Friday, October 26, 2007

New Marine on Deck

Hey guys,
Sure wish I could concentrate and write something funny for you all, but I am sitting in the Hospital looking at the newest Marine Corps Aviator that arrived today. We are naming our newest addition Jacob “Jake” and he is a small baby, tipping the scales at a little over 10lbs 2oz’s. Tee my wife is recovering well from the C-Section. You know, after watching that for the third time, I don’t think that I can look at a big Rib eye steak the same. The Doc made the first cut which made my knee’s buckle. Tee, gave me grief “Gosh, tell me how this makes you woozy and yet when you help cut off that insurgents leg in Iraq and you were all smiles.”

Ok, I forgot to tell you how to have fun with your prego wife at the hospital. I bought one of those remote control fart machines years ago. As she is laying in bed holding the baby with guests in the room, I hit the button causing a huge fart from the machine under her bed. Sounds perfect. There is that pause when folks look at her and the baby trying to figure out which one did it. I of course, am sitting on the other side of the room, so it can't be me... Then Tee jumps my crap about having fun with her.

Well, hope you guys have a great day and thanks for all of your support over the last year!! Also I forgot, if you have time, please go over to this site and pop a vote for my buddy Marty Horn. Micro soft is putting this on and I cant't think of a more deserving guy/family.

Semper Fi,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Phone Colonel

You know I have to laugh when I think about Rank sometimes. When I was younger, a Major was old as dirt and a LtCol, hell forget it, that guy farted dust. A General would be close to using a walker and that is because they are soooo old. Now I am a LtCol and although I feel about 25 and act like a first Lieutenant on the inside, the gray hair is harder and harder to cut out of my head and the run time on my PFT goes down hill each year.

This flashback came to me as I was walking today in Tampa Florida. I remember sitting in the office over in Al Taquddam Iraq, while the “Colonel” was working on the desk finishing up his email. The phone rang and here is how the conversation went.

“Good Afternoon, Colonel Cassius, Airboss, may I help you?”

Phone: “Hey this is Col. Dover from the 187 airwing in Diewabuabbee, calling to find out why it’s so dangerous at your base. Every time one of my C-130’s fly’s into your airfield they are taking fire about a half mile off the end of the runway.”

Col Cassius “I’m sorry; who did you say this is?”

Phone: “Colonel Dover”

Col Cassius “Is this like… a full bird Colonel, or an Air Force Phone Colonel?”

Phone: “Ahhhhh, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Dover, aren’t you the same?”

Col Cassius “Well no LtCol Dover, in the Marine Corps, we answer the phone as either LtCol smuckatelly or if you are an O-6, Colonel Smuckatelly. In this case you are speaking to the big cheese, COLONEL CASSIUS. As to your birds getting shot at, first of all, I think they are just picking up the intense heat from the burn dump about a half mile off the field. Second, I think your boys are a bit over reactive and maybe embellish their combat reports so they get more points for their air medals or bronze stars or what ever they are putting in for. But that’s just my opinion since OUR KC 130’s land here five times a day and they have never reported being shot at on final. Second of all if they were getting shot at, then they DO rate those medals and all I can say is…Hey it’s a WAR ZONE.

Phone: OOOOhhhh UUUUMMMMM, Well, huh

Col. Cassius “Ok Dover, if that’s it, have a great day and tell your boys to keep braving all that fire as they yank and bank into our airfield. Goodbye.”

He hung up the phone and turned to me saying “We use to call these guys Pentagon Phone Colonels because they would never say Lieutenant in front of their rank when I was stationed there, so I would be calling these pukes “Sir” when we were the same rank. That always bugged the crap out of me.”

Hey you Air Force guys, sorry, we aren’t normally this hard on the phone but Damn, Marines are just hard sometimes…
Semper Fi,

Monday, October 08, 2007

You've Got Mail...

You’ve Got Mail…

Electronic mail is a curse in the most simplistic manner speaking. Where are all the old handwritten letters that we use to send? Remember that special emotion we felt when a letter arrived in the mailbox instead of all the junk mail and bills? I have copies of all the old love letters and correspondence between my Grandfather, then Navy Lt. Bruce R. McCampbell, and his bride during WWII while he was stationed in the Pacific on the U.S.S. Mugford DD389. They pass on a tale of what life was like for them during that time and in their own handwriting. These letters continue through his service as Chief of Surgery on the hospital ship USS Consolation in the Korean Police Action. It’s actually a very special treasure that I enjoy going back through and reading from time to time. [Editor’s note: our letters from Vietnam and from my husband’s Naval deployments fill a storage box, but they haven’t been made public—yet!]

While Stationed in Iraq, I was able to email back and forth to my wife almost every day that became banter of some sorts. The longer letters were a testament to some of the things I experienced while there, and her side was a picture of life at home. It allowed me a chance to be there when the kids were sick, or share her last minute thoughts before she went to bed that night. It always amazes me that these letters were zipping across time and space in fractions of a second, arriving in my “Inbox” only minutes later, often accompanied by a picture of something that happened that day.

We saved all these letters in a folder on our home computer, but as with most computers, the program failed, and we lost that folder and all the memories contained within. It was kind of depressing to think that my grandkids would have no written exchanges between us to read through to see what our lives were like in the year 2005. The bitterness towards MSN lasted for months, but truly, I had no one to blame except for myself. Why didn’t I print off those letters as soon as I got home? Well, you just don’t expect to lose the data deep down in your hard drive. Just like you never expect that you will be the one to die in a car wreck, thus the “What If” file I wrote about last week.

If you are one of those people, who like me, expected that one day I would retrieve the data and print off all the letters, well—get to it fast!! I was lucky, for about two months ago, I stumbled across a PST file that one of my data dinks had saved on my thumb drive before we cleaned my profile off of the office laptop top in Iraq. It contained all the letters from my wife that I had put in a folder in my mail program. When I opened it up, there they were. All of them!! It was like finding that lost ring that had been missing for months and you had given up on it.

I took advantage of it right away. I made a Word document and cut and pasted seven months worth of emails into it. (Believe me when I acknowledge that this is a lot of time and effort). Then I ran the entire 200 pages through a free program my Mom sent me called “Email stripper” which removes all those carrots and crap out of a forward or reply. When I was done, I had one hundred and eighty-eight pages of our email back and forth that was as pretty as any book you pick up.

Now my wife, “Tee,” has an October birthday, and I was thinking of what to get her. This was the perfect present, something that she said she missed as well and was very special to her. I looked at my project and realized that I had cut and pasted them in reverse order Feb 06 to Aug of 05, so I had to go back and cut and paste everything so that is was in chronological order. Then I put all of my digital photos in a collage pattern of seven pictures per page. Took the thumb drive down to Office Depot where they printed off my Word document, front and back, and all the picture pages on a great heavy-duty color laser printer. I then went next door to Hobby Lobby and bought a hard back expandable photo album book to hold it all. I had to come up with longer bolts to go through it, but it looked like a hardbound book now.

I gave it to “Tee” for her birthday and she loved it. Hours of manual labor produced something that my kids and their children will now be able to go back and read to see what our lives were like during that year. If you need a project to work on, I suggest you make one of these books too! If you have a loved one over in the war, this is something you could do for them as well. Hell, it is just something you should do because, like it or not, we live in a electronic age where documents like “letters” will be non-existent and our ancestors will have no insight to our thoughts or lives. Better do it now than lose all that data later and regret never having printed them out. The only thing I wished I had done was having them printed on acid-free paper.

Semper Fi,