I was checking out the DoD Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) information yesterday and saw some Army bases I recognized more than others. You can check out this PDF for a state-by-state listing of the DoD facilities affected by this round of BRAC. Some small towns are negatively affected when a major employer like DoD bails, same as when a one-factory town would feel a spiralling business crunch. Generally speaking, I'm all for it. If any government agency knows how to waste money through redundancy, let alone fraud and abuse, it's the Department of Defense. I welcome Rumsfeld's team tweaking the military and transitioning the force structure from Cold War needs to expectations of its mission in the next decades. I embrace the concept. The headline about saving nearly $50 billion over the next 20 years is a bit hard to swallow, though.
Think about it. That's $2.5 billion a year. If the U.S. continues to be convinced that the War on Terror is so important over the next 20 years -- since the current administration did leak out it would take a generation of people to "win" the GWoT -- we're likely to eat up the expected BRAC savings by growing funding needs in the Veterans Administration for proper healthcare and benefits in that program.
I fully support any funding the VA can obtain. I'm a bit bitter that Bush's neocon team put such a burden on the agency that shortly after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the VA would not accept any applications from other veterans. That's the little black hole into which I fell.
I can fully understand the logic behind the VA's rule making. While it may not have been jacked off on FOX news daily like stories of victorious biblical Bushisms, the non-reported story is that the VA was totally unprepared for the healthcare needs of injured service members, or perhaps the sheer quantity of the 12,000-plus honorable men and women needing care, since the start of Bush's Bag of Tricks.
So, when I quit my job to assist my mother in FL -- in order to make her last days on the planet more peaceful than a nursing home -- and then fell ill -- I had no insurance. I had served nearly a decade in the Army, active and reserve, but was denied any access to VA healthcare because of Bush's Iraq.
Especially so, when I got double-tapped with an illness, then an injury. Only months after I recovered from the death-defying illness, I shattered my leg. Weeks in between, my mom died. See the original Slow Motion Ninja for background on that. The hospital staff had me apply for social security benefits. The SSA decided that my injury was just temporary, so no help there -- even though I have yet to speak or see anyone from that agency.
And now my 'temporary' injury has now been nearly 18 months old, temporary. Imagine scrambling for income and survival, while laying horizontally in bed for months because the orthopedic surgeon advises you to not even sit vertically, upright at the PC. What would you do for money that first month, or the secoind, or the eighteenth?
Imagine using the aluminum walker, the shower chair, and the electric scooter chair -- that you originally bought for the use of your deceased mother, but somehow you've been using lately -- for the last year. That's just ironic grief fun -- because had I been healthy, I would have sold or given away those items that reminded me of my mom's troubled last year, but NO (Steve Martin voice). I got to use those things. No, I had to use those same things. And to explain some TAG comments from people who know me: It was a bit traumatic when my mom died, because I never knew my dad. Ever.
So here I am in survival mode. I happen to walk to the grocery store again tonight, prompting me to share a part II of Slow Motion Ninja. I actually weighed my backpack (bookbag-sized) tonight. It was only 25 pounds, but it felt heavier.
I only remember seeing my orthopedic surgeon twice. Both times, I blogged it. The day after emergency surgery and at his office on the only follow-up visit I ever had. Then, it was just 18 months of stress and it still is that way, today.
So, this last week I took a week off. A vacation from blogging, even though as many of you know, blogging can be a helpful venting of stress. I went on another walk-about to the grocery store tonight. Fine. But, how many people would spend two hours walking to the store -- let alone, if they were injured? Well, as you know already, I'm a phreek. So, I did. And not only do I just walk to the store, but I always push myself based upon their closing time.
Tonight, I arrived at the Winn Dixie, sweating profusely, with my backpack and cane about 10 minutes before their closing time. I had pushed it. I found a Zen way to distract myself from pain and discomfort, from burning sweat in my eyes, and from the click-click-click in my knee.
When pushing the limits of one's physical or mental self -- some people pray, some people chant to Bhudda, and some people crank up their Ipod. Having neither Ipod or God on this journey, I decided to distract myself from the physical by doing something totally mind-consuming, as I click-stepped and limp-walked in my own silence of the night down the street.
It takes almost two hours to walk up to the corner and back. That's about as long as many of you spend in church and likely longer than you actually spend praying or focussing on your God. I'm just saying. I was walking faster than my stupid lameness allows, sweating from the gills, and mentally, I was concentrating. I decided to calculate the cubes of numbers, one through twenty.
While that may not sound as Zen as Buddha in black spandex, or as spiritually holy as Christ on an Eggo Waffle, I just prompt you to try it before you dismiss me out of hand. After a while, I felt no pain. Was that a miracle from the ghost of John Paul II, or John Lennon, or maybe even the good lord George Bush himself?
Let me be specific. I'm walking with my handy-fucky-dandy aluminum cane to the store about 3 miles away, round trip. 1x1x1=1 2x2x2=8. 3x3x3=27. Cubes, dude. I have immense pain, every step. Distraction. 10x10x10 = 1000. 11-cubed ... step, step, step is 1331. 12, 13, 14 15 ... What was 12-cubed again? Think. Remember.
Apparently, my brain goes to 20 cubed on this trip. But, it was fun to figure out numbers like 17-cubed, in my head: times-times, add-add, carry-carry. Walk, click, step, pain. 17x17 is what? Walk, limp. Click-click, step. 289 times 17 equals what? Multiply, seperate. Remember. Add. Carry. Walk. Step. Click. 2890. Remember that. Step. Pain. Click. What is 7 x 289? Step. Click. Fuck! My zoink-brain says 2100 - 77. 2023. Step. Click. Pain. Add. 4913.
What was that first number? I got up to 20 cubed, then I memorized the answers because I was forgetting them an hour later on the way home, after I had to remember 12 numbers for the calculation of some other cube. I checked my answers though.
My leg and knee surely sucks, but the brain still seems to work. I got 1-20 cubed right. I checked it on the PC calculator when I got back. It's such a relief to realize that mathematic skill matters on my resume. Oh, crap. I forgot. In the new Bushworld economy, I'd be better off being able to guess someone's weight at a carnival.
Here's a fun idea: I could travel to Mexico and give up my U.S. citizenzhip. Then, cross back over the border illegally. Maybe then, I could get some some health care and various other government benefits. Mental note: refresh spanish language skills.
21-cubed? I'm saving that one for another day and a fast-moving brass-n-lead Gonzo brain tickler. I'm trying to stay positive here, right? Okay, fine. Click on the turtle. Check out the art of Darren Calvert. He added some new stuff. It's good.
Since many people went out and bought their Mommy a gift for Mother's Day, let's read this product advertisement. Apparently, Mom can enjoy an instant massage -- and it's cordless! No longer will Mom accidently unplug her massager trying to reach that special knot of tension just when she was about to be finished massaging herself.
Also, it fits in her pocket or purse. So, that's handy. I have a sneaking suspicion that some people might have read that purse-fitting feature in a lewd and lascivious way. Further, if you thought about anything just now except sore neck muscles when reading "penetrating comfort," you're just a naughty person.
It makes strained, sore muscles feel new. Well, that's just magical. I thought Kegel exercises did that. And I'm amazed, that five minutes does the job. If that was the case, I wouldn't buy this gift for my female friend, now would I? I'm a bit perplexed why the Men's model costs a dollar more, but I'm compelled to "give it to her."
VCS advocates a U.S. energy policy that relies on American innovation to ensure greater independence from foreign sources of energy. This is best accomplished through increased use of renewable, environmentally sound energy sources, and energy conservation efforts.
As a veteran, I became a member of VCS because of their principles. They understand that the new world in which we are trying to live has a energy-based cause to our potential future conflicts. The next 50 years -- or to put it another way: the next two generations of people -- will live in world vastly different from the one enjoyed by their parents and grand parents.
If you are reading this blog entry from a library computer in what the first world calls a third world country, your heirs may not experience a huge shift in standard of living, or everyday society. On the other hand, if you are in the so-called industrialized nations and part of the G-8 economies, you can either fight the changes in daily life that are inevitable, or start thinking about solutions to the problem.
Here are some basic things to ponder. Why would U.S. president Bush go on a Social Security Lollapalooza Tour of the country, when political pundits called Social Security the deadly third rail of politics? The third rail in a subway is the electrified one that kills you, should you touch it. Is it because Bush is such a brave man? No. It is a total distraction.
Warren Buffet is the multi-billionaire owner of Berkshire Hathaway. In some circles, he is considered as a living guru of making money. He has sold his shares in many stocks to build up a forty billion dollar cash reserve. He is investing in the foreign currency markets because Bush has sold the national treasures by running his outdated oil baron economy.
"A country that is now aspiring to an 'Ownership Society' will not find happiness in - and I'll use hyperbole here for emphasis - a 'Sharecropper's Society.' But that's precisely where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us."
Some years down the road, the current Social Security system would cause the U.S. government to pay out money it does not have. This is called deficit spending. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has squandered the federal budget surplus into deficit spending already, with his happy-happy, love-you-longtime, Bush tax cuts -- or the promised $300 per person Bush bucks -- which I think went directly into your gas tank, didn't it?
In addition, our U.S. trade deficit is growing exponentially every year now, too. The future Social Security deficit is a fraction of the current deficits Bush has been inflating with his economic policies since he took office five years ago. Bush is hanging onto the status quo oil-based economy at the cost of many lives.
There is a reason why I no longer post daily. In contrast, there are blogs with a half-dozen or more entries per day. I had to hold true to my every-other-day discipline not to publish anything about Jennifer Wilbanks, the Georgia peach who is now dubbed, "the Runaway Bride."
You see, after following the apparent abduction story of John Mason's fiance with much interest, I was awake the other night when news flashed that she had been found alive. "How wonderful," I thought. During the previous several days, I was glued to the TV news reports about this story.
Of course, the media ate the story up and hyped it in the hopes of big viewership ratings. Statistically, abducted people end up dead. Whether the abductee is a child or a female, usually they are snatched up by some psychopathic sexual predator who has a day to remember with them, kills them so as not to leave a witness to their depravity, and then buries them in some wooded shallow grave. Unless it is like a Scott Peterson redux. I'm not a legal scholar, but logic tells me that you can only have three or four trials of the century before people start ignoring the manufactured and featured news.
Speaking of the news, I have a personal rant I need to get off my chest for a quick mention, and then I'll return us to the regularly scheduled train of thought. Last year, my little slice of paradise successfully survived four hurricanes in nearly as many weeks. I mean, sure the power went out, branches and trees fell, and it was a stressful month or so.
When the storms passed, my happy little life returned to normal in short order. But, just recently I awoke to blinking LEDs on everything I could survey within my small kingdom because of some electrical outage from a passing thunderstorm. Even though it may be several days until I synchronize the clock on my microwave oven with the one on the coffee maker, what pisses me off most is that all evidence points to a lightning strike on the Cold War sized satellite dish that provides me with television.
Yeah. So what? I'll tell you, "So what?" Most of my television is piped through a third-party proprietary cable system originated from several satellite dishes and antennae arrays located out in the back forty of the grass and sand meadow, who some call a nine hole golf course. While I think the sport of golf is truly lame -- a sport for fat, rich, old people who need half-a-day away from their spoiled and snotty families -- I'm bummed out that lightning must have struck those archaic dishes out on the golf course.
Why? Because the only one left working is only providing me with the joys of Fox News, Christian Broadcasting and Shopping Channels. After I felt the need to stab my own eyes out watching Fox's "Beltway Boys" and then stopped myself from performing a self-lobotomy with an ice cream scoop from watching these "Bush Butt Boys" on Fox, I watched three movies tonight about the old testament. Unlike the ass-kissing Beltway Boys, at least Moses had a pair of balls big enough to speak his truth to power.
Mental Note: If one were to buy into the notion of Satanic symbolism, why aren't people alarmed that Moses' initial reason to jerk Pharoah's chain came from a burning bush (Flames=Hell) or that he was told to prove his Exodus message was truly from God by throwing his staff on the ground -- at which point it turned into a (Asp=Satan) serpent?
Unfortunately, this thinking allows me to re-board some of my thoughts about Jennifer Wilbanks. As I've already mentioned, I was awake when the news flashes came in. Live. Some uncut and uneditted footage for the sake of expedient broadcasting of the news. CNN, MSNBC, and FOX -- all jousting for the best spot and the newest, startling development.
Well, when Jennifer was found to be alive, people spoke of Elizabeth Smart miracles, and faith, and thank you for your prayers, and we knew God would answer our pleas. Being a bit sarcastic (you think?), I thought of those sports teams who thank Jesus for the touchdown and the win, and the championship, and the champagne in the locker room, and the party in the house and the front lawn in Duluth, Georgia. No one blames Jesus when they lose, do they?
It's never God's will that your loved one had a raccoon drag their skull fifty yards from a crime scene and identification of the body is delayed several days because the coroner can't get fingerprints from a corpse so decayed in a shallow grave. No one really gave Jesus any high-fives or props when they found Chandra Levy's body scattered down a park hillside, did they?
Here's the thing that somehow got under my skin. Everyone around this couple is so enamored with their feel-good, born-again christian psychological bullshit that they can't see the sword of Damacles hanging over their head, they refuse proven psychological normatives in the place of their disco-era faith in God, and they are obviously more concerned with their own vanity and what the community will think of them, rather than the reality of the situation and the facts on hand. No wonder Dubya was re-elected.
Before you pop off that cut-n-paste hatemail from Pastor's website, read your bible. I may bash Bush, and I may bash Evangelicals sometimes, but I do it because I'm continually surprised and simultaneously horrified that these so-called Christians don't bother to read their own bible. There are some interesting fables in the bible. I mean, Moses could probably have kicked ass against King Arthur's Merlin in some WWF smackdown. What gets me all grumpy toward some of the self-righteous and hypocritical people thumping some revised version of their bible is that they are the same people so quick to point our how violent, evil, or nefarious the Qu'ran is in some childish method of finger pointing and tattling.
I have to say, "You all need a time-out in the corner." Dunce caps are optional. Don't worry. Even though my sins have caused the Almighty to smite my good cable channels, I have total faith that sometime on Monday, some guy named Jesus (or Bubba) will fix the problem.
And that poor bastard, John Mason. Talk about rejection. His woman would rather cut off her hair and fake a kidnapping than get married. Got cold feet? Go Greyhound.