December 31, 2009

SCHIZOPHRENIC 2009

2009 doesn't feel like one year to me.

My husband returned home from Iraq at the end of 2008, a couple days before Christmas. We began 2009 with his trip to SERE school. And getting pregnant for a third time. And losing that baby too. Then finding out about the translocation.

It was a sucky first six months.

But then we took a great vacation to Vegas. And I got pregnant again. And the John Elway Baby worked out. My husband is deployed, but he's there with a great team and they've done some good work that apparently everyone else wants to steal credit for. I'm proud of him. I wish he were here to share in the joys of pregnancy, but in the long run, the second half of 2009 has been pretty good. He's impressing all the right people, and I have a three pound person bouncing on my bladder.

And 2010 should be great: my husband and my baby arriving at the same time! We'll be a family. I can't wait.


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BOOK LIST VI

I joked that I needed to start cheating if I'm going to make it to 62 books by the end of the year.  Unfortunately, I had misremembered the goal: Rove read 64 books.  I realized this only a couple of days ago.  Even with a couple of hanging-chad books in here towards the end (books that probably shouldn't be counted but we're gonna count 'em anyway on a technicality), I couldn't make it.  No one can beat The Architect.

But I didn't get divorced either, so who's the big winner?  (Ew, that's mean.)

All in all, I was surprised that I could average more than a book a week.  And a decent mix of fluff and "real" books.  I found that a year of reading goes by fast, and several books are still in the pile.  I didn't read a book in French like I planned to.  I also never made it to Lone Survivor; I just didn't have the stomach for it right now.  I'd like to read it once my husband gets home.  Also in the stack for the beginning of next year are several baby books.  I have two months to study up on baby's first year, breastfeeding, how to get her to sleep, etc.  And then, according to popular wisdom, I'll never read again.

All in all, this was a neat exercise, and that original article about the challenge remains one of my favorite things written about George Bush ever.

62)  Zen and the Art of Knitting  (Bernadette Murphy)
I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading about knitting.  Once I realized it was hopeless to make it to 64 books, I decided to read something relaxing.  It's a little hippie-ful for my taste, but it's soothing.

61)  Babyhood  (Paul Reiser)
It's my understanding that there are lots of books lying around Iraq and Afghanistan.  The troops read them and leave them in common areas for someone else to pick up.  My husband happened upon this book and read it.  He then bought it for me for Christmas because he thought it was funny and I might enjoy it.  I laughed so hard I cried in parts.  (Of course, I'm hormonal, so then I kept crying.)

60)  The Crisis of Islam  (Bernard Lewis)
I don't know how I didn't read this six years ago, but I ought to have.  Nonetheless, it was still worth reading today.  It's a basic primer on where Islamists are coming from, the history and philosophy that drives terrorists.

59)  Charlotte Sometimes  (Penelope Farmer)
I've been stocking up on books for my little girl, and I got this one because of the song.  And because of, well, other reasons.  And who knew that there would also be a character named Sarah?  Or that the first lines of the song, the ones that make me think of my struggle to have this baby, were the first lines of the book...

All the faces, all the voices blur
Change to one face, change to one voice

58)  Charlotte's Web  (E.B. White)
An endearing secondary storyline I remember from the TV show Ed was when Carol said she liked the book Charlotte's Web and didn't understand why people always thought it was so sad.  It turns out, at the end of the episode, her dad gives her a new copy of Charlotte's Web, saying that when she was young and her mother died, he had cut the final pages of the book out and typed up a new ending in which Charlotte lived happily ever after.  He had wanted to protect her from sadness.  I always thought that was a sweet story of parenthood.

57)  Pursuit of Honor  (Vince Flynn)
I wanted to read this just because Glenn Beck called Chapter 50 "conservative porn."  Heh.  It turned out to be an enjoyable read all around.
A while back, Amritas asked why I liked Brad Thor's books.  I think Vince Flynn's character Mitch Rapp falls in the same category as Scot Harvath.  And my answer was simple: these protagonists are like Jack Bauer, but in the books, the bad guys are always terrorists and usually Muslims...unlike the show 24, where we always seem to learn in the fifteenth hour that the bad guys are really white guys working for a corporation.  They are simple stories about clandestine operatives working to keep the United States safe, with none of the PC baggage that shows and movies seem to have these days.  No evil white CEOs.

56)  What Americans Really Want...Really  (Frank Luntz)
I had no intention of reading this book because, really, I thought the title was just too goofy.  But AirForceWife also gave it her seal of approval, so I went for it.  What struck me about this book is how unlike me everything seems.  I don't fall into one of the five categories of how people behave and think, I thought the political chapter was absolutely off-base with my values, I thought the chapter on teens made me feel like an old fuddy-duddy (I stopped dating before cell phones and digital cameras), and so on.  I don't doubt Luntz's work or research; I just wonder how I am so unlike these great swaths of Americans.  I feel like that apocryphal lady who didn't know anyone who voted for Nixon: my people, my tribe, doesn't believe these things.  So how American does that make us if everyone else around us just wants security and organic food?  (I mean, nearly 50% of poll respondents said that the 2nd Amendment mattered the least to them...and a good margin less to them than even the self-incrimination part of the 5th!)

55)  Survival of the Sickest  (Dr. Sharon Moalem)
AirForceWife lent me this book, and I couldn't recommend it more.  It explains why we have certain diseases today: At one point in history, diseases like hemochromatosis and diabetes were actually selected for because they helped people survive in their environment.  It was so interesting.  There was also a section vindicating Lamarck and talking about how your fetus' genetic makeup can be altered by what you eat even before you know you are pregnant.  I ate seven days of Las Vegas buffets...yikes.

54)  Nation of Cowards: Essays on the Ethics of Gun Control  (Jeff Snyder)
Nothing pumps me up like guns and taxes.  I really enjoyed reading this book and the arguments behind the fundamental right of gun ownership.  I found it after CVG sent me the link to Walter Mitty's Second Amendment, one of the essays in this book.

53)  Pearl Harbor  (Newt Gingrich)
The authors really did a good job of making you feel like you were at Pearl Harbor.  It was harrowing.  However, I didn't realize until I was finished that it was a set-up book for an alternate history sequel, in which the Japanese hit hard in a third strike and really piss off a sleeping giant.  I guess I would've preferred a straight-out historical fiction instead of trying to figure out after the fact what was real and what was invented.

52)  For The New Intellectual  (Ayn Rand)
Blog post on the book here.

51)  What to Expect When Your Wife Is Expanding  (Thomas Hill)
My husband got this book as a gift when I was pregnant the first time.  He read a few pages and then set it aside when disaster struck.  So I pulled it back out and decided to read it now and annotate the margins for him, noting things I was indeed experiencing.  I mailed it to him so he could flip through it in Afghanistan, and he said he has been reading it.

Previous Lists:
41-50
31-40
21-30
11-20
1-10

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December 30, 2009

ALTHOUSE LINKS

Two links via Ann Althouse:
Obama and Our Post-Modern Race Problem
A Less Than Honest Policy

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TRANSPARENCY

From the administration that pledged total transparency:

The Obama administration’s handling of the Christmas Day terror plot has been “schizophrenic” says [Rep. Peter King]. “It’s reflective of their handling of other incidents. They still haven’t given us any information on Fort Hood. Even with the gate crashers, they’ve refused to give us on information on communications between the White House social secretary and the Secret Service. They’re giving us nothing and Democrats in Congress are very reluctant to have any meaningful investigations.” Politics, not national security, is driving these decisions, says King. “They’re holding back because they don’t want to share embarrassing material.”

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December 29, 2009

THANK YOU

Thank you for all your help on the previous post.  I really appreciate the input.  I will head to Babies R Us to try again this week, and hopefully I will be less overwhelmed.

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December 28, 2009

REGISTRY STRESS

Today I went to try to register for baby items.  It was a disaster.

I have read posts where other bloggers ask for help with registering.  The problem is that most people suggest big items: strollers, car seats, etc.  And that's what most people register for.  But I've been working on a baby for three years, and after all that time, I have most of the big stuff.  I feel like, if I'm bringing a child into the world, I ought to be the one to pay for all this crap, not my friends.  So I have been to several garage sales and consignment shops to get what I thought I needed.  I also have wonderful friends who are done having children and have been very generous with their hand-me-downs.  I can't thank them enough for all the stuff they've given to me.  Thus I have all the big items.

What I need help with are the little things.

There are a bazillion different types of pacifiers, bottles, nipples, rattles, sippy cups, and gadgets.  Do babies really want a mirror in the back seat of a car so they can see forward?  Has anyone used the tray on the Bumbo seat and is it worth having?  Do you need those concave holders to put in the crib?  Bottle warmers?  Sun visors for the back windows in the car?  The cloth blankets that go in grocery carts?  I have a Boppy but how many covers do people usually have?

This is all that's left for me to get.  I have the big items: I have two "travel system" strollers, a pack-n-play, a high chair, two bath tubs, a crib, three bouncy seats, etc.  I am more than squared away in that department.  I also have more clothes than this baby will ever be able to wear in her first year, unless we change outfits every two hours and get her picture made at Sears every weekend.  Seriously, I went way overboard this summer.  But I need the boring little accessories.  This is the stuff I don't have, but to me it's the stressful stuff.  For example, I know most babies have a pacifier preference and you just have to figure out what it is...so do you register for one of every kind?  It feels dumb to register for a $2.39 pacifier, but that's really the stuff I need at this point.  I think someone could go in and buy my entire registry for $20 right now.  (Hell, I was tempted to just buy my entire registry today, but that defeats the purpose of a registry.)

What I'd like to know is: What were the little gadgets you thought were the most useful?  What brand did your kid prefer and do you know why?  How many of each thing did you have, like crib sheets, bottles, etc?  I don't want to go overboard, but I also don't want to do laundry and dishes every five minutes either.  Is there something you had but didn't think was worth it?

Help.

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December 27, 2009

ON THE CUSP OF BONDAGE

North Koreans, deprived of liberty, are fighting back against baseless edicts and clamoring for a bit of capitalism and modernism.  Even if it means death when caught.

Americans, on the other hand, are slowly and stupidly relinquishing all personal responsibility to the State, opting instead for security and coddling.

I used to think that the United States was the only place on earth I'd care to live.  But I'm afraid I might not be able to say that in 20 years.  I keep thinking of the words of Henning Prentis:

Paradoxically enough, the release of initiative and enterprise made possible by popular self-government ultimately generates disintegrating forces from within. Again and again after freedom has brought opportunity and some degree of plenty, the competent become selfish, luxury-loving and complacent, the incompetent and the unfortunate grow envious and covetous, and all three groups turn aside from the hard road of freedom to worship the Golden Calf of economic security. The historical cycle seems to be: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more.

I'm afraid we're on the cusp of bondage once more.

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I DON'T THINK I WANT TO FLY ANYMORE

Depressing:

So once again we see the foolishness of complaceniks who drone the fatuous cliches about how "in this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs". The men eager to self-detonate on infidel airliners are not goatherds from the caves of Waziristan but educated middle-class Muslims who have had the most exposure to the western world and could be pulling down six-figure salaries almost anywhere on the planet.

Is this the parallel phenomenon to how only rich Americans want us to return to nature and save the planet by all acting Amish?

And now it's looking like we're not going to be able to do anything on a plane but sit quietly with our hands folded in our laps.  Steyn goes on to say:

Playing the game this way lets the terrorists set the rules and forces us to react defensively to every innovation. What difference does it make whether the plot succeeds? After all, long after Richard Reid has died of old age in prison, we'll still be removing our footwear in eternal homage to the thwarted shoebomber.

Thanks to the quick thinking of Jasper Schuringa, another inept terrorist was foiled.  Seems like maybe these highly educated terrorists ought to have paid better attention in chemistry class.  Thank heavens for us they didn't.

But that won't stop government from taking away our bathroom breaks and blankets on planes now.

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December 26, 2009

JARHEAD CHRISTMAS

If you missed this yesterday, watch it today. Hat tip to SemperFiWife.


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TWO HEALTH CARE LINKS

First, a summary of Mark Steyn's strategy vs tactics theory.

Second, a great rundown of a "movement powered by mindlessness" by Dan Freeman:

  • Who but the mindless can believe that government run health care will reduce costs and improve care while covering more people?
  • Who but the mindless can believe that this President is now serious about reducing the deficit after shattering spending records during his first year?
  • Who but the mindless can take seriously the sham “jobs summit” held by a President whose every policy is a lesson in job destruction?
  • Who but the mindless can believe Obama’s lie that “Cash for Clunkers” which cost taxpayers $24,000 per car was successful?
  • Who but the mindless would not outraged that our government has reneged on its promise pay back the unused TARP fund to taxpayers?
  • Who but the mindless would not question the morality that the world’s finest health care, which has extended and improved human life in unimaginable ways—conceived and produced by countless unsung heroes in the private sector—should magically be transformed by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi into a “human right”, taken over by the state and rationed out as they please?

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December 24, 2009

TOO BIG TO FAIL

I had a friend take a photo of me for my Christmas cards.  I did this before Thanksgiving so I had plenty of time to get the cards ready (and before I got Charlie's hair cut.)  My husband saw the photo and remarked this morning how big I look.



I said, "That was six weeks ago!  You should see me today."  The dog looks skinnier and I look bigger.

This is me today, in the same shirt, at 30 weeks.



Wife Unit had her baby at 30 weeks.  He was little but he was fine.  I could have her today and probably everything would work out.  She would be fine.

My Christmas joy: I am officially too big to fail...

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MY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE



It's her feet.  It's her feet that have made me love her.

The silver lining to being high risk is that the ultrasound tech is really emotionally invested in this baby.  Which means she sneaks me in for quick ultrasounds whenever she can.  Last week we managed to snap this photo.

I keep pulling it up on the computer and looking at her feet.  At her little piggy toes splayed out and wiggling.

And all of a sudden, she seems real. 

I want to meet her.  And kiss her toes.

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December 23, 2009

WHILE WE CELEBRATE

Meanwhile, while we're all concentrating on Christmas and perhaps paying some attention to the health care bill, Gitmo detainees are being released into the hands of Yemen, Afghanistan and Somaliland, and Pres Obama signed an executive order to exempt Interpol from American law.

Nothing to see here, people.  Have some more eggnog!

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December 22, 2009

30 MINUTES

It's amazing how short 30 minutes is.

When my husband calls, I always feel like we've barely scratched the surface of two or three topics before he has to get off the phone.  I feel like I've just gotten started and it's time to stop.

It makes me wonder how much I run my mouth to him when he's home.  If 30 minutes only covers part of two topics, then I reckon I must do an awful lot of talking when he lives here...

I can't wait until I get more than 30 minutes with him.

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A BAG OF CHARCOAL

Thank you all for your kind words on my previous post. I must admit, I love the delurking. I'm not completely set on a course of action at this point; I plan to wait until baby arrives to see just how busy I really get.  Until then, you're stuck with me.

And now for something completely different.

My mother starts heading my direction today to spend Christmas with me. I am getting quite excited to see her. And though all I could muster this year in the way of decorations was a 2-ft Christmas tree and a couple of holly-covered placemats on the table, I am feeling pretty festive.

Stay tuned this week for a few of the things that put a grin on my face this Christmas, like another photo of my growing belly, and the latest ultrasound photo...

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December 21, 2009

A HARBINGER

In order to give you enough time to change your bookmarks, I am announcing now that I am not renewing my tryingtogrok.com domain for 2010.  The old site will still be at tryingtogrok.mu.nu and this one is at tryingtogrok.new.mu.nu.  I have given up on getting Pixy to help me redirect the site, and am letting it lapse.  That gives you readers until the beginning of January to change your links or bookmarks.

And it may portend a bigger change down the road.

I started blogging six years ago, when I was feeling very alone and alienated from my college friend group.  I needed an outlet to speak my own mind and work through what I believed.  I needed somewhere to cash those chips.  Along the way, I met many wonderful people who shared my worldview, or at least enough of it that we had common ground.  My Real Life and my Blog Life started to blend and then tip, and now I'm at the point where I have a mere handful of real life friends and the majority of my connections are with other bloggers or readers.

And I am happy and fulfilled.

And now my blog just doesn't serve as the outlet I once needed it for.  If I want to gripe about taxes or guns or health care, I can pick up the phone and call my blog friends.  Or I can bang out an email to the person I think will grok.  I am no longer alone, and I no longer feel the driving urge to add my two cents to the news, at least not like I did back in 2003.

Being on the internet is my #1 hobby.  I spend more time here than I do knitting each day.  And while I loathe when people act like having a baby will never again allow them to have a moment to themselves, I am not naive enough to think that once I have a newborn in the house, my hobby time won't be drastically reduced.  And frankly, I can't see myself devoting an hour and a half to writing a blog post about Afghanistan, especially not when it only garners two comments from readers.  I feel like I will get more satisfaction out of using that time to call a friend and talk about it instead.  Or just reading to keep up on current events, instead of writing.  Blogging has begun to feel very one-sided to me in recent months, like I'm shouting into a canyon, and it's just probably not going to be at the top of my hobby list anymore.

I also have become increasingly self-aware that I am, as Mary Katharine Ham once said, trying to "avoid being crushed under the weight of [my] own narcissism, banality, and plain old stupidity."  The more time I invest in writing posts and get no or little feedback, the more jaded I become.  And I don't like feeling like my banal little opinions and ideas are worth anyone else's time.  To me, there's nothing more embarrassing than writing a long and time-consuming blog post that I think will set the internet on fire, only to have it sit there with no comments at all.  Except, of course, the embarrassment of realizing that I have put myself on this pedestal where I expect people to actually care what my opinions are. 

It is a narcissistic hobby, and I don't like the person I am when I inwardly grouse that my post on foreign policy obviously deserves more comments than that other blogger's post on her weekend trip to the beach.

I'm starting to feel that I've gotten all the good things out of blogging already and that all that's left for me is the narcissism and crushing banality.

But I hate when bloggers just drift away.  If I'm in, I'm in, and if I'm out, there will be fanfare and a set date and you'll know it.  And I would be out for good, not letting the site sit here so I can randomly post every few months.  I am not making any decisions today, just letting you know that I feel like blogging is bringing me diminishing returns.  And that I am considering ending my run here on this site after baby arrives, for a variety of reasons.

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December 20, 2009

RATTING OUT THE PIZZA GUY

Rat out your neighbors, get paid by the IRS

It's too bad there's a $2 million dollar minimum, or I'd rat out the pizza delivery guy who came here a few weeks ago.  I paid for the pizza over the phone but handed him a cash tip when he arrived.  He said, "Ooh, we love cash tips because then we don't have to report them."  Can I tell you, I had half a mind to snatch it back from him that instant...

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HEALTH CARE BILL

More summaries on the health care bill:

Yuval Levin:

The CBO assessment of the bill tells the appalling story. We are going to raise taxes by half a trillion dollars over the next ten years, increase spending by more than a trillion dollars, cut Medicare by $470 billion but use that money to fund a new entitlement rather than to fix Medicare itself, bend the health care cost curve up rather than down, insert layers of bureaucracy between doctors and patients, and compel and subsidize universal participation in a failed system of health insurance rather than reform or improve it. Indeed, this bill will make it exceedingly difficult to fix our health insurance financing system in the future, since it sucks dry the potential means of such reform but leaves the fundamental cost problem essentially untouched (and in some respects worsened.)

Kim Strassel:

So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.


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December 19, 2009

"DIMINISH THE QUALITY OF CARE"

A must-read paragraph from the CBO on the Senate health care bill.

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THIS JUST IN

Breaking news: women are superficial morons.

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