Thursday, June 30, 2005

Five things I just don't get

I got tagged by Household 6, and like her I can name more that 5 things:

1. Why you can't buy ice in Germany. This is just weird to me. In America, if you need 10 pounds of ice for whatever reason, e.g. margaritas, fill up a beer cooler, you just go to the supermarket or a liquor store and get a 10lb bag of ice for a mere $1.25 or so. In Germany, if you need more ice than you can produce with your 3 ice-cube trays, you're sh*t out of luck. A few years ago I had a party where I wanted to have two buckets filled with ice to put beers in. A friend was able to obtain ice for me from a hotel kitchen. We went over there and filled the buckets, and brought them back home. McDonalds also used to give people ice, but not anymore. Basically, this is a reason why no one makes margaritas here.

2. The lack of public bathrooms in Germany. There are a few, but they aren't common, and they are scary. In America, every public park has toilets. Not so here. Which means, if you want to spend an afternoon in the park drinking beers, you have to run to a nearby Biergarten to pee or you go home early.

3. Why people in LA just don't get the whole overtake on the left rule. Anyone who has been on a freeway in Los Angeles knows that you are constantly playing the lane-changing game. There is no order to which lane is going fastest, so all drivers are constantly darting in and out of lanes, according to which one they think is the fastest. In Germany, this chaos just doesn't exist. The left lane is the fastest, the right lane the slowest, and those in between are gradual increases or decreases. Simple and orderly. Just as one would expect. Why oh why can't Angelinos pick up on this?

4. Political correctness. Political correctness is actually a slave to the prejudice it is supposedly trying to combat. I think that political correctness is just a subterfuge to divert attention away from the real reasons for prejudice, which is largely perpetuated through ignorance. Of course language can be oppressive, however just taking that weapon away doesn't take the problem away. It irks me that in California instead of saying Merry Christmas now, people say Happy Holidays. This is apparently out of respect for those non-Christians of the population. However, I would much rather learn more about our differences, than just pretend they don't exist. I wish when I would say Merry Xmas, that someone would respond Happy Chanukah, or Happy Kwanza. Removing symbols of our differences doesn't lead to the end of prejudice, instead it just increases our ignorance.

5. Why soccer isn't more popular in America. It's so simple to understand and follow (1 ball chased by 2 teams protecting their goal and aiming for the opposing team's goal over a time span of 90 minutes). You hardly need any gear (just a ball). And the men are hawt! And they don't chew tabacco or use steroids. The US is practically the only country in the world where soccer just isn't big.

The Port-o-Pot: Afghan Sauna

X at Life in X Minor has an amusing post about port-o-pots in Afghanistan:

To venture into the port-o-pot for any period longer than the 10 seconds needed to unbutton, whip, release, shake, tuck, and button spells doom for the unwary soldier. Much like Dante venturing into the Inferno, above the doors reads the inscription:Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.[...]

I saw one rather large soldier go in only to emrge 20 minutes later and 20 lbs lighter! Not just from last weeks Cordon-Bleu, but from all the sweating done while held captive by the whack shack. Now, he goes in there after work outs, with a towel over his shoulder and in flip-flops. He takes a water bottle and splashes the water around on the inside to create more steam. Its nuts. Though he has lost alot of weight. I guess we should be thankful. I mean people pay good money for access to a world class sauna. So be it.

The President

I can remember when one week after last year's election, Kerry attended the funeral of a soldier who died in Iraq. The immediate reaction of the press was almost critical towards Bush for never going to a soldier's funeral. The White House responded that the President didn't go to any funerals, because he didn't want his presence to take away from the funeral, by turning a family's private grief into a media event.

The way the press paints it, Bush doesn't care about the sacrifices families are paying for this war. Many say that he is a coward, and can't face the families of those who have lost a soldier.

And that just isn't true. The family of Clint Prather, the pilot in command of Big Windy 25, was invited to meet with the president at Ft. Bragg, and Sieg has a picture of the moment. I don't think I am being biased when I say that the president looks genuinely caring.

There are many moments that we never hear about, because the press isn't invited. I have seen the occasional photo of the president with a recovering wounded soldier at Walter Reed, but these photos are mostly hosted at private websites by friends or family of the soldiers. Bush is not doing it for the press. He is doing it for the soldiers and their families, for himself and America, and for what that moment is worth even without an audience.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

If it's not the US in Vietnam, it's the Soviets in Russia

I was minding my lonely reading this article about yesterday's helicopeter crash in Afghanistan, when I came upon this nugget, smack in the middle of the article:

The U.S.-backed mujahedeen war against Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan in the 1980s finally turned when the Afghan fighters figured out how to shoot down Soviet aircraft.

So what exactly are you trying to say? Hopefully you aren't trying to say that the US is weak, and can't stomach set-backs? Hopefully you aren't saying that at the first sign of resistance the US backs down? Okay...I give up...what are you trying to say?

(Thanks for being my research assistant, was driving me nuts not being able to find that article again!)

The French are just...

...I can't find words.

If you were going to have a publically funded campaign for AIDS awareness, would your posters look like this?

Linda has more on that.

And while you're there, you have to check out her post, on some teenage punks burning flags in America:

Why burn flags and set firebombs? Well, they told deputies they burned the flags because they are anarchists and don't agree with several U.S. government policies, including the war in Iraq.

"I hate Americans," one of them told a deputy, according to reports.

Hmmm...clearly sounds to me like someone is slacking on their parental duties.

Tagged again

So, it’s 4:15 AM and I can’t sleep. Crazy thunderstorms woke me up, and the thought of the crash in Afghanistan has kept me up. I went to the fridge to get some yogurt, and then decided to surf around the internet and visit my favorite blogs, which I had been neglecting the last few days in my thesis panic. And what do you know? I had been tagged twice…so it seems like there would be no better time than now to answer these tags.

Firstly, I got tagged by Sue.

10 years ago...
I had just graduated from highschool. I was off to spend a few unchaperoned weeks in Hawaii with some friends. And I was all geared up to go to college, University of California Santa Barbara to be exact, when my father said: “You really want to go to one of those liberal colleges?” Um, yes…party, party, party. And then he suggested I go for a year to France to do the Baccaleureat and then after that, I could return and go to college. Since I was just 17, I thought, it sounded like a good idea. You really had to be at least 18 to have some fun. He tricked me, because I have pretty much been stuck in Europe since then. However now, I am not just going to an ultra-liberal college (the students are striking right now, to protest an increase of student fees…I kid you not…that’s basically like welfare recipients refusing their welfare checks unless they are increased), I am living in a socialist country. So, ha…foiled his plan.

5 years ago...
My youngest brother had just gotten married in Vegas, and I had flown there for the weekend, cursing him for not choosing a better time since it was still during my term. I had my mid-study finals in history. Ugg. Passed, but just barely. I was hopelessly in-crush with a guy in France, whom I knew from my year there, and had seen again a few months before. A few months later that crush would come crashing down after I sent him a letter revealing my infatuation…yeah, he wasn’t that infatuated with me. Still can’t believe I did that, but I am impressed with the guts and craziness I had. I was also getting prepared to go to London for a month to intern at a women’s magazine. I thought that was what I wanted to do later…but I guess that is what internships are for. It was a great experience, but I knew afterwards that I had to find something else to aspire to be.

1 year ago...
Hee hee…I had just met this super sexy nerdy Army Chinook pilot that made me laugh all the time, even though he didn’t talk a lot. And I told myself, if I hang around him any longer, I am go to be crazy in love…I was in LA doing research on my thesis and renewing my Greencard. Getting finger printed, photographed, etc…don’t remember getting my iris scanned. And I was so relieved that it all went smoothly. I can remember coming back to Germany, and reporting that to the above mentioned super sexy man, and saying I didn’t have to get married to an American to be able to stay in the States, and he replied: “oh, too bad…” and my heart started thumping a 1000 beats a minute.

I put on rubber gloves, and went through my apartment building’s trash to see if I had thrown away the watch given to me my the above mentioned super sexy man by mistake. I was able to locate my trash bag under loads of other trash, and proceeded to open it, and was relieved to not find the watch among its contents. However, I still didn’t find the watch. Was alerted through an email from the FRG of another Chinook crash in Afghanistan…and that brings me to…

It’s now 4:43 AM…the thunderstorm is still going on outside…and I don’t know how things are going at the crash recovery. I hope as best as they can.

I hope the communications moritorium is over, and I can see my boyfriend’s face again or hear from him in some other fashion, and assure myself that he is really okay.

5 snacks I enjoy...
1. Sweet and Sour gummi candies, like Sour Patch Kids
2. Oreos
3. Salt and Vinegar Pringles
4. Peanutbutter M&Ms
5. Taco Bell…Taco Bell can be a snack

5 songs I know all the words to...
1. Big Spender – Shirley Bassey: I learned it as a 10 year old to perform for my grandmother at her birthday
2. The Star Spangled Banner

That’s it…I’m serious…the only songs I know are the national anthem and Big Spender…can I even count the anthem?

5 things I would do with $100,000,000...
1. Um…no idea. Travel.
2. Invite my friends to travel with me.
3. Start a fund to make it possible for less fortunate kids to travel, kind of like a scholarship fund, but it would be for travel.
4. Start an angel investment company for really small ventures, giving those a chance who usually don’t get it, because they are lacking the connections or lacking someone who has faith in them.
5. Invest in schools in underdeveloped countries. Especially girls schools.

5 locations I would love to run away to...
1. Los Angeles…I need my Mommy!
2. New Zealand…that place is gorgeous, and one of the only places I have visited, where I told myself that I HAD to go back again one day.
3. Ireland is the only other place. I want to visit the north now.
4. China! I want to go there in a bad way. I just have to see this country that is booming.
5. Peru- Got to see Machu Picchu

5 things I like doing...
1. Surfing the net and blogging
2. Watching CSI…I wonder what I am going to do when I am done with the DVDs? I have started CSI Miami, but it’s just not the same.
3. Baking…and eating what I bake.
4. Brain candy: trashy woman’s mags.
5. Biking

5 things I would never wear...
This one is hard…in fact, I can’t even answer this now…I think I will have to come back to it later.

5 recently seen movies I like...
1. A lot Like Love
2. Air Force One – saw it at the library and was feeling patriotic, so I picked it up
3. Monster-in-Law (so worth it to see Jane Fonda act like a total freak!)
4. Finding Neverland
5. The Aviator

5 famous people I'd like to meet...
1. Geoge Bush, ‘cos I wanna be able to make an opinion of him first hand
2. The Guys and Gals of Raven 42, in particular Sergeant Hester
3. Seriously, I can’t think of many other people right now. Basically, it would be more interesting for me to meet someone who had overcome some serious challenge, than some celebrity.

5 biggest joys of the moment...
1. Webcamming with my man. As soon as I see his face I smile…
2. The summer weather!
3. Being close to finishing my degree
4. The internet community, and all the cool people I am meeting online
5. Looking forward to my man’s R&R.

5 favorite toys...
1. Webcam
2. My Maxfield MP3 player. I have become so anti-social.
3. Dangly earrings…does that count?
4. My DVD player
5. My fan…okay, it’s not a toy, but I am so thankful for it right now.

I am not going to tag anyone to do this, because last time I did, I felt so guilty. So I will just invite anyone who wants to pick this up, to do so.

Miss Stella, I will get to yours ASAP. Just thinking up my answers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Not again...

Just got news of another Chinook crash in Afghanistan.

A U.S. CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed Tuesday while flying troops into eastern Afghanistan, and the fate of those on board was not immediately known, the U.S. military said.

Sources tell CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin that there were 16 troops on board. The cause of the crash in Kunar province was not clear, a military statement said. Provincial Governor Asadullah Wafa told The Associated Press that the Taliban hit the aircraft with a rocket. He gave no other details.

The military statement did not say how many troops were on the aircraft. It added that the "status of survivors is unknown at this time."

Thankfully, we have been informed from the FRG that it wasn't our unit.

Once again, a guilty sigh of relief. And my hearts go out to the families who don't yet know the fate of their loved ones.

John Walton dies in crash

I was sadden to see in the news today that John Walton, an heir of Walmart founder, Sam Walton died in a crash of a homemade aircraft:

Wal-Mart heir John T. Walton, who threw his considerable financial support behind efforts to educate low-income children, has died in the crash of a homemade, experimental aircraft. [...]

Walton, one of three sons of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and a member of the company's board, was a major advocate of school vouchers, supporting efforts to create taxpayer-funded ways for students to attend private schools.

Walton founded the Children's Scholarship Fund in 1998 to provide low-income families with money to send their children to private schools. The foundation started with $67 million from the Walton Family Foundation and benefited more than 67,000 children.

In March, Forbes magazine listed John Walton as No. 11 on its list of the world's richest people with a net worth of $18.2 billion. He was tied with his brother Jim, one spot behind his brother Rob, and just ahead of his sister, Alice, and his mother, Helen.[...]

Jim Courtovich, who spent two years getting the Children's Scholarship Fund off the ground, said Walton was a devoted sponsor who "didn't just donate money, he donated time and energy." Walton would clear days at a time from his schedule to focus on the project, he said.

Courtovich also said that Walton was down to earth and, like his father, not above doing chores himself. One time, skiing in Jackson Hole, he said Walton "had to leave early because he had to caulk his chimney."[..]

John Walton was an Army veteran who served with the Green Berets as a medic during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Silver Star for saving the lives of several members of his unit while under enemy fire, according to the company.

A lot of people say a lot of bad things about Sam Walton and the Walmart empire. However I have to say that I have a lot of respect for them, and what they represent. Sam Walton's children didn't grow up in the lap of luxury, as the Walmart didn't really hit it big until the 1970s. However, they still remained down-to-earth afterwards. One of my brothers met John a couple of times, and was always impressed with how unassuming he was, driving a pick-up truck and wearing a Casio wrist watch, he was indistinguishable from the rest of us.

It's easy for weathly people to invest their money into causes, but investing time is a whole different ballgame. Anyone who puts their heart and soul into a good cause, and not just their money, is a respectable person in my book.

Rest in peace, John.

Update: Blackfive also has a post on John (Thanks, Teresa) with more details on his military career:

John was a Green Beret, part of a unit code-named the Studies and Observations Group, or SOG (cover for "special operations group"), a secret, elite military unit whose operatives would be disavowed by the U.S. government if captured. SOG often conducted actions behind enemy lines and in Laos and Cambodia. John joined the unit in 1968, right after the Tet offensive. On almost every mission there was a firefight.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

My Thesis...My Life

I am starting to feel so stupid lately. I look at the news, I read commentaries, and then my eyes glaze over, and except for commenting at other people's blogs, the only inspiring thing I seem to come up with lately to blog about, is my boyfriend.

I was complaining to him the other day, that I might as well, just go ahead and name my blog "My Boyfriend."

Also when I talk with friends, I am so easily distracted. I lose my train of thought. I forget what I was saying.

I am living and breathing my thesis. The first thing I think about in the morning, and the last thing at night is sadly, no longer my boyfriend. It is my thesis.

On top of that, I misplaced a watch that my boyfriend gave me, and I had a mini-freak out, almost starting to cry, because I couldn't find it. A friend came over and was helping me look for it, but my place is a mess, because every surface is covered in papers (and that is just my coffee table, my kitchen table is also covered, not to mention my desk...and during the day, my bed isn't spared from becoming a readin surface) for my thesis. My boyfriend was a total sweetheart and said to not worry about it. And my friend was teasing me saying, it was just a watch and not my boyfriend.

However, there she was a little wrong. When my boyfriend left, I was wearing a St. Christopher's medallion every day. I am not religious, but I am superstitious. And I realized that I had to stop wearing that medallion otherwise I would start getting obsessive about it and if I didn't wear it one day, I would think that something bad would happen to my boyfriend. So I put the medallion away. I wanted to avoid falling into the trap of developing some kind of daily routine that, that if interrupted, would start the cosmic domino effect, and end with something bad happening during the deployment.

However, I had unwittingly developed a routine anyway. And I realized that when I started getting weepy when I couldn't find the watch. My boyfriend placated me over the webcam, saying he would get me a new one, but that's besides the point. It's not about the watch. It's about what that watch meant to me. It was something I wore everyday, and it felt like a connection to him. And I am so angry at myself for being so careless.

So I am going to drink some coffee, and then clean up for a bit, hopefully find the watch hidden under a pile of papers, or in a drawer...and then I will sit myself once again in front of my laptop, and let all my life-force be further sucked out of me.

I can't wait until I turn that thing in. A little carrot that is hanging in front of me, is the fact that when I am finished with my thesis, it will be time for my boyfriend's R&R.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Two Degrees of Separation

I was at Technorati searching for blog posts related to Bagram, and came along Austin Bay's blog. Teresa from Technicalities had mentioned him, but I wasn't familiar with the author and OIF2 veteran. And so I was reading his post from Tuesday, and I recognized the incident he was describing, because my boyfriend had told me about taking some guys whose aircraft had to return to Bagram, him being one of the pilots of the second Chinook:

Monday afternoon, June 20, we caught an operational briefing with Combined Joint Task Force-76 at Bagram Air Base then flew back to Kabul to spend the night. After take-off, our first CH-47 developed an engine problem so we made the long bank and returned to Bagram. It took twenty minutes to transfer to a second CH-47. The second night flight to Kabul went quickly. I spoke with one of the door gunners, though it’s difficult to speak with anyone on a CH-47. The door gunner wore a pair of the “new” binocular night vision scopes, but the moon light was so bright he flipped them back up on his helmet. The full moon put a definite edge on the mountains and we could see trucks moving on the main highway. The Ch-47 is well named: the Chinook. The twin-rotored giant chopper is a big wind. When it lands on a dry Afghan landing zone the chopper raises an instant dust storm– a sustained storm that turns dirt into pumice. Turn around and lean away, and if you don’t have goggles, cover your eyes.

It's a small world, and even more so when it comes to the military.

Friday, June 24, 2005

My Boyfriend and My Inner-Freak

My all time favorite episode of Sex and the City was: "Freak Show"

Carrie meets this totally normal and delicious man, Ben, but decides that he can't be real, he can't be as good as that, and she thinks he must be hiding some weird freakiness.

Miranda: I'm sorry, if a man is over thirty and single, there's something wrong with him. It's Darwinian. They're being weeded out or propogating the species.
Carrie: Okay, well, what about us?
Miranda: We're just choosy.

So after spending the night at his place the first time, she wakes up the next morning, and he tells her that he is going to go out and play soccer with his friends, as it is his Sunday morning tradition. But he would be back in a couple of hours. As soon as he leaves, she starts hunting through his apartment for signs of his inner freak: she opens his fridge, his drawers, flips through things on his desk looking for any clue. Finally while looking through his closet she finds a little box, and tries to open it. And she can't. So she finds a screwdriver and tries to pry it open. It is a glorious scene, she is standing on his bed, hair a complete mess, cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth, frantically trying to open the box she is sure holds some deep dark secret to Ben's past. At this point, Ben walks into the bedroom.

She looks up. Then looks at herself. He is completely shocked, however, he calmly walks over to her and takes the box from her hand, and sits down on the bed. And then he easily opens the box, by simply sliding the top off. Inside are old boyscout patches and knick knacks. He then tells her that he came back, because he decided he would rather spend Sunday morning with her than playing soccer. And he had thought she was different. But apparently she was a freak too. And he asked her to leave, and never contact him again.

The last scene is Carrie walking back to her apartment, having recovered from her psycho episode and concluding that everyone has an inner freak, and you just have to find the person who accepts that in you.

That episode first aired in 1999. But even back then, I thought, yep...I need to find someone who accepts my inner freak.

So, fastforward to last summer. One day my boyfriend left me alone in his apartment for a short while...long enough for me to become the freaky super sleuth. I was checking out the clothes in his closet, his sock drawer, his underwear drawer...anything that opened, I opened it. And while I was doing it, I knew it was wrong. But it was like I was on crack. I couldn't help myself...these closets and drawers possibly held secrets about my boyfriend, and I HAD to know it all! Restraint just wasn't an option. So I walk into the bathroom, and eyed the bathroom mirror...and I was about to open that, but for some reason, a little voice in me said to stop the madness. So I did, and I didn't whip that thing open...and the search for his "box of freakdom" episode was over.

By the time my boyfriend came home again, I had reverted back to the sweet-non-freaky girlfriend. Later in the evening, I needed a Tylenol, and asked him if he had any. And he said: "Yeah, there's some in the cabinet behind the bathroom mirror." And I then said something like, "you don't mind if I go open it, and get some?" And he replied, chuckling: "Oh, don't act as if you haven't been through all my cabinets, closets and drawers the minute I was out the door today." Man, I think I started to fall in love with him in that instant.

And that kind of has set the pace since. He is the former Eagle Scout, I dropped out of Girl Scouts when I figured out I wasn't going to meet any hot guys there. I spazz, he just laughs at me. I am a drama queen, he rolls his eyes. I am the freak, and he is the normal one.

Once again, a parable of Sex and the City was right: Love me, love my inner-freak.

(Note to all men reading this: I am not proud that I snooped, and not all women succomb to the urge, however if you leave us alone in your apartment, the likelihood is very high. A similar situation would be to tell you guys that we had naked pics posted at some website, but asked you to please not go there. Trust me...99% of guys would.)

Survival Mechanism

To survive a deployment, as someone left at home, you have to downplay everything. Otherwise you would be freaking out all the time.

My boyfriend also downplays everything for me. If you listened to him, you would think that his unit of Ch-47s are just heavy-lifters, and basically are like flying trucks. *Yawn*boring. Nothing dangerous...except for when they crash...or get shot at...or are actively involved in troop insertion.

“This mission is a ongoing effort to take away enemy sanctuaries,” Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara, Combined Joint Task Force-76 spokesperson, said in an e-mail from Afghanistan. “We are not letting up on the enemy and will continue to pursue them until the fighting stops.”[...]

Two CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters were damaged during the fight, O’Hara said. One was able to fly back to base; the other was forced into an emergency landing. Crewmen repaired it on the ground before it, too, was able to fly back to base.

Of course, my boyfriend made no mention of this, because for him, it obviously belongs to everyday events. Plus, since the guys made it back safe and sound, there was no real story to tell. Perhaps it wasn't even his unit. However, the fact remains...CH-47s may be heavy-lifters, but they also are occasionally in the thick of it all.

Nevertheless, I will go back into my naive little cocoon, and continue to believe, that he is on an Afghan's my emotional survival mechanism.

Patriotic? Perhaps...

...but something tells me that this isn't the shirt I should be wearing when I meet my boyfriend's parents.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My Boyfriend's Landlords

I just had to write a post about my boyfriend's landlords here in Germany, and I know that his experience isn't a completely isolated case. Another soldier friend of mine also has a great relationship with his German landlord and neighbors. Because of limited housing on many of the smaller posts here in Germany, many soldiers end up living off post, on the German economy. And in Germany, many people rent out apartments they have built in the same house they live in, so your neighbor is often your landlord.

My boyfriend's landlords live downstairs from him, and their son and daughter-in-law and two grandchildren live above him. He is always out grilling with them, drinking a beer on the weekend, or going out to dinner with them. If there is any problem with his car or bike, his landlord is bound to come over and offer his opinion or help. And when they found out that he was leaving for another year long deployment, crestfallen would be the best description of his "landlord mother." Since he has been in Afghanistan (4 months) he has already received 2 care packages from them. And no dinky care packages at that. He was unpacking one yesterday: Pringles, cookies, hot sauce, bags of chips among other snacks. And it ain't exactly cheap to send a care package from Germany to an US APO address.

So, although there are cases of unfriendliness towards American military personnel here in Germany, his landlords embody the complete opposite.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Coalition of the Willing in Photos

Whenever I think of the Coalition of the Willing, those fighting for security in Iraq, I think mainly of US, British and Iraqi troops. But there are many other countries who, albeit with smaller troop contributions, also make up the coalition. Chenkoff has a great photo montage of the coalition troops. (via Blackfive)

The Kindness of Strangers

Erika at Military Bride has a post up about her fiancé's R&R leave from Afghanistan. I found her description of their goodbye at the airport when he flew back particulary touching:

On Sunday morning when I took Matt to the airport, I got a gate pass so I could wait with him and was surprised to find that I was the only wife/fiance who had. The couple other guys Matt had traveled home with were sitting in the waiting area alone. Unlike when he had flown in, he was flying out in his DCUs, so there was a certain amount of pride that flowed through my veins everytime someone thanked Matt. How glad I was to be the girl holding his hand! When the time came for him to board, I couldn't bear to let him go. We held on for as long as we could, crying and hurting in a way that should never have to be familiar but that I know all too well. After I finally let loose my iron grip on his hand, complete strangers put their arms around me, comforted me, told me they felt for me even though they could never really understand unless they'd been through it; regardless, it was a kind gesture.

I am always touched by the kindness of strangers, especially when it comes to the treatment of soldiers and their loved ones. It makes things a little easier when you have support like that.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Love and the Internet

I met my boyfriend on the internet. One of my brothers met his wife online. And I have a bunch of friends who have met their significant others online. And it got me to thinking: does the internet actually increase your chances of having true love? Or does love found online have the same rate of failure as love in the real world?

We have become a consumer society, expecting to get what we want, and not have to accept what we get. And it is the same in romantic relationships. We no longer have to accept the small pool that we are offered in our social circle, but we can branch out into the huge ocean of partners accessible thru the internet. There are match making sites where you can search criteria ranging from common hobbies, particular habits, hair color, age, weight, and profession, and beyond. Technically, this should increase one's potential in finding someone who matches his or her likes.

I like the process of meeting someone online, seeing if there is a good rapport between us, and then meeting in person. I think it is a more time efficient way of "dating." The pool of guys that I find physically attractive is larger than the pool of guys I find intellectually attractive. Thus, it seems more practical to me, to sort out if they are intellectually attractive first, and then see how we work out in person, than to verbally engage with someone I find attractive. I will be the first to admit, that I have dated a lot of guys who weren't nearly as attractive in person (and I mean their whole physical presence) as they were online. But I had faith in the system. And when I met my boyfriend, there was a certain sense of redemption.

Since meeting my boyfriend I have become incredibly grateful towards Hot or Not (I so need to write Jim and James one of those thank you note/testimonials), because we are truly two people who would have never met otherwise. And to think that without the internet, I wouldn't have met this incredible person, is something I don't even like to think about.

So, I would tend to think that more and more people are finding relationships that are more fulfilling than the ones they would have "settled" for before.

Germany and the End of the World

After watching The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I was inspired to think about how life would be after some catastophe on Earth, like a nuclear winter or a meteor hitting the planet, for those who surived it. I was musing outloud to a German friend and said: "Can you imagine how it would be to live with the memory of a better life, and know that it won't get better in your lifetime, but knowing that you would have to live in order to continue the human race in the hopes that it will one day be better for them?"

My friend, known for his dry humor, replied: "Yeah, I don't need to imagine that. That's how life is in Germany now. Except Germans refuse to have children in hopes of a better future." (For those who don't know, the economy is making a downward spiral, unemployment is at a record high and the social state built up in the 1960s is falling apart. And Germany has a negative birthrate.)

Friday, June 17, 2005

June 8th mortar attack from the Chinook crew's pespective

The Stars and Stripes has an article about the mortar attack from the perspective of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Howe, the pilot in command of the Ch-47, and the rest of his crew:

“I heard the bang in the back of the aircraft,” Howe, 28, of Punta Gorda, Fla., recalled Monday in a telephone interview from Afghanistan. “We hadn’t been on the ground two minutes.”

You get a real idea of the chaos and how quickly things happen during such an attack.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I just got a weird email from a friend. It was a story that he had found on a message board and he forwarded it to me. I have no idea why he sent me the forward, as I have never dropped acid, and don't plan on doing so either.

I must say folks last night was the most intense night of my life. I was released from the hospital this morning, the doctor said i was lucky to be alive. With furthur tests i might have suffered slight brain damage, the doctors are at this moment unsure.

Yesterday me and a few buddies decided to drop acid, and during our trip we decide to smoke bowls. We were having a great time up until my friend said "hey i heard on a phish board that if you put gasoline in the bong it will get you way faded." So being the stupid ass stonner that i am, i decided to indulge. We went to the local Chevron and put in $1 of premuium with techron into my 3 foot roor. I took the first hit. At first i felt really dizzy, i started vomiting, and then i passed out. That night i woke up in the hospital with the worst headache i have ever had.

Needless to say i am luck to be alive. I must warn everyone to never try anything like this again. I realize i have a slight drug problem and i am now enrolled in a treatment center. If i can give anyone advice it would be to never try anything that is out of the ordinary, no strage drug combos. BE SAFE OUT THERE PEOPLE!

I guess I just have to shake my head here. I mean, I can remember reading a blog from a mother in Iraq complaining about the moral decrepitude of America, citing divorce rates and gay marriage, and saying she didn't feel America should be taken as the example for moralls good living. I just kind of shrugged, since I am grateful for all the freedoms we have in America.

However, after reading this post, I just had to shake my head in disappointment. It saddens me that some people feel the need to chase this ultimate high (and it seems to be out of pure boredom and not because they have some tragic circumstances in their life), while my boyfriend is out in Afghanistan protecting those kids way of life. But I guess freedom means the freedom to kill yourself by doing something completely idiotic.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Missing my boyfriend

I just prepared dinner for myself in the kitchen, and was scooping some German potato salad onto my plate, when I wondered if that was something my boyfriend would like. And then I got incredibly sad all of the sudden.

And I realized that there are so many aspects, so many parts of my life, so many moments, that together in their totality form the concept "missing my boyfriend."

And something as simple as scooping salad onto my plate makes me melancholic about my boyfriend's absence.

Strange, but amusing...

I was standing at an intersection waiting to walk over to the other side with a friend. Cars had pulled into the intersection and were stationary there waiting for a bottle-neck to clear up in front. However when the light turned red, they were still stuck in the middle of the intersection. Thus the intersection was blocked for those who had green.

Of course much honking ensued, and most of the pedestrians didn't care which way or the other, being able to walk between the stationary cars. However, one pedestrian was clearly disgusted at the drivers' lack of discipline and yelled at the car nearest him: "This wouldn't happen in America! There you would get a huge fine for this."

I thought this was hysterical. Firstly, I love the fact that he was so pro-America. Secondly, I find it so ironic that America was, in his eyes, the better organized society and the shining example for civil obedience. I mean, we are talking about Germany here, where many public trash cans have 3 slots: paper, recyclables, trash...and yes, people do abide and throw their trash away accordingly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I shouldn't laugh about any news coming out of Gitmo...

...but I can't help myself.

Time magazine writes:

TIME has obtained the first documented look inside the highly classified realm of military interrogations since the Gitmo Camp at Guantanamo Bay opened. The document is a secret 84-page interrogation log that details the interrogation of ‘Detainee 063’ at Guantanamo Bay. It is a remarkable look into the range of techniques and methods used for the interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani, who is widely believed to be the so-called 20th hijacker, a compatriot of Osama bin Laden and a man who had tried to enter the U.S. in August 2001 to take part in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The article details different interrogation techniques used to try to get al Qahtani to talk. After trying out various "mild" techniques (e.g. standing for prolonged periods, isolation for as long as 30 days, removal of clothing, forced shaving of facial hair, playing on “individual phobias” (such as dogs) and “mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing”), the interrogators decide to get serious:

[...]After the new measures are approved, the mood in al-Qahtani’s interrogation booth changes dramatically. The interrogation sessions lengthen. The quizzing now starts at midnight, and when Detainee 063 dozes off, interrogators rouse him by dripping water on his head or playing Christina Aguilera music.

Yes, folks, Christina Aguilera's music might soon be categorized as torture...if she's lucky, it will just be considered humiliation. Imagine everyone back home taunting him, that he had to listen to Dirty:

Ah, dirrty (dirrty)
Filthy (filthy)
Nasty (ho), christina you nasty? (yeah)
Too dirrty to clean my act up
If you ain't dirrty You ain't here to party (woo!)

The interrogations ratchet up, but to no avail:

The log reports that al-Qahtani makes several comments to interrogators that imply he has a big story to tell, but interrogators report that he seems either too scared or simply unwilling, to tell it. On Jan. 10, 2003, al-Qahtani says he knows nothing of terrorists but volunteers to return to the gulf states and act as a double agent for the U.S. in exchange for his freedom. Five days later, Rumsfeld’s harsher measures are revoked after military lawyers in Washington raised questions about their use and efficacy, TIME reports.

Pesky human rights lawyers. If you are going to torture, forget this half-assed Genie in a Bottle stuff. If it were up to me, Gitmo prisioners would all be forced to watch Glitter, Showgirls and Gigli. Then we'd see how many knew "nothing of terrorists."

Monday, June 13, 2005


This piece of news made me grin:

Law enforcement agents raided an illegal cockfight and arrested 144 people attending what one official said may have been one of the nation's largest such gatherings.

Several SWAT teams, helicopters and dozens of state troopers participated in the raid Saturday on the sprawling Del Rio Cockfight Pit. They seized about $40,000 in cash and killed more than 300 roosters.


John Goodwin, of the Humane Society of the United States, who took part in the raid, said it served notice on those conducting such illegal operations. "I wouldn't want to be a cockfighter in East Tennessee right now," he said.

It's great to know that the Humane Society is cracking down on cruelty to animals, and then kills all animals involved. I wonder if the chickens were killed humanely, with lethal injection, or did they just twist their necks?

And that Mr. Goodwin, he sure is mighty intimidating. Those be fightin' words!

CBS had more coverage:

Goodwin said the officers acted with restraint during the raid. "These people can be a violent crowd. They're outlaws," he said. "A lot of the cockfighters were quite defiant and hurling a lot of verbal abuse at the agents."

Someone in the crowd begs to differ:

The crowd included many older people and several small children, witnesses said, and at least two of the older attendees required medical treatment after the agents burst in and held them at gunpoint. "It was kind of rough on some old hillside people who are just trying to survive," said Wayne Donahue of Luttrell, who was issued a citation at the compound.

"It probably should be illegal, but as far as terrorizing children and old women and people who've had heart attacks and operations, that's going a little bit too far."

They were cracking down on it because of the illegal gambling. Perhaps they should push for legal cockfighting gambling in Tennessee, because I find it somewhat disturbing that over 100 state and federal law enforcement agents participated in a raid of something, which essentially the East Tennesseean version of Spanish bull fighting.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

There should be a test before becoming a parent

Forgive me for not thinking this woman is a good mother:

Maureen Faibish said she ordered Nicholas to stay in the basement while she did errands on June 3, the day he was attacked by one or both of the dogs.

She said she was worried about the male dog, Rex, who was acting possessive because the female, Ella, was in heat.

"I put him down there, with a shovel on the door," Faibish said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "And I told him: 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me."

Yes, it's all Nicky's fault that he was killed. It's perfectly acceptable to lock your child in the basement and barricade it with a shovel, when you run errands.

Faibish found her son's body in a bedroom. He was covered in blood from several wounds, including a major head injury.

"It's Nicky's time to go," she said in the interview. "When you're born you're destined to go and this was his time."

Yes, you are right...your lack of mothering skills has nothing to do with this tragedy.

Ella was shot to death by a police officer the day of the attack.
Rex was taken to a shelter, but Faibish said she wanted him put down.

I think someone needs to put the mother down.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Big Windy and Operation Celtics

Found this article (via Blackfive) about Big Windy's role in Operation Celtics:

Keying the radio, Kelly called to battalion headquarters at Jalalabad Airfield, where aviation assets from the U.S. Army's Company F, 3rd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment -- known to troops as "Big Windy" -- were on standby to airlift bundles of civic aid.

Within minutes, Marines heard the heavy "thud-a-thud" of the CH-47 Chinook echoing through the valley. A U.S. Air Force controller working with the Marines popped a canister of green smoke to mark the landing zone and talked to the approaching Army pilot. Marines rushed into the blowing dust to pull bundles of supplies off the helicopter's back ramp.

There are some great pics of the Chinooks in action too.

It's My Blog and I will rant if I want to

There's something I have got to get off my chest here: I hate it, when people ask me about how my boyfriend and his unit are doing in Afghanistan, and upon hearing about all the incidents they have been having, they say: "It's time for them to come home." I just reply that they have barely been gone three months, and have another nine to go.

It happened again last night. Someone asked me if everything had been okay since the crash in April. I recounted how just a few weeks later, one of the engines on an aircraft my boyfriend was piloting failed, and they had a "hard landing". And also about Wednesday's mortar attack at Shkin while a Big Windy Chinook was being unloaded. But then I add, that despite these incidents, the unit is very busy, and morale is good.

I can understand that most people's natural response would be shock. Especially someone who is European, and doesn't have much exposure to the events in Iraq or Afghanistan. And I know that they probably mean well when they say: "tell them to it's time to come home."

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing I wish for more, than for my boyfriend and the whole unit to be back safely in Germany.

However, it's all about perspective. I think, that people who say that, maybe don't think that it's worth it. War is dangerous, and soldiers are prepared for the danger. Some will pay the ultimate price, and we should be forever grateful to them, and not shake our heads and think what a shame it is.

And when our soldiers deploy to a combat zone, we shouldn't pity them for being in harm's way, and wish for their early return. We should support them through the trials of their deployment and welcome them back when they return after having completed their mission.

So even though I know no one of the offending parties will ever read this post, I just wanted to say, next time you are speechless about the dangers encountered by soldiers in combat, say so. Say that you respect them for their sacrifice. But don't tell me they should give up and come home early. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Update: I just found this at Blackfives, and the author has put it better than I could:

The first rule of war is that young men and women die. [...]

I wish there was not a war, and I wish our young people did not have to fight and die. But I cannot wish away evil men like Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi. These men are not wayward children who have gone astray; they are not great men who are simply misunderstood.

[...]I wish the situation was different, but it is not. Americans have two choices. They can run from the threat, deny it exists, candy-coat it, debate it, and hope it goes away.[...] Our second choice is to crush these evil men where they live and for us to have the political will and courage to finish what we came over here to do. [...]

[...]The third rule of war should be that we never forget the sacrifices made by our young men and women, and we always honor them. We honor them by finishing what they came to accomplish. We remember them by never quitting and having the backbone and the guts to never bend to the yoke of oppression.

Friday, June 10, 2005

In the Blink of an Eye

Firepower Forward has a post detailing what a ride in a Chinook is like in Afghanistan, and a description of Wednesday's attack:

I don't know the details of what happened at Shkin on Wednesday other than the Chinook carrying our people was on the ground when the rocket exploded. The pilot's immediate reaction to get the aircraft out of danger was thwarted by the fast action of the flight engineer who had seen shrapnel hit the aircraft. Staying on the ground was now the more prudent action and the aircraft was promptly evacuated.

And I can only nod my head in agreement with this sentiment:

[...] but now comes the delicate, mental balancing act of guilt and gratitude for the safety of those we know and the loss of those we don't.

The post also has some great pics of Big Windy Chinooks and their crew in action.

Dates and Hopes

Yesterday I read a post about a military wife's dates with her deployed husband, and another one about life's curveballs and I found my head nodding in agreement the whole time.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Snot-nosed Celebrities and Malibu-ites

I spent my childhood in Hawaii, where there are absolutely no private beaches. Not only are there no private beaches, but property owners have to provide access to beaches, too. So, if someone buys a huge swath of coastal land, which contains a beach enclove, with no access other than through their property, they have to allow people to trample over their land to get to the beach. Most mainlanders who come over to the islands are happy to go along with those laws which are essentially in the spirit of Aloha. However, occasionally, there are some selfish dingbats who don't want to comply...and then things get interesting.

Life on an island, is like life in a small town. You can't afford to be rude to your neighbors, because it will come back and bite you in the butt.

Peter Guber, is embroiled in a legal battle with the country of Kauai over a road that runs through his property, which he claims is private, and the country claims is public. The thing is, it doesn't matter who wins, everyone on the island dislikes Guber now, which is a huge problem if you have 171-arce estate that needs to be run. Many people refuse to work for him. There is a story that I heard through the coconut wireless (grapevine in the mainland) that he wanted to have a stone wall built, and he got a proposal from a company that builds walls. He said their estimate was too high, and would only pay half that. So they only built half a wall for him, and then left it...and no other wall building company on the island was about to go finish that wall for him, no matter how much he was offering to pay then. That pretty much cured him from thinking he could take advantage of the simple island folk. On Kauai, you don't need unions. There are ways they deal with things...

Guber is now trying to sell his estate. Apparently Kauai isn't the nice friendly island he thought it was.

In California, the rules for beach access are tighter than in Hawaii. In Hawaii private property begins once the sand ends, or grass begins. So beach goers are allowed to sit on the beaches, as that is public property. In California, private property begins with dry sand. Basically, you are allowed to walk and sit on the wet sand, but not on the dry. Many beach goers protest the laws, and there are yearly battles over the beaches. It's an interesting saga, and I was surprised to see the newest chapter: homeowners have called in bulldozers, to push the sand up to create a sandbar, effectively reducing the size of even the tiny wet sand zone where the public is allowed to frolic:

The turf battles over Malibu's oceanfront tend to be as predictable as the spring tides as property owners and beachgoers contest for control of the sand.

This year, the tussle over what is public and what is private has taken a surprising turn with property owners bringing in heavy equipment to scoop up tons of public beach and pile it onto their property.


Until now, the dispute has been largely over homeowners' rights to put up private-property signs in the sand and employ security guards on all-terrain vehicles to shoo visitors off dry sand.

On Wednesday, Coastal Commission officials ordered the homeowners association to immediately halt the use of heavy equipment that has been pushing wet sand from the state-owned intertidal zone up the beach toward the houses since June 1 without a state permit.

The commission's staff, in a nine-page letter, explained that the un-permitted grading has harmed wildlife, including grunion, small fish that spawn on Southland beaches this time of year. The removal of sand also has lowered the profile of the public beach so that "public access is cut off by wave run-up and standing water," the commission's letter said.

Marshall Grossman, a Broad Beach homeowner and lawyer, said the intent was not to block public access, but simply to restore the sandy dunes in front of the homes that eroded during last winter's storms.

"When that happens, homeowners bring their own sand back to the dunes or bring in replacement sand from the outside in order to restore the dune areas," Grossman said. "It doesn't interfere with public access at all because the dunes are simply restored to what they were."


The regrading, Haage said, has tossed Broad Beach into legal murky waters. Much of what was considered public beach is now underwater at high tide or subject to a constant run-up of waves that would make sunbathing and picnicking impossible.

A lot of celebrities have houses there, and just want to protect their privacy, which I can understand. But I would say that perhaps they shouldn't be buying a house in such a high-profile, easy to reach area. And if they insist on doing so, then they have to accept that the rules are for everyone.

Rebel attack on US base in Afghanistan

There was a mortar attack on a US base in Afghanistan yesterday:

Rebels fired rockets at a military base in Afghanistan, killing two U.S. service members and wounding eight as they were unloading supplies from a helicopter Wednesday, in one of the bloodiest assaults against American forces since insurgents ramped up their fighting in March.

It was a Big Windy Chinook they were unloading. However, I learned the news in the best possible manner: from my boyfriend.

The first thing you think of when you hear news like this, is of your loved one over there, and you wonder if they were somehow involved in the incident. To hear it from the horse's mouth removes that worry instantly.

He reassured me that the crew manning the helicopter was unhurt. Once again there is that familiar guilty relief.

I can remember how it was back in April, after the crash, when there was the communications moritorium for Big Windy until the families of the pilots and crew of Big Windy 25 were notified of their deaths. Those hours of not knowing were terrible, and I feel for the families of soldiers based at Shkin, those who are scouring the internet for any bit of information that may tell them if their soldier is alright, who jump every time the phone rings. I can remember reading blogs from other units based at Bagram, and trying to read between the lines of their statements saying that everyone in their unit was alright. Wishing there was some hidden information in those posts saying my boyfriend wasn't piloting the helicopter that went down, just how they might be looking for some tidbit that will let them know that their soldier wasn't unloading that helicopter yesterday.

Two soldiers were killed and eight wounded. After my boyfriend told me, I was pretty shocked, and said: "sometimes I forget that you are in a combat zone." He replied: "me too."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

How Blogging has changed my life

I had to steal this link from Teresa. My personal favorite is:

6. There is a dark side to blogging. I think that blogging is more addictive than crack. If I go a few days without blogging, I start to go into convulsions. Somebody told me that the best answer to the question, “Why don’t you have a blog?” is “I have a life.”

Just ain't good enough...

I was over at Houehold6's (whose hubs is also deployed to Afghanistan) blog, and she has a post up with the lyrics of a song that is the current soundtrack to her life. And I thought I would share one of my favorite songs since my boyfriend deployed (to be honest, I was already listening to this song before he left. I would put it on when we would drive somewhere and let out loud dramatic sighs saying that is what I would be listening to when he left...he got sick of No Doubt real quick...I on the other hand, am loving this song more and more):

NO DOUBT - Making Out

I'm on the second floor with a lock on my door
I'm looking at a picture of your face
The last time I looked you were looking really good
But somehow pictures fade

Then we're on the phone and we're all alone
But that just ain't good enough
I go around the world to see your face
'Cause this just ain't good enough

So I'm just kicking it
I'm counting the days
I hardly can wait
For us to hang out
I'm really missing it
In so many ways
I anticipate us making out

(Here comes another one)

Sip my morning tea but you're not next to me
Here goes another day
I'm driving in my car
I wonder how you are
When our favorite music plays

And there are flowers above to my surprise
But that just ain't good enough
And I got the note
It gave me hope
But that just ain't good enough

So I'm just kicking it
I'm counting the days
I hardly can wait
For us to hang out
I'm really missing it in so many ways
I anticipate us making out

Ooh oohh
Ooh oohh
Ooh oohh
Soon you'll be here with me (making out...)
Soon you'll be right here with me

I'm with my friends 'till the night ends
But that just ain't good enough
And honestly you can trust me
But that just ain't good enough

So I'm just kicking it
I'm counting the days
I hardly can wait for us to hang out
I'm really missing it in so many ways
I anticipate us making out
[Repeat twice]

[Note to boyfriend: Thanks for putting up with my constant dopiness.]

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Life Goes On

Interesting post about what a deployment can feel like:

You don't know what it's like to see your parents for the first time in 2 or 3 years, and being shocked because they aged. That's when the reality hits you. Life goes on, even after you're gone.


When you're gone, Life doesn't stop for you. Your children continue to grow, your wife still goes about her daily life. But it's like you died. Every once in a while, they have a seance. A message comes from the dead. An email or phone call from a disembodied entity. If you send photos of yourself, they are only your memories. Your family or friends don't have any frame of reference for the picture they see. They see you. But they have no experience to tie to the image. You call when you can, but you're on the other side of the planet. You call when they are trying to eat, need to go to the store, taking a bath, living their lives. They're cold, and you're in a hot desert. It's bright outside for them, and in the dead of night for you. You have interupted their lives for moment. They're probably VERY happy to hear from you, but you still can feel alientated.

Milk. It does a body bad...?

I love it when someone points out how vulnerable the United States is in some way, and thinks the best thing to do, is publish their ideas and make the vulnerability widely known.

It reminds me of when Kerry kept on repeating over and over how unsafe we were, because 90% of containers shipped to the US aren't checked. I can remember watching the The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart saying: "Well, I wasn't scared before, but thanks Mr. Scaredy McFardy," or something along the same vein.

And here is another one of the wonderful studies that takes something perfectly healthy, and then claims that it is actually really unhealthy.

Milk may make for heavier kids, study finds

Children are urged to drink plenty of milk but a study published on Monday suggests that the more milk that kids drink, the fatter they grow -- and skim milk is a worse culprit than whole milk.

A survey of more than 12,000 children aged 9 to 14 showed that those who drank more milk weighed more than those who drank less.

Oh, really? Who woulda thunk it? And let me guess...taxpayer money is funding these incredibly surprising findings?

So what are parents now expected to do with those results: "um, kids, no more milk, it's bad for you." I think the cherry on top was this:

It could be that the youngsters drink lower-fat milk more freely. Thus, it may not be milk itself but the calories in milk that are to blame, said biostatistician Catherine Berkey, who led the study, in a statement. you mean, you didn't really study any other part of their diet, other than the milk drinking? So the cookies dipped into the milk, and the cake that was washed down with the milk was considered insignificant. The key factor here was milk consumption.

Uh huh...what a scientific study. Don't go blaming the innocent milk.

Free of charge I will provide a few more surprising study results, on average:
Those who eat more pizza weigh more than those who eat less.
Those who eat more ice-cream weigh more than those who eat less.
Those who drink more beer weigh more than those who drink less.

I don't know whether to laugh...

...or find it incredibly depressing. I just got an email from the FRG (Family Readiness Group for those of you non-military initiated) looking for volunteers for an upcoming event. At the top of the email it asked:

Want More Excitement than watching your plants grow?

Bored with TV-ReRuns?

On the one hand it's amusing, but on the other hand it's like: Well, since all the soldiers are gone, you guys must just be sitting on your butts staring at the wall-paper, because you obviously only have a life when they are here.

Albeit, I am sure there are a few people who do fit this description. However, I found it pretty ironic coming from an organization who is constantly preaching "keep yourself busy" to assume that most people aren't.

Neurotic Iraqi Wife Back in Iraq!

Neurotic Iraqis Wife is back in Iraq and has joined her dear hubs in the Green Zone. I look forward to her posting from the "thick" of it all.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Books I've Read

I saw that both The Girl and MJ were doing this, so I am doing it too:

Number of books you own: No idea. Easily over a thousand just here in Germany. About 60+ are cookbooks.

Last book bought: Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I ordered it online and sent it to my boyfriend. I loved the book, and was hoping that I could convince him to read it too...I think he'll be using it as a doorstop can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Last book I read: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. I read it just before John Paul II died, so it was a crash course in papal elections, etc.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
1) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl: this is just a classic. My kids will be forced to listen to this book and read it. (Not to mention sitting through the film a couple of times).

2) Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. I was reading this book on the train while coming back from an interview with a PR firm in Munich, and I realized that I wasn't happy with the future I was carving out for myself. I wanted to be the Howard Roark of baking and pastry, not the Peter Keating of PR and marketing. The future has been a lot brighter since.

3) The Sweet Kitchen, The Definitive Baker's Companion by Regan Daley. Awesome book on baking and pastry. She takes about 200 pages to describe techniques and procedures, before even embarking on the 300+ pages of recipes...which are just decadent! Really inspiring too.

4) Basic Economics, by Thomas Sowell. Preaching to the choir: it's what I want to hear about the way economics work in the world. Pretty simplistic, but still very good.

5) Naked in Baghdad:The Iraq War as Seen by NPR's Correspondent Anne Garrels. I picked this book up in the summer of 2003, and whizzed through it in a few days. Anne is such a great writer, truly fair and balanced. She was in Baghdad before, during and "after" the war, and she recounts her daily battles with the Information Ministry, and the free for all during and after the war. One of my favorite parts, was when they had to go to the daily press briefing to listen to the propaganda fed to them by Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf (I actually kind of liked seeing that guy, he was always good for a laugh with his little beret). They were at a press briefing a few days after the invasion and one journalist asked al-Sahaf if it was true that the Americans had reached Saddam International Airport. And al-Sahaf answered, no, the Americans were nowhere near the airport, they were deserting in the thousands, and the Republican Guards were doing a great job, and one journalist passed a note to Anne saying: "Whatever that guy is smoking, I want some of it."

Sminklemeyer's Top 10 Nice Things List

Sminklemeyer has a heartwarming post about the generosity and goodwill he has experienced as a soldier since returning from Iraq.

War as a Recruitment Filter for the Military

The media is fond of blasting out numbers of how the military is not reaching its recruiting goals, however what they fail to see is that the men and women who sign up for the military now have no illusions about the military and are very conscious of the sacrifice they are making. I found this great post via Toni.

War is the greatest filtering process the military could ever unintentionally undergo. If someone decides that he or she does not want to join the Marine Corps or Army during a time of war – I say “great!” Maybe these heavily combat-orientated branches of the military weren’t the right decision for that individual to begin with. Make way for the recruit behind you who is willing to go to war.


the kids that join now know what they are going to be doing after they join and they have a deep and profound sense of sacrifice (whether for personal gain and college or for country) that leads them to make a decision to join the military. And there is no doubt that in our society that teaches no personal responsibility and continues to build generations of people that depend on handouts, that there are not enough young men and women willing to pay a price for freedom or even for that matter pay a price for the education and training that the military provides. But the ones that do...

Friday, June 03, 2005

June 4th

Today is the 27th anniversary of my birth. I will be spending the day traveling down to southern Germany with a friend in order to take part in a sports event tomorrow. In the evening we will meet Sarah and The Girl for dinner. It will all in all be a pretty merry day for me. But there will be a sense of gloom over the day, because it is also the one year anniversary of Erik McCrae’s death.

He was such a great example of how the military is a choice. He was co-valedictorian at his high school, graduating with the prestigious International Baccalaureate program with a 4.0 grade average. And his college career was similar: graduating with a bachelors of science in physics in just two years. His father was an Oregon National Guard corporal and he spent his childhood hanging around the military. However when he went to college he didn’t go on a ROTC scholarship, even though he knew he also wanted to join the national guard, because he wanted both to experience college separately from the military. His wife said that when they traveled together she brought some brain candy book to read, but he would bring a book on physics theory.

He had a job as an engineer, and was a reserve with the police, not to mention his national guard obligations.

1LT McCrae wasn’t necessarily anymore special than every other soldier. They make a choice, although they could be doing something else. People like Pat Tillman are lauded for walking away from lucrative careers to join the army, but most people haven’t reached their potential yet. And the military is a very conscious decision. Erik’s wife said he always wanted to help people. He was always there to lend a helping hand. And that is how he felt about his service in Iraq.

In February 2004 before deploying to Iraq, he married his sweetheart, Heather. On June 4th, 2004, while coming to the aid of military police injured in an IED attack, he and two other Oregon National Guardsmen were the victims of a second IED detonated from afar. The other two died at the scene, and Erik succumbed to his wounds later that day.

I don’t think that today will be any worse for Heather than any other day since his death. I am sure she feels the same pain no matter what day it is, and however long ago it was. My thoughts will be with her today.

Veteran Harassment

A friend of mine, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, wrote an email to a client before Memorial Day weekend. He was reprimanded at work this week and told he needed to be more politically correct.

When he asked what was so un-PC about his email, they said anything war related could be interpreted as political.

Since the company owns the email distribution system, they do have the right to stipulate what can and can’t be said in an email.

However, this really irked me, considering it was the same company who told him it was better he not mention his service in Iraq when dealing with clients, indicating that this could somehow be offensive or distasteful to some people. I don't know what you'd call that, but together with the emailing incident, I call it harassment.

The thing that really bothers me about this whole situation, is that his email, while mentioning the war in Iraq, is about respect for those who paid the ultimate price, which for him came very close to home, having lost a few friends while deployed. However, his employer said that anything war related could be interpreted as being political. So, respecting soldiers who fought in wars is un-PC now?

Here is his email, so you may judge for yourself:


This Memorial Day while you’re enjoying the day off and sipping a cold one, please take time to think about those who still continue to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. And honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice by living your life. Serving your country doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a uniform. People who show up to work every day and raise their children right are this country’s most unheralded heroes. Yes, Soldiers sacrifice a lot, but they do it so nobody else has to and so our country can continue to be great... even though they know each day in a combat zone could be their last. Please honor the lives of the Great WWII heroes, the forgotten KoreanWar fighters, the Vietnam War Soldiers and the 1,800 men and women who have died in our recent Middle Eastern campaigns. We have freedom because of these people.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Me, My Boyfriend and the Army

Ever since I met my boyfriend, I knew he was special. I knew if I hung around him long enough, I would never want to let him go. It was the so-called “aha-effect:” so this is what it means when you just meet the right person “and you just know.” I found it so patronizing before, but for about a year now, I belong to that same patronizing club.

So, I have established that I want to spend the rest of my life with this guy. He’s in the military, which is okay now, because I’ve got my own things to deal with, i.e. finishing school.

I’ve always been a very independent person, just made plans for myself, and then put them into action. However, when you meld two lives together, there isn’t often a lot of common plans…especially when your partner is in the military.

There’s always a third element in your relationship, it’s you-me-and-the army. When making plans, not only do you have to consult your partner, but you also have to consult the army. Buying a house, going to school, taking a vacation are all very influenced by the army: where you live, how long you are going to stay there, and when you will be allowed to go on leave. And on top of this the military is a 2-person career.

Sarah writes about her situation:

Know what I do now that I'm an Army wife with two degrees? Cook and type.

I have a friend here on post who quit college when she decided to get married. While her husband was in Basic and AIT, she went to cosmetology school. She makes way more money cutting hair in her home than I did teaching college English. She has a skill that's marketable no matter where she moves, while I'm stuck because apparently I need a PhD to do what I want to do. It wouldn't even have to be in anything related to teaching college English; I just have to have the piece of paper that says I studied something.
Moreover, I don't necessarily think that Army wifeing and careers go hand in hand. My first loyalty is to the military and my second is to my own job prospects. Not surprisingly, being an out-of-work professor fits easily with our PCS rotation :)

And slowly I am starting to realize this.

If my boyfriend is to stay in the military, and we are to stay together, I won’t have much of the glorious career that I dream of having one day.

But on the other hand, I have a great partner, who completes me in ways I could have never imagined. One of the things I found so attractive about my boyfriend was that he has a job he really likes, a job where he grows professionally and personally, where he likes and respects his co-workers, and where he gets a lot of personal fulfillment. A lot of people will agree with me, when I say that this is a rarity nowadays.

I don’t really know what my boyfriend wants to do in a few years, when he would be up for reenlistment. I have a few friends who are heading out for their second deployment to Iraq soon, and none of them plan on reenlisting. And I can completely understand, their lives are on hold until they leave the military. They are all single, and it isn’t easy to start and maintain a relationship when you are deployed or about to be deployed. They will have sacrificed a lot in their 4+ years in.

However, if you have a good relationship or a good marriage, your life isn’t necessarily on hold while you are deployed. Granted it is more difficult than relationships without long separations, but nevertheless you have something, and it grows and moves forward.

When we first started dating, my boyfriend managed to bring into the conversation that he wasn’t so sure about reenlisting. And then a few months later, he reiterated that. He has never said, he doesn’t like the military and/or looks forward to getting out. There is actually no reason I can see that he wants to leave the military, other than making it easier on his family and because of the long and lonely deployments.

Just as my boyfriend has offered me the possibility of a future with him without the military, I have also offered him a future with me with the military. I respect him so much, not only for what he does as a soldier, but also that he chose a job that he actually likes. He is someone who could find a civilian job anywhere, however I really can’t imagine who he would be without this job. It’s a part of him. And I believe, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In the meantime, while trying to tweak my professional aspirations to fit into military life, I'll keep cosmetology school in mind.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Get your fingers off my latte!

I am starting to see an alarming trend here...See, before those opposed to more traditional conservative views were taunted because of their granola eating habits or Birkenstock clad feet. And if they were really extreme you could brand them as Chomsky-reading leftist elitist. I really didn't care, because, being more of a Rice Crispies girl myself, I'm not that big on granola, my tootsies look nicer in Reef's and Chomsky is a dork.

However lately, my beloved latte has been branded as being, well, a liberal mascot.

Even with a frothy steamed milk mustache, I can stand right of center.

I implore you, my latte did nothing wrong. It is completely apolitical. Please leave it alone, and don't drag it into a battle it doesn't want to fight.

Willy Wonka

I just saw the trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp. Anyone who had seen the original knows that the song they have playing in this clip just sucks! But oh, man does Depp make a great Wonka...I can't wait!

Desert Fox

I can't quite figure out what/who he is, but Desert Fox has an interesting blog. I think he is some type of contractor in Baghdad, at some undisclosed camp. He wrote about the people he lives with military, contractors, foreign nationals, and locals. It really gives an idea about what the "community" is like on base.

And his analysis "Predator" is amusing.

Deep Throat

I wasn't even alive during the whole Watergate affair, however even to me the code name Deep Throat held a huge significance. It was one of those mysteries, that everyone kind of had hope would eventually be solved or rather revealed. And it has been.