Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Misawa Life

So we've been in Japan for a little over 3 weeks now, and I am loving it. So far I have met so many wonderful helpful people here at work and outside of work. I am praying that this kind helpful disposition is a way of life here and not just a welcome to Misawa. The land is beautiful and the Japanese nationals have all been kind and helpful, even with the language barriers here, the Japanese people are very graceful and patient with foreigners... It's a strange feeling to be foreigner. RoseAnn is adjusting very well here and she has expressed to me how happy she is.. this is honestly a first for her, to be truly happy at a new duty station.

Due to AF policy here we have to live on base, but we actually are OK with this. When housing became available to us we had a choice of a 4 family housing unit or a tower ( 8 floors ) after looking at both options we chose the tower due to the closeness of the main gate and base facilities. It is a very nice 2 bed 1 bath apartment style house with plenty of room for us and our 2 dogs.. I miss you bailey (our 3rd dog that wasn't able to come with us) He would have loved it here, but he is in Maine with family having a grand ole time with lots of kids and other dogs. The only complaint I really have is the 4am full sunshine, which is really affecting RoseAnn and her sleeping patterns. We can't wait for our stuff to get here so we can really make it feel like home.

So far life here is very laid back, both work and personal. We have met some great people who I know will be lifelong friends. This Saturday will be our first festival here in Misawa (American Day) and we are looking forward to attending. There are plenty of opportunity for volunteering and education and time for family. I am happy we are here and look forward to sharing more about Japan over to next 3 years. ◦

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Danger!! Watch out!!

So I blogged a little while ago about Florida and the over population of Predators in this God Forsaken state.. in case you missed it, HERE it is. Well the good old state of Florida has done it again. They successfully added 17 more individuals to the list of sexual predators.  I'm not going to go off on another rant about how Florida is the worst state for child abductions or how about 1 in 8 residents of this great state is a sexual predator, No instead I am just going to post a picture with some names... Remember even though these guys were actually caught red handed coming into a house that was suppose to be used for sex with a kid, all of these "MEN" are innocent until they are tried by a jury of their peers... everything they did or wanted to do was alleged.. GO JUSTICE!! Oh by the way none of them have had any previous trouble with Law Enforcement... so can you say probation..... maybe 6 months in jail... sigh!!

Robert Gazel Jones, 40, Jacksonville
Melvin Crosby, 27, Jacksonville
Christopher Lee Smith, 29,Waycross
Christopher E. Logue, 26, Jacksonville
Brandon Meredith Hardy, 20,Valdosta
Francisco J. Nunez, 27, Jacksonville
Jimmy Santiago Jr., 28, Orange Park
Donald Kim Stephens, 55, Jacksonville
Adam Michael Morris, 22, Gainesville
Joshua Michael Johnson, 29, Yulee
Murtaza Ali Panjwani, 27, Jacksonville
Kenan Dumanjic, 24, Jacksonville
Alvin Brian Smith, 25, Deltona
Efrain Perez-Casanova, 23, Kissimmee
Sui Law, 20, Jacksonville
Benjamin C. Harrison, 39, Jacksonville
Ronald D. Thompson, 47, Jacksonville


Time moves forward even when you're standing still.

Graduation day today.. No not graduation for college or any institute of higher education. It a graduation from a month long military training school here in Jax. This will enable me to work on a specific type of military equipment while I am in Japan. Time has been moving sooo quickly this month, we are T-minus 24 days and counting, and in all reality I am not ready. There are soo many things that need to be accomplished before we leave. I wish that I could hit the pause button do what I need to do and then hit play again, but I can't so I'll just have to make due with the time I have.

I did find out some information I would like to pass on to anyone who may be thinking of taking of taking orders to japan or any other overseas location. If you have pets, really think long and hard about not taking them. I love all of my dogs and they are part of my family, but the military doesn't see it that way, to them pets are no different than any other material item you may have, as far as PCSing is concerned. Throughout this whole PCS process I have been told over and over that pets really don't matter, housing is based on dependants not pets, and there is more paperwork involved and a meticulous timeframe than there is for humans. This process has been a pain in my ass, but we have decided that they are worth it...to us. I just found out yesterday that in order for me to get my health certificate for my dogs I have to come on to base and get the exam done, then I have to take that certificate, drive all of the way to the USDA office in Gainesville, FL and pay them $122 for them to put a stamp on the certificate. Why can't they do this all o n base you ask, well it because there will not be a military vet available until mid July.. HMMM no Military Vet on a military base... that really doesn't seem right to me, but hey that's that way it is. Anyway our last week here is going to be busy and expensive. We have to pay the base vet, pay the USDA, pay the airline, book and pay for 2 hotel rooms, Pick up the in-laws at the airport, drive to Gainesville, pay the carpet cleaners, do the final inspection on our apartment, pay for any damages they make up... you get the point.

Even though it's going to be busy as hell, I am still looking forward to getting to Japan, and starting the next chapter in life. See you all in about 26 days.. Have a fine Navy Day

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

High School Reflections

So I was thinking of something I hadn't really thought of in a while today. High School!!

Yup I said it, high school. I began to get sad at all of the memories that came flooding back from that time in my life. In high school I never was part of any one clique or circle, but there were many that I was never part of. I was what you would call a loner, but I did have a few friends. I remember one guy that I always got into trouble with, Brian Mulner. He was a kindred spirit, we had many of the same interests, and had few friends, and we loved to "Party". I remember how I was to steal the car keys, put the car in neutral, and coast it down the driveway and road and then drive over to his house to get drunk.. LOL it reminds me of a scene right out of the movie License to Drive. I wonder where you are now Brian, did life get better for you after you moved away? I hope you're doing well brother.

As with any small, shy, timid kid in school, I got bullied to no end.. maybe that's why I'm such a opponent of Hazing in the Military today. The only thing that bullying teaches a kid is fear and worry. When I was a freshman I never went to the bathroom in between classes for fear of running into someone who had it out for me, I spent alot of time holding it. One day late April of my freshman year, I snapped and everything changed from that point on, I was tired of being that weak person always a target... No I didn't bring a gun to school and started capping assholes.. No instead I met someone that I immediately had a lot of respect for. This guy had something about him that told other people to back the fuck off  and I'm going to do this my way, James thank you for teaching me how to take care of myself. I took what he had and made it mine. I had what would be called an awakening. I took all of the parts about him that I respected and emulated them. I shaved my head, pierced my ears, started to listen to metal and punk, I took all of the things that I would have feared before and made them mine. During the summer I spent alot of time doing what kids do in the summer, exploration, and self awareness. I made a whole new set of friends, back then we called them the stoners/slackers. I played the part really well, I was invited to parties, had brief relationships, I became someone that would never be messed with again.

I remember the following year I felt like the new guy, people were very standoffish, those who bullied me left me alone, those who I hung out with previously didn't want much to do with me. But I seemed to attract a new group of people. We were know as the wall kids, that was because we never sat at any table during lunch we just sat on the cafeteria half wall and ate. I remember that even though I became part of that group I was still a loner, and I liked it that way. I never really truly found my place in high school, I was never part of anything, and I never really wanted to. All of this was all based on the image I presented to everyone.

As with every  drastic change to life, there were negative consequences. As I mentioned before the downward spiral got ahold of me and I began to drown.. Lets just say that I did many things that I now regret and have had long lasting effect on me throughout my life so far.

I've always wondered what I would do if I could do it all over again, I can honestly say I don't know. Yes there were many regrets, but everything has brought me to this point in my life, and I am pretty happy with the end result.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Alhambra Dinner Theatre

Last night I had an absolutely wonderful time with my dear wife, every weekend we look for something to do, but usually we wind up just relaxing and taking some time for ourselves. This weekend was different, I came home last Thursday and was informed that we have reservations for Saturday night to see 7 brides for 7 brothers at the Alhambra. This is the 3rd time that we've been to one of their performances and I have to say that I had alot of fun everytime.

Christmas Eve 2008 we decided to have a Non-traditional Christmas so we went to see their rendition of A Christmas Carol, the cast did a wonderful job bringing Scrooge and the ghosts to life.

Again on Christmas Eve 2010 we joined the Alhambra family once again for their performance of "It's a Wonderful Life" (The radio Broadcast). We really didn't know what to think about this one, as it was set-up to look and feel like the live radio play. To our surprise it worked out beautifully, the voice actors really played their characters well, the only downside was that there were too many characters to play for only 4 voice actors, so by the end of the performance those strong voices were getting a little weak.

And of course last night we went again this time to a non-holiday performance, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. At the opening of the play our main character opened with the song "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" which sounded choppy and slightly off. I can honestly say that this was the only major criticism of the entire play that I had. I can even overlook the wardrobe malfunction of one the characters (Caleb) where his lapel kept falling due to a button popping off and his obvious zipper malfunction... My wife pointed that one out to me. All in all it was a great play and very well choreographed, the dancing was actually pretty awesome.

Now on the the dinner part of the "Dinner Theatre". I know that they try to provide a great menu, but really the food has reminded me of buffet cafeteria style everytime we've gone. For me that is ok, but when you have someone who is picky and only eats 1 thing it really isn't worth the price. According to their playbill, the food portion of your ticket is approx. $24. For someone like me who will eat just about anything that is placed in front of him that's an ok price, but for my wife who eats 1 sliver of beef and 1 roll, not so much. I think that the Alhambra should offer a show price minus the dinner, or an all inclusive package for the dinner and the show, or they could have a variety of items for selection when booking your tickets. This is all my opinion, and would never stop me from returning to the Alhambra.

Sadly this will be our last performance we will be attending, due to a Military PCS move to Japan next month, but I would like to thank the staff and cast of the Alhambra for entertaining us for the last 3 years.

If you have never gone to a dinner theatre, I strongly recommend you try to go to at least one in your life, and if you live anywhere in Northeast Florida, may I recommend the Alhambra.

If you would like to make reservations or just stop by and see what shows are coming up feel free to Click HERE for their homepage, or HERE for their schedule.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chopping Block

Sigh... where to begin... Ok, so the Navy released a new NAVADMIN about a week ago 121/11. This message basically says that the PTS program isn't getting the manning numbers down enough, so they're setting up a continuation board and are expected to axe 3000 sailors in approx.. 31 different ratings. LET THE HEADHUNTING BEGIN! I completely understand the why factor but it still makes me nervous. Why? Well according to the message I will be included in this board for consideration for retention. according to the message, the board is looking for any adverse entries on a sailors service record, but what criteria is going to be used when they don't reach that 3000. In paragraph 2 it states "THE BOARD WILL CONSIDER THE FACTORS LISTED BELOW IN RETENTION DETERMINATIONS. THIS LIST IS NOT ALL INCLUSIVE, BUT PROVIDES BASIC PERFORMANCE STANDARDS FOR  CONSIDERATION". Me personally, I don't meet those factors that are listed on the message, but I don't know what those other factors are going to be. Right now my rating (AT) is extremely overmanned and it definitely needs to be trimmed "A little off the top" IMO. I have found a home and career in the Navy and I would hate to get called into a Master Chiefs office, with the prepared speech, a bus ticket, and a thank you. Hell I don't know what I would do with the rest of my life if I didn't have the Navy to go to everyday.

All I can say is that we'll see what happens. Funny thing is, Oct 09 I was PTS approved, Nov 09; Nov 10; and Apr 11 Evals are all checked "Retention Recommended". So what is the purpose of those checks and balances, just to make people feel good and secure? I think that every Sailor should be told when they come in, not to expect to stay in the Navy until retirement because now that is a reality. That's not a very good recruiting tool is it? Well it's the truth. I am sure that I am safe from being axed right now, but no one is going to be safe forever.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You must choose..Choose wisely.

So there I was, arguing with someone about something that wasn't even worth arguing about. During our "Heated Debate" about nothing, a voice spoke to me in my head. Don't laugh at me but it was the voice of the Grail Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. "You must choose, choose wisely" I heard and I thought about picking and choosing your battles. Fight for things that really matter to you, not for insignificient little petty things. When you constantly fight and fight and fight eveytime you actually lose power and credability with your superior and subordinates alike. The subject of the argument isn't worth mentioning, but the lesson that was re-learned was very valuable.

I have always been one to "Rock the Boat" but lately I have been doing less rocking and more rowing. I am by no means becoming what many say an "Ass Kisser" but I have come to discover that when the political machine is pumping away, you have to do whatever you can to keep it running. I don't alway believe in agree with everything that's going on around me, but sometimes it's more benefical to just shut-up and accept it, because you can't fix everything.

A good example of fighting for what's right just happened while I was writing this post. A fellow Sailor is seperating out of the Navy (No fault of their own... Damn PTS quotas) well this sailor just received their separation Eval, and it is not an accurate reflection of their performance. I personally worked with this Sailor for the last year or so, and they did not get the eval that they deserved. All because they were seperating out of the Navy, and they (The political machine) wanted to save the higher evaluations for their personnel who are still in the Navy on active duty. I guess that they didn't realize that this sailor is transferring to the Naval Reserves and that this is still going to impact this Sailors carrer. I am a firm believer in rewarding people for the job that they do, regardless of where they're going. Awards, if they deserve one give it to them. Great Eval, If they deserve it, give it to them. I have recommended that this Sailor submit a statement to attach to their eval.

So I guess the point of this post is that you Must Choose.... but Choose Wisely. Don't fight the system to the point that it becomes pointless, and PTS (Perform to Serve) really sucks.