They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...


These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Feb 22, 2011

Fuck Wisconsin...

So anyone with a pulse has probably heard about the big doings up there in Cheese land.

Basically, the thin and thick of it is this.  Wisconsin's governor wants to save some cash.  About 300 million bucks over the next two years or so.  And he plans to do this by pretty well destroying the public employee unions in Wisconsin.

Now before I get into any of this a short disclaimer.  I am a union employee.  I do work for a government agency.  I am a proud union supporter and I do faithfully pay my dues, through payroll deduction every two weeks.

So, there's that.  Now why Mr. Walker (Governor of Wisconsin) has taken aim at the public employee unions is simple.  They're an easy target.  Their pensions, their benefits, their pay scales.  Which are all things that can be skewed one way or the other depending on who is using the statistics and what they're using the statistics for.

He wants a few concessions from the unions that he has already said, repeatedly that he is not willing to compromise on.  He wants an end to the ability of public employee unions to collectively bargain.  He wants larger contributions to pensions from public employees.  And he wants a larger contribution from public employees to their health care costs.

In exchange, he won't lay off any workers and he won't force furloughs onto workers who aren't laid off.

Kind of seems to me like he's pointing a .45 at a puppy and saying, "do what I want or fluffy gets one in the head."

In addition you'll notice that Mr. Walker left the police and firefighters unions out of this whole mess.  Purely a political move if you ask me.  How would it look to have a bunch of public heroes crying poor because the governor wanted to save a few bucks?

First of all, and this is a biggie with me.  It boggles my mind why someone is allowed to attack these unions without being willing to give up anything himself.  I'll bet Wisconsin has a very generous pay package for the governor.  I'll bet that, like so many elected government officials, he will get a pension after a very short period of time in office.  Some of these jokers draw a pension after only one term!  I'll bet that the state of Wisconsin's taxpayers foot the bill for his medical, dental, vision, they pay for his house, they pay for his car, they pay for his police protection, they pay all his travel expenses, they pay all his vacation time and they pretty much meet every need he or his family may have for the duration of his stay in office.  And I would imagine that most, if not all Wisconsin lawmakers are in pretty much the same palatial boat.

Well Mr. Walker, when are you going to curtail some of that?  Public employees are one thing.  When are we going to get around to the elected officials and all the sweet little goodies that they get?  When are we going to not only attack the unionized employees, who are such a political thorn in your side, and start attacking those ass bags (like you) who go so far as to vote on their own pay raises?  Alright, that one wasn't directed at Wisconsin so much as it was directed at the US Congress.

Now, I'll agree.  Costs must be cut for state services.  That's pretty much a given across the country, every state in the union plus the Fed is hurting for money and needs to save a little here and there.  Okay, they need to save a shit ton, and they need to do it now or the whole kit and kaboodle is going to go tits up!

But here's where things start to make me laugh.  They take aim at the wrong things.  They take aim at the teachers, they take aim at the prison guards (of which, I am one.) they take aim at all the unions that provide a necessary, yet un-romanticized service to the public.

Have any of you met kids these days?

They're horrible.  They're lazy, disobedient, undisciplined, violent, and a million other things that are bad.  In short, they suck.  Now of course, I'm not talking about your kids.  But we all know what kind of kids are out there.  Question being, would you want to go into a public school and deal with those little shits?  Because I sure as hell wouldn't.

Do I think the teachers deserve to be fairly compensated for what they do?  Hell yeah.  The only thing I've always had a problem with teachers about is this.  Why do they get a full years salary for nine months of work?  That pisses me off.  I work 12 months for 12 months of pay.  They work 9 months for 12 months of pay.  A teachers salary should be roughly 3/4's of what it currently is, and they should be expected to either work the other 3 months of the year or deal with only making 3/4's of what they were before.

Now on to the prison guards.  Let's get a few things out of the way right off the bat.  Prison guards as a profession have the highest levels of suicide, divorce, and alcoholism.  Because if you ask me, we have the most stressful job.  Name another job where a normal part of your day is protecting yourself from having piss and shit thrown at you?  Can't do it can ya?

I tell cops that brag about how many guys they arrest.  Yeah, well I get locked in a room by myself with 120 of the worst of the worst every day.  All these guys have is time, and they use that time to come up with new and inventive ways to maim or kill one another and/or me.  And I'm expected to control that situation with nothing more than my brain and my ability to coerce.  So until you've stared down a room full of gangsters, drug dealers, child molesters, pimps, money launderers, and murderers let's keep the theatrics to a minimum.

But everybody loves cops and firemen.  There's no love for prison guards or teachers.  So guess who gets this mountain of shit dropped on them.

The funny part of this whole thing is, this move will only save Wisconsin 300 million over the next two years.  Wisconsin's current debt load is 3.6 billion.

Now 3.6 billion is 36,000 millions.  Got that?  Now if all these budget estimates are right.  That means that if Wisconsin puts every single solitary fucking dime they save from breaking these unions into paying off their debt (and no interest at all is charged on the debt, LOL) then in two years the debt will only be 35,700 millions.  Hmmm, not a real big dent if you think about it.  And it comes at the expense of all these working class people.

When are people in this country going to wake up?  When are they going to realize that we're always looking at the wrong things?  We were looking in the right direction for a little while, but then we lost it.

George Carlin once said something, he said, "Race, sexual orientation, anything that they can bring up to get us fighting amongst ourselves so that they can keep on going to the bank.  Simple strategy.  Happens to work."

In this case, they're using this financial crisis to break the unions.  Make no mistake that's exactly what this is.  Union busting.  2011 style.  They used to come at us with sticks, bricks, and guns.  Now they're coming at us with laws and regulations.  They found another thing to get us fighting amongst ourselves.

A lot has been made in this debate of how the private sector workers have had to take pay cuts, benefit reductions, removal of pensions, and reductions in or outright suspension of employer contributions to 401k plans.

Okay, I get where they're coming from.  But here's what I want to know.  Why are we trying to pull the public employees down?  Why aren't we trying to figure out how to raise the private sector employees up?

I don't know the answer to that question but I'd really like to hear what you guys think.

But it all boils down to this.  If there's one thing that I know about this country its that there's only one color that actually matters and that's green.  Money.  Its the end all be all.  Try to argue with me on this and you're...well you're gonna lose.  Any pie in sky notion that money doesn't make the world go around is going to get shot down like an Iraqi scud.

Now there's a class of people that have it.  And there's a class of people that works for it.  And finally there's a class of people that doesn't get any of it.  And, at the risk of sounding redundant, Mr Carlin said "The rich have all of the money, and pay none of the taxes.  The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work.  The poor are there...just to scare the shit out of the middle class.  Keep them showing up at those jobs!"

Now its time for a different frame of thinking in the country.  I think too many people fell prey to the Tea Party mantra of less government.  I fell for some of it myself.  Problem is, I don't think we need to destroy so many lives for the sake of saving a few bucks...


In 2004, the wealthiest 25% of US households owned 87% ($43.6 trillion) of the country’s wealth, while the bottom quartile held no net wealth at all.[3] The middle 50% of the country held 13% or $6.5 trillion of the total household net wealth.


Well maybe we need to be taking a good hard look at who's got what, and how much they've got.  But regardless of what we do...it all amounts to nothing if we don't stand together.

Just a thought.

Later,

I love you Mom...


Feb 10, 2011

Embrace The Suck

Embrace The Suck

Couldn't resist...

A T-shirt someone should make...

I'm sure you've all seen the "Major League Infidel" or "American League Infidel" take off on the MLB logo.

I wore a patch like that smack dab in the middle of my IOTV for the duration of my time in the suck.

So I was thinking that they should start making patches and t-shirts with this logo...

My own personal take on that patch, thank you GIMP.


Perhaps Cafe Press and I have a date with destiny...

Later,

I love you Mom...

Valentines Day, and The Unfortunate Loss of My Man Card...

So, first off.  I wanted to tell everyone not to worry about me.  The past few months (that I haven't written) have been probably the worst in my life.  But now they're over.  I made it out of the woods, cleared the darkness, and any other goofy metaphor you can come up with for getting through the shittiest time in your life.

That's not to say that I'm not still completely nuts, but at least now I've got a handle on it.

Anyways, let me tell ya about this girl...

I could ramble about how beautiful she is, I could babble about how she's smarter than me, I could tell you how every time I leave her I can't wait to see her again, I could yammer about how she just makes me want to do better, I could bore you with how I do stupid shit for her that I would never do for another girl (like take claritin religiously because I am allergic to her dog).  I could do all of that, but I'm not going to...(woops, too late.)

I'm just going to go over a few things that have happened since we started dating.

We were in a bar watching the NFC title game, Bears vs. Packers.  She finished her beer.  She didn't ask, she didn't make a gesture, she didn't really move at all...and I grabbed the empty bottle, took it across the bar (fighting a sea of Bears fans) threw the bottle away, then went to the bar and got her another.

Now to most of you that would just seem like a nice thing for a guy to do.  However, here's the rub in that situation.  IT WAS NOT A COMMERCIAL.  The fucking game was going on AT THE TIME.

Next thing, I was driving home from work at about 8:30 pm.  I was almost home, only about 2 blocks away.  She calls me up.  Tells me she went out with one of her girlfriends that night and her girlfriend had gotten drunk and was now basically mounting the guy next to her.

I said, "Good for her" To which she replied, "Yeah, for her!  Please come save me from being a third wheel."

Okay, where are you?  She rattles off some bar that's about a block from where I work, but is about 20 miles from where I am at the time.

I smiled to myself, said "Okay babe, I'm on my way.  Stay inside and keep warm and I'll call you when I'm nearby."

And I turned my happy ass around and drove right back where I had come from and picked her up and took her home.

Then just last Sunday we were at a SuperBowl party.  And I spent a good part of the game throwing her trash away, getting her beer, helping with her humongous coat, and doing other random shit.

Finally, Valentines Day is coming up and I wanted to get her something really nice.  So I spent the past week bothering every chick I knew.  Showing them pictures of necklaces and earrings and bracelets, and watches and all sorts of shit trying to figure out what to get.  Thankfully, I suckered one of them into going shopping with me and picked out, what I hope, is a good one.

Ah, what the hell, its shiny, she'll like it!

Then what made me really realize that I had it pretty bad for this one was something that happened while she wasn't even around.  I was talking to a couple of my boys while we were having lunch at the Tilted Kilt.  And they were making fun of me for the fact that while I was in a restaurant that actually hires all its waitresses under the title "model" so that they can mandate height, weight, and dimensions, I was talking to these incredibly hot women who were serving us beer about my girlfriend.

That's when one of them uttered the words that no man ever wants to hear.  "Dude, I'm pulling your man card for this shit!"

Then I thought to myself, "Well that sucks, but I got her so you know what...you can have the fucking thing!"

So be it.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Feb 9, 2011

Resurrection...

I can't hardly explain what's happened to me in the past few months since I've written to you.

Crashed, burned, drank, cried, laughed, and I stared....

Dead eyed at a loaded gun for about 6 hours...and never picked it up.

I didn't want to die. Had no interest in it really. I believe in God, but I'm not going to be the one to test the theory. Know what I mean?

Its been about 18 months since I came home from Afghanistan and luckily for me, the nightmares have become bearable dreams. Not sure if they're wearing off or my body and mind have simply adapted to them.

My family relationships have all returned to what I like to call, "the new normal" Basically, that's me plus the war equals what you've got now.

Work has gotten back to...as normal as an incarceration center is ever going to get.

I even went back to school for a semester. Managed to get one A, one B and one C. Definitely not my best work, but not too shabby given the circumstances. Now I'm studying for the GRE, which is "the first step toward grad school" Bunch of shit if you ask me, just another test you gotta pay for.

Went to see the shrink for a while. But for some reason I felt like I was talking to a wall. Wasn't that he was a bad guy, I just don't know if he quite understood what the fuck I was talking about. About the only way I can explain, even come close to explaining what is happening in my head is this...

Just think about when you've been at home, maybe cleaning or doing laundry or some such mundane shit. And in the background you've got the TV going. Every now and then something on the TV catches your interest and you stop what you're doing and pay attention to the TV. Maybe you even sit down and watch for a while before you get back up and do whatever it is that you were doing.

Now in my case the TV is inside my brain and is constantly replaying scenes from AssCrackIstan. A firefight here, and IED there, a couple of mortar rounds over there, a severed limb or artery or two and then its back to regular life.

When I first got home, I'm not going to lie, the TV in my head took over all brain functioning as soon as the sun went down. And it had power of attorney every 10-15 seconds during the day. It would pop up, play me a little clip and then fade into the background. Just not very far, and it was never very far from popping up again.

As time went on though it got better. Soon there were 30 seconds to a minute between flashes. Then 5-10 minutes. Then every hour or so. Then once or twice a day. Now its gotten so good that I actually need a trigger to see it!

The triggers are fun. Diesel fuel, loud noises, mud, sand, any Arab looking person, fire or smoke, trash on the road, piles of rocks, and a few others that I can't remember. I'll write them down when they hit me.

Basically, if I don't see, hear, taste or touch one of those things I can make it through an entire day without thinking of my time in Afghanistan. Which makes me extremely happy...

Oh, and then there's anything blue. That'll set me off. A long time ago I wrote about something that happened one day while I was on patrol. I shared it with a few of you, but I didn't publish it outright. Hell if I even remember why. Probably because I didn't want my mom reading it. But I think its about time that I let that little cat out of the bag....So here goes.

I Would Love To Shit Myself, But I Can't Unclench My Butt Cheeks...

Wednesday, December 17, 2034 hrs.
So it happened again today, except it got just a little bit worse. They knew we were coming and were waiting...

We came up around the bend in the road and they hit us from the left side. Small arms fire coming at us like so many little pellets that harmlessly bounce off of our trucks. The gunners began sending back a hail of gunfire the likes of which I have never seen.

Then we saw the spotters on the ridge behind us. These are the pricks that send the messages to the guys with the guns letting them know we are coming. These guys are almost as dangerous as the guys with the guns.

We gave chase as far as we possibly could with the terrain being as bad as it is here. Then we saw them running over the top of the mountain and got out of the trucks and began to chase them. Over one mountain and up another, checking every little crevice and behind every rock waiting ever so patiently for the good Lord to call me home.

Then we finally made contact, and began to fire. Shooting at and trying to kill a human being didn't feel like I thought it would feel. Truth be told it didn't feel like much of anything at the time. All I really knew or thought about was that these assholes tried to kill me, so I am going to kill them back.

All the while we were hearing the avalanche of gunfire coming from just over the mountains to our rear where the other squad in our patrol was coming under the brunt of the ambush that was meant for us. Machine guns and automatic grenade launchers peppered the mountain behind us, so much so you could almost smell the smoke.

Yep, the guys that were shooting at us were a decoy. Meant simply to draw us away from the rest of our guys so that they could catch them in the shooting gallery that is also known as the Afghan mountains. But still we ran after them. We ran and ran and ran. Stopping periodically to shoot and get shot at. Then one of the worst nightmares of any soldier happened to me. (I am truly beginning to think that someone really hates me) I was maneuvering over top of a ridge and down the other side after having just tried to knock these assholes down, but they were just a little bit out of my range.

I came up over the ridge and was looking for a way down the other side when off to my left no more than 10 feet I saw a blue hat. Without even thinking I spun my rifle and trained it right on the blue hat. I moved forward and it took me what felt like 10 years to move 10 feet. I was thinking that they had decided to hide the other side of the ridge and either surprise us or take out one of their boom boom's and make a martyr of themselves and an asshole out of me. I still don't know why I didn't fire. I had the blue of the hat right in my sights. I could've shot him dead without so much as a scratch on me.

But I didn't fire.
Then I heard it.
The whimpering of a crying child.

After the reality of it all hit me, I rushed forward and started telling these two kids, neither one of which could've been over six years old, that it was going to be OK, and I wasn't going to hurt them. Then I remembered, Hey Dickbag, they can't understand you. I called the interpreter over and he got them to safety.

We chased them for a few more clicks and then gave up after they had successfully melted into the mountains.

We went back to the vehicles and continued the patrol. Later a humvee in our convoy hit an IED (improvised explosive device). Damn thing blew the whole front end of the truck clean off. Shook the living shit out of the guys in the truck but no one was hurt. Taliban are fucking cowards, come out and fight you pricks.

So that was today. Fun for me. Then I noticed that I really needed to drop a deuce. However after the events of today I don't know when my buttcheeks are going to unclench and allow that to happen again. Hence the title.
So tonight everyone needs to say a prayer for peace.

So I never have to hear the quiet whimpering of a terrified child again.
Later,
I love you mom...and I am just fine.

I don't really know why I felt the need to share that one now. It just seemed right.
But I'm thinking that I'll start writing again. For a few months there I sank real deep into the hell that is my mind. And I've been slowly making my way back from there. Hence the title of this post.

I even dropped about 40 pounds! Which is literally and figuratively a load off my mind...and my ass!

And as crazy as this might sound, I managed to find a woman who would put up with my shit for more than an hour! Dare I say, I've got a new girlfriend. Thankfully, she doesn't trigger anything.

Now its time for me to start coming up with new and interesting things to write about. But for today I'll end with this. A LONG time ago I wrote about what advice I'd give a soldier going to Afghanistan for the first time.
Now I'd tell them...

A lot of who you are is going to change over there. Some parts of you are even going to die. There's no way around this, and there's no way, nor is there any reason to fight it. Its going to happen whether you like it or not. When you get home, you're going to feel empty. But make no mistake, that's not emptiness you're feeling. What you're feeling and going through is a new beginning. You're not the same person you were when you left. Its almost like you are meeting your family, and friends for the first time. Its like you're learning to live all over again. Its almost like being resurrected...
Later,
I love you Mom...