Monday, September 28, 2009


Well it looks like we can save our house.

My wife got an email on Saturday about a Los Angeles workshop at the convention centre about saving your home called ‘Save the Dream Tour’. There were even mortgage servicers there to restructure the loan. The organization that set this up is called Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, (

The CEO is Bruce Marks, a self styled ‘bank terrorist’, has made deals with the majority of large and small servicing companies. He’s been able to do this because if they don’t he starts a massive campaign against the company, and the CEO personally, until they give in. They don’t like this. They really don’t like this. When we were listening to the presentation they brought up a slide of the big servicer providers they have deals with, Indymac, our servicer was not listed, so we were a little disappointed, but the presenter then said there were a few more not listed that they had deals with, and just as they came in to LA they had signed a deal with Indymac, so that was very good news.

I should point out that Indymac, Countrywide, etc…  are just servicers, not the investors. They are not the ones lending you money, all they do is collect payment, foreclose on you, etc… They are just the ‘servicer’ of the loan.

Indymac has not been good to us. Not at all. Ever since they have had Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) available, they have dragged their feet. All the while calling and calling about payments. Their collectors lied to us on a regular basis, saying they hadn’t received the application, then saying it was denied, saying they needed more information (when they had that paperwork), etc… It got so bad we sent off a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to see if she could help. She wrote back saying she was willing to go to the regulatory agency that oversees Indymac and see what they could do. So while we were waiting on that we decided to make a complaint to the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) ourselves. Well apparently Indymac didn’t like that and denied us because we didn’t send all the proper paperwork. OTS sent us a letter saying the same thing. OTS never contacted us directly either, they just went on the word of the servicer. And the servicer is right, we didn’t have all the paperwork in, because since the paperwork you download from their website doesn’t describe everything they tell you they need. But you’ll only find that out after the fact, they don’t call you and tell you what else is needed, and the paperwork online is still has the original set of requirements. So Indymac is playing the game to say they are working with Obama’s HAMP, but not actually doing anything with it.

So this is why we went to the NACA event. They are very aggressive with these servicers and literally do not take no for an answer. Under HAMP they reduce the interest to 2%, bring down the principle of the loan, and in 5 years the interest starts going back up. With NACA what they figure out is how much payment you can afford, then let the servicer decide how they are going to get to that number. That may mean a 4% interest rate with no principle reduction but turning it into a 40 year loan, or it could be a 2% interest rate, principle reduction and a 40 year loan, whatever it takes to get you down to the payment you can afford. The best thing about this is its a permanent change, it will not go up in 5 years. What change they make is permanent.

So we have started our application process, and once that is done we will have a phone consult with one of NACA’s counselors and very quickly after that we should have an idea of where we stand. One good thing going for us is the fact that we are under about $100k in our loan. Our mortgage is about $250k and the house is worth about $150k. They said the lower the house value is the easier it is to get a restructure done, because the investor does not want to lose even more money if they foreclose. So oddly, this is good news. lol

If you are unemployed they will get you on forbearance where you do not have to pay any mortgage for 6 months, and if you’ve found work in the meantime that is when they will work with you get you a loan you can afford. If at the end of the 6 months you still don’t have work, they will put in another 6 months forbearance, as long as it takes for you to get back to work and able to start making payments again. Very cool.

A vile thing happened while we were standing in line. A realtor started handing out a pamphlet with his information on it that stated he has a program to help homeowners as well. What he really means is he wants to make money off of you by short selling your home. He has a ‘free’ seminar where he will convince you this is the best thing for you to do. He was preying on people who are losing their homes. He has zero interest in saving your home, all he wants to do is make a buck. That's pretty vile and pathetic.

Overall I am relieved though. My wife is happy and so is the mother-in-law. A lot less stress is in this house now.

Oh and the brother-in-law’s dog, Norma Jeane, is doing much better and is looking like she will make a full recovery. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My mother’s wisdom

I just thought I would share this. I read a blog called Rolling Around In My Head, which is a blog of a guy (Dave) who is disabled and he goes around the world and speaks about disabilities. I would encourage you guys to go read his blog, he has some amazing posts. In one he talked about a home care worker that didn't see the man behind the disability, he said, "How do people who don't value the person behind a disability, a disease, an ailment, get into healthcare?".

So I asked him this question, "What do you tell one parent how to deal with the other parent who just refuses to accept the disabled child? What advice would you have given my mother to help deal with my father?". This is what we had to deal with as my father just was never around, and never accepted my disability. I asked my mother the same question and I thought I would post her response here too.

My Dearest Son,
How good it was to talk to you today about family and your disability. Thank you for your questions and insight.

First let me try to explain what it is like for parents to discover their child has a disability. I read a story once that seemed to open up an understanding for me. I do not remember the name of the story or the author, so this is my version.

There were a number of young couples that together were getting ready for a big event. They were all heading for Spain. They studied together, saved money for the trip, learned the language, studied the culture, what to do and not do, and one by one each couple went off and arrived in Spain. There was much rejoicing as each couple shared their experiences with the other couples.

However one couple boarded the plane and instead of landing in Spain, they landed in Holland. Here nothing was expected, or prepared for. It was all so strange. It was a deep shock. Then they found Spain was no longer an option to them and while their friends talked about their experiences, this couple was learning a new language, a new culture, very different from what they had ever known or prepared for.

This is what it is like to become parents of a child with a disability. There is a new land to explore, a new medical language to learn, a new culture of people, most wear white coats and speak in technicalese. Mostly it is an adjustment to a new normal and one where you feel very alone. Your friends are enjoying their children in “Spain” where you thought you were going, and they do not understand your new world.

Internally, most parents feel guilt. They wonder what they could have done to cause harm to this new- born baby. Questionnaires add to this feeling and well-intentioned medical staff continue to probe. “What did you eat during pregnancy? Do you smoke? Have you ever taken any drugs? Is there a history of this in your family?…etc” Of course the medical staff is trying to be sensitive and make their diagnoses but each question raises doubts that bounce off the guilt inside. I used to go through my life and especially my pregnancy in my mind with a fine tooth comb…was it this, was it that?

One of the questions you asked was, “What happens when one parent defects? What happens when one parent is deliberately absent?”
Well, honey, that is what happened to us. We landed in Holland and Dad left for Canada. Although physically he stayed in the family at least for a few years, emotionally he was in a country of his own for most your growing years.

There are always consequences. I believe for myself I went into overdrive, learning all I could about your disability. I went through the maze of appointments, hospitalizations, brace fittings, neurological tests, alone.

It was not always easy but it was never a burden.
Your two brothers tagged along and lived between Holland and Canada. Once I worried about what effect this was having on them. I discussed this with a Pastor who knew our family well and he said “Don’t worry, you have three fine boys who have become stronger and more compassionate because they have experienced sacrifice early in life.”

The fact that I was in a position that forced me to take a strong role may have somewhat alienated Dad, although he always had a choice to join us in Holland (he was a pilot after all). My strength did come from my new faith but before that, inwardly, very early, I accepted you as who you are and was delighted to have a third son. I had no extended family to call upon in those early years and it was very lonely.

Dad went into such a deep denial that he could look at the x-rays of your spine which contained no normal vertebra, a lung which was underdeveloped and ribs on one side that were malformed and crossed over one another, and say, “There is nothing wrong with the boy.” Your lifespan prior to surgery was early 20’s. Dad knew that.

Some of the consequences that I saw in you as you grew into a young boy were delightful, frustrating, confusing and humorous. What a character you were and are. You used the Velcro straps on your brace to make a ripping sound when the teacher bent over on your first day in school. You struggled with things people said to you, questions people asked, or worse, didn’t ask but stared instead. Others just turned away. You felt this rejection and your Dad’s absence. You responded with strangers from the age of four to about eight by lifting up your shirt and exposing your brace and saying, “Hi my name is Brad, and this is my brace.” You seemed to be saying, this is me, all of me, accept me or not. You were quite assertive about this.

With Dad you tried to please him, you wrote the cutest notes to him expressing fun and love for him, (I still have some) and you did things beyond your capacity such as pulling fallen trees out of the woods behind our house. You worked for hours and it was heartbreaking for your brothers and me to see. These actions were your cries to be noticed and accepted.

At school you were teased, and some children thought you were “contagious” and would not go near you. I also experienced comments from neighbors who felt that “handicaps should not be allowed in the school. They take up too much of the teacher’s time.”
As a child you could not have confronted Dad because children do not have the voice or vocabulary to express the pain inside. It’s up to the parents to learn to read the actions as a symptom of something deeper going on inside, rather than just correcting the behavior.

You also had a very strong will which I found frustrating when trying to get you to school on time. I saw no purpose in this at all until I met Sandra’s parents outside the hospital one day and her mom spilled out some of the things Sandra did and said. (Sandra was born with part of a leg and was an amputee) I couldn’t believe my ears! She could have been talking about you.

I do believe that those with disabilities have an inborn compensatory personality and I realized that when, at the age of 12, you went through two 20 hour surgeries. You amazed the doctor’s with your fight. In fact they nicknamed you “Trouper”. It was amazing to see you bravely fight through the pain and learn to walk again.
Brad, you continue to amaze me and I am so very proud of you. I would not change our time in “Holland”. You have taught me many new things and I am richer for it. Our adventures in this country have helped both of us welcome other newcomers who arrive and need some kind of map and someone to encourage and comfort.
To go back to your question, “What happens when one parent is deliberately absent?

I believe in most cases it is because of a feeling of helplessness, and there is nothing worse than for a parent to feel helpless when it concerns their own child. If this is not addressed, along with the guilt most parents feel, it can lead to fractures in relationship.
Sometimes one parent just cannot face it and then the other parent needs to find a support system through other family members or friends or support groups.

There is a grief that takes place as well, with all its stages: shock, denial, anger, depression, acceptance. These may come in waves and in different orders. Most couples will need to understand that they grieve differently. They need help in working this through.
The grief is about the loss of normal, the realization that all their hopes and expectations may need to be redirected to fit the new normal. This grief will be there to varying degrees all through the life of their child. It is a chronic condition and part of living in “Holland”. It’s also a time to shed any selfishness and to realign your priorities about life. It’s a time to grow in character and find out what is important in life.

Some don’t survive, some refuse counsel, some opt out. We never know until we are tested in some way how we will respond. The one thing I know is that others have walked this way before and have paved the way. Seek them out and you will find many stories of survival and rich experiences that will give you hope.

In Dad’s case it led to denial and lack of acceptance, but I believe the issue is not yours Brad, but Dad’s inability to deal with his own guilt and helplessness. It is not that you were “not enough”, but rather he believed at some level, that he was not enough, that he did not have the goods to face something beyond his control. In many ways, he is the one with the disability and sadly he missed all those years.
I also believe it is never too late to build a new relationship with your father and I pray that you will be able to do that. Come from the strong place of forgiveness and the realization that the issues are not yours, but his. He may never own them but that doesn’t mean you can’t extend love to him just the way he is.

Write or call and we can continue to talk. Hope this helps. Love, Mom

Dave  hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but he is a super busy guy, and if he has time to get back to me he will. I would really encourage people to go read his blog, specially those of you without disabilities. You would learn a lot from Dave.

For those with disabilities I would encourage you to find an online support group. I found one for Scoliosis and it has really helped me out. No matter how much my wife tries to understand what I am going through, she hasn’t been there. (not her fault, nor would I want her to go through this, she has her own issues I can’t understand.)

Parents with children with disabilities I would also encourage you to seek out support groups. You are not alone, and how you raise up your child will effect them in later life.  I’m 38 years old now and if I take a class at college I feel my head getting squeezed, literally, there is this pressure inside my head that builds and builds. I have zero problems taking training for work, or learning things on my own, but once in a school setting it comes back. The reason is my father. He pushed and pushed me about school. I could get straight A’s (And I did) but get a lower grade in one subject and he would go after that. Say I wasn’t trying hard enough. I never got any praise for my good grades. One of the things I learned from that was ‘why try?’, its not going to be good enough anyway. The other thing that he did, and where I think the pressure comes from, is when I had math questions I needed help with my father didn’t sit me down and work through it with me, he just yelled at me while working through it. He didn’t show me how to do it, he just yelled at me until I finally figured it out on my own, then he would yell some more that I knew all along and I was just wasting time. It was during those times I felt the pressure in my head.

This is something I am going to need to work through. There are some college courses I want to take and I don’t want to have to fight myself to get through them.

Its been a bit hectic here, my brother-in-law’s dog was really sick and we have been dealing with that this past week. I’ll try and post more.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Ok, I haven’t posted in a while cause I just haven’t felt like it. Lately I’ve been feeling more and more trapped by our situation. It just seems never ending the amount of bad stuff that happens to us. In my last blog update I mentioned our garage door opener breaking and that is still an issue. The mother-in-law is at least somewhat happy with me right now as when she went down to LA help her son with some stuff, she stayed a few days, I went out and raised the sprinklers that had sunk down pretty deep. In one I had to put a 6 inch riser on it. So now our front yard does no look like it has big potholes in it. She was happy to see that. But that’s gonna last maybe a week. lol

A few things have left me in a funk.

1) Jobs. There are none. My wife read an article that said 40% of working age Californians are out of work. Meanwhile the state says the unemployment rate is ‘only’ about 16%, but that doesn’t even come close to the reality of the situation. So finding work in this environment is almost impossible. I’m seeing jobs that anyone can do that are requiring college degrees plus years of experience.

2) We can’t save money. Everything we have is going to food and bills, nothing is selling when I pout it up and its frustrating. I have a ton of cabinet supplies, stuff that is worth a good chunk of money, but I get zero calls on it. So that is frustrating too. In this market it seems nobody is buying anything, and if they are its for so cheap its almost not worth selling.

3) Health. My health is not good, I’m almost out of pills and its a ton of money to refill em. I take Gabapentin and Naproxin. Its the gabapentin that is expensive. I am supposed to take it 3 times a day, but if I do that I run out in a month, and its $130 USD for 90 pills. So I take one pill a day just before I go to bed to help me sleep. In Canada those same pills are $50 CDN for 100 pills. Another reason for me to be back in Canada. Plus I have a number of other medical problems other than my back that need looking up. I need a full scale checkup cause I am just falling apart.

4) Frankly politics in the US is going to the idiots. I really don’t care what side of the political divide you’re on, yelling and screaming over someone you disagree with is not democracy, but its what we have here. Recently 60,000 anti-healthcare reformers marched on Washington, which is great to see them come out and protest. (Although I bet that when it was anti-war protesters they were saying how un-American they were) However the amount of anger I saw was truly scary. One woman reporter was threatened by protesters. She had been interviewing a few of them and after the interview one protester asked her name, so that if they didn't like what she wrote that they could ‘find her’. Then when she refused because she felt threatened a woman with a megaphone started screaming she was from Acorn and had a bunch of people surround her. This is not democracy, that is thuggery. So I’m just really disappointed that US policy is being made to appease this segment of the US population. The lunatic fringe should not be setting policy.

Add to that the pundits and talking heads of the republican side are just fanning the flames of this idiocy. Outright lying about stuff. It doesn’t matter if its pointed out its not the truth because they’ve already hit their target market with it, and the media puts on 4 republicans for each democrat, so its hardly an unbiased media.

I guess I feel this ‘model of democracy’ is anything but. And that saddens me.

I also got some bad news. I wrote to the Canadian consulate here in LA to see if they have any programs to help Canadians get back home, and the answer is no. So I’m really disappointed it that. I guess the next step is to write to Prime Minister Harper and see if he’ll help. It never hurts to try does it?

I did talk with my mother last night and she did calm me down a bit, but I’m still in a funk. My mother is great and I am blessed to have a great mother like her. She is just so supportive and just listens to me bitch without complaint. While my mother and I have not always agreed on things, she has always been there to help me through difficult times.

So thanks mom!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mother in Law Part III

I haven’t done a mother in law update in a while, and I was reminded of this last night when I read a blog I follow. (You should go read Dave’s stuff on a daily basis, so very very good.) The woman he talks about is a lot like my mother in law, without the chatterboxyness. One phrase really sticks out at me, ‘It was the smell of hope, dead and mouldering on the floor.’. That’s pretty much the way my mother in law is.

She has had a hard life. She was old enough to remember when the Germans came into her home country and killed her father and grandfather in front of her family during WWII, and dealing with all the troubles after the war as well. She has never had a loving marriage having had two arranged marriages, both of which she pushed for. So she doesn’t believe in a loving marriage, she just brushes that aside. Also has has lost a daughter to cancer and that has effected her deeply. She goes to the grave every day, and has turned part of the house into a shrine.

I also understand her frustrations with me, to a point. When I came here I was not able to work until I got a green card, and that took 3 years because we could not afford an immigration lawyer right away. So I understand her complaints about me not working during that time. I’m not to happy about it myself. However when I did start working she just switched complaining topics about me. I wasn’t doing enough around the house, I wasn’t cooking enough, I didn’t care, etc… She has said some pretty vile things about me to my wife, which is also pretty unacceptable.

Now that my back is worse than ever and am not working she starts complaining about that again. I am looking for work, but its difficult to find a job here in California when you have a disability, and there are not many jobs for healthy people. The Department of Rehabilitation here says not to tell prospective employers you have a disability. Which I just think is so wrong, not only on an ethical level, but also on a shame level. They make it seem as though having a disability is a shameful thing. I really do not like that attitude. I’ve actually gotten more responses from employers when I mention it, and how its not going to keep me down but only motivate me to do better, than  do when I don’t mention it.

Ok, back to the mother in law…When she complains about me not doing anything around the house, she’s right. I don’t. Not when she is around anyway. In the past when I have done things she has just complained nonstop about the mess or the length of time its taking or that I’ll never do what I set out to do, etc… I went through that a bit with my father, where nothing I did was good enough, I’m certainly not going to take it from my mother in law. I’ve removed two tree stumps from our yard and both times she has said that I’d never be able to do it, yet when I did do it she just shrugs. I installed plywood in the rafters of the garage for more storage space, then painted the rafters and plywood a bright white to bounce back light at night. She complained the entire time I did it, said it was a waste of time and I should not be bothering. When I was finished at what I set out to do worked very well, the single bulb lit the entire garage nicely, she just shrugged. I’ve mentioned painting the living room and hallway before, where I did a professional job, not the hack job of painting she does. But she complained the entire time I did that too.

Lately she has been better, sort of. The garage door opener broke, so she’s been unhappy we can’t afford to get it fixed yet, she’ll keep mentioning it as if we can miraculously get it fixed. If she’s upset at one of her sons or grandchildren she takes stuff like this out on us. We may have nothing to do with it, but we have to pay. This is fun…

Her church puts on a festival each year and she’s out baking for it right now. The house has a completely different feel to it when she’s out. Its a horrible thing to say, but its the truth. When she’s goes away for a month or two my wife have so much less stress. We are far more relaxed, our relationship is much better, we laugh more and we have sex more. All in all we are a much better couple when her mother is not around. Can you wonder why we need to get out of here?

Monday, September 7, 2009

An American Medical Story.

A number of years ago I had been having abdomen pains for a few days, getting worse each day. I was having problems sleeping and just in general very uncomfortable. My wife finally convinced me we should go to the emergency room. (I had no insurance at the time)

So off we go to the emergency and I was registered in pretty quickly. We should have brought a book, hell we should have brought a cot, cause I waited for 8 hours. At the 6 hour mark they took some blood though (I hate needles). Two hours after that I was brought into the back and put into a room. Where I waited some more.

I should mention at this point I was freezing cold and my back was killing me. It was 50/50 on what hurt more, my back or abdomen. When I have to deal with other types of pain my mind cannot hold off on my normal back pain, so I end up getting a double dose. Fun stuff.

There I am, finally in a room, in even more pain than when I walked in, and freezing cold on top of this (their air conditioning works wonderfully, but I’d say a tad too cold for my taste). In walks a male nurse who talks to me a bit to see how I am doing and what the problem is, the usual stuff. He then tells me he’s going to get morphine for me. I tell him thank you, but no thank you, and ask him why he is wanting to give me morphine. He says that is normal practice for people coming in complaining of stomach pains to just give them morphine, he said a lot of people just want the fix, so the hospital just gives them a pill (or shot or whatever) and they leave. Yeah that’s not me. I came to see what the hell is wrong with me, not to get a fix.

I have to say he was a really nice guy and we talked about healthcare in general at this point and I tell him my Canadian roots, so we talked about Canadian healthcare for a bit too. He was not very happy with a lot of the system he works in, and he said a lot of nurses feel the same way.

A little bit later in walks a doctor, I’d say he was in his 30s somewhere, probably upper 30s, a little older than my wife & I at the time I’d say. So he pokes and prods my stomach, asks if I am normally this ‘distended’ (when my wife reads this, I guarantee she’s laughing, I’ve never been able to live that down. But hey, when you’re supposed to be over 6 feet tall, but your back is held at the same size when you were 12 years old, and all your innards for a six foot tall person are squashed inside, you’d have a little belly too!). So the doctor says that he’d like to do a CT scan on me to see what the problem is. Except for the fact that CT scans do not work on me due to the metal in my spine (I’ve had one done, so I know this for true). I explained this, and he still wanted to go ahead with it. I asked how much money it was, because we don’t have insurance, he said $1,000. I said, ‘No thank you!’. lol

So I ended up with an xray, which found the problem. After 8 hours on sitting in the waiting room, in pain, freezing, and my back acting up, then being thought I was a junkie looking for a hit, then being told they want to do expensive imaging on me that simply will not work, I found…

That I am full of shit.


I was constipated for 5 days and that was the problem.

And yeah, I’ve never been able to live that one down either (there goes my wife laughing again, cause now she has ‘proof’ of my full of shitness).

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The last few days have not been good for me. I've been in a lot of pain and not sleeping well. On top of that the weather has not been very nice. As a born and bred Canadian I'm not built for the hot weather here, add that to my pain and its not been fun.

My wife has been giving me massages the last few nights, which do help but I think my body rebels. I think it wants its knots back. lol

Today I really haven't been able to do anything really, just kinda mope a bit. Pain is distracting when you try and do stuff.

Well thats about it really, like I said, pain is distracting.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The hearts and minds of war

I’ll come right out and say, I’ve never been in the military. If you’ve read my ‘Disability’ post, you know why. I did grow up in a military family though, my father was a pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces and in his early career flew off the Canadian Aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure. I probably would have followed him into the service, as of us 3 sons I was the one most interested.

I should also warn you this is probably going to be a longer post. I have a lot to unload. I just hope I get it right.

So what is this about? At the beginning of the Iraq war the Bush administration talked about winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Iraqi people. My belief, which you may not share, is that he actually did win the hearts and minds right at the beginning, but then lost it. The longer we stayed, the more Iraqis got pissed off. Probably one of THE best Iraqi blogs was from Riverbed who wrote ‘Baghdad Burning’. She wrote:

"Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them. Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue. Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so." - Riverbend, December 29, 2006

I’d like to point out that someone created a fake Riverbend blog called ‘Riversbend’ to try and discredit Baghdad Burning. I can only guess they didn’t like what she was talking about. Most likely it was someone who was pro-war, and most likely someone who has never been in the military.

I can’t recommend enough that people go read Baghdad Burning. My original link goes to her first archived post, and you can go from there. If you want a different viewpoint that what the mainstream media has fed you the past 6 years about Iraq, she is definately a good read. She left Iraq in 2007 and her last blog is Oct 2007. I haven’t heard if she has a new blog now or not. I hope she is well.

Lets go back a few years, actually lets go back 64 years, to WWII in Japan. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Moriwaki Yoko, but she wrote a diary talking about her days and her thoughts while her father was of at war. She died when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She wrote:

June 5: Today right now the battle on Okinawa continues. I think the girls' school students in the US and in England probably stand united. We cannot let them do that better than us. We cannot … During the day while I study, Osaka and Kobe are attacked by enemy planes. Probably there are students like me there who are being bombed into tiny pieces like cherry blossoms. Classmates, we are fighting the enemy at every turn. You can sleep peacefully under the ground.

There is two things about this statement that amaze me. 1) She understands that there are girls, just like her, who stand behind their fathers who are fighting against her country. Yet it doesn’t appear that she hates them. By looking at the media and the pro-war people this is something completely unknown to them, more in fact it seems they actually revile everybody other the other side, there are no innocents in their eyes. 2) She understands war, and its worst effects. That ‘real’ people are dying. If you remember during the actually fighting in Iraq, the American media showed planes taking off, soldiers and tanks, all showing off the American military might. However Al Jazeera (Arabic media) showed the dead bodies from the bombs dropped. The American media hid the cost of war from the American public, to keep the pro-war hysteria up. The cost to American soldiers was even kept hidden from us as we could not even see the flag draped coffins returning home. The Canadian PM Harper tried to do the same thing, and the Canadian public went ballistic, he had to reverse his decision from the pressure.

It seems to me that American culture has become very pro-war, specially with the media and the government hiding the true cost of war. Eight out of ten pundits seem to be of the pro-war variety, the vast majority of those have never seen service either. I get the feeling they just get off on the power of playing ‘army men’ with real soldiers, but don’t actually think of them as real people.

The other hidden cost of war is the soldiers returning home. What help is being given them? Suicide rates are very high, the new GI bill is having problems and in general I don’t feel the Pentagon really cares one way or the other about the Vets. Politicians (of both parties) play lip service to supporting the troops, yet their voting record shows the exact opposite of what they are saying.

My grandfather , who I am literally waiting for the phone call to say he has passed on (he is very sick and in the hospital), stormed the beaches of Normandy on Juno Beach. His best friend was beside him one second, and the next only his boots remained. That and the fact that terrible things happened in war are the only things he has ever said. I have never pressed him for more information as he gets really sad and withdrawn when talking about the war. We live in a different age and now we have soldier bloggers and soldiers writing books.

Which bring me back to where it all began. My friend told me about House to House a book by a soldier in Iraq and his accounts of Fallujah. Its on my Amazon wish list now, so I haven’t read it, but my friend said it was a really powerful book. And that conversation started me to writing this post and the one previous to it. What was my intent? I’m not sure, but war is a terrible thing and we should always believe it to be so. I’m not anti war, but I am anti war propaganda. We should also keep in mind that our ‘enemy’ is not every person over there, its only those taking up arms against us. If we truly do want to win the ‘hearts and minds’ we cannot dehumanize our opponent, nor discount why they fight us. If we do we only supply more propaganda for their side. This is not weakness, but strength, strength of character and something we are supposed to uphold.

Think about it.

(told you it was going to be a long post)

Again ignore this.

Windows Live Writer seems to want to edit my last post rather than post a new one, so I'm adding some fluff posts in between. So my appologies. I hope to get this figured out soon.