25 July 2010

Born to Run

Someone once told me that if he saw someone running with a smile, he'd try running.

If that was you, you should come run with me. I smile all the time when I run.

I'm not sure if it's the mountain air or the fiery skies or the twisty singletrack or the better-than-barefoot shoes, but running puts a smile on my face.

When you run on the earth and you run with the earth, you can run forever. - Tarahumara proverb, Born to Run

It sounds a little strange, but it's true. When you run light and soft, feeling the ground and listening to its feedback and to your body, you can go as far as you want. I only had time for thirty minutes tonight, but I could've done thirteen miles. It felt so good.

I've realized why the Tarahumara have been wearing huaraches for hundreds of years. Huaraches are the greatest running footwear I've ever worn. These people call themselves Rarámuri, which means "runners on foot". They run between villages for transportation and communication. 100 miles at a pop.

We're all designed to do the same. Besides...

When I run, I feel His pleasure. - Eric Liddell

21 July 2010

Basic "Quotes of the Day"

11 July: "Just don't look into their eyes." 
From one basic to another, on the first day in Jack's Valley, during tent setup. Cadre were walking around, basics were filling sandbags, trying to stay under the radar.

13 July: "Sir, are your eyes natural, or are you wearing contacts?"
This question - from a male basic - came out of nowhere. I cracked up because one of my buddies used the same line to hit on a girl in the Dominican Republic. As one of my friends pointed out, my eyes do match my beret.

15 July: "Sir, your dad's really nice."
One of our female basics called me "ma'am". Since there wasn't time to make her do push-ups for it, I had her call my dad and explain why she called me a girl. Dad said something like, "You're smart enough to get into the Air Force Academy but you can't figure out that my son's a man?" As I thought about it, I realized I could have handled the situation better. Dad texted me and asked to talk to the girl again. He did the next day, and really made her feel like he cared about her, asked for her address and her parents' phone number to let them know she was doing okay. Couple days later, she gets a letter from him.

My dad's a great man. But I still gotta figure out how to get this girl to stay focused and keep it locked up...

16 July: "There goes the coolest cadre ever."
See explanation here.

17 July: "Sir, we're gonna get our @ss3s kicked."
The basics got to go to a rodeo this year. Before they left, B-flight commander let them know that there was two hours of free time on the schedule when they got back, and that they shouldn't gorge themselves. "You know what's gonna happen during those two hours?" They knew what would happen.

19 July: "Sir, where are we going? Isn't it bedtime?"
This came as we were forming up the flight to march out of tent city. The sun was going down, and the basics didn't see it coming. I answered, "No, we're going to do some PT." The basic gave a smirk. "Why are you smiling? Does PT make you happy?" "Yes, sir!"

20 July: "Sir, you came out of nowhere and I couldn't control it."
I noticed a basic smirking, so I looked at him, and he couldn't keep it locked up at all. Guess I'm funny lookin'.


20 July #2: "Sir, I love your attitude."
Our basics come up with little chants to say when we start marching. I didn't like one of them, and I told them so. The flight stopped, and I heard one of the girls say, "Cadet Seibt doesn't like our new chant. Well, I don't like Cadet Seibt's attitude." She was joking, and I knew it, but I dropped her for push-ups anyway. "Sir, I was only kidding!" She knew I wasn't being mean with the push-ups, but we got to 25 and she said, "Sir, I love your attitude." I answered, "Are you coming on to me?" "No, sir!" We knocked out five more push-ups and got up.



19 July 2010

Broken

I am broken.
You are Healer.

I want to see Your face.
I want to hear Your voice.
I want to feel Your touch.

I am broken.
You are Healer.

I want to talk with You.
I want to walk with You.
I want to laugh with You.

I am broken.
You are Healer.

I want to feel Your breath.
I want to hug Your Son.
I want to worship You.

I am broken.
You are Healer.

Lord Jesus, come quickly.

16 July 2010

Coolest Cadre Ever

"Sir, I was talking to my friend Dan and he said, 'There goes the coolest cadre ever.' It was you. He said you were coming to fill up a canteen and he was there with facepaint on. You asked, 'Isn't it a great day to be an American Warrior?' And you asked how Ops-Warrior went for him and his flight. He told his classmates to make a hole for you to fill up your canteen, but you told them not to, that you could wait. You thanked them for letting you go first and said 'Good afternoon, gentleman' as you walked away."

It's the little things that count, I guess.

13 July 2010

The One Mode or Other

When I was a four-degree (freshman), I wrote a post about Schofield's Quote. I still know that quote by heart, and I was teaching it to my basics today as they waited to for weigh-ins.

It's a good quote. Part of it goes like this: "It is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner, in such a tone of voice, as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey..." I stopped them after that line and asked them how the other flight cadre and I were doing on that. They had good feedback - one of them mentioned a little mid-beat-session motivational speech I gave them last night - but I'm not sure if they really thought we were doing well or if they just didn't want to tick me off. I hope it was the former.

Then, randomly, one of them asked to ask a question: "Sir, are your eyes natural, or are you wearing contacts?"

I busted up. Manny had used that line on a girl in the Dominican. Once I recovered myself, I told him where I'd heard that line before, and he started smiling. I told our Peruvian basic what the line was in Spanish, and the follow up: "Pensé que eran contactos porque son tan brillantes."


The basic responded smartly, "Yo no creo eso, señor."

11 July 2010

You checkin' me out?

Walking across the Jacks Valley Training Complex (JVTC) to grab some sandbags for my basics, I passed by another flight standing at attention. One of the basics looked straight at me, realized I was looking at him, then snapped back.

I walked up, got in his face. "Basic, you checkin' me out?"

"No, sir!"

"You lyin' to me? 'Cause I just saw you look at me."

"No, sir!"

"You think I'm sexy, basic?"

No answer. Here comes Tyler, the flight commander and a friend of mine. Apparently, this basic's been causing some trouble.

Tyler: "You think Cadet Seibt is sexy? You wanna have some cuddle time with him later? But you can't tell me if you do."

The basic smirks. I yell: "Are you serious!? Wipe that smirk off your face. I'm tempted to drop you right now."

Tyler: "On your face." He gets down, throws his rifle in the dirt and puts his hands on top. I yell at him for that. His classmates join him. I yell, "My cadence!" The basics respond: "Your cadence!"

"One, two three..."

"One, sir!" And so on.

I tell them to get up after twenty four-count pushups. Get in that basics face again. "Sorry, but that's all I have time for."

Tyler: "Oh, you can come by later, Cadet Seibt."

"I will."

10 July 2010

Ready?

2nd BCT (Basic Cadet Training) starts today. I'm gonna be an element leader, in charge of ten or so basics. But I'll be involved in the training and mentoring of our whole flight of about 30 basics.

I'm nervous: will I do a good job? Am I as good as the guys who trained me? I still can't believe I'm standing in their shoes.

I've seen guys have a great impact on their basics, as Cadets and more importantly as Christians. And I've seen guys screw it up.

My prayer for our basics is that they would become greater cadets than I am. That their class would be better than my own. And that they would realize I follow Jesus, and that realization would make them want to come alongside.

It's not gonna be easy - for them or for me. But I'm sure we'll all learn a lot.

08 July 2010

Barry, the perpetual worker

Here's an idea: make a perpetual whirlpool. You get that thing going and it won't stop. Take out environmental factors. You could make one as big as the Hoover Dam. Think of the turbines you could spin!

Or how about gravity? You know, Archimedes was one of the greatest. He thought, "What if we take gravity and instead of working against it, we work with it? That's energy!" That's a motor!

Tell ya what, Nathan. Once you get out of the Air Force, we'll build us a little lab and we'll figure this out. You and me. The good 'ol days are comin'. I'm like Butch Cassidy: I've got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals. 

And you never lose that little boy "What's this? How's this work?" Never lose that. 

Have a good 'un.

You too, Barry.

Love that man.

07 July 2010

Below boring altitude

Pilot: "Do you know where we are?"
Copilot: "We're in North Dakota."

Good to know. Our pilots had spotted a tower they didn't see on the map and wanted to mark it. They actually knew where we were, but they liked to BS in the front.

They also liked to fly. I didn't know a Huey could do 80 degree banks. It can. Right around the ridge. There musta been about forty feet of clearance from blades to cliff.

We flew out to a canyon on the northern end of the badlands. The flight out was uneventful - flat farmland. We flew along, fifty feet above the ground, flying around cows and farmhouses so as not to anger the farmers and flying over powerlines so as not to die. We were in completely uncontrolled airspace: no one had us on radar, no one had us on radio.

Deer jumped up and sprinted away from us. Calves ran; their mothers just stood their and swiveled their heads. Ducks spooked, and left trails of white foam on the water before they took off. Our shadow, blades chopping and sun shining through the doors, followed us across the ground.

We reached the canyon and headed for a place with some LZs (Landing Zones) set up on pinnacles. One of them was a patch of grass on top of rock, with a hundred-foot drop all around. We came in steep, and the crew chief leaned out of the window to guide the pilots in. The pilots couldn't see the ground - just the empty space over the edge of the cliff. The crew chief directed the pilots: "Ground in four, come back one on the way down." I looked out the back. The tail was hanging over the edge. Front: nose hanging over the edge. Sides: couple feet of space each way. Good landing.

The crew chief stood on the skid as we took off. We flew over the water, looked down and saw 4-foot fish silhouetted in the sunlight. We flew along the cliffs at the lake's edge, watching the layer of coal. We stayed low, fifty feet over the water, throwing it into tight turns.

We stopped at a Guard training area to practice tactical landings: come in fast and set it down. We hopped out to pee, and stayed on the ground to see what it looked like. They took off and went around, out of sight. Popped up over the trees before we could hear them, and had it on the ground in ten seconds. Awesome. We ran under the rotors to get back on.

The rest was pretty simple: just followed the highway back to base. Flew through the windmills. Those things are huge, four hundred feet tall, including blades. Takes seven trucks to get one of 'em out here.

Our pilots - one an '05 grad, one '07 - told us helos are pretty much the only real flying left in the Air Force: everybody else goes to 30,000 feet and obeys the Air Traffic Control, following their highways in the sky. These guys are always VFR (Visual Flight Rules). They stick close to the ground, go where they want, and actually maneuver their aircraft around obstacles. There's no auto-pilot. There's no auto-anything.

Seems like a pretty cool career. And, if you speak a foreign language, they might even send you to train Venezuelans to fight drug cartels. Or maybe fly with them. Or something like that.

"¿Tú sabes dónde estamos?"
"Estamos en Dakota del Norte..."

03 July 2010

There's no combination of words I could put on the back of a postcard...

The sun, a glowing orange ball that blends into the orange sky around it, is sinking below the horizon.

There's a front of clouds to the west, a deep purple, their fringes also glowing orange.

On the backside of the front, closer to me, it's raining. The sunlight shines through the rain, and it too glows orange.

The clouds above are layered and patchy, with spots of blue sky breaking through deeper blue clouds.

The soft rain falls on my face. It feels good. It smells good.

Our God is an awesome God.

02 July 2010

Poverty is hard to swallow

Island

I saw the island as we drove into the park. I want to go there.

So we drove to the beach, dropped our stuff under a cottonwood, and I waded into the water. It was chilly; I went slow so my body could get used to it. Then I swam over the buoys and into the big water.

Out in the channel, it was pretty chilly. I saw my arms move through the green water, but I had no idea about what could be swimming below me. That's a long swim. I looked back. Can I make it? Is it worth it?

If only for the workout, yes. I kept going, watching out for boats and making a big splash at any headed my way. It was a long swim. But once I started seeing cottonwood seeds on the water, I knew I was close. I swam over the tops of drowned birches and waded through drowned grass to reach the shore.

Once there, I headed inland. The grass bent beneath my feet and made for a nice cushion. I walked towards the ridge, skirting the thistles and walking through the deer beds. It looked like no one had ever been on the island.

Up on the ridge - if it could be called a ridge - I looked up and saw a large buck. He stood there, silhouetted against the water, the sun shining on his golden back. It was a perfect picture, with the grass covering his legs and the blue sky covering everything. He looked at me, and I looked at him. His antlers were rounded and fuzzy. Young whitetail?

He took a few steps toward me and put his head down. I took a step. He looked up. I froze. He continued walking toward me, followed by a younger buck. They both walked towards me.

I took a step towards them and they bolted, blowing air through their nostrils. I didn't see white tails. They bounded through the grass, down towards the trees and the water. I never saw them again.

I followed them to the other side of the island. I laughed out loud, running through the grass, surrounded by water, bathed in sunshine, under the big blue sky. On the other side, there were cliffs, looking over the water, with deer beds on top. Wouldn't it be awesome to sleep in the deer beds, just a couple feet from the cliff's edge, and wake up to a sunrise over the water?

I explored the cliffs a bit, above and below. Found a beach with lots of shale rock, good for skipping. Found a piece of petrified wood.

I headed back towards the park, slipped into the water, and made for a trail I saw on the other side. Four loons swam across in front of me. Their red eyes watched me; they'd dive under the water and reappear thirty yards away. I wish I could have heard them sing. I wish you could have heard them sing.

Across the water again, I walked through fields of wildflowers and grass. I headed back to the beach, sat down and thought about how amazing the earth is.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...

01 July 2010

Thoughts from the Chief

"They say there's a girl behind every tree. But there are no trees!" It's tough for the single guys here in Minot. There are a lot of young cops on the base, who like many young men, have two things on their minds: booze and women. But they're not allowed booze - most are underage - and women are scarce. So they tend to get in trouble or get out. Morale's a big challenge here - on top of the lack of things to do, it's super cold, and Airmen are living two to a dorm.

"Sometimes you gotta lie. As a leader, you can't have a bad day."

"I'm a pretty optimistic guy. I get to go home to bed with the woman I love. It doesn't matter where we are - she's my wife, I love her, and I'm happy. Plus, since being up here, I bought a riding lawn mower - it's great. I upgraded my snowblower - and my wife didn't say anything. I've got a lot of new hardware." As he said that, he had a nice big grin.

"I went to basic training in 1982. There were some Cadets there - I don't know what their job was. There were Corvettes - yours - in the parking lot. I remember one day, one of the Cadets stood over us, with arms crossed, and asked us military history questions. Even if it was the day before graduation, we'd been in the military six weeks. And I was a hippie. He only asked questions he knew the answer to, arms crossed, standing over us. I still remember his arrogance. That was 28 years ago. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Don't be arrogant. I don't think Lieutenants should talk. They should be quiet, in sponge mode. Just learn."

"To this day, I stand up when a Second Lieutenant walks in my office. It's how I've been trained. They outrank me. It's a sign of respect - they did what they had to do to become an officer, and I admire them."

"A lot of times, when airmen find out my wife's a Major, they feel I can't understand their situation. When they think of a Chief married to a Major, they think, 'They're rich'. And they feel I can't identify with them. But they forget that I was an Airman too, making grocery lists, shopping at the commissary, living in a trailer with a wife and a kid. I've been there too." The Chief's wife used to be enlisted - she went to OCS and commissioned a while ago. So don't worry, it's all on the up-and-up.

All this comes from the Wing Command Chief. 28 years of service, wants to re-enlist, but can't - max is 30 years. He's earned a lot of respect.