28 February 2009
My wife went in for her weekly checkup and found out that the amniotic sac had a small rupture, which means immediate admission and labor induction. We had stated that our ideal plan would be for her body to go into labor on it's own, and we would labor at home until the contractions were more than a minute and at least three in ten minutes. The wife has the contraction monitoring app downloaded on her iPhone.
But that plan didn't happen, the wife tried to labor naturally under the oxytocin drip but after 12 hours of labor pangs we decided to go with the epidural (she hadn't dilated past 5 cm at this point). I'm glad we did because it would be more than another 14 hours before she gave birth to a 7 lb 11 oz baby boy.
I am so proud of her. There are problems with adjusting to an infant, learning how to be good parents without worrying too much or not worrying enough.
Things to think about. I'm glad that my wife and I waited until our (very) late twenties to have a child. I watched younger couples deal with their infant children and it seems to be (somewhat) true that age brings wisdom. My parents had children early, my youngest brother was born when my mother was about the same age (give or take a year) that my wife is now. Not only did my parents have the experience of raising three previous children, but they were much mellower in middle age as my Father was finally taking home enough money to make worrying about the bills much less of a problem. Not that there was ever a lot of money for frivolous activities, I joined the Army at 18 because I couldn't think of any other way to pay for college. My older brother was already attending Washington State University and my parents were helping him out quite a bit.
My great Grandfather was a Park Ranger with the Forest Service, my Grandfather was a college professor, my father is a journeyman machinist, and I decided to make a career in the Army after I found out that I liked the profession. I have no clue what my son will grow up to be, at different points in my life I've wanted to be a professional saxophonist, a civil engineer, a pharmacist, and an Army officer (finally got that one). I don't know what my son will want to do with his life, but I'm hoping that whatever he chooses he succeeds.
23 February 2009
The only problem with taking leave during major training events is that the unit loses your productivity. I know that my company will do just fine without me, but it still means that a few other individuals will have to shoulder more than their share of the burden to make up for the loss.
21 February 2009
For years now hippies have been trying to convince everyone that "organic" is healthier.
They have succeeded in convincing the easily convinced.
First off the rates of malnutrition in the developed world are vastly superior to the third world. The method of farming in the third world is "organic". The article above mentions 3 billion people suffering from malnutrition, but here in the developed world malnutrition is easy to diagnose and correct.
So, the question remains, is organic healthier? The answer is a resounding "NO". No matter the method of farming the nutritional quality of produce will always be dictated by the specific growing conditions, and "organic" growing conditions are not guaranteed to be "healthier" than modern farming methods.
Organic farming has a few drawbacks. There is not enough suitable biomass to feed the world, we are stuck using synthetic fertilizers. There is no added value to farm workers for going organic, even though the produce costs more. Organic is a lot of pain for no added benefit.
If you are not a serious fan of WWII history then don't waste your time tackling "Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life".
Things that I took away. Fight the enemy, not the plan. Sometimes the enemy is your own politicians and allies. Keep your eye on your original goals, doing something because "you can" or "it would be nifty" is a quick way to kill a lot of good men. Empowering your subordinates is good if and only if their initiative and actions support your overall goal.
If there is one lesson that the general public could take away from this book is that Gen. Eisenhower did a truly remarkable job keeping SHAEF together instead of splintering into international factions. His example, along with Gen. Pershing before him, gives us the model for international operations, a lesson that has since lost relevance as our homegrown politicians view (with some justification) the American military as unbeatable on the battlefield.
20 February 2009
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX X "ATTENTION" X X THIS MESSAGE CONTAINS INFORMATION THAT IS VITAL X X TO THE SAFETY OF ARMY PERSONNEL AND THE OPERATION X X OR MAINTENANCE OF ARMY EQUIPMENT. X XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
a. Summary of Problem: Commanders are allowing various unauthorizedmodifications of M16A2/M16A4 Rifles, M4/M4A1 Carbines, M240/M240B MachineGuns, and M9 Pistols.
b. Background Information: During recent months, there have been anincreasing number of reports of unauthorized modifications to rifles,carbines, M240 Machine Guns, and M9 Pistols. Some of these modificationsincrease the potential injury to personnel.
c. The language set forth in AR 750-10, chapter 3, paragraph 3-1.e,states:
"No Modification Work Order (MWO) is authorized for application unless ithas an approved MWO number that is the product of the MWO process inparagraph 4-2. Commanders will not allow their equipment to be modifiedunless there is an official MWO."
d. These are examples of some but not all unauthorized modifications:
(1) One of the most common examples is unauthorized unit conversion fromM16A2 Rifle to M4 Carbine. Action such as installing an M4 Carbine buttstock on an M16A2 Rifle or converting from burst to fully automatic isunauthorized and will cause increased stoppages, malfunctions, or possiblesafety incidents.
(2) Another example is the use of ergonomic pistol grips or silencers.These are not authorized since testing / evaluation to identify acceptablealternative pistol grips or silencers for Army approval has not been done.
(3) Another example is the unauthorized modification of the basic M240MG (coaxial variant) to the M240B (Dismounted Infantry) configuration byadding and removing components.
(4) Also, of note, is the modification of M9 Pistols by installingvarious off-the-shelf aiming lasers. The use of such lasers may involve thereplacement of standard weapon components with non-standard components,resulting in an unauthorized modification of the pistol.
(5) A modification frequently reported is the painting of various smallarms weapons, including those discussed above. Painting a weapon increasesthe risk of malfunctions caused by paint interfering with the moving partsof the weapon. Painting also increases the potential for infraredidentification of the user. Removal of paint to return a weapon to -10 -20standards often results in the protective surface finish being ruined,possibly resulting in a weapon that needs to be coded out for turn in.
(6) There is no approved Modification Work Order (MWO) for convertingM16s to M4s nor is there one to convert the M240 to the M240B. No MWO hasbeen issued authorizing the use of off-the-shelf aiming lasers with the M9pistol. Similarly, there are no MWOs authorizing the painting of weapons.
e. Expected results of unauthorized modification:
WARNINGUnauthorized modifications to small arms weapons may cause damage to theweapon and/or death/injury to the operator. Combat readiness andreliability may be reduced, causing the weapon to become unavailable incritical situations because of stoppages, malfunctions, or the weaponbecoming non-operational. To avoid these issues, weapons should not bemodified.
3. User Actions:
a. Inspection Procedures: Weapons shall be inspected as per theapplicable technical manual to ensure the weapon is fully mission capable.
b. Corrective Procedures: Any rifle, carbine, machine gun, or pistolthat has an unauthorized modification applied shall be converted back to theoriginal configuration with the appropriate original or replacement/repairparts as listed in applicable technical manuals. Painted weapons shall havethe paint removed to the extent possible short of ruining the protectivesurface finish.
c. Policy: The interim policy (reference B, see links below) providesguidance on submitting requests to improve/increase unit operationalcapability including the Operational Needs Statement (ONS) process.
5. Supply Status: Any requisitioned items needed to configure weapons backto standard/original configurations shall be done so at the unit's expense.
Crimson Trace Grips work great on an M9. Changing out the stock grips to CTGrips does not change how the weapon functions. The culprit for stoppages has always been bad magazines and worn out weapons.
Changing out the buffer tube and buttstock assembly does change working parts, but the damn receiver is the same for both the M16 and M4. I know this, you now this, and any gunsmith worth his/her salt can configure any pair of upper and lower receivers into any damn configuration you can imagine. The same is true for the m240 machine guns.
Oh well, guess I'm going to have to keep turning a blind eye to CTGrips and ergo pistol grips. If that makes me a bad leader then so be it.
19 February 2009
Today was a good day. I got to take my Company snipers and a good portion of our Dedicated Marksmen to a long distance (shots out past 600 meters) and practice the basic fundamentals of rifle marksmanship.
There are a lot of skills that make a soldier a warrior, and accurate fire is a core requirement. I got to show off a little bit. In an Army dominated by m4's with ACOG's I drew an old M16A2 from the arms room and used the iron sights to make consistent hits out to 615 meters. Later I got to have some fun on an m24, putting lead smudges on freshly painted 10" disks at 500 meters.
These are not "elite world class" skills, just consistent application of the fundamentals. Sight picture, breath control, sight picture, trigger control, sight picture, follow through. Since I haven't had a lot of trigger time this last year (not on Uncle Sam's dime anyways) it almost feels like I had a day off at work.
18 February 2009
If I would have answered "yes, it is wrong for democratic nations to overthrow foreign dictators" then I would have had a "perfect" score of 100% liberal (freedom loving) as by the UK's libertarian party standard.
Warfare is what it is. If it is in my best interest to have a regime change then it is in my best interest to have a regime change. It is not "gross arrogance" to put the smack down on someone who is threatening our way of life. Would I give a rats ass if the grand mufta of BFE Bananarepublic didn't have an affect on my way of life? Hell no.
This "live and let live" ideology works great if the other guy isn't out to destroy you somehow. For a concrete example of this, see Israel and Hamas. I love freedom, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the world should be free of consequences.
I didn't think anything more about it at the time. When I got home my wife handed me the literature that came with her script and I began to read through it. Ever since I started learning about biochemistry I have always read through the literature about anything I can get my hands on.
When I got to the "contraindications" section there was a very specific warning about not taking nitrofurantoin (Macrobid) between weeks 38 and 42 of pregnancy. This raised alarm bells in my head, so I got on the internet to find out more, and it turns out that nitrofurantoin can cause anemia in the baby.
Our child's due date is the 26th. That meant that my wife is well into week 38 and almost into week 39 of her pregnancy. I was a little upset, so I had my wife call the "on call" practitioner for a second opinion. Once she started explaining the risks the on call practitioner agreed with my assessment and prescribed a much safer antibiotic.
I am not a medical professional, just a guy who found chemistry interesting enough that I kept studying it until I had enough credits to get a BS. I'm willing to give most primary care providers the benefit of the doubt because practicing medicine is not an exact science, sometimes a swollen knee is bursitis, sometimes it's cancer. But prescribing a drug that is harmful to a near term fetus boils down to either incompetence (not knowing about the tools of your trade) or simply not caring about the patient.
There really are no risk free options in medicine, and as long as the risks are explained to the patient it is ok. But the nurse/midwife didn't explain any risks to my wife, and neither did anyone in the pharmacy. Thank God for the printed literature that comes with a prescription.
Bottom line, if you are prescribed a new drug you should read all the literature that comes with it.
15 February 2009
Normally when something has such a "tacticool" name it falls into one of two categories, first category is piece of crap made in China in black nylon (cause nylon is teh ultim8 tactical fabric) and the second is a piece of gear that is actually good gear but has a much longer than needed name.
The Spec Ops sheath falls into the second category. There are two lengths of sheaths offered, on for blades up to 6 inches, and one for blades up to 8 inches. I recently purchased a Swamp Rat M6 so I picked up the "short" sheath, in solid ACU grey. http://www.specopsbrand.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductID=27#
The website above has a product price of 49.95, but on post the sheath went for almost half that. I still don't like the name, but I love the "Made in USA" sticker on the back.
Initial impression is that this is going to be a hassle free piece of kit, as all pieces of kit should be. I would have over engineered the belt loop attachments even more (by adding a sewn fixed loop between the two MOLLE compatible snap/velcro loops) but my experience with MOLLE fasteners is that the fabric will fail before the attachments come undone.
I will continue to post updates as I use it more, both the sheath and the knife, but unless I gripe, assume that all is well with the knife/sheath combo.
14 February 2009
One of the cool things about working for Uncle Sam is all the federal holidays become 4 day weekends. Normally I use these days to catch up on sleep, but since Ikea was having a sale and the wife wanted a "Malm" 3 drawer chest I wasn't going to say no. Beside I didn't even get her a card for Valentine's day, hopefully she'll be happy with the trim being installed around the new window in the nursery.
We ended up picking up two "Malm" three drawer chests at Ikea since the "one per household" limit had been lifted, as well as a 400 thread count sheet set and a larger "Lidden" entertainment shelf. The entertainment shelf has long been a sore spot with the wife since we outgrew the current one sometime last year.
Now the title of this blog really references how I really didn't fit in with the crowd at Ikea, and when we got to Fry's I couldn't find the "do it yourself" portion of the store, so I asked a customer service rep who took us to the complete opposite corner of the store, where all of a sudden I fit in with the crowd.
Everywhere before this everyone was dressed "Seattle Trendy". If you don't know the type it is an "outdoorsy" jacket from REI/Northface/Kelty color coordinated with the rest of the outfit. When we got to the do it yourself section of Fry's it was a bunch of guys in uncoordinated clothes who had an unmistakeable air of quiet competence around them. The customer service reps in this part of the store didn't have the "polish" that they did in the consumer electronics sections, but they too looked like they knew there way around a soldering iron and jumper settings.
I picked up some Arctic Alumina thermal epoxy which I used to permanently attach heatsinks to the processor, ram, and signal amplifier of the WRT54G now running Tomato. Also picked up a 10 foot USB cable for $1.39 for my brother. Restocked on RJ-45 ends as well, just in case that I need to make more patch cords or LAN cables.
Now here is where the leap from one subject to another happens, the people in the do it yourself section seemed a lot like the people that go to "gun shows", and the people who frequented Ikea and the consumer electronics section of Fry's seemed like the people who don't.
There seems to be large canyon between the type of people who fix their own problems and the type of people that want others to fix their problems. We dress differently, have different priorities. No wonder that they don't like us, we must seem weird and unstable, people willing to *gasp* go out in public dressed like working class stiffs.
I guess that it is a pretty big leap, and I know that there are those who straddle both sides of the canyon, but yesterday the demarcation was so well defined.
12 February 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama reaffirmed on Tuesday his pledge to invest in the U.S. military and review major weapons programs, vowing to end abuses and cost overruns in the current defense procurement system.
The White House posted a list of defense priorities on its website shortly after Obama's inauguration, mentioning by name Boeing Co's C-17 transport aircraft and a multibillion dollar program to replace the Air Force's refueling planes.
The administration said it would build up special operations forces; expand the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marine Corps by 27,000; and end the current stop-loss policy.http://www.mashget.com/2009/01/20/obama-renews-pledge-to-invest-in-military/
The Obama administration asked the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2010 by $55 billion, more than 10 percent of last year's $512 billion defense budget.
The announcement came late Friday, following a meeting at the White House between President Obama and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Gen. Jim Jones, chairman of the National Security Council, according to a Fox News report.http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=87759
What a difference 12 days makes....
In other news I traded the RD-9 for a much smaller Busse knife made of INFI steel. I'd put both the YardGuard and RD-9 up for trade and there was a lot more interest in the Ranger than the Scrapyard product. I wasn't looking for a knife as small as I traded for, but the INFI steel has such a reputation that I have to check it out. Will post a review later.
It seems that other people are big fans of Ranger Knives as well, so check them out if you need a serious knife at a good price.
11 February 2009
This is an excellent demonstration of your obvious bigotry and prejudice- something so close-minded that you couldn't possibly coexist with people who may not think the same way you do. It's not about being right, because there is no "right". It's about being an amazing egomaniac. Your opinion or yourself and your views must be pretty amazing.
Cause it isn't hypocritical at all to believe that self esteem is a good thing, unless someone else has self esteem and they decide that they don't want to do what you think they want to do.
Every human being has some value, even if that value is nothing more than target practice. And if I had to choose to take a bullet for Breda or for "anonymous" it would be a simple no brainer for yours truly.
When someone trains to use a weapon, and carries that weapon to defend themselves and others, they are saying "I value my life and the lives of others". When someone calls her selfish and egotistical for not wasting her time on people who would take away her option to protect herself and others, SHE HAS EVERY DAMN right to stop dealing with those people in her personal life.
It isn't a "selfish" choice, it isn't an "egotistical" choice, it is a choice of priorities. She values her time, effort, and resources and wants to spend them with those who respect her and her choices. That is a logical and empowering choice.
I hope that anonymous develops ass cancer and is sterilized from the resulting radiation therapy.
This is to be expected in a winter with LOW SUNSPOT ACTIVITY.
Just as higher temperatures were to be expected in periods of HIGH sunspot activity.
Al Gore is full of hot air.
09 February 2009
So thirty dollars later (the newest version costs 55 bucks at amazon.com) I have a version 2 router. The older models with the larger amount of Flash memory and RAM were so popular that Linksys re-released the version 4 as the WRT54GL (rumor has it that the L stands for Linux).
Anyways, first thing I did when I got it out of the box was pop open the case and add a small GPU heatsink to the broadcom processor to keep things cool if I decide to wring out the last spec of performance by overclocking. I haven't overclocked anything yet, but others have done a stable overclock to 250 mhz from the stock 200.
Next I loaded Tomato 1.23, you can download from http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato if you have one of the compatible Linksys routers and are interested.
Since Tomato has a lot more options than the stock Linksys firmware it took a while for me to figure out that there was a box that let me change the mode from "router" to "gateway" to provide internet access to client PC's. One of which is running Ubuntu and one Vista 64. For some reason my iPhone won't connect through the wifi even though the computers will.
There is much more playing around to do, both with hardware and software.
Hat tip to Gewehr98 at neural misfires. http://neuralmisfires.blogspot.com/2008/03/linksys-wrt54g-and-tomato-firmware-are.html
And in unrelated news, but nonetheless an awesome bit of geeky goodness, I also snapped up a TI-89 Titanium graphing calculator for almost half price off of craigslist. When I get around to finishing up the Calculus series (have to do Calc2 and 3 and probably Differential Equations) and Linear Algebra I'll be well armed.
07 February 2009
Tastes like wet barley spiked with a citrus scented floor cleaner. From the description of the varieties of hops involved I was hoping for a flavor explosion. Instead I got the flavor of suck.
Either they are shorting their recipes because of the hop shortage or this is just a crappy ale.
9 buck for a six pack and not even as good as a cheap macrobrew.
As an officer they can't give me an article 15, but they can reassign me to a crap job or court martial me, sink my career with a letter of reprimand.
Anyone think that the NRA or Second Amendment Foundation is big enough to take on I Corps?
06 February 2009
Solution, hold down two buttons for ten seconds forcing a reset of the iPhone. Simple enough solution. So simple that a search revealed nothing from apple.com although I did find it later as step three of their troubleshooting guide.
Also during this week I started the paperwork for a branch transfer. There are two reasons for this.
First my timeline as a Lieutenant has been so screwed up that I will not be competitive with my yeargroup for promotions beyond Captain. Normally a new LT spends a year as a Platoon Leader and then "rounds" out their development as an XO, Specialty Platoon Leader, or Staff Officer. Because of manning issues I was pushed up to XO to fill a vacancy, and now there isn't time for me to finish 12 months of Platoon Leader time before I get promoted and have to attend the Captains Career Course. DA Pamphlet 600-3 has been updated a few times since the Long War began, and the "fully developed" timeline has not changed.
Secondly the Army under commissioned officers from 1992 to 2002, and subsequently OVER commissioned following yeargroups to account for wartime attrition. This means that year groups 2003 to present have been working to fill the gaps left by our senior officers as they fill gaps caused by a lack of numbers. Hence why I got tapped with less than 2 months in the unit to take over as the XO.
A transfer into Military Intelligence or the Signal Corps will make my irregular timeline as a Lieutenant irrelevant for my professional development in that branch. Those branches routinely assign their own LT's to the Combat Arms to get junior officer development and have a "leveler course" to ease the transition.
Twice now a Senior Officer has talked to me about transfering branches, one because his LT timeline was abormal which left him not competitive to be promoted to Lt. Colonel. The other is my Battalion Commander who told me that if I transfered out of the Infantry he would try to use that as justification to keep another officer in the Infantry. Either way he loses an Infantry officer, but if I transfer out it keeps in my buddy Bill who has hit all his developmental positions. From the BC's position this is a no brainer.
When I was a young soldier I wanted to be a good leader. I thought a good leader focuses on his men and not his career. I thought that just by doing your best that it would be enough to advance up the ranks. As it turns out, that is not completely the case. My boss is being a good leader by keeping me in a job that screws up my timeline because it is the best thing for his unit. I am glad that there is a way for me to remain competitive with my yeargroup, but sad that it means I have to leave the Infantry.
Then again everything could change tomorrow, but I'm not going to waste my hope on change. Better to deal with reality now than gamble on the future.
03 February 2009
This isn't healthy behavior, but it is all pretty "normal" for a young couple. What is abnormal is that she got so angry that she called 911. This is where our story takes a turn and starts involving me.
The State of Washington has some of the harshest Domestic Violence laws and procedures in the union. This couple found out by experience that when a woman calls 911 because her husband pushed her, he's very likely going to jail. The policy is that if 911 is called for domestic violence then SOMEONE is going to jail, and most of the time that is the male.
When I visited her last night she didn't want anything bad to happen to her husband, she didn't want him to lose his 2nd Ammendment rights, didn't want him to lose his career. The only problem with that is it is all out of her hands now. She cried again when I explained that her husband had a "No Contact" order for more than a month. He can't go home, play with his dogs, or even see her.
This is not the outcome that she wanted, but this is the outcome that happens in the State of Washington. She misses him so much that she is sleeping on the couch wrapped up in his poncho liner. He would never hit her, never abuse her, never demean her, and she knows that. What she wants now is for all this to go away so she can have her husband back. But she can't have her husband back because the court ordered him and his Chain of Command ordered him to stay away.
Womens rights have come a long way, but that doesn't mean that flexing those rights is going to get you what you want. In this state is isn't uncommon for a Judge to rule on what THE JUDGE thinks is in the best interest of the woman no matter what SHE WANTS. Dysfunctional relationships have put women in abusive positions for so long that our legal system has no problem stepping in and telling women that "you may think you want to drop charges, but we are going to press charges on your behalf because it is really in your best interest". Tell me where the "women's rights" are in that?
If you ever want to be grateful for the life you live, spend a day sitting in Family Court in your county. The way people treat each other, the terrible things they do to each other, all to hurt each other using the law as a weapon. It breaks my heart. In this case she didn't mean to unleash an unstoppable machine down on her husband, but there is no "off switch" for the Nanny State.