Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blue Ribbon Agility Dude

My Spousal Unit ("SU") has been training with Frodo, our French Bulldog, to compete in the sport of K-9 Agility. While the SU has compiled a very successful record with our previous pups, this weekend was the little dude's first agility trial. As you can see from the photo, both dog and handler took First Place in both of the matches they entered. Obviously, Frodo is overjoyed at his rookie success.

Anyway, I want to add my congratulations to my Spousal Unit. She is a very talented dog trainer and handler, and has proven uniquely adept at making champions out of pups not usually known for speed and agility. Great job, Babe! Here's to many more "Qs and clean runs" in your and Frodo's future!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Using Suitable Restraint...

I started writing a post about the latest Army/CIA leadership scandals back when they first hit the news. After some reflection, I decided to refrain from adding my two cents worth, not due to shyness or lack of opinion, but rather a rare moment of mature insight.

There is ALWAYS more to the story with these kinds of situations. Once the media, pundits, bloggers, and the Twitterverse collide with the participants' lawyers and spokespersons, then the facts are lost in a tsunami of speculation, rumor and innuendo. One more uninformed voice adding to that maelstrom of baloney does nothing positive.

Instead, I'm reading several books written prior to all this drama hitting the news, which are adding to my overall understanding of current leadership issues. One that I'm finding thoroughly fascinating is The Operators, written by Michael Hastings. Hastings is the guy who gained instant notoriety as the Rolling Stone reporter embedded with GEN Stanley McChrystal's staff. Hasting's story ultimately led to  President Obama relieving the General, and replacing him with David Petraeus...which eventually led to, well, you get the picture.

So I'm going to let the whole mess in the media and DC continue to percolate while I try to actually learn something.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Over the Shoulder Pistol Holder

Yeah, I was indeed doing a play on the old euphemism for "brassiere"...but I am instead extolling the virtues of my new, non-Army issue shoulder holster!
I saw a couple of agents in my detachment wearing what looked to be both practical and comfortable shoulder holsters. Since our issued weapon is a heavy steel-frame 9mm semi-auto pistol, wearing a belt-holster tends to pull my dress trousers down a bit...especially because I'm supposed to carry two additional magazines of ammo, and a pair of steel handcuffs (which the Army quaintly calls, "hand-irons".). That's a lot of weight hangin' on the old dress belt.

This shoulder holster, on the other hand, nicely distributes the weight of the pistol on one side, and both ammo magazines on the other, using very ergonomic leather shoulder straps. The whole package is very comfortable; I wore it all day today, and even forgot I had it on a couple of times.
Some additional benefits:
1. I can go to the latrine without finding a ledge in the stall to place my pistol on, as you gotta remove that 4-pound weight whenever you drop trou.  This way I won't leave my pistol behind, like I did once a looooong time ago. (There's little that's more embarrassing than having the Sheriff drop by your desk, holding your pistol in his hand, asking, "So, is this yours?")
2. If terrorists attack the bathroom while I'm enthroned, at least my weapon is close at hand, even if I dive to the floor.
3. I look totally bitchen.

I've owned shoulder holsters in the past, both Army-issue and personally purchased, but they were all pretty much pieces of crap by comparison. This one, I think it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

NOTE: The brand/model of my new shoulder holster is the DeSantis "New York", lined, in always-fashionable black leather. It's kind of pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for. Plus, it really looks bitchen....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012

Four years ago, I was packing my bags and getting ready to spend quality time at CID Agent School in bucolic Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  I had forgotten just how "progressive" the Army, or more accurately my fellow soldiers could be. Yes, that was a joke. "Slightly to the right of Attila the Hun" would be more accurate in characterizing a lot of 'em. Let's just say that being immersed in the military environment in the immediate aftermath of a paradigm-shifting election was very instructive.

It's election day today, and once again I found myself in the middle of soldiers. While there wasn't a whole lot of political commentary going on, there was just enough to make me thankful for a couple of things:
1. Our military remains almost completely apolitical...though definitely not apathetic.
2. I happen to live in a state where the state and local elections officials are professional, pretty much non-partisan, and dedicated to enabling everyone who is entitled to vote access to that right. There are no lines outside polling places here. Most of us received our mail-in ballots a month ago, and many of us sent them in at least a week prior to tonight's deadline. There's no good reason why every other state can't follow our example.
3. As of a few minutes ago, we are no longer subjected to "robo-calls", fundraising appeals by phone, email, or visitors at our front door. Even better, those asinine TV and radio ads have hit their expiration dates.
4. We live in a republic ruled by the ballot, not the bullet. I saw the elections in Iraq first hand. Despite our imperfections, this nation is still the best place when it comes to peaceful elections. Yay, us.

So thanks, fellow citizens, for your willingness to stay engaged in the civic process, regardless of the attempts to hijack it by various special interests and power groups. Y'all make me proud to be a voter, and citizen of the USA.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My New Favorite Acronym: DONSA

Unless you are currently on Army active duty, work on an Army post, or left fairly recently, the acronym "DONSA" likely means nothing to you. But for those of us who are currently employed by the Big Green Machine, DONSA is a happy acronym.

DONSA stands for, "Day Of No Scheduled Activities", which is bureaucrat-speak for an extra day off, normally in conjunction with a national holiday. So, according to the installation's 2012-2013 DONSA/Holiday Schedule, not only will I have Veteran's Day off (observed on Monday, 12 November), but I also get Friday, 9 November off as a DONSA! Yes, sports fans, that means a four-day weekend is coming soon to a theater or drive-in near me!

Not only do I embrace this concept whole-heartedly, but the acronym's somewhat Italian-sounding pronunciation has inspired me to compose a little ditty, to the tune of "That's Amore"...

"When the Army says 'Hey, please take off one more day, That's a DONSA,
If your job's pretty tough, three days off ain't enough, That's a DONSA,
When the Army life's tough, CO's giving you guff, take a DONSA...
Like the Fonz-a says, 'Ehhhh', make your weekends four day, thanks to DONZA,
Deal with being annoyed, (Unless you are deployed) with a DONSA!!!"

(With sincere apologies to the memory of Dean Martin, and to Weird Al Yankovic...)