Saturday, May 30, 2009

Just Shoot Them Down For Crying Out Loud!


So has anyone considered doing this? I'm talking North Korea's missiles that they are testing. I mean, they are testing - - so why can't we test our missile defense systems? Would we be provoking them? They seem to think its o.k. for them to test their missiles and that the rest of the world shouldn't be bothered by this - - so I'm thinkin' lets test our defense systems and shoot the darn things down. Can't we go to the world community with "What's the big deal, they were testing, we were testing. Its all good."

I do realize us shooting down one of their test missiles could do a few things like:

1) Provoke North Korea into invading South Korea. However, I'm wondering, maybe we could bribe the NK soldiers with food should they invade. "Surrender and we'll give you three meals a day!"

2) Would China back North Korea if they invaded South Korea? I mean they rely on SK, the US and Japan to buy their goods. Actually they rely on the US to buy their goods - - so if they backed up NK, could the western world do without all the cheap Chinese made goods in our stores?

3) Does any other nation make cheap goods besides China?

4) Could the US handle military conflicts on three fronts?

5) What if our missile defense system doesn't work?

6) What if our missile defense system works and the destroyed missile lands in a populated area and kills innocent civilians?

7) What if our missile defense system works and China and Russia observe how it works and are able to modify their missiles so as to make our missile defense system obsolete?

I heard a commentator say that North Korea is really in the business of creating chaos in order to have the world pay it off so it will be good for a little bit. Isn't that extortion? Personally, I think we need to stop rewarding bad behavior. Link food and monetary assistance to them doing good things for a period of time.

I'm also wondering, what if the world just acted like it didn't care? You know the reverse psychology thing.

I personally like the "shoot 'em down" strategy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Inside the Revolution

A couple weeks ago, I attended a lecture given by author Joel Rosenberg regarding current events in the middle east. It was eye opening from a perspective we in the US ignore, a biblical perspective. Why we ignore this perspective, I'm not sure. That separation of church and state thing? I think we've made it something our founding father's did not intend for it to be. They never intended God to be taken out of everything (but that is a whole different blog). A biblical or "God" perspective of world views is very good to have because there are some nations that view the world and government through, what they believe, are "God's" eyes.

His lecture was a promotion of his new book
"Inside the Revolution" and its companion documentary that will be released on September 11, 2009. The lecture also addressed the question, are we living in the end times?

If you would like to listen to the lecture, here is a link to the audio. It is about 2 hours long but well worth the listen.
An Evening with Joel Rosenberg.

I really liked how Rosenberg listed how Christians and Muslims are similar and how both groups can appear to be "nuts". I've gotten that "you're nuts" reaction a couple times from non-christian peers when I've just point blank said something is right or wrong because the Bible says so.

"Are you kidding me? How can you say that? You have a college degree, you're intelligent, or so I thought, how can you just say that is the answer because the Bible says so? Where has your ability to think critically gone?"

Well, I'll tell you, I know there is a God. I think God is correct 100% of the time, absolutely. This too is a different blog.

Rosenberg compared and contrasted Christians with radical muslims in Iran.

  • Christians are not trying to hasten the end of the world
  • Iran is trying to hasten the end of the world (Shia and Sunnis believe the end time is coming differently)
  • Shia writings say the judeo/christian culture will perish or convert before the muslim messiah comes
  • Christians believe they will be saving people while the earth does the horrible things
  • Shia believe they have to kill millions of people

Rosenberg also discussed another book.(I think its called What Went Wrong) that theorized the rise of radical Islam. Radicalism came about after the shock of being defeated by Christians and Jews in the 20th century. Reflecting upon what went wrong, it was determined that Islam had become corrupt and there was a need to practice pure Islam to include Shariah law.

He talked about how the CIA was blind sided by the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Kind of like the intelligence community was blind sided by the September 11 attacks. In my opinion, I think our intel and military communities have religious blind spots. Religion is completely disregard it because our nation is secular (you know that whole separation of church and state). I really believe its important to be able to see world events from a spiritual/religious dimension, especially in the middle east.

I've not had a chance to start reading this book, it and its predecessor "Epicenter" are on my summer reading list. One of my friends started reading the book and said its clearly written and not at all dry. I recommend Rosenberg's blog as it provides some good analysis/discussion regarding issues in the middle east and in Israel, from a Christian perspective.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why do I care and Why am I delinquent?

I love coming back from a long weekend to an e-mail with this subject line.

This person had the nerve to CC about half the world on this e-mail too. The initial reaction of people on my team was, "Is this a joke?"

I take nothing as a joke. I am dealing with a lot of people who are kicking and screaming regarding this new software application we implemented back in October. Yes, 8 months ago and still a great deal of resistance. We field nasty e-mails like this all the time. Often times I am pretty strung out and answer these way too point blank. Like telling someone to NEVER do what they did again because it caused the system to crash - - and then they have their supervisor call my supervisor to complain that me, a contractor, shouted at them. So anyway - - I'm not allowed to use capital letters in e-mails any more.

I was really good in my response - - very detailed in fact. Yet my detailed response took too long and half an hour into my morning, I got another e-mail from someone in his food chain to "Please respond to him, today." Funny thing when I sent my response, I got the auto-generated "out-of-office" e-mail from him.

His e-mail really ticked a bunch of my higher food chain people off, one person called his supervisor and his supervisor didn't care that he was rude to me. In fact, after I sent my detailed and very PC response, she responded wanting to know why this was such a problem. I responded back with its not a problem if people would use it correctly. What I sent out in my first response is what we were telling people in the demos, in training classes and in the training manual. If people don't listen to us and don't follow the directions, there isn't a whole heck of a lot I can do.

My non-PC response to the person who sent me the Why do I care e-mail should have been:

You are delinquent because you haven't done what you were suppose to do for the past six months. Why you should care? Hmmm, lets see, its called jail time.

I don't really think they could be sent to jail for not doing their job - - but it would have been fun to scare the person a bit.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rolling Thunder and the Interesting People I meet at the Museum

There is no place I would rather be than the Washington, DC area during one of our national holidays such as Memorial Day, July 4th or Veterans Day. Memorial Day is especially neat as there is this phenomenon called Rolling Thunder.

We are talking a Bike Rally like no other. Originally organized by Vietnam Veterans to raise awareness of their fallen brothers and sisters as well those held as Prisoners of War, it has become so much more. While still a tribute to our fallen Vietnam era Soldiers, Seamen, Airmen and Marines, it is an outlet to honor all our fallen, including those killed in the War on Terror.

Last year I was able to head on down for the rally and took some pretty cool pictures. Here is the link to those blog posts:

I didn't get a chance to "show" you what it sounds like. I found this short video from this year's rally:

This year, I spent my weekend painting my front porch, digging up 200 tulip bulbs, planting the last 7 of my 30 plants in the garden, planting the hanging baskets and deck planters, oh, and mulching. Lots of mulching. It was exhausting. I actually had to leave church early yesterday - - not to attend Rolling Thunder, but to go home and take a nap. I could barely keep my eyes open. The keeping them open on the drive home was an exercise of will. After my nap, I went out and transplanted three plants and mulched some more, cleaned my house and did laundry.

Needless to say, it was very difficult getting up this morning. My back has been killing me, to the point where I am walking around like an 80 year old woman. I considered calling the Museum to tell them I couldn't come. I'm just a volunteer, they can't fire me (at least I don't think they can). Well, I pulled myself up by my boot straps and took 1000mg of Ibuprofen (that would be 5 Advil) and by the time I got to the museum, I was feeling o.k. I knew I would just have to keep moving and I'd make it.

As you know, those of you who have read my museum journal entries in the past, I always have a wonderful experience. Spending the day is 110% worth it.

Most of our docents are retired or formerly active duty Marines (you can't say 'former' Marine, because once a Marine Always a Marine). All of them have such wonderful stories. I hope to bring you some of those stories in future blogs. I will introduce you to one of our Marine veterans of World War 2. Frank is an Iwo Jima veteran. When he volunteers, you can find him back at the Iwo gallery talking about his experience. When I walked past the gallery today, I saw him talking to a group of people that were sitting there, mouths agape, listening intently. I ran back to grab my camera to take a few photos.


Frank was 18 when he landed on Iwo. When his platoon's flamethrower was killed, his sergeant handed him the flame thrower. Frank says he was more afraid of his platoon sergeant than the Japanese. I brought a tour back to listen to Frank as he told about his experiences. The museum guests where thrilled. A few minutes into Frank's narrative, another docent interrupted to introduce Frank to another Iwo Jima veteran who was there with his son, a Korean war veteran and his great-grandson, an active duty Marine decked out in his dress blues. Applause erupted from everyone and Frank shook hands with his fellow Iwo Jima survivor.

One of the interesting things about Frank is that he is an accomplished pianist. When he joined the Marine Corps and his commanders found out he could play, he was often asked to play for the chaplains during the various religious services they held. After the war, he became a composer and music instructor. Saturdays at the museum, Frank plays during lunch from the balcony outside the Mess Hall. In addition to these free concerts, he is the piano man at the Globe and Laurel, Saturday nights. There is more, on top of his volunteering at the museum and playing at the Globe and Laurel, he still trains a full load of music students. Can I just say, I want to be like that.

Besides our interesting docents. We often have very interesting guests. As I was exiting the Vietnam Gallery, a Marine was resting on the bench in the hallway. We had eye contact and as I always do, I said, "Hi". He asked me, "How many of the docents here are Marines?"

Well most of them are. Most have some connection to the Marine Corps by either a spouse or other family member. Then there are a handful of us, like myself, who have no connection to th Marine Corps but love the history and what the Marine Corps stands for. He was telling me how he is really interested in telling the history of the Marine Corps so people won't forget. I was just getting ready to give him my docent recruiting line when he opens the bag he was carrying and was saying that every year he was down in DC talking to people about Marine Corps history and that a few years ago he started to do this:

My reaction was, "You are THAT Marine?!"

I've heard about him and have wanted to find him standing saluting to get some pictures to share with everyone here on my blog. I've not been successful at that. He had pictures so I asked him if he could sign one. So here it is:


Yes, he did make it out to my real name, so I had to block that out in keeping with my "infosec" policy of keeping my electronic footprint small. It says, after my name, "We honor their sacrifice every night with Taps! You take it one step further every day educating here at the museum. They live forever because of your efforts!"

For those of you that may not know already, service members such as SSGT Chambers, are equivalent to movie stars, rock stars and professional athletes, in my book. So after this makes the round of being posted next the the photo of me with General Mattis on my bulletin board at work, it will be going in my scrapbook.

He holds that salute for over 4 hours, or however long the motorcycle parade is. I asked if he ever gets tired, how can he stand at attention saluting for that long. He says he thinks about the pain that others have gone through for his freedoms that he enjoys and that gives him the ability to do this. To give them the honor and respect. He does this on his own, it is not a Marine Corps sanctioned activity. A contributor to the "Road Warriors" at wrote about his attempts to identify and interview this Marine, its entitled "The Lone Marine".

You can check The Lone Marine out at his MySpace blog:

Knowing there are people like him seving in our military, wow, its humbling, its amazing, it makes me so proud to be an American. It makes me wish more of us, including myself where made out of the "stuff" they were/are made out of.

In utter humbleness, I am so glad that I sucked up my own muscle pain and made it in to the Museum. Today, a day to honor the fallen of the United States, there was no better place for me to have been.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ahhh, the pitter patter of little feet.

Yes, I have babies in the house. I am fostering a litter of motherless kittens for Lost Dog Lost Cat Foundation. They are five weeks old and very tiny, oh my goodness! In fact the following pictures of them are actually bigger than life. Ranger was not happy when I brought them in. He hissed at the carrier and hissed and growled at me every time I tried to touch him. The funny thing is, these kittens look like Ranger.

After much thought, I have decided on names for them. Let me introduce you.

This handsome little man is Dash (short for Dashing). I think he is so charming (yes the name Prince Charming was also a consideration). He has a very sweet disposition, is good at climbing up the shower curtain, the bed, and my legs. I have found that he loves to be cuddled and get his belly rubbed. Oh, he stretched out so long when I was rubbing his belly the name Stretch was also a consideration.


Next is Ranger's mini-me, I have decided to call him Duke, as in John Wayne. He has a similar personality to Ranger, very sweet one minute and then *POW* he'll knock you out (if you are a kitten) or bite your ankle, hard I might add, if you aren't paying enough attention to him. He was draging a toy around and the other kittens thought "Hey, cool!" and pounced on the toy. He let out the biggest growl I have heard come out of a little kitten ever. He even tried to push one of his brothers off the bed. Yes, the Duke has some attitude.


Next is the only girl in the litter. She the tiniest which concerned me a little bit until I got her home and *zing, zang, zoom* She was every where like a lightening bolt. She scared me last night because she wouldn't stop jumping and wrestling and running around with her brothers even though she was panting. I tried holding her to get her to settle down but she would have none of that. Names I was considering, Flash, Zoom-Zoom but one of my facebook friends from high school suggested Spree (a spell of unrestrained activity) - - what a perfect name for her. Meet Spree everyone.


Last but not least is Stache. He had his name right away because of his white upper lip, looks like a mustache. He's a little suave guy. My best eater of the bunch and boy does he love to snuggle and sleep. He fell asleep eating this evening. Yep, nose right into the food, out like a light.


They will not be making the adoption events until July, when they are 10 weeks old.
They have survived their first bath (someone had an accident in the carrier and all of them had poo on them). They have not been introduced to Ranger, Scout and Stryker - - other than the quick sniff and hiss (aka meet and greet) when I brought them in last night. We'll see how the under the door interaction goes. I hope kittens are less threatening to my three than another adult cat.

Stay tuned for growth updates!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Missle Launches, Petunias, Dealing with the Taliban, Software Subject Matter Experts and Kittens

So, Iran successfully launched a solid fuel, medium range, rocket, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, if they had one.

This is what Ahmadinejad had to say about it:

"We send them a message: Today the Islamic Republic of Iran is running the show," "We say to the superpowers, 'Who of you dare to threaten the Iranian nation? Raise your hand!' But they all stand there with their hands behind their backs."

Obama's response was:

"Deepening concern."

O.k., our president's concern is only 'deepening' regarding medium range missiles and nuclear weapons in the hands of a leader who believes he has been put in his position by God in order to hasten the return of the muslim messiah. As Glen Beck said the other day, why should Americans care? Hmmm, yah, I guess we Americans shouldn't care about someone who wants to wipe us off the face of the earth.

"Oh you want to kill us infidels, that's nice."

Oh, but its not us, its Israel they want to destroy. Yes, but the US is the "Great Satan" so we are kidding ourselves if we think we are not in the cross hairs.

While the powers that be figure out when and how they are going to let Ahmadinejad know he and Iran are not running the show, I've been digging in the dirt, planting all sorts of things. My garden is going to be glorious - - as long as we aren't nuked. This weekend, I'll be mulching, painting my front porch, playing soccer and going to church. I am so thankful that I live in a country where, as a woman, I got a great education, can own my own property, decide what I want to plant in my yard, can go shopping without a male escort, can play organized sports on really nice playing fields and can worship freely and openly. Hats off to all the military men and women who have given their lives for the United States so that this could be possible. Oh, may we, US citizens not take for granted what we have.

Speaking of not taking our freedoms for granted, there have been some negotiations going on with the Taliban and the list of items they have drawn up for "Peace" with the United States and the western world is:

  • American and Foreign Forces go back to their bases (funny I thought that is where most of our forces were - - is the Taliban a little afraid about having MITT or CAPs teams in the villages protecting villagers from Taliban bullying?)
  • Cease fire (how about we'll stop shooting at you when you stop shooting at us- - no cease fire necessary - - oh, but wait, you all mean cease fire where "we" are concerned, this doesn't apply to "you")
  • Current Government replaced by a transitional government made up of Afghan leaders including Taliban and other insurgents (FYI, Taliban and Insurgents, if you would participate in the elections, you could legitimately be elected by the people or are you afraid they wouldn't vote for you?)
  • Americans replaced by Muslim peacekeeping forces (I seem to recall that being something the US wanted but no one stepped up to the plate....hmmm)
  • Nationwide election when all westerners are out (this just screams Taliban/Insurgent takeover when there are no sheep dogs left to protect the sheep).

Moving on from International madness back to work madness. I love it how someone I work with thinks I should be an expert on stuff I've never touched before and that she can't do the research to find the answer, but I should and need to get back to her with the answer ASAP.

Boy am I looking forward to fostering kittens!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Day at the Joint Services Open House

I took a day of vacation to go to the Joint Services Open House with the museum.

It was a rough morning - - I had to be at the museum at 0645. I'm usually just getting into the shower at that time. Somehow I made it there in time. Whew! Maybe I should try getting up this early again and going to the gym....hmm, I said 'maybe'.

The Joint Services Open House is held at Andrews Air Force Base. I haven't been there in several years. When we arrived at the gate to the flight line, we were denied entrance. But we have the pink pass, our Marine driver argued, we were told yesterday that that would get us to the hanger, we have stuff to drop off. The Air Force security guard told us the pink pass was only good until 7 a.m. that morning. Phone calls were made to find who had a red pass to bring to us. We were directed to go to the operations office since the Marine who had the red pass was at the safety briefing. As we were leaving the parking lot, we hear the MP tell another government vehicle they couldn't drive onto the flight line unless they had a green pass. What the heck?

So that was the joke the rest of the day - - what color pass do we need now?

Later in the day, one of the Marines informed me that the big show at our museum table wasn't all the cool historic Marine Corps artifacts but the view of my chest. What?!? At first I thought a button had come undone from taking my camera on and off. Nope - - apparently, I have a gap, as I can now see in this picture:


Well, gosh darn it. I got a large shirt so it wouldn't gap in this area! So all I wanted to do the rest of the day was stand there with my arms across my chest.

Before the air show opened, I walked around with one of the gals who works at the museum. We headed over to check out the Army's Virtual Army Experience.


While we were waiting in line, the Public Affairs officer came up to us and asked if we wanted to take pictures of what was going on inside.

"Well, sure if we can."

"You can with me." He said.

The Virtual Army Experience is like being inside a video game. There were three stations that included two Humvee and a chinook helicopter. This is the view of one of the humvee stations:


As you can see, it is surrounded by video screens. These screens project a computer generated display as if they were driving through an Iraqi village when all of a sudden, they are ambushed. The targets in this station looked like people. In another station, the targets were little red Xs.


I sat in the back of one of the Humvee in an attempt to get some pictures of the action. You really feel like you are moving when you are sitting in the vehicle. I'm sure this will be very popular. When we left, I felt like I was deaf - - so it is quite loud.

Here I am checking out the sites on a Sabre missile system that the Marines from The Basic School (TBS) brought with them. This weapon is usually mounted on a Humvee.


Here I am on a Marine Corps LAV.


Below, the navy SEALs stuff. I listened to the SEAL discussing submersible training to a woman and her teenage son. I was curious and asked if that type of training was what a SEAL recently died participating in. Yes, the SEAL said. He had been with the family that week and the funeral had been today. O.k. I felt like a jerk. I told him I was so sorry.


I know, you are wondering, if this is an air show, where the heck are all the aircraft? Well the Thunderbirds performed this year. Typically, the Air Force's Thunderbirds alternate with the Navy's Blue Angles at this air show.


This is an Air Force F-22. Recently, the DoD cut funding for this program and will not be producing anymore. Instead the DoD will be concentrating on the Joint Strike Fighter aka the Lightening II.


Of course there were many antique air craft as well as all the aircraft currently used by the US military. I am actually surprised that there aren't foreign military participants in this air show.


This is one of our Marines telling some interested students about the history of the Marine Corps. He is dressed as a Vietnam era Marine.


Here, an instructor from TBS shows a young Marine fan how a 50 caliber machine gun works.


Monday, May 11, 2009

The Big Day

Amazingly, after 40 days and 40 nights of rain, the sun came out...

O.k. that is an exaggeration. After 14 days of rain, the first really dry day, happened to be the wedding day. Good thing as it was an outdoor wedding at a place called the Woodend Sanctuary, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Here, my cousin and his brother, awaiting in the wood alcove for the bride to make her entrance. From the look on his face, that is what she is doing.


The bride on her father's arm, entering the tree alcove.


The vows begin.


The bride is a beautiful person through and through. One thing that is very cool about her is she is always quick to smile and laugh. As they turned and took each others hands to say their vows, the emotion came over her. She started to cry and took a second to regain her composure.

DSC_0955 DSC_0957

The vows have been said and its time to exchange the rings. The bride again, laughs happily.


Next, the exchange of rings.



I haven't noticed the binding of the hands at a wedding for a while. I think it goes that what God has bound together let no man tear asunder. The final blessing follows.

DSC_0969 DSC_0973

The Kiss.


They had some really neat personal touches to their ceremony. One was the reading of a portion of the Velveteen Rabbit, the discussion between the toys about what makes you 'real'. I had tears streaming down my face. That story always makes me cry and I gotta tell you there were a lot of kleenexes being pulled out of purses. Then there was a reading from Song of Solomon, everyone was back, even keel now. Then a reading of a poem my cousin wrote his bride the year that they were apart when she finished her last year of tears from everyone. The final personal touch... bag pipes for their exit. Tears again!


My aunt and her grand daughters, who were the bridesmaids.


The reception was held at the the house in the sanctuary, an old estate house.


A tent was set up over the back stone patio. The bar was set up on the front porch.


My cousin and his wife are also very into photography and like me, they photograph weddings for their friends. The photographer they hired is ranked as the best photographer in the Washington, DC area. Here they are being set up for a shot.


The bride trying to get her veil to blow in the wind.


My cousin and her nieces.


The groom's brother and bestman, his girlfriend and friends from Germany and Holland.


The grand entrance as Mr. and Mrs.


Another surprise for the couple, a quilt made by family and friends. Months ago, directions were sent out to a bunch of people to make either large or small squares that you would sign and write good wishes to the couple. All the squares were assembled and quilted and, well, it was a big surprise when it was presented.


The bride is again, overcome with emotion as she thanks everyone.


The first dance.


I love this shot of my cousin. He looks so in love!


Sitting down for dinner. We all chuckled, one of the flower girls was seated at the "Singles" table. Her parents (My cousins) were sitting at the table right next to her. Her dad told her she needed to participate in the conversation. She was such a good sport. Funnier yet, a young man was assigned to sit at this table also, but there were no open seats. He couldn't tell a four-year-old to move. Both the young man and this little flower girl were saved when the groom's mother ushered her over to the kids table. The kids table was set up very nicely, coloring books, crayons, bubbles, little toys and a dinner of chicken fingers and mac and cheese. Us grown-ups had steak and fish with vegetables.


Yes, I really was there. Here I am with my parents.


All of my cousins laughing and carrying on. We were doing a lot of remembrances of summers at Grandma and Grandpa S's. It is interesting hearing how other people perceived their visits and our Grandparents. My family lived next door -- so my sisters really knew our grandparents. Often, when you are so close to someone and see them everyday, there are things you take for granted or never really noticed - - because that was "just how it was". I'll have to write about this at another time. But it set some gears turning in my mind about something to do.


One of the flower girls coloring - - yes, she is lying on the ground in her pretty dress.


This was the wedding cake. The pieces for the guests were cupcakes. They were filled with coconut cream.


That is me in the middle with a couple cousins.


My cousin dancing with his girls.


What is this? This is the groom playing drums with the band.


There is his wife cheering him on!


He was really good. I never knew my cousin played drums. As you can see everyone was dancing and having a good time.