25 March 2012

The good times of deployment

 I've been talking about a lot of the BS going on at work, lately.  I wanted to make this blog post about some of the good times we have been having, here in Afghanistan.  Its not all bad in this place, and I don't want the bad to keep overshadowing the good:
Our view of the mountains flying in.... This truly is a beautiful country.
Playing ninjas!
Messing around with one of the S shops
We have fun!

And tackle people!

At my soldier's promotion..... YAY silly string!!!!
(This was the BN conference room...and there was a BigWig meeting about 30min after this picture was taken, lol)

A breathtaking sight....and some sheep

We keep things light and fun on convoys

Hanging out, with the Terp, waiting for SP.

Sunsets are gorgeous here....

Putting on the gunners harness is always a fun time!

My medic's truck

I helped load the 240..... Cause officers aren't *that* incompetent!

Signs and buildings are very colorful here

Just playing in the dirt, at the FOB

A baby jingle truck
Some FOBs just like to have fields of dirt laying around....

YAY for camping!  It wasn't so bad...until about 3am, when it got really cold....

I was soooo going to steal this thing...but then the owners reappeared :(

Not going to give you the story behind this one....... still LMAO.....

The CO looking at part of our "Just Married" sign on the back of one of the trucks, lol!

He was using his belt as "balance"........right.......

Ben and Jerrys ice cream, delicious fries, and ehhh burger, delicious tenders!

The CSM was even hanging out with us!
He was "upset" about not having A/C....

.....so he made himself feel better, LOL!

We had a BBQ when we got back, the next day!  Steak and burgers!!!! ......and lobster tail.... bleh

And then, today, someone broke the truck.... so my boss "blamed" the NCO...and they both pushed, lol!
All the Specialists got a good laugh out of  it! :)
And my Velveeta mac and cheese is empty....but the trashcan is behind them!

Just know.... even if I seem to be focusing on the bad, there is still some good stuff happening here, almost all the time.  If you want to hear about it, don't hesitate to ask!
I use my blog and FB page as a place to vent more often than I use it as a place to share (not intentionally).  So just remind me, when you want to hear some of the positive stuff thats going on, and I'll most likely share.

23 March 2012

Baby news ain't always sunshine

There was crying, there was screaming, there was even a little hitting, when new baby test was given today.


Apparently, two year olds can be very opinionated...

To the beginning!
Wife had a bit of a scare the other day, a little spotting, which was put at ease by a healthy, beautiful, perfect little heartbeat today.  We are about 11wks, now! :D
Having seen the issues related to new siblings, we decided we should test the waters with the twins, so we know what to expect.
Well, since the kids dont get much experience with infants, as they are usually only interacting with bigger babies, Wife "borrowed" (babysat) a friend's 3mo sweetheart, to see how the kids did.

Not so bueno....
At first Girl was curious, Boy was withdrawn.  She went up to the baby (still in the carseat), and started questioning.  Wife took the baby out of the carseat so sissy could get a better look.  She was a little unsure, but soon was "petting" the baby with one finger.  Baby made a baby noise, and sissy freaked out a little.
Brother, still wide-eyed, eventually came over to get a better look.  He kept his hands away from the baby though.  He and and the baby ended up in a bit of a staring contest, even.  He was curious about the babies toes, and eventually tickled them, eliciting a gummy smile and "giggle" from the baby.  Boy was hooked with his curiosity.
So far, kinda good, right?
Boy helped give the baby a bottle, sissy just watched from the door.
Baby dozed off for a nap, Boy fell asleep for his nap on the couch, Sissy went upstairs.... I think a little jealous that the baby was hogging her playmate.
Twins got up before baby, and got to eating their lunch when baby woke up crying....
Shit went downhill......fast.

Sissy knocked her plate on the floor, covered her ears, and started screaming "NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO"  kicking and all.
Boy went to investigate the crying (being the more sensitive of the two), and tried to give the baby a toy.
Wife intervened, and got the baby up to change it.  Boy wanted to help, so Wife asked him to grab the diaper bag.  At this point Girl was watching from over near the bag (opposite side of the room as Wife and the dirty diaper).  Boy went to get the bag, and Girl shoved him to the floor.  Boy started crying, and then Girl, knowing she was in trouble, started crying.  Wife sent Girl to the couch, tried to help Boy, all while trying to change the baby.
Baby was changed, and Boy calmed down.
Wife tried to talk to Girl about pushing Boy, but Girl walked away (already an attitude....*sigh*).  Wife put the baby on one of the kids play blankets, on the floor, and then went to get Girl.
After telling her she can't be pushing Boy like that, and eventually hugging it out, they went back to the next room.  As soon as Girl saw the baby on "her" blanket, she had a ROYAL MELTDOWN.  Screaming at the top of her lungs, and demanding her blanket back.
She grabbed at the blanket, to which she got a stern "No." and a hand swat.
She went and stood in the corner, near the toy box, fountaining tears.  Eventually trying to throw a beanie baby at the baby....which once again had Brother's attention.  She got another "No." and put it down.
Wife invited her to come sit with them on the floor, which she did very reluctantly.
Boy was giggling over the baby.
Baby grabbed Boy's finger.
Girl grabbed Boy's other arm, trying to drag him away from the baby yelling " NOOOOOOOO!!!!! MY CHAWWY!!!!!!!!!"
At this point Girl was forcibly retired.
Boy was nursing his boo-boo.  Baby was oblivious.
Wife was hormonally unhappy and disheartened.
Out of all the issues forseen, we were expecting jealousy over attention of the baby.....but not attention of twin-to-baby.
This is going to be interesting.... hopefully, opinions change...

20 March 2012

Fun facts!

Here are some useless facts you can wrap your brain around. One thing I learned is how lucky the common Pig is!!!

If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.
(Hardly seems worth it.) 
If you farted consistently for 6 years and 9 months, enough gas is produced to create the energy of an atomic bomb.. 
(Now that's more like it!) 
The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps out of the body to squirt blood 30 feet. 
A pig's orgasm lasts 30 minutes. 
(In my next life, I want to be a pig..) 
A cockroach will live nine days without its head before it starves to death.
(I'm still not over the pig.) 
Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour 
(Don't try this at home, maybe at work.) 
The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the male's head off. 
(Honey, I'm home. What the...?) 
The flea can jump 350 times its body length. It's like a human jumping the length of a football field. 
(30 minutes. Lucky pig! Can you imagine?) 
The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds. 
(What could be so tasty on the bottom of a pond?) 
Some lions mate over 50 times a day. 
(I still want to be a pig in my next life...quality over quantity!) 
Butterflies taste with their feet. 
(Something I always wanted to know.) 
The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue. 
Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people. 
(If you're ambidextrous, do you split the difference?) 
Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump. 
(Okay, so that would be a good thing) 
A cat's urine glows under a black light.. 
(I wonder how much the government paid to figure that out. ) 
An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. 
(I know some people like that.) 
Starfish have no brains 
(I know some people like that, too.) 
Polar bears are left-handed. 
(If they switch, they'll live a lot longer.) 
Humans and dolphins are the only species that have sex for pleasure. 
(What about that pig??, Do the dolphins know about the pig?) 

A few truths....

I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die. 
· Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
· I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger. 
· There is great need for a sarcasm font. 
· Was learning cursive really necessary? 
· Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood. 
· Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died. 
· I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired. 
· Bad decisions make good stories. 
· You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day. 
· Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again. 
· I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to. 
· I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call. 
· I think the freezer deserves a light as well. 
· I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay. 
· I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option… 
· I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger. 
· How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said? 
· I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters! 
· Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.  

18 March 2012

As I get home from work, over an hour late, and *finally* unlock my door, I feel I should be breathing a sigh of relief.  But, much to my dismay, work was only the second battle of the day.  My first battle (still in progress) was with Paypal.
I drop my bag, my weapon, and take off my uniform top and my pc.  I grab a quick drink of lemonade, to rinse the grit out of my mouth, and hurry off to the latrine to relieve myself.  On my way down, I pop in my headphones, because if I don't, I get stopped by every single person I run across.  Everyone knows me, even if I don't know them.
As I'm washing my hands, I stand there a minute, letting the cool water run over my hands.  I don't know why, but running water, for me, is very soothing.  Water is a special, weird little feller, that gets to run its own course, and no one can tell it to do otherwise.
I return to my room, and my roommate has just gotten back, we have a short conversation as I boot up my computer, which restarted itself last night, after I fell asleep doing paperwork.  Fortunately, it only takes 10min for it to boot up, as opposed to the usual 45min, when its restarting.  My computer is 4 years old, and is starting to show its age.  I love it, and I hate it.  But its mine.  All mine.
I reload all the pages I had open, resuming my attempts to purchase compression shorts, for my PT uniform.  Paypal is still giving me a hard time, and every time I try to change my address to mail it directly to me, it freezes up.  My internet is running very slow, so each attempt at purchasing takes about 10-20min from beginning to the point of refreshing and starting again.  Thats even after I settle on just having it go to the preloaded address, and having my wife send it to me.  In the middle of it all, my internet goes out.

I sigh.
I change my headphones from my ipod to my computer, and I turn on one of my relaxation tunes.  I change from my short sleeve tan tshirt to my red thermal, and throw my head into my pillow, staring up at the ceiling.  I focus on my breathing, focusing on each inhale, each exhale.  I meditate for a while, not even realizing when the sound of pouring rain stops coming from my ear buds.
I feel a bit lighter.  Still frustrated at the events at work today; but a bit more centered than I'd been all day.
I feel a little less needing of Mental Health.  I guess thats good.  Lets see how long it lasts this time.
I recheck the internet, still out.
I sit up, stomach rumbling a bit.  I pull my goody box from its "hiding" place, and decide on the box of oreos. I lick the creme out of several, only eating the bits of cookie that break off.  I finish the last of the lemonade, and organize my bed a little.
I check my phone.
I check if the internet is back on.
I decide to call my wife.
The first attempt doesn't go through.  I try again, and am successful.  Shes making breakfast for the twins, but hands the taste to BIL1, so we can talk.  She is good at knowing when I need to vent.
I tell her about the events going on at work.  The new rules and policies, the constant punishments being dished out to the soldiers, all as part of a show to appease the powers that be.  We are all on edge, I tell her.
CSM, who earlier this week chewed out one of my NCOs for our supply tent being in disarray (something we had no control over, since the Cell put a bunch of their MASCAL crap in there, that we aren't allowed to touch) sent his assistant down to tell us he wanted to see the tent.
This sent everyone scrambling.  Even though the tent is almost spotless (can't be "spotless" in Afghanistan), they are so on edge, they all rushed to the tent, just to make sure nothing had fallen out of place.
I stayed out of it.  CSM doesn't want to hear a word that would come out of my mouth involving that tent.  And I can't afford any more strikes against me right now.
I am toeing a line right now, and am at risk of losing my time, my money, and my rank.  Because everyone is on edge.
I made an error on our mission schedule several days ago, with not realizing ONE single date had changed, out of 20 dates, of 10 missions, on a board full of information I'm supposed to know.  I was chewed out on three different levels, only because someone overheard the soldier (whos mission it was) informing me of it.  The soldier, meaning no harm in the conversation, apologized after I was "smoked" by a higher up, in our open office.
I was then bitched at, for my "corrective training" being so visible.  Yes, because I am the one who decided I would do pushups in plain view of everyone walking into the building.
I didn't even bother to mention that I am medically not supposed to do pushups, because of the whole getting-shot thing....  I just did my 50, and moved on..... going off to "hide" in my NCO's office.  Far away from anyone with a concrete lamp post shoved up their rear end.
I then had to counsel 2 soldiers for being late this morning, even though, by my clock, they were 3 minutes early.
Or how we will now be working longer hours, with no days off, for the foreseeable future...
Wife listened to everything, and some other stuff that happened....Shes good at listening.
She talked things over with me, helped me destress.  Helped me gather my thoughts, and helped me get the motivation to actually show up for work tomorrow.
Then we talked about the kids.  Which always makes my day better.  I wanted to skype, but internet was still down.
We are officially 10 weeks pregnant!  She is starting to show, the tiniest bit.  She joked about how it just looked like she ate a big dinner last night.
None of the kids are sick anymore, and they are going to be enjoying the day at the park, BIL1, BIL2, and Teenager have a pickup game, and Wife will be playing with the twins on the playground near the field.
Wife says its a lovely 60* out, and the sun is supposed to make an appearance shortly.  There is a threat of thunderstorms, but hopefully they hold off so they can enjoy a nice day at the park.

Wife had to go, get dressed and get the twins dressed.  We'll have to skype tomorrow, so I can chat with the kids.
Fortunately, the internet came back on, as we were finishing up....go figure.
I refreshed my pages, wrote this out, and refreshed my pages again, periodically, while typing.

I now have a headache, and have to pee again, so I will post this now, and be back in a few minutes!

13 March 2012

War in Afghanistan

If you have never served your country.  Never served in the military.  Never deployed before.

Keep your anti-war bullshit opinion to yourself!

I am tired of all these people bitching about the war in Afghanistan.  Its not even really a war anymore, its a suppression of enemy forces, and a rebuilding of a country.  We are helping hundreds of thousands of people who CAN'T help themselves.... as opposed to the hundreds of thousands of people in the US who WON'T help themselves.  The ones everyone thinks we should focus on...
If you have a roof over your head, drinkable water, and can eat at least one meal a day: STOP YOUR BITCHING!

We are trying to help an ENTIRE COUNTRY worth of people get to the point of being able to sustain themselves and their families.  We are trying to help the children, the ones who stand on the side of the road when our convoys pass, begging for us to throw down something, anything, for them!
These kids light up like the Rockefeller xmas tree if you give them just a pencil.  Give them a Cliff Bar?  a Gatorade?  You just made that child's month!

Afghanistan is a 3rd world country!  One of the poorest countries in the world.  Houses here are made of mud bricks.  Doors are ill-fitting planks of wood.  Shoes?  Forget about that; if they don't have an ill-fitting pair of sandals, they are probably barefoot!  And I have seen kids walking barefoot in the snow, in the rocky mountains.

Healthcare?  The only people receiving quality healthcare in this country are the poor souls blown up by insurgent IEDs.  Those fortunate enough to make it to NATO medical facilities, anyway.

There is no such thing as credit in this country.  If you don't have the means (money, food, livestock) by which to acquire it, you go without.
Most farmers here grow weed and poppies.  Because they hope to make enough money to feed their families through winter.  You see, food crops don't go for much around here, and though it may mean they eat, it means they can't afford other things they need: clothes, equipment, other ingredients...

$300 is considered an annual income here.  Thats not even considered a monthly income in the US.  and its barely accepted as a biweekly income!

Afghanis do jobs most Americans believe are beneath them.  We have a pond here, of human waste.  I can tell you that I have never seen an American working at that pond.

These people manage to balance a week of firewood, and half their family on a single motorcycle!  They fashion household goods out of our throw-away's.

These guys are braver than we are!  The Afghanis who go on convoys with us: they don't get up-armor!  They don't have bullet proof vests!  They don't have Kevlars!  They don't even get their own weapons to defend themselves!
We ride around in our MAT-Vs, in full battle rattle, "safe".
And the interpreters?  These guys risk the safety of their entire families to help us out!  Some, for only $700 a month.  These guys KEEP US ALIVE, for $700 a month!
You know what they really want?
They want to earn their citizenship.
They want to come to America, and go to school, and be free.
And then, some of them want to return to their country and help it rebuild.

In Afghanistan, the family unit is strong.  Children respect their parents, and there is a deep love and connection within the families.... something that is being lost in the bullshit of today's America.

And, what do you think ending the war will do to unemployment in the US?
do you think that 140,000 soldiers being kicked out is bad enough?  What about additional soldiers they'll downsize?  And all the civilian jobs that go with them?
If you don't have a job, and you are trying to get one, do you want 140,000+ new people (with military experience) competing against you for the few jobs available?

Think before you speak.

Paper on 9/11 education/viewpoints

16 February 2008
Summary Response Essay

                “Mr. Barrett, who has a one-semester contract to teach a course titled ‘Islam: Religion and Culture,’ acknowledged on a radio talk show that he has shared with his students his strong conviction that the destruction of the WTC was an inside job perpetrated by the American government.”
                The uproar in the aftermath of Barrett’s statement was enormous.  Many urged the school to fire Barrett for spreading this idea to his students.  The administration stood by the teacher because he shared this information, not as propaganda for recruitment, but to show another view of 9/11, which has so many different viewpoints.
                The foundation of our educational institution is being able to teach just about anything without fear of persecution.  Many events in history have polar-opposite viewpoints and people need to understand all sides to truly understand history.  Barrett was teaching his students about a less favored view of 9/11, but there are many thousands who believe it as well.
                With almost any history book, they show the common belief of the area for which they are made, though those beliefs may not be how the rest of the world views things.  Darwin has proven the theory of evolution, but there are still many religious folks who choose to believe God created us, and they have a right to their viewpoint.  Believe it or not, there are still those who believe the world is flat even with all the outstanding evidence that proves otherwise.  They should believe what they want to believe, they have chosen how they wish to live their own lives and everyone is entitled to do so as long as no harm comes upon others because of them.
                Teachers these days have to teach a lot of material, some that may even cause issues in the classroom.  Things like the Holocaust and Nazis, or civil rights and the KKK are very important to understanding the world today, but tend to leave a bad taste in people’ mouths.  Understanding why the parties involved felt the way they did helps students understand how the world got to this point in history.  That doesn’t mean the students have to adopt the beliefs of the KKK, civil rights fighters, Nazis, or Jews, it hopefully just makes them less ignorant to hopefully never let these things happen again.
                As long as Barrett didn’t try to make his students believe his theory, he did nothing wrong.  Frankly, if college students can’t pick out their own truths by now, then they have no business in an institute of higher education.  No one outside of the college should be interfering with what they teach on campus unless it will cause bodily harm to others.

Paper on Alcoholism

Oct. 8,2008

                “Alcoholism is a deadly and dangerous disease,” said my father,_________, who saw his uncle fall to the disease more than a decade ago, watched my grandmother wither away from the disease until her death in January, and is dealing with his brother, David’s, fight with the disease.  Alcoholism destroys families, leaving a path of pain that sometimes never heals.  It can have long term effects on children, especially those born during the disease, forced to endure 9 months of poison. 
                Alcohol can destroy families in more ways than one. Alcohol can cause violent mood swings which can lead to physical attacks on family members even children. It leads to feelings of guilt and self-doubt in the people who must deal with it every day, this is especially true with children who tend to blame themselves for causing the person to act in such ways. Unless the alcoholic seeks help, divorce usually follows. The members of the family come away frayed, untrusting, and disillusioned about what family is all about.  The children then grow up and fall into similar relationships, not realizing that the actions of an alcoholic are not normal, not to mention children of alcoholics are eleven times more likely to become alcoholics themselves.
                Fetal alcohol syndrome is a disease that affects a person for their entire life. According to Dr. Morgan French M.D., a neonatal specialist, FAS can lead to organ dysfunction and possible failure, physical deformations, epilepsy, poor coordination/motor skills, poor social skills, developmental delays, and overall failure to thrive. These symptoms can intensify as the child moves into adulthood rendering that person unable to live independently. One in seven hundred and fifty babies is born with FAS; it is the leading birth defects in the United States and it is entirely preventable.  Just one night of partying can forever alter the life of an unborn child and when that child is born, he/she will become someone’s burden.  With any luck the child will be as “normal” as possible and will grow into a functioning human being.
                Alcohol is a choice, a choice that can lead to a disease if not handled responsibly.  To the families with an alcoholic it is a curse, destroying every aspect of their lives leaving distrust, fear, and hatred in its wake.  It brands you for the rest of your life and ripples through generations, long after the last drop was consumed.

Paper on Confederate Flag

Another paper I wrote....

8 Nov 2008

The confederate flag is a controversial issue, it has been for over a hundred years.  On one side it is viewed as a sign of pride on the other, a sign of hatred.  “…the Southerners I've met that identify with it, they think of the flag as a symbol of the joys and values of being Southern. Many of these qualities, like common courtesy, are some of the things that are so refreshing about the South….” (Pressberg)  On the other hand, “…The Confederate battle flag has also been appropriated by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist hate groups. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 500 extremist groups use the Southern Cross as one of their symbols.” (Brunner)
Even in the beginning the confederate flag was a sign of heritage.  It bears Saint Andrew’s cross, “The reason that the CSA (Confederate States of America) put the St. Andrew's Cross on its flag is the Scottish heritage of the South.”(Dieteman)  Heritage is the cause for the creation of this symbol of the South and it is that heritage combined with what the South achieved that makes the confederate flag so important to so many people.  Out of the South came many things we use today and don’t think twice about: the sewing machine, fertilizer, railroad switches, revolving pistols, water wheels for mills, sleeping bags, cotton press, waterproof cloths, even the protractors that kids use in math class came from the South.  The South was the birthplace of a few more amazing things that people around the world don’t think twice about-artificial limbs, chain links, and finally the washing machine.  Without any of these things the world would be a completely different place, unrecognizable to us.  There are many things for the South to be proud of; the South is the reason we have clean clothes to wear each day, the reason our food arrives to the correct distribution centers, even the reason we understand angles.  To forget all of these great accomplishments because of one horrible thing would be wrong.  We are supposed to be the land of fresh starts yet we refuse to pardon the South for its role in slavery.  America is supposed to be the land of equals, everyone with the same rights, abilities, and opportunities, and most of the South has adopted that idea.

                The idea of the confederate flag representing hate is permeating through the historical representations of the South:
It is being removed from monuments, displays, and all kinds of public events. Most often, the reason behind the removal of the flag design, is because it represents hate, and/or is considered a racist symbol. The most common behind such comments, is because the flag has been used and is often associated with the beliefs, acts and deeds of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as other hate type groups. So, because such hate groups use the symbol, it is now a racist symbol of hate. … Many will say it is a symbol of racism, because it represents the South, who fought a war to preserve slavery, and slavery is racist, therefore their symbol is racist. Well, I won't spend any time proving this, since there is so much information out there that sets this record straight, but let me make a few statements:
·         The "Civil War" was not started nor fought over slavery
·         The flag does not represent a "pro-slavery" position, but a pro-American, pro-Constitution position
·         Slavery was legal in the US from 1776 to 1865, under the US flag...not the Battle flag
·         The CSA Constitution made the slave trade illegal (in the South) before the war even started
·         All slaves brought to America were done so by Northern ships, not Southern ones
So if the war was not fought over slavery, then the flag therefore cannot represent a racist agenda. On top of that, slavery was not limited to the black race, there were blacks, indians, and even whites who were slaves; so the claim of racism against any one people group (most commonly only the African Americans) is even more ridiculous. (McCormack)
                If even those in the South believe it to be a sign of hate when it is in fact a sign of heritage, then most people would choose not to argue.  Believing that a sign of pride, heritage, and common courtesy is not how the newer generations of Americans should be raised.  Kids need to understand that the confederate flag isn’t a sign of intolerance, misunderstanding history tends to lead to a repeat of history.

Work Cited
Brunner, Borgna. "Infoplease". Pearson Education. Nov. 6, 2008 <http://www.infoplease.com/spot/confederate1.html>.
Cheng, Eileen Ka-May. "FLAG CULTURE AND THE CONFEDERACY: BLOODSHED AND NATIONAL IDENTITY." Reviews in American History 31.2 (2003): 268-274. America: History & Life. EBSCO. LRC@TCC, Virginia Beach, VA. 7 Nov. 2008 <http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.vccs.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ahl&AN=A000539582.01&site=ehost-live>.
Dieteman, David. "Saint Andrew's Cross". LewRockwell.com. 7 Nov 2008 <http://www.lewrockwell.com/dieteman/dieteman44.html>.
McCormack, Jeffrey Todd. "Brief History of the Ku Klux Klan". CSANet. 7 Nov 2008 <http://www.pointsouth.com/csanet/kkk.htm>.
Pressberg, Jason. "The Pendulum Online". The Pendulum . Nov. 6, 2008 <http://www.elon.edu/e-web/pendulum/Issues/2005/04_07/opinions/flag.xhtml>.

Paper on Deafness

Wrote this in 2008, for a class

The Many Aspects of the Deaf World

                Children, hearing or deaf, tend to thrive more equally in the Deaf community than in the Hearing community.  Hearing parents teach hearing children to speak as they do and they have a tendency to try the same thing on their deaf children.  The problem there is that English is an auditory language, it takes years to master for hearing children, for deaf children it can be an impossible wall leaving them unable to communicate effectively with their families and peers.  On the other hand, hearing children born to deaf parents can learn right along with deaf children born to deaf parents.  That is because ASL is a visual language, you don’t need to be able to speak or hear to absorb ASL.  The road block hearing children of deaf parents have to deal with is speech development which is easily rectified with exposure to hearing people and possible speech therapy.  The hearing children of deaf parents end up fluent in two languages while the deaf children of hearing parents struggle to communicate with others.
                This isn’t always the case, and just as there are hearing people who only expose their deaf children to auditory language there are some in the Deaf community who refuse or are unable to expose their hearing children to other hearing people.  Growing up in any of these situations  doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in life, on the contrary, depending on the child’s abilities, a deaf child may thrive in an English only setting or a hearing child may thrive in a deaf only setting.  No one method is the absolute method, each child is different and maybe they will be okay in even the rashest situations.

Other Accommodations for the Deaf

                The Deaf community has the unfortunate reality of living in a world not created for their needs.  Telephones, alarms, doorbells, and many other necessary items have been modified over the years to make them accessible to the Deaf community.  The first example is the telephone.  Originally a solely auditory system, it now has TTY which makes it possible for deaf or hard of hearing people to use them.  Another modification that benefits the deaf community is the ability to text message with cell phones, now they can communicate with friends and family where ever they are.  Alarms and doorbells have changed to suit the Deaf community as well.  When the doorbell rings and when the alarm clock goes off in the morning flashing lights can be an effective method of alerting people.  Another alarm clock method is a bed vibrator, shaking the bed to wake up its occupant.  Some in the Deaf community acquire hearing dogs, which basically follow the same concept as seeing eye dogs.  They alert their owners to things that the owner can’t readily observe-a ringing phone, a knock on the door, a crying baby, even the smell of smoke while the owner is asleep.  These types of accommodations allow Deaf people the ability to live independently.  

11 March 2012

A dad's expectations

So, y'all already know a lot about Boy.  He is the wonder kid that defies the odds stacked against him.
He was born with a heart defect and underdeveloped lungs.  The combination could have killed him, and we were made very aware of that.  He pulled through the surgery, and we were the most relieved we'd been our entire lives!  They said his lungs would be a big problem for him, and after 9mo of oxygen therapy, Angel Care machines, nebulizers/breathing treatments and several cases of pneumonia, he shone through again!  He only needs the oxygen when he is sick now, and he doesn't stop breathing anymore!  His asthma flares up on occasion, but aside from that, he is perfectly healthy!
Around that time, he was diagnosed with mild CP.  He required AFOs for early intervention, and we were told that he may never walk right, be able to run, or have decent fine motor skills.  Talk about a stab to the heart!  We are an athletic family, we spend lots of time outdoors, at the beach, etc!  We are also a family of artists, his big sister is going to the best public arts college in the country!
About 4-5mo later, he took his first steps!  He eventually got out of the AFOs, and around his 2nd birthday he finally could run, very poorly, and with lots of boo boos, but he was moving!
One of the most exciting (imo) events recently was when he was able to play "soccer" with his sisters for the first time!  To go from:
May not survive
May never have the lung function to do much
Being allergic to everything
May never walk
May never run
Kicking a volleyball, while running, not falling down,
and not having trouble breathing, and eating most anything he wants!!!

Boy can also hold crayons, and even though his art is on a preschool level, its something we don't take for granted.

Now, the issue has come up about other possible neurological issues...  And the fact that a bunch of people think hes gay because he likes giving kisses to anyone and everyone.   If he does have ASD, we will manage. If he is gay, who cares?  As long as he loves and is loved, thats all that matters in the world!

There are much worse thing that could happen in the world than my son being in a wheelchair or being Autistic.  He could have never survived that first week!

Sure it does worry me to have a physically "disabled" kid: Will he be treated fairly?  Will he resent his siblings?  Will he feel left out?  Will he get the care he needs?  Will he thrive?  Will he be happy?

And it worries me to have a mentally "disabled" kid: Will he be treated fairly?  Will he resent his siblings?  Will he feel left out?  Will he get the care he needs?  Will he thrive?  Will he be able to survive in this world?  Will he be Happy?

Or having a homosexual kid: Will he be treated fairly?  Will he be happy?

Or having a "normal" kid: Will he be treated fairly?  Will he feel left out?  Will he thrive?  Will he know/care about the challenges others face for being less-than-"normal"?  Will he be happy?


09 March 2012

The Life of Wife

I was born in the throes of summer, the day Acton arrived in England , setting the world record for sailing the globe solo.  I was the first girl born into my family in nearly 6 generations.  I was greeted by my oldest brother, who we fondly called Aleko, and my brother P.  I spent my childhood with 4 brothers: Aleko, P, S, and M.  My father was a teacher at a strict catholic school, an all boys school, that I attended thru primary.  My mother worked in fashion.  My brother Aleko was the best big brother anyone could ask for.  We adored him, and it killed us when he was unable to be with us, which was often.  Aleko had Cystic Fibrosis.  In the 80s, there was little to be done about the disease, which caused thick mucus to build up in several organs, including the lungs.  The disease kept Aleko small, and people actually thought him and one of our younger brothers were twins,  the disease also limited what he could handle, physically.  He slept on the second floor, while the rest of us slept on the 3rd floor, because even going up one set of stairs could leave him out of breath.
Our childhoods were subdued.  When Aleko was home, we read books, played board games, and kept our activities minimal.  When he was sick was the only time we played sports around the house, and rough housed and such.  There was a sense of guilt among us, we felt horrid about acting in front of him activities he couldn't do.
When Aleko took his final turn for the worst, P and S became withdrawn.  M was just a little guy, barely out of preschool, and didn't understand what was happening.  Aleko left this world at the tender age of 12, with the wisdom and love of someone 5x his age.  That was the point where my relationship with P and S severed, never quite regaining that connection we had in our youth.
My parents took his death especially hard, as even knowing the prognosis, no one ever is prepared to lose their child.

Over the next several years following his death, my youngest brother was born, my parent's marriage fell to shambles, they got divorced, and I got pregnant.

My pregnancy was the result of a naive catholic girl's act of rebellion (with my best friend) against a situation I couldn't control; and I plead ignorance (at the time) to the knowledge that certain activities lead to babies (Yay for Catholic school upbringing)!

At the point in time that my parents found out I was pregnant, my mother had just moved to Paris for her job, and my father was realizing that the Roman Catholic church (He had been a straight laced catholic all his life) was not as receptive to our new conditions as he'd hoped.  He didn't talk to me for a year.  And, yes, we lived in the same house that entire time.

I was effectively mothering my younger brothers, schooling, and preparing for my own child, barely a teenager myself.  In the early winter of '94, I brought my daughter into the world, unwillingly-drug-free, and with just a nurse, as the doctor was out of town (that always seems to happen, doesn't it?).
My father couldn't stay mad forever, as he held his first grandchild, but it took several more months before our relationship returned to any semblance of its former self.  The boys, Teenager, and I spent summer break with my mother in Paris, and upon returning to England, P stayed behind in France.

I must clarify quickly:  my parents never stopped loving each other.  Their relationship continues on several levels, still.  Some of those levels I shall never be able to burn out of my eyes.  They have just been unable to live in the same house, or even on the same continent, since my brother died.
I guess it works to their advantage now, as they have been able to pursue their dreams, and none of us have really suffered the worse for it.

After finishing up secondary, I got accepted into university in the US.  Hesitant to leave my brothers and my daughter, my mother took care of her, so I could focus on my schooling whilst away.  There were many transatlantic visits, which eased the separation.
After finishing at university, I got accepted into the law program, and stated in Mass for a few more years.  That was my first real experience in America, and my mates made sure I dabbled in a little bit of everything.  Much to E's dismay, I fell in love with the Red Sox during my time there, and went to quite a few games (E is a Yankees fan).  After finishing law school, I got a job offer in Illinois and gladly accepted it.  Teenager loved her school and friends, so I let her make the decision to stay in France, which actually worked out amazingly, as my job to me to Europe often, and I got to see her a lot, and she would spend her breaks with me in Illinois.

I eventually met E, we were engaged in April 2009 (Much to my father's dismay), pregnant a month later (Even more to my father's dismay, ans he realized I wasn't backing out), married that September, and life has been (for the most part) amazing since.

03 March 2012


This has been an interesting experience, and it's crazy how much has changed here in just the month since my last visit. The residents (local nationals and militaries) have been very welcoming, indeed! I have been privileged with several entertaining conversations with the Aussies, and have become a frequent flier at one of the shops here, walking away with several free treasures. The gem garnet, the scarf, a scorpion in amber, two bracelets, and a rather nice knife.... All free, due to my purchases of the eggs, my bayonet, and a couple other things. We are in a 40-man bay, ATM, and the atmosphere is that of good friends. This group has been an enjoyable bunch, and has made the journey rather interesting. I met up with a Navy medical person here, one who I hadn't seen since my first deployment. It brought up a lot of memories, good and bad, about the people we'd served with, and the friends we'd lost almost 10 years ago. So much has changed since then...
He has age a bit, as I'm sure I have, too. His kids, just ankle biters when we had deployed, are almost all teenagers. His wife has fought, and beat, breast cancer, too.
He has moved up in rank, and his experience from those days is put to good use, saving the lives of soldiers who come through the trauma bays here....their first stop on a long road of recovery. We were just a couple of punks back then. I was early 20s, he was late 20s. Underneath it all, we haven't changed much, but the world has aged us, wished us up, and chewed us up a bit. Responsibility has taken hold, but it has yet to get the better of us!
He is actually set to change to a duty station a short distance from where wife and the kids are, now. We are making plans to get the families together when I get back from deployment. Maybe one of our other guys, now stationed in DC can come down for it....make it a mini reunion...

It'll be good.

Of course I&apos;m weird


I figure I should add a few things that y'all may or may not already know about me. Things that make me weird.

I don't like mayo

I don't like fish

I like the taste of shrimp, but can't eat them..... They look creepy!!!

I can't walk barefoot anyplace that isn't my house or the beach....

I only wear champion brand socks....no particular reason, just cause.

I am a sockaholic

I forget to clean my belly button

I am not a fan of technology, and think people rely on it way to much.

I have been an insomniac for ten years... And most people think its because of my first deployment, when its actually from losing my daughter.

I don't like crowds

I don't like loud music (unless I'm at a concert)

I don't like strobe lights and fog machines

I don't like any combination of the above three things

I hate mouthwash

I hate anything that makes cinnamon a burning hot flavor

I think Patron is for overpriced hookers and wannabe gangsters

I am a cuddler

I don't like showering when I am the only person in the house

If I am the only person home, dark rooms have their doors closed, and everything else is lit up.

I don't like having my eyes closed when other people are around me

I refuse to wear Nike, except for a pair of shorts and a jacket that were given to me from a friend who passed away

I don't like needles

I would rather give myself an IV than let someone I don't know give me one....

People don't realize what a mess I am inside, because I've become so good at hiding it over the years

If I don't know where it came from, I wont eat it

I won't eat a burger I didn't make at home

I'm not allowed to take ambien anymore because I overdosed on it once, and it still didn't work (no reaction at all)

I am allergic to chocolate, but love it.

I prefer kids to adults because adults take life too seriously

I don't like sleeping bags

My toes and fingers get claustrophobic

I don't like talking on the phone, and would rather take the ten minute walk to someone's office than call them

I can't eat anything slimy

I can't lean on my elbows, or my arms fall asleep

When eating in public places, I cannot be surrounded by people on all sides