“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Kids These Days

Ever since the first hoplite looked at the second and said "You know, it was harder when I joined," (if not earlier) there has been a military tradition of "These days they're soft, don't have to go through what we did," and the like.

Well, this past week I spent teaching a class that was about 80% military bomb techs and 20% civilian side. The youngest military guy was 19 and the oldest was in his thirties - and all of them have been "doing the job" long after I passed any torch I even remotely held on to.

And, I got to watch them closely, share bits of knowledge, evaluate their skills and all of that other stuff.

Ladies and gentlemen - your men and women in uniform are exceptional, and I say that without reservation. Yet again I saw a collection of young professionals who knew their job, who took it seriously, who had great questions, who were motivated to get the job done, and who did nothing but impress me. You can be proud beyond measure of the people who have volunteered to defend your country, and I am honored to have even the slightest role in hopefully helping to make them better. If this represents the caliber of the modern military, particularly with all the budget issues and such, then I am amazed at what they have done.

Thank them and respect them if you get the chance. They've earned it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

How my life has changed

So I'm wrapping up a work trip tonight. Teaching for a .gov agency the past week, out of town with the hotel room, per diem and all that stuff. It's been a productive trip not only in terms of accomplishing the work stuff, but hanging out with guys with a similar experience set, sharing jokes with folks "in the club" and networking for future opportunities. And now it's the last night before heading home.

Which means at one time in the past I'd be spending tonight in a local establishment, socializing and sampling the libations, until I reached a point of "I need to crash now if I'm going to be functional to drive home tomorrow." Hanging out til the single digits with comrades in arms and sharing laughter and tales.

Instead, it's 10:30 in my hotel room, and I'm wondering how soon I feel like crashing. I have my own beer, music, and nothing else. Because I'm at my saturation point for humanity this week, and I can use the time to chill.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

This is why I advocate body cameras for officers

I hate to come in and second guess people, to Monday-morning quarterback the guy on the street as it were.

But this is a bad shoot. There is no other way to describe it.

I wasn't there. I won't presume to guess what was in either man's mind which led him to make the choices which led to that fateful moment. I don't know if it was a matter of race, of power, of poor decision making, or what.

It was absolutely, unequivocally wrong. There is absolutely no way I can look at this as an officer, as a firearms instructor, or as a human, and remotely justify this shooting.

The only remotely decent thing I can see is that the local jurisdiction immediately moved to charge the officer, and that he has been terminated.

Please don't turn this into a referendum on national actions. Please don't paint us all with the man's brush. I don't know why he did what he did, but I cannot in any way excuse his actions, and I am glad he is being held accountable.

And thankfully we are in a society which openly exposes this act, as opposed to hiding it, or worse, condoning it.

A well done approach for warriors in the world

Monday, April 6, 2015

Things I try to keep in mind raising my own children

People like this are the ones who came before us. And it gives me far more hope that my daughter may grow to such strengths in her own ways...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I'm afraid it's over

Look winter. You gave it a good run, really. But now you’re just being clingly, sticking around and things are getting… awkward…
It’s not your fault, I’m just ready to move on. 
Thanks for trying - but I’m afraid I’m going to have to end this and find someone warmer, less snowy, and with longer days. 
Hopefully you can understand. 
*me totally done with this season*

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Please Read and Consider

Twenty Two.

I want you to remember that number, we're going to come back to it.

Over the past couple of years you all have graciously put up with some of my discussions regarding the issues facing our military veterans. Things like post traumatic stress. Traumatic brain injuries. Social acceptance and re-integration. A plethora of things which our society, our Veteran's Administration and our own warrior culture make difficult, if not life-altering for those who have served their nation overseas. Particularly given the stigma such labels bring - whether the issues of society, medical and legal judgements regarding one's stability and safety in the community at large; or the (often more demanding) internal group pressures to "suck it up," "put it behind you," and all the other things which makes it hard for men and women to accept these problems, much less seek help for them.

And, with overseas conflicts continuing to involve our troops for a second decade, as well as an unstable international environment, there is no end in sight - which only means more people who have chosen to serve will have to face these issues in one way or another.

Twenty Two.

Multiply it by thirty = sixty six.

By 365 = 8030.

You see "Twenty Two" is important to me, and to a growing number of other people.

Twenty Two is the number of veterans, each and every day, who commit suicide in this nation.

That's the number of men and women who, for whatever reason, decide that the pain is too much, that there are no other options, and that the easiest way out is to end their own life. Leaving their loved ones, their friends, their comrades in arms to deal with the aftermath. Making a final choice to kill themselves rather than to struggle on.

I want to give you a number for comparison. 6133. That's the TOTAL US casualties from 2001-2014 in Afghanistan and Iraq combined for military troops.

We lose more men and women every year to suicide than we have in over a decade of combat. Think about that.

Twenty Two people a day.

Which brings us to my request today.

As I said, a growing number of veteran's organizations, families, and other groups are trying to combat this. Attempting to fill the gaps which the VA can't reach, and to cross the bridge through peer support in hopes that a shared bond can help some of these people find hope instead of losing it all.

One of these is #Mission22. The group came of out certain special operations units but is rapidly growing beyond that. Their mission is particularly to address the stigmas involving PTSD, TBI and veteran suicides, and to help our brothers and sisters.

As part of this they are holding a raffle as a fundraiser. The goal is to raise $20,000 by May and they are already halfway there. 

Winning prizes include a custom, hand-built 1911 pistol as well as a host of other items.

Tickets are $5 each.

Here's what I'm asking - go to the site.

Sign up for at least one ticket. But I'm asking something more.

Between ticket(s) and donations, give the group at least $22 dollars. However you choose to split it. To remember why we are doing this, the Twenty Two lives that ended today.

I need a custom .45 like I need a third arm, but I'm doing it. $22 is less than it costs to take my family through the drive-thru for lunch, and it's a much worthier cause.

In fact, I promise this - should, by some chance, I win - I'll auction the package off and donate every cent back to #Mission22. Sworn and promised here publicly.

If you can all afford it I beg you to donate as you can. Forward this as well, spread the message to those who can also help.

Let's push them over the top in ways they never imagined. Let's drive this mission forward and help these men and women find some peace.

Those Twenty Two deserve it.

Peter Grant is an Evil Man

Oh sure, he's a nice guy... generous, intelligent, author, ordained, all that stuff. We like reading his stuff, talking with him, and heck even take advice at times.

But don't be fooled.

The man is EVIL. I know this from experience.

Our evidence?

Well, a month or so back, good old Peter took himself a road trip with his wife to visit some fellow bloggers. During which he casually mentioned picking up a jar of moonshine cherries during the trip and his enjoyment thereof.

How does this make him bad?

Well, last week I was on a work trip through the same part of the country with one of my Federal counterparts. As we passed a sign advertising a local moonshine distributor (legal sort TYVM), we both expressed an interest in trying some out, as apparently we'd both never been exposed. And, remembering Peter's words, I figured "What's the worst that could happen?"

After talking with the very knowledgeable and helpful lady who owned the store we made our purchases - I picked up a jar of the aforementioned cherries, and a bottle of a smokey moonshine I was told would be a good starting point for someone who enjoyed single malt scotches, sipping tequila and the like. Whereupon we drove home, recovered from the trip, and I have now had a chance to sample each.

The cherries? I probably wouldn't enjoy them straight, but one or two on top of a warm brownie, or with some ice cream? Yum!

The smokey moonshine? It will clear your sinuses and is a great sipping drink (IN MODERATION!!!) on the record cold nights we've had lately. Definitely something I'm glad I tried but oh boy it has some kick.

I blame you Peter, and I'm calling you out publicly on it. Now I have to remember where I bought this stuff and make a return trip. You lured me with your words, and I hold you responsible sir!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bless His Heart

We recently got a new supervisor over our section. Just due to the nature of things, we don't have any supervisors in the agency with bomb experience, so it's nothing new - but he is smart enough to know what he doesn't know. I have a good relationship with him from work in other areas, so the past month has seen frequent questions in emails or stops at the office as to how my unit would handle certain situations, what some of our procedures and equipment are, and the like. All part of helping share my knowledge with the department and part of the job.

Now, one of the expectations of my job position is that you answer the phone. I get a lot of freedom to come and go, or use time off when needed, or to do all sorts of other stuff - but. you. answer. the. phone. when. the. boss. calls. Particularly as bomb calls and tactical events tend to be rather tense and time-critical it's certainly a fair expectation. So the family and I are well-versed in the fact that my phone may ring at odd moments, and I will shift gears to answer it and prepare for whatever may come next.

Tonight was one of those times. We were in the post-dinner bath and bed cycle for the munchkins when he called & I answered. It started out with a "so if you had a situation involving such-and-such, and you ran into this type of device, what would you do?" - letting me figure out pretty quickly that it wasn't a "get dressed and run out the door" moment as I started to get a few more details so as to answer him properly. From the way the conversation was going I wasn't sure if this was a possible training scenario he was discussing, or something that had happened elsewhere he wanted more info on. But we worked through what he wanted to know in a few minutes as I walked him through the decision tree I'd use.

Then, he just got me to shaking my head... because he closed it up by saying "Thanks, I was just watching this show on TV, and they didn't do any of that and I wondered why."

Bless his heart, really, because I do appreciate that he wants to learn my side of things - so that when I am asking for stuff, or telling him what I am doing on a call, at least he has a grasp of why. But, you may reasonably presume that any "bomb squad actions" you see on television or in the movies are relatively distanced from reality, at least to the point that you don't need to call me at eight at night for an explanation...