Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Portable Buddha

Although I am a Christian by birth and a Lutheran by baptism, I tend to follow many different Buddhist concepts and precepts. I am by no means an authoritarian in Buddhism, but I read a little bit in college history classes, several books by the current Dali Lama and one or two “Buddhism for Idiots” type books. I found that through a large portion of my reading that there is not so much 'judgment of others' in Buddhism.

I sometimes get discouraged with Christianity when I read or am told about how some folks are going to hell because they aren’t this or that sect of Christianity. Not to start a debate but I can’t even begin to fathom the fact that while sitting at dinner one night a very devout Christian told me the Dali Lama was a great read but was on the fast track to hell because he wasn’t a Christian. Even with his “works” as he called it, even with his openness to all people, his kindness to the world and his teachings of forgiveness and charity the man was still going to hell. I just don’t get that and I honestly believe that God (my God anyway) would not send such a kind, honest and caring man to hell.

So to get to the real point of this, my husband called this morning to say hello and tell me about the gift he bought the house and me. He starts describing this small 1 ½ by 2 foot wooden casing, that opens up to show a small, brass Tibetan style Buddha in it. It’s a small shrine used in the home to be set up in an alcove or some other small niche for meditation and prayer. After he finishes describing this beautiful, ornate shrine, he tells me about haggling for the shrine. Half way through the story he says, “…the closing bell of the bazaar rings and I tell the shop keeper that I have only $40 in my pocket for the portable Buddha…” I spit my drink, shook my head, laughing. “What did you call it?” I asked. He repeated it, “Portable Buddha.”

“Honey!” I say using my admonishing voice, “You can’t call a shrine a portable Buddha. That’s just wrong, really really wrong.” He laughs and tells me that since he can pick it up and move it around the house its deemed portable. I drop my head into my hand propped up on the desk, shaking my head giggling and thinking about what kind of trouble we could get into for making fun of a god of another religion. He then tells me about the portable Vishnu he saw as well but that it looks a bit more like Ghenesh one of the gods Apu from the Simpson’s talks about and prays to. Using his best Apu voice he says, “Ghenesh is not amused.”

In between fits of giggles I tell him he better stop because if we aren’t going to hell for not going to church more than twice a year we sure as shootin’ would for coining the phrases “portable Buddha” and “portable Vishnu.” Let’s anger only one religion at a time please I ask. He promises me not refer to either Vishnu or Buddha as being portable but would take free reign on the fictitious Ghenesh.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Let's Roll

My grandfather was a WWII veteran. He landed on Omaha beach with his unit on D-Day. I finally got to hear his stories of being a soldier, slowly one at a time starting about two years before he died of emphysema. Several years after his death, recalling a story for my husband is when Memorial Day started to have meaning for me.

As my understanding, pride and respect for those who serve grew so did my patriotism. I started to get angry at those that I saw who didn’t stop at 1700 when they retired the colours for the day. Ft Lee, VA is a training base (not all bases do this) so every morning and every evening you would hear the cannon fire and revelry or taps play. If you were outside, it is expected that you face the sound of the cannon (or where the flag was if you knew) and waited at attention or with your hand over your heart for the ceremony to finish. If you were driving, you are expected to pull over, get out of the car and do the same. I just wanted to smack these people who tried to cut up side roads in the hope of no one noticing what time it was as paying respect for the flag was “inconvenient” for them. I started getting rebellious and would park the car more into the road and stepped out into traffic if someone didn’t pull over.

When Memorial Day really hit home for me was that day, that blood curdling, bad temper evoking day on September 11, 2001. My life changed, our lives changed, nothing was what it was. I now had to change the way I drove to work, make my driving patterns erratic to stave off being a possible target. Now I have to remove my shoes and x-ray them at the airport. Now I have to read about my friends and relatives who were lost as a casualty of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an effort to do something for those that serve, I became a mini version of Lady Liberty, “Give me your tired, your hungry….anybody that needed a ride between one post and the next who were dressed in desert uniforms.” I made it a habit to offer strange men rides as the waited at the bus stop. I convinced the hubby one night to give a ride to this poor Major who was walking with a cane, struggling to get his luggage off the belt and at midnight was wandering around Frankfurt airport in woodland BDUs. This man was recalled to active duty. He was medically retired to Israel and had to get back to somewhere on the East coast to report in. This was right after a bunch of violent protests had gone on outside of Rhein-Main airport right next to Frankfurt airport. We made sure he got to Rhein-Main without incident.

Beyond that I went to work in the ID card section. Since I was supervising I got the emergency missions at all hours of the day and night. These are critical folks that need to get back on a MEDAVAC flight but can’t manifest unless they have an ID card. One soldier that broke my heart but had me laughing at the same time reinforced why we have Memorial Day.

On a last minute manifest I had two pictures emailed to me to produce cards. Their notice of what flight they were taking was really short. So I was driven out to the flight line and got to crawl around a C-140 looking for these guys to have them sign their ID card. As I am calling out the names, listening for a “here” or a hand move I spot my first person. His arm is in a cast but he signed it pretty well cast and all. The second fellow was on the litter right below. He had the unfortunate luck of running into some shrapnel and was pretty battered, covered in what skaters would call “road rash”, arm in a sling and one foot wrapped in an ace bandage. I smiled as asked him if he could sign his John Hancock for me and he started flirting with me! Here’s this young man no more than say 25 coming back from a stressful, tense environment, got tore up doing it, yet has the courage to flirt with the ID card lady. I nearly busted up laughing, he was so adorable. I of course flirted back figuring the husband would be okay with it as long as I really didn’t give him the number he asked for.

So it’s for these guys that I remember the service and sacrifice. It’s for those that are still there, those that have gone and returned, those laid to rest giving their life and the families for waiting for their soldier to return. It’s the courage of a soldier to flirt with a girl knowing he didn’t look his best, soldiers like SGT Devore who go out on patrol day after day, and PFC Maupin (MIA).

I will remember the courage and strength of these people. And to quote Todd Beamer, “Let’s roll.”

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Street Fests

Of all the cultural differences between the states and Germany there are many that I actually enjoy. For one, I love the fact that there is assigned seating in movie theatres. I thought this was a silly thing until going to a crowded showing and instead of rushing about to get a good seat you could take your time, get your goodies and stroll to your seat. Not having to fight with a bunch of teenagers who run, push and shove in line to get a seat is so nice.

The second thing is the street fest. K’town has one every year over Memorial Day weekend. It’s usually meant to celebrate spring (or the beginning of summer) for them and just happens to fall over our Memorial Day. I went to the fest on Friday with Miss A’s brother, his wife and her mom who is on holiday for 2 weeks.

I love these fests. They are similar to a county fair but quite different as well. You have your midway with games, you have your food tents and of course you have the rides (which are cheesy sometimes but some are complete puke-nators). What’s different is that amongst all these rides, food stands and games are the Beir Gartens. Open containers are not against the law here. In fact I stood promptly at 1900 under the arch waiting for my friends to show. After about ten minutes I gave them a call. They were 5 minutes away and still needed to park. This translated to about another 20 minutes especially to find parking. So what did I do? Yep, I went to the nearest beir garten ordered a pils and walked back to my spot under the arch. Other folks started to gather as well, waiting for friends and family to arrive. A small mass of people all with beers, most smoking a cigarette waited and drank patiently on the sidewalk at the corner .

So once they arrived, the night was a small version of a pub crawl. We went from food tent to beir garten to shopping stand through out the entire evening. You just carry your glass with you (after paying a deposit) and travel on to the next place. They fill your glass for you or will of course give you a new one (after paying another deposit – dirty glass is fine with me thank you). We watched fireworks being shot off outside one tent later in the night. Trying to be a sweetheart, one of the beer maidens quietly told Miss A’s brother not to get caught with those beer steins outside of the tent. She didn’t want him in trouble, it was really sweet of her to hand the steins to us through the open window of the tent. Beer maidens here aren’t always young pretty things – it’s usually a cute little old lady that makes you want to call her “grandma” and ask for a big hug and a cookie.

Over all it was a nice evening. I think we left around midnight stuffed with brautwuersts, beer, ice cream, bretzels and I had roasted cashews as a treat to take home with me. I really enjoyed the company and had a great time. Only two improvements could have made my night better

1) Having the hubby there (yep, that's a given)

2) Dancing and singing with Krip’ie in the main beer tent like we did the year before. Krip’ie and I were the only Americans singing German drinking songs while standing on the table arm in arm with other complete strangers. I think we were the only ones that knew the words.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The three ducks

These three ducks walk into a bar and up to the bartender behind the counter.
"Say, what's your name?" the bartender asked the first duck.

"Huey," was the reply.
"How's your day been, Huey?"
"Great. Lovely day. Had a ball. Been in and out of puddles all day. What else could a duck want?" said Huey.
"Oh. That's nice," said the bartender.
The bartender smiles and places a beer on the counter in front of the duck.

He turned to the second duck, "Hi, and what's your name?"
"Dewey," came the answer from duck number two.
"So how's your day been, Dewey?" he asked.
"Great. Lovely day. I've had a ball too. Been in and out of puddles all day myself. What else could a duck want?"
Again the bartender smiles as he sets the beer down in front of the second duck.

The bartender turned to the third duck and said, "So, you must be Louie?"

"No," she said, batting her eyelashes.
"My name is Puddles."

Thank you Kara that made my day....

Monday, May 23, 2005

Blue Man Group

This was not a great weekend. I was finally hit with a nice bout of the blahs, woe is me. It didn't start out as a bad weekend, in fact it was a really looking like a great weekend. Friday was a day off of work for me and I had accomplished a large number of little things I needed to get done.

It was Friday night that seemed to drag me into the land of unhappy bunnies. My sensei left for a week in the states and myself along with a few blackbelt students were left to run classes. Just about 4 hours of teaching and training was more than enough to make anyone person mad as a hatter. Most of the kids ignore you because they don't know you and that is frustrating. Especially the little kids because you can't quip off some remark about how they need to pay attention to the adults running the class - as a parent may get upset and tell sensei that you are an evil teacher. I already made a child cry once in class so I try hard to make sure I use "happy lady voice" to keep the peace. (Its another story for another day but it was his fault - he just never got called to the carpet for endangering another student before).

The specialty (blackbelt club) class and the adult class was "torture the ookie night" and guess who was ookie? Not only do we practice the forms required to gain rank but we also practice self defense. I am talking Marine Corps get the bad guy kind of self defense. So I as the exercise unfolds you hear..."okay, you deflect the first punch, grab them here, knee here, elbow here, groin shot.....and then wham sweep to the floor drop your knee into their neck and start hitting the kidneys." I breath a sigh as J's knee pushes into my neck - he believes in realism (so do I) so I wait patiently while he answers questions, knee still crammed into my neck. After a second demonstration we are told to practice ten times each with out partner - but of course J says the two demonstrations don't count. So twelve times in a row I end up on the ground knee in the neck thinking about when will it be my turn.

By the end of the night I am actually thinking that I really need to go buy a bottle of wine before going home. I really don't drink much (compared to college) and have never drank alone in my life. I was so beat, so tired, so just bleh that I finished two glasses of wine and was asleep by 2200.

I apparently wanted or needed sleep as I didn't wake until noon. I was supposed to drive to Belgium early in the morning to change a furniture order but didn't leave until 1500. I had a lack luster attitude but was craving people interaction. I made it back to Germany in record time as my friend called and invited me to dinner. They preordered for me, about 5 minutes after I arrived my food ended up on the plate. T wasn't having a good day either. We blame it on the weather since my husband isn't here to be the source of my trials. I listened while they spoke about going and getting a drink afterwards - mom needed a break from the kids. I finished eating my dinner and didn't say much. I was wondering if I could tag along but didn't want to ask. I wanted to be in a bar - which is odd. I am not a bar hopper, I am a pub crawler. Darts, pints and long, deep discussions about politics, religion and family are more my speed than the traditional European disco. But strangely I still wanted to go.

We parted ways and they kindly paid for my dinner. I made a quiet protest, they have a large family and in typical Sicilian fashion I was told "shut up, we're paying for your dinner." I love her some days -its a mirror image of me except I'm Irish and taller (snark). My night ended early with me watching two movies and being in bed by midnight.

Sunday wasn't much better. I felt more isolated than the day before. Again I didn't move until noon from the bed - the dog didn't either which is really sad. I made a vain attempt to see Toby Keith but nobody would answer their phone. I break out in a sweat just thinking about large crowds so attempting to navigate my way through people I don't know in an attempt to find folks I thought would be there was just not an option - so I passed. I ended up seeing Star Wars instead. That movie was so dark it just drug me down farther into feeling sorry for myself.

I spent the rest of my day on the couch, staring mindlessly at the TV. I didn't clean, I didn't do laundry, I just sat. The only time I moved was when the dog insisted that I take her on a walk. Her method of insisting is to go find and get every single toy she has and throw it at me. Yes, throw it. She's learned how to bounce the ball for herself by raising her head, throwing it forward and releasing the ball. She threw almost all of her toys at me and I finally gave in and took her out.

That walk was the best part of my day. Our pound puppy is greatly interested in other animals. She just wants to be social and play with them all - and I mean all! While walking she tried to entice a cow to run up and down the fence line with her in the fields. The cow just looked like they normally do while chewing cud and never moved. She tried again with a yearling and got a better response. The horse followed for about 2 runs and then got bored because I had no food. We returned home after about a hour and I resumed my silent protest with my arse firmly planted on the couch, remote in one hand, soda can in the other.

I've been lucky, I really haven't had any kind of low point until now. I've been angry, frustrated, annoyed and proud (TP roll holders) but I hadn't hit low like, this not really. I hope to have a better week and drag my arse out of this funk, away from the blue man group.

Maybe I need to find a purple man group instead?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Girls don't cry

I am a fiercely independent person. I loathe being told what to do or that I can't do something. My mother swears that my mantra as a child was "I can do it myself mother." I have always wanted to fix problems or be allowed to fall on my face without be told step by step what to do. This mentality of course does really well when you have a mother in law who seems to think that you need a step by step instruction on how to tie your shoe - snarky thing to say, I know.

As I grew older of course I learned how to take advice and then use it to fall on my face or to accept advice once I stood up from that face plant position. My biggest motivator was my father's consistent quiet reminder that I could do anything a boy could do and to not let a single person tell me otherwise. Last night was a true test of my conviction and 'can do' attitude.

I study martial arts, Okinowan Goju Ryu Karate to be specific. I've been practicing for over three years now and am quite close obtaining my blackbelt. I like this style because it works well with my shortness (I am 5'4") and my sensei has a good sense about seeing a student's strengths and weaknesses using them to the student's advantage.

Of course a physical sport like this is not without its injuries. I have been punched in the nose, kicked in the back of the head (several times), elbowed in the jaw (full force - thanks Chris!) and dropped to the ground without the use of my limbs to lessen the fall (I really love you Chris). I am okay with this stuff, I like to spar and am an aggressive, scrapper of a fighter - just think Jack Russell Terrier and that's me! I enjoy fighting people better than I as it helps you to improve (especially for not getting kicked in the back of the head). With these minor injuries of course comes one or two major ones. I tore a ligament in my foot about two years ago. This last November I had the torn ligament repaired. Yes, yes I know how come it took so long? That would be the military health care system. That and well the guys down range needed the surgery before me, they're just a little bit more important than I (And I don't mind). About mid February I started back to classes and to condition myself back up to where I was.

Well last night was absolute hell for me. We were testing and although I can do the requirements and execute them well, it kills me to do them repeatedly (6 times in a row is hard physical labor here folks). I am just not there yet, but I refuse to let on. I must have had a horrid look on my face because I was asked during testing if I needed to stop- of course I said no, "I'm fine." In the meantime my foot is on fire. It's burning, tingling in a bad way, strangely it feels wet when there's nothing to making it feel that way. Being a stubborn mule, I refused to stop and refused to cry - I kept going. I was feeling ill, like I wanted to hurl that's how much pain I was in.

I finished the testing and passed to the next kyu, but this whole situation kills me. Is this because I am still not where I need to be physically? Or, is this because the doctor screwed up during surgery? My foot is still a mess if you look at it. The scar is still red and swollen in places, where the sutures were "spitting" out (being rejected) there is a small mass of soft, smooshy something that I can't seem to massage out as scar tissue. According to the doc I don't need physical therapy even though now my foot hurts on the opposite side than the original place of pain. It doesn't hurt the way it did before the surgery but now it hurts a different way. I am sure that I won't be able to go off post because the surgery has been within the last year, but I really think I need second opinion about the mess I think he made.

At least I didn't cry while testing, hence the title.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What about Bob?

My co-worker asked me today if I watch cartoons. Yes I admit I love cartoons. I will be the one that gets up with the kids in the morning to plop down in front of the telly with my pillow and a bowl of Fruity Pebbles to watch Winnie the Pooh and other celluloid creations. I am a big fan of Samurai Jack, Winnie the Pooh and some of the other more classic cartoons - Speed Racer, G Force, Jetsons, Atom Ant, The Banana Splits, Hong Kong Phooey & Secret Squirrel.

Being from Haiti my co-worker sometimes has a bit of an accent and I need to think about what she says before I answer. So after the cartoon question she asks me,"So what about Bob?" Bob? Who's Bob? More like what cartoon is Bob from? I am only half paying attention in an effort to get some work done and ask, "Which Bob?"

"BOB!" She exclaims, "That stupid spongey guy. What about BOB? Why do people like this stupid, yellow sponge? I do not understand this fascination with a dimwitted square yellow sponge named BOB!" I move my head around my monitor to look at her and start giggling as she goes down this list of annoyances she finds about 'Bob.'

  • Why does a sponge live in a pineapple?
  • Why does a sponge wear clothes? And a tie? Why a tie?
  • He looks like a kitchen sponge, why would a kitchen sponge live in the sea?
  • Why does he need to go to the beach when he lives in the ocean? Isn't his front yard covered in sand?
  • What is wrong with Patrick? His best friend (Patrick) can't even swim but HE'S a starfish?
  • What is a KrabbyPatty made of? Are they some kind of cannibal?
  • Who can stand that voice? Don't mention his laugh, it scares me!

Her questions were cracking me up. I was laughing so hard I started to cry. Such loathing for a cartoon character is so funny to me that I keep giggling every time I think about it.

So what about Bob?

Pull out of Iraq...yeah yeah that's the ticket!

I think Galloway is some what of a Ninny on this, well on his remark to pull out of Iraq. During an investigation hearing he stated that the US & the UK should pull out of Iraq. And do what? Leave these people with a war torn nation? Without a stable government? Without a means of an economy? How could the US and UK governments pull out now without feeling like a bunch of major asses as they would leave the Iraqi people high and dry? This is completely unrealistic.

Galloway thinks that because there is no proof of WMDs and supposedly no proof of Iraqi involvement in 9/11 or the Taliban that we should just pick up and leave. This is just asinine! Do you tell your child to just leave a mess all over the counter? Just make them leave it, in disarray for someone else to clean? No, you tell them to finish what they started. You tell them to clean up the mess they made before they go out and play with their friends. The US & UK shouldn't pull out now, morally you'd think the wouldn't - they need to finish what was started. If you topple a horrid governmental regime then you should stay and help make a better one - not just smack 'em down and leave the country to anarchy ruin. Galloway is just being short sighted in my opinion & only looking to cover his butt while testifying.

On a good note the article pointed out what I've been saying for a while - The French had too much to lose from financial losses if they went along with invading Iraq. Not only were there contracts for items like automobiles but supposedly there's oil barrels as kickbacks involved as well:

In addition to Galloway, the panel also implicated former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, who allegedly was allocated 11 million barrels.
"I wrote to Mr. Coleman," Pasqua said Sunday, "and I told him that all allegations about myself are false."

As Martin from the Simpsons would say, "Hah-ha!" to the French government (Actually Mr. Chirac to be specific) - I am not particularly fond of Mr. Chirac (in case you couldn't tell).

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Umm, no that's not what that word means...

I pick up words from everywhere, it doesn't matter from where but I pick them up. I had a boss from Boston so you should hear they way I say quarter. I've said trousers for the longest time and of course love the word Wally. Basically if I spend enough time around you to hear the word I will end up incorporating into my everyday use.

Normally, this wouldn't be a bad thing unless you use the wrong word at the wrong place and time. Today was one of those days. It was just as bad as the time I ran around the Heidelberg Pharmacist museum using the brand new German word I learned. I ran around the museum pointing to everything black I saw and said schwanz. After about the fourth time the husband looks at me quite wide-eyed and asked me to repeat the word. He chuckles and says, "Honey the word you want is schwarz." As I am sure you can guess schwarz means - black, schwanz means - penis. Thank my lucky charms that there was no one German in the museum while I ran around shouting penis at everything I saw. I bet I would have been arrested for lewd conduct or something.

So you can guess where today's word debacle went can't you? I also pick up words from British TV as well as regional pronunciations of American words. Most of them sound pretty good and really throw Americans for a loop when I use them. So, frustrated at my computer I muttered bollocks and threw my hands into the air as a sign of desperation. My English co-worker gave me the most wicked look and suggested I pick another word. Curious, I told her that I'd seen it used during the early hours of the evening on UK satellite and thought that it only meant "oh crap, oh hell, hellsbells, etc." Much to my surprise, no, no it did not - in fact it meant balls. Yep, as in balls, nuts, stones, juevos or any other slang for the male bits. Needless to say I apologized profusely claiming ignorance and that it was used on a show so early in the evening that it couldn't have been that graphic.

I think I need a dictionary, one that is multi-lingual and contains mostly slang. That way I will save myself from any additional embarrassment of using words meant for the pub and not work.

And what is it with me always seeming to pick out the words that talk about (as one British friend put it) - the male dangly bits?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Shoplifters of the world....unite and take over....

I found this artice at Sgt Lizzie's Blog .

Anyways the article just makes me laugh - what a bunch of morons. You suspend a kid for telling you to piss off when he gets a coveted phone call from Mom in Iraq? They made it out like they were doing the Mom a favour by not expelling him for his behavior instead. Wow, I bet he feels special – he wasn’t expelled. Come on guys, this must be a public school and just doesn't have the experience of dealing with children from a deployed family. I am not saying that he shouldn't be punished...I guess (well okay if he became violent), but for telling them to piss off in more colourful terms doesn't deserve suspension for two weeks from school.

I really feel for this young man. As mentioned in CaliValleyGirl's Blog, the phone calls you do get are only 15 minutes long and man do you wish you could stretch the minutes. I always say "I love you" a couple of times when I hear the two minute warning, but it always seems to hit you right in the pit of your stomach when the line goes dead two minutes later, mid sentence. Seriously, I know I have my cell phone on my person everywhere I go, even during office hours. I’ve watched several women duck out of meetings to take their 15 minute call and watch as a half dozen people in the meeting defend the person who left from the division chief's rants.

So instead of jumping on the track to crazytown folks - investigate a little more. That was probably the only time his mom could call and if I was teaching I'd let him finish the call. Then, later on I would make a call home to verify that he was telling the truth. If he wasn't then suspend him for lying to the faculty and make a public spectacle that lying about a deployed parent will not be tolerated. Do not suspend a kid for a natural reaction to be told to hang up on mom!

For some reason while typing this The Smith's song "Shoplifters of the world" keeps running through my head. Not sure that's the right anthem for him but okay its my musings right?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven, not just Orlando Bloom eye candy

I saw Kingdom of Heaven this weekend. I went more for the fact that I would get to see Orlando Bloom dressed (or partially dressed) in interesting clothing and looking all scruffy and yes quite yummy, but ended up walking away with some thoughts in my head about Islamic culture and their correlation to other tangents in my head. Please be advised that my tangents tend to work like the six degrees to Kevin Bacon and have only a small correlation, but it’s there, there really is a correlation – I swear!

Now I really can’t answer about the historical accuracy of the movie. It could have been utterly wrong for all I know. It was just while I was watching it and picking up on the one or two ideals that I know for a fact are true I noticed something else. First of all I liked the fact that each side had respect for each other - the leaders had a mutual respect for the other. I find that interesting. I liked the fact that it was based on deeds - the deeds of Bloom’s character of treating others with respect even if they are your enemy. I haven't seen that style of leadership based on mutual admiration and respect since WWII.

The second thing that caught my eye was that both Bloom and the Sultan kept their words. “My word is my bond.” You hear that remark but how often in current society, especially our current government does that really happen? For me my word is my bond. If I say I will do something it will be done. It doesn’t mean that I never stretch the truth or dodge answering because the truth will be costly, but I do not back down once I commit. I see many of America's current leaders where that's not the case anymore, so does it happen anymore? Or is this a lost concept?
The last thing that came to my mind was the action of the French crusaders. My mind just drew a blank because it was a specific sect of catholic priest, but regardless it just reminds me of the fact that many Christians were such asses and pushed their ideals of the world on others. This seems to happen continuously throughout history too if you look at it (including those of my own ethnic background). It really gives those that actually follow the precepts of Christianity a bad name. There were those that harmed no one and only tried to provide help to those that needed it and then there were those who only saw the world their way. Zealots of any religion really just add to the reason why so many people today look at religion today with caution and disdain.

Today was mostly a ramble & prattle but, it also reminds me that while growing up my parents taught me to be open minded and to listen and learn from what others had to say. Even with my parent’s teachings of acceptance, I found that my blinders still left quite a small view of the world. Now, after living in another country for 5 years I have been able to widen the blinders a bit. I just never realized I was so US centric in my complaints of what I would like to fix or change in the world. Now my ideals about the problems of the world expand out beyond just the US or North America, but spread throughout the planet. It’s great when you can sit in a pub or locals table down the street and hear not just ideals from one state over but an entirely different country’s. I sometimes curse living here for so long, but I wouldn’t be the better person I am today without it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Little Girls from Zion, IL

Sometimes I avoid the news because it worries me to hear about military crashes or deaths from other situations. I read CNN this morning and this story really got to me (click the blog entry title for the story).

I can see ordering your child to come home. I can see getting frustrated when the child doesn't listen. But man, to punch a child in the face as a full grown man as a form of what? Parenting? Discipline? Can we say anger control issues? Reading the rest of his admissions just about made me ill when they stated that his own daughter had stab wounds in her eyes. This freak lost complete control and did despicable things to his own daughter.

I remember being a kid and we could go anywhere in our neighborhood without fear. Now it seems, I wonder how The Hubby & I are supposed to have kids when I feel like I need to place a 'lojack' anklet on them so in case they are removed from a specific location I will know about it.

I sometimes really think about this line from 'Parenthood' and how well it appears to apply to current society (at times)-
You know, Mrs. Buchman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Politics, Toilet Paper & Tools

Sounds better than it really is the title I chose. Yesterday I had made my third attempt to contact the highest spouse in the food chain that I could. I am still really bugged about Pile and her quality of service. So much so that I went ahead and when I couldn't get a hold of the woman I wanted to talk to I sent her an email describing the whole thing. I hope that something comes about of this and not just a pat on the head for being the 'loudmouth wife' that folks will try to appease. I played really good politics there, aren't I the good girl?

Last night after work I donned the "Timette the Toolgirl Taylor" hat and started fixing crap around the house. Our townhouse looks really good if you go into our neighbor's house. Ours was and is in need of sprucing up quite a bit. The kitchen needs to be redone, the flooring is soo 1970's with the orange and brown colour scheme and then there is the toilet paper holders.

These things are so old, they must be throwbacks or purchased in East Berlin when the wall was still up. The holders are tiny, and I mean TINY! It doesn't even fit German TP that you can buy on the economy. So in my shopping spree over the weekend I bought new TP holders. My kind neighbor brought over his drill and gave me my destructions. I drilled my own pilot holes and mounted the whole thing by myself. This is actually quite a feat since the walls are tile from floor to ceiling. I could have cracked a tile but using SSG H's good advice drilled into the grout.

I had to laugh a little when he was giving me instructions. You can tell that his wife does not use power tools since he holds up the screw anchors and calls them "these little plastic thingies." I smiled and said, "The screw anchors SSG H, uh okay". I don't think he expected me to know what they are - maybe we could go out to the car and I can show him that thing that looks like an octopus...I mean distributor cap? This is coming from a girl who was stranded in the middle of Washington state (in my college days) with two men standing there like TweedleDee and TweedleDumb while I was the only one under the car with a hammer hitting the starter so I could get the car to a mechanic to replace the starter.

Tonight I am going to use his drill again to hang some prints that we still haven't hung. Our cordless drill can't seem to make pilot holes in the cinder block even with a masonry bit. I really hate that the print of the Flying Tigers has been on the floor for a year. I like SSG H's drill it is a cool toy. So who wants to help me replace our tiny, ity bity flash water heater - any takers?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

They speak French in France?

Today was another good day for me. I woke up on time, showered, got dressed and was about to head out the door when I see I missed a call. I nearly had a fit when I noticed that the call was from Miss A. Holy crap, I'm thinking that I missed her going into the hospital right then and there (she call at 06:20). So I call back and well the hubby answers the phone. I am slightly taken aback, stutter and then say "hello there, how are you?" He replies and hands the phone off to Miss A. I tell her I was a little freaked that something had happened and I was sorry I didn't have the cell phone by the bed (I might as well move the whole purse or I will lose the phone). It was all good, she just wanted to share her joy of getting a call at 05:30 to pick up the spouse at Rhein-Main. I asked if they needed anything from Cora (The French Walmart) and headed out the door.

This trip was nice, same lady as yesterday's breakfast. She'd never been and I needed the company of another. Yes, I don't need to go 'tinkle' in pairs but I didn't want to drive to Cora over the border in France alone. Knowing me, I'd end up swearing at someone in French and get arrested. So, its probably better she came. I was on a quest in fact to get weed killer. In Germany you need a permit to just about do anything and there's something special you need to get weed killer. Since I didn't feel like dealing with it, I took the advice of an instructor of mine and crossed the border.

When T and I get together it is like two hens, that prattle and cluck at a nearly impossible rate of speed. I feel sorry for any guy in the car with us as we will appear unintelligible. So as we travel over the border she kicks up her heels and says "Look, Ma I'm in France." She then proceeds to tell me about talking to her middle daughter and telling her where she was going that morning. Her daughter couldn't figure out how she could go to Paris in one day and get back in four hours. So mom pulls out the map and shows here where we are going and where Paris is. Her daughter asks, "But mom what language do they speak? You aren't going to France." Mom smiles and says, "Honey, Paris is a city in France and they speak French in France." So the daughter puts on her best French accent and says, "Uhahaha-uhha, zee cat esss on le matt." She then just about lands on the floor in a belly laugh at her wonderful ability to speak French so fluently.

In Cora, I had to search for an ATM. The normal one is broken. We find it and start milling about the store. I find the weed killer and there's two kinds. Now my French consists of swear words, basics about food, drink & toilet and where's the cute guy (thanks Meg!). I have no clue which to buy so I buy one of each. Finally as the hands are full, no overflowing I find a hand basket and dump the cheese, bread, tort and weed killer while we run about some more. We finally leave with some Italian coffee as well (yeah I got a brick of T's) and head on back.

It was so early in the day that I didn't know what to do with myself. So I went out on a quest for little carpet squares for the stairs. The stairs are wooden and the dog gets going too fast sometimes and it gets ugly. She always looks at you like you were the one that did that to her. I went around to a few places and finally found some that were affordable at a place called Hornbach. Hornbach is the Lowe's or HomeDepot of Germany. I couldn't reach them so I found staff that could. I ask for help and tell them - "Ich bin zu klein." I got a giggle out of that remark so hopefully I didn't say I was something other than I am too small. I also found new door matts, and went to the garden center and bought plants. I was a rolling with the purchases.

I took all my treasures home and did a thorough cleaning of the main floor. The dog hair ends up everywhere! I really need to call the maid that Miss A gave me, I am just being lazy about it.

I put the little carpet matts on the stairs and tried to get the dog to use them. She is such a freak of nature sometimes. She will tear down the stairs right down the middle, just as happy as a pig in muck. The nut case carefully walks up the stairs staying to the side of the carpets until she has no where else to go but step on them. What a nut! I swear the dog is insane or just really, really silly.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Lousy Luck & Better Days

Well, I started my day off from work as happy as can be. Its was a great day actually. I decided instead of registering the car (its due in July), I was going to take a total "me" day. I had breakfast with a friend and we started milling about doing nothing major other than look for things to spend money on.

Just about halfway through the morning I get a phone call from my friend's brother - guess who's having surgery again? Yep Miss A. The poor girl, its been joked that they just need to sew in a zipper on her. Her gastric bypass has gone wonky. The normal tummy has the incoming pipe on the left and the outgoing on the bottom right. When they do the surgery they staple the tummy down to a small blob and then move the outgoing tube to the small portion. Hers for some reason it leaking into the unused portion of her tummy and with no where for that leakage to go its going to eventually make her ill and give her all sorts of nasty problems.

So of course I instantly say okay well if the hubby can't come home, me and the dog will just make camp in your house for the two weeks you will be in the hospital to keep the boys on track and out of trouble. Once again I got to call SGM S who was in the middle of a promotion ceremony and could barely hear me. I told him Miss A would be calling and the surgery is for her this time.

There wasn't really anything else I could do but just continue with my day. They checked in a few times and I picked up the eldest son and took him home after work that night.

Some people have rotten luck, but strangely enough she said she wouldn't change her choice to have the original surgery for all the world.

More power to you darling!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Apparently, Gomer Pile joined the Officer Corps

I have been a part of Army life as an Army wife for just about 10 years. I have seen a few deployments (although none of them as long as this before, the max was about 6 months) and have had the spouse spend time in and out of special projects upon numerous occasions (enough of them last year that he spent only 100 days in country) while being stationed here for the last five years in Germany. So I am used to separation and have seen FRGs that worked well and ones that don't. After last nights debacle I have come to the conclusion that the Rear D HHC is being ran by Gomer Pile.

On Monday an email went out to the spouses and friends about a video teleconference that was set up for after the FRG meeting on Wednesday at 1900 (7pm). I shot an email off to the FRG leader asking about a sign up sheet, and if the soldiers down range knew about it. The response I got was that the VTC was still tentative and that there is no sign up at this time.

On Tuesday the government employee that works as a FRG assistant called and asked if I was going to attend the VTC as they were taking a head count. I said yes and waited for more info to be sent out.

On Wednesday one of the soldiers sent a copy of the schedule that was presented down range so we could see where we were on the schedule. This list was sent to the Rear D HHC commander. I was fairly late on the list, there were 15 people in all with a total of 8 minutes per listing - I was number 11. The email spoke of a cut off time to respond for any others that might want to add their name to the list. This listing concerned me because my friend's family was second to last and the son was still recovering from his surgery and couldn't wait/stand/sit for long periods of time. So I composed a nice email asking how the schedule was set up, as I was one of the first to sign up but the last on the listing. I also mentioned that the friends shouldn't be so far down the listing as it was too much for the son to sit around for so long. After I got my email sent off I waited but got no response.

So I thought I would call the FRG assistant at her office. I asked about the listing how and who set it up and then mentioned that the family was almost last on the listing. The FRG assistant was not happy at how far down they were. She went to the commander and had her moved to first. I called the commander at the suggestion of my friend to see where I stood on the listing. Come to find out I had moved to number 20 now? I asked her how I had moved from 11 to 20, did all 9 other people have children? (I expected those with kids to go first so they could go to bed at a decent hour). Her response was that there were only 10 with children. So then I ask how did I move 9 spaces? She went off on a remark that people just called in and she placed them where they lay, etc. When I questioned about how I was one of the first but still ended up last and did she add the names to the top or the bottom of the list, she started to get irritated.

Next she tells me that they've been jumping through their butts to get this done for us as an implication that I was being ungrateful. Then in a snotty, condescending tone told me she guessed she could contact sgt G's wife and ask her if she could trade with me since she was the first person on the listing without kids (later looking at the list she was #8 so where'd the other 3 people with kids go?). Or that Ms. K would give up her spot for me and they could talk another time (she has a 4 year old daughter).

This killed it for me; you don't get smart, sassy or attempt to guilt me without getting an ear full. She knew all too well from my previous remark that there would be a snowball's chance in hell that I would take a slot away from a child - this was just a form of appeasement to get me off her back for having such poor planning on the VTC. So livid, I went off, I flipped, snapped, what ever you want to call it when you go to the mattresses and intend on returning as the last man standing. From where I stand she has shown consistently that she is a poor leader and an ineffective commander - basically she is quite lazy.

First instance was that she initiated a survey on the inventory she took control of which was a large sum of money. Come to find out, she was doing it out of either laziness or spite of the commander she was switching with. Three quarters of the items were in her hands in that building on her hand receipt. In fact the one that just makes me blink and shake my head is that a monitor she was looking for was sitting ON her desk, PLUGGED into the PC she was using - but uh, she wasn't able to find it during inventory??

Second instance - FRG meetings started before deployment to start to get the word out deployment information. Meeting dates were being changed by her weekly and only sent out to the soldier. Well most folks were not at their desk nor near their emails - training and planning kept them away from their workplace and the communication that needed to go to the spouses. They never mailed anything and even though they had collected spouse information 4 times already, they weren't using it. I missed out on two pre-deployment briefs because I found out about them after my husband returned from a planning conference and the other the morning of, an hour before it started (I work an hour away).

Third instance was the mess of me trying to get a hold of someone in the unit over the surgery. The listing of numbers they gave us was a joke and she didn't answer her phone. I find out from talking to the FRG leader that Pile didn't bother to contact FRG until 18:30 that night when her office was contacted at 13:20. Also she never called the family, the 1SG didn't call the family and neither one of them said a word to the Mom last night at the FRG meeting- not a single condolence or statement of concern.

The last instance was her being rude to me, yes I was only moved 20 minutes down but that time placed my husband at some time after 23:00 with him working 12 hour days, 7 days a week - that's just too late in the night for 5 minutes of talk time.

So as I went kamikaze on her, I told her that I did not like her tone of voice, the way she was speaking to me, her attitude and frankly that she pissed me off and she could remove me from the list - I wasn't going to go and hung up. About an hour later the chicken shit sends me an email response to my email with the new listing with now 25 people, and a talk time of 4 minutes each. Her note reads about how sorry she is I am upset and that she did not remove me from the listing (she got confused and thought I was bitching about being removed), and that as a previous FRG leader I should know you can't please everyone every time. I stewed for about ten minutes and called her back.

I proceeded to calmly tell her that she was confused, that I wasn't upset because I thought my name was removed, I WANTED it removed. I told her that she is unorganized, that I can't believe how many people she allowed to sign up for a two hour block of time, that I should not have been continually pushed to the end of the list and I this is just a joke. I come to find out from her that people started calling in requesting specific times (ignoring of course those with kids that point is not a problem and never will be for me - kids come first). I told her I wasn't offered that opportunity so why where the others allowed? She also remarked that it was only 15 minutes and implied not to get my knickers in such a twist over 15 minutes.

I expressed again that it was her attitude and poor planning that I am twisted over not the fifteen minutes. She also claimed she hadn't seen that list before and didn't know where it came from (funny look at the email it went to HER from her counter part down range). I pointed out that it appeared to be favourtism as people kept going up the list and she claimed she didn't know them. Oh really I asked so you've never heard of Cpt ***'s wife he works in your office down the hall, you know the S1? She then claimed she just placed them as they came, meaning that I got pushed down as she placed them at the top of the listing. I finished the call with a quiver in my voice that this was a joke and she again tried to offer Ms. K's slot and I resounded with another hell no she has a child, what part of that don't you understand?

My spouse got word to me by way of four other people that 23:30 was too late for him, that he had to brief a general tomorrow and couldn't stay up that late (it makes him irritable and that's not good with him, PowerPoint and generals). So in the end those fifteen minutes that she couldn't understand why I was upset about turned out to be fifteen minutes to much.

This just kills me; I was so excited to see him. Granted, I had prepared myself just in case to give up my slot to someone with kids, knowing before all the other mess that she wasn’t very prepared and if there was screw up I would give up my slot. Even though I was prepared, I didn't lose that time helping someone else, I lost it on the ineptitude of a lazy female Gomer Pile.