• Category Archives Family
  • On the Aftermath of the Iraq War

    With the “Zero Option” exercised and the rise of ISIS, I hear a lot of veterans wondering if we wasted our time in Iraq. Did we leave our families for years at a time for nothing? Did our friends spend their limbs and their lives only to watch Iraq fall back into the hands of despotic jihadis who murder women, children, and the defenseless?

    It’s a question I too struggle with, as a citizen.

    As a soldier it was neither my job nor within my ability to turn Iraq into a nation of law and order, a strong, prosperous, and peaceful nation. That was for the diplomats and the politicians of the world.

    My job as a soldier is to kill the enemy and break their things. I did that. We all did that. We all did it very well. We did it in the streets, we did it in the desert and in the mountains. We did it from the air and on the ground. We did it in the classroom. We even did it from cubicles thousands of miles away.

    We did it with a precision that cannot be achieved by any means other than with live soldiers on the ground. That is why we exist, to be a fine tool in the hands of our political leaders.

    My fellow veterans, you cannot blame the hammer for a bent nail, splintered wood, or a house collapsing on itself.

    If the current state of Iraq is a failure it is not ours. We achieved the goals we were given with honor. We sacrificed ourselves for the missions, for the innocent, and for our brothers. We were overwhelmingly successful.

    The next time a reporter asks you if you feel that your effort in Iraq was wasted, laugh at them. Of course it wasn’t. We won every battle, hard or easy, big or small. Every enemy fighter we put down is one less to inflict murderous evil upon the world.

    As soldiers we accomplished the missions we were given.

    Instead ask the politicians if they accomplished their goals. Ask them if they feel their efforts were wasted. This may confuse them as they are not used to thinking of their efforts as all that much compared with what we soldiers put in. 

    Perhaps that is a problem.


  • PTSD and Sensational News Media

    dangerous_vet

    Or should I say Irresponsible News Media? Or even Cynically Deceptive News Media?

    They all fit.

    One weekend while I was in Afghanistan (during my second straight year of combat deployment in 2003) my wife and children attended an event put on by the Utah National Guard for soldier’s families. The Utah Guard tries hard to support families and mitigate as best they can the negative effects of their husband’s/family member’s absence in service.

    While there my wife was approached by a reporter from a local news organization. The reporter, a woman, told my wife she was grateful for my service and wanted to get the message out about what a soldier’s family goes through during a deployment. A human interest piece.

    My wife agreed and they set a time to meet at my home and record an interview.

    During the interview the reporter asked a lot of questions and the film crew recorded the entire thing. They were very ‘feely’ questions and my wife cried a couple of times. She was going through a lot that year. As you can guess, a soldier’s deployment is not easy on the family at home. She was frankly grateful that the reporter wanted to tell her story.

    Problem was the reporter DIDN’T actually want to tell my wife’s story. She had her own story to tell.

    When the piece aired my wife was shocked and horrified. The reporter had brutally cut and edited her tearful answers to innocuous questions so that they looked like answers to completely different questions. Then they’d play some footage of a soldier madly firing a machine gun and screaming. They deliberately made my wife look as though she was afraid I was going to come home and murder the children and maybe the neighbors.

    And that was the story they told. It wasn’t a human interest piece. It was a story on how soldiers in the Global War on Terror were going to come home ticking time bombs and murder someone.

    Which is why this story cuts so deep. That dishonest and sensational narrative gets endless play in the News Media and it’s a lie.

    My wife’s story goes further. Having calmed down about the dishonest and disrespectful way she had been treated by that reporter she made a phone call. She called the reporter and told her how much she had liked the story. She gushed about it. Then she asked the reporter if she could pretty please have a copy of the full original interview footage for our family archives.

    The reporter told her she’d need a subpoena to get that footage and hung up on her. The reporter knew exactly what she had done and had clearly done it on purpose, with malice aforethought.

    You can see why I am refraining from naming the reporter or the news organization. A woman and an organization that cynical would have no qualms about breaking my little family in half for speaking the truth about them on this subject. I realize that it’s unlikely they’d care enough to target us but I remain cautious.

    So, go out and hug a veteran today, or something. They won’t bite. Probably. 😉


  • We don’t need no stinking mattresses!

    Complaints.comOn Thursday before my last drill weekend my wife started looking for a couple of twin mattresses and box springs for my two boys. We’re changing their sleeping arrangements. She found two for sale on KSL.com. A deal was struck. She and her mother showed up at the seller’s house with her dad’s pickup truck.

    The seller rolled up his garage door to reveal a plethora of mattresses in heaps and rows filling his garage. There were the two twins on the front row.

    But, lo and behold, a Certa  King mattress presided over one corner of the stack.

    “How much for that one?” my wife asked.

    Because it had fallen on the ground at some point it was slightly smudged. For this reason, the seller said he would let it go for $95. An excellent price.

    “I’d like to buy that one too,” says wife.

    “Excellent,” says the seller.

    “I only have the $100 dollars for the two twins but I can get you the other $95 later today.”

    “Excellent,” again. Money was offered and received.

    The two twins and the King, sadly, would not all fit in the pickup my wife and her mother had brought.

    “Not to worry,” says the seller. “I will deliver all three tomorrow and you can give me the $95 for the king then.”

    “Wonderful,” says my wife. “Thank you so much.”

    “No problem,” says the seller.

    The next day, Friday, comes and goes with many phone calls between wife and seller but no delivery.  Wife starts to get a little nervous because she has paid $100 but has no mattresses.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1109


  • Teachers Unite!

    Or not. Do what you think is best. It’s a free country after all.

    CreatingLiteracy-RichShoolsforAdolescentsJust read a very interesting rant by one Gayle Forman.  I have opinions on the same subject, Public Education in the United States, but I don’t pretend to be particularly well-informed.

    My children are currently being homeschooled by my wife, which situation I am very happy with. They have attended public schools and charter schools in the past. So we are familiar with at least a narrow cross-section of education in our very tiny portion of the world. We chose home school for a variety of reasons.

    I myself am a product of public education, as is my wife. I too had some good teachers and some bad. I would go so far as to say very bad and very good. It’s a mixed bag out there, which Ms. Forman is careful to point out.

    One of the points that Ms. Forman makes so entertainingly is that standardized testing is bad and that No Child Left Behind is awful. Standardized testing stifles creative teachers by forcing them to ‘teach to the test,’ she says.  And frankly, I agree that teaching to a test is a bad idea. Mostly because it’s cheating if you’re teaching children to pass a test rather than master the skills that are tested therein. Such a teacher is lazily missing the point of their profession.

    Ms. Forman cites a wonderful example of teachers who threw such practices into the trash and instead used their creativity and ingenuity to try and teach the actual skills their students needed in innovative and interesting ways. They even wrote a book about it: Creating Literacy-Rich Schools for Adolescents.

    Of course, saying that such methods work better than whatever the other teachers are doing is one thing, proving it is quite another. Ms. Forman rose to the task, however, when she crowed about the success of this program.

    She proved it by citing standardized test scores which rose in response to the innovative teacher’s methods.

    Now why would she do that after castigating standardized testing as harshly as she does? I think it’s because she arrived at the same conclusion the politicians did. If you want to know how well education is being accomplished you must test the recipients. And those tests must be comparable from student to student, so they must be standardized. How else would one do it?

    She actually, perhaps inadvertently, illustrates an argument against her position that, generally, teachers are not at fault for the sad state of our public education. As her example so clearly illustrates, teachers with drive passion and creativity can produce students who blow those heinous standardized tests out of the water.

    So why don’t they then?

     

     


  • Nope, I’m Not Sad He’s Dead

    Things like this interest me.

    CelebratingOsama'sDeath-LOLObviously the author is comparing this crowd, cheering outside the Whitehouse after the announcement of OBL’s death, to the crowds of middle-easterners cheering in the street after 9/11.

    And yes, one crowd of people celebrating looks very much like another.  But there the similarity ends. Crowds of middle-easterners behaving thus over the death of 3000 innocent civilians is not, in fact, “like” this crowd celebrating the death of a mass-murdering sociopath who killed 3000 of their fellow-citizens.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1109


  • Christmas

    Jesus and Santa tiedHad a good Christmas, I did.

    Among other things, got a stationary bike on which to flay my cardiovascular system as well as a very nice weight bench for pushing and pulling various masses.

    Gave Kris an iPod shuffle, which she had been coveting ever since we ordered one each for the boys.

    The children made out quite well too.

    Spent a lot of time with exended family both before during and after the day itself. More of that to come this weekend.

    Pulled a joke on the wife by putting a crappy $1 dollar kitchen knife of the kind she had been pining for in her stocking. She was very gracious and did not complain at the quality but merely decided, internally, to go out and buy her own self a bloody good knife at the next opportunity. She later almost used the implements in question when she unwrapped the high-quality version of same that I had gifted her under the tree and realized what I had done.

    She in turn, gave me a “gift from the heart” in the form of a bit of sappy doggerel verse in a very nicely wrapped box. I pretended to be touched though I know at one point as I read through it I had that ‘glazed’ look. Nevertheless I tried my best to spare her feelings. Later I learned she had done it on purpose and the poem was a thinly disguised list of clues as to what the real present was, the stationary bike aforementioned. It’s a quality stationary bike. I’m very pleased. Though I am, perhaps, more pleased that my wife did not produce that horrible poem in earnest.

    Our second youngest daughter had the last laugh when my wife opened her final present and discovered that it was an old cutting board she’d been missing for a week or two. The daughter responsible dissolved in giggles. Well done, my offspring.