Kitty Competency

Filed under: — lana @ 1:10 pm

I have once again underestimated people. I am hereby promoting my cat a few echelons up. She at least productively caught a fly today. That meant she ended an annoyance, whereas others only seem to cause them. I am actually going to enact a comparison study of some of the people in my brigade versus my cat. I am just struggling to come up with a fair test, because it seems that my cat overwhelmingly wins most of the time.

I spent a good portion of my morning lining up a few things to get my orders for my class. Having checked the appropriate training records, I noted that this is the third time this class has been entered into the system for me. I am trying to ensure that this does not become the third cancellation of the class for me, to include securing very difficult seats each time and getting the course to enter me into the system, which is very competitive. I reenlisted, begged, pleaded, cajoled, and even asked very nicely. Once told I had a seat this last time around, which was several months ago, I rearranged things, backed out on my best friend’s wedding, and postponed health treatment and medication refills.

This morning my Battalion was surprisingly helpful in their way. While the normal people who would help are either not around or had no system access, they pointed me in the direction of others who could help. A warrant officer who has been pushing this class since February made some phone calls. The movement officer straightened up an entire section of travel that had me listed in a different company. A poor sergeant who wanted desperately to help but was denied access called around and got a few things arranged. Everyone made phone calls and pulled their favors to encourage the next authority to go smoothly and get this signed. It worked all the way through battalion.

Then it came to a screeching halt.

I left the battalion around 1130. by 1300, right after lunch and I was long gone to harass analysts in a different part of the country, a message was left in my inbox telling me that all requests are two weeks late, money has been allocated elsewhere, and there is “no proof that brigade already signed off on the class.” As though my company and a high-ranking warrant and a few others just went ahead and said “meh, sure, let’s do this” and shimmied around and submitted a packet without them being any the wiser. This being a course that needs full packet approval from several echelons and is tracked by none other than their offices, that becomes a wee bit hard to believe. They said that they apparently needed submissions two weeks ago. They appear to be overlooking the fact that my submission was originally made in March, roughly four months ago. To acknowledge such would be to admit that they messed up and figure out a way to fix it. I should keep dreaming, I know. They also failed to acknowledge the conversation my commander had two weeks ago where he informed them that my part was in the system already, we just needed the course message which would show up in a week. They would then have to again realize they screwed up and actually fix it. Way easier for them to just forget about me, I know. The kitty nearly breaks her neck trying to catch a fly; I would hate for these people to have to pull up an Excel spreadsheet and figure out where they accidentally spent money they had already promised. They might get a cramp in their hand, after all. Kitty wins.

They also did this on a week where my command is conveniently out of town, so my usual bastions of semi-sanity cannot call to yell at anyone for me. I have been given permission to request the help of a few people, hopefully encouraging those people to go ahead and yell at the ones who deserve it. Will it help? That remains to be seen. Again, they would have to admit that they seriously overlooked a few thousand dollars that was promised months ago and possibly pull one of their precious hiking trips off the calendar or something. While the rest of us in the world (probably even the cat) know that a few days hiking in the Alps will not prepare anyone for months in the Hindu Kush, this fact apparently slipped by the Brigade recently, among other silly decisions we have all watched them make and warned them against but only to deaf ears. I hope those few Soldiers enjoyed their campfire S’mores, because now the rest of us and the overall unit mission gets to pay.

My cat serves a purpose. She chases flies, catches them, and eats them. Sometimes she throws them back up on the floor, but that is besides the point. She provides a productive service to this place, and I am convinced she may well be able be moved up a few echelons. She is clearly more of an asset and probably thinks more coherent thoughts than the people that caused this mess. She also will work for nearly free, costs coming via a food bowl and the occasional trip out on the balcony. A cost-saving measure for certain. In the kitty competency game, the cat seems to just win overall every time for practicality and usefullness.

Sorry, Brigade, looks like you lost. Move over: Lucy is coming to town.



Filed under: — lana @ 1:42 pm

Today I had to go on a bit of a hunt for a wallet-sized gizmo I think I actually turned in about two years ago but, as usual, cannot remember. While I have yet to turn up the missing piece, I did find:

Every security badge I used in Iraq, ever.
My security badge for a NATO exercise three years ago.
My tax return from four years ago.
Six PADI/NAUI cards (basic, advanced, nitrox).
My birth certificate.
A spare car key.
A 2 dollar bill.
A map of a city in central Romania.
A small wallet calendar with a picture of Pope Benedict that looks remarkably like Emperor Palpatine.
An expired VFW membership card.
Two expired American Legion membership cards.
Several British pounds.
An Arabic cassette tape.
A matchbook with Osama bin Laden on the front.
My associate’s degree diploma (hoping the higher degrees are still somewhere at my parents’ house).

There was plenty more, but those were some highlights. An interesting mix, probably resulting from my interesting job and my sometimes mixed-up brain. But despite the excitement of my findings, I am thinking that perhaps I should clean my desk more often…



Filed under: — lana @ 12:05 pm

Most people think that the phrase, “You snooze, you lose” has no real meaning off the playground. Most people figure that it can’t mean a thing when it’s not being said by the class bully who just stole the one remaining inflated kickball and kicked it onto the school roof before you could get a good game of four-square going.

Most people think these things, of course, because they do not work for the biggest class bully of them all, Mother Army.

And I, apparently, was napping at the switch while waiting for my turn at four-square. Which is a shame, because I play a mean four-square.

Actually, in trying to see that the Army doesn’t screw me over again, I got screwed over. Again.

I have been waiting for the unit to go ahead and cut payment for my upcoming course. The course may well affect some of the options for the places I would like to go next which for all the wonders it holds, is not still another year or two in Germanistan. They promised me the class ages ago when I was first silly enough to bite the bullet and reenlist, and now that the brain tumor is contained to just one side they are finally about to follow through. But first, they have to cut payment so I can get orders. In exchange I told my first sergeant and commander that once I have the orders I will look at reenlistment and, in all probability, sign on for another few years. But I am being careful, because I don’t want them to use one of the promises from last reenlistment to rope me into anything silly for this reenlistment.

So I waited because the class I am to attend has people in it from organizations like the Air Force. The Air Force is great; they treat their people fabulously and the rest of us are jealous every time we walk onto an air base. However, they can sometimes be a little lax about some things such as, say, providing names for school slots the organization was already promised. Until all names are provided, no one from any organization gets the message that they can attend. No message, no payment, and no payment, no orders. So I sit around and wait for the Air Force, checking every few hours to see if the message came through yet. The faster this gets done, the faster we can all move on from the fiasco.

In order to make sure I didn’t end up getting shot in the foot, however, I got shot in the other. The Army apparently, maybe a week or two ago, went on a reenlistment freeze. While people can still reenlist, they do so at the devastating Needs of the Army.

Needs of the Army is like when parents take a six year old to the pound and say “You can pick any one you like,” and let the kid wander around to find a puppy. But all the good puppies already have adopted signs on their cage and all that is left are a few wheezy, mangey-looking ones growling from the back of the reinforced steel cages towards the dark end of the hall. It is when you reenlist for some reason that sounded good at the time and Mother Army can put you wherever she pleases. Since everyone else reenlisted before the freeze for the good assignments, that puts you square at places like Fort Hood, Fort Polk, Fort Sill, or worse yet, back at ol’ Fort Bragg. All the places that no one else would possibly pick.

My branch manager informed me that I can contact her after 1 October when the freeze is supposed to be lifted. However, my job is one of the very few that has a decent monetary bonus right now. The bonus is sure to disappear around 1 October.

Basically, I snoozed.

Recently I mentioned that the ball was in the Army’s court at this point because of the decisions I could try to make. I retract that. The Army waited until I was good and napping, stole the ball, and kicked it onto the roof where it will remain until the janitor can get around to getting up there and tossing it back down. Until then, we are both out of moves.

I had better rest up: no more naps starting 1 October. This time, I mean it.


Lost and Found

Filed under: — lana @ 12:46 pm

So somewhere around two years ago my medical records disappeared. I had a copy, and most of it is digital these days anyway, so no big deal except that periodically the Army records clerk who sits in the back room with the creepy automated records rolodex would ask me if I actually belonged to the clinic. For a little while there was a bit of a hunt, and we thought they were found somewhere in the vicinity of a hospital that closed well over a year ago and were now snug in their little slot in the back room rolodex.

By the way, I say “they” because my file is a little large. Two folders at last count, and that was before the Walter Reed Extravaganza. A piece of paper is generated every time you get a shot, you order a pill, you pick up a pill, or your foot almost falls off. All four of those things are more of a regular thing for me than most, among others. So a little large may be an underestimate.

The other day, the phone rang. My warrant officer, who was surprisingly in the room and reasonably close to the telephone, answered. His face got confused almost immediately, but I ignore that these days. Then he walked up to me and handed me the phone, telling me some confused little private was hurting his brain.

Turns out the private was not the only one who was confused. Having addled my warrant, he proceeded to ask me if I could stop into his office. I reminded him that I had no idea who he was, and he informed me that he worked at the clinic in the records department. All was good, as I happened to have to go to the clinic anyway, so I would drop by later. I asked which room he was in, and was mildly confused with his answer. Turns out, he very nearly forgot to tell me that the clinic to which he was referring is about two hours away from where I was currently standing, and as a matter of fact in a clinic to which I had never been. I’d only been to the base twice.

After a little more idle chit-chat, I provided the nice little private with my main clinic and asked that he have my records sent via courier, since I don’t even know that I will visit his base in the next ten months before I leave Germany. He agreed and promised to do so with the next courier heading in our direction. I suspect I will never see them again, but have gotten by this long without them anyway.

He then asked me why my records were in his files.

Privates are funny creatures. Some of them are simply terrible. I was one of those, though I was never technically a private. I was always asking questions about why things appear to be stupid, always with full knowledge that the NCO would try to make something up, and then gleefully pointing out when the answers made no sense. Thoroughly obnoxious, but I was fairly bored of throwing tennis balls at the other platoon while waiting on The Word (which was supposed to be “Go Home,” but usually was more like “Oops! We forgot to clean the bathrooms/mow the parade field/sweep the parking lot. Go clean/mow/sweep now even though you should have been released two hours ago.”) so I would amuse myself by annoying others with more rank. I particularly enjoyed choosing the ones that would try to defend the Army or otherwise acted like they knew everything, mostly because they would squirm more while trying to come up with something plausible. I was never one of the good little privates, like this poor kid, who asked questions about why things appear to be stupid and actually expected a real, intelligent answer from an NCO because these naive little souls still believe that no way could the Army really be that dumb. Sorry, kids, but it most certainly can. I probably destroyed all of his hopes and dreams about the Army when I answered to him that pointless, dumb things happen every day in the Big Green Machine, so he should probably just get used to it. He had to learn someday, I suppose. Poor thing…

But at least, despite the fact that no one knows how they were lost or how they ended up two hours away or why the clerk decided to call and ask about them now, my records are theoretically en route to their dark home in the bowels of my home clinic. In the meantime, I’m just waiting for perhaps a base in Korea or perhaps Djibouti to call and tell me they have a copy of an old certificate of training for me or maybe they found that patrol cap I lost four years ago. Would make for an interesting story.

And people wonder why I hate to answer the phone…



Filed under: — lana @ 12:30 pm

So Lord Xenu of Scientology, who has taken up residence in my cavernous sinus for those who are unaware, appears to seriously dislike the rain. This is tragic, because the German weather gods appear to love rain. Makes the manure in the fields more fragrant and delicious, I think. Also, since I leave the window in my car cracked frequently, it makes my car fragrant. Right now it smells like an old hooker, as close as we can tell. We are going to get a vanilla-scented air freshener for it so at least it can smell like an old stripper. My car is putting itself through college the best way it knows how. Don’t judge.

But I digress. So Xenu has been having a rough time this summer, since I think it has rained at least for a few minutes every day since April. I have medication for these things, of course. Since my shoulders and my feet also don’t get along with damp weather, I have other medication for that. All in all, I keep the general grumblings of my body in check through my lovely local Army clinic pharmacy.

The only problem, it appears, is when I get hungry.

Yesterday I was sitting in my office and felt a headache coming on. I couldn’t tell if it was the rain or a particularly poorly worded sentence from the report I was trying to read, so I took my headache medication just in case. The shoulders were also acting up, predicting a thunderstorm en route, so I took some of that, too. Pre-emptive strike, so I thought. Then I remembered that I had forgotten to eat lunch, reminded by the sandwich that was still sitting on my desk three hours after lunchtime.

Our local supermarket, the commissary, has a sandwich-to-order section. They have delicious spinach wraps. The trouble is they wrap them on little styrofoam trays with plastic wrap which they heat the ends of to break in a clean line. The plastic wrap sometimes gets a little too warm and melts more of the wrap when they close the sandwich, creating a good seal but something of a pain to figure out how to open.

This problem gets exponentially worse, it appears, when you mix medications and then try to eat a sandwich. Much like Lennie and the rabbits in Of Mice and Men, I appear to not know my own strength when it comes to thunderstorms, poor English, pills, hunger, and a tasty sandwich wrapped in melted plastic. I thought I was careful, but made something of a mess trying to get half the sandwich into my belly. I then decided I wanted the other half for later. The problem to my addled brain was that I had demolished most of the plastic wrap in my need for sandwich.

The solution lay in front of me: scotch tape.

My warrant officer came in about two minutes after I had finished repairing the damage to the sandwich wrappings. He walked in to see me puzzling over another sentence in the report and a pile of sandwich, plastic wrap, and about a quarter roll of scotch tape on my desk. He was smart enough to just ask what report number I was on. He doesn’t like to torment me when I am on medication… a wise move, as evidenced by the plastic wrap strewn about. He also got another roll of tape for me from the supply cabinet, which was nice of him, before ducking into his office to giggle just loud enough that I could hear him.

For the record, I used to have plastic containers in the office for occasions like these, since tape gets expensive after awhile. Unfortunately my previous commander used my last good container making a rudimentary mouse trap when we were in the field, which I point out failed to catch anything but mouse poop, and I have not replaced it yet.

Given the amount of time and energy spent trying to get to my half-sandwich dinner last night, in addition to the fact that the thunderstorms have not abated, perhaps it is about time to invest. I might starve to death otherwise… or worse, run out of tape.



Filed under: — lana @ 9:57 am

Ah, choices. The reason the human race is supposed to be so advanced is because we have the ability to make educated choices about our options in life. That and opposable thumbs, anyway.

Periodically I sit down and try to figure out what I am going to do with myself. Usually, this involves rum, because no one should have to plan their life without rum.

The Army has recently come out to say that because of manning issues and money issues there are no retention perks any longer, such as station of choice and training options. Station of choice can still be done, but it involves negotiating with…

The Branch Manager.

My branch manager is a very nice person. She has only told me not to bother her three times and my first sergeant only once… before he got the sergeant major on the phone, if I recall, which only led to more drama. She is usually very polite in the varied ways she possesses to tell me where I can shove my requests, however, so I really have just taken to avoiding her altogether. Which isn’t too hard, seeing as she won’t talk to me anyway.

In order to deal with my particular branch manager we must either have the sergeant major or the battalion retention NCO call to negotiate on my behalf. Most branches don’t work that way; we are apparently just lucky.

So no problem, since I know what I want for a reenlistment, I just need to get the retention NCO on the phone and see if he can figure out if what I want is possible.

Well there are a lot of people that the Army is looking for, it seems, and the current going theory is that if we can find the retention NCO we may just find everyone else playing cards with him in a cave in Afghanistan or perhaps drinking a Mai Tai in Cuba or something. Great guy, but very elusive.

I have a general mistrust of retention personnel. Retention is of the same breed as recruiters, and those are the people that got me into this mess in the first place. Retention also has a nasty habit of disappearing as soon as they sense that they are needed. It’s something of a reverse Bat Signal: we flip the switch to the spotlight and all throughout Gotham you will not find anyone in the retention branch. This happened to me last time I bit the bullet as well, though with a different retention NCO, so I am not all that shocked.

The deal here, however, is that I am in the midst of several choices, though really they are out of my hands now. I am supposed to have a class date in mid-August. However, the Brigade has recently said “Oops… so we signed off on you being able to go back in April, actually earlier, but yeah, we forgot and now have no money…” My command is working hard to get them to run a bake sale or something, but we shall see. Should I get the course, I will figure out how to communicate my request before my branch manager can hang up on me and reenlist prior to departure. Should the unit decide I will go to the October (read: new fiscal year) class, I will wait until the class can confirm the new date (which the battalion would have to move for me) and until I have orders stating that they have already approved my funding before I then figure out how to reenlist. Should both of those options fall through, well, it’s open season and I can either try to find a good assignment without reenlistment or just wait for the crap shoot in the fall and then get out of the Army if I don’t like where she puts me. I already reenlisted once for this course; no way am I enough of a sucker to do it twice.

One might think that the Army doesn’t care enough about one Soldier to figure out that the Soldier is too bitter to reenlist after they get screwed over one too many times. That one would be thinking incorrectly. Mid-level retainable personnel such as myself are not very common, so there is a little more going for them than normal to get me on the books. One class confirmed for funding, and it’s good for them, and they know it. The ball is in their court.

Plus, they can use the opportunity to find my retention NCO, break up the card game, and after all this time we will know what actually happened to Bin Laden, TuPac, and Elvis. Everyone wins!


My Big Fat Mouth

Filed under: — lana @ 6:44 am

So late in the week the phone rings and lo and behold, it is the first sergeant. I answer the phone and first thing out of his mouth is “Since when are you doing a ruck march on Tuesday?”

Now, I would like to point out that I scheduled the ruck march three weeks prior, on the day of the previous ruck march which was called off 5 kilometers early on account of one of the Bundeswehr not drinking water and having to be taken to the medics. For us, that just means we will all get a lecture later about heat safety. For the Bundeswehr, that means it is too hot and everyone has to come in from the rare German sunshine. In order to make it up to two people who did not get to complete their goal, I scheduled another march for a few weeks later. I let the training room clerk know, let the ones who had not finished know, let some of the Soldiers who had expressed a little interest in the last ruck march know, and let the first sergeant know in passing since really that is the training room clerk’s job. But she’s new and still scared of him, so I pass messages along.

So I received the phone call on Thursday and was less than surprised, because not a single person whom I had told wrote it down. By Friday it was clear that no one was going to be able to go. The company is a little on the short-staffed side, since most of the company came here together and therefore are now leaving together. I informed the first sergeant that was fine, I had to go anyway because several military police are going.

This is when I realized I had a big mouth. Actually, I already knew it, but usually casually forget until someone reminds me. My first sergeant is usually that person. It’s something of a hobby of his.

My first sergeant periodically peruses my little memoirs. I like to think that it is so he can tell me before something gets me slapped down by higher authorities, but really I think it’s so he can keep tabs on my stupidity and make fun of me for it later.

Such was the case this time. He didn’t really care much about any of the logistics or the ruck march or much of anything (having answered my question of “Oh, you’re here today?” with “Well, physically, sure…”), but he sure wanted to make sure that I was not actively participating in the ruck march.

This time, I am not only allowed to ruck with the appropriate weight, but I am not allowed to ruck with just water. I will not ruck without a bag at all. I will not walk any portion of the course. I will not ruck from a house. I will not ruck with a mouse. I think I heard something about Green Eggs and Ham came at the end of his list of rules, but I may have misheard.

His theory is that he retires in about three months. Knowing me, he is well aware that I will do something stupid to myself between then and now that he will have to explain to the command. He is making every attempt to stop this from happening. I think this is one of the reasons he is not objecting too much to my course date in August, because at least if I know I am going to a course I will do fewer dumb things in order to not jeopardize my class. Plus, once in Arizona, I avoid the doctors because they have a nasty habit of freaking out and sending me to Walter Reed. But no matter how much I assured him that I would not do anything dumb (after four years, I no longer consider popping my ankle stupid, though it appears I am the only one on that), he maintained that unless I was on a bike or in one of the Bundeswehr trucks I would not be anywhere on that trail. And that order will stand for the next four months.

So I will still go out there on Tuesday. I just invested about 300 dollars in various things (way more than that over the past three years) for the Bundeswehr, so I may actually belong to their unit by now and should really make sure I am present for their training. Technically, since I have been avoiding doctors for a few months now in order to postpone my MRI as promised for the course, my profile is expired and I can do what I like at pace and distance. But it is either listen to him or keep my big mouth shut, so I am just going to go with the easier of the two for now and listen. Plus, he is not above checking me for blisters when I see him next Thursday, so I may as well save the drama and the couseling statements and sit this one out.

But come November, it is on. I do, after all, have 250 kilometers in the Sahara to start training for…


Charlie Don’t Surf…

Filed under: — lana @ 1:03 pm

… and Hajji Don’t Ski.

Observations made while jibber-jabbering in the midst of catching up on work.

While Charlie Don’t Surf is one of the most famous lines from the movie Apocalypse Now, today I happened to make the observation that Hajji Don’t Ski. The trail was convoluted, as most of my conversations are, but I just used the tumor excuse and my warrant let it slide. The details are inconsequential, what mattered was a new slogan was born in our office. It has replaced the “Fun Guerilla Retaliated” slogan for now, though those tee-shirts are still being made.

The theory already exists that we (the United States) will never go to full-on war with a country containing at least one established McDonalds. For instance, Russia was a total pain until they decided to throw the Golden Arches up by Red Square, and nevermore shall we point nuclear devices down their throats. General direction, who knows, but right down their throats is unlikely. Side note on that particular McDonalds, by the by, is that our tour guide said it was the first one in all of Russia. People waited for three hours, had a two burger limit, and were paying each other hundreds of dollars to get extra burgers. Anyway, so Russia, until the day they kick Ronald and his friends out, is pretty secure in their peaceful future with the United States. My theory is therefore to toss one up in Tehran, Mogadishu, and Pyongyang so I can officially go home and take a long nap.

But today we noted that despite the ski masks in Iraq, we never fought against the Iraqis that could actually ski. In Sulimaniyah and the nice, Kurdish, resort areas there are mountains and (former) ski resorts and all is well. The Arabs in the ski areas are also rather pleasant outside of Kurdistan. In Pakistan, local people didn’t get riled up until the Taliban moved into the Swat Valley and started taking the nice ski areas. People got mad and booted them back up to the higher elevations where the air isn’t good for skiing. This is more than coincidence, folks, this is a plan to victory you are smelling. Okay, that might in fact be napalm (which smells like victory, according to other movie quotes), but this is still a plan.

Now it is true, I avoid sports where things are strapped to my feet, to include skiing. I have tried, and have found I am simply too clumsy for such adventures. However, it appears that with a few more McDonalds and more ski lifts, we might just be able to solve some of the bigger world problems.

And as a disclaimer, yes, I know that Hajji is a respectful term that is used for one that has made the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and that Hajji and Terrorist are not synonyms. I also know too many Big Macs will give you a heart attack and may not be the total way for peace. But Charlie Don’t Surf still rings well years after the movie and long after “Charlie” became politically incorrect, so I maintain that for marketing reasons, “Hajji Don’t Ski” rings much better than “Radical-Islamic-Extremist-Insurgents-and-Terrorists Don’t Ski.” So please, bear with me, and don’t burn down an embassy should we make a tee-shirt. A burned embassy means no McDonalds. That’s the deal, folks. Take it or leave it.


No Bounds

Filed under: — lana @ 2:07 pm

My foolishness apparently knows no bounds.

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend of mine whom I last saw puttering around a tiny and rather terrible-smelling airport in the southern reaches of Russia. This was a few days after we had found the energy to mosey up the tallest mountain in Europe on a very windy day, take a photo, and wander back down. Since both of us had been so foolish as to do such a thing, it stands to reason that our chats would lead to other absurdities.

Lo and behold, this chat did. He is a doctor of sorts, so is aware that I should probably not go above around 5,000 meters until the doctors figure out what they want to do next with my brain. So I mentioned the idea I had a few weeks prior about running around in deserts for a week at a time. Whereas most people would say, “Gee! That sounds awful! Who would do that?” he said, “Well, this October is not so good, so let’s plan on 2010 instead.”

And so it begins. I have my sister nearly roped in, since this is an “ultra-marathon” and she is the marathon runner and is not to be outdone by her measly little sister who hates to run. I just have to get funding worked out by turning on my magical charms to find some sponsorships to fund the race fees (sponsors who really don’t care if we win, since even she said running would be dumb). I also plan to raise money for charity, probably for disabled veterans seeing as I am one. About as disabled in the brain as you can get, apparently, since I think running around for a week in the Sahara under the premise of a race is a fabulous idea. I hope Xenu is picking tasteful furniture for his apparent move into my frontal lobe…

Speaking of which, I know that Xenu is taking up plenty of space as evidenced by my self-assessed 70% chance of reenlistment. I think he made an insider trading agreement of sorts with the Army doctors when I was humming Foreigner songs to myself the other day and is now doing his best to get me to stay in. I really should pay more attention to the things he does before I end up banned from France or something.

Side note for those that don’t follow the news as much: as of May 2009 France has declared Scientology a cult - ahem, sorry, sect, though cult is also true - and is working on a ban because it uses fraud to get people to pay vast sums of money in order to move up in the ranks. There are days when I can honestly say I love the French. Not many, but there are days, and that is one of them. End side note.

So I find that these days I sit around most of the time, juggling bad ideas around in my head until one accidentally spits out of my mouth and I get others involved. By this time next year I might be a Sergeant First Class with another year or so on my contract training to hike 250 kilometers around a huge expanse of sand for absolutely no reason. The best part is that I know full well how silly each and every one of these ideas is, yet I persist and indeed commit to them.

All I can say to that is really to my friend and my sister and some of my fellow considering-reenlistment-Soldiers: I got Xenu. What’s your excuse?


Flying Solo (for now)

Filed under: — lana @ 10:39 am

I have mentioned previously that one of the things about the Army that takes getting used to is the fact that every few years you find that you have to make new friends (or, as in my case, just get another cat). The military is fluid: you move, others move. Basically, every so often the Army goes topsy-turvy and everyone gets jostled around like Lotto balls until you come out some chute at the end and wonder where your household goods are.

My last good, old (for the Army, about three years) friend is about to depart Germany for far-off lands where tequila presumably replaces beer in the diet. This is of critical importance, as someone should warn his new associates that tequila can make him a tad onery. But no matter, as he begins dumping unwanted items at my house in his rush to get out of here, for it all just means it is once again time for me to eerily hum “Just The Two Of Us” periodically at the cat.

This particular friend is my oldest one in Germany. We had both been in country a few weeks and decided to take a bus trip to Italy to get out and see some things. We were two of the only people traveling solo on the trip, and got jammed together in the bus seat when some sort of hooplah happened in Heidelberg when two ladies refused to get on the bus unless they could sit next to each other. The trip ended up being one of my favorite ones since I have been in Germany, including losing a girl in Florence on a quest for some Prada sunglasses and getting drunk on Lemoncello with a bunch of food inspectors on a boat back from Capri (where we all had at least two bowls of ice cream, and all maintain it may well be the best ice cream in the world). Since that trip, we have taken others, usually involving wandering mildly inebriated through various European cities and him, except for the brief stint where he was married (but most of that was while he was deployed anyway), trying to find lovely European ladies impressed by his car.

There were long periods where we didn’t talk much, with him having his own pilot social circles and me disappearing for a brain vacuum for a few months and all. But I still believe that the nine months I have left here once he departs are going to be the longest and dullest. I messed with the rotation; usually the Army keeps you in a place for around three years at a time. I stayed an extra year so now I deal with the consequences.

To be more accurate, my husband and my cat deal with the consequences. My husband gets his nightly phone call where I get to tell him all about the Nothing I do on weekends, and the cat gets tunes hummed in her general direction from time to time. The cat appears to take this fairly well, though I think the husband starts to worry when I mix up the two and start humming to him and talking to the cat.

Such is the Army life. Kicking around another reenlistment idea, waiting to do the paperwork for a school that still hangs by a thread since everyone always pleads denial when faced with their previous promises to pay for it, wondering what tomorrow might bring, and waiting to be reunited with old friends. Because you must understand that the Army is small for over a half million Soldiers; no matter where people go, sooner or later you end up finding them again.

So for now, I fly solo (the kitty makes a terrible co-pilot: too easily distracted by the lights). This time next year I will once again be in places full of old and new friends, hopefully within driving distance at least of my husband, and being a beer snob because nothing tastes European enough. I look forward to it, and am planning my last few vacations accordingly to finish off the few destinations within my dwindling budget. If I make more friends on those trips, so much the better, as it might mean that I don’t have to spend the entire time practicing my vocal techniques to a furry creature who would rather be napping on top of my shoes in the closet.

And if I don’t, hopefully I can at least come up with other songs to sing.


Road Marching (is) For Dummies

Filed under: — lana @ 1:35 pm

For the past three years I have taken it upon myself to organize joint events between my Company (and assorted others, since for some reason I can never get enough people from our limited personnel resources together at one time) and the German Bundeswehr. Usually it is fun days of guns, glory, and sometimes simulated assaults on Vietnam-looking forests.

Today, however, it was a road march.

There is what is called a German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, or GAFPB. I have no urge, nor a need, for one, but officers can wear it and ammunition for shooting expeditions is expensive. I therefore decided to take the time to try and help organize one for some of my company. The primary event in the GAFPB is a road march. Participants strap on a 25 pound or so rucksack and head out for various distances along German roads. The maximum is 30 kilometers for a men’s gold award.

I am not competing, as I prefer my German marksmanship award, so I said I would ruck with the people in the rear and provide a ground safety element. That meant start out with the slowest, who usually only ruck 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) and then catch up with and finish with the fastest, who usually ruck 30 kilometers (about 18 miles).

I decided at the last minute to wear trusty boots that have never given me blisters before. The furthest I have gone in them, which did not occur to me at the time, is 10 kilometers. They were not so trusty today. Thank goodness for safety pins and alcohol pads and not being too squeamish to spill my own fluids. But enough about that, particularly since not all are as un-squeamish (not really a word) as I.

The boots were the least of my problems. Oh, I went out with the people that do shorter marches and prodded one particularly demoralized Soldier who had been cajoled into the whole affair by his Special-Forces-Candidate-and-Supervising-Coporal to complete the minimum distance. But I traded bags with him at one point and discovered that he had a series of weights in the pack, one of which had slipped and jabbed you in the base of the spine every seven steps. I counted: seven every time. I did fix it for him by the time he reached his turn-around point at 10 kilometers, but have a bruise the size of Madagascar (and roughly the same shape, if sideways) on my lower back by now.

They slowed me down a bit, so I had to catch up to the other Soldiers who were now several kilometers ahead. I met the trail end of the party about 4 kilometers later and turned to walk back with them.

I was at kilometer 18 when I realized that my foot was not in its socket, probably from the three times I had rolled it over the course of the march. The boots I wore, as I then recalled from the last time I had marched in them, are not as strong in the ankle as my new ones.

This is when common sense set in and when a Bundeswehr truck rolled by I hopped in for a lift forwards a bit. He schlepped me about 6 kilometers until we came upon my warrant officer, who is not quite used to physical training these days and was trying to figure out how to avoid throwing up, or at least how to avoid getting caught throwing up and put on a truck for dehydration. I hopped back out and opted to ruck the last 4 kilometers with him, common sense left behind once again as is my way.

I rolled my ankle again, which had the benefit of popping my foot back where it belonged, though my surprised and happy comment about such was met with my warrant officer asking me not to talk anymore as I was hurting his brain and that he now had confirmed I was, in fact, an idiot. He then almost threw up, so I wandered ahead to wait for him at the top of that hill. I made it, pestering him and humming Journey tunes, until about half a kilometer from the finish line when another Bundeswehr truck passed, which he stopped and asked them to take me again. They did.

My feet are now elevated, I took medication for my head and shoulders and legs and toes, and iced my bruised back. Everything is back in order.

That return to order includes my final dumb move of the day, which was to agree to do this all again in about three weeks.

I figure next time, I will wear my other boots and be just fine. My warrant figures that maybe next time I will realize the error of my ways.

How little he knows me…


The Problem With Germans

Filed under: — lana @ 12:26 pm

I think I figured out the problem with Germans today:

It is impossible for them to play a reasonable game of Scrabble. This has clearly driven them insane.

There is a word posted at our front gate, and most gates to various national and international bases in the country, that I maintain should not be posted at the location because people will get into car accidents trying to read it. I counted it at 23 letters. Impossible to fit on a Scrabble board. Most of their long words are combinations of shorter words, so it is possible to spell in seven or eight letter incremental add-ons, but the board is just plain not big enough, nor are there enough letters. Particularly the “V”. Germans like those, as well as “S”, “Y”, and “F”. “Q” will still have to sit this one out and have to wait for the Arabic version.

Today I was editing a report which involved an open meeting which was quite possibly over 30 letters long. One would have to tape together multiple Scrabble boards in order to even attempt to build the thing. Put it on a triple word score and it may as well be game over, especially given the “V”s and “Z”s.

My local national regularly amuses himself on our long car rides to various locations by talking to me about inane topics, and frequently translates portions of our conversation into German. I am unsure yet if this is for his general amusement or my general torture, though I am beginning to suspect the latter. His favorite part is to say something in English regarding an agency or some military event or some such and then say, “In German, the so-called…” and then insert random syllables of umlauts and grunts. He then, no matter how often this happens, mistakes my pained look for questioning confusion and repeats himself slowly, as though encouraging me to learn whatever word it is that I would have no reason to ever use in a sentence again. I usually interrupt him about halfway through the word (about 6 syllables or so) to tell him I really don’t care and to just continue on before I forget what we were talking about in the first place.

He finds this insanely funny, and will then tell other Germans that we meet about it. I have told him that this is how wars start, but he never listens. Yesterday, luckily, the person he was trying to tell was more interested in telling me all about a previous deployment he had with my local national years ago, when my local national (a marathon runner) decided to ask to run up the side of a mountain outside of the safe areas as “A birthday present.” The scariest part was that his command let him. He still defends it to this day, though I pointed out it would be like me telling my team leader that I wanted to head to Fallujah from Baghdad and saying, “Nah, don’t mind me, I’ll just walk.”

Clearly, he is a man in need of a Scrabble set for his birthday this year.


Back in Action

Filed under: — lana @ 12:51 pm

Okay, right. So turns out when you are getting something for free, a recession really might put a cramp in your style when the free-ness makes no money and goes bankrupt. And when that free-ness is, say, a blog taking up server space, sometimes there is unexpected down time when bankrupt happens.

But my loving and compassionate friends who know WAY more about computers than I do (and actually make use of their very expensive educations instead of running off to join the military like i did) got it all fixed, so back in action now. As soon as I am less lazy (and have not the 14 hour day that I had today) I will update with the notes I took over the past month or so, backdating accordingly.

For now, though, the cat is trying to eat my dinner, so updates are for later while I save my meal. She’s like the privates: give her a taste of something good once, she wants it all the time and whines until she gets it. This is why I never feed the Soldiers corned beef…


Borderline Tolerance

Filed under: — lana @ 10:42 am

A few weeks back my Soldiers and I were doing some physical training. This 0600 adventure consisted of a short run and upon return they did various arm and abdominal exercises. Granted, the arm and abdominal exercises were not exactly conventional nor were they particularly easy, but I have a nasty tendency to take out my boredom on those unfortunate enough to become my Soldiers.

One of my Soldiers likes to think of himself as old. I admit, he looks old. In his late 30’s, he tends to be the epitome of the age-old question “Why the hell did you join the military?” because he looks to be about 50, hates doing anything tactical, is extremely anti-social, and is apparently way closer to death than any of us expected.

I found out that morning as I led them through what is almost a standard physical training session. Run out to one of the further aircraft hangars and back, do push-up drills which are complicated to explain and harder to accomplish, alternate with some abdominal exercises until you finish the drills, then finish with 100 sit-ups. It was actually a pretty easy day, because I was tired.

The Old Guy, as he is known around the base, apparently nearly had a heart attack. He sat down to do his sit-ups (several minutes behind the rest of us) and just sat there. He attempted to do one and got very pale. More out of concern for the clean-up it would necessitate should he get sick, I gave him a sick call slip and sent him off to the health clinic where he could get his breath back standing in line with the (on average) 47 other Soldiers who couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t-want-to do training that morning.

That day, he came back with an appointment with a pulminary specialist and a note from the doctor that said he was to do physical training at own tolerance. I asked for some clarification, because this is one I have never seen before. My Soldier then explained that the doctor was concerned that enough blood wasn’t getting to my Soldier’s brain during physical training. I became concerned, because I had previously been under the assumption that my Soldier either didn’t have or didn’t use his brain at all, so this meant I would have to revamp my Standard Operating Procedures and that takes a lot of time that I didn’t have at the moment.

I pointed out to him that I would hate for me to be the cause of death for the final group of steadfast braincells that were keeping him walking and breathing, despite the others having long since abandoned ship, so I sent him off to his appointments. He came back and said his next appointment was in a month. I asked for his new profile, anything in writing, that told me what he could do until then. As usual, he had forgotten to ask for one, so back he went. This time, he came back with every option for any type of military physical activity checked “No” and a further reminder that I should only have him do any and all activities within his tolerance. He then wandered off to have a Snickers bar for lunch and gave a condescending look when I reminded him that he is on the overweight program already and would have to watch his nutrition until his heart problem was sorted. His mind almost boggled when I asked him to find a different cardiologist so he could get a full heart exam done within a month, the apparent trauma resulting in his taking another three hours to write a two-page report that read like a fifth grade German was writing an essay in English on what he did for his summer vacation.

I am considering going to this doctor to ask if I can get a profile for myself of a similar nature. While I can still do physical training, as always within my limitations, I actually want one for my sanity:

Exposure to Soldier Stupidity at patient’s own tolerance.



Filed under: — lana @ 11:13 am

A somewhat rare non-military related special news flash:

Steve Jobs, despite his need for a new liver and all that unfortunate business, is nevertheless a Commie. McCarthy, where are you when we need you?

For the non-timeless nature of this and the fact that not everyone is a nerd who knows who Steve Jobs is, a quick reminder: he is the current innovation of Apple Computers and all of it’s smaller, lucrative, very expensive, techno-geeky offshoots.

While most of what Apple does seems like standard capitalism and a general pro-democratic nature, I point out:

1) People wait in line forever to get his products, as though hoping for that last hunk of bread.
2) When the bread… er… iPhones or whatever gadget runs out, there have been riots.
3) The smaller gizmos are priced for “everyone,” much like the little car the ol’ Union (Soviet type) was going to give to each family. Small and compact and may not fit every need, but everyone can have one!
4) When that small gizmo breaks down, you are all on your own. While surely there are people working at the sweatshop/helpdesk which is probably outsourced to gulags/India, for some reason they just can’t help you now and you haven’t the know-how to fix it on your own because the technology is closely guarded by paramilitary forces/company nerds.

There are other things, but the point is that Jobs and his CACP (translates from Cyrillic to UASR, Union of Apple Socialist Republics) are a bunch of Commies.

I have a tendency to hang onto things forever. For instance, much to the repeated and very vocal dismay of a fashionista friend from Miami, I still own and wear clothes I probably bought in college. I am not really a packrat; I get rid of things for which I have no use. I just always tend to find a use for everything for a very long time.

This comes in handy when you are a Soldier. When people lose things, I usually have an extra one laying around to lend for a field exercise or a course. Given that the Army changes its mind about standard uniforms and equipment every few years, I am almost at the point where I might be able to stand up a small army of my own.

For expensive knick-knacks, however, such as music players and the like, this becomes all the more heartbreaking when something breaks down. When an old tee-shirt finally hits the dust rag pile, I get another. When it’s the tiny music player I wear in order to maintain my sanity when dealing with Soldiers at 0600 in the morning, it’s a whole new ballgame. I have done it for so long that I now have no idea how to cope with having to listen to them for an hour babbling about “this hurts” and “but I don’t like running four miles” and “are you mad at me today because this isn’t fun.” It has now become a crisis, and as it turns out, a crisis of expensive proportions.

This is where Steve Jobs comes in. I own, naturally, one of the older generations of this particular player. A new one from Apple (via the Post Exchange) would cost about 50 dollars. To send mine in for repair, with shipping, would cost 80 dollars. “I am no dummy,” I say to myself prematurely, and find one on an online auction site for 25 dollars. I feel empowered. To celebrate, I order sweet new headphones that hook the player to the back of your head, eliminating wires and fitting nicely under an authorized physical training hat to avoid flagrant uniform violations.

I had the player and the headphones for less than two weeks when my other player magically decided to work again. This is when I realized that since I had skirted the system by purchasing the player from a third party, Steve Jobs was upset and used his Communist and God-Like powers to start up the old one. He knew, in his omniscient way, that I could not return this new player which still smelled of packaging (and a little bit like sweat, since I had used it about twice), and would now be forced to suffer as only those purchasing from a third party auction site can suffer.

Actually, it was because I had not thought that it was the charger causing all of the problems with the old one. It was. But still, I blame it on Dear Leader (may as well bring North Korea in, too) Jobs because there was no free help function that would have given me an inkling… three flashing orange lights, got it, but four? Reset doesn’t work? Sorry, send in for repair, along with your 80 dollars, or buy a new one, since your year warranty is up and you can’t even get phone support anymore (cue evil laughter).

I maintain that they are saving a spot for him in Moscow next to Lenin in Red Square so all the Japanese tourists can line up for three hours only to be told at the door that they can’t take photos and have to go turn in their cameras at the Kremlin coat room, though sorry even though it’s a random Thursday the Kremlin is inexplicably closed so someone will have to stand outside with your cameras because we must preserve both Lenin and Jobs the way they were in life.

But I sold the new one to my warrant for 20 bucks and a sandwich and still don’t have to listen to my Soldiers whine, so we are back to Cold War status as I wait for my main MP3 player to die next… the spin wheel is on its last legs. Time to go put on my college sweatshirt and sit at my computer hoping it makes it long enough to backup all of the music.


Out Of Funds

Filed under: — lana @ 12:18 pm

Getting up on almost three months ago I had an MRI adventure. It involved multiple needles, medication, and attempting not to dislocate my shoulder while being crammed into an MRI machine with my arm awkwardly shoved halfway around my own neck.

About the only thing that would have made that day less convenient would have been getting up at 0300 to navigate the construction zones on the Autobahn to make it to Landstuhl in time to be shot up with needles, take my medication, and attempt not to dislocate my shoulder. Presumably in order to keep my anger management problems in check, my First Sergeant and doctor both agreed that sending me along the night before would be a good idea. I found a hotel room on a nearby base for 35 dollars, and the Army would supplement some food, convenience, and possible gas charges. Overall, I think my First Sergeant submitted the total bill for roughly 150 dollars.

It has been kicked back three times before today because the doctor wrote a memorandum justifying my need to go the night before instead of sending an appointment slip. This was not a familiar concept to those in our movement section, so it took several attempts at explanation before they agreed that the memo actually provided them with more information anyway. They agreed roughly a month ago to authorize payment.

Today I got a message from those great guys at movement again. It said, direct [mostly] quote:

Your Authorization was stamped RETURNED by [Name of same guy who didn't understand a memo for six weeks]. Travel authorization number CANNOT be completed because: [your ever charming unit] is out of FY 09 funding.

I have long since paid the 35 dollars on my government card, and had packed a sandwich from home that day anyway because my unit is notorious for delayed payments. The money did not bother me, though it terrified me because I am once again confirmed for a class date in August and there is already confusion and denials about who is going to fund the trip. If they cannot scrounge up 150 dollars for me to dislocate my shoulder and check on Xenu, how on Earth are they going to afford the one thing that might keep me in the military?

These are the great mysteries that I sleep soundly through at night. It’s nice not to really care anymore…


Dumb Idea #873

Filed under: — lana @ 7:48 am

I get a lot of dumb ideas. I doubt many would argue that, so not much point in justifying it with examples. Better to just accept it as truth and move on with my life, trying to identify when an idea might just be too dumb even for me.

That particular point, the identification and thus getting rid of the dumb idea, is where the malfunction appears to be. I should really talk to the brain doctors about it whenever I have confirmation of my next class date so I am no longer afraid to get my head examined again…

Moving on, so yesterday I happened to come across an ultra-marathon website.

I hate running. I do it, and I don’t usually mind it when I am doing it for about the first ten minutes, then I always get bored and start thinking about the things I would rather be doing at that particular moment. The time passes in that way, but it isn’t a particularly fun way to spend my mornings.

Then I read that a lot of people WALK most of these ultra-marathons. Well, I can walk forever and never get bored. I have no idea why, but will blame it on Xenu for now so I can move on to other topics. This concept of walking 250 kilometers across four of the major deserts in the world seemed like a fabulous idea.

I mentioned it to my warrant. He said that it was the dumbest thing he had ever heard. I mentioned it to my husband. He asked why I wanted to pay money to see a lot of sand, and informed me that I was an idiot. I don’t know why I bothered to mention it to my first sergeant, since all he did was call me a fool and move on. My sister is about the only one who thought it sounded neat, but she actually runs marathons so I think she’s out of her mind.

I have a feeling that I am somehow going to do this sooner or later, at least one of the deserts if not all four. I have been banned from high altitudes for the time being until the doctors can figure out how dumb it is for me to go above 5,000 meters or so. They fail to realize that usually means I will be more inclined to try it anyway.

I will nurse this dumb idea; I will coddle it and love it until I can figure out how to raise the money to actually do it. I almost feel that things like this are expected of me at this point, and I would certainly hate to disappoint.


Don’t Make Any Plans

Filed under: — lana @ 10:07 am

One of the first things they teach you at these little non-commissioned officer schools is the concept of backwards planning. You find out where you need to be and when, then work backwards to figure out how to get there and all of the time until you get to something inane like what time to wake up. Everyone in the human race does this in some sense or another, consciously or otherwise.

Which only stands to prove that Big Army is not human.

Big Army seems to do forward planning. Many days, it seems like no planning at all, or perhaps reaction planning when they realize something was supposed to be done last week.

Hypothetical situation, a unit faces a small, short-term deployment. Under normal circumstances, very easy. When do they have to be there? What equipment do they need to bring and how can it get there? How long will it take to move the equipment and the Soldiers? How long will train-up take? All leading back to when does the Operations Order giving them the direction to move get published and previous orders.

The Operations Order, OPORD, is the lifeblood of the Army. Without it, nothing would happen and everyone would sit around twiddling their thumbs and staring at each other. Since I know enough people paid to do that already, it would be a travesty if OPORDs ceased to be. They are what tells a unit to get up and go and how to get there. They tell them what needs to happen and who needs to do what to whom to make it so.

That is, unless someone forgot to backward plan so the OPORD shows up a week after the first items should have already been completed. Those items will still be listed there, clear as day with the “done by” date, which was typed in with precision and gusto by some training shop clerk who is probably embittered that they are stuck in the training shop instead of doing whatever it is they came into the Army to do but now figures “What the hell, may as well do what I can here” and ensures that everything goes into the OPORD exactly as the Commander whispers it into his ear, and which was also a week ago but he didn’t think he should point that out to the Commander.

When things show up overdue in an OPORD, panic tends to ensure. For me, that involves a phone call at some random hour with a midly panicked officer on the other end trying to figure out how to fulfill every obligation on an OPROD that should have been published three weeks prior. Luckily, my job bores me, so I tend not to get excited about much and just figure out how we can best help them. I usually also take the opportunity to get everyone else spun up by making requests with short deadlines with full knowledge that the request probably will not be fulfilled in time. It’s becoming almost a hobby, since I have been working with aviation recently and no pilot plans more than a day in advance. This apparently carries through all the way to whatever mystic Army Pilot In The Sky that controls their orders, because every day we reinvent the wheel as something new pops up that should have been taken care of yesterday.

So while I sat through several classes all about the training cycle and backwards planning and predicting contingencies and all that rot, all it seems to have done is ensured I get up on time for work.

Once I get up, though, everything is subject to change.


Pretty Objects

Filed under: — lana @ 12:01 pm

Warrant officers can be amazing creatures. They are supposed to be technical experts… eventually… and appear to spend most of their time getting to that expert status daydreaming and finding other ways to occupy their time. This may, in fact, be what they are becoming expert at, I am not sure. I cannot become a warrant myself because I was told I cannot be forced to road march for 10 kilometers. This is because I have a doctor signature saying it is at the very least strongly advised against. They denied my waiver exactly one month after I completed my most recent 10 kilometer road march. They said that while I could do it, they could not force me to do it, and it was called a “forced road march” on the description of the activity, so I was counted out.

But I digress. If warrant officers are in fact trying to become technical experts at finding other ways to occupy their time, someone really ought consider the promotion status of some of the people I work with.

Just today I was sitting in my office and yelled a question to a nearby warrant officer, who sits around the corner. He yelled back an answer, but I had the window open and could not hear him over the roar of American muscle cars passing by. I yelled again to tell him I couldn’t hear him, but didn’t catch his response. Finally, when the light turned red outside, I mentioned offhand that we should just get some cups and string.

While prior to my interruption he had presumably been happily wandering his way around unrelated sites on the interwebs, this comment spurned action and motivation such as I have rarely seen in the Army.

His first quest was for cups. He found some, questioned if that was sugar or crystalized milk in one, and decided it was good enough. They were the last two disposable cups we had laying around, so he figured it was all meant to be.

He then tore apart the office looking for 5-50 cord, a strong and common rope used in the Army. I had just brought my coil home, so there was none. He went to another office to get some. No luck there, so he returned to continue turning our supply room upside-down in his quest.

He decided he would not rest until we had adequate means of communication via cups and string.

Actually, it turned out he would not rest until he either set up our new communications system or until he realized that a light bulb had burned out in my office. Whichever came first.

While looking for string, he came across a bulb. He observed that one of mine had burned out. Fascinated, he immediately stood on my desk and tried to install the light, which he could not get to work. In his mission, the cups fell from my desk where he had absently left them and onto a chair, which he subsequently used to get down from my desk while shaking the bulb to determine if it was the socket, the bulb, or him that was not quite functioning properly. When getting down, he stepped on the cups, breaking the last two potential earpieces that would not require a trip to the shoppette across the road.

He was devastated, having broken the cups and me still sitting in the partial darkness, until I handed him a Rubix Cube he had left in my office some days before and sent him back to his desk. I even had the forethought to ask him my question when I could hear a response before I left him there.

I am going to talk to the command about him getting promoted in advance. He is clearly ready.



Filed under: — lana @ 12:20 pm

All dumb people should have warning labels. Big, bright, easy-to-read warning labels printed right on their foreheads so when I approach them I know exactly what I am in for.

They don’t have to worry about discrimination. People still buy cigarettes despite those warning labels being on the package for many years. Then again, I don’t see how someone could be chemically addicted to talking to the clinically dumb.

Today I had to explain to one of my Soldiers exactly why he couldn’t wear his windbreaker out if he was going to talk to anyone outside our office. Really, he couldn’t wear it if he was going to talk to me, either. I had to explain that anything that you would find printed on the mudflap for a commercial semi-truck is not something that should be emblazoned on the sleeve of someone who claims to be a professional and someone whom I am supposed to trust to talk to people well above his rank. He didn’t seem to get it. I kicked him out of my office and told him if he wants to talk to me further he will need to remove his jacket so I can talk to him without the image of two naked ladies sitting back-to-back staring from his sleeve. He seemed sad that I didn’t like his new jacket.

These warning labels may yet save society from the stupid. Or at least save me from putting my head through a wall…

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