Monday, April 27, 2009

A photo is not worth panic

But this current presidential administration apparently thinks it is. A White House official approved a mission last week that took place this morning. The mission was for a VC-25, better known as Air Force One, to fly over lower Manhattan escorted by fighter jets. Sound familiar? Well if the scene reminds you of 9/11/01, you should see the flight path that the plane took, which is pretty similar to 7 and a half years ago. this mission was simply a photo op. So for the sake of a photo, many lower Manhattan companies were evacuated in panic. Other pertinent details include the fact that the FAA approved this, local and state authorities were notified, but the public was kept in the dark. Additionally, it was specifically kept quiet to the point that Mayor Bloomberg didn't even know and he is none too happy with folks about it.

So the first evidence of this "photo op" for the general public was seeing a similar aircraft flying in a similar place with similar fighter jets right behind it. Everyone knows that it's restricted air space so what would people imagine was going on? If it was a routine flight that was approved, why hide it?

So at the end of his first 100 days, President Obama allowed White House officials to pull this stunt. His approval rating is still through the roof although waning in the past couple of weeks.

Here's my note to you Mr. Obama. Think about the cost in poll points to yourself after this shit. Think about the cost of confidence and serenity lost on your "blue" constituents in NY. Think about the cost of the friggin' fuel to fly those 3 planes in that area. Then realize you could have had a pre-teen photoshop the same fuckin' picture for a free pair of movie tickets.

Was it worth it? So you've got a photo of your plane and the financial district at half staff with all the PTSD flare ups and an official apology from the White House plastered right below the "First 100 days" title bar on every news service in the country.

Nice work Einstein!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Overseas Cheese

As I mentioned not long ago I'm preparing to depart the good ol' US of A for roughly 60 days to head what us military folks affectionately refer to as "the sandbox." I was thinking about using this opportunity that is free from distractions of real life to get into better shape than I'm currently in. without the ability to sit on the couch and do nothing all day but surf the web and think up nutty stuff to talk to you guys about I just might be more active. Hand in hand with that activity level is nutrition and meals and healthy diet.

Of course, that really has very little to do with why we're here today. During those thoughts, my brain did what it does and went careening of the edge of reality into uncharted territory. I started to think about these meals and then for some reason or another I thought about cheese - stick with me.

Let's say I'm eating something that's got American Cheese on it. I have to wonder if it's really American cheese. What makes American cheese actually American Cheese. Is it a type of cheese we eat in America or a cheese that's manufactured in America? If geography of manufacture is the sole defining characteristic then, by definition, all cheese made here would be American Cheese including Cheddar, mozzarella and everything else. On that note, there would be no Swiss cheese from this country.

So we can postulate that to define American cheese is to consider the manner in which it's made regardless of the locale. This still worries me because if the "American Cheese" I eat over there is a local product then it can't, in fact, be American Cheese. See, to be created over there it has to be done according to Halal which is the proper slaughtering procedures of Muslims. If you make cheese differently, then it's not the same. We all know that the age of Cheddar cheese affects its sharpness to the process is important.

I suppose the only option left would be true American cheese that's made in America which is probably the most likely option. Anyone who has ever eaten government cheese knows that when you heat it, it just gets warm and shiny and never really melts. That kind of fake cheese can only be developed by the US government unless Halal processing causes the non melting issue.

The important question is how do you define American cheese in the first place? From there I can begin to figure out if it is American cheese that I'm eating while there. You all know that I'll be deeply considering this during the 30+ hours of travel to get there... along with periodic pondering of the humble existence of the American bumblebee.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I guess we're all human

It's sometimes easy to forget that we're allowed to be human. We're allowed to fail. I often forget this. I recently let everyone know that I'm preparing to deploy to the Middle East again. I also have let most people know (one way or the other) that I'm leaving Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC for good when I get back. I'm going to Keesler AFB for 4 years to teach new Airman about their job in my career field. That's not what I'm here to tell you about though.

See... I always feel that it's my duty to put on a front like I'm incapable of stress. I sheath myself behind the aura of the uniform. I don't know who actually reads these things. I like to think that these blogs are being passed around from reader to reader. I may be naive. What I'm driving at here is that there could be a lot of people that don't know me that look at this. It's clear to everyone that I'm in the military on active duty. I guess I feel that many of us are seen in a certain light and I don't want to let people down. I can't allow myself to look incapable or less than superhuman.

As a result, I don't tell everyone everything. I feel like I have to be able to handle all that is thrown at me and show no negative effect. Often this results in many more internal negative effects.

So here's the skinny. I'm deploying for 60 days. I get back and have 45 days to settle back into life, pack the house, make moving preparations, go home to jersey to see the folks and get my ass to Mississippi. Somewhere in there I needed to spend time with Linda and my friends here in SC all while staying mentally prepared for the challenges of a new job that lay ahead.

While I'm deployed, it's not all roses. Sure I want to go. That's because I love what I do. I love the mission and what it stands for. I love being in uniform and playing my small part in protecting this country. But while I love the big picture, the day to day sometimes... well sometimes it sucks. From the minute I touch down in the desert there are many mental and physical rigors. It's not the most austere of locations, but let's face it, it's not safe ol' SC. I'll be away from friends and family and most importantly Linda. It'll be well over 100 degrees every day. I expect to be working 12 hours shifts for those 60ish straight days. In the back of my mind will be the chaos that awaits me upon my return.

Today I called in a favor with the folks who manage assignments. I moved my report date to Keesler from August 15th to September 30th. I just bought myself an extra 45 days. Now I can enjoy July and bask in being near Linda again. I can take leave and see my NJ associates without rushing. Maybe Josh and Kristine can make their way to SC before I go now too. I guess we'll see.

I always thought it was so important to keep up those military appearances for the general public and never let civilians see us have a weakness. But here's what clicked. We're not cyborgs. We're not superheroes. We're people. We have lives. The military is a big part of our lives, but in the end, it's still a part. And at times, the other parts come down on us and make life a little chaotic.

So there ya have it folks... I'm just a guy like the rest of you. I guess I always was, just never wanted to admit it. I don't do what I do to be a hero or get praise. Sometimes we receive it just because we wear the uniform and I wanted to be that guy for everyone in this country that came across this blog. Keeping it inside doesn't help and eventually my job would suffer so that's counter-productive.

We're all human whether we want to admit it or not. Be human, trust people, enjoy life.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Is technology limitless?

I was recently thinking about this routine we all go through of reading the Sunday circular in the paper with the sales and all the things at BestBuy that we look at and think "one day." It seems to be never ending and it made me think... are there boundaries and limits? So I began to theorize and wax intellectual in my own mind and share with you, another set of musings.

Everything has a boundary eventually although I believe that, in terms of technology, it's a long time before we find it. The human body can only do so much, electricity only travels so fast, things can get only so small. Nothing is limitless - if it was, there wouldn't be a little topic called Physics which studies the physical laws of the universe that govern us.

If I think about what has changed in the past 25 years since I got my first computer I can't imagine anything growing because the leaps and bounds so far have been astonishing. It seems like we've come such a long way. However, I can only imagine the pace will speed up. Was it about 10 years ago that the PentiumIII chip came out and was it about 4 years ago that dual core chips arrived on the scene and now I have a quad-core and there's even an 8 core processor. The time between innovations is shrinking allowing for more productivity in less time. It is quite amazing.

Unfortunately greed has it's grubby little mitts in the process (this coming from a capitalist at heart). Money dictates innovation in this world which is a problem. Look at computers these days. They are moving faster than the consumer needs (in terms of updates). Theorists figure out "we can do this" and manufacturers say "go for it, if you can do it, we can sell it" and they put this new thing on every box that goes out the door. Software developers say "if they're putting it in there, let's write our software to make use of it." and the poor consumer has to run out and update all of his stuff every 9 minutes to accommodate this. And they are basically stealing from us. Robbing us of the opportunity to get our true money's worth out of these machines or let us use these items to their fullest potential because we're so busy hopping from one foot to the next trying to keep up, we miss out on the moment and what we're doing.

The technology industry should be renamed "The grandeur that graft built" and don't even start me on the financial ramifications to the ever-broke consumer who's putting the wife's engagement ring in hock so they can update Little Johnny's PC so he can keep up in school. It's a vicious catch-22 of consumers buying so manufacturers continue to manufacture and manufacturers continuing so there's something to buy and along we go.

Now, I'm in technology by trade and I love it. I think it's nearly boundless and in theory it's just incredible. It's the current business model that pushes the technology sector that I can't stand.