November 22, 2004

EMBEDS

Charles Johnson writes a lengthier post on the liabilities of having embedded reporters. I can't stress enough how everyone should watch Ethics in America: Under Orders, Under Fire. It's two hours long, so the next time you think about popping in a movie, consider watching this instead.

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POLES

Mom's 4'11" and Dad's 6'3". Mom likes shopping, traveling, and entertaining friends; Dad likes fishing, fishing, and fishing. They both like movies, but Dad likes action and Mom likes romantic comedy. They both like TV, but Mom likes reality shows and Dad likes to flip channels between kung-fu and pirate movies. But somehow they've made it work for 28 years.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

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November 21, 2004

IN A NUTSHELL

I got a hilarious email from a friend who watched Smallville for the first time because of me:

PS: I finally saw Smallville for the first time tonight. Except for the names, it has nothing to do with the Superman comics whatsoever. I already knew that, but it helps to confirm it. The Chloe character is totally original. I didn't "get" the show. Do all the episodes follow this formula?

- Kryptonite causes something to happen
- Clark resolves it

If you're a Smallville fan too, you'll know just how hilarious that summary is. Pretty much yes, but that's part of its charm.

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WHEW

The husband's best friend is back safe and sound from Fallujah.

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FOUL MOOD

While my husband was home, he fixed a broken drawer in the kitchen. He was completely frustrated and pissed off while he was doing it, because the broken part was at the back of the cabinet frame in a very difficult spot to reach. It's been a long time since I've seen him in such a gumption trap. I mention this because I was in one today.

I took an Excel Spreadsheets class this weekend. The class was fairly easy and straightforward, and I learned a lot of tricks with Excel that I didn't know before the weekend. However, the final exam was nothing like the class. I just spent the past three hours being angrier and more frustrated than I've been in a long time.

I'm still far too grumpy to even bother going into details about everything that went wrong on the final. The overarching problem was that the class was full of easy stuff like 1) highlight this data, 2) see the pretty graph, 3) save. In contrast, for the final, the teacher gave us a spreadsheet with some data and told us to make a business presentation out of it. I had learned Excel over the weekend, but I sure hadn't learned economics or business management. I couldn't read the data at all; I didn't understand the headers and I spent a lot of time looking up what all the business terms meant so I could even understand what the figures meant. All of my formulas were right, but somehow I had invested 159% of my money, my graphs kept overwriting the other graphs, and I couldn't get the damn thing to center on the page to save my life. Even the teacher couldn't figure out what was wrong with my spreadsheets.

I left the class in a very foul mood. So much for personal growth and enrichment; I took a class that I didn't even need, and all I got was a massive headache.

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VIRTUES

Reason #__ why I think President Bush is a good and decent man.

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November 20, 2004

LOVE

All of a sudden, my husband's absence has hit me like a ton of bricks. I wish he were here. When I'm with him, every day seems like double-soup Tuesday.

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HE WAS RIGHT

Only history can judge a president...

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DINNER

I had dinner last night with one of those newly-discovered friends in my real life who also reads my blog. We discussed many issues, and I had a good time getting to know her point of view a little better. It's a bit strange: she said that she and another friend discuss new stuff on my blog at work in the morning. But it seems like nobody else thinks it's weird, so I guess I'll go on being whispered about on post.

Some things that we talked about last night that I wanted to give her links to:
Fallujah Marine in Trouble for Pulling a Kerry
You're Not in 'Jesusland' Anymore
Ethics in America (the one you want to watch is Under Orders, Under Fire I & II)

And here's something else we kinda hit on last night:

Americans don’t hate Europeans. We don’t even hate French people. Well, most of us don’t. In fact, by and large, we love Europeans. We find them fascinating and mysterious. We buy European wines and foods and brag about how many American dollars we had to spend on it. We think that Europeans are somehow more sophisticated than we are, and we seek to emulate their sophistication, at least in gesture if not in spirit. But, when you get right down to it, many Europeans simply aren’t individualist enough for us, and so we kind of lose them at some point, usually when we start talking about how much we love our country and our freedoms. It isn’t that we don’t understand that Europeans love their country, too, or that we don’t appreciate European culture. It’s just that we are American and that means more to us than having a cool accent.

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TRAGEDY

This Slate article (via Hud) shows some good perspective on the Fallujah shooting, but the title irks me: What the Marine Did: The shooting of an unarmed Iraqi was a tragedy. But was it a war crime? Am I the only one who fails to see the "tragedy"? This is the enemy. The same group of people who have been collecting heads since May. The people who attack from mosques and use women and children as shields. Whether or not this man held a weapon in his hand at the moment the Marine killed him does not make the difference between a terrorist and a friendly neighborhood Iraqi. I firmly believe that, had he had a weapon, he would've tried to kill the Marine first. He was the enemy; I fail to see the tragedy of his death.

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November 19, 2004

SORRY

Annika made me laugh with the list of advice her dad has given her. My dad also has a very dry sense of humor, and he's always been a sort of hands-off type of dad. He never intimidated any boyfriends, he never preached, and he wasn't the house authoritarian (that was our mama). So when he spoke, it was usually something memorable. Some of his wisdom was simple ("Never drive barefoot") and some of it was more complex (He made me figure out how much money I would have to pay on student loans each month if I chose to go to a private school instead of a state school.) But there is one "dad saying" that stands out for me.

Dad has an expression that drives some people nuts: "If you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it." Several people think that expression is absurd, but I know what my dad means by it, and I hate to hear him say it. Sometimes we know we're doing things that will hurt people or get us in trouble, but we do them anyway. And then we expect a "sorry" to fix everything. Dad doesn't buy it; you shouldn't have done it in the first place. I would often break my curfew in high school and then come in and say I was sorry. Of course I wasn't sorry and I had stayed late on purpose, so sorry doesn't cut it. Sometimes I would egg my parents on and then say 'sorry' in a huffy voice. That doesn't cut it either. The funny thing is that my husband has sort of picked that expression up and uses it when we argue. Whenever I sheepishly apologize, he echos Dad...and usually gets a punch in the arm.

I think about Dad's expression a lot. Obviously there are times when a sorry is sincere, but sometimes we shouldn't be allowed to get away with hurting people on purpose and then apologizing. If we were sorry, we wouldn't have done it.

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MEMORIAL

The Stars and Stripes account of the memorial service for CSM Faulkenburg, CPT Sims, 1LT Iwan, and SSG Matteson.

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FASTING

Apparently a little boy in Iran was killed for breaking his Ramadan fast. When Ramadan started in Iraq, US soldiers were given strict rules: no eating, drinking, or smoking in front of Iraqis during Ramadan. However, my husband says that none of the Iraqis he works with were observing the fast. The American Arabic translators scolded the Iraqis for chowing down in the middle of the day, but the Iraqis just shrugged their shoulders. Now that there's freedom to choose -- a freedom that doesn't exist in Iran -- the Iraqi people are free to decide if they want to fast. Saddam's not watching any longer.

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184 PAGES

In regular history texts, the build-up to WWII takes a couple of sentences. In the book I'm reading, The Oster Conspiracy of 1938: The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert WWII, it takes 184 pages. Right now it's 24 Sept and Chamberlain has just returned from his visit with Hitler. I can't put the book down. It's a fascinating story because we all know they fail, and we all know the price of their failure.

Oh yeah, I'm also struck by how much Bush is not like Hitler.

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November 18, 2004

One of my students just forwarded this cool email:

Between the fields where the flag is planted there are 9+ miles of flower fields that go all the way to the ocean. The flowers are grown by seed companies. It's a beautiful place close to Vandenberg AFB. Checkout the dimensions of the flag.
The 2002 Floral Flag is 740 feet long and 390 feet wide and maintains the proper Flag dimensions as described in Executive Order #10834. This Flag is 6.65 acres and is the first Floral Flag to be planted with 5 pointed Stars comprised of White Larkspur. Each Star is 24 feet in diameter; Each Stripe is 30 feet wide. This Flag is estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each for a total of more than 2 million flowers. You can drive by this flag on V Street south of Ocean Ave. in Lompoc, CA.
And not a single weed!

floralflag.jpg

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GARBAGE

I didn't blog very much while my husband was here, but I also know that I haven't been putting out very high quality stuff for quite a while now. I just don't have anything good to say. I'm also dealing with some feelings of weirdness that word has gotten out around here about my blog, so all sorts of people who are in my real life are also reading my blog. I therefore keep second-guessing what I want to say. I heard an Iraq anecdote yesterday I'd like to talk about, but I'm not sure it's OK for distribution. I overheard a bizarre statement at the memorial service, but I don't want people to recognize who said it. All of a sudden I want to pull a fad, to disappear and start a new blog elsewhere under a new name.

But let's face reality, even if I resurfaced, I still wouldn't have anything good to say.

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TERLIT

Wallace got a fitting tribute for his Vietnam service! (via Bunker)

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RIGHT

Via LGF I found two posts written by Froggy Ruminations about the Marine who shot the insurgent. Like he says, I'm not a veteran. But I would want my husband to shoot the terrorist. The object of war is not to die for your country, as Patton said.

There's what's right and what's right, and never the twain shall meet.

When my husband was home, he saw that I had bought A Few Good Men, which he has never seen. I told him of my thoughts when I had watched it again, and he said that it didn't sound like something he'd like to watch. He made a comment (not a direct quote -- I can't remember exactly how he phrased it) about it being the type of movie that makes people shudder at what must be done to protect America. Is Jack Nicholson the bad guy, or has he done what was necessary to keep America safe? I don't have the answers to those questions. We also talked about the Ethics in America program and the SSG Alban case. The husband didn't like to face these issues at all, probably because every servicemember fears being in those shoes.

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November 17, 2004

PHOTO

A photo of CPT Sims.

And a very touching memorial and letter from CPT Sims' father on TexasBug.

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MEMORIAL

It's days like this when we're reminded that freedom isn't free. -- Chaplain Jacob

I just got back from the memorial service for CSM Faulkenburg, CPT Sims, 1LT Iwan, and SSG Matteson. 2-2 INF lost four great leaders in one week; for those of you unfamiliar with the military, these are four top-of-the-hierarchy men, all four of them leaders who touched many lives. What struck me about this memorial service was the sorrow that the soldiers expressed. I saw four grown men cry as they spoke about the bond they shared with these soldiers. I realized the sorrow that soldiers feel when one of their brothers falls, the bond that simply doesn't develop between colleagues in other professions. I was moved by the pain that these men felt from losing men they'd served with, bunked with, and fought with. It was extremely touching, and I won't soon forget those tears.

I also realized I would follow COL Pittard to the ends of the earth.

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