I've kinda gotten away from the blogosphere. I didn't read any blogs while we were moving, and it's been hard to get back in the habit, to be honest. When you're gone for a while, I think you forget what you're missing, that is until I read The Bleat today. I missed Lileks. I had forgotten how...comforting it is to read his bleat. Sometimes I wonder what Gnat will think in fifteen years, how she'll feel about growing up in front of everyone's eyes. It's like being a child celebrity in a small circle. The Bleat is the most intimate blog out there; it's easy for us to rant about politics, but Lileks bares his soul. And gets hate mail, go figure.
Christopher Hitchens: Four Projects for Righteous Anti-War Types
Last night I started working on my first double knitting project. That's where you knit a double-sided piece, working the front and back at the same time so it's reversible. It's a bit of a challenge to get started, but it's a whole lot of fun once you get going. I just grabbed two shades of green to make a scarf for the practice, so here's the front and back; you can see how the colors are reversed but there's no right/wrong side. Cool, huh?
If you're interested in watching this process, a video is available at the awesome site KnittingHelp.com!
Rob of Gut Rumbles passed away yesterday. That man had a scathing personality and I sure wouldn't want to get on his bad side, but his blog always had something original to say. He often made me laugh, usually at something that no one else would ever say. His voice will be missed.
Al Gore was just on Keith Olbermann a few minutes ago; they compared global warming skeptics to flat earthers and people who thought the moon landing was faked. That's a bit of a stretch, people. Then Olbermann said that people who don't believe in global warming are usually people who only think the earth is a couple thousand years old, and Gore starts quoting scripture on why people should pay attention to climate change. What? There are scientists who disagree with the hockey stick and data on carbon dioxide levels, but Gore just dismissed them all as "outliers" and shills. I'm amazed that Gore feels comfortable dismissing a paleoclimatologist as wrong and uninformed: what exactly is Gore's science background? He didn't even bother to memorize some data to refute Patterson; he just waved his hand and declared global warming to be a fact. How convincing...
I've heard some people are dismissing the "WMDs" that were found in Iraq because they're old. Actually, when I did some googling, I found that Fox and CNN interpreted an AP article quite differently.
A defense official told FOX News that the weapons probably can't be used in their current form because of their age, but the report notes that they are still hazardous and possibly lethal to coalition forces.
A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weapons were not considered likely to be dangerous because of their age.
Those convey considerably different meaning, huh?
Anyway, Kalroy reminded me of an email he sent me two years ago. An old WWII round was found off the coast of Delaware in 2004. When EOD came in to detonate the 11-inch round, the mustard agent was released. And this is what happened to the EOD person who came in contact with the round...
(Be forewarned that this photo is disturbing.)
I don't mean to gross anyone out; I know I haven't been able to get this image out of my mind for the past two years. But this round was obviously not too old to be dangerous. I don't know any specifics on the rounds that have been found in Iraq, but if an 11-inch round that's 60 years old can do this to someone who was opening it in a controlled situation, maybe we shouldn't be so quick to say that these rounds in Iraq are too old to be used as weapons. I know I wouldn't want to take my chances.
(Thanks to Kal for reminding me of this and providing the information. I'm also glad you're not working in this field anymore!)
I happened to be flipping channels this morning and saw Santorum talking about the sarin shells that have been found in Iraq. It's not exactly a fat man and little boy pointed straight at NYC, but it's something at least worth talking about. The Fox and Friends people asked Santorum why Bush isn't shouting this from the rooftops, and he said that the White House is no longer interested in debating the reason we went to war in the first place. And the Fox people simply reamed the president. They said that he has a duty to discuss this because most of the country is still discussing it, and that since we as a country are paying for this war, we deserve to still talk about the reason it happened. They went off, and I think they have a point.
I personally believe that history will be on President Bush's side. No one liked Lincoln at the time, but now he's the only president many people can name, and I have a feeling that history could treat Bush similarly. But sometimes I get annoyed that he seems to be sitting back and letting history take her sweet time. 500 sarin shells isn't all we expected Iraq to have, but I think the American public needs to know it was found. Santorum shouldn't have to go on a crusade to present information that most Americans would be interested in hearing. I don't think it should be a "ha, we told you so" revelation, but the info should be put out there. I think those Fox people were right: much of the country is still quite wrapped up in the WMD debate, and they need all the facts in order to hold informed opinions. And this fact somewhat justifies the president; I have no idea why he wouldn't want to put it out there.
But what I don't understand could fill a warehouse.
Many people who work for the Army in certain aspects -- finance, housing, health clinic come to mind -- hate their jobs because if someone's in their office, he's probably mad. My husband realized this when he started working in Finance: it used to frustrate him that people always came in guns blazing, so he and I have always tried to be extra understanding and extra benefit-of-the-doubt-giving in these offices. But we're slowly learning the lesson of the squeaky wheel.
The first thing my husband did when we got our cell phones was to go in to Inbound Transportation and give them our phone number. They assured us that they would call us when our household goods arrived. It's been two and a half weeks since then, and we've started getting antsy. Eleven days on an air mattress can do that do you. So my husband went by their office today to see what was going on. Our stuff has been here since 6 June, but "they didn't have our phone number." My husband watched someone write it down on a paper in our file on 2 June, but apparently that paper is lost and no one in Transportation seemed to care that much. And it gets worse: they are so busy that they can't deliver our stuff until 5 July. So we'll live in this city for six months, and our stuff will languish in storage for a month of it because they lost our phone number.
And I knew I had a bad feeling about it. Some of our friends got their stuff two weeks ago, and I knew that our stuff couldn't be this far behind. But I didn't want to be the guns-blazing type who goes into Transportation every day and demands her stuff. I figured that I would give them their space since they assured us they'd call. Silly me.
Two years ago my friend's husband didn't get his reenlistment bonus. He politely pointed this out to Finance three times, each time to no avail, and his bonus came a full year late. My husband joked that he hates when soldiers go straight to IG with asinine complaints, but my friend's husband sure would've gotten service faster if he'd headed straight to the top instead of putting faith in the system. If he'd come in guns blazing, someone would've helped him. The squeaky wheel tactic works.
I want to be an understanding and cooperative family, especially if we're staying in this system for another 16 years. But I am already tired of getting screwed over. There are medical appointments if you bark loud enough. Reenlistment bonuses come when you shout. And your household goods get delivered a month earlier if you pester Transportation.
From now on, I guess I'm squeaky.
A refreshing and rejuvenating blog post: How far is far enough?
This article is a bit old, but I couldn't believe it when I read it via Powerline. Just wow. An older married couple gets all hot and heavy and "forgets" to use birth control. The lady can't get the morning after pill in her area, so she gets pregnant and has an abortion. And she blames Bush for her abortion. Wow. How 'bout blaming your freaking self for not being smart enough to calm down for two seconds and use some danged birth control? Do people ever take personal responsibility for anything these days?
My friend Vonn alerted me to a knitting show many months ago, so when I got to the US, I looked it up. I've been happily watching Knitty Gritty since, and even though a lot of the shows are pretty basic for me, I find I've learned a lot. In fact, yesterday I learned that I yarn over incorrectly, and today I learned a much better way to pick up stitches from the heel gusset of a sock. The show is great because I can actually see someone knitting, a bonus for me since I learned to knit via the telephone! I only ever had two knitting lessons with my teacher, so everything else I've learned from a book or made up as I went along. I think Knitty Gritty is a great tool for beginner knitters...too bad that all my students are still stuck in Germany!
I also think it's hilarious that my mother-in-law watches the show. We found it last month at her house and she watched all the episodes with me, but she keeps watching it! And she doesn't knit! If she keeps watching the show, she's gonna learn how to knit whether she likes it or not.
By the way, my mom wanted to see my latest scarf:
The details don't show up very well online, but it's dainty and pretty.
The NY Post reports that Jerome Armstrong went on stock trading chat sites and hyped up stocks without mentioning that he was paid by the company. That's so dishonest I can't even believe it. I found the link via LGF and then followed it to Daily Kos to see what they had to say about the article. Several people seemed troubled by Armstrong's past, but many commenters flat out said that they were skeptical of the information because it came from the NY Post.
Frankly, I'm tired of that crap. Fox News is usually on the receiving end of that kind of nonsense: how many times have I heard someone sneeringly say something like, "Where'd you hear that, Fox News?" Fox may come off as pro-American, but people like to act like Fox is making up news stories. That's complete crap.
Armstrong was charged by the SEC in 2003; there's a civil suit on record. The NY Post didn't just make that up out of thin air. It disgusts me that people find it so easy to dismiss news just because they don't like where they heard it.
I wish our household goods were here so I could post my favorite photo of my dad. But it will have to wait until the end of the month for his birthday (our stuff better be here by then!) He said if the weather was nice he'd go fishing but if it rained he'd go to the office. Hope he went fishing...
Ann Althouse posts about a high school with 41 valedictorians. Apparently that school rewards everyone with a GPA over 4.0, regardless of rank. That sucks. I thought my school's system was fair: 4.0 was the highest GPA you could get, but there was an entirely different ranking system for weighted courses. Thus someone who took all "basic" classes and got straight A's would receive a 4.0 but would not be anywhere near the top of the class; someone who took all "advanced" classes and got one B would be salutatorian, and those who took all advanced classes with all A's would be valedictorian. We had 8 valedictorians and 2 salutatorians. (Or was it 7 and 3? See how important it turned out to be?) Among the top 8, we all knew who really deserved honors. I went to high school with people who did relativistic physics for fun and calculus in their sleep. There were also valedictorians who simply knew How School Worked and did what it took to get the necessary A's. It's a shame there was no way to really distinguish between the geniuses and the rest of us folks, but I suppose what they've done after high school is the real proof of their smarts.
Incidentally, several of us got together once when we were graduating from college and compared when we had finally broken our 4.0s. One friend was bummed that he was the first to lose it, but we had to remind him that getting one B at Princeton was nothing to be bummed about!
My husband and I were talking about global warming the other day. We both think it's sad that many people don't even allow room for talk on the subject. I'm no scientist, and I've done zero research on climate. However, I am interested in any research on the topic and am not 100% convinced that there's anything like consensus or that we'll find definitive answers any time soon. I do think it's a shame that global warming has already become a "fact"; several scientists apparently don't consider it a fact at all. But I guess that I shouldn't be surprised that people would rather argue than talk.
A long article on the threat that is political correctness. The crowning example:
Political Correctness can reach absurd levels. Early in June 2006, Canadian police arrested a group of men suspected of planning terror attacks. The group was alleged to have been “well-advanced on its plan” to attack a number of Canadian institutions, among them the Parliament of Canada, including a possible beheading of the Prime Minister, and Toronto’s subway. However, the lead paragraph of newspaper Toronto Star’s story on the arrests was: “In investigators’ offices, an intricate graph plotting the links between the 17 men and teens charged with being members of a homegrown terrorist cell covers at least one wall. And still, says a source, it is difficult to find a common denominator.” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell said that the suspects were all Canadian residents and the majority were citizens. “They represent the broad strata of our community. Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed,” he said. However, there was one common denominator for the suspects that wasn’t mentioned: They were all Muslims. The front page article in the New York Times (June 4), too, was a study in how to avoid using the dreaded “M” word. The terrorist suspects were referred to as “Ontario residents,” “Canadian residents,” “the group,” “mainly of South Asian descent” or “good people.” Everything conceivable, just not as “Muslims.”
When we got married, we had extra space in the back of our wedding album, so we decided to take an anniversary photo every year to keep the album going throughout our marriage. Our four years include moving into our new house in Germany, being apart during Iraq, getting a new puppy, and sitting in an empty apartment waiting for our household goods. Have we aged at all? I don't think so, but I can't wait to look back on these four photos in about 20 years!
The best decision I ever made was to tell that boy across the hall from me that I had a crush on him. If I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have been standing across from him four years ago today. And then we wouldn't have added that silly puppy to our family one year ago!
We're celebrating our anniversary by going to the port and picking up our car, which has made its way across the Atlantic. And hopefully we can stop at The Bell along the way.
I'm thrilled to be back to watching South Park on TV. It's been three years, so we're behind on new episodes. We happened to catch the Paris Hilton episode the other night, and I loved the moral of the story: "Being spoiled and stupid and whorish is supposed to be a bad thing, remember? Parents, if you don't teach your children that people like Paris Hilton are supposed to be despised, where are they gonna learn it?" I couldn't help but think about this when I was flipping channels today and happened across The View. Apparently Paris Hilton is going to guest on the show tomorrow, and the women were all excited and defending her when some audience members tsk-tsked. Now, maybe they don't get any say in who is a guest, so maybe they have to pretend to be excited even if they hate Paris Hilton, but since when should someone like Barbara Walters ever say that Paris Hilton is a "cute and sweet girl"? What has the world come to when a 77-yr-old woman is defending the honor of a girl who answers her cell phone during sex on a porn video? I don't understand why she's even on The View, or why anyone even cares about her at all, but I guess that's the whole point of the opening scene in this South Park episode...
Bebe: Come on, Wendy, we're gonna miss it.
Wendy: We're gonna miss what?
Bebe: Paris Hilton is making an appearance at the mall.
Wendy: Who's Paris Hilton?
Red: "Who's Paris Hilton?"
Annie: You don't know?
Announcer: [someone takes a picture as he approaches the mic.] Hello, everyone! [drumroll] The Guess Clothing Company is pleased to have as its new spokesperson model, a woman all you young ones can look up to, Ms. Paris Hilton. [she appears and flashbulbs go off amid squeals from females in the crowd. She then lifts her bra and shows off her breasts]
Bebe: Wow, that's really her! Paris! Over here!
Wendy: I don't get it. What does she do?
Annie: She's super-rich!
Wendy: ...but what does she do?
Red: She's totally spoiled and savvy.
Wendy: [annoyed] What does she do?!
Man: [walks by and overhears] She's a whore. [takes his camera and snaps a few pictures]
The blog is due for a pupdate! I haven't written about Charlie's experiences in the US yet...
I was concerned that Charlie might be overwhelmed by flying alone and staying at my in-laws' house without us. We thought he'd be overjoyed to see us, but when we got there, he gave us a cursory lick and then ran back outside. He loved their doggie door and playing with their dog and two cats. He wrestled one cat constantly, which was hilarious. And he learned about chasing birds and squirrels too.
He then made the trip from Kansas City to Illinois via the new Busch stadium, which he christened with a big fat dump on the sidewalk. He did fine at my parents' house too, except for the fact that my parents' dog didn't really want to have anything to do with him. He spent the two weeks baiting their dog, pushing him with his nose and pouncing, hoping he'd want to play back.
Moving appeared to be a maturing process; we were able to leave him out of the crate most of the time because he had other animals to occupy him. He had one ridiculous lapse in judgement that nearly got him strangled though: on the last night at my parents' house he ate my brand new $27 hank of beautiful wool. It was sitting next to a $2 skein that I had gotten on sale, but naturally he didn't want that one. Other than that near-fatal mistake, he was very good on his vacation.
He made the 15-hour car ride with us out to our new post. He did surprisingly well in his crate the whole way, until we got about two hours out. At that point, he completely wigged out and started banging his head on the bars and yelping. I let him sit in my lap the rest of the way.
He did fine in the Army hotel, considering we were in the "pet section" and there were barking dogs all around us. He didn't like the constant come-and-go of the cleaning crew, but overall he did OK. He's been pretty good in the new apartment as well. It's funny that none of our furniture is here, and we have tan carpet and walls; I can never find him because he camouflages so well into his surroundings! He took up a fascination last night with those springy door stop things: he constantly boings it, and he's already eaten the rubber stopper off.
But most of the time he's content right here at the patio door.
Bryan Singer, the film's gay director and responsible for The Usual Suspects and the first two X-Men movies, compounded the anxiety last week by describing Superman Returns as a "chick flick about a superhero seen from a woman's perspective, with qualities you'd want in a husband". The woman is Lois Lane, played by Kate Bosworth.
I've avoided commercials and previews for Superman Returns because I want to go in fresh. But this article about how metrosexual Superman is certainly has me nervous. They better not have messed with my Man of Steel.
And look at all the money wasted! Man. Nicolas Cage got $27 million for nothing? Ugh.
This is a very touchy subject right now, but Big Lizards has a lengthy post on the Ann Coulter deal. Ann Coulter is always good for a guffaw, and I'm often shocked at the things she's comfortable saying, but I agree with Dafydd when he lays out his argument as this:
Ask yourself this question: what reason is offered for us to accept the analysis of the Jersey Girls about what's wrong with our response to 9/11? Why listen to them, instead of (for a wild example) Big Lizards?
The only reason put forward is that 9/11 "tore our families apart and destroyed our former lives."
I recommend reading the whole post to understand Dafydd's argument.
And I hope every second of those 52 minutes was agony...
And I thought we had been around the Army for a "long time" because new privates have ACUs! That's nothing compared to R1's time in...
So far my favorite reaction to Zarqawi's death was from my friend Heidi: "May he rot in hell because I know that Sean and all the other soldiers did not let him in heaven."
It's hard to put into words how I've been feeling for the last six weeks. My friends from Germany keep wondering if the magic has worn off yet, and I can honestly say that I'm thrilled it hasn't. I still bounce out of my seat when we pass a Dairy Queen or an Arby's. I walk slowly through every aisle in Walmart, trying to take it all in. And I laugh every time I notice something that is different from the way my life was for the past three years.
The biggest joke I've noticed is that my husband and I are complete suckers for advertising right now. Since we went for three years without commercials, we find ourselves buying into the hype. Sonic runs a commercial for a junior banana split, and I immediately want to go out and get one. Quizno's runs a new sandwich, and we go get it for dinner. We even saw some dumb commercial for a Crunch bar, and my husband and I turned to each other and said, "Heck, I don't even really like Crunch, but I sure want one now!" I find myself wanting the Nicer Dicer and the Total Gym and everything else I see on TV. I hope this wears off soon!
Another thing I've noticed is that I talk to everyone. Waiters, strangers, people in line...I just have this overwhelming urge to chat. I spent three years avoiding small talk and praying that salesclerks would not ask me any hard questions, so I can't stop jabbering at everyone. I love talking to people!
I'm also not used to air conditioning, so I'm freezing my butt off. I had forgotten how shocking it is to go in and out of buildings in the US, to constantly go from 60 degrees to 95.
And cruise control is heaven.
Via CaliValleyGirl via Smink, I heard about this academic paper on milblogs. I haven't read the whole thing yet, only the part that Cali pointed out to me on pg 13.
Neil Prackish is an Army reserve officer and Silver Star awardee for valor; a dentist in civilian life, Prackish recently stopped blogging on his popular site, Armor Geddon, because of his own concerns for operational security.
Um, no, no, and no.
Neil Prakash is an active duty soldier. He is not a dentist, nor does he have any plans to be one (but his parents both are). I would even quibble about the reason he stopped blogging, but since I only know because we've sat in my living room and talked about it, I can hardly fault the authors that one. But otherwise, at least please spell his name right. Neil was hardly secretive or incognito on his blog, so these are things that should've been easy to fact check.
See, I typed "Neil Prakash" into google and immediately found better info on him than this academic paper provides. Of course, I spelled his name correctly, so maybe that's how I found it so fast. Hardy har.
The first time we moved together, away from our college town and to our first duty station, the first move of many to come, my husband surprised me by bringing along our Tom Petty CD and playing "Time to Move On" as we headed off. We've continued to do this every time we drive to our new post, and every time I cry as we leave the old. That is, every time until now. I honestly can't say that I was sad to leave Germany; the only thing I miss so far is Erin, Kelly, and The Girl, and I've talked to one of them on the phone about every three days anyway! (Also, can I just say how wonderful it feels to have three friends who seem to miss me as much as I miss them?)
It was time to move on, and I'm so glad we did.
I love our new post. I realized that I've never been around basic trainees before. It wasn't so obvious at Knox, and there were none in Germany, but since this post is almost exclusively a training post, I've found it seems everyone is a private. And I love it. I drive around with this stupid grin on my face because I'm constantly passing formation, duffel packing, pugil sticks, bayonet training, and other extremely cute things. I love when a pack of trainees is standing in formation outside the Shopette, all clutching their AAFES bags of goodies. I even love the way the gate guards welcome us to the post every day: "Victory starts here."
But I realized yesterday as I was moving stuff out of our hotel that living off post will be a completely different experience for me. This is the first time I won't constantly be surrounded by Army. I realized I won't wake to the sound of PT, and I will have to make a special effort to drive onto post to ogle at basic trainees. For many wives, moving off post comes as a relief, but it saddens me. I love on post.
Over the weekend, we caught Markos Zuniga on Tim Russert. Overall I thought he did a good job of presenting his side without making me want to smash the TV, but there was one thing he said that really didn't sit right with me. Russert asked Kos about his military service, and he had this to say (clip here):
I think one of the tragedies of the war right now is that so many people like me, people who came from lower socioeconomic status, from the barrios or the ghettos or the trailer parks or low income areas use the military, which is a very colorblind society, very meritocratic, use the military as a way to build their self esteem, to grow as a human being, and to learn very valuable life skills, and come out of it with money for college. And this is what I did, and it was very effective in helping me get to where I am today. I would not be the person I am today without my military service -- I'm extremely proud of it -- and it just pains me to see how many lower income people now do not view the military as an option because, clearly, join the military, get shipped to Iraq: it's not a very attractive proposition.
Our nation has a military in order to defend the US and fight her wars. That's the whole point of a military. I hate when people act like the military should be a place where they can get free college or some extra cash for one weekend a month and not have to do any of the hard work. The military is not a summer camp where you get to know yourself and then get free college. Kos should've known that back when he joined right before the first Gulf War. The military is serious business, and anyone who joins thinking he can reap all the benefits without any of the risks is a jerk. The US doesn't front millions of dollars so some kid from the barrio can find himself. He has to fight when called to, so if he doesn't want to fight, he needs to find someone else to finance his maturation process. Period. It irks me that Kos acts like the US is oppressing low income kids because they can't have their college and eat it too. If you're not prepared to fight, the military is not for you ever, even in peacetime.
I've been thinking a lot about Bunker lately. It's been a year since he passed away, and I still miss him very much. I think about him often when something exciting happens in the news, so he was one of my first thoughts yesterday. He would've been so excited about Zarqawi's death. I just wish I had baking utensils or flour and eggs, for I surely would relish a "Suck it, Zarqawi" cake right about now. Maybe I can make a belated one...
We got internet access last night, and I have a million things to say but no time to say them in. I was going to sit and blog this afternoon, but the husband got done with class early, so I'll go back to the hotel to be with him and the pup. Tomorrow we are officially moving into our apartment though, so there will be no reason why I can't blog.
I took this photo before we left my parents' house. My collection of cookbooks doubled when I hit the ground a month ago...
It's a wonder we fit everything in the car...now we just have to fit it all in 500 less square feet!
We made it. The place is nice, if just a tad small. But we'll live for six months. We're still getting settled; our unaccompanied baggage gets delivered on Tuesday, so we should be on the internet within a day or two. Can't wait to be connected again.
And can't wait to start cooking!