Monday, August 24, 2009

First Weeks Down!!!

Hello again! After such a long time, too. I've been back at West Point for two weeks and I'm still loving it. It's been hectic, fun, crazy, exhausting, enjoyable, rough, and everything in between, but I must feels GOOD to be back!!
So, I got here on August 9th for the start of reorganization week. That night I put my room together and enjoyed seeing my friends after the summer. I am rooming with my good buddy Dan Baker (I roomed with him first semester of plebe year, as well. We were supposed to have another guy in with us, but he decided to bail at 0100 the night before I got there because another one of our freinds needed a roommate.) So, we got set up Sunday night and prepared to receive our plebes on Monday. Now that I am no longer a plebe, I have been promoted to a team leader. Now, it is my classes and my job to act as the first line supervision, disciple, correction, etc. for the plebes. So I can't just worry about myself this year, but I also need to manage my plebe as well. (That is what this institution is all about anyway....leadership)
I met my plebe Monday afternoon after he got back from a 13.6 mile ruck march after they had been in the field for 4 or 5 days. They SMELLED horribly, incredibly bad!!! It was almost unbearable to stand next to them. Even the upper classmen told us that we didn't smell as bad as they did. Anyway, I met my plebe...New Cadet Christopher Archer. Basically the whole week consisted of me helping him getting set up and ready for the new year. I helped it do what he needed to do and gave him some hints and tips along the way. When I wasn't helping him I was chilling with my buddies or playing video games on a local network with all my friends. I had a whole week with nothing to do but help my plebe and chill with friends! Quite amazing, if I do say so myself.
Classes started on the 17th. Ugh... My schedule isn't too bad. On Day 1s I have Russian, break, Physics, Calculus, lunch....Scuba, and then History. Day 2s I have Russian, Economics, Intro to Computing, Calculus, lunch, and then off... I am absolutely loving Russian so far. I have finally learned the entire alphabet, and I can read most words. We've even started speaking a little. It's sweet. Physics is okay...I liked it in highschool, but we'll see how it goes here. Calculus is alrite, as well. My instructor is awesome, so its a good time. Economics is a really interesting class. I like it because I can see the direct application on my everyday life. My instructor really knows her stuff as well, and she makes it very interesting. History of the US and IT105 are both plebe classes that I have as I continue to catch up. US History is easy (since I've taken it a few times now), but it is still really interesting. I saved the best for last...SCUBA!!!! This is definitely, by far, the most amazing class ever! (Boxing is a close second, though.) The first day I had class we had about 15 minutes of instruction, and then we jumped in with mask, snorkel, and fins. (Oh yeah, we're training in a pool). So, this week I learned how to clear the mask snorkel, we put on the BC (Buoyancy Compensator), and weight belt. This week we should be putting on the tanks. This class won't open water certify me, but it will eliminate about half the origianl certification, so it will be a whole lot easier and cheaper to get my open water cert. I can't wait to go back to my next class. It makes the whole week worth it! I've already begun looking for some scuba gear so I can get my own. We'll see how that turns out...
This weekend I went to my Bible Study leader's house for some food, fun, and games. I had a great time eating pizza, drinking soda, playing some Halo. I was talking to him about our small groups on Tuesday nights, and he told me that he is helping out someone else this year, so I have to find a new place to go. I have a few options, so I'm not worried. Also, I'll still be meeting with him once a week and going to his Bible study. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about a church service. We'll see how it goes.
After much deliberation...I think I might have figured out what I want to major in. One of my very good friends put it very well when I told them "I finally know what I want to major in!" Their reply..."what is it this week?" That is so true of me, too. I always change my mind, but for this week, I desire to pursue a Kinesiology major with a med track. I have always loved Kinesiology and it is what I originally looked at when I began looking at colleges with my dad in 9th grade. I figured I would take the med track to keep my options open, and hopefully I'd go to med school about 3 to 5 years after I graduate (I would like to be in combat arms first). I'm talking to an instructor in the department this week, so we'll see how it goes. Please pray for me, because this major is fairly new and they only select very few people...and this is one of the only things I have found that I like right now.
Well, I'm about to head to bed right now. I have a uniform inspection in the morning as well as an equipment inspection. Tomorrow will be a long day. Please continue to pray that I will guard my heart and mind and body, and that I'd seek God's wisdom for my future. Now time to hop in the shower....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What to do...?

As I was sitting around my house trying to figure out what to do, I was reminded of something that I have not touched in quite a blog! So, now I am sitting here about ready to type and let you know some things that I have been up to with training and with my first few days of vacation!
Buckner, CFT (Cadet Field Training), Bucknam, or whatever you want to call it, was awesome! I just finished one month of some amazing training at West Point. I basically was introduced to all the combat branches of the army and got some time to take a look at what each one is like. Not only was the training great, I met some amazing people in my class and had great times with old friends as well.
We started out training with Day/Night Land Navigation. Basically we "wander" around the woods looking for some points, both in bright light and pitch black. I have to admit, stumbling around the woods in the dark is not the 'funnest' thing in the world, but it is an adventure. After that I had combat engineers and field artillery days. At combat engineers we learned different explosives to breach doors, identifies both UXOs and IEDs, and learned about EOD teams. At field artillery we learned to call for fire, shot mortars, and fired 105s out of Howitzers. It was pretty legit. I had a close call around the mortars, though. As we reached the crest of the hill, an 81mm mortar fired short and we had to book it. We were less than 25m from a mortar that produces a 60m kill radius. Thankfully it did not detonate, but it was quite an interesting experience. After that we had ITP or Introduction to Patrolling - a brief look at Infantry tactics. We conducted an ambush and react to fire. We also had two days of marksmanship with the M4 rifle and M68 red dot sight (which was absolutely amazing). This included a night fire with some amazing night vision goggles (NVGs). During this whole time, except for marksmanship, it poured! We were constantly cold and wet and it did not make for the 'best summer of our lives' as Buckner has been labeled.
However, after marksmanship, the last two weeks was quite sweet. We had lots of down time, after a very hectic (no rest) two weeks. We had a dry and water obstacle course, CQC (close quarter combatives), and mounted training at Ft Knox, Kentucky. At the water obstacle course, we had to walk across an I beam 20ft above the water and then go down a zip-line and drop into the water. It was awesome! Ft Know was legit as well. I got to ride around in some tanks and fire some really big guns! I got to shoot a 25mm canon, an 80mm round from an M1A2 Abrams tank, a .50cal machine gun, the Mark14 automatic grenade launcher, and a 240. That was fun. I also played 'laser tag' in tanks to get an actual feel for what combat in tanks is like. I'll just say it was like nothing I had ever done before. I loved it.
The last night at Buckner we had a dance and our class broke the dance floor. It was awesome! That is one thing that we will always be remembered for - the floor collapsing from underneath us at our Illumination! The next morning we ran the six miles back to West Point and then I left for home.
Since I've been home, I have just been chilling with the family. My buddy got dropped from Air Assault school up at West Point so I went and got him so we could hang out for a few days before he started his next detail. We just chilled, went fishing, went out for a bit, it was cool. When we went fishing, we fished for a while, but then just racked out in our canoe. It was such a nice day and it did not take long for us to pass out, and next thing I know we hit the shore on the opposite side of the lake. I took him back Sunday and then went mini golfing with some friends and hung out. Today, I've been home all day hanging out with my sister.
Tomorrow I'm doing something with the family, I just don't know what yet. We were going to go to the beach, but that's a no go, and we might go to Ricket's Glen. That'd be pretty sweet.
Next week I'm hopefully going to Jersey shore with a few of my friends. I can't wait. We have been planning this for quite a few months, well, just planning on going really. I can't wait to just go and chillax for a few days near the ocean with some of my buds.
I went to my home church this past Sunday...that was really nice, especially after not being in church for a month during training. I've really been trying to stay consistent with quite time, but I haven't been doing too hot. It seems that when I have the time to do it, those are the times it never gets done, but when I'm the busiest that is when I can find time for it. If anyone ever figures that out, will you please let me know. I really want to use this time at home to spiritually prepare myself for another year at West Point. As I look back on this past year, I can definitely see how I was broken down and tried, and I know that this year won't be any easier. Those of you who want to know how to pray for me, please continue to pray that I keep myself spiritually, mentally, and physically pure and to guard my heart. That is definitely the biggest thing.
Well, I guess it is about time I get going. I will write soon and thank you all for your prayers! Peace out...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Good Weekend...

After getting over a life-threatening experience, I am finally back! :) This past weekend, I went home to spend some time with my mom on her anniversary, hang out with my broha and sis, and chill with friends. It was an absolutely amazing weekend, and I didn't want to come back!

My mom traveled up on Friday to come and get me after I finished class. It was glorious! I only told my mom about coming home, so my brother and sister had no idea where they were going for a see, my family does this thing called "pajama rides". Basically, my parents would just call out "PAJAMA RIDE!!" any random night we were just chilling at home. We would normally just leave in whatever we were wearing (most often pajamas or something of that nature). So, that is what my mom did for Isaac and Allie this time. So, she came to pick me up and we went home. It was absolutely great seeing them. I hadn't seen them for almost two months, so it was really nice. We went home and just chilled out for a while.

That night was my high school's graduation, so I went to go see some of my friends graduate. It was weird to watch it this time. I had always seen graduation as a student, and this was my first time watching it as a graduate. My buddy and I were discussing it in the back...we commented on how it been a year already since we were doing the same exact thing. The year went by so incredibly fast!! The speaker mentioned that one could never go back (referring to high school), and I must say that does not upset me in the least! I am glad I am finally finished with that and, now, my first year of "college". It was really awesome to see those of my friends who were graduating. After graduation was finished, I was able to talk to MANY people, and then I went with Steve to go hang out. When we went to go get changed at his house, Nick showed up, so we all went to one of the graduate's parties for a while. The food was good, and I definitely got my fill. We hit up Wally World because Steve's car was close to overheating and needed some oil. Then we played some pool to about 0200. It was great to just chill with them again for a while.

Saturday, I woke up around 0700 (after getting home at 0300). I went downstairs, grabbed a cup of coffee and visited with my mom. While talking, we decided that then was a perfect time to go pick up the grill that we needed. I went to wake up my sister so she could crawl into bed with Lil' Man, and we were off to Home Depot. My mom already had the grill picked out, so we just had to go snag it. We stopped, got some cappachino, bagels, and then picked up the grill. We were going to get an assembled one, but after trying for a while, we couldn't fit it into the van, so we had to get the boxed one (which I later put together). When we got home, we got ready to do what I came home to do - go canoeing for my mom's anniversary! It was a glorious day for it as well...We strapped on the canoe and traveled to White Oak pond (where a lot of people were already out fishing), and we got started. We decided to be extra adventurous this particular day. Instead of just me, my sister, broha, and mom, we added an extra 90 lbs. - my dog, Mac. That was quite an adventure. He was still most of the time, but he loved the lily pads and butterflies - enough to try to jump out of the canoe and tip us! Thankfully, he did not succeed thanks to my mom's iron grip. My sister paddled for her second time ever, and I must say she did an amazing job, especially since I just laid back and worked on my tan while I was supposed to be steering. It was quite a nice relaxing time, however. My sister and I did pay for our stubbornness, though, we refused to put on sunscreen and we are now paying for it dearly (especially when I started tanning!). We pulled the canoe out, and went back home where some good friends of ours were over helping us around the house. I finished putting the grill together and we chilled with them, played with the dogs, and hung out with Isaac. After our friends left, I threw some steak on our new grill (very, very nice grill), and we had a great dinner. That night, my sister and I headed out after dinner to hit up Sarah's graduation party. [Her brother, Rod, graduated with me last year.] That was awesome! I just talked to a bunch of people I didn't get to talk to on Friday night, and just chilled. Later, I went swimming in the pool. I tried to do some tricks like Steve, but utterly failed with two horrendous back flops on my freshly acquired sunburn. I must say...that hurt!! We also threw Steve's little brother (who weighs 60lbs) a lot. That guy flew!! It was pretty sweet. Steve, Rod, and I finished off our excursion in the pool by causing our front torsos to turn a deep red...yup, you guessed it -- BELLY FLOP!!! We nailed about four or five each, and, well, I'll just say that by the end, it hurt and i was as red on my stomach and the sunburn on my back! After getting dried off, Rod got a fire going and we just say around there for quite a while and chilled and talked. It was nice, I hadn't done that in a long time, and I got to talk to Rod about camping, because he's been able to go a lot, and I'm trying to do some when I come home, so I gleaned a lot of information from him. I left there around 2330, and headed home to see my mom just finishing up making fried chicken for the next day.

On Sunday, the Swingles followed up my family to go back to West Point early that morning. They got to see the museum, got a tour, and we ate down by the river. It was a blast. Good food, good friends, and good times. Bryan and I threw the football around, the girls played on train tracks. [I tried to get them to take a picture of the front of the train, but no one wanted to...I don't know why] I went to show them Trophy Point (if you come and visit me, you'll know what I'm talking about...) and there was some ceremony there, so while I'm trying to show them, some old ships went by and I ended up standing at attention and saluting for almost five minutes. That [I had to go back, though, at 1830, and I started my last week of STAP.

This morning I had my last recitation, and I did Mark Antony's Funeral Speech from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. I got an A, so I was happy. Tonite, I have to write a report after I'm done with this...and since it is already 2200, I suppose I should finish this up and get started on that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Almost over, baby!

Yo, yo, yo! I haven't written this early in quite a while. Y'all are getting a treat! :)
Anyway, STAP is going fine. It is incredibly easy...All I do is read books (which I already like to do) and write on it. Lately we've been going through poetry, though, and I don't like that at all. I just don't get why all poems have to be analyzed and have to have some "deep and hidden" meaning! Why can't I just enjoy them for what they say!?! Whatever, I'll keep analyzing and explicating...if I have to... STAP is done in 8 days! I can't wait. I'll go home for about 5 days and then head off to CFT (Cadet Field Training) for four weeks. I am so ready for that. We get M4s this year, plus we have all new equipment. This is gonna be amazing (especially since that is the main reason I came to West Point - to be in the military).
I've been working out A LOT lately...about 3 hours a day... I'm trying to get ready for Buckner (CFT). I've changed to more strength training, not so much on power (meaning lots more reps with lower weight). I've been trying to trim down and get the beach body (especially since I plan on going to the beach on the 13th with a bunch of friends). The working out part isn't the problem, its more of the eating, especially since I just put away 16 oreos in about 5 minutes...a total weakness. Oh well, my method of working out is...the more I eat, the more I work out. Not eating less. Anyway, I'm loving all the time to lift, but I'm gonna have to find some alternative come academic year...Probably CrossFit, an extremely high intensity, short workout...
This past Sunday I got up and listened to Mark Driscoll online. He was talking on Proverbs and the fear of God. I've really been struggling with my quite time lately, but after this message, I know what I want to do. I plan on starting a study of Proverbs, one that Mark Driscoll prescribed. Basically, it entails making categories and placing every verse that applies to one of those categories in it. He said that Proverbs is all practical advice, so if I have a quick reference, I can look up some practical advice to give either myself or someone else about whatever subject area they need. I thought it was a pretty sweet idea...
I really enjoy his teaching...a lot more than any church hear on post. That is when I got a brilliant idea, rather I believe that God was putting this idea into my head. I'm starting to pray about (and I ask if you would as well) starting a church here. When do I have time for this? I don't, but I'm thinking of making it quite simple. I just want to get a group of guys (maybe girls, but probably not) together (with food, or course) and listen to Mark Driscoll (probably, but maybe a few other pastors), and then spend some time discussing what he talks about. We could also go over what we're learning in our quiet time, have a prayer time, etc. Basically make it a really informal small group, kinda like the way the New Testament churches worked, (with the exception of internet and pizza). I'm really set on doing this for a few reasons. It seems as though every time I go to one of the chruches here, all I do, as well as everyone else, is go, sit, listen, and leave. There's no fellowship with other Christians (which I thought that is what Church was about), there's no challenging other than the preacher's message (if it actually is this week)...I think it'd be awesome to get a group of guys, definitely not closed, but incredibly open, but also entirely direct in the presentation of Truth. Holding eachother totally Accountable, challenging eachother, praying, and getting closer. I don't see that happening in any church here. It kinda happens at our Bible study, and the only place it really happens is at our small group on Tuesdays which consists of me and one other guy. Plus, I think I can get a few more guys to come to this than to get some to put on a uniform and trek to one of the churches on post...a totally informal but incredibly demanding (basically sacrificing your life) time. If anybody has any thoughts on this, don't hesitate to let me know. I'm open to any ideas or criticisms...Most of all, please pray for this...I believe this will really help me in my spiritual growth as well. God has definitely given me a heart for planting churches (hopefully later in life), and this may be my "sorta" attempt at it where I am right now...
I almost died on Tuesday. I love rock climbing, and I plan on trying out for the team next year. My buddies and I decided to go bouldering for a while. For those who don't know what this is, you basically climb small heights with no ropes or anything holding you in. We went to the Point, some cliffs by the Hudson on a trail. My one friend and I nailed a few different routes, none too hard, but definitely a challenge. We were only climbing about 20 -25 ft high. We started looking for some different courses, and we walked on this ledge with the cliff on one side and a very steep, rocky hill on the other. I found this amazing route. I got right to it. I looked up and saw the top only about 15 ft above the ledge, so it wouldn't be a problem, but I had to make it to the top, because if I had to drop down after about 5 feet, I probably would miss the ledge and go tumbling down the hill. After a while of slowly inching my way up the rock face, I made it to 15 ft, the top, or so I thought. As I looked over the lip, I realized that wasn't the end, there were about 10-15 more feet (it was slightly slanted inward, which is why i couldn't see it, and why it made it very difficult to get over the lip...). I had no choice to press forward, but from the start I saw that there were not that many holds. I made it over the lip, and I was about 5 feet from the top (20-25 ft from the ledge). My right foot was solid, my left foot was stable at the time, but I had absolutely NO handholds. I could not move forward! There was one hold in the rock six inches out of reach, but if I attempted to leap for it, I would lose my footing and fall, so I immediately put that option out of my mind. I started to freak out a little bit, my heart was racing, and my two friends were standing below me trying to help me (how, I don't know) the best they could. One of my friends took a trail to the top, to see if he could guide me from there...but it was all to no avail. I tried to move my left foot up, but I failed and I then had all of my weight on my right toes and a little lip that my finger tips barely fit onto. I then really started getting scared. I yelled at my friend on the bottom to run to to the top to help me out...I didn't know how, but he did. All I could think was, "Man, if I fall, its gonna be a long way down, its gonna hurt, and I'm gonna get seriously injured..." If I fell, I would have grinded down the entire rock wall with my shirtless body, maybe hit the ledge, and then continue down the extremely steep, rocky hill. I was not looking forward to that... Right as I told my second friend to run to the top, I attempted to make another move, and I lost my solid right foot and I couldn't find it again (it was just under the lip, and I couldn't see). At this point, All 180 pounds of me (yes, I weight that much) was hanging from my fingertips, but not for long. I now yelled at my friend to book it up that trail... Thankfully, the first dude up grabbed a huge stick on the trail for some wierd reason. When they were both up there, they lowered the stick down to me (almost knocked my hands off the hold, too). I took a breath, and, praying that the stick would not break, I let go of the ledge and grabbed the stick. It didn't break, thankfully, and I shimmied up as quick as I could. My friends grabbed me and I collapsed on top terrified. I got kinda upset because I didn't finish it, but I was glad to be on top... I can definitely say that was the scariest moment of my life to this date (the day my sister was born is a close second). My friends most definitely saved me from serious injury (if not my life). But, my buddy had the audacity to say, hey, i know some more rocks we can climb. I told him there was no way I was climbing any more today... Lesson learned...use a rope instead of a stick, its lighter and it won't break as easy...
Well, I've just got my two classes tomorrow morning and then I'm headed off to THE WEEKEND!!! I'm gonna head to bed now...Peace.

Monday, May 25, 2009

It has again been a very long time... I have been keeping busy with year end project, TEE (term end exam) week, graduation week, and I am now involved in my second week of STAP (summer school). So, i finished the year decently. I got all my assignments finished on time, smoked all my TEEs, and received decent grades all around. I am now taking English 102 for the next 3 weeks to attempt to catch up. After I get this class finished, I will have only four more classes to get complete. So far, my academic schedule for next year contains all of these courses. It's really not possible, so we'll see what may come of that. Right now, however, I am enjoying STAP. I have two 55 minute class sessions a day. One at 0815, the second at 1045. After only 3 days of class, we had our first essay due, and today we had a recitation. I recited the second half of Owen Wilfred's Dulce et Decorum Est. I really enjoyed doing it, and I thought I did decently. I already chose my next recitation to be "Death be not Proud." I'm looking forward to starting that one.

So, who really cares about summer school? Let's talk about the past few weeks...

TEE week is awesome, but at the same time, it stinks! I only have one test a day (starting on Saturday, skipping Sunday, and resuming on Monday), but the tests are 3 and a half hours long. For most of them, I did use almost all of the alotted time. It was insane. I really didn't think any of them were that bad, however. For my American Politics class, I just wrote for 3 hours straight, and I think I only stopped once to go to the restroom. After I finished my exam, I would go back to the room and just chillax for a few hours and study later on that night. It was great though, nothing was really going on, so I just slept, watched movies, and relaxed. My last TEE was on Thursday, and after I was done with that, I went to one of my friend's house in Pittsburgh. There were five of us, total, that went.

Pittsburgh was insanely awesome!! We got there on Thursday night after a seven hour drive...We stopped by Matt's house to drop off our stuff, and then went to his grandmother's for dinner (spaghetti, meatballs, sausage....all the good stuff). We then drove back to his house to get ready for a midnight hike (starting at 2200). We got into dark clothes to avoid being seen by quad riders and set out on our trail back to his grandmother's. Even though it was two miles by road back, we ended up wandering around in the woods for about 4 hours! We didn't get lost, we just enjoyed our time (Oh yeah....Matt's cousin joined us). Anyway, we wandered for a while, took about a 45 minute rest to just chill and talk, and then continued on our way. At one point we tried to go through this thicket, emphasis on the thick (with TONS of thorns too). Yeah, that didn't happen. We arrived at his grandmother's around 0200, and started an amazing game of RISK. Saunders (another one of my buddies) and I just chilled in two corners of the board while everyone else spread themselves thin...I then took over half the board, while he took the other half on his turn. We ended up calling a truce, because we really did not feel like battling it out. This game ended around 0530. I called my mom to wish her a happy birthday, and then went to bed until 1300 (this is friday now, mind you). We woke up, hiked back the fast way to Matt's house, and had an airsoft war in his backyard. After a few minutes of that, we went to take our first showers for we were rather nasty from the midnight hike. We decided to start another game of risk for a little bit, and then headed to the city. It was absolutely amazing! We walked around looking at the sights. Matt took us to the Point, where the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monogahela all meet. It was absolutely amazing. We all chilled there with our feet hanging over the water. It was absolutely amazing. We then decided to walk back to the car and drove to an incredible "hole-in-the-wall" restaraunt called Premanti's. We all ordered the same sandwhich (at the suggestion of Matt). Basically, they took a whole meal and shoved it inbetween two slices of bread - steak, fried, coleslaw... It was fantabulous. We then proceeded to wander the city a little more, we even witnessed an elderly man flipping over his handlebars on the street in front of a Jeep. We called 911, but he told us he didn't want an ambulance. It was still a rather terrifying occurance. (Whoops, i just went and played some ultimate frisbee with some friends and ran two miles, so I gotta remember where I was...). Matt then took all of us to the top of this mountain overlooking Pitt and we saw an amazing view of the nightline of Pitt. It was beautiful. Saturday we slept till about 1300 again after a late night of movies and then went to a them park called Kennywood. Sunday, we drove back to West Point to get ready for Grad Week. It was one of the most awesome weekends ever!!

Graduation Week, while everyone else was drilling and getting ready for the parade, I was starting my STAP classes. It was a really chill week, with just classes and closing out our rooms. Friday morning, the plebe class was recognized!! We no longer had to cup our hands, we no longer had to be silent outside our rooms, we no longer had to greet upperclassmen, we no longer had to use rank. I now can call any cadet by their first name and just be chill. I cannot tell you how great a feeling it is. Try to go through a day barely talking to anyone even though you see SOO many people, especially when some of them are you best friends, and then to have that reestablished!!! Oh, the sweetness of it. Saturday morning I was promoted, and I finally get to wear some rank - a yellow shield and a U.S. pin until after Buckner when I get a bar. It's great. Later that morning, graduation ensued. It was amazing, especially when they through up their hats. It gave me something to shoot for and more reason to do what I'm doing. I got to see the McLaughlin's since they came up to see one of their cousins graduate (whom I know). I went to her commissioning ceremony. It was really cool. Later that day, I moved in to my new barracks for STAP, and I've just been chilling in them for the past couple of days because all my buddies have gone their separate ways. Some have gone to air assault, others on leave, and Baker is going on a climbing trip! I'm quite jealous.

Oh yeah, since I no longer have PIAD last block, I talked to an officer yesterday, and I am trying to maybe get something third block so that I can knock out another graduation requirement. i'd like to get Combatives I and II certification. That'd be sick, but I really don't have a choice.

I'm gonna head to dinner really quick...i'll finish when I come back...

Now that I'm off Sprint, I've just been lifting and running on my own. I would love to get big, but I have decided to redefine the workout program to focus on more cardio and endurance because that is what the Army is all about. Granted, every time I walk into Arvin to lift, I rarely am able to accomplish this task because I end up lifting the way I normally did because I love it so much. As long as I'm running, though, I'll be good (I hope).

Bible Study, OCF small group, my weekly meetings with CPT Warren and JJ are all done now. I am now required to show my discipline by having quiet time every day, praying and keeping my focus on God. Those of you who wish to pray for me, this is the major area that I am desperate for prayer. I want and need to be consistently in God's Word daily, praying, memorizing scripture, etc. What I have learned lately, though, is something that CPT Warren and I talked about. We were talking about our four spheres of influence - friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. When discussing friendships, he used the temple to illustrate the different levels you allow a friend in to your life, all the way to the Holy of Holies, which would be parallel to your innermost thoughts and feelings of your heart. Each level requries something different. The illustration caused me to look at many of my friendships and see where they stood, which ones were good where they were, and what other ones I might need to change.

For the rest of the summer... STAP finishes on the 12th, and I plan to go home until 1700 on the 17th when I am supposed to report back for FOB (Forward Operating Base) Buckner for four weeks of military training. This will include a preview of each branch of the military. I can't wait!!! It's gonna be awesome. I love the training. And, as I said before...I am trying to get something for third block if at all possible. We'll see about that. I really want to come home, but if I can get something...i don't know...

Tonight I have some homework to do, but not too much. I just have reading. So, I'm probably going to get going. If you look below, I have included some pics from Pitt and recent stuff...I'll try to write again soon. Peace out...

These guys are all in my academic company, and they are some of my closest friends! From left to right - Jacob Standley, Matt Saunders, me, Matt Linarelli, Dan Baker.

Me overlooking Pittsburgh at one in the morning...

Pittsburgh at night.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's been a while...

WOW!! It has been exactly one month since I last blogged...Does that tell you anything about how I've been? Yeah, I've been pretty busy, but I also just never took the time to sit down and write. I definitely had the time, just never used it for this. I'll try to be better about this.
So, anyway, I just went through probably the most hectic month of my life to date. I had four straight weeks of an academic nightmare. I had project after project due, paper after paper, and test after test. Thankfully, I'm done with my biggest project of the year - my American Politics paper. I wrote on the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It was quite interesting, but the paper is also worth about a quarter of my grade for that course. Thankfully, I now only have two projects left, Chemistry Capstone Lab and a Psychology project (to analyze my goals and assess them according to the theories I have learned). Last is TEEs, Term End Exams, which start on Saturday, May 9. There is one everyday (excluding Sunday) until the next Thursday. It will be a very interesting experience, but I'm looking forward to finishing my semester, and my a plebe!!! May 23rd will be an absolutely glorious day!
Phsically, Sprint was going very well. I moved to Offensive line and was really enjoying it, and then, two weeks ago on Friday...I got cut! I have no idea why, but it happened. Oh well, I look at it positively. I really wasn't sure whether or not I still wanted to play next year, so my decision was made for me. Now, I have LOTS of time to myself, and I'm lifting and running like crazy. My goal is to try out for the Climbing/Mountaineering team next year (my roommate from last semester is on it). I'm also trying to change my workout plan. I want to focus more on getting into "Army" shape - running and endurance. I still want to get jacked, but I don't think it's really in my best interest, especially if I wanna join the climbing team (I can't be haulin' all that muscle up the cliff :) ). Anyway, I also want to run in the Marine Corps Marathon next year, so I need to train for that.
I'm also taking boxing right now. I had my first of three end of the course bouts on Tuesday. They consist of 2 one minute rounds. You can forget form and all that - it becomes an all-out brawl, and it is great! I got a 91 (A-) on my bout, which is extremely good for that class. I was pretty pumped. Plus, I got to unleash fury on a fellow classmate. It is an awesome feeling to land a fist to face (Please, no body get scared, if you have ever boxed, you know exactly what I'm talking about.) I have another bout on Friday, and then my last one next Thursday. This is by far the best class here! I love it.
Spritually. I'm doing better in this area. My daily readings and quiet time have gone much better, but I'm still trying to incorporate it into every area of my life, and not "compartamentalize" my faith. That is one of the hardest things here. I usually just try to survive each day and make it through each thing, but I can't forget to apply what I read everyday to my life. Lately, though, I've been meeting with my small group leader once a week, going to Bible study on Sunday's, going to small group on Tuesdays, and meeting with a cow (junior) in my company once a week to disscuss a book on prayer we're reading.
Well, I have no classes tomorrow. It's Project Day - all the cows and firsties present their year end projects. I don't have to go to any of them, so its pretty much a free day. I need to use it, though, to finish up the Psychology project. I'll try to write again soon, and include some more stories about what I've been up to, but this is just a quick note for tonite. Peace...out.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm back

I just finished my first week back after an amazing Spring Break. I had a lot to do this week, and I got a lot done. It was a very successful week.
I had a lot of tests/quizzes/stuff to get ready for and take this week. I did really well on everything, I think. All my buddies and I were worried about our Math WPR, but it actually turned out to be really easy (thankfully). Right now, Zack (my roommate) is studying with another guy for a huge history WPR they have tomorrow. Thankfully, I don't have it. I do have many huge papers and projects coming up near the end of April. I have to start those quite early, like now, so it won't be as bad later on. It should be alright, though. I also met with the academic office to discuss my schedule over the next three years/six semesters. It actually isn't as bad as I thought. I'll probably take STAP next summer, and maybe the summer after to lighten my load, but I should be fine. I just have to be careful, because once I add my classes for my major, they will run over into a seventh semester. It's all very confusing, but I am a bit more relieved than I was before.
Football practice this week was the same as past weeks. Tomorrow, we start going outside; I'm really looking forward to that. I lifted with Zack on Saturday after Super Saturday 8 Hour Training (I'll explain in detail later). I took some of his Nitric Oxide, which basically gets you ready for a lift. I don't know if its a psychological thing or not, but I felt good about 15 minutes after I took that stuff. It's really hard to get a good lift in here because you are always tired, but this substance is supposed to increase your energy levels to exercise. Personally, I think it worked, I wasn't able to lift 500lbs, but even after an hour of lifting, I felt good. That energy (which is lacking here) is key to getting a good workout in, so I decided to pick up some of my own. I can't wait for it to come.
So...Super Saturday 8 Hour Training...basically we got bussed out to FOB (Forward Operating Base) Buckner and went around a really long loop with four different stations. I got designated to carry a rucksack (35 lbs), but it wasn't bad; we passed it around after each station. So, we half jogged, half walked the first leg, and did communications (radio) training. We walked the next two legs to the weapons and land navigation training, and we finished with medical training. For the final leg, back to the beginning, the BTO (Brigade Tactical Officer) ran with us back to the beginning. That was cool that he ran with us. I thought the training was interesting, though. The whole day was more of a ruck march/run rather than training, but whatever. After we had a BBQ with the company for lunch, and we had a Chicken and Beer (rootbeer for me) Party that night. That was fun. And I fit in lifting in there somewhere, too. Last night, though, after the party, I felt so sick! So did, Zack. That wasn't fun. I couldn't wait to get in bed.
Today, I slept through three alarms and missed Bible Study and church. That ticked me off so bad. I really was looking forward to going to it today! My Bible study this week was "Are you growing?" It was good; it focused on what kind of food (milk or meat) am I getting, and what fruit am I producing. Again, it really hit home on Quiet Time, which I am really struggling with. I could really use prayer in that area if anybody gets the chance (Thanks!). I also met with CPT Warren, my small group leader for OCF and Bible study. He is discipling me, and we went over the parable of the Sower and the Seeds. Oh yeah! An upperclassman in my company asked me the week before Spring Leave whether I wanted to get together with him to just go over what God has been doing in our lives and such. On Friday, we got together, just gave eachother a basic background of ourselves, and we are going to begin meeting once a week and going over the book "Too Busy Not to Pray" - which we both agree is an area of struggle with where we are. It is going to be awesome.
We had a thunderstorm a little while ago. I love thunderstorms!! There's just something about them that remind me of how mighty and powerful my God is! I love to watch the lighting and feel the thunder. It is one of the best feelings in the world.
This week, I don't have too much going on. My buddy, Standley, and I are getting up at 5:20 again to work out (I didn't do so hot at getting up this past week). Hopefully I can this week. Academics don't look bad either. Tomorrow, I have to pick up a Cadet Candidate for an overnight stay. That should be interesting. Hopefully we can give him a good impression, or a realistic impression (I don't know which is better).
Well, I have to go take a shower, read my Bible, and go to bed. I will definitely need the rest to be ready for this week. Here's some pictures of some recent events:

Here's a pic from the PPW banquet.

Here's a pic from Super Saturday. This is
me and a yuk in my company and on my team,
Tom (CPL Fowler in the company area).