December 31, 2004


I think New Year's Eve is the most overrated holiday of the year. I don't even like staying up until midnight, and I completely relate to what Lileks said about how the Midwest's midnight is totally eclipsed by New York's. I'm the first one to bed; at 0005, I'm done.

The only New Year's Eve I actually enjoyed was the millennium, and that's because I spent it alone.
Well, almost.

On 31 Dec 1999, I was a senior in college, home for break. My parents had gone out, my brother was having a party in our basement, and I was invited to a friend from high school's house. I went over there and had a great time catching up with everyone. I remember vividly that we nerds all compared when we finally lost our 4.0 averages: one friend complained that he had lost his first, and we reminded him that he was at Princeton, for pete's sake. I love being a nerd.

But as midnight approached and we gathered into the living room, I just began to feel uneasy. It was 1999, the edge of a new millenium, and I had this vague feeling that I wasn't spending the evening right. I couldn't shake the thought that I would regret being where I was. And so, at 11:45, I stood up and told my friends I was going home; they looked at me like I was crazy. I made up some story that I had promised my brother to be home at midnight, and I think they bought it. I said goodbye, and it was the last time I've seen any of those people. I wish we could get together again, but I didn't want to be there that night.

I got in the car and drove home, making it to the doorstep a few minutes before midnight. But I didn't really want to be with my brother's friends either. I knew who I wanted to ring in the new millennium with: I snuck upstairs and grabbed a good friend of mine to take outside with me.

I saw my watch turn to midnight and heard firecrackers in the neighborhood to celebrate the millennium -- the most important year switch I'll ever see -- sitting outside on the steps with my pet fish. That's the only New Year's Eve I'll ever really remember because I was alone with a good friend who didn't know anything about overrated holidays or thousands of years. He just knew he liked to kiss my fingertips when I dipped them in his bowl.

Best New Year's ever.

Posted by Sarah at 11:20 AM | Comments (3)


I swear I laughed all day Wednesday when I read about SSG Terry-speak. "Personal bandanna" is my absolute favorite; I can't wait to meet this guy in person.

Posted by Sarah at 11:01 AM | Comments (2)


I haven't said anything about the tsunami yet. When I first heard about it, I had two very cynical thoughts: 1) wow, that's a lot more deaths than in the war, and 2) how long until someone blames this on the US (which is why I found this humorous dialogue so funny). I don't really know what to say; how can you even begin to fathom 100,000 deaths? Entire islands under water? I can't even begin to grok it.

I do keep returning to one thought though. I first began to think about it when I read Cosmos, and the thought returned to me as I read Jurassic Park. Watching that silly The Day After Tomorrow right before the tsunami hit made me think about it even more.

Man cannot destroy the planet.

The big chunk of rock that occupies the third orbit around the sun will always be there. What is on it will continue to change though. I've always thought it was awful self-righteous when people say that man is destroying the earth. I don't attribute that much power to mankind. Man might destroy his own habitat, making it impossible for man to live on earth, this I will concede, but the earth will survive anything man throws at her.

I read something else the other day that is pertinent here:

In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals.

Man needs the earth a helluva lot more than earth needs man. The tsunami -- heck, all natural disasters -- is a good example of the precarious eqilibrium of adapting the background to our needs. Man wants to live near the water, for the bounty and the beauty of the sea. He tames the sea with retaining walls and houses on stilts, but this time the background won the fight.

I wish when people spoke of Kyoto, they wouldn't say that we're ruining the environment. We might be ruining our environment, making it more difficult for earth to sustain human life, I don't know, I'm not an environmental scientist. But the earth will survive all SUVs and aerosol hair sprays; it just may not be an earth we can live on.

And so I went looking for the exerpt from Jurassic Park and found that another blogger already made my point three days ago. He used the same exerpt:

You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity! Let me tell you something about our planet: Earth is four and a half billion years old. There has been life on it for nearly that long: three-point-eight billion years. Bacteria first, later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea and on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals: the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals. Each one enduring millions on millions of years. Great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away... all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval: mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away. Cometary impacts. Volcanic eruptions. Oceans rising and falling. Whole continents moving in an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. And it will certainly survive us.

If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the Earth was sizzling-hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere. Under the soil, frozen the Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. Might take a few billion years for life to regain variety and of course it would be very different from what it is now, but the Earth would survive our folly. Only we would not.

If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the Earth... so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. You think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison. It's a corrosive gas, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on Earth. Those plants were polluting the environment: exhaling a lethal gas! Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless life on Earth took care of itself.

In the thinking of a human being a hundred years is a long time: hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers, or vaccines. It was a whole different world. But to the Earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms... and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we were gone tomorrow, the Earth would not miss us.

And so earth won the battle in Asia this week, which we're not used to seeing on such a large scale. But don't kid yourself: earth will win the war too, eventually.

Posted by Sarah at 09:24 AM | Comments (3)


Bunker wrote about the notion that the military is "society's trash heap", and I only have one thing to add. Having taught four sections of college English, I can say that the soldiers in my classes are just like students in any other classes. There are those who work hard, those who make excuses, and those who simply don't show up. I have had numerous non-native speakers who have taken my class and excelled because they worked hard to improve the English that they barely had learned by basic training. I have had students whose foundations have really impressed me; they must have worked hard in high school. And I've also had students who don't want to think for themselves and call me every time a paper is due to ask me what they should write. I believe that's the same cross section as I had when I taught at University of Illinois, and I imagine it's the same for any class anywhere.

The one difference I see is when my students write their narrative paper on one incident in their lives that has made them who they are today. That's when things start to get serious. By and large, my students have overcome extreme obstacles to get to this point in their lives, far more so than my college friends or I have. They've survived gang shootings, jail sentences, IEDs, domestic abuse, immigration without being able to speak English, combat deaths of their friends, and extreme poverty to get to where they are today. Most are grateful to have been given the opportunity to be in college, and they take nothing for granted. They've worked hard to get where they are, far harder than most of my peers in college.

Posted by Sarah at 08:37 AM | Comments (1)

December 30, 2004


My mother recently found out more information about the stabbing of the couple from my high school. The airman who killed both of them will face the death penalty.

The rumor around Peoria is that this airman tried to kiss Jamie at a party and she rebuffed him. So he killed them both. Obviously I was not there and do not know the actual details of what happened that night. However, if this rumor is indeed true, then this is one of the most frightening things I can imagine. If this is true, then Jamie did nothing wrong. Any wife could find herself in Jamie's situation, which is what makes this extra tragic in my eyes. If Jamie had been messing around or doing something foolish, then her death might make more sense, but she presumably had done nothing wrong. She turned down a guy who wasn't her husband, and they both died for it. I can't even begin to make sense of that. It worries me when I think about actions and consequences: getting into drugs, cheating, or hanging out with seedy friends are actions that inherently imply consequences; being loyal to your husband is not. I just can't get my mind around that one.

If the events really did happen the way the streets of Peoria say they did, then Andrew Witt should die.

Posted by Sarah at 03:06 PM | Comments (5)


Did you know that on the application to work for the Dept of Defense Dependent Schools, the race category of "white" includes anyone "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East"? I guess I've never thought before about which group an Arab might choose; apparently they choose the same one I do. "White". Interesting.

Posted by Sarah at 01:37 PM | Comments (1)


The third part of that series is out: World Speaks Our Language and Attends Our Colleges

For two years, the Pew Research Center for People and the Press polled 66,000 people from 44 countries on whether children "need to learn English to succeed in the world today."
The answer was a resounding "yes."
More than 95 percent of those surveyed in Indonesia, Germany and South Africa agreed that English is necessary for children. More than 90 percent of those surveyed in China, Japan, France and Ukraine agreed.
Only one of the 44 countries had a substantial minority that disagreed — 35 percent of Jordanians said English is not a necessity.

And that attitude will make all the difference for the future of the Middle East.

Posted by Sarah at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)

December 29, 2004


The other day, Ken of RebelRouser emailed me and said that he wanted to blogroll me but that he didn't know my story and didn't know if he should file me under military or civilian. I explained my story to him and said that I was therefore a civilian. He then emailed back with something that has had me glowing for a week:

Make no bones, you're in the military and you are not a Civilian. As far as
I'm concerned, you're a Soldier. I think this is something Americans need to
realize, and I think you are just the person let them know.

And then he invited me to join his new blog.

Now writing under the name Nasty Dawg, Ken has started a group blog called Don't Thank Me, Thank My Recruiter. He has gathered active duty and veterans from all branches and ranks to blog together, and he wanted to fill the dependent angle as well. That's where I come in.

Everything is up and running, virtually overnight, so I was the last one to report for duty. Please check out Thank My Recruiter; I think it will be an interesting exchange.

Posted by Sarah at 09:55 AM | Comments (6)

December 28, 2004


I had to do a double take: an article about the US that's all good? Woah.
America enjoys view from the top

And it looks like it's a five-part series; I'm anxious to read the rest.

Posted by Sarah at 11:18 AM | Comments (3)


It's common knowledge around here that I completely don't trust polls. Even ones that say things I want to hear. I certainly put no stock whatsoever in polls that say there's a 51-49% split, but I'm tempted to at least check out polls that report 60, 66, or 87% findings. I'll check them out, but they're still worth a grain of salt, because I think that people say what they think others want to hear and they consistently choose "fair" or "agree" as the default (I do this all the time when I have no strong feelings either way). So with skepticism in mind, I checked out the Military Times Poll (via Power Line).

Sixty-three percent of respondents approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, and 60 percent remain convinced it is a war worth fighting. And support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting.

The soldier I spent Christmas with -- who just re-enlisted -- said that when he first deployed, he thought going to Iraq was a pretty dumb idea. After being there, he says he now sees why it is important.

In addition, despite the pressures of a wartime military, 87 percent said they’re satisfied with their jobs and, given the choice today, only 25 percent said they would leave the service.

The only soldier I know who might get out wants to do so because he's like an athlete who quits after Olympic gold: after being in Fallujah, there's nothing that could keep him satisfied. I'll give you one guess which lovable thrillseeker I'm talking about.

I know this poll has received arched eyebrows because it was mostly answered by career military, but they are the people I am most concerned about. To be honest, the views of the guy who only joined for the college benefits don't matter to me nearly as much as the ones who plan to stick around and see this fight through. I care about the 58% of those who said they're re-enlisting/extending because of "patriotism". They're the ones who are going to make sure the war in Iraq is a success.

(The last time I wrote about a poll, vitriolic nutjobs came out of the woodwork to defend the poll's findings and call me hateful names because I said that a poll with 1230 respondents and a margin of error +/- 3% might not be accurate of the population. (Which I said because the questions were ridiculously loaded, and as it turns out, the poll skewed heavily Democrat.) Let's see if those same people -- those who liked the results of that poll -- come back to tell me that I should indeed listen to the results of this poll with 1,423 respondents, +/- 2.6%. I won't hold my breath.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:41 AM | Comments (5)


I borrowed some CSI episodes from a friend, and I'm about overdosed on the show. Last night I spilled a squirt of lotion and my immediate thought was that it would really confuse forensic experts. I need to get out more.

However, in watching the show, I started wondering if the popularity of shows like CSI or Law & Order has had an impact on jurors. And apparently it has; there's even a name for it: "the CSI effect"...

But the programs also foster what analysts say is the mistaken notion that criminal science is fast and infallible and always gets its man. That's affecting the way lawyers prepare their cases, as well as the expectations that police and the public place on real crime labs. Real crime-scene investigators say that because of the programs, people often have unrealistic ideas of what criminal science can deliver.

I wonder about the effect of high expectations. I know that I personally have read articles about the unreliability of witnesses, even in classes such as neurolinguistics. I'd be skeptical of any witness testimony. Too skeptical? I don't know. Perhaps. One mantra that CSI drills into the viewer's head is that people can lie but the evidence can't. I think that lesson might be in the back of my mind if I were a juror.

One thing that I have learned from the show, that I hope I never have to put to use, might be how to intentionally leave evidence. In one episode, one of the CSIs went on a ransom drop and kept leaving intentional clues for her fellow CSIs to find. Sometimes, when my mind wanders furthest, I think about that use of forensics.

Of course, my favorite Onion article ever was "Area Man Has Complete Prison-Survival Strategy", in which the man lies in bed and makes plans for what he would do if he were jailed. My imagination frequently runs away with me like that.

Posted by Sarah at 08:19 AM | Comments (4)

December 27, 2004


I bet you can all guess what happened when a blogger tried to buy toy guns for his sons for Christmas. Think he could find any?

My friend and I were laughing the other day while I was looking at her refrigerator. She has several photos on display of her husband in Iraq, and she also has some drawings magneted up there -- I guess her husband mails home pictures he drew and then her two sons color them in. What I laughingly pointed out was how odd it would look in a non-military family to have a fridge covered in photos of Dad with his M16 and colored drawings of a soldier manning a 50cal in a HMMWV or a jet dropping bombs on buildings. But to us, those kinds of things are completely normal. My friend turned to her four year old son and asked him, "What's Daddy's job?" He gleefully replied, "Soldier!" They decided it was the coolest job a Daddy could have.

I don't have any kids to scar, but my fridge still bears my husband's zero target from the day he shot expert. I think it's awful cute.

Posted by Sarah at 08:40 AM | Comments (5)


We got rain on Christmas; so did the husband. And then yesterday the Angel Balboa dumped a bunch of snow on us for Boxing Day. Whatever Boxing Day is.

I keep coming to the computer, sitting down, and saying "meh" after about ten minutes. The motivation just isn't there lately, and whatever I have to say has already been said better elsewhere. By the Questing Cat, by Jeff Jarvis, and by Varifrank. Seriously, read their posts instead of mine; I have nothing to add to their wisdom.

I did learn to crochet yesterday. I've wanted to learn for a while, so I finally got up off the couch and headed to my neighbor's. Since all of my current knitting projects are for people who might be reading this, I can't show any of my work, but crochet items are going to be all mine. I'm starting on a hat.

See, I just hit the meh point, where I just stare at the screen and my eyes start to glaze over.

Posted by Sarah at 07:48 AM | Comments (5)

December 25, 2004


I can't help but laugh thinking that Christmas for my husband will be more like Xmas on Futurama: In 2801 the Friendly Robot Company built a robotic Santa Claus to determine who'd been naughty and who'd been nice. But Santa malfunctioned and he now thinks everyone is naughty. And when Santa thinks you're naughty he murders you.

He knows when your are sleeping,
He knows when you're on the can,
He'll hunt you down and blast your ass from here to Pakistan.
You better not breathe, you better not move,
You're better off dead, I'm telling you, dude.
Santa Claus is gunning you down!

Be careful, husband. It's Xmas.

Posted by Sarah at 11:02 AM | Comments (4)


Before I go downstairs to watch Rudolph and open my presents, I wanted to write a little about what Christmas means this year.

What does Christmas mean this year?

For me, the best part about Christmas is giving presents, and since there's no one else in the house, I don't get to watch anyone open anything. That's a real bummer. The second best part is when Dad makes pancakes, but I don't get any of those either. So what do I get this Christmas?

I get the tranquility of knowing that my husband is safe and sound. He's made it ten and a half months with nothing worse than some close calls, and his work in Iraq is almost complete. I know that somewhere in Iraq there's a little tree covered in funny ornaments inside a very messy cormex, and that makes me smile.

I also get the satisfaction of knowing that big changes are happening in the Middle East, changes that are a direct result of American military intervention in the region. President Karzai just appointed three women to his cabinet in Afghanistan. Three women. In a country where four years ago women were forbidden to work at all. That's progress, and it's real, and it's because my own country finally intervened. You don't know how proud that makes me of my country.

This Christmas I also get the relief of knowing that we are halfway through our tour in Germany, that soon we will return home. Home, land of the Pilgrim's pride, where I'd give anything to be. I just couldn't go without my husband; I couldn't leave him in Iraq while I went to the greatest place on the planet. I have to wait it out so we can go there together, step off the plane, and know that we both are finally home.

Christmas brings a turning point in the deployment. Christmas was the furthest goal we had set for ourselves, the last milestone before redeployment.

We're almost there.

Posted by Sarah at 09:01 AM | Comments (6)

December 24, 2004


Cracking up right about now:

"Person of the Year!" I spat. "Person of the FEAR is more like it! Red Alert! Orange Alert! Green Alert! Nipple Alert! Between the phony terror warnings and the FCC thought police monitoring everything I say, I'm afraid to crawl out from under my sink in the mornings anymore. And that ain't the half of it, sister! On Bush's watch, 150 million people lost either their lives, their jobs, or both. Half the country is being outsourced to Pakistan, and the other half has been brainwashed by cross-burning Jesus freaks. As we speak, little children - helpless little children - are being marched into religious gulags posing as public schools, where they're forced to say "under God" in the pledge, or even encouraged to practice abstinence against the very laws of nature. The air is unbreathable, the water is full of arsenic, the Bill of Rights no longer exists, and two normal, law-abiding gay guys can't even walk down the street hand-in-hand without an inbred Repug making fun of their leather chaps and sequined cowboy hats."

"Mr. Chomstein, please."

"And the hegemony...oh, the hegemony!" I continued. "The whole world hates us, our allies despise us, and we're on the brink of nuclear armageddon because Bush and his red state church maggots waged an imperialist war for oil in order to pave the way for their "Messiah" to return, surfing on a tidal wave of AIDS victims and Enron pink slips! Meanwhile, innocent women and children are stripped naked and forced to play leapfrog across Gitmo by leering, chain-smoking midgets with no gaydar, as Donald Rumsfeld sits proudly upon huge pile of Halliburton loot, humvee armor, and crudely written form letters to the families of retarded jocks. The streets have turned to rivers of blood, the whole world hates us, Clinton's record budget surplus has vanished, squirrel numbers are declining, women are sacrificing their careers for their "family", and Jerry Falwell is drilling in ANWR. Peaceblossom is gone, Yassir Arafat is dead, Kirstie Alley is fat, and Mom's eating dog food right out of the can because Bush took away her social security in order to give tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent! If that's what it takes to become Time Magazine's "Person of the Year", then job well done, Dubya! MISSION A-F**KING COMPLISHED!!!!"

I love Liberal Larry.

Posted by Sarah at 08:33 AM | Comments (4)


I was awake for over an hour before I realized it was Christmas Eve. I guess that's what happens when you're 27 and alone. Christmas will be fine this year though; several friends are still in town, so they're coming to my house. I have a tree and everything. And Mom sent me three boxes of gifts, so I've even got presents under the tree.

I can't help but think of Christmases past though. Like the year I got the Barbie RV; I saw it and thought I was still sleeping. The year my father built me a dollhouse, and my parents stayed up all night wallpapering it. The year I asked why Santa's handwriting looked an awful lot like Mom's. The year I finally got to sleep with my grandma (my brother always got to sleep with her): she kept me awake all night with her snoring, and I was panicked that Santa wouldn't come unless I was asleep. The dorky Christmas video we made for our grandparents that we still show to embarrass each other in front of spouses and girlfriends. The Christmas two years ago when the movers came to pick up our household goods to move us to Germany.

Or my favorite Christmas memory of all: the year we got a Nintendo. My brother opened the wrapping paper, and I'll never forget the magic in his voice as he exclaimed, "There must be a Santa Claus because Mom and Dad would never buy us a Nintendo!"

Posted by Sarah at 07:59 AM | Comments (5)

December 23, 2004


1 Blog...

10 Veterans...

and millions of uninformed Civilians.

This could get ugly.


The battle begins January 1, 2005

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)


CavX laments the values being portrayed on TV these days and notes that the last show to "reflect the values of the average American was probably The Cosby Show." I'll drink to that. TV is such crap these days. The only thing we watch in this household is Smallville, which represents Superman's values, so how can you go wrong there? I also never miss a rerun of Happy Days. Arthur Fonzarelli is one of the greatest role models of all times: he's the coolest guy in town, but secretly he wishes he were Richie. (Oddly enough, Lex Luthor fills the same shoes in Smallville.)

We also are big fans of animated shows (Futurama, South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons). I remember when my brother got interested in The Simpsons early on, I thought it was a terrible show with terrible values. I mean, Homer was always choking Bart. But that was the extent of my knowledge about the show. As I've started to watch earlier episodes, I've seen some very heartening things. Homer may be a bumbling fool, but he loves his family and always puts them ahead of himself (see "Colonel Homer" or "I Married Marge"), and Fry may be a fool, but he loves Leela (see "Parasites Lost" or "Time Keeps On Slipping"). And the women on the shows don't treat the men nearly as badly as un-animated women do. I stopped watching Everybody Loves Raymond the day Debra drove Ray to rip up his Super Bowl tickets. I couldn't believe that she could be so selfish as to refuse him the happiness of going to the Super Bowl with a buddy. Modern women treat men like dirt on sitcoms, but Marge is always patient and loving. She loves Homer for who he is, not who she can make him into. Leela's not there yet -- she preferred the parasitic Fry -- but she doesn't try to make Fry something he's not; she just doesn't date him. (I'm hoping she comes around in Season 5; Nibbler needs to get to work on his promise!)

Several years ago, I had an argument with a feminist: she said that it was demeaning to take on gender-specific roles in the household, even if you don't mind. I said that I was perfectly happy with doing the dishes and laundry while my husband mowed and took out the trash, so why should we switch chores just to avoid being gender-bound? She was appalled; I was bewildered.

I'm a pretty old fashioned girl. One of my students brought in The Good Wife's Guide to show me as a joke. To be honest, I don't really think it's that funny. I think one of the best ways to success in marriage is to care about your spouse more than you care about yourself. Caring for my husband means recognizing that he works harder than I do every day, and that my stupid problems of arguing with my co-worker are nothing compared to what he faces in Baqubah. Caring for him means wanting him to come home to a clean house and yummy food. Caring for him means bringing him a beer or going to get him a cookie. The trick is that I do those things because I want to, not because he expects or forces me to. That's the key to success. My goal is to make his life better or easier, which makes him happier, which makes me happier. It has nothing to do with being trapped in gender stereotypes or forced to act like Susie Homemaker. There's nothing inherently wrong with traditional gender roles; the only problem is when someone is forced to fit a role she doesn't want. I willingly accept the role, and I'm happy to do it. TV women these days consistently seem to resent that role, and thus end up paired with unhappy husbands. They don't care about their spouse more than themselves; they care about "being equal." I'm just not interested in watching that.

So anyway, the phone just rang and I've lost track of where I was going with all of this. If I were one of my students, I'd lose points for having a weak thesis. In summary: TV sucks. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go see what's on.

Posted by Sarah at 09:39 AM | Comments (11)

December 22, 2004


Annika does Poetry Wednesday every week, so I thought I'd share one I like. I'm sorta hit and miss with poems -- either I love it or couldn't care less -- and there are only a few that I think are really superb. This is one of them:

by John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Posted by Sarah at 01:16 PM | Comments (1)

December 21, 2004


The 1ID website has got the only holiday video you'll see that contains both toy distribution and explosions. Check it out.

I am leaving to take two friends to the airport, so I'll be out of blogging range for two days. More when I return.

Posted by Sarah at 12:52 PM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2004


Tonight I watched The Day After Tomorrow. The social agenda in that movie was almost as bad as Superman IV.

Posted by Sarah at 10:59 PM | Comments (2)


I had a thought the other night that would probably make Den Beste cringe, but I realized that I'm glad that he shrugged. He started writing because it made him happy. He got noticed, and more and more people tried to control him. Write about what I want to hear. Make sure you include this angle. No, you're wrong about this minor detail. Maybe if you read Ayn Rand you'd understand. And so on and so on. He started carrying the world on his shoulders, getting more and more burdened by pedantic mail and impossible demands. And finally he shrugged.

Who is John Galt? Den Beste is.

And all of a sudden, now that I think of it that way, it's easier to bear his absence. I'm happy for him, now that the weight has been lifted from his shoulders. I'm happy that he's let go and stopped letting the looters rule his blog. I'm happy for him, and it makes missing him easier.

But now I'm worried about him because he's sick.

(And, yes, I'm relating everything in my life to this book right now. Sue me.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:00 PM | Comments (7)


The husband and I have to get divorced. That's all there is to it. What else am I supposed to do after this exchange?

Sarah: everyone keeps telling me that now that I have vacation, I should go home
Sarah: but I cant go home without you
Sarah: we're a team
husband: yes ma'am
husband: team america, fuck yeah
Sarah: ha
Sarah: have you seen it yet?
husband: yes ma'am
Sarah: was it funny?
husband: yes ma'am
Sarah: dang

He left me behind! You never leave a man behind...especially not on the way to a Parker/Stone movie.

(I'm just kidding. He's trying to find a way to get me a copy, but they're sold out.)

Posted by Sarah at 09:40 PM | Comments (4)

December 19, 2004


I remember reading some blogger note how ironic it is that Americans write comments on Iraqi blogs trying to tell Iraqis what Iraq is like. Apparently it's gotten the best of Ali, and he's hanging it up. Thanks a lot, folks.

Posted by Sarah at 09:18 AM | Comments (3)


Look at Bunker's new style for the holiday season! I like it.

Posted by Sarah at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)


Until Amritas put me on the spot, I didn't know the full details of Charles Jenkins' desertion. (Remember he's the guy who was in North Korea for almost forty years and just turned himself in.) When I first heard the gist of the story, I thought he was despicable, but now I believe he's paid the price for his choice.

Jenkins' unit, he had learned, was scheduled to ship out soon to the live war in Vietnam, a prospect that terrified him. "I did not want to be responsible for the lives of other soldiers under me," he said during his court-martial trial last month. So Jenkins looked for a way out. He could confess his cowardice to superiors and accept the consequences or attempt somehow to flee. He chose the latter option.

He should have chosen the former. When you sign up for the military, you'd better be prepared for the worst assignment possible in exchange for that precious GI Bill. You don't get to pick and choose with the military -- as Paredes and Hinzman believe they can -- so if you break that contract you signed, you go to jail. You don't try to flee. That said, Jenkins paid dearly for his error in judgement, working as a slave to the North Korean government for 40 years, and turned himself in willingly at the first chance he could find.

He would plead guilty only to desertion and aiding the enemy (for the time he spent teaching English). In exchange, his penalty would be a maximum 30 days' confinement, a demotion to private, forfeiture of all pay and benefits and a dishonorable discharge. Military-law experts assume Jenkins won this relatively lenient treatment in exchange for providing intelligence about North Korean spy programs. Neither Jenkins nor the U.S. government will comment on any such discussions.

Jenkins has paid his debt to the military and to society, and he has likely suffered far more than if he'd stayed in the Army a few more years. His slate is clean in my book. Hinzman, on the other hand, has far more 'splainin' to do.

Posted by Sarah at 08:51 AM | Comments (5)

December 18, 2004


I have a confession to make: I bought The Matrix: Revolutions tonight. Yes, I know, I know. General consensus is that it sucked, but I have to see for myself because I still haven't seen it. I missed it the one day they played it in the theater here (yes, we get movies for one day only, unless they're mega-blockbusters), and I have to know how it ends. I don't care if it's the worst movie ever; it's been a year, and I have to know.

But I'm positive I won't think it's the worst movie ever. I'm sure my husband would say that my favorite movie genre is Crap, which is evidenced by my owning The Karate Kid Trilogy and Big Trouble in Little China. I'm easily entertained, have criminally low movie standards, and am a complete sucker for explosions, especially when they're set to techno music. Hence, my desire to see the final Matrix movie.

Since it's common knowledge that the movie was bad, it goes for $6.83 online, so I feel no guilt whatsoever in purchasing it. And I will watch it eagerly when it shows up. However, I will likely refrain from writing the embarrassing post about how I enjoyed it. Because I know I will enjoy it. Big Trouble in Little China, remember?

Posted by Sarah at 11:31 PM | Comments (9)


I've been cleaning out my husband's hotmail while he's been gone, and I just noticed that he saved all of the emails I wrote him while we were dating. I've gotten sucked into reading them all over the past few hours, and I must say that I was something else back then. It's funny how he's been gone for ten months: back when we started dating, I couldn't stand to be without him for an hour. Probably the only person who will be interested in this post is my husband (and maybe Annika because she paid us a nice compliment in our interview). Without further ado, here is an Anthology of Goofy Crap I Said to My Husband Back in 2000:

I will think about you twice every second while you are gone.

Girls dig sponges of useless knowledge, so if anyone tries to pick you up this weekend, get her number and then I'll go after her wolvyberserker style and beat her senseless. Mercy is for the weak.

Without you, I am Schroedinger's cat...both alive and dead...

It is funny how I have been looking forward to spring break for 18 weeks, counting them down, and then when I had to leave you I felt like I wanted to stay. I am about to waste 25 hours...the travel time...and all I can think about is how I would love to stockpile those hours and save them to spend with you.

My mom found out you are 19. Ha.

When I am without you, my heart is all ate up.

This is the last time I can write to you from Sweden, so I am going to blow you another kiss through the ethernet cable and tell you that I cannot wait to see you.

I am listening to "Glory of Love," the cheesy love song from the Karate Kid, and I wish you were here with me. I'll see you when you get home. And I promise not to be grumpy.

Work will be torture because you will not be there.

[when my roommate was annoying me] Only one more week. After that I will never share a room with anyone but you for the rest of my life.

I rented a movie and blah blah blah, everything seems so empty and boring without you.

I wanted to tell you that I want to marry you and have your big headed children and that I cannot imagine having to do this for another two years. Two days has been torture enough.

Are you drunk?
Are you telling stories?
Are you missing me as I am missing you?

Your grammar mistake was cute, but only after I realized what you meant to say. You wrote: "I am so glad to find out that you read my email. I'm glad you are not worried. You have no reason to be my Sarah." I hope you meant "You have no reason to be, my Sarah"!
I love you. I have every reason to be your Sarah

P.S. All pushups done for our beautiful flag are good pushups. (You are so strong!)

I love you so much that in driving home today, I started crying because I happened to look into a house window and see a wife straightening her husband's tie in the living room. I wanted so much for that to be you and me.

I miss you. To steal a metaphor from one of my new professors, when I am without you, I feel as alone as a bean rolling around in a boxcar.

[after watching an episode of Days of Our Lives] I love you, though. I will never say that you raped me just because you were keeping it a secret that your father didn't really die when he got shot by the Italian Mafia and is instead pretending to be dead to get back at your mother who is trying to cover her murdering tracks.

I am really starting to miss you. I can't wait to be together. 315 days until we get married...

I love you because you didn't vote for Nader and because you think Krispy Kreme donuts are overrated.

And my favorite:

My roommate told me something once that I have been trying to forget for four years. She once said, "In every relationship there is one person who loves more." Once I heard this wise statement, I began to analyze all of my relationships, both romantic and friend. And I have found through the past four years that she has unfortunately been right. There is usually one person who is head over heels for the other and the other tries to figure out why he does not feel the same. My view of relationships has drastically changed in the past four years because in my mind there was little chance of anything that resembled real love.

However, there was the oddball relationship that would come up every once in a while, the two people who seemed so in love that I could not tell who loved more. And my amendment to that statement is that in every relationship there is someone who loves more, until the two people reach a state of love where the difference is indiscernable. It's like some sort of calc graph where the lines become tangential and almost appear to be one graph. And so I decided that this is the only true love, the love where you cannot tell where one graph ends and the other begins.

I was thinking about this as I drove back to school, and I realized that I do not know who loves more in our relationship. It has been so easy to see with others, yet I really think that we love equally. And that amazes me. We are a calc graph. A horizon. A rainbow whose end you can never find.

"In every relationship there is one person who loves more, unless you are [husband] and Sarah, and then you just love the most."

My husband didn't do so bad himself. This one's my favorite:

Before you, I didn't give a rat's ass about girls. Now, I'm a shell of my former self. I'm pathetically crazy about you. I miss you so much that I read all your emails over again and listened to the voice mail message you left me over and over just to hear your voice. How pathetic is that? I would have kicked my own ass in the olden days. Who am I kidding? I love how crazy you make me. Come home.

Husband, the way I missed you five years ago is nothing compared to what I feel now. If it sounds like I loved you then, my feelings have only grown. I miss you so much and I can't wait to see you again.

You're favorite.

Posted by Sarah at 02:21 AM | Comments (9)

December 17, 2004


John Hawkins braves the Democratic Underground again and finds a wonderful example of the irony that happens when Christmas pageants can't mention Christmas.

Posted by Sarah at 08:38 AM | Comments (2)


Reader mjseabee on Smash's blog pointed out a wild coincidence. I followed the story of a blogger named SGT Lizzie, who recently ran over an IED and got her "happy ass blown up", as she said. It turns out that Red 6, my husband's best friend, recovered her vehicle. Here's her account of the story, and here's his. Thanks to mjseabee for noticing that two bloggers' lives crossed for a moment.

(Update: Looks like they've figured it out.)

Posted by Sarah at 08:14 AM | Comments (1)


Last week, Annika -- a cool blogger whose themes include poetry and ripping on Britney Spears -- interviewed me via instant messenger. She just tidied up the conversation and posted it on her blog. I think I sound like a huge tool, but I bet that's pretty representative of my real personality: I probably sound like that to everyone. Anyway, if you're interested in hearing me yabber for an hour, check out Chicks Dig Tanks over at Annika's.

Annika and I touched briefly on Pat Tillman, a segment I would like to expand. I seriously didn't hear about the friendly fire until last week. I think the phrase "friendly fire" is is one of the worst things I can think of. I'd rather pretend it doesn't exist, but Tillman's death forced me to imagine the possibility.

2Slick wrote a long and detailed post on the anger the Tillman family feels, the "Army cover-up", and his thoughts on the matter. If you're interested at all in the subject, I highly recommend reading it. I think 2Slick summed up the crux of the controversy, at least for me:

There's a reason why the men involved refused to talk about the incident with the WaPo reporter. It makes them sick. Every single day. It's the first thing they think about when they wake up in the morning, and it's the last thing they think about when they go to bed at night. [...] But no amount of punishment could ever compare to the stomach-grinding guilt that these officers and soldiers will live with every single day of their lives. Please forgive the Army officials for not wanting to string these people up and administer public floggings.

Every now and then, I offer the same generic, sing-songy disclaimer: I have never been in the Army, I speak as a civilian, 75% of what I know comes from my husband, the other 25% comes from movies, etc, etc, etc. That said, I would like to return to the movie Courage Under Fire, which I mentioned twice was the reason I married my husband. I've been told that this movie is pretty emotionally accurate, and when I read 2Slick's post, I kept thinking about Denzel's character. He tortures himself throughout the whole movie for the friendly fire death he caused. In the end, the soldier's family says it's easy to forgive him, but now he has to learn to forgive himself.

One night right after CPT Sims was killed, I had a dream I was a soldier clearing buildings in Iraq. I shot someone who came rushing in the door and then realized he was an American. I woke up with the worst feeling imaginable, and that was just a dream. The guilt I felt based on a dream was so horrible that I can't begin to imagine the guilt of reality.

When your husband is deployed, you can't help but mentally plan for tragedy. I don't know if anything we mentally plan would actually hold up to reality, but we unconsciously work our way through various scenarios so that they're not uncharted territory should they ever come up. Last Wednesday I had to work my way through a mental friendly fire death. That was harder than anything I've imagined so far. But I know that it wouldn't be nearly as hard for me as it would be for the soldier who fired the round. That's how you would forgive something like that.

2Slick is right: there are only victims in a friendly fire, not villains. Is that the way anyone wants their soldier to go out? Hell, no. Is that the way Pat Tillman should've gone out? Not a chance. But I think I can honestly say that I would have an easier time dealing with being the family member than with being the soldier who shot America's hero.

Posted by Sarah at 07:54 AM | Comments (4)

December 16, 2004


So today is apparently the day to just post funny stuff. This one's for all my reality show addicted friends: Survivor: Texas Style

And this one's for my mama.

Posted by Sarah at 11:10 AM | Comments (2)


We're due for a post raving about my husband since I haven't done one in like a couple days now. Every time we chat online, I remember why he's my favorite person in the whole wide world. My husband is not only the smartest man I know, he's also one of the funniest:

Russell: cool about the OIF 4 stuff
Russell: no 1st ID
Sarah: wait, isnt that OIF 3?
Russell: no OIF three is coming in 2 months
Russell: 3rd and 42nd ID
Sarah: dang, I get them confused
Sarah: there are almost as many as the Rocky movies
Russell: Man OIF 5 is gonna suck then

Posted by Sarah at 10:41 AM | Comments (1)


Another joke:

Politics: It all really just boils down to this:

Democrats: Give them a second chance.
Republicans: Give them the swift sword of death.

The poor:
Democrats: Give them some food.
Republicans: Give them the swift sword of death.

Endangered species:
Democrats: Give them protection.
Republicans: Give them the swift sword of death.

Democrats: Give them a way out.
Republicans: Give them the swift sword of death.

The uninsured:
Democrats: Give them health care.
Republicans: Give them the swift sword of death.

Democrats: $9,000,000,000,000,000,000
Republicans: $29.95 (cost of one sword)


Posted by Sarah at 09:29 AM | Comments (3)


Law and order are coming to Iraq. In baby steps, naturally, but they're coming.

Posted by Sarah at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)


Man, how come I don't live in Hanau?

Posted by Sarah at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2004



1LT Neal Prakash from Albany, New York, a tank platoon leader with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 63rd Armor, fires an AT-4 shoulder-fired rocket into a building in eastern Fallujah Nov. 10 after receiving fire from the site during Operation al-Fajr (New Dawn).

Compliments of the 1ID website, pointed out by an observant mother-in-law.

Posted by Sarah at 05:47 PM | Comments (1)


And because we all could use a laugh, here's a joke from Oda Mae:

A Baptist minister was seated next to a Marine on a commercial airline flight. After the plane was airborne, drink orders were taken.

The Marine asked for a scotch and soda, which was promptly placed before him. The flight attendant then asked the minister if he would like a drink.

The minister replied in disgust, "I'd rather be savagely raped by brazen whores than let liquor touch my lips."

The Marine handed his drink back to the attendant and said, "Me too. I didn't know that was a choice."

Posted by Sarah at 02:47 PM | Comments (6)


When I sat down at our office Christmas lunch, I immediately remembered that I don't like any of the people I work with. I ate with a bunch of looters. Two hours of conspiracy theories and "health care is a right" and all sorts of socialist nonsense from people who have chosen to remain in Germany as squatters, mooching off the Army. The table conversation would've been funny, I suppose, if it didn't make me want to throw up. One woman was complaining about health care in the US and about how much better it is in Germany. She said that German doctors weren't motivated by money like American doctors and that they earn the same salary as schoolteachers. "Then what's the incentive to become a doctor?" I asked. She got all flustered and condescending. "But that's thinking like an American! You can't think like that!" "But I am an American," I responded. "I'm an American to the bone." "But life isn't about money!" she whined. So here's where the fun began. "OK," I said, "then since we all work equally hard in our education center to help soldiers, why don't we pool our money and all get paid the same salary?" "Oh, but that's different because we work under the American system..." she trailed off. Different, really, how? Oh, because she makes $61,000 a year and I make $12,000. It's her pocketbook now, so it's different. "Germans aren't motivated by greed like everyone is in the US," she continued. Her mental gymnastics were simply stunning: this is the woman who gets an outrageous housing allowance from the American government, illegally rents part of her house out, and uses the profit to buy up property in Germany and re-sell it. I suppose she does all of that out of the goodness of her heart and not for profit or anything.


On the way home, I tried to convince myself that I had just had a lovely lunch with Bunker, Deskmerc, Amritas, Fad, and CavX.

A girl can dream, right?

Posted by Sarah at 02:31 PM | Comments (8)


I had read this Michael Crichton speech on junk science before, pointed out by Kalroy, but I returned to it today, pointed out by Hud. It's amazing how much junk science we're inundated with every day. My favorite bit, per global warming:

Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?

This is one of the best articles I've ever read.

Posted by Sarah at 10:16 AM | Comments (13)


The OEF and OIF 2005 troop rotations are in the paper today.

And Gunner Palace is opening in theaters. Naturally, I won't be able to see it. First Team America, then Gunner Palace. But by golly we can't live without showing Christmas with the Kranks.

Posted by Sarah at 09:03 AM | Comments (2)


Every once in a while, I find myself wondering what Saddam is up to. Especially when I see him cavorting with Satan all the time. (I still think Saddam should be forced to watch South Park episodes starring himself. Cruel and unusual? You betcha.)

So it's always fun to find an article about what Saddam is doing these days. Oh look, he's starving himself to prove a point.

A year after his capture on December 13, 2003 Saddam, once the most visible symbol of the country he ruled for 33 years, has faded into obscurity amid the daily insurgency that has engulfed Iraq.

To quote John Kreese of the Cobra Kai: "You're nothin', you lost, you're a loser." But don't let Saddam fade too much away; we have to keep ourselves pumped up for the day when he's executed.

Posted by Sarah at 09:00 AM | Comments (2)

December 14, 2004


What's the answer to this comment?

I Understand you[r] explanation, but I think you are missing the point we (the angry at Rumsfeld) are trying to make. When the head of the Armed forces says, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the one you might want," and the timing of that war was determined by that man, it is a disrespect to the troops who are over there fighting and dying. It was Rumsfeld's responsibility to have the "Army we want" before going to war. The Pentagon ignored the Army War College's analysis of the course of events. All of this was predicted before we invaded. If Rumsfeld was not so arrogant, maybe these guys would not be asking these questions. "Even tanks get blown up," is NOT and adequate answer and it disrespects every man and woman over there. If he was in the private sector, he would have been thrown out on his ass a long time ago. You can respect the presidents decision to go to war, but you cannot respect our troops AND respect the way Rumsfeld runs things. He has been incompetent from the start and if you have friends or family over there, you should be as pissed as I am... just my two cents worth.

Rebel Rouser has the answer, complete with colorful language and plenty of punchlines. I read every last word of his answer; you should too.

And apparently he wrote Military Classes for Civilian Dumbasses first, which is just as good.

I like this guy. Reminds me of Deskmerc.

Posted by Sarah at 08:05 PM | Comments (7)


I have a friend who works at AFN radio, so I requested "American Solider" for SPC Mahlenbrock. They can't play it at 1900, but they're going to play it earlier in the day and explain why they're playing it. We're doing our part here in Bavaria to honor SPC Mahlenbrock's last request.

Posted by Sarah at 10:49 AM | Comments (1)


Varifrank tackles the underpants gnomes of "import less oil".

Posted by Sarah at 07:57 AM | Comments (2)


Last night I had a dream that my husband and I were reading blogs together. What an exciting life, huh? Anyway, in the dream my husband got up to go to the bathroom, and I thought of something I wanted to say to him. I woke up and thought to myself that I would tell him when he returned from the bathroom. Then I had the slow realization that he wasn't in the bathroom.

We hit the 300th day last week. And I found today that my deployment philosophy is the same as Major Phelps':

I continually tell myself and I wholeheartedly believe that if we as a country can confront terrorism and rouge nation-states that support terrorist acts and if we can bring peace, hope, freedoms, and democracy to a country in the heart of the Middle East while at the same time solidifying the security, freedom, and liberties of this great nation then my sacrifice is inconsequential. If I am asked to partake in some small way to accomplish this goal then I say take me before my four sons are confronted with this problem in 20 years and they are forced to clean up a problem that has only festered, become increasingly worse and a problem that we should have confronted twenty years earlier. We are doing the right thing, and America needs to stand united and reaffirm to themselves every now and then that we are in fact doing the right thing. I think I'm a free minded thinker, and I'm not "brainwashed" by the President, Mr. Rumsfield, or some "right wing propaganda conspiracy theory." I really think we're attempting to accomplish something monumental. I guess we'll see.

I don't mind being left alone for a cause this important.

Posted by Sarah at 07:48 AM | Comments (4)

December 13, 2004


I got a little frustrated the other day. My former roommate writes for an anti-war publication. Sigh. It was no surprise, really; if you met her, you'd instantly recognize her as anti-war. But something about seeing her name there in black and white really irked me.

I figured out what was bothering me so much the next day when I read an update on the Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge. Many blogs that I read every day are raising insane amounts of money for Spirit of America to help Iraqi citizens. LGF alone has raised over $14,000. Apparently one of LGF's readers went over to one of the biggest left-leaning blogs and asked why none of them had considered contributing:

Why aren't you involved in Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge? Whether or not we agree on the war, can we not agree that it would be best for a Free Iraq to get off the ground? Not only for the US but for the Iraqis themselves?

Your side whines that conservatives are cold and cruel, but when it comes to demonstrating compassion with your own money (as opposed to someone else’s) the Left seems rather reluctant.

I’m here to throw down the gauntlet. LGF has hit the ten grand mark.

Can you compassionate Leftists beat us?

It was a snarky challenge, but a legitimate one, I think. The response his question generated was quite disheartening. Most commenters just called him names (remember, this is the lefty blog that linked to that ass who called me fucktard dumb...), while others refused to participate in Spirit of America because, naturally, their money would just be funneled back into Dick Cheney's pockets.

And I realized what was bothering me.

My old roommate writes poetry to speak out against the war. Atrios' readers use their filthy mouths to denigrate right-leaning bloggers. But what have they done of substance? If you oppose the war, shouldn't you support helping Iraqis put their country back together? Regardless of whether Bush looks like a chimp or not, shouldn't the idea that someone is raising money to help the common people of Iraq be a good thing? If you believe the war was wrong, shouldn't you believe the people of Iraq were right and thus want to help them?

It's warmongers and chickenhawks who have raised $62865.72 so far for the people of Iraq. As far as I understand, there's not a lefty blog among the participants. I find that very sad.

My old roommate writes anti-war poems. I donated to Spirit of America. Which one of us has done more to help the people of Iraq?

Posted by Sarah at 09:26 AM | Comments (105)


I don't see it happening any time soon, but this uniform is pretty freaking cool. Of course, I had a crush on Robocop when I was a kid...

Posted by Sarah at 09:04 AM | Comments (10)


The night we got married, my husband and I said goodnight and shut off the light. I then heard this small tinkling sound. "What was that?" I asked. "Nothing," my husband said suspiciously. "Seriously, what was that?" Turns out it was my husband sneaking his wedding ring off his finger and onto the nightstand. "But it's bugging me," he whined when I was hurt that we'd been married less than six hours and he was already taking his ring off.

When he got home for R&R, the first thing he wanted was his ring back; it's grown on him now. I'm glad he doesn't wear it in Iraq -- it's dangerous -- but I wonder if he's as attached to his ring now as Lance Cpl. Battle is to his...

Posted by Sarah at 07:42 AM | Comments (4)

December 12, 2004


Some soldier perspective on the question posed to Sec. Rumsfeld the other day:

Greyhawk + follow-up
A Line in the Sand
2Slick + follow-up

And from my favorite reservist:


I've started writing about armor on vehicles quite a few times only to cancel it. We just can't get into the details without violating OPSEC (Operational Security). I can't tell you why that works without revealing details that can be of use to our enemies. I especially can't talk about the downsides either.

The first IED I ever saw took out an 18-wheeler in front of me. It blew the cab on to the left side of the road while the trailer careened off to the right. At the time, I was riding in an unarmored Humvee without doors.

I went to Fallujah in a Humvee with canvas doors.

I hunkered behind a "frankenstein" scrap metal door in Najaf as bullets bounced off.

With all that and more, I'm not sure it really makes all that much of a difference. When I look at the trade offs with what is truly gained, I really don't know. I do know that many soldiers now and before us went into Harm's Way with less ~ am I or any other soldier any more special?

One thing I have truly come to believe, if its your time - it's your time. I don't care if you're wrapped in armor while sitting in a bunker, if it's your time then you're a goner. So with that in mind, does it really make that much of a difference?

I round 'em up, you decide.


More on armor above.

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (12)


The husband finished Atlas Shrugged the other day; I still have a couple hundred pages left. But what I'm noticing as I'm reading is a sad parallel between what's happening in the book and what I've been reading on blogs lately. Take this gem for example: In Britain, if you want to replace a broken window or rewire the lighting in your house, you have to ask the government's permission. Bureaucrats have to come and make sure your home still meets Kyoto regulations. Of how 'bout this from the Netherlands: The government would pay artists with taxpayers' money to create art, which would be stored in a warehouse, just so that people could have a job.

So how do people react to a society of "each according to his need", of government control of everything, of forced multiculturalism? They want to leave:

"Van Gogh's death was a confirmation for them of what they already sensed was happening," he said. "They're accountants, teachers, nurses, businessmen and bricklayers, from all walks of life. They see things going on every day in this country that are quite unbelievable. They see no clear message from the government, and they are afraid it's becoming irreversible, that's why they are leaving."
Ellen, 43, a lawyer and banker who votes for the free-market Liberals, said the code of behaviour regulating daily life in the Netherlands was breaking down.

"People no longer know what to expect from each other. There are so many rules, but nobody sticks to them. They just do as they want. They just execute people on the streets, it's shocking when you see this for the first time," she said. "We've become so tolerant that everybody thinks they can fight their own wars here. Van Gogh is killed, and then people throw bombs at mosques and churches. It's escalating because the police and the state aren't doing anything about it.

"There's a feeling of injustice that if you do things right, if you work hard and pay your taxes, you're punished, and those who don't are rewarded. People can come and live here illegally and get payments. How is that possible?

"We didn't think about how we should integrate people, to make sure that we actually talk to each other and know each other, instead of living in ghettoes with different rules.

Is life imitating art, or did Ayn Rand predict all of this?

(But don't forget that our country isn't immune to ridiculous government spending...)

Posted by Sarah at 09:13 AM | Comments (13)

December 11, 2004


I've watched a lot of South Park in the last year, which has affected my vocabulary. I chuckled when I read this article the other day about the word dude because Stan Marsh is the reason dude is in my vocabulary. Now whenever something surprises me, I hear myself say in my head, "Holy crap, dude."

I got an email today that I thought was a hoax. So I checked it out, and it appears to be legit. Ben Stein wrote me an email.

Ben Stein, people. Wrote to me. Holy crap, dude.

God bless you and good luck with your blog. I hope it makes you happy.

And your husband is a star....

Love, Ben

Dang. I wish I had said more about how cool Ben Stein is when I wrote one sentence about him the other day. Just in case he ever comes back here, I want him to know that my husband and I used to watch Win Ben Stein's Money all the time and stare in awe at how many questions he could answer. (We were also thrilled to hear his voice in the "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" episode of Family Guy.)

But more than any excitement we have at watching him intellectually clobber people, I have enjoyed discovering his writing. I first read How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World? back in July, and then noted with glee that Stein had written in the comments section in response to a soldier's letter. Then the other day I ran across We Shall Overcome. I never thought Ben Stein would find the time to write to me.

If he reads this, I'd like him to know that I really admire and respect him. And that I consider it an enormous honor that he took the time to email me.

Holy crap, dude.


    And read Col. Denman’s Luger too! Man, you all know how awful this week has been for me. Well, now I feel like Fry: "I'm walkin' on sunshine, woah-oh-oh!"

    Posted by Sarah at 09:37 AM | Comments (6)

    December 10, 2004


    I know, I know. I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, so I should just shrug, right? That's what the book says. Shrug it off and think about yourself. But I'm still Dagny, still thinking that the world needs me. I'm trying, but I'm not ready for Galt's Gulch yet. I got stuck working an extra hour at the gift wrap today because my replacement never showed up. I can't just walk away if there's no one to pick up the slack. At least not yet. I'm starting to feel like maybe I could, especially after this hellacious week.

    Now I have to go wrap my own family's presents. I already let go of the fact that they're not going to make it home in time.

    Posted by Sarah at 03:23 PM | Comments (3)


    Last night I had a dream that perfectly sums up how I've been feeling these past few days. In the dream, I went to see the musical that's showing here, but throughout the whole thing, my students kept interrupting and asking me questions. I finally gave up trying to watch it and went to the store to buy some gifts for my husband, but my friend kept pressuring me, telling me it was time to go and that I had to choose quickly.

    This whole week has gone down the toilet. On Monday, when I was so excited to be taking my vacation days so I could get stuff done, I never imagined what a waste this week would be. I got suckered into going in to work on Wednesday and Thursday, so I sat there all day long, thinking about everything I would be doing if I were at home. When I wasn't at work, I was knitting furiously for the gift exchange we had last night; the woman who won my gift said monotonously, "Oh, a scarf and hat," and then tossed them on the floor. Eight hours of work, wasted. So I was saving my stuff to do until today, when I found out last night that our company was supposed to be doing a gift-wrap fundraiser today but no one has signed up for it. No one even called me about it, but now I might get stuck gift wrapping for four hours.

    Christmas gifts are supposed to be mailed back to the States no later than tomorrow in order to guarantee them in time for Christmas. I haven't even started packing the first box. My Czech orphan gift has to be over at battalion this morning too. I also haven't bought a single thing for my husband for Christmas, since I haven't even had time to think.

    When is it going to be time for me to do what I want to do?

    I mentioned my frustration to my husband the other day (thus the funny exchange), and he thought I was cracking up. He said I sounded like I was depressed and that he was worried about me. I'm not depressed; I'm pissed off. I have stuff that I need to do, and it's all getting pushed aside for stuff other people need me to do. I know it's nothing like the stress of having an RPG hit your tank, but it's still something I don't really want to deal with.

    So, once again, no blogging from me. I don't even have time to read blogs today.

    Posted by Sarah at 08:14 AM | Comments (6)

    December 07, 2004


    OK, so I agreed to work tomorrow since my co-worker had already made a doctor appointment. Unfortunately, I had put off a bunch of things that I intended to do tomorrow, like grade papers, shop for a gift for my Czech orphan, knit an entire hat and scarf as a gift, wrap and send my Christmas presents home, and grade more papers. So now I'm a little stressed that I had planned all these things for tomorrow and I will be sitting at work instead. (If you hadn't figured it out by now, I stress out easily.) Thus I had the following hilarious exchange with my husband online tonight:

    Sarah: usch, do you ever feel job stress?
    Sarah: dumb question, right?
    Husband: umm...a little I guess
    Husband: why?
    Sarah: but like when you guys have a lot to do, does your stomach feel like you're gonna throw up?
    Sarah: cuz that's how I feel this week
    Husband: not really
    Husband: but if people make me real mad at work I get to shoot them

    Man, I love that guy.

    Posted by Sarah at 08:48 PM | Comments (4)


    I'd like to meet Ben Stein. He sounds like a good guy.

    Hud says:

    I've talked to people on the left who live in red states, who told me they've encountered some ugliness for expressing their beliefs, but I'd be really surprised if they feel they have whisper to each other like the people in this article. Most lefties I know are pretty open about it. On the other hand, I have known many people on the right who were afriad to speak out for losing work. I've even had some people tell me I was risking never getting hired for the stuff I say on this blog. And what I tell them is, if you let people oppress you, they win. And now more people are going out and challenging the leftist orthodoxy

    I know I never show my Bush support unless asked a direct question about whom I voted for, and we live on a military post, for pete's sake.

    Posted by Sarah at 10:45 AM | Comments (6)


    A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to replace an 8th grade English teacher. The catch was that they needed to replace him within two weeks, and I didn't think it was right to quit my current registrar job in such a rush and right before Christmas. So I didn't look into it because I thought that I had a sense of duty to my co-worker. Then my co-worker and I had that massive blowout, and everything changed. I realized that loyalty to a job a monkey could do is pretty silly, especially when DoDDs pays more than three times what I'm making now. Turns out that I'm not qualified for the job they were trying to fill, but I might be qualified for another one that's opening up for next school year. I am going to start the application process, and everyone has told me that the best way to slide into the job is to start out as a sub.

    So I'm quitting my job.

    I have been saving all of my vacation time since I started working for when my husband comes home, and now that it's not necessary to save it, I'm burnin' it up. Yesterday I went in and announced I am taking the rest of December off, and that was that. I will go back in January and help them register students for the new school term, but I will give my notice and hope to be out of there at the beginning of February. I can then sub at the school and hopefully get in good with the principal.

    The thought of teaching middle schoolers more than freaks me out, but the money is definitely right, and I might find that I love them after all. I'm excited to give it a shot, and my dad always says that a human being can do anything for one year. I can teach hormonal kids for a year too: if I like it, I continue; if not, at least I gave it a shot.

    So remember those big changes I mentioned? That's that. I have the rest of the month to myself, to concentrate on 1) grading the rest of my papers, 2) getting Christmas presents mailed, 3) the five knitting projects I've started but can't mention because too many people read my blog, and 4) filling out the 60 page teacher application packet. Oh, and blogging. I'd like to devote some more time to it, since I've been rather lame lately.

    These last two weeks have been a ride, but I'm glad they happened. The fight with my co-worker opened my eyes to how silly I was being. I needed to move on, so I'm glad that she shocked me into taking the first step. I just wish it didn't have to end on such a nasty note. But that's life, and I need to look out for Sarah.

    Posted by Sarah at 08:29 AM | Comments (6)

    December 06, 2004


    Is it possible for "unconditional love" to go one step too far? This question has bothered me since the day I saw Kip Kinkel's parents stand behind him. Then I saw John Walker Lindh's parents stand behind him, and now this strangler's cousin stand behind him. Am I the one who's nuts? Just because you're related to someone doesn't mean you have to stand behind them when they murder people, does it? If one of my family members -- be it cousin, brother, or husband -- strangled three people in cold blood, I sure as hell wouldn't stand up for him. I don't have children, so I can't really speak on the love that parents have for their children, but aren't there some things that cross that unconditional love boundary? Like coldhearted murder? Parents in the audience, please help me on this one.

    Posted by Sarah at 10:17 AM | Comments (7)


    Dear the husband,

    I know you are getting excited about orders getting cut and plans for redeployment getting made. Just don't get too excited and forget about being safe. Stay focused and diligent. And if you see anyone put a tent in his mouth, call Humor in Uniform.

    Oh, and slow down on the Atlas Shrugged already! 950 pages in three weeks? How did you manage that? I tried to catch up last night, but I'm still about 400 pages behind you. Hopefully starting tomorrow I will have lots of free time (more on that later).

    Anyway, be safe, enjoy your Christmas tree, and keep looking for a copy of Team America!
    Love you, of course.

    Posted by Sarah at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

    December 05, 2004


    Family members love each other, but they often disagree. I've seen many stories from parents who don't respect the military wishes of their child, but here's the story of a daughter whose beliefs don't jive with her father's. It just gave me a little smile.

    Posted by Sarah at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)


    Bunker's son nearly got shot yesterday. No, not the Marine. Not the Soldier either. The cop. That's why I don't waste time worrying about whether my husband could die in Iraq; non-Soldiers are just as mortal. And most of them don't spend life in IBA and an M1A1.

    Posted by Sarah at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

    December 04, 2004

    AND HE'S OFF...

    Red 6, the husband's best friend, has caught the blogging bug. Here's the email he sent out (in its entirety):

    after some discussion, i have decided to start a weblog. it will probably rule or suck based on my internet connection and time available. we'll see. also...i'm not funny.

    Well, that was enough to crack me up, so I'm looking forward to reading Armor Geddon as often as he can post. If you're interested in getting in on the action, he's beginning his blog with a day-by-day of his time in Fallujah. I have only gotten to hear snippets of these stories so far, so I'm anxious to get the details.

    Posted by Sarah at 09:20 PM | Comments (1)


    When I went to hear Gen. Hertling speak the other night, one of the things he and his wife said was that the last few days of the deployment are the hardest, that the time between when the Soldiers get to Kuwait and the time they actually get home can feel like an eternity. Granted, I haven't made it that far, but I think the time we're going through right now is the hardest. We're at our nine/ten month range. We know things are completely up in the air right now, especially with the Iraqi elections. We know that 1AD got extended, so we're certain it could happen to us too. Rumors about return dates are flying all over the place, and no one really knows where the finish line is. Back in July, that stuff didn't matter, but as we get closer to the end, we all wonder when exactly the end will come. And how exactly the math is calculated...

    One detail that irked family members about the extension [of 66th Trans out of K-town] is that it does not start until Jan. 31, 2005 — a week after the company’s one-year anniversary at Forward Operating Base Speicher.

    “What they’re doing now, they’re saying, ‘You came in January, the end of January is your time,’” Sowers said. “They would say the one year mark is 31 January, that’s the math that they’re using downrange.”

    So 365 days isn't a year. OK. I know that will make lots of wives really angry, but it doesn't bother me. I'd just like to know that it's happening. As long as I feel we're being updated, I'm cool. But I sure think that this leg of the deployment is the hardest. I personally will be thrilled when he gets to Kuwait, because it's the not knowing that is the worst for me.

    Posted by Sarah at 01:33 PM | Comments (3)


    Over at Bunker Mulligan, an interesting discussion started in the comments section. Later Bunker addressed the issue: "concern that Republicans are becoming a bit over the top regarding the liberal bent on college campuses." I missed out on the discussion while I was sleeping, so I thought I'd hop in now.

    Yes, I am guilty of dismissing academics...and I'm one of them. When the professor who is teaching Writing for Business proclaims himself a communist and the sociology prof keeps raving about Dude, Where's My Country?, well, it's easy to dismiss them. I have started looking skeptically at all professors, especially when they're writing articles like the one that drove me insane last spring. They don't all deserve to be dismissed, but far too many of them bring their personal agendas into the classroom. Heck, that's what made me start blogging in the first place.

    Bunker talks about how none of his students could ever tell what side of the issues he stood on. I wrote about this over a year ago, and I'm just going to re-say the same thing here.


    At Joanne Jacobs, we find a link to the Chicago Tribune article about critical thinking in a high school classroom:

    The topic of class discussion was "Iraqification"--a term associated with the transfer of responsibility for Iraq's security from American soldiers to the Iraqi people -- and the students did not lack opinions on the subject.
    Leading the Advanced Placement World History lab at Noble Street Charter High School in Chicago, teacher Joe Tenbusch asked his students at what time during the Iraq conflict more people have been killed.
    "After we won," said Victoria Janik, 16, with a smirk, bringing nods and smiles of agreement from her peers, who had been pondering President Bush's possible motives for favoring Iraqification.
    While some educators might find the exchange valuable--or, at worst, harmless--an outspoken group of social studies teachers around the country say such classroom scenes breed cynical, anti-American attitudes.
    High school students, they argue, simply are not mature enough to engage in critical thinking. Teachers should focus on imparting a solid knowledge of history, economics, American traditions and government--in short, the ideals and values of a free society.

    Joanne points out that there's no dichotomy here (you don't either teach thinking or facts); there's instead a relationship between how much you know about a topic and how well you can critically think about it. She adds,

    In this case, the student is right in thinking that U.S. casualties (not "people") are a factor in the desire to give more authority to Iraqis. The question is whether she knows other facts. How many people did Saddam Hussein kill, directly and indirectly? How did the Occupation go in Germany and Japan after World War II? How did South Korea become a democracy?

    Her commenters begin a discussion of the capability of teachers to actually teach critical thinking. Reader Tom West aptly points out,

    Possibly, just possibly, teachers have a wide range of opinions like the rest of the humanity. Some support the current government, some support the last, some support both, and some support neither. Teachers are not a monolithic lot. To teach critical thinking requires that you be able to explain both sides of an issue, even when you don't subscribe to both sides.

    I can think of one instance when I tried to do this and did it well. I was actually quite proud of myself. I was teaching ESL at the University of Illinois, and we were doing a unit on persuasive writing. Since one of the major issues on campus is the Native American mascot there, I decided that this would be a topic that they should understand since they were students at the university but that the students (who mostly came from Korea and South America) wouldn't already have an opinion on. And since I had been heavily involved in the debate on campus and had read the entire Chief Illiniwek Dialogue Report to the Board of Trustees, I knew both sides of the issue like the back of my hand. I told my students that I indeed heartily supported one side of the issue, but that I would not tell them which side I supported, and that they were going to learn about both sides. We read the whole Dialogue, watched a video tape, reported on the protestors carrying picket signs through campus, and had a two-hour discussion where they asked me questions about what people on the campus believed. We covered both sides; for every question they asked, I reported what the pro-Chief and the anti-Chief people would reply. After our information gathering, the students wrote their persuasive papers on the stance they had developed (whether the Chief Illiniwek mascot should be retained or retired) and turned them in. The next class period we had an in-class writing assignment where the students had to write a one page paper saying whether they thought that I personally supported the Chief or not. The result? Half of the class guessed I did, and the other half guessed I didn't. And I never told them which side I was on.

    The reason this worked is because I was determined to let these students decide for themselves. It didn't matter to me which side they chose, as long as they read about the issue and formed logical and informed opinions. And I didn't want them to cop out and write the "easy" paper, the one that agreed with the teacher. We spent an equal amount of time on both sides, but the dicipline had to be mine. I was the one who did the most work, having to argue for both sides equally as passionately and equally as strong. I had to be impartial, I had to keep secret my involvement in the debate, and I had to let the students learn, even if what they were learning disagreed with my opinion. I don't think most teachers are willing to do this. It's easier to be like Professor Cockroach and talk off the cuff about one's own opinions and side of the story. It's much harder to give a reasoned debate for both sides, and many teachers don't care enough about their students to want them to learn how to learn. They just want them to regurgitate. I think it's a real problem in education, and I think we're doing a real disservice to our students. Heck, I didn't learn how to learn until I started reading blogs and writing my own. Can we make blogging a school subject?


    (back to 2004) It's much harder for me to do this with the war. It's difficult for me to argue for both sides, so I just don't do it. I don't talk war in the classroom. Sometimes my students try to get going, and I let them go back and forth together, but I never chime in. They're also not allowed to write any of their papers about the war because 1) they're not allowed to ignore any Army Values in my class, 2) I have read far too much about the war to ever concede that they will have done enough research, and 3) I know cannot objectively read a paper that's anti-war. And since I don't want to introduce anything into the class that's not objective, both my view and theirs are off limits. I can, and do, objectively read papers on many things that I disagree with, but the war is too close to my heart for that.

    Universities these days just don't seem to have enough honest debate from both sides. I took a class once on Malcolm X, and any time someone said something even remotely unfavorable about Malcolm X, the black students immediately got angry. My roommate took a class where the teacher gave her an F on a paper because "you know I don't agree with your viewpoint, so why would you think of writing on this topic?" I once taught a class where, heaven forbid, I used the argument that hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment as a sample argument for a persuasive paper, and a Korean student went to our director and turned me in as a racist.


    Posted by Sarah at 10:11 AM | Comments (2)

    December 03, 2004


    Lots of my friends here are red-state voters who come from coastal blue states. They sort of can't figure out why I want our next duty station to be Texas. Lo and behold, Vinod says it better than I could. A blog post in praise of Texas that includes references to 1) Lila and 2) groking: could it get any cooler than that?

    Posted by Sarah at 12:24 PM | Comments (3)

    December 02, 2004


    Man, did I get sucked into this comments section!

    And if there's one thing I can say about Ann Coulter, it's that she sure knows how to make me laugh:

    But Bush nominates a brilliant geopolitical thinker who happens to be black and female and all of a sudden she's Butterfly McQueen, who don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no Middle Eastern democracies.

    Posted by Sarah at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)


    Heartwrenching photos from CPT Sims' funeral.

    Posted by Sarah at 07:57 AM | Comments (2)

    December 01, 2004


    The Iraq Page: Remembering Those who Lost Their Lives in the Iraq War of 2003
    Thousand lost lives grab our attention
    Soldier remembered for life transformed, then lost

    Tonight I heard Brig. Gen. Hertling of 7th ATC say something I won't soon forget: Our soldiers have not lost their lives in Iraq; they have sacrificed their lives for freedom and for their brothers and sisters in arms. That struck me. Their lives were not lost or taken, but instead they have given their lives for something much bigger than themselves. That's a wise statement and a comforting way of looking at the situation. The enemy cannot take that which we have sworn to give so that the tree of liberty may be refreshed.

    Posted by Sarah at 08:45 PM | Comments (1)