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At least I've got my health. And the perfect girl to call mine. That's definitely a plus too.
Valentine's Day went extremely well. Erika loved the stuff I got her and she did pretty dang well for me too. I got her a nice little vase of red and white tulips, a card, the movie As Good As It Gets, and a book called The Da Vinci Legacy. She got me three Calvin & Hobbes books and a homemade card. Definitely a good day.
That brings me to... the rest of the story. Brace yourselves for some griping. I'll try to keep it as light-hearted as possible, but I'm in need of some serious sympathy for a change so humor me.
Remember a few weeks back how I was pretty much euphoric about the limited privileges I received for finally getting off the Dean's "graduation risk" list? I got Saturday night off-post privileges and a few passes to take on certain major weekends this semester. One thing I did not get was Sunday night privileges.
Because the tire on my car is STILL flat, I had no way of getting anywhere to run any errands on Saturday because everyone was gone and I was kinda sorta stuck here. Erika was out with some friends or I would have borrowed her Jeep. Not that this is her fault, not one bit, but that's why I couldn't get out. Well, that means I wasn't able to pick up any of the stuff I needed for today so I went out last night, Sunday, instead and took care of business.
Little did I know that my Tac Officer saw me at Wal-Mart. Not good. I wasn't supposed to be anywhere off post last night and now he's REALLY mad that I was. The odds of me having any kind of privileges anytime in the near future are practically zero. Perfect.
The ironic part of this is that our 6-weeks grades will be released in just a few days and I've been doing extremely well, relatively speaking. I mean, I've far exceeded both my and my Tac's expectations and I had planned to show him my grades and ask for a few more privileges, but now that doesn't matter. Right now I'm sitting on about a 3.2 for the semester which, as you all know, is better than I've done since like sophomore year of high school. It doesn't matter now because, and this is "angry pessimistic Tom" speaking, what little privileges I had are going to be revoked, I'll probably get a few dozen area tours to walk off, the ski trip for this weekend isn't going to happen, 100th night weekend is very much in jeopardy, and it's just not cool at all. Oh, and my Tac, a man who likes me very much and has heaped laud and honor on me in the past, is now under the impression that I'm one to sneak around behind his back. Great.
Got some time on the area coming up.
On top of that is the massive amount of credit card debt I've managed to accrue over the last few months, mainly because of the friggin transmission on the Trooper, and I'm not proud to admit I've got nearly $6K outstanding to worry about. It's not irresponsibility causing this, either. Think about the last few months and what's been going on in my life during that time and then remember that my stock took a nose-dive and then all of a sudden I got blindsided with the $3K cost of nearly replacing the transmission on my car.
At least I don't live here.
The friggin stock market is driving me nuts too because I could sell what I own right now and walk away with nearly $10K, but I'd be selling at about a $4K loss. I could pay off all my debts and not have any other monetary issues to worry about, but I'd also miss out on the chance to make a ton of cash when the earnings reports of the company I own stock in are released on Feb 28. What to do what to do...???
Here's a good quote for you:
"Money isn't everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen." -Rita Davenport
It's going to be ok. I know that. It just sucks once in a long while, but you know what? Here's what I say to that:
I got a new coffee mug last night from El Hacienda Restaurant. It's great. It goes well with the one I got at Waffle House and the one I have with an Amish horse and buggy on it from the little town of Intercourse, PA. Seriously, the town's name is Intercourse.
Here are some pictures from the weekend.
My buddy Orange, one of my squad leaders from this past summer, on the area. That's him on the right.
Senorita Hillman also got stuck with walking the area. Apparently his Tac Officer thought he deserved 5 hours for not wearing the CDO arm-band when he was the Company Duty Officer last weekend. That's right, 5 hours for not wearing an arm-band. RETARDED.
These pictures are from Braden down at Ft. Bragg. The Joes in his platoon decided to mess with him just a bit so they jumped him, strapped him to a stretcher, and wrote all over their fearless Medical Platoon Leader.
Flexcuffs and orange markers??? They're gonna regret that.
I went to West Point! YAY!!!
YOU'VE BEEN OWNED.
Here's a video you should all check out. Yeah, it's huge, but take the time to download it. Trust me. If any of you question my motivation for switching to the Armored Cavalry after watching this, you're Communist.
ARMORED CAVALRY IN FALLUJAH
That's all I've got for now.
I know this is two days early, but I couldn't wait.
From the kids who brought you the "Happy Holidays Video", I give to you the latest from The Double Tree-O.
Valentine's Day Video
A Marine gets out of the Corps after Nam and lives his life like the American dream. When the War on Iraq comes around 40 plus years later, he goes down to the local recruiting station and tells the recruiter "I want in, I want to fight!"
The recruiter says, "Sorry Buddy, you're too old."
"Fine," the guy says. "I'll go to the Pentagon. I have a friend there. He'll let me in!" So he goes to the Pentagon and tells his friend,"I wanna fight!"
His friend says "Sorry Buddy, you're too old."
"Fine", the guy says. "I'll buy a boat and row to Iraq!"
He goes out and buys himself a rowboat and starts rowing to Iraq, chanting "Semper Fi, Do or Die, OO-Rah, OO-Rah!" over and over again!
St. Peter sees all this and goes to God and says, "Lord, what do I do to stop this guy?" God tells St. Peter, "Why don't you take his brain? It's the root of all thought."
St. Peter takes the guy's brain, but it doesn't faze him, "Semper Fi, Do or Die, OO-Rah, OO-Rah!" St. Peter then asks God, "Now what?!"
God replies, "Why don't you take his heart? It's the seat of all emotion." So St Peter takes it. Doesn't faze the guy. "Semper Fi, Do or Die, OO-Rah, OO-Rah!"
St. Peter says, "Now what should I do?" God smiles and says, "Take his balls."
So St. Peter takes the guy's balls. The guy stops rowing, looks confused, turns his boat around, and begins chanting, "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder..."
A few days ago someone commented on how little trouble I've gotten into lately (except for the 5 hours I walked for skipping the mandatory briefing everyone else skipped with me a few weeks ago) and it made me realize that I've managed to stay out of trouble for over 2 years now. Well, I haven't been caught doing anything too terribly stupid (ahem... sledding down the ski slope) by anyone of importance so here's to hoping it stays that way.
To commemorate this historic occasion, I've decided to tell the story of the water balloon launcher.
During plebe year you don't get out much especially when you're in trouble for having your 21st birthday party on post and you've been awarded 80 hours to walk and zero privileges. To remedy this incredible amount of boredom, instead of studying, I cooked up the crazy idea of launching water balloons from my barracks rooftop into Central Area almost 200 meters away. Remember, I'm the smartest man alive.
I had acquired a water balloon launcher in high school and it had been sitting at my house since I left home so I had my parents mail it to me. The day it got here I called Eddo and Jason and we went up on the roof of Sherman Barracks with some oranges to test it out.
That's Jason with the blonde hair. Ed's the brunette. Clearly, I'm the dude in the back.
I brought my cell phone with me and called my buddy Jordan in Ike Barracks who had a window view of the entire Central Area and we truly were, at least that night, a Field Artillery unit complete with a forward observer to adjust fire. Beautiful.
We weren't exactly sure what kind of damage an orange traveling at close to 150 mph could do to someone so Jordan made sure the area was empty before we let one fly. We finally got the "all clear" from our FO so we got the launcher all set up and stretched out. I pulled that bad boy about 15 feet back until Jason and Ed were about to fall over from the tension on the bands and when I let it go... wow.
Have you ever had a perfect tee shot on a golf course where the ball just kept going up, and up, and up, and... up some more as it sailed downrange? That's how this was. That orange just kept going up but eventually started to arc back down and when it disappeared behind the barracks we were shooting over we all looked at each other and started laughing hysterically. "WE MADE IT!!! WE MADE IT!!! HOLY $#!% WE MADE IT!!! Quick, get another one!!! Hurry!!!"
Later on we found some water balloons which meant we could shoot at people and a new form of entertainment was born.
We must have shot a solid 750 balloons with that thing. Seriously. Every chance we'd get, even after we became yearlings, we'd go up the fire escape of any given barracks building to get on the roof and either shoot at people we could see or, using my cell phone, call a buddy with "eyes on the target" to adjust fire for us if needed.
The pep rallys were the best. Wow. I mean, wow. A huge crowd of people all packed in shoulder to shoulder and back to front??? To quote the movie Top Gun, "This is what I call a target rich environment." You couldn't fire without knocking over at least one person and usually we'd get more than that.
Cruel? Insensitive? Terrifically entertaining? ABSOLUTELY.
We'd shoot 20 or 25 balloons, never from the same place twice in one night, and move to another area so that anyone looking for us wouldn't know where we had gone. My days in the FA taught me at least that much.
We never got caught because we'd always shoot over at least one building so "they" couldn't tell where the balloons were coming from. One night we had 6 officers standing in Central Area staring at the wrong building for 30 minutes trying to figure out which window these balloons were coming from, but they never even thought to check the building behind the one they were looking at. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold, these officers standing in Central Area with their arms across their chests staring intently at the windows of Bradley Long all the while dodging water balloons raining down on them from Sherman Barracks at 150 mph.
Shoot and move, shoot and move...
That concept worked beautifully for months, but we got greedy one night and stayed in one place too long. The way we finally got caught was when Ed and I thought it would be a great idea to shoot at the poor plebes on interior guard on Saturday nights. They were perfect targets because at the time they weren't allowed to move except to check the ID of someone trying to get in the barracks and they just friggin stood in one place for 2 hours at a time. Heartless? Yes. Extremely entertaining? Uh, yes. Great idea, right? Not exactly.
Here's the Cadet Observation Report (COR) that was written on us by the Cadet Brigade Sergeant Major, one Keith Benedict. A sweet sweet dude.
I walked 10 hours for that, but it was worth it from the 50 or more times we didn't get caught. I never did get my precious launcher back and have since not fired a single balloon at anyone. Call me a quitter, but walking hours on the area gets kind of old after awhile, you know? One "Century Club" patch is enough for me.
So there you have it. The water balloon launcher story.
February 8th 7:00 PM
Gotta love zoomies with nothing better to do than this. Friggin' hilarious.
Ever seen that movie The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long? Great great flick.
"Here lies Tom Martin. He bought a car. And it killed him."
That should give you a rather solid understanding of what it's like owning this Trooper. I'm not trillions of dollars in debt, but it's getting there. It's not even the money so much as it is little headaches here and there. And by little headaches I mean having to unexpectedly drop $3K for a newer transmission I hadn't planned on having to pay for. Or having to deal with a hole in the exhaust that makes the truck sound like an M-1 Tank. Or having to listen to only CDs because a tree attacked the antennae and snapped it off this summer. Or having to look at the terrific dent in the front bumper from where someone gave me a hit and run. Spectacular.
I discovered the newest headache last night when I was going to move my truck from Dentac to C lot. A flat tire! No problem, right? I've changed millions and billions of flat tires and I've got it under control, right? Yep.
See, of the 5 lug-nuts on each wheel one is special in that you have to have a special adapter that connects the tire iron to the lug so you can get it off. That way no one can steal your wheels. There's only one adapter in the car and if you lose it you're screwed because there's absolutely no way to get the lug off without it and that means you can't change the tire.
Guess what? The adapter is gone. Brilliant.
In other news, I took two History WPRs today and smoked em both.
I'm the smartest man alive. Never forget that. Ever.
And no, you still can't borrow my car. Stop asking.
This is one of those little moments in life where I've come to a cross-roads and I've decided to take a different route.
The Army has offered those of us who didn't get our first choice of branch earlier this year a second chance to get it if we pledge more time to our commitment after graduation. This would mean instead of being a Field Artillery Officer I'd get my other choice. I'm taking them up on the offer and I've told the Army G-1 (a 3-star general who works in The Pentagon) that I'd do an extra 36 months of active service if he'd allow me to wear this insignia on my collar:
Clank clank, I'm a tank.
Very soon... AI-EE-YAH!!!
I want to be on tanks. I need to be on tanks. I will be on tanks. Get some.
In other news, the Trooper is finally fixed. Three thousand dollars and a serious headache later I can drive my baby again. Now the only thing I've got to worry about is the steering alignment, new tires, wheel balance, a small hole in the exhaust manifold, squeaky brakes, crunched bumper, an oil change, and um... I guess that's it for now. Noooo problem.
I got an email today from a guy named Peter in Sydney, Australia. He collects military uniforms and stumbled on my site while looking for some on Ebay. Apparently if you do a Google search for "West Point" and "Long Overcoat" my website comes up as one of the most popular returns. Incredible. I'm on Google.
Erika and I went hunting for ski clothes again this weekend and found some nice gloves and pants for her at Campmor down in Paramus, NJ. We took the Trooper and even with the loud exhaust (it's not horrifically loud, but close) it ran great all the way to NJ and back.
On the way back we tried to get to the top of Bull Hill to see the Catskills, but the packed snow and steepness was too much for the Trooper. We got a couple hundred feet up the trail, but even in 4X4 Low I couldn't make it.
Those tracks are from the Trooper and they don't go much further than where I'm standing.
We still got a good picture of the two of us in the woods.
Random people ice fishing.
That's it for now. Oh yeah, I'm boycotting the Superbowl this year. GO BENGALS!!!
Groundhog Day. I love that movie.
I decided to get the Trooper fixed instead of trying to figure a way to sell it for scrap or attempt to trade it in as a down payment on a 2001 4-Runner. I spoke to the mechanic at Mr. Transmission in Vails Gate and he showed me exactly what was wrong inside my beloved beast. Here's a list and the total amount of what it's going to cost me to fix this thing.
Master Banner + Overhaul Kit; Paper & Rubber Gaskets, Seals, and Rings; Filter; Transmission Fluid; Bushing Kit; Epc Solenoid; 2 Shift Solenoids; Rear Seal; Survo Cover; 3rd Clutch Drum & Internal Parts; 2nd Clutch Drum & Internal Parts; Forward Sprag; Torque Converter; and 12 hours of Labor.
Grand total after all the discounts they hooked me up with? $3,340.50
I know exactly how and when it happened and no, I wasn't the one driving when it did, but I can't prove anything for certain so I can't make the people at fault pay up. I spoke to the kids who were driving it at the time and I hope they lose some sleep over this, but that's all I can really do.
Imagine a transmission becoming so hot because of excess friction that the metal on the different clutch plates was chemically altered. I mean, it got REAL hot. The transmission was slipping but the person driving kept revving the engine thinking it would help. It didn't, and all that friction from the slippage literally cooked the metal. There is a very short list of people (exactly four) I'll loan it out to from now on, but they all have vehicles of their own so I don't think I have to worry about that too much. If you need a ride I'll drive you anywhere you want to go, but no one borrows my car now unless I'm in it.
Not open to discussion.
On a lighter note, my stock (Interchange Corporation) is starting to pick back up and with us just a few short weeks from the release of the quarterly earnings reports I'm looking to be back in the green instead of $8K down. I'll actually be up more than a few thousand dollars very shortly.
Erika and I are still working out the details of our Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico and it's gonna rock. I mean, it's really going to be a phenomenal time and I promise you'll all be thinking "Aww... I wish MY spring break had been that incredible." Fact. No, you can't come with us.
1-15 October 2004
16-31 October 2004
1-15 November 2004
16-30 November 2004
1-15 January 2005
16-31 January 2005