July 27, 2007

HOLD DOWN THE SPHERE TIL I GET BACK

We are leaving Army Early tomorrow morning for our trip westward. My husband's parents don't have a computer, so I will be completely out of the loop for a week. If you see something really good online that I shouldn't miss, leave me the link in the comments so I can catch up next weekend.

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LOOKS LIKE I'LL BE STAYING HOME FOR A WHILE

If you were wondering what kind of anti-war movies are store for us, wonder no longer. There are plenty to choose from! You could see such gems as

“In the Valley of Elah,” a drama inspired by the Davis murder, written and directed by Paul Haggis, whose “Crash” won the Academy Award for best picture in 2006. The film stars Tommy Lee Jones as a retired veteran who defies Army bureaucrats and local officials in a search for his son’s killers. In one of the movie’s defining images, the American flag is flown upside down in the heartland, the signal of extreme distress.

Other coming films also use the damaged Iraq veteran to raise questions about a continuing war. In “Grace Is Gone,” directed by James C. Strouse and due in October from the Weinstein Company, John Cusack and two daughters struggle with the loss of a wife and mother who is killed on duty. Kimberly Peirce’s “Stop-Loss,” set for release in March by Paramount, meanwhile, casts Ryan Phillippe as a veteran who defies an order that would send him back to Iraq.

Or how about

Brian De Palma’s “Redacted,” focusing on an Army squad that persecutes an Iraqi family, is to be released in December by Magnolia Pictures.

Oh boy, I just can't wait. You remember how much I loved Crash, right? This should be even better.

Excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little.

(via RWN)

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July 26, 2007

PLEASE PREPARE FOR FUNNY ENGLISH

I just bought a new wireless mouse this morning because ours crapped out yesterday. I love the translations in these instructions, such as "Automatically sleeping and manpower taking off dual functions, the battery life be prolonged" and "The Steps of Install Battery: 1. Please prepare for two AAA chargeable batteries." Whew, I really had to prepare myself for those batteries. And I'm so glad to know that "there is no interference even many mice being used at the same time." But wait, uh oh, "You would better use the mouse on the white desk. In this way the batteries can be used for a long time." Curse my tan desk! Heh.

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July 25, 2007

HEH

You wanna know the key to a happy marriage? When the only disagreement you've had in weeks is whether Kurt Russell's greatest role was Jack Burton or Captain Ron.

Oh yes, we went there. And we both meant it.

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WHEW

I blogged over at SpouseBUZZ about how we suddenly got our leave yanked away from us. I spent the past two weeks on pins and needles, waiting to hear if we really would get to make this trek back to the Midwest. And in the end, it was those danged baseball tickets that saved our hide. The unit decided that since we'd made a financial obligation, we could go on leave. Thanks a heap, especially since the husband has a week of use-or-lose vacation that would've been lost if we couldn't go.

My husband should be eternally grateful that my knitting excursion is the only reason he gets a two-week break. I deserve to buy more yarn.

So I guess I'd better pack a suitcase or something. We leave in three days on a 17-hour car ride.

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NEARLY THREE YEARS

You know, I talk a good talk about our family's role in the GWOT, but I know we haven't even begun to sacrifice. My husband's been gone once, over two years ago. I had no one to worry about but myself, and I lived on the most supportive post in the military. My husband is almost certainly guaranteed to get a piece of the action in his new unit, but for a long time now I really have been a chairborne war cheerleader.

I'm a few days late in noticing this news, but Butterfly Wife's husband has volunteered to stay for another rotation in Iraq. Without coming home in between. I don't even know how his sanity can handle that, but I guess his pseudonym isn't Jack Bauer for nothin'.

Many days I feel like the country has gone completely bonkers, but then I remember that there really are people of such high caliber around me. What can we even say to this butterfly family except thank you...and you rule.

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July 24, 2007

COMBAT REACTION

This from Jules Crittenden struck me:

I realized with all this examination of post-traumatic stress and how much of it there is, and whether its normal or not, I didn’t describe what a mild, walking combat reaction case is like.

It’s like this. Being totally wired for months upon years. Like crank, so that you don’t fall asleep as much as pass out and you don’t wake up as much as become alert. Thinking about different aspects of combat the way some people think about sex, compulsively, repeatedly in the course of the day, while going about your business, holding down a job, acting relatively normal but still freaking people out when you talk about it. Small flashbacks-lite, triggered by various events. In my case, accelerating up the highway, like going on an armored assault, with all the emotions, thoughts and memories, on my way to the various places that took me. More adrenaline then, and other adrenaline bursts at odd times. Thinking about the dead, at least once a day, in a number of different ways, when alone. Seeing their faces, and studying a face to catch the moment when life exited it. Choking up or sometimes sobbing at both expected and unexpected times, and learning to control that. Wishing you were back there. Preferring the company of people who know what that is like. Recognizing in a glance or a word that you both know the same secret, without having to say much about it.

I never had nightmares like some friends did, and in fact have never once dreamt of it. It didn’t haunt me, not even the dead, not even when I felt the need to ask some of them their forgiveness. I was fortunate that way, in part maybe because I wrote about it, had plenty of opportunities to talk about it, because that is part of what I do. Over the third and fourth year, most of it significantly subsided, though parts can and do periodically come up. I never felt traumatized as much as I felt I had a great deal to think about, not least the startling discovery that I had enjoyed myself, and also that I had been fundamentally rewired, and had somewhat different perspectives and focus in various matters. As one friend put it, there was life before, and life after. Not good or bad, just different.

And there you have it.

This sounds familiar to me. Especially the "thinking about combat" thing. Sometimes when my husband's quiet, I'll ask what he's thinking about. Usually it will be trivial, but on a couple of occasions he's launched into a thought about how if they'd only turned his tank right instead of going straight on that day back in April, he'd've been more useful to the battle. Three years after the event, he still replays it in his mind and thinks of ways he could've done more.

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July 23, 2007

SEASONAL KNITTING

I have been crankin' out preemie caps for my Fairy Godmothers group for the past two weeks. They are so fun to make because they're quick and you can play with different colors. I think I might freak some of the ladies out with my hot pink and lime green, but I think some hip young wife will like it.

preemiecaps.JPG

I also have to do job-related knitting: Michaels is redesigning the front of the store and so we have to have season-themed projects on display. I copied The Girl's first baby project and made the baby pumpkin hat.

pumpkincap.JPG

I also started knitting this spider last night, but I hate him. He looks more like a fly than a spider. I am going to finish him and then maybe try to make this variation of the spider pattern and see if it turns out any better. But I have to turn my seasonal knitting in by the end of the week, so I may get desperate and have to turn in the fly spider after all.

UPDATE:

OK, he doesn't look so bad now that he has legs...

spider.JPG

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THE KEY TO MARRIAGE

Last night I asked my husband what the "key to marriage" was. He guessed people's first two responses but didn't guess that dishwashing was so important. We tried to put into words what we'd answer if someone asked us this question. The most concise wording I could come up with was "Treating your spouse better than you yourself would like to be treated." My husband summarized that as Respect, which is a pretty good answer.

We talked about the #1 answer too and why "fidelity" ranks so high. My husband joked that looking for Fidelity in a mate is like looking for Not Being a Child Molester in a babysitter: it should just be a given. Fidelity isn't the key to a good marriage; if you have a good marriage, you don't even have to think about fidelity. Never once in the entire seven years have I ever thought about my husband cheating on me.

This tied in nicely with this week's Army Wives, where the episode was cheating cheating cheating. One spouse did and one spouse resisted. Last week a SpouseBUZZ commenter said that in her circle of military couples, 9 out of 10 of them have had infidelity issues. I say she needs to find some new friends! My husband and I struggled to come up with instances of cheating we heard of at all during his deployment, from anyone we could think of on post. We barely came up with five, and one of them was from a gross "swinger" couple, so that hardly even counts. I know it happens, but 9 out of 10? Ouch.

So what would you say is really the "key to marriage"? And would fidelity poll that high for you?

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WOAH

A fascinating story via Amritas
Terrorist Hunter: By day, Shannen Rossmiller is a Montana mother of three. At night, she takes down America’s enemies. It’s a compulsion even she can’t explain.

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July 22, 2007

SOME THINGS JUST AREN'T THAT IMPORTANT

I do all of the dishes all of the time. I can't think of the last time my husband washed dishes. He doesn't even do them when I'm out of town; he just leaves a lovely little pile. Regardless, we have one of the best marriages I know of. How could that possibly be? /eye rolling

And don't even get me started on "great sex." I can't believe it polls that high. If that's the most important thing that's keeping your marriage together, I feel sorry for you.

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July 21, 2007

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US?

Should people with no kids pay more taxes to cover the slack for those who can't afford their own kids? Good thing I'm not the only one who was horrified at the suggestion: this comments section was reassuring.

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GOOD KIDS

A friend of mine from high school was stationed here, and the husband and I went to his going-away picnic before he deployed. His parents were there, and his father paraded me around the unit, telling anyone who would listen about what an upstanding young lady I am. He insisted on telling everyone about what good kids we were in high school and how we never got in trouble and never were involved in any "hanky panky." I'm sure by the end of the night the entire unit was laughing about what dorks we were. But his dad was right; we really were good wholesome kids.

AWTM writes about her first love...and how it ended. I used to think I had a standard adolescence, but the more people I talk to, the more I realize that maybe I didn't. My early boyfriends were perfect. And no one ever asked me to have sex until I got to college. How quant: I never experienced pressure to have sex until I was 20 years old. I never thought much about it growing up, but now I look back and realize what lovely people I associated with as a teen.

My friend's father was right to be proud of us. We were good kids.

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July 20, 2007

I HEART WALMART

I have a pro-Walmart story I thought I'd share since all we usually hear is bad stuff about them.

A few weeks ago I noticed my car was leaking oil. I had gotten my last oil change done at Walmart, but it had almost been three months since, so I didn't think that was the source of the problem. I took the car in to the dealership, and they deduced that Walmart had destroyed the oil filter housing. It cost us $80 to sort it all out.

We went to Walmart and explained what had happened, and they asked us why we hadn't brought the car back to them when we noticed the oil leak. We explained that the car was new and still under warranty, and that we hadn't put 2-and-2 together because the oil change had been done so long ago. But they took care of it anyway and gave us the full amount we'd paid at the dealership. In cash, without filing any forms or waiting for a check to show up.

This is the second time a Walmart manager has handed me cash. The first time was a few years ago when an incompetent employee sold me the wrong fishing license and got me saddled with a $100 conservation fine. (I still can't believe the conservation officers didn't let me off with a warning. I had to go to court and argue my case to the judge; I made for a funny sight, sitting there in a little plaid dress next to a bunch of men in orange jumpsuits.) Anyway, Walmart listened to my sob story about how their guy never asked me what state I was from when he sold me the license, then and split the difference for the blame and handed me half of the money.

Walmart sure keeps me happy with their handing-out-cash policy.

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LINKS

Two teasers to make you think and hopefully get you to read the blog posts to which they belong.

First: Thereby Hangs a Tale's Does America Support our Military Strategy? (via Achilles)

We have an angry voting public. About 71% are mad at the war and the President. But just what are they angry about? I’ve researched the polls and no poll that I can find goes beyond a simplistic, “Are you for or agin the war?” Are those polled just angry at a bullheaded (or principled, depending on your view) President? Are they frustrated by continued fighting in a war that may already be lost?

Second: Neptunus Lex's Us and Them Part I

It’s also popular to say that the people are “war weary,” but - apart from the very small percentage of those who are actually deployed, or their families - what do they have to be weary of? We live lives of ease, prosperity and entitlement our own parents could not have imagined, we shop at the mall, are very nearly fully employed, the economy is on solid footing, the stock market is through the roof and yet we go to the watercoolers with worried looks and tell ourselves that the country is very much on the wrong track, tut-tut.

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EDUCATION

I really go back and forth on what I think "education" should be. Sometimes I think it should lean more towards teaching people a trade. Other times, like when I read The Closing of the American Mind, I think it should lean more towards teaching people to think. Unfortunately I think it leans towards neither right now: we seem to produce grads who can neither balance a checkbook nor recognize a syllogism. I don't know what the answer is.

But I sure know it's not this:

British secondary schools will drop Winston Churchill from a list of figures to be mentioned in history teaching. Also dropped: Hitler, Gandhi, Stalin and Martin Luther King. The schools will now be emphasizing "lessons on debt management, the environment and healthy eating."

The article's accompanying graph is chock full of frightening tidbits like "Less on electricity and magnetism, more on IVF, stem cells, vivisection and nuclear energy." Look, I hated figuring out resistance of circuits as much as the next person, but you have to work on hard things in school. It's not all debates on stem cell research. That's what your blog is for.

UPDATE:

The more I think about this, the stupider I think it is. It's like they're replacing tried-and-true schooling with whatever's in vogue. Science knows a heck of a lot more how electricity and magnetism work than how stem cells do. How are they going to pin down what to teach about stem cells when we're not positive how they work? The same goes for teaching how to make "healthy meals"; aren't we always hearing new studies that something that was once good/bad for us is now the opposite? Butter, margarine, eggs, chocolate, wine, how many times have we scratched our heads over new evidence on what we should eat?

Why are they abandoning the basics of education for stuff that's so subjective?

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July 19, 2007

HEH

Guard Wife gives it to Ted Rall with both barrels. She uses phrases like "Left-wing cuckoobird who draws junior-high level cartoons for a living" and hands him his hat. Nicely done.

And this comments section at Standing By is fascinating. Go be a fly on the wall.

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July 18, 2007

THEY WARMED OUR GLOBE!

Who knew that I was accidentally saving the planet? I wanted to have one baby and have instead had zero. Hooray for me! Via Steyn:

So how far are the ecochondriacs prepared to take things? In London last week, the Optimum Population Trust called for Britons to have "one child less" because the United Kingdom's "high birth rate is a major factor in the current level of climate change, which can only be combated if families voluntarily limit the number of children they have."

Thank heavens Steyn goes on to point out that the birthrate is not even at replacement rate in the UK, but whatever. Less babies means less global warming. Actually, it probably just means less environmentalists, because the only nimrods who will consider this are the hardcore greens.

I know, let's just all get in a big gay pile, à la South Park, and prevent the future from ever happening! Then there won't be global warming for sure! Derp!

And I love the word "ecochondriacs."

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July 17, 2007

PIECE OF CRAP LIST

I got tagged by Anwyn to do 8 facts about me. I already did 13 of them a while back, and 100 when I started blogging, so I'm gonna twist this meme into something I've been wanting to do for a while: a Piece of Crap list. I first saw this on Right Wing News, and now whenever something is driving me nuts, my first thought is that it would definitely go on my Piece of Crap list. So 8 things that I hate:

1) Krispy Kreme donuts
They have too much glaze for me, but mostly I just hate how people keel over with ecstasy whenever you mention them. I love donuts more than the next person, but I hate name-brand donut worship.

2) Dave Matthews Band
There's no real good reason why, but I don't like any of their songs except for "Satellite." I think their music is grating, and they were so ridiculously popular when I was in college that it made me hate them even more.

3) Jay Wolfe Nissan of Kansas City
When we bought our first car, we decided to buy an extended warranty. We specifically told the dealership that we were moving to Germany soon and that we'd never live in Kansas City in our lives. Naturally, we came to find out that they sold us a warranty that was specific to their dealership and that has a $150 deductible at any other Nissan dealer. Oh, and it didn't work at all in Germany, even though they told us it would. So it was a huge waste of money, and I'm extra mad because it's not like we moved unexpectedly and just had bad luck: we told them all of this up front and they intentionally sold us something that wouldn't work for us. Piece of crap dealership.

4) dolphins
Everyone thinks dolphins are these beautiful, peaceful creatures, but they're not. Just because they have a cute face and look like they're smiling doesn't mean they're nice. Dolphins rape their females and kill their babies. Not so cute after all. I've seen enough Discovery Channel to completely get over any ideas that dolphins are magical.

5) baja sauce
As you well know, I'm an enormous Taco Bell fan, but one thing I can't stand is this sauce they put on certain items. I call it baja sauce because the first time I encountered it was on a baja chalupa, but there is no official name for it -- with which I could ask they leave it off of my order -- and they sneak it on to many new items. I can handle most foods, but this sauce turns my stomach and ruins anything it touches. Thus it's hard to try new things at The Bell; every new item could contain the dreaded sauce. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me sick.

6) glow-in-the-dark
Perhaps it is because my brother used to think it was funny to lock me in the bathroom while we were playing with glow-in-the-dark legos, but something caused me to be extremely disturbed by anything that glows in the dark. Whenever I would get glowing keyrings or toys as a kid, I'd always have to make sure they were completely covered up before bedtime. And don't even get me started on those stupid stickers people put on their ceilings. To this day, I can't sleep if something is phosphorescing in the bedroom. Creeps me out.

7) France
This one barely needs any explanation, but I'll give the short version. I lived there for a year. I was constantly mocked, had trash thrown at me, got cussed out, threatened with rape, grabbed on the street, and chased by a guy on a moped so I had to crawl under a car to hide and escape from him. I don't really feel like returning to France anytime soon.

Harry Potter
This one might ruffle some feathers, but I just don't get the Harry Potter craze. They're kids' books. I'm glad kids are enjoying reading in this video game age, but I don't get all the hype the adults have built up. When I homeschooled a boy five years ago, he read a few chapters of one of the books out loud to me. It's a book for children and it reads like a book for children; I don't understand why adults are going bananas for them. I understand if you want to read the book so you can discuss it with your kids, but really getting into it and fighting over who gets to read it first? My parents never flipped out and bought three copies of Ramona Quimby. Because it was a kids' book and they didn't care. I just don't get why adults are reading Harry Potter; don't they have grown-up books to read?

Anybody else want to do a Piece of Crap List? If so, consider yourself invited. Or add one piece of crap in the comments.

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July 16, 2007

NUTJOBS ON A BOAT? SIGN ME UP

My husband and I found out we're not "cruise people" when he got back from Iraq. We hated it, and we don't really plan to do it again. But there's something so darned alluring about those right-wing nutjob cruises, you know, the ones with D'Souza and Steyn and Davis freaking Hanson. Now that I might like to do someday.

So I had a good chuckle at Venomous Kate's fisking of a reporter who "infiltrated" the nutjob cruise. I felt this reporter's pain on our cruise, where our dinner partners were much more interested in discussing the evils of our tablemate's pharmaceutical job than the evils my husband had just fought in Iraq. Poor thing didn't fit in, but at least her shipmates were nice to her; ours just accused us of lying.

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