Monday, October 30, 2006

Project Valour-IT

Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops
In memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss

"At that time I had no use of either hand. I know how humbling it is, how humiliating it feels. And I know how much better I felt, how amazingly more functional I felt, after Soldiers' Angels provided me with a laptop and a loyal reader provided me with the software. I can't wait to do the same, to give that feeling to another soldier at Walter Reed. "
--CPT Chuck Ziegenfuss, on the inspiration for Valour-IT

I don't remember exactly how I stumbled across Chuck Ziegenfuss's blog, but it was after he was severely injured as the result of an IED back in June 2005. I became very interested in following Chuck's progress, both from his wife, Carren, and from Chuck himself, as he began to use the voice-activated software, since he was unable to use his hands. If you are a follower of milblogs, you might already know Chuck's blog.

Chuck is now out of the hospital and back at work, now at a University in Pennsylvania doing ROTC stuff, if I recall correctly. It is because of Chuck that Valour-IT got started, and there are many of our military men and women who have gotten injured who are unable to use their hands to type on a computer. Through Valour-IT, these service members are able to be somewhat independent in communicating with friends and family. Please do what you can to help out this worthy cause by clicking on the link on the right.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Well, I had a huge load taken off my mind last night. I sat for my Masters Comprehensive Exam on October 6th, and didn't feel that I was properly prepared and was worried about how I performed. It is a strictly pass/fail exam. I received an email last night notifying me that I had passed all sections of the exam and would be recommended for graduation, pending successful completion of all my coursework. Since I successfully completed all of the courses that apply towards my degree this past summer, I am proud to say I will graduate with my Masters in Elementary Education (M.Ed.) in December. Now, all I have to worry about is completing my student teaching assignment and passing the state certification exams, and then (of course) securing a permanent teaching position somewhere in the Central Texas area.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A little bit of wisdom from Aesop

The Wild Boar and the Fox

A wild boar was sharpening his tusks busily against the stump of a tree, when a Fox happened by. Now the Fox was always looking for a chance to make fun of his neighbors. So he made a great show of looking anxiously about, as if in fear of some hidden enemy. But the Boar kept right on with his work.

"Why are you doing that?" asked the Fox at last with a grin. "There isn't any danger that I can see."

"True enough" replied the Boar, "but when danger does come there will not be time for such work as this. My weapons will have to be ready for use then, or I shall suffer for it."

The moral of the story?

"Preparedness for war is the best guarantee of peace."

You might wonder how I came upon this story. As a teacher-in-training, I have been slowly building a library of children’s books to place in a classroom library once I have an elementary school class of my own. My most recent acquisition was a book of Aesop’s fables. I haven’t read them all, but I did flip through the book to read the moral for each story. This story’s moral popped out at me.

Aesop was right. This story made me think of all those people who think we spend too much money on the military and/or expensive weapons systems or what have you. We will always need a standing military, properly armed and armored, to be prepared for the threats against our country, both current and future.

What specifically comes to mind is the “Star Wars” missile defense system, officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). I was not even a teenager when Ronald Reagan first proposed it. Too young to remember, I’ve heard the “Star Wars” moniker was really intended to make fun of the program. Although SDI fell by the wayside after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first President Bush continued missile defense on a smaller scale, but development went more slowly under the subsequent Clinton administration. Thankfully, missile defense was considered to be important to the second President Bush, and the program was given new life.

Now, with Iran pursuing nuclear weapons and North Korea having just tested a nuclear device, the need for missile defense is all too clear. If critics of missile defense had had their way, we would have nothing to protect American cities from missile attacks from rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. Missile defense is far from perfect at this point, but we are better off with what we do have than if it had been completely abandoned. Just like the Boar sharpening his tusks, our weapons need to be ready for when we really need them, or else we will suffer for it.


Questions mark missile defense
Missile Defense Program Moves Forward