Ha…falling behind already! Oh well…
I’m giving NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) a shot this year – where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It will inevitably turn out pretty crappy, but who cares?
I’ll be posting my daily progress (about 1667 words/day) here – let see where this goes…
The title is “Four Wheels and a Prayer.”
Figuring I should use up some of that free college money the government wants to give me for being a soldier, I started taking classes at the local technical college. The course of study? Photography, naturally…
OK, not really – but you know, everything is in “high definition” now (chicken-flavored ramen! now in HD!) so I figured I’d follow the trend.
My original deployment galleries were necessarily low quality, given my generally low bandwidth – uploading stuff on our satellite connection was even more painful than downloading. But now with my (HD!) cable, I can have better-looking images.
Without further ado…Midwest in the Mideast: The Photos.
Working for the Guard in a desk job is nice in many ways, but one of the primary disadvantages is that by being the guy who’s at his desk all the time, you become the door-man/bellboy/concierge/information desk person. A twist on that phenomenon is that because you wear the same uniform and/or unit patch as everyone else in the building, people commonly assume that you have some kind of ever-present hive mind connection to all other soldiers, to include location, schedule, and duty status.
Another ability that is often attributed to me is a comprehensive catalog of all soldiers in the brigade, so that I can identify any of them on sight, in or out of uniform. Apparently just the fact that you can locate the armory and have at least one working arm to open a door is authentication enough; I made it this far, SGT Delobius – now you figure out who I am!
This scenario has played out several times since the brigade returned from Iraq. Once, a middle-aged man walked in, with big round glasses and a receding hairline, and asked if one of our staff was around. I replied in the negative, and he approached, jovial as could be, and started jabbering at me. I just kind of smiled and nodded, wondering, “who the hell is this guy?” Then he asked if he could make a few phone calls. “Well,” I replied, trying to form a tactful construction of the phrase WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT, “are you a member of the National Guard or what?” “Oh, yeah!,” he beamed, grinning. “I’m Lieutenant so-and-so, just got back from Iraq. Blah blah blah…” Oh, well then…sorry I didn’t instantly recognize some random fucking lieutnenant in civilian clothes.
Another time, a pair of men – again, in civilian clothes – walked in, looking around like the S-3 office was the lobby of the damn Louvre. “Is LTC J around?,” one asked. Once again, I replied in the negative. “Oh, damn, we were hoping he was around.” I’m sure you were. One of the men – again, a dorky-looking balding guy with glasses – strode over to MSG Nuke’s desk and started gawking at his shit – in great detail and at close range – as if his desk contained artifacts of great wonder and value. It was a weirdly invasive gesture and once again, I found myself struggling to not blurt out WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT YOU NOSY ASSHOLE? Instead, I said, “So, what was your name again, sir?,” with the “sir” tacked on at the end because I was making a good bet that the guy was an officer. “Oh, I’m Captain Whatever…I’m working on an investigation for LTC J.” Oh, well, nice to meet you then, and glad to see that my “Detector, Officer, M3A1” is working perfectly.
The latest incident was much more succinct: a tall man in a baseball cap and about five days’ beard growth stepped in and bellowed, “Hey, is this where that mail is at?” I just stopped in mid-stride, probably with my mouth hanging open. “That mail”? What the hell are you talking about? Luckily, he recognized another guy in the office and was able to actually communicate with him, so I was relieved of the burden of figuring out who that guy was and what mail he was referring to, exactly.
The question that inevitably comes to mind in these situations is: why wouldn’t you introduce yourself when marching into an armory in civilian clothes and asking for stuff? It just seems like common courtesy, let alone military courtesy, to do so. Obviously, if the division commander or some other luminary rolled in, one might be expected to recognize that guy on sight, but Captain J. Random? This is the brigade headquarters – a captain’s just another face in the crowd around here. All it would take is a simple, “Hi, I’m CPT X, just got back from Iraq, working on this thing for this guy. Mind if I use your phone?” Not so hard, really. Or is that too much to ask?
Army Regulation 25-50, Preparing and Managing Correspondence, describes Army writing:
“Effective Army writing transmits a clear message in a single, rapid reading and is generally free of errors in
grammar, mechanics, and usage.”
Note the “generally free of errors.”
As such, budding officers need to be taught the finer points of Army writing, since commissioned officers seem to spend a significant part of their time writing memos and wordy emails and OPORDs that never quite work out as planned. The following is a sample of the writing that up-and-coming officer candidates are producing in our service schools, today.
I swear, I am not making this up.
Obviously, the Army has a lot of sensitive data on a lot of computers, and protecting that data can be a real challenge. You might not know it, but one of the best ways to protect sensitive data is to look at PowerPoint presentations! So this morning when I logged on to my computer, I read through a beautiful slide show that could be summed up by, “don’t let Afghan camel-traders steal USB thumb drives out of your TOC.”
And thank God I did, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have found this gem of an image.
The next segment of my magnum opus (oops, it’s numbered wrong…nevermind that!):
The bridge over the Mississipi River on 35W collapsed this evening. I drive on that bridge almost every day – but didn’t today, because the recent construction has made it a total mess of traffic. I wouldn’t have been on the bridge when it collapsed (at about 6:05 pm), but it’s creepy nonetheless.
EDIT: KARE 11’s site has this fascinating tidbit of information:
Phone picture from a SomethingAwful forum member.
EDIT: Video from CNN from a MNDOT traffic camera: