June 30, 2009
We only got to see them for a short time, but we're hoping to see them again before the end of the week.
Also, the Z daughter is wicked adorable. I want a head-to-head Cute Off between her and Pink Ninja.
There's nothing I like more than a current events joke.
June 29, 2009
A president decides he wants to be president longer than the law allows. His country does everything possible to get him to follow the law, but the president keeps abusing his power and acting like a lunatic. The country respects its constitution and decides to legally and justifiably oust him.
And Obama is siding with him?
I must be missing something, because this is insane.
Remember when all the loony lefties swore that George Bush was going to stage a coup and stay in office a third term? They went berserk predicting this. If it had actually happened, you can bet your sweet bippy that they would've used every channel possible to toss him out. And rightly so: the leader has to respect the law of the land or the citizens get rid of him.
But now a president in another country has actually just done what the nuts swore Bush was going to do, and Pres Obama is backing the would-be dictator.
Oh, and also Castro, Chavez, and Ortega side with Obama too.
Have I gone completely mad? This is sick.
June 28, 2009
June 27, 2009
Yes, that's our spare bedroom. Yes, it's looked like that for over a year. Yes, it's absurd. But leaving it up seemed less weird to me than taking it all down and leaving the room completely empty. (OK, mildly less weird. Also I'm just lazy.)
But apparently what Charlie wants, Charlie gets. After a week of doing everything wrong -- lots of booze, sitting in hot tubs, eating sushi, taking large doses of NyQuil -- it turns out that I am pregnant again.
We laughed that this is our "unplanned" pregnancy. My friend's mother, an OB nurse, asked me what my doctor's plan was now. Plan? There isn't one this time around! This was our Hail Mary. This was me looking at my husband one night and saying, "We could try this and potentially save $12,000...whaddya think?" and then completely putting it out of my head because, seriously, neither of us thought it would work.
I took a pregnancy test to confirm that I was not pregnant, before I contacted the IVF doctor to get my PGD bloodwork started.
I took a second one because I didn't believe the result of the first one.
We have no plan. I ran and hurried to take a prenatal vitamin because, let's face it, after two and a half unsuccessful years I had gotten pretty lax about remembering to do that.
Anyway, I'm just putting it out here because, well, this is where I cash chips.
I told my husband that my feelings about the miracle of life have actually regressed, gotten creepier. I was always a life-starts-at-conception person. And now, now I feel like we have to wait around and see if this becomes a baby. It has a 50% chance of being a baby or a 50% chance of being...a lump of mutated cells. I hate that this is what this process has done to me, that it's made me detach myself so much. That I'm like some gross abortion advocate who only sees a lump of cells. But that's where I'm at these days. It doesn't become a baby until it has a heartbeat. And even then...Baby #2 had one of those...
I'm just hanging back for the next three weeks or so. Hey, three weeks, that's when my husband deploys. How convenient.
So one of two things will happen. 1) This will be a baby, in which case my husband will already be deployed by the time a heartbeat can be detected and will still be deployed when the baby is born. What marvelous timing. Or 2) It will be a lump of cells, in which case there will be no heartbeat, I will take care of business because I am now a pro at miscarriage, and then I will start the bloodwork for the PGD and proceed as planned, only a month or two behind schedule.
Either way, whatever.
I know no one knows how to react to this news. I told AWTM over the phone and her reaction was like "Um, yay?, er, right? Hooray! er..." so I just decided to put it here instead. If you don't read my blog, I'm not telling you.
You can feel however you want about the news. I'd prefer if you didn't get too excited, or tell me that the fourth time's a charm or something. But happy's OK. And hopeful is good too. (Note: Do not tell me that this happened because I "relaxed" or I will ban you from my blog. Or I would if I knew how to do that. Even though this is our "unplanned" pregnancy, there was nothing haphazard about it. The day was specifically chosen to maximize success. We just didn't plan for it to work. Hence the booze and hot tubs. This is as close to a whoopsie as the Groks can get.)
At this point, I don't know if I'll talk about it anymore, at least not until Heartbeat Week. Not until I know anything for certain.
But let's see if we can get Charlie that baby he wants...
Actually, I'm pretty sure Charlie just wants to play with all the baby's toys.
And my husband says that if this baby lives, he wants to name it John Elway. (Now that's a bit of guy trivia that I didn't get: three Superbowl losses before a win.) AWTM says we should name it Bellagio if it's a girl. We got jokes.
My husband says he just really doesn't want a Jim Kelly baby.
(How does that man remember how many Super Bowls every quarterback lost but can't remember where anything is located in our kitchen?)
June 26, 2009
He supposedly had fun at the boarder. But he came home a tangled mess, so I immediately took him for a shave-down the next day. Maybe that was too much. Maybe dropping him off with strangers a second time set him over the edge.
He keeps doing this hacking thing, almost like a seizure. And he hasn't barked in two days. Normally he's perched in front of the window to bark at anything he sees, but not a peep since he's gotten home. He hides, and won't make eye contact.
Our dog has always been weird, but not like this.
Seriously, I want my Charlie back.
I'm never leaving him again.
Until the last day.
And all of a sudden, I realized we were on Block Leave. I realized that the end of this trip signaled the end of block leave, which means July was coming soon, which means my husband is deploying.
My husband is deploying in like two weeks or so.
And I wanted the last day to slow down, to last forever, to never end.
But it did.
Right before the last deployment, I said this:
I welcomed that last deployment. But this time, it just kinda seems too soon for me. It feels like he just got home. That coupled with my lack of emotional investment in Afghanistan has made me unprepared for him to leave this time.
I can't believe he's leaving.
The IVF clinic called me while I was at SBL Utah at the end of May. I haven't called them back. I've been stalling. I don't really care right now. I don't want to think about it. I know I need to call them back and get the process moving, but I just don't want to.
I'm kinda incredulous about life these days. I can't believe what's happening to my self, to my family, to my country. It's like I'm in a bad dream that I can't shake.
I'm being Dante again.
And I've done such a darned good job of convincing myself of all the silver linings that I am afraid I might have trouble switching my brain back someday...
June 24, 2009
They told us another story when we picked Charlie up that keeps making me smile. Charlie is deathly afraid of water. He hates it and won't go near it. The boarder put out plastic kiddie pools for the dogs to frolic in, and apparently Charlie desperately wanted to play with the other dogs but was immobilized by his fear of water. She said he would just run in circles around the plastic pool while all the other dogs were in it in the water. So they came up with a solution: they got another plastic pool and set it up beside the first...empty. Apparently Charlie frolicked and played in an imaginary pool all week beside the other dogs. Which really tickles me.
We're all back together again at home. About two or three more weeks before the husband deploys...
June 23, 2009
Media Cheer Obama's Golf Outings; Criticized Republicans' Trips to Course contrasts the press' fawning over Obama's golf hobby to Bush's.
The original article quoted, "Just the sport for a leader most driven," is sickeningly praiseworthy. Bush is a golfer too, but I don't remember him ever being praised with these compliments:
Yet nothing is without deeper meaning where the presidency is concerned. The golfer in chief's approach to the game is subject to analysis in psychological and political contexts.
To some, Obama's frequent outings reflect a cool self-confidence. "Given all the things that are going on in the world and with the economy," says sports psychologist Bob Rotella, "you'd think he wouldn't be caught anywhere near the golf course. ... To some degree it says: 'I'm not going to worry about what people say about me. I'm going to do my job, and I'm going to play, too.' "
Patience, persistence and the ability to self-critique -- qualities that also serve presidents well -- are crucial in golf.
Presidential recreation plays a role in overall image management. As a basketball guy and golfer, Obama is able to demonstrate versatility and broaden his constituency. It shows he's attracted to both fast-paced team play and a painstakingly slow individual endeavor. It also reflects his crossover appeal in terms of race and class.
I have always been frustrated by my lack of options. If you wish for the United States to look more like Canada or Europe, then please just move to Canada or Europe. Don't try to turn our country into something that already exists elsewhere. Because if I want the United States to look more like what the Founding Fathers envisioned, with far less government intrusion, I have nowhere else to go. There is no other existing country that matches the vision of where I want to live. (And the US today ain't exactly it either, but it's the best we've got.) Please don't turn my only option into another Canada. Canada is already Canada.
Stephen Green: Once Upon a Time in America
Whatever liberty we have right here, right now, in America … well, for all practical purposes, that’s all that’s left anywhere. If France had our freedoms, there would be no French here. If China had it, there would be no Chinese here. If it existed in Latin America, there would be no Spanish spoken here. And so it goes.
And so if we, here in America, throw it all away in a fit of panic or pique, then what we once called “America” will become as false as a fairy tale.
June 22, 2009
It was Chuck Z.
Chuck had decided to do something nice for us while we were here in Vegas, something he would like to do if he were here. He wanted to get us races at Pole Position, the indoor go-kart raceway.
Totally unexpected and cool.
Also it was funny to hear my husband talking on the phone with Chuck like they've known each other for a while, when they've never actually met. Although my husband does call Chuck my "internet boyfriend," so I guess that makes them practically related.
So today we went to Pole Position. I assumed Chuck had gotten us one race, but no, he had sprung for two races and t-shirts for both of us as well! I felt bad about him doing so much for us, but it turned out to be a good thing to have two races.
The race consists of nine laps in a car that goes up to 45 mph. Your first lap is a practice lap to get you oriented, and then they kick the cars up to high gear and you're off. Only my car didn't respond. I was flooring my gas pedal and people were passing me on straightaways. I didn't get why 45 mph seemed so sluggish. Then all of a sudden on the fifth lap, my car leapt into gear! I jerked forward and nearly crashed into a wall. I realized my car had been goofed up.
Luckily I had a second race to redeem myself. I decided to consider the first race a practice shot to learn the curves and not feel so nervous, because I was in fact terrified that I would crash, or cause a crash, or hit someone, or overall make a fool of myself. So one slow race in the beginning was a blessing in disguise. And my second fast race was fun!
Chuck (and Mrs Z), thank you for treating us to a fun activity that we misers wouldn't have done on our own. We had a great time, and you really shouldn't have. We hope to make it up to you with dinner when you pass through town on your PCS journey.
And we're throwing a little change in the Valour-IT pot for good measure.
Chuck is one heck of an internet boyfriend.
And I can't even say how wholeheartedly I wish him a Happy Alive Day...
June 21, 2009
AWTM did not believe me when I said I took the worst picture of my entire life yesterday at Hoover Dam. For real, I did. Every time I look at it, I die laughing. It is so hideous; I have no idea how it happened and I sincerely hope that I never ever look like that during the course of a normal day. I blame the sun.
And because I am a blogger who strives to strike the perfect balance between narcissism and self-deprecation, I am going to share it with you. It is too funny not to.
My husband was scrolling through the pics on the camera and stopped at this one, traced a circle around my face with his finger, and said aloud, "Area of concern."
Photo after the jump, because it needs to come at you like shock and awe.
I hate that I have to type this story. I wish I could tell it to you in person, with wide eyes and lots of expletives.
We took a bus tour to the Grand Canyon yesterday. And as happened when we went on a cruise, my husband and I remembered why we don't like being trapped with strangers.
Since it was a long drive to and fro, we watched movies on the charter bus. There were a couple of kids on the tour, so the bus driver insisted we watch appropriate movies. On the way there, we watched Marley and Me and Evan Almighty. You get the idea: family movies. And on the way back, this lady...
Wait, let me back up.
My husband and I were the first people on the bus, and we accidentally picked the worst seats. On a tour of polite Japanese and snoozing Italian tourists, we happened to sit behind the most hoopleheaded, annoying, creepy American family. I can't even do their annoyingness justice; it was just one of those situations where you find yourself unwittingly eavesdropping on their inane chatter for fifteen hours because they just won't shut up.
It was going to be a toss-up over whether the mom or the dad was the more annoying, but then the mom made a shocking leap into first place.
On the way back, the mom volunteered to choose the movie we'd watch. And on a bus filled with Asians and black people, this lady picked out Gran Torino.
I am crapping you negative.
Here's how it played out. Keep in mind that this conversation is being shouted the length of the bus, with the lady up front at the DVD player and me about 2/3 of the way back:
Lady: I really want to see Gran Torino.
Sarah: Nooohooohoo. Not a good idea.
Lady: But I want to see it!
Sarah: It's not really, ahem, socially appropriate for this setting. It's very controversial.
Lady: Well, what else do you want to see? No suggestions? Then let's watch Gran Torino.
Now I am starting to lose my cool and get knots in my stomach. There is no way we can put that movie in on a bus full of minorities. (My husband wondered if the Japanese people would even catch the "zipperheads" and "gooks." I said perhaps not, but everyone knows the n-word when they hear it.)
Meanwhile, I am trying to insist to the lady's husband that we simply cannot watch the movie. I tried so hard to be diplomatic, saying that while it is an interesting movie to watch and discuss, this was just not the right time and place. When the lady returns to her seat, her husband says maybe we should pick something else. The lady starts pouting. Finally, I lost it and said, "Whatever. I'm glad you're comfortable playing a movie filled with the n-word." Then the black ladies next to us start to get involved. I swear one of them went all Bon Qui Qui and muttered that she would cut her.
Thank heavens someone else must've told the bus driver the deal, because by the time I marched down the aisle to insist that the movie was absolutely unacceptable, he had already figured out the gist and put the kibosh on it.
But seriously, oh my lord. I about died.
My husband and I spent the rest of the trip giggling about other movies that we could suggest to watch: American History X, Crash, Deliverance, Pulp Fiction, and (the LOL suggestion from the husband) Brown Bunny.
We may as well have suggested porn. It might've been less uncomfortable on a bus full of Asian strangers than Gran Torino.
I hope this lady goes home, rents the movie, and then realizes what she almost did and feels like crap.
No more group tours for the Grok family. We're flying solo from now on.
June 19, 2009
Dude, there are so many areas of concern in Vegas it's not even funny.
(Hat tip to Rachel Lucas for introducing a new term into our lexicon.)
Then, after treating this popular revolution as an inconvenience to the real business of Obama-Khamenei negotiations, the president speaks favorably of "some initial reaction from the Supreme Leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election."
Where to begin? "Supreme Leader"? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator who, even as his minions attack demonstrators, offers to examine some returns in some electoral districts -- a farcical fix that will do nothing to alter the fraudulence of the election.
Moreover, this incipient revolution is no longer about the election. Obama totally misses the point. The election allowed the political space and provided the spark for the eruption of anti-regime fervor that has been simmering for years and awaiting its moment. But people aren't dying in the street because they want a recount of hanging chads in suburban Isfahan. They want to bring down the tyrannical, misogynist, corrupt theocracy that has imposed itself with the very baton-wielding goons that today attack the demonstrators.
This started out about election fraud. But like all revolutions, it has far outgrown its origins. What's at stake now is the very legitimacy of this regime -- and the future of the entire Middle East.
This revolution will end either as a Tiananmen (a hot Tiananmen with massive and bloody repression or a cold Tiananmen with a finer mix of brutality and co-optation) or as a true revolution that brings down the Islamic Republic.
I'm sorry, but I've just never bought into the idea that Afghanistan is the "good war." My husband has actually had someone say to him that at least his upcoming deployment is to Afghanistan, which serves a purpose and has meaning, unlike Iraq. I wholeheartedly reject that idea. I also disagree vehemently with Pres Obama when he said, "Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice..." As Neal Boortz said recently, all wars are a choice. None of the 9/11 hijackers came from Afghanistan, so please explain to me how Afghanistan wasn't a choice that was made.
I've been thinking about Afghanistan a lot lately, and I have a hard time feeling good about my husband going there. Frankly, I am not convinced that country deserves his effort.
[Petraeus] doesn't seem to grasp that, while al Qaeda was a foreign and ultimately unwanted presence in Iraq, the Taliban's the home team in Afghanistan. Afghan tribesmen just don't share our interests. And Iraq's a state. Afghanistan's an accident.
Interestingly enough, my husband said the exact same thing this morning when I said I wanted to work on my Afghanistan post. Iraq had a history of being governed; Afghanistan doesn't. So what is our goal?
This very thing was discussed on the final panel at the Milblogs Conference this year. Bill Roggio, Andrew Exum, and Bill Nagle all kinda shrugged their shoulders and expressed an inability to decipher what the Obama administration's end goal is in Afghanistan. Even if you disagree with the shifting goals in Iraq, at least most people can articulate what they were: finding WMDs, bringing democracy, leaving Iraq with some sort of intact system of government. Can the layman come up with any proposed goal in Afghanistan? I can't, other than, um, kill al Qaeda?
And maybe that in itself is the goal. It is according to Ralph Peters:
But when does it end? Americans squawked that we had no "exit strategy" in Iraq, but holy cow, what is the exit strategy for a war of attrition? Then you're in GEN LeMay territory: "If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting." Do we stay in Afghanistan until every terrorist is dead? I don't think that is really a true goal, certainly not an attainable one.
And I don't even think that is the Obama goal, otherwise he would not be doing this:
"We are building an army they will never be able to afford," a senior U.S. military official told McClatchy.
I am by no means smart about these things. But it seems to me that we Americans are being naive about Afghanistan, even more naive than we were in Iraq.
This Michael Scheuer excerpt (via Amritas) rings true and worries me:
This, of course, has never occurred in the wake of a Western intervention in a Muslim country. Islam invariably becomes more, not less, important to the inhabitants of an invaded Muslim country, and while improvements in water, disease resistance, and schoolbooks are appreciated, they are not religiously transforming. We simply end up with Muslims who are better educated, healthier, and more militantly Islamic. This has happened in countries (Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and several of the Balkan states) and in prison camps; in Guantanamo Bay, for example, we are building a truly dedicated and virulently anti-U.S. mujahedin battalion, the members of which will have the best-cared-for teeth in the Islamic world. But through it all, U.S. and Western leaders, the UN, and untold numbers of NGO spokespersons continue to sell shopworn lies to Western electorates-that nation-building will yield secularists who will desire only to live in peace with their Western conquerors.
I think we project too much onto a people and culture we simply cannot grok. Our American mantra that all men desire to be free may just not apply. (Read The Places In Between if you want to be horrified by the Afghan midset.) And eight years into this clash, we still are making monumental and basic mistakes, even at the highest levels: US envoy Holbrooke just made an enormous cultural faux-pas. Afghanistan bloggers caught the gaff and flipped out; how is the "Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan under the Obama administration" making such mistakes while bloggers know better? (To echo J.G. Thayer and my husband, please show us that "smart diplomacy" and distinguish yourself from yokel Bush whenever you're ready.) How is it that my husband has arguments at work about the definitions of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, with the very people who are supposed to know the difference and carry it out? How can "experts" still be so under-educated and naive about something that's been going on for eight years?
I am murky about what I should hope for in Afghanistan. What are the benchmarks? What does success look like? What is my husband's role?
And how long will this take?
Steven den Beste a few days after 9/11: "The progress and spread of freedom worldwide will continue; this war won't end for centuries." [emphasis mine, because the enormity of that thought is horrifying]
I find the whole thing quite stressful, and I am not ready to send my husband to Afghanistan. I personally thought Iraq was the battle of the long war I could get behind. I am having a harder time working up the emotional investment this milspouse needs to send her husband off to fight.
I am not ready for my husband to join a new front in a war that won't end for centuries.
I meant to add this originally and forgot. I just wanted to put links to the blogs my husband's been reading that cover Afghanistan-related issues:
Ghosts of Alexander
Small Wars Journal
The Long War Journal
I probably need to start reading them too.
Now don't get me wrong, I am happy that Democrats are pointing out Obama's flaws. I did the same with Bush. (Oh, and that link is hilarious: Andrew Sullivan was a different man five years ago.) I encourage Democrats to speak out when their guy is not representing them. I want them to see Pres Obama for who he really is, not some blank slate they project onto.
But I find the "this isn't the change we could believe in" remorse to be amusing.
We saw the show six years ago when we were here, and it was clever: swashbuckling, cannon battles, proper action. But then someone at Treasure Island thought, "You know what this pirate show needs? Thongs." And now, it's a Britney Spears video with a pirate theme. Ugh.
However, it did end up being a good platform for some movie quote jokes. My husband worked in the following:
"They're gonna love him up and turn him into a horny toad."
"That's not pirates, that's ass."
"Let me guess, he fixes the cable?"
Dear Treasure Island: The addition of skanky girls does not automatically improve every single thing in Las Vegas. I'm just sayin'.
June 18, 2009
Rummy was right. Last night I encountered an unknown unknown, something I did not know I had never seen because the thought never crossed my mind. I didn't know what I was missing until I encountered it.
If you have never seen a contortionist pole dance, then you have no idea what you've never seen.
Zumanity was wicked cool.
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