Monday, June 27, 2011

SAPPERNAUTS

I'm in a CAPSLOCK mood today for some reason.

In any case, I thought it high time I explain to the masses how space combat will soon enough become a reality.

That's right, space combat. Dejame explicar.

Satellites run our world. Communications, GPS, information sending; Can you imagine a world without satellites? You'd have to give up a lot more than you realize. And when it comes to the military, it's almost more than we are prepared to handle. Some wargame scenarios have China (as only China, US, and Russia currently have weapons capable of) blowing our satellites out of the sky in one fell swoop; after all, there is nothing to protect them.

Which brings us to the next step: missile defense for our satellites. It could take various forms, but whatever form it is - space-based lasers, counter batteries of missiles (i.e., the STAR WARS program you might have heard about), space stations - the natural counter to such a missile defense system would be manned fighters.

Space Fighters.



AND SAPPERNAUTS!! Sapper astronauts who fly around in space and plant bombs on missile defense systems. So epic. Would make a great movie.


But seriously. It'll happen. And I'll rue the day I was born int he 21st Century beacuse I always wanted to be the best star pilot in the galaxy...

EPILOGUE
As an addendum, the other reason for space combat would have to center around some resource available only in space, whether its some space mineral or even real estate. Who knows, maybe one day moon dust will be used to make superultracomputers and robots.

OMG WTF LOLWUT THE EARTH ISN'T ROUND!!??

It looks more like this:


And GUESS WUT!!

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain, but not the tallest point on Earth as measured from the center of the Earth. Check this snippet from an article on the intranet. When asking what is the tallest mountain on Earth, it reads:

It is Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador. Yes, Ecuador.
Mount Chimborazo, in the Andes, is a 20,000-plus-foot peak sitting on top of a bulge on the Earth. Mount Everest is a 29,000-plus-foot peak sitting lower down on that same bulge. Because Chimborazo is a bump on a bigger part of the bulge, it is higher.
According to Senne, Chimborazo is 1.5 miles higher than Everest! Or, if you will, 1.5 miles closer to outer space.
If you define "highest" as highest from sea level, Mount Everest is still champion.
But if you want to stand on the place on Earth that is closest to the moon, that would be Mount Chimborazo!

My whole worldview HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY!! GET IT? WORLDview?!

source: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9428163

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movie Journal 01: Good Bad Teacher

So I have been to the theaters for the past seven weeks in a row. Don't be alarmed; that's just what happens when a movie lover lives across the street from the base movie theater. I'm not exaggerating either, look:



You can see the street sign, Gillespie, and the movie theater sign ins that white square just left of the stop sign, while the actual theater is that big brick building on the left. So far I've seen:

1) Kung Fu Panda - awesome
2) Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides - fun flick, gotta love Capn Sparrow
3) The Hangover Part II - hahaha
4) X-men First Class - Magneto is Epic
5) Super 8 - the Goonies of our time
6) Green Lantern - so bad its awesome
7) Bad Teacher - lolzors and also inspiration. Dejame explicar.

I decided last night that I would chronicle not only every movie that I saw in some kind of movie journal, but also the lessons I learned from them. I often leave a movie thinking about something or another, and then go home and dream something crazy that seems to only make me think harder. Sometimes its nothing big, and other times its life changing. This time, there were two things I walked away with.

1) The Teacher's Role. You know, the original teachers, such as Socrates and Plato, actually taught rhetoric and ethics. They taught moral codes and debated over what the "good" was, and how best to live one's life in harmony with mankind. It was no secret that you were going there to learn how to read, write, persuade, speak, and live. Only later did teachers begin to specialize and teach nothing but their own subject, dropping topics such as ethics and the model citizen.

2) Wants and Desires. In the movie, the main character thinks she wants a sugar daddy to provide her with a posh standard of living, and eventually realizes how shallow it is and goes for the gym teacher. (Don't worry, you see it coming a mile away; I didn't spoil anything.) Which made me wonder... where your wants and desires even come from. I don't have time to get into it just now, but I sense it becoming a recurring theme in 2011: where do your likes, dislikes, desires, and wants come from?  Experienece? Knowledge? Something else?

We'll see how the Movie Journal develops.

IBOLC Week 5: Land Nav

In case you didn't know, "IBOLC" stands for "Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course." Or something like that, anyway. And "Land Nav" is short for "land navigation," which is basically using a compass, map, and protractor to find points on a map. We spent a miserable week out in the field looking for point after point. It was non-stop drudgery through the mud, woods, and rain to find them. Granted, it is a critical skill, but this was a bit excessive.

We actually started the week with the Combat Lifesaver Course, which is basically just a first responder class. It tackles the subject of battlefield First Aid. Over the course of two days, including one day of classroom instruction and one day of practical exercises, we focused on:

1) Stopping the bleeding via tourniquet (did you know you can where a properly applied tourniquet for SIX HOURS before you are in danger of losing that limb?)
2) Making sure the airway is clear with a nasopharyngeal tube


(wouldn't love to have this shoved up your nose?) and
3) Treating tension pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung via sticking you in the chest with a needle to allow built up air to escape the chest cavity.

We packed up and moved to the Land Nav site to begin the real suck. To make a long story short, it rained every day, we tromped through the mud and woods all night and day, and ended the week feeling and looking like zombies. I'm pretty sure about half of us had the early stages of trenchfoot. We probably walked about 10 miles per day on average with our gear on, wet and muddy. My feet hated me and my legs wouldn't shut up. At one point I had to run uphill 4k in the mud in order to make it to all my points in time. The only thing keeping me going was the knowledge that if I failed, I would have to be out there an extra day with those who didn't pass the test. No thanks.

I can't tell you how glorious it was to lay on my own bed again. A lot of people have significant others waiting for them with dinner and what not, but me - I have a this divine sleeping system waiting for me, clean and comfy, that I just sink into... in fact...


zzzzzzzzz

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2012, Destiny, and the Aurora Borealis



Destiny, I'm on my way.

IBOLC Week 4: Advanced Rifle Marksmanship

This week was all about moving and shooting. Instead of sitting still and shooting at stationary targets, we practiced moving and shooting at both stationary and moving targets. It's an interesting feeling, running through obstacles with live ammunition,  your teammates running with you as you shoot, move, cover each other, and advance towards the objective.

Wednesday was a night to remember. With absolutely clear skies, cadre suddenly started barking at us to set up our hooches - there was a storm coming. We laughed it off but did it anyway. About thirty minutes after we hit the sack, it started trickling. Then it started raining. Then, it started POURING. I was inside my bivy cover, which is the waterproof bag that you put your sleeping bag in to keep it dry - only I didn't have my sleeping bag and I didn't stay dry. None of us brought our sleeping bags on account of the ungodly heat, and few of us stayed dry. I had a nice little puddle inside my bivy cover by the time the night was over.

It was funny though, in the middle of the night when the storm was at its worst, everyone was up laughing about it. People were yelling phrases like, "THIS IS STUPID!" and "I QUIT!" much to the amusement of everyone else. I've decided to carry around a voice recorder to get all the ridiculous conversation that goes on in my platoon. I think it would make a great podcast: "Conversations of Infantryman." Ha. A lot of it would have to be edited for content...

We made it through the night though, lessons learned: staying dry is a PRI-ORITY. Friday was shooting the biggest guns the army has: The M203 grenade launcher, the MK-19  automatic grenade launcher, and the .50 calibur machine gun. The .50 cal makes your insides vibrate when you shoot it. I cried out in sheer delight when i pulled down the trigger for that first burst. It was like skydiving, in that I couldn't help but scream from the pure sensory overload of it. And to think, I got paid for it.

Also! Wainwright, Alaska will be my next duty station. I looked it up, read a bit, and am completely stoked to be going there. More to come on that.

Friday, June 10, 2011

IBOLC Week 3: Basic Rifle Marksmanship

Week 1 & 2 were boring and you would have fallen asleep reading any posts about them. I couldn't even find any good Linguistic Ju-Jitsu to share. I did read "The Art of the Deal" by Donald Trump. Great read. Then I read the original Treasure Island (another great read; it's the genesis of every single pirate stereotype there is), and started reading Trump's "Think Big and Kick Ass." Yeah it's ok, not quite as good as Art of the Deal.

Anyhow, this week was the first week in the field. My initial reaction to the Infantry is this: This job is harder than you realize, and it's just the first week of field training. I mean, we all know it's tough, but it is seriously hard work, in ways that you normally wouldn't even think about. Waking up at 0400 is not even close to the hardest part. In fact, you get acclimated to it rather quickly, and "early to bed, early to rise" is vastly superior to staying up till 2 AM and waking up at noon. You feel better, get more done, and your day seems longer - which is good because that means there's more life for you to live. 

We marched a mere FOUR miles to a shooting range with EIGHTY pounds on our backs to start the week off. ((I'll be honest - it nearly broke me in half. By the time we finish this course we'll do a 16 miler.)) Then we spent the week on the range shooting rifles, playing with night vision, and getting used to the field. So yes, I just got paid to shoot rifles for a week. 

We lived on the range - literally. We put out our bedrolls, slept, ate, exercised, worked - all on the range in 100+ Georgia heat and humidity. We were not dry for a minute of it. Covered in sweat, grime, sand, dirt, and grass, we spent the week out there. After a while you don't really notice it. 

It does wear you down though, in ways you don't think about unless you go through it. For example, think about how often you stand in a day. As in: run a stopwatch for time spent standing, and I guarantee you that we stood about four times the average while in the field. It doesn't seem like much, but even just standing in the heat and humidity of the deep south's summer with a uniform, boots, the body armor, and helmet is tiring. You have to get conditioned. Thus this four to five months of training, which from here on out is all conducted in the field. 

Another thing you don't really realize is how soft your hands are. When you work like this, you wake up in the morning and your fingers and hands are just raw. Tying your boots hurts. Manipulating anything small hurts - like the snaps on your rucksack or buttoning buttons. It's kind of like when you've been outside in the cold for a long time and then come inside, except instead of feeling weird and being numb, your hands just feel raw. Your body has to be weathered in order to toughen up. 

And this was just five days in the field! As opposed to one year in theater! There was no combat, no life-threatening situations, very little manual labor aside from the march. Just shooting. It's still tough. Tougher than I thought it would be, to be honest. 

We marched about a mile and a half back from the range to our HQ with all that gear. As soon as we dropped our gear, we did some PT - three rounds of pull ups, up downs, and squats. Immediately after that we did an hour of combatives, which involves throwing each other to the ground and wrestling around getting even more filthy, if it's possible after a week of field hygiene. RIGHT AFTER rolling around for an hour we went into movements: running tactically across an open field over and over to practice our shooting and moving techniques. By this time the sun was up and joined us for training. 

We cleaned weapons and turned them all in only to find that some of the scopes were missing. When this happens, the whole group gets put on lockdown till they are found. So we spent the entire day sitting in the sun, unable to go anywhere, until Cadre could find every single scope. They told us it was their fault they were missing, that some paperwork had been done improperly, but we still all had to wait around till it was taken care of. Finally, at 8PM we were released for the weekend. 

Now I have two days to prep before going right back at it.