Friday, May 28, 2010

Operation Bedding, Or: How I Became Outraged Right Before Memorial Day

As I was leaving for work today, I saw a news spot on Operation Bedding.

Adam Conboy, a soldier serving in Iraq, called his mother, Mary, one Sunday. She asked if there was anything she could send him. He said he could use some sheets and pillows...and asked if there was any way she could send these supplies for the other 40 members of his company.

This request caught Mary off guard, so Adam chuckled and said, "Get Operation Bedding going, Mom."

Adam was killed 5 days later.

In his memory, his mother quit her job and devoted herself full time to ensuring our troops get to experience some of the little comforts of home.

It's a bittersweet story, illustrating the sacrifices of war and the outpouring of support that comes in the wake of those sacrifices.

But seeing this story also made me angry.


The reason this soldier was asking for sheets and pillows is because THEY WERE NOT PROVIDED SHEETS OR PILLOWS. He and his fellow soldiers were sleeping on bare mattresses.

Let me get this straight, government--you have troops in a foreign land, risking their lives, paying them squat while they're away from their families...and you can't spring for $25 worth of bedding so maybe they can get a decent night's sleep?

Our prison population is provided bedding. Hell, the ACLU would be all over the penal system if this weren't the case (rightly so, IMO), yet our soldiers have to rely on charity for the same privilege.

Operation Bedding is a noble cause doing wonderful work, but it shouldn't have to exist.

Seeing the story was a reminder that all of our soldiers make daily sacrifices, from small to large to unspeakable.

Keep them in your thoughts this weekend.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Farewell, 24

Tonight marks the two-hour series finale of 24. I’m really sad to see it go.

I have watched the show from the beginning, intrigued by its gimmick: 24 one-hour episodes, ostensibly in “real time”. I was hooked immediately.

The suspense, the twists, the doublecrosses, the assassinations…I’ve seen them all. I’ve lived through both of the Palmer administrations. President Nixon Logan’s impeachment and fall from grace. President Taylor throwing her punkass daughter in jail. Dennis Hopper with a horrible Russian accent. And yes, Jack's daughter getting caught in a friggin' BEAR TRAP.

(Honestly, this last thing was probably the best thing they ever did with Elisha Cuthbert's character. The most common refrain among 24 fans was how dreadfully annoying Kim Bauer was.)

At its peak, the show became a huge hit. I was something analogous to the hipster who “discovered it first”, though I never abandoned the show when it became popular. There were just more people to discuss it with.

Interestingly, the writers of the show do not write the entire season at once. They write some storylines, shoot episodes, then make decisions from there. This stemmed from the first season, when the creators weren’t sure whether the show would catch on or if it would be cancelled at midseason. They had to have a contingency plan so they could tie the series up if Fox did not pick up more than the original 10 or 12 episodes.

Despite lukewarm ratings at first, Fox had faith in the show and its concept. It paid off in spades. Jack Bauer is now a pop culture icon; most everyone knows the name even if they’ve never seen a single episode of the show. Fox also figured out the best way to run a serial drama is nonstop: the last several seasons, the show has had a 4-hour Sunday/Monday kickoff with no shortage of action, thus getting people hooked. This was followed by a new episode every week without taking a break. No reruns, dammit.

To be fair, the show is a demanding one to follow. Like any serial drama, context and backstories are extremely important. Unlike Law & Order or CSI, an episode of 24 is not a story in and of itself. There is no beginning, middle and end wrapped up with a tidy bow at the end of an hour.

The show also requires a major suspension of disbelief. The world of Jack Bauer is a world where cell phones never die, one can get all the way across Los Angeles or New York in less than 10 minutes, big moments happen every hour on the hour, and there is nothing that a 5’-10”, 140lb. man can’t do; no one he can’t kill.

But damn, the stories are fascinating. My jaw still drops at least once an episode.

And although I will sincerely miss 24, I can’t wait to see how they go out tonight.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saturday: Open House for Architecture / Green Living Buffs

First things first: the wedding was fantastic! It truly couldn't have gone any better. I'll post something when I have time to do it justice.

Instead, just a quick note: Studio 804, a group comprised of architecture grad students at KU, has an annual design-build project every year.

This year, they are constructing a LEED Platinum home in KCK. Besides extensive insulation, the vast majority of the heating and cooling is done passively (i.e. not mechanically).

The open house takes place this Saturday, May 15, from 10:00am-3:00pm.

It is located at 32 S 16th Street. Make a day of it and have some Mexican food on Central Avenue!

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