Saturday, April 28, 2007

Playing in the Sun

I'm not here -- gone beachin' for a while. See you when I get back.

In the meantime, visit Castle Argghhh!, or any of the other fine blogs listed in my sidebar.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Good news on Free Speech in Washington State

During the 2004 election cycle, ballot initiative I-912 was introduced to repeal the 9.5 cent per gallon additional gas tax that had been voted into law by the state legislature. I-912 was a polarizing issue, and drew hot debate. Sadly, many of my fellow inmates citizens voted against I-912, and the gas tax increase stayed the law of the land.

Why does this relate to Free Speech? Because local KVI radio hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson were accused of using their platforms as free advertising for I-912, and were ordered to report their online support as a political contribution, which I posted about in July of 2005.

They have been fighing this finding ever since, and today we have the determination from the Washington State Supreme Court, by way of Michelle Malkin:

Breaking: Free speech victory in Washington state
There's an important breaking court decision on a political free speech case involving my friends at KVI radio in Seattle. A reader e-mails:

A unanimous Washington state supreme court ruling, issued this morning, reversed a lower court ruling that held radio commentary by Seattle's KVI-570's Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson made "in-kind" contributions when they promoted an anti-gas tax voter initiative on their shows in 2005.

Majority Opinion by Justice Barbara Madsen.

Concurring opinion by Justice James Johnson, scolding the abusive prosecutors.

Seattle Times coverage:

The state Supreme Court said in an opinion released this morning that KVI talk show hosts did not need to report their advocacy for an anti-gas tax campaign as an in-kind political contribution. And the court has reinstated a countersuit filed by the No New Gas Tax (NNGT) campaign against local governments that initially sued.

We hold that RCW 42.17.090 did not require NNGT to disclose the value of KVI's radio broadcasts supporting the initiative campaign as an in-kind contribution. The statutory media exemption, RCW 42.17.020(15)(b)(iv), excludes from the definition of "contribution" political advocacy for or against a political campaign by the hosts of a regularly scheduled talk show, broadcast by a radio station that is not controlled by a candidate or political committee. We reverse the order dismissing NNGT's counterclaims and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Great news, and a solid statement for free speech! I was listening to Kirby this morning, and he indicated that if this decision had gone against them, he and John were prepared to take it to the US Supreme Court. I'm glad that the justices of my state were able to see the light.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mental gymnastics

It takes some real mind-bending skill to come up with some of the viewpoints highlighted in these posts...

Fuzzilicious Thinking Code Pink Calls US Soldiers Terrorists

Boston Maggie ... Egos and hypocrisy of the celebrity left

Rofasix ... Rascism in Democratic Party Politics

The Middle Ground ... Harry Reid surrenders

Frank J of IMAO ... Super Ultra Mega Hypocrisy!

John of Argghhh ... Reid calls Veep 'Attack Dog'

In fact - Senator Reid is burning me up from all sides. But he is really, really grating on the nerves of those who have troops in harm's way. Yet, somehow, he and the other Dem 'leaders' (to use the term loosely) don't understand that they are cutting down this nation and our brave troops when they open their mouths and speak of surrender.

On the lighter side - if Reid wants to surrender, Harvey willing to accept his admission of defeat. Heh.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wouldn't this be cool?

What a great centennial honor this would be ... the USS Robert A. Heinlein.

What better way to commemorate Robert Heinlein's birth centennial than naming a major new US Navy ship after him? The ultra-sophisticated DDG destroyers (Zumwalt class) are something straight out of science fiction themselves, and there's never been a better ship to name after an sf writer, futurist and proud Navy man.

We'll have more here soon about the USS Heinlein campaign and how to make it happen, but for now, here's the scoop from our event coordinator, Tim Kyger:

The U.S.S. Robert A. Heinlein Campaign
For all but a very brief period at the beginning of our history, the word ship will mean space ship. [1] Many will be named “Robert A. Heinlein.”

Only one will ever be the first.

We have the chance to name that very first one. [2]

This coming July 7, 2007 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert A. Heinlein. That day would be a perfect opportunity for the Secretary of the Navy to announce that ship DDG-1001 (or another early hull number) would be named the U.S.S. Robert A. Heinlein.

How do we make it happen? We write the Secretary of the Navy and ask him to! The Secretary of the Navy has the authority to name the ships of the U.S. Navy (he is the only one who can).
(H/T to Ry in today's H&I Fires)

As a huge fan of Heinlein's works, I'd love to see this happen. Heinlein's Starship Troopers had a clarifying effect on my viewpoints regarding the military when I read it the first time, and it is the one which I re-read most often.

Phil at Pacific Empire pulls a quote from Starship Troopers that has an uncanny resemblance to our current day situation...
“If you wanted to teach a baby a lesson, would you cut its head off? Of course not. You’d paddle it. There can be circumstances when it’s just as foolish to hit an enemy city with an H-bomb as it would be to spank a baby with an axe. War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government’s decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him…but to make him do what you want to do. Not killing…but controlled and purposeful violence.

There is an old song which asserts that “the best things in life are free”. Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted… and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.

Emphasis added by me. Good time to remember that Freedom Isn't Free.

Make sure you visit the Castle and read / take part in the comment conversation on this idea. Very Interesting!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Continuing the Sheepdog theme

Some other interesting and thought-provoking responses to the events at Virginia Tech that have caught my attention:

Francis Marion describes how he would approach the situation, in his response to Grim's wargame proposal.

The Bastidge talks about thought processes.

Mrs. du Toit Can't get there from here. Be sure to read the comments - a worthy discussion.

David at Random Nuclear Strikes has more on the shooter's mental instability and the law.

Heartless Libertarian ticks off the number of existing gun laws broken by the VT shooter.

Chuck points out the obvious - Gun control does not work.

Neptunus Lex and his eldest daughter discuss Free Will vs. Fatalism.

Uncle Jimbo and Snarkatron each take on the shameless media.

Wandering, Blissful Musings - The American Way: Why things were not this bad when I was in school

Another Sheepdog's perspective

In my post on Sheep and Sheepdogs yesterday, laid out the concept that there is a continuum between the two modes. I still feel that is true, because many people who otherwise live average non-Sheepdog lives may find themselves in the role of Sheepdog when events intercede, as they did Monday.

However, the purebred Sheepdog is at a different level. They recognize early that the world needs Sheepdogs, and they take the steps necessary to become a fully-trained one in a position to help. This is true of the military, as evidenced by the active duty and veteran community at Castle Argghhh and many other fine Milblogs.

One such is my blog-kin, America's Son. He spent his life preparing for the Sheepdog role. First serving his 8 years in the Marine Corps (including 2 trips to Iraq), and then moving from the Corps to the Suffolk, VA police department. His post In the Sheepdog's Absence exposes his reaction to the horrible events and loss of life at VT this week, and he pinpoints one of the key differences between the average Sheep and the average Sheepdog.

I was asked by a gentleman the other day how I felt about the events, and I answered, "I wish I would have been in that dorm five minutes before that demon walked in." "And what is it that you think you could have done young man?", he replied. "I could have made a difference."

While millions of Americans breathed a sigh of relief that they were not caught up in the horror, the Sheepdogs were sorry they weren't there to prevent it.

I am, too. Go read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thoughts on Sheep and Sheepdogs

The horrible events at Virginia Tech on Monday left many innocents dead. Students and professors started off their day as they would on any Monday, and fate led a madman into their midst. My heart goes out to the victims and their families and friends.

The first reports I heard left me with the impression of a gunman letting loose in a classroom full of people, and I could not understand how so many were killed. In a post 9-11 world, it is hard to imagine a group of people not fighting back against a single attacker.

As more information has been brought forward, it's obvious that the scenario was quite different, with many classrooms attacked one after another. There were acts of bravery and sacrifice, such as the actions of Professor Liviu Librescu, who gave his life to protect his students. There are others as well, and I join John of Castle Argghhh in implementing a Rule regarding discussion around these events. I will name and honor the memory of the victims, but not the shooter.

I couldn't help but react to the emerging stories by remembering LTC (ret.) Dave Grossman's essay "On Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves", as did many others. The discussion at the Castle continues, and some have called into question the proper meaning of the term Sheep in this context.

They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

The term Sheep is not used here to be offensive, as some may take it. The point is that the bulk of the population goes on about their daily, productive, lives without spending much time thinking about the wolves around us. The consensus of virtually all of the Sheepdogs that I am happy to call friends is that this is a good thing.

As Grossman pointed out in his essay, it's not an on/off state, it's a continuum. The Sheep in the center of the herd don't even see the edges, and may not admit that the Wolves exist. The ones at the next layer may understand the danger but not be able or willing to act. The next layer contains Sheep with greater understanding of the Wolves of the world, and some ability and inclination to protect the Sheep farther in. And so on, until you reach the pure Sheepdogs - Police, Firemen, and the Military. Men and women who daily put their lives on the line to secure the peace and security.

As you progress outward, the Sheep characteristics are mixed at varying levels with the Sheepdog attributes, and I would like to think that each of us has the potential to become the Sheepdog in a situation where there are Wolves threatening to do harm. This happened at Virginia Tech, as evidenced by the actions of Professor Lebrescu, and others like Zach Petkewicz.

"I was completely scared out of my mind originally, just went into a cowering position, and then just realized you have got to do something." [emphasis added]

Sometimes one just has to Act, to become a Sheepdog and not simply submit to the Wolves. I pray that if the need were to arise, I too would summon the Sheepdog inside and take action.

Final note on this. While we remember those murdered on Monday, and decry the acts of a madman killing our 'children', a little perspective. We have thousands of troops overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan who are younger than many of those killed, who go outside the wire and into harm's way every single day. However you feel about the Global War on Terror, the Sheepdogs are out there doing their jobs every day. Many of them aren't old enough yet to drink. Some never will be.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Taking apart Conspiracy theories

Bill Whittle has posted up essay #2 on conspiracy theories and critical thinking.

I'm shocked to say that Bill has let me down. In Part #1 he promised that the next episode would take on "... 9/11 conspiracies, Global Warming, Chemtrails, professional cynics and Our Friends the Press ..." But he wasn't quite up to the task, sadly, so we have to wait a little longer for the take-down on Global Warming.

All kidding aside, he takes on the rest of the agenda in typical Bill Whittle fashion. To whit:

Intellectually honest people, people without a deep, vested emotional need to believe the worst, are usually relieved to hear the facts that demolish superstitions like the Bermuda Triangle and the Loch Ness Monster. While there may be disappointment at the loss of an unseen world, people who have chosen to live in reality find comfort in the fact that reality is, in fact, made up of the real and not the wished for.

No, what fascinates me is the emotional motive of people who, presented with overwhelming evidence that the events that transpired on November 22nd, 1963 or September 11th, 2001 really happened exactly the way it appeared, continue to spin ever more elaborate webs in order to get to a place they need to be emotionally. Who are you going to believe: them or your own lying eyes?

Get a cuppa joe, and go read.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ft. Lewis news

The Ft. Lewis military community, among many, will be impacted by the deployment extensions announced by Secretary Gates recently.

10,000 from Fort Lewis have missions extended
Christian Hill

About 10,000 Fort Lewis soldiers serving in or heading to Iraq and Afghanistan will have their deployments extended three months under a new policy that the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said all active-duty Army units deployed in support of the wars in those nations will serve tours up to 15 months, instead of 12 months, effective immediately.

The policy ensures that soldiers will be home at least a year before they have to deploy again, and Gates acknowledged that it is necessary to sustain forces stretched by the demands of the wars.

Olympia-area soldiers and families had heard rumors of an extension for weeks, but the announcement caught many by surprise. Unit commanders weren’t able to notify soldiers ahead of time because news of the policy was leaked to everyone at once, Gates said.

The policy affects two Stryker combat brigades from Fort Lewis: the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which was expected back from Iraq in late June or early July, and the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which recently deployed to the Middle East. Each brigade has about 4,000 soldiers.

It also affects the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), which is serving in Afghanistan, its third overseas deployment since March 2003.

“For the families and loved ones of the brigade’s soldiers, this is not easy news to swallow, and their reactions are predictably mixed,” said Maj. Robert Bennett, rear detachment commander for 3rd Brigade, which now is expected back in October. “It was not unexpected news. We had prepared for this announcement, and we are ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.” ...

I have adopted a squad from the 864th through, along with my friends Val and Rob. Supporting them for another three months is a no-brainer for us. But my heart goes out to the soldiers, who just arrived in Afghanistan in mid-February, and especially to their families.

The soldiers will do their duty, because that's what soldiers do. And the families will cope, because that's what military families do. And they are proud to do it, just ask 'em. While you're asking, though, don't say anything dumb like "How do you live that way?". Trust me on this.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fun and Informative

I can't believe I missed the April 1 cartoon at Cox & Forkum. I'm not pasting it here - you need to go see it in action!

Bloodspite exposes the Real Pelosi ... *shudder*

Dusty celebrated a Natal Day yesterday, and it's *not* my fault for missing it ... this year. Happy Birthday, Dusty!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What do you know...

How's your perspective these days?

This is what I see and hear.
by @WR

I hear that we are losing the war.
I see a repressed country beginning to stand on its own.
What do you know about loss?

I hear that this war costs too much.
I see you drive off in your BMW sipping Starbucks.
What do you know about cost? ...

There's more ... go read the whole poem.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Reforming the system

Chuck can spin out more ideas in a 20-minute rant than any other 10 people I know! He brainstorms on some ways to reform the system to ensure the availability of quality Healthcare for military and veterans and their families.

His list has some gems I just love:

A fifty-cent surcharge to all dating-service phone calls, and a $1 surcharge to all American Idol type voter call in shows.

A $25 dollar tax on every person who says "Long time listener, first time caller" on a radio show.

A $50 tax for anyone who calls Dr. Laura for advice--not for the advice, but for being so stupid they need her to tell them what to do.

That's just a tiny sample ... go read the whole list!

You Might Be From the Pacific Northwest If...

How many can You check off?

1. You know the state flower (Mildew)

2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.

3. Use the statement "sun break" and know what it means.

4. You know more than 10 ways to order coffee.

5. You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.

6. You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant.

7. You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" Signal.

8. You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, is not a real mountain.

9. You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Veneto's.

10. You know the difference between Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye Salmon.

11. You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon, Yakima, and Willamette.

12. You consider swimming an indoor sport.

13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food.

14. In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark-while only working eight-hour days.

15. You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.
... or golfing without rainpants and jacket.

16. You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain," and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."

17. You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.

18. You know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind.

19. You can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover.

20. You notice, "The mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.

21. You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.

22. You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep the socks on.

23. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.

24. You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.

25. You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time.

26. You measure distance in hours.

27. You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in the same day.

28. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.

29. You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer & Elk Season (Fall).

30. You actually understood these jokes and will probably forward them.

31. Your kids ask to play in the sprinkler when the temp gets up to 65.

Heh ... My count is 23!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Geek fun

Pardon the technical moment, but I felt this wonderfully useful error message just had to be shared.
Beta testing is SO much fun!

What was that error again?!

This makes me want to sing the Song of the Software Engineer.

Families United petition

The father of a fallen Marine asks for our help.

My name is John Ellsworth and I am the father of LCPL Justin M. Ellsworth U.S.M.C. who was killed in the fight for Fallujah on 13 NOV 2004.

I am the Co-Chair of "Families United for our Troops and their Mission" which is a member of the "America Supports You" network. We are a grassroots coalition of Gold Star families, veterans, families with loved ones in harm's way, and Americans who share a deep appreciation for our men and women in uniform and support them in their efforts to make America safer by winning the War On Terror.

We at Families United have recently started an on-line petition to show support for our troops and will be delivering it to our Congressmen around September 11th 2007. We have received endorsement from the National V.F.W. in this quest for ONE MILLION SIGNATURES!

I am requesting that you provide a link to this important petition on your web site and notification to all of your members to participate in this event. To link directly to this petition:

I believe that this is too important to ignore any longer and we need to let our troops know America really does support them, even if Congress doesn’t.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me


John M. Ellsworth,
Proud Father of LCPL Justin M. Ellsworth U.S.M.C.
K.I.A. / Operation Iraqi Freedom
13 NOV 2004 - Fallujah, Iraq

I've already signed -- hope you'll join me. Thanks!!

H/T to Operation Support Our Troops.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Defend your Castle

Instead of reading serious stuff, I got sucked in to BowMaster Prelude, and am happy to report that I was victorious in defending the Castle. All good Denizens should take up arms against the invaders!

H/T to Graumagus, who had his own blog renovation not so long ago.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Meet CSM Althea Davis

Top Enlisted Soldier at Walter Reed Gets Back to Basics of Soldier Care

Command Sgt Major Althea Davis
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2007
– During the past three weeks, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Althea Green Dixon has done a lot of walking and talking.

She’s also done a lot of listening. As well as much inspecting, checking, moving and shaking.

What she hasn’t had time to do is any packing.

Sitting in her new office in the command section of the red-bricked Building 1 on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus, Dixon is surrounded by blank walls and bare cabinets. Her office is adorned with only the American and Army flags. All of her “stuff” is still in her old office on Fort Detrick, Md., she said.

But that’s OK, because the new top NCO over the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command hasn’t spent a lot of time in her office since being handpicked for the job at Walter Reed.

“I believe in management by walking around. Just stop in on people and say, ‘Hi.’ See how they are doing. Check on things,” Dixon said.

“I can get a lot done in this office sitting behind that computer, but I can get a lot more done by walking around and interacting with people and really seeing how things are going out there and hearing from folks directly,” she said.

Army Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, the new commander of Walter Reed and the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, chose the 29-year career medical soldier to lead the changes in wounded soldier care at the center and within the command. The center and its previous leadership have been under fire for the past month since media reports of poor outpatient soldier care caught national attention.

Dixon served as Schoomaker’s “right hand” on Fort Detrick and Fort Gordon, Ga. She found out March 2 that Schoomaker wanted her to move to Walter Reed with him. The next day, when she was supposed to be packing her bags for a vacation in California, she was instead at the center helping coordinate the packing and moving of soldiers and their belongings out of Building 18. The building was spotlighted in the media for poor living conditions, including moldy walls, faulty plumbing and backed-up maintenance work orders.

“I needed to be here,” Dixon said. “Our first priority that weekend was to move our soldiers out of Building 18 and into suitable quarters. And we got that done.”

Dixon has taken only one day off since.

A native of Trinidad, Dixon speaks with a pleasant Caribbean accent, soft and sure about the basics of soldier care. Her passion for taking care of troops showed during an interview with American Forces Press Service.

“I hate to talk about the past. I probably shouldn’t. But part of the reason that we have this situation that we’re in right now is because noncommissioned officers failed to do their jobs,” Dixon said.

“They’re supposed to check on their soldiers,” she added. “They are supposed to know how they are living, what problems they have.

“I’m sorry. I get a little emotional when I talk about that because that’s basic stuff and they didn’t do it,” she said.

For the past three weeks, Dixon has spent countless hours making her rounds across the sprawling 113-acre campus reacquainting the center’s NCOs with the basics of soldier care as she sees them.

“I’m about three things: basics, standards and accountability,” she said. “Basic things like taking care of soldiers, basic things like checking soldiers’ living quarters, basic things like keeping up with your soldiers’ whereabouts. If you stick to the basics, you generally end up OK.”

Probably the biggest effort she’s taken on so far has been making sure all wounded warriors at Walter Reed are housed in “accommodations that are suitable for an American soldier,” she said.

Wounded soldiers in outpatient care with families at the center now live in the 280-room Mologne House, which boasts all the amenities of a luxury hotel, as well as Delano Hall and the two popular Fisher Houses.

The 274-room Abrams Hall became the primary facility for unaccompanied soldiers in outpatient care. Each room offers a private bath -- some with tubs -- kitchenette, walk-in closet, a large, flat-screen television mounted on the wall, and a brand new 17-inch iMac computers. Ten of the rooms there are fitted for wheel-chair access. Brightly lit dayrooms sport large-screen televisions and pool, foosball and ping pong tables.

“It’s the nicest set of barracks that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in the Army, … and I’ve been in a lot of barracks,” Dixon said with a laugh as she walked from her office toward Abrams Hall to finish her room inspections.

Abrams Hall is across the street and only a short walk from Dixon’s office. The grounds look more like an apartment complex than an Army barracks.

Walking down bright white halls with waxed floors, past the security desk, Dixon lightly quizzed a handful of soldiers on duty about an upcoming town hall meeting.

They told her they knew about it, but not the time or the place.

She kindly set them straight. “Looking forward to seeing you there,” Dixon said.

To make room in Abrams hall, some permanent party and student soldiers living there were moved into furnished, two-bedroom apartments off the campus. Each has walk-in closets and private baths. A shuttle is provided for transportation. The Army paid all relocation, utility transfer and hook-up fees, Dixon said.

“We don’t want our young soldiers to be subject to any financial liabilities because of decisions that their leadership has made,” Dixon said. “I don’t think any soldier lost anything in this shuffle.”

Both Dixon and her boss have talked regularly to the student soldiers and have received nothing but positive feedback, she said. “I haven’t heard any major complaints so far. But we’re keeping those lines of communication open. We want to make sure we’re doing right by all of our soldiers,” she said.

Regular barracks checks help keep her in touch with the soldiers and the NCOs who lead them, Dixon said.

“When a new face comes in they tend to open up a little bit,” she said. “When I go over there, … I try to have a dialogue with them, just to see how they’re doing, get an azimuth check on how we’re doing and if there are any issues.”

Face-to-face communication is a recurring theme in many of the changes that Dixon and Schoomaker have made.

The center now has a weekly orientation for every new soldier-patient and family. On March 21 Schoomaker held his first town hall meeting with the soldier-patients, and more are planned. Schoomaker and Dixon also have held sensing sessions with NCOs and other leaders.

“We are here for the soldier. That’s our job. They ought to not feel they are imposing on us if they come to us with an issue. We are here to deal with those issues,” Dixon said.

In light of recent changes, Dixon said, morale for wounded soldiers is on an “upswing.”

At the same time, Dixon must also focus on the morale of her staff of soldiers. She said that the negative publicity has had an effect on those in uniform serving there. She said she is meeting with staff members to “get their thoughts on how they are doing and what can be done to improve their quality of life,” she said.

“Although a lot of the scrutiny has been on the (care of the) patient-soldiers, I want our employees to know that we still care for them,” she said. “We are here to take care of them the same as we are here to take care of our patient-soldiers.”

Dixon said she is pleased with the changes made already, but acknowledged much work ahead. She said she is receiving support, both from top-level leaders across the Army and DoD, as well as from her NCOs and staff.

The next step is to stand up the Wounded Warrior Transition Brigade, charged with overseeing the health, welfare and morale of patients as they recover. Army combat veterans have been chosen to stand up brigade. Its new top NCO, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Hartless, has spent time recovering at the center from wounds he suffered while serving in Afghanistan.

About 600 soldiers will make up the three companies in the new brigade. Many officers and NCOs have been given only 30 days notice to report to their new assignments at the center, but haven’t complained about the sudden change. There has been “no whining,” Dixon said.

“They are just stepping up to the plate,” she said.

The three company commanders for the new transition brigade are already on the ground working through issues of furniture, space, personnel restructuring, offices and so forth.

By the end of this month, half of the staff is set to be in place, three-quarters by the end of April, and full staffing for the brigade should be in place by the end of May, Dixon said.

In the meantime, the sergeant major makes no apologies for the standards she sets and said she will continue taking care of soldiers with “high standards with a big heart.”

“I can be pretty easy going. But I’m often not, because I have high standards, because I really like people and I really care about people,” she said. “Sometimes I have to correct people. I try to be nice about it. Sometimes I’m not so nice about it.”

Monday, April 02, 2007

American Soldier

I've always loved this song by Toby Keith. I know, it's a few years old, but it's a good reminder of what motivates our troops in all services.


Business opportunity missed?

We missed the boat again, says JMH [ed: corrected my original dyslexic entry!]. We being the mighty Circle-M, as I like to call my place of employment. I actually should have posted this yesterday, so I guess I'm the one who missed the boat...

Check out Google's Gmail Paper.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sunday slow

Thank you to all who commented or made suggestions about the new blog layout. Apparently I need more color, or maybe just different ones. And more hardware, like tanks. This will definitely be taken under consideration.

Other than twiddling with the blog, my weekend has been spent performing a Chinese fire drill on two laptops, moving all of the profiles around to change ownership. (Let's see, I copied the stuff from A to X to preserve it, then I copy the stuff from B to A, and then X to B. Right? Argghhh!)

But I was able to drag the Hubster off to see the movie "300" today, and we both had a great time. Everything Kat wrote about it was right, and we loved the great lines, the stylistic imagery, the wrong vs. right absolutes -- all of it!

And to add to that warm glow, I followed the link from the H&I Fires to Jules Crittendon's Warmongerly Yours post - a wonderful gathering of links for various angles on the war and the political situation here at home. In fact, one item from Bluto at the Jawa Report has an interesting parallel to the actions of the renegade senator in 300, methinks.