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January 14th

It worked.  My memorandum to LTC Paschal was approved and I'm taking pass this weekend.  Rock.  Here's a copy if you want to check it out.  The original has his and my chain of command's signatures on it.

Privileges Memorandum

Academics are back in full swing now and I'm pretty happy with my schedule and classes.  Erika and I are in LTC Arata's Diplomatic History of Europe class together and I'm just a bit excited about that.  My DMI classes are full of really good friends and it's gonna be a great semester.  I'm taking MS470: Military Strategy, MS360: Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, and MS498: Colloquium in Military Affairs. 

For any of the yearlings and possibly plebes that read this site, trust me when I say you should pick DMI as a major.  It's the most relevant set of classes you could take given the job you'll be doing upon graduation and the instructors are a lot of fun.  Think about it...  Why would you major in Nuclear Engineering or Philosophy or some other pointless area like that?  You attend the United States MILITARY Academy.  You'll be a 2LT leading "Joe" and he WILL NOT CARE how big of a geek you were in the Physics Department.  You might consider picking a major in the Department of MILITARY Instruction.  Just my opinion...

Here are a few pictures from when I visited Clay in Angleton, TX over Christmas Break.

Even with a cast from his wrist to above his elbow and no rear sights on the pistol he still managed to git 'er done.

 

Practicing for Haji and Al-Qaeda.

 

Clay's dad, Gary, had a black powder revolver we shot the hell out of.  That white smoke in the background is from just one shot.  Very cool.

 

This one is from a moment of complete randomness in Erika's room.  I asked her if she wanted to go to Grant Hall for dinner and when she didn't seem like she wanted to get dressed I offered, as a joke, to carry her there on my back with her feet in my pockets.  If you think this is a retarded picture, you're right, but it was funny to us and her roommate so whatever.

 

That's all for now. 

-Tom

 


 

January 12th

I'm on the verge of being granted a reprieve.  Today I had a chat with my Tac Officer, CPT Wooten, and he said he'd be willing to support my request for a few more privileges around here given how I did last semester.  Technically I'm still on academic restriction, but he said I could send a memorandum through my chain of command and through him to the Regimental Tactical Officer requesting a few more privileges like being able to take pass and off-post privileges on the weekends. 

Erika helped me write the memorandum (ok, so she was racked out while I was typing it up) and if any of her "smrts" rubbed off on me I should be pretty straight.  Ok, so she helped proofread it a little bit.  Actually, quite a lot. 

If everything goes well she and I will be headed down to NYC this weekend to check out Tir Na Nog, the greatest Irish Pub on the planet, the USS Intrepid, and some other stuff.  I'll let you know how that goes when we get back. 

In other news, you should watch this video the plebes in my company made.  I have no idea why Mr. Don "Peaches" Irwin decided to create this, but um... here you go.

"FLASH" THE VIDEO

There you have it.  That's all I've got for now. 

-Tom

 


 

January 11th 4:15 PM

I forgot something the first time I updated this today.  I found a random video clip from Halloween 2 years ago to share; I had deleted it by mistake, but I got a copy today and if you don't think it's funny you're a communist.

You'd think we were unsober when we did this, but I assure you that's not the case.  This is the product of 3 extremely bored yearlings stuck in the barracks on a Saturday night.  My roommate, Brent Slough, my good friend and roommate 2nd semester of that year, Josh Jones, and I somehow acquired a pumpkin some upperclassmen had made into a jack-o-lantern and we decided to get rid of it in a rather public way. 

That's me in the video running around Central Area with the pumpkin on my head and Josh is the one with the bat.  Brent was running the camera. 

Pumpkin Head

Just another glimpse of life as a cadet, or something.

-Tom

 


 

January 11th

Ok, I have to ask this question.  Who are you people?  It’s kind of cool knowing that all these different folks are checking out my site, but who are you?  If you click on the SiteMeter icon at the bottom of the homepage you can see what I see about you.  I mean, it’s cool that you’re looking at my site, really cool actually, but sign the guestbook or drop me a line or SOMETHING. 

 I see people from Indianapolis, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Washington DC, Lexington, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Berlin and Mannheim in Germany, and even someone in Singapore who regularly look at this site, not to mention all the people here at school and family elsewhere that check it out.  Just let me know who you are because it’s kind of creepy knowing all these random people are reading about my life, but I don’t know anything about them.  Yeah, that’s the point of this site, but you know what I'm trying to say.  Give me a holler, fokkers…

  

Classes this semester are gonna rock.  Here are a few quotes from some of my instructors to give you an idea of how things are going to be.

 “For those of you I’ve had before, you wouldn’t be in this class if I didn’t like you which pretty much guarantees you an A.”  -LTC Arata

 “Look, once upon a time I was a cadet too.  I understand that 2nd semester of your firstie year you don’t care about… anything.  I accept that.  I’m not BSing you about this; I’m not gonna try and change your minds.  So, having said that, all quizzes will be announced, the paper will be due before Spring Break, and if you stay awake and answer a question once in awhile you’re pretty much guaranteed an A for your instructor/participation grade.”  -CPT Turpin

  “The Dean has no authority in this class.  You can bring coffee, kick back, relax, start an argument, or do whatever you like as long it’s something concerning the army.  There will be no term end exam and we only meet every other class period.”  -MAJ Harvey

 “Does this class have a term end exam?”   “Not if you win the computer exercise at the end of the semester, no.”  -MAJ Hickey 

"Oh man...  Look at all you crazy bastards I have to deal with, and it's an afternoon class?!?  Damn.  And it's not like I can really intimidate you anyway.  I mean, you'll all probably be dead in a year so whatever, we're gonna have fun in here."  MAJ Hickey

“I don’t believe in teaching on the first day so we’re just gonna introduce ourselves and not much else today.  My commitment to the army expired… uh… 6 days ago and I’ll be a civilian at the end of the semester.  Welcome to Constitutional Law.”  -CPT Rhodes

Ahhh…  Finally a great semester of classes.  Rock n roll.

 -Tom

 

 


 

January 9th

Friday night we had our annual St. Barbara's Day Ball.  St. Barbara is the Patron Saint of the Field Artillery, and once a year all of the Redlegs in the entire US Army get together, normally at their respective O-club, to celebrate and have a reason to get dressed up and drink "Artillery Punch" out of a 105 millimeter howitzer shell casing, among other things. 

The punch was made up of 7 "charges" which represented the 7 sizes of powder charges you use with a 105 shell.  The ingredients were all hard liquors of some sort except for the champagne, and the final concoction was around 60 proof.  Some people were drinking it like water; you can imagine the results.  The picture above is of Captain Humphrey, in BDU's and a chemical suit, who was in charge of the group of guys who mixed the punch and also of Colonel Kolditz "testing" the mixture before we all had some.

 

 

Erika accompanied me and looked absolutely phenomenal.  Eddo, another dude who wisely chose Field Artillery, sat at the table with us.  We all had a great time, and Ed and I shared a real moment in front of the fireplace later in the evening.

 

Saturday morning we had a SAMI (white glove room inspection).  Josh, my new roommate for the semester, and I reaffirmed our continued disability to wake up early and do anything.  We stayed up for all of 5 minutes cleaning the night before after the St. Barbara's Day Ball and convinced ourselves we could wake up early to get the room ready for the big inspection.  Uh... yeah.  It definitely didn't happen that way, but we've had more than a couple of these inspections and we know how to get ready for one quick, fast, and in a hurry.

 

Tonight Erika and I ran some errands and did laundry in Highland Falls and then went to the Palisades Mall for dinner and a movie.  A generic date, I know, but we had fun.  We were seated immediately at the Outback, and saw the cinematic release of The Phantom of the Opera.  The Broadway show was much better, in my opinion, but this was still a rather powerful movie.  2 thumbs up. 

On the way home we stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a new rug for me.  You see, the old one is in 4 pieces now.  Thursday morning my chain of command told me the Commandant had recently "decreed" that rugs were no longer allowed.  I thought that was a bunch of crap, but I did the right thing and rolled it up to put away even though I was livid about doing so.  I've been looking forward to having a rug since I got here and yes, we had one 1st semester, but I wanted one this time too.  In my anger-fueled reaction to the situation, I made a doormat out of the old rug; I cut a 3X4 foot section out and let 2 other people do the same.  Yeah, GREAT idea.  20 minutes later I saw our Regimental Commander in the hallway and I asked him, just as another cadet and not the tool, I mean 6-bar captain, that he is, what was up with this new "no rugs" policy.  He told me I didn't have my facts straight and that he personally had a rug which he intended to keep until graduation.  I went back to my company and told them what he had said and they basically shrugged their shoulders and said "Well, sorry about that."  So now I have a rug in 4 pieces, 2 of which are in other people's rooms.  Not cool.  I've got a new one now.

That's all for now.

-Tom

 


 

January 6th

It snowed here yesterday for a long time, but turned into rain this morning so our plans to go sledding tonight were nixed because the powder is now covered by a sweet half inch layer of ice.  It's all good.  It reminded me of a story from last year. 

 

Last February I got the BRILLIANT idea to go sledding down the ski slope here on post.  For anyone who's been there, you know it's not that huge, but it's got a decently steep slope and about an 800 meter run.  Yeah, it's a really small hill to ski on, but it'd be AWESOME to go sledding on, right?  You have no idea. 

For starters, you should know that trespassing on government property isn't the smartest thing to do.  Especially 10:30 at night in the dead of winter all while doing something potentially life threatening and not really knowing what's going to happen until you try it. 

Greg, AJ, Ethan, and I (3 kids who were plebes in C-2 a long time ago, but are upperclassmen now) borrowed my buddy Cheg's 4X4 Jeep Cherokee and drove up the back way to the top of the ski slope with the sleds we had picked up from the PX that afternoon.  After arguing for a little bit I finally volunteered to drive the jeep down to pick up the other 3 guys when they got to the bottom, and Ethan elected to come with me just to see what happened to the other two on their way down.  Why he didn't drive the first time, I dunno.  We got to the parking lot and opened up the back so they could run off the slope and into the jeep after their run and we could get out of there fast.  The idea behind the whole plan was to minimize the amount of time the ski slope workers would have to physically catch us and call the MPs.  There were guys on snowmobiles all over the place turning snowmakers off and on and it wasn't going to be easy to keep from getting caught. 

I called their cell phone to let them know we were ready and they started their run.  At first all Ethan and I could see were 2 black dots hurtling down the slope, but then we could see that Greg was on the left in a narrow run bordered by trees and boulders and AJ was in the center run with all kinds of room for error.  All of a sudden Greg made a sharp right turn after bouncing off something on the slope and was now sliding headfirst into the woods at 35+ MPH.  He was flailing like a madman kicking and scratching at the snow trying to stop before he went in the woods, but there was nothing he could do.  AJ just kept coming down the hill and we could see he was having a blast getting some serious air off the jumps and such.  A few ski patrol workers just watched and shook their heads as he rocketed by and then went back to their work with the snowmakers.

AJ got down to the bottom and ran up to the Jeep screaming "GO GO GO!!!", but Greg was still in the woods about halfway up the hill so we couldn't leave.  After a few minutes we started to get concerned and I considered the possibilities of what might have happened, but seconds later he came running up to the jeep with a huge smile on his face.  "You absolutely won't believe how close I came to dying just now, you guys."  Oh, really, Greg?  We had no idea...  Apparently on his 40 foot headfirst slide through the woods he had missed a number of huge trees and rocks by a matter of inches and had finally hit a snow bank and stopped.  He didn't have a scratch on him.  Incredible.

We left the parking lot immediately and after thinking about what had happened to Greg and the possibility of it happening again for all of... like 2 seconds I decided it was worth the risk and we were gonna go again.  Ethan wanted no part of it so he drove the Jeep down himself this time and gave us a call when he was ready. 

The problem now was that the ski patrol knew we were there and they were looking for us.  They guessed right that we would try it again, and they didn't want moronic cadets sledding down their slope and possibly getting killed in the process.  After 20 minutes of hiding in the woods we saw all of the snowmobiles pull up to the lodge at the bottom of the hill and the riders go inside.  By this time it was around 11:15.  We decided it was now or never and followed AJ out of the woods to where he had started his run previously. 

I won't try to describe the thrill of flying headfirst down that hill at 35 MPH and flying off the jumps and all that.  You ought to try it some time, but wear a helmet even though we didn't.  We were having a great time and wiped out a few times, but made it about halfway down the hill.  All of a sudden men came running out of the lodge and stood abreast of each other blocking the slope and just waited for us to come to them.  They had been waiting on us in the lodge and now there was no way to get away.

Greg got there first and as he stood up one of them physically grabbed him.  I came sliding up a few seconds later and a big dude latched onto me and started screaming about how much trouble I was in and how the MPs were gonna lock me up and blah, blah, blah...

As AJ came sliding up one of the workers walked up and said, "Tom?  Tom Martin?  Is that you?"  Of course I acted like he was my long lost best friend and screamed, "HEY!!!  What's up... dude?!?"  Yeah, I had forgotten his name.  He was a kid that had gone to the prep school with us, but had quit West Point our plebe year and stuck around to work at the slope to make a few bucks.  The rest of the ski patrol guys were like, "You know this punk?!?"  He said yeah we were buddies from school and that he was sure we weren't going to do this again (wink wink) and that he didn't think his coworkers needed to call the MPs on us.  Of course I kept my mouth shut for this part, and when they let us go I gave the kid a quick handshake and then lit out of there right behind my buddies.

We got in the jeep, laughed our heads off, told Ethan we had almost gotten arrested, and got the hell out of there.

The End.

 

I may or may not try it again this year because I've still got those sleds.  We'll see.

-Tom

 


 

January 5th

I guess it's about time I let everyone know what happened over the Christmas Break.  This is going to be a bit long, but I'll condense it a lot to just the good parts so you don't get too bored.   Sorry for the lack of pictures; my camera is broken.

Erika and I are getting pretty serious about each other and I really like the way things are turning out.  We had a GREAT time in the city the night before we flew home; the show at Radio City Music Hall was pretty sweet and afterward we went to Rockefeller Center and saw the huge Christmas Tree.  We were walking around trying to find a cab afterward and at the corner of 48th and 5th Avenue I finally stopped and told her how I felt about her and hoped for the best.  Her reaction to me telling her all that (even though I stumbled over my words a few times) was better than I expected it would be and it felt good to finally get it all out.

We got to the comedy club, Stand Up NY, and laughed our heads off at 6 or 7 relatively unknown, but up and coming comics, and then around 11 the host came back onstage.  You should know that this particular comedy club is the place where Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, and a few other famous comics got their start and according to the people that work there they occasionally show up just for fun.  I've been there a number of times, and never seen a celebrity of that caliber perform, but when the host came back onstage after the normal comics were done he said, "Ok, ladies and gents.  We've got a special treat for you tonight.  Put your hands together FOR MR. CHRIS ROCK!!!"  The 20 of us in the audience (it's a really small place) sat there thinking "Yeah, right.  Chris Rock isn't going to show up on a Thursday night just for the hell of it."  5 seconds later the man himself walked through the door with Charlie Murphy (yeah, the guy from the Dave Chapelle show) right behind him.  You can imagine how incredible the next hour was.

After the show outside the comedy club.

We flew home the next day and within hours of getting to San Antonio I was on the road headed for Arkansas to spend 5 days visiting old friends I hadn't seen since I graduated high school in 1998.  It was pretty crazy seeing some of them after so long and hearing their "life story", you know?  I went to my old church for the first time in almost 7 years and it was funny how many people hardly recognized me.  It was one of the best trips to Cabot I've had.  Good times overall.

I got back to San Antonio a few days before Christmas and didn't do a whole lot until we all went down to the Riverwalk to check into the hotel suite we were staying in for Christmas.  It was a bit odd staying in a hotel like that, but it was better than all 6 of us trying to cram into the small apartment my parents are living in right now.  Their house will hopefully be finished this summer.  We did the family "thing" until Christmas night when we went down to the Riverwalk for dinner.  Yeah, not exactly the most traditional thing to do, but it's all about family to us and we were all together so it worked.  Afterward, Mom and the girls went to a movie and Dad and I found an Irish Pub.  We had a great time talking about father/son stuff and laughing/singing along with the piano player who was taking requests and telling jokes and making fun of people and it was just great.  Mom and the girls showed up around 11 and we finally left around 12:30.  My sister Laura had to help me walk home, but you don't get many opportunities like that and I guess I made a bit more than the most of it, if that makes any sense.  Good times.

A few days after Christmas I drove over to Angleton, TX to see my buddy Clay and spent the night over there eating some great BBQ and getting to know his family before we went out with some friends of his.  Clay's stock went up when he gave me a bottle of Glenlivet for Christmas and his dad, Gary, and I had some before we all went out for the night.  His friends from high school were pretty straight and we had a good time that night in the "bustling megalopolis" of Angleton, Texas.  I drove back to San Antonio the next day and spent some more time with the family until the 31st. 

New Year's Eve I flew to Erika's house in North Carolina and got to meet her mother, Sandra, and her hilarious step dad, Kevin.  We played Taboo and Pictionary, a regular occurrence at their house, and shared a few stories back and forth until it was time to get ready for that night.  Erika and I drove to Fayetteville to meet up with her friend from high school, Lori, her husband, Tim, and her friend Michael.  We went to an Irish Pub in Raleigh and had a great time listening to the live band and telling jokes and stories until midnight when we all had a toast of champagne and I got my New Year's kiss. 

The next day we drove back to Erika's house after having brunch at Lori and Tim's apartment and got there just in time for a neighborhood party.  Erika's mom had made all kinds of finger-food and we spent the rest of the night socializing, drinking ridiculously good red wine, and playing Cranium.  It's a team game that combines Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Charades, and Scrabble and it's a blast.  Erika and I beat everyone else and had a great time.  

 

This was taken right before we took off the next day, January 2nd, for Philadelphia.  We decided to drive just over halfway to school and stop for the night before driving the rest of the way on the 3rd.  The Crowne Plaza was a most excellent hotel I would highly recommend to anyone and the government rate for a huge suite was only $114.  Can't beat that. 

We got back to school around noon on the 3rd and now we're getting ready for our LAST SEMESTER AT WEST POINT to get started.  Round 8 coming up...

Hope everyone had a spectacular break and that Santa brought you all the loot you wanted. 

-Tom

 


 

January 4th

Ok, I'll update this tonight, but for now I've got 9 million things going on and I don't have time to write about all the things that happened over the Christmas Break.  For now enjoy some Calvin and Hobbes.

-Tom

 


 

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