Monday, August 31, 2009

Hallelu--Ahh damn.

by 13 Stoploss





Little while ago, I wrote this piece of shit. Now I'm writing a new one.

I just don't get it. At all. Could this possibly be a shiny, fucking example of human incompetence, or is someone merely toying with me like I'm this lil kitty cat chasing a ball of yarn?


Pay attention to the dates. Pay attention to the white out lines. Just fucking pay attention and fix my shit. And stop being so fail while you're at it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Get Paid, Bitches! (A how-to for the newly-ETS'd Vet)

by 13 Stoploss

BTW, so totally not wearing shin guards...

You’ve served your time. Maybe you went a few places, too. Saw some shit that messed you up real good inside. Then you came home a man, or woman, with a bit of understanding standing behind the glimmer of death and truth and reality in your eyes. Decided you had enough, and that it’s time for something new. Time to stick it to Sam and take your piece. He promised you that much, right? And now you owe it to yourself, or your kid, or your family, or your last platoon Sergeant to finally make something valuable of yourself. Something more YOU than they would ever allow you to be.

That’s what this is about. Realizing that dream, the coming to fruition of potential realized. After all, what’s a few essays and homework and study dates in the library, cramming for a final, when you’ve seen the gnarly shit that would literally earfuck the soul out of the clueless children texting next to you during lecture? Stand tall soldier, don’t shy away from being proud of what you have seen and accomplished. You’re better than those little shitstains, and they’ll soon know it.

This is the official 13 Stoploss guide to starting your shit out right, as if the first day of not shaving wasn’t enough to convince you in the first place. Do what I do, and then do it better.

1. Blow some of that savings, but not all of it. Slow down and enjoy living life again, Dionysus style. Drink some wine. Maybe too much. Just make sure your pockets aren’t empty at the end of the night. Have your fill, then walk away. You’ll be thankful later, or even the very near future.

2. You need a place to crash, peon, and there ain’t nothing wrong with letting the folks shower you with free room and board for as long as they’ll tolerate your monkey face. If you’re like me, with a family, then the first place that will store all your piled up shit is the best place. Don’t get attached; don’t make it nice; just live, to get set up. The more money you don’t spend, the more you get to sometimes re-experience number one.

3. Don’t get a job.

4. If you time number one and number three right, you can get on unemployment for the beginning of a new semester at your local community college. Before you start getting all hoighty-toighty, consider that Americans paid your salary from their taxes, and your taxes, taken from your salary paid into it as well. Then, consider that you more than likely are not a drug abusing shit tard claiming free money to use on drugs. So, suck up your pride, and take the cash. You earned it, and can capitalize on it for at least twelve months if you play your cards right.

5. Walk into your local community college. Fill out some papers. Play the clueless, never-been-to-school, just-got-back-from-Iraq-role, and some old lady will be more than happy to escort you to the Veterans Affairs and Financial Aid office. (Mine are the same office.)

6. Fill out some more paperwork, and get ready to collect some cash. That, you fucking fart poof, is why you follow my advice on number three (Also, see below).

www.gibill.va.gov

7. Unemployment, and the GI Bill are not enough. Especially if you didn’t listen to my advice on number one. If, like most, you spent the last year of your employment in some ass-fucked country like I did, then your taxable earnings for the year are close to nil. This is good news, because it means that you’re fucking poor. Why is that cool? Because, when you go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (have your tax documents ready), the “Socialists” are going to give your wadded-up piece of ass more money, in the form of grants. Then, if your state is as cool as mine, you too can get a Governor’s Fee Waiver, so all that cash you’re getting can go to things like HDTV, and paying off the next year of car payments and insurance (allowing you to study instead of worrying about bills!)

8. Because you can’t have too much good stuff: https://www.horatioalger.org//scholarships/index.cfm

The Horatio Alger Veterans Military Scholarship, based on need and merit. Five-thousand dollars, paid in four years. Extra cash to the pile: too much good stuff.

Ok, let’s recap: In California, the maximum allowable unemployment insurance rate is $1800 a month. With the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, 100% of tuition is paid, and the living stipend, based off BAH of E5 with dependents in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County area is $2152 per month. Add in military scholarships, Federal Pell Grants, and University Grants, and this poor sap is looking at a nice living for the next year. Add to that any single positive amount that comes in from the Missus, and life is looking pretty sweet. Especially when your mortgage is $300 a month because you’re so fucking poor.

That’s how you get ahead—by being a rat bastard, and learning the rules of the game. You know that game better than anyone. You learned how to survive on your own. Only difference here is the bullet and bomb exist only in your nightmares.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whoring For The Man

by The Usual Suspect

Being a civilian is awesome, but if you're young and doubly awesome like me, you know that money goes quickly. That's why I've devised my latest get-rich-and-fuck-everyone-else scheme.

A book. It'll be called The Deploying Soldier's Handbook or something along those lines. It will feature chapters such as "Jody", "Collateral Damage", "Places To Masturbate", "The Kids Are Thieves", "The Hot Chow Game", "When Friends Start Dying", "Lies To Watch Out For", and "The Trick Is To Stare Until It Doesn't Bother You Anymore (This Also Goes For Weird Porn)" among many wonderful and informative others. Guaranteed to beef up recruitment numbers.



This Summer's Totals!

Evictions: 0 (I know, right?)

Arrests: 0 (Sneakier than diarrhea.)

Foodborne Illnesses: 0, possibly 1.

Hangovers: [Figures are inaccurate and inconclusive]

Weight Gain: 5 to 10 pounds.

Guitars Destroyed: 1/2

States Visited: 5

Bullets Fired: 0

Obscenities Screamed At Liberal Yuppie Subaru Drivers: 9,000+

Conversations With Hippies: 1

Conversations With Homeless Army Rangers: 1

Bone-Breaking Weapon Disarms Learned From Homeless Army Rangers: 3

Bone-Breaking Weapon Disarms Remembered: 1/2?

Times Kicked In Head By Girlfriend: 1

Times Slapped, Punched, Poked, Pinched, Or Ass-kicked By Girlfriend: 56

VA Appointments: 6

Kilos Of Heroin Smuggled Over The Canadian Border (Anally): 0

Pure Profit: $0.00

Flies Caught Barehanded: 2

Metal Shows Attended: 7

Times Relied On GPS: 29

Gay Indie Songs Playing Upon Starting Car That Girlfriend Borrowed Earlier: 7,633

Projected Future Slappings: 0

Realistic Estimate Of Tomorrow's Slappings: 2

Times Doused With Water (In A Display Of Feminine Outrage): 0?

Children Frightened While Wearing Gorilla Mask: 1

Children Successfully Communicated Amiable Intentions To While Wearing Gorilla Mask: 0

Anticipated Beatings Related To Scaring Children With Gorilla Mask: 1-7

Received Beatings: 0

Times Tricked Into Drinking Dip Spit While Believing It's Jaegermeister: 1

Times Spat Afterwards: 12

Statistics Made Up In This Post: 78

People Who Will Skim To The Bottom: 48% (Another 34% will have stopped reading once the absence of boobies has been noted).

Hills Hiked: 2

Creepy Dogs (With Flashlights On Their Collar) Followed By: 1

Fish Caught: 8

Fish Worth Bragging About: 0

(Known) Social Faux Pas(whatever): 4

Times Pulled Over: 1

Tickets: 0

Asses Kissed: [Innumerable]

Swear Words Taught To Children: 0-3?

Successful Schemes: 1

Pillagings: 0... 3

Carpets Ruined: 1 (People cut dingleberries out of dog fur, so I can fix it...and no, it isn't poop.)

Paint Jobs Fucked Up: 1

Specific Color Of Paint To Identify, Purchase, And Re-apply: 1

Leases Signed: 0

Money Borrowed: $0.00


Fuck, I know, I gotta get off my ass and start having a good time, but I've just been so lazy...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fuck Veterans and their Education, or how my Junior College is bending me over without lube like Uncle Sam used to

by 13 Stoploss


In psychiatry, rage is a mental state that is one extreme of the intensity spectrum of anger. When a person experiences rage it usually lasts until a threat is removed or the person under rage is incapacitated… Research has shown that the human species has experienced rage since the initial stages of evolution; the fight or flight response to threatening stimuli shows this (Hill, 2002). Both men and women experience an overwhelming release of hormones when confronted with a threatening situation that will result in physical violence or fleeing from the threat. The threats faced in modern society have evolved since the origin of the human race but the fight or flight response remains the same. – Wikipedia (Rage)


If it isn’t one fucking thing, then it’s another. I’m so furious, I could literally smash my face into a wall, completely certain that the adrenaline I feel from this rage would at least temporarily allow me to not feel a thing so I could continue typing. It’s like that in combat, too. I haven’t been shot, or injured, but I have experienced a heightened awareness from being shot at, and that fist-pumping adrenalistic rage that allows you to get through the moment, despite the aches and pains and ailments that might otherwise slow you down, is some good shit for a good reason—it works!

You’ve all heard the bullshit slogans and PowerPoint bullets accompanying “Be All You Can Be,” “Army of One,” and “Army Strong.” Not only does the man promise money, he promises your training and experience will count toward college credit. Same man says you will have an opportunity to accelerate your education, and advance your potential.

Fuck that man.

Know what my AARTS transcript looks like? Know what my MOS and Army experience looks like on my college transcript? Fucking nothing, that’s what. I have twelve units of marksmanship, first aid, survival skills, land navigation, and the six units of classes I took for eArmyU. Now, you tell me what degree—what university will likely accept these worthless units for any reputable program of study? You tell me what training and experience a combatant has that satisfactorily applies to something of the equivalent in the civilian sector.

I’ve previously discussed my disdain for eArmyU, but now the worthlessness of that specific program has come full circle. Long ago, I took a basic, college writing class. Not one of the dummy classes, but the intro class. Despite missing the last month of class (I was in Iraq), I still got a B. When I returned home and enrolled in my local junior college, I had my transcripts sent to my new school, and all was well. I was cleared to take the advanced writing class that both California State and University of California required for transfer admittance.

In April or May, I applied for my transfer certificate and Associate’s Degree required for admittance into my new University. Two weeks ago, letter in the male was a denial. Said I didn’t meet the Writing 1 requirement.

“Wait a minute,” I thought. “Hadn’t my school cleared me to take their own Writing 2 class, based off the transcripts from my previous Writing 1 class?”

Yes. Yes, they fucking had, and I busted my ass in that class for an “A.” You can read my final research paper, all 25 pages of it, here. Suddenly, that paperwork was missing. New lady in the records office was clueless, and seemed a bit dull anyway. Now I’m left with a partial transfer certificate, which means I now have to take several undergrad courses I wouldn’t have had to take, just because some fuckstick lost my paperwork, and the resubmittal was denied.

A denied resubmittal is actually proof that my institution fucked me over. If I originally did not meet the requirements to take Writing 2, then I could have retaken Writing 1 sometime in the last two years! At no point in the last two years, through several guidance counseling’s, has anything remotely close to an issue arisen. I’ve been on the path, and worked my ass off to transfer, making sure every last T was crossed, and every last I was dotted in the transfer process. In the very least, had this issue arisen BEFORE MY LAST SEMESTER, I could have easily taken a summer class to fix the issue, no problem.

Clearly, aside from my own issues with my retarded school, one of the key problems is that veterans everywhere stand to potentially face the same predicament. What if Uncle Sam promised hundreds of thousands of young soldiers the opportunity to take college classes from accredited colleges and universities, only to find out that these college classes are worthless? How do you think all these vets are going to feel, having come back from the undefined front lines of an insurgent war to the classroom where they have to start all over again?

It’s the run-around that pisses me off. I’d expect my Battalion S1 to lose my promotion packet. I’d expect my Company Supply Sergeant to lose my clothing and CIF record. But my college’s records and admissions? These people make a lot more money than the soldiers fighting overseas do, and all these vets (and myself) want is the chance to finally have things straightened out for once. Like they should be. Incompetence is tolerated in the military by simply shifting people around from unit to unit. Thinking goes: “Not my problem anymore!” Well, what happens when those shitbags get moved into where it is my problem? What recourse have I left but to spill it out here on my blog?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here is some of the email fun, newest to oldest:

Gillian,

This makes no sense. ENC 101, a 3-unit semester course, is clearly the introductory course, while ENC 102, another 3-unit semester course, is clearly the advanced writing course. The fact that the school doesn't have a writing course above 102 clearly illustrates that 102 is their writing requirement, which is similar to IVC's WR2. ENC 102 is writing research papers, while IVC calls WR2 "critical thinking," but is really just writing research papers. It simply cannot be any more night and day!

You wrote:

"I did also call Thomas Edison State to find out which of the two English courses they required for graduation and I was informed they require both, ENC 101 & 102 for the graduation English Composition requirement. Therefore, that confirmed that both courses are equivalent to our WR 1."

You're wrong. IVC and TESC both require 2 courses! IVC's graduation requirement is WR1 AND WR2, NOT WR1 only. Therefore, ENC 101 and 102 are identical to WR1 and WR2, as clearly illustrated in the previous email with course descriptions and syllabi. Suggesting that 6 semester units of writing courses at TESC being equivalent to 3 semester units at IVC is ludicrous. They're the same. Also, WHY would TESC ONLY offer two writing courses to meet the introductory writing requirement, then not offer the advanced course (which, according to your understanding, would be 2 ADDITIONAL CLASSES!)

Lastly, this does not explain the error your counseling department made 2 YEARS AGO, and had 2 years to fix and advise me in. If this issue had arisen prior to the summer, as it SHOULD HAVE, I could have simply taken a summer WR1 course and had no issues with my IGETC and transfer to UCI. it seems your staff should be the ones to take Lewis Long's "Critical Thinking WR2 class," which I got an "A" in! The upheavel, lack of communication, and failure of the counselors (since you state the counselor was Part Time, as if that should explain everything) in your institution is unacceptable. Again, I realize you are the new one, but this is getting out of hand! The simple truth and proof of IVC's error is that I was admitted to WR2 because MY TRANSCRIPTS HAD ALREADY BEEN APPROVED.

- jason

On Jul 31, 2009, at 10:20 AM, Gillian Ashton wrote:

Hi Jason,

Yes, I’ve read your email and am working with my Director on finding a resolution. As soon as I have a concrete answer for you, I will be in touch. I did want to apologize as I think you may have misunderstood me, when I said that the ENC 101 wasn’t equivalent to our WR 1. I wasn’t in anyway trying to insult or state that our junior college is better than Thomas Edison State. After looking at the course description of ENC 102, it clearly shows that both ENC 101 & 102 are equivalent to our WR 1. I did also call Thomas Edison State to find out which of the two English courses they required for graduation and I was informed they require both, ENC 101 & 102 for the graduation English Composition requirement. Therefore, that confirmed that both courses are equivalent to our WR 1. Again, I apologize for the frustration this must be causing you and believe me when I tell you, I’ll do everything within my power to assist you in this matter.

Gillian Ashton


From: Jason Davis

Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 3:22 PM

To: Gillian Ashton

Subject: Jason Davis/Thomas Edison State College

Gillian,

I received your voicemail, but had my 2-day old daughter napping on my chest and couldn't move.

I am admitted to UCI, "with conditions." Initially, I thought my completed IGETC was sent to UCI when I ordered my transcripts sent to their admissions office. I had my first counseling session with the Humanities department on July 10. I hand delivered the unopened, and approppriately sealed temporary transcript sent from you, to my home, from IVC. I am currently enrolled for the Fall 2009 Quarter at UCI. Neither the Humanities Department nor the Admissions people have alerted me, as yet, to any issues; but it is my understanding that a completed IGETC is necessary, and was forthcoming.

Again, I realize that you are the messenger, and are new to the position. My complaint stems not from you, but from the lack of communication, and organization from your installation. For two years, and several guidance and counseling sessions with several counselors in that timeframe, I have been on a set path to complete IGETC. At no time has anyone even remotely mentioned the possibility that an issue could arise. Your own installation verified the TESC course(s) before I even became an enrolled student, then later signed off on my having met the IVC requirements to take WR2. In fact, if you don't mind taking a look at my records, I received an "A" in that class, and am transferring to the most highly acclaimed Journalism school in the state! To suggest that a state school from another state is below the program offered at your junior/community college is insulting, especially when its progam specifically prepared me to succeed in obtaining the highest grade available in your school's WR2 class!

Some stumbling around the web led me to Thomas Edison's course catalog.

The following link lists more than "two sentences" about the ENC 101 course:

http://myedison.tesc.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab=courses&url=/bin/common/course.pl?course_id=_2117_1

IVC WR1:

"Writing 1 is an introductory course in college composition, concentrating on analysis and interpretation. The course focuses on how the student writer might present and develop a particular point of view in a clear, logical, and convincing manner. Students read from a variety of texts offering different ideas, traditions, contexts, and cultural perspectives. Students then write essays in response to issues and concerns derived from a critical reading of those texts, taking into account the writer's audience, point of view, purpose and tone. The course features extensive individual and small-group instruction in composition."

TESC ENC101:

"English Composition I is an introductory course in expository writing that emphasizes the importance of purpose and audience awareness in writing. While completing the work of the course, you will learn processes that will enhance the skills you need for academic and business writing.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

The primary objective of English Composition I is to improve your writing skills. This course presents many strategies that you will find useful. By the conclusion of the course, you should be able to:

Describe and utilize common techniques used in expressive, narrative, and descriptive writing.

Demonstrate the ability to use analysis of a subject to inform a reader.

Effectively write an explanatory paper.

Evaluate audience type and writing format.

Effectively compose both analytical and evaluative papers.

Write a clear thesis statement and support it with related, logical supporting arguments.

Write mearningful and effective introductions and conclusions.

Effectively write a problem/solution paper."

I expect this matter to be sufficiently and quickly resolved without adversely affecting my enrollment or program status at UCI. Anything less would be considered a great disservice to myself, and the potential impact this may have on the rest of the Veteran community at IVC. I would appreciate a courtesy reply to confirm that you have read and received this, and are diligently pursuing the matter.

Graciously,

Jason Davis

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Past and Present

By 13 Stoploss

2214280709

There is an acronym in the Army that means more to Joe than any other. While “KP,” “CQ,” and “Brigade FTX” likely strike terror into the minds of the average Suspect, on the opposite end of the acronymular spectrum is “ETS.” End, Term of Service is what it sounds like—the end of an enlisted soldier’s contractual service. It doesn’t take long for many to become comfortable throwing it around like a discarded E-Tool. In fact, for jokers like me, the countdown began at 1,139 days. Simple mathematical computations will tell you that at just ten months into my standard forty-eight month enlistment, I was already counting down the next thirty-eight months.

I have yet to tell the entire story, but my enlistment was set to expire in November 2005. I had more than thirty days of accrued leave; in normal circumstances, a soldier in good standing could use his accrued leave to effectively exit the service by the number of accrued days he has—called “terminal leave”; in my case, that would have pushed me into the second week of October.

Rewind to October 1, 2005: I am stop lossed with the Army’s 101st Airborne; Mrs. 13 is in California, due to give birth in twelve days; and my father is in the hospital with heart trouble and complications with his Diabetes.

I had been admitted to school, had written verification of civilian employment upon my return, the reinstating of medical benefits, and was first on the list of student housing at Mrs. 13’s University. Instead of moving on and restarting my life, I was boarding a midnight flight on a commercial 737 at Campbell Army Airfield on its way to Kuwait International Airport.

I was not allowed to use some of my accrued leave to be home for the birth of our child. I was not allowed to fly home for my (single, living alone) father’s emergency procedure in the hospital, which eventually led to kidney failure. No, Operation Iraqi Freedom V/VI was far more important, and my 1SG said the decision had already been made to have every single possible soldier on the ground in Kuwait.

Fast-forward eighteen days: still in Kuwait, eating camel burgers and Baskin Robbins, playing PS2 in the MWR tent, and generally avoiding formations and responsibility.

The next day (or 2—being half a day ahead in time is confusing), I was in Baghdad, starting a twelve-hour shift at the BIF. I checked my email and found two phone-mail pictures in my inbox—Tristan was born on the 19th. He weighed six pounds, two ounces, and was nineteen and a half inches long. He looked just like me.

I was not happy. I should have been celebrating one of the most important events in my life, smoking an “It’s a Boy!” and learning how to be a good father. My mind was cluttered, my concentration was broken, and I couldn’t have given two shits less about working in the BIF. To make matters worse, the Red Cross message alerting me to the birth of my child never came. Both of them never came. I spoke to the new Company’s 1SG, and he promised to look into it. He and the Chaplain never spoke to me again for the duration of the following twelve months.

I survived, somehow, by busying myself. I became obsessed with working out, reading books and magazines, and wasting time on the Internet. Mrs. 13 emailed me photos and videos at every opportunity. From the other side of the world, I watched the pixilated version of my son grow from an infant into a toddler, and experienced none of it.

Friends, and others with children, would often attempt to calm me down. They said it was no big deal, and that I was honestly not missing anything good, but returning for all the good stuff. They said to trust them; and they’re the ones to know, right?

Little 13 was seven months old when I met him. I landed at John Wayne to a not-pregnant wife, and a little boy on her shoulders. I feared holding him, being just another stranger, wondering whether he asked himself, “Who the hell is this asshole taking mommy’s attention away from me?”

It was the shortest two weeks of my life, and any ground in establishing a relationship with him was quickly lost. In my mind, thinking of his mind, I felt that he might think I was not important enough to stick around.

By this point in the deployment, the stop loss battle was over. I’ll cover more of what happened in those seven months soon, but it’s worth noting that the following five months were as painfully long as those two weeks were painfully short.

Little 13 was fourteen months old when I got home, this time for good. In total, I had missed the last six months of Mrs. 13’s pregnancy, and the first fourteen months of Little 13’s life. The transition from battlefield and combat zone to home is hard enough, but from being a soldier to being the father of a child I had not known was much more difficult than I can share to explain.

When I think back to those who told me I wouldn’t be missing much, I feel angry and bitter, until I realize that every single last bit of it was one steaming pile of horseshit. All it took for me to realize was one look, the first look, that my minutes-old daughter would give me when she heard my voice for the first time. When she stopped crying, and directed her gaze toward me, she smiled, and I knew in an instant that I would have given anything I possessed in the world to have experienced that with my son. It was the most precious, perfect, first greeting I could have ever imagined. This is why the stop loss story is important to me. It’s not that I had to do my job a bit longer, but that I lost something that should not have been taken from me. Nothing is ever more important than family.

*For more photos, please visit: Only Film, Thanks!