Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Old AF Sarge, From A to Z

Figured I'd lighten things up a bit today. I "stole" this concept/idea from blog-buddy Suldog who (in turn) stole it from Jenn Flynn-Shon. So here we go...

Age - 59. Seriously, I am actually 59 though my Mom will introduce me as her "oldest son who is turning 60 this year". Thanks Mom. It hasn't happened yet, can I please stay 59 for another few months? Please?

Bed Size - Queen. The Missus Herself and I once experienced the majesty of a king size bed in a Marriott Courtyard hotel. It had (drum roll please)...

The. Best. Mattress. Ever.

The sheer size though was intimidating, you needed a GPS to get from one side to the other. But OMG was it comfortable. And when we finally bought a house, we realized the biggest bedroom was too small to fit a king size bed. (Or maybe it was because I am too cheap to buy one. Oh well, it's one of those two, take your pick.)

Chore You Hate - Hhhhmmm, can't think of one in particular that would be worthy of my hatred. I'm not a big fan of any chores. Of course, they are, after all, chores. By definition, not fun. But if I had to pick one to actually "hate", it would be taking out the trash on a cold, snowy winter's morn when I'm running late for work. When I still need to clean the snow off the deck and the walkway When I still need to clean the snow off my car. And it's cold, and it's snowing, and it's windy. And it's...

Why yes, I think I can bring myself to actually hate that one.

Dogs - I love dogs, though I don't have a dog. I am (and believe I've mentioned this before) a "cat person". The Nuke has a dog, Bear is her name. She is my grand-dog and I love her dearly. But around Chez Sarge, we have cats. Two of 'em. Anya and Sasha. They are my boon companions. My best buds before that were Pat and Tiger (pronounced the way the Germans say it, kinda like "tee-grrrr", but it always came out sounding like "tigger"). They were brothers from the same litter.

Clockwise starting from top left:
Tiger, Pat, Sasha and Anya -
My Furry Babies
Pat and Tiger were born in Germany. Tiger died there. Anya and Sasha are New Englanders, as am I. Anya and Sasha are sisters from the same litter.

Essential Start To My Day - Having my cats jump onto the bed to wish me good morning. Yeah, I know, what they're really doing is harassing me into giving them breakfast. But on Saturdays, when the Missus lets me sleep late and she feeds the cats, they still come in to greet me when they hear me stir. I love them, they love me. And they show it, everyday.

After that, it's gotta be coffee. Used to be coffee and a smoke. I ditched the "smoke" part. And yes, I do miss it, thank you for asking. However, the other day, when the outside temp was just a hair above zero, I did not miss going out for my morning smoke. No, not at all. But some days I miss it.

Favorite Color - Blue. Of almost any shade. But this is the shade of blue I love best of all.

Gold or Silver - Yes, both. But not the way you'd think. More along these lines...

House or Apartment - Both have their advantages and disadvantages but I gotta go "house" here. I love my house. Though we haven't had it for that long (a little over 13 years) and it's just the Missus and I now (well, there's Anya and Sasha too, but they are very quiet) this house has echoed with the laughter of my children and their spouses. It has rung with the sound of my grandchildren's footsteps as they tried to outrun Grandpa who was on a "Search and Tickle" mission.

There's a lot to be said for a house, once it becomes a home. An apartment can, I understand, be something like that. In reality, it's not the rooms, or how many there are, it's the people who have been in those rooms. It's the memories contained in those rooms.

Instruments Played - Bass guitar, guitar, bagpipes. Seriously. My best instrument is the bass, though I have not played mine in a number of years. The guitar I sorta play, again though, not for many a year. Both instruments are played only to please myself and no one else. I never had any real ambitions in the musical realm.

At one point in my life I was determined to be a piper. I wasn't all that good at it, truth be told. I used to practice on the porch of my 2nd floor apartment on the occasional Friday evening. Our place was near the end of the street and the porch faced away from the bulk of the neighbors. Those familiar with the Great Highland Bagpipe (for such it is called) will realize that my actual location would not have mattered much. For 'tis a loud instrument as it must be to carry over the sound of battle.

One Friday I did NOT play and a couple of days afterwards our landlord mentioned that one of the neighbors had mentioned my attempts at the pipes. As I was about to apologize for the noise, my landlord told me that the neighbor had actually missed the sound of my pipes as the sun was going down. I really wish I had continued playing the pipes. I love that music most of all. (YMMV - Buck.)

Job Title - Right now, on paper, I am a Senior Software Engineer II. Big deal. Their are only two titles I've held in my life that really meant anything to me. The second most important to me was my last title in the Air Force, which was "Master Sergeant". I still hate being called "Mister".

The title I love most? "Dad". Of course as the grand-babies get older, I'm thinking that "Grandpa" ain't bad either.

Kids - Yes. I have three. Three of the best kids any man could ever ask for. When I look back at my life I cannot begin to understand why it is God has blessed me so. For He has. Three beautiful, intelligent and healthy children who have also given me three beautiful, intelligent and healthy grandchildren. With the likelihood of more someday. I am truly blessed.

Live - Actually I prefer Memorex. I've been to music concerts and while they were nice, the only one I truly enjoyed was the one my brother, the Musician, took me to for my fiftieth birthday. This was to see Jethro Tull out at Tanglewood in Western Massachusetts. It's a beautiful outdoor venue, nestled in the lovely forested hills of New England. We had incredible seats, like 20 yards from the stage.

I've only been to one, big time, live sporting event. Michigan versus UMass at the Big House. That was a once in a lifetime experience which I truly enjoyed.

But, in reality, I'd rather watch sports curled up in front of the TV with the Missus and the cats. Perhaps it's an age thing. After all, I'm "going to be 60" this year. (Geez Mom, give it a rest.)

Married - Yes. For 35 years to the most incredible person I have ever met. Bar none. And she ain't too hard on the eyes either. When people meet my wife for the first time, they look at me and wonder if my wife's eyesight is all it's cracked up to be. All I can say is that she saw something in me and it was enough for her. Again, I am truly blessed by God.

Never Again - Will I not listen to an idea my wife has. First of all, her ideas are usually quite good. Second of all, I've learned that not listening to one's wife is, shall we say, "not healthy". Or smart. Or fun in any way shape or form. Just sayin'...

Other Fun Fact - My children are the fifth generation in my family to serve the United States in the Armed Forces. My great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father's generations were Army, my two male cousins and myself were Air Force. My three kids are all Navy. (Does this mean my grandchildren will be Marines? Only time will tell.)

Pet Peeve - People who have no idea what is going on around them. I try to always maintain "situational awareness". I see people operating motor vehicles who have absolutely NO CLUE about what is going on around them. That is my biggest "pet peeve", though I do have others. My pet peeves are legion. Seriously, though I'm generally a very happy guy, lots of things piss me off. I just try not to dwell on them. Much.

Quote"I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
Captain Nathan Hale
What could anyone add to that?

Righty or Lefty - I am a righty. My Dad once suggested during my Little League career that I attempt to bat left-handed. We practiced it a little bit, it was awkward but I did okay.

The first time I stepped to the (ahem) wrong side of the plate in a game, two things happened. Firstly my coach went ballistic, wanting to know what was wrong with me. This he did in front of "God and everybody" to his subsequent everlasting shame and embarrassment. Secondly I got on base with an easy walk.

The pitcher was a kid who knew I was right-handed. My being on the "wrong side" of the plate freaked him out. So badly that not one of his pitches were anywhere near the plate. Hell, they weren't in the same zip code. So I got the easy walk.

What did I learn from the experience? One, my Dad was a very clever guy, not above trying a little something "outside the box", well before that term was coined. Two, my coach was a complete ass. Yeah, perhaps we should have revealed our little ploy BEFORE the game but to go off like that? At a Little League game? Back in those days, that just wasn't done. Those were simpler and, yes, better times.

Siblings - I have two brothers. Both younger. The three of us have our similarities but in reality we are three very different people. Two of us are conservative. One of us is (gasp) a liberal. But at the end of the day, we love each other like brothers should. Which is very much. Very much indeed.

Time You Wake Up - On a work day I get up (reluctantly) at 0600. I am most assuredly NOT a morning person. For a number of years in the Air Force I worked at night. It suited me well. But one thing I can safely say, I hate getting up early. And that's all I'll say about that.

University Attended - Freshman year I attended Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. I learned there that I was totally too immature to be in college. I also learned that Air Force Basic Training was absolutely easy compared to the Army ROTC training we were required to do at Norwich, back-in-the-day.

After a long break between my freshman and sophomore years (uh, that would be 1972 to 1983) I eventually got my bachelor's degree at Colorado State University, courtesy of the Air Force.

Some time later, also courtesy of the Air Force, I got my Master's degree from Bowie State University. Now Bowie State is in Maryland. I have never set foot on the campus of Bowie State. The degree program was offered overseas, through the University of Maryland System. As they called it.

Though I am, what one could call "highly educated", I don't put on airs about it. I've met folks who perform manual labor and didn't finish high school who are better men and women than myself. Education will only take a body so far.

Not to mention that all three of my children are WAY smarter than I.

Veggies You Dislike - Green beans. Or string beans if you will. No matter what you call them, I don't like them and avoid eating them. Note that I said "avoid". Sometimes my wife, for her own wifely reasons, will cook and serve green beans. And I better eat them. Or else. I learned THAT particular lesson the HARD way.

What Makes You Run Late - Staying up too late the night before. Or forgetting to misinform my wife of "what time we have to be there". If it's eight, I'll tell her seven-thirty, and we might get there at eight. I would've mentioned "being late" as a pet peeve, but people who don't pay attention were number one. This would be number two.

X-Rays - Many of these. Mostly dental x-rays as that's really the only way they can tell if something is about to go "south" with my teeth. I've had other x-rays for various reasons. I have never "knock on wood" (tapping self on head) broken a bone which required x-rays. I broke my little toe on my left foot once. Last summer actually. I would not recommend this, it hurt like ungodly bloody hell, I can tell you. It is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. I wish I could excise that particular memory from my brain.

It. Hurt. That. Bad.

But I didn't go to the doctor and have it x-rayed. As my doctor said, wouldn't be much they could do. Other than tape it to the next toe. Which I was fairly capable of doing myself. Without having to sit in a waiting room for an hour and without paying a co-pay.

Yum Food - Chocolate, preferably the dark kind. Milk chocolate is "okay". As in, "Do you have any dark chocolate?" No. "Okay, I'll take that."

I also have a rather deep, abiding passion for fried clams. Perhaps it's a New England thing. There are a number of things I can't eat anymore for various reasons. Fried clams are not yet on this list. If, someday, they are added to the "you can't eat these" list then you will hear me say, "God, please take me now."

Hmm, now that I think about it, I once said that about peanut M&Ms. Can't eat those anymore, as in "because you might die". I have not asked the Good Lord to take me home over that. So yeah, I could probably survive without fried clams. But that would suck.

Zoo Animal Favorite - Tigers. As I have mentioned, I am a cat kind of guy.

They have a majesty which, to me anyway, is breathtaking. There's also this, apropos of not much...

That's my granddaughter, Little Bit, "petting" a tiger at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. At her second birthday party. Obviously, as you can see by the reflection on the glass, she is not actually petting the tiger. Though she would, if she could. She is one tough and strong willed little girl.

I share that picture for two reasons. One, it's got a tiger in it. Tigers are my favorite zoo animal. And two, it's got my oldest granddaughter in it. Have I mentioned how much I love my grandchildren?

Just sayin'...

So that's the Old AF Sarge, from A to Z, as it were. This was a lot of fun to write. Hope you enjoyed it. Try it yourself, it's kinda therapeutic.


  1. The second most important to me was my last title in the Air Force, which was "Master Sergeant".

    I feel that way, as well, and I think it middling strange. We define ourselves in as many ways as there are individuals and I only came to this point ten years ago, after I retired from my civilian career and moved to a location with close proximity to the AF. I never gave the AF much thought during my civilian career ('85 - 2002), perhaps because I wasn't close to it in a physical sense (i.e., no AFB nearby). But now? Tis a different story.

    One other small vignette... we occasionally have Army MP types at Cannon who work the gates; I think they might be National Guard doing drill time. Those Army guys have a habit I TRULY like... a lot. After checking my ID card at the gate they... to a MAN... all say "thank you and have a nice day, Master Sergeant." The AF cops and the rent-a-cops? I'm lucky if I get a grunt from those guys. It's the small stuff that counts, sometimes.

    1. Odd you should mention that bit about the gate guards. I haven't been on an Air Force base since the day I retired. But one of the criteria for my post-military career job hunt was being near a base.

      As luck would have it, I got a job working on Naval systems, near a Naval base.

      9 times out of 10, the sailors on the gate will address me as "Master Sergeant". The little things DO count.

      In fact when the Nuke gave me her old car, it still had officer stickers on it. First time I went through the gate onto the base I jokingly told the PO2 that he didn't need to salute me, I was retired enlisted.

      Kid told me, "I wasn't saluting the sticker, Master Sergeant. Thank you for your service." We've got some great kids on active duty these days. Great kids.

    2. Sailors on the gate? I thought the Navy delegated that chore to the jarheads... :-)

    3. I'm not sure if NS Newport ever had Marines on the gates since I've been in little Rhody. (They have had rent-a-cops though. But not after 9-11 IIRC.)

      Matter of fact, both NS Norfolk and NAS Oceana had sailors on the gates last time I was there. Hhmm...

  2. love this post interesting stuff. I also am defined by many things. I think mom is one of the best titles ever and heaven knows I have enough others

    1. "Mom" - one of the best titles there is. I have a HUGE amount of respect for ladies with that title.

  3. Had a great time reading your take on things. Loved the fried clams bit. I'd feel exactly the same way. I think it's a New England thing. Bellies (not strips) goes without saying, I assume?

    1. It was fun writing it.

      Whole bellies for sure. Like you say, a New Englander knows these things (you are and you do).

  4. i read this with a smile the whole way through, thank you! couple of comments, You said lots of things p$#@ you off (I do identify with that) but that you are generally a happy person. I remember you as a happy guy growing up. I know I'm getting forgetful ( I did just turn 60 so I have a built in excuse) but I dont recall you getting into a fight, in fact you always had a good word for people. I was thinking that you had played a band instrument, once again my memory comes and goes.
    It's good to see that you have learned a few things in life, such as never turning your back on your wife's ideas. Ignoring an idea from the smarter half never ends up well.

    1. I've always been a pretty happy guy. I have to work hard to be truly grumpy. Or drive on the highway. That usually will get me pretty worked up! So no, you're memory is just fine. The sixty thing, I wished you a Happy (belated) Birthday in another comment, but I'll do so here as well. In case one of us forgets. Heh.

      Better half, smarter half. You got that right.

      Best thing I ever learned though was how to say "Yes, Dear", and make it sound convincing. No, it still doesn't work. Who am I kidding?


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)