Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bye Bye November

The last day of the month and I am starting to see the Christmas decorations going up. I write this in advance to see how the Christmas holiday will play out; how the Christmas Spirit, if you will, manifests itself. I am assuming that this will be my only Christmas away from my family and will be curious to experience the different feelings I go through as it approaches. I know there will be some guilt involved since I volunteered to deploy.

For your students: Although Christmas is meant to celebrate Jesus's birth; in being educationally PC, teachers are pressured to avoid that subject in the classroom. However, lets discuss the above picture I've chosen with the MINES sign posted. Ask your students to research (geographically) where the largest density of mines are in the world. Students will need a little background on what mines are and what their purpose is. The reason I bring this up is to propose that evil, and all that comes with it, exists; using mines as an example. See if your students can dig further to reveal how the Russian military used mines to purposefully attempt to eliminate a generation of children. Find examples of their attempts to kill and maim and the specific device they used for their purpose - prove whether I am right or wrong, better yet, prove whether the person who gave us the IED training when we arrived on base is right or wrong about this fact.

In short, my point is, throughout history we have seen manifestations of evil through a variety of human actions. In my eyes, if there is indeed evil then there must be a direct opposite, which is: all that is good, countering evil. Some people call the values and concepts of goodness their religion and attempt to live their lives according to the precepts of their religion. I don't know, using actions in history that were considered "evil" to justify a human cause could make for a stimulating discussion in a high school or college classroom! I'd sure like to be there to hear it...bye bye November.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nights and Sleep

Last night was a rough one! With the weather starting to cool off at night preparing for winter, the heater would come on and at some point it never fails to rattle for part of its cycle. Need to check it out and see whats causing the rattle.

Also, the generators were kicking- in at what seemed like the exact moment the heater and its rattle finished warming the room. And to top it all off, having a flightline nearby that has aircraft taking off at all hours of the night, one has to wonder how anybody gets any sleep at all! Apart from my first week here when I was acclimating, sleep has not been a problem. Its amazing what the mind and body can choose to ignore when it is tired.

I write this as I wake up because I remember laying in bed last night thinking, "you've got to be kidding me", as the heater shuddered. Then, as if on an orchestral cue guided by a conductor, the generator whined loudly, after which, a large aircraft taxied, then roared down the runway to finish the suite.

The real reason I choose to tell you about the Noise Level Waltz; Opus I, is because my cold symptoms returned yesterday and made sleeping more difficult. I usually sleep through the symphony but it was almost funny how last night, I noticed the sounds playing off each other in unison, and for the first time since arriving, found it humorous.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Month Gone By

Today's date marks my one month anniversary for "boots on ground". So far it has been very educational and although we are considered to be in a war zone, we feel the relative safety of living on a base and all that comes with it. Finding a routine is the challenge for those of us not in transit. Working your assigned job everyday, working out, eating, recreational activities, did I say eating? and using your time wisely is what helps get you through being away from home and loved ones.

I feel I have had time to acclimate, although there is still much more to learn about my environment, so I am feeling somewhat comfortable with my surroundings. Meeting new people is a constant cultural adventure, and might I add, people are from all over the world whether they are soldiers or civilian contractors supporting the base.

Here is something for your students: At the dining facilities, I often sit next to someone of a different culture/nationality. How would you say hello/goodbye in Polish? French? Albanian? etc. Research who our coalition forces are and come up with a list of languages to greet people to share with your classmates. Consider dividing yourself into small groups and choose a coalition partner you can find facts on such as: What does the country (flag) patch every soldier wears on their sleeve look like? What does their uniform look like? I'm sure you can come up with some interesting facts about a variety of cultures represented here. Good luck!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Now What?

I think those words sum up my beginning experiences. Having lived the life of a Special Education teacher with a family who could count on the certainties of life; I found myself all of a sudden questioning new experiences dealing with my deployment. To "breaking the news" to my family, to the leave of absence from my job, to the lead-up training stressors, to friends looking at me funny when I told them where I was going , and for how long, and on it went. Until I was on that plane, until those long flights and layovers were through, until I hauled my duffel bags into my quarters and looked around, until then did the "now what's" begin to cease.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to put those "now what's" into the back of my mind and forget about them, I want to recount them and think about the lessons learned about stress, fear, family, and anticipation, to name a few. I realize that my response to these feelings have helped shape me, helped mold me into who I am, and although I may not fully understand now, they will change my life. Look me up after this is over, I'll tell you all about it! Now who else would like to share? domain from: