The Kiss

Some of you may not know I am a fan of comics. Recently DC relaunched Justice League and I’ve been hearing things. Superman is the ultimate hero for me, I love that he’s so pure. I also like WonderWoman, I pretended to be her often. Underoos, anyone? So I was amazed and thrilled to discover that they had ditched the always needing rescue Lois Lane and had Superman and WonderWoman fall for each other! WHAT?! That is AWESOME. Here’s a the cover for the most recent issue:

Justice League 12

The Kiss Cover on Justice League 12

So I  stopped by a Comic shop while in Montgomery today and picked up the first 5 in this series, yeah #12 was completely SOLD OUT and I was a little bummed because I HAVE to get it. The owner of the shop is apparently at DragonCon in Atlanta and hopes to get a few there. The man at the shop today offered to put one aside for me if he gets any, so I will stop in on Wednesday to check when I go to tutor. Here’s today’s haul though:

Justice League

My Justice League Comics 1-5

I love Sundays. I am enjoying the church I am attending in the Montgomery area and am looking forward to my first tutoring session on Wednesday. Attendance was light today due to it being Labor Day weekend but my mother was able to join me which is always a treat. Afterwards we had brunch together and then did a little grocery shopping. There is a Fresh Market in Montgomery as well as a Publix and I like to stock up on things like fancy tea, Turkey PerkyJerky and my favorite chocolate bar. You most definitely will not find these things in Troy at the Super Wal-Mart, Piggly Wiggly or Food World.

We aren’t doing anything too special for Labor Day. I’ve been  laboring quite a lot lately so I hope to relax, see a movie, and finish setting up my new Marine/Afghanistan Care Package project. Fun stuff in other words.  I just need help getting a logo together for it and then I’ll launch the blog/Facebook page/Twitter as well as start advertising it locally on cable access and at local businesses.

In fitness news, I continue to meet my goals. I’ve added more Yoga to the mix after discovering I could do some pretty amazing poses. I’ve always been super flexible, and in Yoga this can really be used to my advantage to get into advanced positions that not only give me a great workout but feel amazing too. I can do two pull ups now which I am quite proud of. I will consider myself really impressed when I get to five.

On September 7th I am going to see Tony Bennett in concert in Biloxi which should be fantastic. My mom scored free tickets and we are staying the night. That’s a nice little vacation to look forward to.

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Let my life be useful to others…

I got excellent news today, the artist who is designing the cover art for my upcoming book sent me the comp today and it is GORGEOUS! I am so thrilled. I did a little happy dance and promptly began showing it off to everyone in my immediate vicinity. We all agreed that fans will be tattooing it on their bodies in no time. Well, we thought it would not be at all surprising if they did.

The big news where I am is Tropical Storm, sure to be upgraded at any moment to Hurricane Isaac. Accuweather.com which is my preferred weather source is much calmer than the others so I recommend their site in the event of Weather emergencies. I can hear the wind blustering outside even though he’s just brushing by us. My sister and aunt came to stay with us to get out of harm’s way in Mobile where there’s more likely to be unpleasant power outages and wind and water damage. We might get some power outages here in Troy but they will likely be brief and a few squally storms and blown down limbs isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s nice to have them visit. I’ve missed them.

Meanwhile in other projects: I’m doing a little something to make me happy called OperationPAL through MarineParents which aims to send support and encouragement to wounded Marines. Here are the first two cards I am sending. I plan on picking up a couple more tomorrow to mail.

Letters to OperationPAL

My first two letters to OperationPAL

I included my new Personal Cards from Moo.com so they would know who the card came from. I recently printed both business cards from VistaPrint and Personal Cards from Moo.com and they both arrived today. The difference in quality was really stunning. VistaPrint’s were on thin shoddy paper with weak inks. Moo.com’s were on thick over sized card stock with vibrant colors on both sides. No contest really.

So I’ve mentioned the other projects I am actively working on: The book, the consulting, the Veterans project. While researching the Veterans project I came across another thing I can do now so I will be rolling that out in a day or two. It will involve sending care packages to Marines in Afghanistan. My first contact represents a small group and my second represents a battalion, both from North Carolina that is hoping for some support. The small group is of 50 males and his description says:

Their electricity is provided 220 generators, they live in tents and have very few supplies to cook. They do not have electric stove tops.

The other contact represents a battalion also from North Carolina and they have over 500 males and 40 females and the contacts descriptions says:

75% live in cans (I investigated and this is some kind of hut or could be just cargo containers retrofitted to sleep in) / 25% live in tents and sleep on cots. They have 110 electricity in 90% of the areas their power source is generator. They have no cooking ability. 25% have refrigerators. They have no microwaves.

I will be creating a new page on my blog about this and providing a list of things I will be collecting as well as providing a link if you can pitch in a few bucks to help buy stuff to add to the boxes. You can help with money, or you can pick up or collect the stuff I am accumulating and send it to me… that would be awesome as well. I will make sure it gets packed correctly with the right customs forms and that nothing illegal gets sent. I will also be soliciting donations in my local community. One thing they hope to get are things like Magazines. I know I can collect those at my fitness center and it’s likely some of the other items they want might come in through there too.  So look for the new page with all the details on my blog to go live soon, I’ll be taking pictures of the packages and posting them as I send them! It should be fun.

While continuing to research the *big* Veterans project, I discovered that my regional VA office has an interesting training program and I have inquired into it. Hopefully I will be able to share more details soon but it’s one of those discoveries where you are like, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?! because it is so right up your alley and everything you want to do.

I also heard from the church I’ve been attending in Montgomery about transferring my membership there, so I went ahead and got the paperwork together today…I was hoping to go to a tutoring volunteer orientation there on Wednesday anyway so the call was serendipitous. It allowed me to sign up for that.

Lots of very meaningful stuff! Thank God for answering my deepest prayer, let my life be useful to others.

What did you say? I didn’t hear you…

A soldier of the 1st platoon Comanche Co

A soldier of the 1st platoon Comanche Company of the United States Army secures a position on the road as they detain a suspect of setting a roadside bomb in Buwri Tana District in Khost Province on August 7, 2012. (Jose CABEZAS/AFP/GettyImages)

I just read a great article called Afghanistan War: Americans Tune Out Afghan War As Fighting Rages On.

You know what I find embarrassing and appalling? That most of the comments on HuffPo, a site I generally enjoy, are flailing and railing at past and current administration policies instead of understanding the important information in the article.

1. Afghanistan was the ONLY military action we took that was actually a response to the attack on us in 9/11. Despite strategic challenges and the nature of the beast that is Pakistan/Afghanistan, the US has made significant inroads and has accomplished important strategic goals. While people in the US may be “bored” and lump it together with Iraq because, I don’t know, both countries have an Arab populace… they are different theaters.

2. This article is about the lack of support the MILITARY, TROOPS and their FAMILIES are getting. That means there isn’t even a 5 minute piece on the nightly news covering the war. We aren’t sharing any of their sacrifices. There aren’t drives to write letters, adopt a soldier, send care packages in highly visible places. They exist, but it’s not front and center like it would have been in say WWII. I feel our forces are fighting for a just and honorable cause. They are attempting to keep the word we as a country made to our allies in the region. They are providing an alternative to the network of terrorists who want to abuse civilians and trade on their poverty to create safe havens for the very people we are trying to defend against. Do we see any of that? Not so much. This is just another example of how profit drives news. There used to be a law that a certain amount of time had to be dedicated to NEWS, no commercials, so no commercial interests or ratings mattered. Remember when the news was like that? If not, take my word for it. Every channel had DIFFERENT stories too, DIFFERENT depths of reporting and that’s how you decided who to watch. Not which pundit screamed the loudest.

3. I admire those who wish to be active against war altogether. Or rather you write in tones of disgust that you wish people would be active. Just remember that the men and women who are serving our country are being active, they are actively living a life of service. They are trying to make their life be about something bigger than themselves, something most of us aspire to do. Many of them come from poorer backgrounds and joined to learn a trade, skill or be able to afford college or provide for their families with a small but steady pay check. In exchange they promised to serve the needs of our country… which they do with bravery.

Their families also serve and share the burden. Are we not neighbors? Are we so uncomfortable at this situation that we shy away from such decent people who are working so hard on behalf of us for so little reward?

Also please consider your rhetoric. Believe me, I’ve been researching this lately and what I’ve learned is that service members read these comments and posts and words can hurt them. Service members feel rejected by the people of the country they love when they hear words like “their sacrifice is a waste” or “they died for nothing” They think of brothers and sisters lost. Not only is it offensive, it is untrue.
4. But what can you do? You are a smart, articulate person. Read up on this subject. I just created a Twitter list for my research, you can check it out here. Or you could read a Neswpaper style aggregation of the best curated stories updated twice a day by visiting The American Service Monitor.

They are both good starting points because they link to so many sources of information if you want to start to know what is going on. Even a few small actions can make a huge difference. I mean, did you know you can donate blood just for the military to use so that our troops always have enough? Or that there are ways you can help combat soldiers get phone cards so they can call a spouse? There are real tangible ways to remind yourself it’s not all congress, policy and helplessness. There’s you, able to make a difference to a real person who could really use some. I hope you’ll consider it.

This May Get A Little Controversial

While I haven’t updated as frequently as I have wanted to that’s because there has been so much happening. I have been polishing up my online presence, giving my old consulting site a facelift, a Facebook page and reactivating it’s Twitter feed. I’ve been sorting through the way too many websites and blogs I’ve left littered all over the place in the last few years to try and determine what to leave up and what to take down in preparation for launching my book. I’ve also been working on the integrated social  media strategy for it, because of course, online is interwoven into the plot. How could it not be when I swear I think part of my brain is somehow wirelessly connected to the Internet already? That reminds me, I need to open a savings account to start putting away some dollar bills for Google’s Project Glass. Talk about tech lust. That has my name written all over it.

Here’s what THAT is:

I read a little bit of the Bible (NRSV) every night. I just open a random page and see what’s there ya’ know? Last night I opened it and it fell to a page that started about midway through the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 5:14 which began with “You are the light of the world” and continued through the admonition to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” One of my all time favorite verses is in the middle of the page, I wish everyone would take it to heart which is Matthew 5:42 “Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” Notice it says nothing about checking to see if they deserve it or what they are going to spend it on.

Anyway I bring this up simply because that Rep. Akin who talked about “legitimate” rape made a lot of women feel persecuted with his careless words. I am guessing there are already some people who think women are making too big of a deal over it. Actually I am sure of it. While I think this man shouldn’t be in any position to make laws or policy, I don’t want to be angry at him. I just want to forgive. Oddly enough, after reading an earlier post by Eve Ensler that moved me more than I can say because it captured the pain his words engendered, The Onion posted an article that made me laugh my ass off. After reading it, I was able to let go of my anger and forgive. I still think he should quit, but you know, I can pray for him. Pray for him to find understanding. Pray for him to retire. Even if you aren’t looking to forgive, I think you will still really enjoy this article.

I’ve mentioned that I’d been researching the Marines because of a character in my forthcoming book. I also met someone who even though I’ve only known them a short while is one of those people that nudges you into a new way of looking at the world. I wish I knew them better than I do, but even the small amount of time I have spent with them was enough to open my eyes and engage my deeply passionate heart about the issues facing active duty military and veterans who’ve returned from combat. My own almost painful sensitivity to people who are suffering already makes me naturally empathetic to issues facing warriors who are wounded both physically and mentally. In fact I would say that the hidden wounds call to me even more.

God has blessed me with many gifts and some challenges as well. One of the gifts has been an eidetic visual memory and the ability to hold and process  seeming incredible amounts of information in my head. I also periodically come across a problem, issue, or subject area that calls to me and nothing will do but for me to quite literally digest every bit of usable information I can find on the topic and and anything that relates to it. I consume it voraciously with an appetite that does not end until a kind of information map is created in my mind and connections and solutions start appearing. They are usually connections and solutions that are new because no one has aggregated the kinds of sources I do before.

Because of the almost visceral way I am plugged into the Internet and my instinctive understanding of how information is added, circulated, archived and indexed, it makes it easier for me to find unique as well as standardized sources of information. Once I start to identify causal relationships, dependent conditions, redundancies, all the little islands of duplicate efforts and all the places where there is no communication…things really start to cook. That’s where I am right now. So that is something that is happening in the back of my mind while I am also consulting on documenting peanut butter manufacturing processes and trying to finish my book.

The friend who started all of this isn’t much in my life though I pray every day that that could be different. When we do get to check in, they offer much needed feedback and input to help me direct my energy and most recently steered me into working to develop a concrete plan that we could perhaps work to execute together to make a real difference in the lives of many who are suffering. It would mean a lot to me to help even one sufferer. The recent soldier suicide report was extremely upsetting and left me very shaken. Especially if you consider it only took into account the month of July for one branch of the service, the Army, which isn’t even the force that is serving most heavily in Afghanistan… that would be the Marines. It also doesn’t take into account the number of suicides by Veterans who’ve recently returned or in the other branches of US Military service. Bottom line: No one in our military should feel alone or unsupported.

I don’t give a rat’s ass if you don’t support the war, the administration or whatever. YOU ALWAYS SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! Why? I can’t believe I have to explain this to anyone. They are attempting to live a life of service to this country. In many countries a year of service is mandatory. Service to others, your community, your neighbors, your fellow brothers and sisters in uniform and your country is something to admire and be proud of.

Our armed forces don’t “die for nothing.” If I ever see that posted in a comment on a website again I think I will lose it… I swear. What an utterly insensitive, cruel, judgmental and wrongheaded thing to say. I understand feeling helpless, angry and sad when young people die in service, especially in a war you may not support. But you need to respect that sacrifice and understand that they didn’t die for some political reason…they died to protect their brothers and sisters, their unit, the ideals we stand for as a country which in many cases is about being the representative of justice, compassion and protection for civilians who have no one to stand between them and death. That’s what America has always tried to stand for, the side of good, the side of justice. Sometimes I read posts where people say, why us? Why should we be out there helping those people? I don’t know…maybe because we are a tiny fragment of the Earth’s population but we use the majority of its resources. Don’t we have a responsibility to give something back in return? Shouldn’t we honor agreements we’ve made with allies? Don’t we have a duty to keep commitments to people who risked everything to help us find and reduce the threats to our nation?

I’ve recently heard from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts that people have looked at them with disgust when finding out they served in combat. That they’ve been treated shamefully by Americans who feel distaste at reasons we were in Iraq. They had no control over that. I am such a peaceful, compassionate person but I wept silently and was filled with a kind of fierce protectiveness to hear the break in such strong men’s voices, to hear shame for something they had nothing to be ashamed of. To hear stories of young men overcome by it and killing themselves rather than facing that kind of hostility the rest of their lives. Did we learn nothing from Vietnam? I was born after that war but my family raised me to understand that the way veterans were treated during that time was one of America’s greatest shames. How can it possibly be happening again?

All I ask if you are reading this is to please check any knee jerk reaction you might have to the military and the “war.” The people fighting it are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands. Their spouses, children, mothers and fathers are living here in agony waiting for news, dealing with news or trying to adjust to the changed person who has returned.

These folks who enlisted are mostly kids who went in for lots of different reasons, unsurprisingly a lot of them come from poorer families and they were looking for a steady paycheck to provide for a family or a chance to go to college or learn a trade. They dedicated themselves. They worked so hard to make it and then they serve in dangerous and unforgiving places around the world to meet the needs of our country. Honor them. Check this stuff out. Listen to your heart and see where it’s calling you. The media is barely covering this stuff and I can’t tell you how isolating it is to the families to know that America seems to have virtually forgotten them. I know people better than that. They are just like I was, they hadn’t crossed paths with someone who gave them a nudge and changed the way they saw the world forever. I now wish it for everyone.

Tonight I am praying a special prayer. It goes out to my friend and to all those who are suffering.

Father please be with those who are alone with their fretful thoughts tonight. Quiet the images, the noise, the restlessness and the fear. Soothe them, nurture them, give them peace and balm so that they find deep slumber and rest. Stay with them through the night, comfort them, those they love and those who love them. Be with them as they wake, at their rising and as they go about their work…whatever comes. Guard them and protect them, waking or sleeping, always surrounding them with your love. All this I pray in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.