September 11, 2016

Remembering

Like any historical event, this day, fifteen years ago, is seared in my memory.  I was fortunate - no one that I knew was directly harmed by the terror attacks that day.  I was not inconvenienced in any way by the sudden restrictions on travel, my finances weren't harmed by the closing of the markets, I didn't have tickets to an event that got canceled, nor did I need to go to any location that had been closed for security purposes.  I was able to immediately reach everyone that came to mind, from friends in the attack areas, to military members stationed all around the world.  My 'world' was intact - but our world was shattered.

Having my family and friends accounted for was little comfort for the rage, fear, and overwhelming sadness caused by what happened to our country that day.  I like the rage.  Still have it, and am likely to carry it to my grave.  I don't care that it causes me to make mass generalizations about certain cultures.  I don't care that it is probably unhealthy.  It is the rage that keeps me on my toes and ensures that I won't become complacent.  
It is odd how quickly we acclimated to the everyday threat of terror.  And how passive we have become to the hundreds of small attacks that have been committed since 9/11.  I hate that my children are growing up in a world that once seemed so foreign to me.  But, I can't change that reality, so I educate them, make sure they remember, make sure they understand the threat potential, and we adapt to this new reality.
I am still so sad about the lives lost, and lives changed by 9/11.  Maybe it is because I didn't have a personal stake in it - other than being a patriotic American.  I don't have a specific person to remember fondly.  No good times to reminisce about.  I have the images of that day, and the weeks that followed.  I have the anger and the fear that this could happen to my family or friends one day.  
If you Google, looking for a nice photo for a 9/11 post, you can find thousands of images of New York, the Twin Towers, and every manner of flag, cross, angel, and hero emblazoned alongside.  It takes some work to find similar images of the other sites that were attacked that day.  If there are, or were, graphic art to remember those sites, the search results have been buried beneath pages upon pages of amateur internet sleuthing diagrams purporting all manner of conspiracy theories.  While not equal in size, numbers affected, or breadth of television coverage, those lost in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, are who I choose to honor today.


  

September 7, 2016

Homework

Thank you, technology Gods of the Universe.  And, thanks to my two oldest kids, who set aside their beer college homework last night long enough to help their younger sister with her algebra homework.  Through the magic of cellular telephones, Facetime, and scanning and emailing technology, The Princess' algebra homework was completed.

I am a smart woman.  Really, I've been tested!  I make Very Important Decisions at work each day.  I serve my community and am trusted with helping make the decisions that determine how the town I live in grows and develops.  But 8th grade algebra can bring me to my knees. 
I remember the basics.  I have no problem with mathematical functions.  And, it really isn't too hard to write and solve equations - if they weren't so ridiculous about it.  After pulling my hair out for several minutes, we called Bang.  He is a math whiz, but not so much a teacher.  Luckily, Boom was also willing to pull herself away from her homework to help out (if you saw our tuition bill you would understand why I insist on envisioning my children always studying).  
Boom and I got The Princess through it.  But, I could tell by the look on her face that she didn't really get it - a look I know I had through most of junior high math class, and the word problems have gotten worse since then.
Those stories about Communist countries that see some natural talent in sports, and then they take a kid out of school and train them in their sport full time, with little other schooling...I can see the beauty in that.  I don't think that The Princess is going to miss out on her life's calling if she skips algebra.  I would much rather see a high school math track for non-math kids, that offers classes that will actually serve them in life.  Instead of algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, non-math loving kids could take personal finance, budgeting, investing, and basic economics classes.  Learning to read a HUD-1 Settlement Statement before financing a home, learning savings, tax strategies, ways to make your money work for you - all things that would help kids be financially responsible adults.

   

August 15, 2016

FOD

The past three weeks have been a whirlwind - my family took a little vacation, I have been to College Station twice helping my two oldest get their place ready for move-in, and work has been insanely busy.

And yet, I can't imagine that my busy work and family life begins to measure up to the schedule of the POTUS.  My family drove (that is a blog post unto itself) some 2,200 miles roundtrip, in 7 days, seeing the sites of the Four Corners region and counting all the green cross dispensary signs in the Durango, Colorado area.  We had a lovely vacation rental, plus two medium range hotels on the road.  The kids got some souvenirs, we ate a couple of nice meals out, no taxpayers were needed to fund our activities.  Both Mr. H and I worked a bit from vacation, putting out fires in our respective work places, and cementing our value to our workplace in the knowing that there were things they just couldn't do without us.

Meanwhile, the First Family jetted off to the Vineyard, again.  During their sixteen day vacation, they took side trips to the Hamptons, again.  Ate expensive meals at exclusive restaurants, again.  Partied like they aren't paying for it, again.

And, yesterday, for the 305th time, the president played a round of golf.  While he was raking the sand after his bunker shot, people in Louisiana were drowning, watching their homes flood, losing a lifetime of memories.  People in Milwaukee were looting, rioting, setting squad cars on fire.  And, at the other end of the spectrum, American athletes continued their quest for Olympic gold.  There is a commercial that airs frequently during the Olympic coverage, an NFL spot that declares, "This summer, we are all one team".  Wouldn't that be a nice sentiment for the president to promote by showing support during the games?

Way back when, I thought I was reaching when I guessed that Obama would play at least 200 rounds of golf during his presidency.  Let's assume an average of 6 hours is devoted to each of the rounds he plays - and that is likely conservative considering the time he must devote to deciding where to play, who to play with, getting dressed, commuting, looking for his ball in the sand trap, etc..  305 rounds multiplied by 6 hours equals 1,830 hours.  That is 46 forty-hour work weeks.  If we were to add in all the vacations, how many years was this clown actually working, versus playing?  Don't get me wrong, I am happier when he is 'out of the office', but I am floored at the thought that he was able to do so much damage in so little actual time at work.

July 30, 2016

Thexy Time

I appreciate all that modern medicine has to offer.  Our life expectancies are some 25 to 30 years longer than those of our grandparents.  And those extra years are generally worthwhile.  Sure, there are some horrific diseases that rob us of our memories, or bodily functions, but overall, our population lives longer, and enjoys it more, and we have advances in health care to thank for much of it.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by my grandmother's nightly ritual of swathing her head in toilet paper, topped with a shower cap of sorts.  This creation somehow protected her done-once-a-week hairdo.

I was equally horrified by my grandfather's teeth in a glass on the bathroom counter each night.  (Being a one bathroom farmhouse, we all had to share and see).

As one does not ever think about how their grandparents managed to beget (in my case) eight children, I never really gave much thought to how those nightly ministrations might affect their 'alone time'.  Except now I am of an age that my friends and family are aging - not over the hill, mind you, but not spring chickens, either.

I have friends that strap CPAP contraptions to their face as they get in bed.  One has a bed alarm, to let her know if she gets up in the middle of the night, as she has had issues with her prescription sleep aid.  Some fitness freaks wear monitors to track resting pulse rates and sleep patterns.

Not to mention all the cosmetics ministrations and garb - aloe socks and gloves, facial masks and creams, waist trainers, wraps, and do-rags.

In my house, our bedtime imposition is dental night guards, a thick piece of custom molded plastic to prevent teeth grinding.  Nothing quite kills the mood like stepping into the bedroom in some wisp of fabric from Victoria's Secret, to have my husband look me up and down and tell how thexy I look.  His night guard lisp is somewhere between Sylvester the Cat and a low-octave Mike Tyson.  Neither one works for me, so I just pop my own night guard in and wish my husband thweet dreamths.

July 28, 2016

Food Chain

It is a very snakey year.  I know that isn't a word, but it works.

In the spring, Bang put on his big boy pants and killed a copperhead that was near our garage.  This, after saving our Dachshund from getting bit.  Which, incidentally, would have been the third time that a copperhead has bitten Roscoe the sausage dog in the past 3 years.  I know exactly how much that vet bill costs.
On June 10th, lightning struck the tallest tree in my yard, causing a couple hundred years of oak tree to come crashing down.  Prior commitments and weather broke the clean up into several weekends of work.  It seemed like each time we moved a large leafy branch, something came slithering out.  I killed two snakes during that time, and let a few slither off.  
There was a recent news story saying that this year's "crop" of cicadas is large, thereby providing an increased food source for both amphibians and snakes.  I think our snakes like to eat toads.  
Last week, just after dark, Boom let Roscoe outside.  The little bugger likes to move all the splash guards under our gutter downspouts, because toads live under them, and likes to lick them - maybe to get high.  I am not sure, as I am not up to speed on Dachshund recreational drug use, or if the toads in my yard are the actual type of toad that you lick to get high.
Boom saw that Roscoe was going straight for the toad habitat, so she walked out behind him, scolding him.  As she tried to get his attention, something caught her eye.  This guy:


Just about two feet away, and somewhat intently eyeing her and Roscoe - or most likely, he was after the same toad that Roscoe had seen.  
This led to some shrieking until Boom had the attention of those of us inside the house that could assist with getting the dog back inside while Boom went around to get a snake-killing hoe.
Once armed, there was a bit of hesitation, with Boom saying that she felt a little bad about killing such a pretty snake.  I sighed, and turned to find my shoes so I could take over snake-killing duties from her.  The screen door had just latched shut when I heard Boom scream, followed by half a dozen or so loud metallic whacks on the back porch concrete.  
I opened the door and looked out to find one solid copperhead had been turned into several twitching, decapitated pieces of snake, and Boom was still willing to scar the concrete with additional hoe-whacks, because "he came at me".  
Not sure what I need to concentrate on ridding my yard of - cicadas or toads - to discourage this serpent invasion.

July 18, 2016

Maybe Trump

I have spent a great deal of time lately, explaining the military to my boss.  Not battle strategy or weaponry, but how the military is just a microcosm of our society.  Military units are made up of good people, bad people, criminals, heroes, all races (and the prejudices that go with them), sexual preferences, and varying personalities, just like the world civilians live in.

I bleed red, white, and blue.  I was an Air Force brat, and an Army wife.  I love my country, and I believe that our military might is what made, and kept us, the greatest world power (until the past few years).  I will be supporting the candidate that will support our military and veterans.

Said candidate was built up in speech tonight by Marcus Luttrell.  My social media pages are erupting with (virtual) cheers of approval for his words.  From neighbor to conservative celebrities, everyone loves Marcus right now.

And here I sit thinking about what a P.O.S. he is.  My life has been blessed of late, with friendships with many veterans of specialized military units.  Some famous, some that would never dream of trading on their military service to achieve celebrity - and yet both groups share the same opinion of Mr. Luttrell.

Now, what I know about Marcus doesn't change his heroism.  There are plenty of jerks, liars, thieves, and cheaters in the military that rise up under fire.  I suspect that there are just as many everyday folks that would do heroic things, should the situation arise - they just haven't put themselves in the same situation that the average soldier/sailor/airman has.

What I think about Marcus doesn't change the fact that he gave a rousing speech.  Whether or not they were actually his words is inconsequential as well.  The occasion is meant to inspire conservative espirit de corps.  He said just what needed to be said.  I can appreciate the words but have some disdain for the speaker.

Maybe these are the attitudes I need to embrace regarding the presumptive Republican nominee.  I don't like the person, but I should be able to appreciate that he will do what needs to be done for our country, he will say the words that need to be said, he will rise up to the challenge of leading our country.

Or, we could just be screwed.

July 13, 2016

Learn the words

This past Friday, my family and I took in a Texas Ranger's baseball game.  As I was leaving work early to beat the traffic to the ballpark, several co-workers commented on the perceived danger of going to a large gathering of people the day after the shooting in Dallas.  I was just a little taken aback by the fact that there was no noticeable increase in security.  In fact, to my youngest son's delight, just after entering the stadium, he was handed a weapon plastic bat and ball as part of a giveaway promotion.  More damage was done to parents by errant bat swipes than anything else that evening.

Friday night's other promotion was a Texas A&M 'University Day'.  The Ranger's marketing office came up with this promo a few years back, partnering with various colleges to use their alumni and student networks to help sell tickets.  They hand out nice ball caps in the university colors, with a Ranger's 'T' on the front, and the school logo on the side.  It takes the brotherhood of the home team's fans one step further, and is quite enjoyable.  Except when the idiot running the music cuts off the last stanza of the Aggie War Hymn, but maybe the person that made that decision also created the graphic with the words to our National Anthem.

How far gone are we, that we have to display the lyrics to our National Anthem as it is played?  What is it that we are doing in schools, that there is no longer the time, or expectation, for children to learn the words to our anthem and pledge?  Or is it that there is no desire among those who set curriculum, to ingrain in our youth, a love of country?

During the pregame ceremonies, 150 Air Force ROTC members filed onto the infield and took their oath of enlistment.  And there they remained for the anthem, where the panning camera showed their faces and still mouths during the song.

And that school song I mentioned earlier - the Aggie War Hymn - all the people that sang their hearts out to that must have gone to the restroom en masse, as the participation and volume of the school song far outpaced that of our National Anthem.

Stand up and sing, people!

My opinion of humanity was slightly redeemed after the game.  On the walk back to our car, there wasn't a single police officer that was ignored - people expressed appreciation, shook hands with them, hugged them (though the whole 'hug-a-cop' thing is a little ill-timed - I saw a few startled faces).

While it was nice to see that side of people, I am still disappointed that we have failed our youth so thoroughly in the patriotism department.  Well, not 'we', my kids know better!