joined on 07/09/05
last updated 12/12/08
Angry American T Shirts
By the Hand
Friends of Gabriel's Landing
Help Me Help Obama
Pennsic Dark Thirty
SCA: Socially Challenged Adults
Society for Creative Anachronism
The Green Fairy
The Vulgar Unicorn
Vlad's Pleasure Pavillions
Yes we have no bananas
This has been eating at me for two weeks so I'm going to get it off my chest.
Many of you may not know this because I don't talk about my family much, but among my maternal family there is a decent sized chunk of land down in Florida that we al...
To Infinity and Beyond!
**Cross-posted from Friends of Gabriels Landing page**
While you were away at the war I was required to choose my next job. I have told this story about three times and I'm writing it down so I don't end up telling it another f...
What makes you Tick?
I don’t Blog much, but I was just asked a great question and had no ready answer. I loved the question so I sat down to think of an answer. It very quickly occurred to me that my answers were really groups or themes. The questio...
Feeding the Machine
There are times in my life when I pause (rare, but it happens) and remind myself that the purpose of life is to LIVE. Lennon elucidates this point when he said "live is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." He shows his Geni...
This has been eating at me for two weeks so I'm going to get it off my chest.
Sat, September 29, 2007 - 11:49 AM
Many of you may not know this because I don't talk about my family much, but among my maternal family there is a decent sized chunk of land down in Florida that we all call the family farm. It technically is a farm, but most of the rest of the world would probably call it a plantation because we grow bananas. Now you have probably never eaten a banana from my family’s farm because those Brazilian bastards who will not be named have cornered the market with an unbelievably cheap product made possible due to a combination of inexpensive land and wildly cheap labor.
Some member of my mom's family has been running the farm for going on four generations, but it gets harder to stay competitive every year. To keep up with the ever changing world market, we have had to become technical experts in order to maximize profits. We basically have done more with less for years. We turn out more product; of a higher quality; on less land; and still barely manage to keep the bank at bay.
Banana's are a $2.3 billion a year market, and of that the Brazilian bastards who will not be named take home about $1.9 billion. So that leaves the rest of us scrapping over what’s left and that's still a lot of money to be had so it's worth a fight. Virtually all US banana growers compete for the "organic" niche market because nobody can compete for the volume low dollar angle. Well, among those US growers producing organic bananas my family is actually really pretty well known.
It didn't get any airtime on CNN but last year they discovered a banana blight affecting most of US growers. The blight is like a wet black fungus that grows at the base of the trees and its killing off whole farms. Now I may not like a lot of the things that our government does, but they are pretty good about taking care of its farmers when they are really hurting.
A Congressional inquiry was started after last years growing season and because he was identified by the guys in the industry, my uncle was asked to be part of the panel. He has been running the farm ever since my Grandfather retired 33 years ago and nobody can touch his experience in the field. He was a pioneer organic grower and helped open that market as a protected entity in this country. He has taken our family farm and kept it not just technically relevant but actually made us one of the most advanced farms in the country. I know that it's his livelihood and he works the job to take care of his immediate family, but it's also our family farm and you can tell it's a labor of love.
The panel conducted a thorough investigation with the help of about a dozen agriculture departments from state universities around the country as well as the giant chemical corporations. Every angle was looked at and studied until it was time to give their report to congress. My uncle Dave was chose from among the panel to be Chairman and it fell on him to deliver the findings before Congress. I am disgusted to say that he was torn to shreds by fat cat politicians whose campaigns are funded by those Brazilian bastards who will not be named. It was heart wrenching to watch him try to stay calm and present his findings that 33 years of experience, and the full backing of every expert in the field, tell him are accurate. In the end, those fucking suit wearing sharks continued to believe what ever argument would put the most money in their coffers.
How dare they attack Petraus' integrity!
**Cross-posted from Friends of Gabriels Landing page**
Mon, September 3, 2007 - 3:54 AM
While you were away at the war I was required to choose my next job. I have told this story about three times and I'm writing it down so I don't end up telling it another five times. I was actually really lucky that a friend of mine cares about his career. He watches the assignments homepage and keeps abreast of the latest changes and reads all the propaganda that they spew forth on regular intervals. So my friend stops by my office to ask if I have seen the list.
For the record, I will start reading US propaganda when they start taking it seriously. Where is the United States Office of War Information (OWI) now?
Well, I told him I didn't even know what he was talking about, and he informs me we have 6 days to choose our next job and the list came out yesterday. I love the Army, I really do. The Army is always changing, it forces you to travel, and it keeps you moving so you never get bored; but like any large organization we have communication issues. So I get the list and start marking out the ones I am not eligible for, and I am left with 65 really crapy assignments to choose from. Now friends, I have a nearly unassailably positive attitude, but this list felt like a kick in the nuts. The vast majority of jobs were guaranteed to bring me back to Iraq within a year, and the others were the sort of spirit-breaking drudgery that would make you want to suck start a pistol. After some deliberation and a lot of cussing, I whittled the list down to the five or six of the least miserable choices. I spent 100 of my allotted 120 hours doing web searches to find out about the jobs I had chosen. When I felt I was ready for a fight, I called my assignments officer. I expected to get his answering machine that would give me the digital age's version of the finger with a message that would politely instruct me to go fornicate myself, but here's the funny thing about being me. I am the luckiest son of a bitch I have ever met. Not only did I not get the machine, my assignments officer turns out to be the guy I replaced here in Iraq. Stan, since we are on first name basis now, tells me "don't worry about the list, why don't we send you to school next?" "Oh," I think to myself, "the school that I would love to attend in Kansas that currently shows no vacancies?" I sat there trying to be angry at an unfair system that is currently working in my favor, and failing miserably. It took another minute of chatting and pleasantries, and my future was set for the next 18 months.
So my future schedule with notes follows:
?? NOV 2007: Return to Fort Drum, and commence partying with friends and family
15 DEC 07 - 13 JAN 08: Block leave, uncertain of the activities schedule but the front runners are Divorce court in Florida, or Diving in the Truk islands of Micronesia.
14 JAN 08 - ?? JUN 08: Serve as Brigade S4 (supply officer), complete training for my Hang Gliding level II certification
JUN 08 – JUL/AUG 09: ILE (Intermediate Leaders Course) Fort Leavenworth Kansas, complete my Masters of Logistics Management (yes that is as exciting as is sounds)
JUL 2009 - JUL 2012: Probably be asked to serve over seas, I have my eye on a job in Wiesbaden Germany. I would be the fuel manager for all of Europe. It's a quiet job in a resort town, and I can go see Europe on Uncle Sammy's dime.
JUL 2012- AUG 2014: Cubicle Monkey, HMFIC Poo Flinging Division.
AUG 14: RETIRE; bring on the back tar heroin and Thai Whores
Well, that's my update in a nutshell. It's funny to think that I wasn't on the phone for more than 10 minutes and I mapped out the rest of my career. Now I guess I should give some thought to what I want to do when I grow up. I can’t wait to see you all when I get home.
Take care; be well.
Yours in Service,
Fri, July 20, 2007 - 12:56 PM
I don’t Blog much, but I was just asked a great question and had no ready answer. I loved the question so I sat down to think of an answer. It very quickly occurred to me that my answers were really groups or themes. The question and answers follow:
What are your top 15 absolute favorite parts of life? The experiences and sensations that make you want to get up in the morning and do it all again.
I don't know that I have ever made that list. Let's see; in no particular order my favorite things are: (Theme/Explanation/List)
Exploring: Probably my number one favorite thing, but it takes many forms in my life, from hunting the quiet stacks of out of print book stores; to driving the back roads of sleepy towns where America can be found; or hiking to remote destinations that only a few will ever see. Nothing puts me more in the moment than the sensation of something new. If I were forced to define what adventure means to me, it would include the concept of exploring. They say that the difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. Exploring helps me out of my rut and keeps me alive.
- Road Trips across country
- Hiking seldom visited wilds
- Looking for lost treasure
- Harvest Festivals
- Motorcycle rides on roads that really go places
Flying: My favorite dreams have always been about flying. I can vividly remember the sensation of flight when I wake up and it feels like freedom. I don't know if I can explain it any better than that. I suspect that if that doesn't make intuitive sense to you, then it can't be explained. Most of my more extreme hobbies stem from my desire to fly. The Army taught me how to repel off of cliffs, and while that is exciting, it's certainly not flying no mater how fast you go. I became a Paratrooper in hopes that jumping out of an airplane would be like flying. In retrospect that was a really bad idea. The vast majority of Paratroopers jump static line parachutes, where a cord attached to the airplane pulls your chute open when you get out of the plane. Again, that's exciting but not flying. I tried Free Fall Parachuting to see if that was any better than skydiving with the Army. It was much better, but still nowhere near what I was looking for. My most recent failure to experience flight was flying a glider plane on the North Shore of Hawaii. That was almost there, but the canopy separated you from the experience. The only things I have found that are close to my idea of flying are SCUBA diving and Hang gliding. SCUBA you can hover over things and examine the underwater world from any angle at will and at your leisure. I am still learning to hang glide, but it's fantastic, and every flight I feel "it" if only for a moment.
- SCUBA diving
- Hang gliding
Connecting: Humans are funny creatures. We will love, hate, swindle, belittle, bolster, encourage, kill, murder, maim, backtalk, backstab, devalue, discourage, cheat, lie, steal, teach, tease, notice, need, like, learn, validate, underestimate, touch, tempt, ogle, berate, interact, invite, fondle, scheme, undercut, outmaneuver, play, tickle, tease each other/ with each other but we rarely ever connect. It seems that most of the time we are moving through life and it’s this motion that prevents us from stopping and connecting with each other. It takes time. The less distractions there are the better your chances are of really connecting with someone. I could go into a tirade detailing the biggest obstacle to connecting but it would take pages to talk about our emotional armor or shields or walls or baggage or pick your own metaphor. That distance that surrounds us that we feel we need to keep from being hurt… again. The truth is that if you have no experience with those obstacles, you probably will as soon as you meet another human. Some of my favorite experiences are the ones that make you stop for a moment, distract you just a bit, and frequently allow you the chance to connect.
- Sharing drinks: alcohol, coffee, tea, hell even water
- Smoking great cigars
- Cooking (together)
- Passionate Debate
Amazement: Adult life jades you to otherwise extraordinary experiences. It seems to me that the function of "adult life" is to make you forget how great it was to be a kid, and I say "FUCK THAT!" I love the saying, "you have to grow old; you don't have to grow up." Many of my favorite experiences center around embracing a child-like sense of wonder and amazement; I catch myself being an adult from time to time. I went to see Penn and Teller perform their magic act in Vegas. During the show, I saw a trick that I absolutely could not figure out. I found myself being an adult trying to work it out. It was a close one, but I quickly caught myself at it and repeated this useful mantra; "ITS MAJIC YOU ASSHOLE." After I remember that the last thing I want is a world where there is no magic, I relaxed and really enjoyed the show. The other affect of "Adult Life" it to make you value the wrong things. I fear that there will come a day when I get caught in a summer rain storm and I worry about what I have in my pockets that can't get wet instead of enjoying the warm rain. Fortunately, it hasn't happened yet. Take pleasure in the little things. Finally, though the experiences are rare, I try to remember that the world is not only made up of the things that I can measure and see. Under the right conditions, you can catch a glimpse of things that don't fit and can't be measured, and that is amazing.
- Walking in the rain
I love that question. If you explain your answers, you get a pretty good glimpse into what makes a person tick. I’m glad I took the time to make this list.
Yours in Service,
There are times in my life when I pause (rare, but it happens) and remind myself that the purpose of life is to LIVE. Lennon elucidates this point when he said "live is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." He shows his Genius in one short line, because I think for the vast majority of carbon based life forms on this little planet, that is exactly how the process works. If you fail to take an active role, then life sort of happens to you.
Sat, October 1, 2005 - 10:32 AM
I think everyone want's to lead an extrodinary life. The problem is that we allow obstructions to distract us from that goal. Maybe you are afraid of the unknown, or you fear the repricussions of your actions. If its not fear thats holding you back, maybe you are stuck feeding the machine. Live has costs associated with it; there are bills that must be paid just to live. We work at some endeavor in order to cover those costs, and with hopes that if there is anything left over, we will use those gains to LIVE. All to often, we forget the purpose of work, and we loose sight of our goal.
The problem I have run into time and again is striking the ballance between work and life. During this introspective pause, I shall endeavor to Plan a LIFE.
Pyrogasm, here I come!
Yours in Service,
February 11, 2008
you are one of the reasons I have not given up hope on men as a subset of the human race, which is saying something as a gay man with a dim view of men in general. You constantly challenge me to think in new ways. You have the most ready and infectious smile, an ever curious mind ( which for me actually outclasses your devilish good looks for charm factor) and the ultimate kicker, a truly kind heart. If more men, screw that more humans embraced the approach to life and the treatment of one's fellow man that you come at life with the world would be a far better place. I feel lucky to know you, luckier to get to hoist a glass with you from time to time, and most blessed for the time we get to talk!
January 13, 2006
i raise my mini drinking horn heartily to gabriel, one of the most wildly spontaneous people i know! we've done some phenomenal partying together--some of my best war memories are because of him! don't get me wrong, though. as exciting and fun-generating as he is, he's always, always been a perfect gentleman to me, the type of guy who'll walk you back to your camp to make sure you got there okay, and THAT'S IT.
here's to you, gabriel, and many more "no shit, there i was" stories!!!
(nekkid rain fairy)
September 15, 2005
This Brilliant, Generous, S.O.B. has allowed me to have some of the best fun and war experiences ever.
Truly one of my favorite people.
and as a result of having to assist with cigar maintenance, I've actually developed a taste for the horrid things!
August 1, 2005
What can I say he has taught me a hell of a lot and he is the commander and cheif. Sometime ya want to kill him other time you just have to raise a pint to him. But when we get toghter the booze just seems to flow and peeps just seem to start to fall down. My the pints never be empty and the wiskey alway be top shelf.
July 10, 2005
I love you man!