At a crossroads

If I'm spending this much time struggling with a problem then perhaps it's a sign that I'm looking at it from the wrong perspective, right?

Over the past couple weeks I've been seriously considering the options I'd have regarding going back to Chile for an extended period of time both to job hunt and/or just to chill and explore who is Carlos, where is he in life and what he wants to do about life and about the future.

I got another email from a classmate in Facebook (from here on FB) and it was amazing. Felipe ( was one of this kids who was good at everything, science, humanities, sports, arts... he was awesome at it.  He chose sciences as a career but shortly after writing his thesis he decided to switch and pursued a second degree in fine arts. 

I've always known I had that option, that if I want a career change all I have to do is put mind to task and pedal to the metal and get off my fat ass and do it. It wasn't just that.... It was also finding out about a dear friend and that career changes like that are possible in Chile.  That was one of the reasons why I decided to stay in the US; at the time it seemed the sensible choice to make... I was a theater major and in the mid '90s I didn't see much of a future as a technical theater person in Chile.  Then I switched majors to instructional design/technology and the field was pretty much dead in Chile at the time as well. 

The choices were correct at the time they were made but that doesn't mean that they'll always remain so. Life is a fluid series of events that forces (at least it should force) constant evaluation and re-evaluation of your choices and your path in life.

I know I have to go back and finish a variety of tasks I left incomplete. I have to pay a visit to my dad's grave and spend some time with family there. They are getting older and I may not have much more time to do so before they start kicking the bucket (BTW, do you have your bucket list? :D), friends who I want to spend time with, and things to do that I never got around or knew that I wanted to do... things like white water rafting or learning to dive here so I can do it there with friends.

I think that it all boils down to one of my favorite rush quotes/lyrics

When we are young
Wandering the face of the Earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal
For a limited time

Dreamline --Rush

I suddenly realize that I don't have all the time in the world I thought I had. Time waits for no one and I've discovered, once again, that I am not immortal and that neither are those I care about. That it's too easy to miss the little moments of life because you're too caught in the "big picture" to pay attention.

If you're going to live life you're going to do so 100% without compromises, keeping your eyes and ears open for the world around you and letting yourself be surprised by what the world has to offer;

Dance likes no one's watching

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another.
Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are.

After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now.

If not now ... when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D Souza ...

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin.
But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time ... and remember that time waits for no one ...

So stop waiting until you finish school ... until you go back to school ... until you lose ten pounds ... until you gain ten pounds ... until you have kids ... until your kids leave the house ... until you start work ... until you retire ... until you get married ... until you get divorced ... until Friday night ... until Sunday morning ... until you get a new car or home ... until your car or home is paid off ... until spring, until summer ... until fall ... until winter ... until you are off welfare ... until the first or fifteenth ... until your song comes on ... until you've had a drink ... until you've sobered up ... until you die ... until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy ...

Happiness is a journey ... not a destination!!

I'm feeling like the little kid who always wishes he could do those things which he knows he can't. I was hit by the video to the right (Same Mistake by James Blunt) twice this morning (2/28), while watching VH1's morning video show and in my top 40 music stream that I leave on while I shower (I know, I know, TMI but what of it, it's my blog after all :P)

The more I think about it the more I feel like something's missing and I think that's what should be the driving force for me. To look for what's missing in life right now.

I started thinking about the trip to Chile in December and January. It is intended as a healing trip and a trip that will allow me to reconnect with those people and places I grew up with and also to reconnect with the real me.

I know it's petty to say but it's true. I think that somewhere down the line I lost track of myself and started being more who I perceived others (family and strangers alike) wanted me to be, not who I really am and not who I really want to be :-). 

Yes, you're right. Perhaps I am being unfair in my evaluation of my evaluation... an overall evaluation of above average is nothing to sneeze at but it's a perception thing more than anything, I am perceived one w
ay and I came to the conclusion that it's other people who drive me to behaviors that are found objectionable.

I think that's the real reason why I want to go back to Chile so bad. Not only because I want to see my friends, although it's important to catch up with people whom I haven't seen in almost 16 years. Not only because I have family obligations to take care of, hell I've put them off for 5+ years so there's no reason for me to want to do it now. It's not even because I'd have an extra month of hot as hell summer

I think it has all to do with my need to really look deep and see who do I want to be, where I want to go from now on  and who, if anyone, I want to go with. I say this every so often but the combination of my needing to find myself, the shit I've been going through at work, the realization that I'm not getting any younger, and the feeling that there's something missing is driving this to a completely different level than it's been in the past.

Perhaps it's also the fact that I am far less willing to compromise and let other people run complete roughshod over me than I've been in the past. If it means I have to get territorial then so be it. If it means that I have to become more confrontational then I welcome the challenge to keep an even keel while at the same time addressing issues that are important to me.

It's kinda ironic, I know, to be looking for a way to avoid conflict that includes conflict but it's one of those dualities that I'm having to deal with.

Here's another duality: True Strength Lies in Kindness.  Where you really demonstrate your strength is not by being the one beating up all comers but by knowing when and how to deal with a situation so that it doesn't become one where violence or a show of strength is necessary. The key knowledge in all battles is knowing when to fight and when not to 🙂

I tell myself,
"Hey! Only fools rush in"
Only time will tell
If we stand the test of time
All I know
You've got to run to win and
I'll damned if i'll get caught up on the line. Hey!

Why can't this be love -- Van Halen

I'll stop here for now. There are a lot of things to ponder, think, consider, evaluate and implement (Instructional design keeps interrupting my normal programming... grrrr.) before I can take a look at this again and figure out if I got answers or only more questions

Long(er) Term Plans

Some of the things that I want to do and questions that I want to answer before the end of the year (Q2 and Q3, 2008)

Activity Description Notes
GRE  --> Dates?! Pick a date and take it, don't worry about the score for now
  Question about submission to multiple institutions  
UNR --> PhD without an MA Can I do the PhD and complete an MA at the same time?
  MA with Emphasis in Basque Studies  
UGA --> Work on packet Deadline is in December
  App Fee  
Trip to Chile --> Dates Ideally December '08 / January '09 for 1 month
  • Trip to Antofagasta to spend time with family and visit Dad's grave
  • Diving lessons before I go so I can go diving when there
  • Train Trip to Chiloe and lots of hiking once there or just quiet time for reflection
  • Blogging, lots of blogging
  • Buy a Cannon SLR camera so I can take tons and tons of pictures and load them directly to blog and/or gallery
  • Contact friends so I can spend time with them
  • Answer the question: Do I want to stay?
  • Cost Tickets from SFO and from LAX (LAX seems to be cheaper by about $200) either getting my ass down there or flying out of whatever city I find myself in
  • Find a place to stay (rent from aunt or friend?)
  • Contact the people I want to see

Battle Company Is Out There

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Eyes in the Sky: At Camp Blessing, battalion members — led by Lt. Col. Bill Ostlund, far right — watch a monitor showing Capt. Dan Kearney’s troops six miles away. More Photos >



Published: February 24, 2008

WE TUMBLED OUT of two Black Hawks onto a shrub-dusted mountainside. It was a windy, cold October evening. A half-moon illuminated the tall pines and peaks. Through night-vision goggles the soldiers and landscape glowed in a blurry green-and-white static. Just across the valley, lights flickered from a few homes nestled in the terraced farmlands of Yaka China, a notorious village in the Korengal River valley in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar. Yaka China was just a few villages south and around a bend in the river from the Americans’ small mountain outposts, but the area’s reputation among the soldiers was mythic. It was a known safe haven for insurgents. American troops have tended to avoid the place since a nasty fight a year or so earlier. And as Halloween approached, the soldiers I was with, under the command of 26-year-old Capt. Dan Kearney, were predicting their own Yaka China doom.

The Korengal Valley is a lonely outpost of regress: most of the valley’s people practice Wahhabism, a more rigid variety of Islam than that followed by most Afghans, and about half of the fighters confronting the U.S. there are homegrown. The rest are Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks; the area is close to Pakistan’s frontier regions where Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda figures are often said to be hiding out. The Korengal fighters are fierce, know the terrain and watch the Americans’ every move. On their hand-held radios, the old jihadis call the Americans “monkeys,” “infidels,” ‘’bastards” and “the kids.” It’s psychological warfare; they know the Americans monitor their radio chatter.

As far as “the kids” are concerned, the insurgents are ghosts — so the soldiers’ tactics often come down to using themselves as bait. The insurgents specialize in ambushes, harassing fire and hit-and-run attacks. NATO’s military advantage in such a war is air power. The soldiers don’t hesitate to call in Big Daddy (who, in today’s military, often flies in with the voice of a female pilot). But while these flying war machines are saviors to the soldiers, they cannot distinguish between insurgents and civilians.

I went to Afghanistan last fall with a question: Why, with all our technology, were we killing so many civilians in air strikes? As of September of last year, according to Human Rights Watch, NATO was causing alarmingly high numbers of civilian deaths — 350 by the coalition, compared with 438 by the insurgents. The sheer tonnage of metal raining down on Afghanistan was mind-boggling: a million pounds between January and September of 2007, compared with half a million in all of 2006.

After a few days, the first question sparked more: Was there a deeper problem in the counterinsurgency campaign? More than 100 American soldiers were killed last year, the highest rate since the invasion. Why were so many more American troops being killed? To find out, I spent much of the fall in the Korengal Valley and elsewhere in Kunar province alongside soldiers who were making life-and-death decisions almost every day — decisions that led to the deaths of soldiers and of civilians.

Subduing the Valley

OVER THE LAST two years, the Americans have steadily increased their presence in Kunar province, fanning out to the small platoon-size outposts that have become the signature of the new counterinsurgency doctrine in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The Korengal Outpost, nicknamed the KOP, was built in April 2006 on the site of a former timber mill and motel. The soldiers of Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team live there in dusty tents and little wooden huts. They now have hot food and a small chow tent with an Internet linkup and a few phones for calling home. But the place was protected by not much more than concertina wire and sentries. Nearly every time I arrived at the KOP our helicopter was greeted by sniper fire or the dushka — a Russian-made antiaircraft gun.

Dan Kearney was essentially lord of the Korengal Valley. A self-described Georgia army brat, he grew up idolizing his warrior dad, Frank Kearney, and wanted to move in his father’s world of covert and overt operations. (His father is now a lieutenant general in Special Operations command.) Kearney often calls himself a dumb jock, playing the crass, loudmouthed tough guy with his soldiers. He had been in Iraq and told me he had gone emotionally dead there with all the dying and killing, and stayed that way until the birth of his son a year ago. His hardest day in Iraq was when a close friend, Rob Shaw, was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device that killed his first sergeant and a bunch of their friends — and the next thing he knew their colonel was asking Kearney to step in for Shaw and lead the company.

But as hard as Iraq was, he said, nothing was as tough as the Korengal. Unlike in Iraq, where the captains and lieutenants could let down their guard in a relatively safe, fortified operating base, swapping stories and ideas, here they had no one to talk to and were almost as vulnerable to enemy fire inside the wire as out. Last summer, insurgents stormed one of the bases in a nearby valley and wounded 16.

And unlike every other place I’ve been in Afghanistan — even the Pech River valley, just an hour’s drive away — the Korengal had no Afghan police or district leaders for the Americans to work with. The Afghan government, and Afghans down the valley, seemed to have washed their hands of the Korengalis. As Kearney put it to me one day at the KOP, the Korengal is like a tough Los Angeles neighborhood, “and we’re the L.A.P.D. kicking in the door, arresting guys, demanding information about the gangs, and slowly the people say, ‘No, we don’t know anything, because that guy in the gang, he’s with my sister, and that other guy, he’s my uncle’s cousin.’ Now we’ve angered them for so many years that they’ve decided: ‘I’m gonna stick with the A.C.M.’ ” — anticoalition militants — “ ‘who are my brothers and I’m not gonna rat them out.’ ”

So what exactly was his job out here? To subdue the valley. It’s a task the Marines had tried, and then the soldiers of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division — a task so bloody it seemed to drive the 10th Mountain’s soldiers to a kind of madness. Kearney’s soldiers told me they’d been spooked by the we
ird behavior of their predecessors last May: near the end of their tour, many would sit alone on the fire base talking to themselves. Privates disobeyed their sergeants, and squad leaders refused to step outside the wire to show the new boys the terrain. No one wanted to be shot in the last days of his tour.

Kearney kept his soldiers on a tight leash at first. Col. John Nicholson, a brigade commander with the 10th Mountain Division, had promised the Afghans he would not bomb their homes. When Kearney and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team officially took over from the division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team on June 5, they kept that promise. “My guys would tell me they didn’t know which houses they’re shooting from, and I’d tell them they can’t shoot back into the villages,” Kearney recalled. “They hated me.” The insurgents were testing the new captain, he suspected, by deliberately shooting from homes. On July 10, the Korengalis ambushed his soldiers from one house they often used — a three-story mansion on a fertile outcropping, with balconies overlooking the valley, that belonged to Haji Matin, a timber baron turned insurgent leader. It had been the scene of fighting in the past.

When Kearney’s moment of decision came, two of 2nd Platoon’s sergeants, Kevin Rice and Tanner Stichter, had been shot, and the fight was still going on. Kearney could see a woman and child in the house. “We saw people moving weapons around,” Kearney told me. “I tried everything. I fired mortars to the back side to get the kids to run out the front. I shot to the left, to the right. The Apache” — an attack helicopter — “got shot at and left. I kept asking for a bomb drop, but no one wanted to sign off on the collateral damage of dropping a bomb on a house.” Finally, he said, “We shot a javelin and a tow” — both armor-piercing missiles. “I didn’t get shot at from there for two months,” Kearney said. “I ended up killing that woman and that kid.”

Kearney could often sound cold-blooded, like when he’d march into the mess tent in shorts, improvising rap lyrics about killing bad guys. But then he’d switch to counselor, trying to salvage a soldier’s marriage, or he’d joke with a Korengali elder about arranging a marriage between his own infant son and the elder’s daughter to make peace. The performances steeled him against shouldering so much mortality. As he put it, “The only reason anyone’s listening to me in this valley right now is ’cause I’m dropping bombs on them.” Still, he wasn’t going to let himself shoot at houses every time his unit took fire: “I’d just create more people that hate me.”

A Blood Feud

IN LATE 2001, the B-52 symbolized, for many Afghans, liberation from Taliban rule. They wove images of the plane into their carpets. Urban legends sprang up about the B-52’s power, how the planes glided along unscathed, even as the Taliban barraged them with antiaircraft fire. Kabulis spread the story that the B-52s had dropped thousands of leaflets saying, “Hit us if you can!” — and afterward the Taliban didn’t waste their bullets on the B-52s.

But the jets that defeated the Taliban were wiping out innocent families as well. In July 2002, Special Forces in the mountains of Oruzgan thought they were destroying a high-value Taliban target, but instead they rocketed and bombed an engagement party. About 40 Afghans were killed and nearly 100 were wounded.

Such mistakes have continued, though the causes can change. The insurgents regularly use civilians as shields, children as spotters and women as food suppliers. NATO killing civilians is great propaganda for the Taliban. At the same time, to Afghans with little technological sophistication, the scale and impersonality make the accidents seem intentional. Many are convinced the Americans are deliberately bombing them and even deliberately aiding a Taliban comeback. The reality is that bombs are only as accurate as the intelligence on the ground — and since 9/11, the U.S. and NATO have used air power as a substitute for ground troops.

By now, seven years of air strikes and civilian casualties, humiliating house searches and arbitrary detentions have pushed many families and tribes to revenge. The Americans then see every Afghan in those pockets of recalcitrance as an enemy. If you peel back the layers, however, there’s always a local political story at the root of the killing and dying. That original misunderstanding and grievance fertilizes the land for the Islamists. Whom do you want to side with: your brothers in God’s world or the infidel thieves?

In the case of the Korengal Valley, the story began about a century ago, when the tribesmen now known as Korengalis were kicked out of the province of Nuristan (immediately north of Kunar province) and settled in the Korengal, which was rich with timber forests and farmland. Over time they made an alliance with one branch of the large Safi tribe, which once dominated Kunar politics. But down the road along the Pech River valley, the rest of the Safis opposed the Korengalis.

As the Afghans tell the story, from the moment the Americans arrived in 2001, the Pech Valley timber lords and warlords had their ear. Early on, they led the Americans to drop bombs on the mansion of their biggest rival — Haji Matin. The air strikes killed several members of his family, according to local residents, and the Americans arrested others and sent them to the prison at Bagram Air Base. The Pech Valley fighters working alongside the Americans then pillaged the mansion. And that was that. Haji Matin, already deeply religious, became ideological and joined with Abu Ikhlas, a local Arab linked to the foreign jihadis.

By 2007, the Americans understood what happened. Last year, the governor of Nuristan even sat them down with the Korengali elders to try and mediate between the two sides. Nothing came of it. Kearney tried to dig deeper, sending e-mail messages to anthropologists and Afghan experts to get their guidance. He spent hours listening to Haji Zalwar Khan — who acted as the valley’s representative to the Americans and the government — talk about history and grievances. Haji Zalwar, a jihadi veteran of the anti-Soviet fight, bore the valley’s burden almost alone and had the grim demeanor to prove it. Kearney met as many villagers as possible to learn the names of all the elders and their families. But he inherited a blood feud between the Korengalis and the Americans that he hadn’t started, and he was being sucked into its logic.

“Serious P.T.S.D.”

LAST AUTUMN,, after five months of grueling foot patrols up and down the mountains, after fruitless encounters with elders who smiled in the morning and were host to insurgents in the evening and after losing friends to enemy fire, Captain Kearney’s men could relate to the sullen, jittery rage of their predecessors in the 10th Mountain Division. Many wondered what they were doing out there at all.

Kearney refused to entertain that thought. He would tell his visitors, whether generals or reconstruction teams, that his campaign plan was clear, if modest: “It’s World War II Pacific-island hopping, turning one village at a time.” Over five months, he had gained about 400 yards of terrain. When some generals and colonels had flown in for a quick tour, and Kearney was showing them the lay of the land, one officer said to another, as Kearney later recalled it, “I don’t know why we’re ev
en out here.” Another officer jumped in to talk up the logic of the operation. Kearney told me he thought: Sort your stuff out before you come out here. My boys are sucking it up and dying. . . . For besides being lord of the valley, he had another role to play — motivator, disciplinarian and confidant to his soldiers. “It’s like being in charge of a soap opera,” he told me. “I feel like Dr. Phil with guns.”

One full-moon night I was sitting outside a sandbag-reinforced hut with Kearney when a young sergeant stepped out hauling the garbage. He looked around at the illuminated mountains, the dust, the rocks, the garbage bin. The monkeys were screeching. “I hate this country!” he shouted. Then he smiled and walked back into the hut. “He’s on medication,” Kearney said quietly to me.

Then another soldier walked by and shouted, “Hey, I’m with you, sir!” and Kearney said to me, “Prozac. Serious P.T.S.D. from last tour.” Another one popped out of the HQ cursing and muttering. “Medicated,” Kearney said. “Last tour, if you didn’t give him information, he’d burn down your house. He killed so many people. He’s checked out.”

As I went to get some hot chocolate in the dining tent, the peaceful night was shattered by mortars, rockets and machine-gun fire banging and bursting around us. It was a coordinated attack on all the fire bases. It didn’t take long to understand why so many soldiers were taking antidepressants. The soldiers were on a 15-month tour that included just 18 days off. Many of them were “stop-lossed,” meaning their contracts were extended because the army is stretched so thin. You are not allowed to refuse these extensions. And they felt eclipsed by Iraq. As Sgt. Erick Gallardo put it: “We don’t get supplies, assets. We scrounge for everything and live a lot more rugged. But we know the war is here. We got unfinished business.”

For sanity, all they had was the medics’ tent, video games and movies — “Gladiator,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Dogma,” Monty Python. Down the road in the Pech Valley, soldiers played cricket with Afghan kids and had organized boxing and soccer matches. Lt. Kareem Hernandez, a New Yorker running a base on the Pech River, regularly bantered over dinner with the Afghan police. Neighbors would come by with tips. But here in the Korengal, the soldiers were completely alienated from the local culture. One night while watching a scene from HBO’s “Rome” in which a Roman soldier tells a slave he wants to marry her, a soldier asked which century the story was set in. “First B.C. or A.D.,” said another soldier. The first shook his head: “And they’re still living like this 800 meters outside the wire.”

At the end of the summer, Kearney told his dad, “My boys are gonna go crazy out here.” The army sent a shrink, and Kearney got a wake-up call about his own leadership. He discovered that half his men thought he was playing Russian roulette with their lives and the other half thought he stuck too closely to the rules of engagement. “The moral compass of the army is the P.L. and the C.O.” — the platoon leader and the commanding officer, Kearney told me. “I told every one of my P.L.’s that they have to set that moral standard, that once you slip to the left, you can’t pull your guys back in.”

Operation Rock Avalanche

ON OCT. 19, Kearney and Battle Company were air assaulted into the insurgents’ backyard for a mission that many thought insane. It was called Rock Avalanche and would last about six days. One of its main targets was the village of Yaka China.

Kearney, being the good soldier, tried to pump up his boys with the promise that they would be going after insurgents who had killed their friends and whose grizzled faces were plastered on their bad-guy family-tree wall at the KOP. They would upset the guerrillas’ safe haven and their transit routes from Pakistan. They would persuade the villagers to stop harboring the bad guys by offering an $11 million road project that had just been approved by NATO and Kabul and would be built by the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team. And they’d complete the “human terrain mapping” that is part of the new counterinsurgency doctrine — what families dominate, who’s married, who’s feuding, are there divisions to be exploited?

It was a lot to ask of young soldiers: play killer, cultural anthropologist, hearts-and-minds winner and then killer again. Which is why, just hours before the mission was to begin, some soldiers were smearing black-and-green war paint on their faces when their sergeant shouted: “Take it off. Now!” Why? They’d frighten the villagers.

It seemed a moot point as Rock Avalanche got under way. Apache gunships were scanning the ridges for insurgents. Other helicopters were dropping off more soldiers. An unmanned drone was whining overhead as it sent infrared video feeds to a large screen back at the battalion’s headquarters, Camp Blessing, six miles north of the KOP.

Almost immediately, high on a mountainside looking down on Yaka China, Kearney had to play God. In a ditch to his left, Jesse Yarnell, a young intelligence officer, along with John, an Afghan interpreter, were intercepting insurgents on their two-way radios saying, “We see them, we’re going to wait.”

“They’re right down there!” said Kevin Caroon as he gazed out of his night vision. Caroon, from Connecticut and a father of two, was an Air Force JTAC — the joint terminal attack controller who talks the combat pilots onto their targets. “See that? Two people moving south 400 meters away from us,” Caroon said, pointing down the mountain face. More insurgents were located nearby.

“Sir, what do you want to do?” Caroon asked Kearney.

“I want them dead,” Kearney said.

“Engage them?”

“Yes. Take ’em out.”

Caroon radioed the pilot his instructions, “On-scene commander’s intent is to engage.” And that was it.

A sudden wail pierced the night sky. It was Slasher, an AC-130 gunship, firing bullets the size of Coke bottles. Flaming shapes ricocheted all around the village. Kearney was in overdrive. The soldiers back at the KOP were radioing in that the drone was tracking 10 men near the tree line. Yarnell was picking up insurgent radio traffic. “They’re talking about getting ready to hit us,” someone said. The pilot could see five men, one entering a house, then, no, some were in the trees, some inside, and then, multiple houses. He wanted confirmation — were all these targets hostile? Did Kearney have any collateral-damage concerns? Cursing, Kearney told them to engage the men outside but not to hit the house. The pilots radioed back that men had just run inside. No doubt there would be a family. Caroon reminded Kearney that Slasher had only enough fuel to stay in position for 10 more minutes.

“What do you want to do, sir?” Caroon asked him.

Kearney radioed his soldiers back at the KOP to contact his boss, Lt. Col. Bill Ostlund. Ostlund, a Nebraska social scientist who could switch effortlessly from aggressive bomber to political negotiator talking family values with Afghan tribal elders, was in the crowded tactical-operations room at Camp Blessing watching the drone’s video feed and getting the same intelligence. He signed off on collateral damage,
and Kearney turned to Caroon: “Take out the compound. And anyone that comes out.”

Flaming rockets flashed through the sky. Thunder rumbled and echoed through the valley. Then there was a pause. Slasher asked Caroon whether the insurgents were still talking. Kearney shouted over to Yarnell in his ditch, “You picking anything up?” Nothing. More spitting rockets.

The night seemed incomprehensible and interminable. Slasher departed and Gunmetal — an Apache helicopter — swept in. Radio communication kept breaking down. At one point the crew of Gunmetal, sensing no hostile intent, refused Kearney’s orders to fire. Then suddenly Gunmetal was rocketing at figures scattering for cover. Then Slasher was back in the sky doing more “work.” In the predawn light Bone — the nickname for the B-1 bomber that seemed to be the soldiers’ favorite — winged in and dropped two 2,000-pound bombs above the village. Finally, around dawn, a weary Kearney, succumbing to gallows humor, adrenaline and exhaustion, said: “O.K., I’ve done my killing for the week. I’m ready to go home.”

Kearney estimated that they killed about 20 people, adding: “I’m not gonna lie. Some are probably civilians.”

In the logic of war, the best antidote for the menacing ghostliness of the ambushing enemy is killing and knowing you’ve killed them. The soldiers in the Korengal almost never had that kind of satisfaction. Any insurgents, if they were killed, would be buried fast, and all that was left in their wake were wounded civilians. That morning, after a long night of fighting, was no different. Within an hour or so, Lt. Matt Piosa, an earnest, 24-year-old West Point grad, and his patrol were in Yaka China. They radioed that the village elders were asking to bury their dead. They’d also collected wounded civilians. The tally was bad — 5 killed and 11 wounded, all of them women, girls and boys.

Kearney radioed Camp Blessing the bad news and dropped his head between his knees. Killing women and children was tragedy enough. But civilian casualties are also a political issue. If he didn’t manage to explain his actions to the Yaka China villagers and get them to understand his intentions, he could lose them to the enemy. Meanwhile, Yarnell and his team were intercepting radio messages like: “Be very quiet. Move the things over here. Pray for us.” At least some of the insurgents from the previous night’s fight had survived to fight again. The planes were tracking them hiding along a creek. But after the civilian casualties of the night before, senior commanders were refusing to give Kearney clearance to bomb or rocket them.

The short day was fading. The sun dropped behind the peaks. The cold winds rattled our bones. The soldiers tried to make light of their conviction that they’d be attacked by those insurgents dissolving into the villages. Their fears were realized.

Hearts and Minds

TO TRY TO ACQUIRE allies, Kearney and some of his men flew down the next day to Yaka China. With nowhere else to land, the Black Hawk helicopters descended on the roof of a house not far below the compound that Slasher, the AC-130, had rocketed the night of the 19th. Dust and dried grass whipped across the house and the villagers’ faces. Just to endear themselves even more, the soldiers from Battle Company had to step on harvested corn as they climbed down; it was drying on the second story.

The adversaries faced off in the courtyard as chickens sprinted in and out. On one side were Kearney, Ostlund and Larry LeGree, a naval nuclear engineer and head of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, together with their entourage, including interpreters, all in futuristic high-tech gear. On the other side were the Korengali elders, who looked as if they stepped out of “Lord of the Rings” with their crooked walking sticks, beards dyed red and blue eyes framed by kohl. With no Afghan government out here, the elders are the only channel for communication. The younger men sat on the ground, wrapped in shawls and bold indifference.

Kearney squatted and told the Korengalis that when he came to this region he hoped to walk into Yaka China and find out what the villagers needed. Instead, he found that there were some 50 insurgents in and around the village. He pointed to the evidence — military radio batteries that his men had found, binoculars, rockets, an old pistol, a small pamphlet titled, in Arabic, “How to Kill,” and one in Pashto, “The Concise Book on the Virtues of Jihad” — that had been collected in the general area by Afghan soldiers and Americans. It was not a very incriminating haul, and everyone knew it.

The day before, a U.S. medevac had airlifted out the wounded civilians from the village. Humanitarian assistance was air-dropped in, including concrete for retaining walls, rice and blankets for winter. The provisions were not compensation, Kearney told the elders. “It’s what the government does for their people when there is security here,” he said. He asked them to tell him where in the mountains the insurgents were hiding their supplies. “That way I don’t have to come in here and shoot at you and identify the good guys from the bad guys,” he said.

To keep his bearings amid the hostile faces, Kearney kept appealing to Haji Zalwar Khan, the leading go-between among the valley’s elders. He made his fortune in the timber trade and blamed the Americans for shutting it down. He tried to placate both the Americans and the insurgents. He was not about to side with Kearney in public. “How can I know where you found these things?” he asked, referring to the jihadi items. “In the mountain? The house? How do I know whom they belong to?”

Kearney smiled. He was getting used to the routine between the Americans and the villagers — miscommunication and deception. The encounter felt as much performative, a necessary part of the play, as substantive. And I wondered how Kearney was going to keep his sanity for 10 more months.

Just a week or so earlier, I had been at the KOP when villagers from Aliabad — a mile south of the KOP, and the home village of Haji Zalwar Khan — complained to Kearney that some ordnance had hit a house. Later they sent up the homeowner’s teenage son to wrest compensation from Kearney. As we walked to the KOP’s entrance to meet the boy, a shot rang out, then another. The bullets smacked the dirt in front of us. Kearney shoved me into a shack where an Afghan was cooking bread. A few more shots were fired. It was “One-Shot Freddy,” as the soldiers refer to him, an insurgent shooter everyone had a theory about regarding the vintage of his gun, his identity, his tactics — but neither Kearney’s scouts nor Shadow the drone could ever track him. I accidentally slashed my forearm on a nail in the shack and as I watched the blood pool I thought that if I had to live with Freddy and his ilk for months on end I, too, would see a forked tongue in every villager and start dreaming of revenge.

Kearney was angry. “Taliban shot your house?” he asked the boy from Aliabad. An interpreter translated.

No, said the boy, Americans did.

“What’d we shoot with?”

“I don’t know the weapon, but there’s little holes and two big holes.”

“I didn’t shoot into Aliabad,” said Kearney, adding that if one of his soldiers had, it was because insurgents were firing from the village.

“No one shoots from the village,” said the boy, though everyone knew insurgents had wounded several of Kearney’s soldiers by shooting from th
e mosque, the cemetery, the school. . . .

The boy changed course, “God knows better than me,” and that sent Kearney on a riff: “Yes. God does and God talks to me and told me they do.” And by the way, hadn’t the boy noticed that the bad guys always start shooting first?

“O.K., then shoot them, not our house,” the boy said.

“Then tell me where the bad guys are,” Kearney said. The boy said he didn’t know. What he knew was that the Americans were always shooting at the village.

This went on for some time. When the boy again protested that no one shoots from his village, Kearney interrupted him. “Aminullah does,” he said. Aminullah was a native of Aliabad and a rising figure in the valley’s insurgency.

The boy smiled.

“You’re smiling because you know I’m right,” Kearney said.

“You’re right,” the boy said. “So shoot the cemetery, not our house.”

Kearney moved closer to him. “Look, if you want help with your house, all you have to do is ask. But don’t accuse us every time something goes wrong.”

The boy laughed and repeated that he didn’t know where the bad guys were.

“It’s crazy, man. They must be ghosts!” Kearney said, laughing.

“Aminullah doesn’t come to Aliabad anymore,” the boy said, perhaps trying to give Kearney a bone.

Kearney leapt at it. “So Aminullah is bad?”


“Ah! Finally! We’re getting somewhere.” Kearney took off his helmet and squeezed his hands together and rocked as he sat on a wall. “What about Mohammad Tali, he’s a good guy isn’t he?” Kearney asked.

Smiling again, the boy looked at the dirt: “No. You already told us he’s a bad guy.”

“Ah!” Kearney said, throwing up his hands. “So you were down there in the village when I gave radios and food. But instead you say I shoot at you all the time?” Kearney swung his legs back and forth. “Hey dude, ask yourself. Why would I bring you radios and food and shoot at you? Does Aminullah? No. What happened that day after I left?” The boy said all he knew was that the villagers went home and “they” started shooting. “Where?” Kearney asked, “from your village?”

“What can I say? The Americans were in my village.”

“Yeah, so I was doing good stuff for you guys and they shot at me. And what I’m trying to say is they could have shot at you again. And if I shoot at your house I’ll help. We’ll fix up that wall. I’m not here to hurt you.”

Everyone was getting restless in the little check post. Kearney tried to lighten up a bit. He asked the boy what he thought about the Americans.

“You build roads and clinics and schools and are here to help,” the boy said.

“Cop out,” Kearney shouted, chuckling. “Easy answer. Hey dude, you can say we’re rotten and messing up your lumber trade.” The boy laughed. Kearney laughed. Pfc. Michael Cunningham, the radio operator, and Sgt. Taylor White, who always manned the check post, both laughed.

“See, I knew it,” Kearney said. “That’s what you really think. Think I want to be here?”

“Yeah,” the boy said. “I think so.”

“Dude. I got a wife and son. I came here to help you out. If you give me as much help as possible I’ll get out of here a hell of a lot faster.”

Kearney told him to enjoy Ramadan, and then shouted, “Where’s my fuzzy friend?” as he looked about for Jericho, the puppy whose ears were chopped off by an Afghan worker: it was pre-emptive preparation for dog fighting — the ears would just give an enemy dog something to grab onto. “I need someone to make me happy. Jericho, I need some love.” Jericho appeared, leaping about. Kearney picked him up. “Hey, what’s up buddy? You’re a good boy. You smell like dirt.”

Kearney turned to Cunningham and White and said, “Well, he’s the first to admit Aminullah’s bad.” And give or take a little unreliable information shared here and there, that was the Korengal routine.

Fight Time

THE DAY AFTER the meeting with the elders of Yaka China, Yarnell and John could hear insurgents trying to pinpoint where Kearney and his men were. The helicopters had moved us to a ridge line, about 8,400 feet high, straddling the Korengal and Shuriak Valleys. The insurgents used the deep caves, boulders and forests as hideouts and transit routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We could hear someone who called himself Obeid saying he’d do whatever the Yaka China elders decided — whether to cooperate with the Americans or take revenge. By evening the elders had apparently reached their verdict. It was fight time.

Kearney, too, had reached a verdict. He would fool the insurgents, feigning a troop extraction when the helicopters came for resupply and pushing out his best guys in small “kill teams.” We heard the insurgents say, “We have wolves on them,” meaning spotters. A hoarse, whispering insurgent had eyes on either Sgt. Larry Rougle and his scouts or on Lieutenant Piosa and his rear guard. There was joking that Rougle and Piosa should dance and see which one the whisperer was spying on. Then nothing happened for almost 24 hours.

Rougle — who was called Wildcat — was on his sixth deployment since Sept. 11, 2001. He was with the first group of Rangers in Afghanistan. Even his rough background was something of a legend; he would tell how he grew up in a South Jersey gang, shot a guy, went to “juvie,” and there taught himself Russian (though he was estranged from his Russian father), taught himself politics, history, zoology. At night out in the woods, he’d tell his fellow scouts, “You know penguins are monogamous?”

I hung out with Piosa and his crew. His white skin, red hair and blue eyes belied the months of constant warfare he and his platoon had scraped through. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and the soldiers were joking around, heating up Meals Ready to Eat, spitting gobs of Copenhagen and then, in a moment, recess was over. The insurgents were on them. Bullets ricocheted all through the woods. A strange silence fell as everyone scrambled for cover. Three of us crouched behind a skinny pine tree. And the silence broke: curses, shouting.

“Where’s it coming from?”

“Where are my guys?”

“Jones, are you seeing things?”

More bullets. Cracks against the tree trunks. Bits of confusing information were coming in on Piosa’s radio.

“They’re comin’ up the low ground at 2-4” — Sergeant Rice’s call sign.

“One W.I.A. hit in the arm.” Then there was panic and screaming.

“The enemy’s overtaken the hill,” bellowed Pvt. Sterling Dunn from further down the trees.

“2-4 is hit” — that was Rice.

“Wildcat is run over the hill” — that was Rougle.

“Get a team to run up there and take that hill. They pushed Wildcat over the hill!” Piosa shouted, trying over and over to reach Rice and Rougle, but getting no answer. The battalion surgeon, Capt. Joel Dean, and a sergeant sprinted up the hill to get to the wounded. As the first Americans neared Rice and Rougle’s positions they were fired on from those same positions. What was going on?

I followed Piosa through
the brush toward the ridge. We came upon Rice and Specialist Carl Vandenberge behind some trees. Vandenberge was drenched in blood. The shot to his arm had hit an artery. Rice was shot in the stomach. A soldier was using the heating chemicals from a Meal Ready to Eat to warm Vandenberge and keep him from going into shock.

Piosa moved on to the hill where the men had been overrun. I saw big blue-eyed John Clinard, a sergeant from North Carolina, falling to pieces. He worshiped Rougle. “Sergeant Rougle is dying. It’s my fault. . . . I’m sorry. . . . I tried to get up the hill. . . .” Sergeant Rougle was lying behind him. Someone had already covered him with a blanket. Only the soles of his boots were visible.

“There’s nothing you could do,” Piosa said, grabbing Clinard’s shoulder. “You got to be the man now. You can do it. I need you to get down to Rice and Vandenberge and get them to the medevac.” Clinard wiped his face, seemed to snap to and headed off through the trees.

Two of Rice’s squad mates appeared, eyes dilated. They couldn’t believe they’d seen, up close, the ghosts they’d been fighting for the last five months. “I saw him in the eyes,” Specialist Marc Solowski said. “He looked at me. I shot him.” He and Specialist Michael Jackson had crawled up the hill twice trying to retake it. Each time the insurgents in “manjammies” whipped them back with machine-gun fire. There was blood on the stones around us. Some thought they saw blood trailing down toward the village of Landigal, where they were sure an insurgent had dashed into a cottage.

“We’re not losing this hill again,” Piosa shouted. “This hill is ours!” He wanted bombs to be dropped immediately.

“There’s women praying in that house,” Dunn shouted back.

I was fixating on Rougle’s black hat, lying by the bloodied rock patch where Dunn was sitting, when Sergeant Stichter, Dunn’s senior, appeared, out of breath and shaking, back from tending to Vandenberge. He needed water. The F-15 known as Dude was en route, the Apaches were chasing men and Kearney — who had bolted down the mountain, throwing grenades in caves — was barking orders. Kearney was badly shaken. He adored Rougle, and he’d broken down when he saw his big old buddy Rice bleeding at the landing zone. Rice comforted him and then lumbered to the helicopter, just asking to talk to his wife before they put him under.

The insurgents had run off with some of Rougle, Rice and Vandenberge’s stuff — ammunition, communication equipment, night vision goggles, machine guns. Kearney wanted the equipment back. He wanted to punish the valley. Stichter had his eyes on a guy pacing a rooftop in Landigal and wanted to blow his head off. Specialist Mitchell Raeon, whose uniform was now soaked in Rougle’s blood, had the guy in his scope but couldn’t range that far. “That’s a female,” Dunn said.

Kearney had identified insurgents who’d dashed into a house and wanted to hit them, but Stichter got back word from Camp Blessing saying the target was too close to other houses. Kearney sent back a reminder — you let some guys get away the other night. It was impossible to know for sure, but Kearney believed they were the guys who had killed Rougle, and now, he said, you’re going to let another group get away?

Someone cursed, then said, “They’re all leaving the house.”

Kearney radioed down to one of his lieutenants at an observation post. “Where are they going?” Yarnell heard the insurgents say they were coming back for the rest of the equipment. And then, with no warning, an F-15 dropped a bomb on Landigal, but off target, or so it seemed. Kearney was furious. He was sure headquarters had intentionally missed the house he had wanted hit.

I noticed Raeon was packing and unpacking Rougle’s things. Rougle’s scouts were in disarray, rudderless, and admitting it. Raeon said he kept seeing in his mind Rougle’s face alert and then dead, switching back and forth; he wanted it to stop.

The next day brought another brief firefight, and Rougle’s scouts rallied swiftly. They said they felt him watching and proud. There were more bomb drops and refusals to drop bombs, and then Becky, everyone’s favorite Apache pilot, swept in. Not only did she offer the comforting voice of a woman seeping right into their ears, but Becky was one of the most aggressive shooters. She flew up and down the canyon walls seeking out and rocketing insurgents. We heard them on the radio again boasting about retreating to safety under fire. They talked about the strike in Landigal that they thought might have killed Azizullah — “a real bad guy,” the radio operator told me.

Kearney was watching a crow flying above us. “Taliban are right,” he said. “Like they said yesterday, follow the birds, they follow the Americans. I wish I was made as strong as haj” — their nickname for insurgents. “They were balls to do what they did. And guess what? I’m not gonna lie. They won.”

Killing Together

AS WE WAITED for dusk to get back to the KOP, we all knew the insurgents were nearby, eyes on Kearney, eyes on the soldiers down in the valley. Even nightfall was no comfort because the full moon was floodlighting the Korengal. I returned to the KOP by helicopter with Kearney, while 1st and 2nd Platoons had to make the long trek back on foot. As soon as 1st Platoon set off, the insurgents struck with a devastating L-shaped ambush. All Kearney could do, back at the KOP, was calm his boys on the radio, get in the medevac and invoke the gods of war. The Apaches, Slasher and Bone dropped bombs all night. The soldiers and insurgents were so close that when Slasher, the AC-130, flew in, the pilot coordinated not with the JTAC but with Sgt. Roberto Sandifer, the platoon’s forward observer, who at that moment was under fire watching one of his guys die.

Around midnight, 1st Platoon filed into the KOP, eyes bulging, drenched in sweat, river water and blood. They were hauling the belongings of Mohammad Tali, a high-value target. Specialist Sal Giunta had killed him.

The next day I climbed up to the KOP and found Specialist Giunta, a quiet Iowan lofted into a heroism he didn’t want. His officers were putting him up for a medal of honor. Giunta told me the story of that night, how they’d barely moved 300 yards before they were blasted. Giunta was fourth in the file when it happened, and he jumped into a ditch. He couldn’t figure out why they were getting hit from where Joshua Brennan and baby-faced Franklin Eckrode should have been leading up ahead. He knew it must be bad, but as he leapt up to check he got whacked with a bullet in his armored chest plate. It threw him down. They were taking fire from three sides. He grabbed some grenades: “I couldn’t throw as far as Sergeant Gallardo. We were looking like retards and I decided to run out in front of the grenades.” He found Eckrode with gunshot wounds. “He was down but moving and trying to fix his SAW” — a heavy machine gun — “so I just kept on running up the trail. It was cloudy. I was running and saw dudes. Plural.”

He couldn’t figure out who they were. Then he realized they were hauling Brennan off through the forest. “I started shooting,” he recalled. “I emptied that magazine. They dropped Brennan.” Giunta scrambled up to Brennan. He was a mess. His lower jaw was shot off. “He was still conscious. He was breathing. He was asking for morphine. I said, ‘You’ll get out and tell your hero stories,’ and he was like, ‘I will, I will.’ ”

They were still taking fire. No one was
there to help. Hugo Mendoza, their platoon medic, was back in another ditch, calling: “I’m bleeding out. I’m dying.” Giunta saw Brennan’s eyes go back. His breathing was bad. Giunta got Brennan to squeeze his hand. A medic showed up out of the sky. They prepared Brennan to be hoisted to the medevac in a basket. Soon he would be dead.

As the medevacs flew out, Sergeant Sandifer had talked in air cover: Slasher, the AC-130. The pilot was a woman and, Sandifer later told me, “It was so reassuring for us to hear her voice.” She spotted guys hiding and asked if she was clear to engage. “ ‘You’re cleared hot,’ I told her. And we killed two people together.” But, at this point, the killings were no consolation to Sandifer.

As Giunta said, “The richest, most-trained army got beat by dudes in manjammies and A.K.’s.” His voice cracked. He was not just hurting, he was in a rage. And there was nothing for him to do with it but hold back his tears, and bark — at the Afghans for betraying them, at the Army for betraying them. He didn’t run to the front because he was a hero. He ran up to get to Brennan, his friend. “But they” — he meant the military — “just keep asking for more from us.” His contract would be up in 18 days but he had been stop-lossed and couldn’t go home. Brennan himself was supposed to have gotten out in September. He’d been planning to go back to Wisconsin where his dad lived, play his guitar and become a cop.

Sandifer was questioning why they were sticking it out in the Korengal when the people so clearly hated them. He was haunted by Mendoza’s voice calling to him: “I’m bleeding out. I’m dying.” He worried that the Korengal was going to push them off the deep end. In his imagination it had already happened. One day an Afghan visited their fire base, Sandifer told me. “I was staring at him, on the verge of picking up my weapon to shoot him,” he said. “I know right from wrong, but even if I did shoot him everyone at the fire base would have been O.K. We’re all to the point of ‘Lord of the Flies.’ ” And they still had 10 months to go in the Korengal.

I wondered how Kearney was going to win back his own guys, let alone win over the Korengalis. Just before I left, Kearney told me his biggest struggle would be holding his guys in check. “I’ve got too many geeking out, wanting to go off the deep end and kill people,” he said. One of his lieutenants wanted to shoot every Afghan in the face. Kearney shook his head. He wished he could buy 20 goats and let the boys beat and burn them and let loose their rage. He tried to tell them the restraints were a product of their success — that there was an Afghan government with its own rules. “I’m balancing plates on my goddamn nose is what I’m doing,” he said. “All it’s gonna take is for one of these guys to snap.”

But leave the Korengal, as the colonel had suggested, and let some other company deal with it? No way. He’d spent five months learning the valley, getting involved in it; he couldn’t just pull out. At least he would keep the insurgents busy here so the other companies could do hearts and minds unimpeded down along the Pech river. “I lost seven dudes here,” he told me. “It’s too much blood. I don’t want to give this up. This is mine.”

To Be Continued

COLONEL OSTLUND and his officers, and the governor of Kunar and his officials, held an all-day meeting with the Korengali elders. The elders wanted to talk about Rock Avalanche and the devastation that had rained down on them. Colonel Ostlund told them, “If anything should happen to Captain Kearney, pain and misery will knock on many doors in the Korengal.” He gave them 10 days to pick sides — the insurgents or the government. Only then would he consider going ahead with the road project. Their answer came back. They would leave the valley altogether. But they didn’t, and 10 days later insurgents pulled off another ambush of a platoon from the 173rd. The entire patrol went down, either wounded or killed. Kearney told me recently that they had wounded Abu Ikhlas and killed some other bad guys. He said he was pretty sure that Haji Matin, the embittered timber lord, had been killed, too. But the dialogue with the Korengalis was pretty much the same as it had been. Only the winter snows have brought some minor respite to the valley.

Elizabeth Rubin, a contributing writer, has reported extensively on Afghanistan, most recently in a two-part series for the magazine on the revival of the Taliban.

Hits and Misses

I know it's not good to dwell on failure but it is good to review accomplishments and plan ahead, even if it's a little bit and plan around failures.... Sure, I'm not dumb enough to make the same mistakes over and over again, am I?  Where before I could have said emphatically NO; now I can really be sure of the answer I give because I no longer have certainty of where I'm going and how to get there.

I have to keep asking myself, where did the certainty go? Why am I, all of a sudden, so desperate to get out of where I'm at? is it really all of a sudden? Did I really let things get to the point where I knew I'd want out of the job knowing that it would happen?   Things have been rough for the past year yet I let them get worse and worse thinking they would turn for the better and they haven't.... Is this one of the situations where you know you can't win so you'll move on? What happens to the next poor son of a bitch who gets my job? Time will tell, as Hiki-chan sings above.

So... having stayed this long probably falls into the miss category. While I've learned a lot in the 3+ years I've been here I should have listened when my heart started saying it was time to move on rather than have to put up with all the bullshit currently going on and my brain started little by little looking for alternatives.

Whether I leave or not I owe to myself to stand up for what I think is right. I've been going through and processing a lot of anger over the past couple months and I think it's time for me to let it out. The 2 reviews I've had have been totally unfair in their perception and judgement of my work and the way that the review was written came as a total surprise.

Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I'm still waiting

I'm through, with doubt,
There's nothing left for me to figure out,
I've paid a price, and I'll keep paying

I'm not ready to make nice,
I'm not ready to back down,
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

(Dixie Chicks - Ready to make nice)

One of the first things I was taught in my instructional design classes was that effective feedback was ongoing and that it started right when the problem was first discovered. I also hate the fact that I'm not taken seriously even now. I've expressed misgivings multiple times and they've been acknowledged with a "you're right" and no further action taken to address the concerns.

I think that not caving in to pressure and standing up for what I believe in is a hit. It is hard for me to be confrontational and even more so at this level but I firmly believe what I've said is true and I am willing to fight for it... hell, what do I have to loose?

I blogged about this a while ago (see entry: How to do what you love?). What I didn't realize at the time is the cost of doing what you love. I don't mean in terms of money and or resources, although that may or may not become an issue in the future, but in terms of the solitude that sometimes takes to stand your ground and to put career before happiness. A long time ago, almost 10 years to be more precise, I decided that relationships would take a backseat to career.... Now I'm paying the price in terms of wanting to be with someone and not having someone to be with.

Chilean/Hispanic cultural expectations aside, I think that age is becoming more and more of a factor. I've said it before, 34 is not old by any stretch of the imagination. It's just the 14 years that snuck by when I wasn't looking.... Yeah, yeah, he says the same thing every so often, I hear the argument already.  That may be so but I hadn't seen many of my high school friends in Facebook until now. It's a shock and a sad/happy state of events to know that I lost track of so many of the people whom I grew up with only to find most of them married and with multiple children. My best friend from my elementary school days and throughout school had her 3rd baby not too long ago... I lost track of her when her 1st baby was born!  It makes me wonder about this particular decision and about the path not traveled, it makes me think that it might be such a bad idea to go back to Chile for a couple years and see what happens.

Meeting my high school friends in Facebook is most definitely a hit. Even though I've been bad at handling these old/new people in my life it has been wonderful nonetheless

As to why I'm still single in light of what I wrote in the last paragraph. I've always used the excuse of being selective or wanting people who, deep down, I knew and know are unreachable. Whenever I thought I had found them I let them go and they became unreachable (either she got married to someone else or I decided she wasn't really worth the effort) and I was left alone because of my own stupid choices. So it becomes a matter of either lowering my standards (forget it) or keep looking for Ms. Right.... It'll be an interesting challenge one way or another.

I think it's time to pursue the people I really want in life and not worry about the consequences.

Pursuit of happiness is also a hit. I think that it's about time to stop lying to myself and to those around me in terms of relationships. Either accept the fact that you don't want to or don't know how to engage in a relationship without being afraid and/or self destructive about it or really pursue a relationship and screw the consequences.

Friend issues seem to continue coming out of the woodwork lately. If it's not the friends I left behind in Chile then it's the ones I wish I could leave behind here in the US. Particularly when I moved up to Chico I reconnected with people whom I knew were trouble but who were the anchor I needed to settle in. There's been a lot of issues between the two of us and after the latest incident I was strongly encouraged to let go of the friendship but I stubbornly stuck by it. Let's say that later events proved me wrong. Anyone who uses his fiance to protect him from unpleasant stuff from friends deserves to have neither. So be it.

Yeah, clinging to friendships even when you've been shown that they are not good and healthy for you is a definitive miss and one that I'm definitely not making again.

I think I let anger the best part of me over the past few months. I am not ashamed of the results as I think they are long overdue. I'm also not sad or angry that this whole mess is unfair to Laura... I tried to address my problems as they happened but it didn't work. I've said it elsewhere that now it's time for me to take care of me and what I need rather than let other people be the driving force in my professional life.

I am long past caring about the potential problems that a more confrontational attitude may cause. As strange as it may seem I am also looking for the performance review next week... I have said a lot of what was on my mind but now also feel ready to take it that little extra mile and let people know more of it .

I always have to stop myself when starting to confront someone. Until now I have never been able to be 100% sure that it wasn't me who had caused things to go haywire.  Now I am sure it wasn't me who started but who reacted to a very hostile situation in the best way I could.  It is validating when other people tell you of conflicts and you realize that you're not the only one who has problems with person x, it validates that my approach to try and solve the problem was correct and that I wasn't the source of the problem.

Although standing for yourself rated a hit, letting anger take over and not communicate the anger somehow is a definitive miss

The one thing I want to keep is my approach and perspective on things. Knowing that I'm not screwing things up in terms of my relationships with coworkers is very validating (said that before at least once :P) and invigorating. It doesn't make me any less pissed off than what I was on Friday or when I started writing this entry but it gives me focus to either ignore the issue or to actually go to war about it.... So far I've chosen the later but it might be an issue of just letting it slide and not worry about it anymore... for once let someone else deal with the problem issues around the office.

Meet the Boxer (I want one)

Puppy A Unique Breed

The Boxer wants to meet you, your children, and other members of your family
The Boxer's most notable characteristic is his desire for human affection. Though his spirited bearing, square jaw, and cleanly muscled body suggest the well-conditioned middleweight athlete of dogdom, the Boxer is happiest when he is with people--especially children, watching protectively over their play. His short smooth coat, handsome chiseled head, and striking silhouette never fail to excite comments from passersby as he trots jauntily by your side with neck arched and tail held erect. He is truly a "dog for all seasons," suiting the need for household guardian, attractive companion, and children's playmate and loyal friend.

Origin: The Hunter
The Boxer's historical background begins in feudal Germany. Here, a small, courageous hunting dog with mastiff-type head and undershot bite was used to secure a tenacious hold on bull, boar, or bear--- pending the hunter's arrival. He became a utility dog for peasants and shop owners. His easy trainability even found him performing in the circus. In the 1880s, descendants of this type of dog were bred to a taller, more elegant English import, and the era of the modern Boxer had begun. Imported to America after the first World War, his popularity really began in the late 1930s. His appeal in the show ring led to four "Best in Show" awards at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club between 1947 and 1970.

Physical Appearance
The Boxer is a medium-sized dog ranging from 21 1/2 inches high at the shoulder in a smaller female up to 25 inches (sometimes taller) in a large male. Adult weight may reach 65-80 pounds in the male, with females about 15 pounds less. There are no miniature or giant varieties. The short, close-lying coat is found in two equally acceptable and attractive basic colors-fawn and brindle. The fawn may vary from a tawny tan to a beautiful stag red. The brindle ranges from sparse, but clearly defined black stripes on a fawn background, to such a heavy concentration of black striping that the essential fawn background color barely, although clearly, shows through (which may create the appearance of "reverse brindling").

White markings should be of such distribution as to enhance the dog's appearance, but may not exceed one-third of the entire coat. It is not uncommon to have a totally white Boxer born in a litter. An all-white coat, or a predominantly white background (known as a "check") may occur. In order to retain the beauty of the fawn and brindle colors, American Boxer Club members are pledged not to use white boxers for breeding. They may be AKC registered on the Limited (non breeding) option, and they are eligible for all performance events (Obedience, Agility, Rally, etc).

Breed Characteristics: "Beauty and Brains"
The Boxer's official classification in the "Working Group" of dogs is a natural. His keenest sense, that of hearing, makes him an instinctive guard dog, always alert. Although always vigilant, the Boxer is not a nervous breed, and will not bark without cause. He has judgment, and an uncanny sense of distinguishing between friend and intruder. One of the delightful qualities that sets the Boxer apart is the unique expressiveness of his face. The skin furrowing of the forehead, the dark, "soulful" eyes, and at times almost human attempts to "converse," make his replacement by another breed difficult for one who has owned a Boxer. He mimics the mood of his master and can spend hours quietly lying at his feet.

Finding Your Puppy
Buying From the Breeder
The conscientious breeder plans a breeding to reproduce the best characteristics of an outstanding sire or dam. His guide is the official AKC Standard of the breed---the written "blueprint" that helps keep the breed uniform for generations to come. (You can find the breed standard, revised in 2005, at the American Boxer Club web site: The more common disappointments for pet purchasers come from commercial sources--especially pet shops that often buy puppies from the infamous "puppy mills" that take little notice of the quality or health they are producing. The pet store or dog broker will sell you a puppy with a breeder’s name attached to the paperwork—but this puppy may easily have been born in a puppy mill. His sire and/or dam are nowhere on the premises. The reputable breeder, on the other hand, will not only be able to demonstrate the pedigree and registration papers, but will also show you either the sire or dam themselves, or pictures of the parent who may be owned elsewhere. Though the mere presence of "papers" does not guarantee good health, conformation, or temperament, you will most often find these attributes in the puppy who has been raised with loving care in the home or kennel of a conscientious hobby breeder.

The serious breeder often strives to produce a potential "champion." Since not all in the litter can quite reach this goal, the breeder will able to offer you a good-looking brother or sister of the show prospect at a reasonable price. Sometimes the distribution of white markings alone may make the difference between the so-called "pet" and show-potential puppy. The pet puppy will have benefited from the same proven bloodlines, nutrition, and medical care as its "champion" littermate. His breeder will have health tested the parents and done the best he can to insure good temperament, soundness, and longevity. Here is your best buy.

Your local dog show is a good source---and is one of the purposes of such shows. Boxer magazines publish ads from breeders. The American Boxer Club web site ( can direct you to breeders across the country.

At What Age Should I Buy My Puppy?
Usually any time after 7-8 weeks. Many states have regulations regarding minimum age. However, your individual circumstances must be considered. Do you have the time to spend with a very young puppy? Will someone be home to housebreak him? Would an exuberant 6-month old puppy overwhelm a tiny child? Or would he be better matched with a 6-year-old youngster? Remember too that the puppy under 3 months needs lots of time to rest. Don’t forget that adult dogs, already trained, also make ideal pets.

While much can be told at six to eight weeks about the puppy's eventual looks, if you are seeking a show prospect you might be better off waiting until the pup is six to eight months of age. At that time, be prepared to pay a higher price for all the additional time and effort that the breeder has spent raising the show
potential Boxer.

Male or Female?
This choice is a matter of personal preference. Both males and females make admirable pets. Breeding is a serious committment of time, energy, and money, and not to be taken lightly. If breeding is not anticipated, it may be appropriate to spay or neuter your dog. This procedure is best done as your Boxer approaches adolescence. Please be aware that these surgeries should be discussed with your veterinarian as to safety of anesthesia and any long term effects other than sterilization. Spayed and neutered animals are not eligible to compete in the conformation ring but may be shown in performance events.

Check this list!

  1. Tails should have been docked within a few days of birth.
  2. Optional removal of front dewclaws (fifth toes) is done at the same time. The Boxer has no rear dewclaws.
  3. Ear cropping is customary and appropriate but not required—it is a matter of personal preference. Uncropped ears are permitted under the breed standard. If cropped, this procedure is done under general anesthesia, usually between six and nine weeks of age. If the puppy is taken before cropping, the breeder usually makes arrangements. The breeder also advises regarding aftercare and taping if ears are not already standing. Sometimes this is a lengthy process.
  4. In the male, both testicles should be descended into the scrotum. They should be in place by two to three months of age. A dog with undescended testicles may still make a fine pet, though he would be ineligible to compete in the conformation show ring. Consult your veterinarian for advice.
  5. Avoid the unusually quiet, inactive puppy, or the one that might shy away from you. This might mean a fault in temperament or even ill health.
  6. Papers the Seller Should Furnish:

    a. A three or four generation pedigree signed by the seller. There should be no extra charge for this. The pedigree preferably gives the color of the sire and dam, and the AKC registration numbers of each.

    b. The registration from the AKC, which is an official document identifying your puppy's individual registration number, sex, birth date, sire and dam, and name of the breeder(s). There are two ways to register puppies for the first time:

    (1) Limited Registration
    If the puppy is not to be bred, and is being purchased only as a companion pet, the breeder may check off the Limited Registration option. This does register the puppy with the AKC. However, it does not allow any registration of offspring from the mature dog. The breeder (and only the breeder) can cancel the limited registration should the puppy at maturity be considered of breeding quality.

    (2) Full Registration
    If the puppy is considered to be of breeding quality, the seller will check off the full registration option.

  7. Records the Breeder Should Furnish:

    a. Date and type of vaccines given. Depending on the type of vaccination program started, your veterinarian will advise you on following through. Vaccination protocols are evolving even among the medical professionals.

    b. Date and agent used for worming, if done. Do not worm your puppy without consulting your veterinarian. Avoid store-bought preparations which can be dangerous.

    c. Diet your puppy has been receiving. It is well to maintain the regimen begun by the breeder, especially while the puppy is adjusting to his new home. If changes are to be made. do so very gradually, so as not to upset his system. When he is an adult it will be wise to maintain your Boxer on two smaller meals a day.

What About Obedience, Rally, or Agility Training?
Many Boxers are great successes in performance events. However, that same innate intelligence that makes him quick to learn also gives the Boxer a mind of his own. The trainer must be purposeful and patient. The well-trained Boxer is a glorious picture going through his paces in the Obedience ring, or joyously rushing through the Rally or Agility course, such trials usually being held in conjunction with dog shows. You will quickly find that your Boxer has quite a sense of humor, and may invent the most unexpected games in the course of his training and performance. Occasionally, Boxers are successful in Lure Coursing, Tracking, and other performance pursuits.

Boxers make wonderful service dogs—therapy dogs to brighten the days of shut-ins, guides for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, even seizure alert dogs for those who suffer from epilepsy. They were used as guards and couriers during war time, and perform beautifully as narcotics detectors, police dogs, and in search and rescue operations. The Boxer has an innate desire to help those in need.

Should he be confined?
The Boxer requires relatively little care, but ownership of any dog is a definite responsibility. Your Boxer should NOT be allowed to run loose. Exercise within a fenced area or on a leash should be adequate. It also prevents a potentially unpleasant encounter with a neighbor's dog or an overly effusive greeting that may frighten the small child who may not have had the chance to know how instinctively tolerant the Boxer really is. Death from automobiles, poison, or many other causes may await the Boxer who runs loose in the neighborhood. Remember, too, that improperly protected screen doors are a common mode of unexpected house exit. So-called invisible fencing is fine, but while it may keep your own dog in his yard, it will not keep other dogs out—which can be a problem in the case of overly aggressive visitors. It is also a sad but true fact of life that your Boxer may easily be confused by many with the much maligned Pit Bull, often with tragic consequences for the Boxer. You must be your dog’s best advocate and protector—a strong leash and a good fence are musts for the conscientious Boxer owner.

What about a crate?
A crate is an invaluable asset to your puppy's training and well-being. It is not a prison. A crate is a safe haven for the puppy when his owners go to work or the store, a place where his owners don't have to worry about his chewing of electrical cords or furniture. Be sure that the crate does not allow your boxer to slip his head through any wire mesh, as he may not be able to retract it. Since a puppy is loathe to soil his crate, it is a great aid in housetraining. If you leave the crate door open, you will find that the puppy will probably enter the crate voluntarily when he wants to rest. Be sure to put the crate in a warm place. The Boxer is sensitive to temperature extremes and does not enjoy drafts, summer heat, or cold. He should not be kept outdoors, but inside the house as a cherished member of the family.

Collar Considerations
Collars are always appropriate when going for a walk with the owner. However, be aware that your Boxer should not have any collar left on him when he is unattended. Even simple buckle collars can and do get caught on the most unexpected objects. They can also be twisted in the jaws of any p
layful doggy companion, with the potential for choking a very real danger. As a conscientious owner, you must beware.

How Much Grooming?
The Boxer requires very little grooming, and it can easily be done by the owner. Nails must be trimmed regularly unless naturally worn down on a hard surface. An occasional currycombing and/or bath should suffice---the Boxer has a natural tendency to keep himself clean. His neat and tidy coat does not unduly attract dirt. Tartar may have to be removed from the teeth periodically, especially as the Boxer grows older. You can learn to clean the teeth yourself, or use the services of your veterinarian.

You will want to consult with your veterinarian as to the most current vaccination protocols for your Boxer. Some practitioners are recommending fewer so-called ‘booster’ shots than were formerly commonplace. You will also need to comply with your state laws regarding Rabies vaccinations. It is wise NOT to give multiple vaccinations on the same day, but to space them a few weeks apart so as not to challenge your Boxer’s immune system unnecessarily.

Heartworm Prevention
Heartworm has unfortunately become rather commonplace throughout the USA. You will need to protect your Boxer from acquiring this parasitic disease, spread by the bite of the simple mosquito. Once-a-month preparations are available, as well as the daily pill (now being manufactured by private labs). Beware that there can be serious side effects from any such medication: consult your veterinarian.

The Ubiquitous Flea
The annoying, persistent and fast-multiplying flea is a bloodsucking insect. It carries disease and acts as an intermediate host to the tapeworm.

There are no easy solutions to controlling fleas. In addition to the dog, his environment must be treated. But remember, almost all flea products contain certain toxic chemicals and must be used with caution. So-called natural preparations may be equally toxic. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice, and pay particular attention to the safety of treatments for young puppies and adults alike.

Despite a breeder’s best efforts, Boxers do sometimes suffer from conditions to which the breed seems to be predisposed. In many instances, diagnosis and treatment will effect a cure or symptomatic relief.

Like many breeds of dogs, Boxers are subject to heart ailments. These include congenital anomalies as well as acquired disease later in life. Boxer heart disease usually falls into two important categories: aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy.

Aortic Stenosis
This is a congenital condition, a narrowing or constriction of the outflow tract from the left ventricle to the aorta. It can be detected as a systolic murmur by your veterinarian in young puppies and older dogs. Sometimes the murmur will not show up until the dog reaches enough physical size for the constriction to become evident.

This murmur must be distinguished from other types of murmurs, often so-called innocent flow murmurs that disappear as the puppy grows. There is no practical surgical treatment, and if the condition results in arrhythmias, antiarrhythmic therapy is usually instituted. Mild forms of the anomaly may go undetected and are not incompatible with a normal life span.

Cardiomyopathy is an electrical-conduction disturbance (sometimes referred to as ARVC--Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy), a condition of the heart muscle itself causing abnormal electrical impulses to disrupt the heart’s normal rhythm. This arrhythmia may lead to sudden death or heart failure. Symptoms include weakness and/or collapse. Arrhythmias can be brought on by certain poisons, infections (notably parvovirus), severe uremia, diabetes, and heatstroke. However, in Boxers they most often occur due to no known cause. Heredity undoubtedly plays a key role. Boxer breeders around the world are frustrated that there is at present no way to diagnose the propensity for this condition in asymptomatic dogs. A 24 hour Holter monitor, recording the heart’s activity for this period of time, may be needed to diagnose potentially life threatening arrhythmias.

Boxers are at risk for a variety of cancers. These include benign and malignant skin lesions as well as cancers affecting the brain,,thyroid, mammary glands, testes, heart, spleen, blood, lymph system (lymphoma), and other organs. Benign skin tumors usually respond to simple surgical excision under local anesthesia.

Malignancies require treatment specific to the cancer itself, and vary widely. As in humans with cancers, dogs are treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation. Great advancements have been made in treatment protocols and survival times, but there is no way to predict whether your Boxer will develop cancer in his lifetime. It is prudent to be alert to any unusual growths or medical developments, especially as your Boxer ages. Consult with your veterinarian immediately if you notice anything suspicious. Early detection is important to long term survival.

Of recent years, incidences of Degenerative Myelopathy have been widely reported in Boxers of middle and advanced age. DM is a neurological disease affecting the spinal cord and nerves coordinating the rear quarters. Over time, dogs lose the ability to walk, become incontinent, and are most often euthanized at this point. DM is a sad disease in that the patient remains mentally alert; there is no pain; and yet, keeping such an animal happy poses special challenges There are custom carts designed to allow some patients to regain a degree of mobility. Research suggests that certain medications and herbal supplements may retard the progression of the disease.

Hip Dysplasia is a developmental disease of the hip joint that affects many breeds of dogs. The head of the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum (hip socket) become incompatible; the joint weakens and loses proper function. Reluctance to engage in strenuous physical activity, lameness and pain are all possible signs of dysplasia, usually manifested between the ages of 4 months to 1 year.

X-rays are definitively diagnostic and will show evidence of abnormal joint laxity. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms of pain and includes drug therapy and/or surgery. Hip dysplasia is thought to be hereditary, but other factors such as diet and conditioning cannot be ruled out. Dogs older than 2 years can have their x-rays evaluated and may be registered free of the disease
by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) in Columbia, Missouri (

This condition may be caused by thyroid tumors or a primary malfunction of the thyroid itself. The deficient thyroid may have an effect on many organ systems, including the heart. Symptoms may include excessive hair thinning, obesity, anemia, infertility, and lethargy. Diagnosis is confirmed by a complete thyroid panel blood test. Oral doses of thyroid hormones will alleviate most symptoms and will probably need to be given for the duration of the dog’s life. Luckily, thyroid therapy is relatively inexpensive and effective.

Remember, many Boxers can and do live long and healthy lives. Nonetheless, it is important for owners to be alert to ills that may befall their beloved pets, so as to institute treatment as soon as possible and/or wise. Your veterinarian is your best ally, and it is important to choose a practitioner that has a good knowledge of any breed-specific ailments that may be encountered.

The American Boxer Club
A member of the American Kennel Club, the American Boxer Club was founded in 1935 and is the parent organization of nearly sixty regional clubs throughout the United States. Individuals belonging to these clubs are dedicated to preserving the desirable qualities of the Boxer as set forth in the breed Standard. Your local club may be found through the ABC Website or by contacting the secretary of the American Boxer Club whose name and address may also be found at this same URL:

The American Boxer Club Charitable Foundation
Begun in 1995, the non-profit ABCF is dedicated to the health and welfare of the breed. To that end, it seeks donations for educational and medical research projects to benefit the Boxer. Approved research grants are eligible for matching funds from the AKC Canine Health Foundation. To date, the American Boxer Club is the largest single breed contributor to the AKC’s CHF. To donate, and/or learn more, go to

Despite our best efforts, some Boxers do not fall into good hands and end up in need of Rescue. Volunteers all over the USA are organized at the local level to take in those unfortunate dogs that need special care and placement. Sometimes, the Rescue organization spells the difference between another chance at a good life and euthanasia at a shelter. If you know a dog in need of Rescue, have one to surrender, or want to adopt, go to the American Boxer Club web site at Follow the links to Boxer Resources, and Rescue in your area.

Staying in Touch
It is very advisable to maintain a relationship with your puppy's breeder. The breeder can be an invaluable friend to you throughout your Boxer's life, and can advise you about care and health matters that are unique to the breed.

Bringing a puppy or even an older dog into your home and your life is a major decision. It brings with it responsibility and commitment, but it also renders supreme joy, laughter, and sadly, but inevitably, tears. No one of us who has ever shared his life with a Boxer would have it any other way.

     The Boxer Review -
     The Boxer Ring -
     The American Kennel Club Gazette -

     Abraham, Stephanie - The Boxer: Family Favorite (2000)
     Abraham, Stephanie- Boxer—An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet (1996)
     Beauchamp, Richard - Boxers for Dummies (2000)
     McFadden, Billie - The New Boxer (1989)
     Tomita, Richard - The New Owner’s Guide to Boxers (1996)
     Tomita, Richard - World of the Boxer (1998)

Web Sites
     American Boxer Club -
     American Boxer Charitable Foundation -
     American Boxer Club Reference List -
     American Kennel Club -
     American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation -
     Boxer Underground -
     Rescue -
         Follow the links to Rescue in your area.

© Copyright 2006 American Boxer Club, Inc.

Welcome to Cyberwar Country, USA



By Marty Graham Email 02.11.08 | 12:00 AM

At least 15 locations around the United States are competing for the Air Force's new Cyber Command, the 10th major command in Air Force history.

Rob Beschizza

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, Louisiana -- When a reporter enters the Air Force office of William Lord, a smile comes quickly to the two-star general's face as he darts from behind his immaculate desk to shake hands. Then, as an afterthought, he steps back and shuts his laptop as though holstering a sidearm.

Lord, boyish and enthusiastic, is a new kind of Air Force warrior -- the provisional chief of the service's first new major command since the early 1990s, the Cyber Command. With thousands of posts and enough bandwidth to choke a horse, the Cyber Command is dedicated to the proposition that the next war will be fought in the electromagnetic spectrum, and that computers are military weapons. In a windowless building across the base, Lord's cyber warriors are already perched 24 hours a day before banks of monitors, scanning Air Force networks for signs of hostile incursion.

"We have to change the way we think about warriors of the future," Lord enthuses, raising his jaw while a B-52 traces the sky outside his windows. "So if they can't run three miles with a pack on their backs but they can shut down a SCADA system, we need to have a culture where they fit in."

Maj. Gen. William Lord is provisional commander of the Air Force's new Cyber Command.

Courtesy U.S. Air Force

But before Lord and his geek warriors can settle in for the wars of the future, the general has to survive a battle of a decidedly different nature: a political and cultural tug of war over where the Cyber Command will set up its permanent headquarters. And that, for Lord and the Air Force, is where things get trickier than a Chinese Trojan horse.

With billions of dollars in contracts and millions in local spending on the line, 15 military towns from Hampton, Virginia, to Yuba City, California, are vying to win the Cyber Command, throwing in offers of land, academic and research tie-ins, and, in one case, an $11 million building with a moat. At a time when Cold War-era commands laden with aging aircraft are shriveling, the nascent Cyber Command is universally seen as a future-proof bet for expansion, in an era etched with portents of cyberwar.

Russian Hackers and Chinese Cyberspies

The news is everywhere. When Russian hackers were blamed for a wave of denial-of-service attacks against Estonian websites last spring, President Bush voiced concern that the United States would face the same risk. The national intelligence director, Michael McConnell, recently claimed a computer attack against a single U.S. bank could cause more economic harm than 9/11, and called for more National Security Agency surveillance of the internet. A CIA official followed up with a tale about cyber attackers causing multi-city power failures overseas. Some in the military believe Chinese cyberspies have already penetrated unclassified Pentagon computers.

Where buzz flows, money follows, and the investment in info-war comes as the Air Force cuts back personnel elsewhere to fund new aircraft: The service just finished phasing out 20,000 enlisted men and women, with plans to dump 20,000 more by 2011. The effect of military cutbacks on the surrounding communities can be devastating. "If you gain or lose a unit in a place where the military is already a major employer, it has a huge impact," says Chris Erickson, a New Mexico State University professor.

Unofficial estimates say 10,000 military and ancillary jobs could clump around the 500 posts at the Cyber Command's permanent headquarters. The governors of California, New Mexico and Louisiana are pitching their locales directly to the secretary of the Air Force. In December, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal took advantage of a meeting with President Bush on Katrina recovery to lobby for the Cyber Command. A dozen congressional delegations have weighed in as well. Lord is feeling the heat.

"Oh Lord," the general sighs, "there's congressional pressure."

Location, Location, Location

"It would sure be nice to have it here," says Tammy Frank, manager of the Waffle House in Bossier, Louisiana, outside Barksdale's gates. She pushes her hair behind her ears and leans on the cash register. "My (preteen) son is into computers, and it will be easier for him to find a good job and stay here."

The Cyber Command was provisionally established on Barksdale's 22,000 acres in October, at the edge of a black lake stitched with swamp trees that narrow just above the water line. The placement was good news for Bossier, which took it as a sign that Louisiana would win the permanent command, too.

A military town for generations, this sprawling suburb-opolis has about 58,000 residents, including 7,000 active-duty and reserve personnel. Across the Red River in Shreveport, downtown buildings are crumbling and half-abandoned -- but Bossier is thriving. Now realtors are touting proximity to the Cyber Command as a selling point for houses, while local residents hope permanent placement will boost the local economy, and perhaps even infuse the town with high-tech esprit.

The planned Cyber Innovation Center will be designed to withstand a variety of attacks.

Architects Mark Prevot and Mike McSwain/Courtesy Cyber Innovation Center

Development head Craig Spohn stands on the 64-acre site of the Cyber Innovation Center, future home to defense contractors, cyber innovators and academia, adjacent to Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier, Louisiana.

Marty Graham/

To persuade the Air Force of Bossier's potential as a Deep South Silicon Valley, city officials broke ground last month on a "Cyber Innovation Center," a $100 million office complex abutting Barksdale. The consortium paid $4.7 million for a 64-acre parcel, and they've raised $50 million from state and local government and another $50 million from the federal government for a complex of buildings, starting with an $11 million, 120,000-square-foot cyberfortress. Renderings show a moat and huge, silvery wedges of metal jutting outward from the building's base. There's a jet in the design, pointed toward the sky.

Built-In Force Protection

"The building has force protection designed into it," says Craig Spohn, who's heading the development. "It can withstand a multitude of attacks."

Spohn ambles with a limp across a newly cleared patch of an old pecan grove that will house the gleaming redoubt. The trees remaining on the land are leafless in the bright winter haze, and a B-52 floats through the sky beyond, headed for the strip at Barksdale. The sight of the 47-year old planes coming and going is so common here that only out-of-town visitors and aviation enthusiasts still stare at them

Spohn follows it with his eyes. A lanky, gray-haired man in a nice suit, Spohn came back to work directly from arthroscopic knee surgery, and shows off fresh stitches in three holes on his left knee. He has personal reasons for wanting to win the Cyber Command. "My dad is retired Air Force," he says. "I moved wet and warm to Barksdale, and I love it here. There were no jobs for me when I left. And I eventually returned with a job working for SAIC.

"There are a lot of us who want to come back," he adds.

"Tell the Nation That the Age of Cyberwarfare Is Here"

The Cyber Command is rooted in a historic vision statement penned in 2005 by the secretary of the Air Force, Michael Wynne, and co-signed by the Air Force chief of staff. In the 21st century, Wynne wrote, America's enemies would contest America in a new range of theaters, and the armed forces must be ready to meet them and, if necessary, "destroy them" there. Henceforth, he vowed, the Air Force would "fly and fight in air, space and cyberspace."

"Tell the nation," Wynne reiterated in a speech last September, "that the age of cyberwarfare is here."

"Our mission is to control cyberspace both for attacks and defense," says Lord's boss, Lt. Gen. Robert Elder -- a three-star general who totes a Blackberry and holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Wearing a green flight suit with no brass, bars or Bronze Star in sight, Elder relaxes in a leather chair away from his desk, and lays out the vision, which amounts to nothing less than a complete transformation of the Air Force.

"We have to learn to plan years out for operations, security defense and integration, to plan how to deter attacks, how to posture to prevent attacks, and we have to stay very current," Elder says.

The Air Force Network Operations Center at Barksdale Air Force Base is known as AFNOC to the cyber warriors who work here.

Courtesy: U.S. Air Force

The new command, only the 10th in Air Force history, means a single leadership for a number of pieces already in place under different wings. Cyber warriors are already being trained at Hurlburt Air Force Base in Florida, while Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio holds the defense portion. Predator reconnaissance UAVs are flown out of Nevada, and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska has a cluster of information and intelligence wings.

No one knows how many people will ultimately be incorporated into the Cyber Command. The Air Force's other nine commands range in size from slightly over 14,000 personnel in the Special Ops Command to 167,000 in the Air Combat Command. A recent Network World article, quoting Elder, reports the Cyber Command will have 5,000 to 10,000 people. But the Air Force now disavows that number, confirming only that about 500 airmen and airwomen will be stationed at the Cyber Command headquarters itself.

Unified Command, Single Commander

The important thing, the Air Force says, is that under a unified command, decisions about how to use all the pieces -- and control of the budget, more than $2 billion the first year -- will be in the hands of a single commander instead of being spread out as they are now.

"It makes us nimble," says Elder. "It means we can react quickly to change." But, he cautions, there's no plan to consolidate all those pieces in one location. Such a move would run counter to Air Force policies of decentralized commands.

The Air Force's new Cyber Command already has an official seal.

Courtesy: U.S. Air Force

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the reorganization. Defense expert John Pike, director of, says the Cyber Command's mission is murky. "There's been so much gee-whiz flackery to this," Pike says. "They've got the whole thing tarted up, and it's hard to tell what they're actually doing."

Pike says the Cyber Command may be part of a secret Air Force plan to prepare for war against China, already suspected of trying to hack Department of Defense networks. He says the new command's defensive mission is muddled and duplicative: The NSA already defends military networks. As for civilian infrastructures like the internet and power grid, they're privately owned, and the Air Force has no jurisdiction over them.

Lord concedes that the Air Force can't do much on its own to protect civilian systems. "We're worrying about the ability of someone to interrupt Wall Street and crash the economy," he says. "We're having a hard time getting Wall Street to work with us."

On the offensive side, though, everything is on the table, from jamming an enemy's radar to infiltrating its command-and-control networks. Someday, the Cyber Command may be able to hack an enemy's security and radar systems, improving the chances of bombs hitting home.

"It's the entire electromagnetic spectrum," says Lord. "Many of the elements that form (Cyber Command) come from our communications and intel operations. The internet is obviously part, but it also includes things like cellphone frequencies, high-power microwaves and directed-energy components.

"What if we could spoof the enemy, to get them to operate on a set of assumptions by altering their data?" Lord asks. "We talk about being able to change the enemy's behavior without a kinetic application. Weapons of mass disruption."

Cold War Sites Compete for the Code War

When the Cyber Command was formally announced in September, the competition began immediately. Rural Yuba City, California -- the home of Beale Air Force Base -- rounded up 53 signatures from the state's congressional delegation, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to try to plant the Cyber Command on California's fertile soil. In a newspaper interview, community leader Ron Bartoli touted Yuba's access to Silicon Valley, which lies about 170 miles away, and argued that cyberwarfare is consistent with Golden State values. "It's computers, it's green, it's everything California says they want."

The Cheyenne Mountain complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado -- once the home of NORAD -- is now a candidate to house the headquarters of Cyber Command.

Courtesy: U.S. Air Force

Eight hundred miles away in San Antonio, U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) was explaining the high-tech acumen of his community. "The robust cyber-security research community in San Antonio has transformed the Alamo City into a national leader on the subject," he said in a statement. In the Rockies, Colorado Springs came late to the party, but offered the coolest location: inside Cheyenne Mountain, which once served as headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), but is now used mostly for training.

In the heartland, architecture students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln held an exhibition to come up with potential building designs for the Cyber Command, producing 13 detailed drawings resembling bunkers, platforms and a burnished black wedge. "I believe the ... proposals may play a provocative role in the future planning of such a free-standing facility," architecture professor Chris Ford said in a press release.

Nebraska has long held a unique post in America's defensive footing, and it's moun
ting a particularly hungry bid for the Cyber Command. In 1948, Offutt Air Force Base was selected for the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command, the linchpin of America's nuclear strategy. Square in the middle of the North American continent, the site was out of reach of existing bombers and missiles.

Architecture students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln produced 13 concepts for the Cyber Command headquarters. This one is by Burt Jamison.

Courtesy: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Now called the U.S. Strategic Command, the drab, concrete headquarters building still anchors Offutt to the nuclear era, with three above-ground floors and four more underground housing a 14,000-square-foot command center that directs all U.S. nuclear forces. It's designed with its own power generator and food supply, so it can be sealed off in the event of a nuclear attack.

Comparisons between nuclear and cyberweapons might seem strained, but there's at least one commonality. Scholars exploring the ethics of wielding logic bombs, Trojan horses, worms and bots in wartime often find themselves treading on ground tilled by an earlier generation of Cold War nuclear gamesmen.

"There are lots of unknowns with a cyberattack," says Neil Rowe, a professor at the Center for Information Security Research at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, who rejects cyberattacks as a legitimate tool of war. "The potential for collateral damage is worse than nuclear technology.... With cyber, it can spread through the civilian infrastructure and affect far more civilians."

No Geographic Edge

But ethical concerns aren't weighing down the rainmakers wooing the Cyber Command; they're more concerned with local families and future investment. And without the geographic edge that landed the Strategic Air Command in their backyard a half-century ago, community leaders in Omaha and nearby Bellevue are finding new ways to tempt the decision makers in Washington.

"We've offered a package that includes land, facilities, and a demographic of strong academics and industrial consortium," says Megan Lucas, president of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. "We have the infrastructure, dual power grids and dark fiber."

Lucas is a key organizer in the region's yearlong campaign to land the Cyber Command at Offutt. Smart and straightforward, Lucas is so well-known among Offutt staff that they keep track of her schedule, and when the previous base commander, then-Brig. Gen. T. C. Jones, left Offutt, he designated her his honorary wingman. A photo of Lucas in her black-leather bomber jacket hangs outside the headquarters office.

Lucas and other local leaders persuaded the Omaha Development Foundation to put together a purchase of 136 acres of snow-crunched land immediately south of the base for expansion. Bellevue's entire economic engine and its community are wrapped around Offutt, she says. Nearly half the people in the town of 49,000 are active-duty or retired military.

Talk of the Cyber Command has gotten around in Bellevue. In the lounge at the Leopard Lanes bowling alley, a Desert Storm veteran named Jim Chappell runs the karaoke machine on weekends. He says he's heard about the competition. "Maybe Offutt will get it, they're wired for it," he says, lighting a cigarette with his father's Zippo. "That's how dealing with the government is. You have to spend money to attract it. But there's plenty of money and work here either way.

"It's all political, where they decide to put it," says Lucas. "We're clearly the best situated and equipped. But that doesn't mean we'll get it."

"We Are Our Own Worst Enemy"

The underground "big board" at the Strategic Air Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, dates back to 1957 or so. Offutt is another candidate for the new Cyber Command headquarters, which uses giant monitors for its big board.

Courtesy: Air Force Historical Research Agency/

Inside the Air Force Network Operations Center at Barksdale, a tan, windowless building in the northwest corner of the base, the cyberwar is in full pitch. But the internet jihadists and Chinese hacker troops the Cyber Command is expecting so far haven't materialized. Spammers are the enemy today.

Airmen and women sit at rows of computer tables staring at Dell-branded LCD monitors. On one wall, a huge screen is slashed into quadrants with maps and coordinates, while in the next room, more personnel watch a similar display showing sports and news channels.

"Because you're here, we've put this up instead of the classified information that was up there," Lt. Col. Ken Vantiger says. "As soon as you leave, we'll go back to classified operations.

Capt. Scott Hinck, crew commander at the center, works the defensive side of the room, monitoring what's being done at Barksdale, and what's coming in from Lackland. He says it's pretty clear where their greatest vulnerability lies. "We are our own worst enemy," Hinck says. "Our network connects more than a million Air Force users, and you can only do so much to secure your software."

Air Force users are forbidden, both by direct order and by a government firewall, from using Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and dozens of other sites, Hinck says. "Social network sites are such a security liability, not just for attacks, but for the information people post about themselves.... We have direct evidence (correlating) the release of information to responsive attacks and changes in the enemy's strategies."

Even with the restrictions, Air Force network users still get plenty of attacks from phishers, malicious e-mail and hostile "Click Here" links, Hinck says. "We fended off eight attacks in the last hour."

Hoping For Too Much?

It's a heady time for the Cyber Command. The Air Force just graduated its first group of electronic warriors in December from a 38-day training program at Hurlburt Air Force Base in Florida. The graduates came from both officer and enlisted ranks, according to 1st Lt. Ashley Connor, a spokeswoman with the base.

Cyber warriors first train with the 229th Information Operations Squadron in Vermont, then come to Hurlburt for further training with the 39th Information Operations Squadron. Hurlburt expects to graduate about a hundred warriors a year, Connor says.

With the troops arriving, Lord has a tight deadline to get the new command headquarters running at its permanent location by October 2008, with the operation fully established by 2009. The short list of top contenders for the Cyber Command is expected from the secretary of the Air Force in February, and the Air Force brass is watching the heated battle with a mix of awe and dismay.

Louisiana politicians, including Governor Bobby Jindal and both U.S. senators, break ground on the Cyber Innovation Center in late January.

Neil Johnson/Courtesy Cyber Innovation Center

"All the locations came forward on their own," says Ed Gulick, spokesman for the secretary of the Air Force. "The Air Force has not solicited them."

Lord's boss, Elder, says he appreciates the efforts of the communities competing for the command, but he's concerned that they're expecting too much from it. "This will be a good deal for the community where it is set up," he says. "It will attract contractor presence. But not an ind
ustry -- manufacturing jobs."

"I worry that they are looking at this as the opposite of BRAC," Elder adds, referring to the Base Realignment and Closure process that's mostly shrinking bases and chipping into base-reliant communities. "It's not going to be on that scale."

Windfall or not, Barksdale-booster Spohn is confident that his community will prevail in the ersatz cyberwar. He even has plans to build an additional 380,000 square feet of offices to house educational, research and manufacturing operations near the base. While everyone is taciturn publicly, he's convinced he's seen winks and nods from Air Force bigwigs.

"In as many ways as they can tell us they're committed, they've told us," Spohn says. Lapsing into military-speak, he adds, "My confidence is high."

See Also:

California Farm Country Wants to Be Cyberwar Central

Air Force Cyber Command = Big Money

'Cyberwar' and Estonia's Panic Attack

Air Force Draws Weekend Cyber Warriors From Microsoft, Cisco

Never thought I'd see this happen

The New York Times



February 20, 2008

Fidel Castro Resigns as Cuba’s President


MEXICO CITY — Fidel Castro stepped down Tuesday morning as the president of Cuba after a long illness, ending one of the longest tenures as one of the most all-powerful communist heads of state in the world, according to Granma, the official publication of the Cuban Communist Party.

In late July 2006, Mr. Castro, who is 81, handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raúl Castro, 76, and a few younger cabinet ministers, after an acute infection in his colon forced him to undergo emergency surgery. Despite numerous surgeries, he has never fully recovered but has remained active in running government affairs from behind the scenes.

Now, just days before the national assembly is to meet to select a new head of state, Mr. Castro resigned permanently in a letter to the nation and signaled his willingness to let a younger generation assume power. He said his failing health made it impossible to return as president.

“I will not aspire to neither will I accept — I repeat I will not aspire to neither will I accept — the position of President of the Council of State and Commander in chief,” he wrote.

He added: “It would betray my conscience to occupy a responsibility that requires mobility and the total commitment that I am not in the physical condition to offer.”

President Bush, traveling in Rwanda on a tour of African nations, greeted the news by saying that the resignation should be the beginning a democratic transition in Cuba that would lead to free elections. “The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty,” he said.

Mr. Bush called for Cuba to release political prisoners and to begin building “institutions necessary for democracy that eventually will lead to free and fair elections.”

But the announcement puts Raúl Castro in position to be anointed as the Cuban head of state when the National Assembly meets on Sunday, cementing the power structure that has run the country since Mr. Castro fell ill.

However, Mr. Castro’s unexpected announcement left it unclear what role other high-level government ministers — among them the vice president, Carlos Lage Davila, and the foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque — would play in the new government.

Mr. Castro also made it clear he is not fading into the sunset but pledged to continue to be a force in Cuban politics through his writings, just as he has over the last year and a half. “I am not saying goodbye to you,” he wrote. “I only wish to fight as a soldier of ideas.”

That statement raised the possibility little would change after Sunday’s vote, that Cuba will continue to be ruled in essence by two presidents, with Raúl Castro on stage while Fidel Castro lurks in the wings. At times over the last year and a half, the current government has seemed paralyzed when the two men disagree. For his part, Mr. Castro has sent several signals in recent months that it was time for a younger generation to take the helm. He said in December, for example, “My primary duty is not to weld myself to offices, much less obstruct the path of younger people.”

In Tuesday’s letter, he expressed confidence that the country would be in goods hands with a government composed of elements of “the old guard” and “others who were very young when the first stage of the revolution began.”

Mr. Castro asserted he declined to step down earlier to avoid dealing a blow to the Cuba government before “the people” were ready for a traumatic change “in the middle of the battle” with the United States over control of the country’s future. “To prepare the people for my absence, psychologically and politically, was my first obligation after so many years of struggle,” he said.

The charismatic Cuban leader seized power in January 1959 after waging a guerrilla war against the then-dictator Fulgencio Batista, promising to restore the Cuban constitution and hold elections.

But he soon turned his back on those democratic ideals, embraced a totalitarian brand of communism and allied the island with the Soviet Union. He brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in the fall of 1962, when he allowed Russia to build missile launching sites just 90 miles off the American shores. He weathered an American-backed invasion and used Cuban troops to stir up revolutions in Africa and Latin America.

Those actions earned him the permanent enmity of Washington and led the United States to impose decades of economic sanctions that Mr. Castro and his followers maintain have crippled Cuba’s economy and have kept their socialist experiment from succeeding completely.

The sanctions also proved handy to Mr. Castro politically. He cast every problem Cuba faced as part of a larger struggle against the United States and blamed the abject poverty of the island on the “imperialists” to the north.

For good or ill, Mr. Castro is without a doubt the most important leader to emerge from Latin America since the wars of independence of the early 19th century, not only reshaping Cuban society but providing inspiration for leftists across Latin America and in other parts of the world.

His record has been a mix of great social achievements, but a dismal economic performance that has mired most Cubans in poverty. He succeeded in establishing universal health care, providing free education through college and largely rooting out racism.

But he never broke the island’s dependence on commodities like sugar, tobacco and nickel, nor did he succeed in industrializing the nation so that Cuba could compete in the world market with durable goods. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of its aid to the island, Cuba has limped along economically, relying mostly on tourism and money sent home from exiles to get hard currency.

Yet Mr. Castro’s willingness to stand up to the United States and break free of American influence, even if it meant allying Cuba with another superpower, has been an inspiration to many Latin Americans, among them the new crop of left-leaning heads of state like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil..

Though he never restored democracy and has ruled with absolute power, in the minds of many Latin Americans, he stood in stark contrast to right-wing dictators like the one he overthrew, who often put the interests of business leaders and the foreign policy goals of Washington above the interests of their poorest constituents.

Whether Mr. Castro’s remaking of Cuban society will survive the current transition remains to be seen. Some experts note Raúl Castro is more pragmatic and willing to admit mistakes than his brother. He has given signals he might try to follow the Chines
e example of state-sponsored capitalism.

Others predict that, without Fidel Castro’s charismatic leadership, the government will have to make fundamental changes to the economy or face a rising tide of unrest among rank-and-file Cubans.

Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.

One of the worst week ever @ Chico

One Little Victory
Rush (Vapor Trails)

A certain measure of innocence
Willing to appear naive
A certain degree of imagination
A measure of make-believe

A certain degree of surrender
To the forces of light and heat
A shot of satisfaction
In a willingness to risk defeat

Celebrate the moment
As it turns into one more
Another chance at victory
Another chance to score

The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory

A certain measure of righteousness
A certain amount of force
A certain degree of determination
Daring on a different course

A certain amount of resistance
To the forces of the light and love
A certain measure of tolerance
A willingness to rise above

As I sit here in my EDCI 601class I'm reflecting on this past 7 days and how wrong I was in what I thought was the world around me at work. I know what you're thinking... he's exaggerating and it wasn't anywhere near as bad as he's painting  it out to be... you may be right, in some areas it was ok, in some areas it was good but in some areas it wasn't only my worst week at Chico but one of my worst weeks ever at any job.

I've never liked performance reviews as a structured event. If feedback and review are going to be effective then it has to be ongoing and meaningful. I had to read my performance review about 5 times before I could go through it without getting upset and pissed off about it.  It not only paints my job in a different light but it also colors my perception of my (now former) supervisor in a way that I am really surprised.

In the end
Linkin Park (Hybrid Theory)

(It starts with)
One thing / I don’t know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind / I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know
time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away
It’s so unreal
Didn’t look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on / but didn’t even know
Wasted it all just to
Watch you go
I kept everything inside and even though I tried / it all fell apart
What it meant to me / will eventually / be a memory / of a time when I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
One thing / I don’t know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind / I designed this rhyme
To remind myself how
I tried so hard
In spite of the way you were mocking me
Acting like I was part of your property
Remembering all the times you fought with me
I’m surprised it got so (far)
Things aren’t the way they were before
You wouldn’t even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me
In the end
You kept everything inside and even though I tried / it all fell apart
What it meant to me / will eventually / be a memory / of a time when I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There’s only one thing you should know
I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There’s only one thing you should know
I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter

The second version of the performance evaluation was even more shocking than the initial one.  I don't know if they were things that I missed on the first review or stuff that was added in the revision.... but it almost made me quit, no questions asked, right there, right then

It hasn't all been bad... this whole fiasco has made me think hard as to what I am looking for and what I expect both as an employee and as a leader. Management styles change considerably from person to person and with them come the assumption that staff will change to fit the manager rather than meeting half way.

Pearl Harbor Post

There you'll be
Faith Hill (Pearl Harbor OST)

When I think back
On these times
And the dreams
We left behind
I'll be glad 'cause
I was blessed to get
To have you in my life
When I look back
On these days
I'll look and see your face
You were right there for me

In my dreams
I'll always see you soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There always be a place
For you for all my life
I'll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you'll be

Well you showed me
How it feels
To feel the sky
Within my reach
And I always
Will remember all
The strength you
Gave to me
Your love made me
Make it through
Oh, I owe so much to you
You were right there for me

[Repeat chorus]

'Cause I always saw in you
My light, my strength
And I want to thank you
Now for all the ways
You were right there for me
You were right there for me
For always

[Repeat chorus]

Evelyn: [voiceover] When the action is over and we look back, we understand both more and less. This much is certain. Before the Doolittle raid, America knew nothing but defeat. After it, there was hope of victory. Japan realized, for the first time, they could lose and began to pull back. America realized, that she would win and surged forward. It was a war, that changed America and the world. Dorie Miller was the first black American to be awarded the Navy Cross. But he would not be the last. He joined a brotherhood of heroes. World War II, for us, began at Pearl Harbor, and 1.177 men still lie entombed in the battleship Arizona. America suffered, but America grew stronger. It was not inevitable. The times tried our souls, and through the trial, we overcame.