Aug 192011

Good morning everyone and Happy Friday once again! And yes, it is a beautiful day today around here, one of those rare, isolated perfect days (at least so far), which always causes me to wake up super early in the morning. It’s as if my body tells me not to miss even an ounce of it, or maybe that’s my spirit forcing my eyelids open. Whatever the case, if you can find some way to enjoy those picture-perfect days, make sure you do so.


Whoa! What was THAT?

Today is practice day for the Chicago Air & Water Show for this weekend’s annual event, and we are planning on checking it out from the comforts of our building. We heard the jets pass by yesterday as they were figuring out their destination points, so I started jumping online to get the times. We’re fortunate enough to live right in the path of the jets as they circle back and forth, so we get to see and hear most of everything without having to deal with the crowds.

Part of what I enjoy about the Air & Water Show as a Pagan Chicagoan is how it seems to tie two cross elements together that really signify our people. After all, we’re known as the Windy City, which actually has more to do with politics than the 70mph gusts we often experience, but that’s actually two sides of the same coin when it refers to the element: Symbolic and literal. And, we’re famous for our beautiful lakefront on Lake Michigan, which is so vast that even on a clear day, you can’t see the opposite end – more like a freshwater sea. So for me, such a large event, which draws so many spectators together for a fun, family-friendly weekend, is spiritually uplifting. And, because it really doesn’t cost the city (taxpayers) a whole lot by comparison, I’ll take that as a win-win.

So now that I’ve tackled the fun stuff, let’s get to the news:

- Pentagon Considering Scrapping Traditional Pensions in its Proposed Retirement Program Overhaul: It sounds like they’re looking at going with more of a 401(k) style of retirement plan, which will help out personnel who leave prior to twenty years. It also provides more opportunities to diversity and have more hands-on control, which for savvy investors, there’s a chance to see some bumps up in their money.

However, with the way civilians have been seeing their retirement funds tank recently, this could very well be a bad thing. The Department of Defense is under a lot of pressure to “trim the fat”, and with people living longer these days, cutting costs like pensions seems like a great idea on paper. What’s your opinion?

- U.S. official: Iraq can defend itself: Since the media is all about Afghanistan these days, especially since we’ve all but pulled out of Iraq, another way the DoD is being pressured to cut back on spending is to “get out of Dodge”. That seems like a no-brainer, right? Saddam’s dead, the people are liberated, so why should be still be there?

Folks here say it’s not our problem, and that money can be better spent going towards the needs of our own people, like for better schools, health care and creating jobs. That’s a lot of hard facts to face and points well taken. So should we just pack it up and let them fend for themselves? Which brings me to…

- Iraq, the forgotten war: “Despite the billions of dollars the U.S. has spent on training the Iraqi security forces over the past eight years, they are still not ready to take over security duties.”

Again, we have to ask ourselves, is this really our problem? And if we say no, what does that say to the men and women who have lost their lives fighting there? To their families? And to make matters worse and perhaps more contradictory and confusing…

- U.S.: $360M lost to corruption in Afghanistan: “After examining hundreds of combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan, the U.S military estimates $360 million in U.S. tax dollars has ended up in the hands of people the American-led coalition has spent nearly a decade battling: the Taliban, criminals, and power brokers with ties to both.”

So in one part of the Middle East, we’re deliberating whether or not it’s cost-effective to hang around, and in the other, where the other Big Baddie is now dead, it’s been reported we’re handing money over to other Big Baddies who want to churn the chamber pot further in the name of religion and politics. Once again, there are people stating we need to handle our own problems. We got the Bad Guys – now let’s bring our troops home. Mission truly Accomplished, and not like the last time that was declared.

In a few weeks, it will be ten years since 9/11. Think about that for a moment. How many changes have occurred in your personal life in the past ten years? Have you changed careers? Has your family status changed? Have you moved elsewhere? Have you lost a loved one? A war lasting ten years is rather significant, and it needs to end at some point. We need to critically ask ourselves how much longer can we endure fighting when yes, we really do have a lot of problems here at home to deal with.

- Bad Religion T-shirt got soldier ejected from Dining Facility: I also found this article relevant as it seems to be more than personal taste and in fact a Christian bias. Now I readily admit I was unaware it was acceptable to wear concert shirts under uniforms, and yeah, I can see how the shirt would be deemed offensive to some. But I have to question why some shirts are okay and others are not, especially when it’s been cited the offense is based on religion. Perhaps the uniform code needs to be updated and then see where things go? But that’s just me saying that – who am I? What do you think?

And now for the weekly Clip for the Troops campaign update:

Whoa! The coupons are really piling up! I did a quick guesstimate last night, and we are definitely past $1000 collected – that’s being very conservative. I will be making a trip downtown on Monday to see how many more coupons have come in, if not tomorrow, in addition to what this week’s Sunday paper looks like. So far, I’ve heard of only one insert, but at least it’s one loaded with grocery coupons. We’re moving into a new cycle for sure, where moms are packing healthy lunches for the kids, so at least we’re shifting away from the fridge door goods a bit more. I like barbecue sauce and shampoo as much as anyone else, but really, my binder is becoming rather lop-sided with condiments and cleaning supplies.

Please remember to tell your friends and (chosen) family about the program! The Facebook page needs just three more “Likes” to be legitimized, and our next adoption goal is to reach ~$4500 collected by month’s end. Let’s work together to make that happen!

And that’s about all I have for you this week. Thanks again for reading and take care!