September 10, 2006

GRADUATION

Charlie graduated from doggy school today. Overall, I'd say he's improved a lot in the past two months. We need more work getting him to stop jumping on people, but once we master that, I think he'll be a pretty darn good dog.

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September 09, 2006

KNIT UPDATE

Update on the knitting re-dos. Those of you who know me in person may know that I have had half of a sweater back sitting in my knitting basket for, oh, two years now. I started this sweater while the husband was in Iraq, and then I realized that it looked ridiculous. It features vertical stripes of stockinette and seed stitch, and apparently I do those two at vastly different gauges. Seriously, my seed needed size 6s and my stockinette probably needed like 4s or something. So I let 16 inches of a sweater sit for two years. Well, today I set aside the urge to start a new project and decided to do something about this stupid project that I dragged across the Atlantic. I tore out the whole danged thing and started practicing my seed stitch. I'm fairly sure I can start over and try to get the two sections closer in gauge. I hope so, because I like the pattern and want to have the sweater, minus the big gaping panels of stockinette. More as it develops.

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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

P.S. My husband thinks it's wildly funny to keep telling me to bring my "big ol' sour cream ass" closer to him. Heh.

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MY ALTON

Man, how come I find someone I want to be friends with and she lives in a different state? Yesterday I found an Army wife knitter who loves Alton Brown.

I've had a couple glasses of wine, so bear with my crush here. But I love Alton Brown. Numerous times I've asked my husband if we can marry Alton Brown. I can't get enough of Good Eats, and I tear up every time I watch Feasting on Asphalt. I often toy with the idea of driving to Marietta, GA, and just camping out at grocery stores until I see him.

Seriously, if you haven't seen Feasting on Asphalt, you should. No one breaks down the charm of America like Alton Brown.

I think celebrity crushes are ridiculous, but I swoon every time Alton is on TV.

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September 08, 2006

HEH

At the doctor today (another speedy and awesome visit), I was reminded of the ABCD's of skin cancer detection. I listened to the lecture and thanked the doctor, but what I really wanted to say was, "Thanks, dude, but we had AFN."

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September 07, 2006

PARENTING SUCKS

You know what's scary about parenting? I think sometimes you can do everything you're supposed to do, and things still don't turn out the way you want.

I've spent the last month playing Gregory House to our dog. When we moved here, we decided he was old enough to start trying to sleep out of his crate. He loves being under our bed, so we started letting him sleep there. He began throwing up occasionally in the middle of the night, but I read online that this can be normal if it's not too frequent. I didn't think too much of it until I started feeling like it was happening too often, so I started marking the calendar every time he threw up. Turns out it was happening every other day. Our dog trainer suggested switching to a sensitive tummy food, but that didn't do any good. Finally I made a vet appointment, but the earliest we could get in was in a week. We decided we were tired of getting up at 0400 to clean up puke, so we put him back in his crate. No barf for a week.

Today was our vet appointment, and though the vet was super-nice and super-cheap, I don't feel good about the visit. I wanted tests run and MRIs and sonograms and pushing 100 cc's of something. Instead, the only thing we can come up with is that we crate trained Charlie so well that he is neurotic about sleeping elsewhere.

I really think I did a Houseworthy job of diagnosing the pup. He can't be allergic to the carpet because he naps on it all day and only throws up at night. I know he's not getting into anything because we sleep with all the doors shut, and anyway I'm such a light sleeper that I wake up every time he rolls over and his collar jingles. It doesn't seem likely that he has acid reflux or something that only affects him at night because he would've gotten sick at least once in his crate. So that leaves us with two possibilities. One, he's allergic to something or has a stomach condition, but there's no way to figure out what it is without a major investigation that the vet didn't seem to think was necessary, and so he can't sleep with us. Two, we turned our dog into a nervous wreck and now he can never sleep with us. Either way, I don't like the way this turned out.

We did everything we were supposed to do. You're supposed to make the crate a happy place for your dog. You're supposed to crate train them until they're responsible enough to be left alone. And now that we want to feel close to our dog and let him sleep with us, he yaks every night. How utterly sad.

How could we not want to sleep with this stinker?

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SWEET

We got orders yesterday. It's official: we're going somewhere hooah.

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September 06, 2006

LESSONS

Powerline writes about a Connecticut sports committee decision to suspend high school football coaches who win by more than 50 points. He then links to another article called Rising when we fall and learning when we lose:

I reminisced about this last week with my son, now a college sophomore. What was the greatest memory of his sports career? His answer was prompt: the soccer team his junior year in high school. I was astounded. Their record was a dismal 0-15.

Usually it's not the winning that sticks with you. When we were home on leave in May, I visited my track coaches after ten years of being away. Their memory of my team is a special one for them, one they discuss frequently, because they were embiggened by a decision we girls made.

There was a girl on my team who was a phenomenal athlete. She could run faster than anyone we'd ever seen and barely break a sweat; in fact, the first time she ever ran the 400m, she qualified for State. But with her incredible talent came a personality that was truly the pits: she made teen-movie witches seem like Pollyana. She was arrogant, spiteful, and mean, and she believed that the only purpose of the rest of the team was to help her win.

In her senior year, she was awarded a college scholarship in basketball, her favorite sport. As soon as she was certain of the scholarship, she quit our track team, right in the middle of the season. Unfortunately for her, her new college coach found out about it and was not impressed. He didn't want someone who lacked commitment on the team and told her she needed to rejoin.

Our coaches held a team meeting so everyone could discuss what we wanted to do; the choice to let her back on the team was now up to us. Few of the young girls wanted to say anything; heck, most of us were scared of this girl. But those of us who had already been running with this monster for three years knew what we had to do.

We didn't want her anymore.

We knew it would mean that we wouldn't win as many meets, and that we'd have to work harder to make up for the enormous advantage her talent had given us, but we didn't care. Winning wasn't as important to us as being a team was, and now that she was gone, we were a team instead of one star. We politely declined to accept her back, and that was that.

The coaches are impressed to this day that we chose the quality of our team over the ability to win. I'm sure a part of them wanted to keep her and keep winning. But it was a no-brainer to us; we had learned the lessons our coaches had taught us. Why did we have t-shirts that said "Winners make a commitment" and signs that said "Winning isn't everything...the effort is" if we weren't going to take it seriously?

And so high school track taught us more than winning. Ten years and bad knees later, all I care about are the bigger lessons I took with me.

But I still think that a football team should be allowed to kick someone's tail by 50 points if they can.

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OIL

Interesting discussion going on about oil and the future of our energy. Also found via Hud, who always finds the good stuff.

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September 05, 2006

A HOOT AND A HOLLER

Holy crap. If you're a fan of Parker and Stone (ahem, CaliValleyGirl), then you have to check out this "employment orientation video" they did for Universal Studios. Apparently Universal decided they hated it, but it had me in stitches this morning. Thanks for finding it, Hud.

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September 04, 2006

TALES AND LEGENDS

Yes, Jack Bauer is a fictional character. But what is the purpose of our modern day tales and legends if not moral instruction? Don't we invent heroes because we wish to emulate them in some way, because their exaggerated traits are our ideal? We don't watch 24 because we want Jack to wimp out and take the easy way to appease the enemy; we watch it because we want our inner heroes to strive to measure up to our fictional heroes.

I wrote this a year and a half ago, and I still firmly believe it:

I'm also convinced that Flight 93 would've crashed into the White House or whatever its destination if the passengers on board hadn't been raised on good old fashioned Hollywood movies. If these men and women had never seen Passenger 57 or Air Force One, they might never have thought that they could've overpower the hijackers. One of the men on board even had a Superman tatoo; they were steeped in American culture and taught from day one that they can do anything they put their minds to. I honestly believe this is what brought Flight 93 down in a field instead of in D.C., and I'm ever grateful for the bravery those passengers showed.

But would they have had the guts to do it if they hadn't seen Wesley Snipes do it first?

I'm well aware that life isn't a movie and we don't always get a happy ending. But Fabrizio Quattrocchi had a fiancee and family too, and he still had the courage to defy the enemy. I'm saying I hope I'd do the same. You don't have to agree with me, but don't insult my intelligence by reducing my very serious and heartfelt post into pretending I don't understand the difference between TV death and real death.

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VALUE

From Mark Steyn's newest on Centanni and Wiig:

[F]or the Fox journalists and the Western media who reported their release, what's the big deal? Wear robes, change your name to Khaled, go on camera and drop Allah's name hither and yon: If that's your ticket out, seize it. Everyone'll know it's just a sham.

But that's not how the al-Jazeera audience sees it. If you're a Muslim, the video is anything but meaningless. Not even the dumbest jihadist believes these infidels are suddenly true believers. Rather, it confirms the central truth Osama and the mullahs have been peddling -- that the West is weak, that there's nothing -- no core, no bedrock -- nothing it's not willing to trade.

We saw Jill Carroll on TV yesterday talking about how like totally weird it was to play along with terrorists for three months. How she was introduced to a woman whose goal was to be a suicide bomber, how she constantly reminded her captors that they were such good, wholesome people that they would never hurt her, and how she played their game until she was released.

As we watched, I grew frustrated. I told my husband that I really don't know what the survival instinct is like. Maybe the will to live can make you do things that you swear you wouldn't do when you're sitting comfortably on your sofa. But my husband and I share a thought that comes up every time someone is abducted by jihadists: "I love you more than anything in the world, but we don't negotiate with terrorists." I don't know how Carroll kept a straight face when a pregnant mother of three said she can't wait to give birth so she can become a suicide bomber. Could I play along with that, or would the look of disgust rise on my face and give me away? And is that something I would ever want to play along with even if I could suppress the disgust?

I have never forgotten Fabrizio Quattrocchi, and I keep him as an example of how I hope I would react if I ever found myself in this situation. I hope I'd stand up for what I believe in and show the enemy how an American dies. I'm saddened that Quattrocchi's family wishes he would've played along instead of giving his life for what he believed in. I know it would be far easier for me to give my own life than my husband's; I wept when Ken Bigley's family pleaded for his life because I knew I would not do the same. I wouldn't be invited on TV because they couldn't air the foul things I would have to say to my husband's captors.

I've really gotten into watching the show 24. I can't get enough of Jack Bauer, and I think I've recently come to understand why. Jack Bauer sees the big picture. He is willing to sacrifice anything -- his life or the lives of those he loves -- to do what he thinks is right to protect the US. He does what it takes to stop the enemy because he constantly keeps his eye on that 24th hour. His country matters more to him than anything else, and he's a character I have really grown fond of.

We in the West can't understand how a Muslim woman can hide explosives in her baby's bottle, but I'm starting to understand. They value their religion and way of life over any individual person, the same way Jack Bauer values his country. I hope we have many Jack Bauer Americans out there, because we in the West have to decide if there's anything worth dying for. We need to ask ourselves what we value, and how much. What is our way of life worth to us? Because I don't think we're going to get anywhere in this War on Terror if we can't find a good answer to that question.

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September 02, 2006

IT'S HERE

The other day the doorbell rang, and UPS handed me my copy of The Blog of War.

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Blackfive did a wonderful job of pulling this anthology together, and the finished product is a wonderful slice of history. The best part of the book, in my opinion, is how no one knew he would be published. We wrote our entries for our blogs, not for a book, so the writing is spontaneous and honest. We expected our friends and blog family to read our words, not the whole world; there's no pretension or feeling of "this is literature" in The Blog of War. It's just servicemembers and spouses describing deployment.

I've been reading it this week, and I must say I can only handle its intensity in small doses. Reading this book brings back deployment feelings that I honestly had forgotten about, and I find myself reliving the anguish, the anxiety, the loneliness, and the fear. I've been laughing, and lord, I've been crying, and with every page turn I've been wishing that every person I know would read this book.

But whatever you do, don't try to read the chapter on The Fallen all in one night. You won't sleep, trust me.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a glimpse into OIF and OEF. At a mere ten bucks, it's a steal on Amazon. My mom bought six! So far, I know our friends from Poland and Sweden have also bought copies, and I'm anxious to hear their responses. But it's a no-brainer if you're reading blogs and if you've ever visited MilBlogs; this book is definitely for you.

Buy the book. You won't be sorry.

My only regret is that this story didn't make it in. I didn't think to suggest it until I started reading the book and knew how perfectly it would've fit.

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September 01, 2006

HEH

My husband is pretty sure he knows what his next job will be. But there were a few weeks in there where he was confused, so he decided to turn to the assignment officer who might be able to help him. Know who it turned out to be? MAJ Patti.

Of all the people in the Army, a blog spouse needed help from another blog spouse. The world is a small place.

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THE DEATH OF CIVILITY

In college I was friends with several Bulgarians. They used to constantly bring new things home from the grocery store that they'd never seen before. You should've seen their excitement when they discovered frozen juice concentrate...and watching them try to open it with a can opener was priceless. One day they brought home a tub of sour cream and asked me what it was. As I was trying to describe it, they opened the tub and ate a huge spoonful. Now, I'm the first person to enjoy a dollop of Daisy, but watching them eat plain sour cream directly from the tub kinda grossed me out.

I remembered that story today when I read the comments from yesterday. I've taken a lot of crap here on my blog for politics, and I fully understand that this comes with the territory, as much as I hate it. I'm prepared to hear people insult my intelligence and worldview, but I'm always amazed to find someone take insults to a place I never imagined.

Lest we forget what an ugly, ugly place the internet can be, here's the comment for all to read:

Yeah, look at you. You're fat because you sit around knitting, watching tv, reading, and eating sour cream by the gallon. You can't expect your husband to come home from a hard day at the government teat and drag your big butt away from the computer to do some exercise!

I guess I should just be relieved that he just called me fat and lazy; another blogger got a death threats directed at his toddler. When I read stuff like this, I am reminded of why Tim left blogging: the death of civility. And I'm reminded of how nice it would be in many ways to just quit.

Incidentally, the Bulgarians decided that sour cream made a good spread for toast. I don't get it either.

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