sig's blog

Walking on the moon

Interesting factoid: Walking on the Moon by The Police has a nigh-instantaneous calming effect on the tsarevich when he is crying, especially if Daddy bounces him up and down in an exaggerated "low gravity" motion while singing the lyrics in an even sillier voice than Sting did on the original recording back in the 80s.

Some might say that calming my son and heir down is not worth paying the price of listening to me sing in this manner. These people have not had the pleasure of having him shrieking in their ear from a range of 6" for durations of greater than 20 minutes.

Sig

Hiatus?

It wasn't a planned thing. I just haven't been able to muster up enthusiasm to write at the end of the day.

I have a new job down at Fort Lewis that has me traveling a little farther and, more significantly for here, keeps me without intarweb access for the duration of my work and travel day. No chance to write anything until I get home around 1500 or 1600, and my charming son and heir (not to mention my wonderful wife) claim my attention then. Computer time I do get is often, I must admit, squandered pointlessly on video games. But it's not so much time as you might think, so I don't really feel too guilty about it.

If you follow the Sig's Reader block, you know that I have been reading and marking things of interest; I just haven't been writing much myself. A lot is going on that I'm interested in, but not so much that I feel qualified to comment on, and it's easy to fall into the temptation of "well, such and such said it better than I could anyway, so my input is not really needed here." That is occasionally true. However, sometimes my rather different perspective can be of use, so I ought to throw it out there once in a while.

What sort of workplace has no intarweb access all day long, you ask? The same sort that requires you to empty out your bags on a table before you enter or exit, every single time--a process I think of as "Security Gate Show and Tell." Enough said.

My son is now three months and some change old. He smiles and laughs a fair bit. He tolerates my presence and even seems to draw some positive feeling from being held by me; occasionally I can pick him up while he is screaming and he'll calm down right away, which I suspects tends to annoy his mother. He's growing by leaps and bounds. He's still pretty even-tempered except when hungry or tired or needing to be changed--you can usually tell which of those it is. Screaming just for the sake of the sound of his own voice is a phase that is still somewhere in the future.

I recently fasted for a week with a friend of mine, who is still going strong, albeit solo. Nothing but water, some apple juice, and occasional decaf coffee (because it's just not a weekend without coffee). It was awesome, and a neat opportunity to grow closer to God and really take stock of myself--it's amazing how much time you free up when you don't eat. Definitely going to do it again, and for longer, but I had to start getting some fuel so I could train up for a PT test (which yes, I passed).

Other stuff is going on in my life, and work is interesting but very off limits, so I'm not sure what I'll write about. But I'd best think of something. There is some old stuff still sitting on the front page.

Note to self: need to review some of the books I've been reading, including two that everyone should read and know. First, Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor, and second, The Zombie Survival Guide. One will tell you an amazing story of self-sacrifice and the bonds of brotherhood in war; the other will keep your brain safely inside your skull when the dead walk the earth. I read both on the flight back from Florida.

Oh man. I have got to talk about Florida.

Sig

Five

Five years ago today, President Bush stood in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished." I remember the cautions about how we were in for a long war, but the Iraq campaign was considered done.

Five years ago yesterday, I enlisted for 8 years in the Washington State Army National Guard.

Sig

What have we done?

I think it was five beers in total. Not much when I was in college, perhaps, but I'm older now and out of practice.

We talked about the Army, and Afghanistan, and the people we brought over, brought back, and left behind. We ate some excellent steaks. We heard the stories again, and we told the stories again, and we didn't interrupt when we heard one we'd heard before, because we know that the secret is in the telling, not the hearing. We asked the questions that shouldn't be asked, and we left unvoiced the questions that others ask, because they've been asked and answered before--water under the bridge.

I saw the valleys and the mountains, and I smelled the gun smoke and I heard the zipzipzip of incoming rounds and I felt the Humvee rock on its springs as the F-18s released their concussive payloads, and I saw again the local nationals who have bet it all on our notoriously fickle public policies, and I felt the SAW hammer at my hands, the ratatatatatatatatataPING as the casings ricocheted off the roof of the truck and then off the front glacis plate. I felt the frustration of 11 time zones of separation from my beloved. I heard the haunted tones from comrades who were seeing their own visions from OEF VII.

And I wondered whether we are draining painful blisters when we reminisce about the defining moments in our lives, or whether we are merely picking half-healed scabs...

Sig

Review: Expelled

Anyone interested in the state of science in America today really ought to go see this film. Anyone who believes that science is nonpolitical REALLY ought to go see this film.

I give it 9 out of 10 DNA-seeding space aliens.

On the hidden evils of news aggregators

Should circumstances land me a sentence of community service some day in the future, I am totally going to use this argument. "Your honor, I have to protect the Internet from stupid people."

Not so secret after all

Via a mailing list I'm on, an interesting article about a book describing unit and organizational patches--not the boring official ones, but the ones that people tend to make for themselves--and what they can say (sometimes inadvertently) about their mission and resources:

The book’s title? “I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me,” published by Melville House. Mr. Paglen says the title is the Latin translation of a patch designed for the Navy Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 4, at Point Mugu, Calif. Its mission, he says, is to test strike aircraft, conventional weapons and electronic warfare equipment and to develop tactics to use the high-tech armaments in war.

“The military has patches for almost everything it does,” Mr. Paglen writes in the introduction. “Including, curiously, for programs, units and activities that are officially secret.”

Within the article is another link to a Space Review article which talks about similar things in the realm of satellites and Other Technical Means.

See also the slideshow at the NYTimes article.

Clearly, I have a lot of work to do. Our team logo doesn't have nearly enough cryptic symbolism in it.

Sig

American soldiers murdering a helpless local national

Warning--this video is not for the faint of stomach. This is SGT (now SSG) Smallville's finest hour, when he single-handedly bludgeoned an Afghan rattus to death in our temporary barracks while the other American soldiers present laughed and took pictures. In addition to the graphic carnage, there is some soldierly language.

[Video embedded in full entry.]

I'll be easy to find--just look for the crater.

They finally found SSG Maupin. A PFC when he went missing in Iraq in 2004, his remains have finally been recovered. While it was somewhat galling to be out-promoted by a dead guy (and yes, I realize how petty that sounds), I think that practice is absolutely appropriate--you do not count an American soldier dead until you find the body. And even then, approach with caution and give it a poke or two.

In From the Cold has the money quote:

In response, we'd say that you can’t put a price tag on final resolution for the families of missing military personnel. Sergeant Maupin and Major Woods went to war with the expectation that their country would do everything possible to bring them home again. We have the same obligation to all military personnel who remain unaccounted for, with no regard for the expense, or how long it takes.

Amen.

Sig

Didn't I enlist to stop doing this stuff?

In which Sig talks about work--past, present, and future.

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