"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, November 28, 2008


Bree and some of her friends are playing a digital game of tag, in which the taggee has to post seven random, little-known facts about himself. I have been tagged, and I spent almost an hour yesterday writing about seven very funny and interesting facts. And then when I highlighted the text to format it, it disappeared. And then Blogger proceeded to autosave the blank page immediately afterward. I was less than thrilled and took out my anger on some damn commie Russians in COD 4. But, I'm feeling better today, so I will try again and God help Blogger if it eats my draft a second time:

1) I do not like veggies or fruit, I do not like them, Sam Halibut: this is, in fact, widely known. Less well known is the depth of my hatred for them. Concerning vegetables, the mere smell of about 70% of that genus makes me ill. For the remaining 30%, it's a combination of taste, looks, and texture. This is not to say that I absolutely never eat them. Certain types, like beans, peas, carrots, and lettuce (when it's covered in enough cheese, bacon bits, and croutons to make it taste like anything but salad) I will eat should the occasion demand it. But I won't like it. Corn, when slathered with butter, salt, and pepper, I might even say I enjoy. And some veggies will enter my mouth in one form but not another i.e. I'll eat tomato sauce on pizza or pasta, but I despise the tomato in its natural state. As for fruit, well, I have a zero tolerance policy. Now, there's been much debate over the years as to how this state of affairs came about. The theory I ascribe to dates back to my childhood. I wore a variety of retainers to straighten my teeth when I was young, and was not supposed to eat any food that could crack or break the retainer, or get stuck in it and rot my teeth. Apparently, this encompassed much of the fruit and vegetable world. So, for the sake of my pearly whites, I stopped eating them; and when the retainer finally came out, I never looked back. I've endured a lot of mockery for this little quirk over the years, and some people have wondered if I'm truly healthy (my mom has loudly proclaimed that I'll get scurvy any day now for the better part of a decade). Well, I take my vitamins, and have run four years of collegiate cross-country, four marathons, passed Marine Corps physical training, and ran a 20:26 three-mile a few days ago. I think I'm doing okay without my dirt crops.

2) I once asked a girl not to go out with me: I was in seventh grade, a complete social outcast, hopelessly infatuated, and the only thing going for me was my stunning intellect. I thought that perhaps phrasing a traditional question in a unique way would show her that I was clever, an outside the box thinker, and not a tool like all the other guys. It would take the sting out of "no". But, rather unsurprisingly, she said yes.

3) I have a buy-to-read book ratio of 10:1: I inherited this from my father. My bookshelves have hundreds of volumes, from theology to history to political philosophy to science fiction to an entire shelf devoted to Lord of the Rings. The shelves themselves were purchased especially to house all these tomes. But, I've probably read less than a third of them. This is not because I'm a slow reader; I can finish a book I'm into in less than a day if I have nothing else to do. I usually work through three or four books at once. The problem is, when I go into a bookstore, if I see a book that in a genre I like, or by an author I enjoy (or have heard of, or has an interesting last name), or with a shiny cover, it will probably accompany me to my truck ere the day ends. And don't ask Bree about my month-long Amazon binge from my last deployment (I was on the night shift. I was bored. I had a credit card and Amazon's the only company that delivers to Iraq. What happened was unavoidable, really).

4) Even though I was born and raised in Canada, I do not speak fluent French, nor do I play hockey like Wayne Gretzkey: so stop asking.

5) I didn't wear jeans until my junior year of college: I wore them a little when I was young, but I wore a uniform in high school and lost all fashion sense at the same time. I spent the first two years of college wearing nothing but khakis and cargo pants (some of which turned into cargo shorts, though I didn't know that until Andrew Girard or Andrew Laney unzipped the lower parts one day and changed my life forever). Then I met Bree, who said she would date me on the condition that she be allowed to dress me like a normal person. And after seven years, she's almost done it.

6) I know virtually nothing about football: It's not like I'm completely 'un-sporty'. There was a time when I could have written graduate dissertations on baseball, basketball, and hockey. But football eludes me. I roomed with some of the most pigskin-savvy men on earth during college, and would sit politely in the corner while a match was on, trying to stay quiet and avoid eye contact so they wouldn't ask me embarrassing questions (like what down it was, what team's on offense, etc). My wife has very patiently explained some of the basics to me, while kindly keeping most of the contempt out of her voice. I even bought The Complete Idiot's Guide to Football to study in secret (at least, it was secret until Bree told me football-obsessed commanding officer that I'd bought said book. And between that little revelation and my Canadian ancestry, the CO didn't give me a day of peace until he transferred elsewhere). Thank you Bree.

7) I used to be an even bigger geek back in the day: You think I'm bad now, what with my Lord of the Rings and Warcraft and Total War and BSG and Star Wars and Firefly and current unhealthy obsession with Orson Scott Card? Oh, you don't even know. In my early years, it was bad. I had technical manuals for the original Star Trek and TNG, and could speak intelligently about the contents of both. I had vehicle, space ship, species, and planet guides for the Star Wars universe. I owned the Nitpicker's Guide to Star Trek: TNG, which described filming, production, and plot errors in each episode; and I'd rewind and watch episodes to find them. I spent hundreds of dollars on the Star Wars customizable card game. For our sixth grade Halloween dance, I wore a TNG engineer's uniform complete with authentic communicator pin. I owned a tricorder and two different models of phaser. Using cardboard and construction paper, I recreated various control panels from the bridge of the Enterprise to enhance my playing experience. And I'm going to stop now while I'm ahead. Don't worry, I've mellowed out a lot.


Meghan said...

re: #1 - I think you already do have scurvy

re: #4 - do you remember skating on polio pit freshman year when you were just "the kid who looks like Jack from Dawson's"?. No? I do. fyi. You wore a Montreal Canadians jersey. I only remember that because we had the picture floating around for years. I'd love to know how we managed to get that random group of people together during freshman year!

re: #5 - don't blame your tragic lack of fashion sense on wearing a uniform. I wore a uniform from grade 1 through grade 12, and I still managed to dress like a real person on the weekends. Also, my brother's wife made him start wearing jeans when they started dating. And they say you can't change a person!

Brendan said...

I used to think I was mean for making fun of you in your geek years when I was younger. Your post reminded me today of why I've never really regretted making your life hell - you are a GEEK. But you are also a higher rank, so I respect you sir.

Cincinnatus said...

Hey, in the military you're allowed to say ANYTHING so long as you follow it with "with all due respect..."

Winefred said...

Brendan, you WERE mean, but I found some way to love you anyway. You may have noticed, when you took time off from loving yourself. Sir.

Lois said...

Wow Ian...I don't even know what to say other than Wow. #7 just took geek to a whole new level!