Wednesday, August 10, 2011

YA Crush Final Round and Giveaways

Well it's here. I posted yesterday about the YA Crush Tournament, about Zach's surprising upset, and about #TeamKilt, pouring their blood, sweat and tears (okay, maybe not blood) into making him win. The reasons are many, but mostly it comes down to his advocates, and today there's a plethora of support pouring out for him and for them all over the place. Bloggers are posting their own takes on the tournament as well as their incentives for milestones across the competition. The link above will take you to one post that collects all of the links to the various giveaways.

Why do I think these girls (and of course, Jeri and Zach) deserve to win? Again, it's their dedication to the cause. Sleepless nights, non-stop and unwavering faith and cheerleading, the video they made, and of course the poem written to advocate Zach's case. Head to the Tournament and check them out. They're well worth it. Then, naturally, vote for Zach.

Today is so important. Jace has started with an early lead, but it's the closest race I've seen him in so far. #TeamKilt (the hashtag used on twitter to discuss the tourney as it relates to Zach's fans) saw this in Zach's last match against Tod. We started out behind and watched as most of the day the lead grew, shrank, then grew again to nearly 1000 votes. We never gave up, but none of us expected he would pull ahead and win in the end. Yet we did. At this point, we all know he can do it. Why? Because he's Zach. Because he has Amy and Jen of Fictitious Delicious advocating for him. But mostly, because he is backed by #TeamKilt.

Even the most diehard and seasoned of warriors need a reason to give and give, then get up and give some more. Those without the love of the character will also need something, some reason to give. So that's what we're here for. I'm going to tell you what you're getting.

If Zach hits 500 votes (okay that's happened, so this prize is already gone), I'll give 1 copy of PS I Love You to a randomly drawn winner.

Keeping with the Scottish theme (Yes I realize that in the above movie, the character was Irish, but the ACTOR is Scottish. And Hot.), if Zach reaches 1000 Votes, one lucky winner will get a copy of one of my favorite Scottish movies, Local Hero.

If Zach gets to 5000 votes, I will give someone a copy of one of my favorite YA Novels, Eyes Like Stars, and it's sequel, Perchance to Dream.

If Zach gets to 10,000 votes, I will gives someone a copy of Shine. No, I don't have an ARC, but I will preorder a copy to be delivered to you. Or we can make alternate arrangements if you'd prefer not to give me your address. I do understand; I don't even let pizza delivery people ring my bell and see inside my apartment... LOL

Finally, if Zach wins (Which we know he will), I will donate a photograph from Scotland from a very talented Scottish photographer, Fraser MacFarlane. The winner will get to pick ONE print from his store and I will purchase it for them.

So get out there and vote. Vote your little fingers off, get your friends and family to all do the same. Comment here to let me know who you are and that you're entering the contest for one of the prizes above. You only have to comment once to be entered for all, but you can only win one prize.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

YA Crush Tourney, Match 4 Incentive Winners

So... There's this thing going on right now. It's called the YA Crush Tournament. Long story short, YA readers around the globe went to a blog and nominated their favorite "crush worthy" characters from any YA books they wanted. The owners of the blog then took the entries and picked the contenders (25 total if I remember correctly), seeded and stacked them, then created a single elimination style face off. Each match was 24 hours long, and the fans voted for who they wanted to move on--either because they loved the character or they didn't want the other to win... Whatever the motivations, the competition was fierce.

As with all competitions, this one had an underdog. He was seeded last, and there were many who didn't expect him to make it to the second match. His name is Zachary Moore, and he is the product of Jeri Smith-Ready's incredibly awesome brain. He's one of the love interests in her YA series, two books of which are already published and the third is eagerly anticipated. In fact, I can't avoid recommending her adult series as well, so here... go. Read. Love. Then... do me a favor, which I'll ask for at the end of the post.

Zach, thanks in great deal to the tireless and ceaseless efforts of his Advocates, Amy and Jen of Fictitious Delicious, not only won his first match, he beat every contender he was up against and is now one of two in the final round. It's somewhat daunting to realize the effort these girls have gone to in order to get him this far. I'm in awe of them.

Throughout the competition, Jeri has been offering incentives to help get voters. One of the big things she's been doing is offering some of her very hard earned money to donate to the Tartan Army Children's Charity. She's had several fans and other writers chip in to help out, including myself. She's offered up quotes from the coveted soon-to-release Shine, teaser scenes ranging from G to PG13, ARCs (a rare and precious thing), and tee shirts. Other fans started chipping in incentives as well. That brings us to the main purpose of this post!

I offered up two incentives in addition to the money I pledged to TACC. The first was a favorite baked good of one random winner. The second was a $25 Amazon Gift Card. I went through the comments section of the Tourney post and collected everyone's name that I could see who voted for Zach and numbered them.

The Random Number Generator did all the work and now we arrive at the winners. The first winner, for their favorite baked good is:

And the second winner, the Amazon Gift Card is:

Congrats to you both! Brooke, email me your address and what kind of treat you'd like! Holly, email me so I can send you the Amazon Gift Card!

And now for the favor. Zach isn't just seeded last tomorrow. Jace is the TOUGHEST competitor to date. With one exception, Jace has always held more than 2/3 the votes of each match he's been in. His last match was still a landslide victory, so don't mistake that statement. We need to muster everyone we possibly can a 9am EST/8am CST tomorrow and get the word spread. Get the voting in. We need to show Jeri and Zach the love, but more than that, we need to show Jen and Amy that all their hard work has not been for nothing. They deserve this win, and I am to give it to them. Please, log on and vote. Spread the word to all of your friends, family, coworkers, cats, dogs, even the uncle that smells vaguely. Get them all to log in and vote for Zach. Jeri has some fantabulous incentives lined up, and this competition promises to be the fiercest one yet. You don't want to miss out!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

YA Books: Too Dark or Hitting Too Close To Home?

Aghast. Astounded. Flabbergasted. Shocked. Disheartened. Dismayed. Utterly mind-frelled.

HOW is this considered accurate, let alone responsible?

For those of you who are part of--or at least tangentially aware of--the writing community, you'll understand what I'm talking about. Even if you disagree with my very obvious opinion on the matter. And I acknowledge that it really is just that: my opinion. It is shared by many MANY people, but I won't go so far as to say that makes it FACT.

For those of you who are unaware of why my outrage is about, allow me to enlighten you.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal posted an article blasting the YA (Young Adult) genre of books. We're all aware, thanks to Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, that the current trend in Teen interests isn't that far off of the adult ones. Vampires, and Werewolves, and supernaturals (Oh my!) abound. The Wall Street Journal has not only criticized but admonished teens, parents, publishers and authors for the existence and participation in this current trend.

Frankly I find it disgusting. When I wasn't a teenager, I was an avid reader. What did I read? In school, I read things like Island of the Blue Dolphins, which made me cry because the ending was so sad. Out of school I read the Sweet Valley Twins series. People might think that's a great, light and fluffy series, but I remember it differently. Sure there was some of that. But I also remember the books that dealt with child cruelty: children were being abused by their parents and didn't know how to speak out and get help; twins had been separated at birth, and the book dealing with their eventual coming together was a very dark themed book, full of suspense and mystery; the traditional April Fool's prank where the leading twin girls dressed as each other each year to fool everyone--but in that book they chose to dress as themselves and all manner of bad things happened which had the best friend sisters very angry with each other--and let's not forget about the book where the circle of friends decided that it would be great fun to have the twins pretend to actually be triplets with the new girl in school. They played other pranks on this girl, too, all because she was new and they thought being mean would be funny. It made me terrifed to move and go to a new school--which turned out to be a valid fear, as I went to 4 different high schools.

As a preteen, my mother handed me The Hobbit. What could be darker than a wizard forcing a hobbit to go on an adventure with 13 dwarves he'd never met and had no desire to accompany across a land frought with danger in order to recover their treasure? Anyone who's read The Hobbit knows it's not a light and fluffy book. It's incredibly dark, filled with things like battle, death, capture, escape, terrifying monsters that will torment you and play with you before finally eating you (those spiders are enough to make the most stout-hearted warrior take pause). My own mother admitted to me at that age when I asked her if she had read the book that she hadn't and never would because as a child she read one of Tolkein's books and it gave her nightmares.

Read that last sentence again and then read the first one of the same paragraph. That's right. My own MOTHER gave me a book by an author who gave her nightmares as a child--before I was 12 years old, by the way--all because she thought >I< might like it. Does this mean my mother was a bad mother, an irresponsible parent? No. It really doesn't. What this means is my mother knew me well enough to know that:

1. I wouldn't have nightmares from it
2. I wouldn't turn around and start acting out the things I found written in its pages
and probably most importantly of all
3. I would enjoy it.

Guess what else I read? The Red Badge of Courage, a story about a guy who enlists in the Army during the civil war. His "red badge of courage" was a wound to the head he suffered while RUNNING AWAY FROM THE BATTLE AND LEAVING HIS FRIENDS AND COMMRADES TO DIE. First off, how is a book about war aimed at children not dark? Second, cowardice! Hello! how is this an acceptable book, but vampires--widely acknowledged to be works of fiction and the imagination--not? When people expressed outrage about the military and "our children fighting an unjust war" (there's another post about my feelings on this; go find it), why wasn't this book held up for condemnation?

I've seen a lot of outrage and anger about this article, and I feel it's well deserved. One of the major poins the article expresses is that this kind of stuf... well here, I'll give you a direct quote:

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.
Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.

Maybe the reason that they went undescribed 40 years ago was due to the same mentality that makes people afraid to ask someone if they're thinking of hurting themselves or *gasps* commiting suicide. I'm subject to annual training on Suicide prevention and awareness. More often than not, I get "looks" because I dare to raise my hand and speak out. I contradict trainers who are only following a prepared set of slides with old data. I answer questions that no one else has the answer to, or simply doesn't believe the answer because "it doesn't make sense". Most people would just rather get through it. I'd rather get the right information out to people who just might need it some day. It's long since been discovered that asking someone if they are thinking of hurting or killing themselves doesn't "plant the idea" in their heads. What it does is show them that someone pays attention to them. Someone cares and wants to help. It gives them a chance, a way, to get help.

Let's also remember that Pathologies described today are done so in a very real way. Not over exaggerating for the sake of shock and sensationalism. Not underplayed to get the credit for touching on it, but doing so in an unreal manner. People who have suffered the same atrocities and traumas in those books can see that they aren't alone. They can turn to friends, family, other people for help or advice. It gives them hope. It gives them the strength to fight on. Some of these books even give teens considering killing themselves JUST TO ESCAPE THEIR REALITIES the courage and fortitude to stick through it, to grow up and pass on the message that what happened to them was not okay. How many of our outreach programs were started by, are currently populated by, people who went through things portrayed in these novels?

Ignoring these topics won't make them go away. Does cancer go away because you refuse to acknowledge or treat it? Did HIV miraculously fade from the planet because people refused to acknowledge it in the 80's? No. Today awareness about HIV is in the forefront of everyone's minds. Prevention and education are talked about. It's become common place. Is that wrong? Should we go back to the says when it was called GRIDS? Of course not. So why is YA wrong?

Ultimately it comes down to parental responsibility. If you don't like what your kid is reading, talk to them about it. Find out why they're reading it. Maybe you've got a great kid who is of the mentality that in order to adequately discuss why they don't like something they feel they have to have read it first. Like politics. The best way to unravel an opponents arguments is to be armed with facts and knowledge about the issues. Maybe your kid feels peer pressure to read it... in which case the conversation shouldn't be so much about why they're reading it but about the acceptability of saying "no" to their friends. Maybe they find it funny that people would actually believe in vampires, werewolves and faeries. If you think the books might be too dark or too violent or too something for your kid, read it first. TALK to your kids, and maybe then you'll understand.

In all fairness, here's the link to the entire WSJ article:

And here's the link to a very good rebutal:

If you're on Twitter, check out the conversation about this topic: #YAsaves.

I read a lot of dark books as a kid, and I didn't feel the need to start doing all the things I found in those books. I was reading sexually explicit books before I was 16 years old. Guess what? I was in college before I had sex for the first time. I was legally an adult and had already voted in my first election. I had already agreed to serve in the military. The books I read didn't make me feel as though I had to run out and have sex, that I was missing out on something. They showed me the complexity of the act itself, the emotions that accompanied it--and often the consquences that I knew I just was not ready to deal with. They reinforced my decision to wait. My friends started having sex at 12.

Yeah, you read that right. 12. I was a hold out, and very nearly bowed to peer pressure a few times just so I could fit in with my friends. And every time, I just couldn't do it. I've never regretted that, and my friends didn't abandon me. They might have made fun of me when i wasn't around, but none of them told me about it. I didn't feel any less loved by them because of it.

Reading about drinking blood, getting violent, hurting yourself--killing yourself--isn't going to put the idea in a kid's head. If the idea is there, it's already there. What it will do is help them to feel less alone, less afraid. And if you've talked to your kids, if you've shown them that you trust their judgement and are willing to talk to them about anything they find questionable or they don't understand--or most importantly, if they need your support and help because one of these books has shown them it's okay to come forward about something they might be going through--guess what? Your kid will feel more comfortable coming to you to frankly and openly discuss what they're reading. You'll probably find that you were right to place your faith and trust in your kids, either because they were free to be mature about it or because it gave them the courage they needed to talk about a very important thing. Would you really want to find out your kid was being hurt in some way (like abused) because they felt they couldn't come to you, and as a result something far worse happened and brought it to light?

Trust your kids. Talk to them. Read with them. Read before them if you feel you have to. Don't criticize an entire genre just because they're exposing reality for what it is through artistry and fiction.

And mom, thank you for trusting me with my reading.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Readaholic: SCAREFEST Giveaway: Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

Readaholic: SCAREFEST Giveaway: Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

I love Jeaniene Frost. Her voice and her writing style easily and quickly suck you in, making you forget that you're anywhere other than in the story watching it unfold before your eyes! Check out the video at this link, as well as the opportunity to win a copy of Eternal Kiss of Darkness!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Our Dirty Little Secret Needs a Shower

NOTE: I am not a trained professional; not on this subject. I just happen to know and understand a few things. This post came as a result of a conversation with a friend who suggested I blog about it since I seemed to have an understanding of the topic. An understanding that I personally feel is lacking across the broad spectrum based on my own experiences and encounters.

In my life, I've been touched by many things, both good and bad. I have wonderful friends, people who love and care about me, and the ability to surround myself with what's most important. I'm approaching "mid-life" and can honestly say that I'm a happy person overall. But my happiness was hard won, not simply handed to me without lessons that allowed me to truly appreciate it for the gift it is. Along the way, my life has been touched by sadness and pain. I know I'm not unique in this. It's not a market I claim to have a major share in, let alone cornered. Loved ones have died, boys have broken my heart--many times beyond what I thought was reparable--friends have stabbed me in the back and betrayed me, but none of this is as bad as what others I know have suffered.

I've watched friends and loved ones suffer under the burden of mental illness and depression. We all know someone who has or currently does. I've been fortunate, however, in that none of my friends have taken that fateful, final step and ended their lives simply to ease and escape what feels like insurmountable pain. Other people I know have had to live through this. They struggle to understand how or why it happened. What could they have done to ease the other person's burden, to help them so that their friends and loved ones would never have felt suicide was the next, right, or only option? So many people left behind blame themselves.

What I wonder, though, is how--despite all the avenues available to us to disseminate facts and information, to educate--there are still so many myths and misconceptions out there regarding suicide that are believed as fact. Yes, that's right. Twice now, I've said it. SUICIDE. It's not a dirty little shameful four letter word, and yet we tend to talk about it in hushed tones behind hands that cover our mouths. We shove it into the dark and hope no one ever knows it's touched our lives.

This is 2010, people. Wake the frell up! Asking someone if they're thinking about hurting or killing themselves is NOT going to make the problem worse. It isn't putting the idea in their heads, or even telling the other person that you approve of the decision to do so. Simply mentioning the word "suicide" is not enough to trigger some magic confluence of events and make it happen. What it IS going to do is show that person that someone, anyone, cares. Someone wants to know what's going on with them, inside their heads and hearts, that someone wants to help. Often, people contemplating suicide FEEL alone and abandoned. It isn't true or rational, but to them it's fact. ASK! Tell them you're concerned about them. Don't be afraid of "making it worse" by talking about it. These people are our friends, our family and loved ones. Show them that they matter to us.

So many people, so un- or mis-informed and confused. Every year, my job requires me to attend suicide prevention training, and I'm amazed at the looks I get when I speak up during the audience participation parts. People who don't realize the reason why the stats for men and women vary the way they do. The same ones who crack jokes and make rude comments demonstrating their callous disregard and ignorance. Yes, men complete suicide 3-4 times more often than women. I'll wait and let you read that again. Got it? Okay. Now take that number and compare it to the fact that women attempt suicide 3-4 times more often than men. Again, I'll wait. Are you with me?

Did you catch the difference? Complete versus attempt. What disgusts me most is hearing that the reason for this is because women are fickle and lack follow through, or that they simply "didn't mean it" and that it was just a "cry for attention." UGH!!! While suicidal gestures often are a cry for help or attention seeking, that doesn't make them any less serious. Nor does it mean that women are not serious when they attempt suicide. Anyone who believes that, do me a favor: go win a Darwin Award. Preferably by way that removes your ignorance from the planet as well as the gene pool.

The truth of this difference is not even close. Men more often choose faster, more violent routes. They opt for a gunshot to the head. Women more often choose methods with those who will find them in mind. Wanting to spare them the horror and mess, they opt for methods such as pills or poisons. That's not to say that women don't choose messier or violent options. Only that more often they don't. It's less gruesome, and easier for friends and family to clean up. So who does this allow for such a drastic difference between complete and attempt? Simple: slower, cleaner methods allow more time for someone to interrupt, to find the person and get them help. Both immediate to save their lives, and long term to help deal with the issues that led them to make this choice in the first place.

We live in a society with all these means to reach out and touch others. Of sharing our lives and thoughts, so why is it so hard to get it out there that suicide isn't something we should hide away in shame? HELP PEOPLE!!! Don't make them too afraid of being judged to come forward and ask help. We need to stop treating this like it doesn't exist, or that people who go through this are worthy of derision and scorn. It's time to acknowledge that it's a very real issue that deserves our attention and care. It's time to start educating people, and for us to take that education to heart. We place such a premium on education for everything else; why not this? Imagine what we could accomplish. Imagine the lives we could save.

((In line with that final thought, here are some helpful links if you'd like more information, and I encourage anyone who has additional resources to add them!))

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bittersweet Agony

There are few things in life as disappointing or painful as the end of friendship. Even fewer than when that disappointment and pain come after months of agonizing over whether or not to keep holding on, to keep trying despite the sting of betrayal and seeming disregard for you or your feelings. After months of suffering at the hands of someone you trusted, regardless of whether you dared to speak openly and honestly, or whether you keep silent and try not to make waves, you finally have a moment that you hope and pray will help settle the dust. Seizing that moment, you have very little hope of a positive, dramatic solution. More, you simply hope for acknowledgment. Instead you find more of the same... and something else. An extra little shove to finally accomplish what you've been trying to accomplish all these months. The ability to step away. To remove yourself from the continued from the continued, consistent pain at the hands of someone you once trusted with your most intimate thoughts.

It's liberating, bringing to a close a situation that has been physically, mentally, and emotionally detrimental for so long. What remains is a lingering question of the friendship. Do you try to mend it now that the external strain causing the problems has been removed? Do you give it time? Or does that make you a door mat, and you're better off simply giving up? Do you walk away and never look back? How can you measure the depth and value of friendship? More over, when does it cease to be worth fighting for?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Spoils of War

This is my blog. It's filled with my words and my thoughts. Sure, I hope you enjoy reading them. I love to see the comments that get left behind, and would very much love to see more. But I realize that so far, I haven't said much. Some of that is simple forgetfulness. I started this blog when I was busy using other methods of conveyance, such as LiveJournal and Facebook. Some of it is plain tiredness or lack of inspiration. Either I have nothing to say when I have the motivation to say something, or I have no motivation, energy or time to put down the thoughts pinging through my brain. And then there's simply this: I wasn't sure it was something you guys wanted to read. Well I refer you back to the first line. That's right, this is my blog and this post is filled with stuff I want to say. I hope you want to read it. I hope you enjoy it enough to comment on it. But if you don't, that's okay too.

Some of you reading this know a bit about me. You know that I am an unabashed novel reader, that I am an out-and-out geek with a love of baking, and a strange connection to the water. I've been blamed for random thunderstorms, and I'm not allowed to sit near campfires until they are well and truly lit because my mere presence puts them out. Many of you know that I harbor aspirations of world domination, one puff pastry, chocolate eclair, or creme brulee at a time. What few of you know is that I am also a US Naval Officer.

I went to college on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship. For four years, I was trained in basic military bearing and leadership. 9/11 held a special place for me because that was the day I had my Military Training at school. We had been dismissed early, well before the first tower went down. I was at home in bed asleep, unaware that the world I knew had already changed forever--and in my opinion, for the worse. My mother called and woke me up with a message from my father asking me not to wear my uniform that day. I didn't understand what was happening and she told me to turn on the news. I flipped to CNN just seconds before the second tower went down. It was in that instant that my life was over. My life ended and a new life began.

The patriotic fervor that swept the nation was amazing. For once, the residents of my city weren't cursing the military or the noises the planes make when flying over head. They stood up and clapped, they shook our hands, and everyone put bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming their love of jet noise. The catch phrase "Never Forget" was coined. The trouble is, we did forget. And we remember all too well. We forget about little things like the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment. We forget about the lessons taught to us in school and by Orwell in 1984. The Patriot Act and its various and sundry additions and tack ons made it through the House and Senate. We cheered as we gave away our rights.

We remember that the perpetrators of the crime were Arabic, that they were Islamic and Muslim. We remember their generic cultural identity and their religion, and we proclaim loudly that any and all Arabs, Muslims, and Islams are terrorists as well! We remember the fear and the pain from those moments, watching 4 airplanes crash, and we forget everything else. To this day we live in a Nation of fear mongering and hatred. Americans who follow the Muslim faith are persecuted because of their choice in religion. This isn't new to the world, but come on guys. Can we not look back on our own history--short though it may be--and remember why our ancestors came here in the first place?

We're coming up on Thanksgiving, and while that holiday is nothing more than a celebration of gluttony and greed at its roots, let's look back at the settlers who started it. Remember why they boarded the Mayflower? Why they chanced a perilous ocean crossing? Because they wanted freedom from religious persecution and tyranny. Why do we forget that now? Why do we forget our First Amendment right to freely practice any religion, but we'll invoke it at the slightest question of objection or hint of censorship to our words? Words that are not protected under said amendment because they are incendiary, because they are "fight words" or designed to do nothing more than grab attention.

I am a US Navy Officer. I am proud of that designation, though there are a few out there who will tell you otherwise. They believe that my desire to be a pastry chef means I am not proud, that I dislike or even hate the military. That simply is NOT TRUE. I'm third generation Navy. Both of my parents were in. My father is a decorated war veteran a couple times over. My brother has served two tours in Iraq since 2003, and there is the potential for another tour in another war zone sometime in the future since he's still in and proudly serving as well. Have I been over to the sandbox? No. My tour in direct support of the war was to help the families left behind while their Sailors went over to play Army and fought in the sand and sun. They kept me safe in my bed at night. The least I could do was everything in my power to make sure their families were okay while they were gone.

Would I go over and play in the sand? If the Navy needs me to go, I will go. Do I want to? Um, no. Who WANTS to go into combat and risk life and limb? Especially today when there are a bunch of people back home who are cursing me for signing up in the first place? Who WANTS to spend their days in blistering heat with camel spiders and sand fleas, far far FAR from any family and close friends (That's not to say you won't have/make close friends over there, but many if not most of my close friends are civilians)? Seriously, if you're chomping at the bit to do it for any reason other than an overzealous desire to serve your country, see the psych ward.

Here's the bottom line. I signed up. I stood in that auditorium with my fellow midshipmen and raised my right hand. I repeated the oath and swore to defend my country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. My Herby Hancock* is on the dotted line (it's actually not dotted, but whatever) and if my country has need, I will see it through. That doesn't mean I agree with it. That doesn't mean I like it or that I have to. Despite the misconception, I am allowed my own opinion. What I do with that opinion ... there are certain restrictions on it, but truth be told, they aren't unreasonable. I'm not allowed to protest or take part in any political rallies, fundraisers or other events IN UNIFORM. See, perfectly reasonable. And no, that's not the only one, but it's the only one I'm giving you.

I didn't agree with this war. Even before the discovery that *gasps* there were no WMDs, I believed we went in for the wrong reasons. But guess what? I don't have to agree with every policy my employer makes to do my job. Just like not every Microsoft Employee has to like or agree with every policy set down by Bill Gates, or whoever is acting CEO now. I whole heartedly agree that what happened in Ft. Hood was a travesty. The treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and GITMO was appalling. Guess what? The US Government thought so too. Remember the trials the US SERVICE MEMBERS went through? The convictions that were handed down, along with sentences? Yeah, we didn't sit on our asses twiddling our thumbs while trying to distract the world with something else just to give those CRIMINALS medals later. I won't claim that every criminal was caught and punished, nor will I comment on whether or not justice was served in the sentences handed down. But I will say this: Stop blaming the entire US Military for the acts of a few. Stop stereotyping and making broad sweeping generalizations. They show your ignorance just as much as they offend me.

By now, those who know me are going, okay... what happened? Why is she going off like this? What did she hear/read/watch that started this word vomit? A Titter friend sent me a link to a blog. It was a well written article by @PaulCarr (Twitter) about "citizen journalists" and their affect on our decreasing humanity during events like the Ft. Hood shootings. I found it thought provoking. I do see some aspects to "citizen journalism" that could be positive, but by and large I get his point and agree with it. Many of the comments however... They left me cold, angry, rage-filled, and in the end, I had a head full that needed to be put down.

It's been an hour since I started this post, if that gives you any indication. My head feels lighter now and I think I might actually be able to sleep. If any of you are still with me, thanks for sticking it out to the end, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please be considerate of others, but be honest.

*I do know that it was actually John Hancock. Herby Hancock is a reference to Chris Farley's Character in Tommy Boy.