Let’s Play Two!

As weekends go this past one is hard to beat.  On Friday night I went to the Angels-A’s game in Oakland with my buddy Jon the Green Beret, who was home on leave, and a few other friends.  It was good to see Jon.  It had been probably close to two years the last time he was in Santa Rosa and in the meantime had been to Germany, Afghanistan, and other undisclosed exotic locations.  Even though I hadn’t seen him face to face in a long time, we had communicated fairly frequently via email.  I was thinking about how much different communication with military personel is now than how it used to be not all that long ago.  Can you imagine trying to communicate with someone stationed way out in the Afghan boondocs 15, maybe even 10 years ago?  It would’ve been exceedingly slow, if even possible at all.  But email has changed all that.  In fact its so much easier that not only were Jon and I able to have the kind of correspondense usually commonplace between those in the field and those at home in any era (“how are you”, “be safe”, “everyone back here is thinking about you guys”, “went on patrol today”, that kind of stuff), but I even got a few forwarded email jokes and chainletters.  When I really think about that it kind of blows my mind.  Here’s my buddy in a combat zone (which, I told him, still weirds me out a little) with the time and ability to forward a joke about giraffes.  What an interesting time we live in.

Anyway, back to the game.  It was good to spend time with Jon and the other guys that came along, and also Jon’s wife and parents, and retell the stories from the old days and get a little glimpse of what Afghanistan was like.  I would’ve loved to talk about that with him more, but there wasn’t time and I’m sure that wasn’t the first thing he would want to relive after just getting home.  We had awesome seats, field level 1st base side 23 rows back, and the Angels won so I was a happy camper all around.

The next night Jen, Lily, and I again returned to Oak-town for game two of the series.  This was my early Father’s Day present and I think Jen has set the future bar a little high for herself.  This one will be hard to top.  The seats were even better than the night before, same general area but a section closer to home plate and row 14.  The Angels were again victorious, though Frankie Rodriguez made things a little interesting in the bottom of the ninth.  Lily was a champ all night and I think she enjoyed her first ball game.

Both nights I was bold and was decked out in full Angels gear.  On Sunday my father-in-law pointed out that I went one night with a Green Beret and one night with a baby to protect myself from getting harassed.  Well, duh.  What am I, an idiot?  Speaking of the baby, she was the hit of our section even though even she was also in full Angels regalia.  Her cuteness overcame the cold, hardened hearts of even the most misguided A’s fans.  A fellow Angel fan told Jen as he passed by, “You’re raising her right.”  There was a postgame fireworks show on Saturday night and we tried to stay for it, but after about three big “BOOMS” Lily had had enough and we headed for home.

It doesn’t get much better than a night at the ballpark.  Unless its back-to-back nights at the ballpark.

The Party Post

endless-love.jpg

Not this past Friday night, but the Friday before, my wife threw me a big 30th birthday extravaganza.  Jen is awesome.  She was off of work that day and spent it running all around town getting things ready for the fiesta, all while six month pregnant and fighting off the onset of a cold.  What a trooper.  All week leading up to the party she was very concerned that it wouldn’t be fun enough.  “All we have is one game and karaoke, and what if no one wants to do karaoke?  I don’t want your party to be boring.”  She’s very cute when she’s obsessive.  I assured her that there was no possible way the party would be a dud.  I mean, I was going to be there, so…  But seriously folks, we aren’t six, so we don’t need ponies and clowns to keep us entertained.  I’m just glad she didn’t wear herself out so much that she couldn’t enjoy her own shindig.  She, and everyone else as far as I could tell, had a great time.  Its worth mentioning that the winning prize for the game we played was an 8×10 of my high school senior picture…autographed.  Needless to say, it was a coveted item.  Her fear of karaoke neglect was not wholly unfounded.  Our circle of friends aren’t always the most adventurous, especially when it comes to making a fool of yourself.  So if this thing was going to get rolling, it was going to be up to Jen and I to break the ice.  I’m not usually averse to being a ham–or eating ham for that matter–but singing in public, even the private/public of my parents living room, can be intimidating.  But I sucked it up and joined Jen in butchering Endless Love.  Once everyone saw how bad we were, there wasn’t any sense in them not jumping in.  By the end of the night, just about everyone had taken the mic, with varying degrees of success.  And the video cameras were running.

It was a great night spent with family and friends.  Jen throws a pretty darn good party.  She partied so hard she was bedridden all the next day.  Actually her cold had gotten much worse and I forbade her to do anything other than rest.

You can find some pictures of the festivities by clicking the Flickr dealy in the right hand sidebar or checking the photos tab above.  Doing either one will take you to my Flickr page.  If you have a Yahoo or Flickr account you can sign-in and make comments on the pics if you want.  If you don’t have a Yahoo account you must be some kind of Internet nerd.  Doesn’t everyone have a Yahoo account?  Yahoo and Flickr are free to sign up for, if you want to shed your Net-nerd status.  Also, here is a video from our version of American Idol.  And don’t worry all of you karaoke participating party attenders, there’s plenty more video to come.  I haven’t forgotten you.  ;]

Over There

I was planning on writing a post about my super cool birthday party that my wife threw for me on Friday, but it being Veterans Day and an email I received today changed my mind (I’ll post the party post later this week).  I’ve mentioned my buddy Jon the Green Beret a couple times.  He joined the Army about three years ago.  I remember when he called me right after he enlisted.  To be honest, I wasn’t that surprised.  Jon, like me, has always been a history buff, probably more so, and he’s always been interested in things about the military and had talked about joining the Army some day.  After training, basic and special, and a marriage, he was shipped to Germany several months ago.  A few of us got together with him before he left.  Jon was never a big guy by any stretch of the imagination.  Maybe about  five foot eight, not more than 140 pounds, maybe less.  When I saw him before he left he must have put on about 20 pounds of rock hard muscle.  The dude was ripped.  Despite his small stature he had always been athletic, and is in fact an accomplished fencer of all things, but now he’s a force to be reckoned with.

I always wondered what kind of work the Green Beret’s were doing in Germany, but whatever it was apparently its under control.  A few weeks ago Jon sent me an email telling me he was being deployed to Afghanistan.  He does have email access and we’ve been in sporadic communication.  He describes Afghanistan as the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine.  Not the kind of place you’d expect to be so contested for all these years.

Today I got an email from Jon’s mom, which included a message he had sent them.  This past weekend his unit had come under fire and suffered casualties, including one KIA (killed in action).  His mom thought that the soldier who lost his life was someone that had gone through most of training with Jon.

For the first time in my life, someone I know very well is literally in the line of fire.  My grandfather served in WWII and my father-in-law in Vietnam, but obviously those battles occurred long before I was born.  Its a strange feeling to know that someone who I used to spend late nights playing Nintendo with, someone who I once stood toe-to-toe with in a late night parking lot donnybrook, someone who once, as a ninety pound freshman, proclaimed that he could knockout anyone in the class with one punch–the famed “frontal explosion”–is now fighting off Taliban incursions in the Afghan wilderness.  Its a little surreal.

I sent him an email today offering my condolences, not really knowing what to say, but at least letting him know I’m here, praying for him and his buddies.

Update:  Literally five minutes after posting this last night, I turned on the TV and ABC’s Nightline was running a segment on Afghanistan.  A Vanity Fair photographer was embedded with an Army unit there and had video of them in action.  It was pretty interesting to see what the fighting is like there and gave me an idea of what Jon must be dealing with.  At one point they were caught in an ambush and a man was killed.  Pretty intense stuff.  Like I said, very surreal.

YouTube Friday: Things You Can’t Do In An Airport Anymore

Circa 1998 or ’99.  A posse of us went to the San Francisco airport to pick up our buddy Jon the Green Beret (in the pre-Green Beret days) who was returning home from college at Penn State.  We got to the airport early, and his flight was an hour late.  We had an hour and a half to kill in the terminal.  I brought my video camera.  Hijinx ensued.  Actually, a few people might find this amusing, about five will find it hilariously awesome, and the rest will say, “There goes two minutes and seven seconds of my life I’ll never get back.”  To the Five, I salute you.  If you don’t get the musical reference of the second part of the video, click here AFTER you watch it.