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This is a story about blogging. Please pardon while I work out my blogging neuroses by blogging about it. (more…)

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Remembering

Six years ago I was living on the west coast in Monterey, CA.  Six years ago I woke up, rolled out of bed, put on my army physical fitness uniform, grabbed some water, and turned the television onto Headline News.  I saw the video images of one of the World Trade Center towers on fire and smoke rising.  Then I saw the second plane hit. 

I drove to the PT formation and fell in line with all of the other soldiers in training with me at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey.  There were all sorts of the rumors being passed back and forth along the rank and file.  The rumors were fueled by uncertainty, concern, and fear.  Some of us were from New York and Washington.  The White House had been attacked.  The Congress had been attacked.   The Pentagon.  More planes were in the air.  No one knew where the President was, if he was okay, what would happen to our country. 

And then of course, quite outside our concern for the people suffering, there was a lingering nervousness.  We were going to war.  That much we knew.  Most of us had never heard of Al Qaeda or Bin Laden.  But we knew that an enemy had revealed itself.  And we knew that it was on us to respond. 

Most of us joined for the benefits.  To afford college.  Somewhere in the back of our brains we understood what signing that contract meant.  But outside of the mostly air war in Bosnia during the late 90’s, there really didn’t seem to be a chance of war until that day.  So maybe some of us took that chance a bit lightly.  Maybe on that morning when the images of those burning towers, the hole in the Pentagon, members of both parties of Congress singing “God Bless America” from the Capitol Building steps were played over and over, the gravity of that contract, that uniform we put on every day, hit us like it never had before. 

Anger came later.  First, we were nervous and unsure. 

I was a Korean linguist.  Our teachers, all of them Korean natives, played the Korean language news broadcasts all day long – aired on a loop with the rapid fire Korean language commentary, watching that second plane hit again and again, picking through the vocabulary and syntax, trying to understand. 

I got my orders for Korea a few months later.  It wasn’t much of a surprise, to be honest.  I figured that’s where I would end up.  But the Arabic linguists who were in my company were almost certainly going to accelerate their training and could count on being deployed at one point or another.  I wanted to reach out to them and I felt guilty about not going with them.  When I had enlisted, I put Arabic and Chinese down as my first choices.  But Korean was the highest need language, required the most resources for training, and was considered the most difficult.  On that morning, looking over at the Arabic linguists and realizing what was going to happen to them, I thought that it should have been me. 

My heart goes out to them.  Still.  The last six years.  Some of them never made it back.  Hell, one of my soldiers in Korea died.  I’ve since gotten out and I’m living in D.C. studying the law, sleeping in most mornings, watching football on the weekends, blogging at leisure, flirting with girls, walking around town listening to my ipod, and picking through the media filter to find some clue about what it’s like over there.  The last six years.  My brothers and sisters aren’t in control of their lives, living in the desert, and getting nowhere and sometimes dying. 

All because of the tectonic shift of our political worldview from that one September morning. 

God watch over them.  I miss them. 

Bring them home. 

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I hate popcorn

Seriously, I hate the smell and I never eat it at the movies or as a snack at home.  And if my roommates warm up a bag of instant popcorn in the microwave, without warning me, and that smell wafts its way to me on the couch, it pisses me off.  Some people just say I am overreacting, I don’t know what I am talking about, and popcorn is awesome. 

 Well, enjoy your lung cancer, motherf-ckers!

UPDATE: Fixed link.

UPDATE 2: Let this be a lesson to me for linking to an AP story through the L.A. Times.  Apparently, they use the same link for whatever they feel is the current top AP story.  So the article kept changing since I first posted to it.  So I found something else which related and avoided the L.A. Times AP link altogether. 

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Labor Day Weekend

Blogging took a backseat to Labor Day weekend but I’ll be back in full force tomorrow.  Possibly with a couple short posts later on tonight.  Hope everyone had fun. 

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I keep reading about all the fabulous panels at the recent BlogHer conference, and I’m quite jealous of everyone who got to go. Luckily, all the bloghers are blogging up a blogosphere storm about the blog conference, so we can all get secondhand accounts of the wit and wisdom and all that. Despite the many great posts I’ve seen about BlogHer panels on all sorts of hip and interesting topics, the one that has compelled my attention is …. a post on organization!

I love organization. Yep, I’m that big of an anal-reterntive dork. I love The Container Store. Instead of keeping old love letters in a box under my bed or something, they are in a file in my file cabinet marked “old love letters.”

So this blogher-inspired post I read is on “how to deal with information overload.” If you were once one of those people who got stressed out by having too many unread magazines lying around the house and are now one of those people who get stressed out by having too many unread RSS feeds, do read this. It’s all common-sense organizational advice, but it’s well-put common-sense organizational advice. For example:

There’s a really great book by Mark Hurst about handling information overload called Bit Literacy, and it’s main tenet is that we need to learn how to “let the bits go.” When it comes to reading my 258 feed subscriptions, I let the bits go by:
* Marking all as unread often,
* For a feed with lots of unread items (>10 or 20), just skimming the first handful of new ones. If there’s nothing good, mark the rest unread – it’s old anyway

I like that, “letting the bits go by.” I think it means not feeling guilty that I’ve del.icio.us’d about 87 articles and blog posts that I’ve never gone back to, or never returned certain wall comments on facebook, or forgotten to give my friend comments on the play they sent me to read 6 months ago, or forgotten to blog about that really great article or idea or conversation or whatever which I was so sure I had something interesting or insightful to say about but obviously didn’t or it would already be written. There’s something very liberating about pressing DELETE on things that have been rotting in your email inbox forever or marking 40 RSS feeds at once as read instead of trying to sort through them after taking a several-day hiatus. My favorite thing I’ve compelled myself to do recently is answer emails when I first receive them. For the longest time, I would always just send things back to the inbox after I read them, to reply to later, even if they only required a 1- or 2-setence reply. It was stupid. I’d end up with 8 billion emails to reply to and it would become such a chore that I’d dread it and write it on my “to-do” list for days and then when I finally sat down to do it think, “for fuck’s sake, why didn’t I just reply to these when I opened them?” So now I try to make myself shoot off a reply before even returning to my inbox.

I am probably boring the shit out of you, whoever you are that may still actually be reading this post. Sorry. I forget that not everyone is as crazy obsessive-compulsively organized and neurotic as me. Let’s bring this all back together. What does letting the bits go by mean for you? And what are your own technigues for dealing with “information overload?”

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I’m back from Ohio. I have a REALLY AWESOME video of a fat man dancing shirtless at my favorite karaoke joint to share with you, but unfortunately it’s on my home computer and I am at work. You will have to wait. But it’s worth it. Actually, I don’t know if it’s worth it, I haven’t viewed the video yet. But it was REALLY AWESOME in person. Then again, I was kind of drunk. Pitchers are only $8 in Ohio.

Anyway, much thanks to my TOTALLY AWESOME guest blogger, oldmancoyote, regularly of The Burning Couch, for his awesome posts and for making me feel cool like I am special enough to have a guest blogger. I also have a totally awesome video of him drawing a feminist with crayons on the sidewalk outside a mexican restaurant, which I was supposed to post as his introduction last week, but I am a slacker. And that video is on my home computer too.

Anyway, he has requested that I add this message:

“Oldmancoyote is going to be the greatest blogger of all time and it sure was an honor having him here and though it hurts my heart to say this but it’s time to say goodbye.” 

I think I was supposed to write it as if I came up with it myself and not as if he fed me those words, but you get the point.

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Dammit. Don’t you hate when someone writes the book you would like to write if only you were motivated and together enough to write a book?

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