Saturday, September 30, 2006

Current mood: excited

Twenty-five hundred years ago on a remote mountain pass in northern Greece approximately five thousand Hoplites of various city-states stood shoulder to shoulder against a Persian army that may have numbered as many as one million men.

Chief amongst the greeks were 300 Spartan homoioi (peers). The elite land holders and nobles of their civilization. They arrived there knowing their lives would most likely be forfeit, and yet there they stood.

On the morning fighting commenced Xerxes the Persian emperor is reputed to have offered the Spartans the 'privelege' of surrender. He would set them up as the most honored tenant of his realm. "Spartans, Xerxes desires not your lives, only your arms!"

Leonidas, king of Sparta knew the fate of a fragile alliance of Hellenic cities hung in the balance. If he accepted Sparta would be saved, but Greece would fall. But Leonidas rejected Xerxes' offer of slavery saying simply "Molon labe!" Come and get them.

For four days the Greeks formed a phalanx blocking the pass and inflicting horrendous casualties on their Persian foes.

Finally with the help of the traitor Ephialtes Xerxes' Immortals found a trail running around the Greek position and prepared to surround the Spartans. The night before this happened Leonidas released the soldiers of all other cities, that they might spread the story of the Spartan's sacrifice and bring heart to the final battle which must by necessity occur further into Greece at a later date (it did, with a sea battle at Salamis, and a land battle which annihilated the Persian armies at Platea). Only the Thespians remained. And these few stood surrounded by the Persians, chewed apart by their arrows, and died to the last man.

I really believe that in his heart every soldier wants to fight in a battle that means something. If you're going to bear the lot of a soldier, then it might as well be for a purpose.

On March 16th Sony Pictures will release 'The 300' based on Frank Millers graphic novel, telling of these events.

The trailer can be viewed here:

This movie is going to absolutely rule! Someone save me a seat. Chances are I'll see this one more than 'Star Wars'!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Random News
Current mood: awake

Through some odd manipulation of fate I ended up with an extra night off. Don't ask me why. In the Army all things happen by the stroke of the platoon sergeant's pen.

The last blog entry of current events was pretty popular, unfortunately it's only about 48 hours old, so not alot has happened of late.

I remember saying in an earlier blog entry that Muji can't shoot. I'm pretty sure I can say this much. We're on the biggest base in Iraq, and they shoot mortars at us fairly often. Pretty much daily. It's a big base, with alot of open area so very little danger. But, here's the funny thing. Most days they can't even hit the base. I'm serious, this place is bigger than alot of Nebraska towns, and somehow they can't manage to hit this huge ass target.

There's a saying in Islam "insh'allah" basically it means 'as god wills'. So that's how they shoot. They point their weapons in a general direction and fire. If god wills it they'll hit something. You'd think by now they'd have decided that their god isn't on their side. As Han Solo once said 'Hokey religion and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'

So some kind soul bought me a few books and DVDs off my Amazon wishlist (thanks!). One of them was 'Mortgages for Dummies'. Holy crap! That was one useful book! I read it last night on duty and found out all KINDS of interesting things. Here's a tip for other home buyers. Understanding the housing market is important, understanding your credit rating moreso, but if you don't understand mortgages and financing you're really going to come up short. Did anyone else know I can withdraw up to $10,000 from my 401(K) to put toward a down payment on a home with no penalties? Additionally when most people think of the interest rate structure for a mortgage they think of regular fixed rate only. But there are adjustable rate mortgages, and hybrids as well as some even more exotic products. If your other finances are in order you'll find you can afford alot more home than you thought possible.

On a down note my PSP somehow got smashed last night. We came in the lane from searching trucks, I did some log entries and housekeeping then went to turn on my PSP and just a cracked screen and funny noises. Oh well, I'm ahead moneywise, I thought. So when we got off I trucked over to the PX to buy a new one, but alas... No PSPs where in stock. Gonna be a couple weeks. No big deal, I don't really need it until I fly home on leave in December.

Since we've been working twelve hour shifts I've been neglecting my gym time. I wish I could tell ya' I've been working out hard every day, but why lie? I've been eating too much crap, drinking too many sodas, and not putting any time on the road or under the weights. We're going back to eight hour shifts in a few days, so there goes that excuse.

Anyone interested in a serious workout program is challenged to visit my mentors at crossfit. I'll be back in fighting trim in no time.

Hope all is well back home. Miss you all, and I'll see you all in a couple months.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Random Rumblings

September is now 90% complete. That means we're over the 1/2way mark. Just an imaginary mark on a calendar, but that's how you mark time around here. How long 'til you go on leave, how long 'til you rotate home.

I had to do health and welfare inspections this morning for my soldiers. Anyone who knows me (or gods help them has helped me clean house) knows that I'm the last person who should be charged with checking on the cleanliness of others. The absurdity of the situation was not lost on me, so I pulled off my combat boots, put on my flip flops and my gold lens Oakley sunglasses. Oddly enough everyone's rooms looked really good. Well, mine needs some work.

I want everyone to write to Ducati and tell them how absolutely wonderful they are for releasing the 2007 Monster S4R. It has a more powerful engine, better brakes and suspension than the '06 model, and is priced $500 less! So guess what I'm investing in when I get home?

The weather's cooling off finally. Last night it dropped into the low 70s. We were out on the lane searching trucks, and I actually had to put on my fleece jacket. But I kind of have a cold and I had the chills.

I've been house hunting online, and found several places that I like. I need to study up on mortgages a bit more, but I've been working hard the past few years on improving my damaged credit rating, and I'm seeing some results. I don't know that I'm going to buy right when I get home, I may enjoy a summer with the pool at the apartment complex first, besides home prices go down even more in the October/November time frame so I'm told. Can anyone confirm?

Tonight's my night off, and I just got season 2.5 of Battlestar Galactica from Amazon today. Right now I'm typing this and listening to music, but I'm gonna have a little sci-fi marathon here as soon as this is posted.

That's about it for now. I'll pass along more news if/when it happens.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trying to get back to topics

"Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go looking for it, and I think it can often be poisonous."

A couple weeks back I said I'd try to speak to the quote above. It's something from Vonnegut (one of my favorite writers), and while I'm far from an expert on matters of the heart I think I have some experience here as one who's repeatedly tried and failed.

First off let's break down just who I am for those of you who may not yet know me. I'm not decorative, although I do clean up well. I'm not a party animal, although when out with people who's company I truly enjoy I can tear it up with the best of them. I'm not wise, but in place of wisdom I substitute observation from life experience and a sort of centrist point of view. That's a quick nutshell.

Now then, love and the everlasting quest for it. Let's right off the bat pitch the concept of lust and separate the two. Not that I have any great desire to really rid myself of lust. I'm a big fan of it, and believe that as long as the approach is honest lust can be satisfied without engendering pain. But lust is not love, although we often confuse ourselves on this issue, and that may be the central point of this whole theme. Let's examine.

Poets and romantics can define love far better than I can, but I always thought of love as having a partner you can trust absolutely. Having a love means having a friend, an advocate, a counselor, and a lover and so much more embodied in a single person. Lust means having someone you find physically attractive with whom you'd like to spend a few hours of joyful activity. The thing is, you can satisfy lust with your lover but when lust is sated the best part of that relationship remains.

My experience has convinced me that love is best found when it is stumbled upon accidentally. Otherwise unrealistic expectations sabotage a potential relationship before it even begins. I like the quote from Robin Williams in 'Good Will Hunting':

"You're not perfect sport, and let me save you the suspense, this girl you've met she's not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you're perfect for each other."

Seeking out 'true love' is the blueprint for unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations are the blueprint for misery. I'm not gonna walk that road. Instead I choose to live my life, and if in the future I stumble onto love again (I have and have blown it a couple times so far) I'm gonna try a little harder and hang on. Until then I promise to be me, strange as I am, and move forward with other things. Oh yeah, no more fix-ups either.

I guess step one is still getting home in one piece though, isn't it?

Oh well, the muj is still a crappy shot, our vehicle armor is very good, and so are me and my guys.

May the force be with you...always.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Getting on with it

It's been a week since the events I covered briefly in my previous blog entry. I'm doing OK. We had a sort of stress remediation group session with some counselors and that honestly was kind of helpful. More than that, just being around everyone and talking through events is better.

Now I feel guilty sometimes when I'm happy about something, or I'm focusing on some event or person, or thing I want to do when I get home. I remember that my friends won't be able to do these things anymore. Why them and not me?

Am I being selfish by dwelling on this? Should I just move on as if none of what's happened bothers me?

Just some stuff I'm sort of struggling with.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Why it was a bad day

Sunday night and Monday morning turned out to be the worst day I've ever experienced.

I volunteered to spend my day off as a gunner in a good buddy's vehicle on a convoy escort mission. My first time outside the wire, finally a little action.

It's said that you should be careful what you wish for. Now I know why...

On the return trip the lead vehicle in our convoy driven by my friend DB (you can still see his profile from my top friend's page) struck an IED. I'm not going to go into alot of details in this forum, but my friend was killed. Two more Soldiers I know well were injured, but will be back on duty soon.

I wanted to be a combat veteran, and now I just want DB back, and my other friends Josiah and Luis to be well.

DB's memorial service here in Iraq will be on Friday. I'll see if I can get a picture or two in order to share the experience.

Thank you again to everyone for your support (Grandma, I got your care package yesterday, folks at Arbor Day I got yours this morning). We need our friends and family at home now, more than ever.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

The no good very bad day
Current mood: sad

Today was a no good very bad day. I'll write more when I can.