31 May 2009

AT 09--Day 2 continued

My fuel tank

My accident was minor. I was going around a serpentine obstacle (concrete barricades offset so you have to snake around them, in order to slow down traffic and prevent vehicles from rushing onto the base (remember Beirut?)) into the Forward Operating Base (FOB) (where everyone will be staying during the firld portion of our stay), and it was a tight fit with an MTV tractor and a 30-foot trailer. I had enough room on the left , and I asked my A-driver (passenger), an experienced truck driver, if I had enough room on the right. He said I had plenty of room, and a couple of seconds later I heard the concrete scraping the truck. The furlough tank was damag, but not punctured, so it's still driveable. I'm sanguine about this, because it wasn't my fault at all; I trusted my A-driver, which you're supposed to do. If I'd been by myself, I probably would not have wrecked, because

AT 09--Day 2

Windmills from the motor pool

Well, yesterday was pretty interesting. The company had a total of three accidents yesterday, one of them mine. The first was pulling out of East St. Louis, when a female soldier hit an electric pole with her trailer when turning. The second was on the Interstate. A truck blew a tire and pulled over. The wrecker pulled in behind them to assist. Possibly because they were trying to pass one of our trucks that was in the left lane (to avoid the vehicles on the margin), a car sideswiped another car right into the wrecker. This apparently involved a couple of other cars as well. Reportedly, the car was totaled, and the wrecker has some scratched paint. The good thing about this is that we did nothing wrong; this wreck was in no way our fault. The bad thing is that the lady in the car had was injured and evacuated to a hospital.

29 May 2009

Annual Training 2009--Day 1 continued 2

Well, apparently we were observed, because I got pulled aside later and asked, "are you a swinger?" When I said no (swinging and polyamory are NOT the same thing), he said "two?" and I said, "yeah, I've got two girlfriends." He said "I didn't know you had game like that. Why haven't you been bragging about it?" I told him the reasons I gave above, and he said that he couldn't think of any rules I was breaking. So maybe I had nothing to worry about after all, or maybe it's because he's cooler than most. Interesting, anyway.

Stupid trick of the day: I had to copy someone's military ID, then when I went to give it back I couldn't find it. I checked the copier, retraced my steps four times, and asked everybody if they'd seen it. I was worried, and very confused. Turns out the First Sergeant had used the copier and snagged it in the two minutes before I came back to look for it. Arg.

Annual Training 2009--Day 1 continued

I don't know if I'll need it, but it's nice to know I can use my phone's cool mapping feature if needed. We had some difficulty binding down the commo huts; not enough chains and binders. This is frustrating, for one thing because it's actually not our job to provide tie-down materials. It's the shipping unit's job. But no one ever remembers that, so we have to provide them, and we often don't have enough. My girlfriends dropped by during this to say goodbye. Yes, I said girlfriends. Yes, they know about each other. No, I am not going to explain the details of polyamory right now. The point is that this arrangement has been going on for about two years. I've not exactly been hiding this from the military, but I haven't flaunted it, either. I figured, "don't ask, don't tell." I thought it might get me looked at askance, especially if I were to become an officer, something I've long wanted.

Annual Training 2009--Day 1

I'm trying something new: attaching two pictures at once. Let's see how that works. The second one is of my son. So: Three posts in one day. This is my last National Guard summer camp; I'm retiring. So expect these entries to be a lot more candid than my previous ones. I'm still not going to criticize people by name, though. If I have problems, they're with the institution, not with individual members. We left Cairo this morning, went to Carbondale, picked up some commo huts (to be delivered to an undisclosed location; OPSEC is always good practice, even stateside), and came to East St. Louis. I drove an MTV, Medium Tactical Vehicle, one of the Army's newer trucks. It's a lot nicer, though they still don't have air conditioning. I don't understand that, given we're fighting in the hottest parts of the world. Oh, well, 2/60 AC still works. Luckily, it has a cigarette lighter, so I'll be able to charge my phone on the road. This is useful, as my phone has GPS.

Inland Hurricane--wrap up: Continued

Wups! The previous post got sent too soon. As I was saying, what we had been calling an inland hurricane was apparently officially a 'derecho.' You'll have to look that up; I can't provide links from here (I'm posting from my phone). Secondly, there's to be no talk of this being a result of global warming (as I saw on democracynow.com). This is the second one of these the region has seen in thirty years. So unless you're going to say that the effects of global warming were in full swing in 1980, leave climate change out of this. Big storms happen occasionally. Thirdly, lessons learned. An obvious one is: have backups. We had a hand-powered emergency radio--that the kids had hidden somewhere. So we had no input from the outside world for several days. Do go over your disaster plan and supplies regularly; batteries corrode, lamp oil runs out, and during an emergency is no time to discover this. Also, don't eat MREs that are over ten years old. Yech.

Inland Hurricane--wrap up

Well, everything's pretty much back to normal around here. All power is back on, Internet and other utilities seem to be working, most of the brush and debris has been removed, and the local radio stations have long since returned to normal programming after having 24-hour disaster talk radio while the power was out. But some signs still remain. Walmart is ridiculously overstocked on C batteries, having gotten tons in to cope with the shortage; several houses are still damaged, some severely so; tree-cutting and disaster service trucks can still sometimes be seen; many billboards and business signs are still damaged (McDonalds signs seem to be particularly vulnerable to having the plastic blown out of them); and many signs still display things like "we have phone chargers," "Chainsaws in stock," and "Chainsaw Sharpening." So this seemed like a good time for some parting thoughts. First, although I and others have been calling it an inland hurricane, apparently it was actually

13 May 2009

Inland Hurricane--Day 7

Power came on last night, about 10:30 p.m. It was kind of sad, but it was certainly nice to have a working stove and fans and refrigerator. Life can get back to normal now, I suppose, although the cable/Internet is still out. And like I was saying, I realize we really do depend on electricity for a lot of important things--food storage, temperature control, communication--but it was nice to get out of our lighted caves for a while, feel a part of the community around us, and slow down for a while. However, there's a storm, hail, wind, tornado and flood advisory for tonight, so we'll see.

12 May 2009

Illinois Hurricane--Day 6

Electricity is starting to come back on. We don't have any yet, but I expect that to change sometime today. I saw more and more streetlights outside my window every time I woke up. It's kind of sad, actually. We get to go back to the same old everyday existence we're used to. It's amazing how dependent on electricity we actually are: that is, not as much as we presume. After three or four days, you get into a routine. Sure, continually cooking on a grill gets old, and we've had to find innovative ways to charge our cell phones, but it's amazing what you can live without if it comes down to it. Yes, I understand that if there were no electricity or fuel, our methods of food packaging and delivery, our transportation, communication, heating and cooling (we're very lucky the weather has been mild) and construction would not work. Our society would grind to a halt and we'd have to revert to older, less efficient methods. More later; my phone limits text sizes.

11 May 2009

Inland Hurricane

Okay, I've used this blog to record my military adventures in the past, but I don't see anything wrong with using it to record my adventures in general as well as updating folks about events in my life. On that theme, we've had a hurricane! Yes, in Southern Illinois. This is the second one of these I've lived through. The first one was 29 years ago, in March 1980, right after we first moved to Herrin. I'm not sure which one was worse, as I was 9 at the time of the first one, and didn't get to see as much of the damage. Our power was out for about a week, though, so it was probably similar. But this was certainly a hurricane. I saw the Katrina damage, and although that was certainly much worse, this is definitely of the same order. It hit on Friday afternoon, and we've been without power--the entire region has been without power--since then. I've responded to disasters, but I've never been a disaster ~victim~ before. That's all for now, other than to relate that everybody's ok