Brothers

Brothers
E Plurubus Unum, Rex Montis

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Educated

In other news, I have recently started college classes again! Didn't really see that one coming at all...I have been in a pretty solid career position for about 6 years now. At the moment I have no intentions of switching careers or anything, I just felt prompted to go back and study. Strangely, not even for the sake of a Bachelors itself, but the supplementing of life in general.

One never ceases to learn, that is for sure. I am very much enjoying easing back in with a light 6 credit semester, online for now. Full time family and full time job are a lot to have on the plate without adding college as I'm sure many now.

Rabbit trail: Heard a radio station start out the day with an intentional up-beat news report of the top five uplifting stories. What a change! First story was a guy running with his dog, he got attacked by a black bear and the dog saved him. There were several others, but I was so impressed that a news station took the time to intentionally report something good!

I don't have television, intentionally. When I do look at the news, I go online and seek it out. There is so much negativity and sludge in the media I don't do more than give it a cursory glance every once in a while.

Nothing profound this month. I just like to do a minimum of one post a month. I did notice that a post a while back on Zombies got over a thousand views!!!? Crazy. I think it was that high anyway.

Haven't had many comments in a while. Must be time for something controversial :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Climbing

Summer, as usual, is passing by far too quickly. End of July already! I feel like I have spent the majority of the summer cutting my lawn. We packed a couple family vacations in. My wife said that family vacations feel like work, and a trip to Target kid-free feels like a vacation! Truth.


In other news, my love for rock climbing has not dimmed in the least! A couple local climbing enthusiasts and I planned and executed a climbing trip up the North Shore for a group of 14 guys (no plans to take a group that big again in the near future)

. Pictured is Matt, one of several guys I got the chance to get to know a little better. What could be better than good company, adventure and God's great outdoors? Very little at this part of the journey.

Everyone got a chance to rappel down Carlton Peak, then get a little bloody on the sharp Anothorsite rock.
The roundabout climb got us up above ground level about 1000 feet (not the height of actual climb). With two 60 meter ropes in my ruck I just about had a heart attack on that march. Here I swore never to go on a ruck march again...so much for saying never! It did remind me that the gym alone is not a well-rounded workout and I have since started hitting the cardio again.

One could say I have become a bit obsessive about rock climbing. Since the trip referenced above I have been back to Duluth area twice and word of a trek to the needles in South Dakota is rumored. You may remember a previous post last year when I was just getting started? Now I'm getting gear, inciting friends to climb, building a bouldering wall in my basement and hitting the local climbing gym in the winter months. Hey, there are worse hobbies out there right?

Hope everyone reading this is having as much fun as me this summer. It is nice to write a post when I am not angry about something. Ironically, that is usually when I write. Unfortunately it gives the impression I am a cynical rage machine. Not true!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ranger Ricky

"This is what my parents think I do, this is what my friends think I do, this is what I think I do...this is what I really do."

That was the phrase going through my head on a weekend camping trip to a state park. Going through my head as some park ranger tried very hard to be stern and tough, while coming off as a complete jack-wagon who always wanted to grow up to be a cop and never could. So, he settled for park ranger bad-boy instead.

Don't get me wrong, respect to park rangers, DNR, police and security guards everywhere. I am not trying to fulfill any stereotypes. But this guy took the cake.

I was having a great time camping with my family, except my daughter woke up at 0200 hrs that morning and decided she doesn't like camping anymore, screaming, yelling, flopping. So I did what any good dad would do; I caved in, and drove her to a friends house where we spent the remainder of the night.

Within minutes of returning to camp the next day, Ranger Ricky (not real name), a non-law enforcement, cell phone packing bad boy shows up at our camp. "I noticed you don't have a park sticker on your windshield!" He growls. No smile, no hello, no welcome to camp, nothing.

This tool is probably in his mid-40's, he's taken up a semi-defensive stance and has a hand on his hip/cell phone. (very reminiscent of Paul Blart, mall cop)

It took everything I had to summon up what some people call an inner-monolog...apparently the military never issued me one, and I've had to make an attempt with a artificial one I've developed. I responded, "Really? Could have sworn I've had one there since September 2013 and it's good for a year. Hmm, ltet's look!" To which he responds, "No...you don't." We walked around to the front of the vehicle while Park Ranger Ricky gives me the stink-eye and the "I'm-going-to-call-the-real-cops-on-you-for-not-having-a-sticker and I-don't-have-any-real-authority-but-I-really-really-want-some-power" look.

We get to the front of the vehicle and I point with an amazed look on my face and say, "Oh my gosh! Look at that! A sticker!"

Did I need to be slightly sarcastic? No. Did I anyway? Yes. Why? The age old childhood argument, "He started it."

No apology, no "my mistake sir" from him. Nothing. Just hands on hips, a glaring look on his face as he scans the camp, looking for some other infraction. He then points at a dog (which, ironically, was not actually my dog, but a different camp site's dog. I didn't feel like pointing it out yet, too much fun watching this wanker act like a complete idiot."

Still pointing he says, "I see your dog is tied to a tree. Just so you know, I've seen dogs get away from trees. Just make sure the dog stays secure."

With that, off stomps Park Ranger Ricky. My wife saw me turn around and asked why I was smiling. "Oh, I was wondering if that guy wasn't held enough as a child, and if he would still be able to breath with a cell phone shoved down his throat? I am also happy that for whatever reason, that guy is NOT a real cop."

Could I have handed that differently? Maybe. I could have been a bit more loving or understanding, and I usually am. Maybe HE had a rough night too. Maybe he's had a death in the family. I don't know, but in the moment, I guess I was just human, and didn't do a good job of taking the high road.

But, these are the happy thoughts that make me smile day to day. The rest of camping was pretty good by the way, but I think I'll wait until the kids are a little older before we try again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What is Stress?

Is in the eye of the beholder
 
You could say I work in management. You could also say many other things about the work I do. No, I am not going to come right out and tell you what I do either. Mostly because it is not important, and even though I have a weblog on the world wide web, my life is not always an open book.

The other day, I had a women yelling at me. No, not my wife. I often deal with people yelling, it's part of what I do. I very much dislike it when people yell. Ironically, I work very well when the yelling starts. I remain calm and get a steel-like disposition. Sometimes I yell back. Sometimes I don't say a word. Sometimes I take complete control of the situation. Sometimes it just plays out. At times I feel like a dealer at a casino, a mere observer as life is dealt out in front of me.

Back to the women yelling. She was growling in-between yelling. The problem she was having was actually pretty minor. I know when you reach a breaking point, it isn't the minor 'thing' that is the issue, but it is the straw that finally crushes you, and you do not act logically.

However, after the first growled statement, "You don't know what stress is!" I disengaged from the conversation at hand and was transported to a different time and place. A strange buzzing sound, some small puffs of dirt in the desert sand. It wasn't until I felt the air pass by my face that I realized what was happening. A 7.62 x 39 round had just missed my ear lobe by inches. I ate gravel as I hit the deck and low-crawled towards the radio a million miles away. I was on an OP (Observation Post) and needed to call in fire support before I could engage the enemy, I might not get another chance...

"Are you listening to me? I'm telling you how stressed I am here..."

I'm whisked away to another time, near the same place as they brought my friend back from patrol...in several different body-bags. He had stepped on an anti-tank mine. We had just played cards together the night before.

"...I mean, it' like you don't even care what I'm telling you. Now, as I was saying, do you know how hard it is to argue with someone who doesn't respect you?"

Many images rush at me. Piles of bodies, twisted, burned, dismembered. Truck after truck of bodies passing by my post, dripping a red trail for half a mile. The largest VBED (Vehicle Born Explosive Device) we had ever seen, killing dozens and dozens of the locals because they wanted to be free from a dictator.

"...Seriously, are you listening to me?"

"Oh yes, I'm listening to you...it sounds like you had a very stressful day. What is it exactly you would like me to do?"

Anything that does not kill us makes us stronger? Sometimes. I thank God every day, for each moment I get to live on this earth. No one gets out alive. We only get one life to live, and we should live it to it's fullest. Completely conscious that we are responsible for every moment wasted and every moment well spent. I can only hope I live out the design I was created for, and that I finish the race well. I long to hear these most cherished words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

I guess stress, is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring! Not

I am not going to talk about the weather, because that is depressing lately in Minnesota :(

It is the last day of April and I was having a tough time coming up with a post before the month ends. I didn't want to do doom and gloom, goodness knows there is enough of that in the media.

I did not feel like re-visiting anything "Iraq" related, though that has been on my mind a lot lately.

Instead, I decided I would focus on a good, positive program that is taking place in our are right now, and you can help!


8-26-14
That program was a fund raiser. It is over now and the program I was rooting for did not make it into the finals :( enough said.

However, it was fun to be very involved in a good cause. Think I'll do it again one day.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Room

I was out driving the other day, thinking about nothing in particular...the wheat fields were just black dirt covered in snow, looking like so much cookies 'n' crème for a mile in all directions.

Out of the blue I had a random thought that jerked me back almost 8 years to a hot day in Iraq.

(I have remove said story previously published for personal reasons)

With Fallujah falling back into the hands of terrorists I have been asked a couple times if our time in Iraq was worth it.

I pondered this.
We did a LOT of good over there that the media didn't care much about. We helped build a hospital. We built a water purification plant on lake Taqqadum. We instituted a school where girls could be educated (first in the area). That says a lot for an Infantry unit. That's not typically the type of mission we do.

There are certain stories I choose to never share. Too many questions, too many stares, too much judgment.

 I hear that time heals all wounds; I don't think it does. There will always be burdens I and my fellow soldiers carry. However, I find that the more I share, the more people are able to help me carry that burden, and it is much less of a weight.

Yes...freedom comes at a price. Yes...it was worth it

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's What?

So, haven't researched any of this. When did a story about a guy named Valentine getting executed turn into Chocolate, flowers and a mandate that guys do something special for their girls?

(Time to digress on a rabbit trail)

Don't get me wrong, I love doing special things for my wife. With three kids, I think it is very important to make sure you date your spouse so you don't turn into glorified roommates. I take my wife on one date a week MINIMUM. Lots of excuses out there...the top two being:

     1. I don't have enough time
     2. I don't have enough money

Those are both valid excuses. Wait a minute. NO THEY ARE NOT!
Though they certainly help, neither are a valid reason not to date your wife.
Some of our fondest memories are dates that didn't cost a penny. Get creative, do a word search on free dates, invest some of yourself into the process. The dating process doesn't stop when you get married. Unfortunately for so many, it does. Maybe that is PART of the reason divorce is so rampant in America.

If you want something bad enough, you can find a way to make it happen. Dates aren't about meals and movies and flowers. They can be part of it. Going on a walk is free. Friends, family, church can be a possible resource for low cost/free child care.

(back on track)

There, now that you all know I am not some slob that sits around 364 days out of the year, then complains about the one holiday where there is an expectation for a date.

This can all be summed up nicely. I was at the grocery store and the female clerk stated how Valentine's day was all about her and all women and it was the guys duty to do nice things for her. I looked at her, shaking my head (joking of course) and with typical Zeke-no-mouth-filter style said, "Only a women could take a day some guy died on and turn it into something about them!