Monday, December 15, 2008


I haven't posted in forever, so I hope there is no one reading this anymore. If you have been reading this hoping for another skeptical take on Rustimiyan life, two points: 1) I am home so this post is my external internal dialogue, and 2) you really should get out more.

I just spent two hours studying Clincal Head and Neck at McDonalds. That place amazes me. I had a coupon for a free Southern Chicken Sandwich with the purchase of a beverage. Mixing the Dollar Menu with coupons should be illegal, but they haven't closed that loophole yet so I spent a dollar six and got coffee, a sandwich, and a place to study for two hours. I did get alot of studying done, but I also had a lot of nagging thoughts that are coming together and I hope they will more by my writing them down.

Young people, or people my age which is more youngish I concede, love to speak ill of McDonalds. "Super Size Me" is a movie that slanders this American miracle by saying that you will get high colesterol by eating super-sized meals three times a day. Really??? Duh. But many of my friends and much of America's youth has seized on this obvious observation of the results of excess to condemn McDonalds. By failing to condemn stupidity and excess, they are missing one of the major points that brings contentment and joy in life.

McDonalds in my mind is not a symbol of excess, but a symbol of anti-Starbucksism. Let me explain. McD's has posted a billboard outside Starbucks headquarters in Seattle that says "Fourbucks is dumb." I don't think McD's knows how deep that is, but when I heard it I smiled for the next 45 minutes as I drove in to work. Here is why. Starbucks caters to the young, trying to convince them that if they just spend way too much on rainforest friendly coffee they will remain forever young. If you look at their lines, you will disagree because there are quite a few over-the-hillers who buy $4 coffee, but I have a different meaning for young. Young people are idealistic. They think the world can be changed. They are the fools who think their generation will be the one which finally sets the world right and avoids getting old. Yes, every generation since Adam has gotten old and died, but we won't. We are different. We are enlightened. We will hang on to youth forever. We can save the rainforest, drink organic coffee, have power careers and perfect kids, shop at JCrew, drive hybrids or SUV's or hybrid SUV's, save the environment, and be cool all at once. We eschew minivans, Wal-Mart, and McD's. We are open minded and caring even while we charitably pity (and uncharitably scorn) those who have given up on ushering in the eschaton. Those who drive their kids through the McD's drive through and shop at Wal-Mart will alternately be scoffed at for their unsophistication and hated for standing in the way of Youth's utopia.

Starbucks seeks to perpetuate this stupidity as do many in the Utopian, Organic, Whole-Foods myth perpetuating industry. The world, they want you to believe, is not fallen and decaying, or it would not be except for the unenlightened. We can change it. Yes we can!!

Most people have historically end up leaving the youthful phase when they get a job and get a family. Starbucks has pushed that age later in life than it used to be, but most still do grow up. Here is where old people eating breakfast at McD's is my beacon of contentment. When people realize that you cannot both feed your family and shop at whole food, or drink $4 coffee, or fit car seats in a Prius, they get angry. How many people resent their minivan? How many look forward to their kids being out of the house so they can again drive in their Priuii and drink overpriced coffee? How many go in debt by putting overpriced coffee on their over-used credit cards? They do this when they could be enjoying life by eating breakfast at McD's for a dollar six. How many people my age are angry because it has finally hit them that the minivan and snotty kids is as good as it gets in this life?

But old people who go into McD's and wear their Wrangler's they bought at Wal-Mart (I found a pair for $14.74) have seen something that the young have missed. Once you let go of youth you see that this is as good as it gets.... and it is great. Yeah, the coffee may have a hint of turpentine in it, but it is hot and you can afford it. Sure, if you eat supersized meals every day you may get high colesterol, but the dollar menu allows you to eat out and give your wife a break from the dishes. Being content with McD's, as many old people are, means that you can have joy in a world that is not and will not be Utopia during this lifetime. Receiving what God has given with greatfulness rather than buying on credit what He has not is what old people do. Do you think that just maybe they have figured something out?

Old people have been young and they have been old. Young people have never been old. Old people are happy to spend the morning drinking coffee off the dollar menu; young people are frantic to hold on to their youth and $4 coffee. I'll take old any day.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The End Is Near

Today was the last BUB (killer weekly meeting) that I will ever have to attend in the Navy, Lord willing. Now I just have one day and a wake-up, and hopefully no chances to do anything memorable. For a second I was going to get sentimental, but it is impossible to have any nostalgia after having sat through a three hour meeting. (One interesting note is that the Battalion Commander, who is also nearing his time to go home, ended the meeting by talking about three very optimistic meetings he has had with Iraqi Police Chiefs in the last week. One police chief, “who never has anything positive to say except about himself,” had an optimism that was notable to BC.) If I happen to get out of here on my birthday, that will be the best birthday present I have received in many years.

Friday, October 5, 2007

One More Last

Today I took my laundry in for the last time at Rusty. The laundry contract ran out since the fiscal year is over, so a new company came in. While they were switching out washing machines the laundry facility was closed for three days. Accordingly, there was a long line to turn in laundry today. I am not sure if it will even be done, but I won’t wait around for it since I never want to wear my Army issue battle pajamas again anyway.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Favorite Person in this Hemisphere

My replacement arrived yesterday. He is an Air Force captain. Because he will relieve me in five days, I think he is cool.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Win-Win-Win-Win Situation

I might as well have won the lottery. Yesterday we change our clocks, and there was once again the embarrassing confusion about falling back that we had about springing forward. Word was passed and repassed about the day clocks would change with the last word I got being that the change would be two days ago. This means that I changed my clocks a day earlier than planned and thus got an extra hour of sleep two nights ago. And then last night the real time change happened and I got another extra hour of sleep. If you are reading this in the comfort of a home that you actually want to live in, you did not get the extra hour of sleep either last night or the night before. I do not mean to flaunt my well rested good fortune when you are tired from a normal night, but my extra hours did not come at your expense. Please, no hard feelings. Here is where jealousy and hard feelings might be justified – I will get another night with an extra hour because I will be home the first Sunday in November. So I will have had a 25 hour day AT HOME without having to have had a 23 hour day to make up for it. Before you try to make yourself feel better by bringing me down by point out that I have not really gained an extra hour since I am beginning the year in Eastern Standard Time and I will be ending the year in Eastern standard time so I didn’t really gain three hours, realize that there is a fourth win in this time switching situation. When I fly home, I will only have crossed seven time zones instead of eight so I will have less jet lag to deal with. This time change good fortune makes a year in Iraq worth it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Birthday Continues

I am being overwhelmed with cards, books, and snacks. Thank you for them all, even if you just did it to support Kate’s nefarious plan to force me to admit my thirty-ness. You win. I’m thirty. Or will be soon, Lord willing.

One packaged I received contained Organic Beef Jerky. I will be forced to get my preservatives and artificial hormones elsewhere – hardly a challenge for me. I note that the package says “best if consumed within three days of opening.” Not a problem. Another funny marking on a package of cookies I received: “Now better tasting.” Doesn’t leave much room for guessing what the research department found about their previous recipe. I am glad to report that the package is completely correct.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Slippery Slope to Anarchy

Today I broke one of my cardinal rules. Because I want to be ready to go to bed at a moments notice, I do not allow myself caffeine after noon. That is, I know, a little conservative, but when it comes to being awake when you want to be asleep you can never be too far on the side of sleep. At about 1300 today the chaplain and the commo were walking out to go to the coffee shop and happened to ask if I would I wanted to come along. Being inherently cheap and well supplied with coffee by friends and family, I have not paid for coffee (or food) since leave – why buy what you already have? Even more than I am cheap I am perceptive (queue laugh track) so I knew that the chaplain and the commo were really asking if I wanted to “hang out” as the kids say these days. Friendship is worth paying for so I graced them with my presence.

I am always self-conscious when I order coffee at coffee shops because I cannot keep the tall, grande, and vente sizes straight. Also, the coffee aficionados order with such grace: “Tall skin mocha grande frappe with whip, add one shot espresso” or however they say it. I know that the baristas at the Starbucks back at the states sense that I cannot tell the difference between McDonald’s Special Blend and the Organic Eco-friendly Light Roast Summer French Blend from Ecuador. Even though I am the customer I am not right when I order. So I overcame my fear and ordered as best I could. I specified decaf when I ordered my double mocha over ice, and the third country national scoffed at me with his eyes in a barista way. The sneer was not as pronounced as I would have gotten in the states, but a coffee shop is a coffee shop and baristas have standards that apparently are international and span all languages. “No decaf, sir.” Iraq is not Burger King, and you don’t always get it your way. Besides, the chaplain and commo were laughing at me since their standards of sleep hygiene are not up to mine. I gave in and had caffeine, and the chaplain and commo were grateful for my company.