In today’s lesson we went over Elder Perry’s “Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families”. The first quote we went over, even though it was far down in the talk, was “Women who make a house a home make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies or stand at the head of impressive corporations”. What followed can only be properly described as woman bashing. “All these women today who just want to build their little towers which will crumble instead of building their families.” Etc etc. I mentioned that this was just a gender specific rephrasing of McKay’s “Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home”, and that the doctrine was gender neutral, and did not in any way apply only to women. This didn’t go over well in class, as the consensus was that I was being argumentative for no good reason. ugh
Seporah has been sick. Yesterday (Monday) she was diagnosed with Strep and she has been taking amoxicillin. She missed a big test at school today but they are letting her retake it tomorrow. She was a zombie yesterday, slept through most of the day, but today she was a little better.
We spent a solid portion of the day making Christmas ornaments for Mom. I think they turned out ok. We followed a Lifehacker tutorial for printing onto wood via some wax paper and then lacquered it up. It turned out pretty good, but I think something with bolder colors will turn out even better. I expect to do a few more projects before Christmas. Märia has been having me make Nativities for her, which is quite fun.
I have been reading quite a bit of Saga. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was never a comic book reader. At least, I didn’t read the stereotypical “super hero” comic books. I read the occasional Richie Rich and Casper and Archie (I loved Betty and Veronica, go team Betty!) but I never dug the guys wearing underwear outside their pants, and I still don’t. (That is what TV and movies are for.) But I got into the continuation of Buffy, and then read some Serenity/Firefly and Jericho comics. Dr. Horrible. And then I found Y: the Last Man. Really great writing. Go check it out. Also: Runaways.
Careful with Saga, it isn’t for kids. It is definitely mature material. That does not in any way take away from its greatness. It is about a family on the run, a warrior who has taken a vow of peace, and an antihero who makes you want to stand and cheer. The female protagonist is a reader. I love readers. Seriously, my favorite thing to do with Seporah is to see what she is reading, suggest books to her, and read her suggestions. She told me to read Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi and I was not disappointed. She also loves Calvin and Hobbs. It will be hard not to favor her. =)
I just finished watching Arrow and The Flash. All my shows are on Hiatus for the winter break. Let us not fool ourselves. Arrow isn’t dead. Seriously. Remember the Buffy Bot? Something similar or a resurrection will be happening in January. =)
So Phillip has very occasionally gone to a Mother’s day out program when Märia was working there as a substitute, but he has never been to a real, all-day daycare. Seporah and Felicity actually never went to an all-day daycare either, so this is all new ground for us. It is pretty much just going to have to happen, as Märia will be going to work at Midland Memorial, and I will go to work somewhere as soon as my back heals enough that I am able to. We are looking at three different programs, and hopefully he will be accepted at one of them at the turn of the year.
We were asked to bring baby pictures of little Phillip to church this coming Sunday, and it was a trip seeing them from way back when. He has grown so much in the last nearly 3 years. If only we could get him potty trained and to where he listens a little more. He likes TV a lot more than Seporah and Felicity did at his age. I really hope we can get him into books a little more like his sisters.
And now my promised MRI picture. If you look at it, there is half of a vertebrae at the top of the picture, cut off, then a whole vertebrae, and then the broken one. It may not look like much to you, but it isn’t pleasant. I am in this TLSO brace until at least 24 January, and we will see from there.
I am still watching too much Arrow, and still working quite a bit on my CCNA studying. I will probably watch UFC 181 this weekend, and Invicta 10 also. Michelle Waterson is the Karate Hottie =). I scheduled my CCNA for 27 January at 9 am, so expect news about that then.
So I broke my back. I will probably post pictures of my MRI showing the broken vertebrae later on. It isn’t pleasant. I am in pain pretty much always, although Motrin and Tylenol help. My wonderful wife has been her usual wonderful self. She takes care of me and the kids, and will start working at Midland Memorial Hospital the 15th of December.
I am studying for the CCNA which I hope to take in January.
I am listening to Metric and Anthem Lights recently. Last book I read was Visitors by Orson Scott Card. I finished it maybe 2 weeks ago, read it on my Kindle. I have been watching too much Arrow and kept up with Castle and Brooklyn Nine Nine. Most everything else has fallen by the wayside with my sleeping a lot while I heal and studying when I am awake. Pray for me to heal and get back to providing for the family.
Jules curiously watched as the bald man in the bowler hat put down the crust of his sandwich, looked up at her, and winked. She knew that she shouldn’t be staring at strangers, but she also knew that strangers shouldn’t be winking at her, so she wasn’t sure whether she or the man would get into more trouble with mom. The man gave her a warm smile, placed his opened briefcase on the sidewalk next to the bench he had been resting on and lightly hopped into it. She looked up at her mom to see if she noticed, but she was busy paying the baker for some day-old sour dough that Jules knew she was going to have to eat with watered leak soup. The baker hadn’t noticed either. It was the most remarkable thing Jules had ever seen, and no one else had noticed.
I have been blessed with an incredible number of spiritual experiences in my life, and yet I am utterly faithless. I don’t understand why. I truly want to believe. I have often said that if there were an “I believe” button next to me, one that would clear all doubts and grant me faith, even a blind faith, I would push it and push it and push it. I receive answers to prayers. I sometimes make choices based on promptings, and things go well, and I say it was a wise choice I came up with, and perhaps more often I ignore promptings and say my choice really didn’t change much if things go against me.
Today I took my truck into Midas. It had a serious oil leak, and I was putting a quart in it a week. Also, it shook and rattled until you wanted to cut out your own kidneys, and squealed enough to make you want to cut off your ears. The air conditioning was sporadic. It was just on its last legs. Midas told me that I had a couple options. I could leave it as is, and get another several thousand miles out of it, perhaps as many as twenty thousand on the high end. Or I could replace a specific part on the front. If I replaced that part, it would give me a fifty fifty chance of fixing the vehicle, but if it wasn’t that part, but a part behind it, that they couldn’t see, then I would require an engine replacement. That simply wouldn’t happen because the money just isn’t there for an engine replacement. Here is the kicker: if they took off part one on the front, they probably would never be able to get it back on if the problem was actually in the rear, and the truck would never move without a new engine.
I didn’t know what to do. I prayed for guidance, and received a very clear prompting to have the front piece removed and replaced, and not to worry about it might ruining the truck. Sure enough, the cheap and easy replacement fixed the vehicle, shaking, a/c and oil problems! And yet I wasn’t even home from Midas and was already doubting the inspiration. That was just myself, my brain, making the best of a horrible situation and gambling for the best result, or so I tell myself now. How can I remember as strong a prompting as I suspect happens shy only of visitation, and yet doubt so consistently?
So nothing much has changed here. I have settled into my 9-to-5 except it is 6-to-6, day shift, 7 days a week. Some days nothing much happens, some days it is 12 hours in the incredible sun of desert Afghanistan. My lovely wife packed 5 bottles of sunscreen for me and several hats, and so far I have not gotten a sun burn.
I do have a new address. The unit that I am attached to is headed home, so I have to use the “general purpose” address for the camp, which is somewhat slower, but that is ok.
APO, AE 09373
Below: Me in one of the helicopters sitting next to an Afghani interpreter. I think this was the 53.
Here are my travels so far:
7 June to 22 June:
Commercial from Norfolk to Dulles
Commercial from Dulles to Doha
Commercial from Doha to Kuwait City
C-17 from Kuwait to Kandahar, Afghanistan
C-130 from Kandahar to Bastian
53 from Bastian to Dwyer
53 from Dwyer to Delhi
Osprey from Delhi to Geronimo
Osprey from Geronimo to Dwyer
53 from Dwyer to Marjeh
53 from Marjeh to Bastian
C-130 from Bastian to Dwyer
That is some traveling! The 53 helicopter spits out hydraulic oil like crazy. I totally ruined a pair of pants from all the oil. All of this traveling after the commercial flights had to be done in full battle rattle, including flak vest with plates and kevlar helmet. It is far from comfortable. And talk about LOUD! Even with properly inserted ear plugs, the helicopters are deafening! The crews really know their job though and are incredibly professional.
So I was traveling with a buddy the whole way along. He is the WPPL expert (wireless point to point link – a big line of sight radio) and I was to soak up everything I could as he taught marines. His name is Rob and he is just the nicest guy you can imagine. He was born in Texas but has lived in Georgia most of his life and totally has the southern charm down, distinctly different than the south-west charm you see in Texas.
This is Rob and I am pretty sure we are in an Osprey in this picture.
This was at one of the smaller FOBs (Forward Operating Base). They had the cutest little Afghani kittens. We would be in the middle of a lesson and the class would screech to a halt because they would be doing something cute and demand attention. I have never been a cat person, but you just had to fall in love with such gentle creatures in such a harsh environment far from home.
This is looking out the back end of one of the birds. They all fly with the back end and side doors open and manned with gunners. If you look closely, you will see a square compound of some sort on the ground. There are hundreds of these out in the desert, the vast vast majority of which are deserted. I don’t know their story, but imagine them to be amazing. Probably more interesting in my mind than in reality.
Here is a picture of Rob “reading”. He totally posed and asked me to take this picture for him.
I am not posing at all, just reading my book, waiting for a chopper and clueless to the world around me. He said he got 5 shots before I noticed.
You may not know what that is just by looking at it, but it is the “piss wall”, the only place to “go number one” on one of the smaller FOBs I visited. You “go number two” in a bag and burn it, seriously. I had the particular displeasure of walking by the “wall” when a female was utilizing it. It was actually more modest than a male using it, as she had an “extender” of sorts, but it was still disconcerting. It was very uncomfortable using it out in the open. There were only 5-7 females on this FOB of fewer than 200 dudes. They walked around convoy style, never leaving each other alone. If you look close enough, you will see bottles of hand sanitizer on the sand bag walls.
This particular day they sent a whole flight just for me and Rob. Seriously, just me and him on the whole bird, besides crew. Talk about making us feel important!
This is the sign you see as you exit the flight line and enter Camp Dwyer, the place I live. I used the stock pictures of the planes and helicopters above because there are strict rules against taking pictures of the flight line. Anything else is fair game though, including pictures while you are actually on the birds.
And this is the tent I live in with 10 other guys. I get a bunk to myself, and a 5 x 8 foot area next to it, enclosed in blanket walls. It is plenty comfortable, more than I expected.
Thanks to the several of you who have left me messages on the number I left for you to call. In case you missed it, it is under the address a couple of posts ago. I really appreciate the messages! Sorry I haven’t answered the phone much though. I actually am working 12 hours a day, every day. No days off, probably for a long time. We just don’t have enough people for a better schedule.
I am somewhat miserable, missing my most wonderful wife and adorable little girls. I am managing though. Until next time!
But alas, it was not to be. I arrived here at Camp Dwyer two days ago and got a little training but am now off on a ten day jaunt to see three different forward operating bases.
For those interested in exactly where I am, here is the readout of my gps/Google Maps:
I flew in on a Blackhawk and today get to fly on an Osprey, a lifelong dream since reading Hammerheads as a teenager. Will update when I can!