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9 months as a civvie…

And it’s driving me crazy.

Upside, knocking out a lot of college credit rather quickly. Also spending much more time with my family.

Downside, still trying to get a job. Was hoping for a contracting gig, but that seems to have dried up, and the rest of my job search hasn’t been any better. Looks like I’m going to go retail for awhile until I finish my degree and can seek out a commission back in to Big Blue.

Wish me luck.

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Because Erin Asked…

I don’t have access to most of my stuff right now, since I’m in the process of switching coasts (and climates). Here is a general breakdown of my prep gear levels.

Fire kit: I realized a while ago that most of these just boil down to a few variations on the same thing, but mine were all  different items. I decided to have standard items & amounts in their own kit, and just add them as needed to the various levels. Each of these is in a Coghlan’s waterproof pouch

  • Contents: 1x Waterproof match case/tube, 2x Coleman match boxes, 2x Bic mini lighters, 1x flint striker (basically the wheel & flint from a lighter done in a way that throws lots of sparks), 12x fire starters, 3x trioxane (I think…) solid fuel bars, 2x Wet Tinder

Get Home Bag (GHB): This sits in the trunk of my car.

  • Clothes: a pair of sneakers/boots, pants (black jeans or khaki cargo), belt, socks, thermals (if winter/cold location), t-shirt, and a button-up shirt (either ‘nice’ or flannel)
  • First aid/survival: Compass, fire kit, water treatment, 2x Israeli Bandages, 2x CAT tourniquets, gauze, self-stick wrap, chewable pepto bismol, small ibuprofen bottle, small excedrin migraine bottle, small antacid bottle, signal mirror, 2x emergency poncho, 4x survival blanket, drink mixes (hot & cold), toilet paper, bug repellant wipes, sunscreen wipes, 1x emergency stove w/ fuel tabs,
  • Other: Belt knife, hand/body warmers, small shovel, East German surplus cutlery, finger light, head lamp, trail tape, 4x stripped MRE’s

Grab & Go (GNG): This is near the door at home, it’s meant to for if there’s an emergency that requires getting out of the house, but not completely out of the area and not hardship living. Think house fire, temporary evac due to earthquake/tornado/moron in a backyard busting a gas line, etc. Expect to have GHB to supplement.

  • Clothes: One partial set for each family member, spare underclothes/socks
  • Water: Two screw-top aluminum water bottles, water treatment tablets
  • First Aid: 1x tourniquet, 2x bandage, 1x splint, assorted bandaids/gauze, chewable pepto bismol, small ibuprofen bottle, small excedrin migraine bottle, small antacid bottle
  • Survival: Compass, signal mirror, fire kit, drink mixes (hot & cold), toilet paper, 1x emergency stove w/ fuel tabs,
  • Other: USB drive w/ scans of important documents & contact information, trail tape, food pouches (tuna, chicken, dried fruit, trail mix, etc.)

Bug out Bag (BoB): This hangs up in the garage where we can grab it and toss it in the Jeep, expected to be supplemented with GHB and G&G, and BoK as long as we’re with the Jeep.

  • Clothes: Two full sets, three spare under clothes changes, good boots for each adult, full-cover footwear for each child, hats
  • Survival: 2x Fire kit, 2x Swiss Poncho, 6x emergency poncho, 6x emergency blankets, drink mixes (hot & cold), toilet paper, 1x emergency stove w/ fuel tabs, signal mirror, emergency strobe light, bug repellant, sun screen
  • Water: Two screw-top aluminum water bottles, two camelback bottles, water treatment tablets
  • Shelter: Two person tent (I know, small and stuffy, haven’t found a 3 / 4 that is light, compact & affordable), 2x two-person sleeping bags (yay compression bags)
  • Other: USB drive, bath poof thing (you know, the mesh scrubber thing), soap, 2x microfiber towels, bug spray, trail tape, food pouches (stripped MRE’s, freeze dried food, tuna, chicken, trail mix, etc.), 2x belt knives, leatherman, hatchet

Bug out Kit (BoK): This sits in the garage, and is packed in a Pelican Storm Case trunk (don’t remember the number offhand, I was issued a couple of the medium trunks in lieu of the rolling duffels that wouldn’t survive more than one deployment). It’s basically a ‘vehicle camping’ kit.

  • Clothes: Three more sets for each
  • Blankets: Two wool, two fleece
  • Cooking: Coleman propane single-burner & two bottles, two pots, one pan, set of metal cups & plates, cutlery,
  • Shelter: Four person tent (way too bulky for the bag, but works for this
  • Keep-the-kids-happy: Box of graham crackers, bag of marshmallows, little hershey bars
  • Other: Solar Shower, camp soap (bar & liquid), additional towels, sleeping pads, box of strike- a-fire fire starters, LED lanterns, canned food

Screw You, I Ain’t Leaving (SYIAL): This is the bug-in plan. Access to the above, plus fully stocked pantry, water, and everything else in my house. Which, right now, is a crap ton of card board boxes…I guess I am leaving.

Note: I will try to add pictures later, right now I can’t find most of my stuff…

Aside

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. It’s a treat for me to be home for the holidays this year, but it’s bittersweet. My nine-year journey in USAF is coming to an end, and I must take my first steps into the private sector.

This time of year always gets my mind running down the pathways of all that I have, and I know that I am truly blessed. I have three families – one to whom I am related by blood, one by marriage, and a third by service. I am thankful for all three. The blood that raised me, the marriage that has blessed me, and the service that has forged me.

I was raised to show respect, for myself and others. I was loved, but not smothered. I was taught to finish what you start (granted, it took much longer to set in), but not to do too much at once. These are gifts I can only hope I will be able to pass on to my children as well as they were passed to me. I can never properly thank my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my siblings, or my cousins, for everything they have done for me.

Marriage has blessed me with another family, and they embraced me with open arms. My wife deserves much more than I can ever give her, my children are wonderful, even when they are terrible. And I am lucky enough to have in-laws that are a joy to be around.

I will never have the opportunity to serve with as amazing a group of people as I have been with the past nine years, especially the last five, and I hope they all go on to successful careers. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Liberty community, first as a Raven, then a Cougar, a Crow, and a Spartan. Not all our time has been good, we have had our failures and our tragedies, but a family we are. And as we scatter to winds, and I pray we can stay together, even if just in the back of our minds where the memories of what we accomplished reside.

I hope they fry the son of a whore

Yeah, this is about the deserter Bergdahl. Yes, deserter. He abandoned his unit in a time of war. He was the immediate cause of death of  AT LEAST six of my brothers, and God only knows how many more throughout the years. I don’t know if he actively helped the bastards once he was in their custody, but regardless, by removing deserting in a time of war and causing entire units to shift from anti-Taliban operations to searching for his worthless ass, that’s providing aid and comfort as far as I’m concerned. Normally, I can’t be bothered enough to hate people. An apathetic ‘don’t care about you at all’ is normally the most I can muster up. But this fuck? I would gladly soak him in kerosene and light it off. If we still did firing squads, I’d volunteer for his.

Home again…

I am home again, and safe. Posting might be a little sparse while I spend time with my wife and kids, and scratch off a few of the things on the honey-do list (although a couple might turn in to posts…). Or, I might pour out a few random rage-fests here. Here’s hoping for a mix somewhere in between.

What I want…

Today I made the mistake of allowing myself to think. Scary, right? In all seriousness, after the more involved portion of my flight the last 90 minutes or so was staring at trees waiting for people to leave. Left me with spare brain-bytes, and they turned to politics. To be specific, they turned to what I want from those in politics. Yeah, I entered that particular rabbit hole. I’m happy I found my way back out. Now for a slightly more prepared return journey. The top ten things I look for in politicians (yes, these are all going to reference males. No, they don’t have to be male to get my vote. No, I don’t care if it offends you. I have every right to say whatever I want. You have every right not to read it. Bye!) :

1. Honesty – Yes, honesty. I want him to be faithful to his wife, I want him to tell the truth, not make promises he has no intention of keeping. Basically, if I wouldn’t want him as a friend, I don’t want him representing me.

2. Stubbornness – By this I mean I want someone who will stand up for what they think, and what they believe to be right. I don’t want a ‘team player’, or the type of person who always seeks consensus. I don’t want someone who will never admit they are wrong, but constantly giving up isn’t a good way to win my trust.

3. A cool head – Somebody who doesn’t get worked up over every little thing. I don’t need someone representing me who can’t maintain their composure during a debate, speech, or town-hall meeting. If thirty teenage boys managed to find a way to stand there stone faced as our pissed-off TI cussed us out for doing something exactly how he told us to ten minutes prior as a way of testing our bearing, a grown-ass man should be able to figure out how not to get his panties in a twist over his opponent calling him a moron.

4. Jobs – I want to know what they’ve done. I don’t necessarily trust someone who has never done anything but stock shelves or flip burgers to look out for my best interests. Nor do I necessarily want someone who has spent the last twenty years lobbying for this company or that special interest group moving into that seat. Basically, I want to know what has shaped them in a way that I should trust them to serve me if they’re elected.

5. Military service – Yeah, this my number five. I know, it kinda fits in with number four above, but it’s varied enough it deserves it’s own set. By this, I don’t just mean ‘oh, they served. They get my vote! No, I look at what they did. Are they proud of it, are they using it as a crutch, are they exaggerating what they did, trying to underplay it, or is it the only thing of substance in their campaign. You know what I mean, I’ve seen the good and the bad on both sides. I’ve seen the recent Iraq vet who runs entirely on ‘I served’ without any substance to his campaign, he talks about how he was ‘over there’ and how you find a ‘new way of looking at things when you put your life on the line’. Turns out he never really left the wire, stayed quite safe in the green zone, most danger he was ever in was a mortar or two that landed somewhere within a mile of him. Not exactly the type to inspire confidence. Then you have the vet who makes a passing mention of what they did, say they ‘saw a bit of combat’, but moves on to discuss their beliefs, and where they stand on issues. You look into it, turns out they were in Fallujah, or swept the Taliban out of Helmand (yes, the Brits took the lead on that, I know. I also know that jokingly asking when they’re gonna ‘turn that World Cup bullshit off’ is very good way to learn if you can out run the SAS guy wielding a pitcher of hot milk. SPOILER ALERT: No, you can’t outrun him. Nor can you ever get the smell out of your flight suit. The ‘peace offering’ of the block of Russian tea will however make them laugh enough that you can come hang out again). Not that every combat vet is great, sometimes it’s the REMF’s who downplay service and focus on the issues while the combat vet only has that leg to stand on. Why do I look at that? Not because they served, but because of what they had to deal with. In the military, even most of our bureaucrats hate bureaucrats. Seriously, I used to get pissed at Finance and PERSCO for being closed all the time for training until I found out THEY were pissed about it too. Apparently it’s always crap the bureaucrats higher up the food chain come up with in fits of ‘Ah! I need to justify my job again!’

6. View of the  Constitution – ‘It’s a living document.’ ‘It’s outdated.’ ‘It’s just a bunch of words written by dead white racists.’ No. It’s the document everything else is based on. Show respect, and show that you understand stand that there is a SPECIFIC WAY TO CHANGE IT. If they meant for the meaning of the words to twist depending on who got pissy about it, the process of amending it wouldn’t be SPELLED OUT IN PLAIN LANGUAGE. Saying it needs to be ‘updated’? hey, that’s your position, okay. But saying that we should ignore what it says because it’s ‘not right for how we live now? Not getting my vote.

7. Role of <insert office they seek here> – I don’t want someone who wants to legislate from the bench, make a crap ton of new laws without eliminating a bunch of the crap we already have, or trying to bypass those who are responsible for making said laws just because they couldn’t get their way. I want them to stick to what they are responsible for, and to serve us in the best way possible.

8. What they want to accomplish – They want to ease restrictions on X or tighten up the regulations on Y? Are they honest about it? Has it been thought through? Saying ‘save the planet’ is all well and good, but what are the consequences of what you want to do? I want you to at least have logical answers and reasons behind what you seek. I may not agree with you, but if you can make me at least consider your point with facts and logic, not just emotional ‘but think of the children/whales/ferry shrimp’ it’s possible that even I still don’t necessarily support that position I could go from an opposing view to a neutral one. On the other hand, even if I agree with you on something, if you approach from an emotional viewpoint, or have some out-of-left-field theory on it, I could move from supporting you to an ‘I won’t campaign against you, but I sure as heck won’t support you’. It’s not just the ends, it’s also how you get there.

9. Ability to think on their feet – Not quite the same as saying cool-headed. This more of me gauging what happens after they remain calm. Are they actually answering the out-of-nowhere question with a bit of thought and substance, are they completely flustered and shut down, or spouting off talking points with only a vague relation to the topic at hand? Also, are they boring as they respond, or do they find a way to weave the crowd into it? That last is one of those things that seems to be hit or miss with most people, no real middle ground.

10. Where do they stand on leaving me the hell alone – This, while the last of the big ten, is quite possibly the most important. I don’t want somebody who wants to protect me from myself, or from all the ‘bad things’ out there. I want them to trust me to care for me. Don’t try to regulate me into health or ‘societal norms’. Just let me be. While a red flag on some of the earlier ones is still survivable, this one is a no-go. If they don’t meet it, they don’t get my support.

 

Those are the ten things I look for first in anyone seeking my vote, regardless of the office they seek. Anything not clear, or not make sense? What are your top ten/five/three/eleventy billion things?

Time to start working towards a better me…

Well, a better looking one at least. New widget on the sidebar. I’ve lost wait, and then gained it back on this deployment. Granted, most of what I put back on was muscle, but I’ve got some weight to lose. And a couple inches on my waist I’d like to not see anymore. So, here’s my goal: get my weight down to 185, and my waist down to 36″. That should be manageable with a combination of eating decently and moving to a bit more intense of a workout.

 

Well, here goes 40lbs and 2″

 

I hope.

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