Thursday, September 27, 2007

That Crazy Mitt....

I realize it was the shortest lived hiatus in history, but I cannot help but write about this latest political...thing. But, I figure if I stay away from endorsing candidates or talking about national security or anything slightly related to the military, the fact I'm an officer can't really have much effect. No one, I assume, who reads this will think "Hmm...he's a military officer, so his views on agriculture in Oklahoma must have more weight."

In any case, last night the democrats talked about a children's book and that made Mitt Romney angry. So, today, he wrote the following on his website:

We need to strengthen our families by passing a federal marriage amendment and also insisting on marriage before having children.

ha ha, yes! Just when you thought the wingnuts couldn't get any wingier, now one of the front-runners in the presidential election is openly calling for federal legislation insisting on marriage before having children. I wonder what kind of great ideas he has for enforcing that? Maybe we could tie the tubes of all pre-pubescent girls and then, when they get married, we could untie them? Hmm...this one's giving me some things to think about, you know, logistically and all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I live in a hotel room. This means I have no stove or oven, but I do have a microwave, a coffee pot and a refridgerator. What does this mean for what I eat? I means that for the first three weeks or so, I was only able to eat easy-mac and pizza pockets because I didn't know how to cook. I make delicious sandwiches and ate those for lunch and dinner for a very long while.

That is, ladies and gentlemen, until I bought Gretta. That's the name I just came up with for my Black and Decker skillet. She was 19.99 at Target and has saved my life. I started out taking some advice from Tim and making shrimp tacos. Those were pretty good other than I reccomend to anyone else not to get pre-cooked shrimp...poor decision there. But, grill the shrimp with a little jalepeno and then add tomato, cilantro and avocado...delicious.
A few days later, my friends Kelsey and Jacob came over and we decided to attempt chicken fajitas on Gretta. We sliced some chicken, red and yellow bell peppers, a bit of jalepeno, a portabello mushroom and we soon had one of the best meals I've ever eaten in my room. I also got pretty drunk though, so watch how much you drink while you cook or you could end out drunk on a Thursday night completely accidentally.

Tonight, I am attempting greek salad, grilled asparagus and pork chops. I was going to do an entirely vegan meal, but have to wait until payday to pick up some of the herbs and stuff I want.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tiger in the Snow...

Such a beautiful movie. There were at least a dozen quotes I want to share but didn't have the dexterity to write down as the movie was playing. Tonight was a good night, but a suprise. It began with a cry for help, from me. I was bored...very bored. I told my friend Tyler so and he invited me over to hang out. We listened to the Beatles and John Lennon on vinyl and drank wine. We watched the Tiger in the Snow, a Roberto Benigni movie that is improbable, but beautiful nonetheless, and drank more wine. It was a good night. I am going to download Tom Waits music now instead of doing homework to listen to as I re-coup from such a movie. Watch it, if you haven't seen it.

Five books...

I talked to Al about this earlier and thought I'd give it a go. You see, some years ago, Al gave me a book titled "An introduction to agro-ecology" or something similar. I took it with me to Air Assault school and instead of learning the weight of a fuel blivet, I read that book (I got the wings anyway, so no worries). I thought, considering that we all do things that we find interesting, and we find each other interesting (I am, of course, talking about the six people I know who read this regularly), that we should each post five books within our own unique areas of interest that you would recommend other people read to gain a better understanding of what it is you're interested in. Does that make sense? For example, since I'm in the military and, other than Tim, I don't know of any regular readers who are also (if I'm wrong, I apologize...not trying to be rude, I am just ignorant of the fact) so I would post books about military issues. Such as:

I wrote about this one in another blog. There are such great contrasts and similarities between war then and war, it's written by Steinbeck, so you can be guaranteed almost every sentence will make your mind implode at the beautiful combinations of such simple words and images to convey a thought you're had a thousand times but been unable to express.
This is one of the best accounts of war that I've read. I also posted about this once as it was a school reading back in the day. I don't recommend reading it when in the mood for light reading as it is gritty and disturbing and will probably make you hate war more than anything, but it's amazing.
OK, so maybe this one wont give anyone insight into life, but, it does give insight into me. There was/is a lot of debate as to what this book did for West Point. Some contend that because it dwelled a bit on some drug issues that were going on at the time that it was a disservice to the Academy, but I disagree. I think it's one of the best looks at the life that makes up four years of school and the life that is required afterwards that I've read.


It's online (link above). Don't read the whole thing, but read the 1st, 2nd and 8th books. They should probably be required reading for anyone who has a vote (which is everyone).

I would try to round out the list with a fifth (and I think Tim would have me put the Hemmingway book on this), but I don't think I can say I feel strongly enough about a fifth to throw on there. Anyway, if you feel like it, feel free to add your own five on in your own field...

Once There Was a War...

Tim gave me a copy of Steinbeck's collected writings about the war (Once There Was a War). As always, Steinbeck's writing is some of the most beautiful and insightful I've read and a passage in the foreword struck me. One of the things about the military is that many people tend to generalize about a "military type". I know I did it before I joined and often, when people discover I am in the military, I am told that I "don't seem the type."

Steinbeck was writing about the self-imposed rules that many journalists wrote under at that time and wrote the following:
The rules, some imposed and some self-imposed, are amusing twenty years later. I shall try to remember a few of them. There were no cowards in the American Army, and of all the brave men the private in the infantry was the bravest and noblest. The reason for this in terms of the War Effort is obvious. The infantry private had the dirtiest, weariest, least rewarding job in the whole war. In addition to being dangerous and dirty, a great many of the things he had to do were stupid. He must therefore be reassured that these things he knew to be stupid were actually necessary and wise, and that he was a hero for doing them. Of course no one even casually inspected the fact that the infantry private had no choice...
Since our Army and Navy, like all armies and navies, were composed of the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly , the cruel, the gentle, the brutal, the kindly, the strong, and the weak, this convention of general nobility might seem to have been a little hard to maintain, but it was not. We were all part of the War Effort.

It's interesting that only twenty years after the war was over that Steinbeck was able to discern in his writing this little bit of insincerity and yet, in writing this passage, he really gets at the most beautiful part of the military and the part that is most often overlooked by those who care to think about such things. We are not all heroes in the conventional sense of the word, and we are not all moral beacons...we are not all anything. It is the fact that in our unique society (military people) our organization encompasses people of all walks of life, from all spectrums of personality and privilege and yet, as my friend wrote in her comment, it is what we give up that we share in common. (Now that I've typed all this, the whole first paragraph of the quote was probably unnecessary, although interesting.)

I recommend the book to anyone to read. Reading these war dispatches from so long ago makes what goes on today somehow more real for those of us who are not fighting.

I recently posted about the line between politics and military and thought that today's testimony by General Petraeus was a good time to bring it up again. I am not saying, by any means, the General Petraeus is a political General, but what I would like to point out is that it is possible that the unnecessary blurring by both sides between politics and military is part of what makes his testimony today so charged. As both sides have politicized the military, military leaders, whose job is to assess the situation and give their best professional assessment of the situation to political leaders (who then make the decision as to how best to deploy and use the military, are no longer able to do so. Whatever Petraeus says, Democrats will hear what they want and Republicans will choose what they want to hear also. This quote from the debate on Univision by Edwards demonstrates the problem:
I'm absolutely in favor of America leaving Iraq. What I'm concerned about, about the Petraeus report, is that it will be basically a sales job by the White House, that it'll be a PR document -- (applause) -- because that's what we've continually gotten from this administration, throughout the course of the war.
Were things to run as they should, no one, Republican or Democrat, would have an opinion about what to do next until after the military leadership gives its honest assessment of the issue. The system has been corrupted and will take many years to fix. The question is, will things get better or worse if things stay on their current course.

That being said, my friend wrote a comment to the blog about military and political intermingling that I wanted to re-post here so more people could read it. I thought it an interesting post and very insightful.
...what you said reminds of a feeling I had while watching you graduate at West Point. And that was that these men and women who were graduating, and all of the people in the military, have voluntarily given up their right to political descent, a precious part of American citizenship. To have a military which does not dominate the state, we the citizens require that you (the military) not have on opinion on political matters, but obediently serve the decisions of the majority, or the decisions of those elected by the majority. And this realization made me feel all the greater that my duty as a civilian, as one who hasn't given up that right, is to engage constantly and forcefully in political debate and action, to make up for what you cannot do. I came away from your graduation feeling like the rest of America and I need to work a lot harder to be worthy of the sacrifice that you and your cohort have made for us.
I think if more people had a similar understanding of their role as citizens, and what true democracy demands, political discourse and debate in this country would be far higher than what is found on Hannity & Colmes or The Huffingtonpost.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

emotional hangover?

I don't know if this is true or not, but I've been told that a hangover is really just your body feeling normal again--that when you drink, your blood vessels expand and more oxygen and blood flows to the brain so you feel drunk. The next morning, when your blood vessels contract to their original size again and your brain is getting what it had always gotten previously, you feel hung over because of the difference between the amount of blood and oxygen you were getting the night before (abnormally) and what your brain is getting in the morning (the normal flow). I don't know if it's true, but for the sake of my analogy, let's all just pretend it is true.

Bars and clubs are the same thing for ones personal life. I went to a bar last night and had fun. I went alone (that is to say, single, albeit with friends) and I left...not alone. We danced the night away and drank and laughed and both seemed witty and interesting and perfect and then went off together.

Then I woke up and drove home alone. Like a hangover, I was no less alone than I was before I got to the club, the difference between what I felt alone in the morning and what I felt not alone the night before made the being alone feel all the more worse.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Hills, Newport Beach etc...

These shows make me sick, literally. Are people that obsessed with beauty that they can sit and watch vacuous people do nothing for themselves or anyone else for hours on end? I am sure there is more to the people on these shows than shown on television, but as it was on durring lunch today (I couldn't find the remote and was trying to take a nap), I went over an hour without hearing anything other than, "well, I don't know, like...I think he said he doesn't like me, but like..." blah blah blah. I'm fairly certain any one of my friends is far more interesting and far more useful to the world. Maybe someone should film us for a while?

political military...

I was watching the debates on Fox news tonight and realized that I am getting worried about the politicization of the military. By that, I do not mean that politicians are using the military politically, but that people within the military (or newly out of the military) are begining to speak politically. This is happening not just within one party either, but both parties and non-aligned members also. I don't see this as a good thing and because of it, I have decided against writing anything political any further. I may still speak about certain issues, but overall, I think it would be wrong for me, now that I have my commission and am in the military, to speak openly about what it is I think. On a one on one basis, I would be more than willing to talk about damn near any issue, but in a general sense, I think it detracts from the overall respect and dignity of the office were it to seem that I were a political officer.