My take on American soldiers to Uganda

I am the daughter of a US Navy veteran from the Vietnam war.  I was an Air Force wife for more than a decade.  My children are still Air Force dependents.  My “oldest child” is an active-duty Air Force pilot.  A close friend is currently serving in Iraq.  I have countless friends in the military world.  But I will admit that I hadn’t paid much attention to the President sending our troops to Uganda to go up against Joseph Kony.  That was until last night.

My daughter invited me to an open event at her school for a group called Eyes Wide Open.  They were hosting the group Invisible Children.  Before I go into all the details I must say how proud I am of my daughter, the other kids attending (with or without their parents) and their school for creating an environment that gives this generation a view of the world that is bigger than themselves.

The group Invisible Children is named for the children of Uganda (and surrounding areas) that are forced into becoming soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the LRA.  Let me give you a mental picture that you won’t be able to ignore.

Going back to my kids.  Here in my office at home I have two of my favorite school projects hanging on the wall.  These were done when each one was in 4th grade, at about 9 years old.  It’s titled “Take Note of ME!” and it’s a sheet of paper that was passed around the class for each student to write something special or unique about each other.  Some of the quotes…
”Drew is good at geogrify”
”You are good with legos”
”You are good at twister”
”Your a tomboy”
”Nice haircut”

Sounds like a pretty fun time of their lives.  They are practically (or totally) grown, these kind of memories make me smile and glad that I kept  things like this.

Now move that 9 year old to Uganda.  You can’t sleep at home in your own bed, you sleep on a crowded floor full of other children in a protected area to keep you from being abducted to fight in the LRA.  You are a lucky one, you have not been abducted and forced to fight for Kony’s army, 90% of whom are children.  Yes, 90% of the “soldiers” in the LRA are children stolen from their families and forced to kill or be killed.  The girls don’t get special treatment, they are forced into marriages with the adult members of the LRA and become their sex slaves at this very young age as well.  Siblings are abducted together and used against one another.  They are made to do awful things in order to save one another from being killed in front of each other.  And even then children are killed daily in front of each other as a form of brainwashing/control so these children stay and fight this awful man’s fight.  People are mutilated for speaking out against the atrocities, their mouths, noses, limbs cutoff.  Their faces burned with acid.  Entire villages are massacred. 

What exactly is the LRA fighting for?  From a fact sheet on the conflict “The LRA are widely considered a murderous cult with "no clear agenda"

You read that correctly. 

I met one of the child soldiers last night.  He escaped at the age of 17 after spending 8 years as a soldier.  His courage is nothing short of inspirational.

So now, how do you feel about our American troops helping?  I hope and pray for the safety of our troops but honestly can’t help but feel that 100 will simply be targets and unable to help save these children.

So here’s your action item.  It doesn’t have to be money you give (though I’m sure Invisible Children would be pleased with that) what I am asking of you, actually demanding of you, is you give your outrage a public venue.  Tell someone, anyone that this rebel army is not the enemy, they are children.  Tell them the 10% of the army that are adults are the enemy.  Talk over dinner with your kids.  Speak to your lawmakers.  Facebook it.  Tweet it.  Blog it.  You have a big voice, use it.


Oh and by the way Time Magazine, your little blurb of 65 words was simply embarrassing, you didn’t even mention the child soldiers.  Shame on you.

wow- stuttering student told not to talk in class

I am starting this by saying that my dad stuttered.  He was often told how stupid he was, he was put down, and even though I know he was a smart man, after decades of hearing it all around him, he certainly affected him.  His stuttering did help when all four of his teenage daughters were dating.  He tended to be quiet around people he’d just met.  The boys picking up his daughters had no idea WHY he was quiet.  They were just flat-out terrified of him.  I didn’t know this until years later and I remember the huge giggle fest he and I had when I told him what I had found out.

So, this 16 year old college student (yes, 16 year old college student, smart kid) is a stutterer.  He has been raised well and knows that his stutter has no bearing on his intelligence.  So, like any other good college student, he participates in classroom discussions.  That is when his professor emailed him and asked him to not speak in class.   Said he was taking too much time. The story link below gives more detail of the experience.  I am outraged.

Seems to me the professor is the one in need of an education.  First, she felt it her place to suppress this student and deny him the ability to participate in his own education.  Second, she was dumb enough to email the kid, so it’s all in writing.  This is just wrong in so many ways.  How dare she make this student feel anything less than the intelligent person he is.

I just wish I could do more to show my support for Phillip.

You ever get so fired up that you just can’t find the words you need to get your point across?  Yea, that’s me right now.  Fuming.

College adjunct tells stuttering student not to talk in class

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday- User Group Edition

Sometimes the days just line up this way, and tomorrow would be one of those days.

Starts at 10am and @xrmvirtual’s tour of the SDK.  I am very excited that we scored the first public tour of the new SDK edition!

xRMVirtual User Group - 10/11/2011 CRM 2011 General SDK Tour

Then at 11:30am I am presenting to @CRMUG my session How to Become an Expert Consultant.  I will share my tips and tricks that have helped me in my consulting career.


And then we round out the day with an actual in-person user group meeting of @SoCoDotNet where my friend Kathleen Dollard is in town to present ASP.NET MVC 3 Architecture.

The girlfriends' trip to Napa

Joy and I work together and went to Napa together and still like each other, so woohoo for us.  We decided to do most of our trip by the seat of our pants and it turned out a great way to plan (or NOT plan) our time.  I will list all our stops in Napa for wine and food so you can go check them out too!

Day 1- DEN-SFO; the day was playing tourist in San Francisco.  Joy had never been, I had but it had been YEARS.  We arrive, grab bags, grab rental car and head to In-n-Out burger for Joy’s first time!  Got the typical yum response.  We went to check in to our hotel (Westin SFO).  Quickly settled and we walked to the BART station and head downtown.  How to buy BART tickets is a whole blog post on its own, so if you are a visitor, just go ask someone for help right away.  I think I’m fairly well-travelled and can figure out public transport all over the world, just not in the Bay area.  We wander around downtown, Chinatown, take the cable car to the wharf and Pier 39, see the seals, eat some crepes.  We met up with a former co-worker (ish) of mine, Salma and had goofy fun.  Acted like kids.

(Joy with random German stranger posing in Chinatown)


Day 2- Drive to Napa.  Our plan was to get an early-ish start, try to avoid traffic but to go over the Golden Gate Bridge.  That took us a little out of our way, but not much.  Pretty drive, easy drive.  We arrive in Napa at our hotel (Westin Verasa) and check in.  While I am checking in, Joy is chatting with the concierge.  There was a wine-tasting tour leaving in 15 minutes and we were on it.  Yup, seat of our pants alright!  The tour was simple.  We were on a little bus, had our driver and 12 new friends and we went vineyard to vineyard all day long.  Our driver Seth from Platypus tours was an awesome guide.  Friendly, informative, etc.  We stopped at several great places, I will details those in a list below.  We got a great room upgrade (full kitchen, 2 full bathrooms, deck overlooking the pool, etc.).

(Rainbow tunnels on drive to Napa)


Day 3- No wine train.  We had hoped to spend this day on the wine train, going from winery to winery.  This is where our spontaneity plan didn’t work in our favor…or so we thought.  There was no room for us on the train until long after we left town.  I tweeted my despair, the wine train replied with ideas and we set off to go stomp some grapes at Grgich Hills Estates.  It was cheesy and it was fun.  We took the tasting tour, learned about the wines, tasted them, learned the history of Napa wine and how Grgich Hills won against the French and started a whole Napa wine movement.  At the end of our tour, Mr. Grgich showed up!  He was a kind and sweet man and it was great to meet a living legend.  Definitely made it ok that we missed the wine train.  We headed back to Napa, took a random turn and drove over a mountain and back.  Saw some great scenery, redwoods.



Day 4- Pool day.  We slept in, relaxed by the pool.  We walked to the market and ate some yummy food, then went back to the pool.  Walked to dinner.  It was a nice last full day of our trip.


Day 5.  This was travel day and we really had nothing planned except a long winding way from Napa to SFO.  We set off in a general direction we needed, turned here, turned here and wound up in Cupertino.  We did the requisite stop at One Infinite Loop (I made a catty comment on Apple software and infinite loops).  We had a quick stop for lunch at In-n-Out.


Here’s our list of food and wine and my opinion of each of them.

Black Stallion Winery- We learned here about the grapes and the soils; Seth gave us a great lesson about the growing seasons and such.  The wines here were yummy and it was the second stop on the tour, we started to loosen up and learn more about each other.  There were rows and rows of grapes next to the terrace where we had our tasting.  You could up right up and eat them, noting the differences and putting together the tastes of the grapes to the wines.


Dominari Winery- Who knew wine could smell like bacon?  Not me.  Well, and I still just have to take their word for it, since I am not the one in a bazillion that could smell the bacon-scented wine.  If I had, then apparently I would have quit my job and become a professional smeller.  The owner of the winery delivered our tasting and gave great stories about the history of her family’s winery.


Grgich Hills Estates- Driving by the estate it LOOKS like what you’d expect a Napa winery to look.  Some old, some new.  You walk in past the huge wooden doors and are immediately almost overwhelmed by the smell of wine.  Lots and lost of wine.  There are barrels and barrels of wine, rack after rack.  The store/tasting area opened right up the racks of barrels.  This was probably my favorite tasting.  The tour guide knew her stuff, she had been at many of the Napa wineries.  We got great Napa history, great Grgich Hills history.  At the end of this tour we met the legendary Mr. Grgich, took some pictures, chatted about wine.  It was one of my favorite parts of our trip.


Razi Winery- First stop on our Platypus tour.  I am a wine kinda girl, but this was my first actual tasting.  I had read the books and thought I knew what to expect.  This was not what I got.  I expected the big ole spitting barrel in the middle of the room of some dark cellar.  It was a brightly lit room, very welcoming.  We got a brief explanation of the wines as we were tasting them.  Had this not been my first, I might have gotten more out of it, but I would certainly go back.


Signorello Estates- First thing you notice here is the view, it is stunning.  The wines had stories, and Bob our server (is that the word for the person that gives you the wine at the tastings?) was nice, welcoming.  you could tell he enjoyed his work.  He also snuck Joy a taste of a rather expensive wine.  The sip she got could have bought more than a couple of Happy Meals.

(at Signorello, whole place looked just as wonderful)


(with our trusty tour guide Seth at our last stop)


Azzurro Pizzeria- Our first Napa dinner.  Yummy pizza, but rather limited menu.  You go for pizza, you get pizza.  Good pizza. High end of affordable prices.  Good wine.

Ca’Momi Enoteca- we walked here on our pool day for lunch.  Was good food and good service.  High end of ok lunch prices, but we had wine with lunch, so that makes the total higher of course.

Cole’s Chop House- yummy, but rather typical expensive steak house.  Very Morton’s-esque, same price range.  Great service.  And here we met the waiter from Cuvee, where we went the next night.


Cuvee- This was a quick walk from our hotel.  We met a waiter from here the night before and he wanted to bring us free food and drinks.  Then a local lady walked (ok, staggered) to our table, sat for an hour or more chatting and buying us expensive glasses of wine.  She invited us out somewhere, we declined and offered to call her a taxi.

Tra Vigne- yum yum yum yum.  We had lunch here on our way to Grgich Hills and our lunch was appetizers.  From the huge hunk of warm mozzarella to my fried risotto balls, yum from beginning to end.  Great service, high end of middle price range.  (almost drooling right now just remembering the yum here)

(mmmm, risotto balls)


I call this picture the saddest in all of Napa…a drop of wasted wine.


Why men are in trouble…seriously? Are you yanking my chain here CNN?

Dear CNN, even though you put the 8pt font commentary disclaimer at the end of this diatribe, you still lend it credibility by linking to it from your home page and posting it at all.

This writer (former US Secretary of Education William Bennett) is an utter buffoon.  He quotes statistics on the decline of men in our society without sharing that women STILL earn less than their male counterparts.  He’s focused on the decline of men instead of the leveling off of the sexes.  He implies that women lacked motivation before and now, suddenly we have it.  And gasp, we’re educated too! 

Sure more men are unemployed than before.  And so are more women.  It’s the economy more than some battle of the sexes.  And then there’s the business aspect of it.  If a man and a woman are doing the SAME job, with the SAME skills, chances are he makes more money.  When it comes time to cut costs, guess what, the company saves more money with they layoff the higher paid (male) worker.  You men have successfully worked yourselves out of a job, then blame it on women.

I’ve raised my kids to know that women and men are intellectual equals.  Each person needs to be recognized for their own achievements, or lack of achievements.  Gender is irrelevant. 

Many many pioneers have helped women in our world achieved the gains we have now.  We still have more strides to make.  We owe it to women around the globe to help them gain the independence they want and deserve.  Women in Saudi Arabia can’t even legally drive their own kids to school in their own cars or to their own jobs.  Women in France are banned from wearing a Burka in public.  These are developed nations.   It gets worse in many places.

If Mr. Bennett feels the need for some commentary based on some fancy one-sided statistics there would probably be more entertainment value to topics such as alien abductions or politics.  This commentary is ludicrous and offensive to all women or anyone that respects women.


Why men are in trouble -