Monday, February 11, 2008

White out

So, I think I'll make a couple of posts either today or over the next few days. This one relates to my last drill weekend. The one where I missed Mardi Gras. Boo. However, it's not really about drill so much as what came after; specifically, the weather. Seriously.

As I had already missed Mardi Gras, there was no way I was also going to miss watching the Super Bowl. Of course, anyone who knows me well can tell you I could give a deuce about professional sports, but I consider the Bowl to be more of a social event, not to mention the fact that the commercials (usually) rock. As to the commercial bit, I'd honestly have to say this year was pretty lame with the exception of the ginormous carrier pigeon commercial. You know the one I mean. Commercials aside, the most amazing part of the Super Bowl for me was getting there. I decided to watch the bowl with Kyle and Tyler over at Western, which necessitated what should have been a 45 minute or so drive. I really don't know how long it took me; all I know is that after I made it about 15 miles, I hit white out snow conditions. To top it off, the snow was covering road signs, so I thought I had missed a turn and ended up doubling back, only to realize that I had actually NOT missed the turn and had been on the correct road the whole time. Time wasted, at least 30 minutes. Somehow I managed to make it to Macomb alive and even navigate through town to the trailer where they guys live even though I'd only been there once before and that was last spring.

Okay, so get there, watch game, drink some beers, sleep in, yadda yadda. Now it's Monday and I have to get to St. Louis. Only visibility is still nill because fog has mysteriously appeared from nowhere. Or from all the snow since now it's warming up outside. I wait fruitlessly till noon and decide I can waste no more time and am forced to do 30 miles an hour for a LONG time down highway 67, an unfamiliar 2 lane highway that offers the most direct route back to the Lou. I don't hit my first clear patch (of only about 100 meters) for 2 1/2 hours. Incidentally, at most times I could only see about 2 center lines ahead on the road, and at times it got so bad I could only see the one I was next to and the one coming up. A while after the first clear patch, things seem to be clearing up completely when much to my dismay there appear "road closed ahead" signs accompanied by a cop waving little orange flags to direct traffic down some side road. I proceed as indicated and eventually pull off to consult my Illinois Atlas/Gaza-teer. This provides me with direction as there are no major road to be found... I am in the complete middle of nowhere. I end up driving down lane 1/2 wide, barely marked, country roads with bizarre turns and hills and the fog keeps coming and going in patches. Somehow I made it through without any run-ins with bigfoot, alien abduction, roaving packs of dogs, or shot-gun toting rednecks. When I finally make it to the next town (where I find the other end of the road closure) I am able to ascertain from the gas station that there was apparently a large accident in the fog, so, at least I wasn't part of THAT. Oh yeah, and then it became beautiful and sunny for the rest of the drive, and it was 75 degrees when I got to St. Louis. But by then it was almost dark and the temp was about to drop drastically, so I had no chance to enjoy it. Bah.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Rest of the Holiday Season

Well, well, it's been too long yet again! I apologize; I've been busy having tons of fun!

Christmas was good this year; pretty standard, but a little more relaxing than usual for some reason. Got a few books/movies that I wanted, and a few small surprises like the soundtrack to the original Transformers movie! Was great to see family, including my cousin who was home on leave from AIT.

Once again, the really exciting event of the season was the Rogue Formal (sometimes known just as "Winter Formal"). The decorations this year surpassed all previous years using an updated/repaired inflata-dome, or whatever it's called, and even a chandelier of sorts using PVC pipe painted black with Christmas lights strung up on it. Attendance this year was phenomenal with a lot of familiar faces and a few new ones, and more people stayed for a long period this year. Dinner at Candlelight beforehand with about 18 people, and it was great to be able to take my wonderful, beautiful date Mary out as I hadn't seen her in forever. I drank a fair bit this year, but didn't get belligerent, so that's a huge plus.

New Years was in the QC again with another good turnout. The weather I think kept a lot of other revelers in, so the crowd was not too abysmal either. Frankly, I don't remember too much of the night, but I apparently behaved myself (mostly). High points included dinner at Bennigan's (mmmm, Monte Cristo), getting a sweet free hat from Blue Cat, and getting a phone message from Sarah. The only thing that would have made it better is if I hadn't missed her call.. or if she'd been there maybe.. =) Anyhow, Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving all. Well, for the next five minutes or so anyhow. 'Twas a good one this year, although I didn't travel back home. The family (mom, dad, sis & her b/f) came here for dinner with me and the roomie (who hasn't gone home for T-giving in years apparently due to distance). Got some more furniture moved into the apartment, and the food was great. Feel kind of mopy (sp?) now that everyone has left however. I think what I missed most this year was going out with everyone I would have seen back home. Oh annual holiday random bar meetings!

In other news, I am seriously considering OCS now. It might mean a few more years in, but it would be a great career move, and many people have encouraged me over the year to commission. I have a few months to think about it, and I am thinking of staying artillery, or doing MI. Interestingly enough, artillery (which has one of the lowest ASVAB entry requirements in the military for enlisted) has one of the highest "wash-out," i.e. failure, rates of the Officer Basic Courses due to all the math, etc. Speaking of military, my cousin graduates from basic next weekend. Should be going to the ceremony, which will be cool, and also a chance to get a new ID and some new Class A shoes.

In entertaining news, Marvel Comics is putting all (yes, ALL, or at least that is the plan) its back issues online in digital format, which means I can now read fake comics by my fake fireplace. Digital irony aside, this is a great opportunity for me to read all those old story lines, mini-series, spin-offs, etc. that I couldn't really afford. There is a monthly membership cost, but also a discount if you pay for a whole year at once. A pretty hefty discount I might add, much like the one for X-box live. It's really not quite as satisfying as turning the real pages and owning the comic, there remain a few bugs to work out and numerous issues that they still need to be digitized, but overall a fantastic idea.

Guess that's it for now. Rock on!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Public Health Readings

The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped our History
Like The Great Influenza, a narrative of a disease with historic/scientific implications. Nice easy read, if you're into that sort of thing of course.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
(Spring 07)
Basically what the title says; describes both successes and failures of government/military and public health/medicine at curbing the pandemic.

New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers: Tales of Parasites and People
(Spring 07)
Parasites. Guh-ross. The book however offers an informative and sometimes amusing spin on the tales.

Federal Bodysnatchers and the New Guinea Virus: Tales of Parasites, People, and Politics
(Spring 07)
Somewhat of a sequel to the above Tapeworm/Grandmothers book, this one brings in some more of the politicking, etc. Focuses a lot on Malaria.

Suggested Readings to Spur Thinking and Debate

This is the attempt: theoretically I can update this as new books are added. I shall try to put the approximate date on which I finish the book, however with a good chunk of the ones that I read in Iraq, etc. that will be impossible to remember at this point. I will link to the books on Amazon (please notify me of any missing/broken links) and provide a brief synopsis.


Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World
Expounds on the wester tradition of "just war." Written primarily in support of the war in Afghanistan with a new epilogue written in relation to Iraq.

Baghdad by Bus: Or,.......
(September 07)
First person narrative from two entrepreneurs plying their special brand of ingenuity and charity in Baghdad. Highlights glaring flaws in CPA method of occupation of Iraq.

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
(September 07)
Explains the logic/success of using suicide terror against an "occupying force" from a foreign,democratic nation whose religion differs from your own and how religion is an enabler, not a root causation.

Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly Response
(August 07)
What the title says; not the book the movie "Munich" is based on. Mostly a "this is what happened" rather than critical commentary, it does criticize the German government, but doesn't delve too much into the right/wrong of Israel's response.

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
(August 07)
Examines types of killing (close vs. ranged) and their association with PTSD, as well as association of other battlefield conditions with PTSD. Also describes military conditioning to kill and how some aspects of modern society condition violence through entertainment. Everyone in the military should read this.

How to Lose a Battle: Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders

(June 07)
What the title says; also, in a nutshell: get good intel, don't be stupid.

A Rumor of War
(June 07)
Autobiographical, coming of age in Vietnam story from Phil Caputo. Personal as well as historic.

The Collapse of the Common Good: How America's Lawsuit Culture Undermines Our Freedom
(Spring 07)
Describes how lawsuits and fear of them have helped contribute to lack of judgment, fear of making rational value assessments, and loss of authority.

Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism--True Stories that Should be Fiction
(Spring 07)
The ridiculousness extremes of being PC. Goes somewhat along with the Common Good book in exposing how PC contributes to lack of being rational and fear of getting punished for offending someone. I mostly agreed with this book until the last chapter or two; can't remember why, but I'll re-read them again to see.

Heart of a Soldier
The poignant story of Rick Rescorla, British academic/adventurer turned American in the US Army during Vietnam. Later becomes head of security at Morgan Stanley, where his predictions of danger to the Twin Towers go unheeded. Dies on September 11 after evacuating thousands of occupants from one of the towers.

The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America
Historical perspective explaining misunderstandings and distorted world views as the primary reasons for conflict.

Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces
History of the SF from Vietnam to now; reasons, mistakes, future uses, etc.

Battle Ready
The life of warrior-diplomat Marine General Tony Zinni. Part biography, part auto-biography, part political commentary on the use of America's military.

The Fall of Man

Well, it's starting to feel like fall. At least up in Northern IL. Not so much yet here in Saint Louis, although there has been a cooler snap or two. For me, fall always takes me back; funny how a season associated with decay and death so frequently makes me think of so many things from my past that scream "life." I suppose that's always part of the dialectic though, life and death and so on and so forth. So anyhow, fall always takes me back to days of cross country, marching band, football games, campouts, Knox, etc. I don't think I'm the only one that feels this way though, perhaps that is one reason why homecoming is in the fall (that and of course football season being a bigger draw than basketball or baseball; heh). Additionally, it always seems to be around this time that I hear from people I haven't heard from in a while. I think being several months into the "school year" without seeing people you remember seeing then is part of it. Anyhow, this weekend I heard from two girls I hadn't spoken with in a while (one in about a year!) and last night I heard from the last roomie at ISU who I hadn't spoken with since early summer. I think the feeling remembered is just as important as the remembering. I would like to take this moment to encourage everyone to just call up a friend they haven't talked to in a while just to see how they're doing, let them know you're still alive, and that you still care, even if you don't always get the chance to hang with them or talk to them on a regular basis. Okay, enough with the sappy nostalgia.

Now the practical question becomes should I go to homecoming this weekend? Many people are saying yes, but I do sort of have plans to attend Fright Fest at 6 Flags. I suppose I could do Fright Fest another time, but I'm also supposed to get a good chunk of the rest of my possessions this weekend. Decisions, decisions.

In other news, I did terrible on PT test this weekend. Well, on the run part anyhow. I have about 180 days to remedy the situation. Went running last night, and shall continue to do so. On the plus side, I did shoot pretty well at rifle qualification. I wish we got the chance to shoot more often. The best part was when I got to help "expend all ammo," i.e. shoot-up the excess ammo that wasn't quite enough to box back up and return to supply.

Considering making a list of non-fiction books that I have read that I consider to be excellent reading for those interested in military/politics, or public health. Not quite sure how to make that work on this page, but I'll figure it out soon I hope. Until next time, Turbo Teddy out!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wedding, etc.

So, Mike and Megan's wedding totally rocked my face off. The van ride out was fun with the family and a few friends, except for the part where I was driving in Ohio in road construction with the beastly 12-passenger vehicle and then ran into fog to boot. The sheer number of semis on the main east-west cargo route wasn't helping any either. Made it to Delaware in time for dinner, although I had missed the rehearsal. I wasn't the only groomsman to miss the rehearsal though, so the next day at lunch Mike instructed us with an impromptu sand table made with table items while we ate lunch. Knives served as pews, hot pepper & oregano for the bride and groom, and salt & pepper shakers for the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Wedding party gifts for the guys were well thought out t-shirts, each with a super-hero reflecting some aspect of our individual personalities. The wedding itself was in a nice little eastern sea-town church, and wedding photos were taken on the beach. Fantastic. Except for the random guy who came up and snagged a pic and claimed to be a wedding photographer himself. Creepy much? And does that constitute intellectual theft? IDK. The best part of of the photos of course was the human pyramid of groomsmen. Classic. The reception had great food and free rock candy, and the bride's friends seem to mesh fairly well with the grooms friends. For me overall, the best part (other than of course seeing Mike & Megan so happy) was that Margaret was able to come as my date. That whole living in Phillie thing means I don't get to see her near enough.

Really besides that not too much exciting has been going on. Jon and I did go to IL to play trivia for charity Saturday night with Mu and some of his college buds from the area. We tied for fourth out of nine teams; many of the questions pre-dated the knowledge of our young team. It was fun though, and we won a few door prizes. Sadly Mu broke the snow-globe he won, which resulted in a collective "awwwwww" from the room.

Guard this weekend, and then hopefully get the rest of my furniture etc. next weekend. Will be missing homecoming, but that's okay as I don't believe too many of my compatriots will e there anyhow.

Oh! SLU's School of Public Health may get bought out by WashU. What this portends remains to be seen, but the motivation appears to be to move up in the rankings for each of the schools involved. Hokay, back to homework. Just cause the school might get bought doesn't mean it's stopping operations!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sweet cuppin' update!

Soooo, I'm a terrible person for not updating this more considering all the crazy shenanigans I have been up to.

First off, I spent part of spring break in sunny Philadelphia (it wasn't really that sunny) as opposed to say, Cancun or somewhere, but it was totally worth it. Got to see some historical stuff, but more importantly Margaret and a few other folks from undergrad.

I finished up the spring semester without too much ado and then found myself in the limbo of what to do next. Conveniently guard took care of that for about 2 weeks as I got to go to England for annual training. It was amazing and I have pics somewhere, but I think not on this computer. Lots of the other guys took pics as well so maybe I'll have time next drill to get copies if people bring their laptops. Anyhow, highlights of the trip included re-enlisting at Stonehenge, seeing the Royal Horse Artillery do pass & review for the Queen, firing the British howitzers, and a sweet urban training exercise in Wales.

So, after that I came back and continued the wonderful quest to get a job via online applications (the only thing anyone takes any more it seems) while still considering schools. The situation indicated perhaps working for a while before returning to school was the solution. However, as fate would have it while in Saint Louis for a job fair in July, I also went over to talk to the head of admissions for Saint Louis University's School of Public Health. Between the recommendation of my friend (and now roomie) in their Ph.D. program and my scores, etc. I was basically admitted on the spot. Commence moving to Saint Louis in time for summer school. I began with attending two summer courses while living on a floor, where I continued to live until oh, about five days ago. Point being, I am now in a Master's of Public Health Program with a concentration in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness; think preparing for a job in say, FEMA. No job/assistanceship at this point partially due to getting in so late, however I am working on remedying that situation.

My new apartment is really sweet; it's a loft style apartment built in a former baby-carriage factory. Lots of space, right next to a farmer's market, located in the old French part of town (ergo, big Mardi Gras party to come), and only six blocks south of Busch Stadium where I did attend a Cubs/Cards game on Saturday.

There is certainly more that I'm forgetting, but this shall have to suffice for now. Soon to come: Mike's wedding!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Was amazing. I took one day of snowboarding lessons, and I loved it. Spent one more day boarding, and even went down the entire mountain. On easy slopes of course. I still fell down a lot, but I have learned to turn, and I'd really like to get my own snowboard and go up to Alpine or Chestnut some time. I also got a sweet skiing jacket with digital camo on it! Only downfall was that I forgot to take a camera along; hopefully I can get some copies of pics from someone. The resort was REALLY expensive, thank goodness for discounts through friend. Apparently, the average amount a family of 4 spends actually staying there (paying for room, food, lift tickets, etc) is approx. $25k. At $87 apiece/day, the lift tickets there are supposedly the most expensive in the country, and homes out there go for $22.5 MILLION. Interestingly enough, everyone there was really nice, and a lot of the employees are from South America, Australia, and South Africa, so it was very interesting getting to talk to some of them. Also very hard not to pick up the accents since I have a tendency to do that.

In other news, having trouble registering for classes, and now that all the other students are back in town, 'net is slow. Boo.