Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas from Okinawa

Here's to hoping that everyone's Christmas is festive and safe. Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers too.

Christmas in Okinawa doesn't feel quite like Christmas in the states. The weather, of course, is quite different, but the general atmosphere is not the same either. Only about 20% of the population is estimated to really celebrate Christmas here, so the decor is a bit lackluster.

I somehow doubt that we will have a "white Christmas," but I'm thankful that I get to spend it with my wife and kids. I'll certainly miss spending Christmas with the rest of my family, but that's why I get paid the big bucks.

Merry Christmas. Stay safe, and have a great week.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good News

Headquarters Marine Corps has published the fiscal year 2009 approved selections to the rank of First Sergeant and Master Sergeant. You can view the list here. My name is on it!

What this means is that I've been selected, by the promotion board that convenes in Washington, for promotion to Master Sergeant (E8). The Corps will now promote a few each month until they get to my "number." I'm looking at sometime next summer to get promoted.

I work with a couple of guys that got passed over, and it sort of stinks for them, but that's life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jury Duty

About once a year or so, my wife gets a summons for jury duty. It comes in the mail. It comes in the mail to our FPO address. With efficiency like that, I think we're all doomed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Despite all of the wailing and wringing of hands over the dangers of deep frying turkeys, I've decided to do exactly that this year. Since it's raining outside this morning, I'm going to move the fryer into the living room...I'M KIDDING!

Since I know how to read, follow simple instructions, and fight the urge to "improve" on the process, I have no worries about frying a turkey. Besides, I have a fire extinguisher, and wounds heal.

The neat part is that I used an injector to inject seasonings into the bird. The seasonings are mixed into melted butter. I was delighted when I realized that I'm actually going to be deep frying butter...Mmmmmmmm; health food. The only way to make it even better would be to stuff a duck and a chicken inside of that sucker, and maybe a couple pounds of bacon too. Oh well; there's always next year.

Here's to hoping that all two of my readers have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More Okinawa Funnies

You can click these for the full size version. These are just a couple more funny things that I see here in Okinawa on a daily basis. My wife is fond of reminding me that things we see every day and find routine would be very interesting to folks in the states.

If you want some goo, you can just call and it will be delivered by this guy:

What do you think will happen if you don't obey this sign? I've seen this one a few times, and I always giggle a little bit:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Making Changes

I had written a previous post about my time as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island. One of the commentors asked what it was like to transition back to "normal" duty after that. I thought I might delve a little bit into that.

Serving as a professional jerk has its drawbacks. It was extremely difficult to turn that behavior off when I came home at night, but it became a little easier as my tour went on. There are various jobs, or billets associated with DI duty. There's the Drill Instructors, the Senior Drill Instructor, and the Series Gunnery Sergeant, which used to be called the "Series Chief." As I moved up the food chain to SDI and Series GySgt, my role changed.

The SDI is not as much of a sadistic madman as the regular Drill Instructors, and that has a very important reason behind it. While none of us wanted to see recruits get abused, I'm not naiive enough to think that it never happens. Having an SDI that the recruits feel will solve their problems can have a positive effect if there is a DI that is stepping over the line. Recruits will come talk to the SDI about it, instead of someone at the medical clinic, the chapel, an officer, etc. This gives the SDI the opportunity to solve the problem, without officers getting involved. It also makes the evening transition at home, and the transition back to the fleet, a little easier.

Moving another notch up to Series GySgt is even better. I did one cycle as the Series GySgt (I was only a Staff Sergeant at the time), and my only real job was to run PT in the mornings, and supervise the DIs and SDIs. I wasn't the one training recruits, and I was able to ease the tension a little bit.

Both of those jobs made transitioning back to the FMF (Fleet Marine Force) a little easier. Another element that made it more practical, if not easier, is having a family. My tour as a DI was very hard on our family, and I didn't want to lose them. It was absolutely imperative that I make some serious changes, or I probably would have lost them.

There was one other factor that helped me. I, and probably every other Marine that has been around for a while, have worked for, or with, those Marines who are prior DIs, and that never seemed to take off that smokey bear. I don't particularly care for that at all, just as most subordinates don't. I knew that I would probably lose the respect of my subordinates (and peers?) if I didn't change my leadership style. You simply cannot treat Marines like recruits.

In a nutshell, it was a little difficult, but I had some help. I still can't believe that my wife put up with me through all of that, but I suppose that it made our marriage stronger. Between that and deploying, I think we could get through just about anything now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More Japanese Signs

So does spelling! The crime "preventic" didn't work too well, since somebody stole the 'N.'

I saw this today while out geocaching, and I couldn't pass it up.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Vacation is Over

Well, my couple of weeks of "vacation" are over. I thought that I had more stuff going on while I was off of work...until I returned to work.

Young, male Marines are dumb; there's no getting around that. Some of the young, female Marines are just as dumb. Get them together, and you've got a recipe for MP involvement. Sheesh. Was I really that dumb when I was their age?

My current battalion commander has decreed that all alcohol-related incidents will go to his level for punishment...maybe he didn't realize that this policy will simply serve to squash even more incidents. Oh well; I get to "counsel" even more young Marines now...hehehehehehe. I have a shovel, some sandbags, and an imagination.

Being back at work is strange, but silly decisions by those "above" me have made it even stranger.

I alos received a nice email from a liberal Democrat. She told me that she disagreed with my Commander in Chief, but supported me and my fellow troops. I was impressed with her email. It was very nice, and counter to anything I have ever received from any liberal. I wish she was running for office, vice Obama. Perhaps if liberals believed, or made public, what she does, they'd get a lot more traction.

Until Monday, stay safe and shoot straight.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Marine

I swiped this from a friend of mine who happens to be a fellow Marine. He's an infantryman, which puts him in a special category. I just have to disagree with him on one count: This list applies to Marines in general, not just those fun-loving Grunts. I think we're all Grunts at least those of us that have had the distinct pleasure of serving in the same platoons as those crazy bastards! God bless 'em.

Marines come in all shapes, shades, weights, sizes, states of sobriety, misery, and confusion. They are sly as a fox, have the nerve of a dope addict, the sincerity of a politician, and the subtly of Mt. Saint Helen. They are extremely irresistible, totally irrational and completely indestructible.

A Marine is a warrior all his life even if only for a few years of that life. He is a magical creature. You can kick him out of your house but not out of your heart. You can take him off your mailing list but not off your mind. Soldiers and Marines are found everywhere... in battle... in lust... in bars and ... behind them. No one can write so seldom and yet think so much of you. No one else can get so much enjoyment out of a letter or clean clothes or a six pack.

A Marine is a genius with a deck of cards. A millionaire without a cent and brave without a grain of sense. HE IS THE PROTECTOR OF AMERICA! When he wants something, it's usually 30 days leave, music that hurts the ears, a five dollar bill...or a woman he can count on.

Girls love them, mothers tolerate them, fathers brag about them,
the government pays them, the police watch out for them and somehow they all work together.

You can beat their bodies, but not their minds. You can tame their hearts, but not their souls.

He likes girls, chow, females, guns, women, alcohol, ladies, did I say alcohol?, and the opposite sex.

Marines dislike small checks, working weekends, answering letters, waking up, maintaining a uniform, and the day before payday.

You may as well give in. A Marine is your long distance lover... they are your steely-eyed, warm-smiling, blank-minded, hyper-active, over-reacting, curious, passionate, talented, spontaneous, physically fit, good for nothing bundle of worry.....

And he will always be there for you, regardless of how long its been since you've last talked.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Hammer put up this meme, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's a fun topic. I'm not tagging anyone, but give it a rip if you want.

You just won the mega powerball jackpot to the tune of 150 million dollars (after taxes)

1. What would be the very first thing you would do? Go shopping...Cars, guns, plasma televisions for people I like, etc.

2. Where would you choose to live? A large parcel of land somewhere in North Carolina, not too far from the coast, but just far enough to ensure relative safety from those Haliburton generated hurricanes.

3. What kind of house would you live in? Sprawling ranch house with unattached garages and workshops. I'd also have a driving range, and plenty of room to ride dirtbikes, shoot, hunt, fish, and maybe blow shit up.

4. What kind of car would you buy?
The list would be long, but I'd start with a 1969 Camaro with a 502ci big block and really shitty gas mileage (gotta do my part for global warming, baby!).

5. Where would you vacation? Anywhere I wanted, but I'd probably start with parts of the country that I've not seen yet, like the New England area. I'd certainly have to check out the Amish neighborhood, just because I work with a gent that hails from there.

6. Would you have anything on your body fixed? I don't think they have a fix for what's wrong with me.

7. What kind of hobbies would you engage in? Golf, geocaching, fishing, hunting, shooting, dirtbikes...sheesh; I can't list 'em all.

8. What charities would you donate to? Any that fight cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease, and those that support the Second Amendment.

9. Would you give money to your relatives? Yep; they're great folks, and I love them very much. Hell; it would be fun just to spoil my parents with a new house, fancy car, and all that shit.

10.Would you run away from your current life? No. I would finish my current enlistment in the Corps, and even do an eight month extension to take me to my retirement mark.

11. Would you continue to work? I might open a sporting goods store for me to putter around in, and a quilt shop for my wife to run.

12. Would the money change you in any way? It would simply remove the financial pressures that I face, and possibly make me nicer to people that I don't know. Oh yeah; it would certainly make me a better fisherman, since I'd get a lot more practice.

Back From Vacation

Well, my vacation isn't really over, but my trip to Okuma is. We had a great time, and the weather cooperated somewhat. It only rained when it was time to light the coals and cook our meals...maybe the people that run the nearby restaurant have perfected some sort of Okinawan rain dance to ensure they get more customers...

Here's a few pictures (click them to view them full size).

View from our room.

View of the island from our boat ride.

Storm coming...must be supper time.

Sunset at south beach.

Looking east on south beach.

A little timed exposure at night.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I'll be spending the next week suffering through white beaches, clear water, and cold beverages at Okuma. I'll survive...somehow.

Yes, Gawfer, we're going to Okuma AGAIN...wouldn't you? hehehe

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Physical Training

I recently changed jobs again. I was working in a maintenance management office, and now I'm the platoon commander for a different section. I've already discovered that I'm going to have some challenges with a couple of young Corporals.

I find that to be a huge disappointment, since the NCOs should be the ones out there taking care of business.

One of the Corporals recently arrived here in Okinawa, and it has taken him two weeks to get his family settled, and finally come to work on a regular basis. Last night, the evening prior to what would be his first physical training, or PT session, he called me to announce that he didn't have any running shoes. I asked him how long he had been here, to which he replied, "Two weeks, Gunny."

"Well," I said, "The PX has been here, and open, all of those two weeks. I don't care if you show up wearing flip flops tomorrow, you'll be at PT." He showed up wearing what looked like some sort of skateboarding shoes, and he fell back considerably on our PT run.

Another of my NCOs had a small cyst removed from his upper arm two days ago. He has a little bandage on it, and tried to tell me that he could not participate in PT. He has a chit from the doctor that says "PT at own pace." I told him to go to the gym, and find something to do. He replied with, "Well, there's nothing I really can do Gunny."

"The rest of your body doesn't have anything wrong with it!" I said.

Where did these two come from? I can't imagine being an NCO and trying to get out of PT like that. I took them both aside and explained to them that the junior Marines see that crap, and their actions are going to have a direct effect on the training and mentoring of those young Marines.

Looks like those two might need a boot in their ass from time to time. I'll happily oblige them.

Meanwhile, I have a Private that has a pretty bad knee problem, and he was the first one out the door to PT this morning. I like this young man already.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sleep Disorders?

Apparently, I say some of the dumbest things when I'm asleep, or just on the verge of sleep.

I used to wonder if I talked in my sleep. Apparently my wife can get me to speak a bit when I'm extremely tired, or a bit out of it, but she can only get me to come up with utter gibberish.

A few nights ago, I had gone upstairs to change my clothes, and I must have decided that it was a great time to lay down and doze off. My wife eventually came upstairs, noticed that my alarm clock was not set, and began asking me what time to set it for (isn't she considerate?). At first, she didn't get much of a response out of me, but I then I answered, "Puppies."

She again said, "John, I asked what time to set your alarm for!"

"I said PUPPIES," was my stern reply.

She retorted with, "Well, I'm just going to set it for 5:30 then!"

"Then why did you wake me up then?" I asked...

She was absolutely thrilled with that response, I'm sure of it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quotes About the Military

Here's some interesting quotations about my fellow warriors. Some, you may have heard before, while others might be new to you:

"You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to
the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth- and
the amusing thing about it is that they are."
Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

“The Spartans do not enquire
how many the enemy are, but
where they are.”
Agis II, 427 B.C.

"May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't.”
General George S. Patton Jr.


"When you men get home and face an anti-war protester, look him
in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she
knows she's dating a pussy."
Attributed to General Tommy Franks

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The JCI Scam Begins Again

JCI, or Japanese Compulsory Insurance, is a term that often instills fear in the hearts of many a servicemember here in the Land of the Rising Sun. The insurance itself isn't a big deal; it's a simple fee to be paid every two years. Unfortunately, the government of Japan also conducts a vehicle inspection and collects a "weight tax" at the same time. This is a sort of shell game that has the "customer" running all around to various locations in a feeble attempt to complete the scavenger hunt before the registration offices close at 3pm.

Here's the odd part: If you pay your inpsection fees and weight tax, it's only good for that day. If your vehicle fails to pass the inspection, and the repairs cannot be made prior to 3pm, you'll have to start the process from scratch (and pay the fees and tax again) the next business day (yep; you can only eperience this rectal raping during working hours). Nobody seems to have an intelligent answer as to why there is a "weight tax," in addition to the "road tax," or why the weight tax certificate is only good for one day.

The inspection itself is a sham that the perpetrators barely make an effort to disguise as legitimate. They always find something wrong, whatever they find wrong always involves a defective part that needs to be changed, and the garage right down the road from the inspection station always has that part in stock. The garage will not, however, be able to complete the repair prior to 3pm (ever), and customers will get to experience the JCI joy again the next day...guaranteed.

All of the local garages, including those on base, will complete this obstacle course for you...for a huge fee. Most people pay this outrageous fee, just to avoid the hassle of being screwed in person. They have no idea how obviously shady this whole process is, because they simply don't get to see it up close. I've gone through this procedure with two previous vehicles, and I get to do it again next week. Doing it myself, instead of getting indirectly screwed (with the help of a local garage), will save me a couple of hundred bucks. Wish me luck.

More Japanese Signs

I cannot take credit for spotting these...I only spotted them on Priceless...

What's for lunch?

They'll take care of that for you too...

What kind of party are they throwing tonight?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Week In Review

This was a fun, and seemingly short week. It was certainly a short week at work, as we only had to be there for three days. We were given Thursday and Friday off in celebration of Independence Day.

We stayed home last night (the 4th) and grilled some meat (animals; it's what's for dinner!) after a day at the beach. We'll head out tonight to watch fireworks at Torii Station.

We made a trip out to Ikei Island to go geocaching and see the sights. You can see a couple more pics on my geocaching blog.

Work was surprisingly busy, with preparations for an upcoming field exercise taking up most of my time. I also had a few hoops to jump through in order to get my transfer to the SNCO Academy in motion. Thankfully, my incompetent administration section will have almost no role to play in that evolution.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Japanese Signs

I guess when they say, "No dogs allowed," they REALLY freakin' mean it!

We saw this sign in a park just south of us, and I knew that it was destined to be a classic.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another Hobby?

I suppose that most people are wetting themselves over the Clinton, McCain, Obama mess. Knock yourselves out; they all appear to be career politicians to me.

In the mean time, I've taken up a new hobby. It's called Geocaching, and it's a lot of fun. It consists of going out (yes, outside, in the sun) and finding little cahces of things that people have hidden and reporting your finds on the website It really is more fun than it sounds like.

I've only found three, and one of them took three visits to the site to figure it out. Here's the deal:

Somebody places a "Geocache" in a hiding spot. They then go on the website and post the coordinates (lat and long, or UTM), and you go out with a GPS unit and find the Geocache. The cache usually consists of a few little trinkets, and a logbook that you sign in on. You can take an object out, as long as you put one in. There's even trackable things that people can use. The trackable objects have their own web pages where you can see where they go, and have been. Pretty neat, in a simple sort of way.

Once you find one of these things, you can go log your find, enter what you took/left, and see what other folks had to say about that particular treasure hunt. All in all, it's a neat way to see parts of Okinawa that I haven't seen yet. I can also involve my wife and kids in it.

I think this Geocaching thing is going to be a keeper. Go to the website, give it a try, and don't whine when you can't find your first one.

Monday, June 9, 2008

School 1957 Versus 2007

I got this in my email from a friend. I think I remember seeing it before, but it's still a great reminder of how much "progress" we've made (thanks a ton liberals!).

SCHOOL -- 1957 vs. 2007

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 -
Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957 -
Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 -
Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to cl ass, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 -
Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 -
Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violati ons. C ar searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.
1957 -
Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, and goes to college.
2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.
1957 -
Ants die.
2007 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated; Johnny's Dad goes on a terr or watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 -
In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day

Here's to hoping that Americans, and those that we have secured freedom for, will remember what this long weekend is all about.

I hope that folks enjoy their cookouts, days at the beach, rounds of golf, or other leisure activities this weekend. I sincerely hope that they take at least a moment to think about what we are supposed to be honoring on this, and every, Memorial Day.

Here's a sharp salute to those that have given that last full measure of their very being for something greater than themselves. Here's a salute to those that fought to the bitter end, and laid down their life for the rest of us, or even for the buddy next to them.

Semper Fidelis
Go Navy!
Go Army!
Go Big Blue!
Go Coast Guard!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Marine Corps 101

This is for all of my fellow Marines that read my feeble little blog. Leave your answers in the comments with just a number (1. Chesty Puller, etc). Feel free to try it, even if you're not a Marine. I know some smart guys that will still probably get some right. NO CHEATING. Leave Google out of it!

1. Who said, "uncommon valor was a common virtue"?

2. Who adopted the current Marine Corps emblem?

3. Who are the only two Marines to be awarded two Medals of Honor?

4. What's the maximum effective range of the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun?

5. During what conflict did the Marines earn the title "Devil Dogs?"

6. After WWII, where did the next amphibious landing take place?

7. Where did the first amphibious landing in USMC history take place?

8. Who was the first Marine to hold the rank of Sergeant Major?

9. Who was the first Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps?

10. Who was the only Marine to be awarded five Navy Crosses?

11. When in the field, who eats first? Who eats last?

I'll post the answers in about a week or so...or, at least, a link to them. Semper Fi

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Japanese Signs

I've seen some crazy signs since arriving here in Okinawa. Here's a sample of some. I've seen one of these, but the others were simply found online. They keep the spirit of the odd translations though...WTF with the chick on the bear? Maybe that one means "no girls with axes riding bears."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Week In Review

I guess this will be a "double whammy" review, since I didn't do one last week. Twice the bang for your buck! Let's see, what happened last's a bit of a blur. Bob roamed the neighborhood last Friday evening and met some people that were partying (on a Marine base? What are the odds?). What happened this week?

I'm still attending the SNCO Academy Advanced Course. Only four more weeks to go! The physical training (PT) each day is fun and challenging, so that's a plus. The academic portion isn't really challenging, except for the sheer amount of it in any given period. We have an exam every Monday, which covers all of the topics of the previous week. Having the weekend to study is a huge advantage. Our "Class Commander," or the senior Marine in our class, is a complete idiot. Students are beginning to just laugh at him now, and we're all wondering why he hasn't been fired yet. Oh well, he does provide us with entertainment.

My ribs are not completely healed, but they're much better than they were. The PT program at the academy is probably not helping the healing process, but that's just the way it is. No big deal; it's just pain. Some of us are fond of saying that, "pain is just weakness leaving the body."

We planted some flowers in front of our house. Well, my wife planted some flowers in front of our house, and they're doing well. Our front yard looked pretty barren prior to that, and it looks pretty nice now. We put the flowers in little flower boxes that look as if they were designed to go on a window ledge. This will allow us to drag all of our flowers inside when the typhoons come. Our neighbors, on the other hand, will simply have their flowers scoured down to bare dirt by the typhoons.

This Sunday is Mother's Day (don't forget guys!). The weather here is supposed to be crappy, so I guess I won't be taking my wife to do much of anything that day. I'll just be doing, well, I don't know what I'll be doing. I'll be doing whatever she desires me to do. I suspect that it will involve cooking and cleaning, but that's just a guess. I had ordered a very small gift for my mom, but it only got here yesterday, so there's no way it will reach her by Sunday. Oh well; she'll get it a bit late. It's not necessarily a Mother's Day gift anyway, just something small that my wife and I both though was very neat. I'll put something up about it after she gets it (don't want to ruin the surprise).

I watched the movie The Kingdom, starring Jamie Fox. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't exactly a good movie either. It got the point across, I suppose. It certainly pissed me off. You can just watch the first 30 minutes of the movie, and get plenty pissed off (which is probably the point of the movie).

Well, until next time, stay safe and shoot straight.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Okinawa Battle Sites Tour

As part of the SNCO Academy that I'm attending, I was fortunate enough to go on the Okinawa battle sites tour today. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

This first one is one of the countless entrances to the elaborate tunnel system that can be found atop "Hacksaw Ridge." 2,500 Marines and Soldiers lost their lives taking that ridge. Some of the tunnels went as deep as 130 feet underground.

This next picture is of a Japanese machine gun that was recently unearthed behind the Taco Bell on base (Camp Foster, to be exact). Any time that construction projects take place here, some type of war relics are usually dug up.

The next picture is of the actual Japanese flag that was flying atop Shuri Castle until it fell to U.S. forces. It was signed by various unit commanders. It, and many other artifacts, can be viewed at a historical collection on Camp Kinser. Unfortunately, the Marine Corps is doing nothing to support this historical exhibit, and it exists due to donations alone.

This last picture is taken from atop Shuri Castle. Most of what you see had to be rebuilt, due to damage sustained during the battle.

I enjoyed the tour, but a few pictures can hardly do it justice. Read up on the Battle of Okinawa; you won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weird Things Meme

Hammer has an interesting meme up on his blog. I decided to give it a whirl. Here's seven weird things about me:

-I almost never remember my dreams, but will often wake up knowing I had a bad one. When I do remember them, it's only very brief little images and pieces.

-My sense of smell is impaired. I'm not sure when it started, but it's been gradual, I guess. I can smell just fine, but I struggle to identify certain smells. Something along the lines of, "That has a sweet smell, but that's about it," is the norm.

-I despise feet. I'd rather pick up a steaming turd than touch somebody's feet. Am I a closet Muslim?

-I can identify many aircraft by their sound. That's not really weird, but my wife says it is. Rotary wing aircraft don't count, since most military folks can identify those by sound. This probably all stems from my childhood fascination with military aircraft (I'm still a child in that regard).

-I look at really nice guns the way some guys look at really nice cars.

-I still view being a garbage man as a cool job (those trucks crush stuff...almost as cool as blowing things up).

-I have an unnatural fear of horses. I'm not sure what phobia that might be, but I think I have it. I'd rather fly in an airplane (which I hate), than be in a corral with a horse. This one really stinks, since horses are really neat critters, and I have a love of all things Cowboy.

Stupid People, or Moments of Stupidity?

Sometimes it takes a minute or two to decide if someone is truly stupid, or if they're simply doing something stupid during a momentary lapse of judgment. An incident this week made me ponder this, and caused me to reflect back on some of the indicators that I have seen in the past in other people*. Here's a few:

-A man stands on the soft convertible top of his car to hang a Christmas decoration on the edge of his roof. He's a large man. What do you think happens? If you guessed that he ripped through the fabric of the car top, you get a cookie! Stupid man, or momentary lapse?

-A man changes the oil in his truck. After draining the oil from the oil pan, he begins adding quart after quart of new oil to the engine. He cannot seem to figure out why it's taking more oil than usual...and eventually notices the oil running down his driveway into the gutter. If you guessed that he forgot to reinstall the drain plug, you get a cookie. This same man dumped his pan of used motor oil in his front lawn, and was shocked (shocked I tell you) that it made a big dead spot in the lawn. Stupid man, or momentary lapse?

-A man is preparing to grill some steaks. After firing up his gas grill, he waits a few minutes, only to have his wife ask him, "Is the grill hot yet?" He checks by placing his hand directly on the cooking surface of the grill (yep, it was hot). Stupid man, or momentary lapse?

This week's incident was much less dramatic, but still cause for head shaking. I'm currently attending (as mentioned below) the Staff NCO Academy Advanced Course. They make us buy nifty looking green t-shirts with Gunny chevrons on the back to wear at PT (physical training, aka: legal hazing). In order to make things simple, we passed around a roster with everyone's name on it, and we were told to put the quantity, style (cotton or mesh), and size of t-shirts that we wanted on the roster. When the roster came around to me, I couldn't help but notice that one individual had simply written "green" next to their name. No quantity, no style, no size. Granted, all of our t-shirts that we wear to PT are indeed green, so I suppose it was a good guess on his part, but it was still a keen indicator of possible stupidity.

*Disclaimer: I have deliberately left out incidents of my own stupidity. Rest assured that there is no shortage of them. That simple fact is what causes me to ask whether it's true stupidity, or a momentary lapse in judgment. In addition, did anyone notice the error in the graphic above?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Week In Review

It's been a frustrating week here in The Land of the Rising Sun. We underwent the below mentioned CGRI at work, and we did well (some other victims didn't do as well), and I had some frustration in dealing with my administrative section. As is typical of all admin sections, ours is full of people that either don't give a damn about the folks they're supposed to support, or they are simply idiots (more the latter than the former).

With spring in full swing here, my wife and I went to the Monkey Man store (Japanese version of Home Depot) and bought a bunch of flowers to plant out front. We hadn't done much of that since moving in here, since it was November when we made that move.

My ribs are still not 100%, but they're getting there. This injury is lingering and generally being a pain in the ass.

My father had surgery on Friday. At his age, it's no small affair. He's doing fair, but cannot keep any chow in his belly right now. I'll be rooting for his quick recovery.

Next week, I'll be starting the Staff NCO Academy Advanced Course. It's a professional military school that is part of the natural progression for senior NCOs. I guess after two and a half years, I'll finally learn how to be a Gunny!

How was your week?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Commanding General's Readiness Inspection

Have you ever felt like you were being examined under a magnifying glass? That's how I'll feel on Monday.

We found out this afternoon (Friday), that we'll be undergoing a 'CGRI,' or Commanding General's Readiness Inspection, on Monday. Old timers will remember them as CGI's, or IG's. This is when a bunch of folks show up and inspect everything from your troops' underwear (yes, really), to your unit's training records. It's a grand old time for everyone!

I'm not real worried; my stuff is in proper order, and my young Marines know what the heck they're doing (I'm lucky like that).

One nifty little quirk that one can expect when one of these inspections comes along is the "unwritten hit." By that, I mean that inspectors are fond of hitting you on things that cannot be found in any order or regulation. They just pull something out of their hat, and believe that it's right. That's where us almost-smart guys come in. We're here to stand up and say, "With all due respect, that's a load of crap."

All in all, it will be a really fun time (if you believe that, I've got a bridge that I'll sell you). What really will be fun is seeing certain people run around as if their hair is on fire...maybe they should have been doing things the right way all along.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Here's a nifty picture of my wife's incision on her wrist. She had her cast changed today. According to her, it was a ton of fun!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Week In Review

This week was pretty routine. It's been four weeks since I quit smoking, and I'm considering this habit officially kicked. It's amazing how much better I feel (except for the sore ribs...that's still lingering).

My wife is still recovering from surgery on her wrist (see last week's review for more info), and it's a slow process I guess.

My kids start their Spring Break on Monday, and I start firing on the pistol range. I'll be shooting that wonderful (yeah, right) piece of gear known as the M9 all week. Now that they've upgraded the magazines, it's not quite as prone to mis-feeds, but I still wouldn't trust it in a harsh environment. It's still a nice shooting weapon under ideal conditions though.

I've been doing the cooking, and most of the cleaning, since my wife only has one paw to work with. I'm eager for her to get back at it. My culinary skills are a bit limited, and the menu has been a bit boring lately. Granted, the red beans and rice was pretty good on Thursday, but that was the highlight of the week.

The weather this weekend is overcast and crappy, like almost every weekend here, so I've got that going for me. I'm sure that on Monday (when I'm back at work), the weather will be beautiful.

How was your week?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What's In the Bag?

Somebody asked me what kind of golf clubs I have...I said, "How long do you have?" I decided to go out on the back porch and take some pics of my clubs...I guess the money that I have invested kind of snuck up on me. Time for some "golf geek" stuff.

When it comes to golf clubs, I'm a mutt. I'm not entirely loyal to any one brand, but I have found Taylormade to be a great company when it comes to customer service. Nike's customer service is almost non-existent (bastards).

Here's the laundry list:

Nike Sasquatch Driver, 10 degree, with a Fujikura stiff shaft (Banzai Speeder line, Extreme Edition...don't know the specifics, but it rocks).

Nike Sasquatch 3 wood with Mitsubishi stiff flex "Diamante" shaft. This thing is more forgiving than my Chaplain, but the shaft is pretty pathetic---stock Nike junk (it's not a REAL Diamante shaft; Mitsubishi licensed Nike to make their stuff...bad move). The cool part is that I can hit a draw with this sucker and get tons of roll out of it. It would probably be easier to work the ball with a better of these days...

Taylormade 320 irons with Rifle steel shafts in stiff flex. Normal lie, and 8 through P are D +1 weighted (thanks to Gawfer for telling me about the importance of swing weight). If you look closely, you can see the marks from a vice; they got re-bent for me, which is a bad move with casted irons. Oh yeah, almost forgot, the TM guy was amazing! My boss was pissed that he didn't get to go see the guy when he came here. Life goes on.

Taylormade Rossa Lambeau 7 putter with center shaft. I never knew how much a center shafted putter helped until I tried it! The special insert on the face gives tremendous feel. (yes, that's dog hair on the rug...sorry). Putters are just something that you have to mess around with and discover...some wise dude told me that one time (name rhymes with Rob).

Nike CPR hybrid 1 iron...I used to think that a 1 iron was unnecessary and dangerous; I was wrong. I can hit that club out of lies that I can't even think about with a fairway wood, and hit it LONG.

Titleist Vokey Design, Spin Milled, "Oil Can" wedges in 56 and 60 degrees. These wedges are actually designed to rust. The more rust that builds up, the more abrasive the club face becomes, and the more spin you can impart on the ball. Great feel too, but I'm still trying to master how they work with a full swing. I love them for pitching and chipping though. This is why the old guys will always rule...they have mastered the short game.

Ogio Grom stand bag. I love this golf bag! It works great for walking or riding, and has some great features. The stand mechanism is tougher than nails, and the straps are actually comfortable. The 'Woode' club arrangement system has been a big seller for Ogio for years now, and I can see why; it just works great.

Nike One Black, and One Platinum balls. Some people think that the choice of golf ball is not important...I don't think that they could be more wrong. I've used cheap golf balls before, and was amazed when I used high end ones...they really do perform better, and give you much greater control around the greens. They also allow you to "shape" your shots, and get some decent movement on the ball. I wouldn't recommend the high end balls for players that are struggling with a slice or hook...they spin more and will REALLY slice or hook.

Oh yeah; the monkey's name is Mojo; he helps me at times with club choice and shot selection.

I used to use some "knockoff" clubs, and thought that they were fine. How wrong I was. There's really no substitute for name brand golf equipment. This is one of the areas where the money that has been dumped into research and development has truly paid off; name brand clubs are head and shoulders above the cheap stuff.

I'm still a "weekend golfer," but I've broken into the 80's (at times) and have surpassed 90% of the other weekenders. In other words, I'm a legend in my own mind!

What's in your bag?

Friday, March 28, 2008


This is an Obi that my wife made with "washi paper." This is a traditional Japanese art form, and she took a class that helped her a bit. I thought it was pretty neat. I saw some similar ones for sale at the concessions area of the PX for about 80 bucks a pop. My wife spent about four bucks on materials...capitalism is cool.

Week In Review

This has been an interesting week. It began normal enough, with me still nursing sore ribs.

Tuesday was spent at the hospital with my wife having surgery on her wrist. She's got some bitchin' new titanium hardware to get scanned at the airports! She's recovering well, and hopped up on high horsepower pain killers.

Bob got his picture taken at the obstacle course on Camp Hansen, and some of the Marines that were in the area thought it was a pretty neat idea...after they realized that I wasn't nuts.

Thursday included a "class" at the theater on our government credit card (used for travel). After 90 minutes, the only new information that I had in my possession was that B of A is going away, and Citibank will be the new provider. That was an hour and a half of my life that was wasted, and I'll never get it back. How nice. Knowing that, I wonder if Citi's stock will go up?

Today we had company PT. My ribs told me that I should have just gone to the gym and taken a leisurely ride on the bike. I decided to go on the run...I don't recommend that to anyone. As one of my past mentors was fond of saying, "There's a fine line between hard and stupid."

Tomorrow, I have a wedding to attend, and some Bob roaming to do. Sunday is up in the air.

How was your week?