Monday, May 29, 2006

here's a toast

Today is a day we remember our fallen comrades. My grandparents flew their American flag outside their house. We went to the Texas State Capitol building. At noon today, my grandfather, who sings in a barbershop group, performed with other men. The crowd included young and old, there were Asian faces, black faces, white faces, Hispanic faces. Everyone said the pledge of allegiance, sang America the Beautiful, and God Bless America. At the end, the group sang a prayer. The only thing I thought was missing was the third verse of the Air Force song. I guess singing it for four years at school has made it, in my mind, the epitome of solemn reverence for those who have given their lives in service to their country.
Here's a toast to the host of those who
love the vastness of the sky,
To a friend we send this message
of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old
Then down we roar to score the rainbow's
pot of gold.
A toast to the host of men we boast
The US Air Force!
I come from a military family, as most of you know. I grew up watching my hero give selflessly his time, sweat, blood. I never felt like I was second best, because I just always knew how important serving your country was, that it required sacrifice. Whenever my dad was home, he was at the soccer games, swim meets, music concerts. I have obviously thought a great deal about what being a professional military officer means, and had the best military education your tax dollars can buy to flesh out that knowledge. The Air Force wants us to know what we are getting into, and prevent another My Lai or Abu Grabe by training thinking officers, not "yes" men.

So when I see editorials like this, it irks me just a bit, because I realize not everyone gets it. I feel bad about complaining, because we have come a long way from the Vietnam era and vets coming home to ridicule rather than welcome. As American servicemen, we have given up our rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, in some part, in order to protect those who cannot, or will not, protect those rights for themselves. When I raised my right hand and promised to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, I promised I would do so with my life if need be. I take that literally, not just when I am in uniform, but every moment of every day. I have given up some of my liberty. I can no longer live where I want (sorry, but I can't say that I would live in Mississippi if I had the choice). I could even get in trouble for a sunburn. How many people do you know that would be disciplined at work for that?

I understand the author of this piece supports individual rights of those serving in the military, but there is so much more to be protected than that. I realize that not everything the US has ever fought for has been the smart thing to do, but I am thankful we fought against communism, fascism, totalitarianism when we have. In this day and age, with the global economy so intertwined, borders no longer mean as much as they used to; our interests, and protecting those interests, more broad.

More Memorial Day tributes:

History of Arlington National Cemetary
Michelle Malkin
Remembering fallen heros from Iraq and Afghanistan
LaShawn Barber has a great piece
Where have all the heros gone?
The Squiggler has many more links
For Love of Country

There are many more, you only have to search for them. These were just my favorites.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Snow Patrol @ Stubb's in Austin Fri 26 May

Holy smokes, they so totally rocked. Snow Patrol is my new fav band. I can't stop listening to Eyes Open. They are on MySpace too, so you can check them out. And Stubb's was a great venue. It's outside, but it was a beautiful night, warm with a slight breeze. The court there kind of slopes up from the stage, so even though we hung out in the back, there was still a decent view of the stage. I was totally impressed with the two opening acts as well. The Duke Spirit and Augustana are on my list of get-to-know bands. Augustana kind of have a Jack's Mannequin/Something Corporate vibe going with the driving piano and The Duke Spirit has the chick frontman (which is one of my fav things when it comes to good alt bands) and a kind of Garbage feel with a Blondie twist.

The rest of the fam flies in today. Hopefully lots of fun will be had by all. It will be good to see my mom, dad, and the little bro, since I don't get to see them very often. Oh, the life of the Air Force. I'm getting used to it....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

diggity dawg

I know people have been waiting to see him, so without further ado, here is Mr. Squirt. He's a rat terrier, but he's really skinny and kind of looks like an Italian Greyhound. His favorite things are walks, chasing an old sock that's tied in a knot, playing tug of war with his new friend Bandit, and curling up under my comforter right by my hip at night. He doesn't really chase balls yet, which I am a bit dissappointed about, but hopefully we can change that. This weekend he's going with me to my grandparents house up in Austin, and he'll get to meet his uncle-dog, so hopefully that goes well in an unfamiliar house with lots of unfamiliar people.

So last Sunday was the XTERRA Triathalon up at Canyon Lake. I did the Sprint event. It was 750 yard swim, 7 mile mountain bike, 5k run. Lets just say it wasn't pretty, but I finished, and I learned a lot. I really like mountain biking, and I now know I like triathlons, but I think in the future I will keep the two separate and stick to road tri's. Hopefully I can get one more in while I'm here in Tejas, and then look for some in MS and AL when I get back to C-town.

A ton of stuff is happening this weekend. Friday is SNOW PATROL at Stubb's BBQ up in Austin. And let me just say I'm TOTALLY STOKED!!! There will be photos and a full review, I promise. I'm heading up early to have dinner with the g-'rents and dropping off the small black and white menace (Oh, he's not really). Saturday we're going to float the Guadalupe River and I want to bike a trail not too far from my grandparent's house that's supposed to be really good. I'll only get to that if I can repair the damage done last weekend, however....

Then the fam gets here on Sunday. The little bro has his last day of school this week, so he's free! I remember that feeling, vaguely.... school seems so long ago, another lifetime even.

I am really glad we have a three day weekend. I haven't been able to catch up on sleep lately, no matter what time I go to bed. This whole teaching thing has been tedious lately. Don't get me wrong, I totally love the flying part, but I wish it was me in that jet, all by myself, without and instructor or student to ruin the moment. I guess it doesn't help that I'm a perfecionist when it comes to this stuff, so when I have a bit of an off day, its like a total disaster in my mind. Today I had a sim that was still decent, but totally sub-par in my mind. Now if I was in a single-seat jet, no one would have been the wiser how well I fly day to day. Ah well.... someday.

Friday, May 12, 2006

friday confession

So I have a confession to make. I am a car-dancer. I totally jam out in my car. Today I was driving home and a sweeeet David Crowder Band song came on, “I Don’t Wanna Move,” and I couldn’t help myself. First my fingers started tapping on the steering wheel, and then the drumming begins. Before I know it, I’m barely staying in the seat. Good thing I can multi-task! You know its bad when you have been caught dancing while cruising down the freeway by other motorists and they point and laugh or dance along with you…. Yes, both have happened to me. It was part embarrassing, part funny. When XM ended my favorite station, one that played Christian alternative, it put a bit of a dent in my style. But thankfully, its back. So be on the lookout when you’re driving on the highway. Even if its not me, there are others out there that enjoy the same amusement…

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

thoughts on Greys Anatomy

You know how there is always that guy that only hangs out with girls. I was watching Greys Anatomy yesterday, one of the early episodes where Izzie walks around in her undies, walks in on George while he's taking a shower, and then she gives George a hard time when he complains about the breach of privacy. George doesn’t hang out with the other male interns. He’s not gay, he just has all girl friends. These types of guys tend not to be manly men, for the most part. Then I started thinking about myself in that context. I only work with guys. Most of my friends are guys. I’m not particularly girlie. I am the female version of George. Pondering it further, I see also that neither he, nor I, has very much luck with the opposite sex. And I’m wondering why that is, if our very nature causes that, or is this strictly coincidence. I’m thinking about this purely for its intellectual value (yeah, right, you say). But no, seriously, is there some correlation between the fact that I’m just one of the guys and that being something guys are not looking for? Granted, I think Greys Anatomy was not meant for such deep thoughts as these, but what can I say, I like to go off on tangents….

good news from Iraq

Very good news!! From The Brookings Institution via All Things Conservative blog:

1. Per Capita GDP (USD) for 2005 is forecast to increase from the previous year to $1,051. In 2002 it was $802.
2. Increases in GDP for the next five years: 16.8, 13.6, 12.5, 7.8, and 7.2.
3. Actionable tips from Iraqis have increased every month this year. In January, 4,025 tips were received; February, 4,235; and March, 4,578.
4. On an index of political freedom for countries in the Middle East, Iraq now ranks fourth, just below Israel, Lebanon, and Morocco.
5. Crude oil production reached 2.14 million barrels a day (MBD) in April of this year. It had dropped to 0.3 MBD in May of 2003.
6. Revenues from oil export have only slightly increased from pre-war levels of $0.2 billion, to $0.62 billion in April.
7. Electrical output is almost at the pre-war level of 3,958 megawatts. April's production was 3,600 megawatts. In May of 2003, production was only 500 megawatts. The goal is to reach 6,000 megawatts.
8. The unemployment rate in June of 2003 was 50-60%, and in April of this year it had dropped to 25-40%.
9. The number of U.S. military wounded has declined significantly from a high of 1,397 in November 2004 to 430 in April of this year.
10. Iraqi military casualties were 201 in April of 2006, after peaking at 304 in July of 2005.
11. As of December 2005, countries other than the U.S., plus the World Bank and IMF, have pledged almost $14 billion in reconstruction aid to Iraq.
12. Significant progress has also been made towards the rule of law. In May 2003 there were no trained judges, but as of October 2005 there were 351.
13. As of January 2006, 64% of Iraqis polled said that the country was headed in the right direction.
14. Also as of January 2006, 77% said that removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.
15. In May of 2003, Iraqi Security Forces were estimated at between 7,000-9,000. They numbered 250,500 in March of this year.
16. The breakdown of foreign terrorists by country of origin is interesting. The largest number come from Algeria, at 20%. The next two countries are Syria and Yemen, at 18% and 17%, respectively.
17. The number of foreign terrorists fighting in Iraq was estimated at between 300 and 500 in January 2004. That number increased in April of this year, to between 700 and 2,000.
18. From May 2003 and April 2006, between 1,000 and 3,000 anti-Iraqi forces have been killed each month.

The Futurist has analysis.

The first notable projection is that Iraq's GDP will grow 16.8% in 2006 and 13.6% in 2007, making it the fastest growing economy in the world, and many times faster than the world average of around 4%. Many Iraqis are set to see their financial situations improve dramatically, and as stated by PR master Bill Clinton, "It's the Economy, Stupid". By 2010, Iraq will settle into a growth trend of about 7% a year, which is comparable to other developing countries in Asia, and thus a trajectory that exudes optimism. Plus, on the Index of Political Freedom, Iraq has the fourth highest score of the 20 countries in the region, and scores much higher than any of its neighboring countries, with Iran (16th), Saudi Arabia (18th), and Syria (19th) scoring much worse.
Also at the Futurist, hopeful facts that we can look forward to no more conflict in Iraq if trends continue the way they are going. If you took a basic Poli Sci class in college you probably already know this stuff.

We can start with the observation that never have two democratic countries, with per-capita GDPs greater than $10,000/year, gone to war with each other. The decline in warfare in Europe and Asia corelates closely with multiple countries meeting these two conditions over the last few decades, and this can continue as more countries graduate to this standard of freedom and wealth.

beyond persecution

I'm sure most of you are aware of the conflict in Darfur by now. Well, the violence against Christians is not limited to Africa or the Middle East. Via Michelle Malkin, al Qaeda-linked Muslim extremists in Indonesia have admited to beheading schoolgirls. The girls, high school age, were attacked as they walked through a cocoa plantation. Story here and here. And Michelle has quite a few back stories on Islamic extremism in Indonesia.

I'm sure you are all feeling safe in your beds at night knowing that Cuba, China, Russia, Pakistan, Azerbijan, and Saudi Arabia are on the UN Human Rights Council. I'm sure all of those countries' human rights abuses will be solved now! Former President Carter supported this, despite Freedom House's info that some of these countries should be as far from this council as possible. The full list of new council members. How could anyone not be able to admit that the UN is not broken? All these links via Gateway Pundit, and you can find full commentary there also.

On a happier note, I'm totally digging the new Snow Patrol and the amazing Gnarls Barkley. I got them both on iTunes today. Holy smokes! Pretty sweet stuff. Thirty seconds teaser video for Gnarls' "Crazy" video and they are on MySpace. So is SP. And you can see their videos on Relevant TV also. So much media!! I love living in the third millenium.

Monday, May 08, 2006

looks like USAFA is the only academy that makes Oprah

But the other academies are not immune to their own scandals. The Naval Academy has a high-profile midshipman in the spotlight. I guess since there isnt' a reporter out to get Annapolis, life isn't so tough for them. If only the Zoo could be so lucky. Let me just say, no matter what happened at USAFA, I was never afraid to walk the mile to my car all by myself. Can women at Ohio State, ASU, USC, say the same?

today was a good day

Ok, Britt, just for you, I'm drinking a green tea frapuccino.

I only have one thing to say tonight:
Formation. The. Best. Thing. EVER.

No matter what jet you're flyin'.... even a Tweet. Three feet away at 90 degrees of bank is a wonderful thing. I am thankful for gravity simply because I can defy it. You know that happy feeling you get when you hear a baby laugh? Not just a coo, but when they really have a good belly laugh, and everyone around them can't help but smile or at least chuckle themselves. That is the feeling I get when I am flying formation. When I think about it I can't resist a smile. I said this once during pilot training, and I'll say it again... If formation were a man, I would marry him and have his children.

Ok, maybe that was a bit, a tad, over the top..... But it was a good day.

A shout out to the old school brahs....

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
~John Gillespie Magee Jr.

Friday, May 05, 2006

another week down....

Its finally Friday again. The weekend will once again go by too fast, but for right now I'm enjoying my caramel macchiato and the atmosphere at good ol' Starbucks.... aaaahh, Starbucks, what would I do without you?

Since I had my qualification checkride early this week, I've gotten into the acrobatics portion of the program, and let me tell you, it has been a breath of fresh air. To be able to do a cloverleaf and loops, aileron rolls and barrel rolls has allowed me to really look forward to flying again. I mean, there is never a bad day when you get to take a jet up into the wild blue yonder, but it's an even better day when you get to be inverted and pull some G's. And on Monday, we are starting FORMATION!!! I got excited just seeing it on the schedule.

I discovered a great band this week. Cruiserweight is a Texas-based band that was at South by Southwest (I'm still bummed I missed it... one of my goals in life is to make it!). I love, love, love punk/pop/rock bands with a chick for a "frontman." They kind of remind me a bit of The Benjamin Gate for those of you familiar with the Christian alt scene, not as hard as Tsunami Bomb, the happiness of Letters to Cleo, and maybe the harmonies of The Juliana Theory.

You can check their tunes out here for a song download at the SXSW website or they are also on MySpace and iTunes of course (I spend way too much dinero on that thing... its dangerous, I've warned you!!). They will be in Austin at Emo's on the 19th. Hopefully I'll be heading to that show too. I really need to find someone who like good tunes who will go with me to all these concerts, haha.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

good news you won't hear from CNN, NBC

I have to make up for posting so little in the last week. I found this on Instapundit. Not really the message we are getting from our major news sources...

April 30, 2006: Despite the many brickbats of the media, al Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq, and is now retreating to lick its wounds where it can. If it can. Just over four and a half years, al Qaeda has gone from being the dominant terrorist group in the world to a defeated shell of its former self. In trying to defeat the United States, al Qaeda made three big mistakes: They fought the last information war, they underestimated the American leadership, and they also managed to anger the Iraqi people.

From the moment the United States and al Qaeda began fighting in Afghanistan, the terrorists were looking for a chance to re-create images similar to those of American troops being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993 or Walter Cronkite calling the Vietnam War a stalemate in 1968. It was hoped that such a moment would cause a dramatic drop in support for the war among the American people and force the United States out of Iraq. It did not happen.

Read the whole thing.

And from Blonde Sagacity, whose always witty dialogue includes some info on Andy Garcia's new movie about the communist takeover of Cuba (one of the few movies which I plan on seeing), and an interesting point about how all the most polluted cities are in blue states.... makes you think. Read more here. I love reading your stuff girl. Its funny how all the Conservative women are so beautiful. Funny...

one checkride down, good tunes

I'm multitasking as I sit here in Starbucks and watch the hail fall on my car outside. Listening to the Relevant Podcast (which I highly recommend by the way, go to, reading my favorite blogs, and of course, writing this blog. I had my first checkride of instructor training today. I passed, but it wasn't pretty. I have been really fortunate in my flying career that I have done well on all of my checkrides but one, and that one was not a bad flight, but I dorked up the ground eval. Today, I messed up a lot of stuff. I had a really crappy jet and the weather was pretty bumpy, but that's no excuse. My approaches were probably the worst I have done since I learned how to do approaches. I was just really dissappointed in the way I flew, and this checkride will stay with me my whole career now. Thankfully I only got one downgrade. I would not have been as nice to myself, but like everyone says, you cannot grade yourself. Let the checkpilot do that.

I got an iPod for my birthday from my parents, if I haven't mentioned it already. It totally rocks!! I listen to it all the time. So I have been thinking of music non-stop. I have been loving Kids in the Way. I first heard their "Phoenix with a Hearache" tune. The phoenix is my favorite mythological creature, so I had to like it (ok, that sounds really geeky). But listening to it the last couple of weeks, I have to say "The Scars that Save" has really spoken to me and once again broken me down and humbled me. I haven't been into any hard rock or screamo lately, but I have realy liked them a lot. Here's a sample of the lyrics:

Over and over your blood covers me.
How many times will it take me to see.
I am so dangerous.
I am so irresponsible.
Here I am, broken again, but then you show me,
you're wearing the scars that save.
How can you see me, as something so lovely.
Cause it's killing me that you took the blame.
Over and over it falls back to me.
My knees hit the floor and it's easy to see.
I am so arrogant.
I feel so unforgivable.
This is my same old song.
The one where I do it all wrong.
And I will try (fight) with all that I am to get it right in the end.

More lyrics here. And they are also on iTunes or MySpace.

I am also totally STOKED for Snow Patrol's new album. If you haven't
heard the Irish lads' new single, Hands Open, go, NOW, listen!! Its on iTunes for only $.99, cheap at half the price. Check out their website or listen for free at their MySpace page. They will be on Austin on the 26th, so if anyone wants to go with, I'll be there!!