Monday, January 30, 2006

What We Do For Fun...

And to think...he was one I trained this summer...

PsychoBabble Dribble...

I had to write a paper for PL 300 "Military Leadership". The class itself is relative bullshit...some good jewels to pull from the text, but overall, trying to turn what is really a personal art into a science. Frankly, either you can lead, or you cannot, and no amount of sitting in a class and learning about what good and bad leadership is (nor watching Band of Brothers video clips for analysis, which is the majority of classtime) is going to help.

Our first paper, a "leadership reflection essay" is due tomorrow and I spent a good twenty minutes on it. I called my mom, talked to Graf, checked on my plebes, and shined my shoes while writing it. I had thought about posting the entire essay online, but it's kind of long (5 pages) for a, instead, I'm posting some of my favortie "nuggets" of wisdom. These little jewels are mined straight from my brain, so sit back, kick up your feet, and prepare to become a better leader...
  • Particularly, social awareness and relationship management are two areas in which I have a natural ability to excel that I use to my advantage to strengthen my leadership skills.
  • This was not because I was any easier than any of the other Squad Leaders, but it was because the way I carried myself, by design, was in a professional, yet approachable manner.
  • Chapter 5 of the PL 300 book reads, “Good relationship managers are able to build rapport and establish resonance by finding common ground…[and] are able to inspire and motivate people through a compelling vision” (53) Doing so has allowed me to create relationships with my subordinates, and superiors, which help the platoon to run smoothly and efficiently.
  • Now that I see how my behavior and standards, let alone those of my Squad Leaders and Team Leaders, affect the plebes, I realize that I have to hold my peers and upper class members of the platoon to the same, if not higher, standard as the plebes; only by doing this will the plebes see that the behaviors and values we are trying to inculcate in them is actually important and valuable to retain.

Lest you think this paper was created from a buzzword generator, I readily offer to send this piece-O-crap to anyone desiring to read it. You see, I've come to realize that certain classes expect you to say what they want to hear...not think for yourself. That is why these classes are miserable, they are forced upon everyone, and I always get a crappy grade in them.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Too Funny...

Alright, this isn't political, personal, clever or otherwise worth anything but a laugh, but this is my friend Beau's little brother and he cracks me up. This will be my album cover if I ever come out with an album. Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce, Jeb

Sat Night Outing...

Saturday was awesome...well, half of it was, the other half sucked.

We woke up and went to breakfast then we packed our rucks and went down to take a PT test (in BDU's) and then had an 8 mile ruckmarch. It really wasn't all that big a deal, the ruckmarch, other than if you've known me recently, anytime I carry weight and try to head downhill, my knee starts to feel a little like someone is taking a bat to it everytime I step down. I was making pretty good time and then we hit the hill...the downhill (uphill is fine) and when everyone took off running, I got about six steps and had to walk gingerly. At that point, I moved from being somewhere in the top ten to being somewhere near the bottom ten...what a bitch.

Anyway, after that we had a barbecue and I called my friend to see if he wanted to get some food and watch a movie or som'n. I hadn't ever hung out with this kid before even though we've known each other for some time (it' s odd when that realize that you and your friends haven't ever done anything outside of school). Anyway, he likes good music so driving was a pleasure as he has a slight case of music ADD and went from song to song and genre to genre the whole car ride.

Because people in NY and NJ have nothing better to do, they hang out in malls. I'm not talking like in California, where they shop a lot, no...they just loiter. It's disturbing and disgusting and I hate this part of the world because of it. Not just Jr. High kids either, this is families, dates, groups...I can only imagine how shitty life must be when the only thing you can think to do on a saturday night is go to a couldn't get seated at Dave and Busters, TGIF's, Chevy's or the Maccaronni Grill for over an hour and ate in the nasty nasty fast food court instead...ugh...disgusting.

We ended out seeing Annapolis which is truley horrendous. It's the worst of An Officer and a Gentleman mixed liberally with Rocky (but only the bad parts of both) and, to tie the story lines together there is a smattering of bad acting and every movie cliche you can imagine...and that doesn't even get into how apparent it was that the people who wrote the movie knew nothing about life at the academies than what they may have culled from a tour brochure or something similar.

Oh, and I should also mention that my friend humms and sings songs to himself about what is going on around him...such as "we're going past best buy...I really like best buy best buy best buy...gonna spend my gift best buy..." That made me laugh a lot.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Rings n Things...

You know, when you get a 30K loan and choose the stone of your class ring (not what type of stone mind you, but the actual stone, which is now bagged and tagged awaiting the mold of gold), things start looking up...

Here are some random things that have been said, done, written or happened that interested or intrigued me over the last few days (in bullet form, thanks to Miss Alexandra):
  • What can one do for fun at Fort Bragg North Carolina? Well, according to my PE instructed (a man who canceled class last year because he "had a tick on his nipple"), "You can enter coon huntin' competitions!"
  • According to my personality survey results from plebe year and now, I have changed in the following ways; I have moved from low to high in angry hostility, self-consciousness, deliberation and impulsiveness, I have moved from high to low in warmth, vulnerability and values. It does say, however, that I am still, "Less likely to experience feelings of joy and happiness than most men" and I am "willing at timies to flatter or trick people into doing what [I] want , but [I am] reasonably considerate of others..." I have "limited aspirations and might be considered somewhat lackadaisical or lazy" and, big surpise, I am, "generally liberal in [my] social political and moral beliefs."
  • I would talk about my ring, which is all I can think about, but I want it to be a suprise...
  • I am going to climb Kilaminjaro next Christmas
  • My English teacher and I had our conference today. He put my paper down, graded side down and asked, "How long did you spend writing this?" I got nervous and told him, in truth, that I'd actually spent a long time on it...I was nervous...then he said, "And how do you think I can convince the others to put in as much effort as you obviously did?" and I'd gotten an A...woohoo!
  • I got a box of bunuelos from my Aunt in Los Angeles, a dessert I haven't eaten since I was a little was so good. When I got the box not knowing what was inside, I stopped reading after I read the first line of the letter, "I enjoyed making the bunuelos..." I literally dropped it in the middle of a walkway and started ripping at the tape with my teeth...oh sweet bunuelos...sweet sweet bunuelos. I called to thank her and asked if they take long to make and she replied, "no...just all day."
  • My little sister wrote this about me in one of those stupid myspace surveys:
    Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules: a rebel who doesnt understand why the rules are the way they are. Do I have any siblings: no your head was too big for mom and dad to have anymore, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh What is a memory we have once had: probably when you used to pick me up from school and you play some beetle song and make fun of me then we'd go get slurpies or richardsons.
    Ha! See, who knows me more? A stupid personality survey or someone who shares my blood? My BLOOD!
  • In the poltical world, Senator Rick Santorum has said quite possibly the dumbest thing he's ever said in his life:
    “And yet we have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what’s at stake. They’re willing to sacrifice their lives for this great country.What I am asking all of you tonight, is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country, to fight for what we believe in?”
    Ha ha ha! Um, right Mr. Santorum...putting a re-election sticker on a car is pretty much just like dodging bullets isn't it? Jeez
  • I am liking Hillary and Gore both more and more and more. Their positions are becoming more nuanced and better thought out. They have learned to balance liberalism with pragmatism, pacifism with the threat of force, an understanding of what went wrong in Iraq with what we must now do. Unfortunately, it is the fact that they are nuanced and see the dichotomy between things that makes them pretty much unelectable. Like it or not, we live in a world of color wheras we want to live in a world of black and white.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

This Rocks...

OK, it doesn't really, that was a lie. The point is, what kicks ass is the fact that I am now officially a bad cadet. I mean, let's throw out the fact that I actually keep my shit clean this year, shine my shoes everyday, study (yes...I've been studying) and am otherwise doing everything I should...oh, and I've been working on the whole cow loan, 500th night, Respect Captain business...but hell...

I can't run across a balance beam under pressure. Yes, it's true.

We had the IOCT yesterday something which, while sucking mad ass, hasn't actually posed a problem or threat to me ever. Anyway, I was running it and making pretty good time when I slipped off the balance beam. I don't know why...maybe it jiggled, maybe I looked down, maybe there was a gust of wind of the simple hand of fate...maybe my shoe slipped or maybe the planets were just improperly aligned...the point is, I fell off.

Now, for those of you who don't know the IOCT or have never attempted to negotiate the perils of a balance beam under pressure, two things are important to remember...the difference between getting and A and failing is one minute and for some reason, walking on a balance beam when people are watching and you're now nervous (as you've just fallen off) is far harder than it must seem. Thus, the next reason I'm a bad cadet...

It took me three further tries and a ten second pause to get my head straight before I could inch my way across a beam that only days before I had shown someone else how to do...yes, four tries in all my friends, to walk across a goddamn beam. The addition to my time? No less than 25 seconds...putting my final time far from the passing mark.

The cool part is, I was able (yes, that was sarcasm) to complete the course which is akin to putting ones head in a bag of asbestos and sprinting a mile. I get to re-do it next week, which is awesome, with all the other losers who failed, most of whom can't climb a rope or hurdle a hurdle...we don't call it "Barnum and Bailey" for nothing...Oh are some pictures of Christmas in Joshua Tree:

Monday, January 23, 2006


I'm taking a break from homework...

The most important thing to mention right now is that my computer was reimaged by the computer nazi's in IT. They took my computer and wiped it of four years of information, music, pictures, files, videos...everything. I was going to jump out my window but I couldn't fit.

Second on my list of mentionables is that this weekend, I realized how much older ("mature" possibly?) I am than I'd realized. I live with undergrads...and am, in fact, myself an undergrad. I didn't realize this was a term occassionally used with derission. I see now, however, why that is. In particular, I speak of one girl who was at the party we went to this weekend, Al and I, who was the embodiment of all that is evil with undergrads...particularly undergrad females. She can't hold her liquor, she is loud and obnoxious, doesn't understand common decency, is prone to bouts of public displays of affection and otherwise has nothing to offer the world. But...such is life.

I got my ring ordering packet today...which is awesome. It has my name in it for some reason even though I had nothing at all to do with the process (being class treasurer has its advantages I guess). I'm pretty excited about all that.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

500th Night Ball...

Here are two pictures of the Ball this weekend...didn't Alex look awesome. You know, the more interesting and fun a weekend or event is, the less likely I am to write about it. I am not very good at capturing the whole event, so I put it off until I feel par for the challenge, which is never, then it's too late. So, until I do write about it, these pictures will have to do:

These other two are from the Chrismakah party...

Oh...we were "facebooking" each other in this picture so we could then post the picture on facebook...yes folks, that's how cool I am.

Proud to Be Catholic!!!

OK, so I'm not even that Catholic...but still...this is awesome. I'll post most more later about the weekend and all that.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


AJ Klerekoper came back to west point to kick off our 500th night till graduation.
Unfortunately, it was the same night LIncoln Taylor and Brian Bailey are leaving. Lincoln is on the right of hte first pic and Brian is the only black guy in the second.

it was also a friends 21st celebration and she told me that she liked what I say in English class...that's mostly what I take away from the night.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why We Fight...

This is a great documentary that was online for quite a while and only shown in Britain. It is now opening in LA and NY, and I reccomend anyone who is in either of those two cities to go see it.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. [...] Is there no other way the world may live?"~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Oh, and since I'm onto politics...there is a great info-graphic in the NYT today about the Supreme Courts decision about Ashcroft and the assisted suicide thing. I don't think anything I read really understood the legal aspect of the decision and couched it instead in terms of "for" or "against" euthenasia...which is a misnomer at best. Either way, I liked the graphic:


The Indoor Obstacle Course Test is coming up...

It's held in Haye's Gym, a relic of the early 20th century...a building made of brick, stone and wood. The air that MacArthur breathed when he was here still hangs in the air and the words to the Corps "They are here in ghostly assemblage/
The men of the corps long dead" is literal...although, their "ghostly assemblage" is nothing less than two hundred years of human decay floating in the air. When you run the obstacles, you breathe it all in and it settles on your lungs like a layer of silt...imagine, if you will, sprinting about half a mile while trying to breathe through a pinched straw in a sandstorm and that's about what it feels like.

I slipped off one obstacle today and swung my body into an iron post hitting my shin. It broke the skin just a little, but I'm fairly convinced that if I weren't so super-human, my bone would have broken...OK, slight overstatement, but hurt like a bitch. I got it on film, actually, and I'll try and post it another time. It doesn't look all that impressive as I wasn't running it for time and was going kind of slowly...but sucks, and if you're not a cadet, you should be both impressed and pity me.


It had started raining this morning, very lightly, but there was a lot of wind. I had on my raincoat, which is practically useless as it has no sleeves and a cape that, if there is any wind, will blow over your head and cover your face. Meanwhile, you have to hold your hat with your free hand so it doesn't fly, you walk with one hand on your head, a cape flying in your face and your naked arms and books, if you have them, along with your knees on down exposed to the rain.

I got to class today in Lincoln Hall, one of the newer buildings on post (I think it opened in the sixties or seventies, but I'm not sure). Instead of having class in the second basement as we normally do, we were on the first floor in the conference room. It's a cool room with a huge oak table and leather chairs, so class was looking up.

As class went on, the wind picked up and you could hear it winding its way through the openings throughout the building. About thirty minutes into class, there was a huge gust of wind and what sounded like a car crash (a small one)...a brief second later, maybe two or three seconds, the window in the back of the room crashed. I was convinced it was a terrorist attack and that I hadn't been nearly vigilant enough. (Could it have been the shady guy who serves food in the mess hall? Or maybe it was the middle aged woman I saw walking on the street...I knew something was suspicious about her crazy knitted sweater)

As it turns out, it was nothing other than a bad case of poor engineering. In fact, the roof had blown off, about a ten by thirty foot section of it. The whole building started to sound crazy as wind whipped its way from the ceiling down through the basement via a vast network of narrow stairwells. Eventually, the fire alarms went on and we were told to go back to our rooms, but "to use the front exit as the roof is less likely to fall on you there."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I think I know what it is...

Yesterday, or the day before, someone asked me about my Dad. I've been thinking about him, again, ever since. I was thinking that at twentyfive, he was married. by twentyseven, he had his first child (I will be in OBC at Fort Huachuca Arizona trying to learn how to be in the Army again). By twenty-eight, he'd built a house, by thirty, he'd had me, and thirty three, Lucia. By forty-three, he'd built a second house and was finishing college.

I just read this guys blog, although I don't know who he is, and he wrote something that said what I think about quite often;
It is weird to be this same age that my parents were when they were making their impassioned decisions that so fundamentally defined my life, and to see those decisions being made from the point of view of uncertain yet well-intentioned adults. Maybe I give people too much credit. Bored, lazy, unstable... I don't know. If I had had any concept of frailty when I was a kid it wouldn't seem so astonishing to me now.

I guess I worry too much about what I'll do in the future...but I tend to overthink things. I wonder every decision I make if it's the "right" one or if I'm just fucking myself in the long run. Am I the only one who does that? It doesn't seem like other people are as constantly worried as I am. three days, Alex will be here and we'll have a weekend of crazy-go-nuts fun to wash away the grey...


Overly Emotional and Introspective...

It's weird how depression hits...Or when you feel it coming but there's nothing you can do. Like a slow motion car wreck.

I keep thinking of the book Sweet Thursday, one of my favorites...of Doc sitting at his desk and trying to work and, while his top voice says "work work work" his second voice tells him it is futile while--in the very back of his mind, unbeknownst to even him--the third voice says simply, "lonely...lonely..."

Maybe I just listen to too much Radiohead, or because of the recent snow, or because my friends somehow seem more distant than before...or maybe it's because I miss my family and home. Then again, "Maybe that's all home is--a group of people who miss the same imaginary place." (anyone know the movie?)

A few years ago...before I left for the army, my little sister and I went to a small restaurant in Coronado. She hadn't even met Shamus yet and was worried about her future...I was worried about the army and how I would cope with everything (if anyone knew me before the army, in my more counter-culture days, you'd understand the apprehension). It was a fifties style soda counter with lots of chrome and jukebox with Johnny Lang...I don't know why I always think of that day as the turning point...when we all (my whole family) went from what we were to what we are. I love my family still how they are...and I'm really happy they're all happy, especially Lucia and Shamus, but I can't help but wish I could have one more day how things were.

I'm rambling as I type becuase I'm trying to root out what the hell this feeling, if you're bored or reading or simply don't want to know this much about me (which is more than understandable) then please feel free to stop reading and send me an email that reads, "suck it up and drive on asshole."

I have this vivid memory of my dad's last days...when he was in the bed in the room with the purple fireplace. I was sitting on the stoop of the fireplace wondering what to do (what does one do to pass time until death?) My dad was going in and out of consciousness and, when he was awake, he was mainly crying or confused or simply rambling. My mom came in and wiped his face and gave him some water and Kristie and Jason were sitting on a couch on the other end of the room. They were holding each other. Lucia and Shamus were standing in the entryway where there isn't a door...but that's where the opening to the room was. After my mom wiped dad's lips, she started to cry...then she did something that has always stuck with me...

Even though my dad couldn't feel her, or know she was there, she crawled into the bed with him and just held him. Her head was on his chest and she put his leathery arm around her and just laid there...breathing and crying and being with him.

I remember thinking to myself that if I were to go through that, I would go through it alone...ha ha quote yet another movie, "It takes a special type of person to worry about being along for the rest of your life in your twenties..." (you know this one Dulla?) But...I did worry. I imagined myself in a well furnished apartment with cool records and a well stocked liquor cabinet with all the accoutrements of a well lived life and me in it...Alone. That's a crazy idea...but I feel like it's the life I'm setting myself up for.


One Of My Favorite Things...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sounds Perfect...

I don't know much about Mt. Washington, but from how this guy describes it, I think I want to move there:
Mount Washington is the neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles where I live. It's one of the oldest neighborhoods on the city, halfway between Downtown and Pasadena in the historic Arroyo Seco. It's a strange burg, one of the true secrets of Los Angeles; as far, at least socially, from Hollywood and the West Side as from Katmandu.
Mount Washington has always been bohemian; it's a craggy run of hillsides with hollows as deep as Appalachia and otherworldly views of Downtown and the San Gabriel Mountains. On its impossibly winding and steep streets you find all kinds of homes, mostly populated by progressive types. Old hippies in their ancient wooden shepherds shacks surrounded by thickly overrun gardens butt property lines with industry creatives in beautifully preserved mid-century modern "glass-box" houses hanging out over space, while across the street equity-flush bohos reside in contemporary homes of eclectic design, including some of the most innovative current architecture in America. It takes folks with a certain commitment to aestheticism to put up with the scary one lane streets, mudslides, and inconvenient, often creaky and weird old houses like these.

I realized this morning that all the blogs I read are just other people like me writing crap online in their spare time. It's both wierd and interesting. I mean...some of these people write really well, are insightful and interesting. Just a decade ago, they would never have been heard or read. Cool.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

One Of Those Days...

It's the first day of a three day weekend but I didn't want to spend too much money, so I stayed home. I woke up when my roomate began to dress for a big day of baptising dead people at the tabernacle and layed in bed listening to the horrendous rain for about three hours. I only got out of bed when I had to go to lunch. (the good news here is, after three years, they've changed the rules and in our "cadet casual uniform" which is basically khaki pants, a polo, belt and shoes, now men as well as women can wear sandals, instead of just women as before.) After lunch, my friend Mel asked if I wanted to go to the mall to catch a movie. I said sure and we headed off.

Our taxi driver was one of those people who will prompt me to be a standoff-ish asshole to most everyone I meet for a while. You see, he seemed cool at first, talkative and "normal" compared to most cab drivers I've gotten here, so we let him in on our conversation. But, his personality was a bit...overbearing, to say the least. You see, by letting him in, we encouraged, by the time the 45 minute drive to the mall was near its end, I was just clawing at the windows to escape the clutches of his racist sexist slimeball personality. I played dead (asleep) the whole way home.

When we got to the theatre, despite my best intentions, everyone wanted to see Hostel. I knew what it was going to be, and I was right. It's a shitty shitty movie that's all about gore and torture with little to no real value, plot, character, setting or direction (imagine, say...The Passion...just if it wasn't Jesus, but someone you don't care as much about).

After watching two hours of toe cutting, beheading, razor wielding, shooting BS, Mel and I cruised the mall for a bit. There was nothing to buy and I needed nothing, so we just talked, which was cool (Mel's a cool chick). We ate dinner and came home. I borrowed Mel's computer since my video card doesn't work, but forgot to get her code, so now her computer is sitting here like an overly-priced paper weight and I'm not watching a movie.

None of my usual blog reads are updated.
Nothing new in the news.

My mom called from one of my best friend's wedding party, which I couldn't attend, so I could hear my other friend give the toast. That made me a little sad. That and the snow falling outside...

So, congrats married fool. Below the picture is a blog post my sister wrote about being married that made me both happy and jealous.

(I kept her spelling the same as I find her writing is part of her charm...)

Resently Ive realized how much my head plays tricks on me. Seeing as sometimes I can completly forget how amazing my husband is and be convinced he doesnt like me. Its stupid realy. Ive learned how much I read too far into things and how much I can contrive problems all in my head that will than become a real problem because I make it one. This blog is dedicated to the dedicated man who through all of my accusations of "not loving" or "trying to be meen", has never actualy not loved me or tried to be meen to me. In fact he has continued to care about me as much as when we got married. Which as some of you know who knew us than thats a lott. So thank you shamus for the following :Dancing all the way to school cause you know Im watching just to make me happy.Never ever wishing I was someone else.always pushing me to do the things I enoy like sewing, painting, going for walks, making stuff, working on prodjects, when I tend to always do anything but that and then get deppressed because Im not being myself anymore.Getting excited just to spend time with me.Writing little notes in my lunch box or putting pictures in it when Im sad to go to work.There is much more but ill spare the other readers. So thank you again to my husband for showing me how great marraige can be.

How Cool Is This...

There is this site where you type in whatever you want and it'll spell it out in street sign letters that change all the time....F'in sweeeet!

circle k(idd valley)I 017CK

What I Listen To and A Compliment...

After my English class yesterday, I got one of the best compliments ever. We were discussing a story written by an Iranian in the fifties in which a French woman moves to Iran, doesn't like it and leaves. Most people felt very sympathetic towards her. I, on the other hand, pointed out that since it was an Iranian audience reading the story, there was pretty good evidence that she wasn't intended to be sympathetic, but that she was intended to appear racist and ignorant. Most didn't agree with me and my Professor played devils advocate (but after class told me to "continue on the same path" for my paper) and thought I was just being a moron.

After class, one of the kids came up and said, "You know, when you said we should look at things from their perspective, I thought 'Yep...sounds like an Adam thing to say.'"

Wow! No joke, that was probably the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. The idea that trying to see things from a different perspective, particularly when it comes to culture and the like, being an "Adam thing" gave me so much pride it is probably sinful.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bremer and Iran...

I just thought this screen on was interesting. Article two is Bush: Iran armed iwth a nuke poses 'grave threat' I thought that sounded familiar, then I saw the third article: Bremer: 'I made some mistakes' in Iraq. Uh...yeah, I can think of one or two...I didn't realize it took three years to realize that though considering most people saw the "mistakes" before they were made. Anyway, hopefully, we've learned from the past and we can deal with Iran in a more logical, legal and effective way.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Too Much Thinking...

I just stumbled across this article written by a British General Officer and published in the Army journal Military Review. After having a British General and the Ambassador come speak at West Point, I was begining to get the idea that the British had nothing to say other than "good job" and "we're with you!" In fact, it was begining to get downright dusgusting how lap-dogish what I was hearing from the British was, espeically considering what I'd heard in London from the general public was quite the opposite of what I was hearing. Well, Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, a commander in Iraq, has written an article which is very critical of the way the war is being waged in Iraq. Not of going to war itself, which he supported, but of how we, US soldiers, are doing our jobs, from the top down. Here are some choice quotes (although, I reccomend to anyone who knows or wants to know about US military operations from an unbiased source to read the full article);
[soldiers] almost unfailingly courteous and considerate. [But] at times their cultural insensitivity, almost certainly inadvertent, arguably amounted to institutional racism.

In a Guardian review of the article, they write;
While US officers in Iraq criticised their allies for being too reluctant to use force, their strategy was "to kill or capture all terrorists and insurgents: they saw military destruction of the enemy as a strategic goal in its own right". In short, the brigadier says, "the US army has developed over time a singular focus on conventional warfare, of a particularly swift and violent kind".

It is interesting actually as I'd just watched the speech that General Schwarzkopf gave the Corps of Cadets for my Psychology class, which is focused on leadership. One thing he said, which I thought had a lot of resonance, was;
...In the final analysis, you should never forget that the airpoanes don't fly, the tanks don't run, the ships don't sail, the missiles don't fire--unless the sons and daughters of America make them do it. It's just that simple.
The mothers and fathers of America will ive you their sons and daughters. They will hand you their sons and daughters with the confidence that you will not needlessly waste their lives. And you dare not. You absolutely dare not. That's the burden the mantle of leadership places upon you.

I realize the connection may not be quite immediately apparent as most often, I'm the only one who sees the connection between the things that come out of my mouth (or this case), but I couldn't stop thinking about this quote. I guess there are times when I realize fully what it is, what it means, for me to be here. When it becomes clear what I am supposed to do and what is expected of me. When General Schwarzkopf said what he said, it can be applied equally to those who make decisions about when to go to war (and, in fact, I only wish the leaders of our country had heard, and heeded, his words before deciding on our current course) but also on the individual soldier and lowest platoon leader out there. It is the decisions I will make which will effect, at the most direct level, the changes that Brigadere Nigel Aylwin-Foster sees as neccessary and right for the US to make to finish this war with our character intact.

Random Pictures I Forgot...

I think I meant to post these long ago of the gift exchange but never got around to it...well, here they are, in all our glory, cadets being morons (and yet, oh so funny)... Kevin got a stuffed unicorn, Pablo got a shirt so small he can wear it clubbin',
Faraz Bala (aka Tennis) showed up (which was a crazy enough start to the night to begin with)...
And we all had a good time. In fact, we had so much fun, the stupid Yuks (who aren't really "stupid" they're just not nearly as cool as us) copied us a few nights later (but didn't have nearly as cool a crowd or as much fun).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Face Recognition!!!

According to My Heritage Face Recognition...I resemble the following people:
60% resemblance to Kareena Kapoor

55% to Ewan MacGregor

44% with Keanu Reeves favorite...
I bear a 44% resemblance to Camilla Parker Bowles!!

After One Week...

Reflections on my new roommate:

  • He has poor taste in music (which he listens to far too quietly to necessitate the amount of electronics he keeps on his desk).

  • He keeps the overhead lights on to use his computer…as if the glowing screen weren’t enough light to see (the screen) by.

  • He keeps me from listening to any rap or hip hop (which he considers offensive if it has the word “hell” in it)

  • He is always here…always

  • He speaks Spanish on the phone very loudly and animated so he can keep up the language skills he learned on his mission…I think I’m going to start keeping a tally of how many times I hear the word “Mormon” mixed in with the Spanish as it seems to be his only topic of conversation.

  • He takes an hour to dress on Sunday mornings before I wake up…and turns on the light to do so…and uses a loud electric razor as opposed to a blade (which wouldn’t wake me).

  • He sets multiple alarms which he lets go off (much earlier than I’d like to wake up) and lets them ring until I wake up completely to say, “Mike!”

Oh how I yearn for the days of roommates past…

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Paradigm Shift...

I was looking at a photoblog my friend Javier (from Chile) keeps. In case you didn't know, a photoblog is something only the cool kids do in South America, and I stumbled across a picture of him in the UN building. Unless I'm mistaken, the caption

aqui es donde Estados Unidos decide el futuro del mundo.
translates as "Here is where the US decides the future of the world." I just thought it was interesting to get a non-US perspective on things for know, being an International Relations major and all.

Monday, January 09, 2006

First Day of Class...

Today was day one. I have five classes on one days and two on two days (our revolving schedule). As you all know, I assume, I am an international relations major (which means, I like to read and write, not do math). My only major course this semester is Political Analysis which, I come to find out, is statistics. Ugh...what a bitch. The rest of my classes are all mandatory West Point BS; PE, Military Science, English, Info Tech (programming) Environmental Engineering and Psychology (military psych to be exact).

I walked into my military science class and realized I was in the wrong room, but, luckily, I was early. I walked into the next room and asked the Lieutenant Colonel there (that's one rank down from Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men for those of you who don't know rank...oh, and keep that image in mind...) who I asked, "Sir, may I see the roster to make sure I'm in this section?" He looked at me and said gruffly, "Harmon? Yeah, you're mine...didn't you get the god-damned email? Sorry I didn't send a fucking engraved invitation. Sit down." Wow...good start. Keep in mind, of course, that this was about ten minutes before class started. So, in my attempts to be early and look good, instead, the two of us just sat there staring at each other silently. Eventually, the seats filled out, he shut the door and yelled, "First Sergeant, close the hatch! Clear your desks...hurry up, this is your time!" Yeah, a GDFing quiz on day one...seriously people (wow, that was something Claire of Al would say)...this guy was crazy.

He's an old tanker, he lost 60% of his hearing in his right ear and his leg is, for real. I can't tell if he's got a prosthetic leg or what, but he limps everwhere. He keeps his chin tucked into his chest so he has to look up at you all the time, regardless of height, and the second thing he told us was, "Be sure to bring professionally edifying reading because we don't get out early here! I will try to wring every goddamn minute of professional devlopment out of this godforsaken place as I can!" Oh, he also speaks in sentences just like good ol' Jack from A Few Good Men but with a very strong Rhode Island accent. So, all his O's become A's and the letter R is always pronounced as an H. I spent the entire class trying to look interesting and thinking "what the hell...I hate the military."

Then he looked at me and said, "Mr. Ha-man...don't you fand this in'tristin?" I looked confused and he said, "You should be fackin excited about this!" and then his head looked like it was going to pop and I thought...Damn...I can't wait till next lesson.

Oh, after that was a suprise run (schedule change) and when we got back, a freshman was waiting outside my door looking very nervous. I asked what was wrong and he said, "SGT it normal to pee blood after a long run?" (you'll have to excuse him, he was home studied). I said no and took him to the hospital where I sat waiting for him watching Golden Eye. I missed dinner too.

One day down, a bunch more to go...

Justice Sunday III...

I think anyone who knows me or who has read this over the past knows how fond I am of intertwining religion and state. Justice Sunday III was a great time for all. Rick Santorum, Jerry Fallwell, Lou Dobson and other crazies got together to warn God-fearing Americans that the greatest thing we have to fear is an "activist court" and, while I'm sure most of these people have no idea what an activist court reallly is nor anything else about the law, this quote on their website cracked me up:

We will place this ad in key states around the nation to encourage citizens to join the fight against judicial activism. Every American must know how close we are to another radical departure from our nation's roots. Will we continue to honor God on our coins and currency, on the facades of public buildings, at the beginning of Congress and at the swearing-in of our Presidents? Help us make sure that the answer is 'Yes!'

Um...right, because the whole "render unto Caesar" thing was kind of a joke right?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My friends crack me up...

This deserved a blog entry of its own. It is an email from a friend, and if you don't get the humor, you probably don't know me well enough...but, if you do get it, it's absolutely hilarious. In the way of explanation, it was written by a cadet friend of mine in reference to my myspace page and is absolutely genuine (I removed the name in case he'd be embarassed):

I didn’t want to put what I’m about to say in the message title on the off-chance that someone might be looking over your shoulder and read what I’m about to write, but – you are one of the cutest guys I know (and I mean that in a really good way). Even at 25 you’re still really honest, and…adorable. You’re like the “teddy bear” friend, which makes things all the more hilarious because you don’t like being touched (something I don’t really understand because your family is so intimate).

Now, so where is all this coming from…? Well, I just read your blog entries (I was looking through my “favorites” listings for links to delete), and I saw two things that really made me smile – one about a girl that you” really have a chance with,” and your profile about how you now want a relationship – both of which are really funny and cute to me because since I’ve known you you’ve always been one of the most asexual people that I’ve hung out with. So here’s to you (ex)roommate. Go get her.

How hilarious is that?

Jesus and rides!

So, apparently, and this is no big suprise, the religious right of Israel and America are joining forces. Pat Robertson, the guy who said Sharon had a stroke because he tried to "divide God's land" and who is otherwise a complete moron, is planning to build a theme park on the site where Jesus fed the 5,000. The Israeli Minister of Tourism said that the Christian market was very important for Israel's tourism industry and ;
"We would like to give them more of a reason to come here. We would be willing to lease the land to them free of charge and they would finance the construction."

My question is...if the fact Jesus walked and preached there isn't enough, how sad is it people faith could be so fickle as to be inspired to visit by crappy rides and overlypriced food? I can imagine the thought process now, "Jesus taught there? meh, I don't think so...what? What's that you say? There's a new ride? Well alright...Kids, pack your bags, we're going to Jerusalem!"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My First Full Quote Blog...

In general, I write my own crap...but this was too succinct, too well awesome to change. it illegal to copy a blog? I don't know...if it is, I'll probably get an email or something. Anyhow, with no further ado, a quote from Andrew Sullivan's blog:

Here are the specific responses to Ariel Sharon's stroke by two leading fundamentalists in the world, Pat Robertson and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Julian cites them below.

"He was dividing God’s land. And I would say, Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone."

"Hopefully the news that the criminal of Sabra and Shatila has joined his ancestors is final."

The difference, of course, is that only one of these maniacs is on Karl Rove's A-list rolodex.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Conflict of Beliefs...

My roommate is Mormon.  When I look over my shoulder, I see a picture of their Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley (one of the fake hand-drawn kind run through photoshop) with a quote that tells me to “Be Graceful. Be Smart. Be prayerful. Be True” a picture of the temple in Hawaii, and a cutout of one of those Sunday school drawings of white people dressed up like they’re from ancient Palestine illustrating some sort of Mormon story.

I’m the respect rep of the company and will probably be in charge of the entire program next year.  One of my main points of interest was religious tolerance…thus the question that’s been bothering me.  Is it possible to be offended by a religion?

If my understanding of some of their religious passages are correct, then I think an argument could be made that Mormonism is inherently racist and sexist.  Odd.  So what does one do when your values and beliefs conflict?  When my belief that tolerance of others religions is key to making the Army for efficient and effective and my belief that no level of tolerance for sexism or racism is acceptable come into conflict with one another, which wins out?

Then again, the second prong of my approach to improving the command climate of the army is homophobia…so again, when homophobia is a key tenet of the belief of many members of the military, how do I pull both beliefs of mine together without giving up on one or the other?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Back Again

I'm back at School again after another amazing vacation. Unlike summer, this time it was not a "party every night" as Alex described my last visit home. I did, however, eat very well, drink lots and otherwise have a good time. I always think I'm going to write some outstanding blog when I return from home about everything I did and all the cool things my friends said or did...and then I get here and trying to remember everything is so overwhelming that I can't possibly put it all in one post. There were, however, some highlights:

  • Chrismakuh party attended by friends, family and others, including, but not limited to the (ex)roommate Mikey, Yvonne (a cadet) the usual Fallbrook crowd with some faces from the past (Janelle and Becky G.) parents and Euijo Payne, a friend from my army past.
  • Hiking to an oasis for Christmas day.
  • Eating healthy because Alex, Chuck and the others are all far more conscious of that stuff than I.
  • Enjoying the new pub in Fallbrook which has many good beers on tap.
  • Meeting some new people.
  • New Years, which deserves a blog to itself, including hanging with the Atkinsons, Ms. Matlack, the Perry’s, Mi Madre and her boyfriend, the whole crowd, some additions, a hooka, absinthe, fireworks in the pool, chuck magically stopping a fire alarm, Gatorade powder and vodka and me otherwise “playin the fool” as I got progressively drunker…the hangover lasted nearly until I got on the plane to come back…at 2200 the next night.

Mas Random

I woke up at 530 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep...this is the second time my night has been interrupted with sleepless periods, the first being two nights ago when I didn't fall asleep until after watching two movies and making myself some quesadillas (which were rather good considering I had just bought three types of cheese, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes and avocadoes) at three in the morning.

Anyway, the early rise allowed me some extra time to come back to the computer and read some blogs I hadn't read in a long time and start the new book I'm reading: Reason, Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America. I borrowed it from my Nina, who is also my personal hero. The premise of the book is that logic is on our side, and, since people will eventually always be persuaded by logic, the left must win in the end. I also picked up a new magazine I'm going to subscribe to titled "Tikkun" it's all about approaching politics with faith (faith...not religion) and creating a more just society. It is technically a Jewish magazine, but they extend the invitation to all people of faith. The new issue is titled, "Theocracy in America: Hostile Takeover"...the editors are also hosting a conference in DC, the second one now, to found a network of spiritual progressives. So, my interest is piqued...

I just read this awesome critique of a book about country music (Rednecks and Bluenecks) and want the book now...(I should add that I'm a huge Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash fan...)

I'm listening to the new Madonna CD and the following lyrics made me laugh out loud:

I don't like cities
But I like new york
Other places make me feel like a dork
Los Angeles is for people who sleep
Paris and London
Baby you can keep

I also bought a book with transcripts of Supreme Court hearings of many of the important cases, My Life by Bill Clinton and got East of Eden from Alex for Chiminea Day (a foundling holiday started by the Right Reverend Atkinson and his family).

For Christmas, I went to Joshua Tree National Park with my friend Pat. Neither of us had family around, so we did something mad cool instead and hiked to a natural oasis of California Palms. After that, we drove through the park and saw vast gardens of cacti and Joshua Trees...

it was awesome (and I'll post my own pictures as soon as I get them), then we made out our way to the afformentioned Reverends house for a Chiminea Day dinner and fireside chat.

There is plenty more to write about, but I'm hungry now and must run.

Mas Random...

Here's some stuff I found interesting since I've been home (and nothing about the trip home yet...I'll write all that in time):

Here's a Catholic Theologin who said exactly what I've been saying for years: despite widespread ignorance of the true theology, at its core, Catholicism is far more accepting and embracing of others than most religions.

The Judge in the Dover case about Intelligent Design finally made a ruling, against ID. Not only that, but he wrote one of the best decisions I've read in a while:

....Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on I(ntelligent) D(esign), who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

The Bush Administration has not only approved wire tapping of civilians without a court order, which is illegal, to fight the "War on Terror", but they have also been monitoring and wire tapping campus groups opposed to the war, and four which are opposed to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell much for fighting Terrorism when we can fight our own citizens...oh, other groups deemed worthy of being spied upon: Greenpeace, Catholic Workers (founded by the saintly Dorothy Day) and PETA.

So how did the Administration get away with it (other than the usual widespread double-play of fear and ignorance)? Well, apparently SCOTUS nominee Samuel Alito not only gave a green light, but pushed the administration to take such steps. His argument in 84 was that the government should have blanket immunity, when prosecuting terrorism, against domestic laws. He pointed out that this is unpopular, so an "incremental" fight should be waged, but that the ultimate goal was complete government immunity from domestic laws while fighting terror was a good end. At least he was ahead of his time...

So, the man who will replace O'Connor in the last stand we have against government intrussion into our personal liberties is himself involved in an illegal operation to curb those liberties and extend the government eye into our personal lives. I, for one, feel safe with him on the Courts.

Chrismakuh Party...

My part is taking off...I picked up Mikey tonight at the airport and we drank beer and had a good ol' time hanging with my mom and her boyfriend. Tomorrow, I have to buy booze, stuff for ponset, fried rice and a ham. Other than that, I'm pretty much hoping shit just falls into place...I can't wait to see everyone, it's been so long...awesome. Hope you're all having as good a time as I am...I love vacation.

Stupid SD Airport

Much like most military folk, I always use my duffel bag to's easy, quick and doesn't get confused with the billion black wheeled bags. Unfortunately, the people at the Airport in San Diego, who, being this close to three major military bases, have apparently never seen one, nor do they know how to pack/unpack one properly. Everytime I've come home, they have searched my bag and then closed it halfway so that, when I pick up my bag, there is shit hanging out of it.

This time, I nearly lost my bathrobe and I did lose a pair of the sweetest sport shorts ever. I was looking forward to lounging around in them and drinking beer on the patio. Bastard airport.