Monday, January 28, 2008


I had my first funeral today. He was an older man who had been a CPT in the Army Air Corps. His daughters were incredibly composed and graceful. I was there when the family arrived for the funeral and was introduced to them. I don't think that's how it's supposed to happen...I think I'm supposed to be anonymous and represent everyone, so knowing me and my name and talking to me may have ruined that. I guess there isn't really a "right way" for funerals to go.

Meeting the daughters and being told about the CPT and his experience in WWII and in life made it much more difficult for me to perform my duty. When TAPS played and the only sound other than the bugle was the sobbing of a lone woman, maintaining my composure was difficult. Moreover, I cannot help but feel as though I am handing off my father's flag when I do the ceremony, and that it is he who I am there to honor. I know that's silly, but that's how it felt. Maybe it'll get easier over time, but maybe it wont. And maybe it's good if it doesn't and I continue to see each funeral as an individual as important to those present as my father was to me. I just need to learn to be stronger and more stoic I think.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


A friend wrote this as we were talking about love, life and the pursuit of happiness:
the feeling of being wanted outweighs the uncertainty of the distance and the future i think

I thought it worth sharing.

The best part of waking up...

Have you ever woken up next to someone special and just thought...beautiful. In the early light, when it's still quiet, and you can feel a heartbeat, or the twitch of an eye. You can see the curve of a shoulder and suddenly realize how beautiful a freckle can be on a field of soft white skin. When the warmth of another body is comforting you more than the blanket. And then, suddenly, you're both awake, and looking eye to eye...and smile.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Behind the curtain.

When the bugler played Taps at my fathers funeral and the Marine handed my mother the flag with the words, "On behalf of a greatful nation..." that flag represented a lot to me. It took on, at that point, a sacred nature that it cannot lose. Like all things sacred, however, I did not stop to think that it had, until that moment, been just another flag.

I have recieved my first extra duty tasking as an officer today. I am now the Officer in Charge of Funeral Details. I was (and am, really) happy with my tasking. I have a friend whose job is to ensure that all supply closets are properly labeled and stocked (powders go on the higher shelves than liquids so if there is a spill, there is no inadvertant chemical mixing). So, this tasking is one which, even though time consuming (Texas has a lot of veterans and Soldiers...we had three funerals this week), it is also one which will give me sense of pride in accomplishment when it is over.

I went to the "Grievance Support Center" to recieve what I thought would be intense training, not dissimilar to what I imagine the guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier get. Upon entering, I find a room with half a dozen Soldiers, three larger civilian women, a stack of bugles and a large stack of folded flags.

The Soldiers were sitting around in jackets (it was a very cold day), one of whom had assumed a seated position with his head hanging backwards, drooping, like a third grader held in from recess, and was complaining about having to do another funeral. The lady closest to the door reached behind her desk to the flag stack without looking, grabbed one, handed it to the Sergeant and said, "Take this and a bugle and a DVD."

The DVD was the extent of the training I recieved.

I was, at first, shocked and disgusted at the attitude and callous nature with which things were handled until I was just their job. The flag, the bugle, even the soldiers themselves, were only special insofar as they were used at the funeral, and it was the association with the servicemember that his or her family and friends felt which made the flag I held in my hands special. It wasn't woven of sacred fiber, it wasn't packaged with love and care, and it wasn't built in any special manner. It was my father who was special, and his flag, which now resides in a reliquary in my room carved of dark wood and brass, is special because it was there at a special moment.

I am still proud to be a part of this, and I hope the ceremony will be special and as perfect as it was for my father the first time I represent the United States and say, "On behalf of a greatful nation..."

Wish me luck, as I'll be speaking for you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


My roomate and I decided to host a little party last night. Her friend wanted to get drinks, so she invited him and his fiance here in instead. At that point, we called some other friends (mainly lieutenants from school) and made a bunch of food. It was a pretty good time, albeit an odd crowd with people who don't normally hang out. We drank and laughed and talked until the girl who lives downstairs came up and demanded we quit.

Most might imagine this taking place sometime around eleven, twelve, midnight or It was around nine thirty. Yeah...lady who lives downstairs? Not so cool.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

food n fish

I made the wonton things I saw in the frozen food section. Here was how the ingredients looked before I prepped them along with a step by step:

Mushroom, shrimp (cut into thirds) green onion, spinach, fake crab. The egg didn't get used.
Lightly sautee it all in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper.
I mixed in goat chese with onion and garlic
put it on a wonton wrapper, fried...
Served with soy sauce to dip. Delicious.
These were some hamburgers I made. Lean meat with green onion, barbecue sause, an egg and garlic. I had to keep draining the pan because unlike on a grill, it didn't self-drain.
Here it is finished with bacon, avo and all the other delicious burger stuff. Behind it is a mug of beer Kelsey gave me...notice the super-sweet MI crest on it.

And this is Alpha Deuce...he seemed so happy this morning. I like to think he went to a better place where Beta fish no longer feel the need to be so violent to one another.

More food...

I made crepes this morning because I remembered hearing on Top Chef that "girls love crepes." Last night, I was a dick to my roommate after I had drank a little too much and felt bad. So, I woke up, put on a pot of coffee and went to the store. I figured, the best way to say sorry was 1. to have her wake up to a quiet apartment and the smell of already hot coffee and 2. to make crepes. I had never made them before, but figured they couldn't be too hard. In fact, they were pretty easy. Simple recipe too (two cups flour, three eggs, two cups milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt). The key was putting in just enough of the batter such that they didn't come out like pancakes but were thick enough to flip. I then sauteed some of the berries I had and put those in one and made a second with Nutella inside. My room ate added ice cream (because I mentioned I may put vanilla in the batter next time).

I have also found a fun new culinary pastime (however that is spelled). I walk down the frozen food section and then choose something that looks delicious and try to make it myself or change it to make it better. California Pizza Kitchen makes frozen thin crust pizzas which Lee brought over the other night. I cut up some mushroom, spinach and avocado to put on top and it was amazing. Tonight, I am making these wonton type things with shrimp, mushroom, chives, goat cheese and onion inside. I'll post pics if they're delicious.

Also, about my last post. I was pretty upset when I wrote it and the last line was incredibly rude and arrogant. I would have simply deleted it, but that's really not my style, so, take this as an apology to anyone who reads it as it was directed mainly at one person (who I doubt even reads this), my apologies to all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

porcelain doll...

I have always been "that guy". I have never done drugs, had crazy wild sex with strangers, or even been to many rock and roll concerts. I have been, in most respects, a kind of twisted version of the kid parents wanted their sons to 1950. I think my friends have come to expect as much of me over the years, and I can appreciate that. However, there is a mistake made if those same friends think that because I have acted in such a way for almost three decades (at least two of those being decades in which I've made decisions for myself in a cognizant manner), means that I have not wanted to do other things.

What I mean by this is, the simple fact that I have not done (add in any vice fulfilling activity here), does not mean that I have not been tempted to do so. Nor does it mean I am not currently tempted to do so. So...why is it that the very friends which do whatever they please, whenever they please, are the same ones who chide me for even mentioning that I may want to deviate off my path of righteousness?

Is it wrong of me to be disappointed when friends hold me to a higher standard than themselves? Or, should I be grateful that they look out for me when I occasionally lapse? In any case...I have grown tired of being the porcelain doll...the guy who people to go when they need to see a model of the lives they chose not to live. I will do it, because it's the only way I've ever known how to be. But all I ask is that when I occasionally think of stepping off the pedestal I never asked to be placed upon to begin with I not be called a dirty pot by the crowd of kettles below.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

value judgements...

I went to dinner with my friend tonight and had a rather long and interesting conversation. The thing that made it so interested was that the comments he made made me question what it was that I believed and what held value to me. The following comment will seem to some to be typical of the "liberal elite", but was uttered by a boy from central Texas who grew up where "ranching" was common:
The women's liberation movement made women more interesting because they could be more educated.
I, rightly or wrongly, took offense at the statement and pointed out that he had made quite a value judgement in that statement (multiple judgements actually).

I pointed out that plenty of non-educated people were very interesting and went on a rant from that point. I explained that my friend Alex's blog is often full of amazingly interesting things done by people who have knowledge I will never have...when to harvest, how to make maple syrup, where to hunt and what trees are good for what. I pointed out that, while the dinner we were having at the Olive Garden seemed, at first, to be opulent, it could never compare with the wild mushroom ravioli my Italian brother had made for us when I was in Italy. He and his father had gathered mushrooms from the forest outside Bologna to make it and, were it not for their knowledge, I would never have the benefit of such amazing flavors.

It pulled into focus (again) the dilemma that constantly faces me. Is the variation of food I can have in a single sitting at a Souplantation worth the trade off of not having fresh, ecologically friendly food from a local vendor? Is having an "education" worth losing all the knowledge of generations before? (My grandpa could tie knots and I can write a paper about Somalian War Lords in a sitting...who has more "knowledge"?)

But what about WalMart, he could I be against WalMart when so many American's benefit from its low prices. Touche! He has a point...aren't I being just as pretentious to think that the majority of Americans can afford to live as I try? Organics are expensive. Farmers markets are time consuming. Can the average american afford the time or money, while raising a family, to live the life that I was trying to? I doubt it. So, it seems, changes must be made...but what? And that, friends, is the question I ponder. And, when I discover an answer, the world should be waiting, because I wont be able to sit on it, but will be a harbinger of a new era...or, at least, will have to try.

In all, I think I came to the conclusion that, while unabashed love for all that is modern and a belief that college educated working class Americans are the pinacle of value is a view of the world I cannot take, there

Monday, January 14, 2008


Anyone in the military knows how awesome inventories are. You put out everything you're supposed to have and then make sure you have it, and then put it away. This isn't so bad when you have, say, boxes of computers, but when you have things like cammo nets which have a zillion parts (you try keeping track of thirty little clips on fourteen sets of cammo nets), it can be a bitch. Well, after a week of doing nothing (literally), doing an inventory was a breath of fresh air. Moreover, it was my first one as an officer!! (<-exclamation points are only kind of sarcastic) So, that's what I did today before trying to get a new ID.

My first Sergeant had to "counsel" me about my "lack of discipline" in "losing" my ID. He got far too much enjoyment out of it, knowing full well what had happened he laughed the whole time and stressed the "discipline" aspect of it. Apparently, having a uniform, being on a military post, at a military bank and holding your valid passport in hand isn't enough to cash a check or shop at the PX. I tried to get a new ID after yesterday's fiasco and went down to the ID place after the inventory. I got there at 1400 and the sign said they closed at 1700...three hours early. I walked in and the lady behind the counter said, "Sir, we're closed." I pointed out the sign says they were open until 1700 and she (much like the officer yesterday) took off her glasses in an exasperated manner and said, "Well Sir, what the sign doesn't say is that we only have three machines and room full of people to do still...we're closed."

I drove back to work, through the gate again and got stopped. I handed the guy my passport and he chuckled...chortled even...out loud and said, "You lost both your drivers liscence and military ID??" I said that, no, it had been stolen, and he laughed. asshole.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


What a weekend...
Friday, after I got off work early, I came home and stopped by the store. My friend Lee came over and we decided to hang out at the apartment and make Filipino food. It had been a while since I've made pancit and adobo, but it came out deliciously (no pictures this time...don't know where my camera is). The next day, Lee, Ingrid and I went down to Austin because we were going to a Martini Mixer and needed to buy some appropriate wear. I am not much of a shopper and quickly tired of shopping and wanted to come home. Anyway...I'll skip to the craziness...
We went to the mixer and had a blast. Lee was the DD so he drove us home and crashed here since it was already 230 in the morning or so. We woke up to an apartment with the front door open and both bedroom doors open. Our wallets (and Ingrid's purse), which had all been placed on the kitchen counter as we got home, were not there. We had, apparently, not locked the door that night and some Killeenian had walked in and walked out with our things.

We went to the police station to file a report (I still don't know why as they will never catch him/her and it didn't help expedite getting new ID's or anything). The Officer on duty, while filling out the paperwork, stopped awkwardly at the "race" section. He looked through the glass at me and took off his spectacles in such a manner as to show me he was just fed up with trying to figure out what race I was. I told him just to choose any and it'd probably work.

Now, I'm home, wondering how I'm going to drive to work tomorrow. With no military ID, I can't get through the gate without showing a drivers licence...but that was in the wallet also. Maybe I'll take my passport?

Friday, January 04, 2008


I know I swore off writing about politics (which is very difficult for anyone who knows me) but I think this post doesn't count in the way I meant on to find out what I mean. (Also, as a side note, my roommate and I have chosen not to purchase cable television which, while liberating, is frustrating during election season as I have to wait until things are posted online before I know what is going on)

In any case, I have been intrigued by the Iowa Caucuses as has most of the viewing public, however, I did not really understand how they work. I heard a lot about "disenfranchised voters" and other issues and about getting to the caucus at the right time and platforms and loads of other things...I didn't know what was going on so, I googled it. I read about how the process works and found it incredibly interesting and democratic on so many levels (and yet, still disenfranchising also. pity) I stumbled across a news story about a lesbian couple who were caucusing and, to me, they demonstrated more than anything I've seen in a while the idea that all politics is local (or is all politics national? I forget).

Their names are Elizabeth Barnhill and Peg Whorton and theirs is the face of democracy. They have eight children and seven grandchildren. They took two of their daughters to the caucuses with them. The way the caucuses work in Iowa, in what seems to be an automatic run off situation (where everyone does their primary vote and the candidates who do not receive a certain threshold of voting percentage must vote for one of the other candidates) where voting is done out loud and in person. So, if I wanted to vote for Joe Schmoe, when balloting begins, me and other Schmoe followers have to literally gather together in a corner of the room. If Schmoe doesn't have enough representation, my group disbands and I go join group Jane Doe.

This makes your vote very public and personal, something which seems undemocratic to me, and yet, does force people to take their vote very seriously. After voting for your party's candidate, however, is when the even more interesting yet less covered fun begins. At each caucus, any member of the party can raise a discussion point to be voted on in that caucus. If your caucus votes to support it, it is sent further up the political chain of command so that, ideally, your opinion and ideas can become part of the state party's platform!

This brings me back to Elizabeth and Peg. How often when we vote on an issue is it an issue that directly effects us? Moreover, how often do we have a voice, however small, in national politics? Here is a situation where Elizabeth and Peg were there to vote, with their daughters with them, and were able to raise their voices about what they believe is persecution for their sexual orientation. In front of their daughters, who they believe are also unfairly treated, they had a voice about what the State and National Democratic Party (although it could have been any party) would say about them. Inversely, it reminds me that the parties are there to serve the good of the people. When platforms are developed, when policies are stated, they do not exist in a vacuum, they exist in reality, and they do so to serve the smallest individual in our great society.

It reminds me that when I vote, it's not abstract. When I vote on an issue, it effects people, places and things which are all tangible for better or worse, and reminds me that my vote could harm or help people like Peg and Elizabeth, there in Iowa, with their children.

This isn't a call to vote one way or another, but simply to remind myself (and I guess my readers also) to take their votes seriously and to remember that it is government and laws that serve the people, so remember the people when you talk and think politics this year.


To celebrate getting furniture, Ingrid and I had dinner last night with two friends, Lee and April. I did the cooking and made things familiar to anyone who has been around me lately: stuffed mushrooms, the Huachuca special (toasted french bread, prosciutto, basil, avocado and tomato), spinach and shrimp salad w/ almonds and vinaigrette and the seven dollar pasta (but this time I marinaded and grilled chicken to put on top using the Italian beer marinade that Yolonda told me about). I tried taking pictures, but only two came out (possibly due to wine consumption) and only one had visible food in it. The good news is, the one that came out is the first new thing I've cooked since I started posting pictures and telling you all about my gastronomic adventures...dessert! I got these cool dishes at Ikea that are single serving casserole type dishes. I put pre-made biscuit dough on the bottom, sliced sweet banana on top and baked them. Then I drizzled caramel and powdered sugar on top with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream too. I think next time I'll use berries or peaches instead of bananas, but it turned out well...and, Lee taught me about the "flower" function on my camera which is used to take up close pictures. See the difference below...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

No Easy Answer...

I noticed two articles today on which were only two apart but did not mention one another. I found it odd as they highlight the difficulties facing anyone who cares about creating less waste and trying to live ecologically minded. The two articles were as follows:
It clarified for me, at least, the need to always think of second and third order effects as, often, those are the effects which have the most impact. Sure, seems like software is a great idea to help reduce paper use...however, to use software, we must have hardware. As software changes, hardware does too. Increases in effectiveness in computers drive an increase in E-Waste and the cycle continues.
I point this out not to say that, since nothing is perfect, we should do nothing, but only to remind myself that there are no easy solutions.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How much is too much?

I am living on my own now for the first time (almost up to three weeks now! 27 is, apparently, an age of change for me). I knew I would need some things that I didn't have, but didn't realize at all how bad it was until I moved in. After the first day, I realized there were some necessities which were uncompromising mainly involving hygiene (also, mostly made out of paper-toilet paper and paper towels for example). Then came issues of storage--hangers, shelving and a desk were next on my list. Comfort items were put off (and on this one, I took a hit. One can sleep on the floor, just uncomfortably, thus a mattress is a "comfort item").

I am slowly filling my room, kitchen and half a living room with things now, but the initial impulse to buy everything I "need" is difficult to stop once started. The problem is, I am getting to the phase where I don't know what I "need" and what I "want". Moreover, when it comes to purchasing items, if one is to do so in a way that does as little damage to the environment and is still socially responsible, it makes shopping (and differentiating between necessity and desire) much more difficult. For example, since I have a roommate, I cannot make all the purchasing decisions. If my roommate doesn't have the same shopping ethic as I do, what do you do when the roommate's purchases go against your own ethic? Do you but something in duplicate and thus consume something unnecessary, or do you use something that was made with baby-seal fat in China by a sweatshop?

The second dilemma is cost versus quality. For example, the second day I was here, I saw a knife block at Target on sale for five dollars. It has steak knives, bread knives, paring knives and sheers. Obviously for five dollars, I didn't expect it to last a lifetime. Three weeks later, while at the store looking for a bathmat (something which I thought was a luxury but after slipping in the many puddles I left after showering moved into the necessity column), I saw a knife set for a much higher price. This one, however, is guaranteed for life and will, ideally, last me that period also (until I am dead. Feel free to bury it with me). So, I bought a second knife set and am giving the first to my current roommate as I know she would never buy one for herself.

The last dilemma I have is a new one. So many things are pseudo-green that I don't know what to do. What I mean is, if something is not necessary, but it is made out of sustainably harvested wood, is it OK to buy it? I mean...buying something that you don't need to begin with, even if made out of bamboo or something...does it help? Or, does the fact that it's "sustainably made" cancel out by the fact that it didn't need to be made to begin with?

That being said, I'm going to put my new twenty piece set of stainless steel silverware into the bamboo drawer organizer I bought today. It doesn't fit into the drawer (or any of the drawers in the kitchen for that matter) and then I'm going to go buy a tape measure as my mom recommended. Again, the answer to so many of my questions was only a phone call away--remember kids, if Mom says to get it after all those years of being a Mom, it's probably a "necessity" even if you don't think so.