February 28, 2006

HOORAY

CaliValleyGirl's boyfriend is back from Afghanistan. Go over there and give them your congrats!

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February 27, 2006

SO DANG WITTY

Lileks watched Air Force One over the weekend:

It was shot in 1997. It opens with a joint American / Russian spec-ops kidnapping of a head of state, who is one of those super-nationalist Russians we were all twitchy about in the late 90s; he is sent to a very bad and smelly prison. Cut to President Solo, giving a speech that puts forth a new American policy towards terrorists and terror-enabling states:

Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons. And to those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid.

He is also quite physically fit AND he can fly a plane. This was the sort of person Hollywood wanted for President in 1997. Then they get one, and they completely wigged out. Ah well.

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February 26, 2006

I LOVE MADE-UP WORDS

This magnet is just a gem. I can't wait to put it on my fridge...

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GEEZ

Charlie still has to take antibiotics for his stitches, and we've been dipping the pills in peanut butter for him. Today he licked all the peanut butter off and walked away from the pill. So I wrapped it in some cheese, and I'll be darned if he didn't suck on it until the cheese came off and then spit the pill on the kitchen rug. That dog is too smart for his own good!

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ROLE MODEL

My friend Angie is a little bummed that maybe her life hasn't turned out exactly as she wanted, and she thinks maybe she's past the point where she can fix it. I've actually had a blog post rolling around in my head for a while, and now seems like a good time to let it out.

When I was in middle school, every kid used to say that Michael Jordan was his role model. It was always Michael Jordan. For some reason I was thinking about that a few weeks back and how silly it seems now to me to have a celebrity as a role model when we've got plenty of real people in our life to emulate. One of our biggest role models as a couple was the Major at my husband's ROTC. He was extremely hooah and completely unassuming. He and his wife had been married for nearly ten years; they had just built their own house (literally, the Major built it with some Amish help) and were all set to welcome their first baby into the home. My husband and I thought that was a great way to be ready for a child, and we want to be as emotionally and financially ready as they were. We still talk about what a good influence they were on our life.

We moved here, and as I slowly got to know Angie, she became a new role model for me. (And my mom will vouch that this is true, because I rave about Angie all the time!) Angie has always felt somewhat inadequate that she didn't finish college, but the reason she didn't finish is because she and her husband decided when they got married that Angie's job was to raise their children. My parents made the same decision when they got married, but it's a decision that doesn't happen much in 2006. Angie and her husband knew that the most important thing Angie could do with her life is to raise these three little boys to be gentlemen, and she's doing a wonderful job.

I know during the deployment that Angie sometimes wanted to tear her hair out. I witnessed firsthand some of the trials of being with her boys, like when a temper tantrum broke out because the older brother ate the little one's imaginary strawberries! It's not easy to be a stay-at-home mom; how much quieter and nicer it would've been for Angie to drop the boys off at daycare and go to a job. But she stays home with them because it's her job to mold their character, teach them manners, and be their mommy. Angie deserves all the praise in the world for the no-so-obvious task of bringing up her own children.

I'm glad that I had a role model like Angie. If/when my husband and I have children, we too will make the same decision Angie and her husband did. And I will be the one to stay at home and break up fights over imaginary fruit. I'm happy that I met someone like Angie who also believes that raising a child is the most important job a woman has.

Angie, you may sometimes feel sheepish that you never finished that degree, but you display qualities far more important than a diploma, and people notice. I noticed, and I hope someday to be half as talented at motherhood as you are.

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PROUD

Every time I walk by the computer, I check to see if CaliValleyGirl has any update on when her boyfriend returns from Arghanistan. I'm a bundle of nerves just watching her wait! Watching OIF III and OEF Who Knows come to an end has made me nostalgic for this time last year. I keep reading my blog entries from the end of February and the beginning of March, remembering the feeling of knowing that everyone -- including the company commander, battalion commander, and brigade commander -- was home while my husband sat in Iraq waiting to go to Kuwait so he could start the process of coming home. It was excruciating. But as I told CaliValleyGirl, as painful as the waiting game is, you completely forget about it the minute they walk into that gym.

I'm really proud of her, which is not meant to sound condescending. Dealing with deployment was made easier by 1) the community around me and 2) that gold ring on my left hand. Cali has neither of those. She dealt with her boyfriend's absence on her own at a German university, which I can't believe was easy. And she handled it with grace: the other day she told me how much she's grown and how much she learned this year, about herself and her boyfriend. I'm glad that she was able to see deployment as a learning experience and not a burden.

And I can't wait to meet up with her at the Taco Bell in a few weeks!

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February 25, 2006

REASON #14 WHY I'M NUTS

I really want to get Lasik surgery, but I'm unreasonable paranoid that I'll be the unlucky fella who goes blind from the procedure. So sometimes I practice knitting with my eyes shut so I could continue my hobby sans eyesight...

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February 23, 2006

SICK

I read something this morning that I can't really get out of my head. I don't really want to write about it, but I can't stop thinking about it. It's the last paragraph of this article in Slate:

And that is why as a Muslim American I am enraged by the publication of these cartoons. Not because they offend my prophet or my religion, but because they fly in the face of the tireless efforts of so many civic and religious leaders—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to promote unity and assimilation rather than hatred and discord; because they play into the hands of those who preach extremism; because they are fodder for the clash-of-civilizations mentality that pits East against West. For all of that I blame Jyllands-Posten. We in the West want Muslim leaders to condemn the racial and religious prejudices that are so widespread in the Muslim world. Let us lead by example.

I for one am getting a little tired of having to lead by example. Terrorists saw off any heads they can get their hands on, but Abu Ghraib is the worst thing that's happened in Iraq. Insurgents regularly hide behind civilians, but an American soldier shoots an insurgent under somewhat dubious conditions and he's raked over the coals. I'm sick and tired of being held to a higher standard.

But more than that, there's something so galling about the phrase "they fly in the face of the tireless efforts of so many civic and religious leaders—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to promote unity and assimilation rather than hatred and discord." Come again? Who's promoting unity? Who's trying to assimilate? The whole freaking Western world has bent over backwards apologizing for non-existant flushed Korans and splashed urine and stupid cartoons. Everyone's apologizing and getting fired and being suspended from school papers; can we point some freaking fingers at those who are burning down embassies, for pete's sake? Promoting unity, my foot. The Free Muslims Coalition held an anti-terrorism rally last May, and guess how many people showed up. Maybe fifty. Fifty. My god, it makes me want to cry. How can this writer actually think that Jyllands-Posten is the Muslim community's biggest problem?

Apparently the cartoons prevented Muslims from assimilating. Give me a break. There's a clash of civilizations going on allright, and I think Islam is winning. Schools are changing their art curriculum because drawing people is against Islam. A Muslim girls' basketball team wants to play other teams, which of course means that all men have to be barred from the arena. In Michigan they're blaring the call to prayer over loudspeakers. If this is a fight between East and West, I often feel like the West is losing. The internet has become a disheartening place for me, where I simply dread reading that half of Palestinians support suicide bombers. Or that Israel should be wiped off the map and the Holocaust never happened. And no one in the West stands up to this nonsense. No one says "We're drawing humans in art class because that's what happens in a flippin' art class and you just have to deal with it." No one holds Muslims to the standard that every other religious group is held to:

Some Christians believe they are required to wear particular sorts of clothing. Some Jews and Muslims don't eat pork. They don't claim that their religion requires other people to wear special clothing or avoid eating pork. Tolerance and ecumenism can only do so much. They have nothing to offer a Muslim in Afghanistan who is personally insulted and enraged about an image that appears in a newspaper in Denmark.

I'm sick and tired of the world tiptoeing around Islam. Hitchens is right: we should stand with Denmark and stand up for our values, instead of apologizing because some drawings made people go completely insane. What is wrong with the world?

I just can't take it anymore.

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LINKS

Mark Steyn:

It's easy to be tough about nothing. The press corps that noisily champions "the public's right to know" about a minor hunting accident simultaneously assures the public that they've no need to see these Danish cartoons that have caused riots, arson and death around the world.

James Lileks:

The average American’s reaction to handing port control over to the UAE is instinctively negative, and for good reason. There are two basic reactions: We can’t do this ourselves? and We should trust them, why?
As for the first, the assertion that American firms were the lower bidder is unpersuasive, rather like saying that we should have outsourced the flight crew for the Enola Gay to Japanese nationals because they knew the terrain better. As for the trust issue, well, wanting port control to remain in American hands is not a matter of Arabiaphobia, any more than selling Boeing to China means you harbor deep hatred of Asians. Some things ought to be left in local hands. It seems absurd to have to make that argument in the first place.

Christopher Hitchens:

The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let's be sure we haven't hurt the vandals' feelings.

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February 21, 2006

BISCUITS

As you know, I've been feeling guilty about Charlie's accident. I've never even had stitches, but I made my dog have to get them! So I've been spoiling him rotten for the last few days. Today I decided to make him some homemade dog biscuits. The recipe said it would make three dozen, so I decided to double it. Would someone mind telling me when three dozen turned into 100? I've got 200+ dog biscuits here now! So everyone's getting some: Winston, Lewis, Elway, and any other dog I can think of. They seem to be a hit; the whole time I was baking, Charlie was doing this:

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Don't be fooled by the silence of your computer; he's howling his fool head off in this photo. That's all he did for two hours. Except of course when he was trying to think of a better way to get at the biscuits:

biscuits2.JPG

That dog is just too dang much.

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February 19, 2006

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER LESSON

We gave Charlie a bath this morning, and I decided to cut some of the knots out of his fur while he was drying. One clip of the scissors made him yelp and run away; once I nabbed him and brought him back to the living room, I realized I had cut more than I bargained for.

After his initial yelp, Charlie didn't seem to notice his wound so much. He was up and romping around with his toys; I was the inconsolable one weeping on the floor. And this, my friends, is Reason Umpteen why I can never have kids: I hurt Charlie. My carelessness caused him pain. Every time I look at him, I burst into tears again, even though he seems to have accepted the 8 shiny new staples hiding under his right ear.

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I learned and emotionally (ugh -- and financially) costly lesson today, one that I won't soon forget. I have the power to hurt Charlie. Or my husband, or my child someday. I really don't like the thought of that.

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February 16, 2006

BUPKIS

I've been scouring the internet for something to say, anything that would give me inspiration to blog. Nothing's coming. Anything I want to say someone else has said better.

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February 15, 2006

BETWEEN WHITE AND BLACK

My college roommate senior year was black. She was a nice enough girl, but we had Culture Clash on more than one occasion. One of the most disheartening things I ever witnessed was her relationship with an African student. Not an African-American, an actual African. This guy was one of the most genuine and friendly people I've ever met, and smart too. He and my husband had many business and economics classes together, and he was active in speech/debate. He also belonged to a fraternity. Real nice guy. But apparently he wasn't Black Enough. I had to watch my roommate try to turn him into a thug so he wouldn't be an outcast in the campus black community anymore. She said flat-out that black people didn't really like him and he needed to change his behavior. She "corrected" his speech, advised him to quit his white fraternity and join the black one, and generally nagged the guy about not being truly black. It was a depressing thing to watch. Luckily they eventually broke up, and I hope this guy has done better for himself. He had the potential to be successful, as long as all the "advice" he got didn't sink in.

(This memory prompted by LaShawn Barber.)

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13 THINGS

I saw this on MQ's site: 13 Things You Wouldn't Guess By Looking At Me. I don't know if I can come up with 13, but I'll try.

Hmm, I am anal and compulsive. I bet I could come up with 13 ways my best friends make fun of me for it.

1. I measure everything when I cook. I can't do pinches and handfuls and dabs. I measure everything out perfectly, even if it's something I've made ten times.
2. I researched and read books for months before we got a dog. I panic every time he does something out of the ordinary; both Erin and Kelly have gotten frantic calls about all sort of bodily functions.
3. I also write everything on the calendar: when Charlie had his last bath, when I cleaned his ears. I obsess about this dog so much that I know there's no way I'm ready to have a kid.
4. All of our movies and music are alphabetized. So are our books. I used to have them alphabetized within categories (e.g. fiction, travel, etc), but that became too difficult to maintain.
5. I even organized all my husband's field manuals. That was before I realized he's never once looked in one.
6. I also organize greeting cards into a file folder by event.
7. My friends tease me that I was even anal about my relationship: six years ago today my husband and I sat down and decided to be a couple. No spontaneity here.
8. But here's a few they might not know yet: I only turn the TV volume to an even number.
9. Also I color coordinate my shampoo and body lotion with what I'm wearing that day.
10. And I coordinate different detergents and fabric softeners with different loads of laundry.
11. I also coordinate my dishes with the food we're having. I guess that's why I have five place settings.
12. My old roommate and I used to share expenses in our apartment down to the last cent. If one of us bought a roll of paper towels, the other would hand over a quarter.
13. And as all of you already know, I stress out about using up spices, canned goods, and beauty products before we move. I lie in bed and fret about the bottle of Worcestershire sauce that will never be used. And it cost one dollar.

There. 13 things that might make you want to reconsider getting too close to me.

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February 14, 2006

TRADITION

As I sing to my husband every year:

I was working in the lab late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash

I choo-choo-choose you.

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GETTING CLOSE

CaliValleyGirl is closing in on a week until her soldier returns from Afghanistan. His unit was featured in the Stars and Stripes this weekend. I can't wait to read about their homecoming on her blog.

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HOORAY

My favorite Valentine's moment:

valsday.jpg

As the candy hearts poured into the fiery quasar, a wonderous thing happened, why not? They vaporized into a mystical love radiation that spread across the universe, destroying many, many planets - including two gangster planets and a cowboy world. But one planet was exactly the right distance to see the romantic rays, but not be destroyed by them - Earth. So all over the world, couples stood together in joy. And me, Zoidberg! And no one could've been happier, unless it would've also been Valentine's Day. What? It was? Hooray!

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February 10, 2006

CELEBS

My husband summarized an article about George Clooney for me, which was enough to make me not want to read the article. However, I did seek it out just to check one quote:

Clooney is as vain and materialistic as the next guy in Hollywood - "[F] it, I love my house in Italy. It's big and audacious and ridiculous, and nicer than any human being has the right to have" - but he is also one of the few really grown-up movie stars. "I have Irish Catholic guilt," he says, smiling, "and want to make up for [my successes]."
The way Clooney atones is by making, alongside the romantic comedies and heist numbers, a range of films that bring him a different kind of attention altogether.

My husband was absolutely mortified by the phrase "nicer than any human being has the right to have," as if some Equality Police could come and knock down half of your house because you're not allowed to live extravagantly. For him, the fact that George Clooney thinks that people shouldn't have the right to a big house is just beyond words. I, however, find something differently but equally reprehensible in this paragraph. Clooney's attitude reminds me of something I heard Ben Affleck say on TV right before the last presidential election. He was upset that he had gotten a tax cut because he said he didn't need the money and he would've rather the government kept it.

Do these celebrities want us to think that they don't have any will of their own? You know, the world is just the way it is and I wish it weren't but that's life so I gotta stay ridiculous rich. That's what we're supposed to believe?

Ben Affleck, if you want to take your $1.5 million tax cut and donate it to charity, guess what, you can! Hell, you can even opt to pay more taxes in Massachusetts, as O'Reilly trapped Affleck into admitting he didn't even know. Here he is, complaining that he couldn't give more in taxes, and all he had to do was, you know, give more. You could donate it to cancer research or stem cells or veterans benefits or all the other stuff you say you care about. You don't have to wait for the government to do it for you. Your hands aren't tied because they gave you your $1.5 million back; it means you have MORE OPTIONS.

Same for you, Clooney. No one is forcing you to live in a big house. If your wealth makes you feel guilty, then buy some land, build a modest-sized house on it, and start donating some of your money. But don't you dare say that the way you compensate for your Catholic guilt is that you make more movies. Even if it is Syriana and you think you're doing some good by educating people to the Ways Of The World, you're still raking in the dough doing it. That's supposed to make us feel better about you? Poor Clooney, he's so big and famous, he can't help but be a bazillionaire, but at least he makes Films That Matter. Are you serious?

Last night we got the Grammys here. I swear I nearly spat on the TV when Alicia Keys said "this is the most important night in the world." Get over yourselves, people. You know, I can accept it if you're filthy rich and lovin' it. I read once that Christopher Walkin will do any movie that's put before him because it's a job and he's in it to make money. I can respect that; my husband and I are out to make as much money as we can too. But to hear celebs ask for millions of dollars for each movie they do and then complain about being rich, that's too much for me to accept.

No one put a gun to Clooney's head and made him buy that stupid house. Get over it.

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KUDOS

When I attended the University of Illinois, I used to get so mad reading The Daily Illini newspaper. I would seethe for days over some of their editorials, and I'm sure I could maintain this website by just blogging about some of the stuff they print (I don't visit their website anymore out of respect for my blood pressure). However, I was proud today to hear that they printed the "offensive" Mohammed cartoons. Good for them for actually reporting the news instead of censoring it to make sure no one's feelings get hurt...or embassies get burned down, as the case may be.

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TWO YEARS INDEED

I wrote yesterday about how I couldn't believe my husband left for Iraq two years ago. Gunnar Becker's mom can't believe it's been that long either: she sent me an article about her son I hadn't seen yet. No one in the battalion has forgotten Gunnar.

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