December 30, 2006

A CAKE FIT FOR A DICTATOR

saddamdeadcake.JPG

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December 28, 2006

NEWS, EVERYONE!

Ho.Ly.Crap.
Saddam to be hanged by Sunday
This calls for one of my cakes!

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ADDRESS WOES

We've noticed some weird spellings of our new street name. It's not a super common word, but it's hardly difficult. But we've gotten all sorts of strange looks and repeats, which we've found amusing. Today in the car we were looking at all the other street names and trying to decide which would be easy for people and which would be hard. (The best one we came across was Possum Holler Rd.) And my husband cracked me up when he said, "I suppose it could always be worse: 'What's your address?' '1532 Ecclesiastical Benevolence.'"

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NIIIIIICE

This was a long read, but it was definitely worth my time. Hugh Hewitt interviews Joe Rago, the young journalist who said that blogs are crap.

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December 27, 2006

WASTE

I just had one of those moments like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride, where he goes nuts and starts pulling hotdog buns out of the pack. I think that someone at the window factory got together with someone in the blinds factory and decided to screw the American public.

We went to buy blinds. Our windows are 54" wide. Well, you can buy 52" or 59". And 59" costs ten bucks more. So we proceeded to buy 59"s and have them cut about fifty dollars worth of blinds off and dump them in the garbage. It's funny because I'm not really mad about the price -- I would've bought 54"s for the same price -- I'm just ticked that I had to pay to waste blinds, that I had to sit for an hour and a half and watch them throw our money down a hole. Literally.

But at least tomorrow the sheets can come down from the windows.

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December 26, 2006

NOW THAT'S CAMO

Hahahahaha! All ACU wearers have to go right now and see this photo at Jack Army!

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December 25, 2006

THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Lileks writes about Kurt Gerstein today and warns that it's "not exactly holiday reading." But he hints that it is, and I'll take it one step further. We don't have kids. We don't have any family or friends here to celebrate with. We don't even have a tree up. So what does Christmas mean without all that? It means being thankful for all the blessings you have, and what better way to do that than to think about how absolutely worse life could be.

I heard Glenn Beck on the radio a few weeks ago saying something I haven't been able to get out of my head. He was talking about the so-called War on Christmas and how people get all bent out of shape about whether the Seattle Airport has any trees in the lobby. He said that these people are entirely missing the point about Christmas. He said that we can't even understand Thanksgiving -- that we've reduced it to food and football -- so if we can't even understand Thanksgiving, how can we possibly begin to understand the true meaning of Christmas?

What he said really got to me. Christians survived communism, a fate far worse than drama about airport decorations. People have been persecuted and killed for their beliefs, and they certainly didn't need a tree or presents to understand what Christmas means. People who truly believe in the meaning of Christmas don't need an airport tree to make them feel Christmassy, and they don't need to whine about any War on Christmas.

We don't need the trappings of Christmas to have the Christmas spirit in our hearts. But we do need the Kurt Gersteins, the deployed soldiers, the stories that remind us that all our bitching and moaning about where the tree should be placed or how long the lines are in the stores is really and truly absurd.

Read the story of Kurt Gerstein. And then wipe away the tears and think about how good your life is. And enjoy your Christmas, with our without a tree.

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December 24, 2006

FAR OLDER THAN THEIR YEARS

On this Christmas Eve, be thankful for the men and women who serve our country, many of whom are too young to even rent a car...

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ANNOYED

What I love most about being home from Germany is that I can get things done in the morning. I can get up and make it to Walmart before the majority of shoppers do so I don't have to battle the crowds. I love that I can grocery shop at 0700 instead of waiting until 1000 at the commissary.

So this morning we ran to Walmart to try to beat the Christmas crowd because we needed a few groceries and because when we plugged our four-year-old phone into the wall, it started smoking. Hence, a replacement was in order. We got everything we needed and headed for the self check-out. And as I rang my items out, the big red light started flashing and I needed customer assistance.

I had committed the unforgivable sin of trying to buy Miller High Life before noon on a Sunday.

Look, we come from the heart of the Bible belt, and I have never had to think about these ridiculous and archaic liquor laws before. For the first few years of my drinking life, I lived in the state with the loosest laws and the smallest alcohol taxes. It never even crosses my mind that we can't buy something until I walk into a dry Walmart in Kentucky and wonder where the booze aisle is. Apparently you can't buy hard liquor anywhere in this danged country except for designated liquor stores, which always manage to be closed when you need booze (like Thanksgiving). And you can't even buy the soft stuff when you're supposed to be in church, I guess.

Talk about meddling.

I kinda think that if I want to get sloppy drunk at daybreak on Sunday, that's my own business. Why do we still have laws that are related to the sabbath? Shouldn't some hardcore separation of church and state folks be in a wad about this? I'm a little steamed that if my husband wants to have a Christmas Beer, we have to drive back out to the store later in the afternoon. Maybe we should just set ourselves up like Sweden, where you can't even pick the stuff out yourself and instead have to take a number and then tell the clerk to bring you a case of beer. Good heavens, can't we be responsible for anything ourselves, even our drinking habits?

I'm gonna go downstairs and drink a shot of something just for spite! It's early Sunday morning and I'm drinking! Mwahahaha.

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December 21, 2006

CHRISTMAS

I can't believe it's almost Christmas.

This holiday season really got lost in the move. I chuckled yesterday when I was unpacking boxed that hadn't been opened since Germany and I thought, "Wow, it's just like Christmas! Oh wait..." In the rush to buy a washer and dryer, a fridge, a sofa, two armoires, new brakes, and a host of other house needs (still no blinds -- that's today), I haven't even thought about Christmas. Not to mention that it's warm here, so how can my brain process it when a store clerk wishes me a merry Christmas and I'm wearing short sleeves? Does not compute.

Also my husband's present is lost somewhere in the house. I had hidden it in the computer room in the apartment, but I've opened all the computer room boxes here and it's nowhere to be found. I came across his present to me, which he had hidden in his underpants drawer. I told him that was maybe not the best place to hide it considering it was laundry day. Thankfully I didn't really see what it was, because I had an a-ha moment that maybe I shouldn't investigate further.

I have to shop for Christmas dinner. But first I have to clear away eight thousand glasses and dishes and bowls and tupperwares off the countertops.

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December 20, 2006

PHONES

After six months in billeting at OBC, three years in Germany, and six months of just cell phones, we have our first home phone in a very long time. We've had it three days, and already I'm sick of the telemarketers. We've gotten so many pre-recorded phone calls that I can't even believe it. How freaking annoying.

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December 19, 2006

HOUSE

So here's the latest. The showers had some sort of child-proof anti-scalding contraption, but someone went way overboard with it. So instead of anti-scalding, it became anti-warm. Plumber came out and it's fixed; thank heavens because it was my third day without a shower! Dishwasher is fixed too, so now we can start washing all these dishes that have been in boxes since Germany. I'm still sitting on a folding chair in front of the TV, but we should find a solution to that today. Oh, and the brakes went out on our car, so that was another fun activity to pass the time.

All in all, I can't complain. Except for the fact that we spent about a thousand dollars today. And we still have bedsheets tacked over the windows.

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December 17, 2006

UPDATE

We're here.

We're a day late on internet connection due to a busted ethernet card, but now we're back in the saddle. Oh, and we've also discovered that our dishwasher is somehow not hooked up to any sort of water supply, and our shower doesn't have any hot water. And none of our furniture can fit through the doorway into our rec room. It's been a busy and fairly annoying two days.

But it's eight days before Christmas and the temps are still in the 70s. So we're lovin' that.

Also Charlie is completely freaked out by the move. He won't leave our side, which is unusual for the dog who hates to be touched. But he spent the first day walking around the house crying, so at least we're past that.

Five moves in four and a half years of marriage. Sheesh.

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December 11, 2006

MOVING

The waves of PCS nausea are starting to wash over me.

My husband still doesn't have orders, but we're about 95% sure things will work themselves out soon. His control branch has been changed on his ORB to Civil Affairs, but we're waiting for that to trickle into orders. However, it was enough to put a silly grin on my husband's face, since he's been waiting for this day for over a year. Still, we might be the only couple in the history of Armydom who PCSes without orders. It could happen.

We leave on Wednesday, move in our house on Thursday, get our household goods on Friday, and get cable and internet on Saturday. What does your week look like?

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STRUGGLE

My post from yesterday should not be seen as giving up or wanting out of Iraq or thinking we shouldn't have been there in the first place. This War on Terror is full of conflicting views for me. Well, not exactly conflicting, but complex for sure. No matter how freaking backwards I think Islam is and how often I think that these people don't deserve our blood to be shed to set them free, it's not really about that. This offensive war was started as defense, because they're the ones who wanted to kill us first. That's what I have to keep reminding myself when I wish they'd all just feck off and sharia themselves to death. I can't remember where I read/heard this recently, but someone smarter than I said that this war in Iraq is not like Vietnam because when we left Vietnam, we left our involvement with them altogether, but if we leave Iraq, it affects us. The result of what happens in Iraq deeply affects the United States. And that's why we can't let this be a Vietnam. We can't just wash our hands and go home, not only because it would be absolutely shameful for us to do that to Iraq again, but because this war is far bigger than Iraq. People scoff when talking heads say we fight there so we don't have to fight here, but if we left Iraq now, it would surely come back to bite us later.

And so I struggle, with wanting all men to be free, with hating absolutely everything about Islam, with feeling outraged that my husband is trying to get a job so he can help people who clearly don't want to be helped, and with knowing that in the end none of that matters. All that matters is that we win this. That we crush the fighting spirit in Islam that makes them think that they're winning. We have to. Period.

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December 10, 2006

TRAINING IRAQIS

Political Critic posts a reaction to the Iraq Study Group. In it, he says

The ISG's second point focuses on the training of the Iraqi military, which should be the main focus. Unfortunately, the Iraqi military has not been trained properly for the 3+ years that we've been there and that is not addressed. Apparently, the ISG believes that all of a sudden the Iraqi military will get trained exponentially faster and before the American forces leave. The report is correct to focus on the training, but makes no mention of how to stop the corruption, infiltration, and safety issues that they face.

I think this is an easy complaint to make -- "the Iraqi military has not been trained properly" -- but proposals on how to be more efficient are hard to come by.

I've spent a lot of time around soldiers who've been to Iraq, and I've heard lots of stories about training Iraqi soldiers. That was one of the primary missions of my husband's brigade as far back as early 2004. Everywhere they went, Iraqis went with them. Everything they did, Iraqis were involved. I hate when politicians say that we'd be able to pull out of Iraq if we'd just concentrate on training Iraqis. We've been doing that since day one.

However, training Iraqis is not just a matter of teaching them to shoot and how to go on raids. Heck, I've heard that's nothing to sneeze at in and of itself: when you're trying to teach someone who thinks that bullets go wherever Allah wills them to go, it can apparently be a pain in the neck to get them to aim. And that's the larger point of training Iraqis: you're teaching culture as much as military training.

I heard a story about the Iraqi police, who proudly bragged that they had taken a suspect into their station and beaten him all night long. They were proud, telling the Americans because they thought that they had done something good. Look, we're keeping order! The Americans didn't know what to do except shake their head and try to explain why this was not a good thing.

In order to teach someone to stand up and fight for his own country, you have to teach him to love his country above everything else. How do you teach that? All the target practice in the world can't stop "corruption, infiltration, and safety issues." You can't teach Iraqis to be Americans, to all of a sudden erase decades (centuries?) of ingrained tribalism and mores and have them care about the same things we care about. It's like we're looking at this through the lens of our own history: settlers came to the US and learned to live in religious harmony and value freedom and democracy over everything, so why can't you? If we just teach them to use a rifle, then they'll rise up like colonial Americans did, right? But it's not that simple. We can't force them to want the same things early Americans wanted. That's the problem with this so-called Bush Doctrine, which was a noble idea because we Americans have been taught from birth that all men want to live free. But unfortunately we tried to free people who think sharia is the way to go. Just teaching them to raid a house and hunt for IEDs is not going to fix the underlying issues in their society.

I think this talk of training Iraqis has been grossly oversimplified in every discussion I've ever heard about it, except for the soldiers who've actually had to try to do it.

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December 07, 2006

RESOLUTE

On this day that will live in infamy:

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

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December 06, 2006

OTHER PEOPLE'S INTERESTS

I'm with Lileks on this one: I like hearing about people's jobs. I guess soldiers must have massive experience with wives not being interested in their shop talk, because they always apologize for talking about it. But I love it. I want to know what people do, especially if it's something I know nothing about. My father has been in heating and cooling since college, and only recently have I started to understand what he does. I had the good fortune of being home on vacation on the night he taught a class on load estimating. He thought I was doodling the whole time; I was actually taking notes. And asking him questions in the car on the way home.

In fact, this desire to learn about other people's jobs was the source of my latest knitting project. One of my friends in Germany taught me binary code, which prompted me to make this:

binary.JPG

With light blue being 1 and dark blue being 0, the bag says 01101101 01111001 00100000 01100010 01100001 01100111, or "my bag". Oh, and the handle says 01001001 00100000 01110010 01110101 01101100 01100101, or "I rule".

Binary is awesome. I'm so glad my friend taught me.

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December 05, 2006

63 MORE THINGS

When I wrote my 100 Things post, some guy commented that I was narcissistic for talking about myself so much. I cracked up, because isn't that the very point of a 100 Things post? I found a post on Keeping the Faith at Fort Carson called 63 Things You Never Cared to Know About Me. If you really don't care, skip it. If you want, read the extended entry.

more...

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STUFF

What happens when they pack you out for a PCS is that invariably you will start to have desires for belongings you haven't looked at in years. The minute your stuff goes in boxes, you'll find yourself saying something like, "Honey, remember that Korean woman I taught English to five years ago? No? Well, when we get home I'll show you a picture. Oh wait. Nevermind." All of a sudden you'll have indescribable urges to look up the Whiskey Rebellion in your old history textbook, a book you haven't touched in ten years. It never fails, every PCS.

I miss my stuff already.

Oooh, and we had female movers. Heavenly. Male movers want you out of their way so they can do their job as quickly as possible. Female movers ask you questions about how you want something packed, whether you actually meant to leave this item out to take with you, and so on. All my worries dissipated when women walked through the front door.

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