14 December 2006

Like having my teeth pulled

...with a Gerber.

Anyway, we're headed north tomorrow, so Sparky helped me try to do some wrapping tonight.

I'm not totally paranoid, but while I don't work too hard to keep my identity SUPER SECRET, I would rather not be excessively identifiable to strangers on the internet. There ARE weirdos out there. Plus, what with my occasional calls for extreme violence in various directions, I'd like to avoid any fatwas.

What you DON'T see in this picture is Mr. Abby doing the lion's share of the wrapping on the other side of the rug. He's better at it than I am.

13 December 2006

Notes to Iraq Study Group

Well, this little group came out with a very nice list of recommendations the other day. I read over the report online. Nice summary of how things are going over there. Beyond that, well...

There are just a couple of things I'd point out. Maybe any interested parties could print these out and occasionally refer to them while reading the ISG report.

1 - Iran is not a partner for peace. Iran kills US soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. If they could kill Coast Guardsmen, they would. It doesn't seem to violate any classification to say that we KNOW that Iran is responsible for a particularly nasty variety of weapon that was developed STRICTLY to kill American servicemembers. And it does. It has. SGTs Reali and Willey. Among many many others. We do not "partner" with countries that take an active, cheery interest in killing our soldiers.

2 - Syria = Hezbollah. They are not "partners for peace" either.

3 - In no way, shape or form does this group have any right to insist Israel comprimise its security to help us weasel out of Iraq.

Check it out - if this group's definition of success involves pleasing Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, as well as requiring the only reasonably civilized nation in the region to roll over and expose its belly, is theirs a definition of "victory" we really want?

(hint - if answering the above requires any thought at all, you should immediately jab a fork into your hand. Repeat until you're thinking more clearly)

12 December 2006

Christmas Gifts

We've established already that I love Christmas. I hate the stupid song, but love the holiday.

But we like to focus on things I hate here, so let's do that. I hate Christmas gifts. I hate Christmas gift shopping. Now, I'm sure this is because I'm not very good at it. I have family members who spend all year picking up the most wonderful things. I, on the other hand, have no idea what anybody ever really wants unless they tell me.

It's not bad with some folks. I get the list, select an item or two, then purchase. But it still gets bad.

See, even if I manage to FIND a gift that seems like something someone will want/use, I then have to WRAP it. Does anybody remember my post on trying to make a shipping box? Yeah - gift wrapping is a similar total meltdown. I did a couple of easy ones today. Of course, I spent half the time trying to chase the dogs off the wrapping paper, a quarter of the time unwrapping the tape tangled around my fingers, and the remaining fourth trying to remember where I set the scissors. Then I spent five minutes picking G. Shep hair off the packages.

And these were the nice, normal boxes. I have one object that I can tell is going to reduce me to whimpering on the floor and swigging gin.

THEN it got worse. Because my entire family is certifiably nuts, we do tend to do Dog Gifts.

I told you Santa Claws has something stashed away already for the Sparkster, but I had a bag from PetSmart that came in with a couple of others. Stupid me, I set the bags DOWN on the couch while I did a couple of just-walked-in things. Only to turn around to see BOTH of the Bad Dogs expressing ACUTE interest in it.

Which led to more yelling and cursing. Because Bad Dogs do not UNDERSTAND the concept of delayed gratification, or holidays.

So although I'm wildly looking forward to this Christmas, I can't wait to be done with the gifts. I like giving them, and I like getting stuff (who doesn't), but the logistics make me crazy.

So if you'll excuse me, I have to go try to wrap a squeaker toy. Silently.

11 December 2006

Water Heater

OK. I sensed a little disbelief on my earlier rant. So here it is. I did some cropping to minimize the total number of coffee drips visible. Yes - it's UNDER MY COUNTER.

Didn't know they made these, did you?


There are no words for my rage. And I can swear with the best of 'em.

Have I told you about my water heater? My....(wow - I think I could run together a string of four-letter words to serve as an adjective, but it would be a LONG string)...miniature water heater???

My water heater that makes it PHYSICALLY FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE to wash my body AND shave my legs? Oh, who the hell am I kidding. I can't wash and condition my hair unless I want to skip soaping my torso and washing my face. I got my hair washed, armpits shaved and started reaching for the body wash today when - ZAP! - COLD WATER!!!

That just ain't right.

Oh, stop. Spare me. I don't give a rat's ass if YOU don't mind cold showers. And I do not give a SHIT if people all over the world lack indoor plumbing. I just don't care. I am an American. I am an adult. I file respectable tax returns. There is NO REASON for me to have a shitful, three-gallon water heater.

You might not understand how this impacts one's life. But think about it. EVERY SINGLE DAY I run out of even lukewarm water before I can complete my shower routine. Now, true, in a perfect world, I DO like a nice, long, hot shower. But these days I can't get FIVE DAMN MINUTES.

So this means that EVERY SINGLE DAY I have a bad experience that pisses me off. I haven't shaved my legs in like four days. I won't until I can
A) schedule an additional shower where I otherwise require no washing
B) shower somewhere else

That would be the gym. And how ridiculous is it that I have to plan to shower at the gym if I want to wash my hair and shave my legs?

And yes - I blame Mr. Abby for this. We wouldn't be in Tampa, in this weird-ass financial position, in this evil stupid ratbastard CRACKHOUSE if it weren't for him. I TRY not to hold it against him, but I pointed out that I fully intend to have this situation rectified this summer. If he can't get orders and get us somewhere acceptable where we can improve on the housing situation, well, I'll move into a goddam state campground somewhere. At least they have HOT WATER.

AAAAGH!!!!!!! So. Damn. Angry.

OK - now that I've vented about that, I have things to do. I think I'll kick Sparky, just to vent that last little bit of "irate."

10 December 2006

Shooting out the speakers

I've mentioned before that I've spent some Christmases far away from home. All of them were at the hands of the military. And all but one of them (the first one, Parris Island, '96) was made even worse by AAFES (that is, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service).

I was 19 and stationed on Okinawa the first time I encountered this horror. I was living on Camp Hansen on the empty northern part of the island. One day I wandered into the exchange about a month or so before Christmas. I was feeling okay about the whole thing. Away from home, yeah, but I was in Christmas denial - I wasn't there, so it wasn't happening.

Then, from above, as I wandered the aisles of knives, cigarettes and black Tshirts, I heard it...
I'll be home for Christmas,
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree.
Christmas Eve will find me,
Where the love light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas,
If only in my dreams.
Christmas Eve will find me,
Where the love light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas,
If only in my dreams.

Oh Jesus. I'd been doing well up to THAT point. Now I was choking back a lump in my throat, and glancing around, I noticed a zillion other young Marines doing the same thing.

I had the same experience the next year, when I was in the same place trying to get orders off the island. That year, I'd hoped to make it home for Christmas, but it didn't happen. And Bing Crosby made every trip to the exchange an excruciating reminder of what I was missing.

After that, I hated the song. Even if I WAS headed home, it reminded me of all the times I wasn't, and of all the folks who, for one reason or another, weren't where they wanted to be either.

And it went over the top last year. December was a month of death and horror and fear where I was. Things were bad and getting worse, we'd gotten hammered on Thanksgiving and the roads were blowing up regularly. It seemed as though we were sending soldiers from our manuever unit home in bags every day.

On Christmas Eve, we ran a road that was getting to be a nightmare in order to pick up some of our soldiers and take them on a shopping trip to Camp Liberty. Christmas was going to suck, but we figured we'd do a run to the nice PX so everybody could buy Spam and a new CD or something. Eat a real meal with non-stale bread. Have fruit. And ice cream.

We picked up our team, braved the same Hell Road going out, then shot up to Liberty. We pulled down the guns, shucked our armor and helmets and wandered into the Big PX. It was nice. This was the most relaxed we got during our year there. Wandering the aisles, grabbing a box of CheezIt, and some cans of root beer, I heard it again.
I'll be home for Christmas,
You can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree.
Christmas Eve will find me,
Where the love light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas,
If only in my dreams.

I could've spit. No - I wouldn't be home for Christmas. Not even close. As it turned out, I'd have a crummy Christmas in the extreme, but I definitely was NOT going to be home, and I did NOT need Bing reminding me about that. Armed to the teeth, I was tempted to pop off a couple of rounds at the speaker. Or whoever had decided to play Bing Crosby.


Anyway, I switch radio stations when that one comes on. Talking to Mom today, I discovered that she refers to last year as the year she'd stalk out of a store if they played it.

Come on - that song doesn't make ANYONE happy. It sucks and it makes people sad. It makes even HAPPY people sad. It should be purged from music libraries, banned from radio stations, and Bing Crosby should be dug up and beaten.