Moment

To my brothers in arms, and all who stand against tyranny and terror

Dawn
The Lustral Water breaks golden
Beyond the starred and scarred Horizon

Celestial fire arcs
And throws back the tyranny of Night
Clouds of rose and coral
Bring tears from once-young eyes

There is no Self, there is no Other
There is not Time, nor Place
And that golden, glorious Dawn
Is the only moment in Eternity

Veritas

Unhallowed, this immortal truth
Is known alike by fool and sage:
That the green and golden dreams of youth
Become the grey regrets of age
And no Nepenthe’ will assuage
A man whose broken soul
Flitters in it’s failing cage
For want of being whole.

There is a second, nobler truth
Taught by beggar-men and priests;
A simple way to savor youth
And save, of our youth, a piece.
A beckoning wonder, a beckoning feast
Of life, from a truth so small
Which rivals the fabled Golden Fleece
This truth, which is our highest call:
Live now, if you would live at all.

Mine

She loves me well, her sweet caress
Doth linger on my beaded cheek
While she will with tender wrath undress
My deepest wound–that blooded streak
On which she feeds, and keeps me weak
Though she every day unflesh my bones
Her eyes a crueler vengeance wreak
With the dust of my heart, and with her own
She chokes to death my mangled moans

I lie there alone and alive in the dark
And whisper and whimper when my lover appears
My memories sweet, but her hatred so stark
As she sends my mind and my screams and my fears
Echoing down hallways of unending years
And into oblivion–unmourned, unforgiven
Save by flowers of silence that bloom in my tears
Shed by a soul too black to be shriven
By my direst damsel, to whom vengeance was given

23 April 2006

Goodness, goodness.
Another drill gone. The unit did a pepper-spray certification, but fortunately I didn’t have do it; my certificate of contamination is permanent (for the military). Instead, I was one of the testers. You see, when you do this type of certification, you get sprayed and then have to perform a set of physical tasks. I’ve found that this varies by the unit doing the certification. In this case, I ran the station in which the afflicted personnel had to block incoming strikes. Of course, I delivered the strikes with an ASP kicking pad. That’s right, I was the unit pillow-fighting instructor. Maybe I can design a badge for my cammies.
I also managed to narrowly escape an APFT–thanks to a foot injury. Of course, I’ll have to make it up in two weeks. I’m vaguely worried about the run–I haven’t really enjoyed running since about halfway through my Marine Corps contract–but I think I’ll do okay. The unit is offering guaranteed spots to Airborne or Air Assault school to whoever gets the top two PT scores on the test. Of course, they flatly refuse to send anyone to Hand-to-Hand combat instructor, Squad Designated Marksman, or SRT school.
On the up side, I have finally found a possibly perfect online degree program. Columbia College is offering an inter-disciplinary studies degree; after your liberal arts and sciences requirements (which, as Inigo Montoya would say, I have) you just finish another 60 hours and that’s your degree.
I’ve found out that I can test out of POST certification; this may be my ticket into the high-paying and glamorous world of civilian law-enforcement. Also, my detachment has a new lieutenant, a highway patrolman who’s actually interested in making use of my prior training. So the Army might finally get fun!

17 April 2006

Howdy!

Well, I’ve been back from Germany for over a week now, and my apartment is still trashed from my frenetic burst of packing the night before I left. Admittedly, I’ve had less time actually in my apartment than the full week–I managed to lose my keyring somewhere in Germany and I spent three days in a hotel before I could contact my apartment complex for a replacement key. Mostly, though, I’ve just been a victim of jet lag.
I have, however, replaced my computer and bought a new cell phone since I’ve been back. So it’s like I’ve been lazy. Just completely irresponsible. 🙂
Germany was very, very boring. We each worked five days (of the 21 days we were there), and neither the local nor the Missouri command had any training or activities for us beyond that. I was almost put on suicide watch. This is because the rest of the company did nothing but lay around the barracks all day and have the some of the dumbest conversations I’ve ever heard. I, on the other hand, know better than to be a barracks rat. I was at the gym, at the library–anywhere else. So, since I wasn’t talking to them, obviously I was depressed . As if! Actually talking to them is what would have made me depressed!
I thought about taking a MWR trip while I was there, but I just couldn’t justify the expense. The “Castle Tour”, for instance: for about $80.00, I’d have to arrange to be on a different base at 3 a.m., where a bus would pick me up and drive me to two castles in different parts of Germany. Not only would I also be responsible for my own meals, but each castle would also have it’s own entry fee (not covered by my $80.00) and neither allowed pictures to be taken inside. So I passed.
I did see the movie Munich while I was in Germany–so that was apropos. The movie itself was an utterly fanciful, anti-Israeli historical revisionism which I won’t even get into here. Suffice it to say, I don’t recommend the movie. I do, however, recommend Slither, a rather seamless blend of body-snatcher and zombie movies, with just a hint of HPL–starring Nathan Fillion (formerly captain of the Serenity!)
On the up side, I discovered a new favorite writer. A retired USMC officer named John Poole, who writes about military tactics and theory–and has lots of juicy stuff relevant to Kevin’s and my project. I actually overspent my intended budget for the trip buying his books–in fact, after I bought one of each title the PX had in stock, they bought some more (he has about eight titles out now, I have five of them).

Pre-box is immensely busy. I usually work out there alone; today I was supervising a team of ten people. We were still swamped when we left. I don’t think we have room for all of those books!
Oh, and get this–one of the “girls” (I put that in quotes because, although she is several years younger than I, this young lady has 8 children. I call her “Ma Kettle.”) who came out to help me said that I was obviously a “nice guy.” Now, when I’m in practice, I can hit a human-sized target nine out of ten times at 500 yards without a scope. My martial art of choice is Filipino knife-fighting. I am not only a former U.S. Marine, I am an ex-mercenary. What the hell do I have to do to get a bad boy image???

Anyhoo, great to be back. My current project is getting everything in line for next March’s OCS class.

26 August 2005

Well, the big news this week was going to be that W. “Hock” Hochheim, one of the great CQC instructors anywhere, is giving a seminar in Kansas City in September and that I would be attending. Instead, that has been overshadowed by the fact my good friend and kali instructor, Mike Olive, will be taking an indefinite hiatus from teaching martial arts. In light of this, I have decided put a moratorium on my own training for a few months. Although the Band of the Rattan continues through the MU Columbia Kali Club, I am not interested in joining another college martial arts club–Kirksville left a bad taste in my mouth. And I’ve already spent the last two years trying to train without an instructor. The up side is that my debt is nearly gone, I’m scheduling viewings for some nice, well-priced properties in Columbia, and I’ve got a great idea for my own business once I’m completely solvent. (By the way, I had mistakenly told a few people that I have a positive net worth now for the first time since my divorce. I actually don’t–but I will on the first of September). I have found a great series of books on financial planning called Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by former U. S. Marine and multimillionaire Robert Kiyosaki. I’m halfway through the second one; I’ve given the first to Jeremy, with high hopes. I recommend these books to EVERYBODY.

11 August 2005

An elderly woman develops an interest in organic foods. The next time her husband goes to the store, she reminds him to buy only organic groceries. The old man searches all over the maket, but can’t find the organic foods section. Finally, he grabs some vegetables and tracks down a grocer. “These vegetables are for my wife,” he says,”have they been sprayed with poisonous chemicals?””No,” answers the grocer,”you’ll have to do that yourself.”
—–
Sorry I didn’t write last week; Jeremy was on vacation and I couldn’t figure out how to fix the internet connection when it crashed. MBS is in serious over-drive; we had two hours of mandatory overtime last week, 10 this week, and 10 again next week. It’ll be a nice paycheck, but I feel like my arms are falling off. I’m having to take my bodybuilding supplements just to keep up at work (of course, “keeping up” for me means out-working everyone else. I’m so competitive!)… and I still have no energy left for training. I’ve been home for, what, three months now? And I’ve made it to three kali classes? Of course, that’s more a time-slot issue.
I got an employment packet in the mail from KCPD. I’m not getting my hopes up, but man, it’d be nice… I visited my grandfather Monday after work. I realized that I’d only seen him once since I deployed–over a dinner when I was home on leave. Turns out he has quite a few old war stories–I wish I’d been able to stay longer, but I had to get some sleep before facing the Speedy-Packer (that’s the name of the machine I’ve been operating lately. I feel so dirty when I say it!). According to the Libertarian newsletter, a higher percentage of Americans are now in favor of impeaching President Bush than were in favor of impeaching President Clinton. Interestingly, most of those in favor seemed to make the qualification “if it could be shown that he deliberately misled congress about his reasons for going to war”–I thought that that was what an impeachment would investigate. On the up side, the U.N. is moving in to relieve most of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and Presisent Bush has finally set a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq–starting next January, if the Iraqi elections come through.

1 August 2005

A blonde decides that she needs to supplement her income, so she begins canvassing a wealthy neighborhood door-to-door offering her services as a handyman. At one house, a man offers her fifty dollars to paint his porch. She agrees, and he tells her that the paint is already in the garage. After only half an hour, the blonde again knocks on the man’s door. “I’m all finished,” she says.
“Well, that certainly was quick!” the man replies.
“Thank you. Actually, I had some paint left over, so I gave it a second coat.”
Impressed, the man reaches for his wallet and begins counting out $50.00.
“And by the way,” says the blonde,”it’s not a Porch. It’s a Ferrari.”
—–
Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for a couple of weeks; I had some personal stuff to get sorted out. The up side is, I’m getting my promotion points straightened out, I’ve got almost everything ready for Warrant Officer school, and I’ve gotten a second (and much more positive) opinion on the subject of ADSW with Kevin. I may also get my Corporal rank returned to me before I put in my Warrant Officer package.It’s been almost a month since “A” company sent me my travel voucher to sign, and still no word from them, or from DFAS. Josh and John continue the good fight. I watched Sky High this last weekend. It was a cheesy Harry Potter rip-off, but it had its clever moments. Ranging from the all-to-obvious (Lynda Carter’s parting shot is “I’m not Wonder Woman, you know.”) to wonderfully hidden (Kurt Russel plays the main character’s father, whose power is super-strength. Leafing through his old Sky High yearbook, we come across his senior picture–taken from his role in Disney’s The Strongest Man in the World.) All-in-all, another recommendation for video rental. I have been nominated to compete for Poet of the Year in the International Society of Poets, an annual competition for a $20,000.00 grand prize. Unfortunately, I’d have to be in Washington, D.C., all next weekend as a condition of the contest (their annual international convention),and I have neither the time nor the funds to do so. Mayhap next year. I’ve written Mike an e-mail letting him know that I will be unable to attend kali class for the month of August. We’re finishing peak season at MBS, and I’m running out of time to get my ducks in-line for MOARNG when I start back in September. Finally, a hearty congratulations to Dave and Renita, who just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it.

10 July 2005

Okay, the verdict is in: either movie would be a decent video rental, but I would advise you not to waste your money at the cinema. In other words, CRAP! and CRAP!. Warning: if you intend, despite my advice, to watch these movies on the big screen, read no further: movie spoilers ahead.—–Let us begin with The Fantastic Four. This is Marvel’s second attempt an a FF movie. The first was so horrible that it went straight to video and disappeared from shelves nation-wide after about a month. This particular movie is much higher-budget, but still poorly written and easily predictable. I might have forgiven them had Jessica Alba finally gotten naked on film, but alas, she continues her pretense of morality by only stripping to her underwear (Again. And again.). Also, while I am fully prepared to suspend my disbelief for a comic book movie, I can’t suspend it quite so far as the director would like. I am prepared for cosmic rays to grant superhuman powers; that’s part of the fantasy. However, I am not prepared for a machine which not only generates and contains cosmic rays (which pass through the entire planet without slowing down), but funnels them through a hose. Also, since my suspension of disbelief is based on the comic book characters, major changes to said characters ruins the movie. Doctor Doom (a FF staple villain) as metallic mutant rather than a powered-armored antagonist is not something I’m prepared to forgive. And finally, if your grasp of science is so weak that you don’t know the difference between chemistry and physics, don’t put it in your dialogue. Especially from the characters who are supposed to be super-smart. As for The War of the Worlds… How on Earth can a director of Spielberg’s caliber take an intelligent classic, remake it with a huge special effects budget, and still manage to destroy it? The tripods, in this version, are not sent to Earth in the invasion. Rather, they were buried here millenia ago (the estimate given in the movie is a milllion years, but this is apparently based solely on the fact that they were in a lower geological stratum than the sewers of New York city) and the aliens simply decide that now is the time to return to Earth and conquer. Of course, they are still destroyed by bacteria… which raises two questions: why did they allow human civilization to advance at all, rather than simply maintaining a presence on Earth, and how could such “vast intellects” not have detected bacteria over millenia of observation? The “heat rays” were well accomplished as effects, but the “black smoke” failed to appear at all, which I found dissappointing. The imperviousness of the tripods in Spielberg’s version is not based on the simple toughness of the material, but on an invisible force field which they generate (shades of Independance Day). Of course, while the entire U. S. military fails to generate a single enemy casualty with any weapon available to it, Mr. Cruise’s character handily lops a piece off of one with a hatchet. Mr. Cruise is also obliged to point out to the U. S. Army infantry platoon he’s conveniently passing by when the enemy’s “shields” go down (he can tell because birds are perching on them), because apparently these trained combatants, who have done nothing but observe and engage the enemy for days, fail to notice. My favorite line is piece of unintentional humor delivered by Tim Robbins. Now, I have neither read the book nor watched the previous movie edition lately, so this line may be a reference to previous material. I am inclined to believe, however, that it is simply Hollywood directing its usual moral support to the Palestinian movement to murder their own greatest benefactor and the strongest democratic presence in the Middle East: Israel. Be that as it may, the line is: ” Occupations always fail. History has taught us that a thousand times.” This delivered by a white man in New England. There is more, but that’s enough for this e-mail. My best to everyone!