Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Next President?

No, just me in my Halloween Costume

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blast from the Past

I got an email from an old friend recently. When I say "old friend," I don't mean a friend who is significantly older than me, and I'm not speaking about someone I've known a long time and am still close friends with. No, in this case, I'm talking about a friend who used to be inseparable from me, but time and circumstances have taken us apart. He got a facebook account and emailed me to let me know. Here's my reply... slightly edited to removed names...

Got your Facebook email. Sorry for the slow response. I don’t have a facebook account and don’t plan to get one – for now. There are few reasons for this…

-My 16-year-old daughter has a facebook account. She’s a bit of a slacker at school, but overall she’s a good, responsible kid. As long as she keeps her shit wired, I want to give her some areas that are dad-free. Facebook is one of the areas I chose as a dad-free zone. (Of course, as I say this, understand that I know her username and password, so I can snoop if I need to.)

-I already blog, write in a long-running journal, play Xbox 360 occasionally, play guitar and so forth. I need to make sure that I don’t have so many hobbies that my family suffers, and I know how much time facebook can consume.

-As a computer geek, I already spend too much time on the computer.

-I don’t like the idea that any Tom, Dick or Harry can search for me on Facebook.

That said though, your comment about entering boot camp 22 years ago really hit home and brought back a lot of memories of time we spent together…

-Meeting you as we checked in at NAS Millington. I don’t remember much about the conversation, but I recall sitting in those plastic chairs in the hall, chatting quietly as we waited for our names to be called for check-in.

-Finding out that your platoon, [31xy], and my platoon, [31zz], were arch-rivals in boot camp.

-How we both stood back and laughed to ourselves as our platoon-mates tried to beat the snot out of each other before the Drill Instructors came and broke shit up. That moment told me that we were birds of a feather.

-Hanging around with you and [Name omitted] in Millington.


-Trying to burn your cammies on that windy, windy night at Balboa beach. If I remember correctly, it was a celebration of your discharge from the suck. But it was so windy that they wouldn’t light, so we tossed them off the end of Balboa pier.

-[You],[Me], and Jennifer squared. [We were both dating girls name Jennifer at the time]

-Beth [Name omitted]. When she worked at the PX, we both thought she was cute. You asked her out. I stole her from you. I got deployed. You stole her back. We understood the whole “bro’s before ho’s” thing. You took one for the team by giving her up. I took one for the team by finding out she had the clap before you stole her back.

-Gayle [Name omitted]. You thought she was cute. You asked her out. I stole her from you. That was twice you took one for the team. It took me a long time to realize exactly how fucked up that was. We were a team, and I took advantage of that shit once too often. I don’t know whether or not I ever expressed regret for stealing chicks from you. If not, please consider this my formal apology. I hope you consider this my only transgression.

-The countless weekends in Oceanside with your family… home-cooked meals… hating the fact that we were Jarheads in one of the biggest Marine towns in the country

-Trips to Palomar Mountain… driving a Hyundai up and down the twisty roads, pretending that we were race car drivers. Hitting the observatory just so we could have snowball fights.

-“… E… i… n…i… Encinitas” (One of my personal favorites)

-Driving to (insert town here) to get a newspaper and a Coke. San Francisco was my favorite.

-You and your General Hospital

-Drinking beer in the barracks

-Two words… Ranch House. The Ranch House, by the way, no longer exists.

-Exploring the rocky beaches between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach

-Driving up and down PCH

-Cruising I-5 and I-405 in the Hyundai, with my pink Fisher-Price telephone on the dash, and you writing shit in a spiral notebook. “Show us your tits.” I’m still surprised how often we got chicks to pull over and talk to us with that shit!

-The profound sense of injustice I felt when you were discharged in 1991. I was happy for you, but I knew it was the closing of a chapter in my life. I wondered how I’d go on without my best friend there beside me… hoping that we’d stay in touch like they did in those AT&T commercials, assuming that we would fly or drive, whatever the cost and whatever the distance, at least occasionally, to see other.

-The slow realization that we were drifting apart… the denial… the anger… and finally, the wistful acceptance. It’s been 17 years since we last spoke face to face. I still look back on our time with incredible fondness. I still wonder what you’re up to, and I’m still open to getting together with you in the future. I’ve long since stopped hoping that circumstances would bring us together… a work conference… a cross-country trip… whatever. I get that we’ve gone our separate ways, but I still get the urge to talk to you and I continue to hold out the hope that one day our paths cross again. You were an important chapter in my life. You made my enlistment much happier, and my life much fuller.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Is it Possible to Simply Disagree

"Did you take a stupid pill?" These were the first words my brother said to me when he called me last night. Immediately after that he started trying to lecture me out of supporting Obama.

"How can you support him?" I explained that I wanted to support McCain, but McCain talked me out of supporting him by starting the mudslinging instead of sticking to the issues, through his proposal of taxing health care benefits, and through his selection of Sarah Palin, who I think it severely lacking in intellectual prowess. He responded by calling me naive. Apparently he believed that he could insult me into changing my vote. Instead, I told him that I no longer agree with McCain or his policies. I also told him that calling me naive was NOT the way to get me to change my mind.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Call Me Nero

Based on my last couple of posts, you've probably noticed that I'm paying attention to what's going on in the world around me. Bush is finally on his way out, meaning that one way or another things are going to change. Okay, I really don't believe that. I think that Democrats and Republicans are cut from the same cloth... they're just different sides of the same itchy, chafing piece of burlap.

While this happens, the global economy is collapsing before our eyes. Trillions of dollars (a sum of money I really can't put my little brain around) have evaporated... literally disappeared. My own retirement fund has lost 1/3 of its value in the last year. The press is calling this the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and I can't disagree with them.

With all of this happening around me, I have occasionally seen myself start to worry about the future... wondering how I'm going to get through this... how my wife will get through this... how it will impact my kids. I witness Wall Street's nosedive and think that each additional day of declines is another year or two that I'll have to work... a sacrifice I will have to make but can't quantify, because it's in the future. It would be easy to work myself into hysteria.

But I'm not going to do that. I have enough. I have enough for today. I have a wonderful wife, awesome kids, great friends and a kick-ass life. I can plan for tomorrow... for a decade from now, but I can't account for every contingency. And the more I try, the less I can enjoy today.

Besides, the money that's evaporating never really existed anyway. It's not real currency, it's money on paper. This type of currency doesn't really exist until you cash out. Furthermore, it's time to bring things back into perspective. We, as a country, haven't really suffered since WWII. During the Great Depression and WWII, we had to band together and do without in order to survive. Since then, yeah, a few have suffered, but for the most part we've lived a cush life. The baby boomers don't know what it's like to scrimp and save. They're selfish, which is a huge reason that our biggest problems -- such as Social Security -- have been put off and put off.

Now it's time to pay the piper. And I'm ready. That's right. I acknowledge that I haven't suffered. Life's been good to me so far, but I'm smart enough to know that things can't continue this way without the shit hitting the fan. The longer we put things off, the more shit... the bigger the fan... and the bigger the splatter. I say bring it on now. Unlike the Baby Boomers, who are unable or unwilling to deal with crisis, I am ready, willing and able to tackle our problems head-on, so my kids don't have to.

So, while our economy goes up in flames, I'm not going to scream and run in fear; I'm going to say "Pass the marshmallows."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Still Watching the Train Wreck

I was hanging out at a friend's house last night, helping him do some stuff around the house. I asked him if he was going to watch the Presidential debate. "Nah," he answered, "but we can turn it if you want to watch it." I figured he hadn't planned to see it, and was pleasantly surprised when he offered to change the channel so I could watch.

"I don't think I'm going to vote," he said during the debate. His wife came out and echoed his sentiment. They both believe that nothing will change as long as we have a two-party system of Democrats and Republicans. I can't say that I really disagree with their rationale, but I can't support their decision.

My understanding is that Ron Paul realized that he's not going to win any Presidential elections, but understands he has a vocal minority, so he held a rally and basically said if you don't support either major candidate, you can still vote for none of the above, and with that introduced some of the fringe party candidates. I told my friend and his wife about this, and recommended that they vote for someone else... at least they're making their voices heard. But I'm digressing... I wanted to talk about the debate.

Okay, maybe not... there were no real surprises, except that McCain failed to whallop Obama in what is widely accepted a McCain's favorite forum, and the fact that McCain proposed the buyout program.

Anyway, I walked out of the debate still wanting to support McCain, but even more convinced that Obama is the guy. Regardless of what I think though... please vote. Even if you don't choose one of these two guys, voice your opinion.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Train Wreck

I don't want to watch, but I can't help myself. Yep, it's once again time for me to talk about politics and the economy.

Did anyone out there watch the Vice-Presidential debate? I certainly did. I wanted to see if Palin is as clueless as Tina Fey made her out to be in her SNL skits. The answer? I think Tina Fey went easy on Palin. After the debate, the political pundits -- apparently trying to appear neutral -- said that she held her own against Joe Biden. I can't help but wonder if we watched the same debate. I had three jokes that I had considered turning in to SNL for this week's inevitible skit. One was how Palin kept referring to Alaska as an energy-producing state. If you didn't know that going in to the debate, you sure knew it afterwards. The second joke was how Palin said that she may not answer the questions to the moderator or Biden's liking... 'In fact, I won't answer the question at all if it doesn't discuss Alaska's energy producing prowess.' The third joke was her frequent reference to McCain as a maverick, and how she somehow earned the right to use that term as an accurate description of her own record.

Biden impressed me. He kept his answers short... and they were answers... a stark contrast to the Tina Fey look-alike. I was specifically impressed with Biden's willingness to point his finger at the camera for emphasis. This has historically been a no-no, which is why Bill Clinton always did that annoying thumb-point thing. I also liked Biden's comment that Cheney was trying to re-write the Constitution in order to make himself a member of the Senate. Biden struck me as someone who attempted to answer questions in a forthright manner, backing his statements up with facts as he understood them. (Yes, I know that some things were twisted for partisan gain.) Palin came across as a talking head.

This is horribly disappointing. I've long been a McCain supporter. I long considered him to be a good presidential candidate. After the democratic election, McCain started a mud-slinging campaign, and that made me pause. When he chose Palin as his running-mate I remained neutral about the decision... until she spoke. Now, I just can't see myself voting for McCain. Obama and Biden have impressed me, and McCain has disappointed me.

Let's talk about that economic stimulus package for a little bit... you know, the $700 billion bailout. I'm not sure what to think about the whole thing. Part of me realizes that I'm not the expert, so I should take the word of people who actually have a little authority on the subject. They say we need this, so we need this.

But why now? We've been heading down this road for years... why is it so suddenly such an emergency that the president screamed the sky is falling, and congress acted so swiftly that the measure was passed in two weeks? And for those of you who don't remember, the last time our illustrius leader said that, we ended up invading Iraq.

And why should the fat cats get all of this money? A friend of mine -- who's a hard-core democrat -- summarized things beautifully when he said 'Look, politicians scream about handouts that help poor people pay their rent and put food on their table, but now that the super rich are demanding a handout, it's a done deal.' That's a great point. A couple of days later, I got an email that said 'Hey, instead of bailing out Wall Street with that $700 Billion, why don't you give to the American people?' Another great point. Taking the email at face value, that works out to about $250,000 per adult -- after taxes. If there are two adults in the household, that would be a cool half a mil! Imagine what we could do with that kind of money... pay off our homes... pay off our credit cards, student loans, automobiles... If the government wanted to stimulate the global economy, I can't think of a better way... but no, they gave it to Wall Street. And wouldn't you know it, the street is already saying it's not enough.