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Winding Down.

So my trip is winding down here and it’s been fantastic.  This country is absolutely gorgeous and I definitely recommend it to all.  Along the way I abseiled (fast roping, rappelling) off a 1000m peak, I’ve swam with Great White Sharks, tracked lions through the African Bush, Jumped the highest bungee jump in the world, paddled out into the world famous Supertubes, and I’ve experienced a little of the culture here.   Overall not a particularly relaxing vacation but enjoyable all the same.

Fear is Temporary, Regret is Forever

The bridge I jumped off

Bloukrans Bridge

Me Falling

Bad Ass Jump

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township.

Oh internet. Sweet internet.  How I’ve missed thee.  For the very frist time on my journey I finally have internet.  Over the next few days I’ll be recapping my adventures through the African wilderness.  First up.  Cape Town.

I had an opportunity to explore some of the “townships”  Surrounding Cape Town proper.  It’s incredible the degree of poverty these people still live in to this day.

A picture of children playing in front of a handbuilt “shack”

Our guide was a gentleman that was born and raised in the township and he knew everyone there it seemed.  Also along the way we had an opportunity to stop into the local “pub” which was a stark black shack (due to the fires lit inside during the winter) with a few benches lining the walls.  At the pub I tasted some of the beer that the old woman brewed there and it actually wasn’t as bad as I had expected.  The beer was a little gritty with a sour aftertaste but not too bad.  There they drink according to tradition.  There is a large bucket in the center of the room and you pay a fee which enables you to drink as much as you want from the bucket all day.  No glasses, no tables, no problem.  Fun times.  Before we left we visited a local elementary school where as soon as the children saw us they came running to hug us.  Well all except the ones behind bars..

and the box boy..

anyways it was all very cute.  The townships are a difficult problem to solve but with the stopping of new shacks that can be built and more government funded construction hopefully these children won’t have to endure this for too much longer.

..now try actually standing where I took this picture.  More on Facebook.

On Cape Town

I’m currently in Stellenbosh sitting in front of a computer that looks like it’s from the 80’s.  The place I’m staying, while coming highly recommended feels like somewhere my grandma would love.  Luckily I’ll only be here the night and I’m on my way. 

This place is simply amazing.  Coming to Cape Town and getting a car straight away was a little overwhelming.   Coming from podunk Iraq into metropolitan Cape Town was a little bit of a culture shock.  Driving on the other side of the road is still really odd and I catch myself every once in a while wanting to go the wrong way down the road.  Also the roads are way to narrow.  They say its similar to european driving but eff that.  It’s a little stressful at times.  I keep seeing cars and thinking “..no he’s not going to make it..hey wow he actually did.”  Because of this craziness though my car got hit..  Yea my rental has a big scratch on the side and the mirror has a little paint from the other car.  It was parked and I guess someone sideswiped it driving by.  No worries though.  I’m sure it’ll all work out.  Right?  Oh just in case you’re interested, first gear is toward the left still and reverse is the last (or first) gear all the way to the left. .weird. 

So what I’ve done so far.  Actually not a whole lot.  I’ve just been taking it slow and relaxing.  I did go to the famed Table Mountain for a bit.  I’ll try to post pictures when I can.  It’s breathtaking up there.  You ride a cable car up to the top and you can see over Cape Town and down the coast a bit.  Being the adrenaline junkie that I am I just had to jump off the side, and jump I did (well repel actually).  Here it’s called abseiling and it was supremely invigorating.  At first it was a little unsettling because there was really no demo.  The guy just hooked me up to the harness, said don’t ever let go of this rope, and down I went.  The drop was about 112m or about 367 feet and about half way down the cliff I was bouncing off cut in sharply and I just fast roped to the bottom.  Crazy times.  What they didn’t tell me though was getting back to the top involved a 30 minute hike.  Now when I say hike I really mean climb.  Pulling myself over boulders and the like all one step to my right was an impressive fall to the base of the mountain.  Are they effing crazy?  I do admit though it was pretty sweet.  After playing on the mountain and becoming a tomato I went and explored some shops. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to explore some of the townships (read, ghettos) around Cape Town  2/3 of the population live in these “shanty towns” surrounding the city centre (see I’m adapting already).  It’s incredible the poverty and conditions these people are forced to live in.  I’ll share more on this later when I have some time.  I’m on a shared computer but despite the antique furniture and smell of death in the air I hear there’s WIFI so I may get on later and post pictures.

Cheers,

-m.scott

 

p.s.  Shout out to my people in Iraq and beautiful VA. PEACE!

..the pit of dispair

I have literally been awake since 0530 on the 3rd.  I effing hate this place.  Much of my pre trip buzz has all but fizzled out.  This a pointless post but for the time being I’m just Kuwait..ing.

From the Crescent to the Cradle

Yesterday I began my odyssey from the once Fertile Crescent to the Cradle of Civilization [whether or not these places are historically collocated is beside the point..at least it sounds poetic.]  This arduous 4 to 5 day journey, should everything go smoothly (which is rare in the Army), will terminate in the beautiful vistas of South Africa.  I’ve got big plans for my 2 week convalescence in the Mother Land (it’s where we all came from right?).  In any case, I am excited to say the least and even a little bit nervous with some of the challenges that await me.  For one, I’ve never driven a manual right hand drive car on the left side of the road. Weird.  Is first gear still toward your knee?  Also, the prospect of launching myself 15 stories off the highest single span arch bridge in the world gives me pause for mild trepidation.  Or perhaps I wil find the limit of my derring-do in submerging myself in chummed waters awaiting a rare visit from a great white shark.  We’ll see how the cojones hold up to those and more adventures soon to come.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated, my avid and attentive readers, pending the discovery of broadband internet or wifi-hotspots in this wild and ancient land.

Stay Classy San Diego,

SGT Michael L. Scott

M.I. Do or Die. Hooah!

battle studies..how appropriate.

oh and merry f*cking christmas

on why I joined the Army

I keep revisiting this topic for reasons I haven’t quite pinned down.  Maybe the fact that it’s only now that I’m really discovering the underlying motives that’s unsettling.   What are these motives you ask?  Well thanks for asking! Here’s is what I’ve discovered.

For the majority of my life I’ve never really had to work all that hard at being where I want to be.  I’ve been thrusted into positions and places sort of naturally and because of that I’m an admittedly a little lazy at times.  Somewhere along the line, probably my junior or senior year in college I began questioning what the hell I was doing.  [I know a little late on the uptake]  I was going to school to go to school.  Placing my trust in some degree, a piece of paper.  What the hell does that mean anyways?  The whole education system is something completely different than what it was intended to be oh so many years ago.  Most of us go to college after high school because it just seems the natural thing to do.  Even society perpetuates the idea that without a college degree you will never amount to anything.  Once in college we then decide what degree to take, again for the majority [some of us go into the game knowing we want to be surgeons].  Common sense would tell us that something practical like a degree in Business or Science would best benefit our future.  Again, basing a decision on some social construct of what a sucessful life should be.  Not to demean these degrees, but more so to examine the motivations behind our decisions.  Putting the subsurface drivers under the microscope so to speak.  Suddenly degrees like psychology and history are relegated to a  lower rung in the social order of the university.   For you history majors, how often have you been asked the question “what are you going to do with that degree?” The appropriate answer is either lawyer, professor, or some other seemingly honorable profession.  Why make excuses.  My point in this rant is to say that for myself, it has become difficult to play the game anymore.  Luckily, I’m almost done with the whole charade [fingers crossed] but for you underclassmen, I’d urge you to really examine why you are doing what you’re doing.

With my jaded apathy toward my college ‘education’ and with no other natural progression in my life, it was time for a change.  I could no longer rely on my luck to land me somewhere and I cannot play Christian for my livelihood.  [well unless I became a pastor…me? pastor? haha what a disaster that’d be.]

::enter Uncle Sam::

Here I am.  It’s 2007 and I’m 2/3 complete with my degree and I’ve vowed to support and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  At its surface this is a completely random decision at a completely random time but inside I knew somehow that this is exactly what I needed to do.  The natural progression of my childhood was over and it was time to put in some hard work if I was going to ever find peace in my life.  The chase was on.

::in a galaxy far, far away::

I completed basic training and survived the rigors of  bravo school [US Army all source intelligence school].  I was ready and eager to test my meddle in battle.  From the day I enlisted to the day I got the call I was ready, willing, and able to go to war..or so I thought.  Iraq really does feel like a whole other galaxy.  Sometimes I can’t believe I’m here and sometimes I catch myself falling into the “I just want to go home” mentality.  But this is exactly what I wanted.  Exactly what I need.  A retreat of sorts.  All of the comforts and familiarities of home are gone and all thats left is me to sort out the pieces.  War is a universal experience spanning every civilization across the history of the world.  The realities of this unfortunately permanent human invention have been experienced and weighed by both the greatest of minds and well guys like myself.  Thrust into this and seeing it first hand is an experience I will not soon forget.  Unfortunately most my my comrades rarely openly discuss the implications of such an experience on all of our lives but I know it sits heavily with even the most experienced of soldiers here.  I only have two options.  Let this destroy me and walk away with a lifetime of mental disorders or let it refine me and walk away with a unique [at least where we come from] perspective on human nature.

::wrapping up::

If you’ve managed to make it through this far, I congratulate you.   I just want to leave you with a couple thoughts:

1. Why.  This is the single most destructive question one will ever encounter.  Many claim it is responsible to mankind’s exile from the garden and the reason we now suffer as we do.   However difficult or problematic this question might be in you life, never stop asking it.  The moment we stop asking why is the moment we cease to truly live.

2.  (Superman – Kryptonite) / [(Jack Bauer + Michael Scofield) * John Mayer]  Jesus?   …what a quandry.

F*ck

I had initially wanted to write about relationships and marriage but after writing a couple of pages on the subject I’ve decided that perhaps these thoughts are best left unsaid for the moment. Instead I’m going to explore the philosophy of my life.

Do until you understand to do not.

Too long have I lived my life in fear. Fear of disappointing my family, friends, God. This fear has forced me to act a certain way and remain within certain boundaries. For what? I have a whole laundry list of things I cannot do..

  • don’t smoke
  • don’t drink
  • don’t have sex
  • don’t do drugs
  • don’t swear
  • don’t wear white after labor day

I’m sure most of you resonate with this somewhat. I don’t have a lot of time to really get into the nitty gritty but telling me ‘thou shall not..’ really doesn’t cut it.

::F*ck::

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

We all know that we shouldn’t curse or swear right? I mean the Bible clearly tells us not to let any unclean thing come out of our mouth, how the tongue has the power to destroy, etc. So many of us choose to tailor our language to accommodate this rule. My issue with this and so many other teaching is that the why is never really investigated. Sure theres always some cursory explanation about how its God’s will, the Bible says so, or some other shallow excuse. Why should we not swear? Take the word ‘F*ck’ [courtesy edit, see I’m not heartless]. Why remove this from our vocabulary? Not talking about for propriety’s sake but the total omission from the English language. Some would argue that the word is unclean and that it offends God. Take two scenarios:

  • A guy walks into his home and discovers his wife with another man. He then, in his anger, yells out the expletive.
  • A child just watched a movie in which the word was said repeatedly and he mimics what he heard.

Are the two the same? Are both ‘wrong?’ I’d argue absolutely not.

  • The man vocally projected his anger using the expletive.
  • The child had no clue to the meaning of the word and was just saying it out of nothing more than curiosity.

Many would have you believe that there is no difference in the two but any type of analysis would reveal that there is indeed a vast difference. I would take the argument a step farther and offer that the wrongness of the man and the lack of wrongness of the child rests not in the language being used, but in the underlying intentions driving the expression. Violence vs. curiosity. So you see that language is not the issue. It is in the underlying motivation that the wrongness or lack thereof lies. You can commit a wrong in this sense without ever using one of these taboo words. Thoughts?

new post.

It has been entirely too long since my last post here.  I find myself writing things here and there but alas I fall prey to the blogger’s dilemma..do I post an incomplete thought?  or do I not post at all.

I suppose I have some catching up to do so let me bring you up to speed.  I have arrived and dug in here in Iraq.   I came not really knowing what to expect so I wasn’t too disappointed arriving here.  At first things were really difficult.  The hours are long, the work is difficult and ambiguous at times, and I felt incredibly alone in it all.  A few months into this gig and things have started to level out.  I’m still working long hours but I’m getting better at my job so it’s bearable.

What I find myself thinking about constantly is the old adage that “no one returns from war the same as when they went.”  How will/have I changed?  Can I effect certain changes in a positive direction?  What do I want to change?

This is a totally different environment than the laid back college life that I left behind.  Here there is no oops I overslept, no I’ll get to that later, no “inclement weather plan” [maybe thats a VCU thing…or a dudes from Virginia Beach that live in Monroe Park Towers Apt 1210 thing..].  The stress that I feel everyday makes me want to collapse at times and often,  I can feel the onset of a panic attack.  Overall though I can feel myself being hardened and focused.  I’ll expand more later

more thoughts to come:

  • more on war
  • love and marriage
  • tobacco