Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sudden Spring Break (I take what I can get)

So this last week, we took a group of students down to the Mojave desert to help with some negotiations training. I was a little apprehensive about going so far away with for a whole week with people from my class, but now that it's over I can honestly say that it was the best thing that I've ever volunteered for in the Military. It was a great time and included the following:

Wearing an arabic man-dress to work, along with what I later found out was a controversial shiite head dress as opposed to the more acceptable suni version,
swimming in a pool for the first time since early 2004,
witnessing the price of gas go from 2.79 a gallon to 3.59 a gallon in a couple of days, score one for the Arabs,
seeing a desert sunrise for the first time ever,
spending 80 of the alloted 225 dollars on food; and by "food" I really mean milk and Honey Nut Cherios,
actually needing sunscreen,
counseling army officers that out-ranked me by about twenty years.

Overall, I'm glad I went. The week off of traditional school came at the perfect time. My arabic improved, and I had a blast doing it though I could have done without the gas price part. And, considering we worked an average of four hours a day, it really was a makeshift Spring Break. Although I did hurt my self pretty bad on the diving board. Maybe just my pride.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Immerse me, Please. (Heavy on the sarcasm)

Today was immersion day. Let me define that for a moment; Immersion is defined as "sinking until covered completely with water." by So from that definition, replace the word "water" with the word "arabic." Then, take the implications of our new phrase, the idea of drowning in the arabic language, then multiply the suggested misery by 20 or 30, and you get Immersion day.
I'm exaggerating, but that was my presumption going into it at 0800 this morning. I showed up later than I was supposed to, but I wasn't too worried about it. I've given up trying to impress the Army Captain in my class. They're not too impressed with sailors. Whatever. So, after a shotgun orientation we broke up and began to investigate a car accident in Beruit which never really happened (don't tell our instructors, though). Then lunch, monopoly in Arabic, and conversation in a simulated coffee shop where we bought real coffee with fake money. Then dinner that I didn't eat cause I ate too much lunch, then came an arabic game that wasn't too much fun. I hope my arabic improved through it all, cause it sure wore me out.
It was an awesome day weather-wise, and we found plenty of free time to go out and throw "korat al-qadm al-amreekea," or the "football." We even came up with our own game we're calling "kill-ball." It is pretty much lacrosse football without sticks. Patent Pending.
I've got two more days of it, and I think I'll be just fine. Outie.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Potheads, Banana Slugs, and "Ghirardelli closes early"

As the picture would imply, my 16 year old brother, Lee, came out to visit me this weekend in Monterey. We had a blast, trying to do everything that we could in one weekend. We got a lot accomplished, and now that its over, I'm exhausted.

We went to go see "Bench Warmers" with a group of my friends on Friday. It was hilarious. My friends seemed to fall in love with Lee. Jenny at one point even said, "Lee, how about we keep you out here and send Mondo home." But the joke's on her. Eh, Eh, Eh.

We ate out for almost every meal to include: Carl's Jr., Chipotle, Outback Steakhouse, McDonalds, Boadie's American Grill, The Falafel House (my personal favorite), and The Paris Bakery. It killed my wallet, but it was totally worth it.

We spent most of the day Saturday up in Santa Cruz. It was fun, we bought some music and got hassled by some college kids cause we wouldn't give them money for pot. And yes, they specifically asked for money for pot. I asked Lee what he thought of SC. He said, "It's full of potheads, liberals, and homosexuals." Welcome to Santa Cruz, little guy.

On Easter, Heather and Jenny made lunch for all of us. It was incredible. We ate so much that we didn't eat dinner. And to thank them, we kicked their butts in a game of "Scene It." Seriously, though, thanks for lunch.

I hid plastic eggs for Lee at Heather's house. He found them all pretty quick. He's a lot better at it than he used to be.

Sunday, Lee and I took a hike through Big Sur state park. We didn't pay the fee to get in, and the Rangers got back at us by hosing the trail down so we had to tread through mud. It might have been the rain that stopped before we got there, but I'm pretty sure it was the Rangers. Quote of the day: "Do they have forest fires in California?" - Lee

Side note: I was somewhat miss-quoted in a so-so article in the Monterey County Herald about College-aged kids that go to church. It made the front page. All the credit for that goes to Heather Whipple, who got completely shafted by it while providing most of the information. Lee told me to my face, "it's not that big of a deal." Thanks a lot, Lee. Thanks a lot.

It was awesome having Lee out here. It was interesting having someone that is so close to "home" interacting with the people in this place that I'm starting to consider my home. He didn't hesitate to tell my friends embarrassing stories, or things that I wouldn't have told them myself. It's a crazy contrast that I've never really been exposed to. Either way, I'm going to miss the "little" guy. And I'm looking forward to the next time I can go visit him. Someday. . .

Friday, April 07, 2006

New Word

Today, in class my teacher told me that I was "mahsood." I looked it up, and apparently it means that I'm "smitten by the evil eye." It makes sense.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Longest Day Ever (but not nessecarily the worst)

From a chair that I've sat in for at least five hours, I've realized that this was in fact the longest day of my life. Pity is that there is still a good 5ive hours left in it. It all started last night. . .
Sunday, I had noticed a rash on my arm that didn't look like any I had seen. I though that it was some alergic reaction. I'm accustomed to poison ivy(very accustomed), and I knew that that wasn't what it was. I knew how to handle rashes, so I spent the next the next two days biting my lip in numerous efforts not to scratch. I'm proud to say that I accomplished that mission. But last night I noticed that it had spread and was looking worse and worse. It started to hurt pretty bad, too. I went to bed, getting maybe 5 hours of sleep thanks to the pain. And decided this morning to get it checked out. Turns out, it was poison oak (a new one for me). After they loaded me up with, count 'em, 5 different prescriptions and a steroid shot, they sent me home for the day. That meant that I wasn't allowed to leave my room. And I've been here ever since.
So, we can perhaps go over what I accomplished today:

1. I learned how to apply and wrap gauze on an open Poison Oak wound.
2. I had some killer microwave fetuccini alfredo, as well as my share of pop-tarts.
3. I got to watch the Cardinals beat the Phillies in the 9th on ESPN.
4. I acheived a "fairly dangerous" criminal rating in my new favorie computer game, Escape Velocity Nova
5. I came up with a complete list of things I needed to accomplish today (half the battle, right?)

That's about it. I've come to a sweeping realization that I'm sick of being sick. I haven't been healthy since I joined the Navy almost two years ago. Between 4 in-grown toenails, two seriuos ankle sprains, one undocumented sprained wrist, reconstructive ankle surgery, dehabilitating back spasms that still make me sore four months later, and now the worst outbreak of poison oak that I have ever seen let alone have, I believe that I've but in my time at the doctor's office. Where does it end?

Sorry if I sound negative. At least the Cardinals won.

p.s. that picture isn't of me, but it looks alot the same.