Archive for the 'Fun' Category

10 Days

May 2, 2011

So, a lot changed since that April 18th post preceding this one. Let’s just tick some things off the list:

– I got engaged to Tamsyn last August. That was very nice.
– I passed my first semester of law school at Texas Wesleyan. Fun.
– I got to visit Tamsyn after Christmas due to snow storms and horrible service from American Airlines. That was incredibly frustrating followed by lots of joy.
– I started a hobby of painting and modeling plastic and metal figures, which I wish I had more time for instead of homework.
– My son turned six, I hit 28. His party was better than mine.
– In ten days and four tests (one today) I’ll be done with my first year of law school.
– In two months and 14 days I’ll be getting married to Tamsyn in England.

So if you’ve got some spare prayers or happy thoughts, I’d appreciate them the next 10 days.

What have you been up to?

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Good Times

September 13, 2009

Did I totally skip the month of August? You bet! It’s been a great couple of months since I left the military, and I have been busy, busy, busy despite my current lack of employment. No rest for the weary, they say, but since leaving Germany I have yet to get tired of this new life.

I spent weeks with my son and we have gotten to understand one another again. This is important. He listens when I say things because he knows I mean them, both when I reward or discipline him. Rewards happen more often because I can’t help but love him, but he’s a four year old boy. Every boy needs some correction now and then, or else they’d be robots. Also, he’s started Pre-Kindergarten and loves it. I’m not one to brag about my son (all day: I have to rest and get a drink of water sometimes), but he gets compliments from his teachers each day and even received one from another parent!

I have gotten to spend time with friends I haven’t seen in years. I go over and play video games with a buddy while our kids play together (which is weird in a fun way), I play my pen and paper tabletop games once a week with old and becoming friends gathered around the table. I’ve seen my grandmothers more than just once a week for the two weeks I used to visit when I was on leave in the military. My cousins and I have been able to hang out and see each other sometime other than Christmas or Thanksgiving.

The only thing I haven’t done yet? Get a job and post on here. Well, there’s one thing taken care of. If finding a teaching or paralegal job was as easy as blogging! I don’t get enough traffic on this site for it to even supplement my income, but I know people who do. I’ve identified a potential new career path to explore!

If anyone who reads this needs an odd job done, let me know. I’m sufficiently odd to fix a variety of problems! Also, I can open jars, lift heavy objects, and conduct thorough legal analysis. Call my cell, I’ll work you in to my schedule if you need me.  I jest, of course. My resume is posted underneath “Pages” on the left of this post, then “Work Resume.”

I did update the Flickr page with some pictures of Luke and I showing a friend from the United Kingdom around the Fort Worth Stockyards. It was hot that day, in a classic Texan fashion, but it was fun. Check them out here.

I think this post contains a record number of exclamation marks in one piece of writing that I’ve done, so I should probably stop now. Suffice to say, this time has been good to me and I would like to share it. Thanks for reading.

New or Old Times

July 26, 2009

Old friends are hard to come by. By definition, they have to be friends first, which are not the easiest thing to find all the time. Second, they have to be friends for a period of time long enough to start sentences with phrases like, “remember the time back then, when” or something similar. And third, they can’t be hard to catch up with. If you can’t talk to them now, then something has changed drasticaly or you just got along well and might not have been friends. There’s a difference.

I was happy to see a lot of old buddies and to eat a lot of good food. I was proud at how much fun my son was in company and how he impressed so many with his wit and charm. I am humbled by all the other people who said thanks to me for serving in the Army and have never gotten used to people doing that. It does make me feel appreciated.

But most of all, I found out there are people who mean something to me even if i hadn’t seen them in four years or four days, and the fact that they still care about me blows my mind into a fine particulate of former disbelief. To all those who stopped by, thank you again. You made my night.

Father – Son relations

July 13, 2009

I’ve been home since the 7th of July. You’ll have to excuse my lack of posting, but I am enjoying the time with my son too much to sit on a computer for too long, unless he is sitting in my lap as we play a game. I am sure the parents who read this can understand.

Tonight, he is asleep and this is the first night I haven’t fallen asleep at the same time he has (curse you, jet lag!). To give you an idea of the kinds of activities that are keeping me busy as a slowly reintegrating father, I have, in the past week: gone to the park 3 times, McDonald’s twice, helped make cookies, fought countless battles with plastic lightsabers, taught my son 10 vocabulary words (I am an aspiring English teacher), swam in the grandparent’s pool every day but one, woken up before 8 AM every morning, made several dozen juice drinks, taken a couple of pictures, and gone to church. All of this is, of course, with Luke.

The highlight of my week, if any single activity is more precious than another, has been playing Lego Star Wars with Luke, on the Nintendo Wii. We have played through the Episode IV content, and are working on Empire Strikes Back. And, because we’ve been playing the games, we’ve also watched A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back in the past few days. My son, who was excited about Star Wars before he ever watched a movie, and had only seen a couple of episodes of The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network, is now ga-ga for Jedi. I couldn’t be happier.

The best singular moment, though, was when Luke Skywalker learns that a certain someone is his father. Last Christmas, my mother, being the savvy mother of two geeks like she is, bought me a red plastic lightsaber and my son a blue lightsaber. When Luke, Skywalker type, has his hand cut off by his father who wields a red lightsaber, Luke, my son type, looks over at me with a very suspicious look on his face.

“Darth Vader was Luke’s father,” he says, more as a statement than a question.

“Yes.”

“But he cut off his son’s hand with his red lightsaber.”

“Yes. Luke Skywalker didn’t know it was his dad he was fighting, who is a bad guy.”

“His dad is a bad guy?”

“Yes.”

“My blue lightsaber won’t really cut anything off.”

“Right.”

“Or your red one.”

“It definitely will not cut anything off for real.”

“Ok. Can I have the red one anyways?”

I ate waffles with fruit, ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and powdered sugar for dinner!

May 29, 2009

Belgium is a wonderful country. They have their priorities straight. There was definitely that European tempo to life in the city of Brussels, where people would just sit around all day in the park or on benches, as if they were exactly where they needed to be. It’s like they were acting as backgrounds for my tourist experience, encouraging me to loaf along side them. Amazing. The weather was perfect the whole trip as well, being sunny and warm during the days, and just cool enough for pants and short sleeves at night. Everyone was out and about.

I did eat a waffle as described in the title of this post. It was great. I then had a nice hot cappuccino afterwards while sitting outside  in the Grand Market Place in the middle of Brussels.

I went toeach little restaurant in the square, sampling a different beer at each place. Belgian beer is strong, but it is tastier than most beers. I can drink an ale usually, but just plain American beer doesn’t taste good to me. Even nice German stuff gets too strong for me after two, at most. But the Belgium stuff tasted better and was stronger. The average American beer is two to three percent alcohol by volume. German beer sits around five or six. Belgium beer was nine on average, so it doesn’t take much. Good thing I didn’t have a rental car, I suppose. I never would have been able to drive it!

The chocolate is as good as they advertise and have a reputation for. It was curious to see many foreign chocolatier there as well, like Godiva, but as long as they made the products the local way, it all tasted exquisite. It’s pretty hard to mess up chocolate confectionery treats. Gauging from the wide range of product selection, I think the chocolatiers think this way:

Step 1: Find something edible.

Step 2: Cover it in chocolate.

Step 3: Charge Euro for it.

Step 3: Profit!

Speaking of charging Euro for things, I found a tie that said Brussels, Belgium in a pattern over the tie. After finding a nice tie in Paris, France last trip, I think the rule from now on is I must buy a tie wherever I travel on vacation or holiday. If I plan on being a teacher, and will be expected to wear ties, then I need more than the 7 I had when I worked at the bank. No one expects bankers to dress with variety, just nicely. It won’t be anything like Troy Dungan and his bow ties, but it will be a bit of flair. Realistically, if I wanted 1 per school day, I’d only need about 180 ties.

Now that I’ve typed 180 ties, that sounds like a lot. It will be one of those long term goals without any actual significance.

Go check out the pictures I took in Brussels by following the link to my Flickr page on the left side of the blog. The shots of the Market Place at night are my favorites.

Even More Paris Pictures!

May 5, 2009

I went to Paris again, this time with coworkers. It was fun. I actually got inside the Louvre, which was a pleasure denied to me last time. I almost, more or less, made this trip to go to the Louvre, but I also got to see Paris at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower, which was amazing. The city must spend a fortune lighting up all the monuments and attractions so you can see them so well from the top. It was definitely worth the second trip up the elevator lines. You can see those pictures if you click the link on the left side of this blog.

The first time I went to the Louvre, we got there 15 minutes before it closed on a Tuesday, which was 5 PM that day. This time, we got there right at opening, and I spent the majority of the 4 hours I spent inside looking at sculptures and ancient artifacts. The logic behind this is that I can study paintings by looking at pictures of the paintings. Some small details, ones I don’t know enough about painting to appreciate, will be lost on me, I understand. But sculptures are something that are meant to be engaged in a 3D environment, walked around, and studied from different angles. I saw ancient works of Art like Venus de Milo, up to contemporary French pieces, and many masterpieces like the Borghese collection. It was wonderful.

Also, I got to see a lot of half naked marble women! I saw some less than decently clothed men too, but that’s the price I pay for being a student of the liberal arts. Jokes aside, it is suprising the attitude towards the representation of the genders. During times that are classically depicted as sexually repressive, when the “flash of ankle” was scandalous, you could go to the local manor and see a representation of Diana, Hercules, Aphrodite, Mars, Liberty, or a other classical subjects completely naked, or wearing a misplaced sheet.

The one thing I did notice is, hairy men were only in style during the 1960s and 1970s, because every single statue of a man, if he wasn’t wearing a cuirass or some other kind of armor, was hairless, except for his Grecian curls or Roman stubble. I suppose men waxing their chests has a history longer than most other cosmetic practices. Who knew there was the oldest profession in the world first, then hunter-gatherers second, artists third, and a close fourth was someone to give you a good bikini or chest wax?

They really did have it all back then, except for electricity.

Marathon Update

March 10, 2009

Yes, I am going to the Paris Marathon on 5 April 2009. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to finish it right now. I am recovering from a month long struggle with shoulder bursitis, which is an inflammation of the shoulder joint. This means, when I ran over 4 miles, my shoulder would ache severely due to the constant jarring from the running, and the only way to get rid of bursitis is to wait it out, take anti-inflammatories, and go easy. Apparently I have a family history of this. Thanks, Mom and Dad! I suppose the above average smarts and good looks you gave me will have to make up for the frail health.

This means the long runs of 15, 18, and 20 miles never got done, and my regular runs of 6 or 8 got shortened as well. I am still going, and I am still running, but I don’t plan of finishing the whole marathon, just the half marathon. That is still an acomplishment, I think, since I haven’t run a half marathon in competition yet, although I’ve run the miles at one time.

It will still be Paris, France (just in case you thought it was Paris, Texas) and in the height of the spring season, so it will be gorgeous. My mother is now coming with me, which will be nice since travels shared are better than travels selfishly hoarded. Plus, I’m adding to the 6 days there by going to England for 9, so I am making good use of my time off.

There will be plenty of pictures. Of note, I plan on re-visiting the sites my Grandfather on my mother’s side visited while he was in Paris with the US Army in 1944 or 1945. I imagine the sites will be almost the same as on the postcards he sent back, but now they will be improved since humans have developed the ability to see in color. Or maybe we saw in color and the photographs were behind… either way, it will be great!

If anyone has some suggestions on where to go, or what to see besides the obvious ones like Notre Dame, the Louvre, le Eiffel Tower, etc, let me know. When I travel, I like to “go native” as much as possible, so I try to eat at little places and learn enough of the language to sound local, although this time I’m going to pretend to be a German tourist. We’ll see how well it works.

Fleshwound! Right on!

February 22, 2008

Well, I finally got my first wound here in Iraq. It’s an awe inspiring story that somehow involves a distinct lack of insurgency.

The gym I go to is perfectly small for me. You can’t fit but 8 people in it until it gets crowded, and there are just enough things to pull, push, climb and lift to get a good workout. I don’t need variety, I just need some dumbells and space. No mirrors for the vain, and no circulation except that which the open door and desert wind provides.  

I was doing abdominal muscles. I was alternating sets on two different inclines for sit-ups, a podium to do reverse sit-ups on, and hanging from the pull up bar to do L shape lifts, where I bring my feet up parallel to the ground. It gets tough in combat boots. 

About 15 out of 30 minutes into the workout, I grab the pull up bar with both hands close together, and turn sideways to bring my knees up into a tuck. Ususally you don’t hang straight, but lift with your arms so you clear the ground. I pull on my arms, and…

Pow! Stars and spots of quickly changing colors burst in my vision. I say something not too nice (I am a soldier, remember?), and blink a couple times. I look up and notice the middle part, where people do not expect you to be pulling up, is connected to main machine and the support bar has a corner on it, which I must have hit. Wow.

But I’m a tough guy, and finish my workout over the next 15 minutes. I go inside and back to work. I am sitting at my computer, thinking very hard on how to solve the Iraqi problem, when a coworker comes up and stares in horror. “What is that on your head!?! Why are you bleeding?!”

“What?” I get nervous. I run my fingers through my head, and find a big spot all clotted with the 3 days of hair growth I have. Wow. I hold a paper towel over it, and like most wounds on your scalp, it takes forever to stop bleeding. Now I have a bump on my head like the old Warner Bros. Cartoon characters.

My first blood loss in a war zone, and it’s accidently self inflicted. I don’t think they give medals for those.

Halloween?

October 29, 2007

Someone mentioned to me that it was going to be Halloween soon in the good ol’ USofA. I’d seen a sign up at the Dining Facility advertising something about Halloween, but to be honest, I had forgotten about it. Understandably, the military does not want soldiers to be dressing up as people they’re not supposed to be, which is why we wear rank, nametags, and a person can get in trouble for wearing someone else’s rank or nametag. The idea of Halloween got me to thinking, though.

No St. Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s day. Those state holidays like Veteran’s day or Memorial day, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, all come and go, pass us by here in Iraq, with perhaps a ceremony presided over somewhere on the base for half an hour. Nothing exceptional, since we don’t take days off.

It’s odd, but it’s necessary. But I will miss the odd Labor day, or even the unofficial ones like Halloween. Trick or Treat!

Vroom, Vroom.

October 5, 2007

So I got to do some driving in a HUMMV over the past few days. Those vehicles are beasts, let me tell you. The speedometer only goes up to around 70, but there’s nothing better than flying down a three lane road at 40mph, passing the convoy, the gunner on top going, “Woohoo!” and screeching to a halt to block some traffic so that the convoy can proceed. Rolling over some sand dunes while explosions and gunfire are rattling off, and the radio crackling with frenzied voice traffic could be close though.

Of course, I only say it was fun because it was training, because if I was doing the same thing in actual combat conditions, I’m sure I’d be scared witless as all this happened, but at least I now know such manoevres are possible. The fact that it was almost 130 degrees out dampened spirits a little bit, and that I hadn’t had a shower in 3 days made the vehicle smell a little bit, but this the Army stuff I signed up for. I am lucky to get to sit in an office most of the time, but then to also have a chance to do the fun training. JAG Corps, hooah!

All Army grandstanding aside, I am glad to be back in the relative civilization that contains running water and a chow hall.

I will be moving again soon, so I will post when I have some time and opportunity. Hope to hear from you soon!

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