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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Christmas Carol

 This year Juli and I had the chance to see the theatrical rendition of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol".  We'd wanted to see it as a part of celebrating the season.  It was a choice between going to this or the Nutcraker.  We decided on this.  The GEVA theater puts it on every year so we looked up the prices and times.  It was a little bit that we had to put aside for the tickets.  So we worked to find a good day when we had the money for get them.
   So at some point Juli finally broke down and called them to see if there were any discounts.  Much to her surprise there was one we couldn't pass up - free.  There was one night set aside for veterans and their families to see it for free.  The theater had been asking its' patrons at every show to donate something for this to happen.  So she reserved 2 tickets for that night.
  It was a bit cold that night but we bundled up and took the bus down town and walked the 3 blocks to the theater.  When we got there I showed them my VA id ad picked up the tickets.  Inside they had a spread of christmas cookies and punch.  The news crew was there interviewing and it was an exciting atmosphere.  They had on
 display a collection of costumes from past productions of the same play.  I took some photos of Juli standing next them.
  We went to the balcony to get a good seat at the front row to be able to see it all.  On the stage was the tomb stone you see above.  When it was time to start several dignataries came up to thank us for our service and the normal speech's.  The play itself followed the story very well. and the actors were very convincing.  All in all we were impressed.  After the play the actors were out in the lobby for us to meet and greet.  We talked to the ones who play Jacob Marley(above) and Ebenezer Scrooge.  Both very friendly.  I took a snap shot of this guy so I could work up a sketch later.  I added in the hand and chain for affect.  While at the show I quickly threw down the sketch you see below of the view of the stage from where we sat.  The ghost of Christmas future was hanging in the rafters directly above us and was very affective in startling us.  Next year we will see the Nutcraker but with the free showing of A Christmas Carol every year we will go to it again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My personal Army Surplass

 While going through my old Army foot locker I ran across some of my old equipment.  Each one of these pieces has specific memories attached to them.  Since I work from home now I decided to make a document of them as drawings.  I will included here those memories that I have.
Handcuffs: We were issued a pair but I made a point of buying my own. The quality of these were better.  When I found them last month I told Juli never to use these since I lost the keys.  In my 7 years in the Guard I used them once.  At the Dallas Naval Airstation they have 4 branches of the military on one base.  The Air Force crossed trained us (Army) guys to fill in for their APs' (Air Police) since theirs were reservist and had to pull annual 2 weeks of training else where.  So we guarded their planes while they were gone.  In the Air Force they park the planes on the tar mat inside an area marked off with  a red line.  You could enter an exit only through the break in the line.  Well the Navy had their planes parked on the other side of that.  On my first rotation guarding the planes a Navy Commander wanted to take the shortcut through the red line.  I tried to stop him politely but he ignored me and stepped over that line.  Needless to say I proceeded to tackle him and place him under arrest.  My ears rang from the words that came out of his mouth.  But I never got in trouble. :)

Compass: Again I decided to go with buying my own.  This one was a Swiss Army compass.  The later  part of my time in the Guard I was an instructor.  I would teach land nav quite often and the army issue ones were very good.  But at some point I found out what made the issued ones glow in the dark all the time(the parts that glowed were literally radioactive).  Using them in the 'normal' life of your career in the army would not be dangerous but as often as I was teaching the class I decided to err on the side of caution and switch out to this one.

Canteen: This is the full set. Canteen, Cup and Carry Case. What you can't see in the water purification tablets that are in the pocket you see and the clips that hold the case to the belt. This is my oldest piece of equipment.  It followed me from the Active Duty Army.  I got it in 1986.  It stuck with me through thick and thin. I used it rarely.  I was first assigned to the 24th Infantry Div.(slated for middle east only).  So this canteen was too small.  I have always carried and used the larger 2 liter canteen.  This one was used more for show. The cup I used all the time though for coffee and such.  The first time was in a fox hole at 2am in winter in Death Valley.  Someone came by to check on me and give me something to keep warm.  It was my first cup of coffee ever and I didn't care what it was = just that it was hot.

Message Book:  The day I was sworn into the Texas State Guard I received this.  My new company commander was from England and was just over 5 foot tall.  He administered the oath to me, we saluted each other then shook my hand saying "congradulations Corporal"  I smiled and then he continued, "I want you to be my aide because you are so big and I want you to protect me."  Then he handed me this book as a symbol of what my duties were to be for a while.

Range Finder:  By the time I had joined the Guard I had learned the value of having some of my own equipment.  This never uses batteries.  It came in handy during our many trips out to the field to train. I always say that my career in the Army consisted of "Train, train, train ..."
 Ranger Beads:  This was used to help you keep track of how far you had walked.  I forget it now but for every so many steps you took you would slide down one of the beads in the long row.  When you reached the end of the long row you slid down one from the short row - thus helping you keep track of you distance.  This was one of those "keeping up with the Jones'" buys that I made to make myself look better but I never used but twice,
 Protractor: The one class I loved to teach the most was Land Nav(knowing how to get from point A to B). I always taught it the old fashoined way with compass, map and protractor. This is one of the ones I used in those classes.  I always got some young Private that would ask the same stupid question,"Why can't we just push a button on the GPS?"  I would hand him mine, have  him hold it up then I would shoot it with my finger and say,"you're stuck behind enemy lines - how are you going to get back?"  It worked every time.

Tabasco: Yes these were issued to me in MRE packs.  They were the most treasured possesion out in the field.  I got to try the first generation of MREs'  Ugh!  These bottles were a God send to help you swallow the food we had too eat.  These are still sealed and are the size of my pinky.

Earplug Case: I was in the Guard in Texas.  My commander wanted to do something to our uniform to make us stand out from the rest.  Of course, the rules for our uniform are very specific and can't be changed.  So he looked over them and found the loop hole.  We were a Military Police unit so we could wear the crossed pistols in brass on the case.  He had us add the little armadillo with Texas flag pin to the case.  It definately caused a stir with in the entire Guard but was never changed.

Whistle: As I mentioned I was Military Police, so I had to wear this on my uniform.  But because of it many people got confused looking at our uniform.  That is because it is worn in the spot that we normally had to wear our ear plug case.  One day, at the armory a young private stopped our commander to politely point out that he had his earplug case on the wrong side.  He smiled and answered, "why thank you for noticing, however, We are Military Police and are required to wear the whistle there so the case goes to the other side."  She blushed and apologized but he would have none of that and made a point of giving a formal recommendation to her commander for her concern.

White Gloves:  Again, being an MP, this was required gear.  But this was only for directing traffic. The first time I used these I was directing traffic coming out of an air show.  Because of the amount of traffic we were directing them the opposite direction that they would normally go.  I got a lot of angry looks, but mostly they complied.  One, however, insisted on going the other way until I jumped in front of the car and took off my helmet and slapped it hard on the hood.  He got out to argue with me but stopped when I pointed to the police car across the street with the officer waiting for him to make the wrong turn and get a ticket.  He grumbled, got back in and went the other way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Great Grandpa @ his sawmill

So my family is putting out a book about the family during the 1800's.  Of course, because of the time period, Some of the photos are not that good, or non-existent.  This one case was the prior.  They had a photo but it was hard to make it out.  So who do they call, Ghost! - I mean me. Any way I get the picture by email and I run it through the wringer to get what detail I can.  I can see that the saw is moving  and that the ground in and around the saw is covered in mud or sawdust but outside of that snow.  Everyone is sure that it is my great grandfather in the foreground but are not sure who the young man is.  So I concentrate on what I can see.  I decide to recreate the image to look like and old photo but too make it clearer. I can't imagine spending large amounts of time outside in the cold Canadian winters cutting wood.  It had to be brutal at times.  This day was sunny.  I could make out the shadows of something on his coat.  But otherwise at the time that this photo was taken he had no roof on the mill. It also amazed me that they had a camera to even take this picture.  They were homesteading out in the wilds of Canada.