Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cigars and such

I heard from Major G again. After hearing how well received some cigars I gave to the Major had been with soldiers he shared them with, I decided to send more, and invited anyone who could to help me. Here's what the Major had to say about it:

Great to hear from you. The cigars are a hit here. I've shared with 1SG P, CPT S, SFC D and the rest of the guys. Even sent some down to the boys in the dets. I really appreciate it. They are great cigars. I have my humidifier here, so no worries, they get plenty of time in the box.

Having been deployed, I have suggestions for some things that go well in care packages. Besides the things you might think, like books and snacks, I especially appreciated sugar-free cough drops. In an area with so much dust in the air, I often could not sleep without a cough drop. Also, wet wipes are invaluable when in that environment with continual dust, especially since some areas do not have shower facilities.

If you were able to help in this particular case, thank you. You've brightened some soldiers' days. Even if you weren't able to help with the cigars, there are so many ways to support our deployed service members. Some of them you may not have considered, like asking families with deployed service members if there's some way you can help them. There's always something you can do. Do it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Uncle Kenny

Yesterday I discovered that my driver's window had been smashed. That would have elicited more of a reaction from me, except I was talking to Cousin Pam...who was telling me about the passing of my Uncle Kenny. Uncle Kenny tended to be quiet and sometimes a bit stern, and he was very dignified.  I remember spending a few nights over at my cousin's, so young that I was afraid to come back from the bathroom in the middle of the night, frightened of the dark doorways around me.  Over the years, I remember reading Pam's Star War comics, of watching The A-Team's exploits and playing Atari with her,  but I never remember Uncle Kenny giving me a single harsh word.

Maurice McKinley "Kenny" Chastain died at home Friday, April 22, 2011 at the age of 81. Kenny was born in Mt. Vernon, AL to Wren and Pearl Chastain. A resident of Mobile, he was a member of Luke 4:18 Fellowship Church. He was a Korean War Navy Veteran and a retired Air Traffic Controller who enjoyed fishing, woodworking, and being with his family. He was Past Master of Chickasaw Lodge #894 and a dual member of Spring Hill Lodge #896, and served as District Lecturer of the Alabama Grand Lodge, F&AM. It was his great honor to conduct hundreds of Masonic funeral services. Kenny was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, a KYCH York Rite member, and a Shriner. He was Past Grand Governor of Alabama of theYork Rite College and Past Patron of John B. Shearer Chapter #517, OES. He served as Grand Master of the Alabama Grand Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and was Past Sovereign Grand Chaplain of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, IOOF.
He is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Carrol Shirley; daughters Diane (Ken) Eelkema, Sandra Chastain, and Pamela Upchurch; sister Jane (Charles) Gullatt; grandson Dennis (Lisa) Eelkema; great granddaughters Lauren and Maggie; and many other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 from 10:00am to 12:00pm at Mobile Memorial Gardens, with the funeral services at 12:00 in the chapel. Internment will be at Valhalla Cemetery. Honorary Pallbearers: Percy D. Lane, Randall Fletcher, Curtis Hass, and Dulane Dunnam.
Memorials may be sent to: Luke 4:18 Fellowship Building Fund, P.O. Box 850695, Mobile, AL 36685.

Goodbye, Uncle. I'm glad your pain is over.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


So...I've been sick. Sick enough that our TAC called me out of PT formation Tuesday to ask if I would be okay for the PT test today. Yesterday I bought a new pair of running shoes, my first K-Swiss. And crossed my fingers.

I haven't been sleeping well for the past week, between the tickling in the throat and frequently coughing myself awake. I took three Benadryl last night, early (to make sure I wasn't weak from after-effects), but still slept poorly. I felt reasonably well this morning.

The weather was perfect, in the low 60s with no wind. I pushed out a few more pushups than last test. Pumped out 77 situps. And, finally, took my new shoes onto the long-dreaded 2-mile run.

I didn't do as well as I might've liked, but I did drop exactly a minute off my time, leaving me with a 271 out of 300. I'll take that. For now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BOLC Times

After at least a week with a sore throat, I went to sick call yesterday morning. I've been given antibiotics and expectorants. I'm just hoping I'm good for the PT test Thursday.

On Seek Cover, I describe an incident that happened Friday. It was nerve-wracking. And a good lesson.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cigars for PsyOps

I miss training with MAJ G. He is now deployed to Afghanistan with my old unit, 312 PO. Here is an excerpt from an email this week: "I have to thank you again for the cigars. I have been enjoying them, and so have CPT S, SFC D and some of the other cigar smokers here. It's a nice break on Fridays after Tommy Taliban is done with his IDF"*.

*Indirect fire: mortars or other high-angle artillery fire.

I am going to send more cigars to the unit. They won't be the absolute most expensive, but they will be high quality, solid value good smokes. If you'd like to help, and know something about cigars, if you email me at JRShirley(at), I will give you mailing information. If you want to kick in a few bucks to help, PayPal to that email address. Just put" cigars" in the notes, and I'll take care of it.

I remember how nice a cigar was to help pass the time when I was in Afghanistan. The little comforts can really mean a lot to deployed service members. Help if you can.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood
Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas HaasGary Oldman
Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Summary: Werewolf rending of fairy tale, cast for 14-y/os.  If you expect it to suck, it won't be too bad.  2.5 stars.