Last week was a pretty good week for the SoCal Brown clan (at least as far as we measure good weeks during these times...). My parents came out for some quality time with their grandson, whom they ooooooed and awwwwwwed with Legoland and whale-watching trips, and who ooooed and awwwwed them in return with his puzzle assembly prowess and his Dr. Evil-like cunning ("here, Grandpa, I ask that you pick me up so that I might show my affection for you. Just kidding, it was to get me closer to my bag of Valentine candy. I can't believe you fell for that. Again"). Okay, he doesn't really talk like that; but he thinks like it. Between that and his stream-of-consciousness dialogue that resembles the dissertations of the Hybrids from BSG and drives Bree bonkers, he's turning into quite an intelligent, well-coordinated, energetic little Ernst Blofeld. The only thing that could've made the week better is if the Marine Corps had actually permitted me to see my parents and beautiful wife and darling child, which it didn't, first taking away my long weekend and then taking away part of my regular weekend too. That's what happens when you're forced to cram eighteen months of pre-deployment training into six. Perhaps we should adopt the calendar of the revolutionary French, and have ten-day work weeks. Hell, let's just cancel Christmas.
With this wonderful schedule it's been hard doing anything but going home to eat, sleep, and do it all again the next day. I've been able to snatch a little entertainment here and there, keeping up with Lost (good but answers need to come more quickly and copiously), watching what I hope will be this year's Best Picture (Hurt Locker), and diving back into some classic old war films like The Dirty Dozen (I'm sorry, but it doesn't age well) and A Bridge Too Far (a surprisingly well-written and directed ensemble epic which I may have to add to my collection). Also coming down the pipe, thanks to eBay, will be my copy of Windows 7, which I can't wait to use to erase the travesty that was Vista. Vista's pretty, but it made me sorely miss XP which wasn't so pretty, but at least stable and could run all my programs and games without difficulty. Now, Vista's at the point where I can't even listen to a song on iTunes without it 'skipping'. I didn't know MP3's could skip; Vista found a way. From what I've read Windows 7 remedies many performance issues, and hopefully I won't be disappointed. And, well, at least I found it at half-price if nothing else works out.
I really have nothing else that justifies breaking my hiatus, so I'll direct you to someone whose life is more interesting (in ways good and bad) than mine, at ambularecumhonore.blogspot.com . This is the milblog of my Navy cousin who went from being trapped in a big steel tube underwater to a completely landlocked country nowhere near water. He's currently attached to a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, engaged in the unglamorous but vital task of bringing that country from the sixth century to - we can hope - the fifteenth century. I jest, but only partly; it's a country where an illiterate farmer can still build a bomb and trigger it with a cell phone. Anyway, he's out there trying to do the good things much of the world likes to pretend America doesn't do, and he'll no doubt have many fascinating stories along the way. Give it a look, and keep him in your thoughts.