August 28, 2004

GRAMMAR

Revelation: teaching something that's second nature is very hard.

This weekend I'm teaching a seminar called Grammar Review. Grammar is no big problem for me. I hardly ever have to stop to think about the rules. I generally can identify compound-complex sentences, comma splices, and subordinating conjunctions with ease, so that makes it really hard to teach it to someone who struggles. In planning for my class today, I allotted like 30 minutes for things that took us over an hour to actually accomplish because I completely misjudged how much time it would take people to catch on. And I think they all hate me and that the final exam I wrote is going to kick their butts. Whoops. Trial and error, I guess; it's the first time I've taught this class.

They're getting it, slowly, but we need eight weeks instead of two days.

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August 24, 2004

STATS

I had my first statistics class tonight.
I was practically bouncing out of my seat, I was so excited.

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August 23, 2004

BUSY

Every two months, there are two days where we work 11-hour shifts.
It's today and tomorrow, so there won't be much blogging.

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August 22, 2004

WON'T BACK DOWN

In the post I wrote the day my husband deployed, I mentioned the Johnny Cash version of "I Won't Back Down" that's in a commercial we love. It seems we're not the only ones who like that song; you can hear it during this slideshow on the First Infantry Division webpage.

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August 14, 2004

LAST

Kathleen A said that I don't take myself too seriously. I think that can be my focus for a while: until I find something I want to write about, I can just keep not taking myself seriously.

So without further ado...one of those stupid email forward things:

The Last...

Last cigarette: Never. I've never smoked in my life. I just don't get it.

Last alcoholic drink: A radler at dinner last night: Germans mix half beer and half lemonade, which I thought was disgusting when I first got here. It's grown on me though.

Last car ride: Last night, home from dinner with other wives, a British major, and a captain on R&R

Last kiss: Exactly six months ago today, when Blue 6 left

Last good cry: Two nights ago when I felt I had let LT A down by not visiting him at Landstuhl

Last library book: I'm too much of an "owner" to use the library -- I prefer to buy books so I can keep them forever. The last book I borrowed from a library would have to have been over two years ago in grad school.

Last book bought: Aztec, as a gift for one of my favorite old students (the one with the puppy) who is interested in the Aztecs and will be deploying soon for his second fun-filled year in Iraq.

Last book read: I just finished Dark Star Safari, which I may write about later.

Last movie seen in theaters: tried to go see Spiderman 2, but it was sold out. Before that...??? Starsky and Hutch, I think. It's been a while.

Last movie rented: Euro Trip, with friends. Silly, silly movie.

Last cuss word uttered: I have no idea. I haven't actually spoken a single word today, so I know it wasn't anything I said this morning.

Last beverage drank: apple juice

Last food consumed: honey nut cheerios

Last crush: I've been accused by Blue 6 of having a crush on nearly every Soldier I meet. They're all so wonderful.

Last phone call: my mother-in-law: we both got phone calls from my husband yesterday.

Last TV show watched: Happy Days, of course. That's all I watch on TV here.

Last time showered: as of now? yesterday morning. Soon to be repeated.

Last shoes worn: rainbow flip flops

Last CD played: the mix I made for Tim when I went to visit him in Frankfurt

Last item bought: a get-well card for LT A. Actually, not a get-well card, because all of them suck. They're all like "ah, you have a cold? You'll be better in no time" and are completely inappropriate. I had to buy a card that was actually listed under Miss You -- Kids. There is a line of military greeting cards here, but they only have "congrats on your promotion" and "you're retiring"; they need to branch out.

Last download: some new security update for Yahoo messenger

Last annoyance: Yesterday at work was like the Day of Bad Customers. People who want you to fill all of their paperwork out for you because they're too lazy to do it alone. People who show up right at closing time and make me stay 30 min late. People who never turned in financial aid paperwork and then expect a Pell Grant to materialize out of thin air when they register. All sorts of problems and drama.

Last disappointment: Thursday my husband was online and I missed him by six minutes.

Last soda drank: Pepsi One at work yesterday

Last thing written: my Friday Iraq Letters: Blue 6, Red 6, LT A, my brother-in-law, and my friend's husband

Last words spoken: Like I said, I haven't said anything today. It would've been saying goodbye when I got off the phone with my mother-in-law last night.

Last ice cream eaten: one of those mini Snickers bar ice cream treats

Last chair sat in: our brand new computer chair that I bought for my husband for his birthday

Last webpage visited: heh. The Iraq War Was Wrong site linked from LGF, where I found this list. I have no idea what it has to do with the Iraq war though. (And I really can't believe this person compared invading Iraq to hacky-sacking indoors. That site has to be a joke, right?)

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August 13, 2004

UPDATE

I finally heard an update on LT A last night. He's improving, and they're probably going to move him home to the hospital at Fort Lewis in the near future. However, he still has a long recovery ahead of him. But at least he is awake and he knows everyone is pulling for him.

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August 12, 2004

FRENCH

Maybe I could use my French in Tunisia!

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August 11, 2004

LT A

More information about our friend, via my Mama.

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August 09, 2004

WORTH IT

Seeing Fahrencrap 9/11 was a complete waste of time...until today. My German co-worker walked into the office this morning and triumphantly slapped a movie brochure on my desk. "I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 this weekend, and if you saw it there's no way you'd vote for Bush." Thank goodness I could respond, "I have seen the movie, and I most certainly will still be voting for Bush. You're crazy if you think that movie is going to change my mind." Took the wind right out of her sail. "You've seen it? Oh." Boo-yah.

MORE TO GROK:

Heh, check the comments section; my husband cracks me up. As time goes on, I grow more and more amazed that he ever gave me the time of day. I'm the luckiest person in the world.

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August 08, 2004

WEBCAM

Our boys just got a new computer room on their camp, complete with webcams. I got to see my husband for the first time since our anniversary. He looked great! (I got to see the dimples too.) And he flashed the camera around the room so I could see everyone else there and also what the set-up is like on his camp. It was great. Incidentally, I thought when I looked at him that he looked really dirty. Turns out, according to Red 6, that he's actually just extremely tanned. But only on his head and hands, of course. Ha.

I'm going to buy a webcam of my own this afternoon so he can see me too. I'd better take a shower first...

MORE TO GROK:

Got to see Red 6 today too! Awesome. What a difference seeing someone's smile can make.

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August 07, 2004

MISSING

I was going to sit down and write another letter to my husband, but I thought I'd write it here instead of on paper...

I've been feeling very sentimental today. Maybe it's because we're a week shy of the six month mark, or maybe it's because LT A's injury has made me feel how precious lives are, but I'm feeling mushy today. I miss him a lot.

I miss his dimples. I miss the way he always adjusts the elastic on his jogging shorts. I miss his exasperated pleas for me to stop talking and go to bed. I miss cutting his hair, even though it turns into a bi-weekly argument. I miss the way he always makes my rum and cokes too strong. I miss when he begs for me to make the entire box of crab rangoon. I miss his encyclopaedic knowledge of history and geography. I miss making him waffles. I miss seeing him sitting in front of the computer trying to get his Arabic pronunciation absolutely perfect. I miss driving him to the motor pool at 0400 only to find he's forgotten his wallet at home. I miss his foul mouth. I miss dancing to the Old 97s while I make dinner. I miss the smell of motor pool and tank on all of his clothes. I miss finding his beret all over the house. I miss when he shyly comes to my work at lunch to ask if I need anything. I miss the way he hugs me tight and kisses my forehead.

We're half-way done.

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August 06, 2004

DISRESPECT

My belief system affects everything I do in my life. My values shine through in every conversation and circumstance, and I think it's very important for people to have shared values, "common ground" as I normally call it. If I don't share basic assumptions and values with someone, we can still be friends, but in the back of my mind I'll always know that all of our ground isn't quite common. I'm not a person who can easily set my beliefs aside and become close friends with someone I fundamentally disagree with.

That said, when someone needs my help or reaches out for emotional support, all of that goes out the window. No matter my feelings towards the person, if he is suffering or upset then I will do what I can to try to make him feel better. Even if I did have I-told-you-sos echoing in my head, I wouldn't bring them up in his time of need. There's a time and a place for everything.

There's a time and a place for political debate and arguing, and there are times when it's 100% inappropriate. When Daily Kos said "Screw 'em" when the contractors were killed in Fallujah, that was unequivocally inappropriate. When that crazy DU lady said "I hope the bloodshed continues in Iraq", that was clearly inappropriate. And when dc used my friend's injuries as a springboard for talking about "deceit" and "lies", that was wholly inappropriate as well.

You see, our friend LT A wants to be in the military more than anything, so much so that the other OBC guys sometimes worried he was a little too hooah. LT A's father went through unspeakable horrors in Vietnam and stayed in the Army to retire as an LTC, and all LT A wanted to do was follow in his father's honorable footsteps. He never questioned his role in this war, even when two of his soldiers died in his arms the first week they were in Iraq. I imagine he would be mighty pissed off to hear someone tell him that he is "trapped in a lie".

Last night dc should have put partisan bickering aside for five minutes and let me worry in peace. A simple "I hope your friend is OK" would have been fitting, as would reverent silence have been. Instead, in the moment when I most needed someone to hold my hand, dc chose to give me an indian burn instead.

I don't know how to ban someone, but you're no longer welcome here, dc. I have tolerated your dissenting views for a long time now, but you stepped over the line last night. I am a person, dc, not just pixels on a computer, and you've disrespected my feelings. It's not politics when I talk about my injured friend; it's emotional and personal. Please don't comment anymore.


LT A is stable, and they should be moving him to Germany any time now. His wife will be on her way as soon as she gets the go-ahead, and I will meet them at Landstuhl early Saturday morning. I'm anxious to give her a big hug, as well as a gentle little one for LT A.

Thank you to all who are thinking of him...


UPDATE:

Seems now they're sending him right on to Walter Reed. More info when I know it.

UPDATE II:

I did some detective work and called Landstuhl hospital. I got to leave a message for LT A with the ICU desk, so hopefully they can pass it on to him before they move him back to the States...

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August 05, 2004

WOUNDED

I just learned that one of our good friends was critically wounded in Iraq yesterday. I'm sure he could use our thoughts and prayers...

MORE TO GROK:

Here's a harrowing account of the firefight he was in. One of the commenters was right -- he couldn't have been hit with an RPG -- but he was the Soldier hit in the stomach during the battle.

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August 04, 2004

ANECDOTES

I'm scared of old spaghetti sauce. When I was a kid I ate some spaghetti sauce that had been in the refrigerator for way too long, and I got so sick. So yesterday when I was eying the Ragu that I had opened on Saturday, I did what every kid does when she comes across a dilemma: call mom. Mom said she thought it would be OK, so I ate it. And I was sick all night. I don't think I made the situation any better today when I started eating my cereal and noticed that the milk was not quite right. Check the carton: it's a few days too old too. My poor stomach.

Last night I came across a new word in Dark Star Safari. Often I read words and can't quite remember the definition, but it's pretty rare that I find a word that I've never seen before. So I looked it up, and I'm not surprised I had never heard the word detumescent before. I'm fairly certain it was not present on our high school vocabulary tests.

MORE:

Dang, I just came across another new word online: jeremiad. Just when I start to think I'm getting smarter...

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August 03, 2004

UPDATE

I got an email today from Spirit of America with an update on the sewing centers in Iraq:

Two new sewing centers have opened - one in Ramadi and one Habbaniyah.
The Marines helped refurbish the building and Spirit of America
provided the sewing machines being used in the centers. The Centers
provide women with a way to make money and improve their standard of
living. They also offer a safe place to meet to discuss women's issues
and day care for the women's children.
...
Major General Jim Mattis - Commanding General of the 1st Marine
Division - emailed us about our donation of sewing machines saying,
"The sewing centers are getting good use and more are planned. We
should see a lot of very beneficial impact as the word of these
spread. While the first one in Ramadi is well attended, I am
surprised at even greater anticipated use in smaller, less affluent
areas. I guess I should have forecast that, but we will look at our
roll-out plan and make sure that we have targeted the future centers
for the greatest good based on what we are seeing. Thank you and your
team again. Semper Fi, Jim"

There are photos of the ribbon cutting in Ramadi and Habbaniyah. I'm so proud we could be part of such an event; thanks to all who donated with me!

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COMPUTER

OK, so it turns out that I don't have a virus on my computer, but I had a laughable amount of spyware and junk. Hard part's over, right? We just set up the router and download Norton's Antivirus and we're golden? Wrong. Oh so wrong.

The router won't work. We plugged it all in, unplugged it, over and over. Not working. And I don't want to go into opsec details (even though it's a good story), but I ended up with stuff on my computer that the Army wouldn't be happy I had, and it took us hours to try to get rid of it. All in all we spent four hours with a net gain of very little. Sigh. But I sure learned a lot, watching my friend mess around in DOS after trying to remove parts of the Army's business accidentally wrecked Windows.

It reminded me of the time my dad thought he could outsmart Bill Gates and install Windows 95 on top of Windows 3.0. Or, as he renamed it, Jindows 3.0. Ha, didn't work. It was good for a couple hours of entertainment though. Or at least it was better than watching soccer.

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August 02, 2004

BIRTHDAY

thebaby.jpg

Happy Birthday to my husband, the cutest baby born in 1980.
I love you, Blue 6.

UPDATE:

And after 13 days of no communication, I just got to instant messenger with him! My family has a tradition of singing a silly birthday song, so I got to type-sing it to him and changed the words to make them about Iraq. He seemed to think it was pretty funny. "So, has anything happened in the world in the past two weeks?" he asked; I didn't have enough time to even scratch the surface.

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