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"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us." ~ Oscar Wilde  

Monday, 27 December, 2010: A Change of Plans

Thought we only got a dusting of snow, everywhere around us got 6 inches or more.  Elise left to meet up with Will in Williamsburg and got caught in 10-mph traffic on I-64.  She made it to his place but saw at least one person off the side of the road.  Everything south of here, from Salem to Bristol Tennessee, is covered up and Sherri and John are snowed in in Hampton.  So that Sherri can make the trip with me, and so that I don't have to drive Bess through the salt, I've decided to leave the 29th.  The weather also keeps Bill and Sylvia here another day, which I'll enjoy.

 I got up this morning with plenty of time on my hands, so I checked with Courtney to see if she was making coffee at the Lexington Coffee Shop, and walked down-town to join her for a coffee.  I got there just before opening time and from the entire time I was there, they only had two customers.  She was able to sit with me and we had a good talk.

My walk back to Barracks to put up the Colors was a brisk one, but I was prepared.  I wore my pajama bottoms under my jeans, my thick Auburn hoodie, and my big Columbia jacket.  The wind was behind me, so I didn't realize how cold the wind-chill was until I started back to the house and the wind was in my face.  It was COLD out there.

 I rearranged my War Room yesterday.  Kim and I had a good laugh about our role-reversal...she being downstairs watching football, and me upstairs arranging furniture.  I needed to get it done; I hated the way it was set up before and now I can look out the window while I'm at my computer and there is no glare on my screens.

I think I will still pack for my trip today.


Sunday, 26 December, 2010: Christmas in Lexington

I began Christmas morning by putting up the National and State Colors over VMI.  There was a light snow falling, and it wasn't too cold.  It was absolutely still and quiet out.  There are so many times when I realize how graced I am to be living and working here; this was one of them.

By the time I got home, the baby of the family (Elise, not Jake) was up ready to open presents.  I love how Christmas morning is still all about her, and she drives the train and her "time table."  We opened a few and then waited on Jay, Barbara, and Jake to show up.  My kids gave me Music and Ancient History--how well they know me.

Kim made a great dinner for us all, and by the time we sat down, Kelly had arrived.  She brought me one of her amazing apple pies.

Jake was the center of the attention.  I do not understand how one three-and-a-half-year-old kid can occupy the time of eight adults, but he does.  He flies around the house at top speed, all the time, moving from one activity or toy to another.  It's always hard to get him to slow down long enough to talk to him, get him to eat, or get him to take his nap.

At the end of the day I took a little time to myself and used some of my iTunes credit that Elise bought me.  I bought Bruce's newest album, The album, old music from the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions.  I love it already.  These are songs about Cars, Girls, and Growing Up.  I've been listening ever since I got it.

I finally got off my ass and called my cousin Sherri to talk to her about Mom.  Sherri is the daughter of my Mom's brother James Russell Lee.  Her mom died when she was young, and then her dad, both from brain cancer.  Sherri has had a rough life, but is now married to a great guy and they live here in Virginia.  There is a chance she may make the trip to Alabama with me on the 28th; I'm waiting for her to call me back on that.

We got snow again last night.  So did most of the South.  Bill and Sylvia have delayed their trip home for a while, so we get a few more days with them.


Monday, 20 December, 2010: The Search for Carrie

Today is my last day of work.  I’ll be clearing rooms with cadets and taking care of some of the mess they left using the guys out front marching PTs.  I should be out of here by 1800hrs after I take down the flags.

Bill and Sylvia got here this morning.  They drove all the way to Wytheville last night, which leaves only a couple of hours of driving for them this morning.  We all met at Wendy's for lunch.  This promises to be a much happier Christmas for us all: Jake Man will be around a lot, Jonathon and Kelly are now “dating,” Elise and Will have gotten back together, and Kim seems more relaxed by the day now that this has all sorted itself out.

I just got home from clearing Barracks and locking it up.  My last duty of the day was taking down the flags.  My house was full by the time I got there.  Love It!

I’ve been spending most of my time on the search for ancestors.  This has always been a hobby of mine, but I am working harder on it lately.  My main objective is to find John Clayton Neel because he is where my branch of the Neel family ends.  Here’s the story—

Family oral history says that John came from North Carolina, settled in Noxubee County Mississippi, married a girl named Caroline (Carrie) Lagrone, had two children by her, Nicholas (my Great-Great-Grandfather) and Mollie.  John joined the Confederate forces, and was killed at Shiloh, decapitated by a cannonball.  Caroline Lagrone Neel re-married a fellow named James Franklin (Frank) Lindley after the war.

Trying to confirm this, I began my search a few years ago and the internet has been very helpful.  Here is what I have found—

  • Marriage records of John and Carrie and Frank and Carrie; the dates match up—before the war (17DEC1851) and after the war (29JUN1865).

  • Census records showing Carrie living in her father’s house (1860) with Nick and Mollie and, later, in Frank Lindley’s house with both kids and children by him (1870).  The former is problematic.  Why is Carrie living in her father’s house in late 1860?  Where is John at this time.  This census would have been done before the succession of Alabama or Mississippi, so he shouldn’t be away drilling

  • An obituary for Caroline from the 1910 Macon (MS) Beacon saying she died of pneumonia  in Macon,  “Buried Salem” and survived by her husband Frank, son Nicholas Neel of Binnsville, daughter Mollie Brown of Wahalak, and son Charles E. Lindley.

  • Census records showing Frank living with son Charles E. Lindley in 1910.

  • A list of people buried in Mohegan Cemetery, in Noxubee County listing Frank and two infant daughters by Caroline and Effie E. Neel, daughter of Nicholas and Georgia Ann.

  • A Census report showing Mollie Brown living in Wahalak Mississippi.

If I make a few grounded assumptions, then Carrie/Caroline Lagrone Neel Lindley is buried in a “Salem” somewhere in Noxubee County Mississippi, or at least close by.  Doing what I think is a pretty thorough review of all the “Salem” references in Mississippi, I have a number of possibilities, but only two that seem probable: Salem Methodist Church Cemetery, about 3 miles west of Macon and Salem Baptist Church Cemetery south of I20, close to Binnsville (where her son Nick lived in 1910) and Wahalak (where her daughter Mollie lived in 1910).

So, here is my plan—

On 2 January, on my way to pick up Patti at Jackson airport, I’ll stop by the Baptist cemetery and have a look around.  On the 3rd, I’ll hit the Methodist cemetery, try to find Mohegan cemetery, and visit the cemeteries in Wahalak.  I’m reading up on the battle of Shiloh right now so that, if I have the time, I’ll visit that battlefield on the way home to Lex.

Stories and Photos to follow…


Monday, 13 December 2010: Getting Ready for Christmas Furlough

Kim is away in Florida again, which gave me a weekend to do whatever I wanted.  I watched a few bad movies and worked out, but mostly I spent time looking for some info I found on my Great-great-grandmother, Caroline Lagrone Neel Lindley. This is the wife of John Clayton Neel who was killed at Shiloh, mother of Nicholas Neel, my great grandfather.  A while back, I found her obituary from 1910 online, filed it somewhere, and lost it.  It took most of the day on Sunday searching, but I found that I had filed it on

The obituary, from the Macon Beacon says:

1 Apr. 1910 - Mrs. Carrie Lagrone Lindley, 77, died at Macon of pneumonia Mar. 29. Dau. of William Lagrone. Mar. (1) John Neal and (2) J.F. Lindley. Buried Salem. Surv. by husb., and children - Nick Neal of Binnsville, Ala. Mrs. Mollie Brown of Wahalak and Charles Lindley.

Being a Neel, I'm pretty miffed they can't spell in Macon, but "Buried Salem" was what really caught my eye.  I've always wanted to go see if I could find her grave.  I knew she wasn't buried with her second husband or Mollie; they are buried in Mohegan which I think I have directions.  There is a small town or crossroads called Salem, not far from Macon, with a "Salem Baptist Church" and maps show a big cemetery there.  I have already decided this is the place, so I'm going.  I'll also go see if I can find Mohegan Cemetery.  I need a good map.

So..I have a cunning plan.  We get out of school on 17DEC and begin Furlough.  Bill and Sil will be here shortly after that.  We'll do Christmas here, but the day after, maybe the 27th, I'm going to Birmingham to see Mom for her Birthday.  On 3JAN, I'm going to see an old high school friend, Patti, in Jackson Mississippi, stay the evening at her place, and then going on my hunt for Carrie on the 4th.  Depending on how that goes, I may swing through Shiloh and spend some time touring the battlefield, or I may go back to Birmingham before heading home.

I've got a lot to look forward to for the holidays--Christmas, Bill and Sil visiting (no snow please), driving Bess all over the south (give me good weather), visiting with Mom (and singing happy birthday), seeing Patti (who is as beautiful as ever), and doing what I do best, Reconnaissance (Scouts Out)!  I always had a knack for finding the bad guys, so let's hope I can find ancestors as well.  It's really all about Map Reading.

Wednesday, 8 December, 2010: Anniversary and New Beginning

To celebrate my wedding anniversary, I wrote this as a note on Face Book.  It seemed well received, so I thought I’d post it here.

by John Neel on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 7:14pm

I met Kim in church, and though she was 9 years younger, we were soon spending every day together.  Even when I went back in the Army and back to Ft. Bragg, she followed, and stayed with her Aunt and Uncle in Raleigh.  I gave her my car to drive so she could pick me up every Friday after work.  We put a lot of miles on that Camaro. 

Though I usually joke that "she proposed," it was the other way around.  I proposed, and she accepted. There.  It is now public record. 

There were a lot of reasons for the way we decided to do the wedding.  Her dad had lost most everything he had in the Real Estate Collapse the previous year and could not afford a big wedding.  I was a young buck sergeant, struggling financially from the aftermath of divorce.  Our pastor back home, restricted by his own dogma, had "reservations" about just about everything and would not perform the service.  Even my friends back home held an "intervention" for me asking me what the heck I was thinking.  My parents loved Kim but voiced their concerns about it being "too soon after the divirce."  About the only people who seemed on our side were Kim's folks, who supported us the whole way, and my Army buddies who told me I had better NOT let this girl get away. 

Kim and I knew we were playing the odds...young, poor, age difference, divorced, mer-mer-mer...But we knew it was right.   We decided on a brief ceremony at Bragg.

I reserved Division Main Chapel, invited two of my biddies, and asked the 2/505 Chaplain to do the service.  Kim and I wrote our own vows, briefed the Chap on the service, and chose 6 December because it was her mother and father's anniversary.  We also wanted to get it done before the New Year and because 1982, "The Year of The 82nd," was going to be a busy year for the Division. 

On the day of the wedding, Brett Niles, Mitchell Pigg, Kim and I waited for the Chaplain.  He arrived, not in his greens, but in what looked like a shiny brown, double-knit, leisure suit, sporting a huge wooden cross.  "What the Hell are you Wearing Chap," I asked.  He explained that he had been preaching across town and that it ran "a little long."  He didn't have time to change. 

We continued with our little ceremony (drove on with the Airborne Mission), the battalion chaplain in his shiny brown John Travolta suit, Mitch wisecracking with Kim on the first pew, Brett circling around us acting as photographer, Kim looking as beautiful as always, and me trying to maintain some sense of seriousness befitting the occasion.  Once done, and the bride kissed, the chap signed the paperwork, Mitch climbed in his F150 and left for home, and Kim, Brett, and I went for Pizza. 

Twenty-nine years later, we're still together, still best friends, still in love, and still thumbing our noses at those who had their doubts. 

Perhaps this is the way everyone should get married.


I wrote this to a dear friend and confidant.  This is my thinking on meeting my daughter, Leah*, for the first time since she was a little thing, my current thinking after mulling it all over for two weeks.  It has taken me that long to get my mind around it all.  Thanks to Jonathon for putting most of it together, Elise for understanding, Kim for supporting everyone, and Leah for being so brave!

John Neel December 7 at 11:50pm

Dear Patti,

I guess it is about time I told you how seeing my daughter went. It went well.

She, her husband, Brad, and her son, Kort (my biological grandson), were to arrive from Atlanta at 5:30pm. Jonathon, who set this whole thing up, Kim, and Elise went out shopping and were due back at 5. I believe he and Leah had talked and he was to meet her outside and bring her in....helping her feel more comfortable.

Well, I saw movement out the front window about 4:30, stood up, thinking I'd see Jonathon, Elise, and Kim coming in, and was face to face with Leah. We both froze for a moment, but recovered and I hurried to the door to let them in.

I introduced (re-introduced) her to Uncle Jim, and to his wife Lynn, and her cousin Colin. Then I took her over to Mom, who knew instantly who she was...which, I'm sure was a relief for everyone. 

As they all talked, I, most hurriedly, sent Jonathon a text telling him to get his arse back to the house ASAP!!!!! They had both forgotten about the time change between Atlanta and Birmingham.

As Leah worked the room and everyone oohed and aahed over her and her family, I pulled back to the "wall flowers" and watched. She was so self-assured, lovely, friendly, and well-spoken; she looked like me and she looked like her mom.

I, on the other hand, didn't know what to do. I didn't know what she thought of me, what she expected of me, or even what she wanted, if anything, of me. I was awkward, bumbling, uncomfortable, and probably came off as disinterested. I shook her hand, for Pete's sake, when I wanted to hug her neck and never let go. I knew I had to also be aware of Elise's feelings.

I think Elise and Kim were more uncomfortable than I and they really made no attempts to really talk to Leah...and left after an acceptable amount of time. That left her family, Jonathon, and me there and I sat back and let Jonathon and Leah talk. It looks like they are already very good friends.

At the end of the evening, I, again, shook her hand and told her I was happy to see her. She gave me a look that I didn't understand and said, "Thank you." Then I walked them to the door.

I suffered through the trip home the next day and over-thought what had happened. I decided that I needed to make my own contact and sent her a quick message on fb. Amazing to me, she wrote back, almost immediately, a very nice note that put me at ease and gave me real hope for the future. She also wrote Elise.

Now I think I just need to give it some time and give Elise and Leah some time to get to know each other. I must tread lightly, I think.


Tuesday, 30 November, 2010: Thanksgiving in Alabama

We got home from Alabama last night after spending eleven grueling hours on the road.  The “safety corridor “ around Salem Virginia did nothing for safety, but effectively clogged up Interstate 81 for thirty miles.  Our average speed for those thirty miles was ten miles-per-hour.  I had it comparatively easy; Jonathon and Kim had Jake in the back seat.

Jay and I got away last Wednesday about 1200hrs and made it into Birmingham by 2000hrs, Central Time.  Jake did great but got very tired of sitting in his baby seat.  I felt bad for the little guy.  Kim had a bed made for him by the time we got there.  Elise got away late, so she was after midnight arriving at Bill and Sil’s place.

Thanksgiving was nice.  Jim came over early and put the Turkey in the oven, then helped me play with Jake in the front yard.  The name of the game was sword fighting, and I cut two “swords” from the bamboo behind mom’s house for Jake and I.  The boy is ferocious and we had to tape up his “sword” because he kept cracking it hitting mine.  We played a little ball and I got to show Jim Jake’s hitting skills.  We agreed these must come from his Dennis heritage; Neels can’t hit.

Elise and Kim came over early as well and started getting the place ready for the meal.  Elise and I drove over to pick up Sil and bring over the sides and ham that she and Kim had prepped.  Bill, Lynn and Colin all arrived just before 1400hrs.  The meal was fantastic, but the food and the quiet, and the trip had the best of me, so I went to bed about 1800hrs while the kids and Kim played board games…Sorry, I think.

Friday was mostly quiet.  Jonathon’s friend Julie came to visit from Ft. Benning.  We had Milo Burgers for lunch, and settled in for the Iron Bowl.  Great game, but I'll have to admit I was pretty blown away by the first half.  I knew we were a second half team, but I didn't think we could recover fro down twenty-four pints.  The team did a great job.  That night we had a rousing game of Drunken Uno.  I wasn’t drinking, nor was Julie,  but Jay and Elise were having a few, and Kim was getting lit on Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  I don’t think she knew she was getting drunk, which made it all the more funny.

Saturday we called in an order from Mellow Mushroom and had Elise pick it up while she was out shopping.   Mom really liked her BLT and it was good to see her eat something.  My sandwich, the Jerk Chicken, was great!  I sure wish they had one of those close to Lexington.

Saturday Evening, Leah, her Husband Doug, and her son Kort came to visit. Leah has stayed in touch with my mom, and Jonathon and Elise found her on Face Book.  Jonathon invited her to come see mom while we were there.  It went well.


 Saturday, 20 November, 2010: Days Off

Today is the second anniversary of Lynne's passing.  It hits me hard every year.  I think I'm visiting Jacksonville when I'm home.

The day has been quiet and I've gotten a lot done.  Kim left for Birmingham yesterday, in Bess, so I've had the house to myself and not much else to do but clean my room and watch movies. 

This weekend is Ring Figure at the school...where the Seconds get their ring and use that as an excuse for an all-weekend drink- fest.  I have to work tonight and tomorrow night down at the hotel where the Cadets have all rented rooms.  Some legal genius has decided that the school is responsible for anything that might happen there, since we know about it, and if we don't take prudent steps to mitigate risks.  I'm guessing that next I'll have to go home with them on Furlough.  My duties tonight will be the last step before the Police get called.  Will I get paid more for this?  Not likely.  When asked if I'd do it I balked at first, but I guess there really isn't anyone better than the four of us asked to go out there.  Anyway, tomorrow's post should be interesting.

Last weekend and the weekend before that, I took the trap and skeet team for competitions.  The first was to VT.  The weather was pretty chilly there, but the sun was shining, so it turned out to be pretty nice weather in which to shoot.  We knew we were shooting pretty well, but couldn't judge how the other teams (6) were shooting.  We found out on Sunday morning that we had won the sporting clays.  One of our guys shot third in Skeet on Saturday as well.  By the end of the day Sunday, we had taken second in skeet and third in trap, and second over all.

 The second shoot was at the University of Kentucky.  I'm not sure how we shot there, but the posted scores looked good.  It's tough shooting against a good Kentucky team on their home course.


Thursday, 4 November, 2010: We're Number Two!  We're Number Two!

Auburn was announced as #2 in the BCS Sunday night.  I'm OK with that.  Number 2 sounds a lot less dangerous then "Number One."

Jonathon and I started the new and last season of Friday Night Lights last night at his house.  He has direct TV which shows it without commercials.  It was so much fun.  I'm going to really miss this I miss Lost.  Hopefully Barbara will be able to join us for the rest of the season.

Kim left in Bess this morning for Ft. Bragg.  I wish Icould have gone, but I'm taking the Trap and Skeet Team to a competition at Virginia Tech this weekend.  We leave Saturday morning about 0630hrs and shoot both Saturday and Sunday.  We go to Lexington Kentucky next weekend for the UKY shoot.

Last weekend was open fro me.  All I did was watch the Auburn Ole Miss game and then drive my car on the parkway.  I ended up in Waynesboro.  It was a great drive.


Monday, 25 October, 2010*~ America's Team, The #1 Auburn Tigers

Auburn is 8-0.  Last night we looked like the #1 team in the nation beating an amazingly talented and undefeated LSU team. 

This is my first full weekend off in a while and I'm enjoying it.  Kimber came in to go shopping with Kim and stayed the night Friday night.  She left a little after lunch yesterday and we settled in for the game.  Jonathon and Jake came over at halftime and watched the rest of the game with us.

It was a very good game and LSU gave Auburn a tough time, but the Tigers pulled away in the end.  Happily it wasn't a heart stopper like the games against Clemson, South Carolina, and Arkansas.  I was pretty confident throughout.

I was highly surprised the next day when we watched the ESPN BCS ranking show.  We had just returned from Jonathon's house, watching the Pats game and playing with Jake.  I half expected us to be number three, perhaps jumping Boise State because they were idle this past weekend.  There was no way I thought we'd jump ahead of Oregon, who I consider the team to beat this year, but there we were: #1 in the Nation.

Auburn fans are always cautious.  We have a long way to go and tough games to win before we'll ever consider ourselves #1.  We know we have four more SEC games to win and please don't let us take even Chattanooga for granted.  Ole Miss and Georgia may be struggling this year, but they are still good SEC Teams.  Then there is the Iron Bowl.  No one ever knows how that will turn out.  If we win the next four, then we have to play the SEC East champion, and right now that looks like South Carolina, who almost beat us and who did beat Alabama.

Then, if all that happens, we'll have to go play Oregon...because no one, I'm thinking, is going to beat the Ducks.

One game at a time.


Friday, 15 October, 2010*: Getting Ready for the Weekend

This has been a very busy week in Barracks with two random urinalysis tests, meetings, PTTs, a formal room inspection, trap and skeet shooting, a parade, and tomorrow night I have OC.  This weekend is Parent's Weekend so Saturday we'll host an Barracks Open House, parade, tailgating, the March Down, and the football game vs. Liberty.  Luke and Dianna, friends from the ODC, will be coming in Saturday and staying the night.  I've warned them about the Auburn Game being on TV so they would be prepared.

I am working on my site again.  Now that the new computer is up to full capability, thanks to the addition of Photoshop and Expression Web 4, I can do all the things I want to do with it.  I've added a few photos to the photography page and to the family page.  Next I'll write the words.

Still having some nagging problems with the computer.  I tried to uninstall McAfee, which kept giving me a prompt to go buy their product, and when I did I got a blue screen.  I had sandy come up and look and he went to a recovery point and fixed it, then tried uninstall and got the same thing.  Basically McAfee has a trigger to screw up my computer if I try to uninstall their program.  Sandy is smart, though, and figured out how to just shutdown the program.  Next I need to figure out how to sync my phone, but that looks like I'll need to dump Office 2010 and go back to Office 2007.  Everyone seems to be having Windows Mobile 6 to Outlook 2010 problems.


Sunday, 10 October, 2010: A Four-day Weekend

I left work early Friday morning , after conducting a random urinalysis test, and drove to Charleston.  The reason for the trip was to see DJ's graduation from Marine boot camp a Parris Island, but I took the opportunity to visit Catherine while I was in South Carolina.  The trip was going well, and I was well ahead of schedule, until I got the I26 just past Charlotte.  Traffic was backed up three miles or so because of a two truck accident in the west bound lanes.  There was no obstruction on my side, but the people gawking brought us to a standstill as well.  The other side was backed up for about twenty miles.


I got to Cate's house about 1630.  We visited for a while and then went to Wasabi off State Street for sushi. The sushi was delicious.  After dinner we walked along Market Street while Cate played tour guide, and then walked down to the bay and the French Quarter.  Once it was too dark for photos, Cate drove us to The Citadel, her graduate school, and showed me around.  It looked like a crazy place...I felt at home.  We were back at her apartment in time for Big Bang Theory, Stuff my Dad Says, and Grey's, after which I called it a night.

I love the Charleston.  I need to go back and take Kim.  She'd love the shops and the architecture.   I know I'd love the restaurants. It really reminds me of Savannah, and Kim and I love Savannah.

I got up at 0500hrs and was on my way to Parris Island by 0530, hoping to make it in time for the flag raising ceremony at 0730hrs.  I didn't make it. Map Quest had me driving over to the other side of the Beaufort River to, appropriately named, Land's End.  Once I figured it out, I had to back track about twenty miles, stop and ask for directions, and got to Parris Island and the parade "deck" with only thirty minutes to spare.  Thanks Map Quest.

The graduation ceremony was a typical parade sequence with a short speech by the battalion commander congratulating the new Marines.  The whole thing was filled with Marine Corps propaganda and by the time I left Parris Island, I was pretty done with the Marines.  At the end of the ceremony, somehow Jon and Carrie, two VMI grads and friends of DJ found me in the crowd.  We all linked up with DJ, her mom, and her sister out on the parade deck and then went to the MX (I guess that stands for Marine Exchange) and then to chow at Ruby Tuesdays.

I was back on the road by 1430 and got to Lexington by 2230hrs.

Sandy came up from Florida with a trailer and took away the Miata.  I want to throw a "go away party" for that car.  In retrospect, we should have kept the MR2 because the Miata has been a money pit.  Bye!

Football in 505-World has been interesting.  Last weekend everybody won.  VMI pulled out a tough game against Presbyterian and Auburn beat up on Louisiana Monroe.  This week SC beat Alabama, Auburn came back in the last few seconds beating a tough Kentucky team by a field goal, and VMI was soundly beaten by Stony Brook.  Next week is Parent's Weekend here and we're playing Liberty.  That's never a good thing.  AU will be playing Arkansas...which I think will be Auburn's first real test.  I may just hide out until Sunday and record everything.

This past week the Center for Leadership and Ethics hosted our Leadership Conference, which we were all encouraged to attend.  I spent Monday afternoon sitting in on talks about cheating and honor, and about the use of un-manned aircraft.  Both were very good, but the best one was the talk on Cheating and Honor.  It struck me that America has no core values like the Army and the other services.  I'm going to have to write about that, maybe even write the President...which would be a first.


Wednesday, 29 September, 2010: The Rotisserie

This past weekend we took the entire Corps to Charlottesville for the VMI vs. University of Virginia game.  A miserable time was had by all. We began the day about 9 with a formation, then loaded twenty busses for the trip to Charlottesville.  On arrival, we formed up in an open field usually used by their band and then marched to the football field.  I had seen the seats we were to occupy on a schematic, but it picture didn't fit the reality.  We were in the top south east corner of the upper deck, on what L-Train called the "Rotisserie."  It was the perfect descriptor for the 90+ degree heat and the cloudless sky that scorched us for three hours, while our team got the stuffing beaten out of them by a team we should never have been playing.  The heat was so intense that the polish on my shoes melted.  Thanks goodness Jay brought sunscreen. 

The best parts of the day were spending time with Jay and his war buddy Toby, in from Texas, and with Kimber and Courtney, who sat with me during the game.  That night I watched the Auburn vs. South Carolina Game by myself, but it was a great game and a better way to finish of an otherwise sorry day.

Last Wednesday my new computer arrived by FedEx.  Kim bought me a Dell Studio XPS with Windows 7 and it is pretty amazing.  I had her get a dual video card and two 21" monitors to go with it, and that is fun.  Like any time you get a new computer, especially with a new operating system, I'm having a few peripheral problems.  Right now my phone won't up-date with Outlook, and I can't "see" our Cannon printer, but everything else seems to be doing fine.  I still need to get Photoshop and a web design tool, but that'll come soon.

Sunday morning, I played on the computer until Barbara and Jake came over.  Barbara had to get back to school, Jay was in DC with Toby, and Kim was in Fayetteville with Elise, so that gave me time alone with my grandson. Sadly, it was raining all day so we couldn't play outside, but we made do with Wrestling, inside games like Hockey, The Goonies and The Sandlot movies.  We also had fun building houses for "the man" out of his Duplo blocks.  My best Jake Story for the day came when I was cooking up some Scrambled Egg Surprise for dinner.  I left Jake watching a movie.  When I came back into the living room, he had a fist full of suckers he had, very quietly, taken from the sucker jar on the Dining Room table.

 He never eats well for me, but I found out that he loves Peanut Butter on a spoon and will eat as much popcorn as I can feed him.  It must have filled him up; he slept-in till 0630hrs the next morning.

My shows, Grey's, Dexter and Big Bang, are back on and I'm looking forward to them. I've begin watching three new shows, The Event, The Defenders, and Rubicon...and all are great so far.  Watch though.  Anytime I start a new show, and like it, it usually doesn't last long.


Saturday, 18 September, 2010: A Wedding in Yankee Country

Kim and I are heading to Pittsburgh this weekend for Brian and Cara's wedding.  It promises to be a good time and well done, if I know Cara.  We'll drive up today, watch the Auburn game tonight, play around in Pittsburg tomorrow morning, attend the wedding and reception tomorrow evening, and then drive back on Monday morning.

Jake and Jay joined us for Parade and supper last night.  Kim took some great photos of us together.  She has such a wonderful eye.  I really need to take more of Kim and Jake together.  He loves her best.  Here are three of my favorites below.

 I went to BV last night for the cruise-in held there by Klassic Kar Nutz.  It was pretty good, with lots of fun cars, mostly hot rods, but there were some nice Mustang, some Vettes, and a few other nice 1960-70 cars.  There was a little bar there with outside seating and live music.  The club was holding some kind of raffle, but I didn't pay much attention to that, I was too engrossed with the cars.  One guy was showing me his car and I complimented his paintjob, but was thinking, "man, it don't like the top on this car."  He thanked me and asked, "I made the top; how do you like it?"  "Cool," I said.  I think my favorite of the night was a 1968 Buick GS.  Beautiful Car.

Sorry, no photos.  It was way too dark by the time I got there.


Monday 13 September, 2010:  Learning New Stuff

Kim just ordered me a new Computer.  We'll call it John 3.0.  It is going to be a huge step up giving me a lot more storage for photos and probably a gazillion times faster.  My Dell 8400 has seen it's finer days and is getting slower by the day.  Applications are getting larger, it has nagging little problems, and I've had to move my photos to CD-RW and to an external device because the C-Drive is almost full. 

With a new computer comes the death of old programs and drivers, so I'm beginning to learn a couple of new programs in anticipation of its arrival. 

 The First is Microsoft Expression Web 4, which I'm working on right now.  It is supposed to be a top-of-the-line web page design tool, and replaces Front Page, which I have been using since 2001.  Will it help me design a new site and make this more interesting?  Probably not.  I'll probably end up using it exactly like Front Page.

The next is Microsoft Silverlight, which from the tutorials I've watched so far, looks very fun, but requires imagination to make it's use worthwhile. As I learn more, I'll try it out.  It looks a lot like Flash.  I learned how to use Flash, but saw no real need for it in what I do.  As a matter of fact, I don't like flash pages.  They are like web sites with music to me--an annoyance.

I can see the purchase of Silverlight and Expression for Dummies in the near future.

This past weekend I took seven members of the Color Guard to Reston to post the Colors at the 100th Infantry Division WWII reunion.  We stayed in the Hyatt Regency and ate dinner with the old lads and their families that night.  It was great.  They were totally appreciative and treated the Cadets like gold.  Steve Carell's father is a member of the 100th, so he was there and spoke.  I took a photo of the Cadets with him at the end of the evening.  I'll get that on here as soon as one of the guys sends it to me.

Nohelia '07 met me in New Market on the way back home and gave me a little Alligator holding a fish.  She brought it back from Bolivia and it's a bit weird, but I love it.  I told her I would "call him Simon for Simon Peter, a fisherman with an attitude."


Wednesday 8 September, 2010:  Jonathon's Birthday and Before

Tonight we had a little birthday Celebration for Jay.  Kim cooked a delicious dinner finishing with a Wal-Mart cake.  Jake and KP were the only ones here, but that seemed perfect.  It's hard to believe my Big Guy is twenty-eight.

I'm pretty smoked at work.  We've taken on way too much in the Commandant's office.  Each of us is now a Tactical Officer for a company.  I have Hotel.  Initially, I thought this would be a great idea and that I, along with the others, would be able to concentrate on our four main objectives, Personal Appearance, Room Standards, Parades, and Discipline.  Little did I know that we would be ordered to take over the VFT, which has always been the job of the Physical Education Department.

Here are the issues--

  • Everyone is concerned about the fitness of the Corps (Not me, I think they are pretty darn fit, except for a small percentage)

  • There are only two, two-hour periods a week fenced in the weekly schedule for physical fitness

  • No time is scheduled for the VFT (It used to be done during PhysEd Class periods)

  • Trying to do the VFT for everyone during these two periods is impossible because cadets are spread around post doing Guard, NCAA Sports, ROTC physical fitness, and a hundred other things

  • We've tried to automate the process which is just causing more problems and complicating the process

  • We also have our real jobs to accomplish

We're also "asked" to act as room inspectors, and are expected to be OCs and AOCs at night.  I try to support the process by being the Trap and Skeet Coach, and I've just volunteered to be the Club Advisor for the  Little John Crew.  Though they pay me a small stipend or these duties, no amount of money could make it all fit together.  Before I took all this on, I was already working ten to twelve-hour days.  I refuse to work more, so something is going to slip.  I'm guessing it is going to be discipline and appearance.

I'm so far behind in this journal that I'll just quickly sum-up the beginning of the year.

Cadre came back on 15 August and train-up went well. Five-hundred-and-one Rats matriculated on 21 August and by the end of the first week twenty had given up and gone home.  We lose more almost every day.  The first two weeks of school have been the most hectic I can remember.  I seem to never be caught up and my e-mail in box is always full of more info than I can process.  Sometimes it takes me two to three days to get back to people.  Sometimes I wait to see if they contact me again...then I know it's really important (my 1SG "A-B-C File System").  I'll explain that if you really want to know.

Last weekend was great.  Elise came home for four days and the whole family went to the VMI Football Game together.  Barbara was in town, Jake was there, Kelly came in to see Elise, and KP and his boys joined us.  VMI won big (48-6) over a much smaller team from Lock Haven.  Let's see how we do this Saturday vs. William and Mary. 

This weekend I will be taking the Color Guard to Reston to post the colors for a 100th Infantry Division reunion dinner.

Next week should be better, right?  Let's look at the calendar.  Hummm...Academic Convocation, Remedial Physical Fitness program Start-up, Finish the VFT...if that's possible, two days of trap and skeet, two days of Physical training time, drill on the hill/parade practice, Admissions Open House, John O. Marsh parade, Travel to Pennsylvania for a wedding...

Maybe the week after that.


Saturday 21 August, 2010: Matriculation and Preparation for Same

Today is Matriculation here at Mother I.  The Rats and their families have already started coming in Marshall Arch and putting their gear in their rooms.  I'll be going down to Cameron Hall in a bit to see how things are going.  It's going to be a long day.

The month has been spent preparing for this day.*

*And that is as far as I got.


Saturday, 7 August, 2010: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Elise and I started out our day with a great time at Navitat.  The staff was very professional and friendly, the area was beautiful, and the Zip Lines even better than I expected.  Except for the two short ones they used to train us, the were all fast and long and really high up in the trees.  There were four that were incredible.

After that we changed clothes in our hotel room and ate a late lunch at a Mexican place called Papa's and Beer.  The food was good and the jumbo margarita tasty.

Our afternoon plan was to drive to Grandfather Mountain and hike up to the foot bridge. We made a small mistake in navigation and then decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Bad Choice!  I'm used to the Parkway in Virginia.  The speed limit there is 45 mph and it has very little traffic.  In North Carolina it is 35 and there were hundreds of cars.  I got behind a guy going 30 and waited for a dashed line, passed him, and began slowing down.  Around the next turn was a Trooper.  I got a ticket for 57 in a 35 zone...$100.  It really didn't bother me, but that, and the traffic on the Parkway made us late getting to the mountain by 10 minutes.  We drove back to the hotel only getting to see the mountain and bridge from afar.


Friday, 6 August, 2010: Hanging out with The LT.

I left for Asheville this morning to link up with Elise for a weekend of hiking and outdoor adventures.  The drive through Virginia was boring, probably because I have done it so many times.  The drive into Tennessee and North Carolina was really beautiful and the traffic was light.  The speed limit was a little slow for Bess, but probably about right for average cars.

Elise got a really late start and won't be here till around 2200hrs, so I don't get to eat dinner with her.

Tomorrow we'll be going to Navitat to Zip Line through the mountains.


Wednesday, 4 August, 2010: Getting back to Lexington

My last two days in Alabama were uneventful, except for the run-in I had with my Kim's sister.  In conversation I mentioned that I had voted for President Obama and she lost her mind and began yelling and screaming about his parentage, birth, Muslim connections, and how he was issuing in The New World Order.  I tried stating my case, but she wouldn't listen so I left.  That's the last time I'm leaving Bill's house under that kind of circumstance.  Had my mom not been there, I would have given her a full description of what I think about her.  Suffice to say, she is a lunatic.  Hell, I'll bet she didn't even vote.

The drive back to Lexington was uneventful until I got off I81 at the first Natural Bridge exit.  It was getting foggy, so I was going slowly, but as I topped a hill, almost blinded by another car with their bright lights on, I caught a glimpse of a deer in the road.  I probably wouldn't have seen her had the other guy not been coming.  I slowed down even more.

Around a few more bends in the road, I almost hit a box in my lane, so I slowed it down even more.  I was going about 35mph when I topped a little rise and there were three little kittens in the road.  I stopped, shooed them out of the road and continued on the Lex.

Thursday, I had Jake again.  We had a lot of fun, but the boy just won't eat.  I got a little food down him as we watched more Sand Lot 2 and he went down for the night like a champ.  About 2:30am, he woke crying and I went in to check on him.  I put him in bed with me and he went right back to sleep, but only for a few minutes.  He played in the bed while I tried to go back to sleep, until I gave up and took him downstairs.  We finished up Sand Lot 2, and then watched A Shark's Tale, ate a little breakfast and then went to school.  That didn't go well.  As instructed, I took him in his swim suit, which he didn't want to wear, but when we got there, no one else was wearing their suit.  This upset him and the more I tried to fix the situation, the more upset he got.  I finally had to leave with him crying.  That was not fun.

Last night I "cooked" for Jonathon, Barbara, and Jake.  I threw in a Stouffer's and mixed up a salad and it was actually pretty darn good.  It was certainly good to see them.  After dinner we took Jake out in the front yard for some batting practice.  He can really hit!  I started throwing them over handed to him, but he didn't like that at all.

The rest of the week was slow and lonely.

Today I'm meeting Kelly and Jay at Matsumoto for sushi.

Friday I'll be meeting Elise in Ashville NC for the weekend.  We'll be doing some hiking and have a morning of zip line adventures planned at Navitat.  My original plan was to go to the beach, do some walking, reading, relaxing, and lots of nothing.  I asked Elise if she wanted to tag along...and this is what I end up doing.  I guess I should be happy I'm not running a half marathon too.  I'll take loads of photos.

There is a good possibility that Elise is being moved to another job where she will deploy, somewhere around November. 

Kim is still in Florida.  Yes, I miss her.


Monday, 26 July, 2010: Sweet Home

Sometimes I just don't get Cadets.  I practically had to kick out about ten of them, playing on their computers instead of packing up their stuff.  I took the week before preparing for the moment when the last one left Marshall Arch, so that I could follow him out and get home at the earliest opportunity.  Not these kids.  They will wait for mom to do it for them, chancing a Bone (penalty) for not making it out of Barracks by the 1700hrs cut off time.

I got on the road for Alabama by 0930 Saturday morning.  I got up early and put up Flags, then went home and packed.  I got to Birmingham about 1630hrs Local.  I picked up mom and we went to eat with Jim and Lynn at Golden Rule BBQ.  I had Baby Back Ribs and they were outstanding.

Afterwards I went back to mom's, cleaned up, and waited for Patti to call.  Instead of going to the Class Reunion, I had decided I'd rather just see the people I really cared about seeing apart from the crowd of 1969-1971 people.  Patti was one of these people, but she wanted to go, so I told her I would meet her for drinks after.  She called about 2200 and I met her at the Hilton on I-280.  She, her boyfriend, and I had drinks at the Hotel Bar, then she and I went to Breakfast at IHOP.  I got home around 4am.

Mom and I left about 0900 to drive to Aliceville for the Neel Family Reunion.  We stopped by Jim and Lynn's and picked up her car, which I knew she'd be more comfortable riding.  We got there right about 1200hrs, just in time for the blessing and chow.  It was great, and the Costa's BBQ I took went over well.  I really need to take family information forms and photos next time.  I also had an idea to put up a big wiring diagram on the wall for people to add family info.  I think this is a brilliant idea.

Uncle Tommy told me a great story about Dad.  It seems that after the war, Dad and James Norwood  built an AM Transmitter on the "cotton house" and began broadcasting, quite illegally, a radio sports show, to which the entire Pickens County community began to follow.  I'd never heard this story before, though I had heard the "fishing line attached to the purse in the middle of Highway 17" story and the "bag of eight possums tossed into the community dance" story that he told.

We got back to Mom's house about 1530hrs and I took a nap until Courtney Kelly called for us to meet ant Jim and Nicks.  I kept that short because I was exhausted.  That night, I took mom's car back to Jim and Lynn and talked to them about getting a day-time helper for mom.

Today I got up and bought a few groceries so I could make meals for me and mom.  I want to eat healthy for the rest of the time I'm here...instead of Bar-B-Q....on which I think I'm good-to-go.  I will need to take a trip to Milo's before going home.


Tuesday, 20 July, 2010: The Ball and then Home

I just put Jacob down for the night.  I had him all to myself and we did great together.  He ate pretty well, and went right to sleep.  We watched Sandlot 2 together tonight and it was fun.  He loved it but he had so many questions.  I have him again tomorrow night and I hope we have the weather to do a little baseball practice.

I served my last night as Barracks Supervisor last night.  All I have to do now is clear Barracks on Friday and then I can get on the road to Alabama.  I may try to make the Reunion after all.  I'll , at least, be meeting old friends, Patti, for a midnight breakfast and Courtney for Sunday lunch while I'm there.

The Ball was so much fun this year.  Taking CPT Amanda with me was so much help and she saw a lot of things I've stopped seeing.  This gave me a lot more time to enjoy myself.  The lads did great and really put on their best behavior.  It was a VMI Show for sure, especially "You've Lost That Loving Feeling."  The young ladies were nice and they got along well with the Cadets.  A lot of the young ladies that I've been close to over the years were there and I danced with them and later in the evening took a photo with all of those who were introduced while I was helping out.  I'm a little sad that this was my last Cotillion.

I drove on back to Lexington on Sunday morning so I could see Kim and Elise before they left.  Elise headed back to Bragg and Kim went to Florida to hang out at Sandy's.

So, I'm a bachelor again until about 15 August.

COL John, our Band Director, as it turns out, is a big sailor.  He noticed my boat, asked me about it, and had a trailer hitch put on his new car so we could go sailing.  We're going to shake it out on dry land tomorrow, and then take it to Lake Moomaw Thursday...if we get good weather.  I'm looking forward to that a lot.


Saturday: 17 July, 2010: The ODC

I left Lexington for Chantilly Thursday about 1300hrs.  I was tired.  The night before, while I was on duty, one of the College Orientation Workshop (COW)  kids decided to vault over the wall beside the steps at Preston Library.  I imagine he was pretty surprised that the grass didn't extent up to the edge of the building and actually dropped two stories down town to the first floor windows.  He ripped up his left leg pretty badly, but didn't break any bones.  After an hour recovery operation to get him out of the hole, we shipped him off to Roanoke hospital where they stapled him up and sent him on his way.  I'd say he is one pretty lucky kid.  Had he fallen a few feet shorter, or to the left or right, he probably would have died.  I got in bed about 0200hrs.

The drive into Chantilly was uneventful, but I really don't like the Jeep Lerado I rented from Enterprise.  Basically it drives like a boat, is underpowered, and the seat is certainly not comfortable.  I love the plastic key thing, that won't stain the the dash and falls out in the floor  as you're driving down the freeway.  I've learned to just pull the damn thing out and put it in my pocket until it's time to shut the car off.

I had two Cadets drop out at the last moment, but I still had enough to do the job.  All but one of those showed in good order for the Ring dance. That went well, and the guys were pretty amazing, friendly, well behaved, and danced all night. Kimber and Courtney were there.  There were a lot of the previous Debs there and they had a good time pulling me out on the dance floor.  It was a pretty good time.

This will be my last year at the Cotillion, so I brought CPT Moore with me.  She'll be taking over in future years so I'm using this trip to show her how everything works.  She's already been a great team player, noticing things that I've stopped noticing.  Fran and the ladies gave me a couple of parting gifts, a small debutante stool and a photo of Kim and me at the last Cotillion.

Friday morning I slept in till about 1100hrs.  After a brunch at Eggspectations, I drove to Manassas Battlefield and walked Jackson's defensive line...again.

The rehearsal went well last night and the guys did very well.  Tonight is the Ball.


Monday: 5 July, 2010: Back to Normal

The Balloons are gone. The carnies and Circus People are gone.  Post is almost back to normal except for the dead grass on the Parade Ground.  I'm looking forward to the sound of quiet tomorrow morning when I head to the Mess Hall for Breakfast.

I have Barracks Supervisor tonight and Barracks is getting more active by the minute as the kids come back from the long weekend.  I just spotted one STP kid taking his girlfriend up to his room, carrying some of the stuff he brought back with him.  He'll be sweeping the first stoop after supper.

I cooked out some burgers and dogs on the grill for the family. For a change, it was just us, Jay, Barbara, and Jake for dinner.  Afterwards, Jake and I played ball in the front yard.  The kid can hit the ball in the dark!  I think he concentrates on the ball more.  The fireworks were fun.  We had a few invited guests in the front yard for that: Jonathon, Barbara, Jake, Stephanie, her boyfriend Gabe, Jonathon and Barbara's friend Sarah and her cute little daughter Cameron, and Jenny Coffee.

All of the STP students took down the Garrison Flags last night after fireworks.  I talked them through it and they did a fine job.  This is surely going to be a good group.

I get to move in my new office tomorrow morning.


Sunday, 4 July, 2010: Canons and Carnies

I would really like to enjoy Independence Day.  Sadly, VMI allows the local community to hold a Balloon Rally on Post on the 3rd and 4th of July every year, which brings in all types of people.  I call them Carnies and Circus people.  With this influx of people, we get to sit at our house and see it all, from moms letting their little kids pee in the gutter across the street, the pony ride messing up the area in front of Barracks, people jockeying for the small available parking slots, asking me "where the hell am I supposed to park" as if they are entitled to close parking and my job to supply it, people walking through our yard, people picnicking in our yard, people parking in our yard, People asking if they can come in to use the bathroom, and on and on. 

Last year, some ass hit my car as it sat right in front of my quarters...and drove away without so much as a by-your-leave.

This year, I had what I thought was a good plan.  We didn't invite a lot of people like the last few years, so Kim was going to be a lot more relaxed.  VMI put a new curb around the back of my house which would make it hard for anyone to park in my yard.  All I needed was a place to put Bess to protect her.  I figured out that I could get around the curb if I drove in the Dean's driveway and pulled around it.  It was perfect.  I could pull Bess right up to the house, put her cover on, and there would be no way anyone could park next to her or accidentally back into her.  Wrong.  Even though people avoided the place all day, a guy in a big red truck drove around the new curb, through the new backfill, and parked with his wheels on the curb and his front end about a foot from my right rear quarter panel.  I called the Post Police and they towed it.

We were sitting on the back porch when he and his family came back.  I asked if he was looking for a red truck and told them that the Post Police towed it.  He asked why and if I had called them.  I said Yes, and because it was illegally parked.  He said "Thank You," I said "You're welcome," and he said, "Nice way to treat an alumni."  It seems this guy is a VMI Sports Hall of Fame member, and a member of the Keydet Club.  You'd think a guy like that would have a little more respect than to park in my yard.  Hall of Fame Member or not, his truck was towed.  When the police arrived, we could hear him saying things like, well, That Car (Bess) is parked here, and "people are parking everywhere," and (I Love This One) "I don't consider this part of his yard."

I'm sure tonight holds more adventure for me; this is a busier night.  This kind of crap makes me almost hate this time of year.

This morning, I got up before sunrise to raise the Big Flags up to full-mast.  I had them at half-mast for Senator Byrd of West Virginia in accordance with the Presidents decree.  Then Kim, Kimber, Dale and I left the house to watch the Balloon Launching.  I took them up to the 5th Stoop in 3rd Barracks and it was the perfect place, as it turned out, to get some amazing shots.  This year we had twelve balloons, which was cool, and it made for a good photo.  The light wind took the balloons directly away from us, over the library and east of Lexington.

I had duty in Barracks last Friday.  We made a mistake trying to put all of the summer school and STP students in New Barracks.  The kids are too close together and it makes stopping fraternization between them impossible.  The noise and Cadet shenanigans were getting out of control, so I began tightening the screws.  I moved all games out of the courtyard ant out on the parade ground.  I also mandated a quiet Barracks and called the STP Students down off of the Stoop after a slight uproar for a five-minute lecture.  I told them I would continue to do this every time I heard the slightest noise out of them and explained how the upper classes were already resenting how they thought they "owned the place."

Wednesday and Thursday I had planned to go to Antietam and Harper's Ferry with Kim, but she backed out at the last minute.  I hadn't been anywhere all summer so I drove on up.  DJ drove down from Pennsylvania when I told her I was coming.  We had a quick lunch and then went exploring.  We had a great time visiting portions of the battlefield I'd never seen before.  The weather was sunny and cool, with a light breeze.  I took the time to view the little movie this year, the first time I have ever done that, and it was really good.  I've been there a few times before, but this had to be the best trip.  The crowd was small for this time of year giving me moments where there was no one else on our section of the battlefield. I took a lot of photos, both Battlefield and DJ, and they turned out amazing.  Reviewing Landscape Turned Red by Stephen Sears before going made all the difference.  I'll have to do research like that for next year's trip; I think Petersburg.

For the next two weeks, I don't have lot to do.  I should be moving into my new office on Tuesday and then two weekends from now I have the Old Dominion Cotillion.  I'm looking forward to that.


Saturday, 26 June, 2010: Barracks Supervisor

For the past week I have been pulling barracks Supervisor duty.  I began on Monday by assigning rooms to the second Summer Session students. Sign-in went pretty well, but the first night got a little crazy.  One of the kids, after reviewing his grades from the first session, punched a window and the glass won the fight.  He showed at the door to the office, bleeding through a white bath towel advising me he was going to the hospital.  I made sure he had a ride and sent him on his way.  About one o'clock in the morning he came back to the door, bleeding through a second towel and passed out on the stoop in front of my door.  I controlled his head, eased him to the ground, and yelled for help.  I had cadets fall out from everywhere.  One called 911 for an ambulance, one covered him up, and one helped me elevate and put pressure on the wound.

The next day I picked him up at the hospital after surgery on his severed tendon and blood vessels on the back of his hand.  It seems he went to the hospital the night before and the emergency room put a bandage on the cut, scheduled him for surgery the next morning, and sent him back to post. Luckily he woke up and came to get me before he bled out.

The rest of the week has gone much better.  Tuesday night was visitor night.  Kim and Jake stopped by before his bedtime, Courtney made a quick appearance, and LTC Chris W. came by after checking his rental properties.

Jason and a friend-of-his stopped by yesterday and I gave them the unofficial guided tour.  Both are grads and had a great time re-living the old days with me and seeing what all we've done and are doing on Post.

I have the duty all weekend and there are probably only 20 or so kids in Barracks.

Next Week, I have two trips planned.  A trip to Sharpsburg battlefield and a trip to Harpers Ferry with Kim.


Monday, 14 June, 2010: My Kind of Weekend

About noon on Friday I just couldn't take the office anymore, so I awarded myself a half day off.  Jay, Barbara, and Jake were going to her dad's house for the weekend and Kim and I were looking forward to nice quiet weekend.  It turned out even better than I thought it would and the stormy weather and high heat and humidity made living in the house watching TV respectable.  I didn't even wash and wax Bess as I had planned.

I began, after a small hiatus, watching Foyle's War again.  I'm in season four and it is just as good as the previous seasons.  The Americans have just arrived and the British attitude of "over paid, over sexed, and over here" is fun to watch.  I love the history in this show--accurate down to the hairdos on Honeysuckle Weeks.

Sunday evening the kids brought Jake over.  He was pretty tired from the trip, but we still got in a bit of Baseball.


Saturday, 5 June, 2010: Jake Man's Birthday Celebration

Kim and I hosted Jake's 3rd birthday party today.  I spent las night and this morning blowing up beach balls that looked like baseballs, which we put in the yard this afternoon, and which I ended up chasing all over the neighborhood when the wind picked up.  Gail brought the cake and I cooked out burgers and dogs on the grill.  Sarah and Cameron, Miranda, and Steph and Gabe came, as did a former cadet, who, I guess, is dating Barbara.  Elise drove up from Bragg.  Kelly didn't make it because her mom's car broke down on the way, but I think I hear her downstairs now.

It was a good time and the kids were wild.  I think the hit of the day was the ice that we had drinks in,  The kids seemed to enjoy playing in that more than anything else.  The drum Kim and I gave Jake was well played.  Perhaps a big mistake!

After lunch, gifts, cake, and a water gun battle, Elise and I snuck off for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We got back just as Jay, Jake, and Barbara were leaving.

The kids are going out tonight and Kim is going to babysit at Jay's house, so I have the house to myself.


Thursday, 3 June, 2010: Rucking

As part of my summer physical training program, this morning I grabbed "me Bergan" and "TABed" down the Chessie Trail for about two-and-a-half hours.  I took my camera along, but missed the little fox eating bugs in the middle of the trail.  I really need to keep my head up. 

The weather was nice for it until I got back on Highway 11 headed back into town.  By then it was almost 1100hrs and there is no shade on that piece of the march.

It felt good to be under a rucksack again and I'll do more of the same every Thursday.  Rucking is one of those have-to-do things.  We'll do numerous marches in the Fall and I'll personally do the Staunton-to-Harrisonburg, 25-mile leg of the First Class's march to New Market and the 18-mile Rat March from Harrisonburg to the battlefield.  I can't just go out there and do that at fifty-seven; I have to train.

My regimen this summer looks like this:

  • Monday--Run/Gym (Arms, Abs)

  • Tuesday--Sprints, Hills, or Stadiums/Gym (Back, Chest, Abs)

  • Wednesday--Run/Gym (Arms, Abs)

  • Thursday--TAB

  • Friday--Short Run/Gym (Back, Chest, Abs)

  • Saturday--Rest/Gym (Arms, Abs)

  • Sunday--Long Slow Distance (LSD) Run/Gym (Back, Chest, Abs)

Yesterday, Kim, Jonathon and I took Jake to get his hair cut.  It had grown so long that I was beginning to whine about it.  The boy is cute with longer hair, so my whining is mostly in jest.  Mostly.  I know I really have no say.  It was a fun time and Jake was a card through the whole thing.  He has such a playful wit and is a big flirt.



Wednesday, 2 June, 2010: Fayetteville Trip and Working on the New Site

I began working on a new web site about two weeks ago .  I never liked the last one and I'm not really sure about this one either, but I like the process.  I think the draw for me is working out the kinks and playing around with the graphics. It is a lot of work, but I'll be able to cut and paste a lot from the old site.

Kim is home from Fort Bragg.  The poor thing has been cleaning up the house since she returned.  Not only do I do a terrible job of keeping up with it, but we're hosting Jakes third birthday this Saturday.  She began work this morning at the Registrars office, I think to earn enough money to buy Bess a Roush Charger.  Maybe not..

I drove to Elise's to pick her up last Thursday and got there in time for a nice lunch at George's. The three of us, and BR Jim '04, went to a Mongolian grill and sushi bar for dinner.   Elise and I had sushi and it was pretty good, but not as good as Matsumoto here in Lexington.  I drove around Post a bit, but it's not the same anymore.  This was the first time in a long while that I didn't run into someone I know.

Elise's foot has healed nicely, looks so much better, and she's back to work.  I could tell that by the "venting" phone call I got as I was out for my run.  She does that when she is particularly frustrated at work.  I guess it is better for her to vent to me than hurt people.

I took a nice drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway last Wednesday.  I drove Bess nice-and-slow, just to enjoy the curves and scenery.  I love it up there.

Sunday, 23 May, 2010: Whooped Em Again Didn't We Josey?

I went to Dianna and Luke's wedding in DC yesterday.  It was a beautiful event and Dianna looked fantastic.  I saw a few of the ODC people, but didn't know anyone else so I came on home rather than attend the reception.

The trip up to DC was eventful.  I was able to pretty much mind my own business at 74mph, but a group of cars came along all jockeying for position and driving too fast for their own good, so I sped up to get away from them and the ever present trucks clogging up I-81.  About 5 miles later, I looked up and a state trooper was closing in on me so I dropped my speed to 70.  When he got to my "7," he started pacing me, and then pulled me over.  I was sure he clocked me at 80 and I was in for a ticket, but he just wanted to point out that my registration had expired and talk to me about the car. He let me go. Cool guy, actually.

The first part of May went by in a blur.  On the 6th, DJ and I went to the Blue Ridge to take photos.  She looked really great in a short jean skirt and heels.  She's getting better at this and she is listening to what I want, what I think she should do to look her best in photos. These photos turned out great.  Almost every one.

 The 11th and 12th I took the NCAA Athletes to the woods for a make-up FTX.  The real heroes of the event were the 6 lane walkers who, somehow, motivated and trained a bunch of kids with bad attitudes, zero training, and who couldn't have cared less.  Next year we have to do better and send the 4ths as one FTX.

Dead Week went as usual, but still, it was too long for any discipline to exist among the 1st Class.  Fireworks and The Burning Of The Travel Dyke were the fun-and-games for after Taps this year.   There were a few MRE Bombs too, but those have become so common, that they are boring.  Lack Imagination?  Make an MRE Bomb.  Yawn.

After practices and briefings and classes, Graduation Parade, Commissioning, New Market Parade, and Commencement, all went well.  This year, all I did after was work on MY stuff.  I let the others clear rooms; I had flags all over Post that needed to be picked up.  The best part of dead week was having Cate, Sal '07 and Jim '04 around the house.  Sitting out on the second stoop smoking up my cigars and drinking the leftover beer from Mike's Party (that sounds like a lie, but it's true...leftover beer from Mike's party!) was most enjoyable.  We cooked out burgers after New Market Parade.

The end of Lost is closing in.  Cate has watched the last two episodes with me, catching up from Episode 1 since the New Year.  I'm recording it tonight so we can watch the series finale on Wednesday when she get's back from New York.  I like watching the show with someone who loves it like I do a lot better than alone.

Next week I began two weeks leave.  I'll spend the mornings running and the afternoons doing stuff around here.  Thursday I go get Kim and we'll drive back from Bragg on Friday.  One goal while there: TURKISH FOOD!

Friday, 30 April, 2010:  Catching Up

April has been a very busy month.  Most of the first of the month was spent getting ready to take the 4th Class to the George Washington national Forest for their final FTX, the culmination test of what they had learned in NCMT training.  We took them by bus to the Upper Otter Creek Overlook and released them on Saturday morning, 17April.  They did a great job and negotiated the terrain in record time...except, of course, for a few lost teams which had to be talked in.  This year we had great aggressors who really played the part and stuck to the ROE.  The Staff also did a fantastic job.  We had them all back on Post by 1030hrs on  Sunday.

The next week, I did a little recovery, accounting for everything, cleaning up, and mailing Radios back to MetroTalk.  Tuesday, the 20 we held a Parade for the returning older classes, '40, '50A, '50B, '60, '70 and '80.  The best part of the day was when a 90-year-old Alum took the Sentinel Box in Third Barracks and led an Old yell for the Class of '40.  I love this place!

What weekend, younger classes came in including three Alums who I know from previous assignments, Jim from my days in the British Parachute Regiment, and Chris and Trey from AROTC here at VMI back in 1997-2000.  it was good to spend time with them and catch up.

This week is the last week of classes and I've spent much of it walking barracks looking for trouble and preparing for the NCAA make-up FTX in May.

Saturday, 3April: FTX and Easter Break

The Corps is away for Easter Break and a three-day weekend.  I'm in Barracks as OC for the one-hundred or so Cadets remaining.  I'll have Sunday and most of Monday to do what I want, and this isn't that bad; I just finished watching my third movie and Barracks is very quiet.

Last weekend was Spring FTX and I supervised Hotel Company for the better part of four days.  Saturday we worked out at McKethan Park cleaning up the pavilion, moving a few sandbags, spreading some mulch, and cleaning up the Trap and Skeet Range.  Sunday afternoon I sent each company around post to pick up trash, and I took poor Hotel behind Barracks to pick up all the trash back on the hillside.  I worked their collective asses off.  Monday we went to the SPCA to help clean up and build a dog walk.  I pretty mush left Hotel to their own devices on that one, just going out to see it started.  Tuesday, while most everyone went to Buena Vista to build a flood wall, I took the day to work in the office on my stuff.

Tomorrow I plan to drive Bess out Highway 39, past Goshen Pass to the Boy Scout camp and Lake Merriweather, to check it out as a possible learning lake for when the boat arrives.  Sandy should be pulling it up in a few weeks.  My boss has warned me that Smith Mountain Lake is very busy with speed boats, so I figure I better be pretty good when I try that least as good as I got while in Cyprus.  After seven days of sailing south of Kurion,  I was a pretty good sailor.

 Saturday, 20 March: Terra Cotta Soldiers

Jonathon and I drove to Washington DC yesterday to see the National Geographic exhibit on the Terra Cotta Warriors from China.  We drove in and walked around the city, doing the tourist thing, visiting all the sights, and then lined-up for the exhibit at 1615hrs.  It was crowded, which made reading everything a pain, but the the Warriors were amazing.  As the crowd thinned out, Jay and were able to take our time and point out areas of interest to each other...which made it a lot more fun.  Absolutely worth the cost and the trip.

Wednesday, 17 March: A Treasure Hidden in Centerpoint Alabama

My last day at home was planned as a quiet time sitting at home with mom and maybe working in her yard a bit.  Bill Called a little after lunch and said he had something to show me.  I drove over to his house and Kim, Sil, Bill and I climbed in his car and drove to Centerpoint and a local Oil Company.  Me met the owner, who most graciously walked us through his automobile collection.  He has two warehouses full of classic and vintage show cars and he took the time to tell us the story of each of his favorite cars.   I've driven by there too many times to count and never would have expected such a wonderful treasure was stored only minutes from Mom's house.

Kim found another bit of treasure stashed away in Mom's house; drawers of old family photos.  We brought them home to scan and then return.  I'll probably begin posting some of those here. 

One of the most fun things she found were some very poor, but memorable photos of Carey and I, in the Summer of 1969, camping at Wind Creek.  We met two great girls there, Trudy and Yvonne, and Yvonne's little sister Kit,  from Mortimer Jordan High School in Morris Alabama, and spent the week hanging out with them.  We only saw them once more after this week in Wind Creek, at a chance meeting while watching the movie Wait Until Dark.

Tuesday, 16 March: Cleaning up The Boat after Lunch with Everybody

onday, Kim and I went to Ted's for lunch with Becky and Zeke.  I've known Becky since I was in the seventh grade.  We med at a little social club run by our moms called "B4Hi."  We stayed good friends in High School but lost touch after we graduated.  The WHS group on Face Book got us back together and she and Kim have become good friends through it.  This was their first chance to meet.  Ted's is a nice little place on the Southside of Birmingham where Ron, Dave, and I used to go eat when we all worked at Motion Industries.  Their best dish there is the Greek Souvlakia, which is what I got.  It was delicious.

Today, Kim, Mom, and I met Sylvia, Jim, Lynn, Sally, and Katie for lunch at Cafe de Paris.  I had my first meal there when I came home for Jim's art show and loved the place.  The Chefs who own the place are great fun and very friendly.  The staff is very professional and know what they are doing.  The food is well prepared, well presented, and delicious.  I had the Quiche Loraine. 

Kim took the two photos above.

I will go there every time I am home.

After lunch, Jim and I went back to his house and pressure washed the boat.  He called last week and asked of I wanted it, and of course, I said yes.  It had been a very long time since he'd cleaned it and it was filthy and had a lot of leaves and scum all ove it.  The main halyard was dry-rotted, but replaceable.  The cover was mildewed.  Jim pressure washed while I scrubbed the non-slip surfaces with a stiff brush, then we'd switch.  When we were finished, it looked almost like a new boat.  We pulled it to Mom's house so Sandy could pull it up to Virginia from there for me.   For dinner we had Costa's BBQ...which we got from the Huffman Costa's...which is back open...which makes me happy.

I hate it when I forget my camera and have to use my phone camera.

Sunday, 14 March: Way Down South in Dixie

I'm in Birmingham visiting Mom.  I drove in yesterday morning in Kim's Miata, and though not as much fun as driving Bess, it was still fun and reminded me of Little Car.  I left late, not until 8, because I was just now squared away.  I got up, finished packing, got dressed, and went to Barracks to put up the flags.  I unlocked Jackson Arch and then realized that I had left my room keys at the house, so I couldn't get to to the flags in the Guard Room.  I drove back to the house, and went uo the back stairs, and the back door was locked...same problem, so I had to run around the house to the front door.  I went ahead and packed the car, put up the flags and left from Barracks. 

I grabbed a couple of sausage biscuits at Hardee's, stopped for gas, and then hit I81 South.  The trip home was uneventful except for  lunch at Schlotzsky's which is always a must on the way home.  I stop at the one just outside of Chattanooga at the Cleveland exit (Exit 25).

I called Kim when I go to the first Trussville exit and asked where she was.  She was at her mom and dad's house.  I asked her where Bess was, and she said she was at my mom's house.  I told her I was going to go see Bess First and then come see her.  She was not amused.

I got home about 1600hrs Birmingham time, visited with Bill and Sil awhile, and then went to my mom's for the evening.

This morning I was first up and woke Mom and Kim about 0930hrs.  Jim and Lynn came over and we all went to Jim and Nick's for B-B-Q.  It was usual.  The rest of the day was spent in mom's den catching up with everyone over coffee.  It was a nice time.


Wednesday, 10 March: Nothing Going On

I went for my consul at Augusta Medical Center on Monday.  They ran another EKG, took my blood pressure, and the doc listened to my heart a while.  He said my EKGs showed that at one time I had had a heart attack.  I told him that they said same thing years ago at Fort Bragg and that they discovered that, because of my narrow chest and my strong heart, that my heart was canted on its axis which caused an abnormal reading.  He seemed to agree that this could be the problem.  We discussed the issues-- the asymptomatic chest pain, and the gamma photos, and he seemed unconcerned about it all.  If I pinned him down and asked for his opinion, he said, he would tell me "nothing is going on."  He suggested I take a baby aspirin for a while, see if the pain goes away, and not do the catheterization unless I just wanted to be sure.

I liked that answer.

So, I went by the store, picked up a bottle of low dosage  aspirin, have stayed away from the bow flex, have been dealing with cadets in low tones, and have been watching my eating...and the pain seems to be going away.

Wednesday 3 March: High Adventure or Nothing At All

My Doctor called me back and asked me to stop by to discuss the results of my Cardio Stress Test.  Bottom line: We still need to do some more checking.  My EKG was strong, my blood pressure good-to-go, my heart efficiency well above 50%, and my blood work fine.  However, my gamma photos show a possible area of my heart, bottom left ventricle, where there might be a blood flow problem.  That would mean a slight blockage in my aorta, so the Doc is sending me to see a cardiologist, on the 8th, to have a look at me and possibly schedule an angiography by catheterization. 

Or, it could be that the area is hard to see and the test is showing a false negative...and I just pulled an old man muscle in my chest in the gym.  I'm going with this answer.

This is all very interesting to me and I'm not a bit scared.  It's like being the guest sick guy on Grey's Anatomy.

To celebrate, we went for Cheese Pizza night with Jonathon, Jake, KP, Steph, and Ann at Franks.  I was good...I had a salad and only three small slices of pizza.

Monday 1 March: Travel

We got back from Kentucky last night about midnight.  The trip was successful and fun, though there were a few moments where I was ready to blast the Cadets.  I think we came to a pretty good understanding after the first day.  We drove all the way to Knoxville going to Kentucky based on weather reports in West Virginia, but, as we found out from Tech and Radford teams, we could have taken I77 up to Charleston.  I took a chance and we drove back on I64.  It was pretty dicey right after the West Virginia Turn Pike, but it cleared up when we got to the Virginia border.  It still took us almost seven hours.

I had a stress test scheduled for this morning, so I had to get up early.  I drove the Van to Barracks and walked back to get my car, then two of the cadets and I turned the vans back in.  I made it to Stonewall Jackson Hospital by 0820, and checked it. 

I've had this nagging little pain in my chest for about a week.  After three days, I decided to not risk it and called my doctor.  I told me he didn't hear anything wrong, but sent me for a blood test (which came back negative), and scheduled this test.  The process began with a catheter in the right arm and a radiotracer injected.  After twenty minutes I was put under the Gamma Camera.  The I was taken to the treadmill, hooped to the EKG and pushed to my target heart rate, 160 bests per minute.  At 160 I was injected with another radio tracer, allowed to cool,  and then taken back to the Gamma Camera.  It was too fun. 

They mentioned they had a program on the computer used by the Astronauts, and I thought, "That'd be AWESOME," but quickly realized that the "old man" program would be enough for the morning.  When they started out, I was  a little skeptical.  It was so slow.  I thought, "Come on, I'm still a fit old guy." The next phase was a bit faster and twice as steep, but I was hardly breathing.  I swear the damn computer read my mind.  Phase three was  like a sprint up Supe's Hill.  I was walking about as fast as my old legs would go at a 30% incline.  I kept my eyes glues on the heart rate monitor knowing my target rate was 156.  All I had to do was get to 156, they'd inject the dye, and this stuff would stop.  Just as I hit 156, I heard the Doctor say, "let's take him to his Max"...which was 160...which took me forever.  I was pretty happy that I could control my breathing.  There was no way I was going to start panting in front of these civilians.  The 160 display was a welcome sight.

The EKG was good and the on-site Doctor said I did really well, but I'll have to wait for the Gama photo comparison of my resting and aerobic utilization to see the state of my arteries.

Watch.  I probably pulled a muscle in the gym.

I replaced the battery clamp on Kim's car and took her battery in for a slow charge at Advanced Auto Parts tonight.  I'm trying to get it ready so I can take it to Alabama.  She's taking Bess down on Friday.

Wednesday 24 February: Back to, University of Kentucky

Tuesday I went to recon the Rifle range and it is a mess.  The construction trucks for North Fort have turned the access road to mush, the range road in ankle deep in water, and the range is a big mud and snow puddle.  There is no way we can shoot there this Saturday.  I went back and explained this to the Commandant and we agreed we'd have to cancel the range.  The problem we're faced with is that on March 1st, the Range was scheduled to be turned over to the construction contractor.  We looked for another date close, so we could ask for an extension, but the next Mil Duty Saturday is late April, just before Exams.  Bottom Line: No shooting M16s this semester.  We may be able to shoot M9s, but that's all.

No shooting here means I can travel with the Trap and Skeet Team to Kentucky this weekend.  We'll depart about 1300hrs Friday.  The shoot will be over two days  and each cadet will fire 300 rounds over a course of skeet, trap, doubles trap, handicapped trap, five stand, and sporting clays.  We'll be back Sunday night...late.

I spent most of today organizing for the trip, map questing, confirming vans, e-mailing instructions, and checking all the other details.  I think I'm about as ready as I can be....except that Jake will be here Saturday and Sunday, so I'll miss out on that fun.

Monday, 22 February: Home of the Airborne

Kim and I went to visit Elise this past weekend.  I Love going to Bragg; it re-charges my batteries.

Kim left on Wednesday in Elise's 4Runner  and I took of work at 1100hrs on Friday.  I got on the road after meeting Cate for lunch at the sushi bar.  The trip down in Bess was great fun and the traffic was light.  I took my time but picked up my speed on the curves of Highway 220.  it was great fun.

I got to Bragg about 1700, and Kim, Elise and I met two of her friends, Lindsey and Justin, for dinner at a pizza joint on Hay Street.  What a change!  Hay Street is really nice these days, as compared to my day when Rick's Lounge was there...and the downtown area was affectionately called Fayette Nam.  The Pizza was ok, but not great.

Saturday we slept in and I was the first one up.  I started watching Grey's Anatomy, this season, which Elise has bought from iTunes.  Elise and I watched two episodes together Saturday night and I watched 4 more after she went to bed. 

We ate at George's for lunch and Mi Casita for dinner.  Both times we were joined by Justin.  Elise had to go to work for a few minutes to counsel one of her soldiers and Kim and I went to the PX and Clothing Sales.  We also went to the Post Cemetery to visit Doc Sanchez, one of my soldiers killed in the 23March 1994 crash on Green Ramp.

Kim and I drove back to Lexington yesterday.  The weather was so nice that I took Bess to the car wash place by Wal-Mart and gave her a good wash. 

The snow is finally beginning to melt.

Wednesday, 18 February: Night OC

Kim left for Ft. Bragg this afternoon.  Elise will be back from School soon and Kim went to work on her apartment a bit.  I'll drive down on Friday after PTT.  I'm really looking forward to the trip, driving in Bess, seeing Elise after two months, and being at Bragg.  I can't wait.

Right now, I'm Night OC, which is one of the two guys who stay the night, 2200-0700hrs.  One of the guys asked for the night off and LTC L asked me if I'd take it.   It's no big deal, except that it's super cold out there.  I'll get in bed after running the OCMNI, around 0230hrs.

Cate and I were going for sushi tonight, but I messed that up.  She was getting her new phone turned on, and sent me a text when she was finished, which I didn't hear because I went home at 1530 for a nap before OC.  Maybe lunch tomorrow.  I'm dying for some sushi.

Tomorrow is Staff meeting and then NCMT in the afternoon.  I need to go have a look at the medical portion.  I haven't seen them yet.  I also need to get up to the Bunker and count my ammo; Range day is about two weeks away.

My trip to see the Terra Cotta Warriors in DC has fallen apart.  I tried to include everyone who said they wanted to go, and then they all started asking me to fit it into their schedules and nothing matched up.  Well, I'm going to figure out when I'm going and go alone.  Kim asked me to hold off cancelling, but her solution is to come back early from Alabama, before I even get there, so she can baby sit Jake.  That's worse than me not going at all.  So, I'm giving it till Monday and then I'm making the call.

Friday, 12 February: Looking Forward to the Weekend

Ah, Friday.  I like Fridays when I have nothing to do on the weekend.  I guess I could go to the Mid-Winter Formal, but I'd probably have to deal with some Cadet messing up.  It's best if I stay away and let them let their hair down for a change.  I do miss getting all dressed up in my Mess Dress and seeing Kim decked out. My plans for the weekend are to sleep late, work out,  read (readingTrojan Odyssey), catch up with Meredith, run,  and work on my page a bit more.  I hope you've noticed the slight changes.  Eh.  Probably not.

It seems I broke my own rule about writing what I'm thinking on here.  I blame the Tequila.  One of my friends wrote to make sure I was OK.  Yep, I'm just fine and still having fun.  I do miss a lot of my friends.

I'm really looking forward to my next weekend.  I'll be at Bragg from Friday - Sunday.   I can't wait to drive Bess.  Please give me nice weather.  First Stop after I get there: George's.   Kim leaves on Tuesday to do some chair shopping for Elise and I'll meet her there.

Elise just called and she is the Distinguished Honor Grad at Lima-5.   Excellent!

We still have snow and Ice all over the place.  We're looking at more this weekend and possibly next week.  Surely it will stop soon.  When does it ever snow a foot in Dallas?  I need some Spring.

Thursday, 11 February: Back from Florida

Last weekend, I went to Tampa with the VMI Band.  They were playing in a Military Tattoo to support the Wounded Warrior Project.  Though the weather was getting worse, we drove to Richmond on Friday to pick up an Air Force C17.  The pilot was a VMI grad and he and his crew were dead-set on getting us there and on time.

Saturday morning was spent practicing and showing off for the American Legion Post that sponsored us.  They paid for our hotel rooms, coordinated all out meals, and had School busses carry us where ever we needed to go.  The Tattoo was Saturday night from 1900hrs - 2200hrs and though small, went really well.  It was pretty well attended.

 The weather down there was a little chilly, but, to us, felt warm.  Sunday we flew back to Richmond on the same C17 to snow and temperatures in the 20s.

This week has been a struggle to dig VMI out of the ice and snow.  I've given more 2:1 PTs this week than I have in my nine years in the Commandant's Staff.

Today we moved NCMT indoors because of the frigid temperature, high winds and snow still too deep to get through.  I'm ready for Spring.

Sunday, 31 January: After Breakout

Breakout, the final event of VMI initiation, was yesterday.  It was a tough event made tougher by the arrival of more snow and bitter cold temperatures. 

The Rats began their big day at 0500 with Little John and blank Rifle Fire, followed by a Cadre Sweat Party.  After Breakfast were the round-robin events in Cocke Hall, Cameron Hall, and The Pit.  The events included football drills, sprints, the rope climb, lunges, stretcher carries, and stadiums.  After DRC, were put in Jackson Memorial Hall for for a quick brief by the RDC President, and then moved to pick up their sandbags, followed by The Pit for Sandbag PT. 

The final event of the day was "The Barracks Event."  This consisted of the rats tearing down sandbag barriers, erected by the top three classes, on the stairwells in Third Barracks.  As the Rats took away Sandbags one at a time, the upper class Cadets replenished them from another pile on their stoop.  For a while, it looked as if the Rats would never make it up to the Second Stoop.

Once they got to the Second Stoop, the were worked out by the entire second class.  This process, clear the sandbags, storm the stoop, workout, continued to the Third and Fourth Stoops where their Dykes waited to greet them.  After a brief talk by the First Class President, they showered, went to SRC, and then marched back into Barracks to Meet Their Cadre again, then moved to Third Barracks, around the Sentinel Box for Old Yells, the Spirit and the Doxology.

The Class of 2013, our great-grand-rats.  Wow!

Sunday, 24 January: A Lonely Day

I'm drinking Tequila...alone...on a Sunday.

Kim is still gone and I miss her. DJ stopped by for lunch before going back to Pennsylvania.  I haven't seen Jonathon or Jake all weekend.  Hell, I haven't seen anyone all weekend.  It was raining so I didn't go for my drive and it started raining before I could cover she's out in the rain right now.  Elise is still in School and I know I won't see her for another 6 weeks. top it all, Sevda just sent me "loves from Smyrna."  She is in Izmir where I'd love to be right now.  I told her to give her sister Sevim a hug from me, to go eat at my favorite restaurant, to go get a coffee at the little shop across from my old apartment, and to walk along the Bay after a good night...all of the things I'd love to do.

Honestly...I don't do alone very well.

I watched Troy again.  This quote, by Thetis to Achilles, hit me: "You will find a wonderful woman, and you will have sons and daughters, who will have children. And they'll all love you and remember your name. But when your children are dead, and their children after them, your name will be forgotten."  How true.  Let's say I took Jake around to see the graves of my Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather...what would it really mean to him?  What would it mean to Jonathon and Elise?

I wonder if I'll get to meet Jake's kids.  I'm feeling awfully "mortal" tonight.  ...Tequila, alone, on a Sunday.

Saturday, 23 January: Batchin' It

Kim met Sandy in Gatlinburg this weekend leaving me to my own devices and not much to do, so I planned on a pretty boring weekend.  About the only things going, or so I thought, was a Hockey game in Charlottesville on Friday night and a Grey's Anatomy marathon on DVD. 

Happily, DJ came to town this weekend.  We have been talking about going to a discount sushi place in Waynesboro for about a year, but never had the chance, so she reserved Friday night for me and we went to the Sushi place and then to the Hockey game.  The sushi was fantastic, cheaper than the place here in Lexington, and 40% off. We were spanked by JMU in Hockey.  DJ and I left after the 2d Period when the score was 5-1.

Today DJ and I had a good morning of my Turk kahve and her pecan biscotti, after which we took photos of her in her belly dancing outfits.  I knew she danced, but I didn't know how well.  She is fantastic...better than many I have seen in Turkiye.  The photo session was fun and she looked amazing.  I pulled some of my village rugs out of the basement for effect while she "girled up."  I shot available light, so I had to get her to "freeze" as I pushed the shutter.  It worked out very well actually.

 The rest of the day has been spent with Meredith, Christina, Izzy, and George,  and some 24.


Thursday, 20 January: Marching

I have been in the deepest of slumps lately.  I've been disinterested in most everything.  I'm not sure why.  I can only guess that it is adjusting to being back at work after a long break.  Maybe it is the weather.

Today, Cate came over for me to take her photograph.  She hoped I could take a few she could give her dad for his Birthday.

The photos turned out fantastic.  I set up the night before and all I had to do was meter the shots using the available light from the Dining Room windows, get Cate to relax, frame the shot, and push the shutter.  It was overcast outside, which turned out to give me the perfect soft light.   Actually, there probably isn't a bad light for Cate.  Every photo turned out great. 

Last Saturday the Corps marched in the Governor's Inaugural in Richmond.  They put us at the end of the Parade, the finale if you will, and we Marched the entire Corps in Company Mass Formations.  We were a half a mile long, and, in my opinion, boring.  Next time, I'm going to go to the meetings and try to convince the Supe we need to stand up for our protocol rights and lead the Parade.  That way we won't have to do all the starting and stopping as the other marching units display their talent in front of the reviewing stand.  It was ridiculous.  So much so, that the Cadet First Captain put some distance between us and the Girl Scouts...which allowed a truck to get between us and hold us up.  There was about a 5 minute pause between us and the Girl Scouts and the TV coverage ended in the middle of our pass in review.  Perfect.  But the Cadets looked great and the crowd, especially the VMI crowd, loved us.

NCMT began on Tuesday.  We had a formation of Rats, forming them into their FTX teams early this year and assigning leader positions.  The Cadre held their final dress rehearsal at the same time.  We'll begin round-robin training next Tuesday adding two new stations, Leadership Reaction and MOUT.

With the exception of what I call "The Glacier" at the Cannon Ball, the rain has washed most of the snow away.  You can still see the remnants of the Cadet Snow Fort in the middle of the parade Ground, but that is all that is left there.  This makes me happier.  However, we're expecting ice and a "wintry mix" tonight through Friday.


Sunday, 10 January:  Last Day of Break

Even though I was working last week, I wasn't really working much.  There isn't a lot to do when the Cadets aren't around, and they don't come back until tomorrow night.  Everyone must be back by 2200hrs.  Kim and I have had the house to ourselves all weekend until just a few minutes ago.  Jay and Mike just came in to watch the Pats get beaten.  I'm up in my room typing this so I don't have to watch; I really don't like professional ball.

Thursday we all watched Alabama and Texas play in the Championship Bowl.  Jonathon, Mike, KP, Cate, and Bethany were all here.  Mike cooked; always good.  Like a lot of people, I felt cheated, like when you pay to watch a boxing match on pay-per-view and one of the fighters gets knocked out in the first round.  When Colt McCoy was injured, we lost the chance to see the two "best" teams in the nation play.  Nothing against the kid who came in as quarterback; he did a super job and probably could have done a lot better had his teammates caught the ball, but Alabama GOT  OVER!  Even missing McCoy, Texas gave them a good game.  Had he played, I have no doubt that Texas would have won.

  The weather outside is bright and sunny, but still bitter cold.  This morning as I went in to put up flags, the temperature was 10 degrees.  After that I covered up on the couch to watch Valkyrie.   It was a pretty good history lesson, but the names a faces were just too numerous to sort out.  Except for the historical figures, the parade of blonde actors began to run into each other and it was hard to keep them straight.  The graphics on Ton Cruise's missing hand were weak.  They should have hired the guy who did Gary Sinise's legs in Forrest Gump.    I'll give the whole movie a five out of ten.

Elise has me watching Grey's Anatomy.  It is nothing more than a night tome soap opera, but the women are good looking.  I'm thinking it's going to get a little boring after everyone sleeps with everyone and they run out of miracle surgeries to perform.  I wish I had thought to keep a running total of dead and surviving patients at this hospital.  I'm guessing their success rate is somewhere around 50%.  Take me to another hospital please.

Tonight I'm watching Cannery of my favorite movies of all time.


Sunday, 3 January: Happy New Year

Kim just got home from Ft. Bragg with Elise's truck.  She took the LT to the airport this morning to fly out for a two month school, so it'll be a while before we get to see her again.  She drove in Friday and they both left Saturday morning, so I barely got to see her.  But that left me doing my own thing for the whole weekend.  Well, Jay, KP, and Cate stopped by for a bit, but mostly the weekend was spent in front of the TV and my computer.  Cate was supposed to come over with her camera so I could show her how to use it, but she took a nap that went well into the evening.  That's OK, I'm sure we'll have time to do that soon.

The weather here is cold and I mean "1982-up-in-Canada-cold."  OK, maybe not that cold, but  it looks and feels like the frozen north out there.  I'm so glad that I don't have to work in this kind of weather any more.  Just about the only reason I have gone out of the house in days has been to put up and take down the flags.

Good news from down home: Sylvia just sent Kim and e-mail telling me that Costas in Trussville is open again.  I will have to go out to eat there Tuesday Night.

I have to go in to work tomorrow.  I'll go in about 0800hrs to put the flags up, take an online sexual assault test, go get a haircut, and get my oil changed, organize the raising and lowering of flags Tuesday through Thursday, and then go home.  There really isn't much more for me to do.  I'll leave for Birmingham about 0100hrs Tuesday morning.

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