Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Laundry day

1 Laundry Bag
2 Trouser
1 Poly-pro top SS
1 t-shirt, LS
3 t-shirt, SS
1 short, running
4 drawers
2 sock, grey
1 sock, white
1 shirt, SS
2 shirt, LS
1 short

Ok, add up the numbers. 20. Ok, off it goes. Hopefully I get clean laundry back.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Yes, one of the other forms of recreation (other than movies and running and working out). Reading.

This is book 7 of The Dresden Files, which is probably better known in its TV form on the SciFi channel. The protagonist is Harry Dresden. A wizard. In our world, which, while there are wizards, vampires, were-wolves, faerie's, undead, etc. most of us reasonable folks don't like to talk about it. Because folks tend to think your rather kookie if you talk about were-wolves, zombies etc walking around the streets of Chicago at night. If you don't think so, try it at work.

Anyway, there is this subculture of our world that is very much aware of this. Because they deal with it everyday. Dresden is a rarity. He hides in plain site. His job is a private investigator. As a wizard. Complete with ad in the yellow pages. He also has problems. Like he has a hard time paying the bills (do you know of any successful P.I. wizards in Chicago?). His romantic life is, well, rough (his friends tease him about not getting dates). And the girl he likes but does not admit it, is a cop he works with occasionally and has just left on a vacation to Hawaii. With another guy.

Harry, well he is the hero, but we don't mythologize him. He is moody. Being in the seedier part of life, he has odd friends. A half-brother who has been disowned by his family, part of which considers Harry a mortal enemy (and one that is a secret ally) (oh, it is a family of vampires) A wizard court, whose strongest member thinks Harry is a betrayer of values and should be eliminated, but is also recruiting Harry to be its enforcer. He has a hard time with asking for help. And in trusting people, even when their goals match his. And he has an overprotective streak, which gets people who are capable in trouble because he does not tell them the stuff he is hiding from them. And a war amongst vampires, that is picking an old city to be a battle ground. Chicago.

Some scenes:
Really good descriptions of what street smarts looks like (I think). I can walk through projects and keep out of trouble. Butcher writes what someone who has to live and work in it sees. He writes descriptions of the dark, dangerous places in the city that one of my marine collegues was thinking of when he commented "where do you live" when I made an offhand comment after slight testosterone marine comment of his. Descriptions of various subcultures that exist in an urban city, away from the glamour and the lights. Zombies going up what has to be Sheridan Ave in Evanston. And, because at one point in the book, our hero needed something that was old, dead, big, very aggressive and a hunter, they thought of Sue. (Hi Jack) Which leads to a very fun and spectacular (I'd say bloody, but most of them were zombies so they were already dead) finish.

Probably not for most. It takes a bit of imagination to take the story. Like most good books, if you get past the Nevernever stuff (what they call all the magic stuff) you can get into the characters well. Several of them, not least our hero, has to struggle with decisions of moral ambiguity. And you have a hard time saying they did the right, or wrong, thing. Even the powerful heros have faults and vulnerabilities (both in terms of abilities, but also in terms of personality), just like we all.

Friday, June 22, 2007

First day of summer

This morning I got up early to take a walk around the base. Wearing body armor. It is heavy. And while at 0530 it is not so bad, at 0700 it is getting rather hot. Used up all the water in my camelbak, and the extra bottle I tossed in the bag just in case. I hope the rest of my time here is not this hot.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rachel Carson 2007

To everyone doing the Rachel Carson Challenge: Go get em. Wish I could be with you.

Operation Korean Lunch I

Today we tried to go to the Korean dining facility (DFAC) for lunch. Unfortunately, they were running low on food, so with visions of bibimbap and bulgogi dashed, we went for our usual meal. But, rest assured, we will return to try another day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A marathon where?

Earlier this week we had a marathon, curtesy of those fine folks in San Diego who thought that they needed more runners. If you can't get the runners to go to you, send the race to where there are large numbers of fit young men and women who think experiencing pain is normal.

Well, was this different? Well, yes. Probably as many support staff as runners. We were missing the huge crowds lining the streets, to be replaced with a few goats and herders. And the course was not that crowded, except for the trucks and armored vehicles that passed by every now and then. Oh. The sun. And the wind. And the sand. Put them together and you get a sand blaster every now and then. So it took a little longer than normal. And I'll have another marathon medal to add to my collection. And another city.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Happy Birthday United States Army!

June 14th is the 232nd birthday of the United States Army. Happy Birthday!

How did you get roped into this?

P1: Hey, do you want to help?
Me: Sure (grab reflective belt. Walk outside) Where is (P2)?
P1: He went up ahead. Hop in.
(the fact that P1 was in a truck should have clued me in. We walk everywhere around here.)

P2: Here they are. I found some help.

The task: move a pile of wood to our building for a deck. Including two large pieces about 300 lbs each.
P3: How did you get roped into this?

[EDIT: a few days later]
P4: Do you (P3) know anything about building a deck?
P3: I know those beams are heavy.

Monday, June 11, 2007

One month in

It's hard to believe I've only been here a month. Seems like the office, my apartment and Pittsburgh was so long ago. My life has been reduced to a 1 km radius circle where I eat, sleep, work (ok, I go much further than that when I run). I sit here on my bed, with four plywood partitions, all 4 in touching distance, in my plywood hut, with everything I own within 5' of me, and it seems like a long time ago I was in my nice apartment, a formal gala, or even being served wine by a pretty Nepali stewardess.

But I do like it here. I'm the only civilian in my group, which makes for occasional which-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others moments. Shopping is very curtailed, when you have one small store to shop. (oh, an occasional bazaar) The odd silly rule rears its head every now and then.

But mostly we are doing our jobs. And wanting to do them well, knowing that others are relying on us and making decisions based on the things we put out. Some frustrations, but people here do want to do-the-right-thing. When you spend 15 hours a day with basically the same people, it helps that we all get along, even the abrasive, abusive and obnoxious one.

There are a lot of life lessons that get passed on here. Some of it is just by overhearing. There is a phone we can use to make morale calls home, so we can listen to each other talk to spouse, kids, SO. Of course, we are calling late in the day, and the fortunate one getting called is being called in the morning. There is talk about the joys and problems of raising kids, keeping marriages afloat, past marriages that failed, sons and daughters growing into men and women. And the older ones training the younger ones (which still includes me) of the ways of life.

Let's see, my main recreational activity here is running in the morning. One sight that I'll remember is the korean contingent here. Every morning, they get out in the courtyard of their camp. Sing the national anthem, and go out on a formation run, chanting in korean the whole time. Reminds me of asian schools. Except the run to a cadence is a bit more grown up.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

QOTD: how to prepare for a trip

An ensign about to head out on a trip to a conference out of the country.
"I have my candy, my snacks, a book, lotion, and all my toiletries for a week. Because that's what girls do."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some of life's little pleasures

  • Picking up laundry and not seeing the plastic bag that indicates you messed up the laundry inventory form (and that your laundry was not done)
  • Finally convincing someone not to press for something that will prove to be completely useless.
  • Finding out that your idea that got shot down at night, was transformed by morning into something pretty good.
  • Having your commander pop in the office and say "do you want to go shoot?"
  • Having your commander say "___ will work his magic" (of course, that means that there is magic that needs to be worked)
  • An ice cream sundae after dinner if you have been very good
  • A cookie after dinner if you were not quite that good
  • Stir fry, made right in front of you for dinner
  • Cup of fresh brewed coffee
  • Looking at your girlfriend's pictures after not seeing her for a month