Tag Archives: Daily Life


I have just finished (what I hope is) the final part of my M.A.  This has been a long, long trip.  Props to the Federal Tuition Assistance Program for paying for the vast majority of my school.

Now, I just have to wait for my grade…

Time to decompress and enjoy a long weekend…

Back to regular blogging next week!

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore…

Weston, MO – Greeting Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea.  I’ve arrived at the breadbasket of America for the COIN symposium.  Travel was a bit dicey as the flight from Washington D.C. experienced a mechanical failure with one of the flaps (best line from the pilot:  “We hope you all aren’t panicking back there because we sure aren’t up here.” The ‘Yet’ was left unsaid.) forcing us to reroute to Philadelphia (the nearest airport with the requisite runway length to handle the fast landing we had to make).  While the fire department escort was nice the whole episode meant that six hours after I began my journey I found myself exactly where I started.  While this was less harrowing that my last emergency landing I’d like to note that I’ve now seen quite enough of this sort of thing and would like to lodge a complaint with the powers that be that everyone should have a chance at aircraft emergencies before they start doubling up experiences on people.

From there, however, things went decidedly uphill.  More later when I can do everything justice but let me just say that I want to humbly apologize for any stereotypes I may have had about the area.  This place is freakin’ great.

Posting this week may be spotty to non-existent.  I was hoping to catch up in the evenings but the presence of a nearby brew pub may interfere with that plan.  Notes from the conference, therefore, may have to wait until the weekend or early next week.

Blogger down!

I had drill this past weekend and we were occupied with Soldier Readiness Processing.  This is one of those dehumanizing things where you get shuffled from station to station and see various medical personnel who test, poke and prod you in various places to check off whatever boxes they need to in order to clear you to deploy to a fun and phenomenal places around the world.

A couple of observations…

First, this process is much easier to go through as a senior enlisted person.  When you’re junior ranked you’re kind of at the whim of everyone, you’re in the dark about what’s going on and there’s just an abundance of suckage.  But, get a bunch of stripes and chevrons and you can relax a bit and have some fun.

So…in cases like this…more rank is better.

Second, if you find yourself getting an immunization for meningitis and ask the medic if there might be side effects they may reply that there might be a little discomfort in the area of the injection.  Don’t believe it.  I’m working through a bit more than that right now….ugh.

Still, life in a jar…

Last weekend I was at my mountain redoubt prepping the place for spring…getting rid of leaves that had blown in since the Great Fall Incineration of last year’s leaves…digging up rocks for various walls and borders…and picking up trash that had found its way onto the property.

As I was doing that I came across this glass jar…

Who knows how long it had been buried under the leaf litter but I certainly hadn’t put it there.  Oddly enough, as the jar was intact and the lid was on, as you can see there was some greenery in there.  The lid had rusted to the point that a very small hole had appeared and, I assume, enough flotsam and jetsam had made it’s way through that hole to actually start the process of life.

I was in for an even bigger surprise (Hey, it was a slow day.  Give me a break.) when I opened the lid and found this…

The poor mans eco-sphere.

So not only was there enough in the jar to sustain some puny plant life but there must have been sufficient animal life entering that tiny hole (about the size of the letter ‘O’ printed on your keyboard) to sustain this critter.

It all seems highly improbable to me and so I suspect a secret government experiment of some sort.  Or, perhaps this is what’s left of NASA’s science budget in lieu of their recent budget woes.

Although I will say this.  Despite the apparent lushness of my fortress of solitude it’s a rather ruthless place as far as foreign flora and fauna go.  The soil is such that if new plants do manage to take root amongst the omnipresent slate rocks and poor soil, local weeds, insects and animals will quickly move in and devour them.  It reminds me quite a bit of the Deathworld series by Harry Harrison.  Most flowering or fruiting plants will die of fright at the checkout counter if they catch wind of where they’re intended to be planted.

The only two exceptions to that rule I’ve found so far are deer (which are native but local mismanagement have allowed them to officially reach ‘pestilence of biblical proportion’ stage and so deserve mention here – In fact I’d swear you can hear them whisper “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds” as they munch away.) and red current bushes which actually seem to thrive in these harsh conditions and resist pests.

Suck it HuffPo!

Ah ha!  Allow me to gloat.

HuffPo just today had a post today about the Uruguayan sci-fi short ‘Panic Attack’.  Just for the record (and because, like no one but me cares about this sort of stuff) I posted about it waaaaay back on December 17th.

So, dear readers, yet again I demonstrate how reading this blog keeps your collective finger on the pulse of all things cultural, political and military.

Feel free to mock all those pathetic HuffPo ‘johnny come lately’ types.

Huffington, Drudge, Brown…do you feel that?  It’s me breathing down your neck!  I will crush you all with my media empire!  HA!  Bow before me now or suffer the consequences you puny Earthlings!

I await your surrender and look forward to making you all my bootlicking toadies!

Oh man, I think I need some NyQuil.

Creeping crud

I usually don’t blog this sort of thing but I seem to be losing a battle against some sort of bacterial or viral invader.  Chills and aches are all I have to report but just wanted to let you all know just in case this is stage 1 of some zombie infection.

Shiloh appears to be under the weather as well.  Never considered the possibility of zombie dogs.  Must keep an eye on him.

On the bright side, I have no desire to eat Mrs. TwShiloh’s brain.

Best grandmother ever.

Scan0001My grandmother passed away this past Friday.  She was a great woman who had an amazing life.  During WWII she served as a transport truck driver as Chatham Air Base in Georgia.  I can remember her telling me stories about how she used to drive crews of B-24 bombers to and from their aircraft.

Apparently, while driving across the runway to get the crews to their planes, there was some system of traffic control to keep planes and ground vehicles from occupying the same space.  Well, one day apparently both my grandmother and the pilot of a landing B-24 thought they got a green light to proceed.  The plane got close enough to my grandmother’s truck that the crew she was transporting all leaped out the back and over the sides.  My grandmother, unfazed, thought it amusing that these guys were so jumpy.  After all, she had everything under control and it wasn’t like the plane landed on the truck or anything.

After the war, she moved up north (the only vestiges of Southern culture that have been passed on to me are a tendency to say ‘y’all’ and an enduring love of grits), and opened up a business by herself which she ran for 30 years.

Growing up on a farm down South with five brothers guaranteed she wouldn’t be delicate.  I can remember her shoveling gravel, stacking firewood and cutting down trees well into her seventies as well as getting so angry at a black bear destroying her bird feeders that she chased the thing away armed with nothing except a pot and a wooden spoon.

And, of course, she spoiled me mercilessly.  I could do no wrong in her eyes and she indulged my every whim and wish.  She had the patience of Job, taking me to the “Pocono Snake Farm” (the very name was like crack to a little boy) and doing her best to stuff me to the gills with Nilla Banana Pudding.

Well, here’s to you mom-mom…Truly a life well lived.

23 years ago

I, a scrawny 18 year old kid, began my basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey.  It was touch and go if I would complete it.  I picked up a case of pneumonia six weeks in and was terrified that they’d pull me out and put me in another, later class.  I did make it through, however, wheezing and popping antibiotics the whole way through.

Happy 4th!

Today marks the fourth year that we at Travels with Shiloh world headquarters have been operating with WordPress.  I’ve been blogging a couple of years before that but the origins of that original project is now lost in the virtual dust.  In that time I’ve churned out 737 posts of widely varying (but hopefully generally improving) quality and subject matter with peaks and valleys of enthusiasm.  To those of you who are loyal readers (not you, mom, you’re kind of obligated to read), thanks for the comments, hat tips, ideas and inspiration.  To those who’ve stumbled here (even the ones who came here looking for information about a ‘Tango and Cash’ remake or the ‘hockey dildo video’), welcome and hopefully you’ll find something interesting enough to keep you coming back.

I kinda doubt it for the dildo video person though…

My most popular post (by far) is this one.  An attempt to describe the difference between tactical, operational and strategic levels of intelligence and operations.  Enjoy.

Pedal power

A couple of weeks ago Peter over at the Strategist, set a challange for himself to see where he could leave his car in the driveway and find alternate modes of transportation on his various travels.  Inspired, I decided to try a similar experiment by biking to work this week.  I’m pretty fortunate in that I don’t live too far from where I work (at least compared to many commuters) and virtually the entire route can be done on a trail along the Delaware-Raritan canal so I don’t have much vehicular traffic to deal with.

So, Tuesday I got up and out early.  The weather was perfect.  Just cool enough to prevent overheating.  It took my an hour and six minutes to bike the nearly 13 miles to work.  That experience, and the ride home, taught me some important lessons.

  1. It’s amazing how much the internal combustion engine really changes the way we live.  13 miles isn’t a far distance yet how many people lived that far from where they worked 100 years ago?  Not only did the travel take three times longer than when I drive but I had to seriously consider what to bring with me.  My backpack was filled with a change of clothes and a light lunch.  By comparison, I usually bring a bag stuffed with material and a lunch bag (with an occasional mug of tea).  I never really think about how much I’m shlepping back and forth because I don’t need to.  The car’s not working any harder one way or another.  I could get saddlebags for my bag to increase my carrying capacity but that I would need to work harder to get from A to B.  I suppose this is the argument in favor of a horse or mule.
  2. As fun as this was I can see how it would get really old.  Inclement weather would raise all sorts of difficulties ranging from annoyances to making the trip impossible.  Besides, I find it hard to imagine facing an hour bike ride home after, say, getting one of my trademark migraines.
  3. The experience was great in that it gave me time to clear my mind, get my blood flowing and prepare for the day ahead.  It was perfect for listening to audiobooks, which my morning commute is usually too short for.  Biking, at least for me, requires less thought and concentration to maintain a decent pace than running so I can concentrate on what’s being said instead of just thinking about keeping pace to a steady beat.
  4. The need to consider the terrain you’re passing through is much more important when you aren’t encased in a metal box with wheels.  There was a route available to me that would have been a couple of miles shorter than the one I took but I avoided it because it was a shady area.  I drive through there every day and there’s no problem.  Biking through it with headphones on though is a bit more risk than I’m prepared accept.

So, I don’t think I could do this with any sort of regularity that would meaningfully contribute to lowering my carbon footprint but it was a damn good workout.