Tuesday, January 30, 2007


If enough people you know die, you can't help but begin to see people as clocks that are winding down...and wonder where your own hands lie.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Prarie Home Companion...

I just finished watching this movie. It's long, and kind of slow, but a really good movie nonetheless. I wont go into the whole story, but there are some really interesting overtones to it which reminded me of what I thought about while watching Children of Men. I highly reccomend it to anyone in the mood to watch a movie that makes you question lots of things, but gives you little answer.

How do you fight?

So, I'm often told, when it comes to matters of the heart, that I need to be more optimistic. I'm also normally told this by people who are practically married. So, the question becomes, how does one remain optimistic in the face of what seem like insurmountable obstacles to meeting someone. Moreover, if you're not one of those people who believes in fate, or the idea there's "that one special person" out there who's just waiting to be found by you...what exactly is there to hold onto and be optimistic about?

Now, I'm not saying I'll never be in love, but I don't really believe there is one person in particular the fates have determined I'll end out with. I think lots of people fall in love and can't imagine being without that person, such as my sisters and their husbands, but I don't necessarily think they were destined to meet...I think they just got lucky when they found one another. And, if it is about luck, then it's possible I could just be...unlucky, right?

And, if my current life's work precludes me from actively seeking someone to be with for whatever reason, then, how exactly do I meet someone? The Late Great Daniel Johnston (that's an allusion to his best of album) wrote;

"True love will find you in the end.

This is a promise with a catch;
Only if you're looking,
Can it find you.
'Cause true love is searching too,
But how can it recognize you
If you don't step out into the light?

Don't be sad,
I know you will.

Don't give up until,
True love will find you in the end.

And, like with most things in life, this is a bit of a paradox. Because, I know how I feel about depressed and depressing people, and they don't really make me want to hang out with them. So, there you are...sitting in your room, wondering why you're alone, and acting like a sad 14 yr old girl listening to sad music, and pushing away more people because of your behavior...and the cycle continues.

The good news is, unlike many other times, I have a friend who met someone. Instead of letting myself get jealous, as I so often do, I'm actually happy for the kid. So...baby steps toward being an emotionally healthy grown man, but steps nonetheless.

Friday, January 26, 2007

ha ha...smart humor...

CaliCdt: you should start an open blog for rhodes scholars elect
CaliCdt: could be interesting
CaliCdt: and people like me can challenge you all in our responses, a-la Win Ben Stein's Money and try and prove we're as smart or smarter...it'll be fun for everyone!
almostperfectTim: haha...i dunno...the other rhodes scholars elect will be like....tim UR L4m3, and ill be like, come on guys we could provoke discussion on the issues! and theyll be like, n0 way, UR such a N00B! lolz!1!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Firstie Photo...

Yes, another milestone. As I was getting dressed to take my senior picture today, I started to get all nostalgic. It's odd to think I'm actually going to graduate, because there seemed to be so many reasons for me to quit, or get kicked out, or fail four years ago that, while I wanted to graduate, it just didn't seem like it was really going to happen.

As I put on my uniform, one item at a time...white pants, full dress top, saber belt, saber, sash...I began to look more and more like a cadet, more like someone other than myself. I had that experience before, years ago, and remember writing my dad a letter from basic training, telling him how strange it was to wear the army uniform and see the name Harmon, but in reference to me and not him. I felt like I was dressing up, playing like I was my father for Halloween.

There was no dressing up this time. I am actually going to accomplish this, after so many years, and I did it for myself. Strange...but cool.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I didn't write enough...

I remember some nine years ago, my friends dad had just died of a brain tumor. It was completely sudden and I didn't even know his dad was sick until he was out of school and stuck at home taking care of his dad, who passed very soon afterwards. A few months later, we were at a play with a friend of mine...a new age kind of girl. She was telling us what she believed in, such as 'the power of the mind'. She told us that, for example, people die of cancer because they "don't have the internal strength to fight it." Now I know how he must have felt.

The kid tonight was demanding answers...basically arguing that if I didn't agree with him, then I must have answers of my own. Unfortunately, it seems questions are all I have right now and all I have to offer. But, if the choice is between offering a good question, or accepting a poor answer...I will go with the former.

harsh reality.

It's rare I post overly emotionally, but tonight is one of those nights, so I'm hoping my fingers will be able to follow my thought pattern because there is so much I want to get out and don't know if I'll have the time or clearness of thought...

What started as a political discussion ended with me wanted to break a friends nose. Not in the hypothetical sense, but I left because I knew with one quick swipe of the book in my hand, I could see him bleed...and really kind of wanted that. You see, without getting into the discussion, I will tell you where it ended. It ended with him telling me, and this is a direct quote, that cancer comes from people and "their vanity". Yes. Cancer is caused by peoples vanity.

This was after listening to two prep school kids, both of whom have enough money to take vacations to the bahamas, south asia, Florida or Europe everytime we have more than three days off on their parents accounts talk about how people need to be "self reliant" and how affirmative action and welfare are bringing America down. It makes me wonder if they'd be as adamant about the "wrongness" of the estate tax if it weren't their estates that were being taxed.

These are guys who do nothing but drink and fuck, but will then debate the merits of abortion with me? Oh, sure, they freely admit they would ask girls to get them if they got the girl pregnant, but are only reluctant supporters of keeping abortion safe and legal, and will, without a second thought, vote for someone (such as Sam Brownback) who would make it illegal. When I pointed out that it would only be illegal for those who couldn't afford a black market abortion, they might as well have toasted they thought it was so funny.

I realize, very rarely, what different worlds we come from. Tonight...tonight was one of those nights.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Be Thou At Peace...

There is a strange new reality that sets in due to myspace and facebook. I heard from a friend that another cadet was killed in Iraq recently and, as usual, immediately checked facebook and myspace. Maybe it's just habbit, but it's what I do now. People post messages there, but it's strange. You see...everything on the pages are written by someone who, while he or she may have been cognizant that death was a possability, their pages sure weren't written as "last words", so, what you see is who that person was...what they were thinking about in life. But, they are now dead...and the messages from friends all read as such.

You can tell when the person died based on the messages on the wall. For this cadet, a message from Jan 20th reads:
Just thinking of you and wanted to let you know! =)
whereas Jan 21st's first message reads:
Jake, I'm going to miss you more than words could say. You were a great friend and I will never forget all of the great times that we had together...from New York, to Pennsylvania, to North Carolina, to Nebraska...we partied everywhere and it will never be the same without you. I know that you are in a better place now and I pray that you will continue to watch over your friends and family that you left behind...we love you.

Well done brother, be thou at peace

Be Thou at Peace. We sing it everytime we sing the Alma Mater...it just hurts to think how real those words are to the class of '05 who have, again, lost one of their own.


Sometimes, I go through odd music phases when I stumble upon a song or artist that throws me into a new genre for a while. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, Otis Redding, and Billie Holiday. I am going to try and post some songs on here, but the vocals are amazing...gritty and full, they draw you in in a way that most new music doesn't. There are no gimicks--nothing but a vocalist and his/her talent. It's great.

Mississippi Goddam (Nina Simone 1963)
The name of this tune is mississippi goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabamas gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Alabamas gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Cant you see it
Cant you feel it
Its all in the air
I cant stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabamas gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about mississippi goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasnt been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my pathI think every days gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I dont belong hereI dont belong there
Ive even stopped believing in prayer

Dont tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
Ive been there so I know
They keep on saying go slow!

But thats just the trouble
Do it slow
Washing the windows
Do it slow
Picking the cotton
Do it slow
Youre just plain rotten
Do it slow
Youre too damn lazy
Do it slow
The thinkings crazy
Do it slow
Where am I going
What am I doing
I dont know
I dont know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about mississippi goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin didnt we

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say its a communist plot
All I want is equality
For my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And youd stop calling me sister sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
Youre all gonna die and die like flies
I dont trust you any more
You keep on saying go slow!
Go slow!

But thats just the trouble
Do it slow
Do it slow
Mass participation
Do it slow
Do it slow
Do things gradually
Do it slow
But bring more tragedy
Do it slow
Why dont you see it
Why dont you feel it
I dont know
I dont know

You dont have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about mississippi
Everybody knows about alabama
Everybody knows about mississippi goddam

Thats it!

Last Week...

Last week I hung out with a friend of mine who quit the academy after yuk year. It's strange, when I see someone who was on the same path as I was who then made a different choice. The same thing sometimes happens when I go home and hang out with Tanner, or to DC to see Adam. It's a chance to, in a way, see what life would have given had I chose to not join the Army (Tanner), not go to West Point (Adam) or not stay at the Academy (Chris).

They're each doing well in their own lives, Tanner being married to Ali now, Adam living with another friend of ours and Chris going to school in Wisconsin. It was hard seeing Chris, however, because he was with us for three years and now has missed out on the best parts of being a cadet.

124 days left. Crazy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Good Company...

I'm in with the likes of the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. Nice... Test yourself here.


For twenty-six years, I've avoided it. Then, like dog shit, you just step in it. You have no choice, you didn't see it coming...you were just doing your own thing and there it is...dog shit. Right there, under your foot, through no fault of your own...but it's too late. You're in it. You smell.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Someone claimed, last I posted about Army/Navy marching--that I was comparing apples to oranges, namely, that I showed Navy's March off but Army's March on. Here are two videos of the relative March Offs:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bush's Speech...

It seems every time the President gives a speech, I have the same conversation in class. First, someone says something about how the President has really said something new, and how everyone who disagrees with what he says are still arguing the merits of going to war. Then, he or she will point out that the President's plan will work this time if only supported by the liberals. After that, I normally point out that the last few "plans" haven't worked, and not because of lack of support, but because they were never really "plans" to begin with (ie. Strategy for Victory given last year at the Naval Academy).

This time was no surprise. I will say I went into the speech really hoping for something...maybe it's because I'm desperate for an end, or a light at the end of the tunnel, or maybe it's because my level of hope has fallen so low I felt the need to just pretend for an hour. I am not a military planner, nor do I have any more insight into things than Joe Schmoe on the street...but a 20k troop increase to 340k that are already there is only a 5.8% increase. I don't really see how 5.8% is going to do a whole lot to improve the situation...not to mention it will only work when coupled with an increase in standing Iraqi Brigades and Police Forces, which are nearly non-exist ant. The idea of upping troop rotations is disturbing for a lot of reasons, not the least of which means more soldiers will have to deploy, again, and more soldiers will die.

I'm in a class called National Security Seminar and we are reading The Art of War and On War, two books I've often heard quoted, but rarely desired to read. I came upon a few good quotes in my first go at The Art of War, one of which stood out this morning:

Attack by Fire
And therefore it is said that enlightened rulers deliberate upon the plans, and good generals execute them.

If not in the interests of the state, do not act. If you cannot succeed, do not sue troops. If you are not in danger, do not fight.

A sovereign cannot raise an army because he is enraged, nor can a general fight because he is resentful. For while an angered man may again be happy, and a resentful man again be pleased, a state that has perished cannot be restored, nor can the dead be brought back to life.

Therefore, the enlightened rules is prudent and the good general is warned against rash action. Thus the state is kept secure and the army preserved.

I feel the need to again point out, that I am not a pacifist, nor am I someone who feels an immediate troop pull out will work. I only say again that I am confused, and that the proffered 'solutions' all seem to offer little to solve anything. Maybe it is possible we've already lost, or that the task at hand is too great for us to solve...or maybe, God willing, this will work.

I was off by half on the number of troops in Iraq. After Tim's comment, I double checked and realized I went with a poor number. This changes, by a small margin, the amount of confidence I have in the plan. Counting only US troops, it's 120k there now, which means a much higher percentage "surge"...add to that the number of civilian security (mostly prior service military) and the number goes up by a bit.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My sisters...

Here is a picture of Lucia, my little sister, with her comemorative pillow from being robbed:

And here is my older sister's description of the baby gestating inside her:

her baby looks like a peanut with a little blinking light that is a heart beat.

BCS Game and Natl. Anthem

I was able to sing the National Anthem w/ the West Point Glee Club in Arizona this weekend. That was probably the second coolest thing I've gotten to do since I've been here (the first being the superbowl). Here is a short photo and video trip down memory lane:
The stadium looked kind of like an aluminum barn which landed from the moon in the middle of the desert. Not so spectacular from the outside.

I am not such a sports fan, so, my friend claimed me as an Ohio State fan and gave me an ill fitting hat. I threw it on backwards and sideways in an attempt to look as hip and cool as possible, but only succeeded in looking 12. Yes, 12.

Here's me and Andy Moore with our tickets and backstage passes in front of locker number 7...we graduate in '07, so we were excited (as you can tell by the thumbs up.)

This was the first #1 sports fan I saw. He was trying to buy a ticket...so, unless he finally found one, he got all painted up to watch from home.
This guy was another #1 sports fan. I'm going to bet he felt silly walking home like that after the game.
This young fella was the first #1 sportsfan from the Florida side of the house I saw. Luckily, it was hot, so he wasn't too uncomfortable I don't think.

All things considered, it was a fun trip. The videos below are of right after Florida scored, and then the stadium after the game...pretty cool the cops and confetti, no?

I pointed out to one of the cops that they were surrounding the losing side, and that it's not the losers who often storm the field. He said they were more worried about Ohio State than Florida...didn't say why though. Odd.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

what's with the thumbs?

Click on the photo and it will take you to Claire's flickr page. The comment below it is hilarious...mainly because James, Drew and I had quite a discussion about how many photos we have of each of us, together or alone, giving the thumbs up...apparently, that hasn't gone un-noticed.

6 Feet Under...

Sometime, when I watch this show, I think, "this many things can't happen to one family" and begin to think the show is just pushing it. Then I think over the last five years and realize...nope, this shit does happen.

My little sister got robbed at gunpoint last night as she was leaving work. She and two co-workers were held up as they were leaving. I found out this morning from my mom, then she called me. She said the first thing she did when the guys jumped out with the guns was yell, "what the fuck are you doing?" Which made me laugh...but the idea of this happening to her makes me sick to the stomach.

It's times like this (and numerous other times over the last five years) that I wish we were all still together, so we could hug, or cry, or laugh...or just be there for each other, with more than a phone call. But, I guess so is life, and it happens to all of us (the living on our own thing, away from family...not the robbery thing).

Last Time...

Last time I saw Tula was at my dad's funeral. It was a day or two afterwards and she and her husband, Beto, were still at our house helping out with the cooking and various other tasks. Tula was about seventy at the time and ornery as ever. I remember waking up and smelling breakfast cooking. I found her in the kitchen drinking beer and making potatoes and eggs. I told her how much I liked her potatoes and she replied, "well, if your pinche mother would learn to cook them right, you could have them all the time." Most of the pictures I have of her she's giving the camera the finger...

I am out in Arizona for the BCS game, but am staying in a hotel near enough that I was able to visit Tula and Beto again. I haven't been to their house in almost fifteen years. Growing up, it was a place I hated. It was hot, boring, and I knew that the grown ups would stay awake all night drinking and laughing, and that I'd get bored and have nowhere to sleep that was quiet. They have six kids, and they were grandparents by the time they were in their thirties, so there were loads of people at the house all the time--it was a constant party.

This time, the house was empty, only pictures left of the people who were once there. Beto has lost his hearing, and Tula is dying of pancreatic cancer. Last night, my mom expected her to go this morning, but said I could come say goodbye if I'd like. She heard I was coming when she woke up this morning and insisted on sitting up and brushing her hair before I could see her. She looks much like my dad did in his last days--skeletal and weak--but still smiled and was ornery as ever.

Beto showed me pictures of his time in the Army, just after WWII, when he guarded POW camps in Germany. It was strange, seeing him light up and tell me stories about the pictures, stories which seemed so similar to what I am doing now, and what I have done. I guess times change, but not so much that we can't relate.

I found a picture of my mom and her brothers and sisters with my grandparents, and he's wearing a tie that I now own and often wear. My mom looks to be about six and oddly, looks exactly the same. It's strange to think that this photo was taken when my aunts met their husbands, all of whom but one are now dead, but at the time, they had their whole lives ahead of them.

It's the second time I've had to say goodbye to someone I know I will never see again, and I hope it will be the last.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Governator...

I'm begining to like him. Here's some choice quotes from CNN:
"At one time, the greatest public policy innovations came from liberals, such as during the New Deal," the Republican celebrity said. "Then the most innovative ideas came from conservatives, such as Ronald Reagan."

"It is time we combined the best of both ideologies into a new creative center. This is a dynamic center that is not held captive by either the left or the right or the past," he said after arriving on crutches as he heals from a leg broken in a skiing accident.

"In the 2005 special election, I took the wrong approach in trying to do these things. But in my failure, I rediscovered my original purpose," he said. "I saw that people, not just in California, but across the nation, were hungry for a new kind of politics, a politics that looks beyond the old labels, the old ways, the old arguments."

"Post-partisanship is not simply Republicans and Democrats each bringing their proposals to the table and working out differences," he said in his inaugural speech. "Post-partisanship is Republicans and Democrats actively giving birth to new ideas together."
so...he can admit when he's wrong, works well with others, and has appointed good judges to replace the nutso one who left? Sounds good to me.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Olberman, MacLeish and Cadets...

There are times when a confluence of ideas comes at me from different sources and I can't stop thinking about an idea...today is one of those days. I read a quote, I watched a youTube clip, and I stumbled onto a website. These three things have been turning in my head for a full 24 hours now and I am still as confused and torn as I was to begin with...in fact, possibly more so.

The night we got back, the Dean showed a video of a graduate from USMA who married, had a son, went to Iraq and was seriously wounded. He lost his eyesight and has severe trauma to his head and, from what it seems in the video, must wear a helmet at all times now. He is hoping to stay in the Army and has been asked to come teach at West Point. He also read us the letter of another graduate, a brother of a friend, who has received three purple hearts since graduation only a few years ago, and who still wants to stay and command in Iraq.

He told us that that was the cloth we were cut from. Men and women like them...but I can't help but wonder if I am. I am sure, when the time comes, I will do what I must--I don't doubt that. What I wonder is if I will have the same conviction, the same steadfast loyalty they do.

Keith Olberman gave another long diatribe against Bush which I watched on YouTube. There were some high (and low) points, as always. One thing he said that struck me was this:
[The war] has succeeded, Mr. Bush, in enabling you to deaden the collective mind of this country to the pointlessness of endless war, against the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

It has gotten many of us used to the idea — the virtual “white noise” — of conflict far away, of the deaths of young Americans, of vague “sacrifice” for some fluid cause, too complicated to be interpreted except in terms of the very important-sounding but ultimately meaningless phrase “the war on terror.”
And now I wonder...are we deadened to war now? Has the war this is killing countless Iraqis and Americans become "white noise"?

I wonder because I stumbled upon this website last night. It is run by an association of Graduates (not the Association of Graduates, lest there be any confusion), and has news clippings, eulogies and photos of deceased graduates. Eight from the class of 2004 alone. I went back and read all the bios and many of the eulogies through the graduating class of 1997, my ten year predecessors. I have visited the grave of one of them, where two of his classmates (now married), shared stories with us about his life. They introduced him to a group of us, "We are here to introduce you to our friend, Eric."

I do not intend to makes their deaths political, that is far from my intent. My intent in sharing this site is simply to show my confusion at this point. What I'm confused about, I'm not entirely sure.

The third idea...MacLeish's poem, which I had read before in Seattle, and which I found again, I will post in full.
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses.
(Who has not heard them?)....

They say,
We were young. We have died. Remember us.

They say,
We have done what we could
But until it is finished it is not done.

They say,
We have given our lives
But until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.

They say,
Our deaths are not ours,
They are yours,
They will mean what you make them.

They say, Whether our lives, and our deaths were for peace and a new hope Or for nothing
We cannot say.
It is you who must say this.

They say, We leave you our deaths,
Give them their meaning.

Only the last two stanzas were printed in the monument in Seattle. The poem has a much different meaning when read in full. Again...I don't know what to think, or how this all ends...but, it was on my mind, so...I post it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Years...

New Years began in a small apartment in the Hollywood Hills. The building was supposedly an old monastery, but I think someone just threw up a stained glass window to make it more sellable. There were Claire, James and Chuck, from the Fallbrook side, Myself, Mikey and Pabs from WP, and a bunch of Hollywood hipsters with purposely messed hair and oddly fitting pants.

We sat around drinking and listening to a pretty decent play list of indie-rock when a crew who looked like frontmen for def leopard showed up...nice guys most of em...carrying a case of Budweiser. We continued drinking for a bit until the host turned down the radio and told us we'd been invited, en mass, to a party at a mansion in another part of Hollywood.

In typical LA fashion, we piled into numerous cars and drove in a line the four miles to the other house. Upon arrival, we walked into what appeared to be a museum to Egyptian and Indian culture thrown together in an odd fashion and about two hundred people drinking and dancing. The crowd ranged from the hipsters at our party, to people who looked like they'd stepped right out of Curb Your Enthusiasm. There was lots of drinking, lots of people (not including me or the cadets) smoking pot, and a good handful of kids running around.

We made our way outside to a nice view and seat where we continued to have a good time, laughing and talking. Around midnight, we made our way back inside to sing Auld Lang Syne (sp?) and do a champagne toast. It was not a bad way to start the new year.

Here's a gratuitious shot of my ring and my glass of champagne.