Sunday, August 22, 2004

If words could describe!

Hey everyone (whoever that might be)!!

I found a connection on this desolate plot of ground! It's fingers are tingling with the excitement! I'm sitting in a chair in a barracks on North
Fort Lewis and listening to Charlie Flight run around fixing their racks (beds) on their personal time. It's quite the racket and it's kind of surreal actually--this is no new things. This whole week, so far, has been one surreal string of wackiness (for lack of a better term in this oddball situation). I've seen rain, shine, yelling and screaming, foozball, officers, naps...oh, just a lot of stuff! It's at moments like these that I wish I had photo posting on this blog! There are LOT of available pictures I that could be up--oh well.

Encampment is great! I'm working with some great people and it's an all around smashing time. There was one senior who was good enough to lend me his computer... I don't know what some others would think but for now... I'm almost laughing--that's probably because I'm finally getting my fix. :)

I shouldn't spend too much time on this... Again, I don't know if I will be able to access this again any time soon but I hope so. Cheers everyone and have a happy rest of the summer!


Sunday, August 15, 2004

I'm vanishing...for a little bit

I'm busy these days. I think this is one of the worst times I could pick to post an update, but I'm doing it because I'd rather not have to do it later!

Folks, I'm leaving on Wednesday the 18th. I won't be back home till Monday, September 6. There's a lot that could happen between now and then--some things I don't know yet but here's what I do know.

The first segment of my travels will take me to North Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington. As I have mentioned before, I am the cadet Executive Officer for this year's Summer Encampment (for Washington Civil Air Patrol). It's a rigorous one and a half weeks of constant moving with little sleep or rest. I have much to prepare before then and that is another one of my more immediate problems (one of the reasons I shouldn't be posting right now).

Encampment ends on Saturday the 28th. However, I will be leaving the day before because I have a plane to catch on the 28th in Seattle. I will be headed to Ontario, Canada for our church youth conference. Considering how tired I will be after encampment and adding the jetlag on top of that, I can only speculate on what qualities my mind and body will take on. If I am fortunate, I might even discover a whole new side to my personality!

This trip will somehow wrap-up in September. I know the Millers (my sister Sarah's in-laws and our good friend from New York) have made it very clear that we should come and stay at their house for the final weekend after the conference. It's either that or stay in Canada (not all that exciting) over the last weekend. This will, however, require some more coordination with some of the people at the conference. I do not know if there is someone willing to drive Rebekah and I over the border ahead of the normal scheduled trip. Yes, another thing on which to expend precious stress energy!

On my return...

I have another eye appointment on September 7th--if, that is, I am still right in the head by that time. On the following day (the 8th), registration at Western starts!

Somehow this is all going to come together! Somehow I am going to have everything ready for encampment and still enjoy myself in the process.

And yes, one final thought before this ends...

"Lord Willing!"

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Over the [spinning] top


"A journalist? You want to be a journalist?!"

No, please, don't get me wrong. Just because my major is Journalism doesn't make me a journalist in-training.


He! You're right! That made no sense at all so I'll settle for saying that learning the journalistic style of writing was essential for me early on as an writer. I remember coming near disillusionment when I took my first Journalism class! It was weird! I was trying to be exact and make sure that everyone knew all the details of what I meant to say! So yes, words abounded--until Journalism entered my soul! Sometimes words come back to haunt me in seemingly insurmountable numbers but the journalist in me is the "V" weapon that will inevitably win out!

Other than "style," what do you think it means to be a reporter today? Do we need reporters or newspapers, or any news medium at all for that matter? My answer is, yes! If......

If, that is, there is actually news worth reporting. There is the key. There will undoubtedly always be news worth reporting. Therefore is should follow that it will always be reported. Unfortunately this is not the case. Instead, you see a psychotic habit among mainstream journalists. Reporters who once felt a need to report news that was actually newsworthy have now abolished all rational thought in picking their material. It is a habit which breeds lunacy--the lunacy of spin.

Spin? Yes, spin is a wonderful thing! It is what a liberal media uses to keep their balance in a country largely at odds with their values. They are like a spinning top; they are too dizzy with spinning to know which way to fall...

And so, the spinning continues--largely in the form of lunatic decisions about what is newsworthy. Understand now, that anything will qualify in the mind of a liberal journalist--if it advances the proper agenda. To put this in perspective, let me theorize for a bit. Suppose it were possible to delete every serious news event from the world. Suppose nothing happened even as life went on! Now, what do you think would happen? Would we see any major newspapers fold (pun intended)? Would we have journalists running around on the streets, banging on doors in search of a real job? Is this really what we would see?

Well, I really don't think they would know it if something like that happened. Think of it. How would someone accustomed to creating news ex nihilo possibly know when there was no more real news available to cover. They would still be hard at "work." One would find something newsworthy about the crack in the concrete at his feet (global warming!). Another one would have a reading on earthworms per square foot in Tanzania (extinction!). Yet another would have conducted a survey to find out how many state universities in Washington have more conservative students than the total number of faculty. To top it all off--you might even have a reporter go to the Democratic National Convention!

But until we can arrange for these people a universe like the above one I described, they should still be held accountable for what they miss. After all, there is real news out there! As hard as it is for the common reporter's to grasp, a bunch of honorable Vietnam Veterans dispelling a rampant myth about a senator's war record with undeniable facts, could perhaps be a newsworthy topic! Wait, there's more!

The vets write a book, pay for a TV ad and publish a website of their own. Why? Well, because they weren't newsworthy enough to be covered by the mainstream press and media.

Folks, there's one more thing I have to cover before I sign off.

The one thing that keeps the "mainstream" reporters mainstream, is the simple fact that mainstream America still listens to them!

"Sure," you say. "What else is there? I need to find out what's happening in the world. It's not like I am believing everything I am fed!"

Oh no? How many American's are under the delusion that Saddam was not pursuing WMDs? Too many! These are not only liberal couch potatoes being convinced of this. They are people like you and me who hear some offhand comment by a TV news anchor. A comment like "If Saddam had been pursuing WMDs..." Just a little fraction of a second, but enough to make a dubious claim sound so factual as to not be an issue!

That's all I'm going to say tonight but, believe me, it sure isn't half of what could be said!


I have, since writing this post, re-read it and almost given up on trying to straighten it out (for lack of immediate time)! It's really a mess in my opinion--maybe you don't think so and that is fine with me! I think I have succeeded in confusing myself and just about everyone who reads it!

In my defense:

I was told I needed to update the blog by an impatient reader. It was late when I started it and I finished at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. I had gotten up quite early that morning and was a in the process of accumulating a massive sleep deficit! I was more than a little tired--and yes, I did write some of those sentences in my sleep (really I did)!

I will leave it as is and perhaps come back to it in a month or so. Till then I will leave you to ponder just how low a "writer" can come.

Tata for now!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

A day of hope

There's a festive atmosphere! It's not Christmas, Independence Day, Thanksgiving or even April Fools! No, this is simply a wonderful day for this small body of believers. My cousin Josh and his wife Wendy welcomed a new daughter into their family circle this last Tuesday--their third daughter. Reagan Frances Neff. Josh has always had a thing for Reagan--as do I. Josh was fortunate enough to meet him not too many years ago and I can only imagine what that felt like. I think of all the people I would have loved to meet, he would be right up there in the top five or so. We have a picture of Josh, his Dad, and Ronald Reagan together in his California office--I've looked and looked at that picture, always having trouble *understanding* that it is real. My mind wants to take that dignified picture of Reagan and imagine him as a simple cut-out. It's a matter of making the familiar and the historic connect! It's just so hard to make it believable in my mind.

No matter. Josh now has three girls on his hands and he's already thinking ahead--trying to imagine what it will be like! Our prayers go with him...hehe.

Today we also celebrated our pastor and his wife's 25th wedding anniversary! That was exciting. I'm was so glad that we didn't just let it slip by. There was a cake and a shin-dig after the evening service and it was just a wonderful time to enjoy each other--fellow members of Christ's body traveling the same road. I couldn't help but appreciate the wonderful warmth that only brothers and sisters in Christ can share! It was there and I can only thank God for His faithfulness.

As some readers might have noted, I have recently been a little overwrought about our congregation's future. None of my concern has changed. I am just thankful that God is turning my worry into hope. He is showing me what can be and I am still eager for better things but at the same time, He is also showing me just how faithful he has already been. Now, I can only look on in awe and gratitude. So much that could be wrong, is not. More than that, there is a beautiful unity and peace among our members. Thanks be to God alone.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

To The Village and back

It's a good movie, it really is! Seeing The Village last night was one of the best things I did this week! The trip to the theater in general was almost as good as the movie. I got the dubious honor of being the carpool--yes I did volunteer so I'm not complaining--I would have taken a nap in the car if I hadn't. Yeah, I was pretty tired. My good friend Jason, on the other hand, riding shotgun, wasn't a bit tired. He'd drunk his second dose of coffee on an empty stomach (at least that was his excuse), and was a very lively chatterbox. I don't mind a chatterbox, mind you, I was just impressed at his stamina. For such an old man he does pretty well!

Ok, so the movie was an even better show than Jason's exploration of my glove box, my owners manual and my everything-having-to-do-with-the-car. As good as it was to listen to him read aloud from the page on the car's over-drive, I think I was even more impressed with the acting and intriguing plot of M. Night Shyamalan's latest "Supernatural thriller...set in a small Pennsylvania town near the end of the 19th century."--that, according to MSN Entertainment. I'm really not sure where they came up with the "supernatural" description. I'm not giving away any secrets by telling you it is not supernatural.

With regard to my own thoughts, I don't think I can say anything intelligent until I see it at least twice. Then I will have latched onto the specifics of what I liked so much. I mean, one of the best parts of the movie is a quiet dialogue between two young people on the porch in the fog in the middle of the night! Now, how do I go about explaining all that made this scene so beautiful? There's so much there that to do it justice would require a dissertation of sorts--I don't do dissertation yet.

Folks, I'm done for the moment... Oh, and Jason was quieter on the way home.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

One tired marine

I was on my way home from a CAP winter encampment and it was New Years Eve. Strange time for an activity, I know, but that's the way it goes with winter activities--they have to squeeze them into the oddest places to make them work.

My aunt and uncle had taken me to SeaTac so I could catch a shuttle bus up to Bellingham and I was just heading to the waiting area. When I got there, I noted that there were a good number of people already waiting--but that was not what I noticed first. Over to one side stood a marine in his green dress uniform with his luggage piled next to him. I'm not sure what motivated me to do it; maybe the empty space next to him was closer then the others; maybe I just felt comfortable around uniforms having spent the last week in one myself--I just stepped right over and dropped my luggage. In any case, it was the uniform that broke the ice between us. I wasn't in my uniform, mind you, I just didn't have a proper covering for the clothes in my luggage--just a see-through bag which made me almost as conspicuous as the marine himself! He saw the set of BDUs and immediately asked me where I was stationed... I wasn't quite sure how to explain to him that I was not in the military--that I just did this kind of thing part-time and paid money to do so--that I was a civilian in the Air Force Auxiliary and just a cadet at that!

He took what I could explain at face value but didn't seem to care--I felt a little guilty at how much he treated me like an equal. He talked to me about where he had been and where he was headed. He was originally from L.A. if I remember right and he was among the marines who first set foot in Baghdad only a little bit earlier, but his attitude was not proud or triumphant. That he didn't have fond memories about his experience there was obvious... In fact, since he was headed back after a short trip home, he was understandably depressed.

I was 19 at the time and as I would finally learn, he was younger. That was the toughest pill to swallow about the whole thing. It is hard to meet a tired marine, soldier, airman or sailor. It is hard to look in their eyes and find that the person doing incredible feats of bravery for a living on your behalf is the same person looking for comfort and sympathy from you.

When we boarded the bus he took a seat next to me and the trip was relatively uneventful. I learned he was heading to NAS Whidbey--I assumed to find transportation back to Iraq. When we hit Mt Vernon, there was another bus waiting for passengers headed west to the coast. It was his route and he didn't know it. He was obviously unfamiliar with the area so I asked him again if he was headed to NAS Whidbey and upon his confirmation I told him that this was where he was supposed to get off. He checked it out and got off just in time. I had planned to thank him when he left--I missed that chance unfortunately. He was practically running off the bus and didn't so much as look back or say anything--I wasn't going to hold him up.

I think back and wish I had gotten my chance to look him straight in the eye and thank him for what he was doing over there. Such a simple thing and it's the least he deserved! My friends, don't let those moments slip away. Better to risk embarrassing him (and maybe you) then to let one brave person think you care less than you do about the work he does. Don't let it happen. Don't give in to thinking that what you say doesn't matter to someone as tough as nails. He is a human being after all!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Current mode: campaign! (weirdities)

As mentioned in the previous post, Saturday was a very interesting day. I then went on to talk about what was notinteresting. That was not an oversight. I simply think that everything should be in it's proper place... Now that I have found the proper place I will begin to divulge a little bit of what made the day so "interesting" (and fun).

The parade route
It was a fine day for a parade. This was something for which I was totally ready and excited! I only saw two people I knew--this not being my hometown--but one of those people made up for this discrepancy! It was near the end of the route, I had just restocked my stack of literature, and was about to run to an untouched section of spectators when who should catch my eye but my old friend James!

James in a piece of work, I must say--the most unique guy with whom I have ever worked. Yes, I say worked because we both spent time on the staff of Horizon, the community college newspaper in Bellingham. It was not a very impressive publication but it saw a lot of growth about the time we were there. I was the Production/Design Editor and he was the Advertising Manager that fateful quarter our paths crossed. Since I was not taking very many credits that quarter, I decided to take the opportunity to write an opinion piece (my third and last to get published in Horizon). I didn't much want feedback from the other reporters, so when the appropriate deadlines came, I just submitted my drafts to the editor and faculty adviser. The final draft was no big deal to me, though. By that time, things were in place to my satisfaction. And so my piece went into the stack of material for final grammar editing. I was still a little concerned that I might be pressured to tone it down under the guise of "improving credibility." It didn't happen, though, because the editor had already given comment earlier as had the adviser. Everything would have been ready--ready that is, if it wasn't for James.

If I remember correct, he had been in the dumps all week because of some criticism he took for an ad he ran. I watched as he read through my article and came bouncing back! He said something in an excited tone to the editor, then looked over at me and said something about running another article along side. I said something about it being little late. He said something about writing something up that night in response to mine and finally the editor agreed to let him try. I wasn't sure what to think. I was sitting there wondering what would happen. I didn't quite have it all straight in my mind until the next day when I finally read what he wrote. My one article was now part of a "Point/Counterpoint" editorial! I was, of course, the "point" and he the "counter point" and I tempted to whine a little (maybe I did) about this obvious attempt at a little sabotage. I didn't come out swinging over it because 1, the editorial would probably get more readership if it was set up this way and 2, James had written his response over-night... Think Michael Moore and you might get a sense of his style!

To get to the point: There stood James and my reaction was immediate. I walked toward him and said, "Hey James! I've got something here for you!" He laughed and was gracious enough to accept what I handed him, saying that he should be doing some research anyway. Funny guy--not another person in the world have I met like him!

My "mode"
My feelings, running along the street that day, were something like an out-of-body experience (as if I really knew what that was). I started out simple enough--asking if people wanted some information about Dino Rossi, etc. It was only a ways into the parade when I started listening to myself again! I sounded like something out of a movie or maybe some kind of fast-talking tele-marketer (scary thought). Everything just kept pouring out of my mouth as if I wasn't even there--I was just mechanized or something! Folks, I don't know if this is normal or not! You tell me!

Doorbelling aftershocks
Doorbelling is simple enough. If you are feeling picky and nervous, you might be inclined to look for signs of party affiliation before you knock. It's not like it will change anything, but you will look for them none the less. I wasn't too nervous about it all--I've done this before and in worse neighborhoods. I just went (ran actually) from house to house with Jon (the guy working with me) and together we covered more than the other two groups in the area. I probably came off easier than Jon. I still laugh when I think about what I heard from his side of the street. I remember one time when I heard a door open and slam in the next instant! I looked over and even at that distance I could see a odd look on his face as he glanced at me. The worst I faced was a man who came to the door after I had moved on. He found the flier, looked my way and yelled something less then courteous. Next there was the nice old lady with a "proud Democrat" sticker on her door. She simply made a face somewhere between a grimace and a grin as she refused to take the literature.

It wasn't all gloom of course! I would tell you about all the weird and wonderful people on our side if I had the time. Unfortunately the only other fact I have time for is the most ironic one. It seemed that every street we covered had at least two people who had already received literature at the parade! What do you know! I guess the parade was worth the effort.

I don't know if I will have any more time for these pursuits this year but if I don't, I must say, it was fun while it lasted.

Current mode: campaign!

"Dino Rossi for governor! Would you like some information sir? Ok, have a great day! Good morning ma'am! Would you like some literature about Dino Rossi, the candidate for governor? How about you, sir?" etc, etc.

That's what you could hear spewing from my mouth on a parade route in Ferndale, Washington on Saturday, July 31. It was a long day and I must say I had a bit of fun with it all. I really hadn't done this kind of thing in while. I've been in a total of about 11 political floats in various parades over the years. My job in my younger days was, of course, not much more than sit and wave from the vehicle. Being 20 is apparently reason enough to take to the street and do the fun stuff.

Ferndale is less then friendly to Republicans. I speak from experience. I have been to one other parade in that city--that was 8 years ago and I must say this year was much better in terms of reception! I think there could be a general disenchantment with liberal budget policies and anti-business Democrats in this the state with the highest unemployment rate in the US. We are finding that many Dems, although totally anti-Bush, are waking up to someone like Dino Rossi. Rossi has a lot on his side when it comes to experience in the economy and state government. I am told that there have already been about 4 major donations from moderate Democrats!

It was a long day to be sure! The above post is my lengthy list of resulting weirdities that I deemed worthy of mention!

More on Dino Rossi here!