Archive for November, 2004

Rainbow Connection

When I and the other new recruits arrived for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, we were referred to as “rainbows”.  This was due to the fact that, while everyone else on the base was wearing the same camouflage uniforms, we were all still wearing civilian clothes.

It was our first lesson in how to survive basic training:  Don’t be different.

Our civilian clothes were essentially big, colorful signs that said, “Please yell at me, I’m new here.”  Basic training instructors are not people who need much encouragement in that area.  It seemed like everyone on the base took time out of his or her busy schedule to accommodate us on that first day.

We weren’t carrying our luggage properly, we needed haircuts, we were bad dressers, we didn’t know how to march, we were funny looking, we didn’t know our left from our right, we sweated too much, we were breathing too loudly, we needed to shut up, we were too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat, and we were daring to look people in the eye.  Essentially, they wanted us to know that we were a bunch of worthless maggots who would never make good airmen.

It was a long day, but the sun finally tired of watching us get chewed out.  It snuck behind the horizon and darkness mercifully fell on Lackland AFB.

We were herded into the dayroom of our dormitory and told to wait.  We sat in the air-conditioned room and waited, each of us now quietly hating our sweaty, salty, wrinkled civilian attire.

Our Technical Instructor (TI) came into the room and commanded us all to remove our shirts.

We were then assigned positions of leadership in our flight (like a platoon, but for the Air Force) based upon our individual levels of fitness.  The guy who was in the best shape was anointed the flight leader.  Four guys who were slightly less fit than the flight leader were named squad leaders.

I was designated as one of 4 road guards.  To put it politely, road guards were the unfortunate people who needed a little extra attention in the area of physical fitness.

Whenever the flight marched anywhere, there would be two road guards in front of the formation and two road guards behind it.  The job of the road guard was to stop traffic at any cross street that the flight happened to pass while marching.  We were the members of the flight that the TI was most willing to throw in front of moving cars.

 The next morning, before the flight was to get our uniforms and haircuts, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the dining hall.  In the dining hall, it was necessary for all trainees to walk past the table full of instructors, known as the “snake pit”.

I was walking past the snake pit with a group of my fellow rainbows, when one of the instructors shouted “HEY RAINBOW!” at us.  One of the rainbows that had been designated as a squad leader turned to look at the instructor.

He actually asked, “Who, me?” Just like that, he had been designated as the instructors’ breakfast entertainment.

When they were finished with my friend the squad leader, his tray was on the floor, his food was on his shirt, and he was busy saluting a wall in the corner of the room.

It was at that moment that I knew I would be able to finish basic training.  I may have been a rainbow and a road guard, but I certainly knew enough not to look up when an instructor was fishing for someone to yell at.

Back in the Day Tim 12 Nov 2004 No Comments

Hot Flashes

Some random thoughts and observations that have occurred to me recently: 

…This morning I woke up at 6:00, then 6:09, 6:18, and finally at 6:27.  I find myself doing this all the time, yet I refuse to simply set the alarm for 6:27 and enjoy the uninterrupted sleep.  For some reason, it’s important that I have the option of waking up early and getting a head start on the day, even though I haven’t done it for about 300 straight days.  There should be a study of how beneficial those extra 9 minutes of snooze button sleep actually are, because they sure do seem important at 6:00…

…The news shows are doing their annual stories about the flu vaccine shortage.  The vaccine shortage story is becoming an annual feature in the news, much like the Red Sox equipment truck leaving for spring training.  I quickly looked up flu vaccine shortages on the Internet, and found articles describing flu vaccine shortages in 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004.  These articles all encouraged healthy people to delay or skip their annual flu shots.  In 2002, when there was no shortage, the articles I found explained how important it was for everyone to get vaccinated…

…Speaking of flu vaccines, there are people who insist that a flu shot gave them the flu, or at least a bad cold.  There is a second group that insists that it is completely impossible for a flu vaccine to make anyone sick.  This second group uses technical terms like “dead virus” and they sound very convincing, but why would the first group lie about something like that?  Maybe they should battle the whole thing out on “Family Feud”…

…I live in Massachusetts, known throughout the country as a bastion of liberalism and a stronghold of the Democratic Party.  Besides the governor, there are very few Republicans holding elected positions in the state.  Despite all of this, the most popular talk radio shows out of Boston are incredibly conservative.  What am I missing here?…

…The Red Sox are in the playoffs again, but the schedule of their games is going to get me fired.  The schedule goes like this:  Leave work early to watch the 4pm game on Tuesday, stay up way too late to watch the 10pm game on Wednesday, leave work early to watch the 4pm game on Friday.  It’s a good thing that my boss is a big Red Sox fan…

…There’s nothing like staying up too late watching playoff baseball, then rushing out the door the next morning, only to have to stop and scrape the frost from my car windows.  It looks like I’ll need to wake up at 6:18 from now on…

…Lastly, I recently found out that a kid who grew up down the street from me in Northborough is now a professional comedian.  Tim Kaelin and I used to make prank phone calls together, and now he’s getting paid to perform in comedy clubs all over New England.  Jealous?  Me?  Naah.  To read Tim’s rants and for a schedule of his performances, check out his web site at…

The Day to Day Grind Tim 07 Nov 2004 No Comments