March 7, 2011

  • I’ve moved

    Well, It’s time for a new home.  Xanga, you were very good to me.  It may be time to start again.  Not much has been happening here. For those of you that want to keep reading about my exploits, you can find me at  http://black6x.blogspot.com.  Feel free to add me as a follower there.

February 21, 2011

  • Bad luck at losing

    Last week, The Daily News was running a contest.  It’s the kind that requires you to collect the bar codes from the paper for the rest of the week. 

    Having done that, I went to glue them all to the form, when I noticed that the contest also required me to send in a losing Minute to Win It scratch off lottery ticket.  I was really upset at this after having to get the bar codes, but I decided to suck it up since I was already mentally invested.  I was not happy when I saw that a ticket was $5.

    I purchased a ticket and walked out of the store, scratching it and planning to immediately throw it in the envelope and mail it. The girl behind the counter wished me good luck.  I told her that wasn’t what I needed.

    Unfortunately, I won $5.  Not to be deterred from my goal, I walked back into the store to claim my winnings… and buy another ticket.  The girl again wished me good luck.  I again told her that’s not what I wanted.

    Leaving the store, I walked maybe 10 feet, only to see another $5 winner on the ticket.  I was so upset that I didn’t scratch any more of the ticket.  I just went back into the store and handed it to the girl behind the counter.

    When she scanned it, it turned out that I won $15.  Apparently, it was one of those tickets where you can win more than once.

    I spent $5 of those dollars on another ticket, which finally busted, allowing me to finish my contest entry. 

     

October 25, 2010

  • What’s old is new, and happy to be back

    People change throughout their lives.  Usually it’s due to some life experience or enlightenment through knowledge or something.  “Life Changing,” they’ll call it.  I didn’t really have one of those times in my life.  However, for some reason, back in 2001 or 2002, I changed as a person.  I won’t go into the whole story, because there’s not much to it.  Basically, a person that was above me said, “Pat, you need to be amiable.”  Looking back, I should have ignored that bullshit.  Kristen may remember part of this guy from her Beast.  Unfortunately, what she saw was him as he was dying.

    What I then became was a “nicer person.”  Unfortunately, that kindness was some level of stupidity.  Literally, for the next 6 years of my life, I encountered people that I should have gutted, but didn’t.  There was a missing level of fear and “is this guy stable” that should have surrounded me.  Masochistic tendencies in training seemed to die off.  The “thing” that I was just fell asleep.  I actually spent years trying to figure out how to bring it back and harness it.  What I quickly learned is that no one has written a book on how to harness your rage, and if they have, it’s not on Amazon.com.

    He made comebacks every once in a while, but it would take extreme circumstances.  I remember in the mountain phase of Ranger School.  Basically, at night, with NODs on, you can’t really tell when someone is talking to you, so we had a rule that if you were giving someone directions, you would touch them.  At some point, on top of a mountain, some guy decided not to do this, and my Ranger buddy, Bill, asked him who he was talking to.  They guy apparently got pissed, and threatened to punch Bill.  I then told him that if he touched bill, I would beat the shit out of him.  The conversation quickly ended.  The vitriol that I could summon was wonderful.  I remember a guy pissing me off during a jump (parachuting), and, after seeing him land hard, hoping that he was dead.  I’m pretty sure I tried to give someone food poisoning for stealing chocolate milk from me.  Why get revenge, when a step further makes them fear being “even.”

    Due to some recent events, that guy is making a comeback.  It was a me that had very little conversational tact.  Fuck sugar-coating, your idea is fucking retarded.  I’m not sure if it’s temporary or not, but it is the reason that I’m up at 2 in the morning typing a blog entry.  The more my mind runs things down, the angrier it gets.   I’m really trying to ensure that it stays around this time.  What created this person then is pretty much what brought him back.  It’s great to see life go full-fucking-circle, isn’t it. 

    Yeah, I’ll be “that guy” for at least a bit.  Things are going to be blunt and honest, so if you really want that, ask me a question.  If you REALLY want that, ask me a dumb fucking question.

    Amiable, my ass.

October 2, 2010

  • The 4 Types of Jobs

    When talking to people regarding work, especially young people, I tell them that jobs can be classified into 4 categories.

    The job you like, but doesn’t pay well.  I would generally put teachers (generally early education, and upper education without tenure) in this category.  These are usually people who are doing their job to “make a difference,” or because they “enjoy the work.”  They will never be rich from doing the job, but they don’t usually have a problem getting out of bed to go to work.  Candy-taster may also be in here.  People with these jobs usually satisfy the upper levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs easily (self-actualization and esteem), but may regularly have problems with the bottom two levels (psychological and safety; e,g. food, sex, sleep, etc.).  If you stick with this job, it may evolve due to pay increases (more on that later).

    The job that pays well, but you hate.  This is the job where you sold your soul.  It’s the 9-5 grind, and you may be on salary, so the overtime you will HAVE to work doesn’t give you any more money.  Maybe you guzzle Pepto-Bismol because of stress.  People with these jobs usually have a high satisfaction of the bottom levels of the hierarchy from their job, but not the upper two.  They may hate getting up in the morning.  That’s where the high-paying part comes in to play.  As long as the job is able to provide the funding and time for you do do things that you like, you will generally be okay with it.  Can you take a trip to Japan without really caring about the cost?  Sky-dive every weekend?  Buy something you want without delaying gratification?  You may be here.  Staying with this job may get you more money, but you will most likely require a job or position change in order for you to get to something that you like.

    The job that you hate and doesn’t pay well.  Normally, people fall into this job category for one of two reasons: needs or circumstances.  It may have been your first job as a teenager.  You needed money.  People with this job category are usually barely satisfying the bottom levels of the hierarchy.  Unemployment and/or financial hardship may also lead to this category.  Suddenly, you take a job because you have to.  Hopefully, you are able to make it out of this level, but some don’t.  Staying at this level will usually require an adjustment how you satisfy the lower hierarchy levels (moving back in with family, downgrade of housing, multiple jobs, etc.), and a psychological adjustment to what you perceive as fulfillment of the higher hierarchy levels (twisting morality, aggression rather than confidence, etc).  Staying with this job may eventually evolve it into the job that pays well, but you hate.  It is rare that it will become something that you like.  You may also spend much of your time looking for another job.

    The job that pays well and you like.  This job is the rare find.  All your levels are satisfied.  People in this job category will normally come from the category of “job you like, but doesn’t pay well.”  Essentially, to get here, you have to “make it.”  Maybe you obtain tenure, get a big movie gig, or score a writing job on the Daily Show, make Detective, etc.  Now all you have to do is not fuck it up.

September 20, 2010

  • Selective Starving on TDY

    Military and Government employees will occasionally be lucky enough to go on a Temporary Duty, or TDY.  Civilians have things like this, but I don’t think it really has an official name.  I guess “business trips” will have to do.  Depending on how long the trip is, and whether you are single or not, these trips can either be an awesome time, or an awesome time without the rest of your family.  Also, the bigger the city, the bigger the payout.

    Those who are smart realize that a TDY can be a great time to make some additional money.  To do this, you have to understand your organization’s methods for paying for things, or technically, reimbursing for things.  For example, usually there is a maximum daily amount that they will pay for a hotel, and if you are under that amount, they will only pay that.  No banking there.  However, if you get a certain amount no matter what, it is in your best interest to only get what you need for as little as possible.  Be careful, though.  As some CIA techs back in the day found out, you may question where the bottom is when the hotel manager is surprised that you want to stay in the room for the whole night.

    The second type of funding is for meals.  This is where you can do the most damage.  If you want to lose weight, even better.  Let’s say that they give you a $66 per diem for meals.  If your organization will only reimburse for what you spent, then it’s time to eat $66 worth of food each day.  If they give you that $66 no matter what, it’s time to be lean.  My employer does the latter, and doesn’t ask for receipts.  Then I found out that the hotel comps the breakfast (guess where I will be eating breakfast every day).  I am planning to splurge on one day where I go to a Brazilian restaurant where they bring you meat, but other than that, I carry yogurt back to the room after breakfast.  The other meals are reasonably priced.

    The last thing to be careful about is getting reimbursement.  Some organizations will advance you the money.  However, most organizations will only pay for your trip AFTER you return, and they are slow to do it.  If you put everything on a credit card, you may find yourself paying interest, even if it is the company card.  That’s why the most important part of the trip is the paperwork and receipts.  Get those in ASAP!  When I graduated from the military academy, they gave us 60% of the TDY money up front.  However, you couldn’t get the rest of the money until you completed the training.  Well, 60% of the way through the training, you are still in the hotel, and the money has run out.  Meanwhile, the hotel is on the military base and government run.  Also, we are not the first people to go through this.  However, we have to get paperwork to keep the place from kicking us out.  The next year, the military decided to pay it’s own hotel directly.  I did not bank on that TDY.

September 16, 2010

  • The Ghost of Birthdays Past

    For most people, birthdays are a day to celebrate.  For me, September 16 is never something to look forward to.  For some reason, it seems like something other than my birthday was always planned.

    1999-2002 – West Point
    2003 – Fort Benning, GA.  In a foxhole with a machine gun.
    2004 – Ranger School, 2 days away from graduation.
    2005 – Afghanistan.
    2006 – Stationed overseas.  generally uneventful.
    2007 – Unemployed during transition from military to civilian.  Kinda broke.
    2008 – 20 weeks of training.
    2009 – **EDIT** [Classified]  I just remember what I was working on that day.
    2010 – 2 weeks of training.

    My prediction for the future:

    2011 – Shot.
    2012 – Digging up dead bodies.
    2013 – Raped by bees.

August 27, 2010

  • Wear Sunglasses

    Before I deployed to Afghanistan, I wasn’t much of a sunglasses wearer.  Being in the Army didn’t help that.  I guess they figured that people were just trying to be cool, and UV protection wasn’t really necessary.  However, a couple of deployments to the desert, and the fact that sand can cause “Snow Blindness” can occur when there’s no snow, and the Army eventually changed it’s tune.  We were issued Wiley X sunglasses, but I wasn’t a complete fan of the foam that seals around your eye.  Nice concept, but your eyelids would literally sweat. I jumped onto the Oakley bandwagon.  Specifically, the M-Frame, which were issued to us at some point.

    After the deployment, I returned to Vicenza, and didn’t wear sunglasses for the first couple of days.  After a lot of squinting, I started wearing them again.  I had no idea how I survived most of my life without wearing sunglasses during the day.  Had the sun always been this bright?

    Not just a tool for staring at women without them noticing,the UV protection is always a nice thing to have.  Also, they seem to “tone down” the world.  I can observe more, because I can actually open my eyes.  I don’t stop looking at things because of glare.  The only downsides are that LCD screens can’t be read at certain angles (more so for older ones), and when I look at glass, I can see how it is tempered.

    Personally, I recommend going for a good pair of polarized lenses.  They remove a lot of the glare that you encounter, and if you wear a good pair, you’ll understand the difference.  Also, for my line of work, the Oakleys are impact rated, so I can wear them to shoot.  I also like to get the darkest lenses i can (usually iridium polarized) because there really isn’t any need to squint.

    I personally wear the Oakley Flak Jacket sunglasses.  I like the interchangeable dual lenses, and the fact that it rides close to the head, unlike the M-frame and Half Jacket designs.

August 20, 2010

  • Dumb things I did today

    Here’s a list of stupid things that happened to me today.

    1. Mopped the apartment, backing myself into my bedroom.  Realized that I left the kitchen light on.
    2. Didn’t have a tomato to make chicken nachos.  Had to go to the store, but didn’t want to seem sill by buying just ONE tomato.  Also purchased garlic.
    3. Brushed my teeth before I went out.  When I spit, everything was red.  I couldn’t remember eating anything red, and wondered if I was bleeding.  Remembered I drank a Cherries & Cream soda.
    4. Cleaned EVERYWHERE except the area around my desk.  The desk I spend much of my home time at.
    5. Pondered testing whether a dose of glutamine and ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6) would be a good hangover preventative.  It worked before (take before bed), but I feel like pushing the limits and testing it against red wine.
    6. Sat here typing this list instead of heading out to the comedy show.  Also realized that I was about to head to the wrong place.

August 15, 2010

  • Barefoot running and shoe weight

    I’ve been helping some friends of mine with their physical training as they look to enter the military.  Specifically, I’ve been helping them with their running.  At some point, one of the guys, Joe, was having trouble.  At first I thought that it was because he was new to running, and was not psychologically accustomed to some of the feedback that your body gives you while you run.  Specifically, the feedback that makes you want to quit very quickly.

    However, he brought up the issue of pain, and I asked him where it hurt.  He said in the shins, and that it started from the first step.  Now, I’m going to not go really deep into the mechanics of running.  However, I would recommend the book Born to Run, if you want to read about some of it.  One thing that modern sneaker design has made people do is extend their stride, causing their heel to hit the ground first.  This is why we have such thick soles on our shoes.  

    The problem is that you are not supposed to run like that.  The issue is twofold.  First, the only shock absorption comes from your shoes, and that’s not that great to begin with.  Therefor, the shock travels up your heel, to your knees and hips, damaging them over time (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auntctXMS5Q).  The second reason is that, in order to strike with your heel, you have to pull your toes up (called dorsiflexion).  This causes overuse of the muscles, leading to shin splints.

    Seeing this (and since we were at a track), I told the two guys with me that they should run a lap barefoot, explaining to the guy the reason for his pain.  I run in the Vibram Fivefingers, but took them off to join in the barefoot delight.  At first I tried to explain how their foot should hit.  However, I remembered that, if you take away the shock absorption, the body will naturally set your foot up to run properly.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9itkEkcQ8WM) All I had to tell them was not to hit their heels into the ground first.

    Here’s some more info on the mechanics of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrnj-7YKZE

    The guys took to it instantly.  And loved it.  Like REALLY loved it.  To the point where we actually ran faster barefoot than we did with shoes.  Their paces dropped and at one point, we sustained a 6:40 mile pace for a quarter mile.  After a couple of laps, we walked on the grass a bit, which is okay at the park we were at, but is really nice to do at the Central Park Great Lawn.

    Now, I mentioned the Fivefingers, which is a great shoe to run in.  The guys were running in your standard running shoes.  While talking to them, I brought up shoe weight, which are mostly due to the amount of padding in the heel.  Here’s an example.  Years ago, when I started looking at my shoe weight, I started running in the Ecco RXP.  When you go to buy a shoe, and look at the listed weight, understand that the weight given is for ONE SHOE, and for a size 9.  The Ecco RXP was 10 oz each, so 1lb. 4oz total.  Most running shoes are in the 13-15 oz per shoe range (again, for a size 9).  Joe’s Asics were listed at 13 oz per.  That’s more than a pound and a half on his feet.

    The Vibram’s are 11.4 oz TOTAL, and as far as minimalist shoes go, are the cheapest, at about $85 a pair.  Mine have lasted me for a year, with no signs of breaking down any time soon.  The Nike Free is the next cheapest (although the sole is thick for a minimalist shoe), while the rest are around double the price of the Fivefingers.

    If you correct your running style  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrOgDCZ4GUo), you won’t need the thick heels on regular shoes, and can choose sneakers with a lighter weight.  However, there are issues that standard shoes do cause, such as plantar fasciitis, as well as structural deformity.  I actually do have the line from the big toe, through the ball of the foot, to the heel, but probably because I don’t wear really tight shoes, and I’ve always walked around the house barefoot.

    My old classmate Juan converted to them when I suggested them as a fix to his plantar fasciitis, instead of all the other methods that he had tried which had failed (I know he mentioned ice, and cortisone shots).  At last check, he’s been running pain free for months, and has to be running at least enough that it justified him buying a Garmin GPS running watch.

July 29, 2010

  • The issue of “Anchor Babies”

    Anchor babies don’t exist. This has been covered by the Supreme Court multiple times since 1884. In the 1884 Elk v.Wilkins case, the phrase “subject to its jurisdiction” in the 14th Amendment was interpreted to exclude “children of ministers, consuls, and citizens of foreign states born within the United States.” The Court essentially stated that the status of the parents determines the citizenship of the child. To qualify children for birthright citizenship, based on the 14th Amendment, parents must owe “direct and immediate allegiance” to the U.S. and be “completely subject” to its jurisdiction. In other words, they must be United States citizens. 

    In 1889, United States v. Wong Kim Ark extsblished that an allegiance for legal immigrant parents based on the meaning of the word domicil(e). This extended citizenship to the children of legal immigrants who had legal permanent residence. Since it is inconceivable that illegal alien parents could have a legal domicile in the United States, the ruling did not extend birthright citizenship to children of illegal alien parents. 

    The Citizens Act of 1924 lists two separate categories of people born in the United States as citizens (a) a person born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof; (b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe. (The original ruling did not include Indians, since they were not completely subject to the US Gov’t. at the time)