Bride’s birthday pre-game

It has begun.

Grey Goose dirty (filthy!) martinis for me, $68.00 / bottle glasses of Chianti for her.  I ain’t spending s*** on liquor at an expensive Brazilian steakhouse, and the groupon comes with a bottle of wine and dinner for two.

I’m afraid the steakhouse has made a rather large mistake – They won’t allow more than one groupon to be used per “group”, and we have a 6-person party.   So if they don’t seat us at least adjacently, if not push three tables together, its going to get loud.  Trust.


Ah well.  That will be entertaining blog-fodder at the very least.  With video.

RLTW, and out here.


A warm-up and a jog seem to be just the thing…

To make showering possible.  The cold weather here and the cool water in the hotel combine to make a sort of Swedish bath…The exercise raises my temperature enough to make it bearable.

Sure are a lot of joggers here, but considering most of them are active or retired military that makes sense, I suppose.

A further blessing is that there’s a Starbucks right on the way to the Metro station, one Venti Americano equals about three regular coffees.  That leaves only two regular coffees to consume once I get to work before I stop glaring at everyone who speaks to me.

Off for day two at the puzzle palace, Lord, let this trip go quickly.

This is how we take care of our veterans?

I think I’m going to be violently ill:

In December, doctors at a VA hospital in Oregon decided to admit an 81-year-old patient. He was dehydrated, malnourished, plagued by skin ulcers and broken ribs — in the medical professionals’ opinion, he was unable to care for himself at home. Administrators, however, overruled them.

Was there no bed for this poor man? No, the facility had plenty of beds; in fact, on an average day, more than half of the beds are empty, awaiting patients. Was there no money or medicine to care for him? No, and no. Reporting by the New York Times suggests that Walter Savage was, perversely, turned away because he was too sick. Very sick patients tend to worsen the performance measures by which VA hospitals are judged.

If this had happened in isolation, we could simply gape at the monstrosity that bureaucracies are occasionally capable of.

But such examples abound in health care. For example, in the 1990s, New York and Pennsylvania started publishing mortality data on hospitals and surgeons who did coronary bypasses. The idea was that more informed consumers would steer themselves toward the teams with the better statistics — theoretically good for patients, bad for slacking providers. The reality was less ideal: In those states, surgeons seem to have started doing more operations on healthier patients, while turning away the sickest ones who might otherwise have benefited.

From this we can take a few lessons. The first is one that has been well-known to other sorts of businesses: What you measure is what you get, not necessarily what you want. In fact, if your measurement is badly designed, you may get a great deal of something you don’t want.

Like I often say, veterans often enter the VA, but they rarely come out.  Thank God for Tricare.

Let the games begin

Was up a bit earlier than usual this morning – Getting into the Pentagon as a civilian is a much more involved process than when one is in uniform.  If you’re assigned there (shudder), you get a permanent badge / pass that allows you through security pretty quickly, but even if you’re only there on TDY (Temporary Duty), you just sign for a visitor’s pass that’s good for the duration of your stay.

Since 9/11, though, as a civilian (and once you retire from the army, trust me, they look at you like a civilian), there’s a long, drawn-out, PITA of a process involving waiting on your COR and sponsor to fill out the requisite paperwork for a visitor’s badge, having one’s picture taken, waiting on the badge to be created, listening to a stern five-minute warning regarding which areas are off limits (which depends on what you’re there for), then signing in and running your visitor’s badge through an ATM-like machine.

That’s just day one – On subsequent days there is a separate security process for permanent staff / TDY and dirty, filthy civilians, and it takes forever to get in the building,  You would think that after twenty years of working on various projects here on and off I’d have a map of the building burned on the back of my eyeballs, but offices are constantly moving from one ring to the next (for pure aggravation’s sake, I’m certain), so a new map must be obtained on each visit…And like most military maps these are an absolute horror.  I’ve found the best thing to do is to grab the first senior NCO or Chief Warrant and simply ask “excuse me, but could you direct me to this f****** place before I shoot myself?”  Addressing them in this manner lets them know you’re prior service / retired, and they delight in torturing you (since now they can), but they’ll get you where you’re going.

The food court is an enormous temptation, but the line to merely get a bowl of cereal is so long it isn’t worth it – Besides, if you eat breakfast at the hotel it doesn’t count towards per diem, since there’s no receipt.

I’ve already run into two former soldiers of mine, one now a Major and the other a Lieutenant Colonel, and they’ve given me the skinny on who’s working here and where, so evenings will be busy with libations and TINS (“This is no s***”) tales with old friends, which will ease the burden of getting my a** chewed up and down until next Wednesday, when I’ll fly home.

I shall describe to you the day’s first a** chewing a bit later.  Have a better day than me, please.

Funny, for a fellow with 14 jumps in his Log…

One of which is a combat jump, I am absolutely terrified of heights. Thank you, Hoffman LaRoche, for inventing Diazepam, and thank you Teva, for making the generic. I slept the entire flight through, and am safely ensconced in the Comfort Suites in Arlington, ready to call it a night.

Hope you sleep well, friends.

Puzzle palace, here I come

I’m off in an hour to Hartsfield-Jackson, direct to Dulles International, there to catch a shuttle to the Pentagon, where, within an hour or so of arrival I’ll be informed what a stupid SOB I am for a week.

Meh.  My skin is like leather, nothing to fear there.  Alexandria is gorgeous this time of year anyhow, and I have plenty of friends in the area.

I’ll tell the tale of each day as I sit in the Comfort Suites in the evenings – No cameras inside the five-sided edifice, unfortunately.

Mother’s milk

All things that are old have become new again.

From 1990 – 1992 in the quarters at Kitzingen there were no such things as Keurig machines, one purchased a “Mr. Coffee” at the PX and hoped it lasted the length of your assignment (those d***** machines broke on the regular).  So the first two things you’d do before taking a shower would be to run out to your POV in PJ’s and a parka to start it up and run the heater, then start a pot of coffee so that you’d have enough for a cup over breakfast and a thermos to take with you on the drive over to Downs Barracks.

Well d*** if I didn’t just run out to the car (fully dressed by now, of course) and crank it up, turn the heater to full blast, then return to the house to make a third cup of Keurig to drink while the car warms up so that I can drive it to Starbucks and fetch the wife’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.

On the agenda today, haircut, lunch with an old NGC buddy, and purchasing a better vaping device than the cheap one I picked up in Panama City.  That those tasks seem exhausting thinking about them isn’t a good sign,