House Update:

A long day, though not too bad. The new house is starting to progress again, now that the builder and his carpenter are pretty much over the flu. The weather has gone from warm and wet, which turned the building site into a sea of mud to frigid and frozen. At least I can get the truck up to the porch now. Tomorrow the appliances come, and my kitchen will at least look complete. The carpenter has started work on the upstairs close off, and the propane tank was installed yesterday. The builder is using a portable propane heater in the basement to keep the house warm while construction goes on. It is quite effective, but I worry about it running unattended.

My ceramic tile project in the bathrooms is coming along. I got the underlayment bedded and screwed down in one bathroom tonight. Tomorrow morning I tackle the other one, which is off the master bedroom. I should have it bedded and screwed down in 2 or 3 hours, and by afternoon, I will be able to start cutting tile for the other. It is a lot of work, but it does give the house some class.

Keeping the old house together has had its problems, and this winter the oil furnace has been causing more than its share of trouble. In very cold weather, the fuel tends to congeal, since the tank is outside. I will see if I can find some heat tape to keep the line warm, but in the meantime, I am trying to keep the problem section of the line warm enough by placing a droplight next to a particularly troublesome area of the line where it comes out of the tank. Oh well, this house will be my problem for only another month or so.

An attempt to become a soccer super-star a few years ago saw me meeting and subsequently befriending (please don’t ask why) the most emotionally challenged clique I’d known since my years at St Joseph’s Girls High. These “so-called” women had university degrees, were artistically talented and quite witty, so it took a while for me to see what was obvious to everybody else. Well truthfully, I wasn’t exactly the Dalai Lama of emotional security myself, hence I endured their company for much longer than was conducive to anybody’s good.

It was obvious from the start that my middle eastern appearance and manner presented some sort of challenge to them and unbeknowns to me at the time, they kept secret from me or well out of my reach the men they were seeing or interested in. This of course couldn’t last forever, and by some fateful meddling, I was eventually introduced to the infamous “shag list”. Now the shag list was not a list of how many people these women had shagged. It was a list of people (well men) who they wanted to shag. It went a bit like this:

“I want to sleep with that guy” – on the list;

“I may want to sleep with that guy” – on the list;

“I have wanted to sleep with that guy” – on the list;

“I don’t want to sleep with that guy, but given the right amount of alcohol” – on the list;

“I don’t want to sleep with that guy, but I don’t want any of my friends to” – ON THE LIST!

And on and on and on it went. And then of course, there was the long list and the short list, but please, let’s not even go there.

Needless to say, a lot of unnecessary enquiry and confrontation ensued. “B, I told you I wasn’t sure whether or not to put Adam on my list and you flirted with him all night?” “No I didn’t, I don’t even like him.” “You did and you do like him.” “Did I and do I? Maybe I do, I didn’t think I did… hang on a minute, I don’t like Adam and what kind of a conversation is this anyway?” Well unfortunately or not, this wasn’t the last of these dialogues and two years later, I left the clique much to the delight of all involved, especially me.

Looking back now, I guess I could have done something better with my time, but it was worth it for the hours of humour it provided me and other friends. And I have to say, throughout the whole ordeal, I remained listless!

Incidentally, we lost every game of soccer we ever played!

No evidence linking Iraq to Al-Qai...oh look, Mars!

Perhaps I'm just a terminal cynic, but I couldn't help feeling that the story on of Colin Powell admitting publicly to a complete lack of hard evidence linking Iraq to Al-Qaida both before and after the war and the timing of Bush's GRAND SOOPER SPACE EXPLORASHUN PLANZ wasn't a coincidence.

How was that for a run-on sentence?

The Mars lander had just phoned home. Pictures were flowing back down in grandiose and possibly dishonest color, but gorgeous pictures nonetheless. 'We're back!' enthused NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, pouring champagne for the Mars Exploration Rover team on live T.V. Suddenly, Americans turn their attention to space for a happy reason, a good reason; maybe for the first time since Columbia's deep burn.

"Let's go to the Moon! And Mars!" shouts Dubya, outlining a bold plan involving manned space exploration. This from the administration that has kept attempting to smash the NASA budget - advocating a plan that actually seems to make little sense even on first glance. If you're going to Mars, why do you need a base on the moon? Why fight *two* gravity wells to get there? Why bother putting people on the Moon, where every last bit of supply must be shipped up? Why not simply assemble a transfer vehicle in orbit and launch from there?

Well, see, it doesn't really matter. Dubya's Brave New World isn't supposed to have humans actually leave the rock until around 2014 or so - long after he's comfortably retired.

But Colin's admission of complete fraud on the part of the Administration - no WMD, no evidence of them, Valerie Plame's hubby's report, and now no Al-Qaida links - is safely 'below the seam' on the second or third page of CNN, happening as it did the same news day as the announcement. Hordes of Americans ignore the dreary political news and rush happily to the dreams, lapping it up as Dubya tries to cover himself in a JFK/Apollo-esque cloak.

Of course, Apollo may have only happened because JFK got shot, and no-one in Congress dared kill it after that.

Went for a walk with Stickan today. He was as always inspirational, makes me feel like I have something to contribute to the world. We walked through the frozen park over the hill, past the seal enclosure. We stopped to take some pictures of the frozen waterfall above the enclosure and the new stairway of ponds leading down that hill. I thought about how the series of falls would aerate and cleanse the water.

Walking was very crunchy with all the gravel, and damn slippery where there was no gravel. I could have landed on my head a couple times if not for luck.

We stopped for café au lait in the park restaurant, admiring the women and chatting. The coffee was weak but drinkable. I felt we touched on interesting ground around the fear of anger, and the way relationships very much depend on a belief in a future.

Walking back, we got into talking about writing, I told him about E2 and he told me about his book projects. He said he would send me something to read, looking forward to that.

Life is good.

Willful ignorance, and a steadfast refusal to face the truth.

It was a relief to see the Office of the President finally say something about the WMD’s and the links to Al Queda. It was long overdue, but then so was the invasion of Iraq. Overall the military action was past due, it was the way the politicians decided to market it to the American people that has been poorly planned. Politicians and capitalists underestimate Americans intelligence.

The war on terror has been going on in the rest of the world for a very long time and America has been too complacent about what others are forced to live with every day. Here’s a little perspective from someone who has experienced this and a few other wars from within the military culture. Discipline can't afford to be idealistic so most of us are realists and understand that war is the outcome of failed politics.

Abused in the service of the political masters of the time.

Hussein has used WMD’s in the past on the Kurds and it was more than likely he would again. He was playing the same game with the United Nations that Ho Chi Min played with the US during the Vietnam War. There would be some politicking, then Ho Chi Min would go back on his word, the US would increase their military actions and Ho Chi Min would back down, play nice for a while then it would start all over again. This went on for over a decade until the average lifespan of a fresh Lieutenant arriving in the militarized zones of Vietnam dwindled down to eight minutes.

Understandably the American people became outraged. We were sending men over there like they were some kind of disposable commodity in the name of diplomacy. Protests grew increasingly adamant and violent. Political and capitalistic corruption drove the war machine berserk. The military wanted Congress to call it a war, take aggressive and assertive action but still Ho Chi Min would turn belly up then slip a knife into our back. The people finally saw the horrible truth and we left with our tails between our legs to come home to misplaced derision and scorn.

The cost of war does not end with the last shot fired.

So did the protest movement save lives? Well yes and no. It saved American lives, but there were dire consequences. Shortly after the US and their allies pulled out of the Southeast Asian war arena things grew hideously worse. Pol Pot and his regime murdered millions of Cambodians.

Some of their blood is on our hands. If the US and our allies pull out of Iraq now what would be left to prevent another tyranny.

OPEC is still in the driver's seat.

    The Oil Embargo in October of 1973 will best be remembered for high gasoline prices, long lines to the pump, and the weekend rationing that tested the patience of every American. It also caused an unprecedented economic recession. Most importantly, however, was how the actions of a few authoritarian nations could undermine the economic stability of the West. With the twin specters of terrorism and Middle Eastern conflicts, can the United States weather another catastrophic disruption in its supply of oil?
That’s a good question, probably not. Two-thirds of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East, suggesting that the region will eventually dominate the global market again. The US economy after September 11, 2001 is still shaky. After the oil embargo the US reduced drilling for oil in the US and began to stockpile. We sent over our best geophysicists to help the Middle East set up their lucrative oil fields. Hussein built palaces lined with gold, gassed the Kurds, murdered ten of thousand of “thieves” let his sons rape women for sport and played games with the UN inspectors. The Iraqi people deserve better, I have no pity for Saddam and we need to get a lot busier on alternative fuel supplies.

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot.

Martin Luther King taught us that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. Each year on Memorial Day Beryl a dear relation and the widow of a Veteran attends the ceremonies at Ft Huachuca. She cries every time calling it "bittersweet and precious.” She thanks the soldiers personally who prepare and present the observances. It touches her profoundly.

For many years I would see homeless veterans on certain corners. There were regulars that would arrive to the warmer climes of the desert every fall, but many of them didn’t show up last winter. Beryl also volunteers for the Veteran’s Hospital here in Tucson and was commenting on the striking difference in attitudes among Americans when comparing the welcome homes the soldiers get today to the ones returning from Nam. She says that most of them here have gone underground and the Veteran Affairs Division has to find them to give them their benefits by word of mouth. They no longer trust the American people or her government.

Moreover, that whole generation was gathered to their ancestors, and another generation grew up after them, who did not know.
-Judges 2:10 (NRSV)

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