Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Super Bowl is Seven Days Away

To celebrate the fact that Peyton and Co. will take the field in a little less than a week, here is one of the classic bits from Saturday Night Live.

Makeup Mallory

Mallory has a new found fascination with makeup. For a while she has watched mommy as she gets herself together in the morning. Often there was a quick brush of foundation or spritz of hair spray.

Now Mallory has her own makeup mirror, complete with lights and a tray to hold all of the things that a 3-year-old 'needs' to make herself beautiful.

It usually ends with a glob of lip gloss in the corner of her mouth and several streaks of eye shadow across her cheeks. She loves every minute of it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Army Standard Sit-ups

At Mallory's daycare, they provide a time for a company called Stretch-and-Grow to come in and work with the children. Mason did it for the years he was at Abacus and Mallory followed suit.

Today she came home and started doing sit-ups on the floor in front of the TV. I immediately had flashbacks to my Army days and saw images from Field Manual 21-20 (Army Physical Fitness).

Watch the video of Mallory's sit-ups below to see some regulation sit-ups.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Separated at Birth?

Is it me, or were Kevin Gillespie (of Bravo TV's Top Chef) and Yukon Cornelius (of Burl Ives' 1964 classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) separated at birth?

You decide.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Its All Fun and Games ...

One of the things I miss most about the Army is some of the extreme(ly funny) situations that I found myself in while serving. Soldiers get bored in the field and their minds begin to wander. There are two oft-repeated saying in the military:

1) idle hands are the devil's workshop.
2) Whenever a group of soldiers get together with fellow soldiers of the same rank, they all act like they are 18 (or 10). This is just as true for officers it is for the enlisted soldiers.

Which brings me to my story ...

In the Summer of 2002, the 2nd Battalion, 8th (U.S.) Cavalry, put together a golf tournament for the entire battalion. Held a small golf course in Copperas Cove, Texas, it was to be a day of golf, drinking and smack-talking with one's brothers-in-arms.

It was a beautiful day for an outing. Not too warm (by Texas standards) with a steady breeze.

I was paired with Dan B., Mike V. and Jon M. (I will leave their full names out of it, since two are still serving). Mike was our support platoon leader and he was responsible for all of the ammunition/explosives/etc. in the battalion. This is only important because the golf tournament was to be a shot-gun start. But, alas, a shotgun isn't loud enough (or dumb enough) for tankers. The executive officer for the battalion thought it would be a great idea to signal the start of the tourney with an artillery simulator (which is pretty much the equivalent of a 1/4 stick of dynamite). You pull the string at the top and throw it as far as you can. After a 6-10 second burn, there is a 3-second whistle and then a 100+db 'boom'.

The golf course manager was down with this on one condition ... that he get to throw it.

We all took our spots at the respective tee boxes and waited for the boom. It came and went without incident.

I only introduce that because Mike was our support platoon leader and he was in charge of the pyrotechnics. On the second hole, we were talking about our last field exercise. Mike chimed in that during the last FTX (field training exercise) he decided that he wanted to drive a golf cart through a cloud of smoke. "Wouldn't that be cool?"

Reaching in his golf bag he pulled out a smoke grenade. A cylinder slightly bigger than a 12oz can of Coke; this one was gray with a red stripe on it.

"You guys gotta take a picture of me driving through red smoke," he said. We, of course, were sold on this scheme and immediately began to look for the perfect place to do this. Our mission was hampered by several things: a) we were on a public golf course b) there were soldiers on every surrounding hole and c) smuggling a smoke grenade off of a military installation is no small thing.

But, we were now intent on capturing this event for all of posterity. We quickly became frustrated that there was suitable place. So, Jon resorted to other forms of grabassery (including pouring a cooler full of ice over Mike's head, as you can see below) while we looked. By the way, we were playing some golf during all of this, I promise.

As we approached the second to last hole, we had resigned ourselves that this plan was not to be. Then we saw it ...
There was an access road leading away from our tee box toward the maintenance shed. Our time had arrived! Jon and I quickly parked our cart next to the tee and positioned ourselves for the best possible shot (photograph, that is). Dan and Mike prepared the smoke grenade and took off down the path.

Twenty-five yards away, Mike pulled the pin and dropped the smoke canister. Dan quickly did a 180 as we heard the familar 'pop' of the grenade igniting. The smoke began to pour out of the bottom of the smoke grenade. Jon remarked, "Doug, the smoke is white. I thought Mike said he brought a red smoke." Uh-oh.

By this time, Dan and Mike had made there way through the cloud (which is the picture you see above). It was here and now that two things happened almost simultaneously. The first was, the wind shifted and began blowing from directly behind Dan, Mike and the perplexing white smoke toward Jon and me. The second was that Dan and Mike realized with most of their senses that they had employed a CS grenade. Yes, one of those pesky riot control grenades that billows a cloud of Mace at would-be troublemakers.

That same cloud blew right over me and Jon. There we were ... laughing and crying. Eyes stinging, skin itching, laying on the ground unable to catch our collective breath. We took turns sticking our heads underneath the water cooler. Jon wished he hadn't poured all of his ice on Mike several holes ago.
I don't think we finished our round. As we strolled back into the clubhouse, we must have looked stoned; blood-shot eyes, giggling like school girls at our stupidity. Our boss took one look at us and began to ask ... then he got a whiff of the distinctive smell of CS gas. "Nevermind," he said. "I don't want to know."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

He's Rich for a Reason

Warren Buffet weighs in on President Obama's decision to tax banks that took TARP funds.

"Look at the damage Fannie and Freddie caused, and they were run by the Congress,” said Buffett. “Should they have a special tax on congressmen because they let this thing happen to Freddie and Fannie? I don’t think so."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti vs Indiana

(note: for those of you that receive the email blast, please visit the website to view the embedded video).

Here is a little perspective on how terrible things are in the world.


Carmel, Indiana:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Life of An Army Spouse

USA Today published an article today noting that spouses of soldiers that deploy suffer from a higher rate of mental health issues. I believe this to be one of the more under reported consequences of the past eight years.

This is not the army of 20 or 30 years ago. According to the U.S. Army Research Institute, the percentage of married soldiers was 34.4% in 1954. In 1981, it was 55.2%. It now stands at hovers near 63%. That means, when a 500-man tank battalion deploys (like that of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry), it leaves behind over 300 spouses.

In the early 2000s, the Army struggled with this phenomenon. It was unprepared for this and, I believe, the Army as a whole was lulled to sleep in terms of caring for spouses by numerous Balkan deployments. Nearly unlimited access to phones, Internet, a (relatively) low threat level and short rotations allowed service members to more-adequately care for their spouses.

Now, the dynamic is much different. There are many more spouses to care for back on the home front. The soldiers are operating in a much more dangerous environment. And, while there is significant communications infrastructure (in Iraq, anyway) there are frequent blackout periods for a variety of reasons (operational issues, next of kin notifications, etc).

These unforecasted blackouts (or perceived blackouts) send panic through some wives. Is my husband not calling because he is dead? What is wrong? Why isn't he calling? He said he would call me this evening!!

My last role in the Army was as the rear detachment commander for my battalion. One of my main responsibilities was to help care for the spouses that were left behind. Our battalion was typical of the challenges that soldiers and their spouses face. We averaged roughly one divorce a week. These couples were overwhelmingly young, most with children. They were ill-prepared for the stressors that a deployment places on a marriage. My first sergeant and I cleaned out the government quarters of a wife who had just ... left. Her husband got one last note and that was it. After waiting 90 days, we entered the apartment and began to throw what was left away. We could tell approximately when she left because of the stamp on the milk in the fridge.

There are always the horror stories of the 18-year-old kid who takes the checkbook with him. Or, the young wife who doesn't have a drivers license or who can barely speak English. All of these happen during every deployment. In the Army's defense, they have begun offering pre-deployment classes for spouses. Unfortunately, there is an attitude of backlash against these classes borne out of a mix if immaturity and rebellion against the folks that are taking my husband away from me and our kids. Sadly, I fear that much of the advice the Army hands out falls on deaf ears.

As I have said in this forum before, I am blessed with a large, strong extended family. During my deployment in 2004, both my grandmothers Purvis and Slezak took a special interest in Noel, sending her cards and calling to lend an ear or offer support. Not all families have that and lonely spouses turn to whatever source of comfort they can find. My good friend (who is now a Major) Ted Kaiser always used to joke that the NCO club would host 'Wives of Deployed Soldiers Night' where they all get in free.

The wounds of war don't just manifest themselves in a war zone. The struggles in war time are very prevalent on the home front, as well. Please keep these spouses in your thoughts as you pray of our soldiers' safe return.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Proud Member of the 2010 Kelley School Cohort

I found out yesterday that I have been accepted into the Kelley Business School at Indiana University. I am excited about the opportunity.

I will be pursuing an masters of business administration through their Kelley Direct program. You can read all about it here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Doug Update

A week and a half ago, I started my new job. Thanks to some hard work, a bit of good luck and some connections, I was able to secure an interview and was hired a small consulting company here in Indy. I am blessed to be in such a great role and I am working with some dynamic, talented folks.

Sixty days ago, things looked pretty bleak. I had just been laid off with the nation's unemployment rate at over 10 percent. It was sad to leave my last job as I worked with some men and women that cared very much about their job and the company. I wish them the best as they continue to fight for share in a hyper-competitive market with enormous pressure from offshore competition.

I want to thank all the people who reached out with a word of support. My wife was very patient with me and the situation. My parents and grandparents were there to offer help and guidance.

The other genesis of my layoff was the decision to pursue an MBA at Indiana University. Last week I took the GMAT (after studying for what seemed like years...) and then submitted my application. I should know late this week or early next week if I am accepted.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just in Time?

Rest easy, my fellow Americans.

The State Department has revoked the visa of the man who tried to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day. The quick-thinking bureaucrats pulled it a scant 11 days after the attack.

Just think what could have happened if they had not taken such decisive action!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kudos, Indiana Department of Revenue

The Indiana Department of Revenue has undertaken a new strategy to collect the more than $100 million it is owed in back sales taxes from businesses around the state.

The have posted the name and address of every business that owes back taxes online. If you are interested, you can search for the business of your choice here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bank of Dad

For the New Year, we have decided to start Mason on an allowance. There are lots of different philosophies about when to start an allowance and how much it should be, but we settled on $3 per week (calculated on 1/2 Mason's age) and it is not based on a set number of chores; those are to be done regardless.

With this new found money, Mason wanted to make a purchase. We paid him his $3 (two in bills and one in change) and we were off to do chores. Our last stop was Target. Mason found a Lego set that he 'had' to have. The Lego set was $12. We explained to Mason that Daddy would loan him the $10 and that he would have to pay us back when we got home. "Deal," Mason said.

Upon returning home, there was much Lego playing and all was right with the world.

Today, however, the bill came due. At first there were questions. "Why do I have to pay you the money, daddy? You are supposed to pay me?" Then the nashing of teeth. "Awwww! I don't want to pay you my money!" he yelled, dropping to the floor.
Mommy stepped in with a quick diagram, explaining where the money came from and what it went towards. She picked up a tablet and drew the following diagram on the back.

It began to sink in that Daddy was owed $10. Mason went to retrieve his piggy bank and dumped it out on the floor. What we found is that Mason has not spent a penny of the money he has ever been given! He poured out $63 in cash and another $2o in coins! Mason is a little saver. He counted out $10 and handed it over proudly.

"A pleasure doing business with you," I said. We shook hands and I began to say, "You know, most banks charge ...".
"Uh, Doug, don't complicate things," Noel interrupted. Ahh, she knows me well.
(all photos courtesy of Mason)