07 June 2007

Cars and happiness

Alright, gang. Everybody needs to head over to Jim's place and give him props for buying a Jeep. Or, if you're like me and afraid of MySpace, leave him a comment here and give him props.

Jeeps rock. Jim notices that men compliment the platform and women compliment the color, but...Jim, everybody is complimenting something.

The vehicles we drive seem to say something about us. Before the Jeep, I drove a '97 S10. Which was fabulous and practical and served me very well. But...every time I saddle up El Jeepo, I smile. I can't help it. I love my Jeep.

I picked it up before I actually got demobilized. I drove it up to Fort Bragg and my fellow soldiers said, "[Abby], that's the perfect ride for you."

Driving a Jeep says, "I don't care that I get shitty mileage. I don't care that this thing rides like a '74 Dodge pickup. I don't care that I can't hear anything when I'm on the freeway."

They're just fun.

Also, other people dig 'em. I've told Mr. Abby this, so I'll share it with y'all. I occasionally will fall into a converation with a guy. Usually, they're pretty average guys. I'm a pretty average woman, that's how it works. But...the Jeep...

I was in the Keys, and had just put real clothes on over a bathing suit. I took the picture I posted a while back of El Jeepo serving as a towel rack. I was suddenly approached by a guy who was probably a couple years younger than I am. He was a little hottie. And with him, he had a no-shit beer-commercial smokin'-hot girlfriend.

"Hey," he said. "That's a nice Jeep."

"Thanks. I like it."

"I've been thinking about getting one..."

I smiled and nodded and finished the conversation, all the while thinking, dude - stop talking to me. Your chick is getting pissed. I'm an old married lady, and she's going home with you. Focus!

But such is the power of the Wrangler. I don't know if Jim's a single man or not, but he's in for a good time either way.

Back home

Mr. Abby successfully retrieved the Bad Dogs from Uncle Buddy's. Apparently, Jack was so overjoyed to see him that he pissed on Mr. Abby's foot. That's love. Or something.

Then the kids arrived, so there's a tiny and very full house in Tampa.

This is the part where I should go on about how much I miss my Pack and wish I was there, but honestly - five people and three dogs in a house the size of your average garage? Umm...really, I'm entirely cool with being the one-woman Advance Party.

I do look forward to their arrival once we've got the house thing under control - the move-in should qualify as an Adventure, and in the end there's room enough for everyone to escape each other when it's required. Which it occasionally is.

I feel for the kids. We bought a nice house in Minnesota on a dead-end road with a platoon of neighbor kids in their age group. Being a good area, all the neighborhood adults were entirely OK with all the children running wild together all summer, as long as someone over five feet tall saw them every few hours. Which is as it should be. They got one summer there.

Then we moved to Tampa, and the Crackhouse, and in addition to the dramatic reduction in space, there were also no apparent children (that is, who weren't dealing crack) and the area was just creepy enough that more than 30 minutes without laying eyes on them was cause for concern.

I think we've improved on that this time. It's still not acreage with a barn and pond, but it'll do, I think.

06 June 2007

Fabulous political ad

No shit. I'm not kidding.

Of course, it's an issue ad - no candidates for anything involved.

I just caught this on the Glenn Beck show. An organization called Grassfire.org is running a spot called "Where's the fence?" that features old ladies and illegal immigrants. And it's funny.

Obviously a ripoff from the old "Where's the beef?" ads, but hey - I don't care. I'm all about the humor. Beats the Hell out of that awful scary music they always lay over the my-opponent-is-Satan-incarnate candidate ads.


I sat down last night at the rickety table in Ye Olde Cheap-Ass Lodge to wander the internet before hitting the rack. Brought the laptop to life...fired up the internet...wtf???

Friendly cheap-ass hotel log-in page, it announced. Please log in.

Crumbs of profanity flaking from my lips, I gave up the info.

Not recongnized, it sighed. No internet for you.

Of course, one of the things that enables this place to be cheap-as-hell is the staffing. There's someone at the front desk roughly from 1400 until 1830. Maybe. I hurried back today and confronted the little dude behind the desk.

"Yeah. I'm in room 527. And I have no internet."

"Yes, the internet it is only being for a week." He blinked rapidly and smiled.

"OK. Didn't you just automatically renew me for another week?"

"Yes, but the internet is being only one week at a time."

"OK." I took a deep breath. "Write this down. No, really. Go ahead. Every time you renew this room, until I check out, you will renew the internet. With the same password. Got it?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am!"

Why, why, why must it always be difficult? Can't the UN make itself useful for once and launch some satellites to provide the entire goddam planet with wireless internet access? They don't seem to be able to do anything else, but that would make everyone happy and provide plenty of opportunities for nepotism and graft, which I think would put it very nicely within their capabilities.

What I've been reading

I've been toting around Gen. Rupert Smith's The Utility of Force the past week or so, and I'm getting pretty close to finishing it.

It's been a wonderful read, and I recommend it to any military policy geeks I've got out there.

Writing a book in 2005 dealing with "non-conventional" warfare and future conflict does enable an author to seem especially prescient - let's understand that. But Smith frames the current situations in Iraq and Afghanistan interestingly.

Sometimes a change of terminology can cause you to look at things differently. In considering recent non-industrial warfare, he refers to "confrontation" and "conflict" as two different beasts which may actually occur at different levels.

Viewing our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (and, in fact, Iraq in 1991 and bombing Libya and showing a presence in Beiruit) as tactical or theater-level conflicts within a larger confrontation is interesting. It leads me to think of goals - what are the goals of these conflicts, and how do they support the desired outcome of the larger confrontation? How does failure to meet a goal (that is, failure to achieve success in a conflict) impact the liklihood of meeting our larger goal?

And, by the way, what is our larger goal? Even if we take the fifty-years-from-today long view, what does "victory" in the War on Terror (or the conflict with militant Islam, if you prefer) look like? A middle-east populated made up soley of respresentative governments? A middle-east with no Muslims and lots of recent converts to Lutheranism? A middle-east full of angry despots who are content to leave us the Hell alone?

I dunno. Interesting to think about. Hard to achieve goals that haven't been defined, and even harder to applaud them when they support an overall mission that's never been clearly articulated.

Anyway, I'm disgressing too far from the book report. I'm rapidly closing in on the part where General (Sir) R. Smith (Ret) will pose his solutions to our modern confusion about the wars we fight. That may be interesting, but the framing has been fantastic, and I recommend the book. I've been turning down clever pages as I've gone along, so perhaps I'll share some tidbits later to further tease you into laying out some cash for it.

05 June 2007


A big thank-you to the Squeaky Wheel (Seeking Grease) for calling me a "Thinking Blogger." I stuck that little picture over on the sidebar, 'cause I think it's cool. No shit - thanks.

I shall endeavor to strive to think pass that along.

I appreciate y'all bearing with me during this cross-country stagger that I refer to as "The Move." I keep promising a return to "regular" blogging, but I don't know that there's ever been much "regular" here. I'll keep working to get back on track and at least diversify beyond the day-to-day. Then again, half the fun of reading blogs is giggling at other people stumbling through things you have also lived through, so I don't think there's an absolute zero value here these days.

Tuesday morning

I dropped Mr. Abby at the airport so he could catch his 0700 flight back to Tampa, then returned to Ye Olde Weekly Motel and ran a couple of miles. I'm working 1000-1830 today, since I'm orienting in the warehouse these couple of days. Another two hours of coffee drinkin' for Abby!

I assume I'll be back at 0900-1730 tomorrow and thereafter.

And I have nothing to do but kill time and try not to spend too much money between now and the beginning of July. Oh, there'll be a couple of calls to the Realtor, and I have to keep yelling at the appliance people, since every irate phone call somehow makes it possible to deliver said appliances one day earlier.

There are a couple of beers in the freezer and if I hurry home this evening I should catch most of the Republicans screeching at each other in New Hampshire.

Let the good times roll, hey?

04 June 2007

"You hired an idiot."

That's what I felt like saying to the New Employer today. See, Monday is the day when we review our time sheets. See, this is one of those jobs where you "clock" in and out. And in and out for lunch. And in twice for breaks. Or something.

Which I totally goatfucked. Fortunately, there seems to be some slight sense of humor, and mostly I was roundly laughed at as I pointed at the sheet and tried to make sense of it.

"See, that's where I wasn't sure if I clocked in right or not, so I did it eight times."

The last time there was a time clock in my life, it was one that actually "thumped" the card, and it was in a barn.

However, I am trainable, and the lady who was fixing my sheet looked like she wanted to give me a lollipop when I pointed at Friday and said, "but see - by the end of the week I figured it out!"

AARP and its vile new ads

I'm going to walk out on a limb here. Y'all seen these new AARP commercials?

The theme, apparently, is "I'm too young to vote..." but, we're told, if these children could toddle down to the ballot box, they'd support fabulous health care for older folks, not altering the Social Security system, and offering free liquor and nude dancers to people over 55.

"I'd vote for the candidate who'd support Social Security!"

That seems...sneaky. I think most of us know how this is really taking shape, right? The biggest voting bloc in the nation is beginning to retire now, and there aren't enough of us "younger workers" to support these "Boomers" through their golden years in the style to which they've come to expect.

I sympathize. They paid into Social Security for years to support the Greatest Generation and those who preceded it. And they supported Medicare for years when people didn't live anywhere nearly as long, and before every single American over 60 took $47,000 worth of prescription drugs every month.

But those in my age bracket - we'll call it 20-40 - well, some of us have done the math. If we can somehow manage to sustain the Social Security system for the Baby Boomers, there won't be pocket lint left when we get to 65, or 70, or 75, or whatever age they've raised the bar to by the time we retire (and trust me, "supporting Social Security" as it stand is going to be a lot lower priority once the members of this giant voting bloc all feel they can safely be grandfathered).

I've resigned myself to planning for my own retirement. I'm trying to do the right things, although I'm sure I'm not doing them at the right level. I keep an eye on the "pension issue" as I wander along my weird little career progression path.

These ads just chap my ass because they're so simpering and dishonest. C'mon, AARP, if the 9-15 age group actually knew what was going on, they'd probably say, "hey! Grandpa! Can't you keep your greedy, golfing, sailing, nicely tanned hands off the Social Security cookie jar for a few more years?"

Some age group is going to take it up the ass with the pending Social Security meltdown. We can probably guess where that's gonna fall, and sometimes things just work out badly. But these ads - they're just wrong.

03 June 2007

Thoughts provoked

I'm watching the Democratic candidates debating. There was significant discussion of whether or not Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were wrong in waiting until the last minute to vote AGAINST the recent re-vamped military spending bill.

Then I watched Bill Richardson do the world's most awkward tapdance around a question likening the Darfur genocide to what we could see in Iraq if we pulled out precipitously.

And now I'm watching the candidates talk about Iran and how they'd handle a nuclear weapon there.

It got me thinking about seriousness.

I tend to think most of these candidates are, in reality, serious people. The problem is, a significant portion of the Democratic "base," to which they must appeal in order to win their party's nomination, are not serious people.

I don't really think any of these candidates would yank us out of Iraq if elected (and let me point out that when I say "candidates," I'm not talking about the nutjobs. I'm talking about the real possibilities). They might run things differently, they might distribute forces differently, but I don't think they'd pull us out and let everything go to Hell.

But - and this is the awkward part - they have to pretend they will. I think that's a lot of what we saw with that war funding bill. It was always going to pass. It was always going to pass without timelines.

A couple of total whackjobs aside, most of our national leadership realizes we are in a situation we can't run away from in Iraq. However - since there really are powerful forces in the Democratic base that believe we can bring all our folks back from Iraq and that country will immediately have a collective Coke-and-a-smile, Democratic politicians have to make meaningless gestures - voting against a funding bill after they've run the numbers and know it's a lost cause.

"See! I voted against the bill (even though I knew it was going to pass but I figure it'll fool you idiots with your paper mache puppets)!"

Would a Democratic presidency mean a foreign policy based on capitualation and feel-good dreams, or does the Oval Office force a certain gravity on the decisions an individual makes?

I tend to think it's the later. But maybe I'm just being hopeful.

Bill Richardson might actually try to hand Iraq over to the UN. Bad idea. John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden would keep working the issue, I think. I can't quite get a read on Barack Obama, but we're not going to elect him, so it doesn't matter.

I wish the primary process worked differently, so we could hear more discussion of how these candidates would actually handle problems, rather than simply wasting months listening to them pander to the ANSWER crowd.

I love the internet

Because on the internet, you can find whatever you want.

You can buy a complete tiki bar.

Or instructions on how to build one.

Or just extra tiki bar materials.

And that's just one website. How did we ever survive without all this information?

I don't think we're going to be buying the complete assembled $8,000 tiki bar and paying to have it shipped in from Pennsylvania, but I think it's going to be entirely possible to put one together.

What fun. I probably should be worrying about a dining room table, but what fun would that be?