Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A little more elaboration about the Navy.

….Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything just yet. Considering how many people I’ve received the question “when do you leave” from. I’m not signed up yet. And it isn’t a sure thing. Am I serious about it? Yes. Is everyday pushing me a little closer into the decision? Without doubt. Am I going to give it thorough consideration? It’s out of character for me since I tend to do most things in the name of spontaneity, but yes I am. Will I explain my thought process some and explain why? ….Shall I start with the pros or the cons? How about where I am in life at present?

I’ve got nothin’. I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily. It just is what it is. Life hands me lemonade and I make… no, wait. What can I say about my life? One thing’s for certain, it has definitely NOT been “uneventful.”

I’ve come to cope with the little twists and turns on the path I walk. But the last few year’s worth of turns have left me with— well, I like to use the term for my current state of affairs as “un-tethered.” I have good friends, yes. But No family. Few possessions. No money. No real love prospects. And no career.

There was once upon a time that I thought, if I worked hard. If I struggled, and scrimped. If I was kind, and generous. All that I had worked for, would actually come to me. A home. Security. A family. And time to make a career of my writing. Maybe do some traveling. Maybe do a lot of things. And sure, a twinge of pain twists somewhere in me that it didn’t happen. The details as to the whys are insignificant, not the point besides. I’d rather focus on the positive side.

So, what is the positive side of having nothing? Freedom. I can go anywhere, and do anything. I won’t be leaving many behind. No children, or pets… I don’t have to worry about selling a house, or abandoning a job that I care about. I can load up my car and pick a random direction, and have few regrets.

But really is the Navy the “right” direction?

Let me recap the last decade or so of my life. There have been days that I starved for lack of food. There are days that I sat huddled under a pile of blankets, for lack of warmth. There are days that I worked until on the brink of passing out, sometimes 3 jobs at once. Stressing over money, transportation, meals…. There were definitely a few of my, not best days ever, thrown into that mix. And I’m tired. I’m SO tired of it. I need things to go right for once. I need stability. I need to rest and not worry how I’m going to make it to that next bill or payment.

True, at the moment I do have a warm bed to sleep in, and friends that are so insanely generous to keep me afloat. But I hate feeling as though I’m taking advantage of their kindness. Despite the fact that they tell me I’m not. What can I say, I like to work for what I have and feel I have earned it. As well as, I want to feel I have made a difference in this world. So what’s the appeal of the Navy? It’s not like many of the military branches. You don’t sign up and get told, “This is your job, whether you like it or not, have fun peeling potatoes.” You pick an area you have interest in, and you apply. And in my case? That would be language.

It’s a five year commitment for this specific job. The first year, is spent getting paid, approximately 3000 a month to go to school. Let me say that again. To go to school, to learn a language, something I’ve always wanted to do, I don’t have to pay to attend lessons, the government is going to pay ME. AND they’re going to give me a place to live, AND food to eat…. AND a 12,000 dollar sign on bonus??? And, I will be living on the warm shores of California??? (ok, Cali is a debatable positive vs negative, but at least it’s frakkin WARM!) Let’s continue to the next 4 years, shall we?

I’ve always wanted to travel. See different places. Take in new experiences. Maybe it was getting moved around so much as a child that did it. I hate moving, but can’t seem to sit still. I need to explore. I need new sites. The next four years will likely be spent on shore duty, (if all goes as planned) somewhere in Asia.

I need to score a 140 on the DLAB. A test to ensure you qualify for the Linguist program. Scoring a 100 gets me in, but scoring a 140 gets me a choice of either Chinese or Korean. I will live in a place I have always wanted to. (well, technically I want to live in Japan, but it’s one step closer anyhow.) I will be doing a job that will be doing GOOD. Translating. Diplomacy. Maintaining PEACE.

And while I’m in service I will be able to see Doctors, and Dentists, and… Okay wait. Because I can already hear some of your arguments in my head. “The health care is sub par.” “It’s all a lie.” “It isn’t free.” Um, yes it is. The part I’M talking about anyway. Now, I know that veterans’ hospital have low reputations. To this I say two things. Ever been to Lakeland? I can share a myriad of horror stories to have come from that place. Or really with ANY hospital. But I still digress to the fact that I have not had an annual physical in 5 years, because I COULDN’T AFFORD IT!” I pay through the nose for minimal medical care coverage, and by time I’m finished with those bills I can’t afford the doctor visit. I’m not expecting the military to support my medical costs for the rest of my life. But for the next five years? It will be peace of mind.

These are the benefits I’m looking at. Having a “career” instead of a “job.” Meeting new people and faces, when opposed to not feeling I really “fit in” here anymore. (Don’t take it personally. There are just some circles I belong to in which the politics and exaggerated stories are getting to be too much. I’m probably not talking about you but more things going on at work and with family.) Having money. Enough to build up a savings account even! Having TIME! I can’t sit here always scrapping for a minute here or there to jot down a paragraph at a time of my novel. Writing doesn’t work that way. I need a relaxed mind. A job with structured hours. Routine. The Navy may not provide an abundance of time to write. But, it will provide me with more time than I currently have. An education. (money for school NOT counting) They are teaching me a second language. The career opportunities I will have once out will be endless in field of language.

So, what’s there to think about? Why haven’t I signed up?

Well, let’s go back to the “writing” thing for starters, shall we? The job I will be doing is security sensitive. I will be trusted with a great many pieces of our national intelligence. Which means, everything I do and say will be closely watched. I have to pass a VERY thorough background check to even apply. (Thank god I’ve never even had so much as a speeding ticket.) …But manuscripts, and short stories, may be a little difficult to get out without question. Not unforgivable however. I will work on my novels. Store them up. And submit to multiple publishers when I get out if I have to. But it will be putting things on hold for 5 years.

This is not the only thing I will be putting “on hold.” I’m 29 going on 30. My former plans in life involved having a family. I have a couple of boxes of baby clothes to prove it. I’m not saying I want a baby right now. HELL NO. …but I don’t see myself starting a family while enlisted either, do you? So, doing the math… I’ll be 35 when out. Let’s say I’m lucky enough to meet someone right away. Okay, we date a couple of years…. 37… Nine month pregnancy… 38? I barely have any energy left at 29! How am I going to raise a child starting at 38?

I’m a bit of a romantic at heart. Everyone is. It’s true, I want love. Isn’t that what all the television and story books have beat into our heads since the day we could comprehend language? But like so many other things in my life, it doesn’t mean it’s in the cards. So, do I take a chance and wait around? Or do I move on and make the best of a bad situation? …guess which one I’m leaning toward. A marriage to the government is better than no marriage at all I suppose, huh?

And save the comments of, “maybe you’ll meet someone in the Navy.” …What, an 18 year old fresh out of high school? Ppffffffttttttt! Sorry, not looking to housetrain a young pup. Besides, all hopes aside. The military is not a dating service.

Onto a couple of questions.

Q: What about your back?

A: Well… what about it? I threw it out this summer. Yes. True. Do you know why? Because I work a job where I lift, push, pull, and haul metric tons worth of product every day. I did not throw it out AT work. But felt like something was wrong while at work the day before. How I threw it out? I bent over to pick up a sock. Yup. That’s all it took. So, by that theory? Am I going to never do laundry again? Ha, I wish. Do I need to get out of a job that will continue to do damage? Absolutely. Do I need to stay mildly active? Without a doubt. Can I handle 9 little weeks of basic training when compared to YEARS of carrying 50 lb crates and sacks of potatoes in order to do that? Sign me up.

I do not have a history of back problems. Sure, this summer sucked. But it is the first time I’ve had back trouble in years upon years. And the ONLY time it actually caused me to miss work or be on bed rest. I’m fine. (Well, relatively speaking.)

Q: What about your issues with authority?

This… is a tough one. I don’t like being told what to do. …when to do it. …how to do it… um… Yeah, I’m pretty bullheaded. Stubborn to a fault. Such to a point that I went from being in advanced reading groups to flat out refusing to read and failing English in school, because they started telling us WHAT books to read. (I didn’t like that.)

I understand that the military is going to tell me to do things, how, when, and never a why. These things are not always going to make sense. In fact, I will be told to do things that seem downright inefficient and moronic, be someone with far fewer years of life experience than I. My argument to this one is… Do you KNOW how the company I work for is run?

Sure, it’s hard. Sure, chances are I may end up in the brig for hitting a superior asshole. (<-that’s a BSG reference for those of you in the dark. Good show, look it up.) But all in all…. I’m up to the challenge. ……especially when I get to learn a second language, doctors, and 3x the pay to compensate for the inconvenience.

Q: What about war? We want you safe.

Statistically speaking? I’m more at risk of being hit by a drunk driver, dying of cancer, or getting raped in some Wisconsin back alley, than of perishing in combat. (With the position I’m specializing in anyway.) Sure, there are risks. There are risks EVERYWHERE. That’s the point. I’m not going to stop living because of them.


Q: When are you leaving?

I’m not enlisted just yet. So far things are looking to be leaning that way. But as evident by this novel of a blog, I have a great deal to consider. So far, things look good. I should pass the physical without issue. My records are clean. My pretests scored very high. It will provide me with the security I’m looking for.

But that isn’t to say I’m not anxious about the other aspects.

5 years is still a long time. Truthfully, I would rather go back to school, earn a degree, and do things on my own, my own way. But again, that may not be possible. I don’t have money for school. Hell, I barely have money for food. Time, is another factor.

SO. I’m hoping this cleared some stuff up for you all with your questions. Feel free to leave comments. Pro or Con. I’m looking at all angles here. If you can think of something I overlooked, please enlighten me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ignorance and drinking straws.

I was sitting in McDonald’s at work, having an ice cream cone. They’re only .50 cents and I was deserving it seeing as how short staffed we are and how I had to bust my ass that morning.

So, to paint the scene. I’m tired. It’s nice and quiet in there at the moment. (Despite the rest of the store being busy as all hell.) And it’s just me and the ice cream. Yay. Until…

Two people round the corner and take the booth across the aisle from me. The man sits down, and the woman, (middle aged) goes to the condiment counter for ketchup, napkins, and straws. She immediately throws a fit.

“They even have to label ‘STRAWS’ in Spanish? What! They don’t know what a STRAW is?”

I opened my mouth to say through thick sarcasm, “I know, you’re right, only English speaking Americans are so incompetent that they don’t know what a straw is.”

But I remembered that I was wearing my nametag, was technically still on the clock despite it being my break, and didn’t feel like getting fired for a battle that I clearly wasn’t going to convince her she was wrong about. I just swallowed the last bit of ice cream along with my disdain for her intolerance, and cut the break short.

Can I PLEASE plead with all whom are reading this?

I have heard MANY comments about “My ancestors learned to speak English.” “Why can’t they learn?” “Speak American…” (before I give you my actual arguments I would like to point out that we, to date, do not have a legally declared national language. We are a melting pot for a reason.) But onto my arguments.

One. I will guarantee you that your ancestors did not learn it in one day. It took time. And they more than likely had someone bilingual to HELP THEM. This attitude of “learn my language and learn it now or get out,” is hurting your own cause. If you want someone to learn your language, then be open minded enough to help them. Chances are they WANT to learn.

Two. Next time you say something to this affect, please remember that this area once belonged to the native Americans. The spoke Algonquin, Potawatomi, Fox, Dakota Sioux, and Ho Chunk. NOT English, or Spanish, or French, or German… Our Spanish speaking citizens are NOT here to conquer us and give us small pox. They are here to live with us. In HARMONY. RELAX!

Three. Look a little deeper. Is your real issue that you don’t like not knowing what they are saying around you? …Do you actually have reason to believe they are saying something negative? And seeing as you already have such a low opinion of them, do you really care what their opinion is of you? Haven’t you already deemed their opinion on anything beneath you? …But if it really does bother you, you have an option to not be lazy and learn to speak their language if it will bring you peace of mind.

AND DON’T tell me you shouldn’t have to learn their language since they are in YOUR home and should be learning yours. Because truth is, you DON’T have to. You do have the choice. But if you choose not to, then I’m going to say stop bitching, because you only have yourself to blame in not knowing what it is they are saying if you truly feel a need to know.

Moral and point is. Be compassionate. We are ALL humans. Race, gender, creed aside. Get over yourself. Your language is no better than anyone elses, and neither is your culture. They are simply “different” and unique in their own rights. Having “Straws” labeled is a courtesy. Not a necessity. I don’t see it hurting anyone to have small type resting on the shelf in both languages. In fact, I only see the benefit of a Spanish speaking patron being able to look at both words and it assisting them to learn the English one. …Your ignorance and inability to think about this perspective is hurting your own cause.

A nasty computer virus, "Security tool."

OK! There is a nasty virus going around. It hits without prompt, and is usually called Security Tool 8, or is disguised as some other "anti virus" scam thing warning you about harmful material on your computer. I have had several friends attacked by this monster that locks down your system and make your computer about as useful as

a brick.

I will tell you how to fix it.

So try and remember these steps. Copy and past them in a word document if you need to. You will be able to access those directions if you can remember to start your computer in safe mode.

1 restart your computer in safe mode by pressing f8 while it is booting.

2 once your desktop is up in safe mode, (you will see "safe mode" in each of the corners of the screen.) open your start menu.

3 select "all programs"

4 select "accessories"

5 select "system tools"

6 select "system restore"

7 Your computer should now prompt you with a series of dates in which you can default the restore to. I suggest selecting yesterday's date. It will take a minute for it to take effect, but your computer should reboot in regular mode and if all goes according to plan, should be okay now but I recommend running a virus scan after this as well. You can never be too safe, and have had friends still mind malicious ware on their computers even after this restore process.

Restoring your system to yesterday's date should NOT affect any of your word documents or such. Only program discrepancies. So don't worry about losing your homework or business presentations. It should still be there when finished.

Hope this helps those of you that encounter this bogus bug.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I’m going to start off by saying, I am not a smoker. I can’t stand cigarettes. The way they smell. Way they make your skin feel when after being around them. The way that some of my friends whom smoke have GOD AWFUL breath…. I really despise cigarettes on their own. And to throw another reason into the mix, I found when I was 14 that I have an allergy to an additive in many brands. (They always made me ill, but it wasn’t until this age I understood why.) I’ve grown out of that allergy some, but they are still not pleasant for me to be around. If around too much smoke, or the wrong brands, I will go into violent coughing fits (sometimes until I vomit,) or at very least come away from it with a killer migraine. I have great reason to hate cigarettes. So, with that said, can we discuss these new TRUTH commercials for a second and why they piss me off?

I’m going to break down each commercial into VERY tiny comprehensive bits for your thorough understanding. (I know many of you don’t need this done, but I want to make sure everyone FULLY appreciates what they are saying in these commercials to manipulate you. I can point out several ways they are hurting their own cause, while at the same time, slowly trying to sway you into voting for smoking bans if not the flat out prohibition of tobacco.

(This ironically coincides a bit on the other blog I’ve been working on about being able to catch what people “mean” vs what they “say.”)

"Spheres. Enjoy your freedom." <--What?

Read between the lines here. It is a very carefully worded advert. “Proudly made with American glass.” …this line accomplishes TWO things. First, it sounds like a slogan Big Tobacco would, and has, used in the past, reaffirming the comparison to cigarettes and cementing it in your mind. Second, “Proudly,” and “American,” lend a sense of patriotism and will subconsciously bring concepts of government into frame of thought.

The entire commercial is set in a negative light. The point they seem to be more “discretely” selling is hidden beneath the ever sardonic, “Enjoy your freedom.” They have painted cigarettes as the antagonist. You should be against them. They are evil. Such a thing should be restricted! “Enjoy your freedom.” Wait… People have a right to choose to smoke??? This “freedom” surely cannot be! We must take action! How could our government allow this!? They are selling a viewpoint that Spheres, and cigarettes alike, should be illegal seeing as the American consumer is too stupid to stay away from such a dangerous product.

“adult consumers asked for them, and here they are.” <-once again insulting American intelligence, but what gets me about this one is the child asking for candy. Again, we’re painting a handlebar mustache on the tobacco company with exaggerations of, they are targeting our youth! And I’m not going to argue if they are or aren’t. That’s not the current point. (Because I’m sure they are.) But the commercial is using a fear tactic in a very roundabout way to appeal to parents’ sympathies. They are targeting our CHILDREN!!!! But let’s ignore that children are watching this commercial while the door is swinging both ways. Hrmmm…. This point and its importance will have to wait until after these next couple of clips. Stay with me, I promise I’ll get to it.

No… Smokers take a well known risk and one dies every 6.5 seconds.

I also love that they made an actual half assed website to accompany the fictional companies link mentioned in the commercial.

Go ahead. Click on it. It will work.

I love the line, “Deadly when used correctly.” Yeah… So are guns.

Let’s first look at this, in conjunction with the previous commercials, from strictly the adult view. We’ve established that it is SO evil that it should be illegal and we must protect our children from such dangers. …But, guns aren’t illegal. We just restrict them. They can be deadly. But if you tell someone you’re going to take away their right to bear arms, we suddenly have a problem.

The important thing is to teach our children about what is safe as well as to instill concepts of moderation and responsibility.

Anyone remember those bubblegum cigarettes we all used to puff on as children? Boy, glad we got rid of THOSE. Otherwise we might still have people that smoke and need for a bunch of really irritating commercials. Glad THAT solved it. Now, everyone reading this that has ever owned, or allows their children to own, a NERF gun. ….Are you afraid of your child one day growing up to climb a clock tower with a twenty two? Why?

Be it alcohol, cigarettes, or firearms, YOU are responsible for YOUR choices. And personally? I would like to keep it that way. I do not smoke, but I do not need anyone telling me I can’t. Please feel free to tell me I shouldn’t. But don’t tell me I CAN’T. That’s for ME to decide. And MY potential future children as well.

I thought the blood dripping down the edge of the screen was a nice touch.

Now to return to that one more thing that I would point out from “between the lines,” in all of this comparing cigarettes to candy for the adult viewers, driving that subconscious fear into the parents that our children are going to smoke 10 packs a day. A child watches the same commercial. But to them, and the limited understanding of the issue, they will see the door swing BOTH ways. Let me break it down for you through a child’s subliminal eyes. Candy = fun. Candy is like cigarettes. Cigarettes = Fun. Especially if the grownups are saying, “not till you’re older.” You just hurt your OWN cause with this anti cigarette ad. Making light of how the Tobacco companies appeal to children JUST MADE CIGARETTES APPEAL TO CHILDREN!!!!

Stop. Just Stop! You’re making my brain hurt. Don’t beat around the bush and think you’re being all clever and dramatic with you subliminal scare tactics.

If you ACTUALLY want to get through to people? Try this. The following is an anti smoking commercial from Australia. It is straight forward and very to the point.

……….but dare we actually show something so graphic on AMERICAN tv??? GASP! God forbid a child sees this scary image and it leaves an impression! Because THAT isn’t what we are trying to do. OH WAIT, it IS! How silly of me.

Okay. If we still can’t show that… No big. We don’t have to. Here’s proof you can still be clever, AND to the point, without being graphic.

Reasons for smoking.

I recently had a conversation with someone about smoking. This person is intelligent, and fully comprehends the consequences of his choices. He confessed that he has quit several times before; for months on end at a time. I inquired further. “Why,” I asked. “Why after finding the will to get through quitting, would you return to the habit?” His explanation was succinct. “Because I like it.”

He likes the feel of it. The camaraderie he shares with other smokers. The relaxation. The nostalgia. The everything associated with it. He is aware that it is not healthy. He is aware that it is expensive. He is aware that it is addicting. He is aware that…. Huh, that’s strange. What else is there? Really? Can you name anything else that can’t be summed up by these 3 little statements?

All in all? Personally I say, DON’T smoke. And sure, Big Tobacco HAS done some pretty vile, awful, villainous things. (So have a lot of corporations.) I will support everyone that wants to quit, but I will not infringe on a person’s choice. It is up to YOU, not me. Not the government. Not anyone but YOU. Take responsibility for your own actions, and give credit where true credit is due. It is your choice just the same as it is your choice to eat fatty foods, drink alcohol, own a gun, join the polar bear club, go skydiving or bungee jumping. I don’t want a cookie cutter life, preordained and laid out for me. I want CHOICE. And I want everyone else to have it too.