My Halloween Zombie Story

Here's a story from my distant past for your Halloween amusement...

Back in our High School days, my good friend James and I loved horror movies – the scarier or the gorier the better. On weekends, we loved to host horror movie marathons at James' house in the Tucson foothills, where it was nice and dark after hours, and his parents were cool enough to let the two of us invite over a bunch of friends to participate in our fright fests.

On one such occasion, several people were on their way as dusk was beginning to fall, and one of the people we were expecting was Carrie, who was a friend of ours from Drama class. Since zombies had been the theme of choice on multiple occasions, we hatched an evil plan to play a prank in that genre on Carrie. James and I had a few gallons of stage blood lying around, as one does, and I suggested that we rip up the front of one of James' shirts so it looked like it was torn open by a zombie, then cover his chest with cold cut meats that matched his skin color as best as possible, then drown everything in stage blood while James was lying in the middle of the street. We quickly set everything up in front of his house, then we waited for Carrie's car to turn down his street.

After a few minutes a car was headed our way, and I sat in the street next to James as I began to slowly rip pieces of flesh off James' chest and eat them, with copious amounts of stage blood dripping down my face. The car came to a halt next to our macabre spectacle, and when the occupants rolled down the window, I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t Carrie – it was the parents who lived next door to James. They looked at me with a genuine amount of fear and asked, "Is he okay?," to which I replied with the first thing that popped into my head, "He's delicious."

 Open-mouthed smile

James' neighbors quickly drove away, and by some miracle they didn't call the cops on us. Carrie arrived a few minutes later, and we repeated the whole scene for her benefit, with the expected results. I believe her words – or at least her thoughts – were along the lines of: "The two of you are not right in the head." (It's quite possible that she still holds that opinion of us.)

 

PS - I should mention that James' neighbors never asked him to babysit again.

The Unfortunate Demise of the Basic Training Shark Attack

Earlier today, one of my fellow veterans shared the following video from Business Insider about the United States Army Infantry School’s decision to no longer conduct the unofficial ritual known as the Shark Attack during basic training. By way of definition, the Shark Attack has traditionally been the first experience that new recruits have in Basic Training, when Drill Sergeants descend on raw recruits and scream at them until they begin to understand who’s in charge.

 

Despite CSM Fortenberry’s comments in that video, the Shark Attack totally has it's place in today's Army, and the idiots who don't think so are... well, IDIOTS. The purpose of the Shark Attack is to mentally separate recruits from civilian life, and nothing does that better than having a Drill Sergeant screaming in your face. The Shark Attack also instills a sense of fear at the outset of training, which is absolutely necessary for some new recruits to create a foundation for discipline where they'll listen to their Drill Sergeant’s orders for the rest of their training. If you take away the Shark Attack, you take away one of the best tools for teaching recruits that their lives – as they knew them – are over. (For the next few weeks, anyway.)

Personally, I hate, hate, HATE the "kindler, gentler Army" approach that today's military leaders are trying to create. Combat is neither "kind" nor "gentle," and taking away the rough edges from military training creates soldiers who are ill-equipped to deal with the mental pressures that soldiers will experience after they leave training. It doesn’t matter if new recruits are volunteers or draftees – soldiers need to be tough enough to endure the rigors of combat life, and the Army is doing their soldiers a great injustice if they fail to prepare recruits for their new lives.

Quite frankly, this entire discussion is just one of many ways where the people who are "in charge" of the Army simply do not "get it" with regard to how the actual day-to-day business of the military is conducted.

I'm so glad I got out before this toxic cancer of stupidity infected the Army.

I’m a Russian Language n00b

After graduating the Defense Language Institute (DLIFLC), then three years working a live mission, and then graduating the Foreign Language Training Center Europe (FLTCE), I was asked to provide real-time translations from English into Russian for church services for political refugees in West Germany who had defected from the East.

I thought that I was pretty darn good with the live mission vocabulary, but my self-confidence in the language completely evaporated when I realized that I knew absolutely zero of church-related vocabulary in Russian. For instance, I didn't know basic verbs like "pray" or "baptize," or basic nouns like "angel," "salvation," "altar," etc. I didn’t even know the name of books in the Bible like "Римлянам," "Второзаконие," "Деяния," etc.

Yup - I quickly realized that when it came to church vocabulary, I was a totally worthless n00b.

The Day I was a Sports Legend

Back in my early days as a Technical Support Engineer at Microsoft, my boss had a dartboard outside her office, and several of our fellow team members would play darts on their breaks. I suck at darts, so I never joined them.

One day I happened to be walking by, and one of the guys asked, "Why don't you ever play with us?" I replied, "You wanna see why?," then I grabbed one of the darts and threw it with barely a look in the direction of the dartboard.

I fully expected to miss the board by several feet, and thereby demonstrate to everyone my complete lack of skills. However, by some miracle the dart landed dead center in the bull's-eye. Rather than show everyone my expression of dumbfounded surprise, I quickly collected myself, then I turned to the people gathered around and asked with a feigned air of superiority, "Do you REALLY want a piece of me?"

Then I walked off, leaving my stunned coworkers in awe while I basked in the glow of a victory that I could never have achieved if I had tried, and like any great athlete - I left the sport at the top of my game.

bullseye