Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thank You

I just got home from my trip to North Carolina. In the pile of bills and junk mail was a card. It advised me that a Mass will be offered on Oct 3rd @ 7:30 am for the safe return of my son. I'm overwhelmed, and so thankful for this - words cannot express how I'm so deeply touched.

I don't know if the person who arranged this would want me sharing their name - but you know who you are and I love you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hurry Up and Wait

I spent a lovely few days with my son down in Fayetteville, North Carolina, this past weekend because his unit was going to be deployed to the Middle East on Monday. We shopped, watched movies and ate a lot of food. I put him up at my hotel so he wouldn't have to stay at his stripped down barracks room. I met some of his buddies here and there as we drove around, and one night we had dinner with his sergeant and family. By the way, sergeant is apparently pronounced something like "sar'nt" with a hint of the south in the accent. At least that's what my son's picked up.

His sergeant is smart and has seen two tours in the Middle East already. He seems to really care about his men, which is a relief to me. His parents are very nice as well. It has to be tough on them to do this for a third time; I know it's been quite a challenge for me getting through this one, focusing on making sure my son is center stage and he gets whatever he needs to make his send-off as good as possible.

Yesterday we ran a couple of errands in the morning - he needed to get his rank insignia sewn to a new cap we'd bought the previous day and he wanted to get his hair trimmed up. Then it was off to the base to get checked out of his room. This was around 11. The following are details of the day to the best of my recollection - I might have gotten some of the timing a bit mixed up - but it's pretty close.

They'd told my son to report to formation at 1:00 so we grabbed him some lunch and got back plenty early and hung around with his buddies and their families and wives or girlfriends. One of his buddies is the oldest of 11 kids. The youngest, a 3 week old baby, was there with Mom, Dad and a sister (#3 sibling). Many pictures were taken, I got a few, too. One guys' dad probably filled his 8 meg memory stick. When I get home I'll post some of the ones I took.

At 1:00 they lined up on the field in front of a little wooden platform on the large field that sits in front of his company's HQ buildings. After a while they ran into one of the buildings and soon they were all coming out, staggering under huge packs and hauling overstuffed duffles. I'm guessing my son's gear weighed more than he does, but he ran briskly to his spot with it on his back. Then after some business with their gear, I wandered out to where he was and we stood around some more. A while later they formed up again. Then a large group ran off in another direction to a different building. My son was a good 20 yards ahead of the rest of them - he runs like a gazelle with a cheetah on his tail.

They came straggling back one or two at time to the field with their weapons. We stood around some more. I got to know some of his buddies a bit better - they're a good group of young men. Funny stories were told, lots of teasing happened. By now it's around 3:00. Next formation is at 7.

Now, not knowing whether they'll be leaving or not, each time he had to go form up, we said goodbye. I'd go off to my car to get some A/C and water and eventually he'd call me and say, come on back out. At the 3:00 formation, there's a huge truck for their gear. They load all the gear. I've said goodbye again and am in my car. He calls me again, come back, we aren't leaving yet. I stagger back out. He and I head over to an Arby's just outside one of the nearby gates and had a second lunch. He tried to fill up, since he had no idea when he'd get a chance to eat again.

The sun sets and blessed cool finally arrives. It's been sunny and in the upper 80s all day. I'm surprised I don't have a sunburn. They get in formation again, and they all get some stuff on a lanyard they have to wear for the flight out. We stand around some more. While waiting for this formation to end I sat on a wad of gum. The chaplains assistant had been wandering around earlier with a tub of candy and gum and handing out 120 minute phone cards, about which my son said "this is like gold!". I suspect one of the kids spit out the gum, the soldiers are very good about cleaning up after themselves.

There have been buses coming and going all day - each time a different formation of troops has arrived and gotten on those buses with about an hour or two at most between their arrival and departure. My son's group has been standing around sweating in their fatigues since 1:00. It will be a ripe group getting on that plane later.

Finally, around 8 they're told the next buses that show up will be theirs. The buses arrive. I give my son another huge hug and tell him how much I, and all his family, and the huge circle of friends around us, are proud of him, will be praying for him and how much I love him. He heads for the bus, I head for the car. When the last bus drives off, I head for the road - it's about a 2 hour trip from Fayetteville to Raleigh where I am for the week.

He calls me about half an hour later - he's at "Green Ramp" which means he's at the airfield from which his flight will leave. He's not sure when they'll be loading onto the plane, but he is pretty sure he won't have another chance to call tonight. He promises to call me the next chance he gets. I'll be keeping the cell phone charged and near by in anticipation for the next, oh, 15 months or so.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Award Winning Mustaches and Beards

I am a huge fan of the Sheldon comic strip. I even have my own Lucky Duck tee shirt (you have to scroll down about half a page to see it) and signed book editions of the strips - the artist/writer even drew sketches in them which I love to pieces.

In his blog post today he asks, regarding a link he received to the World Beard and Mustache Championships 2007 (who knew?), " what point in your life do you go 'You know what? I'm tired of dating or of being attractive in any way. I'm past that. Instead, I'm gonna grow me an Imperial.'"

Good question. However I was more interested in what this guy could possibly have been thinking - and he only got 3rd place.

Yes, I know today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. I am just not clever enough to do an entire post in Pirate Talk. Arrr, me maties, ahoy and avast! That's about the most I can manage.

I did create a special avatar for today...

No grandkitties were harmed in the making of this avatar - it's entirely created in (and I would hope obviously since my skills are poor) Paintbox Pro. Maybe I should go look for a hat to put on it, too...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Very Special Pigeon, The "Pina Colada Song" In Real Life and Happy Birthday Smilies!

I've seen articles with pictures of momma mammals raising abandoned babies from other species but I've never seen anything like this pigeon and a baby monkey.

In other news, remember the "Pina Colada" song, which my husband reminds me was actually titled "Escape"? Back in the days before and online chat, this whiny dude sees a personal in the paper (while lying in bed next to his wife), responds to it (probably not right there in bed), and sets up a meeting at an Irish bar (we all know those are the best places to start illicit affairs) with this intriguing woman who may or may not be a wet, out of shape, alcoholic nympho with sand down her shorts. Oh Henry! It turns out to be his wife! They wander off into the sunset all smiles and renewed passion. Right.

Here's how it happens in real life.

My favorite quote of the piece was "To be honest I still find it hard to believe that the person, Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things to me on the internet, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years."

At least there was no blood shed. Yet. I'm looking forward to some interesting comments on this one, folks.

Finally, the smiley face is 25 tomorrow.

Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says, he was the first to use three keystrokes - a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis - as a horizontal "smiley face" in a computer message...Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly.

"I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)," wrote Fahlman. "Read it sideways."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Righi Was Within His Rights

Update on the Michael Righi "Papers Please" story. The Cleaveland Plain Dealer carried an article (I'd link to it but I get a "not found" page when I followed the link from "Writes Like She Talks" Hi, Jill! Like the new site.) on the case and later this article "What Are Your Rights?" appeared. Two excerpts:

A store asks me to open my bag. What are my rights?

Customers have the right to say no, said Lewis Katz, a Case Western Reserve University law professor and author of "Know Your Rights." That's why store employees and security guards usually ask permission. Security guards are allowed to search you without a warrant in three specific instances, said Jennifer Brindisi, a spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. That's at the border, in the airport and before entering private property. Otherwise, unless you're prepared to take a stand, it's easier to comply, ACLU Ohio Director Jeff Gamso said.


Can police force you to present your driver's license?

If you are not driving a car, Katz and the ACLU believe that police cannot demand a driver's license.

Looks like Mr. Righi was right.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cute and Lucky - More Cute Animals, real and otherwise

Ok, no more politics/current events stuff. Back to the tried an true "cute animal" stuff.

Heartkun - not an urban myth! At least so says Snopes - where I go to check out all things suspicious I get via massively forwarded emails...This adorable puppy has a heart shaped patch of fur. Watch the video on the Snopes page if you need a pick me up. Then go buy a lottery ticket. If you win the big one, don't forget Dawno sent you there...

Speaking of cute animals - have you read Frank's recent post about his new Jack Russell terrier? You should.

I'm a fan of the web-comic "Sheldon" which features a pug dog, a duck and a cute ?salamander? maybe a chameleon? any way, a cute lizard-like animal. That and "Two Lumps" which is a great little strip about two cats - one who's smart and snarky and one who's rather goofy and not too bright.

There's your daily dose of cute animal stuff. Your cheeks should be aching from the smiles - just remember, "no pain, no gain"

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Circuit City Apparently Is Exempt from Obeying the 4th Amendment

Mr Michael Righi was detained outside of an Ohio Circuit City Store by the manager and "loss prevention" person for refusing to show his receipt. The comments thread on Mr. Righi's blog post is very interesting in that so many people seem to think he's a jerk (well, most used less nice terms) for contesting the illegal search.

He called the police and was arrested and then released on $300 bail.

My husband and I shop at a local electronics super store and they have the same type of loss prevention person at the front of the store. We walk right past him every time. He has been trained NOT to try and force us to show the receipt. Good for them, because I'm not "guilty until proven innocent" in this country, yet. Accuse me of shoplifting, call the cops and then you can see my receipt and bag. Meanwhile, I'll be on the phone to my lawyer, the ACLU and the Mercury News.

Oh, and I liked the advice given in the comments to the above blog, take the merchandise directly to the returns counter and get your money back right then and there. You want to see my receipt? Bring that nice police officer over here and you can all examine the receipt as you refund my money.

ETA: ok, ok, my husband just reminded me that the 4th Amendment protects me from the government illegally searching me. In the back of my mind something tells me that if the government is prohibited then surely private citizens are equally prohibited - but that would be under some other statute - kidnapping maybe? I shot from the hip - but I know there's a grain of truth in there somewhere...