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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Monday, July 30, 2012

An open letter to all the media outlets (except NBC)

Dear Everyone,

PLEASE stop with the Olympics spoilers!! If the event doesn't air until prime time, don't tweet the results, or post them on your homepage, or run them on the tickler at the bottom of the screen. Its fine to say for results click here - that way I have the option. But I basically can't monitor the news these days without seeing a spoiler from someone - Washington Post homepage, Washington Post Twitter, White House Twitter retweeting Michelle Obama tweeting a spoiler... Just stop with it all please!!!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Chick-Fil-A Conundrum

The other day, a friend posted something on Facebook about the whole situation with Chick-Fil-A and its CEO talking openly about how he supports "traditional" families and is against gay marriage. I responded to her status with the following:
Honestly, though, I'd rather think that I'm supporting some local folks who would other wise be in the unemployment line. Just because the crazy at the top is the way that he is doesn't mean that every single franchise owner and chicken patty fryer is too. I would never donate to CFA, but I won't deny myself my two or three times a year indulgence because of the CEO either.
I then got yelled at by a friend of hers, and replied that if I worried about what causes the CEOs of every company I spend money on supports, I'd be a lot richer than I am today because I'd never be spending any money. She said that there are other places to get chicken. I thought nothing more about it until yesterday when I read Alexandra Petri's column from the Washington Post about this issue. Granted, she's tongue in cheek, but she made some really good points. In particular, the following:
... if a food item’s main selling point is the fact that it benefits some cause, it does not taste very good. You do not make a big fuss over the fact that your granola cookies benefit the rainforest unless people were unlikely to buy the cookies on their own. There is no such thing as a moral sandwich or an immoral sandwich. Sandwiches taste good, or they do not. That is all. Once you start judging sandwiches on criteria other than how good they taste, you wind up in a world full of mediocre sandwiches, and that impoverishes everyone.
This morning I read a column by Dana Milbank, another snarky WaPo opinion writer, who wrote about Mike Huckabee's Support Chick-Fil-A day idea. I found it entertaining, but I also think he's spot on.

I don't eat Chick-Fil-A very often, but I do enjoy it occasionally - let's be honest, they make the best chicken sandwich out there. But I have never been one to jump on board with boycots like many are trying to stage here. I also am not all about the efforts to "buycott." Seriously, if you're that concerned about a few pennies of your $6 chicken sandwich meal going to an anti-gay marriage organization, go donate (ideally more than $6) to your gay rights group of choice. Or, if you really feel strongly about no longer patronizing Chick-Fil-A, you'd better start researching the CEOs of every single company towards which your money goes. And good luck with that.

In The Shadow of Greatness, Part 2

I posted a few days ago about my USNA class's book, In The Shadow of Greatness, that is going to be out on 15 August.  I was lucky enough to be able to purchase an advanced copy, and I couldn't put it down. I started it Monday morning on my way to work, and finished it last night. And I have to say, I am so incredibly proud to be able to call myself a member of the US Naval Academy class of 2002. I also fully understand why my story wasn't chosen to make the print edition of the book. The stories that did make it were all better than mine, no question.

Our class was the first to graduate from the Naval Academy after 9/11, and the first to graduate during a time of war in our lifetime. The stories contained in this book include so many different experiences of my classmates since that May day in 2002. We have the last female F-14 pilot, who shared how she was able to live her dream. We have an explosive ordinance disposal officer who lived in real life what was portrayed in the movie The Hurt Locker. We have someone who took advantage of the Blue to Green program (which I almost did myself) and transitioned to the Army, and then had the responsibility of delivering the casualty notifications to families of his soldiers killed in action. We have the first military member to legally marry after the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. We have a classmate who was commissioned into the Air Force and finally found her calling when she got out. We have four stories written by the mothers of classmates who have died since graduation, one of cancer, two in training accidents, and one (which is written by his mother but in his voice) of our only classmate to have been killed in action. And these are just a few of the examples of the stories contained in the book.

Bottom Line: I very highly recommend this book. And not just because I'm biased.

My story will be included on the book's website along with many others that were submitted but didn't make the print edition. They say the goal publication date for those stories is September 11, 2012. Appropriate, I think. I can't wait to read the rest of them.

All profits from the book will go to the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2002, Inc., a 501(c)(3) (status pending) organization set up exclusively for charitable and education purposes that support education, training, and excellence within the Navy, Marine Corps, and veteran communities. Specific organizations that have been tagged to benefit include The Travis Manion Foundation, The Matt Freeman Project, Run To Honor, the Semper Fi Fund, Mission Continues, and the USMC Scholarship Fund.  It is available for preorder here, here, and here. Also, please go like the book's facebook page.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And now, for something completely different

I've been struggling with my weight my entire adult life. Yup, even in the military. I remember the first time I had to be "roped and choked" to make weight/body fat standards - it was my junior year, and where I had always been just on the edge of the weight limit for my height, I had, for the first time, gone over, and was required to be taped to measure my body fat. I didn't feel fat. I wasn't wearing huge sized clothing. I was working out fairly regularly, and was arguably in better shape than at almost any point in my life. So, as you can imagine, a bit of a complex set in, especially as this was the standard for my entire Naval career. It wasn't until my very last weigh in in the Navy, where I had just lost a significant amount of weight, that I was able to make weight without having to be taped.

Keeping weight down was a lot easier at the Naval Academy, when people were forcing my hand, and even on the ships, where workout gear was readily available and I was moving around a lot. But once I made the move to a desk job, and then to the civilian world, it became much harder. I'm not helped by the fact that some of it is in my genes - both of my parents and all of my adult siblings are constantly struggling with their weight. But even while at Annapolis, I was surrounded by girls and women who were just plain naturally much smaller than me, and who had much more discipline when it came to exercise and working out. Being at USNA was really the first time I remember being truly unhappy with my body.

I joined Weight Watchers for the first time about a year after graduation. The guy I'd been in love with for years was coming home from deployment and I wanted to look good for him. I made my goal, and didn't really think much more of it for several years. I was on ships, I was moving around, and I was in a pretty good spot, I thought.

Fast forward to 2007. I was the heaviest I had ever been at that point, and basically, some jerk on a free dating site I was trying out for shits and grins saw a picture of me and said no offense, but I'm not into fat people. OUCH. But it was the kick I needed. I got back on Weight Watchers, and managed to lose nearly 30 pounds over the next 6 months or so. I managed to plateau at about 20 below the starting number, and stayed there for a little over a year.

When I got out of the Navy, finding a job ended up being far harder than it was supposed to be. I finally did find one, but it wasn't what I wanted, and it was incredibly hard to be successful. It became more and more obvious that if I didn't find a new job, I was going to lose the one I had, but finding a new job was proving impossible. All of that stress, which culminating in finally losing my job and making the decision to move back to the DC area, resulted in me not only gaining back that other 20 pounds, but gaining nearly 20 more on top of that.

Since then, I've been back on Weight Watchers (although not always 100%). I lost about 15, gained about 5 of that back, and have been pretty much stuck. For YEARS I've been hearing about this paleo diet, and I finally started doing some actual research on it. Turns out, its not a diet, but a complete lifestyle change. Its focused on eating whole foods of the sort that our hunter/gatherer ancestors ate - meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts. It removes dairy, grains, processed foods, added sugar, juice, and most starchy foods. The best part about it is because its not a diet, you don't totally screw yourself if you cheat, or if you just go 80 or 90%. On top of that, everything that I'm reading seems to show that people like me (who struggle with weight, even when calorie counting) do really well on it, because instead of tracking the number of calories taken it it is focusing on the kinds of food, and the types of calories. I decided that I'm going to give it a whirl - people say they feel better, have more energy, and lose weight. It can't hurt - I know all the chemicals and processing can't be good for me.

Has anyone else tried paleo? Have any good recipe / food ideas?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In The Shadow Of Greatness

I've mentioned before thay my USNA class was putting together a book of our experiences. Well, its just about out, and available for preorder now. I hope you'll consider it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My thoughts so far on The Reagan Diaries

I'm in the middle of reading The Reagan Diaries, a book that is exactly as it sounds: A (slightly) edited compilation of Ronald Reagan's personal diaries from his time as President. And let me tell you what, it's been quite enlightening. Here are a few of my favorite highlights, so far:

- He hated Mondays. Just like the rest of us :)
- He hated having to spend even one day away from Nancy. Every time he had to travel alone or she traveled without him, he commented how lonely it was without her, and how he couldn't wait to be back with her. I think we all hope for love like that.
- He really was as straight laced personally as we were led to believe. The harshest words he ever uses are hell and damn, I mean h--l and d--n. Yup, he didn't even spell them all the way out.
- The political BS that is going on in Congress today is exactly the same as what was going on then, except it appears as though the roles were reversed. Tip O'Neill and the Democrats were blocking debt ceiling raises and tax reform, instead of John Boehner and the Republicans.
- The same world leaders that were causing trouble in the mid-80s (minus the Soviet ones) are causing trouble today, or at least in the recent future. Mubarek, Assad, and Qaddafi are all over those diaries. Oh, and there was just as much confusion as to how to spell Qaddafi back then. Reagan even notes at one point that he usually uses the last version that he saw, so he spells it at least a dozen different ways himself.

A lot of people like to hold Reagan up as a standard bearer, but it seems as though many who do so could learn a thing or two by really looking back at not just Reagan the President or Reagan the Politician, but at Reagan the Man. He writes many times about making compromises with the Democrats to get at least closer to what he wanted, and how important it was to personally get to know and meet with even the biggest of his political adversaries. That seems to be the part that's lost these days.

It's not a light read, and the diary entries are just as he wrote them, so until you get the hang of it (it took me really until about late 1982-early 1983) it can be a little confusing. But I'm really enjoying it, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys politics but needs a break from current events in that arena.