Sunday, November 30, 2008

Points - You Win Some - You Lose Some

You all know that I use a point system in every aspect of my life. I give points, I strive to earn points, I ask for points, I demand points (that part never works with SB, even when he stops laughing). Every good thing I have ever done was (in some part) with the hope of gaining points for heaven. (Yes, yes, Grace, I know you say it doesn't work like that, but since neither of us has been there yet, I could be right).

My Dad and my brother Frankie are working on my bedroom again today. My father came out and handed me two screws. "You need a jar or a margarine tub to keep these kind of things in. You never know when you will need this screw. These are nice screws." As he was talking I walked into the kitchen and picked up an old spaghetti sauce jar (yes, sauce from a jar, I am Irish, I like it) and walked toward him - it was full of random screws and bits.

"Yes, very good."

Woohoo! A point.

I don't know how much I deserve the point. After all, the jar is only to have shut the other men in my life up. My exhusband John , Joe who works on the house, Mike the worst b/f eva, my father, my uncles. Any man who has ever helped me with a project has presented me with something at the end and told me to save it. Boards, strapping, dryer parts, half of a piano hinge and a ton of screws and nails. I keep the jar, although every once in a while I dump some. Otherwise the stupid jar would over flow. I have never once used something out of the jar. Although to be fair I think Frankie (my son) has. So the point is for having a place to recycle good leftover bits. Yet I have never used and any and I only keep it to shut people up. Do I deserve the point? Well, I have other points I don't deserve, so I don't care.

A point is a point.

And then I lost it.

My father had refinished one of my windows because the glass broke. I took it to Charlestown, he repaired the glass stripped the wood, painted it, caulked's perfect. I brought it home and put it in. It was easy, there is no framing around the window because there are no walls yet.

I hear him yelling at Frankie and walk into the bedroom. Frankie is laughing. "Who put that window in?" he demands, pointing at it.

The problem is immediately apparent to me. The window is upside down. It doesn't save me from the window lesson. LOL Good thing I am not on steroids today, I might have burst out crying.

A well, off to see if I can't do something right. It would be nice to finish the day a point ahead.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yahoo Names "10 U.S. Places to See Before You Die"

10 U.S. Places to See Before You Die
By Andrew Harper
Many people have a list of places they'd like to visit before they move on to the next world; here are a few American suggestions of my own.
For conversation's sake, I have avoided the obvious targets, but a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge or a trip up the Empire State Building is still definitely worth it.

Though we are lucky to live in a beautiful country, I have mostly focused on smaller, manmade sites, simply because a catalog of pretty American places could stretch on forever.
This list is admittedly subjective, but comes from 30 years of professional wandering. Some places are more well-known than others, but all share a sense of tranquility and wonder.
And since I review small boutique hotels for a living, I have included nearby recommended places to stay. Happy travels!

1. San Francisco de Asis Church, Ranchos de Taos, N.M. Famously painted by Georgia O'Keefe and described by her as "one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards," this handsome adobe mission a few miles outside of Taos Pueblo yokes together a staggering five centuries of North American history.Harper hotel: Casa de las Chimeneas, Taos.
2. Whaling Museum,
Nantucket, Mass.
At its whaling peak during the first half of the 19th century, the small island of Nantucket had 88 ships scattered across the oceans. The Whaling Museum is wonderfully evocative of this era (plenty of scrimshaw and rusty harpoons), and out-of-season Nantucket Town, with its Greek Revival mansions and cobblestone streets, is equally enchanting.Harper hotel:
The Wauwinet.
3. Battery District,
Charleston, S.C.
The historic Battery District of Charleston, South Carolina, home to dozens of stately antebellum mansions, is one of the prettiest U.S. neighborhoods I've ever explored. Follow the promenade along the shores of the Charleston peninsula; Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, sits broodingly across the Cooper River.Harper hotel:
Planters Inn. 4. Madison Valley, Montana
Montana's Madison Valley, which runs between the Madison and Gallatin ranges down to West Yellowstone, is magnificent Lewis and Clark territory. This is unspoiled land, vast and uncompromising — everything you hope Big Sky Country will look like.Harper hotel:
The Lodge at Sun Ranch.
5. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum,
Housed in a charming Venetian-style palazzo, this gem of a gallery displays works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Whistler and Sargent. It's small enough to tour in an hour or so, and you can spend the rest of your time enjoying the sunny, flower-filled courtyard. And if your name happens to be Isabella, you get in free.Harper hotel:
XV Beacon.
6. The Four Seasons Restaurant,
New York City
If you had to choose only one restaurant in New York City to visit, this would be the one. The city's prettiest dining room was designed by architects Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, and astutely hasn't been touched since its introduction in 1959. The Pool Room is a study in muted sophistication, despite some of the outsized egos at the tables.Harper hotel:
The Lowell.
7. The Rothko Chapel,
This small, non-denominational chapel located just off the Menil gallery in Houston's Museum District seems unassuming at first, but spend some time surrounded by the 14 mysterious paintings by Mark Rothko, and it may start sinking into your skin.Harper hotel:
St. Regis.
8. The Huntington Gardens,
San Marino, Calif.
Huntington did quite well in railroads, and he's left us with a wonderful afternoon escape just outside of Los Angeles. After admiring some of the spoils of his industry — a Gutenberg Bible, a Shakespeare folio, Thomas Gainsborough's "The Blue Boy" — venture out into the superb botanical gardens, home to dozens of unique environments: an almost eerily authentic Japanese garden, a lily pond straight out of a Monet painting, and an entrancing collection of cacti.Harper hotel:
Hotel Bel-Air.
9. Robie House (Frank Lloyd Wright,
The Robie House, the world's first modern home, was designed in 1908 by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and still seems startlingly contemporary 100 years later; with its broad horizontal lines and sleek art-glass windows, it looks like a modernist yacht. Wright himself showed up to protest the planned demolition of the house (it was to be replaced by a seminary dormitory) at the ripe old age of 90. Harper hotel:
Four Seasons.
10. The Oregon Coast
Highway 101 along the Oregon Coast swerves through 360 miles of jagged cliffs, rocky outcrops, sweeping dunes and temperate rain forests. The coastline lacks deep harbors, so there are no large cities here — just old logging towns, fishing villages and the occasional artist colony. And the entire coast is public land, which makes for excellent picnic opportunities in rugged and remote spaces.Harper hotel:
The Stephanie Inn, Cannon Beach
Certainly the Whaling Museum on Nantucket I can get to pretty easily. And I have been to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, although not in quite a while. That sounds like something I can round up my sister and nieces for. We'll add dinner and make it a "Girl's Day". We'll skip the hotel recommendation of XV's lovely, but a little pricy!

Comments? Suggestions? Offers to take me to the others?

Passing Along My Condolences

Many times I have found myself confronted by the grief of others and been at a loss. In those instances I have used the words of others. I have quoted those I consider to be more wise.....Mama Kelley......President Lincoln....

After 9/11 Leonard Slatkin dedicated this piece to us. It was performed September 15, 2001 at the Albert Hall in London.

To the survivors of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the loved ones of those who did not survive.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Am Used and Abused

Stopped by Jen's tonight to hang after work. We are all messed up, we think it's Sunday night.

So we were watching an episode of "The Unit" stored in the DVR and it was set in Afghanistan. One charecter announces he is Pashtun. Jen asks me "What is that?" I reply that it's an ethnicity in Afghanistn and list several others.....Uzbek, Tajik, Turkman.......

Jen smirks "Of course you know that. No one else watching this show knows that....nevermind spouting off the others."

I replied "You know, you ask these questions and I answer you and then you ridicule me. I'm not answering anymore."

She laughed and said I couldn't help was like a form of Tourette's.

Another note........last night I watched a month old episode of "Grey's Anatomy" and a man showed up on the show!!!!! LOL I don't watch it often, all the guys are too young, too skanky or half gay. But Major Owen Hunt is an actual man. He isn't prettier than I am and he hasn't slept with half of the hospital staff and he was authoritative without being pissy. Bonus, they cast Lucius Vorenus.
An anonymous commenter left a YouTube link to all the scene with Major Hunt or "Major McManly" as they are calling him. Apparently I am not the only woman to notice, lol.
Thanks, Anonymous! (I highlighted the link in red because he is hot! LOL)

A Funny From Bigg Bill

In my email box this morning....a giggle.

You know what would really PISS OFF the Democrats...

Bush should resign now.

Then Dick Cheney becomes President (that would really PISS OFF the liberals)!!!

Then he appoints Condoleezza Rice as Vice President.

Then Cheney resigns two weeks later and Condoleezza Rice, A Republican, becomes the first BLACK President and the first WOMAN President !!!*

Of course, this is just a joke. I don't advocate this sort of nonsense in real life anymore than I advocate the nitwits who say Bush should resign so Obama can get a head start on being POTUS. Such nonsense.

Imagine if a similar suggestion had been made in Clinton's lame duck days. LOL

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I am off to my parents house to enjoy all the things Thanksgiving should be in America - a time to eat too much with those that you love.

Meanwhile there is still time.

Wrapping Up Valour-IT

Thank you to everyone who donated, participated and helped us in anyway.
"Go on, then, in your generous enterprise with gratitude to Heaven for past success, and confidence of it in the future. For my own part, I ask no greater blessing than to share with you the common danger and common glory ... that these American States may never cease to be free and independent." --Samuel Adams

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Go Bid On Team Navy's EBay Books!!!!

Go to this sell's EBay page to see all the Valour-IT items. The last three are from Team Navy.

Other posts about the auction.
Navy Cyberspace

Time is running out!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Might Ditch Thanksgiving Dinner With My Parents

I might have to go to Rachael's.

She's telling us some crazy story about making pie crust with vodka.

Ummmmm, that sounds like fun.

Go Bid On Some Great Navy Things For Project Valour-IT

OK here are the links

"Six Frigates" by Ian Tolls. This is a must read Navy book. The author has graciously agreed to personally autograph this book for the winning bidder.

"A Most Fortunate Ship" by CDR Tyrone Martin, USN (ret). This book about USS Constitution was written by the 58th commanding officer of this great ship (I contacted him through Old Ironsides's current CO, thanks Bill). The winning bidder will have to be a little patient, it will take a little longer to get as the author is currently traveling outside of the US, but you will have it as soon as possible. And really now, isn't having it inscribed to you worth the wait?

"The Two Ocean War " by Samuel Eliot Morison. Ok, this isn't going to be autographed because the author passed away when I was a sophmore in high school. But it comes to you straight from Princess Crabby and it also comes with something extra. A Barbary War Medallion. Which is a limited edition commemorative from the USS Constitution Museum.

More about these items in this post.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Princess Crabby and the Bad Juju

Sounds like a children's book, doesn't it? "James and the Giant Peach"......"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"......."Princess Crabby and the Bad Juju"

I was so wrapped up in how great this drug-free week was going to be that I forgot to respect my Druid heritage and knock on wood. Don't tell Amii Stewart.

Sunday I headed up to Mass & CCD to be followed by a "la-la-la" over on Comm Ave with my goddaughter Deb, dinner with my parents, a baby shower and finally "24" last night.

Much of this did not happen. Instead I ended up on pain meds, curled in a ball on my bed.

One of the side effects of chemo is that you are susceptible to opportunistic infections.
Maybe I need to throw a few acorns in my pocket.

Book Auction For Team Navy

So part of the Valour-IT fundraiser is auctioned items. You know I am a little slow lately so I sent out an email to my Navy coterie asking "Ok, what's the newest coolest book for a Navy person to have/want?"

The first reply was for Ian Tolls "Six Frigates". I emailed Mr. Tolls and he very graciously replied that he would be happy to help us out. Then there were a few other suggestions and I have my requests out there. I'll be at this until the last possible moment.

Then I got a suggestion that baffled me "Japanese Destroyer Captain" OK! Tameichi Hara was born in 1900. If he is still alive he is 108! What are you guys thinking?

But no one can beat EagleSpeak for his suggestion - "The Two Ocean War" by Samuel Eliot Morison. I've been by this guys statue a million times. He's been dead since 1976. There will be no autographed copy of this.......but I thought this was funny anyway.

Now get over to Ebay and bid on our books..............

We have "Six Frigates" by Ian Tolls. The author will be personally autographing this brand new hardcover for the winning bidder.

We also have "A Most Fortunate Ship: A Narrative History of Old Ironsides" by CDR Tyrone Martin, USN (ret). the author is the 58th Commanding Officer, USS Constitution. Again, the author will be personally autographing this brand new, revised paperback for the winning bidder.

Finally we have the book highlighted in the video above.

THE TWO OCEAN WAR: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War by Samuel Eliot Morison (Little, Brown & Co., 1963) 611 pp. hardcover with dustjacket, maps. This is the classic one volume overview of the naval war drawn from the author's 12-volume official history. Book is in very good condition, no marks or loose pages, DJ intact but shows some wear around the edges.

However, this book comes to the winning bidder from Princess Crabby the "Goddess of the naval blogger strike group" with an added gift.
Commemorative Copper Medallion
This brand new limited edition medallion, made from copper taken off the hull of USS Constitution, has been commissioned in conjunction with the opening of The USS Constitution Museum first-in-the-nation exhibit: The Barbary War: Piracy, Politics, and Power. One of the defining events of the Barbary campaign was the bombardment of Tripoli by a fleet led by USS Constitution. That action is featured on the front of the medallion. The reverse side features a quote from our own Constitution of the United States of America: "To Provide for the Common Defense" and a likeness of the federal eagle found on the stern of "Old Ironsides".Commemorative Copper MedallionThis Commemorative Copper Medallion is a limited edition of 7500. It is made exclusively from copper taken off the hull during refitting in the 1970s and is struck to the highest standards. Each medallion comes in a clear protective plastic case and is presented in a blue, velvet-lined box. A certificate of authenticity is also included. The medallion is made exclusively for and under the oversight of the USS Constitution Museum

Barbary War Medallion Item #181.

The bidding for each of these three books starts at $50.00

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bob Cerasoli Getting It Done In NOLA

New Orleans Inspector General will return $1.2 million to city coffers from his 2008 budget
Though New Orleans Inspector General Robert Cerasoli's newly created office still lacks a computer system and nearly half of its staff, City Council members on Friday said they are pleased with his work, particularly after hearing that Cerasoli plans to return to city coffers $1.2 million that was earmarked for his office this year.
Read the whole article here.

You know.......Bob's from Massachusetts. He is a standup guy.

Valour-IT Day 13

Come on!!!! Get out here, click on this link and donate to Project Valour-IT.


Listen to this snippet of Chuck explaining to Greta the impact his voice activated laptop had on his life.

Timing In Life Is Everything!

Today is day two of the drug free week. I feel great! Just in time for my 30th high school reunion.

I had a great time in high school and have never missed a reunion. I've talked to a lot of people on the subject of high school reunions and I am always surprised at people's attitudes. I am in the minority, most people seem very blase about them.

Of course I am very lucky. When our senior class president didn't pull anything together for the 5th year another classmate took over and has been running them every five years since the 10th. Jim Odian sets up a venue, finds us all and has pictures to prove what a good time we all have. Pope John's class of '78 owes Jim Odian a great debt.

Someone in work asked if I'd be telling people about the cancer and I was surprised at the question. That would be the last thing I would bring up! My heaven's, you are there to have a good time and catch up with old friends. Imagine - "Hey great to see you! What's new?" and I say "Oh, stage IIIA multiple myeloma!" LOL.....I'd rather not go. But I did wonder if anyone might know anyway. I am not the only one who still has parents in Charlestown and some of my classmates have siblings who were classmates of my sisters and brother. So there was the chance someone would know, but it never came up.

Instead, people asked how I was and I said "Life is good." Because it really is for the most part. There were people there tonight who have had such heartache and I really am quite lucky. One of my favorite saying is "If we all stood in a circle and threw our problems into the'd take your own back".

One of my classmates had emailed me right after the announcement was made last spring. She asked if I was going and I said "But of course!" I watched for her to show up as I talked to other people and moved about the bar. Finally after a half hour I caught up with Jim and asked if she was coming and he told me no. I guess I should have paid more attention. I just assumed after the email she would show. She'll be getting an email from me!! LOL

Out of a class of 208 students there were about 80 or 90 of us there. I had a really good time and lasted far longer than I could have on one of my other weeks.

Thanks Jim!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

USS Freedom Is Coming To Boston

She will be here 01 DEC and I have to get a tour.

Who is hooking me up?????

I have emailed the PAO, but I might need someone with juice to explain to this guy





Seriously, anyone who can help me.....I'd appreciate it.

Victory In Iraq Day 22 NOV 2008

Go read the Armorer's post today.
Victory in Iraq* Day, 22 November 2008 *(maybe)

Here on the right we don't all agree all the time and I like the thoughtful turn this post takes.

Valour-IT Team Navy on Day 12

Project Valour-It - the Home Stretch

Maybe you aren't in a postition to make a big donation. Believe me, I understand. But maybe you have a great email list. We can use your help. Consider sending out a blast email about Valour-It.

Here's a draft email that we are hoping goes viral.

"I'm sending you this email because I'm a patriotic American like you...
As the 2008 holiday season approaches and you are busy with your plans and completing your shopping on a shoestring budget, I wanted to give you something to think about and ask for you to reach into your heart and pocket for a donation of as little as $1. You see, while you are home eating a fine meal as a family or opening gifts this season, many of our wounded soldiers will still be in the hospital. They are not asking for your pity, but they would appreciate your help as they fight to reclaim their lives.
One group helping them is
Soldiers' Angels, with which I volunteer. Though Project Valour-IT, they provide voice-activated laptops for our wounded who can no longer use a regular computer, GPS systems for those with traumatic brain injuries and severe post-traumatic stress disorder that cause memory and positioning challenges, and Wii systems used in physical therapy sessions. In fact, doctors and therapists request these items from Soldiers’ Angels because they know they will support the physical and emotional recovery of wounded warriors.
Please take a few minutes to think about these wounded heroes who have sacrificed so much for us, and what you can do for them. Please consider a small financial sacrifice of your own. If everyone who got this email gave as little as $1, think of all the technology we could purchase for the wounded! Oh, and best of all, ALL the money you donate will go directly to purchasing the technology I described above. Soldiers' Angels is also a 501(c)(3), which means your donation is tax-deductible.
Thank you for reading this and please pass this on to everyone on your e-mail list. Together as Americans, we can support those who sacrificed so much for us! Please visit to donate!

Thanks for reading this."

Cut and paste it onto an email. Tweak it to fit you. If you think you can get away with it, push Team Navy, lol. But send it out to everyone on your email contact list and see if you can get them to forward it.

Here's Something I've Never understood

I am a big proponent of free speech. Clearly I am out here exercising my own on a regular basis. I have demonstrated publicly. I have defended the right of others to say things I strongly disagree with. But what some people do with that right baffles me.

I don't mean those who clearly abuse it, using their right to rain down hate on others, or try to use their stronger voices to shout down dissent. Everyone can see that's wrong.

This is an example - Bigg Bill sent me this story about the recent confrontation between a small Christian group in the Castro and angry homosexual men. Of course, these Castro residents were wrong to scream and shout down the small band of Christians. Especially since the Christians go their all the time to sing and pray and their appearance on that particular night had nothing to do with the Prop 8/gay marriage controversy. The behavior of the Castro residents was completely hypocritical. Screaming and harassing and intimidating a smaller group - it's disgusting.

But the part I don't get is why the Christians were there in the first place.

Yes, I know it's their right to be in the Castro and say and do anything they want. But why? Why go just to agitate? Why are they down there in the first place? I have never understood the whole proselytizing thing. I have never opened up a random conversation with a stranger by telling them why they need to know about my religion. I have never tried to convince someone to become Catholic. I think it is the height of arrogance to tell someone that they should conform to your belief in God. The way I was raised was that my faith was my business......and yours.....was your business...

Forty-five Years Ago Today a Light Went Out

But rather than focus on the dark.....I'd like to remember the light.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Armorer is Picking on Noonan Now

Project Valour-IT
By The Armorer on November 20, 2008
Heh. Let's not forget Project Valour-IT. Last year, the Air Force was led by the ElTee from Op-For. I used this little known snap of Noonan to generate support for squashing those flying insects.

Go read the whole thing.

But he still managed to take a swipe at Princess Crabby.

LOL! How's that view of my backside baby!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

OK, Some Of You Are Here For Answers

I have a few, but not the big ones.

I am super cranky, it's steroid day.

I am very irritated with some people. Some deserve it - some don't. But you know how I roll - When Maggie is unhappy, she is rarely unhappy alone.

I have a lot of stuff to sort out.

Last night I opened up a letter from Dana Farber. I had asked them for a copy of the report from the doctor who *didn't* win and there was a little bombshell in there.

I saw the words. Took off the glasses and read it again. the words were the same. Then decided I wasn't ready to read it, closed it and went to bed.

This morning I opened a little pack of M&Ms let the chocolate melt in my mouth and read every word carefully. Then I went on line, printed some relevant material to read on the train.

You see, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing kids.

When the words "multiple myeloma" were first pinned on me back in July I went out and did some reading. I knew that according to the Durie-Salmon scale less than 10 was MGUS, less than 30 was smoldering. When they gave me my number - 32 - I translated that to Stage I. Now if that were the only fact in evidence I would be correct.

But it's not.

But I never asked. Of everyone I have ever seen in relation to this I have never said "So, what stage am I?" Because in my mind that was not in question. And by an odd coincidence no one ever said to me "Hey, what stage do you think you are in?"

Last night's letter described me as having stage IIIA multiple myeloma on the Durie-Salmon scale.

How do you like them apples?

Now this actually doesn't impact anything or anyone but me and after the initial shock (did I mention the shock?) it's actually helpful because I now understand the urgency Dr. H and Dr. M feel, lol. I now understand their aggressive approach.

Further, I am very borderline. The Dana Farber classified me as IIIA (stage III, working kidneys) but Dr. Miller says stage IIA. So that's a judgement call. Both agree that on the ISS scale which is newer than Durie-Salmon (D-S has been in use since 1975) I am stage II. The hilarious thing about stage II on both scales is that the definition is literally "neither I nor III". Stage III on D-S has four criteria - one I solidly have, one I definitely don't have and two I am close on. So I can see why a conservative opinion is III but Dr. Miller says II. We will be asking Dr. Hochstin.

I can see how this happened because I called my primary care physician for the results and she said point blank she didn't know how to interpret the raw data and she was questioning the IGA vs. the IGG. I told her that was fine , I know, just tell me the number. So in my conversations with Dr. Hochstin I spoke of having my test results. I never said they were raw numbers with no interpretation.

Also, there are people like me, IGA, stage I or better with no symptoms and a non-elevated Beta2. But they are all very recently diagnosed like me.

The people I have been reading about and listening to all were diagnosed three years ago or more.

So this post should have links and shit.....but truthfully, I'm in no effing mood for that.

I am writing this post for the sole purpose of telling people a little about what happened today because as much as they want to know they are holding off on calling me out of courtesy. And I appreciate that.

I will not know the results of the blood tests until Monday at the earliest, which pisses me off to no end.

However, there is more reason to believe that the Revlimid is working. I really like Dr. Miller. He has a quality that I can only describe as elfish. He's not small or anything, but he gets this twinkle in his eye and this conspiratorial smile when I amuse him. I gave him my theory on why I thought Revlimid wasn't working and he followed my logic, but told me it was incomplete.

My point was that Revlimid worked by suppressing the bad plasma......"Yes" he said and began to smile and pull on his lapel, waiting his turn. But it also suppresses the whites and the platelets which is not happening to me. Plus IGA lambda is known to be drug resistant.

But it turns out that the drug resistant statement is old. It was known to be drug resistant in the past against past drug therapies. That is something I should have picked up in the IMF video conference last week. They discussed the newness of Revlimid/ld Dex.


Then he pointed out that the bad plasma crowd out the platelets and whites by overproducing. so if the Revlimid was not working on the bad plasma the numbers on the other two would be dropping, not holding up.


So we bet a dollar. If the serum M protein is lower, I owe Dr. Miller a dollar.

We will know on Monday or Tuesday.

So I am off to bed in my warm insulated lavender/chamomile room.

Tomorrow begins 7 days of no drugs.

BTW, did I mention that Saturday night is my 30th high school reunion? I am psyched! I had the greatest time in high school.

The End of the Second Cycle

In a half hour I will get on the train and head into downtown to meet with Dr. Miller. I took the last revlimid yesterday and the last of the steroids today.

We will see if this had any effect.

If I were a betting person, I would say "No".

Saying this really peeves certain people.

It's put me in a unique position. No, not peeving people, I've been doing that forever. I mean being the only one looking at something logically.

IGA tends to be drug resistant. We knew that from the start. Revlimid works by supressing the bad plasma, but at the same time it supresses platelets and white blood cells. My platelets and white blood cells are fine. They have been checked every two weeks or so since October 1st. So, it seems logical to me that it had no effect on the bad plasma. I am just connecting the dots as I see them.

People yell at me, or speak sternly but it is logical. So they follow up with "Well, you just have to keep taking it until they tell you differently. LOL I did! I took every blasted one of them even though it was quite masochistic. I have never so carefully adhered to a schedule or a plan as I have with these pills. Every day's plan centered around where I would be around noon and making sure I had stuff with me.

So now, let's see who wins...........logic or hope.

I have other questions too. Yesterday I got the report from my September visit with Schlossman. It's making me question my staging.

You know what they say about a little knowledge......I know just enough to make myself crazy. Plus, it's steroid day and my head is pounding.

Battle of Tarawa remembered on 65th anniversary

By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press
TARAWA, Kiribati – Master Sgt. James M. Fawcett got on his knees and gently mixed his father's ashes with sand on the same Pacific beach where the elder Fawcett fought his way ashore 65 years ago.
Maj. James L. Fawcett died in September at the age of 89. He wanted his ashes taken to the spot where half of his 50-man platoon were killed during the first two hours of the Battle of Tarawa, one of World War II's most brutal battles.
"What a great way to end a great life," the younger Fawcett said Thursday after he fulfilled his father's wish. He was "a guy that was just an incredible hero and an incredible father," he said.
Fawcett later joined a ceremony observing the 65th anniversary of the Nov. 20, 1943, start of the three-day battle. The United States aimed to take Tarawa from Japan, which had controlled the island since Tokyo ousted the British three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The fight for the tiny atoll halfway between Hawaii and Australia was the U.S. military's first major amphibious assault in World War II.
Victory gave the U.S. control of a critical airfield it used to launch planes to bomb new Japanese targets and spy on Japanese positions. It also taught the Navy and Marine Corps crucial lessons in amphibious warfare that would help the U.S. take island after island as it pushed west across the Pacific to defeat Japan and end the war.
But the gains came at great cost.
More than 990 U.S. Marines and some 680 sailors died, while almost 2,300 were wounded. Only 17 of the 3,500 Japanese troops — and 129 of the 1,200 Korean laborers forcibly brought to Tarawa by Japan — survived.
"The battle that unfolded here was one of staggering sacrifice, almost inconceivable challenge," Adm. Timothy J. Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said at the ceremony marking the anniversary. "Their courage and commitment and sense of honor inspired a nation."
Four Medals of Honor — the nation's highest award for combat valor — were earned at Tarawa, one of them posthumously. Thirty-four Navy Crosses, the Navy's second-highest award for valor, were issued along with some 250 Silver Stars.
The U.S. had expected to significantly weaken the Japanese position before the Marines landed by assaulting the island with long-range bombers and sorties launched from aircraft carriers. Battleships and cruisers lobbed shells.
The Americans planned to have 3,000 Marines on the beach in 30 minutes, followed by 6,000 more hours later. Instead, the Marines took hours getting ashore, and lost hundreds of men doing so.
The U.S. made two especially costly mistakes.
One was dramatically underestimating how many Japanese would survive their aerial bombardments. The other was misreading the ocean tides, causing U.S. transport boats to get stuck on the reef. Many Marines were mowed down by Japanese machine-gun fire when they were forced to abandon the boats and wade ashore.
After assessing the results of Tarawa, U.S. commanders decided they would need more amphibious troops to invade Kwajalein and nearby islands. They also determined they would need to drop precision bombs over long periods to take out the concrete bunkers that had protected Japanese troops on Tarawa from aerial attack.
Keating, who commands 300,000 U.S. troops in the Asia-Pacific region, urged those working for him to learn from World War II veterans while they are still living.
"Pay attention to the survivors while we can," he said.
And though the region is largely at peace, Keating cautioned against getting complacent.
"Don't take what we have today for granted," he said. "We must not be overconfident."
On Red Beach, Fawcett stood up and saluted his father's ashes after mixing them with the sand. A fellow Marine who had been observing silently walked up and joined in the salute for several minutes.
"It was simple, and he would have really liked that," said Fawcett, 56. "I'm sure he's very gratified right now."

Gov Sanford Testifies Against Yet Another Bailout

10/29/08 Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina asks Congress *not* to fund a bailout for state governments.

Sanford flummoxes Rangel to the point where he keeps interrupting Sanford. So finally, Linder of GA has to say "Mr. Chairman, why don't you let him answer your questions?" Rangel says "Hello?" (LOL, voices from on high!) Then Linder says "The point I made is - If you want answers to your questions, let him answer them"
Sanford is a guy for the GOP to watch. I say that even though the phrase "y'all's grandkids" is like fingernails on a chalk board to me.
H/T Bigg Bill

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

VI Day - 22 NOV

If you read here with any regularity you should be able to figure out what I am saying in the post title. After all, you would look at it and two other "days" would spring to mind..... VJ Day and VE Day. Then, following the pattern, you would realize I am talking about Victory in Iraq Day.Because that's what we have achieved. Saturday, November 22nd - Victory in Iraq Day.

From Uncle J
From Eagle1
From the Phibian
From ZombieTime
Be sure to scroll all the way through Zombie's post to see the links and other banners.

Valour-IT Book Auction: It's On!

From Laughing Wolf at Blackfive

Valour-IT Book Auction: It's On!
Posted By Laughing_Wolf
NOTE: Funds raised from the auction will go to general fund and not to any service team.
I've hinted a bit, and am pleased to pass along the following:
Soldiers' Angels
Best-Selling Authors Provide Autographed Books to Support Project Valour-IT
Seven noted authors have stepped up to support Project Valour-IT by donating autographed books for auction, and more are anticipated to join them. The books are being auctioned on eBay to help raise money to help Soldiers' Angels provide adaptive laptops to wounded or disabled service members.
David Weber, David Drake, John Ringo, David J. Williams, Dean Ing, Mark L. Van Name, and Travis "Doc" Taylor have all agreed to provide works for auction as part of the annual fundraiser, which kicked off on Veterans Day and ends Thanksgiving Day. The works are being auctioned on the eBay Giving Works listings (seller spliffslips) with the money raised going directly and fully to the Project Valour-IT fund.
Currently, there are seven items up for bid on eBay

Go read the whole post at Blackfive and The Armorer's post on the auction here.

Join Team Navy

Join Team Navy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Got A Promotion, But Don't Worry......

Jennifer and her BFF will keep my head from getting too big.

This morning's ID post -
So I am looking through the list of supporters for Team Navy, you know, pretending like I'm actually leading this fleet. For the record, I'm not, Boston Maggie is doing all of the work and I'm doing everything the Queen of the Sea tells me to.

I tell Jen in the car on the way home......."I got a promotion today. I'm Queen of the Sea."

"What sea? Like the Black Sea? I could understand that. An important sea?"

Then later SB responds in exactly the same way! "What sea?"

I laughed. "That's just what Jen said."

"Well? What sea? Chelsea?"

I repeated that one for Jennifer.....she's still laughing.

If you are from Charlestown, you get why the Chelsea thing left a mark.

The Goddess of the Naval Blogger Strike Group is Gracious

Let me help out those in second place because they are not handling 2nd place very well.

Thanks to SJS for the graphic. You should go read his series of Valour-IT posts

Military Health System Web Town Hall

Military Health System Web Town Hall
The Military Health System will host a Web town hall on Nov. 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. EST on as part of the ongoing dialogue between senior military leaders and service members and their families about the Defense Department’s medical care programs and services for its wounded, ill and injured troops.
Subject matter experts and service members and families who have been touched by warrior care will be on-hand to answer questions. Specifically, representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Office, TRICARE and other organizations dedicated to military family health care are scheduled to participate in the event.

Service members and families are invited to submit questions in advance.
Webhall URL:

H/T Jack @ DoDLIVE

Monday, November 17, 2008

Princess Crabby Is Under Attack!

***UPDATE The attack continues!****
I am the victim of a scurrilous attack by a fiendish member of Team Army!

In this villian's misguided attempt to extract information from me, it was pointed out that the ACLU won't let me be waterboarded (they also won't let me get in a car with Ted Kennedy).

But this knave had something more diabolical in mind.

"I'll just post proof you're a closet Army supporter."

Can you imagine a more vile attack to be made against the "Goddess of the naval blogger strike group"?????

This is apparently the sort of thing we can expect from Team Army when they are behind in a friendly competition!

Please direct NGFS here.

Two More Pills Until My Furlough

I just took my daily dose of Revlimid.

There are two pills left after this in the second cycle. Then there are steroids on Thursdays.

Then I am free for a week!

I am soooooooo looking forward to the week that begins on Friday.

I will be more productive at work. Spend more time at the gym. Be slightly more pleasant to be around. And be able to do more about Valour-IT.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Valour-IT Day 6

Friday, November 14, 2008

Greta & Chuck on WIST Radio Tomorrow

Greta and Chuck will be talking about Valour-IT

Go to WIST-AM tomorrow at 0930 CST

The call in number is 1-800-888- WIST.

If you miss it, there will be a podcast available on Monday.

Greta's post about tomorrow is here.

Of course, they are both on the Army once they explain why Valour-IT is so sure to go here and donate through Team Navy!

RCT-5 Celebrates the Marine Corp Birthday in Iraq

Regimental Combat Team 5
Camp Ripper, Al Asad Airbase, Iraq
H/T Dvidshub

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My First IMF Video Conference

Turns out it was a first for everyone. They drowned me in information and I will post once I process it.

An Inside Perspective on Advancements in Multiple Myeloma
Hosted by the International Myeloma Foundation

Take advantage of this exclusive opportunity to hear from and speak directly to leading international myeloma specialist Brian G.M. Durie, M.D., Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and national director for hematological malignancies at Aptium Oncology.

Thursday, November 13th at 3:00 pm EST
This was co-sponsored by Celgene, the makers of Revlimid. Revlimid is the pill I am tormenting myself with................seriously, it's the main component of my little cocktail.

How Do You Say "Don't Taze Me, Bro?" in Somali?

US Navy seeks to zap pirates
Naval commanders in the Gulf have requested ray gun technology to disable pirates without triggering gunfights that could endanger hostages.
by Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent Last Updated: 8:08PM GMT 12 Nov 2008
US vessels patrolling the Gulf of Aden and other waterways plagued by resurgent pirate gangs are to be fitted with "non-lethal people zappers," according to the DefenseNews publication.
Vice Admiral Bill Gortney has requested delivery of a range of systems for the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. The Active Denial system delivers a six foot wide ray over a range of 800 yards.
Anyone caught within the beam experiences an overwhelming sensation of burning skin, forcing a potentially hostile pirate to seek shelter "or even jump overboard."
A second system, the Long Range Acoustic Device targets a suspect with a 500 yard beam of excruciating noise. Sailors can attach the device to an Ipod or MP3 player to repel pirate boats with renditons such as Hells Bells by the heavy metal group AC:DC.
An explosion of piracy off the coast of Somalia has jeopardised the crucial Suez Canal shipping route, leaving naval forces in the area scrambling to react. The US-led naval fleet in the Gulf has traditionally policed the area but has been unable to contain the scale of the challenge.
The EU has set up anti-piracy naval operation for the Gulf of Aden, headquartered at Northwood, Middlesex. The Kremlin despatched a frigate to patrol the area after a shipment of Russian armaments including tanks was captured by pirates last month.
A Russian newsagency report said Russia and British vessels had jointly repulsed a pirate attack in the region. "The activities of the pirates were thwarted through the joint efforts of the Russian warship and the British warship," a Russian navy statement said. "The pirates tried to shoot at the ship using assault rifles and carried out two hijacking attempts."
Heliocopters on HMS Cumberland and the Neustrashimy (Fearless) were despatched to defend the Danish ship, the Powerful.
The Pentagon has in the past turned down operational requests for such devices that disable rather than kill hostile elements, fearing future legal action by victims. A spokesman refused to confirm that Adm Gortney's request had been accepted.
Dozens of ships, mainly merchant vessels, have been seized by gangs off Somalia's 2,300-mile coastline in recent years, despite the presence of Western navies deployed in the region to fight terrorism.
H/T AOShack

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Valour-IT Day 2

First - Steeljaw Scribe throws down the gauntlet to the Zoomies

Next - A press release from Valour-IT, it's more than just laptops.
Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT is conducting a fundraiser to provide Wii game systems, personal GPS, and voice-activated laptops to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen.
(PRWEB) November 12, 2008 -- Teenagers and families aren't the only ones going wild for Wii. Whole-body video game systems like Wii can help wounded military personnel recover. As part of refocusing Project Valour-IT, military support non-profit Soldiers' Angels is conducting its annual fundraising competition to help ensure the wounded have access to Wii systems and other technology that supports their recovery.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Charlestown Armistice Day Story

Veteran’s Day is Remembered as Armistice Day
“World War I ends 90 years ago”
By Bill Durette
CHS Veteran’s History Project
This Veteran’s Day will mark the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day which marked the cessation of hostilities with Germany during World War I. It took effect on the eleventh Hour of the eleventh Day of the eleventh Month in 1918. In 1919 President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day and in 1938 Armistice Day was enacted as an official American holiday.

After WWII, citizens felt that the veterans of all wars should be recognized, not just those of WWI. So in 1954 Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. But for this year’s veterans day we should remember the origin of the holiday and remember it as Armistice day to honor the men who fought in what was commonly referred to as the “Great War” and “The War to end all Wars” World War I. In particular we should honor those Charlestown men who served with distinction on the battlefields of Europe. Of the approximately 100 Charlestown men who lost their lives serving in WWI, most were killed while serving with the 26th Yankee Division, some serving in the same company. The Yankee Division, although a National Guard Division, was rated one of the top performing divisions during the First World War. The division put new meaning in the expression “The Yanks are Coming.”

But before the US entered the war several Charlestown men joined the allied countries already fighting the Germans in Europe. One young man was William P Nearen, and I’m referring to him as a young man because he was underage when he joined. William ran away from home and joined the British expeditionary forces under the assumed name of John J Powers. He served with the 8th Irish Battalion and the 9th Battalion of the 78th Kings Liverpool Regiment. William would lose his life on August 12th 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. The Somme was the scene of horrific fighting in France that took the lives of 300,000 men. Nearen Row in Charlestown is named after William, the same street where his family would live years later after his death.

There were five other Charlestown men who would also join up with British and Commonwealth forces prior to the US involvement. They’re the Randell brothers; four of the brothers would lose their lives during the war. Leroy and Harold would enlist in 1914 with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces serving with the Canadian Black Watch. Both were killed in April, 1915 at the Battle of Ypres in Belgium. Thomas Randell was killed serving with the British Expeditionary Forces at the 2nd Battle of the Somme in April of 1918. The fourth brother Frederick lost his life at the Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915. He served with the Australian Expeditionary Forces. This battle was made famous by the 1981 movie “Gallipoli” in which over 10,000 Australian and New Zealanders lost their lives, along with one Townie, Frederick Randell. There was a fifth brother, James, who like Leroy and Harold would also serve in the Canadian Black Watch. He was severely wounded in 1915, and later served with the Lancashire Fusiliers. He returned home after the war the lone survivor of the Randell brothers. Two other men also served with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, William Carter who was killed on Sept 30th 1918 and Eldon Ellston who was killed Oct 10th 1918 in France.

When the US finally entered the war on April 6th 1917, the Yankee Division was one of the first divisions to enter combat. Many of the Charlestown men who served with the Yankee Division were originally mustered into the 5th Infantry Regiment located at the Charlestown Armory on Bunker Hill Street. They then would be transferred to the 101st Infantry Regiment of the Yankee Division. Many of the men would serve in Company A and B of the 101st Regiment. The same regiment commanded by then Colonel Edward Logan for whom Logan Airport is named after.

The Yankee Division landed in France on Sept 17th 1917. It entered the front lines on Feb 6th 1918. The Division spent a total of 210 days in combat and would suffer by war’s end 11,955 casualties, close to 50% of the division’s strength. The majority of the casualties occurred during the fighting North of Verdun, France and during the St Miheil offense.

The fighting North of Verdun occurred in the last weeks of the war and was the scene of some of the bitterest fighting of the war. The Germans defended this area tenaciously. They weaken their positions along the rest of the front but built up this particular area because of its strategic location. The area itself was ideal for defensive positions with many wooded hills, for which the Yankee Division troops captured with frontal assaults, but at a high price. It was in this fighting that many of the Charlestown men would lose their lives and many acts of heroism would take place.

Not only did combat take its toll on the men fighting but the 1918 Influenza outbreak would also take its toll on the men fighting. Influenza killed more than 25 million people worldwide. The flu is believed to have started within the Army and then spread worldwide by soldiers who shipped out overseas to Europe. Of the approximately 100 Charlestown men who died in WWI, roughly 25 men died from the Influenza outbreak, mostly in September and October of that year. One of those men was Major Fred McDonald who fought in the Spanish American War. Other Charlestown men who died of Influenza were Charles W McGoldrick, William J McNulty, Michael R O’Brien, John J Sweeney and William L Walsh.

Charlestown was certainly not short of heroes during WWI. We had eight men win the Distinguished Service Cross during the war. The DSC is the Army’s highest award. Eight men winning this award from our small neighborhood is no doubt impressive. Five of those men were Yankee Division soldiers.
One of those men was Sergeant Westra Higgins of Company C, 101st Infantry Regiment. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on October 23, 1918 north of Verdun, France. Sergeant Higgins alone attacked two machine-gun nests which were holding up the advance of his platoon, killing four of the enemy and capturing two.
Another Distinguished Service Cross recipient was 2nd Lieutenant George Meehan, an accomplished swimmer who was an officer with the 1st Infantry division. Lt Meehan would lose his life on Oct 9th 1918 from wounds received on Oct 5th 1918 near Exermont, France. He led his men through heavy machine gun and artillery fire urging his men forward by advancing ahead of the line during the attack before being wounded. This inspired the men to advance and take the objective. Cornelius O’Neil also served with the 1st Infantry Division and was cited for Gallantry in action. He was killed on Oct 9th 1918 near Fleville, France.
Several Charlestown men distinguished themselves during the Battle of Chateau Thierry. This is the campaign where the Germans advance towards Paris was stopped by the Americans. It also was the first offensive action of the war for the Americans. This is where Lieutenant Joseph A Molley of the 2nd Infantry Division won the DSC. Lt Molloy was awarded the DSC for extraordinary heroism in action near Vierzy, France on July 19, 1918. Lieutenant Molloy was leading his platoon through a heavily gassed area, when a large shell struck in the middle of his column, killing 15 men and wounding a like number. He himself was badly shocked, but immediately set to work administering to the wounded, despite the darkness, terrific shelling, and the necessity of wearing a gas mask, he administered first aid to practically all of the wounded, single-handedly, and secured their transportation to the rear. Another soldier was Captain George E Irving of Company B 101st Regiment who was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry and meritorious service for his actions in July of 1918 during the Battle of Chateau Thierry. Captain Irving would eventually be wounded on Oct 26th 1918 during the fighting North of Verdun. Another Chateau Thierry campaign hero is Victor J Roska; a US Marine who lost his life on June 4th 1918 from wounds received fighting at the famous battle of Bellau Wood on June 3rd.
Another decorated soldier is James W Corbin who enlisted in 1915 as a private and who was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant on Oct 1st 1918. He would be awarded the Silver Star and French Croix De Guerro for Gallantry in action on April 12-13th during the battle of Seicheprey. He served with the 104th Regiment of the Yankee Division and was awarded the medals because he continually exposed himself on open ground under enemy artillery fire to maintain the lines of communications. This is the same battle for which the 104th Regiment had its colors decorated. It was the first unit in US Army history to have its colors decorated by a foreign government. The regiment would again have its colors decorated by the French in WWII.
Other notable heroes were Private Arthur J Brickley, who was an ambulance driver that was awarded the French Croix De Guerro. He was known as a zealous driver who effectively evacuated wounded over routes violently swept by enemy artillery fire.
Private James T Hennessey of the 101st Infantry, who was wounded on May 31st 1918, was cited during the desperate fighting at Belieu Bois North of Verdun between Oct 23rd to Oct 27th 1918. He distinguished himself by performing extraordinary deeds of heroism. Private Herbert Lorenzi, a motorcycle dispatch courier with the 79th Infantry Division was cited for gallantry in action for performing his duties by driving his motorcycle mostly at night and alone under adverse conditions. On wet, slippery, congested roads often under shell fire and through gas, he unfailingly accomplished every one of his missions between October 8th through November 11th 1918. Sgt Arthur Van Tassel who served with Company H, 101st Regiment was cited for his actions during the St Miheil offensive. His citation reads “During the operations of this division in the advance against the enemy from September 12th to 14th, 1918, which resulted in the cutting off of the St Miheil Salient, by the march to Vigneulles and Hattonchatel, the following named officers and men, by their acts of personal bravery and devotion to the common cause, have again upheld the traditions of the American people, enhanced the already brilliant record of the Yankee Division, and have proven the sterling qualities of the American soldier. The Division Commander takes this means of expressing his gratitude and appreciation of the gallant deeds of these officers and men.
One Soldier, Samuel Swanson from 49 Monument Sq served with his father in the Yankee Division. He would go on serve with the 101st Field Artillery in WWII, the same unit he served with in the Yankee Division during WWI. He’s one of two recorded cases of a Private First Class in the Yankee Division that served in both WWI and WWII.
Those are just a few examples of the fighting spirit and bravery of the men who came from Charlestown that has spanned from the Revolutionary War to the present day.
Many of the hero squares around the town are dedicated to WWI men such as Frank Maffa who has one at Sullivan Square. He served with the 28th Division and lost his life on September 6th 1918. His two nephews, Francis and Canderlero Salvato, both brothers, would also lose their lives in WWII. Like Frank Maffa, both have a hero square located at Sullivan Square. Joseph C Crowley who died aboard the missing ship Cyclops has a hero square. Joseph A Miller who was killed on Sept 13th 1918 during the St Miheil offense and Peter H Smart who was killed on June 15th 1918 have hero squares. James J Tierney is another one who has a hero square located on Ferrin Street. He was killed in May, 1918 fighting in the Toul-Boueg, France sector. Joseph P Murphy and Frank W Chappie were both killed serving aboard the Ship “Jacob Jones” when it was sunk by an enemy submarine on December 6th 1917. Murphy has a hero Square and Chappie Street is named in honor of Frank Chappie. Frederick D Emmons is one of the men the Charlestown rink is named after. He was killed on Sept12th 1918 during the St Miheil Offensive while serving with the Yankee Division. Many of the courts at the Bunker Hill projects are named after men who served in WWI.

Another notable dedication is the Clarence R Edwards Middle School in Charlestown. It’s named after Major General Clarence R Edwards who commanded the 26th Yankee Division during WWI.

This year’s Veteran’s Day will no doubt see many events honoring veterans. But this year let’s pay special tribute to the WWI men. So on November 11th at 11:00 AM, exactly 90 years ago to the hour when fighting ended, remember those men who lived in Charlestown a long time ago who fought in the “Great War.”

Great job Bill!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Valour-IT Kickoff!

Welcome to the 2008 Valour-IT Fundraiser. This will run from Veteran's Day, November 11th through Thanksgiving, November 27th.

As in the past we will be breaking up into service related teams. Although with how exhausted everyone is after the elections, we aren't really emphasizing that this year. It's more to make sure that each team reaches out to their network as much as possible.

In the next day or two we will be getting widgets up on every blog that will host one, but for now you can go here and make your donation.

Galrahn of Information Dissemination has graciously agreed to be the Navy team leader and I am his assistant/cheerleader.

Please drop me a line here or and email me to let me know of any blog you think would join us.

Remember the more people who know about Valour-IT and the great work they do....the better for everyone.

Project Valour-IT
(formerly Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops)
In memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss

Project Valour-IT began when Captain Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss was wounded by an IED while serving as commander of a tank company in Iraq in June 2005.
During his deployment he kept a blog (an online personal diary, opinion forum, or news analysis site-called a milblog or military weblog when written by a servicemember or about military subjects). Captivating writing, insightful stories of his experiences, and his self-deprecating humor won him many loyal readers. After he was wounded, his wife continued his blog, keeping his readers informed of his condition.
As he began to recover, CPT Ziegenfuss wanted to return to writing his blog, but serious hand injuries hampered his typing. When a loyal and generous reader gave him a copy of the Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred software, other readers began to realize how important such software could be to CPT Ziegenfuss' fellow wounded soldiers and started cast about for a way to get it to them.
A fellow blogger (blog author) who writes under the pseudonym FbL contacted Captain Ziegenfuss and the two realized they shared a vision of providing laptops with voice-controlled software to wounded soldiers whose injuries prevented them from operating a standard computer. FbL contacted Soldiers Angels, who offered to help develop the project, and Project Valour-IT was born.
In sharing their thoughts, CPT Ziegenfuss (now a Major) and FbL found that memories of their respective fathers were a motivating factor in their work with the project. Both continue their association with this project in memory of the great men in their lives whose fine examples taught them lasting lessons of courage and generosity.
In the years since its founding in 2005, the project has acted to meet emerging needs and its mission of supporting the the severely wounded has expanded. In addition to voice-controlled laptops, Valour-IT now helps provide active and whole-body video games such as Wii Sports, which is used to great effect in physical therapy, and personal GPS systems that help compensate for short-term memory loss and organizational/spacial challenges common in those with brain injuries.
So reach out to everyone you know and ask them to "give up something for the wounded". Small donations can be significant if we reach enough people. Giving up a small luxury in your life could result in $25 that can be donated to Valour-IT. If you don't blog, you could send an email out to all the same people you send crazy jokes out to.

Happy Birthday Marines!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Last Lecture

Sometime last fall I watched "The Last Lecture". It was interesting and moving and I remember crying a little at the end. My impression was that Professor Randy Pausch was a very unique person.

Then in late July, I read of Professor Pausch's passing. We discussed it in the office and Rachael mentioned she had the book that went with the lecture. She brought it in the next day and I have been reading it in small doses ever since.

Rachael's mother was stunned that she gave me the book. She told Rachael that she felt as though she should write me a letter of apology on her daughter's behalf. I laughed and told Rachael to tell her mother not to worry, I was loving the book - in small doses.

I've just finished it.

I highly recommend it.

See? Not everything I read is Navy...or porn....but I repeat myself.

Seriously, read the book and watch the lecture. Even if you are the picture of health. I was in great shape when I watched the video last fall (or at least I didn't know I wasn't, lol). There is really something in it for everyone.

USS Freedom Commissioned

081108-N-9269B-098 MILWAUKEE (Nov. 8, 2008) Sea Cadets stand in formation as the crew of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) mans the rails during her commissioning ceremony at Veterans Park in Milwaukee, Wis. Freedom is the first of two littoral combat ships designed to operate in shallow water environments to counter threats in coastal regions. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katherine Boeder/Released)

Story Number: NNS081108-20Release Date: 11/8/2008 9:46:00 PM
By Chief Mass Communications Specialist Rhonda Burke
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. (NNS) -- The crew of USS Freedom (LCS 1) ushered in a new era in naval warfare, Nov. 8 as the ship was brought to life at Milwaukee's Veterans Park before a crowd of nearly 10,000.
The ship was officially placed in commission by Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, who remarked the Navy was commissioning not just Freedom but a new class of naval war ships.
"In this platform we are making the right investments in our future security and in our prosperity," Winter said. "For those of you who will have the privilege of serving in Freedom you will play a leading role in protecting our nation's interest and in ensuring stability of the global economy. You will also be called upon to serve in a ship whose namesake defines the very aspirations of the American people and of people the world over."
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, said Freedom will never have a more important crew than its first one, for they are the ones that set the tone and standards that will endure.
Freedom also represents a new concept in how and where the Navy is going to operate in executing the Maritime Strategy.
"USS Freedom will sail as an instrument of that strategy. Hers will be the march of the mind, with the spear and the shield, she will proclaim and insure the freedom of the seas and the freedom of the nation," Roughead said.
Freedom is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft.
Following the Secretary's commissioning, the ship's two commanding officers, Cmdr. Donald Gabrielson, Blue Crew and Cmdr. Michael Doran, Gold Crew, took command, set the first watch and raised the ensign.
The first ensign flown over the ship had previously been flown over Baghdad. After its ceremonial unfurling, it was hauled down and presented to the ship's sponsor, Birgit Smith, in honor of her late husband's sacrifice in defense of freedom. Smith is the wife of Army Sgt. First Class Paul Smith, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Clutching the American flag and flanked by the ship's two commanding officers and two senior enlisted leaders, Smith tearfully gave the order to the crew of Freedom, "man our ship and bring her to life."
For the crew, the commissioning was the culmination of three years of hard work.
"It is great to be part of a first of class new ship that is outfitted with 21st century technology," said Mineman 1st Class (SW) Jeff Steele, who has been with the crew since July 2006. "We have worked long and hard for this day and to bring her to life and go out and operate."
A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Freedom will act as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles.
Its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis.
The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.
Freedom is the first of two LCS sea frames being produced. Freedom will be manned by one of two rotational crews, blue and gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments.
The 378-foot Freedom was constructed at Marinette Marine Corporation, Marinette, Wisc., and was the first naval vessel to be built and commissioned on the Great Lakes since World War II. She will be home ported at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., as part of the Pacific Fleet.
This photo is from the ship's christening in 2006. The ship's sponsor, Birgit Smith, is the widow of the first Medal of Honor recipient from the Iraq War. Mrs. Smith donated a St. Christopher's medal worn by her husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, who was killed during a firefight in Baghdad in 2003. The St. Christopher's medal and the couple's wedding rings are part of the ship's mast.
060923-O-0000X-004 Marinette, Wis. (Sept. 23, 2006) – The nation’s first littoral combat ship, USS Freedom (LCS 1) – the inaugural ship in an entirely new class of U.S. Navy surface warships – makes a spectacular side launch during her christening at the Marinette Marine shipyard. The christening ceremony included the traditional smashing of a champagne bottle across the ship's bow, performed by ship's sponsor Birgit Smith. The agile 377-foot Freedom -- designed and built by a team led by Lockheed Martin -- will help the U.S. Navy defeat growing littoral, or close-to-shore, threats and provide access and dominance in coastal water battle-space. Displacing 3,000 metric tons and with a capability of reaching speeds well over 40 knots, Freedom will be a fast, maneuverable and networked surface combatant with operational flexibility to execute focused missions, such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare and humanitarian relief. Photo released courtesy Lockheed Martin.

I Need To......

.....pull my head out of my ass.

I have to shift focus. I am floating along on a sea of disappointment. My sense of ennui threatens to overwhelm me.

McCain lost. And right now I know he is focused on other things but it is really starting to bug me that he hasn't flamed whoever is talking smack about Sarah Palin.

I need to find something new to read. I've finished Barnett's "The Pentagon's New Map". Did you know the CNO has a reading list? So, where will I start? Wouk? Mahan? I really want to read that Admiral King biography. SB talked about it and King sounds like a guy who would appreciate a Swabbie Doxie like me.

I need to get back to the gym.

I need to get some stuff accomplished.

But none of that is going to happen today. I am going to pick up some lunch and go home and read "The Given Day" by Dennis Lehane.

I Know There Are Things I Am Good At....

I just don't know what they are right now.

I woke up this morning and my hands were numb. This has happened a time or two, but it generally fades in a half hour or so. Not this morning. It lasted for nearly two hours. Maybe it was aggravated by the flu and pnuemonia shots I got Friday. Yesterday and today it feels like someone punched me in each arm. Not pain, just achy. So I am hoping the increased numbness is just temporary.

So I missed CCD. I couldn't very well drive up there with my hands feeling like I was wearing giant mittens. Jen says now I know how she feels.

Anyway, my Dad and my brother Frankie came back again today to work on the bedroom. This makes me feel very vulnerable. Like anyone I try to present my best side to the world - yes, this is my best side. I especially try to present it to those I want to think well of me. My father would, of course, top that list. My father has a set of priorities that does not exactly correspond to mine. There are things I have done in my life that he has been disappointed in. I am acutely aware of that. There are things I have done with the thought that he would be happy with and I have been wrong. It is what it is.

But needing him as I do with this business with the room, my faults are exposed.

I married young and quickly to a man who was not suited to me. He is a great guy and he is now happily married to his second wife. We are friends and I would do anything for him. But neither of us were suited to own a home. We aren't handy and we aren't inclined to learn. But we bought the house anyway. I used to try to cut off criticism at the pass with jokes "I own a hammer to crush ice with..." etc. The result was that when we had money we fixed things, when we didn't projects waited. Truthfully, vacations, books, dinners, etc. were all a higher priority.

Now this is something that definitely disappointed my father. I knew that. So I only talked about projects as I accomplished them and not what I wanted to get done. Like the song says, "Accentuate the positive....". But my illness forced the issue. The fact is that there will be no boon of overtime to cover this project between now and the time when I have to spend a lot of time in the room.

I spent all my energy last night cleaning the kitchen and bathroom - the living room is a lost cause since all the stuff from my bedroom is there. I was trying to catch up on all the laundry because the new dryer showed up last night. I cleaned out the junk drawer - turns out I have a hammer, a screw driver, two utility knives and a bunch of other tools, lol.

So I was just about to leave for work when they came in and we were talking about the closet. I want the opening shifted. The TV was on in the background. My father commented that it was just as well that I didn't go to CCD because I needed to think about the money I spend on gas. Then he looked at the TV and I said it was just basic cable that I got rid of HBO.

Now I am sitting in work, surfing, not quite psyched up enough to punch in and start working.

Have I mentioned how much better I liked my life before June?