Friday, February 22, 2008

For Around Here It Snowed A Lot...

...but looks like a little, I guess because it started to rain a few hours ago. When I got up at o515 hours this morning the snow had to have been about 4 inches deep, and everything around my house was completely covered even the pine tree in the pic to the right. (The pic was taken hours later after it had rained for awhile and lots of the snow had melted.). It was coming down hard too, straight down no wind, not even much of a breeze. I took one look and figured it was steady and hard enough to mean that there would be at least several more inches on the ground before it stopped. So since I was already up at that ungodly hour, I decided to take shovel in hand and get to it. I don't have all that much to shovel, but I make sure I do a good job and get as much as I can off the sidewalk, driveway, front and side walkways, stoops, and side patio. Took me a while, so thank goodness it was cold enough for the snow to be on the lighter side. Once I was done with my property, I did the side of my neighbors house. Shovelling that is probably as much as all of my property combined. I was going to do the sidewalk along the front of his house too, but the old back injury started to pain me, so I figured it was time for a break. I went inside, and took a rest.

After a few more hours or so I headed back out to shovel some more. How nice, someone had been out there and done most of it for me a second time, so it left me with only an inch or two of snow on my sidewalk. I got to it, got that off, and then hit my neighbor's house and got all of his done (someone had also done his and he only had about an inch on the ground). Looking at it all I realized there must have been 7 to 9 inches on the ground where no one had shoveled. I also realized something else, it was raining, probably had been for a while, a steady light rain or drizzle. The little bit of snow that was left was heavy. Ouch there went the back again. I called my boss and banged in sick. Heck it was noon already by the time I got back inside to call! Whoops.

Later on I decided to go out and take another look, and try to see how deep the snow was in a few places where no one had shoveled. I dipped a ruler a few times, and each time it came up between 6 to 7 inches. Since that it had warmed up a bit and rained for several hours already a lot of the snow had already melted. I suppose my earlier guess of an overall snowfall of 7-9 inches was correct. I'll have to see what I can get out of the weatherman later on this evening.

Tonight promises more snow, or at least the weatherman promises more. More on the way for tomorrow too. I only hope the wet ground does not freeze hard, and then get snowed on. That makes for difficult shoveling, slippery footing, and treacherous driving conditions. As for right now, the rain has stopped, the temp seems steady, and it looks like a winter wonderland outside. So am I out there having snowball fights, building snowmen, or sleigh riding - heck no. I am inside where I can enjoy the warmth, have a cold one, and let the Aleve do its wonders for my aching back. With any luck my son will be home before anymore white stuff covers the ground, and it will be his turn to shovel next.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tour of Duty - Almost Complete

When I signed up with Soldiers' Angels, I guess I never had a clue as to how rewarding an experience it could be for me, or for anyone. Sure I knew it would be a morale boost for the soldier who would be selected as the one to whom I would write and send care packages, well I hoped it would be a boost and sort of took for granted that it would be anyhow. As it turned out, I was assigned to a soldier. That really is sort of the way it was, I was assigned to a soldier to be his email buddy, to send care packages, to keep his spirits high, to try to let him know that there really are people who care about our troops, to... well you get the idea. What they don't tell you at Soldier's Angels is that not only do you get assigned to a soldier, you become attached to him or her. No I was not the best at keeping in touch. As per the Soldiers' Angels policy I think I was supposed to write once a week, and send letters at that. I never wrote a letter, except to include in a Christmas/Holiday Care Package, and I think I forgot to put it in the box. All I wrote were emails, and luckily my soldier had frequent access to a computer. Of course I sent a few care packages over to him and his unit too. His emails to me were not all that frequent either, understandable on his part since he was the one in the middle of a war in Afghanistan. So sometimes the arrival of his email would remind me, heck I have not written in way too long.

Our emails to one another were never very heart wrenching, were friendly but never too affectionate (heck they were emails from two married men who were writing to one another as pen pals, and I think that was strange turf for both of us to tread), they had a certain friendliness about them while still seeming as if we were somewhat aloof from one another. Despite that feeling of apartness, that separation between us, there was also a feeling of respect for one another between us, of a sort of kinship, a certain type of brotherhood, a friendship that developed. No they don't tell you that you become attached to the Soldier to whom you are assigned, I guess much how they probably never told him he would become attached and greatly affected by his time spent in a war far from home.

It is evident in his latest email to me that both those things happened. He has been affected by the war, both good and bad, to a greater extent than he usually lets on in his emails, and I could see that in his latest email, the one in which he told me he is coming home to the USA later this month. I guess when you spend a year of more anywhere you are affected by your experiences, but to spend it in a far away land where things are strikingly different than they are at home, and to be there in time of war, while others at home forget you, even show disdain for you has got to be something you cannot understand unless you have lived it.

Still though Bob S. only tries to let his good outlook on life come through in his emails to me. I had to sort of read between the lines to see that war has effected/affected him in a way he does not want to say. I respect him for that, he will wind up going on with life fine because he has a good outlook about things. Here is the closing paragraph of his two paragraph email to me, in it you will see that good outlook shining through:

"There has been many good experiences that I will look back on over the next years ahead. I am sure as holidays or certain days come around think back to what I was doing on that day a year ago. Certain days of the week we had certain things that had to be accomplished. The support of many fine people like yourself has really helped make the time go quick. The many emails and just the hey hang in there will write more later emails that helped get your mind away from the frustration of being away from home, safety and security. The many people who would write to us to say, Thanks, really does go along way. The extra stuff they would send in the care boxes really was a huge Morale boost to many soldiers. The many different things we have received from supporters out there has been tremendous to know there are people who care. We, as soldiers, are here irregardless of there political views. We, as soldiers, are here because we decided to be a big dog and get off the porch and go run where others only talk about going and believe what they see on TV or hear on the radio. We all may not believe or agree with the leadership running this country, but we all do believe in giving others the freedoms Americans and illegal immigrants take for granted. Give the boy a chance to walk and eventually you will see a man run.

THANK YOU for all the support and friendship. Hope our "email pal" friendship will be able to continue."

As Bob S. has sent his thanks to me, I wanted to say thank you to him too. I will do that in an email to him because he, and others like him in our military, are the ones who deserve the thanks. I also wanted to thank all of you, those of you that is who show support for our military, and for their mission. Your helpful donation and well wishes that went into those holiday care packages I put together for Bob and his unit were a good thing, a kind thing, the right thing. You should all not only be proud of guys like Bob and all the other troops who defend our freedoms and those of others, you should be proud of yourselves for helping to give them the boost they needed to make their days go by a little bit easier.

If you are a person who has not supported the troops, well just read this sentence again, and think about if you are one of those about whom Bob writes who takes freedom for granted:

"We all may not believe or agree with the leadership running this country, but we all do believe in giving others the freedoms Americans and illegal immigrants take for granted. "

Are you a person who takes those freedoms for granted. I guess I am sometimes guilty of that myself, but there are just too many reminders out there each day to allow that to happen for too long, so most of the time I value my freedoms and liberties dearly. I also dearly value folks like Bob S because without the likes of him, we would have no freedoms, no rights, and no liberty to enjoy them. Many of you understand that, and you not only understand it but also practice what you believe and have supported our troops. To you, especially those who helped me out with those care packages that went to Bob and his unit, I say thank you very much, you are good Americans. To Bob, those in his unit, and to all of our troops in harm's way, I say: Thank you brothers and sisters, you are Great Americans. Stay safe, come home soon, you will not be forgotten.

All the best,
Glenn B

An Islam I'd Like To See More Of...

...yes I would indeed! I almost fell over as I read this piece not because of its impact mind you, but rather because it took me by surprise since there are so few articles like it out there. Yes, I see your point, there are lot's of articles out there about how Islam needs reform, about how this religion, the so called religion of peace, must start to condemn the terrorists instead of coddling them, that Islam is the enemy, that Islam equates with terrorism to many throughout the world, that groups like CAIR are in essence full of hypocrites - but they are few and far between when they are written by Muslims as was this one. What a refreshing oddity was it to have seen a Muslim condemning the Islamo Fascists 00and other hardliner Muslims who hide advancement of their evil intentions, and of terrorism, behind a curtain of claims of Islamophobia. As per the author, he has been writing like this for 20 years or so, too bad he is not an Op-Ed writer on the staff of every newspaper in the USA. Here is a brief sample of his wisdom:

"Islamophobia could end when masses of Muslims demonstrate in the streets against videos displaying innocent people being beheaded with the same vigor we employ against airlines, Israel and cartoons of Muhammad. It might cease when Muslims unambiguously and publicly insist that Shariah law should have no binding legal status in free, democratic societies. "

If more Muslims, millions more Muslims, came out bravely and openly as has Dr. Tawfik amid, the world would be a much better place in which to live. The truth is though that far too few Muslims condemn Islamo Facists, and other Islamic terrorists. Too few Muslims find barbaric acts of terrorism such as stooning, beheading, suicide bombin as heinous enough to speak out against them. No it is not that Muslims are too scared to do so, but rather that they embrace these aspects of islam. If you think not then just look back to the riots that took place in Europe after a few pictures of Mohamad were published. There were literraly hundreds of thousands of Muslims protesting violently over cartoon caricatrures, and many injuries and deaths of those who were not Muslims because of the rioting and unrest created by Muslims. In my opinion, Muslims look for any excuse to spread Islam through violent means, and I mean most Muslims. Those who are not looking to do so are quite happy to be complacent as there fellow Muslims do so.

That is why an article like the one to which I linked, appearing every now and then, from the likes of a seemingly moderate Muslim like Dr. Hanmid, does little to satisfy me. Nor does it do much to convince me, that I should not fear Islam. I am stocking up on supplies, in the event an Islamic caused crisis begins here in the USA as many have already been caused in places like England, France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Australia and other places to name just a handful. I'll be ready to take action to defend myself, my family and my country - and that action will not be to bow down on a prayer rug while facing east. If that is Islamophobic, well so be it; but remember this: If millions of other Muslims were like Mr. Hamid there would be no to little reason to fear Islam - and that is just not reality at the current time.

All the best,
Glenn B