Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

For the first time in my almost 27 years, I am actually seeing Memorial Day as something other than the last long weekend before summer. I never remember really realizing what it meant. Even last year.

But since then, Memorial Day has gotten a personal touch. People who have died in war are no longer names I first hear upon their deaths. My friend lost her husband in Iraq. And Big Windy lost five soldiers. And today I have spent some time looking at pictures and remembering those guys, and all the others who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I don't think Memorial Day will be "just a three-day weekend" for me ever again.

Two Hot European Chicks versus Paris Hilton

I was hesitating about linking this commercial here, because it might be offensive to some. Axe is known for its provocative, but funny TV commercials. (To watch the clip, you must click on "hier" and then on the next page click on the blue rectangle, the next page asks you if you want to watch it in a small or large version).

I first saw this clip a few weeks ago we a friend. We were just watching it bug-eyed with gaping mouths and then burst into laughter afterwards. It's really interesting to see what is "allowed" in Europe. And I was wondering if a commercial like this would be allowed in the States...but then I remembered the Paris Hilton car wash ad.

Personally, I think Axe's ad is way better than the Paris Hilton's Carl's Jr. commercial, which was just basically soft porn, and makes no sense.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Are these guys nuts?

If I were living next to North Korea, the last thing I would would do is protest for the withdrawal of the 32,500 U.S. troops stationed in my country.

My boyfriend was stationed in South Korea when he first joined the Army, and he also mentioned to me that the younger generation and the old generation have completely different views on the American military presence there. He said the younger generation was almost under the impression that the only reason there were any hostilities between the two Koreas was because of American involvement, and if the American military was to leave, both Koreas could co-exist peacefully, whereas the older generation was still very thankful for the American presence.

Esperanto, the Aggressor Language

This is an interesting little tidbit about the use of Esperanto as the langauge of a fictitious nation created by the Army to serve as an opponent in training exercises in the 1960's.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

For those of you who miss Sgt. Hook...

...there is a new Hooker in the 'Stan. He's not a replacement per se for Sgt. Hook, but Sieg will quench your thirst for Chinook pics and accounts of missions.

He has some great pics and video footage of missions, including a fly-by of the ruins at Bamiyan of the Buddah statues destroyed by the Taliban, and an amazing Chinook landing to pick-up troops.

Their unit is also continuing Sgt. Hook's Operation Shoe Fly (someone needs to update that site with new pics), and Sieg has a few pics from that too.

By the way, the new mailing address for Operation Shoe Fly (if you want to send shoes directly to the unit) is:

Operation ShoeFly
F159th Aviation Regiment
APO AE 09354-9998

And last not but not least, I had to sneak in a pic of my man flying, doing his best Zoolander impression: it's "Blue Steele"...he's still working on his "Magnum." (Thanks, Ed!)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Blackfive's Picture of the Week!

Just saw this pic at Blackfive's and my heart swelled with pride. That's one of the Chinooks from my boyfriend's unit.

This really burns my toast!

I read this article and it makes me seethe. A non-US citizen mother is being denied membership in the American Gold Star Mothers' organization, because the organization requires US citizenship for membership.

"We can't go changing the rules every time we turn around," said Herd, the national president. "When we have problems within our organization with people not abiding by the rules, we just get it straightened out, we don't change the rules."

Well, maybe the rule is stupid.

Hopefully the Gold Star Mothers will listen to their past president, and change the rule:

A past president of the mothers' group, Dorothy Oxendine, of Farmingdale, said, "There's no discrimination in a national cemetery. There's no discrimination when they get killed side by side. So how can we discriminate against a mother?"

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I'm It!

Teresa is playing tag and I'm it!

1) Total number of films I own on DVD/video:
Um…I think I am majorly uncool: I own 3 films of DVD…and they aren’t even good films…they are cheesey cheap films. I usually just rent.

2) The last film I bought:
Pumping Iron for my Dad for Xmas. Arnold is Numero Uno! Update: Oh, wait, I just remembered that I have been sending DVDs downrange for my soldier...can't say what the last one was yet, because he hasn't yet received it. But the one before was: The Girl Next Door, Unrated Version (yes...I am a GREAT girlfriend).

3) The last film I watched:
Ray…awesome movie Jamie Foxx deserved every award he got for that performance.

4) Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in noparticular order):

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – I love all Raold Dahl books…and the movie was fabulous. We watched it as kids all the time, and of course have it on DVD now. My brothers also nicknamed me Veruca Salt. But I can’t wait until the new Johnny Depp version comes out!

Legally Blonde – I love the whole just because you like pink, have blonde hair, and tend to be incredibly fashionable…doesn’t mean you’re stupid theme (I was a huge “Clueless” fan too…this is the Clueless for 20-somethings).

The Incredibles – When I was watching it, I was thinking: does anyone else realize that this is a total propaganda film for “conservative” values? I love that movie!

Team America - Just because the movie is gross, funny, irreverant and intelligent all at the same time.

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind – A great movie about love and relationships. There was one scene where Clementine is complaining that Joel doesn’t talk enough and he responds: “Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating.” And the movie is full of little gems like that.

5) Tag 5 people and have them put this in their journal:

The Girl

Spectrum of feelings

When someone leaves you for a time period, there is this whole spectrum of feelings:

1. There is the time before the departure, when you anticipate the pain that will be felt once they are no longer physically present in your daily life.
2. Then there is the actual gut wrenching departure.
3. Then there is the getting used to them being gone, but still aching about them having left.
4. And then finally there is the excitement about them returning.
5. And then the exuberance when they are finally back.

So, if we assume that someone is going to be gone for 12 months, would it be strange to already be in Stage 4 after a mere three months?

I am just so excited about my boyfriend coming back…and yes, I know he has only been gone 12 weeks, not 12 months yet. I can’t explain it, but I am on Cloud 9 now thinking about all the things that I am looking forward to doing with him when he returns.

I don’t know where the sudden euphoria is coming from, but I have had it for at least two weeks now. I think it was perhaps because I was so scared about this deployment, and so afraid of how it was going to affect our relationship. But since I have the feeling that our relationship has only gotten stronger since he left, perhaps now I am just giddy with excitement to see what the future holds for us. The deployment was like a huge bridge to cross (okay, we are still crossing it, but it’s not as treacherous as I had imagined, and I know I will be able to reach the other side now).

However, I fully expect it to dip again into Stage 3. Somehow I am thinking that the closer I get to the end, the more unbearable the separation will be. Then the days and hours will slow down to the speed of molasses.

But for the time being, I am already dreaming of the reunion ceremony…and he hasn’t even come back for R&R yet!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Cheating on My Boyfriend

My boyfriend is "just" a pilot. Don't get me wrong, helicopter pilots are real sexy...I mean, to watch those huge machines defy gravity, and some of the landings they's impressive. But when it comes to combat, despite inserting infantry troops into certain areas, they mostly have a view from the sidelines. Thus, I never get any really good American Hero stories from I have to cheat on him, and find those stories elsewhere.

I found this story via Toni:

Yesterday was nuts. The day began early, with a coordinated attack from two car bombs, a suicide bomber, mortars and small arms fire. We were hit from two sides, simultaneously, as car bombs breached our perimeter, rattled our compound, and a suicide bomber attempted to make it through the breach. Mortars and small arms fire from the opposite side of our Patrol Base complimented the wave of suicide fighters.

Almost none of us were fully dressed. Many were wearing nothing more than shorts, aside from their body armor and helmet. I was wearing flip-flops, a t-shirt, and pants. One Soldier was wearing one boot, one flip-flop, knee pads, and shorts. A few were only wearing their boxers, body armor and helmet. There was every combination of shorts, boots, flip-flops, t-shirts, and boxers being worn.

This story is reminiscent of the how the Kentucky National Guard MPs rebuffed their ambush a few weeks back. It's a great account, humorous and feel-good (only if, of course, no US soldiers wounded and a few Anti-Iraqi Forces dead is feel-good for you).

My favorite part is about the battalion commander's pride:

Yesterday, after the attack, he rushed down here again, to survey the scene. I have never seen anybody so happy. We had thwarted the enemy attack that he worried about more than any other and we suffered no casualties. I do not think he stopped smiling, from the time that he entered the Patrol Base, until the time that he left. It seemed that he could not pat enough backs and shake enough hands. His hands must have been red and tender as he left, and his throat must have been hoarse from telling Soldiers how proud he was of their performance.

It's a good read, and it made my day!

Note to Boyfriend: Don't worry, you are still my biggest hero!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Why we shouldn’t send more troops to Iraq

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I was always wary of the idea of “bringing democracy” somewhere. You can’t just import democracy along with cell phones, lap tops and Nike shoes. Democracy is something that takes root and grows, and under the most favorable conditions it can flourish, but under poor conditions it can shrivel up and die. And the only thing that America, as occupiers in Iraq, can do, is make the conditions as favorable as possible.

However, what are favorable conditions to democracy? Surely being afraid for one’s life isn’t favorable to making plans for a new government. I think that there are more pressing issues on people’s minds now than who will occupy which ministry.

There is a war going on. I think definitely one of the biggest mistakes Bush made was his “Mission Accomplished” moment. Everyone was lulled into a false sense of security, and then things starting get bad. Apparently no one ever told certain factions that the war was over. And until they stop fighting, it isn’t. Plain and simple. However, I believe that an essential part of starting a democratic movement, is that everyone has to fight this war. Not just the Americans versus the terrorists.

From the beginning there was anti-American sentiment. Quite understandably so, too.

During the invasion of Normandy in the summer of 1944 over 12,000 French civilians died in the 3 months after the invasion, mostly through aerial bombing. And those who survived were living in the total devastation left by the invasion: complete herds of cattle were also wiped out by Allied bombing campaigns. The Americans weren’t exactly immediately popular in the French countryside. It was a bitter “liberation” for Normandy’s civilian population. They had learned to live with their German occupiers, and now their lives were being completely destroyed.

Similarly the chaos that filled the vaccum of power in Iraq was even worse that living under the predictable oppression and violence of Saddam. Riverbend wrote:

The ride that took 20 minutes pre-war Iraq, took 45 minutes today. There were major roads completely cut off by tanks. Angry troops stood cutting off access to the roads around the palaces (which were once Saddam’s but are now America’s palaces). The cousin and E. debated alternative routes at every checkpoint or roadblock. I stayed silent because I don’t even know the city anymore. Now, areas are identified as “the one with the crater where the missile exploded”, or “the street with the ravaged houses”, or “the little house next to that one where that family was killed”. […]

Most of the gangs, at least the ones in Baghdad, originate from slums on the outskirts of the city. ‘Al-Sadir City’ is a huge, notorious slum with a population of around 1.5 million. The whole place is terrifying. If you lose a car or a person, you will most likely find them there. Every alley is controlled by a different gang and weapons are sold in the streets… they’ll even try out that machinegun you have your eye on, if you pay enough. Americans don’t bother raiding the houses in areas like that… raids are exclusively for decent people who can’t shoot back or attack. Raids are for the poor people in Ramadi, Ba’aquba and Mosul.

This was the sentiment of many in Iraq. No matter how bad the terrorists were, the root of the problem was seen as the American invasion. America was responsible for the chaos. And that is true. However, how do you create a democracy with that atmosphere “Iraqis problems were America’s fault?” Instead of focusing their dissent on the actual perpetrators, Iraqis were focusing on those who shook the hornets’ nest. And instead of doing something about it, they were waiting for America to do something about it.

Just like any other army, the insurgents understand the power of propaganda. Support is very important for militaries. For every soldier on the front lines, there are 7-9 soldiers supporting him with logistics, maitenance, food etc. And this is no different with the insurgents in Iraq. Funding comes through many channels, donations from other countries, kidappings, and sometimes just in kind, like when insurgents are given free lodging and food somewhere, or when a doctor comes to their aid.

The insurgents also have to recruit for their armies, just like every other army does. How do they do this? Well, there are two different kinds of recruits: the first are just paid mercenaries, that perform tasks in exchange for money, and the second kind are “true believers,” who believe they are fighting a jihad. They join the terrorists with a desire to either kill Americans and their collaborators and/or to become martyrs for their cause. The latter type of recruits currently among the ranks of the terrorists come from all over the Middle East, not to mention Chechnya and a few other hot-beds for Islamic terrorist groups. These fighters view the insurgency as a glorious thing, as protecting Muslims and fighting for an Iraq without infidel influences.

The whole structure of the insurgency depends on a certain amount of popular support. They need areas where they can safely build car bombs. They need recruits who will gladly give their lives detonating such bombs.

Morale is very important in all militaries, but moreso in insurgencies. And if morale is down, there will be a domino effect running through the whole structure of the terrorist organisations.

And there are two big factors affecting morale: one is military victories or losses, and second is public support.

Mercenaries fight for money. Soldiers are fighting for someone or something, and if they see that their services aren’t appreciated, they lose momentum.

So right now, the insurgency is having a lot of “victories.” There are daily reports out of Iraq of car bombs killing 20+ people. However, with each other these attacks they lose more and more public support.

A friend of mine who served in Iraq said to me “I want you to know what is mean to bring peace to a country, armed with a machine gun.” Soldiers are warriors. I am amazed by what they can do as they take over civil affairs roles in Iraq, but they are still first and foremost warriors. Their job is to keep themselves and their fellow soldiers alive, and to continue the mission of apprehending suspects. The US occupation of Iraq is not a nice and gentle thing.

Many military vehicles today are built with two things in mind: first and foremost: safetly of the passengers, and secondly, destruction of enemy elements. Strykers, tanks, and Bradleys are big vehicles. Vehicles that weren’t necessarily supposed to be going down urban Iraqi roads. And every day there are incidences of a military vehicle clipping another car, either just scratching it, or sometimes completely destroying it. Sometimes there are passengers in that car, sometimes not. This results in a lot of damaged property and sometimes death.

Because of raids, soldiers sometimes need to close off certain areas, rolling concertina wire across the street blocking traffic in those streets for hours at end. Check points are also an annoyance that can also quickly turn deadly if the driver doesn’t abide by the check-point rules for whatever reasons.

Sending more troops would make the occupation more oppressive and more deadly. And although it would reduce the terrorist victories, it would increase passive public support for those fighting the occupational forces in Iraq. It is something that would work well in the short term, but not in the long term.

Am I heartless for saying that things will get worse before they get better? Perhaps. Perhaps it is a lot easier for me to say this, sitting comfortably in Germany, secure with the knowledge that no one is going to blow up me or anyone I know tomorrow. Perhaps this emotional distance allows me such an opinion. Perhaps, were I an Iraqi, living in Iraq, I would have much more real problems on my hands, like survival, and wouldn’t be so willing to martyr myself for an American ideal of democracy. Like Salem Pax wrote in his blog in May of 2003:

Let me tell you one thing first. War sucks big time. Don’t let yourself ever be talked into having one waged in the name of your freedom. Somehow when the bombs start dropping or you hear the sound of machine guns at the end of your street you don’t think about your “imminent liberation” anymore.

But I am sure that those who died in Normandy, military and civilians, weren’t too excited about their prospects either. But we owe them all a lot today. And perhaps in the future, Iraqis will look back at their Greatest Generation with respect and pride, too.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Day America Died: Newsweek tops itself

Just when you thought Newsweek couldn't possibly get any worse...they do. As if the Koran flushing story wasn't bad enough, now Newsweek has this cover on their Japanese edition...did they think it was going to slip by unnoticed?

According to a Little Green Footballs reader the text says: “The Day America Died — The ideal of ‘freedom’ falls to the ground due to Bush continuing in office.”

I believe in the freedom of the press, however, when you are trying to repair your credibility as an agendless/objective magazine, this perhaps wouldn't be the best course of action.

The Golden Arches shining from Space?

Technology always boggles my mind. I am always amazed when I get into an airplane and it takes off, when I see footage of helicopters flying, when I see my boyfriend on a webcam, and I even still marvel at how clearly I can hear my mother when she calls me on the phone. And this article at CNN was no exception to my fascination:

"outsized billboards deployed by a space company into low Earth orbit could appear as large as the moon and be seen without a telescope."

But I am glad that the Federal Aviation Administration is proposing to amend its regulations to ensure that it can enforce a law that prohibits "obtrusive" advertising in zero gravity. I wonder what they are going to categorize as obtrusive. I can't imagine how weird it would be to look up into the sky and see the Pepsi logo shining like a star.

Taking advantage of my boyfriend's kindness

I spent the weekend at my boyfriend’s place. That’s one of the benefits of my man being gone for a year: I have a second residence. I call it my place in the countryside. He lives in a cute little German farming community, and his landlords are just darling. It’s always a pleasure going there, and being able to roam through his apartment, since I just have a small studio in the city.

Also he has loads of amenities that I can only dream of: like a washer and dryer. I have to lug my stuff to the laundrymat. So when I go to his place, I inevitably bring loads and loads of laundry. This time was no exception: I took one huge duffel bag and my backpacking rucksack containing bed sheets, towels, and clothes. The whole weekend long the washer and dryer were going. And Sunday I packed everything back into the bags, and loaded everything into the car.

I also took his toaster (mine is broken and he told me I could use his since he won’t be needing it for the whole year) and an extra Camelback he had lying around, since I can use it when I go running. And I just hoped his landlords weren’t looking out the window right then, otherwise they were going to think that I was clearing out his apartment.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Another soldier spoof video

Another soldier video, this time a spoof video of the song (Is This The Way To) Amarillo performed by British Royal Dragoon Guards in Iraq. The British seriously have a great sense of humor.

I also saw this at Blackfive and thought I would link it: a journalist would like to write about the sons and daughters of Vietnam vets who are fighting in the War on Terror, and she is looking for soldiers to profile.


I met a friend for coffee earlier in the week. She was very excited, because she was flying today to Washington, DC, to visit her boyfriend for two weeks; he is living there for two years, researching for his doctorate. She hasn’t seen him since February. I couldn’t help, but get excited for her too, when she started bubbling about how she was wondering what she was going to wear, and what earrings, etc.

In a few months that will be me, too. I am going to get all excited about the moment of reunion: the butterflies in my stomach, my cheeks flushing, and hopefully not just turning into a bawling baby once I see him.

A few months before he deployed, the unit had a month of field training, and he was gone for over a month…which now seems like nothing. But at the time, one whole month, without seeing him, without knowing what was going on, and with minimal contact, was extremely difficult. And when we saw each other again after that one month, we were both almost…well, shy. I can remember sitting in the car with him, on the drive home from the train station, and just turning to him and the drama queen in me blurting out: “Oh my Gawd! How is it going to be after one year?” And we talked about what it was going to be like (I laugh at this now, because we had probably only been together barely 5 months, but we were talking about something that was about 16 months into the future). He said that everyone has butterflies in their stomachs, even the couples who have been married for years.

The butterflies are exciting. Today I will be thinking about my friend, about her arriving at Dulles International, walking through immigration and customs, and the anticipation growing, and finally passing through those doors to the greeting hall, and seeing her boyfriend, and those few awkward moments of hugging and tripping over each other in excitement. And I look forward to my future moments of awkwardness too.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What we are fighting for...

There are a plethora of "What We are Fighting For" posts on blogs, all more or less convincing in their argumentation. I found this one by Firepower 5 to be humorous, while also discussing something near and dear to my heart:

I can’t begin to describe the hypocrisy that I see in statements that imply that the American society as a whole can legally imbibe in alcoholic beverages and download pornography from the internet to their heart’s content and still be trusted to act as a decent and responsible member of society while a soldier or Marine can not be trusted to view printed material that is veritably puritan in comparison to what’s available on the rack in any corner convenience store, without succumbing to some Mr. Hyde transformation into a rapist.

No, pornography isn't near and dear to my heart, but treating soldiers like children just irks me. Some may argue that many younger soldiers need that direction, however I find some of the regulations they have for soldiers to be really insulting: i.e. we are entrusting our safety in you, but we don't really trust you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Feeling military"

Honestly, I really don’t know the military lifestyle that well. I have attended maybe three Hail and Farewells, one military ball, and a few other get-togethers. And I have always been there just as an extension of my boyfriend. I have never gone to anything without him.

However, since he has deployed, I really “feel military.”

When people who aren’t in the military ask how I am holding up, and is the deployment hard, I want to answer: yes, it is hard. It’s hard to try and live for today, when your thoughts are constantly on a time in the future, like R&R and the end of the deployment. And then a looming cloud that you avoid: future deployments. Right now, the focus is just this deployment. And all the great and exciting things you are going to do when he comes back. But what about today? What about my life in the here and now? That is truly a daily battle for me.

It’s hard not to worry about his safety. Coupling last month’s deadly crash and the fact that he is flying almost daily, in not the best of conditions…well, that makes for a deadly cocktail of worry and uncertainty.

But I don’t always tell people that. I feel a need to project a positive image.

Last night I phoned with a friend in the States, with whom I hadn’t talked in a while. She asked how my boyfriend was doing. And then I mentioned the crash. And my voice started to change a little, like it does before I start to cry. And I tried to ignore it. And I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. And I hoped she didn’t hear it. I didn’t want her to feel sorry for me. I don’t want to be seen as weak, and I don’t want to be seen as a victim. Just as my boyfriend made a choice to join the military, I made a choice to be with him. So, even though I wanted to tell her how it feels, I sometimes hold myself back, because I don’t want pity.

And I don’t want anyone to say that my boyfriend is just a pawn on the playing field in someone else’s game. And that I am a pawn by extension, too. He made the choice to be a soldier, knowing full well what his responsibilities were. When I met my boyfriend, I knew he was a soldier, and respected him making such a career choice. And I made a conscious decision to be with him. I didn’t know what my future had in store, (and I still don’t). But I knew that I wanted to be with him, not in spite of him being a soldier, but partly because he was one, too.

Update: I just had to link to Sarah's post today, about the perspective military life gives you. (And I am soooo glad she's back. I missed her grokking.)

My Theory of Relativity

Einstein once said:

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

Well, I have a new version:

When you are waiting for your boyfriend to come home for R&R, the months just creep by. When you are writing your thesis, and only have until your boyfriend is coming home on R&R, suddenly that time starts zipping by.

Yesterday I put in the application for my thesis. Next week I will get a letter making it all official, and then the clock starts ticking. Officially I have until the end of September, but I have to finish it by the end of August, if I want to make it into the winter semester exam session, which starts in November.

And every time I think how hard this all is, I just think how I would rather be writing my thesis and preparing for exams, than living for a year in huts in Afghanistan. Now, that is relativity.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Oh this is rich!

Riots spread across Afghanistan and Pakistan last week, incited by a Newsweek story reporting on alleged Qur'an desecration at Guatanamo Bay. But guess what? Now they are saying they might have been wrong about it. But hey, at least they apologized, right?:

But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

That's an insult?

At about 4am this morning, after drinking entirely too much beer, I was eating gyros with a friend inside of a fast-food place. Her husband was outside with some friends joking around. A customer comes in, I would guess a Moroccan, and asks the guy running the place if "his friend" is there, and the fast-food guy seems annoyed and says, no.

The guy sees us, two girls hunched together eating our gyros, and he comes over and asks us if we want some coke or grass, or whatever else he had. When we declined his kind offer, he started getting a little aggressive, saying he was just trying to make some money, and basically, I guess, trying to guilt-trip us into buying his wares. By this time, my friend's husband had seen the commotion and came in to tell the guy to take a hike. The guy was annoyed at being told to clear off, and started swearing at my friend's husband, and calling him *gasp* "uncircumcised." I have no idea whether my friend's husband is circumcised or not, but it was kind of like when Dr. Evil sets his ransom at "one million dollars" and cackles away wickedly, while everyone else just looks on in puzzled amusement.

So now I am a little less culturally centric for it: I know that in certain places in the world, calling someone "uncircumcised" is bad. So, if I ever want to really insult some Northern Africans, I know what to say. Hope that never comes in handy, though.

Another funny video

I have seen some of the videos that American soldiers make, and they can be pretty funny...but this one has got to be the best in the "bored soldier" genre yet. And I am thinking that Norwegian NATO soldiers are pretty cool. It's a music video spoofing the old 80s hit Kokomo...the lyrics are pretty damn good, too.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Insanity and Separation

A few days ago a friend came over, and said he had read a quote that day that made him think of me. And I agreed. So far, I haven't been able to find an English translation, so you will have to do with my translation of it:

"In jeder großen Trennung liegt ein Keim von Wahnsinn; man muss sich hüten, ihn nachdenklich auszubrüten und zu pflegen." - ("Maximen und Reflexionen")- Goethe

CaliValleyGirl's rough translation: In every large separation lies a germ of insanity; one must take care not to incubate and tend for it with contemplation.

When someone is so far away, it is so easy to reflect too much and effectively drive yourself nuts. I always have to catch myself from wandering down that road.

Goethe was one smart guy.

Secret Single Behavior during my boyfriend's deployment

Any Sex and the City fan should recognize that title. If I were majoring in some subject that might allow it, I would do my masters on how Sex and the City is the modern woman’s Bible. I would do a comparison of parables in the Bible to episodes of SATC. Often when discussing issues with friends, I will refer to episodes in SATC for advice. For example, when one friend was lamenting about a guy not calling her back, and tying to find reasons, I just said, “hey, he’s just not that into you.” (Episode 78).

Or the constant debate between what kind of man is better, a Mr. Big or an Aidan. These two names have become synonymous with flashy, styling rich guy or down-to-Earth, caring nice guy. My best friend and I were constantly arguing about this. And then when Carrie cheated on Aidan with Mr. Big…oh, that broke my heart. I really didn’t like her much afterwards or even have much pity for any of her crises, my reaction was like that of an impatient mother: “well, see that’s what you get for letting go of a perfectly nice man.”

My favorite was Miranda. She was the most “normal” of the four. And at the end, she had the most “normal” life.

I digress, the point of this post is about Episode 61: “The Good Fight”:

As Aidan and all his stuff officially move into Carrie's apartment, Carrie starts feeling increasingly claustrophobic. Carrie complains to the girls that without any private space, she can't indulge in SSB or "secret single behavior." Carrie panics when she finds out that she and Aidan won't be able to take over the apartment next door for another month.

When Aidan proposes cleaning out her closet, she panics even more. As she watches Aidan move her precious Manolos and designer garb and when Pete starts gnawing on one of her stilettos, a heated argument ensues.

After much yelling, Carrie storms out with her laptop and wonders: When it comes to relationships, what are we fighting for? Carrie and Aidan's silent war lasts three days without any apologies. Carrie finally apologizes to Aidan and confesses that she needs him to not talk to her for one whole hour. He agrees but after a minute she returns to him, realizing that sometimes when you get your needs met, you don't need them anymore.

Now tell me that doesn’t sound like a parable in the Bible.

Anyways, I definitely have Secret Single Behavior. Okay, obviously it’s not that secret otherwise I wouldn’t be putting it on my blog, but it’s behavior I allow myself when my boyfriend isn’t around. Basically, it could be called, my Secret Slob Behavior: like letting the dishes pile up in my sink, because I can. Or…Eating sour candy for dinner, until I practically have raw skin in my mouth…

Or my personal favorite, renting DVDs and just watching all episodes in a row. I love doing that. I mean, I watched the whole Band of Brothers series in a weekend. And I would be watching until 4 am sometimes. I was actually already dating my boyfriend at the time…But if he called, I’d just pause, and pretend I was doing something a lot more normal, like just coming back from being outside in the sunshine, not being locked indoors, with the curtains closed watching episode after episode of Captain Winters and the rest of E Company. I definitely have a compulsive disorder when it comes to renting DVDs with TV shows. Monk, Six Feet Under, CSI, CSI Miami, Law and Order…

Not that my boyfriend wouldn’t allow me to watch episode after episode of those TV shows, but it’s something I rather do alone. I don’t want my viewing directed by anyone else’s wants and needs. Like sleep and eating for example. It’s selfish, but that’s me.

Another SSB is not cleaning my apartment until there is about 3rd generation dust bunnies prancing around.

Or and funnily enough, clothes shopping is something I want to do on my own. If I go shopping with my boyfriend, I don’t feel at liberty to try on the 20 thousand pieces of clothes that I would like to, even though he would let me and not complain. It's just that I wouldn't want to feel like I am inconveniencing him in anyway. Once he even remarked that we had never really gone shopping together. But shopping for me is really a selfish activity that I don’t want to do with my boyfriend. And I go nuts if I don’t have time to stroll the streets on my own.

And it’s not like my boyfriend would be shocked or disgusted by any of this…at least I don’t think he would, it’s just I NEED this time for myself. And I have certainly been indulging in a lot of SSB since he has been gone. I can really understand why some couples have real issues when a spouse returns from a deployment, because at least one of the partners has been indulging in a year’s worth of secret single behavior. It’s a luxury not to be underestimated.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Those pesky drug tests

Okay, this may be in poor taste, but it's oooooh so funny.

Toni has this story about a pro-athelete caught trying to foil a drug test by using The Original Whizzinator:

The WHIZZINATOR© is an easy to conceal, easy to use urinating device with a very realistic prosthetic penis. It has been extensively tested and proven to work under real-life conditions!

And yes...there are pictures.

Be sure to check out the testimonials page, too. There's an interesting battle going on there between satisfied customers and people who think they are losers.

My favorite part of the site is the disclaimer at the bottom:
The Whizzinator is to be used in accordance with all Federal, State and Local laws. The Whizzinator is not a medical device.

The question begs: What Federal, State and Local laws are there in regards to using prosthetic penises?

Perception is Everything

MJ at Political Notio has a post about his disappointment in his Conservative friends’ reactions to his interview with his Iraqi friend, Ahmed. At first I was going to respond in his comments section, but I thought I would prefer posting this on my blog.

Because these friends didn’t post their comments, and just wrote emails, I can’t judge the content of the comments. So perhaps they truly were just completely oblivious and stubborn reactions.

People believe what they want to believe. A few days ago, I met with my professor to talk about my thesis. I will be doing a content analysis, and hope to find a certain trend. And I said to the professor: “Well, I really hope that I can find a trend or some kind of change over the years.” And he replied: “Well, you are the one deciding the variables for the analysis.” And that is exactly what we do when we read reports from Iraq. We can pick and choose what we read, and dismiss points of view we don’t like, and laud the ones we do.

For example, if I would like to see the negative aspects of the war and the American occupation, I go visit Riverbend at Baghdad Burning, or A Family in Baghdad. If I want to hear a more positive outlook, I read The Messopotamian or Iraq the Model. These four blogs all present honest and heartfelt accounts of life in Iraq.

One thing is for sure, Baghdad is burning. Neurotic Iraqi Wife writes in her blog about her worries of slipping down "The Road of the Faithless”:

when I ask them about Baghdad, all they say is "Forget Baghdad, Forget Baghdad that once was, Baghdad now is a big wild forest, filled with wild beasts roaming its streets freely, roaming the minds easily, Forget Baghdad" To forget Baghdad is like erasing my whole identity, how can I forget the one thing I yearn for??? How can I forget the dreams, the hopes, the memories??? How can I???

In her comments section, Ahmad from Iraqi Expat writes of a friend from Baghdad who came to visit:
He is VERY pro-liberation and optimistic; however, when I asked him about Baghdad, he said "I will bet you anything that you can't see Baghdad and not cry".

Anyone who can’t admit that the war, the US occupation and the wrath of the terrorists hasn’t torn Baghdad and other cities to pieces is heartless. The devasation caused by the war is very real and very depressing. Although the war in Germany was 60 years ago, my grandmother still drives through the streets of Hamburg and will point and utter sentences like: "this whole street was leveled." War leaves scars that will always be visible for those who experienced it.

However, admitting that and acknowledging the suffering Iraqis are going through on a daily basis, doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. And I think many people fear to admit how bad things have gotten in some parts, for fear that it overshadows the overall progress. Perception is very important, and if we only focus on the suffering, we are ignoring the progress.

I think Michael Yon, an embedded reporter in Iraq, sums it up best:

As the new map of Iraq unfolds, a picture of progress emerges. The Iraqis who want freedom and democracy are gaining ground. From what I hear about the news back home, this might sound unreal. Nightly tallies of roadside IEDs and suicide car bombers driving headlong into crowds, like the Vietnam body counts on the Huntley-Brinkley Report, are the main summary of events, while most of this country is peaceful.

There are seventeen provinces in Iraq, and more than ten are quiet. They are busy rebuilding the infrastructure; building a new democracy, but mostly just getting on with life.

Unfortunately, the "Sunni triangle" is a region churning with an insurgency that shows no sign of letup. But by focusing on the flames, the media does not give the world a fair or accurate representation of what's happening for most Iraqi people, or for most of the Coalition forces. I, too, have spent most of my time in Iraq in these dangerous provinces, so even these dispatches might indicate that Iraq has more problems than is actually the case.

Yet even here in the warring provinces, progress is clear. I have endured many tedious meetings with agendas focused on roadside trash, local business development, or Iraqi police training. These normalities do not make good news.

Though "the media" zooms in on the flames, viewers are equally complicit. After all, who among us is more likely to tune in or read about another successful Iraqi adopt-a-highway initiative, when the other option is dramatic footage of the fighting that our people face every day inside these jagged borders?

Boyfriend's Co-Worker Discovers Blog

When I started this blog, I did so anonymously. It gave me the freedom to write about things, without worrying about the consequences. And one of my favorite subjects is my boyfriend. And he gallantly put up with me portraying a more personal side of him than he often shows to most people. So, I was pretty worried when I got an email over the weekend from one of his fellow pilots, who had happened upon my blog, and figured out who I was.

I think it will obviously have some effect on what I write, but for the time being I am just enjoying my "discoverer's" blog, FlyGuyTilIDie. This is not really a Milblog, he doesn't talk much about the military...he is just hysterical. If you met him in person, you would be fascinated, and his blog is just a condensed version of his eclectic personality.

You especially have to read this post about him using hair relaxer...and did I mention he's a white boy?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The military and preventative measures

My boyfriend is always complaining about Army regulations. There are a lot of rules in the Army, and not all of them are good. Basically, one person will do something stupid, and because of his or her stupidity, everyone else has to follow some anti-idiot regulations..and most of the time, these regulations just don't make sense. Luke, at My Vacation in Iraq, has a post about just such a regulation after someone in his unit "misplaced" their weapon:

Now some guy from higher up is making all sorts of stupid rules like. You have to take your weapon to the bathroom that is 10 feet from the door of our building. Yet you are not allowed to take it all the way across the FOB to the GYM. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard... Get this you don't have to bring your weapon to the shower trailer that is right next to the bathroom one that you do have to take your weapon to. One E6 joked around by saying lets just bring towels with us everywhere and leave out 9's in our rooms. Then we can just say we are going to the shower or the gym at any point when someone stops you and asks you where your weapon is...

This post at Life in X Minor had me cracking up too.

Oh, and just a little intersting nugget: If you have ever wondered how military systems get their names, you should read this little post:

Names should appeal to the imagination without sacrifice of dignity, and should suggest an aggressive spirit and confidence in the capabilities of the item. They should suggest mobility, agility, flexibility, firepower, and endurance when these characteristics can be related to the item.
2. Popular names for items in the following categories are based on the criteria set forth above:
a. Infantry weapons—Famous Americans. Example: MACARTHUR.
b. Field artillery weapons—action nouns. Examples: PALADIN, CONQUEROR, and PEACEMAKER.
c. Air defense artillery weapons—action nouns. Examples: AVENGER, STINGER, and VIGILANTE.
d. Tanks—American generals. Examples: ABRAMS and SHERIDAN.
e. Armored combat vehicles (less tanks)—animals associated with speed. Examples: CHEETAH,COUGAR, and PANTHER.

And the list goes on.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Interview with an Iraqi student

My blogging arch-nemesis MJ has posted a very interesting interview he conducted with a Baghdad Iraqi student. I love to hear first person accounts about the situation in Iraq, whether it be soldier blogs about soldier lives, or Iraqi blogs about life of the mainstream Iraqi civilian (albeit, the Iraqi civilian with a computer connection and a good grasp of written English), and this interview definitely offers a perspective you won't necessarily see elsewhere. Here is the last paragraph:

I want to say to the people of America that we are thankful for your sons and daughters. We know that it has not been easy for you either. Our sons and daughters are dying by the thousands. We console with you. Your military is the best in the world. So is your compassion. Bring us your compassion. When I was in USA it was the greatest time of my life. There is so much happiness in USA. You dream so big. We are ready to dream now.

Cheese-d*ck stuff for my man!

Back in December when I had just started my blog, I happened upon a milblogger deployed to Mosul, Iraq. What I liked about his writing was how he tried to approach everything with humor. And when some topics inevitably couldn't be treated with humor, how he eloquently put into words the human emotions that couldn't be laughed away.

Now Sminklemeyer is back in the country he served with such valor, and he is back in the rat race, where apathy has replaced terrorists in becoming his worst enemy. However, he still remains the sweet and caring Sminkie. Today I read a sweet post he had written about the renewing of vows of a good friend of his who had married before deployment:

"He was in love… In love with a woman who would never leave him and could endure the trials of any war. She is just one of a thousand women who stand by their men after they kiss their loved ones goodbye. Why? Because there is not another man – or woman for that matter – who could fill their heart with such raw emotion. And their love could never be captivated by words or a movie."

This is what my boyfriend would call cheese-dick stuff. But I have to say that one sentence really sums up my feelings for my boyfriend: there is not another man who could fill my heart with such raw emotion. This one sentence sums up so well why I will survive this deployment, even if I am kicking and screaming the whole way through.

Sunday, May 8, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Germany

Yesterday wasn’t only Mothers’ Day. It was also the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. All over Europe there were ceremonies commemorating the day, and German television reported on Bush’s visit to Holland and Russia. I spent a good part of the afternoon watching TV with my grandmother. It was a great experience, because along with one notably good speech, there was also a lot of footage of the last days of the war, and my grandmother’s commentary was a goldmine of little nuggets of personal experience that I would probably never find in a history book.

She recounted that for her the war was actually over on May 4th, the day when the English rolled into Hamburg. She can remember peeking through the window, although it was forbidden, to watch them riding their tanks through the streets. Her future was very uncertain, and she said she didn’t really know what to feel about the end of the war. She was at an elite school for future Nazi teachers, and she had known what to expect with that, but now her future was up in the air. She was only 17 years old, and three months before the end of the war, her and her classmates were given Nazi party pins to wear on their coats. She says after the capitulation nobody knew what was going to happen, and she buried her pin in the dirt of a flower pot. But the English were “gentle” occupiers she said. A few years later she was changing the dirt in the pot, and found the rusted remains of the pin and was reminded of those last few days.

When pictures of the concentration camps came on the screen, she said at first she couldn’t believe it was true, when she heard about the systematic extermination of Jews and other “undesirables” by the Germans. She said that her mother, a former house maid for a wealthy Jewish family, was often very critical of the government, and her father often admonished her mother’s loose tongue and warned her that if she didn’t watch out, she might end up in a concentration camp. So my grandmother, as a young girl, had definitely known about the concentration camps, but imagined them to be “re-education” camps.

She said that the military knew about the extermination camps and recounted my grandfather’s de-nazification trial after the war. My grandfather was asked by the judge: Mr. ____, did you know about the extermination camps? My grandfather replied: Your honor, did you NOT know about the extermination camps? The judge replied: "Mr. ____, the difference between you and me, is that YOU are on trial." De-nazification was a sticky process, it was to be done by the Germans themselves, but the problem was finding officials and civil servants who would be in charge, but who had a clean slate themselves. In the end, most former Nazis returned to their previous jobs, and worked along side those who suffered under the Third Reich. For example, it was impossible to fire the head professors at the medical schools and university clinics, because of their Nazi past, because that would just result in increased hardship for the medical schools which would be losing teachers, and the hospitals losing experienced doctors.

The television also recounted how the war ended differently all over Germany. The Russians were feared far more than the Americans. One man (a mere teenager at the time) from Dresden recounted how they hoped the Americans would come to Dresden before the Russians, and he was bitter that the Americans just marched to a certain point and then stopped and “played tennis on the Autobahn” while the Russians marched into Dresden. Everyone seemed to think or know that the Americans would be a lot “gentler” than the Russians. And sure enough the Russian troops did loot and had a reputation for rape. Not all liberation was created equal in Germany.

Germany’s new president, Horst Koehler, previously Managing Directorof the International Monetary Fund, held a great speech in front of the German parliament. There is a transcript (in German) online. One of my favorite parts of the speech, was when he talked about the different fates of the two Germany’s, split after the war:

Westdeutschland hatte es viel leichter - auch, weil es vergleichsweise weniger Reparationen leisten musste und mehr Aufbauhilfe bekam. Vor allem aber, weil sich dort Ideen besser entfalten konnten und weil eine freiheitliche Ordnung schneller auf neue Herausforderungen reagieren kann.
Das Kennzeichen dieser politischen Ordnung war - jede Menge Streit! [...]Und darum hat im Ergebnis jede dieser großen Debatten die politische Kultur der Bundesrepublik und das Vertrauen in ihre demokratische Ordnung gestärkt.

[My translation]: West Germany had it much easier – in part because it had comparitively less reparations to pay and received a lot more reconstruction help. Mostly though because there ideas could develop better and because a free order can react quicker to new challenges.
The main trait of this political oder was...a lot of disputes![...] And that is why all of these big debates resulted in the strengthening of the political culture in the Federal Republic and the trust it her democratic order.

He finished the speech with this:

Die nachrückenden Generationen in Deutschland wissen, dass bald keine Zeitzeugen von Krieg und Vernichtung mehr da sein werden. Sie nehmen den Auftrag an, die Erinnerung an das Geschehene wach zu halten und weiterzugeben. Sie sind es, die künftig mit ihren Altersgenossen in der ganzen Welt dafür sorgen werden, dass sich solches Unrecht und Leid nicht wiederholt.

[Once again, my translation]: The suceeding generations in Germany know that soon there will be no more contemporary witnesses of war and extermination. They except the responsibility to keep the memory of the event alive and to pass it on. They are the ones who henceforth with their contemporaries in all the world, have to make sure that such a wrong and suffering never repeats itself.

His speech was well-written and inspiring. And I of course have only taken out excerpts that interest me. But I would encourage anyone who can read German to read it, and hopefully it will be translated into English in the future.

Update: Okay, I'm a slacker, there is an online English version of Koehler's speech. Thanks, Spotless!

My Dad is going to Washington!

Since time immemorial my father has tortured us family members with his theories and ideas. He has a system for everything. I couldn't peel an orange, banana or mango without being told I was doing it the wrong way. Sometimes he reminded me of the efficiency expert father in the book Cheaper By the Dozen. Most of the time his ideas are completely out there, and he inevitably becomes the butt of all our jokes. But he gamely plays along, and has never stopped re-inventing the proverbial mouse-trap.

For the last few years he had been playing around with a new tax system to replace the cumbersome tax code we currently have in America (and most every country, come to think of it). And he finally published it...just in time too:

Federal Tax Reform

On January 7, 2005, President Bush announced the establishment of a bipartisan panel to advise on options to reform the tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more pro-growth to benefit all Americans.

The Advisory Panel will submit to the Secretary of the Treasury a report containing revenue neutral policy options for reforming the Federal Internal Revenue Code as soon as practicable, but not later than July 31, 2005.

Everyone and anyone was invited to submit their ideas for reforming the tax code. And my father submitted his. And now he is off to Washington to attend The President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform's eighth meeting, to be held in downtown Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th, where they will discuss the submitted proposals.

I am pessimistic, or perhaps realistic, and personally don't think they plan on changing anything radically in the near future, and my father's proposal is radical. However, I think this is a step in the right direction, and it is very exciting that my father will be able to witness and, to some extent, take part in this.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Weekend with Grandma

I spent the weekend with my grandmother. She is turning 78 this year, and has been preparing for the end for a few years now. So every time I go visit her, I inevitably get a few tips on what to do when she dies, and she is also constantly preparing. Bear in mind that she is still pretty fit, still drives, and travels extensively. However, like all good Germans, she wants to be prepared for when she eventually dies.

For example, she has been cleaning out the cellar and her closets, because she has too many clothes, and no more room. So she had bundled up many bags, and we took them to a donation center (after I had gone through them and found some choice pieces!) But she explained to me that she had kept a lot of synthetic dresses with colorful prints, because they will be practical when she finally moves into the assisted living home, because they are easy to wash, and you can't see the stains. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, she really said that. I seriously can't wait to go visit her when the time has come and see her in her Pucci-esque dresses...stains and all. She'll be the most rocking grandma in the joint.

Another of her utterances that had me rolling on the floor was when I was talking about how cool Ebay was, and she interjects: "Oh, can sell your grandfather's cello and my violin there one day. I am sure you could get a lot of money." What do answer to that? "Oh yes, grandma...can't wait till you kick the bucket so I can pawn off your stuff." So, I did my standard eye rolling, and reassured her that everything would go according to her wishes once she passed.

A few years ago, when she had just started with the preparing for her death, I gave her a snappy answer. She was in the phase of giving things away, or at least talking about what she was going to give to someone when she died. I was getting a little sick of this, so when she talked about having just gotten new gold crowns on her molars, I replied: "Oh, will I be getting those when you die?" She looked and me and admonished me for being so morbid, and I said I was being no more morbid than herself with her constant planning. That did cure her for a while.

Oh, I nearly forgot...she has put on quite some weight in the last 15 years. She used to be about a size 6-8, and now she is more in the 14-16 area. But she said, she wasn't going to throw away a lot of her really old stuff, because it would fit her again when she is 85, because that is when you really start to lose weight again.

She's a riot.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ann gets shocked

Okay, I don't really like Ann Coulter. There seriously might be nothing wrong with her, but I have never been able to listen to her long enough to change my opinon. She seems arrogant and dismissive, and I don't have much respect for her. Having said that she is pretty hot, and her looks serve her well. However, I must question her choice of clothing in this pic.

She just bugs me for some reason. I mean, perhaps it's because I get the feeling that she uses her looks more than her brains (just says a few bigs words, then flips her hair and flashes a butt cheek), but then again, maybe I am just jealous of her long legs and gorgeous hair.

I digress. I was visiting Little Green Footballs today, and they had a post about some guy who disrupted Ann Coulter’s speech at UT-Austin, and a link to Daily Kos (whom I also can't stand...him and Ann making out would make me wretch) with an open letter by the speech disrupter himself. And I found it highly entertaining, I might not agree with the guy and I really don't like people busting in on other people' parties...however, I do have to admire his stance:

No wonder hippies get such a bad rap nowadays; protestors today might as well be ornaments on the Rightmobile. When I want someone to know I'm pissed off, I'm going to throw down and give them a good sh*t-ruining. I wanted to show Ms. Coulter that people are down if she wants to hold a circle-jerk, but we're not gonna do it her way. Not me, at least.

The Supply Our Soldiers Act

I don't really know how it is in the States, but here in Germany, I know that all post from one APO address to another is free. So spouses and families here in Germany can send their soldiers packages free of charge. I have been able to send my boyfriend a package by giving it to a really kind friend of mine, who sent it from her APO address to my boyfriend. Anyways, I was disappointed to hear that there isn't some kind of provision made for families back in the States for sending their soldiers packages (I don't know if there is any military post in the States). However, I do know that when my boyfriend's parents or siblings send him something, they have to pay for postage. And I think it would lessen the hardship if families didn't have to pay for postage to soldiers.

Anyways...I am being long-winded here, when Shannon really made a great post about a bill proposal for postal benefits for the families of deployed soldiers, and another interesting issue, extended careers:

My husband will only be 43 when he's forced out and it's a shame that the Army will lose a great soldier due to an out of date and senseless policy. We are paying a high price for forcing out our most experienced soldiers - especially while our nation is at war.

When a woman loves a man...

When your boyfriend is gone for a loooong time, you end up spending a lot of time talking about him. You talk about him with people who have met him, and people who have never met him. You will show them pictures.

You basically become almost like a proud mother. And like a proud mother you always have to tell cute anecdotes about their silly behavior.

Tonight I was chatting with a friend, saying how ridiculously funny my boyfriend can sometimes be, without trying. I do a lot of laughing AT him.

For example, his humor has kind of a delayed reaction sometimes. He'll crack a joke about something that happened 2 minutes earlier, when such a joke would have perhaps been funny in the 10 seconds following the incident. Two minutes later it just elicits hysterical howls from me, about my boyfriend's lack of comedic timing. Sometimes I let him think I am laughing at his joke, but most of the time my eye rolling gives me away.

But another favorite is boy logic. And my boyfriend certainly has loads of boy logic, and it wins me over every time. Once while we were discussing something, he said: Hey, did you hear about blah, blah, blah? And I replied: Of course. I was the one who told you about that. And he says: no you didn't. Me: Uh, huh. Him: No, I heard it on radio at work (or some similarly flimsy attempt at "proof"). Me: Dude! I can remember the exact moment I told you about that. We were in the car, and such and such intersection. Him: Ooooooh, you told me while I was driving...that doesn't count. Me: (speechless...rolling on the floor in a fit of laughter).

Finally after regaining my composure I said: Does this mean you have no recollection of any conversation we have ever had while you were driving?

He smiled and said, yes, while nodding. He was going to go down with the ship for that one.

I just kissed him for that.

Boys are so cute.

You know how some gushing mothers can be very annoying to others, because they are oblivious to others lack of interest in Junior's newest antics? Well, gushing girlfriends and wives are the same. And I hope I never grow out of this and he always gives me reason to roll my eyes, but secretly rejoice in his silly behavior.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Dr. Seuss, the political cartoonist

So, I am sitting at home this Wednesday night, nursing a cold. It sucks, because I was supposed to go out dancing with a friend tonight...and instead I am stuck at home, sucking up hot toddies (like my mom makes for me when I am sick), and surfing the web. Wait a second...that is just a slight variation of many of my evenings, where I sit drinking some alcoholic beverage and surf the web.

I digress...

I came across something interesting (as one often does while surfing the web): an archive of Dr. Seuss' politican cartoons:

Because of the fame of his children's books (and because we often misunderstand these books) and because his political cartoons have remained largely unknown, we do not think of Dr. Seuss as a political cartoonist. But for two years, 1941-1943, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM (1940-1948), and for that journal he drew over 400 editorial cartoons.

Here are some of my favorites: Getting to the Root of Problem, Appeasement, The United Nations as Nazi Germany's Punching Bag, The Isolationist Peace Dove, Adolf the Wolf.

Well...there are loads and loads to discover. It's almost eerie seeing political cartoons drawn in the familiar Dr. Seuss style.

Happy surfing!

10 Weeks Ago Yesterday

Yesterday I read that Erika's soldier would be coming home for R&R at the end of May. Good news? Well, of course. But considering he put in for R&R in October and has only been gone a little over 2 months, him coming home now seems almost a little early. Instead of the R&R being almost smack in the middle of the deployment, it is at the beginning, making the time after R&R even longer.

My soldier told me that he wanted to place his R&R pretty late in the deployment, because it was always nice to have that to look forward to, but as soon as that was over, the rest of the deployment just kind of slowly crept by.

Yesterday marked 10 weeks since my boyfriend's departure to Afghanistan, which is just under 1/5 of a year, and only 3 weeks short of the 1/4 marker. And I have really gotten used to things now. Not to say that I don't miss him to bits, I do. It's just that I have gotten used to it.

If my boyfriend were to be coming home at the end of this month I am sure I would protest: "but you've only just left!"

It's all relative, I guess.

I just know that the time after R&R will probably be harder than the time before. But then I guess, we at least have the end of the deployment to look forward to. I also dread saying goodbye to him after R&R, but not as much as I rejoice about saying hello to him when he arrives!

Saturday I saw him on a webcam. I didn't think I wanted to. I thought it would be too sad for me to see him moving around reacting to things I said, without being able to touch him. But it was completely the opposite. I had forgotten how gosh-darned sexy the man is. And how his eyes crinkle at the edges when he smiles...oh, and his smile. I could have sat for hours just watching him. He was eating some chips that I had sent him in the mail. I found it fascinating to watch him eat, and typed him as much. So he did it all in slow motion for my benefit. I love it when he teases me. He was cracking me up by pretending to pick his nose and eat his boogers, flashing me his chest hair, and doing Zoolander and Dr. Evil impressions.

Oh, how I miss him.

Have some self-respect, girl!

Let’s just say you were one of the actors in one of the biggest scandals of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Let’s say you were dismissed from the US Army last year after pleading guilty, but walked away with no jail time. Let’s say you had the misfortune of having an affair with the accused ring leader of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. Let’s say this man had also been having an affair with another soldier, a Pfc. Lynndie England, whose recently born son is believed to be his child.

What would you do?

Well, I can tell you what I would do. I would be ashamed that I had anything to do with the scandal, I would be thankful that I was dismissed and I would walk away from my past and promise myself to be wiser the in the future. But one thing I certainly wouldn’t do is marry Army Spc. Charles “I didn’t enjoy what I did there” Graner Jr., who grinned in photos of Iraqi prisoners being sexually humiliated.

But that is exactly what Megan Ambuhl did on April 12th, 2005, a few months after Graner had been sentenced to 10 years for his part in the Abu Ghraib scandal:

Graner was convicted in January on a range of abuse charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Last month, he married former specialist Megan Ambuhl, an Abu Ghraib defendant who was discharged from the army without serving prison time. Graner had another man stand in for him in the marriage-by-proxy April 12 near Fort Hood.

Okay, I definitely believe in a thing called love, but I don’t understand why I would marry a man who had fathered another child, while having an affair with me, and doesn’t seem to have the best track record when it comes to treating other human beings. And a marriage-by-proxy ain’t exactly the most romantic way to start a marriage.

Why couldn’t she just walk away? She already testified in his case, so it’s not like she is getting married to him, just so she doesn’t have to testify against him. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to this choice, other than love. And some people just seem to always make the wrong choices.

Does anyone have any idea here?

Another MilBlogger in Afghanistan

I have been reading Johanna K's blog, My Grand Afghanistan Adventure, for a while, and only just realized that I didn't have her linked on my blog, just in my favorites folder. From what I understand she is an army reservist and currently part of a PRT (provincial reconstruction team) in Afghanistan. But apparently many PRTs are getting closed down, including Johanna K's. Her posts are interesting little snapshots into her life there.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Michael Moore's Freedom Fighters

This is sick.

Accidents during combat

I was just reading about the suspected collision and crashes of two Marine Hornet’s last night over Iraq. And I came upon this paragraph:

Late last year, Marine Corps officials said a sharp increase in deadly accidents involving Marine aircraft had forced a close look at possible causes.

From October 2003 through September 2004, the Marines sustained 18 major accidents, including the deaths of 15 aviators and the loss of 21 helicopters and fighter planes.

I might be going out on a limb here, but perhaps the possible cause is combat? The aircraft are flying more than in peace time, so the chances of an accident happening are increased, everything from pilot error to mechanical error (not to mention enemy contact), whether training back home or in theater. Plus there are a few additional factors: in combat there is a tendency to take risks one might not take in training: flying when weather conditions aren’t optimal, because the mission needs to be completed. Most often these risks are worth it, but sometimes the risks prove costly.

I am glad they are taking loss of life and limb seriously, but it seems to me that it is kind of cut and dry. I can't imagine them coming up with any findings, other than "combat increases the chances of accidents." But anything that could possible reduce the occurence of accidents is welcome information.

Teddy Bear Shaped Baloney

Germans like to tease me about the perverse products that America has, like green ketchup or cheese whiz, but I have found something here in Germany that is also a little scary…(but I am sure that America has similar products.)

Having trouble getting your kids to wolf down their boloney? Well then, you need to serve them Reinert Bärchenwurst:

The teddy bear smiles! And all children will smile too- both large and small. Because the good Reinert Baerchenwurst with the smiling bear face offers several reasons to be joyful: It tastes specially delicious, however only at the most 15% fat and in addition contains an extra portion calcium. 100 g of our children’s boloney gives 36% - 53% of the daily calcium need of a child from 1 - 10 yeas oldr. Reinert Baerchenwurst is prepared predominantly with lean poultry meat.

It is actually called Reinert Baerchenwurst: Gefluegel Mortadella, which means poultry boloney. So, wouldn’t you think that the boloney would be made entirely out of poultry meat? Well, as the above paragraph says, “predominantly with lean poultry meat,” 52% turkey to be exact. Another meat makes up 20% of its composition…what meat, you ask? Aha…pork. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, poultry boloney made in Germany actually has a pretty large portion of pork in it.

Reinert also offers another product. If your children find eating liverwurst out of the plastic tube too unappealing, well you can serve it to them like cream cheese, but in a teddy bear shaped spread tub: Reinert Bärchen-Streich!

Although I can understand that the teddy bear shape appeals to kids, somehow I find it perverse that it is a meat product.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Nature Versus Nurture

I often wonder what kind of experiences it would take for me to fundamentally change my way of thinking? I mean, I think the way I do because my experiences have validated certain theories. Or at least that is what I think.

I mean perhaps, I think the way I do, because most of the people I am surrounded with also think this way. And when I am confronted with people who think differently, I will usually engage them in a discussion, but most of the time I find their arguments lacking persuasion. And they probably think the same about mine.

For example, I can remember talking to an Iraqi on a train here in Germany way back when in 1999. And at first it was an interesting exchange, but then it became a heated discussion. I asked him his opinion about the head scarf for women. He explained that a woman was like a jewel. A jeweler didn’t want to show his most beautiful jewel in the window, he would keep it locked in a safe, so he could enjoy it all for himself. Obviously my interlocutor wasn’t quite up-to-date with Western selling techniques, because not only will no salesperson hide their most beautiful item if they want to sell it, I wasn’t buying his misogynistic spiel. And I told him as much. And he just said to me: “One day you will understand. One day everyone will understand.” (scary dooms day music in the background) Okay…whatever, loser! …Oh, yes…to make this all the more interesting: this conversation was held in German, so you had two non-native speakers, arguing in German why the other one’s world view was skewed. Obviously, unbeknownst to myself at the time, I had probably run into a member of some sleeper-cell here in Germany. He also criticized my lack of knowledge of Islamic history. However interesting that exchange was, I was very relieved to reach the train station I was to de-board at.

Obviously, my fellow traveler was very convinced of what he was saying, just as much as I was convinced of what I was saying back. But what would it take for me to agree with what he said? And vice versa?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Drinking in Germany

Okay, there are many things I love about Germany (otherwise I wouldn't have been able to live here so long). But I would say one of the biggest perks, from a student's point of view, to life in Germany, is that the public consumption of alcohol is perfectly legal. Which is fabulous: imagine being able to drink a beer on public transport? Or while barbecuing in the park? Or while walking on the sidewalk from one bar to another? Or my personal favorite: pulling a wagon full of beer behind you, as in during Carnival.

And it doesn't result in more drunks than usual. People are more relaxed about drinking. The official drinking age here is 16 for beer and wine, and then 18 for harder liquor. And it seems like the children are more responsible here, and there are less incidences of drunk driving.

An American friend told me a funny story about the different relationship that Germans have with alcohol than Americans: he was at Oktoberfest in Munich, and he was waiting in line to get beer at the bar. In front of him in line were two 14 year-olds. And when they got to the front of the line, they asked for beer. And the bartender said: "No, beer for you, you are too young. You guys can have cola beer." Cola beer is half cola, half beer. And he proceeds to fill these kids mugs up with half beer, half cola.

I can remember back in the day when the drinking age was 18 in America. And I really can't understand why it is 21 now. Has it had any effect? Has it changed people's consumption? Or is it just a slap in the face: "you are old enough to vote, old enough to join the military and old enough for a whole lot of other things, but not old enough to consume alcohol." I know this is not a huge and pressing issue right now, but I still question the necessity of such a law.