My wounded vanity

I'll admit it: I'm vain when it comes to my hair. So pathetic as this may sound, I'm having a harder and harder time submitting to the stylistic torture known as the "military haircut." Particularly when it's inflicted by underpaid barbers from various third-world countries who don't have an appreciation for the finer subtleties of the word "fade."

Right now it literally looks like the barber slapped a bowl on top of my head and snipped around it. It's embarrassing. I was sorely tempted not to give the guy his three bucks, but these dudes work insanely long hours for about $450/month, so I don't feel right depriving them of their just dues -- the signs saying "Your satisfaction guaranteed or your money back" not withstanding.

I know it's a picayune detail and the hair will grow out within a matter of days. I also know I'm looking forward to the time when I'll be able to get (and afford!) real haircuts and no one will be able to tell me otherwise. Or I'll be able to go without a haircut at all if I so choose.

Freedom . . . it's so close and so far out of reach.

  • Current Music
    The cacaphony issuing forth from the headphones of the dude to my right.

If you can't replace it, don't take it

Family Values
A little boy comes home from school and tells his father that his homework assignment is to find out the difference between "potentially" and "realistically."

"Easy," says his father. "First, ask Mom if she'd sleep with the mailman for a million bucks."

The boy runs off, then comes back and says, "She said yes."

"Now go and ask your sister the same question," advises the father.

Again the boy runs off, and again he comes back and says, "She said yes."

"So, potentially we're sitting on two million dollars," replies the father. "But, realistically, we're living with a pair of whores."

This reminds me of a story I heard a pastor relate from the pulpit many years ago.

It seems Rudyard Kipling was at a dinner party where he struck up a conversation with the charming young lady sitting next to him.

"Would you make love to me for a million dollars?" he asked.

The girl fluttered her eyelashes coyly. "Well . . . maybe . . . " she replied with a blush.

"Would you make love to me for ten dollars?" he inquired.

She reared back indignantly. "Certainly not!" she snapped. "What do you think I am?"

"Ah, we've already settled that," Kipling said dryly. "Now we're only haggling over the price."
  • Current Music
    Marilyn Manson - This Is the New Shit


It occurred to me today that next year I'll be 26 . . . and that will be closer to 30 than to 20. A very sobering thought indeed. God, how my life is flying by.

My Big Day . . . Not

Today was my birthday. Yay. The Big Two Five. The Last Meaningful Birthday in a Man's Life. Unless You Live in the State of North Carolina Where Car Insurance Rates Don't Go Down When You Turn Twenty-Five and the Birthday Is Entirely Meaningless.

You know you're loved when not a single person the entire day comes up to you to wish you a happy birthday. It's such a warm, comfortable feeling.

EDIT: It turns out someone did take the time to acknowledge my special day. My dear friend "Icy" came up to me late tonight with a big smile on her face and whispered "Happy Birthday" in my ear. She even gave me a couple of very nice, tight hugs.

And, um, that really did give me a warm and comfortable feeling . . . maybe too warm and comfortable . . .
  • Current Music
    Marcelo Alvarez; Salvatore Licitra - Oltre la Tempesta [Beyond the Storm]

Melts in your . . . ???

It's so freaking hot out that chocolate begins to melt within moments of my stepping outside. This afternoon, just before a formation in which we had to inspect our NBC gear, I snagged some mini Crunch Bars out of a basket. I had to wolf them down immediately to avoid their turning into a gooey mess in my hands.

Despite the searing heat, however, I am remarkably comfortable. Whether it's because I'm too skinny or because I'm somehow inherently well adapted to heat, I walk around in the blazing sun without difficulty, even when I'm fully geared up. Actually, because I sweat so much when wearing my body armor, I almost feel cooler. I still try to avoid wearing the helmet whenever possible, since the pressure on my head tends to give me headaches. I've also come to realize that wearing sunglasses is essentially imperative for me to avoid debilitating headaches. The bland, monochromatic landscape coupled with the unfettered desert sun produces a blinding glare that I cannot withstand for long, no matter how well I hydrate.

Yes, the BCG sunglasses look geeky as hell, but if I have to choose between looking geeky with no headaches and looking cool and being in pain, looking geeky wins hands down. It's not like I'm going to be getting laid much over here anyway.

No, this is NOT me, dammit!
  • Current Mood
    dorky dorky

The saga continues

To complete the idiocy of issuing us hundreds of gratuitous rounds, they've now mandated that those same rounds will be inspected by our squad leaders every night from now on. Oh, and all of our nuclear/chemical/biological (NBC) attack protective gear -- which we also never carry but instead keep under lock and key -- has to be inspected every week.

You know, I left home precisely because I was tired of being treated like a kid. I was hoping to stake it on my own and be regarded by the world as an adult. Instead, I ended up in a job where being treated like a kid is the norm. Unless, of course, you have a college degree and got commissioned. (Yeah, the snot-nosed lieutenants who are years younger than us and have a tiny fraction of our experience don't need to be inspected daily). Somehow that makes you trustworthy and knowledgeable, apparently.

Whatever. It's only 11 more months and then I'm out of it for good. I'm not going to stress over it. In fact, in many ways I rejoice over it because it's just one more brick in my wall of determination not to stay in. Every opportunity I have to steel my reserve to get out I regard as a good thing.

Full combat lunacy

If the world needed any additional evidence that logic is not the army's strong suit, it was provided in abundance today.

This evening, more than five months into our deployment, we were all called to the company to receive our "full combat load" of 210 rounds in seven magazines. At first glance this seems to make sense. After all, every soldier should have the resources to defend himself, right? Unfortunately, the facts of the case render the decision completely absurd.

Let me provide some background.

Last year, we were issued the full combat load at the beginning of our deployment. After we got to our respective forward operating bases (FOB's), we were only required to carry one magazine (30 rounds) around normally. Like many others, I carried it in a special pouch strapped to the butt stock of my M-16A2 rifle. On convoys or during periods of alert when we had to "gear up" (i.e., put on our Kevlar armored vests and helmets), we'd carry the full complement of 210 rounds in pouches strapped to our vests. That made sense: During an attack, you need to be able to repel the enemy.

But this deployment is so different. For one thing, we almost never convoy and mortar attacks are much less frequent than they were last time. As a result, we rarely "gear up." For another, we're not allowed to take our weapons inside the detention facility, so they spend most of the time locked away in arms rooms. Furthermore, we're not allowed to carry any ammunition, not even in the butt stock pouches. To complete the farce, according to the base SOP, under conditions of red alert, we're not supposed to load our weapons -- just huddle in the bunkers and wait for the situation to calm down before emerging to treat any casualties that may have resulted from the incident. So essentially, there's no point in our carrying weapons at. They're nothing more than useless appendages strapped to our backs. As clubs, I guess. The fact that they went and issued us more rounds that we will never carry, much less fire, is mind-boggling to me. Especially at a time when more and more guys in the unit are snapping or showing other signs of mental and emotional stress.

More rounds. Crazy soldiers. Bad combination.

An accidental observation

It would appear that some time in the past few days, LiveJournal has added support for Opera, which is a very smart move. Normally I view my blog in Opera instead of Firefox because Opera is much faster than Firefox and I need every bit of help I can get on the slow connection here. Heretofore, however, I have always had to add comments in Firefox because LJ didn't support commenting in Opera. Today, without thinking, I posted a comment in Opera and it was successful. In fact, Opera allowed me to reply with my nonstopdrivel screen name when Firefox insisted I post anonymously.

Congratulations, LJ. This is good news indeed.

Now I'm REALLY an Iraqi

One of my detainees gave me an Arabic name today. Just so all of you know, I am no longer nonstopdrivel. I am now Ahmed ibn Abdullah al-Hassan.

Ahmed son of Abdullah the Horse. It makes me sound like some kind of Bedouin sheikh.
  • Current Music
    Ozzy Osbourne - Walk on Water