Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beware of Code Camo

Got an e-mail from Major A in the Sandbox. He arrived at his location safely. I'm praying that it stays that way for him.

He was at one of the locations visited by Senator Obama. Apparently, only military members who were critical to the "CP" or command post were allowed to stay to watch the visit, everyone else was asked to leave.

Well that really stinks. What were they afraid of? Code Camo making a protest during a key photo op? (my thoughts).

Now, I understand when you are visiting in your "role" as state senator, you will probably just meet with military members who are your constituents. But Obama isn't just a state senator and clearly, some military people were miffed enough not to get the chance to meet him that they e-mailed family and friends, as reported in the New York Daily.

Back to Obama not being just a state senator, he's candidate for president. Yes, the President is the most powerful person in the world. I always thought of the US President as the "Man of hte People" because in our country, the President can be anybody. Obama really sparks that dream of "Anyone born in this country could be President". As the potential "Man of the People" he should be shaking hands with as many people as he can or he should have stopped and acknowledge folks as he was being rushed to the next venue.

Obama was going to visit wounded soldiers in Germany but declined, saying it was out of respect to the wounded and their families. Maybe he just didn't feel comfortable. Its a bit heart wrenching to see someone in the early stages of treatment for wounds sustained in an IED attack. I can tell you I have to swallow back the lump in my throat when wounded warriors visit the museum. But, I gotta tell you, if you need motivation, these men are the best! They are so positive about the physical therapy and their progress. Oh, I'm sure they have their days where they are just so darn frustrated. However, it is amazing what they are capable of inspite of their injuries. I think Obama missed out on a real blessing by passing up meeting these men and their families at the hospital in Germany.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Note on Generation Kill


The information below is provided to you as an official Marine Corps response regarding this series. We ask that you distribute this comment to your constituents as you deem appropriate.

From: Acting Director, Division of Public Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps

The recent airing of the first episode of HBO's "Generation Kill" has generated numerous inquiries regarding Marine Corps support of the series. The Marine Corps did not provide any official support to the filmmakers. The series is based on the book by the same title by Evan Wright, a former Rolling Stone magazine reporter who was embedded with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While there are certainly aspects of the film that are accurate, it is at its heart a commercial production. It's raw and has elements that are very much out of synch with the core values our nation rightly expects of its Marines. Viewed as a whole, in my estimation, it does not accurately portray the honor and professionalism of our Corps of Marines.

Semper Fidelis, Major David Romley Director, Community Relations Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps 3000 Pentagon Rm 4A532 Washington, DC 20350-3000 Bus: (703) 614-4308 / 1034 Fax: (703) 697-3281

That all said, I have also read reviews from the Marines portrayed in this series and they liked it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

General Mattis to Speak at Museum


If you are in the Washington, DC area August 6 and would like to meet General Mattis, listen to him speak and get a chance to ask him a question, this is the event for you.

It is a bit more expensive than past events.  When I called to make my reservation, I called right after I got the flyer, they reminded me that this event was $80 and not the $40 that past events have been.  I guess they are trying to gear this toward large donors, folks with deep pockets.  Mattis, I would think, would be a great draw.  Heck, he lead the first push into Fallujah, just wrapped up presiding over the Haditha trials, and now he'll be leading the JFC.  He is also the General who uttered the famous quote, "If the Marines had wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one." His most recent famous quotes include the "No better friend, no worse enemy" and I think he told tribal leaders in Anbar if they F***ed with him and his Marines, he'd kill them all.

They didn't list a speaking topic, so I have no clue what he'll be speaking about.

He should be an interesting speaker, no matter what topic he speaks on.

I wonder if I'd have the guts to ask him a question.  Heck, I'm hoping I can make it.  I'll have to leave early from work to attend.  I have a training class that day and it went to 4 p.m. and that would be cutting it really short - - but at least I am the instructor, so I can control how long I talk about certain things.

Regarding work. 

I have to sadly report to you that I had a break down at work yesterday.  Two in fact.  I had spent all weekend at work trying to get my tests completed.  In 16 hours I had completed 8 tests and had only 3 more to go.  Monday morning, the reviewer told me I had to do them all over again because I didn't get all of the screen shots the certifiers needed to see.  I had to go down to the locker room and sit in a shower stall and cry.  I cried for an hour.  Then I came back up to work.  I felt like the life had just been sucked out of me.

Around 7 p.m. I had reached my breaking point both physically and mentally.  I couldn't enter another thing but I had to get a bunch of stuff in before they backed up my testing region.  I fat fingered something, it caused the transaction to blow-up, in effect and I had to start the set all over again.  I yelled so loud at my computer that several co-workers ran over asking if I was o.k. and I REALLY yelled, "NO!"  Which i think scared everyone because I'm pretty easy going.  I apologized and then started to cry.

I did finish what I needed to finish then went home to do - - laundry.  I have no life. And that is all I have to say about that.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

At the "Range" Working On Improvement

The following are my results on the laser rifle range at the Museum. The equipment they use is the same equipment that the US military uses for laser rifle training. The simulated distance is 200 yards, standing, non supported. The only things you don't get are recoil, the sound or spent casings. The fact you don't get a recoil is probably a GREAT thing for me as I'd be on my rear end.

Why use laser rifles? Saves money on ammunition.

One of the retired Marines working the range, noticed I was leaning backward instead of forward. If these were the real thing, my first shot would have sent me backward on my bum. So I adjusted and leaned forward on the second set.

So, this was my first attempt. I was on the range with a father his 9-year old son. When I turned around to look at the computer, I thought my target was the one the 9 year old shot. Then the range operator handed me this one. Way better than what the 9 year old did!


I'm competative, o.k.

The kid shot a 50 something and was really happy with the results. He proudly showed me and I did the good adult thing and said, "Great job you did awesome!" while secretly thinking 'I did better than you. You got beat by a girl.'

I did mention above that I am very competative.

Target 5_24_1st

The above attempt the Range operator noticed I was leaning backward as I shot. I don't shoot rifles often so I have no clue what I'm doing. But that was my first attempt. I think I did o.k. If I had shot the real thing, I would have hit the bad guy on my first shot. That is all that matters, right?

Below is the result of adjusting, leaning forward. Oh, if you get a score of 85% or higher, take your printout up to the Mess Hall for a free soda.

Target 5_24_2nd

The next weekend, I tried again. Here is my first set. A little better than the previous week.

Target 6_1_08_1st

Then the second set. Better yet.

Target 6_1_08

Being the competative person that I am, I'd like to keep trying it out and get better. Funny, my fourth shot was my best on all four sets.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Home at the Museum


This will be the new Docent and Marine office while they work on the Phase 1 A build. Its going to be starting soon. They wired the trailer with electricity last week. That means things are going to be moved out of the Global War on Terrorism and Combat Art Galleries in the next month. Construction is to begin in August sometime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Final Conversation Before Deployment

The day arrived for my last conversation with Major A before he deployed. (BTW, I've decided to no longer use his name, its Major A from now on). It was an annoying week of playing phone tag. I wondered if I just wasn't meant to talk to him again. Maybe not talking to him again would be for the better. I mean, we haven't been dating since mid March. The last time we talked was Memorial Day and I had trouble fighting back tears. The whole showing off my 10-year anniversary pearl necklace from CACI turned to how my life is not how I expected it to be. I was probably more vulnerable with him that day than I had ever been while we were dating. Heck, its not like sharing my fears of never marrying, being lonely, never having children was going to scare him off. He was already 'Off". It didn't matter anymore.

Don't worry, Ranger's Girl was not a blubbering idiot. I haven't been that idiot since 2002 and looking back on it, the guy wasn't worth the snotty Kleenex.

Our game of phone tag worried me, did he NOT want to talk to me again? Was he afraid I'd get all emotional? I was a little disappointed that I didn't rate and "in person" last conversation, but that was probably for the best also.

I had called it on Memorial Day as I hugged him good-bye, "Well, this is probably the last time we'll see each other."

"Don't say that," he replied.

"That's depressing, think positive."

I'm done with thinking positive, I'm thinking realistic. I'm tired of dating someone for a whole year, really enjoying the company and conversations and getting to know one another and always have it end the same. And my experience with dating men in the military over the past 10 years (hey, um, civilians, you can ask me out too, I'm a very nice person) is that, besides them breaking up with me before they head off to the next duty station, is that all the "Let's get together one more time" forgotten amongst the month of terminal leave where they are globe trotting all over the US to visit friends and family; movers and packers, getting shots updated, attending briefings, and the final visits of all the other friends in the area. In the pecking order, I have always been at the bottom. I guess that is where I should go. I mean, all I have ever been is the "Girl for right now", not the "Right Girl". Granted, they always want to keep in touch with me - - apparently I fill some 'intelligent conversation' void.

The last conversation was about his next assignment and deployment to the Sandbox. He's going for a whole year, a bit different than most Marine Corps deployments. He commented that he noticed a lot of CACI contractors that work for his organization. Within 10 days of signing in from leave he was on a jet plane.

We talked about the current events that have been going on in his area of operation (AO), his vacation, my job, gas prices, selling his SUV, thoughts of what to buy when he returns to the states next year. He said he'd send me photos from his vacation in Montana - - "It was beautiful!"

We talked about run of the mill stuff, like old friends. Old friends. I think that is what I really liked about him, conversations just flowed and that is what I liked about him the most. And he was cute demonstrating his turkey calling ability. You have to be comfortable around someone to practice turkey calls. He said he'd like to keep in touch via e-mail and that he'd call me when he gets back to the states.

I promised to be a prayer warrior for him. My friends in Bible study were a little concerned because - - and there is a famous quote along these lines - - the quickest way to love someone is to pray for them. They don't want my heart to be committed - - so they prayed that I would be able to keep "romantic" feelings out of praying. I jotted down some military themed prayers and put them on a book mark in my day planner - - so that I will pray the prayers when I see them during the day. I'm not only praying for him but all the men with him and around him. I'm also praying for the terrorists, that God will thwart their plans and change their hearts.

So, that is that.

Ranger's girl is moving on - - as soon as I implement this darn software!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Men -Vs- Women: Celebrating an Engagement


We celebrated the birthday and engagement of one of the gals in my Bible study group this past week. A couple of us had read about her 'status change' on Facebook prior to meeting for dinner. So, when we were doing the "Happy Birthday!" we were also saying "Congratulations!" The other gals who weren't in on the Facebook info asked what the "Congratulations" were for.

Kristen flashed her rock.

Screams of excitement emanated from our corner of the restaurant and then the inquisition began. We wanted all the details. After an hour of grilling our friend, Christine commented, "You know, on the guys end all his buddies are going to ask is "What'd she say, man?" to that your fiance will say "She said yes" and his friends would say "Cool", end of story.

Below is almost the whole gang. We were missing two people. We went to a Japanese steakhouse called Sakura, very good!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Progress at the Semper Fidelis Memorial Park Chapel Site


This is a marker at the site showing visitors what they are in the process of building. Before they begin the chapel, they are completing the road to the chapel. According the the drawings, the road will eventually be lengthened within the museum grounds to run parallel to Rt. 1

I have been trying to take photos of the progress each month. There hasn't been a lot o significant change. Its been mostly moving dirt around. Well, I know there has been more to it, sewer and drainage, underground electrical stuff, to someone such as myself with no understanding of engineering, it looks like moving dirt.

The next two pictures show the site of the chapel. Its dimensions are mapped out with stones. The first picture was taken in January 2008, the second picture in May 2008. The gravel front walk had been added in March, however, the May photo looks less bleak.



Below, I am standing on the gravel walkway in February 2008, looking out to what will be the parking lot directly infront of the Chapel.


By March 2008, a lot of trees have been removed and the site is taking its general shape.


Below, March 2008 standing in the front entrance of the chapel looking right.


Below, standing in the chapel entrance looking straight out to the middle of the future parking lot.


In April 2008, it doesn't look much different looking to my right from the chapel entrance, the only difference, the leaves on the trees.


April 2008, from the chapel entrance to the left and down the walkway leading to the future parking lot.


In May 2008, more leaves and the 'hole' is bigger, while the pile of dirt to the left is taller.



July 2008, its really taking shape now! They have put up the stone walls, maybe on my next visit there will be gravel in the parking lot or blacktop!

This is looking left from the chapel's entrance.


This shot is looking straight ahead from the chapel entrance.


And this is looking to the right from the chapel entrance.


I believe there will be parking available for 40 cars. The chapel can only seat 70. It will be available for small weddings, funerals and memorial services as well as personal reflection.

Construction on the chapel is to begin this fall and will be completed by next spring. It looks like they are on schedule!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Its a Snowberry Clearwing hummingbird moth


Thank GOODNESS its just a moth! Thanks Illene reading me on Multiply for identifying this.

Friday, July 4, 2008

What the HECK is THAT!?!


I was outside with the cats figuring out my new Nikon D80 and this HUGE something flew into the garden. It looked like a giant bumble bee. Of course, Stryker had to go check it out. After I snapped the above photo, I grabbed him to keep him from sniffing the bee. I had visions of him being stung on the nose by this bee on steroids. That is all I need! A year ago, he broke his leg, which I'm still paying off, I don't need him to get stung and go into anaphylactic shock!


I took some pictures of this bug - - which, after looking at on my camera's viewer, I thought it might not be a bug, but a hummingbird. I got really excited about a hummingbird visiting my garden.

But then I blew these up on the computer and counted six legs on this creature. Hummingbirds don't have six legs. EWWWWW! What is it? I've never seen this bug before? Is it a moth? Or some new killer bee? I dont' see a stinger on this thing but I don't want a bunch of them visiting my garden either.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

John Adam's Thoughts on Independence Day

John Adams' famous letter of July 3, 1776, in which he wrote to his wife Abigail what his thoughts were about celebrating the Fourth of July .

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ugly Earth Scuptures


The day I was in DC I headed over to the Botanical Gardens to see how the flowers were blooming there. Outside were all these "Earth" sculptures. Most of them, in my opinon, really ugly. This was one of the more pleasant looking Earths. Looking ugly, well, I'm sure it was to get a point across - - the ugliness of how we don't conserve energy and resources.

The "Get-A-Ride" Earth had this to say:

Commuting Americans have so much exta room in our 140 million cars we could give everyone in Western Europe a ride.

If every car carried just one more passenger on its daily commute, 32 million gallons of gas and 600 million pounds of carbon dioxidewould be saved each day.


Holy exhaust fumes Batman!

That is just incredible!

I gotta tell you. It cost me over $60 to fill my Honda Accord this last time - - over $60! That is three times what it used to cost me. I have drastically changed how I use energy. I have the energy saving light bulbs in ALL of my lights. I only run the A/C if it is over 90 degrees- - and when I leave for work on those 90+ degree days, I turn it up to 85. I'm at work, the cats usually sleep in the sun spots all day anyway - - they don't care. It looks like it may be paying off for my. My electric usage for the month of June was half what is was for last June. Yay!

What types of energy conservation have you begun? Are you seeing any results?

I'm wondering about installing solar panels on the south side of my townhouse. I wonder how much energy that would develop? Enough to power my lights?

I want to know when the heck US auto makers and energy suppliers are going to come up with more mainstream alternative forms of energy? I don't care if it will take 5 - 10 - 20 years to develop stuff - - that is what they were saying 20 years ago when I was an elementary school kid. The thing is, if its something that can't be utilized "right now" no one wants to take it on. Well, had they been more serious 20 years ago, maybe we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today.