May 19, 2007

NOT GROKKING

I don't understand the illegal immigrant issue.

Who is it who's arguing for illegals to stay here and get citizenship? And why do they matter? What does amnesty do for the US? Does it improve our relationship with Mexico? If so, why do we care? Does it improve our relationship with legal Hispanics? I thought many of them poll against amnesty.

What is the reason we haven't built that fence yet and that we've got an amnesty bill in Congress right now?

I'm serious here; I really don't grok.

Neal Boortz says it's the votes, stupid. He thinks that both parties are racing to be the one who helps illegals so that when they can vote, they'll vote for the party that got them in. Boortz is an awful cynical guy, but is that right? Is that the reason our elected officials are acting like fools?

I don't think the American public as a whole supports amnesty. John Hawkins found out that a mayor in Pennsylvania who's running on a strict anti-illegal platform won both the Republican nomination and the Democrat write-in! He got 94% of the Republican vote. I think the American people want that fence built and they want our existing laws to be upheld.

So what's the deal with our politicians then?

Posted by: Sarah at 05:06 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 18, 2007

LOSING TOUCH

My husband and I have been discussing parenting constantly since we decided to start a family. Our philosophy is that our job as parents is to turn babies into adults. Our child will be a child for about 1/5th of his life, so the real goal is to mold him into a good adult. Thus we constantly discuss which ways we think we can best achieve this goal.

One thing that does worry me is handing the kid over to a school. I know enough Neal Boortz and John Stossel to be completely disillusioned with public schools. But we also don't want to homeschool, so we generally discuss ways we can supplement our future child's education.

This story about elementary school kids using calculators is just sad. I think technology is great, but it's also taken us far away from the fundamentals. I remember getting a pizza one night and the cash register girl accidentally typed in $200 instead of $20. She couldn't for the life of her figure out how much change to give us without the cash register doing it for her; she had to hunt around for a calculator to do the math. Of course, at my job in college I also saw one girl count on her fingers how many hours her 12-8 work shift was. Sigh.

It's not only a problem with math though. Spell Check has killed our ability to bother looking words up. I had another blogger ask me how I could stand Movable Type since it doesn't have spell check, but if I'm unsure about a word, it only takes ten seconds to open m-w.com and look it up. That's way better than Back In The Olden Days when I actually had to do my homework sitting with a dictionary and a thesaurus. When I was teaching college English, I was just happy if students' papers didn't look like they'd text messaged them to me! Yeah, LOL is not appropriate for a college paper, folks.

We have so much power at our fingertips these days -- to be able to find cosines, definitions, and historical figures with a touch of a button -- but as wonderful as this technology is, I can't help but think sometimes that we're losing our grasp on basic smarts.

Of course, this is coming from the girl who patted herself on the back repeatedly a few weeks ago because she used the Pythagorean Theorem instead of a tape measure to figure out how big her knitting project would be. Look at me, I'm a flippin' math genius.

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GROSS

A couple of really kind people came up to me at the Milblogs Conference to tell me I was articulate. (Sadly, no one thought to comment on how clean I am.) But I just watched the video interview Mary Katherine Ham put together, and I must say I don't see it. I seriously think I need some botox to stop the horrible contortions my face makes when I speak. Ugh, I look ridiculous. Do I look like that all the time when I talk?

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WHEREIN THE 'SPHERE MAKES MY HEART BURST

Over the weekend at SpouseBUZZ Live, I sat in on a seminar on how to start your own blog. One of the wives asked if it was possible to set her new blog to private so only her friends and family could see it. We bloggers all paused: of course it's possible to do that, but as I sat in the audience surrounded by ArmyWifeToddlerMom, airforcewife and her husband, and with CaliValleyGirl glued to my hip, we all wondered why on earth you'd want to.

When I have childrearing questions, do you think I call people from my real life? Nope, I call ArmyWifeToddlerMom. When I had military questions during deployment, Bunker Mulligan was my man. Amritas helps with linguistics, Deskmerc helps with physics, and Annika is the go-to for all things Goldie Hawn.

It is so strange, this my need of you.

CaliValleyGirl told this wife in the audience that setting her blog to private would effectively cut off her chances of finding a best friend. The thing is, we know more about our blog friends than we usually do about people in our real lives. I follow ArmyWifeToddlerMom's parenting life far more closely than even my neighbors'. I know my blog friends' likes and dislikes before we've ever met in person. When The Girl showed up in Germany, she knew everything about me before I ever picked her up at her hotel. When I asked CaliValleyGirl at the Milblogs Conference if she was surprised we were getting along so well, she shrugged and replied that she was not surprised at all because she already knew she liked me.

I thought about this weekend's conversation a lot this week as I read about the Lileks family's trip to Disneyworld. I have read The Bleat nearly every single day since Jan. 23, 2004. I know everything that's happened to him over the past three years, and I know far more about his life than any of my real world friends' lives. He is my friend, whether he knows it or not, and if he ever set his blog to private I would weep like a baby.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:59 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 17, 2007

PRINCE HARRY

Yesterday I read about how Prince Harry will not be deploying to Iraq, and I really felt bad for the guy. He's trained and prepared with his unit, and now he has to watch his unit leave without him. Any true soldier would find that heartbreaking.

But today I heard that other British families are ticked off about the revelation, saying that Harry is no more indespensible than their sons are.

I too have come to this conclusion, that my husband's life is no more valuable than anyone else's in the military. If I believe this war needs to be fought, I cannot in good faith keep my husband from the battlefield. If he doesn't go, someone else will be sent in his place; just because that person doesn't share my bed doesn't mean he doesn't share a bed with someone else whose heart breaks to see him go.

That said, I think the Prince Harry situation is an entirely different issue altogether. To my understanding, no one is saying that Prince Harry's life is more valuable than any other soldier's. What they are saying is that Prince Harry puts his unit in danger. Apparently they've determined there's a $678,000 bounty on Harry's head. He's so high profile that he endangers the soldiers around him, a fact which is not lost on jokesters who've bought the I'm Harry t-shirt. If my husband could somehow put his soldiers' lives in jeopardy, then and only then would I say he shouldn't deploy.

Harry appears ready to sacrifice for his country. But right now the biggest sacrifice he can make is to stand aside and let his unit deploy without him. The Brits should try to understand this.

MORE TO GROK:

Tammi has thoughts on Harry too.

Posted by: Sarah at 11:09 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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May 15, 2007

STILL UP

Jetlag rears its ugly head. I'm back home, but my sleep cycle still thinks it's in L.A. Not good.

Back when I first started blogging, I cared a lot more about trackbacks and cross-linking than I do now. I think the novelty wore off for me over time, and conversely I haven't had a trackback in nearly a year now. But I was excited to get an email from a blogger saying he too has written about the professor who forwarded George Washington's speech. Hooray for cross-linking, I say. It's been harder and harder for me to break out of my blog coterie, and I welcome other bloggers sending me links to stuff they've written. It's a good way to find new blog friends.

Check out the rest of the Lamplighter blog when you have time.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:59 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 14, 2007

GUNBLOGGING

I enjoyed Annika's gun interview. I will miss her when she stops blogging in a week. And my husband and I really need to buckle down and do some firearms research soon. We've been talking about it since we returned from Germany, but we haven't done anything about it yet. And it needs to get done before he deploys.

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CUTE

I too need to be reminded of these moments: The President Bush You Like

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THE PRESS

The SpouseBUZZ Live went well, in my opinion. You can read the liveblogs of the panels over at SpouseBUZZ to see what we touched on. The event was really high-class and impressive; Military.com and USAA went all out for us.

After the panels, I was approached to do an interview for a local news affiliate. How bad could it be, right?

When I said at the Milblogs Conference that I had no bad experience with the press, I suppose I spoke too soon. I just didn't have any personal experience to speak of. So far I'd never been in any articles or newscasts.

For some reason, the local affiliate only wanted to talk about this blog. Why did they come to SpouseBUZZ Live and then start asking dumb questions about my personal site? And I was not savvy enough to see where this line of questioning was heading; I thought they'd ask me how I started blogging and then segue into SpouseBUZZ. Instead we segued into what I think about deployments and politics. Ugh. In hindsight, I wish I'd asked to start over or told the man I really only wanted to talk about SpouseBUZZ. But I was inexperienced and thought his questions would get more appropriate as we progressed.

As he shut down his camera, he decided to ask me off-the-record what I think about the war and if I think we're winning. Ugh again. I answered with some vague nonsense I can't even remember, but at some point I mentioned that my husband was learning Farsi. This guy's eyes got an a-ha twinkle as he said, "Waaait, that means Iran, right?" as if the fact that my husband is learning Farsi is some indicator that Bushitler is indeed planning to invade Iran. Thank heavens we weren't still on camera, because I wouldn't be surprised if he'd used the word Farsi as a way to speculate about Ahmadinejad. He acted as if he'd uncovered an Army plot to invade Iran.

Remind me not to do any more interviews in the future.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:20 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 13, 2007

TRAFFIC

I arrived in L.A. on Friday and after a lovely lunch with CaliValleyGirl's family, we were off to San Diego. The Garmin said it was 110 miles. "Cool, we'll be there plenty early," I thought.

I never used to understand Crazy Aunt Purl's blog posts about traffic. Now I do. I have never seen anything like this in my life. Where I come from, miles and minutes are easily linked; here there is no such connection, save the fact that miles equal a boatload of minutes.

110 miles took us four hours. Seriously.
I now can crack up at all these posts about L.A. traffic.

Posted by: Sarah at 12:49 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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May 12, 2007

STINGY

I'm the stingiest person I know besides my husband. I'm always amazed at the amount of money people think it's normal to spend. The worst is those Mastercard commercials. $6000 engagement ring? Please. $96 for peep toe pumps? I agonized for days last month over a $13 pair of Walmart sandals, and that chick bought shoes to match her toenail polish? Good lord.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I'm a fan of the Fair Tax. Our family would come out waaay ahead if we only got taxed when we spent money!

Last weekend at the Milblogs Conference I nearly had conniption fits spending money. We simply don't do it around here. Popcorn and cokes at the movies? Forget about it. A taxi? Get real. A hotel with a flat screen TV? Gulp. I wonder if CaliValleyGirl noticed the pain on my face as I bought $6 beers. That buys a case of beer around here.

So what I did Thursday is mighty out-of-character for ol' Sarah. But I did it anyway. Money is just money, right? There are times when it should be saved and times when it should be spent. So I spent. I bought a plane ticket to Hawaii for the event of the year, my blog friend's wedding.

She's worth it.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:02 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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May 11, 2007

ANOTHER WEEKEND, ANOTHER COAST

I'm on my way to the airport, heading to SpouseBUZZ Live San Diego, which should prove extremely rewarding. And then I'll spend a few more days hanging out in L.A. with my CaliValleyGirl. Since it's my first time to California, I fully expect to get the grand tour of L.A., including must-see spots like Mr. Miyagi's house and CTU. And migrant workers standing on the corner. I've never seen that before.

Blogging will be...whatever I can get over the weekend. I am going to try to blog from CaliValleyGirl's house, despite the fact that it must have some sort of blogging force field or something. Why else would she leave us hanging for weeks on end, right?

More to come...

Posted by: Sarah at 12:01 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 10, 2007

STOKLEY

At the Milblogs Conference, a gentleman from Free Republic told the story of standing outside the White House Correspondents' Dinner with a posterboard showing Cindy Sheehan and SFC Paul Smith. Everyone could place Sheehan, but only one journalist knew who in the heck Paul Smith was.

We have different priorities in the milblog community. We know who Paul Smith is. We know who Jason Dunham is. And we all know who Robert Stokley is.

Several bloggers have written about meeting Mr. Stokley this weekend, and it seems most of the exchanges went like this:

AWTM: "I am so sorry for the loss of your Son."

And I stood in front of Mr. Stokley with tears in my eyes. And much to my amazement, he grabs my hand.

Robert Stokely: "I need to thank all of you bloggers for giving me my life back, I have to be strong for my family, I need to be the rock, and you folks have given me a place where I can talk about Mike, and I do not have to be that rock...."

And I stood there in tears in front of Mr. Stokely absolutely at a loss, and feeling ashamed of them.

AWTM: "I need to thank you, because Mike gave all, and your family has really sacrificed more than most of us will ever feel."

Robert Stokely, then wrapped his arms around me and gave me a huge hug.

Milbloggers all know who Robert and Mike Stokley are; I wish everyone knew.

I spoke on my panel this weekend about an article I saw in our local paper. It turns out that one soldier who's been killed in Iraq was a high school friend of a local reporter. So this soldier was front page news, complete with high school photos and a glowing report of his life. I told the audience that every soldier -- fallen or still with us -- deserves the same pedestal. I don't want the war to only hit home when a journalist loses a friend; they all are front page news. Everyone should names like Smith, Dunham and Stokley.

Please take a few minutes to listen to what Mr. Stokley had to say at the Milblogs Conference. It will take your breath away. And if you don't know much about Paul Smith or Jason Dunham, make sure you read about them too. If there's anything the milblog community can do and do well, it's educating the general public about Someone You Should Know. We want names like Smith, Dunham, and Stokley to replace names like Hilton, Spears, and Lohan. Pass the word.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:31 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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May 09, 2007

AMERICANIZING SHELLEY

After the conference Saturday night, CVG and I went to see Americanizing Shelley, a movie I had learned about through Andi's World. It was a cutesy little movie, at times a bit corny and formulaic, but I've never been one for romantic comedies anyway. Plus, this formula is no different than The Girl Next Door or Maid in Manhattan, and those are blockbusters, right? I did like a lot of the jokes because my husband and I have many Indian friends, so I felt like I was part of the in-group for the humor. It was just a nice little movie.

But apparently they had a heck of a time getting anyone to buy it. I bet you don't even need three guesses as to why:

One "well-known producer," Miss Gujral says, watched a short work-up of the movie and liked it — for the most part. There was that pro-American element: Must Shelley, the titular foreigner, lose her anti-American stance by movie's end? The producer, shaking his head, said, "Some people never learn."

Another producer, a female, reacted this way to the short film's dedication to "our troops who laid their lives on the line for our freedom": "We can't have that; that's ridiculous. In this climate" — Iraq was going south, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal had erupted — "I'm ashamed to be an American."

I had read this article before I saw the movie, and the entire time all that kept running through my brain is "This, THIS, is what they consider nutty American propaganda?" An Indian girl doesn't like Americans until she gets to the US and finds out we're not all that bad. Sheesh, I've lived that scenario more times than I can count with people from France, Switzerland, etc. I can't tell you how ridiculous it sounds when someone says, "All Americans are X, well, except you...and him...and all the students here in our group." So all Americans are greedy/rude/stupid, except for every single American you've ever met? Riiight. Americanizing Shelley captured that reality perfectly, and that's considering Red State Advertising?

The main character didn't end up hating the US, so the movie pitchers had to "pull a Mel Gibson" and start their own film company. Is every movie supposed to be flippin' Syriana these days? You can't say anything good about Americans without having to resort to selling your own movie?

Even if this movie sucked, I'd tell you to go see it because I want American Pride Films Group to make money. We should all want them to make money so we can at least take steps toward loosening the stranglehold liberalism has on Hollywood. But the movie didn't suck; it was just a decent romantic comedy. With one line about how Americans aren't really so bad. The rest of it is jokes at the expense of white and brown people and everyday ridiculous romantic comedy scenarios. I can't even believe this movie is supposed to stand out for being too kind to America.

I swear, Crocodile Dundee couldn't even get made today.

Posted by: Sarah at 06:27 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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I WEEP FOR THE FUTURE

Professor Forced Out for Citing George Washington:

A tenured college professor is set to be fired for simply sending out an e-mail to colleagues containing George Washington’s "Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789.”

Already professor Walter Kehowski at Glendale Community College in Arizona has been placed on forced administrative leave and the school’s chief has recommended his termination.

I can relate to this story. In the days after 9/11, I made the naive mistake of forwarding Gordon Sinclair's "The Americans" to my grad school email list. Yeah, not such a good idea on a college campus. While I didn't have a job to lose over it, I sure did bring the heat. One student went off-her-rocker mad, saying I was a racist and disrespectful for sending such garbage around. I was lucky that a couple of other students came to my defense. And, as I've written about before, my favorite professor took me aside and taught me a valuable lesson: "The last place it's OK to be American is in an American university."

What in the hell have we come to when quoting George Washington is now considered "'hostile' and 'derogatory'”?

Posted by: Sarah at 05:54 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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May 08, 2007

COOL

This was so awesome. AWTM pointed out that there's footage online from last year's Milblogs Conference. I loved watching this: Talking to Somebody Without Talking to Anybody

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ANGELS

When I arrived at the hotel on Friday, I had to wait because our room was in CaliValleyGirl's name and she wasn't in DC yet. I sat in the lobby and soon became surrounded by folks I learned were also there for the conference. Turns out they were all Soldiers' Angels.

Over the course of the weekend, I learned more about this organization than I'd known before. Sure, I'd participated in some healthy inter-service rivalry for Valour-IT, but I really didn't know a whole lot about the people involved. Holy cow, are these people amazing.

I have one soldier to take care of; these people take care of all of the rest of them. The extent of their service to others is just staggering. I have to take care of my husband, but these people take care of hundreds of troops they've never met. Unreal.

I was so excited to see a Soldiers' Angels pin in my goody bag for the weekend. And today I went and signed up to be on the Cards Plus Team. Writing cards, now that seems like something I'd be pretty good at (see previous post)!

Also, I was terribly excited to hear that Soldiers' Angels and Sew Much Comfort will soon be available on the Combined Federal Campaign list. I can't wait to make donating to these guys a monthly no-brainer.

A lot of you might be like I was: naturally I had heard of Soldiers' Angels and knew they were doing great work, but until I saw them in action, heard Chuck Z talk about how they changed his life, and shook hands with these selfless folks, I didn't fully grok what they do. Maybe I can transfer some of my enlightenment to you. Please, please at least hit 'em up with five bucks. They truly deserve it.

Posted by: Sarah at 08:24 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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THANK YOU

I had a moment yesterday where I was confronted with the fact that I am indeed a crazy person. Some of you know how obsessed I am with thank you cards, but to me it seems like completely normal behavior to thank a person who's done something nice for you. And I promise you I didn't think anything of it until my husband cracked up at me for walking towards the mailbox with a thank you card for President Bush. He was nice enough to send us a DVD speech, so he deserves a thank you, right? That doesn't seem normal to you? The look on my husband's face was priceless.

I swear I never even stopped to think about whether I should send him a card or not. The only hard decision was choosing which stationery seemed the most...presidential. Yep, I'm nuts.

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May 07, 2007

PREPARED

I wasn't exactly sure what we should expect as panel speakers, so in typical plan-ahead fashion, I wrote up something to say in case I needed to explain why family blogging is important. I didn't give this speech per se, but I did manage to work most of these points into my time on the panel. I thought I'd share my planned speech with you in case you're interested.

Hi, my name is Sarah and I write at trying to grok. I have a hate site dedicated to me, a guy who pokes fun at me for being the #1 War Cheerleader. At first I was not so pleased about this site, but eventually I realized that my role here is indeed war cheerleader, so I may as well be #1, right?

I think in some ways a being a war cheerleader is harder than being a soldier. The military wife faces her husband’s mortality on a daily basis. I came to terms with the thought of my own death long ago, and it’s far easier to face than the death of my husband. I’d rather go to war myself than send my husband, even though I can’t run 2 miles in under 6 days and about the most discomfort I can handle is banging my funny bone.

A few weeks ago, a buddy of mine from high school returned from a Special Forces deployment. Once he was safely home, I breathed a sigh of relief and mentioned to my husband that every time I emailed my buddy in the final days of his deployment to make plans for dinner when he returned, I felt a tinge of dread, that feeling of “what if he doesn’t come home to eat this chicken parmesan”, as if the mere act of making plans for his return would invoke The Power of the Jinx, as milblogger Tim elegantly described when CPT Patti was in Baghdad. My husband looked at me incredulously and said, “Did you really worry he might not come home?” as if the thought had never occurred to him.

I pointed out to my husband something that every servicemember needs to remember when he thinks of his family back home. We’ve never been to Iraq or Afghanistan. We don’t know what it’s like. We imagine the worst, and our mental war zone would probably seem cartoonish to you. But we simply can’t fully grasp what war is like. And while you know when you’re safe or bored or having a slow day, we don’t. Many times you can see danger coming if you have to go on a mission and you can emotionally prepare yourself to let slip the dogs of war; we have to stay emotionally prepared for the entire deployment, never sure of when your mortality is on the line. Your deployment is filled with the ebb and flow of adrenaline; your life is monotonous days punctuated by moments of anxiety or excitement; our adrenaline is always half-on, since every moment that we’re not on the phone with you is a moment when you’re possibly in danger. Such is the life for those on the homefront, those who stand and wait. Such is the life my husband can’t begin to understand, any more than I can really understand his.

So I’ve decided I’m taking the insult back. I wear the title of #1 War Cheerleader with pride, for it’s one of the toughest jobs in the Army.

Posted by: Sarah at 06:00 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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SWEET!

I am so excited about Sarkozy's win in France yesterday. I loved this roundup of photos and ideas at Publius Pundit. But despite the surge of energy I felt yesterday, PowerLine left me feeling nervous today:

The U.S. has now seen the leadership of both France and Germany pass to figures who believe, as a general matter, that American power is a force for good in the world, and not something that needs persistently to be constrained. Let's hope that in 2009 the U.S. still has a leader who concurs.

Oh yeah, crap. Please let us weather 2008.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:20 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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