March 31, 2006

BABY BOOM

There was something in the water in our neighborhood nine months ago...
Baby #1
Baby #2
Baby #3
And unfortunately we'll be moving before I get to meet Baby #4.

You all are amazing. A dog is too much work for me.

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March 29, 2006

FINALLY

We've got orders and plane tickets. We move in 34 days...

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BLOG WORLD

One of my friends is thinking of starting a blog. This friend is quite shy and introverted, so we were talking about the pros and cons of blogging. She doesn't know if she wants to be anonymous or open, if she wants a family-centered blog or one where she talks about deeper stuff. And she's very concerned about who might read her blog. Because you never know.

I told her that sometimes you'd be surprised who reads your stuff: your first grade teacher, your husband's old commander, or your parents' next door neighbor (yikes to all of those). And I told her that even if she has an anonymous blog, someone might still find her: both a friend from high school and our local lawyer recognized me.

The funny thing about blogging is that even if you never say who you are, strangers will read about the best and worst days of your life. I've been enjoying reading knitting blogs lately, and I've been privy to some very personal stories. I gasped when the Etherknitter's husband's tibia popped through his leg. I choked up when Debi gave Augie his sweater. My heart leapt back on the train with Squeeky's mom. And I cried with Jeanie when her son lost his best friend. I don't know these people from Adam, but I am in on their lives. I am thinking about them. I am cheering on their intarsia. And for moments, when I am engrossed in a particular post, I feel like I am a friend.

For all the headaches and heartaches, blogging has been very rewarding for me. I never would've known Bunker if it hadn't been for blogging. I never would've gotten an email from Ben Stein or gotten published in a book without blogging. And I never would've found so many people who cheer me on.

So even though I think about quitting every single day, I'm still here.

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March 28, 2006

NOT NOW

Now is not the time to get sick.

My husband was promised that his orders would be ready today. And not a moment too soon, since we're leaving in about four weeks. That means there's a ton to get done, and since I'm scheduled to work tomorrow and Thursday is Sergeant's Time, everything needs to get done today: final out, household goods, plane tickets, etc.

And I feel like I've been run over by a truck.

UPDATE:

I guess it doesn't matter anyhow, since the husband didn't get orders today anyway. I normally try not to complain, but they've been telling him every day for two weeks now that his orders will be done "tomorrow." It's getting a bit frustrating.

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March 27, 2006

SCIENCE

My favorite episode of From the Earth to the Moon is "Spider", in which engineers build the LM. How do you design something to go somewhere we've never been and do things that have never been done before? These engineers had to tackle issues we never have to think about here on earth. And it seems scientists are working on these issues again as they prepare to go back to the moon as a stepping stone to Mars.

Once planners choose a base, the astronauts will immediately need to bring a host of technologies to bear, none of which currently exist. "Power is a big challenge," Toups said. Solar arrays are an obvious answer, but away from the poles 14 days of lunar sunlight are followed by 14 days of darkness, so "how do you handle the dormancy periods?"

Next is the spacesuit. Apollo suits weighed 270 pounds on Earth, a relatively comfortable "felt weight" of 40 to 50 pounds on the moon, but an unacceptable 102 pounds on Mars. "You can't haul that around, bend down or climb hills," Lee said. "Somehow we have to cut the mass of the current spacesuit in half."

And the new suit, unlike the Apollo suits or the current 300-pound shuttle suit, is going to have to be relatively easy to put on and take off, and to be able withstand the dreaded moon dust.

After three days, Apollo astronauts reported that the dust was causing the joints in their suits to jam, "and we're not talking about three outings," Lee said of the next moon missions. "We're talking about once a week for 500 days -- between 70 and 100 spacewalks."

Dealing with dust is also a major concern in building shelters on the lunar surface. Toups said it might be possible to harden the ground by microwaving it, creating a crust "like a tarp when you're camping." Otherwise, the dust pervades everything, and prolonged exposure could even lead to silicosis.

Dust also makes it virtually impossible to use any kind of machinery with ball bearings. Civil engineer Darryl J. Calkins, of the Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, warned that the combination of dust, low gravity, temperature swings and the high cost of flying things to the moon is going to define the lunar tool kit in unforeseen ways.

"You can't put a diesel up there; you can't put a 20,000-pound bulldozer up there; and none of our oils or hydraulic fluids are going to survive," Calkins said in a telephone interview. "We may have to go back to the 19th century to find appropriate tools -- use cables, pulleys, levers."

And even then, it will be difficult to level a base site and haul away the fill because there's not enough gravity to give a tractor adequate purchase. Instead, Calkins envisions a device that can "scrape and shave" small amounts of soil and take it away bit by bit.

But in the end, "you have to learn how to do it, with real people," McKay said. "This is hard, but we can learn it. And if we do it right on the moon, we will be able to answer my ultimate question: Can Mars be habitable? I think the answer is 'yes.' "

I love that first sentence: "bring a host of technologies to bear, none of which currently exist." It reminds me of Michael Crichton's insight on the horse:

Let's think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horseshit? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?

But of course, within a few years, nobody rode horses except for sport. And in 2000, France was getting 80% its power from an energy source that was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan were getting more than 30% from this source, unknown in 1900. Remember, people in 1900 didn't know what an atom was.

I can't wait to see what these scientists come up with.

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SURELY YOU MUST BE JOKING

I couldn't help but guffaw when my husband pointed out the funniest quote from France's labor riots:

You'll get a job knowing that you've got to do every single thing they ask you to do because otherwise you may get sacked.

Heaven forbid you have to do what your boss tells you to do.

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March 25, 2006

PUPDATE

The Girl sent me this link with Charlie in mind: Game of fetch turns ugly
I don't know if Charlie could swallow a whole stick, but he appears to be working himself up to the challenge: two days ago he threw up a couple of pieces of tree bark.

In other Charlie news, he's gotten too smart for this house. Our kitchen pantry has a flimsy folding door, and Charlie has taught himself to open it and feast on the garbage. He bites the wooden slats and pulls! So now we have to have something constantly blocking the door, which makes my life annoying because I have to move a gigantic space heater every time I need to get food or throw something away.

I took some photos of the husband and the pup wrestling on Ace Ventura night. This one turned out hilarious:

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Stay tuned for photos of Charlie's birthday party in April; he's inviting six of his closest friends over for cake...

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March 23, 2006

FOCUS

I just had a long talk with Erin about how pessimistic and depressed I've been feeling lately. I can't read LGF without wanting to cry. My stomach is still in knots about Iran. And I just watched Season 2 of 24, which is reason enough to want to crawl in a hole. I'm losing it. And then I remembered Smink's advice:

First, go buy a six pack and swig it all down.
Then, watch “Ace Ventura.”
And after that, buy a Hard Rock Café shirt and come talk to me.
You really need to lighten up, man.

I don't have a Hard Rock shirt, but maybe my "I saw the Pope -- Des Moines 1979" shirt will work? And we certainly have beer and Ace Ventura. That's what my husband and I will do tonight, because I sure need a way to relax.

I also found that my spirits were lifted reading the Tanker Brothers blog today. I realized that I want to focus on reading MilBlogs for a while; soldiers always make me feel rejuvinated.

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March 22, 2006

OPTIMISM, ANYONE?

I saw some show yesterday with some newswoman talking about the anniversary of OIF I (honestly, I can never be bothered to keep the shows or the people straight). At the very end of the segment, she said something in closing about the toll of the war blah blah and something like "in a war whose outcome is far from certain." What a defeatist way of ending the show. I'd like to think my country isn't interested in getting into wars we're not sure we're going to win. And I'd like to think that three years in we're still committed to winning instead of being "far from certain." I wish she had ended the program by saying that the road may be hard but the US is not ready to give up. How different everyone's view of this war would be if newspeople threw a dash of optimism into their reporting.

LGF got an email about casualty statistics that's really something to ponder. Anyone who has a loved one in the fight should read it. It also brings up the same thing that I said while my husband was gone: a soldier's job is to soldier. These are things we should all keep in mind as we settle into OIF IV.

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March 21, 2006

UPDATE

I just talked to my Swedish friend, and somehow something came up about a unit leaving for Iraq. She asked if we were still sending soldiers to Iraq, you know, since the bombing started this week.

Oh lord.

When I flipped out about the media's misrepresentation of the air assault, I honestly didn't even think about the repercussions for the global media. I didn't stop to think that the German media might be telling Germans that the US started bombing. What a mess they've caused.

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March 19, 2006

NICE

We went to Prague today.

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Golly, I just love Europe.

MORE TO GROK:

Pertinent link: 17% of Americans view the US negatively

Anyway, I was just being snarky with my photo. However, I will say that my husband and I are two of the stingiest people you'll ever meet, which is part of the reason we hardly ever travel. So it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when we spend money to go to another country and have to see crap like this. We also went to the Museum of Communism, and while we were happy to see them tell communism like it is, I was extremely disheartened to see that some of the stuff in the gift shop made fun of the US and George Bush. This just doesn't seem very appropriate to me, nor did the other poster that said something like "Remember when the US stood for freedom?" I don't see why that kind of "joke" has a place in the Museum of Communism.

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March 16, 2006

WHAT?

Sweet merciful crap.

Right now on MSNBC on TV, they're announcing that the US has launched the biggest "air strike" in Iraq since 2003. This would be news if it were true, but what is really going on is an air assault, which is nothing like an air strike. An air strike is planes dropping bombs; an air assault is helicopters dropping troops onto the ground so they can kick down doors. Big whopping difference, news folks. Maybe you should get your damn terminology straight before you start blabbing your mouths.

As of right now, the MSNBC homepage has this graphic:

airstrike.jpg

Which leads to this article: U.S. launches largest Iraq air assault in 3 years
Correct information in the article, which the military spoonfed them; incorrect information in their flashy photo.

Oh media, how I roll my eyes at you.

This is not just a nitpicky difference. The two words are completely not interchangable. Why didn't someone correct the anchorwoman, who repeated "air strike" several times? Oh, that's right, because no one at MSNBC has the first clue about the military.

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March 14, 2006

KNITTING UPDATE

I haven't had any knitting content on the blog lately because everything I was making was a secret. But now the baby knitting is over and I'm just trying to pass the time until we move. I can't start anything big, so I've just been working to keep my hands busy. In the past two weeks, I've made two pairs of socks, a scarf, and a cozy for our portable DVD player.

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The scarf sprung from a challenge from The Girl. The husband and I went to see King Kong over the weekend, and I knew that I didn't want to sit for three hours without knitting. So I told The Girl I was going to try out my Blind Knitting in the darkness of a movie theater for the first time. I realized that knitting in the dark is a bit different from knitting in the light. Even though I normally watch TV while knitting -- and I can even watch subtitled flicks -- I can still sneak peeks at my work. But there were no peeks in the movie theater. I found it takes more touch to knit in the dark; I had to put my finger on every stitch in order to knit it. And I was only brave enough for garter stitch! The process was much slower, but I think in time I'll get better. Now I just have to decide if I want to take knitting to see Superman Returns or X-Men: The Last Stand. I had trouble concentrating on that scarf when King Kong was fighting three t-rexes, so I'm not sure I'll be able to concentrate at all during two movies that will be the highlight of our summer! But maybe I can perfect my Blind Knitting before Spiderman 3...

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March 12, 2006

BURN IN HELL, SLOBODAN

It's a coincidence that I made a cake yesterday, but maybe it's not too late to add Milosevic's name to it so he can have the same "honor" as Arafat and Saddam. "Suck it, Slobodan" has a nice ring to it too...

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March 10, 2006

WISTFUL

I just had a wistful moment at my new job. We recycle old used folders when a new client comes in, and today the folder that was on top to use was Heidi Sims'. It was sad for me to stick a new label on that folder. But at least I'm excited that Heidi will be visiting next week! I can't wait to spend some time with her now that I've gotten to know her better.

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FIRST THING THAT POPPED INTO MY HEAD

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise—you know!

Earth heard a rumor that there's water on Enceladus...

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March 09, 2006

ALL THAT BEAUTIFUL FUR...

After the Incident, I knew we had to get a professional involved. Charlie's hair has been steadily getting more tangled. I handed over one big mess of hair to the dog groomer today...

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and this is what they handed me back...

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He doesn't even look like the same dog! But I'm sure this hair situation, although a bit chilly for our snow, will be much better for summer in South Carolina.

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COOL

Colby Buzzell has another article out in the March issue of Esquire. Personally, Buzzell is a bit too existentialist for my taste, but this article features our friend LT A who was injured in Mosul. I can't believe LT A remembers pushing his own intestines back into his stomach...

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March 08, 2006

MILESTONE?

I suppose today is a milestone of sorts, though I don't really know how exactly it should be celebrated. My husband returned from Iraq one year ago today. I feel blessed that I've had him for 12 consecutive months without another deployment on the horizon; that's something to cherish in today's military. And that's all I have to say about that.

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SNIFF

This article will give you a lump in your throat. Heck, I got misty-eyed just reading the title: At his 80th birthday party, Holocaust survivor meets soldier who liberated him

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