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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm outta here

Peace out civilian world. I'll see you in 13 weeks as a Marine. Check back here, I might have my parents write some updates for me on how I'm doing in boot camp. Otherwise, put the beers on ice.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I'm gonna miss Madison

Well, its late Thursday night/early Friday morning. I just had a fun night out with the gang at the Angelic and at Wando's. I saw a lot of people that I haven't seen in a while and won't see for a while again. I am starting to realize just how much I'm gonna miss Madison.

I WILL come back and visit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I survived another day


Guess what? I'm still here. A big black helicopter didn't come and steal me in the middle of the night.

I did go in and talk to the Marine recruiters again today. It is starting to look inevitable that I will be shipping sooner rather than later. Do you know what that means? Inside of a week I could be getting called "MAGGOT EATING SCUM OF A VIETNAMESE WHORE" or something special like that. That's the kind of something you have to prepare your mind for.

I hope I don't get a short little Drill Instructor with a Napolean Complex. Some guy that will pull a stool over in front of me, stand on it, and then proceed to scream and spit in my face about how tall I am.

D.I. - "WOOD, HOW TALL ARE YOU"
ME- "Sir, This recruit is six foot six, SIR"
D.I.- "SIX FOOT SIX? I DIDN'T KNOW THAT COULD STACK SHIT THAT HIGH!!"

Oh well, if nothing else, my torment will be comical.

Monday, October 17, 2005

On Deck Awaiting Orders


Hello one person that actually signs on and reads my blog. You are in for a special treat.

On Monday my Marine Corps recruiter asked me if I would be willing to ship to bootcamp early, actually, by earlier they meant the next day, Tuesday. That came as a total shock to me, I managed to get out of shipping tomorrow, but I am currently on standby, awaiting orders to ship to San Diego any day from now until my original ship date, 5 December 2005.

Its weird. I've been training and waiting for this for almost a year now. Physically, I'm ready to go. I'm in the best shape of my life. Right now, I would score a high first class on the physical fitness test. Mentally, I know I can handle it. Coach Hueber put the fear of God in me like no man can, and I know I'm mature enough to handle the stress.

But, for some reason, I need the extra couple of weeks until December. I had a lot of plans with family and friends in the month of November, and I'm not too excited about losing that time with them. After I leave for the Marines, time becomes hard to come by and I'm worried that there are going to be a lot of people that I will unfortunately lose contact with. I hope you aren't one of them single person that reads my blog.

I don't have a choice in the matter. The eastern half of the US fell majorily short of their shipping quotas and the western half has to pick up the slack. So, if Uncle Sam needs me to hop on a plane and ship a month and a half early, I have no say. It really actually doesn't bother me that much, if I'll fight for my country I can ship out a little early too I guess.

I'm still coming up to Madison this weekend, because the earliest they would make me ship is next Monday. I'm not calling and telling anyone this, its up to you to read my damn blog, also, its still just up in the air. However, if you do read this, make sure you get a hold of me this weekend, it could be the last hoorah.

Coming up to Madison

Hey everyone. Hopefully you are actually reading this blog on occasion. If you aren't, then you certainly aren't reading this particular one. Anyways, I'm just putting out a little notice that I'm coming up to Madison this weekend for Homecoming, and I think I'll be coming up early, as in Wednesday, to do a little partying. Give me a call, I haven't seen alot of you in a while so I'd like to meet up.

698-438-4551, use it or lose it.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

THE AXE IS COMING HOME!!!

Game Ball goes to my guyyyyyyyy Johnny F'n Stocco. The man from Minnetonka with a ginormous pair of Brass Balls.

WISCONSIN v. Minnesota


Lets Bring That Damn Axe Home!!!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Picture of the Day


This picture is courtesy of my sister's website, www.thelengers.com. This is me and my high school buddy Kevin Kaiser. Yes, for all you who have heard the legends, THE Kaiser. We just got done taking a shot of Wild Jerkey, which, for all you poorly educated folk out there, is Wild Turkey and Tabasco Sauce.

Oh yeah, that's also the mohawk I was rocking.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Freakonomics


Today I'm going to write about a book I recently read that I thought was awesome. The book is called Freakonomics. You should really visit www.freakonomics.com.

The book is written by Steven Leavitt, considered to be one of the most brilliant young economists in the world. In the book, Leavitt basically asks really weird questions about how the world works and then answers them using economic tools to sort through massive amounts of data. That might sound like the most boring book in the world, but he really is a great writer, and the book reads more like a "did you know" than a dictionary.

DID ABORTION CAUSE CRIME RATES TO FALL?

One of the most intriguing questions that he asks and answers is what happened to the rapidly escalating crime of the 1980's? Experts at the end of the 80's predicted that violent crime rates would continue to skyrocket to astronomical proportions as the next decade got underway. However, for some unknown reason, crime rates suddenly began dropping like a stone in the 90's. At first no one could explain, but then pundits and experts began saying that the falling crime rates were the result of tougher gun control laws, an aging population, and a booming economy.

Leavitt didn't really by into these reasons. He posed to himself a simple question- who commits violent crimes? There is no one answer obviously, but, statistics show that the majority of violent crimes are committed by poor, uneducated men in their late teens and early twenties. Leavitt then pondered why these people were no longer committing these crimes. What he found statistics to show was that the pool of men that fit this category was shrinking. But why? He proposed that it was because 20 years prior, Roe v. Wade was decided, and abortion was made legal. Hmmmm...

Data shows that the majority of abortions that have been performed in the 30 years since Roe have been performed on poor, uneducated women in urban environments. This is indisputable. Studies also statistically show that these women are more likely to have children that therefore grow up poor and uneducated. So what happened? Suddenly, children with the highest potential to grow up in an environment that statistically fosters more violent criminals were not being born. Hence, a decrease in the pool for violent criminals.

Leavitt statistically supported his hypothesis by analyzing crime data from the five states that legalized abortion prior to the nationwide ruling. These states had legalized abortion approximately 3 years earlier than Roe v. Wade. Interestingly, towards the end of the 80's, when the crime rates for the other 45 states were still escalating, the crime rates for these states was dramatically, and unexplainably, dropping.

Well, there you have, a little taste of Freakonomics. You have to believe me, the book really is interesting, and it really is an easy read. Let me know if you have any questions. And be sure to leave a comment after the post telling me to stop reading nerd books.

My Parent's "Garage" Company Got Featured in the Local Paper


TableGater Article

Click on the link above to see the article written about the little company that my parents started. In their free time they build custom tailgating tables, its pretty cool.

here's the link to their website link

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Punk Kids

Allright, so here goes my first ranting blog. Today I woke up early to go help the Marines from my recruiting station do some stuff at a local high school. We had this giant inflatable obstacle course that we were going to set up at Davenport North so that their ROTC and P.E. kids could use it, and at the same time try to drum up some interest in the USMC amongst the kids. I have two things that I want to complain about.

  1. Kids are absolutely pathetic athletes in high school right now. I'm talking about a simple freakin' pushup. Getting in a pushup position with your ass in the air and bobbing your head up and down does not constitute a pushup. Getting in terrible pushup position and humping the floor...not a pushup. Hands and knees? And you're a guy? Not a pushup. And I'm not talking about after we did fifty good ones, this is from the first rep on. My thoughts?? Pretty soon America is going to be overrun by another country and that country's men are going to steal our women and breed a hardier race. A race that can actually do pushups.
  2. Some little punk stole my cellphone. The worst part is he was in the Marine ROTC, and stole it from me, whom for all he knew was a Marine. I see it two ways. Either he stole it just to steal it and make life miserable for, in which case he's a pathetic klepto, or he didn't realize that if he stole it he wouldn't be able to use it, in which case he is simply a dumbass. Either way, we knew who it was and had security go and pull him out of his next class. Oh yeah, this kid couldn't do a single pushup if I had put a gun to his head.
I'm only 22 years old and I'm already starting in with the "kids these days". All I wanted to see was one manly pushup.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Trip


I've been thinking of some things that I could write about for my first real blog entry. Although I'm out of school, presently unemployed and living with my parents, my life has actually been kind of exciting. I decided that the coolest thing that I've done since leaving school (that's actually worth writing and reading about) was a trip I made to Louisiana with one of my best high school friends, Matt Hall.

Matt called me out of the blue one night about a week after the hurricane hit. While we were best friends in high school, we rarely called each other unless we knew we were both home, so for some reason I knew that he was calling me to do something about Katrina. Even though he was in the middle of class at Iowa State, he was determined to get down there and help, that's just the kind of guy he is. So I told that I would drive to Iowa State the next day and that we would go down together.

The next day, I packed up my car with a tent, sleeping bags, a chainsaw, some shovels, hammers and saws, along with some bottled water and one loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter. I picked him up and 17 hours later we were in Baton Rouge, LA. We had been in contact with our hometown's sister city, Thibideau, LA, and the councilmen that we talked to there said that we could not get into the city without registering with the Red Cross. So, there we were in Baton Rouge, walking around the Red Cross volunteer headquarters. A man approached us and asked if he could help us thinking we were refugees (didn't realize we looked that bad), we explained what we were doing and found out that he was actually from our hometown as well. He basically grandfathered us to the front of the registration line and left us there, wishing us luck. A woman approached us and gave us papers to begin filling out. For some reason, she suspected that we weren't supposed to be there (which we weren't) and started asking us about our confirmation numbers and Red Cross credentials. I immediately went into BS mode. Feeling overwhelmed, she dumped us off on a sweet old lady who was busy making ID badges. We somehow talked our way into getting our hands on Red Cross badges, and we ducked out the back door and we were on our way to Thibideau.

A couple hours later, exactly 24 after I had started driving, we arrived in Thibideau. It should be noted that when Thibideau was googled right after the storm, there were reports of total devastation and looting. So we were expecting a war zone. We got there and it looked like Vegas. We realized that the Red Cross was going to assign us to hand out water cups, so we kept driving that night, determined to find families that had been truly devastated by the hurricane.

Our random travels eventually landed us in Paradis, about 20 miles west of New Orleans. This place looked bad. We ended up stopping and helping the Hebert family pull two giant pecan trees off the roof of their barn. We spent alot of time that second day with the Hebert family talking about the hurricane and its effects on everyone in the area. It was weird because it made everyone resort to a somewhat primitive state. Every male Hebert was within 50 feet of a loaded handgun, and they each spoke of how they were willing to use it to protect their family and property. To you that might sound redneck, but you could really see the concern with these people. The looting was real. One of the Hebert's neighbors had seen Matt and I driving through the neighborhood earlier in the day, and when we were walking around with the Heberts later that evening we ran into him. His name was Peacock, and he showed us where he had written down my license plate number. He then told me how he had called the police about us, thinking we were looters, and how he had been prepared to shoot us on sight if he saw us again, then he showed us the guns. All three of them. Loaded.

The next day, we decided to get in close to New Orleans. We drove on the outskirts of the city, on the interstate above the Superdome. It was incredible, the stench was even worse. After that, we drove to the north shore of the lake, where the eye of the hurricane had passed and hovered for several hours. In a neighborhood right on the shore, we found an old man named Bruce. Bruce was standing on his lawn, looking at a giant pine tree that had crashed through the roof of his home, branches literally coming through the ceiling into the kitchen. We helped Bruce that day, spending about 9 hours pulling this tree from out of his roof. Near the end of the day, Bruce had to leave to go back to where he was staying, so that he could protect his 81 year old mother with his 357 magnum. He offered to let us sleep in the home that night, even though he had just met us.

The house was missing half its roof, there was no electricity, and the water had a sulfur content so high that it smelled like rotten eggs. It was better than the tent though. Matt and I had a romantic dinner of peanut butter sandwiches by candlelight, and then we went to bed around 8 pm. About an hour after Matt fell asleep, I heard branches snapping in the backyard. Knowing that looting had occurred in this neighborhood, my heart started racing about 200 beats per minute. Instantaneously, a thousand scenarios went through my head. I somehow immediately calculated the odds of it being a looter that was going to enter the home. The chance according to those scientific calculations? 15%. Which doesn't sound like much until you are sitting against a wall in someone else's house, armed only with a Maglite and a large knife. I didn't wake up Matt, because I just wasn't sure, and I figured he'd wake up if I was being brutally murdered anyway. I sat against that wall for about an hour, breathing heavily, amplying every sound that came in through the windows. Eventually I crawled back to my sleeping bag, but I didn't sleep for a single minute that night. (ps, I lived)

We continued along the shore into Slidell, which of all the cities in Louisiana, may have sustained the worst damage from the hurricane itself. Words can't even describe the things we saw in Slidell. The devastation was complete, and it didn't discriminate. EVERYTHING was destroyed. There were no light poles. There were no windows. Trees were not left standing. Boats were lying on their side, miles from the nearest body of water. We drove around in near silence, just kind of taking it in. Eventually, we saw an elderly man loading bottles of water into a wheelchair to take into his home. We asked him if he needed help. With a painful look, he tentatively asked if it was free. We told him of course, we were with the Red Cross. Relieved, he said that he needed more than he could get, his name was Carl. He told us about how he had tried to leave the house for cover, and unable to take his dog, had tied him up with lots of food and water. However, somehow the dog had gotten loose and jumped the fence by using a tree that had fallen from the other side of the road and crushed it. It then jumped on the hood of his car as he had driven away. Carl had been unable to keep the dog at home since then, and he told us that if we could do anything, he needed that tree removed and the fence fixed, so his dog could come home and be with him. Nobody ever needed more motivation to help someone. We sawed the tree, fixed his fence, pulled all his flooded carpets to the street, dismantled a few more trees and got on our way. The best thing about Carl? The whole time we were there, he simply sat on a lawnchair and listened to the Saints game. If his dog had been there, you would never have known that his home was sitting behind him, destroyed.

After Carl, Matt and I drove to Memphis to stay the night with my aunt and uncle. The next morning we woke up and came back to Iowa. The trip was one of the best experiences of my life.

If you have any questions about it, write a comment for on the blog.

Weekend in Milwaukee


Me and the infamous Jeff in downtown Milwaukee. It was Jeff's birthday on October 6th, so, being the good friend that I am, I drove up to see him and go out in downtown Milwaukee. Just like the old days, the theme of the evening went like this- "Get drunk and make bad decisions". Fortunately, we weren't successful in the second part of that theme. If some of you don't remember Jeff, or haven't seen him in a while, he was my roommate for my first three years of college. Of all ironies, he is currently a counselor for at risk teens at Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee. He is on the academy waiting list for both the Madison and Milwaukee Fire Departments. His career decision helped inspire me to join the Marine Corps.Posted by Picasa

My first Blog

Hello world,

This is my first blog. I'm not sure why I'm creating one, I really don't have anything in particular that I want to write about on a daily basis, but I thought that this would at least be a good way for me to keep in touch with family and friends (and maybe even a few random people) as I move on to the next chapter in my life. So here is the deal- I am going to post about things that are going on in my life here on this webpage, along with pictures and probably a few random rants about life, the world and the way I see it. I hope that you find me interesting enough that you come back often and keep in touch by replying to my blogs. Why don't you start by replying and telling me you were here, along with your contact info so that we can keep in better touch!

I'm going to publish this now, hopefully it works. If it doesn't, well then you aren't reading this and I am continuing to type for no reason. Later.