Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tonight

by 13 Stoploss

Cheap Champagne with the missus.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stoploss Backpay Compensation Update 6

by 13 Stoploss

Got an email this morning and WHAT a way to start off the morning!

Dear Jason Davis,

Regarding Retroactive Stop Loss Payment Case Number RSL00000230-1R for Army Service Member Jason Davis.


Your claim was processed today and will be sent to DFAS. The claim was submitted for {14} months. It was submitted for the difference between your ETS, (contractual obligation) and your release from active duty. It is only for days served on active duty. Please allow up to eight weeks for processing. Thank you.

Stop Loss Case Manager MD

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Xmas Vacation: Pacific Northwest pt. 2

by 13 Stoploss

Nikon D700

Beanie and Long-sleeved undershirt--it's a winter staple...

Laurelton Falls, Oregon

Laurelton Falls, Oregon

Lower Bridal Veil Falls, Oregon

Lower Bridal Veil Falls, Oregon

Astoria Column, Oregon

From the Astoria Column, Oregon

I'm better at Wii bowling in my onesy than you are.


Rolleiflex Automat 3.5 Zeiss-Opton, Fuji Velvia/Fuji Neopan Acros


Near Laurelton Falls, Oregon

Laurelton Falls, Oregon

Near Mount Rainier, Washington

Near Mount Rainier, Washington

Near Mount Rainier, Washington

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 2010 Experiment

by The Usual Suspect


This is my personal challenge, to myself, and I welcome you all to join me in it for this next year, if not the rest of your lifetimes.

Work hard, the universe doesn't give a shit about the slothful, and damn sure won't reward them.

Play harder, life is hard enough.

Love hardest of all, because our time is borrowed, and like it or not, we pay our debts on time.

Its simple. Several core elements to every man and woman, things they keep in mind at all times. Dignity, self reliance, humility, respect, compassion, decisiveness, the will to forge the best life with the small amount of time given. Just naming a few, just from brainstorm and inspiration alone.

Use that dormant, dreaming part of your brain for a minute, if you're feeling super saucy, and dream with me for a minute:

You are someone who is aware of the direction your nation is going. You are someone who is aware that there are people who are not from the same land as you, people who speak a different language, but you understand that they are people too, and not just a convenience to find on your Discovery Channel.

You are someone who is aware of the perils of the world, and are prepared accordingly to defend the things that you hold dear. And you're someone that is strong enough to stand the horrors of others' weakness without passing it on.

One of the most vital lessons you can learn in the Army is that if you want to be a good leader, you should observe your leaders and emulate the strong points, discard the weak points. Do this with enough role models, and hopefully you're heading in the right direction (yeah, chump, don't think you can ever stop learning).

You leave a legacy, no matter how much or how little you do. You cannot exist without having an impact on the world. So fuck you and your idea of just "going along and getting along". You changed the equation just by existing, and that wasn't even your choice. Harsh world huh?

2010 is a cool number, feels like it should show promise. Space movies and whatnot. Think about an iPod Touch. Smaller than your wallet, and can hold way more albums than you should ever be able to conveniently handle. The fact that we can even RECORD sounds and music is mindblowing, and more than humanity was probably ever meant to do.

So uh, let's try not to be such douchebags this next decade? Fill a few less body bags, just for shits n giggles? Or don't. Your choice. Universe is gonna keep on dicking around anyway. Long after we're all worm food, and our great great great great great great NOT SO GREAT grandkids are gonna bitch in school about how "No one wants to hear about how the stupid ancient Americans were arrogant, self important dicks! BOOOOOOOOOOOORING!!!!!"



Too long, didn't read?

Imagine if you were the SINGLE specimen chosen to sum up your home country. Or the human race in general. What kind of example would you be? I'd be a pisspoor example. So break out some resolutions, and act like your word is worth something.

Happy holidays.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bachelor of Arts Gripe

by The Usual Suspect

There is no conspiracy to control TV programming to keep the masses stupid. They put something on TV, you decide to watch it or not. If you watch it, advertisers throw money at it, to make more of it, to get you to watch more, get to know those products more in the meantime, and many families are fed through this process. Capitalism fuckin' rules.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to cry "conspiracy" as much as the next guy, because that shit is FA-SCI-NATING, but it sounds more like a go-to excuse for failed creative types that just talked about doing great things instead of actually doing the hard, mundane bitch work that goes into creating incredible things. Then again, it somehow became a common pattern to assume that success is predetermined by the fates, and if it isn't handed to you, all laid out like the Yellow Brick Road, complete with ever-loyal pals to guide you the whole way, well...then it just wasn't meant to be.

Bullshit. That just means that your spare time is being wasted. Fuck paycheck to paycheck wage slaving, I don't have kids or major responsibilities yet, I'm gonna go back and kick college in the dick for a bit. Finish the job Clint Eastwood style.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Vacation: Pacific Northwest

by 13 Stoploss


1445, Friday, 11 December: Left Orange County. Took two hours and forty-five minutes to get through Los Angeles in the rain. Did 75 MPH through the pass, and cruised through intermittent rain up the grapevine. Got into Sacramento at 21:15.

0845, Saturday, 12 December: Very little visibility through Redding. Pouring rain north of Redding and through the Shasta's. Thankfully, no ice or snow, and I was able to drive a confident and consistent 75 MPH through the mountain twisties in the rain. After this trip, I may never go back to 2WD.

Late Dinnertime, Saturday, 12 December: I'm in love with Portland. Can't wait to go back.

2107, Saturday, 12 December: Welcome to Fort Lewis, Washington. Visitor's Center wanted my driver's license, Mrs. 13's Driver's license, my vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. What happened to just showing one license and writing down the license plate number for a visitor's pass to tape to the window?

0926, Sunday, 13 December: NCO enlisted housing overlooking a lake. Coffee.

1048, Sunday, 13 December: It's snowing!

2309, Sunday, 13 December: So, I haven't been on "post" yet and I'm not even sure which post I'm on--but this place is strange and beautiful in a quiet and relaxed way. In 24 hours, I haven't seen a single ACU or "soldier." I had never intended to go back to the Army, but this place kicks serious ass compared to Fort Campbell. For starters, there's more than just two hick towns full of Wal-Marts...

Around lunchtime, we drove up Mount Rainier looking for snow, but there wasn't any... we finally turned around and on the way down, it started snowing pretty heavily. Supposed to head into Seattle tomorrow, but it rained and snowed all afternoon and now the roads are black... so, we'll see.

1100, Monday, 14 December: Let's go to Safeco Field and the Space Needle!






1545, Tuesday, 15 December: We're in Oregon. Daytime traffic in Portland and Beaverton sucks. Weather was so rainy, visibility on the freeway was difficult. Couldn't see the taillights of the car in front of me at 75 in the left lane. But we made it safely and are ready for fun!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stoploss Backpay Compensation Update 5

by 13 Stoploss

VetVoice has the goods, via Stars and Stripes, if you were still waiting (of course you are). Apparently this ordeal wasn't funded, and those funds didn't become available until November 19 (incidentally, the end of my own 8-year military service obligation). Of the one-hundred and twenty thousand soldiers and veterans eligible, only 264 will be paid by next week. After that, branches will be submitting applications to DFAS every week, potentially by the thousand.

Richard Smith begs an important question at the end of his note, and it's worth repeating here: if your case manager sent you the email saying your months do not match what is on record, why were we submitting an application if DA already had our records?

My unresearched guess is that top official A at DA had a deadline to meet (October 21) and no funds available. Wouldn't want everything to run smoothly when there are no funds. So, have the soldiers continue on and let things sort themselves out--the soldiers who apply will fuck it all up, and blame will be shifted to them instead of DA. Then, once the money comes, things will naturally unfuck, and some tireless schmuck at DA or DFAS will take credit for giving the soldiers their money. End of story and I have a new 50" Plasma on my wall in January instead of for Christmas. Oh well...

Real Men Fight Two Enemies At A Time

MAIN BOUT - 24/7 ONGOING UNTIL FINISH
U.S.A., HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
vs
TERRORISM IN IRAQ
and
TERRORISM IN AFGHANISTAN
and
OTHER STUFF

Peewee Leagues this Winter/Spring:
SUSPECT, FORMER THIRD TRUMPET, 4TH GRADE
vs
THERAPY A LA V.A.
and
[Winner] VOCATIONAL REHAB vs POST 9/11 GI BILL
and
THE SECOND COLLEGE INVASION

"I think that the first time, our allies let us down, they just weren't able to work fast enough and deliver such a tall order, and we didn't have a SOLID plan. I must admit, we really believed that we'd be able to blitz our way in there. We were overconfident, maybe even arrogant. We never believed that our support channels could be cut off like that. This time around, we're more humble, more aware of the risks and potential pitfalls, hopefully a little wiser, and we're fumigating a strategy. We're gonna hit 'em hard, we're gonna hit 'em fast, and we're going to take care of all the little problems along the way, and we are certainly not going to make any more promises we can't keep. God willing, we're gonna win." -Suspect on the First College Invasion.

When asked to clarify whether he was talking about the Iraq/Afghanistan wars or not, Suspect looked confused and remarked that he wasn't aware "that people watch that game anymore."

When asked to clarify who "we" were, Suspect said, "Me and my big mouth."

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Reading List

by The Usual Suspect

Ladies and gents, I've been reading a book that was passed on to me. It's written by COLONEL Jack Jacobs (Ret.), so you can imagine my skepticism towards an account from the commissioned perspective. Then I noticed that he's a Medal of Honor recipient, and immediately shut my mouth.

It's called "If Not Now, When?" and it's exceeding my expectations. The details, that's where he convinced me that he was for real. He talks about the way that sweat leaves a chalky outline on uniforms, the tendency to stare at the ground instead of ahead of you, watching fat beads of sweat splatter in the dirt. The little things that you don't think to tell people about.

He has a friendly way of storytelling, like you can see him sitting on a porch, sipping lemonade and reminiscing into a dictaphone. It's very humble honesty. I consider this to be the counter-balance to John Leppelman's Blood On The Risers, also a Vietnam memoir. He pulls no punches describing combat, describing it in ways that let you almost see it.

After I finish this one, Travis L. Ayres' "The Bomber Boys" is next. It's about the B-17 bomber crews that flew in World War II.

Give 'em a look, and feel free to pass on recommendations.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Price Of Domestication

by The Usual Suspect

Catching up on emails and reading comments and whatnot. As far as OUR general population? Pfff....

Back in the 'Nam days, your programmed response was to spit.

With our Brave New War, you've learned to support the troops but not the war. Green Day sells millions of albums, thankfully they don't have the ear of anyone who is in control of anything, since only kids are dumb enough to pay the bills for those fucking jackoffs. "Lay down your arms" like it's that simple. HOLY FUCK, BILLY JOE, WE NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT! Live in a fantasy world, but your gayass songs aren't going to save you if you ever find yourself in a situation where the rules don't apply anymore. Which leads me to my focus:

What would YOU do if all systems failed?

You're driving home from the job that you hate, dead fucking tired and unenthused about the interests you used to have, and all the power goes out. Starts off with just traffic accidents, and the authorities do what they can to contain it, but the truth is that you are all animals and I don't care if you'll admit it or not.

Let's suppose, for argument's sake, that the fabric of society came unraveled. The very worst of humanity. Looting, raping, pillaging, stealing, lying, racism. Just give it time, think about the power struggles. You have them with co-workers, just on a tiny, insignificant scale. Now Johnny Law isn't around because Johnny Law is either dead or smart enough to change profession. Regardless, he probably won't be around to save your candy ass when your vegan peacenik coworker is gutting you for the cas in your car.

"Oh no, I would NEVER harm another living being!" says the philosophy major.

"I would," says the morally flexible opportunist. After the murder.

I don't suppose you know how to purify water do you? I'll admit that I don't either. Might be a good thing to find out.

Anyway, these kids? "My" people? Most of 'em, none of this means dick until it applies to them. People aren't going to care on a mass scale until it's right in front of them, and by then, it's too late. War is part of humanity, fellas. Love your dream, John Lennon, but that's all it is. You'll find no truer symbol than the yin-yang. Humans are both "good" and "bad". That's one of the unchanging conditions of this "Life" game.

Don't get me wrong, I hope it never happens. But if one day you walk out your front door to find your whole world on fire, do us all a favor and skip the shock and denial part and go help fortify a fucking hospital, because they'd most likely be the last bastion of humanity and they just aren't big enough to handle the mass casualties that would ensue. "WHAT ABOUT US?!" becomes the warcry of angry mobs. Religious war wouldn't be such an abstract idea, but a reality. Like civilization reshuffling the deck, complete with all the misery and death that comes with it. The victors will call it a revolution. Mass graves, everyone is a missing person to someone, the life you knew was just a dream compared to the way things are now, and uncertainty is a word that you use to describe your every waking moment, instead of that brief feeling you experience when you try to decide what you're going to have for dinner.

Yeah yeah yeah, crazy vet, blah blah. I have no high horse, if this protective bubble goes tits up, I'm just as fucked as the rest of you. Sure, the overwhelming goodness of people will allow for eventual stability, but even in a temporary chaos, a lot can happen.

Now, this way of life is the right of every person, the peaceful, unafraid, Not Building A Panic Room method of living and taking comfort in our system. I just found myself wondering what would happen if the rug was pulled out from underneath us. OH WELL. THAT'LL NEVER HAPPEN TO US.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BOHICA?

by 13 Stoploss

Sergeant So and So of the United States Army called me this morning. He asked how I was, very open-endedly. Seizing the moment to shove that trash back in his face, I told him I was in school and loving it. I could practically see him reading down a list of approved responses when he asked me what I was studying and where. I told him journalism at UC Irvine and that he should look into school himself.

He laughed, and was not controlling the conversation very well. I could tell he was new to this, and was a little timid.

I asked him if he was local. He laughed, said “yeah,” and he asked me if I was having any trouble paying for school.

Seriously?

This dude didn’t even know I was a veteran? I thought he was trying to get me back in, but he was just trying to get me in—like I was some poor student affected by the recent 32% tuition increase to the UC.

I asked him if he’s heard of Chapter 33. You know, the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

“Nah, I haven’t.”

“Ahh, that’s too bad, bro. I get 100% tuition, $1000 a year for books, and E5 BAH with dependents. In Orange and LA County, that’s $2152 per month just to go to school. You should really look into it—it’s a pretty sweet deal. Beats calling punk ass kids on the phone.”

He laughed again and told me to have a nice morning.

But that’s not all. Stupid Kory texted me this morning. He said I should get my disability before they try to recruit me again. I thought he was commenting on my Facebook status, but he was actually just telling me what happened to him last night. Despite moving to Michigan with his girlfriend, Stupid Kory still gets called by California recruiters.

“They were telling me I had to go back. I told them I was 70% [disabled], and they said never mind and hung up on me like stupid bastards.”

What really bothers me about all this is when I interpret this in the context of Obama’s speech last night on Afghanistan. VetVoice raised some pretty good questions about the 30k troop increase, specifically where are they going to come from if there is no simultaneous drawdown in Iraq, a phasing out of stop loss, and an effort to match dwell time to deployment? None of it adds up—just like the health care bill. It’s irresponsible to promise something that doesn’t exist. Any Army people remember having to sit through check writing classes because so many soldiers were bouncing checks?

Uh oh.

Unless there’s a draft, this check is going to bounce. In my old unit, that was an automatic Article 15. Think the President cares about an Article 15?

I’m predicting BOHICA—either to deployed soldiers in the form of 18 month deployments and 9 month dwell time, or to the American public. This means you—Radical Student Union, Muslim Student Union, and other similar spoiled teenage protesters!


PS - Sorry for the remixes. Can't find the real version.