Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
December 21, 2007
Once again I woke early, in the quiet watches.
And glanced at the quiet watch on my wrist. 12:30 - but quick mental math told me it was... damn! 20:30! Late late late...
No, wait. There's the clock on the nightstand, and it says 04:30. In the morning haze I had done the wrong math. All was well. Not only was I now awake and aware, but I was awake and aware at roughly the proper time. Jet lag's ass was half kicked within hours of ending a trip of 24 hours plus - including a time-stopping westward jaunt above the clouds and across the Atlantic flown in the endless twilight of a seven hour sunset. So much for days of long nights and long shadows...
Now outside the hotel room window it is pre-dawn dark. But it is also America. Soon the sun will rise and so will an aircraft taking me on the first of two short hops home.
Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.
So it is 0430, and I'm in a hotel room somewhere in the megalopolis of the east coast of the US of A.
And it is hot. Before falling asleep I'd misjudged the power of the room ac/heating unit. Nudged it a bit too high. So now in the pre-dawn coldest part of the day I throw open a sliding door to a foot-wide fourth floor "balcony" and let the cool air in. The cold feels good. It is no colder than Baghdad, where desert winter has replaced the searing 120+ of high summer. It is perhaps a bit warmer than Ramstein Air Base, Germany, once just down the road from my home but now my final stop before America.
It is a cold that I find useful for many reasons.
That quote above from Gibson is from page one of the book. I'd had it in my locker in my room in Baghdad for a couple months. Grabbed it from Amazon because it was available as a bargain book, but didn't want to dive right in. I'd read others of his books on this trip - as readers here well know - and had moved on to other authors, variety being key to avoiding the deployment doldrums.
But with mere days left in country it was time to take it off the shelf, to take along for the days-long ride home. That page one - and many subsequent pages - would deal with jet lag and cross-ocean travel can only be called synchronicity. An added element of immersion...
"What's on tap?" I'd asked the friendly hotel barmaid the night before. Made the choice as I almost always do (the one I'd heard the least about) and selected "16" as an answer to the question "16 or 22 ounce". It's best to ease back into these things.
Perhaps two minutes later I had to point out to her that tragically my glass was empty.
By closing time I'd quaffed about four of them, along with a couple shots. And if you can't get that along with an Angus Burger and fries in a fairly nice hotel lounge somewhere near an airport in the great megalopolis then it's likely that someone paid (anonymously) for a round or two for the guy in the sand-blasted ACUs.
And a very few hours later I had not one hint of a hangover. And the cold air felt good, every bit as good as my first beer and my first shower in a
Obviously I had consumed alcohol before my soul had arrived. Therefore it had snapped back into me fully sober, waking me at 0430 and demanding action.
Or at least motion.
Certainly no laying around.
By the way - no, you don't fly across the Atlantic at hundreds of thousands of feet.
Unless you do it on the Space Shuttle.
More to follow...
Tending Distant Fires
Far from hearth and home, watching
What tales we'll tell
When things grim
Some distant sunset, vision fading
Saluting fallen friends whose names
That's from my last tour - this year I get to be the guy who came home just in time for Christmas.
And still to come in The Mudville Gazette Christmas Special, 2007, special appearances by (alphabetical)
Rachel Smith, Miss USA 2007
The Winthrop University Men's Basketball Team
And a cast of thousands.
Post begun 2007-12-20 13:42:57 (UTC) and updated subsequently with more to follow throughout the weekend.
Merry Christmas, America.
Posted by Greyhawk / December 21, 2007 6:13 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