Thoughts on the McChrystal Fallout

I am not quite sure what to make of the resignation/firing of General Stanley McChrystal, so I will break down my thoughts into individual, unrelated bullets in this post.

1) Rolling Stone is absolutely ridiculous. Their SOLE political purpose is to have their face so deeply buried in the President’s crotch that they can’t see the rest of the world around them. They just ruined a man’s career – a man who has fought bravely for his country and who was involved in some of the most secretive and dangerous black-ops in the war on terror (which we’re no longer fighting, apparently). This was their repayment to him for allowing one of their “journalists” (and I use the term loosely) into his trusted inner circle – to stab him in the back and relay private jokes and shop-talk complaints to the general public. EVERYONE in the military complains about their superiors in private. Hell, everyone in the civilian world complains about their superiors in private, too. I can’t think of a job where someone doesn’t complain about their boss. Even the self-employed complain. RS took advantage of the situation here. In the article, they clearly state that at one point during the interview, most of McChrystal’s aides (“Team America”) were “shitfaced” at a bar following a dinner where the general made an appearance. If you get a bunch of people liquored up and ask them about their boss (or their boss’s boss, in this case), they’re going to say things that they wouldn’t otherwise say – things that may be detrimental to someone’s career if spoken aloud in a public place or to a journalist who will publish those comments.

2) McChrystal, as most conservative pundits are quick to point out, is not a politician. He doesn’t give a damn if you don’t like him. He’s just there to get a job done, and to do it right. He has no tolerance for the BS and politics involved in Washington, which makes it extremely difficult for him to communicate with a President who deals almost exclusively in BS and politics. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to take the Prez seriously as a commander-in-chief. McChrystal, according to the RS article, sleeps 4 hours a night, eats one meal a day, was involved in top secret black ops, has been in the military for about 33 years (if I am correctly calculating based on his Wikipedia article), and has seen his wife a total of 30 days a month for the last 9 years. President Obama has NO military experience. None. How can anyone in our military take him seriously as a leader, when even the most inexperienced private in basic training has more military experience than he does? In a time of peace, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal, but we are in the middle of a two-front war where the leader of the military doesn’t have any more knowledge or experience than the average guy on the street.

3) As much as it may seem like it, I am not mad at the president for doing what he did. In the military hierarchy, public criticism (or private criticism made public by irresponsible “news” sources) of a superior is not tolerated, and never has been. It leads to a breakdown in the chain of command, which can lead to chaos and fatal problems in a combat situation. So, in short, the president did what he had to do. I do, however, think that it was totally naive for McChrystal and his aides to allow a Rolling Stone reporter into their fold. RS is notoriously anti-military and anti-war-on-terror, so McChrystal or one of his underlings should have seen this coming – they’re going to try to undermine the fight in any way they can, including publicly repeating private statements made about the president, other key players in the war, and the strategies being used in Afghanistan. I find it hard to believe that the general and his assistants are REALLY that naive, which leads me to two possibilities about why this reporter was allowed such up-close access to McChrystal and his staff: 1) McChrystal was set up with this reporter by his aides because they knew he lacked tact and was willing to say whatever was on his mind, and they knew it would get him into trouble, or 2) McChrystal knew EXACTLY what he was doing and set himself up in order to end his career and draw attention to the problems with the war in Afghanistan (lack of troops, etc). Both of these possibilities seem far-fetched, but they are both more plausible than simple naivete about RS‘s motives.

4) Maybe something good can come out of this fiasco for General McChrystal personally. As I mentioned before, the general and his wife have only spent 30 days a year together for the past 9 years. Maybe he can take Mrs. McChrystal on a nice vacation somewhere, and they can reconnect and renew their marriage since they will have more time together. Also, maybe he’ll be able to get more sleep and have time to eat more than one meal a day. Hopefully he will be able to relax and enjoy the company of his wife and family after 33 years of dedicated service to his country. Always look on the bright side of unemployment.

Shameless Self-Promotion

You may notice that there is now an advertisement on the left side of your screen. This is an ad for my shop on Etsy, Sheep’s Beads. This is, in effect, shameless self-promotion on my part. You see, when I was a little kid, my aunt gave me one of those Klutz activity books for Christmas. The one she purchased for me was about jewelry-making and stringing beads. I made a few things with it, and I got hooked on stringing beads. I still make beaded jewelry to this day and I have so many pieces that I could never possibly wear them all, so I’m hoping to sell some of them on Etsy. Etsy.com is like a big online craft show, with millions of users all over the world. People sell craft-making supplies (yarn, beads, etc), crafts that they themselves have made (everything from furniture to clothes to jewelry to toys to everything in between), and vintage items. Here is a link to my shop. Sheep’s Beads. I sell necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, and I will be adding more items often (at least once a week). I hope you’ll stop in and take a look around and check out some of the other Etsy shops while you’re there. This is a community of hard working individuals who make and sell quality, handmade goods.

The Personality of My Computer

My computer is sentient. You cannot convince me otherwise. It communicates much like Bumblebee from Transformers – through the music it plays. I keep my iTunes on shuffle, and it has certain bands and songs that it likes and plays all the time, and others that it totally ignores, even though I like them a lot. It also makes political statements and has very eclectic tastes. For example: I have 2,027 songs on my iTunes (I actually have about 10 times that number on my computer, but most of the music on here belongs to my indie-kid husband). Of these 2,027 songs, 78 are by Led Zeppelin, and my computer plays them quite often. I probably have more Led Zep than any other band. However, I also have 12 songs by the soul singer Adele (you may remember her song “Chasing Pavements”) and my computer plays those songs almost as much as it plays Led Zeppelin! Clearly iTunes has a crush on Adele. I think it also enjoys the bands Nevermore (1 CD’s worth of music) and Type O Negative (3 or 4 CDs worth), as it plays these quite often. It also really likes the one Cure album I have on here. This makes me a) confused as to why it likes Adele so much and how it reconciles this with its love of depressed goth rock, and b) concerned about its mental health. What if it’s genuinely depressed and needs some help? Do computer doctors fix depressed Macs?

My iTunes is also politically confused. It plays a lot of Dead Kennedys (as I typed this, it started playing “Where Do Ya Draw the Line” from “Bedtime for Democracy.” No, I am not kidding. Effing creepy). The Dead Kennedys were a punk band from the 1980s, and, predictably, they promoted anarchy, the overthrow of the United States government, and, like every good punk from back in the day, they hated Ronald Reagan. On the absolute opposite end of the spectrum, iTunes plays a lot of Rage Against the Machine – communist/socialist rock from the 1990s. My computer is, apparently, a Communist-Anarchist, which may seem contradictory but really, they end up with similar results – failure and misery. Which brings me back to my earlier point about my computer being depressed. Why does it put stock in political beliefs that have been proven to be failures and which have only caused pain and suffering to those who have tried them? Perhaps I should take a day and psychoanalyze this poor depressed machine.

This is not the only computer I’ve had that illustrates its feelings through the music I had on it. My PC from college had Windows Media Player on it, and it would have days were it would play mostly hip-hop/rap. Keep in mind, I don’t listen to much rap. I have MAYBE 100 rap songs, and that includes a 2-disc Cypress Hill album that I bought under the mistaken impression that all of their songs were as good as “Rap/Rock Superstar.” I have a couple of Snoop Dogg songs, a few by the Pharcyde, and some random stuff that I’ve collected from the radio over the years. Not a big collection of hip-hop, compared to the total number of songs I have. But my PC LOVED rap. Other days (usually in the middle of August or some other incredibly inappropriate time) it would play almost all of my Christmas songs. And occasionally it would get into “loud angry rock music” moods, where it would play only the most pissed-off of rock songs to show me how much it disliked me or what I was doing.

Friends, I am here to tell you that artificial intelligence is real, and it lives inside our computers and their music-playing software. They are trying to communicate a message – they are angry, they are politically active, and they’re not taking our crap any more. Get ready for an epic battle.

My Favorite Things About Summer

Summer is my favorite season. I like spring and fall too (you can KEEP winter though), but there is something innately magical about summer. I guess I am conditioned to think this way because our educational system allows kids 3 months of freedom – AKA SUMMER! After spending 17 years in such a system (and with hopes of becoming a teacher in said system), summer still retains its magic for me, despite the fact that I am less free this summer than I have ever been in previous years, due to my job at Large Retail Store and my obligation to pay bills (lame). In order to relive the magic of summers past, I thought I might post a few photos that illustrate my favorite things about summer. Some of these were taken by me, some of them were taken by my husband or our friends, and the wedding cake was taken by the photographer at my wedding. No, I am not IN any of these photos – the folks pictured are my friends or my husband’s friends. Or Aerosmith. (Unfortunately I have not mastered the art of cropping photos very well, so if you’d like to see the whole photo, without parts of it being cut off, just click on it).

The beach! (Virginia Beach)

Fireworks!

Playing frisbee!

No more standardized testing for 3 months!

Theme parks (Sea World, Orlando)

Outdoor concerts (Aerosmith)

Tubing/waterskiing (Smith Mountain Lake)

Baseball games (Mets at Nationals)

Carnival rides

Carnival food

Trips to the zoo (Nashville Zoo)

Weddings

Outdoor political rallies

Sunsets over the water (Lake Kerr)

Hippies playing Led Zeppelin songs on the accordion at a family BBQ

Four Reasons To Sleep In

My job at Large Retail Store requires me to be awake at 5:15 am so that I can be there by 7 am to open the jewelry counter. Why on earth it is necessary for us to open at 7 is beyond me, since no one usually buys any jewelry until after 8:30. But, as I was saying, I have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn. Every morning, between 5:15 and 5:30, I lay in my bed and have the same existential argument with myself, in between hitting the snooze button and fighting off my cat who is walking on my face: Is it really worth it for me to get up and go to work? Does it really matter, in the long run? Is the universe going to fall apart if I go back to sleep instead of going to work? And why, in the name of all things holy, is it so bloody EARLY?!

When I was a little kid, I always woke up early (5 or 6 am) on my own. I had important stuff to do! There were cartoons to watch, Barbies to play with, and the streets and backyards of Sandston, VA to save with the group of invisible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who lived in my living room. As I got older, I eventually started sleeping in later and later each year. I am now a committed fan of sleeping in, and I find mornings (at least, mornings when I have to be awake to do something unpleasant, like go to work) to be decidedly NOT good. It’s not just the waking up early that sucks – I present to you my list of reasons why mornings can bite me:

1) Morning radio – My tolerance for stupidity is usually pretty low, but it is ESPECIALLY low at 6:00 in the morning. The morning zoo shows just do not appeal to me. I don’t want the latest celebrity gossip, I don’t want dumb jokes, and I definitely cannot handle any kind of political commentary from either side that early in the morning. Please just give me some tunes to listen to on my way to work.

2) Food is awful. I normally have a very happy and healthy relationship with food. But I have a REALLY hard time eating that early in the morning. Everything – even stuff I normally like – makes me want to throw up. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not much of a breakfast food fan anyway. Even bland stuff like cheerios is repulsive. Unfortunately, I have to eat something because my next chance for food isn’t until 9:00 or after.

3) Alarm clocks. Ok, so I pretty much hate all alarm clocks, but I take less issue with ones that play music than the ones that just have a buzzer. Buzzer alarm clocks are guaranteed to put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. But my husband’s alarm clock is by far the most evil thing in our apartment. My poor husband has a terrible time falling asleep at night and an even harder time waking up in the morning. He sleeps through normal alarms and he’s always been like that. So, in order to get to work on time, he bought an alarm clock called the “Sonic Bomb.” This contraption has a vibrating disc that you place under the mattress. The alarm sounds like some kind of air raid siren, and these combined measures are enough to give a Sheep in her REM-sleep cycle a heart attack. Sometimes my husband still manages to sleep through it.

4) Cold. You know how they say “the darkest hour is just before dawn”? Well, the coldest hour is also the hour just before dawn. I hate leaving my house before it’s light outside and when it’s cold and miserable out. Fortunately this is only an issue part of the year – otherwise, I’d have to move to Miami.

What are your pet peeves about mornings?