9.28.2005

Shifting in to high gear

All of a sudden, even though it still *FEELS* like summer, life has picked up the pace. Not exactly sure how that happened but it has.

I started my final semester of classes - just 2 this time (see, I am capable of learning the lessons life tries to teach me...kind of...) : "Addiction and the Family" and "Health Program Design and Evaluation". Both are 3 credit classes and, though somewhat time and reading intensive, they are not going to be taxing on my brain. After I wrap up these two classes, I will be able to be credentialled in just about any state for Health Education. Woohoo!!!

I have also stepped up my involvement with Project Valour-IT. Just as the project was picking up steam, in terms of fundraising, Hurricane Katrina hit and pretty much stopped the fundraising efforts in their tracks. This coming Friday/Saturday I'll be attending the Joint Spouses' Conference and speaking to attendees about the project. Next week, I will be briefing the SIMs group (spouse information meeting - a meeting of the heads of all of the Family Readiness Groups and other family resources on post) about the project. In October I'll be heading to Colorado to attend a convention for which I will be writing an article on the project as well. *whew*

McGyver's unit is attempting to establish a unit-level Family Readiness Group. Our first duty station, Alaska, had a unit-level FRG but I guess they are a rarity with most FRGs being batallion level. Can't say I am a fan of the batallion level FRG - just a little too impersonal for my tastes. Alaska spoiled me. Anyway, I'm getting involved with that as well.

Then there is Princess Trouble's school - I'm one of the "room moms". Not much involved in that but it's one more thing to add to the list. As is my job which is currently on hold but will start back up in early 2006 when my transferees start to arrive on the island. Luckily, by then, school will be over.

Oh, yeah...and somewhere in the not-so-distant future, we'll be heading to Alaska for our "maintain the residency" visit. We're trying to do it as cheaply as possible so we'll be attempting our very first "Space Available" trip via military plane. That should be interesting...

But for now, dinner needs to be made, the living room needs to be tidied up, and I need a decent night's sleep. It wouldn't be my life if it weren't busy! Grama says it keeps me out of trouble...hehe...little does she know!




Pau.




- hfs

25 Signs That Show You Know How to Handle Money

via Al Jacobs at Woopidoo!

(h/t lpkitten at Defying Debt...in 2 years)


The ability to master your money is not something that just happens. It takes time, training, and temperament. Whatever praise or criticism you may direct at the American public school system, one thing must be acknowledged: The handling of personal financial affairs is not a subject to which much attention is devoted. Whatever the average citizen knows about saving and investing did not come from the classroom. This is understandable, of course, if only because the typical classroom teacher is equally mystified by the world of money. Nonetheless, there are those among us who have figured out how it all works, and what it takes to prosper.

Are you one of those persons that has managed somehow to get the hang of it? If you recognize yourself in most of the twenty-five following scenarios, then you can confidently answer "yes" to that question.

1. Your credit card bill is paid in full each month with never a penny in interest incurred. NOT YET BUT SOON. DOES IT COUNT THAT I DO NOT INCUR NEW CHARGES ANYMORE?

2. You understand that the variable annuity in which your neighbor just invested will prove to be a sad mistake. ON A BASIC LEVEL, YES.

3. Despite orchestrated furor by the media, you recognize that the $30 it costs to fill your vehicle’s gas tank is cheaper in today’s dollar that the $15 it cost 20 years ago. YEP.

4. You enjoy financial talk shows for their entertainment value while knowing that 95% of what’s said is nonsense. YES BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE A FEW KERNELS OF TRUTH IN THEM, ESPECIALLY MY HERO, DAVE RAMSEY!

5. The only type of life insurance that you’d ever consider purchasing is a term policy. YOU COULDN'T PAY ME TO BUY WHOLE LIFE.

6. You’re not tempted to invest in something because of a hot tip you get from a friend or relative. NOPE. THAT'S WHY I USE A FUND MANAGER AND TEND TO STICK TO INDEXED FUNDS.

7. You have serious doubts that the 3-unit course in basic English composition offered at Eleganté University for $900 is any better than a similar course conducted at Midtown Community College for $60. NOT JUST SERIOUS DOUBTS - I KNOW IT FOR A FACT.

8. You are sufficiently sophisticated in real estate to know that the worst house in the best neighborhood beats the best house in the worst neighborhood. YES.

9. You owe nothing on the vehicle you drive. WE DON'T OWE A PENNY ON ANY OF THEM.

10. You have a pretty good idea by mid-November how much your income tax obligation for the current year will be. I HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA BY JANUARY 1 WHAT MY INCOME TAX OBLIGATION WILL BE. THANK GOODNESS FOR THE IRS's CALCULATORS!

11. When hearing that the S&P 500 Index just hit an all-time high, you are not inclined to call your broker with a buy order. NOPE. DON'T HAVE A BROKER EITHER.

12. It’s beyond your comprehension why anyone not certifiably insane would purchase a timeshare property. YEP.

13. Your checking account balance never drops below the minimum limit that triggers a monthly service charge. MY CHECKING ACCOUNT DOESN'T *HAVE* A SERVICE CHARGE.

14. You’re aware that an option to pay your auto insurance premium in two installments, with a "modest convenience fee" instead of a single payment, probably works out as a loan at about a 25% interest rate. YEP.

15. Although you thoroughly enjoy the home in which you live, it’s considerably less expensive than you can afford. TOUGH TO DO IN HAWAII. BUT OUR RENT IS BELOW OUR HOUSING ALLOWANCE. DOES THAT COUNT?

16. You know practically nothing about the option market—and intend to keep it that way. WHAT'S AN "OPTION MARKET"?

17. You feel instinctively that every dollar you contribute in FICA taxes to the Social Security system is a dollar lost to you forever. I DON'T CONTRIBUTE FICA TAXES WHEN I'M WORKING (THANK GOODNESS FOR THE PERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM!) BUT YES, I DO REALIZE THAT SOCIAL SECURITY WILL NOT EXIST BY THE TIME I AM READY TO USE IT. BUT I DON'T RELY ON THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ME WITH RETIREMENT SECURITY.

18. Whenever you’re negotiating a purchase and qualify to receive a discount, you do not hesitate to ask for it. ALL THE TIME. WORST THING I CAN BE TOLD IS "NO". I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE.

19. You entertain no illusions that a financial advisor will provide sound counsel merely because of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation held. NOPE.

20. You make the maximum possible contribution to your retirement funds. ONCE WE DIG OUR WAY OUT FROM UNDER OUR DEBT, WE WILL.

21. Whether your choice of wristwatch is a top-of-the-line Rolex, a fashionable Cartier, a respectable Bulova, or an economy Timex, you recognize that all are battery-operated, with a similar quartz movement, and none fail to keep excellent time. YEP. I DON'T EVEN WEAR A WATCH - MY CELL PHONE HAS A CLOCK ON IT AND THAT'S ENOUGH FOR ME.

22. You find it baffling why anyone would buy a lottery ticket. THEY MAKE GOOD STOCKING STUFFERS :)

23. You cannot remember when you last borrowed money for an unexpected emergency.
NOPE. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND. IT'S SMALL BUT IT COVERS THE BEAR MINIMUMS RIGHT NOW.

24. The newspaper advertisement offering a half-pound silver commemorative medallion from The Perfidious Mint, at the "special advance price of only 139 dollars," forces you to suppress a laugh. YES.

25. You have no confidence in the concept of "Investor Confidence." NOT A DROP. JUST LIKE I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THE PRESIDENT'S POLL NUMBERS.




So, how did you stack up? I don't think I did too poorly. We're hacking away at our debt and we are still on track to not only be out from under our credit cards by then end of 2006 but also out from under our student loans by the time we leave the island in 2008.

Then *gasp* we might even be able to entertain the idea of *gasp again* buying a house at our next duty station...scary!




Pau.




- hfs

9.26.2005

Another knot in the stomach

Woke up yesterday to McGyver telling me that another Chinook had gone down. My first thoughts were of BIL. But no news is good news and the reports that we were hearing indicated that it was only crew aboard. Thank goodness.

Then my thougths shifted to who we knew over there. The list is not very long but enough to cause a knot in the stomach. One that has yet to go away.

Thankfully, several bloggers have reported that it was NOT a Big Windy bird. It has only been 5 months since Chuck died - I hoped and prayed that they were not having to go through it all again. Again, thankfully, I have heard from Chuck, Teresa, CaliValleyGirl, and Hookersgirl that all is ok with their loved ones.

We are waiting (not so patiently) to hear what unit it was and who was on board. In the meantime, my prayers go out to all of the families who are dealing with the news that none of us ever wants to hear.



UPDATE : I just got the DOD notification in my InBox. I didn't recognize any names but I believe it is the same unit a friend of ours from Alaska is in now. I'm relieved but sad just the same.





Pau.




- hfs

9.21.2005

Ashamed

I am an Alaska resident. And I'm usually proud of that fact. McGyver and I truly enjoyed our time in Alaska, our daughter was born there, and we plan to return some day (sooner, rather than later if the Army cooperates).

But today, I am embarrassed. I am ashamed of my state - well, of my Congressman, Don Young.

via the Kansas City Star :

“Kiss my ear!” Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, told a Fairbanks newspaper reporter when asked whether he would return the $223 million he “earmarked” for a bridge so that residents of Ketchikan won’t have to pay $6 to ride a ferry to get to the airport. Young is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.



That's lovely.




It has been suggested that Congress revisit the Highway Bill and cancel some (or all) of the $25 BILLION in 'earmarks' (i.e. PORK) as a way to help offset the cost of helping the gulf states recover from Hurricane Katrina.


via The Wall Street Journal
The idea of a pork-for-reconstruction swap had already been denounced as "moronic" by a spokesman for Don Young of Alaska, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and proud father of the now-infamous $223 million "bridge to nowhere" near Ketchikan.



Alaska is currently 5th in terms of pork projects - behind states such as Texas, Michigan, West Virginia, and Arizona. The estimated cost of the recovery effort down in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi is sitting at about $200 Billion. And, unless we start trimming some fat from SOMEWHERE, guess who will be shouldering the tab for this?


You. And me.




Joy.




I am getting ready to call Rep. Young's Washington office as soon as I am done typing this out. I'll post the results of the conversation when I'm done. In the meantime, head on over to N.Z. Bear's website The Truth Laid Bear and check out what pork YOUR state could stand to trim and then call YOUR Congressmen.


edited to add : I just spoke with a receptionist at Rep. Young's office who took my message (but not my name and/or phone number). He didn't seem too thrilled with what I had to say but I'll be calling back tomorrow to try again. I'd like to hear back from the Congressman - I *did* vote for him. Maybe next time I'll vote for someone a little more fiscally responsible.




Pau.




- hfs

9.16.2005

Four years ago today

Four years ago today, right about this time, I was sitting in our rocker in the living room, trying to breathe through my contractions. I was also trying not to sob at the images of 9/11 that were on the TV but that was hard to do. It was a sureal time - lots of joy, lots of anticipation, lots of pain (physical and emotional).

I cannot believe it has been FOUR years! My baby girl has gone from a tiny little infant to a wonderful, beautiful 4 year old girl! Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it? Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure this is all real (and sometimes, the reality smacks me upside my head).

I can only hope that the next 4 years are as fun, as wonderful, and as fascinating as these first four have been. I love you, baby girl, like nothing else in this world.



Happy Birthday!


all my love,
mommy

9.15.2005

AAR

For those of you not familiar with military jargon and acronyms, "AAR" stands for after action review. A recap/review, if you will. I won't be following Army standards on this AAR (I have better things to do with my time...) but I'll give you the run-down on the final tally.

First, a bit of clarification. I went through the comments and I tallied up the comments that did not specify a preference : 20 comments I then divided that in half and gave 10 to each charity.


Then, tallied up the ones that specified which charity the commenter wanted their $1 to go toward.

Soldiers' Angels Katrina Relief Fund : 12 comments (+10 = 22)

Armed Forces Retirement Home : 16 comments (+10 = 26)



The total came to 48 comments in all.




Now, that was below what I had budgeted so here is what I am going to do...I will round up to a higher number (not going to specify...you all can venture a guess if you are so inclined) and EACH charity will receive a donation for that amount. It's the least I can do. I can't get on a plane and fly out there to help. I can't give comfort to any of the victims right now. I can't help in any way other than to write a check and let these two wonderful agencies do the rest. I hope you will feel inclined to do so as well.




In case anyone is interested, here is the information for each charity with regard to donations :

SOLDIERS' ANGELS : For monetary donations, please mail a check or money order made out to Soldiers' Angels to:

Soldiers' Angels Foundation
Operation Katrina Relief
1792 East Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, California 91104



ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT HOME :
Monetary donation should be made payable to AFRH NAF (Hurricane Relief) AFRH, 3700 N. Capitol Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011




I would like to take the time to thank everyone who commented and everyone who stopped by to read about both organizations. I truly appreciate it and I am sure they will too.


Stay tuned - you'll be hearing more about Soldiers' Angels in the near future.




Again, thank you.




Pau.




- hfs

9.07.2005

A Challenge

*****SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST TO "Comments(34)" AND CLICK ON THAT TO OPEN UP THE COMMENTS WINDOW. YOU'LL NEED TO SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF ALL OF THE COMMENTS IN THAT WINDOW IN ORDER TO LEAVE YOUR OWN COMMENT. ONLY 4 HOURS LEFT!!! HELP ME OUT HERE!!!***** (edited @ 8:10pm 9.14.05)

First, a confession of sorts...

I have not made any Hurricane-related donations as of yet. The first half of the month is always tight - rent, utilities, and food take up the bulk of our budget for the first two weeks of the month. The second half of the month is not as tight with regard to money so, once the mid-month paycheck comes through and bills are paid, I will have some discretionary funds with which to make donations.





Which brings me to YOU.


Here is your challenge : for every comment (1 per person and anonymous comments don't count - be brave and use your name!) logged on this blog for this post between 12:01 am Thursday, September 8 and midnight Thursday September 15 (Hawaii Standard Time), I will donate $1 to either of the folowing charities (you can specify which charity you want your $1 to go to in your comments if you have a preference) :

Soldiers' Angels Katrina Relief Fund

OR

Armed Forces Retirement Home




From the Soldiers' Angels website :
Hurricane Katrina has devastated New Orleans and South Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The homes and lives of an untold number of our friends and families have been decimated. Included in the ranks of victims are the family members of our soldier's serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Afghanistan. Many of these soldiers will be returning home in the next few weeks to find that their families have been displaced and their homes and businesses destroyed.



From the Armed Forces Retirement Home website :
Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulfport campus leaving 416 veterans homeless. These vets will be brought to Washington where the Home is preparing to formerly shuttered buildings for their use. The veterans will come by bus. They will leave Gulfport this afternoon, remain overnight in Atlanta and arrive on the Washington campus on Thursday.

The Gulfport facility has suffered $1 million worth of hurricane damage in the last three years and Hurricane Katrina damage will cost millions of dollars and take months to repair. Some buildings were literally knocked to the ground. The steel and concrete perimeter fence is gone. The vets rode out the hurricane on the campus but they cannot remain there without running water or electricity. They will stay in Washington indefinitely





Both of these organizations hold a special place in my heart and serve a population that is obviously near and dear to me.

So that's it. There you go. Now, I have a limit on what I can afford to donate - we ARE a military family, you know - without putting my own family in the poor house (my first responsibility is to them) but I'm not going to tell you what it is. I also have a minimum as well but again, I'm not telling.


Let me see whatcha got! The "window of opportunity" opens in less than 10 hours...

Technorati tags : , ,

Posted at Outside the Beltway, for lunch at basil's blog, and over at bRight & Early and, of course, at Greyhawk's Open Post



Pau.




- hfs


Edited to add : Here is a list of items that the AFRH needs...

As of Tuesday, September 6, 2005 – the following items have been identified as those
items that are currently need by the residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.
Plastic denture cups
Denture adhesive products (i.e., Fixodent)
Panty liners
Lip baum
Nail clippers (a real priority issue)
Irons
Ironing boards
Clock radios
Small TVs, rabbit ears
Small fans
Desk lamps
Personal hair dryers
Bathmats
Hangers
Small refrigerators
Small tables
Microwaves
Curtains 63” and 84” long
Chests of drawers
Single size sheets/ pillowcases
Postage stamps
VCRs
Liquid laundry detergent
Paper towels
Windex and similar cleaning products
New pajamas (men/women (all sizes))
Sweaters / jackets/ windbreakers (male/female)
Gloves
Women’s clothe (small/medium (petite)


In response to the many calls from individuals and organizations wanting to do
something for our Gulfport veterans who weathered Hurricane Katrina, the following
“wish list” of items is provided:
Small televisions
Small and medium refrigerator (room size)
Alarm clocks
Small Radios
Personal CD players/CDs by any artist
Pajamas (mostly for men, but also some for women) – sizes small, medium, large, extra
large and extra/extra large.
Bath robes (see sizing above)
Underwear/Socks (mostly male, some female)
Slippers, (male/female, sizes small/medium/large)
Shower shoes
Clothe (new only)
Shirts
Polo Shirts
Tee Shirts
Shorts
Slacks
Hats
Belts (all sizes)
Tennis shoes
Laundry detergent
Towels/washcloths
Single sheet sets
Blankets
Bed pillows
Bed spreads
Personal Items
Electric shavers/disposable shavers
Hand held hair dryers
Curling irons
Shaving crème
Feminine Hygiene products
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes
Dental floss
Mouthwash
Denture cups
Denture adhesive
Cotton balls
Cotton swabs
Adult diapers
Tissues
Other:
Phone cards so our displaced veterans can call their familie
Writing paper/envelops/books of stamps
Discount coupons for things eyeglasses
Discount or free tickets to any recreational or sporting events
within 20-30 radius of Washington
Medium size plastic or paper bags to be used to dispense
items to individual residents.

Those of you

who are so quick to blame the Federal government, go to these sites in order :

1.) First, go here : U.S. Constitution

2.) Then, when you've relearned all that you SHOULD remember from high school government class, go here : The Army National Guard

3.) Then, when you're ready to take a look at a basic timeline and pertinent questions regarding the events leading up to and including the response to Hurricane Katrina, go here : Why Didn't Louisiana Follow its Required Emergency Plan?

4.) Finally, when you've wrapped your brain around all of that, go here : Katrina Response Timeline



Then, AND ONLY THEN, come back and talk to me.


Ignorance irritates me.


To no end.




Pau.




- hfs


edited to add : you'll find a pretty comprehensive report card over at Real Clear Politics as well.


posted for supper at basil's blog

Something that has bothered me

all week. After 9/11, when 3,000 people died, most (if not all) talk show hosts were respectfully subdued in their commentary. As they should have been. It was a devastating day on so many levels.

Yet, tonight as I watched the Daily Show (one of my favorite shows on television), it struck me that the same level of respectful tone is not present with regard to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Why?

Why is it all right to make jokes about those who have lost so much - including their lives in some instances - now when it wasn't all right to do so 4 years ago? What is the difference?

Is it because of the nature of the disaster? Mother Nature vs. terrorist? Is it because of the violent nature of 9/11? Is it because there was warning with Hurricane Katrina? Or is it a class issue?

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not blaming Bush (I'm still trying to figure out what, exactly, his detractors expected him to do...but that's for another day) - well, a little but not directly. I'm not saying that there weren't people who CHOSE to try to ride out the storm as did many when Camille hit in 1969. And I'm not saying that there weren't people who could have managed to get out but - for whatever reason - did not exhaust all possibilities prior to the storm hitting. I firmly believe that those people who CHOSE to stay should be left on their own (or forcibly removed if their presence presents a hinderance to restoring order and function to the city) and that the state and local goverments should have had a contingency plan in place for those who had no other means of evacuation (besides lovely public service announcements).

I'm just curious as to why Jon Stewart feels it is ok to make jokes about this disaster before the bodies are even collected and tallied? We're talking possibly 10,000 dead. That's THREE TIMES the number of people who died on 9/11. And yet it's ok to make jokes about it all.


I don't get that.




Pau.




- hfs

9.06.2005

Seven things

Seven Things
Stolen from Politics of a Patriot

Seven Things I Plan to do Before I Die
1) learn to sew
2) go scuba diving again
3) learn sign language enough to hold a decent conversation
4) get my master's degree (in what, I don't know)
5) get my national EMT certification
6) fly a plane
7) become at least a level 4 certified swim coach

Seven Things I Can Do
1) whistle loudly using my fingers
2) change the oil on a car
3) Organize just about anything. (ditto)
4) Argue politics to the bitter end. (ditto ditto)
5) remember phone numbers, birthdays, locker combinations from middle school...anything with numbers
6) make a mojito (yes, I know it's easy but I just discovered these wonderful drinks recently!)
7) make a mean pineapple cherry dump cake (thanks Leslie!)

Seven Things I Cannot Do
1) reach the top shelf in my kitchen (or anyone else's kitchen for that matter) without the aid of a step stool/ladder/chair/etc.
2) sing (well, I CAN...just not very well)
3) chop onions (I'll pay the extra cost in order to buy them chopped and frozen or I have dh do it)
4) rebuild a transmission but dh is teaching me!
5) speak Spanish other than the cuss words and a few random phrases that would probably get my butt kicked in Mexico
6) keep my opinions to myself (well, sometimes I can but not very often)
7) touch my toes (I used to be able to but after having kids, my back is not as limber as it used to be)

Seven Things I Find Really Attractive About the Opposite Sex
1) sharp sense of humor
2) compassion
3) integrity
4) conviction
5) eyes that show me who you are inside
6) a stocky build (no skinny guys for me!)
7) a love of family

Seven Things I Say Most
1) I SAID NO!
2) Princess Trouble...!!! (not her real name)
3) Little Man...!!! (again, not his real name)
4) For the love of GOD!
5) Idiot (muttering this under my breath)
6) Do you think that was a good idea?
7) Leave your brother/sister ALONE!!!

Seven Books I Love:
1) How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too by Sal Severe
2) The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
3) anything by Robert R. McCammon
4) anything by Robert Fulghum
5) Eats, Shoots, and Leaves
6) Catcher in the Rye
7) America the book by Jon Stewart

9.04.2005

Cafe du Monde

When I was a little girl - maybe 6 or 7 - my Grama came to visit and brought with her (along with Mardi Gras beads) a box of beignet mix. I had never experienced them before and I remember thinking that I had died and gone to heaven after biting into one. Of course, at the age of 6 or 7, anything with powdered sugar on it was heavenly.

I remember mom and Grama talking about New Orleans and the French Quarter and I so badly wanted to go. I was finally able to get to New Orleans in 2004 and, though I wasn't able to make it down to the French Quarter, I DID get my beignets (Cafe DuMonde had a storefront in a mall close by). And they were just as delicious then as they were 20 years ago. But I still hoped to get down to the French Quarter and experience them the way they should be experienced.

I don't know that I will ever get that chance again. A trivial issue in light of the death and destruction that has befallen the area, I know, but still sad nonetheless.




Part of me hopes that New Orleans will be rebuilt back to its former glory, if not better. And part of me believes that it should not. That NO ONE should have to face the horrors that gulf coast residents have had to face over the past week. New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen and part of me believes that no one should be allowed to live in the face of THAT kind of disaster again.

I weep for those lost and I weep for those that have survived. Nothing will ever be the same. And I weep for those who were never able to experience New Orleans and the gulf shores area. It's all just so sad.




So sad.




Pau.




- hfs

9.02.2005

Grama is ok and other thoughts

First and foremost, my Grama is ok. My mother was able to get through to her on a land line late last night (woke her up which is impressive because Grama doesn't hear so well). Her apartment complex sustained minor damage (a miracle in itself with all of the horrible destruction on either side) and only has generator power in the lobby and 1 elevator running. But she's ok. The Red Cross, a local grocery store, and a local fruit and veggie stand are providing food and water to the residents of Grama's building (God bless them!).

Mom will be heading down there early next week when she has a day off to get Grama. Thank GOD!!!




Now for my thoughts...bear with me - my heart and mind are still very jumbled. When 9/11 happened, it took me at least a year to really wrap my brain around everything. I have a feeling it will be the same way with this situation as well.

The level of destruction - the SCOPE of the destruction - is unimaginable. When I sat and watched the footage of 9/11 it was a little less personal. I have never been to New York or the World Trade Center. But I have been to Biloxi. I have been to New Orleans (though the trip was short and did not involve a visit to the French Quarter or any other highlights of the area and did so badly want to go back).

When I was 7 or 8, my family took a trip to the Gulf Coast to visit family and friends. My mom grew up in Moss Point/Pascagoula. My Grampa worked down there and is (was?) buried at the VA cemetary in Biloxi. And my Grama has lived in Ocean Springs since I was 4.

When McGyver was in flight school, I took advantage of my proximity to Grama and went down to visit her twice. We stayed at the Seabee base in Gulfport - which was nearly decimated by hurricane Camille in 1969. Though I never lived there, the Gulf Shore was still a piece of me.

So watching the footage of the destruction from Katrina was SO much more personal than 9/11. When I went to bed last Sunday night, I thought I would wake up to find that New Orleans had been wiped off the map. I couldn't sleep and around 4am (Hawaii time) only to find that Katrina had made a right hand turn and was heading toward Gulfport/Biloxi.


I thought I was going to be sick.


Grama stayed where she was because she thought that she would only catch the outskirts of the storm, not the brunt of it. God, help them all.

And then to watch the destruction of New Orleans who, on Monday morning, looked like they would have dodged a bullet that residents have been waiting for for 40+ years, in slow motion as the levees gave way was like salt on a wound. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion and not being able to do a DAMN thing about it.

For 4 days, I sat in shock in front of the TV and in a state of panic in front of the computer. With power out and phone lines down, there was no way to check on Grama. Our family is friends with the Sheriff of Jackson county and his family and I tried desperately to reach him - just to see if he had any word on Grama. But I couldn't. Efforts to go "rescue" my Grama were stimied by reports of road closures, gas shortages, and violence. I was *this* close to buying a ticket to the area to go get her myself (with McGyver's gun in my suitcase...don't mess with the redhead). And then mom was able to reach her and she's ok.

And now that the shock and panic has subsided, anger is setting in. And here are some things that I am angry about...(you knew this was coming, right? Those of you with tender ears and constitutions might want to skip this part - there WILL be rough language)

FIRST THIS
You have to be kidding me. These people just left a disaster area. They escaped with nothing more than the clothes on their backs (and they were lucky to have THOSE) and hadn't eaten for days and the Reliant officials DENIED them access to help?? Who the hell were those officials and what the HELL were they thinking??? Someone needs to smack those morons up side their heads, preferably with something hard.

THEN THIS
Terry Ebbert has the UMITIGATED GALL to stand there and CRITICIZE the federal government for THEIR lack of response?? Does he not understand that the best defense is a good offense?? How fucking hard would it have been to be a little proactive? Mr Ebbert, it is YOUR job, as the head of New Orleans' emergency operations, to provide that offense.

And don't give me that "we didn't think it would be that bad" bullshit. It was obviously bad enough to issue an evacuation order yet YOU, Mr. Ebbert did not give them the means to get out. YOU, Mr. Ebbert, are to blame for this fiasco. YOU, Mr. Ebbert, are responsible for this. YOU.

At the least, you need to lose your job. You failed and on a massive scale. At best, you need to be held accountable for the deaths in your state. Those people had nowhere to go and no way to get there. YOU, Mr. Ebbert, had the facilities to help them BEFORE the hurricane hit yet you either failed to recognize the asset or you CHOSE not to. HOW DARE YOU? How dare you...?



THIS, Mr. Ebbert, is YOUR legacy. This.




THEN THERE IS THIS
Don't tell me that there aren't enough guardsmen. There are. But a disaster of this magnitude takes time and coordination ON THE PART OF THE STATE and federal governments to get moving. It takes time. And, while I understand that time is not something the people of the gulf shore have, the bulk of that blame should be placed on the shoulders of the local STATE officials. Protocols should have been in place and they weren't. That was the responsibility of the STATE, not the federal government. And the STATE failed.

Add to the overwhelming nature of the disaster itself the fact that New Orleans is one of the more dangerous cities in the United States on a normal day AND the fact that the New Orleans police department is one of the most corrupt police deparments in the country. And is that the fault of the federal government? No. Again, the onus rests on the shoulders of state and local officials.

To the officials to which I make reference, I have a message and a suggestion : suck it up, be men (and women), admit you screwed on up many levels, and MAKE IT RIGHT. Don't waste your time and the time of those who do not have it to give by trying to dodge the blame you so justly deserve.




AND THIS
I understand breaking into a store in order to get food and water and diapers for your family. I get that and I'd be right there with a rock, busting open a window to get supplies for my family with no remorse whatsoever.

However, those ANIMALS that feel the need to take things such as jewelry, plasma screen TVs, beer, and the like? Shoot them. The ANIMALS that break in to the homes that are already decimated by flood waters and crawl OVER the bodies of the dead owners inside in order to steal their valuables (not their water or canned goods. We're talking jewelry and such.)? Shoot them, drag them out into the street and spray paint the word "LOOTER" on their naked body and leave them for the rest of the world to see and learn from.

Those CRIMINALS that are shooting at the very people who are there to help them - the same ones that they are bitching about NOT helping? - shoot them too. Shoot them twice, just for good measure.

Don't sit there and bitch that no one is coming to help you and then SHOOT at them when they do. That's a good way to get your sorry ass left behind. Or worse.


And lastly, I have a bit of a rant for some of my fellow military spouses. I'm sorry if this rubs some of you the wrong way but it's my blog and if you don't like it, you don't have to read it. On some of the boards I frequent (more than one), there have been some spouses who are actually complaining that their husbands may have to "deploy" to help in the recovery effort. I bit my tounge when I read the first thread about it but after I read similar threads elsewhere, I began to get irritated.

Now, I understand being sad/disappointed/upset about being separated from loved ones - sometimes for the 2nd or 3rd time including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan - and I understand the sadness that comes with their loved ones missing special moments - births, holidays, milestones - but damnit, THIS IS THEIR JOB. THEY SIGNED UP FOR THIS. How can you complain about your service member being asked to help fellow Americans??? HOW? I don't get it. I"m almost hoping that McGyver's unit gets called up for this just so ONE of us can do something.




I'm done for now. I probably won't be on much over the next week or so - we have friends in town and I need a break. This week has been rough. Nothing compared to what some of my fellow Americans are going through, but there are other things I need to be doing besides typing on the computer.

Just in case you haven't already been innundated with requests for help from various charities, please visit Soldiers' Angels and give what you can. This fund is set up to help the families of soldiers in the area, many of whom are deployed and many of whom have lost everything.

Thank you.




Pau.




- hfs


Technorati tags : ,

Posted at Greyhawk's Open Post and posted for supper at basil's blog

9.01.2005

Soldiers' Angels to the rescue AGAIN

Hurricane Katrina has devastated New Orleans and South Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The homes and lives of an untold number of our friends and families have been decimated. Included in the ranks of victims are the family members of our soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of these soldiers will be returning home in the next few weeks to find that their families have been displaced and their homes and businesses destroyed.


Soldiers' Angels Operation Katrina Relief Fund


I'll have more to post in the AM. Word is that Grama's building is ok. Cousins are headed down tomorrow to get her and bring her to Tennessee. Thanks for the e-mails, phone calls, prayers, and good thoughts.

In the meantime, go check out InstaPundit's Round Up Post HERE.



Technorati tags : flood aid, hurricane Katrina, and .




Pau.




- hfs