Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Beginning of the End (Pre-Basic Training) 6 Days until Basic

After picking up a few of the last minute items I believe I’m almost ready as far as packing goes. We purchased a cheap backpack to throw everything in. I figured it would be the easiest way to carry everything around. I was going to try and bring everything in a carry-on, but I am afraid with all the new airline security measures that this would not be possible. I do have nail clippers in my bag you know lol, but it was the shaving cream that I was really unsure about. So the backpack will be checked in at the airport and then I will have no worries (unless they end up losing it which would really suck). We also picked up stamps at Costco and put half of them on envelopes that I will be taking with me. The other half will be for my wife and kids to use. The backpack is almost entirely packed, I still have a few things left to throw in there such as my razor and my new mouth guard that I need to fit tonight. 
I also have to check on some paperwork. The Future Soldier Center sent me an email with a checklist on it. One of the items is “a certified copy of spouse’s valid photo ID. (Recruiter can have this certified at MEPS by a guidance counselor)”. I sent my recruiter an email asking about this and he said he had never heard of such a thing. He’s going to check into it and let me know when I check in with him on Friday. 
I have two more days left of work and one weekend left before I leave. The weekend happens to be Easter weekend, which should turn out nice because my entire family is planning to get together at my sister’s house where we will be staying. The only bummer is that we will have to leave around 1PM on Easter. We will then make the 6-hour drive to Spokane so my wife can drop me off. (The alternative was a free ticket from the Army to ride the Greyhound bus from Wenatchee to Spokane… no thank you)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Now that’s a big Hummer! (Pre-Basic Training) 8 Days until Basic

The Hummer limo that arrived to pick us up for the wine tasting. 
Me and my wife in front with the rest of my co-workers.

Wow… all I have to say is that I have some great friends and co-workers here. I was told we were going to have a get together to say farewell to me since this will be the last weekend I will be in town. The details were all a surprise, I only knew that it was indoors and to be ready on Sunday around 11 AM.

Shortly after 11 a Hummer limo pulls up at my house and picks me and my wife up. Wow! Once in the limo we were treated to mimosas and doughnuts. We took off to Lake Chelan and visited a number of the local wineries for wine tasting. After the first winery I think I can say that I was feeling pretty good. Each winery had some amazing wines (we ended up purchasing quite a few). The entire trip was a blast. My co-workers are a lot of fun and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. The last winery’s owner asked what the occasion was, and when he was told that I would be joining the army he quickly grabbed a bottle of wine. He then signed the bottle and thanked me for my service and gave it to me. It was a very nice gesture and it was a perfect ending to the tour. The drive back involved more champagne in the limo and then back home for some much needed rest.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fitness Week 12 (Pre-Basic Training) 9 Days until Basic

Week 12: Weight = 189.2
Sun: a day of rest
Mon: 1.66 mile jog outside 14:07
Tue: a day of rest (and indulgence)
Wed: Weight Lifting (chest/arms) Sit-ups 3 x 30 reps
Thurs: a day of rest
Fri: Push-ups 1 x 30 reps
Sat: hike up Saddle Rock

Notes: I’m finding myself trying to enjoy some of the foods and restaurants that I know I will not be able to enjoy for a while. It’s hard to balance working out with having a good time and enjoying some great meals. 

This will be the last actual post of my fitness routines. I am winding down with the workouts. I will continue to do some push-ups and sit-ups as well as a run or two this last week. When I look back at my original plans and goals I see that fell far short of where I thought I would be at this point. I do think I have built a solid foundation that I will be able to improve upon once I get to basic. I don’t think I will have any issues actually passing the fitness test in the end. My goal is to do a little better each time they test us.


and you beat me up saddle rock... never thought i'd see that day my still pissed about that ! hah! i'll list my 10 excuses later....

Saturday, May 1, 2010 - 10:33 PM

Back in the Saddle Again (Pre-Basic Training) 9 Days until Basic

A view of Saddle Rock on the way to the trail head 

My best friend Matt drove up from Portland Oregon to remove his car from our driveway and pick up the last of his stuff from out house. (He stayed with us for a few months before making the move to Oregon). It was nice to see him again. After we took care of business he asked if we could hike Saddle Rock before he took off. (Now I have to give you a little history of my friend Matt and Saddle Rock) Matt used to be a cross-country runner back in high school and has always been running since I have known him. Back in high school I never even came close to staying with him on any runs. We were always competitive, I could sprint faster and basketball was always back and forth, but any distance running was no contest - Matt would easily win every time. During the few months that he stayed with us last year, he started to hike a local trail that led up to a peak called Saddle Rock. The trail up to Saddle Rock is well used with most of it at an incline of course. He would do this about 3 times a week, each time trying to run the whole thing. Although he was never able to run the whole thing, he did make it to the top pretty fast only taking 3 or 4 rests along the way. I went with him the first time just to show him the trail and we hiked up at a normal pace together. The second time I went up with him he ended up leaving me in the dust.
Fast-forward to today… since moving to Portland Matt had some family emergencies and other stuff that took up his time. Long story short he pretty much stopped all forms of exercising and ended up eating out a lot.  We took off on the trail together and not too long after we started he was out of breath and had to take a break. I kept up my walk and even jogged a little here and there until I made it to the top. Matt finally made it, but it took him quite a while.
I have to say that it felt good to beat him to the top even though he had put on a few pounds and was totally out of shape. I think it motivated him to start running again, so this may be the only time I can savor the victory.
A view of the trail from the top of Saddle Rock
The view of the Wenatchee Valley from the top of Saddle Rock


brother that has been the lowest day in my life lol! and not because of you, because of me. i was so disappointed in me, but so happy for you, i could honestly see the improvment youve made in fitness( and we had quite a few delicious beverages the night before remember!) bro i have had 20mile runs that were easier than that day! and im 100% not kidding lol.. i kind of hope you keep the house so i can visit saddle rock annually :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010 - 10:42 PM

Saturday, March 27, 2010

10 Days...Really? (Pre-Basic Training) 10 Days until Basic

Wow…looking at the countdown clock I saw that I have 10 days left before leaving! It still seems a little unreal. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m going on this crazy adventure. As the time gets shorter before I leave, my calendar seems to get fuller and fuller. Tonight we are having some friends over for our weekly UFC movie night. For a while now we have had friends come over to catch up with all the old UFC fights. We have all of them in our Netflix queue, and tonight is UFC 68. Good company, good food, good beer, throw some violence in the mix… what could be better? I will miss these nights. 
Tomorrow I have my best friend coming up to finally remove his car that has been in our driveway for the last few months. My wife was getting a little worried that it was going to be here forever, one less thing to keep the house from selling. This weekend we’ll go watch my kid’s basketball tournament, then I will be heading back for my last week of work. I am going to try and get most of my stuff packed this weekend so I can get everything checked off my packing list.
Checked on out of curiosity to see how many houses have sold in our zip code lately. The answer… 1. Really?? Only 1! The market really sucks right now. It shows that there are 319 houses for sale and only one has sold recently. We have reduced the price by $5,000 and plan on reducing it another $5,000 in a couple months. I really don’t think the price is the problem, especially after looking at the statistics for our area. The economy just really sucks right now. In fact our neighbors house is for sale as well, and I just found out it is in foreclosure. As a last resort we will have to rent the house once I get stationed somewhere. I do not have any desire to be a landlord, but perhaps it may work out for the best. If we can rent the place for a year or two, the economy may pick up. Perhaps we will be able to actually break even or (dare I think it) make some money from the sale.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Cell Phone Solution (Pre-Basic Training) 12 Days until Basic

On all the packing lists I’ve read, it does not state that we can bring cell phones. In fact some websites say don’t bring any sort of electronics including cell phones. I was glad to hear the recruiter tell everyone to bring a cell phone no matter what they have heard. He said it all depends on the drill sergeant that you end up with, but usually (when allowed phone privileges) recruits are allowed to use their personal cell phones.
I have not had a personal cell phone in a while. I have always had a cell phone issued to me for my job, which we were allowed to use for personal use as well. I had a blackberry first, then an iPhone. I didn’t think it would be a wise move to purchase an iPhone and pay the monthly fee only to have it sit in storage at basic until we are allowed to use it especially since it is likely to be only once a week (if that). So I have put my iPhone plans on hold (maybe they will come out with an even better model by the time I finish basic…4G? Verizon network? I know I’m dreaming). 
I went down to the Verizon store and purchased a no contract pay as you go phone for $19.99. I decided to use Verizon since my wife, kids and mom all have Verizon and when using the no contract phone it will only cost $1 each day that I use it with no minutes charged while calling other Verizon cell phones.
My new phone is all set with my family’s numbers programmed in. I’m ready to go in the communication department.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fitness Week 11 (Pre-Basic Training) 17 Days until Basic

Week 11: Weight = 186.6
Sun: a day of rest
Mon: 2.99 mile jog outside (37:01)
Tue: a day of rest
Wed: Push-ups 4 x 30 reps
Thurs: Sit-ups 3 x 30 reps & a 2-mile run on the treadmill 17:35
Fri: halfcourt basketball
Sat: a day of rest

Notes: My Monday jog stats were a little messed up. I use runkeeper on my iPhone to track my distance and my time along with a host of other stats. At some point on the run I accidentally hit the pause button. I didn’t realize this until looking down to check my current distance. I hit resume, so I don’t really know the distance or the time because of this interruption. I can say that it was a good run and it was on a dirt road which was a bit nicer on my knees than the pavement which I have been running on.

Lots of “days of rest” this week. This weekend we drove over to visit family and when this happens I usually do not get in any workouts.

Future Soldier Activity Day (Pre-Basic Training) 17 Days until Basic

Practicing the of our recruiters in the front
with me in the orange shirt in the back.

I got an email from my recruiter telling me to meet at one of the local parks instead of the recruiter’s office this Friday. When I emailed back and asked what we would be doing. The recruiter responded: “Frisbee golf, horse shoes, basketball, marching, eating pizza!  Yes, seriously”

I thought that sounds a little more interesting than hanging out in the recruiter’s office. Also I haven’t had pizza in a while, a day with pizza is always a good day! It was pretty cold when I got up, so I put on jeans and a t-shirt with a sweatshirt on over the top. I drove to the park and waited for a bit. At first there was nobody there, but after a few minutes I realized that everyone had parked on the other side of the park. Hey...I followed the directions and parked exactly at the point it showed on Google maps. No worries though, they all headed up towards my car anyway to play some basketball since the court was located in front of my car. I wasn’t really planning on playing any basketball being in my jeans and all, but I couldn't help myself and did end up playing anyway. We played half court 4 on 4 and it wasn’t long before I was getting warm and wishing I would have brought my shorts. It turned out being a lot more fun than I thought it would have. Everyone there was pretty cool and even though nobody could really play basketball that well, I think everyone had a fun time playing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Basic Training? (Pre-Basic Training) 20 Days until Basic

Just read an interesting article about how the army plans on making the first major changes to basic combat training in 30 years. I knew the army and big government in general seem slow to change, but this seems very slow. I guess if you have a tried and true method, it does not require much change.  From what the article states they will drop bayonets and the five-mile run and work on more core strength and short sprints. I was actually looking forward to the bayonet training (stab stab stab…kill kill kill ha ha), but definitely not the five-mile run. I’m trying to think of this as having my own free personal trainer and I will get paid to work out. Ha! One quote in the article states “Trainers also want to toughen recruits who are often more familiar with Facebook than fistfights.” (That sounds like me) 
It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. The article doesn’t give an actual date. It does state that it has been implemented at Ft. Jackson and is being expanded this month at the Army’s four other basic training installations (this includes Ft. Benning where I am heading). So in theory this will be in place when I start, we’ll see since I’ll be shipping out in a couple of weeks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Green Zone & The Shopping Cart (Pre-Basic Training) 22 Days until Basic

Went and watched The Green Zone with my wife this weekend. I know…another war/military movie…I also just added The Pacific to my Netflix queue! The Green Zone was a pretty good movie showing some of what the front lines were like in Iraq. There was some good action and drama, so much action that it gave my wife a little motion sickness. (a lot of the camera shots were running down streets and the camera seemed to be running as well…I guess to give you more of the feel like you were right there in the action) I had to wonder though why a sergeant on the team had what looked like a few days of facial hair. Maybe he had a waiver? It turned out to be a nice night out and a pretty relaxing evening. Much needed as the time before I leave gets shorter and shorter. The reality hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’ll be leaving soon. 
I did go shopping this weekend for supplies. I still need to pick up a few items, but all in all I think I have pretty much everything I need. I used the packing list from the future soldiers website as well as some items I have read I should bring from other’s journals. Hopefully I will be able to bring it all, if not then some of this will have turned out to be a waste of time and money. Also I want to carry everything on the plane, but I’m not sure if they will allow everything on these days. I’ll just have to wait and see. I guess I can purchase anything I will need after I arrive.
The shopping list:

Cough drops (menthol non flavored only…the currency of BCT)

24 hour watch

Nail clippers and tweezers

Mouth Guard - (I grind my teeth at night and mine was getting pretty worn)

Soap (1 bar soap or 1oz liquid soap)


Disposable shaving razor (non-electric)

Lip balm

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Antiperspirant / deodorant (non-aerosol only)

Shampoo and conditioner (1 oz) – (Passed on the conditioner)

Shaving cream (non-aerosol)

Hand sanitizer

Writing paper (one pad and one small notebook)

Envelopes (one box)

Small address book with addresses and phone numbers of family, friends, your bank and other important contacts - (still need to add everyone to the address book)

Black Sharpie

Two locks (combination or padlock with 2 keys) – I chose the key lock, from everything I’ve read time is very limited in the morning, so not having to do a combination under duress will surely help

Athletic supporter - (bought one, not too keen on having to use it as I like to have a little freedom when possible)

Black shower shoes – (A.K.A. Flip flops or slippas as my wife and her family call them)

Three sets of underwear (white) hmmmmm….not to keen on these either, I prefer boxers, but I have three briefs that have been purchased if needed

Pencil and ball point pens

I am still planning on going to Costco to purchase large quantities of stamps. These will be for me as well as my wife and kids. This way there will be no hurdles for them to write me a lot of letters. There are also a number of document type items that I will need to make sure to pack as well. I am currently in the process of making sure I have all of these in order and ready to go.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fitness Week 10 (Pre-Basic Training) 23 Days until Basic

Week 10: Weight = 189.2
Sun: a day of rest
Mon: 2.68 mile jog outside (28:49) Push-ups 2 x 30 reps, Sit-ups 2 x 30 reps
Tue: a day of rest
Wed: 2-mile run on the treadmill 18:21
Thurs: Push-ups 4 x 30 reps
Fri: Weights (Chest/Arms), Sit-ups 3 x 30 reps, 2-mile run on treadmill 19:57
Sat: a day of rest

Notes: Wednesday’s 2-mile run on the treadmill really sucked, I had no energy and just could not keep a good pace. I was breathing hard the whole time and it turned out to be pretty discouraging. It’s strange… some days I feel like I have all the energy in the world with energy left over after the runs, other days I feel the run takes everything I have just to finish. I’ve never been a big fan of running. In fact I was on the track & field team in high school and did everything from long jump to javelin, but always tried to get out of any running event. 

I had hopes of really improving my speed and scoring quite high on my army PT test. I am now just looking forward to doing as much as possible now in order to just pass comfortably. 

Even though Friday’s run on the treadmill seemed much worse, I actually felt much better with the workout as a whole. I had a great workout at the gym and did the run last. I knew I was already pretty tired, so I walked a lap and then ran a lap at a pretty fast pace and kept alternating. Turned out to be a pretty long run time, but I did get a good workout.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fitness Week 9 (Pre-Basic Training) 30 Days until Basic

Week 9: Weight = 191
Sun: a day of rest
Mon: Month 2 Assessment
Tue: 2.54 mile jog outside (26:44)
Wed: a day of rest
Thurs: a day of rest
Fri: a day of rest
Sat: a day of rest

Notes: This week I ended up not doing much do to a variety of reasons. Let me start by saying that the run outside was much different than on a treadmill. I took my dog with me for a jog and he did pretty good the first mile, then I had to kind of pull him from then on. My cardio seemed fine and I felt good after the run. The next few days though I could feel the soreness in my legs. I never felt this after a run on the treadmill, I’m guessing because the treadmill kind of helps you along during your run. The rest of the week turned out to be a bust. I had to run errands, take my wife to the airport, pick her up from the airport and when I wasn’t doing any of that I was pretty sick for a while. Looking forward to a new week ahead with a much more productive workout.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Straighten That Pinky (Pre-Basic Training) 31 Days until Basic

Today we were asked to come in at 10AM to the recruiter’s office for some Future Soldier Training. 6 of us showed up ready to go. Ironically the gal who is going into OCS (going to be an officer) showed up 15 minutes late. The recruiter initially focused on the two recruits who were shipping out next week. These recruits have the ability to get a promotion (up to E3) if they can pass a test issued at MEPS showing they understand and have memorized all the stuff that we need to learn before going to basic. This is stuff like the rank structure, the general orders, and some of the military movements (i.e. right face, attention, saluting etc).

The recruiter then had us all stand together and practice the movements as he sounded off. It had to be pretty comical for him because we must have looked like a bunch of idiots. He would say “Right Face” and half the people would turn left with the other half turning right. As I was saluting the recruiter said, “straighten your pinky finger”. I said, “I can’’s broken, it doesn’t straighten”. So they all laughed, then had me lift it up slightly so it doesn’t stand out as much. I’ll take any suggestions and help I can get before basic. I think it got even funnier when the recruiter took us outside to practice marching. Picture one guy in uniform marching around a bunch of people dressed in civilian clothes. We marched all over the parking lot, taking random lefts and rights at his the time we were done I think it started to come together. Just have to remember quick snappy movements and keep my pinky slightly lifted when saluting.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Shave a Day Keeps the Drill Sergeant Away (Pre-Basic Training) 32 Days until Basic

Let me start by saying that I have never shaved with a razor consistently in my entire life. I have been able to grow a beard since I was a teenager. In fact when I was 17, my beard was so full I was able to purchase beer for my 20-year-old friend (who was only able to grow a thin mustache). I have always used an electric razor or blade to trim up and sport either a beard or goatee, and every once in a while a clean-shaven face for a fresh start. I would even get creative with my facial hair going with the full beard for a few weeks, then start trimming it into what I call the “Commander Riker” look (being the Star Trek geek that I am). A week or two later would come the long side burns and goatee followed by a stand-alone goatee. Once in a great while I may sport the sideburns only look, or even a soul patch.  The “Miami Vice” stubble beard would follow all this up for a while until I let the whole thing grow into the full beard once again. Then the whole process would start all over. 
Needless to say shaving everyday in the army is going to be a new experience for me. I have started shaving everyday with a razor to get myself used to this. Since I am so manly I end up having a five o’clock shadow about 5 minutes after I finish shaving. This may turn out to be a bit of a pain in the butt during basic. I imagine the drill sergeants are going to give me a bunch of crap. I may also end up having to shave twice a day, which would suck. I already get little cuts and nicks when I’m taking my time shaving. With the reduced time that I will have getting ready each morning I fear that I may end up a bloody mess each day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fitness: Month 2 Assessment (Pre-Basic Training) 35 Days until Basic

In order to pass basic I need to score at least a 60 in each of the three areas.

100% scores (for my age group):
2-Mile Run: 13:18
Push-ups (2 minute time limit): 75
Sit-ups (2 minute time limit): 76

Starting scores (December 31st)
2-Mile Run: 22:30 = 16 points
Push-ups: 43 = 67 points
Sit-ups: 37 = 54 points
Total: 137

1st Month Assessment (January 31st)
2-Mile Run: 15:53 = 76 points
Push-ups: 56 = 81 points
Sit-ups: 38 = 55 points
Total: 212

2nd Month Assessment (March 1st)
2-Mile Run: 17:47 = 60 points
Push-ups: 44 = 68 points
Sit-ups: 42 = 60 points
Total: 188

Garbage In … Garbage Out! Not too happy with this 2nd month assessment. Although I technically passed all the tests, I actually did not improve in two of the three. I’m going to blame it on last weekend and probably the entire previous week as well. I ate so much crap last week and during the weekend it is no wonder I didn’t do very well. I had a lot of ice cream and sugar without a lot of real food. My desire to satisfy my sweet tooth has been a little overwhelming lately. Perhaps it is because I know I will not get any candy while in basic. Subconsciously I think my body is trying to get all the sugar it can before it gets cut off cold turkey. Ha. I definitely need to do some better eating and work out a little more. I think I’ve been undisciplined in both of these areas. Sometimes when I am running I feel like I have energy left over, but during this assessment I felt as if I were sucking wind the entire time. I had side aches on both of my sides and it seemed I could never catch my breath. I even had to slow down to a walk twice before getting back up to a run again. I am glad that I had a passing score and I am glad I was able to improve my “problem area” (the Sit-ups), but all in all this was a crappy assessment. I have one month left to get in better shape.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Hurt Locker (Pre-Basic Training) 36 Days until Basic

So I’ve been watching a lot of army and war TV shows & movies lately. Part of getting myself mentally prepared… lol. For Valentines I took my wife to see a chick flick called “Dear John” and this last weekend we watched “The Hurt Locker”. I thought the movie was OK. It definitely makes me glad that I did not choose EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal - The army's version of the bomb squad) as my MOS in the army. A guy I went to high school with (and actually the guy who got me thinking about joining this late life) just finished basic and is now going to his AIT school in EOD. He may be a little crazy I think. I know the movie had to “hollywoodize” the job a bit, but I think that has to be one of the more stressful jobs to have at the moment. There are so many IEDs out there.
I now have just over a month before I leave. I’m trying to soak in and enjoy all the moments that I have left with friends and family. I visited my wife’s family as well as my own last weekend. I spent a lot of time just hanging out with my mom, aunt, and my grandma. I’m going to try to plan at least one more trip over to see my family before I have to take off. It's strange knowing that I will not be able to see them for such a long period of time. Right now I have the option to go visit family anytime I feel like, it's something that can easily be taken for granted. I already try to do my best to live each day to it’s fullest and I don’t take anything or anyone for granted. I’ve tried to live this way ever since I lost my little brother in an auto accident. You never know when a person is going to leave you forever. 


I'm confused! If you didn't choose EOD for your MOS then what did you choose?!   D:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 11:53 PM


I chose 25B (Information Technology Specialist) to stay with my current field and experience I've already had in the civilian world.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 06:34 AM