Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Since getting let go from Wavelink back in February of 2008, I had been working part-time and struggling with bills. I was 2 or 3 months behind on my car payment and my rent to my landlords - my best friend Del and his wife Kim, who had treated me like family. I was getting depressed but I wasn't motivated bad enough to get more work. I guess you could say that being miserable was my comfort zone, if that makes any sense.

On September 13th, Hurricane Ike hit Galveston, TX. Because I wanted to help the people in Galveston and I needed to make some good money to get caught up on bills, I did some searching at and Houston's Craigslist for Hurricane Ike security jobs. I applied for a couple of security jobs down there. A company called Classic Security which was a subcontractor for Corporate Security Solutions (C.S.S. - the contractor that has the contract with F.E.M.A.) offered me a job. Chris Wilden, my instructor for my bodyguard course, told me that I shouldn't work for C.S.S. He explained that while he was doing security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, some guys that were hired by C.S.S. quit working for C.S.S. and came to work for the company that he was working for. They told him that C.S.S. gets you to come down to the disaster area for work but might not have work for you right away. While you're waiting to be put on a post, you don't get paid. After he told me that, I decided not to go.

About a week later, I talked to Mike (the one from my church that took the bodyguard course with me) and Jim, one of the Associate Pastors at my church, Calvary Chapel S.L.C. Mike told me that I should take advantage of the opportunity to work down there. Jim prayed with me and told me that he thought it would be a good opportunity for me to make some money and get caught up on bills. I called C.S.S. and Classic Security back and asked them about standby pay. They both told me that I would be getting paid 8 hours per day for every day that I was on standby waiting to get put on a job site. I called my Aunt Beverly, told her about the opportunity, and asked her if she could buy me a ticket for a flight down to Houston. She did buy me a round trip ticket and I was very grateful. The day before my flight to Texas, I pawned my computer and my gun (they told me that I wouldn't need it because they were going to issue me a gun) to pay some bills. I assumed that I would make enough money to get them out when I got back from Texas. The night before my flight left, I ran into Trent, who was one of the owners of Club Exchange when I worked there, and told him that I was going down to Houston to do security for F.E.M.A. He offered to rent me a car through his corporate account if I could pay him back when I got back. I thanked him for that.

On Friday, October 10th I flew down to Houston, TX. After I got my rental car, I went to the C.S.S. office in Houston to check in. They sent me down to the F.E.M.A. camp at Galveston where I waited to be posted. The F.E.M.A. camp was a big tent city. There was one huge tent where almost everyone (male and female) slept. It was a bunch of us security guys, a few guys that worked for the company responsible for making credentials for everyone at the camp, some F.E.M.A. employees, some AmeriCorps people, some Salvation Army and Red Cross people, and some people that were with various Christian organizations. There were some smaller tents where some ladies were able to sleep and get more privacy. There was another tent for the cafeteria, a couple of trailers for us to take showers in, some trailers with sinks and mirrors along the side, a tent for the laundry service, and a bunch of porta-pottys. In addition to all of that, they also had a TV tent (with satellite TV and a DVD player), a workout tent, and an internet tent (with computers and a wireless connection). This tent city was at a small airport in Galveston, which is a small town on an island off of the coast of Texas. Galveston was ruined by Hurricane Ike.

I met some awesome people while I was down there. Cal, who was with the company that made credentials for everyone at the camp, is a cool Christian guy, former Green Beret, and writer. There was another cool guy that worked for the same company as Cal but I don't remember his name. I met some great Christian men and women that were there with a Christian organization that helped men and women get their lives back on track. They served us in the cafeteria. I went to a local church with some of the guys from that group. I met a great lady named Dolly who I met in the internet tent. I helped her set up an email account and showed her how to use it because she was new to computers. She was down there volunteering with the Salvation Army.

After being on standby for 6 days and being passed up for job postings which were filled by people hired directly by C.S.S. (cheaper for them than paying a sub-contractor to pay me), I was told that I wouldn't be getting standby pay. I called both Classic Security and C.S.S. on the 7th day to ask why they weren't paying me standby pay like they both told me they would. They both just passed the buck - Classic Security said they couldn't pay me if C.S.S. didn't pay them and C.S.S. said that their policy changed after I went down there. Classic Security also told me that C.S.S. was closing job sites and letting people go. Since Trent had rented me a car on his corporate account and I wasn't going to be paid, I couldn't afford to continue to pay for a rental car while not making any money so I decided to cut my losses and come home the next day. The last 3 days that I was there I went with Dolly and handed out meals with the Salvation Army. I was grateful for the opportunity to serve. So I came back to Utah more broke than when I went down there, owing Trent for the rental car, and didn't have enough money to get my computer and gun out of the pawn shop. Having seen people that were homeless because of Hurricane Ike, I couldn't really feel sorry for myself but I definitely wasn't happy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

STG Bodyguard Course

On August 8-10, while I was still working at Club Orange and Mountain Mike's Pizza, I took Strategic Tactical Group's Executive Protection/ Bodyguard course. Mike, who volunteers for the Security ministry with me at Calvary Chapel S.L.C. and studies Krav Maga, is the one that told me about the course. Our instructor was Chris Wilden. The first day was an introduction to EP work followed by EP Pistol Craft and choreography on the gun range (check out my highlights here). The 2nd day started out with a mock protective detail where Chris was our client. He wanted to go to the Farmer's Market at Pioneer Park. I was assigned to be "loose Security" which means I was further away from the client so I wouldn't draw attention to him. This means that I had to try to be inconspicuous, which was a challenge for me. After the mock detail we had First Aid training, handcuff training, ASP baton training, and O.C./ pepper spray combat training.

You can check out the video of my pepper spray combat training here. We had to get sprayed with the pepper spray and then attack a guy holding a foam shield with a foam ASP baton. There was some regular pepper spray that our instructor sprayed everyone else with but I asked him to spray me with Fox Labs pepper spray, which is the hottest pepper spray on the market. As soon as I got sprayed, I closed my eyes. I was expecting it to "kick-in" but it didn't really hurt. After I had my eyes closed for 10 seconds, Chris told me to open them. When I opened them, I could feel the pepper spray on my eye balls. It irritated my eyes kind of like having shampoo in your eyes so I closed my eyes for another 10 seconds. It still didn't hurt so I opened my eyes, kept them open, and attacked the guy with a foam ASP baton. Then I dropped the baton, closed my eyes, and let Chris spray my face with a hose attached to a container with a hand pump. After they sprayed my face off, I kneeled down in the grass for about 15 minutes and then got up and let the wind dry my eyes out. Chris later said that he has only seen one guy take getting sprayed better than me.

After everyone was done getting sprayed, we went down to the first floor of the clubhouse and waited for Chris's friend Brandon that did Security at the apartment complex we were in to let us out. He had locked the door since the clubhouse and office were closed on the weekend. As we were waiting there, some guy came up to the door and told us that the apartment building across from the clubhouse was on fire. We didn't see any fire but we told him to call the fire department. When Chris's friend let us out I called the fire department. Then me, Brandon, and one of the other guys from the Bodyguard course, Kyle (he's helping Chris in my pepper spray video) went up to the apartment on the 3rd floor that the guy said was on fire. The apartment that the tenant had told us about was on the street side of the building. Kyle stuck his head out the hall window and saw smoke coming out of a window in the apartment. I knocked hard on the door a couple of times but no one answered. Kyle, Brandon, Chris, and me started going door-to-door on each floor telling people to get out because there was a fire. When the firemen showed up they used an axe to open the door and found some food on the stove that someone had left cooking. The burnt food was causing the smoke - there was no fire. I stood by the back door to keep people out until the firemen got done using some fans to blow the smoke out of the building. After the firemen said that it was O.K. for the tenants to come back in, I stood outside talking with Chris, Brandon, and Kyle. Right after Kyle mentioned something about the smoke aggravating the pepper spray in our eyes, my eyes started to water a little bit. I sat in my car for a few minutes and then drove home.

Sunday morning we had some more classroom time (marketing, networking, etc.). Then Chris briefed us on our "final exam" which was another mock detail. He said that our "primary client" was a model from Park City and our "secondary client" was her rockstar boyfriend. She had chosen Brooke, the only lady in our class, to be the protective detail leader. Chris released us to go to lunch and do an advance at the Gateway Mall, where our client wanted to go shopping that afternoon. We all went to lunch at the Gateway mall where Brooke gave us our assignments. She chose Kyle, who is a prison guard in Pocatello, ID and Steve, who is a martial arts instructor at Bushi Ban in American Fork, UT to work "close Security" with her. Since she was the protective detail leader, she would be right next to the primary client at all times. Mike, Eric (Kyle's brother), and I would be "loose Security". Mike and I would be the getaway drivers if an attack happened. We only had a couple of radios so we were relying on cell phones for communication.

We met our clients at the valet parking in the Gateway Mall. It was hard for me to be "loose Security" because I am used to being "close Security". After a while, Eric told me that I was staying too close and was being too obvious. I slowly got further and further away. I didn't find out until later but Mike and Steve had taken the secondary client sightseeing nearby when the "attack" on our primary "client" happened. Our primary "client" and the "close Security" were out of sight because there was a semi parked between me and them. I happened to call Eric right after the "attack" went down and I rushed over to be point man as we escorted our "primary client" to Mike in his car. When we loaded our "client" into the car, Chris let us know that the mock detail was over. We all met at a restaurant at the mall where Chris let us know that our "primary client" (the model from Park City) was actually his sister. We also met the "attacker". Chris critiqued us and then gave us our certificates. Then Chris treated us to dinner.

I felt like I had let Eric's opinion cause me to let myself get too far way from our client. Although I was able to backup the "close Security" right after the "attack", I felt like I should have been doing "close Security" so it was hard for me to be comfortable with doing "loose Security". The fact that we didn't all have radios made it difficult to communicate.

The course was very helpful to me. I learned a lot and had fun. Our class was a fun group of people. Most of us have connected on Facebook.

A few days after the course, I was talking to Mike about how to be more accurate with my handgun so he told me about trigger control. When I Googled "trigger control" just now, I found an article called "The trigger control fallacy". This article says that PIP (pre-ignition push) affects accuracy more than trigger control. I wonder what Mike thinks about that. I'll have to pay attention to both when I'm shooting.

A couple`weeks after the Bodyguard course I got hired to do Security at the Valley Fair Mall. To make a long story short, I quit after 3 or 4 days. I didn't want to work at a job where I was only supposed to observe and report. I quit one day after they wrote me up for chasing a shoplifter. After I quit there, I went back to working at Mountain Mike's. I was also still working Security at Club Orange. I had brought on Brian Servatius, who used to be the Head of Security at Shaggy's and worked with me at Bliss, and his friend Steve, who used to work at Vortex, to help me at Club Orange because business had remained constant on Wednesday nights. In my next blog post I'll talk about the experience that I had when I went to Texas to do Security for F.E.M.A. during the Hurricane Ike clean-up.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Keys On Main

I started working at Keys On Main in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb 29th. Keys On Main is a dueling piano bar. I had found out that they were hiring through Craigslist. Ephraim, who had worked at Vortex and Bliss with me, was working there. There were 4 to 5 Security guys working there on weekends. We had 3 guys working the front door. We had one to check IDs and two behind the front desk - one to sell memberships, and the other to take cover charge and stamp. When I started working there it was me, Ephraim, Bob (the owner's father-in-law), and 2 guys from California - Nick and Jaren. After a month or two Bob left to go back home to Alaska and was replaced by Adam, who was in the Air Force Security Forces. Around this time Joe a.k.a. "Boston", who also worked at Bliss, got hired to fill-in when one of us needed a night off.

For the first few months, because we were the new night club in town, our Friday nights were busy and our Saturday nights were packed to the point where we had a line until 12:30 or so. After a few months it died down a little but Fridays were fairly busy and Saturdays were busy but not packed like they were when I first started.

We rarely had any serious problems there but there were a lot of people that were overserved. Although Josh, the General Manager, brought this up almost every night in our meetings at the end of the night, there was no disciplinary action taken so the staff continued to overserve people.
There were two customers that I had interesting experiences with. The first one, a lady that I'll call Clueless was standing in the front of the line with her friends when we were holding the line on a Saturday night because we had reached capacity. When checking IDs, I would stand just outside of the front doors of the club. Since we were holding the line and I had told the people in line that we were holding the line, I stepped just inside of the doors for a few minutes because it was cold outside. A minute or two after I stepped inside, Clueless came in and tried to run past me. I grabbed her by the arm to keep her from going past me but she tried to keep going so I just held onto her. I asked her where she was going. She told me that she had to use the restroom. I told her that we were holding the line so she would have to wait outside. When Jaren, who was working behind the counter walked up to us, Clueless read his name tag and said "I know Jaren." Jaren told her that she needed to go back outside. I told her to go back outside two times and when she refused, I moved her outside. A couple of minutes after I got her outside, Clueless tried to get past me again. After 5 minutes or so, Josh told us that we could start letting people in again. I then told Clueless's friends that they could come in but told Clueless that she wasn't going to. I began checking her friends's IDs and Clueless tried to go past me. I stopped her and told her that she wasn't coming in. She said "Yes, I am" and tried to move past me again. I grabbed her again to keep her from moving past me and she pinched me as if that was going to make me let go of her. I then pushed her back a little bit. I told her to leave but she refused. I didn't want to deal with her any more so I threatended to call the cops on her, hoping that she would just leave. She didn't so I called the cops, expecting to call them back once she got scared off and tell them that they didn't need to come. A couple of her friends had more sense than she did. One of her girl friends started walking her away from the front door. That friend's guy friend asked me to call the cops back and cancel the call. I told him that as soon as Clueless was out of sight, I would call them. So when her friends walked her out of sight, I called the cops and told them that Clueless had left. Shortly thereafter the cops showed up because Clueless had called the cops complaining about me. I explained what happened and they asked me for my driver's license. I gave it to them, they wrote down my info, and I never heard about it again.

Another customer, who I'll call Sleepy, was in line one night when I was working the ID spot. He was in the back of a group of 5 or 6 people so I wasn't paying too much attention to him. About 10 minutes after Sleepy entered the club, the Bar Manager, Dave, waved me over to the bar and told me that the guy at the end of the bar was falling asleep. They guy he was talking about was Sleepy. I approached Sleepy, told him that I thought he had drank too much so he needed to finish his beer and then leave. He said "How do I know you haven't been drinking?" I said "...or you can be a wise guy and leave now." Then I walked him outside and offered to call him a cab but he declined. There was no line so I stood just inside of the front doors. One of the doors was propped open. About 5 minutes after I walked him outside, Sleepy tried to walk back into the club. I stepped in his way and he raised his lighted cigarette butt towards my face so I grabbed his wrist, took the cigarette butt from him, threw it on the ground, and pushed him back. Sleepy decided to call the cops. When the cops showed up, they talked to Sleepy first since he was the one that called them. Dave saw the cops talking to Sleepy so he came out to see what was going on. I told Dave that Sleepy had called the cops. Dave went inside and brought Josh outside. After the police were done talking to Sleepy, they talked to Josh and I. They told us that Sleepy had complained that I pushed him when he tried to re-enter the club. They had told him that it was my job to keep drunk people from re-entering the club and told him to leave. They told Josh and me to call them if Sleepy came back and they would arrest him for public intoxication.

Some time in June I ran into Kodi, who had been a regular customer at Todd's and Vortex. He is a bartender and chef at Orange, a night club in Salt Lake City. He asked me if I wanted to come work Security there. I went down to Orange to check it out the following Wednesday, which was their only busy night at the time. Kodi introduced me to the owners and recommended that they hire me to do Security. I created a MySpace for Orange to help promote the club. Two weeks after Kodi introduced me to the owners I started working there.

At the end of every night at Keys On Main, after all of the customers were gone, we always had a Security meeting with Josh in the office. On Saturday, July 12th, while I was watching the front door waiting for the last few customers to leave, Josh took the rest of the Security guys back to the office for the Security meeting. I thought that it was odd that he didn't wait for me. After all of the customers were gone and I locked the door, I went back to the office. They were finishing the Security meeting so I asked Josh what I missed. He told me to sit down. I assumed that he was going to fill me in on what I missed. Instead he informed me that things weren't working out and he was going to let me go. I asked why. He told me that they had received too many complaints about me. He said that some people were never going to come back because of me (so troublemakers not wanting to come back is a bad thing?!). He also said that I was talking to people too much (so I'm a friendly person that has had too many complaints?!; if a person has been doing Security in night clubs for 12 years, that person might know a few people that want to say "Hi" when they see a familiar face - so being approachable is bad?!). He also said that some of the employees complained about me. Some of the waitresses would get mad when customers wanted to pull tables together and one waitress would lose a table. I did my best to keep the waitresses and the customers happy. Sometimes a waitress might be having a bad night and complain about me - big deal. I did more to help the waitresses and customers than any other employee. Maybe if Josh was out on the floor helping the customers and waitresses instead of sitting on his butt in the office, he would be the one that the employees were complaining about. He also said that we were butting heads {you mean an opionated go-getter (me) that has been in the business for 12 years is butting heads with a manager that has only been in the business for 3 or 4 years? - you don't say!} I asked George, the owner what he thought about Josh's decision and he gave me some lame answer about backing up the General Manager. The real reason that Josh let me go was that he felt threatened by me because I am confident and don't say "Mother may I?" every time I see an opportunity to help a waitress or a customer - I just go ahead and do it. Oh well, it was their loss. I still had my job at Orange.

A couple of weeks after Keys On Main let me go, I got hired to be a delivery driver at Mountain Mike's Pizza. Although I kept looking for other jobs, I worked part-time at Orange and Mountain Mike's from July until October. From August 8-10 I took an Executive Protection/ Bodyguard course from Strategic Tactical Group.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My First Trip to L.A.

After working Security at Sundance, I went back to work at Wavelink. I got a credit card from my credit union, bought the parts for a computer from, and built a computer with the help of some of my co-workers at Wavelink.

I kept in touch with Emily and Jake in the weeks after Sundance. In the beginning of February Emily invited me to come out to L.A. for a Stupid Cupid Party, which is a party for people who are single on Valentine's day. I flew out there on Friday, Feb 15th. Jake's new boyfriend, A.J. €picked me up from the airport. A.J. took me to Emily and Jake's friend, Boss Ben's house which is where we were having the party. Ben is a cool guy and a great host! Friday night we just hung out & watched TV and then went to bed.

Saturday we got up, ate breakfast, and then ran errands to get ready for the party. Emily and Jake hired a D.J. and a bartender for the party. I don't remember the bartender's name but she was sweet and beautiful. She competed in the Miss America pagent this year. Jake introduced me to the bartender and told her to let me know if anyone was bothering her. Emily and Jake introduced me to their close friends and told them that I was Security for the party. During the party I kept an eye on Emily, Jake, A.J., Ben, the bartender, and the D.J.; kept an eye on the front door to make sure that everyone that came was invited; kept people out of rooms that they weren't supposed to be in; mingled & took pictures. We only had 1 incident - as the party was winding down two brothers got into an argument because one of them, the younger one, was really drunk and was spitting on the floor. The more sober brother told him to quit and when he got mouthy, the older brother punched his little brother. I seperated them. Then Jake came out to see what the problem was. The drunk brother knocked her drink out of her hand so I grabbed him and took him outside. Then I kept the brothers from fighting outside and got them into their car. After most of the guests were gone, I went to bed.

Sunday we just went swimming and hung out by the pool. Emily, Jake, and A.J. had stayed up all night partying so they all crashed in the middle of the afternoon. Barbie Murdock was going to pick me up and take me back to the airport but she got stuck in traffic because of an accident on the highway so she didn't make it there in time to pick me up. Once I realized that she wasn't going to make it on time to take me to the airport, I called her and told her not to worry about it. I called the airline to get my flight changed. It was going to cost more than $700 to fly out on Monday, but only the change fee of $100 or so to fly out on Tuesday. I called my supervisor at Wavelink and left him a message letting him know that I had missed my flight and wouldn't be able to make it back to work until Wednesday because the flight on Monday was too expensive.

On Monday Emily and I returned the kegs from the party. Then we went to her and Jake's apartment for a little bit. In the afternooon we went to Cabo Cantina in Venice Beach. Jake, A.J., and a few of Emily and Jake's friends met us there. We got a table on the patio and drank and ate until late that night. The weather was great and I really enjoyed spending the day there with Emily, Jake and their friends. After we were done, we went back to Emily and Jake's apartment and went to bed.

On Tuesday A.J. gave me a ride to the airport. My trip to L.A. was awesome! I really enjoyed hanging out with Emily, Jake, and A.J.!! When I went back to work on Wednesday morning, I got fired because I had frequently been late in the month before going to L.A. and missed 2 days because I missed my flight. I wanted to just move out to L.A. but since I had maxed out my credit card to build my computer, had gone negative on my checking account to change my flight, and didn't have a job lined up, I had to stay in Utah so I started looking for a job. I ended up getting hired to do Security at Keys On Main, a new piano bar in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sundance 2008

I did Security for Debbie Durkin's Main Event Red Carpet Lounge & Green Suite during Sundance Film Festival from January 18th until January 22nd. I didn't work at night this year because the Tao, who runs Harry O's during Sundance, hired a security company to supplement Harry O's core security guys and Debbie didn't have any private parties this year so I got to play a little bit. On Thursday, January 17th I drove up to the Hotel Park City, where Debbie was having orientation for her lounge . Emily, who worked for Patron during Sundance last year, was there again. She is a really cool chick and good-looking too. Johnny Smiles, who was the photographer for the lounge last year, was there again. He's a nice guy and a good photographer! Kristen and Becky, who worked for Debbie as a hostesses last year were there with a few friends. Brady, a.k.a. B-Loc, a D.J. from Entourage Entertainment was our D.J. again this year. Debbie told me that I could stay in the living room of her Penthouse Suite so I drove back down to Salt Lake City to get my clothes and stuff and then drove back up.

Debbie had received coupons for free breakfast at the hotel so on Friday morning Debbie, her three P.R. girls (Carrie, Jen, and Liz), and I ate breakfast together. Friday was fairly busy at the lounge. Kristen & Becky brought a few friends up to help out. Kristen & Becky are awesome and their friends were cool too. Kristen was married when we worked together last year but she got a divorce last year and has been dating Chris who she met at the lounge last year. Emily brought here cousin Jake with her to help work the Patron bar. Jake is gorgeous and really sweet.

The hotel staff at Hotel Park City was awesome. Catherine, who is in charge of conventions, and Donald, the bar manager for the steak house at Hotel Park City - Ruth's Chris were awesome. Catherine and I got along really well but she is married. Miguel, the conventions guy that worked the lounge the most, was a cool guy. I don't remember her name but the manger of Bandannas Bar & Grill at Hotel Park City was great too. She hooked me up with a really good Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. I also don't remember the name of the sales guy for conventions that helped us out a lot but he was cool too. All of the ladies from the Spa at Hotel Park City were really sweet.

At the end of the day on Friday, Sharon, who was working the WePluribus booth, told me that I scared her and asked if I knew why. I told her that I did and explained the difference between a protector and a sociopath. She asked me which one I am! I told her that I am a protector.

Friday night Kristen, Carrie, Liz, Jen, and I went out to eat at Bandits' Grill and Bar, which is across the street from Harry O's in Park City. On the way down there my phone's screen went white with a black leaf in the bottom right corner. Resetting it didn't resolve the problem. When we got to Bandit's I was happy to see that Jordan was working there. I met her last year at Sundance. She is an awesome, gorgeous chick. We waited at the bar in the basement of Bandits' until our booth was ready. The food was good and the service was great. After we finished eating we went dowstairs to wait for Chris (Kristen's boyfriend). While we were down there the power went out. I went upstairs and found out that the power was out on Main Street. We just waited it out. I had my flashlight with me because I was hoping to get a phone call from Steve Ketter, who I had been in contact with in the weeks preceding Sundance, to fill-in for security at Harry O's. I whipped it out and helped the waitresses get through the crowd and helped them see so they could write manual credit card receipts. I also quieted the crowd down and shined my flashlight on the bartender who was making an announcement about drink specials. We left after waiting for Chris for 30 minutes or so. As we walked down the hill to catch the shuttle back to the hotel, the power came back on.

Saturday morning I got up at 9 to let the maids in. I went online and found out that the Sprint store in Park City was only open from 11 AM until 7 PM. I worked every day during that time so I was going to have to wait until I got back to Salt Lake on Wednesday to get it fixed. Saturday was a little bit slower than Friday at the lounge.

Saturday night Kristen, her boyfriend Chris, Kristen's friends Brandon and Melissa (they're an awesome couple), Kristen's friend Miriam (I fell in love but she's married), Jen, Liz, and I went out together. We went to Bandits' again. When we went downstairs to wait for a booth, someone was leaving their booth downstairs and the booth next to them was leaving soon so I went up and took our name off the waiting list. Shortly after getting the second booth Jen's friend Casey Connor, and three of her friends joined us.

Earlier in the day Emily had invited us to Rehab @ House of Hype, which was a private party. After dinner we headed over to the House of Hype. Jen went with Casey and her friends to another private party next door to the House of Hype. I called Emily from Liz's phone. She hadn't arrived at the party yet because she was driving up and down Main St looking for parking. Most of the people we were with were getting cold so they stepped into a room next to the entrance of House of Hype to get warm. I was only wearing my suit coat but it wasn't too cold for me because I'm hardcore like that. :) Emily dropped Jake off and continued to look for parking. Jake told me that Emily had more pull so we should wait for her. Kristen and Chris got tired of waiting so they took off. Sharon and a couple of the other laides from the WePluribus booth, who Emily had also invited, showed up soon after Kristen and Chris left. After a little while Emily showed up and got us all in. Mariam and the WePluribus ladies didn't stay very long. Brandon, Mellissa, and Liz were relaxing on a couch around the time that Mariam and the WePluribus ladies left so I followed Emily and Jake around helping them through the crowd and keeping them safe. They enjoyed having their own bodyguard.

Sunday I got up earlier than usual to let the maids in because they had to clean before the hotel's catering people set up for the Birds of America brunch to benefit Friends of Animals. Matthew Perry and Lauren Graham, who both starred in Birds of America came for the brunch. After the brunch the lounge was slow. Sunday night Debbie took Johnny Smiles and me to J.P. DeJoria's private party. J.P. DeJoria is the founder of Patron and co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems. J.P. and his gorgeous wife were great hosts.

We had a good turnout at the lounge on Monday. Monday night Jake took me to Harry O's for the Tava launch party with performances by Keri Hilson and One Republic. The C.O.O. of Harry O's had invited Jake there so we got to sit in one of the V.I.P. areas. After a little while the C.O.O. took Jake to go smoke. After that he took her up on stage to watch the show. I just chilled in the V.I.P. area. It was a good show. I enjoyed the little bit of time that I was able to spend with Jake.

Tuesday was a little bit slow at the lounge but that was to be expected since it was the last day. The ladies from La-Teed-Da hooked me up with a candle and a reed diffuser. The ladies from WePluribus gave me a t-shirt. Mike from Tahitian Noni had kept me supplied with Hiro energy drinks all weekend. Over the weekend the guy from the Lamborghini watches booth had given me a sleeveless shirt. Dustin from Red Stag lodge gave me a case of Playboy energy drinks. Debbi had given me a bottle of Patron but someone stole it out of my duffle bag. After we closed the lounge and everyone loaded their stuff out Debbie treated Catherine, Donald, Carrie, Liz, Jen, and me to dinner. After dinner I hung out with Carrie, Liz, and Jen before heading home.

We had several celebrities come through the lounge this year. Danny Glover came through a few times. Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire), Robert Knepper ("T-Bag" Bagwell on Prison Break), Rex Lee (Lloyd on Entourage), and Lil Jon also came through. There were others but I don't remember them right now. All in all, it was a good time. I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and got paid. I also got to play a little bit this year, which is good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wavelink and Paladium

After I got fired from Bliss I was unemployed for 3 weeks. I filed an unemployment claim but it got denied. After 2 weeks of being unemployed I got hired back on at Teleperformance doing tech support for Dell computers. Because I hadn't been trained on Dell's XPS line of computers, I had to go back into training. The next training class didn't start until Sep 3th. The training class was scheduled from 3-11:30 PM M-F. I was told that I would only have to go through the 1st week of training because that is when they trained us on the XPS computers. During my 3rd week of unemployment I applied for an intern position at Wavelink. They offered me a position working from 8:30 AM until 2 PM M-F. I accepted it. I started working at Wavelink on Aug 27th.

Wavelink takes care of their employees. In addition to good pay and benefits they also provide free snacks, juice and soda. They also have a break room with a HD TV, a Nintendo Wii, and four gaming computers with good games like Command & Conquer 3 and World of Warcraft.

On my first day of class at Teleperformance I told the trainer that I was told that I would only have to go through the 1st week of training because that is when they trained us on the XPS computers and he told me that the XPS material was now spread out through all 6 weeks so I was going to have to go through all 6 weeks. At first I wasn't too happy about that but I figured it wouldn't be that bad to get paid to get a review of stuff I had already been trained on.

After my unemployment claim was denied I filed an appeal. A week or two after starting at Wavelink, I had my appeal hearing with a judge, Wes, Wes's payroll guy, and me on a conference call. Wes exaggerated and lied and I was honest so I didn't stand a chance. A week later they mailed me a letter saying that my appeal had been denied.

Back in August I moved into a home that a friend was in the process of buying so he could rent it out. He was still renovating it and the sale wasn't finalized so he let me live there in exchange for keeping an eye on the place and paying utilities. In October I moved into a house that Brian, who had worked at GoodGame after I left when they couldn't afford to pay me any more, was renting rooms in.

On Oct 4th Wavelink offered me a full-time Tier 1 tech support position making more than Teleperformance was paying me with better benefits. I was still in training at Teleperformance. I accepted Wavelink's offer. Then I called Teleperformance and quit.

A week or two after my promotion at Wavelink, Phil called me and asked me to work for him at a Mexican bar that he was managing. I was hesitant to work for him again, especially when he told me that Larry was Head of Security but I went by to check out the place. I went there on a Friday night to check it out. It was called El Tucanazo. I was happy to see Brian Servatius, who is one of the best Security Specialists that I know, working the door. It was a decent size bar with Mexican bands playing. I helped break up three fights that night, one of them by myself out in the parking lot at the end of the night. I decided to work there. The pay wasn't very good but at least we got payed. Larry and I butted heads but the owner, Frank straightened him out. A few weeks after I started working at El Tucanazo, Phil talked Frank into turning it into an American dance club called Paladium. Phil and Frank closed the club down for 2 weeks for renovation. They promoted me to Assistant Manager while we were closed for renovation.

Around this time my car started acting up. It wasn't shifting gears smoothly so I thought it was the transmission. I took it in to get the transmission fluid flushed but it still wasn't shifting smoothly. I took it to the dealer, Menlove Dodge Toyota. It broke down as I was coming off of the highway by Menlove. Menlove had it towed and told me the next day that part of the fuel injection had burnt up. That part was covered under the warranty but that part burning up had caused 5 other parts that weren't covered by the warranty to burn up/break. The other 5 parts cost $1,200. I told the dealer that I didn't have $1,200 to fix it. I also explained that if the part that caused the other parts to break was covered under warranty, then the other 5 parts should be covered. Menlove Dodge-Toyota covered the cost of the the other parts! I had borrow $200 to pay the deductible on the $300 part that the warranty covered.

Paladium's Unveiling Weekend was Nov 16th & 17th. Our Grand Opening was Nov 17th & 18th. My car was getting repaired during our Grand Opening weekend. My warranty covered a rental. I ended up getting a GMC Sierra. It had a V-8 that kicked butt! We brought Playboy Playmate Barbie Murdock out to host our Grand Opening. I had found her on MySpace (I created and maintained Paladium's MySpace) and Phil recognized her because she used to be the owner of Club Axis's girlfriend. I got to pick her up from the airport, take her to her hotel, take her to U-92's offices for an interview, take her to the Ultimate Combat weigh-ins at Hard 8 Motorsports, take her back to her hotel to get ready, and then bring her to the club. I assigned one of our Security to protect her. At the end of the night I took her back to her hotel and walked her up to her room.

Saturday, Nov 18th was the premier of the Ultimate Combat Experience at Paladium. I went to the club early to help set up. Then I picked Barbie up from her hotel and brought her back to the club. At the end of the night I took her back to her hotel. Phil had lost the keys to his SUV at a strip club so I gave him a ride home out in South Jordan. Then I brought Barbie and her friends some Sconecutter (she loves Sconecutter) and hung out with them for a little while. She got a ride to the airport from a relative on Sunday. I really enjoyed taking care of her. She is really sweet and down-to-earth. We still keep in touch.

The week after our Grand Opening Money Mart's check fraud department called me and told me that if I didn't pay them for the check that Phil wrote me to cover the bounced check he wrote me at Bliss, they were going to turn me in to the cops for check fraud. I called Phil and he gave me the run around. After a week of me asking him to pay me, he told me to f*ck off and lose his phone #. I called Frank, told him what had happened, and told him that I wasn't going to work with someone that was going to treat me like that. I know that I've said this before but I will never work for Phil again. I don't hate him, I just hate the way he treats me. A couple of weeks later Frank called me and told me that he was going to be letting Phil go (you reap what you sow) and going in a different direction with the club. He offered to pay me to make some changes on Paladium's MySpace. I accepted, made the changes he asked me to, and got paid the following week.

I recently finished reading Patriot Acts by Greg Rucka. I'm currently reading Open Mind, Open Heart by Father Thomas Keating and The Guide to Making Huge Profits Investingin Pre-Foreclosures Without Selling Your Soul by Alexis McGee. I'm still working at Wavelink. I'll be working Security for a celebrity lounge at Sundance again starting tomorrow. I will also hopefully be working at Harry O's again. I'll let you all know how it went in a week or two.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bliss Nightlife

It's been over three months since I posted last. The first month was basically same "stuff", different club. If you've been reading my blog for the past year or two you should have a good idea what I'm talking about. I'll try to keep it short since it's not fun for me to relive it but I've got three months of catching up to do so here we go...

There are three couples that own Bliss Nightlife - Wes & Angie, Ben & Connie, and Ryan & Kim. All of them, with the exception of Wes, are nice people but none of them have any experience working in night clubs. When I met with Wes back in June I explained to him that I was getting paid $12.50 an hour full-time at Teleperformance so he would need to pay me more than that to get me to come work for him. After talking to Wes, I talked to Phil and he said that he would talk to Wes and convince him to pay me well. The following week Phil made a contract stating what my salary and responsibilities were and said he would have Wes sign it. I edited my contract to clarify that it was for working 3 days per week but Phil said I didn't need that. I later found out why.

On Thursday, July 10th I found out that Teleperformance wasn't going to get the schedule change that I had requested so I gave my 2 weeks notice. Because the owners and Phil were worried about Travis breaking into the club or having someone break into the club for him I slept at the club almost every night from Thursday, July 5th until Tuesday July 10th. They had an alarm system but the cameras didn't get installed until July 10th. During that time the girls that I hired to work at Voodoo (the 18+ part of Bliss Nightlife that I was hired to manage), a couple of the Security guys, and I cleaned and painted Voodoo. I also helped a little bit with getting Bliss Nightlife set up.

Bliss Nightlife and Voodoo had their Unveiling Party on Wednesday, July 11th. Bliss Nightlife opened at 8 and Voodoo opened at 10. After spending all day at the club, I went home to take a shower. When I got back, around 7:45, it was a mess. There was Security outside to I.D. and search people but there wasn't any Security by the front desk where the Door Girls sold memberships and collected the cover charge. There also weren't any Security on some of the doors. I brought this to Judah's attention and helped him get those spots covered. They also didn't have the stanchions set up inside to separate the regular line from the VIP line so I set those up. The owners had told Phil that they had already hired Door Girls so we didn't hire any at either Job Fair. When we opened the doors at 8 there was only 1 Door Girl there. I had anticipated being understaffed for Door Girls for Bliss Nightlife so I had asked Ally, who was over 21 but had applied to work for Voodoo because we had hired everyone we needed for Bliss Nightlife (except for Security) at the first Job Fair, to come in and be prepared to work as a Door Girl. She had been helping us get ready in the afternoon so she had gone home to change. Brandy, who was going to be a Door Girl and train the other Door Girls on how to use Doormate (the computer program that tracked memberships), wasn't going to be able to come in until later. Angie, who was also Wes's Personal Assistant for his other business, was there so I showed her how to use Doormate. She didn't have any pens to write down the Guest List for employees so I sent Mark, one of the Security guys that we had hired, to the convenience store a block away to get pens. My ladies from Voodoo were making name tags for all of the employees. The next 2 hours were crazy - I helped out in different areas making sure things were running smoothly.

Around 10:00 I programmed the cash registers for the Energy Bars at Voodoo and helped the ladies set up the Energy Bars. I was relying on Dan to be my main Bouncer at the door. I had to go find him because he was wandering around the club. I had another Bouncer searching people. Brad, who had worked for Vortex before, was on the checkpoint at Voodoo's main entrance that led upstairs to Bliss nightlife. His job was to make sure that no one under 21 got upstairs and no alcoholic drinks came downstairs. He did a good job. Misty, who I had hired as my Assistant, and Kendra were my Door Girls. They both did a great job. Part way through the night Misty pointed out a lady who had been drinking alcohol. I "interviewed" her, smelled alcohol on her, and kicked her out. Later on Misty noticed that a lady who had come in through Voodoo's entrance earlier, which meant that she was under 21 since we sent people 21 and over to Bliss Nightlife's entrance, re-enter through Voodoo's entrance later on with a stamp from Bliss Nightlife. I asked her for her I.D. but, what a surprise, she "didn't have it" (she didn't want to show me her I.D. showing that she was under 21). I kicked her out. She was with one of Rocky's friends. Rocky is one of the guys that cleans the club. Rocky's friend almost got kicked out for arguing with me when I was kicking out his underage friend. The night went smoothly besides those two incidents and the initial chaos. Bliss Nightlife was very busy. Voodoo was very slow - that's what happens when you do very little promotion.

Club Vortex used to be in the building where Bliss nightlife is now. Before I ran Security there, when I just did Security for the Go-go Dancers and VIPs, the whole bottom level, including the patio, was 18+. When we opened Voodoo on Wednesday the patio was 18+. There is a balcony overlooking the patio that is part of Bliss Nightlife. Since it was very slow at Voodoo on Wednesday the owners decided to make the entire patio 21+ on Friday. This meant that Voodoo was only 1 room on the bottom level.

The next day we were open, Friday July 13th, was our Grand Opening with D.J. Skribble. Bliss Nightlife was packed. I helped get things straightened out again from 8:30 until 10:00 since Bliss opened at 9:00 and Voodoo didn't open until 10:00. Voodoo was very slow again. If they had promoted Voodoo they way they should have it would have been packed too. Because Bliss Nightlife was packed and Voodoo was slow, and because one of Bliss's Door Guys called me up there to help enforce the dress code, and because the sidewalk was blocked which we can get cited for, I walked around from Voodoo's entrance on the north end of the building to Bliss's entrance on the east side of the building a few times to help control the crowd. One of the times I went up there Wes told me to go back to Voodoo and I did.

Around 11:00 D.J. Skribble arrived and he came in Voodoo's entrance since it wasn't busy. I helped escort him up to the D.J. booth. Then I went back down to Voodoo. A little bit later Phil came down and told me to go find Georgio, one of the barbacks from Vortex that he had fired, and bring him downstairs. I found a roaming Bouncer, found Georgio, told him that he had to leave, and walked him down to Voodoo's entrance where Phil, Wes, and Judah were waiting for him. Phil told him that they had busted his underage friend using his I.D. that he had given him to get into Bliss. He told him to go away and never come near the club again.

Dan, who had been my I.D. guy at the door and who I had told I was relying on to run my door had been missing most of the night. I had replaced him earlier on when I realized he was missing. I had also sent of of my Bouncers to go look for him and tell him to come back down. He didn't come back down. I eventually went upstairs to go find him. While I was looking for him Wes grabbed me by the arm and asked what I was doing up there. I pulled my arm away. He told me to come talk to him. We stepped off to the side and he started yelling at me. He asked why I was upstairs. I told him that Dan, one of my Door Guys, had left his post and I was looking for him. He said, "So your door guy left his post and you left the door to go look for him?" I told him that I had 5 people on my door (I had the I.D. guy, the Searcher, the guy watching the checkpoint going from Bliss to Voodoo, my Door Girl Kendra, and my assistant Misty). He yelled at me and told me to get back downstairs. I later found out that Judah had told one of his roamers to go bring one of my guys upstairs. The roamer pulled Dan upstairs. They should have checked with me first. Even if they hadn't checked with me someone with common sense would have pulled a roamer, not someone on a post, especially not someone posted at the main entrance.

Although Bliss was packed we didn't have any major incidents, at least none that I'm aware of. The Assistant Head of Security, Mikey, who I had worked with at Vortex and Axis, busted 2 or 3 underage ladies in Bliss that had come in through Bliss's front door (they had the Bliss stamp) and kicked them out. Voodoo was extremely slow again. At the end of the night the owners decided to close down Voodoo because they didn't think that the risk of getting shut down if a minor got upstairs was worth the relatively small amount of profit Voodoo would make. Wes told Phil to tell me that the ladies would get their paychecks on Monday. I called all of them and told them the bad news. They felt like the owners had wasted their time. They felt like the owners didn't promote it properly and by only giving it two days they didn't give it a fair chance. I agreed with them. The ladies wanted to make fliers and promote it themselves. Kendra wanted to talk to Ben about it so I called him and asked him to call her about it. I don't know if he did. Wes didn't want Voodoo there in the first place. He had made that abundantly clear to me before we opened. I'm sure that he was the main one pushing to kill it after only 2 days.

The beginning was the best part of working at the club because of the ladies that I was managing. I really enjoyed working with Misty, Kendra, Nixie, Cassie, Alyse, Erin, Ashlie, and Kira. Misty was a lot of help and her presence helped me deal with all of the chaos of opening the club. I still talk to her on a regular basis. Felisha, who had worked at Vortex and Vortex 2K6, was bossy and a little bit snobby so she didn't get along with some of the ladies. I had talked to a trusted source and found out that she had been fired from Vortex 2K6 because she was "accused of stealing". I told Phil this after he had hired her but he just blew me off and said that people don't always say nice things about people after they are no longer working somewhere.

Since Voodoo was no longer open I did Security for Bliss on Saturday. My friend Ed, who had done promotions for all of the other clubs Phil and I worked at, as well as Club Manhattan and The Hotel/ Elevate, was the VIP Host for Bliss. He wanted me to do Security for the VIPs. When I told Judah what Ed wanted he told me that he would rather have me roam around and make sure that all of the Bouncers were where they were supposed to be. Although Wes didn't want me to be in any kind of supervisory position, Judah realized that with my experience, attitude, and work ethic I was a good person to have in the position that he gave me. Most people in the night club industry would refer to my position as a Security Lead so that's what I referred to myself as.

On Monday Phil told me that the checks for the ladies from Bliss weren't going to be ready until Tuesday so i called them all and let them know. On Tuesday Phil told me that they wouldn't be available until Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon I got to the club before Wes did. When the checks showed up Wes wasn't there to sign them. After Angie called him to tell him that the checks were there waiting for his signature Wes didn't get there until more than 2 hours later. Kendra got there before he did. When he walked in he didn't even ask about the checks. He had bought a remote control boat to play with in the "water feature" (pool) out on the patio. He sat down and started putting it together. I went to the office to get the checks and brought them to him. He set them down and continued playing with his boat and chatting with some of the other employees. After chatting with some of the employees he talked to a guy that wanted to do a fire show. He eventually got around to singing the checks more than 30 minutes after he showed up. His attitude about the Voodoo employees paychecks was a good indication of how little he cared about his employees getting paid for the rest of the time that I worked there.

My check for the work I had done between June 15th and June 31st was supposed to be given to me on July 5th but Phil hadn't submitted my hours to the payroll company. He had payed me for the 2nd Job Fair which was mostly for Voodoo out of his own pocket on July 5th because Wes refused to pay me for that one (further evidence that he didn't want Voodoo to succeed). That check bounced and I got over $300 in overdraft fees because of it. Phil covered the bounced check and only payed a little bit of overdraft fees. Oh, by the way, Key Bank is evil!!!

After he gave me the paychecks for the ladies and I gave them to the ladies that were there I asked him where my check was and he said we had to talk about it. He then went back out by the pool to play with his boat and chat with some of the employees. When he eventually took the time to talk to me he wanted me to explain what this check was for. I explained it to him and he said that he would have to talk to Phil about it before he decided to give it to me. He also said that since Voodoo was closed I was no longer a Manager. I was just a Security Guard but my pay would stay the same. I told him that Phil had me doing extra stuff like maintaining the club's MySpace, being in charge of setting up the tables and stools for Ultimate Combat, and other stuff. He told me that if Phil wanted me to do extra stuff then Phil would have to pay me for it. I also told him that Judah had me making sure that the other Bouncers were on there posts and doing their jobs. Wes said he would talk to Judah about that. To get my check I ended up having to come back to the club at 3 AM after getting off work and going home.

Here is a summary of the next month:

  • Because Phil told Wes that my salary was based on us being open 4 days per week (which they planned on eventually doing and are now open 5 days) in order to make it look like he was getting a better deal, my pay got cut when Wes switched me to hourly - so he lied when he said my pay would stay the same
  • Wes micro-managed everyone that worked for him; when I manage employees I hire competent people and let them do their jobs; although you do need to monitor your employees, you don't need to micro-manage their every move
  • Wes overrode me when I wanted to 86 Manu, who happened to be Judah's cousin, because of previous problems we had with him
  • Larry, who had replaced Mikey as Assistant Head of Security because Mikey couldn't work all three nights that we were open, overrode me and Judah backed him up when I wanted to keep a group that we had kicked out for fighting from re-entering; two hours later they were involved in a shooting around the corner from the club
  • Wes and I butted heads because he disliked me, I'm opinionated, and he's insecure
  • Too many chiefs - 6 owners that couldn't get on the same page
  • The paychecks that were supposed to be paid on July 15th were 1 or 2 days late
  • We brought my friend DJ Miss Joy to Bliss on Friday, July 29th - best night at Bliss for me

Since August 5th was on a Sunday, we got our paychecks on Monday, August 6th. I deposited my check on Monday. On Tuesday one of the bouncers, R.C. called me and left me a message saying that he couldn't cash his check at Check City (a check cashing store) because of previous bounced checks. He also said that when he went to Bliss's bank they could not cash the check because of insufficient funds. Another bouncer, Ephraim, sent me a text message saying that he couldn't cash his check at the club's bank because of insufficient funds. I called Phil and he said that he couldn't cash his check either and he didn't have any control over the club's bank account so I called Ben. He told me that the club's account was supposed to pull from one of the owner's personal accounts when there was insufficient funds. (When I called the club's bank the next day they said that was not the case). I explained to Ben that it wouldn't do any good for people that went straight to the club's bank to cash their checks. He said he would look into it.

On Wednesday I called my bank to see if my paycheck had cleared. I found out that it was being returned. I called Bliss's bank and they said that although there was not enough money in the account to cover the check before, there was enough money now and suggested I have my bank resend the check. I called my bank and requested that they resend the check. They did and it cleared. I called Ben to let him know what was going on. He didn't answer his phone so I called Wes. When I told Wes what happened his attitude was basically "It cleared now, so what's your problem?". I asked him if everyone else's checks were going to clear. He asked why I was asking about other employee's paychecks. I told him that it was because they were calling and texting me asking me why their checks weren't cashing. He asked why they were calling me. I told him that it was probably because I knew Phil and I usually knew what was going on. He said "Don't mess with my payroll". I said "I'm not messing with your payroll. I just want us to get paid". He again said "Don't mess with my payroll" and hung up on me. I called him back but he didn't answer.

I then sent a text message to some of the employees that said "Your checks will clear now. If your check was returned, have your bank resend it.". Within 10 minutes Larry called me and told me that Wes said that they were going to have to let me go for insubordination because I had texted the employees about their paychecks. I resisted the urge to laugh at the ridiculousness of their reason for firing me. After I got off the phone with Larry, I called Ben. He said that just one owner couldn't make that decision, it had to be a group decision. He told me that he would talk to Wes about it. Later on Wes called me and told me that Ben was not only his business partner, he was also his best friend and he supported his decision to fire me. I called Ben but he didn't answer. I called Phil and he didn't answer. I texted him telling him what had happened and he replied that he couldn't do anything about it.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Go, Baby, Go!!!

A few weeks ago Blackfive reposted an article by Doc Russia. In his post, Doc describes a recent conversation he had with his sister. In this discussion he uses a great analogy to explain that, despite what the mainstream media has been telling us, we are making progress in Iraq. I'm reposting part of his post here:

In other news, I got to spend some time with my sister while she was on R&R. It was really good to see her. We spoke at some length about Iraq and the war. While I realize that many people just do not want to talk about the war, I think that I need to say something here. While talking with her, I think I got a better understanding of the magnitude of what we are trying to do, and I must say that it is a daunting task. We are trying to drag what is basically a feudal society that had never experienced a renaissance or age of enlightenment into the modern age. It took Europe a hundred years to accomplish this, and we have been about it, making strides for only a few short years. It truly is a Herculean task, but we are doing it. This is why, IMHO, there is such a disparity between the optimism of so many troops and the negativism of the media outlets. It is kind of like when I was watching a C-5 galazy taking off of a runway when I was a grunt. The C5 is a gargantuan heavy lift air transport plane. I mean, you could put a row of apartments inside the damned thing, and have room for the tenants to walk their dogs. It is immense. Now, while it is immense, it needs the normal amount of runway to get off the ground, and has the normal acceleration of any cargo aircraft. So, one day, I am sitting on a hilltop, and I see this ginourmous craft lumber up to starting gate of the flight line. I was about a kiloometer from the craft, and it was pointed in my general direction, and I am high enough up on the terrain that I have a really good view of it on the runway. Well, I hear the engines roar, and I start to notice movement as it begins to slowly go down the runway, it taxies a ways, and starts going at a good clip, but I notice that it is not going nearly fast enough to take off. What's worse is that it is no longer accelerating, and it is about to run out of pavement. I watch, expecting them to throttle down, hit the brakes and turn around or something, but it just keeps lumbering along past the point of no return. Now, I start to get a little tense, since that huge thing will not be able to stop before it runs into a structure one of my buddies is posted in, and it will not be able to get enough airspeed to take off. I thought back to the plane that had crashed on that same spot a little lesss than a year ago, and my mouth got a little dry, when suddenly, this takiing plane just starts to hover up off the ground. Then it starts to climb faster, and banks left past the structure where my buddy is.

And as the nose passed by him, and I saw how quickly it went by, it occured to me that the plane was going real fast. That C5 had been going full boogie down that runway. The pilots at the stick had been sitting in their cockpit, pressed into the backs of their seats with engines roaring as it clawed its way down the tarmac like a high school track athlete pumping those pistons as it hurtled to liftoff, and they coaxed it "go, baby, go!"

but to me it looked slow. It looked to slow to be able to generate lift. The reason it looked slow was that at a distance, when your mind is used to tracking movement and judging speed by the time it takes a craft to pass it's own hull length, when you get a *REALLY* large craft, that way to guage speed is no longer useful.

I think that it is the same way with Iraq. While we, far from the being behind the yoke of the thing are, and unappreciative of it's size look upon it, what is actually a breakneck speed appears as a lumbering and lazy gait, but it really is not, and then we are shocked when the cockamamie thing actually gets off the ground. From our perspective, I do not think that we are very able to judge how fast or well things are going. From the media, we only hear of losses, and from guys like Yon and the folks we know over there, we hear of our successes. And, our successes are legion.

We are doing something on a grand scale. We really are trying to drag one of the last vestiges of feudal and unenlightened culture out of the darkness of the jungle and into the light. We must not, we cannot throttle back. It is time to bend the throttle forward, and through the howl and roar of turbines growl, through gritted and clenched teeth,

"Go, baby, go!!!"