Thursday, December 30, 2004

No title

I got instructions from people at Ft.Leavenworth that I am to fly out of Austin next Monday, thus began my 30 day TDY, I hope everything works out and I can turn in some quality work for them.

What had happened in South Asia has been, is, and will continue to be sad and devastating. Those of us who were not affected have truly been very, very lucky. Having been in a war zone and living through a lifetime of tragedies, be it having been affected by it, or know someone who had perished, just once again reminds me of how quickly life can be snuffed out. You would think that I am that much closer to living everyday like it was my last, but I'm not there yet. I still sleep away about a third of my life, have a very small circle of friends, thus a small circle of influence (all my good friends live far from me.), and I can't recall the last time that I had volunteered myself (except tossing tee-shirts at "Ride for the Roses".) to any meaningful causes

The girlfriend asked me if, in about 10 years or so, Iraq had become this shining democracy of the Middle East, and obtained a kick-ass economy, would I feel like that I had contributed to it? I think I would somewhat, and not very much. I would feel more so for some of the Iraqis who had translated for us and helped us out, they believed, sometimes more than we did, and paid their lives for that belief. I think that I am lucky to have been a witness, and also lucky that I got to see a different part of the world that I might otherwise not have gotten to see, under "normal" circumstances.

The dog is munching his dinner away, I'll have to become a bad parent once again. I don't like leaving the girlfriend and the pets behind, but I am hoping that one of these days, I won't need to just to earn a buck or two.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Post X'mas

Happy belated X'mas to everyone! I just came back from visiting the folks in Houston. Got the grandparents, my uncle and his family, my dad, stepmother, and my sister, freshly divorced and starting anew.

Over the 3 days that I was there, I did the typical Asian holiday thing, and that is eat,eat, and eat! Our love of eating is in the blood! We had Peking duck, eaten in 4 ways, Chinese fondue, Northern China cuisine, and Taiwanese food. In between all the eating sessions, we managed to open some gifts, I got mostly bath and skin care products, and I gave away practical gifts like gift certificates, wallets, and timepieces.

I was really glad to get to hang out with my sister for a little bit, this past year has been hard on her, and I hope this new year will start to look better for her and the rest of us.

Went back to the girlfriend and exchanged gifts with her, and I got more bath stuff, candles, some novelty gifts, I like them all! I hope that our financial situation will be more stable so that we can finally began to get what we truly wants,like a new bed, new bike, her car restored....

I am still very grateful that we are all here and healthy,even with all of our issues and baggages.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sad day in Mosul

I woke up today to the news that some 19 soldiers and 57+ other personnels were killed and injured at the mess hall at Foward Operation Base Marez. This has been the most direct and accurate hit on a mess hall in Mosul in a while. I remember the numerous times when I was in Mosul, how the insurgents tried to aim at our mess hall, as well as the gym, many times, I got really lucky and walked away minutes before the mortar hit.

I don't know whether or not we struck back at the bastards that tried to hit the chow hall, I do recall a lot of anger felt by those of us who wondered why, with the available technology (we have radars that can track rocket/mortar movements), we are not firing back at the insurgents, and how many people would have to be blown up before those in charge would decide to do something about it.

I'm sad for those whose lives and limbs have been cut short, as well as sad about those in charge who doesn't seem to have a clue as to what to do about Iraq. I'm not opposed to getting rid of Saddam and his regime, but I just wonder how much more we will have to pay in US lives before the Iraqis are finally going to get up and help themselves.

I don't see the US pulling out of this anytime soon, I think that as more information gets gathered, I only see us staying over there, not only fighting the insurgent sectors, but also possibly countries like Syria and Iran. I really hope that I'm wrong on that one!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Saturday night with Wanda

We went to the Paramount theater, this theater located in downtown Austin, and watched Wanda Syke's live comedy show. It was worth every penny! She covered a lot of subjects in her routine, everything from detachable pussies to politics. Most of the audience were made of gay men, lesbians, middle aged straight couples, and a few African-Americans.

I wonder what she thinks of her fans, and their demographics, I guess she probably doesn't think a lot about them, as long as there are people who support her. My mind, while waiting for her show to start, wondered what would happen if there were klans members, wife-beaters, pediphiles, etc., how would she change her routines?

I like her, she's a natural at what she does, and she seems to be enjoying herself pretty well too! How many people could say that about the jobs that they do?

If you get a chance, go and see her if she hops into your town, you won't regret it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Soldier's last request

Specialist David Mahlenbrock was killed by an IED on December 3rd in Kirkuk, Iraq. David had a special letter sent to his squad in the event of his death.

Dear 1st Squad,

If you’re reading this, then I’ve died for our country. I just hope it wasn’t for nothing.

After the IED went off yesterday, I wanted to write this in case something happens to me. There are a few more letters that I’d like you to give my wife and family.

I’d like to have a military funeral, but, if you can work please make sure that Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” is played at the ceremony in addition to the bagpipes. If they won’t let it happen, that’s ok, thanks for trying…...

I know that all the belongings I have here will go to Melissa, but there are a few more things I’d like for you guys to make sure she gets. I have a dog tag w/ our picture on it along w/ some pictures and an American flag in my left breast pocket. There is also a can that says “Son” on it that Melissa’s parents gave me that I’d like for them to have, and that angel stone should go to her grandma and grandpa Snow.

Now if I died w/ blue eyes (one blew that way and one blew the other way) and there’s nothing really left of me, that’s ok, I know you meant well.

Alright, enough with the dead guy’s last request, there’s a lot of thank you’s I wanna say to you fellas……

The above entry was courtesy of the "Blackfive:The paratrooper of Love". I never knew Spc. Mahlenbrock, but I'm every bit as sad about his passing as can be. I'd like for us to do this in his honor....

Specialist David Mahlenbrock will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetary on Wednesday, December 15th at 10AM EST. David's family and friends are asking radio stations to play Toby Keith's "American Soldier" on the 15th at 1pm EST with a dedication to Specialist David Mahlenbrock.

Let's see what we can do. Email or call the radio stations in your area and ask them to play this dedication to David. Feel free to copy this post to send to them.

Also....You can send condolences to David's family at:

Inglesby-Givnish Funeral Home

600 E. Main St.

Maple Shade, NJ 08052

Rest in peace, David.

Gov't works

I had filed a congressional inquiry a few weeks back because I had and still have pay problems with the army, instead of crediting me for leave not yet taken, they decided to deduct my pay, equalling to the amount of leaven not yet taken. Also, my travel voucher for reinbursable expenses incurred while in Iraq and Kuwait had not been reinbursed for over 3 months now.

After unsuccessful attempts to try to get some help from some in charge in my reserve unit, I finally came to the end of my ropes. After all, after I got back from Iraq, they dissolved the company to which I was depolyed with, so there was really no one in charge.

I then sent a e-mail inquiry with my local congressman, and even though we've never spoke or met in person, I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with his helpers! Two people from his office made phone calls to me and on my behalf to people at the government agency level that I could not have done myself. Imagine how relieved I was when I got a phone call today, this guy named Mike called from the congressional office, asking me to fax a copy of my order to him, because, apparantly, defense accounting service had "lost" my order deploying me to Iraq. (It happens a lot.) He told me that once this is one, then I should see my travel pay in one week. If at the local level, there are competent people like that, then maybe we wouldn't even need politicians to sort this sort of mess out.

I don't know if anyone could identify with me for as far as pay issues with the service or other branches of gov't is concerned, I'd like to know about them, about how common it is and what you've done to resolve the issues, so please feel free to leave me comment or send me a e-mail! Don't be shy!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Ramen's gay adventure

We were being nice yesterday and took Ramen out to the local dog park. The weather was great and it has been a while since Ramen was out and about, running freely with other dogs anyways.

Ramen got there and ran around with other dogs, took dips in the cool stream, and hiked the trail on the other side of the stream. I had to goto that trail and chase him down so he doesn't forget to come back to us.

At one point of our outing, Ramen was followed by this beautiful male dalmation, Ramen, of course, tried to play it cool, until, the dalmation showed what he was really after, to hump Ramen. Ramen, of course, had his particular taste in "special friends", and it just so happened that it wasn't that dalmation that day. So Ramen growled at the dalmation to get his front legs off of him!

We noticed that, in the park, there were a lot of canine gay love affairs going on! It made the girlfirend think that the dog park was basically a gay dog gathering place! funny and cute!

Visiting with Kate

On this past Friday, the girlfriend and I visited my friend Kate in San Antonio. I first met Kate when I got mobilized with the army and got sent to Ft.Lewis. She's a nice person, but a bit misunderstood, like I was, with the rest of the group that we were with. She ended up not going to Iraq with the group because she found out that she was pregnant.

Towards the end of our stay at Ft. Lewis, Kate and I became roommates. It was a tumultuous time in both of our lives, my grandmother was sick with cancer, and Kate was very pregnant, and unsure about what is coming up next. Her husband at that time was not the most supportive either.

Our correspondeces during my Iraq/Kuwait stay were few and in between. I thought that she just got busy with the baby and life and didn't think much of it.

When I came back stateside, Jim, a guy that was in our group, and lives near Kate, encouraged me to contact her again. I called her up early last week and found out that she had been dealing with a lot more than just a baby. Her husband got arrested for being in this internet child porn ring, then got busted to a private and now is in prison. Also, shortly after her husband's arrest, she found out that she has MS. That's a lot for anyone to handle, and I don't care how young/old you are.

One thing about Kate is that she's tough, and determined to be in charge of her life. She's going to get medically discharged from the army, then go get her teaching certificate and teach and I'm glad for her.

While in San Antonio, Kate, Jim, the girlfriend and I went to have some fine Italian food, watched a DVD, played with baby, and chatted about her life. It was a good evening had by all.

I haven't talked with a lot of other people from the unit that I was with, but I do know that some are still adjusting with life after war, a few got really high-paying jobs, thanks to their Iraq experience, but most part of me still wonder if any of us has become better person through this experience, I hope I have. I'm more cynical, but also more hopeful in some ways.

While I do hope for all the best with the people that I was with, I hope it more so for people like Kate.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Moo is back!

I went to this seminar for people who are unemployed and supposedly looking for jobs, it was very inspirational, made me want to pound my head against the brick wall endlessly!

The girlfriend and I then did some X'mas shopping, mostly for the kids, her nephew, and one of my friend's baby girl. I got her a polar fleece pullover, corduroy pants, and a nice shirt to go with it. For the nephew, he got turtlenecks, a pair of couduroy pants, and a short-sleeved dress shirt, kids will be styling this winter!

That black and white cat, to which I had named "Moo", has come back to us! She tried to come into the house but Ramen kept on pretending to be the guard dog and drove her away. It was also the funniest thing seeing our other cat Silly and her exchanging not so friendly meows!

If I had my way, I'd have a few more dogs and cats, I'm like that. I think pets make life so much better!

I've also got to start carbo-loading because the nephew will be here for four days starting next Sunday, and at 3 years of age, he's a handful!

Monday, December 06, 2004

We had a social life....for tonight anyways.

I'm listening to web radio and typing this, it's great! The girlfriend and I just came back from dinner at Lisa's house (the filmmaker), celebrating Murray's (our friendly Canadian filmmaker friend) 45th. birthday. One of the ladies from Habitat for Humanity who was working with them were there with her partner, and one of Lisa and her man's friend (not a filmmaker, I don't really know what she does) was there too. I think we were the youngest people there, and I think we'd better appreciate that while it lasts. I think the time that I has spent in Iraq was pretty much the only time that I remember to which I had spent with a group of people who are younger than me.

We had really good food there, Lisa's special roast, real mashed potatoes, beans, salad, and baby carrots. Most of the dinner time converstations were about who knows who, who sued who, who built whose houses (Lisa's man is a house builder), and Willy Nelson and how he's an icon now. Most of the time I was a bit quiet because I've never built, or owned houses, and never even had a celebrity sighting.

One by one the guests left Lisa's house, so Murray, Lisa, Lisa's man, and the girlfriend stood around and chatted about a bit of everything. It was a neat and lively evening, and a vision of what it would be like to have friends who are actually at that settled stage in life (whatever that means). We hope to see them really soon again!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Evening entertainment

I am having a semi-bad case of the cold today, and I can't say that I've achieved too much , I did, however, finally get my TDY paperwork faxed off to the right party.

Our dog Ramen is have a attack of the tummy bug, he has been vomiting twice since last night, I fed him a pepto-bismo tablet, and I am hoping that'll do the trick.

It's Friday evening and both of us are sick, so that kind of rules out going out for the evening, seeing a movie, or getting drunk at some seedy bar. I told the girlfriend that I just wanted to have a nice and quiet cold evening at home, with a fire in the fireplace, and that's not something too different from the usual.

Then Ramen wanted to go outside to the small backyard that we've got. I let him out, expecting him to want to come back in in 2 minutes, since he usually does that. About 10 minutes has passed when I started to wonder what had happened to the dog. The girlfriend went back to check, and guess what she had found in the backyard? A black and white cat! She's kind of chubby, but clean looking and very cute, and on top of all that, not afraid of Ramen! (It's usually the other way around, but Ramen is not the big defender dog type either.) We let her in and it has been quite funny to watch her not be afraid of Ramen! I will include a picture of her on this blog soon....and I think I will call her "Moo"! When you see the photo, you'll know why!

Thursday, December 02, 2004


A bit about her, she's in her late 80's and has seen much in her life. From WWII, Japanese occupation of China, to the communist takeover of China, to which she barely escaped with my dad, who was an infant at that time, and my granpa. Until recently, she made it through stomach cancer, and that wasn't even the first time that she had been troubled by major illness. I love her to death, she has basically been the only one who has steadily nurtured me since I was an infant, there were a few gaps in those years, but I basically consider her to be my mother.

Lately, she has been troubled by some symptoms of dementia, mostly brought on by old age. She's not at the point where she cannot recognize her family members, but her mood swings would be more often, and she'd have really bad short-term memories. She has also started to get into more fights with my grandpa, over her suspecion of him having an affair! (It's kind of funny if you think about it!) Basically, there are good and bad moments when it comes to her dementia, and the rest of the family is just trying to learn and adjust to it.

I just try to take it all in stride, and try to laugh at the funny moments. Like this morning, when my aunt in N.J. called her up to say hello, grandma went ahead and cried to her about how she thinks that grandpa has been neglecting her, calling her a schizophrenic, all while thinking that she was talking to my stepmother! I love the funny "oops!" moments!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

In Houston....

Last night, the girlfriend and I went to a bookreading and dinner/snack with Maxine and Elizabeth from Houston, they are also fellow bloggers and were neat to hang out and laugh with. They are also kind of sophisticated because they goto bookreadings, wheras, we tend to goto rodeos, hockey games, and the occasional baseball games. I tend to go through spurts in bookreading, reading a whole bunch at once and then stopping for a while.

I made it to my folks' in Houston in the afternoon, took my dog with me and the ride to Houston was good. The weather was nice, especially when the wind hit the tall grass on the sides of the road, the grass would sway from side to side, very hypnotic.

Too bad the girlfriend has been sick, she's got this combination of allergy/climate change bug that has been attacking her lately. I told her that I'll bring some Chinese remedy to help her feel better, but it might not taste good.

I was im'ing the girlfriend when all of a sudden, 2 people that I knew from Iraq got on, one of them was a supply sgt. from the air force, he was and still is a nice guy, just he couldn't keep steady relationships because he's deployed all the time. The other guy that im'ed me was a guy from my group who also had not much of a luck in relationship lately, his wife hooked up with another guy while he was in Iraq. It was good to hear from them, to know that everyone is still alive and as well as can be, under the circumstances.

Hope everyone is doing alright on this cold night!