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June 23, 2004
Gone Fishin' - and ElsewhereBy Greyhawk
Travels with Greyhawk in Search of America (continued)
The vacation is on. These pictures are from Father's Day, a rare one for the Mrs., she actually got to spend it with her dad.
The day prior? The Zoo. Something struck me as funny about seeing animals from all around the world so soon after seeing so many people from around the world in the airport in Paris. There was a bit more international appearance to the people of my hometown these days too. I picked up snippets of Spanish and Japanese while viewing the many creatures great and small.
And some conversations in Idiotarian. I began the day by intentionally misidentifying seals as penguins. "Look kids, penguins!" and they joined with me in referring to them as penguins for the remainder of the two minutes before the sea of humanity moved us on to the next exhibit. I planned on identifying everything as a penguin up until the moment I saw the penguins, then exclaim "What the heck are those?". Mindless dad-taunting of the kids.
My plan fizzled after hearing people misidentify animals everywhere. They were close to being right, but not quite. Forgivable, except the names of the creatures were there for all the world to see. They unintentionally sucked all the fun out of my pretending to be stupid. And no, they weren't playing my game.
They were topped by the family of five or so large-proportioned folks (not that there's anything wrong with that) whose youngest (early teen, I'd guess) was observed taunting a curious emu (often misidentified as an ostrich) who'd wandered too close to the border of its protective enclosure. Junior was snapping his fingers in the Emu's face, shouting "hey" - to what desired goal I'm not sure. A slightly (no more than 50 pounds) bigger sister snuck up on him and shoved him with a punch towards his intended victim. He shrieked a little. His whole family laughed as they walked away, the emu just starred without any response after them.
Google "emu" and one of the top links will be to Eastern Mennonite University. Home of the Fighting Emu? No - home of the Royals, whose mascot is the lion, which is also the name and mascot of the Ramstein High School teams in Germany - but I digress. But coincidentally I did see quite a few Mennonites at the Zoo. (For those unfamiliar, these are people, not exhibits) though since they weren't wearing signs declaring their beliefs they might as well have been Amish, for all I know. I experienced a great moment of pride in America, where such folks could worship as they choose. Yes, corny, I know, but it is something we take for granted, and I assure you it isn't the case in lands ruled by the Panda Cult. (Speaking of which - there were no Pandas at the zoo.)
It took me a while to figure out something different about the Mennonite woman - besides the manner of dress; they had grey hair. I rarely see grey hair on women these days. Most American women generally maintain their original color and Europeans have adopted a bright red or purple hue. Draw your own conclusions.
All in all, it was indeed, a zoo.
As was the mall. My sixteen-year-old daughter has been deprived of this uniquely American experience for some time, and it was high on her list of things to do. What incredible culture shock we experienced strolling past the T-Online kiosks and the Birkenstock boutiques.
We all own a pair or two already, of course, but she and her younger sister did find some other things to buy. Recall my ATM story? Turns out I didn't withdraw enough. Cha-ching!
Speaking of little sister, she's likely the champion fisher in the family. Thirteen years, three continents, three states, eight years of school in four different systems. She adapts.
She caught two that day. If I spend all I've got on zoovenirs and mall food I'll be able to depend on her to keep us fed.
Posted by Greyhawk / June 23, 2004 7:53 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com