Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It was so bad, that it went back to being good again

I was reading Thunder6's review of the show 'Over There', and something tells me that this might become like the Rocky Horror Picture Show of Iraq movies/TV shows for some:

I don’t have the words to express how tragically flawed the show really is. There are bad shows, and there are terrible shows. There are even shows so singularly awful they come full circle and almost seem interesting. This show is much, much worse then even those campy train wrecks. The episode was so abominable that I couldn’t even get angry at it’s hollow depictions of combat, all I could do was laugh until my sides ached.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thank goodness I have a blog....

I just have to get this off my chest....it irks me when people make the comment about Iraq, in supposed support of the continued US involvement in Iraq: "We broke it...now we have to fix it."

Granted, the situation in Iraq was "working" before we arrived and toppled Saddam...and now there is relative chaos. But whom was it working for? By saying we broke it, indicates that everything was a mistake. Or that the situation before the US poked its nose in was fine.

For me it is just an insulting as saying that the Union "broke" the Confederacy's economy by ending slavery, so they had to "fix" it during the subsequent Reconstruction Era.

I do believe that America has a certain responsiblity to help Iraq back on its feet again. The reconstuction of Iraq is essential to the mission, it's in the world's best interests in equipping the Iraqis with the ability to govern themselves and protect that government. We toppled a dictator, who had oppressed Iraqis for decades. His oppression did ressemble a "peace" of sorts. But that peace came at a high cost for many. And it's something I am not so ashamed about "breaking".

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Yesterday at the video store where I have had past experience with slight anti-American sentiment, I rented yet another DVD of CSI. I was trying to get the correct change out and some quarters fell out that were still in my purse since coming back from America last week. My friend joked, "well, you can pay in dollars."

And the clerk behind the counter snipped: "we don't accept such an instable currency."

I chuckled, not at all offended, and not really thinking replied: "yeah, Saddam Hussein also insisted on getting paid in Euros towards the end, because he thought that would insult America."

The rest of my transaction passed in silence, and although I have to admit I am slightly embarassed that I essentially compared the video store clerk to Saddam Hussein, I am proud at my diss.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ya Think?

I just saw this link at Mudville's and had to comment: A new poll showed that those who knew an Iraq war participant were more likely to support the war.

Now obviously this can be interpreted in two ways, as the article states:
Some of those surveyed said their relationships with troops helped them learn more about what's going on in Iraq beyond the violence. Others said their opinions of the war were shaped by a sense of loyalty to those in harm's way.

Because I have a few personal connections to the war in Iraq I definitely pay more attention to news coming out of there, and definitely consider myself a little more informed about the situation than I would have been had I lacked those connections.

I have had the opportunity to talk with many soldiers who were there, including my boyfriend. Some are more positive than others about our involvement, but the underlying theme has been: there are a lot of good things happening there, that get overlooked. For some the good/bad ratio is higher, for others it's the other way around depending on what their jobs were and where they were stationed. But there certainly isn't one same bleak picture being painted all over.

I obviously don't think the situation in Iraq is hunky-dorey. I also hope that our involvement will gradually reduce, and sooner rather than later. But I hope that it is in a positive way, with a feeling that what with did wasn't in vain.

While writing this post, I was reading some old letters from a soldier I was penpaling with while he was in Iraq up until last summer. And I found this amusing paragraph I thought I would share:
Mail is always wonderful out here and its often a communal experience. All soldiers love to see what each other got, especially if they know its from a girl (and the guy is unmarried). Everyone was immediately impressed that I'd gotten a letter from an "internet chick" - which by the way, was far cooler than getting mail from a prison chick. Of course everuon was equally disappointed that there was no tawdry message or nudie pictures, but I queled the groans by wishing herpes on the whole truck crew.

I am so glad that I started emailing, chatting and sending letters to a few soldiers in Iraq whom I met over the internet. It really opened my eyes to a community I previously had no contact with. I will readily admit I was quite prejudice about soldiers, and was pleasantly surprised (shame on me!).

Since then (February 2004) my life has changed so much. It has almost become military centric. I feel an instant connection with someone if they have something to do with the military, wanting to know their experiences. I understand the military structure a lot better, and am less critical and more accepting and respectful of certain protocols and traditions.

It has also opened my eyes to the human element behind this huge machine called the military. Its failings too, but at the same time the heroic efforts of those in the military to make up for those failings. And if you know a soldier, or a handful, it's hard not to recognize the strength they have and the dedication. And then it's hard to not support them in their efforts in Iraq, if they stand behind them. So I would say that my support of the war in Iraq has gotten very personal.

So, basically, duh about the poll results.

Going without at a new FOB

X has an funny post about moving to a new FOB and dealing with the lack of ammenties:

Doing without hot chow is easy. MRE's are tolerable for a time. Especially when you get creative with them. Coco mix+Peanut Butter= Ghetto Reese's Pieces mix


So we started a Madden tournament to help kill time. The funny thing is we refer to it as if it was a living breathing, Sports Center worthy event. We will sit around eating, saying, "What? you didn't see that game? Oh man, you missed a good one."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hamburg Anti-Terrorist Alert

Here's a story out of Hamburg, Germany that isn't getting a lot of coverage in the international press:

Three Chechen men who were overheard at a bus stop talking about becoming "heroes before Allah" were detained and questioned on Friday after sparking a major security alert in Germany, but police said they did not appear to have been planning an attack.

A Reuters article offers more info:

More than 1,000 German police were deployed in a large-scale search for three terror suspects in the north German port city of Hamburg on Thursday, a police spokesman said.
Roadblocks and controls were set up at 12 points in Germany's second city after an Arabic-speaking witness overheard the men at a bus stop on Wednesday, praising Allah and heroism in Arabic. One of the men was carrying a backpack.

A police spokesman said the three men were overheard by the witness, whom police said was a credible source, at a bus stop near a local railway station in the Altona district of Hamburg.
The witness told police he heard one of the men use the phrase "heroism before Allah." The men then boarded a bus heading away from the city center.

Hamburg, which has been put on terror alert several times in the past four years, was the home of a group of radical Arab students led by Mohamed Atta, the man who rammed the first of four hijacked planes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Another article states:

Hamburg's top security official, Udo Nagel, said Thursday night that the alert may have resulted from a misunderstanding and that there was no reason for the public to be alarmed.

He said police would not have reacted the same way to similar information two years ago but that their approach has changed, particularly in light of July's London bombings.

Well, glad that their approach has changed...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Such sweet words!

"So today I learned not to beat you," my boyfriend deadpanned.

I smiled.

He got his R&R briefing for his upcoming leave.

In around 2 weeks the longest 6+ months of my life will come to an end!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Dilbert slams the MSM

Sunday's Dilbert comic strip is right on target with its tongue-in-cheek portrayal of television news.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Colorado Court

I was visiting my best friend's office in Santa Monica, the first time I had been to her office, and I was admiring the view from her window, and across the street I saw a rather striking building. After a few glances I realized that the pretty blue panels adoring the building were solar panels, not just decoration. I asked my friend about it, and she replied that it's a low cost housing building. Apparently when there is an opening, the line of prospective tenants is an impressive sight.

I did some research and found this:

The 44-unit complex at Fifth Street and Colorado Avenue is adorned with 204 solar panels, which will supply about a third of the building's electricity. The rest of the power will come primarily from a micro-turbine, a generator that runs on clean-burning natural gas. Southern California Edison will supply only a fraction of the building's energy needs.

And this:

The affordable-housing development will generate "green electricity" from dual sources, neither of which releases pollutants into the environment. A photovoltaic array of 199 solar panels on the building's facade and roof will supply most of the peak-load energy demand. A natural-gas-powered microturbine generator on the roof will supplement the solar array and will also capture its own waste heat to use for residents' heating and hot water. If all goes according to plan, the building will produce 92% of its own power, with SCE supplying the rest.

Here's another link about the building. I couldn't find a consistent cost estimate for the construction of the building, but the highest I found was over 4.2 million dollars. Considering that you would be hard pressed to find any house (and I mean ANY house, even 800sq.f teeny houses in the Valley) for less than $500K, that sounds like a bargain. And it is practically off-the-grid. That's just amazing.

Obviously, there is no air-conditioning in the building, which is noticable when you see the open windows in the first linked photo...people just don't open their windows in LA...not on the car or their house, and if they do, it's because they don't have A/C. So, that is an easy energy win, and I don't count that on their "energy efficiency" list...that's just making a cut back. However, the rest is very commendable.

I really get my panties in a knot, when I see how we can be so much more energy efficient and aren't.

Same thing goes for water. Why can't we desalinate water? Or recycle water?

Or with trash? When are we going to stop digging holes and burying it? It's possible the burn it and derive energy from it. Vienna does it...and it's a piece of art there.

But no. People continue to oppose these efforts, like in Australia right now.


Update: If this is Kool-aid...well, then, I like Kool-aid.

Friday, August 19, 2005

IraqCad is going to Iraq

...And she promises to keep blogging:

I want to go there. I want to be a part of it. I believe in our service and I believe in our forces. I know that our missions are the MOST humane in the world and every soldier, Marine, seaman and airman is trained to REACT, not INCITE. I know that the water in my canteen is for my victim, not myself. I have sat behind my desk, in my air conditioned office. I haven't been deployed, though I have had to pull some pretty amazing Force Protection (HOO-AH). I am qualified on my weapon, but just in case. I want to go. I want to go. No one is forcing me. The decision was made with the best of intentions - not to screw anyone over.

A soldier on TV (and dammit, I don't know his name or what show) said that he was going over there to serve honorably, and regardless of HOW he came home, he would return alive or not with HONOR. I feel the same way.

If MY Air Force helps only ONE woman learn how to read. If we give hope to ONE child. If ONE man can sleep soundly without fear. I want to go.

These liberals talk about humanity. I'd like to see one of this fuckin people put on a burqua and go into the heat. One day. Just one. Let's talk about humanity. I could go on and on.... But I won't.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Saddens me

I was reading Neurotic Iraqi Wife's latest post...and it is just sad. Depressing. A few months ago she was a newlywed anxious to join her husband in the Greenzone. And now she is there, and all her hopes and dreams seem to have vanished somewhat. It is gutwrenching to read that someone went from this:


to this:

Now all I can think about is going away, leaving, packing my bags and never coming back.


What does this whole reconstruction mean when you cant even go out and enjoy it. I look at peoples eyes and theres no lustre, its filled with sadness and hopelessness, even me, when I used to see that before, I would try to make them feel better by saying things will change, just give it time, now I dont even dare say these words, for I dont believe in them myself.

I really haven't much to say here, other than, many people in the United States don't understand the meaning of sacrifice. Sacrificing material comforts, sacrificing the lives of loved ones, sacrificing time. We are such an incredibly wealthy country, that we are at war, and we hardly even feel it.

Even with increased gas prices, people keep on trucking. Years ago it was prophesized that when oil prices hit over $60 bucks a barrel it would lead to a crisis...well, we are way over that now...somewhere around $67...and other than commenting on how expensive gas is, the general population doesn't seem to be too affected.

I am not saying that we have to hurt...I am just saying that most of us don't even have an inkling of what Iraqis and soldiers are experiencing, and never will. Just like most of us will never know what true hunger feels like, nor truely being without heating for long periods of time in winter, and without respite from the heat in summer. Or what it feels like to fear for your life every minute of the day. And we will never know.

And it is so hard for me to say, we have to stomach this fight, when I am not the one stomaching it. But the alternative, giving into those terrorizing Iraqis, is a nightmare I can't even begin to imagine.

Yes, another post about my boyfriend

So we are nearing the 6 month mark of the deployment…and I am looking back and thinking of the highlights so far:

Getting to know more about military life through the FRG and meeting more military wives than before he left.

Getting his huge apartment all to myself whenever I felt the urge.

That includes the TV remote.

And DVD player.

And video player.

And his YETI. (Okay…so I haven’t taken it out yet…but you want to know what he did when he bought it? Well, he rides with clips, and I don’t…so he got pedals with a platform and clips…so that when I am there I can use that bike, and he would use his old bike…now tell me that ain’t true love?)

Seeing my boyfriend for the first time on a webcam.

Watching him eat the chips I had sent him in a care package.

Watching my boyfriend become a faster typer.

Laughing at my boyfriend’s sudden discovery of the power of exclamation marks…and their subsequent overuse.

Laughing at my boyfriend’s use of “omg” while chatting.

Realizing that my boyfriend might just be clowning me all the time.

Typing something really naughty into messenger, and then seeing someone walk into his room behind him…and watching the sheer terror in his eyes, as he tried to make the messenger scroll so as to avoid massive embarrassment caused by girlfriend’s naughty banter. (Obviously closing the chat window was not an option…that would reveal a weakness to fellow soldiers.)

Okay, there are loads of other things. Tiny things, and huge things. But mostly just realizing that we are closer now, than before he left. It’s so ironic.

Sometime in September, he should be coming home on R&R. When I travel between Germany and the US, I always see someone flying home on R&R, or flying back afterwards. I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed when I see that. And it’s surreal for me to think that when my boyfriend will fly home, that someone else will see him, and think the very same thoughts that I am thinking. But this time it will be MY soldier. And someone else will say: “oh, a soldier flying home for R&R.”

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mr. Afghanistan: Sign Afghanistan is on the Mend?

Afghanistan's first-ever national competition to select a top bodybuilder was held today, and although the contenders might not make it to the final rounds of Mr. Olympia, this is still an encouraging event. Five years ago it was forbidden to even cheer at a soccer game in Afghanistan, so the sight of many men walking around with oiled bodies flexing to cheering crowds wouldn't have been too popular under the Taliban.

Modern gyms and athletic clubs have popped up in many provinces in recent years, Payanda said, adding that some Afghan bodybuilders have returned from neighboring Pakistan and Iran since the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime was ousted in 2001 and President Hamid Karzai subsequently took office.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Blogging the USO Comedy Tour

I love reading blogs from (relatively unknown, but incredibly brave) comedians who travel to Iraq or Afghanistan to perform for the troops...they even go to Forward Operating Bases. They always seem to have a knack of making intelligent observations, but in an incredibly amusing way.

After recounting a few encounters he had with people after his Afghanistan tour Rob P. writes:

I realize infusing first-hand knowledge into a political discussion is not really the thing to do in this day and age, and I should stick to whatever talking points my cause has handed out. I also realize that our culture is partly to blame, we live in a world where you can watch 24-hour news channels for 24 hours and still be uninformed, but if you're only talking to hear your own opinion and not to interact with your conversation-mate, leave me out of it.

He also has a picture of a Chinook...and I have no idea if Aircraft 138 is in Big Windy...but I like to think so.

A few degrees of separation

I love finding posts about Big Windy from other bloggers, like this one:

As Big Windy, the name of our airboat roared to life, I can truly say that I was filled with dread, excited and scared. Dread because of the unknown that lay ahead, excited to get off of BAF, and scared because the Taliban likes to shoot down Chinooks.


After another hour of flight we hit the ground at an undisclosed site a bona fide hot spot you could tell by the way everyone moved with a purpose, it was like, let’s get this shit our of the cargo hold as quick as possible and get the fuck out of here, our crew chief had mentioned before we left the longer we are on the ground the longer we are a target. The ammo and other equipment was unceremoniously dumped out of the back of the copter with all of us helping to load it into the trucks and humvees that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere driven by bearded men in shorts and flip flops.

Another interesting peek into the world my boyfriend never really talks about.

He has a few other good posts with pics too. (Well, it's not really his blog, but he has a great friend who posts his emails and pics on her blog.)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Not posting much

I haven't been posting much lately as I have been enjoying time well spent with my family and friends. I just don't have the same urge to blog as I previously had. Although I am sure it will soon return once I am back in Germany, it does make me wonder about eventually not blogging anymore.

Somehow when I started blogging, I kind of imagined it as a part of my life forever on forward. But now I realize that blogging for me is an outlet of sorts, and when I channel that elsewhere, I don't have that same "Ooooh, I am sooo blogging about this" feeling.

It kind of makes me melancholic, because I so enjoy the exchange with my online family, meeting new people, and checking up on old friends.

Well, que sera, sera.

Under the 200 day mark

I just noticed that my counter, which counts down until my boyfriend will be coming back home (it's not a very accurate countdown, it's just counting down a year from the day he left), is at 199...which means that 166 days have already passed. And soon we will be at the halfway mark.