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the website of john neel

journal-2004-2008- I'm assuming 2009 didn't exist

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

 30 August, 2009:  More Kahve and Biscotti

Dwyn came by again for Coffee and Brought more Biscotti.  I enjoy ese talks; she is a very good conversationalist.  She readily agreed to more photos.  This was her most beautiful and natural look yet, jeans, barefoot, and a nice top.  Her hair is amazing.


13 August, 2008: Red Shoes

Dwyn called and said she was ready to do photographs.  We set side time to do that today, so we met on post and we loaded up Bess with cameras, and went out into the country for the shoot.  I told her to wear something in which she knew she looked good and hoped for the best.  She came in cut off shorts, a tight little top, her long hair pulled up, and red heels.  She looked great.  She was fun, had some great idea, and did everything I asked of her.


2 July, 2009: Kahve and Biscotti

New friend Dwyn, a Washington & Lee Student, came over to talk about joining the military.  She wants to be a Marine officer like her father and seeks my advice of direction, fitness, and a plan.  I met her a while back as she helped the VMI Cheering squad off the ground, a short lived venture, not accepted by the Corps.  She also takes Arabic and Army ROTC on Post.  She always dresses "down" and rarely wears makeup.  She is a pretty girl but doesn't know it and I have decided I will get her to pose for my camera.  I think I can help her realize her potential.  We had coffee out on the back porch as we talked and I took a few photos.  She seemed to enjoy it a lot...especially when I showed her the results.

(I wrote these three Dwyn Posts in 2018 as I remember it happening)



June 2008: Jacob Day

Today we celebrated Jacob's First Birthday.  We had the party out at the other grandparent's house.  It's only a few miles from here and they have a nice pool.  The boy was in rare form and sensed everyone was there just for him. He got lots of presents and we did a little swimming.  The highlight of the day was watching him eat his cake.

Nothing else is going on here.

3 June 2008: Another Neel Joins the Army

Kim woke me up at 0415hrs this morning to see 2LT Elise off.  She is reporting to Knox for her first assignment.  All I could think of to saw was, "Lock your doors, be careful, don't talk to strangers, and don't run with scissors!"  It lightened the mood...for her...not for me.

She called when she arrived and I think she was expecting more.  All they did was assign her a room and give her her schedule for the next four days.  It could have been much worse; she could have been PFC Neel who was put on KP the moment he got to AIT at Ft. Polk.

She hit some really heavy rain when she got to Kentucky.  Though other knuckleheads were pulling off the road, she knew what to do, and slowed her pace and kept driving.  Good Girl!  She's well trained!

So, in the next few days, she'll take a load of classes, draw her gear at CIF, learn to drive a 15 passenger van, and take a PT Test.  She doesn't get her committee assignment until Friday.

2 June 2008: Elise's Last Day Home

Elise and Will will be in tonight for Kim's chicken enchiladas and then she leaves early in the morning for her first duty assignment at Ft. Knox.  Her leaving is really hitting home with me.  She's my Baby!  What the heck was I thinking by encouraging her to go in the Army?  Kidding.

I'm very proud of her and excited for her.  The adventure begins.

I may have to follow her to the West Virginia Border.

Jonathon, Barbara, and Jake come in this weekend.  We'll be celebrating Jake's first birthday.  Kim got him a little basketball goal and I got him hockey sticks. This is going to be fun.

Good run this Morning.

30 May 2008: I hate it when my Computer is down

I've been playing around with my home CPU all day.  Sandy and Kim have convinced me that the Power Supply is the problem, but none of us is sure.  I can get one off E-bay for about $30, but, not knowing that this is definitely the problem, that could be wasted money.

I gotta do something.

All my files are safe.  Think goodness I got the External Hard Drive for Christmas.  I can only imagine what my mood would be like if I had lost any of my music or photo files.  Scary!

Kim's thinking I should just get a new one, but this computer was doing everything I wanted it to before it just wouldn't turn on one morning.  I'm going to hook it up one more time and try it with no peripherals hooked up and see what happens.


29 May 2008: Will Arrives

Tuesday, Elise, Kim and I packed up all Elise's stuff, and what seemed like half of our furniture, in Will's truck and a U-Haul trailer for her big move to Fort Eustace.  I got on the road ahead of them, Wednesday morning, and we all arrived at Eustace at exactly the same time.  I'm such a good planner!

Will and his unit were delayed at McGuire AFB, and didn't get to the Gym until 1800hrs or so.  To pass the time we shopped in the PX, at the Oyster Point Mall, and had lunch at Azteca Mexican Restaurant.

The ceremony was pretty terrible, but it was fun and we're happy to have Will home safe and sound.

We spent the better part of the evening moving Elise's stuff into the Apartment.  Kim and I didn't get back on the road for Lex until 2200hrs.

In less exciting news: I killed my home Computer.  Kim is looking at it today and discussing the symptoms with Sandy.  We think it's the power supply.  And I was doing so well.  Thank the gods I back everything up.

15 May 2008: FTX, Commissioning, Commencement

After finals we saddled up the 4th Class and took them to their little TAB through the George Washington National Forrest.  The weather was moderate and rainy, but mostly sunny on the second day, which was pretty nice for the 4ths.  We rented new radios this year, giving us much greater range.  They worked great.  We also issued MREs this year which saved me a lot of time, but Cadets see them as a meal, and thing they should have three a they don't fit into the scenario as well as as our old "survival meals."  I may have to rethink that again next year.

We used OPFOR this year, which did such a good job that we rarely caught people on the roads.  I think we may have added too much when we asked them to conduct a Recon at one of the phase lines, but I'll never know.  One of the officers on the ground decided it was so late in the day that he put every team on the road, bypassing the 3d phase line.  It turned into a death march with teams stretched out over the whole road, teams split up, and the whole thing looking like some kind of armature operation.  I was livid.  OK.  Pissed off was what I was.  I spent the rest of the afternoon making teams get all their people back together.

No rabbits this year.  I just didn't have a warm and fuzzy about the expertise of the instructors, so I canned it.  Next year, we're going to have to do the Bunny Thump differently.  We added in NVG training this year, but only for a select few.

Overall a good FTX.

Our people began arriving for Elise's Commissioning on Wednesday.  I picked up Eddie at ROA Wednesday morning.  Jonathon, Jacob, Sandy, Mom, Bill and Sylvia came in that afternoon, and Sherry and Summer got in that evening.  Roger Evan and Phil (the Lost Boys) stopped by that afternoon and brought me gifts...some popcorn, chips, and dip, and a bottle of Mt. Dew...standard fair at teach Lost episode.  They also gave me a engraved frame for one of our Lost Boys photos.

We had a crowd by  Thursday morning.  Elise's friends Mike, Christina, Kelly, Erin, Katie and Lauren joined us and, even though I was drawn away saluting ten other Cadets, Elise's Commissioning went great.  Ed commissioned her, Kim, Sylvia and I pinned her, and Jonathon rendered her her first Salute.

I went back in for New Market Parade, but headed back home immediately after.  That night was Elise's party (what she called a Hullabaloo) and it was a good one.   Kimberly did an exceptional job putting it all together and there was plenty of great food and lots of beer and margaritas.  I had a blast for sure.  I think the youngsters finally quit drinking about 3am.

Commencement and Barracks clearance went well.  I'll miss this class.  They were a lot of fun and did it all about as well as it can or will ever be done.

5 May 2008: Elise's New Car

Elise has the newest car in the family. 

She and I got up at 0600hrs Saturday morning and drove to Richmond.  She had been struggling with what she wanted for some time and finally decided on a Camry.  Once she decided that, then she looked for dealers that gave the USAA discount, and then began corresponding with their e-mail sales managers.  She found just what she wanted at a great price.  The only thing that worried us was what they might offer for the 4-Runner.

They were ready for us when we got there.  We test drove the one she thought she wanted, and we were back in no time.  She was hooked.  They offered us a really fair price for the 4-runner and that capped the deal.  We were out of there about an hour later (after watching some competitive baton twirling while the car was "detailed") and on the road to show her car to Chris.

It really is a gorgeous car.

We ate lunch at Schlotzsky's (YUM) and then headed back to Williamsburg to look at Will's storage unit, and then we headed home.  Of course it rained on the way back to Lexington.

Sunday, after my Chessie run, She and I washed and waxed her car.  OK, I did most of the work, she said, "as payment for that birthday present you didn't get me."  I didn't mind; I was already helping Roger wash and wax his car.

1 May 2008: A Nice Drive

Last night I took Bess for a spin around town.  I had not seen her since the weekend and needed some time with her.  I first picked up dinner for Kim and I and then drove around town, slowly, so I wouldn't get bugs on the grill.  A 25mph drive in a Roush Mustang is silly, I know, but, sometimes slow is good.  Too bad it was dark and no one could see her.

The night was nice, so I rolled down the windows, turned on some Boss, and enjoyed Thunder Road, Racing in the Streets, Jungle Land, and Born to Run, accompanied by the rumble of my engine.

I also stopped by Kroger and bought me some chunky Jiff, because the Skippy that Kim bought just ain't gettin it.

My life is so good.

Tonight: Lost with the Lost Boys, Roger, Phil, and Evan.

28APR08: The Weekend

Saturday morning we had a Formal Room Inspection and Alumni Parade.  I got in about 0730 and put on my greens for the 0800hr start.  I was done with my rooms by 0815hrs and goofed off on-line until the Parade at 1100.  The parade went well and then the Alumni came in Barracks for Old of my all time favorite things.  I like the spring alumni weekends.  Since the Rats are out of the Rat Line, there is very little stupid stuff going on.  Of course there is always someone who is going to act the guy who stole the Golf guidon and threw it over the cliff beside Crozet...Just before parade.  I had another.

The rest of the weekend was all mine.  Kim and Elise decided to take a road trip to Bragg for the day, supposedly to shop for combat boots, but I think it was for shopping in general.  They hit at least one outlet mall on the way back.  I think I must have watched four movies, one of which was No Country for Old Men, which has to be the dumbest movie I've seen lately.  It had all the makings of a decent movie, but they just couldn't end it.  Maybe that was the point...endless violence.  I kept wondering if the bad guy would ever run up against anyone worse.  Guess not.  A shotgun with a silencer.  Get real!

I went to bed about 2000hrs, but didn't sleep; I kept  wondering when Kim and Elise would get home.  I got back up and waited on them, and watched another movie.  They got in about midnight.

Sunday was all about my car.  I got up at 0700hrs and drove her to the car wash.  I used the high pressure hose on her undercarriage and wheel wells and then vacuumed the carpets.  Then I took her to the house and detailed the inside, treating the leather and vinyl.   I scrubbed her everywhere, getting the winter grunge out of the hard-to-reach places, and scrubbed the front with my bug rag.  If you don't have a bug rag, it's a must!  Then I waxed and detailed the paint.  Bess looked spectacular, so I drover her around Lexington so everyone would have a chance to share the pretty.

I got the cover on just in time.

It was nice to have a day off.

23APR08: Back from Athens

Yesterday was a long, long day.  I got up about 0100hrs and drove to Athens Georgia for 1st Sgt Luke Mercardante's funeral.  I planned well took lots of Starbuck's coffee drinks.  I got there with plenty of time to change and look at all the Harley's that showed up.  Though the riders were a bunch of rough looking characters, they were all very nice and very patriotic.  Their hearts were in the right place.  The funeral was long, but nicely done.  MAJ Wiggers did a great eulogy and an imitation of "Gunny" that  was perfect.  Of course, when Marines get together they like to bash the Army, so I had to put up with a bit of that.  Let them be proud on a day like this.

The drive down was uneventful, but still, there were too many trucks.  My plan was to go see James Howard '02, in the hospital in Atlanta, but the funeral went so long, and It took me forever to get out of Athens, that I just pointed Bess north and came on back.  That was a good thing; I was beat by the time I got back to Lex.  I rolled back in about 2100hrs.  We have got to do something about the trucks on Interstate 81.

This morning all the guys in the office took all the ladies to Breakfast at the Red Wood Restaurant for Administrative Assistant's Day.  It was inexpensive, but not very good.  In fact, it was pretty bad.   But the company was great.  I like the people I work with.

Tonight I have AOC until midnight and a dinner at the Commandant's house.  Tomorrow I have to go out to the National Forest to check for drop off points for the FTX.

20APR08: The Funeral

"The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Mars Hill Baptist Church. Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. Monday at Lord & Stephens Funeral Home on Jimmie Daniel Road, followed by the saying of the Rosary."~Athens Times

I'm going.

Yesterday was the Range for 2d Battalion 4ths.  It went well.  NCMT is done except for the FTX.  That's a breeze.  Everything is set; it just has to happen.  Summer will be here before I know it.

April 16, 2008: Luke

VMI received some incredibly bad news today.  1st SGT Luke Mercardante, USMC,  was killed in action in Iraq.  Luke was the Gunnery Sergeant for our Marine detachment here at the school , an Honorary Brother Rat to the Class of 2007, and one hell of a man.

Details are sketchy right now, but it looks like he was one of two Marines killed in a vehicle ambush, in Anbar province, Monday.

I'm pretty angry right now, so I'll write about the situation later.  I'll pass info as I hear it .

Semper Fi Gunny!  You will always be The Standard by which I judge all Marines.

April 13, 2008: NCMT Range

Yesterday was the First Battalion M16 Range.  There was a lot to do to get ready, but I had lots of help and the Upper-classmen were super.  Major Mitch and LTC F  were a big help too, making sure the rotations went well, and keeping an eye on things.  They made lots of mid-course corrections to help out.  We'll do the same thing for Second Battalion next Saturday.

Last week we held NCMT Classes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  That leaves us with one more day of training, Tuesday, and then we'll begin final preparations for the FTX.  All the preliminary things are done for that, we just need to brief the 4ths.  The Cadre have put together a great plan.

I been recruiting for the Old Dominion Cotillion which is coming up in July.  I think I need about three more guys, but can do the mission with what I have.   A little more work and I should be good.

My runs are going a lot better.  I've been running at noon because I can't get my sorry butt out of the rack on cold days.  I've been injured since Spring Break, may have cracked a rib, so my gym workouts are at a stand still, but I think I can start back tomorrow.  I walked the Chessie Trail with Courtney this morning , but it began raining.  Rather than chance her getting ill, which would be a bad thing after open-chest surgery, we turned around, went back to the car, and went for breakfast at Aunt Sarah's.  It's good to spend time with her...can't believe how close she came to dying in her car wreck.  We'll try to do something similar at least once a month...walking, not wrecking.

April 2, 2008:

I took the Special Use Permit by the National Forest Service office in Natural Bridge.  After that I took some time and drove the Blue Ridge Parkway back home.  Ah Bess!  What a car!  It was the best time I've had in her in a while.  I took it slow and enjoyed the view.  Beautiful.

We're getting different Radios for FTX this year.  We'll be renting some with much greater range than the hand-held CBs we've been using for the last 5 years.  This should negate a lot of the risks we take every year.  I got those on order yesterday too.

I have OC tonight and Barracks is pretty quiet.  I think I'll get more sleep than usual.

Court stopped by tonight.  It was good to see her, but I had to get outside for Taps, so I only saw her for about 10 minutes.

Kim just got back from W-S and seeing the kids and Jacob.  I wish I had gone.

March 31, 2008: Spring FTX

Every year, about this time, VMI conducts their Spring FTX.  All of the service ROTCs take their contracted Cadets away for training, leaving about half the Corps in Barracks.  We engage those Cadets with Community service projects like roadside clean-up, working with the local Habitat for Humanity, SPCA, and Hospice.  We also do a good job of cleaning up Post and helping the different agencies at VMI haul away their trash, broken furniture, and surplus stuff.

I spent the better part of Saturday looking for a possible new NCMT FTX Training Area.  The boss wants to see if there is an area close by that is longer, but less steep.  I can't find one.  I drove miles throughout the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, way back in the backwoods of Virginia and West Virginia, but had no luck.

The area I use now is perfect.  It's bordered by distinguishable features to block in lost groups, has a good road network for communication, shallow streams for water, and the river that runs through it is only about waist-deep.  It is a tough test getting from one end to the other, but teams do it every year.  I think it's perfect.

Perhaps that is why I couldn't find anything better.   Humm?  Yep!  Probably.

Yesterday, I went for a run and then watched a movie in the morning, and then Rad details all over Post to pick up Trash.  The cadets dod a great job.

This morning, I came in to watch the details go out with the Physical Plant folks to work around Post.  When they were all dispatched, I went to get a coffee and to see Courtney at the Lexington Coffee Shop.  I had a good time talking to two old WWII paratroopers who were there. 

This afternoon it was more of the same.

Tomorrow, I'm supposed to be running a range for the Air Force Department.  It looks like it'll be rained out.

March 20, 2008: Spring Break

I went to Bama to see Mom and family this past Monday.  Kim and I stayed for four days and that was enough.  

 We got home about 1pm Monday afternoon and went right to Bill and Sylvia's house.  Aunt Barbara, Bill's sister and Kim's aunt was there , visiting from Texas.  It was good to see her.  We had not seen her since Uncle Luke died.

Barbara and Luke's house was our second home when Kim and I were dating.  I would drive up to Raleigh every free weekend and Kim would stay with them for months.

We also spent time with my brother Jim and nephew Colin, Kathy, Kim's high school friend and Sally and Dan.  I ate Costa's BBQ, Milo Burgers, Jim and Nick's BBQ, and ate at Nabeel's...most of my favorite places.

The balance of my time was spent with Mom...just talking and working on the Family Tree.

We headed home Thursday morning.

March 9, 2008: One of My Favorite Things

I took photos of Britt and Bree today.  I can't take a bad photo of these two; they are just too pretty.

I washed Bess, but not like I wanted to.  My plan was to scrub her by hand and get into all the nasty, hard-to-reach spots, but it's too cold for that still.  I'll fix her up in Alabama week after next.

I worked on Kim's car again for a bit, but can't figure out where it's leaking.  I'll have to take it in to the shop tomorrow.

March 8, 2008: Elise and Will's Engagement

Big news! Will proposed to Elise and I said it was OK.  It was one of those foregone conclusions...I knew it was coming and so did everyone else, we just had to all go through the steps.

Will came back to The World on Friday for mid-tour leave.  Elise met him at the Airport and too=k him to Centerville to surprise his parents, and then brought him home to Lex.  He sat down in the War Room with me for a while and I, of course, gave my consent and then gave him the same speech Bill Dennis gave me when I asked for Kim's hand.

Will took her out running on the Chessie Trail and proposed there; where they became interested in each other, I think, while on Army FTX.  Hummm.  She came home from the trail sporting a rock about the size of Rhode Island.  They set the date tonight and picked Bridesmaids and Groomsmen.  Looks like a beach wedding in May '09.

I couldn't ask for a better guy for my baby.  I'm good to go.

March 4, 2008:  Quiet Night

I love mid-term exams.  I didn't like them much when I was in school, bit they are a great thing for the OC on a warm, spring-like night in early March.

Yesterday was sunny and beautiful and I believed I would have my hands full with Cadet antics during the night, but it was very quiet all night.  As I walked the stoops, most cadets were pretty much studying.  I didn't see any instances of students huddled around a computer screen playing Call to Duty or watching a movie, which is normal.  After taps, there was hardly anyone on the stoops.  Lights were pretty much out by 0100hrs.

We announced the Cadet leadership for next year last night.  I was happy to see that, even though I had much less influence this year, the Sergeants Major translated to the top leadership slots in the Regimental System.  To me, this is proof positive that the Corps does a great job selecting the best Cadets for Regimental Sergeant Major and the two Battalion Sergeants Major.

March 2, 2008

Today I made the bad mistake of  trying to fix Kim's  car heater.  A while back, we took it into a repair shop to have some work done and they buggered up the fittings to the heater core.  We had some guys we trust look at it, and they suggested by-passing the core by connecting the heater hoses.  Of course this left us without heat.  Well, I just spent the better part of the afternoon busting my knuckles, only to find out that when they bent the fittings, they put a nice little crack in the right fitting; right at the fire wall.  After I got it all hooked up, the damn thing started leaking like a punctured artery.

All I could do was cut the right hose, and hook the two back together again.  Price tag for getting this fixed?  About $900.  God I miss Little Car, my 1989 MR2.  I used to do everything for that car, because it was so damn easy.  This is the difference between a Mazda and a Toyota.

When Elise leaves for the Army, Kim and I are going to have to trade.

I took out the garbage and cleaned my shotgun...which is about the only productive thing I've done all day.  The team called and they beat Citadel 11-1 today at Annapolis.

Elise and Will are coming into Lex tonight, and Kim will be back tomorrow.  I have OC tomorrow night, and, happily, it is the next-to-the-last one I have this semester.

February 29, 2008: Nothing to do Today but Smile.

Well, that was quick.  I had to cancel the range this weekend because the supplier "forgot" to ship the ammo.  Oh, sorry, we forgot.  Huh?  Well' I'm not too broken up about it, but I would have been happy to go into next week with nothing to do.

I sent the Hockey team to Annapolis with one of the Army ROTC Instructors since Coach and I couldn't go.  Now it seems I could have.

Since there is no range this Saturday, I'll be able to spend time with the ladies of the Old Dominion Cotillion, though that requirement has diminished as well.  The Chaperone e-mailed me this morning to say that many had backed out and that all that would be visiting would be five young ladies and two chaperones.  I'll go see them at Parade, possible eat with them at the Crozet, and sit with them at the game.

The big news is that Will comes back from Iraq this weekend.  Elise picks him up at Dulles today.  They'll spend some time with his family in Centerville this weekend and then come in to Lex on Monday.  It'll be good to see him.  My daughter is pretty happy.

Kim is in Tennessee this weekend...with my car.  I'm so going to fix her heater and then ban her from driving mine.  Probably not, but I can think that.  Anyway, with Kim and Elise gone, I'll be home alone all weekend...bored.

 February 22, 2008 *: Seeing the Sights

Kim and I are still in Wilmington, about to go see the town.

February 21, 2008


Kim and I are in Wilmington NC for the BRHC Hockey playoffs.  The team will play ODU tonight at ten o'clock.

We made the trip in a nice Bus, thanks to the kindness of the Cadet Life Team.  This is the way to go.  I slept half of the way.

Now we're in the hotel, letting the boys get some much needed rest before the game.  I hope it pays off; we'll need to be on our best game to beat ODU.


We lost 4-3, but it was probably the best game I have ever seen a VMI team play.  We led most of the game 2-0, but they came back and tied it, then went one ahead.  The  scored to make it 3-3, and then they scored in the last two minutes.  It was a great try.

February 17, 2008: Little Victories

Now this was a good weekend!  First we beat Lynchburg College in Hockey.  It was a spirited game on both sides.  We out skated them and they had a great game at the net.  We controlled the Ice, and they had some super plays.  They hit harder and we skated around them.  We ended the game one point ahead, but it could have been their game as well.  Court went with me to the game, her first hockey game, which made it even more fun to win.

Saturday afternoon, I ran the NCMT 9mm Pistol range.  That went very well, but I need more time and more rounds.  We only had a half day to fire all the 4th classmen, and only enough rounds to let each 4th fire 16 rounds.  But, the rotations were smooth and the upper class coaches and staff did a great job.  I got home by 1800hrs, which was a surprise.

Next year, I want to run a 40 round qualification course.

I watched the Silver Surfer FF4 and Spiderman 3 this weekend.  I didn't think they were that bad.

This week is NCMT on Tuesday, Ranger Challenge Skeet Shoot on Wednesday, and Hockey Play-offs in Wilmington this weekend.

February 11, 2008: Jonathon and Jake

Jake and Jonathon drove in through the wind and the Roanoke firestorm.  Luckily they came in on Highway 220, because I81 was shut down.  They made it in time for me to see Jake before going to bed.  I wish Barbara had come too.

We gave Elise an iPhone for her Birthday.  This thing is so cool...I need one.

Jay and I are going begin watching Dune tonight.  Can't wait.

 February 9, 2008: Elise's Birthday

Today is my beautiful daughter's 23d Birthday...what Will, her boyfriend, calls "The 29 days of Elise-mas."  We opened presents when she got up, and we'll do dinner with friends tonight.  It'll be a margarita night at Don's.

Last night we were beaten by CNU Hockey.  They had two really good guys that skated circles around us.  Once they were thrown out of the came, along with two of our best players, we played them a lot better.  A lot of the Cadets came to see the game.  Too bad it wasn't a win.

This morning I watched Islands in the Stream with George C. Scott.  Not a very good movie, but a good story.  I expected more from the cast.  After that, I finally got to the Christmas Trees and took them downstairs for storage.  I also spent time getting the battery out of Kim's car so I could trade it for a new battery.  No such luck.  This is a special battery that no one carries in stock.  I'll have to order one from the parts store.  Where is my MR2?

Basketball was exciting today.  VMI beat Coastal Carolina, coming from 15 points down to win by....uhh...about 8.  The whole Corps was there and the Alumni crowd was big.

February 8, 2008: Army Dining In

Last night was one of the best Army Dining-Ins I've ever attended.  It was well run and pretty darn funny.  Mister Vice did a great job and had the whole place under control.  The guest speaker's comments were spot on and just what future LTs needed to hear (Ok...I wasn't sold on the whole Civvies Technique...must be some SOF thing I wouldn't understand).  The food was good and the whole set-up was very nice.  The video that the Cadets made for entertainment was hilarious.  I went dreading the event, but had a good time.

The only part I didn't like was asking the Men in Gray to sing, but during a time when the Mess was adjourned.  Everyone was talking and the lads couldn't be heard over the noise.  It was a shame; the looked like they sounded good.

Loved the Gummy Army Men!

February 6, 2008: Skeet

Since Breakout, I've been pretty busy.  I took Court to dinner the other night.  I hadn't spent any time with her since her accident and open chest surgery, so we we went to Don's for a talk and food.  It was good to see her doing so well, and she seems to really have her head together this time.  Her scar is a sight to see, running from her neck to her stomach, but she doesn't seem self-conscious about it.

Last weekend I went with the Hockey Team to Charlotte to play App State.  They beat us, in a hard fought game, 7-4.  The score really doesn't tell the whole story...the boys played well, and hard.  App State had a couple of lucky breaks and we missed about three great plays or the score would have been reversed.

I drove back after the game to deliver five of the cadets to ROTC Control activities on Saturday morning.  I needed to be back anyway to help run the Skeet Range for some Alums.  The fledgling Skeet Team came out to meet and greet.  It went well, and we made some good contacts that will help us get started.

I've been shooting a lot, but I'm not getting any better; I need some serious coaching.

Yesterday we had the second day of NCMT.  It went well.  I enjoy getting out of my office, that's for sure.

Tomorrow is the Army Dining-In...woohoo.  Elise graduates this year, so this should be my last one.

This Friday is the team's next-to-the-last home Hockey game.

January 26, 2008: Breakout

The Class of 2011 broke out of the Rat Line today.  Since I couldn't road march (Pulled Back), I took the Advanced Party up to New Market Battlefield to control spectators, park cars, position busses, place the Port-o-Johns, and help with the howitzers if needed.

The rats got up this morning to the sound of Little John and M16 fire.  The marched 12 miles from Lacey Springs Elementary School, carrying a ruck with a 35lb sandbag.  At the battlefield, they did sandbag PT, and then pulled the 105mm howitzers up to the Federal artillery position from the Field of Lost Shoes.  After a class photo, they rode busses back to VMI for a class dinner and then Old Yells in the Courtyard.

It was a cold day, but a good one.

January 25, 2008: Hay Down and Optional

I kind of slept in this morning.  I got up at 0610hrs, took a shower, ate a small breakfast, curled up on the couch with my heating pad, and, because I hurt so bad, took two Vicodin.  I was out!  Kim came downstairs about 1100hrs and I was still not moving.  When I finally got to my feet, my back felt great though my brain was still a little loopy.

I went on in to work anyway.

I organized a few things like riding to New Market with the Breakout battlefield detail and the Wintergreen Special Olympics detail, but the most important thing was uploading Front Page to my new laptop from the P-Drive.   Now I can work on my web site anywhere.

I got VMI to set me up with a new laptop and docking station so that I can stay in touch and work even on hockey trips.  I swear I travel more than anyone on post.  OK, maybe admissions and the Supe travel more.  No matter.  The new computer is going to really help out.

Now that I'm feeling better. I'm looking forward to doing a couple of things--going to see Courtney (I've asked her out for tomorrow night), who I haven't seen since her wreck, and going to the skeet range and shooting my new Shotgun.  Monday we have a home basketball game, NCMT will be Tuesday, hockey practice Friday, and skeet on Thursday.  If Coach goes with the team Wednesday, maybe I can shoot Wednesday and Thursday.

We get to keep Jake this Sunday afternoon.

January 23, 2008: Ouch

Today I’m lying on my back with, what the doctor thinks is a pulled muscle, but I’m sure he’s wrong. This hurts so badly that I’m sure this is the beginning of the end. I’ve certainly learned not to yell at Cadets, because that is what I was doing when my back froze up yesterday. I almost Fell on my face going up the stairs from the Bandwell. I struggled back to my office and sat in my chair, which was locked in the rocked back position as it sometimes does, an suffered. I sat through the Promotion Board interviews, and then went to the house, set up pillows to support my head and knees, begged Kim to find the heating pad, and crashed on the couch.

I called Holly and let her know where I was.

This morning I woke up in pain. I stumbled into the shower and let the hot water run on my back, but that didn’t help. I went back to the couch. I called my Doc and went in about 1000hrs. The good man proscribed Vicodin. I hope to go back to work tomorrow.

Thank God for Kim. She's really being a good sport fetching everything I have to have on every whim, and even dressing me. I keep telling her that this is how it will be when I'm older. It is a wonder that she hasn't run away screaming.

January 21, 2008: Good Day

Today was a great day for New Cadet Military Training.  BG Green gave approval to fire pistols on the outdoor range, the signs came in for the land navigation course, and the state gave me permission to buy 5 top-of-the-line GPSs with ETF Funds.  We're cooking.

I sat in on the promotion board interviews today.  The went as inspected and my Color Guard folks did very well and impressed everyone.

Tonight I'm in Barracks at CQRB for a sweat party.   CQRB stands for "Call to Quarters, Release in Barracks," a time just before TAPs for visiting, games, rowdiness, and such, for those of you who aren't VMI.

Tomorrow we're supposed to get more nasty weather.

January 20, 2008: A Tough Game and Visiting Winston-Salem

We left Hampton on Saturday morning in a snow fall.  Luckily, it wasn't cold enough for it to stick, and we ran out of it when we got to Richmond.

We wandered around Short Pump Mall for about an hour before the game, then took on Virginia Commonwealth University Club Hockey.  They were a fast team but we played them well.  The problem with this game were the officials.  I have never seen so many bad calls.  VCU came out checking hard in the second period, and when we began to return the favor, the Refs, I think, began to think they were loosing control, so they began to call every check as a penalty.  It took us over an hour to play the second period and we played most of it short-handed...sometimes five on three.  The were up by two a the end of the second.

The third period was better and they let us play.  It was fast and furious out there on the Ice, but we just couldn't get the puck in the net.  The final score was 5 to 3.

Today Kim, Elise, and I drove to Winston-Salem to see Jonathon, Barbara, and Jake.  It was a fun trip.  Jake is pulling himself to a standing position now and walking around the furniture.  I'm sure he's going to be an early walker.

January 19, 2008: Victory over William and Mary!

We had a big win over W&M last night. We traveled to Hampton Iceplex for the game and they played us hard with a reduced roster and we were playing three full lines for the first time in two years. They got out in front of us by two points and we tied it in the third period. We scored with about a minute left in Overtime, winning it 3-2. I was very impressed with their heart; they played very hard and must have been smoked by the end of the game. Our team skated well, and Dana Daly was a welcome addition to the Box as Coach. This guy knws what he is doing.

We leave for Richmond today for a game against VCU. This is a big, fast team with about thirty players. We're going to have to skate our best to beat them.

January 17, 2008: Snow

It snowed today, but we didn't get the two feet predicted.  It was more like six inches, maybe eight.  Gladly it is not enough to cancel our Hockey Trip, but just enough to cancel the Parade on Friday.  So, we're off for Hampton after classes tomorrow.

Did I take any photos of the snow?  Hell no.  I despise that stuff.

If you really have to see, Kim posted some good photos on her Flickr site.  Go Here.

January 16, 2008: NCMT

Monday was my Birthday.  Kady gave me a nice O/U 12guage so I can begin the process of learning to knock down some skeet.  This is going to be big fun.

Tuesday Mil Duty saw the start of New Cadet Military Training for this year.  The NCMT Staff did a good job putting together a good brief for the Rats and I had a few words.   Can't wait to get into the whole process.  This training modem is the best part of my job.  Thanks Magnus!

Tonight, I pushed the team out for practice in Lynchburg.  We have about 4 more new skaters which should make us a lot more competitive.  Two are skaters from past teams that have really been missed.  I'm counting three full lines which will be great.

I'm off to Hampton Roads and Richmond this weekend with them.  We play W&M Friday night and then VCU Saturday.  Coach can't go, so I'll be in the box.  High adventure!

Sunday I'm going to see Jonathon, Barbara, and Jake.

January 14, 2008: Hockey

This past weekend I traveled with the Hockey Team to Charlotte for a game against UNC-Charlotte.  We skated hard and led them most of the game, but ran out of gas with three minutes left in the third period.  We just didn't have enough of out team at the game.  With the Score 4-2, they scored three quick points.  With about 45 seconds go, we pulled our goalie hoping to tie the game, but the puck came loose and they backhanded the final goal into out empty net.  If we had had a couple of extra players, we probably could have won that game.

That night we crashed in the Quality Inn in Monroe NC, got up late and drove to Raleigh.  One of out fine Alums bought us all tickets to the Hurricanes vs. Avalanche game.  That was fun, and I spent the third period in the right corner behind the visiting goal, right on the glass.  It was fantastic...except that I was up close to see the Canes allow three goals in the third and lose the game.  It was like a re-play of our game the night before.

The Corps came back last night, and it was good to see them.  I pulled AOC but sat in my office most of the night talking to returning Cadets.

Today is my Birthday.  I'm fifty-five.

January 4, 2008: Happy New Year.

I just got back from California.  I went with the VMI Band to the Tournament of Roses Parade.  The Cadets did a super job and it was a good trip.

We rode out and back on a C17 flown by a VMI grad.  That was cool.  The crew was super and took every Cadet up to see the cockpit for a tour.  I flew in the navigator's seat coming back.  Take off was fun, but the landing was spooky.  I don't know why it got to me, but it did.

The second day, we visited and marched in Disney Land, the third, we participated in toured the floats, took a photo at the stadium, Bandfest.  On the the fourth day we met the local alumni on Huntington Beach for a BBQ.  The Alums really made the whole thing possible with donations and coordinating what we needed.  It was a big, costly endeavor.

We took a well deserved day off on the 5th day, and then marched in the Parade on day-six.  I'd say we were very well received and took standing ovations at Bandfest and plenty of cheers on the Rose Parade route.  Sadly, I heard a few boos when we passes a section of the crowd; anti-war folks I'd guess.  Mostly everyone was very gracious and I had loads of people tell me what polite young people we had.

It was a nice trip, and COL Brodie and CPT Mitchell did a great job administering it, but I was ready to come home.

December, 26, 2007: I'm with the Band

I'm off to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl and the parade early tomorrow.  The band will be marching in the The Tournament of Roses Parade this year.  They'll also march at Disney Land and play for a band event. Alabama boy in Pasadena.  I'm sure I'll blend.

Christmas was fun.  It was Jacob's first one, and he we well impressed with the paper and the ribbons...could have cared less for the presents.  The poor little lad had a pretty bad cold and was restless and a bit fussy, but nothing can spoil that smile.

Jay and Barbara had to leave yesterday.  I'm sure they were glad to get home.

I'll be glad to get this trip underway and over with.  I can't even tell you who's playing in the Rose Bowl...USC and somebody, I guess.

December 23, 2007

It was a beautiful day in Lexington.  It didn't start out that way and I put the flags up in the rain this morning, but by noon it was warm, sunny and calm.  It's going down to 30 tonight and the wind-chill will make it feel like it's about 19. Yay.

Jonathon, Barbara and Elise went to a party last night, so I have to go fetch cars with them this morning.  Elise called her mom to come get her and Jay and Barbara walked home.  Good Children!

Mom, Bill and Sylvia came in today and the car was full of packages and food.  Tuesday should be fun.

December 21, 2007

Not much going on today.  Elise got back from NOVA and we watched Monster House together, which was fun.  It must have been a kid-movie day; I started the day off with Nanny McPhee, which was pretty good.  Kelly Macdonald stole the show.

We had a sprinkling of snow on the ground this morning.  It made my walk in to put up the flags this morning quite picturesque.  I live in a garden.

The family comes in this weekend.

December 19, 2007

Monday and Tuesday of this week were the last two days of finals.  

Monday, there wasn't much to do but some final preparation for the Band Company trip to the Tournament of Roses Parade. The glass guy came to replace Bess'es windshield.  I caught a big rock a few months back that put a nice hole all the way through the glass, right above the VIN number.

Tuesday was pretty busy with Commissioning in the morning, Commencement at 1300hrs, and then Barracks Close-out by 1700hrs.  I got to give 2LT Diggs his first salute...big honor.  L.E. held her annual Christmas Party Tuesday night.  The food, like always, was super.  It got pretty rowdy as the night went on and Elise was part of the rowdiness.  We left early so I could get her out of there.

I'll be off duty until the 27th.  Sandy is coming in Friday, Jonathon, Barbara and Jake will be here Saturday morning, and Mom, Bill and Sylvia will be here Sunday.  We're going to have a house full.

13 November, 2007:

Last night was the Corps Thanksgiving Dinner.  I attended the late seating with the First Class.  Kim had a cold, so I attended alone and was met at the door of Crozet by Miss Ray.  I sat with her, Miss Mills and four of their Rats.  The meal was super, but entirely too much food.  

This past weekend, my BR CPT Jim Bean stayed at the house.  He was in to visit Mother I, while his wife is deployed to Iraq .  This poor couple has been separated most of their married life, first by his deployment to Iraq and now by hers.  I wonder how many more stories like this are out there.  

This weekend is the VMI-Citadel game.  The VMI ticket office is saying that they have sold 10,000 tickets for the game, so this will probably be a busy weekend.  A few people from the Old Dominion Cotillion will be here.  I’ve enlisted two cadets to escort them around post, tour the museums, and to sit with them at the parade and football game.  This is also Ring Figure Weekend around here, so there will be plenty going on.  Personally, all I have to do is attend the Class Dinner Thursday night and watch barracks as AOC Friday, and then it’s the football game.

Tonight, Kim and I went to the VMI Basketball game.  We left when VMI hit 101 points...60 more than the team they were playing.  I felt sorry for the other team; hockey has been on the other side of the same kind of ass whipping.

12 November, 2007: My Losing Weekend

Well, this weekend’s 505 sporting events could not have sucked more.  Beginning with VMI being smashed by Liberty in football, and AU being crushed by Georgia , the weekend continued with two major league ass whippings of the VMI Club Hockey Team byLiberty and Richmond .  I think we need to re-look a lot of things at VMI.  

There is no way we’re going to ever compete at the level we play…not in this day and age.  We need to stop playing schools four times our size and play teams like us.  Even if we don’t change our NCAA level, we have to stop playing non-conference games likeRichmond , William & Mary, Liberty , West Point , Navy, and JMU.  All this does is beat down our tam, set them up for injury, and teach them to lose.  Screw the money that we make playing them.  Let’s give the boys a chance.

As for Hockey, we need to look for another league to play in.  The guys we play all have their own ice, get much more practice time, have more students to draw from, and so on. Hell, Liberty ’s D2 team that we played Saturday night had twice the players who out weighed us 20 pounds per man. We’re never going to be successful if we play teams like that only practicing an hour-and-a-half a week.  

Auburn is another matter.  I have no solutions for Auburn .  Why would I?  I don’t know anything about Football.  We win games we shouldn’t and lose games we should win.  It’s an Auburn thing.  We’re used to it.  War damn Eagle!  

Sunday was better.  After a walk on the Chessie Trail with Courtney, I took 6 cadets to Richmond for the Veteran’s Day memorial service at the Virginia War Memorial.  We helped COL Seaton ’41 place a VMI Wreath at the end of the ceremony.  Afterwards, we went to the Museum of the Confederacy …which was Outstanding!  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It was overwhelming seeing the actual uniforms of so many of my Southern heroes…Stewart, Jackson, Lee, Bragg…and the list went on-and-on.  I cannot believe that Lexington didn't get this Museum.  It would have been a great addition to the town.

8 November, 2007: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys (Evan Roddenberry, Roger Leonhart, and Phil McClusky) came over tonight for a Journeyman marathon.  We were behind three episodes and watched them all tonight.  Great show, if your not watching.  The boys brought Pizza and I supplied the chips, dip, drinks, and popcorn.  We're patiently waiting on the return of Lost.

All of the Army Cadets, including Elise, got their branches today.  Elise got Signal Corps, branch detailed Chemical Corps.  She'll have to spend two years in Chemical before going to Signal.  If she applies herself while she's in, this could turn into a really good job when she gets out.  I was hoping she'd get MPs, but this will do nicely.

This weekend, I have only one Hockey Game, Saturday night.  I will be taking a group of Cadets to a Veteran's Day ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond on Sunday, but this time, I'm using the trip to do something I'm interested in.  After the ceremony, I'll take the Cadets to lunch and then visit Cold Harbor Battlefield before coming back.  I'm tired of VMI sending us to all these historical places with nothing to show for it.  it hit me as we were returning from a trip to Washington DC, as we drove past Chancellorsville Park where Jackson was shot, that we were wasting a golden opportunity.  I'll never let that happen again.

7November, 2007:  Feeling Better

I’ve been listening to nothing but Bruce Springsteen all day today.  God!  I LOVE this music.  I need to buy the new album.  

After pulling duty Monday night, I’ve done nothing but just want I want to do.  I’ve caught up on tons of work, sitting as if chained to my desk, daring anyone to make me move.  I haven’t run, haven’t been to the gym, and haven’t walked the Stoops one moment.  I’m not going to ice practice tonight so I can play with my grandson and watch a movie with my boy.


We watched Fracture which was a pretty good mystery movie.  I sure didn't figure it out until the very end.

5 November, 2007: OC

I’m on OC tonight and not too happy about that.  I really need to stop all this extracurricular stuff so I’ll have more time for family and ME.  Hell, I had to take Bess through a car was last night.  I know!  But, it was brushless and did a pretty good job.  

This past weekend, I was in Raleigh .  We played NC State’s Division III team Friday night and played them well.  They were up by two points, but we came back making it 2-2.  Then we traded points until the end of the third period; score: 7-7.  They scored in overtime, ending the game.  The Alumni in the area really turned out for the game and then took us to dinner at Crazy Fire Mongolian BBQ the next day.

We played Radford Saturday night.  These guys were huge and outnumbered us by about ten players.  The boys probably played their best game of the season, but an injury to one of our best players threw us into confusion in the second period and Radford outscored us 5-2.  We played to a draw in the first, and beat them 1-0 in the third.  The final score was 3-5.  

I got home Saturday night to a house full of folks.  Kim’s best high school friend, Kathy, was up for a visit, Jonathon, Barbara, and Jake were up from Winston-Salem , and Elise was home.  We all watched the Pats beat the Colts.  

Still ill.  I need to get in a run.

1 November, 2007: On Another Road Trip

    I'm off for North Carolina tomorrow for another Hockey trip.  We play UNC club hockey Friday night, rest over night in Raleigh, travel to Lynchburg for a game with Radford, stay over night in Lynchburg, and then return to VMI Sunday morning.

    I have OC Monday night.

    I still feel like hell.

31 August, 2007: Cadre Week and Hell Week  

Cadre week went well.  The 7 mile run over Jacobs Ladder was good.  I passed quite a few cadets this year, but they were the ones on crutches.  Kidding.  I guess I’m not as slow as I thought.

I taught my 1-hour block on NCO leadership to the Corporals and Sergeants, and I think that was well received.  Now I need to teach it to all the other NCOs who aren’t cadre.

Four hundred and sixty-five Rats came in on 25 August.  That’s quite a few, but the number began to dwindle down during the week.  We had lost twenty-three by the end of the week, and have lost about five more after the Rat Crucible.

Some changes this year included putting the whole Corps in ACUs, moving the Bedford trip to later on in the semester, and deleting the Blue Ridge Run.  These changes gave us much more time to march and train…and I can tell the difference.

This weekend is the first football game, the New market march, and Rat Oath ceremony…all of which I’m missing.  My Uncle Gene died and the funeral is in Montgomery on Saturday.  I’ll be driving Bess down Friday morning and not coming back until Sunday Morning.

I’m also missing the Auburn game on my new LCD HD TV.  Bummer!


13 August, 2007: Summer’s End

Today is the last day of my summer; Cadre began arriving last night.  The C1C stayed at the house and he and the RXO brought over Arby’s for Dinner.  I think it is all beginning to sink in that they are in charge.  The RXO stated last night at it all seemed really surreal, that is seems like just the other day that he was here sitting with his mom and now he was at the SGM’s house eating Arbys.

It seems that way to me every year.  It’s very heard to believe that I am beginning my 7th academic year here at VMI.

I scrubbed Bess down yesterday and put her up on Blocks looking for the little bump I have under the right front when I hit a bump. I wiggled and shook everything, I tightened bolts, I inspected tailpipes and mufflers, and still, I couldn’t find a thing.  It’s driving me nutsy-crazy!  While I was washing her, I noticed the mud guard inside the wheel well on that side was loose.  I’m going home tonight to try and re-seat it.  I can only hope that fixes the problem.

Elise got home from Camp on Wednesday.  She did really well and looks great.  She had a lot of trouble with her foot in the last few days, but she was finished with all of her evaluations, so it didn’t matter.  You could tell she had a good experience there, but she was really over the people.  Block Checked!  Now she can get her foot well and do all of that fun MS4 stuff in AROTC.  It’s going to go too fast for Dad.  Before I know it, my little girl will be in the Army…and they better look out!

Elise and Kim brought Jake home with them from Winston Salem.  Jay called and asked for Kim’s help for a day because Barbara had a bad headache, so she went down on Thursday.  Elise followed up on Friday and they came back Friday night, grandchild in tow.  The boy is so much fun but he is a lot of work.  The boy wants to be constantly moving while he’s awake.  My arms feel like I’ve had a really good gym session.

We begin Cadre Week with a 7 mile run tomorrow morning.  I’m actually looking forward to that.  I’m slow, but I’ll do alright.  Rats come in Saturday.  We’re off and running.


29 July, 2007: A Nice Drive

Sunday I got up early and went for a run on the Chessie.  When I got home, I went right to work on Bess, giving her a scrub and shining her up.  She looked great, and needed a good drive.   I got a call from LC wanting to take the photos we had talked about for so long, so, that afternoon, I took her out on one of her favorite back roads.  She brought a few outfits to wear, great heels, and her hair was red.   We'd take photos in one outfit, she change in the car, and we'd begin again.  We had a blast. It was probably the finest day of photography I had all year.  I wish more of my people were as cooperative.


28 July, 2007: Pre-Strains Gone

    The "Pre-Strains," what we call future Rats, left yesterday.  I'm glad.  I didn't have much contact with them this year, but I was not impressed by many of them.  The First Class has a lot of work to do.  LTC L-Train and I went to Don's last night to celebrate their departure and an empty least for a week.  The Football team returns next Sunday week.

    Elise continues to do well at camp.  Kim and I got a letter from her yesterday.  It has some pretty funny stuff in it, including the fact that her battle buddy wears "scrunchies."  If that's the only problem Elise has at camp, she must be doing very well indeed.  She'll be home on the 7th.

    After getting Bess'es front end aligned, I took her up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a spin.  I was cruising the curves at a reasonable speed but got behind a guy in a Camry going below the speed limit.  I didn't crowd him, but he picked up the pace to about 60 and I stayed with him till we came to a passing zone.  I down shifted and passed him easily.  I looked down and I was taking a tight right corner at 70mph...and it felt like about 50.  Amazing is what my car is.  I came way off the speed quickly.  I need to stop!


19-22 July, 2007: Observations on Being Temporarily Single

    Kim is in Florida and Elise is at Advanced Camp.  I miss them, but there are a few things I've started to notice since they left--

  • I don't have to fish hair out of the drain in the bathtub before my shower.

  • There are no dirty footprints in the shower.

  • The toothpaste is always at the top of the tube.

  • There are no cars parked the wrong way on the street in front of the house.

  • Elise's car is clean and a convenient ride to the store or the Chessie Trail.

  • Kim's car always has the cover over it.

  • I have only had to take out the garbage once this week...and the bag was only half empty.

  • Bustopher eats only for Kim unless I feed her by hand on the coffee table.

  • I still put the Toilet Seat down, on the off chance some girl comes over, to back up to the bowl, without looking, and might fall in if I don't.

  • The remotes are all on the coffee table...where I left them.

  • I can hear everything on the TV, because the Surround Sound is on...LOUD.

  • The best place to leave your cup of water is on the rug, so that water doesn't go everywhere when Bustopher tips it over.

  • There are no shoes lying all over the house.

  • The UPS man hasn't stopped by in days.  Neither has the FedEx man...hence, no empty boxes to take out.

  • I make a lot less trips up-and-down the stairs to "come look at this" and "come do something for me."

  • I haven't been to Don Tequila's since Kim left.

  • I haven't seen Judge Judy or Judge Alex in days and glorious days.  No Golf, No Tennis, No Sports of any kind, No Doctor Phil!

  • The History Channel is still Awesome!

  • Cats shed and poo...a lot!

  • Dirty dishes stack up very quickly, even with a dishwasher.

  • Magazines and books look better when stacked largest-to-smallest.

  • Grilling hotdogs for one, though delicious, is not much fun.

  • My Wal-Mart lounge chair looks great on the back porch.

  • I can empty a refrigerator in no time flat. 

  • I really have no life outside of Kim and Elise.

18 July, 2007: Roush Suspension, Alabama, and the ODC

    I just picked up Bess from the Shop.  With my Barracks Supervisor money, I bought Roush Shocks, Springs, and Anti-Sway Bars. The difference is striking.  She is about 1/2" lower to the ground in front and 1" lower in the back.  The ride is stiffer, making Rockbridge County bumps a lot more noticeable, but on curves she handles like...dare I say it...a friggin Roush Race Car.  Roush Performance did a great job...again.  I'll take her to get the front alignment checked at 1400hrs tomorrow...then I think she needs to go to Goshen, don't you?

    This past weekend was the Old Dominion Cotillion (ODC) in Chantilly.  The ODC is Virginia's Premier debutante ball, for which I take VMI Cadets up to NOVA to act as escorts for the Debs.  This, my friends, is a Party!  It is attended by absolutely outstanding people, and some of the prettiest girls I've ever seen.  Everyone is really gracious and fun-loving, and they LOVE to dance.  I think that this year's ball was the best ever.  Highlights of the Ball, for me, were my dances with all the Girls, at once, at the Ring Dance, and then dancing with some of the Alumni at the Ball.

I checked out of the hotel early Sunday morning so I could get home to Jake, who was at the house while Jay and Barbara took a break and had a little fun.  Kim did a great job with him while she had him, and he was a very happy guy by the time I got home.  He and I took a few walks outside so I could begin the brain-washing process.  We talked about Roush Mustangs, VMI, Auburn, and did a little Birding.  This child is going to be a genius like his Grand-SGM.

The weekend before, I was in Alabama visiting Family.  Just before I got there, mom injured her back trying to fix a toilet that wouldn't flush.  Silly Girl!  It turns out she fractured one of her vertebrae, for which she had to have surgery.  It was a quick procedure, but not an easy one for a lady of 78. Of course, we found this all out after I was on my way back to Virginia for the ODC.  Once again, the Middle Kid wasn't around for a big event.  Mom seems OK now, and we're planning on a September Visit, up here, so she can see the boy.  Bill and Sil are coming too.  Yay!

This week is my last week off before school.  Kim is in Florida, Elise is at Army Advanced Camp, and that leaves me and the Cats alone to watch what I want on Kim's new HDTV.  Somebody pinch me.

14 June, 2007 Jake

Big News!  Jacob Lee Neel, my first grandchild, was born last Wednesday.

I was on a trip with a number of cadets to assist in the Marshall Event honoring Senators John Warner and Lee Hamilton.  We left for DC that afternoon, rehearsed, dressed, posted the Colors for the dinner, Nohelia Martin read the invocation, and others acted as award presenters and ushers.

On our way back, Kim called to tell me that, “we” were “in labor.”  She and Elise were already on their way to Winston-Salem . Jonathon was working on getting approval to leave BNCOC at Fort Gordon , but couldn’t leave until 0500hrs the next morning.  I was about 3 hours away from Lexington , returning the Cadets to Post.

I got to the house, exhausted, about 0300 and decided to get some sleep before driving.  I got on the road at 0730 after returning the VIP bus to B&G.  I got there about three hours later and was hold in Jake in no time. The boy is huge!  The weighed 9lbs 10oz and was 22” long.  He looks like he’s a month old.  I think he looks like Barbara, but I see some “Jay” in his face too.  The boy will be gorgeous.

20 May, 2007 Summertime

I began my summer yesterday with a long session of detailing Bess.  I scrubbed and washed her, detailed the inside, and then waxed her.  She looks amazing.  Today, I began my summer running program with a quick 3-miler.  Tomorrow...sprints with Elise.

I have very little planned for today.  Maybe I'll read some.

The last few days of school were hectic but fun.

The 4th Class FTX went off without a hitch, though one of the EMTs tried to roll a van down a slope.  Lucky again!  I need to watch them a little more closely next year.  It is amazing how little interest the rest of the Commandant Staff has in this program.  I practically have to beg them to come out...well, not Russ and Mitch...they are always willing to help.  This year, instead of the usual formal dinner, we did a BBQ on the Parade Ground.

New Market Day and Commencement went well.  My last day of OC, Monday, was big fun.  The Barracks erupted at CQRB with the 1st Class returning about one minute before Taps.  I'd estimate that about 1/3 of Barracks was on the stoop after Taps, and I had to get really nasty to quiet it down.  There must have been 15 MRE Bombs set off that night, even though I walked the Stoops until 0330hrs.  Sneaky little mongs!

Last Sunday, Erin and Laeun came for a visit.  I took them for a tour of Post and then we cooked out kebabs on the grill.  It was good to see them.  I'll have to get some Sweet Briar soccer games on my schedule for next year.

6 May, 2007: SSG Neel, The Queen, and The Capitol

I had a great time going to see Jonathon promoted to Staff Sergeant yesterday.  I got to "pin" him, though these days it all done with Velcro.  No Blood Rank for the new Army.  Kim and I are very proud of our young man.

I envy him.  The times I was a SSG were the most fun years I had in the Army... being a small unit leader... training hard... responsible to only the Mission and the Men... no thoughts bigger than find, close with, and kill the enemy.

After the "ceremony" Jay and I drove to Winston-Salem for dinner with Barbara.  I've got to get Kim the recipe for what she was delicious. Barbara is Way Pregnant.  It looks like she could give birth any day.  I'm ready.  I know she is too.

Tuesday, I took a combined Color Guard of VT and VMI Cadets to Richmond for the re-opening of the Capitol Building.  The cadets put it all together Monday night in about 30 minutes and they looked like they had been marching together for years.

Thursday, I took twenty-three VT and VMI Cadets to Richmond to form an Honor Cordon for the Queen's Arrival.   We formed just inside the columns on the South Portico, VT on one flank and VMI on the other.  The Cadets did a superior job and Kim and I were allowed to stand right behind them...though we moved to the edge of the porch so we wouldn't be in front of the viewing dignitaries.

My favorite moment of the day was when Kim was approached by a lady asking which Cadets were which.  Kim, very politely, explained the difference in uniforms.  When the lady left, I asked Kim if she knew who the lady was and she had no clue.  It was Virginia's First Lady, Anne Holton.

This Sunday, Lauen and Erin, my buddies from Hockey Games and Sweet Briar College, will be coming for a tour of Post and a cookout a the Neels.  I'm looking forward to that and hope to take their Photographs.

Next week is all about the 4th Class FTX.   I hope I can get it all done before we leave Wednesday Night.

22 April, 2007: The Azalea Festival

I just got back from the Norfolk Azalea Festival.  Each year I take Cadets to act as escorts for the Queen's Court who represent all of the Countries of NATO.  The lads escort these young ladies at the Queen's Coronation, the International Tattoo, the Parade of Nations, and The Queen's Ball.  This year went great, with the United Kingdom as the "Most Favored Nation," and If you can say anything about the Brits, they definitely know how to throw a party.

This year, we left for Norfolk after Mil Duty on Thursday.  That kept us from making the 0400hr start we've made in the past.  We also took two of our own vans which gave us transport around the town; much better than waiting on a bus.  Leaving on Thursday also meant the boys could go out on the town a few hours that night.

We stayed in the Radisson, which is much better than traveling to the Naval Base for housing.  The Radisson is in easy walking distance to almost every event.  The only time we had to ride the Bus was to the Botanical Gardens for the Coronation, and we ended up waiting for it for almost 45 minutes.

This years Ball was based on James Bond.  It was the best Ball ever.  They had 007 Films playing in the corners of the rooms, an Aston Martin for us to pose for photos, a Casino, and two dance floors.  The food was super, and the band was fantastic.  Of course I didn't get much time to enjoy any of that, but the kids had fun.

This year, the Brits brought in 24 Midshipmen to escort half the court.  The were a pretty good group and the girls were probably the best group ever.

Each year I'm always befriended by one girl.  I don't know why this is.  Perhaps I scare all the others.  This year it was Miss Romania, Raisa...great young lady...nice family.

10 April, 2007: Breathing Easy

If you're looking for something to add to your Mustang that doesn't cost a bunch but that adds loads to the performance of the car, let me suggest you get one of THESE!

I took Roush Performance at their word that this would increase my horse power, but I just didn't realize how much of a difference it would make.  The car sounds better, comes off the line better, and pulls harder in every gear...especially 5th, which WAS the gear I considered slightly sluggish... until now.  First is almost too touchy for my tires, Second red-lines almost too quickly, but when I'm in third and fourth...Magic!

This is the best three hundred Bucks I've ever spent on a car.

This Summer...Roush Shocks, Springs, and Anti-sway Bars.

6 April, 2007: Easter Break and Before

This Semester is going like wild-fire!  I can't believe it's already April.  I'm just about done with all my big stuff...NCMT, Ranges, Spring FTX, Spring Clean-up.  All I have left is the Norfolk Azalea Festival, the NCMT FTX, and Graduation/Commissioning Week.

This year, the Army let me run the M16 it went a lot better.  I hate having someone else try to run things for me; I prefer to do it "my way."  I guess that's the nature of the SGM Beast.  I fired 8 Firing orders of Rats, who had never fired the M16, 40 rounds, in less than two hours.  At the end of the day, we re-furbished the range and left it with new sand bags, all the brass picked up, holes cleaned out, range shed cleaned, and targets prepared for four firing orders.  I've found the amplifier down at Army Supply and have it turned in for repair so we can use the PA System down there.  The Army Department just isn't taking care of the place. m I'll talk to them when I get the chance.

The M9 Range was the same, but I don't have to beg the Army for anything there.  I bought ten M9 Pistols and the Commandant bought rounds for the Cadets to fire.  All I have to do is work around the Rifle Team Coach, who is old and set in his ways.  We fired about 375 Rats over two days and they fired 30 Rounds each.  It was a blast.

Kim and I have been having a blast watching VMI Baseball.  The boys are having a hell of a good season, and the, first-ever, home Night Games are cool.  The stadium turned out great and the team is drawing a crowd.  They beat #3 Virginia at home the other night.  It was fantastic.

This weekend we're having a shower for Jonathon and Barbara.  It's being hosted by her mom out at her house and even the men are invited.  I don't get this, but I've used this as an excuse to get the boy a baseball glove.  It's probably a little early to buy him his first handgun or rifle.  His first shotgun will be my 20guage H&R.  Shooting and playing pitch with my grandson...I can't wait!

16 March, 2007: Spring Break

Last Friday, VMI let out for Spring Furlough.  I got out of the office about 1830hrs and began my spring break by going to sleep.

Saturday morning I drove to Richmond for the Motor Trend International Auto Show.  It was pretty good and they had a few concept cars, but the only "international" thing about it was a couple of Ferraris and a Maserati, some old British cars back in the corner, and, of course, the Japanese cars.

Wednesday and Thursday I spent detailing Bess, just to have it rain today when I had to take it to BV for new brake cables.  It wasn't a waste though; I put a coat of wax and a coat of Ultra-Gloss on her.  I'll clean her up again Sunday.  I need more pretty days like Wednesday and Thursday.

We got Kim's car back from the body shop today, and it looks like a new car.  It's beautiful...already dirty from the ride home...but beautiful.  Once I get it all cleaned up, I'll get photos on here.

Tomorrow, Kim and I are off to NC to see Jonathon and Barbara.  We've never visited them and we want to recon the way to the Hospital for the time she goes into labor.

Next week, I'm hoping to drive to Tampa to see Purcell retire.  If I can go, I'll drive to Orlando first and take Steph to dinner then stay at her place that evening.  I'm thinking I won't be able to go, but I haven't completely ruled it out yet.  It depends on what I can get done early in the week.  If I do go, I'll drive to Orlando on Thursday (11hrs), drive to Tampa in the afternoon (2 Hours), and then drive back here Friday Night (13hrs) to be here for the NCMT M16 Range Saturday Morning.

What I have to do to go is:

  • Get the new Boss's approval.

  • Organize the NCO Rank Selection Process so we can get that done the next week.

  • Do a range rehearsal.

  • Prep the Range and fill some sandbags.

Piece of Cake!


5 March, 2007: RT

Today I had to put down my kitty buddy, RT.  I called the Vet about 0800hrs and took him in by 9.  He was gone by 0915.

You might think, having seen all the stuff I've seen, having buried my brother and my father, and having to tell wives and mothers that their troopers were dead, that the passing of a cat wouldn't upset me.  You would be wrong.  I'm devastated that "my" cat is gone.

RT has been in a slow decline for a few years now.  We had him operated on about 5 years ago to remove his thyroid; He had lost a lot of weight when I went to Turkey, and didn't gain it back when I got home. That helped for a while, but for about the past year he began losing weight again and there was no quick fix this time.  We tried a medication to slow his metabolism, and that seemed to work  for a few days, but this past few weeks he lost what he gained and more.  He looked so skinny, and he was having trouble standing, sitting, and even looked in pain when he was lying down.

In case you haven't read the story: We picked up RT off of the streets of Turkey back in October or November  of '91.  Unlike most of the strays on the block, he was a nice little cat who would come see us as the family headed down town on the NATO bus.  I wanted to adopt him, but Kim thought we had done enough by adopting Bustopher.  One day, as she stood on the balcony, watching for the kids to get off of the school bus, she saw a Turk kid throw the nice little kitty in a 55 gallon garbage drum.  She knew there was no way for such a little cat to get out, so she went and rescued him, and took him to the apartment.  Kim and I went down to the PX that night and bought kitten food and flea dip.  Ellen helped me dip him in a bucket that night and the top of the water turned black with fleas.  As soon as the American Vet came to town, we had him checked out, given his shots, and had him neutered.

The family named him Rumple-Teaser after the Cats character; Kim and I had just seen the musical in London two years before.  RT quickly became a big part of the family and was more like a dog when it came to his loyalty to me.  He was definitely MY cat.

I brought him home, wrapped in a towel, and buried him back behind the house, on a strip of land between W&L and VMI,  next to a big bolder so that I can easily find him in years to come.  It looked like a pretty wild place, and it smelled of "the wild things," so I think he would have liked it.

I'll miss you Buddy Keddi.

25 February, 2007: Back to Arlington

We helped bury Dr. Jay Sculley on Friday.  The Commandant and I tool eleven Cadets to Arlington to act as Honorary Pall Bearers for the service.  If and when I ever die, I'd like something like Dr. Sculley's service.  BG Bissell got up and told a few stories, then there was a trumpet solo, followed by two scripture readings, then the organist and trumpet player played the VMI Doxology and the Spirit...and it was over.  Short and sweet, and to-the-point.  I loved it.  The graveside after the processional was likewise short, with a few words from a chaplain and honors.  I think the most touching point of the day was when the Supe, Dr. Sculley's Brother Rat and Roommate, passed the flag to Peggy Lee; a fitting end.

I'm going to sit down tomorrow night and write out my service and nobody has to wonder what I'd think was appropriate.  I kind of like Bill Cosby's idea of putting a motion activated voice recorder in my casket, with my voice saying things like, "Hi Ed, how's Kathy?" or "Boyce Buddy! Don't I look like myself?" and maybe "Dude!  I talked to Jesus, and your going straight to Hell if you don't get yourself together!"  Whatever else I do, I want a reception where my favorite music is played and Kim is NOT allowed to turn it off.

Saturday, after 2 hours of sleep (long Elise story), we held the Third Annual VMI Junior ROTC Drill Competition.  The Stonewall Guard did a great job putting it all together, and it went off without a hitch.

Today, Elise, Sarah, and I went for Coffee and realized Elise's car had a flat tire.  I had Elise do most of the work changing it and we took it to White's Truck Stop to get it fixed.  They just called to say the sidewall was punctured.  Yay!  More fun tomorrow getting that sorted out.

Wednesday we have the Hockey Team sponsored Free Skate.  I'm looking forward to that.  I'll probably break something.

20 February, 2007: Time on My Hands

Since the end of Hockey Season, it seems like I have a lot of time to do the stuff I need to get done.  I guess during the season, I couldn't waist any time during the day and I became a lot more, now that I have more time, I'm way ahead of where I need to be.  Today I coordinated all the Color Guard requirements for Dead Week...coming up in May!

I went to the Baseball game against Bucknell today.  We won 10-2.  The boys looked great.  The new stadium looks good too.  I can't wait for night games...that's gonna be fun.

Last Thursday was the Army Dining-In.  It was pretty fun, but not at all by-the-book.  I think we should do Dining Outs around here.  Saturday night Kim and I were supposed to got to the Mid-Winter Formal, but Kim was too ill to attend, so we stayed home.  I hear it went well.

Saturday I sent 13 guys to escort the young ladies competing in the Miss Williamsburg Scholarship Pageant.  They had a great time and it was good press for VMI.  We're hoping this turns out to be an annual thing and that Miss Virginia will want us to send escorts for that too.

Sunday I took the Color Guard to the Massing of the Colors in Roanoke, an annual event put on by the Military Order of the World Wars.  I didn't like it at all.  I've never seen a more haphazard "military" event in my life and so many protocol mistakes were made that I can not in good faith to the Colors attend again next year.  I surely can't ask the Color Guard to be a part of such an amateurish event.  What they need is a good Sergeant Major to take charge and fix the whole thing.

The basement bunny, or as the Cadets have named her, "Winter Class Dyke," still lives.  We're down to the next-to-the-last day of round-robin training  and we've only been able to show two companies how to prepare game in the field.  I've done all I can, but the Commandant has other things on his mind right now with the selection of the 1st Class leadership for next year.  Hopefully we can get the approval to do a kill for the 4th class FTX...and for next year.

Friday I take a contingent of Cadets to Dr. Sculley's funeral at Arlington.  Saturday is the Junior ROTC Drill Competition here at VMI.  Next Wednesday is the VMI Hockey Team's Free Skate for the Corps.

11 February, 2007: VMI Wins?

What's the deal?  VMI had a winning weekend in sports.  Lacrosse beat Princeton, Rugby Beat Longwood, Basketball beat UNC-Ashville, Baseball beat Florida in two games and Hockey beat our opponent in two.

Our team has finally come together and we beat the heck out of the other team.  It has been a long tough road, but we ended on a real high note.  One thing that I believe was telling, was the spike in the Rat Line confidence since breakout.  These kids can really skate but just haven't shown it until now.  

We also have a real good prospect who may be out Goalie next year.  He has applied for Admission but has not heard back from VMI yet.  If we get him in, we'll be set; this guy doesn't let anything past him!

Leaun and Erin came to the game last night and brought me wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, but I had no time to hang out with them.  They left early.  It was better when I was "fan" Neel; we could stand in the corner, drink coffee, talk,  and cheer for the team together.  This is what I want to do next year...just be "fan" Neel.  I'll drive up to Amherst one day and take them to lunch or dinner to make up for this.

We think we've found a coach for next year, so I can go back to being assistant coach for Hockey and for the Drill Team.  That'll be better for me.  All of this Hockey Stuff has really strung me out.

Kim and I picked up Elise's car from the shop.  It wasn't as much as we thought it would be.  If we can get the 4-Runner to make it to next summer, we'll be good.  Elise can buy herself a car to replace it when she commissions.

Elise and Sarah got up before me this morning which is ruining my normal Sunday Morning Movie Fest.  They're watching MTV "reality" stuff, which I can't stand. So, here I am typing.  I'll probably get some things done today.

9 February, 2007: Elise's Birthday

Today is Elise's Birthday.  We'll spend the day together except for the time she's in Art and Army classes.  Tonight she's going out with friends and I have a hockey game in Lynchburg...which she, of course, compares to me "skiing" in Turkiye when she was born.  This story is all a big lie but has become family lore.  The truth is, I was not skiing at the time of her birth.  I was deployed to Turkey when she was born, and I did go on a ski trip after she was born and before seeing her, but I DID NOT MISS HER BIRTH BECAUSE I WAS SKIING!

I'll be staying in Lynchburg tonight after the game.  Tomorrow morning I'll drive the players back to Post who have ROTC requirements for the day.  Then I'll drive back to Lynchburg for tomorrow night's game.

This morning Elise and I took her car to the shop for a couple of problems.  Her 4-Runner is still running strong at 250 thousand miles.  Now we have two cars in the shop. Kim's Miata is still at Blue Ridge Collision having all the body damage fixed and getting a new paint job.

3 February, 2007: Writing Again

Ok, you guys stop complaining; I'm gonna start up-dating this again.


Jay called the other day to tell me my grand child was going to be a boy.  That's right, our Neel Family Name will continue for another generation.  Jay said he thought that I'd be more excited by this news than anyone else and I think he's probably right.  Though I would have loved a little girl, I'm thrilled at the thought of having a little trooper with which to play.

We finally won a Hockey Game!  Playing with Pete (our smallest guy) as Goalie and only 12 Skaters, we shocked the hell out of a much larger VCU team.  It was glorious!  We punched in 4 Goals before they knew what was happening...and they weren't "trash" goals either...we worked them in like pros.  I've never seen the boys play better.  We have our last two games this coming weekend (hint-hint).

Coming back from the game, we hit a deer with one of the Institute vans. I was driving in the lead and missed the deer that ran in front of me, but the cadet driving behind me hi the one that tried to dart between us.

Will is in Guatemala and Elise is trying to stay busy instead of missing him.  Her birthday is Friday Night and she'll be doing something with friends.  Right now, she's out on the coast with Sarah.

NCMT is up and running again.  This year we decided to kill, prepare, and cook one rabbit per company during the survival portion of the training, but we're on an "administrative hold while the head shed decides if we really need to do this.  All other portions of the training are going without a hitch.  I have about 50 Cadre this year; it's getting more accepted with every class.

Some of the things I'm working on right now:

  • 15 Cadets to act as escorts for the Miss Williamsburg Virginia Pageant

  • 14 Cadets to act as escorts for the Queen's Court at the Norfolk Azalea Festival

  • 13 Cadets to act as escorts and saber arch for the Old Dominion Cotillion

  • M16 Range Day on 21 February

  • M9 Range Days 6 & 8 March

  • The 4th Class FTX 9-11 May

  • Running the Sergeants and Corporal Boards


6 January, 2007: Happy New Year everyone.

I got this a couple of weeks back from a visitor to my site:

Hi John,

My name is Andrea, and my VERY BEST FRIEND IN THE WORLD, Percell, said that you were interest in how I found him through your website. 

I had been googling Percell for the last 5-6 years, and I had no luck. Now I know God works in mysterious ways, and we provides for us what we need and when we need them.  Maybe I over looked it before I don't know.  All I know is on November 9, 2006, this was the day God said "OK, It's time for you and Percell to be reunited."  I saw your sight, and there was my brother.  A big old picture of the best looking man on this planet.  My brother Steve "Percell."  I knew he was safe, and I knew I was hot on the trail of finding him.  I had to keep going back to the site over and over and over again, to make sure it was real. 

I searched further, and found our college site and was finally able to email him.  the rest is history.  Had you not developed this site, I don't think we would be back together today.  I owe you a great deal of thanks.  Like I said your site was up (or at least available to me) the times I looked before.  And the site is the third on the list.  WOW!!  I click on everything I could on your site, and I was amazed with what I saw. 

Thank you so very much John for bring my friend back to me.  You let me know he was alive and safe. 

May God continue to bless you and keep you.  Oh and Happy 25th Anniversary may you continue to share in the love God brings.

 Is that great or what?  I love this stuff.

31 December, 2006: Fed Lewis

Yesterday, Mom called with the news that long-time family friend Fed Lewis had passed away. I had called earlier to wish her a happy birthday and she told me that he probably wouldn't last the weekend.

For as long as I can remember, the Lewis family has been a part of our lives.  Fed and Dad worked together at Southern Railway and they lived about two houses away on 6th Avenue North in Birmingham.  We bought houses next door to each other in Huffman when the highway came through our neighborhood.  Francis and I were born one month apart and she's as close to as sister as I have ever had.  Jim (called "Bubby" all his life) and I played ball at Wahoma Park together for about 7 years.  I can still hear Mom and Bernice yelling from the stands at Love Field.

They are a great family who have lived tough times lately and I'm not sure what our family would have done without them at times.

I'm sure that Elise and I will go home for the funeral.  Sad day.

24 December: London

The boys and I got back from London on the 22d, after spending 4 days there posting the Colors for a ceremony and a dinner.  All that went well, but the trip reminded me how much of a hassle London can be.  Imagine trying to get around London, having no transport, carrying rifles, flags, poles and stands.  It wasn’t fun let me tell you.

 I took The RSM, Roger Leonhart, The two Battalion Sergeants Major Nick Cutting and Tom Cunningham, and here of the Color Sergeants Jared Weber, John Judge, and Mike Vinacco.  These guys did a great job, and except for Tommy getting upset at paying 4 dollars for a bottle of water, they kept their good spirits up and took it all in stride.  We had to put up with a lot of really snobby people, from the lady running the first ceremony, and the guy who ran the second event, to the waitress at the pizza place we ate at the third night.  We did  meet some pretty fun folks...Kate who handled seating a the dinner, and Anna the Swiss waitress at Hard Rock.

Another fun thing about this trip, though  it was always a pain-in-the-ass, was watching the civilian security types start flapping when we tried to check out two de-militarized M1903 Springfield Rifles onto the aircraft.  The Brits had no problem with us bringing them in country, but I did have to show how they were inoperable before they would.

During our two days off, I took the lads to all the sights; I think they liked the pubs best.  We hit the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Tower, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Cleopatra's Needle, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Cathedral, and London Bridge.  One of the coolest things we saw was the "Eye" on the south bank of the Themes.  This is a gigantic Ferris wheel the goes really slowly and gives you a great view of the city.

Flying home was uneventful, but it was questionable at one point if we were going to get out of London at all.  The fog that covered the city for three days had already cancelled all of the domestic flights and some European flights out of Heathrow.  The worst part of the trip was the drive home; I was tired, the weather was terrible, and the traffic was heavy.

So, now I'm done with all that, and ready for some Christmas.  Mom, Bill, and Sil came in on the 23d, Elise was here when I got home, and we're expecting Jonathon and Barbara tonight.  Stephanie is in town, but I only got to see her a few minutes.

I wonder if I'll get that Roush Charger!

10 December, 2006: 25 Anniversary

This Wednesday, Kim and I celebrated out 25th Wedding Anniversary.  It was a lot of fun, but instead of the Roush Charger, Kim gave me a new wedding band.  Actually, that's what I wanted since my first one hasn't fit my hand since about 1988.  I gave her a nice ring that she picked out, ordered, and then told me what I got her.  That's the way we do it...saves a lot of trouble.

Jonathon and Barbara came into town for the week and went to dinner with us Wednesday night.  Elise spent the week studying for and taking finals.

I leave for London this Sunday.  I'll be taking six Cadets to post the Colors for a exhibition opening and State dinner celebrating the Jamestown Settlers departing England for the New World.  We'll get two days to play around in the city.  We return to the States on the 22nd.

We lost at Hockey Friday night, though it was only an exhibition game, it still sucked to lose.  Will skated and we used Donnie as keeper, but we were playing Liberty's Division 2 team (we're D3).  The highlight of the night, at least for me was seeing the girls from Sweet Briar again.  Erin and Laeun (pronounced Lon) came sporting "Team Neel 505" shirts that said "We <3 SGM" on the back.  Too Funny.  Love these girls!

I'm gonna have to have them pose with Bess as my "PIT CREW."

20 November, 2006: Football, Pretty Girls, and the Rat March

This weekend was full.  Friday night I had AOC with L-Train.  I ended up staying in Barracks all night so he could help out at Ring Figure Ball.  It was very quiet in Barracks.

Saturday I met a visiting Scout Group at Marshall Library to link them up with their tour guide.  Becky Harris did that for them.  I also had a former Eagle Scout from the Corps escort them around the rest of the day.

Parade went well, considering the Tent Party for the 2d Class the night before, but we had a large number of "fillers" marching with a saber.  Not Good!  March Down went well, but it was pretty rowdy in the Courtyard.

VMI lost the football game to Liberty, but the team played hard and kept it close.  Had it not been for a couple of special team problems, we probably would have won the game.  During the game the Cheerleaders put me up in a "stunt."  We practiced for two days and it was fun, but nothing I'll ever do again...I think.  The photos are on Facebook.

I left the VMI game a little early to watch the Auburn-Alabama game, and ended up taking photos of one of our Mary Baldwin friends, Erin, during the 1st Quarter.  They turned out great.  Auburn won, though not without problems.  It was ugly, but it was a win.  War damn Eagle!  The home crowd was fun.  Janelle and her boyfriend, Elise and Will, and Sarah joined Kim and I for the game.  Will brought me some SPG, which was well received.

Saturday was the Rat New Market March.  We march from Harrisonburg to the New Market Battlefield ever year on the Sunday after Ring Figure; about 18 miles.  It's not that hard a march, but anything over 10 miles starts to wear on you.  The toughest part is trying to walk after riding the bus for an hour back to Post.  When I got home, I soaked in the tub, drank a SPG, and took some Motrin.

I didn't quite make the run I promised Elise this morning.

17 November, 2006: Exit Stage Right

Recently, Elise has become more and more disillusioned with VWIL. This past Monday, she handed GB her resignation and left the Corps. I think it came as a big shock to him and to many of the young ladies in the Corps. I wasn't shocked at all. I've been hoping she would leave for some time now and have expressed this many times. I continue to say that the Corps is not what I remember, but perhaps I remember the way it never was.

I wish the best for that program and I hope they work out their problems. Until they do, they can not expect any more of my support. That's all I'm saying. Now Elise can concentrate on her academics and ARMY, which is all she really wants to do.

Hockey continues to struggle. With me as the "coach" it's no wonder. We played Radford again at the Roanoke Civic Center. It was a nasty place and we played accordingly. They beat us 7-4 in the slowest game in Hockey history. The ice in the RCC was so soft; it was like the guys were skating in molasses...which evened up the teams by taking away our speed advantage. Well...that's how I see it. Now we have a few weeks off.

Tonight is the '08 Ring Figure Ball...and I'm AOC in Barracks. Last night I had to dress and come in after TAPs because the 2nd Class was out of control. When I pulled up in front of Jackson Arch, fireworks were coming out of New Barracks. I put the whole place at CCQ (everyone in their rooms) until it all calmed down.

Tomorrow is Football, a Parade, and then a little time off. Sunday is the 18-mile Harrisonburg to New Market march with the Rat Mass. We work Monday and Tuesday and then take off the rest of the week for Thanksgiving Furlough.

05 November, 2006: Bess and Hockey

The stars are aligned, the birds are singing, and the gods are smiling down on us again.  Bess is back.  I picked her up last Wednesday and County Line Collision did a great job.  Now no one can tell that I’m a sorry driver.  It's so nice to have her back and in show room shape.

Barbara had her sonogram and we got a look at the next generation Neel.  We don’t know what it is yet, but you can make out his/her little head and feet.  The sonogram also shows what looks exactly like a Neel-Nose…which, of course, means this little person will be devastatingly handsome or beautiful.

VMI Hockey continues to struggle.  It’s been a frustrating year.  Our #1 goalie didn’t return to school and our second one in academically ineligible, so Will Durkey has been playing that position, but that takes Will off the ice as one of our best skaters and a great leader.  We only get one-and-a-half hours of ice time a week, and we’ve had little time to train with our Rats.  We hired two coaches who did a good job for a while, but they just quit, leaving me to “coach” the team.

We played in Chesapeake on Friday night and ODU beat us 10-2.  Canning twisted his ankle  which took him out of the game in the first period and left us without a Captain for the whole game.  Will continues to improve as a goalie, but still lets too many past him.  The team continues to fall apart in the second period.  I think that’s an over confidence problem…they play well and get goals and then think they can beat the other team, who then step up their game.  Once we get behind a couple of goals we begin to play frantic, catch-up hockey…and that never works.

Saturday night Canning and I both coached the team against Radford.  They, like us, were playing without their normal goalie. They had this young lady who did a great job and she blocked more shots-on-goal than we have had in many a game, but we knocked in seven, beating them by two.  We played really well and probably could have beaten anyone in our league playing like we did.

Thanksgiving Furlough is almost here and I sure will be glad.  All this traveling is getting old, though I don’t mind too much.  Elise and I have plans to take a trip to Ft. Lee for her ID Card.  I’m hoping we can also go see Jonathon and Barbara and Ft. Bragg .  I need to get back to the center of the universe and refresh my batteries.

22 October, 2006: BIG News!

Last night Jay and Barbara came into town to deliver the big news: Barbara is pregnant!  Some time in June, I'll be a granddad.  Now I have stuff to do, like buy a little maroon beret, some tiny ACUs, a ball glove,...oh this is gonna be fun.  I wonder how long it will take him/her to learn to say "sergeant major?"

These two are going to make great parents.

The Hockey team continues to struggle, but improves with every game.  We played Richmond pretty well, though the score didn't show it.  The lads have high spirits.  They know we'd be doing much better if we had a few things Ice Time.  Traveling to Lynchburg once a week for an hour and forty-five minutes just is not enough to win.

However, in a fun turn of events, the VMI Hockey Team has been adopted by the Sweet Briar Soccer Team.  These are really sweet young ladies.

Bess is in hospital.  I took her to the body shop to take out the scratches and put the rear view mirror back on.  Oh?  You didn't hear?  Yeah, I hit a little reflector pole while backing up last week.  Knocked the drivers-side rear view mirror off and put some superficial scratches on the left front.  Harrumph.  Me and backing up!  I should have her back by Friday.  Photos to follow.

24 September, 2006: By the Mile!

I'm quite the traveling man these days.

This past week we took the Corps to the Richmond VMI game in Richmond.  This meant moving all the Rats there by bus.  The upper classes pretty much made their way there and back.  Sunday,, I took the Reg Color Guard back to Richmond to post the Colors for the 100 Infantry Division reunion dinner.  We didn't get back until 0130hrs.  Tuesday, Major F and I went to Yorktown to recon the parade route for the 225th Anniversary Celebration in October.  We'll take the whole Corps to that too.

Wednesday found me back at Liberty for Hockey Practice.  I got to meet the Liberty Coach and he talked me through what they went through to build their ice rink...$5 Million...but it's a great facility.  This past Friday I ran the pistol range for the Army ROTC Department.  I had plenty of help and it went smoothly.

I haven't done a thing this weekend.  Kendall finally came for a visit from DC on Saturday and stayed the night.  It was good to see him.  He and I walked every mile in Grenada together and seeing him reminded me of all the crazy stuff we did there.  He was my body guard...or so I called him.  It's hard to believe he's about to make LTC.

This week seems pretty tame.  I have AOC duty Monday night.  Wednesday will be another trip to Liberty.  Our third Hockey game will be this weekend.  On the 6th of October I'll have to drive to Richmond again to post the colors for the new Civil War Park at Tredegar in Richmond.

VMI needs to begin paying me by the mile.

14 September, 2006: Busy-Busy

My new additional duty, Assistant-to-the-assistant-to-the-assistant Hockey Coach, took me to the new Liberty University hockey rink last night.  To use Institute Vans, the team must have an Institute Official travel with them to practices and games.  I volunteered and gave up coaching the Drill Team.  My BR, John, will take that on, and I'll support with administration when I can.  I got home about 2200hrs.

I was back on the road at 0600hrs with the 1st Battalion Color Guard to post the Colors for the opening session of the Virginia Dental Association annual meeting in Roanoke.  We mad a bunch of VMI Alums mighty happy.

I got back from there in time to line up the Academic Star cadets for Convocation at 1100hrs.

Saturday is the Corps Trip to play Richmond and Sunday I drive back to Richmond with the Reg Color Guard for the 100 Infantry Division reunion.  We'll post the colors, have dinner, and then retire the colors.  I should be back from that about 0030hrs Monday morning.  I think I'll take a hay down and optional BRC Monday.

Tuesday, Major M and I go to Yorktown to recon the parade route for the 225th Anniversary Parade that will take place on October 19th.  We'll be taking the whole Corps to that Parade.

4 September, 2006: NM Weekend

This weekend was busy.  Jonathon and Barbara came in for a 4-day weekend, Jim ‘04 and Scarlett ’05 stayed with us, and Elise and her friends were in-and-out.

I drove to Staunton Thursday night to link up with the upperclassmen marching to New Market. I marched with them toHarrisonburg through some of the nastiest weather I’ve ever marched in.  Hurricane Ernesto hit the NC/Virginia coast that morning so we had cold, pouring rain in our faces all day long for the entire twenty-six miles.  Wearing ponchos, which acted like parachutes in the 20-plus MPH wind, kept us from going much over 2.5 miles per hour.  It took us from 1000hrs till 2000hrs of hard work.  I was pretty darn happy to see COL M with the car I’d drive back to Lexington .

Saturday was our typical Football Saturday.  1030hrs was Parade, then tailgating, and then at 1200hrs the Corps Marched down to our new football field for the game.   The game began at 1300hrs, but I was late because my dress watch was still set to Alabama Time from my trip home, and I was too worn out from the march to realize until I noticed we were about to kick off, while I was thinking I was going to be at the field for the march down.  My brain was out of it most of the day.

Elise brought up the VWIL nULLs for the parade and football game and I enjoyed watching her deal with the whole thing.

I guess my brain was fried the next day too.

Sunday morning, LTC F called to let me know that the A Company guidon had been stolen the evening before (probably “borrowed” by 2001 Alumni).  I jumped in my PT gear and hit the door to fetch the extra one.  I was really confused when I saw the busses in front of Barracks for the Rat New Market trip.  I grabbed the guidon, handed it to the Reg XO, and ran back to the house to get dressed and jump in Bess for a catch-up drive to New Market.

I didn’t leave NM until about 1500hrs.  A wreck on I81 kept me from getting home till almost 1800hrs, but that was OK because it took me through Bridgewater where the Bridgewater Equestrian Team was having a car wash…about 10 really cute girls in bikini tops and shorts.  We stopped for gas…of course.  No, I wouldn’t let them wash my car.

Sunday night I had a chance to spend some time with Jay and we watched Inside Man.  Pretty good movie!  I was certainly glad when the weekend was over, but I was sorry to see everyone leave. 

31 August, 2006: TAB

Tonight I drive to Staunton to link-up with the 1st Class New Market marchers. I'll be delivering their meals, relieving LTC L, spending the night, and then Marching with them twenty-six miles to Harrisonburg. I'll be relieved (and I mean really relieved) by COL M on Friday night. I love this march. Though it's hard, it is a really good time with the Cadets...some of the best guys and girls in the Corps.

This weekend is the first Football Game weekend at VMI. We're all excited for the team with a new coaching staff and a new attitude. This is also a reunion weekend and 2001 will be returning. Many of these guys and girls were my first students here when I taught ROTC. I hope a lot of them return. Jim '04 and Scarlett '05 are coming in this weekend and staying with us. That'll be fun.

Matriculation week went great. Cadre has done a fine job all nine days. I was "responsible" for the Bedford trip and the Rat Crucible. I didn't have to do a thing. The S3 Lieutenants did it all. All I did was look around and make a few suggestions and it all went smoothly.

Classes began this week and normally it's a mad house in Barracks after the upper classes return, but this year it has been very quiet.

Big news! As of this morning, I weigh 200 pounds. That's down 20 Pounds from May. "PT! Good for you, good for me!" Just three more pounds and I'll be the same weight I was as a First Sergeant. I'm shooting for 190.

Sunday is Rat orientation to the New Market Battlefield.

18 August, 2006: Rats!

The Rats of '07 + 3 come in tomorrow.  I have to be in Barracks by 0600hrs.  The fun begins.

Cadre have done a great job getting ready this week.  Most impressive.  Drill and PT Blocks were all certified early, and all the mandatory classes on equity and civility are done.  Hays are delivered, Misc Boxes put in Rooms.  All we have to do now is pick them up at Cameron.

The next 9 days should go well.   I'm actually looking forward to it.

12 August, 2006:  Home to Alabama

I got back from Bama Monday morning about 0330hrs after diving most of the night.  Driving after dark this time if year is really preferable; it's cooler, less traffic, and a lot faster.  I made the normal 9-hour trip in eight hours and fifteen minutes without speeding (much).  Starbuck's Doubleshot drinks help in this process.

I did the same thing going to Bama.  I took off from VMI about 0030hrs Thursday morning and got to Mom's house just as the sun came up.

My first order of business after getting to Birmingham was to wash the bugs off the car, and then I set up a dinner date with Jim, Lynn, Colin, and Mom for Jim and Nicks.  Before that, Mom and I went to lunch with Bill and Sil at Barnhill's (not one of my favorite places, but the food is pretty good).  Sue and Sarah were visiting from Connecticut and they joined us.  I was amazed at how Sarah has grown.  The last time I saw her, she was a little girl.  Sue is still gorgeous; still sweet.

 Friday, mom and I went to Milo Burgers for my "hit."  Damn, I love those things.  I don't remember what I did Friday Night.

Saturday we went back to Barnhill's with the same crowd (even had the same food), and then I went home and got ready for the Woodlawn High School 35th Reunion.  That was pretty fun and I got to see a few friends from those days that I hadn't seen for years.  Carey Martin (went through 1st-12th grade with him), Bill Pricket (best buddy in HS and College roomie), Rusty Berry (played baseball with him, as well as going to WHS with him), Bob Parker and Don Hawkins (Warblers 69-71), and of course Courtney Kelly (best female friend during HS and my Daughter's namesake) were there to name a few.  Allen Langston (who I've known since 7th Grade) ran around with Chris Hooten's name tag on most of the night thinking, I'm sure, that it was funny, so I took great pleasure in calling him "Chris" all night as if I didn't know who he was.  

One of the remarkable things from that night was how short all my classmates were.  Even the hero Quarterback was tiny.  I now out-weigh him by about 30 pounds and tower over him by about 4 inches.  I kinda like that.  Another thing that hit me was how healthy I am compared to my classmates.  I finally stopped asking how people were; it was getting depressing hearing about all their ills.

On Sunday, Mom and I went to Montgomery for my Aunt Betty and Uncle Gene's 60th wedding anniversary.  That was fun and I got to see Aunts Uncles and Cousins galore.  It was  a Neel Reunion of the first order.  I also got to see my Cousin Rick who played for Auburn back in the 70s.  He was tiny too.

The whole staff returned to work this past week and we spent the time preparing for Cadre week.  The Regimental leadership comes in on Sunday and the Rats come in the week after.  Monday morning is our Jacob's Ladder run.

12 August, 2006:  Cadre Returns

I got back from Bama this morning about 0330hrs after diving most of the night.  Driving after dark this time if year is really preferable; it's cooler, less traffic, and a lot faster.  I made the normal 9-hour trip in eight hours and fifteen minutes without speeding (much).  Starbuck's Doubleshot drinks help in this process.

I did the same thing going to Bama.  I took off from VMI about 0030hrs Thursday morning and got to Mom's house just as the sun came up.

My first order of business after getting there was to wash the bugs off the car, then I set up a dinner date with Jim, Lynn, Colin, and Mom for Jim and Nicks.  Before that, Mom and I went to lunch with Bill and Sil at Barnhill's (not one of my favorite places, but the food is good).  Sue and Sarah were visiting from Connecticut and they joined us.  I was amazed at how Sarah has grown.  The last time I saw her, she was a little girl.  Sue is still gorgeous; still sweet.

Friday, mom and I went to Milo Burgers for my "hit."  Damn, I love those things.  Right now, I'm too darn tired to remember what I did Friday Night.

Saturday we went back to Barnhill's with the same crowd (even had the same food), and then I went home and got ready for the WHS 35th Reunion.  That was pretty fun and I got to see a lot of great friends from those days that I hadn't seen for years.  Carey Martin (went through 1st-12th grade with him), Bill Pricket (best buddy in HS and College roomie), Rusty Berry (played baseball with him, as well as going to WHS with him), Bob Parker and Don Hawkins (Warblers 69-71), and of course Courtney Kelly (best female friend during HS and my Daughter's namesake) were there to name a few.  Allen Langston (who I've known since 7th Grade) ran around with Chris Hooten's name tag on most of the night thinking, I'm sure, that it was fun, so I took great pleasure in calling him "Chris" all night.

26 June, 2006: 

Each year Esquire Magazine lists the top 50 reasons why it's great to be an American Man.  This year's list was really good, and all men should read it.  Most applied to me, but a few really stood out.  Here are my top ten of their Top 50.

10.  The Wonder Bra: Having a college age children, which means my house is filled, from time-to-time, with loads of college age girls, I have to say that this is so true.  Great invention.

 9.  Five-blade Razors:  I laughed when one company came out with four blades; I was using three at the time.  Then Gillette came out with the Fusion.  "Ridiculous," I said, but of course I had to try it.  Damn thing works, and actually it is six blades, because they give you a single blade to shave under your nose and trim your sideburns.  I love this thing...and it vibrates.

 8.  Our Flag is the coolest looking of any nation's: Name one that's better.

 7.  Boy Shorts on women: See wonder bra comments.

 6.  Salad in a bag: When Kim is out of town, I live off this stuff.  I open the bag, pile on Ham, three shredded cheeses, bacon bits, kidney beans, black beans, and top it with Paul Newman's Ranch and call myself "eating healthy."

5.  The surfeit of attractive actresses named Jennifer: True enough; I can name a few off the top of my head who might come in second place, but the real "reason" should be that we have Scarlet Johansson.

 4.  The never-ending quest to find the perfect barbeque joint: Stop Looking.  The honors belong to Costa's in Birmingham Alabama.  However, it is never spelled "barbeque," it's "BBQ!"

 3.  Corn bread: Ah yes!  America Southern Cuisine at its finest!  Of course, only mom can really make it correctly, and that's because she uses her iron skillet.

 2.  Because if you're an American man, you're not a British man:  Having spent two years over there, I can totally relate to this. Imagine never seeing the sun, going south to a beach where you have to wear a jacket year-round, watching soccer for your national pastime, where the fastest race driver is German, and where the Beatles, Kylie Minogue and the Spice Girls are your musical icons. American men need wide open spaces, Football, Baseball, Hockey, hot White Sandy Beaches, NASCAR, Mustangs, Camaros, and we hate the Beatles because we have Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen.

 1.  Cheap cars with cojones: Now what they're talking about here, is the resurgence of the American Muscle Car, and by that they mean the new Mustang GT.  And, by "cojones," they mean "balls."  They mention the Dodge Magnum, but you can never call anything with four doors, including the Charger, "a car with balls." Since the new Camaro and the new Challenger are not out yet, they have to be talking about the Stang.

24 June, 2006: 

Kim and I went to Friday's Alive in downtown Lex.  This is where, during the summer, Lex invites live bands to come play to raise money for charity.  It's a good "concept."  The band they had yesterday was Leggs out of Richmond.  They were Terrible!  I've never heard so many of my favorite songs murdered in one single day before. You'd think, that with a name like Leggs, that they would have a hot girl singer in a skirt or something...but Noooo!  She wasn't hot, she wore pants, and she was no singer.  Kim and I did have fun watching the ancient black guy dance.  And, then there was the old woman with no teeth...that was interesting.  I told Kim that we'd try it next week, but if it's anything like this Friday, I doubt if we'll ever go back.

Will called to tell us that Elise is still doing well, though I don't think she did as well on Land Navigation as she wanted.  She has a heat rash on her legs, so she missed Night Land Nav.  I hope that gets better soon, or she is going to be miserable all the rest of camp.  I think it's pretty telling that when she only has time for a short call, she calls Will.

Today is my day off with my LSD Run tomorrow morning...8-miler.  I spent the morning watching Bullitt...again.  Next week we're all definitely at work, unless I'm confused again...which could be the case.  I guess I'll find out for sure Monday.

Now I'm going out and drive my car....cause that's what you do after watching Bullitt. 

20 June, 2006: This morning, my workout consisted of a run to the W&L Track and 200m Sprints.  It was a good workout, but there was this guy there, about my age, doing 400s.  He was fast too.   I swear, he did a 400 for every one of my sprints, and he was there before I got there.  That's OK.  I'm getting stronger by the day.  Before long I'll be smoking his scrawny little ass.

Today, I get back in the Gym.  I went in to work yesterday ready to get back to the things I need to be doing this summer and thinking that this was the week we all work, but found out, even before I got into Barracks, that I was still on leave.  Everyone whowas at work, looked at me like I was crazy.  So, I did a few things and then left.  The problem with that is: I was supposed to begin my Gym routine yesterday.  When I'm not at work, I do not want to go to the Gym.  It's as simple as that, and it all comes down to discipline.

It looks like Jonathon and Barbara are coming in to town for the 4th of July.  That'll be fun, but I'll be missing Elise.  She seems to be doing well at Camp and thinks it's actually kind of lame.  I guess she wanted Ranger school or something.  I knew she'd be ahead of her peers there having done a year of ROTC at VMI, and having gone through the VMIL nULL experience.  Her comments about her Drill Sergeants was, "they're silly."  She has passed her APFT with enough points to get her scholarship and zeroed her M16 on the first try.  She shoots well, so I doubt she'll have a problem qualifying.

Kim and I go to get her and watch her graduation on the 7th and 8th.  I'm looking forward to that.

18 June, 2006: 

I had a good run on the Chessie Trail this morning.  I slept in and hit the trail about 8:30.  I drove Elise's truck down, because I hate taking my car down there...worrying about it is a distracter to the process.  I don't think anyone would bother Elise's truck.

Sundays are my LSD run days...Long Slow Distance.  I ran 8 miles this morning and it felt good, but I'm still favoring my left ankle from tearing it up on the 25 Mile March from Staunton to Harrisonburg.  At lease I don't worry about twisting it so much these days, so my speed is picking back up.  Monday will be Moderate 4, Tuesday I do sprints, Wednesday is Jacobs Ladder ( a hilly bastard of a 6-mile run), Thursday is Road March Day (45# Ruck), and Friday is another Moderate 4-miler.  I take Saturday off.

Tomorrow I go back to "work." I just have to be in the office...I don't have much to do.  I'll begin adding the Gym back to my routine.  During this last two weeks of Furlough I haven't had the motivation to get's too much like going to work.  I'm looking forward to getting back in there.

Yesterday was Kim's Birthday.  Happy Birthday Kimn!  I got her the first season of Will and Grace...a big stretch for me.  I'm going to actually watch it with her.   I also got her a little Cake, so my sugar ban just took a nose dive.  Oh , but it was so good!

11 June, 2006:

We had two big events today: Elise left for LTC and The Corrado wedding.

My phone woke me up at 0430hrs and I hit the shower to wake up.  I didn't sleep much thinking about all Elise was about to experience in the next few weeks.  I needed that shower.

She and I got on the road for Roanoke about 0530hrs and got to the Airport about 0615hrs.  We talked on the way about what she should expect and I gave her the "stay in the middle" talk.  I want her to watch for the first few days before she starts stepping up and leading...which is, of course, her style.  She was very brave, but I noticed that she looked back more than once to make sure I made sure she was through Security, then another time to wave goodbye.  Whew!  That was tough on old Dad.

We've heard from her since, once when she got to Chicago, and after she got to Kentucky.  She was relieved to find a lot of kids arriving with the same summer plans.  She said she had "new friends."  We also heard through Will that she ran into 2LT Kirby Smith, VMI '06 and a great guy, who is working there this Summer.  That's comforting.

The afternoon was spent at John Corrado '05's wedding.  It was a really nice, first class affair a the Augusta Stone Church next to Augusta Military Academy.  The Reception was at JMU in a really nice facility.  The Cadets that provided the Saber Arch did a great job...though they were one short.  Long story.

Missed my long run today, but probably needed the rest.  I'll do it tomorrow morning.  Looking forward to that.

10 June, 2006: Thursday's Tab (Tactical Approach to Battle=Brit for Road March), plus Friday's Run, plus long walks with Kim on Wednesday and Friday Night, are all adding up to some pretty tired legs on the old boy.  I love Saturdays for the rest if nothing else.

Elise should be on her way home from the coast and seeing 2LT Will.  Tonight is her last night in town before going to Basic Camp at Knox.  I take her to the Roanoke airport tomorrow morning.  I'm hoping she has a good time at it, and loves it like I did Basic Training.  Once she passes, she will receive a two-year Army scholarship.

Today is Bess time.

7 June, 2006:

Ran Jacobs Ladder this morning.  Whew!  I took it slow, still favoring my left ankle, and remembering the route...where the hills end, when I can pick up the pace, preparing for the Highway 11 hill.  I came in in just over an hour.

I needed to go into work for a bit to work on John's Saber Arch, but just didn't get there. Yesterday two of the Cadets had to drop out, so I need to recruit two more.  I'll do that tomorrow after my road march.

Kim and I went for a good long walk this evening.  We went by Silverwood, which we've decided we don't miss at all.

6 June, 2006: The 62d Anniversary of D-Day.

I guess I'll have to go get some Camembert, French bread, and Bordeaux for this evening.  God Bless the 82d Airborne Division and all the other units who fought that day!

My run this morning was good.  I ran through W&L, across the bridge, down to Woods Creek to the end, up to South Main Street, past Silverwood, and back, with detours to say hello to Generals Jackson and Lee.

I took some time yesterday to photograph the construction going on at Alumni Field.  It's looking pretty good down there, but I'm not sure it's going to be done by the first game.  But...I'll have faith.  Also drove out to the Humpback Bridge again.  It was a nice day to do that...I had good sky.

I have to finish organizing the Saber Arch for John Corrado's wedding, then I'm going to come back here and answer some e-mails.  I'm way behind on that.

29 May, 2006: For Memorial Day, Kim and I cooked out and had some of the Kids over.  Jay and Barbara were in town and 2LT Will came in from Ft. Eustis.  Ann brought her little sister Sarah...who is the cutest thing ever, and Rachael came over after supper.  It was a lively group and they put away a lot of beer playing beer pong.  There were times I had to go out on the porch to calm them down, lest the Post Police show up.  I guess I'm getting old, because I thought beer pong was pretty boring.  Boat Races in the 1Para WO and Sergeant's Mess were much better.

25 May, 2006: This weekend I begin my Summer Furlough in earnest.  The days after Graduation, we went over the Blue Book for next year.  This week, I was the duty officer for the Commandant's office.  Next week, Gary has that duty, and though I will be working, I can do just about whatever I want...make my own hours, and such.

This week, I took the radios to Staunton to be re-furbished, re-calibrated, and repaired.  That's a mission that's about two years behind.  I've also been working on the Army Streamers...which were all twisted and knotted.  I took the all off their hooks and ironed them, bought new hooks, and will finally, after 5 years, have that little project sorted out.

Today I cleaned out the Flag Room.  What A Mess!  I threw away about 10 years worth of broken poles, and all the old red, white, and blue bunting.  We haven't used it in the 5 years I've been here, so I didn't think twice about chunking it in the trash compactor.

PT has been going well.  I ran the Corps Run Monday and today, ran sprints on Tuesday at Maury River Middle School Track, and did a short run Wednesday, and rucked 4 miles with 45lbs on Thursday.  I hit the Gym three times...a good warm up for next week.  I'm down to 204 from 210.  Sunday is a long run...I'm planning on 6.

Jonathon and Barbara come in tonight for the weekend.  Elise is home and 2LT Will is coming in too.  We'll be cooking out on Sunday.

Beginning Monday, Becky Harris, "my Rat," will be staying with us this summer.  She's off to Florida this weekend to pick up her car.

21 May, 2006: My past three weeks of school were very hectic.  The week after the Norfolk Azalea Festival was spent organizing for the 4th Class FTX.  I had to draw vehicles, position port-a-johns (which I totally forgot and had to turn over to good ole CPT Faust), package the survival meals, check on busses, finalize the lane-walker list, issue radios, and a hundred other little things.

After Exams on Monday, the NCMT Staff gathered the 4th Class in Large Physics Lecture Room for their OPORD while the Lane-walkers and I organized the equipment in 40 piles, one for each group.  The school busses arrived at 1800hrs and we made it to Upper Otter Creek Overlook by 1930.  There were absolutely no problems this year, and the addition of the OPFOR went pretty well.  I'll need to tighten that up a bit next year.

Shady Mountain Camp went well, as did the end point at Oronoco, but I need a better plan for those two areas...both are still a bit sloppy.  I think classes by Reggie from Mountain Shepard at the Camp and....I don't know how I'm going top fix Oronoco.

We got back early on Wednesday...our briefings were the key to success.  All teams were closed in by1000hrs and we were all back to Barracks by 1130hrs.  We ended the day with a great meal of Steak, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Pasta at 1500hrs.

I had a great NCMT team this year.

The rest of the week was spent practicing for three parades and all the graduation events.  New Market was  Monday and Graduation was Tuesday.  The First Class gave us an impromptu fireworks display from the Sentinel Box Monday morning about 0130hrs...right after I got home from AOC Duty.

I'm going to miss '06.

Today was the first day in a while that it felt like spring.  I ran well on the Chessie this morning to start my routine.  Tomorrow I'll add in the Gym when I figure out when it's open.  Here's the Plan, not counting the gym and walks with Kim:

Monday: Moderate Run

Tuesday: Alternate Sprints/Hills/PT Test

Wednesday: Run Jacobs Ladder

Thursday: TAB (prepping for the 1st Class NM March)

Friday: Moderate Run

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: LSD Run...pushing to 13+ miles.

17 May, 2006: Summer...Ahhhhhhhh.

I'll write about the last two weeks in a bit.  Right now, I think I'll go sun, play some music, strum my guitar, finish The Gates of Fire, throw a baseball, and play with Bess.

3 May, 2006: The Azalea Festival

This past weekend was the Azalea Festival in Norfolk.  It was the best trip ever and the Cadets and girls were great.

We got out of Lexington at 0400hrs to make our start time at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens for the Queen's Coronation Rehearsal.  We stayed in the Radisson Waterside this year which made all the difference in the world.  It gave us a place to change, store all the uniforms I make the Cadets take, and a place to just chill out in between events.  Even the buss and bus driver went well this year.

The Court Supervisors, Ann and Michele, were fantastic and relaxed.  They had it all planned out and when things didn't go perfectly, they rolled with the flow.  It was fun working with them.  

We did Five major events over the weekend: The International Tattoo, The Queen's Coronation, The Parade of Nations, NATO Fest, and The Queen's Ball.  The Ball was the highlight of the weekend and we all danced until almost 0200hrs Sunday Morning.  It was just plain fun.  

My next big event is the 4th Class FTX in George Washington National Forest, monday through wednesday.

22 April, 2006: The Dixie Chicks

Some of you old readers may remember how absolutely Pissed Off I was at the Chicks when Natalie made her little statement over in Britain at the beginning of the war.   Well, I've decided that it doesn't matter.

I just heard their new song and it's all about how they, too, are still ticked off and not ready to do whatever it is that some in America (probably includes me) would have them do to make it right.

My point here is simple: As long as they keep making music like this, I don't care what they think.  This song is fantastic.  Go their web site (,  read the words and have a listen.  I think these girls are pretty damn gutsy, and I like that.  They are definitely the best country musicians out there.

My work load hasn't slowed down any.  Tomorrow I have to be at Moody Hall all day for our leadership "Off Site."  Monday, The Regimental Color Guard and I will be going to Bridgewater to post the Colors for a Vietnam Memorial.  Tuesday is "brief the Azalea Festival Cadets lunch" and that afternoon I sit on the Post Police selection board.

Next weekend I take 25 Cadets to the Norfolk Azalea of my favorite things to do.  It's always a lot of fun.  After that, it's all exams and getting ready for the 4th Class FTX, New Market Parade, Graduation, and Commissioning.


17 April, 2006: Whew!  Long week and the wedding is done...and well done it was!  It was short, beautiful and totally fun with very little stress.  Barbara and her parents did a super job putting it all together.

Friday morning was spent sleeping in and then going to pick up my Tux and Ed in Roanoke.

Our part, the rehearsal dinner, was Friday night.  We all met at Lee Chapel for the Rehearsal and the wedding coordinator, another Barbara, had it all done in an hour.  She was super!  We all met at Moody Hall for the dinner, which we had catered by Edith in Crozet hall.  The food was yummy and we all had a fun time hanging out on the Balcony.  Afterwards, we went to a hospitality room at the Col Alto Hotel to socialize with the Bride's family, then we headed back to the house to meet my family coming in from Alabama.

We had a good showing.  Ed came in from Chicago, Evie and Clay (friends from Turkey) and Blythe came in from DC, John and my cousin Sherry came in from Hampton, and Mom, Jim, Lynn, Colin, Kathy, Lauren, Bill, Sylvia, Heather, Buck, Summer and Sherri all came up from Bama.

Saturday morning was relaxed.  Everyone came over about 1000hrs and we hung out on the back porch until lunch and then walked downtown to Salerno's for something to eat.

Jay and I had to be at the Chapel for photos at 1600hrs, and the wedding began at 1700.  It was Beautiful...all monochromatic with Girls in Black dresses of their choice, Men in white jackets and black trousers.  Barbara's dress was perfect and she looked amazing.

We were pretty much done by 1800hrs with photos and everything.  By the time we got to the Reception, it was in full swing.  It was a party.  The old SGM had a great time dancing with his lady, his daughter, the Bride, Ed, and just about every other girl there.  By the time the music stopped, I was beat and drenched.  Drunk?  Nah!

10 April, 2006: Ok, pay attention and try to keep up.  Here’s my work schedule for this week.  Today I began the selection process for Cadet NCOs.  I’ll meet with next year’s officers to put names to slots at lunch and supper today, and then, again, at lunch tomorrow.  After that I have to publish a roster for the Commandant’s Staff to review before sending it in to the Commandant.  I’m shooting for Friday on that. 

 This afternoon we have a Practice parade, followed immediately by a practice in Lee Chapel for posting the Colors.  This is for the Marshall Awards Seminar going on this week.  The Regimental Color Guard will post the Colors Tuesday morning at the 1030hrs Opening session and retire them Thursday morning about 1130 at the closing session.  Wednesday is Marshall Awards Parade.

 NCMT day 3-2 is Tuesday at Mil Duty and we’ll be firing pistols at Mil Duty on Thursday. 

 This weekend is Barbara’s and Jonathon’s wedding.    Friday night is the Rehearsal at Lee Chapel and Dinner at Moody Hall.  My whole family should be in town Friday Night into Saturday morning, so the house will be full.  Friday morning, Ed arrives at Roanoke; I’ll pick him up.  Bill and Sil, Sally and Dan, Buck, Heather and the kids, Jim, Lynn and Colin, Blythe and Jason, the nULLS '09 are all coming in for the "big do."  Saturday night is the wedding at Lee and then the Reception at the COL Alto.

 Sunday and Monday will be family time.

 And you thought your week was busy.

26 March, 2006:

            Last Thursday was the 15th anniversary of what we in the 82d call the Pope Crash.  Back on 23 March, 1994, a C13 and a F16 collided while simultaneously landing.  The C130 landed safely, but the F16 Pilot punched out, and his aircraft plummeted into a fully-fueled C141.  The fireball and debris from the explosion engulfed a large group of Paratroopers conducting mock door training on Green Ramp.  

            I remember getting the call from Battalion that something bad had happened on Green Ramp and that we were to keep everyone away and take immediate accountability of all personnel.  I walked out, looked north, and could see the smoke rising above the Barracks across Lindsey Field in the direction of Green Ramp.  I new I had one Trooper there who was chasing jumps.  I had been given one "filler" slot from Battalion and "Doc" Sanchez, one of my Medics had filled that slot.  

            It was a bad day.  We had problems getting accountability as everyone was scattered all over the battalion area going about their daily business.  Some time during the course of the day we got the call that Doc was dead, but that we couldn't advise anyone until the official word had come down.  This call was followed almost immediately by a call from Mrs. Sanchez.  She asked me if her husband was alright and I dodged the question saying, that we were trying to find out everyone's status and sort out where everyone was...not a lie...but it sure felt like one.  About three hours later I was on her doorstep with the Company Commander and the Chaplain.  Telling her was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in the Military.

            We lost three more 2-505 Troopers that day and had many injured.  One of those killed was SSG Harry Mamoa, one of my NCOs from Charlie Company where I was 1SG before taking over HHC.  The Division Lost 24 Officers NCOs and enlisted men that day, most from the 2-504.  

"To our fallen comrades, we salute you and vow to carry on in the spirit of your memory."—Lt. Col. Lloyd Austin, Commander, 2d Battalion, 505th PIR.


15 March, 2006: The Drill Competition was a total bust.  I have never seen such unprofessional behavior from a bunch of NCOs.  I can't wait to bend Gunner Sergeant Johnson's ear about it and get his spin on what happened.

Picture this:  My cadets taking time out of their Spring Break to be screamed at and ridiculed by a bunch of half-assed, fat E7s.  One even screamed at one of our girls for having nose hair!  It was all I could do not to run them off, pack up the troops and leave.  There was no training value in the whole exercise.  But I was proud of the Team.  These stupid Gunnies couldn't make them lose their bearing...which is what probably set them off.  The Reg Color Guard took 3d Place.  There wasn't a team that was even close to them, but, once again, the graders took away points for our Army Drill.  We should have won at least three events.

Time off was good.  The kids had a good time in the city.  I went to meet Sal's mom and dad and they fed me a great dinner.  Super People!  So Italian! The trip home was a bit disjointed and turned around...but we made it...finally.

I'm on Spring Break now.  The weather has  been good so far and my first order of business was to wash Bess.  She made it through the winter just fine.  Since it's Spring Break, I've decided it's SPRING.  I refuse to wear anything but flip-flops this week.

One month till the big wedding!  Cool!  Can't wait!

It's been a tough week up at VWIL.  I may have to go gripe and moan up there if the silly girl stuff keeps up.

9 March, 2006: I'm off to NYC with the Drill Team for the SUNY Maritime Drill Meet.  It's a small meet, and I fully expect to win.  The team has put the whole thing together, done all the leg work, and all the coordination.  All I really have to do is drive.

I'll be back on Sunday to start a much needed Spring Break.  I'm starting to get grumpy.  OK, I'm always grumpy, but I'm more so lately.  What do I have planned?  Not a damn thing...but driving Bess.

1 March, 2006: It's March, the weather is better, and I've started running again...bad leg or not.  I ran with Elise yesterday and it was embarrassing.  She smoked me badly.  I ran alone today and it was better...but I have a long way to go.

I took the Elise, Sarah, and Christina Rappelling this afternoon.  Two of the Rat Challenge Cadre, Patrick Gonzales '08 and Tom Stevenson '06, set it all up and so all I had to do was show off my mad rappelling skills.  It was fun and the girls did great.

Mitch is home.  He got in yesterday from Iraq and we hit Don Tequila's together for lunch.  It was good to see him.

Tomorrow I have to go to Richmond for a Women's History event.

26 February, 2006: 

Yesterday NCMT fired M16s on the Range with all the "all-other" 4th Class Cadets.  We did PMI in the morning and then started up the Range at 1230hrs.  We only had 5 firing orders because of permits.  Note to Self: Fence this day from now on, or shoot the first semester when they are still Rats.

I begin my training program tomorrow.  I'm tired of being a slug and running such short distances.  It's time to begin pushing it a bit and get back to my Kosovo fitness level.  Elise is on Spring Break, so I'm hoping she joins me for a few runs.

This week I have a posting mission in Richmond for the Women's History Month celebration at the Library of Virginia.  First Battalion Color Guard will do the honors.

The weekend after this I'll be traveling to NYC for a the SUNY Drill Meet.  I'm looking forward to that and hope to wrangle some Turk Food out of the trip.  We'll compete in the Platoon, Squad and Color Guard Regulation Drill.  The Cadets are giving up their first day of Spring Break for this.

I hope I get some decent weather for Spring Break.

11 February, 2006:

Lots going on around here.  Elise's Birthday was the 9th.  Kim, Elise and I went out for dinner at Applebee's and then for drinks at the Palms.  Barbara came into town, Ann and Kyla joined us, and Will, Elise's boyfriend, was there.  A guy named Matt joined us.  I didn't know him before that night, but he was pretty cool.  Erica Ardolino, my BR, was our waitress at the Palms.

I finally got a text to go through to Court and she answered on Friday morning and then stopped by the office to see me.

It's snowing today.  I still hate snow.  Bess is outside all covered up and I refuse to drive her in this stuff.  I bought a Roush Billet shift knob for her.  It's really cool looking...much better than the stock Ford knob.  Next I'm going to add the anti-sway bar and maybe the Roush wheels (really haven't decided on that yet).

VMI Hockey and VMI Rugby are still the only teams we have that are winning.  Hockey is in the playoffs at the end of the month...but that's down in Wilmington.  Rugby put the wood to JMU last weekend, and their spring season starts soon.  Baseball beat Auburn 2 out of 3 but lost this weekend in game one of a double header.  Wrestling lost...tough year.  Basketball is suffering.  I'm looking forward to LAX kicking off.  The were supposed to scrimmage today, but it was snowed out.

8 February, 2006

I read this in the Times Dispatch a while back.  I liked it and thought I'd share.

Are men endangered species?

Ray McAllister, Richmond Times Dispatch  

The American male as an endangered species?  Sounds like the basis of two-thirds of all sitcoms.

But now Maxim magazine has gone so far as to file a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, seeking to have man declared "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Maxim, pitching its magazine to advertisers as the place to find real men (translation: pictures of scantily clad women), filed a 12-page petition with the feds  Monday, claiming Homo sapiens masculus is under attack by:

·  Destruction of its natural habitats - barbershops lost to "styling salons," gyms replaced by "health clubs," the transformation of Las Vegas into a "family destination," the disappearance of the "vital migratory route" of Route 66, the closing of 60 million acres of ATV land, the closing of the workplace bar, and the introduction of sexual-harassment bans at work.

·  "Mantrophy," a disease including symptoms of pretend car-racing shoes, excessive smoothie consumption, seaweed wraps and lightly tinted glasses.

·  Regulatory measures such as emissions controls, roughing-the-passer penalties, and bans on fishing with dynamite.

·  Miscellaneous threats, including egg substitutes, roadside assistance, synchronized diving, sensitivity training, hybrid cars, decaf coffee, scented candles, NASCAR restrictor plates, explicit-lyrics stickers, aerobic kickboxing and the word "carb."

Without help, Maxim says, "Man will surely succumb to the ravages of an effeminate, feng shui world gone mad."


The petition will be handled as all others, a U.S. Department of Interior spokesman said yesterday, playing along. A biologist will examine the evidence.

If there's enough, a panel will consider whether to propose the classification and necessary safeguards for Homo sapiens masculus.

So why is man essential?

"To date," Maxim maintains, "man is the only species capable of driving a 1969 Dodge Charger, operating a Microsoft X-box game console, converting simple grains into courage-boosting Tennessee whiskey, making cowboy boots out of other animals."

OK, we get the point.

The situation may not be quite as dire as Maxim's marketing suggests, though.

There are, after all, Coors Lite commercials, rap-music videos and even that Nicollette Sheridan-Terrell Owens opening to "Monday Night Football" the other night.

Still, male-bashing and sensitivity training have no doubt had an impact on "Real Man" stereotypes.

Will man go the way of the dinosaur? Should we be worried?

Men, here's a quick check.

Have you, even once:

·  Left a Barry Manilow song on the radio?

·  Apologized for body noises?

·  Eaten a hot dog made of turkey?

·  Color-coordinated your health-club clothes?

·  Missed the "Monday Night Football" fuss because you had figure skating on?

·  Considered fuel mileage in buying a car?

·  Thought a movie had too many explosions?

·  Cared what Hillary Clinton thinks?

·  Offered to cook dinner - and meant it?

And the ultimate test:

Have you:

·  Actually put down the toilet seat?

It may be later than we think.  

January 29, 2006: Take a Breather! 

The Ratline for 2006+3 is over.  It was the most professionally run, smoothest, toughest Rat Breakout I've ever seen.  It was well received and attended by all classes and the final ceremony was moving, exciting...perfect!  When the RDC was relieved from duty, and the rats parted to let them past...was awesome!  Then the old yells, the Spirit, and the Doxology were spirited.  Everyone was singing and yelling.  Well Done '06!

Now that I have time to think, I realize I missed the anniversary of something very important to me.  On 27JAN67, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died on the launch pad in a fire inside their Apollo Capsule.  It was something that I shared with my dad.  The whole Neel family mourned with the nation.  These were our heroes during a time when we really needed heroes.

Remembering the Challenger accident is important...but let's not forget these guys.

January 25, 2006: Oh, I get it!  It was the Class of 2007's Birthday.  Congrats '07!

January 24, 2006: "Well, I used to work at a pet store SGM, and I sold pet rabbits, so that was kind of traumatic."  Spoken by a Rat at New Cadet Military Training after the death of Flossie the Rabbit at the hands of my merciless Cadre.

NCMT round-robin began today.  Good stuff!

Tonight the class of 07 did an old yell for the class of '04...and I'm confused.  I'm sure '04 broke out on 2-25-01...not 1-25-01.

January 18, 2006: We're back to school and I'm busy as can be.  NCMT started up yesterday and the briefing we give the Rats went well.  Magnus!  You were mention by name as the "Father of NCMT."  I didn't even have to tell them to do it.  I did make sure they pronounced "Nor-de-nman" correctly.

We marched for the Governor's Inaugural Parade last Saturday.  The Cadets looked great, but the day was terrible.  We stood out in the cold and rain for over four hours waiting on the new Gov to do his thing.  Have you ever smelled a wool overcoat in the rain?  Have you ever smelled a thousand wool overcoats in the rain?  Well, it's not nice, I can tell you.

My nULL and the VWIL Corps marched in the parade too.  They looked great...though a lot smaller.

Hockey picks back up this weekend.  I'm looking forward to that.

January 7, 2006: I've decided that the entire Auburn football team needs to use the Roman Decimation, "removal of a tenth," where the team is divided into groups of ten, and one man in each ten is selected by lot.  This man is executed by his nine teammates by stoning.  This is my solution for the results of a bowl game so poorly played it looked like cowardice.


January 6, 2006: I just got back from Alabama.  I went down on the 2d to see mom and have Bess worked on.  This year was Mom's year to stay in Bama to spend Christmas with Jim, Lynn, and we missed Christmas with her and her Birthday.  Bess had a Recall that needed to be taken care of (new seat covers and a new air-bag sensor) and she has almost 15000 miles on her, so I had the scheduled maintenance done too. While I was waiting, I checked on what it would cost to Super Charger the 4.6.  Oh Yeah!  Get This!  They want $7500 for the Roush Charger, plus 8-hours labor, plus the have to keep the car for a week to 10 days to have the Emission Control Module calibrated in Michigan.

So...that's not going to happen.  I might as well trade in Bess and just spend that kind of money to get a Shelby.  That's not gonna happen either.  I'll just drive my little Rouse Sport around and be totally's still the most beautiful car in Lex.

While I was home, I, like every other Auburn fan in the world, suffered through the Whatever Bowl.  The Inner-city Mercenaries of Auburn were severely man-handled by the Corn-fed  Farm Boys of Wisconsin.  It was embarrassing.  The Auburn players and coaching staff could have cared less and it was obvious.  The meaning of the whole game was stated by a Wisconsin player who we all overheard say, "Welcome to Big Ten Football!"  And that's exactly what it looked like.  When exactly did the SEC stop playing football?

I drove back home on Thursday morning to miss the nasty weather reportedly heading for Bama and because I missed my family.  Birmingham is fun, but after I've had my "hit" of Milo Burger, I've had enough.  It WAS good to see Mom, Bill, Sil, Sherri, and Summer, Jim Lynn and Colin though.

The rest of my holiday will be spent with Kim and Elise and two of her sister nULLs.  I go back to work Monday.  That'll be good.  I miss my Cadets.


December 22, 2005: Elise and I are back.  The drive to and from PA was really great.  I listened to the Boss all the way up and Elise's music all the way back...but she chose really good stuff.  Bess got a lot of looks, including this guy about my age who pulled up beside me in a little BMW and gave me the "thumbs-up."  I gave him a "wave" back because, well, he should have waited for the '05 Mustang.  His car was kind of cool though.

My big brother Jim called to tell me he had mom go take a MRI.  He's getting concerned about her short-term memory, which is getting pretty bad.  We should know something in a few days.

I'll be heading to Bama on the second of January to see mom and to have the Roush recall taken care of on Bess.  There is a problem with the sensor in the passenger seat, for which I get a new sensor and two new front seat covers.  I'll have that done on Tuesday...and check on that Roush Charger they asked me about installing.  Can you say 415HP?  I think I NEED one of those to get to work on time.

December 21. 2005: Time Off!  

We punched the last Cadet out of Barracks about 1800hrs last night then converged on COL Hurlbut's house for food and drink.  I only had one beer cause I wanted to drive my car back home.  The party was fun but I thought it was just for the office staff and there were academics (spit) there.  But it turned out fun when everyone in the office got there.

Today is the first day of Furlough and I slept in to celebrate.

Tomorrow I drive to Harrisburg PA to pick Elise up.  I'm looking forward to the drive up and the conversation back.  I'm not sure I'll like the music coming back, but I'll put up with almost anything to spend time with the daughter.

December 15, 2005: Alright...If you haven't gone to see King Kong yet...GO!  The graphics are great, the story is fun, and oh my god Naomi Watts is absolutely perfect.  Kim and I went last night and I was dead tired, but the three hours seemed to go too fast.  It may not be the best movie I've seen lately, but it was certainly the most fun.  But, damn it, Kong died in the end...again, so I'm all pissed off.

December 12, 2005:

Well the music outside was frightful,

And the Corps was disrespectful,

So, why in the hell did I go?

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

I guess the days of well attended, beautiful Christmas shows are gone with the 1970's.  Tonight was Carols in the Courtyard, and once again, I was disappointed.  The little lady, bless her heart, playing the piano was just not with the singers, and the Glee Club was too cold or something, because they were just not on it tonight.  The Corps could have cared less and none of the things we've done in the past were done to make sure a sense of decorum was maintained.

I remember the days when our Combined Chorus at Woodlawn sang to a packed house in the School Theater (twice the size of JM Hall).  I remember the Birmingham Combined High School Choir singing at the Alabama Theater, singing to hundreds of people who wanted to be there to celebrate Christmas.  This place gets me down sometimes.  These kids have no clue how their actions sometime go against the very grain of American traditions.  What ever happened to peace and goodwill toward men?

But, Tookie Williams is still gonna die tonight, so that makes me feel lots better.  It should be a brighter morning when I wake up.

December 5, 2005: Friday we said goodbye to Sarah at Arlington.  She was killed in Egypt in, of all things, a traffic accident.  What a waste and what a tragedy!  We will all forever miss her bright smile and brilliant wit.  Though Sarah was not one of my students (she commissioned in the Air Force), if you spent any time at VWIL or MBC, you couldn't help but know her...she was everywhere, doing everything.  The photo below was taken by Kim on the day I took over the duties as Sergeant Major to the Corps at VMI.  I invited the whole VWIL class of 2002 (my Sisters) to the parade, and only four could make it.  Sarah is on the far right.

Elise and I made the trip to Arlington together.  I think it's fitting that my daughter acted as part of the Honor Guard for Sarah's Funeral.  I had duty as OC that night after I dropped Elise off at her dorm and got back to Lexington.  It was a long but quiet night.

Saturday night was the Lexington Christmas Parade.  I marched to Main Street with the VMI Corps and then waited for VWIL to pass by.  It was small town America at it's best.

November 30, 2005:  COL Hammond's funeral at Arlington was yesterday.  COL M. and I drove three hours in the rain to get there and three more in the POURING rain to get home.  We took up a VMI Piper and two upperclassmen who were friends of the family.  It was a well attended event and all went exceedingly well, but I sure wish I could stay away from that place.  I go back on Friday for Sarah Small's funeral.  I AM NOT looking forward to that...except that it looks as if Elise will be going with me.

Bummer:  Magnus stopped by Thursday and I wasn't at home.

Bigger Bummer: Kim hit a deer last night.  Her poor Me-Yatta!  It dented the left fender, the driver door, and took out the driver-side mirror.  I'm really glad she wasn't hurt.  By the time we get all the dents in this car fixed, we should just buy a new one.  As a matter of fact, I'm giving her two years to get ready, and then I'm getting her a new 4-Runner for her Birthday...bigger, higher, safer!

Way Better: Steph called me tonight from Florida.  She's using me as a reference for a job, and thought I should know.  We had a good talk.  I miss her.  All my "girls of summer" are growing up and moving away.

November 25, 2005: All the Neel kids are home.  Elise, Jay, and Barbara all got home about the same time last night.  Elise, Kim and I linked up with Jay and Barbara briefly at Don Tequila's after going to get Elise a new phone.  Then the kids went for drinks.

I spent the day watching movies and putting up the tree.  This morning I put the lights up, and now I'm going to sit on my butt for the rest of furlough.

2 August 2005: Kyla's Birthday Present

I took Kyla out on the back roads of Rockbridge County and let her drive Bess for "first" birthday.  She was in a religious group as a kid who didn't believe in celebrating Birthdays.  How fucking stupid is that?  When she left the group, her parents disowned her, so she has had to make it on her own.  Like everyone, I decided to make this Birthday a really good one.  She drove well, so I didn't worry about Bess.  We stopped for photos so I could giver a memory with the car.  She's quite a looker.

July 27, 2005: The 27th!  Holy shit!  The Summer is almost over and what Have I really done?

Let's see-- Friday, before I left for Birmingham, I went to Applebee's with Britt's mom, Shauna. That was fun; she's a good talker.  Shauna is such a pretty woman. 

The next morning I put Bess in the wind and headed for Bama and the Neel Family Reunion.  Most of the trip was uneventful.  Even the reunion was poorly attended this was over 100degrees in south Alabama and felt it.

I drove the back roads going home so I could meet Kim in Greenville Alabama for a quick supper.  In the way, there were some great strait-a-ways where you could see for about two miles.  It was fun opening up Bess and letting her run.  110mph was no problem, but that's as far as I took her.  At 110, the hood really vibrates, which is why the Shelby will have an evacuator in the hood, to allow that trapped air to escape at speed.   Other than that small problem, the Roush package really performs well, and Bess felt really solid on the roads.

Seeing Kim was great, but it was too short.  She came sporting her new Miata.  It's going to be a sharp car when she finishes with it.  Kim with a there's a thing!  Come home!

Monday I took it easy at Mom's, knowing I'd be busy when I got home...lots of domestic god things to do.  Jim, Colin, and I went to see The Fantastic Four.  It wasn't a great movie, nor was it well acted, but it was fun and took me back to those days when I read every FF Comic I could get my hands on, and prayed every day for a cosmic storm to hit Alabama.  Jim and I had fun telling Colin all about Lunsford's Store in Berry, and how we went to get a comic every time we went to visit Bawpaw and Grandmamma Lee.  Yeah, that's what we called them.

After the movie I went to see Bill and Sil before heading for bed.  We watched The Terminal with Tom Hanks and Catherine oh-my-god Zeta-Jones.  God is such an Artist!  It was the funniest movie I've seen in some while.

My eyes popped open at 3AM Tuesday Morning and I jumped in Bess, excited to be alone with her again, and ready to get home.  I'm not sure why.  I'm bored senseless without Kim here.

I talked to Jess Friday night...she's in Seattle.  Now that's someone I'm going to miss.

Stephanie IMed me last night.  Sevda called her, finally.  She and her nieces are going to visit Steph at Space Camp today.  I hope they become friends.  I wish all my people could meet Sevda.  She is such a sweetheart.

The BIG NEWS is: Jonathon proposed to Barbara on Monday and, believe it, she said YES!  The ring is gorgeous and I got to see it first.  So, I'm going to be a dad-in-law.  We're all very excited and happy for them.  Next: the wedding...and I'm thinking December, though they want to do it in April or May.  Next-Next: Grandchildren...little dark grandchildren!

July 20, 2005: Friday, Elise and I went to Winston Salem to Jim's opening.  We got there in time to help him put his two pieces together.  It was fun looking at some of the stuff that passes for art.  I definitely liked Jim's stuff the best, and there were some photos of Birmingham by one of his friends that were really good.  The steel lingerie and steel shoes were really cool, and there were two copper sculptures that I liked.  Elise and I agreed that the shampoo bottles were the silliest excuse for art we have ever seen.  Then there was this thing that looked like Mario spilled out of someone's video game onto the floor...too weird and not art.

Saturday, she and I headed for the beach.  On the way we stopped by Mary Baldwin and Elise took photos for her grand-parents.  We also stopped by my cousin Sherri's house to see her and her husband John.  He has an old Mach 1 which I want to photograph next to Bess, but, sadly, it was at the other house in Portsmouth.  We had a good visit and their dogs were fun.

Elise and I rolled into Virginia Beach about 2100 that night and spent some time walking the boardwalk and beach.  She wasn't really into the crowd, so we grabbed some dinner and went to bed.

The next day we went for a run, found a Schlotzsky's for dinner, vegged at the pool, hit the gym, ate supper at Macaroni Grill, cruised the strip in Bess, and had a late night stroll on the beach.  It was a great trip.

July 10, 2005: Last night was the Old Dominion Cotillion. One Cadet said, "This was the best party I've ever been to, and that includes my senior prom."  I think that was the consensus for the night.  The lads were just perfect (I took 20 this year), and we all had a blast.  The girls were great young ladies, and treated the Cadets very well.  I got comments from just about every mom and every dad about what a good group we had this year.  The founder of the Cotillion, Mrs. Pressley, stopped me to express her delight no less than four times.

My night was "made" when Angelica, one of last years Debs, came to say good night and dance the last dance with me.  How sweet is that?

Chaz couldn't get in contact with Holly, so he and I had lunch at ...Applebee's.  I spent Saturday morning and afternoon looking for a Turkish restaurant, but none listed on the web in that part of Virginia was still in business...or so it seems.

July 6, 2005: The 4th was great.  Blythe, Jason, and Paul all showed, and we cooked out and such.  The food was good, the beer cold, and the fireworks beautiful.  Mitch stopped by on his last night before flying to Qatar.  We have another "son" to worry about now.

July 7, 2005: Ah! Driving Bess to NOVA was too much fun. It rained a bit, but mostly it was just overcast, making for a nice cool trip. I didn't hit traffic until Manassas, and even then it wasn't too bad. My Mapquest search took me right to the place Jess picked, The Sweet Water Tavern, and got me there in plenty of time to find just the right parking slot.

Jess arrived fashionably late, and looked like a million usual. The burger I had was, no doubt, the best I have ever had in my life. Talking with Jess was refreshing and fun, political and Christian, serious and goofy. I could talk to her for hours!...which I did. We didn't leave the table till 2 O'clock...then we went for a spin in Bess. Jess is a good driver and didn't scare me at all. I'm glad I got to see her before she left.

Tonight is the Mixer for the Cotillion. I'm checked into the Westfields Marriott, and the room is nice. I'll write more tomorrow...maybe tonight.

July 6, 2005: I'm off to Chantilly tomorrow.  I'll get out of Lex about 0800 to make a 1130 date with Jess Miller.  I'm really looking forward to that.  I'm really going to miss her when she leaves for grad school out in Washington state.  Chaz Wagner is going to try to contact Holly Forte for a lunch date on Saturday.  I hope that works out; I haven't seen Holly since the Azalea Festival in 2002, and I've only seen Chaz in passing.

I gassed up Bess this morning and I'm all packed.  I've drawn all the sabers and such.  I'm about as ready as I'll ever be.  Now we'll see which Cadets show up.  This thing is such a hassle, but I had a blast last year.  My summer will be twice as enjoyable when it is over.  Wish I had a date...but the babe-of-choice is back down in Florida.  I dropped her off at the airport in Roanoke yesterday.  Last night was a bummer.

I think I'll go vacuum Bess so Jess won't think I'm a slob when I pick her up.  I Need a drive anyway.

Camera!  I can't forget my Camera!

July 2, 2005: Elise and I drove back from Birmingham Thursday night rather than wait till Friday morning.  Elise's poison ivy, which she got while going for a midnight swim in the Maury, was getting much worse.  I tried to help by scrubbing the worse spot and bathing it in a base, but that didn't help.  My baby was miserable, so I drove all night so she could go to her doctor.  She gave Elise a steroid shot, some pills, and some ointment.  She also got a tetanus shot to treat what she said looked like "a post-operative infection" on the place that I worked on.


The funeral in Bama went well.  As I pictured, it was a reunion of Machaira's finest.  Ed came in for the viewing but had to get back to Nashville, Deb was there, but Boyce had to work, and Sally showed.  Elise went to lunch at Logan's with Sal and her husband Dan after the graveside.  After lunch Elise and I drove out to Birmingham-Southern to see my Brother Jim.  He's working steadily on a sculpture for a new park in Birmingham.  He'll open a show in Winston Salem on the 12th.

Wednesday night I rented Love Song for Bobby Long and watched it with Mom and Sil.  They liked it a lot.  I need to buy that movie.

This weekend is the Independence Day Balloon Fest on the Parade Ground.  I've spent the better part of my time since Birmingham war-gaming a way to make sure no one parks close to, or drives close to my car.  I think I've got it figured out.  Bess is still a real curiosity item.

We'll be cooking out tomorrow.  Blythe, Jason, Paul, and Paul's dad will all be stopping by.  I'm looking forward to seeing them.

June 27, 2005: We  got the word from Birmingham last night that Chuck Farmer died.  Chuck was one of the founding members of our church; one of the older people who combined with the young bible study kids under Ron.   He had a great ministry among the youth of the city and in the prison system.  He was truly a great man and a great believer.

Elise and I will travel to Birmingham tomorrow for the funeral on Thursday.

Today, Elise and I went to Charlottesville to get her ID Card.  On our way back, we met Kim in Staunton for lunch at Chili's.  We called Ed on the way to make sure he got the funeral info, and Sally to make sure she knew and to wish her a Happy Birthday.  She, Dan, Elise, and I will have to get together while we're home.  Hopefully Ed and Kathy will have time for that too.  I'd love to see Boyce and Deb, Jim and Lynn...It should be a good gathering of the old group.

The circumstances are sad, but it will be good to see everyone.

Got up last night close to midnight to have a few beers with Lauren, Jeff, and Elise.  Lauren was upset, and Elise woke me to cheer her up.  I did my best.

Barbara and Jonathon called tonight.  I had a good chat with them both and I think I have their time-table down for the next two months.  Jay will be going to Recruiting School in August and Bar-bara will be going to the Cape.  Hopefully, we'll see them both very soon.

Tomorrow is Dize's Birthday.  It would be fun to be in Alsancak for that.

June 23, 2005: Kathy Whitt', her parents, and her kids Brock and Ali stopped by to see me the other day.  Chris, her husband and former VMI AROTC colleague, is in Iraq fighting the good fight.  It was good to see them all.  The kids have really grown.

Kathy was one third of the VMI AROTC "race team."  She, CPT Val Jackson, and I used to run in races around Virginia.  We were the only three in the whole department interested.

I walked around the construction sites with the Commandant, the Supe, COL Joyner, and General Green yesterday.  I took a lot of photos, thanks to my very cool father's day present, a 1GB Memory Stick, which Kim got for my camera.  FINALLY!  I'm going to begin a page so people can see what's going on here by visiting my page.  Look for a link on my "main page."

Friday, Elise and I will go to MBC to register.

June 13, 2005: I'm on leave this week.  Kim, Elise and I have a couple of trips planned, but first-things-first.  I washed the car Saturday.  It has become quite the conversation piece on Post.  While I was washing it, people would stop just to talk "Mustang Stuff."  A guy in town got a GT the same color and everyone thinks it's me.  I get reports of being places I never go.  The Cadets seem to love it a lot.

This morning, Elise and I went to her physical therapy appointment together.  The therapist really knew her stuff and was the first to identify what the problem probably is.  But this all took place during my run time, so--no run today.

I talked to Stephanie two days ago in IM.  She is in Izmir working for the summer at Space Camp.  She seems to be having a great time and has met some nice Turks to hang out with.  I mentioned a few of my favorite places, and she just sent me a photo of her at my favorite restaurant the Altin Kapi.  She couldn't have known, but in the background were the very seats that friends and I sat in the last time I was there.  She also send a photo of sunset on the First Kordon.  Both reminded me of my good times in that city, and made me a little homesick.  I really need to get back one day soon.

Tomorrow, Kim and I are going to Waynesboro.  If I can coordinate it, we hope to get our ID Cards sorted out at the JAG School at UVA.  Let's see...I have been retired for 4 years now, and still don't have a retiree card.  I should take care of that.

Wednesday, the three of us will go to Ft. Lee for a little PX shopping.

My running is going well.  Sunday was a 6 miler, which is longer than I've run in a year.  Next Sunday I'll be going for 8.  Kim and I are playing tennis again, and she's getting a lot better.  Elise have formed the Monster Neel Racket Ball Team.  Just ask, we'll demonstrate for you.

June 4, 2005: Just about everyone has asked what I named my new car, and I've been stumped.  Nothing anyone has come up with has suited me or the car.  Of course Sally wanted me to call it "Mustang Sally," but there must be way too many of those around.  I thought about naming it Shelley after a friend at Woodlawn High who drove a Mach I, but that didn't seem like the thing to do.

This morning, as I  cleaned the road gunk and rain spots off of the car, the name appeared to me.  I decided to remove the Town and Country emblem off of the rear, and as I took the letters off one-by-one with a razor blade, I was left with the first four letters of "Bessemer, Alabama."


It reminded me of the landlord's daughter in one of my favorite poems, the Highwayman.

Kim and Elise agree; it's a great name.  I left the letters and the Ford oval to let everyone know who she is.

June 1, 2005: The past week has been busy.  Jonathon called and he and Barbara (living together now) wanted to meet in Birmingham for Memorial Day Weekend.  Kim and I jumped in the car on Thursday night and Jonathon and Barbara (love this girl!) got there Friday night.

While I was waiting on Jonathon and Barbara (sounds good together doesn't it: "Jonathon-and-Barbara") to get to Mom's house, I went around Birmingham looking for "Just the right Mustang GT"  I struck out at every dealership.  Adamson Ford on Southside had two Saleens on their lot, but at that point I was looking for a basic GT.  I drove all over Bessemer looking for Town and Country because the sales lady at Adamson said they might have a GT, but I couldn't find them.  That night, Kim suggested we all go out there and pulled directions off-line.

She, Sil, Sandy and I all went out there and they had two GTs, and about eight Roush Mustangs.  There was one Roush that stood out from the rest and I was drawn instantly to it.  Everyone was the same way about this car.  Sandy and Sil loved it, Kim was really supportive, and standing back and comparing them, the GT just didn't compare.

Saturday morning, Sandy and I went back and picked it up.  The drive back to Lex in it was fun, nerve-wracking, and convincing.  This is the Car I've always dreamed of owning.  People seemed to agree.  JD pulled into the Shell station as I was filling up the tank to invite me to join, a guy and his wife in a Camry pulled along side and actually took a photo of it, and the kids all wanted a ride but refused to drive it.

I spent yesterday cleaning the road grime off of it and it's sitting in it's parking slot right now, under a car cover, while I wait on the tax check to arrive from Birmingham, so that I can register it here in Virginia.

May 17, 2005: Ah, Summer!  

Today was the first day of summer and I have everything done so that I can work out of LeJeune Hall while the contractors tear up Barracks.  I moved my computer and the summer files.  The staff met briefly to plan the next few weeks.

The last two weeks were busy.  I ran the 4ths out to George Washington National Forrest for their FTX, 7-9 May.  It went well.  This past week was "dead week."  We did some of the best practices we've ever done, so we were more prepared for all the events than we have been in past years.  Graduation Parade, New Market Parade, and Commencement went off without a hitch.

Saturday after Graduation Parade, I went to MBC for the VWIL Graduation Parade.  Christa Duncan was there.  Christa was one of Jess Miller's friends, and she and I became very close and have stayed in touch through the years.  She brought her daughter Amaya.  I was shocked to find out that she was 5-years-old.  How time flies.  I'll get a photo of Christa on here when she sends me one...I forgot my camera.

Elise is home.  I left after New Market Parade to drive to Greensboro to pick her up.  I like that drive.  Elise entertained me with new music on the way home.

This weekend Kim and I will drive to Tennessee for the Jim Bean '04 and Scarlett Collins '05 wedding.  I get to be a groomsman.  It looks like a reunion for '04.  We'll be staying in a B&B close to Franklin and I'm looking forward to that.

May 1, 2005: I've just watched the best movie I've seen in a very, very long time--Love Song for Bobby Long.  I picked it up, not knowing a thing about it except that Scarlett Johansson and John Trovolta starred in it.  It was great!  It was so well written, so Southern, sad, funny and profane.  Great story!  It made me want to get off my ass and read.  And Read!

Kim thinks I liked it because of the two dismal flicks I watched yesterday--Sideways and Closer.  Both were a waste of time.  The only redeeming qualities of these two movies were Virginia Madsen and Natalie Portman.

Perhaps I'll have time soon.  Friday was the last day of classes.  Today is reading Day.  Tomorrow the Exam period starts and this weekend is the FTX.  I'll have a lot to do for that, but not much else.  So, I plann to run, and go in late, and hit the gym, and run again in the afternoon.  

This summer is going to be so slack, I should have the time to catch up on my reading.  I'm planning on a lot of books about the War of Independence and some George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin.  This is an area of my education that leaves a lot to be desired.

The Mustang is getting closer...I can feel it.  I'm thinking September.  I may have to order the thing, but it'll happen.  I'm hot for this car.  September!

April 27, 2005: This past weekend I took 36 Cadets to the Norfolk Azalea Festival.  I watched them closely so we didn't have any"mistakes" like we did in 2002.  I sure didn't need another bad rap and everyone was watching.  We had a Canadian 3-Star brief us about being on our best behavior.  I even had the mayor ask me three times how everything was going.

The girls were much younger this year...mostly high school girls, so the boys treated them like little sisters.  I took lots of really good guys and screened them pretty well.  I had no problems out of them at all.  The girls were super this year.

Well...anyway, we had fun.

The first thing was the Flag Raising at NATO HQ.  That went well, but was just a bunch of saluting.  The Norwegian escorts hadn't arrived yet, so each VMI guy had a girl on each arm.  When the ceremony was over we got to "meet" the Canadian 3 Star.  It was a good speech, low key, and what the Cadets needed to hear.

Then we went to the Tattoo, which was big fun.  We need to take the VMI band to that next year.  We'd rule the show.

Saturday morning was the parade.  The weather held for us and it was a really nice day. Then we went to the Botanical Gardens for the Coronation of Queen Azalea 52 and lunch.  Lunch was NOT ENOUGH.

Then came the really fun part of the trip.  We went to a couple's home which was in an old car dealership a few blocks from downtown.  They had a game room that rivaled Chucky Cheese.  The kids went crazy for it and really began to get to know each other.  The food was great.  Upstairs they had their den set up like a 1950's diner.  Too Cool!  I need a house like this.

That evening was the Queen's Ball and the kids danced past midnight.  I gathered them all up and called for the bus about 0030hrs.  This is where the whole trip went sour.

In the process of bringing the bus around, our driver somehow ripped the entire door off of the bus.  We ended up having to wait 4 hours for another bus.  When one finally did arrive, and we finally got under way, our original bus driver announced that he had forgotten his cell phone back in the lobby and told the second driver to turn around.  I thought the lads were going to tear him apart.  I was pretty inclined to do the same thing.

We got back about 0930hrs...damn tired...and pretty pissed off.  The bus driver didn't get a tip.

Tuesday I went to Arlington to bury CPT James Edge '96.  I visited Luke and Ryan while I was there.

Today was catch up.  I began working on the Old Dominion Cotillion which is in July, the Augusta Military Academy Reunion this weekend, and the coordination for New Cadet Military Training FTX May 7-9.  I'm busy.

April 18, 2005: This is truthfully the first time I've had a chance to write in this since my lat entry.  Every waking hour has been spent at work or working on work related stuff.  Today I'll finish up the Sergeant's rank packets for the boss to look at.  I've checked out everyone on the list and all I have to do is type in the questionable particulars and then let the boss make the calls.

Friday was one of the most hectic days I've had in a long time.  I started out after a run in Evan's Dining Hall rehearsing the Color Guard for the Marshall Awards final session.  The morning was spent trying to round up all my flags which were scattered all over the place.  At 1330hrs I took a small Color Guard up to Natural Bridge for a posting.  We got back by 1545, just in time to watch the Drill Team demonstrate for Parade, and then we had a normal Friday parade for the pre-strains.   After that I had to brief the pre-strains prior to the system's briefing.  I didn't get home till about 1945.

I used Saturday to get a lot of stuff done that's been slipping over the past few weeks.  I went to the barber and the laundry.  I turned in some film and a DVD that have been sitting on my desk for a very long time.  I washed and folded a ton of clothes.  Elise and I went up to Mary Baldwin (she was accepted last week) to pick up some stickers for the cars, but the bookstore was closed.  We drove all over Staunton and even stopped by the Ford place to sit in the new Mustang.  I'm getting one in the Fall.

Kim and I went to see Amityville Horror last night.   It was a pretty boring movie, and surely wasn't very horrible.  I went to the Chessie this morning.  I walked down the trail about 50 feet and turned around.  I was just not in the mood for "beasting" myself.  I'll start tomorrow after a good night's sleep.

Kim, Elise and I are cooking out tonight.  The weather is finally getting warm enough to eat out on the porch.  Summer's almost here.

April 2, 2005: Tonight is NCAA Hoops night at the Neel's, so this will have to be short.  Jay, Kim, and Barbara are all down stairs waiting for the game to start while I type this.

Today was the first day of the Corps FTX.  About all we could do today was help put on the Special Olympics because of the rain.  I went around and took a few photos of Cadets doing good things.  Lord knows we could use a bit of good press for a change.  I've already given my photos to the Cadets collecting them for publication.

We lost a heart-breaker of a baseball game against Birmingham Southern today.  They are a fine ball team but two homers and three hits after that in the ninth has us down by one run.  With bases loaded, two outs,  and a three-two count, our last batter took a mighty swing and missed.  We'll play them again tomorrow.

I don't have to be in tomorrow until 12, so I'll try and do some updating in the morning.

March 26, 2005: I've figured out how to really enjoy myself at home in Bama--Stay only two days.  I just got home form a whirlwind trip to Birmingham, leaving Wednesday and returning three days later.

I got out of here about 5:30 AM on Wednesday and drove all the way in about 8.5 hours.  That's pretty good time.  Normally it takes me about nine.  I went straight to Moms and she went and got Costa's BBQ for a late lunch.  That afternoon I went to see Bill and Sil at their house and went back to Mom's to link up with my big brother Jim.

Thursday, Mom and I went overt to see the Lewis's.  Fed looks petty well except for the Oxygen mask he wears all the time.  Bernice looks a bit frail but seems to be doing fine.  In the late morning we took off for west Alabama to see Mom's aunt Janie.  I was very pleased with her state of health and mental awareness.  She knew exactly who I was and how long it had been since she'd seen me.  Not bad for 91.  On the way home we went through Aliceville to see My aunt (Sook) and uncle (Bubber) Alexander (no, I'm not kidding), but they weren't home.  We had lunch at The Plantation House Restaurant; very Yummy!  When we got back to Birmingham, we went by to see Jim, Lynne and Colin.

Friday I had lunch with Bill and Sil, and then washed Mom's car for her.  The rest of the night we watched TV together and talked.

This morning I got back on the road and headed back to Kim, Elise and Jonathon.  It was a fast trip; just long enough to see family without missing Lex too badly.

Now I have a date with Kim for a movie on HBO.  Tomorrow is my last full day of Spring Break.

March 19, 2005: Kim, Jay and Barbara made it home tonight about 1930.  We met at Don's for dinner.  It's good to have them all back in Lex.  Jay is on Block Leave after returning to Hood from Iraq.  We'll get to spend about three weeks together.

Knowing they'd be here tonight, I spent the morning cleaning house.  It needed it badly.  It didn't take me long.  I've kept up with it for the lat two weeks and Elise has helped out a lot by keeping the dishes washed.

This afternoon, I went back down to Mary Baldwin College for the VWIL tenth Anniversary Celebration.  It started yesterday with the Anniversary Parade and a briefing.  Today was Alumni Parade.  The best part of the day was seeing Jessica Miller.  Jess was the first VWIL Cadet I met when I got to VMI in 1997.  She stopped by my office to invite me to PT with the VWIL Corps right after I got there.  I didn't even know what VWIL was at the time.  Everything I know about VWIL and MBC, I learned from Jess.  Jess is, in my opinion, the best VWIL has produced.  She works for an agency that helps American families adopt foreign orphans.  Soon she'll start grad school out in Seattle.  She is one of the most spiritual people I've ever met and a perfect example of what VWIL is all about.

VMI is on Spring Break this week.  I need the time off.  I never want to go through a week like last week again.  You know it's a bad week when you're almost arrested for something you didn't do.  You meet all kinds in this job.

March 7, 2005: Continuing the "lonely boy" whine--I watched the new version of Lion in Winter tonight.  Now, who would remake that movie?  Patrick Stewart and Glen Close are pretty good actors as it goes, but compared to Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn, it just didn't cut it.  If they used the same screen play, I couldn't tell...or maybe the magic just wasn't there between this Henry and this Eleanor.  The banter just wasn't as quick, didn't seem as sharp, and I just didn't see the two as political or intellectual equals.

I'm probably biased.

One of my all time favorite movies is Becket.  After that, how could anyone but O'Toole play Henry II?  The first movie was perfect.  Why remake it?  It's like Annie Lennox singing Whiter Shade of Pale, Donna Summer doing a disco version of MacArthur's Park.  Why?

March 6, 2005: Well, I'm about as lonely as a lonely boy can be.  Sounds like a song.

Kady and Elise left for Bama Saturday morning.  I washed clothes, washed dishes, and cleaned house.  I watched movies.  I went shopping.  I fed the birds.  I'm still bored.  There isn't even anyone to talk to on-line.

Elise should be home Wednesday night.  Kim will stay in Bama until Jonathon and Barbara get there from Texas.  I should have all my people home by Friday week.

March 1, 2005: I got my budget in to Cadet Activities for the Drill Team today.  Let's see--I had $2000 this year and I'm asking for $14,000 for 05-06.  That should show everyone how serious I am about this.  COL LE was very cool about it; she didn't even flinch.  I thought Monika was going to pass out.

Hockey may be in trouble.  We had a really good game out in Chesapeake this past Saturday.  We lost by one point, but it was against a team that has whipped us all year.  The problem was after.  We had a complaint filed against us at Little Creek BOQ.  A Navy Captain said our cadets were too rowdy in the wee hours.  He called the Institute to complain.  We're trying to get to the bottom of it all now.  The good news is that we took third in the tournament.  Not bad for our first year in a real league.  We need our own ice rink.

Snow!  We have lots of it.  I hate snow.

I was out in it for NCMT today...and it wasn't too bad, but I had a few flashbacks to 1982 in Petawawa and North Bay Canada (don't believe these web sites!).  That was truly NO FUN!  Think minus 40 degrees, in black boots, field jackets and black gloves, jumping into 3 feet of snow, no snow shoes, no skis (even if we stupid Alabama Scouts knew how to use them), and trekking off the DZ for two hours in the howling wind.

February 20, 2005: This past week was all catch up.  I was basically two weeks behind when I got into work on Monday morning.  My next big event is the VMI Drill Competition that we hold here for local high school teams.

The week was unremarkable except for moving the 1st Class cars out of their parking lot for the pre-strains.  We do this every time when the parade ground is wet, and the 1st Class slots are never used.  There is plenty of parking around post without having to move the only people on post who pay to park, THE FIRST CLASS!

But I lost the argument with higher and got them moved.  I moved my own car to the 2d Class lot just to remind myself of what we put the 1st Class through when we do this.

I made sure I pointed out that none of the slots were used.

Last night was the Mid-winter Formal.  Most of the Girls-of-Summer, and a few new ones, had dates and they all came by the house to "pre-game."  I took lots of photos of Kim, the girls and their dates.  Kim and I dyked out in our finest and went along.  We called it an early night and left the event to the young, but not before we danced a few songs.  I was in bed by 2230hrs.

February 13, 2005:  We’re flying back to Greensboro today.  We got out of College Station on time in the little puddle jumper and I’m typing this on my notebook.  This little thing has come in very handy, but will be even more so if I stay in a hotel with wireless internet.  I was surprised thet La Quinta didn’t have it.  I’ll check next time before making reservations.

We should be landing in DFW in about 20 minutes, then have about an hour layover there before boarding another mini-aircraft to Greensboro.  At least that is a jet and I’ll be able to enjoy my music a bit better.  Right now I’m sitting on a prop and I can barely hear Gary Pucket singing about his Young Girl.  It just struck me that this is probably the first “present tense” entry I’ve ever put in my journal.  I think I’ll leave it that way.

I’ll sure be glad to see Kim and Elise.  The three hours to Lex is gonna take too long.  I miss my katz and my computer too.


 We were supposed to get on our next plane about 1215hrs, but the plane had a problem with a smoke detector in the cargo hold. We were delayed for about an hour.  That should put us back a Lexington about 2000hrs.  I plan to publish this as soon as I get there.

February 12, 2005: I just got back from seeing Jay at Hood.  I drove in yesterday after lunch with A&M’s Commandant and we linked up at Valerie and Scott Jackson’s house.  Val put me up for this night and the three of us ordered pizza for dinner.  It was good catching up with Val and finally meeting her two little boys Ben and Will. 

 After dinner Jay and I drove around town to see the apartment he rented.  He did very well.  It looks like a nice place in a nice complex.  We also drove by the Ford place to scan the Mustangs and went by his barracks.  His room is pretty nice but really small. It reminded me of my room in Kosovo.  As a matter of fact, the sleeping area was set up just like we set up ours, but had a walk-in closet, a kitchen area and a bathroom attached.    

 After our little drive-around, Jay and I went to see Million Dollar Baby with Clint Eastwood and Hillary Swank.  Great Movie, but totally different from what I expected.  This morning we had brunch at Scholotzski’s Deli.  This has to be one of the best places to eat in the whole world!

 Tonight was the Military Ball.  Stace Reeves met the Cadets and me at Douglas Hall and we all sat together.  It was a really nice evening.  Stace looked gorgeous.  Having her sitting next to me was like having my own personal Aggie historian.  She commented on everything going on and it was a cool way to learn Aggie Lore.  This is one very proud Aggie.

February 9, 2005: Happy Birthday Elise!  I woke her up with three birthday songs this morning, and I’m not sure she even noticed. She had a heartbreaking night.  Po baby.  She, Kim and I had breakfast together (Kim cooking), complete with birthday cake and presents since I was going to be gone for the rest of the week.

The C1C John Corrado, Reg XO Aaron Gleaton, RSM Joe Gill, 1st Class President Robert Oaks, and Honor Court Prosecutor Will DeShazor and I are all on our way to Texas A&M.  It should be a fun trip.  I’ll hopefully post this and later posts from my hotel room if LaQuinta has internet service.

First stop on the trip is DFW.  I hate DFW with a passion.  Then it’s off to College Station on a little puddle jumper, but it can’t be much smaller than this plane.  Stace Reeves should be meeting us at the airport.  I haven’t seen her in about two years…since that Christmas we all spent together in Texas when Jay couldn’t come home.  She has agreed to be our “date” for the week.  She’s even going to the military ball with us on Saturday night.

Hopefully I’ll get to see Jay on Friday, with the added bonus of seeing my friend Valerie Jackson and finally meeting her boys.  I’ll be driving down to Kileen that night and coming back Saturday for the ball and parade.  Can’t wait!

6 February, 2005:  I got back from the Marti Gras Drill Meet this morning about 0530hrs.  The drive back was painful, but worth it.

 We left at 0300 on Thursday morning and traveled through Birmingham .  I called Mom, Bill, Sil, and Jim and they met the team and me at Milo ’s Hamburgers.  The team seemed to like Milo ’s for the most part.  Seeing family was super.

We got to New Orleans in plenty of time for the commander’s meeting at Tulane, but got caught in traffic which made us miss it by just a few minutes.  I don’t think we would have found it in time anyway; Tulane is a hard campus to find.  Getting there the next morning during the daylight was hard enough.  

In typical VMI fashion, we were bunked out in a hotel miles away from where we needed to be, in a seedy section of town (condemned tenement buildings right out back), with rooms that were, shall we say, “not very clean.”  Our first indicator that we were on the wrong-side-of-the-tracks was the security fence surrounding the parking area and back-side of the hotel.  

One good thing was that there was a football field directly across the street for practice.  

I think we did really well.  It’s going to be a while, maybe years, before we are truly competitive at Exhibition Drill, but we’re close on Regulation.  I’m dying to see the stats.  The team worked hard, and looked great at every event.  

That night I let the team go to Marti Gras.  They had a brilliant time and no one got in trouble.  Having Gunny along was a smart move.  

I hit the bed this morning hard.  I got up about 0900, worked on Boyce’s Site, and then took another nap.  I’m only up now so I can watch the Super Bowl.  I’m still pretty tired.  

Kim comes home tomorrow.  YAY!

January 29, 2005: Jonathon is home in Texas.  His mom was there to meet him.  He just called Barbara and me.  What a relief!  I had a little talk with the Big Man to thank him for my son's safe return.  I know it's anthropomorphic to say this, but I can't imagine how it must have been to sacrifice your son for world.  This whole Iraq situation brings it all a little closer though.

More snow today, which as you may know, I HATE!

Last night the Hockey Team got smashed by ODU...11-3.   It just wasn't the same team I've been following.  I hope they got to play today.  They need to win today to get their heads up.

January 23, 2005: The Inaugural Parade went well, I only had to threaten one guy with bodily harm to make it happen.  We got out of Lex right at 0800hrs and drove to the Pentagon.  That was easy and we had no hiccups there.  After sitting for two hours we were moved to the security check area in North Parking.  That went well, but the sack lunch on the other side consisted of a sandwich-and-a-half, two little packages of Pringles and two small bottles of water.  YUM!

The busses got all mixed up on the other side, which made finding the right one hard.  Imagine 1100 Cadets milling around 26 busses trying to find the right one.  The bus marshals kept moving them around, making it even MORE difficult.

Then they took us to the area where we were suppose to line up, but had no plan to move the busses, and would not let us off of them until 20 minutes before step-off.  We ended up dyking-out on the bus, and finishing up once we got out.  We didn't have room to size the Battalions, so dressed by Company.  The area was too narrow and we could not get 15 Cadets across until we got by the busses.  We "broke it off and made it even" on the move.  The Cadets did an amazing job.

Everyone says we looked sharp, but I haven't seen the Video.  I just ordered one from CSPAN today.  The crowd along the route was super, though a little sparse by the time we got to the route.  Passing in Review was the best part.  The President gave us a big Thumbs Up as we passed.  I was totally astounded by the beauty of the first lady.  She looked amazing.

At the end point is where the whole thing got silly.  We had this unknown LTC tell us that we couldn't get on the bus till we had "accountability."  Well, our accountability was "buy bus!"  I walked up to him and said, "we're UP" and then turned around and told the cadets to find their busses and get on.  He was pissed off, but there was no way he was going to stop the Corps doing what I said.  Once you get them going, you better just get out of the way.  I made sure I took off my overcoat so everyone could see my greens.  Not many people will screw with me when I'm showing the medals.

THEN, when it came time to get my own accountability, the Legs in charge kept moving my busses.  I'd check a few, and then they'd shift positions.  I went up front and asked them nicely not to move them again...twice.  The third time it happened I got hold of the NCOIC and told him that if my busses moved again I was going to come see him personally, and that it would not be pretty.  He must have believed me.  We left shortly after that once I knew we had everyone.

The trip back was horrible.  We had three busses hit each other (following too close).  We sent two Cadets to the hospital.  One bus lost it's windshield, one had a damaged alternator, making them un-drivable.  Another broke down because of a water hose.  We had to send three busses back after the cadets, off loading two and consolidating the cadets in empty seats.  Major Fridley had the foresight to order a "bump bus" and it picked up one load.  Of course it began to snow on the way back.

We got back to Barracks about 0100hrs in the morning.  Once again, the Corps did great.  We didn't hear one complaint out of them.  They seemed reserved to the fact that they were going to have to sit and wait till we got it all sorted out.  I was very proud of the Corps' flexibility throughout the day.  They were just amazing.

Saturday was Breakout (-).  It was the easiest breakout for me in my association with VMI.  It was not an easy Breakout for the Rats.  The best part from my standpoint was not having to deal with the mud coming back into Barracks.  It remains to be seen how the last of the Rat Line will happen.  It'll be interesting to watch.  But, it's '05's Rat line, so everyone BUTT OUT!

We got quite a bit of snow Saturday which cancelled Magnus' plans to come visit.  Kim is in Alabama waiting for our soldier to call saying he is on the way home from Iraq, then she'll drive to Killeen to see him.

New Cadet Military Training begins this week.  Next week is the Tulane Drill Comp.  Week after, I'll be at A&M...warm weather...ah!

January 18, 2005: On my way back to DC tomorrow.  The C1C, John Corrado, and I have to do the final coordination meeting for the parade and recon the route to the Pentagon...again.  Thursday is the Parade.

January 14, 2005: Yesterday was my Birthday and it was a rough day.  I checked my Bio-Rhythms and I should have stayed in bed.  It wasn't until the afternoon that I felt like doing anything worthwhile.    Went to a meeting on NCAA certification.  Why I'm on this committee, only COl Chalkley knows. 

John Noonan commissioned in the Air force.  That was good to see.

I went home after that for opening presents with Kim and Elise.  Elise gave me a very cool dye-cast Mustang..."to tide me over."  Kim gave me the nicest humming bird feeder...all glass.  Can't wait to set it out this spring.

Today we practiced more for the Inaugural Parade.  The Corps looks great.  We're going to be the hit of the show.  Tomorrow, I'll drive the route, video it, and find a place to feed the Corps on the way back.  No Rest for the weary.  Next week is going to be busy...practice and inspections on Monday and Tuesday, another trip for a briefing on Wednesday, and then the Parade Thursday.  Friday is Hockey.  Saturday is full too, but that's a secret...shhhh.

Kim will probably be heading for Bama around Sunday to wait for Jay's call.  We're expecting him to get back to Texas around the 26th.  Wish I could go, but he and I are going to get together at A&M in Feburary.  I'll sure be glad to get his ass out of that screwed up situation.

January 10, 2005: The Corps returned last night so I was back at work this morning at 0630hrs.  What a shock to the system!  After sleeping in till 9 or so for the last three weeks, getting up at 6 this morning was just "Wrong!"

My last few days of leave were spent goofing off.  I ran a bit, but not enough, I read a lot, but nothing important, and I worked on the web page some, but to no avail.   I definitely didn't have "time" for my weblog or my journal (as Magnus pointed out this morning).  I watched about 15 movies.  Troy I own it.  Watched Miracle...great hockey flick.  Had some great checks in it.  Loved the quote, "the legs feed the wolf."

Speaking of Magnus, I had an E-mail from him at work this morning.  He'll be coming to town next weekend.  I'm hoping he gets here by next Friday so he can go with me to the Hockey game.  God! God!  Give me some Hockey!  We just watched VMI Basketball get whipped by Costal Carolina tonight.  It was sad.  The Corps and the team are just demoralized by all our losing.  A cadet to our left yelled out, "Come On VMI, Stop Sucking!"  It was more of a cry for the Institute than it was for the team.  I probably should have said something to him, but at that point we all felt pretty much the same.

You know?  When your big man has only 6 points in a game, there is something wrong.  Here's the 505 spin on what we need.  You win Basketball games in the center.  Your big man has to be fed the ball and you have to fight for every rebound.  You use outside shooting to open up the center.  We kept up with them the first period with outside shooting, and then they ate us up from everywhere on the court the second half.  They had one kid (Pele Paelay) with about 38 points.

We did the Corps memorial service for Adrian Cmerek today.

Tomorrow I better do some serious coordinating.  NCMT is kicking off, it looks like I'll be marching with the Corps in the Inaugural Parade (me and COL Brodie), and we're on short final for the drill competition at Tulane.  Busy-busy!

December 31, 2004: The drive up to Maryland was uneventful.  I knew right where I was; this was very close to Shari's hometown.  I would have been better had she been home from Germany.

I got the flags to the funeral home about 1545, so, with 4 hours till the funeral, I drove down to Old Town Laurel and looked around a bit, then got a room for the night.  I got up and dyked-out in greens for the service, jumped in the car, and then got totally lost trying to get back.  I made it just in time for the service.

It was an amazing show of affection for this great young man.  The chapel was full.  Every seat was taken; people lined the walls three deep.  The hall was the only place left for late-comers like me and we filled all the halls to capacity with some people standing just outside the door.

Chap Park did a great job.  Coach McCombs and Coach Bartlett both had great words.  Jackson Todd did a fine job on the pipes playing Amazing Grace.  The Class of '05, '06, the football team and the lacrosse team showed in large numbers.  It was a good tribute and I'm sure the Cmerek family was comforted by the turn-out.

The first thing I did after the service was call Kim to ask her to talk to Jonathon about attending VMI when he is out of the Army.  I want him to be a part of this.

After a restless sleep, I headed home.

December 28, 2004: The memorial service for Cadet Cmerek will be at 2000hrs Thursday, in Columbia Maryland.  Details are on the VMI Web Site.  I'll travel up with flags.  Today I did some coordination.  I asked COL B to find a piper...I think Todd is going to do it.  Called the class president so he could advise the '06.  Called the Commandant and the Supe to advise them.  Talked to LTC Mac to get the info on the site.  Talked to Will and Mike (Roommates).  Passed the info to the Guard Room so they can give out the info to those who call.  Just called L-Train to let him know.

December 27, 2004: Today we found out that one of our Cadets, Adrian Cmerek '06, died from injuries he received in an auto accident.  He was a member of the football and lacrosse teams...a great young man.  What a loss!

December 22, 2004: School's Out!  I wonder if Cadets know that we look forward to furlough as much as they do.  I walked home about 1730hrs and put on my PJs.  I haven't worn anything else since.  I will have to get in uniform for one more thing today, then I'm back in PJs.

We had to bury a young '99 Alum today.  1999!  The poor kid died of cancer.  What does that make him...27?  Nobody should die of cancer at 27.  I took flags to Jackson Memorial Hall about 1100hrs.  I ran into Nichole Ford '02 while I was there.  What a beautiful girl she is.  I opted out of going to the service.  Chap and SGT Wineman '99 had it well in hand, and I've had about all the funerals I can take for a while.

Britt's mom and grandmother, Shauna and Susie, came over tonight.  What fun.  It's the first time I've had to talk to either at length.  I found out that Susie is a poet and has written a poem about a photo I took of the girls in that family.  They think the photo is great.  I think it was an accident.  Susie and Shauna want to send it to a few magazines along with the poem.  That would be cool.

December 20, 2004: The parents came in yesterday morning.  They got here a lot earlier than we thought they would.  We were still at the breakfast table when they came in the door.  Scared the heck out of us.

It's cold.  It's about as cold as I've ever felt it here in Virginia.  I was just out in it and it's brutal out there.  We have a broken water main right beside Moody Hall and it's surging up from under the street.  Once the city gets it shut off, it's going to be an icy mess.  And we'll have no water for a day or so.

fallingrock(12:22:15 AM): SGM
NEEL 505 (12:22:36 AM): hi
fallingrock(12:22:53 AM): i was wondering if you had any 10 for 1 pt details
NEEL 505 (12:24:02 AM): you could scuba dive down the sewer beside moody hall and fix the watermain so i can flush my toilet
fallingrock(12:25:33 AM): ok sounds logical, ill do it now, can i mark my doorcard "authorized absence on-post?"
NEEL 505 (12:26:06 AM): sure
NEEL 505 (12:26:10 AM): be careful
fallingrock(12:27:31 AM): always, i am a careful cadet

December 15, 2004: Well, let's see--This week is Christmas get-together week.  Monday was the Corps Christmas Supper, Carols in the Courtyard, and the Candle-light Service.  We had breakfast with the staff on Tuesday, then Kim and I had Holly, Kay, Sandy, and Stephanie over to the house for lunch.  Kim did a spectacular job.  Today was the Staff Luncheon at the Commandant's house.  Mrs. Hutch put on a feast.  My favorite--the pork tender loin.  YUM!  Friday, the ladies are feeding us breakfast during the morning staff meeting.

Exams are over and the Girls of Summer are closing in on Lex.  Lauren stopped by the office for a few minutes  before the Corps Supper.  It was good to see her.  Cool Hair!  I miss having all the girls stop by during breaks in the summer painting.

This weekend the Parents come in from Birmingham.  Yay!

December 11, 2004: It was a busy week.  The funeral at Arlington was fantastic; a fitting tribute to a great young man.  Luke's parents, girlfriend, and Jessie were absolutely courageous.  Pastor McDearmond's comments were spot-on.  The Class of '02 had a great showing and VMI men and women came from all over.  It was a VMI day.  The officers from '05 ('02+3) did a great job and complimented the Old Guard's ceremony.

Wednesday, we fired the new M9 pistols.  I let the NCMT Cadre fire about 1000rds.  I got in a few myself, though I didn't take my time.  It was fun.

Thursday was another night of AOC duty.

Today we got trounced in Basketball by some team named Towson or something.  I never heard of them, but the can play some ball.

Tomorrow is the Supe's Christmas Reception.

December 6, 2004:  Sure sign that the boy is getting old and is under too much pressure--Today was my wedding anniversary and I didn't forget it, I just didn't know what day it was.  I noticed as the first Cadet came in to answer a special report, and as I dated it, it hit me.  I picked up the phone and called Kady, and she was as surprised as I was.  Guess she's busy too.

Elise, Kim and I did a long lunch at Applebee's, then I went back to work.

AOC was fun last night.  The time went by fast.  There was an RDC Meeting and then a Sweat Party just before Taps.

Tomorrow we bury Captain Luke Wullenwaber '02 (He was promoted posthumously to Captain).  I'll be taking 11 Cadets, leaving at 0800hrs.  This is not something I look forward to.  Long run first!

December 5, 2004:  This was a fun weekend.  I drove with the Hockey Team to  Williamsburg for their game with William and Mary.  We won 4-3, which extends my undefeated hockey coach record.  It was a hard fought game.  I headed for Bedford at 2:30 in the morning and ended up stopping in Appomattox for a two hour rest.  I stayed at the Super 8 Motel because it was too cold to sleep in the Car.

I met the VMI Color Guard at Bedford for their Christmas Parade.  CMDR McDaniel took them there for me and got them to the right place.  I played photographer.  The best part was meeting Miss Virginia Mariah Rice, who was directly behind us in the order-of-movement.  She posed for photos and signed her photos for the lads...she was very gracious.

I slept when I got home, so I missed the VMI vs. Virginia Tech game.  VMI won.  I got up in time to sort out the house for the SEC Championship Game.  Wil Nance and Major Fridley came over for the game.  Auburn beat a very tough Tennessee team extending their undefeated season.

Great two days!

Now it's off to Barracks for AOC!  Yay!

December 1, 2004:  Talked to Jonathon.  He and his unit are extended so we won't have him home in January.  Other than that, absolutely nothing new or remotely interesting happened yesterday.  The Cadets are back, I answered specials, yadda-yadda.  But do I love it?  You bet.

It was raining out this morning, so I put on my Ron Hills and acted like it was Aldershot again.  I'm still soaking...but it felt good to be out running.

November 23, 2004:  Furlough!  Finally a break!  Yesterday was the last day of classes for a week.  The Cadets signed out at the completion of their personal academic duty, but we didn't get the last one out of Barracks until 1730hrs or so.  I was ready to go about 1300.

The weekend before was way busy.  Friday was Ring Figure.  Ring presentation was at 1300.  I stayed for about an hour, and then came home to change in to civilian clothes so I could attend the VWIL Junior Dad's Parade at Mary Baldwin at 1600.  It was freezing up there and their little parades go so slowly.

After talking to Elise for a bit (she's doing so well in VWIL) after parade, Kim and I drove back just in time to get in Mess Dress and head to the Superintendent's for the Ring Reception.  Kim looked amazing, the food was yummy, and we had fun talking to everyone there...especially the father of one of the Cadets.

Ring Figure was really well done, except for the cadet actions in the ring.  They had no clue where to stop for their photo, when to bow, and the girls had no clue how to curtsey.  The Cadets looked great, and Kim and I enjoyed "rating their dates.

Saturday morning we had Ring Figure Parade.  I've NEVER seen so many people at a parade!  I'm sure it was the combination Ring Figure and the Citadel game that brought so many people into town.  The whole parade ground was encircled with spectators.  The Citadel game was the same;  our stands and theirs were packed.  Sadly we lost another tough-fought game.  The Personal Foul penalties were a telling factor.  I can count 90 yards in silly penalties.  I bet there were more.

The game went a little long, so I missed the first two Auburn scores against Alabama.  I ran home from the stadium and got there just in time to see the third TD.  What a game!  We invited the Doltz family over and they were a blast.  Their son Ryan (VMI 2000) was killed in Iraq and I got to know the family at the funeral and the dedication ceremony for Ryan's building at Picatinny Arsenal.  What I didn't know was that his Sister, his brother, and his sister-in-law are all AU grads.  Let's just say that it was a very Auburn crowd in my living room.

Sunday was the 18-mile Rat march from Harrisonburg to New Market.  I spent the entire march watching where I put my feet so I wouldn't re-twist my damned ankle.  It survived but I have a couple of small blisters...a first.  They are probably from walking funny favoring my ankle. I'm off.  I'm not sure how I'll spend my time, but this entry is a start.

November 14, 2005: War damn Eagle!  It was a great game against Georgia, both teams played well and Auburn won.  It's always a better weekend when AU wins.  

Today I have a DAY OFF!  What will I do with myself?  Well for one thing, I can write in here.  Next I need to go get a haircut before the Cadets put me on Inspection Platoon.  Next I need to go pay my speeding ticket.  On the way back from the Hockey Game on 15 October, I was pulled over for going 74 in a 55.  He was nice enough, I think he knocked off a few MPH so it wouldn't be reckless driving, and even complimented Bess...but this is going to be expensive.

Friday night I had OC Duty in was quiet.  There was only one Rat worked out at CQRB.  I got home by 9 Saturday morning, just in time to get changed and drive to Staunton to see VWIL in the Vets Parade.  Elise wasn't marching since she bummed up her knees falling on a PT Run.  Po Baby.  She had to ride in a Van following the Corps.  You know she was ticked off about that!  Kim, Elise, Jackson, Crowe and I went to Chili's afterwards.  She and Crowe came home after the game and stayed the night.

Sunday I slept in till 10 and washed the car.  I'm hooked on Lost.  I think I'll watch another episode now.

November 8, 2005: That's right!  I gave up trying to find time to build a new site and put back up the old one.  I'm just going to work on this one a bit and see what happens.

Kim is in Bama so I'm alone in the least for tonight.  Jay and Barbara left this morning for North Carolina where he'll be stationed.  Elise is confined to her dorm until who knows when, so no help there.  It's just me and the Katz.

Kim took little car down to Bama so Sandy could sell it in Florida.  He brought her Miata up from P'cola after he had it fixed.  I'm glad she finally has her own car.

November 28, 2004:  I've finally come up with a template I like for the site.  Now to work the content.  This should keep me busy for a while.

Talked to Kelley Mc in Germany for a while today.  She's a lot of fun, but Colin better get home from Iraq soon, or his dog is going be gone.  She's dressing the poor thing in pajamas and just bought him a blue bed with his name on it.

We talked to Jay for a good long time last night.  He was on till about 5 his time waiting on the USC vs. Irish Game.  We were all hoping...but oh no!  USC Killed them.  Jay seems pretty bored...which is OK with dad.  Still no word on when he'll get home.

November 26, 2004: Nice slow day today.  Not much to do but sleep in and nap.  Watched a little Band of Brothers.  God!  What heroes those guys were.

Put up the tree yesterday.  That took about 4 hours.  Kim is putting on the ornaments right now.  She decorates the most beautiful tree in the world.  She let me put up my ornaments and, this year, Jay's ornaments.  It just hit me that this is the first year we won't have him home for Christmas.

Took some photos of Elise and Britt, and Britt's family last night, they turned out really well.  Then we sat down for Thanksgiving Dinner, a traditional Neel dinner of Chicken Enchiladas (Elise's request).  Then the girls had a pool party in the tub, complete with Vodka, Mask and Snorkel, and Scooby-Doo Bubble Bath.  Sorry Lads, no photos of that.

November 24, 2004: So.  I have all this time off from work for the holidays, so I've decided to bite the bullet and start the new site in earnest.  I saved the old one to CDRom, which is a really weak way to go.

November 21, 2004: Ugh. No weekend this weekend. I just got back from Ithaca NY and Cornell University with the Stonewall Guard. We competed in out first-ever drill competition against teams that have been doing this for years and preparing for this for this all semester. We decided to go three weeks ago.

But, we did fine. We didn't win anything, but we put in a really good showing. Regulation Squad, Platoon and Colors were strong and the Squad Trick, though simple, went off with only a few glitches. The Platoon inspection was another matter. By the time we got to it, we'd been in ducks for more than on dance, had been practicing in the rain, and got there so late that we had no place to sit. 

We learned a lot, and we will compete again in the spring a lot more prepared.

The best part about the trip, as always, was spending time with the great young Cadets of VMI. Though they were operating on about a hour of sleep, nothing ever got them down. The worst part: Driving 18 Hours in a packed van, though that had some high points too.

We got in this morning at 0400hrs. I hit the hay at 0500 and slept in till noon, ate lunch with Kim and Elise, and then went back to bed.

November 17, 2004: Got word this morning that 1LT Luke Wullenwaber, VMI 2002 was killed in Iraq. What a loss! Luke was in my second-year classes in ROTC. He was an outstanding young leader...Scuba, Airborne, Ranger...his little brother Jesse is my BR.

November 16, 2004: Pretty good run this morning. It's been three weeks since I could get in a decent one. The barracks crud has had us all pretty ill. Helped AROTC conduct the PT Test in the afternoon. SRC tonight was Thanksgiving Supper. Kim and I sat with "Seal Team 06" and a few others. The chow was great.

Re-arranged the cave. Better!

November 15, 2004: Back to work today. Got in just in time for good-ole BRC Inspection. Nothing new there--the Football team is on the Gim. All have on soft-shoe. Must be the reason we haven't won a game all year...everybody has hurt feet! Soft shoe GIM is so wrong. After walking the 25 miles from Staunton to Harrisonburg, I wore low quarters the next day. I wouldn't be caught dead in uniform and sneekers. Weak!

Note to self, "go see the Doc and ask what the hell he's thinking."

Looked at the Drill Team this afternoon. They are doing very well. Gunny came out to help...that was good. I think we'll do fine at Cornell.

Got to talk to Miri on Yahoo Messenger tonight. She's a German cop (CIVPOL) buddy from Kosovo...tall, cute, fit, and has her on weapons and I used to describe her. She's in Montana now, married, with a cute little girl, and another on the way.

November 14, 2004: Took a drive in little car with Elise to out past Covington on Interstate 64, to take photos of a covered bridge just off Exit 10. It was a beautiful drive with lots of Elise Music to pass the hour or so driving out there. Luckily, the radio blew a fuse on the way back. Kidding.

Saturday was good--America's Team, the Auburn Tigers, beat Georgia and we're up in the polls because of it. If we beat Bama in the Iron Bowl and Tennessee in the SEC Championship, we should be ranked above Oklahoma. Every Auburn fan in the country can feel it--This is OUR YEAR!