Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Blog

I am pretty amused currently.  A lot of times I am tempted to put smiley faces on this blog... right now one would be fairly reflective of my mood.  Not everything is great, but it's the lull before the inevitable end of semester cram-fest.  I mean there are other things on my mind... things about the car, issues I haven't dealt with.  Snow for example.  I don't even have an ice scraper.  I don't have jumper cables.  I haven't changed the oil and am wondering when I need to do that.  My car, Atticus is his name, seems to be doing well.  I just took a nice four-hour drive through some pretty crazy holiday traffic.  I am still pretty intimidated by traffic in general.  I was happy with how well I performed in the city once I arrived.

Both this evening and yesterday's were well spent playing some Apples to Apples.  Thank goodness for that ice breaker... sometimes I forget what to talk about outside of West Point's walls.  We share so much that is easy to talk about in our little gray fort.  I mean all you have to do is ask someone what they did last summer and everything becomes familiar acronyms and training and complicated systems that have become somewhat intrinsic to me.  I guess this is how people get stuck in the military, forgetting not what, but how to talk about subjects outside of military jargon.  I sometimes want to stop mid-explanation to civilians because as I explain one complicated system I realize it's related to another complicated system and they aren't possibly going to memorize it and no one expects them to... so how about we keep the explanation simple?  And on top of that, the academies are one big fraternity with an overabundance of rules which can all be traced back to an exclusive gentleman's code that was once associated with the place.  And I do mean fraternity because of the dominating male essence of the place.  Delicate, graceful, effeminate?  Nothing at West Point brings these adjectives to mind, except maybe the statue of Fame at the top of the supposedly largest free-standing polished granite column in the Western Hemisphere at Battle Monument.  And even Fame isn't the same, she used to have an exposed breast until some officer thought it was too arousing for the good ol' boys.  At least that's what the description was that I read in the museum, although the Wikipedia article claims it was just because the statue was too large and awkward.  I guess I'll have to go back to the museum to find out for sure...

More tedious research into the laws preventing women from serving in ground combat.  I began reading War by Sebastian Junger, since we're supposed to discuss this come the end of Thanksgiving Break.  I can't help get absolutely heartbroken when I read.  It isn't so glorious really:  war.  It is a tough job.  It is admirable of these men to take on this burden.  But whose to say women can't do this?  Who the hell has the right?  These men face a hard task it is true.  But I believe they have the potential professionalism to handle women at these isolated outposts.  Why don't they?  Why doesn't Congress?  Is the message that under the stress of combat, men are allowed to lose their ever-living minds and go on a sexist, raping rampage with any women who might have the misfortune to find themselves on a combat outpost with the sex-deprived, mentally and physically exhausted men?  Is the message that under a constant and dreadful threat men would irrationally protect women who chose to serve under the same conditions?  Is the message that the social fabric of a mixed-gender unit under heavy enemy fire and subject to constant assault and ambush would disintegrate and all hell would break loose?  What does a book like this do but show that the complexities and complications of war are as much of an issue for an all-male unit as they are for a mixed-gender unit.  I don't believe this would be much worse if there were women interspersed amongst the men.  I wonder if the psychological strength of a woman would help with issues such as PTSD.  I wonder if anyone would admire that woman, no matter who she was personally, and would anyone hold her as a hero in their hearts.  A woman who goes to war can hardly be seen as seeking glory and fame.  It does less good to a retired female soldier to have been in combat.  What good does that do her when she can never have the honor to be counted a Ranger or an Infantryman or someone whose job it was to go to a place and win the nation's wars by engaging in direct combat with the enemy?  It's an honor.  We honor those who take on this incredible burden.  It isn't the same in all countries.  This has nothing to do with my thoughts on war... but once you're in it, and once you are a soldier, you have a duty and a commitment.  A woman who wants to defend her country in the same manner by directly engaging the enemy ought not be prevented and surely ought not to be persecuted for it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Who can see the Future? And who Believes it?

I have been wanting to post a lot this week, but every time I am at the computer and have some time I don't have the motivation.  It's very much the same with my academic work as well.  At any rate there has been some introspection going on, and some curiousity about events outside my control.

On women in the infantry and armor branch.  To be honest, it seems like the same wall is there that existed here at West Point for women's wrestling.  I feel like a shell of a woman in that aspect.  Just having missed the NYAC Holiday tournament.  I am really down and out about it, like I let myself down, but I made the cogniscent decision at least a month in advance.  I was wondering if I'd have the time at the end of August.  Judging by how behind I currently remain on paper upon paper... I really need to buckle down and plow forward.

Oops, I digressed.  Back to women in infantry and armor.  The problem that is repeating is the lack of women who want to.  I want women to have the right, I would be willing to serve in infantry, but I am lacking in some ways.  I would have to fight and work hard to pass the male minimum standard of push-ups.  I would struggle in day to day PT in Infantry.  I am unsure if I could do it.

Yet another side of me argues that isn't important.  What is important is being willing to suffer for the right for other women.  And even if that was only a few women, well we all deserve the chance.  It's a patch in the social quilt that is our patriarcal society.  Let's face it, historically presidents usually have military background.  The best way to advance in our military is to be in the combat arms.  The combat arms have the most prestige.  It's not the only route, but it's a significant path.

I guess what is bothering me is even if I am not the most qualified woman and even if the most qualified women don't want to currently... can I still fight for women to be allowed in the military?  How would I deal with defeat in this aspect?  What would defeat look like?  As gradual as my defeat in wrestling?  I am worried I will never get back into wrestling.  I wonder if I've grown into other pursuits... or simply lost touch with wrestling in any way serious.  I can still roll around... but what about the future.  What about my other goals?  What about beyond the Army?  I want so much, but some of the things I want would entail maybe further service.  And I'm not so sure how the military career suits me yet.  I never imagined life as a Transportation Officer.

There are so many more things to write, but currently this will have to suffice.  Until next blog, Danke.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just to Clarify... then more Rebelliousness

A few recent events have made me a little panicky about this blog.  I just want to clarify that I'm not an investigative blogger.  I have no pretensions with this blog.  It's just perspective, it's just thoughts, and hopefully it's mostly the truth.  I believe like all people who blog what is on their minds I've had enough figurative foot-in-mouth moments of embarrassment that make me want to go back and delete a post for something I wrote... but I guess if I did that I would have only a pitiful handful of entries on this blog.

Whew! Now that's out of the way, I have noticed some hullabaloo about the full body scanners... I had to go through one in Europe.  They aren't so bad, but the scanner still picked up my zippers on my boots and the buttons sewn into my jeans, things that didn't set off the metal detectors (in some airports in Europe you don't have to take off your shoes)... so I still had to get a pat-down.  It was done by a female, but I felt annoyed.  Why did I have to go through the machine if I was getting a pat-down anyway?  Obviously the technology is lacking.  Thus far and from this side, my biggest complaint lies with the inefficacy of these new machines, I'm not too sure about radiation side-effects when supposedly we get a lot of those from holding cell phones to our heads too.

I also am suspicious of stricter measures at airports and perhaps throughout the states in the name of national security.  Airports are already nightmares of waiting.  And even if we do implement a new measure it will only be as effective as the last without the budget to go with the manpower to enforce it.  I am just skeptical that making things more inconvenient is a viable solution.

On a slightly related but hilarious side note, apparently a certain airline's insurance does not cover the following:

This plan does not cover any insured Loss caused by or resulting from:
  • Intentionally self-inflicted Injury, suicide, or attempted suicide of the Insured, Family Member, Traveling Companion or Business Partner while sane or insane;
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, or elective abortion, other than Complications of Pregnancy;
  • Participation in professional athletic events, motor sport, or motor racing, including training or practice for the same;
  • Mountaineering where ropes or guides are normally used. The ascent or descent of a mountain requiring the use of specialized equipment, including but not limited to pick-axes, anchors, bolts, crampons, carabineers, and lead or top-rope anchoring equipment;
  • War or act of war, whether declared or not, civil disorder, riot, or insurrection;
  • Operating or learning to operate any aircraft, as student, pilot, or crew;
  • Air travel on any air-supported device, other than a regularly scheduled airline or air charter company;
  • Loss or damage caused by detention, confiscation, or destruction by customs;
  • Any unlawful acts, committed by the Insured, a Family Member, or a Traveling Companion, or Business Partner whether insured or not;
  • Mental, Nervous or Psychological Disorder or rest cures;
  • If the Insured’s tickets do not contain specific travel dates (open tickets);
  • Use of drugs, narcotics, or alcohol, unless administered upon the advice of a Physician;
  • Any failure of a provider of travel related services (including any Travel Supplier) to provide the bargained-for travel services or to refund money due the Insured;
  • Experimental or Investigative treatment or procedures;
  • Any Loss that occurs at a time when this coverage is not in effect;
  • Traveling for the purpose of securing medical treatment;
  • Care or treatment which is not Medically Necessary;
  • Any Trip taken outside the advice of a Physician;
  • Financial Default;

War or act of war is my absolute favorite ^^ if insurance doesn't cover this, than I don't want it.  You can never be too sure, right?  And what's the point in buying it, if it won't cover your basic acts of war or other international incidents? Naturally I jest ;)

Once again I've written a blog over a lengthy period of time and in between work and homework.  Of course the night ends with me knowing I am still not caught up with my work and still need to work on my thesis and still need to submit those interviews!  Occasionally I feel overwhelmed.

At the last few exciting events and talks I've been to, I've had the chance to shine in natural brightness.  It's a nice feeling.  I am not claiming to be very intelligent.  Facts and figures escape me.  I open mouth insert foot all the time.  It's such a hit and a miss, but I've made some new friends and this has reaffirmed some beliefs I've held about myself all these years.  I was also spurred into more action... but still a part of me reflects on myself, my particular strengths and weaknesses and what I want to do with the rest of my life.  It's such an open road, I really promise to write more about this another blog.  Until then, tchau!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Put on my Red Dress

Hello world, it's been so long since I wrote on this blog.
Anyway, been feeling a lot rebellious.  It's another year and yet again I am spurred to fight with all my heart.  Feels like things have come full circle in many ways.  Plebe year it felt like running into a wall of bricks.  I still remember struggling on the BEAST Barracks rucks.  I was so out of breath.  I remember a female chaplain telling me (kindly) to calm down.  On our first ruck on the ski slope I felt tight-chested and then like I couldn't breathe.  I had to catch my breath.  Then and several times in between I've been plagued with self-doubt in between personal victories.  Am I suited to this profession?  Is my weakness at bearing heavy loads something that makes me unfit for this privilege of officership?  I sometimes forget how small I am in comparison with a lot of my peers here.

Tonight was Branch Night.  A branch in the army is defined as:  "a particular area of expertise" according to Wikipedia.  And we all know that Wikipedia is the absolute in common knowledge.  At any rate, my branch, in which I'm expected to be technically and tactically proficient is:  Transportation.  The me from a year ago would probably be aghast.  The me of today is more patient, though just as proud.

And speaking of things I never thought would be true.  Does anyone else wish there were more warnings on the privacy sacrifices made by using popular technology?  I mean, a lot of these friendly apps from Android linking with Facebook and seemingly innocent shares of information are a bit scary.  Here's a real quote from the Guardian Project of Android.

"The ability for a group of people to passively track each others locations in a secure manner has quickly risen to the top of the must-have list. Consider a team member traveling to another country or remote region with the support team being able to easily, but securely, ping their device at any time to determine their current location."

The website actually offers some great solutions to privacy intrusion, but this goes back to the real issue of how much protection of your information do you actually need to go to lengths to?  Where is there "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the techonologically-enabled world?  Thought the below video was pretty funny and the dystopia we all seek to avoid.  I don't believe in anything like Terminator or Matrix... but something along the lines of 1984 seems all too possible.