Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Care

It must be a generational/cultural thing, but I just don't care about this whole decision one way or another, it is just a non-issue for me. I am an Army National Guard Officer and I really could care less whether my Soldiers are straight or gay (open or not). I just care that they do their job and not cause me too much trouble. Now I can see why some the Army branches (Infantry) as well as the Marine Corps overall get the heebie-jeebies about this, that is their culture and this represents a change that offends them (which is funny since I imagine that most gays would not be entering those lines of work anyway).

What is funny is how you can actually track the odds of acceptance of getting rid of DADT by age groups. My Dad? Very much against it, even though it has zero affect on his life. He seems concerned about fraternization as though this is a bigger issue with gays than hetero's. It isn't. If they have an inappropriate relationship in the field it doesn't matter whether it is the same or different sex, it is still fraternization, and will be dealt with accordingly (hell, its better since it decreases the chance of the female soldiers "accidentally" getting pregnant, having to be sent home and then everyone else having to cover down on their job).

I already work in a mixed unit, where ~15% of my unit is female. 40 years ago the concept that so many of the combat support units, which are often in the line of fire (Signal units, Military Intelligence, Military Police) would be so composed of females was considered odd. Times change. I bet you 40 years from now the fact that so many gays had to hide that fact will probably sound a bit odd too...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Federal Pay freeze

I am a federal employee. Believe it or not I am actually fine with the general idea that the COLA increases that we would get are frozen... I get it, the economy sucks, not a lot of people are getting anything resembling pay raises. I am happy that I have a job that pays well and gives me a reason to get out of bed (hard on cold days like this) as well as a feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day.


In the end this was all about making a symbolic easy decision that will get lots of play while the country's leadership uses it as cover to avoid making the really hard decisions. Let's face it, Federal employees are great targets, in the grand scheme pounding on us will have virtually no political downside for the President or anyone who votes for it (does anyone really think that the vastly liberal government workforce is suddenly going to vote Republican?). And for the rest of the country we are one big stereotype of being overpaid and under-worked that, other than the military and a few other organizations, gets little love from either side of the aisle. I would be more accepting if this was part of a bigger plan to actually balance the budget.... Instead we are the sacrificial virgin who gets thrown in the volcano to show that the chief is trying to do something about the problem.

This solution is predicted to save 2 Billion dollars in FY11, 28 Billion over five years and maybe 60 Billion over the next 10 years. Sounds massive and impressive right? But what else are they really going to do? The federal deficit for FY09 was 1.42 Trillion dollars (1420 Billion....). The total federal debt? 13.856 Trillion dollars. So this move saved 0.15% of the current deficit (at best 0.45% if the end of ~ 6 Billion per year is realized). This isn't even what you can call a good start toward solving this problem that threatens every single American and our way of life.

Ask me how this feels when I see a plan that actually proposes to solve this crisis (and kills the crushing debt that looms over us). Until then all I can say is that the lava really hurts (though in the grand scheme this doesn't hurt me too much personally) and that the volcano is not satisfied with its latest sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Walking in a Race

This is aimed at the people who plan to walk more than 2/3 of a race. Running and walking is perfectly reasonable system (I walk up some of the steeper inclines at all the water stops of most races). And this really isn't aimed at the reasonable walkers who start back in their time appropriate area. This really is for the... hmmmm... special... yeah, that's the PG word I would use.... walkers who decide that the best place to start is waaay up in front.

So, you like to walk. Good. I and most of the other people who run respect you for that. You have chosen to walk a distance longer than most Americans walk in a week and that is awesome. You could be the biggest person around but there will be no mean words or glances at you because you are trying to better yourself. Everyone has to start somewhere and it is awesome you are trying. This event has been something that you have probably planned to attend and *gasp* maybe even trained for quite some time. Really, that is awesome!

I know that some races are better than others in figuring out where to start. A lot of the bigger ones use corrals, where you look at the numbers and start in the area based on your start time. And even for the ones that don't? Do you need to start in front? No. Because if you do? All you have to do is turn around and look at all those people behind you. Those people that will have dodge around you during the first mile or so. I know that it is exciting to be up in front and see the empty road ahead and actually see the people who start the race. Its an exciting thing.

But.... I want you to take a look around you. Look at the runners who are way up in front there. They look pretty fit, don't they? And even those people behind you... They look might fit as well. Heck, as far back as you can see? They probably are all able to run far faster and longer than you can right now.

Remember how I said that I respected you? Felt pretty good, right? Want to know how you destroyed that respect in an instant? Yeah.... You guessed it. You started in the wrong place. I and a whole bunch of other runners now have to dodge your clueless ass during the first mile as things. Are we thinking nice things about you as you mosey along, often 2 or 3 abreast, forcing us to dodge and weave as we start that initial shake out? Nope. All that respect you earned by trying to better yourself is killed by the fact that you are not respecting the rules of our tribe. Because a good runner (and walkers, since there are a bunch of your people way in the back of the pack) looks around, gets in the right corral (if they are there) or just gauges the crowd and picks a fairly reasonable starting place (after a decade of running I can pick really well... I often end with the same crowd that picked at the start) based on his/her ability and the people around them.

This problem really does shake out after the first mile or so, but it really is annoying and leaves me in a less than happy mood. My brothers and I often estimate that we run at least .1-.2 miles extra at the start dodging your ass. And, yes, I probably am in fact growling/muttering at you as I run around you. And most definitely I am picking on you as there are more than a fair share of runners who deliberately choose to start at the wrong place, but.... they have to dodge you as well, which further complicates my brothers and my runs.

So please stop and engage that all too often turned off feature (at least in modern day society), show some courtesy to the people around you. Start in the right place and you will make a lot of runners out there a lot happier.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chicago Urbanathalon

"Don't cross the streams. Why? It would be bad." - Ghostbusters

Too bad the people that run this race didn't pay attention to this directive, as, for the first time ever at a running event, I had across the flow of runners coming back from another part of the race. This is a bad idea. Along the lines of never, ever do this.... This may be the worst managed race I have ever been to, with awful pre-race communications and very few volunteers on the actual course.

Overall however it was a lot of fun. I was dirty, sweaty, bruised and bloody by the end of the race, but it was very fulfilling to cross that finish line (even if I needed a boost on the final wall). My final time was 2:15. If it was just a 10 miler (total distance was 9.75 miles) I would be quite sad with that time, but given the obstacles I find it tolerable.

And the obstacles were fun and challenging (mostly)!
  • Obstacle 1: The concrete beam - not even a challenge. The Big tire - oomph. First try had me "wiley e. coyote"-ing down the side. After stepping back and figuring out I slammed myself up and then crawled over (losing one of my pins holding my number on). The little tires - not even an issue.
  • Obstacle 2 - jersey barriers to go over, police barriers to crawl under. This was an apparently endless set of 3 of each. It was quite an endurance exercise, since you had already run 4+ miles at that point. I cut my finger at this point.
  • Obstacle 3 - Crawl over cars - aborted because it was unsafe per race officials. Marine High Hurdles - whoah... There we 6 of these. I think everyone knew I was going over them (based on my war cries). A very ouchy process of hurling yourself at the target and hauling yourself over. Very proud I did these right.
  • Obstacle 4 - Some sort of high/bear crawl under net - too easy for a guy who has done military low crawls for 1-200 meters. Monkey bars - Short and quick. Only holdup was some chick who froze on the last bar in front of me.

And then my left hamstring locked on me and I lurched .5 mile, stopped to pee and then moved onward.

  • Obstacle 5 - Lots of stairs. Lots!!! Another holdup due to poor traffic control and obsticle management. lots of standing around in crowds moving very slowly.
  • Obstacle 6 - The final obstacle. Car - Half stomped over one. Then tried to be all police show-y and slide across the next, failed and got stuck, so more clomping. Bus - Climb over net then back down. *Yawn* to anyone who has been in the military (and by that I mean Army and Marine). Wall - I did fail on the first attempt and was not too proud to accept a hand from a neighbor to get over.

I wore my Vibram Five Fingers for the race. There were about 20 people also wearing them (apparently our secret club acknowledgement is to say "nice shoes" to someone else wearing them. I learned this by the repeated call of that from the people who passed me). My feet are somewhat beat up even on Monday but in more of a just overstretched/tight perspective.

This was the first race that I have ever personally traveled for (since DC has so many great races nearby). Not sure I will do this again in the near future, but it was a lot of fun and a great way to hang with the family (3 of my 4 brothers ran it (see above pic) and the respective wives and GF's (including my GF H) came in addition to our parents.). We ate our way across the city (pizza and other assorted foods) in celebration.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bad Blogger...

yeah, whatever. So I am a bad blogger. It's not like I haven't done some cool stuff in the past 3 weeks. I went to Vegas, drove to the Grand Canyon, ran a Half Marathon (Wilson Bridge Half Marathon) and done my usual Army stuff. And of top of that I have to write academic stuff for my courses at NDIC. I have some cool stuff in the next couple of weeks (most notably a very cool trip to Chicago with 3 of my 4 brothers to compete in the Men's Health Urbanathalon) that should get me stirred up. I am probably going to do something on the half marathon, that was an interesting and good race.

I blame Twitter and Facebook. Those sites make it so easy to post little vignettes that it seems to disturb writing in a larger terms.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

CupcakeCamp 2010

Wow, I think I am in diabetic shock. My Girlfriend (above), who I often refer to as CupCake Girl, decided that she really wanted to attend this event. She even signed me up and we both got to attend.
There were an amazing number of cupcakes. I think we sampled (shared) some 20 of them (in our defense a number of them were mini's). I actually reached the point, even though there were more cupcakes coming down the stairs that I felt I had to stop.... And then go for a long ass walk to clear some of the sugar out of the system.

Overall the cupcakes were great (amazingly the first one was probably the best). I kind of feel sorry for the people at the end, since we pretty much reached a point of shock from the sheer number and variety of the cupcakes. I didn't quite get the people who were taking them home (I thought the whole point was socially sharing the cupcakes, not grabbing ones to take home).

Overall a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

9-11 in Uniform

This is only the second 9/11 that I have spent in uniform (and last year I was putting it on to go to a classroom). But this time it felt more poignant, as I was in charge of a Company (we had about 40 people doing things) and we were doing more Army type stuff. We were out on a range, ensuring that everyone had qualified with their rifle. I did make sure that we did take a minute (not at the morning times since we were busy at the time) to note the significance of the day, then we made sure that everyone went back to work. The other time I noted it personally is when we went rapid fire to shoot off the remaining ammo at night (we got lots of tracers and illumination rounds.

It was a SPENDEX scenario (expend the ammo exercise) which is part of the joy/quirk of the Army procurement/logistics system where you get penalized if you do not expend all the ammo they gave you), and on top of that I had promised the firefighters (who we had to call in twice already that evening) that if they just hung around for a bit I would ensure we wouldn't have to call them again. So out went most everyone onto the range, 12 firing positions for rifles and 2 for the grenade launched flares. I kind of wish I had pictures but I couldn't resist the temptation of shooting off 150 rounds of ammo, mostly tracer (my true hint that my people like me? There was never any doubt that they put away ammo because they know I love to shoot). It was awesome, people went into burst fire, flares were drifting (at one point we had some 8-9 flares in the air at the same time... I may have shot at them, and everyone knew because I had the tracers).

I would have never guessed 9 years from the those tragic events (where I felt helpless in my parents house watching those terrible events) that I would be out here, wearing our country's uniform with 1LT rank running a range, helping to train some people who, in a scant few months will be on their way to Afganistan.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Kings Dominion

I came, I saw, I vomited my guts out. But I still considered it a very good day.
My main regret is that I didn't lose control of my stomach on the aptly named "Hurler" but on the more pedestrian named "Anaconda." (that would have made the story far cooler....)

Through some combination of breakfast, snack and soda, combined with the intensely hot and humid weather I created a virtual storm that set me up for my momentary loss. It didn't help that the park was virtually deserted. There were basically no lines, the only inhibiting factor was however long it would take you to walk around and re-board the coaster. This also was probably a factor in my loss. In short order we were able to walk up to The Dominator (very cool new coaster with lots of loops), the Intimidator 305 (305 foot drop, 85% downward angle and a top speed of 92mph. I think I saw my vision greying at the bottom) which we rode twice, then the classic indoors ride Flight of Fear. At that point I needed a short break (as I was profusely sweating, which should have presaged what happened) before pressing on to the Anaconda.

Which was a mistake, as about halfway through I knew I needed this ride to be over as soon as possible. Perhaps one of the worst waits I have had in a while was sitting waiting to head into the loading area, desperately thinking and hoping that I could hold it in (the best hint to my brother was that I had turned monosyllabic, answering most questions statements with a simple yes or now). Finally the train rolled into the station, I bolted (as fast as my then rubber legs could take me) to a point where I vomit off the edge. And then after barfing twice I felt so good it was beyond description. Some soda, a little bit of walking and I felt a million times better.

Throughout the rest of the day I avoided coasters (just hanging around and looking at the crowds). My brother did hit all the other major coasters (The wooden ones, Rebel Yell, Grizzly and Hurler as well as the Shockwave) and together we also hit the water park for a couple of fun rides (Tornado is by far my favorite. The big funnel is just plain fun to be deposited into).).

We finished things off at the park with one final coaster, the singularly awesome Volcano. I think it took more time to walk to the loading area than it took to ride the ride, but it is such a blast of a ride that it was hard to resist, though I did sit out my brothers second trip on that ride and the Dominator.

All in all a great day (even with the vomit interlude). There is something cool about being at an amusement park and having the run of the land, not having to wait for anything.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Restoring Honor.

Ok, so I didn't go. I probably would have if it hadn't been for the prior planning of the GF to schedule a free night in Annapolis at one of the historic inns (which was quite fun. I cannot remember the last time I was in Annapolis).

But I think if I had been around I would have stopped by (good incentive to go for a walk and see some entertaining people). I kind of like Glenn Beck (and now that any liberal has stopped reading this let me continue).

He is entertaining. And likable. Does he go off on rant's that feel like they should be accompanied by full rolls of aluminum foil? Hell yes.... But.... He also doesn't tell people to simply take his word for things, he tells his viewers and listeners to go off and do their own research. This is a really great message that you do not see from a lot of talking heads, and ironically borrows from the classic Hippie theme of questioning the man. Are there people that simply take him at his word (and probably misinterpret it?)? Of course. You find those people in pretty much every movement/following that you find (look how many drank the Obama kool-aid in 2008).

Oh well, onward and upward to November. Maybe we will even finally be able at to "Retire Moran" here in NoVa.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

July Roundup

Got a medal (AAM, Army Achievement Medal) for my work during AT.

Played around at Busch Gardens Virginia.
Went to a nice little wine festival in Staunten VA.

Played a fun game (Bioshock 2) and a mediocre game (Crackdown 2).

Went through 5 books (The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell, pretty good military SF).

Overall a pretty good month.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

11 years. That's how long it has been since I have been here (back right after my brothers college graduation). I have driven past it countless times in the past couple of years, but this past weekend the GF and I decided to make it a long weekend (since one of the days of my drill weekend was a family day) and head there on Monday.

Overall? Less than impressed. The beer tour is gone (something I didn't know until I looked online trying to figure out where it was in the park), which I find a sorely missed item. We did pick a good time to head there, Monday was a day that allowed us to walk up to pretty much any attraction.

I think overall I am less of a fan of Busch Gardens because they are following the classical amusement park model, separating the water park from the main park. I understand that Water Country USA is supposed to be pretty darn good, but I have never been there. I much prefer when they are in one park (like Kings Dominion).

The rides themselves? Great! Almost all of them were new to me. Griffon was cool, Alpengeist remains a serious shakeup, Loch Ness remains a pretty cool ride, and Apollo's Chariot is seriously a cool fast ride.

A fun way to spend a day but it will be a long time before this Arlington boy head to BG, particularly since you have to drive past Kings Dominion to get there (at half the distance).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bioshock 2

Having just finished Bioshock 2 (I tucked it away when I first got it during finals, and then life came along and I just now got to it) I just wanted to take a second to give my impressions.

Overall? A great ride. Not awesome like the first (since the first was so novel that I, as well as many gamers were fascinated by it). They did add some things to the system, notable multi-user play, but for me this was a one man (or Big Daddy) adventure. I finished the game after about 20 hours of gameplay. I did it the nice way, by not "harvesting" the Little Sisters (comes back to my morality, I have a hard time tolerating, even in gameplay, the killing of little girls, even if the Little Sisters are some of the most creepy girls you will ever encounter).

Mainly? It felt like more of the same. The only real differences were the fact that you played as the Big Daddy (which meant you started out with the honking huge drill on your arm), the very novel bit where you got to play as a Little Sister (the whole world is clouded and unreal. I did like how they play off the Angel thing was pretty cool), and the novel new opponent of the Big Sisters.

Did I enjoy my return to Rapture? Yes, as evidenced by the some 20 hours of gameplay I devoted to this game. Was it as good as the original? Probably, but somewhat less novel, so in the end the original probably comes out ahead.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Summer TV

Way long ago, when I was a kid, Summer was the Dead Zone. And by that I do not mean the TV show.... Summer was downright awful, rerun hell basically.
Fast forward to today. Some of the most interesting show no longer follow the network's traditional format. The networks themselves continue to put out shows (though they are often fairly weak shows, burn-offs of failed shows or (occasionally) novel shows like Wipeout) but almost all of the excitement is on the Cable side of the house.

SyFy (shudder, how I hate that name) and USA are the main powerhouses. Though AMC and others are nipping at the heels of those networks. I seriously love the SyFy shows. Eureka and Warehouse 13 are just plain fun. I personally think that WH13 is probably one of the best shows I have seen, the show has a huge backstory and overarching storyline, but they really do a good job at making most of the episodes something that anyone can jump into. I am also looking forward to discovering more about Haven. I tried to jump into Sanctuary but it just isn't clicking.... I have all the shows stored up and at a truly bored moment I will give it another shot.

USA continues to deliver with a really good shows like Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and Pysch. I plan to give Royal Pains a try and I am definitely interested to give Covert Affairs a try as well.

Then you add in all the other shows, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Blood, Entourage?

Kids today will never quite get it why they have it so good.....

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day 5000

So while a few of my siblings were off on a bar crawl, me and H (aka Cupcake Girl) signed up for and ran the "first annual" (funny that they kept wanting to use annual.... in my world that requires that they have done it at least once). It was a great course, a little hilly (though there was a payoff in the end when we got to race down to the end to finish strong). I finished in a touch over 10 minute miles (tolerable given my lack of training in the past 3 weeks thanks to Uncle Sam). H also gave a respectable 14 or so minute mile.

We capped off the evening (the race started at 1930) with some Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches (and some bubble tea for me) at the Eden Center.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Annual Training 2010

So this is actually the first Annual Training (AT) that I have ever attended as a Guardsman (Basic Training, then 2 years of OCS, then OBC, then New Equipment Training) after 5+ years in the Guard. But other than the fact that this was a supersized AT (we really could have done without the last week)? Pretty good training.... Lookie at what I got:
This is the Brigade Commanders Coin (for a very storied unit that includes the famous Bedford Unit. Note the Civil War on the units involvement.... Just don't ask which side of the War of Northern Aggression we were on). The other 1LT in my unit and I were awarded this by the Colonel.

I didn't get many pictures since unfortunately my guys did most of work in a classified annex that they were quite stringent in enforcement of not allowing cell phones (and camera's).

I was quite proud of everyone. We had to drive a circuitous route from Hampton to Ft. Indiantown Gap, PA (some 450 miles, all in tactical vehicles like HMMV's (17 just to get my Company's gear up)). Set up quickly and then help everyone else out once we were up. We had 43 people show up and we worked the hell out of everyone. After 2 weeks there we then moved (again by a circuitous route, some 430 miles) to Ft. Pickett VA. We ran a range and then shot on various stuff and then finally back to Hampton, 20 days after we left. For the 2 Platoons that I had I wrote 11 medal awards (all total I think we had 20 award submissions).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Burning question

Ow... OMG ow....

The 2 worst sunburns that I have ever gotten have been on army time. Back in Basic I got a 2nd degree sunburn right in the middle of my chest. Because of the way that the old BDU's sat and the fact that my t-shirts had become deformed over time, a large section of my chest (from Adams apple down about4 inches) got expose. And toasted (we are talking blistering and all that fun stuff).

And now the Army adds number 2 to the list. Partly my fault (because in the end I was in charge) but by the time I realized it it was too late. We ran a 450 mile convoy on Sunday. I ended up driving at least half the distance. HMMV's are hot, the engine often dumps heat into the cab and ventilation is not good. So we had the windows rolled down. And our ACU blouses (as a side we had a long debate about whether they classify as blouses anymore, since they don't button like the BDU's. This sort of conversation comes up often in my unit) were off because it was 100 degrees that day. So as you can figure, it didn't occur to me at the time to put sunblock on my arms. And now I have a truckers tan from hell, since I have a second degree burn on my left arm (blisters and all). I will spare you the oh so fun looking picture......

Oh well, at least this AT is over. 3 weeks is a long time to be away. Whoever said 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year is a liar and should be shot.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Off to Training

Starting tomorrow I am off for 3 fun filled weeks (Signal stuff, 2 convoys (20 HMMVs going 300+ plus miles... my ass already is hurting in anticipation for this one) and even some shooting). This actually will be the first real Annual Training (AT to Guardsmen) that I have attended in the past 5.5 years of being in the military (because of training I have never gone to a real AT). Ah, 3 weeks of getting up early, PT-ing and shaving every morning.... joy.

Hopefully I will have some time to post on something interesting, assuming that I am not too busy.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

This truly is the most somber of our nations holidays. Ironically it represents the gateway into our favorite time, Summer.

It's hard, as I am a currently serving Soldier in the National Guard, to not take a few minutes to think about all the people who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we take for granted. The odds are that at this point some one that I served or trained with is now one of those numbers. The XO of a unit that is associated my friends unit, 1/116th Infantry which is currently deployed in Iraq, MAJ Wayne Culver, is one of the latest to be added to that somber list.

BTW. I hope someone has squared away the President about this holiday. He seems confused and thinks it also includes those of currently serving. We have our own days, this is a day dedicated to our brothers who never got the chance to come home.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Stealing Valor

While Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has apologized for his shameful claims of serving in Vietnam, it still continues to draw my ire.....

I proudly serve in the Army National Guard. I joined over 5 years ago, commissioned 3 years ago, and have never been deployed. The left side of my chest has only 3 items on (that is where citations are on Army uniforms) and I only wear one badge, all of which I have earned. I can think of nothing more disrespectful to both myself and to my fellow Soldiers than to wear anything on my uniform that I did not earn and was entitled to. To do anything less is a stain on your honor.

I actually have more tolerance of people who have never served claiming honors, rank and experience that is not due to them. They do not know better. They do not know the sacrifice of time, blood and, in some cases, life that are the price people wearing the uniform pay. It pains me enormously when it is someone who has in fact served and claims any experience or honors that are not their own.

So AG Blumenthal strikes me as the lowest form of scum, who took something that he should be proud of, his military service (even with his deferments he did in fact serve) of this country at a time where it was not a popular thing. (I talk with my Dad on occasion of his service, and of his time when he was in NYC working for the Navy, where the sailors had to keep their uniforms at work for pure force protection purposes.) This was something he should have been proud of, a bond into a brotherhood of military men, a body of men and women who do in fact stand above those who have not served.

But that was all shattered with his claims of serving in Vietnam. It is ironic that now that it is socially palatable to be a Vietnam Vet, people who have not served there find it acceptable to steal some of that shine for themselves.

I must be somewhat old fashioned in that I expect leaders to be striving for the ideal and be held to greater standard than the rest of us. I truly hope that the people of Connecticut hold their own leadership to that standard, by repudiating and not electing this "man" who stole valor from his military brothers.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Pacers Running Festival Half Marathon

What a wonderful day for a run! I was concerned based on the weather recently (last weekend was awful) but Mother Nature really put out all the stops and gave us a wonderful Mothers Day.
Overall this was a pretty great race, relatively flat, attractive view and of course my GF, H, was there to cheer me on. My only issues were that this course is not the most accessible supporters and that they really could have used another couple of porta-potties.

Final time? 2:24. Basically 11:00/mi. And that included a 2-3 minute visit to one of those scarce porta-potties on the second loop.

Not my personal best, for 2 factors. One was that I made a critical fail and went one scone too far in my pre-race breakfast/snack. Normally I do some toast and tea, but today was tea and scones (3 large ones). And I paid for that indulgence for 3/4 of the race, where I did not make my best time since I had to stop more frequently to prevent myself from vomiting. Additionally this race I was about the heaviest I have been in for quite a while and I could feel that as well.

Now off to celebrate Mothers Day with my Mom!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

It has to be blackmail.

Almost everyday there is always some reference, quote or clip (in the newspaper, blog or news/newstainment source) from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

And every day that it happens the same thought runs through my head....

"Holy crap, that guy sucks at his job. He is doing the sort of job I would expect myself to do, and I am a introverted computer guy."

followed almost immediately by....

"Whatever piece of blackmail he has on Obama must be fricking impressive for him to keep his job (and this is on a President who admitted to doing marijuana and coke)."

Defense Grid

Yes, I am a big old dork, but I love video games. And in particular ones that require you to think (sometimes under stressful conditions). And this game haunted me. I only just now got it out of my system.
Defense Grid is another "tower defense" games, where you earn credits by killing the bad guys which allows you to build or upgrade more towers. The best of breed of these tower defense games has to be Toy Soldiers, but this one comes in a close second. DG throws in the kicker of periodically allowing you to you use a GDI Laser (or whatever you want to call it, basically a evil laser from the sky that requires time to recharge). Sounds simple, right?
About a dozen hours of gaming later I can assure it is not. I think I went to bed dreaming of this stuff until I got it right. Overall? 4/5 stars. Definitely a good way to spend some time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dear Hilton, you suck!

And I don't mean you Paris... I have nothing personal against you, just the hotel chain that bears your name.

Being the frugal individual that I am, and finding that I have to spend yet another night down in Hampton, VA for Army duty (I am not a morning person... yes, I know.. Some would think that to be a job requirement for the Army) as I often drive down at night and get a good nights sleep. And just for grins I look and see if I can get a better hotel than what I can see price-wise at So off to Priceline. And lo and behold, I get a room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Hampton (Coliseum) for the same price as La Quinta or Days Inn.

After driving down on Friday to avoid the traffic I get in at ~2315. I am dog tired from a long week of work as well as getting some work done for my graduate classes, I just wanted to sleep. Check in, get my card and head to my room. I open the door enough to see the bathroom open with someones stuff and a query of who was there. Stormed back to the front desk, informed them that the room was unoccupied. After a little time a new key was issued, and off I went again.

Naively I assumed that there was no way that this could happen twice. I have spent hundreds of days in hotels in my life and this was the first time this had ever happened. But as you can see, I was proven wrong.... Door number 2 opened up to a young woman at the far side of the room, apparently getting ready for bed (dressed in sleeping clothes, not naked). I immediately started cursing, slammed the door and tromped back to the Front Desk. Key number 3 didn't work on the door and there was room service items outside the door, so I aborted back to the front desk yet again. My irritation was at a peak.

Finally I was escorted by a manager (who had been called in as I was not the only person playing the mystery door game) who, ironically, was the mom of the girl I walked in on. Who validated that the room was, in fact, empty. And of course? The TV didn't work. 45 minutes after I first checked in I finally had a room that I immediately passed out in (after setting the lock and the door stop).

I only now have the time to deal with this... Though I am disappointed that at no time since then did Hilton contact me....

Monday, April 05, 2010

Potomac Valley Track Club's Easter Classic 5K/10K

Such a pretty day for a run. Really, other than the parking situation? Probably one of the nicest days, pretty course and nice views. Completed the 10K in just a little over 1 hour. I was very proud of my GF for coming out and doing the 5k. First 5K, eventually a 10 Miler.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Toy Soldiers

Since I was bored a couple of weeks ago I downloaded the new Xbox 360 Marketplace game Toy Soldiers. I really enjoyed it. Basically a tower defense game (points for killing the enemy as they rush your defenses). But using the WWI Toy Soldiers as the OPFOR. As well as flyable biplanes, bombers and drivable tanks. You also get extra points by actually manning the defenses themselves (its how you get combo points). All in a virtual box to make it look that some giant kid has staged these battles. Definitely worth the money a great way to enjoy an afternoon or 2. I also like the coop play in addition to the online play.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Four Courts Four Miler

Wow, did this race not look good when I woke up this morning.... It was POURING and didn't let up until around 3-4 minutes before the race start. But the secret that people who don't know? That as long as you dress right (little things like hats make life tolerable) and plan for temperature, you will be fine and not even notice it as you are running.

Considering I haven't trained half as much as I should (see previous post for how busy I have been) I wasn't too disappointed with my time (just a little under 10 minute miles).

And the course..... Ah, this is a slightly evil course... It is an out-and-back course, going down Wilson and onto Rt 110. Downhill for most of the first 2 miles, and then the hard part. Wilson between Rosslyn and Courthouse is a pretty steep grade. So that last mile was quite a haul and pretty much killed my time. The post race activities were pretty good (though I missed out on getting a special pint glass) and the free beer post race? Really tasted good. As you can see I convinced my GF H aka Cupcake Girl to "run" (jog) with me and she managed to accomplish her goal of not coming in last and finishing in under an hour. When I finished I circled back to join her and provide encouragement.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Yeah, thats my excuse. Finals for class, then vacation to FL (said hi to Mickey), then turned right around and was on a plane to Mexico City (for work! the trip was a blast (even saw some Lucho Libre, got to see some pyramids) and then it was back on the ground for 4 days before heading off to a 3 day drill. In which I got to shoot a brand new grenade launcher (the M320).

The off to a Black Tie Oscar Party at the St. Regis. And I started 2 new graduate courses in stuff that I know nothing about. Oh yeah, its been some frightfully busy times. And now I have to go off to an 8 day field exercise for the Army...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What I am obsessing about (Early Feb)

  • Mass Effect 2 - When I leave this game? I feel the urge to turn it on again and ignore real life. Really, games are getting so good nowadays they create borderline addiction (I guess there are far worse things to have an mild addiction to.... Drugs, alcohol, etc)
  • Borderlands - Same as ME2 above... I addicted my roommate to it.. He has lost several afternoons to someone who I have only seen pick up the controller 4 times in the past 1.5 years.
  • Life Unexpected - I knew I would like this. And damn if I didn't.... I am afraid that my like will doom it like so many other cool shows...
  • Lost - So addicted. Can't wait until the next episode!
  • Chuck - They say it is an all new Chuck. But I think it is only slightly different (and that is a good thing)
  • Amazing Race (yes, one more week..... can't wait. Best reality show ever!)
  • Up - It's cute. Bittersweet but an uplifting story.
  • Angels & Demons - Meh... it was ok.

Oh, and I am also obsessing on my Final for my graduate class, which after a bit of peer editing (Thanks Mom and Hannah) is now done and ready to turn in!

Monday, February 01, 2010

eBook War

Anyone else entertained by the firefight that occured this week? Mostly spurred on by our friends at Apple introducing the iPad you have a book publisher (Macmillan) that choose to try and strongarm Amazon to increase the list price for their books (from 9.99 to 14.99, a direction that I abhore) because that is what Apple was going to list stuff for (for their reader software on the iPad). So Amazon simply chooses to delist all McMillan's books (something like 1/6 of their inventory).

And then the authors get involved....

Now I get it, the traditional contract for authors is based on gross sales (yes, I know it is more complicated than that). But ebooks simply cost a lot less to produce and distribute.

Of course I find myself torn to be on the side of a retailor that is incorporating DRM into everything they sell (ebook-wise.... oddly I choose Amazon for MP3's since those are not DRM'd). But really? $15 for an ebook? That I cannot lend to a friend, prop in my bookcase, resell or even technically own (and what if the retailer goes away? DRM pisses me off). I like the authors and I kind of sympathize with them, but there is a world of distance between and ebook (now, DRM'd and all) and a physical book.

Now I feel the urge to go buy some non-DRM'd books. Thank god Baen (my favorite SF publisher) sells them direct to me at a really reasonable price.

Full disclosure? I own a Kindle 2 and if I ever do by an iPad, it will not be a first gen one....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Best Game of 2009?

I think if you had asked me 2 weeks ago I would have said that Modern Warfare, for all its issues was probably the best. Until Borderdlands appeared in mailbox. And now that I have played it all the way through (yes, I am a bit OC with games and they are an addiction) I have to say that overall? It was better.

Yes, it looks cartoon-y. But it has a neat story, a complex world, very useful multi-player. This is the game that, while evolutionary is a gamers game (everything from a scaling system for bad guys, more guns/mods/shields than you can ever imagine and some fun content.). Easily the best 50 bucks I have spent so far this year (and last, sorry Fallout 3, this blends FPS and a role playing game... it wins). And it even has Zombies!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Does the artist affect your enjoyment?

I always find it so fasinating that people are so tolerant of artists, accepting behavior that if you knew the person in real life that you would make efforts to keep away and defriend them.

I know that for me whenever I see/hear music from Michael Jackson that I am less than interested in hearing or seeing anything more from the man (I freely admit that I was apathetic about his death, it really meant next to nothing to me since his behavior to this point had already made him dead to me as an artist). I just don't know how people are so able to separate the person from their work, when to me they are so interrelated. I just can't do it.....

Friday, January 08, 2010


Spoiler, don't read any further if you haven't seen the film.

Overall? Very pretty movie. I saw it in 3D (really no other option) and was really impressed with the effects and the animation. The 3D leant to the realism and helped immerse you in the movie.

If it wasn't so damn ham-handed in the politics I might have even given it 5 stars (out of 5). But...

Let's start with the Na'vi. I will leave out some of the complaints from the SF realm about our inability to create truly alien aliens, that's just hard to do. But overall it's like they rolled up all the "noble savage" bits and pieces put together from Indian and African belief systems and made them blue. Couldn't be more contrived to draw the sympathy's of the audience if they tried...

But my true ire? The one character that is supposed to be portraid as the noble warrior who rose above his class? The one that I left the movie with an intense desire to kill or see die in the movie? Jake Sully (the other human race traitors as well, but he is the main orchestrator). Oh, words cannot describe the ire I feel at this character who betrays humanity (in the end basically telling them to leave, go home and die). The whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth, too see a human choose to side with aliens to kill other humans. Were the humans the best people in the world? No. But it appears from the commentary at the end that the Unobtainium was necessary for the continuation of the human race (they never it clear what Unobtainium provides, but the ending implies that humanity is being kicked off the planet to the death of Earth... They just imply that it is corporate greed (forgetting that often these corporations are providing key and important services)). Would I bulldoze over a tree to protect humanity (even if it was full of these idealized creatures)? In a heartbeat....