January 31, 2007


I haven't written about my jobs yet because there hasn't been much to say yet. My first job is that I will be the new installation ambassador for Military.com. Basically, it will be my job to promote the website and their services in this area. Since my job boils down to getting more eyeballs on their website, maybe you could take a minute to check it out? Maybe read some opinions or watch some Shock and Awe videos or read SpouseBUZZ? And if you're a veteran or a spouse looking for a job, they have a great employment tool.

My second job starts this weekend, and I haven't said anything yet because I thought if I said it out loud, I would jinx it. I am going to start teaching the knitting classes at our local Michael's. A knitting job...how can it get any better? And part of my job description is that I have to promote the class by knitting in the Michael's and answering customer questions. So I get paid to go sit in Michael's and knit. I've been in a perpetual Michael Moore "Was it all just a dream?" fog about this job. I can't wait to get started.

So, life is pretty sweet right now. Except for the dead fish.

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One more fish down, the remaining two are hovering near the surface and covered in a mold-like fuzz. Don't expect them to last long. Sigh.

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January 29, 2007


We set up an aquarium when we lived in Missouri, and we loved watching our fish. We skipped the aquarium in Germany because I don't know what I would've done if the fish had lived longer than our stay there. And now that we're staying put for a while, we started the aquarium up again. We bought nine tropical fish, three of each type of tetra, and named them 1st, 2nd, and 3rd squad of our "tank" platoon (hardy har). And we loved them dearly...for eight days.

Yesterday, our tank turned into Lord of the Flies.

It started as a silly joke: "Man down in 2nd squad! Medic!" But the joke stopped being funny when the fish wouldn't stop dying. We lost six of them in 24 hours, including one who died during the night and was reduced to a pulpy spine by morning. Today, the fish who had been so happily schooling together for a week were all spread out around the tank, eyeing each other warily.

I went back to the store with all the corpses to ask which circle of hell my aquarium had morphed into. The girl told me that we had way too many fish in the aquarium, which sucks because it's the exact opposite information that a different girl told me when we came in to pick them out. I will go back tomorrow with a water sample to test it out, and if all checks out, I will buy two more fish. Five instead of nine. No more squads, but I guess that's OK.

Oh, and I bought the fish on my credit card, so I had a great sob story for the checkout girl: Not only did five of my fish die, but I bought them on a credit card that's now been cancelled for fraud. And how has your day been?

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I just found this Army wife's blog post and it made my fingers itch to write:

I was told the other day that Hubble's ultimate mission is to come home to me (actually the choice of words was "come home to his mother" but we're not going there today). I had to bite my tongue. That is not the ultimate mission. It is to succeed, to better, to save, to secure. I know he can do all that. After all, I married him.

He did not enter the service to fulfill the mission of coming home to me. We both well know that there is a chance he may make the ultimate sacrifice. That is something we've come to terms with. There IS a war and there ARE people depending on him.

My husband is freaking out that when it comes time to get his Civil Affairs assignment, he'll get South America or something. We have no idea if this is even something to worry about, but I've seen the Army do dumber things. (I met a soldier on our post in Germany who was an Algerian-born fluent Arabic speaker...and he was on Rear D while the rest of the post was deployed to Iraq. The Army is anything but logical sometimes, but I digress.) My husband wants desperately to be put to good use to support the Global War on Terrorism because, like kd's husband, his mission is "to succeed, to better, to save, to secure."

The meaning of life is not Avoid Death. The meaning of life is to use your life for meaning.

Not everyone in the United States sees meaning in what we're doing in Iraq. I attribute this to many things. AWTM remarked that "people are much too busy watching American Idol/Dancing with the Stars and Deal or No Deal to bother researching world Events." I also fault the Bush administration for not helping Americans see what's really going on. But some people, like my husband, want to do what they think is right, no matter how many people the polls say are backing them.

As den Beste put it,

Honor comes from inside. An honorable man is true to himself and his own ideals, and he lives and acts according to those ideals no matter what anyone else says. It doesn't matter if that makes him respected or despised, for honor is not based on peer opinion.

And an honorable man will, if necessary, die for honor, die for what's right. There are issues worth dying for, and issues worth killing for. These things are not done lightly, but when they must be done an honorable man does not shy from his duty, even if he has to face it alone. It is more important what you stand for than who you stand with.

Honor is not and cannot be "multilateral". When you stand up for what's right, you may stand with many others, but each of those others stands there because of his honor. Each makes that decision for himself, and every one decides unilaterally.

If you compromise your honor in the name of "unity", or of "harmony" (or "alliance", or "multilateralism"), then you have lost your honor and have sold it cheaply. But if you are willing to do that, you never really had any honor to begin with.

I admire kd's husband's honor and sense of duty despite the naysayers around him. And I admire my husband for taking a job that will take him closer to the fight.

And I pray they don't give him South America. We'd have another ukulele incident for certain.

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Dear people who dabble in credit card fraud,
I hope you die of gonorrhea and rot in hell.

Yep, somebody bought somethin' on e-bay, and it sure wasn't me. I started this website to try to grok people whose value systems are different from mine, but this is over the top. I admit that I nod in agreement when Neal Boortz refers to taxes as stealing, or when my husband talks about "taking from those who can and giving to those who won't", but honest-to-goodness cheating and stealing is beyond my comprehension. Someone on this planet thought it would be OK to use my husband's hard-earned money to buy $900 worth of stuff. I hope they find "Ruth Belton" and lock her up. Or string her up, but I know that's too much to hope for.

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Just when we all thought the UN couldn't get any more disgusting. Go see some lauded entries from the UN political cartoon contest, entries that were "chosen for their ability to enhance, explain and even help direct the spirit and principles of the U.N." And then tear your hair out.

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January 28, 2007


Thank heavens this man did not end up as our president...


Nor this guy our vice-president (via Conservative Grapevine)...

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January 27, 2007


Charlie got his hair cut on Thursday, and man, did he get it cut short! He's been walking around the house shivering for two days. I spent all day Friday looking for a doggy coat for him, but the only ones I could find were ones my husband would kill me for putting on the dog. So I found this website with a Free Resizable Pet Clothing Pattern. I gave it a shot, and for $5 Charlie now has a handsome reversible coat to keep him warm.


I'm pretty danged proud of myself. And Charlie's only tried to tear it off once.

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January 25, 2007


I went to the doctor on Wednesday to ask some questions about prenatal care. I figure if we're going to do this, we need all the info before we dive in. The doctor was incredibly sweet and very encouraging, but she seemed almost surprised that I would bother asking her these questions. She said something like, "So, that's neat that you're planning everything in advance."

I realize that I'm overly anal, but is it really that shocking in 2007 that someone would plan for a baby?

I've been reading What to Expect When You're Expecting. (Remember when I bought it and had to sheepishly explain to the pregnant salesgirl that I wasn't pregnant or even thinking of being pregnant yet?) I was shocked to open the book and find the first chapter was "Are You Pregnant?" Huh? Chapter 21 is called "Preparing for the Next Baby" and starts out with:

In the best of all possible worlds, we would be able to plan life to our precise specifications. In the real world, where most of us live, the best-laid plans often give way to the unexpected twists and turns of fate over which we have precious little control, leaving us to accept, and to make the best of, what comes our way.
To assure the best of all possible pregnancies, we would know in advance when we will be conceiving -- and before we did we'd make all the changes and adjustments in our lifestyle necessary to help ensure the best possible outcome. But such advance planning is a luxury many women -- because of menstrual irregularity and/or the fallibility of contraception (or that of a couple winging it) -- may never be able to indulge in.

If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right and "assure the best of all possible pregnancies." I accept the fact that I might not get pregnant the instant I start trying, but I do not accept the fact that I would get pregnant earlier than expected. My husband and I have gone above and beyond to be sure there have never been any oopsies; is that really that strange?

This is the single most important thing I will ever do with my life. Doesn't it make sense to plan for it?

I guess I've just been surprised that a very modern and updated book -- one that even makes sure to include a section about the effects of doing cocaine before you know you've conceived -- assumes that people still don't know where babies come from or how to prevent them. The book that repeatedly makes assurances that you can still get pregnant despite multiple abortions for some reason also assumes that women don't know anything about their own bodies. You have the right to choose, obviously, because it's your body, but heaven forbid you learn enough about your body to prevent all those danged abortions in the first place. Planning for a pregnancy? That's absurd. We'll shove it into chapter 21. But let's make sure to address previous abortions on page 21.

How out of whack are our priorities...

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If I enjoy my child half as much as Lileks enjoys Gnat, then we'll be a happy little family indeed.

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January 22, 2007


Read Varifrank's 10 Things I Learned From Iraq

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Matt Sanchez has written a great article about the anti-military attitude he's encountered at Columbia. My favorite part:

For the academics, joining the Corps over attending an Ivy League school was an obvious sign of desperation.

Were we desperate? Our platoon "heavy hat," Staff Sgt. Forde, never once mentioned he was named the best tanker in the Corps — two years in a row. But my professors at Columbia always mention the books they and their colleagues have written and often assign those books, as graded papers, so we all have to mention them, too. Who is desperate?

(Found via SandGram)

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January 21, 2007


I hosted a small baby shower today for the one person I know here in town. We invited four of her friends over for lunch and presents. And when they left, I kicked my feet up on the coffee table and noticed that I was wearing one black shoe and one blue one. Sigh...

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January 20, 2007


If I could sum up how the Army has given my life more meaning than I ever thought possible when I agreed to marry that ol' cadet, this is what I'd say: Perspective.

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January 19, 2007


Confederate Yankee sent an email to the Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs for the Associated Press about discrepancies in their "Jamil Hussein" reporting. As I read this email, I couldn't help but laugh. I wonder just how deep the MSM's hatred for bloggers runs. Can you imagine if you came to work every morning only to find that some "guy in his pajamas" tore apart your stories and demanded corrections and retractions? And bloggers find problems with many stories, not just the most obvious ones like the National Guard memos or flaming tire piles in Lebanon. I bet the Associated Press and Reuters don't even know what to do now because they keep getting their butts handed to them by nobodies.

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Apparently Muslims are mad that the terrorists in the new season of 24 are Muslims:

Watching the show’s characters talk about detonating a nuclear weapon a few blocks from where she works unnerved Sireen Sawaf, an official with the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, and a self-described “huge ‘24’ fan.”

“It’s a great show, and I do realize it’s a multidimensional show that portrays extreme situations,” she said. “They have gone out of their way to have non-Muslim terror cells. But I’m concerned about the image it ingrains in the minds of the American public and the American government, particularly when you have anti-Muslim statements spewing from the mouths of government officials.”

Yeah, well I was concerned in Season 2 that the terrorist was not the Arab guy but his rich white girlfriend, because that's oh-so-likely. I'm concerned that portraying terrorists as Rachel Corries makes me have to take my shoes off more often at the airport. Pretending that terrorism comes in all shapes and colors concerns me because I think it's a red herring from the real issue. But my concerns don't get to be quoted in any newspaper articles.

You know, a terrorist was found in my hometown of Peoria. Guess what? He was Muslim. So was the professor in Florida. Maybe the official from the Muslim Public Affairs Council should be more concerned about the damage real terrorists are doing to her people's reputation and less concerned with Jack Bauer's neverending day.

More concern with this


less concern with this


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January 18, 2007


I was listening to Neil Boortz on the radio the other day, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about something he said. He was talking about speed limits, and apparently he's a big proponent of not having any. He says

The next time you're driving on an expressway keep track of the number of times you have to change what you're doing on the road because of a fast driver. How many times do you have to change your speed or your lane because someone is driving faster than you are? Now remember ... we're talking just speed. You may have to slow down because someone swerves into your lane .. but how many times do you have to change your speed or anything else about your driving technique simply because someone goes by driving ten or twenty miles per hour faster than you are.

Ahhh .. but how many times do you have to change what you're doing because of a slower driver? You're doing the speed limit in one of the left lanes, and suddenly you're behind a minivan going 10mph slower than you are. You have to (1) slow down, and (2) change lanes. Then you (3) speed up and then (4) change back into your travel lane after you've gone around the bluehair. The slowing down and lane often creates a ripple effect though the other drivers on the road. One of them may be caught off guard .. and a crash ensues.

Someone called in to the show and said that he drives an old VW bus and that he typically goes about 65 because his car can't handle higher speeds. Boortz told him that he has no business being on the expressway then, and he should stick to two-lane highways.

I've lived in a country with no speed limits. That doesn't really solve the problem. What Boortz apparently really wants is speed minimums. In Germany you could drive as fast as your wheels could take you, but there was still a steady stream of Dutch campers in the right hand lane going 65. So if I wanted to maintain a speed of, say, 80, I was constantly weaving in and out of campers going 65 and Audis going 95. I think I did more lane-changing and swerving in Germany than I do here in the US. Eliminating the speed limit in Germany didn't eliminate slow drivers; it just made the disparity even bigger. What Boortz appears to want is no upper limits paired with enforceable minimums. I'm not sure how we can force people to avoid expressways as they drive across the US.

German driving reminds me of French handwriting. When I lived in France, I was amazed that every French person seems to have the same handwriting. Apparently their handwriting training is strict, and they get graded on handwriting far longer than American kids do. I was even told they handwrite their job applications so employers can do handwriting analysis to find out their habits and tendencies. That's intense. So with the strict emphasis on following the rules of writing, they all end up with very similar penmanship. Same with German driving: the rules of the road are higher stakes than ours are since folks think nothing of driving 95 mph. Germans learn the rules and are much more likely to follow them. The traffic might be going pretty fast, but surprises and bonehead behavior is less likely.

Americans drive like their handwriting: everyone's got different rules going on. I think stricter adherence to the rules regarding lane changes and so forth is more important than speeds. You'll still have the pokey folks going 60 mph in the right lane, but at least they'll stay there!

Incidentally, I don't speed here in the US. I was comfortable driving 80 mph in Germany, but what I'm not comfortable with is getting a ticket. I set the cruise directly on the speed limit and get passed by nearly every car and semi out there. So folks are already speeding, regardless of what the signs say. Following the rules of the road will do more to prevent accidents than speeds do. Boortz says as much on his website, but he was focusing a lot on speeds on his radio show, which didn't sit right with me.

Actually, getting people to get off their damn cell phones would be a big step in the right direction. The first rule of driving is to Pay Attention...

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January 17, 2007


Today's reading via RWN: 20/20 Bias.

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January 16, 2007


"The time has come," my mother said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And how you need to get pregnant this year while your husband is in a non-deployable state instead of waiting until this arbitrary date in the future that you picked out years ago which you know darn well coincides with when he will start galavanting all over creation."

I'm scared to death of raising a child. I know it's something I want to do, but I wanted to keep it in the vague future. Someday I would be a mother. But someday is upon us, and my mother is right: I need to start thinking about specifics if we're really going to have a family.

I called a friend of mine from Germany, the least-likely mommy I know. This is the couple who hated being around children and always said there's no way they were up for parenthood. So when they decided to get pregnant, I wasn't sure how they'd fare. They PCSed, so I never saw her pregnant or anything. I knew that she was the one to ask the tough questions about babies, instead of constantly talking to Angie (pbuh), who would come raise my babies for me if I'd let her. I called her to ask her how motherhood is treating her and to get the Real Scoop on things.

She loves it.

I was shocked that this girl has taken to motherhood, and she said that knowing what she knows now, she wouldn't have waited so long; she would've done it years ago. I was just floored. So I figure if they can love it -- the least gung-ho parents I know -- then I can love it too.

Nothing's happening today, dear readers, but inshallah we'll be on the road to parenthood by the end of the year.

My friend called me back today and gave me some tips on things she wished someone had told her. She mentioned back-strengthening exercises, something I never would've thought of on my own. And it made me think that others might have some good advice for me as we start this journey.

So what advice do you have for someone who is thinking of getting pregnant?

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I don't do spontaneous. Everything in my life must be planned out and written on the calendar or it's not going to happen. Saturday night we got a phone call from a college friend saying that he had planned to fly to Virginia and surprise us by renting a car and driving down, but that his flight out of the Midwest had been seriously delayed and could we possibly drive up to see him instead? We had absolutely no reason not to go, but making plans the night before to take a trip to another state is so not something we do.

We did it. And it was wonderful.

We stayed in a historical hotel that one of our other friends from college runs. He comped us a majorly expensive room and let the dog come too. I had no idea I had friends in high places.

Immigrant friends.

As I watched these two buddies of ours, I was so danged proud of them. They both had come to the US ten years ago with nothing, just the Indian dream of making it big in computer science. And now they're our two most successful friends. I have a hard time feeling sorry for Generation Broke when I think of all these guys have had to overcome. And their visas are always in limbo because they come from a country with too many qualified immigrants. So unfair.

We watched the football, and the 24, and then talked for hours about Kashmir and Iraq. Thank heavens we didn't let our organization obsession get in the way of the most wonderful weekend we've had in a long time.

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January 12, 2007


Warning: War May Be Hazardous

One of my stateside friends deployed and wrote me an email saying he couldn't believe we in USAREUR had to watch AFN commercials. He was outraged that there was a commercial warning folks to "watch their step."

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January 11, 2007


This has been the hardest blog secret to keep ever. I was dying for her to post something about it so I could put up a big blog hooray. But apparently telling people in her Real Life was important for some reason, like they couldn't just read it on the internet like the rest of us (wink). CaliValleyGirl-friend is now CaliValleyFiancée

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I can't really think of any great recent Charlie stories, but we've been setting up the aquarium and he's been extremely interested in the equipment. Maybe there's a lingering fish smell, but he's constantly making off with the net. And the other day I was on the phone with my mom and walked into the living room to find the fishtank rocks completely covering the floor. No sign of them coming out the other end yet, thank goodness. I told my mom what had happened and she said, "I hope you keep a closer eye on your babies than you do on that dog." With my luck, this crafty stinker will figure out a way to teach my babies to eat rocks.


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January 10, 2007


A while back, AWTM was asking for contributions to the most depressing songs. I suggested Harry Chapin's "Mr. Tanner" and Jude's "I Do." But tonight as I was dancing around the kitchen with the dog to some Tom Jones, I wondered about the flipside to that question. What songs bring a smile to your face no matter what? I mentioned before that I can't but grin when I hear Elvis' "Burning Love" or that detestably cheerful "Mmmbop." I also can't help but feel happy when I hear The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be." (Go ahead, you know you want to listen to it.) I love it so much that we played it to close out our wedding, as we kissed and walked back down the aisle. We thought it was a tribute to all the miles we lived apart while we were dating; little did we know how often we'd live apart for the rest of our lives. I love that song, it's a true love song.

So what songs make you happy?

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Remember this summer when our travel voucher got all messed up and the Army paid us about $600 too much? That overpayment finally got found and corrected in November. But they did it again this time! And WAY more than $600. My husband just sighed and said, "More interest to be made." OK, Army, we'll keep your two grand for you for a while.

Ah, Finance. It's good to be away from you.

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Make sure you read Lileks today, but definitely go read the link to the French guy first. Ha!

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January 09, 2007


I just watched Shootout: Return to Fallujah on the History Channel. This episode chronicled one soldier I know -- CPT Sean Sims -- and many soldiers I was amazed I had never heard of.

I've read so many stories of heroism online, but there's something completely different about reading it and hearing it from the soldiers themselves. I love the way soldiers can talk about grenades going off and appear more calm than I was last night when a Coke fell out of the fridge and sprayed in circles around the kitchen. There's something just so powerful about hearing that when a guy who was dragging his wounded buddy to safety got shot in the shoulder, he simply switched his grip to the other hand and continued to care for his friend. There's something about seeing these men talk about each other with awe, and sometimes a few quivers in the voice, that doesn't come across online.

There's something humbling about watching a single man sustain a firefight alone that makes me so damned proud to know that I even lived in the same town as him once.

God, I love these men.

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January 08, 2007


Walmart takes a lot of crap, so I thought this webpage where the VFW thanks Walmart for their support was pretty cool.

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I have been completely spoiled for the past four and a half years.

The entire time my husband has been in the Army, we've lived extremely close to his work. Most places have been walking distance; the last one was at least biking distance. So every day he's been in the Army, he's made three trips into work: PT, pre-lunch, and post-lunch. We've eaten breakfast and lunch together most of our married life.

Today he went to work for the first day before PT and won't be back until close of business.

I keep telling myself that normal husbands and daddies don't get to come home for lunch. My dad never did. I also keep telling myself that now that he won't break up my day, I will have more uninterrupted time for big sewing projects. But I'm still not taking this been-gone-for-11-hours thing well.

Neither is the dog.

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When I first started blogging, I linked to everything I liked. Now I've gotten much lazier and there's just too much good stuff out there to highlight it all. But you should read this.

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January 06, 2007


I know I'm a day late and a dollar short on this post, but I thought of it while I was unpacking boxes and just never got around to blogging it.

You know how Miss Nevada was stripped of her crown for being a skank? I was thinking that it's a lot more likely that girls of her/my generation would have something like this in their past to hide. How are we ever going to find First Ladies out of the Girls Gone Wild generation? Lots of college girls do dumb or slutty things these days, and with the prevalence of cell cameras, they'll never be safe from their antics.

Just a thought. Today's Girls Gone Wild chick is my kid's future third grade teacher...

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January 03, 2007


Varifrank's entry on Saddam's execution: Gauge the distance

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Doesn't this hullabaloo over "Where's Obama?" remind you a bit of the time they gave the James Earl Ray plaque at a Martin Luther King celebration? Some typos should just never happen.

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January 02, 2007


I'm still making my way through A Pocket History of the United States; I haven't gotten much reading in during moving time. I'm up to JFK though, and the book only goes through Reagan, so I should get there soon. I've been learning a lot and gaining perspective on our country's lifespan.

One of my favorite bits, from weeks ago, is on the Constitutional Convention:

They were aided in their discussions by the rule of secrecy which the Convention strictly kept. Publicity would have magnified the dissentions; it would have tempted members to make speeches for the galleries or press; and it would have laid them open to pressure from their constituents. The sober citizens of Philadelphia deserved praise for their refusal to pry into the Convention's work. Once at the dinner table Franklin mentioned to friends the old fable of the two-headed snake which starved to death because the heads could not agree on which side of a tree to pass; he said he could give an illustration from a recent occurrence in the Convention; but his friends reminded him of the rule of secrecy and stopped him.

Can you even for a moment imagine this happening today? There's no way that 39 men could work in secrecy to draft a constitution, but thank heavens it happened that way back then.

I also have noticed the book getting slightly less rah-rah about the US, as I mentioned in the preface and as several Amazon readers noted. However, it's not nearly as bad as another book I recently skimmed through. The Girl, bless her heart, loaned me a book called What Every American Should Know About American History. It has some interesting chapters and brings some knowledge to the table, but some of the stuff is just so biased. My husband was the one who noticed that the cover of the book shows six photos that sum up American history...and one of them is of Rodney King! And I about died when I read the two-page chapter called "The Cold War Ends" and there was not one single mention of the words Ronald or Reagan. Give me a break. I love that The Girl sent the book to me (please don't hate me), but some of chapters just killed me.

The Pocket History book isn't that bad, but I think the Red Scare deserved a tiny bit more than a brush of the hand, at least if David Horowitz is even halfway truthful.

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