily trip to the gym to prove to myself that that saying no longer applies ... as if it ever did. I'm still trying to decide whether it's a good or bad thing, that the more years we have behind us, the more we become aware of the fact that we're not invincible. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way that we could always be brave enough to feel "bullet proof", but at the same time, be wise enough to realize that there are times when even the indestructible need to "duck for cover"? Ok, enough of my rambling ... that's about as profound as I can get when talking about a picture of my own shadow :-) "see" you tomorrow. Todd

Taking An Online College Class

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After 20 years in the Air Force, I am finally getting around to using my tuition assistance. I've been talking about taking an online class for quite a while now, but as with many other "important" things, I always found some excuse or another not to do it. Well, as of the 4th of January that's all changed. I'm now a Student again! This first class is called "Introduction to Online Learning" ... it's a requirement, to make sure that I can handle online course work. :-) The book is kind of interesting, and is actually something that I might have picked up anyway, were I to come across it while browsing at Borders or Books-a-million. I'm a sucker for books about personal growth, and learning techniques. The first chapter, which I just got done doing the assignment for, is actually right up my alley too ... it's about finding your motivation (as it relates to learning). I got to take a quiz about my motivational style. There were ten

The Fog Of War

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Hey, as long as I'm stuck here in Iraq, I might as well take a few "military themed" pictures for my project 365 picture of the day. I'm calling this one "The Fog of War". This is definitely a subject where I could probably quite easily write a 1000 word post. However, this blog is very rarely political. So, suffice it to say, my thought on war is that it's very rarely a "black and white" type proposition. There's an awful lot of nuance in that "gray fog". Actually, on a bit of a "less heavy" subject ... do you like this picture? If so, this is a good example of an image that at the time I took it, was never intended to be seen. It was going to be a "throw away". But then, after playing with it for a while in Photoshop, I really started to like the "feel" of it. And here it is, part of my Picture a day project. The lesson ... A very big part of what makes a "good" picture takes pl

Scanning The Horizon

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Sometimes it's really easy to get caught up in all the "ground clutter" in our lives. But don't forget that often times the things that may end up having the greatest effect on us are still beyond the horizon ... unseen with the naked eye. Todd

Getting Your Feet Dirty

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Today's Picture of the Day is "Muddy Shoes" It got me thinking ... Ever notice, that many of the really good things in life are very rarely right there on the side of the road, just waiting for us to come along? Nope, more often than not, success requires the occasional jaunt off the beaten path. And here's the thing; being willing to leave the safety of the "well traveled roads" in search of something extraordinary, will very often result in getting your feet at least a little bit dirty. Are you willing to take the risk? Todd