Filed under: — lana @ 8:23 pm

I had another topic to write about, but it will have to wait until later in the week. At the moment, my mind is boggled. I try to avoid waxing political, as it has a nasty habit of making enemies, but this one is unavoidable.

Islamic fighters (read: Somali junior terrorists) have vowed to fight the pirates in the Horn of Africa because they captured a Saudi Arabian flagged vessel.

Let me figure out everything that is strange about this. Maybe not everything, because that might take too long, but at least a few things.

First, the oil tanker was captured getting up on a week ago. It took these crazies a week to figure out that their Muslim bretheren were upset because their ship was taken. Off their coast. By people who came out of their country. Who presumably are not representative of the Somali government and, by terror affiliation, therefore most likely affiliated with these second-rate terrorists hanging around in Moghadishu. So much for situational awareness and figuring out what your people are up to in a timely manner.

Second, they seem to have ignored that an Iranian vessel was captured not too long ago. Now, true, the Iranian vessel was under Chinese flag at the time, so those zany pirates must have gotten confused, but nevertheless the owners were Muslim brothers. So much for Sunni or Shi’a, Arab or Persian, everyone join the Jihad. I believe the ransom was paid on that one.

Third, as alluded to, the money the pirates have been getting hasn’t exactly been sitting in a Swiss bank somewhere or in an offshore account in the Caymans. It goes to weapons and equipment, and not just for pirating. It goes to terror operations. Coincidentally, as I have pointed out, the extremists holding tight in Somalia’s capital are conducting some of these operations. Now, sure, some of that money probably goes to the Sudan and the Congo and Waziristan, but somehow I doubt that the pseudo-government of extremists is not getting any of the profits from this. They are cut of the same cloth.

Which brings me to my final rant, the comment that the fighters said that they are going to fight for this one because this Saudi vessel in particular should never have been attacked because they are Muslim brothers. Seriously? Nothing wrong with them violently taking anyone else’s stuff? Nothing wrong with them holding nationalities of all types hostage? There have been Muslims on other boats, my friends, and really why does it matter? Is pirating wrong, or is just pirating against Muslims wrong? Is this not the very discrimination that you are fighting against in Western states?

A word to extremists, not just Muslim but any flavor: the world will not convert to one religion. Sorry. Faith just can’t be manipulated that way. But I have just as much of a right to fish off the horn of Africa without my boat being invaded by a band of thieves as much as someone flying the crescent moon. And my hope would be that were I to be taken, my flag wouldn’t matter when it came to someone coming to my rescue.

Key difference, though, is that I would be carrying a weapon. Probably more than one were I so silly to be fishing in that region. So bring it on, Captain Blackdishdasha, because I would rather stick up for myself than have hypocrites such as these Islamic Fundamentalists come to my aid anyway.


Out and About

Filed under: — lana @ 1:15 am

Well, today was a milestone:

My husband is officially on terminal leave. Five and a half years of service when he signed up for four, three deployments, a host of medical problems, and a year together with his wife spaced around deployments and moves and courses and time playing in the woods.

And yet his message, left on my phone while I was in class, went nearly verbatim:

“Well, I guess I’m officially out. I got my Dragon Stamp, I cleared Fort Bragg, I’m out…


… I hope I made the right decision.”

My husband and I are vastly different. I love to travel, he hates planes and boats and long car rides and countries where he has to learn how to ask for a cup of coffee. I love to climb mountains, he would rather be on the beach. He loves to fish, I scare them away because I’m too entertained by the sound the rod makes when you cast and haven’t the patience to wait for a fish to eat a worm just to hear it again. I got a six year degree in four years, he vaguely remembers high school. The ways in which we are different are too many to be counted. Most people just look at us together and shake their heads.

But we are similar in many ways as well, though more subtle. We both love music, pasta, and when he cooks on the grill. We love animals (the fuzzy, inedible kind… and when it’s a bug larger than my fingernail I make him dispose of it for me. Sure, I shoot guns, but I am unwilling to put a hole in my wall every time I see a bug and so help me will not go near a living cockroach), friends, and family. We respect each other and our differences.

And we both love our jobs.

I am not surprised that my husband is already having regrets about leaving the military; I suspect I will feel the same way when I go get whatever they call the final clearing stamp wherever I am. And it isn’t a poor economy or a frightening job market that is making him worried, it is the genuine concern that he might really be leaving what he was meant to do.

He doesn’t really want to go back to build sandcastles or rock sculptures, and his health isn’t really the best for it anyway. But he will miss his job. He might miss the structure, the cameraderie, or even just the general silliness of the way things are run that provide enough excuses to come home at night for a beer. But really, he will miss the job.

I think if he is affiliated with some way to the military, he will be okay, be it contracting or government work. If he goes back to the things he did before he joined, that is where I think he will start to fail himself. He is strong, but he is someone who was lucky enough to find himself in what he did. Not all people get that opportunity, finding their calling. He is tired, he is frustrated, really most people are in this Big Green Machine, but he has found what he is meant to do, and when he got that stamp today I think he saw what it meant.

Is it freedom or no? I have no idea right now, as I’m not in his head. All I know is that I have a feeling that within the next few years I will be standing where he is right now, feeling whatever it is he is feeling. I can’t imagine there are too many ways to feel when you close a chapter in your life, and possibly when you walk away from what it is you were meant to do.

I don’t think he is done. I know I won’t be. He keeps rank for two years, and there will always be a recruiter around the corner looking to make quota.

But at least he gets a vacation for a bit, and calling or not, we could all use a vacation once in awhile.


Just Another Day?

Filed under: — lana @ 10:12 pm

I suppose, it being Veteran’s Day Eve and all, that commentary is somewhat required. Parades, a day off for some if not most, and an excuse for a four-day weekend for some.

Several friends of mine just arrived back in sunny, humid Kuwait, sending me emails asking when it is I can join them for another round of fun in the sun. They are being facetious, I know, because they are well aware that could I join them, I would.

There are some things people are just meant to do in the world, and some things people aren’t meant to do. Regardless, I believe that everyone, regardless of social status or situation, should be required to do some sort of community or country service, be it volunteer at a food shelter, help build homes for natural disaster victims, or get shot at for the pay of a diner waitress. It raises the awareness of people, makes them realize that there is a bigger world out there than their little bubble, and forces people to acknowledge that no matter how bad things are, they could always be worse, so quit complaining and apply yourself. Make your own life better while helping someone else, and don’t wait for some handout when you haven’t done anything to help someone else.

That jazz doesn’t always fly, I realize, but in the absence of such requirements there are still those that volunteer for service, regardless of the type of service they provide. To some, such as myself, they end up seeing it as a career, a calling, what they were meant to do. It provides fulfillment. To others, it is a time-filler or just a way to pay for an education or because it pays something and the job market is awful. But the service is there, and no matter the reason it still changes everyone who performs.

To continue my diatrabe, then there are also the people out there who deserve the thanks from those whom they helped, wittingly or unwittingly. Those that send care packages, those that send emails or even regular letters, those that just answer the phone even when it is some strange hour because they know it can be hard to keep time zones straight when you have been overseas for too long. Those that acknowledge what it is that someone else is doing that is helping them, and in return help the helpers in whatever small way they can, they deserve recognition as well.

So really, Veteran’s Day shouldn’t really need to be a special day marked off on the calendar, though I admit the four-day weekend is always a lovely perk in my schedule so it’s nice to have it around. Every day should see people volunteering, people thanking each other for whatever part they play, and people being greatful for things around them.

All that happiness, were it to be worldwide, might very well put me out of a job. However, I have enough confidence in the human race that we could handle at least a little more kindness without threatening my livelihood.

So, in general, thanks.


Class Reunion

Filed under: — lana @ 1:33 pm

I suppose one of the nice things about being in such a small field is that no matter where you go, you are bound to run into several people you know.

I also suppose, however, that one of the terrible things about being in such a small field is that no matter where you go, you are bound to run into several people who know you.

Arizona is a mandatory retreat for those of us in my job, so every time I come here I never have to worry much about what I am going to do on a given weekend, only how I am going to be able to do everything that everyone wants to do on Army per diem rates. I have friends that are fellow students, friends that are instructors, friends that are looking for jobs, and friends that are just passing through. I make new friends with each visit, but a simple trip to the bar yields two more friends I didn’t know were in town with whom I now get to catch up.

The trouble is that in addition to those you might be happy to see again after months or years, there are always those you might not have wanted to cross paths with again. Make that ever again. Actually, maybe make that ever, ever again. Those tend to float around as well, and the town is small and in the middle of the high desert, so it is not as though there are many places to escape short of holing up in my hotel. While they have improved the hotel gym recently, there is still only so long I can go without human contact beyond the front desk.

So it becomes a game, as many things do for me. I try to anticipate or elicit information on where those I wish to avoid might be heading for the evening, and try to convince others that the little Mexican joint on the other side of town is much better for dinner than wherever they wanted to go, which always seems to be the exact same place the undesireable sort are dining. I find it keeps me in practice for my job, somewhat, and the motivation for successful operations is very high. I get to learn more, practice my skills, and have as good of a time as possibe with my limited alcohol allocation.

Really I can’t complain much. I never get jet lag despite my 18 or so hours of travel, I have already made new friends, I am doing well in the class as of day two of being back after four months, and am about to have lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in about five years.

Now if he will just agree to go to a little sandwich shop I heard about in the next town over…

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