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Off Course Maneuvering…

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photo from shutterstock

 

Hey Y’all,

 

New content today. This is partly review, partly real time and mostly future planning out loud. The purpose of this article is to publicly plant my flag in the ground so that all of you will hold me accountable. If you are reading this, then you know me. And if you know me, then you know that I am inherently lazy. I would prefer to sit on the couch and dream about changing the world rather than actually putting in the work, but here we are so here we go.

 

Last year, I did a year long, relatively intense, Biblically based leadership study with eight other men. Before I was asked to be in the group, I had a very strong feeling that I was stuck in that proverbial rut and while nothing was wrong, there was something more I needed to do. The study required me to read twelve books over the course of the year and we did monthly projects that aligned with the readings. The April reading was a book called “Visioneering” by some guy named Andy Stanley. Apparently, he is a big deal in the Christian world but I am not really into that world. I have enough issues to deal with so I leave the fanboy stuff to other people. I did reach out to him via email. He needs a better staff because their reply was less than encouraging or motivational. If anyone knows him, you can tell him that one day he will call me asking to join forces. I will be nice, probably, but I will really try to personally answer all my emails.

 

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photo from Andy Stanley.

 

I was deep into the book, between page six and ten when a thought flooded into my mind about Haiti. I have never been to Haiti, my wife has a couple of times but she is a better person than I am. Anyway, this was more than a random passing thought. I was a complete, very detailed, overpowering vision of what Haiti could become if there was corporation and collaboration between relief efforts and groups. If I am very honest, it still freaks me out when I think about the vision. A friend described it as driving down the interstate in a hard rain. The windshield wipers can’t keep the water off the windshield and it is impossible to see anything farther than the hood of the car. And then you drive under a overpass and everything is clear as day. A second later, you are back in the rain storm but you can’t forget how great it felt to see clearly.

 

So what have I done with this vision? I spent a couple of months just processing it. Then I spent a couple of months investigating if there were any other organizations out there doing what my brain saw. So far, I haven’t found anything like it. I have spoken to about ten people, some I knew and others I didn’t about it and no one has ever heard of something like it. I organized a small handful of people that I totally trust and asked for their guidance and prayers and they have helped me navigate the beginning steps of starting a non-profit organization.

 

The next steps involve money. In the vision, i felt a overwhelming sense that this was to be totally self-funded. I started a business to help generate some extra income. It will work out in the long term but in the short term, there are some hurdles to jump getting a logo and website and starting the non-profit and things like that. But that takes time to work into the budget. You will see some communications about Sou Vyzion from me in the future. Sou Vyzion means About Vision in creole. The domain name has been secured and I will be starting a blog soon.

 

The other thing, I that I need to go to Haiti. I need to get my feet on the ground. I need to see what it looks like. Experience what all the other people who travel there experience. I can’t fight the feeling that if I am going to be taken seriously, then I need to have been there. I need to sweat on their soil, eat their food and share in the discomfort. When I wore a uniform, I found it hard to respect a Colonel who never deployed and openly bragged about it. I don’t know when I will go, but it probably needs to be soon before life gets busier with other things.

 

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What could possibly go wrong? photo from yahoo.

 

This has been an emotional article probably because it is so personal, overwhelming, humbling, and intimating. Those are not adjectives that I work well with my persona so I will leave you with my Haiti Theme song. I think everyone needs a theme song. When we were in Iraq, my personal theme song was “Creeping Death” by Metallica.

 

Make no mistake, this is a war just of a different nature. Fairly soon after I had the vision, not sure when but close enough to connect the vision to the song, “Vice Grip” by the Australian metal band, Parkway Drive. played on my Spotify. I am a big fan of the band but haven’t seen them in concert. It isn’t Christian music and it isn’t totally over the top metal either. It is a video with airplanes and fire, so that is cool. The guys from Parkway Drive are not the long hair types so that is different, no babies or animals were sacrificed and it really isn’t dark and disturbing so it is safe for all ages and persuasions.

 

 

If you decide to save that four minutes for something else, the Chorus is:

Hope for the hopeless
A light in the darkness
Hope for the hopeless
You’ve got one life, one shot
Give it all you got

Songwriters: Benjamin Gordon,Jeffrey Ling,Luke Kilpatrick,Winston McCall
© Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd. For non-commercial use only.

 

 

 

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Together They Thrive! photo from some really brave dudes.

 

Until next time, keep on rockin!

 

 

 

 

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Tabukian Lives Matter…

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I dont remember when or where this one was taken. That ASU hat certainly has some time on it. photo from rob akers

 

Hey Y’all,

 

Preloading another long set of three stories. These also document one of those days where the house of cards nearly fell.

 

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I totally understand if you choose to play outside and not read about how I shouldn’t be here today. photo from yahoo

 

99% of the things I did over there don’t really bother me. Most of them make me think that I was stupid or dumb or whatever. But this is one of the 1%, that makes my heart race and my hand shake when I think about it.

 

I mean, how many people have a real chance of death on any given day? Quiet a few, I’m sure. How many people get three real, no kidding opportunities to be dead in the next minute in a single hour? And how many of them get to experience that on their birthday?

 

I am a freaking unicorn!

 

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Saturday marks number 50. A lot has gone on over the past 16 years. Super happy that I was here for it. photo from yahoo

 

Until next time, keep on rockin!

 

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/happy-birthdaypart-one/

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/happy-birthdaypart-two/

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/happy-birthdaypart-three/

 

 

Like a virgin…

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Just 51 dollars to buy four hours of great memories. That is a great way to spend some money. From right to left. Dave W, Air Force (Desert Storm Veteran), Roger C. Army (Cold War Veteran), Bert C. Marines (World War II Veteran), Roger M. Marines (Vietnam Veteran), Rob Akers Air Force, kneeling Will M. Marines (Clinton Era Veteran). No war/deployment virgins in this picture. photo from rob akers Veterans Day 2014.

 

Hey Y’all,

 

Just re-reading the next three articles is taking me down memory lane. This is a long, three part story about a 22 hour first flight. It just makes me laugh, even more so when I think about my age. I am turning 50 on Saturday and should be getting close to the same age that Jimmy “Two Balls” was in 2003.

 

I cannot imagine having my identity so wrapped up in my rank that I couldn’t begin to see the bigger picture. Sixteen years ago, I thought he was a jackleg. Today I actually feel sorry for him. It is pitiful to be as old as me and to be so incompetent and ego-eccentric, thinking that the world revolves around them. I guess I am mellowing in old age.

 

By the way when I wrote this post, Jimmy  worked at USAA Bank. I dont know what department but it left me with a sickening feeling because I thought that USAA was a good company. Since then, we have left USAA because they failed to reimburse us following an electrical fire and improper wiring in the current house. We never expected them to pay the full amount, but we did expect them to help out with the electrical upgrades that we made to bring the house up to current codes. Of course they refused and we figured that they should not get the benefit of the upgrades without having to share in the expense. No idea if Jimmy Two balls was involved in this or not. Most likely not, but it felt good to leave a company that would hire him.

 

So three relatively long stories so I will link them all on this one and then one each day.

 

Until next time, keep on rockin!

 

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/flight-onepart-one/

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/flight-onepart-two/

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/flight-onepart-three/

 

 

 

Just one of many…

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Arm full of puppies. Magic has her head on my shoulder. Legend is looking down for food. They have both passed away, along with my brown hair. photo from rob akers.

 

Hey Y’all,

 

Preloading the next story time. My wife and I have been married since 2002. When we met, she had no idea what a life as a military spouse would be like. In fact, it was her first marriage so she had no idea of what being a spouse would really be like either. She had her preconceived ideas and unfortunately for her, she choose poorly. I made it my mission in life to shatter all the dreamy thoughts of what her life would be like. Fortunately, she stayed with me until I got the wheels put on.

 

 

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Donetta and the guy she let get away. She prefers her men short, fat and gray…ha ha. photo from rob akers

 

As the years went on, the deployments occurred and the reunions happened, she loved to hear the stories of all the nonsense that went on while we were “Over There.” I started to write in 2008, partly because I was dealing with a touch of anxiety. I never intended to write about my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan but she encouraged me to write them down so the kids would know what it was like.

 

I did write them and you are reading them as they were first composed. The problem is that I wasn’t planning on sharing them with the world. But as I was also learning to write and I wanted to write a novel, I needed to have an author’s platform. Meaning a blog. And after a year or two of writing for it, writing these stories and writing my novel, I was beginning to figure out that I was spending a lot of time writing stuff that no one would ever read.

 

So that is when I started to combine the story time and the blog. Knocking out two birds with one stone. So here we are a lot of years later. I am still working on the number one novel (ugh!) and now I am on Facebook (not as bad as I feared) and I am combining story time and social media. I might not be better, but I am more efficient.

 

I wrote all that to say this. Way back when I wrote all these stories, I really never intended that they would be seen by anyone other than my kids. My stories are about real people. I write about people that I know and that know me. I have never asked anyone for their permission to write about them and I have never asked anyone if I can share their stories. If I ever write anything that is less than flattering, I am sorry but I promise that I always portray myself as accurately and honestly and unflatteringly as possible, warts and all.

 

Finally, these are not their stories or their version of that time in life or their perspective of any event. It is written exclusively from my memories during a turbulent period of my life therefore if anything I wrote in 2012 is not accurate, the blame lies with Donetta. Ha ha!

 

 

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Without Donetta, this family wouldn’t exist and none of these stories would ever be written. photo from rob akers

Until next time, keep on rockin

 

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/heroes-all/

If the tent is rockin…

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This is from the site Twisted Sifter and their 15 ominous Photos of Dust Storms. They said this is Al Asad in 2007. The guy you don’t want to be is the guy on the bottom right of the picture. Walking to the bathroom tent totally unaware that he is about to be stuck. It really is amazing how something this big can sneak up on you. photo from yahoo.

 

Hey Y’all,

 

This episode of the trip down memory lane is one of the longest days. Not because something happened, but because nothing happened. Literally nothing.

 

In the US, we tend to live in our little bubble and only whine when the internet doesn’t connect fast enough, the hot water isn’t hot enough or the traffic is thicker than usual. I know all about first world problems and like you, I tolerate them poorly.

 

But imaging for a minute, you are a sheep herder, like David of Abraham from the Bible. You spend the majority of your life out in the openness of the wilderness guiding the sheep from watering hole to watering hole. Then one day a dust storm hits and there you are. Out in the open with no tent to dive into. If you do have a tent, you don’t have air conditioning or a sleeping bag to crawl into. Your only choice is to hunker down and wait. I am going to say the suck factor is relatively high.

 

This is a story about riding out the storm called a Haboob.

 

Until next time, keep on rockin!

When you gotta go…

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Just a trash can and not even close to being ready. photo from yahoo

Hey Y’all,

 

Another story for another day. This hopefully is proof that you all will know that I am giving you the cold, wet, nasty, waste that was our lives in 2003. Well, my actual memories have been repressed so other than still being able to feel the liquid envelope my entire posterior. The overflowing liquid splashing in all directions including running down the underside of my legs. Sitting there in the most humbling positions, all I could do was shake my head in a mixture of disgust and disbelief.

 

 

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MMM, chili dogs are tasty. It is getting there but still not ready. photo from yahoo.

 

 

My advice to anyone who ever reads these words is this. “Don’t try this at home!”

 

 

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Now we are talking. Filled to the brim. This is my kind of port-a-potty. photo from yahoo

 

 

Hope you enjoy the story. I forgot to mention in today’s storytime that I never got my tent building merit badge. There were giving those out when I was cleaning myself.

 

 

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I almost called this story, “Never play with fire inside the tent and other stories from our six month long camping trip.” photo from yahoo

 

Until next time, keep on rockin!

 

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/when-in-tabuk-be-a-tabukian/

I wonder if it still exists…

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I dont know if this was the golden arches that were seen from the ramp. photo from yahoo

 

Hey Y’all,

 

Sitting in Memphis tonight wondering if Tabuk still exists. According to the internet, it still does. I guess that I can cross that off my list of unanswered questions. 99.9% of the world has never heard the name, Tabuk but for about a thousand Americans, it was a two month long bad dream.

 

My good friend, Chris W. summed it up best when he described his first impressions of the butt crack of the world that the Pentagon decided to deploy us. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I never expected this.”

 

That comment makes me laugh as hard now as it did then because it was so true. Which always reminds me when I talk to survivalists and how they think they are going to thrive when the zombie apocalypse. They think they know what to expect, or maybe they think how “cool” it will be, or maybe it will be like something you see in a movie. I hope it never happens but if it does, the probably most common thought will be something along the lines like what Chris said and it will be like nothing any of us expected.

 

But, back to Tabuk. It was impossible to describe other than to say it was hardcore rehab. It didnt matter what your vice was back in the world. It did not exist and could not be found in Tabuk. Of course, there were the few exceptions but that is another story for another day.

 

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Just in case you didn’t believe me. Tabuk really does exist on modern maps. photo from yahoo

 

Next up is one of the worst experiences in human history. Until then, keep on rockin!

 

https://robakers.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/tabukan-introduction/

 

 

Vern Norrgard

Agile Coach, Photographer and Video

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