June 05, 2005

GOOD-BYE, BUNKER

Dear Bunker,

Last night I had the chance to go out to dinner with CaliValleyGirl and The Girl. We talked about how much blogs have affected our lives, and I commented on how close you can get to someone you've never met. You were definitely one of the people I meant, because you've left a big footprint in my life. Just before dinner, I picked up that copy of The Federalist Papers that you inspired me to buy, and I thought that I'd like to start reading it but that I'd probably need your help wading through its density. You are still registered as a user on my blog. I just blogged about you on Friday, and I was waiting to talk about what I've finally grokked about medals with you.

It took me an hour just to stop crying after I read Slice's post. Well, that's not true, because I haven't even stopped crying yet, but at least I've calmed down enough to gather myself. I'd give anything to have you back for one more day so I could tell you everything else I want to say, but at least I know that I've already told you the most important things. Last Father's Day, I emailed you and told you that you felt like a second father to me, that I learned from you every day and that I cherished our blog-friendship. This Father's Day you won't be here to hear it again, but I promise I will be thinking of you again on that day. I'm glad I told you once how important you were to me.

There are bloggers like Den Beste or Whittle that I wouldn't even have the guts to talk to. But I would've easily walked up to you and given you a hug. You were a real person in my life, not just somebody I read on the internet.

There's but a handful of people in my life it could hurt this much to lose.

You know, the email you sent me this week meant so much to me, when you told me that it was cool that I was staying home and not worrying about building a career. But you know what? I deleted it. I don't know why I did that. I guess I thought there'd be plenty more emails where that one came from.

I just wish I could write you one more email to tell you how sad I am that we don't have any future together. I was going to make you the chicken lasagna alfredo you were drooling over the other day, maybe in exchange for helping me with The Federalist Papers. I was going to move to Texas and join the Texas Blog Ring you started, and you were going to teach me to enjoy golf. I hate golf, but I was really looking forward to playing with you.

I never met you, but I am going to miss you so much. I cringe at the fact that I had your phone number at the bottom of every email you ever sent to me, yet I never picked up the phone. Luckily though, I have the CD you sent me of your radio spot on the Lago show, so your voice can bring a smile to my face. And the next time I'm in Texas, I'm still going to visit you, even if there won't be any golfing that day.

I love you, Bunker. I'm glad you knew it; I just wish I could've said it before it was too late.

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June 04, 2005

BOOKS

The Girl did this book thing, and I wanted to participate too...

1) Total # of books I own:
It took me forever to count: 528, not including field manuals.

2) Last book I bought:
The French Betrayal of America. It's not even here yet.

3) Last book I read:
Last book I completed was the highly practical How To Raise a Puppy You Can Live With.

4) Books I'm reading now:
I take 'em one at a time; still reading Once An Eagle (it's 1291 pages.)

5) Books that have been important to me:
Hmm, "important", not just "good"...To Kill a Mockingbird, The Fountainhead, Skinny Legs and All, Alas Babylon, Cosmos, Stranger in a Strange Land, This Is My Beloved, and not to forget Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (the book my husband was reading when I met him, the spark for our first conversation) and Lila (the first gift I gave to my husband, for which I received my first kiss from him.)

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June 03, 2005

DEVALUED

Since the end of OIF II, I have seen a lot of things happen with medals and badges and patches. I used to think it was cool when my husband collected ribbons, but now I am starting to see why Bunker said to throw 'em in a drawer and forget it. I've heard way too many stories about soldiers who deserved ribbons but didn't get them and soldiers who didn't deserve ribbons but got them. Platoon leaders and platoon sergeants spend an extraordinary amount of time not on deciding who deserves medals but working on the grammar and presentation of the citation. And I'm sure some have been approved over others just because someone's grammar was better. In just three months, I've become disillusioned with the medal process, which is sad because I think they should be something to be proud of.

I also thought the CCB was cool because I thought those who were not infantry deserved some credit too. Slowly I'm beginning to see what a mess it will be. Now it's a CAB, eligible to...um...everyone? How do you decide who is eligible? It's for anyone who engages or is engaged by the enemy; what a mess that's going to be to give out. Nearly everyone will get one, making the award virtually worthless.

Just leave well enough alone, I'm beginning to think. I liked this post from Watch Your Six (also check out the comic strip):

Didn't anyone learn from giving berets to the entire Army in order to make everyone feel "more elite?" The very act of giving the beret to everyone devalued the beret itself. If you give a badge to everyone involved in ground combat, the CIB and the new badges you make up will all be de-valued. The very act of trying to make people feel more special will make them feel less special.

We're running out of drawer space; quit giving out more things to throw in 'em.

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LINKS

Right Wing News has a good round-up today. Just go to his blog and go down the grey list on the right.

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SEMANTICS

It's not really possible to count how many words there are in the English language, but it's a lot. And many people agree that English has more words than most other world languages. Anecdotally, I remember noticing the problem when I was learning French and I wanted to distinguish between jump, hop, and leap; French only has the one jumping verb. There's no distinction in Swedish between winking and blinking, though I'm sure flirters would disagree.

English has plenty of words to describe everything quite accurately, which is why I get so angry when people start conflating the definitions of words. I'm mad that what happened at Abu Ghraib gets labeled as "torture" when we have the word "humiliation" to differentiate the two concepts. The word torture loses its specific meaning when it covers the spectrum, just as jump shouldn't cover both leaps and hops.

I've been especially mad this week over the misuse of the word "gulag" by Amnesty International. "Gulag" is a very specific word used to describe a very specific type of penal system. It is entirely not appropriate for discussing Guantanamo Bay.

The Jawa Report has a well-researched post about what exactly a gulag is. We have plenty of words in the English language to accurately define the differences between the gulag and Gitmo; let's use them.

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June 02, 2005

WASTE

You know what blogs are good for? Griping. So here goes.

My parents opened a bank account for me when I was a baby. They couldn't afford to sock away much, but all three of us kids had accounts that were to be used for college. Since I didn't need it for college, I got it as a wedding present, so I withdrew the majority of the money three years ago when I got married.

Guess what I found out today? That account, which has been open for like 25 years, went under "new management" in 2001. They charge an inactive fee when the account doesn't have any activity for a year. And guess who hasn't accessed her account since 2002? Guess who just found out she lost $240 to bank fees?

I'm so mad I could scream, but there's no one to scream at. I've never touched that account before my wedding, and I don't even get balance statements for it. It's a fluke I even found out about it now. I thought about emptying all the money out when I got married, but my parents thought it would be good to keep the account open. They didn't know anything about this new inactive fee; they've had an account there for decades too! The girl on the phone sounded sorry for me, but she said there was nothing she could do about it. I'd better go warn my brothers to check on their accounts.

So there goes lots of money down the toilet. Fantastic. You know what's the biggest load of bullcrap ever? A savings account where you lose money because you don't touch it. Don't ever open one of those for your kids.

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DOGGY UPDATE

Only two weeks until we get to bring him home...

fiveweeks.JPG

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HA

You tell 'em Greyhawk...

I suppose it's possible that there are toilets capable of [flushing a Koran] in Guantanamo, in the same sense that it's possible that the Texas Air National Guard was using Microsoft Word in the early 1970s. To caveat my own opinion, however, I note that anything is possible, Inshallah.

That reminds me of a Futurama line my husband and I like to repeat:

Professor: "Is it true that stem cells may fight the aging process?"
Scientist: "Well yes, in the same way an infant may fight Muhammad Ali, but--"
Professor: "One pound of stem cells please!"

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PRINCE AMONG MEN

Well, I thought I'd seen everything...

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SIGH

Amritas points to an article about "a Los Angeles school board proposal to require all high school students to take college prep courses." One paragraph caught my eye:

Campbell pointed out that some of the students excel in the school's culinary and performing arts classes. But because most of those classes don't qualify as college prep courses, she worries that students will miss out on those subjects.

I missed out on several things in my high school because I was taking college prep. I sure would have benefitted more from typing and computer classes than chemistry! We didn't have culinary classes, but I would've liked to take one.

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

I have a friend here on post who quit college when she decided to get married. While her husband was in Basic and AIT, she went to cosmetology school. She makes way more money cutting hair in her home than I did teaching college English. She has a skill that's marketable no matter where she moves, while I'm stuck because apparently I need a PhD to do what I want to do. It wouldn't even have to be in anything related to teaching college English; I just have to have the piece of paper that says I studied something.

So I'm a housewife who cooks and types instead.

I guess it suits me just fine though. If I had it to do all over again, I would've studied mechanical engineering like my dad. I always loved physics. But at least the way things are now, I'm not too bummed to be locked out of a job that only paid me $800 per month in a system that was extremely frustrating. Moreover, I don't necessarily think that Army wifeing and careers go hand in hand. My first loyalty is to the military and my second is to my own job prospects. Not surprisingly, being an out-of-work professor fits easily with our PCS rotation

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HA

I had five Varifrank blog entries to catch up on today, and I can't say which is my favorite. You just need to go to his blog and start reading from the top. Make sure you go all the way down to "I got your desecration right here pal" if you haven't already read it.

I can point out a certain bit that made me chuckle: Varifrank's advice to the EU constitution writers...

First, get an Englishman to write your constitution. It worked for us; it can work for you too! President Valery Giscard D’estang? What were you thinking? For gods’ sake, the French can write 2000 pages on the various color of apples without breaking a sweat. Its not getting them to talk that’s the trick, it’s getting them to shut up. You don’t put a Scotsman in the kitchen, you don’t put a Frenchman near a pen and paper, its one of life’s little rules.

I know exactly what he means, for I've been forced to read Marcel Proust.

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SAD

One of the most depressing blogs out there is Babalu Blog. I swear every time I go there, I feel like crying, and today is no exception. Val Prieto got to talk with a Cuban who's visiting the US. Commenter Kathleen summed up how I too felt after reading this story: "All this time we've been saying how fidel has ruined Cuba, turned it to shit. The truth of it makes me weep. I can't think of a word in English, or Espanol that expresses how much I'd like to see castro gone. What can we say to this visitor? Yes, we know what has happened to your country, how much your people have suffered. Sorry, the world just doesn't care. Sometimes I'm truly ashamed to be human."

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June 01, 2005

KNIVES

By the way, did ya'll see what Red 6 managed to do to his hand? He called me all calm too: "If we need to go to the emergency room, do we go first to the American clinic or straight to the German hospital?" "Who needs the emergency room?" I asked. "Me," he replied, cool as a cucumber.

I remembered that phone call when I read this post by Not Deskmerc. If we had been living in England, none of this would've ever happened.

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THANKS

Tanker Schreiber shared a good article with me: The green card mercenaries

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GRAPEVINE

It's brand new, but I already am a big fan of John Hawkins' new blog Conservative Grapevine. The links are succinct and interesting; it gives me a sample of many different blogs. Thanks, John!

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