March 30, 2008
I can't get past the absurdity of the claim that all humans disappeared from the face of the earth in the blink of an eye, leaving their cars and microwaves running, but no animals were touched. I can't think of any scenario that would make that happen, so some of the animal scenes seemed pretty dumb. Though I did thoroughly enjoy watching a skunk eat Frankenberry cereal.
I did enjoy watching the physics of crumbling buildings. But overall I spent most of the time rolling my eyes at how evil and awful human beings have been for the poor earth. Yep, we ruined everything.
IÂ’d love to read an interview with Gaia in which she says that her goal all along was to come up with a species that could produce Beethoven and make rockets to send the music deep into space.
Now there's something to mull over...
March 29, 2008
The wikipedia entry contains this sentence:
While the Indianapolis sent distress calls before sinking, the Navy long claimed that they were never received because the ship was operating under a policy of radio silence; declassified records show that three SOS messages were received separately, but none were acted upon because one commander was drunk, another had ordered his men not to disturb him and a third thought it was a Japanese prank.
Imagine if this happened today. I have never heard of this WWII disaster at all -- and perhaps that's just my ignorance -- but it would be a major scandal if anything remotely like this happened today. People like to blame Bush and Rumsfeld for everything under the sun, but it's not like mistakes haven't been made in previous wars.
And a commander getting too drunk to answer an SOS and letting 500 men die floating in the water, well, the word "mistake" doesn't even begin to describe it.
(And shows like this, this is why I usually watch reruns of cop dramas. At least they're fiction. This just makes my heart shudder. It's excruciating. I will probably fret about this story for the rest of the day.)
He also thinks the Tibetan people could learn from the Tibetan terriers, such as how to hide.
But I've discovered a funny side-effect of all this TV: I am starting to dream about TV characters as if they're people in my life, or as if I'm in an episode of their show. About a week ago, I dreamt about Calleigh Duquesne and Eric Delko. I just thought it was funny when I woke up. But two days later, I was solving a murder with Goren and Eames. The next night, I hung out with Wash from Firefly, and then last night I was a high schooler sitting next to Sam Weir. It's starting to creep me out.
I am turning into Mike TV.
March 28, 2008
Also, my husband said that he has some reading to do before he deploys. I said that it was fine, that we could sit together and read quietly. But he said that my idea wouldn't work because the reading he has to do is classified documents that he cannot take home from work. I replied that there were ways around this, you know. Just stuff the papers in your pants and socks. If it's good enough for Sandy Berger, it's good enough for us, right?
As far as entitlement... I'm always at a loss here. I have been in situations when I desperately needed a hand up. I have friends who have needed that as well. All of us have used what little we could get by with and managed to get back up on our feet. That's the way "the system" should work.
However, I also know people who have lived in public housing for SIXTY years. Without ever trying to leave. People like that ruin things for everyone else who just need a boost.
I totally agree with this. This is what Bill Whittle meant when he said, "we no longer have a safety net; we have created a safety hammock." I agree that there are times when people need help, and there should be someone they can turn to in a pinch. But I fear there just aren't that many "The Pursuit of Happyness" people out there. I think once you get used to getting something for free, it's hard to let it go. Or once you get used to the government taking care of things, why do it yourself?
I have had a battle raging in my head like this for months now, over something so trivial but completely representative of my beliefs. And it's become a value struggle for me. It's over prenatal vitamins. In the military, we get all prescriptions for free, including prenatal vitamins. But only after you get pregnant, not just while you're trying. I've been buying bottle after bottle of these vitamins for over a year now, and every time I buy them, I get a little mad that I have to shell out the eight bucks myself when I think the Army should just let me have them. For the past six years, I haven't asked for hardly anything from Tricare, so I feel entitled to those damned vitamins, especially since they'd give them to me for free if my body would just cooperate and get pregnant. And when I did get pregnant, I got a bottle for free. When I miscarried, I wanted to go in before the pharmacy found out I'd lost the baby and grab more of the danged vitamins.
It's so stupid and trivial that it seems laughable to write about it. But I think about it all the time: why do I feel entitled to those silly vitamins? Why does it make me mad to pay for them? Simple: because in different circumstances, I would get them for free. It makes me feel like I should get them for free all the time.
How I hate to admit that I have had such a thought.
It's really playing mindgames on me. I don't like the realization that I think the government owes me prenatal vitamins. I don't like the fact that I want to get them for free. I am considering punishing myself for my bad behavior by forcing myself to buy them if I get pregnant instead of taking any of them for free; that's how ashamed I am at my entitlement mentality. And I think I have a pretty hefty libertarian streak in me; I can only imagine what other people think the government owes them.
OK, so let's expand out to something less trivial than vitamins. My husband went in the field this past week. He needed certain gear from CIF, but they didn't have everything he needed. So he was in a bind: he had to have it for the field, but he couldn't get it from the Army at that moment. So he had to buy his own gear, stuff he could've gotten for free if the supply sergeant hadn't been on leave when my husband inprocessed. Stuff like a pistol holster, magazine pouches, etc. It was infuriating to spend all that money on stuff he's entitled to. But it made me think about Kim du Toit's Walter-Adam Fund. His readers raised money to buy things that the Army was theoretically supposed to provide for soldiers, like scopes or rangefinders. But the du Toits insisted that soldiers who fought in our Revolutionary War fought with the guns they owned and shirts on their backs. That our nation was founded on people providing for themselves instead of waiting for the government to hand them what they need. And, the du Toits continued, that if some were willing to go fight, we should be willing to back them financially, and not just through our taxes. That we have a duty to go above and beyond what the government does for our troops.
Kim du Toit rephrased this very old and lost-in-cyberspace post when he wrote about renewing the Walter-Adam Fund.
I know, I know: the Army should be getting them this stuff, not private individuals. ThatÂ’s the ideal. But anyone whoÂ’s ever been exposed to the .mil knows that this doesnÂ’t always happenÂ—and in fact it canÂ’t always happen. ThatÂ’s where we step in. ItÂ’s not the governmentÂ’s ArmyÂ—itÂ’s our Army. The Army is supposed to feed and support these kids at all times, and they do a pretty good job of it. Yet, if they were fighting on our soil, and during a lull in the fighting a soldier came to your door and asked for some food and drink, would you turn him away with the words: Â“The Army is supposed to give you food and drinkÂ”? Of course you wouldnÂ’t. YouÂ’d empty out your pantry, or take food off your own plate if you had to.
In keeping with the NoRÂ’s motto of Â“One Citizen At A TimeÂ”, therefore, these funds are run on pretty much the Â“One Soldier At A TimeÂ” philosophy too. I canÂ’t get a regiment new tanks or Bradleys, but I can help improve the lives of a few soldiers, actual breathing individuals to whom I can write and speak, and then share that with all of you.
And if we can get them gear rather than just care packages, stuff which will help them kill enemy bastards, then so much the better. We are the Nation of Riflemen, after all, not the Red Cross.
This has stuck with me for the years, years, since I donated to the original Walter-Adam Fund. The du Toits believe so much in having the government stay out of our affairs that they're willing to put their money where their mouth is and spend their own money -- after they've already provided for our nation's defense via taxes -- to provide gear for the soldiers at war. I am humbled to write on the same internet as such people.
And it's a swift kick in the rear when I think that I've gotten hung up on vitamins.
The thing is, I don't like the feeling that I am entitled to anything, be it vitamins or a pistol holster. In the end, I am responsible for the baby I may have, and my husband is responsible for his own safety. If we waited for the government to do these things for us, they might not get done, even if it's the government's job to do it. They're supposed to give my husband the gear he needs. Well, what if they can't? Ultimately, we need to step up to the plate and assume the cost.
I'm rambling worse than Sis B thought she was. In the end, what I am trying to say is this: If something needs to get done, I need to do it. If my baby didn't get enough folic acid and then had problems, how could I possibly have the nerve to blame the government for not letting me have free vitamins. If my husband doesn't have enough rounds to be safe because he doesn't have magazine pouches on his body armor, we can't blame the supply sergeant for that. It's our lives and we're in control.
So what happens when we move to a society where everyone is getting more and more things for free? What happens when every woman gets free prenatal vitamins? I am certain that most of them won't have the same moral dilemma I have with receiving them. And what happens when the government says that everyone is entitled to affordable college or health care or social security? And then they run out of social security like they ran out of pistol holsters? Few people are gonna suck it up and go out and buy their own like we did. There's only so much social security money to go around, and what happens when people start screaming to get theirs?
Entitlement isn't just about welfare or government housing. It's about expecting the government to do anything for you, including things they're supposed to do (like pistol holsters). The only person you should count on is yourself. Buy your own vitamins, get your own magazine pouches, and plan for your own college or retirement.
If more people lived as if there were no safety net, we sure wouldn't have this safety hammock.
Mmmm. Selfish knitting.
March 27, 2008
I'll be fair here; it's not just Hillary. John McCain's speech the other day made me want to puke, what with his global warming and closing Gitmo. I don't like listening to politicians in general. I hate how politicians promise everything to everyone. If I'm elected, I'm going to do this and this and this. No details, no actual plans that can be analyzed for efficacy, just feel-good drivel. Ick. I want my politicians to be like my husband or my dad, putting out the vibe that life is hard and you have to make tough choices sometimes. You can't always get everything for free, and government isn't here to grant your every wish. I want Rachel Lucas' news network called "Tough Shit, America."
Instead, politicians promise the moon. Hillary said she's going to create more jobs, make college more affordable, give everyone health care, fix social security without privatizing it, and a host of other stuff. And all of this is supposed to happen without raising taxes on the middle class. Well, the poor don't pay squat, so guess who's footing the bill: people who actually do create jobs.
I don't want politicians doing most of this stuff. Make college more affordable? College should be a privilege, not a right, and newsflash: not everyone should go. Moreover, you don't have the right to borrow money at 2% interest so you can better yourself. Get real. I've been reading Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, and he advocated no government funding of higher education at all. No state-run universities, nothing. That's hardcore. But education is not the role of the federal government.
And creating more jobs, what an empty promise. She said that the backbone of any economy is "making things" and that we need to stop losing our manufacturing jobs. Why? John Stossel says
Manufacturing jobs are no better for America than other jobs. Some argue that they are worse. How many parents want their children to work in factories rather than offices? Increasing service jobs in medical, financial and computer sectors while importing manufactured goods doesn't hurt America. It helps America.
I think it was Neal Boortz who said a while back that manufacturing jobs are beneath Americans. That thought raised my eyebrows, but I see what he means. Why would we want to increase the sector of the economy with the lowest skilled jobs? Let's work with our brains, not with our fingers.
And during the question period, someone asked Hillary what she'll do to fight racism. Tom tapdancing Cruise. I don't want my president to do anything to fight racism, save not being racist himself. Otherwise, the federal government has no business meddling in race relations. Blech.
Hillary also told a sob story about why we need health care for everyone. Some girl in Ohio got pregnant and couldn't afford the $100 fee to see a doctor. In the end, she had to get taken to the emergency room and she and the baby died. Sad, terrible story. But here's the bitch in me: if you don't have $100, why on earth are you having a baby? Don't get yourself knocked up if you can't afford to protect the baby's health or your own. I don't want the Face Of Health Care Woes to be that rich SCHIP family, but I don't want it to be pregnant unwed girls either. I don't want to foot the bill so some other pregnant girl doesn't have to pay to go to the doctor, when we saved every spare dime we've made for the past six years so we'd be ready for our own baby.
The speech closed with a question on what Hillary planned to do to prevent heart disease. She actually said the phrase, "We're gonna have to do more to change people's behavior." Gulp. That's not the government's job either.
Bleh, government makes me ill.
March 26, 2008
(Incidentally, what is up with that? We get dogs roaming our neighborhood all the time, and none of them ever have a tag with their address or phone number on it. What is wrong with people?)
He did have a tag noting that he was chipped, with a 1-800 number. I took him home -- he followed quite willingly -- and called the people. They tracked him down and called the owners; no answer. They left a message saying I had their dog and to call me. I left this dog in our backyard while I went to dinner.
I should've remembered Mare's warning. He was a beautiful husky mix, just so handsome. He also apparently had the husky's digging fetish. I got home from dinner and he was gone, leaving me with a major hole under the fence. Now I know how he disappeared from his owner's house.
I hope he's OK and found his way home.
I'm kind of sad; Charlie wanted to keep him.
Now, all I really needed to know about this candidate is that Lorie Byrd is working for him. That's pretty much a good enough endorsement for me, and I probably would've voted for him just based on that knowledge. But I really like Fred Smith's stuff, and I hope he makes it all the way to the top. Most of my friends are internet-based, but if any of you reading this live and vote in the same state as I do, please consider reading about Fred Smith and voting for him in May.
So I got all pumped up on patriotism again last night, my drug of choice. Of course Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless the USA" again, which brings the house down. And I can't get enough of the song he wrote for Fred Smith's campaign:
But honestly, the thing that touched me the most last night was something so small, so unnoticed. The stage in the auditorium had two flags on it, the US flag and the state flag. And before the rally got started, I noticed some men from Fred Smith's staff fussing around the US flag. They left and came back with a cinder block and lifted the flag stand up onto the block. A lady sitting behind me asked her husband why they were bothering with that silly brick.
The American flag was bigger than the state flag and was too big for its stand. It was dragging on the ground, and these men had set to work getting that flag off the floor.
My heart grew three sizes.
That's a heck of a campaign staff. No Che flags in this bunch.
March 25, 2008
For now, Kuntz agrees with Bochco: "We're bombarded by information about [Iraq] 24 hours a day," he says. "We already know plenty about it. We don't need to learn more about it from the movies. Right now, it's something people want to forget and escape from. I speak for the American public when I say, 'What a bummer.' "
I speak for my blog when I say, "What a jackass."
They go through this huge list of anti-war movies and wonder why the public isn't interested. Hmmm, let me take a stab at it: Make a movie like 300, and people will flock to the theater. Make the soldiers the freaking good guys, and you've got yourself a hit; make them rapists or dupes or Tools of the Bushitler Oil Junta, and no one wants to see your damn movie.
Maybe dumb people think the Iraq war is a "bummer" because all your movies present it that way.
You know, Neil tried to shop his blog Armor Geddon around as a book. No one wanted to buy it. They told him it needed more inner-angst. He needed to be more conflicted about his role in the war. He needed to not rejoice when they blew up a house full of terrorists. Eventually he gave up, because they weren't buying what he was selling: a book about a soldier who was proud of his platoon and proud to support the mission.
But I bet people would've bought his book. Regular, average, everyday Americans want patriotism, heroes, and victory. They don't want inner-angst and movies about soldiers who got stop-lossed and don't really want to be there.
Sheesh, any waitress or truck driver could figure this out. But apparently journalists from The Washington Post think it's a mystery.
Stop talking about not having a baby.
No one wants to hear it. No one cares. I mean, they do care, but they don't need to hear about it every day.
Just talk about something else. What's Obama doing? Talk about that guy who died and came back to life. Something, anything else.
But all I can do is sit here and think about how it wasn't supposed to be like this. Having a baby was supposed to be happy, fun, natural. I never envisioned this for myself.
Oh lord, I'm Dante Hicks.
Just, bleh. Talk about something else. Don't write about this anymore. The more you write about it, the more people comment and send you emails, which means the more you think about it, which means the more depressed you get.
Duh. Stop it.
So for those people who cannot/have not/may never conceive - isn't there a point at which you just have to surrender to it and live your lives together even if it is childless?
I have thought a lot about this too over the past year.
Look, I am an obsessive type person. I think that if you're going to do something, you do it wholeheartedly. So when we weren't quite ready for children, we were actively preventing the possibility. Every single time, no exceptions, for many years. So when we decided it was time for a family, it just wasn't in our nature to take the whatever-happens-happens approach. I am an all-or-nothing gal; I immediately started maximizing chances for baby to happen. I read books, websites, sought tips, everything. I began charting immediately. It was the exact opposite of the diligence with which we had previously prevented pregnancy.
My ultimate fear isn't necessarily that we might not be able to have kids. It's that I might not be able to "switch off" this diligence. We are trying to have a baby; at what point do we give up? When do you give up hope? Because, really, it's the hope that kills you. It's the hope, every month, that you might've gotten what you wanted.
If a doctor told me tomorrow that I would never have kids, that there was no chance of it happening, I could mourn and then move on. And I would recover and go on to lead a happy and normal life. Because I wouldn't be trying anymore.
And I was never one of those women who loves babies or wanted to be a kindergarten teacher her whole life. This may sound terrible, but there's a part of me that's ready to throw in the towel because the more elusive it gets, the less important it feels. The less emotional it feels. I think human beings ought to procreate, and I think that people with stable, loving homes like ours are a good place for kids. (And Mark Steyn makes me think I need to have ten of them, to shore up our numbers.) I was always fairly matter-of-fact about having a baby anyway, and this year of over-thinking it hasn't helped any. My husband re-convinces me every day to keep trying, because I'd love to abandon hope and forget about it.
It's the trying, the hope, that's beating me down.
March 23, 2008
He's now leaving, and relatively quickly. Not on that perfect assignment I wrote about, but on a different one. (Months ago my husband warned me that I wasn't going to like leaving "regular Army" because I wouldn't be able to blog about anything he's doing. I am starting to see that this is true. I am a blabbermouth at heart, and his top secret clearance is killing me.)
You know, I sat on that Rear D info for weeks. I couldn't bring myself to write about it because we didn't want to accept it as our fate. Finally, I decided that I had to put it in print and make it real. Ha. Two days later, the whole thing was moot. I can't help but think about one of my mom's friends. It seems that my mom bumps into her every time our story changes. First my husband was leaving right away, then his timeline got bumped way back, then it was Rear D, and now we're back to leaving. I bet my mom's civilian friend can't believe that we get jerked around like this, but it's true. This is how the military operates. When my husband asked me if I was OK with finding out so suddenly, I just waved him off with a hand. I am really quite used to this, actually. And when another solder looked at me with care and concern at the ball the other day and asked how I was dealing with my husband's sudden departure, I think I freaked him out with my nonchalance. His eyes got big when I waved him off too. But seriously, this is his job, this is what he's in the Army to do, and we wouldn't be here if it bothered me. A soldier's job is to soldier.
So he goes in the field this week, comes back, we have some block leave, and he's outta here. Lickety split. And he's an "operator" now (I think that is the squirrelliest label ever, so I use it all the time, like White irony), so it's not one of those 15-month deployments. He'll be home in early 2009.
This deployment junkie is getting her fix.
I am so grateful to still have my mom. And I hope someday I have a little boy whose brain gets crazy at times.
March 22, 2008
We did some pistol shooting first. I was no good with the .357 Sig, but I did better with the 9mm Beretta. I think I improved a little from my first trip to the range back in October, especially after I tried a different placement for my left hand. It made the kick a lot more manageable. But the real fun was the AR-15.
I look awkward as all get-out in this picture, I think, but I actually was pretty darned proud of myself here. (I want to submit this to the Army and see if they'll let me deploy. Not bad for my very first try.)
But I don't look nearly as good as my smokin' hot husband.
Overall, I was a lot more comfortable this time around. I had fun and improved my meager skills. And the rifle was a lot of fun, though my shoulder is already feeling it.
I'm looking forward to going back. Good thing my husband has a single buddy who's happy to exchange ammo for a home-cooked meal.
And this paragraph, this just resonates.
Throughout this three-year ordeal I've felt perpetually sad. I've become a hermit because I don't want to hear friends who got pregnant easily say, 'Just adopt.' I want to watch my belly grow, feel my baby kick and give birth. Normally, my mom would be my support, but she keeps telling me supposedly inspiring stories about women who went through multiple IVF tries before conceiving naturally.
Everyone has a story to tell you. Everyone knows someone who had that Miracle Baby, and they think that will make you feel more optimistic. It doesn't. And everyone says "just relax and it will happen." Everyone thinks they're being helpful, when really they sometimes cause more pain.
Two weeks ago I was at work when a young mother apologized for her two year old's behavior. I said it was no big deal, and I laughed and said that I like watching parenting styles in action. This girl asked if I have kids, and then followed with, "Well, why not? You have a wedding ring on; why don't you have a kid?"
And even the people who are a lot less boorish than this chick, even they can punch me in the gut. My husband and I have finally taken the steps needed to start getting fertility testing done, to see if we can figure out what's going on. We don't mind telling people that we are taking this step, though we have decided that we are not going to discuss the details or results of the tests with anyone. But when I gingerly told a friend the other day that we have an appointment to get tested, she said, "Oh, I bet there is nothing wrong with you." Funny, I didn't realize you have a medical degree. Thank heavens you have determined that there's nothing wrong with us.
Other people have said that we just need to get drunk and have fun. To which I replied that if all we needed to get pregnant was booze, we'd be the fricking Von Trapp family by now. Also not helpful.
There's really nothing you can say to a couple who is disheartened and discouraged. But for starters, don't say things like, "You're lucky; I get pregnant every time my husband and I are in the same room!" For couples trying desperately to have a baby, being told they're lucky is a slap in the face. They don't want to hear about your husband's super-sperm and how fertile you are, because even though you don't intend it this way, it comes off sounding like you think you're a better human specimen than they are. For already fragile egos, hearing you talk about your hardy genetic material is painful. And they sure don't want to hear you refer to your fertility as a curse.
My two-cents is to never speak in declarative sentences. Don't tell them what you did as if it's the surefire way to get pregnant (got drunk, stood on your head, waited for the full moon, went to Hawaii). If it's worth a darn, they've already tried it by now. Don't say that you're sure it will happen for them soon, because you are not at all sure of that. There's nothing worse than having someone tell you they are sure you will have a baby; there are no guarantees in this process. And don't ever ever ever tell them to "just relax." I am ready to kick the next person who says that to me in the crotch.
Instead, play Obama and tell them you "hope" everything works out for them. Tell them you hope the testing brings them more understanding, that you hope that they don't obsess about it too much, and that you hope that they know that you care about them and are wishing them the best.
And then just be a friend. The couples going through this, they are miserable. They think about it constantly, and it is right in their face every two weeks. Their entire outlook on life -- what it means to be a parent, what one's role is on this earth, etc -- has changed because of this process, and it's a very vulnerable time. Please don't make it worse by telling them your best friend's sister's neighbor got pregnant unexpectedly and so of course they will too.
But these are just my thoughts; your mileage may vary. I am ultra-sensitive to anything that smacks of criticism or ignorance these days, and hearing that I should try to time the baby for winter because I'm a knitter just makes me want to slap someone.
Though I did get a big laugh when one friend said that we have too much money and education to get pregnant, and that our best bet is to start doing heroin and attending local high school proms.
March 21, 2008
A few years ago I joined some colleagues on an academic conference jaunt to a large private university in the American northeast. The approved conference itinerary was to take us directly from our swish Chicago hotel to the campus gates, in the hygienic manner of the modern business traveller.
For reasons too complicated to retell, on the return trip we found ourselves becalmed in a village in the backwaters of rural Indiana, in the old American heartland. The streets we strolled down were lined with wooden bungalows, and there was a flagstaff with the Stars and Stripes in every other front yard. We ate in rural diners by the highway with orange-tinted windows, stained wooden cubicles and waitresses with chequered aprons.
Much like Columbus, we had voyaged in search of streets paved with gold, and instead we had accidentally discovered America.
I remembered this article this morning as my husband and I ate breakfast at the Waffle House. If I knew a foreign visitor who needed to see a slice of the USA, I'd seriously make a stop at the greasy spoon. All walks of life, all races, all ages at the Waffle House, crammed into a smokey, loud, friendly place. And the work ethic at the Waffle House! Those cooks and waitresses move fast. None of this we'll-cook-your-schnitzel-when-we-damn-well-get-around-to-it business at the Waffle House, nosiree. The manager's washing dishes, six waffle irons are going, and waitresses are waiting in line to bark words like "scattered" and "smothered."
At the Waffle House, America is a spectator sport.
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