Monday, September 29, 2008

I, For One am Glad the Bail Out Failed

Even though the markets tanked, I really didn't like the Bail Out plan and I'm glad it failed. I didn't think it was doing enough for the home owners. Its like we tax payers were paying all the debt, but not erasing any debt for the people who owe the banks. We would be bailing out investors, covering their loss.

While I did lose value in my 401k (I have lost value every quarter this year - - I'm doing the "buy low, sell high" chant right now) My other mutual funds pretty much stayed the same, no big change from last week. I am confident things will eventually go up. However, I don't think the plan Congress was voting on resolved the issue.

djshally had a great post today - - she broke out what $700 billion dollars was per person in the United States. It came out to about $2,292.00 per person. She posed the question, why doesn't Congress bail the American people out.

That amount would be a pretty big stimulus check for a lot of people.

I think Congress could kill two birds with one stone (as I said in my previous blog) if they would bail out the home owners. That is the root of the problem. If people are in foreclosure, the US government should step in and 1) pay their lender to get the home owner up-to-date with their payments; 2) purchase the loan and work out new terms with the home owner; and 3) Homeowners who purchased their homes in the past 5 years and who have seen the value of their home drop to an amount that is less than what they owe, the government could make a payment that would cover the difference.

The above would infuse the banking/financial markets with cash and save home owners from losing their homes. I know that if I were given a check for the difference in the value of my home now and what it was when I bought it, I'd pay off part of my outstanding mortgage with that.

I just keep picturing George Bailey handing out his honeymoon money telling people its just a loan until the banks re-open...

I remember from my political science courses that its better to give the people the cash because they are going to spend it and fuel the economy. Wealthy people tend to just save any additional money they get as do corporations. I was really feeling like we'd be throwing $700 billion into a black hole. Our law makers need to give the money to the people.

I do hope this is a wake-up call to all of us. We need to stop living beyond our means, that isn't the American way. The government has been saying we need to save more as a nation, and we do. There is so much we need to do that we've been saying we should do - - save money and develop alternative sources of energy so we aren't dependant upon oil.

The alarm is buzzing - - lets not hit snooze.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Looking into Candidates Thoughts on the Economy

O.k. like almost everything in my life, I'm a bit behind on putting up my findings and thoughts.  I'll be honest, not a lot out there.  Its like both sides are afraid to get into specifics.  You really have to go to each candidates platform, cause you won't find what they want to do in sound bites or press quotes. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Museum Marines Featured in Washington Post

Remember my post a week ago about the Marines attached to the museum sharing their experience (Suicid Bombers, D-Ring Bling and Hospitality)? The Washington Post picked up on them and did a story. That I will post below.

I read through the comments - - of course the first person to comment on this story at 6 a.m. posted this:

thopaine wrote:

I would like to know why they are not dressed in battle fatigues like all other DOD public appearances, including civilian television ?

Given the severe shortage of combat experienced troops in this war on terror,couldn't these marines be put to better use than museum docents?
I am sure more than a few retired marines would be proud to serve as docents.

9/23/2008 6:09:08 AM

Well, as you, my blog readers know, we have a huge contingent of retired Marines, as well as a few Army and Navy veterans that ARE proud volunteers. In addition to that, there are folks such as myself who are not Marines who have been taken into the fold and proudly serve as docents. In fact, the National Museum of the Marine Corps has probably the best volunteer core of any museum in the nation when you look at the total number of hours that are volunteered. Many museums have to rely on paid staff to do what we do.

My next comment to this person regarding the shortage of combat experienced troops - - hmm, well, gee why don't more people volunteer to go into the military? And with this rationale, should we pull everyone with combat experience ouf of schools and other training billets? Let these guys have a break. My gosh, they all did two tours.

Helping to Bring the War Home
Veterans Portray Realities of Combat in Marine Museum Tours

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 23, 2008; B01

They answer visitors' questions as any docent would, everything from the location of the nearest restroom to casualty totals at the Battle of Belleau Wood. But fresh off the front lines, the Marines also depict war as they lived it, mostly as on-the-ground grunts: dirty, frustrating, harrowing, triumphant, with personal details that make war come alive in ways no artifact or display ever could.

Just ask Sgt. Richard Tack, 22, the barrel-chested infantryman welcoming visitors at the front door. His uniform is adorned with a Purple Heart, and fresh in his memory are the roadside bomb that blew up his Humvee during his first Iraq tour and the bullet that went clear through his calf in the second.

He's one of 11 active duty Marine veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan on staff at the National Museum of the Marine Corps who serve not only as greeters and guides but also as living reminders that war is an ever-present reality. In the almost two years since the $90 million museum opened outside Quantico in Prince William County, they have become exhibits themselves, providing glimpses of war for a public that has been largely unaffected by it.

From the design of the building, which evokes the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, to the Korean War exhibit, where the temperature is kept in the 50s to mimic the harsh winter of 1950, the museum strives to make its depiction of nearly 250 years of history as authentic as possible. But to the surprise of some officials, one of the biggest attractions has become the Marines who lived through the nation's current conflicts and are taking a breather before returning to the front.

"Who better to represent that history than the Marines who were there?" said Maj. Sean Stewart, the museum's operations officer.

When talking to a visitor about the day he was shot, Tack was quick to point out that one of the first people on the scene was "this gentleman right here," his buddy, Cpl. Mark Wangler, who works at the museum, too.

They were manning a remote outpost near Habbaniyah, about to go out on patrol to root out insurgents, when the insurgents attacked first. Tack went down, and as Wangler sprang to his aid, a dump truck laden with explosives blew up in front of the gate of their base. Wangler was knocked to the ground but got up, his ears ringing, and ran to his friend.

Tack was lying face down, unconscious, but he came to when Wangler rolled him over. "They shot me!" Tack groused, more angry than scared.

He spent a month recuperating, then went back to the base.

"I thought they were going to send him to Germany and then home," Wangler told the visitor, Russell Tuck, a retired college president who lives in Gainesville.

But Tack had to get back to his fellow Marines. "We were a pretty tight group," he explained. "In my mind, I was hanging them out to dry while I was in the rear."

Tuck said his chat with the Marines was the best part of his visit. "I'm just fascinated with these guys," he said. "I'd rather talk to them than anything else."

Many of the museum's visitors are veterans, too, from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and see in the tour guides younger versions of themselves. During one of Wangler's tours, there was the elderly man in a wheelchair who, when entering the World War II exhibit of the Battle of Iwo Jima, informed Wangler that he had been there as a young corporal.

"Seeing him as a fragile old man, it was hard to imagine him hiking up Iwo Jima," Wangler said. "And he said to me, 'You're so young I can't believe you've been to Iraq twice.' "

They expected to be ambassadors for the corps, the public face of a war few understand like they do. But they didn't expect visitors to open up the way they sometimes do.

One Vietnam veteran told Cpl. Michael Bustamante, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, that he doesn't talk about Vietnam with anyone, not even his family. But it haunts him every day, he confided, Marine to Marine, vet to vet. How, he wanted to know, was Bustamante doing? How was he handling the stress of combat now that he was home?

Bustamante told him that he had been in combat and had seen some pretty awful stuff. No need to get into detail. But he was doing all right. The key, he said, was communication.

"You've got to talk about it," Bustamante recalled telling him. "Talk about it with everybody. Let it out."

At the "Making Marines" exhibit, where visitors can try on a backpack that weighs up to 120 pounds to get a sense of what recruits have to endure, Bustamante sometimes offers his own experience of what boot camp was like: "I was so traumatized I didn't talk to anyone but my drill instructor for the first month." And nearby, in the Global War on Terrorism exhibit, he and his fellow Marines were able to spot something that wasn't quite right.

"That photo had to be staged," Wangler said while looking a photograph of a Marine sniper aiming at a building. A sniper would never have allowed so much light to shine in on him, easily giving away his position, he said.

Every Marine working at the museum does so by choice. Tack said it was a chance to indulge his interest in history and to explore something other than "the grunt life." But it is a temporary post, three years tops, and the Marines know they could be deployed overseas at a moment's notice.

The museum is filled with history they try to make come alive, and they could even donate some of their equipment for the terrorism exhibit. But not yet. They are not ready for their uniforms and guns to be sealed behind a glass partition, relegated to the annals of history.

Their war is not over yet.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Facing Fears


Nervous smiles before I embark on the Ropes Course at Rockbridge. One thing I am terrified of is heights. When I say terrified, I truly mean terrified. Like paralyzing fear. I don't like to sit in the view box seats at sporting events because I get horrible vertigo and feel like I am going to topple over the railing onto the seats below. I can't get near windows in tall buildings. When I say can't, I mean my feet will not move me toward the window.

Three years ago, I completed this Ropes course and it was such an achievement for me. I felt like I could take on the world. So getting the chance to do it again this year - - well, I couldn't pass it up. Even though I had been successful once before, I still got butterflies.


My friend D took these photos of me - - she did a Phenomenal job. It is funny. Once I secured myself into the fist element. I didn't pay anymore attention to her. When she did the course, she'd stop halfway across an element and yell down "Hey! Ranger's Girl" - - and strike some pose. D is clearly fearless. We all keep saying they need to bottle some of her up.


I had a little bit of a problem with the third element. For some reason, being parallel to the ground 30 feet above it is not a good place to be when you are afraid of high places.


They recommended I swing myself backward - - uh, yah right. Not happening. Or sit down on the wire. I opted for that route. I recovered.


That experience had pretty much caused an huge adrenaline dump. It took a lot out of me. Later that day, one of the girls in my cabin asked if I had been at the Ropes Course that she saw how I fell and saw how I recovered and was totally impressed.


I took on the rope grid by taking as big of steps as I could. I wanted to be done with it. For some reason, it seemed so much longer than three years ago. Recovering from that 'fall' had really taken a lot out of me.

Below, walking through cable loops.


Then on to a zip line to the next tree. Jumping off a 30-40 foot platform is scary. I really annoyed the guy working that part of the element. I had a hard time jumping. The zip line doesn't carry you the entire way - - well maybe it would if you really jumped and pushed yourself off the initial platform. My friend D looked like Peter Pan, air running and laughing on her zip line element. Yah, no Peter Pan legs for me. So, you had to pull yourself the rest of the way to the next platform. Looking at these photos, I wonder why I didn't use my legs to help me.


I made it to the platform and that was all I had.


I was shaking and light headed. I could barely stand. All I had was one wire bridge to cross to get to the zip line to exit the course. I had hooked up my lines to start but then got the ringing ears and the static vision - - I knew I'd get halfway across and pass out. On top of that, my stomach cramped up so bad I thought I was going to vomit. I sat down on the platform and yes, I had to be rescued from the Ropes Course.

Oh, the humiliation.

I was so upset with myself. I had done this exact same course three years ago. I knew I could do it. Physically, my body was rebelling. I couldn't even stand up and I was drenched in sweat. I guess that is a full fledged panic attack. The rescue was worse than if I had made it through the course because they had to harness me to another rope and I had to "slide off" the platform to be lowered to the ground.

My heart was beating faster than I had ever felt it beat. It felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. My friend D and another worker on the ground asked me if I could walk down the side of the hill. My legs were jello. I just slid on my butt the rest of the way down.

It was one of the biggest disappointments for me.

I know a big part of it is I am not in the shape I was three years ago. Three years ago, I was running several miles a day and lifting weights three times a week. Due to work and other life events, I've not been able to be consistent with working out. This was my wake-up call. I am bound and determined that I will get myself in better shape so that next year, I will be able to complete this course. I'm not going to let it beat me. It may have won this time, but not next time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Delay on Econ Posting: Returned from Awesome Weekend in Virginia's Hill Country


I just got back from a wonderful weekend retreat with the ladies in my Bible Study down by Lexington, Virginia. This is the gang just before church service on Friday night.

When the theme of the retreat's sermons were revealed, I cried because it was a story that I had picked years ago as my life verse. Three days of teaching on the story of Jesus calming the stormy sea. Mark 4: 35-41; also told in Matthew 8:23-27 (this is my verse) and in Luke 8:22-25.

So, I really felt that God was going to have something I was to really learn from this weekend.

BTW, why I picked this verse. My name (real, not Ranger's Girl) means white wave. To me, a white wave is a white cap on a rough sea or a crashing wave on the beach. Both can be quite destructive yet creative, definately bringing about change in the things that it touches. A mentor I had told us that there was a spiritual reason why we were named what we were named, even if our parents didn't mean anything spiritual by it. For my parents - - I completely changed their life pathes - - or quickened what would have eventually happened. Yep, I was an ooops baby. The motivation behind my parent's engagement and marriage. But that is another blog.

For me, why that verse touched a cord with me. I am a worrier. When I struggle through life's storms - - and I've had a few big ones in the past 10 years. I am often like the apostles, screaming at God, "Don't you care if I drown! Do something!" After initially studying this verse I changed my cry during the storm - - it became "Lord, stand up in me and calm me." I am willing to power through the rough path - - I just need to remind myself the God is in me and I need to summon him to stand up in me to calm my fears.

I have to say, I did face one of my big fears. The fear of heights. I took that on head on on the Ropes Course. I will share the story with you in the next few days. I also was humbled in some things that I have always been strong/good at. It was an eye opening weekend.

Regarding the economy of our nation. I can tell you that finances are one of the things I worry about. What is going on in the economy does scare me. I try to make wise decisions, however, it is difficult to do when I've not had a great financial management education. What the candidates plan on doing with the economy and what government programs politicians plan on funding or not funding will have an impact on me. Its a bit unsettling. We've been having meetings for the past two years, with government managers, telling us to expect budget cuts in our offices. Could it mean losing my job? I hope not. However, it is always a possiblity.

I won't let you down on my issues research/opinion, I just haven't had a lot of time to put the facts together. So hang on.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All is Safe and Sound, As of Tuesday

Once again I worked a really long day - - at least work picked up my dinner tab. I am so tired. Been tired all day. Not sleeping well with this software implementation. As seems to be the case, we had to do something at the last minute - - like we found out at 3 p.m. and were told it was going to happen if we were ready or not so we'd better be ready at 6 p.m. Good grief! My developer I work with, Scotty, he's great! He can just make things work. My brain hurts though.

I did get an e-mail from Major A regarding my Tuesday Thoughts e-mail I sent him. Now, Tuesday when I sent the e-mail I hadn't seen the IED story so my e-mail was just the typical - - hey been thinking about you a lot today and this is what is going on here - - kind of e-mail. Now, I don't expect him to respond as I know he's busy and has other things to do. But he sent me a quick line, so I'll share:

Thanks, and I appreciate your care packages...well thought out and useful. I'm finally able to get some traction here and get a rhythm, maybe even catch up on the news. It's been relatively quiet out here guess most of the bad guys are too worn out from Ramadan!

Needless to say, I responded back with a "Thank - you for sending me this e-mail and told him about the IED story I had read Wednesday morning and I'd worried that the reason I had been thinking about him was kind of a woman's intuition thing and he was some how connected to that IED story.

I'm sure he thinks I'm a worry wart nut now. Ahhh well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

IED Blast Half A World Away, My Heart Skips a Beat

When you are no longer dating someone, is it wrong to worry about their safety? Is it abnormal to feel your stomach turn when reading a headline "Four US Soldiers Killed in Roadside Blast" ?

Geographically, I know Major A's area of operation (AO) is large. Logically, I know I can't think that every IED explosion remotely close to where he is involved him. However, I can't help the gut wrenching that occurs when I see those headlines. I quickly scan the story for any names. When there have been no names released (like today), I make a note to search the DoD's website for casualties later in the day. When there are names, I breath a sigh of relief when his name is not there. That is then followed by a pang of guilt, because I know someone is getting heart breaking news.

Now, I don't dwell on Major A and where he is and what he is doing on a daily basis. Sorry to say, I'm too busy for that.

Small world that the Marine Corps is though, one of the Marines at the museum served under Major A's command when Major A made his second deployment. The Marine always asks if I've heard from the Major. If I have I relay what he's doing and how he is. He's been busy in the fight against IEDs. He recently celebrated his birthday. He got my card and package. He appreciates the consideration. He didn't get off work early enough to snag a piece of cake at the chow hall. However, he planned on sitting outside, staring at the mountains while smoking a cigar the following day. He writes that the mountains are beautiful but that is where the bad guys are so no going camping or hiking.

Major A was on my mind more than usual, yesterday. After a long day, I got home and e-mailed him.

This morning, I saw the headline. I hope the IED did not involve him, did not involve his men. I hope that event is not what caused him to come into my thoughts so often yesterday.

Even though there is no longer a romantic connection, I still care for his safety and well being. Is that silly?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Votes Are In, Your Top Five Issues

I have combined the totals from this poll that I posted both on Mulitiply and on Blogspot. I also added additional selections people wrote-in in the comments section on Mulitply as you could only select one item to vote on.

The top five in reverse order were:

5) A tie between Judicial Philosophy and the Economy (yes, I'll research both so I guess this is the top six. (4 votes each)

4) The War in Iraq - 5 votes

3) Energy - 6 votes

2) Ethics - 7 votes(this is going to be a really hard one for me as this is really not high on my list or on my radar. So, I'll be learning something from this selection everyone made)
Drum roll please!

The issue in this election that you voted as being the most important to you was National Security (9 votes).

The first issue I will blog about will be the Economy. This installment will be made next Sunday - - gotta give me time to research and actually write intelligently, after all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Suicide Bombers, D-ring Bling and Hospitality

St. Patrick's Day 2006 was anything but lucky for 5 Marines now part of the Marine detachment at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. On March 17, 2007, insurgents drove an explosive laden dump truck through the front gate of the Marine's Battle Post (BP).

On second thought, maybe the luck of the Irish was with them, a Humvee they had parked across the final entry point to the post ultimately stopped the dump truck, preventing it from being able to drive in through the front door of the post. When all the shooting stopped, dust settled and ear ringing ended, an Iraqi and an Marine were wounded. If you could have seen the photos of the crater (large enough for a Humvee) and the pieces of the dump truck scattered around/embedded in the compound, its safe to say that had that truck hit its target, three of the five Marines would not be here today.

From left to right, Cpl Wangler, LCpl Daily and Sgt Maldonado shared their experiences from one of their Iraqi deployments (They have been to Iraq together twice) with the museum docents.


The Marines, working as MIT advisers to the Iraqi Army had been tipped off moments before the attack began. A townsman had approached an Iraqi Army check point and told them there were many out-of-towners with weapons. The patrol radioed the BP. The Marines and their Iraqi counter parts started to head upstairs to the roof of their building when they started taking heavy small arms fire. They were so pre-occupied with the small arms fire they didn't notice the dump truck rumbling down the road at them, until it hit the humvee blocking the final entry way and exploded.

Cpl Tack was shot in the leg just before the explosion. Cpl Wangler was running up the stairs to assist when the bomb went off.

The explosion was so strong that the Marines outside the building said it looked like a giant wave picked the building up and slammed it back to the ground. Cpl Wangler was thrown back down the stairs.

The Humvee, manned by an Iraqi had been tossed into the air and rolled three times. The steel plates that had been put over the windows of the building were blown completely off the building. Huge, jagged, chunks of steel from the dump truck and humvee came raining down, spearing the cement roof and anything else that unluckily got in the way.

Docents gasped at the scene the Marines were painting. Maybe, based upon the expressions of their audience, they quickly said, "No was killed. An Iraqi lost his leg and Tack was wounded."

The insurgents had planned the attack well, to the point they even put bullet proof glass into the windshield on the truck to protect the driver from getting shot. Their goal was to destroy the entire BP and everyone in it.

Four miles away, Marines at another BP, felt the explosion and were summoned to assist the Marines and Iraqis. En-route, they encountered a mini dump truck called a bongo truck, parked and blocking the road. Cautiously they pushed it with their Humvee and cleared enough room to get by and nothing blew up! As soon as they passed the bongo truck, they encountered small arms fire and fought their way to the stricken BP.

After the fight was over, the Marines were returning to their BP. The bongo truck exploded as the second Humvee passed. Luckily, the engine block absorbed the blast. The Marine and Corpsman only suffered concussions. The Humvee wasn't as lucky, it looked like something had just bit off the front of the vehicle.

D-Ring Bling

MIT teams (military transition teams) consist of 10-12 Iraqis and 2 Marine advisers, a Cpl or LCpl.

The Marines expressed feeling a bit cautious at first when they started their second deployment as MIT advisers. However, they said, you have to be willing to trust people. They found the Iraqis to be eager and quick learners. They also recognized that the Iraqis had taken great personal risk to volunteer to be soldiers.

Some of the problems they initially had were with cell phones. The Iraqis all had them and loved talking on them. Wangler spoke of going on patrols and he'd turn around and see a soldier walking, looking at the ground, talking on his cell phone. The Marines were advisers so they weren't to discipline men but point out to the Iraqi LT, what his men were doing incorrectly and the Iraqi platoon leader took it from there. After that, the Iraqis would try to hide their cell phones by using ear pieces and having the phone down their shirt.

"But the talking to themselves is what gave them away", Wangler said.

The Marines all said the Iraqis wanted to be like Americans.

"Everything was questions with the Iraqis. They wanted to touch everything and try on all our gear. They were like little kids on Christmas."

One piece of American equipment the Iraqis were especially fond of were D-rings - - aka carabiners. Marines use them to attach equipment to their vests. Iraqis would attach anything that they thought would look good hanging from a D-ring.

A docent asked what the funniest thing they'd seen an Iraqi hang from a D-ring.

"A rifle"

Yes, he said a rifle. A rifle being carried on a d-ring during a patrol.

When they ended their deployment, Daily said he felt "I have hope for Iraq because they have progressed so much."

The Iraqis he said were not tactically proficient but they were running toward gun fire. He could tell the Iraqis had heart to fight and stand up for their country.

Wangler said when he left, he was very impressed with the Iraqis. They knew what they were doing and were doing what the Marines had taught them.


Maldonado said one thing that he was impressed with was the hospitality of the Iraqi people. He found the people to be very friendly.

"The hospitality of the Iraqis is something Americans could learn from."

They talked of times going to a home while they were on patrol to ask for water and being invited in for a meal.

Post deployment

Maldonado said the Iraqis that had worked with the Americans for 3 years could be granted a visa to the US. The interpreter that he worked with came to the US a year ago. Maldonado picked him up at the air port and invited him to stay at his parents house.

"My mom was terrified."

His interpreter has a green card and is now at Paris Island going through boot camp to become a Marine.

At the conclusion of their presentation, the Marines received a standing ovation.


Following their presentation, the Marines showed off some of the current equipment that Marines carry/wear into battle.

Here Daily helps my friend M (and a new docent) with the 'old' style bullet proof vest.


Maldonado and Wangler describe the new vests, equipped with a quick release emergency pull cord. By the way, the quick release cord should only be pulled if you can't get out of a burning vehicle or are drowning. Once pulled the vest has to be sent out to be re-strung.


Daily explains the new Molle (pronounced molly) packs.


Included in the MOLLE pack is an air mattress. The Marine's were really interested in this. All commented "Wait, they get air mattresses now?"


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What Issues Are Important To You This Election?

I was over at the Project for Excellence in Journalism website today and saw a shocking statistic. Did you realize that last week, during campaign convention coverage, only 2% of the coverage touched on the issues?

2%! (that wasn't cussing there - - that was true surprise)

Being the news/political junky that I am, I'm researching the issues of both political candidates. I thought it would be fun to find out what is important to all of you. My plan is to take the top 5 issues based upon the poll results, research those items from now until the election and post what I find here.

This poll will close on Sunday 9/14.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Big Dog on the Block

Will this be a Marine's best friend?


Occasionally, the museum displays experimental weapons, air craft or vehicles. If they ever park an EFV (Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle) out front or in Leatherneck you can be sure I'll post about that.

Let me introduce you to "Big Dog", a robotic quadruped designed by
Boston Dynamics and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

It reminds me of the All Terrain Armored Transport used by the Empire in Star Wars:



According to the information from Boston Dynamics, Big Dog can run at 4 miles per hour and can carry a 340 pound load. 4 mph is actually pretty slow when I think about it. The goal is to create robots that can handle rough terrain and go where humans and animals can go. As far as a military application, well, its kind of loud, so not sure if this is something that you'd want when you want to keep a low profile. However, I'm sure over time, this could be improved.

The retired Marines at the museum commented that the Marines should just use pack mules, they are quieter and can carry heavier loads. Big Dog is powered by gasoline. Maybe a solar powered Big Dog would be more practical or battery powered.

From a technical stand point. I think its pretty darn cool. Below is a video showing test scenarios.

Here is a scene from Star Wars and the AT-AT in action. Its facinating how these movies when we were kids helped spark our imaginations to actually create functional technology. Even though the Big Dog is impractical now, it excites me about what the future might hold.

Friday, September 5, 2008

NFL Championship or Sex?

Some survey polled men to find out if they would be willing to give up sex for an entire football season if their team would be guaranteed the NFL Championship.

Now, I have been looking all over the internet for this survey - - even the news channel that aired it, for the stats. I think I heard that 16% of the men polled said they would give up sex for the entire football season if their team were guaranteed the Championship.

They asked Washingtonians what they thought - - if they were men - - would they be willing to give up sex? One man said, sure, if his team winning were a done deal.

One women commented "I don't think men could make it a whole season."
I think she was right.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Its going to be an interesting election season

All I gotta say, its going to be an interesting election season.

The whole "Fight" theme at the end of McCain's speech was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

This is by far the best I have seen of McCain. He's never been a dynamic speaker. But by the end of this speech - - if he were a Tony Robin's client - - he had tapped into his power center. Man, he sounded like he was rallying the troops before going into battle. (Actually reminded me of a General Patton speech) And I suppose that the battle does begin now.

After hearing Palin last night, she is a pit bull, I don't think she's going to be the push over in debates with Biden that analysts thought she would be.

Well, now that all the feel good and motivational speeches and the dog and pony show are over - - its time to really look at the issues. Man, I wish I had more time to be able to do that.

One thing that I have a personal stake in is the use of contractors to fill positions once held by DoD civilian employees or actual military personnel. Congress has really been getting all in a twit about this lately. My company specifically has been targeted as, I think, all of or majority of the civilian procurement staff at the Pentagon are contractors with the company I work for. The Washington Post had an article months ago about how it was like having the Fox guarding the hen house.

The Democrats typically cut defense spending (at least Clinton did - - a lot) so an Obama win could adversely impact the types of projects I work on. And no matter who gets elected, there will be an impact on the appointed civilian leadership across the entire government.

Yep, its going to be interesting all around.

What/Who Will be Palin's Final Authority the Constitution or her Husband?

That was essentially the question asked in commentary by Rev. Susan Brooks.

This is based again on another interpretation of Ephesians 5:22. This interpretation being that following it literally would mean that Palin should seek her husband's counsel on all things and that his decisions are to be what she follows. Under that interpretation, Brooks states that the Republican Party should be vetting Todd Palin -- since he'll really be the one pulling the strings.


I also want to know why everyone is so sure that McCain is going to die while in office and Palin will be President. Reagan was 74 when he ran for his second term.

But anyway, back to husband and wife relationships in the White House. I'm sure every President has sought the counsel of his spouse. In the case of Woodrow Wilson, his wife Edith pretty much ran the nation toward the end of his presidency. I'm sure Hilary had Bill's ear all 8 years - - and I'm sure if she were to ever be President - - Bill would play a big part.

I'm sure Todd Palin will act as a sounding board - - but I am sure, Sarah Palin, in terms of her job, would make the decisions. Now, doesn't Brooks remember that we women don't want our husbands to solve all our problems? - - we want them to just listen.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Evangelical Women are to Be Submissive To Their Husbands

I almost jumped up and screamed at Sally Quinn when she said this as she was beig interviewed on CNN yesterday.

Now, Ms. Quinn knows a thing about religion as she founded and moderates a blog on the Washington Post called "On Faith".  However, it really makes me mad when people keep twisting Ephesians 5:22 - 33.  Basically, everyone stops at Ephesians 5:24.  Men seem to turn their ears off at verse 25 where it states "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..."  When you look at it this way, we women just need to respect our husbands, our husbands need to love us and be willing to give up their lives for us. 

Palin's Pregnancy Problem

I'll be honest, I bristled at this verse for years before I had some really good Bible teaching on what God really meant by it.  I recommend the book Love and Respect for an indepth look into this verse and what it means about relationships.  I'm not going to get into a theological argument on what this verse means - - other than to say I know it does not mean women are less than men.  I know it does not mean that women must subservient to men.  At its base, we are suppose to be respectful to the men in our lives and men are to be loving to the women in their lives.

Now where the heck am I going?  Sally Quinn pretty much stated on CNN that Palin's priority should really be in the home especially in her current situation with a special needs baby and a pregnant daughter.  Quinn said something along the lines about how Palin was so different from Evangelical women in that she works outside the home.  As an Evangelical woman, I was really insulted by that.

Why do so many people think that, if you are a Christian woman, your place is to be married, in the home with a bunch of children?  Why do some people think that if you are a Christian woman, that you shouldn't have a successful or powerful career?  Why do people think that the only way a Christian woman can be fulfilled is to be married with children?  God doesn't call all of us to be wives and mothers.  God doesn't call all wives and mothers to be 'stay at home'.  Take Deborah, one of the Old Testament judges - - God even punished a man for not stepping up and taking the 'lead' as God intended men to do (Judges 4:4-10).  Read Proverbs 31, a Queen is instructing her son, a prince, a future leader, on the type of woman he should be looking for.  She tells him to find a woman that is a good manager, financially responsible, someone who can buy and sell her own property, invest her earnings, run a business, is charitable, kind, and supportive of him.

So many of the critics of Palin and her mothering ability talk as if she is a single mom.  She's married and her husband is the stay at home parent.  Her husband plays the roll that most women play.  A role reversal.  Not the norm.  But the children aren't neglected and running amuck. 

My best friend from Smalltown, Ohio, is an executive with a large U.S. corporation.  She has always made more money than her husband.  Her husband, a college graduate with an Econ degree, decided after several years in corporate America that it wasn't for him.  He liked being outdoors and building stuff.  BF realized that her husband was much happier not working 9-5 in some office.  A happier husband made for a better marriage.  They decided, and she supported his choice.  Her family back in Ohio had a hard time with this - - especially when they decided to have a family.  BF's hubby is a stay at home dad.  He loves it.  Would my friend like to stay at home with their kids?  Of course she would, but that isn't how things were to be.  Feminism gave my BF this opportunity, it gave them the freedom to reverse the rolls.

As an Evangelical woman, I can tell you, for me, Palin's motherhood/grand motherhood is not an issue for me.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Thoughts on Palin's Daughter's Crisis Pregnancy

First of all, I agree with Barak Obama on this, it is not a reflection on Palin's ability to be Vice President.

I've read some comments from both ends of the spectrum - -

A comment on Youtube:

I guess Sarah Palin's stance on not teaching sex education in school is really paying off. Her abstinence stance really helped out in her family. This is classic!!

A couple comments on an article on Christianity

The Palins are an embarrassment to the evangelical community. Its not just the daughter's pregnancy. Its also the husband's DUI arrest, the governor's "less than truthful" account of her stand on the bridge to nowhere, and overall her lack of policy smarts. After all the work that Rick Warren and others have done to convince the nation that we evangelicals are intelligent, cultured people who walk our Christian talk, we get the Palin soap opera.

Posted by: Bill at September 1, 2008

What a blessing this truly is! Thanks for proving that so-called christian leadership is hypocritical and bankrupt, and doesn't work. There has never been a better time to reject christians.

Posted by: Nicholas at September 1, 2008

First of all, most of you know I am a Christian, those of you who don't know that - - you do now. Being a Christian doesn't mean I don't sin - - believe me I do. I screw up on a daily basis. As a Christian, I am so very thankful that Jesus died for my sins and by simply accepting his sacrifice, I am not cut off from God. There are no other requirements from me. Yes, as a Christian, I should want to "walk the talk" out of gratitude that my past sins and my future sins are forgiven. But God knows I'm frail and I can't live out the rest of my days sinless. This relationship I have with God is one of me screwing up, going to Him acknowledging what I did wrong asking him to forgive me, Him extending that forgiveness and me accepting it freely - - I don't have to do any acts inorder to get it. Even though I'm forgiven and accepted by God, doesn't mean there aren't consequences to the sin I've committed. I mean you put your hand in a fire and get burned, you have a painful burn for a little bit until it heals. You may even have a scar and a memory. The next time you encounter another fire, you will know better than to stick your hand in it because you remember the consequences from the last time.

Now, since I'm not a parent, I have NO experience in the area of parenting. However, I am a child and I have experience of being parented. I know my parents told me not to do things and set boundaries for me because they loved me and didn't want to see me get hurt. Did I always listen to my parents? No. Is it a direct reflection on my parents and the type of people they are that I didn't listen to them? No. It shouldn't be. When I made my decision to do things counter to my parents teachings - - they weren't there (except in what they had taught me) and I knew I was in direct rebellion to what they had taught me. Yes, I have had to deal with consequences. Luckily they weren't too life altering or life ending.

The attack on Palin and her stance on teaching abstinence - - o.k. that isn't NO sex education, its including another form of birth control. Even if teens are educated on the proper use of all the birth control methods out there -- doesn't mean they are going to follow through and use any of them. They make that choice, they know they are making that choice, if they are a willing partner, some may suffer the consequences with either an sexually transmitted disease or an unwanted pregnancy. I've had this abstinence arguement with adults who think its a horrible thing to teach kids -- and I've asked, so you are o.k. with your 13 year-old having sex? And they counter with "There are worse things they could be doing and I'd at least want them to know how to protect themselves." My next question to them is, "Do you always wear a condom or insist your partner wear a condom?" That is usually met with some stuttering and a "Yes, all the time". My next question is then, "Has it ever broken or come off?" And then the final follow-up -- even if you use everything properly, none of it will protect you 100% of the time from STDs or pregnancy. I have several married friends who got pregnant while on the pill and/or using condoms.

The Person commenting that the Palin's are an embarrassment to the Evangelical community. One word for you "Pharisee".

Are you so caught up in the "law"? Do you follow it perfectly? Are you sinless? And whatever happened to Grace?

Now, the Palins are sticking to their beliefs. They taught their daughter, she rebelled, she and her family have to live with the consequences - - sin doesn't usually hurt one person, they are going to love her and support her (much like our heavenly father does for all of us). I think that should be commended.

Embarrassment and hypocrisy would be the Palin's encouraging their daughter to have an abortion. In all honesty, I can deal with a flip flop on the bridge to nowhere more than I could on a flip flop on Palin's pro-life stance. How many people are pro-life but then change because its all of a sudden not convenient for them?

And Todd Palin's DUI charge when he was 22 - - Are you KIDDING ME? Is that the best you can dig up? McCain cheated on his first wife,Bill Clinton cheated on Hillary, that is a heck of a lot worse in my book because it has to do with integrity and trust. And if we can all get dinged on stupid stuff we did when we were young and NOT in political office or in a leadership position - - or get dinged for stupid stuff our spouse did when they were dating us - - heaven help us all.